Within a few days, Lin Yue Hua was hospitalized. After school, Zhuo Xiang Ming picked Tong Yan up from school and went directly to the hospital. At the hospital, she wasn’t hooked up to an IV, and she was even wearing light makeup. She looked very energetic, more so than when they met that weekend. On the contrary, Zhuo ZhengDe, who was accompanying her, looked like he’d lost his soul.
Tong Yan knew that not many people could survive such a long time with late stage cancer, they would always gradually come to this point.
But logical knowledge couldn’t control emotions. Tong Yan’s hand was held by Zhuo Xiang Ming as they walked out of the hospital, and the two returned home in relative silence. Zhuo Xiang Ming was okay. He was an adult and looked like an adult. The main cause was Tong Yan’s low mood—- Depressed, he put down his school bag and went to eat, but he also didn’t eat much.
Zhuo Xiang Ming tapped the edge of his bowl with his chopsticks: “Not eating?”
Tong Yan: “I don’t want to eat anymore.”
”Then eat when you’re hungry later.” Zhuo Xiang Ming didn’t force him, “Do you have a lot of homework?”
Tong Yan: “Not too bad.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming hummed and stopped eating, pulling him upstairs by the hand.
Tong Yan did his homework, while Zhuo Xiang Ming was busy with his own affairs. He sent several e-mails and made a few phone calls, Tong Yan listened in as he contacted a doctor.
After a while, Tong Yan put down his pen and asked: “Can mom’s illness still be treated?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming was sitting behind the office desk. At his words, he raised his eyes and looked at him with what seemed to be a pitying look. After a while, he gently said: “We’re trying to find a way.”
Tong Yan quickly lowered his head. Zhuo Xiang Ming hung up the waiting to connect call and walked up to him. Pinching his chin with his hand, he found that his eyes were red.
Tong Yan always knew that Lin Yue Hua was sick, but she didn’t go to the hospital, so he could convince himself that it was nothing serious. Suddenly seeing her wearing patient clothes today, he really couldn’t bear it.
Zhuo Xiang Ming let go of his chin, and Tong Yan immediately turned his face to the side.
The after eight o’clock sky was dark, nightfall, the glass windows behind him were pitch-black.
Zhuo Xiang Ming half-squatted in front of Tong Yan, holding his hand with one hand and covering his cheek with the other.
Tong Yan thought that Zhuo Xiang Ming’s heart was definitely 100 times, 10,000 times more uncomfortable than his. At this time, he should be the one comforting Zhuo Xiang Ming, but the situation was reversed like this. He felt that he was useless, then he felt sorry for Zhuo Xiang Ming.
”Tong Tong.” Zhuo Xiang Ming warmly said, “Should we talk?”
Tong Yan sucked in a breath and rubbed his cheek against Zhuo Xiang Ming’s palm, saying to him: “It’s nothing, do your work, I’ll do my homework.”
He was never one to say ‘it’s nothing’ when he had something on his mind. Zhuo Xiang Ming looked at him and confirmed: “Is it really all right?”
Tong Yan smiled at him: “Really.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming touched his face with the back of his hand then got up, saying: “Then you do your homework.”
He turned away to make another call, this time not in front of Tong Yan, moving to another room.
Tong Yan thought that he couldn’t help much with this kind of thing, so he could only try to avoid causing trouble and at least take care of himself. He was very confused and sad, but he still earnestly finished his homework, collected his schoolbag, then went down to the first floor to put it away.
In the evening, Zhuo Xiang Ming took a shower first, and after Tong Yan stepped out of the bath, he was carried to the bed.
Zhuo Xiang Ming first helped him blow dry his hair, encircling him in his arms. After he was done, he cupped his face and kissed him. Tong Yan took away the hair dryer and reached back to place it on the bedside table.
”What’s wrong?” Zhuo Xiang Ming rubbed his back and said in a low voice, “Don’t look so depressed, my heart aches.”
The alpha’s pheromones slowly soothed his tense nerves. The bedroom was lit with a faint yellow wall lamp that only encircled a bright corner of the bed. Tong Yan leaned into Zhuo Xiang Ming’s embrace, feeling his comforting caress, after a while, he said in a soft voice: “I was just thinking about my mother, but I don’t really remember her much.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming hummed, then hugged him more tightly. Tong Yan said: “My dad and brother used to mention her often, but they’ve slowly done that less and less in recent years. They said that she loved me a lot, but I don’t remember, I can’t even imagine it.”
”There are many photos of her at home. She was very beautiful. My dad used to show us a home video over and over, she was still healthy at that time.” After a pause, Tong Yan said, “I wasn’t born yet.”
After thinking about it, Zhuo Xiang Ming asked: “What was the content of the home video?”
Tong Yan recalled: “Tong Yang was very small. They’d spread a piece of cloth on the lawn in front of our house and put down a lot of food. My dad was holding a video camera and chasing Tong Yang, asking him questions.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “What about your mother?”
Tong Yan: “She … she was beside them, always laughing, so happy.”
Tong Yan’s words were quite disjointed, but Zhuo Xiang Ming seemed to understand something.
”It’s not your fault you don’t remember her.” Zhuo Xiang Ming said, “At that time, you were too young to even understand fullness and hunger. Many children who are trafficked at that age grow up thinking that their adoptive parents are their biological parents. That’s not the child’s fault.”
”I’m sure that she wasn’t only happy when she had Tong Yang. You were her youngest and also an omega—many people think that omega babies are the most adorable, so we can reasonably assume that after giving birth to you, your mother was definitely very happy too.”
Tong Yan didn’t speak. After seeing Lin Yue Hua, many thoughts that he had always avoided thinking about burst out, and these thoughts that needed to be avoided were too heavy for him, he couldn’t adjust his mood.
”After I was born, her health plummeted.” Tong Yan slowly said.
Zhuo Xiang Ming leaned back against the headboard and hugged Tong Yan, trying to find a more comfortable angle. He pulled the quilt over Tong Yan and said: “Baby, that wasn’t your fault.”
”Everyone was looking forward to the arrival of a new family member. The decision to make a child was also the adults’ decision. The risk of childbirth has existed since the beginning of time. Avoid one danger and another will naturally arise. The troubles never end.” Zhuo Xiang Ming said, “No one can choose their own birth, the only ones with a choice are the parents.”
”They decided to have a child, that must’ve been a decision based on the willingness to take on the risks.”
Tong Yan turned to look at him, feeling that Zhuo Xiang Ming was really too cunning, and that every word Zhuo Xiang Ming said made sense.
Zhuo Xiang Ming’s face looked very gentle under the room’s dim lighting. His expression was warm, and his eyes were focused and serious when he looked down at him. Tong Yan’s chest felt stuffy and his eyes became hot, he frantically looked away.
”Baby.” Zhuo Xiang Ming kissed his eyes and sighed, “Baby.”
Tong Yan had never lacked for material things since he was a child, but he had always envied the existence called ‘mother’. He envied other people with mothers in a very despicable way: Whenever he saw a classmate’s mother pick them up from school, he wanted to become that child so, so badly.
When he got a little older and started attending elementary school, the need for a mother seemed to lessen a bit. Those types of thoughts didn’t appear as frequently, but the influence still existed. Most of his good friends were very attached to their mothers, often calling out “My mom”.
But he didn’t realize this until junior high school, when he overheard a boy who he had been on good terms with for more than two years chatting with a group of people. That boy arrogantly shouted that he was only friends with Tong Yan because Tong Yan was rich, it was equivalent to selling food, anyway, it was no loss —- That boy would bring lunch for two every day, one for him and Tong Yan. His mother made it.
Afterwards, the relationship between the two faded as Tong Yan deliberately kept away from him. Tong Yan also became aware of his own issues at that time.
As a result, he fumbled around and changed this bias again.
Life without a mother wasn’t smooth. It was very tiring. There were a lot of detours, and you experienced more ups and downs than other people. There were many, many not-quite problems that must be figured out on your own. And it took a lot of hard work to grow up into a more or less good adult.
Tong Yan once believed this.
Until he met Zhuo Xiang Ming.
His parents were both alive, but he nevertheless silently grew up by himself, and even grew up to be a very good adult.
Tong Yan again realized that the family models in this world weren’t fixed. Everyone had a way to express love. It didn’t have to exist for the sake of participation, and the ways to express love couldn’t compare with the numerous ways to express indifference.
At first, he probably wanted to get close to Lin Yue Hua because of the curiosity produced by the lack of female elders in his life. Afterwards, he fell in love with Zhuo Xiang Ming. Because he pitied and felt distress for this man who once suffered neglect, he tried his best to drag forward the relationship between Zhuo Xiang Ming and Lin Yue Hua.
Later on, Lin Yue Hua was very kind to him, and he also really liked Lin Yue Hua, but he had to admit that most of this change was due to Zhuo Xiang Ming. Because she was connected to his lover by blood, he could give out some more love.
Tong Yan had recognized the importance of a complete family for more than ten years. He understood it better than anyone. After Lin Yue Hua’s death, Zhuo Xiang Ming would thoroughly become a very pitiful person. The damage caused by the permanent break of certain ties couldn’t be repaired. He already no longer needed to be pitied sympathetically, why should Zhuo Xiang Ming also have to suffer this torment?
He would rather Zhuo Xiang Ming forever awkwardly return to that house again and again with a grudge against Lin Yue Hua and Zhuo ZhengDe. Although it wasn’t a pleasant sight, at the very least, he still had a place to go back to.
”I wanted to get angry at you today.” After a long silence, Tong Yan said.
Today, the homeroom teacher passed out the letter of intent for the college entrance examination. This letter had been revised and confirmed by them during the first and second years of high school, and this was the final revision. The one who previously confirmed it was Tong Yang, this time, it was Zhuo Xiang Ming.
Before he got married, he was indifferent to where he would attend school, and it didn’t matter how far away he went. But after so many things happened in the interim, today he received the letter of intent for the foreign school Tong Yang had picked out for him, signed by Zhuo Xiang Ming. The words “I approve” were even written in the text box for the guardian’s opinion.
At that time, Tong Yan’s hands shook with anger. He recalled the slight abnormalities Zhuo Xiang Ming recently displayed from time to time, staring at the words “I approve”, completely speechless.
The letter of intent was stuffed into his bag, and his first decision was to declare that he wanted to return to the Tong family house at the school gate. If Zhuo Xiang Ming was still unsure of their relationship at this point in time, then they should each calm down for a while and discuss it later.
Afterwards, at the entrance to the hospital, he was going to directly ask Zhuo Xiang Ming to speak out about all his grievances. How exactly did he view marriage and bonding? If none of this could give him a sense of security, could make him fully trust in his love, what else could be done?
Tong Yan had prepared a lot of sharp words, but in the end, he couldn’t say anything.
After deciding to return to the Tong family in the classroom, he couldn’t help but repeatedly think. Xuan Gui’s battery still hadn’t been replaced. When did Zhuo Xiang Ming plan to take it in for a replacement? He failed after trying so hard, but now that Zhuo ZhengDe seemed to be a bit more willing to take care of his family, in the future, would Zhuo Xiang Ming gradually gain more confidence in their relationship? His aloofness didn’t even last three minutes, let alone after meeting Zhuo Xiang Ming face to face.
”… The most hateful thing is that, as soon as I saw you, all I could think about was how much I loved you. When you said that mom was hospitalized, I immediately worried about whether or not you were very sad, and how much you were grieving. The fact that I was terribly angry with you was forgotten in a few seconds.”
While listening to his words, to him recounting his mood from the school gate to their home, Zhuo Xiang Ming only felt like crap.
He didn’t want to be a relationship loser, but the fact was, if Tong Yan hadn’t stopped and waited for him again and again, he wouldn’t have even been able to reach the starting line.
If Tong Yan hadn’t asked to date first, when would he have confessed his love to Tong Yan? Maybe he would’ve waited for his disease to be healed, maybe he would’ve waited for his school vacation. Or maybe he would’ve waited for him to finish his exams and go abroad, far, far away. When Tong Yan returned home with another excellent alpha standing beside him, he could only tell himself at night that loving someone didn’t necessarily mean being together. Besides, he’d never won anything he’d fought for before, so why struggle in vain?
fullness and hunger – the basic instinct all humans have that controls their eating. Btw, pretty sure that even the freshest babies can tell if they’re hungry
Trafficked- I thought it was strange for the author to point out trafficked children instead of regular adopted children, but I guess children being kidnapped and ‘adopted’ by unwitting foreign parents is a hotter issue on the other side of the world.
Lots of revelations this chapter. TongTong discusses his mother for the first time, and we learn that he always secretly thought that he was to blame for her death. Plus, turns out ZXM has even less confidence than we thought.
P.S. TongTong’s college choice was first mentioned all the way in chapter 12