Flickering
Chapter 6

Author: Lěng Shān Jiù Mù
Source: moku’s mtl

Li Yuechen took Gu Zhen to the clinic and watched the doctor take a cotton swab to disinfect the wound on Gu Zhen’s forehead. Although he wanted to ask Gu Zhen if it hurt, the other boy didn’t even bat an eye, looking as though he didn’t even get hurt in the first place.

Once they were about to leave, the doctor told them a few remarks, saying that Gu Zhen should be careful to not expose the wound to too much water and that it was also important to pay attention to his diet.

When the two of them left the clinic, Li Yuechen looked at Gu Zhen’s bandaged forehead and muttered: “I don’t know if the wound will leave you scars.”

Gu Zhen turned his head away and ignored him, not knowing why Li Yuechen cared so much about his face. After thinking a little about it, he simply decided that he was just being concerned as a friend.

“I’m a little hungry. Let’s have a meal together…?” Li Yuechen held onto Gu Zhen, who was about to leave. Gu Zhen thought of the negligent nanny back at home and looked at Li Yuechen before nodding lightly. He didn’t notice how the corners of Li Yuechen’s mouth curled up a little after seeing his affirmative response.

“What do you wanna eat?” Li Yuechen asked.

Gu Zhen had no experience of eating in this neighborhood, so he could only shake his head.

Li Yuechen finally decided to take him to a small restaurant that he, Song Yan, and his other friends often go to. The restaurant in itself wasn’t very big, but the interior and the antiquated decorations around was very pleasant to the eye.

Li Yuechen held out the menu in front of Gu Zhen for him to look into. After some time, Gu Zhen pointed his finger at a particular dish on the menu.

“Ah? No, this is too spicy. Just now, the doctor said that you can’t eat anything too spicy…”

Gu Zhen moved his finger again to another dish, only to be rejected again. “No, this one’s too cold for your body…”

“No, this one also isn’t…” Before Li Yuechen could even finish his words this time, Gu Zhen pushed the menu back to him. His face didn’t show any kind of expression but Li Yuechen felt as though the other boy was angry.

Li Yuechen rubbed on his nose for a bit, feeling a little embarrassed. He then cleared his throat and said in his usual voice: “Aren’t you injured? The doctor just said that you should be cautious of your diet, right?”

Gu Zhen looked down on the table and didn’t even glance at him. Li Yuechen was afraid that if he continued nagging, Gu Zhen would soon straight up leave him there alone.

He decided to order two light stir-fried meals and some soup, so he called over a waiter and quickly placed their order.

It was dinnertime for a lot of people, and the other guests who ate together in the restaurant were all chatting happily and loudly, which was much in contrast to the quiet and awkward atmosphere at the table that the two boys occupied, making them seem out of place.

Li Yuechen, who was too busy deliberating on his next words and trying to predict what Gu Zhen’s reaction would be, didn’t even realize that the way he was acting right now – so contemplatively and cautiously – couldn’t even compare to when he was thinking of an answer for a question in class. “When you’re finally all healed up, I’ll bring you back here to try out those dishes you wanted to order earlier, alright?”

He pursed his lips and added, “They have a few delicious signature dishes here, too. We can also try them out next time.”

Gu Zhen lowered his head and didn’t react. Li Yuechen couldn’t tell if the other boy didn’t hear him, if he was lost in thought again, or if he heard him and he simply just didn’t want to respond.

Fortunately, the food that he ordered finally arrived. Li Yuechen excitedly gave Gu Zhen a bowl of soup and put it in front of him.

“This soup’s pretty delicious, try it.”

After a few moments, Gu Zhen slowly reached out and picked up a spoon. When he finally started drinking the soup, only then did Li Yuechen began to prepare a bowl for himself.

It was getting late in the evening by the time the two of them finished eating their meal, so Li Yuechen said, “Let’s just take a taxi together to go home. I also happen to live in the same direction.”

Li Yuechen reached out and managed to call over a cab. He pulled open the door and let Gu Zhen sit in first.

“Where do you live?” Li Yuechen lowered his head to enter the cab and sat next to him. Gu Zhen responded by taking Li Yuechen’s hand and writing down a few words in his palm.

“To Yunshan Neighborhood, Mister,” Li Yuechen spoke for him.

In the backseat of the taxi cab, the light coming from outside the window kept illuminating their faces, streaks of light occasionally flashing across them inside the vehicle’s dark interior. Li Yuechen clutched the hand that Gu Zhen had just written on, and after a while, he moved his fingers, mimicking Gu Zhen’s actions, and then he rubbed his palm twice.

The ride lasted for about fifteen minutes before they arrived at the entrance of Gu Zhen’s neighborhood. Gu Zhen then got out of the car, and Li Yuechen waved his hand goodbye, telling him to hurry back.

Li Yuechen then told the driver his address, and the driver turned the car around and drove in the other direction.

The car was driving in the opposite direction, so Li Yuechen was unable to see Gu Zhen standing still outside the entrance of Yunshan Neighborhood, staring at the cab he was riding in with a rather thoughtful, almost wistful, expression.

When Li Yuechen returned home, the house was completely dark. Qi Xinyue wasn’t home, so the house suddenly seemed quite empty. The floors and the kitchen were very neat and tidy. It seemed as though the house helper came over earlier.

He took a shower and went back to bed. After a whole day of basketball training and running around with Gu Zhen, he felt tired. However, instead of falling asleep the moment he lied on the bed like how he expected to, he didn’t even feel sleepy at all. He tossed and turned for some time, and only went to sleep in the middle of the night.

In the classroom, Li Yuechen watched Gu Zhen from his seat. Suddenly, Gu Zhen turned his head to his direction, his pale face looking a little flushed, and his lips opened and closed, as though he wanted to say something.

Seeing this, Li Yuechen leaned in closer and asked, “What did you say?”

Then he hears it. Gu Zhen said each syllable slowly, one at a time: “Li Yuechen.”

For a moment, Li Yuechen felt as if he had been hit by something, and a tingling sensation sprung up from his heart all the way to the rest of his body. “Call me again, call my name again.” He looked at Gu Zhen eagerly, looking like a puppy that had received some treats, greedily asking his owner for more.

Suddenly, the sky and the earth was spinning around, and every square on the ceiling changed to Gu Zhen’s face, and countless of mouths opened and closed, each of them calling out his name.

Li Yuechen opened his eyes abruptly and got up. He saw the time displayed on his alarm clock seated on the bedside table. 3:30 AM. He sighed deeply and jumped out of his bed, going to the kitchen to get a large glass of cold water. The sudden heat that spread in his body earlier only subsided a little after he drank his water in huge gulps.

Holding the half-empty glass, he sat in the living room table in a daze, slowly pressing his cheek to the table top and sighing deeply again.

Flickering
Chapter 6