Translated by Neirith

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

It was only under Xia Zhi’s “tremendous efforts,” that Ye Qia begrudgingly allowed Michelle to stay.
This came at the cost of an entire month of cleaning and doing everything within his means to please Ye Qia.
Nonetheless, he only needed to take one look at Michelle’s “grinning face” in order to feel that it was all worth it.
He lived every day in bliss.

On the other hand, seeing these “tremendous efforts” of Xia Zhi’s, Ye Qia began to ruminate on other matters.
He was already aware of Xia Zhi’s childhood and thought that, if not for his issues of domestic violence, he was quite normal.
Thus, he had never thought too much about it.
However, after Michelle came about, he began to wonder if there were other unspoken matters of Xia Zhi’s.

He decided to approach it in a roundabout way, but Xia Zhi only responded with a confused expression, “What?”

“What were you like in the past?”

“Uh, I moved all the time, was cheated on by ex-boyfriends, and collected debts every day.
I also drank coffee and ate meat… ah, I can’t bear it any longer.
Can I drink coffee? Just one cup a day.”

“Are you hemorrhoids better?”

“They’re better!”

“You squatted in the bathroom for half an hour yesterday.”

Xia Zhi instantaneously became guilty, dodging his eyes as he said shiftily, “I was just relieving myself.”

“Relieving yourself?”

“It’s no big deal…”

“What do you mean no big deal?”

“It’s just, uh, you know.
Uh, a little bit of beating off.”

After hearing this, Ye Qia was entirely stunned.
Normally, he would be glad to hear this, because if Xia Zhi was willing to relieve himself, it saved him a lot of effort.
Making love was not only physically exhausting, but they would need to change the sheets, clean the quilt, and so on and so forth.
It was quite troublesome, and unlike heterosexual couples, they needed lubricants and all of the like.
Every once in a while, they used some toys, and cleaning those up was even more troublesome.

Unfortunately, he was not the least bit glad at the moment.
This was because the two of them were so close, yet Xia Zhi still took the initiative to relieve himself.
This proved to him first, that Xia Zhi was aware of this, and second, that perhaps his fascination had declined?

The most depressing part was that he seemed to have lost to a single stray dog.

“I still think it’s better to send Michelle away.”

“Don’t!” Xia Zhi bounded up, shouting angrily, “Why do you still want to send him away? How did he irritate you?”

Ye Qia flashed a quick look at Xia Zhi, but gave no further explanations.
The next day, found Xia Zhi stupidly staying home, closely guarding Michelle while looking at him as if he were a thief.
When he got off work, he returned to see Xia Zhi just so happened to already be home.
Although there was a smile on his face, he proceeded to carry Michelle with him everywhere.

“Enough, I promise.” Ye Qia finally had enough after Xia Zhi insisted on holding Michelle in his lap while eating dinner.
He said, “I won’t give him away without your approval.”

Xia Zhi immediately grabbed Michelle and ran away, shouting, “You’re still thinking about it!”

Ye Qia glared at him.
“Do you really think I’d do that kind of thing?”

Xia Zhi silently swallowed back his “maybe” and lowered his head, returning to eat.
Well, as long as he could let Michelle stay, he would do anything.
After this, the only thing he left to do was to put the villa up for mortgage, get a loan, and buy a house.
Once they renovated it, he’d live with his beloved hot lover and his beloved Michelle.

In the company of his loved ones, the three of them would earn enough money, and have enough food.
He felt his life would be complete.

“I’m so happy.” Before laying down in bed, Xia Zhi couldn’t but smile as he said, “Fuck, I’m done! After this, I think it’s enough!”

Ye Qia put down his tablet, tilting his head as he watched him to see his tired face was radiating happiness.
This was something he had never displayed, in spite of making so much money and having so many previous boyfriends ── it was because he was also happy. 

Xia Zhi rambled endlessly before he asked, “Well, what do you think?”

Ye Qia gave him a small smile and a nod, saying quietly, “I think it sounds good.”

“Yeah, I think so too.”Xia Zhi casually grasped Ye Qia’s thigh.
“Good night.”

Ye Qia gave him a kiss on the forehead.
“Good night.”

That night, Xia Zhi had a good dream.
Even in his dreams, he couldn’t help but smile.
When he got up, the weather was overcast, but this didn’t dampen his mood.
The only thing was that Michelle had vomited last night’s meal, and even vomited after drinking water.
He began to feel a little worried.

“Maybe he ate too much last night, I’m taking him to the vet.”

“You’re asking for leave again?” Ye Qia asked helplessly, “How many deductions have you had this month?”

After pondering for a bit, Xia Zhi said boldly, “No matter how many I get, even if it’s my entire salary, I’ll give it up!”

Ye Qia raised his eyebrows but said indifferently, “Well, that’s good.
Next month, you’ll need to start working out with me.
Otherwise, you won’t get any food.”


Xia Zhi accepted this “dreadful proposal,” deciding to resist when the time came before robbing Ye Qia of his food.
At ten o’clock, grabbed Michelle’s leash and went out the door.
Michelle was a little tired, but still became excited the moment the leash was grabbed, jumping around and around.

The vet’s office was only a few minutes away, and when they arrived, Xia Zhi noticed that Michelle’s mouth was open and he was drooling.
He picked Michelle up, feeling a little fearful, and rushed in, anxiously shouting for the doctor.

One hour later, he was impatiently waiting in the lounge when he was called in by the doctor.
The doctor informed him, “Acute renal failure.
I’m sorry, we tried our best.”

Xia Zhi stood in place.
He already believed he would hear this phrase in his lifetime, maybe when his mom passed away.
It should be many years from now.
He didn’t expect to hear it so soon.

“Would you like euthanasia?”

“No!” He shouted loudly, “I just brought him here a few days ago.
How come you didn’t find it then?”

“At that time, everything was normal.” The vet seemed to have heard this many times, remaining calm as they said, “It’s a stray dog.
It could have many hidden illnesses.”

“He was still fine this morning!”

“The symptoms are quite clear…”

“I don’t care about these symptoms! I just know that this morning, he was still fine!”

“Sir, you need to calm down.
Stray dogs are like this, they have sudden emergencies…”

“Fuck your emergencies!”

As soon as Xia Zhi’s fist shot forward, the doctor quickly ran away, closing the door and locking it.
He listened to the racket outside, but couldn’t be bothered with it and returned to the treatment table.
Michelle had already lost the strength to raise his head, and could only open his eyes.
With great effort, he looked at Xia Zhi.
His front paws trembled, so he put a hand over it and immediately felt the paw raise lightly. 

Perhaps, he had already foreknown this day was coming, and so he had therefore followed Xia Zhi home.
Maybe he was looking for a place to rest.

Xia Zhi rarely cried.
His mother had always told him “men don’t cry.” Later, when he discovered he was gay, he took great care not to seem effeminate, never crying, never cowering, so as to appear upright and manly.
Even now, he should remain strong.

He grasped Michelle’s paw, smiling and comforting him.
Although most people felt that dogs couldn’t understand human speech, he felt Michelle understood. 

On that morning, at eleven thirty, Michelle had his last struggle and stopped breathing.
He peacefully closed his eyes, with both paws in Xia Zhi’s hands, looking as if he had only fallen asleep.

Having received the doctor’s call, Ye Qia rushed over.
Xia Zhi was sitting blankly on the floor in the room, holding Michelle’s body.

“Xia Zhi.”

Xia Zhi raised his head, looking at Ye Qia.
Tears immediately sprang forth.
He leaned against Ye Qia, bawling as he sobbed, “Michelle’s gone.
Michelle’s gone.
I wanted to give him a home.
He was wondering for so long, I wanted to give him a home… Why does everyone who stays around me have bad luck?! My mom, Michelle.
Ye Qia, you can’t! Don’t have any accidents! Don’t leave me!”

Ye Qia said nothing, but held Xia Zhi tightly, letting him cry.

He apologized to the doctor for Xia Zhi, and had Michelle cremated.
When they got home, it was night time.
When he entered the house, he felt that something was missing.
He sat down at the table and when he raised his eyes, he felt he could see a thin little figure sitting not too far away, gazing at him pitifully.
For the very first time, he felt that family pets were not just animals.

Xia Zhi was extremely dispirited and didn’t speak.
Without eating, he got in bed, tossing and turning until morning.
The next day, he didn’t ask for leave and got up at dawn to shower.
Then, he went to work.

When Ye Qia got up, he noticed a very small bottle of ashes on the living room table. 

Everything went back to  normal.
Xia Zhi seemed to have gotten over it.
Except, he no longer watched Animal Planet on TV, no longer clamoured eagerly about buying a house, and had lost all interest in taking out a mortgage.
He went to work as usual, and got off work as usual, just like he had done before Michelle.

Ye Qia knew that those few hours had left a deep imprint on Xia Zhi.
Just like a childhood nightmare, he could speak about it freely, but when the scar was touched, there would be unspeakable pain.

He had to do something.

During this period of time, Xia Zhi lived like a zombie.
His co-workers didn’t understand, but the director had a dog and sympathized, giving him a vacation.
He refused; it was better to be at work than at home.
He even had the idea of moving, but thought of Ye Qia’s reaction and buried the idea.

Time would pass, and he would forget.
All of the pain would fade over the years, leaving only shallow memories.
Just like his childhood.
Hadn’t he already forgotten about that?

He tried hard to go to work and make money, but no longer rushed to buy a house.
Anyways, if a house didn’t have the people he liked, could it still be called a home? What he needed was a home, not a house.

After yet another exhausting day at work, Xia Zhi dragged himself home, his footsteps falling heavily in the corridor.
His anticipation had already turned into reluctance, and he had to take a deep breath before he opened the door.

The door opened, and a ball of fluff dashed over, crashing into Xia Zhi’s leg.
He lowered his head and was shocked to discover it was Michelle.
He absentmindedly exclaimed, “Michelle?”

The dog gave a bark, panting excitedly as it spun around.
It was then that he found it was not Michelle.
The pattern was different.
It only looked similar.
But, it seemed to be wet, clearly having just been washed.
He seemed to have a vague idea in his mind, and raised his head to see Ye Qia donned in a bathrobe, standing at the bathroom doorway, yelling, “Bring it back!”

Xia Zhi carried the dog back over, asking distractedly, “Where did you find it?”

“The animal protection organization.
It took me a long time to pick it out.” Ye Qia took the dog and perfunctorily pushed it back into the bathtub.
He washed its fur as he said, “I’ll be by your side no matter what.
Don’t stay so miserable anymore.
Everything will pass, and we’re still alive.
It’ll be okay.”

Lowering his head, Xia Zhi looked at the dog flopping around in the bathtub.
His eyes turned red.
He crouched down near the edge of the bath and said, “Mmm.”

“Mmm, what?”

“We’ll be together.”

“And then?”

“I’ll take out a mortgage, buy a house.”

“And then?”

“I’ll take Michelle Junior to the vet to get a proper exam! Not the same one as last time, that was a quack!”

“This one’s male too.”

“That’s why he’s Michelle Junior.”

Ye Qia rolled his eyes, but refused to comment.
He looked to the side, watching Xia Zhi.
Then, he smiled and moved over, whispering, “I love you.”

Xia Zhi abruptly turned with eyes wide.
After a few seconds, he laughed and leaned over, lightly kissing Ye Qia as he replied, “I love you too.”

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