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On their way, the two of them visited the Duan family’s hospital to check on Lin Xi’s grandfather. Duan Shen left after a bit of polite conversation, while Lin Xi stayed seated near the bed and called Lin He on video chat so he could talk with old Lin.
After a while, the old man’s squinting eyes seemed to tire. Phone still in hand, Lin Xi backed out of the room. The video on his phone was still going. Hesitating, he looked around, then plugged his earphones in and sat on the bench outside the ward. “Bro.”
Lin He’s eyes shifted away from the files next to him. “What, did you beat Zhang Ye into paralysis?”
Lin Xi said nothing.
“No?” Lin He rubbed his chin, seeming almost disappointed. “Is it that there’s no more money in your card?”
Lin Xi glared at his brother. “Lin He, can you come up with nothing good?”
“Of course I want to,” Lin He sighed, “It’s just that my brother is so hopeless. Since I got that phone call ten years ago from your homeroom teacher, I’ve basically banished all hopes I had for you.”
Lin Xi was silent.
“Are you really flat broke?” Stretching out his long legs, Lin He leaned back in his chair. “Then ask Duan Shen for some money. I’ll just give it back when I get back.”
“He won’t give me any money.” Lin Xi said with a snort. He stretched a little, then cleared his throat. “Bro, what did you say to Duan Shen to make him agree to marry me?”
Lin He regarded his brother for a silent moment, then smiled, his hand under his chin, “I didn’t say anything. He just nodded yes on his own.”
“Yeah right.” Lin Xi kicked at the ground irritably. “If you didn’t say anything, why would he say yes? Is he crazy or does he want to be my dad?”
Lin He raised an eyebrow. “Who knows? Maybe he really likes you?”
“That’s even less likely. Even less likely than liking you.” Lin Xi snorted again, then glanced at the screen. His expression darkened. “Lin He, are you even listening? Are you awake?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Lin He responded begrudgingly, “How do you know he doesn’t like you?”
“I heard it with my own two ears.” Lin Xi crossed his arms and chuckled. “You were there too.”
He repeated what he had heard back then to his brother, word for word. Lin He listened with a squint, saying nothing. Just when Lin Xi thought he must be asleep, Lin He suddenly looked up. “Oh. Well.”
“You didn’t hear what happened next. Duan Shen wasn’t talking about you,” he added, with a teasing smile, “That day we saw the Zhang family’s youngest son on the street, so–” he dragged out his words, “We were probably talking about him.”
“It sounded a lot like me,” Lin Xi mumbled.
“You didn’t hear what we said next,” Lin He said, exasperated. He stretched his legs and straightened up, suddenly serious. “What I said was, ‘Isn’t Lin Xi the same way? He’s only in his teens and he’s already swaggering like a spoiled young man.’”
Lin He, back then in his twenties, had made fun of him, “And you still call him Xi Xi, Xi Xi. I’m getting goosebumps from it!”
Duan Shen, back then in his twenties, had responded quietly. “That’s different.”
“Hm?” Lin He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “How so?”
After a few moment’s pause, Duan Shen stood up. “How so? You’ll know in the future.”