Chapter 35 Journey
After talking with Leonid, Ren Zhouyuan officially dismissed any thought of leaving. An An was growing more and more outgoing, and their time together was becoming more pleasant as well. Plus, there was another reason Ren Zhouyuan couldn’t deny even if he wanted to.
He was falling for Leonid.
He couldn’t remember the last time he felt this way. Since having An An, the only thing he had been able to think about was surviving. Any other thought became inconsequential before reality. Now that their life had improved, he was beginning to experience all sorts of feelings again.
Living a comfortable life, he felt like everything he looked at made him happy. When Leonid handed him a stack of cash significantly increased from the amount they’d agreed on before, he just stared at him for a moment before taking the money.
He knew Leonid was doing it out of guilt. Perhaps he was having delusions, but he had this feeling that Leonid wanted to support both him and An An. So when he’d originally thought he would be conflicted for a while more, in the end he agreed to keep writing.
Although he’d suddenly come by a streak of fortune, his usual spending habits were so frugal he couldn’t even think of anything to spend it on. Recalling that he’d promised An An to go to the amusement park after he had taught Leonid Chinese and seeing as it was currently An An’s summer break anyways, Ren Zhouyuan made the suggestion that they could go to Disney.
Just the sound of this made An An’s eyes glow bright. He clapped his hands again and again, hugging Ren Zhouyuan tightly.
Of course Leonid found out about this from An An. He didn’t ask Ren Zhouyuan if he could go too, instead going and starting to pack up. Only when he was finished did he ask Ren Zhouyuan calmly, “How many days is the break?”
Ren Zhouyuan counted the days. It was a little over a week from when An An’s school started up again. If they went for two days and one night, accounting for the three or four days on the road, it would be just right.
Leonid nodded, picking up his phone to go and make arrangements. Ren Zhouyuan was used to him arranging everything, but always felt as if there was something wrong. Standing in front of his suitcase, he thought for a moment before coming to the realization–
“Let me pay for the trip!”
Of course in the end Leonid didn’t let him pay for the trip. He put together quite a reasonable argument: the plane tickets were bought with airline points, the Disney tickets were from a client beforehand, and the hotel came with the tickets. So by the time Ren Zhouyuan got onto the plane, the only money he’d spent was buying water at the airport.
“Why in the world are we going to Japan?!”
Ren Zhouyuan was originally thinking he’d either go to Hai City or Gang (Port) City, and if they had some extra time they’d drop by the aquarium. But it wasn’t until he got the tickets and passport that he realized Leonid had planned for them to go to Japan.
“And how did you get my passport?” Ren Zhouyuan was dumbfounded. This man managed to do so much without him even so much as realizing. If he’d gotten more time to prepare, they’d probably be in America by now!
Leonid arched his brows. “It’s a short trip this time, so let’s go to Japan. We can go to America next time.”
Ren Zhouyuan: “…” How I understand your thought process at this point.
He sighed. Seeing An An read the little booklet introducing Japan on the plane, he couldn’t help but give it up as a lost cause.
Just like usual An An was well-behaved, watching his cartoons and sitting up for a snack every once in a while, leaving him without much to do. Usually he’d use the opportunity to work on some writing or take a nap, but since he was so unoccupied he decided to observe the two who sat beside him.
Leonid sat in an aisle seat. Since the plane took off he started working on his laptop. An An sat between them, watching cartoons with a bag of peanuts in his arm. They were doing completely different things, but from where Ren Zhouyuan was sitting they bore an astonishing similarity.
Their brows furrowed, their lips pressing together. When they were deep in thought, they’d lick their lips and blink at almost the same frequency. Looking at them, Ren Zhouyuan couldn’t help but marvel at the wonder of genetics.
Reaching out, he pinched An An’s cheek. An An was immersed in his cartoons. His chin nodded toward Ren Zhouyuan in an attempt to fend him off, and Ren Zhouyuan couldn’t help but stoop down for a kiss on his face.
When he looked up he noticed Leonid looking at him. For a moment he was uncomfortable, pretending like he hadn’t seen and turning toward the window. Only his beet red ears gave him away.
Getting off the plane, the three of them went straight to Disney. Ren Zhouyuan noticed that Leonid had only booked one double room, but didn’t think much of it. He took the room card and followed An An up.
They had arrived quite early. An An had been excited since the moment he’d seen the gates. The moment they had put their things down in the hotel, he pulled Ren Zhouyuan around, whining to him about going out to play.
Ren Zhouyuan was accustomed to his way of doing things. Since they were going to stay here for a night, he wasn’t in any rush to go out. Seeing this, An An abandoned him as a lost cause and attacked their other companion, running up to him and pulling him outwards by the fingers.
Now it was Leonid’s turn to be shocked. Even though he had been getting along with An An fine, but other than An An’s forced reliance at him for the event last time, he still didn’t have much of a place at home. It seemed almost impossible that the boy was approaching him of his own volition.
Without hesitation he threw down everything he was unpacking, leaning over to scoop An An up in his arms and walk toward the door. When he reached the doorway he finally turned around. “Let’s go. We can unpack when we get back.”
Ren Zhouyuan was dumbfounded. Only when Leonid spoke up did he nod, following behind them like a spell had been cast on him. That was when he realized he was still holding An An’s clothes in his hands. Turning back, he folded them and unpacked a few things before catching up with them again.
Because it was the holiday, the amusement park was positively packed. An An kept trying to get to the ground level and run around. Leonid was afraid he would get lost among the crowd if he ran around, so instead he picked him up and put him on top of his shoulders. At 6’4”, he was more than tall enough for An An to see everything in the park, and so he stopped whining.
Following behind the two of them, Ren Zhouyuan felt like everything he thought was true beforehand was falling apart. He’d always heard that Russians loved their families, and had heard Leonid repeat countless times how he valued family. But now he was witnessing for himself that what the man had said wasn’t a lie after all.
Leonid’s obviously Western face and envy-worthy height turned him into the center of attention. That and his similarity to An An made him quite noteworthy to passerby. Ren Zhouyuan tried desperately to hide, but unfortunately An An wanted to share everything with his dad. It was impossible to ignore his loud cries of “Daddy”. In the beginning Ren Zhouyuan tried to pretend he didn’t hear anything, but eventually he numbed himself against it. He didn’t know any of these people anyways, so it didn’t matter what they thought.
Leonid was a great companion. He didn’t speak much and was willing to do anything. No matter whether it was the merry-go-round or roller coaster, he’d go on everything. Ren Zhouyuan could tell he was truly happy, although he couldn’t tell if it was because he was doing these things with An An or if he was just doing his best to shorten the gap between them.
They spent the whole afternoon playing around. The amusement park was huge, and it didn’t look like anything would slow down until the park itself closed. Seeing how long Leonid had been carrying An An, Ren Zhouyuan wanted to take him over. Just when he was walking over, he heard the sound of a phone vibrating.
He glanced at his own, but there weren’t any notifications. But the endless vibrating became more and more obvious. Walking closer, he finally realized it was Leonid’s phone.
Taking An An over, he used his gaze to hint that his phone was ringing. Leonid glanced at the screen before turning it off again and squatting down to ask An An what he wanted to play with next.
At first Ren Zhouyuan didn’t think much of it. But Leonid’s phone only started to vibrate more, and it became more and more difficult to ignore.
He glanced at Leonid’s pocket again and again until eventually Leonid noticed what he was doing. Sighing, he made an apologetic gesture and put An An down, picking up his phone.
Before long he was back again. It was a surprisingly short time given how frequently the calls were coming.
The whole thing seemed over then, but when the three were lining up for the next attraction, Leonid’s pocket started vibrating again.
Leonid pretended he hadn’t heard, but Ren Zhouyuan was incredibly bothered. When it started ringing again, he said, “If there’s something you need to take care of I can take An An to play first.”
Leonid glanced at him, then down at An An. After a moment he sighed.
He pulled out his phone. Just when he was hesitating whether or not to hang up, Ren Zhouyuan finally got a look at who was calling: Natasha, the fiance he’d almost forgotten.