“Xiao Ran, how about we chat about your friend?”
Lin Anran was ready.
While sitting in the familiar sofa chair, he took a deep breath and nodded to Dr. Zhou.
“You don’t need to restrain yourself; we can talk freely,” Dr. Zhou said in a calm and kind voice. Then she asked, “Where do you want to start?”
As expected, there was only silence. So she continued, “Let me think. You two get along well, maybe you both have the same hobbies. What does he like?”
Lin Anran heard her, and it was like some kind of signal transmission. He thought to himself, here it comes.
When it came to this, he was fortunate enough to come prepared.
He thought about last night, when he’d deliberately taken out a notebook and a pen, thickened his skin, and asked Shang Hao questions all night. It could be said that he’d done his homework in advance.
This allowed Lin Anran to sit across from Teacher Zhou and smoothly reply, “He knows horsemanship and how to play musical instruments.”
In fact, Shang Hao’s initial response was “Ranran.” Therefore, Lin Anran had no choice but to open up Baidu, and only then did Shang Hao answer his questions seriously.
“He seems to be a very good person,” Teacher Zhou said. She noticed that Lin Anran’s answers were quite smooth, and tentatively asked the next question, “Can you tell me his name?”
Lin Anran’s eyes were fixed on the safe position of his knees. Dr. Zhou noticed that he took another deep breath, before he finally said the name, “…Shang Hao.”
The name was a bit familiar, so she mentally repeated it and paid attention to it.
Today’s dialogue went too smoothly.
Lin Anran answered very smoothly every time. Whether it was his friend’s birthday, constellation sign, height, and even blood type, he answered them all clearly, with very few hesitations.
Without them realizing it, their questions and answer session got deeper. Teacher Zhou asked, “Your friend lives with you. Does he currently have a girlfriend?”
It was this question that caused Lin Anran to finally hesitate.
Does he have a girlfriend…
He finally replied, “No.”
“This may be a bit presumptuous,” Dr. Zhou said slowly, “so you can choose not to answer this question. But I am a little curious. Is this the person you’re dating?”
Dr. Zhou also felt that this question was a bit abrupt, but she still waited for an answer. Lin Anran faced her and said frankly, “Yes.”
His slow speech quickened as he continued firmly, “We are dating.”
Dr. Zhou felt that today’s question and answer session went too smoothly.
“So that’s it…” She quickly tried to think of another subject.
But after saying this, Lin Anran finally moved his gaze away from his knees. He looked up at Dr. Zhou and took the initiative to say, “I have a picture of him.”
He was a person who couldn’t sense the atmosphere when speaking to other people. He didn’t know that after such an abrupt remark from a reticent person like himself, the original atmosphere suddenly turned more formal and solemn.
This time, the person who paused for time was Dr. Zhou. This progress was beyond her expectations. She truly didn’t expect that Lin Anran would actually take out his phone to show her a photo.
“If you don’t mind?” She immediately became serious and, after putting down her notebook, she looked at the photo.
The screen of Lin Anran’s mobile phone showed a photo, but the photo was that of a drawing.
It was a portrait sketch, and seemed to have been drawn by Lin Anran himself. It undoubtedly displayed a man with outstanding looks and temperament.
“This person is…”
Seeing that face, Dr. Zhou was taken aback. She now knew why she felt that the name was familiar.
“Is that Shang Hao from Tianneng Group?”
“It’s him,” Lin Anran said.
She calmly retracted her gaze, looked back at Lin Anran, and observed his expression.
Xiao Ran was now holding a photo, saying that the rich, powerful, and well-known Shang Hao in the picture was his boyfriend. This child was restrained, sensitive, and soft, but didn’t cower.
Dr. Zhou smiled and said, “He really is a very good person. I’m happy for you, Xian Ran.”
Lin Anran took back the phone and said thank you in a low voice.
When Lin Anran sat in this position last time, she had mentioned that “friend” and he promptly avoided talking about it.
Now, a few days later, he even had a photo and it was of a drawing he’d done himself.
Dr. Zhou saw that Lin Anran seemed to be accepting of this topic, so she continued the conversation and asked, “I remember, you said you met each other at your house?”
After meeting Teacher Zhou’s glance, Lin Anran withdrew his gaze and looked down at his lap again. From just a moment ago to now, he’d been tense, and the hand holding his phone clenched silently.
Lin Anran corrected her in a low voice, “It’s downstairs from my house.”
“Are you willing to talk about it?”
At this moment, Lin Anran strongly felt that this one and a half hour wasn’t so very long.
When Shang Hao suddenly appeared in Lin Anran’s life, it was only about a month ago.
The reason he even knew about Shang Hao was because he’d accidentally saw his picture in his news feed. The report was about a successful entrepreneur returning to his alma mater to donate a library building.
It was the picture that attracted his attention, causing Lin Anran to stop at the interface of his phone and click on the report for a closer look.
Generally speaking, the pictures taken for these types of news were very flat and realistic. Therefore, the portraits taken would be more real and not as flattering. But in the line of people, the tallest man dressed in a suit had a face that would draw attention at a glance.
This was the entrepreneur who’d donated a building. Lin Anran didn’t read the report and just looked at the picture.
Although this person was very good-looking, Lin Anran wasn’t the kind of person to be taken in by a handsome face.
Lin Anran pondered why his behavior was different this time and could only attribute it to his professionalism and artistic integrity. He thought that he would gain a little bit more experience by drawing this excellent appearance.
Yes, this should be it.
At noon, he also dreamed of this person.
That face appeared in his dream. He dreamed that there was a table between himself and this entrepreneur, and they were in a classroom together.
The light of the setting sun was golden red, casting a layer of illusory light on this person’s face, so that the tips of the young man’s hair and the corners of his eyes emitted an orange light.
The man was very tall, and Lin Anran could see his own face reflected in that pair of dark eyes that were silently looking down at him,
When Lin Anran woke up, he sat in bed for a while, dazed.
Based on his poor social experience, he couldn’t analyze this matter. Maybe, there was something special about this person.
But the dream was a mystery. He once saw a female who hosted the weather forecast in his dreams, so it shouldn’t be a rare thing to dream of a person. This was what Lin Anran told himself.
Because, he was still very clear about his mediocre life experience, and he’d never experienced such things as amnesia. The fact was that he was certain this Shang Hao wasn’t one of his old classmates.
What a bizarre dream.
That evening, the water in the neighborhood was turned off. Lin Anran slowly made his way downstairs to the neighborhood supermarket to purchase water. That day, he not only saw this person in his dream but also in reality.
In person, he looked exactly the same as in that news photo. He was very tall and very good-looking.
He was also looking at Lin Anran.
And he was smiling at Lin Anran.
Lin Anran couldn’t recall the specific details. At that time, he was too confused. He didn’t know why this outstanding person was showing him such extraordinary gentleness and friendliness and such surreal kindness and tolerance. And Lin Anran, the freak, also got along exceedingly well with him.
He even took the water from Lin Anran’s hands and helped him carry it upstairs.
Lin Anran’s ways of socializing with people were still as stiff and awkward as ever, but this person that suddenly appeared always unilaterally maintained a harmonious atmosphere with him.
It seemed as if he was born to like Lin Anran this much.
And at that time, Lin Anran wasn’t quite right either.
Perhaps, he also had a vague, inexplicable feeling in his heart. The reason this interpersonal relationship went so smoothly from beginning to end, unimpeded, was because this person felt…very safe.
At first, Lin Anran felt nervous and embarrassed, but then he slowly stopped feeling this way. Even if he was silent all the time, in the eyes of the other person, he was still very cute.
“You’re very good-looking,” Lin Anran said at the time. And then he asked, like a kid still in kindergarten, “Can we be friends?”
Needless to say, his social skills were completely at the level of children.
Lin Anran shouldn’t have wanted to become friends, but this person felt very different to him.
So they really did become friends. When they met, there were no twists, no turns, no misunderstandings. They were like two magnetic poles that were naturally attracted to each other. Even fairy tales nowadays would not be written this way.
If this was a dream, even if it turned into a nightmare, it would still be a good dream. Even if he later woke up, something was better than nothing.
That person appeared again the next day.
Then the third day and the fourth day…As Lin Anran and his acquaintance deepened, the Shang Hao that Lin Anran knew slowly changed from a 2-D person into a 3-D person. At the beginning, he was gentle, friendly, and easy to talk to, but gradually, the nasty factor of arrogance also began to show up.
But what hadn’t changed was his affection for Ranran.
Teacher Zhou’s voice asked him, “So you asked him if you both could be friends, did I get that right?”
Lin Anran silently nodded.
“You really became good friends later,” Teacher Zhou said, then she lowered her head and began to write something in her notebook.
Lin Anran didn’t speak. His gaze had moved away from that fixed and safe position, but his head was still lowered and his entire person was motionless.
After telling this story, the fragile courage in him felt even more hollowed out. His figure was like a balloon that was running out of air and was about to collapse.
He wanted to cry.
He’d messed up again. This made him feel really bad. He had tasted this kind of painful sense of defeat so many times in his life, but this time, it felt especially strong. He really was different from other people.
He’d done his homework, had tried to resist, but he still felt like he had nowhere to hide in front of “normal people.” Dr. Zhou had respected him very much; it was him who felt like a freak covered in human skin.
Only the faint rustle of pen and paper remained in the consultation room.
Dr. Zhou quickly wrote a few sentences on the paper, and when she raised her head again, she suddenly heard Lin Anran spoke.
“…I’m sorry,” he said in frustration.
“No need to apologize,” she said softly. “You did very well today. Are you feeling okay now?”
Lin Anran said yes. But he didn’t look at Dr. Zhou again.
After finishing today’s psychiatric consultation, Dr. Zhou sent Lin Anran out. When she returned, she looked at the contents she’d recorded in her notebook. Then she sat back in front of the computer and typed Shang Hao’s name into the search bar.
Originally, it seemed that Xiao Ran was willing to open himself to the outside world for the first time. This was good progress. But the actual situation was quite the opposite. Xiao Ran was instead increasing the distance between himself and the outside world.
He seemed to find the outside world threatening, and so he took tougher protective measures by taking a romantic partner.
Previously, Dr. Zhou had guessed that Xiao Ran’s relationship with that friend wasn’t normal, and Lin Huiyan had also confirmed that Xiao Ran was the only person living at his house.
Dr. Zhou looked at the computer screen thoughtfully.
There had been such cases before. There were people who admired a movie star and believed that they were in a relationship with this person they’d never met before. They believed that the other person loved them deeply, and that the person’s every move on screen revealed his feelings and admiration for them.
The main symptom of the syndrome was that the patient had the illusion of secretly being in a relationship with the object of their admiration, who was typically someone with a higher social status.
Of course, these were only her own personal conjectures, and she could not conclude for certain that this was the case for Lin Anran.
But she was worried. Such patients usually ended up engaging in bad behaviors, such as stalking, peeping, making threats, and so on.
Now she had a question. Xiao Ran usually stayed at home, so where did he go when he didn’t come for their session last week?