“Can you tell me the way to Chen Lin Ji?” Chris surprised the girl when he spoke standard Chinese. The girl who was frightened by his sudden move looked up at his beautiful blue eyes and was shocked.
“…You…what are you doing at Chen Lin Ji?” Girls were easily shy, especially in the face of a handsome boy like Chris.
“To find my friend.”
“I’ll take you there. My name is Chen Manman. Chen Lin Ji is opened by my father and Uncle Lin in partnership.” The girl got off her bicycle and pushed it forward. “You can see Chen Lin Ji by passing the signboard of the Shanghai woman.”
When they reached the downstairs restaurant, they found that it was full of guests. Now was also dinner time. The whole restaurant was packed.
Mother Lin was by the cash register. She heard Manman’s voice and raised her head. When she saw Chris behind Manman, she couldn’t help standing there stunned and even paused in the middle of counting bills.
Chris stepped forward, “Auntie, I’m looking for Yifei.”
“Oh…oh…” Two seconds later, they heard Lin mother yelling out, “Xiao Fei – Quickly come out! Chris is here!”
Lin Yifei, who was helping to wash the dishes at the back, didn’t hear clearly and shouted vaguely, “I’ll be out when I’m done!”
Mother Lin stamped her foot. “I’m talking about your good friend in New York! Chris!”
A second later, they heard the sound of plates falling. Lin Yifei rushed out wearing a waterproof apron. When he saw the young man who was already very tall and straight, he didn’t know what to do.
Mother Lin closed the cash box and rushed in. “My little ancestor, did you drop all my plates?”
Lin Yifei looked ridiculous. Both of his hands were wet and covered in waterproof gloves. He wore plastic oversize shoes. The waterproof apron was still dripping. He wanted to come forward but was at a loss.
How unbelievable! He always thought that Chris would not appear in front of him unless he went to find him.
Chris didn’t speak. He just took two or three steps forward and hugged Lin Yifei. His bone felt weak. Even his breathing stopped.
Am I dreaming? Lin Yifei asked himself.
“Am I dreaming?” Chris’s cool voice rang in Lin Yifei’s ear.
The whole restaurant was bustling with people who occasionally looked at them.
Lin Yifei spread out his hands to hug him and couldn’t return to absolute being.
At this point, mother Lin came out from the inside and pulled the two apart.
“Go, go, go! You two go up and talk! I’ll ask the chef to cook something delicious for you! Don’t hold it here. Xiao Fei. Look, you’ve soiled Chris’s cloth!”
Only then did Lin Yifei react. He struggled to leave Chris’s arms then took off his work cloth. “Thank you, Mom!”
He took Chris’s hand and stomped upstairs.
Back to his room, he closed the door. Lin Yifei gasped for breath while looking at Chris, who was half a head taller than himself. He suddenly became angry.
“I say, why didn’t you come to me for so long! I have written so many letters to you, but you wouldn’t reply!”
“…” Chris just quietly looked at Lin Yifei, saying nothing.
Staring at his already tight T-shirt and backpack, Lin Yifei frowned, “You didn’t run away from home, did you?”
“No.” For Chris, running off after leaving a letter was called ‘running away from home’. Since he already made it clear to his father that he would leave, he wasn’t ‘running away from home’.
“That’s more or less the same. How worried your mother would be if you run away from home!” Lin Yifei immediately resumed his big smile. He stretched out his hand and smooshed Chris’s face. “Let me have a look. I haven’t seen you in so long. Are there changes?”
Chris also let Lin Yifei hold his face.
“Ha ha, there is really a change!”
“What kind of change?” Chris looked at Lin Yifei. His blue eyes almost drowned in him.
Chris’s eyebrows had become deeper and sharper. His nose bridge was straight and graceful, with less of a boyhood feeling and more of what a young man should have.
Lin Yifei subconsciously wanted to turn away but was instead held back by Chris’s palm.
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“What kind of change?”
This was the place where Lin Yifei hated Chris most, before and after his rebirth. He always insisted on getting the answer.
“More handsome okay?” Lin Yifei stared angrily before the other side slowly let go
At this time, there was mother Lin’s voice outside the door, “Come and eat! There are lion’s head meatball and kung pao chicken. I’ll fry a vegetable for you later!”
“I see!” Lin Yifei turned around and nearly hit Chris on the tip of his nose. Only then did he realize that the two boys were so close. Lin Yifei took a deep breath. Chris’s lips were less than two centimeters from his own. Even his eyelashes were clear.
“Dinner!” Lin Yifei gave Chris a slight push, then opened the door and walked into the living room. The two hot dishes on the table made Lin Yifei’s saliva drop.
“Ha ha, Chris! Do you still remember that the first lunch box I brought to school was the lion’s head meatball with chili oil! You aren’t afraid of spicy food at all.” Lin Yifei divided the bowl and chopsticks, sat down and put a lion’s head meatball into his mouth.
Chris picked the same place that Lin Yifei chose. He set aside a small piece and put it in his mouth.
“You haven’t forgotten how to use chopsticks!”
“I will never forget what you taught me.”
At that time, it was as if he had returned to elementary school. As long as Lin Yifei used chopsticks, Chris’s next chopstick move must be the same place. However, Lin Yifei also played a trick by deliberately giving Chris ginger, and then watched disappointedly as he chewed and swallowed it expressionlessly.
After dinner, Lin Yifei took Chris to Chinatown. Mother Lin called out after their figure, “Come back early!” She didn’t forget to stuff some bills into Lin Yifei’s pocket. She thought a bit then added two more.
Lin Yifei could only laugh and say, “Enough is enough, Mom! Don’t take money from the register, or you’ll be scolded by Dad!”
“Am I that kind of person!” Mother Lin glared at her son grumpily then blew them away. “Go play! Don’t interfere with my business!”
As soon as he walked out of the restaurant door, Lin Yifei’s wrist was taken by the other party. Looking at the Chinese in the street, it was slightly crowded. Chris seemed to be uneasy that he would lose Lin Yifei once they entered the crowd.
“Fool.” Lin Yifei faintly smiled. He held the other’s hand and went out.
They strolled around jade shops, antique shops and snack shops.
Lin Yifei deliberately ordered a stinky tofu, which was wrapped in oil paper, sprinkled it with chili sauce and inserted two bamboo sticks. Chris frowned at the smell and leaned back. Lin Yifei took a bite on purpose and then breathed on Chris.
“Although this stinky tofu is very smelly, it is tender on the outside and delicious in the mouth! Give it a try!” Lin Yifei put a stinky tofu in front of Chris. The other party raised his hand and stuck a bamboo stick into the piece that Lin Yifei had chewed. He frowned and put it into his mouth.
Chris nodded. Lin Yifei also forked up another into his mouth, with a face of enjoyment. Chris then ate the same piece again.
A car passed by them. Lin Yifei pulled Chris to his side. “Don’t worry about eating. There are no traffic rules in Chinatown. Be careful about cars.”
“Mmm.” Chris gently replied. The dim neon color light overhead reflected on Chris’s face, looking faintly shadowed.
There was the sound of drums ahead, and many people rushed over there.
“Ah, the outdoor stage is about to start. Go and see!” Lin Yifei pulled Chris to go over.
Hua Dan and Tsing Yi (T/N: Chinese opera) were singing duets on the stage. Unfortunately, Lin Yifei and Chris were surrounded outside and had to stand on tiptoe and craned up their necks. Lin Yifei turned his eyes and pointed to a big tree nearby and said, “Let’s climb up and see.”
With that, Lin Yifei pulled Chris out of the crowd and came under the tree. Lin Yifei climbed up the tree trunk neatly and then pulled Chris behind him.
“Be careful, remember to grab the branch!”
In fact, the trunk wasn’t high from the ground, but it would definitely hurt when falling.
Hua Dan and Tsing Yi was babbling there. Lin Yifei didn’t understand it at all but liked their figure. Chris, who was beside him, focused his eyes on Lin Yifei.
In the distance, there was a black car with its back window rolled down. Mr. Osborne looked at the young man in the tree. His sharp eyes softened.
The driver was George.
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“Sir, the young master looks very happy.”
“…Hmm.” Mr. Osborne’s lip angle unnaturally rose up. ‘It’s like seeing the whole world outside.’
“Do you want to bring back the young master at night?”
“No…let him play a few more days.”
When the play was finished, Lin Yifei and Chris carefully climbed down the tree and walked home. It was already past 9 o’clock in the evening, but Chinatown was still very lively.
“Chris, are you staying at my house tonight?”
“Then I’ll ask my mother to bring out a clean pillow!” Lin Yifei’s eyes were bent into crescent shapes smiling.
When they got home, mother Lin told them to take a shower since they had class the next day.
Lin Yifei went into the bathroom and stripped off everything. Only then did he see Chris slowly taking off his T-shirt. After opening the water, Lin Yifei stood under the current and waved to Chris. “Hurry up, Uncle Chen and his family still need to wash!”
Chris’s body shape has changed a lot from before. Although he had not yet entered the development period, because of more nutritious diet and systematic physical exercise, it made his slender form looked more robust.
Lin Yifei was spraying his hair. The water rushed down too hard to open his eyes. He only vaguely saw Chris coming toe to toe in front of him. He was about to get out of the way to flush him, but the other side gently hugged him.
This feeling of skin contact, even the water was unable to wash away Chris’s body temperature.
“What’s the matter…”
Chris’s palm was on Lin Yifei’s back. His heart quivered with that slightly hot presence.
“I almost lost you.”
“That will never happen.” Lin Yifei looked up and stared at the other through the hazy current, “because we will always find each other.”
Chris’s lip cracked open slowly. Only Lin Yifei could see his faint smile.
T/N: By the way, I don’t think the author really understands the education system in the US lol. In China, kids go to primary school (grade 1-6), junior middle school (7-9), then senior middle school (10-12). In the US, grade 7-8 is middle school while 9-12 is high school. To make the author’s (future) inaccuracy make sense, just pretend that middle school means grade 7-9 and high school 10-12. Lin Yifei is currently in 7th grade.
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