After dinner, Hua Zhendan had taken a bath and returned to the hammock on the porch. Staring at the stars, he let his mind replay his favorite memories with Xuan Tianyi.
\"Hey.\" Xuan Tianyi's voice echoed through Hua Zhendan's subconscious, bringing him back to reality.
For the second time in one night, Hua Zhendan thought he had imagined Xuan Tianyi's voice. Still, when he looked at the porch's door, Xuan Tianyi's figure appeared in his line of vision. With a small smile, he spoke to him. \"I thought you left.\"
\"I did. But then, I realized I had forgotten something. So I had to come back.\" Xuan Tianyi replied.
Hua Zhendan raised a brow. \"What did you forget?\"
\"My... My pen.\" Xuan Tianyi stuttered.
Hua Zhendan chuckled. In that instant, he knew why Xuan Tianyi had returned. If he didn't know Xuan Tianyi stuttered when he was embarrassed, their almost one year together could be considered a waste of time. Unashamedly, he asked. \"Wouldn't it be easier to just say you came back because you wanted to be with me?\"
\"That's... Not... Not what I want.\" Xuan Tianyi stuttered again.
\"Come here.\" Hua Zhendan said softly.
Xuan Tianyi complied with no resistance. Soon, he was standing right in front of Hua Zhendan.
Hua Zhendan wrapped his hand around his waist. Looking up at Xuan Tianyi, he asked in a soft voice, \"What do you want then?\"
\"If... If I told you what I wanted, will you give it to me?\"
Hua Zhendan raised a brow. Xuan Tianyi almost never asks him for anything. \"Is it something I can give you?\"
\"Yes.\" Xuan Tianyi said with a nod.
\"Tell me then.\"
\"I...\" Xuan Tianyi brushed a strand of hair from Hua Zhendan's face so he could look see it clearly as he spoke. \"When I saw you earlier... I realized I had missed you.\"
Hua Zhendan smiled again.
\"And when you and Shen Rui were talking about Qiu Dawei, I couldn't take it, so I went away.\"
Hua Zhendan nodded. He knew that much.
\"When... When I was going away, I realized I couldn't leave. Because... Because I wanted to... To be with you.\"
Hua Zhendan nodded but concealed his smile behind a staunch expression. Even in the darkness of the dimly-lit porch, he could still see how embarrassed Xuan Tianyi was and didn't want to cause him anymore embarrassment. Clearing his throat, he asked. \"Are you asking me out?\"
Xuan Tianyi shook his head. \"I... I want to... Be with you tonight.\"
Hua Zhendan raised a brow in surprise. That was the last thing he had expected Xuan Tianyi to say. He didn't want one-night-stands to be their relationship's New Year's Eve tradition. Releasing Xuan Tianyi's waist, he shook his head and replied with one word. \"No.\"
Xuan Tianyi sat on the hammock beside him. In a persuasive tone, he asked. \"Why not? You said you'd give me what I wanted if it was something you could give.\"
\"And I'm willing to give you the remaining nights of my life. You should have recognized that much when I told you before that I would marry you.\"
Xuan Tianyi dropped his head.
\"Xuan Tianyi,\" Hua Zhendan said with a seriousness that made Xuan Tianyi afraid to look into his face. \"If you don't want me everyday... If all you want is one night and nothing more, then, I'm afraid that's something I can't give you.\"
Xuan Tianyi started to talk, but Hua Zhendan interrupted him. \"You know... I talked to Qiu Dawei. And I realized I made a mistake some five years ago.
\"The night I thought he cheated on me, I found out he didn't. I had given up on that relationship because I couldn't handle the anger and jealousy I felt after what I presumed was a ruthless betrayal.\"
Xuan Tianyi looked up at Hua Zhendan. What Hua Zhendan didn't know was that he had seen him together with Qiu Dawei at the hospital and had heard every word the two of them had exchanged.
Hua Zhendan continued. \"The only reason I told you I don't want to go after you anymore was because you kept shoving that Fah boy in my face and I'm just too possessive and jealous to take that kind of treatment laying down.
\"The moment I realized my mistake from that time, my first instinct was to come after you and confess my love to you all over again.
\"But then, I remembered you had told me you didn't want me back in your life. And I thought about it and realized something else. Everytime I try to chase after you, it never works out. For some reason, the only way we work is when you come after me first.
\"So, I stayed still and waited for you. For two weeks, I didn't call. All I did was wait. And now that I think you finally came to your senses, this is what you've come here to tell me?\"
\"Why didn't you go back to Qiu Dawei?\"
The question threw Hua Zhendan off-guard. That wasn't the next thing he had expected Xuan Tianyi to say. \"What?\"
\"When you discovered your mistake, why didn't you go back to Qiu Dawei? He still wanted you back, didn't he?\"
\"He did want me.\" Hua Zhendan touched Xuan Tianyi's face lightly. \"But you're the one I'm in love with.\"
Carefully, Xuan Tianyi removed Hua Zhendan's hand from his face. \"Why?\"
\"What do you mean, 'why?'\"
\"I mean...\" Xuan Tianyi stood up from the hammock. He explained his question. \"Why do you love me? So much that you'd choose Qiu Dawei over me?\"
\"I don't know.\" As Hua Zhendan spoke, he stood up so he was standing in front of Xuan Tianyi. \"Do I need a reason to love you?\"
Xuan Tianyi sighed. \"Maybe you don't. But everyone needs a reason to stay with someone. And 'love' just doesn't sound like a good enough reason to me.\"
\"What are you trying to say?\"
\"I'm saying... There's nothing good about me.\" Xuan Tianyi pointed to his chest. \"I don't match up to you on any level at all. You and I... We don't fit. But Qiu Dawei...\"
\"Stop it, Xuan Tianyi.\" Hua Zhendan shunned him immediately.
\"No, I can't. All I have is a secondary school education. Qiu Dawei... He's very smart. And even more educated than you. He owns a business; one that he started with nobody's help. Any money I have ever had is because of the job you offered me on a platter of gold. I didn't even work for it, I don't even deserve it.\"
Hua Zhendan shook his head in dismay. \"All of that doesn't matter. The only real problem I see here is your low self-esteem.\"
\"And I don't deny that I have that problem. But how can I ever feel like I'm good enough for you if I don't feel good about myself?\"
\"You seem to be forgetting something. Yes, I'm the reason you are financially independent. But I didn't offer you a job because of our relationship.\" Hua Zhendan held both of Xuan Tianyi's hands. \"I gave it to you because I looked at you and saw potential. I looked at you and saw beauty and talent. Maybe if you saw yourself the way I saw you, you wouldn't put yourself down the way you do.\"
Xuan Tianyi pulled his hands from Hua Zhendan's. With a sigh, he said. \"It's not that I don't see what you see. It's just that the more I flaunt my body in exchange for money, the less respect I have for myself.\"
\"I didn't know that was how you felt.\"
\"That's exactly how I feel. And I don't have anything against this job, it just isn't for me.\"
Hua Zhendan sighed.
Xuan Tianyi continued. \"I have so much respect for you, Hua Zhendan. So much that I don't just don't see how someone as worthless as me could ever be worthy of you.\"
\"But... I don't care about any of that stuff.\"
\"But I do care.\"
\"All of this didn't matter before. Why now?\"
Xuan Tianyi shook his head and hugged himself. \"It always mattered. But never this much. Not until I looked at Qiu Dawei and saw how much better you could do.\"
Hua Zhendan sighed. Every time Xuan Tianyi compared himself to Qiu Dawei, it hurt him.
\"I now see why you have so much respect for him.\"
\"It's not about any of that.\"
\"It's about some of that. And he's a really good person. He could've easily guilted you into staying with him, but he put your happiness before his. Not so many people can love someone so selflessly.\"
\"How did you know about that?\"
\"Tan Yao told me he saw you at the reception that day. I wanted to see who was admitted and I saw you two talking. I couldn't stop listening to your conversation.\"
Hua Zhendan shook his head. \"You love selflessly too.\"
\"If I did. As much as I love you, I would stay with you because you love me just the way I am.\"
Hua Zhendan sighed deeply. The conversation was exhausting him so much his legs were starting to weaken. \"You know what? I'm done convincing you. If you want to go, that's okay. Just leave.\"
Xuan Tianyi took a big step towards Hua Zhendan. Pulling him by the neck of his grey-colored T-shirt, he planted his lips on his and kissed him deeply.
With stronger willpower than Hua Zhendan knew he possessed, he pulled himself away from Xuan Tianyi. \"What are you doing?\"
Xuan Tianyi held on to the body of Hua Zhendan's shirt. \"I'm working on myself, I swear.\"
Hua Zhendan stared into Xuan Tianyi's eyes and immediately noticed they were clouded with tears. Although it hurt his heart, he said nothing.
Xuan Tianyi continued to speak. \"The reason I came to see Shen Rui tonight was that I don't want to act in her movie anymore. I can't stand kissing some other man if it isn't you.\"
Those words were enough to melt the anger in Hua Zhendan's heart. Holding Xuan Tianyi's face, he pulled him into himself and kissed him with untamed passion.