“Why didn’t you reply to my messages?” Eighteen-year-old Xie Min, carrying his backpack, scowled at Sui Yang. “I waited for a long time at the library.”
Sui Yang moved aside, allowing Xie Min to come in, and apologized to him.
Xie Min wore a white long-sleeved T-shirt with a brand logo on the sleeve. His skin was fair. The living room in Baoqi Garden had cool-toned lights that gave his face a pale appearance. Xie Min had long eyelashes, resembling a well-dressed doll.
After entering the room, Xie Min crossed his arms, pretending to be angry. “Just a simple apology.”
Sui Yang had a lot on his mind and felt he couldn’t console Xie Min anymore. He couldn’t even crack a joke. He stayed silent, gazing at Xie Min for a while, and Xie Min blushed inexplicably.
“What’s the matter?” Xie Min whispered, leaning closer to Sui Yang. Sui Yang caught a faint scent of night-blooming jasmine on him.
Xie Min picked up the scent while walking from the library to Sui Yang’s house.
After getting closer to Sui Yang, Xie Min tilted his face slightly, as if waiting for Sui Yang to kiss him. But his patience was poor. If Sui Yang didn’t make a move for a few seconds, he would lean in a bit more and peck Sui Yang’s corner of the mouth.
Sui Yang couldn’t resist and kissed Xie Min’s lips.
Xie Min’s backpack dropped to the ground as he embraced Sui Yang. Growing too tall too quickly, Xie Min appeared thin. Sui Yang lowered his head and softly kissed Xie Min’s neck.
Xie Min’s face turned pink, even the knuckles of his fingers had a rosy hue. His usual fierceness faded away as he whispered Sui Yang’s name and pressed his body against him.
Listening to Xie Min’s voice and seeing his gaze, Sui Yang felt like his soul was being torn in two by a saw.
One half stayed with Xie Min, silently expressing Sui Yang’s feelings for him.
For instance, Sui Yang had never liked anyone this much before. It was the first time he longed to regain the smooth life and happy family he had before turning eighteen. He wished to be as confident as his former self and enter a relationship with Xie Min without any fear.
Perhaps they could go to many places together, from high school to college, and even work together in the future. They could transition from being secretive to being open about their relationship.
Meanwhile, the other half of Sui Yang’s soul had distanced itself from Yuhai. He forced himself to hide in remote places, trying to escape Xie Min’s name.
He couldn’t remember how he let go of Xie Min and told him, “I have something to tell you. After the case is over, I will go to Yuanguang.”
Xie Min was initially surprised, then exclaimed, “Ah, it’s so far.”
“Then I can go to Yuanguang for college,” Xie Min immediately said to Sui Yang. “What do you think?”
“Yuanguang may not have a suitable college for you,” Sui Yang looked at Xie Min’s blank expression, unable to control himself. He lifted his hand and gently touched Xie Min’s face.
“Xie Min,” he heard himself say, “what I mean is that after I go to Yuanguang, let’s not contact each other for a while.”
Xie Min stared at him, eyes wide open, as if not understanding. After a while, he finally asked, “Why?”
“I will be very busy there.”
“Don’t you even have time for a phone call?” Xie Min stared at him, slightly furrowing his eyebrows, as if trying to decipher his meaning. Then he defended himself, “I don’t like bothering you that much.”
“It’s not that.” Sui Yang didn’t realize how difficult it would be to say such things to Xie Min.
The words he had planned, “I don’t know how things will be in the future, and I don’t want to waste your time,” couldn’t seem to come out.
Xie Min pushed him slightly, looking visibly upset, and said, “What do you mean, ‘it’s not that’? Explain it more clearly.”
This might be the only time in Sui Yang’s memory when he had fully planned something but completely failed.
Sui Yang couldn’t explain things to Xie Min and bid farewell as he had imagined.
When Xie Min got angry with Sui Yang, complaining about his strange words and demanding an apology, Sui Yang found himself only able to say, “I’m sorry.”
The failed conversation didn’t last long. Xie Min’s father called, asking where Xie Min was and telling him to come home immediately.
Sui Yang accompanied Xie Min back home and then took the last subway train, leaving by himself.
The train compartment was empty. Sui Yang didn’t sit down but stood by the stainless steel pole, unable to control his constant thoughts about Xie Min. He feared that after going to Yuanguang, he would suffer greatly. Worries filled his mind about being too far from Xie Min and his own ability to handle the situation.
After returning home, Xie Min didn’t contact Sui Yang for about two to three days.
Sui Yang thought that Xie Min was angry, so he sent messages and called, but Xie Min didn’t reply.
When the holidays arrived, Sui Yang’s family had a court hearing, leaving him with no time to spare. After it ended, when Sui Yang went to the school to handle his withdrawal procedures, he went to the classroom where he remembered Xie Min’s schedule, hoping to find him. However, Xie Min didn’t attend class.
Sui Yang planned to ask some students who had a good relationship with Xie Min. As he walked out of the teaching building, he noticed Xie Min’s older brother, Xie Cheng, wearing a red jersey and sitting with a few classmates, taking a break by the basketball court.
It seemed like a fateful arrangement. As Sui Yang approached, he overheard one of Xie Cheng’s classmates ask him, “Why haven’t we seen your younger brother these days?”
“He’s practically dead,” Xie Cheng, with his back facing Sui Yang, casually said, “Unbelievable. He stole thirty thousand yuan from my father’s safe, and my father found out.”
“How did he find out?” one of Xie Cheng’s classmates exclaimed in surprise.
“I just realized how difficult my father can be,” Xie Cheng said. “He counts the safe every week. When he found out the money was missing, the first thing he did was check how much money was left in mine and Xie Min’s bank accounts.”
“I still have five thousand yuan in my account, but Xie Min has nothing,” Xie Cheng shrugged. “It’s pretty obvious who stole it.”
“Why did he steal the money?”
“I have no idea,” Xie Cheng sounded perplexed too. “He refuses to say, so it really angered my father. He made Xie Min kneel in the living room yesterday. In the morning, the nanny told us he fainted, but my father didn’t let him go to the hospital. He woke up and was sent back upstairs on his own.”
“…Your family is so wealthy, how did thirty thousand yuan turn into this?” a classmate exclaimed in disbelief.
“Well,” Xie Cheng sighed, “that’s how my father is. Xie Min doesn’t usually spend money recklessly. I don’t know what he did with it. Even though he has some issues in his head and constantly argues with me… he’s been quite pitiful these days.”
It was already hot that day, standing under the sun, sweat would soon start forming.
Sui Yang didn’t listen any further. He left the school and took a bus in the direction of Xie Min’s house. Midway through the journey, he received a message from Xie Min.
Xie Min didn’t explain the reason for his disappearance these past few days. He simply said, “I just read the news about your family’s case in the newspaper.”
“When are you leaving?” he asked Sui Yang.
Sui Yang tried calling him, but he hung up. Then Xie Min sent a message, telling Sui Yang, “Please don’t call me for now. It’s not convenient for me to answer. I performed poorly on the exam, and my father is angry.”
The bus was crowded, and there was a lingering smell of sweat in the air. The air conditioning wasn’t on, with only two or three windows slightly open, making the bus uncomfortably hot.
Sui Yang was taller than most people. He looked at the densely packed heads in front of him, then lowered his head to read the message. This time, he felt that Xie Min’s deception was quite forced, and the reasons he fabricated were hard to convince anyone. With one hand, Sui Yang replied to Xie Min, “I went to school today to handle the withdrawal procedures, and you didn’t come to school.”
“I’m studying at home,” Xie Min told him, “I feel exhausted every day.”
“Is your father at home?” Sui Yang thought about Xie Min’s situation as mentioned by Xie Cheng, and his breath became constricted. He asked Xie Min, “Can I come see you?”
Xie Min immediately replied, “No, there are many teachers at home,” and “I have to attend additional tutoring soon. I took a moment to send you this message.”
Sui Yang looked at the poorly crafted lies Xie Min sent him. He stared at them for who knows how long until the bus arrived at the nearest stop to Xie Min’s house.
He got off the bus and stood at the bus stop.
The sunlight shone on him, making his skin feel scorching hot.
Sui Yang thought that he genuinely didn’t want Xie Min to go through so much effort to fabricate lies just to make him feel slightly better. He couldn’t bear to see Xie Min suffer any unnecessary hardships.
Xie Min was always a pampered young master, living a life of luxury, while Sui Yang was different from his former self. He was about to become unsettled, constantly drifting, no longer belonging to the same social class as Xie Min.
Sui Yang didn’t walk towards Xie Min’s house. He kept his head down, looking at the screen of his phone, trying to figure out what to say. He felt a sharp pain in his brain, and after contemplating for a while, he messaged Xie Min, “I know you helped me repay the money.”
Xie Min didn’t immediately reply to his message this time.
“I will repay you as soon as possible,” Sui Yang sent another message. Suddenly, he remembered that even the phone he was using was a gift from Xie Min.
Another bus passed by, passengers getting on and off, people bustling around.
Sui Yang felt lost. He didn’t know what he had done wrong, but he also felt that maybe it was wrong from the beginning. It was all his fault because he was immature, too naive and irrational. He wasn’t suitable for Xie Min, and there was nothing he could do.
If he hadn’t chosen the physics lab during course selection, maybe Xie Min would still be carefree, without having to worry so much about him. Perhaps Xie Min would have developed feelings for someone else.
Xie Min never liked Sui Yang in the first place.
Xie Min finally replied, scolding Sui Yang, “What money? I don’t understand.”
In reality, Xie Min was still adorable, but Sui Yang couldn’t find it in himself to smile. He felt that he was incoherent and unable to express himself properly. He sent a message to Xie Min saying, “Don’t do anything for me in the future.” He typed “like an elementary school student” but then deleted it, unsure of what else to say.
Xie Min finally gave up pretending to be studying and made a call to Sui Yang.
Sui Yang was well aware that he had almost no way to reject Xie Min face-to-face, so he didn’t answer the call.
Xie Min called a few times with no answer, then sent messages urging Sui Yang to answer the phone. Eventually, he even started getting angry.
Sui Yang gave up and turned off his phone, returning home.
At that moment, Sui Yang thought it could all end there because Xie Min was still trapped at home, while he was about to leave.
It wasn’t until two days later, at 4:30 in the afternoon, in the waiting room of the train station. Sui Yang sat on a chair, staring blankly with his eyes downcast. With twenty minutes left until the train ticket check, a pair of sneakers appeared in front of him.
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