35. I care.
After returning home from the supermarket, Yu Xinqiao was still holding the ice cream cup and licking the lid.
Seeing how much he cherished it, Xu Yanhuan couldn’t help but laugh and cry, “Stop licking it, I’ll buy you another one next time.”
“I want to lick it.” Yu Xinqiao extended his tongue and licked off the last bit of cream stuck to the cup’s wall. His cheeks turned rosy, and his eyes sparkled. “After licking it… I’ll lick you.”
Later, when they were in bed, Xu Yanhuan asked him who taught him that. Yu Xinqiao’s gaze wandered around, “I learned it from watching movies. Don’t tell me you’ve never watched any movies as you grew up.”
Xu Yanhuan had watched one and only one, just a few nights ago. In order to provide Yu Xinqiao with a good experience, he ventured onto a certain LGBTQ+ forum and read related experience posts. Among them, there was a gif that was so explicit that it made him furrow his brows. If it weren’t for the purpose of learning, he would have closed it immediately.
Normally, Xu Yanhuan wasn’t particularly interested in such things. If he had physiological needs, he would take care of them himself without any further fantasies. But Yu Xinqiao was an unexpected exception.
That slender and delicate hand that caught rainwater, and the slender waist that appeared countless times in Xu Yanhuan’s dreams.
So much so that after six years, the person from his dreams became a tangible reality, lying beneath him. Xu Yanhuan couldn’t help but feel it was unreal, as if he were still dreaming.
As if sensing his hesitation, Yu Xinqiao reached for his glasses on the bedside table and unfolded the temples, putting them on him.
“Xu Yanhuan, look carefully.” Yu Xinqiao patiently repeated, “I’m right here, I won’t go anywhere.”
A warm breath landed on the lenses, creating a thin mist. Once again, the two embraced, feeling the intense beating of each other’s hearts, like a forest that had shed its desolation and regained its vitality after a harsh winter.
Due to Yu Xinqiao’s upcoming tour starting the next day, this time Xu Yanhuan didn’t fully indulge himself.
He still managed to exhaust Yu Xinqiao enough. Afterward, he curled up in the bed, wrapped in the blanket, with his eyes wide open, staring at Xu Yanhuan. “I thought you were the celibate type, but I didn’t expect…”
Xu Yanhuan also crawled into the bed, shifting the blame shamelessly, “Blame yourself for always tempting me.”
Originally, Xu Yanhuan hadn’t planned to reach this stage so quickly. After all, he had amnesia now and was technically a patient.
Yu Xinqiao felt wronged, not realizing he was the one who tempted others. “What do you mean by ‘always’?”
Thinking back to when Yu Xinqiao was eighteen and used to tease him by revealing his waist while taking a shower, Xu Yanhuan realized it was partly his own fault. If he had taken action back in that apartment building that night, he might have regretted it until now.
Not wanting to explain how many times he meant by “always,” Xu Yanhuan stretched his arm and embraced him, resting his chin on Yu Xinqiao’s fluffy head, silently grateful that he wasn’t allergic to him.
Yu Xinqiao also thought of his allergy, “Is it enough to just take medicine, or do you need to apply ointment?”
“No need,” Xu Yanhuan said, “It’ll be fine tomorrow
Yu Xinqiao snuggled closer to him, overwhelmed by exhaustion, unable to hold back a yawn.
“It’s been five minutes, and now you’re my only baby,” his voice grew softer, “Next time, you should buy me ice cream too.”
Xu Yanhuan chuckled, thinking there was a double meaning in his words. Who would have only five minutes?
But he didn’t forget to remind him, “You can’t lick ice cream in front of other people.”
“Why?” Yu Xinqiao asked.
“No reason, you just can’t.”
“Okay.” Yu Xinqiao slowly closed his eyes. “Since you’re my baobao… I’ll let you go once.”
May 2nd, afternoon, Xuncheng Concert Hall.
The front desk lights, sound systems, and other facilities were undergoing final adjustments. The orchestra and the backstage crew arrived, some were getting ready in makeup and changing clothes, while others were tuning their instruments.
As the protagonist of the performance, Yu Xinqiao had a separate dressing room. He couldn’t stand the quietness, so he didn’t stay inside for long before running out. Sometimes he would watch the sister doing makeup, and sometimes he would accompany the sister tuning the instrument.
Even the head of the orchestra laughed and said that Yu Xinqiao seemed more like the overall coordinator of the orchestra. Yu Xinqiao also laughed and said, “Do you want to consider hiring me? I happen to be looking for a part-time job.”
Upon hearing this, Liang Yi’s temples throbbed, and he quickly pushed Yu Xinqiao’s shoulder to send him back to the dressing room.
“My goodness, we are taking the elegant route, can you please not downgrade yourself.”
Yu Xinqiao found it exaggerated, “Isn’t it good to be down-to-earth? How do you say it in slang, ‘attracting fans’?”
“You don’t understand the psychology of the audience. Before being down-to-earth, you have to establish an elegant image, that’s what creates the contrast cuteness.”
Liang Yi took out his phone and showed Yu Xinqiao the giant poster hanging outside the hall. The photo was taken before Yu Xinqiao lost his memory, sitting in front of a Steinway piano, hands suspended in mid-air, with a solemn expression that exuded the enjoyment of immersed in music.
Yu Xinqiao began to study the expression of his 24-year-old self in the mirror, struggling for a while, feeling that something was off.
“Xiao Yi, quickly, find a hairstylist. The only thing I’m missing compared to the person on the poster is a seemingly casual but actually meticulously crafted hairstyle!”
Outside the concert hall, Xu Yanhuan and his mother got off the taxi. Uncle Wang was originally planning to come today, but he had unexpected work and couldn’t get away.
At the entrance of the hall, Xu Yanhuan first contacted Yu Xinqiao’s parents by phone.
Naturally, tickets for the premiere were also reserved for Yao Qiongying and Yu Hanzhang. The two specially flew back from abroad, and since Yu Xinqiao couldn’t be distracted during the waiting period, Xu Yanhuan volunteered to take care of his parents.
After about five minutes, the two arrived by car. Seeing Xu Yanhuan’s mother, Bai Wei, Yao Qiongying spoke politely to her. It was the first time the parents from both sides met, and even though Bai Wei had taken great care in dressing up before coming, facing Yao Qiongying, a strong woman in high heels and a suit skirt, she couldn’t help but feel a bit inferior and timid.
Fortunately, Yu Hanzhang was good at understanding people’s hearts. Seeing Bai Wei’s uneasiness, he quickly interrupted and said, “Don’t just stand outside, let’s go in.”
The tickets for the group were together, with Xu Yanhuan and Yu Hanzhang sitting together, and the two mothers on either side.
As the younger generation, Xu Yanhuan first asked Yu Hanzhang, “How long do you and Aunt plan to stay this time?”
Yu Hanzhang replied, “At most a week. Your aunt has urgent work to go back to.”
“If it’s not urgent, stay a few more days. Let us fulfill our filial duties, and Xiao Qiao also needs your company.”
Noticing Xu Yanhuan’s address to Yu Xinqiao, Yu Hanzhang raised an eyebrow slightly in surprise. Normally, he was the one communicating with Yu Xinqiao, so he knew that their relationship was not close after getting married.
It seemed that Yu Xinqiao’s amnesia had become an opportunity to break the ice.
Yu Hanzhang nodded with relaxed eyebrows and said, “Let’s get in touch again when we return. It’s time for our family to sit down and have a meal together.”
Xu Yanhuan readily agreed and felt relieved in his heart.
On the evening before the performance, Yu Xinqiao had repeatedly instructed Xu Yanhuan not to disturb him before and after the opening, as he was afraid it would affect his state of mind.
However, just ten minutes before the opening, Xu Yanhuan’s phone vibrated, receiving a WeChat message.
Yu Xinqiao: What should I do? I’m a bit nervous.
Xu Yanhuan chuckled and replied: “Let’s cancel it and go home.”
Yu Xinqiao: Breaking the contract will incur penalties, and besides, it’s not my style to back out at the last minute.
Xu Yanhuan: Then don’t be nervous, you’re already amazing.
After sending this message, there was no response from the other side.
The musicians on stage entered one by one, sitting around in the surrounding area. In the center stood a raised platform with a grand piano.
As the lights dimmed and the tuning sounds ceased, applause replaced them. Xu Yanhuan saw Yu Xinqiao dressed in a fitted suit, walking slowly onto the stage. He first bowed to the audience below, then approached his piano and took a seat on his throne.
The one-and-a-half-hour performance had a well-balanced arrangement of familiar and dazzling pieces, with sonatas and concertos complementing each other. Xu Yanhuan had been a little worried before coming that he might fall asleep, but once he experienced it firsthand, he realized that merely opening his eyes wide and listening attentively was not enough; he couldn’t afford to be distracted.
As the final section of the impassioned melody concluded, the accompanying orchestra members exited the stage one by one. Yu Xinqiao, still on stage, seemed to take a few deep breaths before raising his hands again, and beautiful notes flowed from his fingertips.
Xu Yanhuan knew this piece. It was the birthday gift that Yu Xinqiao had played for him on his eighteenth birthday, Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”
The soft stage lights draped over Yu Xinqiao like moonlight, and as he gently raised his hand, placing it on the black and white keys, Xu Yanhuan felt as though he was emitting his own light.
It was as if he had given himself as a gift to Xu Yanhuan.
As the performance came to an end, the audience gradually began to leave.
Xu Yanhuan escorted the three elders outside the hall, and they bid farewell for now.
After the concert, there was a scheduled interview, and there were many media reporters gathered at the backstage exit. Since they thought they wouldn’t be able to see him for a while, Yao Qiongying and Yu Hanzhang decided to go back to the hotel first, as there was always time in the future.
Bai Wei received a meeting gift from her mother-in-law, a jade bracelet. She was anxious about what gift to give in return but didn’t want to disturb the young couple, so she decided to take a taxi and leave first.
After seeing off the elders, Xu Yanhuan returned through the staff passage behind the hall. Liang Yi had already arranged for the security personnel to look after the entrance. Xu Yanhuan encountered no obstacles along the way but heard some commotion near the rest area.
Initially, he thought it was the reporters not maintaining order, but as he approached, he saw the crowded crowd and heard a voice that Xu Yanhuan would never forget.
“Make way, the pianist is my daughter-in-law. Let me say a few words to him!”
Yu Xinqiao didn’t expect so many media personnel to be present.
He had planned to answer a few questions and leave, but the reporters relentlessly followed him, bombarding him with questions about his artistic journey, family situation, and even his personal life. They asked everything he couldn’t have imagined.
Amidst the chaos, there was another voice mixed in. A middle-aged man, around fifty years old, and thin in stature, was among them. He waved to Yu Xinqiao and shouted loudly, “I am Xu Yanhuan’s father!”
It wasn’t that others hadn’t noticed him. Some reporters had already pointed their microphones at the middle-aged man, asking who he was. The man struggled to push forward and reach the microphone. In the midst of the jostling, Yu Xinqiao stumbled.
Liang Yi was positioned several people away from him on his right side and couldn’t protect him in time. Just as Yu Xinqiao instinctively crossed his hands in front of his chest, trying to protect the most vital area before falling, his waist was suddenly embraced from behind, and he was forcefully pulled backward.
Xu Yanhuan used his own body to shield Yu Xinqiao from the crowd and escorted him outside.
The place was crowded and chaotic, with cameras everywhere. Sensing Yu Xinqiao’s panic, Xu Yanhuan leaned closer to his ear and said, “Don’t be afraid, I’m here.”
With the help of the security staff, they managed to break free, dispersing the media and specifically instructing them to detain the troublemaker so that he wouldn’t escape.
While the police hadn’t arrived yet, the man struggled and tried to run. Xu Yanhuan, unable to bear it any longer, stepped forward and grabbed the man’s collar, staring at him fiercely. “Didn’t I tell you not to touch him?”
Xu Zhen, who happened to come across Yu Xinqiao’s concert poster, wanted to take a chance and sneak in, but he didn’t expect Xu Yanhuan to be there too.
“I didn’t touch him. I just came out of poverty and wanted to ask him for some money to spend.” Xu Zhen grinned with a swollen face. “My good son, after six years, you’ve grown some skills. You dare to call the police on me. In the past, you would kneel down with a thud when faced with this situation, begging me not to touch him.”
Almost immediately, Xu Yanhuan landed a heavy punch on Xu Zhen’s face.
Xu Zhen fell to the ground, and Xu Yanhuan took two steps forward, pulling him up from the ground. “Didn’t I tell you that if you dare touch him, I’ll kill you!”
Spitting a mouthful of blood on the ground, Xu Zhen, with a swollen face, still smiled. “Will you? Do you dare? If you had acted without hesitation back then, I wouldn’t have lived until today.”
He looked at Yu Xinqiao, who was being pulled away, then turned back and sneered, “Since the moment you chose to put down your knife for him, you no longer have a way to turn back.”
Half an hour later, the police took away the bruised and swollen Xu Zhen.
After finishing the formalities, Yu Xinqiao went to a nearby pharmacy. When he came out after buying things, he saw Xu Yanhuan standing in the twilight of Xuncheng. It reminded Yu Xinqiao of many moments from six years ago when Xu Yanhuan’s figure always appeared so lonely.
Liang Yi called and said that they had already found the organizers to handle the incident. Yu Xinqiao reassured him that everything was fine and there was no need to rush. No one had expected so many media personnel to be present, nor did they expect random people to mix in.
After hanging up the phone, Yu Xinqiao pulled Xu Yanhuan to sit on the plastic chairs outside the nearby supermarket. He took out the iodine from the bag, unscrewed the cap, dipped a cotton swab in the solution, squatted down, held Xu Yanhuan’s right wrist, and carefully applied it to the back of his hand.
It was then that Xu Yanhuan realized that he had a wound over an inch long on his hand, which had already dried up and coagulated.
He had been consumed by anger earlier, striking Xu Zhen relentlessly. If it weren’t for Yu Xinqiao’s desperate attempts to stop him, he and Xu Zhen would likely have been detained together by now.
It was quite ridiculous to think that as a lawyer, he had almost disregarded the law and attempted to solve the problem through violence.
Xu Yanhuan lowered his head and saw Yu Xinqiao’s lowered eyes, his thick eyelashes trembling lightly with his breath.
“That person… just got released from prison?”
Yu Xinqiao thought to himself, no wonder he reminded me every day about safety precautions, always wanting to secure my belt before going out.
“Sorry,” Xu Yanhuan said.
His hand paused, and Yu Xinqiao said, “You have done nothing wrong. Why apologize?”
Xu Yanhuan remained silent for a while. He saw Yu Xinqiao still wearing the concert attire, the white shirt with a slightly loose bowtie around the collar, which made him look clean and radiant, like an elf that had fallen into the mortal realm.
Yu Xinqiao was blessed by the heavens, and his life was supposed to be smooth and filled with flowers and applause.
Instead of answering the question, Xu Yanhuan spoke in a low voice, “You got involved because of me. If it weren’t for me, Xu Zhen wouldn’t have targeted you. So, I have a responsibility to protect you. You don’t need to bear any psychological burden because of this.”
“You’re the one who hasn’t done anything wrong. I’m not that selfless and great. Don’t… listen to his nonsense.”
By the end, Xu Yanhuan’s breath was in disarray.
His usual way of handling things calmly and with ease seemed to have been shattered in the confrontation with Xu Zhen. All his past feelings of powerlessness and embarrassment were exposed in broad daylight. Now he was like an empty shell with leaks everywhere, easily brought down by anyone.
But Yu Xinqiao said, “I have already heard.”
His hand trembled slightly, completely unlike the confident and assertive performer on stage.
Because just now, he learned that even someone as proud as Xu Yanhuan had once broken his own spine to protect him and submit to a scum.
He was still lingering in the shock of that revelation.
“Xu Yanhuan…” His voice also trembled. The moment before Yu Xinqiao looked up, a tear fell onto Xu Yanhuan’s hand.
“You have never hated me, right?”
For eighteen-year-old Yu Xinqiao, the unresolved knot in his heart undoubtedly revolved around the day they had a falling out, and Xu Yanhuan uttered the word “hate.”
That thorn pierced his heart, and the hidden pain that resurfaced in his midnight dreams made it impossible for him to forgive.
He had made excuses for Xu Yanhuan, like saying he was just angry and said foolish things, or that he spoke without thinking and surely regretted it afterward.
But he never expected that Xu Yanhuan intentionally said it to him, wanting him to give up, to keep his distance and go to a warm and safe place.
He had vaguely guessed that Xu Yanhuan’s feelings for him might have started earlier than he imagined, and perhaps they were even deeper.
But he never anticipated that it would carry such a heavy weight.
As tears fell on the back of his hand, passing over the scar on his knuckle, it still felt scorching hot.
Xu Yanhuan reached out to wipe away Yu Xinqiao’s tears and asked him, “Didn’t we agree not to cry anymore?”
“I never promised.” Yu Xinqiao sniffed and choked, “I’m only eighteen. Why can’t I cry?”
With a firm grip, Xu Yanhuan pulled Yu Xinqiao up and embraced him.
Yu Xinqiao buried his head in Xu Yanhuan’s shoulder and cried even more recklessly. “Why didn’t you say it? You made me believe all along that you really hated me.”
Then, he held Xu Yanhuan’s hand, rubbing his fingertip against that scar, and asked, “It was him again, right? Did it hurt a lot at that time?”
“I forgot,” Xu Yanhuan said, “It’s all in the past now. Who cares?”
“I care.” Yu Xinqiao repeated each word slowly and deliberately, afraid that he wouldn’t hear it clearly. “I care.”
This time, Xu Yanhuan didn’t lie. He truly had forgotten.
Later, when he went to the hospital to have his wounds dressed, even when curious classmates asked about it, he said he had forgotten. Gradually, no one paid attention to this old injury. They just assumed he accidentally cut himself and that it shouldn’t be too painful.
But Yu Xinqiao said, “I care.”
He didn’t mind Xu Yanhuan’s battered and wounded state. He wanted to know everything about the past, even if it meant opening Pandora’s box, even if it meant shattering his understanding. He had to know.
Yu Xinqiao reached up and haphazardly wiped his face with his hand. In a hoarse voice, he said, “What exactly happened back then? Tell me, please.”
He freed himself from Xu Yanhuan’s embrace and held his hand. “But not here. It’s windy. Let’s go home first.”
Yu Xinqiao’s serious expression always had a hint of stubbornness, even though his face was covered in tears, and he appeared completely lacking the calm reliability of an adult.
Xu Yanhuan willingly followed him.
Thus, this journey back home felt like a path leading to six years ago.
“Don’t stay here. Come with me, let’s go back to being eighteen, hiding beneath the azalea bushes on campus, so that fate won’t find us.”
The last sentence is a reference to the novel “Xīn Zhōng Yǒu Piàn Hǎi de Rén” by Jian Zhen, with the original line being, “Don’t stay here, come with me, let’s go back to being eighteen, hiding beneath the azalea bushes on campus, so that fate won’t find us.”
Furthermore, without the context of Chapter 31 from the memory section, this chapter might seem confusing and missing information.
TN: What a scum father! No he doesn’t even deserve to be called a father.
Certified member of the IIO(International Introverts Organization), PhD holder in Overthinking and Ghosting, Spokesperson for BOBAH(Benefits of Being a Homebody), Founder of SFA(Salted Fish Association), Brand Ambassador for Couch Potato fall line Pajama set.