Loneliness - LightNovelsOnl.com
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Two days after Yuan Yuan returned from A city, Xiao De and Olivia returned to T city. This time, they didn't stay there for long because there weren't any direct flights to places where they could have fun.
They went there and sunbathed every day. It was about to snow in T city, and it was so cold that everyone was frozen stiff. So they hurriedly booked return tickets.
Xiao De said that he wanted to treat Chen Dong Lan to dinner to thank him for taking care of him these past few days.
This wasn't Xiao De's style, and after asking carefully, he found out that it was his father, who was also Chen Dong Lan's stepfather, who had told him to do so. He also said that if he didn't bring back the receipt from the restaurant at which he treated Chen Dong Lan to dinner, he would be beaten till he wouldn't be able to step on the clutch of his car.
As the older brother, Chen Dong Lan's first reaction was to refuse. But after finding out Uncle Xu's intentions, he agreed.
Because they weren't close, appropriate formalities needed to be carried out.
Dinner was set at seven that night, so Chen Dong Lan wasn't in a hurry. After work, he went as usual to buy vegetables, then cooked.
Yuan Yuan was was.h.i.+ng the vegetables with him. Noticing that Chen Dong Lan only cooked a cup of rice, he asked doubtfully, “Why are you only cooking for one person?”
Chen Dong Lan had not told Yuan Yuan yet. “My brother is going back. Today, we'll be eating out.”
Yuan Yuan nodded. “What time? I'll send you there.”
“No need.” Chen Dong Lan said naturally.
Yuan Yuan was helpless. He couldn't be as stubborn as him.
When it neared eight o'clock, Chen Dong Lan put on his coat, and with an “I'm going out”, he prepared to leave. Yuan Yuan recalled the weather that day and went to the room to get a scarf. He walked directly to Chen Dong Lan, pulled at his shoulder and wrapped the scarf around his neck.
Half of Chen Dong Lan's face was buried in the woollen scarf, with only a pair of eyes visible and an expression so blank it was laughable.
“Don't get a cold again.” Yuan Yuan helped him adjust the scarf, pressing it below his chin.
Instead, Chen Dong Lan bent his head and pulled the scarf up again, hiding half his face. “Thank you…”
He opened the door to leave and almost tripped over the threshold.
Chen Dong Lan walked in the cold wind, but his face was hot. Even by the time he met up with Xiao De and Olivia in the restaurant, it hadn't completely returned to normal.
“Ge.” Seeing him, Xiao De's mouth lifted into a smile. He pushed a finely-packaged box towards him. “We bought something for Ge when we were there. Olivia chose it, and she said you would like it.”
Xiao De was not such a considerate person, and Chen Dong Lan knew that this was Uncle Xu's intention. Not refusing, he accepted the box. “Thank you. You've gone through a lot of trouble.”
Olivia clung to Xiao De and said sweetly, “Gege open it and see.”
Frankly speaking, Chen Dong Lan didn't really like Olivia, but in the end, she was Xiao De's girlfriend. He said politely, “Let's eat first. We'll take a look after we finish eating. Thank you.”
Olivia pouted but didn't say anything.
This time, Xiao De and Olivia again ordered some imported liquor. Chen Dong Lan wanted to order plain water as usual, but Olivia held down Chen Dong Lan's menu and said smilingly, “I know this restaurant has a type of famous fruit drink. I'll help Gege to order it.”
Seeing her being so enthusiastic, Xiao De thought that she was trying to express some goodwill towards his Gege, so he followed up. “That's very good. Ge, let her order for you.”
Chen Dong Lan felt that Olivia's enthusiasm was strange, but since Xiao De had supported it, he nodded and agreed. “I'll have to trouble you.”
Olivia happily looked over the menu. Seeing her so happy, Xiao De also had a big smile on his face.
Chen Dong Lan couldn't help but let his worries go. Relations.h.i.+ps were like this. No matter how improper outsiders felt something was, as long as the involved parties enjoyed it, others had no right to criticise.
After a few minutes, the waiter brought Chen Dong Lan a gla.s.s of an orange drink, exuding a fruity fragrance. It tasted like soda but he didn't know what it was.
As they ate, Xiao De asked suddenly, “Ge, have you ever thought of visiting Mom and Dad?”
Chen Dong Lan wasn't sure if Xiao De wanted to ask this question or if it was his mother and stepfather. But he hadn't seen them since the third year of high school and felt that it was also unnecessary in the future.
“I'm very busy at work, so I'm afraid I don't have the time to go.”
Xiao De didn't seem to believe it. “Doesn't your company have annual leave? Even if you don't stay overnight, just three days is enough.”
“That's too tiring, having to waste two days travelling. Meeting Mom and Uncle Xu in that condition wouldn't be good as well.” Chen Dong Lan took a mouthful of the drink and deliberately skipped this topic. “You've already graduated. What will you do now?”
His brother's reply made him embarra.s.sed and hearing him ask about his work, he found it even harder to speak about it. “We're still making preparations for our band.”
He studied music and had been in a band with his friends during college. It seemed to be one thing, but in fact, he was just using it as an excuse to play around and wasn't really doing anything.
Chen Dong Lan didn't know that it was because of this that he was embarra.s.sed, so he said encouragingly, “That's good. Keep it up.”
“Okay…” Xiao De said half-heartedly, wanting to change the topic, but he realised that Chen Dong Lan didn't look right.
“Ge, why is your face so red?”
Chen Dong Lan put a hand on his forehead. It felt very hot. “It does seem like it a little.”
Since the beginning, he had been dizzy. Thinking that it was because of the dim lights, he didn't take much notice of it.
Xiao De nodded and didn't seem to care either.
After another few minutes, the discomfort became gradually more intense, and Chen Dong Lan frowned, holding his head in his hands.
Olivia's eyes widened and chuckled. “It's starting to get to Gege's head.”
“Ge?” Xiao De remembered and picked up Chen Dong Lan's half-finished orange drink, bringing it to his nose for a sniff. “Via, this is not a fruit drink. It's alcoholic.”
Olivia laughed merrily. “Yes, this restaurant's super famous alcoholic drink is very deceptive. Those who can't drink will not be able to tell that it's alcoholic. Moreover, it's percentage is not low.”
Xiao De looked serious. “Via, apologise to Gege.”
Olivia knew that he was a paper tiger and continued laughing. “Sorry, Gege. I sincerely apologise to you.”
Chen Dong Lan frowned, his headache and dizziness worsening and he was unable to express that he understood Olivia's words.
Seeing that Chen Dong Lan wasn't angry, but instead uncomfortable, Xiao De was a little worried. “Ge, are you allergic to alcohol?”
Chen Dong Lan shook his head.
Xiao De heaved a sigh of relief. “That's…”
Before the word “good” came out, he heard a thud, and Chen Dong Lan slumped into the table.
“Ge!” Xiao De jumped up from his seat and Olivia was shocked.
Chen Dong Lan had just knocked his head and sobered up a little. He wanted to sit up straight but couldn't bring himself to do it. “Xiao De, sorry…I may need to go home first.”
Xiao De held him up. “Okay. I'll send you home.” Olivia was asked to settle the bill with his card and was reminded to keep the receipt.
Chen Dong Lan knew that he couldn't make it home alone, so he didn't refuse.
“I live in…” Chen Dong Lan recited his address as if he were reciting a textbook, then felt so uncomfortable that he couldn't make another sound.
Olivia quickly settled the bill, and with difficulty, the two of them half carried and half supported Chen Dong Lan into a taxi.
The house wasn't far from the restaurant. The taxi travelled for only over ten minutes before arriving. But even in such a short time, Chen Dong Lan had already fallen asleep against the window and couldn't be awoken.
Xiao De didn't know which floor Chen Dong Lan lived on, so he asked Olivia to pay some extra money to the driver and requested for him to wait a while. He remembered that Chen Dong Lan had mentioned that he lived with a friend, so he searched for his phone in his pocket and looked it up in his address book.
Originally, he thought he would need to make many calls before finding his brother's roommate, but Xiao De looked through the phone records and found that for a very long period of time, Chen Dong Lan had only contacted him and a person called “Yuan Yuan”, so he called Yuan Yuan directly.
As soon as he explained the situation, Yuan Yuan hung up. Within two minutes, he appeared before the taxi.
“h.e.l.lo…” Xiao De saw Yuan Yuan and greeted him cautiously.
Yuan Yuan ignored him and went directly to check on Chen Dong Lan. He was, in fact, “drunk till unconscious” as said over the phone. His red face was against the window, his breathing short and fast, and it was uncertain if he had fallen asleep or fainted.
“He goes down with a gla.s.s. As his brother, don't you even know this?” Yuan Yuan commanded Xiao De. “I'll carry him. You give a hand.”
Xiao De was ashamed and helped him to lift Chen Dong Lan.
After stabilising him on his back, Yuan Yuan's tense expression finally relaxed a little and allowed the frightened Olivia's mood to go back to normal.
“Thank you for sending him back.” Yuan Yuan threw out before striding away. Xiao De hurriedly followed him.
Yuan Yuan glanced at him. “I don't need help. You can go back.”
Xiao De felt guilty. “I need to see if Ge is alright before I can feel at ease.”
Yuan Yuan frowned slightly, hesitated for two seconds, but did not reject him.
Xiao De turned to instruct Olivia, “Via, go back to the hotel and wait for me.”
With only a sentence, Yuan Yuan had already walked a distance. Xiao De had to trot to keep up.
With Chen Dong Lan on his back, Yuan Yuan could feel his breath, warm and humid with the sweet smell of alcohol.
Originally, he was very angry. But he didn't have much difficulty in carrying Chen Dong Lan even though he was a tall man, and his heart softened.
Really…he couldn't relax for a minute and had to watch him all the time.
After entering the house, Yuan Yuan laid him on the bed and asked Xiao De to help with his shoes. He went to get a wet towel and helped Chen Dong Lan wipe his face.
The towel had been rinsed in cold water and it might have been too cold. Every time it touched his forehead, he would turn his head slightly and groan.
Xiao De took Chen Dong Lan's shoes off and asked awkwardly, “This…where should I put it?”
Yuan Yuan pointed towards the door and said, “There's a shoe rack with slippers in it. You can change your shoes at the same time.”
Xiao De bent his head glancing at his boots and was even more awkward.
After changing his shoes, he went back to Chen Dong Lan's room. Yuan Yuan was sitting at the bedside tucking him in. Xiao De felt redundant, but he couldn't just turn and walk away. He stood by the bedside watching his brother in distress.
“Xiao De, can I call you this?” Yuan Yuan suddenly spoke to him.
Now, Yuan Yuan was much friendlier, making Xiao De relax. “Yes, so how do I address you?” After saying that and realising that he already knew his name, Xiao De said with familiarity, “I'll call you Yuan Ge.”
Yuan Yuan: “…”
Was this really Chen Dong Lan's brother?
He coughed. “Your brother will be alright after resting for a night. You can go.”
Xiao De nodded, not in a hurry to leave. “I'll stay for a little while.”
After exchanging names, Xiao De breathed smoothly and was refreshed. He no longer felt uncomfortable staying here. He looked around Chen Dong Lan's room, and familiarity filled his heart.
In fact, there had been a time when he wanted to know his brother better. At that time, Chen Dong Lan was in high school while he had just gotten into middle school. His parents forced him to study every day in order to lay the foundation for going abroad. Because of this, he became very rebellious. Chen Dong Lan did not speak more than a sentence to him in a week and was cold and mysterious in his eyes. Thus, his brother's room became the target of his exploration. “What was hidden in Gege's room” became the secret that he wanted to know.
Now, even after more than eight years, once he recalled it, he again became that curious child who didn't dare to approach.
Xiao De saw that Chen Dong Lan was sleeping steadily with his hands and feet placed neatly and couldn't help laughing. “My brother was like this in the past as well. Whatever posture he was in before he slept would be the posture when he woke up. At that time, although his was a single bed, it became sufficient for two. He always tucked his hands and feet under the quilt, huddling into a lump and leaving a lot of s.p.a.ce on both sides of the bed.”
Xiao De recalled endlessly, and seeing that Yuan Yuan appeared like he wanted to hear it, he said it in one breath.
“Actually, Ge's room has nothing special. The only thing I found strange was his bookshelf. It was full of social science and popular science books. But unexpectedly, there was a collection of poems there, and it was love poems. I've always remembered the name, “Portuguese Sonnet Collection”.”
Yuan Yuan did not have any outward reaction, but he was surprised. He knew how boring the type of books that Chen Dong Lan read was. Since living together, he only read Chemistry books and never touched any literary works, let alone a collection of love poems, which was entirely out of tune with him.
Xiao De stood up and looked for it on Chen Dong Lan's bookshelf. “Ge put that collection of poems in a very conspicuous place for three years when he was in high school. I'm not sure if it's still around.” He went through the books from the highest shelf downwards, seeing many old books with damaged covers, and finally found the “Portuguese Sonnet Collection” at the corner of the shelf.
He pulled out the book in surprise and handed it to Yuan Yuan. “See, there really was this book of love poems. I didn't think that Ge would keep it for so many years.”
Yuan Yuan didn't take it. He and Chen Dong Lan never touched each other's personal belongings, which was agreed upon in the beginning. But Xiao De obviously didn't have the same idea. He wouldn't search through Chen Dong Lan's closed cupboard, but he thought nothing of taking out an old book from the open bookshelf.
Since Yuan Yuan didn't take it, Xiao De didn't force it into his hands. He set aside the poetry collection and searched through the other books with great interest.
The old collection of poems was right in front of Yuan Yuan, and it was different from the versions he had read before. Half curious and half driven by his love of reading, Yuan Yuan finally picked up the book and started looking through it.
The pages inside had yellowed, and there was a unique smell of staleness when opened. Yuan Yuan flipped the pages and stopped suddenly at a page containing a newspaper clipping.
Was it a bookmark made by Chen Dong Lan?
Yuan Yuan turned over the newspaper clipping. After reading its contents, his heart started to beat wildly, and he slammed the book shut.
His fingertips trembled.
It was a newspaper clipping that had become fragile due to age.
Grey ink and block letters.
The newspaper clipping came from his and Chen Dong Lan's junior high school, and it was a school newspaper issued internally within the school. The part that was cut out was about Yuan Yuan. That year, in his second year of junior high, he broke the four hundred metre record during the school sports meet. In that issue of the school newspaper, it had been reported in a very small area, with a blurred picture of him standing on the podium.
That year, the section was clearly about him, but he didn't pay much attention to it. But, someone else had cut it out and hid it in a collection of love poems.
Something was being vividly portrayed here.
There were many things in the world waiting for a rare opportunity. Once missed, it would be put on hold forever.But once it began, it could not be controlled.