Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
When he walked out of Newark Airport, Guan Jin squinted because of the harsh sunlight. The wind brought the familiar smell of maple, with the hint of New York.
“You seem familiar with the area, this isn’t your first time here, right?” Tony switched to using English to talk to him.
“Of course, I’m just as familiar with this place as I am with you,” Guan Jin replied in English.
Tony was stunned. “Why is your accent so similar to Ethan’s? Did you learn English together with him? You really found the wrong teacher, my English is practically accentless.”
“Your Texas accent is overpowering. Also, if you don’t hurry up and start driving, I’m going to hail a taxi by myself.”
Tony drove his flashy red Lotus convertible to their villa in the Upper East Side. As for why it was “theirs”, it was because Guan Jin had received orders to stay secluded in the city, so he had found a villa near Central Park. They had each decorated half of the place, since Tony would often stay in his apartment, refusing to leave. However, most of the time, they didn’t stay here, since Guan Jin usually stayed in his apartment in Queens, and Tony would go to bars late at night and end up wherever he ended up. Only when there was a long gap between missions would Guan Jin return to the villa and live there for a while, and during the day, he would usually wander around the Metropolitan Museum.
The increasingly familiar city came into view, and the car finally stopped in front of a villa with a simple exterior. Only then did Guan Jin realize that he had really come back.
“This is where Ethan used to live, don’t tell me you’ve come here before——” Tony watched as Guan Jin threw down his suitcase and walked straight to the kitchen, coming back soon afterwards with a bottle of iced cola. “So you have come here before. When did Ethan even get together with you? I didn’t even know at all, how rude!”
“Order some food, I’m going to take a shower.” Guan Jin drank the cola as he lugged his suitcase up the stairs. “Order the number 75 sandwich, no onions.”
Tony was dumbfounded, and for an instant, Guan Jin’s back overlapped with that tall, grim man’s. Tony shook his head vigorously; this really was too weird.
After eating, drinking, and sleeping, Guan Jin felt invigorated. Tony seemed to have gone out, so Guan Jin walked around the room and took out a decorated box from a secret drawer. In it was a photograph of a gray-haired old man, thin but spirited, and there was clarity in his gray eyes. Behind him was a dazzling display of artworks and antiques, and there was a Chinese boy about ten years old standing next to him, with an indifference that someone his age shouldn’t have and awkwardness towards the camera. Guan Jin gently rubbed the photograph with his fingers. “Old man, I almost went to be with you, but god doesn’t seem to want to accept me. You didn’t make some deal with him, did you?”
When he imagined that old man bargaining with god, the hint of a smile surfaced on Guan Jin’s face.
At this time, there was some noise downstairs; Tony had returned.
“Hey, did you get a good rest? I won’t be here tomorrow, but I’m free today. It’s only two, do you want to go take a look at Ethan’s grave?” Tony said the last part carefully.
Guan Jin was impassive; there wasn’t much difference if he went or not, since it was just a tombstone. “Let’s go.”
They drove to an old cemetery on the outskirts of New York. The afternoon sky suddenly became gloomy, making the cemetery seem even more solemn and bleak.
Guan Jin sat in the car and looked at Tony, who had already gotten out of the car. “You didn’t bury the two of them together, did you?”
“How could I? There wasn’t any space next to the old man, so I found a good spot for Ethan in the corner.” Tony looked very proud of this.
Guan Jin didn’t look forward to seeing that “good spot” at all.
Guan Jin wasn’t in a hurry to see his own grave, and he went to the old man’s grave instead. He reached out and brushed off a dead leaf from the tombstone, looking at the epitaph engraved on it: This is a free man, and he still is, even in death. He stood there silently for a while before motioning for Tony to leave.
They walked to a short tree in the northeast corner of the cemetery. “Say, do you want me to go away for a bit so you can cry in peace or something?” Tony asked, thinking he was being considerate.
Guan Jin didn’t reply. He felt a little troubled as he looked at his tombstone that only had his name and dates of birth and death. Was he really buried under this? What was he like now? A pile of bones, or maybe a rotting corpse?
Guan Jin suddenly felt like everything was a little surreal. He suddenly walked forwards and pressed on the tombstone. He had never seen what he had looked like after dying, but he reckoned it wasn’t much better than those people he had killed. However, before he saw this, he still seemed to be holding out hope that he would be able to return to his original self one day. No, he had to see it for himself to be fully convinced. He didn’t believe that he was already rotted, sleeping in the cold earth just like this.
“Find a shovel. Two shovels.” Guan Jin clenched his fists.
“What?” Tony didn’t understand.
“Go, quick, anything is fine, as long as it can dig here. Anything is fine!” Guan Jin roared.
Tony was startled. “Dig? You’re crazy! Even if you dig him up, he can’t come back alive! I saw him get buried myself. He’s really dead, Guan.”
“I don’t believe it! How could I be fucking buried in this damned place, there’s not even a fucking bird here! Dammit, dammit!” Guan Jin kicked the tombstone furiously, and had to be dragged backwards by Tony.
“Hey, hey, calm down! People die, and their souls go to see god. It’s only their bodies that are buried here.”
“What do you mean, fucking go to see god. I’m not dead yet, I’m still fucking standing here! Still standing here!”
Guan Jin broke out of Tony’s grasp and turned around, panting heavily. He glared at Tony like a beast with red eyes.
“Wha-what?” Poor Tony felt that he seemed to have heard something strange just now, and he was very confused.
After venting, Guan Jin gradually calmed down. He sat down heavily in front of his tombstone and leaned against it, falling silent.
After a while, Guan Jin said slowly, “Dude, I’m still alive. I didn’t die.”
Tony was dumbfounded, and he looked as if he had seen a ghost.
Outside a cafe in the town where the cemetery is located.
“It sounds like a fairytale.” Tony used iced lemonade to calm himself after the shock. “Are you sure it’s not because you missed him so much you developed multiple personality disorder?”
Guan Jin looked daggers at him. “You’re going to die sooner or later because of that mouth of yours.”
“Hey, don’t curse me.” Tony sighed and looked Guan Jin up and down. “Tsk tsk, with your current appearance, if I’m seen with you, they’ll definitely think I’ve had a change of heart and became obsessed with little boys.”
“This is for the best.” Unexpectedly, Guan Jin didn’t retort anything. “No one will make the connection between me and Hei Xiao. They won’t even be able to dream that I’m living in another body.”
Tony raised an eyebrow. “So you came back with me to start planning revenge.”
“Didn’t you also come back because of this?”
“Sure enough, it’s still you who understands me. Cheers!”
Tony contacted a few people who were loosely connected to organizations, since he wanted to inquire about Spider covertly. Guan Jin could only stay in the villa. He actually really wanted to return to his apartment in Queens to get some things, but going back like this was unwise.
Before he came, Guan Jin had felt that he was living a realistic dream the entire time, or he had been acting in a very long play, and that there would eventually be a day in which he woke up, or the play came to an end. However, the moment he saw his own tombstone, he finally realized that he would never wake up. The traces of his past thirty years had been completely wiped out by a bullet, and from that moment onwards, there was one less Hei Xiao in this world, and one more Guan Jin who didn’t know who he was. No matter how tough he was, this cruel moment of seeing his own grave inevitably made him a little furious and out of control.
When Tony asked him what he planned to do in the future, he had laughed in self-ridicule. The future was too illusory to him, and he was only thinking about the present. He wanted the person who had killed him to pay the price. In other people’s eyes, he was only a puppet that depended on the Organization, but he clearly knew that, to him, the Organization was only a mutually beneficial party, and he had never thought too much of it. He hadn’t wanted to use that hidden power, he only wanted to be alone and undisturbed, but at this point, he couldn’t help himself. In the opponent’s eyes, he was merely a small assassin used to slaughter people, but unfortunately, they had underestimated him. It really was a big mistake to anger the Owl of the Night.