Room 1201 was a suite. There was a Western dining table in the living area next to the ward. Beside the table was a makeshift bar counter, and there was a set of sofas near the window.
The weather was exceptionally good that day in Yuhai, and the evening sun shone on a table full of dishes, along with a cake placed on the side.
Xie Min chose a blue cake and wrote “Happy Birthday” in red icing. The nurse unpacked the cake and placed it in the middle of the table filled with dishes, but they hadn’t inserted any candles yet.
“Should we light the candles first or eat first?” Xie Min asked Sui Yang.
Sui Yang suggested eating, so the two of them sat down. Sui Yang ate the dishes while Xie Min had the bland hospital meal in front of him.
Xie Min had Chi Yuan order the dishes for Sui Yang from a restaurant that he personally liked. He sniffed the aroma and felt a strong craving, but since he couldn’t eat, he quietly scooped up some tasteless rice porridge with a spoon and put it in his mouth.
Neither of them spoke, and the scene wasn’t very romantic. There was still a faint hospital smell in the air. In reality, Xie Min felt a bit strange, as if they had reluctantly come together and celebrated in an inappropriate setting, turning the birthday into a funeral.
He thought that if Sui Yang had asked him to spend his birthday together out of nostalgia, he probably wouldn’t have wanted to do that awkward thing again in the following years.
Silence wasn’t good for too long, so Xie Min looked up at Sui Yang and asked him, “Does it still taste good?”
Sui Yang replied positively, and Xie Min told him, “This is one of the places I ate at a lot in recent years. If you have time the next time you came to Yuhai, I can take you there for a dine-in experience. The wine pairing is also good.”
“Really?” Sui Yang suddenly said, “If I come to Yuhai, will you really take me there?”
There were only two hanging lights above the Western dining table in the restaurant. As the sun set, the lighting gradually dimmed. Sui Yang’s face appeared profound, and his expression was gentle as he looked into Xie Min’s eyes.
Xie Min said, “There’s no need to deceive you about this,” and added, “But you would have had to wait until I got better.”
Sui Yang responded, “I would have come often this year. I had invested in a new project.”
Xie Min glanced at him and said, “You had come to reclaim Yuhai, hadn’t you?”
Sui Yang smiled and said, “As long as Mr. Xie is here, I wouldn’t dare.”
In fact, it took Xie Min two seconds to react and understand what Sui Yang had said. Sui Yang’s smile seemed very genuine, without the politeness he showed when talking to others. Xie Min immediately felt a flutter in his heart.
To conceal his own emotional reaction, Xie Min lowered his head and took a big mouthful of rice porridge. He heard Sui Yang say, “Is it that delicious?”
With his mouth full, Xie Min didn’t look at him. Sui Yang asked, “Could I have a taste?”
Sui Yang used a pair of public chopsticks to pick up a strip of red garnish and said, “I can trade carrots with you.”
“Get lost,” Xie Min scolded him. “Stop acting up.”
Every time Sui Yang was scolded, he could pretend not to have heard at all. Xie Min thought his skin was really thick. After eating a few more bites, he naturally asked, “When can you stop eating hospital meals?”
“I don’t know. The doctor didn’t say.” Xie Min didn’t want to eat anymore. He put down the spoon, pushed the tray away a little, and leaned back on the chair. Xie Min felt sore in his limbs and had a slight chest pain. He felt like the painkillers were wearing off. He considered whether he should ask the doctor for more.
Sui Yang said he was also full.
Xie Min had difficulty moving, so he took the candles himself, inserted them into the cake, and lit them.
He didn’t turn off the lights. The small flame of a candle flickered in the air, looking very adorable. After putting down the lighter, Sui Yang looked at Xie Min, waiting for something unknown. Xie Min was a bit puzzled and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Sui Yang paused for two seconds and whispered, “Nothing.” He leaned down as if he wanted to blow out the candles. Xie Min reminded him, “Don’t you want to make a wish?”
There was a faint smell of melted wax in the air. It was the moment when dusk transitioned to night, and the room was almost silent. Sui Yang didn’t make a wish and quickly blew out the candle.
“No need. I don’t have any wishes,” he said, removing the candle and cutting a piece of cake. He asked Xie Min, “Can you eat?” Xie Min shook his head, and he ate it himself.
As Xie Min watched Sui Yang eat a piece of cake, drowsiness washed over him, and he couldn’t help but yawn, resting his chin on his hand.
“Are you tired?” Sui Yang asked.
Xie Min said, “I’m fine,” and told Sui Yang, “I’ve been sleeping these past few days. The doctor says my body is still recovering.”
As he spoke, he yawned again, tears welling up in his eyes.
Sui Yang had a smile on his face, clearly teasing Xie Min. Xie Min didn’t feel like scolding him and said, “I’ll go back first. You should get some sleep.”
He put the cover back on the cake and tied the ribbon.
Xie Min was surprised by his frugality and asked, “Are you taking it with you?”
“No point in wasting it,” Sui Yang said, “and you can’t eat it.”
Xie Min exclaimed, “Ah,” and praised him, “President Sui, you’re so environmentally conscious.”
Sui Yang glanced at him but didn’t retort.
He prepared to leave, and Xie Min stood up to see him off. However, his legs felt weak, and he took a few steps, swaying unsteadily. Unable to control his leg muscles properly, he was about to fall forward when Sui Yang reached out and grabbed his arm. Xie Min leaned against his shoulder, reaching out to grab Sui Yang’s clothes for support.
When Xie Min was in the little bunny, he couldn’t feel anything, unlike now when he could truly sense Sui Yang’s strength and body warmth. Sui Yang’s hand had a faint scent of cologne, and even through the fabric of his shirt, Xie Min could feel the slight bulge of his muscles.
“Why are you so cold?” Sui Yang didn’t joke with him and gentlemanly steadied him.
“Naturally low body temperature,” Xie Min was about to say, “You should know,” but luckily, he held back and didn’t say it out loud.
He looked down and noticed that in the process of supporting him, the neatly packed cake from Sui Yang had tilted and bumped against the edge of the box. Through the transparent plastic film on top of the box, he could see that the cream cake inside was a mess.
“Looks like the cake got damaged,” Xie Min pointed out and suggested, “Maybe we shouldn’t have it after all.”
Sui Yang said, “It’s fine,” and still didn’t leave the cake in the hospital room.
It was strange. Even though the atmosphere between them wasn’t particularly warm when they were together, after Sui Yang left, Xie Min felt the room empty and it made him dislike it even more. His physical discomfort also worsened.
The doctor came for rounds and prescribed more painkillers for him.
He read the documents his father had Chi Yuan bring, but his eyelids were heavy and couldn’t stay open. He lay down and fell asleep.
He dreamt all night, dreaming of himself at eighteen, entering the same day on repeat. Every morning he woke up, it was the day he was separated from Sui Yang. Each day, he had the chance to either hold onto Sui Yang at the train station or leave with him.
He could have chosen not to go to the station every day, but he went every single day.
Afraid of being rejected and hurt again, he didn’t go to meet Sui Yang. He simply crouched by the entrance of the second waiting room, watching Sui Yang sitting there. When the train tickets were checked, Sui Yang left.
If he stopped going to the train station, he could start a new life, free from being confined to that same day. But Xie Min knew in his dream that it was just a dream, so he allowed himself to stay stationed in the second waiting room.
He did many things at the train station. He bought a spray to tend to his wounds at the small hotel. He bought soda and had instant noodles, sausages, and tea eggs from the convenience store.
Xie Min woke up and judged himself in the dream as even more out of control than in reality.
Time could heal physical wounds, and Xie Min started rehabilitation. With the doctor’s support, he gradually walked on his own, and his body grew healthier with each passing day.
Under his father’s repeated requests, Xie Min began participating in the company’s video conferences, and the workload that had been placed on Vice President Jian Liqun was shifted back to him.
Jian Liqun came to the hospital to see him and remarked how now that Xie Min was back, he finally had a chance to have a few meals at home.
Sui Yang would occasionally send messages to Xie Min, but the content of the texts made Xie Min think that he had some issues in his mind. Sui Yang had ordered some clothes for the LEGO bunny and sent pictures to Xie Min, asking which one he liked, as if he was deliberately asking for criticism.
After staying in the hospital for more than ten days, Xie Min was finally able to go home.
The afternoon he left the hospital, Yuhai was sunny again. The winter sun shone on the withered grass in the lawn, and the trees in the hospital appeared bare.
Xie Min took the car back to the residential complex, swiped his card to enter the elevator hall, and suddenly recalled the scene from the last time when Sui Yang had brought him here.
It was midnight that day, and now looking back, Xie Min couldn’t help but feel that the two of them were acting a bit suspiciously. Thinking about how Sui Yang held him and walked around the room, he felt like laughing and also felt a bit nostalgic.
Sui Yang had recognized the two paintings Xie Min had won at the auction scene. Xie Min suddenly thought about how he had pretended not to recognize him back then. Now, Xie Min pretended not to care and perfected the act, telling himself that if he met Sui Yang again, he would definitely scold him.
The elevator opened, and nothing had changed in the house. The coffee table and sofa were wiped clean, as if he had never left.
Xie Min stood in the living room for a moment before heading to the study.
He walked to the cabinet, pulled it open, and noticed that a box of the medication that was originally stored there had been taken by Sui Yang. Xie Min looked at the empty spot and couldn’t help but nostalgically recall the vacation life as Xiao Tu.
Although Xiao Tu couldn’t do anything, it was boring every day. It couldn’t eat or drink and was easily broken. But as Xiao Tu, there was someone to accompany him, and it seemed even being bored was more preferable than the current situation. In this era, even Xie Cheng had someone to keep him company.
Lost in thought, his phone suddenly rang.
Sui Yang sent him a message: “I came to Yuhai temporarily today for some business. How’s your health?”
Xie Min simply sat on the floor and replied to Sui Yang’s message: “I just got discharged from the hospital today.” Thinking about his previous promise, he asked, “Shall I treat you to a meal?”
Sui Yang didn’t respond to the message but called instead. Xie Min sat beside the medicine cabinet, stunned for a few seconds, and answered the call.
“Don’t go out,” Sui Yang said. “Is there someone cooking at your home? If there is, I’ll come over and join you for a meal.”
“Yes,” Xie Min said, “That works, but the food my housekeeper cooks isn’t particularly delicious.”
“That’s alright,” Sui Yang said, “I’m not picky.”
Xie Min sent Sui Yang the access code and asked his housekeeper to prepare the meal. His father called him on the phone.
His father discussed company matters with him and asked him to listen in on the discussion. He had no choice but to sit on the sofa and open his computer.
The meeting was halfway through when Sui Yang arrived, and his housekeeper went to open the door for him.
When Sui Yang entered, Xie Min, under his father’s insistence, shared a few of his thoughts. There was a discrepancy between the progress of a project discussed in the meeting and what he had been working on before the incident. However, he planned to review it carefully tomorrow and didn’t bring it up during the meeting.
Another ten minutes passed before the meeting finally ended. His father called him again and had a private conversation with him.
Sui Yang sat on the other side of the sofa, watching him hang up the phone, and said, “Busy with work?”
Xie Min set his computer aside and said, “Annoying.” He stood up and led Sui Yang towards the dining room.
Following his memory, Xie Min had his housekeeper prepare a few dishes that Sui Yang liked while he himself ate the hospital-provided meal.
“Why are you still eating this?” Sui Yang looked at him sympathetically.
With the aroma wafting in the air, unable to eat, Xie Min glared at him and said, “None of your business.”
Unsure if it was just his imagination, he felt that the hospital food today was worse than before. The rice was lumpy, and he felt dizzy from eating it. He forced himself to swallow a bitter piece of chicken, and suddenly, the world started spinning.
Just as he was about to comment on how something could be so unappetizing, he realized he couldn’t make a sound. His vision became blurry, and then he lost consciousness.
When Xie Min woke up again, he was in a pitch-black place.
He blinked a few times, feeling a strange yet familiar sensation. The dizziness was gone, and his limbs felt strong. He sat up and realized the place was narrow. He took a few steps in the darkness and suddenly something grabbed him.
He was pulled out of the darkness and found himself held by a large hand. Looking up, he saw Sui Yang with a bewildered expression on his face.
They were in a hospital corridor that seemed hundreds of times larger. Sui Yang, perhaps surprised, moved his hand slightly. Afraid of falling, Xie Min quickly and skillfully extended his limbs, using all four of them, firmly holding onto Sui Yang’s fingers.
“…Xie Min?” Sui Yang held him in the palm of his hand and asked softly, hesitantly.
“What the hell is going on?” Xie Min cursed.
At that moment, Xie Min noticed that his small paws were wrapped in pink fabric. That damn Sui Yang had dressed him in a pink tight-fitting outfit which he considered the most girly.
But it shouldn’t be this way, and he couldn’t explain why, but Xie Min found himself almost happy at that moment.
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