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Xu Fan was Cui Dingchen’s son!
Which meant that five years ago, the man from the Construction Hotel was also at the Construction Hotel. This was impossible. Impossible. Xu Zhao shot Construction Hotel an incredulous look and asked, “Youngest uncle, you’re joking, right?”
Cui Dingchen solemnly said, “I’m not.”
Xu Zhao was dazed as he asked, “T-then how do you know that Xu Fan is your son?”
Cui Dingchen answered, “Because of Shen Jiayang.”
“Shen Jiayang? What does this have to do with Shen Jiayang?”
With the mention of Shen Jiayang, a trace of disgust and hate shone in Cui Dingchen’s eyes as he said, “He hid it from me and also plotted against you.”
Xu Zhao didn’t understand. His mind was blank.
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao and retold what had happened five years ago—Five years ago, he got drunk and was carried by this bro to the second floor room 206 of Construction Hotel and slept with a man. When he woke up, the man ran away, scared. While looking for the man, he punished the bro and found out from the bro that the person he’d slept with was Shen Jiayang. Shen Jiayang also confirmed it.
Therefore, he’d always thought that the man he’d slept with was Shen Jiayang and tried to form a relationship with Shen Jiayang. However, he wasn’t able to sincerely like him and used materialist items to compensate him. He hoped that Shen Jiayang would have a good future.
This continued all the way until he encountered Shen Jiayang a few days ago. He interrogated Shen Jiayang and found out that the person he’d slept with wasn’t Shen Jiayang but Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao was completely shocked.
Cui Dingchen continued, “Five years ago, on the night of January 13th in room 206. That man with you was me.”
Xu Zhao was shocked again and his dazed eyes slowly focused again, focused on Cui Dingchen. He didn’t speak for a while.
Cui Dingchen said with guilt, “Xu Zhao, I’m sorry. I wronged Xu Fan as well.”
Xu Zhao slowly regained his senses and it wasn’t until a while later that he returned to the present. He said, “So, these past five years, you got the wrong person?”
Cui Dingchen nodded. “Mn.”
Xu Zhao stiffly asked, “He tricked you?”
“These past few days, you’ve—”
“I’ve been taking back the things that didn’t belong to him,”
After asking everything regarding this matter, Xu Zhao didn’t know what to ask or say anything. This matter was too shocking. The man who had always hung around him was actually the biological father of his son. T-this seemed like it came straight out of a drama.
Moreover, he was also a transmigrater. He was half considered an outsider.
His brain was a mess. He didn’t know how to face the original Xu Zhao regarding the relationship between Cui Dingchen and himself. His entire body was shaken up, and he wasn’t able to speak a single word.
Seeing Xu Zhao’s reaction, Cui Dingchen felt pain in his heart. His voice was hoarse as he said, “I’m sorry. These five years, I made you and Xu Fan suffer so much.”
Xu Zhao didn’t reply.
“I’m sorry.” Cui Dingchen wanted to hold Xu Zhao’s hand. Just as he touched the back of Xu Zhao’s hand, Xu Zhao was startled.
Cui Dingchen froze.
Xu Zhao quickly explained, “Youngest uncle, I’m sorry. This matter is too sudden, and the news is too big. My brain is a mess. Give me some time. Let me sort out my thoughts first, okay?”
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao. His eyes were full of expectation, hoping that Xu Zhao would give him an answer right away. However, he nodded and said, “Okay, I’ll wait for you.”
Xu Zhao was a bit flustered as he said, “Okay, then I’ll head home first.”
Cui Dingchen nodded.
Once he finished speaking, Xu Zhao quickly stood up and turned around to leave. Hearing Xu Fan call him, he turned his head back and realized that he was absorbed with that matter from five years ago that he’d forgotten that Xu Fan was pulling weeds in the wheat field.
“Daddy! You have to carry me in a bit.”
Xu Zhao gently said, “Let’s go home.”
“Okay, let’s go home.”
Xu Fan wobbled out from the wheat field. His small, plump face was full of smiles and curiosity. In the past, when he looked at Xu Fan, it was like looking in the mirror. Now looking at Xu Fan, there were traces that were very similar to Cui Dingchen. Thinking of the little habits that Xu Fan had, for example being a little bit oppressive, for example being a little bit stingy, for example being a little bit clingy, this was a bit like Cui Dingchen… Xu Zhao’s heart trembled.
“Daddy, let’s go.” Xu Fan’s small, meaty hand held Xu Zhao’s hand.
Xu Zhao held Xu Fan’s hand and walked toward the village entrance.
Cui Dingchen stood in place and pursed his lips as he watched Xu Zhao and Xu Fan leave. He looked calm, but his heart was chaotic. He was filled with worry. Worried that Xu Zhao would start ignoring him.
Xu Zhao’s heart was even more chaotic. He walked hand-in-hand with Xu Fan all the way back home and had Father Xu watch Xu Fan. Using having to work as an excuse, he entered his office and sorted out his feelings regarding the matters from five years ago. He sorted it out bit by bit from noon all the way into the afternoon, from the afternoon all the way until evening. Fortunately, he was able to catch Xu Fan’s bedtime.
“Daddy, I want to sleep.”
“Okay, we’ll get you ready for bed now.”
Just as always, Xu Zhao washed up Xu Fan, told him a story, and coaxed him to sleep. Habitually, he waited for Cui Dingchen to call him, but Cui Dingchen didn’t call. He knew in his heart that Cui Dingchen was giving him time to think, so he continued to ponder the matter. He tossed and turned in bed and didn’t fall asleep until late in the night.
He didn’t sleep well. He dreamt all night. It was a horrible dream. The next morning, he had a headache that hurt so bad it caused him to frown.
Mother Xu saw this and worriedly asked, “Xu Zhao, what’s wrong?”
Xu Zhao rested his hand against his forehead and said, “My head hurts.”
“What happened? Why does your head hurt?” Mother Xu didn’t understand.
“I had a dream last night. Maybe that’s why I didn’t sleep well?”
Xu Zhao’s eyebrows were drawn together. Mother Xu asked again, “Does it hurt a lot?”
Xu Zhao replied, “It’s okay. My head is just buzzing a bit.”
“Let’s go to the county town and see a doctor?”
Xu Zhao reached out and rubbed his temples and said, “If it doesn’t get better after today, I’ll go see a doctor in a couple days.”
“Why wait a couple days? Can’t you just go today?” Mother Xu said. “Didn’t you say that you’ll take your dad and Sanwa to the county town to shave their heads today or tomorrow? Since your head hurts now, we should go now. I’ll go too. We’ll have your dad take Sanwa to East Street to shave their heads. I’ll go with you to get a checkup at the doctor’s.”
Mothers were the best people in the world. Xu Zhao smiled and said, “I got it, I got it.”
“Then are we going to the county town today or tomorrow?” Mother Xu asked again.
“Tomorrow.” Xu Zhao slightly smiled and said, “I have some matters to take care of today.”
“But your head hurts—”
“It just hurts a bit. It might get better later, and I won’t have to go to the doctor’s then. Mom, go take care of your matters. I’m really fine.”
Not long later, Xu Zhao’s headache did get better. He had Father Xu take care of Xu Fan and told Father Xu if there were any matters, he would take care of it this afternoon. He wanted to think about the matter of planting fruits first and didn’t want to be disturbed. In fact, what he was thinking about was Cui Dingchen’s matter.
Putting down all the matters to sit by the ditch by the big vegetable greenhouse, he looked at the clear water surface. The only thing on his mind was that Cui Dingchen, who should have called at least three times already today, hadn’t phoned him a single time.
Was he (CDC) waiting for him (XZ) to take the initiative to call?
What would he say if he called?
Xu Zhao once again thought over what had happened five years ago. At this moment, his mind was clearer than it was yesterday. He was able to meet the situation from five years ago head on.
Strictly speaking, the matter from five years ago didn’t have anything to do. It involved the original Xu Zhao, and he wasn’t the original Xu Zhao. Cui Dingchen was the victim here. They didn’t do anything wrong.
The person in the wrong was Shen Jiayang.
Then what was he conflicted about?
Watching the ripple on the surface of the water, Xu Fan’s mind was blank. When he gathered his thoughts again, he realized that his conflict had to do with the original Xu Zhao. This wasn’t the first time he considered his relationship with the original Xu Zhao. Perhaps their past, past generations were mischievous while on the Naihe Bridge1This is the bridge to the afterlife in Chinese mythology. There, Old Lady Meng (Meng Po) would serve you Meng Po Soup so that you forget your current life and can reincarnate with a clean slate., and that was why their lives switched. And it just so happened that he switched into this body, or else how would he have come to love Xu Fan, Mother and Father Xu, and South Bay Village.
However, thinking about it again, this wasn’t a fact. It was just a conclusion that was brought up from his headache. He watched the clear water surface, silent as always.
The seconds ticked by.
At this moment, sheeps bleating and cows mooing came from the village, indicating that it was already noon. Everyone was making lunch now. Xu Zhao turned around to look toward the village and saw smoke coming out of the countless houses’ chimneys.
This familiarity… He thought that he shouldn’t have been influenced by the original Xu Zhao anymore. Since the heavens had already arranged everything for the original Xu Zhao, then this was the heavens telling him to do what he wanted.
Yes, the heavens had arranged everything.
The original Xu Zhao was the original Xu Zhao. He was himself.
The original Xu Zhao liked Qi Shuai, and he liked Cui Dingchen. There was no conflict. Moreover, he was now Xu Zhao.
Thinking like this, he suddenly came to a conclusion. His mind was filled with Cui Dingchen. Cui Dingchen’s cold expression, Cui Dingchen’s smiling expression, Cui Dingchen’s gentle expression, Cui Dingchen’s loving expression… It had only been a day without Cui Dingchen’s phone call and he’d already missed him so much.
He quickly stood from the ditch and patted the dirt from his body. He strode home, going faster the more he walked all the way until he was running. As soon as he ran into the courtyard, Xu Fan excitedly bounced over. He said in a milky voice, “Daddy, carry me.”
Xu Zhao said, “I’ll carry you in a bit.”
“Daddy, I want to be carried n-now,” Xu Fan followed Xu Zhao as he ran.
Xu Zhao gently said, “In a bit. Go find your Grandpa first. Be good.”
“Daddy! You have to carry me in a bit.”
Xu Zhao left Xu Fan behind and walked into his office. Before he could give Cui Dingchen a call, the phone suddenly rang.
Xu Zhao reached out to answer the phone, “Hello? This is Zhaoyang Agricultural Ecology Limited. May I ask who this is?”
A familiar voice came from the other side. “It’s Shen Jiayang.”