“Xiao An is over there.” The director of the orphanage pointed at a child crouching in the corner of the room.
“Can we enter?” Sheng Jiaoyang looked at the tiny figure, slightly anxious.
Sheng Jiaoyang immediately entered the room, causing many of the children to look up and stare at her curiously. She tried to make her face seem as gentle as possible as she walked to the corner.
“Xiao An!” she crouched down and called gently.
The child with his face buried in his arms slowly raised his head and looked at her, the guardedness in his eyes slowly disappearing.
“Do you still remember me?” Sheng Jiaoyang reached out to gently stroke his head. He shrunk down but didn’t evade her touch.
Xiao An didn’t nod or shake his head. He just sat there and stared at her.
A smile appeared on Sheng Jiaoyang’s face as she spoke gently, “Xiao An definitely remembers me, right? In the little while that I haven’t seen you, Xiao An has become even more handsome! Xiao An, want to go out and play with me?”
Xiao An looked at her outstretched hand and hesitated before resting his little hand, covered with frostbite, on top of hers. Whether it was before or now, Sheng Jiaoyang had never done housework, so her hands were both white and soft. There was such a big contrast between hers and his dark, dry hands, that Xiao An clearly noticed. He wanted to pull his hands away, but she didn’t let him, gripping onto his tightly.
“Let’s go, little cutie Xiao An~” Sheng Jiaoyang winked at him, easily reducing his nervousness.
Shen Zhining stood beside them and watched her silently, taking in her gentle actions.
Sheng Jiaoyang stood up and saw Shen Zhining behind her. “Xiao An, do you still remember him?”
Xiao An raised his head and looked at Shen Zhining, nodding before looking down.
Sheng Jiaoyang rubbed his head and praised him. “Xiao An’s memory is so good!”
Xiao An lowered his head and didn’t speak.
Sheng Jiaoyang and Shen Zhining exchanged a glance as they led Xiao An towards the orphanage’s director.
“Sister An Qi, are they Xiao An’s parents?” a little girl playing on the playground asked another girl a bit older than her.
“Then, when will our parents come and pick us up?”
“I don’t know.”
Sheng Jiaoyang and the others were all in earshot of the two girl’s conversation. Sheng Jiaoyang’s footsteps paused as she turned to glance back at the kids, her mood heavy. Who knew how many abandoned kids were like this? However, compared to the other kids, she felt more responsible and emotional towards Xiao An since they’d met earlier.
After they’d exchanged farewells with the director, Sheng Jiaoyang and Shen Zhining brought Xiao An to the car and drove to the zoo.
The fastest way to open up a child’s heart, apart from a theme park, would be to go to the zoo. All sorts of animals, big and small, wandered around as squeals of excitement and curious questions could be heard from the other children.
Compared to the other kids, Xiao An was much quieter. As he was pulled along by Sheng Jiaoyang, not a single peep escaped his throat. He just took a few extra glances if he saw any animals he particularly liked. If it wasn’t for Sheng Jiaoyang always taking note of his expressions, she wouldn’t even know what animals he liked.
Sheng Jiaoyang grew worried upon seeing him so shut-off and reserved. She couldn’t help but glance at Shen Zhining. Back then, it had taken a long time for him to recover.
“What?” Shen Zhining inquired.
Sheng Jiaoyang glanced at Xiao An staring at the penguins, and to make sure he didn’t hear her, she whispered into Shen Zhining’s ear, “Xiao An seems a bit shut-off.”
Shen Zhining glanced at Xiao An and nodded.
“If he keeps staying in an environment like the orphanage, I’m worried that he’ll become more and more shut-off. I want to take him out, but, you know, my grandfather’s old and doesn’t have the energy to look after him. I’m also busy and don’t have much time, while my mother’s about to get married. It won’t be good to have Xiao An disturb them. Zhining, do you have any ideas?” Sheng Jiaoyang looked at him expectantly.
Shen Zhining pondered for a moment. “Felix and Lilith still don’t have a child, so we could give Xiao An to them to raise?”
Sheng Jiaoyang’s eyes lit up. She knew Felix and Lilith. Both of them were patient, and although Felix was rather old-fashioned, he was very careful. Lilith had a medical certification and was very cheerful; letting them raise Xiao An definitely wasn’t a bad choice.
“But, they don’t want a child. Will they agree to help us raise Xiao An?” She was a bit worried.
Shen Zhining wasn’t worried at all as he said confidently, “It’s just a bit more work. I’ll give them a raise.”
Sheng Jiaoyang couldn’t help but giggle as she turned to look at Xiao An, finding that Xiao An was also looking at them.
She crouched down and pulled Xiao An in front of her, directly asking him, “Xiao An, do you want to go home with us? Later, our home will be your home, and we’ll be your family. Are you willing?”
Xiao An stared at her before turning to look at Shen Zhining, suddenly opening his mouth to say, “The others said that only our parents would be willing to bring us home.”
Sheng Jiaoyang was startled for a moment before lifting a hand to rumple Xiao An’s hair, nodding in reply. “If you’re willing, you can take us to become your new parents.”
Xiao An quietly looked at them and didn’t say anything, a deep emotion in his eyes that even a grown-up couldn’t discern.
Sheng Jiaoyang sighed and reached out to hug Xiao An, gently patting his back. “Xiao An, although your parents have left, they really wish for you to be happy every day. You have to be strong and optimistic.”
“It’s fate that we ran into you. Xiao An, I truly want to take care of you. Do you want to return home with me?” she asked softly.
Xiao An still didn’t say anything. Just as Sheng Jiaoyang thought that he was about to refuse, he reached out to hug Sheng Jiaoyang’s neck, calling out with his tiny voice, “Mum.”
This was the first time somebody had ever called her ‘mum’, so Sheng Jiaoyang still wasn’t accustomed to it. However, what this child, who’d seen his mother’s tragic death with his own eyes and having his father die from illness shortly after, needed the most right now, was gentle, loving care. She felt her heart melt as she plopped a big kiss on Xiao An’s little face and hugged him tight.
“Come on, let’s go home!”
Shen Zhining reached out. “I can carry him.”
Sheng Jiaoyang hesitated as she looked at Xiao An and asked, “Can he carry you?”
Shen Zhining also looked at Xiao An, directly saying, “You’re too heavy, your… mum’s arms will get sore.” He was obviously just as unaccustomed to her new identity as a ‘mum’.
Sheng Jiaoyang heard his words and frowned. Who spoke like that to a child? How could you just say that he was heavy?
Xiao An hesitated before extending his arms towards Shen Zhining, who naturally picked him up.
From an outsider’s perspective, they really did seem like a family of three.
After getting in the car, Sheng Jiaoyang said to Shen Zhining, “Zhining, should we go back to the orphanage to fill out the forms?”
“I’ll have somebody arrange that,” Shen Zhining said.
Sheng Jiaoyang nodded, not doubting the efficiency of Shen Zhining’s subordinate’s in the slightest as she patted the child between them, who’d been listening the entire time. She smiled as she said, “Let’s go buy our new little cutie some clothes and daily necessities before we go home.”
“Come on, little cutie, give me a kiss?” She showed him her cheek.
Xiao An leaned forward and plopped a little kiss on her fair cheek.
Shen Zhining’s face softened as he watched them interact. She’d definitely be a good mother.
When they got to the mall and entered a children’s centre, Sheng Jiaoyang’s crazy shopping mode was turned on. Not only did she buy Xiao An ten outfits from head to toe, but she also bought all kinds of toys and daily necessities, even powdered milk and baby bottles.
In the end, Shen Zhining paid for everything.
In the evening, they went to a nearby restaurant to eat again. By the time they got home, it was already ten.
When they entered the door, they found that Grandfather Yang still hadn’t gone to bed. He was playing chess with An Jing.
Hearing their entry, Grandfather Yang turned his head and saw Sheng Jiaoyang together with Shen Zhining, as well as…. When Grandfather Yang saw the child he was holding, he was startled as he asked, “Where’d this child come from?””
“This is our child,” Shen Zhining replied before Sheng Jiaoyang.
“Cough!” Grandfather Yang choked as he stared at them in disbelief. “What did you say? Say it again!”
Sheng Jiaoyang glared at Shen Zhining before hurriedly explaining, “Grandfather, his name is Xiao An. I decided to adopt him.”
Grandfather Yang frowned. “Jiaojiao, your current situation makes it a bad time to adopt a child.”
“Even if I’m not capable, aren’t there you guys too?”
Sheng Jiaoyang looked at Xiao An, who’d fallen asleep in Shen Zhining’s arms, and pointed upstairs. “Zhining, take Xiao An upstairs first and let him sleep in my bed.”
After saying that, she walked over to Grandfather Yang’s side and began to tell the whole story.
Grandfather Yang’s face eased as he listened to the child’s tragic past. He helplessly tapped Sheng Jiaoyang’s forehead, his tone pampering as he said, “You’re still a child yourself, yet you want to adopt him. Just let Xiao Qing adopt him, he can be your little brother. Why would he need to be your son? It’s fine now, but having such a big son, how will you be able to find a boyfriend in the future?”
“Grandfather Yang,” Shen Zhining called as he entered the room, having already put Xiao An to bed.
He looked at Grandfather Yang. Although his tone was the same as ever, it sounded very steady. “She won’t need to find another boyfriend because I still haven’t broken up with her.”
Grandfather Yang looked at Shen Zhining before turning to look at Sheng Jiaoyang, using his stare to ask Sheng Jiaoyang if she was really dating Shen Zhining.
Sheng Jiaoyang turned to ask Shen Zhining, “When did I agree to be with you?”
That’s right, with Grandfather Yang here, her confidence was much higher.
Shen Zhining narrowed his eyes. His lips curving into a strange smile as he slowly said, “We’ve done what should be done and even have a son now. How could we still not be together?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Kiki | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace