The time has come. Gu Pingsheng is going away for his treatment. Just because they don’t express explicitly that they will miss each other, the feelings still run strong.
Chapter 12.1 – Miss You a Little (1)
In Shen Yao’s words: Everyone else was just background scenery — background scenery that was completely unaware of what it was and oblivious to the situation.
Tong Yan was entertaining herself as she fixed her eyes on the group photo on the computer screen. “Let’s crop just the two of us out and keep the photo as memento.” She pointed at the date on the bottom right corner of the photograph. “Today is February 14th… Must you leave tomorrow?”
While saying this, she turned her head to look at him.
“Leaving one day earlier means I will return one day earlier.”
The reasoning was right, but this decision was too sudden, and it caused her to wonder, just how bad had the results of his medical check-up been? And furthermore, he had all of a sudden changed the location of treatment from Beijing to the United States. Even though the treatment results would potentially be better there, this also made her heart even more unsettled.
She subtly, and not-so-subtly, asked him about it the entire afternoon, but he lightly brushed over it, only promising that he would return to her side, completely healthy, in half a year.
Half a year could be considered not a very short period of time.
Perhaps, based on his personality, he truly would wait until he had completely recovered and was no different from any ordinary person before he was willing to show himself.
Gu Pingsheng leaned forward, one hand supporting himself on the edge of the desk and the other on the back of the chair, and looked at the photograph. It was a rare instance today where he was wearing a cotton, checkered-pattern dress shirt in pale pink … This colour on him did not exude even a hint of frivolousness, and in fact, there was a slight sense of … what was it? “Beauty pure and refined as jade,” and “bearing like the orchids and trees of jade”?
Smiling, Tong Yan tugged on his collar. “Mr. Gu, did you purposely wear pink today?”
He saw the teasing in her smile, but still, he merely calmly and leisurely lowered his head to gently take her lower lip between his teeth. “It doesn’t look nice?”
“It looks nice,” she murmured in return, her words indistinct.
He did not look to see what she was saying, and instead, reached forward, hooked one arm under her legs and the other around her body, and lifted her completely out of her chair into his embrace. “Mrs. Gu, you’ve been facing the computer an entire night. That is very bad for the eyes and also very unbeneficial towards nurturing the relationship between husband and wife.”
She actually just wanted to edit one photograph of the two of them and print it out tonight to put into his wallet.
He walked toward the bedroom, all the while kissing her deeply. She felt that even the root of her teeth seemed to go weak. Circling her arms around his neck, she kissed him back, their lips coming together then separating briefly again, over and over.
As he neared the door, she was about to stretch out an arm to feel for the light switch when all of a sudden, she felt their whole center of gravity being thrown to one side. While she reflexively threw her arms back around his neck, he had already swiftly set her down on the floor.
She had been lowered too quickly, and her foot ached slightly from being slammed down.
But the next second, she understood what had just happened.
“What’s wrong?” She knew that he could not hear her but still, she anxiously blurted the question.
Leaning against the side of the door, Gu Pingsheng seemed to know that she had received a great scare. Because he did not know what she was saying, he simply patted her on the forehead and comforted, “It’s okay.”
Even her hands had a slight tremble in them, and she felt around for a long time before she found the room’s light switch.
The warm amber glow of the light illuminated all their surroundings.
Besides his action of leaning against the side of the door, there was nothing unusual about him that could be detected visually. However, from that moment earlier on to now, he had not moved in the slightest, which meant there definitely was a big problem.
Tong Yan wanted to reach out to support him, but she did not know how she should do it. She could only stand barefoot beside him, overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, her heart aching so terribly she was near tears. “What is it that’s wrong? Can you just tell me the truth, please?”
It was to the point that she could not even control the volume of her voice or the tremor that could be heard in it.
Fortunately, he could not hear it.
Gu Pingsheng gave a smile, but as he was about to say something, she could contain herself no longer. Tears began to stream down, and large teardrops, one after another, fell to the floor.
Part of the reason was because he had given her a scare, and the other part was because of the fear within her that she could not control. She feared that he truly did have some sort of serious condition or side effect that he had not told her about, and she was also scared that the results this time of the treatment he was going to have would not be very good …
Never before had fear and trepidation surged up so violently in her, and almost instantaneously, it seemed to invade, from inside out, her every inch of awareness.
He had not expected that she would have such a big reaction and reached out an arm, pulling her into his embrace. “I just suddenly felt a little pain right here.” He pointed at his thigh and pelvic region. “It’s much better now.”
“Does it hurt a lot?” Stretching her hand out, she rather hesitantly touched his hip, then followed it down, sliding her hand very gently to his thigh area. She raised her head to ask, “Would it help if I massage it a bit?”
As she said this, she tentatively kneaded the spot a couple of times.
“It helps a lot.” In his eyes, there seemed to be laughter and also, heat.
“It really helps?” Her heart still seemed to be dangling in her throat, and she gazed at him, not quite convinced.
“It really does help a lot.” His voice was rather soft and tender. The reflection of the bedroom’s wall light could be seen in his eyes, and there was an inconcealable sensualness in his smile. “But Mrs. Gu, if you keep massaging like that, Mr. Gu really won’t be able to handle it anymore.”
It was so obvious what he was saying; even a fool could understand that.
Besides, she was not a fool …
For a moment, Tong Yan was both annoyed and amused with him.
Pulling back her hand, she wiped away the tears on her face, but in her heart, there pervaded a heavy sense of disquiet that she could not shake.
But right now, on this night before he was to leave, she could not allow herself to create a big fuss over a small issue and cause him to have to worry about her.
“I’m tired. Let’s go sleep, how about that?” Gu Pingsheng moved, still wanting to pick her up into his arms again.
“Alright.” Evading his movements, she strode away quickly and hopped into bed. “I’ve gone onto the bed myself. Don’t go trying at all to carry me here or there anymore.”
Although the floors were warm, it was still wintertime. The instant she slid under the quilt, she covered her slightly cool feet with her hands amd watched as he walked over.
It seemed there really was no issue. The expression on his face had not shifted in the slightest, and the way he walked looked normal as well … She focused intently on observing whether, out of worry for her, he was simply forcing himself to pretend nothing was wrong. When Gu Pingsheng slipped off his jeans, she could not help fixing her eyes on the area around his waist and thigh, scrutinizing it carefully.
And then she suddenly realized that … she had been staring at him for a long time already.
“Finished looking?” He sat down on the edge of the bed and was about to lift up the covers.
Unexpectedly, she placed her hand on top of the edge of the quilt to hold it down. “How about you go sleep in the guest room tonight? Your current condition … is not too suitable for sleeping with me …” She put great efforts into carefully wording her explanation, but in the end, this created the opposite effect to what she wanted and brought about laughter from Gu Pingsheng.
“Don’t worry.” He lifted open the down quilt and with one arm, pulled her towards himself so that she was snug against him. In a low voice, he stated, “I’ll be able to handle such a simple task.”
With regard to whether a man can handle the scenario of sharing a bed, this, indeed, is something that should not be questioned directly to his face. Tong Yan used several seconds to criticize and correct herself and then finally lifted her arms and slid them around his waist. Burying her face into his shoulder, she struggled with herself for a long while before finally, with some difficulty, raising her head and looking directly at him to say, “How about I take the lead?”
She at last discovered the only drawback to his deafness.
These words that should have been quietly murmured in an extremely shy voice had needed to be stated while gazing straight into his eyes.
All her facial expressions, mental processes, and evasiveness of her eyes could not at all escape his detection …
Hence, the direct result of this was that Gu Pingsheng completely used action to demonstrate his ability.
The entire night, they tossed about together in the bed. The down quilt had fallen entirely to the floor. On their bodies, layer after layer of sweat would dissipate, only to form once again on their skin. The wafts of air from the central heating seemed to blow directly onto their bodies, feeling like a slightly damp and cool, yet soft caress.
In the end, her arms were so limp she could barely hold onto him, and haphazardly, they rested on his shoulders.
When at last she utterly fell into a deep slumber, she still had not discerned whether the sky outside the window had lightened already.
The following day, she only had two periods of classes, both of which were physics.
She had not expected that, in order to be able to see Gu Pingsheng off, the first time in her entire university career that she skipped class would be dedicated to Zhao Yin.
“When Teacher Zhao does a roll call for this first time and discovers that I’m not there, will I be put directly onto her blacklist? But I guess it’s not big deal anyway. With you around, I reckon she blacklisted me very early on …” She deliberately jested at the airport customs entrance, trying to cover up her downcast spirits.
Gu Pingsheng did not speak. From his jeans, he pulled out his wallet and took out a photo from inside, handing it to her.
When he gave it to her, it was face down.
She flipped it over. It turned out to be the photograph taken that time when she had been forced to accompany him to climb the Great Wall. In the photograph, her cheeks were rosy and the sheen of sweat could be seen on her forehead, while beside her, he faced into the sunlight with a smile, looking very handsome.
At the time, the two of them had not yet developed a close relationship, so naturally, when they took the photograph, they had been stiff and reserved.
Even though they had been standing so close their bodies were touching, their expressions had been deliberately proper. Now, looking back at it, there was an additional sense of amusement.
What sort of process had brought two people together?
She mulled over this carefully but still was unable to think of any noteworthy event or moment that had occurred. But, they were together now. Baffling, yet it also felt as if this was what it ought to be.
She slipped the photo into her backpack, and then, purposely putting on a pouty manner, she took ahold of his hand. In that instant when their fingers intertwined together, a strong feeling of sadness and not wanting to part from him suddenly swelled upwards. She simply could not at all make herself let go of that hand.
“When you’re back in the U.S., will you run into your first girlfriend? Or maybe some of those blonde or brown-haired ex-girlfriends?” As she joked, she forced herself to pull her hand back, but unexpectedly, he tightened his grip on her, not allowing her to escape.
His hold was very strong, but the smile on his face was very relaxed. “Likely not. My schedule is really packed, so packed, in fact, that I can only spend time in either the hospital or at home.”
“Fine, I’ll believe you for now.” Since she could not break loose of his grasp, she instead applied strength to her hands so that her hold on him was even tighter than his grip on her. “You promised me you would return in half a year, so you must be back in half a year. Otherwise … if you’re late, you won’t be waited for.”
Actually, what she really wanted to say was, it did not need to be perfect; he did not need to seem like he was a completely healthy person before he returned. And he could take his time with any rehabilitative therapy … However, after hesitating for a long while, she still did not end up speaking these words out.
There the two of them stood, hand tightly in hand. All around were people bidding their farewells and many, many words of parting being spoken. But she truly did not know what else she should say and merely tried with all her might to maintain a smile and suppress all her worries into the deepest reaches of her heart.
Only when it was time for him to go into customs did her gaze completely mist over. Right as she was about to steel herself and turn around to leave, Gu Pingsheng suddenly stopped at the customs entrance and looked in her direction.
She thought he wanted to say something.
Merely smiling, he closed his left hand into a fist, brought it up to his lips, and kissed the band that encircled his ring finger. And then, bringing that hand down again, he stepped through the entryway to customs.
美人如玉 “mei ren ru yu.” Originally taken from the poem《夜坐》Sitting in the Night by celebrated Qing dynasty poet, 龔自珍 Gong Zizhen. The beauty being described here is the ideal, refined beauty that comes not from outer appearance but the type that comes when all shackles on a person’s talents have been removed and, like in a state of zen, he can at last exude his purest, truest form of beauty.
芝兰玉树 “zhi lan yu shu.” This is an idiom that literally means “like angelica and orchids, or trees of jade” and is used as a metaphor to describe outstanding young men, so exceptional that this feeling is emitted from their entire bearing.
1 of 1 Prologue
35 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments