The revelation of Gu Pingsheng’s condition caught Tong Yan and us, as readers, off guard. What is admirable about this beautiful couple, though, is that despite the bitter, sad, and unfair things in life that they very rightly could look at and lament over, they choose instead to simply focus on the sweet, beautiful things. Borrowing from Tong Yan’s thoughts in this chapter: “…nothing else mattered. So long as they were together, then everything was good.”❤ However, there are things about the nature of their relationship that they eventually will have to face.
Chapter 10.1 – Wanting Only to Be Together (1)
Once he finished saying this, he selected an appropriate size knife from the rack and cut the tomato into six slices. Without even raising his head, he asked her, “Is it, after I’m done slicing tomatoes, I can step down and hand things over?”
Tong Yan did not utter a sound. She seemed not to have heard him.
She had many emotions that she had never before exposed in front of anyone. Even when she was at home, she would still maintain an expression of always being unconcerned, unaware, and simple-minded. Crying or other similar expressions of emotion only occurred in times when she absolutely could not bear the pressure anymore.
Gu Pingsheng turned his head to the side so his eyes were on her. “What’s the matter?”
“Don’t know.” Tong Yan blew out a long breath. “I feel like I’m about to cry because of what you said.”
Hearing this, he was amused, and grabbing a tomato slice in passing, he fed it straight into her mouth. “Don’t cry. I don’t know how to console people.”
“Then why did you say such rousingly sentimental words? …” She blinked her eyes, sensing that she would not be able to hold herself together much longer. When her eyes were about to brim over with tears, she immediately buried her face into his chest. Gu Pingsheng had no choice but to set down his knife again and hold her in his arms, trying for a long time to coax her tears away.
Afterwards, when she thought about it, Tong Yan could not really remember what exactly he had said.
But, a very deep impression had been left on her that allowed her to verify something: he truly did not know how to console people.
The door was suddenly pulled open. Gu Pingfan was about to say something when she saw Tong Yan swiftly jump out of Gu Pingsheng’s arms, and with red eyes at that. Unable to contain a laugh, she said to them, “May I come in?”
Not bothering to pay her any attention, Gu Pingsheng offhandedly picked up a tomato slice and popped it into his mouth.
After closing the door, Gu Pingfan affectionately put an arm around Tong Yan’s shoulder and leaned in close to her ear, whispering, “I’ll tell you in secret, he’s never known how to comfort his girlfriend. One time, when I went to visit him, I personally witnessed a pretty blonde girl in his room, crying hysterically, and he just sat on the couch, reading his book and letting his girlfriend throw and break things.” Saying this, Gu Pingfan’s lips turned up in a grin. If it were me, I definitely would not be able to stand it. Being the type of guy that he is, when he dates someone, I’m guessing you need to nudge him every time for every little move you want him to make? Wouldn’t that be really boring?”
“It’s fine …” Tong Yan searched through her memory. It seemed Gu Pingsheng was actually quite good with words. “Teacher Gu is very good.”
“Good? In what way?” Gu Pingfan looked curiously at her.
Tong Yan was somewhat embarrassed. How was she supposed to respond to a question like that? Gu Pingfan’s gaze caused her cheeks to flush. Being asked such a question by a thirty year old woman, and furthermore, that person was Gu Pingsheng’s older cousin, was … really weird.
Fortunately, Gu Pingfan was not a very nosy person and merely flashed an evil grin at Gu Pingsheng before switching into her main topic. The general idea of what she said was that she had arranged a follow-up examination for him and other things along those lines.
The words spoken from both of them were few and vague. Tong Yan tossed several dumplings at a time into some boiling water, pretending she did not understand.
Because the stove was on, the kitchen soon heated up. When Gu Pingfan left, the water had just boiled for the second time. Filling a bowl with cool water, she poured it into the boiling pot, and the rolling dumplings inside once again settled down.
Every once in a while, Gu Pingsheng would feed her a small piece of tomato until eventually, even the two tomatoes that had been set aside to make the soup ended up being gobbled down by them. She turned around to glance at the cutting board, which had nothing remaining on it except for a light red mixture of juice and water, and then gazed poutingly at him. “If I had known you wanted to eat it raw, I would have at least added some sugar and dressed it as a cold dish.”
He smiled, his body very naturally leaning in closer to her. Right as he was about to give her a kiss, an alert sounded from Tong Yan’s mobile phone.
“I have a text.” Tong Yan twisted her head away to avoid him and pulled out her phone.
An unfamiliar phone number, but a tone of speaking that was most certainly familiar. It was Fang Yunyun: Do you have time in these next few days? I want to treat you to dinner.
The tone of the message was so normal and unperturbed it seemed as if it was sent by an ordinary old classmate. Had it not been for the connection through Lu Bei, perhaps she really would simply have been an old classmate, and even a pretty good friend.
Tong Yan held down the power-off button, slipped her phone back into her pocket, and carried on in all seriousness with cooking the dumplings. When the water came to a boil for the third time, it roiled and churned for a long while. She, however, merely kept her eyes on its surface and did not show any reaction.
Standing behind her, Gu Pingsheng set his chin on her shoulder and said softly, “Tong Yan Wuji, the dumplings are going to break apart soon.”
As if snapping awake from a dream, Tong Yan hastily shut off the stove and scooped out the dumplings for him. Then, she began in a flurry to search for some vinegar. Once everything was at last ready, she handed a pair of chopsticks to him.
Gu Pingsheng took them from her, ate a dumpling, and then, amid the white, hot steam, pulled her over toward himself, lifting her into his lap. “I don’t eat garlic chives. I’m allergic.”
With a cry of “ah,” she pointed at the plate of dumplings. “Those all have garlic chives in them?”
“No.” He recollected, “There should be some that are pork with bok choy filling. I forgot to tell you just now.”
Actually, these two different fillings could approximately be ascertained from the difference in color that could be seen through the doughy skin. However, after hearing him say that, Tong Yan felt uneasy, and picking one up with her chopsticks, she took a small bite from it. “This one is pork with bok choy.”
Immediately after the words came out, she realized there was something wrong with this. She had taken a bite and then given it to him to eat …
A faint smile touched Gu Pingsheng’s face as he bit down on the half a dumpling held between her chopsticks and ate it. “This is a pretty good method.”
“You’re not … going to have me bite all of them before you eat them, right?” Tong Yan felt that, it was the middle of the night in the kitchen of his grandfather’s home, and doing that would truly be too improper and suggestive of other things.
“There is another way.” Taking his chopstick, Gu Pingsheng poked a hole into one of the dumplings. “I’m guessing this might be a little simpler.”
Tong Yan gnawed at the end of her chopsticks, staring at him with an expression that seemed at a loss over whether to laugh or cry.
Why didn’t you say so earlier? …
Lowering his head, he began to eat his dumplings in a focused manner.
Tong Yan loved observing him as he ate. His table mannerisms were very pleasant to watch, yet at the same time, the manner in which he ate was not the type that exuded a haughty air either. Every time she watched him eat, she would feel that the food she cooked was exceptionally delicious.
Since they both were rather famished, the food was quickly finished, and they began to go to work washing the dishes.
These types of operations were always lead by Gu Pingsheng, and at most, Tong Yan merely took a clean dishcloth, wiped each of the dishes dry, and neatly stacked them in the cupboards.
All that work and busyness, but actually, they had simply had a dinner together and then he needed to take her home.
Because it was such a late hour, Gu Pingsheng was worried that they would not be able to catch a taxi and decided to drive her home himself. When their vehicle came to a stop downstairs of her home, she suddenly did not want to part from him yet, so she simply chatted idly with him, not wanting to get out of the car.
The heat in the vehicle was very warm. He wore only a button-up shirt, and the top two buttons were not even fastened. From her angle, she could his tattoo through his open neckline.
She had never carefully looked over the entire tattoo design that was on his body, and now, with great curiosity, she pointed at his shoulder. “Your tattoo goes from your forearm up to your shoulder? What’s the complete design?”
He followed the direction her finger was pointing and looked down at himself. “I need to take off my shirt before you can see the entire thing.”
Tong Yan blinked. And blinked again. And then blushed.
She swore, that was not what she meant. The notion of taking the opportunity to come on to him had absolutely not crossed her mind at all …
Seeing into her thoughts, Gu Pingsheng lightly flicked her forehead with his fingers. “What’s that little brain of yours thinking?”
She rubbed her forehead. Suddenly, she remembered what Gu Pingfan had told her. “I’m thinking, it seems you still haven’t answered my question.”
“Your ex.” Her curiosity was definitely suppressing her desire to be jealous. “Your cousin said that your ex-girlfriend is a blonde? And a pretty girl?”
He likely had not expected that she would change the topic so abruptly and seemed to be recollecting for quite some time before he finally replied, “I think so, but that was a long time ago.”
Besides the foreign exchange students and foreign teachers at their university, as yet, she had not really come into contact with other foreigners, and in particular, she truly had not seen a pretty blonde girl before. She visualized some of the scenes from western television dramas, trying to insert Gu Pingsheng into them, but no matter how she imagined them, they just felt awkward and wrong …
“Why ‘a long time ago’?” Could it be that his heart had once been hurt because of love?
“When she saw that particular girlfriend of mine, it should have been when I was in high school.” He truly began to sincerely explain to her, “Back then, I was young, and for a few years, I really liked girls. Later, I suddenly felt that that sort of stuff was really troublesome, and I gradually started to shift my interests elsewhere.”
“High school?” Tong Yan silently did the calculation. “That really is the distant past.”
No wonder, on their first date after they had finished dinner, he had very honestly sighed that he lacked experience. And then, he had actually ended up bringing her to Mass … Tong Yan wanted to laugh as she offhandedly fiddled to and fro with the car vents. The warm air blew against her palm. It felt very comfortable.
“What about your first love?” Unwilling to give up and just let things go, she followed up with another question. “Do you still remember?”
“She was a Chinese girl.” He gave her a concise answer. Then, with a little smile, he unfastened her seat belt for her. “Satisfied?”
Where would the satisfaction come from? … She narrowed her eyes, feeling that she was simply a glutton for punishment. Look, look at you. You’re jealous again. And you asked for it yourself.
Tong Yan glanced at the watch on his wrist. 11:15 p.m.
“This whole winter break, I’ll be really free.” Leaning sideways against the passenger seat, she gazed at him. “What about you?”
As she thought over this entire night, she realized that she really seemed not to have done anything that was useful or proper. With an empty stomach, she had run out to somewhere near his home, charged her phone, and just stared blankly in a bakery. And in the end, she had only seen him for not even one hour and eaten a plate of dumplings …
But, because of this one meeting, the edgy, unsettled feeling from the daytime was now soothed.
As she looked at him, she felt that nothing else mattered. So long as they were together, then everything was good.
“After these next few days, I don’t have anything either.” He took her down jacket from the back seat and handed it to her. “So, as long as you are able to come out, you can just let me know at any time.”
With an “mm,” she took the jacket from him and slipped it on. She was about to say something when she heard someone knocking lightly on the car window behind her.
When Tong Yan turned around, her heart gave an abrupt thud.
At a time unknown to them, Grandmother had come downstairs, and now, she was standing by the door on Tong Yan’s side of the vehicle. Had she not tapped on the window, even Gu Pingsheng would not have noticed her.
Only when Gu Pingsheng prompted her to get out of the vehicle first did Tong Yan snap out from her daze, and she opened the car door. “Why did you come downstairs? It’s so cold outside …”
A rather stern expression covered Grandmother’s face, and after she helped Tong Yan pull the hood of her jacket up over her head, she turned her eyes to Gu Pingsheng, who had stepped out of the vehicle on the other side. “Teacher Gu, do you have time to talk?”
Gu Pingsheng had gotten out of the car immediately after Tong Yan and had not even had the opportunity to put on his coat. In the strong northerly wind, the hem of his button-up shirt was being blown upward, but he showed no intention of going back to the car to retrieve his coat and merely nodded as he answered, “Yes. Would you like to talk here or go upstairs?”
 吃豆腐 “chi dou fu.” This literally translates to “eat tofu.” To “eat someone’s tofu” is a slang for taking advantage of or liberties with someone by touching, kissing, etc, usually without their explicit permission.
1 of 1 Prologue
29 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments