Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 1

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There will be mention of military rank and organization in this novel. To be honest, although I’ve read up on how its structured in China, I’m not certain that I’ve gotten the most accurate translation of those (and English articles aren’t always consistent in their terminology >_<). I’m a layman when it comes to this stuff, so if anyone is more knowledgable, feel free to point out any inaccuracies.

Years later, he has still some of the same mannerisms, but the way he treats her isn’t the same anymore.

BOOK I

Chapter 1 — A Snowy Night on the Frontier (1)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

That night, Huang Ting still ended up giving her a phone number.

This number was saved into the address book on her phone. To prevent herself from flipping to it during normal times, the name she assigned to it was “ZZZ.” That way, it naturally fell to the very end of her contacts list. However, in reality, she had already memorized it after a single glance.

<>Please support this translation by only reading it at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, its actual site of posting. This would be greatly appreciated by the translator.

Two years later.

Gui Xiao sat in the austere break room of a certain gas station in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Condensation slicked the entire dirty glass window. Outside, goose-down-like snow, in the truest sense of the description, was falling.

“Other people hug their wives at night. People like us, though, only get to hug their steering wheel at night.” Two freight truck drivers complained, “It’s such a snowy day, and it’s nearly dark already. It’ll be brutal driving in this.”

She had been sitting here for more than half an hour already and was long past able to bear it. She rose and, pushing open the wooden door of the break room, walked out to the steps that were blanketed in snow.

Would he come?

She tugged the collar of her parka up so that it reached the tip of her nose.

“Is your friend really going to come?” Behind her, Xiao Cai [Little Cai], who had run out as well to follow her, shivered as she asked this.

“He should be coming, I guess?” Gui Xiao was not certain.

Earlier on the telephone, her explanation had been rather jumbled and disjointed. On the other end of the line, he had merely asked for the address and then hung up.

Her feet were numb already from waiting, but still holding on to a thread of hope, she set her gaze on the sights outside the main door. Another half an hour passed. Her fingertips had lost feeling already. She wanted to go back in but was unwilling to accept that this was the reality. Right as Xiao Cai ran out again for the fourth time, a set of stark-white headlights shone through the snow and over to where they were. A snow-covered off-road vehicle drove in and, without circling around, stopped directly in front of the steps.

Its originally half-open window was then completely rolled down. The person sitting in the driver’s seat was wearing a black, thick padded winter jacket that appeared similar to the combat wear worn by the Special Police, but it was ordinary civilian wear. He wore a hat of the same colour, and in the dimness of the night, his face was indistinct. However, she could still recognize it was him.

“Get in the car.”

Those were the first words he said after yet another two years in which they had not seen each other.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

Gui Xiao ran up beside the vehicle’s window. “The gas station owner told us to head over to the grassland area for a look first…”

“Get in the car.” Lu Yanchen repeated this once more in a tone uncoloured by any emotion.

Feeling awkward, Gui Xiao turned her head and instructed Xiao Cai to tell the other three men, who were still inside taking shelter from the weather, to come out.

When everyone had gotten into the vehicle, those other four people occupied the rear seats and, as if it was only right and proper, left the front passenger seat for Gui Xiao. Hesitatingly, she climbed into the vehicle and then pulled the seat belt strap over, but before she had fastened the buckle, Lu Yanchen had already stamped on the accelerator and was driving away from there.

He still had that same habit: regardless of which of the four seasons it was, his car window would be open.

Winter’s night wind gusted in and evoked shivers in the people sitting in the back seat, but they dared not speak out of turn.

“Would it be okay to shut the window?” Gui Xiao was so cold she could not even keep her tongue straight.

Lu Yanchen flicked a sideways glance at her, then closed the window.

When the glass slowly rose and wedged into place at the highest point, blocking the wind out of the vehicle, everyone in the back seat breathed out in relief. But they also could not help muttering under their breaths that Gui Xiao’s “friend” was just a little too “cool”…

<>Your support by reading this story only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting, would be greatly and sincerely appreciated. Thank you.

Xiao Cai and the others did business in foreign trade, while Gui Xiao had invested in shares in their company.

This time they had a very large shipping order. The goods were to be sent to a distribution centre in the border area of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and then shipped into Mongolia. Xiao Cai and the rest of this group had taken this opportunity to drive here along with the goods, and then, while they were at it, they would hold some business talks with people regarding the cashmere goods business. These matters in themselves had nothing to do with Gui Xiao, but when she heard the words “Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,” she had been restless, unable to even stand or sit without feeling unsettled.

And so, Gui Xiao had come along.

Last night a blizzard had suddenly hit, so they had temporarily taken shelter at the gas station. Xiao Cai’s off-road vehicle, however, ended up disappearing.

The gas station owner was helpless about that as well, but he still kindly gave some advice to them. There was an unwritten rule in this place: car thieves would take the cars they had stolen and leave them out on the nearby steppe. All sorts of license plates could be found, most being “Gan A” and “Gan H”[1], and the vehicles were simply tossed there, densely dotting the area, with no one attending to them while they waited to be sold.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

The gas station owner advised them to secretly sneak over to look for their vehicle and then call the police to go with them to claim it.

This was the quickest method.

Xiao Cai had thought this was feasible. Gui Xiao, however, had put forward the suggestion that they could find one of her friends to help. He was here in this area.

Gui Xiao actually was not certain, was he discharged from the armed forces yet? Was he a part of the Special Operations Force[2] or the Armed Police Force[3]?

In any case, though, his was an occupation that could help them.

<>This translation’s actual site of release is on hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Please support the translation by reading it there. Thank you.

The vehicle drove in the heavy snowfall for half an hour before it came to a stop on the snow-carpeted grassland. Near and far, there were not only many cars swathed in thick, heavy layers of snow, there were also small and large piles of grass. As far as the eye could see, it was all stolen property…

“Just wait a bit. A local friend of mine has gone to ask.” He stopped the car and spoke his second set of words.

And then, he pushed open the door and stepped out.

In the back seat, Xiao Cai lifted her head and said behind Gui Xiao’s shoulder, “This friend of yours is just too cold and unfriendly. He’s scared me so much I don’t even dare say thank you.”

With the vehicle window separating her from him, Gui Xiao gazed out at where he stood in front of the vehicle, his head bowed in the curtain of blowing snow, shielding the flame with his hand as he lit a cigarette. “Mm-hmm,” she answered, “he’s always been like that.”

In this snowy night, the faint light in his palm appeared only fleetingly before disappearing again.

That light had landed on the end of the cigarette, which now flickered in the black of night, seeming to scorch her eyes.

“I’m getting off… to say a few words to him.”

Gui Xiao pushed open the vehicle door and hopped out.

As she had not expected that the snow covering the grass was so thick, Gui Xiao sank deep into it and nearly tripped and fell. She reached behind herself and closed the vehicle door with a thud. Lu Yanchen heard the sound and turned his gaze in her direction. His eyes took in the down parka on her, which in this snow-filled night did nothing to block out the wind, then shifted to glance at her boots, which were obviously wet. “You don’t find it cold?”

Her mind felt dazed.

Back then, when they were together, the two of them would often hang out together beside the canal in the middle of winter. There was one day when she had sat slouched on the front handlebar of his mountain bike, nestled in his arms to take refuge from the wind. After chattering away for a long time, she still had not heard him say anything, so she had asked, “What are you thinking?”

He touched her sleeve. “What am I thinking? I’m thinking, why are your clothes wet?”

“Ah?” Embarrassment coursed up in her. “I told Gugu[4] [Paternal Aunt] not to wash it, but she wouldn’t listen and still did…”

“Why are you wearing it before it’s dry? What, you don’t find it cold?”

How could it not be cold? Her smile was about to freeze onto her lips.

She fidgeted self-consciously for a long while before blowing out a white puff of air from her mouth and mumbling, “This is new. I wanted to wear it for you to see.” It was the middle of winter and she was wearing a half-wet garment to come see him—just thinking about it was enough to make even her feel ridiculously touched.

At the time, he had bowed his head and chuckled.

Back then, the canal’s banks were lined by old groves that had grown up over the previous dozen or so years. The wind was blustery, so there were not many people. Occasionally, accompanied by the jingling of a bicycle bell, someone would cycle by them, but no one was very willing in the winter to take even an extra glance at them, two dating youngsters having their lovey-dovey time. And so, Gui Xiao had absolutely no qualms about tucking herself up in front of him to hide herself from the wind. “You don’t think it looks nice?”

“It’s okay.”

Okay? She was freezing to death and all she got was an “It’s okay”? She grabbed the collar of his down jacket. “You’ve never complimented me before. Compliment me now that I look pretty. Hurry up! Say I look pretty!”

He smiled, his eyes shining especially brightly in the moon’s glow.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

Lu Yanchen shifted his gaze away and continued having his smoke.

“Thanks for helping me.” With great difficulty, Gui Xiao forced out this sentence.

“You’re welcome.”

The wind blew the chill into the very seams of her bones, and she could not control the shivers that came over her. “How many years have you been here?”

Pinching the front of his cigarette between two fingers, he took a long draw, pulling the smoke deep into his lungs. “Nine years.”

“You still haven’t been discharged from service yet?”

“This year.”

“Will you be going back?”

“Been specially enlisted by a stationed unit of the public security police tactical team.” He suddenly looked directly at her. “It would still be in Erenhot[5].”

<>Please support the translation by reading it at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com.  Thank you

He did not end up staying long with them that day.

When that “local friend” he had spoken about arrived, he handed them over into the care of the local police and then drove away. The police officer had driven Xiao Cai’s vehicle directly over, and after turning it over to Xiao Cai, he had them go with him to file a police report and give their statements.

Due to their relationship with Lu Yanchen, that police officer was very courteous to them.

Once the notebook in which their statements were recorded was closed, they officially began to have some idle chitchat.

Xiao Cai and those other few people all worked in foreign trade, so they had adept and smooth interpersonal skills. Less than ten minutes later, they were all comfortably conversing, and the topic naturally found its way to that cool, aloof man who practically bordered on inconsiderate and having no regard for other people.

“… Once the Lunar New Year has passed, Squadron Commander Lu will transfer from first-line counter-terrorism to the police training corps.”

“… In the future, he’ll be training more than 1,000 public security police tactical officers. Commander Lu truly is someone who has fought terrorism since he was enlisted, and even when he takes off his military uniform, he will still be protecting and defending the people—a true man!”

“… A doctor at the Armed Police Hospital said that those violent terrorists had shoved a spear straight into his mouth, and by the time he was brought to the hospital, he was covered in blood. Afterwards, I even joked with him and said, ‘Commander Lu, you have such a pretty face. You need to be careful in the future.”

“… That squadron of theirs is completely made up of the best of the best counter-terrorism soldiers. Several dozen bomb-disposal experts have come out from it, and all the places fight to have them.”

“… Back then, when Commander Lu dismantled a time bomb in thirty seconds, he didn’t even so much as sweat a single drop. That wasn’t the movies; it was the real deal.”

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

These were all things she did not know.

In truth, after they separated, she was not clear on any of the things about him.

Because their breakup at the time had been too unpleasant, she was not really able to thicken her skin and go ask his younger girl cousin, Huang Ting, so she would only every so often hear the people in Gugu’s family say, “Oh, Huang Ting’s family has a relative whose son, halfway through his perfectly good university education, just up and joined the military. He even ended up going to Inner Mongolia. That’s so remote. It’ll be hard for him to get a transfer back.”

<>It would be greatly appreciated by the translator if you would read this story only at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com.  Thank you

When they were about to leave the police station, those several police officers finally mentioned that, actually, it was only because someone in his squadron had been injured while on a mission and was being treated at the nearby Armed Police Hospital that Lu Yanchen was able to come over this time.

In the end, a police officer wrote down his own mobile phone number and gave it to Gui Xiao, saying that Lu Yanchen nevertheless was in the Armed Police squadron and was not necessarily able to come out at any time. Next time, if they encountered any sort of trouble where the law and discipline had been violated, they could come find him directly.

Gui Xiao took it from him and said thank you, but she also said he could rest assured; she likely would not trouble him again.

After all, she truly could not think of any other opportunity she might have to come to the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the future.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

However, when they arrived at their hotel, Xiao Cai wheedled and pestered her once more, hoping that they could take advantage of this time when Lu Yanchen was still in the city, to see him one more time and have a dinner together as a way of showing their appreciation. The other business partners with them also echoed their agreement with this.

Be it out of hero worship, a genuine desire to express gratitude, or a hope that they would have someone watching their backs from now on, everyone in the group, in any case, was extremely keen. Xiao Cai even picked up her mobile phone and dialed Lu Yanchen’s number.

“Don’t call. I actually don’t know him that well… I’m afraid it’ll be awkward,” Gui Xiao said, trying to stop her.

“What’s there to be awkward about? Gui Xiao, you’re just not sensible enough and acting with good manners. He helped you out with such a big favour.”

Because her mobile phone was on the China Telecom network and earlier on at the gas station she had had poor reception, the previous phone call to Lu Yanchen had been made from Xiao Cai’s China Mobile phone. Now, Xiao Cai had the phone number, so even if Gui Xiao wanted to stop her, she could not.

“Hello? Commander Lu?”

Gui Xiao’s heart clenched.

Xiao Cai gave a wink at her while, smiling, she invited, “We want to treat you to dinner to express our thanks. You don’t know how important that car is to me. My husband just gave it to me. If I lost it, all hell might break loose in the household. I really am so grateful to you.”

<>This translation’s actual site of release is hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Please support it by reading it only from there. Thank you.

“How about tonight? Let’s not drag it out… Okay. Okay. I’ll message you the address of the restaurant in a bit.”

The call was hung up. Xiao Cai was very cheerful. “Hurry. All of you go change into some clean clothes for me. We’re going to go eat a good meal.”

Gui Xiao pulled out the clothing she had brought at the last minute with her. Crouching in front of her suitcase, she wavered, not knowing which outfit she should wear. Before her eyes, image after image superimposed one upon the other. Only someone who had deeply loved another person in her youth would understand this feeling. In the end, she chose a pair of sky-blue trousers, paired it with a white sweater, and slipped on a black, ankle-length cashmere overcoat and black ankle boots.

As she faced the mirror, what came to Gui Xiao’s mind was that this afternoon, he, too, had been wearing black military boots.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

When they arrived at the restaurant, their group pushed open the door of the private dining room.

Inside, there sat only a little boy who looked to be seven or eight years old. He lifted his head, and when he caught sight of Gui Xiao, his eyes gleamed and fixed on her. Everyone was surprised, not knowing where this child had come from.

Xiao Cai addressed a server, “Who does this child belong to? Go ask around. You don’t want the kid to have gone to the wrong place and his parents to worry.”

“Auntie, I belong to Lu Yanchen.” The little boy grinned. “My dad went out for a smoke and told me to stay here and wait for the guests.”

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

[1] Chinese license plates are identified by a prefix Chinese character, followed by a letter from the Latin alphabet, and then lastly the string of numbers that are the actual plate number. Here, the prefix is 甘 “Gan”, which means the vehicle is from the province of Gansu. The letter “A” identifies a vehicle as being from the city of Lanzhou, Gansu, while “H” identifies a vehicle as being from Wuwei, Gansu.

[2] See footnote [6] for an explanation of the People’s Armed Police Force. The People’s Armed Police Special Operations Force units, which are also called Special Police Units, are tactical units. In general, the Special Police are organized into Special Duty Squadrons, with specific focus areas such as bomb disposal, counter-terrorism, riot-control, etc. Members of the Special Police are carefully selected from People’s Armed Police soldiers who have shown excellence, and they are specially trained in the PAP Special Police College.

[3] The Chinese People’s Armed Police (PAP) Force belongs to the Chinese Armed Forces. It is not a part of the People’s Liberation Army and, rather, is a paramilitary force. In contrast to the Chinese police, which is responsible for internal threats, the PAP deals with external threats as well as internal crimes that occurred over multiple zones or are large-scale, e.g. terrorism, drug-trafficking, etc.

[4] 姑姑 “gu gu.” This is how you would address the sister of your father. Gui Xiao at the time was living in the home of her paternal aunt.

[5] 二连浩特 Erenhot (also commonly referred to in China as Erlian or its name in full pinyin, Erlianhaote) is a city in Inner Mongolia and is near the border with Mongolia.

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

Completed:
1 of 1 Prologue
1 of 43 Chapters
0 of 1 Epilogues

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22 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 1

  1. Thank you for another translation. I have been a quiet follower of your blog and I truly enjoy your translation.

    I really appreciate your dedication and effort so that we can read all those beautiful novels together.

  2. Thank you I can’t wait for the next chapter ❤️❤️

  3. Hoju, thanks for the translación.
    Since Go Go Squid started I followed your blog. I read all of Mo Bao Fei Bao, except The Healing Sunshine. The same with peanut. I love you job. I was waiting for a new translación to follow it and here I am. From the prologue. A happy trip awaits us. Thank you again.

    • Hi! It’s awesome that you found our little blog. (The Healing Sunshine is a lovely story, too. Steel your heart for some places, but I find it very touching and, at times, inspirational.)

      Yay! I love it when people follow along with a translation. It makes it so much more fun for the translator. Enjoy, and thank you for reading!

  4. 2 years it took to meet again! Waiting to see how the dinner goes.
    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

  5. Wow so much time lapsed between their last meeting. Cant imagine how it feels grasping at the straws, trying to find a reason to see someone. Even after so long. Can’t wait to learn more about their back story. Thanks Hoju!

    • Precisely! Even now, her reason for coming is barely grasping at straws. It shows how much he has been imprinted into her heart.

      Thanks for reading!

  6. His son?
    Thank you for the chapter!

  7. That last sentence brought a pang to my heart,,, ouchh

  8. Thank you. Another novel to enjoy. Your blog opened a new world to me. I learned to listen to audio book (mandarin) because of Mo Bao Fei Bao novels. Already this story is dragging me into China (again).

    • So glad we could play a role in opening up a hobby for you. 🙂 Audiobooks have exploded in recent years. There is much more selection compared to when I started listening back in the RRMY days. 🙂

      Thanks for reading here, too!

  9. cant believe it took 2 years after the meeting for her to have another ‘reason’ to look after him.
    and wow.. the cliffhanger at the end, eventho i’m sure the kid doesn’t belong to Lu Yanchen. Seems so shady since the kid already recognize Gui Xiao. is it Lu Yanchen’s way to drove Gui Xiao away?
    Anyway thank you for translating this novel.

    • Erenhot is not exactly a tourist destination. LOL. Haha, well, there are only two women in the group. 🙂 Makes the process of elimination much easier. 🙂
      Thanks for reading

  10. Honestly I am having a hard time tolerating Gui Xiao hahahah. Okay I will give her the benefit of the doubt 😅 for now… These lines is bothering me a lot “how many times he begged you back then to make up… Do you know how hard-hearted you were?!”. Suddenly I miss outrageously JiYi and JiChengyang 😭.

    • LOL. I love how we can get our hearts so involved in a story.
      My advice: It’s not even benefit of the doubt. Don’t go in with any preconceived notions. At this point, we don’t even know anything about their breakup. All we’ve heard is one statement from Huang Ting, who is not even an involved party. If you’re going in expecting to dislike someone, well, the characters are flawed, so you will probably find stuff to dislike. 🙂 I trust you’ll have no problems feeling for Lu Chen, but if you look, you may find that Gui Xiao’s side of the story evokes compassion too. 🙂

      I miss Zhousheng Chen lately. :p

      Thanks for reading!

  11. Thanks Hoju…
    His adopted son?..so that boy knew Gui Xiao..sure his father show him her picture…its seem Lu Yanchen never forget her😅

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