Soon after returning home, Yi Hui really had a fever.
The heat was menacing, engulfing almost all of his consciousness. In a daze, the only thing he could recognize was the tall figure in front of him, walking into the dark night.
Out of habit and instinct, he wanted to chase and touch him, but the remaining sense of reason forced him to stop. He could only stand still and watch the figure go further and further away.
It was afternoon when he opened his eyes again. Jiang Yimang was sitting by the bed, cross-stitching. Seeing that Yi Hui was awake, she hurriedly helped him to sit up and delivered the prepared warm water to his mouth: “You have been talking in your sleep for as long as I have been sitting here. Are you thirsty? Quickly drink more.”
Yi Hui was startled; forgetting about drinking water, he asked hastily, “What did I say?”
Jiang Yimang smiled slyly: “You said everything, who you like and who you hate, I heard it all.”
Seeing that she was teasing him, Yi Hui breathed a sigh of relief and thought that he probably didn’t say anything shocking in his sleep.
After drinking water, he felt a lot more comfortable. Yi Hui thought about the unfinished paintings and immediately devoted himself to work.
Jiang Yimang helped him put a small table on the bed and asked while plugging in the notebook: “Brother, did you come back alone today?”
It was almost dawn when Yi Hui got home. He didn’t disturb Jiang Xuemei and Jiang Yimang who were sleeping. He opened the door and went back to his room. Jiang Yimang felt strange when she woke up early in the morning and found him lying in his bed.
“En,” Yi Hui lowered his head to fiddle with the tablet, “alone.”
Jiang Yimang pointed to the supermarket shopping bag that was placed next to the backpack: “Then who bought that?”
Yi Hui said without looking at it, “Me.”
“Tsk tsk tsk.” Jiang Yimang finally found a loophole and stretched out her hand to take out a handful of candies and chocolates from the shopping bag, “You bought these too? Bought so much just to climb a little hill…”
Yi Hui was taken aback for a moment, then casually came up with a reason, “There was almost none at home, so I bought more along the way.”
On the other side, Jiang Yimang was still rambling about her guesses and suspicions. Yi Hui looked at the pile of colorful packages and fell into his thoughts.
When he was in the convenience store, it seemed that he did see the man wandering around the candy counter for a long time. He didn’t pay attention to it before, but now he realized that he actually bought so much.
Different flavors of gummy candies, toffees, fruit candies, lollipops, chocolate beans of different shapes, chocolate bars and individually packaged cream pastries. The man didn’t like sweets. He used to ignore these things without even a glance. Now he would spend his time carefully selecting them. Yi Hui was surprised and couldn’t help but feel a little confused.
In the past, he felt so disgusted. He sneered at him for being childish and he was annoyed that he made the house smell sweet and greasy. Why could he find it tolerable now?
Yi Hui shook his head silently, interrupting this useless thinking.
Maybe it was because it felt fresh. Or maybe the man was unwilling to accept that the gaze that had always followed him was gone.
Anyway, it wouldn’t be because he liked him.
Perhaps what he’d said before the parting was hurtful enough. In the next few days, Zhou Jinheng disappeared and never appeared again.
Intuition told Yi Hui that he had really left this time. As a result, his life got back on track. He painted every day, did housework and went out for a walk at regular intervals. In addition to feeling that the neighbors around him still took special care of him, everything returned to normal.
Even that last doubt did not linger for a long time. One day he received a gift from Jiang Yimang, a set of molds for making chocolates. The patterns were clear, excellently made, not blurry at all. There were also some pieces with various Doraemon styles.
Yi Hui examined it carefully. It didn’t look like it could be bought at the stationery store in front of the school. When he told Jiang Yimang to be honest, her eyes flickered: “The stationery store in our school is amazing. You can get anything there. I don’t go there frequently but I asked the boss to pay attention to it for me when he bought the goods, and he brought it for me.”
Yi Hui was half convinced. After all, the girl was attentive; she could choose random trinkets that would be exactly something he liked.
He seemed to have figured out her previously unclear motivation for giving gifts. Likely, the Jiang family’ mother and daughter discussed privately what to do to take care of the recent ups and downs in his mood and even asked the neighbors to pay attention to him. Other than that, Yi Hui couldn’t think of anything else.
The mother and daughter refused to tell him, so he pretended not to know. While enjoying their care, he used his own way to give back to them as much as possible.
For example, the group portrait of the girls painted for Jiang Yimang and her little sisters ended up not costing them a single dime.
The girls were very upset. They said that when they looked at the portrait, they knew how much effort it took to draw it and him not charging them a cent for it weighed on their conscience.
Yi Hui smiled and said: “It would be nice if you recommend me around and help me get more work.”
He said it casually, not expecting that the girls would take this task seriously. The ones with more followers posted, the ones with less followers shared it to their circle of friends, and the ones who were in the circle with Jiang Yimang even sent it to the major fan groups and super topic, shouting for more work for him.
The effect was very significant and orders were pouring in, most of them avatars and sketches. At first, Yi Hui didn’t pick and would not refuse anyone who came. If they had an order, he would take it. Later, there was too much to draw, so he had to set a rule – only two orders were taken a week, and if the composition was complicated, the term would be longer.
In addition to the strong publicity arranged by the girls, Yi Hui’s good painting skills were also one of the important reasons for this “prosperous business”.
He had studied painting for more than ten years, getting up early every day to practice his basic skills in any weather. So even though his brain was not smart in his previous life, the time spent was not wasted. His basic skills were solid, and now he had broadened his horizons and had plenty of inspiration. The works that came out were better than the others, which quickly made him hot in the circle of online artists.
At first, Yi Hui didn’t understand what “hot” was. Jiang Yimang told him that the most intuitive proof of “hotness” was the increase in the number of followers on Weibo. Yi Hui checked it. In the past, posting on Weibo was equivalent to talking to himself. Now, not only did people like and comment, but also reposted if he posted some interesting photos.
Yi Hui, who had tasted the taste of popularity for the first time, was both happy and a little frightened. If someone else became popular, they might start to play tricks and do their job half-heartedly, but Yi Hui did the opposite and became more diligent. He put all his heart into completing every job he received. Even if Party A was satisfied, he would take the initiative to raise the standard and try his best to be perfect, fearing to ruin his brand.
The consequence of it was that the time spent on painting was increasing day by day. That day, he finally had some time to make chocolates and put the filled molds into the fridge. When he closed the fridge door and looked up, his gaze fell through the kitchen window at the courtyard. He suddenly noticed that the loquat tree had already lost half of its leaves; some of them had fallen onto the chairs under it while others were blown to the ground by the wind, giving rise to a strange sense of desolation.
The climate in the south was warm and many flowers and plants stayed green in all the seasons. After living here for a long time, he almost forgot that winter existed.
When he returned to his room, he picked up his mobile phone and posted a Weibo: Is it snowing in your place?
The Internet brought together people from different places. Not long after he posted it, the comments were full of various geographical names from all over the country. Some people said sadly that they had never seen snow in their lives. Some people said that it was raining for the second time this year. And someone asked him if he had never seen snow and if they should send him a street scene of the capital.
Yi Hui, a blogger whose hometown was in the south of the country, smiled secretly, thinking that since half of his family was in the capital, wasn’t it easy to see the snow?
Even though he thought about it, he didn’t dare to contact his brother and sister-in-law who had settled in the capital, fearing to scare them. But he secretly followed them and knew that they were doing well.
When he was about to exit Weibo, there were two more new messages in the private message box, sent by Dora-Hum-Hum: It’s snowing.
Yi Hui clicked on the photo to see. The picture seemed to be taken standing in the house and looking out the window. A thick layer of snow was piled on the low roof cornices and laid on the simple carved window frames. A red plum branch leaning against the window only vaguely revealed two or three flower buds.
Yi Hui replied: You haven’t gone back yet?
A while ago, Dora-Hum-Hum said that he was going on a business trip abroad and then he sent some local photos every few days. Yi Hui hadn’t been to too many places and he was very interested in the beautiful red walls and white tiles in the photos. Dora-Hum-Hum started sending photos every day, so Yi Hui knew at first glance that he was still away on a business trip.
Dora-Hum-Hum: En, I have to stay here for a while.
Yi Hui hadn’t been to work before, and while thinking what it would feel like to travel so far for business, he typed: Then Hum-Hum, do you want to go home?
One word came back from the other end: Yes.
Yi Hui curled his lips, feeling that this guy’s reply was too simple and he didn’t know if he really wanted to or he was answering perfunctorily. After thinking for a while, he asked: Who else is in your family besides you?
In their daily chats, Yi Hui unknowingly talked about his family situation. Occasionally, after the excitement passed, he remembered that he should repay the courtesy and care about Hum-Hum’s family situation.
Dora-Hum-Hum: There is also a younger sister.
Yi Hui was puzzled: No one else?
Yi Hui felt uncomfortable when he heard it. He knew the suffering of not having a mother better than anyone else. He did his best to comfort Dora-Hum-Hum: I also have a younger sister, and my younger sister is the cutest [cute]
It didn’t seem to have any effect, and after a while Dora-Hum-Hum sent another “en”.
Words have their own temperature. They could naturally make him perceive the low mood of the other party that had not improved since the day he had confided in him. Yi Hui’s emotional experience was basically non-existent and he didn’t dare to make suggestions casually, so he tried to encourage him in his own way: You still have me [heart]
Dora-Hum-Hum: You are so busy painting for others all day that you ignore me.
Seeing this aggrieved sentence, Yi Hui felt like a husband caught flirting with others and blushed to the roots of his ears: No, that’s just work… If you want, I’ll draw for you too!
Because of this promise, Zhou Jinheng, who was far away on the filming set, was distracted for the whole afternoon.
Half of it was excitement; HuiHui was finally willing to paint for him again; the other half was hesitation. The opportunity was not easy to come by, what to ask him to draw?
When Yang Chengxuan came to visit, the snow had just stopped and the sky was dim. In order to maintain the antique style of the filming set, there were few street lights on the side of the road. Fortunately, the white snow on the ground reflected the last remnant light on the horizon, illuminating the semi-open manhole cover.
“F*ck, what kind of sh*tty place is this?” Yang Chengxuan cursed and jumped away, pulling Zhou Jinheng with him. “I told you not to shoot this crappy series. Shouldn’t it be miserable enough to fall off the wire before? The scar didn’t heal yet but you’re rushing back, are you too idle?”
Zhou Jinheng gave a noncommittal “en”.
After walking around for a while, Yang Chengxuan realized that he was still absent-minded and didn’t listen to him at all.
Back indoors, sitting on the sofa, Yang Chengxuan unceremoniously took a bottle of drink and opened it, guzzling down half of it like beer before slapping it back on the table: “Come on, let’s talk. What’s the new problem this time? You don’t know what gift to give? Or is he ignoring you again?”
The two of them were buddies from childhood to adulthood. They argued and quarrelled often. It didn’t matter; within a few days, they got in touch again as if nothing happened.
Yang Chengxuan had been watching from the sidelines without a word before but now he came all the way to provide advice. He figured that as long as Zhou Jinheng was chasing a living person, he would help him as a friend. Regardless of whether he misidentified, moved on or was looking for a substitute, the result would be the same.
He still remembered how Zhou Jinheng looked when he returned from climbing the mountain last month. He really didn’t want to see this guy look like he’d lost his soul again. If he could help him, he would.
Yang Chengxuan said half jokingly: “In my opinion, you might as well just tie him up and take him home. Is there anything that can’t be solved by some interaction in bed? If there is, then do it twice.”
When it came to matters related to Yi Hui, Zhou Jinheng finally seemed to hear him. He frowned and said, “No way.”
He didn’t dare to mention the words “go home” anymore. He knew that if he said them, he would definitely be blocked by Yi Hui’s sentence “You are mistaken.”
Although these denials hurt him, he left the town not because he was afraid of pain but because he feared he would not be able to control his emotions. His self-control seemed to stop working in front of Yi Hui. He didn’t want to scare Yi Hui; his little fool could no longer withstand even the slightest bit of wind and rain.
It was better for him to arrange everything and leave. He could always find out what was going on over there anyway, and take the opportunity to approach from another direction. The long-awaited success allowed him to breathe easier, and his stabbed and bleeding heart seemed to start healing.
“He promised to draw for me.” There was a smile in Zhou Jinheng’s eyes, as if he was thinking of something good in the past, “I’m trying to think of something for him to draw.”
“Yo, that’s good.” Yang Chengxuan applauded weakly, “That’s a milestone victory, isn’t it? Let’s go out for a drink tonight?”
Zhou Jinheng shook his head: “No, I promised him to go to bed early every day from now on.” After thinking for a while, he said again, “Since you have a fixed partner, you should also go out and fool around less.”
After being lectured by Zhou Jinheng for the first time, Yang Chengxuan was a little upset and casually replied: “The fixed partner is crap, it’s just for fun. I’m different from you. It’s easier for me to pull out than pulling a trouser belt.”
At that time, he was thinking about something else and didn’t pay attention. It wasn’t until he took a shower and laid down in the evening that Zhou Jinheng began to think about the words “pull out”.
In the past few years, what he longed for most was to pull out of that marriage, and it was best to get out of it alive and in one piece. But now, he was clinging to that little illusory tie, stubbornly trying to continue it.
Zhou Jinheng closed his eyes and slowly exhaled a cloud of turbid air that had been stagnant in his chest for a long time.
He could not let go of Yi Hui unless he managed to completely remove him from every image in his memory, leaving not a trace of him behind.
But he couldn’t do it.
Fortunately, he couldn’t do it.
The words “I hate you” still sounded in his ears, each subtle note of it trembling. The more he thought about it, the more obvious the strenuous intention of resistance.
The corners of Zhou Jinheng’s lips rose in a faint smile.
So what if you hate me? Unfamiliarity can change to like and dislike can change to like again.
What’s more, he was offering his heart in exchange this time.
On a sunny morning, as soon as Yi Hui picked up his mobile phone, he received a message from Dora-Hum-Hum: Good morning.
Yi Hui rubbed his eyes with one hand and typed with the other: Morning [sleeping]
Dora-Hum-Hum: Didn’t you wake up? Why don’t you sleep for a while more?
Yi Hui lifted the corner of his mouth: No, need to get up and work [cheers]
After sending each other breakfast photos, Yi Hui drooled over the sweet tofu brains and sesame dumplings in the photo of Dora-Hum-Hum. Then he suddenly remembered business and asked: Have you thought about what you want me to draw?
Dora-Hum-Hum: En, draw something you like.
This answer left Yi Hui scratching his head: Shouldn’t I draw what you like?
Dora-Hum-Hum: I like everything you like.
Yi Hui inexplicably found this comment ambiguous, only to assume that Hum-Hum was too kind and did not want to make things difficult for him. He thought for a moment and suggested: Would you like me to draw flowers?
Yi Hui: Roses?
Yi Hui: You really like roses [insidious]
This time Dora-Hum-Hum didn’t say “okay”: He likes them.
Yi Hui, holding the phone, was stunned.
Roses had a special meaning to him. If the other party didn’t like them, he didn’t want to draw such a special kind of flower casually, especially if it was for someone else.
He had only given roses to one man, only once, although that man didn’t care at all.
He didn’t know if Dora-Hum-Hum noticed his embarrassment but he changed his words: It’s better to draw other flowers.
Yi Hui breathed a sigh of relief: Okay, as long as you can tell the name of the flower, I can draw it for you!
Yi Hui learned from him: Uh-huh [cool]
Dora-Hum-Hum: Are fireworks okay?
* fireworks in chinese translated directly is smoke flower