The Long Chase for the President’s Spouse – Chapter 75: Life on the Road (3)
Quality Check: Tezuka
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 75: Life on the Road (3)
The auntie continued: “I’ve been leasing this place from him for a very long time but during all these years, I’ve never seen him around the streets.”
“… How does he confirm that you’ve paid your rent? You transferred the money to his account. If he needs to use cash, he would have to withdraw it from the bank, which is just within this vicinity.” Zhang Heng pointed to the bank that was located from across several shops for Gu Zhun to see.
Gu Zhun glanced at Zhang Heng: “… Stop pretending to be Detective Conan.”
“Oh! You even know how to retort! You’ve improved!”
The auntie shook her head and handed them their takeaways. They took the food and made their way back to the RV.
The moment they got in the car, Zhang Heng said: “I have a feeling that your father is the auntie’s landlord.”
The staff from the HR and Logistics Department under Zhang Heng spent a lot of effort and yet, they were only able to find out that Gu Zhun’s father had a rental record. They were unable to find anything substantial apart from that.
“… What are you trying to say?”
“Maybe your father is still in this town.”
Gu Zhun shook his head in incredulity. His father should have left after the divorce. After all, this was a place that contained bitter memories. Even he and his sister left and moved far away to a much bigger city. Because of that, he met Zhang Heng when he attended Green Leaf West City District’s Junior High School.
“…” Zhang Heng suddenly recalled what his staff from the HR and Logistics Department discovered. A few months before Gu Zhun’s parents got divorced, his father went to the hospital a couple of times. Maybe he discovered that he had an illness and decided to leave his wife and kids in order to not burden them and to hide himself in plain sight? After all, it was impossible for other people to access hospital medical records. Moreover, they were files dated quite a number of years back.
Perhaps… the rent was transferred into a dead account… No, that shouldn’t be the case since there was a recent increase in rent…
Zhang Heng told Gu Zhun his own speculations. Gu Zhun nodded his head in acknowledgement but shook his head again in doubt. At that time, the divorce ended in such a tragedy.
Zhang Heng and Gu Zhun quickly ate the fast food in the car. Not only was the fast food unhealthy, it was also oozing with lard. Although there was meat, it was small in portion. It was quite unacceptable for Zhang Heng, who was used to eating healthy meals. He felt that food stalls in the city were much cleaner than small fast food restaurants in this small town.
“You don’t like it?” Gu Zhun asked Zhang Heng when he saw the latter frowning after having a few bites. Zhang Heng was too embarrassed to mention that he was a germaphobe and that he didn’t feel comfortable eating it… Gu Zhun was privy to Zhang Heng’s thoughts because seven years ago, Zhang Heng always reserved a seat and bought food for him at the canteen. At that time, Gu Zhun was roughly aware of Zhang Heng’s preferences.
Concerned with Gu Zhun’s health, Zhang Heng would always pick nutritional dishes for him. In the past, Gu Zhun’s head was occupied with assignment questions… Hence, he didn’t realize Zhang Heng’s thoughtfulness.
At the moment, Gu Zhun realized Zhang Heng’s kind intentions. He snatched the takeaway box from Zhang Heng’s hands and shut the lid before tossing it aside. Gu Zhun took out an induction cooker, a pot from the RV, and cooked him a bowl of beef ball noodles using solar power.
Although the soup was bland, being able to eat something warm made Zhang Heng felt deeply touched.
Zhang Heng held the bowl of steaming hot beef ball noodles and looked at Gu Zhun with a wide smile on his face. This was really touching and heartwarming. Was his relationship with Gu Zhun finally coming to fruition?
But there was still one last task that wasn’t accomplished—
It was such a pity…
Gu Zhun sat down and looked at Zhang Heng as he slurped down the noodles: “As a president, isn’t it bad for you to neglect your duties and accompany me to look for my father?
“Isn’t it too late to mention it now?”
Gu Zhun lowered his head. He still felt slightly apologetic towards Zhang Heng.
Zhang Heng raised his hand and rubbed Gu Zhun’s head. He gave a comforting smile and said: “It’s alright. For me to work with my heart pining after you would truly cause harm to my company. Don’t worry, I am capable. My staff is also really capable since it also includes you.”
Gu Zhun suddenly lowered his head. After all, it has been such a long time since someone praised him. During the examination period, his academic results were always within the top percentile but no one ever praised him for doing well. It was as though getting good results were expected. On the contrary, it would be abnormal if he didn’t score well and his position dropped.
In order to maintain this state of normalcy, Gu Zhun strived to maintain his scores and second position. Not too high and not too low was enough.
That was for the best… If his scores were too high, it would invite jealousy. If it was too low, he would be despised.
During the second year of junior high school, Zhang Heng heard that Gu Zhun still maintained his second position in the whole grade. Moreover, his overall scores remained constant with only one to two marks in discrepancies— He was comparable to the main character of the manga《Saki》as they were both able to keep their scores consistent.
“Is there a point for you to do this?”
“Yes. I did it on purpose.”
That was the answer Gu Zhun gave that year.
“If you like it, I will praise you often.”
“You won’t be able to gain anything from flattering me.”
“Hahaha—” Zhang Heng wiped away his tears from laughter. Gu Zhun really made a big improvement! He was becoming more humorous!
After their meal, they continued their winding journey on the road. Zhang Heng drove the RV to the top of the hill, where there was a village that seemed to be inhabited with people.
Gu Zhun alighted the moment Zhang Heng stopped the vehicle.
They stepped out from the vehicle and surveyed their surroundings. The yellow bricks were old and showed signs of age. There were chicken, ducks, cats, and dogs walking freely on the ground. It appeared to be untouched by any modern traces, except for the intermittent static sounds disrupting the music playing on an old vintage radio that was coming from inside those old houses.
Zhang Heng walked forward when he saw an old granny with grey hair sitting in front of a house’s wooden door and asked: “Hello granny, do you know if there is a man with the surname Gu staying here?
The old granny had bad hearing so Zhang Heng shouted in her ear once again before she finally understood the question. Toothless and unable to express herself properly, she raised her trembling hand and pointed towards the end of the village.
Everything here looked so lonely and destitute.
Zhang Heng held Gu Zhun’s hand and walked into the village. Zhang Heng was unsure how Gu Zhun would react to the situation. No matter what happened, he hoped that he would be able to protect Gu Zhun properly so that he wouldn’t get hurt. Moreover, Zhang Heng hoped that Gu Zhun would rely on him. He would always be there for him, waiting for the day that Gu Zhun would rely on him.
They continued to walk further into the village. Although there were still a few trees with lush, green leaves along the way, the yellow bricks still gave this place a stagnant feeling.
“How are you feeling?”
Gu Zhun nodded: “I’m alright since you’re with me.”
Yes, I’m with you.
Zhang Heng knocked on every door in the village. Those houses were either uninhabited and filled with cobwebs or the person living there wasn’t who they were looking for.
Initially, they were walking upslope. As they continued walking, it became downslope and it gradually settled into flat ground.
In front of them, there was a plantation filled with a variety of vegetables. Right beside the plantation, there was a simple and shabby house made with iron sheets and wood.
This scene was a far cry from what they had previously seen in the village. This plantation showed Gu Zhun and Zhang Heng that whoever who stayed here was someone optimistic and filled with vitality.
Zhang Heng knocked on the shabby house. They waited for a long time but no one opened the door. Zhang Heng thought that this house was uninhabited and even those plantations outside might have grown from the wild…
Suddenly, the door opened. The person who opened it was a middle aged man who had a lot of wrinkles and half a head of grey hair. His hand was also filled with calluses.
“Who are you looking for?” The middle age man asked as he poked his head out.
“I am looking for Mr. Gu.”
“… I am Mr Gu.” The man pushed the door open when he heard that they were looking for him. The sun outside shone on him, highlighting the whiteness of his hair and making it more striking.
“…” At that moment, Gu Zhun, who was hiding behind Zhang Heng, stepped out. The man in the house looked up and happened to meet Gu Zhun’s eyes.
Even though there had been many changes in their appearances after more than ten years, they were still able to recognize each other at a glance.
The father had gradually grown old yet the son had grown so big and tall. It was unexpected that his father would age so quickly…
Gu Zhun’s father didn’t hide when he saw Gu Zhun. He took out two small stools from the house and gave it to Gu Zhun and Zhang Heng. The father also took out a small stool and sat at the entrance of the door. He drank his tea and apologized: “It’s a little small inside and I don’t have cups for guests so I can’t offer you any drinks. Sorry about that.”
Zhang Heng waved his hand: “You don’t have to be so polite… Uncle Gu.”
Seated on the small stool, Gu Zhun kept his head down and didn’t speak. After meeting each other, Zhang Heng and Gu Zhun’s father were talking and asking each other questions for over ten minutes.
Zhang Heng intended to take the initiative to bring up the ultimate goal of their trip but Gu Zhun mentioned it first: “Why did you leave us?”
Gu Zhun’s father sighed and kept quiet. After all these years, let bygones be bygones. Why the need to cling onto such things?
Zhang Heng explained on behalf of Gu Zhun: “Uncle, the reason why we visited you was because I took the initiative and brought Gu Zhun along. Before that, he didn’t have the intention of coming to look for you.”
“Because I like Gu Zhun. I don’t want Gu Zhun to always guard his heart and suffer. This is way too painful for him!”
“You like my son? Two grown men?!” Gu Zhun’s father was furious the moment he heard what Zhang Heng had said. It was as though the vegetables that he planted were eaten by insects! But Gu Zhun wasn’t a vegetable that was raised by his father; he was raised by his sister, Gu Li— Furthermore, Gu Li had approved of Gu Zhun and Zhang Heng being together.