T/N: Please mind the NSFW marker! Not that anything actually happens per se, but…
Day 09 22:16
In the bathroom on the second floor, warm air rose and curling wisps of mist dispersed.
The frosted glass door’s surface was covered with water streak marks as countless water droplets sprayed onto the door like falling rain and cluster after cluster of droplets slid down. Behind the door was the indistinct shape of a naked male body: tall, strong, sturdy-figured, and sexy.
He swiftly rinsed his body, movements lacking even a hint of sluggishness.
The screen of the cell phone on the windowsill suddenly lit up, and it promptly began to vibrate. Its ring tone was unchanged; it was the system default incoming call tone. The shower door was immediately pushed half-open, and a lean and strong arm reached out from amidst the hazy water vapour, taking the cell phone in.
He Zhiyuan accepted the call and put it next to his ear. “Song Ran?”
Fine streams of water came out of the shower head above, flowing along the locks of wet hair and down the glass screen.
On the other end, Song Ran heard the pattering water sounds and asked, “What are you doing?”
“I’m showering. After I’m done washing, I’m going to work.”
He Zhiyuan tilted his head back, allowing the warm water to fall down into his face, and forcefully rubbed his hair with his free hand; his expression was a satisfied one, with a hint of a teasing smile on the corners of his lips. “My cell phone isn’t waterproof. It can only endure for ten seconds, so if you have anything you want to say… you must be as quick as possible.”
The implication was, Give me an answer within ten seconds.
Song Ran was already nervous; he hadn’t planned out his words, and with the additional pressure from the time limit, he predictably started to stammer again. He went ‘I-I-I’ for a while, but no matter what, he couldn’t force out the words ‘I’m willing’. The more stuck he got, the more vexed he became; at last, he smacked his head against the headboard and shouted, “I’m sorry!”
He Zhiyuan’s fingers stiffened, tugging out several hairs.
What did that mean? Had he been rejected?
“Nonononono, it’s not that I’m sorry!”
Song Ran covered his mouth with a hand, closed his eyes, and took ten or so repeated deep breaths. At last, with a heart rate of over 120 BPM, he raised his voice to shout, “I’m willing to be with you and help you raise Bubu!”
He Zhiyuan soundlessly released his breath, turned off the shower head, and said softly, “I’m very happy to hear such good news first thing in the morning.”
He stepped out of the shower room, bare feet treading on the champagne-coloured rug, then reached out to grab a towel and began to dry his hair.
Song Ran heard it become quiet on the other side, and his heart abruptly jumped. “Are… you done washing?”
“Mm-hm, I’m done washing.”
Done washing. That meant… Mr He was completely naked now.
Song Ran kneeled on the bed, five fingers tightly grasping the bedding, and a pink hue spread across the roots of his ears like diffusing ink. He could not help imagining some attractive R-rated images such as a wet chest, a bobbing Adam’s apple, and fiercely-flexing abs, but he didn’t know reality was even more nosebleed-inducing than his fantasies.
How eye-catching was He Zhiyuan’s figure?
When he was attending school, he had participated in a pool party. Because he was afraid of the heat, he laid in a sun chair in a corner for a while, drinking half a cup of low-alcohol fruit wine; without doing anything else, he had hooked a pool’s worth of bikini mermaids.
Even now, his consistent exercise habit allowed him to maintain his physique in peak condition—his pectorals were tight yet elastic, and he could freely control their movements; his back muscles were broad and thick, covering the shoulder blades like a suit of armour; his tapering waist was narrow yet strong, presenting a beautiful inverted triangle shape; the shapes of his abs were clearly demarcated, and each one had lively vitality, expanding and contracting with the regular rhythm of his breaths to naturally rise and fall.
With this kind of physique, the degree of his sex appeal was definitely not inferior to those of the oil-slathered male models in magazines.
Song Ran was a little virgin who couldn’t stand being teased; simply having the vaguest thoughts about gay sex made his state of mind go wild. When He Zhiyuan heard that the rhythm of his breathing had changed, he lowered his head and smiled, then decided to stop this conversation topic before the ambiguous atmosphere intensified.
He had a sense of propriety.
To be teased from afar but unable to actually partake would distress Song Ran, and he himself wouldn’t feel comfortable either. He should leave the appeal intact and wait until they meet in the future, then slowly enjoy it.
He grabbed the towel and wiped downwards; by the time he reached the back of his waist, he had thought of a new conversation topic. “Now that we’ve defined our relationship, do you want to think about changing to a more intimate form of address?”
Upon hearing those words, Song Ran was immediately struck dumb.
Apart from ‘Mr He’, how else could he call the other party? This seemed a bit difficult.
“That… A more intimate form of address, right?” Throwing away his moral integrity, Song Ran began to brainstorm by himself, and in a short while, he came up with two alternatives that he tentatively submitted to the decision-making party. “Would you prefer that I call you, uh, Zhiyuan… or H-hubby?”
He Zhiyuan barely avoided falling over in the bathroom.
What he had been referring to was of course ‘Zhiyuan’, but never in his wildest imaginings did he think that, as soon as Song Ran opened his mouth, the word ‘Hubby’ could directly jump out. When he heard that word, a stream of warm blood rushed south, and a certain part that had been covered by the bath towel immediately went from half-hard to fully hard, even jumping with vim and vigour.
A virgin flirting like this would be too much even for a god.
Song Ran’s experience in this field was too scanty; unaware that he had provoked the other to the bursting point, he was still very shyly waiting for a response, thinking that if He Zhiyuan unfortunately picked ‘Hubby’, then he was afraid he could only say ‘hey’ as a substitute address in the future, and that wouldn’t even be as good as ‘Mr He’.
He Zhiyuan carelessly wiped himself down and tossed away the bath towel, then said rather helplessly, “No need to change it. I think ‘Mr He’ is pretty pleasing to the ear, so you… you can address me that way.”
His voice was extremely hoarse, as if he hadn’t had any water for three days.
He returned to the bedroom, changed the cell phone to hands-free mode and put it on the bed, then opened the closet and dug out a pair of clean briefs.
In his present state, it wasn’t too easy to wear underpants.
His stimulated cock already became completely erect, approaching a 180-degree upward angle. The shaft was subtly curved back, its shape resembling a goose’s neck, and the tip nearly touched his abdomen; it was so hard and swollen that it hurt. When He Zhiyuan bent down and put on his underpants, a small portion of his cock bulged out from the waistband; the edge of the fabric just happened to restrain the bright red tip, occasionally chafing the slit, which made it very uncomfortable.
He adjusted its position with his hand, trying to push it to one side somewhat, but he still couldn’t stuff it in, so he had no choice but to change into a pair of boxers; only then did he manage to contain the energetic member.
After five years of not being in a relationship, he had resigned himself to singledom. If Song Ran continued to be unable to clearly recognise the situation, leisurely saying a couple of pure and cute things to tease him, perhaps on their wedding night he’d be so spent that nothing would come out even if he cried.
Over the phone, Song Ran felt a chill and inexplicably shivered, then hastened to snatch up a blanket and securely wrap himself up.
He reached up to touch his forehead; it was pretty hot, and his fever hadn’t seemed to have subsided, so why did he suddenly feel cold?
On this end of the phone, He Zhiyuan was only wearing a pair of underpants as he blow-dried his hair, revealing a strong figure. On that end of the phone, Song Ran was kneeling on the bed, forgetting neither pyjama top nor pyjama bottoms, and he had even wrapped himself into a big zongzi1Glutinous rice stuffed with filling and wrapped in bamboo leaves in his multiple layers of clothing.
“Mr He, I… I have an immature little question.”
Song Ran uneasily raised his hand. Beneath the blanket, his feet moved back and forth, his fair-skinned five left toes hooking around his right toes.
He Zhiyuan straightened up and turned off the hair dryer. “Go ahead.”
Song Ran asked, “Do you really like me? I’m completely ordinary and don’t have many good points. If you go out on the street and stick out a bamboo pole at random, you’d be able to stick a whole skewer of people like me. I haven’t been in love before, so this is the first time, and my heart is especially unsure. If a few months go by and you aren’t happy being with me, want to change for someone better, and mention breaking up… I won’t be able to bear it.”
“I really do like you, and it’s impossible that I’d change partners in a few months.”
He Zhiyuan didn’t hesitate to give him the most direct affirmative reply. “Before you appeared, I was single for a full five years. You’re the first person to make me want to form a family. If I see you trivially, what I’d be defiling would be my own feelings.”
He stood in front of the closet, fingers sliding past a row of ironed solid-colour button-up shirts one after another as he said solemnly, “I’m not looking for a bed partner or a lover. Song Ran, I put you in two roles simultaneously: one is to accompany Bubu as he grows up, and the other is to sleep in my arms at night. This is the person with whom I will be the most intimate and trust the most for the rest of my life, so I wouldn’t act recklessly. Perhaps I didn’t spend enough time thinking about it and made the decision in the span of a moment, causing you to feel uneasy, but I guarantee that my promise is valid for life.”
As Song Ran listened to He Zhiyuan say these words, he felt a bit like crying for some reason.
He stewed for a while, then murmured in a small voice, “Mr He, I haven’t really studied properly before. I’ve only completed junior high.”
He Zhiyuan smiled. “I don’t mind.”
“Moreover, I don’t receive a steady stream of jobs, and the money I earn isn’t enough to support even myself.”
He Zhiyuan encouraged him. “You’re still young. It’ll increase from now on.”
“Then… I’m still sick. When I have nothing to do, I like to count, and as soon as I start, I can’t stop…”
He Zhiyuan became somewhat irritated. “Sicknesses can be cured, and even if it really can’t be cured, I don’t mind it.”
Song Ran was soon unable to outspeak him, so with one vigorous effort, he burned his bridges. “I-I speak roughly. Last time, I even scolded you for being an idiot!”
He Zhiyuan abruptly shut his eyes and gritted his teeth, and veins began to protrude on his forehead as he lifted his hand to fiercely yank down a silver-grey button-up shirt. The bare clothes hanger violently swayed on the bar, practically verging on flying out.
“Do you really think I can’t cure you?” He turned around and hurled the shirt onto the bed, braced one hand against the bed, grabbed the cell phone, and growled at the other party, “Song Ran, I’m thirty-one years old this year, so I’ve long ago passed the age of always saying the words ‘like’ or ‘dislike’. Since you’re forcing me to be somewhat childish, fine! I’ll say it for you to hear: junior high education, can’t support yourself, have an illness, scolded me for being an idiot… I don’t care at all about any of these! I just want you, understand?!”
Song Ran dumbly grabbed at the blanket on his chest and slowly blinked. Then, his face swiftly reddened and his heart thumped wildly, turning him into a boiling kettle.
“I… I understand.”
He Zhiyuan sharply asked, “In the future, will you still talk nonsense?”
Song Ran shook his head madly. “I-I won’t!”
At last, the atmosphere settled down, and the smell of gunpowder that was on the verge of exploding receded. As Song Ran held the cell phone, he seemed to have become covered in an immobilising kasaya2Robes that fully-ordained Buddhist monks and nuns wear and resembled a statue carved on the bed. For a long time, he didn’t dare to move out of his nest by even an inch. In his ears, the sound lingered, with one sentence looping around thousands of times, full of He Zhiyuan’s angry sound—I just want you!
Song Ran gently patted his chest area, tears almost falling; he only wanted to give He Zhiyuan a yellow card.
This was too much of a foul.
Previously, whenever Mr He scolded him, he would be depressed for at least a whole day; however, when Mr He scolded him now, he was practically faint with happiness—was this the feeling of falling in love?
He fell backwards onto the bed, then bit down on a corner of the duvet and continuously rolled around several times. After that, he inched to the side of the bed and reached out to turn off the overhead light—he wanted to hide in the dark and listen to He Zhiyuan speak words of love to him with that magnetic voice.
Speak them for him alone to hear.
This outstanding man, his voice, and his love all belonged to him alone. Looking around, one could not find a man better than Mr He in the whole world.
Song Ran’s excitement was difficult to restrain; wrapped in the beige blanket, he rolled over twice more.
But all of a sudden, his movements froze.
Was it really not possible to find one?
He laid there without moving a muscle, looking at the pitch-black ceiling. It resembled a curtain that was slowly being pulled open to either side, and on the softly-glowing screen was that profound and brilliant face in the car window beneath the sunlight that he thought about from dawn to dusk.