Yuan Yuan said he wanted to rest, but instead, he sat in front of the desk in his hotel room with his head in his hands thinking quietly.
What he had previously told Xiao Zhou, that he didn’t have any interest in being in a relationship right now, was the truth.
From the beginning of his adolescence until the adult he was now, he had never experienced “love” for anyone.
That was an abstract concept for him. If love was like how it was between his parents, with mutual support and understanding, and spending a lifetime together, then Yuan Yuan felt that love didn’t need to be deliberately sought. Whether it was a man or woman, someone who made him feel comfortable, someone he could understand and who could understand him was enough to to be called love.
But obviously, it wasn’t so simple.
Love was too complex. He was calculative even in friendship, afraid of accidentally giving more. How could he be willing to give someone love?
Of course, it was good that no unfortunate person received such a petty love from him.
But Chen Dong Lan…
Chen Dong Lan was different.
In the afternoon, they ascended the highest mountain that was still accessible on foot after the snowfall.
Although the inherent climbing route was checked for safety reasons every day and there were guardrails and stairs at strategic points, Yuan Yuan and Chen Dong Lan walked step by step, slowly but steadily.
Yuan Yuan walked ahead and Chen Dong Lan followed him. With every step he took, he could hear Chen Dong Lan’s soles stepping on the stone steps behind him, following him closely.
“Chen Dong Lan, what kind of people do you have in your family?”
He suddenly asked.
Chen Dong Lan didn’t like to recall his family’s past, especially to Yuan Yuan. He didn’t want it to affect his mood when he was with Yuan Yuan.
“Well…Mom is a strong person.”
Chen Dong Lan answered briefly.
Mother Chen was very strong. It was also because she was strong that she was able to confidently accept her next marriage immediately after one failed. The only area where it could be seen that she took her first failure to heart, was the entirely different attitude she had towards Chen Dong Lan and Xiao De.
“And your stepfather, does he treat you well?”
Chen Dong Lan answered sadly, “I don’t have much communication with him, so I’m not very clear.”
Although he wasn’t clear, he knew that his stepfather Uncle Xu was very gentle. He embraced everything about Mother Chen and tried to embrace him as much as possible. Unfortunately, since they weren’t family, there were some things that couldn’t be forced.
“How about you? You should know what kind of person you are, right?” Yuan Yuan suddenly quickened his pace and climbed up a high obstacle in a few steps.
Yuan Yuan’s question disrupted Chen Dong Lan’s tempo and he couldn’t keep up momentarily, nearly falling down.
“Be careful.” Yuan Yuan gave him a hand and pulled him up.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
Chen Dong Lan stood with his help, holding his breath. “Why are you asking this all of a suddenly?”
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“I…There’s nothing really good about me.”
Chen Dong Lan sighed in his heart.
“You can’t even find one strong point?” Yuan Yuan slowed down.
Chen Dong Lan followed him up a long slope, the mountain breeze in his face roused his spirits.
There really wasn’t anything good about him. He was rigid and inarticulate. All his actions and words were clumsy and he could never learn how to get along well with others.
There was only one thing he felt…that could be called a strong point.
“Perseverance.” He said.
Yuan Yuan stopped.
After Chen Dong Lan spoke, he felt embarrassed immediately. Was perseverance a strong point? Not necessarily. In the eyes of many people, his feelings for over ten years could not be called “perseverance”, but instead a “rigid way of thinking”.
Yuan Yuan faced him. “Why do you say that you have perseverance?”
“No…” Chen Dong Lan bent his head. “I just said it casually.” He took a step forward. “Shall we continue walking?”
Yuan Yuan didn’t move or speak and just looked at him with a pair of eyes that could see everything clearly, as if he had just been dissected from head to toe.
In an instant, Chen Dong Lan felt like he had fallen into an ice cellar.
“I didn’t know that you read love poems…” Yuan Yuan said, “Actually, the photograph in the school newspaper was not well taken. I was unwilling to have my photograph taken and it was taken secretly by a teacher. If you really want my photograph, you can tell me directly.”
With a buzzing sound, Chen Dong Lan’s vision blurred, his temples throbbed and his head nearly burst open.
Yuan Yuan continued, “That day, your brother found that book “Portuguese Sonnet Collection”. He said that during your three years of high school, you would always put it in a prominent place, so he had a deep impression of it.”
Chen Dong Lan’s voice trembled. “You…”
Although he didn’t finish, Yuan Yuan gave a light hum as acknowledgement.
Chen Dong Lan suddenly accepted his fate.
At that time, he was still young and couldn’t help himself. When missing him the most, he urgently needed something visible and touchable to comfort himself.
He secretly loved Yuan Yuan for so many years and was always so careful not to leave any traces. The only photograph they had together was the graduation photo from junior high, which he had hidden in a box full of miscellaneous items. He had left it to collect dust and rarely took it out. In university, he had asked for Yuan Yuan’s handwritten defence manuscript from his seniors, repeatedly transcribing and caressing his handwriting in the middle of the night. But in the end, he had burnt all of it and left nothing behind.
But even if this cautiousness was applied countless times, for a time spanning over ten years, there was bound to be some negligence and traces left behind.
His learning ability was too poor. He had diligently studied a thing like being secretly in love with someone for over ten years, but still couldn’t learn it well.
Yuan Yuan saw him lower his head deeply and suddenly lose his voice.
“I’m sorry.” Chen Dong Lan stared at the ground, his eyes becoming so bloodshot that his vision was blurred.
“I’m really sorry to have deceived you for so many years. Actually, from a very long time ago, towards you, I’ve felt…” Chen Dong Lan bit his tongue to stop his voice from trembling.
He was no longer the child who shivered when being questioned.
“Actually I’ve…been having the wrong type of feelings for you.”
“Chen Dong Lan…”
“Let me finish!” Chen Dong Lan interrupted him. “I beg you. Even if it’s just for now, just let me finish.”
Yuan Yuan clenched his hands and fell silent.
“All this while, I haven’t spoken frankly. I was afraid you would hate me because it would make you feel uncomfortable and even disgusted. After all…” He spat out the noun through gritted teeth, “A homosexual has been secretly concerned about you for more than ten years. I’m very sorry, really sorry.”
When he finished, he felt that every word he had spoken was hammering on his heart.
With every pound, it wasn’t his heart beat, but a hammer hitting repeatedly.
After some time, Yuan Yuan said in a low voice, “I don’t think you’re disgusting.”
Just that the feeling was too deep and he was like a man standing beside a fire, frightened by the heat and confused by the blaze.
But he couldn’t deny that in the cold, he would be attracted by this fire.
“It’s too cold on the mountain. Let’s go back to the hotel and talk.” Yuan Yuan couldn’t clear his thoughts. Standing still halfway up the mountain, they could easily catch a cold. He put his hand on Chen Dong Lan’s shoulder and relaxed his tone as much as possible. “There’re some things we can slowly talk about.”
Chen Dong Lan turned his body and avoided his hand. “I’ll move away.”
How could he not feel disgusted? Just that Yuan Yuan had always been a very good person. Even encountering such a situation, he wouldn’t blame him and would tolerate him.
“I’ll move out of the co-rented place. From now on, I’ll try to keep a distance from you. Will that make you feel better?”
“Chen Dong Lan.” Yuan Yuan called his name. “We can talk about everything slowly.”
Chen Dong Lan lifted his head and revealed an unrecognisable smile. “Okay, let’s talk about it later. You go back to the hotel first. I’ll head up the mountain for a walk. I want to be alone for a while.”
Yuan Yuan’s heart ached and he couldn’t speak.
Chen Dong Lan retreated several steps and his shoes tread on some broken stones, the crunching sound almost covering his voice. He said, “I’ll see you later.”
Chen Dong Lan turned and continued up the mountain.
Yuan Yuan watched him for a long time. When Chen Dong Lan was no longer in sight, he turned and took the first step to head down the mountain.
With only a step, it was like a crushing foot on his heart, creating a cavity.
Chen Dong Lan faced the mountain wind on the way up.
He remembered something. When he was young, there were no smartphones yet and the television was a great attraction for him and Xiao De.
Xiao De loved to watch cartoons. The race car cartoons of that era made Xiao De unable to stop.
Mom and Uncle Xu had strict regulations, stipulating that the children watched television for only an hour every day, which was exactly the length of the race car cartoons played by two cartoon channels every day.
Because he clearly knew this, regardless of how much Chen Dong Lan disliked watching cartoons or how much he wanted to watch a popular science programme, he would refrain from saying anything.
Every day, he would sit beside Xiao De and watch the uninteresting cartoon with him, like chewing a piece of leather that would never soften. In this way, Mom and Uncle Xu would think that the two children had the same interests and wouldn’t have to worry about how to allocate the television.
He turned and rushed madly down the mountain.
But this wasn’t the same!
Yuan Yuan wasn’t the same. In his life, only his love for Yuan Yuan couldn’t be restrained. Yuan Yuan was the only person he wasn’t able to give up.
“Yuan Yuan!” He shouted loudly.
“Yuan Yuan…” He looked for Yuan Yuan urgently on the narrow road. He wanted to hold on to him and tell him that he couldn’t do it.
Tell him——even if they couldn’t live together, could they continue to be friends?
He would swear not to hang on to any hope and not to keep any fantasies.
He ran too fast and had difficulty breathing. Gradually, he couldn’t make a sound and could only hold on to the railings at the side, gasping for breath.
He couldn’t find him.
He couldn’t find Yuan Yuan. In the mountains, there wasn’t a visitor in sight, only him alone in the vastness.