Chapter 12 — A Birthday
Edited by Beth
There weren’t as many classes in the fourth year of university. As such, Jiang Yuqian was able to remain running his company, living the nine-to-five life. Many of those in his faculty were interning in banks, security companies, or in some of the most famous accounting firms.
Cheng Jinghao was also in the fourth year of her course, and she happened to be majoring in accounting. Jiang Yuqian took special care of the sister of his beloved, hiring her to work in the finance department of his company. Although the company wasn’t big, the environment was pleasant, and all employees were young.
Ever since the internship period started, Jiang Yuqian had even more excuses to not answer his phone, to not reply to his messages. He even stopped going to their apartment on weekends.
Zhou Hao still recalled how this person had embraced him the last time. Hope grew within his heart, and he had thoughts that maybe their relationship might have been improving. However, reality only proved to slap him in the face.
November 18th was Jiang Yuqian’s birthday. Zhou Hao specially sent him a birthday greeting right at midnight. He waited and waited, but that person never replied. When he woke up the next morning, he immediately looked at his phone, but he still hadn’t received a response.
So that night, he made a deliberate trip down to Jiang Yuqian’s workplace — Nanyi Technologies — only to be stopped by the lady sitting at the front desk.
“Sir, may I ask if you have an appointment?”
“No.” Zhou Hao shook his head, then walked into the reception area by the side.
The colour scheme of the company’s entrance was blue and white, and upon entering the door, positioned right in the middle was an enormous logo — Nanyi Technologies. On the right was the reception area where Zhou Hao was seated, and there were four sets of sofa, their colour a warm yellow. Zhou Hao had always known the address of the company, but he had never made a trip himself before.
After about twenty minutes had passed, it had reached the time for employees to clock off. A crowd of people wearing suits all swarmed out. For every person that exited, Zhou Hao would look up, glancing at them. It was only at the end, where he spotted Jiang Yuqian and Cheng Jinghao walking out together, chatting happily along the way.
“Jiang Yuqian.” Zhou Hao appeared suddenly from the side.
Jiang Yuqian turned around, his face expressionless. “What is it?”
Cheng Jinghao first looked at Zhou Hao, then looked towards Jiang Yuqian. She could sense the strange air between the two, and so hurriedly spoke up. “My brother has made reservations at Hualai Restaurant. Since everyone knows each other, how about joining us?”
This was just like an occasion where someone was courteously asking if you had eaten, with the certain expectation of you turning them down by saying that you already did so beforehand. However, Zhou Hao refused to do just that. He had never behaved conventionally, and he went along with the suggestion. “Sure. It just so happens that I have yet to have had dinner.”
Jiang Yuqian drove his car over. Without thinking, Cheng Jinghao tugged at the door-handle of the passenger side, wanting to take her seat. Zhou Hao blocked her. “Sit in the back.”
Feeling a little awkward, Cheng Jinghao still maintained a proper smile, and she even politely took a seat in the back. Zhou Hao opened the door, not concealing a bit of his overbearingness at all, and sat directly in the passenger seat.
During the journey, the three people were silent. Jiang Yuqian’s eyes were fixed in front. Even while waiting for the traffic light to turn green, he never shifted his eyes to his side. It happened to be the peak congestion period when people were leaving work. They were stuck in a jam, and by the time they arrived at Hualai Restaurant, it was already thirty-minutes past seven.
Cheng Zixu did not expect that Zhou Hao was joining them. He was a little surprised, but it was only a brief expression. Very quickly, he spoke, seemingly joking, “You guys are late for half an hour, and you need to drink as punishment.”
Jiang Yuqian explained, “The traffic’s bad.”
Zhou Hao sneered inwardly. If it was him saying that, this person probably would ignore him entirely, with his face that was forever expressionless.
The four people took their seats. During this meal, everyone was very quiet. At first, Cheng Jinghao would share some amusing tidbits to liven up the atmosphere, but after realising that no one was picking it up, she too fell silent.
“Come, let’s all raise our glasses!” After a long period of silence, Cheng Zixu was the first to speak. “Here’s a happy birthday to Yuqian!”
Three people clinked their glasses together. Zhou Hao ignored them completely, eating away at the food on his plate.
Next, Cheng Zixu took out the present he prepared, and it was a Rolex. Cheng Jinghao had prepared a gift as well, and it was wrapped exquisitely in a pink box. As Jiang Yuqian did not open it on the spot, Zhou Hao did not know what it contained.
Zhou Hao did not prepare a present. In the past, he had never given this person a present before either. However, right now, he came up with a brilliant idea.
“I have a gift for you, too.” Zhou Hao’s smile was filled with ill-intent. He reached out, wrapping his arm around Jiang Yuqian’s neck, and smacked a kiss on his left cheek. “Dear, happy birthday!”
Cheng Jinghao clearly received quite a shock, and her expression was very stiff. Cheng Zixu’s reaction was still fine. He knew that these two people shared a complicated relationship, and he had already somewhat prepared himself. However, inside him, there was still that slight sense of discomfort.
Sullenness appeared on Jiang Yuqian’s face, and he harshly moved Zhou Hao’s arm away from his neck. “You better restrain yourself!”
In such a setting, said person dared not publicise his anger. But if they were somewhere else, where no one else was around them, the two would have long since fought, argued and ended up in bed. Thinking of this, Zhou Hao felt a merriness within his heart. When this person was upset, he himself would be happy.
“Restrain? What should I restrain? Dear, are you asking me to restrain myself on the bed at home?”
The two people sitting across from them could not bear to watch any longer, and they found an excuse to leave.
Jiang Yuqian gaze dulled at the sight of Cheng Zixu’s back growing further away, his right fist so tightly clenched that his nails dug into his flesh. He was unaware that his expression of pain had simultaneously caused a sharp pang inside of Zhou Hao.
“Let’s go back. Tonight, I’ll help you feel good.” Zhou Hao was speaking the truth. He did not have much money, and so he could only try his best to satisfy this person in bed.
“Zhou Hao, why can’t you just let me go?” The tone was weak, and Zhou Hao could hear this person’s exhaustion.
“Let you go?” Zhou Hao gave a self-mocking laugh. “Then what am I going to do?”
Jiang Yuqian turned around, and their eyes met. “How much money do you want? I’ll buy that video from you.”
“You like him that much?!” The response was irrelevant to the question.
“Then let me tell you, I won’t sell it for any amount of money. If you dare be with him, I’ll destroy him.”
A sneer hung off Jiang Yuqian’s lips. “I’ll bring you to a place tomorrow.” He then took out a little blue box from his pocket and tossed it casually onto the table.
Zhou Hao opened the box. In it were two men’s rings. An incessant joy rose up within him, and he carefully studied them, only to discover the two letters carved on the inner walls of the rings — J & C.
Jiang Yuqian & Cheng Zixu.
“I had originally wanted to give this to him, but now, there’s no need for it anymore.” Jiang Yuqian looked at Zhou Hao’s expression. It seemed as though it was experiencing a torrential downpour, the brightness fading into ashes. “If you like it, you can have it.”
Jiang Yuqian was very satisfied with Zhou Hao’s reaction. After so many years, with how they tortured each other, he seemed to have gradually figured out how to hurt this person.
“It’s just two pieces of scrap metal, I don’t care for them at all.”
The entire way home, Zhou Hao was dazed. His mind was still stuck on that pair of rings. Neither of them spoke to each other, and in the end, they still returned to that apartment they shared.
In the night, the moonlight filled the entire room. Zhou Hao stood up, heading to the balcony in the living room and lighting up a cigarette. An inexplicable frustration took over him, and he kept feeling as though he had lost control of something. No matter how he tried, he was unable to grab it back…
Rings. Zhou Hao laughed bitterly. That man still wanted to abandon him…
His thought process became more and more jumbled. Stubbing the cigarette out, he ran back to the bedroom and stood by Jiang Yuqian’s side of the bed like a spirit.
“You’re already with me, and yet you still want to cheat?”
“You even dare give him a ring?”
“I won’t let you get your way, Jiang Yuqian. At most, we’ll just end up in mutual destruction.”
In one breath, Zhou Hao said many of the bizarre and perverse thoughts that he had been keeping his heart, and his expression was one of pleasure that seemed invulnerable. The person on the bed suddenly opened his eyes. “Nutcase!”
The pretense on Zhou Hao’s face faded. In a trance, he walked to the other side of the bed and lay down to sleep.
The next morning, Jiang Yuqian drove him somewhere. In the car, Zhou Hao repeated the question: where were they going?
Jiang Yuqian remained silent. Later, the car arrived at a hospital — A City’s Hospital of Neurology.
“Get out of the car.”
“What do you mean?”
Jiang Yuqian leant over and undid Zhou Hao’s seatbelt, pushing him out of the car. “Go. Go in and get treated.” The car door slammed close, and the vehicle sped off.
“Jiang Yuqian, you fucking bastard!”
All his dreams shattered in an instant. Although he was unhappy yesterday, thinking about the fact that this person would be bringing him out today, his mood gradually improved.
Now, however, he stood alone at the entrance to the hospital, humiliated by the person who was supposed to be dearest to him. Zhou Hao no longer could understand, in the past few years, what exactly had he been trying to achieve…