When Cheng Xi returned home, it was still early in the night. Without any pressing concerns, she decided to do some yoga.
Practicing yoga could help people relax and calm down.
After she finished her session and her heart had returned to its normal pace, she picked up her phone and started scrolling through. Her feed was inundated with photos of the impromptu fireworks show and fiery from proclamation that night. They were taken from a myriad of different angles, capturing the scene from various viewpoints. But their captions were all essentially the same: at the end of XX year, I saw a nouveau riche’s expression of love!
She even received a few direct messages along the lines of, ‘Heh heh heh heh, your surname’s also Cheng, and you’re a doctor. Are you the recipient of this message?’
Black lines marred Cheng Xi’s forehead as she rubbed her temples. Out of frustration, she bluntly discarded her phone and ignored it for the rest of the night. Gossip was a very strange phenomena; a good piece of gossip could gain popularity quickly, but if there weren’t any follow-ups, then it would die down just as fast.
She prepared to bathe and sleep, pretending that none of this had happened. But just as she laid out clean clothes to change into, the doorbell rang. Through the front door’s camera screen, Lin Fan’s face was looking steadily at her.
Cheng Xi hesitated for a moment before opening the door.
When Lin Fan entered he immediately noticed that Cheng Xi was in her pajamas with a light smile on her lips, a warm gaze, and slightly damp hair.
“You just came back?” This was the first thing he said.
Cheng Xi wasn’t surprised; tonight’s incident had even ended up on the local news, so it would be more strange if Lin Fan hadn’t heard about it.
She didn’t answer his question. “Are you done with your tasks?”
In the afternoon, Lin Fan’s mother and Meng Qingyang had personally come to find her, but he hadn’t had the time to do so. Now, after hearing about this incident, he had come over so late at night…… Even if Cheng Xi had no intentions of interrogating him, asking him such a question at this time nonetheless made it feel like an interrogation.
Lin Fan slightly stilled for a moment, a sense of gloom flickering through his eyes. “You want to give up.”
His tone was certain.
Upon hearing this, Lin Fan seemed to lose all energy, his figure deflating against the doorframe. He looked at her despondently, almost pleading, “If it’s because of Meng Qingyang or my mother, then I can explain.”
She responded straightforwardly, but Lin Fan found that her responses only made his mouth dry up even quicker.
By now, Cheng Xi had moved to the side of the door. “Why don’t you come in first?” She was still warm and thoughtful, but her warmth and thoughtfulness lacked their usual intimacy.
Lin Fan followed her inside. Her room was as clean as always with a book and a vase of flowers tastefully sitting on the coffee table. The flowers were thin and elegant, while also silent and independent, as if they had some of Cheng Xi’s unique charm.
Cheng Xi poured him a glass of water and sat down in front of him.
After a moment of silence, Lin Fan started talking. “Meng Qingyang’s my colleague, and the only reason why I took care of her was because you told me that she was depressed and that her thoughts would easily tend towards the extreme. Thus, I was more patient with her than others, as I thought that doing so would help you. I never thought that my actions would give her the impression that I treated her differently from others, and that she would end up thinking something I never expected.”
Cheng Xi silently listened to him talk. Honestly, his avoiding the main points and focusing too much on the trivial ones made her slightly disappointed. “Before she set you up, did she really not display any suggestive actions toward you? And, Lin Fan, do you feel like you’re truly happy when you’re with me?”
Lin Fan quickly replied, “Of course I’m happy. When I found out that you liked me back, Cheng Xi, you don’t know how happy I was!”
Cheng Xi smiled bitterly. “You’re talking about when you found out. Then what about afterwards?”
Lin Fan was in a daze. “Was there an afterwards?”
Right, was there? After they had confessed their mutual feelings and started their relationships, they had barely even had a chance to have a normal date. The closest that they ever got was probably them visiting Chen Jiaman together; only then had nothing been able to disturb them.
Cheng Xi was mute for a moment before she apologized. “I’m sorry.” Even though she was a professional psychiatrist with a major in psychology, even though she had always had an academic answer, she was still learning to apply that knowledge in her personal life, including her love life. “I think that I overreacted.” She couldn’t help but admit her own faults. “I shouldn’t have decided to start this romance so carelessly. Perhaps we should spend some more time together to understand each other better.”
This was why she always felt that love was just a beautiful illusion; it made people lose their logic and rationality, and it easily created unrealistic expectations in people.
Cheng Xi thought that she had been perfectly honest in this relationship, but Lin Fan couldn’t accept her honesty. He knew that when Cheng Xi admitted her carelessness and impetuousness, it also implied that she regretted their relationship, and her regret meant that she had already decided to cut him off.
Almost frenetic, he shouted, “No, it’s not like that! I’m not unhappy! I’ve been happy all this time!”
When Cheng Xi saw him act like this, she couldn’t help but sigh. “Then why were you set up when you went out drinking with your colleagues? Lin Fan, even though we’ve only confessed our feelings for each other recently, we’ve already known each other for ten years. In the past, I’ve never had a relationship because no one was able to move my heart—that was, until I encountered you again. I thought that, maybe for these past ten years, the person I was waiting for was you. I thought that you would feel the same way as me, but you were set up by someone else while we were still in a romantic relationship. That makes me think that you might not truly love me, or at least, not love me as much as you thought you did. How else could the Lin Fan that I know be so easily set up by someone else?”
Upon hearing her emotional confession, Lin Fan’s heart trembled. Cheng Xi’s words were too much for him to bear, each word piercing and terrible, forcefully triggering memories of that night when he had gone drinking with his colleagues. Meng Qingyang had invited him to leave with her; they were both tipsy and so had chosen not to drive back. Instead, they slowly meandered through the streets.
After a long round of drinking, he had been feeling gloomy, and in that state of mind, he had wanted to unburden the heavy thoughts weighing on him. As he talked with Meng Qingyang, the conversation had actually turned to Cheng Xi, about her experiences with Lin Fan in the past. And Meng Qingyang, despite the fact that she was talking about another person with Lin Fan, had actually smiled brightly. Her smile had thrust Lin Fan into the past, conjuring an image of when he had been by Cheng Xi’s side---she had a savory scone in her hands and was smiling as she asked, “Lin Fan, will you come home with me? I’ll give you this, alright?”
When he had been abroad for all those years, whenever he felt lonely or upset, he would think of this scene. And then without fail, he would always wake up in a melancholic mood—he had been by her side for so long, but he had never found the appropriate moment to tell her that he loved her, to kiss her.
Their childhood nights together were lovely, but there always remained some intangible distance between them; they were neither too close nor too far, but just close enough for him to watch her.
It had been right before dawn, when the streets were very, very quiet, so quiet that it seemed as if they were in a dream. Unable to restrain his emotions, he had stretched out his hands and pulled her into his embrace. But when the dream ended, he had realized that the person he was embracing wasn’t Cheng Xi, but rather someone entirely different… He didn’t know how to process the confusion that he was feeling, so he followed his instinct and hurriedly ran away to find the actual woman of his dreams. Once he did, he’d hugged and kissed her anxiously, wanting to convince himself through his actions that he had only hugged the wrong person because of his drunken stupor.
At that time, Cheng Xi’s cool-headedness had made him calm down, but he had also felt an exceedingly strange feeling from her: a little bit of disappointment, but also relief from a burden…
And when he listened to Cheng Xi reveal all her thoughts, Lin Fan found that he actually couldn’t refute her words. Perhaps she was right, perhaps the person who he had loved might have just been a childhood fantasy of his, the product of her offering a small kindness in a time of hardship.
He loved her, not the present her, but the youthful her, the young girl who only cared about him. And she was no longer her, her heart now filled with too many people and far too many things.