The conversation between Shen Ji and Shen Dehan ended in an unhappy disagreement.
Shen Ji could not accept the presence of Chu Qianqian, but Shen Dehan insisted on keeping Chu Qianqian by his side. Shen Ji finally left the hospital with a cold face.
Throughout the whole process, Shen Xi leaned quietly in the hallway and listened to the argument inside the ward, with an expression on his face that the others could not understand.
The thing that just happened had happened countless times in the Shen family in the past, except that the protagonist had always been Shen Xi, while Shen Ji was always one of the uninvolved spectators. This time the roles were reversed, and Shen Xi coldly watched Shen Ji’s anger and the disappointment in his eyes. An indescribable feeling of pleasure welled up in Shen Xi’s heart.
What made Shen Xi even more excited was his father’s expression. In his memory, when his father quarrelled with him, there had never been any expression other than disgust on his face, but what did Shen Xi see just now? There was a look of anger and disappointment mixed with a hint of unacknowledged pain on his father’s face. Shen Xi was almost fascinated as he recalled his father’s look over and over again. The huge void that had been gaping in his heart since his rebirth was finally filled!
Satisfied, Shen Xi stepped into the elevator and took one last look at the ward where his father was, smiling faintly.
The curtain had been raised, and he hoped that the next actor to take to the stage would not let him down.
Zhongjing at night was always lively and extravagant, with countless bars and clubs dotted around, attracting waves of men and women in beautiful clothes to shuttle among them.
Inside a nondescript bar, Shen Ji was sitting expressionlessly at the bar counter, repeating the words “one more drink” over and over again under the sound of the loud background music.
The barman tonight was a young man who had been working in this bar for three years and was known as Xiao Wu.
In the past three years, Xiao Wu had seen many men like Shen Ji, men who wanted to drink to drown their sorrows. He was not at all bothered by Shen Ji’s behaviour but just filled up his empty glass again and again as soon as Shen Ji shouted “one more”.
Shen Ji didn’t know how much he had drunk, but after once again emptying his glass, he pushed it to Xiao Wu and gestured with his eyes to fill it up.
Xiao Wu obediently took the glass, and soon the crystal liquid filled it, glowing brilliantly under the bar lights. In a daze, Shen Ji watched the glass being filled, then suddenly raised his head to look at Xiao Wu, “What do you think it is like to really love someone?”
After hearing this question, Xiao Wu gave Shen Ji a pitying look, lamenting in his heart that there was another fool trapped by love.
Xiao Wu reckoned that Shen Ji was already drunk and probably didn’t even know what he was talking about, so he didn’t bother to pay any attention to him. But Shen Ji stared at him stubbornly and repeated his question once again.
Xiao Wu felt helpless, thought for a while and said, “True love is when the person is unique in your eyes and there is no one else like them.”
Shen Ji didn’t seem to hear Xiao Wu’s answer, continuing as if he was talking to himself, “When the person you love dies, will you keep looking for a substitute?”
This question was much more interesting to Xiao Wu than the last one. Xiao Wu’s gossip-loving heart flared up and he took the initiative to offer his insight, “I’d say, buddy, you’re wrong about this. It’s not right to find a substitute after the death of a loved one. She’s unique in your eyes, can you still find a substitute to replace her? That means it’s not true love at all!”
“Not true love?” Shen Ji repeated dumbly
Xiao Wu looked disgusted, “Yes, it’s so simple, can’t you understand it? Let’s think about it in another way. For example, you are dead. I mean, for example, your lover is with someone who looks like you under the banner of missing you. Will you feel bad about that? You’re supposed to be unique, how can you just be replaced?”
When Shen Ji heard Xiao Wu’s words, he slowly turned his eyes to look at Xiao Wu, and his face was filled with a desperate pain.
Xiao Wu was shocked by Shen Ji’s expression, “I’d say, buddy, are you alright?”
The word “right” ended in a loud crunching sound.
Xiao Wu subconsciously looked in the direction of the sound, only to see several men sitting in a booth not far from the bar counter and a bottle of wine broken into pieces on the floor. One of the men was gripping the waiter’s arm, sneering and saying something.
“Fuck me, Fang Luowei!”
Xiao Wu let out a startled cry. No longer caring about the bar, he jumped out and rushed over, “What’s going on?”
Under the stares from all sides, Fang Luowei pulled his arm in embarrassment, “Guest, please let go.”
The man holding Fang Luowei’s arm sneered, “Let go? What about the fact that you’ve soaked my brother’s clothes?”
Fang Luowei gave the “brother” the man mentioned a disgusted look, turned his head and whispered, “I apologise, I will pay for all your consumption tonight.”
The man didn’t relent, “You think I’m short of this money?”
Fang Luowei endured the discomfort and looked at the man, “What do you want to say, guest?”
The man laughed arrogantly, “It’s simple, my brother has a crush on you, so if you have a drink with my brother and let my brother have a good time, we can forget about this.”
Fang Luowei frowned, “Guest, this is a bar, I am a waiter, not an escort.”
Xiao Wu heard this and finally understood the situation. He knew that it was probably Fang Luowei’s face that caused the trouble again, so he smiled and stepped in front of the man, “Big brother, you see, we are a regular business place, there is no escort service. Why don’t I have a few drinks with you?”
The man pushed Xiao Wu away, “Who do you think you are?”
Xiao Wu gave Fang Luowei a worried glance and was about to continue, when an unexpected figure had passed by him and blocked Fang Luowei.
“Let go of him.” Shen Ji said coldly.
The man gave Shen Ji a sidelong glance, “And who are you?”
Shen Ji’s anger that had been pent up all day burst out at this moment. Stimulated by alcohol, Shen Ji’s mind was too hot to think about anything, so he directly picked up a bottle of wine on the table and smashed it down on the man’s head.
The red liquid smelling of alcohol flowed down from the man’s head, and the whole bar froze as if a pause button had been pressed.
The next moment, everyone came to life. Some stood at a distance to watch the fun, others left the bar in a hurry, and the man’s “brothers”, after an initial daze, instantly stood up and pounced on Shen Ji.
Xiao Wu stared dumbfounded at the few people in the melee in front of him, unable to understand how things had developed to this point.
In the chaos, someone gave Xiao Wu a punch and Xiao Wu immediately lunged into the melee in anger.
“Beat him to death, boy!”
“Call the police, call the police.”
“Watch out, guest!”
Chaotic voices rang around and the whole bar was in a mess.
When Li Mingxuan received Shen Ji’s call, he listened to it twice before he understood what had happened. Shen Ji had actually gotten into a fight with some customers at the bar and was now being taken to the police station.
After hanging up the phone, Li Mingxuan first asked someone to help him contact the head of the police station and was relieved to hear that Shen Ji could be released after giving a statement on this matter. After rushing to the police station, Li Mingxuan saw Shen Ji sitting alone by the flower bed. At this moment, Shen Ji did not look like a young master of the Shen family. His clothes were torn and tattered, and half of his face was black and blue. Li Mingxuan walked over in amusement, “You’re a grown-up, ah, almost thirty years old, and still tossed to the police station.”
Shen Ji was in a strange state of mental excitement, stimulated by both alcohol and violence, and his mind was in confusion because of Xiao Wu’s previous words, so he couldn’t be bothered to refute Li Mingxuan’s remark.
Li Mingxuan refused to let Shen Ji off, smiling and teasing, “I heard that you also came to the rescue of a beauty like a hero. So, where is the beauty? Let me take a look.”
Shen Ji thought of the young man who had been pulled into the melee. He tried to smile, but the wound at the corner of his mouth was so painful that he could only gesture in the direction of the police station, “He’s still inside making a statement.”
Li Mingxuan walked up to Shen Ji and gently kicked him, “Let’s go, I’ll take you back.”
Shen Ji shook his head, “Wait for Fang Luowei.”
Li Mingxuan gave Shen Ji a surprised look and was about to say something when soft footsteps came from behind him.
“Mr. Shen, thank you for helping me today.”
Shen Ji stood up propping himself against the flower bed. Li Mingxuan turned to follow his gaze and was somewhat startled when he saw the man in front of him.
Fang Luowei was originally facing Shen Ji, but when he saw the person next to Shen Ji turn around, he subconsciously showed a smiling face, followed by a surprised look, “Huh, it’s you.”
Li Mingxuan nodded. He also didn’t expect the Fang Luowei that Shen Ji was talking about would be the waiter from the bar that day. He had sent the drunk Shen Xi back to the hotel that day and did not take the incident to heart afterwards, but he did not expect that the world was so small and he would meet up with Fang Luowei again.
Li Mingxuan thought that Fang Luowei would not know Shen Xi’s name, but Fang Luowei quickly smiled, “That guest last time was called Shen Xi, right? After you sent him back, I heard your companions guess as to what happened to him.”
The one to be shocked by the words “Shen Xi” was not Li Mingxuan but Shen Ji, who looked at Li Mingxuan with a look of disbelief, “Do you have private dealings with Shen Xi?”
Li Mingxuan frowned, ready to explain the whole story, but Shen Ji was already laughing coldly, “So the reporters weren’t just talking nonsense. Is the Li family planning to make two bets on me and Shen Xi separately?”
Li Mingxuan’s face turned ugly at these words and he said in a deep voice, “Ah Ji, do you know what you are saying?”
Shen Ji took a step back and continued to sneer, “Of course I know, no wonder I never found out who was behind the scene the last time you and Shen Xi took a flight back to China. You dare to say that everything was really just an accident? If it wasn’t for the reports of you coming back together that pissed father off and landed him in hospital, how would he have met that woman?” The more Shen Ji spoke, the higher his voice rose, and by the end he was simply shouting hysterically.
Li Mingxuan never expected to hear such heartbreaking words from Shen Ji’s mouth. He grew up with Shen Ji; apart from being related by blood, Shen Ji was not only his best friend, but also his brother for life.
And this was the brother he had known for nearly thirty years standing here questioning his actions. Li Mingxuan looked at Shen Ji’s face distorted with anger, let out a deep sigh and stepped forward, “Ah Ji, you’re drunk and don’t know what you’re talking about, let me take you home to rest.”
Shen Ji shook his head at Li Mingxuan and walked towards the opposite side of the road without looking back, quickly stopping a passing taxi.
Li Mingxuan watched the taxi go away, a faint disappointment welling up in his heart. He could understand Shen Ji’s feelings at this moment, but he could not forgive him for doubting his attitude in the first place.
Shen Ji and Li Mingxuan’s argument occurred in front of Fang Luowei’s eyes, and he gave Li Mingxuan an awkward look. Although he did not know what had happened between Shen Xi and those two, if he had not mentioned the name Shen Xi, Shen Ji would not have suddenly exploded. He could tell that Shen Ji was drunk-talking, but drunken words also could hurt.
Li Mingxuan turned around, and Fang Luowei stepped forward, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know he had a conflict with Shen Xi.”
Li Mingxuan shook his head, “It has nothing to do with you, it’s just that he is in a bad mood.”
Fang Luowei still felt very sorry, but Li Mingxuan changed the subject, “Where are you going?”
“Back to the bar to do something.”
Li Mingxuan glanced at the empty street and thought for a moment, “I’ll take you back, it’s not easy to stop a taxi now.”
Fang Luowei wanted to refuse, but once he thought that he had just received a call from his boss that he had been fired and needed to go back and settle his wages as soon as possible, he could only agree with a bitter smile.
The trip was uneventful. Almost as soon as he saw the shadow of the bar, Fang Luowei hurriedly pushed open the car door, thanked Li Mingxuan and ran all the way to the back door of the bar.
At that moment, Shen Xi, who had just been looking for Fang Luowei in the bar to no avail, was standing in front of the bar in disappointment, wondering where Fang Luowei might have gone. He didn’t expect that what he had seen that day was not an illusion but the real Fang Luowei, but unfortunately he was a step too late. The people in the bar said that Fang Luowei had just been fired for fighting, and Shen Xi could only sigh with regret when he heard this.
Li Mingxuan saw Shen Xi standing at the door of the bar. Under the warm yellow glow of the bar’s signboard, Shen Xi was standing alone, looking at the distance with a confused expression, thinking about something.
Li Mingxuan’s mind flashed back to the last time Shen Xi was drunk, and he honked the horn.
Shen Xi looked up in surprise. The two of them were more than ten metres apart from each other. Li Mingxuan made a motion for him to get into the car. Shen Xi froze for a moment, then the corners of his mouth slowly raised and he smiled faintly at Li Mingxuan.
In the warm yellow light, Shen Xi’s smile was clean and clear, and the corners of Li Mingxuan’s mouth couldn’t help but slowly hook up.