Chapter 267: A state that should be rebuked
After washing the dishes, his hands were soaked in the dishwater as sunlight shone on his face.
This sort of setting was very well suited for self-reflection.
Guilt and unease as well as his worries regarding Lu Zhixin’s physical condition combined made Xu Tingsheng seem completely like a homemaker uncle that afternoon.
He wore light linen pyjamas and slippers, remaining beneath the sunlight that filtered in through the window as he swept and tidied up the entire house at his own unhurried pace, leaving no corner unturned throughout the rooms, living room, the balcony as well as below the sofa.
Another thing he did was wash all Lu Zhixin’s dirty clothes, including those she had brought back from Hong Kong. At the end of it, her clothes were hung up to cover the entire balcony.
Xu Tingsheng felt somewhat of a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps he could regain that feel of warmth and stability with this, not looking like such a beast at the very least.
In the end, as Lu Zhixin reached home and saw the clothes hung up to dry on the balcony, she felt even more that Xu Tingsheng was actually very much a beast. She had been at her coldest and most impassive that entire day. Even when she had to talk to Xu Tingsheng, she would still maintain that most impassive tone without question.
After dinner, Lu Zhixin went straight into her room to sleep. She was actually still suffering from a low fever, having yet to make a full recovery.
A little after 11pm, Lu Zhixin awoke from her nap and left her room. She saw that Xu Tingsheng was still sitting on the living room sofa, not watching television and also not sleeping.
“Why haven’t you returned to your dorm?” Lu Zhixin coldly questioned Xu Tingsheng.
“You haven’t fully recovered yet. You forgot to eat your medicine. Also, I’m afraid that you might burn up again in the middle of the night. If I weren’t here, I wouldn’t be able to take care of you,” Xu Tingsheng gingerly explained.
Lu Zhixin did not speak. She went to take a bath, after which she saw that Xu Tingsheng had already placed warm water and her medication on the coffee table. Not uttering a sound, she picked them up, ingested her medication, and strode straight back into her room just like that.
Then, Xu Tingsheng repeatedly heard her door being locked and double-checked continuously.
“I’ll be sleeping right next door. Call me if your fever gets worse. I’ll send you to the hospital,” Xu Tingsheng said towards the closed door before returning to his room and turning on his computer.
He had received an email from Cen Xiyu.
She said that she really looked forward to meeting that girlfriend of Zhang Ninglang’s. After she had returned, she would definitely treat them to a meal.
As Xu Tingsheng was about to send her a reply, a new mail notification popped up on the screen.
This was the first email sent by Cen Xiyu that had photos attached. In these photos, she wore sports attire, stretching her legs in some and resting in some. She was running in the greater part of them.
“Xu Tingsheng, do you know what the most blissful thing you left for me over those two months in the riverside residence was? You definitely won’t be able to guess, because even I didn’t know it myself at first. It’s running, actually.
After arriving here, with you not by my side, only then did I discover that what I miss most everyday is how you would go running with me every single morning those two months.
Because of that, I run every day, and think of you as I’m running.
Have you seen the photos?
This is New York’s Central Park. It’s very big and very beautiful, and a famed holy land for running worldwide. There are many people running here everyday, those who live here, tourists, and even those who specifically travelled here just to run.”
There are often some mini-competitions held here. You definitely won’t believe me, but I just finished participating in an eight mile competition. I managed to complete it.
I can actually run for even longer.
There was once when I ran alone for over an hour, or maybe it was two hours. I used that time to think back on all the memories shared between us.
It was dark when I started running that day. Afterwards, a very beautiful sun appeared, and then there was a huge downpour. Next the skies cleared again, my clothes drying as I ran and ran. I felt very happy, and I didn’t want to stop.
Look, how similar this is to my past experiences. Meeting you and falling in love with you is ultimately still that most blissful thing in my life. I don’t wanna stop. You know that? Xu Tingsheng.
I’ve come to meet a group of people who’re very passionate about running. They come from all over the world, of various shades of skin and various ages, old people and young children included.
They are a bunch of very interesting and lovable people. I think that maybe because running is intrinsically less interesting as compared to other sports, people who love running are generally more interesting and full of passion.
I think that the same should apply for me as well.
I plan to sign up for a half-marathon next month.
I plan to go to more places to run in the future.
Still, my most important plan is running together with you, in New York’s Central Park, in the streets of Boston. Or perhaps we could go to the beaches of Seychelles, or Australia’s Gold Coast.
Come see me, Xu Tingsheng.”
Xu Tingsheng was feeling happy and reassured at Apple’s current condition. Just like she said, that was precisely the way she should be, interesting and full of passion.
Still, wait a second. Did she just say that she was going to be participating in a half-marathon?
Xu Tingsheng thought for a moment before sending over a reply, “I will come. But eight miles and a half-marathon, you say? I don’t believe you.”
A few minutes later, Cen Xiyu replied, “You still haven’t slept yet? Why don’t you believe me?”
Xu Tingsheng replied, “If your breasts are too big, won’t they get in the way of your running?”
This was one advantage of email. Even though it was transmitted instantaneously, it was still not as swift as phone calls, text messages or other communication mediums. Had the two of them been conversing on QQ, Cen Xiyu would probably have instinctively replied with a couple of angry or embarrassed emoticons already.
However, emails provided one some space to think.
This time, Xu Tingsheng had to wait nearly twenty minutes for a reply.
She said, “There’s sports innerwear, stupid. Cover them tightly to keep them from wobbling and everything’s fine.”
There were two photos attached to the email. In the first, Cen Xiyu was in her sports attire, covered up thoroughly apart from her long legs. The second showed the red sports singlet which remained after her upper outer garment had been removed.
She had typed, “See? Actually, many girls here just run in these singlets, even old women. There’s only me who’s an exception. I’m afraid you’d be jealous.”
Xu Tingsheng replied, “Well done. But I would like to see the third photo. Please continue.”
Cen Xiyu replied, “I’ll let you see when you’re here…right, you can look however you want then. Still, I’m going to participate in a country folk party with some friends now. I’ve gotta go! I’ll be waiting for you. Right, Student Xu Tingsheng, there are exchange students and foreigners coming over to confess to me like every single day over here. Well, do as you see fit.”
Xu Tingsheng hurriedly replied, “Confessions? Any British royalty? Like a baron or something.”
Fortunately, Cen Xiyu had still yet to leave as she replied, “Not for the moment, it seems. What, you nervous? Get to it then! Anyway, I’ve really got to go now. Take care of yourself. Goodbye!”
Xu Tingsheng could only reply, “Okay.”
Next, he shut down his computer. Sitting there, he thought about the current Apple, Cen Xiyu.
Xu Tingsheng knew that she was learning the guitar, running, getting confessed to, attending jazz parties cheerfully and enthusiastically as she sang and danced, wearing a plain, simple skirt on the small stage of a country folk party as she peacefully sung a warm, gentle song…
Thinking of all this, a smile unconsciously appeared on Xu Tingsheng’s face.
Sometimes, one need only acquire a happy, flourishing state to bring an ease of mind and happiness to those they interact with and who care about them. The current Cen Xiyu still had Apple’s ‘demonic nature’, yet was slowly becoming different…this was because the way she saw herself and her way of living had already changed.
She was filled with enthusiasm towards life and herself.
Xu Tingsheng fell asleep with warmth in his heart.
At around 2 or 3am in the morning, a body lightly climbed into his embrace.
Startled awake, Xu Tingsheng had just been about to ask her what was up.
Lu Zhixin said, “I’m not feverish. Don’t you speak. You can’t speak. End of story. Move back to your dormitory tomorrow. Alright, don’t you speak anymore. I’m exhausted.”
Then, she reached out to hold him, leaning against his chest as she quickly fell asleep.
Xu Tingsheng believed that Lu Zhixin’s intentions weren’t anything to wonder about. That night as well as the previous, she needed some warmth and comfort in a bout of rare neediness that had descended upon her.
As she was Lu Zhixin, this really was a rare thing. Thus, this state of hers should be shaken off very soon.
The Cen Xiyu and Lu Zhixin whom he had seen that day were both in a different state than they were usually.
Xu Tingsheng did not fall back asleep so quickly. Currently, these past few days, he seemed to have been in a state that should be rebuked.
He had acted wrongly, yet it could also not be said that he had been completely in the wrong.
If he were able to push Lu Zhixin aside right now, he might not still remain the Xu Tingsheng who had won Apple by warmly carrying her on his back back then. He might also not be the warm Uncle whom Xiang Ning had fallen in love with in his previous life, because of whom their entanglements of love had lasted for so long, she having waited painfully for so long afterwards.
This was an unsolvable paradox, a conflict that could not be avoided.
Xu Tingsheng thought about the current Xiang Ning. Whenever he saw her, he would be unable to repress himself. When he could not see her, he would know that he had to repress himself. It had always been like this thus far, at the very least.
Ever since his rebirth, Xu Tingsheng seemed to have been walking further and further away from his former self.
When Lu Zhixin awoke the next morning, she found Xu Tingsheng just staring right at the ceiling. His teeth were bared, yet he dared not move even a single inch. She crawled up, shooting him an inquiring gaze.
Xu Tingsheng pointed at a half of his body, saying with great difficulty, “Numb, hurts. It’s like it’s gonna be permanently damaged.”
Lu Zhixin finally laughed a little, but quickly put on a stern face again as she said, “I’m already fine now. You need to return to your dormitory to stay today. No, I mean immediately. Go right after you bathe.”
Xu Tingsheng shamelessly joked, “Alright, but can you first pay me the expenses for the night?”
Lu Zhixin strode right out of the door, stern and unspeaking as though all this had nothing to do with her at all.
After bathing, Xu Tingsheng left.
Before closing the door, he said to Lu Zhixin who was sitting in the living room, “I know that your family has probably met with some kind of problem. Never mind if you can’t tell me about it, rest for a couple of days. Go out for a walk or just peacefully live as a normal university student for a while; that’s all fine.”
Looking at him, Lu Zhixin nodded, “Yeah.”
Xu Tingsheng closed the door.
“Xu Tingsheng,” Lu Zhixin asked through the door, “If I converted our relationship into money or conditions one day, would you feel a sense of release? Or would you actually be hurt by it too?”
This question had really come out of nowhere. Xu Tingsheng wanted to open the door and ask about it in greater detail, yet realised that it was being blocked by Lu Zhixin on the other side.
“Just answer me like this,” She said.
Xu Tingsheng considered this in silence for a while before finally replying, “I don’t know. Perhaps there’d be some of both.”