T/N: Editor: Mimishijie
Day 12 18:02
Actually, Song Ran couldn’t be blamed for his fanciful thoughts.
Bubu’s birth mother’s identity, appearance, and reason for parting company with Mr He were all mysteries, and her role was also the one with the best chance to make an unexpected return and snatch what he cherished. Song Ran’s precious small family had just been constructed, and its foundation was not yet stable; the two key partners had only signed a verbal contract over the phone. Firstly, they had never met before, and secondly, they had never slept together. The revolutionary friendship was still in its infancy and incapable of blocking the hidden boss from doing such a thing, so of course he would be afraid.
This time, when the skylight was thrown wide open and the unvarnished truth was spoken, apart from Mr He’s promise, the sexual orientation of Bubu’s biological mother was also like a tube of cardiotonic1A substance that has a favourable effect upon the action of the heart, allowing Song Ran to regain peace of mind.
Having moved aside the towering mountain of ‘biological mother snatching the son’ that had been weighing upon his heart, Song Ran was euphoric. In the afternoon, he completed several illustrations in a row as if he’d been injected with chicken blood, and every single one of them was exquisite, warm, and worthy of commendations. In the evening, he didn’t even cook; riding the bicycle, he took Bubu to eat a meal of fried chicken and fries (which Mr He strongly recommended against) and to the Palace Cinema to watch a Disney animated film.
Bubu was over the moon with joy. With both of his little cheeks stuffed full of popcorn, he came close and planted a fierce kiss.
“Big Brother, you’re really nice!”
As soon as he opened his mouth, fragments of popcorn rustled as they spilled down Song Ran’s neck like rain.
After feeding the cat and bathing when they returned home at night, the two of them lay belly-down on the bed and read stories. When the stories were finished, Song Ran put on an act and tentatively asked Bubu, “Do you have a little sister?”
“Yeah!” Bubu proudly nodded. “My little sister is super beautiful! We have pictures, so I’ll show them to you if you don’t believe me!”
Without waiting for Song Ran to say the words ‘I believe’, he deftly jumped out of bed and ran barefoot out of the bedroom.
“You aren’t wearing shoes again!”
Song Ran’s temper flared; he bent down to pick up a pair of slippers and gave chase. Lying on its belly with paws tucked underneath, Bu Doudou calmly watched them run across the living room, one in front and one behind.
At last, the slippers had been put on and the photos had been brought over.
Bubu crawled into Song Ran’s arms and held up the photo for him to see—a lake and a dock served as the background, two long-haired young women in wedding dresses sat on the shore while holding an exquisitely fine little girl in their arms, and a loyal and handsome big golden retriever wearing a small top hat and little bow tie lay belly-down next to them.
Bubu pointed to the little girl, introducing her. “This is my little sister, Ashley. Her hair is blonde and her eyes are blue. Is she pretty?”
“She is,” Song Ran sincerely praised. “She’s especially pretty.”
Basking in the reflected glory, Bubu arrogantly said, “That’s obvious, she’s my little sister!”
“Yep yep yep, Bubu’s little sister is the most beautiful.”
Song Ran agreed to make him happy.
After that, Bubu pointed to the two young ladies in the photo. “This is my mom, and this is Ashley’s mom. They got married last autumn in Auckland.”
Just as He Zhiyuan described, Lu Jin was a lovely Eastern beauty, with doe eyes, pretty eyebrows, and a gentle and quiet disposition—the genes from both sides were so outstanding that it was no wonder little Bubu was so likeable. The Irish girl next to Lu Jin was much brighter, with eight teeth showing in her smile and chin slightly lifted; she appeared spirited and showy.
Their appearances were pleasing, but Song Ran couldn’t like them.
He thought that if they made the correct choice at the start and hadn’t deceived He Zhiyuan, he would’ve liked them a bit more—even if it was only due to precisely this deception that Bubu was able to come into the world.
Song Ran admitted that he was someone who bore grudges; he had a heart as small as a pinhole and wasn’t magnanimous like He Zhiyuan. Or in other words, he wasn’t powerful enough to be at He Zhiyuan’s level, standing up high and granting leniency to the other party. He Zhiyuan chose reconciliation—perhaps for innocent Ashley, perhaps he wanted to give Bubu a continued amiable ‘parental relationship’, or perhaps it truly was water under the bridge and he had stopped caring about it long ago.
But he couldn’t.
As soon as he thought of the words ‘deceived for sperm’, it was practically like a fish bone stuck in his throat—during the time when Song Ran did not yet know him, the man he admired, the partner he held hands with, had experienced abominable deception and humiliation and been taken advantage of; if this could be tolerated, then there was nothing else Song Ran could not tolerate.
“Big Brother?” Bubu reached out and poked him. “Did you hear what I said?”
He absent-mindedly refocused. “What is it?”
Seeing that he wasn’t paying attention, Bubu shook his head like a small adult and showed an expression of helplessness. “I just said that they took wedding photos, and we can take them too! Once you and Dad get married, we three will also take a photo like this and send it to Mom, okay?”
Song Ran’s spirit was lifted, and he loudly slapped his thigh. “Okay!”
This method of resolving his resentment was effective!
Bubu, startled by his exaggerated reaction, leaned back slightly and dazedly raised a hand. “Then I… I want to wear a little suit!”
“Yes, a little suit.” Song Ran held the child up by his armpits, carried him over, and gave him a kiss. “Bubu is so smart!”
Bubu was so delighted that he giggled out loud.
Song Ran saw how he looked when he laughed and suddenly realised that something was amiss.
He looked a couple more times at either side and became lost in thought: Bubu indeed was very good-looking, but this sort of good-looking, neither elegant nor classical, was clearly part of a boy’s dexterity and handsomeness.
He snatched up the photo, carefully compared Bubu and Lu Jin’s facial features, and discovered they were only ten or twenty percent similar.
So the remaining eighty or ninety percent resembled Mr He?
Upon thinking of this possibility, Song Ran became uncontrollably excited, and his eyes shone as though he had dug up bright gold with a scoop of a shovel or as though he had turned on a kilowatt spotlight.
He asked Bubu, “Do you look like your dad?”
Bubu nodded and said, “I do, lots of people say I’m super like Dad!”
“Then… then your dad ought to be very handsome, right?”
Song Ran stared attentively at Bubu, completely unable to hide the shine in his eyes and the lifting curve of his lips; that mannerism was identical to a regular lottery ticket buyer waiting with ticket in hand for the winning numbers to be announced, and all that was missing was him raising his arms into the air and shouting ‘very handsome, very handsome, very handsome!’
Bubu propped up his own face with his hands and looked over this timid older brother. “You’re asking when you already know.”
You’ve even drawn him before, yet you’re still asking me if he’s handsome or not.
When Song Ran heard that, he became overwhelmingly excited, planted both hands on Bubu’s shoulders, and eagerly asked, “You have pictures of your mom and little sister, so you must also have pictures of your dad, right? Can you give them to me to look at?”
Bubu crisply refused.
He had promised Dad that he absolutely would not reveal the photos to Big Brother Song Ran, but the reason was a mystery. The promise between father and son had to be strictly kept, so he playfully threw himself onto Song Ran’s neck and said sweetly, “It’s enough for Big Brother to look at me! I really look a lot like Dad!”
Song Ran pouted in disappointment.
There was no helping it. He could only make do with what he was given, so he scrutinised Bubu’s little face and tried to use his own boundless and rich imagination to reconstruct Mr He’s face in his mind.
Who would’ve known that the more he looked, the more strange he felt.
This child… How was it that he looked a bit familiar?
When someone was lucky, picking up a single hair would be enough to crack a major case, but when someone was unlucky, even with the son whose facial features were a highly faithful replication standing before him, he still could not imagine what kind of person the father was despite all his effort.
Song Ran arduously searched while grasping that clue, but he was no match for truth’s cunning. In the end, he couldn’t think of a reason, so he could only attribute the ‘familiarity’ to being with Bubu for too long rather than resembling a certain person he knew. Having piqued his own curiosity, his heart itched as if ants were crawling on it, but he was embarrassed to ask for photos from Mr He. Thus, as expected, Song Ran lost sleep this evening.
At the same time that he was losing sleep, on the fifth floor of an oval glass building on the other side of the ocean, someone walked through the corridor, gently knocked three times on the frosted door to the CEO’s office, then pushed it open.
After raising his head and clearly seeing the visitor, Carl Kraus stopped what he was doing, comfortably leaned back to recline against the back of the chair, and happily called out.
He Zhiyuan held out his hand. “Remote control.”
Without asking why, Carl pulled open the first drawer on the right-hand side, took out a remote control the size of a lighter, and tossed it through the air. The remote control made a smooth arc and accurately landed in the palm of He Zhiyuan’s hand.
He Zhiyuan bowed his head and pressed it a few times. The window blinds slowly descended all the way to the bottom and their slats rotated, changing the lighting in the office from bright to dark, and the white wall on the opposite side lit up to show the operating system interface. He switched to his own cloud account, which had many files in it, and at the very top was a video that had just been uploaded five minutes ago.
The total duration was fourteen minutes and eighteen seconds.
He pressed the play button, then approached Carl with a few steps, turned around to leisurely lean against the edge of the office desk, crossed his long legs, and gently placed the remote control on the desk.
Carl didn’t ask a single word as he began to watch with great interest.
This was an original unedited video that hadn’t been cleaned of background noise nor set to background music. Within the frame was abundant sunlight, plants with delicate leaves, a small glass fish tank, ceramic flower vases, and seven or eight elegant animal cards.
The colours were bright and the mood was pleasant.
The main characters in the video were a youth who loved to laugh and a boisterous child. They should have been tidying up, each doing their own work, but they were also very affectionate. Throughout the entire process, they frequently interacted, often hugging, ruffling each other’s hair, and laughing at each other as they merrily played.
The third main character was a beautiful large Ragdoll cat.
It had to be said that it had an extreme awareness of the camera lens. It always liked to pace into the middle of the frame, unexpectedly flop down on one side, reveal its fluffy white belly, extend its four small paws, and sun-bathe. If the camera lens moved away, it would roll to its feet at top speed and once again accurately find the centre of the camera lens.
“What is this?” Carl asked. “New material you had someone shoot?”
Keeping him in suspense, He Zhiyuan didn’t directly reply to him, only saying, “Give your objective evaluation.”
Carl thus focused on watching for several dozens of seconds again. After seriously deliberating, he sat up straight and gave a rather frank approval. “The adult and child are both very photogenic, their relationship is very affectionate, and their interactions are natural, so there’s not a single hint of putting on a performance. Based on the impression they give, it feels better than the actors we found before. Furthermore, this cat… This cat’s cooperation is too extraordinary, it has an amazing awareness of the camera lens. For it to do that to this point without editing, it’s really unimaginable—where did you find these actors?”
He Zhiyuan laughed lowly and said, “This is Bubu.”
Carl couldn’t believe it. He grabbed the remote control and rewound the video, then paused at a moment where Bubu’s face was showing. He pondered for a good while as he stared before he recognised this child’s appearance at long last and immediately sighed. “The changes are too big. I haven’t seen him for only a bit more than a year, but he’s already grown into a handsome little boy—hang on, w-was this shot by that Q7 in your home?”
He looked at He Zhiyuan in surprise.
“Mm-hm, my home.”
He Zhiyuan nodded, gaze still fixed on the screen.
Carl remembered that there was still another main character in the video and wanted to ask who that was. All of a sudden, he caught a special sentiment from He Zhiyuan’s overly-gentle expression. Slightly stunned, he looked He Zhiyuan up and down, then continued playing the video before pausing the frame at Song Ran’s face. “Then who is this? Zhiyuan, who is this handsome gentleman to you?”
He Zhiyuan turned his head back to look at him and calmly smiled. “Boyfriend.”
“Wow!” Carl whistled admiringly, then pushed away the chair and stood up, moving around to the front of the desk to drape an arm around He Zhiyuan’s neck and forcefully pull the other man towards himself. “A beautiful bend! The rainbow club welcomes you!”
He Zhiyuan accepted this enthusiasm with poise. “Thank you.”
Carl said, “Congratulations on walking out of the shadows. After five years, you’ve finally fallen in love again.”
He Zhiyuan’s smile froze.
He knew that Carl was teasing, but he still solemnly pulled Carl’s hand away, turned his head, and very earnestly looked at the other man. “I’ll emphasise it again, I’ve never had a psychological scar. I’ve been single because this angel hadn’t yet descended.”
Carl had an expression as if he’d been struck silly by a thunderclap; with mouth wide open, he stared at He Zhiyuan for a full ten seconds, then clicked his tongue and said, “I really shouldn’t have criticised you before for being not romantic enough… Just this one sentence, I guarantee that if you just say it to his face, he will definitely get hard enough to explode.”
He Zhiyuan smiled. “In fact, I have an even more romantic idea.”
Carl’s interest level soared. “What idea?”
“If you’re willing to take the risk with me, for this press conference, during my part…” He Zhiyuan said, enunciating each word with incomparable clarity, “I want to use this video instead.”
Carl instantly turned into a stone statue, and he only recovered from his shock after a very long time. He sighed deeply. “My God, you must really love him.”
Song Ran’s mood was very irritable these few days.
Since April 18th was drawing closer and closer, he was alternating between getting excited over ‘being able to see Mr He’ and anxious over ‘what to do if reality didn’t meet expectations’. His mood rose and fell, similar to the electrocardiogram of a myocardial infarction.
Of course, he was much more excited than anxious.
Impaired by thoughts of love, he daydreamed all day long. As soon as he opened his eyes in the morning, he always hoped that the one lying next to him was Mr He. No matter if he was eating, working on illustrations, or going to the bathroom, his cell phone never left his side, and he’d glance at the screen every few minutes so as not to miss a phone call. Once, he was halfway through a bath when the ringtone started playing outside; he couldn’t even be bothered to cover up his junk before running out extremely anxiously to pick up the phone and nearly ran smack into Bubu.
He Zhiyuan did also want to spend more time with him, but the press conference was drawing near and he had just changed the material, so there were too many things he needed to take care of. The nightly flirting phone calls shrank at first from one hour to half an hour, then shrank to a quarter of an hour.
But even within this short quarter of an hour, he wouldn’t pass up the chance to flirt.
Song Ran couldn’t see the actual person in the first place and even the magnetic voice, which had become a rarity these days, could be entirely cut off at any time. Severely frustrated, Song Ran curled up on the sofa, holding the pillow and madly rubbing against it.
“You’re in heat?”
Hearing that Song Ran’s voice was hoarse and soft, He Zhiyuan instantly guessed it.
Song Ran went quiet out of shyness.
“I still can’t come back for the time being, so what should we do?”
“What. Should. We. Do? What are you being such a tease for when you can’t come back? You might as well just tease me to death and be done with it!” Song Ran was both angry and embarrassed as he cursed with a face like a thoroughly ripened tomato. “You’re inhuman! Your boss is even more inhuman, calling for people to work, work, work overtime all day long! Does he not have a sex life?!”
He truly did not.
He Zhiyuan really wanted to say that he was his own boss, but Song Ran was cursing up a storm and revealing the truth would put the other man in an awkward spot, so he could only swallow it back down.
Song Ran finished complaining about the ‘non-existent boss’, and only when the flames of his rage were almost completely exhausted did the Song Ran Jr in his pants reluctantly go half-soft.
He called out stickily, “Mr He…”
He Zhiyuan: “Hm?”
He Zhiyuan laughed soundlessly. “You’d better go take a cold shower.”
Reluctant, Song Ran continued to rub against the pillow.
The phone call wound down. When it was almost time to hang up, the pillow had been nearly rubbed threadbare. He Zhiyuan remembered that he hadn’t yet brought up the important matter, so he said, “Song Ran, our company is holding a product launch press conference tomorrow morning, and there will be an online broadcast. Are you interested in seeing it?”
Song Ran was disinterested. “All in English?”
“Will there be subtitles?”
“I’m afraid not.”
When Song Ran heard that, he was even more dispirited. “My English isn’t good, so I definitely won’t be able to understand.”
“That’s okay, the content isn’t deep, so you can understand more than half by looking at the images,” He Zhiyuan said warmly. “Are you really not interested in the results that I worked more than ten days of overtime for?”
Song Ran thought for a while when a funny idea popped up in his mind, and he snickered. “Tell me the truth, is it that your online popularity isn’t sufficient, so you want to pull me in to fluff the numbers?”
Rather than explaining, He Zhiyuan readily accepted this accusation. “Yes, we urgently need your support, so you have to stay online the entire time. Once the press conference is over, I’ll call you for an examination of the key points.”
Song Ran whispered, then flipped over while holding a pillow and lazily said, “Okay, I’ll watch it.”