“Feng Hua, Feng Hua.”
There was a soft call, and Feng Hua opened his eyes. He was amidst pages which were like mountains and seas.
Those pages were sliding down, with dense words on them, familiar yet strange words.
The white shadow drifted towards Feng Hua with a soft glow.
“Feng Hua, I’m so bored. Build a house with me,” it said.
“Let’s make the walls first.”
With that, endless pages of paper suddenly gathered together. Starting from the first layer, they slowly piled up, getting taller and taller, the paper seeming to have turned into building blocks, into bricks, until a tall wall was formed.
Soon, a second wall began to be made.
“We have to make four walls in total. We’ve got to hurry up. Besides the walls, we have to make the roof, the door and window, and the chimney!”
“Feng Hua, you like making houses most, don’t you? But, you have to know…”
“A house is a whole formed by parts. No part by itself can be taken as a house. Like a door. It can’t be called a house. It’s just a small, incomplete part…”
“What do you mean? Who are you?”
“Feng Hua, let’s hurry up. I can’t wait…”
Feng Hua woke up.
He found himself lying on the edge of Feng Yeran’s bed, which was already empty.
Feng Yeran was sitting in the living room with a dispirited look on his face.
Feng Hua asked with distress, “Are you okay?”
Feng Yeran didn’t answer but just stared straight at the computer screen, his hair dishevelled and his face haggard.
Feng Hua knew what he was looking at. Feng Yeran1The original said Feng Hua. Judging from the context, it might be Feng Yeran instead, but I’m not totally sure. had hardly slept last night, constantly keeping an eye on the situation.
What started out as a simple affair exposure had now turned into a criminal case. In this era, the theft of intellectual property would be punishable by at least three years of imprisonment, and the theft of cross-age research results like the “Adesir new human” would result in not only huge compensation, but also life imprisonment—
Immediately after the incident, Feng Boran posted a tearful article about how the results of his research he’d spent years on had been stolen by his brother, and how he had suffered all these years. Because it was his brother, he didn’t want to expose it, but he hadn’t expected his brother would even try to rob his most beloved wife, which made him unable to bear it. Although he was very grateful to whomever it was who helped him behind the scenes, he finally stressed that he loved his brother no matter what, and hoped that the public and the one behind the scenes wouldn’t condemn or attack him too much. He was used to bearing the pain. Now that the truth had come out, he was already very satisfied. As for his wife, he would always believe that his wife was faithful to him. He could forgive her for everything.
His article successfully captured the tears of the public, and countless people supported him, saying that he was a grown man, a good husband and an epoch-making scientist.
If a moving article wasn’t enough, what the public needed was evidence. Feng Boran had evidence.
Soon, statements from some relevant figures became popular, including Chen Xuan, the person involved, and three colleagues from Feng Yeran’s institute. Chen Xuan’s main idea was that she’d been forced. She even told how she’d been forced by Feng Yeran to steal the confidential document from Feng Boran. She regretted it very, very much. She just wanted the brothers to live in peace. The three colleagues said that Feng Yeran was indeed unfamiliar with the research of Feng Hua and didn’t understand many of the procedures, as though he wasn’t the one who’d come up with that result at all. They’d never seen the original document either. Apart from the verbal claims, there was some physical evidence that was baffling to Feng Yeran but quite credible to the public…
Feng Boran said that it was easy to prove that the confidential document was his. Only he himself had the complete version, while Feng Yeran’s one was missing a large chunk. Because at the time he stole it, Feng Boran hadn’t finished it yet; moreover, he revealed that he had cultivated an embryo of Feng Hua’s second generation, which contained 91% Adesir genes, two percentage points higher than Feng Hua. This alone was enough to prove that he was Feng Hua’s true owner.
The news said that Feng Boran and others would hold a press conference tomorrow at 9am.
“Maybe I’ll be invited to the bureau for tea2To be invited for tea means to be brought into law enforcement agencies to be investigated and questioned. today.”
Feng Yeran ridiculed himself. “They’ve really got everything covered, but it’s my fault for being negligent and not protecting the most important document properly—I just found that my document had really become fragmented. The last third’s been deleted and can’t be recovered. I hadn’t even backed it up. What’s funny is that the procedure materials are too complex, even I can’t rewrite them word for word. Now, whoever reads it will think that that bastard’s the original creator, right… huh. And, I really hadn’t expected he would even steal our newly bred embryo, and the records during the culture of the embryo have been deleted. Betrayed by people from my own team, by the woman I love the most again and again—but, I still don’t dare believe it even now. Feng Hua, you say, she was forced, right? How could she say that about me? She actually said that I forced her to steal that bastard’s document? She actually denied everything that happened with me? She even told me the day before yesterday that she loved me, you know? How can women be so fickle?”
“Ye’er, have something to eat. You haven’t eaten since yesterday.”
“Are you worried about me?”
Feng Yeran, however, interrupted him with a sneer, “Because I’m your owner now? That’s why you’re worried about me? But I won’t be your owner soon—Feng Hua, they’ll steal you from me. But, I’m afraid it won’t make any difference to you, or perhaps, you’ll have even more freedom? Because I’m always tying you down, using you, and I’m also a sickly cancer patient, hahahaha—”
Feng Hua couldn’t bear it any longer. He stepped forward to hug Feng Yeran, who was babbling nonsense. Sure enough, Feng Yeran was drenched in cold sweat. It was obvious he was already in severe pain. Feng Hua pressed close to Feng Yeran’s body, treating his stomach while trying to soothe him. “Ye’er, no matter who you doubt, you shouldn’t doubt me! No matter what happens, I’ll stay by your side, because I love you! How many times have I said it since I was a child? Haven’t you listened? I only have you in my eyes, I only love you…”
“You know what? …Love has always been a product of opportunity, influenced and controlled by various factors. It may suddenly come with a bang, but then fade away in an instant. The feelings may even be fake, self-made or imposed, which is too unreliable. Moreover, those who’ve said they love me have all betrayed me.”
“I love you from the bottom of my heart! I’ll never betray you!”
“You love me? Clearly, you and…”
Before Feng Yeran could finish his sentence, he started gritting his teeth in pain again, sweating coldly.
It took at least an hour before he got slightly better. After a little porridge and a short rest, he looked as usual again.
He asked Feng Hua to go out and buy medicine for him. When Feng Hua returned, he found that Feng Yeran had disappeared.
Feng Yeran wrapped himself up, wearing a hat and a mask. He flipped out the window of his house, avoided the paparazzi gathered at his door, took a taxi and went straight to the Feng family compound. A place he was familiar yet unfamiliar with—he had lived here for ten whole years, from the time he was picked up by his father at the age of eight until he ran away from home after his mother passed away. Now, Feng Boran and Chen Xuan lived here.
No matter how much he called Chen Xuan, the phone was either switched off or hung up. He was really very worried about her. He didn’t believe she’d betray him. She must’ve been forced. So, he had to see Chen Xuan.
Sure enough, many people were gathered at the main entrance. It wasn’t possible to enter through there. He went in through the small side entrance and waited in the large wooded area, where there was a large area of ginkgoes, a few rockeries and a small pond. When he was a child, he liked this place very much and would run here as soon as he finished his homework, crouching alone to catch crickets and fish for goldfish. Sometimes, when he was scolded, he would hide inside the rockeries and cry.
He stood in the slightly chilly November breeze as scattered golden ginkgo leaves fluttered in the air. He was waiting, waiting, hiding, hiding. He didn’t want to be found by the servants and didn’t want to see the people he hated, but he really wanted to see Chen Xuan and hear her say “Yeran! I was forced! I’m sorry, forgive me!”—He’d be satisfied just to hear those words.
After he waited for about four or five hours, Chen Xuan really came.
She was dressed casually, a smile on her face and her long hair flowing. She was leading a small poodle to the pond.
As soon as she saw Feng Yeran, the smile on her face disappeared. “…Why are you here?”
Feng Yeran asked with concern, “Are you okay? Did they do anything to you… I know, you must be suffering as much as I am now, being forced by them to do that…”
But Chen Xuan took a big step back. “Don’t come looking for me… We’re over!”
“What did you say?”
“I’m your sister-in-law, your brother’s wife. We have no result.”
“…I know that. Didn’t we always know that?”
Chen Xuan looked around and her breaths quickened. “It’s no use forcing me to steal information! Yeran, don’t be obsessed. That information originally belonged to Feng Boran, and I only love Feng Boran. I won’t be with you, let alone steal information for you. Go back now!”
“What’re you talking about??”
Feng Yeran’s eyes widened in total disbelief. “Xiao Xuan, those statements on the internet are your true words? You’re really going to go to the press conference with that bastard tomorrow? You’re really going to betray me in front of the whole world? Just like you did in high school?”
Feng Yeran didn’t notice that the side entrance had been opened and that countless journalists had poured in, countless eyes staring at them and filming. They’d become animals in a zoo, being watched and played with by countless eyes.
And Chen Xuan screamed almost hysterically, “It’s you who betrayed us! It’s all your own fault for doing what you shouldn’t have done!”
The puppy was frightened and barked frantically.
Feng Yeran’s eyes were red, hot tears welled up in his eyes, and his nose and throat were terribly uncomfortable. He clenched his whitening fists, his whole body trembled, and his ears were filled with the constant chirping of cicadas, which came from inside his body.
The guards stopped the frantic journalists, and Chen Xuan strode towards the house.
Feng Yeran pathetically grabbed her wrist and asked her almost beggingly, his voice so low and hoarse that only the two of them could hear it, “Everything you’ve done for me, is it really a lie? Since high school, until now, have you not once liked me? Have you been lying to me for him all this time? …I know, you’re afraid of those journalists. If… if you have, even once, really liked me, if you were really forced and don’t want to hurt me, then look at me, Xiao Xuan, look at me!”
But Chen Xuan didn’t look back. She just fiercely shook off Feng Yeran, ran into the house, and fiercely flung the door shut with a bang, shutting Feng Yeran outside.
At that moment, all the memories of the golden years—the memories of laughing as deskmates, the memories of bickering with each other, the memories of that kiss at the bonfire party, all those memories of joy and pain—were reduced to ashes. Together with all those expectations for home, all those extravagant hopes for relatives, all those longings for this woman, they all turned to nothing, drowned in a cacophony of noisy, terrible sounds.
Feng Yeran’s consciousness became blurred.
He was standing in a crowd of many people, many people, who were no different from each other, all seeming to be wearing masks, sniggering, taking pleasure in human suffering. They crowded in front of Feng Yeran, pointing their cameras at him, constantly taking pictures, asking him all sorts of questions. He couldn’t quite hear them.
It was a bit amusing to inadvertently find that he’d run out in slippers. He probably hadn’t washed his face or combed his hair either. But, that didn’t matter.
His stomach was starting to hurt again.
Feng Yeran suddenly thought, Why not just keep on hurting like this until I die—what’s wrong with that? Anyway, everything’s gone, and I don’t know what to do next, where to go… Ah, right, I should hire the best lawyer, I should go to court. If I lose, I’ll stay in prison for the rest of my life. But if I win, what’s the point?
The noise of people rose and fell like a dark mountain range. As his eyes were dazzled, he seemed to feel a drop of cold liquid.
He tilted his head back and smiled. Ah, it was raining.
What a timely rain.
It rained heavily all of a sudden, big drops, crashing down, making the group of rats around him flustered.
Feng Yeran kept on tilting his head back, feeling the cold rain falling on his body, wetting every strand of his hair, and then sliding down his forehead. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. It was so good.
He closed his eyes.
Then, over the cluttered syllables, he heard a familiar voice, estranged and cold. “Get out of the way.”
Even if he couldn’t see, he knew the man was coming from the cluttered crowd.
The familiar footsteps, his heart seemed to jump along with the string of footsteps—magically, from that moment on, everything else became quiet. No longer disturbed by the noise of the outside world, even the rumbling within dissipated.
The familiar fragrance enveloped him.
Then, he heard the sound of rain beating on an umbrella, in rapid succession, pattering.
“Ye’er, let’s go back.” A sad, soft, even cautious voice, as if afraid of scaring a frightened kitten.
Feng Yeran opened his blurred eyes and looked at Feng Hua. He said with a smile, “Go back? The police are already waiting for me, right?”
“Then we… won’t go back.” He couldn’t clearly see Feng Hua’s face, but he could hear the sharply increased nasal tone in his words.
Feng Hua took off his own coat and draped it over the soaked Feng Yeran. Then, he couldn’t help half-hugging him and burying his head in the cold nook of Feng Yeran’s neck, trying to warm his body. “Let’s go to the countryside to relax, okay? After all, today’s an important day too.”
“An important day?”
“Today’s your birthday! Fool.”
- 1The original said Feng Hua. Judging from the context, it might be Feng Yeran instead, but I’m not totally sure.
- 2To be invited for tea means to be brought into law enforcement agencies to be investigated and questioned.