Yan Han hadn’t been to the company for a week.
All paperwork had been handed over to his assistant. No matter how urgent the matter was, business was only discussed through a video call.
During the video calls, Yan Han’s appearance scared everyone.
He had a bristly, unshaven facial hair and huge dark eyebags beneath his eyes. He resembled a poverty-stricken man. He had been looking like this for the past few days.
Inside Yan Han’s study…
The assistant wiped away the sweat on his forehead as he trembled in fear. It wasn’t because he couldn’t find him, but rather if the other person wasn’t seeking death, then they had indeed left too silently without a trace. He couldn’t even find the person through his ID.
“What did you say?” Yan Han coldly glanced at his assistant.
The assistant’s voice trembled slightly, “I-I didn’t find him.”
With a smack, the papers of information on Yan Han’s desk was ruthlessly striked onto the assistant, “Why are you here if you haven’t found him yet!?”
The assistant’s back was covered in cold sweat and he didn’t dare speak.
“Go find him! ID and bank card! He’ll definitely leave a trace if he’s used it! Search through them one by one!”
“E-everything’s been searched. We found… nothing.”
The atmosphere in the room suddenly became extremely oppressive. The assistant couldn’t really lift his head up from the pressure.
The assistant felt a bit wronged and then mustered up courage to carefully ask, “Why don’t we… go search at the police station…?”
Before he could even finish speaking, he felt Yan han’s dagger-like glare and hurriedly zipped his mouth shut.
The assistant thought he would get hit with another file, but the smash never came.
It wasn’t after a long while that he heard President Yan say, “Let’s wait a bit longer. Wait a bit longer.”
Yan Han’s expression was indiscernible as his head was hung extremely low.
Yan Had had a dream that night.
In his dream, his hair had already turned completely white as he sat on the edge of a cliff.
He sat there for a long time, from the sky being dyed in the colours of the desert to the rivers exuding a shade as dark as black ink. There was someone next to him the entire time.
He didn’t dare turn his head around to have a look because he was scared that the figure wouldn’t be the individual he wished to see. He didn’t have the courage to speak for he was scared that he would make the other person unhappy as soon as he did so.
He stiffly sat there. He merely sat there.
In the end, morning arrived.
The person beside him said, “It’s morning.”
Before he had time to process how familiar the voice sounded, and before he had time to rejoice, the person beside him had already leaped into the gap between the cliffs.
In an instant, the expanse mountain creeks turned into a bustling city, and every person present was wearing a deformed and strange mask.
They ominously laughed at him.
Fear numbed his brain. He travelled back and forth through the crowds in a disorderly manner in search for the back of a familiar figure.
He loudly shouted out familiar words …
It turned out that you were the only one in the world. You were the only one I could trust.
Wen Qing met Wen Bai at a teahouse located in a local tourist site.
The other was wearing a suit and discussing matters with someone else. Before he could think of where to hide, his eyes met Wen Bai’s gaze.
Wen Bai’s pupils dilated and he hurriedly stood up, causing the chair to scrape against the floor with an ear piercing sound.
Wen Qing awkwardly laughed.
The person opposite Wen Bai sensed something was up and found an excuse to leave.
Wen Bai dragged Wen Qing into a private room, “Come inside and let’s have a good talk.”
“Didn’t you say you weren’t going to leave?”
Wen Qing knew he was the one at fault and silently drank his tea with his head buried low.
“I thought you were dead.”
Wen Qing lifted the corners of his lips, “How could that be.”
Wen Bai nodded his head, “Yeah, it seems like you’re living a pretty good life too.” His eyes reflected faint hints of anger.
Wen Qing smiled.
Due to an eruption of anger, Wen Bai didn’t talk and silently sized up Wen Qing.
He seemed to have gotten skinnier, on top of the fact that he was originally bony to hold too. Wen Bai felt his heart ache for this person before him who didn’t love him.
“If I didn’t come here to discuss business, would that mean I wouldn’t see you for the rest of my life?”
Wen Qing laughed, “How could that be.”
“Why didn’t you contact me?”
Wen Qing chuckled with a heartless expression, “I was too busy recently so I forgot to.”
“Too busy trying to hide from us?”
Wen Qing had constantly been beaming this entire time, but gradually, the corners of his lips could no longer form a smile as his eyes grew red.
“I didn’t want to either.” His voice increasingly sounded like he was choking on sobs.
Some feelings could not be contained once they were exposed to other people. He talked endlessly like a teary old married woman who couldn’t stop once she started narrating old stories from the past.
“I didn’t want to either. But Wen Bai, I’m too tired. I’m really just too tired.”
“Say, I’ve been with him for twelve years. Twelve whole years. So how much do you think I’m actually willing to leave? How could I possibly want to part ways? I’ve thought about death but I’ve never thought about leaving. However, if I continue to live like that then I really won’t be able to survive much longer. What do I have left if I leave? My life in my fucking dreams is already ruined so what do you think I still fucking have! If I don’t leave then I’ll truly end up with fucking nothing, do you understand?! I just want to fucking live. I don’t want happiness and all of that other nonsense. I don’t want any of it.”
Wen Qing sobbed and sniffled with a tear stricken face.
Wen Bai’s heart was in so much agony that his throat felt parched. He held Wen Qing tightly like loners who were seeking warmth from each other in the harsh Winter.
“You still have me. You still have me!”
“I don’t. I don’t.” Wen Qing pressed against Wen Bai’s chest and shook his head, “I have nothing. I want to fucking live by myself. To live! I just want to live.”
“I really don’t want to see you guys anymore. Back then, I had decided to leave and go somewhere far far away by myself. Yan Han then told me that he would settle down with me and stop seeking others. I waited more than ten years for those very words. I thought to myself that this would be the last chance. This would be the final exception. But from the bottom of my heart I disliked it. I hated it so much it felt agonising. Every time I looked at him, my heart would feel sharp pangs of pain.”
“In the end, he still fucking found someone else. He can’t do it, there’s no hope. There’s no hope even if I give him my whole life. Okay, the chance is gone now, I can finally get the hell out. I just want to go somewhere far away by myself. Why would I dare to harbour extravagant hopes for stuff like feelings and love again? You say you like me, you say that I still have you. Yan Han said that at the beginning too. Now look at what I’ve got. How could I possibly have twelve more years to waste with you?”
“You ask me why I’m hiding. What can I fucking do if I don’t? I know Yan Han all too well. Yes, we have broken up, but he can’t stand watching you live a good life, you know? He’ll feel unaccustomed to it after time passes by. He’ll feel out of place but he will never consider my wishes. He always thinks that I should be fanatically in love with him, like a dog who endures him without a shred of honour or self dignity. What else can I do other than hide? What can I fucking do!?” Towards the end, Wen Qing’s voice was close to that of a roar.
It was like he had finally let out the feelings that had been bottled up inside him for twelve years. Wen Bai held Wen Qing and felt his body constantly tremble.
And so he heard himself say:
“Okay. You have to live a good life by yourself. If there’s any trouble, remember to find me.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “I’ll deal with Yan Han accordingly.”
No matter how unwilling my heart is. No matter how much I love you. Perhaps letting go is the greatest happiness I can give you.
Wen Bai went to find Yan Han as soon as he came back.
Yan Han was holding a file in his hand as he displayed an impatient attitude towards Wen Bai. It seemed like he had urgent business to do. However, when he heard Wen Bai mention the two words, Wen Qing, his figure paused for a moment before he forced himself to patiently sit in front of Wen Bai.
Wen Bai lit a cigarette and also passed one to Yan Han.
The two of them remained silent, enshrouded in smoke. It was rare for there not to be a tense, opposing air between the two.
Wen Bai squinted his eyes as he eyed the cigarette box.
“I’ve only seen him smoke one brand of cigarettes: Marlboro.”
“Men always remember love because of romance only.”
Yan Han took a drag on the cigar and silently waited for Wen Bai to continue.
“Let’s all stop searching for him.”
Yan Han raised a brow, “He told you that?”
Wen Bai nodded, “Wen Qing once said that me and you are similar.”
Yan Han tapped off some ash, “Probably.”
“I don’t want to trouble him anymore. Perhaps solitude is the best for him.” Wen Bai looked Yan Han in the eye.
Yan Han didn’t reply as he squinted his eyes.
Wen Bai continued to say, “Oh. It’s not that I don’t want to, but rather it’s because I’m afraid to.”
“I’m afraid that on this earth, there is no longer a person named Wen Qing.”
The flame reached the tip of the cigarette.
It burnt the tip of Yan Han’s fingers yet he continued to pinch it tightly, unwilling to let go.
It seemed like a long time passed before Yan Han finally pinched the cigarette out in the ashtray and nodded his head.
He replied, “Okay.”
After Wen Bai left, Yan Han continued to sit there.
There was a blister on the tip of his finger where he had been burnt which had an inciting burning sensation.
Perhaps there would never be a second person who would stay up all night and look after him when he had a fever or cold. Nor would there be a person who would warmly give him a light pat on the back and bring him a cup of tea to relieve his internal heat when he was feeling irritated over work. No one would dare to smoosh cream all over his face on his birthday and still burst into laughter. There wouldn’t be another person who would smile and unfurrow his brows whilst mocking him for being an old man when he knitted his brows in anger.
The person who did all of that had already left him.
Yan Han squinted his eyes. He felt as though he almost saw the person who held his hand tightly that night and accompanied him out of the hotel together where they then walked along the Yangtze River bridge, making their way further and further off into the distance.
The grey sky morphed into one with the surface of the river.
Yan Han took a deep breath in.
It seemed like he smelt the saltiness of the river wind that was still intertwined with hints of a familiar scent of tobacco.
He closed his eyes.
It almost felt like he had returned to the past. If only everything could start again from the beginning.