Lin An Lan took the painting out carefully and was surprised to find that what was underneath the painting wasn’t another painting, but albums.
Many large and small albums.
He picked one up, opened it and flipped through it page by page and was unable to believe it that the whole album was actually full of single pictures of himself.
He was lying on his desk in his school uniform, he was playing ball in the playground in his tracksuit, he had his head down doing his paper, he had turned his head as if he was talking to someone, he was walking forward alone, he was sitting silently on a double bar.
It was all him, only him. There was no Cheng Yu, no Jiang Xu, no one, just him.
Lin An Lan was shocked.
He picked up the second album and it also contained pictures of him, and only him.
There was a picture of him eating in the canteen, there was one of him reading in the library, and there was one of him at a sports event.
Every picture was of him, only him.
Did Cheng Yu secretly take so many single pictures of him?
Lin An Lan couldn’t tell what he felt for a moment. He was saddened, felt heartache, as well as a little overwhelmed.
He looked at the pictures one by one, and each one was like a period of his life. From his high school days to the present, at each period, he could find a corresponding picture in Cheng Yu’s albums.
The last album, was of pictures from last year.
There was a picture of him at an event, one of him on the street, and one of him in some place he didn’t know, yet Cheng Yu caught it.
Lin An Lan looked through the album patiently, until he came to the last page. He was wearing black short sleeves and was looking up at the sky. It was dark and there was no expression on his face.
It was the last picture in the whole album, so Lin An Lan turned it over and on it, he could see that Cheng Yu had written words in black neutral pen: I want him.
He didn’t write this on the back of every picture. He only did it occasionally, writing a few words on the back.
For example, on the prototype of his oil painting, he wrote on the back: School Singer Competition, An An won the first prize.
For example, the last one of his high school album, he wrote on the back: Graduation, I want to go to the same university as him.
So Lin An Lan didn’t pay much attention to it.
Closing the album, he put it back in the box and put the painting back in again.
However suddenly, Lin An Lan seemed to remember something and his hand that had been putting the oil painting down froze violently.
He picked the painting back up slowly, put it to his side and full of doubt, picked the last album he had just put back down up again.
Opening the album straight to the last picture, he looked at it incredulously, his eyes full of shock and disbelief.
On the bottom left corner of that picture, the date August 26th was displayed clearly.
Lin An Lan couldn’t believe it. Turning the picture over gently, he looked at the four big letters on the back of it and felt his body shudder involuntarily.
He felt cold, so cold that the hairs on his body seemed to stand up.
He couldn’t understand. Why was this happening?
I want him, why was it I want him?
What did that ‘want’ mean? To want meant to get what one didn’t have, to wish for it. To think was to have a good vision, to want was a wish.
However this word, shouldn’t appear here.
Lin An Lan remembered it well. He came to see Cheng Yu on the 29th of August.
He had asked Cheng Yu, “Are you my boyfriend?”
Cheng Yu had answered, ‘Yes’.
He told him, that they had established their relationship a week ago.
So why then, would he still write that ‘I want him’ on the 26th of August?
By that time, they were already lovers, so he didn’t need to want him, because he was already his boyfriend.
Lin An Lan’s hands trembling involuntarily, he flipped through the album again quickly. And it wasn’t on just this one, there were several others.
He could already be sure that this was almost a picture of him taken by Cheng Yu when he was secretly in love with him, from the perspective of one having a crush.
That was why Cheng Yu wasn’t in the picture and why Jiang Xu wasn’t in it either, because Cheng Yu was just taking a picture of his crush, hence no one else needed to make an appearance.
However if that was the case, then why did he take such a picture and make such an exclamation on the 26th of August when he was clearly already in a relationship with him?
Lin An Lan felt that his mind was in a tizzy, yet he felt he had never been more awake.
He thought of what Cheng Yu had said to him, “I changed my phone, so the records of our chats can’t be found, I’m sorry.”
He also thought of what Cheng Yu had said to him, “We were dating secretly, so no one knew we were in a relationship and we didn’t take any pictures together.”
He also thought of what Cheng Yu had said, “I’m afraid you’ll regret it later.”
He had been afraid that he would regret it if the two of them made love, and Cheng Yu had also rejected him, saying he was afraid he would regret it once he recovered his memories.
When he had argued with Jiang Xu and said he never wanted to see him again, Cheng Yu had advised him not to, saying that he was afraid he would regret it once he recovered his memories.
He had never understood before what there was to regret, but now he knew.
Lin An Lan felt a pang of pain in his heart.
He tried to find evidence to persuade himself, to convince himself that it wasn’t what he was thinking, that Cheng Yu wasn’t lying to him, but the more he thought about it, the more the past became clear.
Jiang Xu had said to him, “He lied to you, he is lying to you.”
“How can he be your boyfriend? Take a step back, would you fall in love with someone your best friend hates?”
“What proof does he have, what’s there to prove you’re his boyfriend except his words? Is there anyone who can testify that he is your boyfriend? Is there any physical evidence?”
“You guys didn’t even have a connection, none whatsoever!”
Lin An Lan felt something trickle out of his eyes. Looking down, he saw tears fall on the album with a ‘pop’, lines of water stains sliding down.
Wiping the tears from his eyes in silence, he closed the album and put it back in the box.
Cheng Yu had lied to him, he had lied to him.
He had always been perplexed. Why had he fallen in love with Cheng Yu when he knew that Jiang Xu and Cheng Yu had that kind of connection, when he knew that Jiang Xu couldn’t possibly want to see him and Cheng Yu together? How could he have entered into a relationship with Cheng Yu when he knew that doing so would muddy the waters even more and more?
He shouldn’t have provoked Jiang Xu like that, even if he knew that Jiang Xu had gone to see Cheng Feng behind his back, he shouldn’t have done such a thing to get back at Jiang Xu. It wasn’t necessary, as it would only make Jiang Xu’s hatred for Cheng Yu intensify.
What’s more, he shouldn’t have known it at that time.
Lin An Lan had always thought that something had happened in that period, that something else had occurred that he couldn’t recall that was why he was okay being in the relationship.
But now, he understood.
He hadn’t been with Cheng Yu at all, and he wasn’t wrong about what he knew about himself. What was wrong, was that he thought he was in a relationship with Cheng Yu.
He and Cheng Yu, weren’t lovers at all.
Cheng Yu wasn’t his boyfriend, he had never been his boyfriend.
Cheng Yu’s hands suddenly shook as he was eating, and inexplicably, for no apparent reason, he panicked.
The feeling wasn’t strong. It was vague, something Cheng Yu couldn’t ignore, yet he didn’t know why.
“Grandma, happy birthday.” Lifting up his cup of tea Yu Heng said to Old Lady Yu.
Old Lady Yu nodded repeatedly, “Good, good.”
Cheng Yu also smiled immediately, “Grandma, happy birthday.”
“Happy birthday to you too.”
Cheng Yu smiled and nodded, but was inexplicably worried.
Putting the box back down, Lin An Lan walked back to the bedroom.
He looked at the oil painting Cheng Yu had done that was on the bedroom wall. It was of him, immaculate, sitting happily among tulip flowers.
It had been painted by Cheng Yu when they were recording the variety show in E Country and then shipped home. He liked it so much that Cheng Yu hung it on the wall of his bedroom.
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