T/N: For the coming 7 days, Rosy (who does the updates) will be traveling abroad. So…updates will be posted at irregular times. There will also be 3-4 days when there is no internet connection so no updates will be posted on those days, unless there is wifi access. It will resume once there is connection. I’ll try not to leave it at a cliff-hanger.
The place that CaiWei told ZhouXiang to go was actually the small XinJiang restaurant that they often went to when they were struggling in those few years after graduating. In his memory, this restaurant has been in existence for at least 20 years. It has always had a small entrance with antiquated decor but the business was always good. There was a fat uncle of Uighur nationality who was both the manager and chef. You can always hear his boisterous laughter from very far away.
At that time, after he and CaiWei got off work, they often came here to have a meal, drink some wine, and then talked about the kind of life they would live if they became wealthy in the future.
In the end, neither he nor CaiWei became very wealthy people but they are very content with their lives. Toward this small restaurant, they also have very sentimental feelings so they would come by every so often. However, it became lesser and lesser over time. Especially since CaiWei had gotten use to going out with various big bosses and celebrities to luxurious hotels and restaurants. Sitting in a dinky restaurant like this wearing a suit worth a few thousands seemed out of place.
ZhouXiang didn't expect CaiWei to want to see him here.
This small restaurant is still the same as before. ZhouXiang recognized it from far away.
He went straight into a reserved room, CaiWei was already waiting for him inside and the table is full of food that they liked to eat and often ordered at the time. There are six to seven bottles of beer in the middle of the table, and two bottles of white wine.
ZhouXiang is very familiar with this setting. CaiWei wanted to get drunk.
“Wei Ge,” ZhouXiang felt a little nervous. His intuition tells him that the purpose of CaiWei looking for him is because of the matters with YanMingXiu.
CaiWei glanced at him deeply, “Sit. I've already ordered.”
ZhouXiang sat in a chair at a distance that he felt is safe from CaiWei. He did this subconsciously but in CaiWei's eyes, it felt deliberate.
CaiWei opened the bottles and poured two glasses, each of beer and liquor.
ZhouXiang nodded, “Wei Ge, you are looking for me today…”
CaiWei clashed their glasses, “Bottom up.”
ZhouXiang’s lips trembled a bit. This familiar atmosphere made him feel a little helpless.
He simply grabbed the bottle and boldly poured a large glass to suppress his fears.
After drinking it, CaiWei got straight to the point, “I heard about you and YanMingXiu. Tell me the truth, is it true or false? If you really treat me as a brother(T/N), don’t hide it from me.”
T/N: CaiWei and ZhouXiang's close friendship are almost like that of brothers so they would affectionately use brothers to address each other in this sense. This is why ZhouXiang addresses CaiWei's wife as sister-in-law.
ZhouXiang wiped his mouth. He didn’t dare to look at CaiWei but instead at the steaming hot dishes on the table, “It’s true.”
CaiWei's hand that was holding the bottle of wine froze, then he slammed it heavily on the table and raised his hand to fiercely slap ZhouXiang's head, “You dumb fuck!!”
ZhouXiang lowered his head with his lips pressed, not saying anything.
“For what? What is it that you want? Money? Status? Tell me, what is it that you want?”
ZhouXiang slowly turned his face and looked at CaiWei, his eyes a little red, “Money.”
Seeing his expression, CaiWei's entire person is stunned. Then he dropped his hand, seeming as if he is exhausted at once.
ZhouXiang's voice trembled, “Wei Ge, sorry, I've let you down.”
CaiWei sighed heavily, his heart full of helplessness.
“Son of a bitch. Money is a bitch……" CaiWei murmured, “Is your mother better?”
CaiWei depressingly drank a few gulps, “You chose this path. Don’t regret it.”
ZhouXiang shook his head, “There's nothing worth…worth regretting.”
“Then I'll give you these words of warning, just take the money but don't think of anything else. YanMingXiu already has someone(T/N) in his heart, no others can get in.”
T/N: CaiWei knows that the person YanMingxiu has in his heart is older ZhouXiang
ZhouXiang smiled and laughed at himself, “Okay.”
This point…nobody else can understand it better than him, who had experienced it in two lifetimes.
CaiWei swayed the wine bottle and hit it on the old table, smiling bitterly, “ZhouXiang ah ZhouXiang, ZhouXiang……tell me, is this name cursed? Why is it always planted in this person's hand, why……fucking why?"
ZhouXiang silently poured the wine. Wine is a good thing. Once drunk, everything is forgotten.
CaiWei touched the table, “Do you know what this place is?” He asked but answered it himself, “This is the place where my brother (older ZhouXiang) and I often hang out at. I really want to drink with him again.”
ZhouXiang sniffed his nose. He had an impulse in wanting to tell CaiWei the truth, “Wei Ge, I…”
Unexpectedly, CaiWei turned to look at him at this time. His expression is very deep and heavy, as if he is speculating something.
"ZhouXiang, sometimes I feel that I really can't understand you."
ZhouXiang is startled, “Wei Ge?”
ZhouXiang don't know what CaiWei wanted to say.
“You make me feel……you're too much like him. So much that sometimes XiRong and I suspect that you two are one person."
ZhouXiang is shocked.
CaiWei patted ZhouXiang’s shoulder, “There are a few things I've never asked but holding it in has been suffocating. First, I never told you about me going to Lao Zhou's place to eat, how did you know that his wife made sweet and sour pork ribs? You even told Lao Zhou that I told you that. ZhouXiang, why did you tell this lie?”
Having beer combined with wine, CaiWei's timely alcohol tolerance is astonishing. At this time, he is already drunk; ZhouXiang is also the same. The two didn't even eat a bite of food. They came to drink and now both are drunk.
Maybe because ZhouXiang is drunk that he dared to say these words.
ZhouXiang subconsciously lied and vaguely responded, “I… I heard from others."
“Heard from whom?"
ZhouXiang shook his head, “I don’t remember.”
“This… you don't remember, then what about my daughter? You remember that? Nobody in the entire company knew that my wife was initially pregnant with twins because only one child was born. Except for ZhouXiang, except for my brother ZhouXiang, no one knew. How did you know? Huh? How did you fucking know?"
CaiWei moved closer and closer, finally he grabbed onto ZhouXiang’s collar. Half of his body slammed onto ZhouXiang's chest as he shouted at him, “ZhouXiang! ZhouXiang, brother, which ZhouXiang are you!? Why are you so much like my brother!? What fucking right do you have to be so much like my brother!? Who are you, ZhouXiang?!”
“Wei Ge, Wei Ge, you drank too much. I'll take you home okay?”
CaiWei gripped his collar, pulling him closer and closer, finally he showed a look that made ZhouXiang felt intense pain and guilt. He hoarsely muttered, “Wei Ge, I'm sorry.”
“Why are you sorry toward me? Tell me, how did you know about these things?" CaiWei clutched tightly onto ZhouXiang’s arm and stared into his eyes.
ZhouXiang took a deep breath, “Wei Ge, I'll take you back first, I…”
CaiWei refused to let him go, his voice hoarse, "These things… I didn't intend on saying or asking but I didn't expect you to be with YanMingXiu. How can there be so many coincidences in the world? One after another…” CaiWei's expressions are a little perplexed, his pupil gradually lost focus.
The two men drank too fast and now they were all dizzy. ZhouXiang's emotions are also riled up as he sobbed over and over again, "Wei Ge, sorry, so sorry."
“Sorry my ass….." CaiWei carelessly cursed, leaning onto ZhouXiang.
ZhouXiang paid the bill and supported him out of the restaurant to hail for a cab.
CaiWei was still mumbling in the car. He probably didn’t know what he is talking about or what he wanted to asked as he momentarily mentioned his and ZhouXiang’s past, and then moved on to say ZhouXiang was not a good friend.
ZhouXiang suppressed his urge to tell CaiWei everything as he took him home. He didn’t dare to stay. After getting CaiWei settled, he said a few words to his sister-in-law (CaiWei's wife) and left.
Getting down to the street, the cold winter breeze made him more awake from the alcohol. He walked toward the direction of his home and started to seriously ponder over whether or not to confess to CaiWei.
Initially, he didn't dare to tell anyone because he was afraid that no one would believe him. Instead, they would treat him like an alien. After all, how could he ask others to believe something so improbable and far-fetched? Later, it was because he had financial difficulties and didn't want to 'force' CaiWei to help him. Now, all these concerns have been alleviated. No matter how he thought about it, CaiWei has always been his most trusted buddy. Whether it was before or in the present, CaiWei has continuously helped him with everything. When he thought of CaiWei feeling guilty and pained over his death, ZhouXiang also felt tormented.
Maybe telling CaiWei everything would free the both of them from these tormented binds.
At least, CaiWei will no longer blame himself because of him. As for him, he won't have to carry the burden of keeping this big secret. With a person to confide in, it can validate that him, ZhouXiang, had once lived as another person. This can also be considered redemption for himself.
Maybe with CaiWei's help, he can get back his parents' relics. He no longer had any hope to get his condo back, but at least with the things in his home that were filled with his childhood memories, he wanted to get them all back.
ZhouXiang pondered over and over. Finally in the end, he decided to find an appropriate time to tell CaiWei the truth. He'll just wait… wait until CaiWei sobers up. Then, he'll bring two bottles of good wine, find a quiet place and tell CaiWei everything, hoping that CaiWei can forgive him.
The next day, ZhouXiang didn’t go to the company. He guessed that CaiWei couldn’t get up so he (ZhouXiang) simply didn’t go.
He had left home for more than two weeks so he should spend some time with ChenYing. This afternoon, he went with ChenYing to the hospital for her dialysis treatment.
Although ChenYing’s health has been recovering very well, having to do dialysis twice a week really wears down a person's willpower. She can't go far nor can she do heavy work. It's like her whole life is shackled to the hospital. Although ChenYing doesn’t complain, ZhouXiang could always see her unconsciously sighing.
On the way home, ChenYing was sighing again. ZhouXiang couldn’t help but asked, “Mom, why are you always sighing lately, aren’t we good now?”
ChenYing smiled, “I'm thinking…I'm thinking about when you can get married?”
ZhouXiang smiled, “This…”
“I'm not saying that you must marry a wife. It's fine even if you find a good boyfriend. You'll be twenty-seven years old after this year. It's not good to be alone. Mom may not be here any day. You can't always just stay with an old lady.”
"What are you saying? As long as you keep up with the treatments, you'll have no problem living for another two to three decades.”
ChenYing giggled, “I don’t want to live that long. That's torture. Ah Xiang, you really haven't found anyone compatible? Don't be afraid. Mom really doesn't mind. The two years you were in a coma, I've opened up. Whether it is a man or woman, whether or not there are grandkids, nothing is more important than your health and your happiness. At that time I thought, even if you are paralyzed, as long as you can open your eyes and look at me, I'm willing to take care of you for life. So your homosexuality is not a big deal, I've long not cared about it. As long as you're happy, as long as it's someone you like, bring him home to meet me. Mom won't object."
ZhouXiang smiled forcefully, "Mom, if there is suitable person, I'll definitely bring him home to meet you. It's just that I really don’t have time to find one right now. I'm too busy with work.”
ChenYing “Oh,” but still unwilling to give up, "Find a decent person but he can't wear skirts and make-up.”
ZhouXiang is dumbfounded, “Mom, where are you heading…”
"Everyone is here." YanMingXiu said to Team Leader Wang as he glanced at LanXiRong and CaiWei.
LanXiRong had just returned to New York for less than half a month when he received CaiWei's call. He immediately dropped his work there and rushed back. No work can be more important than catching the thief.
He wanted ZhouXiang's things to return to the way it was before.
Team Leader Wang nodded and gestured the subordinate to begin playing the surveillance video.
Several people sat around the computer and concentrated on the screen.
Team Leader Wang explained, “According to Mr. Lan, the suspect appeared at about 3:30am in the morning. This is one of the three surveillance cameras at the intersection. Since it is impossible to determine when the suspect entered the home, we will first start looking at after 2:00am. If Mr. Lan could not see the assumed suspect, then we'll start looking before 2:00am. We at least have to watch from 10:00pm the evening before or maybe even earlier or later. If we can't find him on this surveillance camera, there are two other ones. As long as the suspect isn't someone falling from the sky, he won't be able to escape capture from these three cameras. But everyone…please be mentally prepared, this is a very time-consuming effort. Especially for Mr. Lan, since you are the only witness, you'll need to concentrate even more.”
LanXiRong nodded, “No problem, play it.”
YanMingXiu look at him gloomily, “Look carefully. Identify the thief or you will also become a suspect.”
LanXiRong glared at him but didn’t respond as he started to focus on the screen.
CaiWei also looked carefully. He remembered hearing ZhouXiang's continuous apologies near his ears when he was drunk the other day. He always felt that there was something suppressing his heart that couldn't be swallowed, making him very uncomfortable. He felt that he had come in contact with something but that thing is covered in a thick veil. Looking at the surveillance video that looked very blurry under the dim street lights, he had a strange feeling that he could find something here.
Starting from two o'clock, several people concentrated on the screen.
Since there were relatively few people appear at this time, they were able to catch those passing by once in a while. But unfortunately, from 2am-4am, LanXiRong did not see the suspect's shadow from his memory in this video.
Team Leader Wang voiced, "We'll check out the next video starting at the crucial time period first. If nothing can be found from the period of 2am-4am on all the three surveillance cameras, we'll expand the time range starting from the first video again."
After he said that, the second video captured by the surveillance camera is displayed on the screen.
The few people were tired from watching the video, especially LanXiRong, who barely dared to blink.
When the video was played at 3:37am, a person suddenly appeared on the screen coming out from the side door. His footwork was a bit impatient with his movements in between fast walking and running. At this time, he was the only person on the main street. His hasty expression looked very suspicious.
LanXiRong's heart jumped erratically. He was just about to open his mouth when Team Leader shouted out first, "Stop!"
The little police officer immediately stopped the video.
Several people held their breath and looked at Team Leader Wang. YanMingXiu asked, “What? Is it him?”
“Zoom in, zoom in and see.” Team Leader Wang looked at LanXiRong, “Mr. Lan? This person’s movements are too suspicious. Take a closer look. Is it him?”
YanMingXiu faintly felt that this person's back was somewhat familiar, but the way this man runs, he was limping a little. YanMingXiu could not see his walking posture and the picture was so dark and blurry that he couldn't see clearly.
LanXiRong stared at the screen. He had an impression of the person's clothes. At the time, the thief was wearing a pair of jeans with a blue long-sleeved shirt but the person on the screen did not wear hat and sunglasses. The lighting was too dark and the person was too far away from the camera. More importantly, the person on the screen was almost facing away from them so they could not see the face at all.
The more it was magnified, the blurrier the person became.
Although he couldn't see the face, LanXiRong was still certain that this was that thief.
Not to mention the back looked familiar. His limping posture alone was the foot that he stepped on. He definitely won't forget.
Looking at this person's back again, LanXiRong even thought that this back very similar to the MV scene he saw that day of ZhouXiang's back as he was running. Not only is the back profile similar, even the posture…. How could there be such a coincidence?
A series of questions raised in LanXiRong's heart. The foremost is whether or not ZhouXiang really is this thief? Although it was only a back view, at this time, LanXiRong’s mind could no longer restrain from thinking all kinds of wild thoughts.
That person's name, the way he talks, his career…
And what Team Leader Wang said, “The door lock was opened with a spare key.”
All these seemingly chaotic pieces of information coming together gave rise to a shocking speculation in LanXiRong mind. Because of this speculation, he was unable to tell the truth.
LanXiRong concealed his own turbulent emotions and said calmly, “Not him. That thief did not wear these clothes."
Team Leader Wang is surprised, “Mr. Lan, are you sure? Look carefully. We've watched it for a long time. He is most suspicious.”
YanMingXiu also bunched his brows at LanXiRong. He had never trusted LanXiRong. So at this time, he is even more suspicious. But he couldn't ascertain whether he (LanXiRong) was telling the truth or not.
LanXiRong said calmly, “Not this person. The figure and clothes are completely different.”
Team Leader Wang is very disappointed as he helplessly muttered, “Then let’s continue to look more.”
CaiWei looked deeply at LanXiRong. He was sitting closest to LanXiRong. When the person appeared on the screen, he clearly saw LanXiRong’s expression change with his body leaning forward. If it wasn’t for Team Leader Wang calling stop first, LanXiRong’s mouth was about to call stop. He knew that LanXiRong was lying. As for why LanXiRong would lie, he must find out.
They watched the videos late into the afternoon; until they were dizzy and could not watch anymore. Looking very concentratedly, but still they didn't see anyone suspicious. Seeing as such, they would need to expand the time frame and continue to watch the videos. But it is obvious that none of them could continue on today. Team Leader Wang set a time for the next viewing with them and escorted the three people out of the door.
When they reached the door, YanMingXiu glanced at LanXiRong and said coldly, “You're sure that your eyes have no problems right?"LanXiRong 'humph' and responded, “My eyes are very good. I won't mistake the wrong person and won't miss what I shouldn't miss.”
YanMingXiu’s expression darkened. Toward LanXiRong's sarcasm, he couldn't refute. Instead, his eyes exhibited bottomless sorrow and sadness, emotions so intensely deep that it shocked LanXiRong and CaiWei to their cores.
He faintly swept the two people a glance, “Let me know immediately when you have information.” After he said that, he got into the car and left.
LanXiRong watched his car leave and let out a sigh inaudibly.
CaiWei clasp onto LanXiRong’s shoulder from behind and said, “XiRong, I was sitting next to you earlier. All your expression and movements, I saw it all. You can't hide it from me. You were lying. I want to know why.”
LanXiRong slowly turned around, his voice trembled, “Wei Ge, I don’t know how to say this. My brain is in a mess right now.”
CaiWei refused to let him go, “Let’s find a place. I'll sit and wait for you to explain everything!"
End of the Chapter