The weather was nice on the day they went to the art exhibition. Shi Shan’s company was near Xie Min’s workplace, so Xie Min gave her a ride to the art gallery.
The art gallery, a beautiful cement building, was located in the outskirts of the city. They parked the car and walked inside, where they found Sui Yang already waiting for them.
He stood next to the entrance gate, with the sunlight shining on his coat and face. He greeted Xie Min and Shi Shan naturally, as if he had just come from the vicinity of the art gallery, rather than from Yuanguang.
The art exhibition was on the third floor. Shi Shan and the artist had a phone conversation before taking the elevator upstairs. The artist’s assistant was waiting at the elevator door and guided them forward.
“Teacher Li went out for a meal,” the assistant explained, opening the retractable belt blocking the entrance and exit of the exhibition. “He’ll be back soon.”
“He told me,” Shi Shan said, “It’s okay, we can explore on our own for now.”
The exhibition hall was spacious, with white walls adorned with paintings. Each artwork had a brief introduction. The group of people patiently waited for the artist and went through the paintings one by one.
Shi Shan and the artist were well acquainted, and she softly explained the background of the paintings she was familiar with. Sui Yang stood by Xie Min’s side and noticed how Xie Min kept looking at one particular evening scene painting. He casually asked, “Do you like this one?”
Xie Min nodded, and Shi Shan, who overheard, suddenly said, “I didn’t know you two were so close. Xie Min never mentioned it before.”
Sui Yang glanced at Xie Min but remained silent. Shi Shan continued, “Actually, when I was young, my oil painting teacher used to talk about Sui Yang a lot. Back then, Sui Yang won many awards. Do you still paint these days?”
“Not much anymore,” Sui Yang quickly replied. “Those were just children’s awards, nothing worth mentioning.”
“You can’t really call yourself a child in your teens,” Shi Shan laughed and said, “You’re so modest.”
“Is it true? Can you paint?” Xie Min asked, looking up at Sui Yang, suddenly recalling that there might be some truth to it.
It was because he and Xie Cheng had been sent by their father to learn sketching for a short month. Xie Min’s lack of talent resulted in poor drawings, while Xie Cheng’s mischievous nature led to poking classmates with a pencil and causing injuries. Eventually, both of them were politely advised to leave by the teacher.
“I’m not really skilled,” Sui Yang seemed eager to change the topic quickly and said, “Let’s go see something else.” Then he walked towards another painting.
Xie Min rarely saw Sui Yang showing this kind of awkwardness, so he didn’t miss the chance to tease him. He followed closely behind him and said, “General Sui, with so many talents, can you give me one of your paintings as a gift?”
“Sure,” Sui Yang glanced at him. “Pick one from the exhibition, and I’ll give it to you.”
“Can’t you give me one that you painted yourself?” Xie Min asked him with a cheerful smile, pretending not to notice the warning in his eyes.
Sui Yang didn’t respond and looked at the garden landscape oil painting in front of him, seemingly oblivious. He asked Xie Min, “Do you like this one? If you do, I’ll give it to you.”
“I like the one you painted,” Xie Min pursued him with the question.
Sui Yang glanced at him for a few seconds, as if wondering why someone could be so persistent. However, he eventually gave up trying to avoid it and sighed softly to Xie Min, “If you really want it, I’ll go back and paint one for you.”
Shi Shan interjected, “Can I also have one?”
Just as she finished speaking, her phone rang. The artist had returned and asked where they were.
She hurriedly walked towards the entrance, leaving Sui Yang and Xie Min standing in front of the oil painting.
“What awards have you won, Sui Yang?”
Sui Yang, perhaps surprised that Xie Min was still focused on that topic, smiled politely and asked, “Are we not planning to talk about something else today?”
“No,” Xie Min replied cheerfully, wanting to read the description of the oil painting. He leaned closer to Sui Yang, his hand accidentally brushing against the back of his coat. Suddenly, he felt an unusual texture.
He glanced down and noticed that Sui Yang’s wool coat had a stiff texture that wasn’t apparent from the outside. However, when Xie Min touched it earlier, he sensed something small and rigid.
Xie Min’s heart fluttered slightly. Seeing that Sui Yang seemed engrossed in reading the description, he discreetly leaned his hand back, lightly brushing against Sui Yang’s clothes.
The texture of the wool coat felt slightly rough to Xie Min. After a few more touches, still uncertain of his suspicions, Sui Yang, who appeared to be focused on the painting, suddenly grabbed his hand, gripping his wrist firmly. “What are you doing, Mr. Xie?” he asked with a slight force.
His hand was warm and strong, momentarily catching Xie Min off guard.
Sui Yang quickly released his hand, and the warmth on Xie Min’s wrist faded, but the strength lingered.
“What do you have in your pocket?” Xie Min couldn’t help but ask.
Sui Yang remained silent. Xie Min looked around and saw that Shi Shan hadn’t come over yet. He reached into Sui Yang’s coat pocket, and he made no attempt to stop him.
The interior of the pocket was lined with silk, warmed by Sui Yang’s body heat. As he reached in, his hand came across a strange object.
It was a soft cotton fabric, encasing something rigid with long ears—a LEGO bunny. Sui Yang didn’t prevent him and looked at him openly, as if placing a LEGO bunny in his pocket was an act that everyone would openly do.
Due to the act of reaching into Sui Yang’s pocket, Xie Min and Sui Yang stood very close to each other.
Sui Yang asked him naturally, “Did you find it?” Xie Min, unexpectedly, felt a slight blush on his face. Without saying another word, he withdrew his hand.
With the arrival of the artist and Shi Shan, the atmosphere became lively. Xie Min reserved two paintings, and Sui Yang also chose one before they each returned to their respective companies.
During dinner time, Xie Min promptly attended a long-awaited business dinner organized by his father. Important figures that his father sought to impress were present. In order to demonstrate his generosity, not only did Xie Min’s father drink, but he also forced Xie Min to join in. Glass after glass, Xie Min soon became dizzy. He excused himself to vomit once and returned to drink even more.
After the dinner ended, Xie Min’s father had to accompany the guests to their next destination. He first helped them into the car and then turned around to see Xie Min being supported by Chi Yuan, weakly leaning against a nearby pillar. He looked at him with disdain and said, “How did your alcohol tolerance become so terrible lately? You’re even worse than your old man.”
“I’m still not well,” Xie Min’s vision darkened, his stomach churning violently. He went back to the restroom and vomited again.
Chi Yuan asked the waiter to bring him mouthwash. After rinsing his mouth, he rested for a while before walking out. Xie Min’s father had already left.
Xie Min got into the car and rested for a while, leaning back in his seat. When he opened his eyes, he stared blankly at the neon lights outside the car window, trees adorned with colorful lights. Inside the car, the weather news played, stating that Yuhai would have clear weather throughout the next week.
After watching for a while, Xie Min felt drowsy and something seemed off. His residential area had passed, and now they were heading towards his company. He spoke up to stop the driver, “I’m not going to the office. Take me home.”
“Mr. Xie, we’re not going to the office,” Chi Yuan’s voice sounded patient as he explained, “We’re going to Mr. Sui’s place.”
“…Oh.” Xie Min belatedly recalled, his heart beating a little faster, realizing his mistake.
“Would you like to go back to your own house then?” Chi Yuan inquired.
“…Just keep driving,” Xie Min replied softly. He shifted his focus to the lights on the street and half-lit signs.
After entering the elevator, Chi Yuan left. Xie Min ascended to his floor and staggered into his apartment. He initially thought he would be alone at home, but as he took a few more steps, he noticed someone sitting on the sofa in the living room.
Sui Yang was reading a magazine beside the reading lamp. Upon seeing Xie Min enter, he seemed to furrow his brows and said, “How did you end up like this?” He then got up and walked towards Xie Min.
With dizziness and disorientation, Xie Min felt that Sui Yang was meddling too much, lacking boundaries. He pointed her finger at him, sternly commanding, “Don’t you dare talk about me.”
Surprisingly, Sui Yang remained unaffected by Xie Min’s commanding presence. He even laughed and said, “How much did you drink, Xie Min?”
“And don’t you dare laugh either,” Xie Min warned as he saw him approaching, immediately pushing his shoulder to demonstrate his own strength.
Sui Yang wasn’t moved by his push, which irritated Xie Min. He raised his head and stared at Sui Yang, asking firmly, “Why aren’t you budging?”
Behind Sui Yang was the bird-shaped crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling, shimmering brightly and making Xie Min dizzy. To protect his vision, he stared for a moment and then immediately closed his eyes. He heard Sui Yang’s amused voice saying, “If you’re not feeling well, you shouldn’t drink so much. Go upstairs and get some sleep.”
Sui Yang’s tone made it seem like he was Xie Min’s parent, but he couldn’t tolerate being subservient to him. Opening his eyes again, he coldly warned, “I don’t need you to take care of me.”
“Fine, I won’t interfere,” Sui Yang continued to smile, even taking out his phone, as if he intended to take a picture of Xie Min.
Xie Min despised being secretly photographed, so he swiftly grabbed Sui Yang’s phone and threw it onto the carpet.
Sui Yang looked at him for a few seconds, let out a sigh, and said, “Why is it so difficult to deal with you when you’re drunk?”
Ignoring him, Xie Min stumbled and turned around, intending to go upstairs. It was his own decision to go upstairs, not Sui Yang’s.
Sui Yang followed him and reached out to support him, but he was firmly rejected.
Passing by the coat rack, Xie Min noticed Sui Yang’s coat hanging there, the one he had worn during the day. He immediately walked over and felt Sui Yang’s pockets.
After searching for a while, feeling both sides, Xie Min discovered that the coat pockets were empty. He turned to Sui Yang and asked, “Where is it?”
“What are you talking about?” Sui Yang questioned.
“Don’t play dumb with me, the little bunny,” Xie Min tapped him.
Sui Yang sighed in a somewhat helpless manner, walked back to the coffee table, bent down to pick something up, and then approached Xie Min, holding out his hands.
In his hands was a little bunny dressed in a tight white outfit. Xie Min became furious. “Why is it wearing white again?”
“The black one is being washed.” Sui Yang looked at him, clearly not taking him seriously and trying to deceive him.
Xie Min felt that this LEGO bunny was kept in Sui Yang’s house, forced to wear strange outfits by him. He reached out and took the bunny, declaring, “It belongs to me now.”
Just as he was about to remove the bunny’s clothes, Sui Yang held his hand, speaking softly, “Stop causing a scene. It will fall apart.”
Perhaps due to the alcohol, Xie Min felt hot while Sui Yang’s hands felt colder than his. It was a novel sensation for Xie Min, who no longer paid attention to the little bunny. He rested his hand on Sui Yang’s, then lifted it and lightly touched Sui Yang’s neck and face, happily sharing his discovery, “You are colder than me now, Sui Yang.”
Sui Yang remained still, only taking back the little bunny from Xie Min’s hand.
With his hands freed, Xie Min lifted them and cradled Sui Yang’s face, which felt somewhat comforting and cool to him. He realized it had been a while since he had seen Sui Yang, as if they hadn’t met in a long time.
Everything in the room seemed to sway. Sui Yang, wearing a shirt, looked incredibly handsome as he earnestly gazed at Xie Min, his hand resting on Xie Min’s shoulder. Xie Min also looked at Sui Yang intently, wondering why Sui Yang had been gone for so long without coming to see him. Time had passed so quickly, and time could be so cruel.
“Sui Yang.” Xie Min solemnly locked eyes with him, comparing Sui Yang to how he was when they parted at the train station that day, searching for any differences.
It seemed like he had grown a little, or maybe not. Xie Min looked for a while but couldn’t draw any conclusions. Finally, with a reproachful tone, he said to Sui Yang, “You can’t do this again next time.”
In truth, Xie Min wasn’t entirely sure what that statement meant, but he felt that he sounded quite reasonable.
Sui Yang remained silent, gripping Xie Min’s shoulder blades tightly. Xie Min winced in pain, unsure of what Sui Yang intended to do. Sui Yang lowered his head, leaned in, and with his cold lips, kissed Xie Min.
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