He Gu didn’t sleep well all night. The heating in the house was too much, and Song Juhan’s warm body had stayed close to him all throughout. He woke up twice in the middle of the night because of the heat, yet he didn’t want to wake up Song Juhan. He would rather Song Juhan sleep like this instead of the two of them having to face each other awkwardly when they were awake.
He bore with it until six in the morning, but he really couldn’t sleep. He went downstairs for a run, and bought some breakfast on his way back.
A morning run was really very helpful in waking up the brain. He had snapped out from that indescribably poor and dejected state he was in yesterday. He felt very funny. What was he uncomfortable about yesterday? He and Song Juhan were in that kind of relationship, and Song Juhan was also that kind of person. Didn’t he already know this from the start?
After thinking about it calmly, the recent conflicts between the two of them started when Feng Zheng suddenly returned from abroad. Perhaps this was an opportunity for him to step out from under Song Juhan’s shadow. As he became more and more accustomed to gradually alienating Song Juhan, then maybe, maybe one day, he could be the first to leave.
After breakfast, He Gu changed his clothes, found a suitcase, and began to pack. He had booked a flight to Shanghai early tomorrow morning.
Just then, Song Juhan came out of the bedroom while rubbing his eyes. As soon as he saw He Gu packing his luggage, he immediately woke up. “What are you doing?”
He Gu didn’t even raise his head. “Business trip.” He walked past Song Juhan and went to the bedroom to get his clothes. “Your breakfast is on the table.”
“When is the business trip?”
“Tomorrow?” Song Juhan frowned. “I’ve rented a private plane and planned to take the whole team to Saipan for a vacation. You can come along.”
“I’m going on a business trip.” He Gu picked out two changes of clothes and put them in the luggage.
Song Juhan looked at how He Gu didn’t even raise his eyes, and a fire rose in his heart early in the morning. He strode over and pulled him straight up from the ground by the arm. He Gu was startled, and he was forced to look at Song Juhan.
Song Juhan narrowed his eyes and said, “He Gu, are you avoiding me?”
“You don’t even look at me directly, and you say you’re not avoiding me?”
He Gu sighed. “I really have to go on a business trip. You go have breakfast.”
“How many days is your business trip?”
“We’ll be in Saipan for ten days. Come over as soon as your business trip is over.”
He Gu’s eyes were a little evasive. “I’m… really not sure when it’ll be done.”
“Do you still dare say you’re not avoiding me?!” Song Juhan was so angry that he grabbed him by the collar. “What is wrong with you these days? Is it because of Feng Zheng? Because of yesterday?”
He Gu grabbed Song Juhan’s hand, slowly pulled out his collar, and said softly, “You think too much. I’m just busy with work.”
He Gu’s indifferent attitude gave Song Juhan that frustrated feeling of his fist hitting cotton1拳头打在棉花 – hitting something and getting no reaction, rendering your hits useless, and it made him so mad. “You’re still angry about that day, aren’t you? I was fucking crazy that day, and I regret it. If you hadn’t lied to me first and I hadn’t been drunk, I would have never done that to you. In all these years we’ve been together, have I ever hurt you? I’ve said you can hit me and ask for any compensation you want, what’s the point in holding back your anger?!”
He Gu sighed. “Hitting you won’t make me happy.”
“Then how can I make you happy?”
“Why do you care if I’m happy?” He Gu asked back.
Song Juhan was speechless for a moment. He Gu’s bright, clean eyes made him a little unable to look straight at him, and for a while, he didn’t know how to answer.
“You apologized, and I accepted. Now go eat your breakfast.” He Gu continued to squat on the ground and pack his luggage.
Song Juhan looked at He Gu’s hair whorl from above, and an indescribable emotion rose in his heart. This person was clearly right in front of him, but he seemed to be moving farther and farther away.
As He Gu packed, his eyes secretly glanced at Song Juhan’s feet and saw him not moving for a long time. Constantly feeling that penetrating gaze from above was very uncomfortable, so he looked up helplessly. “Aren’t you gonna eat?”
“You eat with me.” Song Juhan said stiffly.
“I’ve already eaten.”
“You sit there and watch me eat.”
He Gu stood up. “Come on.”
The two sat down face to face. Song Juhan hesitated for a moment before eating, and He Gu really sat down to watch him.
Sometimes, when he looked at Song Juhan like this, He Gu often found it unfathomable. How could he have been with this person for so many years? Why did he madly love him2The raws literally said, “to love like a demon” many years ago? Perhaps it was because he was someone he had never obtained that his heart grew an obsession that couldn’t let go of him.
Song Juhan ate two bites and looked up at He Gu. “Come over when you’re done with your business trip, understand?”
“There are many things to be done from last year. I really don’t have any time off, and there’s no way my boss would grant me one.”
Song Juhan frowned and taunted, “If you don’t come by yourself, then I’ll have to take someone else.”
He Gu looked down and let out an “en.”
Song Juhan put down his chopsticks with a snap, crossed his arms in front of him, and looked at He Gu with his chin raised. “The one in the lounge yesterday was a model with a great figure and who’s been recently popular. You work out some more. Lately, your waist isn’t tight enough.”
He Gu nodded and said nothing.
Probably because the heart was already stabbed full of knives that there was no more place for such small fires to start.
“Who do you think I should have taken with me? Someone with a good body, a good voice, or one who’s gentle and can take care of people? If I took a girl, it will be annoying if we got photographed,” said Song Juhan while observing He Gu’s reaction.
He Gu nodded again.
Song Juhan snorted coldly and continued eating with his head down.
He Gu still watched quietly, thinking, There will come a day when I can only look at Song Juhan, and it wouldn’t even be at such a good distance.
Song Juhan left after eating. As soon as he left, He Gu felt the strength draining out of his body. He sat on the sofa for a long time and couldn’t get up.
He Gu could actually sense Song Juhan’s anxiety and dissatisfaction. He was used to controlling him, so when he suddenly found his control over him slackening, he felt unused to it, exasperated in having his authority violated. If He Gu continued being so “insensitive,” the two of them would really be over.
He Gu was in a very agonizing contradiction. On one hand, when he’d think of breaking up with Song Juhan, the next day when he woke up, he wouldn’t know what to do. But on the other hand, deep down in his heart, he looked forward to that fatal stab. He wanted a good stab that would kill him in one strike. It was better than rotting away like this.
The next morning, He Gu got on the plane with a simple luggage and went straight to Shanghai.
Since Shanghai was in the south, it was much warmer than in the capital.
As soon as He Gu got off the plane, he felt a surge of humidity, and even his breathing became much smoother.
He took a taxi to a hotel, then texted his mother and made an appointment for lunch.
He put down his luggage, unpacked and settled in, then grabbed the black pearl necklace he bought at the airport and took a taxi to the restaurant.
He and his mother hadn’t seen each other for about four or five years, so he was a little nervous before the appointment.
He knocked on the door of the private room, and a bejeweled woman in beige clothes stood up, looking a little excited.
He Gu was in a daze. There was an eight or nine-year old girl in the room.
“He Gu.” Sun Qing strode over. At a loss at what to do, she pulled on his arm and looked up at her son.
“Mom.” He Gu patted her back, his voice unconsciously softening a bit.
She was plumper than he remembered, and she was also older. Time truly healed all wounds. Facing his mother, he found that he no longer had the complaints he had before.
Sun Qing’s eyes were red. Her hands stiffened, wanting to hug He Gu but didn’t dare to.
He Gu took the initiative to bend down and hug her. This short woman had an intelligence and strength contrary to her size, but as a mother, she was not so different from other mothers.
Sun Qing hugged He Gu firmly, ger fingers cautiously stroking his head as she tried hard not to cry
The little girl looked at them curiously.
Sun Qing let him go and said sheepishly, “I haven’t introduced you to her yet. This is my and your Uncle Li’s daughter. She’s nine years old this year. Her name is Susu. Susu, come here.”
Susu walked over.
“Susu, this is the gege that mother told you about.”
Susu looked up at He Gu and said in a little adult voice, “My gege looks quite handsome, just like me.”
Sun Qing and He Gu couldn’t help but laugh. Sun Qing stroked her head. “Nonsense, it’s not your gege that’s like you. It’s you that’s like your gege.”
Susu blinked. “You’re so old. I’ll just call you uncle.” After saying so, she smiled.
“Don’t be disrespectful.”
He Gu said with a faint smile, “I didn’t think I had a sister.” He rubbed his finger against Susu’s face, and Susu bit her lip somewhat shyly.
Sun Qing was a little embarrassed. “I forgot to mention it to you.”
He Gu naturally knew that she didn’t forget and that she just didn’t dare mention it. However, he didn’t care. If he still cared, he wouldn’t have taken the initiative to come see her today.
“Come, sit down.”
The three of them sat down. He Gu carefully looked at his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in years. “Mom, you’ve lost a lot of weight.”
Sun Qing was not only thin. Even with her makeup on, He Gu could see that she didn’t look well, her whole person seeming exhausted.
“Ai, I’ve been busy with work.” Sun Qing gave He Gu a piece of meat. You too, how come you’ve gotten darker? Eat some more.”
“Bustling in the construction site all day long and getting exposed to the sun.”3Liz: Aaah the frustration of translating. He Gu is so succinct in the raws, saying only 7 words with 7 syllables (成天跑工地，晒的), but put it in English, you get 14 words with 19 syllables _(:з)∠)_
“How are you doing in Nanchuang?”
“Not bad. I earn enough to eat and drink.” He Gu then remembered about the necklace and took it out. “A gift for you.”
Sun Qing opened it happily. “It’s beautiful. Thank you, son.”
When she picked up the necklace, she couldn’t put it down. She was wearing a piece of jade around her neck that was so much more valuable than the pearl, but she immediately took off the jadeite and let He Gu put the pearl necklace on her.
Susu leaned over and asked, “Mother, isn’t this expensive?”
“It is. Your gege has always studied hard since he was a child, and now he works well. Susu should study like gege, okay?”
“Oh.” The child turned her head as soon as she heard about studying.
During the meal, Sun Qing kept picking dishes for He Gu and asking him how he was. Finally, she asked the important question, “Do you have a girlfriend?”
He Gu shook his head. “I’m busy with work. There’s no time to mingle.”
“You’re not young anymore, and being alone is lonely ah.”
“Let’s leave it to fate.” He Gu waved it off perfunctorily.
After eating, Sun Qing said to Susu, “Susu, didn’t you want to go to the lobby to look at the big turtles? You go watch them while mother and gege talk.”
“Okay.” Susu excitedly ran off.
He Gu knew his mom had something to say, and he had a feeling it had something to do about Susu. Otherwise, why would she abruptly bring it up at this time when she had never mentioned anything before?
Sun Qing looked at the direction where Susu ran off to, and sighed. “Susu is only nine years old…”
He Gu frowned. “Mom, what’s wrong?”
Sun Qing turned to look at He Gu and said sadly, “He Gu, I’m really, really happy that you could come see me today. In fact, I’ve always wanted to see you, but I didn’t dare to. I know that you’ve never really forgiven me in your heart.”
“Mom, it’s all in the past. Don’t mention it.” Actually, He Gu had understood years ago that Sun Qing really didn’t want to see him. What she couldn’t face was not her son, but the fact that she had borne a child to a man she despised and wasted her youth.
But time eventually changed everything. Like how he forgave the past, Sun Qing also felt the love between mother and son.
“I’ve wanted to see you for a long time. I’ve thought of reuniting with you this New Year no matter what. I never expected you’d come on your own initiative. I really…” There was no trace of hypocrisy in the gratitude in Sun Qing’s eyes. “Son, mom is really sorry for you for all these years.”
He Gu was so uneasy inside that he said in a dumb voice, “Mom, it’s over.” If he hadn’t come today, he probably wouldn’t have realized that there were people other than Song Juhan who could touch his heart. Maybe he’d been subconsciously rejecting such attachments, so he had never noticed it before. He was the type of person who’d rather not have something because of the fear of losing it.
Sun Qing sighed. “He Gu, mother is going to tell you something. Don’t feel too bad. You will have to know sooner or later.”
He Gu’s heart tightened. “What’s wrong?”
“I have breast cancer.”
He Gu sat up straight. “Is it serious? Can it be cured?”
“It’s still in the middle stage, and it can be treated, but the effects of the treatment are uncertain.” Sun Qing held He Gu’s hand. “I have a good career now and have achieved the dreams I had when I was young. I thought I would be satisfied, but my marriage is an empty shell, and now I’m even going to be without health. This is probably my punishment.”
He Gu didn’t expect to hear such a story. He had always thought his mother was doing well. He would even buy shares in his mother’s company, which had always been good stocks. At this moment, he really regretted coming. If he didn’t come, at least his mother would always be fine in his impression.
When Sun Qing said all this, she was very calm. “Actually, this is nothing. When people get old, how can they be free from illness or disaster? I am very calm. The only worry in my heart is Susu.”
“Isn’t Susu doing fine?”
Sun Qing shook her head, and her eyes suddenly showed some shrewdness and toughness. “Lao4老 – not a name. It means “old.” Li has two sons who are your age. Although Lao Li loves Susu, he and his parents are patriarchal. Add on that his two sons are not frugal, I’m afraid that if I leave early, Susu can only muddle along with a dowry, which I absolutely must not allow.”
“Isn’t it too early to think about this? Your condition is still quite hopeful, and Susu is still young.”
“Son, we’re the same in this regard. Both of us have the character of planning ahead of time, not to mention that this concerns my daughter.” Sun Qing looked at He Gu eagerly. “If I didn’t get sick, I wouldn’t be afraid of anything. But now I’m really worried that Susu will have a hard time if I fall down. Son, mother doesn’t know who to rely on now. Can you help your mother?”
He Gu was surprised and said, “Mom, how can I help you?”
“I’ve owed you for all these years. I wanted to give you money, but you didn’t want it. I and Lao Li no longer have any affection for each other, but since the property is difficult to divide, all this time, we’ve just been bearing it. I want to give you the shares I have. When Susu becomes an adult, you’ll just have to return half of them to her.”
“Mom…” He Gu couldn’t help but draw back. His brain couldn’t keep up with the rhythm. How could so many things happen when he only came over for a meal?
Sun Qing grabbed his hand to keep him from retreating. “Son, mother trusts you. You have never valued money since you were a child. Besides you, who can I trust?”
He Gu took a deep breath. “Mom, let me digest this first…”
Sun Qing held his hand tightly, her eyes full of expectation.
He Gu closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he had calmed down. “Mom, isn’t it too reckless of you to do this? There must be other ways that aren’t so extreme. You haven’t completely fallen out with Uncle Li.”
“I don’t care anymore. He’s not the person he used to be, and neither am I.” The rims of Sun Qing’s eyes were a little red. “When we started our business together, it was very difficult, but we were all very happy and had a good relationship. Now, everything has changed. Susu is so young. If I leave, Lao Li will become her only guardian. When the time comes, my property will be at the mercy of Lao Li and his sons. You’re my biological son. Whether in law or in affection, giving you most of my inheritance is totally not questionable.”
He Gu was still a little confused, and he sighed. “Mom, this is not a small matter. A period of one meal is not enough for me to understand it clearly.”
“I understand, and I’m also not asking you to decide right now. But anyhow, it’s not a bad thing, is it?” Sun Qing said softly. “Mom only hopes that you can take care of your sister for me. Even if you don’t want to live with her, it’s okay. Just take care of her and make sure she gets what she deserves in the future.”
“I, I’ll think about it.” But inside, He Gu didn’t want to agree. He was a person who was very afraid of inconveniences. He had always been indifferent to money, more so if it was a lot of money. To him, it was just a number, and didn’t mean much. In comparison, the various troubles that might be incurred because of a large sum of money completely deterred him. If it were anybody else asking him this, he would’ve flatly said no.
But this was his mother entrusting him with her child. How could he refuse?
He deeply regretted coming over, but he would still have to face this sooner or later.
After dinner that day, Sun Qing sent him back to the hotel. The two chatted for a long time in the guest room, and for the most part, it was to learn about each other’s lives over the years. Finally, Susu became so sleepy that she almost fell asleep on He Gu’s bed. And so Sun Qing took her leave, saying that she would show him around tomorrow.
After Sun Qing left, He Gu thought back carefully on what happened on this day, only to not know whether to laugh or cry.
Someone was rushing to give him money. He didn’t want it, but he couldn’t refuse it.
His mother was right. In the end, having money was not a bad thing. Since he couldn’t refuse, he should think in a good direction and try his best to settle the inconveniences.
During his two days stay in Shanghai, Sun Qing did everything she could to make up for all the years she wasn’t by He Gu’s side. He Gu and Susu also became familiar with each other. Although this little girl was a bit naughty, she was also smart, kind, and very likeable.
Before leaving, Sun Qing grabbed his hand and told him to consider the matter carefully and to communicate with her at any time if there were any problems.
As soon as He Gu returned to the capital, there seemed to be some kind of trigger. Phone calls from work came one after another. He was supposed to return to work tomorrow, but he went to the company ahead of time.
When he arrived at the company, several female colleagues were gossiping. That executive dajie, who was always keen on introducing people to potential partners, even spoke very loudly, “Oh, these stars, what a mess. A group of men and women playing around in bathing suits. Aren’t they being too unrestrained?”
“They’re at the beach. If they don’t wear bathing suits, then what are they supposed to wear?” Song Juhan’s big fangirl in the office defended.
As soon as Chen Shan saw He Gu, she was startled, then stood up nervously. “Chief He, why are you here?”
“Something came up, so I’m back early.” He Gu swept a glance over them and pretended to be serious as he said, “Gossipping during office hours, huh?”
Several people scattered in a flurry.
When He Gu passed by Chen Shan’s desk, he caught sight of the newspaper atop it. On the page was a sneak shot of Song Juhan and his team partying in Saipan, along with some very exaggerated and attention-grabbing words. At a glance, He Gu could see that many people had brought their wives, boyfriends, or girlfriends. Playing too much wasn’t impossible, but the media feared it wouldn’t be chaotic enough. Besides, Song Juhan was indeed very close with a woman.
Afraid that he’d be angry, Chen Shan whispered, “Chief He, we just rested for a while. We didn’t talk for long.”
He Gu smiled lightly. “I’m teasing you. It’s alright. You call Xiao Chen and the others. Bring over the latest data on that project in the Sixth Ring, and I’ll hold a meeting.”
“Hey.” Chen Shan thought for a moment and said, “Chief He, do you also like Song Juhan?”
He Gu’s expression stiffened. “What?”
“At Song Juhan’s last concert, I saw you on TV. Do you have friends who are insiders? You were standing right next to the stage, I couldn’t believe it.”
He Gu coughed lightly. “En, I have a friend who works in the stadium. That day, I happened to have nothing to do, so I went to see.”
“Uwaa, I really envy you, Chief He. Did you get up close to Song Juhan? Did you get his autograph?” Chen Shan’s eyes glowed as she looked at He Gu. Ever since she discovered about his orientation, it was as if she had a secret-sharing friendship with him. Their relationship had become much closer, and she didn’t speak to him as formally as before.
“No, there were too many people.”
“Oh, but you were so close. Is Song Juhan’s skin really good? Is his height really 188? It’s not an empty brag, is it?”
He Gu said, “Okay, it’s all true. Are you still not calling Xiao Chen?”
Chen Shan’s shoulders shivered, as if waking up from a dream. “Chief He, I was wrong.”
“Hurry up and go.”
Taking another glance at Song Juhan’s frivolous smile and carefree appearance on the newspaper, a dense pain surged in He Gu’s heart.