Tang Xu was still in the private room, but the leftovers had been cleared away and new tea cups were brought out.
Tang Xu did not show any unusual surprise when Xiang Wan and Tang Yishan came back and forth.
He just stood up and politely gave up his seat.
“It’s getting late, and I won’t beat around the bush,” Xiang Wan said.
“There are some things that I can’t say in front of Cuo Cuo, but I feel like I have to say them.”
Tang Xu nodded and spoke respectfully, “Please go ahead; I’m listening.”
“To be honest, if it wasn’t you standing with Cuo Cuo today but another man with the same qualifications as you, I would have objected.”
Tang Xu smiled to indicate his understanding.
“But because it’s you, I feel like I can’t object.” Xiang Wan looked deeply at Tang Xu, her face serious and without any trace of a smile.
“I’ve always felt that his feelings for you are different.
When he first came to us, he insisted on changing his name back to Tang Cuo.
At that time, I didn’t think much of it and only thought he was trying to get back at you.
But later, when he was already in high school, one night when I came back very late, I saw him sleeping with a computer in his arms.
I went to help him move the computer and accidentally saw an email he was editing, which was for you.”
At this point, Xiang Wan stopped, and her gaze turned a bit cold.
“I’m sorry for invading his personal privacy at the time.
That night, I looked through his sent and received emails.
All of the sent emails were to you, and there were many pages… But in the received emails, there were only a few replies from you from a few years ago.
It was also on that night that I realized that his feelings for you may not be as simple as I had imagined… But there’s one thing I still can’t understand.
Tang not receive those emails that Cuo Cuo sent to you, or did he not want to reply?”
Tang Cuo was completely stunned.
He did have two work email accounts, which he had been using for years, but he had never received any emails from Tang Xu.
“I didn’t receive them…”
Just as he finished saying “no,” something that had been forgotten suddenly popped into his mind.
Seven or eight years ago, before the emergence of the various social media platforms we have today, email was even more commonly used.
Tang Xu had a frequently used email account.
The first time Tang Cuo saw him reading someone else’s email in his inbox, he pestered him to teach him how to use it.
He remembered that after teaching Tang Cuo how to send emails on the old desktop computer at home, his email inbox was bombarded with dozens of emails every day.
The contents were of no substance, just the ramblings of a child, but they aggressively took up the limited capacity of his email inbox.
He was helpless and applied for a new email account one week later, telling Tang Cuo that it was a special email account just for him, like pleasing a child.
But he remembered Tang Cuo’s eyes curving with laughter, and he cheered for a while.
That email account… How many years has it been since he last logged in?
Tang Cuo sent a text message to Tang Xu when it was almost one o’clock, and Tang Xu was sitting in the car and about to finish reading the emails in that account, more than seven hundred in total.
The emails started eight years ago and stopped three years ago.
He never thought he would learn about those years of Tang Cuo in this way.
The emails at first were all apologies and pleas.
Later, they gradually turned into descriptions of daily life, such as getting first place in an exam, learning to play the flute, winning third prize in a national essay competition, and entering a top high school in the city.
These report-like contents were sometimes lengthy and sometimes just a few words.
And at the end of each email, there was almost the same sentence:
“If you’re not too busy, I hope you can reply to me once.
Tang Xu’s throat tightened with pain, and he covered his face with his hand, rubbing it fiercely.
The text message from Tang Cuo was very simple, with only five words: “Are you asleep yet?”
The not-so-large phone screen was particularly bright in the silent night, and so was the notebook computer that had been buzzing and emitting heat for a while.
Tang Xu picked up his phone, glanced at it, and put it down.
He moved his finger slightly and opened the last three emails.
There were two emails from June 5th, 2012, and the first one was as usual.
“I’m taking the college entrance exams the day after tomorrow.
If you’re not too busy, I hope you can reply to me once.
The second email was thinner and quieter, without the usual sentence from before.
“You’re not coming back, are you?”
On June 6th, 2012, there was one last email.
“Can I come find you?”
This was Tang Cuo’s last email.
He Zhong got hold of what he claimed to be the scariest horror movie in history from somewhere and insisted on watching it at night.
He was too scared to watch it alone and dragged Tang Cuo and the others along.
Zhao Feifei, wrapped in a thin summer blanket, shuddered and watched for a while before dragging Zhong Ming to leave and spend the night at an internet cafe, leaving only He Zhong and Tang Cuo to rely on each other.
As the movie played to a spine-chilling moment, Tang Cuo’s phone suddenly rang.
He Zhong was so scared that he jumped up from his chair, wailing and clinging to Tang Cuo with his arms and legs.
Tang Cuo was also scared and began to scream, and the two of them howled together, making a mess.
After realizing who was calling, Tang Cuo quickly pulled He Zhong off him and ran to the hallway, covering his phone and answering the call.
“Why does your voice sound hoarse?” Tang Xu asked.
Tang Cuo cleared his throat gently and ran his hand through his damp hair, which was damp with sweat.
“Nothing; I can’t sleep anyway, so I’m watching horror movies with He Zhong and the others.”
Tang Xu laughed a couple of times on the other end, and after a pause, he said, “Since you can’t sleep, why don’t you come with me? I’m right downstairs in your building.”
Tang Cuo ran down the stairs, almost losing his slippers on his feet.
When he rushed out of the building and saw Tang Xu not far away, his chest was still heaving violently, colliding with the evening breeze, and bursting with intense and burning emotions.
He stopped on the steps, looked at the figure shrouded in darkness ahead, and tried to calm his breathing a little.
Tang Cuo didn’t even go back to the dormitory.
He was wearing a pair of baggy black shorts and a white cotton t-shirt that had lost its shape.
Today the wind was strong, and the t-shirt was blown to one side, tightly clinging to his body and outlining the beautiful waistline of the young man.
As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but even Tang Xu felt that Tang Cuo was too outstanding in this outfit.
“Why are you in such a hurry?” He pressed the cigarette between his fingertips and extinguished it in a nearby trash can.
Throughout the whole process, his eyes were locked tightly on Tang Cuo’s face without moving for even a second.
He saw Tang Cuo’s shoulders rhythmically moving up and down with his breath, his cheeks slightly flushed.
With the illumination of the light at the entrance of the building, he could even see the glimmering sweat beads and the intense gaze he cast.
Standing still, he slowly opened his arms with a smile towards Tang Cuo.
Tang Cuo was stunned for two seconds, and in the next moment, he had taken big strides down the steps, running into this embrace.
I like to embrace you in the darkness because the darkness is gentle, and you are even more so.
The person rushed into his arms, and Tang Xu wrapped his arms tightly around him.
His chin rested on Tang Cuo’s soft hair, feeling the warmth that belonged to him.
The scene of Tang Cuo running towards him just now kept flashing in his mind, which made him uncontrollably think about what kind of emotions Tang Cuo had when he came to him after more than 700 unanswered emails and what kind of emotions he had when he worked hard on a lonely road before that.
As soon as this thought came up, his heart immediately became full of holes.
“Why did you come so late?” Tang Cuo buried his head and asked.
Tang Xu said, “I missed you.”
I missed you too much, so I couldn’t wait for the whole night.
At one o’clock in the morning, there was no one else to be seen at the University of Science and Technology.
After hugging for a while, Tang Xu suddenly pulled Tang Cuo to the back of the dormitory building.
The dormitory building and the school’s wall formed a hidden corner, which was usually not visited by anyone except stray cats.
Because they had just watched a horror movie, Tang Cuo felt a little scared looking at the dark area in front of them.
Tang Xu walked quickly, pulling Tang Cuo along, making him unsteady on his feet.
When Tang Cuo tripped on a stone, he lost his balance and fell towards Tang Xu.
Tang Xu caught him and used his strength to press him against the wall.
The passionate kiss came suddenly, catching Tang Cuo off guard and causing him to make the mistake of a beginner again.
He kept his eyes open and watched Tang Xù’s eyelashes tremble slightly with emotion.
Their foreheads touched, and Tang Xu’s breath blew onto his nose, making him feel ticklish.
“What’s wrong with you?” Tang Cuo asked.
Even if he was slow-witted, Tang Cuo could easily sense Tang Xu’s excitement tonight.
He had been overthinking a lot tonight, and Tang Xu’s abnormal behaviour made him uneasy.
He had a feeling that something had happened that he didn’t know about.
Thinking of this, he asked urgently, “Is it my parents…?”
The words were cut off as Tang Xu suddenly spoke a fast sentence, crystal clear in the silent environment, gripping the heart and soul.
“I like you.”
Tang Cuo was stunned.
Tang Xu held his face glued to his eyes and continued, “I love you.”
Caught off guard by his sudden confession, Tang Cuo’s face flushed, and he shrank his neck.
“Why did you suddenly say this?”
Tang Xu didn’t reply.
This time he connected the two sentences and said, “I like you; I love you.
I like you more than I imagined, and I love you more than I imagined.”
The night wind blew Tang Cuo’s hair, a strand of it falling onto his forehead and blocking his eyes.
Tang Cuo was confused by the situation and felt embarrassed by the confession, so he repeated his earlier question without thinking.
Tang Xu raised a gentle hand and brushed away the stray hair, whispering, “I just feel like a failure.”
In Tang Cuo’s mind, this was a word that could never be associated with Tang Xu.
But Tang Xu did indeed look a bit dejected, and it didn’t seem like he was just imagining things.
Tang Cuo blinked and cautiously asked him, “Why?”
The gaze that Tang Cuo cast over her was too tender, and in that moment, Tang Xu wanted to treasure that gaze for a lifetime.
He smiled through the bitterness and kissed Tang Cuo again.
“As a teacher and role model, I actually let you confess first.”
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