A looming silence accompanied Li Shi Qing and Xiao Li as they sat in the back seat of the car together on the way back to the city. The driver was a robust man in his prime of life–who has been working for Li Shi Qing for many years now. Normally, he also acted as his confidant and personal bodyguard. And, although he had that kind of strong physical strength, he could also discern body languages as well. Therefore, upon noticing the change in the atmosphere, he promptly kept silence during the entire ride.
Soon the car entered the city and Li Shi Qing finally began to speak.
“Do you know that you’re wrong or not?”
At that moment, Xiao Li was staring out of the window at the passing scenery; his mind was wandering off somewhere else. But once he heard those words, it interrupted his roaming thoughts causing him to turn around.
“I know I’m wrong, Qing Ye.” Xiao Li whispered.
“Where were you wrong?”
“I shouldn’t have disregarded the gang’s position nor acted of my own free will.”
“I should have fully grasp the situation before taking action and casing Han Jia to sustain injury.”
Li Shi Qing turned to look at Xiao Li. As his eyes traced his face up and down, it immediately fell on the palm print that caused his face to swell. He reached out to touch it, letting the heat warm his palm before he sighed.
“The last thing that you should have done was to place yourself in such a dangerous situation.”
Xiao Li leaned his face slight to the side as to avoid the touch. “I’ve broken the gang’s rule. Please punish me Qing Ye.”
Li Shi Qing did not take his hand back. He continued to look over at his own fingertips that lingered on the side of Xiao Li’s face. Then he suddenly asked, “When you went to save Han Jia, you never intended to come back alive, did you?”
Since Xiao Li did not say anything, Li Shi Qing also did not force him to answer. His hand simply retreated before he continued to speak, “You’re very disobedient this time. If I don’t punish you, people will say Qing Ye doesn’t know how to handle his men. Go back yourself and check things out. Take half of the Eastern territory and hand it over to Yan Ming.”
“Yes, Qing Ye.”
The car came to a slow stop as they arrived at Xiao Li’s residence. Xiao Li was about to get out of the car and bid his farewell to Li Shi Qing when Li Shi Qing suddenly took hold of his hand.
“Xiao Li, what we talked about before. You should think it over carefully.”
Xiao Li withdrew his hand and said, “Qing Ye, I’ll take my leave first.”
During the entire exchange, he did not turn his head around to look at the car.
In mere seconds, the car slowly started to move. A willful smile tugged at his lips as Li Shi Qing looked at the hand that had just gripped Xiao Li’s hand. Then he pulls out his cellphone to make a call. The call tone rang for a quite a while before it went through and the person on the other side only managed to grunt out ‘hello’. It was a rather lazy voice, quite possibly a bit annoy as the call might have interrupted something good.
“Yan Ming, Xiao Li violated the gang’s rule. I told him to give half of the eastern territory to you. Remember to get in contact with him.”
The other side went silent for a moment before the sound of laughter came through.
“Only half, Uncle?” Yan Ming’s continued to laugh in between words, “I thought you’ve finally lost control and fuck him already. Really now, if you had messed with him back then, it wouldn’t be like this now.”
“Wouldn’t be like this?” Li Shi Qing comfortably lean back against the seat. “There is nothing to be done if it’s like this. All these years, he has done his best to climb the ladder. The higher his position is, the more useful he is. Does this make you even more worried?”
“Do you think I can’t do anything about it?”
Li Shi Qing faintly smiles, “Xiao Li is useful. But, then again, when have I lacked useful subordinated? If I really want to force him into a corner, there are plenty of ways for me to do it.”
“Then, that’s something I don’t understand really well……Don’t tell me, you want him to willingly submit?” Yan Ming went quiet for a moment, then he started to laugh out mischievously again. “Perhaps, if someone with an outer appearance like him were to willingly accept, I think he will……”
“Do you really understand?” Li Shi Qing looked at that same hand again, then lightly rubbed his fingers together, declining to say anything else afterwards.
“No, no, I don’t understand anything.” Yan Ming seemed to be shock by the underlying message that the tone of his voice brought about. He quickly said, “Anyways, I’m not like you Uncle. You devour both men and women alike. I’m not fond of that so what would I know huh? Let’s talk about the main topic. The eastern territory you spoke of, what do you plan to do with it? If you plan on giving it back to him in the future, I’ll have to mentally prepare for it.”
“Use it like you had before.” Li Shi Qing laughed, “Let’s see how capable you are.”
Once Xiao Li arrived at his residence, something felt strange when he unlocked the door with his key. As he slowly opened the door and walked in, he saw someone’s shadow sitting upright at the sofa waiting for him.
“Xiao Yang?” he asked, a bit surprised.
Xiao Yang stared at him as soon as he entered the door. His eyes were on him for quite a long time before he sighed and casually said, “Didn’t you give me a spare key before?”
It was true, Xiao Li had indeed given him the key before. At that time, he had just purchased the place with the intention of living together. But, even when Xiao Yang hatefully refused, Xiao Li still stubbornly sneaked the key into his pocket. When he asked about it a few days later, Xiao Yang informed him that he had thrown the key away already.
Xiao Li gave Xiao Yang a quick glance and without revealing anything else, he walked over and sat at the seat in front of him.
“Is something wrong?”
There was hesitation in Xiao Yang’s eyes before he carefully spoke, “I want to tell you something. I want to go work in another province. The company I’m working for now can transfer me there.”
“Oh.” Suddenly, Xiao Li couldn’t stay still in his seat so he stood up went to grab two glass of water, then made his way back. “You and your girlfriend……”
“It’ll be like that first.” Xiao Yang picked up the glass of water for a drink. “Qi dage is not willing to let Susu go to another province. We’re still young, there’s a lot of time for us in the future.” He paused then said, “As long as our feeling does not change, there will eventually be a solution for us.”
“How about I……” Xiao Li had only said half the sentence when Xiao Yang lift his eyes to look at him for a moment. Xiao Li changed his statement, “When are you leaving?”
“In two days,” he Xiao Yang while his eyes remained on his brother. “I don’t have any plans to come back here in the future, unless it has something to do with Susu.”
Xiao Li could only nod his head, “I understand.”
The two remain silent for a long time. Xiao Yang looked left and right at the place he had never stay in before.
“Do you……normally live here alone?” he asked but, as if trying to cover up something, he immediately added, “Susu told me before, when Qi dage was here it was very luxurious with servants and other grand things……”
Hearing those words, Xiao Li smiled, “It was just a setup at that time. I’ve never talked with an educated or refined person like that before so I didn’t know what to do to give him a good impression.”
Xiao Yang’s eyes hung low, then he said in a low voice, “Thanks…”
Xiao Li was dumbfounded. He wanted to say, there was ‘no need to mention’ it or ‘don’t be so courteous’. But, instead all he could do was pull out a stick of cigarette from his pocket. He tried to lit the cigarette, but the lighter would not corporate with him. After a few more seconds, the cigarette was finally lit with much difficulty. Surprisingly instead of smoking it, he pressed it against the table and let it die out.
During the entire process, Xiao Yang remained silent. His eyes followed Xiao Li’s actions from start to end. Finally, unable to take the silent, he fished out a bankbook from his pocket.
“This is the money that you transferred into my account.” He lightly placed the bankbook on the small table sitting in between them. “I don’t want it.”
“If I give it to you, just take it.” Xiao Li shift his gaze elsewhere.
Xiao Yang still did not raise his head; his finger gently trace along the design on the bankbook. There was an intense resistance in his mood and voice as he spoke.
“You’re blaming me, aren’t you?”
Xiao Li frowns, “What did you say?”
“You transferred so much money over, did you plan on not coming back?” Xiao Yang control himself as he slowly asked, “You were going to throw your life away just to save Han Jia? Is he that important to you?”
Xiao Li could only honestly answer back, “He’s my friend.”
“I’ve never liked any of your friends.” Xiao Yang said, “Nor have I ever thought that any of them were truly your friends. I look forward to the day all of them die one by one. When I gave Han Jia up, I didn’t hesitate at all. Not even a bit.”
Hearing such harsh words, Xiao Li couldn’t help but to grit his teeth. There was a bit of anger in his voice as he spoke, “Are you done talking? Is there anything else?”
Xiao Li lowered his voice, “I didn’t come here to criticize you. I…I didn’t know how important Han Jia was to you.”
That sentence was almost like an apology in disguise. Just hearing it, Xiao Li froze for a moment.
“You’re blaming me, aren’t you?” Xiao Yang asked again as he buried his face into his hands. Feeling moved emotionally, his voice dropped even lower. “If you’re blaming me, then just tell me! You never say anything! You suddenly wanted to join the underworld without saying a single word to me. And even when you came back covered in blood, you still wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know any of those scoundrels in your gang. I only knew of Han Jia because he came looking for me himself!” Xiao Yang’s voice slowly increase. “Do you remember, that one time I personally saw you beat someone? You were so vicious, just like that person who came to mom’s funeral. I was so scared back then. You obviously saw me standing there to the side. But, on the way back home, you still didn’t explain anything at all! Xiao Li, have you ever thought of how scared I was? You suddenly changed into such a fearful person, what did you expect me to do?”
Xiao Li remain silent as those memories flooded back into his head. The memories of Xiao Yang stubbornly flinging his hand off; Xiao Yang trying his hardest not to cry; Xiao Yang looking at him with hate and disgust in his eyes; Xiao Yang coldly shutting the door in front of his face, locking him outside. He knew that Xiao Yang was scared; he knew that Xiao Yang was helpless and weak, but he was also helpless. Because, at that time, he was also strangled and trapped by that same agonizing fear. Much worse, he didn’t even know how to save his own soul.
However, by the time he finally became used to that fear and was able to breathe better, with a slight peace of mind, things had already changed for the worse. Xiao Yang had irrevocably matured into someone that hated him.
All he could do was either remain silent or apologize.
He let out a long sigh, then said, “Sorry.”
“I don’t need you to apologize!” Xiao Yang’s loud voice echoed in the room. A flicker of light streamed into his eyes, “I just don’t understand, why haven’t you told me! Even now you…you still haven’t told me! When Susu and I ran off, you were so angry. You hit me. You threatened me. But, still you didn’t say anything! Why is it that, I always have to hear about your affairs from someone else? Do you think that it’s good to treat me like that? Even as I hated you, how are you still able to be indifferent about it?”
Xiao Li’s brows wrinkled together, “What affairs are you talking? Who spoke to you about those things?”
Xiao Yang did not directly answer his questions. He only use his sleeves to wipe his eyes, then looked straight at him and asked, “About mom, that old boss of yours and……those things, why have you never talk to me about them? You rather talk about it with a stranger than me!”
“Qi Xiu Yuan?” Xiao Li said intuitively.
Xiao Yang forced a smile and laughed bitterly. Then he quickly asked in succession, “How do you know for sure? Did you only talk to him about it? How long have you known him? Is it longer than I’ve known you? Do you think I’m really that useless? Is it fun making me hate you for all these years? If no one told me, were you going to let me hate you for a lifetime?”
Listening to all those questions come out one by one, Xiao Li suddenly felt stunned. In the end, all he could do was let out a sigh and look squarely at Xiao Yang. There were so many thoughts swarming his brain, he tried to search around for the correct words to explain himself.
“Those things……I didn’t think too much of them. At that time, I only took one step at time. In the beginning, it was because you were still young so I didn’t want you to know. Then, I thought those things were already in the past, so there was no need for you to know. Also…I’ve never thought that you were useless. You……your future is brighter than mine.”
He was not accustomed to these kinds of talks. But finally, he couldn’t bear it any longer. His hand reached out and ruffled Xiao Yang’s hair.
“Sorry. I’ve caused you grievance back then.”
Xiao Yang grabbed the hand that he stretched out and pressed it firmly against his own cheeks. He was speechless; his voice turned into sobs as he choked in between them trying to steady his breath.
Seeing him with that kind of appearance, Xiao Li feel gratified but also uncomfortable. He had never thought that a day would come, where he would receive his younger brother’s understanding. He was momentarily at a complete loss at what to do. All he could feel was a portion of his palm becoming wet as it pressed against Xiao Yang’s cheek and the tears that flow down. He wanted to get up and grab some tissues for him but Xiao Yang firmly held onto his hand.
Xiao Yang buried his head low. The grip that he had on Xiao Li’s hand was so strong, Xiao Li could feel a slight pain crawl up his arm.
Once he was able to slowly stop his sobbing, he cried out in a low voice, “Brother……”
The moment that word came out, it seems as if the dark prison that he was trapped in was smashed by a strong force.
Xiao Li raise his head and looked at him, eyes still brimming with tears. His knees dropped to the floor with a loud thud while his hand gripped Xiao Li’s shirt. And, in a loud and clear tone full with sentiment, he called out:
This cry seemed to tear apart those endless years of loneliness and misunderstandings. While the same time, bringing Xiao Li back to the time he enjoyed being called this; back to the time their mother was still alive; in that young, carefree and blissful years where he thought that he could do anything, change anything; all for the sake of giving his two most important and beloved family members honor and happiness.
Xiao Li’s right hand was gripped tightly by Xiao Yang while his left hand covered his own eyes. He sighed and tried his best to steady his own heartbeats that was racing like a thousand horses across the endless desert. After was seemed like ages, he was finally able to calm down.
He moved his hand away from his face and look at Xiao Yang. Xiao Yang was still emotionally moved as he looked up at him.
Actually, Xiao Li was not good at handling this kind of emotionally exchange. In the end, he had no option but to slightly pat Xiao Yang’s head and scold him.
“You little bastard, why aren’t you getting up? Do you want to make your brother cry before you can be at ease?”