Thank you bandrek for the Kofi! 🎉🎉🎉
Chris opened the box and took out the content with a slight hand quiver. It was a small cabin. They made it together when they were studying at the elementary school in New York. The stained glass on the roof looked bright and beautiful in the faint light.
"The other day KK came to see me from New York. I specifically asked her to go to Miss Anne and ask her to give it back to us." Lin Yifei's fingers opened the cabin door, and Schubert's 'Winter Journey' slowly rippled out in the air.
Chris just stared at the cabin.
"Do you still remember when my fingers got stuck with the universal glue?" Lin Yifei waved his hand. Chris gently grasped it.
Chris closed his eyes and placed a gentle kiss on the palm of Lin Yifei. His lips were soft and warm. Lin Yifei's nerves were on edge.
"Everything will be fine, Chris."
"Okay. Wait for me to come back."
One week later, the Osbornes left Washington.
Lin Yifei started his individual competition. This year he did his best, winning the Washington division final 15 to 12 and advancing to the national final as a regional champion. Not only that, the men's sabre team from Washington No. 3 Middle School also came in second in the region. The third year of Lin Yifei's middle school became busy and full of challenges.
On his 15th birthday, he finally received a call from Chris in Switzerland.
There was light rain falling outside the window. The entire Chinatown was immersed in misty vapor.
"Happy birthday, Yifei." Chris's voice was light, clearly cold but still slightly warm.
"I thought you forgot about me." Lin Yifei curled up his lip. "I forgot to tell you. I entered the national final."
"Good. Take the championship for me."
Within that sentence, there was an inexplicable weight.
In the national competition, Lin Yifei reached all the way to the final. The opponent was a third-year student from a famous private school in New York, who had mature technique and good experience. But even when he was forced with no way back by the other party, Lin Yifei's calm and fast judgment saved him from danger again and again. From a 2 to 5 deficit in the first round to a 9 to 9 tie in the second round. The audience couldn't help crying out after seeing the breathtaking thrusting and fighting back of their sabres. Even the principals of many famous schools in the audience nodded when they saw his performance.
Andrew sat next to Katherine. "After this final, Lin will become the darling of many famous schools in Washington."
"Of course, Lin is always strong!" Katherine mentioned her friend with pride.
The crucial final round had arrived. Lin Yifei took a deep breath and shook his sabre hilt. The sword in his hand had sufficient power to cut off all momentum.
At the start, Lin Yifei took the initiative to attack. His footwork and body movements were impeccable. He moved faster and faster. His opponent had a sense of frustration. It seemed that his every move had been predicted by Lin Yifei in advance. In that instant of crackle, Lin Yifei hit his opponent at the most subtle angle to score.
The attack that lasted for 15 seconds made some people in the audience forgot to breathe. Katherine grabbed Andrew and asked blankly, "Did he score?"
"The attack was too fast. But he should have scored. I saw the light on." Andrew frowned as well.
The referee decided that Lin Yifei scored an effective attack. The audience was slightly relieved. His opponent gasped and adjusted his breathing. When the two people returned to the preparation line again, the opponent finally launched a fierce attack on Lin Yifei. In less than a second, Lin Yifei was judging the opponent's purpose and attack move. His brain had never been as tense as it's now. Perhaps it was because of Chris's sentence 'win the championship for me'.
Lin Yifei found the rhythm of the match and cracked the defense. His pressing sabre returned the attack power, followed by a series of firm and smooth thrusting and cutting. When he struck the other side's arm with another hit, the other side's momentum was completely obliterated by him.
The sabre that was thrusted out last made many spectators stand up from their seats in order to see it clearly. It was a lunge. He fended off the other side with a big slide then thrusted out. His entire body was stretched out like a tension line that seemed to abandon all retreats.
The lights on both sides came on, showing that they hit at the same time.
The entire fencing hall was quiet.
"Who scored?" Katherine's nervous heart was about to jump out.
"It should be Lin." Andrew answered.
Just like Andrew said, the referee decided that Lin Yifei scored. Even though both lights were on at the same time, only the one with the priority attack would get the point. Lin Yifei's lunge was a priority attack. His opponent hit Lin Yifei during his personal defense, which didn't constitute as a defensive counterattack, so he didn't score.
In this way, Lin Yifei won his first championship at 15 to 11.
At the moment when the referee announced the result, the audience finally gave thundering claps.
Lin Yifei took off his mask and breathed with his eyes closed. This brought him back to the preliminary match of the Olympic Championship before he was reborn. That was his first international match. His opponent was an Italian star. He won the match with difficulty. That applause sounded just like what he experienced at this moment.
It seemed that no matter how many times things restarted, fate would still follow a similar path.
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Andrew stood there with a smile on his face. "I think that last attack was just like seeing Chris Osborne."
"Ah? Lin and Chris don't seem to have much common in their fencing style." Katherine frowned and started to think.
"Lin's fencing looks calm and cautious on the surface, but when he takes risks, he's just like Chris, leaving no way out for himself."
When the award ceremony was over, Lin Yifei walked out of the stage with flowers in his hand. He saw George standing beside the audience seat not far away.
He nodded slightly toward his direction.
George…Didn't he follow Chris to Switzerland?
Lin Yifei quickly stepped forward, "George…You're here. What about Chris?"
"Master and young master have both returned to Washington. I'm here to meet you."
George's words made Lin Yifei frown.
"Only Mr. Osborne and Chris came back?"
George slightly lowered his gaze. The sadness in his eyes made Lin Yifei's heart, which had been warm because of winning the championship, instantly cold.
"Madam, she…died in Switzerland because of a weak heart. Yesterday, master and young master returned to Washington to transport her coffin."
"Mrs. Osborne passed away…" Lin Yifei stood there.
The woman who endured more than ten years of poverty for Chris, the woman with a gentle smile…the woman who always liked to say 'Lin, come and let me have a look at you' left just like that?
Although Lin Yifei predicted this ending earlier than anyone else, when it finally came, his tears couldn't help falling down.
"Young master locked himself in the room and wouldn't come out. He hadn't eaten anything for two days. Master is very worried, so he asked me to pick you up."
Perhaps, no one could understand Chris's deep feelings towards his mother. That woman gave everything for Chris, so he always went to great lengths to protect her. For him, his mother was the safest and gentlest harbor in the world. But now, he finally lost her.
"Good. Let's go there!"
Lin Yifei gave all of the flowers and gifts to Katherine then told her that he had something very important to do before leaving with George.
Katherine wanted to say something since celebrating the championship should be important, but when she saw George, she knew that it must have something to do with Chris.
"The main character of the party has left." Andrew looked at Katherine inquiringly.
"There's no way. Chris is more important to Lin than the championship." Katherine looked at Andrew with her arms crossed. "There'll be me, Ivey, Mark and Philip at the party. We're all from Washington No. 3 middle school."
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"Oh, you aren't going to invite me? Do you discriminate against Griffith?" Andrew asked half-jokingly.
"Come on, we won't discriminate against Griffith."
While sitting in the car, Lin Yifei looked out of the window. He never understood why Chris liked to watch the backward scenery so much.
"…Mrs. Osborne, was she in pain when she left?"
"No, madame left peacefully. She leaned on master's shoulder and accompanied him to read the newspaper. Then she fell asleep and never woke up again."
"When will the funeral be held?"
Lin Yifei asked no more questions until the car drove into the Osbornes' villa.
As soon as he entered the living room, he saw Mr. Osborne sitting on the sofa. The English black tea in front of him had cooled down long ago, but he didn't drink even one sip. His always strong eyes showed pitiful sorrow.
"…Lin, you finally came. George told me that we must wait until the end of the match to tell you. Chris will never forgive me if it affects you winning the championship."
Lin Yifei hugged Mr. Osborne and whispered, "I'm sorry."
"I know you're sorry too. She's a good woman." Mr. Osborne took a deep breath and pressed Lin Yifei's shoulder. "Chris…whatever I said to him, he wouldn't respond. He didn't talk or eat. I can't let him do that…If there's anyone in the world who can make him speak, I believe it's you."
Lin Yifei went upstairs and gently pushed open Chris's door. He hadn't been inside Chris's room for a long time. The area appeared dark, except for the night light at the head of the bed, which reflected Chris curling up on the bed.
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