When Gongliang Ye opened his door the next morning, he found Zhan Cheng standing on the steps, looking like a small, abandoned animal. He raised his brows at him and then stepped to the side, letting him inside.
In any case, this look gave him hope that he wouldn’t have anything to worry about from this guy. Not that there had been a reason yesterday. No, it really seemed that Zhan Cheng was completely harmless.
Zhan Cheng happily followed him into the hut, once again seeming overly nervous now that he was in front of the person that he had fallen for. Ah, he just wasn’t sure how to act toward him. Even though they had slept with each other, everything seemed to be in a strange state where they weren’t strangers anymore but also not yet lovers. It was probably because he hadn’t told him how he felt.
Not wanting to immediately talk about these things, he took out a small package, handing it to Gongliang Ye. “I bought some buns on the way out of the city. I got a few different kinds since I didn’t know what you like.” He gave a laugh, not quite sure what else to say to that. In fact, he had gotten up early to make sure that he could get the first batch and then rushed right over here.
He just hadn’t been able to wait to see Gongliang Ye for even an hour longer. Now, he was finally here and he felt a lot better. It was a pity that the witch lived this far outside of the town. Otherwise, they could spend more time together.
Just thinking of how he would have to leave in the evening again … Ah, he already regretted it. But there wasn’t any place closer to this hut. His city was the closest already so he’d have to live with it.
Gongliang Ye accepted the package without arguing this time and motioned over to the table. “I’ll assume you still haven’t eaten yet yourself either. Let’s sit down then. Do you want anything else with that?” Saying so, he already walked over to the table himself, putting down the package and letting Zhan Cheng open it up while he went to look through the shelf to see if there was anything that would go with it.
It probably wasn’t necessary. Even though he hadn’t seen the buns yet, he could imagine that they would be more than enough for the two of them. Mn, having a lover for some time was a nice thing. You would actually be pampered like this. He should make some nice tea for the occasion.
Thinking of that, he took out some leaves that he hadn’t used in some time. These didn’t have any medicinal effect. They were just for a pleasant taste and smell. But that was also nice every now and then. Always dealing with herbs, he had to say that he was sick of them sometimes.
He waited for the water to boil and then carried the pot back to the table, sitting it down in front of Zhan Cheng before he got two cups. Only then did he sit opposite him and pick up one of the buns.
He turned it around in his hands, taking a closer look. They looked pretty much the same as they had the other day so he had no idea what the difference was supposed to be but he still took a bite. When he did, he involuntarily closed his eyes.
The filling of this one was actually sweet, something he hadn’t expected. He had no idea when exactly he had last eaten something like this. It should have been years. Maybe back when he had been a child. Yes, he still remembered some days like this. Usually, his aunt would give him some special treats. But even she … well, what could one person on his side do? It was good that he had left.
Zhan Cheng watched Gongliang Ye closely, not wanting to miss his reaction. He knew almost nothing about him so every little thing he was able to figure out would be good. And figuring out what he liked to eat was pretty high up on his list of what he wanted to know. After all, he still felt that the witch was eating too little. So if he wanted to bring him food, he should go for something that he would like.
Seeing the way he closed his eyes, he couldn’t help but be surprised. Gongliang Ye hadn’t struck him as the type of person who liked sweets. He just … he seemed so serious. He had thought that he would also eat like that, preferring food that was beneficial for health maybe. But it seemed he had been wrong. He had really thought too simple. Thankfully, he had decided to take one bun of each kind just to make sure.
Zhan Cheng showed a silly smile but froze when he saw the expression that then crossed the witch’s face. That had seemed … He wasn’t even sure how to put it into words. As if he suddenly felt lonely. But that didn’t make any sense. After all, they were currently together. What reason would there be to look like that?
He wanted to ask but couldn’t bring himself to do it. The problem was that — despite everything that had happened between them — Gongliang Ye was never that forthcoming with him. He liked him but he wasn’t too sure if the witch actually liked him back. He probably should since he had slept with him but … well, he wasn’t too sure. And he especially wasn’t sure if any personal questions would be welcome. After all, just a few weeks ago, Gongliang Ye had refused to talk much about these things.
When Gongliang Ye opened his eyes again, he found Zhan Cheng still staring at him. He faintly raised his brows, his gaze as insipid as always. “What’s the matter?”
Zhan Cheng flinched when he was suddenly pulled out of his thoughts and then gave another awkward laugh. “Well, how do they taste? Do you like that one?”
Gongliang Ye looked at the rest of the bun and gave a hum that could have meant anything but he still took another bite, finishing it off in a few.
Zhan Cheng nodded, feeling that this was probably the clearest answer he would get. Gongliang Ye just wasn’t that enthusiastic about these things. That was something he’d have to live with.
Not quite sure what else to say, he just focused on the food. “I have a lot of different kinds. There are several sweet ones, some savory ones, and also vegetarian options. I really don’t know what you prefer so I just bought these. If there’s anything else you want me to bring you from the city, you can also tell me!”
Gongliang Ye gave another hum but didn’t mention anything. It had been pretty long since he had been to the city so he didn’t even know what they had. Asking for something would be impossible.
Zhan Cheng wasn’t willing to give up that easily though. “Is there nothing you can think of? It doesn’t matter what it is! I’ll go and get it for you. Even if they don’t have it in our town, I can still go to one of the others. I’m sure that they’ll have it somewhere.”
Gongliang Ye glanced up at him, feeling that this guy was really … well, he also didn’t know how to explain it. He was a bit annoying actually but he was like that because he cared. That was also quite nice. “I don’t need anything. I’ve been living like this for years. It’s not like I miss any of the things that humans probably have in their lives. I don’t even know how they live most of the time.”
“Oh.” Zhan Cheng nodded and picked up a bun, stuffing his mouth so he wouldn’t have to talk for a moment. He didn’t know how to respond to that. If it had been anybody else, he would’ve liked to invite them back to the city with him and show them how he lived. But with Gongliang Ye, it would be difficult. After all, he wasn’t welcome in the city and he probably didn’t want to go there.
Also, if he showed up there with a witch, he was afraid that people would start treating him differently. And then getting things for Gongliang Ye would be more difficult as well. So it was probably better not to do that.
Just the fact that he was going out every day was already troublesome enough. Sooner or later, people would start asking questions. And it wouldn’t take long until they finally realized just where he was always going. By that time, he could imagine the rumors.
He inwardly said goodbye to that idea but his enthusiasm for doing something for Gongliang Ye wasn’t diminished in the least. “Well, I guess I’ll just surprise you then!”
The witch looked at him, wondering if this guy was for real. “You know that you don’t need to bring me anything, right? I helped you because it was the right thing to do. So you don’t owe me anything.”
At this, Zhan Cheng’s smile collapsed. Why was Gongliang Ye still talking about owing him anything? Then again, he really hadn’t made his thoughts on him clear. That … was probably something he should change.
He hesitated for a moment, shifting on his seat uncomfortably. Finally, he reached over, grabbing the witch’s hand.
Gongliang Ye’s brows shot up and he tensed, wondering if the next moment, he would have to defend himself after all. It would be quite unexpected but then again, you never knew with humans.
Zhan Cheng needed a moment to figure out how to say things, and finally just rushed out with the first version that came to his mind. “This isn’t about owing you anything. I … You know, I just like you! And I … I want to do something for you. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you want something from the city, I’ll bring it to you. If you need help out here, I’d also do it if you ask. I just … I want you to be happy.”
Gongliang Ye stared at him, surprised at the sudden fervor. Then again, yesterday had been quite similar. Not that Zhan Cheng had managed to put into words what he thought back then but his actions had spoken loud enough.
Thinking of that, he finally sighed. “You don’t need to bring me anything from the city. As I said, I don’t need anything. As for here, I’ve been getting by on my own quite well. So forget about that.” He almost wanted to leave it at that but Zhan Cheng was looking at him like a dog that had just been kicked. And even though he saw himself as a rather dispassionate man, Gongliang Ye still couldn’t bring himself to be cruel. Thus, he sighed. “If you do like me, let’s just spend some time together. Anyway, I don’t need much. You’re not going to win me over that way. But some company is indeed appreciated.”
Zhan Cheng seem to revitalize when he heard that. His eyes widened and he squeezed his hand, nodding eagerly. “I will! I’ll come by every day!” Just thinking about it, he was already excited.
Gongliang Ye looked at him, his eyelid twitching. Somehow, he wasn’t so sure if it wouldn’t have been better to tell him to just bring him something and then wait a week before he came back. This guy … his company might be overwhelming.
But then, maybe that was because he had been alone for so long. He wasn’t used to interacting with others anymore. It would be difficult enough to share his space with somebody even for just a few hours of the day.
Having gotten the witch’s response, even though Gongliang Ye hadn’t said that he liked him back, Zhan Cheng was more than happy. In fact, while Gongliang Ye had kind of insinuated that he didn’t really like him yet, he had also left open that he could win him over. He just needed to woo him. And even though he wasn’t quite sure how things were done in the spirit realm or among witches, he was sure that the human way would also work if he put in enough effort. In any case, a sincere heart could win over anyone.
With that thought, he gave himself completely into his new task. That day, they finished eating together, and then he stayed around, just following Gongliang Ye around the whole day like a baby chick following its mother.
The witch couldn’t even say if he was bothered by it or not. In any case, it was a rather peculiar sight. And probably something that wouldn’t happen that often in the future so he just let it be.
In any case, he didn’t think that Zhan Cheng would keep this up for long. In a week or two, certainly, the fervor would die down and then he would see him less and less before finally, he wouldn’t come at all anymore. Or maybe it would stop abruptly after some time. It was hard to say right now but it surely wouldn’t last.
At least for the next few weeks though, Gongliang Ye was proven wrong. Every morning when he got up, Zhan Cheng would either already stand on his steps when he opened the door or he would appear there shortly afterward without fail.
He didn’t bring over something every day but every now and then, there would either be food, some practical things for everyday life like additional blankets or some fur that he had hunted, and sometimes he would even bring little trinkets that Gongliang Ye had absolutely no use for and felt to be just taking up space in his hut.
Still, seeing Zhan Cheng’s glittering eyes, he couldn’t bring himself to reject even a single thing. If it was something to eat, he would share it, if it was something practical, they would use it together, as for the useless stuff, he just put it on a shelf somewhere, displaying it for Zhan Cheng to see. When this man vanished, maybe he go and sell it somewhere. At the very least, it would have a bit of use then.
But even though he expected this to happen soon, that time didn’t seem to want to come. Zhan Cheng’s fervor didn’t die down at all. Instead, it seemed to become even stronger with time, making the witch question if maybe he had misunderstood this man.