"A bowl of scallion oil noodles, a small bowl of chicken soup, and I feel like life couldn't be better. I have no more worries for the rest of my days!" Ling Shu sighed contentedly, leaning back in his chair and patting his stomach.
Yue Dingtang, who had also put down his chopsticks, became more refined and sat up straight, closing his eyes as if savoring the delicious food from earlier.
Ling Shu clicked his tongue twice. "Old Yue, sometimes I really feel like we're not just high school classmates, but rather, you're like my elder and I'm your junior."
Yue Dingtang replied, "Then why don't you call me 'Dad'?"
Ling Shu almost sprayed out the tea he had just sipped.
"You wish!" he retorted.
Yue Dingtang quickly grabbed a napkin from the table and held it up to block the tea that was about to spill, letting it drip onto the napkin.
"Eat without speaking and sleep without talking. Isn't that how you were taught at the Ling household since you were young?" he said.
Ling Shu coughed twice and had to take another big sip of tea to calm himself down.
"You might say it's all in the past, but if we keep bringing it up while we're out and about, the body will be cold before we know it!" he exclaimed.
Just as he finished speaking, he saw Yue Dingtang put his index finger to his lips and make a quiet gesture, reminding him that there were others present.
The young child who had been brought back and temporarily settled in was sleeping peacefully on the sofa, holding a blanket.
There was a hint of the beauty of the He family in his features.
But why was he named He Ku?
Did He You'an feel that this child had a difficult background and was born to suffer, or did he believe that all living beings suffer and there are no exceptions?
The name was truly too miserable.
"Let's give him a new name," Ling Shu said. "Miss He must be aware of it even in the afterlife, and she would surely hope for him to have a fresh start."
The two words 'He Ku' should have been buried with the conclusion of this matter.`
Yue Dingtang had no objections: "What about 'Lixin'?"
Ling Shu didn't expect him to come up with a name so quickly.
It was clear that the person surnamed Yue also agreed with his opinion, but refused to speak first, which was truly cunning.
"Which 'Li' and which 'Xin'?"
Yue Dingtang said, "Establish morality, establish speech, establish heart. Establish a heart for heaven and earth, establish a life for the people, continue the legacy of the past sages, and bring peace to the prosperous era. Speech is the voice of the heart, so we establish the heart. I hope that the two siblings of the He family will also be as resolute and determined, and act according to their hearts, not disappointing their elders."
Ling Shu was stunned for a moment. The name was too grand.
"Why not call him 'Iron Will'?" He blurted out.
Yue Dingtang: ...
Ling Shu raised his hands, "Alright, you're the big professor, you have the final say. Let's call him Lixin, it sounds good. But, how do we take care of this child? We're not married and we have no experience raising children. It's not appropriate to take him in, right?"
This problem had already been considered by Yue Dingtang on his way back.
"I have a colleague named Li who teaches Chinese. He and his wife have been married for many years and originally had a daughter who passed away from illness three years ago. Now that they are getting older, they are suffering from not having their own child. I can go ask them, they should be very willing."
Ling Shu asked, "What kind of person is he?"
Yue Dingtang replied, "Kind, optimistic, and helpful. His wife is the same. We can rest assured that Lixin will be well taken care of by them."
"Then he can stay at my place for a few days. My sister has always wanted a child, so she'll be thrilled to see him," Ling Shu said, yawning.
"I'm a bit tired after eating, so let me take a quick nap here. Wake me up in half an hour so I don't have to listen to my sister nagging me all night," he continued, his voice getting quieter and more drowsy.
Yue Dingtang pushed him towards the couch.
"Go sleep on the couch."
Ling Shu followed the command without hesitation, floating over to the couch and sitting next to He Lixin. He tilted his head back and immediately fell asleep.
He Lixin was awakened by his movements, but only rubbed his eyes and glanced at them before closing his eyes and curling up next to Ling Shu to continue sleeping.
This child is very sensitive to the outside world, but also has a speech impediment.
Since leaving with them, he has only responded with a few "uh-huh"s to Ling Shu.
Now he is willing to sleep peacefully by Ling Shu's side, which shows that he trusts Ling Shu.
However, for someone like Ling Shu with such strong peach blossom luck, being able to coax a child is not really a big deal.
Uncle Zhou walked over with a blanket, tiptoed over, pointed to Ling Shu, and looked at Yue Dingtang, silently asking for permission.
Yue Dingtang nodded, and Uncle Zhou went over and covered the two of them with the blanket.
The two heads, one big and one small, were snuggled together, exposed outside the blanket, inexplicably harmonious.
Suddenly, Uncle Zhou looked over at Yue Dingtang and smiled.
Yue Dingtang was puzzled.
Uncle Zhou smiled and said, "Fourth Young Master, I only laughed because I saw you laughing."
Did he just laugh?
Yue Dingtang touched the corner of his mouth, feeling the slight curve that was not very noticeable.
"Since Little Ling came to our house, it has become livelier. You also smile more often. You should keep smiling like this instead of being like the eldest and second young masters, who always have a stern face," whispered Uncle Zhou.
Yue Dingtang sneered, "He always causes trouble. I don't even have time to deal with my headaches. Even if I smile, it's a bitter smile."
Uncle Zhou silently thought to himself, "A dead duck's mouth is hard, but his heart is soft."
He knew Yue Dingtang from his high school days, when he was still like a child his age.
But after graduating and going abroad, Uncle Zhou hadn't seen him for a long time. During several years of summer and winter breaks, Yue Dingtang never came back.
When they met again, Uncle Zhou found that Yue Dingtang had suddenly become a mature and steady young man.
Only when facing Ling Shu would he reveal his frustration, helplessness, and even respond with verbal attacks.
Sometimes Uncle Zhou would think, as the three Yue brothers grew up and pursued their own careers, they gradually drifted apart.
The eldest and second eldest were rarely home and he didn't know what they were busy with. Their figures seemed to blend into the tumultuous Shanghai, sometimes clear and sometimes blurry.
One day before Yue Dingtang returned home after completing his studies, Uncle Zhou witnessed a fierce argument between the eldest brother Yue Dingqin and the second eldest brother Yue Dingjin.
From then on, they met even less frequently.
It was only after Yue Dingtang returned to China to teach that the second eldest brother Yue Dingjin occasionally came back for a meal, but there was almost never a scene of the family gathering and laughing together.
The only one who could mediate, Yue Chunxiao, had already become someone's wife and accompanied her husband on overseas missions for years.
It wasn't until Ling Shu appeared that Uncle Zhou felt like he had glimpsed a corner of the once lively and harmonious Yue family.
All the nostalgia about the past had nowhere to go, but found solace in Ling Shu.
Uncle Zhou knew that although Yue Dingtang didn't say it, he must have a special treatment towards Ling Shu in his heart.
Moreover, he knew that Fourth Young Master's curiosity was no less than that of Little Ling, otherwise they wouldn't have hit it off and caused trouble everywhere.
Ling Shu slept directly until dawn. When he woke up in bed at dawn, he found that He Lixin next to him had already woken up.
He was observing him quietly, without making any noise.
The more Ling Shu looked at him, the more he felt that this child not only had beautiful features, but also had the charm of He You'an in the way he looked at people.
Unfortunately, although He You'an smiled like gentle waves, who knew how long it would take this child to smile.
"He Ku, do you even remember your own name? Your aunt said she usually calls you Ah Ku."
After returning, Ling Shu had talked to him a lot. Although the child was gradually becoming less shy, he still responded very little.
This time was no exception.
Without waiting for his response, Ling Shu continued, "He Ku is not a good name. We don't want you to suffer in the future, so we have given you a new name, He Lixin. Before you go to your new home and meet your new dad and mom, come with me first. I have a sister who loves children, especially beautiful and obedient ones like you. Come stay with me for a few days, okay?"
He Lixin still didn't say a word.
Ling Shu patted his head. "Your biological father and your aunt are both righteous people. They didn't mean to abandon you. It's just that there are many things in this world that are beyond our control. They hope to use their own limited power to change the world."
He Lixin seemed to understand, and nodded lightly.
Yue Dingtang walked in, and Ling Shu had already dressed the child and was carrying him out of the room.
"Not staying for a few more days?"
Uncle Zhou was a little reluctant.
Even if the child didn't like to talk, having more people in the house would make it livelier.
Ling Shu chuckled, "It's not that I don't want to stay, but my sister is back and I have to report to her. Otherwise, she'll skin me alive! With He Lixin here, she won't go too crazy, right?"
Yue Dingtang gave him a sideways glance.
So, he was using He Lixin as an excuse. No wonder he suddenly became so enthusiastic about going home. He was on his way to school and decided to give Ling Shu a ride home with the driver. From afar, they saw Ling Yao shoveling snow at the doorstep.
It had snowed heavily the night before, and the thick layer of snow made it difficult for adults to travel. Some places were even too difficult for cars to drive through. Children in the distance were already playing with snowballs.
Ling Yao raised her head and saw Ling Shu coming back. She was about to scold him, but her attention was drawn to the little child he was holding.
"Where did this child come from?" Ling Yao asked.
Ling Shu replied, "Sister, I've come back to apologize."
Ling Yao was surprised by his sudden honesty and couldn't help but feel suspicious.
"Apologize for what? Where did this child come from?"
Ling Shu realized that his sister had misunderstood him. "Sister, at this point, with the child being so big, I can't keep it a secret anymore. He is my illegitimate child from when I was wandering outside."
Yue Dingtang remained silent.
Ling Yao's eyes widened in shock as she looked at him, then at He Lixin.
After a long moment, she pointed her finger at Ling Shu and stuttered, "Y-y-you...you're saying that he's...he's..."
"Are you trying to trick me?" Ling Yao couldn't believe it and looked back at Yue Dingtang.
"Dingtang, tell me, is this really true? Where did he get this child from? And it's so big!"
Yue Dingtang smiled and said, "He's lying to you. This is our friend's child."
Without hesitation, Ling Yao grabbed the broom next to her and started hitting Ling Shu with it. The latter was quick on his feet and ran away, his agility and speed clearly honed from years of oppression.
"I'll teach you a lesson! I'll teach you a lesson!" The two siblings were chasing and playfully hitting each other in the yard.
However, Ling Shu slipped and was hit on the butt by Ling Yao's broom, causing him to cry out in pain.
"Be gentle, sis! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I was just joking with you!" Ling Shu pleaded.
"Is this something to joke about? You almost scared me to death!" Ling Yao scolded.
Finally, when Ling Yao got tired of chasing and hitting her brother, Ling Shu approached her cautiously with a smile.
"He's called He Lixin, and he'll be staying with us for a few days, maybe even two weeks," Ling Shu explained.
Ling Yao frowned. "What about his parents?"
"They can't be found at the moment, so he's staying with us for now," Ling Shu replied.
Ling Yao sighed. "You're being too kind again, aren't you? Remember last year when you brought home an old man from the countryside who claimed to be homeless? We ended up getting scammed and had to spend a lot of money to send him away. Have you not learned your lesson?"
Feeling embarrassed in front of Yue Dingtang, Ling Shu quickly helped him inside and interrupted her.
"Let's talk inside, we can discuss everything in here!" But Ling Yao didn't stop her aggressive stance.
"First it was the old man, now it's the child. Are you waiting for the Beggar's Sect to come and extort us, so we can have a full house of descendants?!"
Yue Dingtang couldn't help but suppress a laugh.
Ling Shu glared at him fiercely.
"Old Yue, Officer Yue, Brother Dingtang, please help me testify that this time it's not true!"
Ling Yao wasn't buying it: "Dingtang, don't try to defend him. He's always up to no good, while others become police officers and make a good living, he always ends up empty-handed! Let me tell you, we can't afford to raise this child in our family. Don't just dump him on me again and expect me to take care of him. You should take responsibility and handle it yourself!"
The more she spoke, the angrier she became, and her voice grew louder.
He Lixin seemed to be frightened and hid behind Ling Shu, afraid to come out.
Ling Shu had to tell half the truth: "This child is actually the child of an old friend of ours. His parents have passed away, and his only remaining relative, his aunt, also passed away at a young age. There's no one to take care of him, so we were planning to find a reliable family to adopt him. In the meantime, we'll take care of him."
Ling Yao looked at Yue Dingtang, half-believing and half-doubting. "Is what he said true?"
Ling Shu was so angry that he fell backwards. He thought to himself, 'Who is your real brother? You only believe what he says, but not me.'
Luckily, Yue Dingtang had some conscience. "Yes, this friend had a good relationship with us. Before he passed away, he entrusted his child to us and asked us to find a good family for him. I have already found one. Ling Shu said that you like children, so I brought him over. If it's not convenient, he can stay at my house for now."
Ling Yao's anger turned into joy.
"Why didn't you say so earlier? If he is really your friend's child, I will definitely help. This child is also pitiful, losing his parents at such a young age, but he looks good."
She then scolded Ling Shu again. "You were so rude at the beginning that you scared the little kid."
Ling Shu felt deeply wronged: "I told you but you didn't believe me!"
Ling Yao replied naturally, "Of course not. I don't believe a word that comes out of your mouth. Luckily, Dingtang is here, or else there would be a big misunderstanding today."
Ling Shu felt unfairly treated and almost spat out a mouthful of blood.
He couldn't help but shout, "You're just biased towards him! One day, when he sells you out, you'll still be counting his money for him!"
Ling Yao didn't hesitate to reply, "That's still better than being sold out by you!"
Ling Shu: ...
Yue Dingtang felt that if he didn't smooth things over, Ling Shu might just die of anger on the spot.
But watching Ling Shu spin around in frustration was quite amusing.