Chapter 6: Goes Home to Help Chen Lan
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Chen Lan stood there in the ruins, watching as a person walked down the steps.
“Finally we meet again, ZiXi.”
When Chen Lan saw the face of the person, he put on an indifferent look and found a stone to sit on, “Hi, boss.”
“So, you also know to call me boss,” The man was dressed in a loose traditional Chinese clothing, he had a scar on his face. He laughed and said, “They all say that, the most dangerous place is the safest place. How dare you hide right under my nose? Are you trying to provoke me?”
“Boss is now a huge mafia head in B City. Everyone who hears your name, Lu ZongZe, tremble in fear. How dare I question boss’s ability?” Chen Lan waved his hand. “I was taken care of by boss for so many years. If you wanted to see me, you could have just summoned me directly. Why use such a method?”
“I’m afraid you would have run away faster than a rabbit if he did.” Hearing the familiar voice, Chen Lan looked past Lu ZhongZe, and found that there was another person not far behind him. It was Qi Ye, no— it should be Lu YunSheng.
“After recognizing me, didn’t you attempt to run?” Lu YunSheng smiled.
“You took great pains to get me here,” Chen Lan said with a smile. “You’ve got a nice face now. It’s much better than your original appearance.”
“Thank you for your praise,” Lu YunSheng accepted, he said hypocritically, “This is all thanks to you.”
“Don’t talk nonsense. I don’t have much time. ZiXi, I ask you, do you own up to what happened before?”
Chen Lan looked at him with a weird look, “Why should I own up to something I didn’t do?”
“Since you haven’t done it, why do you want to escape?”
“I ran because I didn’t feel it was right to stay,” Chen Lan said, “It’s not me who killed a person. Why should I have to bear this charge for your brother?”
Lu ZongZe was not in a hurry, and said slowly, “If you don’t go to jail, YunSheng will not be able to appear in the world, and he will always have to be in hiding and carry the name of a wanted criminal.”
“It’s natural for someone who killed a person to suffer from the consequences,” said Chen Lan. “It’s impossible that you don’t understand this principle even after all these years.”
Lu ZongZe smiled oddly, “Killing has its price, that’s right.” With that, he took out a bunch of photos and threw them at Chen Lan
As soon as Chen Lan saw it, his face changed and his voice cooled, “What do you want to do?”
“I’ll ask you again. Do you own up to your wrong-doings?”
When this question was asked, Lu YunSheng turned on a recording pen.
“This has nothing to do with him.”
“Who said that? He has something to do with you, right?” Lu ZongZe picked up a picture with a look of disgust on his face. “As far as I know, he is still a research student in B University. Say, if I send one of these photos to the school, will it cause an uproar? Think about it, ZiXi, he tangled up with a thirty-six year old man. When this comes out, imagine how many people will point at him, how many people will avoid him, and how his reputation will be ruined because of you.”
Chen Lan laughed angrily and said, “When did you ever worry so much about a child’s reputation? ZiXi thank you for your concern, but I don’t mind, and he won’t mind either. Remember to censor the key parts when you send the photos, I’m afraid it would scare the kids.”
Lu ZongZe had expected that he would react like this. He said with a smile, “How loving.” Then he asked, “What about sending one to his parents?”
Chen Lan’s face turned white. Lu YunSheng interjected, “In fact, it has already been sent. It arrived in City A the day before yesterday, but it hasn’t been delivered yet. Well, since you said you’re not owning up to the murder, hmn, it should have been delivered by now.”
“The opinions of other people are not too bad, but what about his relatives? ZiXi, aren’t you being too selfish? Will you even deprive him of his parents?”
Chen Lan’s face was white and his hands were shaking, “Who allowed you to do something like this? Who allowed you to do it!?”
“It’s you. I asked you just now,” Lu ZongZe said with a smile, “Chen ZiXi, I’ll ask you again. DO you own up to the Golden Street murder?”
Lu YunSheng held up his mobile phone screen in front of Chen Lan, and there was a live video playing on it. On the screen, there was a person who appeared to be shocked as he stood by the window. It was Xiao Pian’er in his home. The person who was shooting the video must have been doing so from the opposite building. The barrel of a gun suddenly appeared in the corner of the screen, and Chen Lan’s pupil constricted.
At that moment, he suddenly thought of a totally irrelevant old thing. There was a year when it had been snowing heavily. It happened to be New Year’s Eve. When Chen Lan came back from the bar, he found Xiao Pian’er squatting at the door of his home. Even though he was wearing a thin shirt, and shivering in the cold, he still seemed totally unafraid of the cold.
The moment he saw Chen Lan, he stood up and handed him a familiar looking lunch box. During that period, they had not gotten together yet and Li PanEn was still skipping school. Chen Lan was stunned at that time. He hadn’t expected that this child would suddenly come over during the Spring Festival. He quickly opened the door to let him in.
“Why are you here, where’s your family?” Chen Lan took the lunch box and found it was still hot.
Li PanEn didn’t speak, he just stared at him intently like he was looking forward to something. Chen Lan understood and opened the lunch box, it was filled with dumplings, and everything was neatly arranged inside. The child must have covered the box all the way so that it would still be hot on such a cold and snowy day. Chen Lan had no idea how he endured it.
Chen Lan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, and was a little moved. He was an orphan; he had no father or mother, and had no friends in this city. The Spring Festival when families gathered together had never meant anything to him since he was a child, and he had been used to this for a long time. He never really tried to join in on the fun. Other people had families to gather with, but he had no one to spend the day with.
“You made this?” Chen Lan asked the child. He picked one up and put it into his mouth. He didn’t have to wait for Li PanEn to answer, he knew it must be him! The skin of the dumpling was too thick and the meat in it had not been cooked thoroughly.
“Delicious,” Chen Lan gave him a thumbs up despite his thoughts.
Li PanEn couldn’t hold it in any longer. He smiled happily like a child, and this revealed his intention, “I’ll accompany you for the new year.”
Eating dumplings, watching the Spring Festival charades, setting off firecrackers. What Chen Lan didn’t do when he was a child, he got to do all of it that night.
Li PanEn stayed too long in the heated room that he had momentarily forgotten how cold it was outside. He didn’t put on a coat when he stepped out and Chen Lan was afraid he would freeze, so he handed him his down jacket. But Li PanEn didn’t want to be the only one wearing it. So, the two of them just snuggled up together in the down jacket on the roof while watching the fireworks explode in the distance. When the ringing of the New Year’s bell arrived along with the snow, he looked at Li PanEn’s face: it was red. Chen Lan only realised later why he was blushing so much.
The heavens didn’t treat him too bad, they sent such a good person to his side. He was like family, they depended on each other, and even warmed each other up. How could he have gotten such a good child? How could there possibly be parents who didn’t like this child? Since then, he always told himself that he must stay with him, he must protect him, take care of him, and let him grow into a mature man step by step.
It’s just that the mint on the windowsill were not watered. If no one watered them, how would it survive past the New Year?
He gave up and closed his eyes slightly, “I do.”
As soon as he said this, the two people on the opposite side were obviously relieved. Lu ZongZe smiled and patted him on the shoulder, “I knew you were a good and sensible child. I will try my best to make your life easier inside. I heard that your stomach has been operated on? So are there a lot of things you can’t eat?”
Chen Lan, like a doll whose backbone had been taken away, stumbled and fell to the ground.
Lu YunSheng took back the recording pen with satisfaction and left along with Lu ZongZe. He said, “The police are coming soon. How are you going to give them the details?”
After leaving Chen Lan’s sight, Lu YunSheng turned to Lu ZongZe and asked, “Brother, this Li PanEn, are we just going to let him go?”
“Those few photos are enough to be an annoyance for him,” Lu ZongZe said with a smile. “You’ve done a good job. Now, we’ve killed two birds with one stone.”
“No need for me to find someone to deal with him? If something happens to him, Chen ZiXi would be very sad.”
“No, if we touch him, the wind will change. It’s better not to get his parents involved,” Lu ZongZe refused.
“Besides, there is a kind of punishment that is more difficult to bear than physical pain. You should just wait and see.”
Chen Lan suddenly woke up from his dream. It was still dark around him. After so many days, he still hadn’t adapted to the dark environment. It almost seemed like all the light had been absorbed and there was no hope at all. His stomach hurt as if it were being stabbed with a knife. Chen Lan turned over painfully, his shackles made a loud noise with his movement, and the prisoner in the lower bunk was rudely startled. The man immediately roared, he stretched out his feet and kicked on his bed board, “Why the fuck are you making so much noise? Damn it!”
“I’m sorry…” Chen Lan said weakly, curling up more tightly.
Lu ZongZe’s ‘care’ was not just been talk. Chen Lan’s body had not yet fully recovered from the surgery, and after his medicine intake was cut, there was a tendency of his wounds opening up. The food he received was dry and hard, and all of it was pasted with pepper. In order to maintain physical strength, he could only pick a little rice and soak it in hot water to wash it before eating. Even so, his stomach would still hurt a lot at night.
In the past two days, a steward noticed what he was doing with the rice and so, he was deprived of the right to get hot water. As a result, Chen Lan had to cut down on the amount of food he could take and didn’t eat much for several days. He felt dizzy when he walked.
The felons here were all bound with shackles. But Chen Lan’s shackles were obviously taken care of specially, since it was much thicker than the others’. His formerly white and tender wrists were now covered in a layer of blood and blisters. When walking, he could hardly move his legs and he felt a deep heartache whenever he moved.
It was not really that these injuries hurt the most though. After all the words he had told his family’s Xiao Pian’er the other day, Chen Lan dared not to think about Xiao Pian’er’s feelings. Of course, he was reluctant to let go of him. If he had spoken less, he could have hoped that Xiao Pian’er would wait for him.
Several years would go by fast, and he would be able to endure it. But the lawyers told him that since he had intentionally killed a person and fled for ten years, his sentence would be heavier. Plus, Lu ZongZe had intervened, so his sentence would last for at least ten years.
He will be almost fifty years old when he’s released. His appearance often made him look like a young man in his teens and twenties, but Lu YunSheng was right for once. Chen Lan’s eyes and experiences betrayed him. He was not young anymore. Could he make Xiao Pian’er wait for him for more than ten years just to be with an old criminal?
Even if he allowed it, Xiao Pian’er shouldn’t live like that. The child was still so young and excellent. This was the child Chen Lan himself had raised, he knows. Even without him, Xiao Pian’er would never be worse than anyone else. He deserved a more competent lover, a lover who would actually be able to give birth to his children.
“Ah, the one with shackles, come here,” Someone called in the distance, interrupting Chen Lan’s thoughts.
In the past days, it had been raining continuously. The misty air only made Chen Lan’s face paler and paler. Because of illness, his shoulders, too, became thin. He was as fragile as the wind.
Someone from above would be coming over to inspect the place, so the Institute organized people to clean, and Chen Lan was assigned to clean up the mud in the old pond. Since the blisters on his feet were frightening, some of his friends at the jail didn’t dare make him go into the water, so Chen Lan was just to clean up the weeds on the bank.
Chen Lan was called again, he sighed in his heart, knowing that he would probably be taken care of again. An old jailer held him back and didn’t want him to go.
Chen Lan smiled and said, “It’s fine.”
“My ring fell in. Go find it for me.”
“Yes sir,” Chen Lan pulled up his sleeves, and he dragged his tinkling shackles into the water. The black dirty water hurt and stung his ankle, as if hundreds of small insects were drilling in at the same time. He didn’t eat in the morning, so Chen Lan had hypoglycemia. When he leaned down, he felt all the blood in his body rush up into his head, and he almost fell into the water. Seeing the reflection of his haggard appearance on the water, he felt nausea and hurriedly rubbed his own stomach in pain.
The cold wind blew over and lifted Chen Lan’s thin prison clothes. He wrapped his clothes tightly around him, then groped the bottom of the pond inch by inch.
All the people around knew that the warden was obviously targeting him, and those who had been jailed around the same time as Chen Lan tried to help him find it, but they were soon scolded to go back in.
Looking for a ring in the pond was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Chen Lan was patient. After soaking in the cold water for more than an hour, he finally found it.
The warden dhad no more thorns to pick. Seeing Chen Lan’s appearance, he also knew that the other was really weak. So, for once, he was merciful and let him come ashore.
Chen Lan was relieved. However, he was relieved a little too early. After standing in the cold water for so long, his legs had gone numb. He raised his leg to step forward, but it was as if someone was suddenly pulling his ankle in the water. He couldn’t move, and at once, his body fell forwards into the water.
At the beginning of the year, most of the water in the pond had been drained away, and the water level at the deepest parts wouldn’t even reach the chest. The people around him thought that he would be able to get up by himself, so they didn’t take it seriously. Unexpectedly, after waiting for a while, there was still no movement on the water.
“No, don’t tell me his shackles are stuck in the mud,” someone said.
As soon as the warden heard this, he jumped up. He did take bribe money to teach Chen Lan a lesson. But if the prisoner had an accident, he would have to bear responsibility. He shouted, “Hurry up, get him out.”
Chen Lan was almost out of breath when he was dragged ashore. He closed his eyes like those of a dead man. The doctor casually came over and looked at him. His face, however, suddenly changed, and he asked the guard to call the upper brass, saying that he should be sent to the hospital immediately.
With this, things had blown up really big. How long Chen Lan had been in jail and how he almost died. For a while, there was a lot of discussion, and the news spread quickly to Meng Chuan’s acquaintances.
As soon as Li PanEn heard about this, he exploded. Like a lion out of control, he was going to find Chen Lan fiercely. Unfortunately, Chen Lan was now the key care subject, and even Meng Chuan’s people couldn’t get close to him.
Meng Chuan’s head ached as well; Li PanEn was a living beast, and without his tamer Chen Lan here, no one could hold him back. Li PanEn raised his head with a strange calmness, his eyes red.
“What are you going to do?” Meng Chuan was afraid of what he might do and wanted to hold him, but he didn’t.
There was a pick-up truck for delivering wine in Queen’s bar, one which was not used very much. It had been kept in the backyard. Li PanEn took the key of that car and drove out directly despite the obstruction of Meng Chuan.
“Fang Meng, where are your motorcycles? Keep up with him!” Meng Chuan roared.
Li PanEn was going to look for Mr. Green. He had been asking for information on the streets these days and had learned about Mr. Green’s residence. He had planned to negotiate after he got the needed chips, but now he couldn’t wait. If he dragged things out, Chen Lan would die.
Li PanEn directly drove to Mr. Green’s residence and parked the truck in the alley. Both Mr. Green and Zeng JianMin were there. Li PanEn came barging in, and before Zeng JianMin could respond, he got hit on the head.
There was a saying ‘The strong fear the unreasonable ones, but the unreasonable ones fear those who are ready to throw away their lives’. Though he’d been unreasonable all this time, Mr. Green still cherished his life, so he didn’t dare get out from the car, and he called for his subordinates in a hurry. Li PanEn noticed and used a steel stick to smash his phone, “I ask you, were you the one who hurt Chen Lan’s face before?” Li PanEn grabbed Zeng JianMin by the hair.
“I didn’t mean to. Besides, he hit me…” Zeng JianMin wept bitterly and almost knelt down before him.
Li PanEn weighed the steel bar in his hand and said with a sneer, “Which hand did you hit him with?”
An ear-piercing scream split the sky.
Li PanEn was punishing him as a show to Mr. Green, so even his face was green now. Li PanEn smashed the car window and pulled him out with cold eyes. If the two of them fought with bare fists, Mr. Green was still confident he would win, but Li PanEn had a weapon in his hand. After judging the situation, he raised his hands up and surrendered.
“I know about Chen Lan.”
“That, Chen Lan, was Chen ZiXi in those days. I just heard from some of my seniors. I heard that when he was young, he was with the Lu family head.”
Li PanEn’s eyes darkened, “With?”
“No, he worked for the family when he was young. At that time, the boss Lu was just a mere gangster. There were just 20 people in his gang. Chen ZiXi was the strongest one; the two of them made a pact later.”
“Later they set up a gang. Chen Lan was his right hand man. Boss Lu had a younger brother who often played with him. The three of them had a good relationship, but something happened later. Boss Lu’s son was kidnapped by his enemy. Boss Lu wanted to bring his men to fight. Chen Lan disagreed and insisted on waiting for the police to come. Although Chen Lan was like a brother to them, he was totally different in character. He was educated and seemed to have been a university student of B University. His thought process was different.”
Li PanEn suddenly recalled that when he was admitted to B University as a research student, Chen Lan held a stone statue in the park and cried.
“Because of Chen Lan’s obstruction, the gang didn’t suffer any losses, but because boss Lu’s son was tied up for too long, and since the police were a step too late, his son’s legs went limp. On this matter, the three of them began to have a rift. Boss Lu felt that Chen Lan didn’t care about his son’s safety. On the other hand, he felt that being gangsters but letting the police deal with their affairs was a joke. Boss Lu’s resentment towards Chen Lan grew.
“That was the fuse. Boss Lu’s younger brother had a pretty woman. I heard because Chen Lan often played with them, she gradually had some other thoughts about Chen Lan. After boss Lu’s brother knew of it, he got angry. It was a taboo to go with a girl behind his brother’s back, plus Chen Lan still refused to admit. He wanted to find Chen Lan to settle the account. Boss Lu had already lost a son, so he couldn’t let his younger brother suffer any more grievances. They set up something to trap Chen Lan and kick him out of the gang. They didn’t know which part went wrong, but it wasn’t Chen Lan who came in as expected. It was the woman instead, and because his brother didn’t look, he ended up stabbing her to death. Chen Lan came in a step too late.
“It wasn’t a big event for a gang to fight and kill a person, but they didn’t know that the woman killed was an official’s niece. The incident went straight to the top. A wanted order was issued for it. Boss Lu had to send his brother abroad to hide for ten years.”
“It’s not directly related to Chen Lan, but everything started because of him. Boss Lu’s teeth were tingling with hate. He fabricated the evidence and wanted to plant the deed on Chen Lan’s head. Of course, Chen Lan would not just let it go, so he ran away and didn’t go to school.
Chen Lan is an orphan, he had no friends or family. No one ever saw him again until six years ago.”
Li PanEn’s eyebrows raised and was in awe, he had an intuition that an important truth was about to come out.
“Six years ago, someone found him in a city. At that time, a dozen people surrounded Chen Lan. He couldn’t help it, and so he fought with all of them. It seemed that he was stabbed, but Mr. Green’s people couldn’t catch him either. He just disappeared for a few years. Unexpectedly, this time, he hid in city B. This kid is very smart.”
Li PanEn was so heartbroken, only he knew that Chen Lan didn’t come to B City because he was smart. It’s clear that he was in trouble, but Li PanEn just believed him when he said that he got the wound from falling off a bike. No wonder when he asked Chen Lan to come with him to city B, Chen Lan looked so reluctant. No wonder Chen Lan never went to the hospital even when he was ill. City B’s medical service was very connected. He was afraid of being discovered.
Over the years, with Chen Lan by his side, Li PanEn could hardly think what kind of a cautious life he had been living.
“So the killing has nothing to do with him, has it?”
Mr. Green didn’t speak, meaning he couldn’t refute.
Holding the steel tube, Li PanEn sneered.
Anyone who has made a mistake can be forgiven. But those who have not made mistakes can’t be forgiven.
“Who asked you to deliver the newspaper?”
“Hmn… It’s boss Lu’s younger brother…”
“His real name is Lu YunSheng. In order to avoid being caught, he had plastic surgery abroad.”
In this way, he deliberately approached Chen Lan, and everything made sense. Li PanEn asked, “Why did he asked you to deliver the newspaper?”
“He said…your parents should like this gift… ”
Li PanEn stood up and cast a fierce look, “What did you say?”
Mr. Green repeatedly waved his hand, “It’s not what I said, it’s what I heard from him and boss Lu.”
Li PanEn was stunned for a moment. He never thought that his parents would be involved in this matter. He fell out with his family six years ago and went to city B alone to study. He never went back to his home in recent years, and his family had not called him even once. Both sides had an indifferent attitude. He couldn’t figure out why his parents would get mixed up in this muddy water now.
Fang Meng’s scooter came unsteadily and he was surprised to see two people on the ground.
Li PanEn threw the steel pipe to him and walked away without saying a word, leaving Fang Meng shocked and shivering. He immediately made a call to Meng Chuan, “Brother Meng! Xiao Pian’er seems to have taken someone’s arm off! What to do!?”
Li PanEn flew back to city A that night. After six years, he stepped onto this land again. He only felt strangeness. When the guard saw him for the first time, he didn’t recognize him and almost stopped him. The gardener’s eyes were sharp, he began shouting at the villa, “Sir, the young master is back.”
Even tea was ready in the room. It was obvious that Li ChengHuai, Li PanEn’s father, knew he was coming in the morning.
“You are finally back?”
Li PanEn looked at the stack of photos on the table and understood. He got straight to the point, “He didn’t kill anyone. Get him out.”
Li ChengHuai didn’t care about his attitude, “What’s the advantage for me?”
“What do you want?”
“My son has been hanging out with a man for six years without coming home. Now you ask me what I want. Shouldn’t you know better than me?”
Li PanEn unconsciously clenched his fist. “I can’t do it.”
“I can’t force you to choose,” Li ChengHuai sipped tea. “But I advise you to hurry up. I heard that he has a high fever for several days now. Before you make a choice, there might already be no one for me to get out.”
Li PanEn gasped, “Did you threaten him? Why did he confess when he didn’t kill anyone?”
“You should ask the person who took these pictures, or the ones who sent them to me,” after saying that, as if he despised the dirtiness, his father threw the pictures on the table to him.
“I don’t care about these things. He knows who he offended. Don’t try to throw all your problems on your father,” Li ChengHuai disdained.
Li PanEn didn’t go back that night, the moment his mother saw him, she cried nonstop. She refused to let him go, she said that he should stay at home and have some good days after so many years of suffering outside.
Li PanEn couldn’t stop thinking of Chen Lan. His mind was full of what his father said, “High fever for several days.” Li PanEn cried helplessly and said, “Mom, which part of me makes you think I’ve suffered?”
When he said this, he felt bitterness in his mouth, Chen Lan was always the one who suffered. For so many years, Chen Lan was his lover and his strict father. Chen Lan earned money for him to study, he carefully taught him, protected him under his wings, and didn’t let him suffer any injustice.
But the man was seriously ill now, and he couldn’t even see his face. After so many years of hard work, he didn’t even have the ability to protect him from suffering.
His mother stopped crying when she heard this sentence. She saw the change in Li PanEn. After several years of training outside, not only did he grow up physically, he also had a much more mature personality. His spoiled temperament had disappeared completely, he was like a steady and responsible man. Now, Li PanEn was what she had been envisioning a good son would be. Yet, when he really stood in front of her, she could not laugh at all, because it was not her who taught her son to be such a person.
“Is what your father said true?” She dried her tears and asked, “Is it true that you lived with a man?”
Li PanEn nodded and admitted, saying in a low voice, “I love him, and I will only love him this lifetime.”
“A lifetime is so long, how could you be sure?”
Li PanEn just shook his head.
“Your father wants you to marry Mr. Mei’s granddaughter, so as to stabilize his position in politics. He won’t allow you to keep going out with him. Son, if you really don’t want to get married, don’t come back.”
Li PanEn was so surprised that he almost thought he had heard wrong.
“You’re not against me and him?”
“Mom doesn’t understand your father’s methods, but I believe in you. A lifetime is too short, as long as the person is sincere to you, does it matter if the relationship is between men or women? The most important thing is that you are happy.”
For the first time since Chen Lan’s accident, Li PanEn felt a little warmth. After some careful thoughts, his mother’s actions were not surprising at all. Li PanEn’s family had always been the standard strict father, gentle mother structure. Ever since childhood, his father was stubborn and tough, always indifferent to him, preferring to show a tough hand to educate him, while his mother was weak and soft-hearted, she doted on him excessively. They catalyse each other, and thus formed Li PanEn’s bad temper. In addition, his mother was afraid after he had been gone for so many years. When she looked at her son’s eyes, she knew that even if she was his mother, she might not be able to have more say in her son’s affair than that man in her son’s heart now. If that was the case, it was better to let him pursue his love generously.
As a mother, the biggest hope she had, was that her children could be happy. She didn’t know how two men could be together, but she knew how to observe the little details on her son. Over the years, her son didn’t get any new scars or scratches, his hair and clothes were clean. He was even wearing famous brands. He also had a degree in a top university. To treat a person who was not even blood-related with such kindness, his mother had to believe that said person must have held her son dearly in their hearts.
“But he is ill…” Li PanEn hugged his mother and placed his head on her shoulder with his eyes closed. “Mom, I want to save him, I want him to live, even without me. “