July and August were the hottest months in S City. Even though Jiang Yihui was born with a cold body and experienced baking in the heat in the small southern town, continuing it in another place was still quite unbearable.
Yi Hui never took the umbrella that was prepared at the door. Once, the housekeeper stuffed it into his bag. When he came back in the evening, he put the umbrella back in place.
“Are you afraid of being laughed at by others for using an umbrella?” Auntie tried to persuade him, “The sun is so hot outside, so boys also should protect themselves from the sun. Be careful of heatstroke if you go on like this.”
Thanks to her kind words, the KFC closest to home was full that day. Yi Hui walked two more streets under the scorching sun to find a coffee shop with empty seats. While he stayed indoors, he felt dizzy and sweaty. He came out of the coffee shop at night and was stunned by the oncoming heat wave. He got home and collapsed before he could eat.
Auntie’s working hours were from 9:00 in the morning to 7:00 in the evening. She was afraid that Yi Hui would have no one to take care of him, so she didn’t leave until nearly ten o’clock at night.
Heatstroke, coupled with sitting under the air conditioner and catching a cold, made him fall ill, and in confusion, Yi Hui heard Auntie nagging while applying a wet towel to his forehead: “It’s too hot to run out all day, and you even refuse to take the umbrella? Ugh, a young couple having a conflict, but do you need to torture yourself like this?”
Yi Hui wanted to deny and refute, but he was too sick and his mind was dim. He couldn’t say a complete word and fell asleep under the housekeeper’s muttering.
As if in a dream, a big, dry and warm palm held his hand soaked in cold sweat and the other hand touched his forehead, the fingers sliding slowly down his cheek. The one squeezing his hand closed its five fingers and clenched tighter.
Yi Hui wanted to open his eyes to see who it was, but his eyelids were so heavy that even a crack to let in some light could not be opened.
When he woke up, the sky was already bright, and he was the only one in the huge room.
By eight o’clock, Auntie was already busy in the kitchen. Before going downstairs, Yi Hui glanced at the master bedroom next door on the second floor. The door was open; he didn’t come back or had already left.
When he sat at the dining table, Auntie brought the hot porridge over: “Sweet porridge mix is the most suitable for patients to eat.”
Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen supply to the brain after being hungry for too long, but after picking up a spoon and swallowing a few mouthfuls, Yi Hui suddenly remembered the details in his dream.
The man moved very lightly, gently wiping the sweat from his forehead with his hand, whispering in his ear: “Sorry, I’m late.”
Two days later, after receiving a message from Tang Wenxi, Yi Hui took a photo and posted it on Weibo with the words: Classmate’s love touches the sky [heart]
Not long after it was sent out, he received a call from Tang Wenxi: “Look at my brain, I forgot to send you a mask and a sun cap!”
Yi Hui smiled and said, “I can buy them myself.”
“Don’t, don’t, don’t go out, wait where you are.”
Yi Hui was taken aback: “You are not already on the road, are you?”
Tang Wenxi didn’t sell himself short this time and grinned, “There’s a training session in S City this weekend, I just happened to come and find you to play.”
So today Yi Hui finished his work early and did not do his own private work. After lunch, he took a break and rushed to the high-speed rail station to pick up his friend from afar.
Meeting him at the exit of the station, Tang Wenxi slapped a cap on his head: “Didn’t I tell you not to go out? Can I still get lost at my age?”
Yi Hui held up the brim of the cap and turned the duck tongue to the front: “Just waiting for your cap. If you arrive any later I might faint from heat stroke again.”
The two found a restaurant in a nearby shopping mall. While waiting for the food, Tang Wenxi asked about his recent work and the place he was renting. Yi Hui stumbled while answering, but at any rate, somehow dealt with it.
Tang Wenxi also studied painting, so he could no longer use any collection of styles as an excuse to fool him. Previously, Yi Hui said that he had found a job related to comics in S City, so he had to be stationed there for a long time. He didn’t have much psychological burden to tell this lie, because he did find a job colouring comics, just the one you didn’t need to go to the office to do and could do at home.
“I thought you would stay in that town for the rest of your life and never go out.“ Tang Wenxi took a sip of iced lemonade and said with a grin, “You must be careful living alone. I will buy an anti-wolf stick and send it to you later.”
Yi Hui felt it was too much: “No need, although I haven’t been out much, I still have basic survival skills.”
Tang Wenxi put down the cup, stuck out his tongue and said, “But you look easy to deceive. When I heard that you were looking for a job, I was afraid you would be tricked into receiving customers in a bordello.”
After eating, Yi Hui finally figured out what “bordello” was and blushed. Walking on the road, Tang Wenxi said with a ”tsk”: “I said you were too simple, even a joke like this makes you shy.”
Yi Hui’s timidity was engraved in his bones, but his adaptation and adjustment in the past year showed a lot of improvement. He touched his hot earlobe and said, “Where are we going next?”
After staying in S City for almost a month, with only two points of destination every day, he finally had a friend to play with him. Of course, he wanted to put aside his work and relax.
Tang Wenxi took him to the video game city downstairs. Yi Hui had never been to this place. He felt intrigued when he saw everything but he didn’t dare to try it, for fear that he would lose money if he lost the game.
But when he turned around and saw the row of doll machines at the door, the soles of his feet seemed to be coated with superglue and he couldn’t move anymore.
Thinking about saving money to pay off his debts, Yi Hui only exchanged ten coins, two coins per attempt. He didn’t catch anything four times. The last time, Tang Wenxi tried and caught a bear in a sweater.
Seeing Yi Hui staring at Doraemon lying on his side in the doll machine, Tang Wenxi was eager to pay: “Wait for me to exchange a few more coins and I will catch that blue fatty for you!”
He was stopped by Yi Hui: “No, one is fine, I can’t fit them in the place I live.”
When the two of them walked out of the mall, they saw the plaza lit up with bright lights and a few young girls shuttling in and out, selling roses to the couples coming and going. Only then did Yi Hui remember that it was Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day).
“Valentine’s Day…” Tang Wenxi looked up at the lanterns hanging on the tree and sighed, “Why did I come here to spend Valentine’s Day with you?”
Yi Hui looked at a girl holding a large bouquet of roses smiling, and said in a daze: “Yes, why?”
After buying a cup of milk tea, they sat on a bench in the square to drink and chat.
“He is very busy. Maybe he will go abroad soon. Painting is just his hobby.”
Tang Wenxi didn’t mention his name but Yi Hui knew at once who “he” was.
“His family is so rich, he can do whatever he wants… My family is a working-class family and you have to tighten your belt when you go to college.” Looking at the mobile phone that had been silent since early in the morning, Tang Wenxi suddenly laughed, “But he loves to play around too much. When he is abroad, won’t he forget me completely?”
Yi Hui didn’t know how to comfort him. He was afraid that no matter what he said, it would make it worse and Tang Wenxi would be sadder. After thinking for a long time, he said, “I will pay you back the 20,000 yuan as soon as possible so that you can go abroad.”
He succeeded by a lucky stroke. Tang Wenxi swallowed the tears filling his eyes and slapped Yi Hui on the shoulder: “What is 20,000 yuan enough for? Don’t pay it back for the rest of my life, so that there is at least one place where I can go when I feel I’m going crazy.”
Returning to the community in the evening, Yi Hui walked slowly along the low bushes on the side of the road, thinking about what Tang Wenxi said about “going crazy” and wondering when he could gather enough “ransom money”.
Although he still couldn’t understand why Zhou Jinheng got him here and gave him maximum freedom without making him pay for anything, Yi Hui only knew that he didn’t have any self-awareness of being a substitute and never thought how to please his master to gain more benefits. All he thought about was making money to pay off his debts and try to leave early.
Half a year was not long, but it was still enough to change a lot of things, and it still scared him.
Thinking while he walked, Yi Hui turned a corner and ran into a community patrol car when he almost reached the house.
“Happy Qixi, sir.” A young security guard in the patrol car jumped out of the car and handed a rose to him, “I wish you and your lover happiness for a long time.”
The community’s maintenance was comprehensive; they would engage in this kind of welfare activities for the property owners every holiday. Yi Hui had received flowers several times before. Once, it was seen by Zhou Jinheng. Frowning, he asked him with dissatisfaction where he got the flowers and told him not to go outside all the time if he had nothing to do.
Remembering that, Yi Hui, who wanted to refuse with “I am not a property owner”, hesitated for a moment, then took the flower with a smile: “Thank you.”
The flower seemed to have just been picked, very fresh, still with drops of water on the petals. This reminded Yi Hui of the white snowflakes about to bloom in the house, and he wondered if he would be lucky enough to see them bloom this year.
As he watched the patrol car drive away, Yi Hui turned around quickly, intending to go back, but when he looked up, he met the eyes of someone standing on the roadside.
Yi Hui held a rose in his hand, and the smile that was still on his face just now immediately faded, completely disappearing under the street light.
When they entered the house one after the other, the lights were turned off. Yi Hui misjudged the distance when bowing to change his shoes and bump his head against Zhou Jinheng’s back.
“Sorry.” Yi Hui took a step back, squatted down and continued to change his shoes.
He came back late today and Auntie had already left. Afraid of being asked if the time he spent outside had exceeded twelve hours, he poured water on the flowers and hurriedly went upstairs.
“Your flower and your bear.” Zhou Jinheng, who had been silent all the time, said suddenly.
Yi Hui had to bite the bullet and take away the flower and the doll placed on the cabinet next to the door.
The living room was very large and you had to pass the sofa to walk from the entrance to the stairway. Yi Hui inadvertently caught a glimpse of several empty wine bottles piled on the coffee table.
It seemed that Zhou Jinheng came back earlier than him today.
Did he come back so early just for a drink?
But it was not his responsibility. Yi Hui didn’t spare much thought to it. After going upstairs to the balcony to collect his clothes, he hurried into the bathroom downstairs and did not forget to lock the door.
He took his mobile phone into the bathroom. When he put on his clothes and picked it up to put it in his pocket, a message suddenly popped up in the background of Weibo – Zhou Jinheng fell and was injured while filming an advertisement. The topic starter said that his fleeting career might be going downhill.
Unlocking the phone, he jumped to the news page and scanned it roughly. The fans in the comments were either crying and distressed, or scolding the marketing account for nonsense. Interspersed were some gloating passers-by, mocking Zhou Jinheng for doing everything he could to be on the hot search, including self-harm.
There was no mention of what kind of injury it was from beginning to end. Yi Hui stood stunned for a while before putting the phone back in his pocket.
When he came out, Zhou Jinheng was still in the living room.
He turned his back to Yi Hui, held a bottle of injury medicine in his hand and poured it on his naked back. Because he couldn’t see it, not only did the medicine oil not reach the place where it was needed, but most of it simply spilled on the floor.
When Zhou Jinheng turned around, Yi Hui immediately looked away and heard the sound of another bottle of medicine unscrewed. He was about to leave when he was stopped.
“Won’t you help me rub it?” Zhou Jinheng put his arm around his shoulder, pointed to his back and said confidently, “You bumped into it.”
In less than three minutes, Yi Hui used his actions to thoroughly illustrate the meaning of the word “reluctantly”.
He used the mouth of the medicine bottle to apply the potion casually over Zhou Jinheng’s bruises. It was smeared with varying thicknesses and he didn’t even touch him personally before hastily getting up to leave.
Zhou Jinheng quickly stretched his hand and clasped his wrist: “There are more here, help me.”
Because of the collision when they entered the house, Yi Hui had no choice. He thought that he would just let the drunkard go crazy, so he sat back and helped Zhou Jinheng smear the medicine on the injury on his shoulder.
During the process, Yi Hui found that in addition to his back and shoulder, he also had several bruises on his chest.
Zhou Jinheng’s first movie was an action movie. Later, he also took on a lot of movies and television works with fighting scenes. In addition, he didn’t like to use a stuntman, so injuries were inevitable. The bottles of injury medicine that were placed on the table were bought by the stupid Yi Hui when he still lived there.
Even that kind of high-intensity shooting did not cause bruises all over the body, how could he become like this shooting an advertisement?
He was puzzled, but he didn’t plan to ask. He didn’t know how much Zhou Jinheng had drunk to have heat emanating from his body. Yi Hui’s hand accidentally brushed over his waist and his fingers curled up as if scalded.
After all the injuries that could be seen were medicated, Yi Hui breathed a sigh of relief, closed the bottle cap and tried to leave again.
“That’s it?” Zhou Jinheng laid half naked on the sofa, his tone dragging slightly, “You hit me so hard ah.”
It was not that he hadn’t seen him act so coquettishly before.
In those three years, Yi Hui thought that he should take care of him since he was older. Although Zhou Jinheng sneered, occasionally he was willing to accept his care when he was in a better mood.
He remembered once he also applied the injury medicine. Yi Hui was afraid that it would hurt him and his movements were too light. After he finished, Zhou Jinheng took his hand and kissed it, and smiled slyly: “HuiHui’s hands are so soft, how about a few more rubs?”
This voice was still in his ears, as if it had happened yesterday. Yi Hui lowered his eyes and pretended not to hear, putting the medicine bottle back on the coffee table.
Everything was smeared this time, and he was finally able to go.
As soon as he got up, even before he had time to straighten his legs, he was suddenly dragged back and pulled over to the sofa.
Before he had time to panic, he saw Zhou Jinheng’s painful expression. Yi Hui thought he was pressing on his wound and was about to stand up but was firmly encircled by the arms around his waist, unable to free his upper body.
It was too close. His gaze fell on Zhou Jinheng’s face because there was nowhere else to look. The injury he thought had been healed was still there. Only when he got closer could he see an uneven cut with damaged texture, like a worm burrowed under his skin.
Yi Hui was stunned. It turned out that the wound was so long and so deep.
Zhou Jinheng didn’t seem to care. He smiled clearly, but there was no smile in his eyes.
He said, “It hurts.”
The hoarse voice made Yi Hui’s heart twitch. After a short while, he struggled to get up again. The other arm hugged him around his neck and pressed him down suddenly.
Yi Hui was lying in Zhou Jinheng’s arms, with his chin against his shoulder, the smell of wine and medicinal oil filled his nasal cavity.
Zhou Jinheng’s hot lips pressed against Yi Hui’s slightly cool ears. He wanted to look at him, but he was afraid that he would see disgust in his expression.
He could smile at friends and strangers, but for him alone, there would always be indifference and resistance.
“At that time, did I hurt you that much too?” Zhou Jinheng frowned, as if the pain was so severe that even alcohol could not paralyze his nerves.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” His breathing was chaotic, as if he didn’t know what to do to make the man stay in his arms, so he had to say “I’m sorry” over and over again.
Until his voice was dry and hoarse, he struggled to express the deepest desire in his heart: “Can you… give me back my Huihui?”
The little fool who loves me, smiles at me, and cares for me. Can I have him back?