Chapter 13: The Difficulty of Love
It wasn’t yet time for the central heating to be turned on, so the hospital’s radiators were still cold. The advantage of a multi-bed room was that it wouldn’t be too cold with so many people, but it also meant that it was noisy due to the crowd.
On the side, an elderly man who was ill was using the restroom, and an elderly lady was holding a urine pot for him, emitting a nauseating odor in the air. However, Tan Xilu seemed numb to it all, sipping his porridge as if he couldn’t smell anything.
The rice porridge in the porcelain bowl was still warm. He scooped up a spoonful and put it in his mouth. The porridge had soybeans simmering inside, and when he chewed, there was a soft crunch in his mouth.
Sitting next to him, Tan Xilu was peeling an orange, meticulously removing the white fibers from the orange segments.
After taking the last sip of porridge, Tan Xilu grabbed a piece of tissue and wiped his mouth clean. Then he leaned comfortably against the hospital bed, looking at his elevated leg. He suddenly sighed, “I have to say, that guy is really ruthless.”
Tan Xilu glanced at him and placed the orange he had been peeling into Tan Xilu’s hand. “You, you just won’t give up. Now look, your leg is fractured.”
“Yeah, maybe it’s because he really dislikes me,” Tan Xilu replied, putting a slice of orange into his mouth. The orange was a bit sour, and the juice in his throat was a bit stimulating, but it didn’t make him hoarse. He gritted his teeth and swallowed it. Then he exclaimed, “Tan Lao Shi, where did this orange come from? It’s so sour.”
“It was given to me by the auntie at the entrance just now. It’s free, so don’t be picky,” Tan Xilu said, peeling another orange and placing it by the bedside.
“Oh,” Tan Xilu replied, pursing his lips. He asked, “Hasn’t anyone come to see me since I was admitted to the hospital?”
Tan Xilu shook his head.
Tan Xilu remained silent for a while with lowered eyes, then finally spoke, “I can imagine.”
Tan Xilu could understand why Tan Xilu was feeling so low. The love of a young person was hidden in their eyes. When they saw someone, the stars in their eyes shone brighter than the ones in the sky. However, that person was destined not to be moved, so no matter how bright the stars were, they couldn’t illuminate that person’s heart.
Tan Xilu reached out and gently touched Tan Xilu’s head, comforting him, “Don’t think too much for now. Let’s focus on healing your leg.”
When he was brought to the hospital, his pants had to be pulled down to reveal his knees, which were covered in bruises. Fortunately, Tan Xilu had only suffered a fracture and hadn’t damaged the bones inside, but he would still need several months to recover.
Tan Xilu bit his lip, feeling disheartened. Who didn’t understand the logic behind this? But “liking” was a complicated thing, not something he could control. The heart in his flesh and blood would be moved by someone, and he didn’t want to like him, but he couldn’t help it.
He liked Chi Yexing, and he knew it was impossible.
But he still liked him.
Perhaps it was the sour aftertaste of the oranges, as a sour sensation surged up in his nasal cavity, and his eyes began to tingle. He felt like he was about to cry, but he was a man, how could he cry?
“If you can’t hold it back, just cry. Have a good cry and then sleep, maybe everything will be fine,” Tan Xilu said, feeling a bit sorry for him. In matters of love, unrequited love was the most heartbreaking.
Perhaps because he had touched on Tan Xilu’s innermost feelings, he really couldn’t hold back and began to cry. The big young man might have never cried like this before, and the sound was so unpleasant that the crying child brought by a patient’s family member also started wailing. Suddenly, the entire ward was enveloped in cries.
Tan Xilu: “…”
He wished he hadn’t let him cry.
After crying, came sleep. After seeing Tan Xilu take a shallow breath, Tan Xilu covered him with the blanket and then left the room.
He had been out all day and hadn’t called Xu Huaiming. He didn’t know if Xu Huaiming was worried. He sighed and went to a quieter stairwell to call Xu Huaiming.
Yesterday, Arlene had said she wanted to buy a Christmas tree, and today at noon, she had it moved to the store.
Xu Huaiming was decorating the tree with Arlene. Arlene had bought many star-shaped lights, as well as copper bells and figurines. When they were hung on the tree and the lights were turned on, the tree looked gorgeous.
Arlene hung a Santa Claus figurine on the tree that could sing. It started singing as soon as she pressed the button. Just as Santa Claus had sung only one line, Xu Huaiming’s phone rang. He quickly took out his phone and saw that it was Tan Xilu’s number. He answered the call.
Xu Huaiming asked, “How’s it going? Is everything resolved?”
Tan Xilu replied with an “Hmm,” “It’s resolved, but it was a difficult situation. I’m in the hospital now, so I might be a bit late getting back.”
“In the hospital?” Xu Huaiming’s voice on the other end suddenly changed, and there was a loud clattering noise. Then came Xu Huaiming’s anxious voice, “Are you injured? Which hospital are you in?”
“I’m fine, it’s one of my students who’s injured, and I’m just here to accompany him. You should remember him; he’s the one we saw at the school gate before,” Tan Xilu explained.
“Oh, him.” Xu Huaiming’s voice gradually softened. He was feeling a bit unhappy about the unfamiliar man from yesterday and now this student today. It seemed like Tan Xilu didn’t really lack people around him and didn’t need him.
“Ah, Xu Huaiming, look outside, it’s snowing,” Tan Xilu said as he saw the snow starting to fall. He opened a window slightly and extended his hand. It was the first snowfall of the year, and the white snowflakes fell into his palm. The warmth from the radiator was replaced by the cold of the snowflakes, creating a strange sensation.
Upon hearing Tan Xilu mention the snow, Xu Huaiming had just picked up a plastic bottle that had fallen on the ground. He then walked out of the store. It was indeed snowing, and many pedestrians on the street had stopped to take videos or photos. Xu Huaiming wasn’t particularly interested in snow or anything else, but as long as Tan Xilu liked it, he felt he should like it too. So he said, “Yes, it’s snowing. It’s beautiful.”
A girl nearby was talking on the phone with her boyfriend, probably in a long-distance relationship. She complained, “The first snow should be watched with the person you love the most. You can’t come today, so I have to be alone.”
The boyfriend said, “I’ll definitely come back to be with you on Christmas. Don’t be upset, darling.”
Xu Huaiming didn’t hear what the girl said afterward; he was asking about the hospital where Tan Xilu was.
Without an umbrella, the snow was getting heavier. The streetlights emitted a dim yellow glow, and the falling snowflakes made everything hazy. The road leading to the hospital was lined with pine trees, where green met white, and the world was a blend of black, green, and white.
Xu Huaiming couldn’t wait to see Tan Xilu. On the first snowy night, he wanted to be with the person he loved the most. He thought that Tan Xilu would surely appreciate this little romantic gesture. He ran all the way, grateful for his AI body, which didn’t tire out and was full of energy.
Passersby would probably never understand why the man running happily on the road seemed so ecstatic.
And at that moment, Xu Huaiming didn’t understand either. It would take a long time, much later, for him to realize that what he was feeling was called love. It was the yearning and eagerness to see someone. He had actually fallen for Tan Xilu long ago; he had just been slow to react, and he understood this truth too late.
When he arrived at the hospital, the ground was already covered with a layer of snow. Many children from the hospital had run outside to play with snowballs. As Xu Huaiming passed by them, he got accidentally hit.
Xu Huaiming brushed the snow off his clothes and called Tan Xilu again. He said, “I’m downstairs.”
A few minutes later, a familiar figure rushed out of the building. Tan Xilu looked worried, thinking that Xu Huaiming must be cold since he didn’t know that he had run all the way. He touched Xu Huaiming’s face, which had turned pale from the cold, and said, “Didn’t I say I’d be back later? The parents of my student are coming soon, and once they’re here, I can leave.”
“I know,” Xu Huaiming replied, looking at him, feeling a bit uncertain whether he had misread the situation. Tan Xilu didn’t seem to appreciate this little romantic gesture, and he continued, “Don’t you want to see me?”
“How could that be? I just thought it wasn’t necessary since we’ll be able to see each other soon anyway. But I’m really happy you came,” Tan Xilu said, tilting his head to give Xu Huaiming’s lips a gentle peck. “It’s so cold outside. Did you get cold?”
Xu Huaiming’s hand was pale and felt ice-cold. He was always cold, and his body temperature was consistently low. Sometimes, Tan Xilu would wake up in the middle of the night and touch Xu Huaiming’s hand, which would be so cold that it startled him. He would have to hold it against his own warm body to heat it up before they could sleep again.
Tan Xilu took the opportunity to warm Xu Huaiming’s hand with his own.
Xu Huaiming felt that something was off. Did Tan Xilu really not like this kind of small romantic gesture? He didn’t seem particularly excited, and Xu Huaiming furrowed his brow, feeling puzzled. “When I was on the phone earlier, I overheard a girl nearby saying that on the first snowy night, you should be with the person you like. So, I came here. But you don’t seem to have much of a reaction.”
Tan Xilu was momentarily taken aback, then suddenly burst into laughter.
In his student years, he would have certainly found this romantic, but now that he was approaching thirty, he found it somewhat childish. However, seeing Xu Huaiming, who had come to see him with such innocent and awkward intentions, did warm his heart with a touch of sweetness.
“Who said I didn’t react?” Tan Xilu grabbed the collar of Xu Huaiming’s clothes with both hands, forcing him to lower his head.
Xu Huaiming’s lips were as cold as his hands and feet, but that didn’t matter. Tan Xilu was warm, and he took the initiative to kiss him.
Before coming down, Tan Xilu had eaten oranges, and the sour taste lingered on his lips and teeth.
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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