The Long Chase for the President’s Spouse – Chapter 71: Because You Love Them
Quality Check: Tezuka
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 71: Because You Love Them
“What’s the point of it all?” Gu Zhun looked up, feeling a sense of anger flare into life at Zhang Heng’s words. It was clear to him that nothing could be achieved by seeing them. The love and hate he felt towards them had long been washed away by the passage of time.
“The point is that you want to see them. You have always loved them and you still do.”
I don’t… Gu Zhun’s retort died on the tip of his tongue. “… That’s not possible.”
“Why do you deceive yourself like this?” Zhang Heng could not understand Gu Zhun’s reaction, but he had no intention to force Gu Zhun into a decision against his will. He continued gently, “If you didn’t love them, you would not be so obsessed with the idea that our relationship would hurt me. You’ve always wished that you could have done something to prevent their breakup, haven’t you? Isn’t it true that you found their divorce so heartbreaking that you were afraid you would inflict the same pain on me one day? Doesn’t all this show that they have always been on your mind, and that you still care about them? The fact that you still feel betrayed proves that you haven’t stopped loving them.”
Gu Zhun kept his head down and stirred his coffee silently.
Zhang Heng sighed. Gu Zhun was in denial and it was clear that he was beginning to distance himself emotionally from everything. Zhang Heng made his way to the back of Gu Zhun’s chair and leaned in to whisper in his ear, “Tell me if you can’t deal with this by yourself. I will always be here for you.”
After a long pause, Gu Zhun finally nodded his assent.
Years ago, Gu Zhun’s parents went their separate ways after the divorce. His mother returned to her hometown and eventually started a new family with another divorcee and they had two children together. His father started a small business in the rural town he grew up in and never remarried. Gu Li and Gu Zhun never understood the reason for their divorce. There were no warnings that indicated the marriage was falling apart; as far as the siblings knew, their parents never fought. Although the family was poor, their father’s income was still enough to keep the family afloat. Despite the lack of material comfort, there was neither tension nor unhappiness in the family. What could have been the cause for the divorce?
Zhang Heng began to wonder about the same question after hearing the story from Gu Li. As he despatched his staff to track down Gu Zhun’s parents, he also instructed them to find out more about their past. The story unearthed by the staff was a sad one.
When Gu Zhun was eight years old, his father was diagnosed with an occupational disease and had no choice but to stop working. However, no one knew how long it would be before he could work again; it could be a month, or even years, before he recovered fully. Without his income, the family would be unable to make ends meet. The pressure was overwhelming since he was responsible for his children and his wife, who fell out with her family when she married him despite her family’s disapproval.
Gu Zhun’s mother was aware of her husband’s condition, but nothing could have prepared her for his decision.
“Let’s get a divorce so you can marry again,” he said one day.
She became hysterical. “Why?” she shouted at him in bewilderment. She had given up everything to be with him, sacrificing her family in the prime of her life to suffer through years of poverty and hardship by his side. What he was asking of her amounted to nothing less than a betrayal and it was completely unacceptable.
“No reason.” He took out a piece of paper from the pocket of his faded uniform, his callused hands shaking imperceptibly. “Just sign your name on this.”
“… Why? Am I not good enough? Have I done something wrong?”
Gu Zhun’s father was overwhelmed with guilt, but he could not bring himself to tell the truth – he did not want her to suffer with him anymore. When they first met, he was only an underpaid teacher in a rural village while she was a cultured high school student from a neighboring city who was visiting as a tourist. Despite having been his wife for years, she was still young and would have no trouble finding better prospects after the divorce. There would be other men who could offer her so much more than he ever could. She would never have to suffer again.
In the end, he could neither defend himself nor explain his decision, but she saw right through him. With tears in her eyes and bitter resentment in her heart, she eventually signed her name on the divorce papers – an elegant mark next to the plain signature of her husband.
She left with all her belongings soon after, erasing all traces of herself in the family; no one knew where she went. Gu Zhun’s father, on the other hand, bought a ticket for a bus headed for the mountains. His parting words to Gu Li were brief: Look after your brother; he is still very young. Girls don’t need much of an education… you are eighteen this year and old enough to work in town for a living. Be smart and keep your eyes open when looking for a man. Don’t settle for someone poor and useless…
Gu Li felt the air freeze around her as her father left. The only sound that she heard was the loud crash of the door as Gu Zhun rushed into the room.
This was a tragedy caused by poor education. Gu Zhun’s father did not make it to high school and was thus unaware of the transformative power a good education could have on an individual. He did not realize the magnitude of what he had said and done to Gu Li, who was still a child and needed just as much love and care as her vulnerable baby brother.
The report ended with the remark that Gu Zhun’s parents broke off all contact with each other. After the divorce, Gu Li and Gu Zhun never heard from their parents again.
The report confirmed Zhang Heng’s suspicions about the Gu family’s past. After reading the report, he began to plan his next move. It was obvious that the misunderstanding could only be cleared up if the family met in person and talked things through; the misunderstanding went too deep to be resolved through a mediator. Zhang Heng initially intended to take Gu Li along to the meeting with her parents, but she turned down the suggestion on the phone, “I’ve put everything behind me now. Besides, there is something important that I need to tend to – something that concerns my lifelong happiness!”
Zhang Heng was clueless about this important matter. Could it be… again? He shook his head to bring himself back to his senses. He, too, had more important matters to consider.
Since Gu Zhun finally agreed to meet with his parents, there was no time to waste. They decided to prepare some gifts to show their appreciation for all the help that the lady boss and the store manager had given them. However, when they finally made it to the store manager’s shop in Akihabara, they did not know what would be a suitable gift for him. Manga was probably the only thing he needed, but he was more of an expert than the two of them.
“You could help me attract some customers! Just stand outside and keep your hands on each other for a couple of hours,” the store manager suggested unabashedly. Since it was meant to be a thank-you gift, Zhang Heng and Gu Zhun agreed despite their misgivings.
At first, they simply stood around stiffly. The girls passing by stole looks at Zhang Heng and Gu Zhun, but did not approach the store. Instead, they whispered furiously amongst themselves: “Oh my god he’s so hot!” “Are they a couple?” “Maybe they’re fudanshi who are too nervous to go in…?”
After a short struggle, Zhang Heng loosened up and scooped Gu Zhun up in his arms, bridal style. Gu Zhun blushed while Zhang Heng remained unaffected as he called out to the passers-by, “Come on in and take a look!” Overwhelmed with embarrassment, Gu Zhun hid his face in the crook of Zhang Heng’s neck. Zhang Heng, on the other hand, continued to attract the attention of potential customers while surreptitiously groping Gu Zhun at the same time. Gu Zhun smacked his back in an attempt to stop his roving hands, but to no avail.
When someone eventually approached to ask for a photograph with them, Zhang Heng immediately seized the opportunity to promote his friend’s business, “Of course! All you need to do is to spend 19,900 yen at this store!” Immediately, the store was flooded with girls eagerly snatching up merchandise, doujinshi, and manga of all kinds before taking photographs with the loving couple at the entrance to their hearts’ content. Zhang Heng looked extremely pleased with himself as he watched Gu Zhun helplessly cover his face with his hand.
When the ordeal finally ended a few hours later, Zhang Heng and Gu Zhun bade their farewells. After Gu Zhun thanked the store manager politely, Zhang Heng leaned in to whisper in the store manager’s ear, “If you come across new titles about tyrannical presidents or pairings involving a loyal seme and a repressed uke, remember to mail them to me. I’ll need them for educational purposes.”
The store manager held up an ‘okay’ sign playfully to indicate his willingness to cooperate fully.
On their way back to the hotel, Gu Zhun picked out a small gift for the lady boss with Zhang Heng’s help. They passed it to her with a sincere bow to convey their heartfelt gratitude. She received it with a friendly smile and said, “You are most welcome. I hope you come back to visit Japan again.”
“We most certainly will!”