Tao Xi finished his shower in the bathroom, put on his pajamas, and found that the pajamas also fit him.
He looked at his pajamas for a while before absentmindedly blowing his hair with a hair dryer, then wiped the condensation on the mirror with his hand and got close to it to look at his face.
It should be because he just took a bath; his face was steamed with a layer of blush and his lips were also very rosy.
After looking at it for a while with his head left empty, he looked aside and found that there were two mouthwash cups in the cabinet, one black and one white, with a toothbrush in each, one black and one white.
The heartbeat, which had easily smoothed out in the shower, suddenly accelerated again.
Tao Xi lingered in the bathroom for a while before he opened the door and walked out. When he came in, he followed Lin Qinhe, and only hurriedly glanced at the big bedroom outside. At this moment, he was standing alone in the bedroom and looked around carefully.
The bedroom was decorated in the same cold style as Lin Qinhe, without much decoration. There was a whole side of floor-to-ceiling windows with half-closed curtains. In the middle of the bedroom was a large bed with gray-blue sheets, looking very soft.
He stared at the bed and found that there were two pillows at the head of the bed.
Tao Xi wiped his hot face with his hand, and suddenly heard footsteps. He turned around to look over and saw Lin Qinhe came over, glancing at his pajamas, and said:
“It’s almost twelve o’clock.”
Tao Xi suddenly widened his eyes nervously, losing all of his thoughts.
He didn’t want to miss the zero o’clock on his birthday.
“You took too long in the bath. I was going to show you the other rooms.” Lin Qinhe said casually, raising his hand to tidy up Tao Xi’s rolled up collar, and sliding his fingers across the white and distinct collarbone.
Tao Xi felt that his collarbone was a little itchy and his face became hot. He said quickly:
“Then let’s go eat cake now.”
Lin Qinhe seemed to laugh, holding his wrist, and leading him to the living room. On the way, he glanced at the two rooms with the doors closed.
The ceiling light in the living room was turned off, but the bright lights surrounding the fondant cake were still on, shining together with the neon night scene outside the floor-to-ceiling windows that was as vast as a sea of stars.
Tao Xi looked at the small coffee table on the wool carpet next to the floor-to-ceiling windows. There was a creamy white cake on it. He hurried over, took off his slippers and walked to the wool carpet, squatted next to the cake, and got close enough to smell the sweet smell.
This cake tasted delicious at first glance.
He sat down cross-legged next to the coffee table and looked around for the candles, but saw a white cover similar to a notebook next to the coffee table.
Tao Xi’s heart moved and he looked at Lin Qinhe who had also come over and sat down. He pointed to the notebook and asked, “What is this?”
Lin Qinhe also cast his gaze over, his expression turned unnatural for a moment, and he paused for a while before saying, “Birthday present for you.”
Tao Xi’s eyes were bright, he couldn’t help but take the notebook over and asked with a smile: “Can I read it now?”
Lin Qinhe looked at the time, only 20 minutes before 12 o’clock. He hesitated and said, “Yes.” Then turned sideways and turned on the floor lamp, this corner suddenly brightened up.
Tao Xi held the notebook and leaned against Lin Qinhe. The cover was a pure white hard leather, the corners were a little sharp. He opened the first page and saw a few words written on the title page:
For the seventeen year-old Tao Xi.
Tao Xi immediately understood that this should be read after zero. He glanced at Lin Qinhe with some embarrassment, but he couldn’t help but continue to turn over a page.
He thought he would see what Lin Qinhe had written to him, but when he saw the content clearly, he was taken aback.
A photo was posted on the second page.
It didn’t seem to be a notebook, but a hand-made photo album.
The slightly aged photo showed a small baby wrapped in a soft blanket. The baby had clear eyes, two small hands on his chest, and a pacifier in his mouth, seemingly smiling.
Below the photo, ‘1’ was written with a pen
Tao Xi stared blankly at Lin Qinhe on the side. Lin Qinhe touched his eyes and quickly turned his face to the side. He coughed and said, “This is a photo of me when I was one year old.”
Tao Xi was stunned. He stared at Lin Qinhe’s face in a daze and could only see Lin Qinhe’s ears gradually turning red. He couldn’t help but laugh, and then lowered his head to look at the baby photo carefully. Sure enough, he could see a few shadows of Lin Qinhe, such as the pair of eyes that were so beautiful when he was a child.
He vaguely knew what this album was. He blinked his eyes quickly, lowered his head and continued to look at the baby photo. After looking at it for a long time, he gently touched the baby’s face on the photo with his fingers before slowly turning to the second page.
The second page was also a photo. The little boy in the photo was much older. He was sitting on the floor covered with sponge pads, fiddling with a car toy in his hands. On the sofa beside him sat a handsome mature man with a newspaper in his hand, but his eyes were looking at the boy on the ground. Looking at his eyebrows, he should be the boy’s father.
The number below the photo turned to “2”. This was a photo of Lin Qinhe when he was two years old.
Tao Xi looked intently at the boy in the photo, and after a while smiled and said, “You and your father look alike.”
Lin Qinhe could not resist glancing at it and said, “This is my eldest uncle.” After a pause and continued, “I lived in my eldest uncle’s house before I was 5.”
Tao Xi was stunned, vaguely aware that there might be something hidden inside.
He turned slowly back again, looking at every photo for a long time. The 5-year-old Lin Qinhe sitting in a daze on the kindergarten bench with his hands on his cheeks, the 6-year-old Lin Qinhe standing unhappily in front of the elementary school with his small school bag, the 7-year-old Lin Qinhe wearing a small yellow hat visiting the planetarium, the 8-year-old Lin Qinhe sitting upright playing chess with his grandfather, the 9-year-old Lin Qinhe reading English stories at his desk…
He watched the boy in the photo grow bigger and bigger, from a small baby to a little boy who could run and jump, and then to a handsome teenager who suddenly grew taller and taller, his facial features and expressions became more and more like Lin Qinhe now.
Especially the 16-year-old Lin Qinhe. Perhaps it was just last year, he seemed to be in a concert hall, wearing a black suit sitting in front of the piano and playing, with a profoundly indifferent expression on his side. Finally it was Lin Qinhe he was familiar with in his impression.
In this photo album, he caught a glimpse of Lin Qinhe in sixteen years that he couldn’t see.
Although only a little bit.
But this point made him extremely happy, and yearned for it.
Tao Xi lowered his head to look at the 16-year-old Lin Qinhe. After a long time, he turned back to the next page with a light breath.
The photo on the new page was in a familiar classroom. On the last row of desks, a teenager slept with his head resting on his arm. The golden sunlight outside the window spreads in, the teenager’s hair and school uniform haloed with a shaggy light edge and eyelashes under the eyelids were also haloed with light gold.
The teenager’s right wrist was exposed from the school uniform shirt, and on his wrist was a red string bracelet with a turquoise on it.
The number under the photo had become 17.
Lin Qinhe met Tao Xi when he was seventeen.
Tao Xi looked at himself in the photo, blinking hard, and only after a long time did he raise his head and look at Lin Qinhe, who was leaning close beside him.
He wanted to laugh, but the sound in his throat when he spoke was a little trembling:
“You actually took a sneak photo of me while I was taking a nap. Next time I want to take a sneak photo of you back.”
Lin Qinhe clasped his hands in front of him. The warm yellow light of the floor lamp seeped into his dark gray sweater. He hung his eyes and stayed quiet for a while, tilted his head to look at the photo in the album, and then to Tao Xi who had been looking at him. The long and drooping eyelashes half concealed the soft look at the bottom of the eyes. He said:
“You can take it openly.”
Tao Xi smiled.
He lowered his head and wanted to continue to turn the page, but found that every page after that was blank, as if waiting for new photos and there was nothing else in this part of Lin Qinhe’s 17-year-old.
He gently stroked the edge of the album with his finger, and after a while, with some nasal voice, asked: “What about your 17-year-old photo? Why is it only mine.”
Lin Qinhe loosened his clasped hands and looked at him, “Don’t you get to see me every day?”
Tao Xi froze: “En?” He didn’t understand what Lin Qinhe meant.
Lin Qinhe took the paper envelope that was on the side, took out a photo that was just taken tonight, and put it on the next page of the album. He looked at Tao Xi and carefully explained the meaning of sending this album:
“After the age seventeen we will be together every year, but the sixteen years I missed you, I want to make it up to you.”
Tao Xi’s eyes trembled suddenly. He lowered his head to look at the new photo. In the photo, Lin Qinhe was kissing the corner of his eye with a gentle and solemn expression. His fingers on the album curled up, and his heartbeat speeded up uncontrollably.
He was not sure what Lin Qinhe meant by “missed”, was it the “missed” he thought it was?
Lin Qinhe’s eyes fell on his face, with heavy eyes, like the heavy snow falling to the earth on Christmas Eve, thick and silent.
The floor lamp casted a soft warm light from above, gently covering this corner.
Tao Xi turned his head to look at Lin Qinhe, who was wrapped up in warm yellow light, and held his breath lightly as his fingers unconsciously rubbed the edge of the album
At that moment, he felt that Lin Qinhe might know something, but just thinking of this possibility, he could not help but feel timid. He did not know what he was afraid of, and did not know why his eyes were hot, as if something hot was about to roll out from inside.
They sat side by side on the soft carpet, so close that they could feel the temperature of each other’s bodies and hear each other’s breathing.
Lin Qinhe turned his face sideways, looked at the bright neon and flying snow outside the floor-to-ceiling window, and suddenly asked softly:
“Do you believe in the existence of parallel universes?”
Tao Xi grabbed the photo album in his hand and shook his head blankly.
Lin Qinhe was silent for a while, turned his head to look at him, the light under his eyes, which were always indifferent, flickered slightly, and when he spoke again his voice was a little dumb:
“I didn’t believe it before, but now I wish there was such a parallel universe. In that world, everything follows the original trajectory, you have always been by my side, we grew up together, and every year at Christmas, I would bring gifts to you, together with loved ones who love you, and say to our baby, happy birthday.”
Tao Xi’s eyelashes trembled violently. He firmly grasped the photo album in his hand, grasping the sixteen years of time, the sharp leather cover corner stabbed his palm, but he didn’t notice it.
He opened his mouth, but didn’t make a sound, as if he was mute. After working hard for a long time, he could only make a broken and small whimper.
Lin Qinhe looked at this person who was trembling and whimpering, his heart hurt like it was being pierced by a blunt knife. He wanted to pull the photo album with sharp corners out of Tao Xi’s hands, but Tao Xi held the photo album firmly in his arms, as if using all his strength.
Lin Qinhe had to stretch out his hand to hug Tao Xi, let him sit on his lap and gently hug him. He said with a dumb and hoarse voice:
“Sorry, I have missed you in this world for so many years, and owe you so many birthdays.”
Tao Xi’s line of sight was completely blurred. He wanted to say that you didn’t have to feel sorry for me, but he still couldn’t speak. He choked violently, trying hard to hold back the tears, but could only shake his head desperately.
Lin Qinhe’s eyes were completely red, he hugged Tao Xi, gently kissed the corner of his eyes, feeling a hot teardrop on his lips.
The heavy snow was still falling outside the window, silently covering up all the mess in the world, like the heavy snow falling over half a mountain seventeen years ago.
But the snow would always melt one day, the sun would eventually rise, and then it would be a brand new and bright world.
“Tao Xi, I’ll take you home, okay?”
Tao Xi could no longer hold back, the tears in his eyes rolled down quickly. He wanted to answer “Yes”, but his lips trembled lightly and he could only make a mouth shape.
He finally let go of the album. He hugged Lin Qinhe’s neck, buried his head in his shoulder and cried, like all children, without the slightest restraint, choking and sobbing, letting tears wet Lin Qinhe’s clothes on his shoulders, as if the tears couldn’t end.
All the hands of the clock pointed to twelve o’clock, and it was another year of snowy Christmas. The sweet smell of cake wafting through the silent living room, colorful balloons and bright lights shining like a galaxy behind them.
Lin Qinhe hugged the person in his arms tightly, closed his eyes and said softly:
“My baby, wishing you a happy birthday and a merry Christmas.”
Since he had lost the name that meant more happiness and joy, then he would spend his life blessing him.
Wish his baby Tao Xi to be happy and joyful every day.