Hearing this, Leonid sat up straight, a probing look in his eyes. The look was enough to see that he was thinking in the wrong kind of direction, and Ren Zhouyuan waved his hand. “I meant you and An An.” This was something he’d managed to negotiate with An An after a long discussion and several conditions.
Although it wasn’t Ren Zhouyuan who was willing to practice with him. Leonid’s eyes lit up even more. “Is that okay?”
Ren Zhouyuan nodded, but an embarrassed look came over his face again. “You’ll have to keep An An here though.”
Leonid didn’t understand at first, only getting it after a few seconds. He smiled in exasperation. “Sorry.”
The second morning, Ren Zhouyuan got a phone call from Fan Wenfeng. It was only then he remembered he hadn’t told him that he had moved. They hadn’t really talked since the whole “Sikong” thing got resolved. After some planning, he decided to leave An An at home with Leonid, and made a lunch date with Fan Wenfeng so they could go over everything together.
Just seeing An An’s face before he left, and the sheer expression of betrayal, made Ren Zhouyuan want to laugh.
When he reached the rendezvous point, Fan Wenfeng had already been there for a while. Catching sight of him, he started to complain, “You didn’t even tell me that you moved? I could’ve helped you. Where did you go?”
After a moment’s thought, Ren Zhouyuan decided not to go into it. “Just near the company. I was thinking that there wasn’t much stuff, so I didn’t want to bother you. I’ll invite you over sometime.” He took some tea. “Last time I promised you that I’d buy you a meal, so don’t even argue with me on this.”
Fan Wenfeng shook his head with a smile, not really intending to argue with him anyways.The media company he was working at ended up suing “Sikong”. Originally they were prepared for the arduous legal process that usually accompanied defamation. Unexpectedly, several scholars showed up that were similar to the archaeology team from back then, proving that Ren Zhouyuan’s article hadn’t plagiarized theirs. In the end this “Sikong” person ended up deleting their comment online. The whole thing ended like some kind of comedy: starting with a bang, ending with a whimper.
Thankfully, the end result was good. Ren Zhouyuan’s appearance made the company’s leadership value the writer behind “Anyi” even more. Although it was quite a bit of pressure on Fan Wenfeng’s back, he ended up with many more assignments to choose from, and became a more expensive writer to boot.
His intentions behind asking Ren Yuanzhou to lunch were to celebrate the move, reconvene after a long time not seeing each other, and also so they could discuss their work.
“Do you remember the assignment I told you about earlier? The one that was one topic, two different approaches.” Fan Wenfeng handed Ren Zhouyuan a document. “Beforehand when we were dealing with the whole ‘Sikong’ thing, I rejected all the projects you had on hand at the time. Other clients didn’t reach out again, but this one was the only one that persisted. Since you weren’t very busy recently, I wanted to bring it for you to take a look.”
Ren Zhouyuan’s eyebrows shot up. Of course he remembered this. Back then he mocked Fan Wenfeng for forcing the topic, but still gave some thought to potentially writing it. Flipping open the document, the more he read the tighter his brows knitted together. Although the client hadn’t listed their name, the content was inexplicably familiar.
“You turned this down?” He asked after he finished reading it.
Fan Wenfeng shook his head. “The first time I did, but they didn’t give up after that and kept emailing me. I saw how eager they were and wanted to ask your opinion before I made any decisions.”
Ren Zhouyuan was almost 100% sure that this invitation was from Vichy. The first time Fan Wenfeng had showed it to him, there was only a title. Perhaps because they’d been rejected at first, this time they included far more information. Other than leaving out the client’s background, the rest of the content was all inside.
Fan Wenfeng pointed. “I thought a lot of the stuff in there was pretty similar to your current work so it shouldn’t be too hard to write. They’re also offering good pay. Personally I think it’s worth it.”
His hands clenching tighter, Ren Zhouyuan thought for a moment before raising his head. “All right, I’ll take it.” He followed up quickly, “But don’t tell them my real identity! I’ll send you the draft after I’m finished.”
Fan Wenfeng thought it was an odd request. When had the pen name “Anyi” ever revealed his true identity? But since he was taking the gig anyways, Fan Wenfeng didn’t think too much of it, happily toasting with him to his new home and his new assignment.
Packing the document up, Ren Zhouyuan bid him farewell and them went home. He sighed while looking down at the paper in his hands. Somehow after going back and forth, he was bound even closer to Leonid than before.
“I’m ba…” He opened the door to his home. Before he could even finish, he could hear An An screaming.
“It’s EGG, not AGG! Why are you so dumb?” An An sat on the couch, chewing on an egg. His brows raised in a condescending look, he glared at Leonid. Seeing that Ren Zhouyuan was back, he crawled off the couch and flew to embrace him. “Daddy you’re back!” Saying this, he pointed accusingly. “He’s too stupid, I don’t wanna teach him Chinese anymore!”
“An An,” Ren Zhouyuan rubbed his head in exasperation, “You can’t talk about him that way. When you don’t know something in class do your teachers call you stupid?”
An An pouted when he heard this, muttering, “An An’s not as stupid as him!”
“You’re back.” Leonid walked over behind An An, glancing at the file in his hand. “Have you eaten?”
Ren Zhouyuan instinctively hid the file behind his back before realizing it was kind of a stupid move and laughing awkwardly. “Yeah, how about you guys?”
Leonid nodded. He didn’t fixate on Ren Yuanzhou’s motions just now, turning around again to bother An An to teach him how to read.
Looking at them, the adult and the child, Ren Zhouyuan thought that perhaps he was worrying too much about things. Maybe he should sit Leonid down and talk to him about his past, bit by bit.
*Honorific in China for men of an elder generation.