Author: Lizonka

If you enjoy what I do, consider buying me a coffee here:

Chapter 36

This year, Nanchuang’s annual party was held in Nice, France. Everyone from mid-level management to executives went. From the company’s Beijing headquarters alone, there were more than seventy people.

Chen Shan and the others were all extremely envious, and they repeatedly begged He Gu to bring back souvenirs from France. He Gu ignored them as he wasn’t planning to go anyway.

He needed to focus on finishing up his projects at hand, as well as look for a suitable renovation company for his apartment. Not only that, he also had to prepare everything for his mom and Susu’s New Year visit. All of that had to be done by He Gu himself. Although Chen Shan was his assistant, she wasn’t his personal assistant. In addition, He Gu had always been independent and reluctant to trouble others with his issues. With everything going on, it really wasn’t ideal for He Gu to go on a five-day trip to France. Considering the long travelling time and jet lag, he would be wasting an entire week.

Later on, He Gu would occasionally think back to this day and the surprising decision he made that shocked everyone around him. If he had just gone to France back then, would everything be different now?1Liz: Oh no, I’m getting another alternate canon fanfic idea…

In the last week before Chinese New Year, the company chartered a private plane and flew away from the chilling weather of Beijing toward the sunny paradise of Southern France. 

Once He Gu contacted a renovation company that had long ties with Nanchuang, he decided to go see for himself the apartment he had grown up in. 

The apartment was situated in the third ring. It was in a good area, and the value of the property had risen exponentially in the last decade. Although the state of the apartment was quite old and was only eighty square meters, it was more than enough for He Gu to live in by himself.  

He Gu hadn’t been back to that apartment in a very long time. To be honest, he may have been consciously avoiding going back. But it wasn’t until he stepped into the space again that he realized that amongst the bitter memories, there were also hints of his beautiful and joyous childhood, as well as the fading shadow of his once wholesome family. 

He Gu spent some time discussing his ideas with the interior designer he regularly worked with. As someone that worked in this industry, he had many contacts he could use for his apartment renovation—from designers, contractors, and to suppliers, he would be able to save quite a lot for this project. After going through all the details, they decided to start work after the Chinese New Year. 

Having settled the renovation for his apartment, He Gu invited them all out for dinner. By the time he got home, it was already well past nine. 

The moment the elevator doors opened, he could hear the sound of loud music echoing down the corridor. The sound was so clear and loud, there was no way it was coming from a television. In fact, it sounded more like a live performance.

The apartment block he lived in only had two properties per floor. Surely it wasn’t the neighbor, so could it be…

He Gu walked over and stood in front of his apartment. Even without pressing up against the door, he could hear the loud music echoing in his ears. In the quiet night, the high volume and vibrating base of the music was especially annoying. He Gu felt a headache brewing in his temples. 

After pausing for a second, the first thought that popped into He Gu’s mind was Song Juhan. 

He leaned against the wall, completely exhausted. 

What does Song Juhan want? What is he even doing here?!

He Gu hesitated for a moment before deciding to go to a hotel for the night. As he turned to leave, his neighbor’s door was yanked open by the middle-aged woman living next door. When she saw him standing there, her expression soured immediately as she said, “Hey, Mr… Mr. He.”

“Hello.” He Gu nodded his head awkwardly. 

The woman raised her voice in frustration, “What in the world is going on in your house? It’s so late already, and you’re making so much noise. My son has school tomorrow!”

“I’m sorry, some friends must’ve come over…”

“What kind of friends are they? I’ve been knocking on the door for the whole afternoon, but no one’s answered. If this continues, I’ll have to call the police!”

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry. I’ll tell them to stop immediately.”

“Hurry up, my son needs to go to sleep. Such inconsiderate people!” The woman complained as she slammed the door in He Gu’s face.

Helpless, He Gu took out his keys and opened the door.

The moment the door opened, the loud music stopped abruptly. He Gu’s eyes widened as he looked around. It turned out it wasn’t just Song Juhan in his apartment—he had actually brought over his entire creative team!

Apart from Song Juhan, there were also his longtime collaborators, such as his producer, composer, and others he hadn’t seen before. Sitting on the side was Song Juhan’s keyboardist, Ah Sheng, and of course, Xiao Song was also there.

At a loss for words, Xiao Song looked sadly at He Gu.

He Gu’s face darkened as he looked around, his eyes eventually landing on Song Juhan. “What are you doing here?” he gritted out.

From the side of his eye, Ah Sheng waved at him casually. “Hey, He Gu.” 

Song Juhan sat comfortably on the sofa with his legs stretched out in front of him and a scatter of sheet music around his lap. “You’re back,” he said indifferently. 

He Gu squinted his eyes and gritted out slowly, enunciating each word, “What. are. you. doing. here?”

Song Juhan shrugged. “They said they were lacking creative inspiration and needed a change of scene, so I brought them to this safe and comfortable place.2Liz: *heart clenches* Juhan ah, how could you still not understand how you feel for He Gu” 


“What?” Song Juhan cut him off. “Why can’t I come here? It’s not like I came here to look for you. I was just looking for a place to write music.3Liz: You f*cking tsundere, just admit it, you missed He Gu!” He stated matter-of-factly.

Xiao Song had an expression on his face as if to say, “Just kill me now.”

He Gu clenched his fists in anger. “This is a residential area. There are neighbors around that are threatening to call the police!”

“Oh… I’m soooo scared,” said one of Song Juhan’s teammates sarcastically. His voice was oddly slow as his words slurred together. In fact, he seemed somewhat intoxicated. 

He Gu walked towards the group of people in an attempt to grab Song Juhan so they could speak privately. As he approached them, a strange smell assaulted his nostrils. The smell was hard to describe. It was a pungent, slightly offensive smell similar to burning grass. He Gu frowned as he said, “What is this smell?”

Ah Sheng lifted his hand to his lips, then pinched his thumb and forefinger together before blowing out a deep breath. “Inspiration,” he said without a care in the world, then proceeded to burst into a fit of giggles. 

He Gu’s mind blanked for a second before everything fell into place. Immediately snapping out of his daze, he realized what was going on… Were they smoking marijuana?!

All He Gu could do was stare incredulously at Song Juhan. 

Song Juhan threw aside his scoresheets and raised his chin in a gesture to say “Let’s talk somewhere else.”

Quickly putting down his work bag, He Gu walked into the bedroom with Song Juhan. 

The second the door closed behind him, He Gu turned on Song Juhan and said in a low voice, “What do you think you’re doing? Why have you come all this way to smoke up here!?”

“They said they needed to smoke to get inspiration.” Song Juhan stared steadily at He Gu, his eyes never once leaving the other man’s face. “Don’t worry, I never touch that stuff. I need to protect my voice.”

“But still, you can’t do this in my home…” He Gu was halfway through his sentence when he felt his words catch in his throat. He gritted his teeth and continued, “Song Juhan, I know you bought this apartment, and yes, I will return it to you soon—very soon. But right now, I’m still living here. Can you please take your friends and leave?”

Song Juhan’s expression changed instantly. “Are you honestly going to make me lose face in front of so many people?”

“What are you even doing here?! Are you here just to save ‘face’ in front of your friends?”

“Why do you care what I’m doing?!” Song Juhan shouted angrily. “I just want to come here, so what?!”

He Gu was on the verge of exploding. “You’re so unreasonable!”

Likewise, Song Juhan was pushed to his limits by He Gu’s repeated refusal. This version of He Gu in front of him was too difficult to accept. His He Gu wasn’t like this! Song Juhan surged forward with one wide step, grabbed He Gu by the collar, and swiftly threw him down on the bed. He Gu momentarily fell into a daze. Before he could even react properly, he was already pressed down and forcibly kissed. 

“Mmm…” He Gu moaned as he tried desperately and unsuccessfully to push away Song Juhan. With both his hands held firmly above his head, He Gu was powerless to do anything but accept the rough kiss. 

This kiss was long and full of possessiveness, as if Song Juhan was trying to mark his territory and claim sovereignty over him. The aggressiveness of it made He Gu feel a lack of oxygen supply to his brain as his body gradually weakened in response.

Song Juhan was very good at dealing with He Gu; he knew what provoked the man, and similarly what triggered his sexual desire. In the blink of an eye, Song Juhan forced his calloused hand into He Gu’s pants and started to tease his sensitive area.  

“Song Juhan!” He Gu was so ashamed, he instinctively lashed out by kicking Song Juhan.

The pain made Song Juhan shiver all over. As if it was the final straw, he blew up at the other man, “He Gu, why the f*ck are you so stubborn?!”

“Have you not had enough? Why must you continue to play me like this?!” He Gu’s face was burning a deep red, his expression quite ugly as he shouted, “Didn’t you already say you were fed up with sleeping with me?!”

“That was just something I said in a moment of anger! Why the fuck are you remembering it so clearly?!”

“I remember every single one of your words very clearly!” said He Gu as he stared straight at Song Juhan with bloodshot eyes. 

Song Juhan watched He Gu, observing the honest and sorrowful expression in the other man’s eyes. His heart faltered as he opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. After hesitating for a moment, he tried again, this time in a whisper, “He Gu, do you like me?”

He Gu wanted to tear the younger man to pieces. 

Do you like me?

What a laughable question.

He didn’t just “like” him. He had once wished that the last six years could be his forever. He had thought that as long as he could obtain Song Juhan’s sincerity, he would be willing to give up anything in exchange. But right now, he was simply too tired—he just wanted everything to end. He wanted to live a life that wasn’t so exhausting and bitter.

That was why, at this moment, he just wanted Song Juhan to disappear from his sight, so he could allow his pain to dissipate slowly.

Song Juhan was still waiting for him to say something when suddenly a loud knock came from the living room. The knocking was so loud and rough, it instantly broke the moment between the two.

Taking advantage of Song Juhan’s daze, He Gu pushed him away and ran back out to the living room. 

“Open up! Open up! Police!”

As they heard that last word, all the people in the apartment started to panic, staring wide-eyed at each other.

Xiao Song was the first to react. He jumped up and said in a low voice, “The weed, the weed, hurry up and get rid of it!” He quickly grabbed everything “suspicious” and ran to the bathroom.

“What happened? Why are the police here?!” The producer was clearly frightened as he asked nervously.

He Gu took a deep breath and calmly said, “It must be because you guys are too loud. My neighbors must’ve called the police about the noise.”

The police had lost their patience and started to kick the door. “Open up! This is the police! Open the door right now!”

Song Juhan stepped up and grabbed a few beer bottles, then started to empty its contents all over the living room floor. Next, he found a bottle of cologne and started to spray everywhere around the space as he said, “Don’t panic. He Gu, go answer the door.”

He Gu walked over to unlock the door. With the door held open slightly, he said, “Fellow comrades and policemen, we will make sure to…”

The police didn’t give him a chance to explain as they forcibly barged in. The door swung open with a violent force!

He Gu didn’t react in time before the door slammed against his forehead. The force of the door knocked him back as he let out a yelp of pain. Before long, the world started to spin around him, and he collapsed to the floor.

“He Gu!” Song Juhan rushed forward to help him, cursing loudly in the process, “How fucking dare you…”

Before he could finish his sentence, Song Juhan’s entire body stiffened.

There were a bunch of people outside the door, and in the next second, they had all rushed in—policemen, reporters, and an oddly familiar woman. It was Ah Sheng’s wife, Xiao Rui.

Looking at this scene, no one would believe the police simply showed up because their loud music disturbed the neighbors. 

One of the policemen with an air of authority spoke up, “We received a tip that there were some people gathered here taking drugs.” He wrinkled his nose at the obvious smell in the apartment. As the captain of the team, he immediately barked out orders, “Detain everyone in sight and search the property!”

Ah Sheng jumped up from the floor and pointed at his wife. “Have you gone fucking crazy?!” he yelled.

Xiao Rui’s usually delicate face distorted into a savage expression. “Yes, I’m crazy! But it’s all because of you!”

“You f*cking b*tch!” Ah Sheng roared as he pounced on her. 

Two policemen rushed forward and pinned Ah Sheng to the floor. 

Song Juhan’s team were obviously still quite high. Their minds were foggy as they stepped forward to try and save Ah Sheng. The scene quickly turned chaotic as the policemen clashed and struggled with the rest of Song Juhan’s team.

Still in a daze, He Gu was helped up by Song Juhan. By the time his mind cleared, his apartment had become a battlefield.

Apart from Song Juhan and He Gu, only Xiao Song and the producer didn’t smoke that night. They tried desperately to break up the fight but failed miserably. As the chaos continued, the reporters scrambled to capture the scene with photographic proof. 

Realizing what they were doing, He Gu moved forward to hold back the reporters. He tried to grab their cameras but was violently pushed away.

In the confusion, He Gu was pushed to the ground again, as well as ruthlessly kicked a few times.

The situation was quickly getting out of hand, and as a final resort, the captain pulled out his electric baton and instantly disabled the two people closest to him before the scene was finally brought under control. 

“Who’s the owner of this house?!” shouted the captain sternly.

In a trembling voice, He Gu answered, “It’s me.”

“Organized drug party. Take them away. Take them all away!”

“This has nothing to do with him!” Song Juhan pulled He Gu behind his back, straightened up, and raised his voice above the chaos, “I brought these people here. He didn’t know anything about this.”

The captain refused to listen as he ordered, “Take them all away!”

He Gu was completely befuddled as he was handcuffed and led out.

He didn’t understand how everything was fine one second, and the next, he was being taken to the police station as a suspect for drug use. 

What did he possibly do wrong?

Amidst the chaos, He Gu could hear Song Juhan’s chilling voice as he threatened the reporters. “I dare any of you to publish this… go on!”

Still muddleheaded, He Gu blinked a few times and found himself sitting in an interrogation room at the police station.

He Gu did a urine test, and, naturally, the results came back negative. 

A policeman came in and threw down a stack of papers in front of He Gu. “Senior engineer at Nanchuang, eh? What were you doing with a group of celebrities?”

“… Friends.”

“You sure have a wide reach in friends,” said the police officer as he lifted his chin. “I know you’re a smart man, so go on. Tell me what happened tonight.”

He Gu was silent for a moment before he said, “I want a lawyer.”

“Even if you get a lawyer, you’ll still have to say something.”

“I have to speak to my lawyer first.” Regardless of what He Gu was going to say or not say, he needed to speak to a lawyer. He was afraid that if he happened to say one wrong word, Song Juhan’s future would be over. 

For a public figure like Song Juhan, this could be a catastrophic scandal and could easily ruin his career for good. Even if Song Juhan didn’t smoke anything, once the news spread, he would face the biggest hit in his entire career, and possibly his entire life. At this crucial moment, He Gu didn’t dare say anything. 

The policeman was a little frustrated, and he seemed like he was about to make a few more threats when the interrogation door swung open suddenly. One of the policeman’s colleagues walked in and said, “This punk’s lawyer is here.”

He Gu raised his head in surprise. 

The policeman looked at him, then reluctantly walked out. 

After a moment, a middle-aged man dressed in a suit and leather shoes walked in. He sat down with his back straight and looked directly at He Gu through his frameless glasses as he introduced himself, “Hello, Mr. He. Your humble servant4鄙人 – (bǐ rén) ‘your humble servant’ or simply ‘I’. In the raws the lawyer refers to himself as ‘your humble servant’ when he introduces himself to He Gu. is surnamed Chen, and I’m an attorney for Song Media.”

He Gu nodded, “Hello.”

“I’m here on behalf of Chief Song to help you. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be nervous or afraid.”

He Gu nodded again. “So what’s the situation right now? What should I say?”

With an astute and cold expression, lawyer Chen adjusted his glasses as he said, “Mr. He, I’ll get straight to the point. Due to the fact that this incident happened in your residence, it will be difficult to prove your innocence.” 

“But I didn’t…”

Lawyer Chen cut him off, “I know you are innocent, but even if everyone knew you were innocent, you could easily be innocent one moment, and not innocent the next.”

He Gu squinted his eyes, “What do you mean?”

“Mr. He, this incident was caused by Han Sheng’s divorce. He and his wife are currently fighting over the custody of their children and the share of their assets. The incident tonight was his wife retaliating deliberately. She had a premeditated plan to sabotage her husband’s future, which is why this has turned into such a big commotion. The media has been suppressed for the time being, but Chief Song wasn’t able to control the spread of the news over the internet. Although this was caused by Han Sheng’s domestic dispute, the incident has affected far more than himself. Not only Song Juhan, but his entire team has fallen victim as well. I’m sure you’re well aware that Song Juhan is a public figure. Such a scandal could be devastating to his future.”

He Gu stared unblinkingly at Lawyer Chen as a heavy feeling weighed down in his chest. Deep down, he understood clearly what the lawyer implied with his carefully chosen words.

Proofread by Ess | Edited by Lizonka

Episode 22

Episode 22 can be read here.

Chapter 35


Song Juhan’s news spread faster than anyone imagined. Within a few days, the internet began to run wild with rumors of his previous misdemeanours. From how he arrogantly ditched a live reality event last-minute, fought with a photographer on set, and to the promiscuous partying in Saipan—everything was getting leaked online, as if someone was sabotaging him on purpose. 

He Gu didn’t understand how things were done within the entertainment circle, but he did know that wherever the money was, there would always be infighting1明争暗斗 – means to fight in the open and also attack covertly at the same time

For a while, Song Juhan’s name was splattered across every newspaper front page. Even someone like Sun Qing, who never paid attention to the entertainment industry, saw the articles and noticed the familiar side profile that looked awfully like He Gu. She picked up her phone and gave He Gu a call.

He Gu calmly said, “A lot of people have already called to ask, but it’s not me. It just looks a little similar, that’s all.”

Sun Qing laughed as she said, “That’s good. I also thought it couldn’t possibly be you. Son, why does your voice sound so exhausted?”

“I’ve just been busy with work, it’s nothing serious. After the New Year, I’ll be taking a long vacation anyway. What about you, how have you been feeling recently?”

“It’s alright, I just get tired easily. But I’ve been training quite a few people under me in the last few years, so I’ve been slowly handing over the work to them lately.”

“En, you should focus on your treatment right now. What has the doctor suggested?”

“I’ve been doing some mild treatment for the time being, and will continue to monitor my condition. If it doesn’t work, we’ll have to try chemotherapy. But that won’t happen until the next summer holidays.”

“Why does it have to be next summer holidays?”

“I don’t want Susu to find out. If it’s during the summer holidays, then I can send her to summer school in France. I’ve already bought a house there, so if you’re free then, you should come along and spend some time with her. I know I’m saying it’s for summer school, but I just want her to have some fun abroad.”

“En, sounds good. But how long are you planning to keep it a secret from her?”

Sun Qing sighed. “She’s still so young… I know I gave birth to her when I was quite old, but I just don’t want her to go through all this. How is she supposed to accept such news? I want to keep it from her for as long as I can.” She opened the door and called out, “Susu, do you want to talk to your gege?”


From over the phone, He Gu could hear the pitter-patter of footsteps as Susu rushed over and took the phone. With an energetic voice, she said happily, “Gege! Was the person who was fighting with Song Juhan you? Was it? Was it?!” 

He Gu chuckled lightly and answered, “No, it’s not me.”

“Oh, that’s a pity.”

“Why is it a pity?” said Sun Qing in the background.

With a wide smile on her face, Susu said, “ I really, really like Song Juhan. He’s my male god. Have you seen him in real life before? Is he good-looking in person?”

“I haven’t seen him before.”

“I really wanted to go to his concert this year, but mama wouldn’t let me go. I dunno when his next concert will be, but when he does have one, will gege go with me?”

“Of course.” He Gu couldn’t help but smile bitterly. Why couldn’t he avoid those two2Liz: In the raws, it says three, referring to the three characters that make up Song Juhan’s name. words, Song Juhan, no matter what he did? Was he cursed?

“Gege, I really miss you. I sent you photos of my ‘Inter-School Singing Competition’ on WeChat, why haven’t you replied yet?”

“Sorry, I must’ve been too busy and didn’t see it.”

“Oh, how could you do that…” Susu said disappointedly.

“I’m sorry. I’ll definitely reply next time.”

Sun Qing’s voice cut in, “Stop pestering your gege. He’s very busy with work. He’s very hard-working, unlike you who gets lazy doing homework.”

“I’m not lazy…” Susu muttered.

Sun Qing took the phone back and said with a smile, “Son, why don’t I bring Susu over to Beijing this year for Chinese New Year?”

“Sounds great,” said He Gu as he felt his frozen heart finally warm up a little.

“All these years… did you have anyone to spend the New Year with?”

“… No.” He Gu could no longer remember how many New Years he had spent alone. It had gotten to a point where he had already gotten used to it, and no longer felt disappointed anymore.

Sun Qing sighed. “This year, mama will spend it with you. It’ll be great if we can spend every New Year together from now on. 


No matter how hot the topic was, the hype would eventually die down. Likewise, by the time Song Juhan’s headlines faded into the background for another celebrity scandal, He Gu was no longer subjected to seeing Song Juhan’s face at every turn. Bit by bit, his life was finally able to return to its rightful path.

He Gu resumed his routine lifestyle, circling between his home, office, and construction sites. It was as if his life had returned to a scheduled and mechanical state.

Zhuang Jieyu would come over occasionally, but lately his schedule had started to pick up again. He said it was because of the incident with Song Juhan that he had suddenly become quite popular and was getting called for a lot of jobs.

As Song Juhan faded further and further away from him, He Gu finally started to see his life in the past few years with a sense of reality. Did that nationally-adored celebrity, that proud and arrogant man, really sleep with him for the last six years? Or was it all just his hopeless, romantic dream?

But dreams couldn’t possibly feel so real, or leave such deep and excruciating pain. He Gu tried desperately to use his work to numb himself and to occupy his mind at all times. Only then could he stop himself from thinking about Song Juhan. 

He Gu knew they would eventually separate one day, but he didn’t expect the pain to be several times more bitter than he had ever imagined.

How long would it take for him to truly forget about Song Juhan? 

That day, He Gu received another phone call from Xiao Song. When he saw the name displayed on the caller ID, his hand started to tremble. After hesitating for a moment, he answered the call.

“He Gu-ge,” said Xiao Song cautiously, his voice sounding very awkward.

“Talk,” said He Gu coldly.

“Han-ge… Han-ge wanted me to ask you…” Xiao Song took a deep breath before he continued, “Ask you if you’ve cooled down…”

Song Juhan’s angry shouting could be heard over the phone, “Who told you to ask like that?!”

Xiao Song quivered, his words coming out as a quick slur of joined syllables, “Askyouifyou’vegottenoverityet.”

He Gu’s entire body shivered when he heard Song Juhan’s voice. The chaos in his heart that he had worked desperately to control started to stir up again. He took a deep breath, then forced himself to ask calmly, “What do you mean?”

“Just…” Xiao Song reluctantly stuttered, “Just if you’ve… you’ve figured things out, then you… can come see Han-ge. Han-ge said he… he won’t hold it against you for punching him.”

He Gu felt a scorching flame burn through his chest. He clenched his fist and said in a low voice, “Please tell him I’m thankful for his ‘generosity.’ And Xiao Song, from now on, don’t call me anymore.” He Gu quickly hung up the phone. 

His whole body trembled from the inside out as he leaned against the wall powerlessly.

Song Juhan, I thank you for your ‘generosity.’

In the blink of an eye, New Year’s was approaching. One of He Gu’s projects had come to an end, but the other had been delayed due to a problem with the construction team. At this point there was nothing he could do, so he could only wait until after the New Year holiday to deal with it. Other than that, most of the other issues had been resolved. 

Finally, He Gu could feel himself starting to relax again. In addition, his boss had also personally assured him that this year’s bonus would definitely satisfy him.

That day, Gu Qingpei called to ask him out for drinks again. He Gu hesitated for a while, but in the end, couldn’t find an excuse to refuse him. 

Gu Qingpei was silent for a moment. “He Gu, are you afraid I’d ask about your situation with Song Juhan?”

He Gu was stunned. Deep down, he knew Gu Qingpei was a smart man. What he feared most was that Gu Qingpei’s curiosity, or perhaps genuine care, would unintentionally make him bring up Song Juhan—the name he was trying so desperately to forget. 

The silence hung in the air. He Gu’s non-answer spoke volumes. Gu Qingpei chuckled and said, “I promise you. Unless you bring him up yourself, I won’t mention him at all.”

 “Thank you, Chief Gu,” said He Gu sincerely.

In response, Gu Qingpei teased, “Haha, you don’t have to be scared. Come on out, it’s unhealthy to stay bottled up all the time.”

With a light chuckle, He Gu said, “Alright, I’ll see you tonight.”

That evening, He Gu expected that he would be drinking, so he took a taxi to the bar instead. 

Sure enough, when he got there, the table was already lined with rows and rows of various wines. Gu Qingpei sat comfortably on the sofa with his legs crossed as he casually swept his arms out as if to say “please, help yourself.” Then, with a smile on his face, he said, “Alcohol really isn’t a good thing, but sometimes, we really need it.”

“Yes, that’s why I didn’t drive here tonight. Regardless, you can’t drink too much,” said He Gu solemnly.

Gu Qingpei smiled and said, “I didn’t drive here either. My driver dropped me off, and he’ll pick me up later.”

“Driver? Yuan Yang?”

Gu Qingpei revealed a resentful expression as he said, “Oh, yeah.”

The thought of seeing Yuan Yang made He Gu uncomfortable. Right now, he wanted to avoid anyone that was present that day.

Gu Qingpei immediately saw through He Gu’s thoughts. “Don’t worry, I told him to wait in the car.”

He Gu was stunned, “You told him to… to wait in the car?” He Gu was confused. Were they talking about the same man? The same insufferably arrogant Yuan Yang, whom no one dared to provoke, was waiting in the car while he drank away his problems?

“En.” Gu Qingpei nodded as if nothing was amiss. “He was a soldier. Once you train them a little, they are very obedient.”

“… I guess so.”

“Hey, I’ve actually had quite a rough time for the past six months. But at least, the company looks like it’s finally back on the right track now.”

“Congratulations, Chief Gu. So will the company start bringing in profits by next year?”

“If everything goes well, next year we’ll be able to acquire a piece of land reclaimed through the government act to balance market value. We also have a few other projects coming in. To be honest, Yuan Lijiang’s ultimate goal is to relist the company, so he’s quite satisfied with the company’s progress right now.”

“As long as Chief Gu is there, I’m sure there won’t be an issue.”

Gu Qingpei smiled as he poured He Gu a glass of wine, then raised his own glass. “I heard you’ve just wrapped up one of your projects. This year, Director Sun will definitely be giving you a big bonus. Here, a toast to our successful careers.”

The two exchanged a friendly glance and clinked their glasses together.

As promised, Gu Qingpei really did avoid talking about He Gu’s sensitive topic. Instead, they chatted about Nanchuang’s latest news and the current real estate situation, as well as casual things that ordinary friends would talk about. The atmosphere was very comfortable and harmonious.

He Gu’s tolerance had always been quite good. Although he drank quite a bit tonight, he wasn’t completely drunk yet. Despite everything, he didn’t want to rely on alcohol to numb his sorrows. Not only was that a pointless endeavour, but it would also leave him with a splitting headache the next day. 

The two drank until just past eleven before Gu Qingpei decided to call it a night. Looking at the time, Gu Qingpei insisted on sending He Gu off in a taxi. He only stopped after repeatedly confirming that He Gu was sober enough to make it home himself.  

He Gu waved his hands in dismissal as he said, “Don’t worry, this amount of alcohol won’t do anything to me.”

“If you put it like that, I’ll really need to find a chance to sit you down and discuss your version of reality.”

He Gu chuckled, “Definitely, if I find the time…”

After the taxi drove off, He Gu massaged his temples, feeling a little sleepy. Eventually he dozed off until they arrived and the taxi driver had to call out a few times to wake him up. 

He Gu paid and got off.

Although he didn’t drink a lot, he was still a little tipsy, so his steps were especially slow as he walked to his apartment block. The streets were particularly quiet that evening as there weren’t many people out and about due to the cold weather. He Gu decided to take a walk to sober up, and made his way toward the small communal park in his neighborhood. Surrounded by the lush trees, his mood felt exceptionally calm. 

All of a sudden, he stopped and raised his head to look at the full moon shining brightly in the night sky. Almost instantly, his head started to turn as if everything was spinning around him. 

It turned out today was the fifteenth, the fifteenth of the twelfth lunar month. There were only a few days until the New Year. 

Unlike previous New Years, this year would be quite different. He no longer had Song Juhan, but he did gain back his freedom—the freedom of his heart. 

He Gu stood in the park for a while, feeling the cool breeze against his skin. After feeling more refreshed, he made his way to his apartment. 

The moment the elevator doors opened, He Gu felt as if he was struck by lightning. 

That man leaning against the wall—with his arms crossed and angrily glaring at him—was none other than Song Juhan. 

Song Juhan actually came looking for him?! He Gu had never imagined that. His first reaction was to run away, but he firmly held back his instinct and stood very still. Slowly, he forced himself to move, and stepped out of the elevator. 

Song Juhan asked bluntly, “Where have you been? It’s so late already, and you smell like booze.”

He Gu stood at the elevator doors, keeping his distance from the other man. “What are you doing here?”

“I bought this apartment. Do I have to inform you when I want to stop by?”

He Gu was suddenly reminded that this apartment was gifted to him by Song Juhan. It was time to give it back. Otherwise, he would forever be tied to Song Juhan and be unable to make a clean break. After the New Year, he would find a decorator to renovate the apartment his parents left him. It was time for him to move back. In time, he would buy another car too. 

Song Juhan saw that He Gu seemed to be deep in his thoughts, and he said angrily, “Where the hell have you been? Who did you go drinking with?”

He Gu tried his best to ignore the tight feeling in his chest due to Song Juhan’s impromptu appearance. With a blank expression, he said, “It doesn’t matter who I go drinking with. It’s not like I need to inform you.”

“He Gu, you’re getting more and more ballsy. You dare talk back to me?!” Song Juhan lunged forward and grabbed He Gu’s arm. “Get in.”

The moment Song Juhan touched his arm, He Gu felt like he had been struck by lightning. He immediately jerked it away and took a giant step back.

Song Juhan froze as he stared at his empty hand. It was as if he could still feel He Gu’s warmth from their brief touch a second ago. Slowly, he raised his head, and with a look of incredulity on his face, he said, “It’s already been a month and a half. Are you still not over it yet? How long are you going to continue this tantrum?”

“Song Juhan, I’m not throwing a tantrum. I already said it loud and clear that day—We are over.”

Song Juhan gritted out sternly, “Over my ass. Get in here now. We’ll talk this through once and for all.”

He refused to accept that they were over. He grabbed He Gu by the shoulders and roughly pushed him toward the door. “Open the door.”

He Gu wanted to fight back, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. Instead, he gritted his teeth and said, “Where are your keys?”

“I forgot to bring them.”

He Gu took a deep breath, then adjusted his breathing before he said, “Song Juhan, I will return your apartment to you, but you can’t come in right now.”

Song Juhan’s eyes bulged, and he gritted out, “Say that again.”

“I said, I will return your apartment to you…”

“Who the hell wants this bloody apartment?!” Song Juhan shouted as his temper started to rise. “He Gu, do you even know what’s good for you?!”

He Gu pressed against the door, trying to increase the distance between Song Juhan and himself as much as possible. Just the familiar smell and warmth from Song Juhan’s body was enough to make He Gu feel a pain similar to that of a knife being twisted in his heart. “I may not know what’s good for me, but I do have a sense of priorities.”

“That thing between Feng Zheng and I happened years ago. Are you going to hold that against me forever?!” Song Juhan moved closer and trapped He Gu between himself and the door. He looked straight into He Gu’s eyes and said, “Yes, I did have a thing with Feng Zheng before, but that was when we were fifteen, sixteen. I was so young back then. I didn’t know any better and only tried it with him because I was looking for something new. But then I met you, and yes… I admit that when I first approached you I was just looking to mess with you. But later on, it had nothing to do with Feng Zheng anymore. I simply… it was simply because it’s you…”

Song Juhan gritted his teeth. He had never lowered his head to anyone before, let alone spoken such endearing words, but during the month-long wait with no word from He Gu… he began to feel flustered. 

Song Juhan wasn’t even sure what happened. He had simply gotten used to having this person around. No matter how far he went, or where he went, whenever he turned around, He Gu would always be standing right there waiting for him. It was like he always had somewhere to return to. 

How could He Gu want to break up with him? How could he possibly ignore him? How could he… 

Song Juhan couldn’t accept it. He simply couldn’t get used to that preposterous idea… 

He Gu looked at Song Juhan unblinkingly. “How did you see me during these past six years?

Song Juhan was caught off guard, and he didn’t know what to say.

“You don’t have to say anything, I already know. From the beginning, you must’ve looked down on me. Later on, you must’ve gotten used to having me around—having this obedient and tight-lipped person that was always on call for you to fuck at any time.” He Gu’s words came out calmer than usual, as if those shameful remarks weren’t directed at himself but rather at someone else. “I really can’t imagine how you and Feng Zheng must’ve seen me all these years. I can’t even begin to imagine just how unbearably ridiculous I must’ve seemed in your eyes.”

Song Juhan sternly said, “Stop with that nonsense. I didn’t look down on you! The only reason I didn’t tell you about the thing between Feng Zheng and I is… I… I didn’t feel a need to tell you. It happened so long ago, why do I have to tell you about it?!”

He Gu showed a bitter smile that looked worse than if he had been crying as he said, “Indeed… there was no need for you to tell me.”

Song Juhan stared at He Gu’s pale face and couldn’t help but recall his tears from that day. His heart immediately softened at the memory. He approached He Gu and lowered his voice to gently say, “He Gu, can you stop being angry now? Why can’t we return to how things were before? Have I not been treating you well enough? Didn’t I already give you everything you wanted? How about I take you on a vacation this New Year holiday? Just the two of us. We can go wherever you like.” Song Juhan’s eyes shined brightly, to the point that there was even a hint of innocence in them—like a naive child swapping his lollipop for friendship. 

He Gu’s heart ached uncontrollably. With all his remaining energy, he forced himself to stay standing and said in a quiet voice, “What you give to me insignificant to you.” But for me, I gave you my everything. 

Song Juhan’s expression changed abruptly. He gritted his teeth and shouted, “Then what more do you want?!”

Song Juhan felt like he was on the verge of going insane. When had he ever lowered his head to anyone in his life? Even though he had repeatedly coaxed and sweet-talked He Gu, the man still failed to appreciate his efforts!

He Gu closed his eyes. “Just go.”

I’m afraid to ask anything of you anymore, He Gu thought to himself.

A fierce glint appeared in Song Juhan’s eyes, and he clenched his fists. With a loud bang, he punched the fire door right next to He Gu’s face. 

He Gu trembled all over, but refused to open his eyes. 

Song Juhan glared long and hard at He Gu. A tight feeling brewed in his chest, his breathing turning difficult as if something was stuck in his throat. He tightened his fists, then turned and left. 

It wasn’t until he heard the sound of the elevator doors closing that He Gu slowly opened his bloodshot eyes again. His vision blurred and all he could see was a sea of red. 

Proofread by Lizonka and Ess

Chapter 66: There is meat today. Don’t pull down your face

Liz: The beginning of volume 4!

Since the beginning of the Great Desolation, people had been coming up with many different ways of chronicling the years. However, all these methods and names were very strange, so none of them had been passed down.

Calendars were like customs. If one were to be passed down, it had to be unified.

A hundred years later, a great hero was born. Following the road his grandfather and father had paved for him, he was finally given this honor. He then called the year in which his grandfather extinguished the ground fire and built a city in the East Sea the first year of Tian Xuan1天选 – Heaven’s Choice.

Deep under the ground, where the throbbing had calmed down, the mysterious hand driving the movement of the stars remained hidden. The weak people were washed out in the calamities, and like great waves sweeping away the sand, those left behind divided the North and South of the continent into a new layout.

Five springs and autumns had passed since the year Hua Yi massacred Black Wind Puya, intercepted the caravans, and controlled the trade routes along the East Sea.

Five years was enough for a toddler beastman to grow into a little boy, and for an ignorant teenager to become a man of his own. These years were also enough for Hua Yi to take the entire 600 li2里 – ancient unit of measurement, approximately 500 meters. coastline of the East Sea into his pocket. Gone were the days when hundreds of men fought with torches in hand. The calamity had left people confused and nowhere to turn to, but this was all in Hua Yi’s favor.

Now, a glance down from atop the city walls and one could see a magnificent army with thousands of men and horses.

Hua Yi used to always envy those people in the South back when their great walls were built and merchants streamed into their land, but now, he owned nearly half of the land in the Southern continent.

Inner wall to inner wall, and outer wall to outer wall, every gate was guarded. Rules more detailed and strict than those in the South were inscribed on the stone walls of every gate tower, and all the cultivated fields had an owner.

Merchants who passed through the gates had to pay a fee in order to obtain the protection of the city guards and the garrison. Those who dared to evade paying would have all their goods seized and their heads hung in public once they were discovered.

However, this did not discourage the merchants. On the contrary, business even prospered.

Once again, Suo Laimu’s wisdom in insisting on bringing the tribe to the edge of the sea became evident. Not only had they now taken advantage of the sea’s resources and climate to make light of the catastrophe, they had even found it to be a place of truly mouthwatering abundance.

The plain was rich in natural resources, and the pearls, corals, and precious shells of the sea were highly sought after. 

Eight years ago, they fled here and managed to build a lonely city that faced the mountains and had its back to the sea. People’s tents were simple, and the Chief and seven Elders themselves changed shifts every day to guard the city at night and patrol in the morning.

Now, the Chief was no longer called Chief. Hua Yi had eleven strategic coastal passes and eighteen cities in his hands. The title of “Chief” was really not enough, so he named himself the King of the East Sea. However, he wasn’t so arrogant. The royal city he lived in was sandwiched between two passes—Sea Pearl city.

In the evening, a group of horse dealers walked through the quiet streets as they urged on their goods. The two city guards who let them into the city wore a full set of bright armor as they opened up the path with longswords and spears in their hands. Meanwhile, the other two city guards were in their behemoth forms. With one guard on either side of the caravan, they escorted them to the guest tent that was especially for merchants to live in.

On the way, at a fork in the road, they ran into some city guards who were coming back from a shift change.

When the leader of the group saw them, he raised his hand, stopped the people behind him, and told the merchants to pass first.

The city guards who patrolled the city were all unsmiling as they stopped in unison. They were so silent that they were like a group of mannequins.

In the past five years, fighting had naturally been necessary in order to expand the territory. However, now was no longer those days when every man who could fight would be dragged out to defend the city. These men had been carefully selected. On weekdays, they didn’t work3不事生产 – Working to make a living, like hunting and farming. Instead, they focused on just one thing, which was to train themselves and to resist foreign enemies. Compared to those beastmen who were once called “warriors” and did everything from hunting to farming, their fighting strength had long been incomparable.

These merchants who came from far away could smell the blood in the bones of these men from a distance. Emanating from their armor and from the clean and polished weapons in their hands was an unparalleled chilling deterrence that people couldn’t help but look down, not daring to look straight at them.

A teenager among the group of merchants couldn’t help but look up and glance at the leader. This teenager was only fourteen years old, and as a child, he had been picked up by the old merchants to become a little errand boy. He always couldn’t help but envy those courageous4杀伐决断 – Decisive in killing heroes on top of lofty horses.

However, to his surprise, the leader did not wear armor, nor was he tall and majestic. He wasn’t short though, but he looked a little frail. As late spring transitioned to early summer, the fiery young men had long impatiently changed out of their cumbersome clothes, and some were even topless under their armor. He, however, was like a patient recovering from a chronic illness. He was still wearing two layers of long-sleeved buyi5布衣 – A cheap kind of cotton cloth worn by commoners, and his animal hide shirt collar was also tightly pressed down.

As his eyes swept over the goods, he inadvertently met the gaze of the young merchant, who hurriedly turned his eyes away. The man didn’t care though, and he quickly moved aside, patiently waiting for them to pass.

After walking a long way, the merchant boy finally couldn’t help looking back. When he saw that the city guards had gone in another direction, he was faintly disappointed. He couldn’t help thinking, That man was really good-looking.

The teenager couldn’t think of any other words to describe it, but after pondering over it for a long time, it gave birth to the desire to take another look at the man.

The teenager approached the old merchant next to him and asked in a lowered voice, “Shifu, who was that just now?”

“Shut up.” The old merchant glared at him. This little servant boy of his was a sub-beast, and he’d always forget about the fact that a beastman’s eyes and ears were keener than his.

Hearing that the price of coral produced in the East Sea was extremely high, the old merchant had brought his caravan along for the first time to join in the fun. But not knowing about how things worked here, he was frightened by the checkpoints and the armored guards that he dared not talk any nonsense.

The city guard leading the way, however, looked back without any displeasure on his face and very calmly explained, “We have a King, seven Great Elders in the royal city, as well as eighteen City Lords. That person is the head of the eighteen City Lords, the Lord of Sea Pearl, the royal city.”

The teenager was taken aback, and he asked, “The City Lord personally patrols the city?”

The city guard smiled somewhat helplessly. “He likes being with his brothers.”

Hearing their conversation, the other city guard turned around. This man was extremely young, as if he had just come of age. The style of armor on his body was different from that of the one next to him, and the pattern on his shoulders was clearly much more elaborate. He was obviously someone of higher status. Sure enough, when he looked over, the slightly older guard who spoke sealed his mouth of his own accord.

The young city guard was silent for a moment. The old merchant wasn’t sure about what he meant, so he gave a look to the teenager next to him, and told him to shut up and not ask anymore questions. He himself was also very cautious.

After a while, the old merchant heard the young city guard with a jiandao say: “That was my Shifu. He has a very good temper. As long as you don’t break the rules of the city, he won’t make things difficult for you.”

The old merchant heard the warning in his insipid words, and he nodded his head quickly, not daring to say any more.

Just then, there was the sound of rushed footsteps. A behemoth galloped past the merchant caravan and ran all the way to the two city guards in the lead. He transformed into his human form on the spot, and with sweat on his forehead, he hurriedly asked, “Commander6Author wrote 督骑 (du qi), which I believe is the same as 骑督 (qi du), which refers to the Commander of the Cavalry (soldiers who fight on horseback). Luda, has the City Lord passed by?”

The city guard with a jiandao was none other than Luda, and he asked, “Why?”

The beastman stepped forward and whispered a few words in his ear. Luda frowned with undisguised disgust on his face and muttered, “How come it’s that waste again?”

He pointed to a place and said, “He just passed over there. He should already be back by now. You can go to the King’s place to find him.”

Hua Yi waved his hand and told the people in the tent to go back. The slaves on the side then immediately cleared off the things on the table, and a moment later, a small stove was placed on it. On top of it was a small pot of congee full of wheat sprouts, shellfish, and finely cut fruits and vegetables, and it soon wafted out an enticing aroma.

Whenever the seasons changed, Chang An had to drink medicine for a while. A’Ye said that it was best he had a light diet that wasn’t too greasy. Hua Yi was afraid he’d be unwilling, so he accompanied him eating congee the whole day.

He said in a good mood, “Go ask someone when Chang An is coming back.”

Just as his words just fell, Chang An walked in. However, as soon as he saw the table full of tasteless vegetables and without any meat, he immediately felt his originally hungry stomach pretending to be dead, his appetite to swallow a cow mysteriously disappearing.

Chang An thought angrily, This sly A’Ye is always letting me eat grass and vegetables that I’m about to turn into a rabbit.

As a result, his footsteps turned a bit heavy.

Hua Yi knew what he was thinking as soon as he saw his face, and he said with a smile, “Who drinks medicine all day long and even drags me to eat rabbit food? I haven’t even said anything yet. Roll over here quickly. If you want to take off your clothes, then take them off in bed at night. Taking them off now is not allowed.”

Chang An complained, “I’m sweaty all over.”

“Spring is the time to wear more clothes. Who asked you to patrol around the city when you’ve got nothing else to do?” said Hua Yi while serving him a bowl of congee. “Come now, there is meat today. Don’t pull down your face.”

Chang An immediately sat up straight when he heard this.

Hua Yi: “The congee has shellfish in it. I’ll give you some more later.”

Chang An sighed, and his back lazily slouched again.

Hua Yi was amused by him and wanted to say something, but just then, one of the slaves hurried in. With his head bowed, he said in a low voice, “The night patrol has an urgent matter, and they sent someone to look for the City Lord.”

Hua Yi didn’t lift his eyes. “What matter is it that you can’t even let people have a good meal?”

The slave replied, “City Lord Bu Dong’s youngest son, who’s been staying in the royal city, drank too much and had a conflict with Elder Ka Zuo. Someone died, so now Elder Ka Zuo has arrested him and is saying that he wants to kill City Lord Bu Dong’s son.”

Chang An frowned and said, “Call the man in.”

Hua Yi was stunned when he heard the words. His thumb rubbed the edge of the bowl, and his eyes seemed to be squinting from the steam rising from it as he fell silent for a moment.

Chapter 34

After He Gu asked his question, there was a long pause before he heard Feng Zheng take a deep breath and say in a choked voice, “I tried… but what could I have possibly said?” 

He Gu’s heart clenched for a second. At that moment, there was nothing he could say in return. 

Indeed, what could Feng Zheng have possibly said?

“Back then, I already knew what kind of person Song Juhan was. I didn’t want you to get hurt… but you were so obsessed with him, so I couldn’t say anything. I thought that even if I didn’t say it, you guys would break up really fast anyways. I never expected that when I came back after six years, you two would still be together, and that you would still have such strong feelings for him. Many times I’ve regretted not telling you back then, but now…” Feng Zheng’s voice trembled as he continued, “Now… there was no way I could’ve said anything.”

He Gu didn’t know whether he should blame Feng Zheng or not. To be honest, what was the point in blaming him anyway? Nothing would change now. So He Gu took a deep breath and said in a low voice, “I understand.”

“He Gu, I’m sorry. I’m really so sorry. There wasn’t a single day I didn’t regret it. I know I should’ve told you back then, and I’m sorry my momentary mistake has caused you so much unnecessary pain.” Feng Zheng’s voice was filled with guilt and sadness.

“You don’t have to apologize. You have no obligation to tell me anything.”

“He Gu… If you guys have finally ended it for good, why don’t you just forget about Song Juhan. Forget about him and start a new life.”

He Gu’s eyes stared vacantly ahead as he said in a mechanical voice, “I once thought that Song Juhan couldn’t possibly feel anything for anyone, so even if he didn’t have feelings for me, it was to be expected. It turns out I was wrong from the very beginning.” At this point, He Gu couldn’t even bring himself to feel any jealousy towards Feng Zheng. He knew his current predicament was entirely his own fault and no one else’s.

“You’re not wrong. Song Juhan doesn’t have feelings for anyone, and he never had feelings for me, either. Back then, we were so young, and we thought our mutual favorable feelings for each other could turn into something more. At that age, we were afraid to express an interest toward the opposite sex, so we turned that curiousity to the same sex instead. With a light-hearted and playful attitude, we thought we could be together. But you know what both our personalities were like. We might have worked as friends, but in terms of a romantic relationship we were unwilling to lose to the other. In the end, our feelings morphed into resentment and hatred.”

“I don’t want to know about any of that.”

“No, let me finish. Since everything’s already out in the open, just let me say this once and for all… At least that way you can thoroughly give up and move on.”

He Gu closed his eyes, tightened his fist, and acquiesced. 

Feng Zheng let out a sigh of relief. “We grew up as family friends, so even after we broke up, we would always see each other. On the surface we could still pass as friends, but deep down we had both changed. Whoever I got close to, he would do anything to sabotage it. Likewise, whatever he had, I wanted it too. At that time, we were both trying to come out on top, and just wanted to steal each other’s limelight. A few years later, he moved abroad, and by the time he came back I thought we had both grown up… I thought he had matured, but the moment I saw the way he was looking at you, I started to worry again.”

He Gu revealed a bitter smile. 

“When I found out about you two, I went looking for him and we ended up in a huge fight.” Feng Zheng gritted his teeth and continued, “I asked him why he was being such a jerk, and he said he just wanted to see what kind of a man someone like me could’ve possibly fallen for. He said you…” Feng Zheng breathed deeply before fiercely gritting out, “He said you were nothing special.”

He Gu wasn’t sure how he managed to endure listening to Feng Zheng until the very end. It must have been because all the blood in his heart had already dried up completely, and there was simply nothing else he could lose at this point. 

If he thought about it from Song Juhan’s perspective, of course he was “nothing special.”

All these years, He Gu had been looking at him with eyes filled with longing and adoration. With just a little smile or a simple word from Song Juhan, his heart would race and his face would blush uncontrollably. Even without much effort from Song Juhan, He Gu would easily give himself up to him every time. The He Gu from back then was basically walking around with a sign on his forehead saying “please f*ck me.”

Song Juhan must’ve looked at him with such disdain and irreverence as He Gu embarrassingly threw himself at him. He must’ve thought Feng Zheng’s taste in men was laughable, and felt arrogantly proud at the power of his own charm. The mere thought made He Gu shiver all over. 

If He Gu didn’t even take himself seriously, how could someone like Song Juhan take him seriously?

The whole situation was too sickening. Even He Gu felt like he was looking down upon himself.

Ten long years of secretly being in love with him, and six years of staying by his side—all that time was handed over to a man that not only played him, but also looked down on him. In the end, his life only amounted to a joke. It was utterly laughable and tragic.

This wake up call really hit home. 

Feng Zheng tried to persuade him as he sincerely said, “He Gu, Song Juhan was never a good person. You’re still young, so it’s good that you’ve finally seen his true colors. Now that you have, it’s not too late to go and live your own life.”

Absentmindedly, He Gu answered, “En.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Feng Zheng asked, “So can you… can you forgive me?”

He Gu was silent for a while. “You did nothing wrong. But since I did once treat you as my friend, I can’t forgive you.” With that, He Gu hung up the call. 

It no longer mattered whether He Gu found out or not—everything was out in the open now. He was finally forced to face the embarrassing relationship he had with Song Juhan and to have every little detail revealed under the sun, allowing everyone to see the bloody state of his heart. Only then would he no longer be able to make excuses for himself, to cover up more mistakes, or to find ways of forgiving his own actions in the last six years.

Perfect, just perfect.

Perhaps the only way to survive is to first go through hell1置之死地而后生 – This idiom comes from Sunzi’s The Art of War. It means “only when one is placed on a field of death, will they fight to live.”.

As he had told Chen Shan, He Gu returned to work the next day. Oddly, the second he walked into the office, all heads turned to stare at him. 

He Gu calmly asked, “What’s wrong? Does my complexion look that bad?”

After a moment, a dajie from the administrative department answered, “It does look quite bad, Chief He. Your body is your most important capital investment after all.”

“Oh, thank you. I’ll pay more attention to it.”

“Umm, Chief He,” the administrative dajie wanted to say something else but stopped halfway.

Chen Shan tried desperately to signal her with her eyes, but the dajie seemed to ignore her warning as her curiosity got the better of her. “Chief He, Song Juhan was on the news recently because of a fight. We were just looking at the photos and noticed that one of the faces looks awfully like you.”

He Gu’s expression didn’t give away a single thing as he said, “Really? How similar is it?”

The dajie quickly pulled out a newspaper article from behind her as He Gu glanced at it, “En, it does look a bit similar.”

One of the other colleagues let out a sigh of relief. “Chen-jie, I told you it couldn’t possibly be Chief He. How could Chief He know Song Juhan and Zhuang Jieyu?”

Chen Shan stole a quick glance at He Gu. Even if no one else knew, she had clearly seen Zhuang Jieyu at He Gu’s home with her own two eyes.  

He Gu answered expressionlessly, “Hurry and go back to work now. If I see you all gossiping again during work hours, I will have to punish you next time.”

Everyone backed away. 

“Chen Shan, you come in,” said He Gu before walking into his office. 

Chen Shan followed him in and closed the door behind her. In a quiet voice she asked, “Chief He, are you okay?”

“I’m a lot better.” He Gu turned on his computer as he massaged his temples. “My mind has been a little fuzzy lately. Can you just summarize the main points and the progress from the last few days for me, and be more specific.”

“That’s not what I was talking about, Chief He. I was asking…” Chen Shan paused for a second before she cautiously asked again, “Are you… are you really okay?”

He Gu was stunned as he stared at Chen Shan for a moment. “Yes, the person that was fighting with Song Juhan that day was me. Thank you for keeping it a secret for me. You really are a reliable colleague and friend.” 

Chen Shan nodded her head vigorously, “Don’t worry, Chief He. I will definitely keep your secret for you. Although I don’t know how you two met or what caused the conflict, I trust my understanding of Chief He’s character. It must have been Song Juhan’s problem, and I’m not saying this because I’m biased, but I know the people of the entertainment industry have never been decent people. There’s always been a lot of gossip about him. Thank goodness your relationship with Zhuang Jieyu hasn’t been affected by this.”

He Gu was too lazy to explain himself. “En. Since this incident has nothing to do with my work, just treat it as if it never happened.”

“Yes, of course.”

Chen Shan summarized what happened in the past few days when he was away as He Gu quickly noted down the important points. For the first time, he felt how his emotional instability could affect his IQ.  He wondered when he would step out from this muddled state of mind and get better. 

Chen Shan left after she finished reporting about the project progress. He Gu tried earnestly to focus on the project information at hand, but he kept getting distracted. 

Just as he started to focus again, his phone began to ring. He Gu picked up his phone and saw that it was a call from Gu Qingpei.

He Gu anticipated that Gu Qingpei must’ve also seen the news articles. Even if the photo was blurry, it wouldn’t be able to fool those who were close to him. Besides, Gu Qingpei already knew about his relationship with Song Juhan. He Gu wanted to avoid this conversation, but in the end, he still answered the phone, “Hello, Chief Gu.”

“He Gu, are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” In order to avoid unnecessary chit-chat, He Gu got straight to the point, “Song Juhan and I have separated.”

Gu Qingpei took a long breath before he asked, “Is it because of Zhuang Jieyu?”

“… En.”

“And what about Feng Zheng?”

He Gu froze for a moment. “How do you know about Feng Zheng?”

“Yuan Yang told me about it.”

“Yuan Yang?”

Gu Qingpei coughed. “He’s working as my assistant-slash-driver right now.” 

“Oh.” He Gu suddenly remembered something. When he was on that video call with Gu Qingpei, the “driver” that stormed in sounded exactly like Yuan Yang’s voice. What exactly was happening between them? That day, they seemed completely incompatible and at each other’s throats, but now they seem to have reconciled again…

Seeing as He Gu didn’t want to say more, Gu Qingpei didn’t probe further, and instead said, “He Gu, if you ever want someone to talk to, I am always here to listen.”

“Maybe later. Right now I want to… I just want to finish my work at hand and then take a long vacation.”

“Of course. You really do need a long vacation. If you need anything, do let me know.” Gu Qingpei was silent for a moment before he added, “He Gu, I know you must feel awful right now. But believe me, one day when you look back, you will realize this was a good thing. It is never too late to leave someone that isn’t right for you and return to the correct path.”

He Gu sighed, “Thank you.”

After he hung up, He Gu was left in a daze for a long while before he was able to focus on work again. He needed to distract himself with work so that he wouldn’t keep thinking about Song Juhan every minute and every second.

When he got home that night, He Gu found Zhuang Jieyu and Xiao Song waiting for him at his door. The atmosphere between the two seemed a little off, as if swords were drawn and a battle was about to ensue.

He Gu frowned. “What are you guys doing here?”

“Of course I’m here to take care of you.” Zhuang Jieyu answered matter-of-factly. 

On the other hand, Xiao Song stuttered, “He Gu-ge, I’m… I’m here to see you. I was afraid…”

“Xiao Song.” He Gu cut him off. “I know what you’re here for, and I really don’t want to listen to any of it. You should leave.”

“Ge, it really isn’t…” Xiao Song looked as if he was on the verge of tears.

“I really don’t want to hear it. It doesn’t matter what you want to say.”

Zhuang Jieyu glared at him. “See, you heard him. He doesn’t want to hear it. Plus, he’s not feeling well right now. Can you stop annoying him?”

Xiao Song angrily bit back, “Who are you to interfere in He Gu-ge and Song Juhan’s relationship?!”

“Hey! Aren’t you also interfering?”

Xiao Song’s face flushed bright red as he turned to He Gu and said anxiously, “He Gu-ge, you don’t have to believe me, but I’m honestly not here to persuade you to reconcile with Han-ge. I really am worried about you, and I just wanted to come see how you were doing… These past few days, Han-ge has also been in quite a bad state. It’s all my fault. If it wasn’t for my rotten idea, you guys wouldn’t have run into each other that day. I feel so bad about it…”

“It has nothing to do with you.” He Gu opened the door without looking at him and said, “But you should leave now.” 

Xiao Song nervously raised his voice, “He Gu-ge! At least believe me when I say this—Han-ge cares about you, he really does care about you. Even if you aren’t with Han-ge anymore, you are still my ‘ge.’ Please feel better soon!” 

He Gu’s chest clenched in pain. He didn’t say anything. All he wanted at that moment was to get rid of anything and everything related to Song Juhan. He wanted to isolate himself from it, to shut the door and get it all out of his sight.

“Hey, hey, hey.” Zhuang Jieyu used his foot to hold the door open before forcefully squeezing himself in behind He Gu. He then turned around and gave Xiao Song a harsh glare as he slammed the door in his face. 

He Gu put down his work bag and glanced at Zhuang Jieyu. “Are you going to just stay here for good? Don’t you have anything else to do?”

“What’s wrong with me staying here? I’m so adorable and humorous, isn’t it nice when I make you laugh?” Zhuang Jieyu said with a wide smile as he tried to influence He Gu’s negative emotions with his own cheerfulness. He Gu had been acting like a walking corpse for the last few days, and it was making Zhuang Jieyu anxious. 

“Did your agency give you a hard time?” He Gu asked as he took off his coat.

Zhuang Jieyu froze for a second before his eyes turned gloomy. “They’re all talk. Plus, I’m too lazy to care right now. In any case, at least I managed to get famous for a while there. As long as the Song father-son duo don’t hold me accountable for this, the agency will continue to support me. But if they do, then I’ll be shelved2雪藏 –  lit. to be covered and hidden by snow. This is used to describe celebrities that are spurned and hidden away by their agency, and are no longer allowed to attend events or public appearances..” He shrugged, then added, “I’ve gotten over it now. This won’t be the end of me anyway. I’ll just see how it goes…”

“En. If you have so much free time, you should study a bit more. You can’t just rely on your face for the rest of your life.”

“I hate studying. Also, I’ve never been smart anyways. It seems all the nutrients went to my face instead.” Zhuang Jieyu grabbed He Gu’s shoulders and shook him gently as he said like a spoiled child, “He-shushu, are you going to teach me how to study?”

He Gu said, “You should go to university.”

Zhuang Jieyu paled as if he had seen a ghost. “Hell no.”

“Then what can you do?”

“I… Maybe I’ll just start that Taobao shop instead.”

He Gu shook his head.

“I’ll go make dinner!” Zhuang Jieyu rolled up his sleeves and said, “You can rest first. Let me show you just how virtuous3贤慧 – a wise and kind “wife.” A woman that is perfect in her traditional roles I can be.”

He Gu changed his clothes and sat down on the sofa to rest for a bit. Although he wasn’t physically tired, his mental state was completely worn out. His mind felt dizzy and drowsy as if he had no energy at all. 

Picking up the remote control, He Gu turned on the television, wanting to watch the evening news. Unexpectedly, the channel was still set on the entertainment channel he had last watched, and was currently showing the latest scandal on Song Juhan. He was suspected of fighting at a restaurant due to a jealous lover’s affair. This time, the news spread too fast. Even with Song He’s far-reaching influence, he couldn’t always control everything. 

For a long while, He Gu stared numbly at Song Juhan’s photo on the television screen before he switched to the news channel. 

It was almost impossible to erase all the traces of that person from his life—he was everywhere no matter where he looked.

He Gu just wanted to wipe his memories completely.

Proofread by Lizonka and Ess

Chapter 33


He Gu stumbled his way to his car, his whole body trembling weakly down to every fingertip. Even after trying quite a few times, he still couldn’t get the key in the ignition to start it. In the end, he angrily threw the keys aside and collapsed in his seat. 

His eyes were sore from rubbing them vigorously to force himself from shedding any more embarrassing tears. 

His brain seemed to have stopped working completely. There were a million thoughts running through his mind, but at the same time the thoughts seemed empty and inconsequential.

All his chaotic thoughts eventually faded into two piercingly painful words—Song Juhan. 

He Gu remembered how Vanessa once told him about the origin of Song Juhan’s name. Song He had always been a very arrogant individual. When choosing his son’s name, he used the implied meaning behind the phrase, “It’s lonely living at the top.1居高处而不胜寒 – The name ‘Juhan’ (居寒) takes the first and last characters from this phrase. The character ‘居/Ju’ means ‘to live’ and ‘寒/Han’ means cold, which in this case can mean lonely.” Although the phrase didn’t sound quite auspicious, Song He didn’t seem to care about Song Juhan being “lonely.” All that mattered from that phrase was the second half—he only cared about his son living a life at the top. 

Song He’s high hopes and ambitions for his son had all been realized. As his name suggested, Song Juhan lived at the top with an invisible sword in hand that could seemingly kill anyone without ever touching a drop of blood. 

In the end, more than six years of constant struggles and persistence turned out to be a passing joke. He Gu couldn’t even find a shred of energy to hate Song Juhan or Feng Zheng. Even He Gu, himself, felt like he deserved it. 

He deserved it all, for willingly giving up his heart for anyone to trample on. There was no one he could blame for that. 

Song Juhan. Just repeating those three simple syllables in his head made He Gu feel like even his breathing was excruciatingly painful. 

The fuse finally burnt to the end.


That day, He Gu was sent home by Peng Fang’s driver. 

After he got home, he lay in bed without moving an inch. Although he couldn’t fall asleep, he simply lay there. 

To say He Gu had been depressed for the last three days would have been nothing compared to how he felt right now. It was like he was alive but dead at the same time, drained of every drop of blood from the inside out. 

In the middle of the night, the piercing sound of the doorbell broke through the chilling silence. 

He Gu didn’t react as the doorbell continued to ring endlessly. Eventually, it changed to violent banging on the door and He Gu could dazedly make out the sound of Zhuang Jieyu’s voice. 

Tired, He Gu didn’t even want to lift a finger, but in the end he forced himself to get out of bed to open the door. 

Zhuang Jieyu looked at him all over before letting out a sigh of relief. “You scared me half to death.”

He Gu looked at him expressionlessly, and said in an eerily vacant voice, “Why? Were you afraid I would kill myself?”

“No, no.” Zhuang Jieyu clutched his hair for a moment, and added, “It’s good that you’re fine.”

He Gu turned to walk back into the apartment, and Zhuang Jieyu immediately followed behind him, trying to explain himself. “Song Juhan called me out today. He said that as long as I went with him, he would let everything go. I really didn’t know you would be there as well!”

He Gu turned a deaf ear to Zhuang Jieyu’s explanation, since he no longer cared. After all these years, Song Juhan still enjoyed using the same tactics to provoke others. His immaturity and viciousness were utterly incomparable.

A sad look crossed Zhuang Jieyu’s eyes when he noticed He Gu not reacting at all to his explanation. “Stop being like this, okay? Song Juhan is a bastard. You… you should stop loving him. He’s not worth it.”

Even an outsider could see it clearly… He Gu really wanted to laugh out loud, but his chest was hurting so much. He turned his back to Zhuang Jieyu and squeezed his chest with his fist, trying to disperse that suffocating feeling. 

Zhuang Jieyu moved around He Gu to stand in front of him again. With a bitter smile, he said, “To be honest, who hasn’t experienced a broken heart once in their life? But don’t worry, time will heal everything. I know you’re feeling horrible right now, and since I have nothing better to do, I’ll stay by your side until you feel better. You know I’m a very cheerful person to be around, so I’m sure you’ll feel better really soon.”

He Gu wanted to decline his offer, but he was too lazy to open his mouth. He didn’t have the energy to deal with him because he knew Zhuang Jieyu was someone that could easily wear down those around him. Perhaps having a talkative person like him around would really help him feel better.

He Gu didn’t say anything, but Zhuang Jieyu didn’t find it awkward as he minded his own business and said, “You must be hungry. I brought some groceries with me. You should know my culinary skills are quite good. Just wait over there and I’ll make you something good.”

He Gu sat on the sofa aimlessly. Although his mind was clearer now, his body was still low on energy, and he didn’t want to do anything. He stared blankly ahead. Only after a long while did he realize he had been staring at the television. The same television he spent two months of his wages on in hopes that Song Juhan would come over more often to play video games.

Song Juhan once used this television to sing for him—singing only for him alone. 

He Gu’s body trembled so hard, he struggled to breathe as he tried desperately to resist the building feeling of despair. Taking deep breaths, he closed his eyes and clenched his fists tightly. 

After making the food, Zhuang Jieyu led He Gu over to the dining table and urged him to eat. He Gu really had no appetite, so he put down his chopsticks after two tiny bites. 

Zhuang Jieyu helplessly said, “Is it not tasty? I think it tastes quite good, you should have a bit more.”

He Gu lifted his head. It was the first time he had looked Zhuang Jieyu in the eyes since the younger man had barged into his home. “I’m just not hungry.”

“How are you not hungry? I don’t think you’ve had any food since… since this afternoon.”

He Gu shook his head and stood up. He decided to go back to bed and try to sleep.

Zhuang Jieyu followed him into his bedroom and watched as He Gu curled up under the blanket. Then he walked over to the edge of the bed and gently touched He Gu’s forehead as he said softly, “You’ll get better soon, I promise.”

“It doesn’t matter to me whether I get better or not,” said He Gu quietly.

Seeing He Gu’s desperate and distressed expression, Zhuang Jieyu’s heart clenched. He couldn’t help but lean down and kiss the corner of He Gu’s eyebrow. “Whether you get better or not, I’ll be here with you.”

The next day, Chen Shan came to visit. She said He Gu was often sick lately, and that their boss was worried He Gu was overworking himself to the point something serious could happen to his health. He had especially asked her to come check on his condition and see whether he needed to take a long vacation. 

Chen Shan was shocked when she saw Zhuang Jieyu opening the door, but immediately changed to an expression of understanding. 

Zhuang Jieyu frowned, then turned to look at her. “You are…”

“I am Chief He’s assistant.”

“Oh, of course. We met last time,” Zhuang Jieyu greeted her naturally. “Jie, please don’t mention this outside…” Even though Zhuang Jieyu was just an up-and-coming actor, he still had to consider his public image. 

An expression of understanding flashed across Chen Shan’s face again as she quickly said, “Don’t worry, I won’t. I understand. Where is Chief He? What happened to him?”

Zhuang Jieyu didn’t want to let her in, but he couldn’t seem to find an excuse to refuse her, so he helplessly said, “He’s not feeling very well right now, and needs plenty of rest. So don’t talk for too long.”

“Okay, no problem.”

The instant He Gu saw Chen Shan, he snapped out of his daze momentarily as if waking from a confusing dream. “Why are you here?

“Director Sun told me to come.” Chen Shan frowned, and felt a feeling of unease. “Chief He, it’s just been a few days since we last saw each other, why have you gotten so skinny? Have you been to the hospital yet? What is going on with you?”

“My stomach is acting up again.” He Gu made up a random lie. 

“Oh, you must be overworking yourself and forgetting to eat your meals properly.” Chen Shan sighed. “Director Sun wanted me to ask you whether you wanted to take a long vacation.”

He Gu took quite a while to react to that sentence. Eventually, he shook his head and said, “If I take a long vacation now, what would happen to the two projects I’m managing at the moment?” 

“I don’t know. But last month, a company in Shanghai had an incident where an engineer died from overwork, so Director Sun has been on edge. He’s afraid something will happen to you.”

“It’s not that serious,” He Gu said calmly. “I’ll rest for… one more day, then I’ll come back to work.”

Standing on the side, Zhuang Jieyu exclaimed, “You’re already like this and you’re still thinking of going back to work?!”

Chen Shan also added, “Yes Chief He, you should take it easy. The boss has already said you could take a long vacation.”

He Gu took a deep breath. His brain felt extremely sluggish, and every response took him a long while to think through before he could even open his mouth to speak. Never in his life had He Gu ever felt his brain being uncooperative before. After finally clarifying his thoughts, he replied, “Chen Shan, you’ve been assisting me for so long now, you should clearly know the situation at hand. I’ve been handling these two projects from beginning to end, there’s no way we can just hand them over to anyone right now. If the construction period is delayed, then not only the company’s money will be lost, but also our reputation. Chinese New Year is less than a month away. I can hold out and just take a long vacation then.”

Chen Shan really admired He Gu’s work ethic as she said, “Chief He, you really are very dedicated to your work.”

He Gu replied, “You should go back now, and please tell Director Sun I’m fine.”

“Okay. Oh yes, I forgot to mention these are the health supplements Director Sun told me to bring for you. He said they’re caterpillar fungus2 冬虫夏草 – Cordyceps sinensis is an exotic medicinal mushroom often used in traditional Chinese medicine. The hand-collected, fungus-caterpillar body is valued by herbalists as medicine, and because of its cost, its use is also a status symbol. (Wikipedia) worth over thirty thousand per 50 grams.” Chen Shan handed over the bag to Zhuang Jieyu, and unable to hold back a slight smile, she added, “Chief He, you two look great together.” 

Zhuang Jieyu proudly announced, “See, those with pretty eyes also have a great way of looking at things.”

Chen Shan smiled happily at the compliment.

After she left, Zhuang Jieyu tried his best to distract He Gu by teasing him, “Shushu, didn’t you hear what your assistant said? She said we’re a great-looking couple.”

He Gu ignored him as he reached for the laptop sitting on the bedside table. He needed to check his emails. 

“Hey, hey, hey, you’re not allowed to work right now. Hurry up and finish your food first.”

“Didn’t I already finish eating?”

“What you had was breakfast, look at the time now!” Without another word, Zhuang Jieyu reached over and shut the laptop screen with a slap. “Come on, let’s go eat.”

Unable to fight back, He Gu had no other choice but to follow the other man out of the room to eat. 

Zhuang Jieyu had many common traits of a modern youth, such as his phone never leaving his hands. Even as he ate, he continued to scroll through his phone. Suddenly, a WeChat notification popped up. It was a message from the boss of his agency. When he tapped open the message, an angry voice message said, “Zhuang Jieyu! What’s the matter between you and Song Juhan?!”

Zhuang Jieyu was surprised as he didn’t expect such an aggressive message. Although he wanted to quickly mute the audio, it was already too late. Very carefully, he lifted his eyes to observe He Gu’s expression, worried that the audio message might have upset him again.

He Gu’s hands paused for a brief second before he recovered and continued to eat with his head down. 

To be honest, Zhuang Jieyu didn’t have to worry about triggering He Gu because he had never actually stopped thinking about the events of that day. Every thought in his mind was occupied by it as He Gu thought back to everything that happened between them in the last few years. He couldn’t get the thoughts out of his head. At the very least, at the moment, he wasn’t able to move on. 

Zhuang Jieyu nervously picked up his phone and said, “It’s… it’s my boss. I’m gonna go make a call.”

Still with his head down, He Gu didn’t respond as he continued to eat. 

With his phone in hand, Zhuang Jieyu walked to the balcony to make his call. 

After a good five minutes, He Gu realized that Zhuang Jieyu was only wearing a thin set of home clothes. It must have been freezing him to death standing out on the balcony for so long, so he went to get a coat for him.

Just as he approached the balcony, He Gu happened to overhear Zhuang Jieyu say with a lowered voice, “Chief Cai, of course I wouldn’t dare fight with him. It really wasn’t me, it was someone else. I just happened to be there at the time.”

He Gu was stunned. The events of that day had been leaked to the public?

He watched as Zhuang Jieyu hugged himself and rubbed his arms, shivering from the cold. He Gu snapped out of his daze and pushed open the door.  Zhuang Jieyu jumped in surprise and quickly slammed his lips together without saying another word.

He Gu handed the coat over as Zhuang Jieyu hurriedly draped it over his shoulders. After He Gu closed the balcony door, he turned around and pulled out his phone to search: Song Juhan.

The search brought up numerous articles, all related to the latest gossip of Song Juhan fighting at a restaurant. Every article hinted at Zhuang Jieyu’s involvement, and even included a few blurry photos. He Gu enlarged the images and could clearly make out Song Juhan and Zhuang Jieyu. Amongst the photos, he was only captured with a vague side profile.

The person that had secretly taken the photos obviously didn’t know what had actually happened. So they took the only two familiar faces at the scene and ambiguously suggested their own story: Song Juhan and Zhuang Jieyu had started a fight at a restaurant. The reason was suspected to be due to a jealous rivalry in a love affair. 

Previously, rumors of Song Juhan’s bisexuality had already spread everywhere. The entertainment industry’s attitude towards this was that as long as it wasn’t flaunted in everyone’s faces, it could be used for hype, but it must never be laid out bare for everyone to know.

Because Song Juhan had always been protected by Song He and Vanessa, there was rarely any negative news about him within the entertainment circle. Things like last minute no-showing for a live reality event, or fighting with a photographer on set, all these were covered up by Song He’s influence. However, photos leaked online by an unknown outsider were out of Song He’s control. By the time he found out, it had spread everywhere, and it was already too late for him to suppress them. 

He Gu scrolled through the articles as a sudden realization crossed his mind—his attention had somehow drifted back to Song Juhan again. Frustratedly, he threw his phone onto the sofa as if it was a hot potato.

At that moment, Zhuang Jieyu came back in holding his frozen and reddened nose. With a gloomy expression on his face, he let out a deep sigh.

“Is it because of what happened yesterday?” He Gu asked.

Zhuang Jieyu nodded his head. “I haven’t been online today, so I didn’t know the issue has already caused such a huge ruckus.” He sighed deeply then said, “So I guess I’m famous now? But my boss is saying that I must be messed up in the head to dare and provoke the Song father and son duo. I spent ages explaining it to him, and only then did he finally believe me when I said I wasn’t the one that was fighting with Song Juhan.”

He Gu lowered his head and didn’t say anything again. 

Zhuang Jieyu quickly added, “Don’t worry about it, you aren’t even captured in the pictures. The heat of this gossip will pass after a few days, and no one will care about it then. It’s always like that in the entertainment industry.”


Suddenly, He Gu’s phone that had been left on the sofa started to ring. Like an obedient lackey, Zhuang Jieyu rushed over to get He Gu’s phone for him, and even read out the name displayed on the caller ID, “Feng… Zheng?!”

He Gu lifted his head abruptly.

Zhuang Jieyu clutched the phone tightly in his hands, unsure whether he should hand the phone over or not. Just like everyone else present during the confrontation, Zhuang Jieyu wasn’t sure what happened between He Gu and Song Juhan to cause their grievances and conflict. The only thing to be sure about was that it had something to do with a person named “Feng Zheng.”

He Gu felt a shiver run through his entire body, goosebumps prickling his skin. The thought of Feng Zheng brought forth a deep sense of humiliation within him. 

Zhuang Jieyu swallowed visibly then said, “Let’s not answer the phone, yeah?”

He Gu was silent for a moment before he stretched out his hand and calmly said, “Give me the phone.”

Zhuang Jieyu let out a deep sigh, and ended up handing over the phone unwillingly. “So umm… I’m gonna go to the bedroom to warm up a little. You guys talk.” Without making a fuss, he went to the bedroom and closed the door behind him. 

He Gu stared at the name displayed on his phone screen. With a steady sense of determination, he answered the call, “Hello.”

“He Gu.” Feng Zheng’s voice sounded very anxious over the phone. “I saw the news on the internet. Were you the person Song Juhan was fighting with at the restaurant?!”

He Gu calmly replied, “Yes, it was me.”

“What happened? What did Song Juhan do to you?”

“What Song Juhan did to me doesn’t matter anymore. But there is a question I’d like to ask you.” He Gu clenched his fists in a deathly grip as if he was holding onto the last thread of his self-esteem. 

Although Feng Zheng had a faint bad feeling about this, he lowered his voice and said, “Go on.”

“Why?” He Gu breathed out, his eyes turning red almost instantly. That one simple word triggered a turmoil of emotions within him, and only then did He Gu realize just how much he wanted to throw his clenched fist into Feng Zheng’s face. He could barely restrain this growing violent anger as he gritted his teeth and said, “Why! Why didn’t you tell me you and Song Juhan used to be together?!”

Proofread by Lizonka and Ess

Chapter 65: Stripped Nak*d (End of Vol. 3)

“Not going yet? What are you still looking at?” Hua Yi stood with Chang An for a long time. He rubbed his hands and touched Chang An’s. It was so cold. Swearing at him, he took off his animal hide robe, put it over Chang An’s neck, and angrily strangled him with it.

Chang An coughed as he was strangled. Struggling a bit, he patted Hua Yi and said in a hoarse voice, “Stop it. I feel uncomfortable.”

Hua Yi reached out and hugged Chang An’s waist. He didn’t know if it was because of his frozen hands, but he’d always felt that Chang An’s body was very hard, like a cold stone slab which you couldn’t bend and couldn’t feel any heat from. If you really wanted to let him go with you, you had to pull him up and carry him away.

For a moment, Hua Yi was silent. Then he sighed and said, “Although your freak master is not a good thing… it’s very nice having someone like him.”

Chang An glanced at him. “You’re the one who’s not a good thing.”

Hua Yi slightly lowered his head, the tip of his nose brushing against Chang An’s hair. He’d always thought his body smelled good. Smiling faintly, he said, “Then aren’t you too pitiful? All the people around you aren’t good things.”

The road Bei Shi and Hai Lan left on was far and long. The beach was moist, so as people walked on it, there wasn’t any bleak smoke and dust. It was as if there was something long connecting to those who walked ahead. Maybe when one looked up, they would have already returned.

“You know, when you have nothing else to do, you can think of those people,” Hua Yi pressed against Chang An’s ear and said softly. “Guess where he is now, and guess if he’s as drunk as a dead dog again… Okay, okay, I didn’t mean to scold him, why are you glaring at me? Maybe one day, you’ll look down the city gate and, aiyo, the old bastard is back. That’s much better than me. I have lived for more than twenty years, but I’ve had nobody to think about.”

Chang An looked a little relaxed. He said softly, “You don’t have to say it. I know.”

“What do you know? You’re a stubborn, little donkey man1驴人 – slang for someone dumb and stubborn who grew up in a honeypot.” Hua Yi put his hands around Chang An’s waist, and pulled him up from the ground with all his strength as if he was carrying a big wooden stake. Then, holding him upright, he carried Chang An into the city.

Hua Yi’s arms were like cast iron, but there was still room to loosen them and push Chang An up. Wrapped around the waist, Chang An looked down at him.

No one had ever carried him like a baby before. Chang An didn’t know where to put his hands and feet, and for a moment, they were stiff. In the end, he put them on Hua Yi’s shoulders. He felt that this was very shameful, but he only frowned. He hesitated for a moment but didn’t protest.

Chang An actually liked it when people got close to him. He didn’t hate hugging either, but somehow, there weren’t many people who wanted to get close to him.

Bei Shi left him feeling sad. Hua Yi was willing to hug him at this time, and Chang An felt comforted.

“You still have your old bastard of a master, but what about me? I only have you.” Hua Yi softened his voice and fixed his eyes on Chang An’s face, which he’d been infatuated with since the very beginning. “Am I not more pitiful than you?”

Chang An heard him deliberately selling goodness, and finally showed a little smile. “Nonsense. You are the Chief. Everybody listens to you, and your prestige is terrible. How are you pitiful?”

Hua Yi pressed his head into his arms and, groping in the dark, walked along the original road. The area outside the city gates was vast, but since there weren’t many people, he wasn’t afraid of bumping into things. He said in a muffled voice, “How are you the same as others?”

These words stirred Chang An’s heart all of a sudden, as if a hand had gently touched it. It jumped a bit quicker with a buzzing and tingling sensation, and following the wind close to the end of winter, it gave out a nice and warm air of its own. Like a sip of dry, warm wine, it rolled warmly into his stomach, melted into heat, and flowed into his limbs and bones.

He was at a loss for a moment, but then he raised Hua Yi’s face, lowered his head, and gently kissed Hua Yi on the forehead.

Hua Yi looked at him in a daze, but then Chang An suddenly committed a crime. He squeezed his ice-cold hands onto Hua Yi’s neck, immediately jolting Hua Yi awake from his spring dream. His whole person shivered, and he almost jumped three feet high.

Chang An jumped down and ran away like a rabbit.

Hua Yi shrank his neck, then chased after him, laughing and scolding, “Little brat, don’t you have a conscience?”

Bu Dong was sitting at the city gate tower, leisurely crossing his legs and inappropriately grinding his blade on the sole of his shoe when he saw Chang An and their Chief playfully chasing each other.

As soon as they reached the city gates, Hua Yi reached out and grabbed Chang An’s belt. Chang An was afraid his pants would be pulled off in public, so he quickly stopped in his tracks, letting Hua Yi completely catch him. Hua Yi grabbed him by the waist and swung him over his shoulder like a sack. And just like that, he carried him into the city, walking with a swagger and with a smug look on his face.

Bu Dong smacked his lips and sighed, “Aiyo, aiyo.

Suo Laimu interjected, “Aiyo what, old thing? Don’t wear off the soles of your shoes.”

Bu Dong rolled his eyes and said, “I have my own woman to remake it for me, so what? You jealous?”

Bu Dong, in spite of his old age, disrespectfully glanced at Suo Laimu’s lower body. “Hehe,” he laughed. “I can see that if your second uncle and that guy still didn’t leave, the Chief would be so suffocated, he’d burst into flames. How come you have no desires? Are you missing a part?”

Suo Laimu said insipidly, “How could that be? I’m not any less indecent than you.”

Bu Dong narrowed his eyes and said meaningfully, “You ah, you’re no longer young. It’s time to start a family. I have a little daughter who will become an adult next year. She’s very gentle and quiet. She just doesn’t like going out. Wanna take a look at her?”

Suo Laimu bowed his head, and nobody could tell what his expression was. After a moment, he said, “I’m just a sub-beast that can’t hold anything on my shoulders and can’t raise up anything with my hands. Right now, I have the false reputation of an Elder, but in reality, that bullshit ability is nothing, so what am I? Little girls are all fond of great heroes. Don’t rely on being someone’s laozi to mess with the mandarin ducks2metaphor for a couple. Beware that she’ll resent you for life.”

Bu Dong heard the rejection in his voice and said no more. He just lowered his head and focused on damaging the soles of his own shoes as he said rudely, “Also, you’re such a fool. If my grandson takes after you, I’ll have to worry about losing many good years in my life. Let’s forget it.”

In the distance, the mermaid began to use his fake mournful crying again to piece together a unique song, and the voices of the children running and shouting was faintly mixed with it. The row of enemy heads on the city wall had become stiff. After being displayed for several days, they were finally taken off, and the last bit of killing intent in them was washed away.

Suo Laimu smiled softly and did not refute Bu Dong. Peace of mind gave birth to happiness, and happiness gave birth to anxiety.

If only time could stop at this moment, he thought to himself. If only the hearts of the people are firm and long-lasting like all the stones on the city walls, and that decades are like a single day3几十年如一日 – means “to do something persistently,” but in this context, I guess SLM is just wishing for the days to be never-changing … then how nice would that be.

But when the heat became extremely hot, how could it not turn cold? And when the harsh winter became extremely cold, how could it not turn warm?

At this moment, the spring breeze had not yet arrived, but Hua Yi’s heart was burning hot.

He carried Chang An all the way back to the tent and locked the door behind him in passing. The stove pit on the ground was nice and warm. He threw Chang An onto the couch, pressed down on his joints, and said with a sinister smile, “I’ve caught you, now how can I get my revenge?”

Chang An was sweating all over from running. He was no longer cold, so he confidently said, “How about you ice me too?”

Hua Yi bent his fingers and flicked his forehead. “Tell me, how long have you been leaving me out in the cold?”

Chang An said with a smile, “What do you want to do about it?”

“Two crimes and one punishment. This is no good. I have to think about it carefully…” Hua Yi thought seriously for a long time and then said solemnly, “How about this, take off your clothes, and then let me tickle you.”

Chang An was speechless at such a curious proposal. Hua Yi was so shameless that he was embarrassed to say anything, so he instead put it into action—he lifted a foot and kicked Hua Yi off his body.

Hua Yi, however, shamelessly hugged his leg, seemingly having turned into a four-legged creature as he pounced on it like a hungry tiger. The more the two went on, the more they seemed to be going back to the beginning. They fought again on the bed, engaging in more than three hundred battles.

In the end, Hua Yi slyly triumphed with him speedily slipping his warm hand into Chang An’s pants.

The first time Chang An tried such affairs, the taste had gotten him coming back for more, and he was soon dizzy from being fiddled with. But this time, it felt different—and only now did he realize that Hua Yi had already stripped him naked.

Then the whole world seemed to turn upside down. Skin was next to skin, fitting tightly and intimately.

In the tent, away from the eyes of the others, their relationship blossomed like the first flowers of spring, the fragrance of which was overwhelming. It swept over the hearts of the lovers, planting a tree full of blooming flowers.4This whole paragraph was so difficult to translate, and especially that last phrase. Although I used “blooming flowers,” the raws was actually 灼灼其华 (zhuo zhuo qi hua), which is literally “burning/shining flowers.” And those 4 characters seem to be a reference from the poem 桃夭 (Tao Yao), where the line was used to congratulate a bride… so the whole line is basically a kind of well-wishes for marriage or something. I’m not so sure actually, but I’m tired, so just take it and go! …( _ _)ノ|

Winter would soon be over.

The Author has something to say:

I lied about the military situation5I think Priest is referring to the “man-made conflicts” she had mentioned was supposed to happen… idk. After thinking about it, I will still end the volume with this chapter. Otherwise, I can’t write the next volume~ Well, this is the last chapter of volume 3. Just imagine the meat part yourself.6(┬┬﹏┬┬)

Chapter 32


“Song Juhan and Feng Zheng used to have a thing.”

Used to have a thing.

Peng Fang’s words were like a heavy-duty torpedo exploding in He Gu’s heart. 

A thing? What does he mean by “a thing”? Does it really mean what I think it means?

Peng Fang was taken aback by the ashen look on He Gu’s face. “Hey, what’s wrong with you?”

It turned out that when one suffered a heavy blow, pain wouldn’t be their first reaction, but rather loss.

He Gu felt like he was hearing a voice from above. It seemed so unrealistic and frightening. Why would Peng Fang spout such nonsense? Song Juhan and Feng Zheng together? How was that possible?!

Those two were like mortal enemies. They were completely incompatible and had fallen out years ago…

Fallen out…

Out of nowhere, He Gu felt a sharp pain in his chest, making him stumble on the spot.

Peng Fang waved his hand in front of He Gu’s vacant eyes, looking confused. He grabbed on to support his swaying body and said, “He Gu, what is wrong with you? Do you have some kind of heart condition?”

With surprising strength, He Gu grabbed Peng Fang’s elbow, causing the other man to frown in pain. He Gu looked him straight in the eye with a vacant expression as he asked in a trembling voice, “When was it?”

“What do you mean ‘when was it’?” Peng Fang asked casually, his mind distracted by how He Gu had nearly fainted just a moment ago. He even considered calling an ambulance. 

Just as Peng Fang was thinking of that, He Gu shouted in his face, “When was it?! When did they have a thing?!”

Peng Fang was taken aback as he glanced at Yuan Yang. A mutual understanding dawned on them as they suddenly realized that there must be something going on between He Gu and Feng Zheng, hence the unexplainable outbreak from He Gu. 

Yuan Yang gloated at Peng Fang’s misery as he looked at the other man with an expression that screamed “look at what your big mouth did.” Peng Fang shrunk back in embarrassment, then opened his mouth to try and save the situation, “Um, about that… It’s actually nothing serious. It happened ages ago, and plus I think it was back when we were in junior high, so we were just children back then… I mean, who doesn’t have some youthful memories, right? Don’t think too much of it.”

The last shred of energy He Gu had left him as he slowly slumped against the nearby wall. He was completely dumbfounded by Peng Fang’s words.

Song Juhan and Feng Zheng… Feng Zheng and Song Juhan? 

So those two grew up as childhood sweethearts? And the only reason they grew apart was because they were used to always comparing themselves against each other. Their relationship eventually became so competitive that they even fought over lovers—fought over him. 

It shouldn’t have been such a surprise to He Gu, since this was what Feng Zheng and Song Juhan had told him personally. At least, this was what Feng Zheng had said. On the other hand, Song Juhan never refuted it, so He Gu naturally didn’t suspect him either. In that moment, He Gu couldn’t fathom how those two—who were always at each other’s necks—could have once had “a thing.”

How could this possibly be?

No, this was exactly it. This was exactly how everything could be explained clearly.

It would explain why Song Juhan took an interest in him instantly, and why Feng Zheng resented him for being with Song Juhan. Everything that happened in the last six or so years could be truthfully and cruelly explained by this.

But… what about him? 

He was… In the end, he was nothing to them.

He Gu was simply a supporting role to carry the plot along. His existence was merely to kick up a small storm between the two main characters. No matter what he did, the final narrative wouldn’t change for an insignificant character like himself.

How delusional he must’ve been to dare dream that Song Juhan would ever reciprocate his feelings?

This unrequited love that he had held for the last ten years, as well as the six years he spent accompanying Song Juhan at his side—they all counted for absolutely nothing. 

Right from the beginning, everything was a laughable joke.

How must Song Juhan have seen him? A pathetic man that easily clung to him after a few sweet words… Song Juhan must’ve thought his ex-boyfriend had horrible taste in men.

Likewise, how must Feng Zheng have seen him? He must’ve thought “Song Juhan only got close to you because of me, and yet you’re still eagerly rushing forward to get drawn in.”

All these years, they must have laughed at him countless times, jeering behind his back at his stupidity, his tragic life, and his ridiculous overestimation of his own worth. Even after Feng Zheng tried to warn him, He Gu still didn’t back down. He thought that he could freely stay by Song Juhan’s side as a casual “f*ck buddy.” But in the end, that was just an excuse he gave himself. Deep down, He Gu knew clearly in his heart that the only reason he stayed was because he couldn’t bear to leave Song Juhan. 

He was so deeply in love with him that he couldn’t help himself. He simply wasn’t willing to let go.

He Gu used everything in his power and exhausted all his energy into loving someone, but at the end of the day, he was played like a circus monkey for all these years.

On top of that, the one person He Gu truly regarded as his friend, the one that he felt the most guilt towards, watched him suffer through this joke for six long years. 

If Feng Zheng had just told him the truth right from the beginning, then no matter how thick-skinned He Gu was, there was no way he would have gotten involved with Song Juhan. 

But there were no “if’s” in life. He Gu had spent the most precious years of his life invested in a hopeless relationship, blindly moving himself to tears through his wishful thinking whilst unknowingly entertaining those around him. 

The realization made He Gu want to… want to throw up. 

Why was he still alive? Why couldn’t his shame and despair just kill him already?

Why? Just why did they have to treat him like this…

Peng Fang sensed the awkwardness in the air. He ran his fingers through his hair nervously and said, “He Gu, it’s not that bad, is it? Even if you and Feng Zheng are together now, you shouldn’t care about his relationships from over ten years ago. You’re a man, you should be more open-minded.”

He Gu didn’t seem to hear him as he turned around and stumbled out.

All he wanted was to get out of there. Just the thought of Song Juhan showing up later, or the idea that he would have to face him in person, made He Gu nauseous. 

Obviously concerned, Yuan Yang said to Peng Fang, “He doesn’t seem quite well, let Lao Zhao1老赵 – Old Zhao; probably the name of Peng Fang’s driver send him back.”

Peng Fang rushed forward to support He Gu. “He Gu, you can’t drive in your current state. Are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital? If not, I could have my driver send you home.”

He Gu turned a deaf ear to all as he ignored everything around him. At that moment, all external matters meant nothing to him; the only thing he cared about was to run away—to run far away from Song Juhan. 

Befuddled, Peng Fang felt as though his head would explode any minute. If he had known this would happen, he would have kept his blabbermouth shut. There was obviously trouble on the horizon, but there was nothing he could do about it now. He had no choice but to support He Gu, as he was truly afraid the man would collapse after a few more stumbling steps. 

Just as they got to the elevators, the doors opened with a ding. All five pairs of eyes looked at each other. 

Outside the elevator were He Gu, Peng Fang and Yuan Yang. 

Inside the elevator were Song Juhan and Zhuang Jieyu.

The instant Song Juhan saw He Gu, he froze momentarily. He then quickly recovered himself and pulled Zhuang Jieyu to his side. With an expression as if to show off his prowess, he looked down at He Gu.

Zhuang Jieyu panicked. “He Gu, you… what are you doing here?” His face was full of disbelief as he glanced from He Gu to Song Juhan. Although he was clearly angry, Zhuang Jieyu didn’t dare speak out. 

He Gu looked at the two of them with a hollow expression. 

On the other hand, Song Juhan lifted his chin flippantly and glanced at He Gu. “Hey, you don’t look so good. What’s wrong? Are you jealous? All I did was simply invite your ‘little monkey’ out for a meal.”

Distantly, He Gu heard himself speaking as if on autopilot, “Do you really enjoy doing petty things like this?”

“What things?” Song Juhan frowned as he asked. He could clearly sense that there was something odd about He Gu, but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was. All he knew was that the man in front of him seemed weirdly different from any other time he had seen him before. 

He Gu glared daggers at Song Juhan. A moment ago he was still leaning on Peng Fang, appearing so weak that he seemed on the verge of collapse, yet in the next second, the look in his eyes morphed into a frightening glare. He Gu pushed Peng Fang aside and shot forward like an unwavering arrow flying toward its target. Within two strides, he came face to face with Song Juhan.

In front of five pairs of shocked eyes, He Gu raised his fist and punched Song Juhan square in the face.

Despite Song Juhan and Yuan Yang being trained in martial arts, everything happened so fast that no one had time to react due to the abruptness of He Gu’s actions. 

The power of He Gu’s unexpected punch knocked Song Juhan off his feet as he flew backward and fell against the elevator doors with a loud bang. 

It just so happened that two waiters were passing by and instantly covered their mouths in shock as they recognized Song Juhan at a glance. 

“F*ck!” Peng Fang was the first to react as he rushed forward to hold He Gu back. “D*mn it He Gu, have you gone mad?!”

Yuan Yang turned his head to glare at the two waiters as he gritted out sternly, “Put your d*mn phones away and get lost!”

The two waiters were so scared, they ran off instantly. 

Zhuang Jieyu stood on the side as if trying to disappear into the wall behind him. He looked from He Gu to Song Juhan with an expression of complete and utter shock, like the world was about to end.

Song Juhan sat on the floor, stunned for a few seconds before using his thumb to slowly wipe off the blood oozing from the corner of his mouth. Then, ever so slowly, he raised his head. His cheeks were flushed red and throbbing fiercely, and the look in his eyes was so lethal it seemed as potent as the most poisonous snake. 

He Gu gasped heavily as all the hairs on his body stood on alert. He felt like something was violently clashing around in his body, and he urgently needed to find a channel to vent and distract himself from the unbearable pain it caused. 

“You. Hit. Me.” Song Juhan’s eyes were crimson red as he gritted out each word individually. “Because of Zhuang Jieyu? You… hit me?”

He Gu continued to heave uncontrollably. This was the first time in his life that he had been in such a state. Although he distinctly knew what he was doing, it was like his actions were being controlled by an intangible evil emotion deep inside him, as if his brain no longer had any input and was overtaken by pure emotions. 

In the next second, Song Juhan leapt up from the floor like a leopard. In the blink of an eye, he pushed Peng Fang aside and violently grabbed He Gu by the neck before pinning the man against the wall. Song Juhan’s tightly clenched and intimidating fist raised above his head as he shouted at He Gu, “You dare to hit me!”

He Gu’s cheeks flushed deeper as Song Juhan’s fingers tightened around his throat. He looked at the face before him, the same face of the man he had given his heart and soul to. At that moment, He Gu felt that even if he were to fall into hell, it still wouldn’t be as bad as this. 

Just as Song Juhan’s fist was about to descend on He Gu, he froze.

Was He Gu… crying?

Song Juhan watched as tears welled up in He Gu’s eyes, then overflowed and rolled down his flushed cheeks. One after another, the large teardrops fell directly onto his shirt collar.

Having known each other for all these years, Song Juhan had never seen He Gu cry before. Apart from the times he was teased and pleasured to the point of tears in bed, He Gu had never shown such strong emotions. 

He Gu’s personality had always been very calm, dependable, and manly. Even with such a rich and powerful person by his side, He Gu always dealt with everything himself. He never once asked for help even in his most desperate times of need. It wasn’t until a few years ago when He Gu showed a worried look for the first time ever that Song Juhan realized something had really gone wrong. One of the construction teams He Gu had been working with had a disagreement with the company because of a dispute over the project payment. In the end, they resorted to underhanded tactics by sending thugs from an organized crime syndicate to threaten He Gu. When Song Juhan found out, he was so infuriated he wanted to kill someone. After discreetly ordering someone to settle the situation, he came to realize just how stubborn and strong He Gu’s character was. 

So how could someone as strong and calm as He Gu suddenly shed such painful and sorrowful tears? Could it be because of that d*mned b*stard Zhuang Jieyu? 

A shiver ran through his body as Song Juhan felt a sudden burst of inexplicable heartache. “He Gu, are you… are you crying?” he asked tentatively. 

Did he provoke He Gu to tears?

Song Juhan was a little flustered. His tightly clenched fist fell to his side powerlessly as his fingers slowly unfurled. It wasn’t until a long while later did he manage to utter, “Don’t… don’t cry.”

Peng Fang was dumbfounded as he witnessed the confusing scene before him. 

He Gu looked at Song Juhan’s blurry silhouette through a layer of tears and mumbled, “You and Feng Zheng had a thing.” The words echoed repeatedly in his ears like a constant ringing. 

As if he had been put on the spot and forced into the center of a conspiracy, Song Juhan flew into a rage out of humiliation and bellowed, “Who told you that?!”

“Yes or no?” He Gu asked stoically.

Song Juhan paled; his mouth opened and closed without uttering a single word. 

Even without Song Juhan’s definitive response, He Gu had already gotten his answer. He closed his eyes and turned to leave. 

Song Juhan stepped forward to stop He Gu as he said, “That’s all in the past. Tell me, who the h*ll told you about this?!” As if suddenly realizing something, Song Juhan turned and glared daggers at Peng Fang. 

Peng Fang really wanted to find a hole and bury himself in it. With an expression full of apologies, he clapped his hands together and bowed his head at Song Juhan. 

Out of nowhere, Yuan Yang spoke up indifferently, “How many times have I told you to rein in that blabbermouth habit of yours?”

“Shut up!” Peng Fang threw back angrily.

Song Juhan was so enraged he wanted to kill Peng Fang, but in that moment, he didn’t have a single second to spare on the other man as he grabbed He Gu and pleaded, “Don’t listen to their bullsh*t, we…”

“Let go.” He Gu grabbed Song Juhan’s wrist and forcefully pushed the other man away. His voice sounded so hollow and distant, it was like his soul had completely drained from his body.

“Song Juhan, I never thought the day would come where I would say these words first.” He Gu took a deep breath as if he was gathering all his remaining energy, then said, “Let’s just end this.”

Song Juhan instantly tensed up.

Without sparing him a glance, He Gu turned and walked off again. 

“He Gu!” Song Juhan shouted after him. His face burnt up, not only from being hit, but also from the embarrassment of being beaten up then dumped in front of so many familiar and unfamiliar faces. After all, Song Juhan was a well-loved celebrity who had spent twenty-six years of his life being pampered at every step. He had never been so embarrassed before. At that moment, Song Juhan was like a trapped beast raging from his injuries. 

“This thing between Feng Zheng and I ended over ten years ago. Why the f*ck are you bringing this up now to cause a scene?!” he yelled.

Having heard all that commotion, Xiao Song came running out. Upon witnessing the chaotic scene, he nearly fainted on the spot. “What’s wrong? What happened, Han-ge? What happened, He Gu-ge?”

He Gu didn’t turn around or acknowledge him, he simply kept moving.

“He Gu!” Song Juhan called out again, this time more violent yet anxious than the last. His whole body vibrated with anger as if he would explode any second. “You better not regret what you just said! Do you think I, the one and only Song Juhan, can’t leave you? Who the h*ll is the one that can’t leave the other?! If you dare to walk out on me right now, then don’t ever f*cking come back!”

Xiao Song rushed forward in an attempt to stop He Gu, but was held back by the look of utter despair in He Gu’s eyes. Turning his attention to Song Juhan, he came eye to eye with the violent expression of a man about to explode and devour everyone in sight. Xiao Song didn’t have the courage to approach him either, so he reluctantly backed off. He then looked to Peng Fang for help, but Peng Fang looked so pitiful as he tragically stood there on the side as if he could barely protect himself. 

The only other person around that Xiao Song could turn to was Zhuang Jieyu, but he had been shocked speechless and hadn’t moved an inch since.

Just like that, everyone watched helplessly as He Gu walked out of the restaurant, one step after another.

Proofread by Lizonka and Ess

Chapter 31


The next day, He Gu got up early in the morning to get ready for his business trip. When he was about to leave, Song Juhan was still asleep.

Although he was running tight on time, and was in a rush to get to Tang city so he could rush back in the afternoon, He Gu still carefully tiptoed around the room as he didn’t want to wake Song Juhan. It wasn’t until He Gu got to the train station that he realized he had left his phone at Juhan’s.     

He Gu stood in the middle of the bustling ticket hall, feeling flustered and exasperated. With his cautious and prudent personality, it was very rare for him to commit such a silly mistake. All the necessary information for the day trip was on his phone—his train ticket, the contact details for his correspondence in Tang city, work emails, etc. Without his phone, there was no way he could accomplish anything today. 

After hesitating for a moment, he decided to drive back and get his phone. Thankfully, Song Juhan’s apartment was quite close to the train station. He could still make it in time for the next train if he rushed back now, and he would still be able to make it to Tang city for lunch time. 

By the time he rushed back, He Gu was quite impatient as he repeatedly rang the doorbell. The door flung open after quite a while. He Gu had half expected to find himself staring at a groggy and half-asleep Song Juhan, but instead he came face-to-face with a wide awake Song Juhan glaring at him with chilling, cold eyes.

He Gu didn’t have a moment to spare as he quickly brushed past the man and walked into the house. “I woke you, didn’t I? I left my phone here this morning.” He Gu went into the bedroom to look for his phone, but couldn’t find it. Walking back into the living room, he saw Song Juhan leaning against the wall with his arms around his chest and his hand holding He Gu’s phone. He Gu looked up and shivered at the cold and cruel stare directed at him. 

He Gu froze, momentarily confused at the current situation. 

“Are you looking for this?” Song Juhan waved the phone in question. “I thought you were in a rush to leave for your business trip? How did you find time to especially come back and get this? Were you that worried about not being able to contact that bitch Zhuang Jieyu?”

He Gu was dumbfounded. Did Song Juhan look through his phone?

Song Juhan gritted his teeth. A hostile energy surrounded his entire being, rolling off him in waves as if it could transform itself into a tangible blade and directly pierce through He Gu’s body. “When did you guys get so close? I didn’t even know you two were that affectionate?” He swiped open the lock screen and continued, “Little monkey? He-shushu? What the f*ck is that disgusting sh*t?!” Song Juhan fiercely threw the phone at the opposite wall. The fragile device slammed against the solid wall and shattered into pieces. 

“Song Juhan!” He Gu yelled angrily. “There are important documents on my phone. Why can’t you just listen to my explanation first?!”

“Go ahead. Explain yourself.” Song Juhan narrowed his eyes and glared dangerously at He Gu. “Last time, I was drunk and didn’t give you a chance to explain. That was my mistake. Now I’m giving you the chance to explain, so tell me. How did you two meet? What is your relationship? How far have you guys gone? You’ve been so distant and cold to me recently. Is it all because of that f*cking bitch?!”

“No!” He Gu shouted back. “We simply met by chance through a mutual friend. He just likes to joke around with me sometimes. That’s all!” 

“F*ck off! Do you take me for an idiot?! Why should I believe a word you’re saying right now?! Do you think I can’t tell the difference between joking and flirting? Tell me, was it Zhuang Jieyu that seduced you first? But you seem quite interested in him too. Did you sleep with him already?”

He Gu took a deep breath, barely managing to suppress his turbulent emotions. In a low voice, he said solemnly, “No. There is nothing between us.” 

“No?” Song Juhan chuckled emotionlessly. “You know he’s a 0, right? Is it ‘no’ because you don’t actually know how to use your thing down there? To be fair, you’ve only been f*cked by me all these years. Of course you wouldn’t know how to f*ck someone else.”

He Gu turned a deaf ear to Song Juhan’s ridicule and instead glared at him coldly. Unable to control his emotions anymore, He Gu blurted out the first words that crossed his mind, “Listen to me, Juhan. First of all, it doesn’t matter if it’s Feng Zheng, Gu Qingpei or Zhuang Jieyu—I have never done anything with any of them. Now let me ask you this, getting down to the root of this issue, what right do you have to control who I make friends with, or even who I sleep with?!”

The words tumbled out of his lips like icicles shattering on a hard floor. No matter how cold it was, or how sharp the icicle, it would all come to a shattering, tragic end. He Gu felt a piercing pain in his heart. It was a pain so intense that he felt as if he couldn’t stand straight anymore. His hands shook, his head was dizzy, and his vision blurred. 

He finally let it out, he let it all out. Many times, he was on the verge of blurting out the words he had been holding back all these years, but each time he had managed to restrain himself. He knew that it was completely unfair, but he dared not bring it up. Because if he did, the relationship he had with Song Juhan would come to a crushing end. 

But this time, he actually went ahead and let it all out. To be honest, he probably already regretted it the moment it left his lips, but there was no turning back now. 

Song Juhan widened his eyes and glared at him. “What the f*ck did you just say? I dare you to say that again.”

He Gu really didn’t have the courage to repeat his words. All he could do was tightly clench his lips together and wait for Song Juhan’s ultimate verdict.

“I don’t have the right to control you?” Song Juhan was like a triggered beast brazenly stalking toward his prey. As he took two steps forward, He Gu instinctively took two steps back. Song Juhan stopped in his tracks as he noticed the other man’s retreat. With his fists clenched tightly to the point his knuckles cracked, Song Juhan turned on the spot once, then twice, as if he was about to explode from all the boiled-up anger. In the end, he grabbed a nearby chair and launched it toward the Bogu shelf1 博古架 – Bogu Shelf is an antique Chinese-style shelving unit developed during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is known for its alternating layers of shelves and intricate designs made traditionally from rosewood. Often the most prized and high-valued items are displayed on these shelves.  leaning against the opposite wall. 

There was a loud bang, followed by the shattering noise of objects falling to the ground. In an instant, the scene became a complete mess. 

“I don’t have the right to control you?!” Song Juhan’s voice rose as he aggressively pointed at He Gu and yelled, “What if you get infected with some weird disease? Whose fault would it be then? Do you know any idea how many people Zhuang Jieyu has slept with? If you can’t stand being lonely for just a moment, maybe I should f*ck you until you can’t get out of bed every time?!”

“Enough!” He Gu yelled. His eyes were swollen red and his voice shook uncontrollably as he retorted, “How many people have you slept with?!”

“How can you even begin to compare with me?!” Song Juhan let out a loud laugh before continuing, “How many people have you been with? Back then, I simply flirted with you a little and you eagerly clung onto me. In this lifetime, you haven’t even touched a f*cking condom once, have you?” 

“Song Juhan! Watch what you’re saying!”

“Why should I watch myself? Are you out of your mind, how dare you try to control me?!” As if this was the final straw, Song Juhan lost it completely.

“If you can control me, why can’t I control you?!” He Gu yelled back sternly.

“Yes!” Song Juhan’s usually elegant features were now distorted into a terrifying expression. “Yes, that’s exactly how it is. If you’re not content with this, you can always f*ck off! When have I ever been this lenient with anyone before? These last few months, do you have any idea how patient and accommodating I’ve been to you? How can you still be so f*cking shameless?! I’m tired of this stoic face of yours that doesn’t even know how to smile once in a while… and after all these years, I’m fed up of sleeping with you too.  So just get the f*ck out of here!”

He Gu’s entire body trembled. His legs felt weak as he struggled to stand, barely managing to hold onto the last shred of his dignity as he supported himself with the wall. Slowly, he made his way to his shattered phone and picked up the pieces, then turned and walked, one step at a time, toward the door. 

The moment He Gu brushed past Song Juhan, he noticed the ominous glint that flashed in the latter’s eyes. Without warning, Song Juhan fiercely grabbed He Gu’s collar and pressed him up against the wall. Then, in a voice as cold as ice, he warned, “Remember to tell your ‘little monkey’ he won’t be getting any other opportunities in this industry. Tell him to f*ck off back to his hometown and do whatever he wants there.”

He Gu grabbed his wrist and gritted out, “You better not do this.”

Zhuang Jieyu was just a nineteen-year-old boy trying to make his way in this big and vicious city. He had left his hometown to pursue this dream on his own, and must have faced many hardships and difficulties on the way. Needless to say, with just one word from Song Juhan, his entire future could be ruined.

“What? Are you feeling sorry for him now?” Song Juhan was so enraged he wanted to devour He Gu. “I warned him before. I warned him to stay away from you. But he dared to go against me, so he should bear the consequences.” After saying his piece, Song Juhan ruthlessly pushed He Gu aside. 

He Gu clenched his fists, but he knew that there was nothing he could do about it. At this moment, he could barely protect himself, let alone others. All he could do was rush out the door before he, himself, broke down into a million pieces.  

The moment the front door closed behind him, He Gu could hear the chaotic and violent sounds of a house being destroyed. Unable to keep himself upright anymore, He Gu leaned against the wall.

Is it over?

Just like that?

Is it really over?

The question echoed repeatedly in his mind as a small voice in his head denied the obvious fact that it was, indeed, over.

But that couldn’t be. After six long years, all the time they spent together had already become second nature to them. It was ingrained in their beings as if them being together was a given, as if they would simply always be together… So how could it just come to an end like this?

It simply couldn’t be…

What if he went in now to apologize? What if he just explained everything clearly again? What if…

He Gu raised his hand, and slapped himself hard across the face. 

Just go, He Gu. Get out of here and end this once and for all.

But no matter how he persuaded himself to move, his feet stubbornly refused to cooperate. It was as if the thought of leaving this space would kill him instantly.

Song Juhan—he was about to leave Song Juhan. The one he was about to walk out on is the one and only—Song Juhan! It was the person that occupied the most important part of his life. 

From today onwards, would he never be able to touch Song Juhan again? To be close to him, hug him, kiss him, or even gaze at him? Would Song Juhan completely disappear from his life?

No… He couldn’t accept that, could he? Could he honestly accept a life without Song Juhan?  

He Gu’s heart clenched and ached painfully. Leaning against the wall, he slowly slid down to the floor. 

Inside the house, the noise came to a sudden stop. He Gu pressed his ear against the wall, trying desperately to hear something, anything. It was as if he could hear Song Juhan’s breathing if he just tried hard enough, as if he could feel Song Juhan’s presence if he just got close enough.

After today, this might be the closest he would ever be to Song Juhan in this lifetime. If so, he didn’t have the courage to leave. 

But he must leave. 

Using all his remaining strength, He Gu took a few deep breaths and pulled himself up. One step at a time, he slowly walked away from Song Juhan…

Just like the excruciatingly difficult steps he took in the last six years, the steps he was taking now were just as painful. 

After everything that happened, He Gu was in no condition to go on his business trip, so he went straight home instead. He put the SIM card in his spare phone and called his boss to say he wasn’t feeling well and would need someone else to take his place today.

He Gu curled up in bed after sorting out the urgent matters at hand. Scenes from this morning replayed in his mind as he lay there thinking. 

The more he thought about it, the more pain he felt and the more confused he was. He couldn’t figure out why loving someone, which should’ve been such a beautiful thing, would also bring forth such pain and despair at the same time. 

Why couldn’t one just keep the beautiful memories of love? Why must there always be a drop of blood mixed in with the sweet honey. 

Maybe it was because his “love” wasn’t worthy of being called “love”—it was simply wishful thinking. 

Eventually, He Gu fell asleep and slipped into a cruel nightmare. In the dream, he was endlessly running away from something. Although he was clearly asleep, he felt more exhausted than when he was awake. 

Still half-asleep, He Gu vaguely heard the sound of knocking as he woke from his dream. His mind still hadn’t cleared fully, but his body acted on instinct. In a daze, he got out of bed and ran to the door. 

It was Zhuang Jieyu.

He Gu was numb inside as he stared at the reddened eyes of the other man.

Zhuang Jieyu stared back with an aggrieved expression and pressed his lips together.

At a complete loss, He Gu let out a sigh.

Without a word, Zhuang Jieyu reached for He Gu’s hand and placed it on top of his own head. Finally snapping out of his daze, He Gu realized what Zhuang Jieyu wanted as he gently rubbed his head. 

Suddenly, Zhuang Jieyu jumped forward and hugged him as He Gu patted his back lightly and said, “Come on, stop fooling around.”

“You really are quite insensitive sometimes,” Zhuang Jieyu said bitterly.

He Gu stood aside and let him in. 

“I’m hungry.” Zhuang Jieyu wailed as he collapsed onto the sofa. “My life is such a tragedy. Why did I have to go and offend the biggest name in the entertainment industry? Now there’s no future for me anymore, I might as well go die right now ahhhhh…” 

“Quiet down.” He Gu rubbed his temples as a headache throbbed in his head. 

“I’m hungry.” Zhuang Jieyu whined like a little bird. 

He Gu really didn’t have the energy to cook a meal at the moment, so he simply boiled the kettle and made him a cup noodle. 

Zhuang Jieyu picked up the chopsticks and casually picked at the noodles. “This is very high in calories.” Right after he said that, he lowered his head and took a giant mouthful. 

By then, He Gu had already recovered his calm demeanor, or perhaps, he simply numbed himself. Looking at the younger man, He Gu said in a deep voice, “He did warn you not to get close to me. So why did you still approach me?”

Zhuang Jieyu sniffled, “I didn’t think he would find out about it. Besides, it’s not… such a big deal. Why is he being so petty? I’m really losing out here. If I had really slept with you, I wouldn’t say anything… but it’s not like I’ve already slept with you!”

He Gu knew this young man all too well. He never considered the consequences of his actions and only thought about temporary pleasures. Moreover, Zhuang Jieyu was right—it wasn’t like this was a big deal. 

Zhuang Jieyu rubbed his dripping nose before stuffing his face with another giant mouthful of noodles. “I don’t know what to do. I feel so wronged right now.” Zhuang Jieyu fiddled with the chopsticks pitifully as he continued, “I still have tens of thousands in credit card debt…”

“What are you planning to do?” He Gu asked emotionlessly. 

“I don’t know…” Zhuang Jieyu ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “Actually, my family is quite well-off, but my dad kicked me out because I was gay. I just wanted to make a name for myself and make him regret it…” Talking about a sensitive topic, Zhuang Jieyu started to sob again. “But one thing I do know is I’m definitely not going home. Even if I have to sell myself, I still won’t go back to beg him.”

He Gu let out a sigh, “Why don’t you find a steady job instead?”

“But I can’t do anything else. All I have is my face and some acting skills.” Zhuang Jieyu went back to stuffing his face with the noodles. With his mouth full, he continued, “Never mind, I’m sure I can figure this out. At most, I can just beg my boss to take me back. Song Juhan isn’t so powerful that he can hide the truth from everyone. I mean what’s wrong with me just trying to make a living? Hey! You know what? I could just start my own Taobao2 淘宝 – Taobao is a Chinese online shopping website owned by the Alibaba Group. It is similar to Amazon.  store. I could even model the clothes myself, but where would I import the clothes from…”

He Gu observed Zhuang Jieyu’s carefree attitude and felt a little envious inside. Zhuang Jieyu was still so young and unafraid of making mistakes. 

After finishing his food, Zhuang Jieyu carelessly wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then complained that he was overwhelmed by emotional stress and needed to rest. Looking at the pitiful state of the younger man, He Gu couldn’t bring himself to shoo him away. However, there was only one bedroom in his apartment, and so He Gu helplessly offered his own bed.

Zhuang Jieyu stripped off his clothes and burrowed under the blanket before sticking out one long bare leg. With an innocent and pitiful expression, he blinked up at He Gu and said, “Shushu, you have to be gentle with me.”

Ignoring him, He Gu turned to leave. 

“F*cking hell! How can you disregard me right now? You are so heartless!” Zhuang Jieyu was so exasperated he threw the pillow in He Gu’s direction, but missed.

He Gu returned to the living room and collapsed on the sofa. All the remaining strength left his body as he sunk deeper into the cushions. With his eyes staring blankly ahead, he fell into a daze. 

Up until this point, He Gu still couldn’t believe he and Song Juhan had truly ended for good. 

After all, Song Juhan didn’t actually say they were finished.

Maybe, just maybe, he still had a little leeway…

He Gu shut his eyes tightly as a splitting headache began to throb in his temples. 

All these years, He Gu had been deliberately distancing himself from Song Juhan. He was preparing himself so that when the day came, he would be able to freely and easily leave the man without feeling too much pain. But when the day finally came, all he wanted was to run away and escape it all. 

How could he be so contradictory and so cheap?

The expression in Song Juhan’s eyes and every hurtful word Song Juhan said were all like knives cutting straight into He Gu’s heart. He Gu felt so lost, he no longer knew what to do with himself.

Dazedly, He Gu lay there until the evening. When Zhuang Jieyu woke up, he still refused to leave, asking to stay the night and complaining about his unjust situation. At one point, he outrageously stated that if he were to be punished, then he should at least get to sleep with He Gu once, to turn this accusation of adultery into a reality. He Gu finally had enough and kicked him out. 

He Gu didn’t have the energy to face anyone or anything. At that moment, he felt as if he was completely useless.

Just like that, three days passed. The thing that finally brought him back to reality was Xiao Song’s phone call. 

When He Gu saw the caller ID, his hands started to tremble uncontrollably. That phone call was like a court trial; the moment he answered, he would know his fate.

He Gu stared at the phone for a long while before he finally managed to pluck up all his courage and answer the call. Having barely spoken in the last few days, his voice was a little hoarse. He cleared his throat and said tentatively, “Hello?” 

“He Gu-ge,” Xiao Song’s voice came through the phone cautiously. “Are you okay?”

As someone that never revealed a hint of weakness in front of anyone, for the first time, He Gu honestly answered, “I’m not okay.”

“I knew it…” Xiao Song took a deep breath before he continued, “Why did you go and get yourself involved with someone like Zhuang Jieyu? He’s such a thoughtless kid, there’s no way he’s serious about you.”

“There’s nothing going on between us.” He Gu shut his eyes in frustration, trying desperately to isolate his turbulent feelings. He needed to concentrate so that he could hear every change of tone or underlying meaning from Xiao Song’s words. 

“I believe you. I don’t see how you two could end up together anyways. But you know Han-ge’s jealousy can get a bit out of hand. These past few days, it’s like he’s swallowed gunpowder. He even dared to trigger his own father. It’s so scary.” Xiao Song shuddered with lingering fear.

“What… did he say?” He Gu asked exhaustedly. 

“He didn’t exactly say anything. But whenever I did ask about you two, he always told me everything and would never lie to me. You should know that Han-ge honestly didn’t want to end things with you. I know he has real feelings for you.”

“Really?” He Gu asked calmly. After the last few days, his heart was numbed to the point it didn’t even react to Xiao Song’s words. 

“Really!” Xiao Song exclaimed, then added, “You two are really frustrating to watch.”

“Xiao Song, I know you’re trying to comfort me and you talk as if he genuinely cares about me. But honestly, what you see of him is only on the surface. Do you have any idea how many years I’ve been with him? It’s been nearly seven years. At this point, I think I might know him better than his own parents.”

“Ge, sometimes when you think you truly understand someone, it can blur your vision and make you believe in preconceived misunderstandings.”

“… Really?”

“Hey, do you remember your birthday last time? We actually nearly forgot, but after your phone call, I suddenly remembered and told Han-ge. That day, he had a very important live show event. The contracted pay was eighty thousand yuan per minute and a cancelation damages fee of one million yuan! You know how dedicated Han-ge is to his work, but just like that, he turned it down. He said he promised to spend your birthday with you.”

He Gu opened his eyes as he felt a stirring in his chest. Finally, his heart started to react and beat a little faster. “ Really…”

“It’s true. Chief Song was livid about this, but Han-ge made me promise not to tell you. And also, last time when we went to Saipan, Han-ge was the one that forced me to call you. He actually missed you a lot. To be honest, I know Han-ge… Han-ge is quite frivolous, but he has always treated you the best. Don’t mind me when I say this, but personally, we have always thought that… that you are his legal wife.” 

He Gu laughed bitterly. “Xiao Song, are you saying this to ridicule me?”

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, He Gu-ge. I really didn’t mean it in a bad way. I just think I do understand Han-ge a little. He usually handles every situation with such maturity, but as long as it’s something related to you, it’s like his IQ plummets. Please believe me when I say Han-ge really didn’t want to break up with you. He was just being temperamental. Today is my birthday, why don’t you come out and have some fun? Han-ge will be there too. Let’s just sit down and explain this misunderstanding clearly, then maybe everything will be okay again.”

He Gu fell silent. If he went, it would only be self-humiliation. But if he didn’t go, he would probably regret it for the rest of his life. 

“Ge, please come. I’m begging you. Just treat it as a favor to me and my pitiful life. It’s so hard to please Han-ge and my wife at the same time. I mean it, He Gu-ge. As long as your relationship with Han-ge is harmonious, it is easy to take care of him and work smoothly. But when you two argue, Han-ge is like a walking grenade. I know I’m blatantly kissing up to you right now and begging for a favor, but please don’t stoop to my level. Please, I’m begging you here. Just please, please… pleeease come!”

He Gu let out a deep breath and finally relented, “Fine. I’ll go.”

He Gu decided he would treat this as giving himself one last chance. It would be his one last chance to see Song Juhan, and to bring his ten-year-long unrequited love to a formal and final end. 

He Gu knew that his relationship with Song Juhan had already run its course. They had already gone too far and there was no way for them to turn back anymore. He no longer hoped that they would get back together; he simply wanted to see Song Juhan one last time, just to look at him up close and in person. Otherwise, going forward, he may only ever be able to see him on a television screen.

He Gu tidied up a little, then got ready to leave.

When He Gu got to the restaurant, he gave Xiao Song a call to ask which private room he had booked. But Xiao Song said he would come out personally and get him. 

After a short while, Xiao Song came running out. He grabbed He Gu by the arm and burst into tears as if he was clutching onto his long-awaited savior. “Ge, thank you so much for coming.”

“Don’t worry about it, and you don’t have to thank me.”

Xiao Song held on tightly and tugged He Gu toward the restaurant as if he was afraid He Gu would suddenly change his mind and leave. “Han-ge isn’t here yet, and I still have to greet the others. But I’ll have my girlfriend accompany you for now, she’s quite funny.”


The two walked shoulder-to-shoulder, and unexpectedly bumped into two familiar faces—Peng Fang and Yuan Yang. 

“Hey, isn’t that He Gu and Xiao Song? Beijing is such a small city. No matter where I go, I always come across someone I know.” Peng Fang nudged Yuan Yang with his elbow. “Don’t you remember him? We went drinking together last time.”

Yuan Yang obviously didn’t remember, but he still nodded and smiled as if to say hi. Unlike last time, it seemed this young master was in a better mood today. 

“Chief Peng, what a coincidence. Are you here for a meal as well?” asked Xiao Song as he handed over a cigarette, then added, “I didn’t realize you knew He Gu-ge too.” 

“That’s just the way it is… I have a lot of connections.” Peng Fang gloated. 

He Gu reached his hand out and greeted, “Hi, Chief Peng.” 

“What are you doing here today?” asked Peng Fang.

“It’s Xiao Song’s birthday.”

Peng Fang casually squeezed Xiao Song’s neck. “Oh, so it’s your birthday, huh? Happy Birthday! Next time you’re at my winery, it’ll be my treat.”

“Thank you, Chief Peng.” Xiao Song smiled cheerfully. “Well then, you guys chat first, I still have to greet the other guests. He Gu-ge, we’re in room 203.”

“Okay, I’ll be over in a second.”

After Xiao Song left, Peng Fang curiously asked, “How do you know Song Juhan’s assistant?”

“Oh, Song Juhan and I are from the same high school.”

“No wonder. So… does Feng Zheng know you know Song Juhan as well?”

 “He does.”

“Tsk tsk.” Peng Fang revealed a playful smile, then glanced at Yuan Yang before muttering, “Interesting…”

Yuan Yang rolled his eyes, “You’re such a gossip.”

He Gu sensed they were hiding something as he asked, “What’s wrong? Is there something going on?”

Peng Fang winked at him mysteriously, then lowered his voice and said, “So I’m guessing you didn’t know, eh? Well, let me tell you a little secret… Song Juhan and Feng Zheng used to have a thing.”

He Gu’s eyes widened. A buzz echoed in his ears and his mind went blank.

Chapter proofread by Lizonka and Ess

Chapter 64: Is your second uncle’s lower body still healthy?

The smoke cleared in the first light of morning.

Standing at the city gates, in his new armor and with his old blade, Luda proudly greeted the ragged refugees and the Black Wind Puya prisoners as they entered the city. The sunlight was hitting his face, but it didn’t dazzle him. On the contrary, it gave him some warmth amidst the cold wind. He straightened his back and struggled to look at the others in his peripheral vision, lest he might perform inappropriately.

The young man had been up all night and even had a wound on his back, yet he was strangely energetic.

After the battle, he felt he had become a warrior.

Chang An came back on his feet. The pair of dog men1Referring to Bei Shi and Hai Lan acting lovey-dovey hahaha. in front of him kept pulling and tugging on each other, so he had no choice but to pick up a relatively long saber on his own, hang twelve heads on it, and carry them all the way back terrifyingly.

Standing at the gate towers, Hua Yi looked down from above with his brows furrowed.

He did not panic when the enemy attacked, nor did he seem pleased when he won the battle. Suo Laimu took a half-step back away from him and didn’t stand beside him. He looked on, wondering whether it was a good or bad idea that the Chief, who wasn’t even in his prime, to have cultivated such composure early on.

It was not until he saw Chang An that Hua Yi turned around and walked down the tower without a word. The crowd parted to give way to him. Hua Yi walked up to Chang An with his eyes fixed on his face and said angrily in a low voice, “Where have you been?”

Chang An: “I…”

Hearing his question, Bei Shi calmly turned around and raised a hand to interrupt Chang An. Sweeping over Hua Yi out of the corner of his eyes, he said without any regard for him, “Little pup, come here quick. I’m hungry, and it’s been years since I’ve eaten what you roast. Come and roast me some jerky2肉干(ròu gān)- not really jerky, but it’s very similar to it. It’s a dried savoury sweetmeat that traditionally takes the form of thin square slices and is usually made from pork..”

Chang An: “……”

Regarding this, Chang An still had some self-awareness. His skill was limited to being able to eat. Eating what he made wouldn’t upset the stomach, but it certainly wouldn’t taste good. After experiencing his cooking, the master and disciple pair on the mountain would never try to make do with Chang An’s cooking, unless Bei Shi was too drunk to get up or too lazy to do anything.

Chang An felt that he was slowly getting wiser as he got older. For example, he could see now that Bei Shi was deliberately making things hard for Hua Yi

Hua Yi seemed to have not heard Bei Shi speak. His eyes just stared at Chang An, the corners of his mouth slowly showing a smile. “Well?”

Chang An: “I’ll go with Shifu…”

Bei Shi sneered and coldly looked up. “The majesty of the Chief is truly breathtaking. What? I am not from your city. When I’m looking for a place where I can teach my disciple, do I also need to first report to you where I’m going?”

Chang An had to swallow the second half of his words, feeling his head ache. He hadn’t slept all night. Although there were quite a lot of gains, there was also a lot of running around and laborious work. At this moment, it was like there were several bees flying by his ears and buzzing incessantly. He wanted to slap each of them in the face and tell them to shut up, but since he couldn’t raise his hand to anyone, he had no choice but to keep his head down and play dead.

Hua Yi’s gaze swept gloomily towards Bei Shi. There was a moment of silence, but he stiffly squeezed out a smile. “I wouldn’t dare.”

Bei Shi didn’t buy any of it. He beckoned, “Chang An, let’s go!”

Chang An only felt that Hua Yi’s gaze was almost staring through him. However, he couldn’t not follow Bei Shi, so he could only say to Hua Yi in an almost inaudible voice, “It’s my fault.”

But Bei Shi’s ears were somehow so good that he even heard this sentence, and he immediately flew into a rage. When this little pup followed me, I always had to smooth his hair correctly. When I smoothed it the wrong way, he’d immediately explode. The words he’d say then could choke a person to a tumble. How come when he goes to others, he’ll immediately turn meek and admit his mistakes as if it was natural?

What the fuck?

Bei Shi snorted, swung his arms, and strode away. Chang An could only look at Hua Yi with a thousand apologies. He put down the saber and the twelve heads on it, pressed on his stiff shoulders as he walked away, then hurriedly ran after them.

Hua Yi watched his back with a smile on his face.

At this time, the shirtless Ka Zuo strode over. He looked down with a “whoah” and shouted to Lu Quan, “Hey, hey, didn’t you say you guys didn’t find the twelve dogs? This is exactly twelve heads ah! Chief, which yingxiong3英雄 – Literally “hero.” A yingxiong is a person who has excellent character and has made achievements that surpass ordinary people carried these back?”

Hua Yi turned his head around with a steady smile and stared straight at Ka Zuo.

Ka Zuo was smiled at by him for so long that his hair stood on end. He immediately pulled an animal skin shawl out of nowhere, wrapped it around his body, and ran away with his tail between his legs.

Only then did Hua Yi look down at the heads on the ground which blood had dried up. He lightly kicked them with the tip of his foot, then instructed the man next to him, “Hang them on the city walls, together with the Puya clan master. Let the master and his servants reunite.”

After saying that, he turned away with his hands behind his back. His expression was blank, but in his mind, he was dragging Bei Shi out and cutting him to death4凌迟 (ling chi) – a corporal punishment of killing by a thousand cuts. However, he didn’t feel much comfortable. He simply began to feel uneasy at the mere thought of the name.

Ever since he heard about Chang An’s master entering the city, he had a faint foreboding, and now, it had really come true.

In the following days, Hua Yi sent people to hunt down the scattered survivors of Black Wind Puya, making every effort to completely wipe them out. And following the spread of this news, he used the merchants under his control to go far and wide.

In addition to the refugees who entered the city in the beginning, more people kept moving in over the days. In less than a month, the population doubled, and the city walls expanded. Hua Yi, Suo Laimu, Shan Xi, and the others had to work out the city laws overnight, which were then engraved on the back of the stone city gate tower. The garrison and the guards became first in line in maintaining the order of the city.

On one hand, he was fully satisfied in the realization of his wish in opening up new territories as he absorbed the population and expanded his domain. On the other hand, he was completely being tormented by Bei Shi, making him feel helpless.

Seeing Chang An was even more difficult than reaching the sky. In the beginning, Hua Yi would still brazenly go sit at Chang An’s place. However, Bei Shi would accompany him, not at all finding it tiresome to sit all day. When this daye5大爷 – a term of respect for an older man, but can also be a slang for a self-centered show-off or arrogant idler was in a good mood, he would talk about random things. And when he was in a bad mood, he would quietly sit in place, looking surprisingly similar to how Suo Laimu would look when he was muttering to himself as he did some fortune-telling.

After Hua Yi realized that this method didn’t work, he took advantage of the Chief’s privilege to arbitrarily transfer the shifts of the city guards, then went to work at night himself, waiting for Chang An.

But then Bei Shi braved the cold and risked being half-drunk as he brought a wine flask with him and followed Chang An up the city gate tower in order to, as he euphemistically called it, exercise the muscles and bask in the moon. Hua Yi cursed internally, Why don’t you6Hua Yi is using the polite form of the “you” pronoun here hurry and become an immortal?

However, he couldn’t call Chang An out for a vigil every day. Among the three of them, it was obvious who couldn’t stand it first.

After a few days, Hua Yi came up with another trick. He somehow found out that Hai Lan was Suo Laimu’s second uncle, and he immediately had a crooked idea. He had seen the ambiguity between Bei Shi and Hai Lan, so he shamelessly coerced A’Ye, a woman, to grind the Wuse shells into powder and give it to him, making A’Ye’s face turn very red. He also threatened and tried every means to get Suo Laimu to hand the thing over to his “second uncle” as a sign of filial piety.

As a result, the two of them were mercilessly invited out by “Er-shu” that day.

Hua Yi found it inconceivable, and he quietly asked Suo Laimu, “Is your Er-shu’s lower body still healthy?”

Suo Laimu already thought that the matter was so humiliating. Seeing his wretched face, he simply felt that talking to him would get his tongue dirty, so he immediately left without saying a word.

Hai Lan closed the door and turned around, just in time to see Chang An standing there in silence. He asked, “What about Bei Shi?”

Chang An said, “He drank a few more sips today, then went to take a nap.”

Hai Lan nodded sullenly, and after a while, he saw Chang An looking out the door in a bit of trance. So he said suddenly, “Don’t blame him. He always blames Chief Hua Yi for being too scheming and acting inappropriately.”

Elders had always wanted their children to be smart and clever. The sillier the children in other families were, the better.

Chang An rubbed the space between his eyebrows, his head still aching.

“Actually, you won’t have a headache in a few days. He…”

Hai Lan’s voice came to an abrupt end. Chang An turned his head and saw the tips of the man’s eyebrow quickly move lightly, his eyelids drooping slightly. Sadness seemed to flash for a moment, but then soon disappeared, leaving only a wooden look.

A sharp blade7尖刀 – Specifically referring to the jiandao here, which also happens to be the weapon Bei Shi uses, if you remember. I went with its literal translation instead of the pinyin, because author made a comparison on sharp vs blunt, after all, was no more graceful or matchless than a blunt axe. It would always use up the blood of a man’s heart8心血 (heart’s blood) – refers to hard work, efforts. Since ancient times, how many of the unparalleled divine weapons could last for long?

Hai Lan’s voice broke for a moment, but then he soon continued calmly, “He said we’d be leaving in a few days.”

“Leaving? Where are you going?” Chang An was taken aback. He had a feeling that what Hai Lan had wanted to say wasn’t this.

“Your master likes peace and quiet. There are too many people here and it’s always bustling with activity that he can’t live comfortably.” Talking up to here, Hai Lan suddenly smiled, and his face, which had always seemed rather stiff, immediately turned soft. “The mother-in-law always likes to make things difficult for the daughter-in-law, and the father-in-law always cannot bear seeing the son-in-law. He treats you as if you were his own child, so just let him stir up trouble for a few more days until he’s satisfied.”

On the day they left, Hua Yi could hardly wait to give them a city-wide send-off. He had been enthusiastically looking forward to this day.

In his opinion, once he kicked these two scourges outside and closed the city gates, all would be well in the world.

Then he’d go settle his accounts with Chang An from these days.

However, when Chang An silently sent them off far away, Hua Yi, fearing that he’d be abducted by those two old men, had to hold his breath and smile servilely as he followed them all the way. He also had to listen to a few words from Bei Shi from time to time.

Not knowing how far they had gone, Bei Shi looked back at Chang An and impatiently waved him off. “Why are you still following? You’re as sticky as a worm. Go, go, hurry up and leave.”

Chang An grabbed his wrist and asked, “Where are you guys going?”

He had asked this question over and over again, and each time, they were always deflected. But even then, he was as relentless as when he was pestering Bei Shi to teach him the blade.

Bei Shi finally looked helpless. He raised his hand to touch Chang An’s face, and said perfunctorily, “We’re going back to Yufeng Mountain, okay?”

Chang An knew that he was lying, but he had no proof, only a strong feeling that it would stir a hole in his heart, more clearly and sadly than when Zhe Yan had died.

Back then, he could still hold Zhe Yan’s body and bite whoever moved it. At this time, however, he could only reluctantly suppress it. He was already so old, how could he still clung onto his master’s thigh and not let him go?

But how could parting in life be lighter than being parted by death?

In the end, they were like sand between the fingers, one by one flowing through his hands without a trace while he desperately tried to keep them.

Chang An kept his head down for a long time, before finally letting go of his hand. He said, “Don’t tear down the house I live in. Keep it for me.”

Bei Shi laughed. “You’re still thinking about letting me keep it? There was such a big earthquake. Your crappy house wasn’t built so well back then. Even if there were ten of them, they would all collapse from the shaking. If you want a place to live in, scram back and build another one, and I won’t be tired to death by you.”

Chang An wouldn’t force himself to smile. He couldn’t smile, so he just looked at him sullenly.

With his smile gradually fading, Bei Shi looked at him deeply, and the hand that wanted to touch his head finally dropped and instead patted him hard on the shoulder. He turned to Hai Lan and said, “Let’s go.”

Then this callous man really moved ahead with Hai Lan all the way, never once looking back.

Until the two of them finally disappeared from Chang An’s sight.