Translated by Ying from Exiled Rebels
By the time he’d finished dinner, Zhou Du was pretty wasted. He checked the time and, discovering that it was getting late, decided that he wanted to go home. He got up, standing with a crooked body and swaying slightly.
Wang Hao hurried to his side, stretching out an arm to support Zhou Du at his waist before walking him to the sofa and laying him down.
“Like I said, since you’re drunk, just stay the night since Zhang Yang has a guest room anyway.”
Zhou Du shook his head to reject Wang Hao’s good intentions.
“I’ve got a foolish dog at home who’s waiting for me to go back.”
Wang Hao spoke without mincing his words. “Zhou Du, isn’t this enough? Is this really necessary? Since the guy dumped you, who the hell’s around to appreciate your infatuation?”
After hearing what Wang Hao had to say, Zhou Du could only look at him with perplexed eyes. Zhang Yang, who was nearby, pulled Wang Hao to his side before pouring Zhou Du a glass of water.
Zhou Du murmured his thanks and accepted the glass. He quietly took a sip.
Wang Hao, as though wishing for iron to magically turn into steel*, continued to lecture Zhou Du. “I just don’t understand. What is it about Xia Yao that makes him worth you making a fuss like this? He might even have found someone else by now, while you’re still acting like a complete idiot…”
Wang Hao hadn’t even finished before Zhou Du cut him off. “He came back.”
“What?” Wang Hao suddenly blanked out.
Zhou Du lifted his head and looked straight into Wang Hao’s eyes. Enunciating the syllables slowly and clearly. “Xia Yao came back.”
In an instant, the three inhabitants of the house went quiet.
Wang Hao sat himself next to Zhou Du and inquired discreetly. “What does that mean? Have you two made up?”
Zhou Du shook his head.
“Then what do you want to, since the guy’s back, just tell him to his face that you can’t get over him.”
Zhou Du massaged his head, put the glass back on the table, and only replied with a statement, “I’ve had a good time in b city.” Before he walked out.
Wang Hao was about to make a move to pull Zhou Du back but Zhang Yang stopped with a hand on his shoulder and a shake of the head then he called out from behind Zhou Du, “You’re drunk, let me get a ride for you.”
It was good that Zhou Du didn’t get completely wasted, the next morning landed on a Sunday, and his body clock woke him up at seven o’clock sharp.
After washing up, he took his dog out for a walk and picked up his breakfast on the way.
When he arrived back at home once again, he turned on his phone to check his messages only to end up wasting half a day staring at Xia Yao’s number.
He clicked on Zhou Tong’s profile picture and sent a message. [Has Xia Yao finished filling in the information?]
For once Zhou Tong managed to get a rare sleep-in on a Sunday morning, only to get up and check her phone at about half past ten to find that her boss had sent a question that was still sitting there, waiting to be answered. She hurriedly sent him a reply, attaching the digital copy of Xia Yao’s information.
Zhou Du was on his computer at the time, sorting out some work, after seeing Zhou Tong’s email, he froze up for a moment before moving his mouse over the email and tapping it lightly.
Zhou Tong had sent it in a pdf format, Zhou Du had to wait quite a while before the file started to load.
Xia Yao’s handsome face loaded bit by bit in front of Zhou Du’s eyes.
Zhou Du had his share of staring at Xia Yao’s photo before slowly scrolling down.
Once he got to the part that read marital status, he held his breath in anticipation.
Marital status: Unwed
Zhou Du let out his breath heavily, his heart felt as though it had been filled to the brim with something. He himself didn’t know why he felt so happy and continued to scroll downwards, arriving at the family members section.
Name: Xia Yangyang // Relationship: Father and Son
Zhou Du felt a bit faint. Xia Yao had a child.
He gripped his mouse tightly, staring without any expression at his photo of Xia Yao.
After a good while, he slowly let out a breath he hadn’t realised he had been holding.
Very well, Xia Yao, so this is how ruthless you are.
Since Wang Hao found out that Xia Yao had returned, he had watched Zhou Du act like his only opportunity to love in his whole life was lost everyday so he hatched a plan.
He painstakingly dug up Xia Yao’s contact information, then using the fact that he had returned to the country, he invited some of his old senior high classmates that were in b city; stating that he wanted to have a class reunion.
He said this on the class’s group chat; Wang Hao had always had very good relationships within the class, plus the fact that his family circumstances were quite special so even the classmates who worked in neighbouring suburbs told Wang Hao to put the get-together on a Sunday and agreed to rush over as well.
Wang Hao was afraid that Xia Yao would decline his invitation, but, to his surprise, Xia Yao agreed to come.
Xia Yao knew that Zhou Du would probably also be there, but he didn’t want to miss a chance like this one. Xia Yao found himself to be shameless, he had obviously told himself to avoid the man but as soon as another opportunity for them to meet was presented, he couldn’t keep to his word.
He missed Zhou Du, after their parting that day, he had dreamt about the other for nights on end. So even if he could only glance at the other male once from afar Xia Yao would feel completely satisfied.
However, Xia Yao was disappointed to find, on the day of the reunion that Zhou Du hadn’t turned up.
At this time, there were about fifteen old classmates present, all cramped into one ktv room. Apparently, this was the best way for them to re-experience their get-togethers back in the day.
Xia Yao sat to the side, a solitary figure. He had always been considered to be quiet within the class so after exchanging greetings, the others had all moved on to find their desired conversational partners.
The females sat bunched together while they discussed some high-class boss along with any house dramas concerning their husbands and mother in-law’s. The males sat together and talked about their work and any headlines and politics.
Xia Yao couldn’t find a shred of interest for either of these things, instead, he sat and stared holes into the door leading into the karaoke room.
He knew that Wang Hao would certainly have contacted Zhou Du so if he didn’t come, it would most likely be because…
Zhou Du didn’t want to see him.
Thinking of that made Xia Yao feel as though someone had reached into his chest, ripped his heart out and proceeded to stomp on it. He hung his head, his eyelashes resting on his tear-bags, his lips devoid of colour.
Then a cheer suddenly erupted from the crowd, Xia Yao’s head shot upwards just in time to see Zhou Du walk in.
Xia Yao clenched his fists before standing up only to see a beautiful woman following Zhou Du into the room.
“Superior Zhou, you came late. As punishment, how about you down three!” Someone yelled.
Zhou Du didn’t want to have to explain to them that he was late because of a dinner meeting for business, so he clapped his hands together and bowed towards the crowd. “How about you let me go this time? You know I’m not good with alcohol and I drove here today.”
Someone emerged from the crowd and said to Zhou Du. “That doesn’t work, where’s your sincerity? It’s one thing for you to bring a beautiful partner with you, but it’s another if you plan on leaving without downing at least one glass of alcohol!”
Zhou Tong, being mistaken for Zhou Du’s girlfriend, opened her mouth to explain herself but Zhou Du used his eyes to stop her in her tracks.
Most of the ex-classmates were just typical office workers, Zhou Du didn’t know how they would react upon finding that he had brought his secretary along with him to their reunion.
In addition to that, Zhou Du had just drank quite a bit at the dinner meeting earlier so he wasn’t able to drive and Zhou Tong had become responsible for transport.
Wang Hao hadn’t told Zhou in advance that he had invited Xia Yao, Zhou Du was planning just to step in and show his face before finding a chance to slip away so he had taken Zhou Tong with him.
But then he saw Xia Yao standing at the back of the crowd, dumbly staring at him.
Zhou Tong had seen more than enough of these scenarios and out of habit, went to take the alcohol being forced on her boss for herself. However, Zhou Du took the beer offered to him and spoke softly to Zhou Tong. “These guys aren’t about to let me go, if we both drink, who’s supposed to drive?”
“Waah~” Wolf whistles echoed throughout the room, someone called out. “Hey Superior Zhou, what are you trying to do here, being all affectionate in front of us single Pringles? Let us live, won’t you.”
“Yeah, that’s right.” Was the response from the rest of the people.
Zhou Du smiled after hearing that and still didn’t bother explaining himself, choosing instead to knock his head back and down the drink in one go.
He had already drank no small amount previously in his dinner meeting so the moment the alcohol arrived at his stomach, a storm began to brew in the organ. He had to concentrate all his energy on keeping it in check before he could ensure that the bile welling up within him wasn’t going to make an appearance.
Xia Yao had collapsed onto the couch and now sat there with a face in all the wrong shades of pale along with a head full of nothing but ringing.
So he… Had a girlfriend.
Xia Yao clenched a cushion near him with all his might and it was now that Wang Hao walked out and playfully hit the back of Zhou Du’s back. It wasn’t until he had gotten his fill of hitting the other man that he noticed Zhou Tong standing behind Zhou Du. His eyes widened to the size of dinner plates.
Zhou Du felt terrible, but he didn’t seem to want to leave, in this darkened, tiny room, his gaze was locked on none other but Xia Yao. The other, however, kept his head down, just like he had on that day – unwilling to even send Zhou Du a glance.
Wang Hao purposefully hooked an arm around Zhou Du’s shoulder and led him to the doorway, speaking close to the other’s ear in a tone full of frustration. “Why the heck didn’t you tell me you had a girlfriend?”
Zhou Du sent him a lost glance. “What girlfriend? If you’re referring to Zhou Tong, she’s my secretary.”
“Why did you bring a secretary to a reunion?”
Zhou Du tore Wang Hao’s arm away from himself. “It’ll take more than a couple of sentences to explain. Also, why didn’t you tell me in advance that Xia Yao was going to be here?”
“Why would I tell you? Go talk to him yourself.” Wang Hao threw this line at Zhou Du before going back into the room.
Zhou Du followed the other man in and leisurely threw in a word here and there while making his way to Xia Yao’s side then sitting down beside him.
Zhou Du’s sudden proximity with him sent Xia Yao into a frenzy, instinctively, he was about to up and leave. Then he felt quite ashamed for thinking and feeling that way. Zhou Du had made it clear to him that he had moved on. He even had a girlfriend.
But Xia Yao just couldn’t bring himself to loosen his hold on the unspeakable feelings they had once held for each other. Xia Yao had never despised himself so very much. He could only think of how he was unfit to harbor feelings for Zhou Du.
Zhou Du sat beside Xia Yao, racking his brain to figure out how to start a conversation when Xia Yao suddenly got up and left, threading his way through the crowd and pulling open the door to the room.
He rushed to the bathroom, staring at his reflection in the mirror while his nails dug into the palm of his hand.
I shouldn’t have come. He thought. I have to leave right away.
But he hadn’t even taken a step out of the bathroom when Zhou Du pushed the door open from the outside. Xia Yao’s footsteps stopped for a moment before changing direction and slowly backing away.
Zhou Du just stood there, blocking the door and staring at Xia Yao’s face.
Xia Yao immediately lowered his head and tried to make a run for it but Zhou Du acted as a human barrier, showing neither any intention of moving aside or coming in.
Xia Yao continued to clench his hands, and requested in a shaky voice. “Excuse me.”
Zhou Du suddenly lifted the corners of his lips and laughed coldly, moving a step closer to Xia Yao.
“Excuse me?” He lifted an eyebrow. “What, is it because we haven’t seen each other for so long that you don’t even remember my name anymore?”
Xia Yao’s mouth was trembling badly, he couldn’t figure out what Zhou Du was trying to do, all he could understand was his overwhelming desire to leave the place. He felt like a clown today, having harboured those dark little thoughts in the back of his mind while Zhou Du had brought his girlfriend along – ripping his fantasies into shreds.
Zhou Du noticed that Xia Yao had chosen to remain silent so he stepped forward yet again; Xia Yao stepped backwards on instinct.
“You should have said: Zhou Du, would you please excuse me?” Zhou Du stared holes into Xia Yao face as he paused between each word. “Are you not even willing to say my name now? En? Isn’t that overkill, Xia Yao, all we did was break up. It’s not as though we’re archenemies.”
Xia Yao continues to back away until his back hit the edge of the sink, Zhou Du stood directly in front of him. Xia Yao opened his mouth with a face that looked as pale as death. “Zhou, Zhou Du, would you please excuse me?”
After Zhou Du heard Xia Yao say this, he continued to look at his face for quite some time before tilting his body to the side slightly.
Xia Yao let out a breath and made a beeline towards freedom but as he was passing Zhou Du, the man suddenly grabbed his arm.
Zhou Du pressed himself up against Xia Yao, speaking in a drawl. “I heard you were still single, what, were you planning on waiting for me to chase after you again?” After he finished saying this, he pinned his eyes to Xia Yao’s expression as though his life depended on it.
It was too bad that all Xia Yao offered was a lifeless, parchment-like palette and trembling lips opened to express a denial that could not be choked out, despite his best efforts. The phone in his pocket suddenly rang – his saviour descending from the heavens in the form of a call.
The moment Xia Yao heard his phone start ringing, he frantically pulled it out of his pocket.
“Daddy.” A baby-like voice replied through the phone.
Xia Yao’s features immediately softened.
“What is it, Yangyang? Why haven’t you slept yet?”
“I wanna hear stories! I don’t want grandma to read them, I want daddy!”
Xia Yao replied with an affectionate ‘en’. “Then you finish your milk first, daddy will be back in just a second.”
By now, Zhou Du had already let go if Xia Yao’s arm for a while, watching Xia Yao’s features, he didn’t know whether he should be feeling anger or envy.
Wishing for iron to magically turn into steel – proverb (probably) meaning to set high expectations for something/someone and expect results in an instant, which is impossible.