Yuan Yuan ignored him.
In the middle of the night, there weren’t many people in the hospital. It was only them in the lounge. The television was on, but it was showing only night commercials. Neither of them spoke and they just stared at the television.
Chen Dong Lan didn’t dare to speak to Yuan Yuan. After the anchorwoman on television introduced him to the magical effects of slimming tea for the fifth time, Chen Dong Lan turned to look at Yuan Yuan and found that he had fallen asleep.
Chen Dong Lan stood up quietly, pushed the drip stand to the nurses station and asked the nurse for a blanket. Coming back, he used one hand to lay it on Yuan Yuan’s body with difficulty.
Chen Dong Lan felt that he was a greedy person. Previously, during Chinese New Year or other festivities, he would wish for the protection of Yuan Yuan’s health and that he would be free from diseases and disasters. But now, he hoped for this himself as well. If he could get along smoothly, then Yuan Yuan wouldn’t need to worry about such an unlucky friend.
Absorbed, he watched Yuan Yuan and didn’t realise when the drip had finished. He felt a little pain on his hand and found that some blood had flowed into the bag.
While he looked for a nurse to pull out the needle, Yuan Yuan was still asleep. Chen Dong Lan didn’t want to wake him so quickly, but the hospital chair wasn’t comfortable and he might experience shoulder and back pains after a long sleep, so he decided to wake him.
Yuan Yuan was in a light sleep and opened his eyes. “Done with the drip?” He realised there was a blanket on his body and showed a look of exasperation. “The clothes I’m wearing are very thick, but you’re only wearing pajamas and a coat. Why did you give me the blanket?”
Chen Dong Lan felt that this was difficult to explain, so he said casually, “I also had one, just that I’ve already returned it to the nurse.”
Yuan Yuan took a deep breath and Chen Dong Lan didn’t know if he had believed him.
It was now past four but once it was bright, it would be a Sunday and they could go back to catch up on their sleep. Chen Dong Lan didn’t dare to say that he would take a taxi home himself and waited for Yuan Yuan’s arrangement.
They carried the medicine back to the car. Chen Dong Lan didn’t ask where they were going and Yuan Yuan drove seriously without saying a word. After a few minutes, Chen Dong Lan realised that they were on the road back to the co-rented house.
He was about to ask, but Yuan Yuan said, “Before moving to the new house, you should move back.”
Chen Dong Lan tilted his head and looked at Yuan Yuan’s profile.
Right then, they reached a red light and the car stopped. Yuan Yuan looked over.
Late at night, the light slanted in from the street lamp blurring the outline of Yuan Yuan’s face, making it seem particularly tender.
“Okay!” Chen Dong Lan nodded repeatedly, his heart feeling numb.
On Monday, Chen Dong Lan’s fever subsided. Although he had not completely recovered from his cold, it didn’t affect him going to work.
Once he stepped into the office, his colleague called out to him.
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.
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So he was referring to this. But how can unhinged be more normal than despondent? Chen Dong Lan said, “I’m moving.”
His colleague glared. “Didn’t you just rent that place from me?”
Chen Dong Lan nodded. “I’ll still continue to rent till the end of the contract, just that a friend is moving to a new house and invited me to live together.”
His colleague actually had not completely understood the situation, but hearing that he would continue to rent for the entire period, he was reassured and asked, “Where’s the new house?”
Chen Dong Lan told him the neighbourhood where Yuan Yuan’s new house was.
His colleague pondered over the name, then a scary number popped into his head. “That area is not cheap. How could you afford to live there?” His salary didn’t differ much from Chen Dong Lan and he definitely could not afford a house there.
Chen Dong Lan didn’t want to explain more to him, and was even less interested in continuing the conversation so he said half-heartedly, “It’s my friend’s house.”
After working with him for so long, he naturally knew Chen Dong Lan’s temperament and didn’t ask further. He could only lament over how Chen Dong Lan could find such a capable friend with a personality like that.
Chen Dong Lan worked in a typical nine-to-five punch card system. He had an hour and a half rest time at noon and free meals in the staff canteen.
When he was eating, there was a notification on his phone. Chen Dong Lan took it out to check and saw there was a new email.
This was also something that Yuan Yuan didn’t know about. Chen Dong Lan’s phone, beside calling and text messaging, was used for a third function and that was receiving and sending emails. Because his relatives who resided overseas would communicate with him via email from time to time.
The highest frequency would be at most twice a year.
The sender was his mother and it said that his younger brother, Xiao De, was planning to return to the country with a few friends over Chinese New Year. They would probably be coming over in a week’s time and once they landed in T city, she hoped that Chen Dong Lan could help to watch over them.
Xiao De’s domestic phone number was stated at the end of the email.
Chen Dong Lan checked his calendar and realised there less than half a month left before Chinese New Year. To him, Chinese New Year wasn’t special. It was more like a extra long weekend. When he was a senior in high school, his family moved abroad. Every Chinese New Year after that, he was alone.
Later on, when he lived with Yuan Yuan, his feelings towards Chinese New Year worsened. Because Yuan Yuan would leave T city and go home for Chinese New Year. His extra long weekend would not have Yuan Yuan in it.
That wasn’t good.
Chen Dong Lan replied to his mother’s email. The general content was that he would take care of Xiao De and his friends, so that she and stepfather would not need to worry.
When working in the afternoon, Chen Dong Lan felt unbearably suffocated thinking of Chinese New Year that was coming.
After work, he felt more and more suffocated, until he received a call from Yuan Yuan before that feeling eased.
Yuan Yuan said, “You’ve finished work?”
“Yes.” Chen Dong Lan packed his things and hurriedly headed out. “I’m now walking out of the office.”
“Don’t rush. I’ll probably only be there in another half an hour.”
They had made prior arrangements for Yuan Yuan to help Chen Dong Lan move back to the co-rented house today.
“Okay.” Chen Dong Lan hung up the phone. He verbally agreed, but his footsteps never stopped. He couldn’t just sit and wait. Even if he had to wait outside in the cold wind, it was like he was making an effort to move nearer to Yuan Yuan.
In the end, Yuan Yuan arrived in twenty minutes.
Once he got into the car, Yuan Yuan said gruffly, “I knew you’ll come out to wait.”
Was this an attack on him? Chen Dong Lan didn’t admit it. “I just came out.”
Yuan Yuan laughed. “Fine. If you say so.”
Chen Dong Lan didn’t have many things. The two of them packing up together didn’t take much time. While packing the odds and ends, something small fell out. Yuan Yuan bent over to retrieve it and saw a box underneath the bed.
Chen Dong Lan saw him looking under the bed and didn’t understand at first, but following his gaze, he realised…
He had thrown away the biscuits in the cupboard, but had forgotten about the instant noodles underneath the bed.
“This is…” Chen Dong Lan forcibly made up a lie. “A colleague gave that to me.” This excuse was too far-fetched, but he remembered the red wine given by Yu Lin in Yuan Yuan’s house. Why couldn’t he have instant noodles given by colleagues?
Yuan Yuan couldn’t bear to expose him and asked, “It’s a kind gesture from someone. Do you want to bring it along?”
Chen Dong Lan’s face had reddened from his lies. “It’s not really considered a kind gesture. Just throw it away.”
Yuan Yuan feigned regret. “That’s such a waste.”
What’s so wasteful about instant noodles? Chen Dong Lan restrained himself and didn’t say a word.
Because there weren’t many things, it only required one trip once everything was piled into the back seat. The sky had just darkened when they reached the co-rented house, but it was considered later than their usual dinnertime.
“Why don’t we go out to eat?” Yuan Yuan asked.
Chen Dong Lan thought it over. Even if he were to cook only a few simple dishes, they would only be able to eat after an hour. So he said, “Might as well.”
Since they had started living together, besides the team gatherings, it was the first time they had eaten out together.
Chen Dong Lan almost never ate out and had no experience. The place, a Cantonese cuisine restaurant, chosen by Yuan Yuan, was quite authentic.
Yuan Yuan ordered several dishes, one of which was crossed out by the waitress. She said apologetically, “I’m sorry, sir. It’s almost Chinese New Year and the chef for this dish has already gone back to his hometown. Is it okay to change to this one instead?”
Yuan Yuan agreed with a glance.
When the waitress had mentioned that Chinese New Year was nearing, Yuan Yuan realised that he had almost forgotten about it. Every year, he would go home for a reunion with his parents and stay till the last day of the holiday before returning to work.
Speaking of which, Chen Dong Lan’s hometown and his were in the same place.
“Why haven’t I seen you going home for Chinese New Year in the previous years?” Yuan Yuan asked.
Chen Dong Lan took a sip of tea and seemed reluctant to answer. “My family doesn’t stay there anymore.”
Since Chen Dong Lan was unwilling to say more, Yuan Yuan didn’t intend to ask further.
“Are you returning home for Chinese New Year this year?” Chen Dong Lan rubbed his thumb across the carving on the teacup, the bumpy texture easing his anxiety.
Yuan Yuan nodded naturally. “I’ll be leaving around the twenty-eighth.”
Chen Dong Lan hummed in acknowledgement, not saying a word.
After finishing an entire meal, his heart was empty.