Without the aid of sleeping pills, it was even harder for me to fall asleep.


       I knew Ji Qin would not allow me to absurdly drug myself to sleep every day again, so I would also force myself to close my eyes. The long nights were really hard, but I figured it wouldn’t matter if I endured them. The painting was almost finished, and all the suffering… will reach the end.


       Ji Qin still ignored me. He was very busy with work, and I often only saw him at night, sometimes even late at night. His job seemed to require him to socialize a lot lately, and for several days in a row, he came back drunk and was helped back by the driver.


       I picked him up subconsciously. He leaned against me drunkenly, and especially softly called me, “Ze’an.”


       Sometimes I actually hoped for him to be drunk.


       Because at that time, he wasn’t cold at all. He was calling the name Ze’an gently, and the name was spoken between his lips and teeth lovingly. I couldn’t resist this warmth that wasn’t easily earned——


       But of course, I knew that it wasn’t me he was calling.




       I dared do nothing but respond to him softly, “I’m here.”


       As if he didn’t believe me, he asked me again, “Are you Ze’an?”


       My lips twitched, and I found it difficult to answer the question.


       I think… of course I’m Ze’an.


       But wasn’t the Ze’an he wanted, I guess.


       I sighed and whispered, “I’m Ze’an.”


       He didn’t answer and his ever-tight brow slowly loosened to reveal a look akin to resignation.


       I didn’t dare to look at him directly, and merely rested my forehead against his, and when the warm skins touched, I suddenly felt the urge to cry.


       “…The Ze’an you want will be back soon.”


       I said.


       The day the painting finished was exactly three days before Valentine’s Day. It was rare for Ji Qin to stay at home during the day. When I was sitting in the living room in a daze, he suddenly spoke up and asked me, “What’s the date today?”


       He almost never spoke to me, and I snapped out of my daze and answered him quickly.


       And when he learned that Valentine’s Day was coming, his expression was very sad.


       I felt like I knew why he was like this. Because Valentine’s Day was the day the fake Ze’an disappeared. It had been almost a year since the fake Ze’an disappeared… In fact, I had actually been back for a year, but no one seemed to be happy about my existence. Sigh.


       Ji Qin turned around and went back to his room, I hesitated for a moment, but couldn’t help knocking on his door.


       “Ji Qin?”


       When he heard my voice, there was no expression on his face and even the melancholy expression that had just flashed by disappeared. Maybe he had sorted out his mood quickly.


       “What’s wrong.”


       I hesitated for a moment and said, “Are you free to come home with me in the next couple of days? My parents even called two days ago asking about us…”


       Ji Qin…had met my parents with the fake Ze’an after all. I knew that he had also been in touch with my parents during the year, and he had also visited them alone, but he had never gone back with me to see them. During this period of time, my parents asked me openly and secretly if there was something wrong with my relationship with Ji Qin, so I thought I should probably visit them during these two days.


       In any case, my parents were still the closest people to me, and Ji Qin was the person I had always liked for a long time. If I could see the three of them meet with my own eyes, it would be like having my wish fulfilled.


       Ji Qin was also stunned, and a clear struggle flashed across his face.


       Would he say yes?


       My heart beat faster, and I didn’t dare to look up at him.


       “…I don’t think so.”


       After a long time, I heard him replied.


       Surprisingly, my mind was especially peaceful. I didn’t seem surprised to hear this answer.


       In the boundless and indistinct vast dreams, I was the only one who was aware1A snippet of a Tang poem by Li Bai(李白). But I…had been reluctant to admit it, as if I still had expectations of the world.


       I smiled and said to him, “Well…I’m just asking. I plan to visit my parents by myself tomorrow.”


       Ji Qin frowned and looked at me, and after a long silence he said, “As you wish.”


       Before he was about to close the door, I stopped him again.


       “You…you’re going to be very busy these two days. I have a present I want to give you.” I said, “It’s Valentine’s Day.”

The author has something to say:
It’s almost over.

About the poem by Li Bai, the title is 与元丹丘方城寺谈玄作, I’m not sure how it should be translated as I didn’t find the official translation of that particular poem.
In my interpretation, the phrase meant that Ze’an felt the whole world is just like a long and winding dream because of the unreal situation and he was very depressed as he was the only one who was aware that the Ze’an they all preferred was actually not the real one.

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