No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 48: Common Ground
Zhong Yan was both anxious and angry. “Have you really gone mad? There is still retreat if a coup without bloodshed fails, but have you ever thought about the consequences of the failure of an armed revolution?”
Adrian shot back, “Retreat? What retreat would there be for the failure of a peaceful coup? To spend the rest of my life in prison?”
“That’s better than losing your life!”
“I don’t care,” Adrian responded resolutely, “I was determined to lay my life on the line the moment I stepped on Navi…”
“I care!” Zhong Yan shouted angrily as tears poured down from his eyes uncontrollably, “I care! How could you be like that? You’re the only person I care about! What about me?!”
Zhong Yan rarely let his emotions break out, and this incited a change in Adrian’s expression. He could hear a deep sigh emerging from a soft corner of his heart, but he wiped out that bit of weakness in resolution and said, “If…” He was shocked at how choked his voice was. He cleared his throat and continued, “If, seven years ago, you told me this before our graduation, I would’ve reconsidered. But right now…Zhong Yan, it’s already too late.”
“I was wrong, I was wrong, I’m sorry.” Zhong Yan cried and pleaded, “Please give me one more chance, we can start over…just give me one more…”
Adrian pursed his lips and shook his head lightly. His mind was blank. This was the results he had decided on because he knew that if he ever allowed himself any freedom of thought, he would definitely make an impulsive decision.
Then, something filled his arms. Zhong Yan’s arms passed beneath his and tightened around his body. Very quickly, his chest became warm and damp: those were Zhong Yan’s tears.
“It’s fine even if you don’t like me anymore, just don’t send yourself to your own death. Please…I beg you…”
His voice was muffled on Adrian’s chest, and it felt like every one of his words were worming into his heart. His hands hovered only a centimeter away from Zhong Yan’s back, and at the moment where Zhong Yan could not see, a look of struggle emerged on his face. Then, those hands were clenched into fists, and moved away by their owner.
“If we could start over, would you abandon that position?” Adrian asked.
The body in his arms stiffened. Zhong Yan slowly let go of Adrian’s waist and took a step back. His eyes were still red, but he tried his best to control his emotions, “What does this have anything to do with that position? You’re asking me to give up on my lifelong dreams for you.”
Even if he knew he wouldn’t agree, Adrian still couldn’t help feeling disappointed. “You have also asked me to give up my hopes of liberating mankind because of this. This matter has nothing to do with the armed coup either.”
Zhong Yan sat himself down once more on the sofa and supported his head with one hand. For a moment, he did not speak, but when he started again, his voice had already stabilized. “You’ll lose. Let’s not even mention how strong the defense system of the Capital itself is, just by adding up the military strength of the star systems nearby, I’m afraid the strength is going to be far beyond that of the Navi Military Command. Even though the military commands and sub-councils in each region are of equal standing, they will not obey Pearson…But they will accept ‘Butterfly’s’ orders. Just calm down, don’t…”
“I know, I’m very calm. The only reason you can come to this wrong conclusion is because you don’t know of Navi’s true strength.” Adrian was really afraid that he would cry again, so he tried to keep his tone as mild as possible. “Besides, I didn’t say I’m going to bring my troops to the Capital the very next day. I have yet to fully perfect my preparations, and many of my officers are still working on a plan together…”
Zhong Yan shook his head. “No matter what plans you make, do you know what you’ll be recorded as in the history books if the first shot is fired? You’re bringing a group of humans to attack another group of humans. Do you know what that means? The peace that has been maintained for dozens and dozens of generations by mankind will cease to exist. Once you are defeated, the winners will write you down as a sinner in history, and you will forever be nailed down onto the pillar of shame. You tell me that I don’t know your strength well enough…Fine. Let’s say you win. What then? War makes no distinctions, sacrifices will be made. Humans have not sacrificed their lives on the battlefield for centuries. Don’t even tell me this is a necessary sacrifice, or a glorious one, people of this age can’t accept this sort of thing. This is far too removed from what we know. Even if the victims themselves were willing to dedicate their lives, and maybe their families would understand, but the people in this world will only know that you were the one to cause this terrible situation. Do you still think you can serve the people then?”
“Why should I serve them?”
“Didn’t you prepare the seat for yourself?”
“Of course not,” Adrian denied it, “You’re overestimating how versatile I am. I can’t even take up the position of Student Council President, how would I be able to handle that position?”
Zhong Yan blurted out, “What? I thought you filled up the campaign application back then. Didn’t you give up just because I joined? You were worried I’d dwell on it so you never told me, and even deleted your application.”
Adrian was stunned. “What kind of nonsense are you talking about? I don’t even know what the campaign application form looks like, who told you this?”
“I…It was on the school’s forum, um…There was a ‘Twin Stars’ tag…” Zhong Yan said awkwardly. “Was that fake?”
Adrian couldn’t stop himself from thinking about the forum he had mistakenly entered, and it seemed to say that it was established by several girls from the gossip section of the Supreme Institution’s internal forums after their graduation. Their little chatroom was filled with words like “marriage”, and “having sex”…
“I told you to stop looking at the forums!” Adrian grunted, “How many times have I told you? The things they write in the gossip section are all just rumors!”
“Oh…” Zhong Yan felt wronged. “You told me this on our third year. I saw it during our second year…”
Adrian pulled their conversation back on topic. “Anyway, I don’t have the talent in this regard, but I will choose someone with that talent, and bring him up there myself.”
“A person with both talent and a mind for the world,” Zhong Yan added coldly, “and regretfully, I do not meet the latter condition. So does that mean you have someone in mind? Oh, since you just went to see Vahl Cayman today…”
A slight change emerged in both their expressions at the same time. Zhong Yan’s eyes lit up. He had found another way to persuade him. “That’s right, you went to see Councilor Cayman! Does he agree to this as well?”
“I haven’t talked to him about this.” Adrian kneaded the bridge of his nose, “You too…don’t tell him for the time being. I’ll talk to him personally when everything is prepared here.”
“You know he won’t agree to it, and the reason why you never told him is because you know he will try his best to dissuade you as well.”
“No, it’s just not the right time.” Adrian looked straight at Zhong Yan. “You won’t expose information about your temporary ally on the very first day we announce our plans to each other now, will you?”
These words blocked out all of Zhong Yan’s paths, so he could only agree. “No. Since that is the case, to each their own. The deer has not been hunted yet, so let’s not argue about how we’re going to divide the meat.”
Adrian disagreed with that metaphor. In his opinion, this was not a matter of obtaining interests for himself, but he knew that was exactly what Zhong Yan meant. He did not waste his energy on refuting him and agreed to disagree, nodding his head to a temporary truce.
That night, Adrian couldn’t fall asleep. Most of it was because the lights outside were lit the whole night through, and the faint glow of it seeping in through the cracks of his door implied that Zhong Yan did not return to his room.
It was already late at night, was Zhong Yan still working? Was he writing up a new plan, or dealing with the new situations that had risen today?
He couldn’t sleep anyway, so Adrian decided to just wake up, and go downstairs to find trouble with Zhong Yan. Just as he opened the door, he was shocked stiff by the person standing in front of it.
Zhong Yan was standing there, wearing his pajamas with the giant space rabbit prints. He had one hand raised as if he was about to knock on the door, but the door suddenly opened. It surprised him too, and he took a step back because of it.
“What?” Adrian asked.
“Oh, well…” Adrian began. He tried to put on a carefree look, but unfortunately, he was not very successful. No matter how you heard it, he sounded nervous. “I’ll be…leaving tomorrow.”
“Right. Didn’t I tell you? I’m sending you to White Aegis tomorrow.”
Zhong Yan nodded, and he spoke again with his eyes trailing left and right. “I just received some credits in my account these few days, and also saved up a little before. I’ll transfer four hundred thousand to you. Tomorrow’s the deadline, isn’t it?”
“No need, I’ll pay it,” Adrian casually responded when he saw how hard it was for him to even get four hundred thousand. “Why didn’t you choose a shop that made some money instead? You could have gotten some return. You just had to go and open a specimen store…Who still buys stuff like that these days?”
“It’s because it’s niche that it’s not eye-catching,” Zhong Yan explained.
“Capital aside, let’s just talk about that specimen shop in the Institution Star—In a school filled with eighteen or nineteen-year-olds, even a decent juice shop went down, so don’t you think it’s eye-catching at all for a specimen shop to survive four years without closing?”
Zhong Yan did not know why but he felt a little uneasy. Even he himself didn’t realize that his speech had started to speed up. “There’s a new batch of students once every three years, how would anyone realize that it’s been open for four years! And the teachers and professors aren’t that idle.
“What’s more…there’s actually a bit of income from the branch in the Capital…”
“Did you come upstairs to my door in the middle of the night…just to talk to me about the operating conditions of your specimen stores?” Adrian cut him off and said, “Are you getting nervous?”
“What? No, no, not at all,” Zhong Yan emphasized it over and over again. The courage he had managed to gather up before coming upstairs had all deflated just like that, but he wasn’t willing to leave just like that. After standing around for a while, he still said, “Today’s the last night. When you pay the fines tomorrow, when I leave Navi, we won’t have any personal dealings anymore, and there’s absolutely no possibilities for us anymore, right?”
Adrian didn’t know what he was trying to say, but he still responded. “Right.”
Zhong Yan tried to hint vaguely, “I just took a shower. Can I come in?”
“…What?” Adrian almost thought he had heard him wrong, but Zhong Yan refused to say anymore, and just looked at him from outside. Adrian slowly began, “Do you mean what I’m thinking?”
A faint red could be seen on Zhong Yan’s ears, but he tried to look as calm as possible. He calmed his voice and said, “Just for one night.”
Adrian did not respond, nor did he move away; he just stood there blankly.
He probably felt disgusted in his heart. Perhaps it was just for the sake of giving some face to his “temporary ally” at the very end that he didn’t tell him “scram”. Zhong Yan wallowed in shame and despair for a few seconds and finally determined that his idea of leaving behind a final memory was a terrible one. Softly, he apologized and turned to leave.
Before he could even reach the stairs, he suddenly heard the sound of footsteps coming from behind him. With the time it took Zhong Yan to turn around, Adrian had already reached him. Without a single word, he leaned down and hauled Zhong Yan onto his shoulders violently. Without stopping, he took him down the stairs, and opened the door to his original room.