Chapter 34 - Photos

Chapter 34 - Photos

Tang Can nodded at her. The two of them looked at each other; a common understanding had been reached between them.

Shen Yu’s eyes were as deep and fathomless as a well. On the outside she seemed to be very calm but she was actually hiding turmoil deep within her heart.

Using the specially engineered shovel, Tang Can filled in the holes that were dug in Song Geng’s house. Shen Yu helped by using her feet to stamp the earth down after they were filled. The work went quickly, and they finished in good time. The holes were filled and stamped until the repaired areas were smooth with the rest of the floor. Both of them had a lot going through their minds and Shen Yu herself had many questions. In an effort to clear things up, she asked Tang Can his thoughts but he did not cooperate. Instead, he played dumb and gave her the run around.

Anger started to bubble in her veins. Their relationship had gotten better recently but this was a step back. As they left the abandoned house, Tang Can held the shovel in one hand and attempted to grasp Shen Yu’s hand in the other. However, Shen Yu stubbornly refused his offer because she was very miffed with his behavior. Tang Can proved to be just as obstinate as her and grabbed her hand in a tight grip, refusing to let go. After that simpleton’s attack on her earlier that day, he was afraid something would happen to her again, especially now in the dark. Even if it wasn’t the middle of the night, just thinking about the vast amounts of people following them around made anxiety filled sweat drip down his back. To relieve his concerns, he ignored her protests and held onto her hand.

After trying to throw him off several times and failing, Shen Yu’s innate muleheadedness started to show. Tang Can’s grip on her hand was tight and she really wanted to stay away from him. In a pique of temper, she attempted to bite his hand. Although her teeth on his finger hurt, Tang Can endured the pain and continued to hold on. Both of them were as stubborn as mules. In this case, whoever had the patience to endure would be the ultimate winner. In the end, Shen Yu gave up first. She had bitten down with as much force she could muster and  she knew it must have hurt. She could see his arm trembling with effort. However, Tang Can’s strength of mind was astounding, and she had to bow down to his will.

The two of them continued to walk, but the atmosphere was awkward. After abiding for a bit of time, Shen Yu could no longer take it. She looked at him peevishly, “My bite must have hurt you, didn’t it?”

“Not at all!” Tang Can chuckled. In the dark of the night, Shen Yu was not able to physically see his brilliant smile but she could see it clearly in her mind’s eye.

Shen Yu suddenly thought that she was being too petty, but she didn’t want to apologize to him. She vowed to help him disinfect the wound she gave him with some alcohol when they got back to their lodge.

Medical care was hard to get in the rural countryside, especially in the middle of the night. Furthermore, it was unlikely that any of the villagers had any antibiotic ointment on hand. Farmers were not as concerned about cleanliness as city people were. As long as they weren’t severely ill, most of them didn’t even see the point in finding a doctor to get treated.  

After they got back, Shen Yu asked the branch secretary if he had any alcohol around that they could use. When the branch secretary found out that Tang Can had gotten injured during their walk, he became extremely alarmed and worried. A spew of words came out of the man’s mouth but Shen Yu couldn’t understand anything he said in his thick accent. It was as if he was talking to a deaf person. In the end, Xiao Qiu had to translate for him.

“The branch secretary wants to know if Officer Tang got bitten by a dog earlier.”

Shen Yu almost choked on her own saliva at the question. The expression on her face was tight and dark with displeasure. She uncorked the bottle of alcohol and walked towards one of the bedrooms.

It didn’t take long before she could hear Tang Can and the others moving from the bedroom facing north to one on the other side. She could vaguely make out Xiao Qiu laughing quietly, as if he had just said a joke to Tang Can. Immediately following that was Commander Jin’s voice. He was scolding Xiao Qiu for making fun of Tang Can and said that he thought that Reporter Shen was a nice, young lady. Commander Jin then voiced his hope that Tang Can would be able to settle things and move his life forward with her…

Tang Can chuckled gently and didn’t follow up to explain anything. Appalled, Shen Yu wanted to burst into the room right now to clear things up. We don’t have anything going on between us!

The three men continued to laugh and make jokes. The topic of the conversation still revolved around Tang Can and Shen Yu’s supposed relationship. Shen Yu could feel her temper rising again and decided to clothe herself properly before barging in. After she finished changing, she hesitated. It would be incredibly rude of her to burst in and demand them to stop talking about them. They were just having a bit of fun, who was she to take it all so seriously? It was not as if she didn’t realize how the world worked. Many aspects of life were more complicated than they needed to be. It’s not like I did anything to be ashamed of...I don’t need to explain myself. It’ll just make them think that there really is something going on between Tang Can and me!

After thinking it through, her mind involuntarily brought up an image of Tang Can’s attractive smile. Her heart started to thump furiously.

That night, Shen Yu found it hard to fall asleep again. The next morning, she woke up with dark circles underneath her eyes. When Xiao Qiu saw her, he was startled to see her panda-like face. “Were you not able to sleep well last night?” he loudly asked.

Shen Yu pasted a fake smile on her face. “Yeah I guess not.”

Nearby, Tang Can was ladling water from a bucket into a shallow basin used to wash people’s faces. When he overheard Shen Yu and Xiao Qiu’s conversation, he paused briefly. After a moment, he set the ladle back down into the bucket, picked the basin up and set it on a wooden stool. He then called out to Shen Yu, telling her to wash her face.

Shen Yu came over willingly but the awkwardness between them was perceptible. She didn’t want to speak to him, and Tang Can deliberately kept himself out of her way.

After they finished breakfast, the branch secretary started talking to them. Through his thick local accent, Shen Yu could vaguely understand that he was sending them off. She followed the other men as they slowly left.

In order to leave the village, they had to bypass Song Geng’s old house. As they walked past it, Shen Yu could see a couple of the local villagers taking apart the walls. They all stopped to look at the process. The branch secretary explained things to Tang Can and his group. Apparently the town hall needed to get repaired in some areas and needed more wood. The lumber from Song Geng’s house would be perfect for the village’s purposes.

Tang Can laughed and continued to bring the group past the house, as it did not concern them. Suddenly, before they could leave, they heard a loud crash and clatter. The group stopped to find out what was going on. Behind them, the building had collapsed. The branch secretary immediately ran towards the mess and the rest of them followed closely.

Once again, Shen Yu could not understand anything that was said but, given the circumstances, she could mostly guess what had happened. When the building fell, it must have collapsed on some people. She followed the rest of the group.

Her prediction was spot on. One of the villagers had been crushed by the falling debris. Shen Yu briefly saw that the unfortunate person’s head had been smashed into a bloody mess. Frightened by the sight, she turned her head away from the scene, to avoid getting another look at the gore.

Tang Can and the others quickly helped the other villagers lift up the scattered pieces. They carefully hoisted the injured person away from ruined building. The person’s injuries were quite severe, so they had to carry the person into the nearby military vehicle. The car soon drove off to the county hospital, with Commander Jin and Xiao Qiu in the front.

Since the vehicle didn’t have enough seats for everyone, the branch secretary and other villagers rode on bikes to go to the nearby city. But Tang Can didn’t go with the others. He stayed behind to watch over Shen Yu.

After seeing resulting mess, he was afraid that more debris would fall and hit the young woman. He urged her to go back to the village, where it was safer.

Unfortunately, Shen Yu’s feet were not stable when she tried to walk. She tripped on a nearby brick and pitched forward onto some broken tile. The fall had caused her to skin her knees and elbows, and it hurt quite a bit!

“You’re injured!” exclaimed Tang Can, his voice full of worry. He helped her get up from the ground. Shen Yu tried to reassure him that she was okay but the sharp pain made her grit her teeth involuntarily. As she tried to stand up, she noticed that she had fallen on an old, broken picture frame. The cracked glass had sliced open her knees. Scattered around her were some yellowing pictures and some of them had drops of her blood smeared on them. She glanced at the photos and her eye suddenly caught on one! The image she saw shocked her to her bones!


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