“Sorry, I arrived late.” Sui Yang knocked on the door and entered the consultation room. The clock on the wall showed 7:35, five minutes past the agreed time.
Dr. Zhuo was reading a book. She looked up at Sui Yang, smiling. “No problem, we were both working overtime anyway. But you rarely arrived late. Did work cause the delay?”
Sui Yang vaguely replied, “Not really.”
“Sui Yang.” Dr. Zhuo noticed his avoidance and looked at him. “When we talk, please try to be more specific.”
Sui Yang understood her intention, but this time, he couldn’t explain the reason for his lateness clearly.
On his way out, he passed by the little bunny sitting motionless on the couch. Without saying a word, he continued towards the front door. When he reached the foyer, Xie Min’s voice came from behind. “Are you leaving now?”
He turned back and said goodbye to Xie Min once again.
Perhaps because at that moment, Xie Min could speak and was still inside the toy that after Sui Yang said goodbye, he couldn’t leave for a while. Xie Min must have found his lingering behavior strange. After a while, she said, “Sui Yang, you’re blocking the screen.” Only then did Sui Yang leave.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to say it now,” Dr. Zhuo turned off the reading light, adjusted the brightness to a softer level, poured him some water, and sat down on the sofa chair opposite him. “Can you tell me why you suddenly decided to message me and schedule a consultation?”
Sui Yang looked at her and, for some reason, didn’t want to speak.
“Sui Yang,” she waited for a moment, then suddenly said, “Can you take a sip of water?”
Sui Yang understood what she meant.
He could refuse Dr. Zhuo’s request, but if he insisted on avoiding the topic, coming to see her would be pointless. Therefore, he leaned forward, picked up the enamel coffee cup, held it in the air, and let it hover for a few seconds.
The water in the cup started to shake slightly due to the abnormal trembling of his hand. It created noticeable ripples. Since the cup was full, a small amount of water soon splashed out. Sui Yang then put it down.
Dr. Zhuo took out a tissue and handed it to him. Sui Yang silently accepted it.
“Did it start after his accident?” Dr. Zhuo asked.
“No. Last night, my virtual pet broke.”
Dr. Zhuo frowned and said, “What do you mean by ‘broke’?”
“The AI program malfunctioned,” Sui Yang fabricated, sticking close to the truth, “It didn’t respond when I interacted with it.”
“Didn’t the seller take responsibility for repairs?” Dr. Zhuo’s brow furrowed even more. “I remember you had only had it for a few days. Does that mean its quality isn’t very good?”
“After a few hours, it started working again.”
“Did you develop stress symptoms just because it broke?” Her eyes filled with concern. “Sui Yang, your condition is not good at all. I feel that the main cause of your stress is not your virtual pet, but I suggest you turn off this virtual pet and stop keeping it.”
“That might not be possible,” Sui Yang immediately rejected, “I want some sleep-inducing medication.”
“I can prescribe medication for you, but it won’t truly improve your condition. You’re not just dealing with insomnia,” Dr. Zhuo looked reluctant, “Sui Yang, it’s just an electronic toy. It’s not Xie Min.”
After contemplating for a moment, she said, “Can you let me see your little bunny again?”
This time, Sui Yang didn’t refuse and took out his phone.
Dr. Zhuo circled around to his side and leaned down to look at his monitoring screen
The little bunny sat there blankly on his couch. If it weren’t for the high-definition camera zooming in, it would have been like a tiny forgotten item left on the sofa. The little bunny was just that small, so far away from being attention-grabbing.
“Why did you choose this rabbit’s image?” Dr. Zhuo asked him, “And it’s pink, not even fluffy. It doesn’t seem like a comforting toy.”
“The manufacturer only had this model.”
Dr. Zhuo didn’t express any opinion. Sui Yang knew she found the manufacturer weird, but he couldn’t provide further explanations.
“Can I talk to it?” she asked again.
“It’s not very convenient,” Sui Yang naturally made up an excuse, “If there are other voices, it might interfere with its programming.”
“Well,” Dr. Zhuo smiled, “Your little rabbit is quite precious then.”
Indeed, the word “precious” could be used to describe Xie Min, so Sui Yang also smiled and said, “Yes.”
“It seems like you really like it,” Dr. Zhuo stood up, walked back to her own couch, and said, “By the way, does it have the same built-in voice as Xie Min?”
Sui Yang said, “Yes, the manufacturer adjusted it for me.”
“His voice sounds pleasant,” Dr. Zhuo added, “How is he doing now? Any updates?”
“He woke up once yesterday, but it was for a short time. It should be a sign of recovery.”
“That’s great,” she expressed genuine joy and then paused slightly. “When he gets better, can you visit him again on your own initiative? Your birthday is coming up. I’m worried that your condition will worsen.”
Sui Yang thought for a moment and didn’t completely reject the idea. “We’ll see when the time comes. I might not be available.”
“…We’ll see,” Dr. Zhuo had a somewhat helpless expression towards him.
To lighten the mood, Sui Yang added, “If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would have forgotten about my birthday.”
“You just don’t like to think about your birthday.” Dr. Zhuo no longer pressed him for an answer. She relaxed her posture and chatted with him, “We’ve known each other for a few years now, almost five years, right? Are you coming to my place to celebrate your birthday this year?” She teased Sui Yang with a slight smile.
With twenty days left until Sui Yang’s birthday, he couldn’t be sure where Xie Min would be at that time. He didn’t make any definitive statements. “I made a reservation, and even if I don’t come, I’ll pay you for the time. How about that?”
“That’s not a problem,” Dr. Zhuo said, “But if you plan to celebrate at home with your pet rabbit, you might as well come to my place.”
Sui Yang didn’t directly answer, “Do I look that weird?”
“You can’t tell just by looking,” she laughed, “Do you remember when you turned twenty-four and celebrated your birthday at my place for the first time? It has already been six years.”
Sui Yang said, “Time indeed flies.” Suddenly, she looked at Sui Yang and asked him, “So, do you still feel the same way as you did back then? Has anything changed even a little?”
Her question wasn’t very explicit, probably because she didn’t want to use precise words that might trigger Sui Yang. Sui Yang felt that she was overthinking, considering him to be fragile, but he also appreciated her thoughtfulness.
When Sui Yang came to Dr. Zhuo on his twenty-fourth birthday, there wasn’t really a special reason behind it.
It was just his birthday, and the consultation happened to be scheduled for that day. After finishing work, he went to Dr. Zhuo’s place.
At that time, Sui Yang and Dr. Zhuo didn’t have very in-depth conversations. Despite knowing each other for a year, their discussions always revolved around work and family, focusing on the trauma caused by Sui Yang’s father’s suicide.
Dr. Zhuo could tell that Sui Yang avoided talking about Xie Min, but she didn’t force him to confess.
Perhaps it was due to the changing of seasons from winter to spring, his insomnia became somewhat severe. Although his daily work was unaffected, he found it difficult to control himself. Within a month, he made four trips to Yuhai, far exceeding his usual frequency.
He arrived at the clinic in the evening and had booked an evening flight to Yuhai.
After chatting about some ordinary topics, Sui Yang suddenly received a call from Chen Liao, who informed him that according to the flight information, Mr. Xie had departed for abroad, perhaps for an urgent business trip.
Sui Yang put down his phone and felt that his inner emotions weren’t too overwhelming. He sent a message to his secretary, asking him to cancel his travel arrangements.
“Is it an important task?” Dr. Zhuo waited for him to put down the phone and asked.
Sui Yang didn’t answer immediately. After giving it some thought, he asked Dr. Zhuo, “Have you ever been in love, Dr. Zhuo?”
“Of course,” she said at that time. “And you?”
Sui Yang replied, “Yes.” She asked Sui Yang, “What kind of person was it? Your standards must be quite high.”
“Quite cute,” Sui Yang simply said. “At first, I thought they were clumsy, but later—”
He didn’t continue his sentence, and Dr. Zhuo patiently waited for a while before asking, “Are you still together?”
“No, we’re not.”
“How long has it been since you broke up?” she asked softly. “Can you tell me?”
“Over four years,” Sui Yang said. “It’s been a long time.”
“Have you not been in another relationship?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“What about them?”
“I don’t know, probably not.”
That day, Dr. Zhuo asked him, “When you asked me earlier, do you still have feelings for this person?”
“It seems impossible not to like them,” Sui Yang spoke about this matter for the first time, which was completely out of character for him. He felt strange while recounting it, but after suppressing it for so long, when he finally revealed it, there wasn’t much emotion in his heart. Instead, he felt a sense of release.
“The reason we broke up wasn’t because we didn’t like each other,” he told Dr. Zhuo, “At that time, we couldn’t be together anymore.”
Dr. Zhuo looked at him but didn’t inquire about the reason for their breakup.
“We got together on my birthday,” Sui Yang voluntarily shared with her, “Five years ago.”
“So, it’s today then,” Dr. Zhuo said, noticing Sui Yang glancing at her. She explained, “I have your file.”
“How did you two get together?” Dr. Zhuo suddenly smiled at him and said, “Was it romantic, a love story from your student days?”
Sui Yang nodded and said, “That day, my mother and grandmother were still in Yuanguang. I’ve told you before, they came to borrow money. My mother messaged me, saying the borrowing didn’t go well.” He recalled briefly, remembering how Xie Min used to follow behind him at the age of eighteen. He smiled to himself. “I was in a bad mood. After class, I wandered outside the school and somehow ended up at the place where my father jumped off. Xie Min— that’s his name—went to the library where we usually did homework together in the evenings. Not finding me there, he called me hundreds of times.
“At first, I didn’t notice because my phone was on silent mode. Finally, at eight o’clock, I picked up the call. Xie Min was furious on the other end, scolding me without even giving me a chance to apologize. He asked where I was, took a taxi, and came over. I was near those abandoned building. As soon as he got out of the car, he started berating me. He scolded me for twenty minutes straight.”
“He has a hot temper,” Dr. Zhuo commented.
“He has the temperament of a young master. There was no one at the construction site anymore, and the security guard sent by the government for the night somehow wasn’t there either. It was just the two of us in the middle of nowhere. I apologized for twenty minutes as well. Then he suddenly said, ‘Why were you running around on your birthday?’ and he ordered a cake for me. Xie Min is very good-looking. His face turned red that day from anger, and while he was scolding me, I kissed him.”
Xie Min, at eighteen years old, was half a head shorter than Sui Yang. His lips were soft, and when kissed, he would just space out. He no longer scolded or got angry, and he immediately seemed well-behaved.
Before going to sleep, Sui Yang closed his eyes. If he thought of Xie Min’s face, he knew he would probably have insomnia again tonight.
“Sui Yang,” Dr. Zhuo noticed his distraction and prompted him, “Have you changed even a little bit now?”
“No,” Sui Yang told her.
On the still-open screen of his phone, which he had shown to Dr. Zhuo earlier, his little bunny hopped on the couch and changed the channel.
“Dr. Zhuo. It’s getting late, I should probably go. I have some things to attend to.”
Dr. Zhuo understood and prescribed him a week’s worth of medication. The nurse delivered the medication, and Sui Yang went home.
On his way back home, he restrained himself from frequently checking the surveillance video. He thought that if he called for Xie Min when he got home and the little bunny didn’t respond, he would take the medication and go to sleep.
Because Xie Min’s departure was an inevitable instant, his LEGO bunny was a miraculous find. He had to accept the loss.
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