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Fanfiction Lufou Holidays [Honkai Star Rail Fanfic- Jing Yuan x FC] {Chapter 3 of 3 + Bonus Chapter Posted} (1 Viewer)

Joined
30 April 2022
Messages
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9,497
Location
Somewhere on Earth
KS Coins
11,869
Fandom
Ujung
Gender
Female
Pronouns
She/Her
Type of Story: Multi-Chapter
Genre: Romance
Setting: Alternative Universe [Modern Setting]
________________________________________________________________


I won't be able to take you to the airport today, Mooncake.

There wasn't even a single "I'm sorry" in the text message he sent to her. These past few months have been nothing but broken promises and excuses on his part. Xin Yue learned about her boyfriend's cheating the night before her trip to Luofu. Ming Zhu, her best friend, sent Xin Yue a text along with a voice recording of him having sex with Ming Zhu's twin sister in the next room.

While her best friend apologized for the situation, Xin Yue reassured her that it wasn't her fault. Her best friend felt disgusted that her sister decided to have sex with her best friend's boyfriend. Three years of her life were gone because he couldn't keep it in their pants. Xin Yue took a breather and texted him back.

Christmas came early for you this year! I know what you did, and this relationship is over!

With that problem out of the way, Xin Yue sent the text and blocked his number. The last thing she wanted was for him to blow up her phone with angry text messages and voicemails. She's looking forward to spending her vacation with her friends from Luofu. Xin Yue took a deep breath and glanced at the monitor by the gate.

"It's almost time to board," she said.

Throughout the three-and-a-half-hour flight from Yuque to Luofu, Xin Yue spent her time streaming her favorite TV shows she downloaded on her tablet for the flight. For the first time, Xin Yue wasn't heading to her parents' place to spend the holidays. Her mother and step-father are spending their 20th anniversary at a resort. As for her step-siblings, they and their partners were visiting other family members who lived in Luofu.

It felt strange that everyone in their family wanted to spend their holidays differently this year, but it is what it is. The best thing about this is that no one will be alone during the holidays. Each member of the family will be spending time with their loved ones. While Xin Yue was glad to spend time with her friends, she wanted to tell her family the good news she had.

Xin Yue turned off airplane mode on her phone and began texting the family group chat.

Hey everyone! I made it safely to Luofu. First, I want to tell you something important. I'm moving back to Luofu during the first half of the new year! My new position requires me to work at the main headquarters full-time.

She sent the text and placed her phone back into her purse. Xin Yue approached the overhead compartment and grabbed her lilac-colored backpack. The woman followed the other passengers off the plane and into the terminal. While waiting for her luggage at baggage claim, Xin Yue heard a ringing sound from her purse. The woman digs through her purse and takes out the phone. Instead of a text, it's a video call request from an unknown number.

"Who the fuck is this," she muttered under her breath.

Xin Yue ignored the video call and waited patiently. Maybe the unknown number would send her a text message saying who they are. She missed the first video call. The phone rings again. Once again, it's a video chat call from the same number. She ignores the video call again.

"If you're not going to text me, then I'll do it," said Xin Yue.

Xin Yue typed the unknown phone number in and wrote a new text message to them.

Who are you?

Xin Yue sent a text message from an unknown sender. While waiting for her luggage at the baggage claim, she received a text message from an unknown caller.

I didn't know you wanted me to text you, Xin Yue. We've gotten so used to video calls these past few years. Also, I got a new cell phone number :3

The dark-blue-haired woman sighed with relief upon realizing the unknown caller was a friend from university. Even after graduation, she remained in contact with Jing Yuan and their friends. These are the same friends that Xin Yue was spending the holidays with.

I fucking thought that you were a stranger! I'll add your new number to my contacts, Jing Yuan :)

Xin Yue smiled and added the new phone number to her contacts before putting it inside her coat pocket. She approached the baggage carousel and spotted her metallic orange suitcase. She lifted the heavy baggage and placed it on the luggage cart. Her cell phone rings once more. Xin Yue pulled out her phone from her coat pocket. It was from the family group chat, and it was from her step-sister.

Are you being serious, Xin Yue?

Of course, I am being serious, Xiu Mei. I know how the family felt when I decided to leave Luofu for work.

Fair enough. I'm glad that you are coming back home.

Xin Yue used a rideshare app to request a ride from the airport to her homestay location. While she waited, she purchased an oat milk latte and a cinnamon roll from a nearby coffee shop. After a wait of about 20 minutes, her ride arrived. The driver Xin Yue met was a rather talkative person. She was able to have a solid conversation with them for the entire 45-minute ride.

It's already nighttime, and Xin Yue appears at the location of the homestay. The place she was staying for the holidays was in a fancy-looking villa located in Luofu. With her bags at hand, the woman approached the front door and rang the doorbell. She waited patiently for whoever was going to answer the door.

Opening the door was a slightly older woman with light purple hair. She grinned widely and hugged Xin Yue immediately.

"You made it, Xin Yue!" exclaimed the woman.

Xin Yue hugged back and replied, "I know, Baiheng."

"Let me give you the tour of the villa," said Baiheng.

After their brief encounter, Xin Yue followed Bai Heng for the tour. The place where they were staying was huge. Compared to her quaint apartment in Yuque, this place was extremely fancy. Baiheng showed Xin Yue her bedroom, and it was just as fancy-looking.

Baiheng said, "This is your bedroom, Xin Yue. There is also a door that leads to the bathroom. The sinks are located inside of the narrow passageway, while the shower and toilet are in a separate room."

"And we have to share the bathrooms?" asked Xin Yue.

The purple-haired woman replied, "Yes since the other side of the bathroom passageway is another room."

Before Xin Yue returned to her room, a tall, muscular man with long, fluffy white hair appeared from the opposite room. His golden eyes focused on her.

"Hey there, Xin Yue," he said to her.

She replied, "It's nice seeing you, Jing Yuan. We can catch up if you want."

"Sure thing," responded Jing Yuan.

She and Baiheng returned to the bedroom while Jing Yuan entered the room that led to the shower and toilet. Xin Yue wanted to relax and settle in her bedroom. She removed her coat and put it on a hanger. The woman began unpacking her clothes and shoes from her luggage. She hung her clothes on the hangers and placed her shoes at the bottom of the closet.

In the carry-on bag, she took out several wrapped gifts from there. Xin Yue had to bring gifts for her friends to open on Christmas morning. There was an additional gift-wrapped plain green wrapping paper. The other gift is for the White Elephant gift exchange on Christmas Eve. Both women carried the gifts into the living room downstairs.

There's a tall Christmas tree filled with gifts underneath the tree inside the living room. Both women placed the gifts underneath the tree and headed for the kitchen.

"Do you want anything to drink, Xin Yue?" asked Baiheng.

Xin Yue asked, "Did someone buy any hard cider?"

"I bought you and Xiyang two 6-packs of hard cider before arriving at the villa. I'll get you one," her friend replied.

Xin Yue sat on one of the stools by the kitchen while Baiheng looked for a hard cider in the fridge.

Another voice asked, "Can you also get me one, Baiheng?"

The man with short blonde hair tied in a man-bun sat beside Xin Yue at the kitchen booth and stared directly at her.

"It's been a while since I've seen you, Xiyang," said Xin Yue.

Xiyang replied, "Xin Yue, I'm glad I could celebrate with all of you this year."

Baiheng brought out two open bottles of hard cider and gave one to each person. The two chatted and drank until Jing Yuan approached the kitchen. He grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and joined them by the stools.

"How's been life treating you so far, Xiyang?" asked Jing Yuan.

The blonde-haired man replied, "It's been great so far. I have been seeing someone these past six months and we have been doing this long-distance relationship."

"When we’re meeting this lucky lady of yours, Xiyang?" wondered Jing Yuan.

Xiyang said, "She'll be flying from Yuque on the day after Christmas. I will be showing her around Luofu, but we'll be seeing her at the New Year's Eve party at that high-end club."

Xin Yue was surprised to learn that Xiyang's long-distance partner lives in Yuque. Six months ago, her best friend told her about a man she'd been talking to recently online. One of the details she brought up is that the guy she has been seeing is from Luofu. Xin Yue didn't want to jump the gun and assume that the man Ming Zhu was talking to was Jing Yuan's friend and co-worker.

"That's sweet of you to do. She's going to love to see the sights of Luofu," replied Xin Yue.

Baiheng wondered, "Aren't you seeing someone, Xin Yue?"

Xin Yue took a small sip of her hard cider before placing the glass bottle on the booth. Not a single word came out of the dark-haired woman’s mouth. Jing Yuan noticed the uncomfortable expression on his friend's face. He could tell that she was hiding something from them.

The white-haired man changed the subject and asked, "Are we going to go out for dinner or order takeout?"

"Let's do takeout since I think everyone is exhausted from traveling, Jing Yuan," pointed out Xiyang.

Xin Yue responded, "I agree with Xiyang. Plus it's easier for the 5 of us to order food from Delicacy Pavilion."

"So that is you, me, Jing Yuan, Baiheng, and Jingliu right?" assumed the blonde-haired man.

Baiheng replied, "Yep. I'll text Jingliu if she wants us to order in for her."

Jing Yuan and Xin Yue nodded. Baiheng texted the other woman while Xiyang searched Delicacy Pavilion on his phone. He looked up the menu and saw what dishes they had. Nothing has changed about the food they sell. The blonde-haired man wasn't sure if everyone was ordering the same food they enjoyed in their university days.

"It's been a long time since we all ordered from there," said Xiyang.

Xin Yue confirmed, "I want the sweet chili shrimp with the shell and head. That and their pork soup dumplings."

"I'm getting the fried rice with sweet and sour pork ribs and their pork soup dumplings," replied Jing Yuan.

The dark-haired woman asked, "How about bubble tea for drinks if you want?"

"Jingliu said to order her usual from Delicacy Pavilion and also bubble tea from The Sleepless Earl," explained Baiheng.

The white-haired man said, "I will drive to The Sleepless Earl to get the drinks."

"Can I join you, Jing Yuan?" asked Xin Yue.

He replied, "Of course, Xin Yue. Let's get our coats and go downstairs to the car."

Xin Yue and Jing Yuan walked back to the stairs. She saw both Dan Feng and Dang Heng walking downstairs.

"When did you arrive, Xin Yue?" asked Dan Feng.

She replied, "Like 30 minutes ago. We are having takeout for dinner tonight, so please let Baiheng or Xiyang know what you want."

"Is someone going to get bubble tea from The Sleepless Earl?" he asked.

The woman responded, "Text the friends’ group chat for that because Jing Yuan and I are going to The Sleepless Earl now."

Xin Yue headed upstairs to get both her coat and purse. The woman checked her phone for text messages. Aside from her step-sister, there were texts and missed calls from an unknown number. Rather than looking at the text messages, the woman placed her phone inside her coat and picked up her purse.

Outside in the foyer, Jing Yuan opened the door for Jingliu, Blade, Fu Xuan, and Luocha. The four of them were carrying supermarket bags into the kitchen. The blind woman noticed the dark-haired woman by the stairs.

"You made it, Xin Yue," said Jingliu.

Xin Yue replied, "I know and I'm heading out to The Sleepless Earl with Jing Yuan now."

"We can catch up later over dinner," the blind woman responded.


Xin Yue noticed the short, pink-haired woman who was staying with them. She has known Fu Xuan since her sophomore year at university. Both of them were journalism majors who were also part of the university's news publication team. Fu Xuan saw Xin Yue standing right next to the white-haired man.

Xin Xue said, "It's been a while, Fu Xuan."

"It has, and I didn't know you were part of this group of friends," replied Fu Xuan.

She said, "I'll order your favorite tea at The Sleepless Earl. We can talk later."

Xin Yue and Jing Yuan walked out of the villa. There were two parked vans outside. The white-haired man approached the dark blue van. He used the keys to open the driver's side and walked inside. He unlocked the passenger seat door. She opened the door and sat down in the passenger seat. While putting on her seatbelt, her phone rang once more.

Xin Yue didn't say a word and ignored the ringing sound. She picked up the phone and saw an incoming call from the same unknown number. Rather than answering the call, she ended the call without even talking to the person. Jing Yuan could tell that there was something wrong with Xin Yue.

"Are you okay, Xin Yue?" questioned Jing Yuan, showing signs of concern in his tone.

She nodded and solemnly replied, "I'm not okay Jing Yuan."

"Let me see your phone if that’s okay with you," he said.

Xin Yue entered the PIN on her phone and gave her white-haired friend it. The man looked over at the text messages and saw the text messages from the unknown number.

Mooncake, please call me back! I can explain!

Did Ming Zhu tell you?! If she did, I'm going to kill you with my bare hands when you come back from your trip!


Jing Yuan saw the missed calls and voicemails from the same number. He placed his ears on the phone and began listening to voicemails. Just like the text messages he sent, Xin Yue's ex was screaming and cursing the woman out in his rants. The man blocked the unknown number and gave it back to Xin Yue.

"Text your family what is happening because they need to know," he said.

She nodded and went back to the family group chat. Her parents and her step-siblings were asking about her ex-boyfriend. Xin Yue began texting the class chat about the family.

I'm sorry if you've been startled by his angry texts. I broke up with him through text this afternoon. The night before my flight, Ming Zhu told me that he was cheating on me with her twin sister. I blocked his number right before heading for my flight.

She kept her phone in her hands. More text messages popped up. The friends’ group chat messages were nothing but bubble tea orders. Xin Yue made a mental note of what everyone wanted. It’s a lot, but everyone wanted bubble tea from the same place. Tonight was a throwback to how they ate back in uni. Take out for dinner with their favorite bubble tea orders.

Xin Yue took out her credit card and began placing the bubble tea orders on The Sleepless Earl website. She returned to the group chat and started texting.

I ordered everyone’s bubble tea order on The Sleepless Earl website. The drinks are on me! You don’t have to pay me back.

They arrived at The Sleepless Earl ten minutes later. The workers have made four drinks since placing the order. The owner saw the two adults who were waiting for their drinks. He had a wide grin on his face.

"Your friend group knows how to keep our workers constantly busy," stated the shop owner.

Jing Yuan replied, "The Sleepless Earl has always been the best place to get bubble tea."

"This is why we enjoy coming here whenever we get bubble tea," said Xin Yue.

It took the employees 25 minutes to complete the order. In those 25 minutes, Xin Yue and Jing Yuan talked with the shop owner. Both adults grabbed some straws and placed them in the bags. After saying their goodbyes to the owner, Xin Yue and Jing Yuan left the store.

The ride from the bubble tea shop to the villa was easy. As they arrived, Xin Yue smelt the food coming from the kitchen. Everyone was having dinner either at the booths or the dining table. Xin Yue placed the bags of bubble tea on the counters.

"The food from Delicacy Pavilion arrived," said Baiheng.

Xin Yue answered back, "I'll come back to the kitchen! I need to take my stuff back to my room."

She left the kitchen and darted toward the stairs. Xin Yue entered her bedroom. The female placed her purse on the nightstand. Her coat was off her body and inside the closet. She pulled out the phone from the right coat pocket. The boots were off and replaced by a pair of orange fluffy slippers.

Xin Yue returned to the kitchen and saw the two food containers, utensils, and a large, vibrant green-colored bubble tea on the counter. Even from a distance, the woman could smell the sweet chili sauce from a distance. She grabbed whatever was her and sat next to Jing Yuan in the booths. Xin Yue opened the container, which had the pork soup dumplings. She opened the second container, which was the sweet chili shrimp.

"This brings back memories," she said while adding the sweet chili sauce from her shrimp to her soup dumpling.

Jing Yuan replied, "Those late night study sessions over takeout and bubble tea."

Just a tiny bite on the top of the dumpling, Xin Yue waited for it to cool down. She sucked out the broth from inside and took a bigger bite of the dumpling. It's the only way Xin Yue eats them whenever she orders them. Friendly banter and conversations filled the entire kitchen throughout the night. The same group of people that hung out in each other dorms for whatever reason. Study groups, dorm parties, game nights, or even streaming parties.

Moments like these are nostalgic. What will this holiday season bring for this group of friends?


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Author's Notes

The only characters I own from the fanfiction are Xin Yue, the ex-boyfriend who has no name, Ming Zhu, Xiying, and Xiu Mei.

For readers who haven't played the game, it's okay to read this fanfic because you don't need to have knowledge of in-game details for the characters in the story.

For the text messages, I can help distinguish between who is the person texting.

Example: Xin Yue's unamed ex-boyfriend
Example: Xin Yue
Example: Jing Yuan
Example: Xiu Mei (Xin Yue's stepsister)

I will be posting chapters throughout and even after the holiday season (depending how long each chapter may be).
 
Last edited:
Joined
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Location
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KS Coins
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Fandom
Ujung
Gender
Female
Pronouns
She/Her

During the comfy night of takeout, bubble tea, and stories in the kitchen, everyone spoke up about the preparations for the Friendsmas dinner party. That meant doing the last-minute food shopping and shopping for last-minute presents if they didn't buy anything.

To make it fun, everyone drew lots to see what they'd be doing for Christmas Eve. Toothpicks with red ends meant the last-minute shoppers. Those who picked the plain toothpicks are cooking and baking for the next two days. Xin Yue was relieved when she chose the regular, old toothpick.

Cooking in the kitchen wasn't all that bad. Xiyang, Jing Yuan, Luocha, and Danheng have also cooked for the friend group from time to time. Xin Yue had an idea of what she could cook for the dinner. All she needed was the recipe from the one person who knew the recipe by heart.

I know this is last minute, but can you post that red braised pork belly recipe you cooked during the holidays? It's for the Friendsmas dinner party tomorrow.

Sure thing! How many people are staying in the villa? It's just to get an idea of how much of each ingredient you need.

There are 10 of us staying at the villa.

Then you'll need:

  • 6 pounds of pork belly
  • 20 pieces of ginger [thinly sliced]
  • 8 star anise
  • 40 Szechuan peppercorn
  • 6 tablespoons of yellow rock sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 8 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine

Do you need directions on how to make it?

I got a good idea of how to cook the dish. I just needed the ingredients and measurements. Thanks, Mom!

Let me know how the dish turned out and if your friends liked the dish! Bye, Sweetie!

Xin Yue felt confident she'd make a delicious red braised pork belly for her friends. For Christmas Day, it's going to be simple. That's all about opening gifts in the morning and having dinner by the river on a cruise. Everyone called it a night once dinner came to an end. There's a lot to do in such little time.

As she made it to her room upstairs, the woman grabbed her bath towel and some pajamas to change into. Today's been a long and eventful day. Right before she could get into the bathroom, Xin Yue heard the sound of her phone ringing. Throughout the entire day, her phone has been ringing. The last thing she wanted to deal with was her ex and his harassing messages.

Xin Yue glimpsed at the screen, and much to her relief, it was her best friend, Ming Zhu, texting her. But it wasn't a conversation between the two of them. Xiyang was a part of the group chat.

"Well, that confirms my suspicions of who the mysterious Luofu man Ming Zhu is seeing," stated Xin Yue.

I know it's late, but I need your help with something.

Don't worry about it, Precious. I'm all ears.

Same here. You can tell us anything.

Is it okay if I talk about it, Xin Yue?

I don't mind. You have the right to tell the story because you witnessed it.

What's going on, Ming Zhu?

I was coming to Luofu to see you, Xiyang, the day after Christmas. Things have changed, and I don't want to see my family for Christmas. My twin sister slept with Xin Yue's boyfriend the night before her flight. Plus, he's coming to spend Christmas with my family. So, I rescheduled my flight to Luofu for the early morning of Christmas Eve.

I had no idea that your boyfriend was cheating on you, Xin Yue.

Either way, things haven't been working out for the two of us. Someone's gotta call it quits.

Because of this shitty situation, I realize I don't have a place to stay for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I can't check in to my hotel room until the 26th.

I have a better idea. I'll contact the host and ask if I can add you as a guest. Don't worry about any additional payment. If the host agrees, I can cover for you.

You don't deserve to be lonely on Christmas.

Both of you are awesome! Good night!


It's a twist she did not expect, but Xin Yue was excited to spend Christmas with her best friend in the same villa. There's still an explanation about the additional guest, but Xiyang can explain the situation since he booked the reservation. Xin Yue grabbed her pajamas and towel.

"Time to freshen up and get ready for bed," she said.

A warm, soothing shower helped the woman relax a bit before bed. Donning a light orange long-sleeved pajama shirt and matching pajama pants, Xin Yue was ready for bed. She wants to be well-rested before the chaos at the villa begins. The woman hopped into bed and covered her body with the comforter. Xin Yue lets her body relax while she falls into a deep slumber.

After sleeping for 9 hours, Xin Yue woke up feeling refreshed. The woman brought some morning skincare items, haircare items, and a toothbrush to the bathroom. She places her skincare stuff on the sink. Before starting her skincare routine, Xin Yue brushed her teeth by the sink.

Once her mouth was nice and fresh, Xin Yue began washing her face with water before using the cleanser to finish the job. She began applying the toner to refresh her skin and remove the remaining dirt from her face. Xin Yue added a few drops of antioxidant serum to her face and neck. The woman finishes her routine by adding moisturizer and sunscreen to her face.

"You should give me some skincare tips, Xin Yue," said Jing Yuan.

Xin Yue turned her head towards the man standing near her. Just like her, Jing Yuan was the person up. He wasn't the type to wake up this early in the morning. Today's an exception since everyone wants to get everything ready for tonight.

Xin Yue responded, "My morning skin routine is just a cleanser, toner, antioxidant serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen."

"What are you going to prepare the dinner, tonight?" he asked.

She replied, "My mom cooks a delicious red braised pork belly every Christmas Eve and New Year's. This year, I’ll be cooking this dish for all of you to try."

"That sounds delicious," he replied.

Xin Yue picked up a hairbrush and said, "I can't wait to see what you'll be cooking for dinner tonight."

While she focused on her wavy hair, Jing Yuan brushed his teeth. The bathroom encounter was brief, and both adults walked to their rooms while closing the doors behind them. A while later, both of them arrived at the living room. Xiyang was the only one in the kitchen.

"I’m just making some tea. Do you want some?” Xiyang asked.

Jing Yuan responded, "I’ll take a cup of tea."

"Same here," replied Xin Yue while sitting on the booth stool.

The blonde-haired man went back to the cupboard to search for additional cups. Xin Yue wasn’t sure if the people who were going shopping had left or not. The woman began texting the friend group her grocery list.

I’m making red braised pork belly for tonight’s dinner. The ingredients I need are:

6 pounds of pork belly (with the skin on)
Ginger root
Star Anise
Szechuan peppercorn
Yellow rock sugar
A bottle of light soy sauce
A bottle of dark soy sauce
A bottle of Shaoxing Wine


She needs a lot of ingredients to make the pork belly. While she placed her phone on the booth, Xiyang placed a hot cup of tea next to her. He also passed a cup of hot tea to Jing Yuan.

Xin Yue asked, "Did the host respond to your text?"

"I got their response not long ago. They said I could add Ming Zhu as a guest after the check-in date as long as she stays until the check-out date,” replied Xiyang.

Jing Yuan asked, "Who’s Ming Zhu?"

"The woman that I’ve been having a long-distance relationship with," he replied, "she made last-minute plans to fly to Luofu today."

As the trio continued their conversation, more people walked downstairs and saw them talking in the kitchen over tea. Jing Yuan and Xin Yue shared a couple of glances with their friend. Xiyang had to tell the rest of the roommates about the new guest coming into the villa. The conversation can go in two different ways. Either they start sharing their concerns about having another guest in the villa, or they'll be okay with having that person stay with them.

"Is something wrong, Xiyang?" asked Baiheng.

Xiyang took a deep breath and replied, "Ming Zhu, the person with whom I've been having a long-distance relationship texted me last night with the news that she's coming to Luofu today rather than the day after Christmas."

After he mentioned her name, Xin Yue and Jing Yuan could feel the tension. Nobody knew who would be the first to break the awkward silence. The white-haired man turned his eyes to Fu Xuan, whose mouth had dropped open. The pink-haired woman was originally for Yuque until she moved to Luofu for university and work. From the look she has right now, Fu Xuan knows who Ming Zhu is.

Fu Xuan glanced at Jing Yuan and saw his cheeky smirk. She regained composure and shifted her gaze to Xiyang. The pink-haired woman now has a subtle smile on her face.

"I haven't heard that name since my high school graduation," commented Fu Xuan.

Danheng asked, "What kind of person is Ming Zhu, Fu Xuan?"

"A dependable person who enjoys listening to others and having interesting conversations," she responded, "she's a great person to hang out with."

Xiyang nodded and stated, "I sent a text message to the host about adding Ming Zhu as a last-minute guest. They said that's okay with adding a new guest."

"You know that there are additional costs and fees if we add a guest after our check-in date," wondered Luocha.

He responded, "The host told me the same thing. I'll cover those costs and fees."

"Since you invited your girlfriend to stay, she has to help out with the cooking," replied Baiheng.

The blonde-haired man nodded in agreement. His girlfriend was meeting his university friends for the first time. It's a new experience, but they want to welcome Ming Zhu into the villa with open arms. Xiyang wished that everything goes well tonight. Speaking of his girlfriend, he peeked at his phone and saw a text message from her.

I want to let you know that I'm boarding my flight to Luofu now! I'll see you soon!

Cancel your hotel reservation when you arrive in Luofu. I'll pick you up at the airport. See you soon, Precious.


Xiyang placed his phone on the counter before looking over at his friends. It went from tense to energetic in seconds. Some people are figuring out what to eat for breakfast. Everyone wanted to make tonight's Friendsmas dinner party a memorable time. While everyone was chatting it up, Xin Yue stared straight at the mug in her hands. She hasn't touched her tea since she arrived in the kitchen.

Xin Yue was glad her best friend was coming to spend the holidays at the villa. She needed a good distraction after everything that's happened these past two days. The wavy-haired woman took the first sip of her now lukewarm tea. It's a little bitter, but Xin Yue didn't mind it. While she was enjoying her tea, her phone rang. Xin Yue placed her mug on the counter and peeked at her phone. Ming Zhu's twin sister, Ming Yue, was calling her.

"I need to take this call. I'll be back," politely said Xin Yue.

The wavy-haired woman stood up from her stool and walked away. Xin Yue wasn't going to tolerate the constant harassment from anyone. Not from her ex-boyfriend and not from his affair partner. She walked up those stairs and darted straight into her room. Xin Yue locked the door behind her and walked toward her bed. She swiped across her phone to accept the call.

A woman's voice calmly said, "Hello, Xin Yue."

"I don't want to speak with you, Ming Yue," coldly replied Xin Yue.

Ming Yue said, "I wanted to give you a nice early Christmas gift. A small story. You'll love it."

During the conversation, Ming Yue explained in detail how she started her relationship with Xin Yue's ex-boyfriend in mid-June, just before their third anniversary. Xin Yue was devastated.

She shut her eyes, tears slowly formed from the corner of her eyes, and her skin turned pale from the stress. It was too much for her to handle.

"Just stop! I don't want to hear more of this story!" screamed Xin Yue.

Ming Yue said, "I’m getting to the best part. During tonight’s Christmas celebration, we’ll announce our pregnancy to my family.”

Xin Yue ended the call and blocked Ming Yue's number right after. She placed her phone on the nightstand. Grabbing one of the pillows nearby, she screamed and cried loudly into the pillow. The phone call brought nothing but negative emotions. Ever since the news broke out, Xin Yue felt nothing but anxiety and stress because of it.

The lady felt a slight churning sensation in her stomach. Ming Yue's little story, along with the ongoing stress she had, made Xin Yue feel sick. She rushed to the toilet and slammed the door. Xin Yue wasn't sure how long it's been. She could hear a soft knock coming from the other side of the door.

"Xin Yue, is everything alright?" questioned a familiar voice.

Xin Yue heard Jing Yuan's baritone voice. Someone sent him to check on her. She took a deep breath, realizing she needed to talk about it. Xin Yue slowly regained some of her strength to stand up. She flushed the toilet and walked out of the bathroom. Jing Yuan saw the woman's swollen eyes. She must have been crying all that time in the bathroom.

Jing Yuan asked, "Do you want to talk?"

She nodded her head and led Jing Yuan to her room. Both adults sat on the bed and tried to make themselves comfortable. Xin Yue closed her eyes and took another deep breath to calm herself down. These past two days, it's been an emotional rollercoaster.

Xin Yue said, "You already know that I am having relationship problems, but there is more to it."

"Like the phone call you just received." he wondered.

She replied, "Yes. Two nights ago, I found out that my now ex-boyfriend was cheating on me for Ming Zhu's twin sister, Ming Yue. The morning of my flight, I texted him that the relationship was over and blocked his number."

"Then he called you again when we were in the car through an unknown number," responded Jing Yuan.

Xin Yue said, "Yes. Now, Ming Yue called me. She told me about the six-month affair with him and I found out she's pregnant with his child."

Tears welled up in Xin Yue's eyes once again. She shut her eyes tightly. She's trying her best to hold her tears back. Jing Yuan noticed her struggle. The breakup was still recent, and he knew that Xin Yue had been trying to put on a brave face to conceal her emotions for this long.

"Do you need a hug, Xin Yue?" he asked.

She nodded her head yes, signaling that he could hug her. The tall man pulled her into a warm embrace. Jing Yuan rubbed her back gently while he tried to soothe her. She sobbed loudly into his arms. Jing Yuan didn't appreciate it when anyone tried to harm his friends. He wondered if there was something that he or any of their other friends could do to cheer Xin Yue up.

After a few minutes, Xin Yue caught sight of the man who was holding her. She wriggled out of his embrace and returned to her seat. Despite having swollen eyes, Xin Yue felt a sense of relief and smiled softly at the man.

Xin Yue said, "Thank you for listening to me, Jing Yuan,"

"It's not a problem, Xin Yue. We can go downstairs if you want," responded Jing Yuan.

She replied, "Yeah. Plus, I still need to grab something to eat in the kitchen."

Both of them stood up, and Xin Yue picked up her phone. She placed it inside one of her hoodie pockets. Xin Yue unlocked the bedroom door. The two adults walked out of the room and returned to the kitchen. The first thing she noticed was the number of people in the kitchen. Xiyang, Luocha, and Dan Heng were the only ones in the room.

Xin Yue took a seat in one of the booths. Xiyang approached the booth and passed the woman another mug filled with tea. She smiled softly and accepted the mug of tea.

"I saved you a few donuts that I made earlier," said Xiyang.

Xin Yue answered, "I'll try them."

Xiyang brought over the plate of donuts to where the woman was sitting. Xin Yue grabbed on and took a bite out of one of them. Despite not being piping hot, she enjoyed the taste of them. She knew that Xiyang wasn't doing this out of the kindness of his heart. Aside from Jing Yuan, he's the other person who knew about the breakup.

The woman spoke, "Xiyang, I know you were the one who sent Jing Yuan to check up on me."

"How did you know that?" he asked.

Xin Yue explained, "Because you're the first person who notices a problem. I didn't know how to talk about my ex's cheating problem and the breakup."

During those days, Xiyang was one of the four people who'd noticed if someone was having a problem. The other three are Dan Heng, Jingliu, and Luocha. In this case, Xiyang knew that her now ex-boyfriend cheated on her. Xin Yue chuckled a bit before taking another bite of her donut. After finishing up her breakfast, the woman went back to her phone. Instead of scrolling through texts, she was scrolling through directions on how to make tonight's dinner.

She should've texted her mother the steps to making the dish. Preparing a main dish for a holiday meal is a big deal. The dish looked simple to cook, but it's the amount she's cooking. Her mother loves cooking more than enough food during times like this. She hoped that her friends who were shopping could get those ingredients.

"Are we going to take turns with the kitchen when we're cooking?" asked Luocha.

Xin Yue replied, "Yes. I'll cook last because the dish I'm cooking needs to be served once it's done, and it takes time for it to cook."

"I'll use the kitchen first to cook my dish if that's okay with anyone," said Jing Yuan.

Danheng replied, "Then I'll cook after Jing Yuan finishes cooking in the kitchen."

"I'll be the fourth person cooking because I have to leave the villa for a bit," commented Xiyang, "plus I'm baking some desserts."

Luocha said, "Then I'll cook once Danheng finishes up in the kitchen."

It took a while for the first group to return to the villa with grocery bags and other stuff they bought while shopping. There's no specific time when the dinner party is going to start. It's less pressure for those who'll be in the kitchen cooking. The cooking order the other group established worked perfectly. At the same time, it allowed one of them to get dressed up while someone was cooking.

Xiyang left the villa to pick up Ming Zhu while Danheng was in the kitchen, preparing his dish. Jing Yuan was getting ready for the party since he was able to finish cooking his dish. Luocha and Xin Yue spent their time decorating the dining room for the time being. Various scents came from the kitchen while each person took turns cooking.

Xiyang arrived at the villa with Ming Zhu while Luocha was in the kitchen. The Yuque native introduced herself to her boyfriend's university friends before settling into Xiyang's room for a little bit. She spent her time getting herself ready for the dinner party before coming back downstairs. The ladies were chatting it up in the living room once Xiyang's girlfriend returned all dolled up.

Fu Xuan, Ming Zhu, and Xin Yue were recollecting stories they had while they lived in Yuque. The conversation was short-lived. Xin Yue and Ming Zhu noticed Xiyang preparing desserts in the kitchen. That gave Xin Yue an opportunity to take a shower, do her makeup, and get changed.

As she arrived in the bedroom, the wavy-haired woman pulled out a black long-sleeved crew neck top, a cute red and black plaid skirt, black tights, and red suede knee-length boots. It's the perfect outfit to wear for the dinner. The woman took a nice warm shower and changed into her regular clothes. She's going to be in the kitchen for a while.

The kitchen was empty at that point. Xin Yue saw the ingredients she needed for the red braised pork belly. She started to work with the pork belly. 6 pounds of pork belly was a lot to work with. The woman focused on cutting the pork belly into 1.5-inch cubes and placed the cubed meat into a big pot. She filled the pot with cold water, brought it to the stove, and boiled the pork belly on high heat.

Her friends noticed how focused the woman was in the kitchen. They had never seen her work with that many ingredients before.

"Have you done this before, Xin Yue?" asked Dan Feng.

Xin Yue replied, "I like making simple dishes for parties, but I wanted to do something special for change. That's why I asked my mom to give me the recipe for this braised pork belly."

"Doesn't your mom cook huge portions of food during the holiday season," said Ming Zhu.

The woman in the kitchen responded, "Yep and the amount I'm cooking is double."

Xin Yue continued cooking the dish in front of her. Noticing the white froth from the boiling, the woman picked up a skimmer and removed that foam from the surface. She turned off the stove for a bit and carried the pot over the side of the sink. Xin Yue got a large-sized colander and drained half of the pork belly.

"I'm going to need an extra set of hands because I have to cook two pots of meat," said Xin Yue.

Jing Yuan replied, "I'll help you out."

"Add 2 new pots to the stovetop, and leave them there for a bit," stated the woman.

Jing Yuan noticed two clean pots and placed them on the stovetop. The tall man approached Xin Yue and watched her for a bit. He watched her rinsing the meat that was in the colander. Xin Yue set the colander aside and focused on one of the pots. There was a bottle of cooking oil, two different bottles of soy sauce, a bottle of Shaoxing wine, two spice containers, a jar of rock sugar, some garlic bulbs, and a ginger root.

Xin Yue put the stove for one of the pots on medium heat. She waited for the pot to warm up a bit. The woman added cooking oil and 3 tablespoons of yellow rock sugar.

"After you drain the pork belly into the colander, rinse it out the blanched meat. In the new pot, put it in medium heat and wait for it to warm up," explained Xin Yue, "that's when you add the cooking oil and 3 tablespoons of yellow rock sugar."

Jing Yuan asked, "How should the sugar look like?"

"Gold colored. Use the pot to move the sugar around rather than stirring it with a spoon if it ends up clumping together."

Xin Yue was able to turn the sugar into the desired golden color in a short amount of time. She then took the colander and poured the pork belly into a new pot. The woman turned the cubed pork belly around, covering it in the sugar mixture. Jing Yuan noticed the light brown color of the meat. His eyes watched as Xin Yue picked up the bottle of Shaoxing wine.

Xin Yue instructed, "Lightly brown the pork belly, then pour 4 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine into the pot."

She then grabbed both bottles of soy sauce. Xin Yue poured a small amount of light soy sauce and a decent amount of dark sauce. Jing Yuan continued taking note of how the woman was cooking the meat. Xin Yue poured water into the pot, almost covering the pork belly pieces. As Jing Yuan worked on the other portion of pork belly, Xin Yue cut thin slices of ginger and dumped them into the pot.

"Three tablespoons of light soy sauce, four tablespoons of dark soy sauce, and add water to the pot until it almost covers the meat," said the woman, "after that, add 10 pieces of thinly sliced ginger, 4 star anise pieces, and 20 Szechuan peppercorns before covering the pot."

Taking the jars of star anise and peppercorn, Xin Yue added the desired amount to her pot and covered it. The woman adjusted the temperature, bringing it to a simmer. She moved the lid up, making sure the steam was slightly escaping. Jing Yuan followed the steps Xin Yue provided throughout the entire cooking process. She observed Jing Yuan's actions. He followed the woman's instructions to a T from start to finish.

"Keep an eye on both pots for me, Jing Yuan. Add some water if the meat gets a bit dry," said Xin Yue, "I need to get ready."

Jing Yuan replied, "Of course,"

Xin Yue walked out of the kitchen, towards the stairs, and into the bedroom. She took 45 minutes to put on her party clothes and accessories, do her hair, and apply makeup. Xin Yue gave a quick look in the mirror and sent a quick selfie to the family group chat before heading downstairs. It sucked being the last one to get ready, but she prioritized the dish.

Xin Yue headed to the kitchen to check on the braised pork belly. Jing Yuan was the first to notice Xin Yue. There's a good amount of liquid in the pot. The woman took out a chopstick from one of the cabinets. From the first pot, she stabbed a piece of pork belly. The woman took out the piece of meat and chewed on it. The meat was tender and juicy. It's perfect.

Xin Yue repeated the same process for the second pot. Just like the meat from the first pot, it had the same tender, juicy she was expecting. She turned off both pots.

"Is the pork belly ready?" he asked.

She replied, "Yes. We can now bring everyone over to the dining room and serve the main dish."

"I'll help you out," said Jing Yuan.

Xin Yue nodded. The woman searched for the large serving bowl inside one of the larger kitchen cabinets. Jing Yuan helped her by dumping the braised pork belly into the serving bowl. There's more than enough pork belly for everyone to eat. She then looked over at the group in the living room.

Xin Yue said, "Let's go to the dining room and have a fantastic party!"

Jing Yuan went ahead with the large serving bowl at hand while Xin Yue was behind him. In the dining room, there were several dishes arranged on the table. There's a wide variety of food to enjoy. There are wine glasses on the table and a bottle of red wine for the guests to enjoy. Everyone took their seats at the table. Xin Yue sat right in between Jing Yuan and Ming Zhu.

Baiheng said, "This looks amazing! I can't believe you guys were able to make all this food in such a short time."

"We planned it well and used our time wisely," explained Dan Heng.

Luocha replied, "One person had to cook one dish at a time because of the limited space we had in the kitchen."

"What's more impressive was how focused Xin Yue was in the kitchen preparing her dish," commented Ming Zhu.

Xin Yue said, "I never cooked main dishes of this size before. I'm not surprised that I needed help."

From there, the dinner party started. Everyone got the opportunity to try the different dishes made by their friends. The group chatted it up over delicious food and glasses of red wine. After dinner, the party continued in the living room.

Xiyang brought over the first tray of desserts he made for the group. While enjoying the baked goods, they started with the White Elephant Gift Exchange. There are 10 presents inside the living room. Each one had a number on it. Everyone chooses a number from the bag. They get the opportunity to pick the present that corresponds with that number.

The fun part of the gift exchange was the urge to steal a present the other person picked. Everyone got 1 steal for the entire game. Plus, nobody could unwrap their new gift until the end of the game. Ming Zhu watched as the university friend group picked up a gift and decided whether to steal someone else's present. Xin Yue was the last one to choose. One present remained. It's a medium-sized box wrapped in shiny purple wrapping paper. The number of the present had the number 5 on it.

"Are you going to steal anyone's gift or keep it?" asked Baiheng.

Xin Yue said, "I'm going to steal a gift and I'll pick the gift you stole, Baiheng."

"Aww! I got so used to having it by my side," she replied.

Baiheng handed over the present she stole from Blade to Xin Yue. In return, Xin Yue handed over the gift she picked and gave it to Baiheng. The woman saw the number 3 on it. Everyone got a new present. Now it's time to open their gifts.

The first one up was Xiyang. He opened the gift he stole from Fu Xuan, a black-colored wireless speaker. Xin Yue noticed the familiar green wrapping paper in Blade's hand. It's her gift. The dark-haired man opened his new gift. Inside her present was a set of portable pocket heaters.

Xin Yue followed through with the order and opened her gift. A smile formed on her face when she realized what it was. The gift she stole from Baiheng was a big snack box filled with popular snacks from every city in Xianzhou. Stealing Baiheng's gift at the last minute was a good decision on her part.

The remaining orders were Fu Xuan, Baiheng, Dan Heng, Jing Yuan, Jingliu, Luocha, and Dan Feng. All the gifts from the White Elephant Exchange were practical in some way. Everyone continued enjoying the rest of the Friendsmas Party with more wine and desserts. With the party being a success, soon it'll be time to celebrate the end of the year and the start of a new year.


________________________________________________________________

Author's Notes

I also own Ming Zhu's twin sister, Ming Yue.

Yes, there's a pregnancy in this because I wanted to add a consequence of the affair and a reason why Ming Zhu changed her flight date.

With more text messages in this chapter, I will give you the characters of who was texting in the story

Example:Ming Zhu
Example: Xin Yue
Example: Xiyang
Example: Xin Yue's Mom

I decided... That I'll be writing a bonus chapter for the story. Most likely it'll be posted after the Holidays, which is fine imo!


 
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It felt weird.

Whatever buildup and excitement from Christmas has now fizzled. The only thing left to do is to say goodbye to the current year. Despite spending the remaining days with her friends at the villa, Xin Yue wanted to complete some personal errands around the city. After a late-night call with Xiu Mei, her sister insisted on spending quality time together for one day.

And that's how she got here. Being the first to arrive at the cafe, Xin Yue settled herself in one of the seats near the window. Xiu Mei texted her younger sister that she was running a bit late. It wasn't like her, but it is what it is.

"Again I'm sorry for being late, Xin Yue," declared the female voice.

Xin Yue replied, "I haven't been waiting that long, you know."

"At least let me treat you to whatever you like," said Xiu Mei.

The younger sister said, "I'll take a hot caramel latte and a croissant."

Xiu Mei nodded and headed to the cashier to order the food and drinks. Xin Yue picked up her phone and clicked on the internet browser app. While her sister was on the line, she looked at the list of apartments she planned on searching for today. With her upcoming move back home next year, Xin Yue wanted an early start on apartment hunting. She needed some opinions and also help with the apartment hunting.

Luckily, she and Xiu Mei were going apartment hunting right after this. While waiting for her food and drink, Xin Yue glimpsed at the new message notification. It's a text from Jing Yuan. Before she could reply, Xiu Mei walked towards the table with food and drinks in her hands. She placed the coffee tray and small bags on the table. Xin Yue put her phone on the table, which prompted a concerned look from the older sibling.

"Is it him?" her older sister asked.

Xin Yue replied, "The text is from Jing Yuan, one of my university friends."

"Jing Yuan? The tall, handsome man with the long white hair and wears a red hair ribbon?" wondered Xiu Mei.

She nodded and responded, "Yep, that's Jing Yuan."

"Just text him back," said her older sibling.

Taking her sister's advice, Xin Yue checked her text messages on the phone. She saw the text message from Jing Yuan, and she smiled.

While you were gone, we decided to make a change about where we're celebrating New Year's Eve.

So, no clubbing on New Year's Eve?

Nope. During breakfast, Jingliu and Baiheng found something better than a night of clubbing.

What could that be?

There's a New Year's Eve party at the largest hotel in Luofu. We decided that the hotel party was a better option. What are your thoughts, Xin Yue?

It's the perfect way to celebrate the end of this year and the close end of our friends' vacation. Let's do this, Jing Yuan!


Thinking about what she wrote, Xin Yue realized she hadn't told most of her friends her good news. Her best friend and coworker, Ming Zhu, was the first to know. The other person was Fu Xuan, who works at the company's branch office in Luofu. Xin Yue can tell them until she returns to the villa later.

The younger woman took the first bite of the croissant her sister bought. Both women chatted away while enjoying their food and drinks before heading out. There are a few apartments that Xin Yue needed to see in person. It was the only time she had to see each of them in person. Once Xin Yue leaves Luofu, Xiu Mei and the rest of her family can contact her anytime they see an apartment that may interest her. On her end, she can communicate with the leasing agent virtually and do virtual tours from time to time.

For the next 3 hours, Xin Yue and Xiu Mei spent the time apartment hunting. The apartment hunting wasn't about finding an apartment here and there. Xin Yue doesn't know the exact date of when she'll be moving to Luofu. All the woman wanted was to see what kind of apartments they had before making any big decisions. The realtor who helped them during the apartment tours pointed out that it would be best to continue the apartment hunting 2 to 3 months before the move-in date.

During the apartment hunting trip, Xin Yue found three potential apartments she loved that were within her price range. The young woman knew that things could change at any moment. Xin Yue and Xiu Mei left the last apartment. The older woman looked over at her phone's watch. She noticed that it was almost 1 PM.

"We can do lunch if you want, Xin Yue," said Xiu Mei.

Xin Yue replied, "We can do that and this time, let's do separate checks."

"Fair enough," responded the older sister.

The women chose a quaint-looking restaurant that was 10 minutes away from the apartment they saw. When Xin Yue and her older sister approached their table, the younger woman noticed three familiar women sitting together. There was a table that separated the two groups of women.

Xiu Mei asked, "Aren't those your friends, Xin Yue?"

"Yes, that's them. Let's move over to the other table so we can all sit close," suggested Xin Yue.

The two sisters got up from their seats. Hearing the sound of chairs, Baiheng shifted her head to see the two women moving toward the other table. She grinned widely and waved to both Xin Yue and her older sister.

Baiheng exclaimed, "Xin Yue! Xiu Mei! Come over here!"

Jingliu and Fu Xuan glanced at the two women approaching the empty table next to them. It wasn't every day that they would meet up and have a ladies' lunch in the city. Xin Yue liked the idea of having lunch together under these circumstances.

"Have you heard about the plans we have for New Year's Eve, Xin Yue?" asked Jingliu.

Xin Yue responded, "Yeah. Jing Yuan texted me about the change of plans when I was having breakfast with my sister."

"Are you okay with the new plans or not?" wondered Fu Xuan.

She said, "I love the idea and it does sound better than going to the club on New's Year Eve."

"Because of this, we decided to head to the shops and shop for new outfits. I was about to text you and Ming Zhu about the shopping trip," replied Baiheng.

A lunch date followed by shopping for new outfits sounds nice. A waiter approached the table where the five ladies sat. The restaurant staff member took each of the women's orders before returning to the kitchen. Baiheng glanced over at the older woman sitting across from Xin Yue.

Baiheng asked, "How have you and your son been, Xiu Mei?"

"Great! My husband and I finally got to celebrate of first Christmas with Haoyu with my husband's family," explained Xiu Mei, "my parents also have gifts to give him once they come back from their trip."

Xin Yue complimented, "I saw the pictures you sent to the family group chat. Haoyu is getting more adorable every time I see him."

The waiter returned to the table where the ladies were seated and worked on the food orders. He then went back to the kitchen. The ladies conversed and engaged in small talk, enjoying their drinks. Xin Yue felt happy seeing her friends and older sister having a good time chatting with each other. She couldn't help but think about the news she wanted to tell her friends.

Xin Yue considered sharing her big news with the girls. That meant sharing the same news with the guys when she returned to the villa. After a moment of reflection, she closed her eyes. Xiu Mei noticed that her younger sister's expression had suddenly changed.

"Is something wrong, Xin Yue?" asked Xiu Mei.

Xin Yue opened her eyes and said, "I have some important news that I want to share with the girls before telling it to the boys later on."

The news was more for Baiheng and Jingliu to learn, as Xiu Mei and Fu Xuan knew about it. Xin Yue's expression changed from serious to lighthearted. She couldn't believe that this job opportunity was about to happen sometime next year.

"I just received a promotion at my job earlier this month," said Xin Yue.

Baiheng joyfully exclaimed, "That's great news, Xin Yue!"

"I'll be starting the job next year, but I won't be working in the Yuque branch," she explained, "Instead, I'm going to work at the Luofu branch of the company as the newest content editor."

Baiheng walked to Xin Yue's seat and hugged the young woman from behind. Xin Yue reciprocated her friend's hug and smiled widely.

"I'm glad that you are coming back to Luofu for good, Xin Yue," said Jingliu.

She responded, "Same here, Jingliu. It's nice to come back home for good."

The ladies continued having conversations until the same server returned to the table. The restaurant employee delivered each woman the dish that they ordered. While enjoying the food and drinks, the women enjoyed each other's company for the time being. Once finished with the food, the waiter returned with the five separate checks. Before ordering drinks and food, everyone agreed to pay separately for their meal and drink.

Xiu Mei said goodbye to the women. She hugged her younger sister and left quickly. As she left, a dark blue van pulled up to the restaurant. Ming Zhu walked out from the passenger side and saw the girls outside but noticed that Xin Yue was with them.

"When did you get here, Xin Yue?" wondered Ming Zhu.

Xin Yue replied, "I was supposed to have lunch with my sister until I saw the other girls, who were about to order lunch."

"Now we're all here! Let's go to the shops and find some new clothes to buy!" exclaimed Baiheng.

Xin Yue and her friends spent the entire afternoon going from store to store, searching for perfect dresses and shoes for the upcoming New Year's Eve party. After trying on several outfits, Xin Yue found her ideal dress. It was a cobalt-colored long-sleeved sequined top and a matching maxi-length skirt. The skirt had a thigh-high slit that revealed her left leg. As for shoes, the young woman had a perfect pair of heels that would go well with the dress.

Xin Yue returned to the villa with new clothes and found Jing Yuan cooking dinner in the kitchen. She placed her shopping bag on a stool before approaching the refrigerator. Xin Yue opened the bottom section of the fridge, which contained beers and hard ciders. She returned to her seat while watching the tall man chop the vegetables.

"How did it go with your sister?" asked Jing Yuan.

Xin Yue replied, "It was great. We got to spend some time during breakfasts, looking at apart-"

Her eyes turned wide, and she placed her hand over her mouth. Jing Yuan chuckled at the sight. He found Xin Yue's sudden reaction to be quite cute. The young woman looked up and noticed the calm yet sneaky expression he had on his face.

"That's not funny, Jing Yuan!" retorted Xin Yue.

Jing Yuan said, "I didn't do anything."

She rolled her eyes at the man before picking up a bottle opener nearby. Xin Yue removed the bottle cap from the cider bottle and tossed it into the trash. The woman walked back to her stool and took a sip of her hard cider. She placed her head on the marble counter and continued watching Jing Yuan chop those vegetables.

The woman reminisced about the good ol' university days once again. More specifically, movie nights in each other's apartments every Saturday. Aside from snacks and drinks, whoever the host was for that movie night had to cook dinner for everyone. Xin Yue loved going to Jing Yuan's apartment whenever he hosted the movie night.

The white-haired man was no culinary expert, but the food he made for everyone during movie night was mouthwatering. For the Christmas Eve dinner, he made a few side dishes. Her favorites included the cabbage glass noodles stir fry and the steamed bao buns. On top of that, he even helped her prepare and cook the braised pork belly, which came out just as good as the other two dishes.

Despite his occasional cunning and playful remarks, Jing Yuan's the ideal guy for most types of women. Xin Yue smiled a little before taking another sip of her hard cider.

"I forgot to ask... How did you end up being the one cooking tonight's dinner?" wondered Xin Yue.

Jing Yuan responded, "I wanted all of us to have dinner at the villa, so the guys suggested that I cook tonight's dinner."

Xiyang, Blade, and Luocha were the first to arrive in the kitchen. Despite the absence of Dan Heng and Dan Feng, Xin Yue wanted to share her good news with them later.

"How was your day trip with your sister?" asked Luocha.

Xin Yue replied, "It was great, Luocha. There's a lot that we need to catch up on and we did just that before meeting up with the other girls for lunch."

"Yeah. I had to drive Ming Zhu to the restaurant because you wanted to go shopping for new outfits for the party," responded Xiyang.

She nodded and said, "I know Dan Feng and Dan Heng aren't here, but I have some good news I want to tell you guys. The girls already know the details."

"Is it related to why you went apartment hunting with her during your day trip?" wondered Jing Yuan, placing the knife on the cutting board.

Xin Yue's eyes widened suddenly. She realized that her and Jing Yuan's bedrooms were very close. It dawned on her that he might have overheard her conversation with her sister on the phone. That's how he learned she went apartment hunting with Xiu Mei. That and she almost blabbed to him about that not long ago.

Xin Yue said, "Yes, I was apartment hunting with my sister because I need a new place right before I start my new job."

"Wasn't there some scandal at the publishing company not long ago?" wondered Blade.

She explained, "Yes, but I don't know the details of it. From what I know, the old content editor got fired, and they've been looking for a new person to fill in that position until now."

"So when do you start your new job?" asked Luocha.

The woman responded, "I don't have an exact day yet, but they assured me I'll be starting sometime in the new year."

Jing Yuan said, "Fu Xuan told me that the Luofu branch has been in damage control mode since firing the content editor."

"That's why they don't want me to settle into my new position immediately. They want to restore the branch's reputation and to start on a clean slate," stated Xin Yue.

Shortly after their conversation, the ladies, Dan Feng, and Dan Heng, arrived at the kitchen. Jing Yuan returned to making dinner for the entire friend group.

"Do you need help with making dinner?" asked Xin Yue.

Jing Yuan replied, "Of course, if you want to."

Xin Yue hopped from the stool she sat on and walked into the kitchen. Throwing the empty hard cider bottle into the trash can, the young woman noticed the pile of vegetables, meats, grains, and spices. They're going to be eating well tonight. Xin Yue washed her hands on the kitchen sink and dried them with a paper towel.

Xin Yue hadn't cooked anything since Christmas Eve, but today, she's helping Jing Yuan in the kitchen to prepare dinner for tonight. She rolled up her long sleeves to her elbows to make things easier. Jing Yuan assisted Xin Yue by walking her through the steps to make the main dish.

It's always easier when you have an extra pair of hands. Xin Yue was the only person who volunteered to help him make dinner for their friend group. Jing Yuan wasn't sure how much time and effort it would take to prepare and cook everything. It reminded him of when he helped her prepare and cook the braised pork belly everyone enjoyed. They worked well together in the kitchen that night.

1 1/2 hours passed, and it was dinnertime. Everyone joined together in the dining room. The food spread for tonight's meal was on the simple side. It wasn't fancy like the meal they had on Christmas Eve. There's a lot to share amongst the 11 of them. There are a couple of impressed faces as they try the food Jing Yuan and Xin Yue prepared.

"There's something about Jing Yuan's cooking that makes my mouth water," commented Ming Zhu.

Dan Feng said, "I know and that's why some of us would ask Jing Yuan to host our weekend movie nights. Just to enjoy his homemade cooking."

Dan Heng sighed before taking another bite of his food. The group was lively, as usual, at the dinner table. There's never a dull moment coming from the friend group. As long there's food and drinks, the night can go on for a while.

***

Tonight is the night. It's time to say goodbye to the current year. Xin Yue wore a sparkly cobalt two-piece dress and a pair of gold heels. The woman headed to the bathroom for one final look. Meanwhile, on the other side of the hallway, Jing Yuan opened the door from his room. Right away, he noticed Xin Yue on the other side.

Xin Yue stood in her place and examined her outfit before turning to Jing Yuan. She noticed that he was wearing a black blazer and matching black dress pants, which made him look like one of those CEOs in those romance dramas that she and Ming Zhu enjoyed watching. It's a great look for him.

"I'm guessing that you're almost ready to leave," said Jing Yuan,

Xin Yue replied, "Yep. Looks like everything is fine with my hair, makeup, and outfit."

After confirming that everything was fine, Xin Yue left the bathroom and returned to her bedroom. She put on her black peacoat and grabbed her small purse and phone from the nightstand. Now she's ready to leave. Heading downstairs to the foyer, Xin Yue was the first one ready. Not long after she began waiting, Jing Yuan was the next person to come downstairs.

It didn't take long for everyone else to arrive. Everyone picked and chose which of the two rental vans they wanted to ride on to the party. Getting to the hotel was a bit complicated. Because everyone all over the country is celebrating New Year's Eve, the traffic was pretty bad. Luckily, both vans made it to the hotel around 9:00 PM.

Upon entering the ballroom, it was not too crowded. With three hours left until the ball drops, it is the perfect time to enjoy themselves however they want. Everyone went their separate ways to check out the party.

"Remember to come back before they show the ball drop," said Ming Zhu.

Xin Yue realized that it had been a while since they last ate. She walked off and checked out the dinner buffet. The woman noticed a few of her friends also on the line. The line was pretty long, but it's been moving quickly. Xin Yue grabbed one of the plates and stared at the variety of food at the buffet. All of it looked delicious. She went for the fried rice, vegetable stir fry, and barbequed pork. Xin Yue returned to their table with her plate of food.

Taking the first bite, Xin Yue was pleasantly surprised by the taste of her food. Ming Zhu arrived at the table carrying a plate of food and two glass bottles. Her best friend handed the woman one of the glass bottles.

"They had our favorite hard cider brand at the bar," said Ming Zhu.

Xin Yue replied, "Thank you for bringing me one."

She took the first sip of hard cider and chatted it up with her best friend. The food and drinks were nothing but perfection, in her honest opinion. After finishing up, Ming Zhu and Xin Yue walked to the dancefloor. Both of them sang and danced along to the music. Even though it was a fancier event, it almost felt like they were in a club. That lasted 30 minutes until Ming Zhu noticed her boyfriend close by.

For the next few hours, Xin Yue bounced between the buffet, bar, and dancefloor. That was until 15 minutes before the NYE ball drop. She's pretty exhausted from all the dancing. The woman noticed staff members handing out champagne flutes. Xin Yue saw a group returning to the ballroom from a different open space. She wanted to check it out for herself.

As the woman took her first steps outside the ballroom, she surveyed her surroundings. She noticed how huge the hotel's balcony was. Xin Yue stood there, gazing at the starry night sky, seeking space from the loud music and nonstop dancing. The cool breeze brushed against her stomach, providing a refreshing sensation.

As she took a moment to herself, Xin Yue reflected on the past year, with all its ups and downs. Now, she was celebrating the end of the year with people she loved being with.

"The stars are shining so beautifully on the last day of the year," said a familiar voice.

Upon hearing that deep voice, Xin Yue turned over to see Jing Yuan outside with two champagne flutes in his hands. A smile formed on the woman's face as he approached her. Accepting the champagne flute from his hand, Xin Yue had a good idea about how much time was left.

Xin Yue asked, "Are you here to drag me back to the ballroom, Jing Yuan?"

"Do you want that or do you want me to stay here?" he questioned back.

The young woman suggested, "Let's keep each other company until midnight."

Jing Yuan nodded, and he stood right next to the well-dressed woman. Xin Yue focused those eyes of hers on the beautiful, starry night. From where they stood, the view of Luofu was stunning. Jing Yuan saw the genuine smile on the woman's face. She

"Can I tell you something, Jing Yuan?" asked Xin Yue.

Jing Yuan looked at Xin Yue and responded, "I'm all ears, Xin Yue."

Xin Yue gazed at the man standing before her. She had spent more time with Jing Yuan since arriving in Luofu. Jing Yuan was the first person to contact her on the day of her flight. He willingly listened to her entire breakup story and comforted her. Moreover, he volunteered to cook the pork belly with her on Christmas Eve.

From those actions alone, he's a wonderful guy. Xin Yue adored him and wanted to be him. At the same time, she knew that she needed to take care of herself first. She needed the time to heal from her current breakup. The young woman needed to plan her upcoming move during the new year. It's a lot, but she hoped Jing Yuan could understand that.

It was now or never.

"I want to be with you Jing Yuan, b-," she said.

He explained, "But you want to take some time for yourself."

"Yes and I also love you, Jing Yuan," explained Xin Yue.

Jing Yuan smiled and said, "I love you too, Xin Yue but I need to ask you two questions though."

"Ask away," she said.

He wondered, "First, can we message each other still or not? Also, can I be your first kiss of the New Year?"

Xin Yue smiled and answered, "Yes to both questions!"

As they stood on the balcony together, Xin Yue and Jing Yuan could hear the countdown to the new year from the hotel ballroom. With less than a minute remaining, they decided to stay outside and witness the countdown from there. Their friends were probably looking for them right at this moment.

10!

9!

8!

7!

6!

5!

4!

3!

2!

1!


Jing Yuan said, "Happy New Year, Xin Yue."

"Happy New Year, Jing Yuan," replied Xin Yue.

Both adults placed their champagne flutes on the table. In an instant, Jing Yuan gently wrapped his arms around Xin Yue's waist, pulling her closer to him. Xin Yue wrapped her arms around his neck, making herself comfortable. She noticed the content expression from those golden eyes of his. He's enjoying the intimate moment between the two of them.

Jing Yuan leaned in and gently pressed his lips against hers, kissing her. Xin Yue felt a warm and comforting sensation from the kiss and loved how his lips felt against hers. Part of her wished the kiss could last forever, but she pulled away from Jing Yuan instead. In response, Jing Yuan gently stroked the woman's right cheek with his long fingers.

Jing Yuan said, "I never got to say this back at the villa, but you look stunning, Xin Yue.

"And you look handsome, Jing Yuan," responded Xin Yue.

A female voice angrily said, "We've been looking for you two since the countdown began!"

Both Jing Yuan and Xin Yue turned their heads over toward the ballroom. Fu Xuan noticed the two adults standing right next to one another. While Jing Yuan and Xin Yue were outside chatting and having their romantic moment, she and some of their friends searched for them in the hotel ballroom. They didn't check up on their friends after the countdown was over.

Jing Yuan approached the table and picked up the champagne flutes. He handed Xin Yue her glass, which she accepted. Jing Yuan was the first to leave the hotel balcony, which infuriated Fu Xuan. With him gone, only the two ladies remained on. Taking the first sip of her champagne, the pink-haired woman glared at the wavy-haired woman standing across from her.

What a way to start the year! From a sentimental kiss on a hotel balcony with their crush to their university friend-new coworker scolding them.

"I'm going to kill you, Jing Yuan," mumbled Xin Yue under her breath.



____________________________


Author's Notes

Looks like Chapter 3 also had to be posted after New Year's, but it is what it is

The romance in this story may have not been so obvious, but I was trying to keep it subtle for the most part. There was the obvious "I Love You", but I wanted to change it up by letting the two main characters have some space for bit.

The last set of text message references from this chapter.

Example: Xin Yue
Example: Jing Yuan

I'm still going forward with the bonus chapter because I want to introduce one more Honkai Star Rail character in this special chapter. Plus I have a not so unique way of introducing them to the story :pepesmug:
 
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Let's rent out a villa and spend the holidays together! We can do this every five years or so if you want to.

Who would've guessed that a single text message brought a close-knit group of university friends to spend the holidays together in a villa rental five years ago? What had started as a one-time getaway over the holiday season is now the start of a new tradition amongst themselves. Many events have happened in those five years. Yet, this holiday gateway is going to be different.

Ten months ago, Xiyang, the one who suggested the holiday getaway five years ago, passed away alongside his wife of three years, Ming Zhu, in a car crash. This trip is not just an opportunity for the friend group to reunite and have fun but to honor their friends' memories. Not only that, Yanqing, who's Xiyang and Ming Zhu's 11-month-old son, will be celebrating his first Christmas and New Year's with the friend group this year.

Baiheng suggested the idea to Jing Yuan and Xin Yue, Yanqing's adoptive parents. They agreed that it would be nice for their son to join in the festivities as long it's kid-friendly. It's not the same as their first getaway five years ago, but they'll still make it enjoyable for everyone. Their friend group is also like a family to their 11-month-old son.

As Xin Yue sits in the passenger seat, she's texting her parents and siblings in their family chat. Her parents are currently on vacation, celebrating their 25th anniversary together. Xiu Mei is spending the holidays with her son with her father's family in Luofu. Xin Yue's older brother, Lixin, made plans to spend time with his wife and sons at his in-laws' vacation home in Xuling.

At least her parents planned an early Christmas celebration just for them to spend time with their grandsons and give them their gifts early.

Make sure to send photos and videos to the family group chat!

Xin Yue smiles as she reads her father's text message. Jing Yuan noticed his wife's cheerful expression on her face.

"I'm wondering what is making you feel so happy all of the sudden, Yue?" asks Jing Yuan.

Xin Yue looks at her husband and replies, "My dad wants my siblings and me to send any photos and videos to the family group chat."

"They miss their grandsons already," he responds.

Xin Yue chuckles at her husband's comment before turning her head over towards the back of the van. Her eyes focus on the young blonde-haired boy sleeping in his car seat. It wasn't long since they left the house, and now he was asleep. She remembers those late-night drives Jing Yuan took with Yanqing so he could fall asleep. Xin Yue hopes her son stays asleep until they arrive at the villa.

The ride to the villa takes another 25 minutes. Jing Yuan notices a familiar dark blue-colored van in the driveway. He drives up to the space in the driveway and parks the van. Xin Yue is the first to get out of the vehicle, and she walks toward the back of the passenger seat. Opening the door to the passenger seat, Xin Yue moves closer to unbuckle Yanqing's car seat. She carries her tired child and closes the car door.

While Xin Yue approaches the front door, Jing Yuan heads over to the back of the van to get their bags. The woman rings the doorbell and waits patiently. Not long after, Baiheng opens the front door and sees her friend and child together.

"You guys made it," says Baiheng.

Xin Yue replies, "Of course. I wonder what's going to be the room situation."

"You, Jing Yuan, and Yanqing are getting the master bedroom with the en-suite bathroom," responds the purple-haired woman.

Xin Yue steps foot into the villa and follows Baiheng upstairs. There's no need to do a tour of the villa. It didn't take long to arrive at the master bedroom. Xin Yue uses the time to place Yanqing on the bed and wait for her husband to come upstairs with their bags and the portable crib. She smiles softly upon seeing her son sleeping in the king-sized bed.

"Something on your mind, Yue?" he quietly asks.

Hearing the low tone of his voice, Xin Yue sees her husband arriving in their room with the crib in his arms. Of course, Jing Yuan's the first to notice, yet it doesn't bother her. He's always been like that since the good old university days, and it's one of the few things she loves about him.

Xin Yue says, "Yes and it's about the first time we spent the holidays in this villa, Yuan."

"I'm curious about what you're going to say," he wonders.

She replies, "It's something I never thought about until we planned this trip a few months ago. The first trip here was a blessing in disguise for me."

Jing Yuan closes his eyes, which makes Xin Yue feel somewhat confused. She is unsure if what she said is about to be an in-depth conversation until now. Her eyes focus on the sudden, carefree-looking smile on his face. Xin Yue pouts at the sight of her husband's change of expression.

Gently hitting him in the chest, Xin Yue states, "I'm being serious."

"Of course you are, My Moonlight and I agree with you," replies Jing Yuan.

Quietly placing the unassembled travel crib on the floor, the man approaches his wife. Wrapping his arms around her waist, Jing Yuan pulls her in. Xin Yue embraces him, resting her head on his shoulder.

Xin Yue whispers in his ears, "I love you, Yuan."

"I love you too, Yue," he whispers back.

Her husband moved her head so she could see those stunning golden eyes of his for a brief moment. He places his lips and kisses his wife. Without hesitation, Xin Yue kisses him until he breaks off the kiss.

Jing Yuan says, "Let's continue this later."

Xin Yue is the first to leave the bedroom, and Jing Yuan sees the unassembled crib. It's still their son's nap time, and the man hopes that Yanqing continues sleeping while they settle in their room. Setting up the portable crib is a quick and easy process. Jing Yuan double-checks if the crib is secured. At the same time, Xin Yue returns to their room with the diaper backpack and her suitcase.

Jing Yuan leaves the bedroom so he can get his suitcase upstairs. Xin Yue continues fixing up the room. She carries Yanqing in her arms and places him gently on the crib mattress. The woman goes to the backpack to search for the baby monitor. It's to check on their son while they're downstairs with their friends. While she works on the baby monitor, Jing Yuan returns to their shared room with his suitcase.

The couple continues setting up the bedroom before heading downstairs to the kitchen. Xin Yue notices Baiheng, Blade, Jingliu, and Fu Xuan in the kitchen. Both of them sit down on the stools.

"I'm guessing that Jing Yuan and I made it on time before the food shopping trip," says Xin Yue.

Baiheng replies, "Yep, because I'm going with Luocha, Dan Feng, and Dan Heng to the supermarket. Do you or Jing Yuan want to come with us to the supermarket?"

"Jing Yuan, do you want to go to the supermarket with them, or should I go?" asks Xin Yue, looking over at her husband.

Jing Yuan replies, "I'll go. Just send me a text message of what things you need for us to eat and drink."

As the three of them prepare to leave, Jing Yuan kisses his wife on the cheek and stands up, following Baiheng and the trio to the front door.

"You should've gone with them to the supermarket and let us take care of Yanqing," Jingliu suggests.

Xin Yue comments, "I understand and appreciate the suggestion, but I don't know if any of you wants to handle a cranky 11-month-old after he wakes up from a nap."

Putting their son for a nap is no simple task. Yanqing has started to be more active during the daytime since he turned 11 months old. He's also showing signs of taking his first steps recently. The 11-month-old may begin walking at some point during the vacation.

The woman pulls out her cell phone and unlocks the lock screen. Her phone background is a photo of her, Jing Yuan, Yanqing, and their cat, Mimi. Yes, they also have a cat, who is spending the holidays with Qingzu, her husband's assistant. Clicking on the text messaging app, Xin Yue looks up her husband's name so she can send him the grocery list.

Here are the things we need to get.

2 packs of Ginger Beer (for us to enjoy)
Apples
Bananas
Crackers
Peanut Butter
Baby Puffs (Apple or Banana)
Noodles
Tofu
6 pounds of pork belly (with the skin on)
Ginger root
Star Anise
Szechuan peppercorn
Yellow rock sugar
A bottle of light soy sauce
A bottle of dark soy sauce
A bottle of Shaoxing Wine

You can add whatever else we need to the list.


Xin Yue reads the shopping list once before sending it to her husband. It does not take long for him to respond. A smile forms, and she reads the text message he sends her.

I don't think 2 packs of ginger beer is enough. Let's make it 4. But I can get everything else on the list, Yue.

Also, aren't you missing anything else?


"Sometimes I wonder why I married this man," jokes Xin Yue while texting on her phone.

Can you please buy me those rose cakes I love, Yuan?

Xin Yue keeps on forgetting how well her husband knows her. Of course, he finds it weird whenever she doesn't ask for her favorite rose cakes. Seeing the thumbs-up emoji he sends her, Xin Yue closes the texting app and places her phone on the counter.

"We should order takeout and get bubble tea from The Sleepless Earl," suggests Xin Yue.

Blade asks, "Didn't we do that on the first day we arrived in the villa years ago?"

"Yes, and this is why I'm suggesting the idea, Blade," replies the dark blue-haired woman.

Jingliu comments, "Since this trip is also about honoring our friends, we should bring back something we remembered from the first trip."

"Isn't this also an excuse not to cook anything for the first day, Xin Yue?" wonders Fu Xuan.

Xin Yue replies, "Yes, to both those reasons."

Xin Yue recalls when Jing Yuan suggested takeout for dinner for the exact reason. Xiyang, Baiheng, and herself agreed while hanging out in the kitchen. Why not do the same thing they did five years ago? Plus, traveling to the villa is no easy task despite being in the same city they live in. While Xin Yue continues talking with her friends, her phone pings suddenly.

It's a notification from the baby monitor app on her phone. Xin Yue immediately checks it out. On the monitor screen, Yanqing's standing up in his crib, wide awake. Putting her phone in her blazer pockets, Xin Yue leaves the high-looking seat.

"I'll be back quickly," says Xin Yue.

Her friends watch the woman leave from her seat and up the stairs. They realize their friend is checking on her child. Xin Yue, who's back in the master bedroom, is sitting on the bed, carrying the young blonde-haired boy in her arms. Yanqing is now wide awake and stares up at his mother. While she enjoys the brief moment with her son, Xin Yue slings the diaper bag on one of her shoulders before leaving the bedroom.

It doesn't take her long to return to the living room, where her friends are. She settles on the couch with the 11-month-old still in her arms.

Fu Xuan asks, "How's the planning for his 1st birthday coming along?"

"Aside from getting unsolicited advice from my brother-in-law and his family, Jing Yuan and I are finalizing the details of Yanqing's 1st birthday," replies Xin Yue.

Jingliu wonders, "Did you tell Xiu Mei about this?"

"Yes, and this is one of the reasons why she and Haoyu are spending the holidays with her father's family this year instead of the in-laws," she responds.

While holding her son, Xin Yue places the backpack on the counter. She pulls out a bottle from the side pocket. She slings the bag onto her free shoulder and walks to the couch. The woman takes a seat and removes the cap from the bottle. Yanqing sees the bottle in her mother's hands and hands it to her 11-month-old son. He grabs the bottle with both hands and begins to drink from it.

Xin Yue couldn't believe he was celebrating his 1st birthday next month. It's the first of many birthdays, yet it feels bittersweet. The woman could only think about Xiyang and Ming Zhu, who weren't there to see their son grow up. It breaks the woman's heart, but she promises them that she and Jing Yuan will do everything so Yanqing continues to thrive without them. Xin Yue smiles to herself as she strokes the boy's soft blonde hair.

Within the next hour and a half, Xin Yue and the rest of her friends play with the infant on the living room floor. It's one way to entertain the 11-month-old until the others return from the supermarket. During playtime, Yanqing accidentally bumps his head on the table while trying to find the ball. The 11-month-old boy's eyes turn wide, and he wails loudly, capturing everyone's attention.

Xin Yue, being the first to notice this, the woman moves to where her son is and holds him in his arms.

"Can any of you bring a soft rag and put some ice inside it?" asks Xin Yue.

Jingliu says, "I can do that."

While Jingliu heads to the kitchen, Xin Yue moves to the sofa to soothe her child. Around the same time, the group in charge of the food shopping walks into the villa. Jing Yuan is the first to enter the kitchen with shopping bags. He hears the sound of whimpering coming from the living room. Placing the bags on the counter, he walks to the couch and sees his wife trying to calm their child down.

"What happened here?" asks Jing Yuan.

Xin Yue responds, "Yanqing bumped his head on the table while trying to get his ball."

"Here's the ice-filled rag you asked me to get," says Jingliu, handing her friend the rag.

She replies, "Thank you, Jingliu."

Xin Yue places the rag on the red-colored bump on the young boy's forehead. Jing Yuan notices how calm his wife is while she gently presses the cold rag on the injury. He sits next to his wife, which catches Yanqing's attention.

"Don't worry, Yanqing. Everything is going to be alright," reassures Jing Yuan.

Hearing his dad's comforting words, the blonde-haired infant smiles at his parents. It makes the white-haired man smile. Pulling his wife in a side embrace, Jing Yuan puts his head on his wife's shoulder.

He comments, "You're a great mother, Yue."

"And you're a great father, Yuan," she replies.

Over the past 10 months, Jing Yuan and Xin Yue have been learning to take care of Yanqing since he came into their lives. To see the young boy learning these new skills while growing up amazes the married couple. By next month, this young boy will be a toddler. They can't wait to see what new skills their son will learn from this point on.


________________________________________________________________

Author's Notes

Finally I got to post bonus chapter. There are some things I want to bring up in this final author's note.

1st: I started this chapter the same way I began the first chapter, with a text message
2nd: The 3 chapters I posted are written in past tense to represent the past.
3rd: The bonus chapter was written in present tense because the 5 years later in the present timeline.
4th: Yes, Yanqing is Xiyang and Ming Zhu's biological son in this specific Modern AU timeline. I don't regret killing them off in this chapter.

Here are the final set of text messages.

Example: Xiyang
Example: Xin Yue
Example: Jing Yuan
Example: Xin Yue's Dad

I want to say that I really enjoyed writing this short story. Originally, this was meant to be a one-time thing... But after completing the story, I want to expand this Modern AU storyline I created.

So there is a chance I will write more content based on it.
 
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