Chapter 13 — Drunk
Edited by tin
It was already December. The weather was chilly, and the trees within the hospital compound had no life in them, their leaves scattered all across the ground.
When Zhou Hao went downstairs to collect a parcel, he bumped into Jia Lin at the hospital lobby. Jia Lin’s grandfather was getting discharged today, after staying in the hospital for about half a year. Having amassed quite a bit of odds and ends over his stay, Jia Lin was unable to carry all of them alone.
“Let me help you.” Zhou Hao picked up the basin on the floor, helping Jia Lin carry it onto the car.
“It’s just a bunch of useless items, but my grandfather cannot bear to throw them away. He even wants to bring them all home, like they’re antiques or something,” Jia Lin grumbled.
“Why didn’t you get someone to help you?”
“It’s only donkey work, and I can’t be bothered to trouble other people. Our housekeeper isn’t working today as well.”
The two people chatted as they worked. Very quickly, everything was packed into the car.
“Thanks, I’ll treat you to a meal later.”
“You’re welcome, but there’s no need for that.” Zhou Hao was expressionless. Out of the blue, he added, “You’re a little different from them.”
Them? Jia Lin smiled, understanding who Zhou Hao was referring to.
Looking at Zhou Hao at such a close distance, Jia Lin felt that the appearance of this person really was not too bad. It was just that he was not very talkative, and his eyes were always downcast. However, he actually matched that blockheaded Jiang Yuqian quite well.
A few days later, much to his surprise, Zhou Hao actually received a text from Jia Lin — an invitation for a meal.
Reflexively, Zhou Hao rejected the invitation. “I’m taking an overnight shift, so I won’t be joining you.”
Actually, when he had just started being with Jiang Yuqian, that person had never brought him to meet any of his friends before. Fortunately for Zhou Hao, he was rather unsociable, and he did not like to meet strangers. However, as he had just started going out with him, he could not help but have a secret, slightly wicked desire, eagerly wanting to announce his relationship to the world.
He made plans, deliberately appearing at the gathering of Jiang Yuqian and his childhood buddies, and he would forever remember how indifferent Jiang Yuqian looked then, feigning that he did not know him.
“Why are you here?”
“I came here to hang out.”
That was their conversation then.
During the entire gathering, Zhou Hao was neglected, abandoned to the side. Later, he saw the legendary “Xuxu”, and then he turned his eyes towards Jiang Yuqian. To his surprise, that frozen iceberg actually did know how to smile.
That night, just as he left through the doors of the hospital, he saw a very cool, blue Audi R8 parked right outside. The window slid down, revealing Jia Lin’s face. “Get in.”
Zhou Hao knew that he would not be able to refuse anymore, so he acceded.
In the very lively KTV, the earth-shaking noise within gave no peace to one’s ears. Zhou Hao did not like such places, and he frowned slightly. Was it not supposed to be a meal? How did they end up in a KTV?
Zhou Hao raised his voice, asking in puzzlement, “What are we doing here?”
Jia Lin only smiled, not answering. He led the way, and the moment he pushed the door open, Zhou Hao came to a realisation. The so-called meal was actually a gathering amongst friends.
At that moment, Jiang Yuqian was reclining in one corner of the couch, his eyes hazy. One of the buttons on his shirt was undone, and his tie hung loosely around his neck. On his face was a drunken flush…
For a second, Zhou Hao indulged himself in this scene. He thought, unless Cheng Zixu was straight, he really could not understand why he would not like Jiang Yuqian.
“Why did you bring him here?” Standing up and shouting was Zheng Shichu. He was already drunk, and his feet were unsteady.
“Without waiting for me, you guys secretly got yourself drunk?” Jia Lin joked, then turned to speak to Zhou Hao, “Go take a look at Yuqian.”
Zhou Hao originally had no intentions of going over. However, standing foolishly there, it seemed a little awkward too. As such, he headed in the direction of the couch, only to be deliberately tripped by Zheng Shichu, and he stumbled, falling right down.
Jiang Yuqian was woken up by the sudden impact. Opening his eyes, he looked at the person on his chest, then reflexively pushed him away.
If this happened a long time ago, perhaps, Zhou Hao would be sorrowful over such a look of disdain. However, now, he could no longer be bothered to be upset. Scrambling up, he rushed over and shoved Zheng Shichu.
An eye for an eye, this was something Zhou Hao understood too well. That fellow was already very drunk, and due to being caught off guard, he immediately fell embarrassingly to the ground.
Rage took over Zheng Shichu. It seemed that the two were about to start a fight, but fortunately, Jia Lin pulled Zheng Shichu away.
“Fuck, do you just bring any random thing here?”
Zhou Hao took a step forward, swinging a fist at him. “Who the fuck are you talking about?!”
“Among us, who doesn’t know that Yuqian doesn’t like you at all? Zhou Hao, you’re complete fucking trash, whoring yourself out like that! Even girls have more of a backbone than you do!”
Zhou Hao’s fists tightened savagely. He was now so angry that he wished he could just rip the mouth off this person. “You have the mouth of a dog, nothing good ever comes out from it!”
He then turned towards Jiang Yuqian sitting in the corner. That person looked as though he had nothing to do with what was going on, like he was just watching a play in front of him. There was no trace of him wanting to get involved at all.
If it were someone else, if it were Cheng Zixu, fucking hell, that person would have probably long beaten Zheng Shichu to death already.
However, after so many years, Zhou Hao had long learnt his lesson, and he would rarely compare himself to Cheng Zixu. This was because, other than inviting humiliation on himself, he could not think of any other meaning for the comparison.
“Give me some face! I was the one who called him here! Zheng Shichu, can you fucking not throw a drunken fit?!” Jia Lin was also enraged. Why were things like this?
“I’m sorry,” Jia Lin apologised.
Zhou Hao straightened his dishevelled clothes. “It’s just a rabid dog biting madly, it has nothing to do with you!”’
After this commotion, no one was in the mood to continue playing. Still on the table were over a dozen bottles of alcohol. Holding onto a microphone, Tian Bin loudly sang a few lines, and then he no longer had the mood to sing as well.
Everyone started pulling on their outerwear, stumbling and leaving.
The three people had all driven here. Now that they had all drank, they instinctively looked for designated drivers. Considering that he had not drank at all, Jia Lin decided that he would send all of them home.
First was Zheng Shichu, then Tian Bin, and finally, only three people were left in the car. Jia Lin sent the two back to No. 1 Binjiang.
Zhou Hao got out of the car by himself, ignoring Jiang Yuqian in the backseat.
“Hey! Yuqian’s still here!”
“He can go wherever he likes, what does it have to do with me?!”
Jia Lin understood this person’s temper. He was probably still angry, and so Jia Lin decided that fine, since he was already doing Zhou Hao a favour, he would see it to the end. After parking his car, it took Jia Lin a lot of energy before he managed to help Jiang Yuqian to his door.
Zhou Hao opened the door. He was no longer throwing a tantrum, and helped support Jiang Yuqian back to his room.
“Fuck, I’m exhausted. This guy must be doing it on purpose, right? It’s not as if he’s that drunk.”
Zhou Hao brought Jia Lin a glass of water. After drinking from it, only then did Jia Lin feel a little better.
This was in fact the first time he had visited their place. Jia Lin surveyed his surroundings. All items were neatly placed, the redwood floor gleaming in the light. Not a speck of dust could be seen on the table and tv console.
It was rare to see guys who were so clean and tidy. Zhou Hao was truly a “deviant”, but Jia Lin meant it in a positive manner.
“I’m really sorry about today, I wanted to take you to have some fun.”
Unbothered, Zhou Hao shook his head. “It’s fine.”
It was unclear who kicked off the conversation, but the two people started chatting in the living room. Jia Lin happened to mention Jiang Yuqian and Cheng Zixu, and started talking about the period when they were in high school.
Zhou Hao appeared as though he did not care, but internally, his emotions had already been stirred up. He remained quiet, not even daring to say a word, afraid that he would end up cutting Jia Lin off. Because, more than anyone else, he was curious about those two people’s past…
“You know that they sat next to each other in high school, right?”
Zhou Hao nodded.
“Yuqian’s father is a businessman, and usually, he’s not at home. His mother’s a university professor, and with the pressure from her research as well as evaluating dissertations, she’s also usually quite busy.”
“Ever since he was a child, Yuqian had been taken care of by his housekeeper. Occasionally, his mother would leave him at his grandmother’s place. He’s also quite antisocial, rather like you, and he doesn’t like to say much either. The four of us have known each other since we were young, since we were toddlers.”
“Cheng Zixu was someone that came later. After being assigned to our individual classes in high school, the four of us were separated, and Yuqian ended up in the same class as Cheng Zixu. As it was high school, our families had arranged for us to attend quite a number of tuition classes, and we basically could not hang out that often anymore. Once, during Yuqian’s birthday, his parents were not at home. It was Cheng Zixu who took Yuqian to an amusement park. It was probably then when the two people started to gradually become closer to each other.”
“At that time, did Jiang Yuqian already like Cheng Zixu?” Although Zhou Hao did not wish to acknowledge it, he had no choice. The man with whom he shared such an intimate relationship had always been in love with someone else.
“Probably. The two people later often did their homework together, revised together, and frequently went out to play together. When we graduated from high school, their class went on a graduation trip. After they returned, Yuqian told the few of us that he liked Cheng Zixu.”
Jia Lin measured Zhou Hao’s expression, afraid that he would feel aggrieved and not be able to continue listening. Fortunately, the person in front of him still looked as per normal, and so he continued, “Yuqian is the sort who likes to keep his feelings inside him. It’s rare to see him take the initiative in liking a person. Although it’s a man, as long as he likes him, we’re all willing to act as his wingmen.”
“So what happened?”
“During the summer, after our high school graduation, behind Yuqian’s back, we planned a confession scene for him. Although Yuqian was angry with us for doing such a thing without informing him, he was actually quite happy about it. However, who would have thought that Cheng Zixu would reject him?”
So it turned out that he had confessed once before. Then, with that ring, did that guy want to confess another time?
So it turned out that no matter how prideful and haughty a person was, there was still a time when he would bend his neck. Sadly, Zhou Hao was not the person who could make him submit.
“It seems like he really likes Cheng Zixu.”
“Yes.” Seemingly teasing, Jia Lin said, “But I feel that you’re more suited for Yuqian than Cheng Zixu.”
Going along with him, Zhou Hao too smiled, although very unnaturally.
After sending Jia Lin off, Zhou Hao took a shower and lay in bed. Tonight had been quite something. Jiang Yuqian too lay there, drunk. It was a rare moment of peace between the two, and they neither fought nor argued.
Zhou Hao pressed himself close, wanting to gain what tiny bit of warmth that was left between the two. Wildly, he thought, just let the current situation continue on like this — he liked Jiang, Jiang liked Cheng, while Cheng did not like Jiang.
Like this, both Jiang Yuqian and him were pitiful.
It was good like that, as being pitiful together was still better than being pitiful alone.
“Jiang Yuqian, in this life, I’m just like this. I’ll have to inconvenience you, to accompany a nutcase like me, alright?” Plastered against the other man’s back, Zhou Hao spoke gloomily.
The next morning, Zhou Hao sat firmly in the dining room, eating his porridge. He looked up, glancing at the person who just woke up.
“There’s porridge in the kitchen, I’m heading to work now.” Zhou Hao stood up. He did not give Jiang Yuqian another look, instead walking to the hallway to change into his shoes.
Jiang Yuqian was still groggy. Regarding last night’s matters, he had no impression of them at all. He pressed forcefully against his temples, but it was to no avail, and he still could not remember anything at all.