Chapter 392 – There’s always a way

Through the changing seasons, a year had passed, torn away with each flipping page of the calendar.

Little Qiuqiu grew another year older, taller, and more articulate. The only unchanging aspect seemed to be his chubby figure.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t too bad. Over this year, Wei Chen and Chen Li paid great attention to Qiuqiu’s health. Despite his love for food, his weight didn’t skyrocket again, which was a cause for celebration. Now, this chubby little guy sat on the suitcase by the door, waiting for his two dads to come down. It was summer vacation, and Wei Chen had specifically taken half a month off to take Qiuqiu and Chen Li on a trip.

Their destination this time was Lan Xiping’s hometown, a secluded paradise in the southern region.

During spring, Lan Xiping had sent some photos of peach blossoms in full bloom, which didn’t quite captivate Chen Li. However, it was a box of juicy peaches sent last summer by Lan Xiping that had made Chen Li and Qiuqiu crave them.

The peaches from Taohua Village were large, thin-skinned fruits with a pinkish hue. With a gentle scratch, the skin would peel off effortlessly, revealing juicy flesh. The pits were a dark red, and the sweetness permeated right from the surface.

Even Wei Chen, who usually wasn’t much of a glutton, couldn’t resist having more than one.

But the peach season in Taohua Village lasted only about twenty days, and after Lan Xiping sent a few shipments, there were no more peaches.

Chen Li and Qiuqiu had been craving them for over a year. Yesterday, Lan Xiping called and mentioned that the peach season was about to begin. Chen Li, already discussing summer travel plans with Wei Chen, promptly decided on Taohua Village.

Of course, according to Chen Li, they were going to see Lan Xiping; the peach-eating was just a bonus.

Since the decision was made, Wei Chen and Chen Li wasted no time. The next day, they finished packing their luggage.

“Dads, are you coming down yet?” Qiuqiu squatted by the door, seeing that his two dads hadn’t come down yet, and yelled upstairs.

His shout made the two dads, who were embracing each other, separate. They straightened their clothes and held hands before heading downstairs.

Seeing his two dads coming down, Qiuqiu muttered, “Dads, you finally came down.”

“Alright, let’s set off,” Chen Li said as if he hadn’t heard Qiuqiu, reaching out to hold his hand.

And so, the family set off, dragging their luggage along.

Because the journey was quite far, Wei Chen opted to take a flight from the capital directly to the provincial capital in the south province, and then they would take a bullet train to the county where Taohua Village was located.

The family of three set off in the morning, and by the time they reached the bullet train station, the sky had already been tinted with the colors of dusk.

As they emerged from the exit, the trio spotted Lan Xiping waving at them.

“Aping!” Chen Li’s face lit up with a radiant smile upon seeing Lan Xiping. It was their first meeting after Lan Xiping had left the capital.

“Chen Li.” Lan Xiping smiled back at Chen Li, seemingly unchanged throughout this past year.

Wei Chen led Qiuqiu over, and Lan Xiping ruffled Qiuqiu’s hair, saying, “Qiuqiu has grown taller again.”

Qiuqiu remembered Lan Xiping and crisply called out, “Uncle Lan.”

Lan Xiping hosted the family into the car and drove towards Taohua Village.

It would take about an hour from the bullet train station to reach the town, and since a significant part of the journey involved walking, it wasn’t too difficult to endure.

An hour later, the car stopped at Taohua Village.

“We’re here, let’s get off.” Lan Xiping unbuckled his seatbelt and motioned for the family to exit.

Lan Xiping’s home was a typical rural courtyard. Chen Li and Wei Chen, accustomed to city life, found the mud-walled farmhouse quite intriguing. Grapevines adorned the yard, accompanied by the melodic sound of water nearby, creating a serene atmosphere.

As the sound of the car attracted attention, someone came out to greet them.

A middle-aged woman, dressed plainly with her long hair tied up, emerged—Lan Xiping’s mother.

“Pingzai, quickly bring your friends inside.” Mother Lan spoke Mandarin fluently, without a trace of accent.

“Alright.” Lan Xiping acknowledged and ushered Chen Li and the others into the courtyard.

A toddler named Chenchen sat on the carpet in the main hall. It seemed he heard Lan Xiping’s voice and tried to get up. When Lan Xiping and the others entered, Chenchen was halfway up, struggling to rise with his bottom raised, attempting to stand.

Chenchen was also over a year old now and had started to walk. Lan Xiping didn’t rush to help but watched as Chenchen managed to stand on his own. Despite falling to the floor once during the attempt, Chenchen didn’t cry; after a brief rest, he resumed his efforts to stand.

After a while, Chenchen managed to stand up with great effort. When he saw Lan Xiping, a smile spread across his face, revealing a charming dimple at the corner of his mouth.

Chenchen, well-fed by Mother Lan, was chubby and now wobbled towards Lan Xiping.

“Is this Chenchen?” It’s strange how time seemed slower with one’s own children but flew by with others’.

In Chen Li’s memory, Chenchen was still a baby in swaddling clothes. Now, seeing him suddenly able to walk was quite miraculous.

“Yes, this is Chenchen,” Lan Xiping’s expression softened immensely as he looked at Chenchen.

Chen Li crouched down to pick Chenchen up. Chenchen gazed curiously at Chen Li without shyness.

“Chenchen, this is Uncle Chen Li,” Lan Xiping coached Chenchen on recognizing people.

Chenchen stared at Chen Li for a long time before finally speaking, “Uncle.”

Chen Li was somewhat surprised, “His pronunciation is quite accurate.”

For such a young child, there was no hint of unclear pronunciation in his speech.

“He speaks less, but he speaks accurately.”

Chenchen was a very quiet child; sometimes, he could play by himself for a long time without making any noise.

Lunchtime arrived.

“Time to eat,” Mother Lan called from the kitchen.

Chen Li and Wei Chen finished their conversation and took the children into the kitchen.

Knowing Lan Xiping had friends over today, Mother Lan specially prepared a table full of dishes, all rustic specialties. They might not look as fancy as hotel dishes, but the flavors were absolutely delightful.

Father Lan was very hospitable and enjoyed a few sips of liquor. During the meal, he persistently encouraged Wei Chen and Chen Li to drink.

Chen Li easily gets intoxicated from alcohol and had to take care of Qiuqiu in the evening, so he dared not touch it. Instead, Wei Chen and Father Lan clinked glasses and had a few shots.

Considering Wei Chen and Chen Li had just arrived, Father Lan didn’t push them too hard to drink more. After a few glasses, he invited them to enjoy the dishes.

The meal was satisfying, and both Chen Li and Qiuqiu’s stomachs were round and full.

After dinner, Lan Xiping took Chen Li for a walk, and Wei Chen, having had a few shots of strong liquor, felt a bit dizzy. Lan Xiping arranged for him to stay home and look after the children.

The weather was splendid that day, and by evening, the sky was studded with stars, a crescent moon hung in the sky, missing a part of its edge.

The air in the village was refreshing, the sky seemed clearer, and it held an added charm.

“Aping, how are you feeling now?” Chen Li was somewhat concerned, worrying that Lan Xiping might not be able to move on from the absence of Jiang Ye in his life.

Lan Xiping understood Chen Li’s concerns and smiled, saying, “Life here is leisurely, rising with the sunrise and resting with the sunset. I’m fine, no need to worry.”

As for Jiang Ye’s absence, Lan Xiping had adapted well. However, he knew he was still waiting for Jiang Ye to return. He believed that Jiang Ye would surely come back.

“Let’s not dwell on that,” Lan Xiping brushed off the heavy topic, “I’ve found a mentor who’s highly skilled in traditional Chinese medicine. He might be able to help Wei Chen.”

Chen Li knew better than anyone about Wei Chen’s condition.

Wei Chen had a congenital weakness in his facial nerves, causing facial paralysis. Over the years, Wei Chen had considered seeking treatment, but the answers he received were never satisfactory.

Both Chen Li and Wei Chen had lost hope.

Now, Lan Xiping informed him that he had found a mentor who might be able to treat Wei Chen’s condition. At that moment, Chen Li didn’t know what to say. He looked at Lan Xiping in shock, taking a while to collect himself. “Aping, is what you’re saying true?”

Lan Xiping nodded. He had experienced the remarkable medical skills of his mentor over the past year.

That’s why he was introducing his mentor to Wei Chen. He estimated an eighty percent chance that Wei Chen’s facial paralysis could be cured by his mentor.

“That’s great… No, tomorrow morning, could you take Achen and me to see him?” Chen Li’s excitement led him to tightly grasp Lan Xiping’s hand. Even with just a glimmer of hope, Chen Li was genuinely happy.

“Okay,” Lan Xiping nodded in agreement.

On their way back, Chen Li didn’t disclose this news to Wei Chen. Firstly, he wanted to surprise Wei Chen, and secondly, he didn’t want Wei Chen to become too expectant.

Filled with excitement, Chen Li finally endured the long night.

The next morning, after entrusting Qiuqiu to Mother Lan, Lan Xiping took Wei Chen and Chen Li to the town.

Lan Xiping’s mentor was surnamed Wu, a renowned doctor in Dongyang Town. People in the town affectionately referred to him as Old Wu. Dr. Wu lived in a maze of small alleys in the town; one could easily get lost without someone familiar leading the way.

When the trio—Lan Xiping, Chen Li, and Wei Chen—reached Dr. Wu’s house, he was already awake, seated in the hall listening to an opera. Seeing Lan Xiping enter, he stood up and smiled, “Xiping, why are you here so early today?”

Dr. Wu greatly admired Lan Xiping, his talented and ambitious student, and he wished to impart all his knowledge to him.

Lan Xiping placed the breakfast he brought from the street on a nearby table and said to Dr. Wu, “Teacher, I’ve brought a friend here for you to help. We’re wondering if there’s any way.”

Lan Xiping didn’t specify the ailment, and Dr. Wu didn’t inquire either. His somewhat clouded eyes scanned Chen Li and Wei Chen before he slowly spoke, “There’s a way for both of them, but let’s start with this one.”

Saying this, he looked at Wei Chen and said, “Come here, let me take a look at your face.”

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