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The heart wrenching cry reached Xu Zhao’s ears. Xu Zhao couldn’t steel his heart to keep going. And so he got off the bicycle and turned around to look at Xu Fan. Xu Fan was crying, tears and snot covering his entire face. He padded his small feet to chase him.
Xu Zhao steadied the bike and greeted Xu Fan. He picked up Xu Fan and brought out a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe away Xu Fan’s snot. He then coaxed Xu Fan. He tried to think if bringing a child to a blind date was appropriate or not.
In the end, he didn’t bring Xu Fan. He left Xu Fan in South Bay Village in Mother Xu’s care before quickly biking away. Before he even reached the county town, he saw Da Zhuang’s father waiting at the intersection.
“Brother Li.” Xu Zhao rode up and asked, “When did you arrive?”
“I just arrived.” Da Zhuang’s father wiped the fine sweat off his forehead.
“Why didn’t you let me take you on the bike?”
“I’m too heavy.”
“I could’ve taken you. Get on.”
“No need. I can just walk. It’s not far.”
Da Zhuang’s father still didn’t want to trouble Xu Zhao. Xu Zhao seriously said, “It’s not like you haven’t ridden it before. When you got injured before, wasn’t it me who carried you to the hospital on my back? Get on.”
Da Zhuang’s father didn’t refuse this time and sat on the bicycle’s back seat. When he and Xu Zhao arrived at the Jiefang Restaurant in the county town, they stopped the bicycle. They didn’t see the person from South Sun Village at the restaurant’s entrance. The two entered Jiefang Restaurant, and as soon as they entered, they heard someone call Da Zhuang’s father.
Dad Chuang looked at it in response.
Xu Zhao also turned around to look and saw a middle-aged woman and an adult man sitting at the simple tables of Jiefang Restaurant. Xu Zhao recognized the middle-aged woman as the matchmaker from South Sun Village. She had traveled between the villages numerous times already. As for the adult man… that should be his blind date partner, Zhou Xiangqian.
Zhou Xiangqian had a crew cut with upright features. His clothes and shoes were clean and he looked very tidy. When he saw Xu Zhao, he was first startled then was stunned. Even when the matchmaker saw Xu Zhao, she was also starstruck. They probably didn’t expect Xu Zhao to be this beautiful.
“Hello, my name is Zhou Xiangqian,” Zhou Xiangqian enthusiastically greeted.
“Hello, my name is Xu Zhao,” Xu Zhao warmly said.
“I know,” Zhou Xiangqian happily said.
Xu Zhao smiled and didn’t reply. This was his first time on a blink date so he was very reserved. He cautiously looked as Da Zhuang’s father and the matchmaker joined the fun.
When Da Zhuang’s father and the matchmaker felt they had stayed long enough, they found an excuse to leave. And so, only Xu Zhao and Zhou Xiangqian were inside Jiefang Restaurant. In order to hide his embarrassment, Xu Zhao lowered his head to take a drink of water. He heard Zhou Xiangqian ask, “Xu Zhao, do you not remember me?”
Xu Zhao looked at Zhou Xiangqian with doubt.
Zhou Xiangqian reminded him, “An enamel jar of boiled water.”
Xu Zhao didn’t understand.
Zhou Xiangqian told the story again, saying that the two were both students from Provincial Agricultural School, but they weren’t from the same class. When they were in school, they had to bring their own thermos flask or enamel jar to the canteen. One time, his thermos flask broke and Xu Zhao was sitting next to him and lent him his enamel jar to drink water from.
Therefore, he remembered Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao directly said, “I don’t quite remember.”
Zhou Xiangqian smiled. “You’re really a good person. Doing a deed without expecting anything in return.”
Xu Zhao smiled. It really was a coincidence. But because of this small matter, these two people were able to get along a lot better.
Zhou Xiangqian asked, “How have you been these past few years?”
Xu Zhao replied, “Very good.”
“Um, I thought you would get together with Qi Shuai.” Qi Shuai was the man the original Xu Zhao liked. The original Xu Zhao had paid a lot for him, but that man was a scumbag.
“Nope, I don’t have any contact with him anymore.”
“Oh.” Seeing Xu Zhao’s reluctance to speak about this, Zhou Xiangqian changed the topic, “Oh, right. I heard you’re taking care of a vegetable greenhouse?”
“Mn.” Xu Zhao nodded.
“How is it?” Zhou Xiangqian asked.
“It’s very good. Enough for my family to eat.” Speaking of family, Xu Zhao thought of Xu Fan and couldn’t help but ask, “Um, you know I have a son, right? A three year old.”
“I know,” Zhou Xiangqian said.
Xu Zhao paused for a moment then asked again, “I was the one who gave birth to him. You know that, right?”
Zhou Xiangqian nodded and said, “I know. I already understand your entire situation.”
“You don’t mind?”
“I don’t mind,” Zhou Xiangqian bluntly said.
After Xu Zhao heard this, he relaxed a lot. He chatted with Zhou Xiangqian very naturally. The two were both in the Provincial Agricultural School, therefore they mostly talked about school matters. Time flew by and it turned to noon. The two had a meal together, and after the meal, they each rode home on their bicycles.
Before he had even arrived home, Da Zhuang’s father asked Xu Zhao about the situation. When he reached home, Mother Xu also asked about the situation, and so Xu Zhao broadly repeated it again.
Mother Xu asked, “How do you feel about it?”
Xu Zhao said, “Not bad.”
In fact, he really didn’t feel bad about it. His requirements weren’t how. As long as they treated Xu Fan and him well, was filial, a positive person, his other habits didn’t matter. However, Xu Zhao still thought that it was better to understand the situation a bit more before making a decision. And so, he added, “We can be friends first then see.”
Mother Xu immediately happily replied, “Yes, get along with him first. There’s no rush.”
Xu Zhao nodded. “Mn. I’ll bring Xu Fan to the county town tomorrow.”
“Why are you going to the county town again?” Mother Xu asked.
“To take Xu Fan to see him and watch a movie as well.”
As soon as she heard about a movie, Mother Xu became happy again and immediately approved. “Okay. Watching a movie is good. And it’s also good that you’re bringing Sanwa. You should let them meet so that they can get along in the future.”
“Hmm, where’s Xu Fan?”
The smile on Mother Xu’s didn’t fade as she said, “He ate too much at noon. Your dad was worried that he would get indigestion, so he took him on a walk.”
He ate too much again. Xu Zhao smiled and asked, “After finding out that I slipped away, did he cry again?”
Mother Xu smiled and said, “He did. How could he not cry? However, he was fine after crying for a bit. He’ll probably try and find you again after he’s back from the walk. This child sticks to you too much.”
As soon as Mother Xu’s words fell, Xu Fan’s small milky voice came from the courtyard, “Grandma! Grandma!”
Mother Xu smiled and replied, “Sanwa, why are you calling grandma?”
“When… When is my daddy coming back?”
After Mother Xu finished speaking, Xu Fan quickly ran over and appeared at the courtyard door. Seeing Xu Zhao, he happily called, “Daddy! Daddy!”
Xu Zhao walked forward and picked up Xu Fan.
Xu Fan’s small arms tightly wrapped around Xu Zhao’s neck. His watery eyes were shining bright as he asked, “Daddy, where did you go?”
Xu Zhao copied Xu Fan’s tone and replied, “I went to the county town.”
“Why did you go to the county town?”
“I needed to do something.”
“What did you need to do?” Xu Fan wittily asked.
“So many questions.”
“Hehe…” Xu Fan’s small meaty hands covered his mouth as he laughed.
Xu Zhao asked, “Do you want to go to the county town tomorrow?”
Xu Fan ferociously nodded.” I want to.”
“Okay. Daddy will take you to the county town tomorrow to watch a movie.”
“Daddy, what is a movie?”
Xu Fan had never seen a movie before but he’d watched TV before. And so Xu Zhao explained, “A movie is like TV but even bigger.”
Xu Fan was ecstatic to hear this and yelled, “Wow!”
“Well watch it tomorrow.”
“Mn.” Xu Fan ferociously nodded.
The next morning, Xu Zhao especially dressed Xu Fan up in his new clothes and new shoes, then rubbed on fragrance. The little guy looked very handsome, even Father Xu couldn’t help but want to give Xu Fan’s small meaty cheeks a kiss. Xu Fan didn’t let him, stating that the kiss would rub the fragrance off. Xu Zhao didn’t know if he should laugh or cry.
He rode the bicycle and carried Xu Fan to the county town intersection and saw Zhou Xiangqian. Zhou Xiangqian was wearing the same clothes as yesterday and looked very tidy. He was very considerate and brought Xu Fan a handful of candy and praised him for being very handsome. He then brought Xu Zhao and Xu Fan to the movie theaters to buy tickets.
In this era, there weren’t many different varieties of more and the showtimes were few as well. Zhou Xiangqian spent two Yuan to purchase two movie tickets, but the show time wasn’t until noon. So he and Xu Zhao brought Xu Fan to walk the county town’s Middle Street. After walking for half an hour, Xu Fan suddenly called out “big car.”
Xu Zhao also looked at the “big car” and also recognized Cui Dingchen’s black compact car. But it seemed that Cui Dingchen didn’t see him or perhaps Cui Dingchen was currently busy. And so, Xu Zhao didn’t greet him and continued walking around with Zhou Xiangqian. When it was almost time, the two people took Xu Fan to the entrance of the movie theater and entered.
Xu Fan was curious about everything and continued asking questions.
Xu Zhao patiently answered.
Zhou Xiangqian smiled and said, “Xu Fan really likes asking questions.”
Xu Zhao patted Xu Fan’s little chubby cheeks and said, “Mn. He’s curious about everything. He loves to talk and ask questions.”
“Has he always loved to talk and ask questions?”
“Mn.” Xu Zhao nodded. In fact, that wasn’t it. As he saw more of the world and learned more, he would also start talking more.
Zhou Xiangqian smiled and said, “That’s very good. Elders like children who talk and ask questions. When he lives with his grandparents in the future, his grandparents won’t be lonely either.”
When he lives with his grandparents in the future, his grandparents wouldn’t be lonely either—
What did that mean?
Xu Zhao smiled as he looked at Zhou Xiangqian. Didn’t Zhou Xiangqian say he didn’t mind Xu Fan. So why would he say something like that?
Xu Zhao asked in disbelief, “What did you just say?”
Zhou Xiangqian very naturally answered, “I said that when he lives with his grandparents in the future—”
“He won’t be living with his grandpa in the future.” Xu Zhao’s tone was still gentle but his voice was a bit shaky as he said, “He’ll live with me in the future. He’ll always live with me.”
“He’s my son.”
Zhou Xiangqian hastily said, “D-didn’t we already say so? It’s good for him to stay with his grandparents. Of course, if you want to keep him by your side, it’s also fine. Therefore I—”
Although Zhou Xiangqian wanted to explain, Xu Zhao already understood Zhou Xiangqian’s true thoughts. Zhou Xiangqian didn’t mind that Xu Zhao had a son because he was planning on throwing this son to the grandparents to raise.
So this was what he meant when he said he didn’t mind.
Xu Zhao’s heart cooled. It was true. Regardless of if it was a man or a woman, having another man’s child wasn’t a good thing. Most people would mind.
They were able to enter the movie theater at this time but Xu Zhao didn’t enter. He pulled out a Yuan from his pocket and shoved it to Zhou Xiangqian. He said sorry then turned around and left without a single look back.
Zhou Xiangqian was stunned as he watched Xu Zhao’s resolute and pretty back. He scratched the back on his head and ears with regret. When he had made up his mind to chase after Xu Zhao, Xu Zhao and Xu Fan had already disappeared to who knew where. The bicycle was nowhere to be seen either.
Zhou Xiangqian was so remorseful. He really liked Xu Zhao. These past four to five years, he had always remembered him.
But Xu Zhao didn’t like Zhou Xiangqian but didn’t hate Zhou Xiangqian either. Even if he didn’t have Zhou Xiangqian right now, Zhou Xiangqian wasn’t wrong either. It had only destroyed the feelings he had for him. He had forgotten. He’d forgotten that even people in the 21st disliked those who had children from previous relationships, so how could those from the 80’s not dislike it?
He was so stupid! And he’d even gone on a blind date!
“Daddy,” Xu Fan called in a milky tone.
“Hmm?” Xu Zhao replied.
“Why aren’t we watching the movie?” Xu Fan asked.
“We’re not watching,” Xu Zhao replied in a low mood.
“It’s not good. There’s good things to watch at home. Daddy will take you to watch them later.”
“Okay,” Xu Fan obediently replied.
“What a good child.”
“Mn, I’m very good.”
That was right. His Xu Fan was very good. So good that others loved him. Although he had always been taking care of Xu Fan ever since he’d come to this world and era, Xu Fan had given him warmth and reliance that he had never received in both of his lifetimes. He was madly in love with this warmth and reliance. It was the most important thing in both of his lifetimes and it was more important than any other emotion.
Therefore, if they couldn’t accept Xu Fan, then he wouldn’t accept them either.
Thinking of Zhou Xiangqian’s words to leave behind Xu Fan, he felt really sad. It was a sadness that was difficult to dispel. He didn’t want to return to South Bay Village, and he didn’t want to think about emotions anymore either. He drove the bicycle and brought Xu Fan to the border of the county town.
After stopping the bicycle, he helped Xu Fan down. The father and son sat on the edge of the clear gutter and looked at the wild grass that sprouted from the side of the ditch. Spring was coming, but he wasn’t able to feel his spring1The “spring” has two meanings here. He’s talking about the season, but it also signifies that love has come. But since the blind date failed, his “spring” still hasn’t come. yet. He felt dispirited. Xu Fan seemed to have also sensed Xu Zhao’s mood. He stayed silent and obediently sat beside Xu Zhao. The father and son didn’t notice the black compact car slowly stopping behind them besides the bicycle.