The dentist’s surname was Shen, he’d been responsible for Zhuo Xiang Ming’s teeth since he was eight years old. Tong Yan followed the nurse out. Zhuo Xiang Ming couldn’t go with him and was waiting for him in the office.
The doctor laughed: “This is the first time I’ve seen him since the wedding. It’s actually been a few months now that I think about it. I see you guys seem to be getting along quite well?”
He was talking about Tong Yan, who had a routine inspection before the marriage. The two men previously had a few conversations about Zhuo Xiang Ming’s after marriage life. At that time, although Zhuo Xiang Ming didn’t explicitly say anything, he didn’t look very enthusiastic.
Zhuo Xiang Ming had a tranquil expression on his face: “Still OK.”
The two talked while waiting for Tong Yan. Most of the conversation was the doctor asking questions, and Zhuo Xiang Ming answering.
”It’s still strenuous to raise a teenager.” The doctor said, “But he looks very well-behaved, and doesn’t talk much. If he was rebellious, I reckon things would be even more troublesome.”
When outsiders describe Tong Yan, most of them used the word ‘well-behaved’, and those that got closer to him would praise his beauty. Zhuo Xiang Ming said: “Yes, but for children, such and such matters are inevitable.”
Listening to these words that resembled dialogue from an experienced parent, the doctor laughed again: “For example?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming was quiet for a moment, then said: “For example, growing a wisdom tooth, and not wanting to extract a tooth.”
The doctor only regarded his complaints as commonplace, then he thought of the chaos in his own home, and put himself in Zhuo Xiang Ming’s shoes, agreeing before asking offhandedly: “I think it’s because he’s afraid of pain, and also afraid of dentists. I explained it quite well just now, but it was useless. What did you tell him? I’ll write it down so I can use it on the next child who’s afraid of a tooth extraction.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming was sitting in the chair neatly, all throughout the conversation, his expression was serious and his appearance was reticent, but when he heard this question, he fished the pamphlet out from his suit pocket and turned to a particular page, seriously pointing at it for the doctor to see: “He was scared of a future pregnancy being affected, so he agreed to extract it now. Actually, I had nothing to do with it.”
”…” In the end, Dr. Shen was in his fifties, he was dazed only for a moment before carefully sizing up the other man’s upright face and finally saying, “Such and such matters? I think Mr. Zhuo seems to be enjoying it.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming put away the pamphlet and didn’t say another word.
After returning home, Tong Yan wasn’t in good spirits. He announced that he wanted to sleep, and went upstairs to his bedroom after taking the medicine.
Zhuo Xiang Ming went to the balcony to collect the sun-basked quilt, then closed the curtains. Turning around, he saw that Tong Yan was already lying in bed, but he was still wearing his coat. His upper body was twisted at a funny angle, his fur collar covering most of his face.
”Take off your jacket.” Zhuo Xiang Ming walked over, holding the quilt in one hand and playfully poking at Tong Yan’s cheek.
Tong Yan brushed his hand away, sliding off his coat exasperatingly slow, and pushing it to the other side of the bed. Zhuo Xiang Ming covered him with the quilt: “Falling asleep?”
Tong Yan nodded, his eyes struggling to open, he held Zhuo Xiang Ming’s wrist and rubbed against it: “Suddenly really sleepy ah.”
The painkillers had a soothing effect. Zhuo Xiang Ming patted his face with the back of his hand, lowering his voice: “Go to sleep.”
Tong Yan shut his eyes, Zhuo Xiang Ming stayed a moment longer, but when he was preparing to leave, Tong Yan whispered: “Brother.”
Tong Yan released his hand and shrank into the quilt, like a tiny squirrel afraid of the cold: “Never mind.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming leaned over and hugged him across the quilt, holding his face to look at his temporarily still swollen right face, then he kissed his hair. Tong Yan was very sleepy, weakly turning his head to bump his lips.
Zhuo Xiang Ming wasn’t in a hurry, sitting by the bedside for a while. After Tong Yan quickly fell asleep, he adjusted the temperature and humidity levels before closing the door and leaving.
It was only twelve o’clock, the small house was still very quiet, with only the occasional very faint debugging sounds from some appliances, and rustling sounds from the decorative mechanical watches. But these sounds didn’t break the calm, on the contrary, they were part of its composition.
Before Tong Yan arrived, the house was also quiet like this, but this quiet seemed to be very different.
Zhuo Xiang Ming handled various jobs at his work station on the first floor, the overall efficiency was a bit higher than yesterday, and a lot higher than this morning — he wasn’t frequently checking his messages. When Tong Yan was home, there was nothing outside worth worrying about.
His piled-up work was almost cleared up, the memos on the shared screen were eliminated one by one. For some mysterious reason, Zhuo Xiang Ming opened up an encyclopedic search, browsing keywords from “wisdom teeth”, “pericoronitis ” to “pregnancy precautions “. The transition was smooth and natural, no peculiarities.
When he realized what he was looking at, he coughed, although there was no one around him, to hide his embarrassment and self-contempt.
Tong Yan’s nap was very long, it was almost three o’clock, he really should get up soon. Zhuo Xiang Ming decided to go upstairs and wake him up, but when he entered Tong Yan’s bedroom, the quilt was piled up on the bed, but no one was inside.
There was no one in the bathroom or the walk-in closet. Zhuo Xiang Ming turned away from the walk-in closet, but before he could close the door, he turned his head and noticed that the dry and warm afternoon sunshine was spilling on everything in the corridor. Many tiny dust particles cruised in the light path, and a certain too smooth floor ardently reflected the light, dazzling the eyes.
The tip of his nose touched the light fragrance emitted by the wooden door panel, a somewhat artificial aroma. This was the result of a whim the couple had two weeks ago. They went shopping at an automated supermarket together, and the detergent Tong Yan chose to switch to had the scent of cape jasmine. After adjusting, it was very close. Tong Yan said that it was identical many times, but Zhuo Xiang Ming felt that it couldn’t compare with the hint of pheromone Tong Yan released from time to time, when he was unable to suppress it.
Zhuo Xiang Ming didn’t search through any other rooms, heading directly to his bedroom. Sure enough, his dark colored bedding was wrapped around a small squirrel that was hibernating to get through the winter.
Tong Yan slept very deeply, and there was no isolation patch on his nape. The pheromones he naturally emitted during deep sleep unconsciously filled the room.
Thinking of how, while he was working downstairs, Tong Yan momentarily woke up and drowsily switched to his bedroom to sleep, Zhuo Xiang Ming had a flash of irrepressible bad thoughts.
Together with the quilt, he easily pulled Tong Yan towards himself, when he discovered that Tong Yan was also hugging his pillow. Seeing this, he rained kisses down on him.
The feeling of a good nap being disturbed couldn’t be worse, but Tong Yan was the type of person with the least morning grumpiness. He strived to sit upright, half asleep, half awake, but his eyes still couldn’t open, and his two hands gripped the corner of the quilt. His eyes, nose, and lips were kissed. He stared foolishly, his body trembling slightly with each kiss. A good while later, he struggled to open his mouth, “Brother …”
Zhuo Xiang Ming hummed, and he asked again, “What’re you doing?” His face was still swollen, so Tong Yan’s speech was a little unclear.
Zhuo Xiang Ming said mildly: “It’s after three, time to wake up.”
Tong Yan closed his eyes, nodding jerkily, like a chicken pecking rice: “Oh, okay, I’ll wake up in a moment.”
Seeing his cute about to fall asleep again in the next second, but trying his hardest not to let himself fall asleep appearance, Zhuo Xiang Ming’s heart trembled. As a result, Zhuo Xiang Ming became even more wicked, pinching Tong Yan’s nose, forcing the boy to open his mouth to breathe, then sealing his mouth with a kiss.
Tong Yan was sluggish from sleeping on Zhuo Xiang Ming’s bed, he had no strength to resist the repeated bulling. In the end, his lips became red, his eyes were also a little red, and most of his sleepiness had run away. He was still wrapped in the quilt, hugged by Zhuo Xiang Ming. He asked softly, “What are you doing ah?”
This still couldn’t be called an interrogative tone. Zhuo Xiang Ming counterattacked, “What time do you think it is? All you’ve done is sleep since you came back, it seems that you didn’t miss me at all.”
Tong Yan hurriedly said: “I missed you.”
”Oh?” Zhuo Xiang Ming didn’t look very convinced.
Tong Yan explained: “Soon after I fell asleep, I felt my tooth throbbing a little. I didn’t know what was happening, so I thought about going to your room. I planned to get up at half past one, but I just kept sleeping …”
Zhuo Xiang Ming interrogated him well, Tong Yan ceded reparations, and took the initiative to cup Zhuo Xiang Ming’s face, kissing him, struggling to prove that during this separation period, he really missed Zhuo Xiang Ming.
The two peacefully embraced for a while, then Tong Yan asked in a low voice, “Still angry?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming magnanimously said: “Not angry.”
Tong Yan laughed, still languid, wiggling out of the quit to hug Zhuo Xiang Ming.
”You said your tooth was throbbing, does it still hurt now?” Zhuo Xiang Ming turned to look at his face. It wasn’t swollen as badly as this morning, but it was still swollen.
Tong Yan nodded: “Still hurts a bit, but it’s not very painful.”
The doctor also said that after taking the medicine, it would definitely still hurt. He had to wait a few days after the inflammation disappeared, then go for a few checkups, all problems would be solved after the wisdom tooth growing in a problematic place was plucked out. Zhuo Xiang Ming knew this, but seeing Tong Yan’s listlessness, he still couldn’t express his heartache, desperately wanting to make the boy happy.
That afternoon, neither of them had anything to do. Tong Yan’s homework was completed, and Zhuo Xiang Ming also didn’t need to work. They were both happy to waste time, but Tong Yan, feeling significant discomfort, didn’t want to play with Lego, and also came down with a slight case of clinginess disease, reclining unstirringly in Zhuo Xiang Ming’s arms while Zhuo Xiang Ming found a family comedy to put on.
After the young couple in the family comedy had a premarital pregnancy. On the wedding day, the bride gave birth to the firstborn, the scene was chaotic, and the comedic effect was full.
Tong Yan looked a bit interested, grabbing Zhuo Xiang Ming’s hand and asking, “Would you like an alpha or an omega?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming wanted to laugh, but the smile couldn’t come out, his expression looked odd. He restrained and said, “You’re still young, but think about having children all day long.”
”What about it?” Tong Yan said unhappily, “I’m not giving birth right away, is thinking about it a crime?”
After waking up completely, his bad temper also come out, Zhuo Xiang Ming hurriedly coaxed him: “It’s not a crime, think about it, think.”
The two almost perfunctorily watched the TV, then had a light dinner. Tong Yan had no appetite, so he didn’t eat much. Zhuo Xiang Ming also put down his chopsticks after him. After showering, they said a few words, then went back to their rooms.
At around one in the morning, Zhuo Xiang Ming still hadn’t sleep much, thinking about going to take a look at Tong Yan—he’d never experienced such a feeling before, he didn’t know why he felt so worried about another person, at least, he’d never felt that way about his own affairs.
When all was said and done, Tong Yan just had a toothache, but since this afternoon, the boy’s mood wasn’t very good. Zhuo Xiang Ming kept feeling distressed, anxious about Tong Yan getting a fever, or like yesterday, being unable to sleep from the pain, but enduring it all alone, afraid to disturb others’ rest.
Before going to bed, he securely pulled the blinds in Tong Yan’s room, but he didn’t remember to take care of the ones in his room. The mid-month moon was disk shaped, hanging brightly in the sky, silver white light covering the floor, reflecting the shapeless tree branches under the window.
Before Zhuo Xiang Ming could get up, the door was gently pushed open a crack, and at the edge of the moonlight, a person slipped in. It was Tong Yan, hugging his quilt, the corner dangling on the ground, doubtlessly dragged along the whole journey. He stood in the doorway for a short moment, as if hesitating, but he didn’t hesitate for too long, soon closing the door behind him and walking over to Zhuo Xiang Ming.
Tong Yan didn’t expect that Zhuo Xiang Ming also wasn’t asleep, he froze by the bedside, his face somewhat red.
The boy wore horizontal stripped pajamas, his hair a complete mess, combined with his swollen face and big eyes, he looked like a pitiful, small homeless animal, trembling in fear and trepidation, only showing some intimacy with Zhuo Xiang Ming.
”Did I wake you up?”
”No.” Zhuo Xiang Ming opened his quilt to let him into the bed. The quilt Tong Yan brought was quietly left on the bed corner. He reservedly squeezed into Zhuo Xiang Ming’s embrace, and the two hugged each other.
”Does it still hurt?” Zhuo Xiang Ming asked softly.
The night was very dark, Tong Yan gave an aggrieved grunt, whimpering a bit.
During the afternoon, he never made such groans, Zhuo Xiang Ming hugged him tightly, pulling the quilt up to cover his shoulders. He tried to keep his pheromones within a moderate range, slowly coaxing Tong Yan to sleep.
The next day, Tong Yan didn’t return to his room. The day after that, he also didn’t return. After two check-ups, his inflammation was cured, and his tooth was successfully extracted. He’d also completely settled into Zhuo Xiang Ming’s bedroom.
Teenager- lit. Half-big child. Doesn’t seem to have a fixed meaning, so I settled on teenager.
The doctor only regarded his complaints as commonplace– 医生只当他寻常抱怨, unsure of translation
automated supermarket- lit. offline supermarket. Seems to be automated, sometimes unmanned, physical stores. One news article called Amazon Go stores this, so that’s what I went with
counterattacked- or make bogus accusations
premarital pregnancy- lit. ‘Buying a ticket after getting on the bus/train” lol
FOD vol 2 re-translation is out. Go read it.