Chapter 29 Learning
“Yep, that’s the long and short of it.” Ren Zhouyuan was in the living room after putting An An to sleep. Leonid hadn’t even changed his clothes. He already looked quite tired while sitting on the couch, and after Ren Zhouyuan had explained everything to him he seemed even more exhausted.
“Understood.” Wiping his face, Leonid smiled at Ren Zhouyuan. “Thanks for all the hard work. Has it been easy settling in these few days?”
Ren Zhouyuan observed his expression, feeling embarrassment rise in his heart. This man was looking forward to seeing An An so much. If it weren’t for An An, they wouldn’t be here talking to each other. But he hadn’t taught the boy correctly, and that’s why things had ended up like they were now.
He nodded. “An An’s got the temperament of a little boy, don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to him.”
Leonid waved his hand, his expression unbothered. “An An is right. I should learn Chinese. Both of you speak Chinese, and you speak Russian as well. There’s no reason for you to privilege me, right? Don’t worry, I’m not angry.” He looked at the time. “It’s quite late now. An An has gone to bed, you should rest too.”
He’d already said so much that adding more would just seem unnecessary. Even so, Ren Zhouyuan felt quite sorry. Looking at the place they’d just been standing, and at the luggage in the doorway, a thought came to his head.
“Have you eaten yet?”
“Hm?” Leonid hesitated, shaking his head. “The moment I got off the plane I came home. By the time I got back it was too late.”
For some reason, Ren Zhouyuan felt that the way he said this was quite pitiable. He thought about it for a moment. “I’ll make some noodles for you.” Leonid was prepared to protest, but he stood up quickly. “It won’t take long. You go ahead and wash your face, change your clothes, and I’ll be done.” He didn’t wait for Leonid to argue with him, walking quickly into the kitchen.
Leonid’s lips curved up in a smile. Obediently he took his luggage out of the doorway and upstairs to the bedroom.
Finishing his cooking, Ren Zhouyuan found that Leonid was already waiting at the table. He walked over with the noodles. “I don’t know what your tastes are like, so I didn’t put anything spicy.”
In consideration of how big Leonid was, Ren Zhouyuan had cooked three portions. The bowls at home weren’t big enough, so he just brought it out in the piot. Looking at the noodles, Leonid’s face twitched. In silence he picked up his chopsticks and prepared to eat.
He ate quickly, but with elegant posture. Ren Zhouyuan wanted to wait until he was finished to start cleaning up, but seeing that he’d managed to finish off a fifth of the portion in a single bite, he decided to wait at the side until he was done.
Leonid had a very sculpturesque face. Looking at him from the side, his nose stood up tall, cheekbones prominent. His eyes were deep in his face, his dark brown lashes low, covering his eyes that were so different from An An. Eyes that were usually cold, but so warm when he looked at An An.
This was the first time Ren Zhouyuan had seen Leonid in casual clothing. Last time when he visited the Chuangke base he still wore a simple collared shirt. Now he only wore a whiteT-shirt with joggers. Such a simple outfit made him look like a different person to Ren Zhouyuan.
Sure, he was still a bear. But instead of a big black bear he was a polar bear. Even though his savage nature was unchanged, a white layer of “fur” somehow made him seem more approachable.
From that day onwards, Leonid’s main task was learning Chinese. No matter if he was at work or at home, Ren Zhouyuan could always see him with an “Easy Steps to Chinese” textbook reading through vowels. Reading elementary school student materials with zero expression on his face was a sight that was more than just a little humorous.
Their relationship with An An was still the same: one of them careful and negotiating, the other avoiding him at all costs. It wasn’t until Ren Zhouyuan scolded An An a few more times did he have to “descend”, no longer hiding behind Ren Zhouyuan, instead showing his little face at all turns.
Leonid was hardworking. Within a week he could say some simple phrases. As an acknowledgement for his effort, Ren Zhouyuan became a bridge between the two. In the end he managed to coerce and convince An An to greet him as “Uncle*.”
It wasn’t quite “Daddy”, but the fact that An An was paying attention to him made Leonid incredibly happy. Stifling his excitement, he kept nodding, his glowing eyes selling him out.
It was enough to move Ren Zhouyuan. He had a few more conversations with An An, the two of them negotiating back and forth, finally reaching a consensus.
He found Leonid in the living room. Seeing that he was reading sentences with difficulty like they were tongue twisters, he wanted to laugh even as much as he was impressed.
Leonid put his book down when he saw him, smiling at him a little defeatedly. “These little ‘blocks’ are giving me a headache.”
Ren Zhouyuan laughed. When he passed by Leonid’s study a few days ago, he saw him outlining words with a ruler in his hand. At the time he almost laughed out loud, but fortunately he didn’t have the bad habit of exposing people. Picking up the book, he glanced over it. “These textbooks are all based around grammatical rules, so they’re both boring and impractical.” He gave his book back. “Back when I was learning Russian, I learned the basics of grammar and then went on forums to read novels online. While I read I looked up all the words I didn’t know. It’s faster when you read and learn usages in real time.”
Leonid rarely heard these personal stories. His eyebrow quirked, and he asked a few more follow-up questions.
The two chatted like normal friends, the atmosphere forcibly lighthearted in a way that was actually quite pleasing. After chatting a bit, Ren Zhouyuan weaved his intentions into words, and took the opportunity of when Leonid was complaining about how difficult Chinese was to suggest, “I was thinking, if someone practiced with you, you might be able to learn faster.”