First Published on Chaleuria
16.1 – There Is A Kind of Love That Leaves People Exhausted
Yao Yuan was woken by a knock at the door. When he opened his eyes he felt an unbearable headache. He sat up and looked around, unsure of where he was. He looked down at the nightgown he was wearing in a daze and an image flashed through his mind: him pinning Su Mu to the ground…
The knocking sound was still coming from the door. He shook his head to rid himself of the preposterous image and put aside the matter of whether it was a dream or reality. He opened the door and saw an attendant with a small food cart, smiling at him. “Sorry for disturbing you, sir. Your friend told us before he left to wake you at this time.”
“He already left?” Yao Yuan didn’t ask who the friend was; only Su Mu would have left him in such a high-class hotel. Had he come over, in the end? Yao Yuan wasn’t sure what he was feeling. A little gratified, but also a little frustrated.
“That’s right. He left very early in the morning. These are your clothes. They’ve been washed.”
“Thank you.” Yao Yuan took the clothes and told the attendant to put the breakfast on the table while he went into the bathroom to change. The image from before surfaced in his mind again, himself, holding Su Mu down… kissing him passionately… he admitted it shocked him. Regardless of whether it was a dream or reality, it was preposterous to him that he could, with Su Mu…
“Yao Yuan, you really have gone mad.” He gave himself a fierce punch, then took out his phone to call Su Mu. No matter what, he had to thank him for taking care of him last night.
He waited for a long time but Su Mu never picked up his phone. He smiled. At this time of day Su Mu would surely be at the office taking care of something. Forget it; let it be. In any case, they would see each other less and less in the future and those ridiculous dreams wouldn’t happen again. He walked out of the bathroom, took a few bites of the breakfast, and left the hotel. He looked at the heavy traffic flowing down the street and suddenly felt that he would miss it. This was his last day in S City.
The next day, when Yao Yuan left, all his brothers went to the airport to see him off. Even Jiang Luo, whom he had not seen in a long time, came. He was visibly thinner than before and Yao Yuan’s heart hurt for him. Yao Yuan clapped him on the shoulder and asked, “What have you been up to lately?”
Jiang Luo smiled, bent close to his ear and whispered, “I’m dating someone.”
Yao Yuan looked up in suspicion at his beautiful face, clearly disbelieving. “Who gets thinner when they’re in love? Don’t tell me your girlfriend’s making you diet.”
Jiang Luo’s face was still all smiles but his words were sorrowful. “Yao Yuan, there’s a kind of love that leaves people exhausted.”
“Then you might as well drop it.”
“You…” Jiang Luo patted his shoulder. “I hope you can be that cavalier when you come across it. Never mind. It’s better if you don’t.”
Jiang Luo sighed lightly. Whether it was good fortune or misfortune to meet such a love—neither he nor his boss could give an answer. As for Yao Yuan, who valued relationships even more, if he really encountered it, how would he casually let it go?
“Jiang Luo…” Yao Yuan wanted to console him but didn’t know what to say.
“I’ll be fine.” Jiang Luo threw an arm around his shoulder and smiled. “But you… you got Su Mu to treat you as a friend. That’s not easy.”
Yao Yuan smiled and said nothing. He remembered what had happened in the few months since he met Su Mu. To open that man’s hard outer shell and touch his true heart was certainly not easy, and to this day Yao Yuan wasn’t sure if he had accomplished it.
The airport’s PA system announced that the flight to G City was prepared for boarding. Zhang Chen and the others surrounded Yao Yuan, and Yao Qian stood to one side and reminded her brother of some miscellaneous things. They had always relied on each other and this was the first time they would be apart, so naturally she worried and kept feeling like there were many things she may have overlooked.
“Sis.” Yao Yuan cut her off. “For the first time you feel like an old lady.”
“What did you say, brat?” Yao Qian reached out to pull her brother’s ear, hard. “Who are you calling old? Who says such things to a pretty girl?”
“Sis, have mercy! I’m wrong, all right, all right?” In front of Yao Qian, Yao Yuan was a master at going with the flow.
When the others saw their antics, they couldn’t help laughing, and the heavy atmosphere of parting sorrow was lightened considerably.
“My brothers, if you’re free, go to the restaurant to visit my sis. All right, I’m going.” Yao Yuan took his luggage from Jiya’s hand, waved, turned, and left the city he had lived in for four years.
An hour later, Yao Yuan arrived at his hometown. He had no other family here, and his former classmates had mostly gone elsewhere to study or work. Here, Yao Yuan was alone. But the loneliness did not last long; he very quickly made friends with his colleagues at the TV station. The men liked that he was bold, reliable, and hardworking; the women liked his handsome appearance and attentive heart. The leaders of the TV station saw his sharp sense for news and his clear improvement day after day. A month later, they let him follow the journalists on their news rounds and started seriously considering keeping him on after his internship ended.
Yao Yuan enjoyed his life there. Every day he ran errands for the senior journalists, rushing to filming sites, occasionally attending press conferences, and going out to drinks and karaoke with his colleagues once in a while. But when night fell and he returned alone to his rented apartment, he felt lonely. He remembered many people from S City—Jiang Luo, Zhang Chen, Jiya… of course, the person he missed most was his sister. If not for how expensive long-distance calls were, he wished he could call her and report on his work every day.
He also thought of Su Mu, how they met, the arguments they had, every big fight and every make-up. And that night, and that preposterous dream… every time Yao Yuan’s thoughts arrived here, he forced them to a stop, then got up, found a cigarette, lit it, and fell into a daze… and he would be unable to sleep for the rest of the night.
Yao Yuan also started to investigate his father’s death and whether it really had been suicide. He had reasons to be suspicious; after his father had passed away, their house had been broken into more than once. The strange thing was that nothing had been taken. A month later, a friend of his father sent a package, saying it was his father’s old things: inside was an account book. At the time Yao Yuan couldn’t understand what secrets it held, but when he grew older, he understood that written inside was the darkest deal the Lin Group—where his father had worked—had made: an expense taken out to give a bribe. That was when Yao Yuan started to suspect that his father’s suicide was related to this matter.