Cool Slowly
Cool Slowly: Chapter 3
  1. I regret it.

After a three-hour flight, Yu Yue arrived in A City, and when he got to the hospital, it was already past 1 a.m.

Ms. Jiang Qian had already received emergency treatment, and she was okay.

Yu Jingnian told Yu Yue that Ms. Jiang Qian hadn’t been following the news lately. It was Yu Yue’s aunt who saw the trending pictures of Yu Yue in bed with someone else and called to inform Ms. Jiang Qian. She conveyed the information with a hint of ridicule and sarcasm, causing Ms. Jiang Qian to collapse in anger.

At the hospital room’s entrance, Yu Jingnian patted Yu Yue on the shoulder and said, “I’ve already taken care of that matter for you. We’ve filed the necessary reports and claims; they can’t escape the consequences.”

Yu Yue remained silent.

Yu Jingnian seemed like he wanted to say more, but Yu Yue spoke up first, his voice soft, “I can handle it myself.”


There was a brief silence in the hallway. Yu Jingnian asked, “You want to handle it by yourself? How do you plan to do that? Let the public outrage continue and have the whole world know until it drowns you?”

“Your current approach is no different. You’re making the whole world know as well,” Yu Yue replied. “It’s no different from what I would do.”

Yu Jingnian said, “You…”

His facial muscles twitched, but he suppressed the emotion and continued in a low, hoarse voice, “Don’t act like you’re so capable. I’m your father, don’t I know you well enough? It’s not that you don’t want to handle it, not that you don’t want to sue. It’s just that you lack the ability and the money!” He paused for a moment and then returned to his initial point. “How many times have I said it? What did that poor boy give you? He tricked you into going to a far-off university, tricked you into a same-sex relationship, and even tricked you into living in a tiny, less-than-40-square-meter apartment. Tell me, what has he given you that makes you prefer to cut ties with us rather than break up with him!”

In the past, Yu Yue would have immediately started arguing with Yu Jingnian or Ms. Jiang Qian, refuting that Xu Yuanzhe had given him so much and they didn’t understand. However, this time, Yu Yue didn’t say a word.
His mind seemed to flash through countless movie scenes, remembering the first time he left home to go to a distant northern city for college. Although he had argued with his parents, he was overjoyed to see Xu Yuanzhe. After that, he kept his relationship with Xu Yuanzhe a secret from his parents and had his first love affair. It was with Xu Yuanzhe, and eventually, they moved into that tiny, less-than-40-square-meter apartment together.

During his arguments with his parents, similar thoughts had crossed Yu Yue’s mind, but back then, he had been full of confidence and had walked away after throwing his parents’ bank card.

With the confidence of being loved, Yu Yue was more rebellious and stubborn than anyone else.

But now.

Yu Yue lowered his gaze, took a long pause, and muttered softly, “I don’t know either.”

Yu Jingnian seemed surprised for a moment.

He had become accustomed to arguing with Yu Yue every time this topic came up, particularly with this inexperienced young boy.

But this time, Yu Yue didn’t argue with him.

Yu Jingnian found it somewhat unusual.

After a brief silence, Yu Jingnian raised his hand, placed his palm on Yu Yue’s shoulder, and said, “Think about it again. It’s not too late to turn back now. You’re only twenty years old, and your life hasn’t even truly begun. There’s plenty of room for changes if you leave him.”

After saying that, Yu Jingnian went downstairs to smoke.

Yu Yue pushed open the door to the hospital room to check on his mother, Jiang Qian.

Jiang Qian was still unconscious, so Yu Yue sat by her bedside.

Yu Yue didn’t know what would remain once the passion of love had faded away.

When Xu Yuanzhe pursued Yu Yue, all Yu Yue had thought was, “Let’s give it a try, and I’ll know if I truly like guys, if I can accept it.” Even in the early stages, Yu Yue had been clear-headed enough to realize that Xu Yuanzhe was a good person, but perhaps not the best fit for him. There were many factors contributing to this, and poverty was a significant one.

But Yu Yue didn’t know when he had started liking Xu Yuanzhe more and more. He began to care less about the factors that made them incompatible, thinking that love could compensate for everything. Despite everyone telling him that he and Xu Yuanzhe were incompatible, Yu Yue would say, “Xu Yuanzhe and I are a natural match.”

What about now?

Yu Yue slowly bent over, burying his face in his palms.

It wasn’t that he no longer liked Xu Yuanzhe; it seemed like Xu Yuanzhe was the one having regrets.

By the time Yu Yue realized this, it was too late. He was deeply entangled and couldn’t free himself, but Xu Yuanzhe seemed to be attempting to break away.

Yu Yue spent the night at the hospital. The next morning, as he left and went downstairs, his phone, which he had kept in his pocket, vibrated.

He took out his phone to check and saw a message from Xu Yuanzhe.

Zhe Ge: “Are you okay?”

When Yu Yue saw those three words, his nose suddenly tingled.

He replied to Xu Yuanzhe, “I’m fine, just a bit upset.”

Yu Yue’s response was almost immediate, but Xu Yuanzhe took a long time to reply. It wasn’t that Xu Yuanzhe had left, as Yu Yue noticed that the chat window kept switching between “Zhe Ge” and “The other party is typing,” back to “Zhe Ge.”

Yu Yue stood at the hospital entrance with his head lowered, waiting for a long time.

Finally, Xu Yuanzhe sent a message, “As long as you’re okay.”

Yu Yue didn’t respond further and put his phone back in his pocket.

When he was buying breakfast at a small vendor near the hospital entrance, Yu Yue suddenly felt that he had become accustomed to having these low-priced breakfasts at such stalls. The Yu Yue he remembered, who used to sit at the breakfast table enjoying a table filled with high-end breakfast prepared by the housekeeper, seemed to have disappeared.

The breakfast wasn’t appetizing, and Yu Yue took a few bites before giving up. He had asked his academic advisor for two days off and borrowed his father’s car, saying that he wanted to drive home to pack some things and be with his mother, Jiang Qian.

His father, Yu Jingnian, agreed.

While driving back home, Yu Yue took the wrong road several times. He couldn’t remember when he had become so unfamiliar with the city where he had lived for eighteen years. Every street and road felt almost unrecognizable.

What remained in his memory were moments like walking home hand in hand with Xu Yuanzhe along a dark, narrow alley without streetlights.

Yu Yue had a hard time getting back home but, using his fingerprint, he was able to unlock the door. When he pushed the door open, he was greeted by the lavish yet understated interior design.

His family’s home, covering nearly two hundred square meters, had been his living environment from childhood to adulthood. As he began packing his things in his room, he realized that despite the arguments with his parents, all his belongings remained intact, and they hadn’t thrown everything away.

After finishing packing his closet, Yu Yue noticed some photos on his desk. One of them was from his eighteenth birthday celebration.

The picture showed a smiling Yu Yue wearing a paper crown, surrounded by various celebrities invited by Yu Jingnian. The photo was still dazzling and powerful even when looked at now.

Yu Yue lowered his head and took out his phone to browse through photos taken on his past two birthdays. It was easy to find them because Yu Yue had placed these photos in his most cherished cloud storage folder.

He opened a picture taken from his birthday party six months ago.

Yu Yue looked at himself in the photo, still smiling so happily, even happier than on his eighteenth birthday. He wore the same paper crown, and behind him, Xu Yuanzhe held him in his arms, resting his chin on Yu Yue’s shoulder, cherishing him like a treasure.

In the background of the photo, there was no lavish banquet hall. Instead, it featured a wall of wind chimes and starry lights, personally decorated by Xu Yuanzhe. Despite the accompanying lighting, it still appeared quite simple. Even the cream cake held by Yu Yue seemed a bit plain.

Yet, as Yu Yue gazed at the picture, he felt like crying, which was frightening because he seemed to love this version of himself more – the one who loved Xu Yuanzhe.

If a magic lamp suddenly appeared before him, offering to take him back to his eighteenth birthday or to return to celebrating his birthday with Xu Yuanzhe six months ago, Yu Yue would unhesitatingly choose the latter.

This realization was terrifying.

In comparison to the so-called glamour and wealth, Yu Yue just wanted to return to Xu Yuanzhe’s embrace, sit in his lap, and hear him say, “Baby, look at the camera.”

But Xu Yuanzhe hadn’t called him “Baby” in a long time.

So Yu Yue’s feelings weren’t misplaced.

Xu Yuanzhe had been gradually loosening his grip on Yu Yue’s hand.

After contemplating the photo for a while, Yu Yue put away his phone. He gathered his belongings and prepared to return to the hospital.

However, he got lost once again.

He drove in circles and, for some reason, found himself back at the high school he attended.

Yu Yue paused, parked the car, and gazed at the familiar school gate. After a moment of hesitation, he decided to get out of the car.

Two years wasn’t a long time, but Yu Yue felt as though he was reuniting with a long-lost place.

He strolled along the tree-lined road in front of the school gate until he turned a corner and spotted a barbecue shop.

The shop wasn’t open yet, but everything from the sign to the curtains was exactly the same as before.

Yu Yue stood outside the barbecue shop for a while, took a photo, and sent it to Xu Yuanzhe.

Xu Yuanzhe quickly called him.

Yu Yue was somewhat surprised. He answered the call, and there was a brief silence on the other end, filled with Xu Yuanzhe’s breathing.

Xu Yuanzhe asked, “Why did you go there?”

Yu Yue held his phone, gazing at the photo of the barbecue shop, and told a white lie, “I suddenly felt like reminiscing about the past, so I came here for a walk.”

In reality, he had simply taken a wrong turn.

There was another moment of silence on the phone.

Yu Yue jokingly asked, “What, is this place not where your love story began? Or do you feel that these memories aren’t so great?”

Xu Yuanzhe replied, “Before I met you, it really wasn’t a very pleasant memory.”

Yu Yue didn’t say anything for a moment.

After a while, he held his phone and sat down under the shade of the trees across from the barbecue shop. He sat directly on the ground and said, “I really want to go back to when I was sixteen… No, it’s when I was eighteen.”

It was silent on the other end of the call.

Yu Yue stared at the barbecue shop’s sign, lost in thought.

He wanted to go back to when he was sixteen, back to the day he met Xu Yuanzhe for the first time.

Then what?

If the sixteen-year-old Yu Yue at that time knew that he would come to love Xu Yuanzhe so much, that they would be together and experience so much happiness and pain, along with some inexplicable regrets, how would the sixteen-year-old Yu Yue choose?

But life doesn’t entertain “what if” scenarios.

All the thinking now wouldn’t change anything for Yu Yue.

The sound of Xu Yuanzhe’s breathing came from the other end of the phone, faint yet distinct.

After a long, long time, Xu Yuanzhe uttered three words, “I do too.”

Yu Yue held his knees, buried his face in his knees, and his voice was tinged with a smile. “You also want to go back to that time? If you were to go back to when you were eighteen, what would you do?”

Xu Yuanzhe remained silent.

Yu Yue lowered his head, and his eyelashes began to quiver. Tears threatened to fall uncontrollably. He blinked hard, trying to hold back the tears. Then, he jokingly asked Xu Yuanzhe, “What would you do? If you could go back to when you were eighteen, would you stop liking me and stop pursuing me?”

Only the sound of their breathing remained on the phone.

Finally, Xu Yuanzhe spoke.

He said, “I don’t know.”

Yu Yue hung up the phone.

A few seconds later, Xu Yuanzhe called again.

Yu Yue looked at the blinking words “Zhe Ge” on his phone, and tears streamed down his face. He didn’t know if his eighteen-year-old self would mock him for getting involved in this situation, given that he had originally just wanted to “give it a try.”

Yu Yue didn’t know.

He didn’t answer Xu Yuanzhe’s call the first two times.

On the third try, Yu Yue finally answered.

On the other end of the phone, Xu Yuanzhe called him something he hadn’t said in a long time, “Baby…”

Yu Yue said, “I regret it, Zhe Ge.”

There was an instant silence on the phone.

Yu Yue closed his eyes, gently pressed his burning eye sockets with his hand, and said with a smile, “Let’s break up.”


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.

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