Chapter 4: Every Day
Tan Xilu absentmindedly drank the now cold water that had been left sitting for a while. His lips, which hadn’t fully healed, stung as the water touched them. He took a sip, maintaining his composure as he watched Xu Huaiming cooking in the kitchen.
It had been a week since Xu Huaiming returned, and Tan Xilu still found it hard to believe that he was here in the flesh.
He couldn’t help but pinch his palm. It hurt.
After a few seconds, he couldn’t help but chuckle. Xu Huaiming had really come back; this wasn’t a dream.
With that thought in mind, Tan Xilu lifted his lips slightly and stood up from the sofa. He walked to the kitchen door, leaning against the frame as he said to Xu Huaiming, “Don’t overcook the noodles, okay?”
The boiling pot of noodles rolled and frothed, spilling white foam. Xu Huaiming gently stirred the noodles, sprinkled some fine salt, and covered the pot with a lid, reducing the heat.
“Sure,” Xu Huaiming replied. He continued to prepare the broth on the side. This was a clear noodle soup that he had learned from a short video platform today. Tan Xilu was still recovering from his illness and couldn’t eat overly spicy food, so Xu Huaiming had started making some milder dishes.
Perhaps due to his intelligent AI nature, Xu Huaiming quickly picked up various skills. He could remember everything like a program after just one run-through, much like the saying, “photographic memory.”
Xu Huaiming poured some vinegar into the bottom of the bowls and then lifted the lid of the noodle pot. The noodles were cooked perfectly, breaking with a light touch. To maintain their chewiness, he rinsed them in cold water briefly before placing them in the bowls. Finally, he sprinkled chopped green onions and a fried egg on top of the noodles.
Two bowls of clear noodle soup were placed on the dining table.
After observing for a week, Xu Huaiming noticed that Tan Xilu had a particular fondness for noodles. Whether it was knife-cut noodles, hot dry noodles, or dan dan noodles, he enjoyed them all. So, Xu Huaiming made various noodle dishes to cater to his preferences.
Xu Huaiming handed a pair of freshly rinsed chopsticks to Tan Xilu and said, “I lost track of time just now, and I’m not sure if the noodles are overcooked.”
Tan Xilu took the chopsticks and picked up a strand of noodles, bringing it to his mouth and tasting it before answering Xu Huaiming’s question. “It’s not bad, quite delicious, and not too soft.”
“That’s good,” Xu Huaiming replied, and he began to eat his own noodles.
Xu Huaiming’s bodily functions were similar to humans, and he had his own digestive system. However, unlike humans, he only needed to excrete waste once a month. In other words, he could eat for a month before needing to eliminate waste. But Xu Huaiming didn’t like the process of digestion. His method of waste elimination was different from humans, requiring him to go to a specialized waste disposal room at the lab, where he would connect to a professional waste disposal system through his mouth and expel the waste, similar to human vomiting.
Xu Huaiming had more sensitive senses than humans. The discomfort in his throat when he vomited made him uncomfortable for half a day. During this time, he couldn’t drink water because it would make him feel even more uncomfortable. Therefore, in the lab, he usually chose to eat liquid food. However, in front of Tan Xilu, this was not an option. He was supposed to be a “human,” and he couldn’t live like an AI. As a result, he ate very little.
The taste of the noodles was indeed good, and the fried egg was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. When you took a bite and dipped it in the soup, it was very flavorful. However, Xu Huaiming didn’t particularly like eating eggs; he always found such food to be somewhat fishy. The only exception was food where you couldn’t see the eggs, like cakes. But Tan Xilu loved this type of food, and sometimes in the morning, he would eat a fried egg along with a boiled one.
So, Xu Huaiming placed the fried egg from his own bowl into Tan Xilu’s bowl and said, “You can have mine too.”
“Thanks,” Tan Xilu replied without looking up, as if it was a common occurrence.
Because in the past, Xu Huaiming had always taken good care of Tan Xilu, he was well aware of Tan Xilu’s preferences, and he would avoid foods that Tan Xilu didn’t like when cooking. He had taken care of Tan Xilu so well that Tan Xilu couldn’t handle his sudden absence.
— How could the person who loved me and took care of me so much just disappear like that?
Fortunately, Xu Huaiming was back now, and Tan Xilu would be well taken care of again.
The meal didn’t take long. Tan Xilu had another class in the afternoon, and he needed to prepare his lecture materials in advance. This public class was important because a professor would be attending, and there were also other students from the department who were interested in the topic.
After the meal, Xu Huaiming washed the dishes and changed his clothes before driving Tan Xilu to the university. After dropping him off, he headed to the dessert shop that used to be run by no. 7 at the university.
The dessert shop had been closed ever since no. 7 returned to the lab. It had been closed for seven years, during which time the city had changed a lot, but the shop’s front remained dusty.
Tan Xilu wanted Xu Huaiming to reopen the shop, and Xu Huaiming couldn’t refuse. However, he had no previous experience making desserts; it would take him some time to learn. The shop’s renovation would coincide with his learning period.
When Xu Huaiming arrived at the shop, the renovation workers had already started installing the counter. The renovation was not very complicated, so it progressed quickly. A few days ago, the shop had just been repainted, and today, with the counter in place, they only needed to purchase some equipment.
Inside the shop, the workers were busy, while Xu Huaiming sat outside and opened his laptop to watch dessert tutorials. He had been doing this for the past few days. He and Tan Xilu would come to the university together, and then Tan Xilu would attend classes while Xu Huaiming watched tutorials outside the dessert shop. When Tan Xilu finished his classes and returned home, they would go back together.
Tan Xilu’s public class lasted for two hours. Xu Huaiming had drained his laptop’s battery by the time he finished watching tutorials. However, he had learned quite a bit today, mastering the techniques for at least five different desserts. Now he just needed to put them into practice.
When Xu Huaiming reached the university’s entrance, Tan Xilu had just come out of the school building. He was accompanied by a tall and seemingly cheerful guy who was talking to him. The guy said something that made Tan Xilu smile, and in response, the guy also smiled.
Tan Xilu had originally been smiling, but when he raised his head and saw Xu Huaiming across the street, he suddenly became serious. He turned to the guy and said, “Someone’s here to pick me up. About what you mentioned, I’ll consider it. Don’t stay out too late tonight, and don’t drink too much. I don’t want to have to come and rescue you guys like before.”
“I got it, Teacher Tan,” the guy said, wearing a slightly teasing expression. “Does Teacher Tan have a girlfriend now? Lately, you’re not working overtime at all. You leave right on time.”
Tan Xilu didn’t deny the first question, but he had an explanation for the second one. “It’s not that I’m getting old, it’s just that as soon as I’m at school, you guys drag me into having fun. I’m not as young as you all anymore.”
In reality, part of it was because he wanted to spend more time alone with Xu Huaiming.
“What do you mean you’re not young anymore, Teacher Tan? You’re not even thirty yet. Don’t call yourself old,” the guy said playfully. As he finished speaking, he noticed someone blocking their path. He was about to step aside, but then he realized that Tan Xilu, who was beside him, had stopped moving. He followed Tan Xilu’s gaze and saw a tall man standing in front of them. The man had an expressionless face, possibly because he was wearing golden wire-framed glasses, giving him a distant look.
He stood in front of Tan Xilu and looked at him without saying a word.
“Teacher Tan, is this your friend?” the guy asked tentatively.
Tan Xilu made an “ah” sound, seemingly considering how to explain his relationship with Xu Huaiming.
Before he could say anything, Xu Huaiming took the initiative to hold Tan Xilu’s hand. His voice had a distinct metallic quality as he said to the guy, “I’m Ah Lu’s boyfriend. My name is Xu Huaiming.”
The bus moved slowly, and it was around four or five in the afternoon, which was the time when schools let out. The bus was crowded, and at every stop, many students in blue and white uniforms got on.
Tan Xilu and Xu Huaiming sat in the last row of seats. The twilight sun shone through the windows, casting their figures in a warm glow. Both of them had no particular expressions on their faces, but their hands were intertwined on their laps.
It was unclear who looked at the other first, but both of them broke into smiles.
Xu Huaiming was looking at Tan Xilu when he smiled, and Tan Xilu smiled back, sweetly.
Since Xu Huaiming’s return, Tan Xilu had refrained from asking where he had been all these years, not because he didn’t want to know, but because he didn’t dare to ask.
Their first major argument back then had been about whether or not to publicly acknowledge their relationship.
Although same-sex marriage had been legal for several years, it was still unacceptable to many people. Tan Xilu claimed that he had no such concerns. His parents had received a higher education, and when Tan Xilu had just started dating, they had expressed the hope that he would bring his boyfriend home to meet them. At first, Tan Xilu thought that their relationship wasn’t stable enough for that, but later, after he and Xu Huaiming had solidified their relationship, he decided to introduce Xu Huaiming to his parents. However, what caught Tan Xilu off guard was Xu Huaiming’s strong resistance.
Xu Huaiming appeared quite unhappy, his brows furrowed. He asked, “Did you tell your parents about us?”
Tan Xilu was taken aback by Xu Huaiming’s reaction, freezing in place. He stammered, “Uh, is that not allowed?”
Xu Huaiming didn’t say it was not allowed; he simply shook his head.
Tan Xilu forced a smile, tugging at Xu Huaiming’s arm awkwardly. He said, “It’s okay; my parents will really like you.”
Xu Huaiming still shook his head, and this time, he spoke, “Ah Lu, I don’t need others to like me. It’s enough for me if you do.”
Tan Xilu didn’t insist further, and that night, the two of them lay on the same bed in silence.
The next morning, Tan’s mother called, asking when Tan Xilu and his boyfriend would be coming home. Tan Xilu looked at Xu Huaiming, who was tending to plants on the balcony, and said to his mother, “Mom, he’s been busy these past few days. We’ll come home when we have some free time.”
Tan’s mother seemed disappointed but didn’t say much.
The excuse of being busy was quite weak, and it only took two times for Tan’s mother to suspect that something was amiss. Perhaps it was because she had watched too many soap operas, making her quite astute. She said to Tan Xilu, “Don’t tell me your boyfriend doesn’t want to marry you, so he doesn’t want to meet your parents. Why else wouldn’t he want to come with you?”
“How could that be, Mom? Don’t make wild assumptions. He really likes me,” Tan Xilu replied.
“Then why doesn’t he come with you? What’s the matter? Would it hurt to be with you for a while?” Tan’s mother said, “I think he simply doesn’t care about you.”
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~
If you like my translations, feel free to donate to my ko-fi!
I really, really appreciate all the support from my readers <3 It goes a long way and motivates me lots!
Also, check out the other series we have on HoH!
If you like cats, check out Revenge of the Garfield
What about the perfect, most non-toxic male lead ever? Laws of Love
How about MC nursing ML back to health? Forced into the Deep
Thank you for all your support <3 Leave a comment if you like 🙂 I love reading them!