The third time they met wasn’t far off. When Dong Zheng, dressed in a suit and tie, walked into the R&D department accompanied by the director, Cui Zuojing almost choked on his saliva. As he stared in disbelief at the man who was chatting and eating at a table with him not long ago, he began to suspect that he had overworked and was now having eye problems.
“Who is this?” the colleague next to him asked in a whisper.
“It seems to be the younger boss, Mr. Dong’s son,” an older colleague replied.
Cui Zuojing silently swallowed, utterly shocked. He held the mouse and clicked twice on the engineering graphic on the screen.
Having suddenly met Dong Zheng at work, he felt a bit awkward. The other party was more extraordinary than he thought. As far as he knew, the company boss, Dong Yi, had seven listed companies under him. Someone with so many holdings was a well-deserved rich man.
He didn’t expect that Dong Zheng was related to him. No wonder Dong Zheng knew so much when he said he was working here.
As he was thinking this, a shadow suddenly fell over him, and he looked up blankly. Dong Zheng propped one arm in the railing of his workstation, lowered his head, and smiled at him. “What a coincidence. We meet again.”
“Yes, a coincidence, but accidents made by humans are not really a coincidence, ah.” Dong Zheng’s work card swayed from where it hung around his neck, and Cui Zuojing saw that the words “Financial Advisor” were written on it.
Dong Zheng couldn’t comment. He glanced at Cui Zuojing’s computer screen and said, “Want to go for a drink tonight?”
“Tonight?” Cui Zuojing actually didn’t want to agree. After finishing the eight-hour work day, the only thing he wanted to do was go home, take a shower, lie in bed, and watch a movie or play games. But facing Dong Zheng, he seemed to have completely lost the ability to reject him. “Sure, I have nothing planned anyway.”
“That’s good.” Dong Zheng tucked his hands into his pockets. “We’ll talk later.”
Cui Zuojing nodded. Dong Zheng smiled and turned to talk to the supervisor.
Cui Zuojing turned his face back and listened to Dong Zheng’s voice drifting away. He continued to stare at the graphic and deleted the parts he had just added.
….It turned out that he came here because of his job.
In short, Dong Zheng always found a suitable opportunity to ask Cui Zuojing out, and Cui Zuojing didn’t refuse. So back and forth, the two very quickly became close friends, or even better than close friends.
In this way, half a year passed. In the gradual process of getting along, both Cui Zuojing and Dong Zheng were surprised to find that they knew each other better than expected.
They knew the food the other loved, their favorite color, the size of their clothes, and they also had a surprisingly tacit understanding when it came to many things.
It was to the extent that the special feeling Dong Zheng felt when he first met Cui Zuojing evolved into a longing that entangled him all the time. Yes, he wanted to be more than friends with Cui Zuojing. He wanted to know the other person more intimately. He wanted to taste the other’s lips, to see if they were as soft as they looked. He wanted those eyes to only see his reflections.
At the beginning, he was patient. Dong Zheng always felt that he was a deep-minded person. But later, every time he walked with Cui Zuojing, when he heard the young man’s voice close at hand, when he saw those smiling eyebrows that were always so happy, Dong Zheng found that every second became a kind of sweet torture.
On the 198th day of their acquaintance, they came out of a bar and found that it was raining outside. They had to hide under the eaves and wait for a while. It had already entered winter. Cui Zuojing put his hands in his pockets and looked at the flashing neon signs on the opposite side. The music from the bar sounded faintly behind them, and the sound mixed with the pattering of rain. It felt as if they were standing at the intersection of two different worlds: the cold and humid reality in front of them, and the carnival indulgence behind them.
“Are you heading back to the company?” Cui Zuojing asked.
Dong Zheng answered, “Mmn, there are still some unfinished business. I have to go back and work overtime.”
Cui Zuojing sighed. “You work too hard. You’re a boss, why do you have to work like this?”
“If I don’t work like this as a boss, there’s no way to set a good example for the employees.” Dong Zheng laughed and added, “When I reach the level of my father, I won’t have to work so hard.”
“Don’t stay up too late. The body is the most important.”
They fell silent for a moment. Dong Zheng turned his head and looked at him. Cui Zuojing’s profile was awashed with psychedelic colors from the neon lights. His head was slightly raised to look at the sky. The rain was falling continuously, hitting puddles and creating circles of ripples.
Under the stimulation of alcohol, the heart in his chest was beating violently as never before, so that Dong Zheng felt that it was a bit difficult to breathe.
[The youth was drenched all over. His lips were cold and slightly pale, but his cheeks were flushed crimson after vigorous movements. A drop of water slipped from his eyelashes and hit Dong Zheng’s chest, where it turned into a light blue glass bead and rolled onto the floor.]
Cui Zuojing lightly hummed, “Mmn?”
Then he turned to look at him.
“There’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you for a long time.” This was a gamble. If he was rejected, they might not even be able to be friends anymore.
The chips were too expensive for Dong Zheng to accept, but if he didn’t gamble, he would have to continue enduring.
“Have you ever thought about…making some changes in our relationship?”
Facing Cui Zuojing’s puzzled eyes, Dong Zheng paused. Those words rushed out of his mouth, as if it wasn’t difficult for him to say at all. He stared into Cui Zuojing’s eyes and said in a low voice, “I like you.”
[“To kiss you. This is the reward I want.”
“Are you kidding?”
“I’m not kidding. I like you, that like kind of like. From now on, can I call you Ah’Zuo?”]
Cui Zuojing’s eyes widened slightly, betraying his true feelings. After that flash of surprise, his expression quickly calmed down. In the next moment, a smile spread across the corners of his eyes and the tips of his brows.
“I’ve noticed it a long time ago. You hide it badly,” he said softly. “Fortunately, I like you too.”
[When did he like him?
Was it that time on the snow-covered cliff, when the man knelt in front of him, his raging tears melting the snow and ice that was mixed with Allen’s blood, and hoarsely said that he had lost Allen. The man’s tears fell on his fingertips and almost burned him.
Or was it when he was trapped in that room filling with water and was about to drown, and that man gave refreshing balm to his mental torture?
Or was it earlier?]
This was the answer that Dong Zheng had thought about countless times but dared not hope for. Cui Zuojing’s answer made reality seem like an unrealistic dream. Four years had passed and he no longer felt the lingering shadows of the green hat that the other party left behind. But there was his different orientation and long-term busy work schedule. Although he longed for the “other people’s romance” that was shown on the TV screen, he never thought that one day, he would be favored by Cupid.
Cui Zuojing raised his eyebrows. His eyes were still as radiant as when they first met. “Shouldn’t you be doing something?”
Dong Zheng grinned, then he cupped Cui Zuojing’s face, lowered his head, and kissed him. He finally touched those lips that he had thought about countless times, and they were as soft as he’d imagined.
[The entanglements between their lips and tongues carried a feeling that he’d never tasted before, fragrant as wine, and Dong Zheng knew that this was the feeling Cui Zuojing lost and recovered. This was no longer a simple response to satisfy him, but an agreed intimacy just between the two of them.
He wrapped his arms around Cui Zuojing’s back and slid his hands down to hold his waist. This action had nothing to do with lust; he just wanted to hold him tightly in his arms and never let go.]
That sense of unreality came again, but this time, it was so strong that Cui Zuojing couldn’t ignore it. Suddenly, another scene flashed before him, but when he tried to look at it carefully, it disappeared without a trace.
Cui Zuojing raised his hands and hugged Dong Zheng tightly. It felt as if this was an illusory world and only the man’s back and the temperature of his arms grounded him.
The rain was still falling, waiting to submerge the world.