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There was bleakness in every direction. Bloody light shone red off the half-rampart of the endless sky. The wind blew grass to bend, corpses of broken arrows now strewn everywhere. Enveloped by a blood-reeking gale, he lightly swept past the vast grassland outside the Wall, arriving at that man’s side.
The other had the shaft of an armor-piercing arrow stuck in his chest, its head deeply embedded into his heart, and fresh blood dyed the snow-white collar under his armor red. Only the feeble rise and fall of his chest remained; it was clear that he didn’t have long to live.
His face was hidden beneath the helmet and bloodstains. Due to already being past forty years of age, as well as being on the frontier all year round, his face had long since become windworn, the splendor of stars tinting his temples. Even so, the appearance he’d had during his prime could still be discerned from the deep, distinct outline of his features.
He knelt at the man’s side, thinking to reach out and wipe the stains off his face, but his hand was like empty air, gently and easily passing through him — only then did he remember that he had long been an otherworldly spirit, dead for an unknown amount of time.
The gravely-wounded, near-death man had apparently felt that to some extent, as he slightly opened his eyes. Reflected into them was the seemingly blood-tainted sky, which held an almost transparent shadow.
Upon seeing him, the man startled as if he didn’t dare to believe it, following which he then eased up, the edges of his lips even pulling into what could be described as a gentle curve. “I finally got to see you again…” he murmured.
“Can you…” Slackened pupils staring at the ghost-like man, his voice was extremely soft, and in a near-mumble. “…still recognize me?”
The other didn’t know what he ought to say, so he lifted his hand to gently ‘touch’ the side of his face.
It was clearly a figment of his imagination, yet an ice-cold draft seemed to brush over his temple. He raised up his own hand with strenuous effort, vainly grasping the false image suspended in the air as if he were holding onto the final thread of obsession he’d have in his life. “A separation of seven years… I’m sorry, Zhongyan, to have made you wait so long.”
Shaking his head, the ghost opened his mouth to speak, but no voice came out. It molded the words: “Don’t die.”
The man smiled, though the light in his eyes was gradually fading. “I wasn’t able to defend you, nor was I able to defend North Xinjiang. I’ve drifted along through life and dying won’t be a shame. When we meet each other at the springs below, don’t despise me for being useless. I won’t be playing the part of a royal descendant in the future, so I’ll focus on loving you alone… okay?”
Dark clouds came from the distant horizon to sweep across everything. Beads of rain fell through his insubstantial, see-through body, falling upon the other man’s face. Like a handful of freezing tears, it washed the bloodstains and the dust of travel off of its surface.
That hand lost its strength, plummeting through the air to land gently next to his form.
“Don’t die…” He heard his own hoarse voice squeeze out from his throat, at last. “Don’t die, Ah-Feng…”
“Is he awake?” Someone stood up at the side, shouting. “Call the doctor over!”
Fu Tingxin was hauled back to the human world via sharp pain, lifting his eyelids with difficulty. Snow-white walls and lights, the faint odor of disinfectant, as well as the disordered voices of people speedily engulfed his five senses. Having suddenly tumbled from the middle of dreamland to the mundane world, he immediately wished that he would pass back out because of the ruckus.
He blinked, rapidly adapting to the lighting and scenery that was currently in his field of view, as his body began to get feeling in it all over. He attempted to bend his forefinger, gradually retrieving control over his body, and simultaneously began to attentively observe the people and environs surrounding him — all of that happened so naturally and methodically, it was like a type of instinct that had been refined over many instances, inscribed into his bones.
The next moment, a tall young man pushed open the door and came into the sickroom with large strides, a doctor and a nurse smoothly jogging after him. Fu Tingxin heard the movements and quickly lifted his eyes, bumping into his line of sight without warning.
Although he was much younger, it was absolutely unmistakable; that was the visage that had only ever appeared in his dreams before.
The fantasy-like sound of pattering rain echoed in his ears again, and the pain and despair that followed it was so real, it was like water out of a burst dam; there was instantly no end to it, drowning Fu Tingxin until he practically forgot how to breathe. His emotions violently fluctuated, the world spinning before his eyes. The monitoring apparatus at the headboard immediately produced a dinging alert. The man, who was previously pinned in place by that look of his, now had his soul called back to him from the noise. With no time to carefully reflect on his lack of manners just then, he busily rushed to the front of the hospital bed. “Why…”
His words hadn’t yet been said when Fu Tingxin abruptly raised his head that was overflowing with cold sweat, grabbing his hand.
The end of the IV needle was yanked out, flying off along with the plaster and bringing out a minute line of blood along with it. It was like plum blossom petals were dropping onto the snow-white bedding. Even so, Fu Tingxin seemed to not sense any pain, firmly grasping his hand with blue veins bulging out of the back of his own. Blood flowed onto his cuff, but he still unyieldingly tried to sit up from the bed. “Ah-Feng…”
“Hold him down!” The doctor said urgently. “Don’t let him move around!”
The man looked tall and of slight build, but he was quite strong. Upon hearing the Doctor’s words, he efficiently pushed Fu Tingxin back onto the bed — only, his actions weren’t at all gentle. When he leaned over close to him, Fu Tingxin saw through his glasses that his eyes were covered in veins, his gaze filled with anger, and it was exactly like he was pressing down on his shoulder with immense force, to the point where it seemed unreasonably malicious.
“Who are you calling for?” he asked quietly, through gritted teeth.
Fu Tingxin was struck dumb by his question.
It wasn’t clear whether it was from anger or not, but the man’s voice was, surprisingly, minutely trembling, and Fu Tingxin ineffably felt that he was going to start crying in a second.
“Who’s ‘Ah-Feng’? Do you know that you nearly died, yet you’re keeping them on your mind?!”
Following the complete mess of busyness, peace and quiet resumed in the hospital room.
Fu Tingxin laid ramrod-straight on top of the bed, an IV drip stuck into his hand, a bandage tied over his head, and his leg in a plaster cast. Miserable-looking, he defiantly turned his head to peer at the figure who was standing in front of the window with his back to him. “Don’t stand on punishment there,” he huffed, “are you still mad? I’ve already got amnesia…”
“You–” The man’s anger rose, but once he turned towards him with his faux-smiling eyes, his puffed-up fur flattened back down, and he hesitated for a long time before he spoke. “…I’m not mad.”
“Mmmm-hm. Not mad,” Fu Tingxin replied. “Aren’t you tired from standing, then? Sit down, rest for a bit, drink some water. Don’t be polite.”
Fu Tingxin had been unluckily injured in an explosion, getting knocked into a cerebral concussion, and was unconscious for three days before he woke up. During the examination just now, the doctor discovered that an obstruction had emerged in his memory, and he was wholly unable to recall things that had happened in the past, nor could he recall his friends and family, including his own identity; this was also known as ‘amnesia’.
However, what was vastly different from ordinary people was that he claimed that he’d had a dream while comatose. In it, he was a general named Fu Tingxin, and after dying in battle, he dithered around the grasslands outside of the Great Wall for seven years. Later on, another war occurred on those grasslands, and the country he was affiliated to lost. The leading army’s Head Commander — in other words, the ‘Ah-Feng’ that had left his mouth — was shot in the chest by the enemy forces, and while he was dying, he saw Fu Tingxin.
“The one I saw in the dream was the Emperor’s third son, granted the title of ‘Prince of Su’; surname Sun, taboo name Luo. When his Mother Consort was carrying him, she had a dream that a Bodhisattva fastened a beaded necklace around her neck, so his name was taken from that. In order to seek the Bodhisattva’s blessing, she then gave him the pet name ‘Ah-Feng’.” Fu Tingxin stared at him. “My… friend, what’s your esteemed name?” he asked.
Sun Luo: “……”
[T/N: 璎珞 = beaded necklace, yingluo. One of the meanings for the ‘奉’ in Ah-Feng is ‘belief’.]
“Sun Luo. From a beaded necklace’s ‘Luo’.” He coughed drily, then added something on in a way that definitely wasn’t hiding anything: “I don’t have a nickname.”
“If you don’t, then you don’t. You pinch hard.” Fu Tingxin recalled the final words of the man in the dream, and he put on a skin-deep smile. “Seeing how anxious you look, I’m wondering if you were under the impression that I put a green hat on you…”
Sun Luo really wanted to run up and cover his mouth. “You have amnesia, why do you still talk so much?!”
Fu Tingxin had nothing to do and found it fun to tease him, but as he had just woken up, his vigor was lacking. Just a few words had drained his three energies, and he was fighting his eyelids as he spoke on and on, his voice also weakening. “Go sit. I’m going to sleep for a while first.”
“Mn.” Sun Luo went to shut the sickroom door, then sat on a chair next to the bed and pulled his blanket up for him. “Goodnight. I’ll watch the drip for you.”
The majority of Fu Tingxin’s consciousness had since sunken into a muddle, but, somehow, he suddenly softly and unclearly spoke from within his haze of sleep. “Don’t leave.”
As if a heavy hammer had pounded on a certain space in his heart, Sun Luo stared at his sallow, sound-asleep countenance, and only after a very long period of muteness did he answer him.
“I won’t.” He lowered his head and lightly kissed the blue-suffused pinprick on Fu Tingxin’s right hand, voice a serious whisper. “From now on, I’ll never leave again.”
Fu Tingxin slept for a good several days, irrespective of day and night, with Sun Luo accompanying his side the whole time. Whenever he was awake, the man would explain the backdrop of the Fu family’s household and the past history between them to him, taking full advantage of when he was resting to handle his own work. There were very many days of inseparable, diligent attendance, and Fu Tingxin wasn’t stupid; in the lifetime spent within the dream, he and ‘His Highness the Prince of Su’ were a married couple in all but name. He was very clear on how Sun Luo acted when he liked someone.
So tender and considerate, undertaking a thankless task. He absolutely had a secret crush on him. There was no escaping it.
According to Sun Luo’s statements, the Sun and Fu families were old friends, the former involved in government and the latter in military. They had grown up as one unit since they were young, and were close enough to be a model example of childhood friends that practically wore the same pair of pants, bound by deep affection from kindergarten to senior high. After graduating, Sun Luo passed the exam to get into the peak domestic college, and Fu Tingxin applied to enlist for participation in the army.
The Sun family was large, with fierce struggle between internal factions; Sun Luo didn’t plan on getting into politics, instead walking the path of commerce. He started up his own enterprise while in college, and following graduation, his company was merged into his uncle’s Taihe Group while he himself became a board member. Fu Tingxin was expressly selected after three years of enlistment, and joined a certain special kind of unit in the Northwestern military district.
A few days back, a sudden dangerous situation broke out during a mission abroad that was carried out confidentially, and Fu Tingxin was involved in a detonation, sustained serious injuries, and fell into a coma, getting rushed back to the country for treatment. Sun Luo right about went mad when he learned the news from home and flung the work he held away to hurry to the Northwest overnight. Worried that the quality of medical care there was inadequate, he used their relationship to get the other transferred back to the capital’s military hospital. However long Fu Tingxin was unconscious was thus however long he himself kept watch at the hospital.
What he hadn’t expected was that Fu Tingxin would return to the human realm by the skin of his teeth, yet had forgotten him.
It couldn’t be called forgetting, really. He recognized Sun Luo’s face and called him by name, but Sun Luo never had the nickname ‘Ah-Feng’. His reaction when Fu Tingxin was disoriented ended up leaving a bad feeling in his heart; the concern a dream-person could receive wasn’t at all applicable to him as an outside entity.
Those green years permeated with naïveté were all snatched away, leaving only two adults with faces worn from life looking at each other wordlessly, distantly, across a large blank expanse.
That very evening, two special visitors came to the hospital.
Sun Luo went out to take a phone call, then waited at the elevator entrance for a while. Not long after, he saw a little bean that wasn’t even as tall as his leg leap out of the lift. “Uncle Sun!” he shouted affectionately.
“Hey.” Sun Luo bent over and hugged him, weighing him as he gathered him up in his arms, and revealed the rare trace of a smile. “You’ve gotten bigger and heavier than before.”
He then looked down at the child who came out from behind him, who he really hadn’t expected would come. Their two gazes met, and the kid very calmly greeted him. “Third Uncle.”
As an elder, Sun Luo couldn’t hang his suspicion up on his face, so he nodded at him. “I’ll bring the kids over,” he said to the chauffeur that had come up behind them.
The chauffeur was an elder of the Fu family, so he naturally recognized Sun Luo. He smiled reservedly at him and conscientiously went to the hallway to wait. Sun Luo, carrying one and leading the other, returned to the sickroom. Fu Tingxin was leaning against the headboard and turning a Rubik’s cube around, messing with it so rapid-fire that his hands nearly revolved into afterimages. As soon as the little bean Sun Luo carried saw him, he immediately wriggled to be let down and called out crisply to him. “Second Uncle!”
“Oh, who’s this?” Fu Tingxin set the cube down, chuckling as he spread his arms out to hug him. Sun Luo gently placed the child next to him and warned, “Be careful. Don’t bump his injuries.”
“Uncle, my dad said you got amnesia.” The little bean’s black, grape-like eyes were opened wide, gazing at him brightly. “Do you not recognize me?”
Fu Tingxin couldn’t recollect the past, but he had seen how the kid looked after he had grown up in his dream. He hadn’t expected that this bauble would know what ‘amnesia’ was. “How could I not?” he said, beaming. “Your uncle can forget whoever, but not our Xiao Shen.”
Fu Shen heard, yet he didn’t look even a bit happy. His brows instead drooped down, and he sighed like he was very vexed.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Fu Tingxin asked.
All he saw was Fu Shen’s eyes coated in a layer of tears as he turned to the child standing at the end of the bed, sounding extremely wronged. “Gege, my uncle really does have amnesia.”
Fu Tingxin and Sun Luo simultaneously stared.
The kid speedily walked over, took a handkerchief out from his pocket, then gave it to him to wipe his face with, consoling him respectably. “He recognizes you. Didn’t he call you Xiao Shen?”
“But he wasn’t like that before,” Fu Shen responded miserably. “He always called me dumbdumb.”
Fu Tingxin: “……”
Sun Luo trembled as he covered his mouth, turning away.
The contact Fu Tingxin had with this eldest nephew of his wasn’t much. When he had returned home to visit family the year before last, he had played with him like crazy for half a month, and Fu Shen didn’t have that little friend at his side at the time, so he was especially close to him. In order to tease him, Fu Tingxin would frequently call him dumbdumb, but he didn’t expect the little beanwrap to actually remember that all the way until now.
Fu Tingxin sighed ruefully. “I really didn’t read you wrong, huh…”
The kid was a bit bigger than Fu Shen. His future handsome silhouette could already be seen within his aura of childishness, yet he was particularly gentle and patient towards their dumbdumb, and he tugged at his little hand to console him. “Dumbdumb isn’t nice, but Xiao Shen is.”
Fu Shen gave as good as he got. “Your name is nice, too,” he said softly.
Fu Tingxin was rather amused by them. “Whose kid is this?” he asked, smiling.
Sun Luo’s gaze swept unnoticeably over the boy. “He’s my nephew, Yan Xiaohan. He’s in the same primary school as Xiao Shen,” he said, like nothing was wrong with this.
Fu Tingxin knew there was an inside scoop once he heard that surname, but he considerately didn’t expose it. He then played with the two kids for a while, and when he noticed it had gotten late, he urged Sun Luo to send them both back.
Sun Luo led one away by a single hand and saw them off down the stairs. When he returned to the hospital room, he saw Fu Tingxin staring blankly at the setting sun outside the window.
The bout of major affliction made him a lot lighter, leaving only a thin layer of skin wrapped around bone, yet his silhouette was as if pared by a knife, all the more sharp and aloof.
That visage and the youth in Sun Luo’s memory were already two completely different people.
As he stood inside the all-encompassing twilight, he had his very first vivid understanding of what they called ‘regret’.
It was unknown whether Fu Tingxin’s lost memories were able to be found, but all that time missed due to a slip-up was never to be retrieved.
Fu Tingxin’s ears were sharp, and despite his staring blankly, he swiftly discovered Sun Luo and turned to him from the sickbed. “They were sent off? Come over and rest for a bit.”
Sun Luo shut the door and sat down beside the bed. “That Yan Xiaohan kid is my second brother’s illegitimate son. His mother’s identity is complicated and can’t be spoken of for the time being. She passed away last year, so my brother took him back, but didn’t change his surname and likely doesn’t intend on letting him inherit the family enterprise later on. If you think that he’s–“
“I think it’s great,” Fu Tingxin casually cut him off. “Fu Shen’s barely yea big, there’s no rush for him to hoard connections. He can play with whoever he likes to play with, don’t think so much about it.”
Fu Tingxin glanced at him. “Having a childhood friend to grow up with is great, too,” he continued. “You can see that I’ve been lying here for so many days, and it’s always you who’s been running here and there for me. My blood brothers aren’t even like that.”
His glasses reflected a bit of light, covering up his eyes. Even so, Fu Tingxin could clearly detect that, for a split second, Sun Luo seemed to be a bit avoidant.
Sun Luo hung his eyes, evading his line of sight, and thought silently to himself: We’re not childhood friends, and I’ve never merely taken you as a ‘brother’.
Fu Tingxin had suffered a concussion along with a leg injury, and only obtained permission to be discharged after laying in the hospital for three months. Unfortunately, his amnesia was still untreated, so he was naturally unable to remain in the armed forces. Right before he left, his superior came by for a visit, and the two conversed in his ward the whole morning, after which he had Sun Luo fill out his discharge application for him, thus thoroughly shedding his military uniform.
Sun Luo took him back to his own apartment building. Surprisingly, no one from any level of the Fu family expressed astonishment or opposition to this. Fu Tingxin laid upon the soft, clean, double-person bed in the guest room, listening to Sun Luo speak. “Your injury still has to recuperate for another period of time, and it’s not safe for you to live by yourself. If you stay over here, it’ll be easy for me to look after you, so don’t be a stranger.”
Fu Tingxin nodded, simultaneously sneering in his mind: go on, keep pretending. Let me see how long you can do it for.
He’d only lost his memory, not any of his IQ. Sun Luo’s thoughtfulness and attentiveness were all observed; the man had an eighty-to-ninety percent chance of having that interest in him. Yet, in Sun Luo’s narrative, the two were totally just a pair of pure, 24-carat good brothers, fraternal and harmonious without anything beyond that at all.
Fu Tingxin almost believed that he was secretly in love with him but didn’t dare to say so. However, upon chatting with the captain the other day, he incidentally heard the other bring up how when he was previously in the army, for the purpose of avoiding special treatment, he didn’t call or send letter to home for several years. Fu Tingxin felt that to be a little off, and when he asked a few probing questions, he learned that he had never mentioned his family background in the squad, nor had he spoke of this ‘good brother’ Sun Luo to anyone.
Keeping it on his mind, he took advantage of when his big brother Fu Tingzhong came to visit to carefully make an inquiry on it. Only then was he aware that, starting from after his enlistment, he had completely cut ties with Sun Luo, and the family was under the impression that they had a falling out.
That didn’t make any sense — Sun Luo treated him like he owed him from their last life. If there was no conflict of interest between them, he definitely wouldn’t be able to withstand several years of no contact with Fu Tingxin.
They were separated for seven years with no news whatsoever, yet he was able to scramble to the Northwest the second he found out he was injured. Since their feelings couldn’t be stated to be shallow, why would they fight and break off like this? If Fu Tingxin didn’t get injured, would Sun Luo then never have any contact with him again for the duration of his service?
Fu Tingxin’s imagination went wild, self-composing and self-directing nine works of dogblood serial dramas as well as recalling all sorts of experiences he’d had in the dream, and he spent a good while guessing whilst shrouded in mist and clouds. It wasn’t until Sun Luo came and knocked on the door of the room, telling him that it was time to eat, that he stowed away his thoughts and lazily called out a “come in.”
Sun Luo pushed open the door and came in. He was wearing a most simple outfit of a white shirt and suit pants; especially tall, and especially good-looking. He didn’t wear his glasses when he was at home, swiftly sharpening his unconcealed eyes despite the gaze that fell onto Fu Tingxin being very gentle. “Get up. The weather is nice today, so I’ll bring you downstairs for a walk after dinner, okay?”
Hearing him act like he was cajoling a child, playfulness grew within him for a second, and he reached out his hand and whined. “I can’t get up.”
Sun Luo walked over a bit funny and pulled him up. Fu Tingxin went along with his momentum, his upper body swaying as it stood up, and, at the exact moment Sun Luo had loosened his hold, bonelessly fell back down onto the pillow.
He was deliberately acting shamelessly. Sun Luo indulgently pulled him up once more, but didn’t wait for him to fall down this time around, bringing the man up into his arms and looping his hands around his back, not allowing him to flee. Against expectations, Fu Tingxin was like a panda that was finally hugging the thigh of its keeper, and he threw himself at him with a yowl, refusing to get up for anything. They made a mess in the room until Sun Luo ultimately straight-up carried Fu Tingxin out over his shoulder, putting him down only at the head of the stairs — because the housekeeper was downstairs.
She didn’t know about them screwing around upstairs, only giving Sun Luo a reminder as she set the meal. “Mister, your cellphone rang just now. Seems like there was a call.”
Fu Tingxin sat drinking soup at the table, occasionally sneaking a glance out of the corner of his eye at Sun Luo, who was on the phone in front of the wall windows, and listening to him use that calm, completely different tone to talk to the other end. A hunch he had never thought of before then suddenly emerged in his mind–
Should Sun Luo be thinking that he was homophobic, then that’d be why he didn’t dare to get in touch with him, as even when he had amnesia, he only dared to tell him that they had been very good childhood friends.
Was it that… before he had lost his memory, he had already confessed to him?
Was there still time now for him to do a 180-degree turn for Sun Luo, then?
On August’s arrival, Fu Tingxin’s injuries were nearing recovery, and he was so idle at home he was about to grow mushrooms. Seeing that he was truly bored on top of being unable to recall anything, Sun Luo was afraid that being shut up would make him sick. It just so happened that the Group was going to hold a Red Square charity dinner and the head chairman was abroad this year, so he was entrusted to take their place in participating. Thinking to himself that Fu Tingxin was dormant upon dormant, he thereupon meticulously dressed him up, then led him off to get in on the banquet action.
Fu Tingxin was of military background, and even with his amnesia, the habits he had formed during his many years in the ranks hadn’t changed. After putting on the haute couture suit, he was imposing and threatening, and even more boss-like than Sun Luo was. They drew a lot of attention when they entered the scene side-by-side, and after they passed others by, the guests of twos and threes gathered up into one pile, all secretly guessing at the man’s identity.
In addition to being one of the members of the Taihe Group, the enormous Sun family also stood at Sun Luo’s back. Even if he was trying his best to be low-key, it was really hard to entirely avoid those who had the mind to climb the social ladder; his entire journey was bumpy, someone leaping out to exchange pleasantries with him from time to time while Fu Tingxin very patiently waited for him. Noticing that Sun Luo was frowning in slight impatience, he reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t be annoyed. What do you want to eat? I can help you go get some?” he coaxed in a low voice.
Some people’s affection was of a different kind. Sun Luo’s complexion immediately went from overcast to clear, and he turned his head to the side to mutter something to him, probably grumbling about people being way too bothersome. Fu Tingxin swapped spots with him, walking on the outer side himself and using his frame to block off a portion of others’ lines of sight for him. They were of similar height, their posture close as they walked into the scene as if no one else was around. Right when they were about to sit down, they heard a greeting come from behind them. “Director Sun?”
Turning their heads to follow the sound, they saw a tall young man standing behind their chairs with a smile on his face. He had a handsomeness that was rather a bit bombastic, yet he didn’t look silly at all, instead having a certain unprecedented affability. Sun Luo had quite some familiarity with him, so he took the initiative to shake his hand. “President Ye.”
Ye Zheng shook his hand right back. His sights landed on Fu Tingxin at the side, raising a long eyebrow. “Oh, that attitude… are you interested in getting into the entertainment industry?”
It was like Sun Luo’s face had been swiftly painted with bottom ash. Fu Tingxin didn’t mind at all, energetically reaching his hand out to Ye Zheng with a smile. “Hello, my surname is Fu. I’m an army vet, now the bodyguard of President Sun. I was on cooking duties and have never served in an entertainment troupe before.”
Ye Zheng startled, after which he grinned and shook his hand. “Ye Zheng, Xihua Entertainment.”
“He’s just kidding. This is my childhood friend, Fu Tingxin. He’s just suffered an injury some time before and hasn’t yet recovered, so he’s in the middle of recuperation.” Sun Luo completed the introduction, then said to Fu Tingxin, “This is Xihua’s Second Young Master. His sister-in-law, Sun Qingning, is my older paternal cousin. They’re both relatives of my family.”
Fu Tingxin nodded, apparently having long regarded the strange sight of the Sun family’s huge network of in-laws as no big deal. Ye Zheng showed a bit of care for his condition, but upon hearing that he had a concussion that led to a recollection barrier, he suddenly slapped the back of the chair. “What a coincidence. Since that’s the case, I’ll introduce you to someone in a little while; Hengrui’s Director Huo, Huo Mingjun. You’ve heard of him before, right? His partner, Xie Guan, also lost his memory because of a concussion in his childhood, and I heard that it was cured last year. Old Huo had sought out a lot of experts in the neurology field for consultation, so if you communicate with each other, it might be beneficial to Mister Fu’s injury.”
Sun Luo didn’t dare to pass up any opportunity concerning Fu Tingxin’s condition. At the dinner’s beginning, he hurriedly went on stage to make a brief speech, then went straight to the lobby after leaving it. Speaking of coincidences, Xie Guan had received an invite to attend tonight, and Huo Mingjun was accompanying him as well; by the time Sun Luo came in the door, several people in Ye Zheng’s organization had recognized each other and were in a frenzy of chatter for a good while.
Taihe and Hengrui previously had competed in business, but that had no overlap with Sun Luo’s specialty field. He had never seen the real Huo Mingjun, only hearing that the man was especially serious and cold, a fierce persona of skill and drive. As soon as he saw him today, however, he really wasn’t as impersonal as he imagined, possibly because love was talked about.
Xie Guan didn’t put on airs, and he shared all that he could remember with Fu Tingxin. “Me getting my memory back was likely because I fell on that spot again later,” he ended it with. “It sounds improbable, but purportedly, a whole lot of people have bumped their head and then regained their memories. You don’t need to be anxious, either, it might solve itself in not even a few days’ time.”
Fu Tingxin nodded, absent-mindedly clutching his wine glass, and thought for a while before he whispered back to him. “I’m not anxious, it’s mainly Sun Luo who is. He’s under too much pressure, so this is going to turn into a hang-up pretty soon.”
Xie Guan wasn’t the typical kind of sharp, and he promptly heard something amiss in his words. “Mister Sun and you…?” he probed.
“Are not at the step you at Director Huo are at,” Fu Tingxin replied.
That was greatly informative, and Xie Guan smiled in clear understanding. Fu Tingxin got up, setting the glass he held down on the bar counter. “I’m going to the washroom.”
To get to the dining hall’s washroom, one had to go out the other end of the corridor. Fu Tingxin had a hand in his pocket, walking slowly along the soft carpet as he thought about the conversation he’d just had with Xie Guan.
He said that after he had fallen off of the stage, he had dreamed about things that had happened in the past while he was comatose. This made Fu Tingxin inevitably bring the Nanke-esque dream he had during his own coma to mind — was it really just a dream?
He was so lost in thought, he washed his hands in front of the washbasin for a bit too long. A stall opened not too far away down, and the man that came out was drawn over by the sound of water. When he passed by, he incidentally glanced at the mirror, then abruptly stopped in his tracks after taking a few steps. “Tingxin?” he asked in astonishment.
Fu Tingxin heard this and turned his head, discovering an unfamiliar face that he knew was most likely an acquaintance he had met before. However, he couldn’t remember who he was at all, so he had no other choice but to brace himself, feign surprise, and question him without losing his manners. “You are…”
“You don’t remember me?” There was lightning-quick flash of faint disappointment on the man’s face. “I’m Qiu Ming, we sat at adjacent desks in senior high. Did you forget?”
Fu Tingxin ‘had an epiphany’. “Look at this memory of mine. Sorry, I didn’t recognize you at all just now — you’ve changed a lot.”
Qiu Ming was currently twenty-four-ish. Though his countenance could be called fair and delicate, Fu Tingxin’s eyes could catch that there was a little disharmony in it. The bridge of his nose was too high, his chin was too sharp, double eyelids seemed to have been cut into him, and his entire face was really stiff when smiling; he’d certainly had some work done. Therefore, when he said all that, Qiu Ming didn’t detect anything peculiar, and he proceeded to grin. “I wasn’t anything special before, but I couldn’t forget you. You were a dreamboat, the most handsome guy in school. There were a lot of classmates that had crushes on you.”
Fu Tingxin tasted something a bit abnormal as he listened to those those words, raising an eyebrow. “Was I? I didn’t get that idea.”
“You were. It’s just that you were typically always wound around Sun Luo, and not together much with your classmates.” Qiu Ming then got a step closer, the smell of the cologne he wore faintly wafting over. “Did you come with him today, too? I heard that you enlisted after graduating, yet you’ve kept in contact with him for so many years. You two have a really great relationship.”
“Mhm.” Fu Tingxin imperceptibly increased the distance between them, tone perfunctory. “Everyone goes their own ways after graduation, and it isn’t easy keeping in contact with the outside world when in the army. Are you getting into showbiz now?”
Qiu Ming smiled unnaturally. “Pretty much,” he said vaguely. “Are you… on holiday right now?”
Qiu Ming’s expression got somewhat enthusiastic. “Do you plan to go into business in the future?”
He was leaning closer and closer to him. Fu Tingxin wasn’t sure if he was familiar with him from the start, or if he ultimately had some other intention, and replied only after a short pause. “I’m a lone, unemployed vagrant, currently relying on someone else to support me.”
“You have a partner?” Qiu Ming was taken aback. “Man or woman? Who are they?”
Fu Tingxin nearly choked. “They could be a man?”
“They could. In order to avoid me back in the day, you didn’t even go to college and ran off to the army. I thought that you liked Sun Luo, but it turns out you really are straight.”
Fu Tingxin had a head full of confused fog.
The footsteps of the one outside the restroom door abruptly halted.
Sun Luo didn’t remember how he noiselessly went from outside the washroom door to being in the garden outside the dining hall, but by the time he returned to his senses, the cigarette he held was already half-dragged.
For these past few months, he had straight-up given up smoking because Fu Tingxin was living in his house. Who could have predicted that he would be so greatly provoked, he wouldn’t be able to resist taking out another one?
In regards to the past, he truly hadn’t told Fu Tingxin the truth.
Sun Luo had discovered himself to be innately homosexual at around the time of middle school, but he hadn’t told anyone that, including his best friend Fu Tingxin. Even so, he was no match for them keeping each other company all the time, and the other male was really dazzling, so even though he did all he could to keep himself within propriety, his heart was still unavoidably stirred by his straight guy friend. He even did something as stupid as secretly throwing away a love letter that someone else had given Fu Tingxin.
Fu Tingxin was untamed and independent, and despite his grades being lacking, he had success in handsome looks and a good personality, and was especially good to Sun Luo, even more considerate than the young sweethearts in class. There were always some people in it that poked fun at them, and Sun Luo remembered that Qiu Ming had sat at the desk behind Fu Tingxin at the time, and would frequently use a sour tone to say to him: “Brother Fu is really good to you.”
He should have seen the hints long ago, but he hadn’t yet thoroughly dissected his own feelings then, nor was he in the mood to deal with Qiu Ming. When it came to the latter half of the semester in their third year of high school, his crush was like an inferno incessantly roasting his heart. He was rational and patient, but that was in relative comparison to his peers; he ended up being unable to restrain his own emotions, wrote of the emotions that filled his heart into one very brief letter, then stuck it in Fu Tingxin’s notebook.
On the evening of the next day, he went go find Fu Tingxin in the gym as he habitually did after he finished class. He got to the outside of the locker room, and right when he was about to knock, he suddenly heard a male student speak up. “…Are you really set on that? I heard that serving in the army is really tough. Even if you’re not good enough to get into a second-tier university, it’s still better than enlisting.”
“Let it go, alright? What else can I do but leave? He wants to pick me up, and even if I go to a vocational college, he could chase after me to that school, too,” Fu Tingxin answered, jittery. “I can’t provoke him, so could I still hide from him?”
After that came the sound of tearing paper from the room. Fu Tingxin kicked the trashcan, his anger soaring to the sky, and burst into rarely-seen obscenities. “What the hell is all this? Fuck!”
Just like a clap of thunder exploding in his ears, a bouquet of heart’s flowers did not yet have time to bloom in full before a suddenly-descending tempestuous downpour poured onto its head.
Half a minute later, Sun Luo quietly turned and left the gym without waiting for Fu Tingxin to leave together with him. He soullessly went back home, thinking about that sentence the entire journey: What else can I do but leave?
He instantly realized that, over these many years, Fu Tingxin was the only friend at his side that was so caring, to the point that he would sometimes regard him as his own personal property and refuse to share him with others. They went to the same kindergarten, the same primary school, junior high — Fu Tingxin’s grades couldn’t have gotten him into an important high school, so Sun Luo planned to test a little lower. Fearing that he’d hold him up, Fu Tingxin then made use of his family’s connections to get him allocated into the same class as him.
He might have had some awareness of these paranoid desires for possession, yet he never complained about it, and even poured his attention on him without the slightest bit of stinginess. And it was precisely because of his indulgence that Sun Luo developed an unrealistic infatuation.
Before today, Fu Tingxin had never brought up the matter about going to enlist. There hadn’t been one word.
Sun Luo looked inside himself and asked whether he could do something like dropping everything to follow Fu Tingxin in testing for vocational school.
As it turned out, unwittingly, he had already forced Fu Tingxin to this stage.
He couldn’t wait to go far away and fly up high, far away from him.
Not long after, Fu Tingxin passed the physical exam. Before he entered the army, he dragged a group of people to an open food stall to grab skewers and drink booze, and they chatted spiritedly until late at night. At the end of it, Sun Luo, who was about to take the college entrance exam, was the only sober one remaining, and he stared at him the whole way while in the taxi. He ended up doing nothing, and Fu Tingxin was safely sent back home.
After finishing senior high, Sun Luo changed his contact details and address, then painstakingly avoided all news pertaining to Fu Tingxin. They were thousands of kilometers apart, not passing messages ever again.
He was obsessed for more than ten years, then learned to relinquish it at last that one night.
Even so, on the inside, how could there be a day where he would let go of that man?
The deep attachment and despair that were engraved into his bones and etched into his heart had never been worn down by time, but rather grew all the deeper as years went by, and he had never come across someone who was able to tempt him again. Fu Tingxin had treated him very well before, and this was thus very painful to peel off. He traced the memory of it over and over, each stroke and picture becoming one with flesh, where he wouldn’t be able to forget them even if he wanted to.
A fateful coincidence returned Fu Tingxin to his side once more. He lost his memory, but his personality was unchanged, and the tone that he spoke to Sun Luo with was as lively and familiar as ever. It was practically a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; Fu Tingxin’s recollection was a blank piece of paper, and he, as the one in the know, could subsequently paint it however.
However, Sun Luo didn’t dare to mention anything concerning the topic of ‘homosexuality’ to his face, and didn’t even dare to reveal any tiny traces at all — likely because the feeling of getting beaten awake out of a beautiful dream by someone with a club had hurt too much, and he didn’t want to suffer it a second time.
He’d had very little contact with his senior high classmates these past years and had long forgotten that the minor character of Qiu Ming once appeared in his life, but today, he had heard a completely different, blindsiding narrative of the situation from back then.
Why might have Fu Tingxin gone off to enlist because of Qiu Ming?
On the night of the Red Square banquet, Fu Tingxin collected the mosquito-bite-coated Sun Luo from the small garden. Neither of them spoke of the encounter in the bathroom; Sun Luo had too heavy a load on his mind, and Fu Tingxin didn’t care.
After that, everything was as normal, with still winds and calm waves. Only, Fu Tingxin gradually came to discover that Sun Luo was acting a little odd.
It wasn’t the bad kind of ‘odd’, of course.
When he had just been injured, Sun Luo was meticulous, yet within appropriate behavior from start to finish, as if there was an impassable 38th parallel between them. Ever since he came back, though, the movements of their limbs in the space between them got more and more clingy. Sun Luo’s patience seemed to have accumulated for very many years and then dumped onto him without any sort of reservation, as he accompanied him to look for doctors, inquire about medication, and go to exercise therapy, as if the clamshell that had always been tightly shut was timidly opened to a thin crack, sprinkling the room full of gentle pearl light.
Fu Tingxin wasn’t a pure-hearted, chaste Liuxia Hui, either. It was impossible for him to be completely unaware of his thoughts, and even more impossible for his own feelings to be unmoved.
After the passage of a few days, Sun Luo finally made up his mind to invite an old classmate from way back when out to eat.
He hadn’t contacted his senior high classmates for a long time, and a few of the ones that had the best relationship with Fu Tingxin had left the country, while others had settled down in other regions. Expending a few days of effort, he ended up solely getting in touch with a wealthy second-gen of a company that operated in the capital. The company was in a different district, so, in an expression of good faith, Sun Luo intentionally suffered through the massive noontime traffic to drive over there.
He came out while taking advantage of his lunch break, and had long since gotten food by the time the old classmate came down the company’s steps. They didn’t have a proper meal, either, just casually finding a coffee shop to sit down and chat.
The old classmate was cordial to him, probably due to Fu Tingxin’s reputation. “Has Old Fu been doing well recently? If you hadn’t contacted me, I wouldn’t have known he was ever in the hospital. I’ll have to go and find time to take a look at him.”
“His wounds have already all healed,” Sun Luo raised a finger to his temple, “it’s just that the blood clotted here hasn’t yet been absorbed, so he generally can’t recall past events.”
“Don’t you worry. He just needs to patiently look after it, and maybe it’ll be resolved one day,” the classmate consoled.
Sun Luo nodded. “I came to find you to ask after something. You had a good relationship with him back in the day; do you know why he ended up going to enlist?”
“The one who had the best relationship with him could only be you. The both of us only played ball and mucked around, I didn’t hear him say why. Can you give a hint?”
“Do you still remember Qiu Ming?”
“Qiu Ming? Who?” The other wracked his brains to bring him to mind for a very long time. “…Oh, you’re talking about that prettyboy that sat behind you two, I remember.
Isn’t his dad Qiu Yongshan, that ‘big retail king’ who boasted for some odd years about how miraculous he was? Qiu Ming wouldn’t have gotten into our school, otherwise. Though, he seemed to have gone bankrupt later on, as he threw his wife and child away and escaped to the US to evade debt. He was on the deadbeat list last year.
Now that you’ve said it, I actually do have a bit of an impression of him. My buddies said that Qiu Ming had chased after Old Fu, and really obviously. He constantly gave him water and other stuff. It was almost obsessive how much he liked him. It’s said that he secretly broke into the teacher’s office to flip through college exam forms because he wanted to apply to the same university as him, though I don’t know whether that’s true or false. Old Fu never told you?”
Sun Luo tightened his grip on the cup, shaking his head.
“Anyways, Old Fu only had you in his eyes and heart, but he didn’t tell you because he was afraid that this lousy stuff would influence your entrance exam.” The classmate grinned. “You wouldn’t know, but Old Fu happened to witness you sneakily throwing away his love letter before. Later on, someone else gave him something, and he even turned his back to you quietly dealing with it. For a while then, our entire basketball team was tearing up love letters and eating chocolate for him every day, hahahaha…”
“He really hadn’t told you, then. Us two used to regularly smoke next to that trash can behind the gym. You didn’t see, but he smoked like a thief, never daring to wear a coat and needing to stand in the wind for ten minutes after he was done, afraid that you’d sniff it out.”
Sun Luo was caught off guard, those few sentences striking him right on the hidden wound in his heart. He was momentarily dazed while his former classmate kept lamenting. “These couple of years passed by in a flash… thankfully, you were there to run all around taking care of him when he got into an accident. Old Fu loving you so much back in the day wasn’t in vain. Very nice. It’s not easy to be brothers for so many years.”
Sun Luo unconsciously nodded. The classmate saw that his mind was wandering, so he used a spoon to tap against the rim of his glass, making him snap out of it. “President Sun, you came from so far away to find me. What did you want to want to ask about? Did you specifically want to have me reminisce on you two’s bygone years?”
“I’m done asking.” Sun Luo coughed drily, apologizing to him with some embarrassment. “Sorry to have held you up for such a long time.”
The other stared at him for while, uncomprehending, until he finally couldn’t help but grin. “Alright. You know what the full score is now.”
They said goodbye at the door. The classmate’s eyes followed Sun Luo as he drove the car around to turn onto the main road. He took a cigarette out of his pocket, not sure what to think about that all, and tsked, thinking to himself with schadenfreude: I said a long time about that this joker Sun Luo’s expression was off when he looked at him, but Old Fu didn’t believe me. This oughta make him see the light, huh.
What was going on exactly in that conversation’s events was something perhaps no one aside from Fu Tingxin could give him a definite answer to, but that was already of no importance. The stone of many years of bad feelings that pressed down on his heart had suddenly lost the strength and weight it had to suppress someone, and his whole heart was light, like it was about to float off.
All he wanted right now was to quickly go back home and heartily hug the one he had personally shoved away.
He drove back to the villa like he was being hunted down the whole way. Fu Tingxin wasn’t present in the living room, but after looking once around both up and downstairs, he eventually discovered him in the media room, leaning against the sofa as he slept.
Light and shadow fluctuated on the screen. The film had reached its end, a singing voice with captions slowly ascending:
The one in my dreams, a face I know well, you are the tenderness I’ve awaited…
Familiar affection between us, our love will awaken…
In years of joy and sorrow, only love is the eternal myth
Neither of us forgets that ancient, ancient oath
Your tears become vivid butterflies, filling the sky with their dance
Love is the wind under our wings, two hearts flying freely with each other… 
This was a movie from over ten years ago. When they went to see it at the theater together, the large streets and small alleys were then covered in red. It was the youthful recollection of someone of the era; once the prelude of the end credits’ song sounded out, he could always sing along.
He stood in the dimly-lit media room for a long time, listening to the entirety of the song as his boiling-over emotions slowly mellowed out. He had some amount of understanding as to the reason the other rewatched this film. The man didn’t joyfully say so, but who really wanted to be the wayfaring spirit of a different world?
He mentally sighed without sound, picked up the blanket that was set to the side, and carefully covered Fu Tingxin with it.
His actions were almost silent, but Fu Tingxin had woken up the instant he’d walked in and had been feigning sleep the whole time. Noticing that he was getting closer in that moment, evilness promptly grew within him, and he swiftly reached out, held Sun Luo by the waist, swept his foot out from under him, and thus made him stumble — his center of gravity unstable — and plunge headfirst into his arms.
Sun Luo, braced against the sofa’s backrest, was nearly scared to death by him. “Don’t mess around! What if I crushed you?!”
Fu Tingxin laughed hard at getting his way, heedlessly raising a hand and lightly patting his lower back. “I’m pretty sturdy. I won’t break when I’m crushed.”
“It’s still not good, your fracture just healed…”
His words gradually quieted under Fu Tingxin’s smiling gaze. The heat of his palm passed through his thin shirt and branded onto his skin, wandering along his nerves and muscles. Half of his body was entirely scalded numb, but countless pretty thoughts were being created downwind in his chest. The apes of his heart and horses of his mind were running amok all over the place, like a zoo opened up.
Fu Tingxin caught sight of his long, fine eyelashes hanging down as soon as he raised his hand. His glasses were held up by the steep, straight bridge of his nose, obstructing beautifully-shaped eyes behind their lenses. Unsure of what mindset it stemmed from, he reached out and plucked them off. They were able to hear each others’ breathing, the tips of their noses on the verge of bumping together, their posture a bit too intimate.
Dry, rough fingerpads lightly brushed over the corners of his eyes, and their lashes immediately resembled startled butterflies, flapping their wings in a panic at his fingertips. Fu Tingxin gulped. His feelings difficult to be constrained, he pressed down on him, pecking him on those thin, tightly-pursed lips.
The touch was very soft with the approximate power of a feather brushing past, yet it was exactly like Sun Luo was burnt by a flatiron. He abruptly shot away from him and staggered backwards a few steps with unsteady heels, nearly falling onto the carpet.
The warm feelings in Fu Tingxin’s eyes froze over.
He paused for short time, after which he blinked slowly. “…Do you hate me?” he asked, keeping as calm as he could.
Sun Luo had since become completely stupefied. On hearing Fu Tingxin’s question, he subconsciously shook his head without waiting for his brain. “Then, you…” Fu Tingxin went on.
Before he could finish his words, he heard Sun Luo’s own hoarse, wavering question. “Don’t you hate me…?”
“Huh?” Fu Tingxin asked, not understanding. “Why would I hate you?”
That pretty pair of eyes that had lost their blockade were suddenly suffused with red. He seemed to have cut his own heart open again, offering it humbly up in both hands for the other to step on as he spoke with difficulty. “I’m… gay.”
“You don’t say.” Fu Tingxin really admired his brain circuitry. “Aren’t I as well? Why else do you think I just did that for?”
Fu Tingxin stood up from the couch, wanting to go and coax him, but upon seeing Sun Luo’s head hanging down and his shirtcuffs slightly shaking like he was rattled by the stimulation, he felt that he should let it be. “Calm down first, your head isn’t working at all. Let’s talk again when you’ve thought it over.”
He turned in preparation to leave after he finished talking. Unexpectedly, Sun Luo abruptly flung himself at him from behind, firmly hugging him like he’d caught a thief. “You can’t leave!”
Had this been someone else, Fu Tingxin likely would have long let them fall to the ground. When Sun Luo pounced at him, however, he only tensed his body, stopping where he stood soon after. “Hm? What’s up?”
Sun Luo was a few centimeters taller than him, and his lips happened to be positioned right at his ear. A temperate, trembling kiss landed behind Fu Tingxin’s ear with no prior indication. “I don’t need to think… I like you, I’ve liked you for so many years…”
Fu Tingxin’s heart promptly jumped wildly, but what his mouth said was: “Is that right? But you said we were friends.”
“I was scared to tell you the truth.” Sun Luo buried his head in the crook of his neck, arms fastened around his abdomen as he mumbled. “I thought that you hated homosexuality.”
Fu Tingxin sighed, pulled one arm out, then held the back of his hand, turning his head to the side. “Did I do something before that made you get the wrong idea?”
Sun Luo didn’t say a word, very quietly making a sound of affirmation.
Fu Tingxin heard the feeling of extreme grievance come from that one syllable, and he felt a little exasperated, yet also uncontrollably soft-hearted. As a person, his personality was disinclined to explain things and would let others interpret what they will, but Sun Luo wasn’t an other, so he had to think of something and carefully consider his wording. “I don’t remember what happened before, but if it was you, even if I didn’t understand, I definitely wouldn’t hate you.”
It was like the longsword that had been hung up on high finally fell down, yet it didn’t stab anyone, merely whistling through the air to land neatly inside its sheath.
That went completely in one ear and out the other for Sun Luo. He didn’t care what Fu Tingxin said; just him responding was enough. He soaked for a time within the sudden tenderness and contentment, having a surplus of complacency, then suddenly thought to himself: why didn’t he go find Fu Tingxin for confirmation back in the day?
Why didn’t he listen to his own answer with his own ears? Even if he voiced a rejection, that would have been overall better than seven years of bullheaded painful torment and endless separation.
Why didn’t he dare to believe that this person, who was so good to him, would never hurt him?
“Let’s kiss again.” He pulled Fu Tingxin’s face towards his own, impatient to seek out the gentle comfort between those lips and teeth, and said once more: “I like you. I’ve liked you for really long time.”
“What a coincidence.” Fu Tingxin welcomed his lips. “I’ve liked you for a really long time, too.”
“Starting from our last life.”
Fu Tingxin was a someone who couldn’t stay idle. He had been recuperating for several months and also successfully bent himself; feeling that both his physical and mental states had recovered to a healthy status, he then began scheming to find something for him to do.
Sun Luo listened to his huge pile of extremely bold plans. “How about you come work at my company?” he finally spoke up with implicit gentleness.
“I only have a high school diploma. I can’t do nuthin’ but be your chauffeur.”
“You can be, it’s no problem,” Sun Luo readily agreed. “You wanting to be my ‘secretary’ is fine, too.”
“I really misjudged you,” Fu Tingxin sighed. “Do you want to go close the office door or what…”
Sun Luo jumped on him, stopping up his mouth.
Starting from that day, Director Sun had a good life of having his chauffeur drive him every morning, delivering him meals every afternoon, and warming his bed every evening.
What a pity that, not even a few days later, Fu Tingxin quit his job.
Sun Luo was laying in his lap, livid. “Why? Is the boss not handsome enough or the pay not high enough for you?!”
“What boss have you ever seen that insists on their driver giving them a kiss before they’re willing to get out of the car?” Fu Tingxin mocked. “President Sun, this is what you call sexual harassment in the workplace.”
Fu Tingxin’s memory was not at all like Xie Guan’s, where it would come back all at once; he remembered it slowly, piece by piece. Though it was somewhat confusing at the beginning, after a few years passed, he was basically no different than a regular person.
In their second year of being together, he had contacted a few retired army buddies, and they jointly opened a hotpot restaurant. Their previous drill base was in the Northwest and their feelings towards that area were quite deep, so, after the inspection, they signed a procurement contract with the local herdsmen to get the prairie livestock’s meat directly supplied to the capital. Later still, the restaurant’s scope gradually spread out, and they even opened a chain store across the street from Taihe Group.
The new restaurant’s grand opening happened to be on the same day as Sun Luo’s birthday. He didn’t remember it, himself, but instead specifically invited a group of executive friends to come eat hotpot in order to cheer Fu Tingxin on.
Halfway through, Fu Tingxin knocked on the door of the private room, and several servers filed neatly in, carrying luxurious fruit platters and cake and singing “happy birthday to you.”
Everyone immediately went into an uproar.
Fu Tingxin was dressed in a white shirt and suit trousers, standing tall with a looming gallantry. He walked out with poise, gathered Sun Luo up, and kissed him. “Happy birthday.”
Them being together had long been a semi-open secret, they’d just never been so brazen in front of outsiders. Sun Luo was a bit embarrassed, his ears slightly tinged red at the base, yet there was a smile he wasn’t able to suppress filling his eyes. “…Thanks. Let’s enjoy it together.”
The servers began to distribute slices of the birthday cake to everyone. Sun Luo also had a plate in his hand, and on top of it was a buttercream flower that wasn’t of great quality, but still could be regarded as ‘intact’. “Try it?” Fu Tingxin smiled. “I just barely squeezed that out of a pastry bag myself.”
Once that was said, there was no need to sell it short. Even if that flower was made of plastic foam, Sun Luo would able to chew and swallow it down with no change in expression…
He bit down painfully on something hidden in an egg roll.
Fu Tingxin kindly passed him a napkin. Sun Luo covered his mouth, turned to the side, and had a brightly-shining ring land on his palm, cushioned by the paper.
Sun Luo: “!!!”
That crowd of well-groomed elites in the private room were all shameless, and they started to applaud, shout, and whistle like crazy. “Say yes! Say yes! Say yes!”
Fu Tingxin pulled out a tissue, wiped the ring clean, and grabbed Sun Luo’s slightly shivering left hand that was hung at his side. However, he didn’t play his card in sequence, and instead gazed at him with a faint smile. “Is there anything you want to say to me?”
In that split second of looking face-to-face, Sun Luo suddenly understood what he meant, and a long-missing promise automatically slid out of his mouth.
As good fortune broadened the mind, the waters of success also formed their own canal.
“I love you — in this life and this world, in any life and any world, I’ll focus on loving you alone.”
The ring was neither tight nor loose, pushed firmly to the base of his finger.
This time, the severed red thread was re-twined into a knot at last, binding them to the affinity they had missed. To the end of this lifetime, they would never let go, and never separate.
The author’s afterword [she puts her own work down again here, so she gets put in the Timeout Dropdown for lying. click here to expand.]
The initial inspiration for this story originated from a scene that flashed through my head: a red-clothed general kneeled before the towering palace gate, and the traitorous official at his side gave him an umbrella. (……)
Later on, I rolled up some old-style stories I had previously wanted to write into a ball, and processed them into “Golden Stage”.
The Golden Stage is a metaphor. My original intent wasn’t to write an entire section of history from start to finish, just to write a “turning point” — a turning point for Fu Shen’s personal destiny, and a turning point for his political life. However, because the standard is truly limited, the latter half-section’s writing might have collapsed, and I’m not sure what this work ultimately conveys to the reader. I hope that I can do my best to rescue some of it when I patch up the book.
Which direction this Dynasty will end up going in is something I don’t have a definite answer for. I just lumped favorable conditions together and let the protagonists snatch that fleeting opportunity. As for whether this event will become a historical moment worthy of commemoration in the end, or turn into the beginning of failure… things that come thousands of years later are impossible to predict. We are in the present and cannot see that far.
If one doesn’t pay attention to storyline and only eats the sugar, I’d be very pleased, too.
Sir Yan is probably the most lovedrunk male lead I’ve written. How precious is a traitorous official, who has layers upon layers of anxieties yet is still brave enough to love! Every single upstanding loyalist should have one! I remember that there was a comment that stated that they felt General Fu didn’t love Xiao Yan as much — how could that be? Xiao Yan is so great, who wouldn’t love him? (Nah.) (In reality, General Fu just hadn’t said anything. After he took Yan Xiaohan as a wife, he was so happy, he couldn’t sleep at night, really.)
At this point, the main text and the extras are finished. There’s a still another stalk of an extra, but because it might be startling[?], I’m going to post it on Weibo (@苍梧宾白) and not here. I welcome everyone to go over there and take a look at it. Thank you to everybody for your accompaniment, encouragement, and support!I’m extremely glad that fate brought us together for this encounter! Finally, I can request an author’s bookmark. We’ll meet again in the next book~
The translator’s afterword: Huh. It’s pretty surreal to know that I’m… not going to work on GS anymore.
First and foremost: I’m glad that this novel has gained the traction it did over the course of my translation, despite it being… not completely, but semi-unknown beforehand. I had a feeling it would due to a certain pair of sickeningly sweet lovebirds, but a feeling is nothing versus actually watching it happen. It’s a beautifully written novel, and I’m glad it’s getting attention.
Secondly: Thank you to everyone who has complimented the translation quality. I’ve always loved to write, but when I first started translating, I had been years out of practice due to a variety of reasons. It feels great to come back to it, get my vibe back, and also get written confirmation that my writing hasn’t gone to complete ass, hohoho. I feel like I could physically feel Chinese flowing to me better as time went on, too, and I’ve definitely become more open to less literal translations of idioms now compared to then. I have every mind to keep translating, and to write my own stuff on the side now, as well~
If you’d like to support this novel some more, please consider buying it on JJWXC to support the author (here’s an in-depth guide, and a link to the RAWs) or simply giving the novel 5 stars on NovelUpdates and/or leaving a nice review. (I like seeing and reading those, no matter how short. Gives me the warm fuzzies.) Telling all your friends and pals about Tooth-rotting Fluff: The BL is also good.
If you’d like to support me in particular, there’s a pinkish-red button on the right sidebar that allows you to dump (an) entire mug(s) of coffee over my head. My translations will always be free, but I’ll be honest; donations do give me a subconscious kick in the ass to go even faster.
I’ve also got commissions open, for those who maybe want more bang for your buck beyond a sincere thank-you. My rates are way cheaper than a lot of others I’ve seen, but do be aware that costs add up!
Okay, I’m done shooting my mouth off. See you next novel! Catch me on Twitter for updates.
 ‘Putting a green hat’ on someone means you cheated on them, typically a wife to a husband.
 The People’s Liberation Army of China contains an odd non-fighting division called wenyibing (文艺兵), whose purpose is to provide media entertainment to the soldiers. Unsurprisingly, it’s mostly a propaganda machine, rampant with corruption, and not considered necessary by sane people.
 Xie Guan and Huo Mingjun are characters from one of this author’s other works, Mutually Allowing a Stand-in. Uh, spoilers for the plot of that, I guess.
 Liuxia Hui was a man famous for basically being non-lustful; famously, a woman (that was not his wife) sat on his lap and he wasn’t tempted by her at all, and his wife sang of his praises. From a modern viewpoint, he was either asexual, or a normal human being that wasn’t super thrilled about a stranger sitting on him.
 China’s social credit system will list you as a ‘deadbeat’ (老赖 lao lai, lit. ‘old mooch’) if you don’t pay your bills, which does many terrible things. Read more about the Dystopian Hell System here.
 Ugh, song lyrics… this is “Beautiful Myth” by Sun Nan and Han Hong, soundtrack to The Myth. Listen to it here.
[-] Minor fun fact: the ‘section titles’ are actually all alternate spellings of typical Chinese numerals, known as anti-fraud numerals, and are used by banks as they are much harder to write, and thus are harder to forge.