After the intimacy yesterday, even the asking of this question was underscored with confidence and an impish expression.
Tang Suoyan looked at him, “Be reasonable.”
Tao Xiaodong arched an eyebrow at him, then heard Tang Suoyan say, “If not for me, that they adore you is a moot point.”
“Pfft.” Tao Xiaodong wiped the water from his face, shoulders shaking with laughter.
His upper body was bare.
When he bent down to wash his face, back bowed, his waist and abdomen curved inward, muscle and bone drawing grooves down to the waistband, at which point onwards were curtly concealed.
There was also still faint colouration where Tang Suoyan’s fingers had gripped his pelvis too hard yesterday, teasing tantalisingly, bruises half-concealed beneath the waistband.
Now, doubled over the stone counter in laughter, his waist, back, and abdomen followed the movement, stomach tensing.
His every unconscious action oozed sex appeal, even be it that he was just washing his face in a pair of jeans.
Tang Suoyan stretched an arm to grab the groove on the abdominal muscle alongside his hip and said, “The whole family likes you.”
Tao Xiaodong was beyond thrilled.
This birthday was really well-spent; he had reaped so much.
In the afternoon, they went over to have lunch with Tang Suoyan’s parents, spending a few hours at their place.
The two professors both had gentle dispositions and always made sure to leave space for others to speak; conversation with them was easy.
They didn’t bring up topics hard to enter or awkward to broach, just regular chit-chat.
They reminisced Tang Suoyan’s childhood and talked about the flowers they’ve been tending to for years on the balcony.
This lunch was rather different from their previous encounter.
His status was legitimate now, unlike the ‘soon-to-be boyfriend’ that he was before.
Tao Xiaodong was only smug and cocky in front of Tang Suoyan in private.
When out, he was still very collected.
That was the type of person that he was; steady and low-profile.
Tao Xiaodong said that he liked the herbs that Tang Suoyan’s mother mixed and thus was treated to a diverting discussion about fragrance notes and whatnot—wherein he basically understood nothing.
Eventually, Tang Suoyan said, “He won’t understand anything you say, who will remember all that.”
“It’s pretty interesting,” said Tao Xiaodong.
Professor Bai stood up and gathered the remaining tiny bottles around the house, saying, “Take these back with you.”
Tang Suoyan had never taken these home of his own accord, it was always his parents who placed them around the house for him when they went over—if it weren’t that his mother had personally crafted the blends, he would have thrown them out.
Tong Ning wasn’t a fan of them, either; he didn’t like the faint whiff of medicinal herbs.
But Tao Xiaodong didn’t even put up a token show of refusal.
The professor had taken the few remaining tincture bottles around, emptying their house out, and Tao Xiaodong easily accepted the gift.
Professor Tang found a small bag for him to hold them, and Tao Xiaodong said, tying the bag, “After my brother’s first eye examination with Yan ge, he came back and told me that he really liked the scent on the doctor’s clothes.”
“Is there someone at home looking after him” Since on the subject of his younger brother, Professor Bai inquired further.
“Who looks after him when you’re at work”
“I have one more younger brother,” Tao Xiaodong said, “His xiao-Ge takes him around.”
“There are three of you at home” Professor Bai was astonished. ∵ one-child policy
“Yeah, he’s adopted, a little tyke from my hometown.
He didn’t have family.” Tao Xiaodong cast his mind back to the year that he had taken Chi Cheng in.
Before he knew it, almost ten years had gone by.
The two elders regarded Tao Xiaodong, and Professor Tang said, “You’re a kind young man.”
“Not at all,” Tao Xiaodong shook his head, smiling.
“I was being selfish.
At first, I thought it would be nice to have a child who will grow up alongside my baby brother.
That way, when I’m unable to look after him, he won’t be alone.”
That was also the truth.
Tao Xiaodong wasn’t a saint.
How could he have the energy to pick up a child off the streets to raise when he was already so wrung out from work Admittedly, that was his original intention, entirely for Tao Huainan’s sake.
“He is kind.” Tang Suoyan said leisurely while drinking tea.
“Xiaodong has helped many people.”
Tang Suoyan often recalled that trip to Tibet when Tao Xiaodong had waited for him outside his room for who was essentially a stranger to him.
The two men had drank tea from flimsy paper cups that night, and Tao Xiaodong had admitted his powerlessness, “I want to help them, but I can’t do anything”, then shook his head, self-deprecatingly, and said to ignore him.
It was plainly evident from the constant crease in his brow and his sincere gaze if he was genuine in his intentions to make small contributions or if he was simply a corporate hotshot doing a farce of philanthropy.
Sincerity and kindness never failed to move hearts.
That was the reason behind Tang Suoyan unexpectedly clearing out sixty hours from his hectic schedule afterwards to fly to Tibet on an overnight business trip.
When leaving, the two of them were foisted many items in addition to the tincture bottles, including food and two packets of fabric softener.
“Pour a little in when you’re doing laundry.
This one has a mild scent.
Winter wear is thick, using this will prevent static.”
Tao Xiaodong was carrying a bag in his right hand.
Tang Suoyan took it before he could, sighing.
“What’s that sigh for” Professor Bai said, “I just want to make sure you can pass your days comfortably.”
In view of his age, he truly shouldn’t still be letting his parents fret over this.
Parents actually wanted very little; his glowing accomplishments as a doctor were all well and good, but when it actually came down to it, they were merely concerned about the well-being of their child, whether healthy and happy in life.
Tang Suoyan reached over and held his mother.
As he was carrying bags in his hand, he wrapped one arm around her.
“I know, you don’t have to worry about me.”
Then, Professor Bai turned over to ask Tao Xiaodong, “Xiaodong, is his place far from where you work Is it inconvenient”
Tao Xiaodong answered without a missed beat, “I’m not staying at Yan ge‘s, auntie, he isn’t letting me stay.”
“Not staying” The professor stared at him and then at Tang Suoyan.
Tang Suoyan immediately darted a look over, stunned by the bolt out of blue, and then shook his head with a smile.
“—Why aren’t you letting him stay”
There was no right response to this question; he couldn’t explain the circumstances without causing his parents worry, so Tang Suoyan simply said, “He’s pulling your leg.”
Translated on ninetysevenkoi.wordpress
– ❀ –
Please do not repost or retranslate.
Back in the car, Tang Suoyan glanced at Tao Xiaodong out the corner of his eye, saying, “You’re quite the tattletale.”
“Hey, it’s the truth.” Tao Xiaodong looked down, replying to his messages.
As he was busy firing off messages, he didn’t look up much the whole journey, glancing out the window from time to time.
When the car finally stopped, they were at the underground parking of Tang Suoyan’s apartment.
Tao Xiaodong pocketed his phone, sticking his hand into the pocket as well, sitting there without budging.
“It’ll be better to send me back now while it’s still bright, it won’t be easy to grab a ride when it gets dark later.”
Tang Suoyan said, “Can I not let you stay when you’ve already tattled on me”
Tao Xiaodong continued to sit there and went, “I didn’t tattle on you.”
Tang Suoyan got out of the car.
Before he shut the door, he smiled and said, “Hurry up and get out.”
Tao Xiaodong dropped the act, getting out of the car and going up with a radiant smile across his face.
In the elevator, Tang Suoyan said, “You certainly hold a grudge.”
“I’m average.” The elevator doors parted and Tao Xiaodong followed him out.
“Depends on what it is about.”
He was just saying that for the kicks; he was ** at holding grudges.
Now, all that was stuck in his head was what they were up to at this hour yesterday.
At the door, Tao Xiaodong entered the passcode.
The passcode had previously been changed to 111222.
As the fingerprint sensor wasn’t that responsive, Tao Xiaodong was still more used to punching in the numbers.
“I was hesitating just now whether to send you home or to head back together.
Actually, I still don’t feel too safe letting you come back.” The passcode failed.
Tao Xiaodong entered it once more, and Tang Suoyan’s breath fanned across the shell of his ear.
Use this in the future.”
Head lowered, Tao Xiaodong inputted the new digits, asking smilingly, “Why didn’t you send me back, then”
Tang Suoyan suddenly touched the nape of his neck, the door opened, and Tang Suoyan said, “I couldn’t bear to.”
One couldn’t bear to send off, while the other couldn’t bear to leave.
Having just confirmed their status as partners, the heart was all hung up on and yearning, and even the soul was drawn towards the other.
They entered the living space, washed their hands, and set down their stuff.
Once done, they bumped into each other at the kitchen door.
Their eyes met, and then they were embracing and pulling into a kiss.
The kiss stoked a low hunger.
Tao Xiaodong asked, voice breathy, “Are we gonna do it”
Tang Suoyan repressed his desire and said no.
“Aren’t you still sore”
“Not much, really.” Tao Xiaodong wet his lips, unconcerned.
“If you’re in the mood, then let’s do it.”
Tang Suoyan studied his face.
Tao Xiaodong, as if nonchalantly, looked at him and said, “It felt damned good doing it with you.
It was incredible.
I never experienced that good before.”
A lascivious note entered Tao Xiaodong’s lopsided grin.
“Isn’t it just derive our pleasures Come on.”
Men understood men.
Shrewd and pensive men even more so.
I’ll sear your every scar, turn the skin feverish and work out the knots.
Tang Suoyan didn’t wind up doing it with him.
They’d just gone a round yesterday, it would’ve been too much to go at it two days straight.
While he himself said that he was fine, Tang Suoyan wouldn’t really take his word for it.
That night, after coming out of the shower, Tao Xiaodong saw that Tang Suoyan was already in his pyjamas, leaning against the head of the bed in his room, reading.
Tao Xiaodong smiled, going over to ask him, “You’re sleeping here tonight”
Tang Suoyan pointed his chin to the space beside him, designating it as his.
Tao Xiaodong mused: It’s my room that you’re sleeping in, what are you putting on airs for
The moment he sat down, Tang Suoyan reached over and caressed his stomach through the cloth of the pyjamas that Tao Xiaodong had on, still reading his book.
It was the same yesterday, and Tao Xiaodong had since become used to it, even exposing the skin for him to touch.
This inclination was one that Tao Xiaodong could understand.
When Tao Huainan was a little smaller, Tao Xiaodong had also enjoyed feeling his soft belly and pinching his arm.
Tao Xiaodong used his phone whilst he read, and when they got drowsy, they hit the lights and fell asleep.
The next day, Tao Xiaodong woke up following Tang Suoyan’s schedule.
When he did, he found that he still had a hand wrapped around Tang Suoyan’s waist.
Seeing that Tang Suoyan was awake, he smiled at him.
Tang Suoyan shut his eyes, then slowly opened and slowly shut again.
Tao Xiaodong watched him for two minutes before, seeing that his eyes were no longer opening, hastily calling him, “Yan ge, don’t go back to sleep… you have to get to work.”
Eyes shut, Tang Suoyan went “mm”, face still plastered to Tao Xiaodong’s neck, not making to move.
“It’s a Monday…” Tao Xiaodong wavered slightly between laughing and crying.
On normal workdays, Tang Suoyan’s eyes were open the moment his alarm rang, wide awake, not dawdling a second.
Tang Suoyan still didn’t move.
Tao Xiaodong squeezed his waist, calling him softly.
It was nice and warm under the quilt with Tao Xiaodong.
Tang Suoyan furrowed his brows but didn’t open his eyes, only getting up after another few more minutes.
Then, once up and ready for work, he reverted to the composed and stern Dr.
At the hospital, there were multiple surgeries for him to perform, patients for him to examine, and academic seminars lined up after.
When heading out, Tang Suoyan said, “I’ll check in with you if I have to work overtime.”
“Okay, I also have a job today, tell me before you get off work and I’ll see if I can pick you up,” Tao Xiaodong said.
Tang Suoyan said, “Just wait for me at the store, I’ll pick you up after work.”
“It’s a waste of time,” Tao Xiaodong said, getting into the car, “you might as well use the time driving over to get more sleep.”
It was so hard to call him up in the morning.
The thought of it still tickled Tao Xiaodong now.
It was so out of character that whatever controlled, staid, or composed image Tang Suoyan portrayed as a doctor was utterly decimated.
“You were too warm, I couldn’t get up.” Tang Suoyan fastened his seatbelt, saying with a completely straight face.
“Then you’d better return to your room to sleep,” said Tao Xiaodong.
“Come over to mine when you don’t have to work on the weekends.”
Glancing at him askew, Tang Suoyan didn’t accept or reject that proposal.
Tang Suoyan went to work and Tao Xiaodong went to the store.
As soon as he stepped in, a pair of assistants barrelled over to sign in protest at him.
During this period of time, students kept alternating in and out, busy with their exams.
Tao Xiaodong wasn’t that proficient in sign language.
Before he could parse out this one, the other one would come over to sign to him.
After some furious signing, they started signing to each other in a tirade, neither looking pleased, their eyebrows pinched and anxious.
Huan Ge told Tao Xiaodong, “They’ve been arguing all morning.”
Although they were signing very rapidly, their lips were tightly pursed into a moue, not articulating the vocal sounds that deaf-mute people usually did.
When Tao Xiaodong first took them in, some weren’t able to hold back and would speak to others in sign, babbling loudly.
There were clients who were derisive and young women who instinctively felt threatened by this unfamiliar group of people.
This affected the store’s image as the environment made the clients feel uncomfortable.
Therefore, as time passed, they learned to refrain from making sounds whilst trying to minimise their facial expressions.
“What are they arguing about” The two squirts were gesticulating wildly and their eyes had even reddened.
Huan Ge translated for him, “Didn’t Xiao Tian request off previously He wanted to go back to work today, but his spot got taken by Xiao Qi, who doesn’t want to return it to him.
They’re fighting for the seat at your workstation, they’ve been fighting from morning till now.”
Xiao Tian had started out as his assistant, but Xiao Qi had been subbing in for him in recent days.
Xiao Tian patted Tao Xiaodong’s arm, wanting to speak, but before he could finish signing, a giant teardrop plopped down.
“Crying over this, honestly.” Tao Xiaodong rubbed the back of both their heads.
He didn’t quite dare to put force on his left hand, so he petted the hair gently.
“Whatever for It’s not worth it.”
Having to resolve such a divisive argument first thing in the morning also put Tao Xiaodong in a tight spot.
Frankly, he worked better with Xiao Tian, but he had no way of saying this without wounding a child’s feelings.
In the end, Huan Ge broke it off, getting them to continue the argument elsewhere so that they wouldn’t impede Dong ge from his work.
While packing up upstairs, Tao Xiaodong texted Tang Suoyan: Two of the kiddos cried fighting over me, heh.
Tang Suoyan didn’t check his phone at work, so Tao Xiaodong busied the morning away and finished lunch before noticing that Tang Suoyan had responded to him five minutes ago.
—Aren’t you mine
Previous: Chapter 50
‘But Tao Xiaodong didn’t even put up a token show of refusal.’ – just some extra info about gift-giving, the receiver usually politely declines the gift while the giver insists you take it.
The number of times you’re expected to decline differs by region.
On that note, that’s why the daughter trying to bribe Tang Suoyan hesitated when he refused her, cause she’s not sure if he means it or if he’s doing the customary refusal.