LanXiRong arrived very soon, but he didn't go into the restaurant. Instead, he waited for them in the parking lot. After all, it would be very troublesome to be recognized.
ZhouXiang was afraid that his mom will think askew, so he told her before they got into the car that LanxiRong is just a friend.
LanXiRong parked the car in a corner of the parking lot and waited by the car.
Seeing ZhouXiang, his mom, and the auntie approaching, LanXiRong lowered the scarf that was covering half his face and smiled as he walked over to greet them, Xiang Ge, Auntie.”
“Oh hey, isn't this ……” Aunt Wang screamed exaggeratedly.
ChenYing's eyes also widened as she stared. Even though she has long known that her son works in the entertainment circle, she's always felt that he is a far distance from the stars. That is because she has yet to see ZhouXiang on TV. All the celebrities that she knew are all on TV, so she didn't expect that these big stars are regularly around her son. Since she and Auntie Wang usually have nothing much to do at home, watching TV was their only entertainment so they are familiar with most of the stars. This young man left a deep impression on them because he is too beautiful and cute. When he smiles, his smile is so bright and warmly, making him so likable. Even people their age would love to have a son like him.
LanXiRong revealed his professional smile, his eyes curved into a crescent shape as he greeted the aunties, addressing them so sweetly.
Both ChenYing and Auntie Wang were so enamored by him that they kept asking LanXiRong all sorts of questions along the way, such as how old he is, whether he has a significant other, how could his English be so good, and if he had any other family members, etc. ZhouXiang essentially became an onlooker.
After taking the two old ladies home, ZhouXiang heaved a sigh of relief, feeling a bit embarrassed, “They don’t usually have contact with anyone … don't mind them.”
LanXiRong turned his head and looked at him deeply, “Xiang Ge, you don't have to be so modest with me.”
For a moment, ZhouXiang couldn’t adapt to the fact that LanXiRong already knew of his identity. He's always felt awkward and could only force himself to smile.
LanXiRong unclasped his seat belt and leaned over.
ZhouXiang blinked, a bit on guard.
“I want to look at you,” LanXiRong said softly, looking directly into ZhouXiang's eyes.
ZhouXiang sighed, “Look at what.”
LanXiRong reached his hand out and touched his face, “Look at you… look at your face, I want to quickly adapt to your face.”
LanXiRong’s young and beautiful face is very close, so close that ZhouXiang could see the fine hairs on his face in the dim light. His amber eyes filled with hopes and sorrows, as if they could pierce his heart.
LanXiRong reached out and hugged him, his body slightly shaking, “Xiang Ge… Xiang Ge… Is it really you? Is it you? Are you really alive? I still don't dare believe it. I don't dare believe that I could be so lucky, that you are actually still alive. Xiang Ge…” LanXiRong whimpered. His arms tightened as if he was afraid that ZhouXiang would slip away.
He really missed this person a lot. He would never forget the kind of immense pain and despair he felt when he heard of his devastating news three years ago. He was at a complete loss. He could not forget ZhouXiang. He could not forget this person who had given him so much care and warmth in his most desperate times. He could not forget how he had failed to live up to his kindness, nor could he forget his own ignorant, indistinctive but genuine love toward this person.
ZhouXiang combed through his soft hair with his hands, “XiRong. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hide it from you.” When there are only two people in the world who knew who he is, any feelings and sentiments from the other person made him feel exceptionally warm.
“That's not important. As long as you are alive, nothing matters.” LanXiRong breathed in ZhouXiang's warmth, his heart feeling full of gratitude.
As long as you are still alive…
LanXiRong is so moved, he wanted to cry.
ZhouXiang comforted him for a long time before LanXiRong let him go. The rims of his are eyes red, but still didn't leave his sight as he diligently looked at his face.
ZhouXiang touched his own face and smiled, “In fact, this is quite good. I'm younger and handsomer than before.”
LanXiRong forcefully lifted the corners of his mouth into a faint smile, "I still like how you looked before." After he said that, he regretted it a bit. After all, ZhouXiang should be the one feeling the most pained. He quickly added, “This is also good…”
ZhouXiang smiled mindlessly, “I also like how I use to look. I've adapted to this face for quite some time now. But, it's all good…as long as I can still live.”
LanXiRong exposed a smiling and crying expression.
ZhouXiang softly uttered a few comforting words. LanXiRong’s emotions that had just calmed down suddenly thought of something and his face sank. He gloomily asked, “Xiang Ge, you and YanMingXiu…” LanXiRong gritted his teeth, but can't say anything else.
He couldn't understand how even after ZhouXiang had changed into a different body, he could still get involved with YanMingXiu. No matter at what time, he (YanMingXiu) is always a step ahead of him…..
ZhouXiang’s face changed slightly, his voice dejected, “You also know it.”
The entertainment industry is originally a place without secrets. Every movements and words are under the scrutiny of many pairs of eyes. That holds true the more well-known a person is. These people might not dare to make irresponsible remarks about YanMingXiu so they will naturally point their fingers at him. Although he has not been to the company these days, he is aware that the news of him being YanMingXiu's kept lover will definitely be scandalously publicized by WangYuDong.
But he didn't care. Right now he only cares for whatever that could be beneficial for him. What can be more reliable than money? Moreover, he has not been able to get rid of the feeling of living under someone else's skin. Any attack on him didn't seem to really be him. Although this is only to comfort himself, it is the most effective defense mechanism.
LanXiRong's voice sounded a bit piercing, “Xiang Ge, why did you have to be with him? Do you still like him? It was him who got you killed, why do you still like him!”
ZhouXiang responded faintly, “I don’t like him, I just need money.”
“Then why didn't you come to me!”
ZhouXiang smiled bitterly, “XiRong, you want me to come find you and tell you that I am ZhouXiang and then borrow a lot of money from you? Although I can be quite shameless, I really can't open my mouth.”
LanXiRong's expression looked deeply hurt, "Why are you sacrificing yourself? Auntie Chen, she… she is not your…(real mother)…”
“XiRong, your family is harmonious, safe and sound. I am very envious, so you can’t understand me. I especially want to have a mother. Regardless of my age, I still want to have a mother. As a result, I really have one when I woke up. Although she is not really my mother, I still want to take care of her. After all, I've taken over her son’s body; her son had completely disappeared from this world. Be it for emotional or rationale reasons, I can't abandon her. She is sick, I want to do anything I can to treat her. I have to take care of her till she passed and do whatever her son should have done."
“Why must it be YanMingXiu, why must it be him? Xiang Ge, don’t you hate him?”
ZhouXiang is startled as he muttered slowly, “It's not a matter of hate or not hate. I just have to do what I needed to do. I've been with him for half a year. It'll be over in half a year.”
LanXiRong grabbed his shoulder, his eyes penetrating, “How much do you owe? I'll pay it off. You break it off with him right now.”
LanXiRong voiced sternly, “Xiang Ge, since you came back from the dead. You should live a new life now. Why do you still want to continue on tangling with him?! I'll help you pay off your debt. I don't need you to do anything for me. If you want to pay it back then fine, if not, it's okay too. I only ask that you not be involved with YanMingXiu again. Give me a chance. Xiang Ge. I've always been thinking about you. Look at me. This time, can you just look at me?”
ZhouXiang grabbed LanXiRong’s arm and said seriously, “XiRong. Between YanMingXiu and I, our deal will soon be settled. What I take from him and what I take from you is all the same to me. You understand? I don’t want to owe anybody."
“I don’t think of it as you owing me, I just want to…”
“XiRong, I know that you want to help me. You just need to help me keep this secret. That's my biggest favor. Let me solve my own matters. XiRong, your Xiang Ge (referring to himself) does not have much ability, but the things that I can do, I don't want to rely on others. Don’t worry about me, okay?”
“Not possible,” LanXiRong’s eyes are bloodshot as he stared at ZhouXiang. “Xiang Ge, do you still want him to get you killed again? How could you not have learned your lesson?….You…” Subconsciously, he doesn't believe that ZhouXiang went to YanMingXiu because he had no other options. If there is no YanMingXiu, ZhouXiang would eventually come to find him. If it wasn't because that person is YanMingXiu… He always thought that ZhouXiang would do that. This is simply because that person is YanMingXiu, everything else, are just excuses that ZhouXiang found for himself.
However, it's likely that ZhouXiang himself isn't even aware of this. His biggest advantage now is that YanMingXiu still didn't know that this (younger) ZhouXiang is that (older) ZhouXiang. For YanMingXiu to suffer an entire lifetime because he had lost ZhouXiang is the best punishment for causing ZhouXiang's death.
The most important thing now is to sever the ties between ZhouXiang and YanMingXiu. Even people who have little contact with ZhouXiang have their doubts, YanMingXiu definitely has some awareness. They must be separated, must be……
LanXiRong’s brain is churning fast, trying desperately to figure a way to get the both far away from each other.
Just when the two were at a standstill, ZhouXiang's phone suddenly rang in the quiet car.
ZhouXiang trembled as he quickly picked up, the call is from CaiWei.
“Hey, Wei Ge.”
“ZhouXiang, where are you now?”
“I'm downstairs of my home.”
“Downstairs? What are you doing downstairs on such chilling day?”
ZhouXiang responded, “Ah, XiRong came to find me.”
CaiWei is silent for a moment, “You guys wait over there. I'm coming over immediately. I have something important to discuss with you.”
With the confined space in the car, his words where clearly heard. CaiWei’s tone was particularly imposing. After hanging up, the two looked at each, not knowing what was going on.
CaiWei arrived in a little over 20 minutes. He didn’t get off the car but had them follow his car.
LanXiRong drove behind CaiWei. CaiWei took them to a guest room in a hotel.
After CaiWei entered the room, he didn't say anything. He first went to pour them three glasses of liquor.
The two of them didn't understand as they followed behind and looked at CaiWei.
CaiWei's anger from before had not yet dissipated, so no matter how happy he is, he was not too affectionate facing ZhouXiang. But today, his attitude has eased a lot. Even when he is looking at ZhouXiang, his expression is extremely hesitant, tinged of pity…..
ZhouXiang is starting to feel more and more unsettled. He grabbed the glass of liquor handed by CaiWei and revealed a trace of smile, "Wei Ge, what is it?”
CaiWei pointed at the liquor, “Drink first.”
ZhouXiang drank the liquor in one gulp and stared at CaiWei.
CaiWei sat across from him. He glanced at ZhouXiang and then at LanXiRong again and then finally looked back at ZhouXiang. He opened his mouth, his tone heavy, “Ah Xiang, I want to tell you something. I hope you are mentally prepared.”
ZhouXiang is a bit nervous, but still remain calm, “Wei Ge, say it. I'm a person who has died once, there's nothing that I can't bear.”
CaiWei heaved a sigh, “Do you remember the earthquake that struck the border between Guizhou and Guangxi last month?”
“Of course I remember. I was in the mountains at the time.”
“That earthquake… because the magnitude was low, there was little damage so it didn't cause too much of an impact. But… I got a call today from a crew who went into the mountain with you to shoot the documentary film back then.”
ZhouXiang’s lips trembled, his eyes glared at CaiWei with his expression looking hideous.
CaiWei nodded, “The earthquake caused some changes in the mountain. The locals might have found….your…body.”
CaiWei habitually wanted to say "corpse" but that didn’t feel right. But no matter how he puts it, it won't change the effect this finding would have on ZhouXiang.
ZhouXiang slowly bent down and gently clutched his head.
End of the chapter