Just when he was tangled up over how he should raise this teenage boy, his darling son soon recovered, and smoothly got through what everyone said was the most troublesome stage.
Xiao He was worried that Fan Shen would fall in love too young.
But actually, he never dated once.
Xiao He was afraid that Fan Shen’s heavy thoughts would interfere with his studies.
But in fact, from middle school to high school, whether it was a major exam, a test or a pop quiz, Fan Shen never scored any lower than first place.
Then Xiao He worried that Fan Shen would study until he turned into a bookworm.
But the sports competition the school organized soon slapped him in the face.
Xiao He was still worried that Fan Shen wouldn’t be good at socializing.
But at the graduation ceremony, a throng of boys and girls almost squeezed him out of the door.
He wasn’t popular? Hah, maybe he should worry about him being too popular!
Raising children wasn’t easy, but Xiao He felt that this seemed a little too easy.
When he was small, Fan Shen was well-behaved and did what he was told. He didn’t cry or make a fuss. As long as he was with him, he was the most thoughtful child in the world.
After Fan Shen grew up, he was smart and capable. Xiao He didn’t have to worry about his studies or his social life, and even the trivial things in his life were completely faultless.
Xiao He felt even more defeated. When Fan Shen was little, at any rate, Xiao He was the one being a father and taking care of his son.
But as time passed and his son grew up, this reversed a little.
Xiao He’s work habits weren’t too great, and he liked to stay up late, so Fan Shen urged him to go to sleep earlier.
Xiao He’s eating habits weren’t that great either. He was a little bit of a picky eater, and he didn’t like to eat breakfast. So Fan Shen would get up a little earlier to make him breakfast, and he was always able to make the nutritious vegetables that Xiao He didn’t like to eat into something he loved eating.
People couldn’t be spoiled.
Before, Xiao He had to make money, look after a child and keep the house clean, so he was pretty proactive about making progress.
But once Fan Shen entered high school, Xiao He started to regress.
Money...still had to be made, but it seemed he didn’t have to put all his effort into it anymore… He coughed twice.
His child...well, he didn’t have to be raised anymore. The kid had grown up… He felt like crying.
As for cleaning the house… Before, Xiao He washed the clothes and did the housework by himself, but he didn’t know when his clothes began to be placed in his closet for him, neatly sorted and folded. His room was never contaminated by dust, and his sketchbooks, paintbrushes and unorganized books were neatly set in place. Even more confoundedly, they were all organized according to the way he was used to working with them.
In short, besides the safe that Xiao He had locked up, there was no longer anything in the house that needed him to clean it.
Xiao He was really a little confused about how he’d managed to raise his son so well.
In the end, was it that he was naturally gifted at parenting, or was it that his son had an outstanding aptitude, and grew up well by himself?!
In short...he, the father, was almost being spoiled rotten by his son!
Okay, if he said this in public, people would probably laugh at him.
Xiao He wanted to proactively bring back his attitude as a father, but when he got up very early, the food he made wasn’t as good as his son’s, and Fan Shen had to remake it.
In the morning he started thinking about washing the clothes, but then he found that there wasn’t a single dirty piece of clothing in the house!
At dinnertime, he wanted to pick his son up from school, but when they returned, Fan Shen was the one driving…
In conclusion, Xiao He felt like he was more of a hindrance than a help!
Xiao He felt a little depressed. While watching TV with Fan Shen before bed, he couldn’t help but whisper, “Little Fan, do you dislike me?” To be honest, Xiao He disliked himself a little. He was such a lazy and useless dad, what good was he!
Fan Shen stiffened slightly, and he turned to look at him. “How could I?”
Xiao He looked at him without blinking.
Fan Shen looked down slightly, meeting his eyes, and said in a voice so soft it was almost inaudible, “I like you.”
Xiao He’s heart suddenly jumped. At that moment, he almost thought he saw Ayr.
Speaking of Ayr...Fan Shen had already grown so big, and his features had completely opened up. He didn’t carry a halo of light with him like the silver-haired elf did, but he had to say that such exquisite features were just as rare.
It had already been such a long time, but Xiao He still had only to think of Ayr for his heart to seize with pain.
Xiao He let out a breath so he wouldn’t forget himself, and relaxed a little.
“Yeah, Daddy likes you too.”
Fan Shen’s lowered eyes flashed slightly, and his hands unconsciously curled up because of the word “Daddy.” He stifled the piercing pain that surged up from the bottom of his heart, and asked him a low question in response. “If I wasn’t your son, would you still like me?”
Xiao He was a little startled, and soon panicked. He thought Fan Shen had heard some rumor, and for fear that he something gnawing at his mind, he replied at once. “How could that happen? You’re my son, and I raised you myself. Your mother passed away early, but I…”
“I know.” Fan Shen smiled bitterly inside, but he didn’t want to listen on, so he simply interrupted him. “I know better than anyone that we’re father and son.”
Xiao He stared at him blankly.
Fan Shen looked up at him, and seeing him like this, he relented a little. He couldn’t help but soften his voice. “It’s getting late, let’s sleep early.”
When he was about to get up and leave, Fan Shen looked back and said one more word. “Dad.”
Xiao He came back to himself. “Alright, have a good night's sleep.”
Fan Shen went back to his room. Xiao He sat on the sofa by himself for a while before returning to his bedroom.
He felt like...Fan Shen had something weighing on his mind.
Did something happen to him?
Xiao He felt a bit nervous. Eighteen years had passed, but he had never forgotten that night.
That woman who was shot to death, and little Fan Shen, who was left behind.
These things hadn’t happened by chance, and sooner or later, they’d come back to haunt him.
When he saw Fan Shen, who looked more and more like his mother, it was hard for Xiao He not to worry.
He was afraid that their peaceful life would change, and he was afraid that something would happen to the child he took great pains to raise.
But the days passed as usual.
Fan Shen finished his college entrance examination, and his undoubtedly exceptional results made Xiao He burst with joy.
The summer vacation after senior year was long and carefree. Xiao He wanted to take Fan Shen out to play.
And just then, Xiao He received some news.
The novel publication website he had been using was holding an annual meeting, and they were inviting him to attend.
Xiao He had almost never left the capital before because of Fan Shen, so in the past, he hadn’t been able to go to Haicheng to attend the annual meeting.
But this year was different. Fan Shen was on break, so he could go with him.
After attending the annual meeting, they would have the perfect opportunity to play around. It sounded pretty great.
And Xiao He wanted to see some old friends.
They had always relied on the internet to communicate, but after so many years, they had a pretty solid relationship. It would be a pleasure to meet in person and have a drinking contest.
Xiao He mentioned it to Fan Shen, and he nodded, not having a problem with it.
The two of them rested and reorganized a bit, and then set out the next day.
It was Xiao He’s first time coming to Haicheng in this world, but he was familiar with it in real life, so he didn’t find it strange.
Just as they’d settled down, those good friends of Xiao He’s contacted him.
It didn’t seem right to bring his son to a gathering of grown-ups. Xiao He said to Fan Shen, “I’m going out for dinner, so call me if anything comes up, okay?”
Fan Shen knew he was going to a party, so he understood. “Go, don’t worry about me.”
Xiao He really wasn’t worried. His son was a lot more reliable than him!
Xiao He wasn't the least bit mistaken. Nothing much happened to Fan Shen, while Xiao He’s bad friends got him so drunk he almost passed out.
They chatted and played games online every day, but they didn’t often gather in real life, especially Xiao He, who was absent time after time. It wasn’t easy to catch him this time, so all of them forced him to drink up.
Xiao He was a little in the wrong. He couldn’t refuse, so he just let go and drank.
And then...he got so drunk he blacked out.
When he came back to the hotel, knocked on the door, and saw Fan Shen, he staggered straight into his arms.
Fan Shen frowned slightly, but he reached out and caught him.
He’d gotten drunk enough to be in this state…
Xiao He dazedly saw Fan Shen, and his eyes immediately crinkled and he said, “Little Fan!”
Fan Shen made a noise in reply and helped him into the room.
Xiao He started pulling at his clothes. “I smell like alcohol all over. It stinks, I’m going to go take a bath.”
The arm Fan Shen had around him stiffened slightly, and he said in a deep voice, “Are you going to be okay by yourself?”
Xiao He waved a hand and said, “No...problem!” It’s just taking a bath, it’s nothing much…” As he spoke, he stumbled toward the bathroom, swaying left and right.
But this wasn’t home. It was an unfamiliar hotel, and an unfamiliar bathroom. In his disoriented state, Xiao He feet slipped out from under him, and he almost fell. Fortunately, Fan Shen had quick reflexes, and held him up again.
Xiao He still had some reason left. He knew that he was drunk. He didn’t really want to lose face in front of his child, so he still wanted to say something.
But Fan Shen didn’t wait for him to open his mouth, and said, “I’ll help you, okay?”
Xiao He turned the words over in his mind, and after an age he finally got it. “Right, right! Help me, you can help me out.” He was someone with a son now, so he could have his son help out…
As he thought this, Xiao He pulled at his clothes, and pulled at Fan Shen’s clothes too while he was at it. “Before we always washed together, taking a bath with me was your favorite thing to do…”
Fan Shen caught him by the waist, and he saw Xiao He's open collar and his bare chest. His eyes darkened, and he reached out a hand and touched it. The warm feeling carried a fatal attraction, making his stomach surge with heat and his chest sting with desire, making him...unable to move an inch away.
“I like…” Fan Shen bowed his head and kissed that fair neck with trembling lips. He found it a little hard to tell what he was saying. “I like being with you.”
3 hours and 25 minutes for 2,065 words, or 9.9 minutes for every 100 words. An increase in rate by 1.3 minutes... 😔
We have a timeskip, yay...
Haicheng (海城, Hǎichéng, or "Ocean City") is a coastside city in the northwest of China, between Beijing and the Korean border.
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