The cost of soaking in the hot spring was that Gu Yang was dragged out of bed by Fan Yuan before 4:30 in the morning. After only a few hours of sleep together, Gu Yang felt groggy and leaned softly in Fan Yuan’s arms.
Gu Yang used his messy hair to rub against Fan Yuan’s chin, and his fingertips followed suit, touching Fan Yuan’s chin.
After a night had passed, stubble had grown on Fan Yuan’s chin, making it prickly to the touch.
After touching Fan Yuan’s stubble, Gu Yang then touched his own chin, which was clean and smooth, without any facial hair.
Feeling a bit down, Gu Yang let his hand droop and muttered softly, “Why don’t I grow a beard no matter how long I wait?”
Hearing this, Fan Yuan lowered his head and kissed Gu Yang’s clean-shaven chin. “You’re fine just the way you are.”
Upon hearing Fan Yuan’s praise, Gu Yang decided not to worry about it anymore. If he didn’t grow a beard, it would save him some trouble.
Surprisingly, unlike the two students, the driver seemed energetic and had been waiting in the car.
Gu Yang practically crawled into the back seat and slumped inside, lowering the partition with his hand.
The driver had originally wanted to compliment them on last night’s hot spring experience, but when he saw the partition rise again, he sighed with a sense of loss.
Gu Yang had no idea what the driver was thinking. Once Fan Yuan got in, he immediately leaned against him, sticking to him like a sticky rice cake, a milk-flavored one. When peeled away the outer coat, the inside was milky white.
Fan Yuan peeled away the outer layer of the “sticky rice cake” and placed his hands directly on it.
Gu Yang quivered, and his limbs lazily stretched out as he slumped in Fan Yuan’s arms, drowsy.
Fan Yuan also lowered his head, leaning against the “sticky rice cake” in his arms and closing his eyes.
“Sleep, we still have a long way to go before we reach the school.”
Gu Yang hummed and mumbled something incoherent, but quickly fell back asleep.
The early morning sky was tinged with a leaden color, and it wasn’t until almost six o’clock that it completely brightened up.
The morning light seeped into the car window, shining on Gu Yang’s eyes, causing him to furrow his brows. In the next moment, Fan Yuan wrapped him in a coat.
Fan Yuan gently stroked Gu Yang’s back, and his ice-cold fingertips lightly pinched Gu Yang’s earlobe. Gu Yang seemed to wake up slightly, but then peacefully drifted back to sleep.
The journey was long, and by the time they reached the school gate, it was already bustling with activity.
Gu Yang was still snuggled in Fan Yuan’s arms, sound asleep. Fan Yuan gently brushed Gu Yang’s eyelashes, wanting to wake him up. However, he suddenly stopped and thought of something.
He adjusted Gu Yang’s clothes, took off his coat, wrapped Gu Yang in it, and then carried him out of the car. He walked directly through the sports field towards the teaching building.
Groups of students coming to school together saw the school’s male god, Fan Yuan, carrying someone to school. There was no need to guess who he was carrying.
Among the students, there were some who looked on with envy, whispering to each other:
“Wow, that’s so nice! I also want a boyfriend to carry me to school.”
“You can only dream about it!”
Fan Yuan walked steadily, and it wasn’t until he placed Gu Yang on the seat, feeling the coldness of the bench, that Gu Yang opened his eyes, still in a daze.
Gu Yang was actually a bit strange. Despite being held by Fan Yuan, who felt like an ice cube, he didn’t feel cold. Yet, a small bench made him feel chilly.
He adjusted his sitting posture, spread his hands and feet, and stretched out a big lazy yawn to fully wake up. Leaning on the table, he greeted Fan Yuan, “Good morning.”
Fan Yuan used his icy fingertips to touch Gu Yang’s eyelids, “Today’s classes are important. Don’t oversleep. Endure it for now, and we’ll rest in the equipment room at noon.”
Gu Yang held Fan Yuan’s outstretched fingertips and brought them close to his lips, rubbing his small white teeth against them before answering in a muffled voice, “I know.”
Fan Yuan didn’t withdraw his hand. Instead, he pushed his fingertips a bit further and touched Gu Yang’s soft and warm tongue. Gu Yang unconsciously relaxed his teeth, allowing Fan Yuan to pull his hand back only after a moment.
Gu Yang pushed his tongue against his teeth, feeling like the coolness from Fan Yuan’s fingertips was still lingering.
The brief night of the hot spring had come to an end, and the busy and tense study routine resumed.
Fan Yuan and Gu Yang hardly had time to talk during the morning classes. They could only take advantage of the lunch break to draw warmth from each other in the sports equipment room and take a little nap.
Despite being an incredibly dangerous artifact, a mirror shard that could trigger a person’s deepest malice, after piercing into Fan Yuan’s heart, it seemed to have had no greater impact except turning him into a natural freezer.
Life remained ordinary and repetitive, with days filled with studying, studying, and more studying.
Until one morning, during the third period, Zhuo Wan came to knock on the door. Frowning, she asked Fan Yuan and Gu Yang to go to the principal’s office together.
This kind of thing had happened before when Jiang Yanzhe’s mother came looking for trouble, but last time they only went to the head teacher’s office. This time, they were called directly to the principal’s office and named specifically, and it didn’t seem like it would be a good thing no matter how one thought about it.
Fan Yuan and Gu Yang exchanged a glance, then both stood up and walked out under the curious gazes of their classmates.
Zhuo Wan watched the two come out, closed the classroom door again, and led them to the principal’s office.
“Fan Yuan, your parents are here and they’re currently in the principal’s office.”
Fan Yuan didn’t react much, but Gu Yang’s brows furrowed. He grabbed Fan Yuan’s sleeve.
Every time Fan Yuan’s parents showed up, it never boded well. In Gu Yang’s eyes, Fan Yuan’s parents were enemies.
Seeing Gu Yang grip Fan Yuan’s sleeve, Zhuo Wan pursed her lips, but still spoke up, “They… know about the two of you, apparently it was mentioned by a school board member.”
This kind of reminder wasn’t something she, as their senior high teacher, should say. In fact, she should be standing on the opposite side, opposing them.
But Zhuo Wan couldn’t do it. She knew that these two kids were not in the wrong.
Fan Yuan still didn’t say anything, his whole demeanor cold and indifferent, seemingly uninterested in the arrival of his parents.
Gu Yang knew that Fan Yuan was in a unique situation right now, so he took the initiative to thank Zhuo Wan, “Thank you, Teacher Zhuo, for the reminder.”
At the door of the principal’s office, Zhuo Wan didn’t go in, only pushing the door open for Gu Yang and Fan Yuan.
Inside the spacious principal’s office, Fan Yuan’s parents were sitting on the guest sofa, and the principal was seated across from them.
As soon as he saw Gu Yang and Fan Yuan enter, the principal prepared to leave, “Let’s leave the space for you to talk. I’ll go out first.”
Fan Yuan’s father thanked the principal, then turned his gaze to Fan Yuan and Gu Yang, his eyes filled with scrutiny and barely concealed… disgust.
Gu Yang felt an itch at the roots of his teeth as he was pulled to sit opposite Fan Yuan’s parents.
After not seeing each other for a long time, Fan Yuan’s mother had gained a lot of weight, looking round and plump. She wore oversized clothes and covered her belly with her hands, seemingly trying to conceal her pregnancy. But several months had passed, and her belly had become quite big, so her attempt at concealing it was rather futile.
Fan Yuan spoke directly, his tone icy, “What’s the matter?”
His cold words immediately irritated Father Fan, and he was about to stand up, but Mother Fan held his wrist.
With a strained smile towards Fan Yuan, though she was looking at her own son, her gaze seemed to avoid him, “The college entrance exam is approaching, and we wanted to see you. However, the lock to the villa was changed, so we couldn’t get in. We also couldn’t reach you on your phone, so we had to come to your school… We just wanted to show our concern for you.”
Although Mother Fan spoke in a gentle tone, she kept using “you” instead of “my son,” not even mentioning his name, let alone using any affectionate nickname.
Gu Yang couldn’t help but sneer, curling his lips, and his hand that was gripping Fan Yuan’s sleeve never let go.
Father Fan stared at Gu Yang’s hand gripping Fan Yuan’s sleeve, almost wishing he could bore a hole through Gu Yang’s hand.
Gu Yang simply slid his hand into Fan Yuan’s palm, and Fan Yuan immediately tightened his grip, pulling Gu Yang closer to him.
This action seemed like pulling a trigger. Father Fan picked up a teacup from the table and threw it to the ground.
The teacup splashed the tea all over Gu Yang’s shoe, leaving a brown stain on his clean white sneakers.
The floor of the principal’s office was covered with thick carpet. The tea cup didn’t shatter, but the steaming hot tea spilled all over the floor, dampening a section of the beautiful carpet.
“Fan Yuan, you’ve become bolder. As you grow older, you’re regressing. Have you thrown away all the teachings of propriety and integrity? Are you involved with men now? Are you not ashamed?”
The splashed tea water reached the front of Gu Yang’s shoes, leaving a brown stain on his clean sneakers.
Gu Yang tapped his ear, then stood up, placing himself in front of Fan Yuan, blocking him.
“Uncle, are you sure you’re speaking properly?”
In the face of the tense atmosphere, Mother Fan’s shoulders trembled, and she began to wipe her tears.
Father Fan, full of disgust towards Gu Yang, saw that Gu Yang dared to stand up, and his face twisted into a sneer. He threw away his dignified manner that he had maintained for many years and began to argue with Gu Yang, who was decades younger.
“It was you who seduced Fan Yuan, right? What do you want? Money? How much do you need? How much will it take for you to leave?”
Gu Yang chuckled, “Sorry, Uncle, I don’t need money. Besides, Fan Yuan takes care of me.”
Gu Yang said this just to provoke Father Fan, to make him angrier.
And indeed, Gu Yang succeeded. Father Fan was so furious that he raised his hand, as if he was about to push Gu Yang, but Fan Yuan, who had suddenly stood up, held his shoulder.
The bone-chilling coldness from Fan Yuan’s hand quickly spread all over Father Fan’s body. He frowned and stared, seemingly unable to understand where this coldness was coming from.
“Don’t touch him.”
Father Fan stepped back, looking at Fan Yuan with an angry face, his lips trembling with rage.
“Fan Yuan, is this how you speak to your elders?”
Mother Fan, crying even harder now, became the constant background noise in the principal’s office.
Gu Yang knew that Fan Yuan was full of malice now, and it would be easy for him and Fan Yuan to get into trouble if they had a confrontation with Fan Yuan’s parents. So he decided to embrace Fan Yuan from behind, showing only half of his face and drawing attention to himself.
“Uncle, do you have the right to control Fan Yuan?”
“Do you have the right to say he’s disgraceful? Where is he disgraceful? Has he disgraced anyone? You? Are you worthy?”
“In your eyes, is the Fan family more important or Fan Yuan?”
The affectionate pose of Gu Yang sticking to Fan Yuan made Father Fan furious. He looked around, seemingly looking for something to teach Gu Yang a lesson.
Mother Fan finally summoned the courage to stand up. She took small steps and stood in front of Fan Yuan, looking up at him with tears on her face.
“Y-you, don’t deliberately upset your father. He also cares about you. You and him…” Mother Fan looked at Gu Yang and continued,
“You’re on the wrong path; you’re deviating from what the Fan family stands for. You’re a member of the Fan family, and you should walk on the right path. You… you can’t tarnish the reputation of the Fan family…”
As Gu Yang listened to Mother Fan, he couldn’t help but sneer, about to retort, but Fan Yuan spoke up.
Fan Yuan suddenly raised his hand and pressed it on his mother’s belly, and a chilling aura spread.
Mother Fan was taken aback by his sudden action, standing still in shock, “I-I can explain…”
Fan Yuan interrupted her, his cold, lifeless black eyes looking at her, not even reflecting her figure.
“I don’t care.”
Mother Fan was stunned, “W-what?”
Father Fan reached out to push Fan Yuan’s hand away, but suddenly found that his limbs were inexplicably stiff, and he couldn’t move at all.
He suddenly remembered the scene from a few years ago when he arrived to see Fan Yuan covered in blood and those thugs who had their eyes gouged out. The deeply hidden fear slowly overwhelmed him.
Fan Yuan could feel the presence of another life beneath his mother’s belly, a life that shared the same blood as him, yet he couldn’t feel any emotions towards it.
“I don’t care if you’re pregnant, and I don’t care how many children you have.”
“From now on, don’t interfere in my affairs. If you still want control over the Fan family…”
“You’ve secretly investigated, right? You know how much stake I have in my hands.”
“Don’t give me the chance to ruin the Fan family.”
Mother Fan took a step back and leaned into Father Fan’s embrace. Fan Yuan withdrew his hand and placed it over the hand that had been wrapped around his waist by Gu Yang all this while.
It was only at this moment that Father Fan realized that his stiff limbs were functioning again. His teeth even trembled slightly as he supported Mother Fan, looking at Fan Yuan with a gaze filled with shock.
Gu Yang cut him off, “Didn’t you give yourself the choice? To choose between the Fan family and Fan Yuan?”
Father Fan’s mouth immediately closed shut, and Mother Fan also looked away.
The current state of the Fan family was brought about by Father Fan’s decision to abandon his own son. He was capable of abandoning Fan Yuan back then, and he could do it now too.
Mother Fan, who appeared gentle and caring towards Fan Yuan…
She no longer looked at Fan Yuan. She turned her head, murmuring softly to herself, “I-I’m just worried about you… After all, you’re my own child… How could I abandon you… How could I fear you…”
It was unclear whether she was speaking to Fan Yuan or to herself.
Gu Yang held Fan Yuan tightly, his eyes filled with determination, “The Fan Yuan you abandoned, I want him.”
“Just for the sake of the Fan family, you’d abandon your own child.”
“To me, there’s nothing in the world more important than Fan Yuan.”
Fan Yuan’s parents left, and after this departure, they should no longer interfere in Fan Yuan’s life.
The principal’s office became empty, leaving only Fan Yuan and Gu Yang.
Fan Yuan suddenly turned around and took out a pack of tissues from his pocket. He bent down and carefully wiped the tea stain on Gu Yang’s shoe.
Gu Yang didn’t stop him and lowered his head to watch Fan Yuan carefully wiping the tea stain off his shoe.
“Fan Yuan, they’ve gone.”
Fan Yuan stood up and discarded the tissues.
Gu Yang bent his knees, suddenly jumped up, and pounced into Fan Yuan’s arms, wrapping his arms and legs around him.
“They probably won’t come back again.”
Fan Yuan took a step back, steadied himself, and embraced Gu Yang tightly, lifting him slightly.
Gu Yang kissed Fan Yuan’s lips passionately, creating a loud noise.
“Fan Yuan, I want you.”
“I can be your everything – family, friend, and lover…”
“I want you.”
“I want you, I want you, I want you…”
Gu Yang whispered the three words repeatedly into Fan Yuan’s ear, the warmth of his breath enveloping Fan Yuan’s ear, making it feel the same temperature.
Each time Gu Yang said it, Fan Yuan hugged him tighter.
The embrace became increasingly tight, almost causing pain to Gu Yang.
The shining light on Gu Yang’s left palm, wrapped around Fan Yuan’s neck, reached 80 points of favourability, a new height, an impossible height.
Clasping his left hand tightly, Gu Yang hung on Fan Yuan, suddenly straightening his back.
He smiled at Fan Yuan, his eyes filled with only him.
“Of course, if you want, you can call me ‘dad,’ and calling me ‘mom’ wouldn’t bother me either.”
Finally, Fan Yuan’s lips curved slightly, and he pressed his fingertips against the small indentation on Gu Yang’s waist.
“Trying to take advantage of me?”
Gu Yang blinked at Fan Yuan, looking particularly innocent.
In the next moment, Fan Yuan lowered his head, his cold lips brushing against Gu Yang’s warm earlobe, and his chilling breath seeped into Gu Yang’s ear canal.
“Gu Yang, I’ll call you…baby.”
Although the breath that entered his ear canal was cold, Gu Yang felt like it ignited all the warmth in his body.
“Say it again…please.”
Gu Yang hugged Fan Yuan’s neck, pleading softly.
And Fan Yuan obliged, using his icy breath to call him “baby” over and over again.
Despite it being an extremely clichéd endearment, Gu Yang became addicted to hearing it.
With Fan Yuan’s goodwill towards Gu Yang reaching 80 points, he called Gu Yang “baby” for the first time.
Gu Yang is Fan Yuan’s baby.
After Fan Yuan’s parents left, they seemed to vanish completely, never contacting Fan Yuan again.
Their appearances had been rare, and their disappearance didn’t affect Fan Yuan and Gu Yang’s lives in any way.
As the college entrance exam drew near, Gu Yang’s parents frequently contacted him.
Gu Yang’s parents were different from Fan Yuan’s parents. They seemed to have noticed something and would always ask about Fan Yuan whenever they chatted with Gu Yang, inquiring about Fan Yuan’s well-being, study progress, and health.
The matter involving Fan Yuan’s parents eventually became an insignificant episode in Fan Yuan and Gu Yang’s long life together.
Finally, their city experienced its first spring rain, which was fierce and relentless, starting from noon and lasting until the evening. The classroom became stuffy, and during the evening self-study session, they opened the windows to let in the fresh air mixed with the scent of rain and earth.
Gu Yang took a deep breath, savoring the refreshing air, and lowered his head to continue doing his homework.
Sitting beside him, Fan Yuan rested his left hand under the desk, placing it on Gu Yang’s leg. Occasionally, he would lift a finger and tap Gu Yang gently whenever he seemed distracted.
Gu Yang would then smile at Fan Yuan and grab his finger, kissing it before returning it to his leg.
As the weather gradually warmed up, Fan Yuan, influenced by “The Snow Queen,” remained cold all over.
Gu Yang had grown to love this chilliness, even beginning to think about taking out this “golden finger” every summer after the college entrance exam and everything else settled down.
During the evening self-study, the rain continued to drizzle.
Their driver called and said a tire had been punctured, so they couldn’t come in time. He asked them to take a taxi home temporarily.
Walking downstairs, Fan Yuan opened an umbrella and put his arm around Gu Yang’s shoulder, walking together into the rain.
Gu Yang stretched out his hand from under the umbrella, and the cold rainwater splashed into his palm.
“Fan Yuan,” Gu Yang suddenly spoke, “let’s take the bus back, okay?”
The two of them seemed to have never taken the bus together before.
Fan Yuan naturally agreed, and they walked with the other students who were leaving school, heading to the nearby bus stop.
There weren’t many night buses, and there weren’t many people waiting. Most of them were students from nearby high schools.
On this rainy night, the open umbrellas seemed like separate little worlds, passing each other without any interaction.
Watching the cars quickly passing in front of them, Gu Yang wondered if the people inside were in a rush to get home.
What would their future be like, Fan Yuan and him?
Suddenly, Gu Yang stood in front of Fan Yuan, tiptoed, and raised his arms to hug Fan Yuan’s neck.
Fan Yuan’s hand holding the umbrella slightly leaned forward, covering most of the umbrella over Gu Yang’s head. The other hand naturally wrapped around Gu Yang’s lower back.
This intimate action had become a habit.
The gathered umbrellas around them tilted slightly, as if someone had noticed their behavior.
Gu Yang didn’t care at all. He held Fan Yuan under the umbrella, and apart from the sound of the rain, nothing else seemed to matter.
“Fan Yuan, I want to kiss you.”
Fan Yuan’s arm around Gu Yang’s lower back tightened, bringing Gu Yang even closer to him.
Gu Yang grinned, and his lips turned a faint shade of red.
“Or, you can kiss me?”
Before the words could finish, the cold lips had already descended.
The rain curtain isolated all sound. The bus arrived, and the people waiting at the bus stop rushed to board.
The bus left again, but Fan Yuan and Gu Yang were still under the big black umbrella, kissing.
The rain continued to drizzle, splashing everywhere, creating different sounds.
They stood at the bus stop for a long time. People came and went around them, and cars passed on the street.
Various gazes fell on them, but nothing left a trace.
Fan Yuan and Gu Yang stayed in the rain for a long time, and their shoes were slightly damp.
The tilted umbrella gradually exposed their half shoulders.
The cold rainwater squeezed under the umbrella, soaking their clothes.
The hand holding the umbrella became more and more crooked. Finally, Fan Yuan threw the umbrella to the ground.
Both of his hands tightly embraced Gu Yang, and the rain poured on them without any barrier.
When the last bus finally arrived, Gu Yang finally struggled out of his trance, gently pushing away Fan Yuan’s shoulder. He bent down to pick up the fallen umbrella.
He was even glad that tonight was just rainy without any strong winds, or else he didn’t know where the umbrella would have blown to.
“Let’s get on the bus. This is the last one.”
They finally boarded the bus, and there were no other passengers except for them.
The bus driver looked at them curiously. They were clearly holding an umbrella, yet they were soaking wet all over.
Fan Yuan and Gu Yang sat at the back of the bus and opened the window slightly. The interior of the bus was dimly lit, everything hidden from view.
The bus driver carefully drove in the rainy night, occasionally glancing at the rearview mirror and finding that the two students who had just boarded had disappeared.
He was taken aback but then noticed that they were hiding behind the backrest of the front seats. A milky-white and slender palm rested on the backrest.
That hand occasionally tightened and relaxed, as if its owner was experiencing something.
The bus driver retracted his gaze and continued to drive attentively.
It wasn’t until they passed a red light that he stopped and waited for the light to turn green. He glanced at the rearview mirror.
The slender and pale hand resting on the backrest was covered by another larger hand.
The large hand tightly entwined with the smaller one, its fingertips forcefully squeezing into the gaps of the other hand, allowing no refusal.
When the countdown of the red light ended and the green light lit up, the bus started again.
The light from the street lamps occasionally shone into the empty bus, occasionally illuminating Gu Yang’s profile.
It was a face with a faint blush and infatuation.
“Fan Yuan… I need oxygen…”
“I’ll give it to you.”
The cool air of the rainy night flowed in through the half-open window, and the sound of the rain curtain covered some secret words.
The journey home was still long.
Author’s note: The journey home is still long, long, long, long, long, long — Just as long as Fan Yuan’s journey~