Proofreaders: ayszhang, coolostyne, happyBuddha, MT, m@a
City of Endless Rain ch 3
Tang Shan sat by the dining table with bacon, fries and steamed eggs in front of him. He'd been pushed and dragged to the table, and Li Yuanyu had nonchalantly urged him to eat, even pouring a glass of milk for him.
"You'll become more emotionally stable once you replenish the calcium in your body," Li Yuanyu smiled gently as he pushed the glass of milk to him.
Tang Shan rolled his eyes.
"You took my locket away, didn't you?" he immediately accused.
"What do you mean? Didn't you put it away?" Li Yuanyu feigned innocence, denying his role in this.
"I put it in my pocket but it disappeared!"
"So you suspect me?"
"If it wasn't you, who else could it be?"
Li Yuanyu's face fell. It looked as if he was on the verge of losing his temper, but he kept his cool and smiled as he maneuvered the plate till it was in front of Tang Shan. "Eat up. It isn't raining today, so I'll show you around."
"I don't-" Tang Shan didn't even get a chance to reject him before a ringtone interrupted him.
Li Yuanyu left the kitchen to answer it. Tang Shan followed him with his gaze, watching the door for a long time. Eventually, he couldn't contain his curiosity and carefully followed in his footsteps and peeked at him.
Li Yuanyu sounded annoyed, as if he was quarrelling with the other party.
"You actually need me to handle such trivial matters? Just handle it yourselves!"
The other party said something, causing Li Yuanyu to fall silent for a long time.
"I understand. I'll make a trip there." He hung up after he answered.
Li Yuanyu walked towards the kitchen, and Tang Shan immediately rushed back to his seat. He held his fork and started to push the bacon around on his plate, trying to pretend he hadn't just eavesdropped on that conversation. However, the harder he tried, the more obvious he was.
Li Yuanyu leaned against the door, his arms tucked in front of his chest. Seeing Tang Shan's unnatural actions- his head bent while he ate voraciously, deliberately not looking at him- it was obvious he was feeling guilty.
"You were listening." It wasn't a question, but a statement.
Tang Shan tensed.
"I need to go out for a bit, so watch the house for me, alright? " Li Yuanyu sounded forceful as he spoke, his gaze unwavering on Tang Shan.
Tang Shan didn't raise his head nor attempt to look at him. He had no reaction to Li Yuanyu's words.
Li Yuanyu lingered for a moment longer, his thoughts unreadable. It didn't seem like he had any intentions of coming closer, and he left the kitchen silently.
Tang Shan listened closely, hoping for Li Yuanyu to leave as quickly as possible. Not long after, he heard something metallic, and then the sound of the door closing.
The moment the door shut, he immediately ran towards the front door. He took a look outside and ascertained that the man had really left, and then reached for the handle and turned it-
"Clunk!" The door handle wouldn't budge.
Tang Shan was momentarily stunned, before he reacted and fervently turned the handle, but once it reached a certain angle, the handle couldn't turn.
The door was locked! He turned to find any other possible exits, running up the steps two at a time, quickly rushing to his room. That was the only room that he knew had a big window.
He put the cactus elsewhere and pulled the curtains apart.
He was stunned by the sight before him. The window had been sealed with wooden boards. It had been sealed so well that no light could pass through.
Tang Shan didn't give up and searched through the other rooms, thinking that only his window had been sealed shut. However, after his search through all the rooms, he found that only small ventilation shafts had been left unsealed.
Li Yuanyu had locked him inside the house, and there was no way out.
Tang Shan cried out as he broke down, having no other way to express his feelings. Once he got tired of yelling, he collapsed on the ground.
He watched the ceiling dazedly, unable to understand why Li Yuanyu was so obsessed with him, to the point of limiting his personal freedom.
If he had a chance to escape from here, he'd definitely sue Li Yuanyu to his last penny and make him regret his actions! Tang Shan calmed down after this certain thought.
He suddenly noticed that the markings on the wooden ceiling were slightly strange. There was a square section that was a little different from the rest. Tang Shan stood up and studied it for a long time, before deciding to investigate further.
He remembered there was a storage room in this building, where he'd seen a broom, mop, and the like. Immediately, he rushed to take one of the items and returned to the room, knocking at the wood with a strange marking.
There was a hollow sound, and the wood actually shifted upon impact!
Tang Shan shifted the wood to the side and brought a chair. He then stepped onto it to see what was up there.
There was an attic with a glass window on the ceiling that had been sealed shut, though it still allowed a stream of moonlight to shine through. He could just barely see his surroundings with that small amount of light.
There was a table, two chairs, as well as other furniture that had been covered with a cloth. From the shapes, he could tell that there was a bed, a sofa, an easel, another table, a candle stand- there were all sorts of items.
There were also other things on the table, but since they were too far away, he couldn't quite make out what they were.
Tang Shan gathered his strength and finally managed to climb into the attic. He shook off the dust that had gathered on his sleeves, not minding when he didn't manage to remove all of it.
He walked over to the table situated under the window, moonlight shining onto its surface.
There were glass bottles full of paper stars and even unused strips of paper left on the table. He seemed to have some memories of that...
"You will be granted one wish if you fold a thousand stars," Li Yuanyu stated. He'd already folded two glass bottles full of stars. There were still some paper strips in his hands, and he gave some to Tang Shan.
Tang Shan found his words absurd and teased him about his belief in fairytales.
"Why are you laughing so hard? Don't treat it as a joke, Mary folded the stars and wished to leave the city. Her dream managed to come true not long after," Li Yuanyu defended himself.
"Really?!" Tang Shan felt a glimmer of hope after hearing that.
"Really," Li Yuanyu answered steadily.
"Then I want to fold a thousand stars and make a wish to leave the city. Yeah, that, or I should make a wish to return home," Tang Shan mused, pulling aside the chair next to Li Yuanyu, and he started folding the stars as well.
Li Yuanyu's movements momentarily halted.
"If you leave, what's going to happen to me?" From his tone, it was obvious that he was none too happy about it.
"I'll come back. I can't bear to be away from you," Tang Shan laughed, leaning forward to give him a quick, light kiss, and then pulling back with a grin that seemed to imply he'd done something naughty.
"If you really can't bear to part with me, then just don't go," Li Yuanyu sighed, sounding like a spoilt child.
Oh god! Yes, that had happened. He remembered!
Tang Shan was so shocked that he retreated. His movements were so big that he knocked into the easel beside him, and he fell on top of it with a "crash". Dust flew around him as he coughed.
A corner of the canvas revealed itself, and Tang Shan somehow felt that this reminded him of his own room.
He swept the white cloth aside and was greeted with the sight of a painting of a nude body spread out on the bed, grinning seductively at the artist. There was the cuckoo clock on the wall, the books on the table, the cactus on the windowsill, and the figure on the bed- him.
He was stunned, unable to get ahold of himself for a long time.
Memories began to flow, and he remembered the situation at the time...
Li Yuanyu had brought the easel over, saying that he wanted to draw Tang Shan. He'd told Tang Shan to continue sleeping.
Tang Shan couldn't sleep no matter what he tried. He was much too nervous and even used a pillow to attack Li Yuanyu, though it was of no use.
Tang Shan burrowed his face into the blanket, unwilling to let anyone see him. If it weren't for such an intense session last night, he'd definitely escape elsewhere to a place where Li Yuanyu couldn't see, and much less draw him.
"I'll make Borscht for you to drink later if you stop moving."
"I'll hold you to that." He raised his head from the blanket, easily bribed by the promise of Borscht.
He remembered everything, even the expression on Li Yuanyu's face then. Yes, without a doubt, they had been in love.
"Tang Shan? Tang Shan! Are you up there?" Li Yuanyu's voice travelled from below. He then stepped on the chair and poked his head in, discovering Tang Shan in the attic.
Tang Shan sat in a corner, hugging his knees. He was glassy-eyed and didn't seem to have much of a reaction. He was like a statue, unmoving.
Li Yuanyu seemed to notice something, silently watching Tang Shan. He didn't like the lifeless look in Tang Shan's eyes.
"It's really dusty up there... Don't stay there for too long, come down first," Li Yuanyu gestured at him.
"Tell me, how did we start dating?" Tang Shan questioned, voice steady and unemotional.
"It just happened..." Li Yuanyu sighed and held out his arm. "Come down, let's not discuss this up here. I'll tell you everything."
Tang Shan didn't move.
"Should I go up there and bring you down?" Li Yuanyu changed his methods of coercion to one more forceful, moving as if he was about to climb up.
Tang Shan panicked, staring at him in shock.
No! He didn't want to stay here with that man, in a place filled with items full of memories of their past.
"I- I'll go down!"
Li Yuanyu halted his movements and watched Tang Shan for a while longer. He answered with an "all right" and retreated.
Tang Shan got up slowly, his movements difficult. The shock of knowing he was a homosexual was too much for him. Even though he had a few friends who were gay, he couldn't believe he was one of them.
"Be careful," Li Yuanyu looked up at him.
Tang Shan placed both hands on the floorboard, letting his feet go down first. Unexpectedly, one of his hands slipped and he fell to the ground- but luckily for him, Li Yuanyu managed to catch him in time, saving him from imminent danger.
Li Yuanyu's hold on him was extremely familiar. While his mind had forgotten, his body still remembered this feeling.
The moment he felt the man hold him, Tang Shan almost cried, feeling so emotional that his consciousness began to fade.
"Breathe, damn it! Breathe!" Li Yuanyu hit Tang Shan's face repeatedly, sounding extremely frantic, as if something terrible was happening.
From Tang Shan's perspective, he'd only blanked out for a second, but in reality he'd fainted for about a minute. He'd lost consciousness and stopped breathing.
Tang Shan opened his eyes, feeling quite confused. Seeing Li Yuanyu's face filled with concern, he said, "Yuanyu, you look terrible."
Li Yuanyu stiffened at his words, watching him with shock.
Tang Shan, who had awoken, gradually came back to himself. Only then did he realise he'd said something strange.
"How much do you remember?" Li Yuanyu asked.
"Not much. I don't really know either," Tang Shan shook his head. He found himself lying on the floor and slowly sat up. Thinking for a moment longer, he added, "I think we were in love."
"Were?" Li Yuanyu repeated unhappily at his choice of words, "We're not done yet, don't use past tense."
But it was over for him. He had no feelings for Li Yuanyu whatsoever, or at least they were not romantic. Tang Shan didn't want to argue with him about this. Based on past experiences, these discussions always ended up unresolved.
"You haven't told me what happened between us."
"You're persistent," Li Yuanyu sighed and stood up, extending an arm as he planned to help Tang Shan up.
"It's fine, thank you. I can get up by myself," Tang Shan refused him. Unexpectedly, Li Yuanyu grabbed him by the arm, causing Tang Shan's heart to skip a beat in surprise.
Li Yuanyu pulled him up and immediately let him go, patting away the dust that had gathered on Tang Shan's clothes. He sighed again.
"Let's talk in the kitchen. I'll brew some tea so we can drink while we talk." He then left the room, leaving Tang Shan alone.
Tang Shan stood frozen at the spot, trying to calm himself down. He had some reservations and suddenly had no desire to know more about their story- he was afraid he wouldn't be able to handle it.
Li Yuanyu was already done brewing the tea, and seeing that he wasn't coming down, called for him loudly from downstairs.
"I- I'm coming," Tang Shan got himself to focus and made his way out of the room and down the stairs.
Li Yuanyu's signature was chamomile and linden tea, which was served in a handleless cup. It was useful in soothing nerves. Tang Shan was familiar with its aroma, and he stared at the tea and chamomile in the cup, feeling a little dazed.
Li Yuanyu was telling him about their meeting and how they came to fall in love.
"When you first moved to the city, you were unfamiliar with everything. The landlord who'd promised to rent you a room gave it to someone else who had moved in earlier, so you were homeless. Patrol officers later found you on the streets and thought you looked suspicious, so they took you back to the station for questioning. After they found out your situation, they brought you to me.
"You may already know this, but I'm in charge of this city. Anything that the police can't handle will be passed on to me, so I provided you with accommodation. You moved in, and so we started to live together."
Tang Shan was stunned, glancing at him for a second, and then pointed out the problem, "Live together?!"
"We weren't like that in the beginning, but it eventually turned out like that." Li Yuanyu gave an embarrassed smile, and then continued, "I don't deny that I fell in love with you at first sight, and letting you move in wasn't entirely out of the goodness of my heart."
As he spoke, all of his actions, his words, his expressions, were that of strong adoration and fondness, causing Tang Shan to feel stressed. He ducked his head and picked up the silver spoon on the tray, stirring the tea despite the fact that no sugar had been added.
"Did I move here for work?" Tang Shan felt that this was the most reasonable explanation. "What was my job?"
"You're my lover, you don't need to work," Li Yuanyu stated matter-of-factly, not finding it strange in any way.
Tang Shan, who had been drinking his tea, almost spat a mouthful onto Li Yuanyu's face at his words.
Li Yuanyu gave him a look of concern and extended his arm, wanting to thump him on the back. Tang Shan rejected him weakly.
"I'm fine, thank you."
Li Yuanyu gave him a smile and retracted his hand, his expression gloomy.
"I'm sorry, but have I really been letting you take care of me like some kept woman?" Tang Shan was extremely concerned about this, looking uncomfortable.
So he was alright with being someone's kept woman? No! He didn't think he was someone with so little dignity.
Li Yuanyu sighed silently, before he explained further, "You had a job, though I don't really know the details. It's probably got something to do with civil service. After you got fired, you couldn't find a new job and I tried to reassure you that it was okay, but you were insistent that a man should have a job. There weren't any in the city though, so you wanted to leave to find one. It was just your luck that it'd been raining badly then so you couldn't leave, and the matter was left like that."
Tang Shan nodded, feeling more at ease. Remembering the scene where they were folding paper stars, he asked, "Where was my hometown? How long have I been here for? How long has it been since I last went back?"
"You lived in City A, though I don't know the exact address. You've been here for more than a year. You did mention wanting to go back a few times, but the weather here was just too terrible."
Hearing Li Yuanyu mention problems with the weather, Tang Shan was unconvinced, "I know it's been raining these days, but it isn't so bad that I can't leave. Why don't I start packing- "
Even before he'd finished his words, a lightning bolt struck, followed by the sound of someone loudly yelling, "The tree! The tree is going to fall!"
Tang Shan's attention was immediately diverted, but he couldn't find a window he could see the outside through. In the end, he settled on watching Li Yuanyu.
Li Yuanyu didn't seem to have any reaction to the scene outside. He met Tang Shan's gaze without batting an eyelid, and steadily said, "I think it's better if you wait till the weather gets better. The wind's been getting stronger these couple days, so I sealed all the windows. It's better if you don't run around, anyway."
From his words, everything seemed to make sense. Keeping him captive in the house, sealing all the windows- all of these was due to the bad weather.
"You're keeping me prisoner."
"It's for your own good. The weather's terrible, and you're naturally curious and like to run around."
That just sounded good on the surface. Tang Shan retorted, "Have you ever considered that if there ever was a fire, I would get burnt to death without even an escape route?"
Li Yuanyu stayed silent, unable to reply.
"If you really love me, then don't lock me in here." Tang Shan really didn't want to play this card since it made him sound weak. It was true, though, that he was powerless in front of Li Yuanyu.
"Don't question the love I have for you, it hurts me so much. I'm heartbroken," Li Yuanyu furrowed his brows, emphasising how wounded he felt. He reached out and held Tang Shan's hand on the table tightly, as if he trying to show his sincerity.
"I won't keep you locked in here anymore. If anything suddenly happens in the future, I'll bring you along."
Tang Shan stared at the hand covering his, wishing he could retract it as soon as possible. Now, he felt panicky at any contact with Li Yuanyu, though he couldn't tell if the increase in his heart rate was because of fear and nervousness, or because of Li Yuanyu.
"Three soldiers got lost and wounded up in the city in their jeep. I just went out to sort things out and helped them find somewhere to rest for now." Li Yuanyu spared Tang Shan and let go of his hand, changing the topic so as not to make it difficult for him.
Tang Shan retracted his hand and ducked his head, not looking at the other man.
"What are you thinking about?" Li Yuanyu inquired in a gentle but helpless tone.
"Nothing, nothing at all," Tang Shan shook his head, keeping his head down.
Li Yuanyu stared at the spirals in his hair, silent.
Even while feeling the strength of the gaze on him, Tang Shan still didn't dare to raise his head, instead lowering it further. Why wasn't his heart rate returning to normal?
In the end, only after Li Yuanyu left the kitchen did he relax, his body sprawled over the table as he stared blankly at the kitchen door for a long time. His heart rate gradually reduced to its usual speed, and only then did he realise how much his palms were sweating.
By the way, what did Li Yuanyu just say? Something about being lost, soldiers, a jeep, a place to stay? He wasn't listening closely, so he could only remember bits and pieces.
Not long after, the sound of a door opening came from the hallway, immediately followed by Jake's complaints.
"Aren't you over-exaggerating a little, to even call me over at this time and in this weather? Aren't you aware that I'm usually sleeping at this time? If you two have relationship problems, can you leave me out of it? I'm always stuck in the middle, and you know I'm not that free-"
Jake's voice came to a halt.
Curious, Tang Shan went forward to see what was happening and was met with the sight of Li Yuanyu with his arms folded in front of his chest, expressionless. Jake, on the other hand, looked like a nervous child who had done something wrong, his gaze flickering around.
When he saw Tang Shan, who had walked out of the kitchen, he suddenly brightened up, as if he'd found his savior. "Hey! We meet again!"
"Hey..." Tang Shan raised his hand and waved awkwardly.
Jake escaped from Li Yuanyu's side and approached him. "Sorry for bothering you, I'm here for the food."
"You two can go to the living room and wait first, I'll prepare dinner. Is there anything you want to eat?" Li Yuanyu followed suit and drew near to Tang Shan, the question obviously directed at him.
Jake quickly answered, "I want fried chicken!"
Li Yuanyu gave Jake a brief, fierce glare.
Jake pouted in reply, softly muttering, "It's just a suggestion."
The two of them focused their attentions on Tang Shan. He considered Jake's hopeful look and Li Yuanyu's questioning one, and eventually decided, "Fried chicken doesn't sound bad, I want to have some too."
Jake gave a bright grin as he raised both arms up high and cheered loudly, running to the living room.
"Geez," Li Yuanyu shook his head, his hand naturally making its way to Tang Shan's back. "Is there anything else you want to eat?"
Tang Shan really wanted to avoid this overly intimate gesture, but at the thought of something else, he endured it.
"Hm?" Seeing him hesitate, Li Yuanyu tried to prompt him to go on.
Li Yuanyu's hand stopped its movement, and Tang Shan could feel that he'd stiffened.
Li Yuanyu gave a forced laugh and patted him on the back. "Coming right up." He walked past him and into the kitchen.
Perhaps Li Yuanyu might have found it strange that he would want Borscht. Tang Shan could understand the reason behind his reaction, though. The one who like Borscht was the Tang Shan who had his memory intact, not the one who had lost his memory.
He was honestly quite curious about the taste of this Borscht that had made him give in so easily. Maybe it was so good that it would help him regain his memories! Tang Shan wondered to himself, fantasizing situations that were largely exaggerated, like those in Japanese manga.
Tang Shan ambled to the living room and sat on the sofa. At the side, Jake was watching the cartoon, "Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner" on television. There were only exaggerated and comical sound effects with no dialogue at all.
After watching a small section, Tang Shan found it boring and the wheels in his head began to turn. He began to wonder if he could gather any information from Jake.
"Jake, let me ask you, do you know how long I've known Mr Li for?"
"Don't call him Mr Li, it sounds really awkward. If he hears you call him that, Li Yuanyu's gonna freak out again," Jake rolled his eyes, looking irritated.
Tang Shan stayed silent.
"You've known him and been with him for a long time. Even though your brain wasn't in a good condition and you frequently lost your memories, he still stayed by your side. You should stop pitting yourself against him and treat him better!" Jake took the chance to complain.
You're the one with a bad brain! Those words sounded awfully harsh, but he couldn't deny it either. From the reactions he'd seen, it seemed he really did lose his memories quite often.
"The weather gets terrible whenever he's in a bad mood," Jake nagged on in a small voice.
"What?" Tang Shan didn't hear clearly and pressed closer to him, hoping he would repeat it in a louder voice.
"No- nothing!" Jake immediately denied, opening his eyes wide innocently. It was obvious he was feigning ignorance.
"Beep beep!" Jake turned his gaze to the television, imitating the call of the Road Runner. He was pretending to be childish.
Tang Shan stared at him suspiciously. He knew Jake was hiding something, but he had no way of knowing what it was.
ayszhang: We have another chapter for you coming right up! :)