Chapter 8: Xia Mu’s confession
Xia Mu bites his lips and whispers in her ear,
“I like you.”
“Xia….Mu…” Shu Yawang’s eyes turn red as she calls out his name in a soft, shaky voice. She wants to hug him, but don’t dare to touch him. She stays still, kneeling down and biting onto her fingers as she looks at him. Her heart is filled with worries and it feels heavy in her chest, so heavy that she can barely breathe.
“Xia Mu…” She stretches out her arm, covering Xia Mu’s icy, cold hand with hers. Her voice sounds brittle, she’s really scared. She’s scared that he will leave her, scared that when she turns her head, she will not see him watching her from afar. She…she starts to cry.
“Xia Mu, Xia Mu.” Xia Mu who is on the ground, suddenly moves his hand and dips his head down, slowly standing up. Yawang helps him stand up, her eyes brimming with tears.
“Don’t move, don’t stand up. Are you hurt anywhere?” Xia Mu is already standing up, his tall, skinny frame bending forward slightly. He lowers his head, his fringe covering his eyes, and wipes his blurry eyes with the back of his hand.
“I’m okay, I didn’t get hit.” She widens her eyes, having the tears pour down her face, and covers his forehead with her hand.
“You idiot, you’re bleeding!” He stands in place, trying to register what she said. He looks at the back of his hand that is covered with blood. There, he realizes that he have a concussion, and the thing that makes his vision blurry is blood from the concussion. He turns his head to the other side and cover the injury with his hand.
“It’s okay, it doesn’t hurt.”
“Are you okay?” Qu Wei Ran asks as he walks over to Shu Yawang. “Are you hurt elsewhere? Do you want me to bring you to the hospital?” He asks in a caring tone. Xia Mu raises his arm and pushes Qu Wei Ran away with his hand.
“Go away, don’t come closer to Yawang again.” Qu Wei Ran is taken aback from Xia Mu’s words, but he regains his composure as he asks,
“And what if I do?” Xia Mu looks at him with his bloody face and dark, piercing gaze.
“I’ll kill you.” When he’s done, he pulls Yawang away without bothering to see Qu Wei Ran’s reply. He hates this man, he extremely hates him, he nearly killed Yawang.
Yawang lets him pull her away, her eyes constantly looking at Xia Mu’s bleeding face with worry.
“Go to the hospital, Xia Mu. You’re bleeding profusely.” His hand remains on the bloody region and replies back nonchalantly.
“I’m okay.” He holds onto her hand tightly and walks a few more steps before they reach an Audi A8L that is parked by the road. He have Yawang go in then sits at the back seat, ordering the driver in a cold tone,
“Drive back home.”
“No, Uncle Cheng, take us to the hospital first.” She hurriedly interjects.
“What happened?” Uncle Cheng’s face expression looks horrible.
“Nothing, don’t tell Grandpa about this.” Uncle Cheng shifts his gaze to Yawang, whose eyes are bright red and brimming with tears.
“Go to the hospital, the hospital.” Uncle Cheng nods his head and drives to the hospital in a high speed. Xia Mu receives six switches on the top right corner of his forehead and they didn’t reach back to the military compound until late night. Yawang is still worried about him, so she walks him all the way to his bedroom. She looks at his bandaged head with guilt, her eyes remaining red from tears.
“I’m really okay.” He tells her as he sits on his bed, lifting his hand up to brush away the tears on her face.
“I was scared to death. What if something did happened, what should I do? You better not act like this next time, I rather be the one who got hit, I don’t want you to get hurt.” Xia Mu wants to say something, but didn’t, he purses his lips instead. Yawang sits next to him on his bed, their shoulders touching. She lifts her gaze and looks at the familiar room with a sigh.
“I haven’t been in your home for a very long time.” Xia Mu lowers his head and mutters out an agreement, his eyes covered from his long eyelashes and his shadow appeared from the light, revealing a youthful aura that only teenagers have. She looks at the glass cabinet filled with toy models of military equipments. She jumps off from the bed and walks over to the models, taking a model of a fighter jet to play with.
“You still like playing with these huh?” Xia Mu twitches the corners of his lips.
“I haven’t played with them for a long time.”
“Really? You loved to play with them when you were little. Always staring at them every day and ignoring me.” She tilts her head and smiles.
“If I didn’t let you play, you will bite me.” She waves her right hand, pointing to a nearly invisible imprint of teeth marks.
“Look, this is the souvenir you left for me.” Xia Mu turns his head, looking like he is thinking of something when the corners of his lips lift up slightly. Yawang continues to look at the models with fascination, then a flash of silver light comes across her and catches her attention. The silver necklace that is wrapped around a military tank have two adorable fishes kissing. She picks up the necklace in curiosity.
“Wow, this necklace is really pretty.” Somehow, the necklace looks familiar to her. Xia Mu sees what she is holding and tries to grab it back, looking really nervous. Yawang hides the necklace behind her back and starts teasing him like when they were younger.
“Wow, why are you so agitated for? Oh I know,” She laughs as she escapes Xia Mu’s attempts to grab the necklace.
“Don’t tell me you have a girlfriend.”
“I don’t.” He continues to reach his hand out to grab the necklace. She turns her body around and runs away, continuing to tease him.
“Hehe, tell jiejie about it, I’m very open-minded. I wouldn’t be against of you dating in an early age.” When he can’t grab the necklace back, his tone carries a bit of frustration.
“That’s not it, give it back to me.”
“That means you bought it for a girl who you like.” She stops by the end of his bed and looks at him confidently.
“That must be it.” His face blushes when he got caught with her words, so he rushes towards her to hold onto her hand. She is not standing straight and is not balanced, so she falls backwards as Xia Mu run towards her. Both of them fall onto the soft, but elastic mattress, one lying on top of the other. Shu Yawang is being pressed against onto the mattress, but she don’t feel any pain. However, when she turns her head and looks at Xia Mu who is lying on top of her, her face turns red. Both of their faces are so close to each other, the tips of their noses touching, being able to feel each other’s breath, all of this closeness leads to an ambiguous atmosphere.
Xia Mu’s eyes are unreadable, he continues to gaze at Yawang with his flushed face. His heart is beating extremely fast, and it looks like he is possessed as he dips his head down. Yawang looks at him in shock when she feels something touching her lips. She widens her eyes in disbelief. Xia Mu is really nervous, but he didn’t stop. He places a soft kiss onto her lips again, he don’t know how to kiss, it is just a light tap onto her lips. His hands grip onto hers tightly, it’s not to restrict her movement, but it just comes to him automatically. His hands are filled with sweat, not knowing if it’s his or hers.
Yawang finally awakens from the shock and turns her head to avoid his kiss, pushing Xia Mu off with her shoulder. Xia Mu did not budge.
“Xia Mu!” She yells his name in a hushed tone. He buries his face into the crook of her neck.
“Will you ignore me?” He asks her softly in her ear. Her heart beats really fast and her face is still red.
“No, I won’t.” Xia Mu bites his lips and whispers in her ear,
“I like you.” Shu Yawang didn’t think he will say it so straightforwardly, it’s as if he can’t hide it anymore.
“That is because you rely on me.” Xia Mu turns her head to have her look at him.
“No, I like you.” He says in a stubborn tone. If she can, she will answer him back. She really wish that she can give Xia Mu happiness if she can give Xia Mu the feelings to him like he have to her. Shu Yawang likes Xia Mu, she likes the quiet Xia Mu, the cold Xia Mu, the Xia Mu who never had happiness. She wishes that he can smile for once, even a slight tug of his lips or a slight curve on the corner of his lips, she just wants to see him smile. However, there are things that can’t be controlled….
“Xia Mu, I only think of you as a younger brother.” She replies while lowering her gaze. Xia Mu didn’t say anything, he grabs the necklace away from her and opens the clasp, helping her wear it around her neck. He touches the kissing kisses lightly.
“Wear it okay? Keep wearing it.” That was the necklace he bought for her three years ago. He was fourteen and don’t know anything about love. He just knows that she likes this necklace so he bought it for her with a debit card. The debit card is what his mother left for him and he never used it before. But on that day, he used it to buy the necklace for her. He wanted to give it to her, wanted to see her smile, wanted to have her in his embrace. But, he was too scared. He never knew why he was too scared to give it to her, it’s like if he gives it to her, his secret will be exposed.
Today, he finally did it, he can finally tell his secret to her. Maybe from today on, she won’t display her warm smile to him, but he don’t regret it. He hopes that she knows that he likes her, and will continue to like her.
“If you want me to, I’ll keep wearing it.” She tells him, ruffling his soft hair. Xia Mu’s eyes turn dark and he turns silent. He knows he won’t be able to have Yawang, he knew that from the start. But he don’t want to let go, so he pulls her into his embrace, hiding his face into the crook of her neck, his eyes showing sadness, his heart feeling heavy from sadness. He don’t want to let go, he don’t want to…
The next morning, Shu Yawang opens her eyes in a drowsy state. She turns her head and looks at Xia Mu who is still in a deep sleep. His eyebrows narrow slightly from the uncomfortable posture he is sleeping in, and his dark circles are still as dark as before. Yawang sighs softly, he hugged her tightly to sleep the whole night like she was an abandoned child. Seeing how tightly he hugs her and how he don’t want to let her go, she lets him hug her for the night.
She pushes the arms around her waist lightly. Maybe because he’s still in a deep sleep, he didn’t move an inch. She gets off from the bed and walks to the door in light footsteps. She opens the door slowly and turns her head to look back at Xia Mu. He is still asleep in the same position.
Goodbye, Xia Mu. She walks out of the door, not noticing his hands are moving. When she walks out of the villa, she lifts her head up to look at Xia Mu’s room. She sees a shadow flashing by the glass window, but she pretends she didn’t notice it and walks back home.
When she arrive home, her mom yells at her for not coming back last night and when she explains it’s because she’s taking care of Xia Mu who was injured, her dad bombards her with questions. When he knows it’s because of her that Xia Mu is injured, he points at her and yell,
“If you put Xia Mu in a dangerous situation again, I’m not going to have you as my daughter, understand?”
“Yes, there won’t be a next time.” She answers in an exhausted tone. She wonders how will her dad react when he knows that Xia Mu likes her, will he actively be against it or quickly pushes her into his embrace? She thinks it will be the latter, her dad views highly of gratitude, so whatever Xia Mu wants, he will give it to him.
Yawang walks to her room and sits on her bed, reaching for the necklace around her neck. She unhooks it and looks at it in her hands, the two chubby fishes happily kissing each other. This pretty necklace matches her who is a Pisces. Ah. She finally remembers where she saw this necklace. It was when she was young, standing outside of the store inside a grand shopping mall. She really wanted to buy this necklace back then. He liked me since then? She wears the necklace back and touches the fishes, it feels cold, just like his hands. Oh no, I had Qu Wei Ran to deal with, and now Xia Mu? She rolls around her bed and buried her face into the pillow. Xiao Tian, come back. Please come back soon.
The next few days goes on as if nothing have happened. She still wakes up and go to work and then go back home to sleep. However, the relationship between Yawang and Xia Mu change drastically; Xia Mu do not cling to Yawang as much, and Yawang don’t see Xia Mu sitting in her living room studying anymore. Everytime she wants to ask a friend to go out with her, her finger will go towards Xia Mu’s name on her phone, but she can’t seem to press the call button. Even though they live in the same compound, it’s rare to bump into each other. When that does happen, Yawang’s face will automatically blush and she will dip her head down awkwardly, and before she can say anything, Xia Mu is already walking farther and farther away from her.
Yawang looks at Xia Mu’s back with a sigh, she have to accept the drastic change in their relationship. For some people, if they cannot be lovers, they also cannot be friends. Yawang keeps her promise and wears the necklace every day. Sometimes, when the Xia family’s car drives past her, she will look at the car window. Although she can’t see anything behind the black car window, she can sense the young boy looking back at her, looking at the necklace around her neck.
The humid summer is coming to an end, and Yawang is busy avoiding Qu Wei Ran in the construction site. She is scared to bump into him again so whenever she sees a person who have a similar body shape or sounds like him, she will walk away speedily and hide.
“Look at you, you have the Qu Wei Ran-phobia now, is it really that scary?” Xiao Xue sneers. Yawang crawls out from the table she is hiding in.
“I’m not afraid of him, I just don’t want to bump into him.” Xiao Xue points at the window with a horrored look.
“Oh, Qu Wei Ran is coming!” Yawang quickly hides under the table again.
“Don’t have him come in.” She begs nervously. Xiao Xue starts to laugh at her.
“And you said you’re not afraid of him.” Once Yawang realizes she’s been tricked, she rubs her nose and crawls out of the table, clearly annoyed.
“See how I will deal with you!” Xiao Xue sticks her tongue out playfully and dodges her attacks. She retrieves Yawang’s bag for her to lessen her anger.
“Alright, let’s leave now. Don’t waste time trying to hit me.” Yawang takes her bag and looks at the time, it is indeed the time to get off from work. She decides to let this issue pass for the day, she will have her revenge tomorrow.
“Alright, let’s go.” Both of them walk out of the office and strolls down the road. Suddenly, Xiao Xue shakes Yawang’s arm excitedly.
“Look, look, another handsome guy!”
“There!” She shifts her eye to the right, “It looks like he’s smiling at me! Wow, he’s so handsome!” Yawang looks at her direction and sees a handsome man with a warm smile standing across the street from them. She widens her eyes and lets out a scream before running towards him and entering into his embrace. The man greets her back warmly, holding onto her tightly.
“I’m back, Yawang.” She pushes her arms against his sturdy back to have him closer and bury her face into his chest.
“I miss you.” Tang Xiao Tian kisses the crown of her head and looks at her adoringly.
“I miss you too.” Xiao Xue slumps her shoulders and shakes her head as she walks away. So he is Yawang’s boyfriend, such a lucky girl! At that time, a car drives by and stops before them. It honks a few times and the car window rolls down afterwards, revealing Qu Wei Ran’s head when he sticks it out.
“Hey Xiao Tian, long time no see!” Right when she hears his voice, her body stiffens and she turns her head to give him a glare. Qu Wei Ran shrugs off her glare and even give her a wink in return. She really wants to slap him across the face. Tang Xiao Tian holds onto Yawang’s hand and walks up to his car.
“Big Brother, long time no see.” The two bump their fists and smiles at each other, looking like they have a close relationship. Qu Wei Ran points to the backseat of the car.
“Get in, my treat for lunch.” Yawang tugs onto Xiao Tian’s hand, giving him a look saying that she don’t want to go. He squeezes her hand and leans down to whisper in her ear.
“It’s okay.” She lifts her gaze to look at Xiao Tian, he is definitely more mature now with his words giving her assurance. She nods her head and both of them sit in the backseat. Qu Wei Ran looks at them through the rearview mirror from time to time, their hands are never apart from each other, it’s as if they don’t want to separate for even a second. Shu Yawang have a feeling that Qu Wei Ran is looking at them, so she gives a glare at the rearview mirror. He chuckles and continues to drive.
Qu Wei Ran brings them to a high-class restaurant for lunch. After they are all seated, he starts to talk.
“Xiao Tian likes to eat spicy food. This restaurant’s spicy dishes are the best, if you try it, you’ll definitely like it.” Xiao Tian thanks him while Yawang think otherwise, and soon the dishes arrive.
The three talk while eating.
“How many more years until you graduate, Xiao Tian?”
“One more year.” He answers while picking away the carrots which Yawang hates, off from her plate and putting them onto his.
“That’s soon.” Qu Wei Ran glances towards Yawang’s direction, seeing how she smiles sweetly at Xiao Tian while eating. He squints his eyes and lifts up a corner of his lips to create a devilish grin, gently rubbing on Yawang’s calf with his foot. Yawang’s smile turns stiff and she pulls her legs away while glaring at him in anger. He looks back at her innocently then turns his head to look at Xiao Tian.
“How long are you going to be staying for this break?”
“Winter break is one month.” He turns his head and looks at Yawang who stops eating. “You’re full?’
“Uhh.” She nods. She’s not full, she just lost her appetite because of this person!
“Then you go home first, I haven’t seen Big Brother for a long time, we have a lot to catch up on.” She looks at him unhappily.
“Go, be good.” He coax her with a warm voice. She sees how persistent he is, even though she really don’t want to, she nods her head.
“Alright then.” As she stands up to wear her coat, Xiao Tian suddenly pulls her and kisses her lightly on the lips, ruffling her hair with a smile.
“Don’t be mad, I’ll go look for you later, okay?” She blushes from the sudden act, she never would have think Xiao Tian will act like this, it was her that would display affection in the public in the past! Now, he’s doing it, so annoying, so annoying, hehe! She hides her smile and pretends to give him an angry glare.
“Come back soon.” Tang Xiao Tian smiles as he watches her leave until she is away from his sight.
“She’s pretty cute.” Qu Wei Ran comments as he swirls his wine glass.
“She is.” He agreed as he lowers his head and smile. After awhile, he lifts his head back up and smiles at Qu Wei Ran.
“Big Brother, we haven’t compete in while, should we go practice?” Qu Wei Ran gives a meaningful smile and nods his head.
“Alright, let’s go!”
Qu Wei Ran brings Tang Xiao Tian to an abandoned basketball court. Since it’s winter, there is no one else in the court. Both men remove their coats.
“Big Brother, should I go easy on you?”
“You brat, grown up so much to say that to me now.” He laughs in reply. Xiao Tian’s smile disappears.
“Then I won’t go easy.” He punches him immediately afterwards, Qu Wei Ran not bothering to defend himself. Xiao Tian starts to throw kicks when Qu Wei Ran is not able to regain his balance. He tries to block them with his arms , but he staggers backward at Xiao Tian’s attacks.
“You’re getting better.” He comments as he shakes his numb arms.
“You’re just getting worse.” Xiao Tian replies while shaking his head. Qu Wei Ran smiles and throws a punch at Xiao Tian. Xiao Tian is good at fights, but Qu Wei Ran is not bad at it either, it’s just that he can never beat him. Even though he always gets beaten to the ground, he likes to fight with Xiao Tian. He likes it because his whole body will be sweating and feeling numb, and he likes that feeling.
Qu Wei Ran breathes heavily as he lies down onto the icy, cold ground. He looks up at the starry sky and laughs.
“Xiao Tian-ah, you’re still the same, still not able to hide your thoughts.” Tang Xiao Tian walks towards him and pulls him up with one arm, giving him a serious look.
“Big Brother, there are a lot of women in the world, don’t touch my Yawang or I won’t go easy on you.”
“You aren’t going easy on me this time.” A sharp pain stabs into his chest and he rubs the area with his hand.
“Four months, it’s only been four months since I saw her.” He really wants to stand up, but the pain on his chest is preventing him to do so, so he gives up and sits up instead.
“If I really want to make a move on her, I would have done it a long time ago.” Tang Xiao Tian raises his fist, but Qu Wei Ran quickly avoids it.
“I’m joking.” He lowers his fist and clenches onto the collars of his shirt instead.
“A joke? Do you know how much distress you have put onto Yawang?” Qu Wei Ran pats his hand away.
“You two are so serious, can’t even take a joke.” He struggles to stand up and wears his suit jacket.
“Life is just a game.”
“Qu Wei Ran!” He slings one arm over Xiao Tian’s shoulder and covers his chest with the other.
“Xiao Tian, you broke my rib, it really hurts.” Tang Xiao Tian holds onto him.
“It was only three this time, that’s nothing.”
“Over that for a woman.” Xiao Tian gives him a stern look.
“To me, she’s not just ‘that’,”
“Alright, don’t get mad.” He tells him as he slaps Xiao Tian’s shoulder. “Big Brother just wants to see if she’s worthy of it.”
“Worthy of what?”
“Worthy of you loving her.” Qu Wei Ran lowers his head and smiles.
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