top of page

During the Snowstorm

9.1

The Day of the Return of the King

94

One year had passed since their last encounter.

 

Yin Guo stood at the airport terminal's exit, placing her luggage by her side as she sat down on the farthest empty seat to the right. The other seats in the row were already occupied by people eagerly awaiting their loved ones, while she was the only one who had just disembarked from her flight.

 

She glanced at her phone, checking the time and realizing it was still early.

 

The flight her loved one was on lacked satellite wifi, leaving her unable to establish any internet connection to track his whereabouts.

 

All she could do was calculate the time and estimate when he would land in China.

 

Lin Yi Yang was finally returning to his home country.

 

Yin Guo wasn't the only contestant returning from the flight. As they walked out of the exit one after another, the air was filled with whispers and laughter. Most of the men didn't bother changing out of their clothes, simply throwing on a casual suit jacket and hurrying to catch their flights. Meanwhile, the women, still sporting their competition makeup, congregated together, some clutching their cue cases, others leaning on their suitcases, attracting the attention of many passersby.

 

The last group to emerge from the airport were the referees, who had changed out of their plain sportswear into comfortable clothes. During the competition, they were required to wear suits all day long and stand for extended periods, leaving them thoroughly exhausted. As they made their way through the airport, they let out a collective sigh of relief at finally being able to change.

 

As the seven or eight referees walked out, Lin Lin, the team leader, led the way. She had undergone a major surgery and had spent a whole year recovering. This match was her first time officiating after her sick leave.

 

Lin Lin quickly spotted Yin Guo in the corner.

 

Yin Guo was a rising star who had only made her debut a year ago, yet her rankings in the 9-ball, 8-ball, and artistic pool had soared rapidly. Her big eyes were hidden behind the bangs that slid forward as she looked down. She wore a light pink hooded sweatshirt and white jeans, with her legs crossed obediently as she sat on the chair, holding her phone and staring at the screen without moving.

 

As Lin Lin approached Yin Guo, she noticed that Yin Guo appeared to be lost in thought, and she could tell that she was waiting for someone.

 

Lin Lin knew that in the next few hours, many people would rush to this airport and come to the same exit to pick up the same person.

 

"We haven't properly greeted each other, Lin Lin," Yin Guo said, looking up with a smile. "We met in Hangzhou before." She doubted the head referee did not recognize her.

 

"It's different," Lin Lin replied with a smile. "I'm Lin Lin from Dongxincheng, a childhood friend of Lin Yi Yang's."

 

Yin Guo smiled and shook hands with Lin Lin. She felt her grip was quite firm, like a close handshake with a family member.

At that moment, their relationship seemed to have become closer.

 

"I heard you had major surgery? Can you handle such a big competition right after coming back?" Yin Guo whispered to Lin Lin as they took their seats.

 

"It's alright, I actually wanted to take a month off, but this open tournament is too important, and they wouldn't let me rest," replied Lin Lin.

 

As they chatted, Lin Lin suddenly started teasing Yin Guo about Lin Yi Yang, "Can you tell me secretly if Lin Yi Yang owes high-interest loans in the United States? Why did he leave abruptly this time?"

 

Yin Guo's eyes widened as she realized what Lin Lin meant. They were discussing Lin Yi Yang's sudden rise in the rankings and his impressive winnings. It was estimated that he had earned around two million U.S. dollars in prize money from major tournaments, including events in both British pounds and U.S. dollars.

 

As a Chinese player living overseas, Lin Yi Yang burst onto the scene just last year, making a name for himself in various international tournaments. He not only played snooker but also participated in nine-ball and eight-ball competitions, as long as they didn't clash with his snooker schedule, which was a rarity in the sport.

 

It's not uncommon for some nine-ball players to also compete in eight-ball, but it's exceedingly rare to see someone like Lin Yi Yang who dominates in all three disciplines.

 

When a skilled player goes through a rough patch, a more appropriate term would be a "hibernation period," as there's usually a resurgence after a fall.

 

He never let go of his cue stick for over a decade, braving through all kinds of weather and illnesses, always accompanied by a pool table. He may have stayed hidden for a while but never abandoned what he cherished his whole life.

 

***

 

On another flight...

 

The gentle hum of the engine filled the air in the dimly lit cabin.

 

Most passengers were sound asleep, except for a few who were still engrossed in their movies.

 

Lin Yi Yang emerged from the bathroom and quietly made his way back to his seat.

 

Sun Yao, the bulky guy sitting next to him, had dozed off but stirred awake as Lin Yi Yang settled back into his seat.

 

Sun Yao hugged his blanket and lazily leaned against Lin Yi Yang, "Sister-in-law must be coming to pick you up, right? The last time I saw her was at the open tournament; I almost forgot what she looked like."

 

"I'm not sure if she'll make it," Lin Yi Yang replied.

 

He and Yin Guo hadn't had a chance to talk before boarding the plane, as Yin Guo was still competing.

 

Lin Yi Yang put on his headphones, scrolling through the options and settling on an old arthouse film. As the opening credits rolled, clean guitar strings were plucked, and drums provided a soft background beat. The gentle strumming of the guitar gradually grew louder, filling the cabin with its sound as if it had captured the very essence of the sky and the clouds outside the window.

 

In the past year, there were several instances when Yin Guo fell ill but didn't disclose it to Lin Yi Yang. Once, he had a high fever that persisted for three days, yet he still kept to their scheduled video chat time without letting on about his condition. There was also a time when he competed while unwell, a fact that Wu Wei had learned from someone in the northern city. When she asked about it, her first reaction was to offer comfort, nervously saying, "Before I met you, I used to suffer through sickness all alone. Just take your medicine and rest, and you'll feel better soon."

 

Eventually, she whispered some sweet words and expressed how much she missed him, but during their video call, he looked almost unreal, and she had almost forgotten what he looked like in person.

 

They had maintained a platonic relationship for 362 days, communicating through text and voice messages and keeping up with video calls. Yet, they had only met twice—once before and once after their respective birthdays.

 

On Yin Guo's birthday, she had plans to celebrate with her family, but Lin Yi Yang surprised her with a lie that they were going to celebrate with their college classmates and rushed to the hotel where he was staying.

 

It was their first time seeing each other since they separated in the United States. They missed each other so much that they were overcome with impulsiveness, but unfortunately, she happened to be busy. That day, the pain of longing from being apart for so long made them seem more like long-time online lovers as they struggled to understand each other.

 

At first, they were both a bit awkward and didn't know what to say. They sat apart, one on the sofa and the other at the desk, chatting about various topics, almost delving into discussing the complex US-China relationship as seen in the news.

 

In the end, they couldn't even remember how it happened, but they found themselves wrapped in each other's embrace.

 

It all felt so strange and unfamiliar, like holding someone they had just met. On that day, they did everything they could to please each other, as if to prove, "I still love you," and desperately convincing themselves, "you still love me too."

 

Despite the passing of time and the presence of countless attractive people around them, they remained devoted to each other.

 

That night, Yin Guo played with the callus on Lin Yi Yang's palm, saying they should plan a better time to meet next time; otherwise, it would be a waste to come all this way for nothing. Lin Yi Yang couldn't help but laugh, feeling lucky to have such a treasure.

 

Later, on Lin Yi Yang's birthday, Yin Guo was supposed to be in Singapore for a competition. But she surprised him by flying from Singapore to Washington, D.C., right after the competition ended, without taking a minute to rest, just to see him.

 

The two of them didn't venture out anywhere. They stayed in Lin Yi Yang's apartment for two full days, and aside from a trip to the supermarket, they cooked all their meals themselves. Those two days were wild; they made love on the bed, on the bookshelf, and even on the windowsill. Later, the room was in chaos, with the sheets beyond recognition. Yin Guo, feeling responsible, hand-washed the sheets and even carefully laundered Lin Yi Yang's dirty clothes, then had him take them to the laundry room for machine drying.

 

As Yin Guo prepared to leave Lin Yi Yang's apartment and head to the airport, she wanted to make him something to eat. So, she asked him what he wanted for dinner, to which he replied, "Tomato braised noodles."

 

On the day of her departure, Yin Guo was determined to prepare the dish that Lin Yi Yang had requested, even though she had never tasted it before. She knew it was a dish popular during times of scarcity in Lin Yi Yang's parents' generation. She spent a lot of time figuring out how to make it and eventually succeeded in preparing the dish with the tomato-based sauce covering the thin Italian noodles. She then fed him several mouthfuls, delighted to see him enjoy it.

 

Before leaving, Yin Guo took one last look around the apartment and reluctantly took Lin Yi Yang's white T-shirt as a keepsake. She then left him with a new black T-shirt with the same letter design, a small token of their love and commitment to each other.

 

After Yin Guo left, Lin Yi Yang noticed that she had only cleaned the bedsheet, leaving the duvet cover and pillowcases in disarray.

 

He debated whether or not to wash them but ultimately decided against it, as he wanted to keep her scent on them.

 

***

 

When Yin Guo and Lin Lin arrived, they were the first to do so.

 

Around 11 o'clock, Wu Wei rushed to the airport with Chen Anan and Fan Wen, with Wu Wei driving. About half an hour later, Jiang Yang's plane landed, and he joined the group. The former brothers, now occupying various roles within the sports club, including coach, leader, and renowned athlete, reunited in Terminal 3 on this late night.

 

Among this group, Yin Guo stood out as the youngest.

 

As they chatted, Wu Wei noticed that she might feel left out and decided to sit next to her, following Jiang Yang's instructions. He kept her company and started talking about random topics.

 

However, after a while, Wu Wei coughed twice and asked, "Does your family know about Lin Yi Yang?" Yin Guo shook her head, looking worried.

 

Meng Xiaodong advised her not to mention Lin Yi Yang's existence until he returned to China and to avoid causing trouble beforehand. He suggested waiting for a suitable opportunity and then personally intervening and even involving her father to intercede for Lin Yi Yang.

 

"You know, don't you? Your mother was a referee and a leader of the association back then,"

 

Yin Guo nodded, "Yeah, I know that. Mr. He had a disagreement with him and my mom. If it weren't for Mr. He, Lin Yi Yang would have been banned from the game for over six months."

 

Wu Wei was surprised, "Really?"

 

She was also surprised, "Don't you know?"

 

"I have no idea," she replied. How could a dispute between two influential figures in the association and sports community be known to young athletes like them?

 

Yin Guo pondered and realized that even her cousin had only heard about it from her, and she had heard it from her parents while chatting.

 

Recently, Lin Yi Yang's comeback has been a hot topic among his family, and Yin Guo's father, who used to work in sports before venturing into business, often mentioned him. But the things he said about Lin Yi Yang would make Yin Guo think he was a man without principles - arrogant, conceited, obsessed with money, and lacking sportsmanship and competitive spirit if she didn't know him personally.

 

"He's in a tough situation,"

 

Wu Wei let out a heavy sigh and expressed his sympathy toward Lin Yi Yang's challenging situation.

 

Indeed, Lin Yi Yang faced multiple difficulties, including winning approval from Yin Guo's family despite giving his all in their relationship. Furthermore, Yin Guo's mother's career advancement in the Sports Bureau limited her ability to support Lin Yi Yang's career in China. It was a tough situation that required careful consideration and planning.

 

Yin Guo herself understood the situation quite well. She suspected that Lin Yi Yang had been competing overseas for a year to avoid direct conflict until he achieved substantial results and capital. However, Yin Guo also knew her parents well and understood that good results alone would not be sufficient to earn their approval. Even with her own impressive track record of winning medals in public competitions, she did not receive much recognition at home.

 

The topic of Lin Yi Yang was one that Yin Guo and Wu Wei had never discussed before.

 

She didn't want to add more pressure on Lin Yi Yang by bringing up the topic and thought it could be addressed later.

 

As the time ticked past three in the morning, they anxiously waited for Jiang Yang's delayed flight to land.

 

Finally, after more than ten minutes of waiting, the plane landed, and everyone rushed to the exit.

 

Despite the late hour, a small group of people was still waiting outside the airport. They stood in a neat row behind the silver fence, eagerly anticipating the arrival of their loved ones. Yin Guo positioned herself at the best angle where she could see the customs security scanner and the luggage conveyor belt in the distance, hoping to catch a glimpse of Jiang Yang as soon as possible.

 

As more people came out of the exit, Yin Guo's eyes scanned the crowd, trying to find a familiar face. The traveler looked tired and in a hurry, but suddenly, she saw him.

 

Lin Yi Yang was easy to spot with his tall frame towering over the others. He wore a black hat, a black casual top, and carried his sports backpack while pushing a luggage cart full of suitcases. Every piece of luggage had scratches and multiple tags, like a physical representation of the countless competitions he had participated in over the past year.

 

As he saw Yin Guo, he slowed down, and his eyes lit up with a familiar glow.

 

All of his brothers were here, and her too.

 

As she stood leaning on the railing, Yin Guo's eyes were fixed on Lin Yi Yang. Amid the sea of faces, he was the only one who mattered. Her long hair cascaded down her back, and she wore a pink-colored hooded sweatshirt that complemented her pale complexion. Though tears welled up in her eyes, her lips were curved in a smile.

 

"Look at her; she's acting like his wife after being through a setback," Fan Wencong couldn't help but whisper to Chen An'an, "Is she trying to win him over completely?"

 

To Fan Wencong's snide remark, Chen Anan gave a fierce glare.

 

"She can't hear me." Fan Wencong whispered

 

Yin Guo wiped away the tears streaming down her face with the back of her hand. Leaning on the railing in front of her chest, she waved at Lin Yi Yang as he walked towards her, his tall figure standing out among the crowd. As he approached, he reached across the railing and wiped away her tears.

 

For a long time, the two of them stood there looking at each other in silence as if time had stopped.

Then, breaking the silence, Lin Yi Yang asked her with a smile, "Has anyone been pursuing you lately? Tell me about it." He spoke softly but loud enough for everyone to hear.

 

The group behind Yin Guo erupted in laughter, as it was just like old times.

 

Yin Guo responded with a playful tone, "Hmm, let me think... No one has been pursuing me recently. I just don't remember what they look like. No one is as handsome as you are." She exaggerated the last part.

 

Lin Yi Yang chuckled and asked, "Do you only like me for my handsome face?"

 

Yin Guo replied with a playful "Mm-hmm," gazing deeply into his eyes. Her tears started to flow uncontrollably, but she couldn't contain her happiness. Seeing her crying while smiling, Lin Yi Yang's heart swelled with emotion, and he embraced her tightly across the railing.

Previous Chapter
Vote button
Next Chapter

Small Title

Comments
Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
New Stories You May Like

Manhwa Similar to Lookism

Imagine waking up one day and suddenly you're hot stuff. Like, seriously good-looking. That's what happens to Daniel, a lonely guy who's never been popular and has always been a target of bullying. Now he's got this new body and a chance to finally live the life he's always dreamed of. Daniel has to figure out how to navigate this new world of popularity and good looks while keeping his old life hidden. How far will he go to protect his new body... and his secrets? If you are looking for a manhwa similar to lookism, you are in the right reading list.

Books Similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses

We have this young huntress named Feyre who's just trying to survive. She kills a wolf in the woods, thinking it's just another day on the job. But then this scary creature shows up and demands payback. Feyre's been dragged off to a magical land straight out of fairy tales, and her captor isn't a monster. He's a faerie, one of those immortal beings that used to rule her world. At least it's not the Beast with speaking Candelabra and Tea Cups. Anyway, Feyre starts to get used to this new world, and things get complicated. She starts falling for the faerie, Tamlin, even though she's always been taught to hate his kind. But something's off in this magical land- there's a darkness looming. Feyre realizes she's the only one who can stop it. If she doesn't, Tamlin and his entire world are doomed. So if you are looking for books similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses, we got you.

bottom of page