World Hopping: Avenge Our Love
First Published on Chaleuria
Another big thing happened that night in Beijing.
Xu Muzhi’s Orchid Hotel had been unexpectedly sealed up. The reason for it was straightforward — indoor formaldehyde contamination above the allowed limits.
Formaldehyde levels above the allowed limits could lead to cancer. A hidden danger like this was something which absolutely could not be allowed in an establishment which was of standards high enough to apply for a six-star hotel rating.
Practically all of the people who knew Xu Muzhi and about the Orchid Hotel were shocked when the news was out. On Weibo, the news spread even more quickly.
# Problems Found in Highly-priced Hotel – The candidate hotel for a six-star rating, The Orchid Hotel, was found to have formaldehyde levels above the allowed limits on its first day of operations. #
“Woah, woah, holy crap! You call this a six-star hotel when the formaldehyde contamination levels are above limits? Did the relevant departments not do their checks before the launch date?”
“So scary! Just thinking about it scares me. Formaldehyde poisoning is one of the hidden causes of cancer too. One night there might be fine, but what if you’re unlucky?!”
“Ugh, such evil people. Hey, why does this President Xu Muzhi guy sound so familiar?”
“Of course he’s familiar. He’s the guy from a few days ago who made advances on a minor and got his balls kicked!”
“He’s scum, just like I thought!”
Xu Muzhi was under great pressure. Chu Rong’s later meddling to guide public opinion served to push Xu Muzhi further into the worst of the storm. Practically everyone knew that he, Xu Muzhi, had built a six-star hotel which could cause cancer in the end. There was no digging himself out of this grave!
Meanwhile, an investigation warrant was quickly handed down. Xu Muzhi had no way to ask for help, and failed to save the situation. With no other choice left to him, he went to Ludwig, hoping that his young Godfather would lend him a helping hand.
However, he had just walked through the door when he saw a scene which made his world collapse.
Song Yucheng had pressed Ludwig down on the sofa, and it looked like he was about to kiss him.
Xu Muzhi was thunderstruck. He stood in the doorway and didn’t know how to react.
He had actually misunderstood. Song Yucheng had pushed Ludwig down not because he wanted to kiss him, but because he had tripped on the carpet. Xu Muzhi was quite obviously shaken by what he had seen, however, and he could not hear Song Yucheng’s explanation.
This, to him, was just too terrifying.
He even wanted to ask Song Yucheng why. Song Yucheng could have Li Zhao or any other person in their circles and it wouldn’t matter… So why was it Ludwig? This was even more severe than a death sentence to Xu Muzhi.
How Ludwig acted towards Song Yucheng next made Xu Muzhi come to a realisation, and he finally understood why his plans had been failing. This was why. Ludwig had only to crook his finger to twist him about; there was no fighting him.
“You’ve sure made it in the world, Song Yucheng. No wonder you can expand your little business so much. You’ve got the backing of my Godfather.” Xu Muzhi finally got over his shock after a long while, and he moved forward with the intention of pulling Song Yucheng away from Ludwig.
Song Yucheng, however, dodged him quite deftly. He dodged him, and then deliberately sat even closer to Ludwig.
“Stop putting labels on me. Ludwig and I have a normal work relationship. As for what you’re imagining there… Well, believe it or not, your Godfather would probably get down on his knee right away and propose to me if I’m willing to let you call me ‘Daddy’.”
“Wh, What did you say?” Xu Muzhi was shocked by what Song Yucheng said, and he turned his head to look at Ludwig in reflex, to see if it was true. He got a confirmation from Ludwig.
“Yes, it’s true. I can propose to Song Yucheng at any time, so long as he’s willing.” Ludwig’s tone of voice was sincere, and his eyes had a lingering emotion in them. It was unclear if this was due to the intimate contact he’d had earlier, or because of the allure of the word ‘marriage’.
Xu Muzhi was stupefied by what he saw. He stared at them both and didn’t know how to react.
This was absurd. He could not understand how all of this had happened. He’d groomed a substitute, a plaything called Song Yucheng, but this Song Yucheng had turned the tables on him in a short span of half a year, and gifted him such a big present.
First, he’d bewitched the one Xu Muzhi had lusted after, and now he’d even toppled his Godfather. Judging from how Ludwig was all obedient to Song Yucheng now, it looked like he would give him everything he asked for. Xu Muzhi had been serving Ludwig for eight years now, and he had never seen him act in an amiable way towards anyone before.
What could this be if not love?
How laughable. He’d treated him as his plaything and now he was his ‘Daddy’.
He looked numbly at Song Yucheng, clueless as to how to address him. He looked at Ludwig, and got a look of disgust.
“Go home if you have no business here! And remember to prepare the papers for the transfer of the Xu Group’s work. From tomorrow on, the president of the Xu Group will be the eldest child of your cousin’s family.”
“Why?” A chill struck Xu Muzhi’s heart. His first thought was that Song Yucheng had been behind this.
Ludwig tossed a document file at him. “Settle the cases you’re involved in first before you ask me why.”
He had someone send Xu Muzhi out as soon as he was done speaking. Xu Muzhi was stunned as he held the document file in his hand.
In the file was the evidence of his tax evasion and bribery over the years. Every account was recorded clearly, and the last two words of the appendix told him very plainly that the originals of these documents had already been handed over to the relevant departments of jurisdiction. What was left was just to await the trial and final judgement.
Ludwig, through his actions, had just told him that he had been abandoned, and there would be no chance of him ever surfacing again. It was quite possible too that the rest of his days would be spent in prison, never to see the light of the free world again.
He finally understood that he was well and truly done for, and also finally realised what Song Yucheng had meant by him being cucked. He had clearly meant Ludwig.
Xu Muzhi’s demise came sooner than everyone had expected. They had guessed that it would happen when Song Yucheng’s guesthouse platform concept had far outstripped Xu Muzhi’s six-star hotel, but they had never guessed that Xu Muzhi would fall so fast, and be so utterly without recourse.
Even the person at the head of the Xu family had been changed to another.
Just why had this happened? This chain of events made people very curious. All of these events were not without Song Yucheng’s name being passed around too, and he became even more well-known in the inner circles of Beijing.
He was just starting out now, but he had already gotten the acknowledgement of the masses. Quite a few people were wary of him too, and they felt that he was not one they could afford to anger; they had to be prepared for the onslaught if they became his enemy.
What they did not know, however, was that Xu Muzhi, the one suffering from the consequences of his own actions, was the one who regretted it the most.
He was sentenced fairly quickly, since just the two counts of tax evasion and exceeding formaldehyde contamination limits were enough to put him in prison for ten years. But there was actually someone who reported him under suspicion of being a paedophile later in the proceedings. This person had exposed a summary of Xu Muzhi grooming substitutes over the years too. The stain on Xu Muzhi’s name could never be washed away with that revelation.
The public cursed him, the people around him ridiculed him, and even the other inmates in prison looked down their noses at him. Xu Muzhi was not a man but a cruel and unscrupulous scoundrel of the worst kind who even targeted children.
“No… I’m not…” He had lost count of how many times he had been hit. Xu Muzhi tried weakly to explain, but that only got him an even harsher beating. Fortunately for him, the prison wardens interrupted this humiliation, and handed him some notebooks.
“This is from someone on the outside. Read through them!”
Xu Muzhi took the notebooks. He glanced at them and a sneer appeared on his face. “Song Yucheng, you b*tch!”
He murmured curses under his breath and flung the notebooks away. Ha. Song Yucheng had caused him to end up in this state, and he was now giving him these love-filled pages? Did he take him for an idiot?
If Song Yucheng’s show of deep love for him was to put him in prison, then it would be best if all the couples in this world were unhappy!
With all his cursing, Xu Muzhi was not willing to read a single word. But he did read it all in the end.
There was no other reason. Life in prison was really just too monotonous. In the beginning, he had found it laughable. At thirteen, Song Yucheng had been so soft and immature in his speech that he was not worth notice. The labels of ‘benefactor’ and ‘saviour’ also made Xu Muzhi feel like a sham.
However, true feelings could not be faked. The confession on that day, that first summer day, and the hopes for the future when he was grown… Every word burned as it cut through his heart and melted his soul. The words detailing his toils in life, and the words of encouragement he gave himself, made Xu Muzhi’s heart ache uncontrollably for him.
This was the first Xu Muzhi knew of how exhausting Song Yucheng’s life had been. It was also the first time he realised how hard he had struggled. Losing his parents, being pressured by his scummy relatives, school violence, and worries about living expenses… all these were not burdens a boy of his age should have to bear, but Song Yucheng had borne them all.
Xu Muzhi’s heart of hate for Song Yucheng wavered. When he read the line ‘this man is my saviour’, his heart squeezed with a fine pain. He knew that Song Yucheng had not lied about this.
He read on, about Song Yucheng’s desperate hopes for adulthood, how he had prepared his gift so carefully to make his confession. Xu Muzhi abruptly felt like he could not turn the page. As one of the persons involved in the story, he knew well what was going to happen next.
‘I’ve woken up from my dream. I am just a substitute. There is no one in this world who will love me.’
The diary ended there. Tears were streaming from Xu Muzhi’s eyes. It was only then that he realised what he had lost.
He also understood why Chu Rong and Ludwig wanted Song Yucheng. Xu Muzhi’s great realisation was followed by regret, though it was too late. He had fallen for Chu Rong back then, and fallen so hard that he went looking for substitutes, because he had actually wanted a perfect lover. What he had never imagined however, was that Chu Rong was not that perfect lover. The substitutes were not either. Unnoticed in a corner, Song Yucheng had worked hard to grow up, and into the perfect one he had wanted.
But in the end… He had lost him.
The saddest thing for people was not the unattainable, but to have had something all along unnoticed, then lose it. Tears sprang instantly from Xu Muzhi’s eyes. Remorse choked him, made him unable to breathe.
He had spent five years with Song Yucheng, but fell for him in just an instant. But what was the use of that? There was no way he could have the love he wanted in his lifetime, and Song Yucheng would never forgive him.
Want to read ahead?
Avenge Our Love: advance chapters on Patreon!