Chapter 52: The End
That day, on the peak, I stood guard beside him until deep into the night. I had thought about pushing him into the abyss below, but, in the end, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. He had told me that he didn’t want to return to jail again. I knew what he meant – he didn’t want to die on the trail or in the torture of disease. He wanted to die at the peak.
Eventually, I called the police, and let three snowmobiles and a police car carry Chu Yuan Jiang away.
After the police investigation had concluded, I carried Chu Yuan Jiang’s ashes back to the home we had created for each other during the last two years.
As I opened the squeaky door, the sunlight leaked in and illuminated half of the cabinets. I placed his ashes in the place with most sunshine before making myself a meal. After finishing, I started to carefully clean the room, as if he was still here.
Then, I took a shower and lay on the sofa, holding the little box with his ashes close to my chest, suddenly feeling amused. Throughout this game, everyone had been entwined in a tangled web of benefits. Chu Yuan Jiang and I had been the intersection point of the threads, but now, the two of us had no more heart for this game.
Da Biao, angered by my mistreatment of Lin Ye, tampered with my car. Xiong Xi Liang, unhappy that I had became close to He Ling, sent somebody to help Da Biao. However, Xiong Xi Liang didn’t know that the hireling who went under my car had already been bought by He Ling. And so, a relatively minor incident became a major one.
Had I died in the accident, Chu Yuan Jiang, without a question, would not allow Xiong Xi Liang to get away with it. Regrettably, I had survived, so He Ling was forced to isolate me, and send people to guide Chu Yuan Jiang into attacking Xiong Xi Liang.
The timing of Lin Ye’s appearance had led me to suspect Da Biao, but later I had realized that this was impossible. After all, Lin Ye and Da Biao were foreigners in this country, so it was unlikely that they could have had a free hand to act as they pleased. I had, then, thought of Xiong Xi Liang, because this was, in a sense, his land. This was why I had immediately believed He Ling when he told me the perpetrator was Xiong Xi Liang.
I had figured out the initial situation correctly, but my conclusions had been flawed.
When I followed He Ling to hide away, the deeply hidden desire of having my revenge against Lin Ye, the hope of escaping, and the unwillingness to see Chu Yuan Jiang and Lin Ye meet and fight at the outrace, had made me forget the danger of He Ling.
I began to realize so much after he left, as if I attained enlightenment.
On top of that hill, before Chu Yuan Jiang had gone on his trip, he had told me that his life had finally been complete. He had told me that he had lived happily, and even mentioned the jade pendant at the end…
The last time that he mentioned the pendant was also when he was desperate.
It must have been then, at that time, that he had already given up all desire to live.
No wonder that he suggested I should get married, and warned me against having contact with Lin Ye.
At that time, I had only felt a vague sense of loss and sorrow, but I had never expected the situation to escalate so quickly, even though I had spent the previous two years in a state of constant anxiety…
Chu Yuan Jiang had suffered a serious injury while in China, and became depressed after being released on medical parole because life had become a torture for him. At that time, I had worried so much that something might happen…
However, after we moved abroad, he had quickly gotten back on his feet, and persistently pursued businesses that even I had looked down upon…
He told me that he did all of that for me.
But what use would money be for me once he was gone?
When I visited Xiong Xi Liang in the hospital, he was staring through the window blankly. He had been shot in the chest and under his ribcage, which wasn’t very serious. Nonetheless, he had grown so skinny that the bones of his face were clearly visible.
Xiong Xi Liang had always looked older than his age. When he stood by He Ling’s side, one really couldn’t tell that they were the same age. Now, with crow’s feet forming at the corner of his eyes, he seemed to have grown even older overnight.
He gave me a short glance before slowly asking, “What are you here for?”
“Where is He Ling?”
I put the keys to the beach house on the counter. “Please return this to him for me.”
Xiong Xi Liang suddenly asked, “Don’t you hate me?”
“Do you hate He Ling?”
Xiong Xi Liang shook his head. “I don’t. He was more competent, so I lost the battle. What’s there for me to hate him for? But I admit that I was too negligent. I didn’t expect you and Chu Yuan Jiang to be such a troublesome pair. During the past few decades, I have always been on the winning side. I took advantages of his resources. I got married. I took his fortune. J ruined his family…” Xiong Xi Liang suddenly laughed. “And just when I thought that I could finally own him, unexpectedly… he had been prepared for me to make my move since a long time ago…”
“You shouldn’t have done that to him. Because of what you did, he got so depressed that he almost drowned himself at sea.”
“That’s all in the past now. He has won, and I have lost.”
During the days when Xiong Xi Liang was in a coma, his companies had suffered from a string of scandals. Several senior managers had already been taken into custody for investigation.
The door squeaked, and He Ling strode in carrying a bowl. He simply nodded towards me before sitting at Xiong Xi Liang’s bedside, slowly stirring the liquid in the bowl, and feeding it to Xiong Xi Liang a spoon at a time.
He Ling’s eyes were fixed on Xiong Xi Liang’s mouth as it accepted the spoonfuls slowly, while he spoke to me. “‘If they do not harm me, then I shall not harm them.’ The matter of XX Appliance has been settled in full…”
I scooly said, “Then our debts are cleared.”
In fact, everything had become clear, at the moment when Chu Yuan Jiang left me. All of my grudges and ambitions crashed to the ground, like the golden roof of a palace during the fall of a dynasty. Nobody could look at the debris and guess it had once shone blood-red in the setting sun.
Later, I drove to an isolated house. There, Lin Ye opened the door, staring at me quietly.
“What are you here for?”
“Can we talk inside?” I replied calmly.
He hesitated, before nodding and moving aside for me. I walked over and seated myself on the sofa. Lin Ye stood beside me and poured me a cup of water.
” I am sorry for your loss,” he said with lowered eyes.
It was then that I noticed he was wearing a plain white shirt, although his expression was still as cold and aloof as always.
“In a way, he died a worthy death.” I said.
“I heard that he passed away on a mountain peak?”
After Lin Ye sat next to me, I asked, “Do you hate me?”
He nodded. “Yes.”
I smiled and said, “I came today to apologize and to thank you. Yuan Jiang told me that it was you who sent him to me, and that it was you that figured everything out… What I owe you needs to be repaid. I will not object whatever you wish for.”
Lin Ye’s eyes were fixed on me, but there was no enthusiasm in them. “I dare not allow you to pay me back, since I can’t afford it. One day, you are going to take the favor back.”
I sighed and stood up, walking to the door before saying, “The sincerity of my gratitude cannot be expressed through just words… Anyway, if you need me for anything in the future, please let me know.” I then pulled the door open, moving to leave.
But Lin Ye came after me, saying, “I am responsible for Da Biao’s doings as well.”
I smiled. Suddenly, I felt as though I was back to the night when I first met him. Even though he had nothing, he kept provoking me.
I raised a hand and caressed his cheek. It was smooth and soft, full of living-man’s warmth and suppleness. I answered softly, “I know it all.”
He removed my hand, before retrieving a sapphire necklace from his room and handing it to me. The gem was spotless, but the necklace itself was rusty and covered in scratches.
“I once threw it into the toilet, but it clogged the pipe, so the plumber removed it and returned it to me.”
“Thank you. It’s beautiful.”
“I had originally bought it for you.”
“You just said that you wanted to pay back what you owed me. Is that still true?”
He held my hand and led me to sit on the sofa. He silently unclasped the necklace, and straightened the thin, sharp connector. He then took out a lighter and moved the connector over the flame, twisting the lighter underneath until the connector grew hot.
He warned me with a soft voice, “Stay still.”
As he spoke, he pierced the tip through the skin around my collarbone. I gasped from the overwhelming pain, my nails digging into the sofa. Blood oozed out. Luckily, the silver thread was very thin, so he was able to easily pull the thread through the holes, as I closed my eyes and clenched my teeth.
I looked down, and saw a shining sapphire hanging just below my collarbone.
Lin Ye leaned against my shoulder and kissed me on the lips. “My flight is at two in the afternoon. The next time I come, I want to see it on you. Can you do that for me?”
I nodded, my senses already numbed from the pain. “Contact me next time you’re coming.”
Lin Ye locked his lips with mine. I hesitantly looked at his fluttering eyelashes, before holding his face and kissing him back deeply.
Sometimes, the bond exists not between the bodies, but between the souls.
I was a man without any bonds. Perhaps because I had fewer scruples, I did better and better in investments.
I wasn’t a man who could endure boredom, so, after growing sick of staying in my empty house every day, I started a company that did finance management for wealthy Chinese men.
In two years, I moved into a splendid palace like Xiong Xi Liang’s mansion, and started sponsoring beauty contests and holding parties in my own house as well…. I went back to my previous life of debauchery.
When Lin Ye would come to visit me, and only then, I would wear that sapphire in the hole next to my collarbone.
Lin Ye’s favorite thing to do was to lick the gem as it swung next to his face, while I fucked him.
And when I was alone, I would hold the box of Chu Yuan Jiang’s ashes in my hands, and quietly tell him about what was happening in my life every day.
It is a tradition to wear white clothes to show your lament for the dead.