Meng Fu’s hand shook slightly as he held the key, standing in front of the door. It was a tremor he couldn’t control. Worrying that Gu Ze would see through his weakness, he quickly opened the door.
“Come in,” he said.
But only after Gu Ze took off his shoes did he realize that he had no extra slippers for Gu Ze to wear at home. Meng Yi had already quickly changed into his slippers, grabbed his clothes behavingly, and went to shower.
He took off the slippers he had already put on and put them down by Gu Ze’s feet. “Here, wear these.”
Gu Ze looked at the pair of bare feet on the ground. They were very fair, even more so than any girls’ he had seen, and they also looked very delicate. He couldn’t help but pay more attention to Meng Fu after what Chief Liang said to him.
Bright doe eyes, and delicate features. Looking closely at him, he was even prettier than a woman.
He seemed to understand why men would desire other men, but at this moment, he was completely scrutinizing him and didn’t feel the slightest hint of desire.
Gu Ze moved his own feet to the pair of slippers. It was an extremely cheap pair of shoes, probably bought from a market stall. The dark blue sandals looked like the type that older men wore.
Gu Ze put on the shoes hesitantly. They were slightly on the small side and left his heels hanging off the edge. He hadn’t worn them for more than a few seconds before taking them off again and walked barefooted on the floor. “They’re too small.”
“Sorry, we don’t have any other slippers.”
Gu Ze ignored him and went straight to the sofa. “It’s hot. Aren’t you going to turn on the air conditioner? Oh, you probably can’t afford it, can you?”
Yes, he was in fact unable to. Due to their tight living conditions, he wouldn’t turn on the air conditioner until everything got too hot in the house. However, Gu Ze was here today. “I’ll turn it on immediately.”
“Meng-Meng, I forgot my towel!” Meng Yi’s voice came from the bathroom. Meng Fu put down the remote control and quickly went to the balcony to collect a towel and handed it to Meng Yi.
When he turned around, he saw Gu Ze playing with something on his cellphone and didn’t seem to have any intention of leaving. Who knows what he had come here for?
But Meng Fu figured he was likely here to see how rough his living conditions were.
And this was probably the scene he wanted to see.
“Here, water.” He put a cup down on the table—only then did he see that Gu Ze was playing tile-matching games for kids on his phone.
How a man like him could have such an unexpected nonconforming side felt so strange that he couldn’t help but peek at him, only to see Gu Ze with his eyes down, picking up the cup and taking a sip, eyes never looking away from the screen.
Perhaps he may not even realize what he was drinking at this moment.
Meng Fu thought of Brother Di Jun from prison. To think even a fierce guy like that would read Naruto.
“What are you looking at?”
Gu Ze’s voice was gruff. He didn’t look up and was still tapping non-stop on the phone.
“Nothing. I’m going to cook a bowl of noodles for Xiao Yi. Do you want a bowl, Mr. Gu?”
Gu Ze changed his sitting position and leaned back onto the sofa. Perhaps it was because the sofa was too stiff, but he had to readjust his position several times.
Meng Fu was cooking noodles in the kitchen and had cooked two fried eggs specially for Meng Yi. The boy was currently going through puberty and would get hungry easily. He also stayed up too late playing the piano.
The sound in the bathroom gradually turned quiet. Meng Fu knew that Meng Yi was almost done.
“Meng-Meng, did that big brother leave yet?” Meng Yi stood next to Meng Fu, whispering in his cartoon pajamas. He couldn’t understand why that big brother followed him and Meng-Meng home.
“No, he hasn’t.”
“Why isn’t he leaving?”
“He wants to rest at our place for a bit. He’ll leave soon,” Meng Fu responded while adding scallions to the bowl.
Meng Yi’s mouth was practically watering at the sight of the food and instantly tossed the matter to the back of his head. “Meng-Meng, there’s my favorite fried eggs!”
Meng Yi carefully carried the bowl of noodles over to the sofa, only to find Gu Ze lying across it, leaving no other space at all on the small sofa.
“You stole my seat!” Meng Yi roared in anger.
But before Gu Ze could react, Meng Fu had already begun coaxing him in a soft voice, “Shh, it’s okay, Meng Yi. Why don’t you go eat at your brother’s desk? I’ll let you take a look at my comic book.”
“Is it Naruto?”
“Yes, it is.”
Sure enough, Meng Yi obediently left for the desk. At that moment, Meng Fu was glad that Di Jun had given him those two comic books as a memento.
Gu Ze’s eyes finally moved away from his phone, or perhaps he had never fully put his attention on those childish games to begin with. With narrowed eyes, he watched Meng Fu bring Meng Yi into the room and listened as he spoke gently to him as if he were coaxing a young child.
He thought to himself that it would’ve been great if this murderer could have gotten off his car to save Manyu.
Unfortunately, this seemingly meek man just left her to die.
“There’s no worse feeling for a straight man than getting done by another man.” Chief Liang’s words at the dinner table suddenly surfaced in his mind, then an idea suddenly sprouted.
Just like weeds, it grew uncontrollably. He couldn’t believe it—how could he have such thoughts? He clearly didn’t have the slightest desire for another man.
The game on his phone was already showing the ending screen, but he was still stuck on the same interface.
As his thoughts grew further away, they could no longer be reined back.
When Meng Fu returned to the room, he found Gu Ze staring at him with a strange gaze. As if he were observing a performing monkey or watching a joke play out, like a thorn in his eyes.
He stood at the side, not knowing what he should do because Gu Ze was just staring at him silently. Feeling a little uneasy, he took a step back.
Meng Fu could feel an awkward atmosphere permeating through the small living room, but unfortunately, Gu Ze didn’t feel it in the slightest.
So, he could only stand there in silence.
He remembered the high school days when students would be punished to stand outside in the hallway with their chairs raised over their heads when they made a mistake. Right now, he felt just like one of those kids.
Gu Ze did not say anything. He remained silent along with him as well.
After a long time, when his legs were growing slightly numb, he finally heard Gu Ze speak.
“Aren’t you going to take a shower?”
This question came out of nowhere and he had no idea why he had been asked this. Gu Ze hadn’t left yet, so how could he, the owner of the house, leave to take a shower first?
“Meng-Meng, I’m done.” The door to the room opened. Meng Yi came out with the empty bowls, a happy look on his face as he handed them to Meng Fu. “Meng-Meng, look! I finished everything!”
“Yeah, good boy.” Worried that Meng Yi would yell at Gu Ze again, he quickly pulled Meng Yi to the bathroom to brush his teeth. “Be a good boy and brush your teeth after you’re done eating, then go to bed. Okay?”
Meng Yi was pushed towards the room in a hurry. After the door to the room was closed, Meng Yi’s voice could still be faintly heard trailing on, “Why is that big brother still…”
When Meng Fu was done putting Meng Yi to bed and came out, he saw Gu Ze on his phone again. He was originally thinking of washing the dishes to pass the awkward time, but unfortunately, he had just taken two steps when Gu Ze stopped him.
“What is it?”
“Take off your clothes.”
Gu Ze said those words in a light and simple way, as if it was as simple as drinking water. But the words he said were completely incomprehensible to Meng Fu.
“But, Mr. Gu…Why?”
Gu Ze’s lips curled up into a smirk. “I heard it’s normal for men to do this and that with another man in prison. After being in there for seven years, you’ve probably done it a long time ago, haven’t you?” He could see anger faintly brimming up from under Meng Fu’s eyes and a pleasant feeling washed over his heart. He went on, “I don’t mean anything else about it. I just want to see what’s different about people like you.”
“I’ve never had sex with another man.”
Gu Ze’s grin widened further. “You think I’d believe that?” Then, the smile on his lips dimmed and his bearing turned grim. “Strip.”
“Mr. Gu…” His voice was trembling. He clearly knew that Gu Ze had already begun turning to other ways in order to exact his revenge. It was as if he constantly had to receive new mental blows in order to appease him.
Suddenly, blood-red flashed before his eyes.
He thought of He Manyu and her unborn child again.
“Mr. Gu,” he repeated, his voice filled with a trace of pleading.
“If you won’t strip, I’ll do it for you.”
This man wanted to torment and humiliate him, and he deserved all of it.
His fingers stopped at the hem of his shirt for just half a second before he took his T-shirt off quickly. Gu Ze eyed his bare body, fair skin, and finely-shaped collarbones. He had a thin layer of muscles on his abdomen, but his body was just a little too thin.
Just one simple word. If he wanted them off, then so be it. When they were off, he’d realize that there was no difference between him and any other man.