Upon driving back to the Ming house and parking his car, Ming Luchuan pushed open the door, climbed out, and marched straight to the garden without sparing a single glance at Xia Wennan. 

Xia Wennan lagged two to three metres behind him.
As he neared the garden, he found that tonight’s guest had already arrived, and not only the guest, but Ming Qin and his family were also present.
Tables and chairs, as well as a barbeque grill, were set up in the middle of the garden, and the auntie was bringing the skewered food from the kitchen to the garden table.

Ming Luchuan and Xia Wennan were the last to arrive. 

Xia Wennan saw Duan Ning sitting with Ming Siyan and Ming Qin; the three of them were chatting, while Yin Zejing was shooting hoops with Lu Huaiye. Yin Zejing was dressed in fashionable sportswear from head to toe, whereas Lu Huaiye was still wearing his shirt and suit pants, but his shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows.

Xia Wennan came to a halt, and as he watched Ming Luchuan walk towards them, he abruptly remembered what Chen Wenchu had told him about alphas and omegas that afternoon at the cafeteria.
While Xia Wennan was a beta with a unique constitution, he was still a beta; he was born and raised in a small town where alphas and betas were few in number, and the closest he’d ever gotten to alphas was probably in the locker rooms of his high school’s basketball team.

He had pretty much disregarded Chen Wenchu’s words at the time, but now that he was here, it occurred to him that, in this family, he was a special existence.
Or maybe these weren’t the right words—it was alphas and omegas who were a special existence in this world, whereas betas were like society’s worker bees; a mere collective, not existing as an individual.  

Ming Luchuan exchanged a few words with Ming Qin, who looked up and smiled at Xia Wennan as he beckoned him over.

Xia Wennan walked in their direction. Ming Siyan and Duan Ning had also spotted him.
Ming Siyan stood up, his mouth stretched into a grin, but Duan Ning was more reserved, only smiling faintly.

When Xia Wennan saw them, he suddenly thought: who says that worker bees can only exist as a collective and not as individuals? What was wrong with him being a worker bee who existed independently? At the very least, he could work hard and contribute to society, unlike these alphas and omegas, who were slaves to pheromones and had evolved to this day and age yet still couldn’t break away from their most primitive insticts. 

Then in that case, Xia Wennan thought gleefully, betas were a little more advanced in the evolution department.

Walking over, he greeted Ming Qin and listened as the man made introductions.
“This is Duan Ning, Luchuan and Siyan’s childhood friend.”

“We’ve met,” said Xia Wennan.

Duan Ning stood up.
“That’s right, we’ve met before.
Unfortunately, we were in a hurry that night and didn’t have much time to talk.”

“You can chat all you want tonight,” Ming Qin responded with a smile.

Today, dinner was grilled skewers and beer in the garden; Ming Qin had probably wanted to seize the tail end of summer.

Xia Wennan picked up the glass of beer in front of him and took a sip, the ice-cold liquid gushing from his throat down to his stomach.
He couldn’t help leaning back in his chair and raising his arms above his head, gazing out at the setting sun in the distant mountains.
He sighed contentedly. 

The table was already heaped with food; freshly baked seafood in tinfoil as well as cold dishes to go with the beer that the auntie had brought out.
To the right of the table, Yin Zejing had replaced the auntie and was personally flipping the grilled skewers himself, his actions seemingly more professional than Xia Wennan had imagined.

“My mom used to run a grilled skewers stall,” said Yin Zejing. 

Xia Wennan gave him a curious look.

Ming Luchuan sat next to Xia Wennan, while Duan Ning was on his other side.
There was nothing out of the ordinary with the way he interacted and talked to Ming Luchuan, as if their relationship was no more than that of regular friends. 

Xia Wennan wasn’t intently listening to what they were saying; his mind was a little preoccupied with what Yin Zejing had said, thinking that Yin Zejing didn’t look like an alpha who’d come from a poor household.
Most alphas and omegas families were relatively well-off, but some of the alphas Xia Wennan had encountered in his small town had families who had suffered misfortune, leaving them impoverished.
An alpha’s competitive nature was engraved in their bones, resulting in a heightened desire to excel.
Their internal inferiority complex manifested externally as excessive pride; more often than not, they were disinclined to reveal their family circumstances to others, kept others at a distance, and had rigid personalities. 

But Yin Zejing had talked about his mother running a grilled skewers stall in a relaxed tone.
Since he was an alpha, his mom had probably been an omega.
The life of an omega who ran a grilled skewers stall must’ve been difficult, it was no relaxing thing. 

Yin Zejing seemed to quite enjoy grilling the skewers; when he turned them over, the curls on his head slightly bounced.
His expression was somewhat innocent, like that of a university student. 

Xia Wennan stared at Yin Zejing for a long time, when all of a sudden Ming Luchuan asked, “What are you staring at?”

At that very moment, Duan Ning was still talking to Ming Luchuan.
His sentence was cut short in the middle, so he stopped and took a sip of his fruit juice, pinched his drinking straw with his fingers, and lightly stirred the contents of his cup.

“I’m staring at Yin Zejing,” Xia Wennan answered Ming Luchuan without turning his head.

Duan Ning suddenly laughed and said, “Wennan is really funny.”

Xia Wennan couldn’t help glancing at him.
This was only the second time they met, why was he calling his name like they were close? Then in that case, what was he supposed to call Duan Ning? Ningning?

Ming Luchuan was scowling.
“Do you think that’s appropriate?”

“No.” Startled, Xia Wennan turned to Ming Luchuan.
How did Ming Luchuan know what he was thinking? “Did I say something just now?” he asked bewilderedly.

Ming Luchuan said, “What did you say?”

Xia Wennan was a little dumbfounded.
“Aren’t I the one asking you what I said?”

“You don’t know what came out of your own mouth?”

“You sure can argue.
Are you a master of rhetorical questions?”

Ming Luchuan’s scowl deepened.

Duan Ning was watching them with an ever present smile on his lips.
When he heard Xia Wennan’s retort, his smile broadened, and he said, “Wennan is so funny!” He then turned to Ming Luchuan, “No wonder you got married out of the blue! I knew Wennan was perfect for you!”

When Xia Wennan heard Duan Ning’s words, he couldn’t help but look at Ming Luchuan.
Since Ming Luchuan’s complexion was already unsightly, you wouldn’t be able to tell if his face became more ugly.
He thought to himself, Ming Luchuan used to like Duan Ning; Duan Ning himself should be aware, right? Wasn’t he worried that his words would hit Ming Luchuan’s nerve?

What a standard example of a white moonlight!

Xia Wennan raised his eyes to the sky.
It was a beautiful day, and he could spot several glittering stars, but the moon wasn’t visible.
Too bad, Xia Wennan thought, there should’ve been a beam of moonlight bathing Duan Ning’s holy body.

Right then, Ming Siyan came over with a plate of grilled pork belly.
He stopped by Xia Wennan’s side and copied Xia Wennan, tilting his head up curiously.
“What are you looking at, Wennan?”

“The moon,” said Xia Wennan.
He then lowered his head, reached for the plate in Ming Siyan’s hands, and set it down on the table.
“Come have some meat,” he called to Duan Ning, somewhat curious whether a white moonlight would eat high-fat meats. 

Ming Siyan’s head was still craned upwards.
“There’s no moon though.”

Xia Wennan was faintly tickled.
He got to his feet and stood beside Ming Siyan, extending a hand to point it out to him.
“It’s over there.”

“Where? There’s nothing there.” 

“It’s behind the clouds.”

“Then doesn’t that mean that you can’t see it?” Thinking that he was being fooled, Ming Siyan lowered his head and asked Xia Wennan.  

Xia Wennan patted his shoulder.
“It’s artistic imagery.”

Ming Siyan sat down next to Xia Wennan and beckoned to Lu Huaiye, who was chatting to Ming Qin across from him, to pass him the beer.

Lu Huaiye pushed the glass of beer across the table.

Ming Siyan picked up the glass, swallowed a mouthful of beer, and sighed, saying “Duan Ning, have you told Wennan about da-ge’s childhood?”

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