The lingering light was erased by the rapidly cascading night. The once lilac and salmon sky faded into a vast stretch of inky blackness that shrouded the city. A canopy of brilliant stars freckled the sea of blackness while the cold wind brushed against the water’s surface and created ripples that ruffled the stillness of the surface. It brought along with it the faint smell of the river.
Xiao Li had been sitting at the riverbank for a long while now, smoking the same stick of cigarette. Ultimately, he still couldn’t find any place he could go. Looking out at the water ahead, Somehow, he had wittingly brought himself here. However, only after he arrived did he discover that there was no difference between the surface of the water and the surface of the car’s dashboard. Looking at either, he felt no difference than he did before; that stifling sense of desperation was still etched deeply within him.
While he watched the water, somewhat lost in his thoughts, there were some movements behind him; someone was also near the embankment of the river and was approaching the railing.
Xiao Li did not move until the soft footsteps from behind came to a stop at a spot not too far beside him.
“Xiao Li,” the person remained silent for a long while before finally calling out to him.
Recognizing this voice, Xiao Li twisted his to the side and let his eyes fall on that person’s beaten silhouette before he angrily spoke, “Didn’t I already said that I’ll take it as I don’t know you huh? Don’t tell me you want another beating?”
Qi Xiu Yuan shook his head, seeming as though he wanted to explain himself before he eagerly said, “I didn’t know you were here. I just wanted to come for a walk. I……before……before, didn’t we come here often?”
Remaining silent for a moment, Xiao Li then got up with the intention to leave.
“Xiao Li,” Qi Xiu Yuan drew back a step, “If you don’t like seeing me, I’ll leave.”
Xiao Li watched him for a few seconds, with a cigarette still hanging loosely from his lips.
Qi Xiu Yuan was still at the same stop, not daring to move when he suddenly heard Xiao Li asked in a low voice.
“What do you like about me?”
Those words drew astonishment on Qi Xiu Yuan’s desolate face as he let his eyes lingered on him
“I’m a man,” said Xiao Li again.
“I never took you as a woman,” replied Qi Xiu Yuan almost too immediately.
Xiao Li sneered, “Then could it be that you fancy my dick? Or could it be, you want to fuck me or be fucked by me?”
“It doesn’t matter, I’m fine with anything,” Qi Xiu Yuan took two steps forward, still staring straight into his eyes. Then he started to take off his clothes, while saying, “What I like is you. As long as you’re willing to, it’ll be good no matter who does who.”
Xiao Li couldn’t help but to be at a loss for words; he didn’t expect him to answer back like that. As he watched him take off his shirt and was about to take off his pants, a headache emerged. He couldn’t help but to curse out.
“Get the fuck away, I don’t want to accompany a crazy bastard.”
Once those words dispersed, he sat back down at the river bank and irritably inhaled a puff of smoke.
Looking at him, Qi Xiu Yuan doesn’t know why he had also ran here in the middle of the night, but once he recognized his silhouette through the dimly lit embankment, he became extremely excited.
He couldn’t help but to think.
Could it be, he’s concerned because of me?
With these kinds of thoughts, he remained still.
Although Xiao Li’s tone was cruel and although the wound on his body still ached but his footsteps still refused to take him away from that spot.
As he silently watched Xiao Li, he noticed the empty beer bottles beside Xiao Li which only made it even harder for him to move away.
He thought for a second, then said in a low voice, “Aren’t……aren’t you supposed to not drink?”
Xiao Li sat with his back facing him, not saying anything. The water in front of him casted speckles of light that illuminated his skin one moment, then faded the next, leaving behind a bold and stubborn line that contoured his figure. In that moment, it looked as though he was a papercut figure, shaded in by darkness yet wanted by the lights that shot towards him.
Qi Xiu Yuan looked at him in a daze, trying to imprint this image into his head. Maybe it was the aching that has been crowding his heart, maybe it was the sight of Xiao Li in front of him again that aroused his feeling to come at him with full force. But, in the end, he couldn’t help but to say in a low voice.
“Xiao Li, I love you.”
Barely hearing it, Xiao Li replied back, “Fuck off!”
“Xiao Li —“
“I told you to fucking leave!” Xiao Li irascibly stood up, his own body emitting a dangerous aura as he walked toward him, “Didn’t I beat you up enough this morning?”
Contrary to what a normal person would do, Qi Xiu Yuan pushed his luck instead. He let his eyes follow Xiao Li’s step while he himself stayed calm and still. As he waited for Xiao Li to approach him, he said, “These injuries hurt, but the majority of them aren’t serious. Xiao Li, aren’t you mixed in with the underworld? Why is it that, even after so many punches, none of my bones are broken?”
Xiao Li stared at him in disbelief, then he coldly laughed, “I’ll break your bones now.” After saying that, his foot immediately kicked forth.
Caught off guard, Qi Xiu Yuan retreated several steps until his back bumped hard against a tree truck. Underneath the branches of the tree that shaded him in darkness, he hissed at the sudden pain that emerged. Then with a smiling expression painted across his face and his voice rung with a hint of joy, he spoke.
Xiao Li’s raging mood refused to back off and with Qi Xiu Yuan still repeatedly spitting fire at him, he couldn’t help but to angrily approach him, bent on simply beating him to death.
Just as Xiao Li set foot on the shadow of the tree, a hand vigorously stretched out, seized his arm and suddenly pulled him into a hug.
Xiao Li’s anger rose to an unprecedented level. When he was about to strike back, Qi Xiu Yuan tightened his hold on him.
Pulling Xiao Li even closer to him as to not leave any space between them, Qi Xiu Yuan drew close to the side of his ear, saying, “Sympathize with me okay? Let me hug you for a while, I won’t do anything else. Xiao Li, Xiao Li, have pity on me.”
That voice was hard to describe; it was firm yet fragile, gentle yet unyielding, and even more so, it carried with it, a sense of grievance. Xiao Li’s heart palpitated and he felt a strange pang of fear rose as he listened to him speak again.
“Don’t be angry at me. I didn’t intentionally lie to you, I just wanted you to like me. Since the first time I’ve met you……even if you’re a part of the underworld, even if I was afraid of being troubled, I still wanted you to like me………”
For no reason at all, a burst of sadness pelted down on Xiao Li. Surprisingly he relaxed his body and stopped struggling.
Sensing this, Qi Xiu Yuan’s happiness heightened. He didn’t tightly bind him in his arms anymore, but instead, he loosened his arms and gently held him in his embrace, feeling his breath and warmth.
Darkness enveloped the two, besides the sound of each other breaths, all they could hear was the surging sound of the water and the subtle wind that brushed by.