[Chapter 062] He finally understood, it was romantic love
“Probably not,” Bian JinYuan recalled the WeChat message that Bian Jie had sent him.
“Then I’ll stay for another night.”
The initial awkwardness and discomfort that Bian JinYuan had felt when he first bared his house to Lu YunFei had been dispelled after Lu YunFei had spent a day there. In fact, Bian JinYuan even thought that this was nice.
At his agreement, Lu YunFei told his family that he would be returning home the next day.
Mother and father Lu had no opinions, though mother Lu cautioned: Don’t be too much of a burden on teacher Xiao Bian.
Lu YunFei replied: I won’t, I’m such an understanding person~
Lu YunShang didn’t fall for it and sent a jeering and skeptical sticker.
Lu YunFei put his phone away, he couldn’t be bothered to argue with them.
After cooking two vegetables and pouring gravy onto them, Bian JinYuan served dinner to the table. Lu YunFei tasted it and praised sincerely, “If the girls at school knew that you’re not only handsome and get good grades, but that you can also cook well, the people who would want to marry you would probably double.”
Bian JinYuan smiled and didn’t respond.
Lu YunFei continued, “Who knows what type of girlfriend you’ll find in the future. With your personality, you should find someone who’s the gentle type.”
Bian JinYuan lifted his eyes to look at him and said in a low voice, “Bright and outgoing is good.”
“That’s easy, I’ll help you to keep an eye out. I’ll let you know when I meet someone who fits.”
“No need,” Bian JinYuan said lightly, “I’m not in a hurry.”
Lu YunFei couldn’t help it, “Alright then, we’re still young anyway. You could always get into a relationship in university if nothing else.”
Bian JinYuan looked at him, and slowly bent his head back down.
Lu YunFei was still thinking about how he hadn’t possessed the Tmall Genie the previous night, and so he lay in bed early tonight and didn’t chat with Bian JinYuan, going to sleep straight away.
Unexpectedly, he didn’t fall asleep by 9pm, nor did he possess the Tmall Genie. Strange, Lu YunFei thought. What was happening? Did the possession not happen because he was in Bian JinYuan’s house? He couldn’t figure it out, and so he could only push this mystery aside to test this hypothesis when he went home the next day.
Bian JinYuan woke up first as usual the next morning. Lu YunFei was the same as yesterday, nuzzled in his embrace as he hugged him. Bian JinYuan looked at his defined side profile and wanted to reach out to pinch him. Yet, he was afraid that he would wake him up if he did, and so he settled on light furtive touches. Afterwards, he hugged Lu YunFei back.
He actually relished these mornings. Even though it had only been two days, he had felt a sense of quiet enjoyment.
This bed had always only contained him. Now, the boy that he liked lay on it, a precious picture of serenity as he slumbered on. He was so beautiful that he wished to kiss him. But Bian JinYuan didn’t dare to, for fear that he would wake him up.
In fairytales, the sleeping princess would always be woken up by the prince’s kiss, and then they would live happily ever after. But what if the princess woke to find that they didn’t actually like the prince? Or what if the princess didn’t want to be kissed by the prince?
These were factors that fairytales didn’t take into consideration, but were things that Bian JinYuan needed to take into account.
Before yesterday, Bian JinYuan could almost feel a tendril of his feelings towards Lu YunFei, but he didn’t know what kind of love he harboured – friendship or romance? After yesterday, he finally understood, it was romantic love.
It was obvious that Lu YunFei only treated him as a friend. Every action of his was generous; every intention was pure. His every being was put out brightly on display, showing clearly that he treated him purely as a friend with no other complicated feelings. Bian JinYuan looked at the person in his arms and didn’t dare to encroach upon him, afraid that Lu YunFei would reject him, and even more afraid that he would avoid him.
Lu YunFei had probably never experienced being liked by another boy. Bian JinYuan thought that at the very least, they should get more time, as well as to give himself more time, to become stronger. Then, he would confess his feelings to Lu YunFei. Otherwise, based on his current status right now, how did he have the right to drag him down this road.
It wasn’t an easy road, it was a road with traps and mud. Bian JinYuan couldn’t bear to lead his little prince there. He wanted to work hard to coax the brambles to flower, to shine light from within the mud, to roll out a red carpet, before pulling Lu YunFei along forward. According to him, if he could, he wanted to take on all the danger by himself, and only leave the best remnants of the Spring light to Lu YunFei.
When Bian Jie arrived home, Lu YunFei and Bian JinYuan were in the midst of dinner. At the sight of her, Lu YunFei immediately stood up to greet her, “Hello aunty.”
Bian Jie looked at the young man in front of her in surprise, and then looked at Bian JinYuan. This was the first time that she had seen Bian JinYuan bring a friend home. Bian JinYuan explained calmly: “This is my classmate, he was here to do homework and stayed over for the past two days.”
Lu YunFei quickly nodded his head.
Shuang Shuang smiled as he said, “YunFei gege, long time no see~”
“You still remember me huh,” Lu YunFei remarked.
Shuang Shuang replied with an “Mmmhmm”, and walked over to him.
Lu YunFei rubbed his head and thought, this little guy’s memory is not bad. All those nights as a Tmall Genie telling him stories was not spent in vain.
After Bian Jie got over her initial surprise, she regained her warm demeanor to say, “Since you’ve already eaten, I’ll go wash some fruits for you to eat. Xiao Yuan, do treat your classmate well, make him feel at home.”
Lu YunFei quickly said, “There’s no need, aunty. I’m quite full.”
“It’s not a problem. Sit, be comfortable.”
Lu YunFei looked pleadingly at Bian JinYuan who said warmly, “Just eat first, you don’t have to eat the fruits later if you don’t wish to.”
Lu YunFei could only sit rigidly back down.
Shuang Shuang had already eaten, but after seeing how the table had set his favourite foods, pitter pattered to the kitchen drawer to get a pair of chopsticks and a small bowl, and ran back to the table to sit on the small stool. He looked at Bian JinYuan and Lu YunFei and exclaimed, “I also want to eat, I’ll eat with you.”
“Sure,” Lu YunFei replied amusedly.
Bian Jie finished washing the fruits and came back to see them all eating. She placed the fruits on the table and reminded Shuang Shuang, “Shuang Shuang you should eat less, you’ve already eaten.”
“Okay,” Shuang Shuang replied obediently, and only ate a little bit.
After eating, Lu YunFei planned to return home. Bian JinYuan walked him out the door and to the mouth of the alley.
“Go back home,” Lu YunFei said.
“I’ll go after I see you get in the cab.”
He said, and helped Lu YunFei to flag a cab down.
Lu YunFei saw a cab stop for them, said goodbye to Bian JinYuan before getting into the car.
The orange cab moved forward along the road and eventually disappeared from Bian JinYuan’s line of sight. It was then when he reluctantly headed back.
Bian JinYuan had just returned home when he saw Shuang Shuang standing in front of the Tmall Genie, continually asking, “What happened to you? Say something, why are you ignoring me?”
“What’s wrong?” He asked Shuang Shuang.
Shuang Shuang pouted unhappily, “It’s ignoring me,” He said as he pointed at the Tmall Genie.
“Tmall Genie,” Bian JinYuan called out.
There was no response.
Bian JinYuan walked closer to it and called out again with a “Tmall Genie”, yet there was still no response.
He suddenly felt a bit confused as to why it had suddenly cropped up with an issue. He checked the power socket and saw that the Tmall Genie was connected to it. Then, why was this happening?
Bian JinYuan searched for answers online. He tried the numerous methods suggested by other users, but to no avail.
“Should we take it in for repairs?” Bian Jie asked, “But just how can this thing be repaired?”
Bian JinYuan didn’t know. The online users suggested consulting customer service. After the customer service staff understood the situation from Bian JinYuan, they came up with the following solution, “Dear, you could return your current Tmall Genie, I’ll change it out for a new one~”
Bian JinYuan looked at the text in the chat and couldn’t help but think about how he had been passionately accused by the lively Tmall Genie of being a scummy man just a few months ago.
“Can’t it be repaired?” He asked, “I don’t want a new one, I just want it repaired.”
The customer service staff replied, “I’m sorry dear, we don’t make repairs here, we only make exchanges. We can replace it with another one with the same functions~”
Bian JinYuan fell silent.
After a long while, he replied with, “Thank you, I don’t require it.”
He looked at the red Tmall Genie with a faint sense of helplessness as he recalled their last conversation. Back then, it had even suggested for him to bring Lu YunFei home the next day. Now, it had fallen into a deep sleep.
He had actually not taken this Tmall Genie seriously at the beginning. It had only been a toy for Shuang Shuang to play with. However after time had passed, he had somehow found himself used to the presence of the artificial intelligence which would occasionally start itself up and act dumb but cutely. It would mechanically remind him of the time, yet it would also intelligently nag him to go to bed. It could hold a conversation, and could also play some good and bad songs.
Perhaps it had always been plugged in, so it had always exhibited a feisty demeanor. But now, it had stopped talking.
Bian JinYuan recalled the scenarios where it had held conversations with him. He reached out to pet the red Tmall Genie, but couldn’t bear to unplug it. He thought, perhaps one day it would start itself up, and maybe when they called out to it, it could clearly reply with an “I’m here”.
Just like how it had suddenly become quiet.
Lu YunFei couldn’t sleep.
He opened his eyes and looked disbelievingly at the ceiling before swiftly shutting them again, yet he still couldn’t fall asleep.
He had had an inkling of worry since the night before, and now it had become obvious. He didn’t understand why he wasn’t able to fall asleep, nor was he able to comprehend why this was happening despite having had a regular 9pm bedtime. If he wasn’t able to fall asleep, then what was happening at Bian JinYuan’s Tmall Genie? Was it operating as usual, or was it unresponsive?
Lu YunFei wanted to call Bian JinYuan up to ask him, but he didn’t know how to broach the topic.
He had attributed the reason for him not possessing the Tmall Genie while at Bian JinYuan’s two days ago to the location. However now that he was at home, why hadn’t he possessed the Tmall Genie? Lu YunFei didn’t have an answer, but he had the faint feeling that something had started to change.
Lu YunFei finally fell asleep at 3 or 4am, and woke up at 12pm. Bian JinYuan had sent him a WeChat message to ask if he wanted to do homework together today?
Lu YunFei declined, “I can’t go out today, we will be having guests.”
Bian JinYuan didn’t push for it.
Lu YunFei was still hung up on the situation with the Tmall Genie and tried his best to steer the conversation towards the topic, “Oh right, did your Tmall Genie say anything last night? I wanted to play with mine last night, but it kept on ignoring me despite me calling to it. Is yours okay?”
Bian JinYuan commented in surprise, “Yours is also spoiled?”
Lu YunFei sensitively grasped onto the word “also” and said, “Yours also ignored you?”
“Mmm, it stopped talking after you left.”
“It’s not talking even now?” Lu YunFei asked.
Bian JinYuan tried, and then replied, “No.”
Lu YunFei’s heart lurched. He turned towards his Tmall Genie on his desk nearby and called out, “Tmall Genie.”
It immediately responded, “Yes?”
Lu YunFei heard this and felt upset at that moment.
His Tmall Genie was working well today and last night. But Bian JinYuan’s was broken.
He no longer had his second form.
The clock had struck 12 o’clock, the fairy godmother’s magic had lost effect, the pumpkin carriage had reverted into a regular pumpkin, the horses had changed back into little mice, and Cinderella’s dress lost its sparkling shine as she hurriedly fled the castle, leaving only a crystal shoe as evidence of things that had transpired.
But he didn’t even have a crystal shoe.
Cinderella had another shoe, but Lu YunFei didn’t. Even if he did, the only evidence was at Bian JinYuan’s. But Bian JinYuan didn’t even know that it was Cinderella’s crystal shoe.
Everything had disappeared so quickly, without any foreshadowing. The same manner which it had arrived.
Perhaps there was some foreshadowing, Lu YunFei thought. During his first night at Bian JinYuan’s, he had called out to the Tmall Genie. Then, it had become unresponsive.
Perhaps it was during that night when the 12 o’clock quietly struck.
Lu YunFei quickly resumed his normal routine. He no longer had to adhere to a 9pm bedtime. Of course, he was also no longer able to watch Bian JinYuan through the Tmall Genie. Lu YunFei was initially not used to this new change, and would occasionally ask Bian JinYuan, “Is your Tmall Genie alright now?”
“No,” Bian JinYuan would reply, with a hint of regret.
Lu YunFei suggested, “How about I give you a new one.”
But Bian JinYuan had declined, “No need.”
It wasn’t that he was rejecting Lu YunFei’s gift, but that he didn’t wish to have a new Tmall Genie. He clearly remembered how the artificial intelligence had emphasized, if you have me you can’t have others. Even though right now, this artificial intelligence was unable to angrily accuse him of being a scum, he still didn’t wish to acquire a new device.
At least not now.
Bian JinYuan thought that perhaps one day, he would buy a new device. But not now. He didn’t wish to now.
Lu YunFei saw his resolution and couldn’t help it. This entire thing had come and gone so suddenly that he could only accept it without the means to change anything. When the winter break ended, Lu YunFei finally accepted this reality. Yet, he couldn’t help but feel slightly melancholic, like his life was now missing something.
Bian JinYuan had also given up hopes that his Tmall Genie would one day get better after winter break ended, and stored the red Tmall Genie away. He carefully put the machine into a cupboard, and right before closing it, he suddenly thought that he should have given this Tmall Genie a name.
There were so many Tmall Genies in this world, but none of them would cause him to feel for it. As he got older, he would learn about, and possess many things. He would mature and grow more indifferent to his surroundings. But the him right now was still able to express pity and regret over a broken machine. The him in the future would likely be indifferent to it.
“Xiao Ling#,” he said softly, “I should have given you a name. If I had named you before you were broken, I would probably have called you Xiao Ling.”
He took a last look at the Tmall Genie in the cupboard, closed the door, and stood up to prepare for school.
The new semester began, with students basically exclaiming these two sentences, “You’ve lost weight!” and “You’ve gained weight!”
The students who had lost weight were happy, while those who had gained weight sobbed.
He Pan belonged to the group who cried. He was already fat, but had gained another 2.5kg after the new year.
Lu YunFei shook his head as he tsk-ed, “Do you still remember why you were made the sports representative?”
“To become thinner!”
“But in the end?”
“It didn’t happen,” He Pan lamented.
Lu YunFei patted his tummy, “Don’t worry, we’ll be year three next year. Perhaps the pressure from exams will result in you losing weight.”
The class monitor heard their conversation and laughed, “For him, he gains 1.5kg every festival and undergoes a week-long supplementary diet before exams. In the future he won’t be a little fatty, but a big fatty.”
He Pan immediately got attacked like this, so Lu YunFei comforted him, “Don’t worry, you’re not fat, you’re just round.”
He Pan: …
“Oh, let me tell you, there’s a new classmate this semester.”
“Someone new?” Lu YunFei asked curiously.
“Dù Xīn from class six. Apparently she continually ranked within 56th at every exam last semester, so she’s risen to our class.”
“Doesn’t this mean that someone from our class is leaving?” He Pan asked.
The class monitor nodded, “Lǐ Méng is leaving.”
Lu YunFei sighed, “This system is quite ruthless. It’s good for the people rising up, but the ones leaving must feel terrible.”
“It can’t be helped. Who wouldn’t want to join the express class? We’ve just got to work hard. But don’t you worry, you were able to sustain your position in the express class even with failing English grades. Now that your English is improving, you’re definitely safe. It’s just the last few ranked in our class who will probably be in trouble.”
This topic was slightly heavy, and so Lu YunFei didn’t continue chatting with them. Seeing Bian JinYuan arrive, he went to his seat to talk to him.
As expected, Li Li introduced Du Xin during the first morning reading of the semester. Everyone clapped to welcome her, but beneath the clapping was a sense of sadness for Li Meng who had dropped to class six.
Du Xin enjoyed a bit of popularity in the school. She was good-looking and considered to be a pretty girl in the entire grade, plus she had a good background. And so, she received a warm welcome from most of the boys in class one when she arrived. It was just that Du Xin didn’t pay much attention to them. She glanced at the boy at the back of the classroom, and went to search for Li Li in the office after class.
“You said you’d like to change your deskmate?” Li Li asked in confusion at the girl in front of her.
Du Xin nodded, “I’ve just come to class one and don’t know the pace of the classes. My foundation is not as good as my classmates, so I’d like to sit next to Bian JinYuan to let him help me.”
“That’s not possible,” Li Li denied it, “you know that First High’s seating arrangement is based on gender; boys with boys, and girls with girls. You can’t sit with a boy.”
This was set by the school to prevent romantic relationships among the students. It was an unspoken rule even though it wasn’t clearly written.
“Rules are dead, humans are alive. I won’t enter a romantic relationship with Bian JinYuan, so why can’t I?”
Li Li tried, “I can’t help you. Du Xin, please don’t make things difficult for me.”
“Then I’ll ask my dad to talk to the principal,” Du Xin said.
Li Li’s impression of Du Xin fell as soon as she heard that she was bringing her father into this. She looked at Du Xin and said seriously, “You can do it that way. But I hope that you make it clear that firstly, these are school rules, and students ought to follow them instead of trying to find exceptions. Secondly, it’s fine if you wish to be an exception. However, have you considered whether Bian JinYuan wants to be an exception? Does he want to sit with you?”
Du Xin heard this and considered it, and then relented, “Alright then, I wish to sit in front of him, this should be okay right?”
This request was not unreasonable. If Du Xin had initially come to her with this, Li Li would have chosen to agree to it. But now that Li Li had seen how intent she was regarding Bian JinYuan, it didn’t leave a good impression. She had taught Bian JinYuan for a year and a half, and knew that Bian JinYuan wouldn’t enter into a romantic relationship with his personality. But she also wasn’t blind, and knew that with his looks, there would be many people harbouring an unrequited love for him.
Thus, in order to prevent the seeds of romantic relationships, Li Li rejected the notion, “I think that your current seating is not bad. The study monitor sits beside you, while the class monitor sits in front of you. You can ask them both for help if you require. It suits your situation well.”
“So you don’t wish to let me change seats?”
“Du Xin, you’ll be in year three next semester. I hope that you will put your energy into studying instead of in other areas.”
Du Xin scoffed inwardly, and summarised: “I see how it is. I’ll ask my dad to talk to the principal then.”
“Sure,” Li Li said decisively.
Du Xin left the office. Soon, the principal called her to ask her to change Du Xin’s seat.
“Just let her sit where she wants. It’s just a seat, give them some face.”
“I would agree if she wished to sit anywhere else, even if it’s right next to the stage. But she wishes to sit in front of Bian JinYuan. Du Xin’s intent is to sit next to him, and only suggested sitting in front of him after giving in. Principal, you know how Bian JinYuan is. With his grades, he’s set to become the top scholar. I cannot in good conscience arrange for a girl to sit in front of him. If this were to affect his grades, the one who stands to lose isn’t him, but the school.”
The principal started to worry at her words, “That’s true. Bian JinYuan’s grades cannot be affected by this. Alright, I’ll think of something, you do what you think is best.”
“Okay,” Li Li hung up the phone and breathed out a sigh.
It was a good thing that First High was the best school in the entire region, which attracted many families with wealth and power. And so, a single Du Xin wasn’t cause for worry.
More drama! Get ready to sip some tea. Anyway, I continue to suffer secondhand embarrassment at the tone deafness of how the characters and the school treat weight and the students’ freedom to live their lives. The interaction with He Pan sounded a lot more like middle school behaviour instead of high school kids making friendly jabs at each other to be honest. The gender segregation at school to prevent romantic relationships is just so iffy too!
# The Chinese name for Tmall Genie is 天猫精灵 (tiān māo jīng líng, literally ‘sky cat genie’). Bian JinYuan took the last character from the name and attached a common nickname prefix to give it its name 小灵 (xiǎo líng). So the name essentially means ‘Little Ling’.