After shaking the water off his body and chasing away the noisy parrot with a pebble, Zheng Tan went to the tree where he hid the keys and entry card and retrieved them.
He hung them around his neck again, slid down the tree and trotted towards the Eastern Residence where the Jiao family lived.
He jumped up to swipe the entry card and ran all the way to the fifth floor.
Because this was an old building, many of the residents kept the outer security door to their apartments.
The Jiao family apartment was the same, only that the lock on their metal security door was broken.
But since the building security was rather good, and furthermore it was on the fifth floor, usually no one came up here. This was why they never fixed it. Having a wooden door was enough.
The security door was left wide open against the wall so it wouldn't inconvenience anyone coming in and out. Since it was there for quite some years, the door had a lot of rust.
Zheng Tan jumped on the grated metal security door, and when he got to the spot around the lock, he tightly clung to the top and then lifted his legs to give the wall a strong push.
The security grate brought Zheng Tan towards the main door, and the hinge of the rusted door gave a shrill creak.
Just as he nearly reached the lock and Zheng Tan was about to stick the key inside, the door was suddenly opened from within.
Last night, Yi Xin borrowed Associate Professor Jiao's computer to write his thesis, and only went to sleep on the sofa when morning nearly came.
He had woken up with an urge to go to the bathroom and was just about to sleepily lie back down on the sofa when he suddenly heard some noise at the door.
He shot up and ran to open the door without even putting on his shoes. Boss Jiao had said before that when their family cat comes back, that security door will sound out.
Yi Xin never understood how Boss Jiao's family cat had anything to do with the security door making noise, but when he opened the door, he understood and was struck into a daze.
Right in front of him, a black cat was using its legs and furry paws to cling to the metal bars of the security door with a pair of keys in its mouth.
It was approaching the door lock on his side while the hinges of security door creaked.
Zheng Tan obviously didn't expect there would be anyone at home, but the person he saw was vaguely familiar.
Zheng Tan tried to remember who in the world this person in front of him was while Yi Xin continued to be in the state of shock. Momentarily, a man and a cat exchanged stares.
In the end, it was Zheng Tan who first recalled the identity of the person in front of him.
In the past, when Jiao Yuan and the others snuck Zheng Tan to Papa Jiao's office, Papa Jiao had once mentioned Yi Xin to him.
At the time, Yi Xin was guiding an undergraduate student through an experiment and walking with several other graduate students who were carrying samples to the public laboratory.
Papa Jiao had stood at the window pointing out while explaining to Zheng Tan.
Having confirmed the identity of the person in front of him, Zheng Tan no longer gave much thought to it. If he was able to get in, he must have been approved by Papa Jiao.
If he was capable of receiving Papa Jiao's approval, then he must be trustworthy.
Zheng Tan jumped off of the security door and made a beeline for the sofa.
To make it easier to sleep, Yi Xin had moved all of the snacks off the sofa and onto the adjacent chair.
Zheng Tan looked at the moved snacks and counted them. Nothing was missing. He immediately felt a bit more satisfied.
Yi Xin was still in a daze in his spot. Although he had already somewhat recovered from the scene at the entrance, he was shocked again by the incident at the chair.
Yesterday on the phone with Boss Jiao, Boss Jiao had even told him not to eat the snacks on the sofa.
If he wanted to eat something, he should eat the things placed on the second shelf of the refrigerator, but don't ever touch the ones that are left on the sofa.
While he was on the phone, Yi Xin didn't understand, but right now, he understood. Just moments ago that cat was staring at the snacks on the chair while nodding its chin.
It was actually counting, wasn't it?
Zheng Tan didn’t pay any mind to the dazed Yi Xin. He was very hungry right now so he bit off the plastic wrapper around some pudding and began to eat.
Yi Xin watched the black cat that was eating pudding as it laid on the couch. His face twitched, then he shuffled his feet to the bedroom and gave Boss Jiao a call.
Zheng Tan perked his ears up to hear what was going on with the phone call in the bedroom.
Yi Xin held the phone and said, "Uh-huh, uh-huh," and then turned on the speakerphone. Papa Jiao's voice came through the phone. "Ash, say something."
Zheng Tan tilted his head back: "Mraoowww–"
Yi Xin: "…" Even its call was that unusual.
"He sounds pretty energetic," said Papa Jiao, and then he had Yi Xin turn off the speakerphone. He still had a few more instructions for Yi Xin.
Yi Xin responded very deferentially as he held the phone, but his facial expression was very reluctant.
After he hung up, he went to the kitchen to heat some water, put a white plastic tub from the shelf into the sink, and washed it.