Meng Fu had a biological clock. No matter the season, and no matter how late he stayed up last night, he would always wake up in the morning right at six o’clock on the dot. When he opened his eyes, his mind wasn’t fully awake yet, and his eyes were still a little puffy from his sleepiness.
After sitting on the sofa for a few seconds, and after his mind cleared a little, he wrote Ye Yan a letter, thanking him for taking care of Xiao Yi and himself. He wrote that he was going to work soon, so he was leaving first.
It was a desolate late autumn morning with the bleak sunlight illuminating the sky. He wore a long-sleeved T-shirt, and since he didn’t bring any money, he slowly walked home alone.
The cold wind cut across his face as if it bore cruel hatred. He was constantly rubbing his arms while crossing one street after another quickly.
At first, there were only a few people walking in a hurry through the sleeping city, and Meng Fu felt like they were all just like soulless walking zombies. Then, more and more people filled the streets, and a variety of sounds began filling up the empty city.
His body slowly warmed up while the sun peeked out from the thick clouds. A slight smile also emerged on Meng Fu’s face.
This type of smile was just like an illusion of a shell of happiness, but he didn’t care. This was enough for him, even if it was hardly the same as true happiness.
After walking for a long time, he began reaching for the keys in his pocket before he even arrived downstairs.
There was a black car parked downstairs from his house. It was very familiar, but he couldn’t be sure who it belonged to. He never paid attention to license plate numbers, so when he inadvertently walked past the car window, his feet froze in place.
The man behind the window was staring at him with cold eyes, just like a snake watching its prey, just waiting to release its fangs and inject them with its venom.
He couldn’t smile anymore. The faint smile on his lips disappeared as if it had been blown away by the autumn wind, no longer visible in the slightest.
He watched as Gu Ze got out of the car and stood in front of him. Then, out of habit, he lowered his head and greeted him respectfully, “Mr. Gu.”
After not seeing him for a month, Meng Fu seemed to have become thinner, but his cheeks were a little more rosy than usual since he had been walking. Gu Ze’s eyes went down to Meng Fu’s smooth neck, and he was just about to speak before he swallowed his words back down his throat again, even though he’d clearly thought up a lot to say while he was in the car.
“Mr. Gu,” Meng Fu called out to him again, “if there’s nothing you need, I’ll be going home first.”
If this was the usual time, he may have invited Gu Ze upstairs for a drink of water. However, he was afraid to do that now. He was worried that he would remember that night if Gu Ze were to enter his home, the night where he forced himself onto him.
Receiving no response from Gu Ze, he turned around to head upstairs, but it felt like there was a hungry predator behind him, ready to pounce at any moment.
Gu Ze stood there for a few seconds, watching Meng Fu’s thin back. Then, he took a big step forward as if he wanted to stick to him.
Suddenly, a set of keys fell to the ground with a crisp clink, breaking the illusion of silence.
Meng Fu didn’t dare to turn around. He even tried to squeeze out a smile. “Mr. Gu, do you need something?”
“Are you afraid of me?” Gu Ze stepped back a little, and the distance between them seems to have grown hugely in just a moment. “Meng Fu, that reaction of yours makes me really happy, you know?”
The back of Meng Fu’s shoe began to curl up slowly. Gu Ze knew that he must be tensing his feet.
Feeling giddy, all the hesitation and remorse Gu Ze had up to that point disappeared instantly. He stepped forward again and leaned his back against the wall, turning his head to observe Meng Fu. “Do you still remember how it felt, being raped by a man?”
He knew that Meng Fu wouldn’t give him an answer, and he didn’t expect him to give him one either. Whether he “remembered” or “not” was something that could not be erased in Meng Fu’s memory, and that was a fact. That alone was enough.
Meng Fu had been sweating a little on his trip back, and now that the temperature went down again, he felt extremely cold. The rosiness quickly disappeared from his cheeks and his face became pale again. He wished he hadn’t come back. He wished he had just gone straight to work. He knew it was impossible to evade Gu Ze, but a moment away from him was still a moment of relief for him.
Meng Fu wished that he had a shell just like a turtle so that he could shrink into it whenever he felt anxious. He had never been brave or fearless. He just wanted to be a turtle with a strong outer shell to protect him.
However, he didn’t even have the right to be a coward. He had no armor to protect him whatsoever in front of Gu Ze.
“Where are you working now?” Gu Ze continued questioning him.
“At a nightclub,” he responded honestly to him in a quiet voice.
Suddenly, Gu Ze retracted his smile. He didn’t think this man was actually working in a nightclub. “What, did you get addicted to sleeping with men after you got raped? So now you’re trying to find someone to hook up with at a club? Meng Fu, you really have no shame, don’t you?”
“It’s not that kind of job.”
“Heh.” Gu Ze sneered. “Fine. That kind of place suits you.” Just like how a place like prison suits someone like him. “Which nightclub is it?”
Meng Fu did not answer. Gu Ze knew the reason why. It was because he was worried that he would go over there and tell everyone he was a murderer. “You don’t have to worry about me going over there and telling everyone what a monster you are. It’s true, after all. In fact, I think it’d work out well for you. A pretty little killer is popular in places like that.”
As expected, he managed to get a reaction from Meng Fu. The latter turned his head around. “Mr. Gu.”
It was the same two words, but this time, it was filled with pleading.
Before Gu Ze could react, the neighboring couple who were in their fifties had just returned with their groceries in hand. They looked at Meng Fu and Gu Ze with odd expressions on their faces, then they shook their heads and muttered, “Young people these days…”
Their voices grew quieter and quieter near the end. Worrying that people would get suspicious, Meng Fu quickly picked up his keys and said to Gu Ze, “Let’s talk upstairs.”
As usual, Gu Ze walked barefoot to the sofa and sat down naturally. Then, he watched Meng Fu pour him a cup of water naturally before standing meekly at the side. Since he didn’t ask him to sit, he would just keep on standing.
“Which nightclub is it?” He asked again. As he said that, he casually leaned back on the sofa and crossed his legs as if he were interrogating a prisoner.
“Lover of the Night.”
“There, huh?” That used to be Di Jun’s territory, but after he went to prison, most of his power had been transferred. He had no idea if Di Jun was still managing that nightclub now, but Gu Ze thought about the message he received. No wonder Meng Fu was following Di Jun now. He made a guess, “I heard Di Jun was released recently.”
“Yes. Boss Di was the one who offered me the job.” Not knowing that Gu Ze was probing him, he answered honestly just like a prisoner.
“So are you with his gang now? Meng Fu, did you think that you’d be able to get rid of your past as a murderer and get rid of me, just by following Di Jun?”
“No.” Meng Fu shook his head. He stared at the cup of water. “I’m just going to work there normally. I’m not thinking about running away from anything.” Even if he wanted to run away, he would quickly remind himself, *Meng Fu. Don’t try to hide from it. If you made a mistake, then you had to wait to be forgiven.*
“Good. Not that you could escape it anyhow.”
The clock on the wall was turning silently in the living room. Meng Fu peeked up to check the time and said with some urgency, “Mr. Gu, can I go to work?”
“Nightclubs don’t open at this hour.”
“I’m handing out leaflets for a part-time job.”
“How much do you get a day from that?” Not at all caring about his urgency, Gu Ze asked him at a leisurely pace, “Are you that short of money?”
That’s right, he was very short of money. He needed money to take care of both Xiao Yi and himself, and he had to buy snacks for the children at the hospital. There was also He Manyu’s parents whom he had to visit from time to time.
“It’s ten yuan an hour. The more I work, the more I get paid.”
Gu Ze did not respond. After a few seconds, he said as if he were pardoning him, “Go work.”
Meng Fu quickly turned around and went into the shower, quickly washing up before running into his room to change. He didn’t even notice that Gu Ze was still sitting on the sofa while he hurried back and forth.
The man sitting on the sofa inclined his head to look at Meng Fu hurrying around the house. It was only ten yuan an hour, so how many hours did he have to work every day? Working just like a robot, does he even have the time to get tired?
Then, he saw the man walk out with his T-shirt only half on. That man never paid him any attention from start to finish, and he paused for only half a second before quickly pulling his shirt down to cover his body.
“Mr. Gu, I have to leave now.”
“What about breakfast?”
“There’s no time.” He quickly put on his shoes and prepared to leave. Seeing that Gu Ze still wasn’t moving, he said, “Mr. Gu, please shut the door when you leave.”