According to Xiao Song, this was a “blessing in disguise.” Indeed, during the days when He Gu was recuperating, he and Song Juhan had a very harmonious relationship. At times, it could even be described as sweet. With He Gu’s personality of always planning ahead, as well as the fact that being with Song Juhan has trained him to have an attitude of living happily with no thought for the future, in order to keep the peace, He Gu was willing to forget everything that happened in the past.
Despite resting for a full week, He Gu still felt a little uncomfortable. However, there was too much to do at work, and things were starting to pile up. Since Song Juhan was also busy shooting his new MV, He Gu couldn’t sit still at home any longer. He started to go back to work.
That afternoon, he received a call from Feng Zheng asking to meet up. In the last week or so, Feng Zheng had tried to meet him twice, but he had declined both times, using his accident as an excuse. But for the most part, he knew he was just consciously avoiding him. Since Feng Zheng came back from abroad, he and Song Juhan’s relationship had become increasingly strained and tense, even if it might not be exactly Feng Zheng’s fault.
Feng Zheng mentioned that this time it was a welcoming party hosted by Peng Fang to celebrate a close friend’s return.1Hillary: I wonder who that could be… *cough* Yuan Yang *cough* Peng Fang had especially invited him.
He Gu was told that it would be a small gathering, and since he was embarrassed to reject Feng Zheng’s invitation again, he reluctantly accepted.
After working overtime until the evening, he drove directly to the bar.
The location of the bar was quite a coincidence, it was actually diagonally opposite to “Black Gate,” the Qing Bar he and Gu Qingpei went to last time.
Feng Zheng and Peng Fang, along with a small group of people, had just finished dinner, and they were standing in front of the bar waiting for everyone to arrive.
“Hey, He Gu.” Peng Fang smiled and waved at him. “It’s Saturday, why are you still working overtime? You should have joined us for dinner instead.”
He Gu said, “Chief Peng, how are you? Work’s been super busy lately. I can’t help it.”
“He Gu.” Feng Zheng came over and patted his shoulder. “Why do I feel like everytime I see you, you look skinnier?”
“That can’t be. My weight hasn’t changed.” He Gu didn’t mention his accident to Feng Zheng. As a matter of fact, the accident had indeed affected He Gu’s appetite, and he had lost quite a few jin2斤 – jīn, is a unit of weight equivalent to approximately 0.5kg in the past week.
“Come, let me introduce you to a few friends. This is Wu Ziang, and that’s his girlfriend…” Peng Fang began to introduce everyone around him. The last one was a young man with a gloomy face. “… And this here, is my xiongdi3兄弟 – xiōng dì, can mean younger brother but also used between close friends, similar to ‘bros’, Yuan Yang. Tonight’s party is to welcome him back.”
He Gu looked at the young man in question. He had a tall build, similar to that of Song Juhan, but was clearly stronger and more muscular. With a short buzz cut, he looked both arrogant yet handsome. He carried himself with a particularly upright and capable temperament, giving off the vibe of a soldier.
“Hi,” said He Gu.
Yuan Yang nodded his head at him, but his eyes weren’t directed at him. He didn’t seem to be paying him any attention, his mind clearly elsewhere.
“Come on, stop looking so constipated.” Peng Fang hooked his arm around Yuan Yang’s neck, and pulled him towards the bar. “Come, come. Let’s go in.”
Feng Zheng led He Gu into the bar first.
Behind them, they could hear Yuan Yang and Peng Fang discussing something. After a moment, Yuan Yang turned around and walked in the opposite direction.
Once they got to their private room, Feng Zheng asked out of curiosity, “Where’s Yuan Yang?”
“I don’t know. He said he saw someone familiar, and went to have a look.” Peng Fang’s tone seemed a little mischievous. Giggling stupidly to himself, he continued, “But we might hear some gossip later on.”
“What kind of gossip?” The other’s also started to get curious.
“I already said I don’t know. Just ask him yourself when he gets back.”
Peng Fang ordered an entire table of alcohol and snacks, and before long, the party started.
He Gu sat in the corner chatting with Feng Zheng, talking idly about topics of no significance. Feng Zheng did try to persuade He Gu to quit his job though, fearing that he was working too hard.
Not long after, Peng Fang came over and complained, “There’s plenty of alcohol around, and you both are just chatting away. It’s like you’re getting naked to discuss philosophy. Come, come, hurry, drink up.”
Feng Zheng laughed. “Peng Fang, what have you been up to lately?”
“Just working blindly to make a profit. How can I compare to Master Feng?”
“Stop teasing me. My new company hasn’t even stood firm yet.”
“Haha. Come, let’s drink. Cheers to your new company.”
The few of them began to drink back and forth. He Gu even took the initiative to toast a few glasses. Although He Gu had a good tolerance, he did not like to drink excessively, and he hated noisy environments. If it wasn’t for him trying to avoid meeting alone with Feng Zheng, he wouldn’t have come to such a party.
After a while, Yuan Yang came back. Strangely, the gloomy expression he had a while ago was no longer there. He even smiled a little smugly.
Peng Fang’s eyes lit up as he hurried over to his friend. The two lowered their heads to discuss something, laughing maliciously from time to time.
Feng Zheng also went over to toast the honored guest. Yuan Yang gladly accepted and drank very proudly, one glass after another. Seeing this, Feng Zheng didn’t dare stand around for long. After three cups, he swiftly ran away.
He Gu said in a quiet voice, “That Yuan Yang, was he a soldier? He looks quite imposing, and he even drinks like the troops in the army.”
“Yes, he just returned from the army. He’s Peng Fang’s childhood friend. His dad is the chairman of Yuan Clan holdings. You must’ve heard of them before?”
“Yuan Clan?” He Gu looked quite surprised. “Yuan Lijiang?”
“Yup, you know him?”
“Of course not. But one of my superiors just jumped ship to Yuan Lijiang’s.” He didn’t think it would be such a coincidence. Yuan Yang was actually the son of the same Yuan Lijiang.
“Oh, Yuan Lijiang is very generous to his subordinates. He’s quite good at retaining people around him. My dad, on the other hand, is horrible at that. Although he is clear with rewards and punishments, he sometimes comes across too strong to win people over.”
“Yes, but I think Chief Feng’s style directly influences the upright attitude of the company. I think it’s great.”
Feng Zheng smiled and looked at He Gu. In the dim light, those deep and beautiful eyes looked particularly bright. “Actually, back then, you should have stayed at my dad’s company. Our relationship is a personal matter and shouldn’t impact your career. I’m not such a narrow-minded person.”
He Gu honestly answered, “I never thought you were a narrow-minded person. It’s just that back then… Forget it, it’s all in the past now.” He Gu topped up Feng Zheng’s glass and said, “Cheers.”
A look of complication flashed before Feng Zheng’s eyes. The two threw back their drinks and emptied their glasses in one gulp.
Suddenly, He Gu’s phone started to ring. Taking his phone out, he saw it was Song Juhan.
Feng Zheng squinted his eyes, and said emotionlessly, “It’s Superstar Song.”
“I’ll go take this call.” He Gu held his phone and left the private room. “Hello, Juhan.”
“He Gu, where are you?” Song Juhan’s voice sounded a little gloomy.
“I’m out with… some colleagues.” The background noise in the bar was too loud to hide, so he couldn’t outright lie.
“You aren’t with Feng Zheng, right?”
“No.” He Gu seemed to have chosen to lie without hesitation. After saying that one word, he silently sighed in his heart. Even if he was trying desperately to retain this tragic relationship, how much could he really change?
“Do you know where I am?” asked Song Juhan.
“… Where?” He Gu’s heart trembled in fear. This was the high street for nightlife and was well known as well as a popular destination. Could Song Juhan have seen him already?
“I’m at Dasheng studio’s restaurant. I ran into Ou Taining. He’s filming here as well.”
He Gu froze. “Oh. He… ”
Song Juhan gnashed his teeth together as he gritted out, “Explain this to me. What were you doing going alone to a gay bar with a gay like Gu Qingpei?”
He Gu felt the onslaught of a sudden headache. “That day, when we were in front of the office, do you still remember? He saw us together and guessed our relationship. I didn’t think he would also be a gay. He just quit his job and wanted to make a friend. There’s really nothing else.”
“You didn’t know before?”
“I really didn’t know.”
“Is he interested in you?” Song Juhan’s tone was quite aggressive.
He Gu helplessly replied, “No.” A sudden random thought passed through his eyes, the face of Zhuang Jieyu. “I’m not his type. We have been working together for so many years. If he really was interested, he wouldn’t have waited until now.”
Song Juhan sarcastically said, “I realized you’re quite good at attracting others.”
He Gu felt a wave of indescribable fatigue, and said in a lowered voice, “Juhan, you’re thinking too much.”
“It better be that I’m thinking too much.” Song Juhan’s voice was as cold as ice as he said, “You should know your place, and stay away from those messy gays.”
“… I know.”
In the next second, the disconnect tone can be heard from the phone.
He Gu stared dazedly at the name on the caller ID for a long time, his mind blank.
He was an adult, and nearly thirty, how could he still be holding his ears4拎着耳朵教训 – to be told off whilst holding your earlobes. It is common in Asian culture for younger children/generations to be told off by their elders whilst holding their ears. This is quite a demeaning punishment, and is often only used on punishing children, and not adults. He Gu uses this comparison to indicate that he is not just being told off, but told off like a child. and easily told off like a child, and even choosing to endure it. If loving someone means that one becomes petty and desperate. Then what is the point in loving at all?
No matter how long he spent deliberating this question, he still wasn’t able to come up with an answer.
Walking back to the private room, Feng Zheng could instantly tell that something was off about his mood. “What’s wrong? Did you guys fight?”
“No.” He Gu lightly swirled the contents of his glass and said, “Come, let’s drink.”
Feng Zheng stared at him for a moment, narrowing his eyes, then bumped their glasses together with a clink.
That day, it wasn’t clear whether it was because of the numerous people toasting one drink after another, or whether He Gu had intentionally wanted to get drunk. At the end of the night, he was so drunk that he had to be dragged out of the bar by Feng Zheng and his driver.
He Gu did not completely black out, but his mind was a bit hazy. His vision blurred, his steps shook, and his voice slurred. “Feng Zheng, help me call a… a replacement driver5代驾 – a ‘replacement driver’ is a driver that delivers inebriated people and their cars home together. This practice began in the hard-drinking capital of Seoul, Korea, but has recently become more popular in other metropolitan cities as well..”
“What replacement driver, I’ll just get my driver to send you home.”
“But my… my car…”
“I’ll get someone else to send it home for you.”
“En…” He Gu nodded, then felt his head about to explode and his body start to slump forward uncontrollably.
After forcing a half unconscious He Gu into the car, Feng Zheng got in as well. Even though He Gu had a slim build, he was still a grown man of more than seventy kilos. On top of that, Feng Zheng, himself, had also been drinking, so his legs were a little weak. In the short distance from the bar to the car, Feng Zheng was left sweating and completely worn out.
He Gu slumped against the car door, his eyelids heavy as he looked at Feng Zheng through the remaining slither in his vision. “I didn’t think… you were hiding such skills.”
Feng Zheng shook his head, trying to sober up. “What am I hiding?”
“Your tolerance is… way better than me.” He Gu rubbed his forehead against the car door, feeling quite dizzy still.
Feng Zheng looked at He Gu’s mysteriously intoxicated state. This person, who normally came across as such a proper and serious man, was right now revealing rather amorous and flirtatious expressions. Feng Zheng felt his heart flutter, then pulled He Gu towards himself. “If it gets bumpy, you’ll hurt yourself.”
The car coincidentally made a sharp turn. He Gu lost his balance and fell right into Feng Zheng’s arms.
Feng Zheng held his breath, looking down at He Gu as his gaze burned up.
He Gu immediately struggled to get up. Feng Zheng held onto his shoulders and helped straighten his body. Then he brushed away the messed up hair over his eyes and stared intently at his face. That once youthful and upright face had now accumulated a somewhat mature charm. Compared to back then, he looked even more attractive now. Feng Zheng felt a sudden and indescribable emotion rise in his chest, and softly said, “He Gu, before Song Juhan showed up, I always thought you were very smart.”
He Gu couldn’t understand his words. “I am… smart.”
Feng Zheng felt a surge of heat rising to his head. He couldn’t stop himself from reaching out and gently touching He Gu’s cheek. His tone was full of an unwillingness to admit defeat. “He treats you like this, why do you still like him? Am I not good enough? What does he have that I don’t?”
He Gu frowned, feeling that something wasn’t quite right. He wanted to get away from Feng Zheng, but his body wouldn’t move at all. “Feng Zheng. You’re drunk… I’m drunk too.”
“I’m very sober. But you really are drunk. You’ve been drunk since six years ago, and you still haven’t sobered up yet.”
Feng Zheng leaned forward, getting closer to He Gu. He knew some things were better left unsaid, but he just couldn’t help himself. “Do you still remember our kiss? I’ve always regretted it, regretted that I couldn’t kiss you properly just once. I also regretted leaving. If I had stayed, maybe you wouldn’t have become the way you are now. You wouldn’t have become so… cheap.”
A fierce expression flashed across Feng Zheng’s face. He pinched He Gu’s chin and roughly shut him up with his lips.
In an instant, He Gu’s mind was left completely blank, to the point he forgot to resist.
Feng Zheng forcefully kissed and sucked at the lips that he had been thinking about for a long time. He Gu was kissed until he was out of breath. Although He Gu instinctively tried to reject the kiss and push the man away, Feng Zheng grabbed onto his hands and secured them behind his back.
When Feng Zheng finally released him, He Gu’s brain had already been deprived of oxygen for a while and his entire body felt weak all over. He looked at Feng Zheng, gasping for air as he struggled to say, “Feng Zheng… do you have a death wish…”
Feng Zheng laughed as if he was drunk again. “Yes. I have a death wish, but don’t you also have a death wish? Do you even know why Song Juhan approached you in the first place… Hahaha. He Gu, you’re the one that’s really got a death wish.”
He Gu clenched his fists, wanting to punch Feng Zheng. But with another sudden turn of the car, his body unwillingly fell against the seat instead. He was very tired and sleepy, his eyelids so heavy they seemed to weigh more than thousand pounds of gold. He didn’t even want to move a finger, and he fell asleep almost instantly.
When He Gu woke up the next day, his head was splitting and the world was spinning. He had never regretted drinking so much before. After all, he had not fully recovered from his concussion yet, and now this hangover had completely knocked him off his feet.
He turned around and pried open his sore eyelids. Looking at the familiar chandelier above his head, he attempted to recall how he got home last night.
Did Feng Zheng send him back?
In He Gu’s foggy memory, some strange images and dialogue began to appear in his mind. He remembered that he and Feng Zheng seemed to have… kissed!
Alarm bells went off in He Gu’s mind. Did he hallucinate when he was drunk, or did it actually happen?
Enduring his splitting headache, He Gu turned around to get out of bed. From a messy pile of smelly clothes he fished around and finally pulled out his phone. He was about to call Feng Zheng to confirm his weird suspicion, but as he was looking at the name on the screen, he began to hesitate.
If it actually happened, then it would be quite awkward. But if it was just his hallucination, then it would be even more awkward. He needed to find out the truth once and for all. Otherwise he would probably remain uneasy for a long time. Having made up his mind, he gritted his teeth in determination and clicked the dial button.
The phone rang for a long time before anyone picked up. When the call finally connected, Feng Zheng answered with a hoarse voice as if he was speaking through his nose. “Hello?”
“Feng Zheng, did you get drunk too?”
“Yeah. My head hurts, and my throat feels horrible, you?”
“Me too…” More doubts seemed to enter He Gu’s heart. “So, did you send me home last night?”
“My driver did. He also sent your car back, said it’s parked somewhere around your neighborhood.”
“Help me thank him for his troubles.”
“It’s fine. Why are you being all courteous?”
“So… Last night, I didn’t do anything stupid, did I?”
Feng Zheng laughed. “I don’t even remember if I did anything stupid myself, how would I remember what you did. Don’t worry, we’re basically tweedledum and tweedledee.”
After hearing that, He Gu wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or not. He obviously wouldn’t be able to find out anything from Feng Zheng. But, even if he did get drunk and started to hallucinate, he shouldn’t have dreamt of that kind of kiss with Feng Zheng. On the other hand, if it really did happen, with Feng Zheng refusing to admit it, he couldn’t be sure as well.
This only added to He Gu’s wariness towards Feng Zheng.
Truthfully, it wasn’t like He Gu hadn’t considered looking for a steady partner, someone supportive and understanding, someone he could spend the rest of his life with. Maybe that way, he would finally be able to come out of Song Juhan’s shadow. But even then, that person couldn’t be Feng Zheng. He Gu knew that he would never be able to forget Song Juhan. He had already used up his entire lifetime’s worth of love and passion on that one person. And since he did care about Feng Zheng, that is exactly why he couldn’t bring his half-assed feelings into a relationship with him.