Late at night, at the hotel, Qin Zhuopu was busy tapping on the keyboard. His assistant, standing next to him, said, “There will be snow tomorrow. Where is Mr. Qin going?”
Qin Zhuopu stopped typing, “It’s snowing?”
“Yes, heavy snow.”
Qin Zhuopu leaned back, pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
“Stupid, you should have thrown the paternity test in her face and let her see for herself who’s true and who’s false.” On Qixia Mountain, in the warm house, Ji Xiaofeng sat with his legs crossed and nibbled on melon seeds, constantly talking to Lu Ying.
Zaizai was asleep on the wooden couch in the living room, making soft snoring noises. Dr. Hu sat next to Ji Xiaofeng, quietly reading a book.
Lu Ying said in a low voice, “I used to think that one day, if I had the chance to meet him again, I would confess. I never thought it would end up like this… Mrs. Qin even said such things. There’s no point.”
Ji Xiaofeng, of course, understood Lu Ying and sighed, “Idiot, who wants you to talk about true feelings, you should look at the money. Let her willingly give you all her assets and you can have as much fun as you want with the money. Zaizai has multiple cash cards, and you’re his father, how cool. A few decades later, Mrs. Qin dies, Qin Zhuopu dies, the Qin family will be Zaizai’… my goodness, it’s so cool!”
Lu Ying didn’t know whether to cry or to laugh, muttering, “I don’t care.”
Ji Xiaofeng hated iron for not being made of steel, “Tens of billions, tens of billions! Are you stupid?!”
Lu Ying chuckled, “Don’t help her brag, there’s no such thing as that much money.”
Dr. Hu spoke out at this time, “You don’t really think their family sells sanitary napkins, do you?”
“Well… they also sell houses, and I think there is food and cosmetics.” Lu Ying recalled that he had actually met Qin Zhuopu on the construction site.
Dr. Hu laughed: “You can look up Guanhai Group online. It belongs to the Qin family. Qin Zhuopu has no less private property under his name and he has developed a lot of projects. As for Mrs. Qin personally, ten billion is really not bragging. So you do the maths, how big is this huge sum of money? You’ve lost too much by getting emotional.”
“Actually so rich?” Lu Ying’s mouth opened wide.
“Regret it, right? It’s not too late to regret. In short, you want money, not people.” Ji Xiaofeng encouraged.
“Our Zaizai’s surname is Lu, going by the name of Qin for money isn’t the way to go.”
“Tsk, really spineless.” Ji Xiaofeng rolled his eyes.
“Don’t tempt me, I’m here today to buy medicine.”
“Fart. I’ll call you stupid pig from now on.”
Dr. Hu said, “A bottle of ten pills, 50,000 yuan. This is already a price for a friend, if it were anyone else, you wouldn’t be able to buy it without 180,000 yuan.”
“Thank you, Dr. Hu.” Lu Ying was happy and pained. He took out a card and handed it over, “It’s exactly 50,000, and the password is Brother Ji’s birthday.” In the end he couldn’t help adding another sentence, “This medicine is for Zaizai, if you don’t sell it to me, no one will buy it…”
Dr. Hu threw the card directly to Ji Xiaofeng, humming, “Don’t buy it if you dare.”
“Okay, I was wrong.”
“To remind you, now is the time for Zaizai to grow up. This medicine may last for a year or only for half a year.”
Ji Xiaofeng asked, “Didn’t you and Grandpa Lu save a lot of yuling (spirit jade) grass before?”
“Before, I used to take the yuling grass to Dr. Hu to process it into Zaizai’s medicine. But now that the stock is gone, I have to buy the finished medicine. The rest of the grass are just bits and pieces that won’t be ready for eight or ten years.” Dr. Hu used to help with the processing of the herbs and only charged a small processing fee. Now that the herbs were gone and Zaizai’s consumption was growing, Lu Ying was preparing for the worst. He expected to spend 100,000 a year on medicine, and his savings were going to cry.
I hope Zaizai will grow up soon!
Ji Xiaofeng rolled his eyes, raised his hand and threw the card back to him, “Take it, count it as a gift from me to my godson.”
“That won’t do, Brother Ji, don’t do that.” Lu Ying’s attitude was serious.
“Take it if you’re given it.” Ji Xiaofeng frowned.
“I’m not spineless!” Lu Ying solemnly declared, then changed his words and smiled, “When my savings are gone, you can lend me money again. Thank you, Brother Ji.”
“Let’s see how long you can last.” Ji Xiaofeng’s mouth was merciless, but he sighed more and more. Little piggy Lu had really grown up. Would Grandpa Lu be more relieved or more distressed if he saw it?
This night, Lu Ying and Zaizai stayed in the mountains. Lu Ying was up before four o’clock. Brother Ji was up even earlier than him, playing games in a frenzy. Lu Ying made breakfast for the two of them to eat together, and then went out alone: “Please take Zaizai to kindergarten today, and I’ll pick him up in the evening.”
“Don’t worry, I will.”
Ji Xiaofeng watched Lu Ying leave, turned around and went back to the house to see that his godson was still sleeping soundly. Then he gently opened the door to the other room.
On the antique wooden bed, Dr. Hu was still sleeping, so Ji Xiaofeng pounced on him, “Lao Hu, are you hiding something from me? Tell me quickly!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, go and play by yourself.”
“I’m not going to go, something must be not right with you! Yesterday not only Lu Ying was shocked, I was also shocked. Why did you suddenly tell everyone about Zaizai’s origin for no good reason? And when you met Qin Zhuopu, you didn’t check his pulse or take a look at his hexagram, you just said he was healthy. You didn’t used to be like this, you old liar, shame on you!”
Dr. Hu grunted with his eyes closed, “You reminded me, I forgot to collect the consultation fee!”
Ji Xiaofeng shook him, “Get up! Why do I feel there’s something wrong with him? That little bit you taught me, I don’t understand what to do with it.”
Dr. Hu finally opened his eyes and comforted offhandedly, “If you don’t understand, I wonder if you’re a pig or Lu Ying is a pig, huh?”
“Fuck you! Pigs are smart!”
“That’s right, Baby Ji is the dumbest boy.”
Qixia Town was dark at four o’clock. As Lu Ying came down from the mountain, snow began to drift from the sky overhead. He was afraid it would be snow shovelling again; the last few days of work didn’t look good.
There was a lot of snow this year.
He had to go home to change into his work clothes before going to work. The entrance to the still-built community was empty, with only the dim light from two street lamps on the side of the road.
After changing his clothes, Lu Ying sped up, walking down the street. It didn’t take long to reach his destination and the old captain arrived almost at the same time with him.
“It looks like there will be snow again, so do a good job and don’t come tomorrow, Xiao Lu. Don’t delay your new job.” Captain Yuan was kind.
Lu Ying smiled, “How can I do that? We agreed I’d finish the week. Don’t worry, the new boss is my good brother, I’ve already agreed with him on the time.”
“You are too honest, kid.”
“It’s called the spirit of contract, haha.”
“Honest and hardworking, you’ll make it. Where exactly is the bakery you’re working in? I’ll ask my daughter-in-law to bring her granddaughter to take care of your business next time, they love buns and cakes. But my granddaughter is not as sturdy as your little boy…”
“Our shop is a bit far from here, just next to the Academy of Fine Arts…”
The two chatted while working; half an hour later other employees came over. They were all quite old and their coughs echoed particularly loudly in the quiet night.
Did Lu Ying look out of place as a young man? In the dim light, dressed in the same bloated, glow-in-the-dark clothes, wearing cold-proof hats, tall, short, fat, thin, men and women, young and old, they were all a group of people struggling to survive.
The hand that held the cigarette trembled slightly.
With Lu Ying being like this, he could still smile and say “I’m doing well”.
What you see with your own eyes is even more incredible than the cold information.
Qin Zhuopu only felt the coldness run from his feet to the top of his head and his scalp was numb.
Lu Ying, who was sweeping the street, pursed his lips slightly and glanced at the inconspicuous car across the road as if nothing had happened. By the end of his shift, he found that the car had disappeared.
Huh, big pig hoof!
Lu Ying walked home with his body sticky with sweat, impatient to take a shower and change into dry clothes.
“Zaizai isn’t making any trouble, is he?” Lu Ying was in the lift, smiling and talking to Brother Ji.
On the other end, Ji Xiaofeng said, “Godfather personally sent him to school, would he still want to make a fuss? Don’t worry, when he got up and had something to eat and drink, he was happier than ever. After going to kindergarten, he even said he wanted me to pick him up and take to the mountain to play at night. Haha, nice try! He must have taken a shine to my latest Lego! I’m not falling for it.”
Lu Ying held his forehead and laughed helplessly, “Don’t listen to him, I buy him a lot of toys, there are assembling parts everywhere at home… your authentic ones are ridiculously expensive, I just buy domestic ones online for twenty or thirty yuan a box. The 9.99 kind small boxes are already disliked by him…”
Lu Ying’s voice stopped abruptly as he looked at the man who had been standing in front of his apartment for an unknown period of time. Even if he could just see the profile, Lu Ying was still in a daze for a moment.
“Bye.” Lu Ying hung up the phone, exhaled and stepped forward not even looking at the man, opening the door directly. He lived in a reconstructed suite, one room to the left, one to the right and one in the front. Three separate rooms housed three households. They usually didn’t bother each other.
Lu Ying opened the second door. The man was standing behind him.
Lu Ying frowned and looked back: “What are you doing following me?”
Qin Zhuopu’s face was frosty and his voice quite dry: “How wronged do you feel by me that you would rather be reduced to sweeping the streets? You’re telling me you’re doing well. Do you call this doing well?”
Lu Ying kicked open the door, pulled the man inside, slammed the door shut and said, “Isn’t it too late for you to care about this? What have you been doing until now? This is what I still want to ask you! Why didn’t you come to quarrel with me years ago? Now you’ve brought your mother and cursing at everyone you meet. Tell you what, I’m angry! I used to be stupid enough to want to make up with you, but now I don’t want to at all!”
Qin Zhuopu laughed in exasperation. His stomach ached as he stared at Lu Ying’s angry depressed face. He said, “You’re the one who left without warning! Do you know what I thought when you had disappeared? Were you lost, did something happen to you? Do you know how I felt when no one answered my calls? I chased you to the airport and only found your phone! How many fucking years have you been gone? I didn’t even lose my temper, I came looking for you as soon as I got word of you.”
“You’ve chased me to the airport, then why didn’t you come to me?” Lu Ying asked him incredulously in return, “Such a big boss like you, how come you couldn’t find out where I had gone? It’s not like my Qixia Town is deep in the mountains. When I went back to the mountain, I naively thought you would come looking for me soon! Grandpa was right, you just didn’t treat me sincerely enough!” Lu Ying couldn’t help but cry. He hated Mrs. Qin’s meanness, but what he cared about more was the anxiety that had been bottled up for years.
At that time, he waited on the mountain, telling Grandpa every day that although he had no choice but to run back, Qin Zhuopu and Mrs. Qin were different. Mrs. Qin was a tigress and Qin Zhuopu was a star in the sky!
Qin Zhuopu would surely find him soon, and when the time came, Qin Zhuopu would stay on the mountain and become a member of their family! No matter how powerful that Mrs. Qin was, she wouldn’t dare to go up to the mountain and spread her evilness. Grandpa said: if he has you in his heart, he will definitely come. If he doesn’t come in three years, you will never be allowed to go to him.
How proud he was of himself at that time? He said, “Grandpa, you underestimate the man I like so much. I don’t need to wait for three years, he will come in a few days at most.”
When he saw Lu Ying’s tears, Qin Zhuopu was dumbfounded. He tried desperately to recall the past and opened his mouth several times to refute Lu Ying forcefully, confident that the things were not at all like Lu Ying had said.
But it was like some kind of barrier was blocking his brain. Some of the past was blurred and some of it was clear, so he couldn’t tell if he had always remembered it or if it had suddenly come back to him.
“Did you think I left you and turned my back on you, so you resented me? You ignored me on purpose, didn’t you?” Lu Ying asked what was in his heart. When he had run at first, he also wondered what if Mrs. Qin had hidden it and Qin Zhuopu thought he had abandoned him. But he was almost 100% sure that Qin Zhuopu would come after him, so wouldn’t it be better to explain it in person?
Unfortunately, Qin Zhuopu had never come.
No, I didn’t! I’m not that kind of person! Qin Zhuopu struggled to clear up his thoughts. He knew that Lu Ying lived in Qixia Town. Lu Ying had told him before that he had grown up on the mountain, that he had never been to school, that he had been raised by Grandpa Lu. He knew Lu Ying’s friends and his elders. In addition to Ji Xiaofeng, there were Dr. Hu, Brother Yang, Brother Liu, Brother Gou who was a narcotics police officer in another city, Brother Hou who was a firefighter and Sister Tu who lived in another mountain, married with children, Brother Shu who was elusive, Brother She who was in the entertainment industry and so on… There were a total of twelve siblings in the same family, and Lu Ying was the youngest.
Lu Ying disappeared and he went to look for him, went to the airport, went to Caifeng City… went to Qixia Mountain? Did he go?
He did. Or didn’t he?
After waiting for a long time only to see Qin Zhuopu’s hideous expression that he couldn’t control, Lu Ying cried out, so angry that he wanted to transform!
Qin Zhuopu’s eyes were lost. His headache was splitting and his body swayed suddenly.
Grandpa Lu: How did you fall in love with that boy?
Lu Ying: Love at first sight! He did too!
Grandpa Lu: …how did you fall in love at first sight?
Lu Ying: He must be a star in the sky!
Grandpa Lu: ……
Lu Ying: bling bling! ^_^
Lu Ying: What did you think I was when you first saw me?
Qin Zhuopu: The sun, right?…
Lu Ying: Why? Do I shine that bright? (#^. ^#)
Qin Zhuopu: When you get close, it gets too hot.
Lu Ying: ……
Translator’s note: I think I should put a bit of a spoiler here because Chinese readers likely start guessing something at this point. It’s up to you whether to spoil it for yourself or not; to my mind, both options have their advantages 🙂 For the spoiler, scroll down a little.
The Chinese Zodiac: Rat [shû], Ox [niú], Tiger [hû], Rabbit [tù], Dragon [lóng], Snake [shé], Horse [mâ], Sheep [yáng], Monkey [hóu], Rooster [jī], Dog [gôu], and Pig [zhū].
The surnames are homophonic but written differently.