Chapter 35: I’ve seen it all
On the afternoon of the Laba Festival, the college went on winter break, and as a teacher, Tan Xilu had to be busier. He didn’t leave the office until 7 o’clock in the evening.
The sky had already darkened completely, and the corridor was quiet. The only person staying later than him was Qin Sizhe’s counselor, Mr. Li Yu, who was two years senior to Tan Xilu in joining the faculty. He had a good personality, was responsible for the students, and either Tan Xilu or him would often be the last ones working in the office.
“Mr. Li, are you not leaving yet?” Tan Xilu had already stepped half out of the office door when he turned back to look at Li Yu, who was still working on something.
Upon hearing this, Li Yu looked up, and the lenses on his nose reflected some light from the lamp. He shook his head and said, “Mr. Tan, you go ahead. I still have some work to finish.”
“Well, then.” Tan Xilu said, “But you should go home early too. It’s already this late.”
Li Yu nodded and said, “I know, Mr. Tan, you go ahead and don’t worry about me.”
Tan Xilu responded with a nod and paused for a moment. He then said to Li Yu, “Mr. Li, Happy Laba Festival.”
Li Yu was momentarily stunned and then smiled, saying, “Thank you, Mr. Tan. You too.”
Tan Xilu nodded and left the office.
Tan Xilu usually paid little attention to what was happening outside the window. After his classes, he would at most go to the office to organize his teaching materials and then head straight home. He had only learned yesterday from a student that Li Yu planned to resign. The reason was that he had been diagnosed with bone cancer, and he wanted to enjoy his last days.
Li Yu was three years older than Tan Xilu, just turning thirty this year. He had a girlfriend he was dating, and they had originally planned to get married after the New Year. However, fate had other plans, and it seemed that Li Yu had already broken up with her.
When Tan Xilu first came to the school, he didn’t fully understand some of the work processes, and it was Li Yu who helped him. They had worked together for less than five years, and they never expected that life could be so unpredictable. Now, Li Yu had been diagnosed with this illness.
This night might be Li Yu’s last night at the school. Perhaps there would never be anyone working late with him again. As Tan Xilu walked down the hallway, there was only a crescent moon tonight, but the stars were exceptionally bright. He suddenly felt an emptiness in his chest.
Xu Huaiming was still waiting for Tan Xilu at the school gate, holding a cup of hot milk tea in his hand. When Tan Xilu came out, he handed the milk tea to him.
Tan Xilu didn’t know when it started, but every time Xu Huaiming picked him up, he would bring a hot beverage. Sometimes it was milk tea, sometimes juice, or even cola. Tan Xilu always accepted whatever he brought.
They caught the last bus, and there weren’t many people on the bus at night. The driver only had a few lights on, so the inside of the bus was dim. Tan Xilu and Xu Huaiming sat at the back, and when the bus started, Xu Huaiming held Tan Xilu’s hand.
Xu Huaiming adjusted the temperature of his hand to be warm, while Tan Xilu’s hand felt a bit cold. When their hands touched, it felt just right. Tan Xilu looked at Xu Huaiming and suddenly spoke, “One of our teachers at the school is resigning.”
The milk tea was originally hot, but it started to condense into water droplets as it came into contact with the cold air, making the packaging bag damp. The hand holding the paper bag could also feel the icy dampness.
Cold, the winter was so cold, and Tan Xilu disliked winter. He felt like nothing good ever happened during this season.
“He’s sick, and I don’t know how long he has left to live.”
The bus stopped, people got on and off, everyone seemed busy with their lives, tired from the struggle for survival.
But some people had just finished being busy and were about to settle down, only to find that they no longer had the chance.
The bus started again, and the night scenes outside the window flashed by frame by frame. Tan Xilu leaned slightly on Xu Huaiming’s shoulder, and Xu Huaiming felt that his shoulder was damp. He knew that Tan Xilu was crying.
Tan Xilu was crying silently, but his boundless sadness spread.
Xu Huaiming didn’t really understand normal people’s feelings of sadness, perhaps because of his existence for Tan Xilu. He only felt sad for Tan Xilu, but when Tan Xilu was upset about something else, he was quite indifferent, and sometimes couldn’t understand why Tan Xilu was crying.
He gently embraced Tan Xilu and awkwardly comforted him by gently stroking his back. “Don’t be sad, Alu.”
Suddenly, Tan Xilu hugged him tightly and said, “Xu Huaiming, I’m so afraid of death. I’m afraid I won’t see you again.”
Tan Xilu’s unusual sadness finally found an explanation at this moment.
Tan Xilu was afraid of death because he had experienced Xu Huaiming’s “death.” So he was very afraid, afraid that someone who was alive one day would stop breathing the next.
Li Yu had been perfectly fine before, and when Qin Sizhe caused such a big incident, he went to the school leadership to take responsibility. They deducted half a month’s salary from him, but he didn’t seem upset. He told Tan Xilu that being a teacher was like this, you just had to get used to it. At that time, he was still smiling, with a faint dimple at the corner of his mouth that could only be seen when he smiled.
Li Yu said, “It’s just a small deduction. They might deduct even more in the future.”
But now, there was no future anymore.
Tan Xilu was very sad, not just because he feared death but also because of the farewell to a friend.
Tan Xilu cried on the bus that night, but by the time he got off the bus, he was much better. However, Xu Huaiming’s shoulder was now damp.
As they got off the bus, Tan Xilu rubbed his watery eyes and apologized to Xu Huaiming, “I’m sorry for losing control today.”
“It’s okay, your shoulder is there for you to lean on,” Xu Huaiming said, patting Tan Xilu’s head, then holding his hand, their warm palms interlocked. He added, “Alu, don’t worry, I won’t leave you, not anymore.”
In his heart, Xu Huaiming added, “As long as you don’t want me to.”
On this cold winter night, cars were racing on the road, and behind
the small bus stop sign, Xu Huaiming kissed Tan Xilu’s lips.
Tan Xilu’s fear had dissipated at this moment. His heart was surrounded by something called happiness, and he thought, at least Xu Huaiming was still by his side, and he didn’t have to be so afraid. When they truly faced separation and parting again, they would deal with it then.
But what he didn’t expect was that this day would come so soon.
Before Tan Xilu and Xu Huaiming went to bed, Tan Xilu found a bottle of vitamins in the closet that he didn’t remember when he had bought. He looked at the expiration date and realized that it was still good. These past few nights, he had been having trouble sleeping, so he decided to take two before bedtime.
That night, he actually fell asleep.
The next morning, when Tan Xilu woke up, he looked at the bottle of vitamins again. He realized that he couldn’t remember when he had bought them, and he pondered for a long time but couldn’t recall. Finally, when Xu Huaiming called him for breakfast, he gave up.
After breakfast, Tan Xilu and Xu Huaiming changed their clothes to go shopping at the supermarket. They had been busy lately, and the refrigerator had been empty for a long time.
The Lunar New Year was approaching, and the supermarket was already crowded with people preparing for the holiday. Tan Xilu walked ahead with Xu Huaiming pushing a small shopping cart behind him.
“Potato chips, get two bags.”
“Coke, get a big bottle.”
“Hawthorn slices, get two bags.”
“Dried milk dates, I want those.”
Unknowingly, the shopping cart was already more than half full. Luckily, the supermarket wasn’t far from their apartment, or they would have been exhausted. Tan Xilu thought it might be time to buy a car. Previously, the apartment wasn’t far from the school, so he didn’t need a car. Sometimes, it was so crowded during rush hour that driving would be even slower. But now, it wasn’t just him, and they needed to consider it.
When they returned to the apartment building, Tan Xilu heard a commotion in the hallway. When he approached, he saw that Lin Changyu’s apartment door was partially open. He hesitated for a moment, and Mrs. Zhang from upstairs came down.
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~
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!