Part 2

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Tao Ran was a little absent-minded the whole day.
He was thinking about those messages and couldn’t resist checking repeatedly to see if the other party had replied to him.
He waited and waited, until he was about to get off work, when he finally got a message.
[Mmm, okay.]

Tao Ran played cute — he was still very confident about his appearance.
Pretending to be relaxed but actually anxious, he asked: If I change, will you forgive me?

But there was no reply.

Tao Ran bit his lip, thinking inside, how could Xu Ziyang be so cruel.
He chased him for four years, the two were together for five years, and they had been separated for two years.
Now, he was already a grown man in his thirties.
He was already lowering his head and groveling like this, but Xu Ziyang was still ignoring him.

He was so upset that he didn’t want to say anything, just thinking in his heart, but I really have changed ah.

In the evening, when he met up with Lao Yang, the topic somehow turned to Xu Ziyang.
He pretended to ask unintentionally, “While you were abroad, did you see Da Yang? Is he doing well?” Since both Yang Yangyang and Xu Ziyang had a Yang in their name, one was called Lao Yang and the other was called Da Yang[1].

Xu Ziyang went abroad when they broke up, and hadn’t returned since.
Tao Ran’s relationship with Xu Ziyang was official.
He even went to the Xu family and begged Mother Xu to tell him where Xu Ziyang was.

But it was as if everyone had already made an agreement to not tell him.

Lao Yang smiled awkwardly.
“He’s good.
He’s living a nice life now, and when he’s free, he’ll take a walk or have a drink.
And he has a bunch of friends now, pretty unfettered.”

“Then… Does he have a girlfriend? I send him messages but he doesn’t really respond to me.” At that time, Xu Ziyang broke up with him for two reasons.
One was that he was too squeamish and had a bad temper.
The other was that Xu Ziyang realized gradually that he still liked girls, and there was no way he could continue to stay together with a man.

Hearing this, Lao Yang frowned, thought for a moment, and then replied, “I don’t think so.
I haven’t heard him mention it.” He sighed, “It’s been several years, and you still can’t let go of Da Yang.
You know him better than me.
Once he makes up his mind, he won’t go back on it.
Aye, don’t be so stubborn.”[2]

Tao Ran pouted, “I’ll try my best.”

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That night, except for the part about Xu Ziyang, they had a great chat, extending their outing several times.
Tao Ran was the kind of person who liked to share the fun.
Whenever he encountered something fun or something good to eat, he would send it to Xu Ziyang to show off.[3]

After breaking up, he restrained himself a lot, but he had drunk too much today.
In a haze, he typed out a lot of messages, syllable by syllable, telling Xu Ziyang how happy he was.

In the chaos, he pushed Lao Yang, who was also very drunk, “Your mobile phone has been vibrating… Did you get a boyfriend?”

Lao Yang slapped the back of his head, “What boyfriend, get your head out of the gutter.”

Tao Ran was already in a daze, giggling while hugging the wine bottle.

The next day was the weekend, and Tao Ran got up with a hangover, planning to do a deep clean.
This house was his and Xu Ziyang’s, so he had to take good care of it.

After they got together, their parents bought a house for the two of them, paying in full, with their names on the deed.
Tao Ran was very happy, and dragged Xu Ziyang to decorate their new home with great enthusiasm.
Every brick and tile here was a masterpiece of the two of them.
After breaking up, Tao Ran packed up and moved away in tears.
Then Mother Xu called and said the house had been transferred to him, telling him to live here without worry.

Tao Ran had lost his parents at that time, so you could say he was homeless.
He felt incredibly uncomfortable, feeling that Mother Xu was using the house to get rid of him.
But in the end, he still couldn’t resist the temptation of “the house where he and Xu Ziyang once lived together”, so he thickened his face and stayed.

He cherished this “home” very much.

Cleaning started with the kitchen.

Tao Ran pinched his nose, and washed the dishes that had piled up for two days, saying to himself, “I really hate washing dishes…”

Mint came out from who knows where, and circling his feet, mewed cutely.
Tao Ran squatted down and scratched its chin, and it gave the slave[4] a satisfied kiss.

By the time Tao Ran cleaned up the house, it was already afternoon.
He changed his clothes and went out.
The destination was Xu Ziyang’s parents’ house.

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Back when they had just broken up, he would go there almost two or three times a week, begging Mother and Father Xu to let him meet Xu Ziyang, begging them to tell him about Xu Ziyang, and begging them to put in a few good words so Xu Ziyang would get back together with him.

But Father Xu would only sigh.
Mother Xu would cry along with him, but she would just repeat one sentence to death, Ziyang doesn’t want to be with you anymore, there’s nothing we can do, nothing I say will help.

Tao Ran couldn’t understand to this day.
Obviously Mother and Father Xu had accepted him, and they treated him so well, saying that he was their second son.
Yet after breaking up, how could they harden their hearts like this? No matter how much he begged, it was useless.

When Tao Ran came to the Xu house, Mother Xu was watching TV and Father Xu was not there.
Seeing him coming, Mother Xu greeted with a smile, “Tao Tao is here.” Tao Ran, diminutive Tao Tao.[5]

Tao Ran put down the fruits[6] he was carrying, took off his shoes and went inside, calling out naturally, “Mom.”

Mother Xu responded vaguely and chatted with him.

The topic returned to Xu Ziyang, and Tao Ran, beating around the bush, tried to find out when Xu Ziyang would come back from abroad.

Mother Xu sighed, “Tao Tao, I know you have grievances against us in your heart, but I still have to thicken my face to say something.
I truly want the best for you.”

She patted the back of Tao Ran’s hand, “Ziyang doesn’t want us to tell you where he is.
As a mother, I also feel that he is too callous, and he’s not worthy of you.
Good child, you are still young, so hurry up and find someone else.
Come on, don’t let Ziyang delay you.”

Tao Ran pursed his lips and didn’t speak for a long time.
The two were silent for a long moment before he asked, “I’ll just ask, Xu Ziyang… is he still single now?”

Mother Xu looked at him, her eyes flashing unbearably.
After a moment of hesitation, she finally nodded.

Tao Ran smiled, as if satisfied.
“That’s good.”

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No matter how hard he chased after him, he still had his own pride.
If Xu Ziyang had a new love, he would definitely turn his head and leave without continuing to bother him.

“You…” Mother Xu hesitated.
She wanted Tao Ran to visit less, not because she disliked him, but to let him get rid of the past as soon as possible and start a new life.

Tao Ran knew what she wanted to say, so he reached out and hugged her, comforting her instead, “I know… I will try my best to let him go.
But Mom, I recognized you as my godmother.[7] Since my parents left, you and my godfather have been my only family.
Even though I broke up with Xu Ziyang, I will never forget the kindness you treated me with.”

Mother Xu’s eyes moistened when she heard those words.
She patted Tao Ran on the back, and scolded her son through gritted teeth, “What kind of evil did Ziyang create…”

On the way home, he sent Xu Ziyang a message.

Tao: I went to our mother’s house.

Tao: She was scolding you.

Tao: Lao Yang was also scolding you last night.

Tao: Everyone is on my side, so I’m very good.
You are really blind.

As usual, Xu Ziyang did not reply to him.

Xu Ziyang was always like this.
Once he made a decision, there was no room left for compromise with other people.
After they got together that year, he told Tao Ran that he had already been moved by second year, then spent a year observing Tao Ran’s determination, then another year dealing with friends and family.
So, by fourth year, everyone thought they were already together.
Only Tao Ran was still stupidly chasing him.

As soon as they graduated, Xu Ziyang met the parents resolutely, officially came out of the closet, bought a house, and began to live with him.

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Tao Ran was stunned the whole time, overwhelmed by the pie that hit him in the head and at a loss.

Later, when they broke up, it was the same.
Xu Ziyang gradually became indifferent to him.
First, he didn’t sleep with him, then he didn’t eat with him, then he didn’t communicate with him.
Finally, Tao Ran couldn’t bear it and had a huge fight with him. 

Xu Ziyang immediately broke up with him, and before Tao Ran realized what had happened, he simply left the country and never came back.
In order to prevent him from harassing him, Xu Ziyang also blacklisted all his contact information.
In the end, after using the carrot and stick, Tao Ran finally got him to leave one WeChat account, and he basically did not reply.

He was always passively bearing it, bearing Xu Ziyang’s love, bearing Xu Ziyang’s indifference, without the slightest ability to resist.

He didn’t even dare to think about these things.
Once he remembered them even a little, Tao Ran would be so sad that he couldn’t breathe.

[1] Yang Yangyang’s nickname is “Old Yang”, and Xu Ziyang’s nickname is “Big Yang”.

[2] The word he uses is 轴 (lit: “axle”).
It’s Beijing slang meaning someone who is inflexible, dogmatic, overly sincere, and difficult to change.

[3] The phrase he uses is “献宝” (lit: “offering treasures”) which seems to come off from a Yangzhou phrase “波斯献宝” (lit: “Persians offering treasures”), which is a sarcastic way of saying that you’re showing off something which is only valuable to yourself.

[4] It’s a Chinese internet meme that cat owners are poop-shoveling slaves.

[5] A cutesy pet name that is generally used by parents or family members for children.
In this context, it means Tao Ran is very close to his in-laws.
In the north, it’s typically a character of your name repeated twice, or Xiao (little) + a character of your name.
In the south, it’s typically A + a character of your name.
For the first type (a character repeated twice), sometimes an arbitrary character is used. 

[6] Fruits are a typical guest-gift in East Asian cultures.

[7] 干妈 is typically translated as “godmother”, but to my knowledge, it has nothing to do with Christianity.

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