When the door opened Xue Yang was surprised that it wasn´t one of the adults in the house, A-Qing was the one who leaned on the door frame, her arms folded and the cats sneaking between her legs to lie down with Xue Yang in the bed. Shuanghua lying on his lap as he purred, Fuxue jumping to snuggle up on the pillow
"What do you want now? I was busy..."
Xue Yang lay down in bed, careful not to crush Fuxue and still caressing Shuanghua. His relationship with A-Qing those months has been limited to living under the same roof, co-existing and trying not to argue for the wellbeing of their parents.
"A-Lan and A-Chen are out, date night"
"And? Should I care?" he doesn't even bother to get up to answer, just close his eyes, listening to the purrs of cats
"I thought we could do something together, I don't know, I´m bored..."
"Are you deaf? Come... I´m bored... I'm sure there's something you like to do. Other than stealing and being an annoying bug"
Xue Yang got up, taking the cat off his chest to look at the girl. He regret it, A-Qing's eyes of a gray so light that it was scary. She's wasn´t angry, but a shiver went down Xue Yang´s back before standing up.
"Okay, okay... What do you want to do? What do the girls these days do?" he raised an eyebrow, a cocky smile on his face. "Talk about boys? About some music group?"
"Thinking better, you're an idiot. I´m leaving..."
A-Qing turned but Xue Yang held her arm, sighing before speaking. He and the girl weren´t best friends, but the least he could do for his new tutors was getting along with their daughter.
"Wait... you win. What?"
He didn´t liked A-Qing's predatory smile, let alone when she held Xue Yang´s arm, dragging him to her room
"Help me with this, " she put a box in his hands. "What's with that face?"
"Do you want me to paint your nails?" the girl nodded, sitting in her bed with her legs crossed
"Sibling bonding or something, I don't know, I'm sure A-Lan and A-Chen would like us to get along..."
Xue Yang couldn't help but think of Dàozháng, how he had spent those months trying to get them to talk, spend time together. A-Qing was only two years smaller; they should have no problem finding things to talk about, but… they didn't have as many points in common. Perhaps it was the fault of how Xue Yang had grown up in the street, or perhaps that they were complete opposites
"Whatever… do I really have to?" A-Qing put the tiny nail polish bottle in his hand. "Are you going to end up with your hand full of paint you know it, right?"
"Edgy Lord doesn't know how to paint his nails?"
"Little blind has forgotten what orphanages are like?"
A-Qing sighed, ripping the bottle out of Xue Yang's hand before also holding his hand, resting it on her leg
"I haven't forgotten, it's only been four years..." Xue Yang could recognize the tension in her voice." But... I don´t know. I like to… distant myself from that, you should try to do the same"
"It´s not so easy little blind..."
She held Xue Yang´s hand carefully before beginning painting his nails and Xue Yang couldn´t help but think that she was right, most of his personality revolved around his past, the barrels he had to raise in order to protect himself. It was part of him, but now it wasn't necessary in this new period of his life, it didn't make sense to defend yourself with nails and teeth when you had a home. But it wasn't that easy.
"I know, " A-Qing moved his hand carefully to paint another nail. "Don't think it was easy for me. Accepting that… that... that they´re really going to take care of you. That they care about you, is weird, you don't believe it, you think you're here out of pity and they're going to get tired of you... of your defenses..."
"Bad orphanage too?", he asked, a smirk on his face. A-Qing didn´t look at him, just frowning
"Horrible. One of those run by nuns. You had to be quiet and not complain... Be... a young good lady..."
"You're not a lady"
"That´s the joke, " A-Qing laughed, squeezing his wrist to shake Xue Yang´s hand for drying the paint. "What´s about you?"
"The staff wasn´t very friendly and helpful… the owner of the orphanage... he was the one who left my hand like this," he moved his fingers slowly, he was still getting used to being able to move his fingers like that. "Some foster homes with... horrible parents... and a lot of time on the street. Nothing weird..."
Xue Yang laughed and A-Qing joined soon after, it seemed that they shared more things than their pasts, it seemed that the two had the same kind of dark humor
"Those ladies were horrible, they warned A-Lan and A-Chen that they were going to regret it, that they were taking a little demon to their house. But here we are, I'm still under their roof... have patience... Dàozháng also grew up in an orphanage. He understands us, you can trust them..."
"There are things they wouldn't understand. His orphanage seemed like a good place..." Xue Yang looked at his hand. A-Qing had painted his fingernails black. "I don't think if Dàozháng found a knife under my pillow it would be funny..."
A-Qing laughed, turning to look for something in the drawers. When she opened her hand, he could see that she was holding a small and old penknife
"When I arrived, I always kept it under the mattress... I'm sure they knew I had it. When they made the bed or cleaned, there wasn´t way they wouldn't find out. But they didn't rush me, they didn't bring it up... and over time I moved the knife to the drawer, kept it like a little memory, but... I don´t know. They were patient with me. They're good people... you can trust them..." she reached out. "Come on, now the other one"
Xue Yang looked at the girl, sighing before taking off his glove and giving her his hand, turning his eyes so he didn’t see his own deformed hand
"Whatever... can we leave the subject? Enough talk for today..."
"I agree, what do you want to do now? Talk about boys? You seemed interested in the subjec-"
Xue Yang grabbed one of the cushions, throwing it to the other girl in the face. A-Qing soon counterattacked, the pillow in her hands as she laughed and the cats fled from the room. They didn't know how much time they spent like this, chasing around the room and laughing. But at some point, A-Qing called for snout, undone buns and agitated breathing
"You give up?"
"No. Want to make muffins?" she smiled again. "I'm starving"
"You know how to make muffins?"
"Once I eat a marijuana brownie, I can bring my experience but I don't think A-Lan and A-Chen like it..."
Xue Yang nodded, pulling the phone out of his pocket and nodding
"I think it's the best option"
Nearly an hour later, with the oven lit and the kitchen full of stains, Xue Yang dropped on the floor, resting his back on one of the kitchen cabins, A-Qing sitting on the countertop, the bowl with the dough on her lap. The girl was eating what was left of it with a fucking big spoon
He opened the family group chat, taking a picture of the girl before sending it, Song Lan's response soon arrived. Clean the kitchen when you're done.
Of course, he didn't have time to say anything to A-Qing before a handful of flour was stamped on his face. Xue Yang began coughing, trying to get the dust off his face as he stood up, looking for something to throw back, but A-Qing dodged the scourer
"What the fuck are you doing!"
"You sent dad a horrible picture, you deserved it, " and she began to laugh
"You're an idiot!" Xue Yang looked for another bag they had used to cook, something to throw at A-Qing, but it was all on her side of the kitchen, so it was he who got another handful of flour in his face
So, in a very logical and natural response on his part, Xue Yang opened the kitchen tap and before thinking, A-Qing had no time to crouch down before being soaked
It was the beginning of a war
They were both soaked. Covered in flour. At some point Xue Yang had opened the fridge and pulled out the few remaining eggs and had a broken one on A-Qing´s head, Xue Yang's hair was white. But they were laughing, A-Qing let out a laugh when Xue Yang held her by the shoulders, using his other hand to mess her hair as she tried to escape
Then they heard something fall on the ground and looked up
Song Lan had dropped the bags, Xiao Xingchén by his side, confused and wrinkling his nose. When they spoke, they did it at the same time
"What the hell happened here?"
"Something is burning"
Xue Yang and A-Qing looked at each other before turning into the oven before looking at each other again. The muffins were burning
Xiao Xingchén laughed and Song Lan took his hands to his head, trying not to scream
That family was a fucking mess