Chapter 3: Lost You
Tan Xilu had a dream, a dream of his twenty-year-old self and a twenty-two-year-old Xu Huaiming.
At that time, they were still in the ambiguous stage of their relationship. Tan Xilu was majoring in Chinese literature at a normal college, and Xu Huaiming had a dessert shop near the school.
Tan Xilu had a sweet tooth, and whenever he had free time, he would visit the dessert shop. However, desserts were often high in calories, so Xu Huaiming tried to make some low-calorie yet delicious desserts for him.
During that time, Xu Huaiming created a dessert using toast, milk, and various fruit jams. It had less cream and lower calories but was incredibly delicious. Tan Xilu loved it, and Xu Huaiming even gave it a rather romantic name – “Love Harmony.”
Tan Xilu would eat it three to five times a week because it was simple to make and tasted amazing. The dessert became popular, with many regular customers. However, after Xu Huaiming disappeared, no one had tasted that dessert again.
It had been a long time since Tan Xilu dreamt of eating dessert, and he was surprised to find himself standing in front of a cooking counter with Xu Huaiming.
Xu Huaiming was very serious when making desserts. He would decorate ordinary pieces of bread into various shapes, adorn them with strawberries, kiwis, and other fruits, and sprinkle them with powdered sugar, making them look incredibly enticing.
The Xu Huaiming in Tan Xilu’s dream was the same Xu Huaiming who had kissed him for the first time at the dessert shop.
Xu Huaiming had just prepared a strawberry dessert and placed it in front of Tan Xilu, who was sitting at the bar counter. Tan Xilu picked up a fork and played with the strawberry. It was the largest one Xu Huaiming had chosen, and when Tan Xilu took a bite, he could only eat half of it. He ate very elegantly, keeping his mouth closed, chewing slowly, and then swallowing.
However, because the strawberry was so large, juice overflowed when he took a bite, flowing down to the corners of his mouth. Tan Xilu’s lips were as red as if they were painted with rouge.
Xu Huaiming watched him, and his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. Tan Xilu, still unaware, continued to eat the remaining half of the strawberry. Then he heard Xu Huaiming’s voice, “Ah Lu, do you like the strawberries?”
Tan Xilu glanced up at Xu Huaiming and nodded.
“I want to eat too,” Xu Huaiming smiled.
Xu Huaiming rarely smiled, but he was undeniably attractive, with his eyes that could easily make people’s hearts flutter, just like Tan Xilu, who couldn’t resist such a person.
Tan Xilu fell silent for a moment, then made a sound of agreement and reached out to stroke Xu Huaiming’s face.
The dessert shop was empty at this time, so Tan Xilu felt free to be more forward. With one hand supporting himself on the counter, he closed his eyes and leaned in to kiss Xu Huaiming’s lips.
Xu Huaiming’s lips were cool, without much warmth. As their lips met, he fed the strawberry into Xu Huaiming’s mouth.
Xu Huaiming seemed surprised by Tan Xilu’s sudden initiative, but he quickly reciprocated. His large, firm hand gently cupped the back of Tan Xilu’s head.
This was their first kiss at the dessert shop. The strawberry was soft and juicy, but very sweet.
Their kiss was interrupted by the sound of the shop’s entrance bell as a customer walked in. When they pulled away, Tan Xilu’s lips were even redder.
Tan Xilu didn’t understand why he had this dream. Later, in the dessert shop, they would often exchange kisses, but such intimate feeding was rare. It was too ambiguous, and at that time, they hadn’t officially become a couple.
Both of them were slow to express their feelings and slow to warm up to each other, even in their relationship. It wasn’t until they had been in bed together a couple of times that they realized they were in love.
Tan Xilu’s dream was romantic, as it involved kissing, and, for him, kissing was the most passionate act. While intimacy in bed was a physical response, kissing, when their lips met, was an irresistible display of emotion.
Why was it irresistible? Tan Xilu’s rigid belief was that it was because they were in love.
When Tan Xilu woke up, his heart was still racing. It had been a long time since he had dreamed of Xu Huaiming. In fact, shortly after Xu Huaiming had left, it was as if this person had gradually faded from Tan Xilu’s mind like a slowly erasing file.
Tan Xilu often had to look at their photos to remind himself. He felt that he loved Xu Huaiming, but after Xu Huaiming left, he could quickly forget the person’s face. Tan Xilu was afraid that one day he would forget everything.
“Are you awake?” Xu Huaiming reached out to touch Tan Xilu’s forehead, which was no longer as hot as before.
Tan Xilu blinked, feeling the slightly cold touch of Xu Huaiming’s palm. It took him a moment to realize that this was a living person in front of him, the real Xu Huaiming, not the one from his dream.
“Xu Huaiming,” Tan Xilu called out.
Xu Huaiming looked at him and responded, his hands busy with the hot water he had just poured from the bedside table.
Lin Changyu had suggested giving Tan Xilu a cup of hot water once he woke up.
“Have some hot water first,” Xu Huaiming said.
Tan Xilu didn’t move. He called out again, “Xu Huaiming?”
Xu Huaiming didn’t understand why Tan Xilu kept saying his name, but he didn’t contradict him. His programming told him to respond to Tan Xilu, so he spoke again, “I am Xu Huaiming.”
Xu Huaiming thought that Tan Xilu would be satisfied now, but suddenly, Tan Xilu burst into tears. Tears flowed from his eyes, traced his temples, and wet the pillow.
Tan Xilu looked very well-behaved, at least in Xu Huaiming’s definition. His chin was sharp, indicating his leanness, and his face still had a hint of baby fat. His almond-shaped eyes made him look innocent. Xu Huaiming thought that perhaps no. 7 had created him this way so that Tan Xilu wouldn’t feel lonely.
Tan Xilu climbed out of bed, reached out to touch Xu Huaiming’s face, as if to confirm that this person was real.
Of course, Xu Huaiming was real. He was a replacement created by no. 7, a genuine AI. Tan Xilu didn’t know this; he would only think that this was his Xu Huaiming.
So, for the next five minutes, Tan Xilu held onto Xu Huaiming tightly and cried. This was the culmination of seven years of waiting, and his Xu Huaiming had finally returned.
“Don’t cry,” Xu Huaiming said, pressing Tan Xilu’s head against his shoulder, letting Tan Xilu’s tears wet his clothes. However, he felt uncomfortable with the dampness, so he used his hand to cover Tan Xilu’s eyes, feeling the tears falling into his palm, wet and itchy. He repeated, “Tan Xilu,don’t cry.”
Tan Xilu didn’t stop crying because of his words; instead, his sobbing intensified.
Xu Huaiming found human emotions strange. He had once taken emotional courses in his AI training at the lab, but he had performed poorly in the “sadness” category. He couldn’t empathize with human emotions like this. He had never cried, never felt like he would shed tears for someone or something.
But now, he seemed to understand a bit, because Tan Xilu was crying so intensely. Xu Huaiming realized that he had come seven years too late. In those seven years, Tan Xilu had missed someone whose fate was unknown, and this longing had likely become a habit. Now that the habit was broken by Xu Huaiming’s return, it released seven years of pent-up emotions like a flood. Tan Xilu needed to vent.
So, Xu Huaiming didn’t tell Tan Xilu not to cry again. Instead, he found another way to comfort him.
The pressure around his neck was slightly heavy, and Tan Xilu could smell a faint, refreshing scent from Xu Huaiming’s body. Xu Huaiming gently bit Tan Xilu’s lips, silencing his cries.
Tears streamed down Tan Xilu’s cheeks like fine threads, falling at the corners of his mouth. Xu Huaiming could taste the saltiness of his tears.
Xu Huaiming’s kiss came suddenly, and Tan Xilu wasn’t prepared for it at all. His lips were seized, and Xu Huaiming’s kiss, just like before, was not a gentle lip-to-lip kiss, nor was it a wet one. It was a bite. Tan Xilu felt like a lamb, and Xu Huaiming was a hungry wolf eager to devour him. However, his actions were clumsy at best, like a newborn wolf, lacking any real threat.
But Xu Huaiming didn’t see it that way. He had learned about kissing in his training, and he had kissed a silicone model back then. The model’s lips were very soft, and Xu Huaiming felt that Tan Xilu’s lips were even softer. He couldn’t resist the urge to take a bite, so he did.
Tan Xilu found it hard to breathe. He resisted by pounding Xu Huaiming’s shoulders and finally, Xu Huaiming let go of him, realizing that his actions had been somewhat extreme.
“It hurts,” Tan Xilu said, and Xu Huaiming saw that the corner of his mouth was cut, and it had turned slightly red.
Xu Huaiming felt like he had made a mistake. Although Tan Xilu had stopped crying, he had hurt him.
“Is it really painful? I’m sorry.” Xu Huaiming furrowed his brow. “I’ll get some ointment.” With that, he stood up and was about to leave.
“Hey…” Tan Xilu grabbed Xu Huaiming’s arm lightly and smiled, “It’s not that painful, actually.”
Xu Huaiming paused, pondering the meaning of Tan Xilu’s words. Was it painful or not? Did this mean he didn’t want him to leave?
After a ten-second pause, Xu Huaiming decided to let it go. Humans seemed much more complicated than he had imagined, and he couldn’t understand these strange word games.
At this moment, blood began to flow from Tan Xilu’s lips. Blood droplets emerged from the cut, and Xu Huaiming was about to grab a tissue to help him wipe it away, but Tan Xilu had noticed and reacted quickly. He extended his tender, red tongue and licked it away.
Xu Huaiming’s hand holding the tissue froze in mid-air. He watched as Tan Xilu bit his lip, and his heart couldn’t help but stir. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to keep his emotions calm and steady.
Tan Xilu was really playing dirty.
Were all humans like this? Xu Huaiming understood why the no. 7 was so reluctant to let him go.
“Thank you,” Tan Xilu said when he saw Xu Huaiming holding the tissue, completely unaware that he was a replica.
T/N: Hey there! There is plenty more where that came from, so stay tuned! And stay healthy! Straighten your posture, so some stretches and drink some water before continuing hehe~
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