On the first day, Qi Xiu Yuan said his colleagues will be holding a formal dinner which will cause him to return late, so Xiao Li ate alone.
That day, he actually did not come back too late which made Xiao Li became keenly aware that something was wrong.
He had spent more than ten years in the underworld—and for one-third of the time—he spent it helping Han Jia in at his venue (ex. Jin Ting). He was very familiar with the details of nearly every entertainment place.
He could practically sense everything that had to do with those kinds of places…the smell of the environment, the lighting, music, charming laughter, and taste of high-grade alcohol mixed in together on Qi Xiu Yuan’s body.
“Where did you guys go for dinner?” He hesitated for a moment but still asked.
“Ah, we went to eat hot pot.” Qi Xiu Yuan quickly answered; a bit too quickly. Then he moved close to Xiao Li’s side and settled the account (of the things that were sold at their stationery ship today). “Xiao Li, your characters are really beautiful. Have you practiced before?”
“When I was a kid, a desolate painter lived near my house. I learned to write with him.” Xiao Li replied.
“No wonder,” Qi Xiu Yuan said then kissed Xiao Li’s hand that was holding the pen.
Xiao Li couldn’t help but to smile spontaneously.
Even if everything is suspicious… this man is trustworthy. He thought.
On the second day, Qi Xiu Yuan said that his colleagues would like to treat him to dinner, so Xiao Li ate alone again.
When he came back somewhat later that day, the smell of ‘that kind of place’ was even stronger on his body. Just as he went to take a bath, Xiao Li took his jacket and was about to put it in the hamper when he found golden powders shimmering on it.
Xiao Li has seen that kind of powder before. When Han Jia was younger, he would put it on his cheeks and collarbone before he went on the stage to seduce men.
Feeling strange, Xiao Li’s brows wrinkled into a frown. He threw the jacket to the side, walked toward the front of the bathroom door and knocked. Then he directly asked, “Qi Xiu Yuan, what did you eat this evening?”
“Just a simple home-cooked meal at my colleague’s house,” Qi Xiu Yuan answered with just that as his voice mixed in with the sound of the running water.
Xiao Li leaned against the wall outside the bathroom without saying anything else.
On the third day, when Xiao Li had his back to the door and was putting away a box of paint brushes on the mantle next to the check-out, the sounds of a high heels meeting the ground, ‘ta-ta-ta’, came from behind him.
“Excuse me, err, is Li Xiao here?” A clear voice sounded.
Xiao Li leaned to the side and saw a tall, thin, young person with bright and sexy clothes on, standing behind him. The person was wearing high heels, had a scarf around his neck and his voice did not differentiate male from female. If the person were to walk down the street, the majority of people would undeniably think that he was a fashionable young girl.
Those people do not include Xiao Li.
He just glanced at that person and said faintly said, “What?”
In just seconds, the visitor was irritated by his indifference which caused his voice to also become cold and full of anger. “I’m looking for Li Xiao. Hey, he gave me this business card, so I came here to find him.” He looked around and revealed Da disdainful expression, “Oh, the card says it a cultural stationery company, but it’s actually just a small broken place.”
Xiao Li frowned, turned around and approached him, “What business card?”
When the visitor saw him clearly beneath the sunlight, both his eyes brightened up as he stared at him without looking away. He didn’t even care when Xiao Li took the business card from him.
Xiao Li looked at the business card and remembered—when the small stationery shop opened its door for the first time—Qi Xiu Yuan had sold a large number of stationeries to his cram school for the sake of conveniently contacting Xiao Li. He also especially assisted Xiao Li in printing a very deceptive business card.
“He told you that his name was Li Xiao?” Xiao Li lifted his eyes to ask.
“Aiya! Since the card was given to me, how can it be fake?” The visitor grumbled, and then added with dissatisfaction, “I even thought I was a dependable man and eagerly came here but really!! Making that kind of card but as it turns out, they’re just pretending to be a boss, trying to fish someone!”
He stomped his feet and turned around to leave but hesitated for a moment before turning back to look at Xiao Li and smiled. “Umm, hey handsome, you know we’ve also been brought together by fate. Do you have a business card to give me?”
Xiao Li had been staring at him the entire time, and suddenly approached him when he saw him turn around. He reached out to rub the side of the person’s collar then pulled his hand back for a look. His index and middle finger were covered with a trace of light golden shimmering powder.
Flushed with excitement by his action, the visitor took a step closer to him with brightened eyes.
Xiao Li stretched his hand to grab his chin, slightly frowned and carefully observed the person’s face with a complicated and meaningful gaze.
Having him looking at him like that, the young man staring, could feel his own feet softening. He slowly closed his eyes and leaned toward Xiao Li. A second later, the hand on the chin was tightened and he has forcefully pushed away, taking a few stumbling steps back before he could stand properly.
“Hey! You—” he shouted, unable to accept the result.
“I don’t have a business card. You can go.” Xiao Li said coldly.
The young man wanted to say something else but was completely shut down by the callousness in Xiao Li’s eyes. He mumbled a few curse words to himself then angrily left.
Xiao Li looked at his back, lost in his own thoughts.
Before dinner, he received a call from Qi Xiu Yuan just as he had expected.
“I have to return the hospitality toward the colleague that invited me yesterday. I’ll be home later. Don’t forget to eat.”
Xiao Li went silent for two seconds then said, “Okay.”
He hung up the call and stared at the phone for a moment, feeling as if there was some sort of emotion riling in his chest.
He was very familiar with that kind of emotion. When Zhang Juan Juan had first met him and told him that she was Du Yan San Ge’s granddaughter, his chest was also filled with such emotions.
Anger, the kind of anger he never felt before…it was the feeling that he has been betrayed and deceived by the most unlikely of person.
At that time, he held that kind of anger and disbelief in him as he went to find Qi Xiu Yuan…and used his fist and gun to teach him a lesson by beating him black and blue.
He did not realize back then; how angry and violent he had been. It was because Qi Xiu Yuan was very important to him at that time.
Qi Xiu Yuan, Qi Xiu Yuan, Qi Xiu Yuan.
Xiao Li silently repeated that name, feeling like he has never ever been so distressed and annoyed since he was born.
The last time was because you had difficulties, what is it this time?
When Qi Xiu Yuan returned home, Xiao Li was sitting on the couch with a cigarette in his hand. He was using his laptop to slowly practice how to type and did not look up at the sound of the door opening.
“I haven’t seen you smoke for a long time.” Qi Xiu Yuan approached him and gently took the cigarette from his mouth then couldn’t help but to lean over and kiss his lips.
“…I suddenly thought about it today and bought a pack.” Xiao Li replied as he looked up at Qi Xiu Yuan, “Qi Xiu Yuan, I have something to ask you.”
“What a coincidence.” Qi Xiu Yuan clearly did not want to let go of him as his lips lightly rubbed against the side of Xiao Li’s lip. He smiled and whispered, “I also have something to say to you.”
He kissed him for a moment but when he stretched his tongue in to explore Xiao Li’s mouth, Xiao Li pushed him away. He wanted to say something, but froze and looked at Qi Xiu Yuan upon seeing his expression. “You’re in a good mood?”
Both of Qi Xiu Yuan’s eyes sparkled as he looked at Xiao Li while his lips exposed an irrepressible smile. When he heard Xiao Li asked him that, his smile became even bigger. He leaned forward and pushed Xiao Li down on the sofa.
“Excellent,” he replied, and then lowered his head to kiss Xiao Li. But when Xiao Li leaned sideways to avoid him, Qi Xiu Yuan did not care or hesitate in the least to kiss along his cheek until he reached his ear while happily speaking. “I went to a good place today. Xiao Li, I want you to go with me tomorrow.”
Xiao Li stretched out his hands to cup Qi Xiu Yuan’s face, preventing his kisses from continuing as he subtly looked in his eyes for a moment. He asked, “Didn’t you say you were taking that colleague of yours out for dinner today?”
Qi Xiu Yuan smiled cheerfully as if he had obtained the desired result. “I was too embarrassed to tell you that I went to the gay bar. Fortunately, it worked out and I was able to obtain something. The last two days of searching was not in vain.”
Silence overtook Xiao Li for two seconds and when he saw that his expression became even more complication, he finally asked, “What do you want to obtain by going to the gay bar?”
Qi Xiu Yuan couldn’t understand whether he was angry or not. He lowered his head, wanting to kiss him again—however, Xiao Li’s hands that were on his face—stopped him. As a result, he could only look at him and spoke in a low yet soft voice. “You’re angry?”
When Xiao Li frowned and did not say anything, Qi Xiu Yuan immediately explained. “I saw that when Han Jia left, you seemed a bit lonely. Since we’re in this predicament, it will be hard to make new friends… I actually don’t mind if it’s only the two of us together but I hope…I hope that aside from our home, there can be more places we can go together.”
Looking Qi Xiu Yuan straight into his eyes, Xiao Li seemed to be exploring how sincere he was. “I can go and look around with you.”
Qi Xiu Yuan laughed, “I know, but I was worried. Some gay bars are very messy. I had to see it first before I can be at ease.”
Xiao Li’s tightened brow loosened up, but he still pointed out, “What’s there to worry about? It will never be worse than what I’ve seen.”
“That is not the same.” Qi Xiu Yuan took advantage of his hand relaxing and lowered his head to kiss him again and again. “That’s where your gangs were. Even if it’s messy you’d still had to stay there, but now, I’m looking for a place where the two of us can relax. I don’t want you to see anything bad…” He frowned and said a bit embarrassed. “Like where I went yesterday, it was a complete and utter mess, I even lost my wallet but luckily my ID wasn’t in there—”
“Were the business cards in there?” Xiao Li interrupted him.
“What business card?” Qi Xiu Yuan looked at him puzzled, and thought to himself for a moment before he suddenly realized something. “Yours, right? I brought a few to make it easier when contacting other businesses but those were lost too. It doesn’t matter, there’s still more at home…Xiao Li?”
Xiao Li doesn’t know why but his own emotions have been stirred. He pushed Qi Xiu Yuan away and sat to the side of the sofa and turned his head away, without looking at him while chest rose and fell.
“Xiao Li?” Qi Xiu Yuan did not understand why so he moved in close and softly called his name.
Xiao Li heard him. He did not want to answer him because he was afraid that if he opened his mouth, his voice would tremble…and that trembling voice will reveal the deep feelings within his heart—
As it turns out, he had already like Qi Xiu Yuan so much.
As it turns out, he has been loving him so much.
For more than twenty years, he has never experienced such anger, panic, and suffering. He has never lost his sense of judgment or calmness because of someone. He has also never felt such relief, relaxation, and happiness after getting rid of a misunderstanding.
When he waited for Qi Xiu Yuan to return home, he was unable to stay still. He went to purchase cigarettes but the nicotine did not give him any peace of mind. He forced himself to practice typing seriously but his mind often wandered off and he would type ‘his name’ instead. His heart had slowly tightened and his imagination began to run wild uncontrollably as he thought of what happened between Qi Xiu Yuan and that fashionable and feminine young man; he thought of why Qi Xiu Yuan deceived him…and what would become of him and Qi Xiu Yuan…..
The waiting time was short, but it seemed as if he had experienced a rigorous battle. Every memory and the detail of the time since he and Qi Xiu Yuan had known each other slowly emerged from his mind. Those were things that he rarely thought of, and because he was involved in the past that was not so beautiful, he would painstakingly stop himself from thinking about it.
But slowly, he remembered the years he did not know Qi Xiu Yuan and the days he was unfamiliar with Qi Xiu Yuan…in his memories, it was dark and gloomy, old, and unpleasant. But, Qi Xiu Yuan entered his life, bringing in bright colors. He was clever, persistent, dedicated, gentle, interesting…he had passionately pursued him; he was different from everyone else that he knew. He should receive his complete trust but he should also not conceal anything from him.
Such confusing and contradictory ideas became even more chaotic when Qi Xiu Yuan returned. He couldn’t look up at Qi Xiu Yuan. He just wanted to quickly ask for the truth and let everything settle.
It was at that moment he discovered, he was not completely prepared for what would happen. Qi Xiu Yuan lied, what should he do?
If something happened between Qi Xiu Yuan and that young man with sparkling golden powder, what should he do? All of these were new experiences for Xiao Li. He has never had such a complicated and important relationship with anyone before. He has also never thought of a route to back into before doing something.
Then, Qi Xiu Yuan gave him an answer.
His lies were not for the sake of deception. His concealment was not for the sake of betrayal.
Just like a raging flame can be covered by the gentle sea and forcefully overturn, just like the cool breeze in the night taking away the torrid heat of the summer…the anger has quieted down and the panic pacified…it was almost instantaneous.
How frightening, this man could so easily control his emotions.
And this man, this man who has such a great influence on him, also loves him…he has loved him since early on and has loved him even more deeply.
Xiao Li could no longer continue to look at him. The moment that his chest was flooded with warmth and strength he never felt before——he knew what love was, he knew he could love, he knew that he was deeply in love and that he has received an even deeper response.
There was a touch of warmth on his shoulder; it was Qi Xiu Yuan worryingly leaning close.
“Xiao Li,” his hand reached out to gently touch his forehead. “What’s wrong?”
When Xiao Li did not want to turn around, Qi Xiu Yuan held his chin and turned his face toward him. Now, he had no choice but to look up at him.
Xiao Li, himself, did not think that glance was any different but Qi Xiu Yuan’s eyes immediately became deep, indescribably breathtaking…he let out a cool breathe then held it as he stared at Xiao Li.
“Qi Xiu Yuan.”
Xiao Li wanted to say, ‘I really like you’, and, ‘you don’t have to do that anymore, please don’t make me so worried again’. But he simply looked at Qi Xiu Yuan for a while, reached his arm out and hooked it around his neck. Then he exerted some forced and pressed him down on the sofa.
“Let’s do it.”