Chapter 10: Sweet love (pt. 1)
When we were little, I really admired you. It’s because you have a set goal, you know what you like, what you want to do, how your future is going to be like. I like this type of you, I also wish to become like you.
Shu Yawang singing to “Honey Honey” by Stefanie Sun.
“You’re going to fly if you keep on spinning.” Her mother laughs as she looks at her daughter who is singing in her room as she chooses what clothes to wear. She picks a Korean-style white coat and spins twice to reach to her mother, singing the next few lines of this sweet, love song.
“Crazy, this girl is turning crazy. Your honey is waiting for you downstairs, go already.” Her mother shakes her head at her. Yawang wears her coat and continues to sing as she strolls down the hallway, clutching onto her purse as she skips downstairs. Her mother keeps on shaking her head as she follows her.
“She will not live here within the next two years, need to start preparing for the wedding already.” Her father is smoking on the couch.
“It’s not like she’s going to be far away, it’s only in the neighboring building.” Her mother looks down from the staircase where Yawang jumps into Xiao Tian’s embrace, her face full of happiness. Her mother smiles and nods her head at Tang Xiao Tian approvingly.
“Xiao Tian is turning more handsome as he turns older, I don’t think there are any other guys in the compound that is as handsome as him.” Her father exhales a string of smoke.
“What are you talking about? Xia Mu is as handsome as him.”
“All you talk about is Xia Mu, is he your son?” She asks in disappointment. Her father laughs in reply.
“Fine, fine, fine. Handsome, handsome, Xiao Tian is handsome! Look at you, a mother-in-law looking at her son-in-law like that.”
“I can look at him however I want to, are you forbidding me not to?” She glares at him. Her father stands up from the couch and puts on his military hat. He looks back at her when he opens the door.
“Keep looking then, I’m going to work.”
“Go, go.” Her mother waves her hands away to shoo her husband to work. She turns her body and walks towards the kitchen as she talks to herself.
“I need to go buy some food later and cook a nice meal for Xiao Tian for dinner.” Her father shakes his head as he walks out.
“Both women are crazy of him. Is he more handsome than I was when I was young?” He thinks about the question for the moment, then decides not to answer it and leaves for work.
Shu Yawang and Tang Xiao Tian are walking across the courtyard of the military compound with their hands interlaced. The winter wind is still a bit chilly, but since Yawang wants to dress pretty, she wears a miniskirt with a pair of brown boots and covers herself with an oversized white coat. She is also wearing a set of red gloves and a red scarf, making her look young and beautiful. Xiao Tian is wearing his green army jacket with a pair of old jeans. He is holding onto Yawang’s hand with his right hand and her purse with his left.
“Are you going to take me to work?” She asks as she rocks their hands back and forth.
“Yeah, I’m taking you to work.” He answers with a loving smile.
“Give me a piggyback ride.” She lets go of his hand and tries to jump on his back. She wraps her arms around his neck and sticks onto his back.
“You haven’t given me a piggyback ride in ages.” He rubs his nose and lowers his head as he blushes.
“There’s a lot of people in the morning.”
“So what if there’s a lot of people? You can’t give me a piggyback ride if there’s a lot of people?” He leans forward and she happily jumps onto his back. He carries her with no difficulty and she asks as they start walking.
“Did I got heavier?”
“No, you’re as light as a feather.” He laughs. She shakes her body a few times in excitement. He laughs and shakes his head as they stroll along the streets. When a car is driving by them, they will slow down and watches them. Then they will see their faces full of happiness and drive off in a happy state.
A bicycle drives past them; the young boy is wearing a white coat and he looks back at them briefly, locking eyes with Xiao Tian. The boy’s eyes are cold and emotionless, as they wander to look at Yawang, they are also cold and expressionless. He turns his head back and quickly drives away.
“Was that Xia Mu that just passed by?”
“Mhm.” She looks at Xia Mu’s back with worry. It’s winter and he’s still riding his bike?
“He don’t even answer to you now.” She didn’t answer right away, instead, she reaches to the necklace and touches it. It’s cold against her skin, just like how his eyes are when he looks at her. Xiao Tian looks at Yawang’s face that is full of disappointment.
“He’s probably in the puberty stage, being a rebel and all.” She laughs at his comforting words.
“Probably.” He drops her down gently to the ground.
“Wait here, I’ll go get the car.”
“Mmm.” She nods her head and watches him as he walks to the garage. A familiar looking jeep appears and stops in front of her. Xiao Tian opens the shotgun seat door for her. She climbs in the jeep and touches the interior in surprise.
“Xiao Tian, I can’t believe your dad actually lets you drive this.” He laughs as he steers the wheel.
“My dad bought a new one, so he threw this one out for me.”
“That has nothing to do with you getting a second-hand car. Your dad don’t even let you ride a bicycle to school, always making you go by foot. Now he lets you drive,” She pause to look at Xiao Tian.
“That proves something.”
“Prove what?” She stretches out her arm and reaches for his short, stiff hair. She looks at him with a serious expression as she touches his hair.
“You’re grown up.”
“Quit playing.” He shakes his head, wanting Yawang to let go of her grasp. She likes playing with his hair, she likes how it pricks against her hand.
“Yawang, a man’s head cannot be touched.” She leans forward and argue back,
“A woman’s waist cannot be touched either, can you guarantee that you won’t touch my waist then?” He licks his lips and smile, revealing his pair of sweet dimples.
“How is that the same?”
“How is it not the same? From now on, only you can touch my waist and only I can touch your hair. Then, it will be the same.” He rubs his nose and chuckles as he lowers his head. Then he looks at Yawang and take her hand away from his head and holds onto it.
“Okay, you can touch it. Only you can touch it.” Yawang covers her mouth with one hand as she laughs at him. He thought about Yawang’s words earlier and laugh as well, revealing his sweet dimples once again. Yawang leans forward in her seat.
“Xiao Tian, Xiao Tian, your smile is beautiful.” He turns his head to look at her.
“If you’re going to be like this, I’m not going to drive you to work.” He replies as he arches his eyebrows.
“What are you going to do then?”
“Bring you back home.” He glance at her briefly. “And then…” Yawang’s heart starts to beat fast as she feel herself blushing.
“And then what?”
“Not let you leave.” She covers her mouth with her hand.
“I can’t believe you have such perverted thoughts!” His face starts to turn red and gives an awkward expression.
“Uh….” Yawang place her head down onto the dash cover, hiding her face with her arm.
“And I like that.” She takes a peek to see his reaction after she finishes her sentence. Both of their faces are red and it feels like the temperature is rising inside the car. Tang Xiao Tian suddenly hits the steering wheel and brakes the car, parking the car on the side of the street.
“Yawang, don’t go to work today.” He tells her, licking his lips nervously.
“I can’t.” She answers back, rubbing her nose awkwardly. Xiao Tian’s face is still red, but you can see the disappointed look on his face.
“I have a lot of work to do.” She continues.
“Oh.” He purse his lips and continue driving. Yawang turns on the radio and sings along to the song that is currently playing. Xiao Tian smiles from her rendition, his foot tapping with the beat and occasionally humming a few lines. His mood turns brighter from the song and he looks out of the window and thinks to himself, The sky is so blue, the air is so fresh, Yawang is so adorable.
The upbeat melody continues on until they reach the building where Yawang works. She rolls down the window and looks at the building in front.
“I really don’t want to go to work.”
“Then don’t go.” She laughs and answer him back as she continues to look out the window.
“Work is tiring and even irritating sometimes, but as I work longer, I discover that this job is very meaningful. Xiao Tian, do you know what is the name of that tree?” She points to a tree down the road and he shakes his head in reply.
“That‘s called a dragon juniper.” She continues to name the different trees down the road.
“Holly, crape myrtle, painted maple, over there are Chinese juniper and photinia.” She lowers her head and chuckles to herself. “I didn’t know any of these before, now ever I started working here, I learn how to place them around the cities and use them to protect our environment. Isn’t that pretty neat?” She takes his hand and place it onto her palm.
“When we were little, I really admired you. It’s because you have a set goal, you know what you like, what you want to do, how your future is going to be like. I like this type of you, I also wish to become like you.” He looks back at her and interlaces their hands together.
“I really like this job. I hope one day, I can use my own design and create a place as beautiful as heaven.” She lowers her head in embarrassment.
“Does it sound like an unrealistic dream?”
“No.” Xiao Tian pulls her towards him, resting his chin on top of her head and running his fingers through her hair.
“It’s a very great dream, work hard, it will come true.”
“Mmm, we have to see it together when that happens.” She lowers her head again and smiles shyly.
“Because if you’re there, it’s heaven.”
“Because if you’re there, it’s heaven.” He repeats her words, smiling as he drives off. He keeps on thinking what she said and can’t help, but to smile from it. The happy melody continues to play in the car when he suddenly feels hot inside. He rolls down the window and a cool breeze enters immediately. He didn’t feel the slightest cold as the wind blows the collar of his shirt. He curves of the corner of his lips and makes an U-turn to drive back to Yawang’s workplace. He looks at the building through the car window, he knows she won’t be able to see him, but he don’t want to leave, he wants to stay close to her.
He can imagine her focusing on her drawings, imagine her walking across the office with her arms fulled of folders, imagine her holding a mug as she sits on her office chair, imagine her chatting with her coworkers. He didn’t think that it’s silly and time consuming. Being able to sit here quietly and waiting for her to get off from work is also a blissful thing to him.
At that time, he sees Yawang rushing out the door and trying to catch a taxi cab.
“Yawang!” He shouts, sticking his head out from the car. Yawang looks surprised to see him, but rushes towards him.
“Why are you still here?”
“I….I think I dropped something, so I come back to look for it.”
“What can you drop when you’re driving the car?” He nods in embarrassment.
“Oh, right!” She opens the car door and sits on the seat. “Drive me to our high school.”
“What’s wrong?” He asks as he starts the car. She looks angry as she answers back.
“Xia Mu’s teacher called, he got into a fight in school.”
Xiao Tian looks at her angry face and tries to comfort her.
“Not a lot of people find his personality likable, it’s possible for him to be excluded.”
“Not likable? How can he be not likable?” She raises her fists at him.
“No, I think it’s cute.” They quickly drive to the school and Yawang immediately gets out of the car. She sees the familiar buildings and gardens, which did not seem to have changed for the past years. She sighs out loud as she looks towards the pathway to the main entrance.
“It seemed like we were biking to school yesterday.”
“Yeah.” He nods his head in agreement, standing beside Yawang and looking at the same direction as she is. He remembers the grey skies as they biked to school, the chilly wind greeting them as he protects his warm soy milk in his backpack.
“I wonder if Teacher Gao is still here.”
“He still is, Zhang Jing Yu just saw him last time.”
“I see.” Yawang sees Xiao Tian’s face full of anticipation when he hears that his homeroom teacher is still in school.
“Go visit him, I’ll go see Xia Mu first, then I’ll look for you.” He ponders for awhile, then nods his head.
“Okay.” They both wave their hands to each other and goes to their separate ways.
Yawang sprints to the high school building and finds the teachers’ office. She opens the door shortly after knocking. She sees three women who she assumed are the parents at the right, a young woman who is the teacher in the middle, and Xia Mu with three other male students at the left. Her eyes stop as they land onto Xia Mu, she sees a cut on his lips, a purplish bruise on the corner of his eye, and his white coat is stained with dirt. She turns more angry as she looks at him, it’s unacceptable! Xia Mu is the baby in her family’s household, if she even dare to raise her voice at him, her dad will threaten her. But in school, someone dare to hit his handsome face and creates bruises all over?
“You are Xia Mu’s…” The young woman asks as she walks over to her. She takes a napkin out from her coat pocket and wipes off the dirt on his face as she answers back.
“I’m his older sister.” After she said that, Xia Mu turns his head to the other side, not letting her wipe his face. She forcefully turns his head back in frustration.
“Don’t move!” As she looks at the bruise on his lips, her anger boils. She glares at the three male students and the young teacher waves her hands frantically.
“My surname is Shu.” She whips her head back and glare at her.
“Umm…Miss Shu, I think you’re mistaken. The reason I call you to come here is not because the three students hit Xia Mu, it’s Xia Mu who hit them.” The three mothers immediately stands up and unzips their child’s coat.
“Look at how your younger brother beat my child up!”
“Look at how he made my child’s head have a bruise!”
“He made a fool out of my child!” She pulls Xia Mu towards them and fights back.
“Look at how your children hit my younger brother back.” The four young men look back at her in guilt, one of them actually speaks up.
“It’s him that hit us. Look at our injuries, it’s far more worse than his.”
“I’m sorry, I mistaken you guys.” The young teacher apologize with a light laugh.
“You guys are injured?” Yawang asks, looking at the three students up and down. They seem fine to her.
“See it for yourself!” The male student said, taking off his coat. The other two students strip off their shirt, one of them even takes off his pants. The young teacher’s face flushes and stammers out,
“They do have worser injuries.”
“Really?” Yawang crosses her arms across her chest and looks at the stripping male students. Suddenly, her view turns black as a hand covers her eyes.
“I hit them.” Xia Mu murmurs out from the back.
“See, he admitted it. Teacher, you are biased to Xia Mu! When he see him injured, you said it’s us who hit him.”
“It’s because it’s on his face.” She replies with an apologetic face.
“He’s so cunning, hitting in the places where you can’t see!” She looks at Xia Mu’s arms and laughs in her mind. She don’t know if it’s the male students that are stupid or Xia Mu that is smart, how can you not understand the logic of not hitting one’s face in a fight?
“Um, Miss Xia…”
“It’s Shu.” Jeez, this teacher is stupid too.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Miss Shu,” The teacher chuckles softly. “Since it’s Xia Mu who hits them, based on the school policy…” Yawang raises her arm in protest.
“They are three people whereas Xia Mu is alone, if you look at it, it’s Xia Mu who’s in a disadvantage. I can forgive them for ganging up on him, but you still want to punish Xia Mu? If there’s punishment, then everyone should be punished.”
“Right, um, they should all be punished.”
“Teacher!” All of the three students cry out, “Why are you punishing us?”
“Because you guys are fighting.” The young teacher murmurs.
“Teacher, are you a recent graduate?”
“Yes.” Yawang sighs and pulls the teacher to side to talk to her privately. The teacher’s face changes from being surprised to touched, the corners of her eyes turning red like she’s about to cry.
“I hope you can understand.” The teacher nods her head and gives Xia Mu an emphatic look.
“You may leave Xia Mu, listen to your sister well.” Xia Mu looks at Yawang with a raised eyebrow, she gives him a wink in return.
“Teacher!” The male students yell out.
“Alright, I’ll treat you all to lunch okay?”
“No!” She pulls Xia Mu out of the office as the male students continue to voice out their discontent.
Yawang turns her head back and laughs as she looks at his teacher.
“Your teacher is pretty cute.”
“So naive.” Yawang laughs and nods her head in agreement.
“She is.” Xia Mu stuffs his hands in his pockets and follows her with his head down. After they reached the ground floor, he suddenly stops in place.
“What did you tell her?” Yawang stops walking and turns her head back.
“I just made up a story of a child that’s been living a tragic life, always getting bullied, but will never be intimidated by them. I didn’t think that she will believe in it!”
“You always bully honest people.” She looks at him without saying a word.
“What are you looking at?”
“You’re finally talking to me.” Xia Mu snorts out a sound and lowers his head.
“You’re the one that has been ignoring me.”
“When had I ever ignored you?” She asks, feeling wronged.
“You don’t have time to talk to me.”
“Ha, so you’re jealous.” She laughs. He gives her a glare and quickly walks out of the school building. Yawang chases after him to catch up with him.
“Sorry, I’m already taken, I can’t promise you anything. If you like the older sister type, I think your teacher is alright, she’s cute and naive, and she’s pretty too…” Xia Mu stops walking and looks at Yawang with a cold stare. She sees his cold expression and licks her lips to stop talking. He closes his fists and shoots her a glare.
“Shu Yawang, you’re a bigger idiot than my teacher.” It’s as if Yawang is a ball that got poked by a needle, her self-esteem deflating like a punctured ball. Xia Mu is about to say something else, but he sees a familiar shadow walking towards them, so he turns his head back.
“Are you alright Xia Mu?” Xiao Tian asks with a warm smile.
“I’m alright.” He reply back coldly, shaking his head. Xiao Tian notices the bruises on his face.
“I’m good at fights, let me teach you a few moves.”
“Do you think I need to be taught?” He asks as he looks at Xiao Tian.
“Um…” Xiao Tian don’t know how to answer him back. Xia Mu don’t need to be taught, his grandfather’s bodyguards themselves are considered to be the best fighters.
“Xia Mu.” Yawang scolds him with her narrowed eyebrows. He didn’t bother to look back at her when he turns his heels and walk away. Yawang looks at his back with a sigh and Xiao Tian gives a helpless smile.
“He still hates me.”
“He really don’t like you.” She helplessly nod her head.
“But your dad really likes him.” He laughs.
“He really likes him, he likes him more than he likes me.” He stuffs his hands in his pockets and look at her with a teasing smile.
“You like him too.” Yawang is dumbfounded from his words. He lowers his head and smiles shyly.
“So I like him as well.” She is frozen for awhile, then reaches her arm out to hold onto Xiao Tian’s hand, leaning close to him.
“Ah, what a nice brother-in-law.” Both of them exchange glances and smile.
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