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.”
“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?”
“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