Proofreaders: ayszhang, happyBuddha
City of Endless Rain ch 6
He seemed to be surrounded by warm water, floating gently as it warmed him. It was extremely comfortable.
He didn't want to wake up. However, he was already awake, and nonetheless, continued to laze around in bed.
While he was extremely unwilling to do so, Tang Shan finally opened his eyes.
He'd never imagined he would feel safe and a sense of belonging from a man's embrace. It was something that he had felt strongly against, but at this point, it no longer bothered him.
"Good morning. How did you sleep?" Li Yuanyu kissed his forehead with a smile and greeted him. He had woken up long ago and seemed to have been staring at his sleeping face all this while.
"Mmhh." Tang Shan groaned in reply and sat up. He rubbed at his eyes with his hand and yawned.
Li Yuanyu also sat up and came from behind, hugging him around the waist. He placed his face against Tang Shan's back.
"I love you, Tang Shan."
He took advantage of the situation and began kissing the back of Tang Shan's neck.
"Stop it." Tang Shan turned away and discouraged him.
"I'm sorry." His apology didn't sound sincere at all, but Li Yuanyu was aware that Tang Shan didn't like him clinging on like this. He had no choice but to let go.
Tang Shan thought he'd given plenty of leeway, and yet Li Yuanyu was still greedy for more.
It wasn't that Li Yuanyu wasn't allowed to do this, but Tang Shan needed more time. Li Yuanyu should know that.
He got off the bed, preparing to wash up in the bathroom. He didn't get to take more than a few steps before the man behind him hugged his waist and whispered into his ear, "I can't bear to let you go."
"I'm just going to the bathroom."
"Can't we go together?" Li Yuanyu was already a grown man, and yet here he was, acting like a spoilt child.
"Nope." Tang Shan outright refused him. No matter if Li Yuanyu acted cute or like a spoilt child to him, it didn't matter. He wasn't ready to show Li Yuanyu his naked body yet.
Li Yuanyu kept silent in his disappointment. Tang Shan ignored him and proceeded towards the bathroom. Luckily for him, Li Yuanyu didn't follow him inside and stayed by the doorway, staring at him pitifully with puppy eyes.
Tang Shan rolled his eyes in answer and closed the door in his face.
After a quick wash-up, he left the bathroom, only to find Li Yuanyu still at the door in the same position.
Ever since the kidnapping incident, Li Yuanyu changed his tactics and stuck close to him, not giving him any space. At the beginning when his emotions were still unstable, he constantly needed someone by his side. Now that he was much better, this behaviour was gradually grating on his nerves.
Li Yuanyu smiled at him and reached for his hand naturally, and they went downstairs together.
Seeing their hands laced together, Tang Shan wished he could take his hand back. However, that was the one thing he couldn't bring himself to do.
Just the thought of Li Yuanyu's upset expression caused knots in his stomach.
"What's wrong? You look worried." Li Yuanyu turned back and caressed Tang Shan's cheek, using his fingers to smoothen the lines of worry between his brows.
"It's nothing." Tang Shan pushed his hands away. "I was wondering if we could go out for breakfast. I'm getting tired of the food at home."
Li Yuanyu was initially disappointed at how Tang Shan pushed his hand aside, but the moment he heard the word "home", he quickly cheered up despite it possibly being said just in passing, with no extra meaning behind it.
"What are you smiling about?" Seeing him grinning, Tang Shan furrowed his brows in distrust.
"It's nothing," Li Yuanyu answered, giving the same reply as Tang Shan. He linked their hands together.
"Let's go, I'll take you to a restaurant."
Just as Li Yuanyu opened the door, they discovered Jake right about to press the doorbell, his hand suspended in the air.
"Morning! What a coincidence, I was just about to ring the doorbell!" he greeted merrily.
In contrast with Jake's good mood, Li Yuanyu seemed to be unhappy.
"What are you doing here?"
"Um, I'm just here to visit you and maybe have some breakfast as well. Are you two going out?" Noticing that Li Yuanyu's didn't seem to be in the best mood, Jake made a show of smiling. Seeing Tang Shan behind him, he could guess at the situation.
"Do you want to come along?" Tang Shan invited him.
"Oh! Can I?" Jake's immediately lightened up, but the sight of Li Yuanyu's scorching glare caused him to trail off, "Nah, it's okay! I just remembered I had some things to tend to!"
It was obviously a lie, but Tang Shan didn't bother seeing through it. He turned to Li Yuanyu, and the change in his mood for the better caused Tang Shan to shake his head. He was just like a little kid. There really was nothing he wouldn't do to ensure the two of them would enjoy their time together.
"You're the manager of this city. I expected you to be more tolerant." Tang Shan chastised him.
"That's different. You can't put it like that," Li Yuanyu defended himself.
"Let's go." Tang Shan couldn't be bothered with continuing this conversation and quickly got them to leave the house.
The moment they were outside, Tang Shan wanted to retract his hand. Two men holding hands out in the open seemed quite inappropriate. He had a rather traditional mentality and was unwilling to meet with the condescending gazes from the public. However, despite wiggling his hand around, he couldn't get Li Yuanyu to let go.
"What's wrong?" Li Yuanyu enquired.
"Can we not hold hands in public?" Tang Shan asked. Li Yuanyu's expression faltered at that, and he quickly added, "At least not in broad daylight."
"It's cloudy now," Li Yuanyu blinked innocently.
"That's not the issue here." Knowing Li Yuanyu was feigning innocence, Tang Shan had an internal struggle before he finally gave up on pursuing this matter. "Never mind, forget I said anything."
"The restaurant is at the other end of the city. Should we call for a carriage?" Li Yuanyu brought up, quickly changing the topic.
"A carriage? The kind that almost crashed into me the last time?"
"Yes." Li Yuanyu nodded.
"I've never been on a carriage before. It's like going back to the eighteenth or nineteenth century." Tang Shan was curious and eager to try it out.
"You've been on one before. It's just that you forgot." Li Yuanyu got his mobile phone and proceeded to call for the carriage.
"Are carriages the typical mode of transport here? Are there no buses or cars here?" Tang Shan asked again, finding this peculiar and quite interesting at the same time.
"Carriages are primarily used. Cars aren't as common. I have a car at a villa near the outskirts nearby. Do you want to take this chance to see it?" Li Yuanyu suggested.
"Just to see a car? No, thanks," Tang Shan grinned while he thought to himself, Li Yuanyu has another villa that's close to the outskirts? It might be worth a look. He continued, "I'm more interested in the villa."
"Then we'll go after breakfast. It's really close to the restaurant, so we can take a stroll."
"Okay, you're in charge." Tang Shan had no objections and didn't bother thinking through his word choice.
Unbeknownst to him, Tang Shan saying 'you're in charge' made Li Yuanyu extremely satisfied. He was positively beaming with happiness, a huge grin apparent on his face.
After a short wait, the carriage arrived.
"Good morning, Mr Li and Mr Tang Shan." The driver removed his cap and bowed. His attire had a historic feel to it, from how it was extremely similar to the way someone from the eighteenth century dressed.
The driver glanced at their linked hands momentarily and kindly said, "What a sweet couple. You two seem perfect for each other."
Tang Shan was obviously perturbed, but Li Yuanyu grabbed his hand firmly and answered with a smile, "Thank you."
The driver simply accepted his answer as if it was the most natural thing to do.
The two of them got onto the carriage. Tang Shan gazed at the scenery outside, not daring to turn around and look at Li Yuanyu. He didn't retract his hand and left it on the space between them.
The carriage proceeded at a leisurely pace on the road. Tang Shan didn't see anyone on the way.
"Are there a lot of people in the city?" He couldn't help but ask.
"Oh... It's just that there are a lot of buildings here, so I thought there were a lot of people living here." He still remembered how the city looked, with new and old buildings built all over the place.
"Some of them are empty. It's a small place; emigration is a serious problem here."
"I see." So that was the reason. Feeling that the topic seemed to be getting heavy, Tang Shan quickly added, "It's not bad to see all these carriages that give a sense of antiquity. We can focus on this and advertise to the public. Now that we have the internet, everything's very convenient! How about I help set up a website for the city?"
"We're not within the service area. Don't even mention the internet, sometimes we have difficulties just making phone calls! Mr Tang Shan, have you lost your memories again?" The driver heard their conversation and chuckled as he spoke.
Tang Shan went beet red in embarrassment and shut his mouth, unwilling to continue to find out more. It was much too embarrassing!
Was there anyone in this city who didn't know he often lost his memories? Gosh, what a joke he was!
It took about an hour and a half for the carriage to reach the restaurant. Li Yuanyu got off first and extended a hand to Tang Shan, wanting to help him down.
"Thanks, I can get down myself." Tang Shan rejected him, not wanting to be made fun of again.
"Let me help you," Li Yuanyu changed his approach. "I want to help you."
It's just getting off the carriage. What's there to help with! Tang Shan stepped on the carriage step, not finding it unstable at all. Even then, Li Yuanyu's arm was still out, and Tang Shan had no choice but to give in and hold his hand.
Li Yuanyu grinned at that.
Tang Shan didn't want to dwell on this and began to look over the restaurant they were going to. Surprisingly, it was a small place. The decorations made it look cozy, and the gentle lighting as well as wooden interior were extremely similar to those in Li Yuanyu's house.
At the door, there were decorative ceramic gnomes half the size of a man, just like those in Li Yuanyu's house. The interesting thing was that every one of them looked slightly different.
Li Yuanyu opened the door to the restaurant. The moment they entered, the owner walked out from behind the counter to welcome them warmly. It seemed that the owner and Li Yuanyu knew each other well.
"Mr Li and Mr Tang Shan! Long time no see!"
"Long time no see."
Tang Shan simply smiled as he nodded, silent.
"The same spot?"
"Sure, sure. Come right this way." She personally brought them to their table, which was up on the third floor.
There were no customers on the third floor, as if this place had been reserved just for them. Tang Shan gave Li Yuanyu a look, wondering if this was inconveniencing anyone, but Li Yuanyu seemed to be extremely comfortable in this situation. Tang Shan decided not to make a fuss over it.
Li Yuanyu helped him pull his chair aside and invited him to sit. The owner chuckled as she watched from the side. Tang Shan hesitated for a moment, but then sat with a smile as he thanked Li Yuanyu.
The owner lighted scented candles for them.
It was daytime now, so what was the point of lighting scented candles? There was no need to enhance the atmosphere for two men anyway! Tang Shan wanted to complain about all these little details, but eventually decided to keep it to himself.
"Yes, please," Li Yuanyu answered.
She nodded, kept the menus and left after some small talk.
"Do we come here often?" Tang Shan had a feeling this was so.
"Yes. Before you lost your memories, we used to come here three times a week."
"Three times? To come here all the way from the other side of town..." He was surprised.
"There was a time when we stayed at the villa. It's not far from here, just ten minutes on foot."
Right, he'd forgotten about Li Yuanyu's villa.
"I'm going to take a look around." Tang Shan left his seat and began to examine the place, trying to see if the decorations would help him remember something. If he used to come here so frequently, he might have some memory of the things here.
In the end, it was all in vain. He had no memories of anything here. Tang Shan ended his search and got back to his seat only when the waiter brought their food to the table.
Li Yuanyu's eyes were on him all this while. When Tang Shan grinned at him. Li Yuanyu would smile even wider in answer, and Tang Shan's heart would skip a beat at the sight of his pretty face. It was even more beautiful than that of a woman's, and the expression on his face was as sweet as honey.
Fine. If he was being honest, his heart fluttered quite a lot.
"Stop staring at me," Tang Shan sighed while he picked up his cutlery.
"Am I making you uncomfortable?"
"Not really," Tang Shan sighed again. "Anyway, stop staring at me. I get self-conscious. Very self-conscious.
"Then I'll have to stare at you more so you'll get used to it!"
What kind of logic was that! He rolled his eyes.
After a simple breakfast, the two of them went downstairs. When Li Yuanyu went to pay the bill, the owner ambushed him and he got caught in more small talk. Meanwhile, Tang Shan escaped to the restroom..
A lot of consideration had been put into the decoration of the restroom. In front of the sink, instead of a mirror, there was a collage of black and white photos that had been arranged such that it formed the shape of a big heart. Tang Shan found this very interesting and moved closer to examine it.
All of them were commemorative photos of customers at the entrance of the restaurant. There was a photo of a little girl in western attire with a teddy bear grinning in front of the camera; there was one of a couple embracing each other while they beamed at the camera; there was one of a built man dressed in his work clothes, scratching his head as though embarrassed... Each and every one of them was touching and full of happiness, causing the corner of Tang Shan's lips to involuntarily turn in a smile.
At a corner of the heart, he found a picture of them. Li Yuanyu and he were maintaining a safe distance, as if they were just friends. He was conversing with Li Yuanyu, who seemed to know the shutter was being released and had laughed heartily while facing the camera. This gave the photo an air of mischief.
Tang Shan got closer, wanting to scrutinize the photo. In the end, he couldn't control himself and picked up the collage to study it closely.
"Tang Shan, are you done yet? We're leaving!" Li Yuanyu called from the entrance of the washroom.
Tang Shan couldn't help but jump in surprise and he dropped the collage. This was largely due to the weak grip he had on the frame. It bounced, and some of the pictures separated.
This was bad! He'd actually damaged the decorations in this place!
"I'm almost done. I'm coming!" Tang Shan quickly responded in case Li Yuanyu decided to come in. Luckily for him, the floor of the washroom was carpeted and he hadn't made too much noise.
He turned to the back of the photograph, wanting to know if there was still tape there, but his movements suddenly stopped.
At the back, there was a single word written with the crayon used to order their meal.
It was his handwriting.
On the back of a photograph he took with Li Yuanyu, he had written the word 'leave'.
Tang Shan felt like someone had dunked a bucket of cold water over his head and he shivered with the sudden chills running down his body. It seemed like he wouldn't be moving anytime soon.
The seconds ticked by.
"Tang Shan, are you alright? Do you feel sick? Do you want me to get you a doctor?" Li Yuanyu had waited for such a long time that he began to worry, threatening to enter.
Tang Shan forced himself to move, breathing deeply while he fixed the frame and put it back in its previous spot.
Right at that moment, Li Yuanyu pushed the door and entered the restroom. Seeing Tang Shan looking so pale, he asked anxiously, "Are you alright?"
"Do you need to see a doctor?" He was still worried.
"No. I'm really alright." Tang Shan couldn't reject the hand that Li Yuanyu offered. His palm was wet with sweat, and he could only hope that Li Yuanyu would mistake it for the water from washing his hands.
They left the restaurant. Tang Shan was preoccupied by the thoughts in his head, and he remained silent besides responding to Li Yuanyu's small talk from time to time. Noticing this, Li Yuanyu thought Tang Shan might be feeling sick and had initially wanted to call for a carriage to bring them back, but Tang Shan stopped him.
They finally got to the villa and Li Yuanyu immediately called for a doctor. He then brought Tang Shan into the living room. Once they entered, Tang Shan was immediately drawn to the large oil painting on the wall. It was a painting of Li Yuanyu and him, in which he was sitting on an elegant chair, with Li Yuanyu standing ramrod straight beside him, an arm resting on the back of the chair.
The people in the painting gave off the impression of the male and female owners of the villa.
The chills that this painting gave him were much more intense than when he'd seen the word on the back of the photograph. Tang Shan hugged himself as he sank to the floor, giving a roar of despair.
"Tang Shan? Tang Shan! What's wrong?!" Li Yuanyu quickly rushed forward and pulled him close, trying to calm him down.
However, Tang Shan had no control over the sounds coming out of his mouth, his hysteria continuing till he collapsed from the lack of oxygen.
Tang Shan had a nightmare. He couldn't remember what it was about, but he knew there was water involved. He immediately got up, only to find himself in the master bedroom of Li Yuanyu's villa. He was lying on a large bed for two. Li Yuanyu was currently speaking to a stranger, and he turned to focus on them.
"How do you feel?" Having noticed Tang Shan's gaze on him, he quickly moved to the side of the bed, looking extremely worried.
Tang Shan looked past Li Yuanyu at the stranger, feeling a sense of uneasiness.
The man gave him a small smile and left the room after giving Li Yuanyu some instructions.
"Our family doctor. After you fainted, I got worried and asked him to come over and examine you." Li Yuanyu reached out and wiped away the sweat on his face. "The doctor said you're emotionally unstable and can't be agitated. I've already taken down the painting, so it's fine now. You don't have to look at it anymore."
Having said that, he leaned down and kissed Tang Shan's cheek.
"You've been sweating a lot. Do you want a shower?" Li Yuanyu helped him up, a single arm around him.
Tang Shan was still not in the best state yet, and upon hearing the question, agreed dumbly.
It wasn't until Li Yuanyu followed him into the bathroom that Tang Shan came back to his senses, noticed the situation they were in and glared at him.
Li Yuanyu innocently put down the hand which had been in the middle of taking off his shirt. "Can't we shower together?"
Of course not! Tang Shan glared at him vehemently, using his gaze to deter Li Yuanyu.
Tang Shan didn't stay in the bathroom for too long. He merely took a quick shower and changed into clean clothes before coming out. He had a strange feeling that this bathroom was quite narrow, but the bathroom in his memories was much larger and wider.
"Is there another bathroom?" Tang Shan asked Li Yuanyu, who was waiting outside.
"Yes, but the water leaks. It's still being fixed. Did you remember anything?" Li Yuanyu seemed to be a little nervous.
Tang Shan wanted to explain, but he suddenly noticed the locket below Li Yuanyu's collarbone in his shirt that lay half-open.
"Hey! That's my locket! Give it back! " He shouted in surprise while pointing to the locket.
Li Yuanyu could tell the situation wasn't good and quickly buttoned up his shirt, thus hiding the locket from sight.
"You've been wearing that all this while?" Tang Shan was so furious that he grabbed him by the collar, as if looking for a fight.
"Tang Shan, calm down. The doctor said that you shouldn't get agitated." Li Yuanyu sounded extremely calm, trying his best to pacify him.
"Damn it, who cares what he says! Return it to me!" Tang Shan had no idea why he was getting so emotional. While he knew he had to maintain his calm, he just couldn't do it.
"Ugh, my head..." He was in so much pain that he was on the verge of tears and his grip on Li Yuanyu loosened, though he still didn't let go.
"Tang Shan..." Li Yuanyu was extremely worried.
"Don't call my name!"
Li Yuanyu couldn't bear seeing him in this state and made a compromise in the end, handing the locket to him.
Tang Shan held the locket and took a few deep breaths to calm himself down. He never knew he was such an emotionally driven person.
"Do you feel better now?" Li Yuanyu was still as gentle as ever, and that made Tang Shan feel he'd been overly excessive in his efforts to regain the locket.
He didn't know why, but just seconds before, he felt so much dislike for Li Yuanyu that it bordered on hatred.
"I'm sorry," Tang Shan apologised and let him go, reflecting on his actions. "I shouldn't have shouted at you or wrinkled your shirt. I'm so sorry."
"It's fine. Do you feel better though?"
"Yes. I'm sorry." Tang Shan kept apologising.
Li Yuanyu gave a bitter laugh. "Stop apologising. The locket was originally yours anyway. I was in the wrong for taking it for myself."
Tang Shan looked down at the locket in his hands.
"I have my reasons for not returning it to you. I was afraid I'd lose you." Li Yuanyu explained. He watched Tang Shan staring at the locket with a sullen face.
Tang Shan became suspicious from what he'd heard. Why would returning him his locket result in Li Yuanyu losing him? Didn't Li Yuanyu give this to him?
"I'm begging you, please don't open it." Li Yuanyu sighed.
Why? It was just a picture of Li Yuanyu. Why wasn't he allowed to open it?
Tang Shan ignored him and forced the locket open in front of Li Yuanyu. Unexpectedly, it was much easier than it had been previously and didn't take long to open. However, there was no photograph inside. It was empty.
"It's empty?" Tang Shan was extremely surprised and looked up at the man. "Didn't you say there was a photo of you inside?"
Wait, the reason why the locket had become so easy to open must be because someone had already opened it before! He suddenly came to this realisation.
Li Yuanyu's expression turned miserable. He didn't bother trying to hide the fact that he'd lied.
Tang Shan threw the locket at Li Yuanyu's face in his anger, the open locket falling between them.
Tang Shan threw the locket at Li Yuanyu's face in his anger, the open locket falling between them.
All of a sudden, a wave of pain pulsated in his head and Tang Shan collapsed, hand clutching his head.
Li Yuanyu didn't react and merely watched as he fell.
Tang Shan's gaze never left the locket. He had a vision within his mind of a black-haired beauty with her back to him. She ambled forward towards the balcony and turned back, looking innocent and carefree as she laughed merrily.
He'd managed to take a picture of this particular scene and had kept it in the locket. He'd been treasuring it all this time.
Ahh, he remembered.
The black-haired beauty wasn't Li Yuanyu, but his fiancée, Jenny!
He had a fiancée called Jenny!
"Tang Shan?" Li Yuanyu put his hand on Tang Shan's arm, trying to pull him up.
Li Yuanyu wasn't his lover!
The throbbing pain in Tang Shan's head caused him to tear up. Having lost all strength in his body, he let Li Yuanyu move him as he pleased.
His memories continued flowing and images kept replaying in his mind like a montage.
Li Yuanyu snatches the locket around his neck and stomps on it furiously. The locket thus becomes deformed.
He rushes forward to retrieve it and prevent Li Yuanyu from destroying it, but Li Yuanyu kicks him aside.
Li Yuanyu yells at him with his face contorted in jealousy and anger, "You can't go back anymore!"
Li Yuanyu grabs him, makes him get on the carriage, and then stops at the endless, pitch-black tunnel. He throws the locket into its depths before his very eyes.
He hears the distinct, metallic sound of the locket falling.
Li Yuanyu is so cruel, and Tang Shan can only despair at that.