Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Xia Yao only came back to his senses a long while after Zhou Du had left.
He headed back home with the document. Ever since that injury from a few years back, Mother Xia’s constitution had remained poor. Before Xia Yao went overseas, he accepted the house from Zhao WenHua. Thus, Mother Xia moved from H City to B City. Except for coming home during Christmas every year, he had only moved back during the holidays this year after graduation. He received an invitation from his former university teacher when he came back, and currently, he was working as an assistant teacher at the same university he studied at some years ago. His goal was to become a teacher in W Uni, so he applied for a doctorate in his university.
While working as an assistant teacher, he took translation jobs on the side. It was something he gained quite some experience in while abroad, which was also the reason why he was the first one in his senior’s mind when he was looking for someone to take over his job. However, never would Xia Yao expect the first project he got the moment he came back would be from Zhou Du. He thought Zhou Du had already left B City and moved back to H City, since his family business was located there.
The salary Xia Yao received as an assistant teacher wasn’t really high, so he usually relied on translation to earn a few bucks. He believed there was probably no chance for Zhou Du and himself to meet for the rest of their lives, but by a cruel twist of fate, the two of them ended up coming across each other in such a way. Xia Yao took out the documents from the folder and sat in front of his computer. He wanted to finish the project as fast as possible and hand it back to Zhou Du’s company before disappearing from Zhou Du’s life once and for all.
As for Zhou Du, he cooled himself down at the car park for a long while after exiting the coffee shop. Once he entered his car, he threw a few violent punches to his steering wheel. Rubbing his temples, he leaned back onto the driver seat and shut his eyes; his mind was flooded with Xia Yao. Zhou Du felt himself to be utterly contemptible. Those proud, bold words he just spat to Xia Yao was just him wishfully trying to incite a reaction from Xia Yao. He was hoping Xia Yao would talk a bit more with him, hoping Xia Yao would take another glance at him, hoping Xia Yao would stand up and argue with him while pointing his finger at him. With that, there would be a rightful reason for him to reminisce their past with Xia Yao. However, that guy kept his head down the entire time, treating him like he was invisible. Xia Yao didn’t even give him a chance, letting him put on an awkward one-man show. Zhou Du had no idea if he was a ‘good horse,’ but after all those years, the only ‘pasture’ he had grazed on was Xia Yao.1
Once Zhou Du returned to his company, he called his secretary into his office to conduct a friendly meeting with her. It was unprecedented for secretary Zhou to be treated with such hospitality by her boss; hair started raising on the back of her neck. Seeing Zhou Du offering a considerably gentle smile to her for the very first time, Zhou Tong hugged the file in front of her chest tightly right away, “Chairman Zhou, I will not stand for any sexual harrassment.”
Zhou Du deadpanned. He coughed awkwardly, “What are you thinking about? Sit down; I’ve something to tell you.”
Only after getting assurance from her boss did Zhou Tong heave a sigh of relief and sat at the corner of the sofa. “That translator Li’s junior…” before Zhou Du could continue, Zhou Tong cut in at once, “What is it, boss? Do you think he performed poorly during the interview? If that is the case, let me find you another translator.”
Zhou Du waved his hand at her, “No, I’m quite satisfied with him. We will be working with him in the future.”
“A long-term partnership?”
“What about translator Li?”
“Oh, I will introduce other companies to him.”
All of a sudden, Zhou Tong smiled, revealing a set of white teeth, “It seems like boss does find translator Xia Yao satisfactory.”
Hearing Xia Yao’s name coming from his secretary made Zhou Du freeze up for a while. When he came back to reality, he nodded guiltily, “Oh right, do you have his particulars?”
“Yes,” Zhou Tong fished out the particulars Xia Yao sent her from the files she kept close to her chest. In reality, it was just a form filled in during the interview, and it only contained general information such as his name, age, education and other information along those lines.
Zhou Du stared at the form for some time before knitting his brows as he asked Zhou Tong, “Is there any more detailed information?”
“More detailed information?”
Zhou Du clenched his fist and placed them at the corner of his lips, as though to hide them. He coughed lightly, “For example, his family situation, relationship status, etcetera.”
Zhou Tong flashed a puzzled look at her boss, “But the company doesn’t seem to require such information…” As Zhou Du lifted his eyes and glanced at Zhou Tong, she changed her tune in a hurry, “However, having a clearer understanding of our employees’ detailed information will make communication and management easier for us in the future. I got it, Chairman Zhou, I will do up a new form right away.”
“Hold on,” Zhou Du stopped her, “Erm… Don’t tell him it was my idea. Just tell him it was HR’s decision. Not everyone has to fill in their particulars again. Just tell that… to translator Li’s junior. Tell him that our company wants to sign a contract with him, so he needs to fill in a new detailed form, got it?”
Upon hearing what Zhou Du said, Zhou Tong frowned at first, before giving Zhou Du a long once-over, as though she caught up onto the situation.
Guilt grew in Zhou Du’s heart as Zhou Tong stared at him. He wore a poker face on purpose and told her, “What’s there to look at? Hurry back to work.”
Zhou Tong rolled her eyes internally. With a light thud of the door, she retreated from Zhou Du’s office.
Zhou Du waited until the office had quietened down; when he was the only one left, he pulled out his cellphone. He searched for Xia Yao’s number that Zhou Tong sent him and saved it. When he had to enter the name of the new contact, his fingers pause momentarily before typing two words in slowly—old pasture.1
Once Zhou Du returned home at night; he had his dinner with his dog before bringing his golden retriever out for a walk. Zhou Du’s golden retriever didn’t have a name; the children in the neighborhood were especially fond of him, so the leader of the kids gave the golden retriever the nickname ‘Meow Meow’. His silly dog had no clue it was a nickname for cats. Thus, every time he heard the children calling ‘Meow Meow’, he foolishly dashed over to play with them.
Initially, Zhou Du didn’t understand why they call his dog ‘Meow Meow’. He only figured it out after one of the children’s parents told him that their family once raised a Persian cat which had long fur. Hence, the kids couldn’t tell the difference between his dog and a cat and assumed the golden retriever was just a larger cat.
Noticing his silly son was playing with those children, Zhou Du walked to one side to call Wang Hao. Since his golden retriever was docile and was rather familiar with the kids, he wasn’t worried that his dog would injure them. The next day just so happened to be a weekend; Zhou Du wanted to invite them out for a meal. The call was only picked up after quite a number of rings. The person from the other end of the call gave Zhou Du a hoarse ‘Hello’. Zhou Du froze at once, pulling away his handphone to confirm the number he dialed was indeed Wang Hao’s. “Zhang Yang?” he probed.
The guy on the other end of the call hummed calmly in agreement.
Zhou Du didn’t find it strange either, asking casually, “Where’s Wang Hao?”
Zhang Yang seemingly chuckled softly before returning to his usual tone to answer Zhou Du, “He can’t really take the call now; what is it?”
Under the impression that Wang Hao wasn’t around, Zhou Du told Zhang Yang, “All right. Are you guys free tomorrow? Let’s go out for dinner.”
“Sure,” Zhang Yang agreed without any slightest hesitation. Zhou Du was about to tell him the location when Zhang Yang unexpectedly cut him off, “I’ve something going on now. I’ll get back to you tomorrow morning.”
With a ‘Mn’, Zhou Du was going to hang up the phone. Things certainly seemed busy on the other side of the call; the handphone was probably thrown to one side offhandedly since Zhang Yang had even forgotten to end the call. Zhou Du ended up faintly hearing Zhang Yang talking to someone else in a gentle tone, “Be good; bite on the pillow, not your arm.”
Zhou Du froze at once. Only then did he realize what Zhang Yang meant by ‘having something going on’. The tips of his ears blushed at once as he cussed out softly and hung up the call in a rush. When Zhou Du went back to his golden retriever, he felt an inevitable gloom in his heart as he watched his silly dog chasing the kids playfully. Why could that couple spend their night enjoying indecent activities, while he could only look dazedly at his silly dog?
At around 10 the next morning, Zhang Yang called Zhou Du back. “Let’s not go to a restaurant for dinner tonight, come to our house instead,” Zhang Yang told Zhou Du. Zhou Du pondered for a bit. He felt the suggestion of meeting up at Zhang Yang’s house was fine, but yet again, he had to silently accept the PDA Zhang Yang let slip when he mentioned ‘our house’.
At night time, Zhou Du prepared dinner for his silly dog before driving towards Zhang Yang’s house. Wang Hao moved back not too long ago, and thus he was currently living with Zhang Yang.
Once Zhou Du reached Zhang Yang’s doorsteps, he rang the doorbell. Wang Hao was inside, chewing on an apple. As soon as he heard the bell, he rushed over to open the door for Zhou Du. As Zhou Du looked at the outfit Wang Hao was wearing, a slightly oversized sleeveless top and shorts that obviously didn’t belong to him, he felt a huge amount of PDAs being shoved into his face again. He passed the fruits he bought over to Wang Hao’s hands and lowered his head to change his shoes.
Detecting noises outside, Zhang Yang poked his head out with a spatula in hand and an apron around his waist. He instructed Wang Hao, “Get the wine out from the study room and fetch the blue slippers for Zhou Du.”
Wang Hao answered with an ‘Ok’. He kept the apple in his mouth as he bent down to find some slippers from the shoe case for Zhou Du. Only as Zhou Du looked on at his former best childhood friend and buddy did he realize he had been cut off from them, now treated as a mere guest.
Zhang Yang probably planned the time well. Not long after Zhou Du arrival, Zhang Yang had begun serving up the dishes.
Wang Hao rested on the table, trying to eat on the sly. Zhang Yang reached out his hands and pulled Wang Hao closer by his waist before whispering into his ear, “Hey, don’t I feed you enough?” There was absolutely no hidden meaning behind Zhang Yang’s sentence, but Wang Hao obviously had his thoughts twisted after engaging in the indecent activities last night. With a blush, he cursed a ‘fuck’ out before escaping to the kitchen in a hurry. Wang Hao’s frantic look brought an unconscious smirk on Zhang Yang’s face. As Zhou Du watched on the two’s PDA, he felt an urge to just leave. I might not be able to finish the dinner, he thought.
Only when every dish was on the table did Zhou Du understand the reason why Zhang Yang wanted him to come over for dinner instead. All of the dishes were mildly flavored. Most people from H City, such as Zhou Du and the guys, had a higher tolerance for spicy food; if they went to the restaurant he booked tonight, they would definitely order dishes that had a similar taste like the ones in their hometown, since Wang Hao loved those types of dishes.
Unsurprisingly, when Wang Hao noticed the bland dishes in front of him, his expression turned miserable at once. He complained to Zhang Yang, “You can’t expect me to eat this!”
Zhang Yang glanced at him and answered slowly, “It is better for you to eat lightly flavored food in these few days.” Zhou Du lowered his head and sipped on his soup silently, acting as though he didn’t hear that.
1 ‘Good horse’ and ‘pasture’: Zhou Du is referring to a Chinese proverb: a good horse will never return to graze on an old pasture, which meant one(good horse) should not go back to one’s past mistakes(old pasture). Zhou Du meant that even after all those years, the only person he ever fell for was Xia Yao.