Chapter 15: Cause and Effect

Lu Qi thought Huo Ming Chen had whispered something like,

“Wouldn’t it be great if you were always like this?”

That voice was too soft, as if Huo Ming Chen was talking to himself.
Lu Qi was just about to ask what he said when Huo Ming Chen suddenly dragged him up,

“Let’s get out of here.
This place is a mess.
Let’s go home.”

Lu Qi didn’t like going to places like this, and so he easily followed Huo Ming Chen to the exit where the cold wind outside blew his hazy mind awake.
The cold and lonely atmosphere outside was a sharp contrast to the muffled dance music and lively noise from the bar.

Huo Ming Chen shivered from the cold, and intending to start a conversation, said,

“It’s so cold, winter is almost here.”

There was no substance to the topic, so Lu Qi disinterestedly said,

“Spring’s not far away either.”

And in a very familiar movement, slipped his hand into the pocket of his pants,

“Ack! Don’t–“

Huo Ming Chen was startled and quickly tried to stop his hand.
If he wanted to kiss, they should go back first.
Don’t do it on the road where everyone can see.

Lu Qi blankly stared at him, and wiggled his fingers.
Under the gaze of Huo Ming Chen, he slowly took out a pair of keys from Huo Ming Chen’s pocket and waved them in front of him.

Lu Qi narrowed his eyes, and said in a suspicious tone,

“What did you want to say just now?”

Huo Ming Chen suddenly thought that he was really stupid, and coughed twice before turning away.
He walked quickly and without a word towards the parking lot, his silhouette a rare scene of distress.

The night was cold, its chill slowly seeping into their bodies.
Lu Qi chuckled behind him, and lowered his hands, following Huo Ming Chen.

The two of them went in the car, and the warmth that surrounded them made them feel sleepy.
Lu Qi was also driving very safely, and in the middle of the ride home, Huo Ming Chen almost fell asleep.
He straightened up in his seat, and yawned, thinking that this sports car must be feeling like it has been wronged,

“Why do you drive like an old grandpa? I could be riding a bicycle and still be faster than you.”

As a person who died in a car accident in his past life, Lu Qi felt that he was already doing a good job, ignoring his psychological trauma.
It’s not like everyone likes speeding like Huo Ming Chen.

“Life is full of accidents, there’s no disadvantage in being cautious.”

Huo Ming Chen did not respond, and turned his eyes away to look at the passing cars out the window.
He lowered his head and played with the door handle.
The next second, his hand was smacked down by Lu Qi, and a slow and steady voice rang beside him,

“Don’t be stupid.
If you die by falling out, I won’t save you.”

Huo Ming Chen angrily tucked his hand back in.
He looked at the back of his hand and found a faint red mark.
He scowled and said coldly,

“Don’t worry.
If I’m going to die, I’ll drag you with me.”

Who knows if what he said was the truth or a lie.

Lu Qi put his hand back on the wheel, and focused on driving, ignoring the brain dead idiot.
As he passed by a 24 hour supermarket, he remembered that he did not eat dinner yet and asked Huo Ming Chen,

“Want to buy some food?”

Someone did not even lift his eyes, and leaned back on the seat like a king,

“I’m going to be blunt, I can’t cook.”

“I didn’t expect you to.
It’s for me anyway.
If you don’t want to move, then sit here.”

Lu Qi parked the car and got out.
He took two steps and out of the corner of his eye, he could see someone following him like a little duckling.
Huo Ming Chen caught up to him, and because there were too many people around, he could only unhappily hit him on the shoulder,

“Fuck, is this how you treat me? You won’t even feed me?”

“Would you eat leftovers?”

“Ah you bastard!”

Lu Qi walked inside the supermarket, pushing a shopping cart with him.
He realized then that as it was close to Chinese New Year, a lot of people were buying supplies.
The supermarket was more crowded than he expected.

Browsing through the supermarket, he grabbed some tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables, along with a carton of eggs, and a few pork bones, thinking that he’ll make some potato pork bone soup.

Huo Ming Chen followed him closely, looking left and right, occasionally throwing some potato chips, yogurt drinks and other junk food into the shopping cart.
The supermarket salesmen were holding big microphones, enthusiastically recommending products, filling the supermarket with lively noises along with the Chinese New Year songs broadcasting through the speakers.


Lu Qi tugged on the collar of his wool sweater, and suddenly recalled that in his previous life, Huo Ming Chen and he had also gone to the supermarket to buy New Year’s supplies.
During that time, it should have been just as boisterous and lively, right?

In the short moment that his mind was elsewhere, a box of dongzao1 was snuck into the shopping cart.
Without even looking, Lu Qi threw it out.
Huo Ming Chen immediately sent a cold gaze towards him,

“What are you doing? I want to eat that.”

“Aren’t you allergic to them?”

Lu Qi remembered when Huo Ming Chen ate too much of the dates, his body would start feeling itchy all over, and rashes would appear.
He even went to the hospital once because of how serious his allergic reaction became.

“But I love to eat them.”

No matter how much they could hurt him, he’s still going to eat one of his favorite foods.

Huo Ming Chen threw the box back, and then lazily drooped himself over the cart handle, smiling smugly at Lu Qi,

“I never realized that you cared so much about me before…… it’s not a big deal if I only eat a little bit.”

Implying that Lu Qi had secretly liked him for a very long time.

A crush from a self-conscious timid person?

What kind of thought is that?

Lu Qi dropped a pack of instant noodles in the cart, and realized that the cart was already full.
Almost all the items inside were Huo Ming Chen’s junk food.
He was already an adult, and he still likes to eat the kind of soft candy that only small children would eat.

Originally, he only planned on buying a small amount of items, but now it has become a big shopping spree.
Huo Ming Chen rested his ankle on his knee, looking very content,

“As expected, shopping can brighten up your mood.”

Lu Qi turned on the car, and exasperated, snapped back,

“You’re not a woman.”

“Fuck, will you die if you don’t talk back to me?”

Huo Ming Chen licked the inside of his mouth, his face showing an unknown expression.
He shuffled closer to Lu Qi and jutted his chin up,

“If I was a woman, would you still have hooked up with me, have sex with me?”

Hook up with him?

Lu Qi looked out the car window towards the sky.
Was Huo Ming Chen daydreaming in the middle of the night? He was too lazy to argue, and so offhandedly placated,

“Don’t know.”

“I guessed that you wouldn’t know.”

Lu Qi drove all the way back to the entrance of their condo complex and parked.
He grabbed the shopping bags and walked with Huo Ming Chen up the stairs.
It seemed like they always come back near midnight, never seeing a single neighbor.

The two of them crowded at the entrance way and took off their shoes.
Huo Ming Chen asked one question after another,

“What are you going to make? Tomato fried eggs? Stir fry vegetables?”

Lu Qi used his actions to reply.
He took out a pot from the cupboards and cooked up two packs of instant noodles.
He added tomatoes, tofu and other vegetables, along with two half boiled eggs.


Huo Ming Chen was stunned into silence, and then averted his eyes,


He went to a supermarket late at night to buy a bunch of food, only to make two bowls of instant noodles.

Lu Qi took the compliment as if it was not sarcastic at all,

“Even though it’s quite cheap, don’t you think instant noodles taste great?”

Hot air was emitting from the pot as it cooked, and the kitchen was slowly being filled with puffs of steam.
The smell of the noodles and vegetables began to call to their stomachs.

Huo Ming Chen looked at the pot for a bit and then suddenly hugged Lu Qi from the back.
His hug pushed them towards the stove, and it was for no particular reason, just like how a child would try to get an adult’s attention, always restless and needing to move things around.

It was just perfect timing then that the noodles finished cooking, and so Lu Qi held on to him and turned off the heat.

There has always been a restlessness in Huo Ming Chen’s bones, always doing things extravagantly, recklessly, and with an impatient attitude.
But since some time ago, Huo Ming chen has started to like these feelings of peace and the realization of time slowly ticking by.
It’s like now, where the two of them are silently holding each other, as if no matter what it’s like, no matter what they do, it won’t feel boring.

“Lu Qi.”

Huo Ming Chen suddenly called out to him, with a unknown emotion behind his voice,

Lu Qi gave him a quick glance, but didn’t say anything.
After a moment of silence, he finally couldn’t hold in the urge and asked,

“Do you have a grudge against me?”

He tugged at the arm wrapped around his waist,

“Loosen up.
I can’t breathe.”

Huo Ming Chen gave a ‘tut’.

“Of course I do.
I’m going to strangle you to death.”

He said as he let go, and turned around to grab two pairs of chopsticks and bowls in the cupboard behind them.


*1 Dongzao is chinese jujube/winter red date, mostly known for its health benefits such as for a healthy stomach, blood flow, helps protect against antibiotics on your liver, and so forth.

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