Tao Xi was taken out of the school gate by Lin Qinhe, but did not go back to where they lived, instead they went to a wonton stall in the old city.
Because Wenhua University was nearby, there were many college students coming and going in the old streets and alleys, and the night market had set up stalls on the roadside and the cold air was filled with the aroma of cumin from the barbecue stalls.
Under the red plastic canopy with the signboard of “Old Sun Wonton”, an old man with white hair was making wontons in front of a large pot with white steam rolling around. Seeing Lin Qinhe bring a boy in, he stopped his hand and smiled and asked: “Are you skipping class again?”
“I didn’t skip class, I had the night off.” Lin Qinhe said, letting Tao Xi sit at the table in the corner sheltered from the wind, and then washed disposable chopsticks with boiling water.
“It’s very clean, what else to wash?” The old man couldn’t help but scold Lin Qinhe when he saw how carefully he washed them.
Tao Xi sat on a plastic stool, curiously watching them talking. He didn’t expect Lin Qinhe would come to this kind of market in the corner of the streets and was even very familiar with the old man called Old Sun.
Old Sun noticed Tao Xi’s sight and smiled kindly at him. After looking at him carefully, he said something to Lin Qinhe to which Lin Qinhe smiled lightly and replied.
Not long after, Lin Qinhe placed a bowl full of wontons in front of him and said, “The wontons here are quite delicious, try it.”
Tao Xi held the bowl and smelled it, the fresh fragrance filled his nose instantly. He buried himself in several mouthfuls with the spoon handed to him by Lin Qinhe. It was really delicious, the soup was delicious, and the whole stomach warmed up warmly.
He asked Lin Qinhe, who was sitting next to him, “Do you come here often?”
Lin Qinhe was also eating a bowl of wontons and was about to answer when he heard Old Sun, who was serving the wontons, laughingly said, “He came here when he ran away from home at the age of six or seven!”
Tao Xi suddenly looked at Lin Qinhe in astonishment: “Run away from home?” And even at such a young age.
Lin Qinhe looked a little unnatural and said: “I just walked from home to here, ate a bowl of wontons and then went back. It doesn’t count as running away from home.”
Old Sun smiled and said, “I invited him to eat that bowl of wontons, and he told me that he would definitely repay me later.”
Tao Xi couldn’t help laughing. Under the dangling incandescent lamp, a smile flickered in his dark eyes. He asked Lin Qinhe: “Why did you run away from home at that time?”
Lin Qinhe said indifferently: “I don’t remember much, maybe I had a fight with my family.”
Hearing what Lin Qinhe said, Old Sun only smiled and shook his head.
In the canopy, several college students soon came in, and the old man was busy greeting the business. The cold wind outside the plastic film roared, but the canopy was warm in the room filled with water vapor.
“So you went back on your own? Or did the family find you?” Tao Xi asked curiously.
Lin Qinhe thought for a moment and said, “My family took me back.”
Tao Xi propped his chin with one hand, recalling: “Actually, I also ran away from home, forgot what happened. I walked to the next mountain, but I ran back by myself as soon as it was dark.”
Lin Qinhe asked: “Are you afraid on the way back?”
Tao Xi nodded and said, “It’s dark and quiet in the mountains at night. I’m timid and afraid of the dark. I was scared when I heard the dog barking. At that time, I thought, if only I could get bolder overnight, I wouldn’t be afraid to leave there.”
While speaking, he felt his fingers being held into Lin Qinhe’s palm, and wrapped him tightly.
Lin Qinhe looked at him, raised his eyebrows slightly and said, “You never seem to be timid in front of me.”
Tao Xi was stunned, recalling that when he first arrived at Wenhua No. 1 High School, he jumped up and down in front of Lin Qinhe, who was like an iceberg, with a slight timidity.
“That’s different.” He smiled.
Running towards Lin Qinhe was the bravest thing he had ever done.
But to go back to an unfamiliar home, he was still scared. Just like when he ran away from home when he was young, he was afraid that his family would beat and scold him because of this. But he was also afraid that they would not beat and scold him, feeling contradictory and anxious.
Tao Xi stared at the soup bowl, Lin Qinhe held his hand and accompanied him in silence. After a while he spoke again, his voice was low, as if to say to Lin Qinhe, and also as if to say to himself:
“You asked me before why I didn’t tell you earlier, I said it was because I promised Guo Ping, but actually it wasn’t.”
“Because I’m a little scared, I’m afraid that I imagined something too good, but in the end things were not as good as I thought. I’m afraid that they will be disappointed in me and unwilling to accept me. I’m also afraid that they will treat me well because they feel guilty. I’m afraid that they would be in a difficult situation because of me and Yang Duole…”
He had never told Lin Qinhe about these contradictory and complicated thoughts. This was the cowardly and timid side of himself that he didn’t want to show.
Lin Qinhe’s gaze had always fallen on him, and said to him in a warm voice: “I understand.”
Tao Xi nodded. He hadn’t spoken much since he came out of school but he seemed to open the chattering box at this moment, as if he wanted to pour out everything in his heart, he continued:
“Today I met… them. I actually know what they came to me for. Although the letter of understanding is a bit unexpected, I can actually understand why they did that. If it were me, I think they would do it for me too.”
He felt the temperature of Lin Qinhe’s palm, and this warmth seemed to give him the courage to continue to cut himself open.
“It’s a pity that I still failed to control my emotions. I didn’t know what was going on. At that moment, I was suddenly aggrieved. I obviously wanted to tell them the truth out loud, but I just couldn’t say it.”
Tao Xi felt that when he said “aggrieved”, the strength of the person holding his hand seemed to be heavier. He felt a little embarrassed when he said that. He raised his head slightly and blinked his eyes. When he turned his head to look at Lin Qinhe, his eyes were full of bright smiles.
He said, “But I don’t seem to be afraid anymore.”
All uneasiness stemmed from expectation and disappeared in greater expectation. When he saw Lin Qinhe in the conference room, he suddenly realized that he had a future and life that belonged to him, that he was looking forward to more.
“Really not afraid?” Lin Qinhe looked at him and asked.
Tao Xi nodded and said in a relaxed tone, “The big deal is that I’ll always live with you, I don’t have to stay in that house, I’ll have to go out sooner or later to study and work.”
Lin Qinhe raised his eyebrows at the words and said, “It’s a big deal to live with me? You have to continue to live with me even after you return home.”
Tao Xi asked with some amusement, “What if they insist that I live at home?”
“Isn’t this your home?” Lin Qinhe asked rhetorically.
Tao Xi was stunned, his eyes fixed on Lin Qinhe, who locked eyes with him and continued, “Maybe there won’t be a certificate to prove it for a long time to come, but this will always remain the same, and there is no need to prove it, you know?”
They couldn’t have a legally recognized relationship in this country, nor could they be in the same household registration, but so what if they didn’t?
Family didn’t need proof.
Tao Xi looked at Lin Qinhe for a long time before he came back to his senses. His eyelids were slightly lowered, but his mouth turned up and said, “I know.”
Instead, he held Lin Qinhe’s hand and scratched his palm. He turned his head and whispered, “Then don’t be angry, okay?”
Before Lin Qinhe took him away today, he was obviously a bit gaffed with those elders. After taking him away, Lin Qinhe suppressed all his emotions, but he knew that Lin Qinhe was probably still having a hard time in his heart.
After being silent for a while, Lin Qinhe said: “I am not angry.”
He was just disappointed at his own inability to do anything about this matter, how could Tao Xi not need relatives. He hoped Tao Xi could have a complete family relationship more than Tao Xi did.
Old Sun greeted a table of guests and walked over to ask if he wanted to add some more wontons. Tao Xi nodded and thanked him, and ate a small bowl of it. In the end, he couldn’t stand up.
The two of them finished their wontons and were going to leave, but Tao Xi suddenly smelled the smell coming from the barbecue stall outside and urged Lin Qinhe to go out and buy them for him.
“Can you still eat?” Lin Qinhe asked, but still went out to buy it for Tao Xi. The barbecue stall business was very good at night. He waited in line for a while before he finished roasting. When he came back, he saw Tao Xi was listening to Old Sun talking, but when he came in, the two stopped talking.
Tao Xi saw Lin Qinhe’s expression a little serious, and when was about to ask what was wrong, Lin Qinhe walked over to him and whispered about Fang Zuqing’s fainting.
Lin Qinhe received a phone call from Su Yun while waiting for the barbecue, and learned that Fang Zuqing had fainted in the conference room and was sent to Hannan Hospital. Fortunately, the old man was not in a serious condition, but only fainted from a momentary shock. The doctor said he would be able to wake up soon.
Tao Xi’s heart skipped a beat at the moment he heard the news, followed by a surge of fear; he could not imagine what to do in case something really happened to Fang Zuqing.
Lin Qinhe took his arm and said soothingly: “Grandpa Fang will be fine.”
At this time, Lin Qinhe’s cell phone received another call, he took it out and saw that it was from Yang Zhengming.
Yang Zhengming rarely contacted Lin Qinhe. He had a bad relationship with Luo Zhengyin, but occasionally contacted Lin Qinhe because of his son. This time he called Lin Qinhe for his real son. Lin Qinhe couldn’t help feeling a little ironic.
Yang Zhengming’s voice was hoarse on the phone. After a few rounds of greetings, he still asked Lin Qinhe tactfully if he could talk to Tao Xi.
Lin Qinhe looked at Tao Xi on the side, Tao Xi whispered to Lin Qinhe, “Tell him, I will go to Hannan Hospital tomorrow.”
Fang Zuqing fell ill, so he should go to visit. Sooner or later, this matter should be laid out and made clear. There was nothing to avoid.
After Lin Qinhe told Yang Zhengming, Yang Zhengming seemed to be a little incredulous. After saying several words of “good” incoherently, he told Lin Qinhe the ward number in detail and asked if he needed to pick up Tao Xi tomorrow. Lin Qinhe refused.
After hanging up the phone, Lin Qinhe said to Tao Xi: “I will take you there tomorrow.”
Tao Xi nodded and agreed.
After they went back that night, while Tao Xi was taking a bath, Lin Qinhe called his father, Lin Zeshi. Before hanging up the phone, Yang Zhengming told him that his mother Luo Zhengyin was not in good condition so she had been picked up by Lin Zeshi.
He knew that after the truth came out, not only the elders of Fang family but also his mother were hit the hardest. The child that was raised with more than ten years of effort was not Fang Sui’s own, it was more difficult and painful for Luo Zhengyin than Yang Zhengming.
Lin Zeshi had obviously learned about Tao Xi through Su Yun. He told Lin Qinhe that Luo Zhengyin did have a relapse of depression. Now he was accompanying her in a nursing home, so Lin Qinhe should not worry.
Tao Xi came out of the shower, wiped his hair with a dry towel and walked to the bedroom. Lin Qinhe was sitting in front of the floor-to-ceiling window looking at the neon lights outside, he looked calm and seemed to be thinking about something.
Noticing Tao Xi’s footsteps, Lin Qinhe returned to his senses, reaching out and wrapping his arm around Tao Xi’s waist, letting him sit on his lap. He picked up the hair dryer that had been placed aside to blow his hair.
He didn’t know why, Lin Qinhe seemed to be very keen on doing this. Tao Xi yawned, hung his head with little effort, and felt the warm wind and slender fingers moving through his hair.
After blowing the hair, Tao Xi raised his hand and touched his head. He was not surprised to feel a messy hair. He sighed silently and leaned against Lin Qinhe’s chest with his eyes closed, and after a while, he asked:
“Are you going to tell me something?”
Lin Qinhe was still trying to fix his hair with his hands. When he heard the words, he stopped his actions and said after careful consideration: “Your…foster mother is in the hospital.”
Before, Tao Jian’s former colleague saw Tao Jian appear in Hannan Hospital and reported it to Su Yun. It was soon discovered that Tao Jian was staying with Guo Ping in Hannan Hospital. After Lin Qinhe knew about it, he hesitated for a long time and never told Tao Xi.
In his original plan, he never wanted Tao Xi himself to tell the truth to the Fang family, he could not bear it.
Knowing that Guo Ping had come to Wenhua City, he planned to let the instigator of all things reveal everything. Guo Ping also agreed, and even offered to apologize to Fang’s family. Because Guo Ping was unable to move around in the hospital bed, only one video was recorded in the end.
He just didn’t expect that there would be another incident with Yang Duole later on, which disrupted his plan.
After hearing that Guo Ping was hospitalized, Tao Xi’s body stiffened for a while, and only after a long time did he calmly ask: “What illness did she have?”
Lin Qinhe said, “Uremia, late stage.”
Tao Xi closed his eyes tightly and leaned his jaw on Lin Qinhe’s shoulder. At that moment, he didn’t know what he was feeling in his heart, it was dull, mixed and confused.
He tried to remember the signs on Guo Ping in the past, but he rarely went home in the past two years, Guo Ping’s face, which was always mixed with sorrow, was even somewhat blurred.
He hates Guo Ping? Hate, of course. But.
Tao Xi buried his face next to Lin Qinhe’s neck and took a deep breath, Lin Qinhe raised his hand and gently stroked the back of Tao Xi’s neck, kissed his hair and whispered, “Go to sleep.”
At this time Tao Xi did not sleep well. He had a long dream. Sometimes it was Guo Ping, sometimes Tao Jian, and finally Tao Le. The little girl hugged him and cried, saying something, but he was awakened by Lin Qinhe without listening clearly.
In the morning Tao Xi and Lin Qinhe went to Hannan Hospital, he bought some fruits near the hospital, like all the younger generations visiting their elders.
But he didn’t expect to run into Tao Jian at the entrance of the inpatient department.
Tao Jian slipped on a pair of slippers, his face seemed to have not shaved for a few days. He looked completely unkempt that Tao Xi almost did not recognize him.
His foster father was carrying a plastic bag in his hand, which seemed to be breakfast. He froze when he saw Tao Xi, his eyes fell on the fruit basket in Tao Xi’s hand for two seconds, and then looked at Lin Qinhe, who had a cold gaze.
Tao Jian sneered and said, “Finally know to see your mother?”
Tao Xi frowned at his words, Tao Jian reacted quickly and knew he was wrong when he saw Tao Xi’s expression. He quickly squeezed out a sneer and said in an odd way, “Oh, it looks like you’ve already recognized your own father and are rushing to do your filial duty?”
Lin Qinhe’s eyes looking at Tao Jian were gloomy.
Tao Xi did not react to Tao Jian’s words, only said calmly, “I don’t have time to argue with you now.”
After saying that, he and Lin Qinhe turned around and continued walking towards the elevator, but after walking a few steps, Tao Xi heard the shuffling sound of slippers coming from behind him, and he paused in his steps.
Tao Jian reached out to grab Tao Xi’s arm, but Tao Xi was wrapped around Lin Qinhe and took a step backward, letting his hand fall short.
He didn’t move his hands anymore, only raised his eyebrows and asked Tao Xi: “Do you know where that kid Yang Duole is now?” The word “Yang Duole” was bitten so hard that he almost gnashed his teeth.
Tao Xi asked rhetorically, “Have you been asking him for money? How come you don’t know?”
Tao Jian’s face suddenly turned pale, his throat and eyes were angry: “I am his old man, his mother is sick, shouldn’t he pay for his mother’s treatment?!”
Tao Xi frowned and said, “I do not know, you go find him yourself.”
Tao Jian fell silent. At that moment, Tao Xi seemed to see heavy exhaustion and depression in the man he had called his father for many years.
Tao Jian finally waved his hand and turned around by himself, but he turned around abruptly after taking a few steps, and said impatiently to Tao Xi, “Go see her if you have time, she wants to see you”, and then walked away completely before Tao Xi agreed.
Tao Xi stood still and did not move for a while.
Lin Qinhe held his hand in the crowd of people pushing out, put it in his palm, pulled him into the elevator, and told him about Guo Ping’s condition.
Guo Ping was already in the late stage of uremia. During this time, she had been undergoing dialysis in the hospital. However, the doctor said that it was better to have a kidney transplant. Tao Le was too young and suffered from lupus erythematosus, and Tao Jian was anxious to find Yang Duole, it should be for this matter.
Tao Xi, however, felt that this might not be Guo Ping’s intention.
Guo Ping was willing to hand him over to others for the sake of this son, and even kept it a secret for more than ten years, would she bear to let him change his kidney for her?
But this had nothing to do with him.
After the elevator door opened, Tao Xi saw Yang Zhengming standing not far from the exit and looking at him, apparently waiting for his arrival.
Yang Zhengming was still wearing the same clothes as yesterday, the expensive fabric was already a little wrinkled and the usual spring, the warm handsome face was heavy with fatigue and he still had the smell of cigarettes. Obviously, he didn’t have much rest that night, but when he saw Tao Xi, he still smiled quickly.
When he called out Tao Xi’s name, there was a moment of unnaturalness for Yang Zhengming. This unnaturalness became more apparent when he tried to take the fruit in Tao Xi’s hand, but Tao Xi said “No, Uncle Yang”.
Yang Zhengming withdrew his stiff hand, his smile lingered at the corner of his mouth, and led the way for the two of them. He had always been good at talking, but at this moment, he didn’t know what to say to his own but unfamiliar child, so he said something like Fang Zuqing had woken up and told him not to worry.
Tao Xi naturally followed Yang Zhengming’s words, not showing any resistance, but also didn’t mean to be close.
To be honest, he did not have a good impression of Yang Zhengming. Just one Guan Fanyun, who resembled his mother but was stupid, and it was enough to make him have a bad impression of this father.
This was after all a family matter between the Fang family and the Yang family, Lin Qinhe knew that it was not very suitable for him to get involved. He held Tao Xi’s hand and squeezed it not too lightly but also not too heavily.
Tao Xi nodded, shook Lin Qinhe’s hand back and let go.
Yang Zhengming saw the hand held by the two of them just now but did not say anything and pushed the ward door open.
Tao Xi looked at the opened door and suddenly remembered that night in the hospital, he hid outside the door of the ward, watching his grandparents wipe tears for Yang Duole on the hospital bed, obviously only a door away, but it was as if they were a world apart.
At this moment, in the same hospital, outside of the same ward, he took a deep breath, took a step and walked to the two old people inside.
T/N: Update daily until it’s complete. There are only six chapters left