Chapter 37: Zuo Chao
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
After Li Sui hung the phone up, he immediately began booking a flight home. SiMa JingRong saw the change in Li Sui’s mood, so he went over to see what he was doing, “What happened? You’re going back now?”
“Hmn. It’s an urgent matter.” Li Sui said as he checked on his phone, he wasn’t in luck, the usual flights were either full or cancelled.
“You don’t have to book a flight. If you take my family jet, you can get home right now.” After saying that, SiMa JingRong called for the waiter to pay the tab.
“Are your matters over here done already?” Li Sui asked.
“What matters? I’m only here to have fun.” SiMa JingRong hurried him, “You’re in a hurry, right? That matters more.”
Fortunately, most of the things Li Sui needed to do here were done—all that’s left were small matters which didn’t really require Li Sui’s supervision. Li Sui asked a few trustworthy workers in the hotel to pack up his things for him while he rushed to the fishing village to get the turtle bait Lu Shang asked for.
When Li Sui returned to the house, the sky was still bright, and he was home earlier by at least three hours. No-one was in the house; Lu Shang must have gone out. Li Sui returned without much notice, so Aunt Lu wasn’t notified, and naturally she wouldn’t be here so early. Li Sui pulled his luggage up, then phoned the people in the bamboo dojo to get a better grasp of the situation. After he had a basic understanding of everything, he knew that this wasn’t a problem that could be dealt with anytime soon, so he went to the kitchen to prepare dinner.
Right after Li Sui finished preparing the bean sprouts, the door moved, and Lu Shang walked inside. Li Sui had a big smile on his face as he turned around to look at Lu Shang, but before he said anything, Lu Shang spoke, “Aunt Lu. Make some sweet soup, Li Sui is coming back tonight.”
Li Sui stared at Lu Shang changing his shoes, he asked in confusion, “Lu Shang?”
The person at the doorway was obviously fazed by the other’s voice, and he raised his head to look at Li Sui, then smiled and said, “You’re back.”
Li Sui was about to say something, but then he saw a purple bruise on Lu Shang’s head, and his expression changed immediately, “What’s wrong with your head? Did you get hit by something?”
“It’s fine. I just bumped into something.”
Li Sui walked over, holding Lu Shang’s face up for a careful inspection of the bruise, then he said with worry, “If you got hit a little further down, then it might have hurt your eye. Does it hurt? Did you apply medicine on it yet?”
“No, it’s just a small wound.” Lu Shang didn’t put much thought into it; he picked up his glasses from the drawer, then asked, “You’re so early today, have you finished everything already?”
“More or less. Today, I came back with JingRong.” Li Sui went for the first-aid kit in search for cotton swabs and medicine, “Uncle Yuen told me about the problem with brother Zuo, so I came back to help you.”
“That’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about.” Lu Shang took his blazer off, he sat down on the sofa and said, “I have already sent people to look after him at the holding center. However, getting him out on bail might not be easy, that would definitely take a while.”
“Did he fight them?” Li Sui squatted down in front of Lu Shang, then picked up some of the medicine using a cotton swab, carefully applying it onto Lu Shang’s forehead, “Hold still.”
Lu Shang closed his eyes and let Li Sui apply the medicine on him, “No, he didn’t, but one of his men did. That person even had weapons, the police found it on him. Zuo Chao was their leader, so he would be held accountable either way.”
“So, it could be said that he did fight, there’s no getting out of that.”
“Yes. What we have to be clear about is that he really did something wrong. We don’t have to think of ways to cover that up, what we need to focus on right now is how to get him…”
Lu Shang opened his eyes to see Li Sui staring at him with heavy eyes, so he asked, “What’s wrong?”
Li Sui said, “Give me a hug.”
Lu Shang laughed, he opened his arms, and the second he did that, Li Sui jumped him, hugging Lu Shang tightly. Li Sui’s chin was rubbing on Lu Shang’s neck, his eyes smiling happily, “I’ve missed you a lot.”
“How are you getting more childish the older you get?” Lu Shang smiled as he patted the back of Li Sui’s head.
“Don’t care.” Li Sui tightened the hug then said, “This minute is mine, even big brother Zuo has to stand aside.”
Somewhere in the holding center, Zuo Chao sneezed in the dark, cursing, “Damn, this place is cold!”
After some time, the sound of a lock turning came from the door, then the door opened. Someone obviously walked in, then froze, then that person closed the door and went back out.
That was when the two finally let go of the hug, they stared at each other in a second of confusion, then both laughed.
“Ask Aunt Lu to come in, it’s cold out there.” Lu Shang hurried Li Sui.
Neither of them ate much for dinner. During the meal, Li Sui reported what he did in HaiNan briefly, and what he got was a simple compliment from Lu Shang, “Quite good, you’re no doubt my student.”
“So this time, let me deal with this.” Li Sui said.
Lu Shang thought for a while, then said, “You can’t do it alone. Tomorrow, I’ll ask Xe WeiLan to tell you the details about the situation, you should discuss with him. There’s actually one more problem—Zuo Chao has a car factory which buys stolen cars off and revitalizes them, then sells them again. Now that Zuo Chao is in the holding center, the illegal parts of this factory will become a problem, so we need to deal with that as well.”
Li Sui nodded his head seriously.
At night, both of them had a lot on their minds. Lu Shang and Li Sui took a simple bath together. Li Sui noticed that Lu Shang was tired during their bath, so he massaged the spot on Lu Shang where he read was beneficial to the heart. After that, they fell asleep on the bed embracing each other.
The next morning, Li Sui went out very early. When he was studying abroad, he did study a little about law; though it might be different from the mainland, this knowledge was still applicable in some cases. After discussing with Xe WeiLan, they decided to start with the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
As for the holding center, they didn’t even think about going there. Since the head of the holding center was one of Liu XinTian’s uncles, so they knew that going would be useless. Luckily, a warden there was indebted to the Lu family, so he guaranteed that Zuo Chao won’t be mistreated there.
Xe WeiLan basically broke his legs running around in the past days, he asked everyone he knew for favors. Perhaps because both Liu XinTian and Lu Shang were involved, most people didn’t want to be a part of this, because no matter which side they’d offend, it would be bad for them. Among the people Xe WeiLan found, they either hid from him by taking the day off or pretended to be useless. In short, they all had the same stance, remained neutral and did things by the law.
Doing things by the law sounded good and all, but in fact, that was against in Zuo Chao. After all, he really did illegal deeds, so how serious would his sentence become? They did not have a say in that.
“A decision has arrived about the congressional hearing, it will be held next week at the earliest. This week, we need to go meet with everyone who will be a part of the congressional hearing committee,” Xe WeiLan said; he hadn’t slept for days, so his eyes were swelling.
Li Sui sighed; it had been three weeks already, but there was zero progression on the case. “If this incident happened in the Lu family’s turf, then he’d definitely be out already.”
“Yeah, it’s basically just fighting on the streets. The one who got injured just has a little scratch, he’s still staying in the hospital just to put the heat on Zuo Chao. I’ve never seen someone so thick-faced.” Xe WeiLan shook his head, then asked, “Oh, what did you do with the car factory?”
“I shut it down for renovation.”
Li Sui turned his head back, then asked, “What?”
“You shut his factory down?” Xe WeiLan asked in disbelief.
Li Sui frowned, “The factory was illegal to begin with; if it keeps on running, then it’d become bashing material for the prosecutors. Moreover, I’ve visited the factory, and the employees there aren’t good people, either. Brother Zuo just got arrested and they were already thinking about ways to profit from his absence. Besides, their leader is gone, what if they go out and pick a fight again, then it would be even harder for us to get Zuo Chao out.”
Xe WeiLan slowly realized that Li Sui and Lu Shang seemed to do things in similar ways, but in fact they were very different from each other. Lu Shang was gentler, he’d give people warnings first, then use force afterwards. Li Sui was still young, so he didn’t hide his sharpness, he valued the results more than the process, also, he didn’t mind pissing people off.
“Okay then, if you say so.” Xe WeiLan said as he didn’t feel right questioning him.
It went smoothly at the congressional hearing, reaching the conclusion that the defense posed no threat to society and could be released. Li Sui was really happy, and the second he got home, he reported it to Lu Shang, “A decision has been reached at the congressional hearing (i); the Ministry of Public Security (ii) will have to release him in ten days. We can prepare to get brother Zuo back.”
(i) The Supreme People’s Procuratorate is in charge of the congressional hearing.
(ii) The Ministry of Public Security controls the holding centre.
After hearing what Li Sui said, Lu Shang didn’t look as calm as usual, instead he looked worried. The People’s Procuratorate was in charge of supervising the Ministry of Public Security, and they had bypassed the Ministry of Public Security to force it into submission; that was basically slapping the Ministry of Public Security in the face. They were against Liu XinTian, and Lu Shang doubted it would be this easy.
Being forceful might show quick results, but there was also another idiom—when one is too forceful, breaking is inevitable.
Then again, this was nothing more than Lu Shang’s speculations, so he raised his head and smiled, “That’s good.”
Reality proved Lu Shang’s speculations correct.
Ten days had passed since then; Li Sui even arranged a car to get Zuo Chao. Suddenly, he got a call from Xe WeiLan, he sounded furious, “What the hell is happening here? Public security just said they are relinquishing their control on the case, so now they are throwing back the case to the People’s Procuratorate. They couldn’t have said it earlier, they had to inform us about this on the last day.”
“So what should we do now?” Li Sui’s voice deepened.
“Now, we prepare the supporting documents again, and we apply for bail, then wait for the sentence…” Xe WeiLan sighed, “This means that all of the work we’ve done before had just gone down the gutter. I have no idea when we can get him out with how things are now.”
Li Sui felt his heart freeze.
Li Sui wanted to visit Zuo Chao, but except for lawyers, no one was allowed to visit him at the moment. Li Sui had heard from Xe WeiLan about Zuo Chao’s living conditions in the holding center. The weather was so cold recently, yet they could only use cold water to take a shower—and to shower was compulsory; the food there was also plain and bland. Just the sound of it was horrifying enough; moreover, Zuo Chao had been the boss for a long time already, this treatment was definitely not something he was used to.
Besides, this whole incident had a lot to do with Li Sui. If it weren’t for Li Sui’s rash actions, Lu Shang would have never given the port trading area to Liu XinTian, and Zuo Chao would never fall into Liu XinTian’s trap.
Although Zuo Chao was a mobster, he had a strong sense of justice and he was very loyal. Zuo Chao had served the Lu family for years, and he was also very nice to Li Sui. When Li Sui’s thoughts trailed to this point, he felt even more anxious.
After consecutive days of running around, searching for connections and favors, Li Sui was tired, but he didn’t even have the time to have dinner at home. When Li Sui got out of the car, he saw the round moon hanging in the sky, and that was when he realized it had been two months since Zuo Chao was arrested. If Lu Shang were the one dealing with this, the three of them might already be having tea together right now.
“Are you moon-gazing?” A lovely voice reached Li Sui’s ears.
Li Sui turned his head around to see Lu Shang standing at the door, smiling at him.
“Why are you standing at the door, aren’t you cold?” Li Sui walked over and gently touched Lu Shang’s arm; as he thought, Lu Shang’s skin was freezing.
“Just curious about what you’re staring at.” Lu Shang said as he massaged the corners of Li Sui’s eyes a little, “You have huge eye bags.”
Li Sui pulled Lu Shang into his arms, placing his head near Lu Shang’s, “Lu Shang, I feel so useless, I can’t even protect one of your people.”
“This was destined to happen, it’s not your fault, don’t punish yourself for the mistakes of others.” Lu Shang added in a caring voice, “Moreover, he was a little too reckless in recent days. Being arrested is a warning to him, and that’s not a bad thing—better than him growing more reckless and making a worse mistake in the future.”
Lu Shang’s words were very on point; Li Sui’s mood which had been covered in black smog for a month was suddenly cleared—much like the sky with the bright, round moon hanging on it. Li Sui laughed, “Why are you so good with words?”
“I’m not good with words.” Lu Shang pulled Li Sui’s hand to his own mouth, landing a soft kiss on the back of Li Sui’s hand, “I just know what you’re thinking.”
Li Sui stared straight into Lu Shang’s eyes, then said, “Then guess what I’m thinking right now.”
Lu Shang couldn’t hold his laughter back, “Indescribable.”
There were new developments on the next Monday, Xe WeiLan brought news with him in the morning. Zuo Chao caught acute pneumonia in the holding center, so Xe WeiLan applied for medical parole for him. Due to the seriousness of the disease, the holding center was afraid of being held responsible if anything happened to him, so they quickly allowed it. Zuo Chao was promptly transferred to a hospital in the city for treatment.
“Is it serious?” Li Sui asked.
Xe WeiLan made a secretive look, then whispered, “Whether it’s serious or not isn’t important, what’s important is the hospital says that it’s serious.”
Li Sui immediately got what he was trying to insinuate, “Oh, someone…”
“Shhhh—” Xe WeiLan then said, “This is a great chance, as long as we got him out, everything will be easier to deal with.”
After Zuo Chao was admitted to the hospital, the tides were turned. The hospital refused to let Zuo Chao go on the basis that the illness was severe and contagious. People from the holding center went to the hospital everyday to get him back, but the hospital refused again and again. Neither side was compromising, and the situation escalated. Finally, the higher-ups were fed up with all the conflicts and stepped in—No one was to be allowed to interfere anymore, and everything was to be done according to normal procedures.
After around ten days, Zuo Chao was finally released. Li Sui brought some people with him to pick Zuo Chao up; despite his mood swings in the past two months, Li Sui was somehow feeling very calm when he went to pick Zuo Chao up.
“Let’s go back to the bamboo dojo, your wife must be worried sick,” Xe WeiLan said after he finished the paperwork for Zuo Chao’s release.
In just two months, Zuo Chao had lost at least 20 kg in Li Sui’s eyes, even his face looked skinnier. Luckily, Zuo Chao seemed to be in high spirits, he waved his hand and said, “Nah. She will only cry, I don’t want to deal with that yet. Bring me to the car factory, I will meet with my brothers there first.”
The second Zuo Chao mentioned that, both Li Sui and Xe WeiLan fell into silence.
Li Sui immediately felt like he had done something wrong, “… I’ve shut the factory down.”
Hearing that, Zuo Chao turned his head to stare at Li Sui, his gaze made Li Sui feel guilty. Zuo Chao just mumbled “Hmn” and then stopped talking.
Li Sui brought Zuo Chao to the bamboo dojo, he felt nervous and he wanted to explain why he did that to Zuo Chao, so he waited outside for a while. However, seeing him finally reunited with his wife, Li Sui didn’t feel right interrupting them, so he returned home melancholically.
Li Sui finally solved the problem at hand after months, but he wasn’t feeling any better than before. Over the past days, Li Sui had phoned Zuo Chao numerous times, but Zuo Chao didn’t pick up.
At the beginning, Li Sui thought Zuo Chao was just busy, so he didn’t pick up the phone, after all he just got out. However, he accidentally overheard a phone call Xe WeiLan had and he realized, Zuo Chao wasn’t not picking up because he was busy, Zuo Chao was specifically not picking up Li Sui’s calls. Knowing that Zuo Chao was intentionally avoiding him made Li Sui feel more depressed.
Li Sui really didn’t handle the problem well, but he still did it hoping that Zuo Chao could be released. Admittedly, it was quite heartbreaking—seeing the factory employees all gone and the front gate trashed by opposing gangsters, especially since the factory was still fine when Zuo Chao was arrested. To put it bluntly, Li Sui wasn’t sensitive enough. He thought everything was simple like his relationship with Lu Shang, he thought that it would be fine as long as his actions were for a just reason. Li Sui thought he was good at dealing with relationships, but when it came to those close to him, he seemed to tumble a lot.
After getting the cold shoulder from Zuo Chao for days, Li Sui finally felt as though he was going to collapse. At night, when he returned home, he saw the fireplace giving out warm orange glow, it was a huge contrast from the cold air outside where Li Sui was standing. The warm and cozy atmosphere inside made Li Sui feel even more glum.
“You’re back? I caught a turtle this afternoon, will you go shop for a tank with me this weekend? I want to keep it in the house.” Lu Shang stood beside the small pond in the living room, playing with a turtle inside. He didn’t get any reply from Li Sui, so he turned around to look at him, only to see him all gloomy and exhausted. Lu Shang’s expression shifted a little, and he asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I’m just a little tired.” Li Sui walked up to Lu Shang and hugged him; he didn’t say a thing after that, just quietly placed his head on Lu Shang’s shoulder, even Li Sui’s ears seemed to be drooping down.
Lu Shang knew that Li Sui was depressed about something, so he relaxed his shoulders and reached his hands out, hugging Li Sui back. Lu Shang patted his back a little with the intention to comfort him, then he smiled as he said, “Did something bad happen?”
Li Sui didn’t answer, he just hugged Lu Shang, hoping to just stay like this for as long as possible. After staying like that for a while, Li Sui just sighed, and closing his eyes, he said, “Lu Shang, why are human relationships so difficult…”
Lu Shang did not ask him further on what had happened, nor did he refute. He let Li Sui hug him as much as he wanted, then rubbed Li Sui’s head gently, “Are you fed up with it?”
Li Sui was much taller than Lu Shang, so Lu Shang had to raise his arms to reach Li Sui’s head, but Li Sui was really cooperative, and he willingly nestled his head on Lu Shang’s palms.
Lu Shang’s hands were tickled by Li Sui’s hair, he laughed as he said, “Close your eyes, I will give you some energy.”
Li Sui obediently moved back a little and closed his eyes.
Lu Shang turned the lights off, leaving the living room with only lights from the fireplace, their shadows were cast onto the living room walls. Lu Shang gently moved closer to Li Sui, arching his neck slightly to kiss him. Lu Shang slid his tongue inside Li Sui’s mouth, tenderly attaching to Li Sui’s own.
Li Sui was moved by the kiss, his eyelashes batted a bit, then he returned Lu Shang’s kiss with the same softness.
The wood crackled, echoing in the house; it sounded peaceful. The two of them were enjoying the kiss so much that they were basically inseparable, their breaths mingled with each other’s, neither of them wanted to cut the kiss off, especially with how nice the atmosphere was. Lu Shang’s legs were a little sore after standing for too long, so he clung onto Li Sui’s shoulders. Feeling the other’s weight, Li Sui circled his arms around Lu Shang’s waist, leading him to the sofa. After a light “thud”, Li Sui stared down at the person beneath him, his eyes like two deep wells.
Lu Shang looked up at Li Sui, also showing off his lovely, slim neck with the action; it was unclear if it was intentional or not. Then, he smiled as he raised his hand up, sliding a finger down Li Sui’s abdomen, almost as if he was hinting at something. That immediately got Li Sui fired up, he decided to just forget about all his problems and focus on what was in front of him.
In the corner of the living room, the little turtle seemed to be startled, and it shyly hid back into its shell.
T/N: Apparently, they have a small pond in the house… I want to be rich too.