In the middle of the night, Lu Ying woke up, staring blankly.
The ceiling was white, not clean white but peeling and dusty; there were piles of clutter in every corner, and the walls were yellow and dull from years of cooking.

Probably their clothes and quilts also smelt of smoke and oil.

He wondered how much truth there was beneath Mrs.
Qin’s kind and gracious smile yesterday.

After all, the aloof Mrs.
Qin would not grimace even when shedding all pretence of cordiality, much less show her dislike of you bluntly.

”I’m not trying to embarrass you, I’m doing it for your own good.
I’m not forcing you to leave, I’m thinking of your future.”

“I hope you will have a good life in the future.
You can take the money and use it.
Go back and be filial to your grandfather.”

“I know you may think I’m bad, and it doesn’t matter if you scold me.
But in eight or ten years, you will definitely thank me.”

“You can’t just fall in love at such a young age.
You have to study more and think more, and spending time with your own grandfather is the most important thing.”

“I know you’re a good boy, I actually like you a lot, otherwise I would just have let someone seize you…”

Really.

Mrs.
Qin was very good.
The words she had said were still ringing in Lu Ying’s ears.
Every word was true.
It made him realise deeply what it meant to be ‘a man with his tail between his legs’ and what it meant to be ‘afraid’ and ‘desperate’.
He was still shivering as he ran to the airport, holding back his tears.
As much as he loved his little lover, his little lover’s mother was really too scary.
Oooh, if his little lover had a conscience, he would definitely come to the mountains to find him.

When he got home, Grandpa was there and he wasn’t afraid of any Mrs.
Qin.

……

“Hehe…” The clearer Lu Ying looked back at the past, the more he laughed at himself for being naive and foolish back then, easily scared off by someone (╭(╯^╰)╮.
Mrs.
Qin likely didn’t even understand how inexplicably intimidating she was.

It was just that Mrs.
Qin was still Mrs.
Qin but he was no longer the Lu Ying who only knew how to hahaha back then.
Mrs.
Qin had aged, while his spirit had grown.

As for the little lover… Lu Ying had never seen him again.
Well, these things can’t be forced.

Oh no, he should be called the ex…

Today was the first day of January, the first day of the New Year in the Gregorian calendar.

Lu Ying walked to the window and quietly pulled open the curtain.
The world outside turned white with snow during the night.

The snow buried the dilapidated streets, and the eaves were white with frost.
Snowflakes fell from the dimly lit quiet night sky. 

It looked like there were stars falling from the sky.

Lu Ying wanted to reach out and catch them.

The cold glass blocked his intention.

Beep beep beep.

The alarm clock went off at half past three; time to go to work.

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Brush your teeth, wash your face, get dressed and change your shoes, steam the steamed buns in the rice cooker and stuff them into your mouth with the freshly boiled plain water.
He was too anxious to eat and couldn’t help coughing a few times, swallowing uncomfortably.

“Dad…” Lu Zaizai sat up sleepily in bed.
When he saw his father in the kitchen eating the buns, his sleepiness was suddenly gone.

The child blinked his dumbfounded eyes.

“Dad, are the buns hard to eat?”

Sniffling hastily, Lu Ying watched his son dart towards him barefoot.
He took a few steps forward and lifted Zaizai, “I have a surprise for you.”

“Really?” Lu Zaizai’s palms pressed against Lu Ying’s slightly hot face.
Lu Ying smiled, “Close your eyes first.”

“En en!”

He picked up his son, went to the window and lifted the curtain, “Open your eyes and look.”

The snowy white world was reflected in the child’s eyes.

“Look, it’s so beautiful outside.”

“Wow, there’s so much snow!” Lu Zaizai was so attracted to the world in front of him that his entire face was pressed against the window glass: “Dad, can we build a snowman and have a snowball fight?”

“Of course we can.
The snow this year is very heavy, we rarely have such heavy snow in Caifeng City.
It’s really a good omen for the first day of the New Year.”

“Yes, it snowed last year, but there was no snowman, it snowed but it melted quickly.” Lu Zaizai asked anxiously, “Dad, are we still going to the amusement park today?”

Lu Ying told him regretfully, “The snow is too heavy, and the open-air projects in the amusement park will be shut down.
Shall we go another time?”

Instead of being disappointed, Lu Zaizai smiled and wrapped his arms around his father’s neck, “Then Dad will take me to play in the snow today!”

“No problem.
You can sleep a little longer while Dad cleans the streets.”

Lu Zaizai shook his head in a panic and refused adamantly, “No! I don’t want to stay home alone.
I want to go out with Dad.”

“But it’s cold outside.”

“I’m not afraid, I want to stay with Dad.
Look at my hand that got hurt yesterday, I’m miserable.”

“Who said he was a big brother?”

Lu Zaizai shook his head and emphasised loudly, “I’m not, I’m still a little baby in kindergarten!”

Hey, how could he become so clingy after a little injury!

Lu Ying knew he couldn’t resist his son.
It was better to take him along than having him run out on his own when he left.
Lu Ying took out the cotton-padded pants and other clothes from the bottom of the box and put them on his son layer by layer, finally putting on the down jacket.
Taking a thermos and something to eat, he went straight out.

The overalls Lu Ying wore were glow-in-the-dark and very eye-catching in the streets at three or four in the morning.
Lu Zaizai felt that the clothes were particularly cool, like a gleaming animated hero.

“Dad, I want glowing clothes.”

“It’s work clothes, you can’t buy them.”

“Then when I grow up and work with Dad, I can be just like you.”

“Yeah? This job isn’t easy.”

“I’m not afraid~”

“Then you’ll have to work hard later.”

Lu Zaizai bounced, stomping on the snow from time to time to make a crunchy sound.
There were almost no cars or pedestrians on the road.
The father and son walked hand in hand in the snow, giggling and smashing snowballs all the way, and their cheerful laughter floated lingeringly in the white night.

When they arrived at the workplace, the elderly captain turned out to be there even earlier than Lu Ying.
A tough old man in his fifties was driving a tricycle to deliver salt bags, and judging by his sweaty appearance, he had probably been working for at least an hour.

“Captain Yuan, why are you so early?” Lu Ying went up to help him unload the salt bags.
Each bag was a hundred catties, pressing heavily on the old man’s shoulders.

Captain Yuan wiped the sweat from his face: “Why did you bring the child out? What will you do if you freeze the child and he gets sick on such a cold day? I’ve been paying attention to the heavy snow tonight, and sure enough, the roads are piled with snow.
What else could I do but to come out early to transport salt bags to melt snow?”

“Then you should have told us, what good can you do alone.”

“Humph, young man, you still look down on me.
Come on, Uncle Yuan, no one believes in you but yourself!” 

Lu Ying laughed, lifted two bags of salt with one hand and threw them onto the cart with ease, not forgetting to tell his son, who was watching curiously, “Zaizai, this is Grandpa Yuan.”

“Good morning, Grandpa Yuan.” Lu Zaizai said obediently.

“That’s a good boy.
Quickly go to the station by the roadside, it is clean and safe there.
Don’t play on the road.”

“Go over there, Zaizai, you can build a snowman on a station chair.”

Lu Zaizai hesitated: “But I want to help Dad.”

“Little fool, if Dad uses you as a child labourer, he will be scolded.”

“All right then, I’ll go and build a snowman.
If Dad needs help, call me and I’ll help you.”

“Be careful not to get your hand hurt.”

Captain Yuan grinned, “Your boy is so strong, a good boy who knows how to behave.”

“Well, he’s been well-behaved since he was little.”

Shortly afterwards, other employees arrived, and the group divided up the work, transporting carts of salt bags to various parts of the road and sprinkling salt on the streets to make the snow melt quickly.
The weather had been cold for a few days and there was less rubbish on the streets than usual, but today the snow piled up and greatly increased the workload.
Usually Lu Ying could finish work in four hours at the slowest, but today there was still a bunch of work until almost nine in the morning, when the road was already full of cars and pedestrians.

“Xiao Lu, stop working, hurry up and go to the shopping mall, we’ll do the rest.” Captain Yuan sympathetically urged Lu Ying to hurry up and go.

Lu Ying shook his head, waved his shovel and continued shovelling snow, occasionally looking at his son who was playing next to him.
The boy was in good spirits; he had woken up in the middle of the night and was still playing hard, not tired at all.

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll be late for work?” Captain Yuan was anxious for him.

Lu Ying stopped, resting one hand on his shovel and tugging the clothes on his back with the other.
He had worked hard for a few hours and the clothes inside were all drenched in sweat, sticky and wrinkled on his back.

“I’m not going.
I got fired yesterday.”

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“What? How could you be fired?” Captain Yuan exclaimed.

Lu Ying simply said, “Yesterday afternoon the supervisor called to tell me that my resignation letter was rejected by the manager and I was dismissed in turn.
The reason is that I was absent from work yesterday without permission.
Last month’s salary will not be paid either.”

“Outrageous, what kind of manager is this? If they don’t pay for your work, you can go to the labour department and apply for that arbitration or whatever to sue them! 2,000 or 3,000 yuan a month for your hard work, don’t let them have a penny! Don’t be afraid, we old people will help you.
I don’t believe they will dare not to pay.”

“Those who don’t pay for work should be struck by lightning!”

This group of his street sweeping colleagues were filled with righteous indignation and helped Lu Ying come up with ideas.

Lu Ying placated, “Thank you all, I will definitely ask for my salary.
I’ll be fine on my own.”

“Don’t do everything on your own, call us if you can’t!”

“Sure.”

“Dad, I’ll help you sweep.”

As the station became more and more crowded, Lu Zaizai had no place to play and was bored, so he ran over, picked up a broom and swept the road in a decent manner.
Everyone laughed and praised him for his diligence and Lu Ying let him do it.
Rubbing their hands, the father and son worked together.

At around noon, the streets were finally cleared of snow and everyone was so tired that they could barely stand and walk home after work.
Lu Ying was starving, and Lu Zaizai was lethargic, looking pitiful and ready to fall asleep at any moment.

After eating at home, Lu Ying dragged his dozing son to the outside bathhouse to take a bath.
The clothes were not easy to dry in winter.
He usually only washed once every two or three days.
Boiling water at home and squeezing in the bathroom to wash was not a pleasant experience.
Every time Lu Zaizai was crying like a wailing ghost during washing.

There was a concealed bathhouse next to the community, and the tenants who couldn’t afford to use electricity and water at home chose to go to the bathhouse.
It was five yuan for adults and three yuan for children, individual cubicles for everyone.
When the owner saw that Lu Ying had brought the child, he gave them a slightly larger bathing room.

Lu Ying was fully equipped with towels of all sizes, travel size shampoo and shower gel, children’s cream and large plastic basins.

“Wow wow wow, so hot, I’m going to be scalded!” As soon as the shower sprayed, Lu Zaizai began to yell and wriggle like a loach.

……

Lu Ying rolled his eyes as he filled the basin with water: “Where is it hot? Is it better to wash in cold water?”

“Woo, I want to use the Ultraman basin to wash.” Lu Zaizai cowered in the corner, washing himself slowly.

Lu Ying ignored him, “Whatever you want.”

Lu Zaizai slowly washed himself, sometimes slapping the water, sometimes waving the towel and turning around, almost falling over.
Lu Ying gasped and gently twisted his ear: “Every time I take you out for a bath, you’re naughty.
You deserve it if you get your injury wet.”

“Dad, don’t be angry, I won’t move around.” Lu Zaizai immediately pretended to be a good boy: “Dad, I’ll help you take a bath.”

“No, you won’t.”

“Dad, the mark on your belly has turned red.” Lu Zaizai was amazed.
He stretched out his hand to touch Lu Ying’s abdomen.
The scar was usually a light pink, but now the hot water had deepened the colour, “It feels slippery, like a little fish, hahaha, it’s fun.” The little hand poked and prodded.

Lu Ying plucked away his son’s little hand and snorted softly.

“The little fish has grown into you.”

The big pig trotters made me ugly at my young age!

With the thoughts of Mrs.
Qin yesterday and all the past, the hot water rushed mercilessly over his body, scalding Lu Ying’s eyes red.

Lu Ying’s emotions were still tense when he walked out of the bathhouse, his flushed-cheeked son following him with the Ultraman basin in his arms.

“Dad, my socks are disobedient and are shrinking into my shoes again.
Help me get them.”

Lu Ying bent down and helped Lu Zaizai pull out the edges of his socks.
The moment he got up, he seemed to feel something.
Someone was following him in the shadows; but when he looked up, the feeling disappeared again.

Lu Ying took his son’s hand and increased his vigilance.

In the office, the assistant made Qin Zhuopu a cup of oolong tea.
Qin Zhuopu didn’t even look at it, his eyes fixed on the computer screen.

High-definition photos flashed on the screen, all featuring a single person.

Not long after, there was a clanging sound.

The assistant walked in, frightened, only to see the tea cup being broken into several pieces.

The boss had his back turned to the door, standing by the window and smoking.

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