When Lin Xi was little, Duan Shen said the same thing to him, telling him to be good. Back then, Duan Shen only called him Xi Xi.
Strangely enough, Lin Xi’s brother Lin He called him Lin Xi at first. Only after Duan Shen started calling him Xi Xi did he follow suit.
Back then, Lin He always stroked his chin, puzzled, “This is weird. I’m not even using such intimate nicknames, so what’s the deal with you using them? He’s a good little boy who’s being called a girl’s name.”
But when Lin Xi was young, he really did enjoy hanging around Duan Shen more. When Duan Shen was reading at his desk, Lin Xi would come up from behind and throw his arms around his neck, lying on his back. That was when Duan Shen would say in a low voice, without looking up from his book, “Xi Xi, be good. Go and play on your own.”
Lin Xi slept over with the Duan family sometimes. When he would lie in bed, refusing to get up, Duan Shen would sit next to him and pat him on the cheeks, “Xi Xi, be good. Get up.”
When it was Lin Xi’s birthday, he would put all the cherries on the cake on Duan Shen’s plate, then smear all the icing on his face. Duan Shen would then push him down onto the sofa with a frown, “Xi Xi, don’t cause trouble.” Then he would pick up the cherries in his plate and feed them to Lin Xi.
Lin Xi would chew on the cherries, then spit the stem onto his hand, presenting it to Duan Shen as if it were a present. When he spoke, he’d get close on purpose. “Look, I can tie knots with my tongue.”
Lin He, who was busy at the time, came in and grabbed the stem, calling his full name, “Lin Xi, do you like your brother more or Duan Shen more?”
Hugging Duan Shen’s arm, Lin Xi grinned. “I like Duan Shen.”
Lin He was so mad that he turned and left.
When Lin Xi was in his teens, he did actually have a crush on Duan Shen for a while. The year he was born his parents both died in a plane crash. Because his brother and grandparents all spoiled him, he grew into a crooked teenager and lagged behind in his studies to become a lazy, unrestrained rich kid.
Lin Xi didn’t care what they thought. He was always late to arrive and early to leave, handing in his exams blank. Occasionally he’d flip over the wall to go play games at an internet bar. The rest of the time he spent imagining how he could openly kiss Duan Shen.
After a long time, he finally came up with a good idea. But when he was skipping school and coming home early one day, he heard Duan Shen and his brother talking in the living room from where he stood outside the door.
“If he’s fighting and skipping class to go to bars right now and learning all the bad habits of second generation rich kids, all he’ll be able to do when he’s twenty is live off his inheritance and become an idle kid who can only ask for money, drink, and mess around,” said Duan Shen, his tone cool.
Squatting outside the door, Lin Xi counted the things he was saying. He finally realized with disappointment that he might really become a good-for-nothing like that.
Hands on his numb knees, he stood up and headed toward the school. He made up his mind then and there to no longer like Duan Shen. He had already grown into Duan Shen’s least favorite type of person, and would never be able to kiss him openly without guilt and shame.
During break that month, Lin Xi didn’t come home. The second day, he had found a girlfriend. When he was taking a walk with his girlfriend down the street one day, he bumped into Duan Shen. Duan Shen had distanced himself from him so much that he called him by his full name, Lin Xi. In his deep, beautiful eyes was estrangment and coldness that seventeen-year-old Lin Xi could not acknowledge.