Edited by AlexPT
He fell in love with a boy seven years younger than him.
It was estimated that he would arrive at 1.16 pm. Guo Jinshan looked at his wristwatch as he sat on a train bound towards Taipei.
A child suddenly popped up from behind and laid against the headrest of his seat, waving at him gleefully while giggling happily. He turned back and smiled at the child, reflexively lifting his arm to wave back, only to remember that he was holding something within his palm.
It was the name card of a pastry store. Because he had forgotten to write down its address this morning as he left the house, he had to turn back home.
This store was a famous store located near his previous school. During his thesis defense, he bought cakes from there, offering them to the panel as dessert.
That Sunday night, after he sent Jiang Pozhen off, he called and reserved an 8-inch whipped cream cake. When he came back to his senses, he discovered that he had done it without thinking.
Usually, at this time, he would have already been at work. His office was in a research institute, where there were a lot of seniors who led and took care of him. The work itself was fulfilling, and a few months ago, there was an opportunity for him to return to the university to support their research. But he had turned it away.
Yet today, once it was his lunch break, he stood in front of his superior to request for leave. Without thinking about it, he then went back home to take the name card, buy a ticket, and boarded the train. Only to realise that he brought his briefcase along as well.
“Please return to a place where I can see you.”
Jiang Pozhen’s whisper from days before dwelled deep in his mind, sounding repeatedly since that night. Guo Jinshan’s face heated up, and he could only press onto his reddened ears.
The moving carriage swayed gently. Although he could not clearly hear the grinding of the wheels on the train tracks, he could feel the light vibrations. It was as if they were coming from afar, dull and muted. If he were to put words to it, it seemed as though they came from the depths of deep waters.
That helped to calm him down. Blinking his eyes and releasing his grip, Guo Jinshan leaned back against his seat, turning his head to look towards the scenery flying past his window.
Half a year had already passed…
Because he fell in love with a boy younger than him by seven years, he decided to leave. Originally, he didn’t plan on returning, so why was he on this train now?
He had still wavered… because of the boy’s wish.
That pair of compelling black eyes, gazing at him in the darkened room, almost broke his heart.
The boy hugged him for the entire night. Though they did not do anything, Guo Jinshan was so flustered that he could not sleep. In the quiet of the night, there were only the overlapping sounds of their heartbeats. He secretly caressed the boy’s fingers that were around his waist. Suddenly, he wished desperately for time to preserve this moment.
The two of them were enough, there was no need to worry about anything else, nor what would happen tomorrow.
But in the end, dawn still broke.
The next day, the boy drove him to work. On the way, the boy said, “I really want to kidnap you back home right now.”
He thought it was a joke, but his hand was suddenly grasped tightly.
“I’m serious. It’s fine if you don’t want to come back, I’ll just find a way to stay by your side.”
His fingerprints imprinted onto his skin. The promise was too grave, and Guo Jinshan could only stare in shock at the boy’s adamant side profile.
This boy who originally could not accept him, why did he have such an intense gaze?
The boy had asked him, had he ever wondered about the reason why he visited him every week.
How could he have not wondered before?
The first week returning home after graduation, the boy had appeared at the gates of his childhood home. It seemed that he had gotten the address from his senior. Even though he could not forget the kiss from that boy, he had thought the visit was just that at first.
However, it happened once, twice, thrice. Every week that boy would come as if to show his sincerity. Using any and every excuse, even one of staying over and getting to know his parents. Guo Jinshan had thought over that reason countless times until his head was completely filled with that boy’s figure.
The boy who once said that being with him was boring and a waste of time, was now over the moon as long as he was able to see him. As their gazes met, he could not overlook the joy shining in his eyes. However, he could only turn away, afraid.
Originally, the boy only dated him out of pity and sympathy. During his studies, because he liked him too much, even though there wasn’t any reciprocation of his feelings, he never rejected any opportunity to be with him. That ephemeral yet elusive happiness then disappeared in an instant, leaving behind a pain that seemed to be punishing him for his greediness.
The moment he discovered the attachment he shouldn’t have for the boy, he knew that he should never say it out loud. If it wasn’t that accident when he was drunk, the boy wouldn’t have ever known.
If his feelings were a secret, the boy surely wouldn’t stare at him that intensely, right?
Now, he had no idea how to face that boy who looked at him like that.
The train had arrived. Deep in thought, Guo Jinshan almost forgot to alight. Following the directions stated, he navigated through the complex tunnels. While queueing to buy a ticket to change trains, someone accidentally crashed into his arm.
“Ah, pardon me!”
Guo Jinshan, who was bumped into, apologised first, yet that person only grunted and left without a second glance.
Standing on the platform, Guo Jinshan suddenly recalled his first meeting with the boy.
Because he had received his help unexpectedly during his lowest point, he had been left with an unforgettably deep impression. In possession of the ID of the good Samaritan who helped him, although he looked forward to personally returning it and giving his thanks, he never thought that he would encounter this stranger who he knew nothing about in school two months later.
If that occurrence had never happened, two people from the same university might never know each other even after walking past the other. Nevertheless, as if it was pre-arranged, he, in a different year and major, coincidentally had the time to help out as a proctor and went to a classroom where the boy had his exams. As their gazes met, he was really shocked.
As strangers to each other, with such a slim chance of meeting again, he never thought that they would see each other again. He was elated with immense joy.
Perhaps, because of this coincidence, he wanted to get to know this boy better.
When he was a student, due to his frail body, he often had to be on bed rest. He was sent to the hospital a few times and even had to take leave from school for surgery. When he came back to school, he always felt left out. For him who had never successfully understood human interaction to take the initiative to get to know someone, doing this required a significant amount of courage.
As the two of them had never interacted, he pleaded with the professor to let him be the teacher’s assistant for this class. This way, he could increase the chances of seeing the boy. However, maybe because he had approached it wrongly, every time he wanted to talk to the boy, the boy would always furrow his brows. After trying a few times, he realised that the boy might dislike him, and thought that perhaps he was too forward. He was seven years older, could young people like the boy think there was a generation gap between them? The more anxious he was, the less it went well. He had even harmed the boy, causing him to lose his job.
He became extremely disappointed with himself, as his actions caused the boy to be irritated with him. He had thought there were no more chances left for him. But when he finally became friends with the boy, he had felt it was the best thing to happen.
His simple feelings slowly turned into an even deeper anticipation.
When he found out that the boy had a girlfriend, he was devastated to the point that he wanted to cry. This profound sadness made him come to the sudden shocking realisation that he loved the boy.
Although he had found out about his feelings, he simultaneously had his heart broken. To tell the truth, there actually was no difference. Because, no matter what, the boy could never find out about his love for him.
No matter the cost.
He liked him, yet he could never say it out loud. It was fine if they stayed as friends, and he was satisfied with that. For this kind of thing to actually happen to him, his depressing thoughts only deepened his infatuation.
Thus… at that time, he thought he was in a dream.
The person he loved was right there, and the degree of closeness was something that he never felt before. It filled him with emotion, and he couldn’t endure anymore, so he confessed to the boy in his dreams. However, it wasn’t a dream, but reality.
He thought he would never forget the dumbfounded look on that boy’s face
Because they were both men, the boy naturally was unable to accept it.
He was completely rejected. This serious offence caused their friendship, which had taken such effort to build, to crumble into nothing. He wasn’t even able to greet the boy or have chat with him anymore. Feeling deeply lonely and mournful, he couldn’t forget the boy. He also blamed himself for this irreparable outcome.
He passed his days in a state of despair. Although he lost all hope, his infatuation with the boy did not lessen at all. Later, when the boy suddenly wanted to date him, he became even more melancholic.
The boy only felt sorry for him right? He was that kind of person. He didn’t enjoy going out with him, yet he still forced himself to do so.
He knew the boy was forcing himself, yet he wasn’t able to deny him. It was hard being unable to see the boy, yet finally seeing him was painful as well. He worried perpetually, and the boy’s fickle mood finally made him understand that they were at their limits.
Due to his physical disability, he did not need to go through military conscription. It just happened that his professor introduced him to a job located near his hometown, and anyway, it was better if he left this place.
Even if he was unwilling, even if he was sinking in sorrow, he had to give up.
Because it was his only option…
Guo Jinshan shook away his memories. As he entered the university’s gates, he saw gardeners trimming the leaves of the tall coconut trees along the pathway.
Jiang Pozhen’s department was by the left side of the main gate, just the opposite direction from his lab. When he was the teacher’s assistant, he always had to walk a long distance to reach the department.
Strolling in the campus, he reminisced about the past, as well as giving himself time to prepare. What should he say after seeing the boy? If he couldn’t find the boy, he… would just go back.
Due to his impulsive actions, he came here. Guo Jinshan didn’t know what he was feeling timid over. It was just that, even if they were mutually in love, they were still both males.
He loved this boy deeply, yet he never thought of the possibility that they would be together. Since he realised he had feelings for the boy, he already decided to hide them. Even if he attained the boy’s affections now, it was impossible for him to easily think of them as lovers.
He could take responsibility for his own life, but that bright young man should have a better future.
At this point, Guo Jinshan felt a wave of grief.
He had love, but he lacked courage; he was rational, so he couldn’t foresee a perfect outcome. Could he bear the responsibility of all the regrets between them?
Because he was older than the boy, because he was the first to fall in love, he always stewed over these thoughts continuously.
Standing in front of the department, Guo Jinshan’s steps faltered.
Thus, when he saw Jiang Pozhen walking out, he subconsciously wanted to find a place to hide. Hiding sideways against the wall next to the gates, he saw a young girl calling out to the boy.
The girl was stunning With the boy next to her, they looked like a couple. The two of them were like a painting’s main attraction, and they posed a picture pleasing to the eye.
The girl looked a little familiar. Guo Jinshan slowly remembered it, he had seen her photo before — in the boy’s wallet. At that time the boy was helping out in the reference room. Afterward, he had taken away the photo. Guo Jinshan had also never asked him what had happened between them.
The girl was the boy’s girlfriend. Were they still together? Or did they just happen to bump into each other? Was the boy chasing after him, while still being together with her? Or did the boy not want to be together with him anymore, and decided to reconcile with her? What… were they saying?
His thoughts were in a mess. The only clear thought he had was that he should leave immediately. However, he was stuck to the wall stiffly, unable to take the first step.
He wanted to hear their conversation, but with his weak hearing, he wasn’t able to get anything from this distance.
All this time, he had been steeping in the despondent ambiguity the boy had brought to him.In an instant, it all flew away due to the reality in front of him. The tips of Guo Jinshan’s fingers grew cold.
The boy was originally heterosexual, and only he was the one who was strange. If he told the boy now, that he didn’t have any feelings for the boy, then his life wouldn’t be influenced by him anymore; if he took on all the responsibility…
As he lifted his head dazedly, the boy had just walked through the gates. Guo Jinshan watched him as a wave of pain overflowed from his chest.
Shocked to see him, the boy asked after a long while , “Why are you…?”
Guo Jinshan was flustered. What could he say to him? Because of his wish, so he came?
“I took leave for half a day… I, I ordered a cake. Because it may spoil, I’ll collect it later… No, uh… happy birthday,” he spoke incoherently.
Then he saw the boy looking at him, smiling with a hand against his temples.
… Was it because he was very funny and amusing, to have come all this way just to see him?
Gripping the handle of his briefcase, Guo Jinshan morosely lowered his head.
“－－Come with me.”
The boy suddenly grabbed his shoulder, bringing him to a toilet in the corner of a corridor. Guo Jinshan felt uneasy and confused. As he was pulled into a cubicle, he could only gaze at the boy helplessly.
“Although the location is quite horrendous… it’s the only place without any onlookers,” the boy murmured quietly against his ear.
“Hmm?” Because of his closeness, Guo Jinshan immediately blushed.
The boy sighed.
“…You cannot blame me. If you want to celebrate my birthday… I want to make another wish.”
Guo Jinshan’s shoulders were circled, and the boy pulled him closer until there were no gaps between them. The boy’s gaze caused his heart rate to quicken.
“Wh-what?” Because he was inhaling the boy’s spicy scent, Guo Jinshan gasped involuntarily, unable to get the boy’s meaning.
“I want to kiss you.”
His lips were instantly captured by the boy. Guo Jinshan had no time to react, only able to shudder and close his eyes.
The light flutter of the kiss quickly turned into a plundering of his lips. The boy pulled Guo Jinshan’s shirt out from his pants, sliding his hand in to touch his skin. Shivering involuntarily, Guo Jinshan felt a palm roaming around his skin.
What should he do? What should he do? What should he do…
Just a few minutes ago, he was thinking of bearing everything on behalf of the boy. Why was he now clinging weakly onto this chest that enveloped him?
He had never wondered why he liked this boy. But this boy would one day leave him, right? Once he was older, he would probably realise what he felt for him was only a mistake, and he would become furious. He would turn into a shameful blemish in the boy’s memories, unable to be wiped away… Guo Jinshan was actually really afraid.
Because he was the only one who was strange, because he was the one who fell in love first!
“Every time I see you with a tie, I just want to undo it… Open your mouth,” the boy murmured.
Fearful of resentment, yet unable to let go. Knowing that this could not go on, yet Guo Jinshan resisted. Did he do the same things with that girl? Maybe he would do it to other girls as well… he hated how he always had these thoughts.
Experiencing the boy’s warmth at places he could never have imagined, the overwhelming waves of sensations terrified him. Only by clutching desperately onto the boy’s back, he was prevented from drowning.
He really didn’t know what he should do…
Love changed people, and it might change him into someone even he himself would not recognise. To always have such fear towards his own feelings, it surely was because he was too deep in love, right? Complicated thoughts swirled around his head, causing him to be unable to breathe. When the boy lowered his head to suck on his sensitive nipples, a shiver wrecked through his entire body, and his mind blanked.
Footsteps sounded in the corridor, Guo Jinshan instantly came awake. Struggling to find his voice, he groaned huskily, “Someone’s… there…”
The boy finally stopped, raising his head and looking at him fervently.
Guo Jinshan didn’t know how he looked like now, but his reflection in the boy’s pupils didn’t resemble him at all.
When he was hugged tightly by the boy, it was as if he fell into an abyss, never able to climb back out.
“I love you.”
The confession sounded by his ear, reverberating through his foggy auditory world.
…He also loved this boy! So much so that he couldn’t suppress it anymore. But it wouldn’t be easy just to have love between the two of them. How would the boy face his parents, his future… There was too much to consider, and that was why he was so, so frustrated… His vision turned blurry, Guo Jinshan’s eyes filled with scorching tears, obstructing his view.
He buried his face into the boy’s shoulder, slowly closing his eyes. His tears fell into the depths of his heart, transforming into droplets of pain and realisation.
Abandon them all! Rationality, deliberation, or reality, he didn’t want to think about them anymore.
Even if it was selfish, even if he wouldn’t receive forgiveness, even if he would be hated in the future, even if he became a burden to the boy’s life… it was fine.
As long as the boy loved him, he would give the boy his everything.
Gingerly raising his trembling arms around his shoulders, he hugged the boy back.
Never to release them again.