The boy rang the doorbell several times, but nobody answered.
Was Yan Yixi not home? Should the little one call him? But he probably wouldn’t pick up …
The boy unconsciously pulled on his backpack straps, very seriously considering what to do next. Just as he was about to send a text to explain who he was, the elevator behind him opened with a ding! The boy turned around and saw Yan Yixi.
A stranger stood in front of his door. Well, strictly speaking, it wasn’t a complete stranger. Yan Yixi frowned. He already understood the boy’s intentions after receiving the first text and had decided not to respond. He originally thought that the silent treatment might dampen the boy’s enthusiasm, yet here he was, standing in front of Yan Yixi’s house. How exactly had he gotten the address?
Yan Yixi didn’t even open his mouth before the slightly flushed boy tugged on his backpack straps again and nervously spoke.
“S– Sorry to bother… I’m Lin Xiangdong1. I, um, m-my mother is Chen Qing. Did you know?”
The boy’s words and their logic were jumbled, but Yan Yixi understood. This was the son of his affectionate mother’s best friend. Apparently, Yan Yixi had even held the boy when he was a baby.
“I know.” Seeing as the boy was already here, Yan Yixi could only open the door to let him in.
“Why don’t you come in then.”
Lin Xiangdong’s eyes lit up and he obediently followed Yan Yixi into the house.
Yan Yixi didn’t often receive guests, but luckily he had spare slippers prepared. He handed a pair to Lin Xiangdong. When the little one crouched to change his shoes, Yan Yixi glanced at his trunk and backpack.
The child didn’t even bother to put his backpack down before he bent over, and his backpack fell straight towards the back of his head. Yan Yixi couldn’t bear to watch and quietly extended a hand to stop it from hitting Lin Xiangdong’s head. When the boy stood up again, Yan Yixi let go as if nothing had happened. The boy didn’t even notice.
The boy only put his backpack down after he seated himself on the sofa. When Yan Yixi returned from the kitchen with refreshments, he saw the boy sitting there adorably, his eyes obediently focusing only on the coffee table before him.
“Here.” Yan Yixi handed a cup of juice to the boy, then sat in the armchair diagonally across from him.
“Thank you.” Lin Xiangdong accepted the juice, his eyes filled with undisguised joy. He took a sip and realized that it was probably home-pressed.
He was even happier.
Looking at the child in front of him, Yan Yixi suddenly felt that he who was planning to chase the boy out with simple platitudes was somewhat evil.
The “somewhat evil” Doctor Yan broke the silence.
“You’re studying at A University, right?”
“En, I’m a third year majoring in biology.” The boy nodded cutely and explained voluntarily.
He paused, then added.
“I just turned 18.” After finishing he held his cup up, pretending to drink, while actually hiding his expression.
Only 18 and already a third year? It seemed the “studiousness” Yan Yixi’s mother spoke of was a little understated. This little one was clearly too good at studying — maybe even a little genius. Speaking of birthdays, it seemed that it was the little one’s friends holding a coming of age ceremony last time at the bar.
“Then you’re dorming this year, right?” Yan Yixi continued asking.
Eh. Unable to lie, the boy slowly nodded.
Hearing that, Yan Yixi pointed at the mysterious trunk the boy brought along.
“And that is?”
Lin Xiangdong furtively swallowed his saliva and suppressed his nerves.
“Mom said that if I’m facing any difficulties, I can come find you. That, um, can I live with you? I’ll split the housework!” As he was speaking, he even raised his hand in a salute.
“I’m also really quiet; I can guarantee I won’t be too noisy!”
Yan Yixi thought of the nearly 100 texts in his phone and wondered where this little one found the confidence to say that he was quiet.
“Kid, I’m a doctor. My job’s very busy and I don’t have time to look after you. I think it’d be better for you to live at school.” Yan Yixi decided it would be better to draw the line clearly, otherwise he might give the boy false hope.
For every word the doctor spoke, the boy’s head dropped further, making him look quite pitiful. After Yan Yixi finished, the boy looked down at the cup in his hands.
“I can look after myself. I can also look after you! I’m really scared of sleeping by myself; I’ve been scared quite enough as a child, really.” After he finished, the boy summoned his courage and raised his head to look at Yan Yixi.
“Gege, I’ll be good, okay?”
Yan Yixi’s left eyelid jumped and the phone on the table started to ring. The caller was his mother.
Yan Yixi picked up and walked to the balcony to speak with his mother.
The boy turned around and sneaked a glance at the other’s back, wetting his lips.
It’s been said that one ought to enjoy the benefits of a favorable position2. He definitely couldn’t leave, definitely wasn’t leaving.
“Xixi, has Guai Zai contacted you?”
“Mom, does your son seem fit to be a babysitter?” Yan Yixi held the phone in his left hand, tapping the balcony with his right.
“En?” His mother was somewhat confused.
“No, not really, but I think you seem fit to be the responsible older brother to take care of Guai Zai”
His mom never changed.
“Mom, my typical workday is already very busy. I’m also taking the night shift. My lifestyle is quite irregular. If he were to live with me, I really wouldn’t have the time to take care of him.” Yan Yixi nearly facepalmed.
“En? Guai Zai went to find you?” His mom was shocked.Yan Yixi realized that his mom hadn’t intended for the little one to live with him either and was just about to argue when his mom spoke again.
“I was worried that Guai Zai wouldn’t be willing to find you. If he’s there then that’s good. Just let him stay there; your house is big enough anyway.”
Yan Yixi: …
Yan Yixi hung up and turned around. Through the glass door, he could see the little boy still sitting obediently in his spot. However, his eyes were darting around surreptitiously in a I’m-not-curious-just-looking-around sort of manner.
Yan Yixi’s originally tight smile relaxed.
He opened the door, and the little boy immediately sat up straighter.
“You can stay here if you want.” Yan Yixi sat down in his armchair again before speaking seriously.
“But I’ll put this out first. One, I’m busy with work and night shifts, and my schedule is different from yours, little one. If you can’t get used to it…”
“I can, I stay up plenty.” The little one rushed to answer.
Being interrupted, Yan Yixi almost didn’t catch his breath. He silently told himself not to argue with a child.
“I’m not pulling all-nighters; I’m working. Also, staying up at night is bad for your health.”
Tsk, and now they’d gone on a tangent. Yan Yixi continued before the boy could interrupt.
“You’ll stay in the guest room. I typically don’t eat at home, so if you can cook, feel free to use the kitchen. Otherwise, just get takeout.”
“Okay.” LinXiangdong agreed quickly.
Yan Yixi swallowed the rest of his words.
“Never mind. Find me if you have any other questions, I guess. The guest room is on the left. Blankets and sheets are in the cabinet. You can get them yourself; you know how to put on a duvet cover, right?”
“I do, I do.” Lin Xiangdong nodded, and repeated himself several times to emphasize that he did, in fact, know how to put on a duvet cover.
The boy didn’t bother to close the door as he tidied up the guest room. Yan Yixi watched him silently, leaving only after confirming that the little one actually knew how to. He had just come off the night shift and now had just finished handling the little one; he really needed a good night’s sleep.
The little boy wound tight as a spring finally relaxed after hearing the door shut. Lin Xiangdong loosened his clenched hand and found that he’d wrinkled his sheets.
He really was nervous!
The little one took out his phone and quickly typed out a WeChat to Yin Xu.
——Road Leading East3: I’m not going back today! I’ve infiltrated the fortress!
Lin Xiangdong: Guai Zai is his nickname, it literally means obedient/sweet child
enjoy the benefits of a favorable position (近水楼台先得月): lit. to enter the tower by the water, one first needs the moon. It comes from a poem, and now refers to when people profit from unfair advantages/benefits
Road Leading East (一路向东): LXD’s WeChat username. The last two characters sound the same as his first name.