Chapter 411: Waters of forgetfulness or pill of regret
It was a little before midnight that day that the doorbell rang again. Wearing his pyjamas, Xu Tingsheng opened the door with bleary eyes.
It was Mr Xiang who had come this time. Entering the house, he placed a bottle of wine and some dishes to go with it on the table.
"You were sleeping, huh? Sorry to disturb you. My store just closed for the night, so I came looking for you for a drink together. How're you doing? Are you fully recovered from before?"
"Oh, I'd just been lying down a little. I'm totally fine now, Uncle. Thank you for your concern," Xu Tingsheng carefully responded.
"That's good then. Woah, this place looks pretty good. I'll just have a look around," Mr Xiang said.
As Xu Tingsheng led Mr Xiang along in a tour of the place, he discovered that the latter's attention actually wasn't on the house at all. Entering his room, Mr Xiang pretended to nonchalantly pat his bed…he was confirming if the bed was hot, if Xu Tingsheng had really been sleeping there just earlier…
After touring all the other rooms, Mr Xiang asked, "Where's Little Ning? Is she asleep yet?"
"Yes, she is," Xu Tingsheng carefully opened the door.
Mr Xiang peeked in, muttering to himself, "This girl, not covering herself properly with the blanket even with the air-conditioning on."
With this excuse, Mr Xiang entered the room, pretending to cover Xiang Ning up with her blanket. In truth, though, he was observing carefully to see if she truly was asleep, having indeed been sleeping here all this while.
After leaving the room and closing the door behind him, Mr Xiang's expression had clearly relaxed.
Launching a sudden assault in the middle of the night this time, observing and probing and faking yet again without any prior warning whatsoever, in what was clearly another surprise inspection…
Mr and Mrs Xiang were probably only making this compromise because they were really too busy with the restaurant and did not feel good leaving Xiang Ning alone at home…still, when she was at Xu Tingsheng's…they still could not feel reassured.
Indeed, Mr Xiang was not actually thinking of drinking alcohol with Xu Tingsheng for real. He should be dog-tired and yearning for sleep right now. After sitting down for less than twenty minutes, having ingested only a few mouthfuls of alcohol and basically no dishes at all, Mr Xiang claimed to have to go to the market to buy groceries early the next morning and hurriedly took his leave.
Two inspections in one day, with one of them even having been in the middle of the night. They might finally be able to set their minds at ease a little now.
Xu Tingsheng took another shower before returning to his room.
Right after lying down, Little Xiang Ning entered the room, leaping onto the bed as she exclaimed excitedly, "Wow, you're so smart, Xu Tingsheng…my Dad really came to check on us in the middle of the night! We almost got caught."
"What do you mean we almost got caught? Nothing would have happened in the first place," Xu Tingsheng rebutted before continuing, "Hurry up and go back to sleep."
Little Xiang Ning looked at the time, then said, "Wait, let me go steal some cabbages first. There surely will be many left unharvested at this time."
Xu Tingsheng asked exasperatedly, "Hadn't we agreed on this? Leave your farm to me. You can only look at it once a week, during the weekends."
"You aren't stealing any, and you won't let me steal too. And you said still that you'd guarantee my level being the highest of all my classmates," Little Xiang Ning said, looking very distrustful.
Xu Tingsheng sighed, "Miss Little Xiang Ning, I made this game, alright? Rest assured, I have my ways."
"Are you going to cheat?"
"Yes," Xu Tingsheng nodded in affirmation, "Now hurry up and go to sleep."
"Kay, goodnight," Little Xiang Ning obediently responded.
Then, she shot into Xu Tingsheng's embrace, snugly cuddling up and closing her eyes. Next, she moved not an inch, as though she really had instantly fallen asleep…
Now this was really cheating.
"Back to your room to sleep…" Xu Tingsheng said sternly.
"They already came to check on us," Little Xiang Ning said.
"And after they've done so, you still have to go back to sleep."
"…I'll feel scared if I sleep alone."
And so Xu Tingsheng ended up reading while Little Xiang Ning lay there restfully with her eyes closed and one hand resting on him. Perhaps simplicity and bliss induced calmness as this time, there were easily no carnal urges like there had been initially.
Little Xiang Ning rolled over. Just when Xu Tingsheng thought that she was already asleep for real, he spotted her creeping furtively towards the doorway through the corner of his eye.
"What're you doing?" Xu Tingsheng asked.
Little Xiang Ning rose to her full height, replying, "Going to the toilet?"
"What're you acting so sneaky in going to the toilet for?"
"I didn't want to disturb you."
"Well, go on then."
Half an hour later, she had still not returned.
Xu Tingsheng caught Little Xiang Ning sitting cross-legged before the computer in the study, eating some tidbits that he had bought for her in the afternoon while making her rounds in stealing cabbages.
Having gotten self-owned by a game, the 'unethical businessman' Xu Tingsheng asked helplessly, "What's so fun about this broken game?"
Looking at him, Little Xiang Ning said, "I'm playing it to support you! Look, I've managed to steal so much."
"Right. So now that you're done stealing, how about you go back to bed?" Xu Tingsheng asked.
"No, let me wait just a little bit longer. This girl's cabbages will be ripe in a bit," Little Xiang Ning clicked on a plot of land, saying, "Her level's high, so stealing her cabbages is more worthwhile."
"But after you've done so, you'll find that another person's cabbages are nearly ripe, and then the cycle will repeat itself. You'll end up being awake the entire night," Xu Tingsheng analysed.
Little Xiang Ning actually had the audacity to nod as she said, "Right, there really is another, it seems. I'll go to bed after these two classmates' cabbages have ripened then."
Xu Tingsheng put on a stern expression.
"I'll just wait for this one then," Little Xiang Ning said timidly.
And there they sat, one reading, one eating tidbits while playing an online game.
After a while, Little Xiang Ning suddenly turned to look at Xu Tingsheng, "Would you choose the waters of forgetfulness or a pill of regret?"
A nonplussed Xu Tingsheng instinctively asked, "Huh?"
"Waters of forgetfulness or pill of regret? Someone asked it on Weibo."
"Pill of regret."
"Because I can't bear to forget. Because if it's possible, I would still want another chance."
"Hey, why do you look like you wanna cry? I never said that I don't want you anymore."
Perhaps sensing the fluctuations in Xu Tingsheng's emotions, seeing how he looked rather disturbed right now, Little Xiang Ning walked over and hugged him, asking, "Is something the matter?”
"It's nothing," Xu Tingsheng dabbed at his tears before reaching out and hugging her tightly, "It's just great that you're still here."
How many missed chances were unknowingly passing one by in this world? Due to a lack of self-awareness, how many cases were there in which one wanted to return but it was already too late, with things being set in stone as regret was impossible…there were that many people who wished for this pill, this elixir of regret.
If a pill of regret existed, who would want the waters of forgetfulness? ……
They ended up sleeping very late that night.
Little Xiang Ning coaxed Uncle Liar as she would a young child.
The images of her from both his lifetimes overlapped. The final scene of her in his previous life resolutely turning to leave at the very end replayed itself unceasingly, and then there was her in this life, her slender arms cushioning the back of his head, her young face insistently trying hard to feign the atmosphere of an adult.
"So long as you never choose the waters of forgetfulness, I will always give you a pill of regret," Little Xiang Ning said.