It has always been a dream for any young person who grew up in the city to continue living in the countryside. Maybe not everyone, but for Yangyang, it is.
Yangyang is a simple young man who delivers bread for a living. He is an orphan, and the only relative he knows has passed away and only left him a small cottage house in the countryside next to a berm.
Every morning he gets to wake up with the first view in his bedside window is the beautiful, evergreen garden of his aunt, filled with blooming flowers and fresh fruits that he picks for breakfast as he readies himself to work.
He hops on his bike with a cute hand-crafted basket. After kicking the kickstand, he starts pedaling onto the earthy path towards the small village.
A small bakery in a small village is where Yangyang goes to work, delivering daily bread to the houses. The owner and baker is a young kind man, named Kun, who lives with his brother, Sicheng. The two brothers continue to run the bakery ever since their father passed away a few years ago.
The two consider Yangyang as their third brother as they have gotten close through the years that Yangyang has lived in the house his aunt left for him.
In the afternoon, after delivering all of the bread to all of the houses, Yangyang stops by a nearby small library to read and look for books about gardening, flowers, and vegetation. The owner, Guanheng, is always delighted to have the young lad stopping by.
Before dawn, Yangyang bikes to Kun and Sicheng’s bakery to buy dinner rolls as his dinner and then bikes back to his cottage.
That is another normal, successful, and simple day.
One morning, when he glanced at the window on his bedside that is facing the garden, something there surprised him. He noticed a small white animal. He thought that it might be a rabbit or a guinea pig because of its size and the fur/hair, but the tail is pointed like a fox’s.
What could that be? Yangyang asks himself as he squints his eyes, but the creature suddenly hopped (or ran?) away.
On the next morning, he saw the creature again, but its ears. That confirms Yangyang’s hypothesis about the creature being a fox. But then before he could even stand from his bed, the creature was gone again.
In the afternoon, after he has finished delivering, he goes to the small library, asking and looking for books about forest animals (small animals, more particularly). Guanheng is stunned at first as this is the first instance the young lad is looking for books about a different topic. He helped Yangyang read and understand some information from the books.
Through reading at least five books about forest animals, Yangyang truly believes that the white creature he saw is a fox. But there is one detail that he has read that he asked Guanheng for clarification.
“A white fox in the forest? Here? White foxes can only be seen in the Arctic regions, usually in tundras or mountains near the sea. Are you really sure that what you saw is a white fox?”
Now, Yangyang feels unsure but still stands by his hypothesis.
The next morning, he did not see the white creature (white fox), and because it is a Sunday and it's his day off, he tends to the garden and does gardening tasks. By the afternoon, he rides his bike to visit the library again, reading more books about foxes and rabbits.
When he got back home, right before dusk, he swore he saw a person standing by the apple tree. The person alarmingly turned in his direction because of the crunch sound of the wheel on the dried grass. The person was about to run, but Yangyang called out.
"I will not hurt you! I just want to know what you were doing in my garden?"
"This...this is your garden?" The person slowly turns to him again with a confused and innocent expression.
"Yes—well, technically, it was my aunt's, but she passed away, and she left it for me."
Yangyang has just noticed that the person is wearing patterned pants with green lines on the side, a white shirt underneath a blue but green but not blue-green colored sweater, and a pair of white sandals. And he also has a black and white braided headpiece on his forehead, which compliments his two-toned hair; blonde white underneath and raven black on top.
It did not faze him. It surprised him to see someone in this region in the countryside, dressed in beautifully but simply-colored clothes.
"She—Your aunt has…" the person’s voice sounded so gentle but was also sad on hearing the news.
Yangyang blinks, then slowly nods.
"So, that is why I haven't seen her for a while now, and I've been seeing you instead.”
"Umm, you...you know my aunt? Wait, who exactly are you?"
The person walks forward and offers his hand with a shy smile. "My name is Renjun. And yes, I know your aunt. She's a very kind and lovely lady that lets me visit the garden anytime and lets me stay in some seasons."
Yangyang couldn't help but lift a brow as he had a feeling of suspicion towards 'Renjun'. Well, in all fairness, he hasn’t had a chance to know his aunt or anything about her other than what he sees in the photos and stories from the people in the village. So, who could he be to judge this person, Renjun, that is claiming to know his aunt?
He was pulled out from his thoughts.
"Are you her nephew?" Renjun asks, hand still waiting for Yangyang’s.
"Ah...yes, I am. My name's Yangyang."
He reaches for Renjun’s hand and accepts the brief handshake.
Renjun beams at him saying his name. "That is a very beautiful name. Yangyang," he repeated, then beamed again with a small chuckle. "Anyways, I think I've overstayed. I should be going. It's nice meeting you, Yangyang," he bids.
He was about to pull his hand from the handshake as he turned around, but Yangyang held his hand, halting him.
The lad didn't say anything at first, simply got his words lost like his eyes on the person in front of him.
"Oh...ah...so—sorry," Yangyang muttered, still holding Renjun’s hand. "Ahh, would you like to stay for supper? I—I mean only if you haven't had supper or if you really have to go...ah...."
He is very much a stuttering mess all of a sudden. Renjun, as surprised as he is at the sudden shyness and question, softly smiles and chuckles.
"Sure. I would love to stay for supper."
Renjun has been very delighted eating the raisin bonnets, letting out happy reactions in every bite.
"Goodness me, what is this? This is so delicious! The little grapes are splendid! Wait, are they grapes? They sort of resemble those fruits in your aunt's garden that can be made into a drink when they are still green."
"You’re correct. They are grapes, it's just that they were dried."
"Dried? How are these dried? They're very juicy."
"Well, you're eating them in a baked good, so they are not dry anymore because they have absorbed some of the moisture in the bread while being baked.”
"Oohhh…." Renjun mouth forms an ‘o’ with an amused expression of a child learning fun facts.
After eating three more raisin bonnets, the guest is full and very happy to eat such good pastry for the first time after a long while. Yangyang can't help but grin as he cleans up the plates and covers the basket of bonnets with the blue checkered cloth.
"Oh, let me help," Renjun stands (more like jump) up from the wooden table chair.
"You're a guest," Yangyang kindly says as he stretches his arm away from Renjun’s reach on the plates he is holding. "Rest for a bit, and then I'll walk you to your home."
Renjun’s eyes are wide as he is pulled back into reality.
He wants to decline the kind offer and simply walk himself out when Yangyang finishes, but there is a voice in his head that says he can trust him. Because he sees the kindness and pureness in the aura and smile of Yangyang that resembles the one he saw before.
With a nervous but light heart, he smiled kindly and accepted the offer.
Yangyang and Renjun walk to the small forest a few walks down the small field beside the fruit garden. Yangyang brought a flashlight for him and Renjun.
A funny and cute scenario happened is that Renjun doesn’t know how to turn it on, which is why he was startled when Yangyang pressed the button and a stream of yellow light came out. He dropped the flashlight and jumped behind Yangyang to hide.
Yangyang finds it cute that he can not deny that he might have felt something fluttering in his stomach and a blush forming on his cheeks as his smile widens in adoration.
They continue their walk. Yangyang is holding his flashlight, carrying the other flashlight under his shoulder as Renjun holds on his free arm, still a bit wary of the flashlights. Once they step into the forest, fireflies from the trees and grass beds emerge and light up the moonlit forest.
It took Yangyang’s breath away.
When they arrived at the lake, Renjun halted, turning toYangyang.
“We have arrived. Thank you for walking me here.”
“Arrived..? This, this is your home?” Yangyang points at the lake, glistening under the open area above where the moon is sitting fully in the middle.
“Yes,'' Renjun started to get nervous as he sensed the suspicion and confused feeling in Yangyang’s voice. But on one note, he does not feel fear or the gut feeling to run from the human, though. “This is my home,” he says, gesturing his palm on the lake and then raising his arm to the whole forest.
“It’s beautiful,” the human breathes.
“Beautiful? Are you not scared?”
“I don't think there’s anything I should be scared about.”
Renjun softly smiled as those pure, sincere, sure words are the same words he has heard from a kind, lovely lady.
He bids the human a nod of farewell before turning around and starts walking onto the shore of the lake.
The said human bops his head and then turns around, heading back to the cottage. But—
“Would you like to stop by for breakfast tomorrow?” He asks, a bit loud, as he suddenly spun himself around, looking hopeful to the back of the glowing figure on the water.
A good amount of silence fills in until the third beat. Perfectly hitting it with the turn of the white fox to look at him. The white fix smilingly beamed.
“I would love to.”
- - - - -
The next morning, the human and the white fox had breakfast. Yangyang brought Renjun with him to the village to show him the bakery where the bonnets came from and the library too.
Before they leave the cottage. Renjun asks Yangyang if his clothes are okay, or if he should change into something more human.
Yangyang confidently and earnestly answered, “There's nothing wrong with what you’re wearing. You look cute, actually.”
“Cute? What does that word mean?”
“Cute..ah…it's—it’s like a word to use to compliment someone in a—in a friendly way. Like I said you look cute means that I find you pretty…pretty good-looking in in the clothes you’re wearing.”
“You don’t find it bizarre or too vigorously colorful? Especially this headpiece of mine.”
“No,” Yangyang shakes his head. “It’s not bizarre. And the headpiece is very pretty on you.”
Yangyang insisted for Renjun to hop on the back seat of his bike. Renjun is intimidated by the thin metal vehicle that he kindly declines and insists on running alongside the human instead.
“Yes. Run. Would you like to have a race?”
Without waiting for a reply, Renjun shifts into a white fox. The white fox. It was Renjun.
Both a surprise but not so surprising, Yangyang grins in amusement at how fast the white fox runs. He kicks the stand and steps on the pedals.
Yangyang introduces Renjun to Kun and Winwin. The two brothers adore him immediately. And when Kun brings out a tray of freshly baked raisin bonnets, Renjun’s eyes widen in glee, which makes Kun and Sicheng adore him more.
On the other hand, Yangyang is whipped, head-over-heels even by the way he stares at the gleeful and chirpy smile and eyes of the white fox while conversing with Kun about the bonnets.
Kun invited Renjun to stay and watch him make another batch of bread while Sicheng and Yangyang delivered the first batch.
When the two come back, Kun and Renjun have baked a batch of milk buns. Renjun went with a bit of creativity that he made one shaped like a fox.
“Look, this one looks like me!”
“It does,” Yangyang agrees, but his eyes are focused on the one who is holding the bun rather than the bun.
Kun and Winwin are totally on board this ship with mutual knowing grins.
Yangyang then brings Renjun to the small library, where he introduced him to Guanheng.
“Is he a friend?”
“Hmhmm,” Yangyang replies.
Hendery inhales as he shifts his weight to his other leg before crossing his arms on his chest and asks, “you know, the spring flower festival will happen this weekend, there will be a dance, why don't you go there with a partner?”
“A partner? Who would want to come with me as their partner?” Yangyang retorts with a pfft and an eyeroll.
The library owner snorts at him and does the eye roll back to him. “Who is he then?” He nods his head in the direction of the very fascinated person, looking at a picture book about animals.
“Oh, look, this is a fox!” He exclaims like a kid who has discovered something incredible. He vigorously points at the illustration of foxes at the top left corner of the book. “This is me! They drew me on a book!”
Oblivious to his own expression and feelings, Yangyang is simply, completely smitten(-ly falling).
Guanheng can't help but scoff a laugh at him. "Aish, kids these days are so oblivious and in denial of their own emotions, huh?"
"What?" Startled, Yangyang quickly turns at the library owner with a panicked and confused expression.
"You ask me who would ever want to be your partner for the dance, well there's my answer," gesturing his palm up and down at Yangyang.
Still confused and clueless, Guanheng sighs before giving in the answer.
"Dear, no one looks at their friend like the way you do to him."
And that is the moment, Yangyang knows that there is indeed no question that Guanheng does not know the answer to.
- - - - -
Spring flower festival
Renjun agrees to ride at the pillion since the town is pretty far for a run. As cliche and cheesy as this may sound, he did end up wrapping his arms tightly around Yangyang. It was mainly for safety, but it might be a danger to Yangyang's heart.
They meet up with Kun and Sicheng at the town center where the festival takes place. Renjun and Yangyang dance along with the kids and people in the circle, are very happy and seem to enjoy jumping and spinning along to the music. The two brothers and Guanheng are very much onboard the ship.
On their way home, they rode the bike again, and then when they reached the earthy path, they decided to walk.
"Did you have fun?"
"Yes! Wow, I never knew human festivals were as beautiful and joyous as fairies festivals. That was my first human festival, actually."
"Hm, I'm glad to know you had fun. Next season there will be another festival to celebrate the pumpkin harvest season. Would you like to come with me to that festival?"
Renjun giggles sweetly. "That is still a long time from now, and yet you're asking me already. Of course, I would love to. You're very fun to be with," his voice softens on saying that while glancing at the human who is already looking at him.
Yangyang blushes and smiles.
He walked Renjun again to the lake.
"This is my stop. Thank you for walking me again and for everything today. It's been the most fun I've ever had."
"Welcome. Me too."
The young lad is very much smitten and whipped to the fairy at this point.
Renjun takes a long stride towards the human, their faces a few inches apart. He closes it as he leaned to place a gently sweet kiss on Yangyang's forehead.
"Good night, Yangyang."
"Good night to you too, Renjun."
The white fox slowly retreats and turns towards the lake. In every step he takes, the more he submerges into the glistening waters. Yangyang watches, mesmerized at how beautiful the fairy is, may it be under the moonlight or with the beaming sun.
Oh, he has truly fallen hard in love.