Lu Yang walked two more steps to the table. When Chen Yuchuan turned his head, his gaze met a pair of unreadable eyes. The snowflakes on Lu Yang’s shoulders still had not dissipated under the indoor heating, giving the impression that he’d just gone outside for a moment.
Chen Yuchuan hadn’t seen Lu Yang for nearly two months. Lu Yang’s hair was a little shorter than before, looking very neat and seeming to have been recently cut.
Meanwhile, Chen Yuchuan was still holding the phone in his hand, but his thumb had already turned the screen off. He’d just sent some messages to Lu Yang, and now he really saw him. Unable to process this change, he only smiled and greeted him, “Yang ge.”
Lu Yang put his briefcase next to the tea table. Seeing the state of them both, Hua Boxue grabbed a chair and placed it next to Chen Yuchuan at a distance that was neither too close nor too far.
“Lu Yang, what kind of wind is blowing today that it brought you here?” Hua Boxue glanced at Chen Yuchuan as he spoke.
Hua Boxue’s spoke the thoughts in Chen Yuchuan’s mind. The moment Lu Yang came in, Chen Yuchuan hadn’t taken his eyes off of him.
Lu Yang sat down and said, “I just had a meal with a client nearby. Since I was passing through on the way back, I figured I should stop by to have some tea.”
“What do you want to drink?” Hua Boxue pointed to the cabinet with tea leaves beside it.
“Anything will do,” Lu Yang said casually.
Lu Yang had never been too keen on drinking tea. However, after getting to know Hua Boxue, Chen Yuchuan began to enjoy drinking tea and so he would always bring Lu Yang with him. He was usually the most diligent tea drinker during the winter.
“Then I’ll pour you the pot Xiao Chuan’er is drinking.” Hua Boxue poured a cup of tea for Lu Yang, and then filled Chen Yuchuan’s empty cup for him.
Chen Yuchuan moved his chair closer to Lu Yang’s side and pushed the cup aside. Once Lu Yang had taken a sip from his own cup, Chen Yuchuan leaned over and asked, “Is the tea good?”
The white porcelain teacup wasn’t big. Lu Yang turned around while holding the teacup and said, “It’s very good.”
Chen Yuchuan smiled, and Hua Boxue interjected, “How about a few of us brothers get together tonight at the same old place?”
Lu Yang took another sip of tea, put down the teacup, and said, “No gathering. I have a business trip early tomorrow morning, and my flight is at 8.”
“It’s 8 o’clock tomorrow, not 8 o’clock today. Tonight won’t delay you, just don’t drink,” Hua Boxue said.
“I really don’t have time,” Lu Yang refused again.
“Nope,” Hua Boxue said with a “tsk.” “Lu Yang, have some fun. If you say no again, then we’ll think that you’re avoiding Xiao Chuan’er.”
Chen Yuchuan leaned closer to Lu Yang and tilted his head to whisper, “Yang ge, I still have something I need you for. Just go.”
Their old stomping ground was at the outskirts of Hua Boxue’s family courtyard. In the past, they would frequently come here to drink and barbecue.
It was still snowing a little. The small courtyard had a large, glass room, and not only was it not cold, but two small windows had to be opened to let in some air.
Looking up, Chen Yuchuan could see the slowly falling snowflakes. It wasn’t dark yet when they arrived, and they could see that a thin layer of snow had accumulated in some places on the glass roof, making everything looked indescribably comfortable. In short, he felt quite good, because he had met the person he’d wanted to see for a long time.
It was a little crowded, but there were no outsiders. The long, wooden rectangular table was more than enough for five to six people, and Chen Yuchuan was always next to Lu Yang, constantly chattering, asking him this and that.
Whatever he asked, Lu Yang would answer, and within a few minutes, he had already learned everything he wanted to know.
Lu Yang came back half a month ago, and he had, in fact, returned several times before, so that he was only able to finish his business up to now.
In previous years, Lu Yang would visit the branches toward the end of the year, but this year, he went a little bit earlier. In the past, Chen Yuchuan would tag along whenever he was free.
Chen Yuchuan counted the time, and concluded that he and Lu Yang had never been separated for this long. These two months of separation was the longest time they’d ever been apart.
Everyone else wasn’t idle. They kept making fun of Chen Yuchuan and Lu Yang. Ling Qun even asked them when are they going to stop messing around and get remarried.
Lu Yang didn’t speak, but Chen Yuchuan opened his mouth to respond.
He put one hand on Lu Yang’s chair, took a drink of water, and sighed before saying, “You all know that I made a midnight drive some time ago, but ended up returning with nothing to show for it. It took me three hours to get there, and three hours to get back. By the time I got back, it was already dawn. That night was like a dream. When I woke up, I had to eat steamed buns alone.”
Chen Yuchuan made fun of himself first, and the other people teased Lu Yang. However, Lu Yang either ignored their questions completely or didn’t answer them directly, and so the topic was easily bypassed within two to three sentences.
Ling Qin joked, “Lu Yang, with you two like this, it couldn’t be that you’ll end up wanting to accept more of our wedding gift money, right?”
Other people agreed, echoing that if the two of them married the same person the second time around, it would simply be a money lost for them.
The people at the table laughed for a while, but they no longer pursued the topic.
Once the grill was ready, Hua Boxue handed an apron to Chen Yuchuan, saying, “It’s time to grill.”
Chen Yuchuan took the apron, and as he put it on, he said, “I’ll grill. When they grill, it’s really unpalatable.”
Chen Yuchuan and Hua Boxue were usually the ones in charge of grilling. Although Chen Yuchuan wasn’t particularly good at cooking, his kebab grilling skills were really good. The meat kebabs had already been marinated and prepared by the chef and the charcoal had already been prepped. All he needed to do was master the time and the ingredients.
The grill was five to six meters away beside the wooden table. Chen Yuchuan moved the grill a little so he could see the back of Lu Yang, who was still talking to Ling Qun.
Ling Qun kept glancing at the grill behind Lu Yang, and every time Lu Yang glanced back with him, he was always met with Chen Yuchuan’s very direct gaze.
The scent of grilled meat filled the yard, and after a while, Ling Qun came over to see if the food was ready.
Hua Boxue still had a cigarette in his mouth, and he said indistinctly, “Why are you in such a hurry?”
“After waking up at noon, I just ate a quick breakfast and rushed over. Now I’m so hungry that my chest is practically on my back,” Ling Qun said, touching his stomach. “Don’t drop the cigarette ashes when you smoke.”
Hua Boxue turned the cigarette in his hand, and muttered, “What are you afraid of with this little ash?”
Ling Qin also didn’t either care too much, and just said what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.
Hua Boxue held the cigarette between his fingers, and abruptly said, “Ling Qun, you’re too troublesome. Just because you haven’t eaten enough, you have the nerve to talk.”
Ling Qun wasn’t happy when he heard this, and pulling Lu Yang up, he said they’ll grill it themselves.
Hua Boxue didn’t argue with him. He stepped aside and said, “You and Lu Yang, you both grill your own food, and I eat Xiao Chuan’er’s.”
The other two people on the table also said, “Me too. I’ll eat whatever Xiao Chuan’er grills.”
Since Lu Yang’s grilling skills weren’t good, other people wanted to eat Xiao Chuan’er’s grilled kebabs. But Xiao Chuan’er still grilled for Lu Yang first.
Lu Yang stood between Chen Yuchuan and Ling Qun, and so Chen Yuchuan asked him to help pass the condiment bottle. After a while, Ling Qun left, leaving them alone.
Chen Yuchuan took the opportunity to ask again, “Why did you suddenly come to the teahouse today. Is it because of the messages I sent you?”
“I was just passing by,” Lu Yang replied as before.
Chen Yuchuan smiled, knowing that this time, he couldn’t fool around ineffectively like in the past. If he didn’t deal with it clearly, Lu Yang wouldn’t yield.
He didn’t ask anymore and continued to grill the skewers. Lu Yang didn’t eat spicy food, and so Chen Yuchuan grilled some non-spicy ones on a separate tray.
The kebabs hadn’t finished grilling yet, so alcohol was put out on the table. The original agreement was that there wouldn’t be any drinking. Now that there was alcohol on the table, it was impossible not to drink. However, although Lu Yang didn’t drink, the others made Chen Yuchuan drink a few glasses.
By the time the get-together was over, it was already past ten o’clock. Lu Yang left first, and Chen Yuchuan followed him out, just a small half-step behind.
Outside, it had stopped snowing, but there was still snow at the door of the courtyard, making a crunching sound with every step they took.
The wind blew Chen Yuchuan’s ears and nose a little red as he followed Lu Yang to his car.
“Why are you following me?” Lu Yang asked from the side of the car.
“Didn’t I tell you before? I have business with you.” Chen Yuchuan hadn’t pulled up the zipper of his coat. With his nose a little windblown, he stomped his feet and added, “It’s too cold. Open the door. I’ve been drinking and can’t drive. You’ll have to drive me.”
He thought it would take a while to convince Lu Yang, but Lu Yang quickly took out his key and unlocked the car.
After getting in the car, Lu Yang asked him, “What’s the matter?”
“Of course, it’s a serious matter. I sent you so many photos in the afternoon. You will help me choose a good one, right?”
Lu Yang gripped the steering wheel and said, “Chen Yuchuan, if you have nothing else to say, get out of the car.”
Chen Yuchuan fastened his seatbelt and leaned against the car. With a smile, he changed his words, “Yang ge, I’m just joking. The north wind is blowing outside and it’s too cold.”
Winter nights were the coldest, and even the street lights outside the car window cast a cold light. Lu Yang turned the heater on, stepped on the gas, and slowly drove away.
“I’ll go to your place,” Chen Yuchuan answered before Lu Yang could ask him.
When Lu Yang didn’t respond, Chen Yuchuan asked, “Is that convenient for you?”
Then, without waiting for Lu Yang to reply, he continued, “If it’s inconvenient, just leave me outside. The cold wind will sober me right up.”
But he didn’t expect that Lu Yang would actually move his car to the side of the road and step on the brake.
No longer messing around, Chen Yuchuan honestly said, “It’s so cold outside. There’s no one around, and you’ve already driven so far that it would be impossible for me to walk back. You definitely can’t chase me off your car.”
“Chen Yuchuan, what are you trying to do?” Lu Yang said, a little angrily.
Chen Yuchuan pinched the tip of his red nose, and this time, he was very serious when he said, “Yang ge, what I’ve told you on WeChat about working for several days straight is true. I didn’t lie to you. My sleep problem seems to be getting worse now. I just wanted to go to your place and have a good sleep, is that okay?”