Xie Min felt like he hadn’t returned to this city for a hundred years.
He left during the night and arrived in the early morning. Looking through the window, he saw the sunrise gradually brightening the horizon. When the cabin door opened, the alert sound woke him up.
Xie Min didn’t tell Sui Yang that he was coming and took a taxi to the hotel where Sui Yang stayed.
The hotel opened last year, and Xie Min hadn’t stayed there before. Judging by the location, it was close to his school, so he had a rough idea of the area. The car drove along the sunny road, and Xie Min felt both familiar and unfamiliar.
The school was like a temporary house for him. He had a good time living there, but leaving didn’t make him feel any regrets.
He arrived at the hotel, and it was still early. The doorman opened the car door and carried his luggage. Xie Min made a phone call to Sui Yang.
Sui Yang was usually calm, but when he received Xie Min’s call, his tone reminded Xie Min of the day he turned into a little bunny. After Sui Yang got startled, he spoke to Xie Min in a certain way.
“Where were you?” He seemed to doubt if he heard correctly and asked Xie Min again.
“I’m downstairs at the hotel. Surprising, right?” Xie Min felt a bit proud and kicked the suitcase nearby with his toe.
After five minutes, Sui Yang came downstairs. He walked quickly from the direction of the elevator.
Because it was early, there was no one in the lobby. Sui Yang was dressed casually and hurriedly approached Xie Min. He didn’t look fully awake, as if he doubted if he was still dreaming, pursing his lips and wearing a serious expression.
The porter helped Xie Min carry the luggage upstairs.
Sui Yang lived on the top floor of the hotel. Xie Min followed him inside, and after the door closed, Sui Yang turned around and asked Xie Min, “Why did you suddenly come over?”
“Because I don’t want to work anymore,” Xie Min told him.
Sui Yang lowered his head, came closer to Xie Min, and lightly touched his cheek with his hand. He also ran his fingers through Xie Min’s hair. “Then you should rest at home. Children who take overnight flights and stay up late won’t grow tall.” Sui Yang seemed to be a bit more awake and his tone became slightly teasing.
If Xie Min scolded him, he would kiss Xie Min and ask, “Are you tired? Do you want to wash up and sleep for a while?”
Xie Min was indeed a bit exhausted, so he took a shower. He didn’t want to blow-dry his hair, so he called Sui Yang over to help him with it.
Sui Yang’s movements were gentle. Although the sound of the hairdryer was a bit noisy, as he dried Xie Min’s hair, Xie Min was almost falling asleep. Sui Yang put the hairdryer aside and asked him, “So, why did you suddenly come over?”
Xie Min yawned and told Sui Yang, “Yesterday afternoon, I went to the storage room and found the birthday gifts.”
“Why did you give me a hotel voucher?” Xie Min questioned Sui Yang, “You didn’t even tell me. I thought someone else gave it to me, so I passed it on to Jian Liqun.”
“And also the phone,” Xie Min said, “I don’t use it myself. I gave it to my subordinates.”
Sui Yang said, “I know you gave it to them.”
“Hmm,” Xie Min began to complain, “Yesterday, I asked Tan Sichen to find it for me at home, but he had already changed his phone. He’s using a very old one now.”
When Tan Sichen handed him the phone, he was shocked. The person who usually appeared refined and neat had a phone that looked like this.
“If you had told me earlier,” Xie Min reproached Sui Yang, “it wouldn’t have ended up like this.”
Sui Yang stood next to the marble vanity, silently bowing his head as he looked at Xie Min, who was sitting down.
There was still some moisture lingering in the room. Xie Min tilted his head back and said, “Why aren’t you saying anything?”
Whenever Sui Yang fell silent, it always made Xie Min feel that he was gentle, as if the things he did and the words he spoke were never connected in Xie Min’s mind.
“It was just a casual gift,” Sui Yang said, “There’s no need to take it back. Do you want me to buy a new one for you?”
“So, you just drew it casually?” Xie Min asked him, “So, you casually liked me for a moment too.”
Sui Yang immediately said, “No.”
Xie Min successfully teased Sui Yang and couldn’t help but laugh. Sui Yang probably couldn’t accept being verbally subdued by someone he saw as a little student, so he pretended to be composed and said, “Stop talking nonsense,” attempting to end this topic that he didn’t know how to respond to.
“No what?” Xie Min grabbed Sui Yang’s hand and started pressing for answers, “Why doesn’t President Sui explain clearly?”
“Are you a child?”
Xie Min said, “No.”
The city’s sky was brightening, and the atmosphere became a bit more relaxed. The weighty conversation could end here, but Xie Min didn’t want to leave it at that. He continued, “I know Zhuo Ping isn’t your fitness instructor. I consulted her once. But I didn’t mention you.”
Sui Yang didn’t appear too surprised. He apologized to Xie Min and said, “At that time, I didn’t really want you to know, so I lied to you.”
“How long have you been seeing a psychologist?” Xie Min asked.
“A few years,” Sui Yang said, “I don’t have any problems. It’s just routine chatting.” He placed his hand on Xie Min’s face and said, “What about your counseling?”
“Nothing much,” Xie Min imitated him, “Just routine chatting.”
“What kind of routine is that?” Sui Yang laughed and said, “Mr. Xie would have made a great investigator. You remember everything and know everything.”
“No,” Xie Min didn’t respond to Sui Yang’s overly deliberate flattery. He honestly said, “I didn’t know it was from you. It’s because it’s related to you that I remember and know.””
Sui Yang looked at him and said, “Is that so?” Xie Min replied with a simple, “Hmm.”
“Xie Min,” Sui Yang suddenly called out to him, “If you knew it was from me, what would you do?”
“I might call you and scold you,” Xie Min said.
Sui Yang smiled subtly, and Xie Min added, “But that’s better than no contact at all.”
He held Sui Yang’s hand, and Sui Yang leaned down to kiss him, their lips meeting.
Sui Yang said, “I’m sorry, it’s all my fault.”
Xie Min wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for. He suspected that Sui Yang himself wasn’t entirely clear either.
Xie Min felt that Sui Yang seemed conflicted and struggling, not living a better life than himself, maybe even worse. His words would make Xie Min angry to the point of stomping his feet, but he would still kneel half-bent at the crowded station to apply medicine to Xie Min. Every minute at that time seemed wrong, perplexing Xie Min and causing him pain.
Xie Min reached out and hugged Sui Yang’s back. Sui Yang’s head rested between Xie Min’s shoulder and neck, his lips touching Xie Min’s skin, but there was no hidden implication. It seemed like he simply wanted to hold Xie Min tightly in an innocent manner.
“Sui Yang,” Xie Min called him and said, “It’s not that you’re not good. It’s not you, it’s not your dad, it’s not the timing, it’s our unfortunate circumstances. I said I might call you and scold you, but if I really received a gift, I don’t know how I would react. It’s like I’ve never been able to dislike you or forget about you. Maybe we just have really bad luck, very bad. But there’s nothing wrong with you. I don’t think anyone could do better than you.”
Sui Yang’s and Xie Min’s phones kept vibrating, but they ignored them.
Sui Yang lifted the curtain, and Xie Min’s clean and refreshed skin turned damp and sticky in the dimness. Sui Yang’s demands left him defenseless, and Sui Yang’s silence was unlike his usual self.
Xie Min skipped work, and Sui Yang also skipped. It wasn’t until evening that Xie Min remembered and groggily called the restaurant to book lunch for the next day. However, the next day he was too tired to wake up and shamelessly changed the reservation to dinner.
Xie Min didn’t rest well, and when he appeared at the restaurant, the head chef came to see him. The chef remarked on his tired appearance, as if he had indulged excessively, creating a stark contrast to the handsome friend he brought along.
Sui Yang seemed to derive pleasure from this, infuriating Xie Min to the point of wanting to hit him.
Although Xie Min usually didn’t reminisce, being back in familiar surroundings evoked some nostalgia in his heart.
Xie Min excitedly narrated stories about himself and the head chef to Sui Yang, telling him that during his freshman year when the restaurant had just opened and had little popularity, he treated the place as his cafeteria. He became close friends with the head chef and even helped him pursue girls, although they were never successful.
When the head chef personally brought the dishes and overheard the conversation, he scolded Xie Min as a meddling advisor and shared his own story of pursuing his current wife, seeking Xie Min’s opinion. But each time he did the opposite of Xie Min’s suggestions and eventually succeeded.
Xie Min heard about this for the first time and became extremely angry. “I was genuinely giving you advice,” he said.
Under Xie Min’s coercion, the head chef opened a bottle of his cherished wine and presented it to Xie Min.
Xie Min couldn’t finish his drink, leaving Sui Yang to benefit from it for free.
After a satisfying meal, Xie Min took Sui Yang for a stroll around his school.
The campus was bustling with students in the evening. Xie Min pointed out the buildings he used to frequent while Sui Yang mainly listened and occasionally asked questions.
As they passed an old classroom building, Xie Min suddenly remembered that Sui Yang seemed to have started working right after graduating from high school. He paused and asked, “Did you go to college later on?”
“I attended night school,” Sui Yang replied in a normal tone, earnestly telling Xie Min, “It was through correspondence. I studied at a business school for a couple of years, but it wasn’t a formal degree program. It focused more on networking.”
Xie Min suddenly lost the mood to introduce the campus, feeling like he was in an ivory tower while Sui Yang’s early twenties seemed to have been difficult.
“What’s wrong?” Sui Yang asked him, “If Mr. Xie has educational requirements for a boyfriend, I can go back to school. What subject do you like?”
Xie Min wanted to say “idiot,” but somehow he couldn’t bring himself to say it to Sui Yang.
On a spring night by the university lake, Xie Min hugged Sui Yang, resting his chin on Sui Yang’s shoulder and said once again, “Let’s not separate from now on.”
Sui Yang whispered in a low voice, “Okay,” and embraced Xie Min tightly, as if they were still teenagers in love, caring about nothing else, impulsively holding each other in the vast and chaotic world.
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