Lin An Lan was preparing for class the next afternoon when his cell phone suddenly rang.
He picked it up and looked at it. It was Cheng Yu’s WeChat, which was brief and concise: [Come out, come to the slope next to the school.]
Looking at the message, he thought in his heart, What does he want to do again?
He took off his mic and said to the camera man who was following behind him, “I’m going to the toilet.”
The toilets in this primary school weren’t built inside the school, but at the foot of the slope outside the school.
The toilets in the countryside were always much worse than those in the city, especially in terms of hygiene.
When the guests saw the toilets for the first time, they had all been dumbfounded, unable to believe it.
After that, every time the subject of toilets came up, they were all hesitant, looking as if they were going to die for the cause.
Even Lin An Lan himself, when he first went, was worried that he might fall in if he missed his footing.
This caused everyone to inexplicably avoid going to the toilet.
When the camera man heard that he was going to the toilet, he didn’t stop him from taking off the mic, nor did he go out with him.
When Lin An Lan left the office with his cell phone in hand, he heard Li Yongshi talking to the students about simple addition and subtraction. The compound was silent, and only the sound of the birds in the trees could be heard as they chirped.
In this silence, he walked out of the school gate and onto the path by it.
The path was very narrow and could only accommodate two people walking side by side at most. There were no steps on the uphill side, only little potholes left behind by the number of people who had walked by.
Lin An Lan stepped on the little potholes one by one and walked slowly up the path. When he reached the last one, he saw Cheng Yu walk over to him, reach out his hand and pull him up the slope.
“Why did you call me out?” Lin An Lan asked him.
Cheng Yu pulled him behind the trees up the slope.
“Look.” With that, he lifted his chin, motioning for Lin An Lan to look down.
Lin An Lan turned his head and saw the whole school in full view. He smiled, “So you asked me to come here so I could be at the top of the mountain to see the school in full view?”
“Of course not.” Cheng Yu hit him on the shoulder, “I asked you out because of selfish reasons. I want to do something I wanted to do to you before in high school, but didn’t.”
“What?” Lin An Lan was confused.
Cheng Yu looked at him with a smile, then pulled him into his arms and kissed him.
Lin An Lan opened his eyes in surprise, looking at him, only for Cheng Yu to wink at him, “Close your eyes.”
He closed his eyes, thinking, ‘I thought something had happened, but it turns out it was because of this.’
He didn’t take it seriously, but Cheng Yu looked at him seriously for two seconds before kissing him slowly and tenderly.
When they were in high school, when he had passed by couples holding hands, he would wish that he could hold hands with Lin An Lan in secret, out of the sight of their teachers, and that when he was bored in class, that every time he looked at him, he could secretly hold hands with him.
He had also imagined that if Lin An Lan liked him, they could be like other couples at school, kissing under the trees in silence when no one was looking.
There was a big willow tree at Si Zhi High, the school Cheng Yu attended, which had a white carved bench under it.
A lot of couples who loved it there would sit on the bench during free time in gym class, saying sweet nothings to each other.
They would also kiss their lovers secretly in the shade of the willow tree when no one was around.
This was how the dating life of a student was always like. Simple but exciting, afraid of being discovered, but also not afraid of being discovered either.
Cheng Yu had happened to chance on these scenes a few times by mistake and had stored them in his heart.
But he could only think about it, because Lin An Lan didn’t even know he liked him, let alone reciprocate his feelings.
So when he inadvertently saw this huge tree on the hillside that he couldn’t name, he instantly thought of the willow tree in their school.
He also thought of his youthful but dumb thoughts at that time.
At that time, he’d had no place to put his feelings.
He had wanted to tell Lin An Lan, to show him how much he loved him, but Lin An Lan didn’t notice him. Even though he was standing right in front of him, Lin An Lan’s eyes would show his reflection, but his shadow wouldn’t be there in his eyes.
He was too busy studying, too busy studying for the entrance exams and too busy supervising the self-destructive Jiang Xu.
He was too busy, he didn’t have the heart to concern himself with whether other people liked him or not.
But now, he finally had the chance to give him his love.
He separated his lips from his slightly and said against his forehead, “When I was in school, I envied other people. They could hold hands with the person they liked in the classroom and kiss in school, but I couldn’t do anything.”
He bit Lin An Lan’s lips and said in a rare childish manner, “So I want you to make it up to me.”
Laughing at his aggrieved tone, Lin An Lan kissed him on the lips and smiled, “Hmm, I’ll make it up to you.”
He took his time as he kissed Cheng Yu, because he had paid attention to the terrain when he came here, and noticed that there was no one around at this time, so he didn’t worry too much, kissing Cheng Yu gently and languidly for a long time.
Cheng Yu was very satisfied and holding him as he leaned against the tree looking down the slope at the school, it was as if they had gone back to the time when they were young again — He had walked up to him and Lin An Lan had raised his head, but his eyes were clear, gentle yet detached.
However now his eyes showed his reflection and shadow and it was glorious.
Lin An Lan looked at the scenery of the school not far away with him, his heart filled with peace.
He thought, if only he hadn’t lost his memory, then he would still remember their high school and even university days, he would remember what their past and even if they hadn’t been together at that time, at least they knew each other.
At least, it was a common memory that they had experienced together.
He couldn’t help but lean into Cheng Yu’s arms, saying as he hugged his waist, “When you were in high school, did you ever confess your love to me?”
“No.” Cheng Yu replied in a low voice, “I approached you a few times, but nothing came of it, because I knew that you would actually not take my advances seriously.”
Lin An Lan looked at him in distress, “Then why did you keep on liking me?”
Cheng Yu smiled, kissing him on the cheeks, “It’s not as if you can control your feelings, not to mention, you were really nice.”
“Why didn’t I take your feelings seriously then? Was it also because of Jiang Xu?”
Cheng Yu found it a little difficult to explain as he thought about it.
“It wasn’t just because of Jiang Xu. Of course, he was a big part of it, but not all of it. You and I are different, I wasn’t very passionate about studying, it’s just that my brother was very strict and wouldn’t allow me to do too badly, so I sat down in class and listened to the teachers.”
“But you loved to learn. Your father was a teacher and you were an adopted son, so it was only natural that you wanted to excel in that area, that’s why you weren’t very enthusiastic about making friends or dating in high school or even university.”
“Essentially, you’re a very thoughtful person, so even if you were alone, you’d still live a good life.”
Lin An Lan felt that that shouldn’t be the case.
“You said earlier that Jiang Xu and I have known each other since we were kids right?”
“Then it shouldn’t be because I’m not enthusiastic about making friends or dating, but that I’d become accustomed to protecting myself.”
Cheng Yu looked at him in amazement.
“As you said, my parents weren’t my biological parents and that I wasn’t adopted from the orphanage by my parents until I was six or seven.”
Cheng Yu nodded.
“Then isn’t that it.” He laughed a little, “A six or seven year old would remember that he had already been abandoned before being adopted, so he would feel insecure.”
“Jiang Xu is the person I’ve known the longest apart from my adoptive parents, and time grows trust and dependence, so I trust him and care for him, as I grew up with him. But in regards to other people, like you, we didn’t know each other, so I wouldn’t trust you and I wouldn’t accept your advances easily, so naturally I wouldn’t be friends with you even though Jiang Xu doesn’t like you.”
He lamented a little, “Cheng Yu, it’s not that you weren’t good enough, it’s that we met too late.”
“If you had also been there when I was little, when I was just adopted, then I would have trusted you too, would have become good friends with you and then lovers.”
Lin An Lan thought to himself, he probably knew why he was friends with Jiang Xu for so many years.
There were only two possibilities.
First, Jiang Xu had been there during his time in the orphanage, had been with him through those unsettling times and afterwards, through the different years of growing up.
Second, Jiang Xu had appeared after he had been adopted by his parents, when he was both happy and apprehensive about his new family and Jiang Xu, who had been the same age had extended a hand of friendship to him, easing his apprehension and accompanying him through the formative years that had followed.
It was no wonder that he had become friends with Jiang Xu and had always defended him.
Cheng Yu never expected that he would give him an explanation, neither had he thought that if he had appeared before Jiang Xu, if Lin An Lan had met him first instead of Jiang Xu, then there have been a different outcome between them.
During his long unrequited crush, he had asked himself time and time again, was he not good enough? Was it that his personality wasn’t what Lin An Lan liked? Or was he simply not good enough for Lin An Lan?
But he never expected that one day, Lin An Lan would give him a definite answer.
The problem wasn’t with him, but with time.
He was eight years behind Jiang Xu, so he had spent eight years catching up with the time he had missed.
Although he was a little late, the good thing was that he had caught up in the end.
Even if it only seemed like he was catching up now.
“If only we had met earlier.” Cheng Yu sighed with emotion.
Lin An Lan nodded, but then reassured him, “It’s okay. Although it’s a little late, we still met. Besides, I’ve grown to trust you and like you.”
He looked at Cheng Yu with gentle eyes, “It’s clear that love has nothing to do with whether we met earlier or not, but only with you as a person.”
Cheng Yu hugged him tightly for a moment then looked at him with a depth of emotions.
His heart was beating fast, racing even, but he also felt a lack of self confidence.
“Do you love me?” He asked subconsciously as he stared at Lin An Lan.
Lin An Lan nodded, “Of course I do, you’re my boyfriend.”
“And what if I wasn’t your boyfriend?”
“I would still like you.” Lin An Lan laughed.
Cheng Yu didn’t dare believe it, “Really?”
Lin An Lan nodded, putting his worries to rest, “As long as it’s you, I’ll like you.”
His words were so gentle and sincere that Cheng Yu smiled unconsciously, his eyebrows soft and his eyes filled with the light of spring.
Lin An Lan hugged him, tilted his head and kissed his chin, “So you have to have faith in me, and in yourself.”
Cheng Yu nodded, wrapping his arms around him.
He hugged Lin An Lan, thinking to himself, ‘At least now, in his world, in front of his eyes, Lin An Lan really liked him and wouldn’t leave him.’
He looked down at Lin An Lan and saw himself, as well as his existence in the bottom of his eyes.
This was a hope that he had once longer for but had not seen before, but in this moment, it had finally come true.
The future was long, but he had no time to think about it. He only embraced Lin An Lan’s love for him, feeling that he was the happiest man in the whole world.
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