Lin Xi was still slumped on the little round table writing his apology, while Duan Shen went on a video call with his employees. In the middle of the call when everyone else was talking, Duan Shen got up to get a glass of water in the living room. The computer’s camera pointed at the bookshelf so that everyone on the call got an eyeful of it.
When Duan Shen came back, one of the department heads turned around and pointed at the bookshelf in surprise, “Mr. Duan, where are your books?”
Duan Shen’s eyelids lifted. “For now they’re in the storage room.”
The corners of the man’s mouth twitched. “Aren’t those all out of print originals from the book market? You’re spoiling your son a little too much, aren’t you?”
A sliver of shock passed over Duan Shen’s face, “My child?”
“We all heard it last time.” The guy grinned slyly, “Do all those figurines belong to your son?”
Duan Shen didn’t confirm or deny, but turned to look at Lin Xi, who was still in the middle of writing his apology. His eyebrows were fixed in a frown that hardened his face.
Lin Xi was pushing at the cap of the fountain pen with his mouth. His eyes, however, had been pointed in the direction of the desk, showing a great deal of interest in the man and his employees’ conversation. He hadn’t expected Duan Shen to turn back suddenly, and quickly dropped the fountain pen, making an apologetic, remorseful face.
Even so, he didn’t manage to avoid a scolding, “Sit straight. What are you doing, making faces like that!”
Lin Xi huffed, hunching over to place his chin directly on the table. Taking advantage of being in the blind spot of the camera, he turned his face towards Duan Shen, lips twitching into a smile, and then shouted at the top of his lungs, “Dad, I want to eat cherries!”
His face blank, Duan Shen turned to his video chat. “Organize the project plans and then hand them over to Su Heng. Have you gotten in touch with Fang Ruolian yet?”
Su Heng nodded. “Yes. He’ll be over tomorrow.”
“All right. We’ll wrap up here today.” Duan Shen ended his video feed, then stood up and started walking out.
Disappointed, Lin Xi pursed his lips, and started writing once again at top speed. He didn’t even look up when he heard the other man’s footsteps returning.
It was only when the plate landed on the table with a ringing sound that he unconsciously raised a hand to cover his writing, then raised his head to trace the source of the sound. When he saw the luscious red cherries in the plate, he couldn’t help but stutter, “You…you really got me cherries?”
The other man’s eyes looked downwards, right at where his hands were placed, “What did you write?”
Turning his head, Lin Xi mumbled a response, “You’ll see.”
After speaking, he quickly flipped the paper over, hiding the page full of words, before heaving a sigh of relief to himself. His face still felt hot as he pinched a cherry and threw it into his mouth.
He looked up again to realize that Duan Shen was still staring at him with the same blank face. Puffing up his cheeks, Lin Xi spat a knotted cherry stem into his hand, pushing it at the man with the obvious intent of changing the topic, “See, I can tie it into a knot with my tongue,” he said proudly.
As he said this, he hesitated as if recalling something vivid. Raising his eyes stealthily, he tried to detect any change in expression on Duan Shen’s face, yet could see nothing. Somewhat disappointed, he drew his hands back and sighed, “I almost forgot. I told you the same thing when I was sixteen.”
“You must not remember anymore, though.”
“Hm.” Duan Shen said, seeming lost in thought.
The disappointment on Lin Xi’s face only grew. Right when he was about to change the topic and find a way out of it for himself, he glimpsed a small shadow in the corner of his eye.
The next second, he was pulled out of his chair by the other man. On hand on the desk, Duan Shen’s other hand went past the round table and grabbed him by the back of the head as he leaned in, completely silent, for a kiss.
After a long time, he stepped back slightly. The hand that was on the back of his head landed near his lips, his thumb wiping away the saliva that had been caught between them as their tongues intertwined. His voice was hoarse. “It doesn’t count if you just tell me that you can tie knots with your tongue. I need to try it to make sure it’s true.”
He sighed softly. “When you were sixteen, I wanted to say that as well.”
The most beautiful romantic declaration is probably no better than just calling your name.
Whoever the fuck quoted that snappy line deserves a nice gift of oranges*, Lin Xi thought to himself.
Author’s footnote: Xi Xi here isn’t very well-read. The best he can do is “I’ll give that guy some oranges” (lol)
* I think it’s a Chinese thing that we give oranges to people? They’re also often used as one of the foods put on display at temples, as well as to your elders.