T/N: This chapter is unedited, so feel free to point out if there’s any typos or rough bits!
Day 16 16:00
As the two of them were feeling bored, the sound of a cuckoo clock came from within the teahouse. He Zhiyuan lifted his wrist and saw that it was exactly four o’clock, which was when Bubu ought to get out of school.
Song Ran shouted that He Zhiyuan’s noble personage had arrived late, then seized him by the wrist and started running towards the kindergarten. Just as they turned onto Gaolan Road, Song Ran’s countenance changed and his footsteps stopped. Then, moving from the vanguard to the rearguard position, he hid behind He Zhiyuan like a thief.
He Zhiyuan turned his head. “What’s the matter?”
Song Ran: “Uh, I… I tripped.”
On the other side of the road, the old woman he had been chatting with earlier was walking in their direction while holding a little girl’s hand. The girl, looking quite cute with her bowl-cut hairstyle and little red polka-dot skirt, was tilting her head upwards as she conversed with her grandmother. Song Ran hurriedly positioned himself so that they formed three points on a straight line, shielding himself with the help of He Zhiyuan’s height—the ‘busy wife who always went on business trips’ had not only appeared, but was also a man, so he feared that the excessive impact of this knowledge would shatter the old woman’s worldview.
It was only after the elder-and-child pair had rounded the corner and disappeared from his field of vision that Song Ran sighed in relief.
He Zhiyuan watched him, squinting as though he was deep in thought.
Two rows of cars that all belonged to parents who came to pick up their children were neatly lined up at the entrance to the kindergarten, and the dazzling variety of different brand logos made it resemble a small-scale auto show. Amongst them was a crookedly-parked second-hand bicycle that stuck out like a sore thumb; with a woven bamboo basket and an additional small leather seat, it looked particularly distinctive.
“This one’s mine. It goes ten kilometres an hour.” Song Ran carefreely pointed it out to He Zhiyuan, then bounced over and patted the small leather seat. “Genuine leather seats, the height of comfort.”
Upon seeing his resplendent smile, He Zhiyuan became happy as well. “Bubu mentioned it many times over the phone, saying that he liked it and that it’s more comfortable than sitting in my car—it’s slow, wobbly, and he can see the kittens and puppies on the wayside. But today there’s three of us, so it won’t fit us all. Can I trouble you to sit in my car?”
Song Ran looked around. “Your car?”
The door of a car that was parked at the side of the road opened, and a middle-aged man clad in a tidy uniform and white gloves emerged from within. After deferentially returning the car keys to He Zhiyuan, he walked over to stand in front of Song Ran and politely introduced himself. “My surname is Wu. I’m President He’s driver.”
Song Ran hurriedly shook hands with him. Afterwards, the other party didn’t retract his hand, but rather continued holding it out with the palm facing up. “Please hand over your car key to me. I will be in charge of driving it in your stead.”
Driving it in his stead?
Blank-faced, Song Ran cast a perplexed look at He Zhiyuan.
He Zhiyuan explained, “The bicycle key.”
There was such a service for bicycles too?
With eyes open wide, Song Ran hesitantly took out a copper key from his pocket and handed it to the driver. The driver accepted the key, unperturbed, then indeed unlocked the bicycle, held it upright, and kicked up the kickstand before riding away on it underneath the tree shade.
Song Ran watched his receding back, zoning out for a while.
“Wake up, don’t look anymore. Come to me.”
Leaning against the side of the car, He Zhiyuan reached out to knock on the hood, signalling Song Ran to look his way. As soon as Song Ran shifted his gaze, he noticed the entire car and was instantly stunned—the Infiniti that had always been on his mind had been washed, waxed, and painted with the glow of the setting sun. A dazzling light traversed over its silvery grey exterior.
It was so beautiful that it surpassed all the other cars he had previously seen at Jadewater Bay.
Song Ran delightedly touched the body of the car, running over the ice-cold metal surface inch by inch with careful strokes of his soft fingertips for fear of damaging it. “How come you thought to drive it today?”
“What do you think?”
He Zhiyuan smiled at him.
Song Ran understood in an instant. Feeling bashful, he bowed his head and kept silent.
“If you like, I can always drive it—and only it—in the future,” He Zhiyuan said gently, then loosened his tie, pulled it out from beneath his shirt collar, and undid a single button with one hand. “Like what you see?”
Song Ran said in a small voice, “Yes.”
Ten percent was praise for the car, while the remaining ninety percent was for the person.
With affectionate eyes that were clear and bright, his gaze travelled from He Zhiyuan’s nose bridge to his jawline, then from there to his Adam’s apple, and lastly to the hint of collarbone peeking out from underneath the splayed-open shirt collar—the image of this man, clad in a black button-up shirt, was even more stirring than when Song Ran had caught that passing glimpse of him before.
Because they were out in public and because they were at the kindergarten entrance, Song Ran didn’t have the nerve to allow He Zhiyuan to hold his hand. As the two of them stood side by side next to the car while waiting for Bubu to come out, their shoulders and arms made gentle contact through the fabric of their shirts, causing their skin to feel a little hot.
Bubu looked around as soon as he came outside, eyeballs moving like a spinning top. Then, having locked onto his target, he joyfully came running towards He Zhiyuan. His head of short hair was blown into wild disarray by the wind, sticking up every which way as if he had just been struck by a bolt of lightning.
Leaping forward, he turned into an octopus and hugged He Zhiyuan around the waist with an iron grip. “Dada, I missed you so much!”
He Zhiyuan was just about to lift Bubu up when the child abruptly let go, slipped off of him, backed up a bit, and pointed at his shirt while saying, “Dada, your shirt is wrinkled… Sorry.”
A small length of shirt hem had been pulled out from the waistband—it must have been from the enthusiastic leap earlier.
The child blinked twice, then timidly edged towards Song Ran and tugged on his sleeve with a somewhat panicked expression—until now, he had always been well-behaved in front of Dad. How could he be so brazen as to leap onto Dad as soon as he saw him? Over this past half a month, he had been spoiled and pampered by Song Ran, so his ‘wilful’ mannerisms had increased in number. In the heat of the moment, he couldn’t hold back.
Dad would definitely be unhappy.
But He Zhiyuan didn’t get angry. He bent down to pick Bubu up, then kissed his cheek and comforted him by saying, “It’s all right. Dad is very happy that Bubu missed me so much.”
An unbelievably happy expression showed on Bubu’s face.
He Zhiyuan nodded. “Really.”
Bubu promptly brightened up and wrapped his arms around He Zhiyuan’s neck. “Then what about Dad? Did you miss me?”
“Of course I did. Dad missed you every day, worrying about whether our little Bubu had eaten his fill, felt scared when going to sleep at night, or got along well with Big Brother.” He Zhiyuan gently poked his small face. “Darling, tell Dad, how have you been these past few days?”
“I’ve been super happy!” Bubu beamed with joy. His clever little eyes wandered, and he sweetly added, “I’m even happier now that Dad is back!”
Hearing those words made Song Ran nearly laugh out loud. This child really was a sugarcane spirit—everything that came out of his mouth was sweet.
The family got into the car. Bubu sat in his exclusive child’s seat and proactively put on his seat belt while Song Ran sat gingerly in the front passenger seat with his feet tilted up, afraid that his sneakers would dirty the just-cleaned car.
He was still a bit dazed up to this point, afraid to believe that he was really sitting in the Infiniti he had long dreamed of. He knew that this car wasn’t expensive and couldn’t really be compared to He Zhiyuan’s other two cars, which was why it had always been shut away in storage, but what it symbolised was weighty and precious; it was what Song Ran had been looking forward to this entire time.
Seeing that he was nervous, He Zhiyuan got out of the car, came over to his side, and gallantly put on the seat belt for him. Then he soothed Song Ran, saying, “It’s our car, so feel free to dirty it, it’s fine.”
Song Ran felt a little embarrassed.
Of course he wouldn’t feel that half of this car belonged to him now that he was in a relationship with He Zhiyuan, but the word ‘ours’ was indeed very pleasing to the ear. He recalled the memory of that word a few times and, feeling much more comfortable, put his feet down and stretched out. As the car started up, he felt inertia gently push him into the seat back.