Regarding the matter of staying overnight, Shen Huiming specifically asked for Suo Yang’s opinion. He was worried that Suo Yang might feel uncomfortable staying here.
However, Suo Yang agreed nonetheless, even though it would indeed be a bit awkward. But he understood that Shen Huiming’s parents meant well; it was snowing heavily outside. It would be quite troublesome for them to return so late at night.
Shen Huiming squeezed Suo Yang’s leg and said to him softly, “Thank you.”
Suo Yang smiled, “For what?”
Shen Huiming shook his head with a smile, then set down the water glass and led Suo Yang into the bedroom to change clothes.
This bedroom was the one Shen Huiming used to live in before he moved out. He had moved when he was in his third year of high school, and now it had been over ten years. It could be said that Shen Huiming’s youthful memories had left their traces here.
Two sets of dark blue striped pyjamas were neatly laid out on the bed, which they noticed as soon as they entered.
The two of them changed their clothes in the bedroom, and after changing, Suo Yang looked at the certificates on the wall and smiled.
“They’ve all faded,” Shen Huiming sat beside him. “It’s been a long time.”
The wall was half-covered with awards that Shen Huiming had received during his school days. On the bookshelf, there was a section filled with red award certificates. Suo Yang could even imagine how much Shen Huiming had been favoured in school back then.
He looks handsome and excels in his studies, the typical ‘kid from someone else’s family1this refers to the kid the parents would always compare their children with, typically because this kid is better than theirs’.
Suo Yang said, “Auntie must be very proud of you.”
After all these years, these certificates and awards were still well-preserved, not a speck of dust even in the corners of the bookshelf.
He suddenly thought of his own room, the small bedroom in the old house in his hometown. He wondered if anyone had entered it again after he left.
“How should I put it…” Shen Huiming sat on the edge of the bed with Suo Yang, looking up at the awards posted on the wall. “Back then, I didn’t understand many things, didn’t think too much about it. I just knew that my parents were happy when they saw me come home with awards, and I wanted to make them happy. So, I worked hard to do better and win more awards. I thought that’s what they wanted, a sense of family pride, and I felt obligated to uphold it.”
Suo Yang turned to look at him.
“But as I grew up, I realized that what they truly wanted wasn’t just a stack of certificates and awards. ‘Family pride’ didn’t need to be maintained in this way,” Shen Huiming said. “As parents, what they most want to see is their child living well. Not in terms of how much money they earn, how many possessions they acquire, or how much fame and fortune they gain, but in terms of living the life they truly want, being with the person they genuinely love.”
Suo Yang listened to Shen Huiming’s words and looked down at his hands resting on his knees.
Shen Huiming stretched out his hand and put his warm palm on the back of Suo Yang’s cool hand.
“All parents are actually the same; it’s just that some of them need time to admit it,” Shen Huiming said. “Let’s go have dinner; my dad is waiting to have a drink with us.”
Suo Yang knew he was comforting him, so he reached out and shook his hand, smiling as he stood up.
“Let’s go, don’t make Uncle wait too long.”
Having dinner with Shen Huiming’s family initially made Suo Yang very nervous. However, once he immersed himself in the scene, it seemed like all the pressure dissipated along with the steam rising from the hotpot.
The four of them sat around the dining table in the cosy warmth of their home, all wearing pyjamas and relaxing their nerves.
This was their second meeting, and this time, there wasn’t the same cautiousness during their conversations. They ate more meat some vegetables, and had another glass of wine.
Suo Yang’s face quickly turned red, and he couldn’t quite tell if it was because of the heat, the alcohol, or maybe because Shen Huiming’s parents were so easygoing that it made him a bit shy.
The more time he spent with Shen Huiming’s family, the more he loved Shen Huiming.
A man who grew up in such a family atmosphere will always be kind and gentle in the deepest part of his heart.
Halfway through drinking, the topic turned to Suo Yang’s parents.
This time, Suo Yang didn’t evade the topic; he answered Shen Huiming’s mother’s questions before Shen Huiming could change the subject.
“My parents still don’t know that I’m together with Huiming,” Suo Yang said, gripping his chopsticks a little harder, trying to speak in a more relaxed tone. “I came out to my family a few years ago, but it didn’t go well. I didn’t handle it properly, so we didn’t have contact for several years.”
His words made everyone quiet for a few seconds, and it was Shen Huiming’s father who broke the silence first.
He said, “It’s not easy for the parents to accept when they are suddenly told about this. It took me and Auntie a long time to process it.”
Speaking of this, Shen Huiming actually felt uncomfortable. He knew that his parents had put in much more effort than he had when it came to dealing with this matter.
He considered himself lucky to have parents like them. Whenever something happened, they never blamed their child first; instead, they reflected on themselves first.
Even now, Shen Huiming remembered the day he came out to his parents. His mother was silent for a long time, and the first thing she said to him afterwards was, “I’m sorry, it’s been so long, and my mother didn’t notice it at all.”
At that time, his mother had asked him if hiding the secret for so many years had been painful, if he had been sad, and if he had felt conflicted. Shen Huiming, who rarely cried, had held his mother and cried loudly that day.
After that, he was liberated, but his parents had been caught in a difficult, sad, and conflicted situation. To avoid burdening their son, they even sought psychological counselling.
Parents like them were truly irreplaceable and hard to come by.
“You’ve all been through a lot, but it’s not easy for your parents too.” Shen Huiming’s father said, “Giving each other some time to cool down is good, but those emotional knots must be untangled sooner or later. Most importantly, don’t leave room for regrets.”
Suo Yang understood what he meant and held back tears as he said, “Thank you, Uncle.”
Shen Huiming’s mother took over and said, “Xiao Suo, if you want to come home, just come back with Huiming. Don’t hesitate to ask if there’s anything we can help with.”
Suo Yang felt that he was unworthy to receive such tenderness.
But because it was too rare and precious, he couldn’t refuse it.
He thought, ‘Let me be selfish this once. I know I don’t deserve it, but I’ll accept all this kindness.’
Once these topics were over, the atmosphere became light-hearted again.
Shen Huiming’s parents shared stories about Shen Huiming’s childhood, and his mom even mentioned, “I once went to have Huiming’s fortune told to find out when he could get married. The fortune teller at the time told me in a roundabout way that he might not get married in this life. I was so angry back then, thinking the fortune teller was a scam artist. But not long after, maybe six months later, Huiming told me he liked men. Well, the fortune teller was right!”
Suo Yang smiled and listened with delight.
Shen Huiming said helplessly, “Mom, how come I didn’t know about this?”
“Then can I let you know? There are many things you don’t know. What would happen if you knew them all?” Shen Huiming’s mom continued, “Later, I went to look for that fortune teller to apologize. After all, he had been quite accurate. But it turned out the fortune teller had retired and gone into seclusion in the mountains.”
“It would have been nice to know about this earlier,” Shen Huiming joked, “He should have told me when I would strike gold in my business.”
His words made everyone laugh.
Because they didn’t plan to leave at night, Suo Yang and Shen Huiming accompanied their parents to drink openly. At the end of the night, Shen Huiming’s mother called a halt, urging everyone to go to wash up and go to bed.
Shen Huiming’s parents went to wash up first, leaving the two young men behind to tidy up.
Once everything was cleaned up, Shen Huiming said, “I still smell like hotpot.”
“Go take a shower first.” Suo Yang said, “I’ll wait for you.”
“No, let’s go together,” Shen Huiming teased with a smile.
Suo Yangming knew it was a joke, but his ears were still red.
It was not that the two of them hadn’t washed together, but after all, they were currently at Shen Huiming’s parents’ home, so they couldn’t be too bold.
Seeing that he was embarrassed, Shen Huiming put his arm around his shoulder and smiled, “Just kidding, you go first. I’ll talk to my mother for a while.”
Suo Yang nodded and went to take a shower.
Shen Huiming, who smelled like hot pot, went to chat with his mother, and the topic naturally revolved around Suo Yang.
Suo Yang came out soon after washing. When he saw those two people on the balcony, he hesitated whether to call Shen Huiming or not.
Fortunately, Shen Huiming saw him before he made a sound.
Suo Yang nodded and then greeted Shen Huiming’s mother politely.
“Alright, I’ll go wash up now,” Shen Huiming said as he walked over, giving Suo Yang’s shoulder a light pat, “Would you like to chat with my mom for a while?”
“Me?” Suo Yang was a little surprised.
“Yeah, go ahead.”
Shen Huiming went into the bathroom, leaving Suo Yang and his mother in the living room.
Suo Yang walked over and took a shawl from the sofa, offering it to Shen Huiming’s mom, “Auntie, it’s cold on the balcony.”
Shen Huiming’s mom smiled and wrapped herself in the shawl, saying, “You’re such a considerate child.”
Suo Yang couldn’t quite tell whether he was a considerate person or not. From a young age, he had worked hard to be an obedient and considerate child. However, on the day he left home, his mom’s final words to him were, “Why are you so inconsiderate?”
“I chatted with Huiming just now.” Shen Huiming’s mother looked out of the window. In the middle of the night, the snow fell even harder. “He said that tomorrow is your birthday.”
“Yes, the last day of the year.”
“It’s your birthday, and you’re a year older.” Shen Huiming’s mother looked at him with a smile, “Auntie just found out about this, and I didn’t even have time to prepare a gift for you.”
“Please, no need for the trouble. It’s already my honour to spend today with Huiming.”
“You see, you won’t let me be troubled, but you’re still so polite when talking to me.” She smiled at Suo Yang. “Uncle and I were introduced by colleagues at work at that time. We met, got to know each other a bit, and then decided to start a relationship leading to marriage. Back then, we didn’t have a grand love story. It developed as we spent more time together. For a lasting relationship, there are many factors to consider. Your lives are probably more challenging than we can imagine, but Uncle and I both believe that your choices have been well thought out. Neither of you is the type to make impulsive decisions.”
Suo Yang nodded, “Yes Auntie, we take our relationship seriously. We understand that matters of the heart are not to be taken lightly.”
“Yes, I believe in both of you. In the future, if you face any difficulties or troubles in life or work, come and talk to us. This place is your home too.”
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