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UPDATED 2021/02/05 - Added missing section at end.
After catching his son, year after year, Zhang Fu would be asked by his wife, relatives, friends, and neighbours, when his daughter-in-law would appear. By now he'd basically lost all face, and could no longer raise his head.
In the beginning, he was excited and spread the news himself. It wasn't just his friends and family, ever the villagers who came to pick him up, asked, "When will you have the wedding?"
In the end, his son never brought anyone home.
Qi Chun's eyes weren't as good as before, and she didn't use reading glasses. She sat cross-legged and pushed Zhang Fu, who was mending the clothes on her back, "What time is it?"
Zhang Fu looked up at the wall clock on the wall, "Ah, two...seven forty."
Qi Chun asked, "Is my son off work?"
Zhang Fu tied the thread in a knot and bit off the tail with his teeth, "Almost."
Qi Chun sat near the phone, "You call him."
When Lu Shenxing received the call, he was at a hot pot restaurant with Wu Yuan. The food had just been put in the pot, but before he could move his chopsticks the sound of his ringtone filled the air. The voice on the phone wasn't clear, so he gestured to Wu Yuan not to wait up, and stood up and walked outside.
Standing just outside the door, Lu Shenxing slipped one hand into his trouser pocket, and held his mobile phone with the other, "Dad."
"Yes." Zhang Fu asked, "Have you eaten?"
Lu Shenxing looked at the constantly flowing night market under the neon lights, and let out a chilly breath, "I'm eating now."
Zhang Fu and Qi Chun leaned in closer, "With whom?"
Lu Shenxing hooked his lips and said three words, "Daughter-in-law."
Zhang Fu spoke in a loud voice, "Give her the phone so she can talk to dad!"
Lu Shenxing turned his head and looked through the glass at the young man sitting at the table not moving his chopsticks, "He's shy."
Zhang Fu said, "No matter how shy you are, you still have to see your in-laws! Hasn't it been a few years now? Your family can only wait so long."
"Give the phone to me, let me talk to him." Qi Chun took the phone from Zhang Fu, "Hey boy, it's your mum. Bring her back for the Spring Festival. You aren't young anymore your age, you can't dawdle. If she runs away, you might not be able to find another."
"He won't run." Lu Shenxing smiled, "He loves me helplessly."
Qi Chun was stunned by her son's words, "Don't be shameless!"
"Isn't she young, there are a lot of temptations out there. How nice it is that anyone would be willing to be with you. How did I raise a son like this."
Lu Shenxing took his hand out of his pocket and pulled his hair, "It'll be fine."
After ending the call, Lu Shenxing sat down and said, "Why didn't you eat it? The tofu is about to rot."
Wu Yuan took a spoon and scooped the overcooked tofu into Lu Shenxing's bowl, "I'm not hungry."
Lu Shenxing blew, then took two bites, "I need to buy two tickets for the twenty-ninth."
"Two?" Wu Yuan immediately raised his eyes, "Who are you going with?"
Lu Shenxing raised his eyebrows, "I'm taking you home."
"Cough...cough cough..." Wu Yuan choked. He took out a tissue and wiped his mouth, the corners of his eyes were wet.
Lu Shenxing patted him on the back, unable to laugh or cry, "Don't get too excited before you see it."
Wu Yuan pursed his lips, "It's too sudden."
Was it? Lu Shenxing thought to himself, they had been together for eight or nine years now.
"You don't want to go home with me?"
"I want to, but..." After calming down, Wu Yuan's eyebrows were raised, "Can they accept it?"
Lu Shenxing's expression was indifferent, "I'll talk to them." He moved some meat into Wu Yuan's bowl, "Let's eat first."
Wu Yuan didn't have much heart to eat.
On the way back, he drove, "Sir, what kind of stuff do you want to buy? Do you know the clothes and shoes sizes for uncle and aunty?"
Lu Shenxing leaned back in his chair and smoked, "No idea."
Wu Yuan pressed his eyebrows and said softly, "It's not polite to come empty handed."
Lu Shenxing bit the cigarette butt and pondered, "Go to the supermarket and buy some health care products, and then bring the fruit we have at home."
Wu Yuan turned around and drove directly to Carrefour Supermarket.
Lu Shenxing was dragged around by him, a little helpless, "It's ten days before the twenty-eighth, why are you in such a hurry?"
Wu Yuan pushed the cart and looked around as he walked, "It's better to be prepared. Sometimes I have to go into surgery unexpectedly."
Wu Yuan chose what to buy while Lu Shenxing tucked his hands into his pockets and followed slowly behind him. He was responsible for shaking or nodding his head when asked for an opinion.
"There's apple flavor here." Lu Shenxing turned to the shelf on the left, "Take two boxes."
Wu Yuan quickly took two boxes, thought about it for a moment then took another.
He bought two woolen sweaters, one for men and one for women. The size was chosen by the sales assistant who estimated guessed based on their heights.
Wu Yuan bent down to adjust everything in the car to make sure there was nothing left out.
Lu Shenxing was leaning on the shopping cart, his eyes scanning over Wu Yuan's butt. His eyes darkened, "Okay, we're done."
On the way back, Lu Shenxing suddenly said, with a hoarse voice, "Wu Yuan, stop up ahead."
The car stopped on the side of the road, Lu Shenxing unfastened his seat belt and pulled Wu Yuan sideways, kissing him violently.
Wu Yuan hugged Lu Shenxing's head, his neck leaned back, and he endured the violent wind and waves.
During the Spring Festival, Lu Shenxing took Wu Yuan home. Zhang Dafu looked at Wu Yuan for a good long time, and felt that he looked a bit familiar.
"Son, follow me into the house!"
Lu Shenxing took the cigarette dangling from his mouth in his hand, patted Wu Yuan on the shoulder, and stepped forwards to follow Zhang Dafu.
After closing the door, Zhang Dafu lowered his voice, "Didn't you say you’d bring my daughter-in-law back?" Why did you bring that student back? After so long, the tall boy had become more beautiful and I almost couldn't recognize him.
Lu Shenxing's words sounded surprised, "You just saw her."
"..." Zhang Dafu was agitated and couldn’t speak for a while. He stared at Lu Shenxing.
"Dad, he can't live without me." Lu Shenxing took a drag of his cigarette. Then after a moment, he smiled and said, somewhat unwillingly and helplessly, "I can't live without him."
Hearing his words, Zhang Dafu thought he could faint with anger, but he stood his ground. He smashed his teacup on the ground and the chickens and ducks in the yard were shocked.
Qi Chun, who was just returning home, rushed back and was also shocked. She looked at the young man in the living room and said, "You are?"
The anxious Wu Yuan heard a voice behind him and he paused before turning around, with a small smile on his lips, "Auntie, I’m a student of Mr. Zhang."
Qi Chun looked him up and down, "Sit down, sit down." She asked kindly, "What’s your name?"
Wu Yuan was neither humble nor overbearing, "My name is Wu Yuan."
Wu Yuan? Qi Chun wondered, "Where are you from?" It was odd for him to bring a student back for New Year's Eve.
Before Wu Yuan could speak, there was a roar from the room, "Da Chun, you come in!"
"Sit down for a while." Qi Chun brought the tea to Wu Yuan, then got up and entered the room.
In the living room Wu Yuan was restless. He gnawed at the corners of his mouth, not knowing what was happening in the other room.
More than an hour later, Qi Chun came out of the room with red eyes and a bad complexion. She glanced at Wu Yuan and then left without saying a word, walking towards the kitchen.
Wu Yuan's hand on his lap tightened imperceptibly.
Then Zhang Dafu appeared in front of Wu Yuan. He sighed and went out with his hands behind his back.
Wu Yuan closed his eyes and walked into the other room. When he saw the man kneeling on the ground, his pupils shrank slightly and he ran over, at a loss.
“Sir, are you okay?"
Lu Shenxing looked uncomfortable, "Knees hurt."
Wu Yuan rolled up Lu Shenxing's trouser legs and saw that his knees were quite green. He didn't know how long he had been kneeling. His lips trembled and his eyes were red.
Lu Shengxing, who was suffering, comforted Wu Yuan, "It’s okay, I’ll be fine in two days."
Wu Yuan pursed his lips, "Your parents... are they the same?"
Lu Shenxing rubbed the top of his hair, "Yes."
The atmosphere was rather awkward during the New Year's Eve dinner. The daughter-in-law was a man, the facts couldn’t be ignored. Zhang Dafu and Qi Chun had only just gotten over their anger, it would be difficult for them to accept it for a while.
Those who were celebrating the New Year weren’t inclined to lose their temper, but they felt unlucky.
Lu Shenxing picked up his cup, "Dad, cheers."
Zhang Dafu snorted. He twisted his mouth as the fire burned in his chest.
Wu Yuan lowered his head to eat the food, but he couldn't taste it. There was a piece of lean meat in his bowl, and he didn't look up. He had made some preparations when he’d started on this path.
Normally people would be receiving blessings.
Come on, that's gratitude.
After the meal, Zhang Dafu discussed with Qi Chun how to deal with Wu Yuan and where he would sleep. It was so late and if he sent the boy to his relatives he would have to explain. He only had two bedrooms at home and he never thought that his daughter-in-law would be a man.
He wanted to avoid the scene of two men lying on a bed.
Lu Shenxing walked over, "He’ll sleep with me."
Seeing her shameless son, Qi Chun knew that something must have already happened a long time ago, and she grabbed her feather duster angrily.
Wu Yuan rushed up to block her, and the duster slammed the back of his hand firmly.
"You kid... how can you take my duster."
Qi Chun wiped her eyes. Forget it, her child was already old and he could no longer look back.
In the evening, Wu Yuan fetched water to boil. He sat on a small stool and stared at the fire in a daze. When the water boiled, he carried the bucket into the house and told Lu Shenxing to wash his feet.
Standing in the corner, Zhang Dafu and Qi Chun watched the kid take good care of their son.
How well-behaved and sensible, so much better than Shuzhen, a doctor too, but a pity...
The best of both worlds would never be realised.
When sleeping, Wu Yuan suggested he get to know them alone for a few more days, "Sir, I’ll accompany them."
He would show his gratitude to the two elders.
Lu Shenxing stroked Wu Yuan's face, "Okay."
In the next few days, Wu Yuan took Zhang Dafu and Qi Chun to the hospital for physical examinations, and also took them out, slowly getting along with them better.
In this way, they could definitely feel his sincerity.
On the eighth day of the new year Wang Hui and Lin Lin got married, Lu Shenxing went by himself and gave a big red envelope with blessings from Wu Yuan.
Wu Yuan returned on a sunny day, it was still in the peak of the holiday period.
Lu Shenxing, who had been waiting at the airport a long time ago, stood in the crowded group with a smile at the corner of his mouth, and opened his arms.
Wu Yuan dragged his luggage and walked over, staring at Lu Shenxing for a moment. His handsome face was stained with wind and dust, and his clothes were breezy. He walked faster until he fell into the embrace of familiar bones.
In the tide of people, Lu Shenxing stuck to Wu Yuan's ear, "I love you."
Wu Yuan was shocked and was at a loss for a long time. He closed his eyes and rubbed his face against Lu Shenxing's neck, a little hot and damp.