Chapter 320 – New Year’s Eve
Chen Li didn’t dare to press too hard with his bite; it was more like a gentle touch. But Wei Chen understood Chen Li’s thoughts. He exerted some force and pulled Chen Li closer.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Wei Chen said. Under the dim yellow night light, Wei Chen’s eyes were particularly tender, like aged wine, intoxicating. “Li Li, all of this is real, not a dream.”
“Mmm,” Chen Li nodded, burying his head in Wei Chen’s chest, feeling his breath. This was something he could trust with his whole being, an endless sense of security, almost essential for his existence.
Wei Chen embraced Chen Li tighter, gently planting a kiss on his forehead. “Sleep, it’s late,” he said, reaching out to turn off the bedside lamp. The room instantly plunged into darkness.
Chen Li couldn’t fall asleep. He exchanged a few more words with Wei Chen but eventually succumbed to drowsiness, snuggling into Wei Chen’s embrace and drifting off.
Wei Chen felt Chen Li’s breath becoming steady. His hand traced lightly on Chen Li’s soft face.
He could clearly tell Chen Li this wasn’t a dream. Yet, there were moments when he couldn’t help but wonder if this beautiful life was just an illusion. When would he wake up and find himself back in his previous life, helpless and unable to do anything, watching Chen Li slip away?
Despite nearly three years since his regression, the memories of his past seemed distant. He had grasped the most precious things in life now and had reversed the fate of his previous life. Still, Wei Chen couldn’t shake off the feeling of unreality whenever he recollected.
Whether it was Chen Li or Qiuqiu, both had become an inseparable part of his life, ingrained in his soul. Yet, sometimes he feared it all might vanish when he woke up, leaving him with nothing but estrangement and loneliness.
Of course, Wei Chen couldn’t dwell on such worries. Feeling the warmth in his embrace, sensing Chen Li’s breath, he unmistakably understood that all of this was real.
He had been reborn and had altered his destiny through hard work.
So, having finally attained happiness, he vowed to hold onto it no matter what hardships lay ahead. Wei Chen believed that he would pave a flourishing path in the future, no matter the difficulties or obstacles.
Bowing his head, Wei Chen planted another kiss on Chen Li’s forehead before closing his eyes and falling into slumber alongside him.
Time passed swiftly, and soon it was the twenty-ninth day of the twelfth lunar month, New Year’s Eve. Undoubtedly, this year’s Spring Festival was the liveliest for Wei Chen and Chen Li. With Chen Yunlan, Fang Yun, and even Wei Wei present, it was quite a family gathering.
At noon, Wei Wei and Wei Chen were pasting couplets at the door while Chen Li roamed around the living room carrying Qiuqiu. Chen Yunlan and Fang Yun were busy preparing the New Year’s Eve dinner in the kitchen. Every time something was cooked, Chen Li sneaked in and grabbed a bite, and Chen Yunlan and Fang Yun pretended not to notice.
Qiuqiu was also a little glutton. Although he could only eat some rice porridge for now and nothing else, it didn’t stop him from craving other foods. When Chen Li snatched a bite, Qiuqiu, with his big round eyes, stared at Chen Li, blinking rapidly and opening his mouth, indicating he wanted some too.
Chen Li knew better than to give in, but he had a mischievous streak. Despite knowing Qiuqiu couldn’t eat, he teasingly placed the food near Qiuqiu’s nose. As soon as Qiuqiu opened his mouth, Chen Li swiftly popped the food into his own mouth.
At first, Qiuqiu thought Chen Li was playing with him. But after several attempts, Qiuqiu didn’t find it amusing anymore. When Chen Li once again brought food close to Qiuqiu’s nose, he started crying.
Coincidentally, Wei Chen finished putting up the couplets and entered, immediately sensing what had happened between Chen Li and Qiuqiu. He put down the glue and reached out to pick up Qiuqiu. “Are you teasing Qiuqiu again?” There was no scolding tone, only a tone full of indulgence and fondness.
Chen Li shook his head immediately, justifying himself, “But he can’t eat!”
“You…” Wei Chen leaned in and kissed Chen Li, wiping away some soup left on his lips. Since Qiuqiu was born, Chen Li had become more carefree. Sometimes he acted childishly, which amused and bewildered Wei Chen. But what could he do? Wei Chen was willing to pamper him, even hoping Chen Li would be a bit more childish and willful.
Wei Wei stood by, covering his eyes. Both his brother and Chen Li were so shameless!
Qiuqiu remained attached to Wei Chen, now in his embrace, lying on Wei Chen’s shoulder as if reporting something, making little grunting sounds.
Wei Chen gently patted Qiuqiu’s back, saying, “Qiuqiu, today Daddy won’t eat sweets as a punishment.”
Qiuqiu might not have understood, but at least he turned from Wei Chen’s embrace toward Chen Li, extending his little chubby paw, wanting Chen Li to hold him.
Naturally, Chen Li wouldn’t refuse. He reached out to take Qiuqiu, but in the next moment, Qiuqiu crawled back onto Wei Chen’s shoulder, refusing to let Chen Li hold him.
The message was clear. Just as Chen Li had teased him with food earlier, now Qiuqiu was playing back!
Today, Qiuqiu wasn’t wearing diapers, just open-crotch pants, revealing his tender little bottom. Chen Li lightly tapped Qiuqiu’s soft bottom and pretended to be angry, saying, “You little bad guy!”
Chen Li’s hand barely touched Qiuqiu’s bottom, and Qiuqiu immediately started wailing, clearly fake, as not a tear fell.
Just a few months old and already pulling a “touching porcelain”?
Chen Li looked at his hand, somewhat stunned. Eventually, he took Qiuqiu from Wei Chen’s arms, gently tapped Qiuqiu’s bottom again, and Qiuqiu whimpered a few times, casting a pitiful look at Wei Chen.
“Achen, don’t mind him.” Chen Li took Qiuqiu to the sofa, placing him there. Qiuqiu could only sit for now, and he sat on the sofa, staring at Chen Li with big eyes.
“Qiuqiu!” Chen Li tried to maintain a serious face, attempting to appear stern.
Seeing Wei Chen not coming over, Qiuqiu stopped wailing. When called by Chen Li, he blew a few bubbles, puffing his cheeks, utterly adorable.
Chen Li couldn’t resist. He chuckled; he wasn’t naturally serious. His son had easily amused him. He reached out and pulled Qiuqiu back into his embrace, gently nudging his head against Qiuqiu’s body. Qiuqiu giggled, his big eyes curved with joy.
Witnessing the reconciliation between Chen Li and Qiuqiu, Wei Chen approached. As he settled on the sofa, Chen Li lay down, still holding Qiuqiu. Father and son both wore matching smiles. Wei Chen’s heart softened, a smile evident in his eyes.
Chen Li played and laughed with Qiuqiu in Wei Chen’s lap, filling the living room with laughter. In the busy kitchen, Fang Yun and Chen Yunlan heard the laughter, their faces also breaking into smiles.
“When Chen Li first married Wei Chen, I couldn’t have imagined him being like this now,” Fang Yun sighed.
Back then, at the first sight of Chen Li, Fang Yun couldn’t believe he was already an adult. He was so thin, almost skeletal, lacking vitality in his face, with eyes like stagnant water.
At that time, she could never have imagined that the once thin, withdrawn child would now live in such happiness, with laughter echoing freely.
Chen Yunlan paused in his kitchen chores upon hearing Fang Yun’s words.
He found out Chen Li was his son when Chen Li had already emerged from the darkness, laughing and playing around. Even though he knew what Chen Li had been through, having never witnessed it himself, Chen Yunlan couldn’t imagine what the Chen Li trapped in darkness had been like.
Sometimes, Chen Yunlan felt a pang of guilt. If he had known about Chen Li’s existence earlier, could he have spared him from so much suffering?
“Yunlan,” Fang Yun put the squirrel fish into the hot oil, causing it to sizzle.
Chen Yunlan snapped back, “Sister Fang.” Despite being in a relationship as in-laws, Fang Yun was about ten years older than Chen Yunlan. However, Chen Yunlan was accustomed to calling her Sister Fang, feeling a bit closer.
“The past is in the past. Xiao Li is doing well now, isn’t he?” Fang Yun, aware of some details, offered consolation.
“I know.” Chen Yunlan nodded, suppressing any negative emotions and focusing on his task at hand.
Towards evening, Chen Yunlan kneaded the dough and prepared the filling. The family gathered in the dining room to make dumplings.
Qiuqiu sat on the carpet, holding a large orange. When he noticed the adults gathered around the table making dumplings and not paying him attention, he grew unhappy. He began making some noises, hoping to attract the adults’ attention.
Chen Li heard him but didn’t turn around, signaling others not to either.
Knowing Chen Li was in a playful mood, Wei Chen let him be. Chen Yunlan and Fang Yun cooperated well. This pair of father and son didn’t behave like parent and child but more like siblings. Qiuqiu was still young, and it was his nature, but Chen Li was becoming more and more childish.
Seeing the smile on Chen Li’s face, everyone present was willing to indulge his childishness, knowing that Chen Li had a limit.
Qiuqiu made louder noises and eventually lay on the carpet crying, shoulders shaking as if truly upset.
Chen Li, seemingly oblivious, was busy with a ball of dough. Before long, he sculpted a lifelike rabbit from the dough.
Wei Wei saw it and couldn’t help but exclaim, “Wow, Brother Chen Li, you’re amazing!”
“Thank you.” Chen Li glanced at Qiuqiu on the floor sneakily, and indeed, Qiuqiu’s crying paused momentarily.
“Brother Chen Li, can I have this rabbit?”