Qiu Xing should prefer a house with a large courtyard that couldn’t be seen from the outside. After entering the yard, Xie Yang found that the area of the yard was much larger than it looked from the outside.
The front yard of the villa looked ordinary with a lawn, stone-paved driveway and paths, flower beds and small trees. To the side of the villa was a wooden promenade with lights that illuminated the whole courtyard.
The promenade was around 1.5 metres wide and was all wooden. It had a roof and looked very delicate. Outside the promenade was a small artificial lake surrounded by stone that extended all the way to the backyard.
Xie Yang stepped onto the path paved with round slabs, past round flower beds, walked up the promenade along the low stairs and stared at the lake. Qiu Xing followed by Xie Yang’s side, secretly watching his expression.
There were handrails on both sides of the promenade. If he leaned against the outer railing, he could see the water lilies floating on the lake and the koi swimming below. The stones paving the artificial lake were very artistic. A platform paved with stones extended to the middle of the lake. It should be possible to sit there to feed the fish and touch the lotus.
Xie Yang glanced at Qiu Xing but didn’t say anything. He walked along the lake using the promenade and reached the backyard. He saw that the long strip of lake merged into a beautiful oval on the side of the backyard. In the centre was a small fountain. The water was flowing quietly under the lights.
The water in the fountain moved slowly and gently, causing the water lilies below it to float and move.
Xie Yang walked down from the promenade and along the lake to look at the fountain. Then he saw the white spire pavilion built next to the artificial lake. Finally, he opened his mouth and asked Qiu Xing, “Are the artificial lake and pavilion new?”
“The artificial lake originally existed but it was remodeled. The pavilion is new.” Qiu Xing tried his best to hide his tension. “Do you like it?”
Xie Yang smiled and nodded. “Yes, I like it. The fish in the lake are from Jinghe Garden?”
It was perfect. Qiu Xing tried his best to restore the elements Xie Yang liked from Jinghe Garden while adding some small surprises.
The tension in Qiu Xing’s eyes and on his face eased slightly and he held Xie Yang’s hand. “Go inside and take a look?”
Xie Yang nodded.
The two of them walked back to the villa along the promenade. Qiu Xing took the lead this time. He brought Xie Yang to the door, took out slippers from the shoe cabinet and led Xie Yang inside.
This villa was smaller than the one in Jinghe Garden. After entering, there was a porch and to the right of the porch was a living room. The left was a small storage room and the door to the garage. The dining room was directly in front and the kitchen was on the right. To the left was the stairs up to the second floor and on the other side of the stairs was a bedroom.
Qiu Xing directly took Xie Yang upstairs.
The first thing he saw after reaching the second floor was a living room with a sofa and TV. Xie Yang stopped and his eyes fell on several photo frames on the TV cabinet. The most outward facing photo frame contained a teenage Qiu Xing standing in front of a museum with a smile. His hair was cut short and he wore youthful white sportswear.
There was no illness, no loss of his father, his mother hadn’t fallen sick and there wasn’t the burden of Rongding. It turned out Qiu Xing was originally like this. He looked good like he was shining.
Xie Yang said, “I like it here.” It contained traces of Qiu Xing’s past, unlike Jinghe Garden that contained no trace of Qiu Xing’s past.
Qiu Xing felt like Xie Yang’s current expression was burned into his heart. He looked away and suggested, “It is good that you like it… go to the master bedroom to see?”
Xie Yang nodded.
Qiu Xing took Xie Yang to the master bedroom on the second floor. The master bedroom was rearranged after two rooms were opened and became one. It was very spacious with a large balcony. There was everything necessary in the room. The bed was well made, the bathroom was full of toiletries and the cloakroom was full of clothes… it was like two people had been living here the whole time.
“There is a study and piano room over by the living room. Do you want to see it?”
“There is also a piano room?”
Qiu Xing nodded and his body became tense. “Go and see.”
Xie Yang noticed the small change in Qiu Xing’s expression. He raised his eyebrow and remained silent as he took the initiative to walk toward the piano room. Qiu Xing followed Xie Yang one step later while taking in an unnoticeable deep breath.
The piano room was right next to the study. Xie Yang directly opened the door and looked around inside but didn’t find anything special. He felt doubts. Since there was nothing special, why did Qiu Xing make that expression just now?
“I was afraid of buying the wrong piano so I picked the same model from Jinghe Garden. Is it okay?”
Xie Yang’s mind returned and he replied, “Yes.” He stepped forward and turned around, praising and expressing liking for each carefully arranged place. Then he prepared to go out. Qiu Xing blocked the door and requested, “Can you play a song for me?”
Xie Yang stopped and looked up at Qiu Xing.
Qiu Xing’s eyes dodged a bit before he met Xie Yang’s gaze in a composed manner. “Can you?”
There was something.
“Of course.” Xie Yang walked back to the piano. He quickly glanced at it and found nothing special. He sat down and looked over at Qiu Xing. “What do you want to hear?”
Xie Yang smiled. “Do you like this song so much?”
Qiu Xing walked to the piano and was rarely honest. “I naturally like the song you wrote for me.”
“I will write more for you later.” Xie Yang reached out and touched the piano cover.
Qiu Xing instinctively tensed. The piano cover had just opened a crack when a slight floral fragrance floated out. Xie Yang paused and glanced at Qiu Xing before opening it directly. Fragrant lavender and large pale pink rose petals were scattered around the keys. In the middle of the flower petals was a dark blue velvet box.
Xie Yang’s hand that was lifting the piano cover paused. A hand suddenly reached out and took the box from under Xie Yang’s eyes. It was opened to reveal two generously designed diamond rings.
Xie Yang slowly retracted his hand and stared up at Qiu Xing. Qiu Xing’s expression was tense but he didn’t avoid Xie Yang’s eyes this time. Instead, he took a step forward and got down on one knee.
Xie Yang’s hand on his leg couldn’t help tightening. After living for two lifetimes, he thought he could face all situations without losing his composure. Now he felt that his brain was blank and he didn’t know how to react. Such a timid mouse actually did such a ‘stunning’ thing. Really…
He stared straight at Qiu Xing.
“Xie Yang… Yang Yang, I didn’t want to be so hasty but due to yesterday…” Qiu Xing paused and raised the ring in front of Xie Yang. He was very serious but also awkward. “I will work hard to accompany you forever. Thank you. I… I want to stay with you all the time. Can I?”
What a bad confession.
Xie Yang smiled and took a shallow breath. He faced Qiu Xing sideways and reached out to pick up the two rings in the box. He compared the sizes and first took out the ring with black diamonds and a silver bottom. He bent over to grasp Qiu Xing’s hand and put it on him directly. Then he put the remaining black ring with white diamonds onto Qiu Xing’s palm and reached out his hand.
Qiu Xing watched the ring on his finger in a daze and didn’t move.
“I will give you three seconds. I will regret it if I don’t wear it. One, two…”
Qiu Xing’s senses quickly returned. He grabbed Xie Yang’s hand and tried to put the ring on while his hands were trembling from excitement and tension. Finally he managed to put the ring on before Xie Yang counted to three.
The white skin was lined with a ring with white diamonds against a black background, giving a feeling of luxury and abstinence. Qiu Xing couldn’t control his lips. Xie Yang also laughed. He clasped his fingers with Qiu Xing, touched Qiu Xing’s chin and actively leaned in for a kiss.
“Do you want to try it on the floor?”
Qiu Xing’s heart was moved but he forced himself to be patient. “No, you need to rest. There is also no—”
Xie Yang didn’t care that much and took off Qiu Xing’s tie while raising his eyebrow. “It is more comfortable to not wear it. I will be happy if you do this. Don’t you want me to be happy?”
Qiu Xing gripped Xie Yang’s waist tighter.
“If you don’t want to then take off the ring I put on you—umm.”
On the first weekend after moving to a new home, Xie Yang and Qiu Xing went to the sanatorium to visit Mother Qiu. On the way there, Qiu Xing kept holding Xie Yang’s hand, touching the ring on Xie Yang’s finger with a smile.
This was something he often did these days and Xie Yang was used to it. He allowed Qiu Xing to play with his fingers as he held the mobile phone with his other hand and chatted with Qin Cheng on the WeChat voice call.
“It has been negotiated. The album will be released online on August 1st. It will be promoted on the Weibo pages of several music streaming sites and their home pages. In addition, the preview of the main song and the album posters will be released on several platforms. Is this okay?”
“Also, it is almost the first anniversary of your debut. I will hold a small fan meeting for you to promote your new song.”
“I will follow your arrangement.”
After that, Qin Cheng talked about a few magazine shootings, music festivals and other tasks while Xie Yang picked a few.
“By the way, ‘Crazy Musician’ plans to participate in a variety show before the movie is released to promote it. Since Mu Zhouyi is absent, the artist that was supposed to temporarily fill in the spot can’t spare time. Therefore, they want you to help. It is a public welfare variety show called ‘All Walks of Life’. Guests participating in the variety show will be arranged to experience other professions. The ratings and discussions are good. I suggest that you participate.”
‘All Walks of Life’? The crew of ‘Crazy Musician’ didn’t seem to have participated in such a variety show in the original novel.
Xie Yang thought about it for a few seconds before asking, “Is the variety show recorded in B City?”
“Then accept it.”
Before hanging up the phone, Qin Cheng mentioned that he had helped Xie Yang find several variety shows and reality shows. He would sort out their information and send them to Xie Yang later. Xie Yang responded positively and hung up.
“You don’t have to limit your work to B City.”
Xie Yang glanced at Qiu Xing. “I might really believe it if you didn’t use this happy expression to say it.”
Qiu Xing hurriedly controlled his smile while rubbing Xie Yang’s ring finger again.
Xie Yang’s good mood dissipated when he arrived at the sanatorium and saw Mother Qiu. Almost half a year has passed since the Spring Festival. The doctor had predicted that Mother Qiu would be able to last half a year. Despite careful maintenance, Mother Qiu was still almost exhausted.
Xie Yang had been filming outside during this period and rarely had time to see Mother Qiu. He saw her this time and felt that she had become more haggard while her eyes were cloudy and dim. She seemed listless even when clear-headed.
She was leaning against the sofa in the small living room and flipping through a photo album. Seeing them come in, she smiled and said, “Come and sit down. Ah Xing, how is your treatment this month?”
Qiu Xing walked to sit beside his mother. He held Mother Qiu’s hand and replied, “Dr Kirkman said the treatment effect is better than expected. Ideally, the operation can be performed after two more courses of treatment.”
Mother Qiu nodded and squeezed Qiu Xing’s hand. “Very good, it is very good. You get treated well and it will be good. Yang Yang, come here.”
Xie Yang walked to the other side of Mother Qiu and sat down while holding the other hand that she extended.
“It has been hard for you. Thank you. Help me by staying with Ah Xing, okay?”
It was like her final words.
Xie Yang glanced at Qiu Xing, whose eyes were expressionless, and held Mother Qiu’s hand tightly. He sent a part of the ability he had accumulated for Qiu Xing’s next treatment into her body and answered with a smile, “Okay, Aunt… Mom, I’ll stay with him. Don’t worry.”
Qiu Xing and Mother Qiu both stared at Xie Yang.
Xie Yang asked, “What is it?”
Mother Qiu’s senses returned first and she smiled. “It’s nothing. You are good, you… eh? A ring? You…”
She glanced at Qiu Xing.
Qiu Xing finally had some expression on his face. He retracted his gaze in embarrassment, coughed and got up. “You talk first. I’ll pour some water for you.” Then he left straight away.
Mother Qiu was disgusted. “Not promising.”
The two of them accompanied Mother Qiu for two days. During this period, Xie Yang sent his ability into her body in batches, trying to make Mother Qiu’s last days more comfortable. On Sunday night, the two of them went home. After getting in the car, Qiu Xing abruptly said, “There are two months left.”
Xie Yang held Qiu Xing’s hand. “Go and see Mom more in the future. I’ll accompany you.”
Qiu Xing held Xie Yang’s hand tightly and stared out the car window, his face hidden by the night and his expression unclear.
At the end of July, Xie Yang’s Weibo released the first wave of new album previews. On a poster with strong lighting, Xie Yang stood in the centre, half his body in the light and half in the dark.
In the bright place, Xie Yang’s eyes were closed and he was smiling. His skin was fair and smooth, his hair carefully combed and he was dressed luxuriously. He stood on a grand stage with his harms holding a violin bow, as if playing. In the dark, Xie Yang’s eyes were opened and he stared directly at the camera. His complexion was dull and his lips were dry. His hair was messy and short and he was dressed in shabby overalls. He stood in the centre of a devastated city, holding a long iron blade. His exposed wrist muscles were strong and ready to attack at any time.
At the top of the poster, the words ‘Second Life’ were printed while combining the light of both worlds.
Xie Yang’s Weibo page seemed to freeze for a few seconds before it was overwhelmed by the excitement of the Xie fans. The comments broke through the thousands in an instant.
“The response is good.” Qin Cheng put down his phone and glanced at Xie Yang’s fingers. “Do you really want to wear this to record the show?”
Xie Yang looked at the ring on his finger. “Can’t I wear it?”
Someone who usually didn’t wear rings suddenly wore one. This abnormality would definitely be noticed by the keen audience. They would dig deeper and a topic would appear.
“Wear it.” Qin Cheng had already looked away. “The new album is going to be released and you need attention. Any element that can create a topic is a gift from God.”
Half an hour later, a group of people arrived to shoot the show.
The show was directly recorded outdoors and many well-informed fans had gathered. They were behind the isolation fence and surrounded the recording scene. Once Xie Yang got out of the car, the Xie fans rushed to the fence and screamed excitedly.
Xie Yang smiled and waved to them. He was about to step into the centre to meet the staff of the program when a strange sound entered his ears. He frowned, grabbed Qin Cheng who was walking beside him and took a large step to the side.
A water bottle filled with an unknown liquid passed over the heads of the crowd and smashed into the position where Xie Yang had just stood. The bottle cap was open and the liquid inside splashed all over the place.
The fans and staff in the area were stunned. Then the fans screamed and made a commotion. The staff hurriedly stepped forward and surrounded Xie Yang. Meanwhile, Wu Shui was delayed because he was fetching something for Xie Yang from the car. He immediately looked in the direction of the water bottle and stepped forward to chase the person.
Proofreader: Paranoid Kitten