“Some people say that liking a friend of the same sex is like waiting for a ship at the airport."
Editor(s): Amalea, FistFullOfDollars, Juurensha
Chen Yekai:【What did you want to ask me this afternoon?】
Yu Hao:【Chen Laoshi, have you ever liked girls before?】
Chen Yekai:【Why are you suddenly asking about this?】
Yu Hao realised that this topic was a bit impolite, and considered what to say to change the topic so Chen Yekai could just ignore it, when Chen Yekai replied to him with a long message.
【From the moment I became conscious of the difference between genders, I think I’ve had normal feelings towards the opposite sex. I did like beautiful and sexy girls. When I was in high school, I happened to come across some AVs and my sexual desire for the opposite sex was aroused. After studying abroad, I would be attracted to intellectual, gentle women who were one or two years older than me, but relatively speaking, my family was more on the conservative side, and were strict towards premarital sexual behaviour.】
Yu Hao didn’t expect Chen Yekai to answer him so seriously. It really was embarrassing to discuss this topic.
Yu Hao:【Okay, I got it.】
Chen Yekai:【Let’s meet up tomorrow for lunch? It just so happens that I wanted to talk to you alone too.】
Yu Hao, “???”
“Zhou Sheng?” Yu Hao looked towards the bed on the other side. Zhou Sheng laid on his bed with the back of his head facing him, “Tomorrow, I……”
With just one glance, Zhou Sheng knew what Yu Hao wanted to ask him, “Kaikai asked you out? Go ba.”
Fu Liqun went to take a bath. Yu Hao said, “Have you been looking for him often recently? What are you guys talking about in private?”
Zhou Sheng, “It’s got nothing to do with you.”
Yu Hao, “How can it have nothing to do with me!”
Zhou Sheng, “I said it’s got nothing to do with you, so it’s got nothing to do with you. Yu Hao, are you trying to pick a fight?”
Yu Hao sensed that something was wrong, “Have you guys already discussed the case? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Zhou Sheng sat upright and looked at Yu Hao. Yu Hao said, “What’s going on? I have the right to know too.”
Zhou Sheng thought for a moment, “We’re just casually chatting. If there’s a pressing matter, we’ll let you know.”
Yu Hao stared at Zhou Sheng suspiciously, “Really??”
Fu Liqun walked out after he finished his bath, so Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng abruptly stopped this line of conversation. Yu Hao replied to Chen Yekai, and Chen Yekai just asked him to wait at the college’s gates tomorrow:【We’ll talk when we meet.】
At noon the next day, Chen Yekai called a car to pick up Yu Hao, yet he himself wasn’t in the car. The car drove through half the city and arrived near the CBD; its destination was a Thai restaurant. This was a high-end residential area, and hardly any students would come over here to play, so it would be unlikely for them to run into anyone they know.
Chen Yekai sat in a small reserved room in front of the landing windows; he was looking down at the information that Zhou Sheng sent him on his phone.
Zhou Sheng:【Cherish it a little ba. Once this is over, most of your memories regarding this period will be gone.】
Chen Yekai:【I know, that’s what we agreed on. But will I forget everything completely? Will I get suspicious about it later on?】
Zhou Sheng:【Depends on how much you want to keep. At the very least, everything regarding special abilities and the dreamscape can’t be kept. As long as you don’t forget too much, losing a few fragments of your memory wouldn’t rouse your suspicion, because people won't go out of their way to find something they don't have.】
Chen Yekai:【What’s the theory behind the mechanism of forgetting one’s memories? Are they erased or sealed off?】
Zhou Sheng:【Why are you asking so many questions about this? The most convenient way is to roughly regress your memory to a certain day, then obscure the rest. Or get you to fabricate a false memory to cover it up.】
Chen Yekai:【Sounds kind of fantastical.】
Zhou Sheng:【It’s not that fantastical. Identify the corresponding place in your dreamscape, determine where that place is, then demolish it and rebuild it again, or just level it. It’s a bit troublesome to find it, but you’ll have a lot of time in your dream that you can use to slowly search for it. You’re the master of the dreamscape, so it’s not like you won’t be able to find it.】
Chen Yekai:【Then can I choose the point in time myself?】
Zhou Sheng:【Which day do you want to regress to?】
Chen Yekai:【The day after the college celebration.】
Zhou Sheng:【The operation itself wouldn’t be that precise, but I’ll try my best ba. No guarantees.】
Yu Hao thought that Huang Ting would be there as well, but in front of the room, there was only Chen Yekai. There also weren’t many guests in the restaurant at noon. Chen Yekai ordered some dishes, “The weather isn’t that good today. If it was clear, the scenery would look very beautiful.”
When Yu Hao saw Chen Yekai, he noticed that he had cut his hair into a buzz cut, and it was almost shorter than Zhou Sheng’s. Buzz cuts rely a lot on one’s jawline and head shape to look good, but this Chen Yekai is someone who practically has no dead angles from a 360 degree view. After he changed his hairstyle, he actually seemed even more masculine.
“Does it look good?” Chen Yekai smiled as he touched his hair.
“Handsome.” Yu Hao smiled, “If you show up at school again, people would definitely start cheering and taking photos of you secretly.”
Dark clouds loomed overhead outside the landing windows. When you looked out, a cloud of fog could be seen.
“This restaurant should be very expensive right?” The style of the interior decoration here startled Yu Hao a little.
“It's not too bad.” Chen Yekai didn’t allow him to see the menu, nor did he intend to let him know the prices. Of course, he wouldn’t order everything on a menu like Zhou Sheng, “Just consider it as accompanying me for a meal. I’ve been wanting to eat here anyway, Thai food is both sour and spicy, so it’ll be quite appetizing. I’m in a good mood today so I want to eat a little more.”
Yu Hao suddenly felt like he was on a date with a CEO. Fortunately, Zhou Sheng reminded him to change before leaving the dorm today, otherwise he was planning to leave in just a T-shirt, a pair of baggy pants, and slippers.
“I rented an apartment upstairs for the time being.” Chen Yekai said, “Everything’s prepared, so you don’t need to worry.”
Yu Hao, “Prepared? What’s prepared?”
Chen Yekai, “There has been significant progress with the case. I’ve obtained the statements of two parties who were involved who’re willing to cooperate with me. Since they’re transnational witnesses, it’ll be a bit troublesome, but it’s not something that can’t be overcome.”
Yu Hao, “That’s great! What else?”
Chen Yekai considered it for a moment before he continued, “Now the most crucial issue is that there is still no evidence to prove that the car accident was contrived. Zhou Sheng suggested this: if we can prove that Shimu was comatose when she was taken into the car, then all the connections in this case will become tenable, and Lin Xun wouldn’t be able to deny it anymore.”
Yu Hao agreed enthusiastically, “Yes!”
On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, if Liang Jinmin was comatose when Lin Xun took her to the car, then why would Lin Xun take his wife who was suffering from shock onto the expressway? And not buckle her seatbelt for her when they went to visit their friends? This series of suspicious actions would then no longer be justifiable.
Yu Hao asked doubtfully, “But why didn’t Zhou Sheng tell me anything!”
Chen Yekai said, “We were just talking about it casually.”
Yu Hao said, “If Liang Laoshi can wake up, it should be of great help to the case.”
“Un.” Chen Yekai said, “But at present, we need to wait patiently. I believe the future looks optimistic.”
A small plate of shrimp slices with salad dressing was served. Yu Hao didn’t touch it. He looked outside, then looked at Chen Yekai, who happened to be looking at him as well. Yu Hao felt a little embarrassed from his gaze.
“What did Zhou Sheng say?” Chen Yekai suddenly asked with a hint of a sly smile in his eyes.
Yu Hao, “?”
He didn’t say anything ah, Yu Hao thought, what did Zhou Sheng say to you? Then he shook his head doubtfully and began to ruminate.
“I’ve decided to resign.” Chen Yekai said, “I even talked to my Dad a while back and told him not to accept Lin Xun’s request for legal advice.”
Yu Hao remembered that night when Lin Xun was on the phone as he walked upstairs — presumably, he was consulting Chen Yekai’s father then.
“What did he say?” Yu Hao became nervous again.
Chen Yekai answered, “He told me to mind my own business.”
Yu Hao’s brows were immediately locked in a deep furrow.
“I know I can’t dissuade him, but I can at least get him to consider it more seriously. This was the first time I took the initiative to break our deadlock, so I think he’ll take this problem seriously.” Chen Yekai said, “When I came out of the closet to him four years ago, in his eyes, I was still a kid who needed my parents to pay for my tuition fees. Now he thinks that I’ve already grown up, and my mother has always been concerned all these years, so he has gradually come to accept it as well.”
“I thought he’d persuade you to return and get married.” Yu Hao smiled.
“He did happen to say that.” Chen Yekai answered, “But I refused.”
When their dishes arrived, Chen Yekai portioned out some soup for Yu Hao. Thai food really was appetizing. Yu Hao drank a bit of soup and looked at Chen Yekai carefully, “Then will you get married to a girl in the future?”
“I don’t know.” Chen Yekai pondered, then smiled, “I’m a bit perplexed.”
In the past two days, Yu Hao had always been reminiscing — he remembered his own budding feelings of love with someone of the same sex, and tried to analyse and understand various circumstances in which men began developing feelings for the same sex.
“Are you really concerned about it?” Chen Yekai asked, “When you asked me about my relationship history last night, was it because of Zhou Sheng? That’s why I asked you what Zhou Sheng said to you.”
“Uh……” Yu Hao knew that Chen Yekai understood what he was thinking and could easily see through him. In fact, Chen Yekai, Fu Liqun, and Zhou Sheng all seemed to be able to guess what he was thinking, so it would be useless to deny otherwise.
“Yes.” Yu Hao could only admit it honestly, “I was wondering, if he could like me, or rather, if we……un……if it would be possible for us……even if there was only a slight possibility……”
When Yu Hao said this in front of Chen Yekai, he felt like he was talking about a somewhat shameful wishful thinking, such as “if only I could become the mayor” and other such unrealistic fantasies. He was suddenly overcome with embarrassment.
But Chen Yekai didn’t laugh, and only said gently, “I think, maybe? He’s someone who isn’t really willing to face his own feelings; I think I understand him better in that respect than you do.” As he spoke, he picked up the cold water flask and topped up Yu Hao’s water for him.
Yu Hao said, “Really?”
“I don’t know.” Chen Yekai said as he looked like he was at a loss, then the two of them began to laugh.
“What’re you laughing for?” Chen Yekai wore a bewildered expression. Yu Hao shook his head, “I don’t know either.”
He found it easy to get along with Chen Yekai, and he was once again able to talk about anything under the sun without worrying about getting laughed at by the other party.
“Do you need any help?” Chen Yekai asked.
Yu Hao immediately said, “Okay!”
Chen Yekai became deeply lost in his thoughts, “Wu, let me see, what ways are there… Do you want to confess to Zhou Sheng? Take ten thousand steps back to see, in the best scenario, even if the confession isn’t successful, you can continue to be friends…”
When Yu Hao said ‘okay’, his original intention was to listen to what Chen Yekai thinks about this matter. He didn’t expect Chen Yekai to earnestly think of strategies for him, so he quickly said, “No I’m not talking about that kind of help! I was just thinking, under what kind of circumstance would a straight guy maybe develop feelings for the same sex. What I want, is a direction for me to strive towards.”
Chen Yekai broke out of his reverie and smiled. He answered, “I understand. A direction for you to strive towards — that’s the motive behind your question to me last night.”
Yu Hao sighed, “Some people say that liking a friend of the same sex is like waiting for a ship at the airport. Sometimes, I really don’t think it’s very possible, but I’m also reluctant to give up just like that. I feel quite conflicted about this.”
Chen Yekai held a knife and fork between his fingers and twirled them around beautifully. His slender fingers manipulated the knife and fork nimbly and pressed a huge shrimp down on the clean plate, then skillfully peeled it with ease. This movement that seemed extremely elegant attracted Yu Hao’s attention.
“What did Ryuusei say to you that day in my memory?” Chen Yekai changed the topic, “Is there anything he wanted to convey?”
Yu Hao told Chen Yekai what Ryuusei had told him in the “next life”. Chen Yekai laughed and answered, “It sounds a lot like what he wrote in his letter. Cognitive behavioural therapy for depression is the future direction of my professional research as well. After resolving this problem, I want to become a psychological consultant.”
“That’s great!” Yu Hao quickly said, “Ryuusei will definitely be very happy for you!”
“Freud said,” Chen Yekai continued, “Dreams reflect the most important desires in our heart, and every dreamscape represents the expectations we have of our own lives.”
Yu Hao remembered now, it had been mentioned in one of his psychology classes as well. Though it was part of the course in his second year, he had already looked through it in advance, “But dreamscapes are very good at the art of camouflage. In order to bypass the scrutiny of our consciousness, it would conceal itself underneath several layers of meaning, or even manifest itself as a contradiction.”
Chen Yekai nodded and answered, “Now that I think about it, everything in the Chichén Itzá of my dreams embodied that wish of mine ba, which was to move on from my suffering, engrave my love for Ryuusei in my heart, and greet a new life for my future.”
“Just like today, I don’t need to avoid mentioning Ryuusei anymore, or the mistakes I made in the past. I no longer need to torture myself. I can remember those beautiful memories from the past and usher in new sunlight.”
Yu Hao smiled slightly as he looked at Chen Yekai. Chen Yekai drank some ice water and reflected for a moment before continuing.
“When I first liked Ryuusei, it was only a kind of concern and care out of obligation. Afterwards, without any sort of preparation, I was unexpectedly bombarded by some of his issues. If I had rejected him at first, then perhaps no matter what he did, I wouldn’t have felt moved and would only think of it as a kind of burden. At the same time, I would just think of it as a kind of material exchange: the investment of efforts was just in exchange for love.”
“I understand!” Yu Hao immediately understood and continued this line of thought, “The two of you were still very good friends at that time. You had no idea at all, and also thought that his original intention was just for you to be……”
Chen Yekai said, “Yes, just for me to be happy. As long as I could keep smiling, he was willing to do anything. He liked making me happy, because it would make him feel blessed too. So I thought that I definitely needed to cherish a friend like him.”
“Love isn’t simply an exchange.” Chen Yekai said, “It’s not something where after I give you a present, you would then come to love me a little. If the goal isn’t achieved, then the money spent would be in vain……I just want you to be happy, and from that, I would feel fortunate from the bottom of my heart as well.”
“I slowly came to realise that I also wanted Ryuusei to be happy, and maybe, that was love. We were used to each other’s company, and until the end, I couldn’t avoid thinking about him whenever I was free. When I saw him, it was as if my life was filled with sunlight. I wanted to share many things with him, and that should be……love ba.”
The two of them fell silent, and Yu Hao gradually began to understand.
Yu Hao said, "But when you slept with……sorry, Chen Laoshi, when you slept with him, you didn’t……consider doing it with the same sex as a deterrent?"
“With feelings as the foundation,” Chen Yekai said, “In your subconscious, you’ll want to take it a step further and wish for intimate contact with the other. It was a bit awkward at first, but because I liked it, I quickly got used to it, and it was even more intense than the stimulation I got from watching AVs. I think, my body was also spontaneously taking the initiative to learn about my sexual orientation ba?”
“A lot of dopamine should be released as a reward when you like a particular person, so it would establish a kind of conditioned reflex? Then……okay, that part’s uncertain, it’s just a bit of my personal experience that I’d like to provide to your highness, the Archangel, for your reference.”
When he spoke to this point, Chen Yekai finally felt a little embarrassed, while Yu Hao was so amused by the title ‘your highness, the Archangel’ that he laughed. He answered, “I understand, Chieftain.”
Brief bewilderment could be seen in Chen Yekai’s gaze before he continued, “Male instincts and hormones drive us to pursue the opposite sex in order to produce offspring. But the same emotions borne of men would guide us to look for the most suitable lifelong partner for us in this world.”
Yu Hao, “!!!”
“That’s someone whom your soul would resonate with.” Chen Yekai finished peeling the shrimp and placed it on Yu Hao’s plate, then explained, “Whether they’re of the same or opposite sex, I think, isn’t that important. Even if they never have a gender in this lifetime, and only a platonic love exists between the two, what does it matter?” As he spoke, he smiled at Yu Hao.
“I think……” Yu Hao said, “Yes, I don’t want to deceive myself anymore. I like him. I want to……pursue him? That’s what it’s called ba? That phrasing sounds a bit weird, I want to……I want to take a step further with him. But after listening to you, I don’t think it’s necessary to be too focused on the material gains and losses, and just let nature take its course.”
Yu Hao had summoned up the courage to confess to another guy before, but ultimately, that incident had devastated his life, which made him reject love from then on. It had also cast a significant shadow over his heart — it was not until General hit the gatekeeper and turned him into a meteor that flew through the horizon before he was infatuated with the feeling of love again.
“That’s pretty good.” Chen Yekai began peeling shrimps for Yu Hao again.
Yu Hao quickly said, “I’m not eating anymore, leave it for yourself ba.”
“Un.” A hint of a smile could be seen in Chen Yekai’s eyes, “What do you plan to do first?”
Yu Hao hadn’t thought about it yet. He knew that Zhou Sheng was instinctively resistant to the idea of love and marriage because of his family, and this internalisation could also be present in his mental world……but his train of thought suddenly derailed as he suddenly thought of something strange.
In Zhou Sheng’s conscious world, what was under the sea of clouds? He once said that his life was also a mess. In his dreamscape, would underneath the sea of clouds also be a……a world similar to an abyss of darkness? In retrospect, the Golden Crow Wheel stood above the clouds, so wouldn’t it be unable to shine upon the area under the dense layers of clouds?
Yu Hao snapped out of his trance and realised that his expression just now might have been a little grave.
“Un.” Yu Hao returned from his chaotic mess of thoughts, “I haven’t thought about it yet.”
“He’s very possessive of you.” Chen Yekai said, “I think you’ve already moved him, and now he’s stuck hesitating. He thinks that he likes you, but he’s not willing to admit it.”
“Why don’t you try letting him realise that he doesn’t want you to leave? Most of the time, I think he’s acting like a spoiled child towards you in his own unique way, because you would then pay attention to him and return to his side. Your commitment to him makes him feel like he’s very important to you, and that is unrivalled.”
Yu Hao said, “That is true! Chen Laoshi, you’re very amazing too!”
Chen Yekai, “Don’t call me Laoshi anymore, I’ve already resigned. Zhou Sheng’s current attitude could partly be due to the fact that he doesn’t feel very threatened and believes that you won’t leave him. But once crisis becomes a reality, he might be aware of a serious threat and would have no choice but to get serious……”
“……so why don’t you find someone to cooperate with you and date that person? If the pretense seems real enough, he might understand exactly how he feels about you?”
Yu Hao said, “Who do I look for? That’s too much of a stretch ba. And that doesn’t seem too good, what if the one I’m cooperating with starts taking it seriously……”
“For instance, me?” Chen Yekai smiled, “Eat a little more, you’re too skinny. I’m not good at cooking, the only thing I have is money. Where do you want to eat? In this world, as long as it’s a place that accepts money, I can take you there at any time.”
Yu Hao, “……”
Three hours later, in the dormitory.
“You’re back?” Zhou Sheng said.
“My beloved concubine, you’re back?” Fu Liqun said, “Did you pack dinner for Zhen?”
Yu Hao’s thoughts weighed heavily on his mind. He placed the plastic bag with packed food on the table, showing the restaurant’s logo on it. Fu Liqun said, “Wah that place isn’t cheap. Eating and packing food away should cost more than 2,000 ba.”
“That expensive?!” Yu Hao immediately exploded, “I knew it!”
“Kaikai doesn’t lack money!” Zhou Sheng pulled a pair of chopsticks out and opened up the pack of coconut curry chicken; it was still hot, “Don’t help him save money.”
“Why don’t you eat too?” Fu Liqun said, “Yu Hao!”
“I can’t!” Yu Hao’s mind wasn’t on food at all now. He went to the balcony to wash clothes.
Fu Liqun held his packed dinner and put on his earphones to watch his variety show. Zhou Sheng took his packed dinner to the balcony and asked Yu Hao, “What did you guys talk about?”
“Nothing much.” Yu Hao roughly described their conversation, and of course, he didn’t mention a single word of their discussion regarding Zhou Sheng. In the end, Chen Yekai saw that he truly seemed too embarrassed, so he diverged from the topic and sent him an electronic version of a contract.
“He helped me find a part-time job.” Yu Hao wiped his hands and showed Zhou Sheng the email in his phone, “To translate some survey reports, and I’ll be paid by word count.”
Chen Yekai wanted to give his laptop to Yu Hao to use, but Yu Hao insisted on translating by himself at an Internet cafe. Chen Yekai then asked him to go back and sign the electronic contract for confirmation. If everything goes well, after he works for two months, he would be able to earn 7,800 yuan.
“Oh, that’s pretty good.” Zhou Sheng said, “I can’t understand the letter, how much does it pay?”
“A few thousand?” Yu Hao glanced at Zhou Sheng. He reached out to help him wipe off a grain of rice from the corner of his mouth.
Zhou Sheng, “Didn’t talk about anything else?”
Yu Hao, “No!”
Zhou Sheng stared at Yu Hao doubtfully. Yu Hao felt a little guilty and stressed, “We really didn’t. You know I’ve always been tight-lipped.”
“Ohh——” Zhou Sheng answered.
Yu Hao felt a little guilty, and he was about to change the subject when Zhou Sheng went back in with his packed dinner. Then he put Fu Liqun’s laptop on speaker mode, and the two of them watched the variety show together.
Today, Chen Yekai’s words were just like a tempestuous storm where wave after wave inundated him. Even now, Yu Hao still hadn’t managed to break out of his stupor. Of course, Chen Yekai was very smart; he didn’t wait for Yu Hao to reject him, and after the topic diverged, both of them had a tacit understanding and didn’t speak of it again.
I’ll just focus on earning money first, Yu Hao thought about it for awhile. He decided not to accept Chen Yekai’s suggestion, but he had also understood something. He has always wanted to buy Zhou Sheng a birthday gift to make him happy, such as a phone or something else.
“Where are you going again?” Fu Liqun and Zhou Sheng turned away from their variety show and looked at Yu Hao.
“Internet cafe.” Yu Hao said, “I need to translate something.”
“Look at the time though, you’re pulling an all nighter?” Zhou Sheng got up and took off his earphones, “Go go, let’s go together.”
“Use my laptop?” Fu Liqun closed his laptop and handed it to Yu Hao, “I’m sleeping now; I need to take the train tomorrow morning to go look for your sis-in-law. Help me take attendance then.”
It would be Friday again tomorrow. The sports classes only had two common classes. Fu Liqun was going to meet his girlfriend in the neighbouring city, and was elated about being able to spend three days together with her.
“Stop abusing single dogs, will you? Zhou Sheng flipped over and easily flopped onto his bed, then added, “When will you introduce one to Laozi too?”
Yu Hao, “……”
Yu Hao seldom received such a critical hit in the dormitory room. He knew that Zhou Sheng must have said that on purpose, so he immediately felt a little upset.
“You already have Yu Hao, get lost!” Fu Liqun very beautifully threw one back at him.
Yu Hao, “…………”
“You get lost!” Zhou Sheng actually didn’t say anything more and their conversation ended just like that.
Yu Hao didn’t have time to ruminate on the meaning hidden within. He turned on the laptop, logged into his email. When the other side received the contract, they asked Yu Hao to add his contact information.
“Zhou Sheng, can I borrow your VPN for awhile?” Yu Hao asked Zhou Sheng while facing him.
Zhou Sheng reached out from his bed and passed his phone to Yu Hao, and his VPN password was on his notebook. When Yu Hao was looking at it while he input the password, he saw that Fu Liqun had sent Zhou Sheng three messages in a row. Fu Liqun suddenly realised that the phone was in Yu Hao’s hand, and immediately glanced at Yu Hao, who was on the opposite lower bunk.
Juurensha: ZS PLEASE JUST ADMIT YOUR FEELINGS STOP MAKING HAOHAO SAD
Dollars: Da fuq ZS?!? Come over here so mama can slap you up the back of the head.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Kum.