Chapter 41: Kepler
The doctor said that Xilu’s repeated fever episodes were due to psychological issues, and that was indeed correct. Xilu had visibly improved after Xu Huaiming’s visit, and by New Year’s morning, his fever had completely subsided. The doctor approved his discharge from the hospital.
Xilu’s parents were surprised at how his illness had suddenly improved. To this, Xilu came up with a fabricated story, saying, “It’s because I saw how hard it was for you both, and my body couldn’t bear to see it.”
Tan’s mother, while folding the hospital bed’s sheets, turned to him and gave him a piercing look. She punctured his story without mercy, saying, “You can really come up with anything, can’t you? Do you think I have Alzheimer’s disease?”
“I don’t,” Xilu muttered, peeling an orange and popping a segment into his mouth. The orange was icy and made his throat feel cold.
“Stop eating too many oranges; they’re heating. Your fever has just gone down; don’t inflame your throat again,” Tan’s father took the orange from him and started eating it himself. “I’m anxious for my son, so let me bear this pain for you.”
Tan Xilu: “…”
You’re making excuses to indulge your gluttony?
“Mom, look at my dad…” Tan Xilu was not happy. “He’s bullying me just because I’ve recovered from my illness.”
“Alright, your dad has a point. I’ll go and make some delicious food for you. Don’t keep drooling over those oranges,” Tan’s mother said. “Both of you, stop fooling around. Pack your things quickly. Xiao Li will come to pick us up later, and everyone else has already arrived. We can’t keep them waiting.”
“Li Zhao is coming too?” Tan Xilu was taken aback. He asked, “Didn’t we already book a car?”
“We did, but Xiao Li told me earlier that his family went abroad for the New Year a couple of days ago, and he didn’t want to go alone. He didn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve alone, so I thought it would be more lively with an extra guest. You’ve been sick, and he’s been so busy taking care of you. That night when you had a fever, the hospital was overcrowded, and there were no available beds. If it weren’t for his help, you would have had to wait in the lobby,” Tan’s mother said. “I know you don’t have any romantic interest in him, but at least invite him for a meal as a basic courtesy, okay?”
“I understand,” Tan Xilu replied. “I get it.”
Tan’s mother nodded and then suddenly remembered something. She said, “What about your significant other? I’ve been wanting to ask. You’ve been sick for so many days, and he hasn’t even come to see you once. Is he really your boyfriend? Everything seems to revolve around Xiao Li. The other day, a nurse even asked me how long you and Xiao Li have been together. I didn’t even know how to answer. I had mentioned inviting your significant other for the New Year, but I guess we don’t need to do that now. It’s getting on my nerves.”
“Mom…” Tan Xilu tugged at his mother’s clothes and defended Xu Huaiming, “There’s no need to exaggerate things. Xu Huaiming did visit me. He’s not good with words, and he came quietly, so you wouldn’t have seen him.”
Tan Xilu pointed to the dessert box on the bedside table that hadn’t been put away yet and continued, “He brought me this dessert yesterday.”
Tan’s mother’s movements paused as she turned to look at the dessert box on the bedside table. She hesitated for a moment and then asked, “Is that true?”
“Of course it’s true,” Tan Xilu smiled. “Why would I lie to you?”
In fact, it wasn’t just desserts. After Xu Huaiming had asked for a chance to pursue Tan Xilu, he had been bringing various snacks every day. Tan Xilu always felt like Xu Huaiming had cast a spell on him because he couldn’t eat alone anymore. But he didn’t dare to tell his mother because he had eaten a lot of things he shouldn’t have while he was sick.
Tan’s mother looked at him and said, “Since that’s the case, why don’t you invite him over? I’d like to see what kind of person has captivated you for ten years.”
Tan Xilu instinctively wanted to agree, but then he realized that he and Xu Huaiming were still broken up. Just two days ago, he had jokingly told Xu Huaiming that he was going to date Li Zhao. He had no intention of getting back together with Xu Huaiming. Bringing him home and having him meet Li Zhao would be a disaster.
Tan Xilu shook his head and said, “No, since Li Zhao is coming, Xu Huaiming probably won’t want to come. He knows Li Zhao, and he knows we went on a blind date. I’m afraid he won’t be happy.”
Tan’s father clicked his tongue and said, “You’re really protective of him. Who knows…”
Tan Xilu quickly covered his father’s mouth and glared at him. “Don’t spread rumors.”
Tan’s father made a few more “hum” sounds before finally quieting down after Tan Xilu promised to buy him cigarettes.
“What are you two hiding from me?” Tan’s mother squinted her eyes.
“Nothing,” Tan’s father was uncomfortable with his mouth covered, and Tan Xilu let go after a while. He coughed a few times and said, “A few days ago, Little Lu told me that Xiao Li is so considerate to him. He even joked about breaking up with his boyfriend and dating Xiao Li. But look at him now? Hmph…”
“Dad…” Tan Xilu grabbed his father’s arm and was about to scold him, but then he saw someone standing at the door of the ward.
He turned to look, and it was Xu Huaiming standing there, looking rather unhappy.
It suddenly occurred to Tan Xilu that Xu Huaiming had sent him a message this morning saying he would come today.
Tan Xilu didn’t know how much Xu Huaiming had heard or whether he believed his father’s words. He wanted to explain, but then he remembered that he hadn’t actually planned to get back together with Xu Huaiming. Instead of wasting his time pursuing someone who was impossible to win back, he decided to let the misunderstanding stand, letting Xu Huaiming give up on him and return to his lab. So, he just glanced at Xu Huaiming lightly, then tightly sealed his lips and made no effort to defend his father’s words.
After a moment, Tan Xilu heard footsteps leaving, and he turned his head to see that Xu Huaiming had already left.
Ten minutes later, Li Zhao arrived at the ward. It was clear that he had dressed up for the occasion, wearing a formal suit that made him look more energetic than usual. It was hard to imagine that this was a pastry chef.
Li Zhao picked up the things that Tan’s mother had packed and said to Tan’s father and mother, “The car is parked at the hospital entrance. You two can go down first. The stuff isn’t heavy; I can carry it myself.”
“Oh, that won’t do. You’re being too polite,” Tan’s mother said with a smile, genuinely fond of Li Zhao. “The stuff isn’t too much. Let Little Lu carry it. He’s been lying in bed for so long; he could use some exercise.”
“It’s okay, Xilu just recovered from his illness, so he shouldn’t strain himself,” Li Zhao said. “Let’s go quickly; I’m afraid we might encounter traffic.”
“I can carry it; I’m not a delicate girl,” Tan Xilu took two batches of things from Li Zhao and walked ahead.
“This child is so stubborn; he hates it when others say he can’t do something,” Tan’s mother chuckled and watched Tan Xilu’s retreating figure. She said, “Alright, let’s go quickly. We still need to prepare the New Year’s Eve dinner. I’ll let you taste Auntie’s cooking later.”
“Thank you, Auntie,” Li Zhao said.
Tan Xilu entered the elevator first, and since he walked fast, he managed to catch this ride. After the last person entered the elevator, the others inside pressed the buttons for their respective floors. Tan Xilu felt someone tugging at the things he was carrying from behind. He turned around cautiously and realized that Xu Huaiming had somehow entered the elevator as well.
He hadn’t left.
Tan Xilu approached him and said, “It’s heavy; let me help you carry it.”
“No need, I can handle it,” Tan Xilu glanced at him.
“Alu, Li Zhao can help you carry your things, why can’t I?” Xu Huaiming’s tone sounded somewhat aggrieved. “You have to give me a chance.”
“It’s not a matter of giving a chance or not,” Tan Xilu took a deep breath and looked at him, carefully considering his words. “It’s your identity. I can’t give you a chance.”
“Why?” Xu Huaiming grabbed Tan Xilu’s arm. “Except for being an AI, where am I inferior to Li Zhao?”
Tan Xilu didn’t reply. He felt that something was off about Xu Huaiming’s attitude. Normally, he was very obedient, but today, he seemed a bit unreasonable.
The elevator stopped, and everyone exited, paying no attention to the two people who were at odds in the corner of the elevator.
Seeing that the elevator doors were about to close again, Tan Xilu shook off Xu Huaiming’s hand and walked forward. He said, “Just because you’re an AI, it’s impossible for me to be with you. Are you dreaming? Do you really expect me to be with an AI?”
“Is it just because I’m an AI?” Xu Huaiming suddenly laughed, his voice turning cold. “Then, if it were the previous Xu Huaiming, who was an AI, would you still be with him?”
Tan Xilu’s footsteps paused for a moment, and he suddenly felt that Xu Huaiming was becoming annoying. Why was he asking such questions? He was really annoyed.
He turned around and looked at Xu Huaiming, delivering one final blow. He said, “Maybe I would, after all, I don’t think I could fall in love with a replica.”
As soon as he finished speaking, the elevator doors closed completely.
During the New Year, Tan’s mother loved to buy all sorts of small snacks and treats. The fruit tray was filled with peanuts, melon seeds, candies, chocolates, and various nuts and oranges. In previous years, Tan Xilu would join in the pre-New Year cleaning, leaving him with sore muscles for days. However, this year, he had been spared the chore due to his illness. After returning home, he simply lounged on the couch, feeling quite comfortable.
Li Zhao sat next to him and suddenly slipped something behind him. Tan Xilu felt something poking him and asked in confusion, “What’s this?” He sat up and pulled out a thick red envelope.
Tan Xilu found it a bit amusing. He was already an adult; why was he receiving red envelopes?
“I don’t want it,” he returned it to Li Zhao without even opening it. “Do you think I’m a child?”
“Why don’t you open it? What if it’s something you like?” Li Zhao said with a smile. “You’re acting like a kid.”
T/N: Wishing you all a good October! 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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