“*I was willing.”
Because of those five words, Yu Xinqiao could hardly taste the food during the meal. His mind was filled with nothing but confusion.
TN: 我是愿意的。The five words
On the way back after finishing the meal, he finally remembered to ask, “So why didn’t I choose you as my private lawyer when I went to your law firm?”
With his career focus just shifting to the domestic scene, he couldn’t simply apply the same methods he used abroad. He needed to adapt and make some changes to fit the local context. Therefore, finding a domestic lawyer to act as a representative, responsible for answering legal questions, assessing consequences and risks, became crucial.
“I specialize in criminal law,” Xu Yanhuan replied, “and I haven’t been in the field for long, so my experience is not enough.”
—Then how much is your salary? Is it enough to cover the mortgage?
Asking such a question was impolite, so Yu Xinqiao held himself back.
He took out his phone and opened the lawyer information sent by Liang Yi.
The surname was Xing, 35 years old, with ten years of experience. The exceptional business capabilities could be seen from the *surname and hairline.
TN: Not sure about this but i think it’s because the character “邢” is composed of the radical “邑” (yì), which represents a city or village, and the phonetic component “行” (xíng). And “行” means profession. He also probably has a receding hairline from working too hard and under pressure💀.
But do these law firms really not provide opportunities for newbies to gain experience? Yu Xinqiao began to ponder. The client was his old classmate, which meant he brought the business in, right?
Or at least, they should give him some profit sharing, shouldn’t they?
He would have to ask Lawyer Xing about it later.
After dropping off Yu Xinqiao at home, Xu Yanhuan went back to the law firm.
Realizing that he hurried back just to have lunch together, Yu Xinqiao felt a subtle and indescribable sensation.
While feeding the hedgehog, he asked the only other informed being in the world, apart from the Yu Xinqiao with amnesia and the Xu Yanhuan who wouldn’t speak, “*Baobei, can you tell me how we got along after we got married?”
TN: Baby, treasured object, darling
He learned from yesterday’s lesson of asking too many unanswerable questions at once, so this time he only asked one.
However, the hedgehog didn’t buy it. It looked at Yu Xinqiao in silence, sniffing around with its nose.
Picking up a breadworm and waving it in front of the hedgehog, Yu Xinqiao resorted to coercion and temptation, “Answer me, and I’ll give you something delicious.”
The hedgehog approached but didn’t get anything to eat. Its spines stood up, emitting a dissatisfied wheezing sound.
Helplessly, Yu Xinqiao brought the breadworm to its mouth, watching it nibble on the food. He thought to himself that the name “hedgehog” was not misplaced; they were just as difficult to handle as Xu Yanhuan.
In the afternoon, Yu Xinqiao practiced the piano in the study. During his break, he went online to catch up on major events that had occurred in the past few years.
The comprehensive implementation of the two-child policy, depreciation of the Chinese yuan, the US presidential election, the Women’s Volleyball World Cup champions, the upcoming Winter Olympics in the capital… Yu Xinqiao didn’t remember any of these events.
As he clicked on his social media feed, he found very little information. There were few traces left by Yu Xinqiao over the past six years. During his study abroad, he had only posted a few photos of the school’s buildings and pigeons on the square. The most recent update was from four months ago, featuring a hedgehog smaller than the current one, curled up in the corner of a temperature-controlled box with the caption “New Member.”
What kind of emotions did Yu Xinqiao have when he posted that update? Was he happy about the addition of a new family member, or did he feel lonely by only being able to accompany animals?
Eighteen-year-old Yu Xinqiao had no idea.
During the sunset hour, while watching the news channel, Yu Xinqiao felt dizzy and sleepy. He lay down on the sofa and closed his eyes for a short nap.
In that brief moment, he had a dream.
The sky was black, devoid of stars and the moon. Next to an old and dusty street lamp stood a slightly tilted electric pole. In the dream, he counted the hidden wires in the darkness, trying to piece together a musical staff, while stealing glances at the person beside him with his peripheral vision.
That person was tall, and their shadow stretched long on the uneven muddy ground, appearing particularly lonely.
It made people want to approach them, to hold them and find warmth.
When he opened his eyes, he saw a figure with its back turned, almost overlapping with the shadow from his dream.
Yu Xinqiao blinked slowly, and when that figure turned around, he was momentarily stunned. “Did I wake you up?” Xu Yanhuan asked.
The facial features that were invisible in the dream filled in, and the memories that had actually happened became tangible.
Unfortunately, those memories were from before the age of eighteen.
Xu Yanhuan held the remote control in his hand, having just turned off the TV. Faced with Yu Xinqiao, who had just awakened and was looking straight into his eyes, he also felt somewhat awkward for a moment.
Fortunately, Yu Xinqiao quickly regained his senses. He shook his head, sat up straight on the sofa, and said, “I accidentally fell asleep.”
I dreamt of you at the age of eighteen.
After washing his face in the bathroom and coming out, he saw the piled-up plastic bags on the dining table. Yu Xinqiao walked over and asked, “Shall we eat out for dinner?”
He assumed that two grown men rarely cooked at home, and eating out was the norm.
Xu Yanhuan was putting the groceries he bought into the refrigerator. He paused at the question and turned around, saying, “Is it not good?”
Yu Xinqiao didn’t understand. “What?”
“The food I made,” Xu Yanhuan repeated. “Is it not good?”
It was such an ordinary question, but when it came from Xu Yanhuan’s mouth, it felt eerie.
And if someone else had asked, it would usually imply a sense of grievance, right?
How could Xu Yanhuan feel wronged? That was too bizarre.
Suppressing his terrifying speculation, Yu Xinqiao tried to answer objectively, “It’s quite delicious.”
Forty-five minutes later, dinner was ready.
It was the same simple meal as yesterday, with two dishes and a soup. No spiciness, no vegetables like carrots or onions that Yu Xinqiao didn’t like.
It was not advisable to eat in silence, so Yu Xinqiao found things to ask Xu Yanhuan while eating. He asked how Xu Yanhuan knew how to cook, and Xu Yanhuan replied, “I used to cook before.”
In his heart, Yu Xinqiao thought, I know. You used to bring your own lunch to school frequently. But you never let me taste a single bite.
Perhaps realizing that Yu Xinqiao was asking about the present, Xu Yanhuan added, “When I’m not busy, I cook. If I’m busy, we eat out.”
He was referring to their life after marriage. It was similar to what Yu Xinqiao had in mind. Lawyers were busy, and so were musicians. In the afternoon, Yu Xinqiao visited the official website of an airline and realized that he had been flying everywhere after returning to China. He spent at least half of each month away from home. They rarely had the chance to sit down and have a meal together like this.
Finding a reasonable explanation for this seemingly taken-for-granted warm atmosphere, Yu Xinqiao secretly breathed a sigh of relief.
As the sky darkened, a seemingly calm day was coming to an end.
Yu Xinqiao held the medicine and gauze he brought back from the hospital and entered the bathroom.
Just as he tore open the bandage, footsteps approached from afar and the slightly ajar door was pushed open.
Yu Xinqiao was frowning at the slightly fierce looking wound in the mirror and didn’t have time to pay attention to the person who entered. “I’m not done yet. You use the other restroom.”
After a brief silence, the person standing at the door walked straight in.
“I’ll help you change the dressing,” Xu Yanhuan said.
Perhaps Xu Yanhuan’s assertive attitude was too natural, or maybe Yu Xinqiao subconsciously didn’t want to look at the ugly wound. In any case, he handed the gauze over to Xu Yanhuan.
Fortunately, it was widely known that Yu Xinqiao was afraid of pain.
Even so, Xu Yanhuan seemed a bit overly cautious.
Yu Xinqiao and he stood face to face, and at eye level, he could see the second button of his shirt collar undone, the Adam’s apple rising and falling with deliberately light breaths, and if he tilted his head slightly, he could see the tense jawline.
The movements were as light as a feather floating down, barely feeling any pain, just a slight itch that couldn’t be scratched.
Yu Xinqiao admired himself. At a time like this, he could still divert his attention to look at Xu Yanhuan’s fingers, long and beautiful as before, except for a dark scar on the knuckle, like a flaw on flawless jade.
After considering it, Yu Xinqiao thought it should be okay to ask, so he spoke up, “Your hand…”
“I accidentally cut it while chopping vegetables.”
Xu Yanhuan answered bluntly, as if he had anticipated the question.
Yu Xinqiao didn’t pursue further, but like a professional habit, he glanced a few times at that scar.
How could there be a knife in this world that could bear to cut his hand?
The early spring night was both quiet and noisy.
Yu Xinqiao leaned against the head of the bed with a music score on his knees. Sometimes he tapped the fingerings and hummed a few bars.
He wanted to return to work as soon as possible. Perhaps being busy and using his time practically would help with his memory recovery.
Turning the page, a knocking sound came, three knocks neither light nor heavy, reminding Yu Xinqiao of the frequency of tapping on the window glass in that spring of Xuncheng.
This time the door was firmly closed. With permission from the person inside, Xu Yanhuan turned the doorknob.
He had just taken a shower and was wearing a robe. In the well-heated room, he didn’t appear cold. It was Yu Xinqiao who, recalling the awkward moment when he changed clothes in the afternoon, put down the music score and casually pulled the blanket cover up a bit.
Xu Yanhuan first went to the master bedroom’s walk-in closet and soon came out with a set of pajamas. Passing by the humidifier placed against the wall, he casually turned it on.
Yu Xinqiao remembered that there was an identical fog-free humidifier in the study. The autumn and winter in the capital and its surrounding areas were dry, and during the only winter he spent in Xuncheng, he had a nosebleed twice.
Thinking that Xu Yanhuan would leave after getting the things, he was surprised when Xu Yanhuan paused and walked straight toward the bed.
Without exaggeration, Yu Xinqiao’s heart rate suddenly accelerated, and he almost panicked, trying to create distance.
But Xu Yanhuan still approached the bed, bending over with one hand resting on the edge of the bed, leaning his upper body closer.
Close enough for Yu Xinqiao to smell the scent of shower gel on him, the same as on himself.
But not entirely the same. Xu Yanhuan had a unique aura. Initially, when they first met, it gave people a sense of icy distance. Later, they realized it wasn’t entirely cold, just exceptionally sharp. To get closer, to absorb that bit of warmth, one had to be mentally prepared to be hurt all over.
This time was another misjudgment.
Xu Yanhuan reached under the pillow and pulled out a book. Yu Xinqiao glanced at it, “Chinese Law and Chinese Society.”
It was the kind of book title Yu Xinqiao would never open, even if it appeared to be bedtime reading material.
Filtering out the key points, before Yu Xinqiao could fully process it, Xu Yanhuan stepped back with the book in his hand.
He didn’t leave immediately but looked at the person lying tensely on the bed. “Sorry, I forgot again.”
Yu Xinqiao wondered, Forgot? Forgot what? Wasn’t it just me who forgot?
Not only did I forget, but I also went crazy. When I changed clothes, I thought you were interested in my body. When you touched the back of my hand, I thought you wanted to hold my hand.
You said you were willing, so I tried everything to prove that you really meant it, that you weren’t forced into it.
I’ve become even more sentimental than when I was eighteen. I don’t remember anything, yet I’m genuinely delighted because I’m married to you, living in the same home with you.
Yu Xinqiao, who had been experiencing confusion and shock since his memory loss two days ago, finally felt a different emotion beyond confusion and shock. His nose tingled, accompanied by the suppressed panic, and an unprecedented sense of desolation—all transformed into a feeling of grievance
Why did it have to be me? Why did I only lose these six years of memories? It would be better to forget everything, forget who I am, forget all the foolish things I’ve done, and start from scratch. Maybe then I wouldn’t be in such a miserable state.
But it was his own misfortune, and he couldn’t blame Xu Yanhuan for it. So Yu Xinqiao turned his face away, using the most clumsy method to escape.
Suddenly, he heard a soft sigh, followed by a large palm gently resting on his head.
Compared to the complete loss of memory, Yu Xinqiao always managed to remember some useless details. For example, how beautiful Xu Yanhuan’s hands were, and how warm his palm felt, completely contrasting with his own temperament.
Another example was the last day in his memory. If Xu Yanhuan had been a little gentler with him, just a little bit, he would disregard everything and catch up to tell him that the things he said earlier weren’t from the heart.
He thought that all the possibilities between him and Xu Yanhuan had been completely extinguished that night. And everything that happened in these past two days was a possibility that the withered Yu Xinqiao at eighteen had never imagined.
And it seemed that Xu Yanhuan had also realized this, repeatedly restraining his subconscious boundary-crossing actions.
“Sorry,” he lightly rubbed Yu Xinqiao’s hair, his voice carrying a hint of helpless hoarseness, “I keep forgetting that you’re only eighteen years old now.”