The surprise gift came early but Ning Yan still acted as though he were taking the college entrance exams the next day. In his anxious state, he didn’t sleep a wink that night.
The following morning, Ning Yue called Lin Rong and said he’d like to take the puppy to Ning Yan today.
When Lin Rong heard Ning Yan’s name, his voice softened and he agreed, “Okay.”
After he hung up, he turned around and looked contemplatively at the little white dog. He walked over and poked at Ning Yan’s dog head with a finger while saying quietly, “What happened between you and Yanyan?”
Ning Yan scrunched up his neck.
Luckily Lin Rong didn’t insist on getting an answer to this question.
Just like he had promised Ning Yue, he’d wait for the right time.
So after thinking things over by himself for a while, he poked at Ning Yan’s head again and picked him up. Lin Rong said, “Before you go back to Yanyan, let’s give you a bath.”
Ning Yan thought apathetically, What, you’re afraid your beloved Yanayn will faint from me being stinky?
Since Ning Yan didn’t feel like he was feverish, he tolerated Lin Rong giving him a bath. He turned back into a sweet, orange-scented puppy and waited until nearly the evening before he felt his body temperature rise.
Very soon afterwards, Ning Yue’s call came and Lin Rong took Ning Yan downstairs.
As Ning Yue acquired Ning Yan and held him, he heard Lin Rong say from behind them, “It’s nothing dangerous, right?”
Ning Yue met the man’s gaze, nodded, and calmly said, “Relax.”
Lin Rong then looked at the white puppy who had turned around to look at him. He said warmly, “Then, see you tomorrow, Sese.”
See you tomorrow, big pervert.
Ning Yan quietly answered in his mind as he looked at Lin Rong in silence.
… After they’d walked 20 meters or so, Ning Yue said unsympathetically, “You can stop looking now.”
The white puppy quickly scrunched his neck back and let out a snort.
Half an hour later and Ning Yan was back in his apartment. He finally cheered up.
This familiar scenery, this familiar scent, he is finally home!
Ning Yan felt so moved he could cry!
The white puppy raced around the room in ecstasy. Ning Yue changed his shoes, walked into the living room, and said, “By the way, I told your dad about what happened to you but we kept it quiet from your mom.”
Ning Yan slammed the brakes on his zooming around and asked confusedly in dog language, “Why hide it from my mom?”
Because your Pactmate is not only an outsider but is Lin Rong. Aunt would probably march over here in a murderous rage once she finds out about this unexpected development.
Of course, Ning Yue would never tell Ning Yan this since he had also chosen to keep what being Pactmates meant from him.
Ning Yue glanced at the little white dog and thought, The brat looks like he’s about to fall in love but he doesn’t seem to realize it. If we tell him now, who knows how he’ll react. Let’s not have that affect his transformation later on.
So Ning Yue only answered, “To save her from worrying. Let’s wait till you can control your transformation.”
Ning Yan tilted his head and thought the decision was reasonable once he remembered how rash and impulsive Madam Lu was1In modern-day Chinese society, it’s common for wives to not take their husband’s last name. So here, 路女士 is still referring to Ning Yan’s mom/Ning Zhuangrong’s wife (i.e. they’re still married). However, if the original text had said 宁太太, that would have been translated as Mrs. Ning.. He nodded and wisely said, “Then please keep it hidden from my mom, thanks bro!”
Ning Yue glanced sideways at him, “Sure.”
The transformation looked like it wouldn’t happen immediately, so Ning Yue suggested, “Stop running around and go lie down quietly in bed. The sooner you rest, the sooner you transform.”
Ning Yan immediately became serious and answered nervously, “Yes, sir!”
Time passed quickly.
Ning Yue sat in the living room and used the computer to handle various affairs.
The demon association finally came back with confirmation that when Ning Yan had transformed, the cameras in the park had not picked up any relevant footage.
Aside from this, though Ning Yan had been in seclusion before, there had been upcoming work planned. Now everything needed to be readjusted.
There was a lot to do. Ning Yue put on a pair of gold-framed glasses and his slender fingers tapped away at the keyboard.
Once in a while, he’d stop and walk towards the bedroom door. He’d open the door quietly and look inside.
The white puppy slept on.
… And that lucky-to-be-functional phone, dug out from the ground, remained on the bed stand next to the bed.
Night quickly fell.
In Elegant Scene Court.
The man wrote songs for a while in the room before finally stopping and rubbing the corner of his eyes.
The house was very quiet.
He closed his eyes and his mind supplied a picture of the lively little dog.
It’d only been half a month and he’d suddenly become unused to this kind of quiet.
His phone suddenly vibrated. The man glanced down at the caller ID and picked up. On the other end, Jiang Xiaoning asked, “What are you doing?”
“Writing songs at home.” Lin Rong put down the guitar.
Jiang Xiaoning laughed and said, “I knew it. I ran into Jiang Mo this afternoon and we’re over here at Riverside with a couple of other friends. We just had Sichuan food for dinner; since you don’t eat that, we didn’t bother calling you. Do you wanna come and hang now?”
On the other side of the city.
When Ning Yan woke up, he was sweating buckets and his mind felt like cotton candy.
The room was dark and he couldn’t see anything. Several long minutes of confusion later, his memories came back and he hurriedly sat up, grabbed the phone by his bed, and turned it on—Ning Yue had refused to let him turn it on before bed, afraid it’d prevent him from resting.
Once his phone powered on, it began a quick series of vibrations—a lot of notifications had piled up during the last half-month. Not only were there sales text messages but also a lot of WeChat messages, and he could barely keep up.
Ning Yan scanned through them. A lot of friends asked him why he had been so quiet, but they probably knew about his weird habits during seclusion and hadn’t followed up. The only one who persisted in sending messages was his younger friend Wei Zhounan2The original text indicated Wei Zhounan as Ning Yan’s 小弟弟 (literally “little brother”). They are not blood-relatives and the term is used to indicate that Wei Zhounan is younger and also someone with whom Ning Yan has a really good relationship. .
“Are you still in seclusion, Ning Bro?”
“I want crayfish!! Ning Bro when do you have time to grab a meal?”
“Ning Bro, you’re still going to He Congshen’s birthday party next week, right?
“Ning Bro, Ning Bro, did you finish writing your new song yet?”
“Ning Bro you’ve been missing a little long this time! Everything okay?”
The last message was from that morning.
Ning Yan contentedly held his phone and typed back, speed unaffected by his experience as a puppy, “Everything’s fine, I’m good.”
Then he got off the bed, put on pajamas and slippers, and opened the door to call out, “Cousin, I’ve transformed back!”
As he called out, he ran towards the bathroom and flew towards the sink, where he turned on the overhead light so he could see himself clearly.
The youth in the mirror still had a small face, fair-skinned with rose-colored cheeks; a pair of expressive black eyes, which turned slightly upwards at the corners; and a firm,pert nose.
—He is still him! That lively, handsome, and energetic him!
Ning Yan felt very comforted by the sight.
Ning Yue came as soon as he heard the ruckus. He leaned against the door with his arms crossed and remarked sarcastically, “Looks like you didn’t lose any parts.”
“Hehe!” Ning Yan’s eyes glinted and he even thought he had become more handsome. “Cousin, how long can I stay like this?”
“It’s different for everyone, but probably for at least three hours.” Ning Yue looked down at his watch and answered, knowing exactly what Ning Yan was thinking, “So you have three hours of freedom.”
Ning Yan immediately shouted, “I’m going out to the supermarket!”
Ning Yue twitched his eyebrows. “That’s it?”
Ning Yan pouted, thought for a moment, and still couldn’t come up with anything—usually if he wasn’t working, he was at home writing songs or watching drama. He was a total homebody.
To ask him to come up with something to do right away was a pretty big challenge.
In the next moment, a picture of the man flashed across his brain and he shivered.
The next second, his phone began to vibrate. Seeing that it was Wei Zhounan calling, Ning Yan immediately picked up.
The second Wei Zhounan opened his mouth, he exclaimed, “Bro, you finally messaged me back. You must have written a lot of songs during this time, right?”
Ning Yan coughed lightly and decided to skip the question. He asked drily, “Uhh… What’s up?”
Wei Zhounan answered, “I’m hanging out at Riverside and it’s all with people we know. Bro, you wanna come?”
Riverside was an upscale club with decent privacy. A lot of people in the entertainment industry would go there and Ning Yan himself had been there twice. But he’d finally become human again and had no desire to go somewhere crowded and noisy. Just as he was about to refuse, he heard Zhou Weinan lower his voice and say in a gossipy tone, “Oh that’s right, I just saw Lin Rong, Jiang Xiaoning, and the other guys. It looks like they’ve got the room next to ours.”
Ning Yan’s words of rejection halted abruptly.
His heart thumped a few times, faster than normal.
He looked self-consciously over at Ning Yue, turned around, and asked quietly, “Which private room are you in?”
Ning Yue: “…”
We’re only half a meter apart and I can hear no matter how much you lower your voice, okay?
This attitude of “there’s nothing to see here”3此地无银三百两, (literally: “there is no three hundred liang of silver here”) is a Chinese idiom that connotes trying to hide something and giving yourself away in the process. It derives from a story where a guy with three hundred liang of silver buries it in a field and then marks that place with a sign that says “there’s no three hundred liang of silver buried here.” definitely means there’s an “interloper”4野男人 (literally: wild man), refers to a man who’s trying to tempt a party away from an established relationship in the “room.”