Edited by: Planetes
At night, Fang Zhaomu slept very badly, and kept jerking awake.
In the first half of the night, he still had not got rid of the habit of picking up his phone and wanting to talk to Andrew. However, when he touched his new phone, he immediately sobered up and put his phone back.
It did not happen again for the rest of the night.
Waking up in the morning, Fang Zhaomu had recovered a little more of his spirits from yesterday. He turned on his laptop and started to plan his journey back.
He refused to think about anything to do with this Seattle trip. He really wanted to gouge out all his memories that had to do with the dating app, as every memory that looked very sweet then, all looked wretched now.
The weather report stated that this storm would last for another three to five days. Fang Zhaomu looked out of the window, then at his laptop’s screen. He was thinking about booking a room at another Seattle hotel.
The rain had lessened now. Fang Zhaomu felt that it was possible for him to move to another hotel, the main reason being that if he had to stay in this one for another three to five days, it would be too expensive.
He looked through the selections, and felt that a hotel apartment near the airport was not too bad and so booked a room there. He packed up his luggage, and called the reception to confirm if he needed to check out. The reception told him there was no need to do so, and Fang Zhaomu asked them to call him a taxi.
When Fang Zhaomu reached the entrance, his taxi had too arrived. The driver got off the vehicle and helped Fang Zhaomu placed his luggage in the trunk before moving off.
The streets were not flooded too badly. The rain poured down, pattering down on the roof of the car. It sounded a little scary, and the speed of the taxi was also not too fast, making Fang Zhaomu feel worried. Fortunately, the driver had a steady control over his car, and they smoothly arrived at their destination.
The hotel he booked only had a simple front desk. A receptionist standing there helped Fang Zhaomu arranged his check-in. Passing him a keycard, he told him that his room had been upgraded to a suite.
Fang Zhaomu headed upstairs. Upon opening the door, he discovered that the room was really quite big, seemingly suitable for a family of three to live. There was also an open-plan kitchen and a living room, as well as two bedrooms, one big and one small.
Fang Zhaomu sat down after settling in. He received an email from the professor who offered him a PhD position, asking him if he had considered it. Fang Zhaomu gave the professor a call.
When he had asked his family for school fees, he had mentioned about a PhD before, and both his parents were very supportive of that. Fang Zhaomu himself had also seriously considered it, even though he was not happy in the lab, but he liked doing experiments and writing the thesis. He really enjoyed being able to focus on research, and now that the professor was willing to provide him with this opportunity, he wanted to grab hold of it. At the end of the call, Fang Zhaomu and the professor had a verbal agreement with each other. When he was done with his exchange at the end of May, he would return to school and send in his application.
Having decided his path, Fang Zhaomu now had the energy to continue living his life. His mind was also clearer than before. He sat in the living room, looking at his thesis on his laptop. Feeling a little hungry, he went to check the fridge out. Finding some frozen food, he boiled some water and prepared a plate of pasta.
After a few bites, his phone suddenly rang. Looking at the screen, it was a call from Song Yuanxun. Fang Zhaomu put his fork down, but did not answer. When the phone stopped ringing, he blacklisted Song Yuanxun’s number.
Fang Zhaomu did not download the dating app in his new phone. He probably would never use anything like that again.
Not longer after, the phone in the room started ringing. Fang Zhaomu was completely irritated. He wanted to hang up, but afraid that it was a call from the reception, he picked up.
“Mumu.” Song Yuanxun called him.
Fang Zhaomu swiftly hung up.
Maybe because he had no other options, Song Yuanxun did not come to harass Fang Zhaomu anymore.
Fang Zhaomu spent a few days at the hotel, sneaking downstairs to buy some food. When the flights resumed, he returned to C City on his original flight.
Song Yuanxun’s name was like a trauma leftover from an accident. The recovery period was long, the condition triggered often, and he would probably need a lot of time before he got better.
As long as he was alone in the room, Fang Zhaomu could not help but descend into a low mood. He tried his best to not think about everything to do with Andrew and Song Yuanxun, and did his utmost best in filling up all his time with trivial matters, and was even unwilling to touch his phone.
However, life still had to go on. After defending his thesis, Fang Zhaomu no longer went to the lab. He still had to stay in T University for four more months, and so started three new classes. At the start, he sneaked around like a thief, afraid of bumping into Song Yuanxun. After two weeks of classes, he never saw him, and so Fang Zhaomu put down his guard.
One Wednesday, Fang Zhaomu went to class like usual. He was early, and entered the lift alone. Just before the door closed completely, a person ran towards the lift and re-opened the door.
Fang Zhaomu looked up. Song Yuanxun was standing there with the two other people he saw previously in the restaurant. Song Yuanxun’s eyes met Fang Zhaomu’s, and he was also slightly stunned. Sensibly, he shifted to a side, and did not stand too close to Fang Zhaomu.
However, if Song Yuanxun was there, Fang Zhaomu would feel reserved and awkward.
One of the girls walked in and stood next to Fang Zhaomu and gave him a friendly nod. Fang Zhaomu did not know how to react, and smiled at her without thinking.
She casually asked Fang Zhaomu, “Which faculty are you from? I don’t seem to have seen you around before.”
Fang Zhaomu paused, glossing over it. “I’m here on exchange.”
“Oh,” She thought Fang Zhaomu was a student here on exchange for the next semester, and so took out her phone. “Let’s exchange contact details, and go out for a meal when we’re free.”
Fang Zhaomu hesitated. “I didn’t bring my phone…”
He really did not bring it with him. Now, if he could avoid using his phone, he would not use it. Communication was done through emails on his laptop, and once he was used to it, it was not very inconvenient.
“Huh?” The girl was a little surprised.
However, Fang Zhaomu had reached his floor. He said goodbye to the girl, and walked out.
Fang Zhaomu sat by the window. Halfway through the class, snow started drifting down outside, and Fang Zhaomu could not help but turn to look.
He had never seen snow in C City before. There were a few forecast, but it never happened. The report yesterday said it would snow today, but Fang Zhaomu did not take it seriously, only for it to actually snow instead.
The snow fell heavier. By the time the class ended, Fang Zhaomu looked out to the ground. The snow had already piled up in a thin layer, and the ground looked fluffy. He slowly packed his books up and headed out, and outside the classroom was a person standing there.
Song Yuanxun was waiting for him.
Fang Zhaomu no longer felt much of anything when he saw Song Yuanxun now. His heart knew that Andrew did not exist, but he was unable to put Andrew and Song Yuanxun together. Andrew and the dating app that he was familiar with were in the past, and he was not familiar with this version of Song Yuanxun, and he was also unwilling to be familiar with him.
Fang Zhaomu glanced at Song Yuanxun. His feet paused, then turned into the stairways.
Song Yuanxun followed after him. “It’s snowing now, I’ll send you back.”
His voice was basically a nightmare to Fang Zhaomu, each word dragging out every embarrassing chat messages from Fang Zhaomu’s memories. Fang Zhaomu did not want to speak to him, but if he did not say anything, he would seem to be very contentious, as though he was still throwing a tantrum of some sort. He tried to speak mildly with Song Yuanxun, “I brought an umbrella.”
“The roads are very slippery.”
Fang Zhaomu glanced at Song Yuanxun. “I know now, I’ll walk carefully.”
Although there was more than half a metre between Song Yuanxun and Fang Zhaomu, Fang Zhaomu still felt his inescapable presence, and it made him unable to focus. There were three steps on the to the lift landing, and when Fang Zhaomu was on the last step, his ankle twisted for no reason. Song Yuanxun deftly caught him, while Fang Zhaomu’s school bag dropped.
“I’ll walk with you,” Song Yuanxun persuaded Fang Zhaomu helplessly. “You can even fall on flat ground.”
He let go, and helped Fang Zhaomu pick his bag up. Carrying it, he did not return it to Fang Zhaomu, and pressed the button for the lift.
Fang Zhaomu was completely vexed. He had never been so angry about his habit of not looking where he walked, and felt that it was also very embarrassing. He tried to take his bag away from Song Yuanxun, but failed to do so, and also did not dare to look into Song Yuanxun’s eyes. He wondered why Song Yuanxun was so insensible, Fang Zhaomu had already been avoiding him like this, and also did not argue with him over anything.
The door to the lift opened. Coincidentally, those two classmates of Song Yuanxun were also inside. The girl chatting with Fang Zhaomu just now was a little shocked to see the two people standing together.
Fang Zhaomu and Song Yuanxun both entered the lift, and the first thing the girl asked Song Yuanxun was, “You guys know each other?”
The girl seemed to be filled with questions, but did not probe any further. They quickly arrived on the first floor. Fang Zhaomu walked very slowly, pulling the distance between them and the other two people apart before telling Song Yuanxun, “Return me my bag.”
Fang Zhaomu extended his hand to take it back again, only to still grab air. Song Yuanxun told Fang Zhaomu, “Just let me send you back this one time.”
Fang Zhaomu looked at Song Yuanxun. He really did not want to argue with him, but also did not want to sit in his car. The two of them were like elementary school kids, one reaching out and the other avoiding it. Finally, Fang Zhaomu also got angry, and told Song Yuanxun, “Then you can just take it.”
He walked off by himself, walking into the snow without an umbrella. Only then did Song Yuanxun ran after him and returned his bag.
In the snow, Fang Zhaomu took his umbrella out and started walking home. Song Yuanxun did not drive nor did he have an umbrella, and kept following behind Fang Zhaomu at his pace. Fang Zhaomu did not bother with him, only carefully making his way home, and did not slip and fall.
In Fang Zhaomu’s room was a very narrow window. He closed his door behind him, pondering for a few minutes before walking to the window and opening it, looking outside.
Song Yuanxun was about to reach the turn in the road. He was dressed in a coat, his posture straight. However, without an umbrella, snow had accumulated on his shoulders, and he did not look as dazzling as usual, and looked more human than before.
When Song Yuanxun turned around the corner, he looked back. Afraid of getting caught, Fang Zhaomu quickly closed the window and stopped watching him.