Chapter 19: “I Wish I Could Go Back in Time and Buy You Sugar-Coated Hawberries”
The main headquarters of the major brand was located in Hangzhou, a great place with numerous 5A scenic spots. After work, the client took us to visit several popular attractions around the city.
The most famous of them was West Lake. I had visited it once with my parents when I was in elementary school. However, my memory of the place wasn’t about how beautiful the scenery was or how pleasant the climate was, but rather my insistence on having sugar-coated hawberries. My mom refused to buy them for me no matter how much I whined.
I sat down on the ground and burst into tears, using the tactic that children are best at – throwing a tantrum.
My parents walked away, exasperated. They even said they were going to leave me there. I was so scared that I quickly caught up, burying myself in my father’s arms, begging him not to abandon me.
When I mentioned this to my colleagues, they all burst into laughter and asked why my mom didn’t buy me the hawberries.
I couldn’t remember the reason. Maybe it was because they were expensive, or maybe she thought they weren’t clean.
But only Dr. Wei, after hearing the story, sighed infinitely and said, “I wish I could go back in time and buy you sugar-coated hawberries.”
My heart instantly melted into a soft cotton ball.
The client company was generous when it came to treating us to meals, and the accommodations were arranged thoughtfully and comfortably. We definitely couldn’t behave poorly. The design team voluntarily put in extra hours, and the project progressed much faster than I expected. The boss said we would definitely be back within two weeks.
On the weekend, when I checked the calendar, I realized that Dr. Wei’s birthday was approaching.
I asked my colleagues in the department what gift to give, and they unanimously suggested that I buy a bow tie and wear it around my neck.
They were all quite mischievous.
Only Wang Xiaoxiao was reliable. She told me there was an art gallery near the hotel where I could learn pottery, make handcrafted wallets, and do thread painting – all interesting gift options.
Xiaoxiao was the same age as me and had been dating her boyfriend for nearly a year. However, her boyfriend was a firefighter who worked out of town, so they rarely saw each other, and they were still in the honeymoon phase.
I booked a pottery class on a group-buying app, and she signed up for a handcrafting class. We spent a few hours each making our gifts. She could take hers with her, but mine needed to be fired and glazed. The teacher told me to come back and collect it the next evening.
Leaving the art gallery, Xiaoxiao showed off her handcrafted wallet. This girl was skilled and patient. Each stitch in the card slots was extremely delicate.
“Your craftsmanship could be sold in stores.”
Xiaoxiao smirked and carefully placed the wallet back in her bag.
“I envy you. You’ll be with your boyfriend when you return. My boyfriend only goes home once a year.”
“Long-distance relationships are tough. Didn’t you visit him during the National Day holiday?”
“No, my mom wasn’t feeling well those days, so I stayed home with her. My boyfriend was on duty for the National Day holiday and couldn’t come.”
Comparatively, Dr. Wei and I were much luckier.
“Do you live with your boyfriend now?” Wang Xiaoxiao asked.
“Yeah, his place is close to the company. I can sleep in a bit longer every day.”
An impish smile appeared on Wang Xiaoxiao’s face, “No wonder he gave you Liuwei Dihuang Wan last time. Been staying up late too much, huh?”
“You’re overthinking it. We weren’t living together back then.”
“How are you doing now?”
I blushed a bit, “What kind of question is that?”
“Just concerned about you. Even if you’re young, you shouldn’t be too reckless.”
“We haven’t…” I wanted to say we hadn’t been reckless yet, but I thought better of it and held back. Discussing this with a young girl wouldn’t be appropriate.
Wang Xiaoxiao, however, delved deeper, “Still haven’t done anything? Haven’t slept together?”
I tactfully replied, “We have slept together, but Dr. Wei is a respectable person; he wouldn’t do anything inappropriate.”
“Really…” Wang Xiaoxiao looked utterly incredulous, “That’s not how it’s written in novels.”
“Stop reading those BL stories. Things like seven times in one night are all fake. Same-sex relationships can also be pure and platonic. Kissing and hugging are nice too.”
“Is that so?”
I also desired Dr. Wei’s body, but he never initiated anything. I couldn’t just stick my butt out and ask for it.
The day I returned was a Saturday, which happened to be Dr. Wei’s birthday. He arrived at the train station half an hour early, waiting for me at the exit.
He was tall, well-dressed, and he liked to style his hair by pushing it back slightly. I could recognize his silhouette with just one glance.
Unlike the crowd around him, he rarely lowered his head to play with his phone. From a distance, he stood tall like a pine tree.
As I got closer, I noticed he had slightly shorter hair. The hair behind his ears was only about the length of half a fingernail, and I couldn’t resist reaching out to touch it. It felt a bit prickly.
He unscrupulously pinched my butt.
“Seems like you’ve gained a little weight.”
“Maybe I haven’t been exercising much lately.”
“Eating late-night snacks, huh?”
“No… I’ve been very well-behaved.”
“Is that so?” Dr. Wei pinched me again.
“Can you just talk without pinching me all the time?”
“Good.” He switched to patting, “It feels really good. You should eat more.”
“Hehe, it feels comfortable, right? Can I have late-night snacks at home from now on?”
“Hmph, so you did have late-night snacks.”
“…………” It suddenly dawned on me, “You would’ve been great at criminal investigation.”
As soon as I got on the train, I couldn’t wait to dig out the gift from my bag and hand it to Dr. Wei.
“Is this the return favor you brought for me?”
“It’s a birthday gift!”
Dr. Wei blinked for a moment before realizing, “Oh, right, today is my birthday.”
“Don’t you usually celebrate your birthday? You even forgot about it.”
“In the past, I used to celebrate according to the lunar calendar. My parents would give me a symbolic red envelope as a blessing. My lunar birthday for this year has already passed.”
“No worries, I’ll celebrate it with you again, hehe.”
The way Dr. Wei unpacked the gift, the surprise in the corners of his eyes and brows, all resembled that of a child.
Seeing the smile gradually forming at the corner of his mouth, I felt that everything was worth it. An unprecedented sense of satisfaction and joy filled my heart.
“Did you make this?”
“Of course. Where else could I buy something so ugly…”
Dr. Wei burst into laughter and continued to play with the two little cups in his hands. He held them in his palm, turning them around and around, even inspecting the bottoms of the cups.
I had made two coffee mugs. At first, I intended to draw a Shiba Inu and a Samoyed on them, which corresponded to our keychains. However, I realized I had overestimated my drawing skills.
They turned out too ugly, so I started over and ended up writing a “7” and a “Nan” on them.
My handwriting wasn’t pretty either; I used to lose handwriting marks at school. You can imagine how ugly the cups looked.
However, Dr. Wei didn’t mind. He held the little cups in his hands and said with a beaming smile, “I’ll use these for drinking water from now on.”
When we left the train station, it was already quite late.
Dr. Wei said, “Let’s go to the market to get some cooked dishes and I’ll prepare some fish soup. How about having noodles for dinner?”
“Sure, is it stir-fried noodles?”
Dr. Wei glanced at me, “Yes, stir-fried noodles.”
The reason I was so excited was that I had eaten stir-fried noodles at Dr. Wei’s place once. It had shrimp, eggs, bacon, and some secret ingredients. It was incredibly delicious and unforgettable. However, Dr. Wei had said that stir-fried noodles were too oily and unhealthy, so they could only be eaten occasionally.
When we entered the market, it was the peak of rush hour, and there were many people. Dr. Wei held my hand and led me straight to the fresh food section, where we stopped at a seafood stall.
He ordered half a pound of shrimp and a black fish. The shopkeeper deftly weighed and took the money, cleaned the fish, and even gave us a small piece of ginger and a few green onions.
The lady boss was quite young, maybe around thirty-five or six. I leaned close to Dr. Wei’s ear and whispered, “The guy who just left didn’t get any extra stuff from the shopkeeper. Do you think she has a secret crush on you?”
Dr. Wei smiled and didn’t say anything, slipping my hand into his pocket.
I turned my head to glance at the shopkeeper; her smile was faint, and I couldn’t discern anything unusual.
“Dr. Wei,” I pinched Wei Nanlin’s fingertips.
“How did you realize you liked boys?”
“When facing women, there’s an issue with *that* rising, how about you?”
I didn’t know how he managed to say “issue with *that* rising” in the midst of the bustling market, but my face instantly turned red. I wished I could find a hole to hide in. After we passed through the crowd, I weakly replied, “Me too.”
We hadn’t discussed sexual orientation before. I used to speculate that he might be bisexual, explaining his coldness in bed. Today’s question dispelled those concerns.
Business trips were truly exhausting. After getting home, I didn’t want to move at all; I just wanted to collapse on the couch. I suspected that Dr. Wei hadn’t watched much TV while I was away. The half-eaten pack of walnuts on the coffee table was untouched, and the water in the vase was nearly gone.
“Dr. Wei, your money tree plant is dying,” I shouted.
Dr. Wei also shouted from the kitchen, “Then come over and water it.”
“I don’t feel like moving right now.”
Dr. Wei said, “You come here first; I have something nice to give you.”
“Using this tactic again, trying to trick a child.”
“Hurry up, come over first.”
The standoff lasted for five minutes, but my curiosity got the better of me. I got up and walked into the kitchen.
Dr. Wei nodded toward the fridge, “It’s on the bottom shelf in the freshness compartment.”
I exclaimed in delight, “There really is a gift?”
Dr. Wei smiled and continued to cook noodles, “When have I ever lied to you?”
It was cold, and the fridge wasn’t stocked with much. At a glance, I saw two skewers of candied hawthorn berries and strawberries wrapped in the freshness bag on the central shelf. The golden syrup drizzled just right.