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“Be careful, okay?” Yuezheng Longya presented the expensive sports car to her, exactly as she wanted it – fast, noisy, and a stylish red. The sleek body had room for two seats and the arrangement of the narrow headlights and the wide grille looked like a frown. Ling looked at her brother, his eyes facing at her, his lips arranged in contemplation.

“You know I have my license. I’ll be fine,” she replied.

“I know, but if you’re too reckless...”

“...There will be a car jam, which will make people late to work, I’ll get fined and put in jail, people will get injured or die, and I might get injured or die. I get it,” she finished the sentence, sighing as she did so, raising her arm up for emphasis.

Her brother smiled. “Just checking. You’re an adult now, but don’t forget: we all need a time to be carefree and depend on others. Happy birthday, Ling.” There was a slight glint of tears in his eyes; he hugged Ling and she felt his body shaking.

When Ling heard Longya say those words, she knew he had finally relinquished some of his overprotectiveness. He wouldn’t burst into her bedroom to wake her up early and wouldn’t nag her about her responsibilities every weekday.

Often, Ling retorted with a thrown pillow or a fiery retort, but at the end of the day, after they practiced music with their friends, ate dinner with their family, listened to the other’s grievances about work or school, and celebrated individual and mutual triumphs, there were no hard feelings. Without each other, they couldn’t challenge themselves to be the best they could be, for the other’s sake…they were brother and sister, after all.

“When am I not carefree?” she said, hugging him back, her tone lowering. "Thank you for everything you've done for me. And, if the company gets too stressful, you can depend on me too, okay?”