He Gu was busy the whole afternoon. When he was about to get off work, he suddenly remembered that it had been a while since he heard from Gu Qingpei. He also hadn’t shown up in the company group chat. Was it to avoid suspicion?
He Gu took out his cell phone and called Gu Qingpei.
It took a long time before it was answered, and Gu Qingpei’s voice sounded a bit tired. “En, He Gu?”
“Chief Gu, how have you been these days? Are you still busy?”
“Yeah.” Gu Qingpei let out a bitter laugh. This man, who had always been eloquent and charismatic, was surprisingly silent for a long time.
“Are you okay? Would you like to hang out?” He Gu found himself now looking everywhere for other sources of emotional support. He repaired his relationship with his family and deepened his friendships all to be able to fill in the heavy blow he suffered from Song Juhan. He had always thought that he was very independent and could live alone, but now it seemed that his emotional support for so many was really only Song Juhan. Once this support threatens to break, he would have to find a new one.
After all, he was only human.
Gu Qingpei said, “A lot of things have been going on recently, and I can’t get away. I’ll give you a call in a few days when I’m free.” He smiled. “I don’t know if you’ll have time then though.”
He Gu smiled. “I really can’t say. Let’s talk again when the time comes.” Then he paused, and he couldn’t help saying, “Chief Gu, you don’t sound so spirited. You should pay attention to your body.”
“En, you too.”
After He Gu hung up the call, several WeChat messages popped up on his cellphone. He opened them and saw that they were all from Zhuang Jieyu. He was trying on an ancient scholar costume and was making several twisted faces.
He Gu couldn’t help but chuckle.
Zhuang Jieyu would send him some messages from time to time, but he rarely replied to them. He knew that he shouldn’t get too close to Zhuang Jieyu, but this child was probably too blessed. Ever since childhood, he had never known the taste of being rejected. The colder He Gu was, the more enthusiastic he’d be.
He looked at those funny pictures and replied with two1In the raws, it said three, since “little monkey” is written with three characters: 小猴子 words: Little monkey.
A response soon came: Where have you ever seen a monkey as handsome as me?
He Gu shook his head and smiled lightly. It was the first time in his life that he met such a person like Zhuang Jieyu. He was enthusiastic, self-centered, carefree, and frank, with the fearless vigor of young people. If they put aside the prejudice brought about by the embarrassing experience when they first met, this child was actually not bad.
Actually, He Gu was the one who couldn’t put aside his prejudice.
Carrying a document bag, He Gu went downstairs. As soon as he walked out of the company door, he saw a car parked nearby, and he vaguely felt that it looked familiar.
Sure enough, the next moment, the car door opened and Feng Zheng got off.
He Gu froze, his expression a little uncomfortable.
Feng Zheng’s face was also a bit gloomy when he slowly walked over. “Get in the car. Let’s find a place to talk.”
“Feng Zheng, I thought I made myself clear on the phone last time.”
Feng Zheng’s expression was both incredulous and sad. “We’ve been friends for so many years, but because of Song Juhan, you don’t even want to talk to me anymore?”
He Gu especially dreaded Feng Zheng’s statement, for not only Feng Zheng thought so, but also himself. The four words “valuing lovers over friends” wasn’t enough to describe how stupid and shameful it sounded to break off with a friend just for one’s wishful “love.”
Although he knew that things were not that simple, what really annoyed him was the inexplicable rivalry between Feng Zheng and Song Ju Han. He didn’t want to be involved in it.
He Gu sighed lightly. “Feng Zheng, that day at the dinner party, you deliberately sowed discord between me and Juhan. Is this what a friend should do?”
Feng Zheng was speechless for a moment, and his gaze flickered a little. “I… I admit that I’m not resigned to it. Why did he dare treat you that way? Why can’t you just leave him!”
“This is between me and him. I don’t want to be a prop you could use to provoke him.”
“I didn’t think so!” Feng Zheng was anxious.
“Really?” He Gu stared at Feng Zheng with burning eyes. “Are you sure you don’t have such thoughts? I don’t know what deep conflict you two have, but you guys are already this old yet you still can’t let it go. Song Juhan used me to attack you six years ago. Right now, aren’t you doing the same thing as him?”
He didn’t say anything just to save Feng Zheng some face, but it didn’t mean he didn’t understand. Now it had come to the point that even someone like him, who never bothered about other people’s business, finally wondered about what happened between Song Juhan and Feng Zheng.
Feng Zheng gritted his teeth and said, “I am different from him. I really liked you.”
He Gu was stunned, and he couldn’t help but suck in a breath.
This was the first time Feng Zheng said it bluntly. Although his intentions were obvious back then, he had never said he “liked” him.
He Gu was silent for a moment, and said, “Feng Zheng… this… I think you were just acting in a fit of a range at that time. If you really liked me, you wouldn’t have waited for Song Juhan to stimulate you. You would have known.”
“No, I was just very confused at that time. I wasn’t sure, so I just stayed as friends with you. In fact… I was hoping you’d take the first move, but you were so withdrawn and cautious…” Feng Zheng shook his head, his eyes full of regret. “If only I’d been more mature at that time. How could I have thought that Song Juhan would suddenly appear and that you would instantly fall in love with him?”
Looking back on that year, He Gu also felt puzzled about his thoughts and decisions back then. Perhaps it was because he was young. Being young, he was hot-headed, unflinching to even confusing feelings. Being young, he was stupid and impulsive, and he made a lot of mistakes.
“Feng Zheng, there is no need to talk about what happened back then. We’re already like this, and he and I are already like this. You have everything, and you’re even busy with your career. There is really no need to waste your time on me.”
“How can time spent on you be wasted time?” Feng Zheng looked at He Gu deeply. “After so many years, the moment I saw you again, I found that I still haven’t forgotten you. He Gu, is it really impossible between us? Would you rather be sex friends with Song Juhan instead of trying it seriously with me?”
He Gu took a deep breath. “Feng Zheng, all my feelings and energy have been exhausted on Song Juhan. I’ll never have the same strength to like another person again in this life. Wouldn’t this be unfair on anyone?”
“How would you know if you haven’t tried? How am I worse than him?”
He Gu said seriously, “Feng Zheng, you are a very important person to me, so I can’t try with you. I don’t want to spoil your feelings.”
Feng Zheng clenched his fist very tightly and grumbled indignantly under his breath, “Why are you stupid!”
He Gu looked down. “Feng Zheng, what exactly is the conflict between you and Song Juhan? Is it worth the tit-for-tat confrontation between you two right now?”
Feng Zheng’s expression turned a bit strange. “They’re all things of the past. I like you, and it has nothing to do with him.”
He Gu didn’t believe it, but Feng Zheng obviously didn’t want to mention it. So he stopped asking and only advised: “What’s between us can only end here. You’ll receive my gifts and best wishes during the holidays, and if you need anything, I will do everything I can to help you. Maybe we can go back to being normal friends one day, but until you let go of your obsession, we should try not to see each other. This is for your own good.”
Feng Zheng glared at him resentfully. “You’ve said so much, but isn’t it still because of Song Juhan!”
“It’s not just because of him…”
“He Gu! I don’t want you to get hurt, so can you stop being stupid? Song Juhan will never like you. What are you doing wasting time with him?! You’re wasting your life!”
He Gu said wearily, “This is my own business. Feng Zheng, take it as me begging you. Don’t push me anymore.”
Feng Zheng’s eyes were red, his expression full of indignance. He shook his fist hatefully and said in a hoarse voice, “You will regret it.” With that, he turned to open the door and got into the car.
He Gu watched the car leave at once, and his heart felt endlessly uncomfortable.
When He Gu got home, he turned on the news and looked for reports about Song Juhan’s holiday. Though much of the news were just baseless speculations, the fact remained that, in the photos, the people were naked.
According to the report, the woman who was suspected to be Song Juhan’s new girlfriend was a rising model who just won an award abroad and had even signed a contract with a light luxury brand. She was very young, only nineteen years old.
Nineteen, the same age as Zhuang Jieyu. Song Juhan had matured early. When he was young, he dated those who were older than him, and some of them were even older by more than ten years. Now that he was older, he’d naturally pick the tender ones.
With so many young and beautiful bodies around him, it was no wonder that Song Juhan felt he was ungrateful and even “dared to give him a look.”
He Gu closed the webpage and started to look at the blueprints. He was having a hard time concentrating, but then the phone suddenly rang. He took it over and saw that it was Xiao Song calling. Didn’t Xiao Song follow Song Juhan to Saipan?
He Gu answered the phone. “Hello, Xiao Song?”
“Hey ge, you just got off work, right?” Xiao Song’s cheerful voice came from the other end of the phone.
“Yeah, are you in Saipan?”
“Yup, and this is even an international call. Aiyo, it really hurts my heart.”
“En, then make a long story short. What’s the matter?”
“Ah, then do you… do you want any delicacies? Xiao Xiao2Different from the Xiao in Xiao Song, which means “little” (小). This one means “dawn” (晓). Repeat the name twice, and it becomes an affectionate nickname. and I are shopping.”
“I don’t want anything. You guys have fun. The charge for this call is expensive, so I’m hanging up.” He Gu didn’t want to be reminded of what Song Juhan was doing at the moment.
“Ah, wait,” Xiao Song tried to drag on the call. “Um, there are some weaves here. They’re quite beautiful. There are also handicrafts, and oh, there are coconuts! I’ll bring you coconuts!”
He Gu frowned. “Aren’t there coconuts in Hainan3海南 – a tropical province in China?”
“Here… it’s different. I’ll bring you one ah.”
“Hey ge, what are you doing? Have you been busy or tired these days?”
“It’s getting colder and colder in China, so don’t catch a cold.”
He Gu was confused. “Xiao Song, are you making an international call just to especially chat with me?”
“No, aiya, how could that be? I just wanna ask what you want. You often take care of me, so I want to bring you something.”
“You don’t have to bring anything.”
“Oh right, I saw the local news. Damn, I don’t know when it was secretly photographed. Han-ge rented a private beach, so there shouldn’t have been any outsiders.”
“The paparazzi must be getting more difficult to deal with.”
“Yeah, it’s really annoying. They even make things up. Where were we being promiscuous? My serious girlfriend is with me, and Sheng-ge and the others brought their wives and children.”
A delicate female voice came from the side. “Do you also have a not serious girlfriend?”
Xiao Song said with a grin, “Oh my wife, how could I dare?”
“Oh, I saw Ah-Sheng’s wife, so I knew it was a lie.”
“Right, they’re all lies—Han-ge, look at the car!” Xiao Song suddenly called out.
He Gu unconsciously sat up straight. “Juhan is next to you?”
Xiao Song stammered, “Ah, no, he was just crossing the road. It’s alright. He’s far away from us, so then, ge, I’ll hang up first. You take care of your health. Bye!”
He Gu was just about to speak when the phone was hung up. He looked at his phone in a daze. That call was simply baffling.
While he was wondering about it, a WeChat message popped up on his phone. He opened it and saw that it was from Zhuang Jieyu, who sent a selfie of him at the gym, looking into the mirror to highlight his perky butt. Along it was a voice message.
He Gu frowned and clicked it open. Zhuang Jieyu’s voice came through: He-shushu, look at my ass. Isn’t it quite perky?
He Gu didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, and for a moment, he forgot about the strange phone call from just now.
Due to the unprecedented success of Song Juhan’s concert, he’d been trending quite a lot over the past six months. And coupled with that ambiguous paparazzi shot taken at Saipan, on the day he returned to the country with his team, the whole country basically knew about it.
That day was a weekend. He Gu was working overtime in the company when he once again received a call from Xiao Song. He told He Gu that the gifts he brought for him were at Song Juhan’s place, and he asked him to pick them up.
He Gu said, “Xiao Song, I’ve been working overtime lately. I don’t have time. Can I ask my assistant to pick it up?”
“No, you certainly can’t,” cried Xiao Song. “How can we let outsiders know where Han-ge lives?”
He Gu rubbed his head and said, “En, I was muddled. Then wait until I’m done.”
Xiao Song said hesitantly, “At what time can you get off? If you don’t go, Han-ge will be angry.”
“Right now, I don’t know.”
“Han-ge also bought you a lot of things.” Xiao Song sighed. “Ge, it’s not that I’m biased towards Han-ge, but I really do think he’s quite good to you. You two have been together for so many years, so don’t fall out with him just because of a little quarrel.”
He Gu didn’t bother to explain too much to Xiao Song, and simply said, “We’ll see.”
After hanging up the phone, He Gu started to feel a little uneasy. He looked outside and saw it was dark. He hadn’t eaten yet, so maybe he really should go home now.
As soon as he finished packing his things and walked out of the company building, Song Juhan called, “Hey, are you on your way?”
“I’m at the company.”
Song Juhan said fiercely, “Come over now! Xiao Song picked a lot of things for you and they’re all piled up in the living room. It’s so messy.”
“Today, I…” He Gu thought about it, and he figured that if he didn’t go now, Song Juhan wouldn’t be done with him. So he changed his mind and said, “Alright, I’ll go there now.”
“Mm, have you eaten?”
“I also haven’t eaten yet. You buy some takeout downstairs… Never mind, just come over and cook something.”
He Gu instantly guessed what Song Juhan had wanted to say. He had always loved eating the small crab roe wontons from the ground floor of the apartment, but both of them had bad memories about it. Yet when He Gu arrived at Song Juhan’s apartment, he bought a takeout of the small wontons anyway. When he thought about Zhuang Jieyu now, the initial embarrassment and avoidance was no longer there, so naturally, he wouldn’t take it out on the food.
He went upstairs with the small wontons and knocked on the door.
Song Juhan opened the door and complained, “Why won’t you take the key when I give it to you?”
“I don’t come over much. There’s no need for a key.” He Gu walked in.
Song Juhan noticed what he was holding and frowned, “Why did you buy that?”
“Don’t you want to eat this?”
“Who says I want to eat it?” Song Juhan didn’t look too happy. “I don’t like it at all now.”
“Eat some, don’t waste it. I’ll go make a few more dishes.” He Gu brought the small wontons to the kitchen.
Just after he put it down, Song Juhan dragged him to the living room and pointed to the bags on the floor. “Look, Xiao Song bought them all for you.”
“Xiao Song?” He Gu looked at the brands. How could Xiao Song have bought these things for him?
“Oh, it was me who told him to bring you something. I just let Xiao Song pick.”
He Gu nodded. “Thank you.” He swept a glance over it and said, “How come there are no coconuts?”
“Xiao Song said he would bring me coconuts from Saipan.”
Song Juhan glared. “Is he a fool? Aren’t there coconuts in Hainan?”
He Gu kinda wanted to laugh. “Maybe I heard wrong.”
Song Juhan set his lips in a straight line. “I bought so many things for you, but you won’t even look at them ‘cause you want a worthless, damned coconut.”
“I didn’t say I wanted coconuts…” Helpless, He Gu squatted on the floor to take a look at the gifts. They were all expensive luxury items worth his annual salary. He had been with Song Juhan for so long, and though he had gotten used to wearing such good things, to him, they were just clothes and didn’t mean much.
However, these gifts reminded him of when he first met Song Juhan. He had spent a lot of money on getting a new haircut and buying some clothes just to look slightly more decent in front of him. He chased after him for a long time, hoping to shorten the gap between them. Fortunately, he later came to his senses and realized that the gap between them would never change even if he spent his whole life trying. And so, he no longer squandered around.
Song Juhan squatted across him and looked at him expectantly. “Do you like them?”
He Gu gave a shallow smile. “Yes.”
“If you had gone with me…” Song Juhan trailed his words and hmph-ed lightly.
“I’m going to cook.” He Gu stood up and walked straight to the kitchen.
After making two dishes, he poured the small wontons into a bowl and called Song Juhan for dinner.
Although Song Juhan had said he didn’t like eating those wontons, at this time, he actually still ate them one mouthful at a time, and even ate them with gusto.
He Gu had never been one to talk much, but at this time, he was even more silent. The two of them were facing each other, and it was a little awkward. Song Juhan couldn’t stand the atmosphere, and he said with dissatisfaction, “Are you mute? Can’t you say something?”
He Gu paused. “Did you have a good time in Saipan?”
“It was good, but too sunny.” Song Juhan glanced at He Gu. “Did you see the news?”
“They’re all fake.”
Song Juhan still wanted to say something, but seeing He Gu’s unconcerned look, a fire instantly burst in his heart, making him viciously swallow two wontons.
After dinner, He Gu wanted to go back, but Song Juhan said, “Stay tonight.”
“I’m going to Tang city early in the morning.”
“My place is closer to the train station.”
Song Juhan frowned. “He Gu, do you not like being with me now or what? Do you think that I, Song Juhan, lack people?”
The knot in He Gu’s throat bobbed, and he said softly, “No.”
Song Juhan grabbed him. “Take a bath with me.”
He Gu was dragged to the bathroom. Song Juhan took off his clothes, revealing his perfect muscles. He turned on the shower and swung the water over He Gu. “Why aren’t you undressing yet? Do you want to do the laundry in passing?”
He Gu hesitated for a while before slowly starting to undress. He was so frightened during the rough and crazy s*x that day that he still had some lingering fears.
Song Juhan put down the shower and came over to help him. At the same time, he lowered his head and took He Gu’s lips, kissing them gently and passionately.
He Gu was pinned against the wall and had nowhere to retreat.
Song Juhan whispered, “I promise I won’t hurt you again. Relax.”
He Gu closed his eyes, and his body stirred restlessly because of Song Juhan’s familiar touch. With his wounds healed, he really could forget the pain from before.
The two of them went from the bathroom to the bedroom. Song Juhan really knew He Gu’s body like the back of his own hand, constantly taking him to the peak.
But in the muddled moments in the afterglow, He Gu only felt indescribable sorrow.