First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 14.1 – Parting And Deception
After New Year’s, the fourth-year university students started looking for internships. Yao Yuan had already decided to go to G City for work, so naturally he wanted to find an internship there too. At the beginning of March, the finance channel of a G City TV station accepted his application and told him to report for work in three days’ time. Yao Yuan discussed it with his sister and decided to go on his own. After he had settled down properly, Yao Qian would go over.
When Zhang Chen and the others got the news, they insisted on holding a celebration for Yao Yuan, who didn’t refuse. He didn’t have much time left to spend with his band of brothers and he wanted to cherish it properly. They would have as much fun as they could, and let loose as much as they could. That evening they picked S City’s famous Verdant Spring Hotel, and nobody held back, plying others with wine and being plied with wine themselves. But beneath the raucous atmosphere was concealed a sorrow no one wanted to touch: they were about to be parted, and this separation may be as unbridgeable as the gap between heaven and earth. They might never be able to gather everyone together again after tonight.
“Yuan-ge, I haven’t seen Young Master Su come find you in a while?”
Xiao Qiang’s words drew agreement from the crowd. Before, they had seen Yuan-ge and Su Mu together all the time, like Siamese twins, sauntering down the school roads and stealing all the girls’ hearts while breaking the hearts of many boys. But after the New Year, when they looked toward Yuan-ge’s figure, Su Mu was nowhere to be seen. Of course they found it curious.
Yao Yuan lit a cigarette, took two long drags and blew out a smoke ring before replying. “You think he’s as carefree as we are? When he graduates, he’ll have to take over the family business. Of course he’s been busy for the past six months.”
“That’s true. He’s an elite of society, and thousands of people’s livelihoods depend on him.” Zhang Chen sounded sour, and Yao Yuan couldn’t tell if it was envy or jealousy. “A couple days ago I even heard that he recruited the finance department’s top student Zhang Ran to the Su Group. Now Zhang Ran is going around flaunting himself. He deserves a beating.”
“I say, Zhang Chen, don’t get angry. That’s the Su Group, the employer of many people’s dreams! Yuan-ge, don’t go. We’re not done drinking.” Xiao Qiang glimpsed Yao Yuan pull open the private room’s door and tried to keep him from leaving. If the star of the event left, then what reason would there be to continue drinking?
“I’m going to the bathroom, all right?” With these parting words, Yao Yuan pulled open the door and walked in the direction of the bathroom. He didn’t really need to go, but his chest felt tight and he wanted to come out for some air. The early March weather was still a little chilly. Yao Yuan leaned against the wall some way down the corridor and lit another cigarette, but he couldn’t dispel his frustration. He silently cursed Su Mu, the bastard.
Just as Yao Yuan wasn’t sure how he had grown familiar with Su Mu in the first place, he also wasn’t sure how they had grown distant. He hadn’t seen Su Mu in the first three days of the new school term, so he gave Su Mu a call, but was told that he would be busy this term helping out at the company and basically wouldn’t be coming to school. After that, they had the occasional phone call, and Yao Yuan occasionally invited him for a drink, but four out of five times Su Mu said he was busy, and the one time he did come, he seemed distracted the whole time. It had only been a month, but Yao Yuan had not been able to see again the Su Mu who had said he wanted to be Yao Yuan’s lifelong friend.
As he finished smoking the cigarette it occurred to him that perhaps he should call Su Mu. He should at least let Su Mu know that he was leaving.
The voice on the other side of the call sounded tired.
“Are you still at work?”
“Yeah. We’re working on a new design project and I have to work a lot of overtime.”
“A TV station in G City accepted me for an internship and I’m leaving the day after tomorrow.”
The other end was silent for a while, then the reply came. “I see. I might not be able to see you off, as I have an important meeting that day.”
“I understand.” Yao Yuan tamped down on the disappointment that had suddenly rushed up and with a deliberate casualness said, “I’m with Zhang Chen and the others at Verdant Spring. Can you come over?”
“I’m sorry, Yao Yuan, but I really can’t leave now.”
“Got it. See you.”
“Yao Yuan…” As he was about to press the end call button, Su Mu suddenly called out to him and said calmly, “Don’t drink too much.”
Yao Yuan flinched slightly, and the emotions he had been suppressing for a month now erupted. “Surely what happens to me is nothing you have to worry about, Young Master Su.”
“Yao Yuan.” The voice on the other end was uncertain. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Yao Yuan realized that he was throwing a tantrum and hurried to explain. “I’m sorry. I’m about to leave, so I’m not in a good mood. That’s all. I’ll hang up now.”