Lin Xiangdong went to class that afternoon without knowing whether Yan Yixi believed that the rumor started only recently.
When Yan Yixi went to pick the little one up after classes, he also received a sweet kiss. He finally decided to let go of the “rumor incident.”
Nevermind, he thought to himself. At any rate, the little one had already kissed him.
Even though Doctor Yan was as busy as ever, going out brought subtle changes to their days. Every morning before leaving, Doctor Yan would make sure to kiss the little one and make him breakfast. When he came home, he would also kiss the little one before cuddling him to sleep. Moreover, as long as Doctor Yan wasn’t busy, he’d make sure to reply to Lin Xiangdong’s messages.
According to his previous lovers, dating Yan Yixi was difficult; he was so difficult to meet up with that it was no better than being single. But there was no such worry for the little one — his early cohabitation solved these issues.
That day Doctor Yan was seeing outpatients and had a midday break. Coincidentally, Lin Xiangdong didn’t have class that afternoon. Playing the good boyfriend, he decided to have lunch together with Doctor Yan.
The little one had always hated hospitals, but since this visit was to find his boyfriend, the strong smell of antiseptic didn’t seem so sharp.
Lin Xiangdong knew that Yan Yixi would be busy and didn’t want to bother him, so he simply stood in the lobby looking for a good place to wait for Yan Yixi. Perhaps it was his small statue and sweet appearance, but a nurse came by and asked him concernedly:
“Little… ” The nurse swallowed down the word “sweetie.”
“Do you need help?”
“No need, I’m here to find my boyfriend.” Lin Xiangdong waved his hands in front of him.
The little nurse: … My bad, shouldn’t have asked.
After the nurse left, the little one decided it might be better to wait outside. Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait long before Yan Yixi came out.
The little one had never cared too much for appearances. Seeing Yan Yixi, he happily skipped over, grabbed his hand, and asked if he’d eaten.
Yan Yixi answered while walking out with him.
The two didn’t notice the gossip-filled eyes of the entire lobby behind them.
After walking the little one back to his dorms, Yan Yixi returned to find that the entire department had heard of his relationship.
“Oh, Yixi, I heard you have a younger boyfriend? How old is he? What does he do?” Even the department head had come to ask.
The director had introduced his own nephew to Yan Yixi a while back, but Yan Yixi refused with the excuse that he didn’t have time to date. His director had been angered half to death.
“Thank you for your concern, Director. I do have a boyfriend now.” Yan Yixi said simply and ignored the rest of his questions.
But how could the director give up so easily? After pestering Yan Yixi, he finally learned that said boyfriend was 18 years old.
Before the afternoon was over, rumors of Yan Yixi being a cradle robber had spread through the entire hospital.
Doctor Yan’s only response was: Don’t be jealous. After all, not everyone has this sort of charm.
The other single doctors were nearly angered to death.
Doctor Yan had given a little too much of his time to the hospital; he’d forgotten something rather important. It wasn’t until he picked up his mother’s reprimanding phone call that Yan Yixi remembered he hadn’t reported on his new relationship status.
“What’s going on?? Guai Zai is your boyfriend? You stinky brat, is this how you look after someone?”
Yan Yixi had just finished dinner and was currently watching a movie with the spoiled little one in his arms, who anxiously looked over. Yan Yixi calmly squeezed the little one’s hand before responding.
Hearing these two short and simple words, Yan Yixi’s mother was so angry she didn’t know what to say.
Yan Yixi was just about to salvage the situation when his mother spoke again.
“Impressive! You even managed to ensnare an amazing boy like Guai Zai! But Mom has a question, does his mother know? I absolutely adore Guai Zai, but his mom might not like an old man like you as a son-in-law.”
Doctor Yan: … It seemed the number of people calling him an old man had increased lately?
In the end, Guai Zai took the phone, sweetly greeting his aunty. Yan Yixi’s mom smiled from ear to ear.
“Aunty, I’ve already told my mom. She was alright with it.” The little one saw Yan Yixi glance his way and smiled sweetly.
Yan Yixi stroked the little one’s face, listening to him talk with his mother. Silently, he wondered when the little one had had time to tell his family.
“You’ve actually told Aunty?” Yan Yixi asked after he hung up.
Lin Xiangdong nodded. However, the actual conversation wasn’t as simple as he’d made it out to be. When his mother learned that he was dating Yan Yixi, her first reaction was to refuse. She continuously pleaded with him, speaking of Yan Yixi’s age and busy occupation. But the most important factor was still his gender.
“Mom, these words might be a little harsh, but I’d like to tell you my opinion. Forgive me if my words hurt you, alright?” The little one interrupted his mother.
“Go on, Mom’s listening.” Chen Qing had answered dumbly.
“Mom, did you and Dad also marry because of love? You two were heterosexual, but… you still divorced, no? Mom, a love ending well or poorly doesn’t depend on gender, age, or occupation, right?”
Chen Qing suddenly thought of the day Lin Xiangdong was born. It had been winter then, and their family hadn’t been doing very well. They’d rented a bungalow along a small road. Lin Xiangdong’s father had spent that day pacing around the maternity ward. So when they named the child, he had suggested Xiangdong1 — the bundle of joy born on a cold winter day by a small alley. Only, due to a mistake when recording his name, the boy had been named Xiangdong2. His father later said that maybe it was God’s will and let it be.
If they’d kept the “winter” in the little one’s name, could they have kept the happiness from that winter?
Chen Qing didn’t know.
“Mom, I’ve always respected your decisions and I’ve always trusted you. So this time, can Mom trust my decision?”
Chen Qing closed her eyes. Her voice was strangled.
“Alright, Guai Zai, Mom will trust you…”
A month later, Chen Qing took two days off to fly back to the mainland and Yan Yixi’s parents also ended their travels and returned home and the two sets of parents held a meeting. Fortunately, Chen Qing and Mother Yan were already good friends, or Chen Qing would have been much angrier. The son of her best friend was bound to be more reliable than some stranger, after all.
She sighed. In this situation, she could only accept him.
It was simply a dinner together, but somehow the atmosphere was like an engagement banquet. All that was left was to set a date for the wedding.
An actual wedding would be impossible; the little one was still too young and Yan Yixi didn’t want to tie him down too early.
But the little one thought otherwise.
By New Years, the two had spent about four months together. That day, the little one shyly brought out a velvet box.
“I’ve been saving up my allowance so it’s nothing fancy. Oh, if we want more expensive ones, maybe you can do the buying next time around?”
Though the little one’s ears turned red, he didn’t shy away from Yan Yixi’s gaze, nor did his hands shake.
Yan Yixi was caught completely off guard. He looked down but remained speechless.
“Y– You don’t want it?”
Only then did Yan Yixi accept the box. Inside were two platinum rings.
“You… are you stupid?” He pulled the boy into his arms.
“Who do you think you’re insulting?” Lin Xiangdong asked in mock anger.
“If you don’t want it then just…”
Yan Yixi cut him off with a kiss.
The two put the rings on and come nighttime, the little one was no longer such a pure and innocent little one.
“Dongdong, you’ve married yourself off so easily?” Yin Xu said sorrowfully after seeing the little one’s ring the next day.
“We’re not married yet,” the little one said solemnly.
“It’s just a promise ring. I’ll wait for him to propose to me.”
“That’s more like it,” Yin Xu said approvingly.
“Right, are you really planning to work with Professor Shen? I heard that Professor Li really wanted to be your PhD advisor.”
Professor Li’s research tended to involve lab work. But Professor Shen’s was mostly written and his students typically became scholars or teachers.
“Yes, I want to be a professor in the future,” Lin Xiangdong said. “The schedule is more flexible. Yixi is already so busy; if I were to work with experiments, we’d have no time to date.”
“But, if you do this for his sake…”
“It’s not just for him.” Coincidentally, the two walked past Lake Suming. The little one smiled as he watched couples holding hands and walking along the lake.
“I prefer working at a school to a lab. Xuxu, I think I’ll make a good teacher.”
“I see, I’m sure you will.” Yin Xu smiled as well.
A year later, Yan Yixi proposed on the day Lin Xiangdong graduated. As promised, he gave the little one a more expensive and better looking engagement ring, while he himself continued to wear the ring the little one had bought.
Surrounded by the teasing shouts of all the other students, Yan Yixi warmly kissed the little one in his arms.
“Let’s go home, my little Guai Zai.”
“No, let’s go somewhere else first.” The little one shook his head.
Yan Yixi was promptly dragged to the Bureau of Civil Affairs. Half an hour later, they left with their marriage certificates.
Holding that bright red paper, Lin Xiangdong grinned from ear to ear. He messaged each and every group chat on Weibo and received many congratulations in response.
Seeing him so happy, Yan Yixi smiled as well.
Yan Yixi used to think that as the responsible older boyfriend, if the little one stopped loving him in the future, he would have to let the little one go. But now, he changed his mind.
Little Guai Zai would always be his.
Continuing on that train of thought, Yan Yixi suddenly realized that he still had a tiny secret he hadn’t shared. It seemed that he even gave the little one his nickname.
The year the little one had just been born, Mother Yan took him along to visit. The two friends had wracked their heads for a nickname, including Guai Bao3, Guai Guai4, etc.
The then fourteen year old Yan Yixi took one look at the tiny baby watching him and spoke up.
“Then, what about Guai Zai5?”
Yan Yixi was a northerner and had often been called a little rascal6. Seeing that the little one was so sweet, clearly he should be called a sweet little one — Guai Zai.
The baby, not even a week old, suddenly turned and smiled at Yan Yixi.
And that was how Lin Xiangdong’s nickname came to be.
Now 34 years old, Doctor Yan smiled as he held Guai Zai’s hand and thought to himself.
See? From birth you were destined to be my Guai Zai — my little one.
Xiangdong (巷冬): the first character means alley and the second means winter.
Xiangdong (巷东): meaning alley and east.
Guai Bao (乖宝): first character means good/sweet/adorable, the second means treasure
Guai Guai (乖乖): both characters mean good/sweet/adorable
Guai Zai (乖崽): the second character means child or young animal; affectionately used to refer to your own children hahaha
rascal: same character as in Guai Zai