Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Mother Xia’s second surgery was a complete success. Immersed in blissful delight upon knowing his mother would recover soon, Xia Yao was totally unaware of the indecisiveness in the gaze his mother cast on him as she mulled over whether she should speak up to him about it.
Mother Xia had finally moved to a normal ward that day. Xia Yao was sitting on a short stool beside her bed, peeling an apple for her with his head lowered. She turned her head over and stared at her son’s hair whorl. Her mouth opened, yet no words came out.
As though sensing his mother’s gaze, Xia Yao lifted his head and took a glance at his mother. “What is it, mom?” Xia Yao stood up and hurried over to his mother’s side, before adjusting her blanket for her, “Are you feeling pain somewhere?” Mother Xia shook her head silently. After glancing at the thermal cup his mother placed on the side, he picked it up, planning on pouring a cup of water for his mother.
Mother Xia called out to him with a hoarse voice, “Yao Yao.” The hand holding onto the cup came to a stop, as Xia Yao flashed a curious look at his mother. “Sit down; Mommy has something to tell you.” Thus, Xia Yao sat back down onto the short stool obediently. His heartbeat quickened up all of a sudden. A trace of ill premonition hinted to him that he might not like what his mother was about to say next. As expected, after asking him about school, his mother shifted the topic and asked, “Do you… want to study abroad?”
Xia Yao widened his eyes in shock, “Mom, why are you asking that? I’m fine with the current school I’m in.”
A slight hesitation later, Mother Xia continued, “Yao Yao, just go on and study abroad for me, okay?”
With a twinge of sorrow in his eyes, Xia Yao focused his eyes on his mother arduously, “Why…
Mom? Is it… Zhao Wen Hua’s idea? He wants me to go abroad? Or does he want me to acknowledge him as my father?”
Mother Xia’s eyelids fluttered shut slowly, a gathering of gloomy grey clouds seemingly plastered between her eyebrows. “Yao Yao,” Mother Xia’s voice carried a hint of misery and pleading, “Just do it for Mommy, okay?”
Only then did Xia Yao discern there was something suspicious in his mother’s gaze. As if someone had drenched him with a bucket of cold water, his teeth chattered as he spoke, “Did… did Zhao Wen Hua mention something to you? Mom, don’t… don’t believe the nonsense he told you. I… I…”
Mother Xia shifted her head over unhurriedly, her eyes fixed onto her son. Under his mother’s piercing gaze, Xia Yao lost all of his courage to continue spinning his lies. “I don’t want to go, Mom,” Xia Yao lowered his head, as though he had thrown caution to the wind. Mother Xia’s eyes shifted away from him. Colors began fading away from her face, while both of her hands started trembling unconsciously. Noticing not a bit of sound from his mother after a long while, he raised his head in an instant. His eyes met with his mother’s pale white face. A teardrop slid down from the corner of her eyes to the snow-white pillow on the side, forming an irregular, darker stain on it. “Mom,” Xia Yao panicked at once.
“Yao Yao, Mommy isn’t stupid… isn’t stupid.” Mother Xia spoke in a draggy pace with her lips trembling, “I know why you don’t want to go. Yao Yao, why are you so foolish? You’re so foolish.” Mother Xia balled up her hands into fists and threw two fierce punches onto the bed board.
Xia Yao grabbed his mother’s hands immediately, choking up, “Mom, don’t do that, please; don’t do that.” Still, Mother Xia refuse to even glance at her son. Instead, she gazed at the ceiling in a daze, not moving an inch. Xia Yao set his forehead onto the back of his mother’s hands, but she retrieved her hands away from him slowly yet resolutely.
In the next two days, Mother Xia neither spoke nor looked at her son. She used such a determined method to tell him, him taking that path was an absolute no for her; she would never agree to it. Xia Yao carried over a bowl of sticky congee. The dark circles under his eyes were scarily deep, and his face was as white as a sheet. With the bowl in hand, he cautiously stood by his mother’s side and whispered, “Mom, let me feed you.” Mother Xia turned her head away, simply refusing to look at him.
Xia Yao stared at his mother’s back in silence. With her back facing him, Mother Xia neither spoke nor consumed anything. Xia Yao did know how stubborn his mother was in regards to this matter; he had experienced that in his past life, just that he chose Zhou Du without any second thoughts then. He would rather spend his life with Zhou Du in an unfamiliar city than go back to take even a glimpse at his mother. However, he only realized his mistakes the moment he was informed of his mother’s death. Without his mother’s painstaking efforts to raise him, how could he even have the leisure to date Zhou Du?
Xia Yao placed the bowl in his hands onto his mother’s bedside gently and kneeled abruptly. “Mom,” he started hoarsely, “I really, really love him. I want to…” Before he could even finish his sentence, whimpers from his mother seeped into his ears, stopping any words from escaping his mouth. After standing up slowly, he took the bowl he previously set aside again, “The congee has gotten cold; let me change it for you.” Still, his mother remained mute; only soft sounds of weeping could be heard.
Xia Yao turned around just when he reached the door, saying hollowly to his mother, “Mom, don’t cry anymore. I’ll agree to it; I’ll study abroad.” Only then did Mother Xia lift her tear-filled eyes from the pillow to her son. Yet, Xia Yao merely offered her the blurry sight of his back before he shut the door behind him slowly.
Leaning on the snow-white wall outside the room, Xia Yao took a deep breath with his eyes shut. Initially, he thought that, by being careful, he could stay in a secret relationship with Zhou Du. According to what he planned, after he grew up and became independent, he would try convincing his mother gradually. However, he had lost the chance to do so now. It seemed like fate didn’t allow him to be with Zhou Du. No matter, if it was his past life or his current one, being together with Zhou Du was impossible for him.
As Xia Yao had classes in the afternoon, he fed some congee to his mother before packing his books and rushing to school. Zhao Wen Hua had sent a driver specially to fetch Xia Yao, but Xia Yao preferred to squeeze in a bus instead of sitting in that spacious, cozy car. The driver dutifully followed the bus, leaving only when he saw Xia Yao entering the school gates. Zhao Wen Hua probably caught wind of it, as he kept a watchful eye of the time Xia Yao’s class would end in the afternoon and waited outside the school in his car to fetch him. Seeing the face of Zhao Wen Hua’s enraged Xia Yao. He snubbed him and headed straight to the bus stop. Unexpectedly, Zhao Wen Hua trailed behind him persistently. Once Xia Yao reached the bus stop, he stopped his car beside Xia Yao.
It was the weekend, so the bus stop was crowded. Zhao Wen Hua rolled the car window down steadily before speaking to Xia Yao, “Get in.” Gazes from the crowd were fixed on Xia Yao. He curled his hands into fists in rage, wishing to give Zhao Wen Hua a straight punch in the face. Some began pointing fingers at Xia Yao. Due to him being easily embarrassed, he had no choice but to get into the car when he detected Zhao Wen Hua showing no signs of leaving.
Noticing the annoyance displayed on Xia Yao’s face, Zhao Wen Hua crossed his legs leisurely, his fingers tapping rhythmically on his knees, “So you think I forced your mom to send you overseas?” Xia Yao lowered his head, muted. Zhao Wen Hua continued, “Xia Yao, I’m not as despicable as you think. You probably aren’t aware, but your mom had already known about your relationship with Zhou Du long ago.” Xia Yao lifted his head to flash a disbelieving look at him.
Being a sly old fox in the business world, Zhao Wen Hua found tricking Xia Yao to be a piece of cake. “I guess you hate me to your very core,” he shook his head in resignation. “Indeed, I don’t want you to be with that guy, but it seems like your mom hates the notion of you walking down that path even more than me. Your mom was the one who brought up the idea of sending you overseas to me.” The color of his face did not change as he lied, “Actually, studying abroad is a pretty good idea for your major. But still, I hope you can sever your relationship with that guy as soon as possible. I don’t think your mom is as patient as me. You don’t want her to cut all ties with you someday out of anger, do you?” Xia Yao clenched his fist; his unintentional threat pierced directly into the bottom of his heart.
Satisfied with the results, Zhao Wen Hua switched his stance and instructed the driver to head to a location. Next, he turned to Xia Yao, “I noticed that you are getting skinnier recently; I’ll bring you somewhere for a better dinner later at night. No matter how unmindful you are, you still shouldn’t make light of your own body.”
Tiredness wore Xia Yao’s heart down a little suddenly. It was the first time for him to not stay overnight at the hospital that night; instead, he had planned on returning to his dorm. At the moment, he was watching his mother taking her dinner, with Zhao Wen Hua in the room too. Not a single person spoke then. Xia Yao stood up and told his mother, “I have classes tomorrow morning, so I will go back to school tonight.”
Upon hearing that, Zhao Wen Hua raised to his feet as well, “Let me send you back in that case.” Xia Yao glimpsed at his mother. Noticing no response from her, he expressed neither consent nor disagreement as he packed his stuff and walked out of the ward.
Once again, the two of them sat in the car. Zhao Wen Hua didn’t let go any chances to gain Xia Yao’s favor. “I will take care of your mom when you are abroad,” he fished out a key from his pocket and continued, “I have a house in the XX area. Once your mom is discharged from the hospital, both of you can move over there. With your mom’s current condition, she probably shouldn’t carry on opening her stall.”
Xia Yao stared at the key for a lengthy amount of time before finally reaching his hand out to receive it. The corners of Zhao Wen Hua’s lips went up slightly. His tone began to soften, “Rest assured, your mom will no longer be suffering when she’s in B City. Study hard. When you graduated in the future, go back to my…”
“I’ve reached the dorm,” Xia Yao cut Zhao Wen Hua’s sentence off expressionlessly. Zhao Wen Hua retracted what he was about to say. The driver was about to drive into the school when Xia Yao spoke, “Just stop here.”
Zhao Wen Hua didn’t want cause any more friction with Xia Yao out of something as small as that. Thus, he instructed the driver, “Stop here then.” Without even waiting for the car to stop, Xia Yao pushed the door open and left right away. Only after staring at Xia Yao’s back for a long while did Zhao Wen Hua revealed a determined smile. Pleased, he told the driver, “Let’s go back.”
Never would Xia Yao have expected to meet Zhou Du, whom he hadn’t seen for quite a few days, at his school gates. Zhou Du probably came over by bus just then. The moment he noticed Zhou Du, endless grievance began pouring out of his heart. He wished he could simply spill every single thing he kept inside onto Zhou Du. He didn’t want to break up with him or want to go overseas. He liked Zhou Du. From the bottom of his heart, he hoped he could spend the rest of his life with him. However, just as what Zhao Wen Hua stated, if he did so, what awaited him would be yet another cutting of ties with his mother. Xia Yao forced a smile at Zhou Du, oblivious of the frighteningly dark face of Zhou Du. “Why are you here?” Xia Yao asked gently while standing beside Zhou Du.
Zhou Du gave a long, cold stare at Xia Yao before replying, “Can’t I come here?”
Xia Yao froze for a bit, “No, that’s not what I mean.”
“Then what do you mean by that?” Zhou Du shot an overbearing question, “Xia Yao, how long has it been since we last contacted each other? Have you even given me a call once? Or even a message?”
Xia Yao gaped in silence, not knowing what explanation he should give. “Or perhaps it was bad timing on my part to come tonight?” Zhou Du scoffed as he tried his best not to let out any hurtful words, “Or maybe you’ve already found someone who can be with you every day, and so, you no longer need me?”
Xia Yao’s face paled straight away. Only then did he notice Zhou Du had misunderstood him, “I… It’s not like that… I just…”
“Just, what?” Zhou Du took a step forward, demanding an answer, “Tell me, how many times have I seen you getting off that person’s car? Xia Yao, my trust has its limits. What exactly are you doing behind my back?!” the last question was howled out by Zhou Du.
Looking at Zhou Du’s infuriated expression, Xia Yao went in a trance all of a sudden. Why did it end up like that? He only wanted to have a smooth relationship with Zhou Du. Why was that so difficult to accomplish? Initially, he thought that studying abroad wasn’t all that bad. If he explained it clearly to Zhou Du, maybe… Xia Yao let out a sudden laugh in his heart. Maybe, what? What made him think Zhou Du would wait for him? Who was he to leave and return as and when he wanted to? Perhaps it was time to let go. Just like he advised Chubby, falling in love with only one person in an entire lifetime was impossible; he probably wasn’t destined to be with Zhou Du. As long as his mother refused to acknowledge their relationship, he would never be with Zhou Du. If that was so, how long would Zhou Du have to wait? A year? Two years? A decade? Or two decades? Who was he to demand that from Zhou Du? Maybe without him, Zhou Du would lead a normal life. With a gentle wife and adorable children, he would have a normal blissful family like his parents. Xia Yao should be living in a dark corner, and be satisfied with spying on Zhou Du’s life.
Realizing there wasn’t any reply from Xia Yao, Zhou Du gripped his hand even tighter, “Why aren’t you speaking up?”
Xia Yao lifted his head and glimpsed at Zhou Du, answering flatly, “What more do you want me to say? You’ve already answered your own questions for me, haven’t you?” As though dumbfounded, Zhou Du gaped at Xia Yao, having no idea how he should refute. Xia Yao freed himself from Zhou Du’s grip, “Since you don’t believe me, there’s no point in being together. We…” he paused, finding it hard to continue, “we should just end this.”
“What do you mean ‘end this’?” Zhou Du widened his mouth, only to realize his voice was terrifyingly hoarse.
“Let’s just give this up,” Xia Yao took a step back.
“What do you mean by that? ‘Give this up’? You… are you breaking up with me?” those words came trembling out of Zhou Du’s mouth. Xia Yao felt as though a sharp blade had just slashed his heart mercilessly. He stiffened his neck wordlessly. Zhou Du went into a frenzy, the anger on his face vanishing into thin air. He cast an anxious look at Xia Yao and apologize profusely, “That’s… that’s not what I mean. I’m just… a little angry. I miss you too much, Xia Yao. I… I don’t want to break up with you.” In a panic, he fished out an ATM card from his pocket and shoved it into Xia Yao’s hands, “I’ve been working at a few part-time jobs lately. This is all of my salary. I… I came here tonight just to give you this. I will strive to earn as much as I can in the future. Hold onto this card. I’ll be depositing all of my salary on it.” Seeing Xia Yao’s unresponsive face, his words became jumbled, “Didn’t you plan on buying a house with me when we graduate? From now on, I’ll start earning as much as possible. I…”
Xia Yao cut off his sentence abruptly, “How much money is on it?” and raised the ATM card in his hand.
Zhou Du replied with difficulty, “Around $3000.”
“Around $3000?” a smirk grew on Xia Yao’s face as he took out the house key Zhao Wen Hua gave him from his pocket, swaying it, “But I already have a house now.”
Zhou Du’s eyes almost bulged out from his sockets as he stared at the key in Xia Yao’s hand incredulously.
Xia Yao bit down on the tip of his tongue before handing the ATM card back to Zhou Du’s hands, “Zhou Du, I don’t want to live in hardship anymore. Perhaps you can buy a house in B City, but why do I have to keep on waiting for so many years? I can have my own house right now, and live a better life.”
Zhou Du’s shoulders slumped down weakly. He shot a death glare at Xia Yao, his face pale, “I don’t believe it. That’s… that’s not like you.”
Xia Yao’s lips curled up into a smile, “Zhou Du, have you ever wondered why, out of all our classmates, all our schoolmates, I ended up falling for you? And happened to place my diary at your desk? Is there anyone else in school who is richer than you?” Xia Yao continued slowly, “You have never tried to understand what kind of person I am. Which part of me do you like? The one who is poor, or the one who looks pitiful? You never know what I truly want. Now that we’re talking, I’ll make this clear for you; I, Xia Yao, am indeed a materialistic person who likes to bask in riches and pleasures in life, get it now?”
Zhou Du took a step back and looked at Xia Yao, refusing to believe his ears. At the moment, a faint iron taste could be detected in Xia Yao’s mouth. He heaved a long sigh before turning around and heading to his school. He thought that it was probably over between him and Zhou Du. However, never had he expected the person behind him to clutch his arm forcefully. “Yao Yao,” all traces of color had left Zhou Du’s face, but he still pulled a smile up, “don’t… don’t belittle yourself like that.” He took a deep breath before continuing, “If you want a house that much, I can… I can buy a house in B City for you right now.”
Xia Yao cruelly jerked his arm away from Zhou Du’s grasp, “Zhou Du, I don’t want to be with a baby who always relies on his parents. You’re just too childish; we aren’t compatible.”
Zhou Du was deeply provoked by those words. He knew he behaved too recklessly since he was young, and that his emotional quotient wasn’t really high, thus he was quite immature. He understood that, due to his family background, he never had to worry about his life in the future. However, after dating Xia Yao, he had been trying to change himself. Xia Yao didn’t like him to get jealous over every little thing, so he changed. Xia Yao felt that he was clueless about pain and difficulties people normally endured, hence he was willing to go all out and earn money with Xia Yao. Xia Yao thought he wasn’t mature enough, so he tried to convince himself to trust Xia Yao and give him space. Nonetheless, after all the changes he made, Xia Yao was still unaware of his efforts; he still abandoned him in the end. What did I do all that for? Zhou Du gazed at the person in front of him, at a loss.
“Let’s break up. You don’t look great like that. Don’t make things difficult for me, okay?” Xia Yao’s tone was still as gentle as ever. He slowly yet resolutely pulled his arm away from Zhou Du again.
Zhou Du stared at Xia Yao blankly for a long time, as though Xia Yao’s words had just reached his brain. “I won’t agree to this; I don’t want to break up with you,” he shook his head while taking a step back.
Xia Yao found it increasingly challenging to breathe, “Zhou Du, you look really ugly when you’re persistent.” Zhou Du glared at Xia Yao with his bloodshot eyes, but Xia Yao continued adding fuel to the fire, “If you just won’t give up, I can let you meet that person next time. You will probably realize the difference between him and you after that. But I suggest you not to do so because you’ll just be bringing humiliation to yourself.”
“Shut up,” Zhou Du growled.
“Look at the state you are in now. What? Do you think I will change my mind if you persist? Zhou Du, we aren’t children anymore.”
Zhou Du lifted his head at once, shooting a death stare at Xia Yao, “I don’t like you anymore.” He repeated while stepping back in hesitation, “I don’t like you anymore.”
Xia Yao jabbed his fingernails into his palms. By the time he could no longer hear Zhou Du’s voice from the buzzing in his ears, the only thing he noticed was that Zhou Du had shut his mouth and was three meters away from him.
“I hate you.”
Xia Yao saw Zhou Du opening his lips hesitantly to say this, before dashing away without a glance back. Xia Yao’s eyes were painfully dry, but strangely, there wasn’t even a tear in them. Zhou Du, don’t hate me. He supported himself by holding onto the school gates, his lips trembling. Don’t hate me.