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During the Snowstorm


The Scenery After the Snowstorm


Yin Guo stood at the kitchen counter, washing and chopping the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. She glanced over at the hot pot sitting on the stove, the water inside slowly heating up to a gentle boil. She frowned slightly, realizing that she had forgotten to buy any meat slices for the hot pot.


Undeterred, she rummaged through the fridge and found a package of sausages, this would suffice as a protein source for the meal. With a firm look on her face, she plopped the sausages into the hot pot, watching as they bobbed and cooked in the simmering broth.


Lin Yi Yang arrived in New York by train and had been running around, causing his clothes to become wrinkled and untidy. But, since he had a place to stay in this city, he kept a few athletic outfits. With a quick change, he transformed into a clean and sporty appearance.


This accentuated his slender figure and highlighted his fair complexion, making him resemble an innocent and well-behaved student. As he walked behind Yin Guo, he noticed her gaze fixed on his arm. He realized that she was likely admiring the intricate design of his tattoo.


The design was not too bold or excessive; it was mainly located on the inner part of his right arm. Nevertheless, he could understand how the ink might appear to be a bit exaggerated for a girl.


Lin Yi Yang felt uncomfortable with the sleeves of his shirt twisted on his wrist, but he refrained from rolling them up. As he sat down next to Yin Guo on her right, there was a moment of silence before they both spoke at the same time.


"What would you like to eat first?" Yin Guo asked.


"Would you like a drink?" Lin Yi Yang offered.




"Choose what you like to eat," He replied.


"Wine," She replied at the same time.


The two stopped and laughed simultaneously, breaking the slight tension in the air.


Lin Yi Yang stood up from his seat, holding the bottle of wine in his hand. He expertly uncorked the bottle and filled his glass to the brim, the deep red liquid shimmering in the light.


He then turned to Yin Guo, offering her a pour with the wine bottle suspended over her glass. "How much would you like?" he asked, a hint of a smile playing on his lips.


"Fill it up," she answered. "I have a good tolerance for alcohol. The first time I got drunk ended up in a fight."


Lin Yi Yang laughed.


For the first time, someone said that in front of him: I have a good alcohol tolerance.


The warm, golden-hued alcohol filled the glass, and Yin Guo couldn't help but watch as Lin Yi Yang poured it. When he smiled, his features lit up, and he looked even more handsome. It was as if he had two separate personalities - one that was distant and aloof and another that was approachable and friendly, like a caring big brother.


As they sat at the table, they took turns dropping their chosen ingredients into the boiling hot pot, always giving way to each other politely. The conversation flowed effortlessly, and the hot pot bubbled away, filling the room with the enticing scent of their meal.


The warm light from the hot pot danced across Yin Guo's face, illuminating her rosy cheeks as she chattered away, her words slightly slurred from the wine she had been drinking. She leaned back in her chair, supporting her chin with her hand as she looked at Lin Yi Yang, who was leisurely swaying his glass and studying her intently.


With every tilt of his head, he emptied the contents of his glass, yet despite the six empty wine bottles already strewn at his feet, he showed no signs of being affected by the alcohol. Unlike most people who tend to talk nonsense after a bottle or two of wine, Lin Yi Yang remained completely sober, his eyes sharp and focused on Yin Guo as she continued to share stories.


As the night grew later, the winds outside howled, whipping the trees into frenzied bends. Snowflakes fell from the sky, marking the start of another snowfall.


Yin Guo furrowed her brows; concern etched on her face. "What if they can't get back home? Will the subway shut down again?"


"Don't worry," Lin Yi Yang reassured her with a hint of a smirk. "They are men, not little girls. They can handle a night anywhere."


He's definitely right.


The sizzling sound from the hotpot had slowly dissipated, leaving behind only the sound of the blustering wind outside. As Yin Guo scooped the last bits of ingredients from the pot, she wondered what to do next.


She glanced at Lin Yi Yang, whose face was obscured by the steam rising from the hotpot. Despite the hazy view, she could see his piercing black eyes staring directly at her. It was a look she remembered from the first time they met, a night that had left her both scared and curious. She couldn't help but wonder where he was from as she gazed into his mysterious eyes.


Lin Yi Yang bent down and retrieved a half-empty bottle of wine that lay on the floor. Raising it towards Yin Guo, he offered her another glass.


"No, thanks," Yin Guo declined, standing up to gather the plates together. "I'm ready to clean up."


"Hold on," Lin Yi Yang protested. "I'm not done eating yet."


She made a halfhearted attempt to gather the dishes, but it was clear that she was stalling.


Yin Guo watched as Lin Yi Yang fiddled with his chopsticks, giving the remnants in the pot a few desultory stirs. She couldn't quite tell if he was simply not satisfied with the amount of food left or if there was another reason behind his lack of enthusiasm.


As she pondered, she made a mental note to herself, resolving to prepare more dishes next time to ensure there would be enough food for both of them.


That night, the city was enveloped in a snowstorm that blanketed the streets in a pristine white. Wu Wei and Meng Xiaotian were holed up in a bar, likely enjoying a few drinks and laughs, and failed to make their way back home.


The temperature in New York in March was frigid, reminiscent of the harsh winter in Northeastern China. Despite the harsh weather outside, the heating inside the room was suffocating, hotter than a sauna. As Yin Guo lay in bed, she found herself feeling stuffy and her throat parched. She stirred from her slumber and reached for the cup of water on her nightstand, drinking deeply to quench her thirst. The stuffy air in the room made her consider getting up and venturing to the bathroom.


As she tiptoed out of her room, the stillness of the apartment was disrupted by the soft glow of a computer screen. She peered into the living room to find Lin Yi Yang, eyes fixed on the laptop in front of him. It is the only source of light in the otherwise dark room; it shines like a beacon in the night.


"You're still up?" she asked, surprise tingeing her voice.


He quickly shut his laptop: "Did the light from the computer bother you?"


"No, not at all," Yin Guo replied, smiling, "I'm just going to the bathroom." She stepped forward cautiously, trying to recall the location of the light switch as she was unfamiliar with the layout of the house.


With a gentle click, the room lit up as Lin Yi Yang assisted her in flipping the switch.


The light illuminated the room, revealing Lin Yi Yang's new attire. He had stripped off his coat due to the heat and now stood in just a tank top and shorts, exposing the tattoos that had been deliberately concealed during dinner.


As Yin Guo's gaze lingered on his right arm, Lin Yi Yang noticed and reached for his sports jacket, carelessly draping it over his arms.


Feeling embarrassed, Yin Guo quickly made her way to the bathroom.


She looked in the mirror, and Yin Guo was surprised by her appearance. The heat had made her restless, and she had unbraided her hair before going to bed, leaving her waist-length curls in a wild tangle around her shoulders. She realized why it's not common for men and women to share living quarters - the idea of running into each other in such a disheveled state was certainly embarrassing. At least, she thought to herself, she had opted for workout clothes instead of pajamas.


Shaking her head at her reflection, she washed her face, hoping to at least partially restore her appearance. When she emerged from the bathroom, she saw that Lin Yi Yang had already packed up his computer, the power cord neatly coiled up. It appeared that he was about to retire for the night.


She offered a quiet "Goodnight" and scampered back to her room, eager to escape any potential embarrassment.


As soon as she shut the door, she opened it again and peered out, a glint in her eye. "Don't mind me," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "I can't sleep anyway, so feel free to keep writing. I'll just keep myself occupied."


Lin Yi Yang let out a soft sigh and rubbed the back of his neck, which had been stiff and sore for most of the night. He couldn't help but glance at the door once more.


Yin Guo slipped into her bed; her phone clutched in her hand as she mindlessly scrolled through her social media feeds. As she lay there, she couldn't help but notice the stillness of the house. Not a single sound or movement could be heard from the living room.


Her curiosity piqued, Yin Guo got out of bed and approached the door, peering through the crack to see what was going on. To her surprise, the light in the living room was still on, casting a warm glow into the otherwise dark and quiet house. She wondered if Lin Yi Yang was still up, working hard on a project or writing a paper.


Just as she was about to retreat to bed, her phone lit up with a notification. A message from Lin Yi Yang had just arrived.

Lin: Hey, listen.


Xiaoguo: Yeah? What's up?


Lin: I made a promise to your younger cousin. I'm taking him somewhere tomorrow.


Xiaoguo: It's all good. No need to let me know. He's been doing things on his own all the time.


Lin: Wu Wei is coming along too.


Xiaoguo: Oh, got it.


Lin: With the two of us gone, are you comfortable staying home by yourself?


*I'm all grown up. No need to worry about me* she thought to herself.


Xiaoguo: No problem. I have a training session this afternoon, so I won't be home.


Lin: OK.


The conversation ended there, and the light in the living room went out, indicating they had gone to sleep.


Yin Guo gazed at the chat window between the two, feeling like something was amiss. Why had Lin stopped sending the coffee emoji?


People really shouldn't form habits, as any disruption to those habits can make them feel uncomfortable. With a sense of boredom, Yin Guo clutched his phone and opened Zheng Yi's WeChat. They chatted about Lin Yi Yang and Zheng Yi's alma mater. Zheng Yi learned that Lin Yi Yang was not a standout student. But Zheng Yi was still shocked and kept exclaiming about how amazing and brilliant Lin Yi Yang was, especially since he made it himself.


Suddenly, Yin Guo's phone lit up with a message notification.


Lin: [Coffee]


Yin Guo's heart skipped a beat as she saw the coffee emoji appear on her screen. She eagerly began typing her reply, her fingers moving quickly across the keyboard.


Just as she was about to send her message, another notification appeared on her screen. It was from Zheng Yi.


Zhengyi: My alma mater has a unique feature. Because it's a church school, they don't give you a free condom. Other schools have them, sigh.


It would be difficult for her to respond to Lin Yi Yang's message after seeing this sentence.


Lin Yi Yang's eyes fixed on the chat window as he awaited Yin Guo's reply. Anticipation filled his chest as he leaned against the fridge, wondering what could be going on. The usually prompt Yin Guo was taking longer than usual to respond, which had Lin Yi Yang worried that something was wrong.


He couldn't help but think, "Could it be that she didn't get my message and wants to take things slow?" The lack of the familiar [happy] emoji was unusual for Yin Guo, causing Lin Yi Yang to question their relationship dynamics.


Lin leaned against the refrigerator, unconsciously tapping the door twice as his mind raced with thoughts. He sighed and made a decision to let go of his worries. Reaching inside the fridge, he grabbed a chilled can of coffee and shuffled back to his bedroom, dragging his slippers behind him. With the laptop in hand, he settled back into work, determined to push aside any distractions and focus on the task at hand.


Yin Guo was pleasantly surprised when she saw that the snow had stopped outside. She made her way out of bed, looking forward to the day ahead.


Suddenly, her cousin burst into her room with infectious energy, his cheeks rosy from the chill of the winter weather. Her cousin was excited to invite her, along with Lin Yi Yang and Wu Wei, to the Chelsea Market for lunch.


Meng Xiaotian's reason was simple: a shared meal brings people closer together, and it's always better to eat with others instead of alone. Yin Guo considered the offer, deciding that it was a good idea, and quickly changed into something more suitable for the cold weather. She left her room with a smile.


Lin Yi Yang and Wu Wei were perched at the kitchen bar, waiting for Yin Guo's appearance. As she emerged from her room, Wu Wei stealthily kicked Lin Yi Yang under the bar, signaling something. But Lin Yi Yang ignored him, his attention solely on Yin Guo.


"Hey, what time are you planning on heading back to practice billiards?" he asked, his voice eager.


Yin Guo gave it some thought. "Probably around three or four," she said. "If we eat a good lunch, we won't need dinner and can keep practicing until eight or nine."


Lin Yi Yang nodded, mentally mapping out their plan for the day.


The sound of their footsteps echoed through the market as they stepped into Chelsea before noon. Everywhere they look, the market is bustling with food. From street vendors to sit-down restaurants, the place is overflowing with the aroma of delicious cuisine. Lin Yi Yang, familiar with the area, leads the group to a self-service seafood store.


As they enter the store, they're greeted by rows of refrigerators filled with raw fish slices, sushi, and seafood of all kinds. The store's centerpiece is a large block of ice, displaying a bounty of seafood options like shrimp, sea urchins, raw oysters, mussels, and more. The counters are neatly arranged with the seafood, making it easy for customers to pick and choose what they want.


Meng Xiaotian was in front of the raw oyster counter, his eyes fixed on the thirty or forty different types of oysters. He was calculating the weight of his wallet and trying to decide how many to buy. Lin Yi Yang came up behind him and placed a hand on his back, saying, "Buy four dozen first, I'll treat you."


Lin then instructed Yin Guo to hold the sliced scallops and wait at a nearby table, took out some money from his wallet, and handed it to Wei, directing him to follow Meng Xiaotian and buy whatever he wanted to eat. Lin then headed to the lobster stall on his own.


When they were done with their purchases, the table was already filled with just oysters and clams.


"This table is getting too cramped," Wei Wu stated, placing the clams on the long table by the window where a row of people was already seated with only two empty spots. "Yin Guo, why don't you take a seat by the window?"

Lin Yi Yang returned with two lobsters, placing them in front of Yin Guo before turning back to grab two more.

"Thanks, bro," Meng Xiaotian expressed his gratitude with a smile.


"Your brother-in-law is certainly generous," Wu Wei commented with a chuckle, "He is truly one of the most giving people I know."


Wu Wei continued to admire the dozen live oysters each person had bought, not to mention the lobsters, scallops, and shrimps. Lin Yi Yang's standards for treating his dates are truly impressive.


Lin Yi Yang and his friends had just finished their lavish meal at the Chelsea Market, spending a considerable amount of money on food. Despite the hefty expense, Lin Yi Yang was not worried as he firmly believed that he could earn cash back with hard work. Just as he was sitting next to Yin Guo, his phone buzzed with a message from Wu Wei.


Wu Suo Wei: If you dare to say that you're not interested in her, I'll break your head off and play with it.


Lin Yi Yang remained silent, not responding to Wu Wei's words.


Yin Guo was savoring a mouthful of succulent sea urchins as Lin Yi Yang stepped away once more.


Moments later, Lin Yi Yang returned, this time bearing a piping hot seafood soup for the four of them. He was worried that their diet of raw seafood might upset their stomachs, so he brought the soup to ensure they could enjoy their meal without any discomfort.


Lin Yi Yang and Wu Wei's friendship has roots that extend back to their childhood. Today, he was grateful for the care and generosity showed by Lin Yi Yang, feeling an outpouring of emotion and appreciation in his heart. Clearly, a man's growth and maturity can only be nurtured by those who hold a special place in his heart.


As Lin Yi Yang settled into his seat, he noticed that Yin Guo had only picked at her plate of scallops. With a thoughtful gesture, he took a plate of raw oysters from Wu Wei's table and traded it for the scallops, placing it in front of Yin Guo.

"Are you not eating?" Yin Guo asked the man sitting to her right.


Lin Yi Yang glanced up and noticed Yin Guo's question. He picked up a raw oyster and ate it, indicating that he was indeed eating.


Yin Guo smiled at him in response, pleased that he was not neglecting his meal.


He noticed as Yin Guo prodded the lobster's body with her fork, and with a swift movement, Lin Yi Yang broke off the claws from two lobsters and placed them on her plate. He intended to tell her that the meat in the claws was the most tender and sweet, while the meat in the body was tough and older, but the words never made it out of his mouth. Instead, he simply said, "Finish this first."


Yin Guo didn't mind the man breaking off the claws for her. She thought he probably considered the claws too small to handle and took it himself. She picked up her fork and meticulously peeled apart the meat from the first claw. The man ate with much less finesse, grabbing the body of his lobster and gobbling it down in just a few quick bites. Meanwhile, Yin Guo was still savoring the delicate flavors of the second claw.


Lin Yi Yang took his time savoring the seafood soup, relishing the tangy lemon juice he squeezed into each raw oyster. He leisurely ate each one, enjoying the small moments of indulgence. He found himself playing with the empty oyster shells, stacking them on top of each other, lost in thought. He used to be an impatient person, even when eating with his younger brothers, he would finish his meal quickly and leave. But now, watching Yin Guo eat slowly, he found himself slowing down, savoring each moment.


As he savored each bite of the seafood, Lin Yi Yang discovered the joy of dining at a leisurely pace. This newfound appreciation for taking his time allowed him to truly understand Yin Guo's palate and engage in conversation with her as they dined. He twirled a clam shell on the table with his index finger as they reminisced about the past blizzard, chatting away with ease.


As Lin Yi Yang savored each bite of his meal, he couldn't help but eavesdrop on the conversation between Wu Wei and Meng Xiaotian in the background. Wu Wei was eagerly sharing suggestions for interesting places to visit in the area, including a thrilling high-line park and an art museum filled with unique exhibits. However, Meng Xiaotian seemed uninterested, dismissing the idea of visiting a park with a nonchalant wave of his hand.


Wu Wei lowered his voice: "When you walk in the park, you can see a hotel. All rooms are floor-to-ceiling windows, like small glass boxes."


"It's just a hotel, right? So what if it's pretty, it's still just a hotel," Meng Xiaotian said with a blank expression. Lin Yi Yang probably guessed what Wu Wei was going to say next.


He took a sip of seafood soup and laughed.


Because each room is designed like a glass box, standing in the nearby park allows one to catch glimpses of couples inside, freely indulging in their intimate moments without closing the curtains.


This added excitement and unpredictability attracts tourists who take to walking the park and peering up at the rooms, sometimes even waving at the couples. While it's not guaranteed, being in the right place at the right time could mean catching a live performance.


Lin Yi Yang remembered a particular instance when he was visiting with his classmates. A couple heard about the phenomenon from him and was so enamored with the idea that they immediately checked in to the hotel. They left the curtains wide open for an unforgettable experience. Of course, Lin Yi Yang didn't stay to watch. Instead, he decided to retreat to a nearby coffee shop by the art museum.


The young man was bold and adventurous.


After they finished their meal, Meng Xiaotian expressed his desire to visit the elevated park and quickly set off with Wu Wei. Meng Xiaotian grabbed Wu Wei's arm, and the two men strolled towards the park. The air was crisp, and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue, but they didn't seem to mind the chill. They were excited to explore the high-line park.


Yin Guo watched the two depart, curious, through the window, "Is the park really that fun?"


"Isn't the park on an elevated railway? Why would they want to go out and catch the wind in such cold weather?" she asked herself.


Lin Yi Yang wiped his hands on a napkin and looked at his phone, "The views from the park are stunning. It's worth checking out, even in this cold weather."


Lin Yi Yang read the message from his friend with eager eyes.


Wu Wei: The light bulb has been taken away. I am clearing the path for you. I found the perfect spot for a date.



Excitement coursed through Lin Yi Yang as he checked the location map Wu Wei had sent and saw that a table at a romantic restaurant had already been reserved. He knew precisely which restaurant it was and what it was known for.


With a satisfied grin, Lin Yi Yang slipped his phone into his pocket and returned to the task at hand, turning over two shells of raw oysters. Lin Yi Yang suddenly stopped, his gaze fixed on Yin Guo as a deep, contemplative expression crossed his face.


As Yin Guo drank her seafood soup, she became aware of Lin Yi Yang's intense gaze. She wondered if she was eating too slowly and feared that he was getting impatient since he also wanted to go to the park. Wanting to appease him, she quickly finished her soup, taking two large gulps. The warm liquid comforted her stomach, and she felt satisfied.


She took out a tissue and wiped her mouth, announcing, "I'm finished." Lin Yi Yang looked at her with a pensive expression as if he had something on his mind.


"You---" Lin Yi Yang looked at her, his gaze intense.


Yin Guo met his gaze, one second, two seconds, three seconds...


Yin Guo couldn't help but notice the sudden change in Lin Yi Yang's expression. She wondered if there was something pressing on his mind. Had the subway stopped running, and he was worried about getting back home? Had the landlord changed his mind about renting them the house?


He hesitated a moment before asking, "Do you want to eat Měnglóng?"


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