Chapter 29: Orchid Pavilion
Tan Xilu rarely cooked, and before Xu Huaiming returned home, the refrigerator was mostly filled with various instant foods or pre-cooked meals made by Tan’s mother. Due to the nature of his work, he could usually have breakfast and lunch at school, so he often made do with something simple for dinner.
However, Tan Xilu’s culinary skills were not particularly great. There was one time when there was only a bag of instant noodles left at home, and he reluctantly tried to cook it when he was really hungry. In the end, the noodles turned out half-cooked and inedible, so he threw them into the trash can and went to ask his neighbor Lin Changyu for some help.
But today, he had a sudden urge to make something for Xu Huaiming. He knew that Xu Huaiming was quite picky when it came to food. In the end, he chose to make egg drop soup, which was the easiest dish to prepare.
He peeled and diced tomatoes, sautéed them until they were soft, added water to bring it to a boil, and mixed flour with warm water, stirring constantly. Once it started bubbling, he poured in beaten eggs and finally sprinkled in the seasonings.
Tan Xilu served a bowl to Xu Huaiming, watching him take the first sip with eager anticipation. “How is it? Does it taste good?” he asked.
Before Xu Huaiming could answer, Tan Xilu proudly declared, “It must be delicious. I followed the recipe step by step.”
Xu Huaiming paused, pushed the bowl towards Tan Xilu, smiled, and said, “I think it’s not bad. You can try it.”
“Really?” Tan Xilu scooped up a spoonful, but as soon as it touched his mouth, he immediately rushed to the trash can and spat it out. His face contorted, and he exclaimed, “Why is it so awful? I followed the recipe exactly!”
Tan Xilu was a bit annoyed. It was all a lie, and he rushed to the bathroom to rinse his mouth.
“It’s okay, I can handle it,” Xu Huaiming said, moving the bowl back in front of himself and eating it without changing his expression, even though it was genuinely terrible.
In reality, it was really bad. Xu Huaiming could taste sourness, sweetness, saltiness, and bitterness all in one bowl of soup. Moreover, because he was an AI, his senses were more sensitive than a human’s, so you can imagine how much of a shock his taste buds had received.
But being able to eat a meal prepared by Tan Xilu was a rare treat for Xu Huaiming.
Seeing that the bowl was almost empty, Tan Xilu, who had come out of the bathroom and noticed Xu Huaiming still eating, hesitated for a moment, then hurriedly moved the bowl away, saying, “It’s too awful, don’t eat it.”
“It’s fine,” Xu Huaiming said with a serious expression, as if the taste was actually good.
Tan Xilu knew that Xu Huaiming was encouraging him, but it really was terrible. He had to admit that he had no talent for cooking.
He waved his hand and said, “You should cook from now on to avoid wasting food.”
Xu Huaiming smiled, reached out, and pinched Tan Xilu’s cheek, saying, “As long as you want, I can cook for you for a lifetime. The choice is yours.”
Upon hearing this, Tan Xilu was momentarily surprised. After a moment, he smiled and approached Xu Huaiming, their foreheads touching. He said, “What should I do? It seems I can’t be without you.”
Xu Huaiming’s heart skipped a beat. He raised his hand, hugged Tan Xilu’s waist, and carried him into the bedroom. He kicked the door shut with his foot, and as soon as Tan Xilu’s back touched the bedsheet, he said to Tan Xilu, “Then I’ll never leave you.”
So Tan Xilu kissed Xu Huaiming, allowing him to take the lead.
Perhaps Tan Xilu thought that this was just a commonplace phrase said in the bedroom, or maybe it was something Xu Huaiming said to appease him in response to a certain question. After all, who could guarantee never leaving someone for a lifetime?
But Xu Huaiming was different. He truly could never leave Tan Xilu, and he would stay by his side forever.
However, before Tan Xilu knew that Xu Huaiming was an AI, he would never have believed it.
This time, Xu Huaiming didn’t tease Tan Xilu much. After two rounds, he stopped and carried Tan Xilu into the bathroom to give him a bath. Tan Xilu rested his chin on Xu Huaiming’s shoulder and was already a bit dazed. He occasionally kissed Xu Huaiming’s chin and then became a little drowsy.
Afraid that he might slip in the bathtub, Xu Huaiming held him carefully. When he finished washing him thoroughly and lifted him out of the bathtub, Xu Huaiming suddenly heard Tan Xilu mutter something in his sleep.
He couldn’t hear it clearly, so he listened carefully and heard Tan Xilu say, “Xu Huaiming, don’t be afraid to meet my mother. She’ll definitely like you.”
Xu Huaiming’s heart suddenly softened. He really wanted to kiss Tan Xilu, and in fact, he did.
He decided not to think too much. After all, Tan Xilu was his now. Whether he was a replica of Code no.7 or not, only he could kiss Tan Xilu, only he could be with Tan Xilu without any reservations in bed, and only he could hear Tan Xilu say, “I love you.”
That was enough.
He was like barren soil, and as long as it received a little drop of rain, he could be reborn.
When Tan Xilu went home on the weekend, he didn’t bring Xu Huaiming with him. It would have been too presumptuous to bring him back when his mother was still upset. Tan Xilu’s mother had a strong temperament, and when she dug in her heels, she was truly stubborn. Tan Xilu knew her personality well and didn’t dare to be too impulsive.
He hadn’t been home for a long time. In recent years, his career had just stabilized, and his family’s home was quite far from the teacher’s college, so he had been living in the apartment he shared with Xu Huaiming. He only went home to visit during major holidays, and the last time he had been home was during the National Day holiday.
When Tan Xilu arrived at the entrance of the housing complex, he called his mother again. This time she didn’t answer the call.
Tan Xilu let out a sigh of relief, taking it as a sign that she might be willing to relent. He called his father and told him he had arrived at the gate. Soon, his father rushed out.
Before getting married, Tan’s father was a simple and honest man. When he reached the age to get married, he happened to meet Tan
‘s mother, who was four years younger. At the time, she was in the prime of her youth, with shallow dimples when she smiled. When Tan’s father saw her, he was immediately smitten and decided that he would only marry her.
However, Tan’s father was not very proactive, and he didn’t pursue her actively. If it hadn’t been for the fact that they happened to work on a project together, Tan’s mother might not have noticed him at all. She saw that he was serious about his work and was willing to help her with her questions. It was this academic connection that led to their relationship. People in academia often liked those who were stronger than themselves.
After marriage, Tan’s father became a classic example of a henpecked husband. He obeyed his wife in everything and had little say in matters. But he also doted on his wife, so over the years, they had few major conflicts. He always stood on Tan’s mother’s side. This time, he had high hopes for Tan Xilu.
After all, this son had the same personality as his mother—stubborn and determined. Once he set his mind on something, he would never let go. And with his son’s personality, it was likely that he would only have eyes for Xu Huaiming for the rest of his life.
Tan’s father patted his son’s head when they met, clicking his tongue and saying, “Looks like you’ve lost weight.”
“Where did you get that? I’ve been eating a lot lately,” Tan Xilu replied with a smile.
Father and son had not seen each other for a long time, so they exchanged pleasantries at the door for a while.
When Tan Xilu arrived, he had deliberately bought two boxes of snacks that his mother liked. They were quite heavy, and he carried them up to the fourth floor. When he reached the door, he was a little out of breath.
Tan’s father opened the door, and the house was quiet. Tan’s father carried the two boxes of snacks inside and said, “Your mother is in the bedroom. You can go in.”
“Okay,” Tan Xilu replied and asked, “Is she doing okay emotionally these past few days?”
“She’s fine. Your mother is like a tigress on the outside but a softie on the inside. She’s just afraid you’ll get the short end of the stick,” Tan’s father sighed. “I told her a few days ago that you were coming back, and she went out of her way to pickle some radishes that you like. She asked me to tell you to take them with you when you leave. Soften her up when you talk to her and maybe she’ll relent.”
Tan Xilu nodded and said, “I understand.”
He walked to the bedroom door, knocked, and got no response from inside. Finally, he called out, “Mom,” and then pushed the door open and walked in.
T/N: Wishing you all a good September and welcome to Bad End month! 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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