QiYao didn’t head back into the kitchen to bother XiaoYu after the kiss. He knew continuing would lead to no dinner.
XiaoYu could now cook in peace but he tended to think a lot when alone with no distractions. Thus, as he slowly chopped up his vegetables, his mind turned back to the question he was pondering earlier today.
He thought he could use these four days of living in reality, away from the warmth he found in the game, to properly consider whether he should continue this relationship with QiYao. However, QiYao’s sudden arrival turned that plan on its head. The man brought the cosiness from the virtual world to real life.
All of this made XiaoYu’s mind lean more towards continue dating QiYao, but he understood deep down that the greatest obstacle in this path was his secret. Even if QiYao said he wouldn’t force him to spill, if the circumstances were turned around and QiYao was obviously keeping a secret from him, he would feel rather uncomfortable dating the man, maybe even be upset with QiYao.
But XiaoYu had experienced being bombarded and swarmed by well-meaning media before. He knew that peeling away the scab would only hurt him. He reminded himself over and over back then. Don’t ever say anything to anyone about it. Tell no one.
That was why there was a tiny voice in him that kept telling him to “not tell QiYao about it”. Now, however, now he had an urge to tell QiYao about it all. He wanted this relationship to be transparent. He just didn’t know when to speak up or how.
Perhaps his hesitation made him miss a good chance to open up time and again. He hated being so weak, so he made up his mind. He won’t be lost in the fog anymore. He’ll find a chance to tell QiYao about everything.
Having made his decision, XiaoYu focused on the blade in his hand. He actually didn’t cut himself at all after all that thinking. Amazing.
Three ordinary home-cooked dishes with a bowl of soup. While they didn’t look as grand or exquisite as something cooked from a professional kitchen, the homely scent topped all other food.
QiYao placed a slice of tomato omelette and placed it in his mouth, slowly savouring its flavours. He then looked up to find XiaoYu standing to a side, nervously staring down at him.
“It’s delicious, XiaoYu.”
“Phew. That’s good,” XiaoYu said in relief. He tried hard to remember just how much salt and sugar he should put in, but everyone had different preferences. Since QiYao can accept this, that meant it was a success.
“Don’t just stand there. Come eat with me.”
The meal was spent in silence, but both men were equally moved by it. It had been so long since any of them had a meal with someone at home. XiaoYu knew it had been over a year for him. As for QiYao, he couldn’t remember.
Ever since he moved out of his home, he would regularly eat out with his friends or get takeaway. Even before when he lived with his brother, the two of them rarely ever cooked themselves. They would either eat meals made by a hired cook or order takeaway. Meals were just a way for them to replenish their energy. Occasions where a loved one would cook for them were near improbable.
After this meal, QiYao wanted to treasure this kid even more. XiaoYu had brought too much light to his life for XiaoYu to be gone ever.
Clean up after their dinner was much simpler. XiaoYu just had to put everything in the dishwasher. The machine will automatically clean them. When XiaoYu confirmed the dishwasher had started its cycle without issues, he stood up and looked over to the living room where QiYao was watching the television once more. However, the only shows to be found after dinner were boring and repetitive variety shows. The man hopped from one channel to another then to another and another.
Was this a good chance for a talk? XiaoYu wasn’t sure, but he had finally mustered up the courage to speak. Who knew when the next time he’d have the strength to open up would be?
“Yao…” XiaoYu said as he walked over to QiYao, successfully attracting the other man’s attention.
“Yes?” QiYao asked with a questioning gaze.
“I’ve something to tell you.”
QiYao’s hand on the remote control paused. He sensed that what came next would be important.
“I’ve thought about this a lot. I have to tell you. That way, you can properly evaluate whether you want to continue this relationship with me,” said XiaoYu. His heart ached at the last sentence. His hands instinctively twisted and squeezed the bottom of his shirt. He was afraid. Afraid QiYao would think he was a cowardly idiot. Afraid QiYao would take back what he said. But he didn’t want a paper wall to stand between them anymore.
XiaoYu’s fidgeting betrayed his insecurity. It made QiYao’s heart hurt. He turned off the television and stood up. Then, he pulled XiaoYu into a tight embrace. He hoped his actions could give the other man strength.
XiaoYu hands curled around QiYao’s back. He loved this warm and cosy hug that always made him feel safe. It’s also because of this hug that he hoped he could be found worthy of it.
“I…I’ve never told this to anyone before. It might be a messy story.”
“It’s okay.” QiYao gently kissed the uneasy head in his arms. He knew what he needed to do now was to listen.
XiaoYu took in a deep breath. He arranged the messy thoughts in his mind before deciding to just start from the reason.
“I’m afraid of the cars outside.”
That was way out of QiYao’s expectation. Still, he kept quiet and continued listening.
“My parents died in a car crash caused by a car going out of control…” The thought still brought pain to XiaoYu, even to this day. “It happened right…before my eyes.”
“From then on, whenever I see a car, my legs would start shaking. They would go limp. This afternoon, I wanted to try walking outside, but a few minutes before you arrived, a black car passed by. I immediately collapsed. No matter what I did, I couldn’t stand up. I know there’s nothing wrong with my legs, but I just can’t push past the fear.”
XiaoYu understood just a few sentences could describe his issue, but the pain and suffering behind it all was something no words could explain. How could anyone who hadn’t personally experienced it understand how he felt? This thought was what made him keep quiet and bear it all.
XiaoYu inhaled and continued, “I’m sorry, Yao. I didn’t mean to keep refusing your invitations, but I certainly can’t go out like this.”
“Silly billy, you don’t have to keep apologising. I never once blamed you, right? Because I knew you had to have a reason for it.” Only, not even QiYao could’ve imagined just why.
QiYao had considered many possibilities. It could be family issues or physical limitations. The only option he never thought of was a mental trauma. That’s because there were plenty of methods of dealing with the previous two options. Even if XiaoYu was terminally ill, with how advanced the medical field was these days, all “fatal illnesses” could be cured if you had the cash for it.
On the other hand, psychology was still a very much mysterious and unexplored field. The development of mental traumas, their symptoms and the way to treat them were all heavily dependent on the patient and the doctor. It was very hard to have a 100% definite resolution.
“T-Then…will you…be willing to keep dating me?” XiaoYu stammered. He was terrified of hearing “no”.
When QiYao heard XiaoYu’s voice trembling, his arms tightened around further. He really wanted to just put this little idiot in his pouch so they could be together at all times.
“XiaoYu, do I make you that insecure?” QiYao asked.
“No,” XiaoYu replied, shaking his head. “I just felt you wouldn’t be the time to like cowards.”
“You’re right. I don’t like cowards.” When QiYao felt the body in his arms stiffen up, he continued, “But I have never ever felt you were a coward, XiaoYu. On the contrary, I think you’re a very strong man.”
“But…I don’t even dare to step out of my own home.”
“It’s not that you don’t have the courage to. You tried this afternoon, didn’t you?” Now that QiYao knew the reason behind that, he planned on using his own way of slowly leading XiaoYu to getting around the issue. “XiaoYu, you just can’t go out alone because no one can help you up when you fall. But you don’t have to worry now. With me by your side, I would never leave you alone.”
“Never…leave me alone?” XiaoYu dazedly repeated.
QiYao couldn’t have imagined just how big of an impact those words had on XiaoYu. All the pain, loneliness and helplessness XiaoYu had felt since his parents’ deaths all surged up at once. He had clearly told himself that men can’t cry, but his tears kept flowing like water rushing out of a dam. It was an uncontrollable and endless torrent.
“Yes, XiaoYu. You’re not alone anymore because we will always be together.” QiYao was going to continue saying how he’d help XiaoYu overcome his trauma, but he could feel his shirt getting wet. And so, he swallowed those words back to give XiaoYu some time to let loose.
QiYao didn’t think it was shameful for men to cry, especially when he knew XiaoYu had been suppressing his emotions for a very long time. Releasing those emotions might be helpful to the other’s mental health.
- Tomato Omelette: Technically, tomato fried egg. More accurate translation, scrambled eggs with tomato. Actual texture, omelette cooked with tomatoes diced/sliced and mixed in. One of the most common dishes in a Chinese home (Asian? Not too sure on other cultures). This is usually one of the first dishes one learns because it’s easy and nutritious. There’s not much skill to it as it’s just premix everything in a bowl and when it’s being cooked on the wok/pan, just move it around so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Depending on the chef, it’ll either come out looking like an omelette or scrambled eggs.
- Kid: It’s seriously hard to not make XiaoYu sound like some minor. “Kid” and “child” are used so often by others that it’s hard to remember he’s actually an adult. Losing original writing tone + adding own words vs making sure nothing illegal happens = struggle some BL translators have to deal with.
- Embrace: The number of hugs there are in the recent chapters have seriously challenged the limits of how many ways I can phrase a hug taking place. Still, hugging is good, guys. Just not now or whenever you’re sick. Use elbow bumps, the dorky equivalent that’s been constantly advertised in conventions.