After ZhouXiang left the cafe, his mind could not be calm at all.
He walked toward the direction of his home for more than ten minutes before hailing for a taxi.
He thought a lot on the road. Although he told YanMingSu that he wanted to see YanMingXiu, he is somewhat afraid to see him. What should he say after seeing him? Could he really abandon their deal and accept this person again? How would YanMingXiu handle the pressure at home? With these series of problems lying ahead of them, ZhouXiang feels particularly tired. No matter how much feelings one has, it could completely whittle away by the accumulated exhaustion over a long period of time. ZhouXiang felt that he is in this state. What YanMingXiu had done for him had touched his heart. He had remained in the same place, feeling endless exhaustion because he doesn't know what price he would have to pay to step forward and what the consequences would be. But no matter what the consequences may be, nothing can be more terrifying than losing his life. ZhouXiang thought to himself.
He heaved a sigh and looked at the overcast gray sky above Beijing. His heart feeling extremely suffocated.
After rushing home, there was still more than two hours before meeting LanXiRong at their agreed time. He has abundant time.
Upon opening the door into the home, he saw ChenYing sitting in the room with her head down, not knowing what she's looking at.
After hearing movements, ChenYing lifted her head, the rim of her eyes red. ZhouXiang immediately felt something wrong with the atmosphere.
“Mom, I'm back. What wrong?" He's only been out for two to three hours, what could have happened? ChenYing was obviously very happy all day today but now she seems to have been crying.
ChenYing pointed to the sofa next to her, “Sit down. I have something to ask you.”
ZhouXiang is very astonished. ChenYing had never spoken to him in such harsh tone. In his impression, ChenYing had always been a kind and gentle loving woman who would spoil her child beyond limits and essentially had no temper.
He walked over and sat down, watching ChenYing worriedly, “Mom. What is really wrong? Are you not feeling well?”
"Somebody came by earlier."
ZhouXiang is shocked, "Who, who came?"
“A lawyer…and gave me these things.” ChenYing looked at him with bloodshot eyes and pushed the documents on the table to him.
ZhouXiang picked it up and take a look. His hand started to shake slightly. These are his bank statements. When he first opened the account, there was two million clearly in the account; this huge amount is abnormally glaring. Behind this, there is also a series of documents related to the transfer of the condo, very clearly showing the transfer from YanMingXiu to his name.
This very private matter (T/N) is actually very obvious in other peoples' eyes.
T/N: This private matter is alluding to the deal between ZhouXiang and YanMingXiu.
ZhouXiang threw the file onto the table. He really couldn’t look into ChenYing's skeptic expression.
ChenYing pointed at the white papers with her trembling fingers. Her paled face is similar to those papers, “This record for the two million deposit, I remember very clearly. It was shortly after I got ill. You said that you were looking for someone to borrow money. ZhouXiang, your mother is old but not an idiot. This money was given to you by YanMingXiu, right? The condo is also from him, right? Because of me, you (sold yourself to him)…. do you think that your mom can live on happily?! “ChenYing is more and more riled up. In the end, she basically shouted. Such a thinly frail woman, one can hardly imagine that she could make such a sound.
ZhouXiang took a deep breath and tried to explain, “Mom, it's really not what you think. I knew him from way before. I am…. borrowing money from him.”
“You still want to lie to me!” ChenYing shouted angrily, "People already came knocking on the door! ZhouXiang, you are a man, how could you do this kind of thing? Even if I have to die, I don't need the money coming from you doing this! You….don't you find this shameful?!"
ZhouXiang's heart tightened, unable to respond.
ChenYing looked at ZhouXiang’s deathly paled face and immediately regretted her harsh words. She immediately hugged ZhouXiang, feeling immense pain, “Ah Xiang. I'm sorry. I shouldn't blame you. It's not your fault. It's mom forcing you to such measures…..”
ZhouXiang sobbed, “Mom. Don’t say that. You shouldn't know about this.”
ChenYing cried, “How could you not tell me? You're my only child. You almost died. Regardless of what happens to me, I don't want you to be humiliated, not even for a bit. I need you to have your dignity and be an upright man."
ZhouXiang’s heart tightened, his eyes became blurry.
He didn't expect YanMingSu to play this hand, calling him out and simultaneously finding someone to put pressure on ChenYing. With ChenYing’s stubbornness, she'll likely refuse treatment now.
This person's attack is extremely ruthless. Although WangYuDong had made him resentful, he had never done anything impulsive. If YanMingSu is standing in front of him now, he will beat the crap out of him.
ZhouXiang is both furious and anxious. It started to turn black in front of his eyes.
How could he have overestimated himself, thinking that as long as he and YanMingXiu are in love with each other, all their problems can be solved? In reality, if they had really gotten to this step back then, it would have just been the beginning of their many challenges. In this case, he should be thankful that he died early? Otherwise, he wouldn't have known the things that happened after. Or should he begrudge that he died too early. If it was a year and a half later, he would have given up under such surmountable pressure.
Everything that had happened can't go back. If it was him from before (older ZhouXiang), what would he choose? Would he have whole-heartedly given it all for YanMingXiu to continue on this path till it is dark. Or know his place and retreat? He doesn't know, he really doesn't know. If the later matter with WangYuDong didn't happen, he would continue to faithfully love YanMingXiu. He could have inadvertently become a Casanova unknowingly.
But he knew that if it was the him now, he likely won't be able to do it.
This incident brought about the consequence he was most worried about. ChenYing insisted that he return the money and the condo, otherwise she would not continue on with her treatment.
ZhouXiang had no choice but to agree. With his current savings and ChenYing's current expenses, it would impossible for him to support the both of them for too long. He thought of borrowing money from LanXiRong but ChenYing may not agree. Adding on, how would he pay this person back?
After much thinking, he once again thought of his own condo.
As long as he sells the condo, all these problems will be solved.
ZhouXiang didn’t think that after going around in a circle and having exerted so much energy, he still has to resort to this step.
But now, even the condo is not in his name; unless YanMingXiu agrees to transfer it to him.
No matter what, he must see YanMingXiu. But how would YanMingXiu agree? …
ZhouXiang is so vexed that he wanted to hit his head against the wall. He hasn’t smoked for a long time, but today he hid on the balcony smoking several cigarettes. The cigarette butt burned to his hand and he wasn't even aware. He smoked seven to eight cigarettes. Then, he took out his cell phone to call YanMingSu.
The other side quickly picked up. ZhouXiang uttered gloomily, “YanMingSu, you playing this hand, I really fucking look down on you. It's fine for you to come at me. But you even have to make things difficult for a 60 plus year sickly women, is this meaningful to you?
YanMingSu is silent for two seconds, “I can probably guess what you are saying but I didn't do it. I only came for you today.”
ZhouXiang responded coldly, “Then this is such a coincidence. Right after you called me out, someone came to see my mom. How can the timing be so perfect?”
“I'll look into this and give you an answer when I find out. This kind of thing, if I did it, I will admit it. But this kind of method is not good, I won't use it. Oh right, I was just about to call you. I'm home right now. I've discussed with my dad. He allowed you to see MingXiu. I'll send a car to pick you up on the second day of the Lunar New Year.”
"I don't want to go to your house."
“My dad won't allow MingXiu to leave the house so you have to come. Why… are you scared?”
"You don’t have to provoke me. Actually, I am a bit scared. Three generations of your family are from the military, I am afraid that I won't be able to come back.”
ZhouXiang is serious when he said this but YanMingSu thought he was joking. He even smiled, “You're thinking too much. If we really were to get rid of you, just me is enough, don’t have to take you to my home. Text me your address in a moment.”
With things as they are, ChenYing and ZhouXiang weren't in the mood for the Lunar New Year. He called LanXiRong and told him that there had been a change with ChenYing’s condition and he needed to stay home.
LanXiRong was disappointed after hearing it but still insisted on coming to spend New Year's with them. ZhouXiang tried to persuade him but was useless so he could only allow him to come.
Upon hearing that LanXiRong was coming, ChenYing forced her spirit up and tidied up Aunt Wang's room so that he could to stay the night.
After being overly upset, ChenYing’s mood has been very depressed. When LanXiRong came over, he realized that she didn't seem quite right but because she's also a sickly person, he didn't think too much of it. Only ZhouXiang knew what was going on. Seeing that she couldn’t eat and sleep well, often looking at him with guilt and agony, he felt especially pained.
And this is just the beginning. The Yan family hasn't actually started to deal with him. What about later? And later after that?
ZhouXiang stood on the cold, windy balcony and looked at the moon. Today is New Year’s Eve. The outside world is extraordinarily festive and lively. This is a city that never sleeps. Everywhere is full of people and the sound of cars, pushing the atmosphere of the festival to its peak. But he felt that he couldn’t get into the mood at all. YanMingXiu’s face constantly appeared in front of his eyes, every one of his expressions made him worry.
There are many times he didn’t dare to admit it but he couldn’t lie to himself. From his past life to present… from the beginning to the end, his love for YanMingXiu had never stopped.
There are just too many emotions that have surpassed his suppressed feelings for YanMingXiu. He never deceived YanMingXiu. He really, really doesn't want to get back together with him. The advantage of having died once is that he no longer stubbornly persisted in getting what he couldn't get in his past life.
He just wanted to get a bit farther away from YanMingXiu to ensure his own safety so he could continue on living his life. Perhaps finding another person that he likes is not as difficult as he thinks, at least it's much simpler than gambling on his own future.
A soft voice came from behind. ZhouXiang turned his head and sees LanXiRong standing behind him.
“Xiang Ge, why are you standing outside in the cold? It's really freezing out here.”
ZhouXiang smiled and extinguished the cigarette butt and turned to walk into the home.
LanXiRong glanced at the cigarette butts ZhouXiang threw into the flower pot, it was full. There were more than 10 butts. He bunched up his brows.
“Xiang Ge, is something wrong?”
ZhouXiang looked at the cigarette butts, “Haven't smoked for a long time.”
“You didn't use to smoke so much. Is something troubling you?”
ZhouXiang shook his head.
"Is it because of YanMingXiu?" LanXiRong looked at him fixedly, his bright eyes filled with emotions.
ZhouXiang no longer evaded as he nodded, “XiRong. It may be difficult for you to understand me. I also can't explain it to you. Anyway… I've been tangled with him for years. It may have a thing to do with our destinies. You say… if there is such a thing as fate, that no matter what I do, it has already been decided? In fact, no matter what I do, it will still lead to the same outcome.”
LanXiRong looked at him in a daze.
ZhouXiang smiled embarrassingly, “How did I become so literary, how laughable. Let's go….go in and have some dumplings.”
LanXiRong grabbed onto him and says softly, “Xiang Ge, I know that you love him. In fact, I've always known. Your expressions, your behaviors, from beginning to end, I know that the person you love is him. Even though you say that you won't be with him anymore, I still feel that you are deceiving yourself. But Xiang Ge, you also understand yourself, you and him are not from the same world. Even if you can forgive him, would you be able to last with him?”
ZhouXiang smiled bitterly, “I know. I know this more than anyone else.”
“Xiang Ge, I know that the fate between us has passed. I didn't grasp onto it at the time. Now, no matter how hard I try, I can't get you back. Even thinking about this now is painful but I won't force you anymore. I only hope that you can be a bit more sensible. I don't want to see you suffer.”
ZhouXiang patted his shoulder, not knowing what to say.
If there is such a thing as fate, why should he even bother with resisting? After all, there is some invisible force messing with them. YanMingXiu once treated him as WangYuDong's substitute. When he was born again into this body, all the paths coincided, with history once again repeating itself. However, this time he became his own substitute. Is someone acting a good show or is there really such coincidences in the world?
ZhouXiang felt overwhelmingly exhausted. Sometimes when people live too clearly, it is actually better to be confused.
The three people passed a very dreary New Year's. After eating the dumplings, they slept early.
On the first day of the lunar New Years, LanXiRong had to work so he left early in the morning. ZhouXiang got up and did chores to pass the time. ChenYing stared dazedly in front of the TV. A day passed by just like that.
On the evening of the second Lunar year, he finally received a call from YanMingSu telling him that a car is waiting for him downstairs.
ZhouXiang changed his clothes and went downstairs, then got into the car. The reserved and silent driver didn’t say anything to him the entire time. He just drove him to the military compound of a military district near the embassy district.
The car parked in front of a three-story villa. When he got out of the car, he saw a soldier standing guard at the door. A person seemingly in charge was waiting for him.
“Mr. Zhou greetings. Please come with me.”
ZhouXiang wrapped his coat tighter around himself and followed the man into the house.
Several people were sitting in the room, all looking at him solemnly. This day, this moment, did not seem a bit like the New Year, it is more like judgment for a prisoner.
ZhouXiang had expected this kind of atmosphere before coming. He is very calm. He stood in the living room and waited to see what they would do. He swept his glance over and saw YanMingSu’s familiar face. The older couple must be the parents.
ZhouXiang humbly nodded politely.
YanMingXiu’s father snorted and turned his head. His mother creased her brows looking at ZhouXiang.
YanMingSu raised his hand before his dad spoke, “Dad, don’t talk. You promised me that you'll let me handle this."
His dad coughed once and glanced coldly at ZhouXiang, then turned his head.
YanMingSu stood up, “ZhouXiang, come with me.”
ZhouXiang followed him upstairs.
When they were passing through the living room, YanMingXiu’s mother suddenly stood up. Her hand held a tray as she headed in front of ZhouXiang and pleaded softly, “Young man, can you get my son to eat a bit of this?”
ZhouXiang doesn’t know why, his eyes are red.
She pushed the tray into ZhouXiang’s hand, “Can you get him to eat a bit of this?”
ZhouXiang took the tray and nodded, then quickly followed YanMingSu upstairs.
The two went to the innermost room on the third floor. YanMingSu knocked on the door, "MingXiu, he's here.”
Almost immediately, the door opened and YanMingXiu’s face appeared in front of ZhouXiang
Before ZhouXiang could even react, YanMingXiu had already rushed forward and instantly embraced him. YanMingXiu's grieving voice could be heard besides his ears, “Xiang Ge.”
YanMingSu furrowed his brows. He kept thinking that the way YanMingXiu addressed “Xiang Ge” sounded too familiar. He had a strange thought in his heart.
ZhouXiang could hardly stabilize the tray. His heart almost jumped out from this throat. He felt a deep sense of distress as he stood completely at loss, not knowing how to respond.
YanMingXiu is half a head taller than ZhouXiang. At this time, he bent down to bury his face on ZhouXiang's shoulder, exerting all his energy to breathe in ZhouXiang’s scent, trying desperately to be fully encapsulated in ZhouXiang's aura to unleash his many days of yearning.
He knew long ago that he could not be separated from ZhouXiang, nor could he imagine how unbearable it would be for him to be forcefully separated from him. Every day, he tells himself to be calm… calm, and more calm. This is a competition between him and his dad. He must not admit defeat but there were many times when he had wanted to jump down from the top floor. He wanted to go to ZhouXiang, immediately.
He didn’t know if he had already gone crazy. Maybe this is not yearning but a kind of panic. If he can't see ZhouXiang, he will panic; worried that ZhouXiang will disappear once again and he will once again fall into a hopeless abyss.
So only when he could hold firmly onto ZhouXiang could he feel safe.
YanMingSu pushed them into the room, “Go in and talk, don't let dad see this.”
The three people went into the room. The room's light was not lit. ZhouXiang glanced at YanMingXiu. He could smell the refreshing fragrance of bathing on YanMingXiu. He should have just cleaned himself but the haggardness on his face could not be washed away. He obviously got quite thin with his cheekbones slightly protruded. Seeing him like this made ZhouXiang's heart feel extreme agony.
YanMingXiu turned on the lights. The room seemed clean with traces of deliberate cleaning.
YanMingSu said coldly, “If he doesn't come, you really going to be at ease living in a doghouseT/N?”
T/N: YanMingXiu had been starving and not taking care of himself, along with leaving his room in a mess. It is only after knowing that ZhouXiang is coming that he deliberately cleaned himself and his room up. Hence, YanMingSu made this comment.
YanMingXiu has regained calmness. He looked at YanMingSu seriously and said earnestly, “Ge, you have to help me.”
YanMingSu responded sarcastically, "I'm not helping you, lest you end up with no descendants.”
“As long as our Yan family have you is enough. I don’t care whether or not I have children. I don’t like women at all. I won’t marry a woman. Mom and dad can give up on that thought.”
“What bullshit. How many years have you lived? You know what you want now but are you going to know what you want when you're 34? 44? 54? 84? These questions, those people who have lived to that age have given you the answer. You can’t not have children. When a person is young, it is inevitable to be foolish and confused. We are here to put you back on the right path.”
YanMingXiu said calmly, “Ge, you don’t believe in my feelings. I can tell you one thing. I've been waiting all along for him to come to tell you directly in person. I want you to know that you've gravely underestimated me.”
YanMingSu narrowed his eyes, “What?”
YanMingXiu pointed to ZhouXiang, “He is ZhouXiang.”
YanMingSu responded angrily, “Nonsense…”
ZhouXiang’s expression instantly changed, wanting to stop YanMingXiu but it was too late.
YanMingSu’s brain churned and immediately realized that this didn't sound right.
YanMingXiu remained calm as he continued, “He is ZhouXiang. He is that (older) ZhouXiang. The ZhouXiang you thought was dead.”
YanMingSu widened his eyes and gritted his teeth, “You…do you know what the hell you're talking about!? Are you out of your mind from being starved!?”
End of the chapter