At eleven o’clock the next morning, Qi Xiuyuan was sitting on the sofa in the living room tapping on his keyboard when Xiao Li walked out of the room.
“You should sleep longer.” Qi Xiuyuan moved his laptop to the side, “How do you feel?”
“My head still hurts a bit,” Xiao Li’s brows furrowed. “Where’s the bathroom? My clothes?”
“You can take it back after it’s washed, wear my clothes for now,” Qi Xiuyuan said. “The white door in the middle is the bathroom. You can shower first, I’ll make something for you to eat.
When Xiao Li turned and went to the bathroom, Qi Xiuyuan saw a tattoo of a tiger climbing a large mountain on the upper right side of his back – full of arrogant and an overwhelming sense of power. As Xiao Li’s arm swayed, the tiger seemed to move along with him as if it would leap out.
Looking at that sturdy back, the emotional tranquility that Qi Xiuyuan had meticulously constructed wavered.
He quickly restraint himself and walked into the kitchen to heat up the congee that he made earlier. Then he returned to his room to find some clothes and a new pair of underwear before looking in the cabinet for a new towel. He knocked on the bathroom door, “Xiao Li, I’m going to place the clothes and towel on the stool beside the door. In a moment, you can—”
There was a rustling sound on the other side of the door before Xiao Li pulled the door open and grabbed the towel directly from Qi Xiuyuan’s hands, wiping his naked body clean right in front of him.
Qi Xiuyuan was caught in a celestial battle between the urge to look or not while Xiao Li began to grumble unknowingly. “You water was so cold, I felt frozen the second I switched it on.”
“A cold shower is good for your health ah,” Qi Xiuyuan said.
As he watched Xiao Li pitifully finished putting on the clothes, he turned around and went to the living room. “Drink a cup of hot tea to warm up your stomach first.” Afterward, he returned to sit cross-legged on the sofa and continued to tap away on the keyboard.
Since the tea was too hot, Xiao Li turned it around a couple of times while asking, “You’re not teaching today?”
“Today is Saturday.”
“How come Susu isn’t here?”
“Since she doesn’t have the day off on Saturday, she left to work earlier.”
Xiao Li kept turning the cup around, then he asked again. “Her and Xiao Yang…”
Qi Xiuyuan sighed and looked at him, “Did you know that Xiao Yang wants to go work in a different province?”
Xiao Li obviously did not know as he looked shockingly at him. “Really?”
“And he wants to take Susu with him.”
Xiao Li, “Did you agree?”
Qi Yu Yuan leaned against the sofa and looked at him for a moment. Then he softly said, “Hey, what did you two brothers fight over to end up like this?”
When Xiao Li did not speak, Qi Xiuyuan sighed and said, “Actually, Susu and I didn’t have a good relationship when we were younger. She always pestered me which I really dislike so I ended up bullying her many times. After that, she cried every time she saw me. She is still quite scared of me even now. Then, our parents passed away and she went to live with our grandparents. We didn’t see each other for nine years during that time, but then our grandmother passed away and before long, our grandfather followed after. When I went to pick her up back in our hometown, there were several female relatives around her age standing together with her. I recognized a few of them, but I didn’t recognize her.”
Taking a sip of his tea, Xiao Li ended up finishing it all in a few gulps, thinking that it wasn’t that bad. Then he said, “It must have been hard for you to take care of your sister alone?”
Qi Xiuyuan forced a bitter smile, “You might be wrong about that. Although my parents passed away prematurely, they left behind a bit of inheritance for us. The figure isn’t worth mentioning, but it’s guaranteed to provide the basic necessities for Susu and I for at least half of our lives. If we’re talking about hardship, it must have been harder for you to take care of Xiao Yang.
Xiao Li laughed, “What hardships? I was out fighting all day and only knew to give him money without actually taking care of him. He was the one that studied hard by himself. When the neighborhood kids bullied and avoided him for not having parents and that his brother was in the underworld, he never told me. Then, one day I saw him getting hit by some guy, so I went over to beat that guy up. Xiao Yang became angry with me and said that that would cause others to look down on him. He even said that I don’t deserve to be his brother.” He laughed at himself, “You didn’t see the expression in his eyes then… who knew how long he had been hating me for him to look at me like that.”
Qi Xiuyuan snorted.
Xiao Li, “He never told me about his relationship with Susu. I saw them at a restaurant one day and went over to greet them myself then exchanged numbers with Susu. To tell you the truth, I knew right away that Xiao Yang really likes your sister the moment I saw her.”
Feeling very curious, Qi Xiuyuan asked, “Why?”
“How can I not understand my brother?” Xiao Li said it in a matter-of-fact manner, “He likes the type of person who is pure and simple in personality and family values.” He paused then continued, “Your grandfather’s situation, did you tell him about it?”
Qi Xiuyuan said, “You should give him fewer things to worry about then, he’s already an adult.” When Xiao Li’s expression became a bit sad, Qi Xiuyuan sighed and quietly consoled him. “You’ve provided him with the opportunities to attend college, go abroad, and find a job; you have done a lot of good for him already. Even if Xiao Yang does not understand you at the moment, your parents do.”
“Since I was born, I’ve never met my father. My mother…” Xiao Li turned away, “I hope she understands me then. You are right, as long as she understands me, that is more than enough.”
Qi Xiuyuan could make out the pain in his heart, so he didn’t ask anymore. He simply stood up and picked up the empty teacup, “Do you want another cup?”
Xiao Li shook his head.
Qi Xiuyuan went to the kitchen to get the bowl of congee for him, he could see Xiao Li through the window.
Sitting silently, Xiao Li could sense Qi Xiuyuan’s gaze and look up at him with a smile.
In truth, Qi Xiuyuan really wanted to ask him just one sentence. Then, what about you? What type do you like?
But he never asked, because not knowing the answer made him felt that there was hope.