Translated by Neirith

Episode Nine – Let’s Build Our House (4)

Xia Zhi blinked and asked guiltily, “You’ll pay no matter how much I borrow?”

“Sure.” Ye Qia tossed his newspaper aside and ate the last piece of bacon as he said, “In any case, the house will have my name on it too.”

Because Ye Qia had replied so seriously, Xia Zhi felt his heart twirling.
He went straight to his office chair, and sat down, caught in his fantasies.
How to decorate their future home, how they needed to buy a huge, fluffy bed for making love, how they would wake up each morning under the brilliant sunshine in great comfort… Yes, it couldn’t be more wonderful. 

When he got off work, he went to buy a bunch of groceries.
As he passed a cafe, he had a waft of coffee fragrance and watched the line of people queuing for coffee.
He thought about it for a long time before he finally decided, with great trepidation, not to buy a coffee.
They needed to save for their down payment.
If he could minimize his expenditures, even the smallest ones, that would be for the best.
The less he ate, the more he saved.

He went home full of enthusiasm, and by the time he left the metro, it was already dark.
As he walked, he began to feel a strange sense that something was following him.
He entered a quiet alley.
Since there was a long string of hills leading to his residence, nobody walked along the road, and it was often empty.

He could clearly distinguish the sound of small, rhythmic clicks behind him.
As soon as he walked, he would hear the clicks, and as soon as he stopped, they would stop.
This continued all the along the way.

At first, he thought he was being followed by a debtor.
This kind of thing wasn’t uncommon.
So, he passed a glass all, but saw nobody.
After carefully listening, he discovered that it wasn’t the sound of a human at all.
It was too small, too short, and too fast.
The more he listened, the more frightened he became.
He didn’t dare turn around, and sped up, desperately rushing home.
He couldn’t help but wonder if something might suddenly grab his leg. 

By the time he got home, Xia Zhi had already lost half his souls.
He pounded on the door with enough strength to knock it down, even forgetting about his keys.
Fortunately, Ye Qia happened to be home.
When the door opened, his legs were trembling, and he stammered, “B-Behind me, there’s something…”

Ye Qia stared blankly and peeked outside.
“There’s a dog behind you.”

“I really love dogs!” Xia Zhi was on the verge of collapse.
“Don’t come for me! Go find whoever killed you!”

Ye Qia was amused.
“It’s a live dog.”

“… Huh?”

Xia Zhi remained petrified for a few seconds before he slowly turned around to see a muddy dog with droopy ears sitting on the stairs, giving him sad puppy eyes.


Xia Zhi didn’t slow down until the end of the meal, holding onto his bowl of rice like a little maiden counting each and every grain, looking very much unlike his normally boisterous self.

Ye Qia watched him and wanted to laugh.
He commented, “Aren’t you normally fearless? Now you’re afraid of that dirty little thing?”

“I can’t fight those things!” Xia Zhi stated angrily.
“You can fight people, but you can’t fight those!”

“Well, anyways, I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.” Ye Qia shrugged.
“The demons and ghosts that people are so afraid of are all things they made up to scare themselves.
Just like you.
Isn’t it just a dog? And you were so afraid.”

Xia Zhi stared at him with wide eyes, but couldn’t find a way to refute him so he angrily finished his rice.

Ye Qia asked pensively, “What are you going to do with the dog?”

Xia Zhi rolled his eyes.
“What does that have to do with me?! It’s not my dog!”

“It’s still at the door.”

Turning his head, Xia Zhi looked at the closed door.
Just before the door had closed, he’d glimpsed his own reflection in the dog’s eyes through the cracks.
The sky was completely dark, and there were no sounds in the corridor.
He didn’t know if the dog was still there.

“It should have already left.” He murmured anxiously.
“It must have followed me after smelling the food in my bag.”

“Didn’t you want to get a dog?”

“I want a golden retriever, not that kind of dog.”

After saying this, Xia Zhi fell silent and felt an indescribable sense of guilt.
He couldn’t help but glance at the door.
He hoped Ye Qia would say something more, but Ye Qia only gave him an “it’s up to you” and stopped talking.
When they finished eating, it was his turn to wash the dishes.
As he washed the dishes, he kept looking out the window.
Suddenly, a broken branch knocked against the glass, and his heart constricted.

The dog should have left, right? It’s just a stray dog anyways, it’s better to leave it.
No need to worry.

That night, Xia Zhi remained anxious, sitting in front of the TV without really watching.
He didn’t know what was on his mind.
When he came to, the show was already over.

“It’s windy out.” Ye Qia came out of the bathroom, climbing into the bed as he spoke.
“It’ll be colder tonight.
Do you want to add another blanket?”

“No, I’m not cold.” Xia Zhi said loudly before immediately lowering his voice.
“It’s really not cold.
I don’t need it.”

Ye Qia gave Xia Zhi a profound look but said nothing.
The result was that later that night, the half-asleep Xia Zhi got under Ye Qia’s covers.
He held onto him like an octopus, so much so that it was hard to breathe, and subsequently earned himself a fierce kick.
That morning, when he woke up, Xia Zhi’s face was pallid and he stooped over, looking like a century-old corpse.

“Didn’t sleep well?”

“I slept very well!” Xia Zhi had a belly full of fire.
“It wasn’t cold in the slightest!”

Ye Qia was bemused.
“I didn’t say you were cold.”

Xia Zhi was about to become angry, but he took one glance at Ye Qia’s serene look and swallowed back his curses.
After hurriedly eating breakfast, he slowed down and began to loaf around. 

Ye Qia asked as he got dressed, “Aren’t you going to work? It’s almost eight, you’re going to miss the metro.”

“None of your business!” Xia Zhi said resentfully as he stood with his hand on the doorknob, not daring to open it.

Ye Qia finished dressing and saw him blocking the door.
He raised his hands and said, “Move, I want to go out.”

“Leave, leave!” Xia Zhi drew in a deep breath as he pushed open the door and stuck his head out, only to stop making any noise.

Last night, the sky was dark and he hadn’t looked carefully.
Now, the corridor was lit, and he could see the miserable little dog.
Its body was entirely wet, and it was so filthy that its original color was indistinguishable.
A pair of big black eyes looked up at him, full of caution and pleading. 

He took a step forward, and the dog immediately retreated a step, whimpering softly as its body became taut.
It raised one of its front paws, as if it were both afraid and begging.

“I don’t know how long it’s been a stray.” Ye Qia’s voice came out from behind him.
“Looks like it doesn’t have a home.”

As soon as he heard this, Xia Zhi’s nose became tart, and he crouched down, stretching his hand out to the dog as he said softly, “Come here.”

After a few moments of hesitation, the dog seemed to confirm something and suddenly rushed forward, jumping into Xia Zhi’s arms, panting and wagging its tail.

“Let’s keep it.” Xia Zhi said.

Having expected this, Ye Qia gave a very gentle smile and said.

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