Translator: O(n^n) oh baby
Quality Check: Kai
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter One Hundred and Seventy-Three: A Storm Approaches
Xiao Yu took a deep breath.
“I remember when I was a freshman, I went to a class in place of my friend. When I arrived, not a single person was there. I had no idea what to do. But then, you passed by and gave me a tour of the entire college of design and its surrounding buildings.”
“That was because class selection for freshmen didn’t start until week four. I had made the same mistake myself long ago.” Lin Zhou also remembered the event, but he didn’t understand why Xiao Yu would bring this up.
“… That was when I thought, ‘The college of design… isn’t as unapproachable as I had imagined.’”
This time, Lin Zhou didn’t say anything. He silently listed to Xiao Yu’s story.
“The second time I met you was in a class only for design majors. You were the teaching assistant. I recognized you immediately. After class, I registered for my friend during the roll call, but then, I remembered that I had already revealed my name when I introduced myself in our first meeting…” Xiao Yu hid a smile.
“But you didn’t expose me. We shared a smile, and then it was as if nothing had happened.”
“That is my life’s biggest regret.” Lin Zhou also smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. It seemed like he was mocking himself.
“… I’ve wondered before: how could there be such a perfect human being with such good grades, such popularity, such a nice personality, to the point that even a person like me would be treated with such respect… All the activities in the college of design that I attended were because you invited me. Later, when I returned from overseas, I thought it was fate that I came across you again…”
“Would you like some wine?” Lin Zhou asked, but then he caught himself. “Actually, never mind. Even I wouldn’t believe that I don’t have bad intentions right now.”
Xiao Yu ignored him and raised his own voice. “You were the one who brought me around to all the buildings in the college of design. You were the one who cured my lack of self-esteem. You were the one who allowed me to sit in on a year of design classes. You were the one who established a link between me and Yan Jin, through which I got to know my lifelong mentor… I have never forgotten the favors you’ve given me. I’ve always wanted to repay everything I owe.”
Lin Zhou’s lip trembled. He opened his mouth, but no words came out.
“But I no longer owe you anything now.” Xiao Yu suddenly lowered his voice. “You hid my identity from Yan Jin and left him fruitlessly searching for me for seven years. I only got to know Yan Jin after those seven years. Consider my debt to you for recognizing my worth repaid.”
“You took my designs to curry favor with Yan Jin. I’ve verified with Yan Jin that there were a total of twelve works, enough for an entire series. I won’t pursue the matter any further. Consider my debt to you for educating me repaid.”
“You repeatedly plagiarized three of my designs and sold out company secrets. Calling you a traitor would be putting it lightly. I won’t expose you, but our friendship ends there.”
“Finally, you even tampered with my car. If it wasn’t for a freak combination of factors leading to an absolute stroke of fortune, my life would have even been given to you.”
“I no longer owe you anything, Lin Zhou.”
All the air he’d inhaled had finally been completely expelled. For a moment, Xiao Yu’s heart felt incomparably light, as if he’d finally written off all his gratitude and grudge against Lin Zhou.
The last time they’d met, it had been Lin Zhou that had spilled out everything regarding how he saw Xiao Yu. At the time, Xiao Yu hadn’t organized his jumbled thoughts properly. Thus, Xiao Yu had long waited for this moment when he could vent all his feelings to Lin Zhou.
“And about the time you spiked my drink with drugs, I won’t ask what you were planning to do. Without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But, I no longer owe anything more. We no longer have any relationship between us… There’s still stuff to be done for the exhibition. I’ll be leaving first now. I hope that aside from any work-related matters, our paths will not meet.”
These were the last words he left for Lin Zhou. When he was finished, he grabbed his backpack and headed out.
The untouched coffee had become somewhat cold.
A long time after Xiao Yu had left, Lin Zhou muttered to himself, “Whether we can stay unlinked is not up for me to decide.”
His gaze had not one drop of regret, nor did it have the emotion Xiao Yu’s had earlier. There was only a deep dark blackness.
Preparations for the conference so highly scrutinized both domestically and internationally weren’t proceeding too smoothly.
Xiao Yu had signed the contract secretly for his own personal motives and YL had successfully become the host for this exhibition. However, he never expected that this would completely expose YL’s weaknesses.
At such an exhibition that neither needed advertising nor could be used to rank participating companies, YL clearly lacked big-name iconic designers like the ones SI always had. All the top designers in terms of talent and experience were already monopolized by large corporations. No matter how fierce YL was, it was impossible to hire so many top designers at once.
At the eleventh hour, it was still Xiao Yu who had to come through to show why he was the ultra-talented super-genius.
With the help of Nan Wei and the powerful team behind He Xinjia, YL’s domestic product line had essentially become Xiao Yu’s personal exhibition. All of the designs originated from Xiao Yu’s own hands. Since Xiao Yu felt guilty for burdening the company, his work this time was superior to any normal masterpiece. With Yan Jin’s unrestricted and boundless support for Xiao Yu, the works submitted by SI and the other domestic design corporations couldn’t even be compared to Xiao Yu’s work. On the day of the exhibition, many industry critics were reminded of the time Yan Yixuan had thrust SI to the top of the domestic design corporations.
Speaking of Yan Jin, one way he demonstrated his boundless support for Xiao Yu was by delaying the conference for two weeks so that Xiao Yu would have time to finish his designs. Through a friend’s identity, Yan Jin had taken control of the overseas sponsor and the organizing responsibilities. Yan Jin had essentially become responsible for organizing the entire exhibition himself. It wasn’t hard for him to use this power to push the conference out by two weeks.
Xiao Yu had been going crazy thinking that he wouldn’t be able to get things finished in time. When he’d heard the news that the conference had been delayed by two weeks, he’d happily climbed into bed to get some sleep. When Yan Jin had grabbed him to start some foreplay, Xiao Yu had very testily pushed him away.
Xiao Yu had no idea how wronged Yan Jin felt with his hard work behind the scenes going unrecognised.
The successful exhibition further boosted YL’s domestic reputation. It foreshadowed their intent to enter the world stage. Soon, news came that Yan Jin was in talks with famous entrepreneurs around the world, further reinforcing the general belief that YL was preparing international plans.
On the second day after the conference ended, a stupendous piece of news was released.
This news came at almost the exact time YL’s official blog announced Yan Jin was boarding his international business flight. Less than two hours separated the times that these two news reports were released.
The twenty-one-year-old chairwoman of NN, Nan Chan, announced her engagement with Yan Jin.
Originally, NN had been a clothing design corporation that had nothing to do with YL. One was the best in the clothing industry and the other was an outstanding jewelry design corporation. Although it could be said that they couldn’t be too dissimilar as both were design companies, in the last ten years, NN and YL had never had any business interaction. In fact, NN had actually collaborated with SI before. Of course, this was related to YL’s previous decline. Before Yan Jin had returned from overseas, the Yan Family had never dedicated much attention or energy on the design industry.
This was only the first correspondence between YL and NN, but it was already extremely shocking. Not only did the respective circles of each side explode, but the shockwaves rocked the entire industry.
It wouldn’t be so significant if it were a marriage between normal people, but this was between Yan Jin and Nan Chan. They represented more than just themselves; the families and corporations behind each of them were also at stake. Furthermore, the announcement was released through the company, indicating a business intent as well.
The blog announcement came out at eight thirty in the morning. Included in the announcement were pictures of clasped hands adorned with engagement rings. It gave people an impression of a newly inseparable relationship.
It seemed like it was already set in stone. It was unclear whether there was some deliberate manipulation at work, but all the forums were filled with sincere well-wishes. The announcement was re-shared by many famous bloggers as well with their blessings.
News outlets jumped into action as well. The Nan Family’s Nan Chan had already agreed to a press conference, but there was no reaction from Yan Jin’s side. Naturally, reporters also leapt at the opportunity to interview the other protagonist.
Just when all the media outlets were contacting YL, YL released an announcement on their official blog at a quarter past ten in the morning.
It was such an innocuous and normal announcement, but the timing of it released a thousand shockwaves like a giant stone crashing into a lake.
The official blog posted that Yan Jin had boarded his flight.
It didn’t immediately seem like a problem, but it couldn’t stand up to further examination.
It was less than two hours since NN had made their announcement. What was Yan Jin doing at that time? Probably catching his flight!
It wasn’t crazy to think so. It wasn’t too much to say that catching a flight required at least two hours, right?
This time, Yan Jin hadn’t taken his private jet. In contrast with someone of his standing, he’d booked a standard economy seat on a flight that anyone could check the status of. If someone really wanted to, they’d be able to find out that Yan Jin was already waiting at the departure gate a little before eight in the morning.
If YL’s chairman was traveling, the ticket would have been purchased long ago, right?
Was it a coincidence that NN had announced Nan Chan and Yan Jin’s engagement at this time?
Even ignoring the issue of the announcement timing, it was easy to conclude that the pictures in NN’s announcement weren’t posted immediately after they were taken. It was likely that they weren’t even taken today. The photo studio that had taken the pictures was a two hour car ride away from the airport. Was it really possible that the photo studio opened at four in the morning? Even if they did, would Nan Chan and Yan Jin really go to take pictures at four in the morning?
But then the issue was, if the pictures were ready long ago, why did they wait until now to release them?
Looking a little deeper, whether intentionally or by coincidence, Yan Jin had avoided the topic. But the engagement—
Was it real?
Now that he’d resolved this major issue so effortlessly, Chairman Yan’s lips curled upwards as if he’d thought of something amusing.
The passenger next to him asked the flight attendant for a blanket.