Translator: O(n^n) oh baby
Quality Check: Kai
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter One Hundred and Eighty-Six: An Inescapable Past (II)
Fang Wanqing didn’t continue.
She stopped abruptly like an electronic device that had been unplugged. Her ash brown eyes aimlessly darting around were unnerving to watch.
Then, she pressed her cigarette into the ashtray and took out a pill bottle. She dumped out two pills and swallowed them with some tea.
“I’m getting old and my body can’t handle as much excitement as it used to. So, I’ll skip the beginning. Hurry up and ask me what you want to know.”
“If it was so painful, why didn’t you leave the research institute?” Yan Jin calmly asked.
“I left in my second year there and thought I’d never go back. Unfortunately, my father died from his drug addiction. With no family and money, I returned to the lab sixteen months later.”
Yan Jin’s eyebrows furrowed.
“Because my father owed money,” Fang Wanqing continued. “With him no longer around, I could only pay back his debts for him. If it weren’t for this, we wouldn’t be seeing each other right now.”
“How much did he owe?”
“After selling the house and borrowing some from my uncle and his wife, I still owed three thousand.”
Yan Jin was silent.
Three thousand yuan might have been worth more back then, but it was still just three thousand yuan. It was surprising that that amount could force someone to such lengths. Perhaps it was exactly because of this that Fang Wanqing always felt so financially insecure.
“I don’t mind if you want to make fun of me. The deadline the debt collector gave was just one month before I would receive my resident identity card. Because of this one month difference, I had to go back there. For three thousand yuan, I worked for the devil for another ten years.” [TLN: Citizens are required to apply for resident identity cards upon reaching sixteen years of age. This document is required for owning property, opening bank accounts, driving, etc.]
Fang Wanqing coughed twice and then pushed the ashtray away.
“I’m not saying this to win any sympathy. I’m only doing this to keep a promise.”
“I know.” Yan Jin nodded. “You’re a very respectable woman.”
Fang Wanqing laughed hollowly. “‘Respectable’? How laughable.”
“Everything about you is worthy of respect.”
“It’s been over ten years since the experiments. Thinking back on it now, everything seems more like a dream.”
Yan Jin’s expression changed.
“Nightmares are always followed by waking up.”
“If only.” Fang Wanqing gave a long sigh.
“Let’s stop talking about the past. It’s not a great topic for either of us. I asked you to come out today for more important matters.”
Fang Wanqing showed a trace of surprise. “Huh? Besides genetic engineering, what else do we have to chat about?”
Yan Jin really wanted to joke that interpersonal fate was really too miraculous at times. However, the next topic would be quite complicated for this woman who was already over fifty. It wasn’t suitable to crack such a joke.
“I heard that you have a son studying in Country M at University H.” Yan Jin got right to the point.
Fang Wanqing turned deathly pale when she heard this. She said with a trembling voice, “I know I’ve done many unforgivable things in the past. No matter what the punishment is, I’ll accept it without complaint. But, but, Little Hao is innocent. He’s that person’s son. He’s completely innocent.”
“Please calm down,” Yan Jin helplessly said. “I’ve already clearly stated that I’m not looking for atonement for what happened back then. The past is in the past. Please, at least have this much faith in me.”
Fang Wanqing nodded her head after a long time.
Only then did Yan Jin continue. “I came looking for you because I’ve been entrusted with a task by my beloved.”
“Your beloved?” Fang Wanqing was completely clueless where Yan Jin’s beloved fit into the picture.
“It’s your son.”
Fang Wanqing exhaled a breath of cold air.
“Don’t misunderstand. It’s not your biological son. It’s the other one.” Yan Jin understood that he’d misspoken and hurriedly added, “It’s your stepson, Xiao Yu.”
Fang Wanqing had heaved a sigh of relief when Yan Jin had said that it wasn’t her biological son. However, when she heard Xiao Yu’s name, her heart leapt up again.
“You’re saying, it’s, Xiao, Yu?” Fang Wanqing said one word at a time to confirm.
“That’s the one.” Yan Jin seemed softer at the mention of his beloved.
To Yan Jin’s surprise, Fang Wanqing didn’t seem to find it as unbelievable as he thought she would. Although she had an expression of surprise, it was more like some freak piece of news that she didn’t know whether to believe. It wasn’t like she was entirely unwilling to accept the news.
After a long period of silence, she joked, “…You’re sure you have the right person?”
“Absolutely. I got your information from him.”
“So that’s the reason. No wonder that child never tells me anything. I had thought it was because he saw me as an old woman left behind by the times.” Fang Wanqing revealed an expression of a crafty old fox. “Stop dreaming. I won’t agree to it. The Xiao Family must have a future generation.”
Yan Jin: …
If Fang Wanqing hadn’t been grinning so ostentatiously, he might have believed her words.
“Alright. Seeing that you’ve specifically come to pay me a visit for this, what else can I say? You both can go figure out how to handle the issue of a future generation. Surrogate pregnancy, adoption, or external succession are all possible options. Or, it’s fine even if you don’t want to raise a child. When the time comes, I’ll apologize on your behalf to Old Xiao. He won’t blame either of you.” Fan Wanqing laughed openly. “Furthermore, why should both of you care about what I think? If it were Little Hao, my words might have some weight. However, for that kid, what authority do I have to meddle in his decisions?”
“Actually, Xiao Yu is always concerned about what you think. That’s why he’s never agreed to marrying me.” Yan Jin tried his best not to show any resentment.
“My goodness. Why is that?” Fang Wanqing was shocked. “It can’t be that he thinks of me as an ultra-traditional old lady that can’t handle homosexuality in this day and age? Perhaps I’m a crazy old woman who refuses to listen to reason?”
Fang Wanqing recalled her last conversation with Xiao Yu and answered her own question. “Maybe it’s because I blabbed a little too much about marriage. But, never once did I forbid him to have a male partner. I only wanted him to be a little more serious in choosing a young woman. He’s inherited all the good traits from Old Xiao. I didn’t want him to make the same mistake as Old Xiao to marry such a heartless woman like me.
Her evaluation of her late husband was as high as her self-evaluation was low.
Her husband’s early departure was like a wound on her heart that refused to heal. She was reminded every day that the world’s best man had been done away by her.
Fang Wanqing felt that something wasn’t quite right and stopped. She looked at Yan Jin and suddenly realized something. “It seems that child isn’t quite up to Old Xiao’s level. Old Xiao married me and brought me into his family. He got thrown out of the family for it.”
Yan Jin rubbed his nose and responded politely, “I’ll treat him well. I’ll give him everything he wants.”
Fang Wanqing had been through a lot of hardships and wasn’t taken by his words at all. She said distastefully, “Don’t say that kind of stuff to me. I can’t accept your promises. Go settle your young people issues among yourselves. But, as that kid’s only elder, I do need to say one thing. Since you have so much good faith, when are you going to join the Xiao family?”
With some difficulty, Yan Jin said, “You might not understand, but equality is now the expectation. I won’t be joining the Xiao Family, and neither will he be joining the Yan Family.”
“You aren’t becoming part of the Xiao Family. Alright.” Fang Wanqing fiddled with her ring. “At least you’ll have some betrothal gift, right?”
Yan Jin had a bad premonition.
He wasn’t afraid of Fang Wanqing demanding a large sum of money. In fact, he would have preferred it. Issues that could be settled with money couldn’t be considered issues at all. To someone like Yan Jin whose net worth couldn’t be estimated by even the most fanatic gossip magazine reporter, an issue that couldn’t be settled by a check wasn’t even something worth worrying about.
However, sure enough—
“I only have one condition. Just this one.” Fang Wanqing looked very serious. “I want you to tell him the truth. Tell him how great his father was. Tell him about the plans between the Nan and He Families thirty years ago. Tell him your true identity.”
“I will,” Yan Jin solemnly promised.
“If you still love each other after that, there isn’t much that can separate you two then… Take this advice from an older person. Whether you listen to me isn’t important. I don’t have the authority. Right, is that kid willing to let me attend his wedding?” Fang Wanqing suddenly asked.
“If Old Xiao knew, he’d be very happy.”
Yan Jin’s perception was very good, and he seized the opportunity while Fang Wanqing was emotionally moved. “Xiao Yu always regarded you highly. He always wished for you to be his real mother.”
“No need for such niceties.” Fang Wanqing laughed. “I’ve exploited him for so many years. He probably doesn’t even want to waste time to hate me.”
“He’s never hated you. Me neither.” Yan Jin let out a deep sigh. “You’re a person worthy of respect. Even when you were hopelessly stuck in a world without justice, your soul always shone with humanity. Just like how you saved me back then, Xiao Yu also definitely received something precious from you.”
Yan Jin could understand the inferiority and self-hate deep within her heart. No one could possibly live on happily like nothing had happened with that kind of experience. However, so many years had already passed. He himself had gone from powerless child to an incomparably powerful man. The Nan and He Families’ fight had also come to an end. But, all the passing years couldn’t change Fang Wanqing’s heart. She was still the same young woman with her hopes and despair mixed up. In that numbing hell, she was a victim tormenting herself.
“You praise me too much. Aside from making sure he survived until his last college entrance exam, I haven’t given him anything,” Fang Wanqing said.
Yan Jin: …