He Gu felt heat rush to his eyes as his vision suddenly became a little blurry.
Song Juhan laughed as he said, “He Gu, are you being serious right now? You are 100% gay. How can you be less versed with the way things are compared to someone like me that’s only halfway there.”
“… the way things are?” He Gu dazedly chewed on those words repeatedly, as if he was swallowing poison.
“We simply slept together once. Do I need to be responsible for you now? Or should I marry you?” Song Juhan said with a tone laced with sarcasm.
A hint of ferociousness flashed across He Gu’s eyes. He grabbed Song Juhan by the collar and fiercely pushed him up against the wall.
Song Juhan was a little surprised. He immediately grabbed onto He Gu’s wrists, and in a half-threatening and half-joking manner, he said, “He Gu, you better not cause a scene. Luckily, you aren’t really my match. But if you hit me, you will be in a lot of trouble.”
He Gu’s bloodshot eyes widened as his chest heaved heavily. He had never before suffered such humiliation in his life. He felt as if a part of his body was torn apart, its blood dripping all over the floor.
The face in front of him was both familiar yet extremely alien to He Gu. It had been four years since they first met. In those years, He Gu had been secretly following Song Juhan’s every move. He never forgot the heart-stopping feeling he received from that summer afternoon encounter with Song Juhan in the little classroom. For the first time, He Gu felt the wonderful warmth of what it was like to be in love.
If they had not met again after all those years, He Gu would have only kept admiring Song Juhan from afar. Just like a fan looking up to their favourite idol. He wouldn’t have been in this situation where he couldn’t stop himself from falling deeply in love with him.
In the end, Song Juhan actually treated him like this…
Looking at He Gu’s expression distorted with anger and a hint of sadness, Song Juhan let out a sigh. He lightly ran his fingers through his hair as he said, “Don’t be so naïve. If I had known you weren’t one to play around, I wouldn’t have come to you in the first place.”
… Weren’t one to play around?
He Gu could still remember the words he had said to Feng Zheng the other night. He, himself, had said, It’s not like I can’t afford to play around with him. How casually he had spoken that lie, but now? The thought of playing around had never even crossed his mind, so how could he even talk about playing around or not.
Song Juhan’s tone changed, becoming gentle and a little bewitching. “What’s wrong with how things are between us right now? He Gu, I do like you quite a lot. But I’m still young, and I don’t want to fall in love yet. You are quite young too, so don’t take things too seriously. Whatever you want, I can give you. So what’s there to be angry about?”
He Gu’s entire being felt completely and utterly powerless. He slowly let go of Song Juhan’s collar and desperately tried to suppress his rising blood pressure. After a moment of silence, he nodded his head and said in a surprisingly calm voice, “You’re right.”
Song Juhan, you are right. Why bother to take it so seriously?
It wasn’t like he was taken advantage of. He even got to sleep with the man of his dreams. If they really were to become friends with benefits, Song Juhan’s specifications were simply too good to be true. All He Gu needed to do was to not take it too seriously.
He Gu clenched his fists, suppressing the rising pain in his chest that made it hard to breathe. With a face void of expression, he said to Song Juhan, “Go back to the party. I’m leaving first.”
Song Juhan frowned. “He Gu, about us… It’s my fault for not making it clear in the beginning. I thought you understood. But I will make it up to you. Just tell me what you want.”
“Not making it clear… exactly which part did you mean?”
Song Juhan was speechless.
“Is it the part where you meant to only play around with me? Or the part where you only approached me to provoke Feng Zheng?”
Song Juhan revealed an uncomfortable expression. “Did Feng Zheng tell you that?”
Song Juhan was silent for a moment before answering, “He Gu, just be with me. I’ve always treated my people well. If you can just be a bit more open-minded. Think about it, who seriously settles down at our age?”
He Gu stared at Song Juhan for a good half minute before saying, “Sure.”
The him back then was too young and too naive, ignorantly thinking that he had made a casual and mature decision.
He Gu innocently thought this heartbreak would simply be a small episode in his life. He thought the pain would eventually pass with time. Since he was a little obsessed with Song Juhan, it would be alright to play around with him for a while. They were both men after all, and he had nothing to lose. Stubbornly, he even had the thought that if Song Juhan could play around, then he could as well.
At that time, He Gu couldn’t have possibly predicted that this decision would be the most shocking and most irreversible mistake of all mistakes in his life. Not only did his feelings for Song Juhan not fade with the passing of time, they also became stronger and deeper every day. By the time he felt the shock of his deep emotions, he had already gone too far and delved too deep to turn back.
He Gu opened his eyes, and looked at the familiar ceiling of his home.
Snapping out of his daydream, He Gu realized he had spent the night on the sofa. Thinking back, all the little snippets of his past memories had somehow formed itself into a continuous story, slipping into his dreams. After six long years, he still clearly remembered every little detail of his interactions with Song Juhan.
He especially remembered how Song Juhan enchanted him with sweet nothings, and how Song Juhan hurt him with just a few sharp words. He Gu also remembered how angry Feng Zheng was at his ultimate decision, and the rough kiss Feng Zheng impulsively forced on him.
After that incident, he knew Song Juhan went to look for Feng Zheng, or perhaps Feng Zheng went to look for Song Juhan. Although he wasn’t exactly sure what happened, he knew there was a big fight between the two. In the end, without even saying goodbye, Feng Zheng left the country in a fit of rage. Just like that, six years had passed.
Likewise, He Gu also remembered the constant hot and cold treatment he received from Song Juhan in the past six years, which had kept him tightly wrapped around Song Juhan’s little finger.
In the past, he had desperately tried to just “play around” with Song Juhan. He had foolishly expected that his fascination and addiction to Song Juhan would eventually fade away. And when the time came, he would be able to easily leave him without regrets. After all, he was still young and could afford to be impulsive. He didn’t think his actions were in any way out of line. However, what he didn’t expect was that Song Juhan would still be the same Song Juhan. He, however, became so far gone that he could no longer pull away.
Although he never dared to regret it, he occasionally couldn’t help himself from thinking: If he had just broken up with Song Juhan back then, where would he be now? Perhaps, after a few painful years, he would hear of Song Juhan’s recent news and simply smile to himself. Or maybe, he could even joke with his friends as he’d say, “Can you believe it? I once slept with that superstar.” At the least, it wouldn’t be the deeply entangled situation he was in today.
But how could he even dare to regret it?
He patted his sore back and got up from the sofa. Looking around, he saw the phone that Song Juhan had thrown last night. Its battery had fallen out from the impact.
He walked over and picked up the pieces, putting it back together and turning it on. Luckily, the phone was still working.
Once it turned on, numerous missed calls and messages popped up, all from Feng Zheng. He called back, and within a second, Feng Zheng answered, as if he had been waiting for his call. He said anxiously, “He Gu, are you okay?”
He Gu answered tiredly, “I’m fine. Sorry about that, I let you see another embarrassing moment.”
“You really…” Feng Zheng gritted his teeth. “Song Juhan really is the same asshole as always. What did he do to you?”
He Gu let out a self-deprecating laugh, “It’s really nothing. It was my birthday, so he came to spend it with me. But after seeing your call, he got angry. After all these years, the misunderstanding between you two still hasn’t been solved?”
Feng Zheng was silent for a moment, then casually said, “As long as you’re fine.”
“You actually remembered my birthday, but I made you worry instead.”
“How could I forget. Song Juhan left, didn’t he? Come have supper with me then.”
“It’s too late tonight, and we both have work tomorrow. You should rest too.”
Feng Zheng couldn’t hold it in any longer and said, “He Gu, can I give you some advice?”
He Gu slowly leaned against the wall. “Feng Zheng, all the reasons you’ve thought about, and the ones you haven’t, I’ve considered them all. But I just can’t help myself. Even if you try to persuade me, it’s useless. I’ve made my bed, and now I have to lie in it. I just don’t want you to waste your time and effort on my issues.”
“He Gu, you are the only person I know that would walk right into the fire even after seeing it.”
He Gu was amused by Feng Zheng’s description. “I guess so. Maybe I owed him in my previous life, so I’m simply paying him back now.”
A long sigh could be heard from the other end of the phone.
Even after Gu Qingpei left to the new company, he did not leave the group chat with his old colleagues. Occasionally, when He Gu opened the chat to have a look, he would see Gu Qingpei joking and complaining about his new team.
Today, as He Gu looked through his documents on his computer, a notification popped up. It was a video call invitation from Gu Qingpei. After hesitating for a moment, he answered the call.
Once the call connected, He Gu could see Gu Qingpei sitting at his desk in a fancy office, smiling and enthusiastically waving at him. “Hi. What are you up to?”
Unable to hold back anymore, He Gu smiled and said, “Just busy working. But Chief Gu seems to be in a happy mood.”
Gu Qingpei sighed as he replied, “I’m simply forcing a smile over here. This company is a complete mess, and my boss just gave me a really tough problem… Never mind, let’s not talk about this. Let me show you my new office instead.” Standing up, Qu Qingpei held his phone and slowly panned the camera around to show off his new office interior.
This office was much more luxurious than Nanchuang’s executive offices. From a glance, you could immediately tell the extravagant amount of money spent on its interior. The overall design and decor was truly worthy of the company’s private status, spending their money however they pleased.
He Gu couldn’t help but feel a little envious. “Your office looks really nice.”
“Indeed. So what do you think? Have I changed your mind?”
He Gu smiled. “This is an executive office. It’s not like I’ll get one of those.”
“We are actually in the process of renovating the new offices. Once it’s done, I’ll move to a new office, and this one can be yours.” Gu Qingpei looked at He Gu with a barely suppressed grin. “As long as you want it, I will always have a position for you here.”
“Chief Gu, you really give me too much credit. I’m only good at working and can’t do much else. I’m afraid I won’t live up to your expectations.” Although He Gu was really grateful for Gu Qingpei’s appreciation, he still felt a little guilty inside. He thought someone as clever as Gu Qingpei couldn’t possibly be interested in someone as boring as him.
“Oh? But didn’t you know that someone like you, who only works, is perfect. As long as you do what you need to do, I can give you everything else.”
He Gu smiled to himself. “Chief Gu, I’ll give you an answer after the New Year. Is that alright?”
“Fine,” said Gu Qingpei as he let out a sigh. “He Gu, I think you already know my situation. Yuan Lijiang’s businesses are very big. With this new subsidiary company, he promised that as long as I succeeded in listing it as a public company, I can join the board of directors. But I’m struggling without anyone trustworthy by my side.”
“That’s why I’ve placed high hopes on you. I’ll be waiting for your answer after the New Year.”
“Of course, I’ll let you know.”
“Oh yes, let me show you the Dragon Fish1金龙鱼 – literally ‘Gold Dragon Fish’ aka Asian Arowana, or Dragon Fish. It is the world’s most expensive aquarium fish, and is believed to bring good luck and prosperity. It is expensive due to its high demand, being an endangered species and also its difficulty to breed in captivity. I’ve been keeping lately. My Dashi2大师 – literally ‘Great master’, it is the respectful name to call one’s spiritual master. Most high society Chinese businessmen or politicians have a spiritual leader that provides guidance to their personal wellbeing, as well as their businesses. They often give advice on recommended me to raise two of them in my office to help disperse the inauspicious energy of my upcoming promotion3風水 – Feng Shui’ – the flow of energy to help harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. That is what Gu Qingpei is referring to here about his promotion.. But one died yesterday. I paid 80,000 yuan for each of these fish. I felt so bad, I couldn’t even sleep last night from thinking about it.” Gu Qingpei pouted, showing a hint of childishness.
“Then the fish must have helped block that negative energy for you. It’s a heroic sacrifice.”
“Hey, that actually makes sense. I feel a lot better now.” Gu Qingpei turned the phone around and pointed the camera at the fish tank. He Gu didn’t even have a chance to look at the fish, which costs more than gold, when Gu Qingpei’s office door was suddenly yanked open.
Gu Qingpei’s voice immediately took on an edge of ridicule. “I’ve said this many times before. You have to knock before you enter an office. You’re already a grown adult. How can you not understand the basic manners that even a two-year-old knows?”
“Stop talking shit.” The agitated voice of a young man could be heard through the phone.4Hillary: It’s Yuan Yang! Omg it’s Yuan Yang!!! Hahaha No idea why, but I just love him so much…
As He Gu sat up with curiosity, the video call was abruptly disconnected.
Just as the call ended, the window was replaced by an advertisement. It so happened to be Song Juhan’s new electrical appliances ad.
He Gu sighed and closed the online chat window. He was rather unlucky in this matter. No matter how much he wanted to forget that person, it was impossible with his face and voice popping up at every corner. Even if he wanted to forget, he simply couldn’t hide from it all.
Since his birthday, it had already been half a month of radio silence from Song Juhan. Considering that He Gu didn’t have the energy to go coax and reconcile with him, Song Juhan was going to be angry for a very, very long time. Moreover, as it was nearing the end of the year, the pressure at work was also building up as well. He Gu was so busy, he was basically living in the construction sites. With this overwhelming amount of pressure, He Gu was too tired and lazy to go look for Song Juhan. Just leave it be. If he’s meant to come, he’ll come eventually. Or perhaps, this was the moment he had been both afraid of and waiting for. He Gu had prepared himself mentally for this in the last six years, and he had long been ready to take the matter calmly.