There was no new pot, after all.
There was a flower market near the filming location where Zhou Jinheng recently stayed. He took a fancy to a pot of snowflakes and a pot of iron jasmine that he had seen in the courtyard of the Jiang family. He paid a deposit in advance. After the rain, two pots of flowers were in full bloom. Zhou Jinheng took advantage of the breaks to watch them and pour water on them.
The owner asked if he wanted to take them away today; Zhou Jinheng shook his head and said, “Keep them here first, please take care of them for a while.”
The owner was puzzled and persuaded: “Didn’t you look forward to it blooming when you raised this one? Here, now that it blooms, it’s perfect to take it back to coax your wife.”
Zhou Jinheng had previously told the owner that his wife at home liked to raise flowers. He was now in a very different state of mind than he had been at the time, and this sheer cliff made him feel powerless. He casually excused himself by saying, “Still angry with me, so I might not be able to enter the house if I take it back now.”
The owner was very happy when he heard this: “I thought only old men of our age were afraid of their wives, I didn’t expect someone young like you would be too.”
With the corners of his mouth under the mask raised helplessly, Zhou Jinheng’s gaze wandered away, and he whispered, “Yes, I’m afraid… how can I not be afraid?”
In the afternoon, he called Auntie to ask about the situation. Auntie said on the phone: “He looks the same as usual but doesn’t eat much. He doesn’t listen when I tell him not to go out in the sun, but he bought a new umbrella himself, so he shouldn’t be shone by the sun.”
Zhou Jinheng was taken aback for a moment, then sighed lightly: “En. The bad appetite might be because it is too hot, so make something light at night.”
Auntie asked, “Will Mr. Zhou come back for dinner?”
“I can’t, I still have work.” After a pause, Zhou Jinheng continued, “If I go back, he won’t eat more. Don’t mention me in front of him, just do as he wishes.”
Before hanging up, he didn’t listen to a word of Auntie’s comfort. After he hung up, Yang Chengxuan, who was sitting on the sofa smoking, smiled and said, “If I didn’t know, I’d thought you were the nanny of the family. Why, now you have fallen to the point where you can’t even go back home? Did you raise a lover or a great buddha?”
Since the last time they had a fight in front of the Jiang family’s house, Yang Chengxuan’s words to Zhou Jinheng were even more weird, as if he felt uncomfortable if he didn’t tease him every few sentences.
The two of them had been very close since they were kids that this little conflict couldn’t affect their rock-solid friendship. They still thought of each other whenever they had nothing to do or were in trouble. This was why Yang Chengxuan came to visit the set now and got to know the director of the variety show well enough to supply the venue for the next part of the shooting in the capital.
“Isn’t your business over?“ Zhou Jinheng didn’t even look at him, “I’m going to rest, so you can go.”
Yang Chengxuan snorted and said, shaking off the ash from his cigarette: “I can still stay in the country for a month, and at this point I left my date to come to you. Not only don’t you feel touched, you are kicking me out, are you even human?”
Zhou Jinheng sat down on the couch, leaned back, closed his eyes and asked, “When did you get a boyfriend?”
“He’s not a boyfriend. It’s not accurate to say that he’s a sex friend either. After all, we can usually talk a little.” Yang Chengxuan said indifferently, “He also learns to paint, but he is better at making clothes. Here, he made the shirt I am wearing today.”
As he said this, he leaned over and invited Zhou Jinheng to take a look at his new clothes. Zhou Jinheng was disgusted by this overt show of affection and pushed his face away with a frown: “Okay, I saw it, don’t force me to kick you out.”
Yang Chengxuan didn’t know whether he meant it or not, but he kept saying, “You didn’t see how cute he looked when he was stepping on the sewing machine.”
The contrast hurt exponentially and Zhou Jinheng was annoyed: “Then treat him well.”
Putting out the cigarette in the ashtray, Yang Chengxuan smiled playfully: “I treat him very well. I will give him whatever he wants, except for name and status. Anyway, he doesn’t necessarily want them. Everyone likes to play, so why bother to put these useless shackles on yourself.”
This remark was mocking Zhou Jinheng secretly. Zhou Jinheng used to hate these shackles so much that he wanted to split them apart and throw them away the most. But now he changed his mind, picked them up and put them around his neck.
“Speaking of it, for so many years I really can’t figure out your taste. When you were in school, you liked Fang Yuqing’s cold treatment, and then you liked the fool. Now, except for looking a bit similar, this guy is a completely different person. Look at this violent temper. He hurt your face and won’t let you in. Mine is at least well-behaved and sensible.” The more Yang Chengxuan spoke, the more amused he felt, “Why do you like him? Thanks to the pile of unlucky information I got for you last time, you haven’t been crazy for a long time. Do you really use him as a substitute?”
Zhou Jinheng shook his head, not knowing which sentence to answer.
Yang Chengxuan couldn’t help asking, “You’ve really figured it out this time?”
After asking the question, he felt that it was redundant. The ironclad evidence was so overwhelming that he could not refuse to believe it. Besides, the look on Zhou Jinheng’s face when he saw the death certificate was still vivid in his mind, his expression one of utter despair.
“He is dead.” Zhou Jinheng said.
Yang Chengxuan breathed a sigh of relief: “D*mn, you little kid finally figured it out. When you come down in a couple of days, brother will arrange a cleansing feast for you to celebrate letting go of your obsession and turning back to the right path.”
Zhou Jinheng closed his eyes, as if he hadn’t heard it. He felt that the word ”obsession” was used inaccurately. It was not that he insisted on doing this, but that he could only do this.
If the man died, he can still use various means to paralyze himself and stop thinking, but it was not the man who died, but his heart.
His little fool had left his heart on the mountain that night, hollowed out inside, so that he could only raise the thorns of his body against him. Every earlier resistance was a reminder that his beating heart had not yet returned, and it was only when he saw the bunch of certificates with the word “death” on them that he suddenly had an epiphany.
A person who died cannot come back to life, so a dead heart cannot be cured.
The weather just showed the first signs of cooling when Tang Wenxi came to S City again.
This time he just came to play, saying that he was stood up on the day of the trip and simply came to see him.
Yi Hui asked, “Why does he always stand you up?”
Tang Wenxi shrugged: “So I stood him up too. He just texted me to wait for him at home in the afternoon, and I replied ‘ojbk’.”
Yi Hui smiled and praised him as “good for you”, but he was a little worried. Tang Wenxi was obviously trying to look unconcerned, but in fact he must have felt very uncomfortable.
His guess was verified in the evening. Tang Wenxi pressed down the phone once, and his face visibly turned more and more unsightly. The staff on the roller coaster yelled for a long time but he didn’t buckle his seat belt. Finally, Yi Hui leaned over to buckle him and patted him on the chest to tell him not to be nervous.
During the slow ascent, Yi Hui said: “I heard that if you shout the other person’s name the moment the coaster dives down, they will hear it wherever they are.”
Tang Wenxi said that he did not believe in this kind of perverted superstition fit to deceive children, but at the highest point of the roller coaster, at the moment of weightlessness and speeding descent, he yelled in the cool evening breeze: “Yang Chengxuan, you b*stard!”
On another steep slope of descent, he yelled another sentence: “Yang Chengxuan, can you stop throwing me aside!”
Everyone was screaming, but Yi Hui could hear it clearly because he was sitting close. He was sad that Tang Wenxi could only vent his unhappiness in this way, but he also felt envious that Tang Wenxi could at least vent it.
Unlike him; he could only close his mouth tightly and dare not say anything.
After getting off the roller coaster, Tang Wenxi patted Yi Hui on the shoulder like a boss: “It’s alright, after playing such an exciting game and looking cool, I can fly home to find my mother.”
Yi Hui smiled and did not answer.
He wanted to go back to his town to see his mother and sister, but the time was not right. He was very clear about his position in this relationship. If he made a request that exceeded the constraints of the agreement and asked for something other than the agreement stipulated, he would definitely exchange it for other things.
Just like applying medicine to whoever is injured; even if Zhou Jinheng didn’t mention it, he had to take the initiative to do it. He wanted to end all their involvement in these one hundred and eighty days. The day he would leave that house would be the day he’d say farewell, without looking back and without owing anything.
This was the last dignity Yi Hui preserved in his two lives. If this was true for someone you know well, it should be even more so for Zhou Jinheng.
Therefore, when Jiang Xuemei, who was still hospitalized, developed complications, and several examinations in the county hospital did not reveal the specific cause, Yi Hui originally planned to take a leave of absence and go home for a few days. But Zhou Jinheng took the initiative and sent someone to arrange the transfer procedures for Jiang Xuemei. When Yi Hui received the call, his mother and younger sister were already about to board the plane.
It was inconvenient to explain on the phone, so Yi Hui had to say that he arranged it, hung up the phone and knocked on the door of the master bedroom. Zhou Jinheng finished work early today and was at home.
“Thank you for helping my mother transfer to the hospital.” Yi Hui said straightforwardly, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Zhou Jinheng seemed to expect him to come. After opening the door, he turned around and walked back to the bed. He slowly fastened his buttons and said, “Let’s go out for dinner together?”
Of course, Yi Hui would not regard his casual question as asking for his opinion. He knew it was an exchange, so he obediently went out with Zhou Jinheng.
The destination was not far away. There was a newly renovated shopping plaza in the city, and the restaurant was also newly opened. In the southwest corner of the top floor, you could see several huge glass pillars topped by a dreamy, dazzling glass dome.
Even the subtle design of the seats, decorations and ceiling lights was exactly the same as in his memory. This was clearly the branch of the restaurant in the capital.
Yi Hui remembered that he plucked his courage to ask the clerk if they could open a branch in S City because the capital was a bit far away and he couldn’t come over often. The clerk smiled and thanked him for liking their place, and then told him that the boss didn’t want to open a branch because it was too much trouble; he had already rejected invitations from many cities.
So what’s the deal with the place he was in now?
He didn’t think too much about it. A menu was already in front of him, and Zhou Jinheng asked him to order: “What do you want to eat?”
Yi Hui pushed the menu back: “I’m not hungry.”
Zhou Jinheng ordered a few dishes. Yi Hui listened carefully; most of them were sweet.
While waiting for the food to be served, Zhou Jinheng poured warm water for Yi Hui and asked for wet napkins and small snacks before the meal. Yi Hui didn’t touch them. He didn’t even lift his hands to the table, always resting them on his knees.
“This is his favorite restaurant.” Zhou Jinheng said, “It didn’t exist in S City before. It just opened last month and I wanted to bring you here.”
The atmosphere was rarely relaxed; Yi Hui guessed that Zhou Jinheng probably didn’t realize that the pronouns in his two sentences were different. However, this time he used “his” instead of “your”. While Yi Hui could not argue with this, he was also slightly reassured by his sobriety at the moment.
At least he didn’t treat himself as the dead Yi Hui anymore. He would rather be a substitute than be that fool again.
“You should bring him here, not me.” Yi Hui said coldly.
Probably not expecting to get a response, Zhou Jinheng smiled. On second thought, his response was in return for the fact that he had just done him a huge favour, and the smile narrowed a little: “I used to treat him badly, and I often missed appointments. Now he definitely won’t want to go out with me.”
Yi Hui didn’t know if Zhou Jinheng’s words contained any hints, but it just felt like an exchange between him and his only friend named Dora-Hum-Hum before they met.
It was impossible to comfort him as before. Yi Hui blurted out without thinking, “How badly? Accidentally spilled hot water on his hand?”
That was what Dora-Hum-Hum told ①Xiao Hui Xia, and Yi Hui regretted immediately after saying it. This sounded too sharp and mean, unlike what an outsider would say, just like he shouldn’t have said the word “die” on the night of the heavy rain.
He thought that after saying it, he would feel relaxed, feel the pleasure of revenge, but he didn’t. Looking at Zhou Jinheng’s instantly defeated face, instead of being happy, he felt that his chest was blocked and his breathing became stagnant and difficult.
This might be what people call killing one thousand enemy troops by losing eight hundred of yours. While picking up an invisible knife and stabbing the other, he was also bloodied by the blade of the knife held in his hand.
Zhou Jinheng didn’t seem to expect that he would take the initiative to mention the past. He was silent for a moment and said, “No, I did it on purpose.”
Yi Hui gritted his teeth and clasped his hands under the table: “Really… it seems that you hate him very much.”
“Yes at the time.“ Zhou Jinheng didn’t know what stimulated him. He broke the jar and didn’t bother to whitewash himself anymore. “I didn’t have the ability to fight against my elders, so I transferred the resentment that had nowhere to go to him, bullying him while being unconsciously attracted to him. The more I was attracted to him, the more impotent I felt. Without understanding why I always thought of him, why I said I hated him, and why the first thing I thought of every time I finished work was to go home.”
Yi Hui desperately pushed himself to the position of the listener, but he clearly understood that this was the story that had happened to him.
Zhou Jinheng’s sudden candour scared him, and this self-confidence in confessing his own bad deeds made him even more frightened. The words ”go home” was like a thorn in his heart. It seemed that it had already weathered and disappeared, but whenever someone mentioned it, he would still be conditioned to feel pain instinctively.
Yi Hui flinched, clasping his hands tightly: “Because you had nowhere else to go…”
Zhou Jinheng didn’t let him finish speaking, interrupting: “Because I love him.”
The unspoken words dissipated as Yi Hui snapped his head up, his gaze colliding with Zhou Jinheng’s dark pupils. The shattered light reflecting off the glass fell into his eyes, transforming him into a dementor hunter who was doing his best to awaken his sleeping soul.
Zhou Jinheng said again: “Because I fell in love with him.”
His mouth was saying “he” but his eyes were saying “you”.
There was no equivalent exchange agreement, and there was no self-appointed substitute. Zhou Jinheng’s eyes had only looked at one man from beginning to end.
So confident, so sure, just like he was when they first met, just like he was when that fool loved him for a lifetime.