At 11:oo the next morning, Qi Xiu Yuan was sitting on the sofa in the living tapping his notebook on the keyboard, when Xiao Li walked out of the room.
“I think you should sleep for a bit longer,” Qi Xiu Yuan moved his laptop to the side, “How do you feel?”
“My head still hurts a little,” Xiao Li’s brow scrunched together, “Where’s the bathroom? My clothes?”
“I’ll give it back to you after it’s washed, you can wear my clothes first,” said Qi Xiu Yuan, “The bathroom is the white door in the middle. You can go shower first, I’ll make something for you to eat.”
It was only when Xiao Li turned around and headed toward the bathroom did Qi Xiu Yuan discovered that on the upper right side of his back, there was a tattoo of a tiger climbing a large mountain. It was full of arrogant, and an overwhelming sense of power encircling it and as Xiao Li’s arm swayed back and forth, the tiger looked as though it was moving; any minute now it was going to leap out.
Looking at that sturdy back, the emotional tranquility that Qi Xiu Yuan had meticulously constructed wavered.
As he quickly restraint his emotions yet again, he walked into the kitchen and heat up the congee that he had made earlier. Then, he returned to his own room to find a set of clothes and a new pair of underwear. Finally, he looked in the cabinet drawer and flipped through it for a new towel.
He knocked on the bathroom door, “Xiao Li, I’m going to place the clothes and the towel on the stool beside the door, in a moment you can ——“
There was a rustling sound on the other side of the door before Xiao pulled the bathroom door open in one quick go, then he grabbed the towel directly from Qi Xiu Yuan’s hands and started to wipe his naked body clean in front of him.
In that torturous moment, Qi Xiu Yuan got caught up in a celestial battle between the urge to look or not to.
Completely unaware, Xiao Li began to grumble, “Your showering water is too cold. I immediately trembled when I turn the water on.”
“A cold shower is good for your health ah,” said Qi Xiu Yuan, without anything better to say as he steadied his eyes. He felt sorry as he watched Xiao Li put on one article of clothing at a time.
A second later, Qi Xiu Yuan swerved his entire body around and entered the kitchen, “Drink a cup of hot black tea first to warm up your stomach.” Then he returned to sit cross-legged on the sofa in the living room and continued to tap away at the keyboard.
Since the black tea was a bit too hot, Xiao Li turned it around a couple of times while asking him, “You’re not attending class today?”
“Today is Saturday.”
“Why is Susu not here?”
“She’s doesn’t break on Saturday so she already left to work earlier in the morning.”
Xiao Li kept turning the cup around and a moment later, he asked again, “Her and Xiao Yang……”
Qi Xiu Yuan let out a sigh and lifted his head to look at him: “Did you know that Xiao Yang wants to go to a different province for work?”
It was evident that he did not know since he became dumbfounded for a moment then asked, “Really?”
“And he wants to take Susu with him.”
Xiao Li continued on to ask, “Did you agree?”
Thinking, Qi Yu Yuan leaned back against the sofa and looked at him for a moment, then he softly said, “Hey, what did you two brothers fight over to reach this point?”
After a while and Xiao Li still did not say anything, Qi Xiu Yuan heaved and let out another sigh, “Actually, when Susu and I was younger, our feelings toward each other weren’t so good. She was always pestering me and I really dislike that annoying side of her so I always bullied her. Later on, every time she saw me, she would cry. Even until now, she really scared of me. Then my parents passed away and she went to live with our grandparents. During those times, we didn’t see each other for nine years, then our grandmother passed away and soon our grandfather followed her. So I went to my home town to get her. There were several female relatives around her age standing together with her, I recognized a few of them but I didn’t recognize her.”
Xiao Li finally drank his black tea; he probably thought that it wasn’t that bad since he finished it all just several gulps.
“Then, it must have been hard for you to take care of your sister alone?”
Qi Xiu Yuan forced a bitter smile, “You might be wrong about that. Although my parents passed away prematurely, they left behind an inheritance for us. Even though the figure isn’t worth mentioning, but its guaranteed to provide the basic necessities for both Susu and I for at least half our lives. If we’re talking about hardship, taking care of Xiao Yang is even harder for you.”
Xiao Li laughed, “What hardship were there? All day long, I was out fighting. All I knew was to give him money. In actuality, I didn’t take care of him at all; he was the one that worked hard in studying. When the neighborhood kids bullied him because he doesn’t have a mom or dad and avoided him since his brother was mixed up with the gangster life, he never even said anything to me. Later on, I saw him getting hit by another guy, so I went over and beat that guy up. Xiao Yang got mad at me and said that I would cause other people to look down on him even more. And he’d even said, I don’t deserve to be his brother.” He laughed mockingly at himself, “You didn’t see the expression in his eyes then……I don’t even know how long he had hated me for to him look at me like that.”
Qi Xiu Yuan snorted.
Xiao Li went onto say, “He never told me about his relationship with Susu before. I went to a restaurant one day and saw them together so I went over and greeted them. I also gave Susu my phone number. To tell you the truth ah, the first time I saw your sister, I knew right away that Xiao Yang definitely likes her a lot.”
Hearing that, Qi Xiu Yuan was a bit baffled, “Why?”
“How can I not understand my brother?” Xiao Li said it in a matter of fact manner, “He likes the type that is simple and pure, with a simple and pure family as well.” The he stared blankly for a moment, “Your grandfather’s situation, did you tell him about it?”
Not admitting to anything, Qi Xiu Yuan dubiously said, “You should give him less things to worry about then, he’s already an adult.”
Xiao Li’s expression became a bit sad which caused Qi Xiu Yuan to resign with a sigh. Then he quietly consoled him, “You’ve provided him with the opportunities to attend college, go abroad, and find a job. Looking at it from that point of view, you’ve already done a lot of good for him, it’s more than enough. Even if Xiao Yang does not understand you at the moment, your parents do.”
“Since I was born, I’ve never met my father. My mother……” Xiao Li twisted his head away. It was only a moment later did he say, “I hope she understand me then. What you’ve said is correct, as long as she understands me, that’s good enough.”
Looking at that dreary figure, Qi Xiu Yuan could make out the pain in his heart, so he didn’t ask anymore. He simply stood up and picked up the empty teacup, “Do you still want another cup?”
Slowly Xiao Li shook his head.
When Qi Xiu Yuan went to the kitchen to get the bowl of congee for him, he could see Xiao Li through the window.
Xiao Li sat silently in the same position and when he sensed Qi Xiu Yuan’s warm gaze, he lifted his head and smiled at him.
Qi Xiu Yuan really wanted to ask him just one sentences; a sentence comprised of only a few words.
‘Then, what about you? What type do you like?’
But he didn’t ask, because not knowing the answer, made him feel that there is hope.