Shi Yan stayed at home for a few days. He didn’t do so because he was seriously ill — his fever had subsided in just one day — but because he still had a slight cold and he didn’t want to infect He Nuo, so he didn’t go look for him.
His mother would fawn on him from time to time. She told him that Shi Mei would be back soon, and asked if he wanted her to bring any spring clothing back. Two days later, Shi Yan no longer pulled a long face when he saw her. No matter what, she was still his mother, it wasn’t like she was an outsider whom he could vent his anger on so he couldn’t do anything about his frustrations this time. Besides, his sister and sister-in-law are coming back soon. Shi Mei was five years older than Shi Yan. She failed her college entrance examination twice, but she still managed to get into university after their family pulled some strings. She found her partner in university, and after she graduated last year, she naturally returned to Taiyuan with him and they got married not long after.
After his sister returned, he had to accompany her at home for two days before the pitiful third year had to go back to school again. He was pestered by others the whole morning, and he didn’t see He Nuo after school ended in the afternoon and evening. Before their night self-study sessions started, he stood in front of the liberal arts cla.s.s. When He Nuo saw him, he felt surprised, happy, doubtful, but also a little timid.
“You’re looking for me?” He Nuo’s probing tone made Shi Yan unhappy. What is he feigning ignorance for? If he wasn’t here to look for him, then what would he be standing here for?
“Pack up your bag and leave, I’ll wait downstairs.”
Shi Yan brought He Nuo to the office again. The moment they entered, Shi Yan pa.s.sed the Royal Jelly and Apollo for the day to He Nuo, “Drink them both, you didn’t drink any in the afternoon.”
“You’re still giving me these?” He Nuo looked at Shi Yan’s hand in disbelief.
“Get over here!” Shi Yan pressed He Nuo down onto the sofa, then he dragged a swivel chair over to sit in front of him. The chair was higher than the sofa which gave He Nuo a sense of being oppressed; he sunk down deeper into the sofa while Shi Yan leaned over, “Why did you leave by yourself after school?”
“……” He Nuo looked down for awhile before he answered Shi Yan’s question, “I thought you were ignoring me, so I was too embarra.s.sed to go pester you.”
“Who told you that? Who pa.s.sed that kind of message to you for me?” Shi yan was so angered by the fact that He Nuo had such a strange idea that he wanted to knock on his brain to see what was inside of it. If it wasn’t because He Nuo’s eyes were filled with joy when they met, he would have already lost his temper at him. Though his tone wasn’t that good now anyway.
On the contrary, He Nuo relaxed, “My family has been asking about you the past few days. When they saw that you didn’t come over anymore, Fourth brother and Fifth brother said that it must have been because you went to talk to your parents and they didn’t allow you to mingle with me.”
“What a joke, other people can’t control who I want to mingle with.”
Those dark eyes were gleaming with expectation.
“Idiot, are you a pig? How can you believe whatever other people say so easily?”
“But you didn’t look for me for so many days,” He Nuo broke out into a wide smile as he scolded, “I only believed them because you didn’t come.”
Shi Yan told He Nuo that his sister had returned, so he couldn’t leave. Then Shi Yan sat next to He Nuo and asked cautiously, “He Nuo, your mother is your father’s second wife?”
“Un.” He Nuo answered very normally.
“Then who gave birth to you?”
“My mother has already pa.s.sed away, my Ma only gave birth to my two younger brothers.”
Shi Yan didn’t see a trace of unhappiness on He Nuo’s face, so he continued to ask, “How old were you when your mother pa.s.sed away?”
He Nuo’s expression stiffened immediately, then it recovered just as quickly. He hesitated for a few seconds, “My mother died giving birth to me.”
“I’m sorry.” Shi Yan felt like this question had hurt He Nuo.
“You don’t need to apologise.” He Nuo tried his best to jerk the edges of his lips up, but all Shi Yan saw was sadness. He Nuo shifted the topic, “My elder brothers all hope that I can continue to be friends with you, they complimented you for your character.”
Shi Yan wasn’t He Nuo. Only this pure idiot wouldn’t know what kind of benefits he could obtain through befriending himself. But he thought about how He Nuo’s family would pay more attention to him if he mingled more with him which could be considered a good thing, so he made do with praising He Nuo’s fifth brother a bit.
He Nuo looked very happy, but he was actually a little scared. His brothers’ remarks had made him very upset, yet he didn’t dare to verify the truth behind their words. It could be said that he had really hoped that Shi Yan would look for him during those few days. Shi Yan was like his sun — it felt warm to be near him; he had never experienced such warmth before, and he never knew that such warmth had existed throughout his entire life. There was a certain energy of life that flowed through Shi Yan’s body; this unrestrained energy spurs the people around him, and it had injected vitality into He Nuo’s life which was originally a barren Gobi desert. He Nuo could vividly feet the blood that was flowing through his veins now — he finally felt like he was truly living.
Shi Yan took advantage an unprepared He Nuo to skillfully trick him into talking about his life in the village during their first and second year of high school. He Nuo had never minded his life in the village at all, so he excitedly told He Nuo about some aspects of his rural life — the beauty of the fields, the pleasure of mowing gra.s.s and how he had picked wild Goji berries. When Shi Yan mentioned his hematuria, he told Shi Yan that he had discovered a layer of snake’s skin, and he didn’t know if it was because he had eaten it everyday that his hematuria showed signs of improvement. Shi Yan listened attentively while inserting some questions here and there, but under this mask, the tempestuous storms that were brewing made his heart spasm with pain.
In the end, it was He Nuo who realised that Shi Yan was clenching his fists tightly on both sides so he appeared to understand something as he stopped talking about himself. He lightly punched Shi Yan’s shoulder, “Don’t tell me you think that had to do with you ba? It was my family who wanted me to go out and experience what it’s like to live there so that I’ll treasure my opportunity to study. It has nothing to do with you. The life there was actually pretty interesting, nothing bad happened. And didn’t Fifth brother help in getting me back here in the end?”
Shi Yan wasn’t someone who could apologise, and he wouldn’t ask He Nuo to ease his anxiety either. This incident thus pa.s.sed just like that, and he only thought of a question the next day: even if He Nuo had walked home, he should have been able to caught up to him on his bike.
He raised this doubt when they reached He Nuo’s doorstep. He Nuo only laughed and didn’t want to tell him at first, but when he was forced to the point that he couldn’t avoid his question, he could only tell Shi Yan the truth. He had travelled half the journey on Yu Yao’s bike. This made Shi Yan scold him harshly for awhile before he was willing to let He Nuo go. Shi Yan wasn’t jealous or envious, he was just afraid that He Nuo’s cough that had recently recovered would relapse, so he urged He Nuo to continue wearing his mask when he was outside.
T/N: Just uploading this first as a notice that I will be uploading another three chapters in a few hours………once I’m done editing them. Then I’ll need to take some time off to repair my broken soul