After returning to the hotel room, Sui Yang set Xie Min on the coffee table and opened his computer to make a phone call and handle work matters.
He worked diligently, and Xie Min didn’t disturb him. He sat nearby and independently enjoyed the view.
The morning fog had disappeared, and the cityscape of Yuhai looked no different from what Xie Min could see from his company’s office. Xie Min gazed out of the window, calmly reflecting that if he hadn’t been in a car accident, he would likely be busy working at the office.
With a master’s degree and six years in the company, Xie Min had only taken three days off.
It was during a spring season when he caught a cold for unknown reasons. Feeling low, he didn’t feel like going to the hospital or going out. For the first time, he stubbornly asked Chi Yuan to reschedule all his work. He spent his time at home, taking medicine, sleeping, and daydreaming.
On the third morning of his vacation, the auction house delivered the paintings he had won. His father called to scold him for being unproductive and missing an important dinner. He regained his spirits and immersed himself in work again. Since then, he hadn’t taken a break until this moment when he was forced to stay by Sui Yang’s side, observing Sui Yang’s busyness as if an invisible wall had separated them due to some extraordinary event.
It had been over forty hours since he entered the toy bunny. Xie Min had gradually accepted the situation, becoming calm.
He realized he had returned to Yuhai but didn’t feel settled in his heart. Instead, he became more confused about what to do next. He wanted to leave Sui Yang quickly but couldn’t think of anyone trustworthy in this situation.
Whichever option he chose seemed to come with predictable risks.
He glanced down at his pink LEGO torso and, as if under some influence, threw a small punch into the air.
The tiny plastic limbs moved in a comical yet pointless manner, as if they were wound up. Xie Min immediately realized that overthinking was futile and decided to temporarily abandon thoughts and address the situation later at the hospital.
Xie Min didn’t want anyone to notice his childish gestures, but Sui Yang, focused on his work, was easily distracted. He would frequently raise his head and ask Xie Min with concern, “Are you exercising?”
Xie Min retracted his front legs and returned to a squatting position, leaping in a half-circle toward Sui Yang. “Mind your own business.”
Sui Yang obediently remained silent, refraining from saying anything, and resumed typing on the keyboard.
At 2:40 PM, Jiang Ci called, informing Sui Yang that he had arrived at the hotel downstairs. Sui Yang closed his laptop, scooped up Xie Min, put him in his pocket, and left the room.
On a congested weekend afternoon, the traffic in Yuhai reached extreme levels. Cars queued up at the junction beneath the elevated road, barely moving ten meters in five minutes.
Jiang Ci’s voice, so familiar to Xie Min, came through from outside the dark pocket, muffled as if enveloped in mist. Xie Min squatted there, listening, feeling a mix of complexity and unease.
“How’s your house? Did you manage to buy it?”
“I managed to buy it. The landlord was kind and didn’t give me any trouble.”
“That’s good to hear,” Jiang Ci said. “I heard there will be news about Xie Min tomorrow.”
He sighed softly and said, “All his vital signs are normal, so why can’t he wake up… He complained to me about his dad pressuring him to go on blind dates, as if it happened just yesterday.”
Upon hearing the words “blind dates,” Xie Min’s expression flickered slightly, and Sui Yang almost immediately followed up, “He’s going on blind dates? With whom?”
“It’s hard to keep track. At least seven or eight have been arranged, but he hasn’t gone on any yet.”
“Seven or eight,” Sui Yang’s voice carried a hint of amusement as he repeated, “He’s quite popular.”
Sui Yang fiddled with his coat pocket, causing Xie Min to feel a slight shake inside. She silently cursed Jiang Ci for bringing up the topic and wished he could jump out and demand Jiang Ci not reveal his privacy. But he had no choice but to shrink into a corner of the pocket and play dead.
“Yes,” Jiang Ci continued as if he couldn’t stop himself, “When we were young, he was just like me. Hard to find in a crowd. Now, he’s much more popular than me.”
Sui Yang remained silent. Jiang Ci suddenly seemed to remember something, his tone laced with amusement. “When you first met Xie Min, he wasn’t tall, was he? At that time, he had a secret crush on that senior sister. When she gave you a love letter and was turned down, he thought you had deceived her feelings. He came rushing to you for a fight.” Jiang Ci burst into laughter. “Do you remember?”
“Hmm, I remember.” Sui Yang laughed as well.
Xie Min felt extremely embarrassed. This could easily be one of the top ten memories he least wanted to mention in his life. If possible, he just wanted to make Jiang Ci lose his voice for twenty-four hours, all the way until Sui Yang left Yuhai.
“I actually ran into her at a dinner party last year but didn’t dare to tell Xie Min,” Jiang Ci didn’t become mute as Xie Min wished, and he continued reminiscing, “I think her last name was Zhuang, Zhuang something…”
“Zhuang Leyou,” Sui Yang smoothly provided.
Jiang Ci paused for a moment and said, “Sui Yang, your memory is really impressive.”
“If a stranger who’s one point five meters suddenly comes running up and accuses you of bullying a girl, you won’t forget it either.”
Jiang Ci burst into laughter, leaving Xie Min infuriated and dizzy.
At that time, Xie Min had just hit puberty, and his height was around 1.63 meters.
Just as Xie Min’s anger was about to reach its peak, Sui Yang, with unwavering boldness, committed a daring act. He slid his hand into his pocket and playfully glided it over Xie Min’s bunny head, as if washing his face.
Xie Min vigorously swung his front limbs to intercept Sui Yang’s fingertips. Sui Yang stopped touching and gently rested his finger on Xie Min’s paw, turning it into a LEGO bunny accessory—a sandbag.
“Did you two actually fight that time? Why wasn’t I there?” Jiang Ci gossiped with a sigh. “Xie Min used to be quite punchable.”
Sui Yang suddenly fell silent for a few seconds. Xie Min grabbed onto his finger, perked up his ears, and heard Sui Yang say, “No, we didn’t fight. I just thought ‘Where did this elementary school student get such a huge temper?'”
Jang Ci laughed again. “Make sure he doesn’t overhear this. His temper has worsened now. I’m afraid he might find someone to attack you.”
“Is that so,” Sui Yang muttered softly.
Jiang Ci was partially correct in his statement, but not entirely. Xie Min felt more embarrassed than anything else.
Perhaps he had matured or maybe he was a bit indifferent because it did involve his and Sui Yang’s memories.
It was just like at noon in Sui Yang’s house when Sui Yang made a joke about Xie Min’s first visit. Xie Min didn’t truly get angry, at most he realized, in a sudden moment, that it seemed like too much time had passed. He was left with lingering feelings. He also discovered that he didn’t know how to adjust the water temperature in Sui Yang’s bathroom when he was younger, resulting in a cold shower. It had become a long-standing joke that could be teased about now.
Xie Min never forgot Zhuang Leyou’s name. However, his version of the story might differ slightly from Sui Yang’s and Jiang Ci’s. His version was more detailed and included the cause and effect.
Before Xie Min turned seventeen, Sui Gaozhuo held great influence in Yuhai City, while the Xie family hadn’t reached the same level of prosperity as they did now.
As Sui Gaozhuo’s son, Sui Yang’s name was often mentioned by Xie Min’s father at home. Whatever award Sui Yang received or whatever subject he was studying, Xie Min’s father would ask Xie Min to follow suit and learn along with him.
Both families lived in different areas of Yuhai and never had a chance to meet during their childhood. Xie Min’s first encounter with Sui Yang was probably during a subject competition when they were around eight or nine years old. Sui Yang stood out, attracting attention like a star among the crowd, and he didn’t notice Xie Min. Even after entering the same high school, there was a period of time when he had no knowledge of Xie Min’s full name.
However, Xie Min wasn’t like Xie Cheng, who would develop strong emotions of care or jealousy. At most, he felt that as fellow high school students, Sui Yang was overly showy, pretentious in his speech, and annoying.
Xie Min and Sui Yang were in different classes, and their main classrooms were far apart. They didn’t have any overlapping elective courses. Xie Min had his own circle of study, life, and friends, with no interaction with Sui Yang. It wasn’t until the beginning of the second semester of their freshman year that Xie Min chose to take Spanish class and met Zhuang Leyou.
Zhuang Leyou was one year ahead of Xie Min and was beautiful with a gentle and generous personality. At seventeen, Xie Min was experiencing his first crush and fell in love with her. He couldn’t eat and couldn’t focus on anything. Whenever the Spanish class started, he became nervous and awkward. Even Xie Cheng, who was usually laid-back with low intelligence, could tell that Xie Min had feelings for Zhuang Leyou.
After a few weeks, encouraged by Jiang Ci and provoked by Xie Cheng’s sarcastic remarks, Xie Min confessed his feelings to Zhuang Leyou.
Zhuang Leyou was taken aback and tactfully mentioned that Xie Min was a great person but not the type she liked. She rejected him.
Despite losing love, Xie Min still had to attend classes. He became disheartened for a period of time.
Xie Cheng finally found an advantage in their arguments. Every time they met, he would mock Xie Min. They had several fights at home and were even caught by their father, who locked them in the attic as punishment.
Although Zhuang Leyou rejected Xie Min, he couldn’t help but be concerned about her well-being. One day, when they were in class, Zhuang Leyou entered the classroom with red eyes, looking emotionally distressed.
Xie Min asked her what happened, but she shook her head and didn’t answer. He secretly approached a female classmate who had a close relationship with Zhuang Leyou and asked her what was going on. After much hesitation, the classmate said, “It’s because of Sui Yang.”
After class, as Xie Min walked back to his classroom, he passed by the gymnasium and happened to see Sui Yang walking out with some classmates. He was surrounded by two or three girls. They were all laughing and talking.
Thinking about Zhuang Leyou’s sad face, anger welled up inside Xie Min. In a moment of impulsiveness, he confronted Sui Yang and accused him of shamelessly bullying girls, telling him to stay away from Zhuang Leyou in the future.
Sui Yang had just finished his boxing class, holding boxing gloves in his hands, and asked with a puzzled expression, “Who is Zhuang Leyou?”
“And who are you?” He looked down at Xie Min. “Are there elementary school students visiting the school today?”
Xie Min developed later than others and was often mocked by Xie Cheng for being short. He despised when people brought up his height, and upon hearing Sui Yang’s words, he raised his hand, intending to push Sui Yang. However, Sui Yang quickly grabbed his wrist and said, “It’s not good to hit people, kid.”
Sui Yang’s classmates laughed, but one of them recognized Xie Min and stepped forward to mediate, asking if there was some misunderstanding.
At that moment, Sui Yang seemed to remember something. He told Xie Min not to speak rashly, waved to his classmates, and pulled Xie Min aside to a secluded place. He asked Xie Min in a low voice, “Is Zhuang Leyou the girl with the ponytail?”
Sui Yang had a serious expression at this moment. Xie Min didn’t argue with him anymore. He replied, “Yes,” and Sui Yang explained, “She handed me a letter today, but I didn’t accept it.”
Xie Min hadn’t expected such a misunderstanding and suddenly felt very embarrassed.
Sui Yang said nonchalantly, “Is it bullying when you do not accept things from someone you don’t like?”
Xie Min realized he had scolded the wrong person and mustered the courage to apologize to Sui Yang. Before he could speak, Sui Yang asked him again, “Are you her younger brother? Is school on vacation?”
Due to the embarrassing situation, Xie Min protectively forgot how Sui Yang had angered him. However, many people praised Sui Yang for being polite and magnanimous, which Xie Min disagreed with. During that time, Xie Min’s height started to shoot up rapidly, but Sui Yang still called him an elementary school student, continuing to do so even after Xie Min surpassed a height of 1.8 meters.
At times, Xie Min felt that due to Sui Yang’s swift and unattached departure, the time before and after their separation seemed like two completely different worlds to him.
The former seemed frozen, preserving only the good and unchanging aspects, while reality was a wide river flowing with mud and sand, unable to be halted, rushing day and night.
As Xie Min was lost in reminiscence while holding onto Sui Yang’s finger, they finally arrived at Renshan Hospital.
Sui Yang’s right hand remained in his pocket. It seemed like he used his left hand to open the door.
Xie Min started feeling nervous, thinking about seeing his own body but not necessarily being able to return to it. He became somewhat panicked, so he didn’t pay much attention.
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