T/N: Another relatively short update this time, but hopefully its sweetness(?) makes up for the knives from the previous few weeks~ ( ˘ ³˘)
Day 04 21:45
Bubu had worn himself out from crying; with eyes red and swollen, he resembled a little bubble-eyed goldfish as he lay on Song Ran’s shoulder while fussing that he was tired. Song Ran picked him up, coaxing him with a soft and gentle voice, “Bubu, Big Brother will take you to wash up. We’ll go to sleep after washing, okay?”
Lacking energy, Bubu’s small head sleepily drooped.
Song Ran carried him to the bath, and only an empty bedroom remained in the monitoring display.
He Zhiyuan estimated that it would take the two of them at least half an hour before they’d come back out, so he went to the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee. When he came back with the coffee, Bubu had already finished washing and lay on the bed, wrapped in a small bath towel as he nodded off in fits and starts, while Song Ran stood in front of the wardrobe and rummaged through a large storage space filled with clothes.
“Pyjamas, pyjamas… where could the pyjamas be hidden?”
He mumbled as he searched.
His white T-shirt, which had been soaked by the bathwater, stuck translucently to his skin and revealed a slim waist. Perhaps because the wet shirt was sticking to him uncomfortably, Song Ran decided to simply grab the shirt hem and take it off.
He Zhiyuan’s throat bobbed; he unconsciously swallowed a mouthful of coffee.
Unexpectedly, Song Ran had a figure that would be considered not bad—his complexion was pale, and although his work ought to keep him indoors, his back muscles were well-proportioned and the lines of his shoulders were neat, looking youthful and vigorous; if he could make use of exercise machines, He Zhiyuan believed it would be even more worth looking at.
He Zhiyuan had worked out for fourteen years and held an ACE-issued professional private teaching certification, but until now, he hadn’t taught any students before. This time, the idea of training with Song Ran after returning home popped into his head.
Utterly unaware that he had already been completely seen by the other, Song Ran was still attentively performing the duties of a nanny. From the wardrobe, he pulled out a pair of small yellow duck pyjamas. After he grabbed the collar to pick it up and shake it out, he then picked up Bubu who had relaxed into a puddle. First, he put his little arms through the sleeves, then put his little legs into the pants legs, and finally buttoned up the buttons one by one.
Throughout the process, Bubu was in a state of slumber, melting in his embrace like candy floss and flopping back and forth as he allowed himself to be manipulated and made all sorts of comical poses; no matter how he was turned about, he wouldn’t wake up. Song Ran saw that the child had fallen asleep, so he gently tucked him into bed, but right as he pulled his hands away, Bubu jolted awake.
“Big Brother!” Bubu quickly latched onto one of his fingers and anxiously asked, “Are you leaving?”
Song Ran hurriedly replied, “I’m not leaving. I’ll come back after going outside to comfort Big Sister Lin Hui. She’s also crying, just like you. Bubu, sleep tight. I promise, the next time you open your eyes, I will definitely be sleeping next to you already.”
Bubu lifted his little finger. “Pinky promise!”
It was only after Song Ran made a pinky promise with him that he relaxed, lifted his head up for a goodnight kiss, rolled into the bed covers, and obediently went to sleep.
He Zhiyuan watched them, overcome with sentimentality—it had already been a very long time since something like this kind of simple yet tender interaction had taken place between Bubu and himself. Bubu was even more reliant on Song Ran than he had thought; in front of Song Ran, the child could take off his mask and hold out a young and fragile heart that could be understood as well as hope to be cared for. Compared to him, the biological father, it seemed that Song Ran was the person that Bubu could truly depend on.
The reality was depressing, but He Zhiyuan didn’t necessarily feel angry.
Rather than Song Ran, the one in the wrong was him.
After Bubu fell asleep, Song Ran made a trip to the bathroom, used the blow-dryer to dry his T-shirt, and put it back on.
Before going out, he saw the conspicuously-coloured children’s cell phone that had landed on the bed, its screen dark, and took it away with him.
Little Q, which had been squatting in the corner the whole time, saw that the observation target had changed locations and swiftly woke up from standby mode, following behind Song Ran as if it were his shadow. Song Ran wasn’t paying attention and carelessly shut the door. The door smacked Little Q with a ‘clunk’ and made it rotate thirty degrees, causing the monitoring display to shake violently and making He Zhiyuan’s living room look as though it was experiencing a spectacular magnitude-eight earthquake.
Mr He, who always paid close attention to demonstrations, frowned, put down his coffee cup, and wrote down a line in Little Q’s comments section: Shock absorption is too poor, requires optimisation.
Fortunately, Little Q was very sturdy, so nothing major occurred as a result of the collision. After a few seconds of being disoriented, it automatically corrected its travel direction and followed Song Ran out.
Lin Hui was dozing in the living room. When she saw Song Ran come out, the drowsiness disappeared from her eyes and she asked with concern, “How is Bubu? Is he still crying?”
“Not bad, he isn’t crying anymore.” Song Ran smiled as he pointed at his own head, “On the other hand, I’m not fine—almost all of my brain cells have died off.”
Lin Hui quickly scooted over to make space for him on the sofa. “It was that difficult?”
Song Ran lifted his eyebrows. “Of course! Comforting children is an art that takes up a lot of physical strength, especially when it comes to children like Bubu who are both smart and sensitive; with one wrong expression, the cat would be let out of the bag. After comforting him once, I won’t have the energy to tell lies for three days.”
He sat down next to Lin Hui and handed over the cell phone. “All right. In any case, I’ve already smoothed things over for you, so now you only have one obligation left—calling Mr He to apologise.”
As soon as Lin Hui heard this, she jumped three feet away like a spring. “No, no, no, I dare not!”
Song Ran asked, puzzled, “What about this do you dare not do?”
Lin Hui’s voice was as quiet as a mosquito’s buzz. “I… I’ll be fired.”
Song Ran could not stop laughing. He forced open her five fingers and stuffed the cell phone into her hand. “If you don’t call, then you won’t be fired? That logic doesn’t hold water. If Mr He really wanted to dismiss you, even acting deaf and dumb would be useless. Hurry up! It’ll be the same result regardless, so be brave and call.”
“Don’t want to!” Lin Hui tried to avoid it, tossing the cell phone back to him as if it were a hot potato that burnt her hand. “If I get fired, then I get fired. In the worst case scenario, I’ll pack up and go. If I call and apologise, I’d suffer an extra scolding. Such a bad deal, no way I’d do it!”
Song Ran seemed to think deeply before waving her over. “Come, sit here. Let’s talk about this problem.”
Lin Hui reluctantly moved ten centimetres closer.
Seeing her reluctance, Song Ran took the initiative to sit closer, and he sincerely looked at her. “Lin Hui, regardless of what decision Mr He makes in the end, apologising is a procedure that you can’t avoid. First of all, you’re an employee from the housekeeping company. After making a mistake at work, it’s the company’s image that gets harmed, so at the very least you should apologise to redeem it a little, right? Second of all, Mr He is Bubu’s father. You made Bubu cry, and he’s out of the country, so he can neither see nor touch—imagine how anxious he must be. Now that the child is fine, isn’t it a given that you should call to report that everything is well and let him be at ease?”
Terribly conflicted, Lin Hui smoothed the ends of her hair for a good while without replying—she understood all the reasoning, but… she was so scared.
Song Ran encouraged her, “Don’t be afraid, Mr He isn’t a vicious person. He is a gentleman and very reasonable. If you wholeheartedly apologise to him, he won’t make you feel uncomfortable.”
Lin Hui was dubious. “Really?”
After struggling for a long time, she still lacked courage and thus tried to bargain with Song Ran. “You’re so familiar with Bubu, so you must also be pretty familiar with Mr He, right? How about you convey my apology for me?”
Song Ran awkwardly smiled. “Other things are fine, but in this matter, I really can’t. That is… as for me, I’ve been blacklisted by him.”
As he spoke, he rubbed at his neck.
Lin Hui asked what had happened in astonishment. He shrugged his shoulders, embarrassedly explaining, “It’s just… Our, our neighbourly relationship isn’t too good. A few days ago, we had an argument. The argument got heated, and our positive feelings accidentally turned negative. Now, he particularly dislikes me—he hangs up the phone as soon as he hears my voice. If I personally apologise for you, I bet that not only will you lose the job, you’ll also have to pay an extra bit of money.”
Lin Hui was shocked. “It’s that bad? Didn’t you say that he wouldn’t make people feel uncomfortable?”
Song Ran was slapped in the face at light speed. Considerably embarrassed, he could only drag himself through the mud. “Uh, that’s… I’m a special case, the type that’s especially dislikeable.”
Lin Hui immediately poured a bucket of clean water over him. “How could that be? You’re especially likeable! Look, you are so handsome and good-tempered, have a decent physique on top of that, and you can coax children. Altogether, you could be rated four-and-a-half stars. You’d definitely be in demand on the dating market. If Mr He doesn’t like you, then he is blind. I like you… D-do you have a girlfriend?”
Song Ran saw that she was straying off-topic and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Don’t get distracted. Go make the call.”
Lin Hui pursued relentlessly, “Do you have one or not?”
The young lady became excited right away, pink hearts emanating from her eyes. “What a coincidence! I also don’t have a boyfriend. How about we give it a try?”
The love confession came without warning like a surging tide, similar to a sudden thunderstorm. Song Ran was choked by her blazing ardour, dry-coughing as he repeated, “Make… make that call first. We can talk about other things later.”
Lin Hui took advantage of the opening. “Answer me first!”
“I…” Unable to ward her off, Song Ran was compelled to use the Infiniti god. “Lin Hui, I may indeed be single, but there is someone that I secretly like and am currently pursuing. Perhaps I’ll be taken off the market someday, so I can’t associate with you. Understand?”
Lin Hui’s face fell, and she gloomily turned away. “I understand. Won’t call.”
No matter how good Song Ran’s temper was, even he was irritated at this point. Feeling suffocated and burning with anger, he itched to kneel down and beg her. “Lin Hui, how old are you? Can’t you have a little sense of responsibility? You made someone else’s child cry—fine, that’s okay, I’ll help you soothe. Now that I’m done, you aren’t even willing to make a call and report that everything is fine now? Aren’t you afraid that Papa He will be worried?”
Lin Hui mumbled, “Make the call for me.”
Song Ran suddenly flopped onto the sofa and covered his forehead with one hand. “Should I, a blacklisted person, call and upset him even more?”
Lin Hui clutched her skirt with both hands, pathetically lowered her head, and squirmed but said nothing. Completely exhausted by her, Song Ran raised a white flag, admitting defeat as he sighed, “Fine. If you won’t call, then I’ll call.”
After saying this, he moved to take the cell phone.
“Don’t, don’t, isn’t it fine if I call?!”
Lin Hui was afraid that he would get angry, so she snatched the cell phone and pressed the dial button with lightning-quick speed. The screen lit up, and a line of extremely frightening big characters popped up—current call time: 1:39:15.
The two of them stared at the screen, both petrified.
As the saying went, true warriors had the courage to face a bleak life head-on and had the courage to face dripping fresh blood head-on.
Unfortunately, Song Ran was not a warrior.
In reality, he only took one second to recognize his own identity as a coward before fleeing; after opening a door at random, he flung the heavy bombshell to Lin Hui and abandoned her to face it on her own.
He leaned against a wall in the darkness and breathed heavily, cheeks burning hot.
Within that one hour and thirty-nine minutes and eighteen seconds… what did he talk about? He distorted Lin Hui’s intentions, told a big pack of childish lies, fabricated Mr He’s ‘guilty conscience’ out of thin air, and exceeded his authority by writing a bunch of blank checks in Mr He’s name: accompanying Bubu to build toy cars, telling Bubu stories, allowing Bubu to raise a kitten… The worst part was that just a minute ago, he had cursed Mr He’s pettiness, saying that he didn’t pick up the phone and had even blacklisted him!
This time, he was really going to die.