The Chengs had lived in this apartment for many years; in other words, their neighbors had essentially seen Cheng Xi grow up.
Cheng Xi knew the man who had opened the windows and yelled at them. He wasn’t too much older than Cheng Xi’s father, but he was technically from her grandfather’s generation. His favorite food from her parents’ store was their alkaline noodles.
His voice was very loud, shattering the silence of the night. It woke almost everyone in the apartment complex. Soon after the yell, Cheng Xi could see vague movement in the windows on the floors above and below his, and also from the rooms to his left and right.
Creaking sounds echoed in the night as Cheng Xi clutched at Lu Chenzhou. Alright, I probably won’t be able to hide the fact that I found a dolt as a boyfriend and was kissing him in public.
It was cold, and she couldn’t just stay curled up there without moving. Even if she didn’t freeze to death, something would happen to Lu Chenzhou. But since she was unable to push or lift him off of herself, she could only ask someone for help. In the end, she decided to ask the person nearest to her: the old man who’d shouted at her. “I’m sorry, he’s drunk. Could you help me carry him into the car?”
Hearing her voice, the old man belatedly realized who it was. “Oh, so it’s Dr. Cheng! Sure, give me a moment.”
Cheng Xi started sweating. Someone from the apartment above them quickly shouted, “It’s Dr. Cheng? Dr. Cheng, your boyfriend came looking for you this late?”
Cheng Xi felt that, despite her recent thick-skinned behavior, she still wasn’t accustomed to this level of scrutiny. She buried her head in Lu Chenzhou’s shoulder; at that moment, she really wanted to fiercely gouge a hole in it.
Why did he have to harm her like that?
She pretended not to hear any of the heckling, intending to run away as soon as Lu Chenzhou was dragged into the car. Then, whether or not she destroyed or abandoned his corpse would be up to her. But the old man who came up to help her was surprisingly enthusiastic. When he noticed that his clothes were wet, he exclaimed, “Did he fall into a river? It’s so cold out that he might catch a cold. What are you thinking, dragging him into a car while he’s in that state? Go home! Go home and change his clothes for him.” When he saw that Cheng Xi was unwilling to do so, he frowned. “Don’t get mad just because he’s drunk. The fact that he came to find you despite how drunk he is implies that you’re the only person in his heart. It’s just that this situation is quite dangerous. If he gets caught by the police, he’ll have to go to prison, and it wouldn’t be good if an accident happened either.”
He kept talking, his voice as loud as ever. Cheng Xi didn’t want to explain anything at all, because things would only become more muddled the more she tried. Ultimately, she clenched her teeth and smiled. “I’m very thankful for your help.”
The old man was surprisingly strong for his age, and was able to carry half of Lu Chenzhou’s body weight on his own. He even had enough extra energy to move around and feel Lu Chenzhou’s body. “Even though he looks skinny, he’s quite heavy and pretty solid! Your boyfriend’s physique isn’t bad.”
Cheng Xi didn’t know what to say in response. She found the car keys still stuck in the car, and pocketed them as she turned the headlights off and closed the car door. With that taken care of, she silently helped carry Lu Chenzhou into her parent’s house.
Her parents had originally been sleeping soundly, but they were promptly awakened by the noise of three people entering the house. The couple climbed out of bed, and upon seeing the man that their daughter had picked up in the middle of the night, made identical faces that clearly said, “My goodness, am I blind?”
But the man helping them didn’t notice, and he started off by saying, “Old Cheng, I’m helping you bring your daughter’s boyfriend home. He’s drunk and his clothes are wet. You should quickly help him get changed.”
He actually very much wanted to study ‘Cheng Xi’s boyfriend’ some more, but was quickly yet politely sent away by Cheng Xi’s father.
Once they closed the front door, Cheng Xi and her parents looked at each other, both sides unsure of what to say. After a while, her mother finally pointed a trembling finger at Lu Chenzhou, who was lying on the sofa. “What’s this? Didn’t you say that the two of you broke up?”
Cheng Xi coughed awkwardly. “This is a misunderstanding…”
Her mother exploded. “Misunderstanding?! If it were a misunderstanding, then why would he keep looking for you? It was him last time too, wasn’t it? He’s so drunk that he pounced on you as soon as he got in the door. Is he a beast, or is he a beast?” At this point, she even started scolding her husband. “It’s all your fault! Last time when I wanted to go see her, you wouldn’t allow me to, saying something about how she’s grown up and knows what she’s doing… Is this what knowing what she’s doing looks like? Sneaking someone into the house in the middle of the night…”
Cheng Xi and her father both ended up getting berated by her mother. After she calmed down a bit, they went to tidy up the place and sort out the aftermath. Her father first softly told her mother, “Now that it’s come to this, we might as well get him settled down. He’s as cold as ice. If he gets sick, he’d really blame our daughter then.”
Upon hearing this, her mother fell deep into thought. She fiercely glared at Cheng Xi one more time, and then went into Cheng Yang’s room to look for some clothes that she could let Lu Chenzhou change into.
Cheng Xi just stood there obediently, her head bowed as she emanated remorse. But internally, she was thinking that it was good that Lu Chenzhou really wasn’t her boyfriend as his image had already been ruined in her parents’ eyes.
As for “dolt” becoming “useless dolt,” well…
While her father was helping Lu Chenzhou change, Cheng Xi hid in her room, but that only caused her mother to show up, grab her by the ear, and scold her once more. “What happened?”
“I don’t know.”
Her mother glared at her. “You don’t know why he came looking for you in the middle of the night?”
“Maybe he’s ill.”
Cheng Xi was telling the truth, but her mother didn’t believe her and even continued to scold her. “You’d even get together with someone who’s mentally unsound? Is the stress of being a doctor getting to you?!”
Cheng Xi couldn’t refute her mother, because she felt that her mother did have a point. In some sense, from a doctor’s perspective, she was unduly attracted to Lu Chenzhou.
She also felt somewhat guilty; her parents normally got up very early and barely had any time to rest during the day, which made their sleep all the more important. Tonight, however, their rest had been disrupted over and over again.
She pulled on her mother’s hand anxiously and pleaded, “Mom, please go back to sleep with dad for now. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to handle this properly.”
Her mother looked at her suspiciously.
“It’s true.” Cheng Xi smiled and decided to try to clear up Lu Chenzhou’s name a little. “He’s not going to blame me. Don’t worry. Oh, if you don’t trust me, you can even ask Cheng Yang. He knows too.”
Cheng Xi’s mother raised her eyebrows. “He knows too?”
“Er…” Cheng Xi evaluated her position and decided that since they were siblings who had stayed in the same womb for ten months, it would be fine for him to take the fall every once in a while, right? So she nodded without any further deliberation. “Yes, he knew it all.”
Cheng Xi didn’t know what was going through her mother’s mind, but she was so angry that her teeth couldn’t stop grinding. Cheng Xi felt that, if Cheng Yang were in front of their mother right now, he would immediately receive a big beating.
Her father knocked on the door. “His clothes have been changed.”
Cheng Xi and her mother walked out. Out of habit, Cheng Xi inspected Lu Chenzhou’s condition. She first checked his skin temperature, then peeled his eyelids back to examine his pupils, and finally checked his heart rate through his wrist. Once she was finished, she nodded. “Thank goodness…”
Raising her head, she saw her parents looking at her strangely. Only then did Cheng Xi explain. With a soft cough, she said, “Thank goodness he’s not displaying any symptoms of a cold.” Looking at her father, she continued, “Dad, when he wakes up tomorrow, let him thank you.”
The only thing on her father’s mind was that his own daughter was too simple-minded and somewhat silly. He couldn’t bear to look at her anymore, so he merely waved his hand before retreating to his room.
Her mother pointed a trembling finger at her again. “You, you, you, you… All my lectures have been for naught! Make him scram once he wakes up tomorrow. At any rate, I’ll never accept someone like him.” After taking two steps back, she yelled at her again. “Go sleep! Stop worrying about him!”
Unfortunately, the misunderstanding between her and her parents seemed to have grown even deeper. They wouldn’t believe that Lu Chenzhou was ill; naturally, her actions after they called her out would be misinterpreted as her caring for him.
Cheng Xi couldn’t stop herself from rubbing her temples. Once her parents had both left the room, she stood to the side and looked at Lu Chenzhou for a long while. She thought about what his cold face had looked like the first time she had ever seen him. It was hard for her to believe that one day, he would end up where he was now: wearing clothes one size too small for him and sleeping half-curled up on a sofa in her parents’ house, looking pitiful and harmless.