The busy life of the research institute began again. He was interviewed almost every day, and attended various international conferences and gave various kinds of lectures every month. Indeed, as Feng Hua had said, he would no longer restrict Feng Yeran from seeing Chen Xuan. He would also ask for rewards after doing things for Feng Yeran. For example, he would ask Feng Yeran to hold hands with him, squeeze his shoulders, give him baths, wash his clothes, cook for him, tell him stories, watch movies with him, sleep with him, and, if he’d done something more difficult, he would even ask for kisses.
Chen Xuan also began to make contact with Feng Hua with a plan. Fortunately, Feng Hua didn’t seem to resist her very much now. Everyone was saying that Feng Hua was becoming more and more mature. Finally, with the arrival of spring, a documentary on Feng Hua’s supernormal powers began to be recorded.
The first season was called The Dream Maker and had only five episodes. It mainly consisted of Feng Hua recreating the experimenters’ dreams, from simple dreams to complex dreams, from ones that were intermittent to ones with plotlines, from the mundane to the thrilling.
The program had only released five episodes, and it had achieved huge success, especially on the internet where teenage girls were about to explode. For them, this young Adesir man with a fantastic face, a great figure, a terribly charming voice, and even supernormal powers was simply their dream lover. Sisters and housewives in their twenties and thirties were discussing whether Feng Hua was a little puppy dog1小奶狗 [xiǎo nǎi gǒu] refers to young, clingy, cute, sunny boys. or a little wolf dog2小狼狗 [xiǎo láng gǒu] refers to younger but handsome, cool, domineering boys., and younger girls were making up all sorts of fan comics and novels; some plastic surgery hospitals began to study Feng Hua’s “template”, because many people came to them and said they wanted to look like Feng Hua; some people on academic websites claimed that Feng Hua had the royal bloodline of Adesir, which was very popular among readers even though there wasn’t much basis for it, and this news was trending as soon as it came out.
The teaser for the second season, titled The Creator, was then promoted all over the internet, and it mainly introduced Feng Hua’s ability of replication. Due to the first season’s excellent ratings, it was decided that there would be ten episodes for the second season, starting with replications of simple still objects, such as a flower, a sapling and a rock, and then a glass of water, a fish, a bird, two rabbits, three monkeys… It was said that he would replicate a person in the last episode, which made everyone excited.
Feng Hua’s fame was growing, even more than most celebrities.
Along with his fame, he was granted more privileges and was given increasing freedom. He had a communication device, a place to live under his own name, and could go out with Feng Yeran without restriction.
One day in the middle of summer, he had just finished shooting The Creator and went to a well-known university in America with Feng Yeran to attend an international conference. After it was over, Feng Yeran and the scholars were chatting happily. Feng Hua walked out first, wandered around the campus, and occasionally listened at the door to what the teachers in the classrooms were saying.
Some were talking about quantum physics, some were talking about biology, and some were talking about philosophy.
Feng Hua stood at the back door, watching a blonde and blue-eyed female professor point to a three-dimensional image as she said in standard English, “This is a famous painting from hundreds of years ago. The only thing you can see are the eyes. Is it male or female, good or evil?”
Student: “Because the eyes are fierce, like a woman’s eyes, and the eyelashes are so long.” There was a burst of laughter.
The picture got bigger. Now, everyone could see its face and part of its movements.
“It’s actually a man, such a pretty man. Although he doesn’t have much expression, it looks as if he’s in pain. He must be a believer. He’s holding something like a cross in his hand. Is he reciting the Bible?”
Professor: “Look, the cross has pierced his heart. He’s a devil.”
Student: “It’s a set-up. I don’t think he’s a devil.”
Professor: “Yes, though the cross has pierced his heart, you see—”
Student: “Ah, he’s actually an angel, and the demon’s the one behind him. The cross pierced him and the demon behind him!”
Student: “So, is this painting about an angel and a demon dying together?”
Professor: “Look again.”
Student: “…There’s even a mirror as well. This angel is looking in the mirror, and then sees the past or the future?”
It was quite interesting. Feng Hua listened for a few minutes, and then went on. He accidentally ran into Sean. The two were already very familiar with each other. Because of the existence of this ‘paparazzi’ Sean, Feng Hua would know the details of Feng Yeran’s life even when he was separated from him.
Sean wrapped his arms around Feng Hua. “Little Huahua, do you have any food? I’m starving, starving!”
“No, go away.”
“Don’t be so cold. Say, aren’t you hungry? You don’t eat much and can still grow that tall?” Sean said while gesturing. He was nearly 180cm himself, but Feng Hua was clearly a little taller than him. “You’re growing too fast, aren’t you? When I first saw you, you were still a tiny little thing.”
“You’ve put on weight too.”
“…I’ve always been sturdy, okay!”
The two of them walked into a dense grove as they talked to each other, and many towering trees, dense shrubs and fine wildflowers were dotted around.
The deeper they went, the more they could hear the lively sound of insects buzzing and chirping. It had just rained and it was obvious that these insects were enjoying their revelry in the forest.
Sean was very excited. He snapped his fingers. “Look, these shameless guys are mating in full view. God, how many has that got to be?”
“Millions, I guess,” replied a boy. He had caught a cage of grasshoppers. And those crazy grasshoppers, even though they’d been caught in the cage, were still struggling to overlap one over the other, their red wings and green legs overlapping each other, their dark red eyes staring at their captor.
And all through the thick woods was this view—millions of grasshoppers overlapping and crazily mating in the crevices of the trees, those dense, silly, dark red eyes everywhere.
A blonde girl in a pink dress was clearly disgusted. She pointed to the groups of white butterflies and exclaimed, “It’s butterflies which are better. Sure enough, the most pure and beautiful creatures in this world are butterflies. Look, what a joyful dance they’re dancing. Looking at them like this, these jade-white butterflies are just like white clouds. Unlike grasshoppers, who are so shameless.”
But Sean immediately laughed. “But girl, you obviously think too much. You think these butterflies are purely celebrating their happiness, but that’s not the case. They’re actually chasing evil sex, just like these shameless grasshoppers.”
“You’re bullshitting!” The girl was unhappy.
Sean was stirred up.
Feng Hua immediately stopped him. “You cut it out.”
The girl said, “…Even, even if they’re just mating, at least they’re happy together.”
“Just let me say it. It’s not like it’s gonna hurt.” Sean stood up, with a confident look on his face, as if he were a professor in a classroom. “But are they really happy together? Dear girl, tomorrow morning, or tomorrow night, these millions of insects, including your beautiful, pure butterflies, will all be dead.”
“I’m not bullshitting. If you don’t believe me, come look for them the day after tomorrow to see if they’re still there. Of course, you’ll find a few grasshoppers and butterflies here and there, but they’re new. You rarely notice the thousands of corpses buried in the earth.” Sean caught a grasshopper and played with it as he said, “Maybe, they won’t even live to tomorrow night. They might die from mating too fiercely, die from fighting each other, kill each other, kill themselves, and maybe even be eaten by birds… Girl, don’t you see? Those birds standing in the trees are staring at these wantonly mating insects. Maybe they’ll swoop down and bite them to death as soon as we leave.3Author’s Note: The grasshopper and butterfly passages are taken from The Golden Notebook, Chinese version P413, Paul’s words.“
The girl was so scared that she pulled the boy to run ahead, and it wasn’t long before they were out of sight.
Feng Hua was speechless. “Why did you scare them?”
Sean let the grasshopper go and said helplessly, “I didn’t scare them. I was telling the truth. Nature is just that cruel. Speaking of which—don’t you think the person you like is cruel to you too?”
Feng Hua raised an eyebrow. “What are you trying to say?”
“Are you satisfied now?”
“It’s fine the way it is now. I can be with him, he’s nice to me, and he hardly ever refuses anything I want.”
“You really think so? Your relationship seems very peaceful, as if he thinks a lot for you, and he loves you very much—of course, just the love of a father for his son, the love of a creator for his creation, and he must cherish you, must force himself to satisfy you. Why? Because of your value! You are his most precious experiment, and not only that, you can help him treat his cancer and make his career a great success. At least for several years, no experiment can replace you. But once one appears, what do you think will happen to you? Humans are changeable.”
Feng Hua instantly recalled that vague memory. At that time, he was dazedly passing through the corridors of the research institute when he heard Feng Yeran’s conversation with the director. Although it was intermittent, he could still infer that Feng Yeran said that it’d take at least three more years to produce a substitute for Feng Hua. At that time, he would… His head began to throb again.
Several seconds passed before he spoke in a low voice, his voice tinged with mockery. “I know that I have only a short value of use to him. But so what. I just have to be strong enough that he can’t abandon me and has to ask for help from me—”
“So you’re willing for things to be like this? That he’s still keeping a lover’s relationship with Chen Xuan now? If they really get married in the future, could you really bear it? Even if Feng Yeran doesn’t refuse you, what about Chen Xuan? What woman could accept her husband being loved by another man? And for the two of them to see each other and stay together every day?”
Feng Hua looked at the forest that contained millions of grasshoppers. “Sean, it’s great that you can see the cruelty underneath the beauty, but jumping up and fighting back isn’t necessarily the best move. What’s more important is to endure, become accustomed to the cruelty, step over these buried corpses, and silently achieve your purpose in what appears to be the purest of guises.”
Sean looked at Feng Hua in surprise and was silent for several seconds before he said, “Well done.”
He scratched his head and suddenly said, “I have a good idea to help you defeat your love rival!”
With that, he moved to Feng Hua’s ear and spoke excitedly.
Feng Hua’s eyes were hazy. “No. Absolutely not.”
“You haven’t even done it yet. Why do you think not??”
“I won’t do anything against Ye’er.”
With that, Feng Hua walked away.
Sean had a discontent look on his face. A rock flew over, and it turned out to be from the vengeful boy. Sean jumped up and rushed over, running wild like a child who hadn’t grown up.
Feng Hua stood under the warm setting sun for a while, then heard a familiar voice.
“Feng Hua, so you’re here. It’s been looking for you for ages.” It was Feng Yeran’s voice.
“I came over for a walk. How was the meeting?”
“It was very successful. They completely accepted our proposal. Feng Hua, you’ve done a great job today. Those big shots appreciate you very much.”
“I also shot the documentary yesterday afternoon and just slept on the plane last night.”
“Yeah, you came to America with me for an international conference just after shooting a documentary episode. You must be exhausted.”
“Yeah, very, very exhausted. So, give me a reward.”
Just hearing the word ‘reward’, Feng Yeran’s ears were red. He was hoping in his heart that Feng Hua just wanted a big hug or some other simple request. But then he could read something from this ambiguous atmosphere.
His cool hands were held in Feng Hua’s, and as soon as he looked up, he met Feng Hua’s beautiful eyes.
His black eyelashes were long, his pupils were slightly dilated, and his normally blue irises had turned deep and dark blue, inexplicably blending with the gradually deepening blue sky. It seemed that even the fantastical light of the setting sun was rendered in those eyes.
The sun set into the mountains, and blue and purple instantly covered the whole world, with jade-white butterflies dancing around the two and insects chirping.
“I’ve finished recording episode eight. I want a kiss.”
“Do you agree?”
After ten seconds or so, Feng Yeran closed his eyes in resignation. “I agree.”
But Feng Hua didn’t kiss him on the lips. He lowered his head and planted his lips on Feng Yeran’s forehead.
Feng Yeran opened his eyes in surprise, as if he hadn’t expected it.
Feng Hua looked at him with his head cocked and continued, “I went to America with you for an international conference and performed well. I want a second kiss. Do you agree?”
Feng Hua tilted his head sideways and lightly kissed Feng Yeran’s cheek.
Feng Yeran smiled. It was clear that he not only didn’t reject it, but also liked it. No matter how tall Feng Hua became, he was like this now, still like that little child who liked to be pampered, his incomparably cute little Feng Hua.
Feng Yeran couldn’t help rubbing his hair. He murmured, “So good, so good.”
Feng Hua was silent for a while. He said seriously under Feng Yeran’s paws, “This week, I attended three big conferences, was interviewed five times, shot a documentary for two days, and read a lot of books for the last episode’s replication… So Ye’er, I also want a third kiss.”
Before Feng Yeran’s lips could close, they were sealed by Feng Hua’s lips.
Feng Hua wrapped his arms around Feng Yeran’s back and kissed him amidst millions of butterflies in the gradually brightening moonlight, as gently as if he were kissing a fragile work of art.
Feng Yeran had originally just felt embarrassed, but as his chest stuck close to Feng Hua, Feng Hua’s heartbeat shocked him.
Thump… thump… thump… thump…
He hadn’t expected the seemingly calm Feng Hua’s heartbeat to be so rapid.
His breaths so hot.
Feng Yeran truly felt that Feng Hua loved him, fervently loved him.
Then, soon, his heartbeat also surged up and his breath caught.
The kiss wasn’t long.
But when Feng Hua’s lips left him, Feng Yeran didn’t push Feng Hua away. Instead, he hugged him back.
“Ye’er?” Feng Hua was a little surprised.
Feng Yeran seemed to wake up from a big dream. He immediately took back his hand and froze for a few seconds, before saying, “Let’s go back.”
Feng Hua’s eyes, which had just started to shine with joy, darkened some more. “Okay.”
- 1小奶狗 [xiǎo nǎi gǒu] refers to young, clingy, cute, sunny boys.
- 2小狼狗 [xiǎo láng gǒu] refers to younger but handsome, cool, domineering boys.
- 3Author’s Note: The grasshopper and butterfly passages are taken from The Golden Notebook, Chinese version P413, Paul’s words.