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Did he imagine it?
Xu Zhao looked back twice, but still didn’t see anyone. His heart was puzzled. He couldn’t help but look back several more times and even turned Xu Fan to look back as well. Xu Fan blinked his watery eyes to Xu Zhao and curiously asked, “Daddy, what are you looking at?”
Xu Zhao laughed and replied, “I’m not looking at anything.”
Xu Fan titled his little head and asked, “Not looking at anything is looking at what?”
Knowing that this little guy would ask this next, Xu Zhao reached out and pinched Xu Fan’s little, plump face and smiled. “You love talking so much. Stop talking. Let’s go.”
Xu Fan continued to ask, “Go where?”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “To the vegetable market.”
“Going to the vegetable market to do what?”
“To buy vegetables and find your big daddy.”
In the morning, Cui Dingchen called and said that he would wait for Xu Zhao and Xu Fan at the vegetable market. Xu Zhao had previously reiterated for Xu Fan that “big daddy is Cui Dingchen”, so Xu Fan already remembered. He followed and said, “Big daddy is Second Grandpa Cui.”
Xu Zhao laughed and nodded. When he looked up, he caught a glimpse of a figure not far away. Although the figure flashed by, he was able to confirm that—
Someone really was following him.
He subconsciously hugged Xu Fan tighter and quickened his steps toward East Street’s vegetable market. He walked to the mouth of the alley. Through all the noise of the vegetable market, he heard a familiar voice call him.
Xu Zhao turned his head to look, and it was actually Shen Jiayang. Moreover, Shen Jiayang was alone.
It had only been a little over a month since they met, but Shen Jiayang had changed a lot. He was skinny, dark, and his hair had grown a lot, but he wasn’t taking care of it. He looked like he was waning away and looked very pitiful.
However, Xu Zhao wasn’t someone who was sympathetic to everyone, and Shen Jiayang wasn’t a good person either. After the slight surprise, he calmly looked at Shen Jiayang and asked, “Did you need something?”
Shen Jiayang hummed and replied, “Yes.”
“What is it?”
“I want to talk to you about Dingchen.”
Every time Xu Zhao heard Shen Jiayang say these two words, he had the urge to punch Shen Jiayang. This time was the same as well, but he was a rational and reasonable person. He wouldn’t act against someone so easily.
He first put the heavy Xu Fan on the ground, then raised his gaze to Shen Jiayang and asked, “What do you want to talk about related to Dingchen?”
Shen Jiayang said, “About feelings.”
“Well?” Xu Zhao didn’t understand.
Shen Jiayang looked at Xu Zhao with irrefutable determination in his eyes. He directly said, “I hope you will take a step back.”
Take a step back?
Xu Zhao asked, “For what reason?”
Shen Jiayang tried to reason and said, “The reason is because I like Cui Dingchen, and you like Qi Shuai. If you take a step back, then I’ll help you get together with Qi Shuai.”
Ah, Xu Zhao snorted a laugh.
Shen Jiayang’s expression turned ugly as he asked, “What are you laughing at?”
Xu Zhao smiled at him. “Shen Jiayang, I remember that I told you once before. I don’t like Qi Shuai. I don’t like Qi Shuai. Do you not understand?”
“You’re lying. In the past, you treated Qi Shuai—”
Xu Zhao persistently cut him off, “The past is the past and the present is the present. The one I like now is Cui Dingchen.”
“Nonsense,” Shen Jiayang yelled. “That’s bullcrap! In the past, you chased Qi Shuai around every day. You poured water for him and helped him wash his lunch box and even washed his clothes. How could you say that you don’t like him anymore? You must want to get revenge for robbing me, and that’s why you’re robbing Cui Dingchen from me. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that right!”
Shen Jiayang became more worked up the more he spoke. His face was full of resentment. He was no longer the refined and scholarly Shen Jiayang. Even Xu Zhao thought that he was a stranger. His gaze involuntarily fell on Shen Jiayang’s top, pants, and shoes. These were all brand new, but it could be seen that the workmanship and materials were very common. It was completely different from the clothes Shen Jiayang used to wear.
He suddenly understood the reason why Shen Jiayang was so worked up.
Speaking of which, Shen Jiayang’s family had always been well off. He was an only child and a city dweller. In this era where city residence was well sought after, Shen Jiayang was superior from birth. Therefore, when he was at Provincial Agricultural School, he would ridicule Xu Zhao all the time.
Even during that time, Shen Jiayang’s family situation was deteriorating, but Shen Jiayang still acted arrogant. Usually, someone would start to slowly change if their family situation was in distress, but he deliberately used the original Xu Zhao to get close to the big tree, Cui Dingchen.
Five years. It had already been five years.
Because of Cui Dingchen’s guilt, he gave Shen Jiayang extremely expensive things to make up for his actions, so Shen Jiayang never had to worry about food, clothes, housing, or transportation. Cui Dingchen even helped him find a stable and decent job, and nobody dared bully him. It could be said that from his birth to today, he never had a day of hardship, nor did he ever have to worry about anything. That was until Xu Zhao appeared, until Cui Dingchen took back everything that never belonged to him.
He realized that he had nothing. Nothing. The growing gap in reality was hard for him to accept.
He was afraid of Cui Dingchen, so he didn’t dare bother Cui Dingchen. So he put all his dissatisfaction and anger in Xu Zhao. His actions were borderline crazy.
Exactly. It was crazy.
He never expected Shen Jiayang’s heart to be so fragile and paranoid.
Sensing this issue, Xu Zhao quickly took Xu Fan into his arms again and hugged him tightly. He covered Xu Fan’s ear with one hand and pressed him into his chest to prevent him from seeing and hearing Shen Jiayang’s hysterics. He then squarely faced Shen Jiayang.
Shen Jiayang was really crazy. After accusing Xu Zhao of robbing Cui Dingchen, he began to accuse Xu Zhao of harming him and his mother to have nowhere to go. For harming his mother’s health. It was all Xu Zhao’s fault.
There was no logic in his words.
Xu Zhao didn’t answer. He continued to tightly hold Xu Fan in his arms and glanced at the East Street police station, which wasn’t far away. He then looked at Shen Jiayang’s crazed appearance, and a sliver of fear appeared in his heart. At the same time, an idea popped up. While Shen Jiayang was speaking, he slowly moved to the direction of the station.
It just so happened to see Xiao Zhao, a police officer who was sitting inside the police courtyard. The “Xiao” in Xiao Zhao’s name meant young. He was tall and strong, straightforward and loving. He also liked Xu Fan very much. Every time he saw Xu Fan, he would hug him. Xu Fan surprisingly liked Xiao Zhao and took the initiative to say hello every time they met.
Xu Zhao whispered in Xu Fan’s ear, “Xu Fan, listen. Your Uncle Zhao is calling you.”
Xu Fan immediately asked, “Call me for what?”
“Why don’t you go ask?”
“Okay,” Xu Fan obediently agreed.
Xu Zhao bent over and placed Xu Fan down.
Xu Fan immediately ran toward the police station with his short legs.
Shen Jiayang, who was still placing blame, saw Xu Fan running away. Shen Jiayang suddenly chased him, but Xu Zhao blocked his way first. Not realizing anything, Xu Fan didn’t hear anything either as he happily ran to the East Street police station.
Not having to worry about Xu Fan, Xu Zhao immediately swung his arm and fiercely shook Shen Jiayang away. His face sank. “Shen Jiayang, have you had enough yet?!”
After staggering a bit, Shen Jiayang stood firm and angrily looked at Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao no longer held back his words as he hit the main point. “Shen Jiayang, you’ve been a thief for the past five years. Have you become addicted to being one? Now you want to act like a robber too? What qualifications do you have to disturb me and Cui Dingchen? Aren’t you ashamed?”
Hearing this, Shen Jiayang was stunned. He blankly stared at Xu. Just a simple sentence was like a sharp dagger with a cold light that shone at the bottom of his ugly heart. It pierced straight through, cutting the bloodied thing open so that all his ugliness and dirtiness was exposed to reveal his true self. His eyes began to throb under the flames as the fire flourished harder. His expression was sinister as he viciously glared at Xu Zhao and gritted out each word, “You’re the one who harmed me!”
Xu Zhao expressionlessly said, “You’re the one who harmed yourself!”
“It’s you!” Shen Jiayang roared.
Xu Zhao naturally didn’t yell with him, but said one simple word, “unreasonable”, before turning around and walking toward the police station. He paid attention to Shen Jiayang’s actions out of the corner of his eyes. Sure enough, Shen Jiayang, who was chanting “it’s you, it’s you”, started to lose reason. He picked up a brick from the ground and rushed toward Xu Zhao.
“Xu Zhao! Watch out!”
The one who spoke was Xiao Zhao. Xiao Zhao carried Xu Fan as he left the police station and saw Shen Jiayang going crazy. He quickly placed Xu Fan back inside the police station before rushing toward Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao had already seen Shen Jiayang’s actions and accurately dodged it. He then looked directly at Shen Jiayang and angrily said, “Shen Jiayang, have you gone crazy?”
“The crazy one is you!” Shen Jiayang vigorously threw himself at Xu Zhao. His mouth threw out curses, which wasn’t the same as before. Regardless of what he did, he was unable to injure Xu Zhao. Moreover, he attracted the attention of the police officers as well.
He attracted the attention of the police officers! He would be detained in Jiang Ping County’s jail for his actions!
It was deliberate!
Xu Zhao planned this!
Xu Zhao planned to make him act violence so that he would go to Jiang Ping County’s jail.
Xu Zhao deliberately harmed him!
This made Shen Jiayang, who had always “won”, even more unwilling. The brick in his hand was suddenly aimed in a different direction and directly crashed toward Xu Fan, who was standing at the door of the police station. In any case, he was going to jail, so they might as well die together!
Xu Zhao’s heart trembled with terror. While shouting, he used his body to block the brick. He could have avoided the brick, but in the moment of life and death, his head was suddenly struck with a fierce pain that froze his entire body. Unfortunately, he was hit on the back of his head.
Instantly, the headache that had haunted him for days became more intense, and the buzzing in his brain continued nonstop. It slowly transformed into a strange but clear music. There was shouting, cars, all sorts of sounds and words:
“Xu Zhao, Xu Zhao.”
Cui Dingchen, who had waited at the vegetable market for a long time without seeing Xu Zhao and Xu Fan, ran to the entrance of South Bay Village and waited for a while. Not seeing them, he called South Bay Village to learn that Xu Zhao and Xu Fan rode a tractor over this morning. It was probably to buy Xu Fan cookies.
Cui Dingchen waited at the vegetable market for a while. He anxiously waited for a bit before going out again to find the father and son. When he passed the alley by the vegetable market in order to head inside the county town to take a look, he didn’t expect to see Xu Zhao suddenly fall to the ground. He was completely stunned. The moment he saw the fresh blood on the back of Xu Zhao’s head, he only felt intense pain in his heart. It almost suffocated him.
Cui Dingchen immediately rushed up and picked up Xu Zhao. He quickly ran to the hospital, leaving Shen Jiayang, Xiao Zhao, and the bawling Xu Fan in their original spot.
“Daddy! My daddy! My daddy left!”
Xiao Zhao snapped out of his daze, glanced at Xu Fan, then quickly pressed Shen Jiayang to the ground. He called for the other police officers to take Shen Jiayang away. When he looked up, he saw Xu Fan crying as he chased Cui Dingchen with his short legs.
Xiao Zhao quickly ran over and picked up Xu Fan and said, “Uncle Xiao Zhao will take you to find your daddy”. He then ran to the County Town Hospital Center with Xu Fan. When he arrived at County Town Hospital Center and after asking the nurse, he coaxed Xu Fan, who was crying incessantly. They went to the second floor. When he raised his gaze, he saw Cui Dingchen in the corridor.
Cui Dingchen sat on the chair with his head in his hands. He didn’t say a word and didn’t move either until he heard Xu Fan’s crying. He slowly looked up. His eyes were slightly red as he called, “Xu Fan.”
Not our XZ 😭 I hate people like SJY.