Chapter 520: Thank you
When Zhang Xingke called Xu Tingsheng, Huang Yaming had just parked the car by the road next to the airport. From this position, they could see aeroplanes leaving through the windows.
“The heck, she’s crying so much it’s like she could faint any moment over here,” Zhang Xingke told Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng looked at Huang Yaming and said, “Over here, this one’s saying nothing and just waiting to watch the plane take off.”
“How about giving this another shot?” Zhang Xingke suggested, “Look at how she’s crying like an eternal separation of life and death! I almost daren’t bring her up the plane. How about it? ...Hello? I’m asking if you want to give it another shot. Ask Huang Yaming to try again? Hey? Hello? Say something, yes or no? ...Time’s almost running out…”
Actually, Xu Tingsheng had already long since brought the phone to Huang Yaming’s ear as Zhang Xingke was saying this. So, his every question had really been directed to the person himself…
“Nah,” As Zhang Xingke reached the passageway that connected airport to plane, he finally heard Huang Yaming break his silence, “No need. Over there, please help look after her as needed...she’s a girl living all alone outside.”
With that, Huang Yaming hung up.
“Thankful that she didn’t agree. Otherwise...who knows how many more times she’d have to cry like this the rest of her life,” Huang Yaming smiled and commented like an objective bystander, purely happy on Chen Jingqi’s behalf for finally having completely broken free of a scumbag’s influence.
And then he no longer spoke.
There is a kind of tragedy in life, which is forcing someone who once loved you so much to the point that they aren’t even willing, don’t even dare to listen to your remorse and pleading anymore.
The plane left the runway, soaring into the air…
Huang Yaming watched it appear in his field of vision, lift, rise, going higher, further…
Finally, it was but no more than a twinkling speck of light in the distant night sky.
Zhang Xingke had said earlier that Chen Jingqi had been crying like it was an eternal separation of life and death in the waiting room. Actually, that was precisely what it was to Chen Jingqi. All matters of the past, everything in Yanzhou, had dissipated into the winds as the plane took off.
No longer would she love, no longer would she hate. Thereafter, in her heart, Huang Yaming would simply be...dead to her.
This tale had finally reached its conclusion.
After returning to Yanzhou, Huang Yaming soon recovered his spirits and his way of life. It was just that he would no longer return home every time he got drunk. Also, when he woke up the next day, he would sometimes not be so familiar with the woman whom he found beside him.
He would return to the days of not getting drunk.
Xu Tingsheng had helped rent his flat for him when he had gotten injured such that it would be convenient for Chen Jingqi to look after him. Afterwards, because it was close to the bar and moving would be bothersome, Huang Yaming had continued to rent this flat which had thus become his ‘home’.
Chen Jingqi had once stayed in this home, and so had Tan Qingling. Now, only Huang Yaming alone remained.
He sat alone in the living room at 3am in the morning, looking at the sole photograph of Chen Jingqi in his phone. On her birthday, an inspired Huang Yaming had secretly prepared a cake and surprise for her…
Chen Jingqi’s smile had looked very nice that day, just like when they had met in Jiannan for the first time. A bit wilful and self-absorbed, it had been so adorable, authentic and natural as it was.
Girls are really most like themselves when they are happiest. That was the original Chen Jingqi. Sadly, she had experienced too much after meeting Huang Yaming. It would be very difficult to again witness that version of her.
As the first rays of a new dawn shone through the window, Huang Yaming deleted that photo.
“Thank you, for having loved me.”
The days passed uneventfully. One day, Fang Yunyao punctually left work, headed for home.
Just like when she had been a teacher, Fang Yunyao was earnest and diligent in her work. Still, unlike how she had often done overtime in the past, the current Fang Yunyao would never work overtime unless it was absolutely necessary.
On occasions when she just had too much work and could not get it all done in time, she would rather bring her work home with her than be delayed in the office.
Having experienced the despair of loss and knowing how precious being together was, nothing was more important than returning home to the current Fang Yunyao. There was nothing more important to her than seeing that big boy and that little girl everyday.
Even on days when she brought her work home and those two were oh so noisy, frequently coming over to disturb her and hindering her from properly doing her work, she just could not summon a stern face and rebuke them. She was always unable to keep from laughing the very next moment.
“Niannian, keep your Dad in line."
"Fu Cheng, keep your daughter in line."
"Niannian, your Mum's being fierce to me."
Afterwards, Fu Cheng taught Niannian to join in this game by saying, "Ms Fang, keep your husband, your student in line."
The young girl spoke in a childlike tone with lots of mispronounced sounds. Fang Yunyao instantly got triggered...yet was never able to do anything about this father-daughter pair.
“Go on, teach her whatever you want. When Niannian goes out and says this next time, the whole world will know that I was your teacher,” She said unhappily to Fu Cheng.
Fu Cheng called mischievously, “Ms(Teacher) Fang, Ms Fang…”
That day, Ms Fang had just descended the final flight of steps from her workplace and turned when she stopped in her tracks. She saw Fu Cheng standing there in the distance with his guitar.
Fu Cheng opened his mouth and began to sing an old English song: Right here waiting.
“If I see you next to never,
How can we say forever?
Wherever you go, whatever you do,
I will be right here waiting for you;
Whatever it takes,
Or how my heart breaks,
I will be right here waiting for you.
I took for granted all the times
That I thought would last somehow.
This song actually fit their tale so very well. Their fate had undergone several twists and turns in just three short years. After surmounting the many obstacles to get together, they had been separated again, one going far away and the other waiting...both their hearts had previously shattered time and time again.
They had both once believed that it would be difficult to meet again in this life, staying by the other’s side…
Fortunately, wherever one of them went, whatever they did, the other would still be right there waiting.
Fang Yunyao smiled with tears in her eyes.
She knew what Fu Cheng was doing. Previously, she had believed that this step would be or had already been overlooked. After all, the two were already living together right now and even had a child.
Although she would inevitably feel a little desolate once in a while, Fang Yunyao had neither expressedly requested nor hinted at this to Fu Cheng. For such matters, their significance decreased if they were voiced out directly.
Fortunately, her little man had never left her disappointed before.
In the approximately twenty metres between Fang Yunyao and Fu Cheng, there stood two columns of people, including Xu Tingsheng, Xiang Ning, Huang Yaming, Tan Yao and Fu Cheng’s other friends and classmates.
Every single one of them was raising a picture.
Fu Cheng had drawn them all in the two years after being separated from Fang Yunyao. Although they differed in terms of size and paper quality, they all depicted Fang Yunyao.
When they saw her for the first time, she capturing the heart of a youth as she walked from the other end of the corridor with textbook and teaching plans...when she casually flipped her hair as she walked up to the lectern in a dress...when she was nervous, when she was shy, when…
Upon reuniting, the two had already long since poured out their hearts and longings to each other...this here was the sole exception. Fu Cheng had never once mentioned this matter, this art, to her.
He had been planning this proposal since way back.
Fang Yunyao walked forward. She walked very slowly, carefully looking at every one of these pictures of herself that had been drawn by Fu Cheng, dated from April 2004 to January 2006. She could not help but reach out to trace those lines, crying and laughing as she walked...as much as the stream of tears flowing down her face could not be stemmed, the corners of her mouth were continually arched upwards.
Walking towards her, Fu Cheng sang a final ‘waiting for you’.
And he got down on one knee and retrieved a small red box from his pocket. His hands trembled slightly as he opened it, proffering a ring to Fang Yunyao.
“Will you marry me? I’ll listen to you like when I was a student; I’ll be a man who can protect you; I’ll be like the little boy you can bully…” Fu Cheng went on and on.
Fang Yunyao suddenly stared incredulously as she exclaimed vexedly, “Hey, why did you buy such a big diamond? Did you spend all our remaining money on this? You, you’ll be the death of me. What will we do about our renovation? Also, when Niannian goes to school in the future, we’ll have to choose the best one. That will need a lot of money! And then the wedding...really, what were you thinking? You could just have gotten any decent one! Did you think I might possibly refuse?...”
And then she felt embarrassed at having accidentally become too naggy, totally slipping too much into the role of a woman post-marriage...which simply did not fit the present occasion!
Also, what exactly had she meant by ‘did you think I might possibly refuse’?!
Fu Cheng smiled, asking as he looked at the adorable woman who had suddenly lapsed into awkwardness, “As for Niannian’s education, leave it to her godfather to worry about. You still haven’t answered me yet. Will you marry me?”
Fang Yunyao broke out of her awkwardness, biting her lips and leaking tears as she nodded forcefully, “Yes, I will. In truth, I’ve really wanted to get married to you all along, just so much.”
The ring was slotted onto the middle finger of her left hand.
“Thank you, for always loving me.”
Xu Tingsheng watched two separate endings to romances, one of separation and one of fruition.
In this post-reborn life, while he might still be closer to Fu Cheng in terms of psychology, the path he was walking was actually closer to Huang Yaming’s.
During the weekend, feeling a bit chaotic and uneasy, Xu Tingsheng brought Xiang Niang on a trip back to Jiannan. Of course, this ‘back’ was applicable only to Xu Tingsheng. To Xiang Ning, it was still her first time going to Jiannan...if one only counted this life.
“Why are we suddenly going to Jiannan? Is there anything fun in Jiannan?” Miss Xiang asked on the way, still a bit unhappy from having been woken up so early in the morning.
Xu Tingsheng thought about it and realised that there really seemed to be nothing especially exciting in Jiannan.
“There is! Like, like...anti-flood dams…” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Anti-flood dams? Are those fun? Those can be found everywhere, right?” Miss Xiang asked.
“Relatively fun. There’s an ancient city gate that we can go and see,” Xu Tingsheng replied helplessly while thinking to himself: That is where we first met! So do you think it’s fun, and worth going to, Miss Xiang?
“Is there anywhere else?”
“Of course!” Realising that the first motel where they had stayed together could not really be called fun, Xu Tingsheng said, “For example, we can go take a look at Jiannan University! Who knows, you might study there next time…”
“Huh, like I’d want to. It’s not like Jiannan University is very good. It’s not that pretty too,” Miss Xiang objected.
Xu Tingsheng sighed, thinking: Please, this was not what you said in our previous life. Back then, you claimed that our school is not bad, that it looks pretty good. And...so many things happened between us there.
Xu Tingsheng could only say, “We can go to Jiusong Temple too.”
“A temple? To draw divination sticks? Is that Jiusong Temple efficate or not?” Miss Xiang was finally somewhat interested.
As Mrs Xiang was superstitious, Little Xiang Ning had correspondingly always been a little interested in this area as well.
“To draw divination sticks?” Xiang Ning had asked. Xu Tingsheng instantly recalled the divination stick that had been hidden by her in his previous life as she had hidden and adamantly refused to reveal anything about it. Even now, he did not know its contents.
“Not drawing. We can just look around,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Oh, but that’s even less fun,” Miss Xiang said, “How about we draw a marriage lot to see if you will have a change of heart.”
“Not drawing. I won’t,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Miss Xiang was taken aback, “Uncle’s so serious all of a sudden.”
The two’s first stop was the ancient city gate at the anti-flood dam. As the dam spanned quite a long distance, Xu Tingsheng ended up carrying Xiang Ning as he walked. Then, he sat down in front of the ancient city gate and took a photograph for Miss Xiang as she made a pose there…
It had been this very place in his previous life.
That day, she had been in a white dress like a lotus fairy, pitifully carrying a large lotus lamp as a backdrop to the Lotus Festival. Even more pitifully, she had met a dirty ruffian that day…
Thereafter had been a blissful relationship for over a year and solitary waiting for over three years.
The second stop was Jiusong Temple.
There weren’t many visitors here that day. Xu Tingsheng led Xiang Ning in carefully walking around the rustic temple.
Seeing other people praying for divination sticks, Xiang Ning made a fuss about drawing one as well. Yet, Xu Tingsheng adamantly refused and ended up making her mad. She ran off in a huff. Unable to find her inside the temple and with her refusing to pick up his calls, he could only go to the entrance of the temple to wait for her in the end.
More than ten minutes later, Xiang Ning who never got angry for long walked towards Xu Tingsheng with a smile on her face. Beside her was a girl who looked just two or three years older than her. The two were chattering away happily as they walked. This was probably a new friend Xiang Ning had just made during her earlier escapade.
Seeing that she had already come back on her own accord, Xu Tingsheng hurriedly smiled and went over to apologise and appease her.
“Hey, you, aren’t you Xu Tingsheng?” In the end, before Xiang Ning even said anything, that girl beside her had already yelled in astonishment.
Xu Tingsheng glanced at her. It felt a bit like he knew her, though the memory was just too faint.
“Hello. I’m...do we know each other?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“No. Um, it’s you who don’t know me. I know you, though. I’ve seen you before, on the internet,” The girl appeared very excited, “God, you really are Xu Tingsheng. I’ve actually seen my idol! I really really super idolise you. I usually devour all kinds of news, and then I came to learn so many things about you...right, my name is Liang Qin. Can we be acquainted? Xu Tingsheng?”
“...Can we?” Seeing that Xu Tingsheng was not saying anything, Liang Qin asked again after a while.
Xu Tingsheng was still in a daze. While she had said that he didn’t know her, why did he feel a vague sense of familiarity? Had he seen her before? But where? In his previous life, in this life? Was it at another age that he had seen her?
“Hey, she’s talking to you!” Xiang Ning nudged Uncle who was acting impolitely.
Xu Tingsheng finally snapped out of it and raised his head, “Hello…”
As a bug flew by, the girl hurriedly stepped back as she nervously covered her face with both hands...
At this moment, two images superimposed as Xu Tingsheng recalled where he had seen this person before. In an Audi, on that final, fateful night in the year 2015 when Xu Tingsheng had been roaming the streets after seeing Xiang Ning for the last time.
As he had crossed the road, a speeding Audi had barrelled towards him. The very last thing Xu Tingsheng had seen was a woman screaming in the passenger seat with a nervous expression on her face as she brought up both her hands to cover her eyes…
Xu Tingsheng lapsed into darkness.
She was her. To be precise, she was her from nine years later. So she was called Liang Qin.
“In that case, can I be considered to have died at her hands?”
Xu Tingsheng surely would not consider taking revenge or whatnot. He only suddenly thought of something: Will I die at her hands again? If such a tribulation is destined to be in my fate...what should I do about this person? Get close to her, distance myself from her, make her disappear?
“Sorry, sorry. I was frightened by the bug just now...it’s a pleasure to meet you, Xu Tingsheng. I’ve been following your Weibo page. It’s been a very long time since you last updated…”After dodging the bug, Liang Qin regained her enthusiasm.
Xu Tingsheng gave a brief nod but said nothing, rather panickedly pulling Xiang Ning away as they quickly left.
“Hey, what’re you...what is it? Xu Tingsheng, Uncle, are you okay? Your face is so pale, you’re sweating...are you feeling uncomfortable anywhere? Sorry, I shouldn’t have thrown my temper at you. I won’t draw a divination stick anymore...you...” Xiang Ning asked nervously and concernedly even as she was pulled briskly along by Xu Tingsheng.
“Draw a divination stick?” Xu Tingsheng stopped in his tracks, “If there really is fate…”
“Alright, draw it...go on, I’ll accompany you to draw one.”
Xu Tingsheng wanted to see that divination lot, see what exactly was written on it that Xiang Ning wanted to hide and conceal...
“Hah, I knew that you were angry. I already said I won’t draw one! Don’t be mad,” Xiang Ning thought that Xu Tingsheng was only saying so in a huff.
“I’m not angry,” Xu Tingsheng tried to ease his expression as much as possible, “I’d like to see the lot you draw. So, let’s draw one, alright?”
Xiang Ning gazed hesitantly at him.
“Really, alright?” Xu Tingsheng requested sincerely.
“Okay,” Xiang Ning nodded.
The two entered the temple. Xiang Ning knelt down devoutly as Xu Tingsheng stood behind her.
“Kneel down! If you are disrespectful and insincere, it won’t be efficate…” Xiang Ning reminded in a low tone.
This had played out virtually the same as in his previous life.
Just like in his previous life, Xu Tingsheng knelt down beside Xiang Ning.
Little Xiang Ning brought her hands together, closed her eyes and prayed devoutly...and finally she raised the container of divination sticks…
“Swish, swish, swish...”
In his previous life, the stick had fallen to the ground. Xiang Ning had immediately snatched it over, glanced at it and run off to get it deciphered. Xu Tingsheng remembered that she had not looked too good upon returning. Only after he asked had she forced a smile, saying that their lot had been deciphered very well…
“I’ve definitely got to see it this time,” A tense Xu Tingsheng had his eyes fixated on the leaping divination sticks in the container.
A divination stick landed on the ground. Xiang Ning set down the container, preparing to retrieve it...Xu Tingsheng’s eyes zeroed in with laser-like focus.
“So you guys were here. Were you feeling uncomfortable just now? Or did I say something wrong? Sorry...” Liang Qin strode over swiftly as she was saying this.
She slammed into the container as the divination sticks all scattered onto the ground.
“Oh no!” Xiang Ning nervously fished for the lot she had drawn, but in the end...she ended up mixing it even more with the rest as there was really no way of knowing which one theirs was.
“Do you remember which one is ours?” Xiang Ning asked Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng shook his head numbly, his head lowered as he sat down on the mat, “This is fate?! I still wasn’t able to see that lot, and this was related to that woman whom I eventually died to...this is fate?!”
“Sorry, sorry…” Liang Qin repeatedly apologised nervously from beside them.
“It’s okay. I can just pray for one again,” Xiang Ning said before returning all the divination sticks to the container as she was about to do it again.
Still, to Xu Tingsheng, it would already not be that same divination stick even if she prayed for it again.
“Forget it. Let’s go.”
Xu Tingsheng rose, pulled Xiang Ning along and left that temple...Liang Qin was speaking and apologising behind them, but Xu Tingsheng did not look back. He led Xiang Ning straight back to the car and departed from the area.
It took him a whole day and night to get over it.
Only the next day did he manage to barely pull himself together and bring Xiang Ning to look around Jiannan University.
As they toured the campus together, Xu Tingsheng brought Xiang Ning to all the places they had left their mark at in his previous life.
After leaving the university near noon, Xiang Ning said that she was hungry. Xu Tingsheng asked her what she would like to eat, to which she pointed at the Kentucky in the distance.
Xu Tingsheng’s mind drifted off for a moment. In his previous life, it was here that he had waited for Xiang Ning on their very first date. He had waited for very long, because Miss Xiang had been covering up her pimples on that day…
When the two reached the entrance of Kentucky, Xu Tingsheng suddenly stopped short.
Xiang Ning turned back to look at him.
“Hello, I’m Xu Tingsheng,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Xiang Ning was momentarily taken aback before she played along, thinking that it was a game, “I’m Xiang Ning.”
“A real pleasure to see you again.”
“Thank you, for loving me again.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
For whatever reasons, the next handful of chapters starting from this one were exceptionally long. This one was easily more than twice the usual.