Chapter 19: The Lonely Warrior
Tan Xilu had slept until the afternoon again, and when he woke up, it was already dark outside. He hadn’t eaten anything the whole day, and after a few hours of being restless, he was feeling very hungry. He reached out to turn on the bedside lamp.
Perhaps sensing the light in the bedroom, Xu Huaiming, who was outside, walked in and stood at the door, looking at Tan Xilu. He said, “Awake?”
Tan Xilu responded with a soft “Hmm” and added, “I’m hungry.”
Xu Huaiming replied, “I’ve made meatball soup for you. Get up and eat.”
Tan Xilu stretched his hand out, and Xu Huaiming walked over. He gently pulled back the covers that were dr4p3d over Tan Xilu, fastened the buttons on his pajamas, and then lifted him out of bed.
As a boyfriend, Xu Huaiming was more than qualified. He doted on Tan Xilu and had even contemplated proposing. However, as a replica, these actions were expected, and they couldn’t hold onto this person forever.
Tan Xilu went to wash up by himself while Xu Huaiming prepared the meatball soup for him. Xu Huaiming intentionally served extra meatballs in the soup, garnished with some chopped green onions, making it look quite appetizing.
When Tan Xilu came over, Xu Huaiming had already placed the porcelain bowl on the dining table. He handed Tan Xilu a spoon and gently clinked it against the bowl. Tan Xilu sat down, picked up the spoon, and stirred the meatball soup before taking a bite.
The meatballs were juicy, and as Tan Xilu bit into one, hot broth burst into his mouth. He exclaimed, “Hot, hot!” and grimaced, enduring the burning sensation as he swallowed the meatball. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he said, “It’s really hot.”
Xu Huaiming rushed to bring him a glass of water and placed it in front of him. He couldn’t help but remark, “Why are you in such a hurry? There’s no one here to snatch it from you.”
Tan Xilu chuckled and retorted, “You sound just like my mom. She always says I eat too fast.”
Xu Huaiming handed him a tissue and said, “Well, it’s true.”
Tan Xilu wiped his mouth with the tissue and continued, “Because I was often hungry when I was a child.”
Thinking about that woman, Tan Xilu’s expression darkened. “My parents were busy with their careers at the time, so they didn’t have time to take care of me. They hired a nanny for me, but that nanny had her own grandson, whom she favored. So, my childhood was marked by being rarely well-fed. I was too young to talk about it to my parents, and I didn’t understand that it was wrong. It was only as I grew up that I realized it was unfair. However, the nanny had already left by then.”
Childhood traumas can leave deep scars, and that’s why Tan Xilu understood Lin Changyu’s situation so well and felt sympathetic toward him. After the age of ten, his parents, once their careers were more stable, made up for the lost love and care. But Lin Changyu had received none of that.
Tan Xilu was a kind-hearted person, perhaps influenced by his difficult childhood experiences. He couldn’t bear to see others suffering.
Xu Huaiming realized that he didn’t really know Tan Xilu well. In fact, even Seven, the AI replica, didn’t fully understand Tan Xilu. Xu Huaiming felt a pang of sympathy for Tan Xilu and reached out to gently touch his face, saying, “I won’t let you go hungry in the future.”
Tan Xilu, slightly surprised by the touch, smiled and replied, “I’m not a little kid anymore. Why would I let myself go hungry?”
Xu Huaiming chuckled, feeling a bit foolish, and said, “You’re right.”
Why would Tan Xilu go hungry when he had someone like Xu Huaiming by his side? He wasn’t alone anymore, and there were others who cared for him.
With this thought in mind, Xu Huaiming released his hand from where he had been touching Tan Xilu’s face.
On New Year’s Eve, Qin Sizhe was finally getting discharged from the hospital. After a hundred days of recuperation following his bone and muscle injuries, he could now go home and continue his recovery. Tan Xilu visited the hospital, and Qin Sizhe had just gotten out of bed, with his mother helping him arrange the bedding.
Seeing Tan Xilu, Qin Sizhe smiled and said, “Teacher Tan.”
Tan Xilu nodded and asked, “Is your leg not hurting anymore?”
“It’s okay, as long as I don’t move too much,” Qin Sizhe replied.
Qin Sizhe’s mother, upon seeing Tan Xilu, greeted him with a warm smile and said, “Teacher Tan, you’ve come! Last time, when my husband and I visited, we didn’t properly host you. I heard from his uncle that Sīzhé always causes trouble. I’m afraid he’s been quite a handful for you.”
Tan Xilu politely responded, “Not at all. Sīzhé is quite obedient.”
Qin Sizhe’s mother chuckled and said, “Oh my, I still have some apples. Let me wash them for you.” She bent down to pick up some apples.
“No need, really,” Tan Xilu quickly waved his hand.
“But I insist,” Mrs. Qín said.
“Just call me Mom,” Qin Sizhe said, “she’s free.”
“You’re quite the character,” Tan Xilu teased.
“Exactly, I’m free,” Mrs. Qín laughed.
Mrs. Qín was a warm-hearted person, and her son, Qin Sizhe, took after her. Tan Xilu remembered the first time he met Qin Sizhe. In their class, there was a girl who wasn’t particularly attractive, and sometimes she would be teased by the boys in the class. Since they were all adults, they didn’t resort to telling the teacher, and most people adopted an “it’s not my business” attitude. However, Qin Sizhe was different. Perhaps because he and the girl were from the same high school, he had gone to confirm the situation and, after receiving confirmation, had beaten up those boys.
When he explained it to the class advisor, he said, “A group of guys bullying a girl, no backbone.”
Of course, he received criticism for his actions, but Tan Xilu, who happened to be listening in the office at the time, couldn’t help but smile. Qin Sizhe was right; those boys had no backbone.
But he, Qin Sizhe, had plenty.
Unfortunately, this brave and kind-hearted boy had fallen for someone who was very straight.
Tan Xilu thought it was Mrs. Qín returning after washing the apples, but he was surprised to see someone unexpected entering the room.
It seemed that Chi Yexing had arrived in a hurry, looking disheveled. Upon entering, he first noticed Tan Xilu and frowned slightly before shifting his gaze to Qin Sizhe.
He looked at Qin Sizhe’s tightly wrapped leg and hesitated for a moment before speaking, “I heard from Uncle Qín that you’re getting discharged today.”
Qin Sizhe didn’t raise his eyes to look at him and remained silent.
Chi Yexing then turned to Tan Xilu and said, “Teacher Tan, could you step outside for a moment? I’d like to talk to Sīzhé.”
“Sure,” Tan Xilu replied and walked out of the room.
Standing outside the hospital room, Tan Xilu realized it was New Year’s Eve, and many family members had come to visit patients. The hospital was bustling with activity.
Inside the room, an argument seemed to have broken out. Tan Xilu heard the sound of something being thrown, followed by the rustling of curtains. After a while, Chi Yexing emerged from the room.
He appeared to be in a bad mood, walking briskly. Tan Xilu said, “Oh,” but Chi Yexing didn’t stop. He was walking too fast for Tan Xilu to call him back. Puzzled, Tan Xilu walked back into the room.
Inside, he saw Qin Sizhe lying on the floor, his lips bruised and bleeding as if he had been bitten. When he noticed Tan Xilu entering, he looked up at him, licked the wound on his lips, and laughed, a pitiful smile that was more like a cry.
“T-Teacher Tan, I kissed him forcibly.”
He paused for a moment and added, “We’re finished. We really have no chance.”
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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