Sometimes, wisdom is knowing when something just is not yours to have…
Chapter 15.3 – To Leave Painted Only Half of One’s Face (3)
An explanation was not needed because a visit so late in the night, without question, could only be about Wenxing.
Mei Xing did not belong to the Zhou family. After this incident, Zhousheng Chen’s mother naturally wanted to prevent anyone from getting close to Wenxing. Hence, he had received the news but was unable to see her, and finally, he had no other option but to seek out Zhousheng Chen.
The two men were having their discussion in the living room while Shi Yi made tea for them.
Then, closing the door behind her, she stayed alone in the study and read.
It was relatively quiet until, all of a sudden, the noise of something shattering rang out.
Startled, Shi Yi yanked open the door. Turning toward the sound made by the opening door, Mei Xing glanced at her and gave a very apologetic smile. He then shifted his eyes back to Zhousheng Chen, forcing himself to keep his emotions under control. His voice was much lower as he said, “My apologies. I got too worked up a moment ago.”
Zhousheng Chen shook his head. “It’s alright. I was much more worked up than that when I was at the hospital.”
The two of them simultaneously bent down to pick up the broken glass.
“Don’t pick it up with your hands.” Shi Yi hurriedly stopped them and then, from the kitchen, brought over a clean dishtowel. Zhousheng Chen took it, picked up each of the pieces, and wrapped them carefully in the towel before handing it back to her.
“Should I make a new cup of tea for you?” she asked Mei Xing.
“No, it’s getting late.” Mei Xing smiled, rose from the sofa, and bid them farewell.
After seeing their guest out the door, she picked up his cup of tea and brought it to the kitchen to wash.
The whole time, the living room maintained a state of quiet. Finding this rather odd, she hurriedly finished tidying and stepped back out, where she saw him still silently sitting on the sofa, folding a piece of paper in half, then in half again, and so on, carrying this pattern on repeatedly.
The paper was getting smaller and smaller with each fold until it was so small it could no longer be folded in half anymore.
Hearing the sound of her footsteps, he lifted his eyes to look at her and suddenly chuckled, “At first, everyone believed that a single piece of paper could only be folded in half eight times when done in real life. Later, it was argued and proven that, if you use a machine, you could fold it nine times.”
“And then?” She predicted that someone else must have overturned this conclusion.
“And then, someone later calculated it out that it was twelve times.”
“Calculated it out?”
With an “mm,” he explained, “This is actually a math problem.”
“Really?” Shi Yi crouched down in front of him, taking the paper from his hands. “People who study math are so weird. They’d take something like paper folding and use it for calculations, too?”
“Is it weird?” He was smiling. “You never learned this in primary school?”
“Primary school?” Shi Yi was even more astonished.
She tried hard to recall. She should… not have learned it, right?
Had she? How was a math problem like this supposed to be solved?
Intent in her thinking, her eyes were fixated upon that piece of paper that had been folded into a little pile.
“It’s not true.”
“Huh?” She stared blankly at him.
“What I said at the end was not true.” He gave a little laugh. “You could not possibly have learned this in primary school.”
Shi Yi finally realized that he had been joking with her. Zhousheng Chen had already risen and stepped into the bathroom and was now turning on the water to bathe. It was not often that he was in the mood to soak in the bathtub . She grabbed some clean clothes for him, and when she brought it to the bathroom, she saw he was removing his pants.
Perhaps because Zhousheng Chen’s mother was very tall, the three siblings were not short in stature either.
Standing there beside the tub, his legs were long, lean, and straight, and as a result of his cultured upbringing since childhood, his standing and sitting postures, including the one right now where he was bent slightly at the waist to test the water temperature, with that curvature in his lower back… were all very good.
Shi Yi placed the clothing into a basket.
After he was sitting and leaning back in the bathtub, she walked over quietly said, “I’ll help you bathe.”
Amid the faint steam of the room, she poured some shampoo into her palm and began massaging his hair. “Don’t open your eyes.” Zhousheng Chen was very obedient, allowing her to position and direct him until, at the end, she folded up a warm towel, placed it under his neck as a cushion, and, holding the showerhead in her hand, carefully washed out his hair.
His hair was very soft following the rinsing.
After toweling it dry somewhat, he sat up straight. Some shorter hairs slipped down in front of his forehead, messily obscuring his eyes.
“Feels good, doesn’t it?” She amused herself by stretching out a hand to brush away the hairs falling into his eyes.
Those eyes were still and unperturbed,
She lowered her head and placed a kiss on his browbone. “I know you’re sad, but I don’t know how to console you.”
Gently, he took her chin between his fingers, guiding her head down a little lower. “Before, when you were sad, what would you do?”
Shi Yi dug through her memory for a moment and then laughed, “I’d read ‘Explaining Words and Analyzing Characters” because I didn’t need to think when reading it.”
He also chuckled, “Last time, when I asked you whether you had read “Explaining Words and Analyzing Characters’ and you told me that you had read some, I was quite amused. Why do you like…um…” he paused, searching for the right words before continuing, “this ‘dictionary’ of the ancient times?”
She laughed. “I have so much time anyways. I’ll flip through any book that’s available.”
She had used ten years in that huge library tower and still only managed to read two levels of that collection of books.
For the remainder, she could only remember some of the titles.
His hair in front slipped down again.
In those eyes, besides the glow of light, there was only her.
Her hand slid down along his hair, over his face, and to his shoulders and continued to glide down. At last, it scooped up a handful of warm water and poured it gently over him before going back to lightly knead his shoulders. Her hands were hot. His body was also hot. After massaging him for only a short while, his hand reached to grab her wrist. “Shi Yi?”
“Hmm?” She gazed at him. Her eyes, too, only held him.
Zhousheng Chen stretched out his arms, lifting her entire body up and into the bathtub so that she lay on top of him.
Shi Yi’s nightgown was completely soaked. His hand very easily slipped past all the obstructions and gently entered her body, all the while very patiently tantalizing her.
For an entire hour, they lingered in the water.
In the end, he had utterly drained her, yet still he did not join his body with hers. Finally, he carried her directly out of the bathtub. After the two of them had dried off and were lying together on the bed, Zhousheng Chen at last said quietly, “I’m sorry. Today… I was not really in the mood.”
Shi Yi did not even utter a sound. Exhausted, she tangled her legs with his and, lying on her side, wrapped her arms around his waist.
Soon, she was about drift off to sleep, but she struggled herself dazedly out of her dreams for just a moment and called his name. “Zhousheng Chen.”
He patted her hand and made a sound in acknowledgement.
“I love you.”
With an “mm,” he answered, “I know. Go to sleep now.”
Her mind at ease now, she fell deep into slumber.
In a muddled, half-asleep state, she felt something cool on her wrist, as if he had slipped something onto it.
The following day, she awoke very early. Shi Yi discovered that last night, he had actually taken the eighteen prayer beads that she had carefully stored away and put it on her. She had already been wearing the safety and peace pendant he had given her, and now, there was the circle of eighteen prayer beads as well. Although Zhousheng Chen had not said anything, she could still sense that he was afraid that something truly would happen to her.
With all these unexpected mishaps and obstacles, she, too, was starting to fear.
Fear that a single misstep would result in something terrible happening.
When she and Zhousheng Chen arrived at the hospital, the people who had been on the main level the previous night were no longer to be found. However, someone had been stationed at every exit, and these people were responsible for monitoring Zhou Wenchuan’s every movement. Zhousheng Chen personally brought Mei Xing in with him, and therefore, no one dared to stop them this time. After all, every person of the Zhou family knew the relationship this this Young Master Mei had with the Zhou family.
They were sitting in the restaurant for this particular level.
Windows that extended to the floor provided a clear view of what was outside.
They sat on the south side while Zhou Wenchuan and Wang Man sat on the other side of the restaurant.
It was an extremely uncanny scene.
However, aside from Shi Yi, everyone seemed to think that this was very normal. She mused in her mind, perhaps for these sorts of families and the internal power struggles that occurred in them, after victory and defeat had been determined, the victor would still organize a dignified and respectable funeral for the other party.
After sitting for a little while, Zhousheng Chen left temporarily to go read through the report from today.
Only she and Mei Xing remained.
Shi Yi threw a casual glance down out the window, and there, she saw Du Feng again.
This person… who was he really? She had never asked Zhousheng Chen because, to some extent, she felt guilty that she had led this “trouble” into the Zhou family. Mei Xing also noticed him, and as he followed her gaze, he said casually, “Isn’t that the Interpol agent who is seeing your friend.”
“Those people are responsible for investigating terrorist activities, drug production and trafficking, arms smuggling…” Mei Xing paused for a moment, seemingly in contemplation. “After the gun battle in Bremen, he started to investigate the Zhou family.”
Too much information received in too short a period of time.
In her mind, Shi Yi rapidly linked everything that had happened since her return from Germany.
Therefore, the gun fight in Bremen was not a coincidence. So… it was very likely that Zhou Wenchuan was behind it. And then, after she returned to the country, that Du Feng had appeared. Did Zhousheng Chen know about this? He must have known. Even Mei Xing clearly knew everything, how could he not know about the identity of this Interpol officer?
She glanced down at the outline of Du Feng’s back on the first floor and somewhat dazedly asked, “So right now, he’s… he’s investigating Zhou Wenchuan?”
Mei Xing did not provide a direct response. With an indifferent smile, he said, “The second young master of the Zhou family does indeed deserve a solid investigation. I believe… there will be some results soon.”
Zhousheng Chen was still talking to the doctors, and her heart was feeling agitated, so she did not continue the conversation.
Compared to what was going on with Zhou Wenchuan, she was more worried about whether Wenxing’s health would pull through…
“Last night…” There was a deep look in Mei Xing’s eyes as he watched her.
“Huh?” Shi Yi did not really understand and stared back at him.
“I’m incredibly sorry I broke your teacup.”
Realizing what he meant, she gave a little laugh. “It’s no big deal.”
It was not an expensive cup of any sort, and she did not know why he would suddenly bring it up.
He, too, chuckled. “Will you let me treat you to a cup of tea?”
Without waiting for Shi Yi’s answer, he had already risen to go ask the restaurant servers for two cups of hot, Hong Kong-style milk tea.
He personally carried the tea back and set it in front of her.
“Thank you,” Shi Yi smiled. “I thought you would treat me to a cup of traditional Chinese tea.”
“The Chinese tea here… shouldn’t be as good as the ones you make.”
When he spoke, his voice was low and deep and seemed to carry a slight joking feel, but it also seemed to have been spoken from the bottom of his heart.
Shi Yi felt a little awkward and searched for a topic to help ease past this moment. “Wenxing…”
In a quiet voice, Mei Xing interrupted her, “If Wenxing can pull through this, I will take her and we will leave China to settle in another country.” He stated, “I will take care of her for the rest of her life.”
“She will,” Shi Yi smiled and said. “When she hears you say that, she will get better for sure.”
“But first, I need to help Zhousheng Chen finish the things he wants to do.” With a wry smile, he shook his head. “I don’t know what I owe him from the previous life that I would so willingly, and without the slightest hesitation, stay by his side to do this type of arduous but thankless work.”
The tone of his words had switched so quickly. This time, it really was in jest.
Shi Yi burst out in a laugh. “The previous life, huh? There are too many people who were indebted to him.”
Mei Xing could not contain his chuckles. “Really? And you know this?”
“It’s true. I know it,” Shi Yi smiled as she also used a joking tone to tell him this.
Such a smile…
Mei Xing seemed somewhat in a trance, and Shi Yi puzzledly looked at him.
He suddenly told her in a quiet voice, “Shi Yi, don’t smile at me. I’m genuinely scared that I would try to contend with him [for you].”
She froze in surprise.
The look in Mei Xing’s eyes as he gazed at her in this moment reminded Shi Yi of the riddle Wenxing had mentioned that time in the old Zhou family manor, the one that he had said he was using to select a wife…… Very quickly, she told Mei Xing in a serious voice, “Alright, I will remember that.”
As he raised his cup and drank his own milk tea, an open, forthright smile came onto Mei Xing’s face that carried a sense of sadness from having spoken out the feelings that had been hidden in the heart.
Once, by way of chance, she had made tea for him. He stored the memory in his heart and also returned the same back to her.
Unknown it was how or when these feelings had taken root. But, it was to love and never to have.
For their fated affinity was no more than a single cup of tea.
说文解字”Shuo Wen Jie Zi.” I explained this once before in footnote  of Chapter 12.3, but just to recap, this book dates back to approximately the 2nd century and describes the etymologies of Chinese characters and how they came about.
In his previous life, for her, he had committed a horrible injustice against an innocent, righteous man and ultimately, had lost the one “her” that he had ever wanted. But perhaps because that life had not been kind to him, this life, he was not severely punished. Instead, he gets to become the good friend of the reincarnated form of the man he had wronged. However, “前世因, 今世果” the seeds of the previous life yields the fruits of this life.” A debt owed in the previous life is still one that needs to be repaid in this life, and though he does not understand why, he feels compelled to stay by his friend’s side, to support him in everything he does.
In that last life, he formed his final wish into a question: “Will you let me have the chance to truly see you, in person?” He asked not for the fate to be with her this life, only to see her in person. Perhaps Heaven was being kind on the man who, although he had made mistakes, had suffered so much in that life and granted him his wish. He did see her and was allowed to share a cup of tea with her. With that wish fulfilled, I feel like the crown prince of the previous life can finally move on in this life.
I really like and appreciate Mei Xing. In this life, he is a 君子 “junzi” or “gentleman,” one who knew to walk away and keep their fate as simple as a sole cup of tea. Such an interesting character. As a man in his mid-thirties and intimately connected, not just to Zhousheng Chen but to the Zhou family, he must be more than aware of what goes on. To be longtime friends of the Zhou family, the Mei family’s background is probably not sparkly clean either. Had he been like Zhousheng Chen, removing himself from the entire setting?
Anyhow, Mo Bao Fei Bao just started writing her latest novel, which is a continuation of this series. There’s a couple characters I hope make it into the story, Mei Xing being one of them, even if they just have cameo roles. That’s wishful thinking for now.
1 of 1 Prologue
49 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues