Translator(s): moon, Joyce
Editor(s): namio, juurensha
contains mild spoilers for future Tianbao content! nothing major though, and can be read on its own as a modern AU
Xi’an, Great Goose Pagoda.
The wind that had lasted through thousands of years swept through the city’s worldly scenes of red lanterns and green wine, dissipating the cloud cover, and as the autumn night’s rainclouds gently dispersed, it revealed a night sky that was lit up by colorful spotlights.
In the city of Datang that never slept, thousands of neon lights shone through the sky, while numerous instruments played an opening salvo in unison. The piece that the electric guitar, electric piano, drums, and traditional Chinese instrument created ebbed into reverberations that mixed with the shining lights, as if it was the wild revelry of a grand carnival.
The pedestrian street was so crowded that water couldn’t even seep through, with crowds of people tightly packed in. The front row knelt down on loose leaflets or sat, while the back rows stood on the stairs in layers, forming a huge ring of humans.
In the middle of the ring stood four young men, each of them tuning their instruments.
“Tomorrow is Mid-Autumn, and as an apology that we can’t accompany you guys to celebrate this holiday, in advance we’ll bring you…” In the midst of the cheers of that foggy day, Li Jinglong turned and sat down on a wooden stool, his left leg kicked up and his right dangling, before he flipped his electric pipa around, placing the head against his knee and the round end against himself as he settled into a classic “playing the pipa upside down”.
“...the Song of Everlasting Regret.”
Li Jinglong’s voice fell silent and was followed by cheers. The opening chords strummed, and the audience immediately fell silent. The lights circulated below the Great Goose Pagoda.“The lustful emperor of Han yearned for a beauty that would devastate his country, and despite many years of reign he could not fulfill that desire…”
In an instant, multiple instruments chimed in together. Qiu Yongsi pressed down on the electric guitar, A-Tai played the bass, and Mo Rigen tapped out a beat on the drums as the sound waves began to roll over the audience. Under their loud shouts, the concert’s atmosphere was pushed towards the peak.
“When the spring breeze blew, the peach trees bloomed all night; when the autumn rains fell, the parasol tree leaves fell to the ground…” The pipa’s voice in Li Jinglong’s hands resounded throughout the night sky, its sound warm and heavy, and light shone from all around from the cellphones that swayed back and forth, turning into a sea of light.
But his attention was not on the song, nor was it on his audience. He who sat a little above everyone swept his gaze over the crowd now and then, before turning towards the road.
A Maybach of extended length drove over, coming to a stop outside of the pedestrian street, just as Li Jinglong was singing, “He moved through the air as fast as lightning, searching throughout the heavens and the earth,” and the corners of his lips faintly quirked upwards.
“Aaaaahhh--” Hongjun didn’t wait for the chauffeur, Yu Zhou, to open the door for him. He rushed out of the car, and thought, why was there so much traffic on the road today! Why!
“Hongjun!” Yu Zhou brought over an umbrella, afraid that it would rain, and in a few large strides he also got out of the car.
“You can go back!” Hongjun didn’t even turn his head as he shouted. “Don’t tell my dad!”
In a blink of Yu Zhou’s eyes, Hongjun had already slipped into the crowd and disappeared, and when he turned his head back he saw that the car was being ticketed, so Yu Zhou could only melancholically go back.
“Li Jinglong!” Hongjun rushed to the outermost circle, and shouted, “Li Jinglong --”
Li Jinglong was still singing, but Hongjun knew that with this many people, he had no way to tell where Hongjun was, and maybe he didn’t even know that Hongjun had come. At that, Hongjun really felt a little disappointed.
“You sing so well,” Hongjun said to himself, before his spirits rose, and he shouted, “You sing it so well --! You’re gorgeous!”
Hongjun climbed onto the staircase, waving at Li Jinglong from a high place. The “Song of Everlasting Regret” that Li Jinglong was singing was already at the line, “Let us be two birds flying in the sky, side by side; let us be two branches on the earth, entwined together. The sky and the earth will one day come to an end, but this regret will last forever.” And as soon as that last “forever” was issued, the music that filled the heavens and the earth instantly came to an end.
The cheers and applause once again resounded.
Hongjun kept feeling that Li Jinglong had seen him, and that last motion seemed to be a pout with his lips.
“If you guys liked it,” Li Jinglong turned on the projector and showed the website before saying, “You can go to this website. This is our official website, and we hope we can bring everyone more beautiful music…”
“Hey hey hey! You’re not allowed to set up over here!” The city police arrived. “Go away quickly, go away! You can’t sing either!”
And in the span of ten minutes, the audience, the band, and the uncles and aunties circling around, like birds and animals fleeing in all directions, were all shooed away by the city police.
There was only Hongjun left, standing up high, meeting Li Jinglong’s gaze from afar. Today they had ended early, which even Li Jinglong hadn’t expected, and they could only clean up their instruments. When he turned his head he zoomed in on Hongjun, who was wearing a baseball cap and his young master attire, waving at him.
Hongjun began to smile.
The first day he had met Li Jinglong, Hongjun was angry and had run away from home. He randomly entered a bar only to hear Li Jinglong’s band, “The Glorious Tang” playing, and in an instant, he was stunned by Li Jinglong’s singing.
What was even more worth remembering was that it was precisely because Hongjun had argued with his dad that he wanted to find something to vent his anger on. Seeing that the band had a QR code hanging in front, he pressed a few buttons randomly, wildly sending them tips. Mo Rigen heard his phone ping twenty times with “You have received [50000 yuan] in your Alipay account”, and he almost thought that he had used too much energy and scrambled his mind as a result.
After they cleaned up, Hongjun naturally went with the band to go eat barbecue, and Li Jinglong took a look at the phone, before, as lightly as the clouds and wind, returned all of the tips to Hongjun.
“Keep it, if you’re free, then come find us older brothers to play,” Li Jinglong said to Hongjun. “If you keep doing it like this, then I won’t dare to tell you where we’re going next time.”
“A million ah!” Mo Rigen, A-Tai, and Qiu Yongsi cried wildly at the same time. “A million! Captain!”
Hongjun couldn’t hold back and laughed loudly, one hand resting on his forehead as he accepted Li Jinglong’s returned funds; he felt that this person was really too interesting.
That summer night, everyone drank some beer before going their own separate ways. However, Li Jinglong didn’t let Hongjun drink too much, and after he paid their bill, they sat across from each other, and Li Jinglong bought Hongjun a bowl of sugar ice jelly to eat to sober up.
“How old are you?” Li Jinglong asked.
“Eighteen, I’m starting my third year of high school at the end of the year,” Hongjun answered, but he didn’t tell Li Jinglong that today was the day he had just reached his majority. Li Jinglong then asked where he went to school, and Hongjun said the name of a private school whose fees were very expensive. In reality, it was exactly because he had argued with his father about studying that he had run out today.
“You’re not in a good mood?” Li Jinglong knew that kids in their third year of high school were in the middle of their rebellious phase.
“En.” That night, Hongjun spoke for a long time with Li Jinglong, and Li Jinglong had just patiently listened to him, without offering any sort of opinion. He understood that boys of this age knew many things clearly in their heart.
“Can I stay with you?” Hongjun had no home to return to, and he hadn’t brought his resident ID card with him when he left, so he couldn’t stay in a hotel. Suddenly, he thought of something. “Ah, sorry, are you single? I forgot to ask.”
“I am indeed single,” Li Jinglong said. “But you can’t stay with me. You need to go home and properly talk it over with your dad. You stopped being angry a long time ago.”
Disappointingly, Hongjun’s matters of the heart were seen straight through by Li Jinglong, so he could only answer, “Alright ba.”
Li Jinglong sent Hongjun back home, and after adding him as a contact, every time Li Jinglong went to perform he would always tell Hongjun, and Hongjun would come to listen every time. Sometimes the entire band gathered, and sometimes it was just Li Jinglong sitting alone in the bar, holding a ruan, or a guitar, as he sang whatever he wanted to.
He set down three conditions with Hongjun: Hongjun was not allowed to drink, not allowed to give him tips, and as long as he came, the drinks would be on Li Jinglong’s tab.
“It’s almost twelve o’clock.” Li Jinglong said one night. “Children who are still in school should go back now”.
“Today’s the weekend!” Hongjun said unhappily. He dangled a straw from his mouth as he drank the non-alcoholic drink that Li Jinglong had bought for him.
“I’m talking about you.” Li Jinglong began to smile, and he gazed down at Hongjun in the crowd as if there were no other people around.
Hongjun was very gloomy, but he could only go home.
But Li Jinglong would always send his newly written songs to Hongjun for him to listen to first, and earnestly listen to his opinions on them. And Hongjun couldn’t say anything specific, rather spouting flattering phrases like a small fan instead, things like “It sounds so good!”, “Super handsome!” and so on. Li Jinglong always felt that he didn’t know if he should laugh or cry, and he countered, “Is it really that good?”
“You’re the best!” Hongjun always replied earnestly to him.
The two people, who under other circumstances would never have crossed paths, met just like this, and after becoming intertwined with each other, they were basically impossible to separate.
Hongjun was protected well by his family, and he wasn’t very well-versed in the ways of the world, but even he could tell Li Jinglong’s life was pretty difficult.
For example, he always only bought a few T-shirts and long pants, exercise clothing, casual suits, and when he performed he wore them, when he strolled about on the streets he wore them, and even when they got together for food, he wore them. The reason he gave was that it was easy to bring them around when he moved, and for the things outside his body, he didn’t need to be that picky.
Hongjun wanted to buy Li Jinglong clothes, because no matter what he wore, Li Jinglong always looked good - his shoulders were wide, and his legs were long ah!
But Li Jinglong was completely indifferent to such materialistic things, and his lifestyle was very simplistic. Hongjun understood not to offend him; after all, he was showing Hongjun a completely different kind of lifestyle, one where he focused on experiences, learning in detail the different attitudes towards life that varied completely from person to person. For example, in the middle of the night on a completely deserted street, when the two of them were alone, Li Jinglong would play on the harmonica for Hongjun for a while; after Hongjun was let out from school, Li Jinglong would occasionally come to pick him up and take him to eat all kinds of street food that Hongjun’s adoptive father Chong Ming forbade him from touching...
And some evenings, Li Jinglong would even sneak into Hongjun’s school and accompany him and his classmates to play basketball for a bit, before taking him to go eat dinner.
Hongjun really liked this kind of lifestyle, fully becoming Li Jinglong’s little fan, chasing after him the entire way.
Last winter, after they had known each other for half a year, Li Jinglong brought his band with him to Shanghai for a competition. Before he left, he didn’t tell Hongjun the specific location, but Hongjun still successfully chased him there, though only because he had an elementary school classmate called Lu Xu who was also a fan of this band. He was even a super hacker.
When Li Jinglong saw Hongjun sitting amongst the crowd in the bar, he very clearly paused for a moment. On his phone, Hongjun sent him a message: “I prepared beforehand! Sing ba, you’re the best!”
That day, Hongjun wore a suit and sunglasses as he sat in the first row in the VIP section. Lu Xu held up a glowing sign, waving it back and forth.
Hongjun took off his sunglasses, and he smiled as he tossed a flying kiss towards Li Jinglong. He lowered his red face and typed in [I love you] on WeChat. But after thinking about it, he deleted the “I”, and finally he was too embarrassed, and he deleted the other two words too.
That competition was very important to Li Jinglong. He needed to get results in that competition, so that he could find a suitable agent to contract with.
But all of the sudden he changed his mind, only because of this high school student that had suddenly appeared in his life. Without knowing why, he felt as if they had known each other for a very long time.
Some year, some month, some night, he had a dream. In his dream, smoke from the beacons rose up into the sky, the flames of war swept across the landscape, and their defeated enemy fled like they were toppling the mountains and overturning the seas as he charged at the head of thousands of troops towards the formation, rushing towards a youth standing on the platform high above.
And the day they first met, Hongjun’s appearance seemed to overlap with that of the youth’s from his dream.
After that, he thought of the Song of Everlasting Regret; wasn’t that exactly like his dream?
So he decided to put a tune to the Song of Everlasting Regret, and after he finished singing, he carefully discussed things over with his band. They all felt that going down the commercial path was not good, and even if they just kept taking small gigs and filling in for others, it was still much better than singing songs they didn’t want to sing.
As for that materialistic life, that was not important. Choosing to sing instead, everyone’s hearts were already clear on that fact.
“Let’s go,” Li Jinglong said after the first day of the competition ended. “Hongjun, I’ll take you to go play.”
“Tomorrow there’s still the final round,” Hongjun said. “Rest well today ba, be sure to protect your throat.”
“We’re not going,” Mo Rigen said to Hongjun. “We’ve resigned from the competition.”
“Ah?!” Hongjun and Lu Xu were simultaneously shocked, and they asked, “Why?”
“The finals basically need money to buy a position,” Li Jinglong said. “It’s too expensive, and they require us to sign a contract in advance. We don’t want to take this route, and plus my luck has always been average, so I always feel that there won’t be anything good waiting for us.”
Hongjun almost said “Then I’ll cover it!”. Thankfully he caught his words just in time; he respected every one of Li Jinglong’s decisions, and in his eyes, Li Jinglong had no weak points. He was perfectly complete, and the decisions that he made must also be correct.
“That’s great!” Hongjun smiled.
“As long as you know what happened, then it’s good,” Li Jinglong smiled in return. “Have you booked a hotel already? Where are you staying?”
Hongjun only smiled without responding. Mo Rigen couldn’t help but tease Lu Xu. “We’re staying at Hanting, are you going to come over tonight to play?”
Lu Xu said coldly and mildly, “I’m also staying at Hanting, just across from you guys.”
Mo Rigen: “To experience life? How flattering for us.”
The first time Lu Xu saw him, he felt that this fellow was a little arrogant and puntable, and he kept wanting to roast him a few times with his words.
The next day, Li Jinglong brought Hongjun out as the two of them went off to play, while Lu Xu went with Mo Rigen and the rest of the band members to go wandering the streets. Lu Xu agreed to make a website for the band.
“Where are we going?” Hongjun asked. “You’re bringing your qin with you?”
Li Jinglong answered, “Let’s go to the Bund ba? Or do you want to go to Disney? You’ve probably already gone.”
Hongjun responded, “You haven’t been there ba?”
“I haven’t been to the one on the mainland,” Li Jinglong said. “Do you like amusement parks? If we have a chance later, I’ll take you to the Hogwarts in London.”
This past winter, Hongjun had specially bought a fashionable outfit for Li Jinglong, a jacket and pants combo that was just perfectly a set. When Li Jinglong performed, he didn’t wear it, but when he came out to play, he wore it.
He’s so handsome! Hongjun thought in his heart. Although Yu Zhou was also pretty handsome, Li Jinglong’s aura was very mesmerizing, a kind of comfortable, quiet, handsome manly feel. Hongjun once wrote an essay about Li Jinglong, and though he didn’t name who the subject was, the description he wrote was: “Like the mild winter that comes when the leaves fall off the parasol trees,” and Li Jinglong really did give others this kind of impression.
“You’re too beautiful,” Li Jinglong said seriously. “Yesterday when I saw you wear that suit, I almost didn’t recognize you.”
Hongjun laughed loudly, and said, “I also didn’t want to wear it, it’s too formal.”
“You’re like a little celebrity,” Li Jinglong said, amused. He knew that Hongjun looked like his mother, as Hongjun even let him see some pictures of her.
Hongjun and Li Jinglong wore the exact same scarves, and they stood in front of the railings of the Bund for a while.
“Didn’t I tell you not to come?” Li Jinglong turned his head to look at Hongjun as he spoke. “I said that we’d be back in a few days.”
“Ah?” Hongjun answered. “Well anyways… I didn’t have anything to do, so I came.”
“Oh? Was it just because you had nothing to do?” Li Jinglong said. “Though it’s the weekend, en… you’re also considered of age now, so you can do whatever you choose.”
Hongjun said very properly, “I wanted to come, is that not okay?”
“En,” Li Jinglong teased him again. “Why did you want to come?”
Hongjun: “Because… because…”
Obviously because I like you ah!
In that instant, Hongjun’s heart began to thump furiously. Ever since that morning when they stepped out, Li Jinglong’s gaze had never left him.
Unless he… always knew? Hongjun almost couldn’t breathe.
“These words, I should be the one to say them after all.” Li Jinglong looked away from Hongjun’s gaze, and Hongjun suddenly found that his entire face turned bright red as his brain went completely blank.
Li Jinglong took off the case and brought out the ruan inside.
“I wrote a new song,” Li Jinglong didn’t dare to look at Hongjun. He thought silently for a moment, and a red flush crept up onto his face as he said, “How about you listen to it and tell me how it is.”
A gust of wind blew, and the leaves of the parasol trees danced in the sky.
That day, Li Jinglong sat down and leaned up against the stairs, strumming the ruan a few times, before he played “The Mountains Have Trees, and the Trees Have Branches”. Hongjun listened dumbly for a while, before he remembered and hurriedly took out his phone to record. Li Jinglong looked directly at the camera lens, as if he was watching Hongjun, and finally, he said to the lens, “Hongjun, did you understand it?”
Many tourists who had gathered up around them suddenly let out a wah, but Hongjun still hadn’t understood what had happened. He was afraid that letting out any cry would ruin the recording that was still running, so he finally maintained his quiet but intense expression.
Some women finally couldn’t resist and began to shout loudly. “Are you dumb? This man is confessing to you right now--!”
When the music stopped, Li Jinglong grabbed Hongjun’s hand, put away his guitar, and they ran off.
After that day, Hongjun and Li Jinglong were together.
But Li Jinglong didn’t do anything because Hongjun was currently in the last year of his high school. This was the most important time in his life, and Li Jinglong was very afraid of influencing his studies, so they once again agreed that Hongjun had to study well.
Hongjun really had no other requests; as long as he could date his idol, he was already very satisfied. Even if they had only held hands once and eaten dinner together.
Another year later, Chong Ming found a few pictures that Hongjun had saved of Li Jinglong performing.
At first he just thought that his son was chasing a star; after all, young people always had a few idols, so that wasn’t strange. When Chong Ming was young, he had also chased stars. Of course, that was a different kind of “chasing a star”, but that was not important.
But not long after, he found out that there were words written in an unknown hand on the back. That was a love song that Li Jinglong had written to Hongjun, and only then did Chong Ming feel that this had become a very important thing.
In the spring, under Chong Ming’s interrogation, an intense, earth-shaking, sky-turning family fight erupted between father and son.
“You told your dad?” Li Jinglong could tell from Hongjun’s face that things were not right.
“I’ll take care of it,” Hongjun said. “I can make my own decisions and take charge of my own life. I’ve already thought it all through clearly.”
Li Jinglong was silent for a moment, before he nodded his head and said, “Communicate it with him properly, don’t argue with your father.”
Hongjun was always very happy and full of sunshine, and the way he thought about things was also very direct. He did try very hard to communicate and did not try to dodge. This year, he was nineteen and about to go into the first year of college, but because of the pandemic, his college start day had been delayed. Chong Ming had originally wanted to send him overseas to study, but he had no other choice, so he decided to let him stay in Xi’an.
“You’ll come tomorrow ba?”
This night, after the band had been dispersed by the city guards, Hongjun checked once again with Li Jinglong.
“I definitely will,” Li Jinglong said. “What? Are you this anxious about me?”
“You guys always treat me like a child,” Hongjun couldn’t help but say. “I’m already nineteen! I…”
“You’ll still come after school starts?” Mo Rigen scooted over to ask.
“Of course,” Hongjun said.
“I almost forgot that your boyfriend was our band leader!” A-Tai said amusedly, and they started to tease Hongjun playfully, unable to suppress their own laughter.
The band came back to the warehouse that they had temporarily rented out, and Qiu Yongsi was still not yet done expressing his opinion. He knocked on the kettledrum a few times and said, “This won’t work. It’s easy for us to be shooed away by others, so we need to find a more proper music festival to play at.”
“Your fans are already in the tens of millions.” Lu Xu let Mo Rigen look at the reviews online, before continuing, “And the website has a million and some registered users.”
Li Jinglong and Hongjun sat to one side speaking quietly, and the band practiced casually for a bit without Li Jinglong. After that, everyone dispersed, and Li Jinglong took Hongjun to the street food street to go eat dinner. After dinner, they sat at a high spot, watching the night view of Xi’an.
“When does your school start?” Li Jinglong asked.
“October ba?” Hongjun said. “Soon.”
“Look, Hongjun,” Li Jinglong suddenly said, smiling.
It was close to Mid-Autumn, and the moon was already full. That silver disc shone over the land and the bright lights of the human realm.
“En?” Hongjun was drinking boba as he looked down at the bustling crowds below Great Goose Pagoda.
“Tonight, Chang’an is so beautiful.” But Li Jinglong’s gaze was fixed on Hongjun’s face.
“Yes,” Hongjun smiled. “I don’t know why, but it doesn’t seem like the first time you’ve said that line.”
“Tomorrow night will be the same, it’s beautiful every day,” Li Jinglong then said.
A car stopped by the side of the road, and Qing Xiong came up along the stairs, wearing a suit. He called upwards, “You need to head back, Hongjun.”
Hongjun finished drinking his milk tea and said goodbye to Li Jinglong. He mustered up his courage, wanting to kiss him once, but Li Jinglong said in a quiet voice, “A senior is here, don’t make it so that you get scolded.” And he gently blocked Hongjun, quickly linking their fingers before letting go of them right after.
Hongjun could only go home with Qing Xiong who had come to pick him up. But before they could go, Qing Xiong stopped, sized Li Jinglong up with his eyes, and said to him:
“Behave properly tomorrow.”
“I definitely will.” Though this was the first time Li Jinglong had seen him, he knew that Qing Xiong and Hongjun’s relationship was a deep one.
The night of Mid-Autumn, Xi’an’s “The Flourishing Great Tang” Club, a family dinner.
Li Jinglong came very early. After all, it was a holiday, and he was meeting the parents, so anyone would be nervous beyond compare and unable to sleep well.
He wore the suit that Hongjun bought for him, and he lowered his head to look at the menu.
Today, Hongjun also arrived early, and he could tell that Li Jinglong was very nervous. He said, “My dad and I already talked it over well.”
Li Jinglong smiled a little and said, “Am I visibly nervous?”
This was the first time that Hongjun had seen Li Jinglong be so self-conscious. Even when he was singing in front of a stadium of a hundred thousand people, Li Jinglong was never nervous.
“A little.” Hongjun was also apprehensive, and he could only incessantly peel the paper-skinned walnuts in the booked private room and eat the walnuts. He was afraid that Chong Ming wouldn’t accept Li Jinglong, and he was afraid that Chong Ming would make Li Jinglong sad, and that was even worse than making Hongjun himself feel sad. When they were together they very rarely discussed the future, and Hongjun hoped that Li Jinglong would do the things that he really enjoyed, even if not many people enjoyed his works.
Li Jinglong said, “I can’t really drink, does Uncle like to drink?”
“He also rarely drinks,” Hongjun said. “How much is your limit before you get drunk?”
“One or two jin of baijiu,” Li Jinglong answered. “But I usually don’t drink.”
Behind Hongjun, Yu Zhou said expressionlessly, “When Hongjun told Boss about you guys, Boss spent the entire night drinking silently.”
“Then I’m done for,” Li Jinglong said.
Hongjun: “Yu Zhou, don’t be like this, you’re making him even more nervous.”
“I won’t be,” Li Jinglong said self-deprecatingly. “I definitely will be on my best behavior, be on my best behavior.”
Hongjun's nervousness had already reached its peak by the time the private room opened and Chong Ming and Qing Xiong came in. Today's banquet was only attended by four people, but the moment Li Jinglong saw Chong Ming, he subsequently rose like a different person, politely shook hands with Chong Ming, and said, "Uncle, hello."
Chong Ming, too, seemed to be a different person. He wasn't at all as stern as he had been when talking to Hongjun at home, and only faintly said, "Day after day I’ve heard about you from Hongjun. We've finally met now. Please, take a seat."
"It's not every day." Hongjun tried to find something to say, but only came up with this line.
Qing Xiong gave Hongjun a wink. Li Jinglong smiled, whilst everyone each took their seats.
"You're a good singer," Chong Ming said.
"Thank you, Uncle." Li Jinglong half rose out of his chair and was just about to pour tea for Chong Ming, when Yu Zhou came over and poured it for everyone.
"How long have you two known each other?" Chong Ming had a real headache as he asked.
Li Jinglong was somewhat surprised Chong Ming went straight to the point; this meeting wasn't quite what they had expected. Chong Ming seemed to care less about his son falling in love with a man, but more that his son had fallen in love at all; as for the person being a male or female, that was not wholly noteworthy.
Li Jinglong glanced at Hongjun, and replied, "It's been over a year."
Chong Ming said, "Hongjun's parents haven't been around since he was a child."
Li Jinglong, "Mnn, he told me about it."
Chong Ming added, "I'm his guardian. Hongjun… It's my fault too, for not teaching him many things."
Qing Xiong laughed, while Hongjun merely stared at his plate and said nothing.
Li Jinglong thought for a moment and didn't utter a word.
"But he was adamant," Chong Ming once again added. "I could tell that he was trying to communicate with me, trying to get me to accept you. To tell you the truth, I was also adamantly against it at first."
Hearing this, Li Jinglong's heart shook. Whenever they talked about Chong Ming, Hongjun's answer was always "I'm trying hard," but while he often said that, it meant that there was still a great deal of resistance.
The main thing that he didn't expect was that Hongjun had indeed made an effort and tried hard. During the year they met, he learned a lot and knew very well that Chong Ming loved him, hoping his son would live happily and be responsible for his own life.
"You don't know how much effort he has put into promoting your relationship in front of me. He was willing to prove it to me, while I can only accept it and wait further for his proof, hoping he can become a better person because he is with you," Chong Ming said. "Forget it, let's leave it at that. Let's just have dinner and chat, you don't have to be nervous."
"Dad," Hongjun said quite sheepishly.
Touched at the moment, Li Jinglong stared at Hongjun in a trance.
Their food then came up together with the sake set. Li Jinglong immediately said, "Uncle, here's to you."
Chong Ming held his cup up. Li Jinglong knew that this meant that he had tacitly approved of his and Hongjun’s relationship and formally regarded Hongjun as an adult, and behind it all must have been from Hongjun's persistent persuasion.
Li Jinglong was finally relieved, feeling both touched and overwhelmed in his heart. When he learned that Hongjun had been incessantly persuading his father, he realised that Hongjun was indeed truly serious about their relationship.
However, this was just the beginning. He must not get carried away, he must be vigilant, he should not overdo things just because he was overjoyed; it would deduct parental impression points, Li Jinglong couldn't help but remind himself.
"Let's eat ba." Qing Xiong smiled. "Yu Zhou, you should go eat too. Don't mind us."
Yu Zhou then went out.
"I'm famished, are there any crabs?" Hongjun said, feeling relieved. He neverhaving expected for it to have gone so smoothly.
Li Jinglong wasn't used to this form of banquet, but he knew roughly when to talk and when to shut up. Among his peers, he was pretty mature and stable in character for his age, but Chong Ming had this really strong aura. He could tell from just his phrase, "you don't have to be nervous" that people must be quite nervous when facing him.
Li Jinglong started to open the crabs for Hongjun, serving him like how he would usually peel crayfish for him for dinner.
Qing Xiong, "I've read some reviews online. Your band is great. Everyone else has also gone off on their own for the festival?"
Li Jinglong smiled and replied, "Yes, they all went home."
"Internet reviews don't fully represent a person," Chong Ming said. "Good or bad, you shouldn’t care about that."
Li Jinglong smilingly said, " Right. We also think so. As long as we sing well, that’s fine, and the rest is of no consequence."
"What are your plans for the future?" Chong Ming asked.
Li Jinglong thought about it, when Hongjun interrupted, "Wow! This one has quite a lot of crab fat, come, eat this one." Li Jinglong then suddenly got stuck, forgetting what to say.
Qing Xiong, "Do you plan to release an album in the future? Take the singer route?"
Chong Ming looked at Li Jinglong carefully. He did come over today with the idea of inspecting him, but no matter what, he would certainly not make things difficult for them. Because although Hongjun's character was always very carefree and obedient, deep inside he was also rebellious and obstinate, and it was useless to oppose him. He could only wait for Hongjun himself to stop loving him and learn a lesson.
However, the first time Chong Ming saw Li Jinglong, he felt that this young fellow was different from what he had envisioned, and he had a good temperament at that.
Chong Ming was rarely wrong in his judgement of people.
Hongjun vaguely felt as if this was a confrontation. Yet like every trial, Li Jinglong possessed a strong self-confidence, and even a little nervousness didn't obstruct him from being his true self.
"No," Li Jinglong quickly replied. "Actually, our band simply got together as a hobby. It wasn't intended to be a livelihood in the first place."
"I can tell," Chong Ming said faintly. "Hongjun said that your band withdrew from a contest once midway through."
"Sure, it would be nice to release an album, but people can't have both the fish and the bear's paw at the same time. The main thing is to enjoy the music, right?" Li Jinglong said.
"If music isn't the route you want to take, what other ideas do you have?" Chong Ming asked.
Qing Xiong looked at Hongjun and smiled.
"I haven't thought about it yet," Li Jinglong said. "Because of the impact of this epidemic, I'll probably look for a job in a few months and earnestly go to work."
"Going solo?" Hongjun said in surprise, filled with regret.
Li Jinglong smiled. "It's not exactly a solo flight. We'll still be performing on Saturdays."
Chong Ming didn't ask what job Li Jinglong planned to do, most likely because everyone was struggling to seek employment in this economic climate, suffering from the beatings and torture of society.
After a moment of silence, Hongjun asked, "You'll be working in Xi'an, are you?"
"Of course," Li Jinglong said. "What are you thinking? How can I go out of town when you're here?"
"You'll stay here because Chang'an is beautiful?" Hongjun quipped.
"Mnn," said Li Jinglong with a smile on his lips. "Because Chang'an is beautiful."
Li Jinglong now knew that many times Hongjun had in fact understood everything, but he had just politely not said anything.
"Have you finished your undergraduate studies yet?" Chong Ming asked.
"Finished. Uncle, let me do it." Li Jinglong took the flask from Qing Xiong's hand and poured smaller than a half cup of red wine for Chong Ming and Qing Xiong each.
"Oh…" Chong Ming knew why he had a good impression of Li Jinglong even at first glance, and asked, "Which school did you attend?"
Li Jinglong, "Tsinghua."
Qing Xiong was halfway through his drink when he suddenly pff-ed and spat out the wine.
There was an awkward silence in the banquet room.
"You're from Tsinghua? Which department?" Hongjun asked.
"Yes," said Li Jinglong. "Department of Sociology."
Hongjun, "That's a tough school to get into!"
Li Jinglong, "It's alright."
Qing Xiong suddenly burst into loud laughter. Hongjun puzzedly looked and asked, "Is there something funny?"
Qing Xiong promptly waved his hand and glanced at Chong Ming, who was speechless for a moment as the corners of his mouth twitched.
"Students from Tsinghua indeed like to form bands," Qing Xiong casually said.
Hongjun was somewhat surprised, not because of Li Jinglong's school, but rather because Li Jinglong rarely discussed university affairs with him.
"You never said that!" Hongjun said.
"Didn't I teach you English reading comprehension?" Li Jinglong said. "You never asked me either."
Hongjun forgot all about this matter as he was too busy looking at the handsome Li Jinglong. In any case, in his eyes, Li Jinglong was just perfection; he knew everything, so his English being good was very normal.
Chong Ming's fingers unconsciously tapped on the table. He held a cup towards Li Jinglong, who immediately returned the favor, and each drank some more.
"You can go for a master's degree," Chong Ming said.
"I already have," Li Jinglong said. "I'm currently considering whether to go back for a PhD."
"Which school did you graduate from?" Chong Ming asked.
"Cambridge," Li Jinglong said. "I got average grades. I started the band when I was in grad school."
Chong Ming and Qing Xiong were both speechless.
"I've been there," Hongjun spoke up at once, "Traveled there as a child."
"Cambridge's autumn was quite comfortable," Li Jinglong said to Hongjun. "Of course, it's still more beautiful in Chang'an."
"You’ve never talked about it before," Hongjun said in surprise.
"What's there to say?" Li Jinglong faintly said. "You liking me...You taking an interest in me, was it because of any of that?"
Hongjun laughed. "That’s true, that wasn’t why."
Li Jinglong also explained to Chong Ming, "After I came back from graduation, I happened to run into this pandemic, thus I didn't rush to find a job and went ahead and formed a band with a few friends as I also wished to stroll around and experience life in this society."
"Are all of your band members from Tsinghua?" Chong Ming asked again.
"Mo Rigen and Tegla are my classmates. Both like folk music." Li Jinglong said, and added, "Yongsi is an alumnus of Zhejiang. We met at a concert."
Chong Ming didn't know what to say.
"Once Hongjun enters university," said Li Jinglong. "I'll go there as well. I'll see if I can mix into some odd jobs at their Academy of Social Sciences. It’ll be easier to take care of him."
Hongjun had passed the entrance exam of a very good university in Xi'an. The same day he got the notice, Li Jinglong then sent his résumé to this university and took time to go in for an interview. A few days ago, he had already received an offer from the school but didn't tell Hongjun about it, as he intended to surprise him at the start of the semester.
But that didn’t matter now.
That’s why they said, life inevitably has a lot of inversions, a lot of surprises, and a lot of mishaps. Even if it was Chong Ming, he also had to face them.
The banquet ended. All the guests considered the banquet harmonious as they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves, satisfied with the meal and the wine.
"Do you need to return home?." Li Jinglong took his coat, let Hongjun put it on, and then said in a low voice, "You have to be by his side to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival ba?"
"He and Uncle Qing Xiong are going to have round two at the bar. It's okay, he promised me that I could be with you today."
Hongjun waved to Chong Ming and motioned that he was leaving. Chong Ming nodded at him.
As the moon shone thousands of miles away, its light streamed down from the glass ceiling of the dining hall, where the singer was singing while playing the piano.
Li Jinglong and Hongjun waited for Chong Ming and Qing Xiong to get in the car and leave. The singing voice that came from the dining hall was slow and gentle, turning a fervent song into a lyrical tune accompanied by the soothing rhythm of a piano.
"This song is too pleasant to hear," Hongjun said.
"Can I give you a kiss?" Li Jinglong gazes into Hongjun's eyes.
"Now?" Hongjun became nervous.
Li Jinglong didn't wait for Hongjun's answer, lowered his head, and softly kissed him on the lips. The music came through as the full moon shone towards the earth.
Li Jinglong then took Hongjun's hand and left the restaurant, while Hongjun was still humming to the song.
"It takes all our luck to be with you… Having seen life and death, I know I have no regrets with you in this life… Having been through highs and lows… I love Chang'an because I have you there…"
moon: HAPPY MID-AUTUMN HAVE AN EXTRA YEET – feitian probably
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.