Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 17

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When did Lu Yanchen decide that he wanted to reconcile and start over with Gui Xiao?

Chapter 17 — The Road Ahead is Still Unknown (3)

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.

 

Lu Yanchen had always been quick and efficient when it came to cooking. In less than twenty minutes, three dishes had come out of the pan.

Smelling the enticing aroma, two young girls from the automobile repair shop’s finance department, each carrying a stainless steel lunch box, came over to ask for a couple spoonfuls of food. After tasting some, they were full of praise. “Chen Ge, your cooking skills are so good. How come, then, these last couple of days, if it hasn’t been fried rice then it’s been instant noodles for you?”

“There was just me. Didn’t want to go to the trouble.”

Disliking that there was so much airborne grease and smoke, Lu Yanchen turned on the hood fan over the stove. Then he pulled out a cigarette and lit it in the stove’s flame.

“We have so many people. Chen Ge, if you’re willing to cook, we’re totally okay with paying food costs.”

Lu Yanchen turned a deaf ear to these remarks.

Inside the pot, the broth, along with the fish meat in it, which had been cooked until soft and falling apart, was boiling and releasing a thick, milky colour. Although the little grass carp that Qin Xiaonan brought back was not enough to eat, it made a pretty good soup. He scooped out some with a soup spoon and, reaching behind his back, grabbed Gui Xiao’s wrist and brought her over in front of himself. “Have a try. Is it salty?”

Under the watchful gazes of two pairs of eyes, Gui Xiao blew on the soup for a little bit, then had a taste. “Nope, not salty.”

Lu Yanchen enjoyed taking in her appearance when she ate. In the past when he cooked for her, whenever she was happy from eating, she would twitch her nose. Very satisfied and very content, she would lean in and kiss him with her greasy lips, then say, “Paying you for the meal.”

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

Wishing there was more, Gui Xiao finished off the rest of the soup in the spoon. “This soup is so fresh and delicate-tasting.”

Lu Yanchen took an inhale from the cigarette in his right hand, his gaze locking with Gui Xiao’s. A delicious aroma pervaded everywhere, and the scent of cigarette smoke was also strong.

The light of the sun streamed through those tendrils of gray smoke. It was similar to those movies that she had watched out in the open-air square when she was a kid. The light projecting from the machine had been this same type of light, making visible the dust that drifted and danced in the air. Up close, there clearly were just light and dust, but after that light was projected dozens of metres away onto that large screen, it became the coherent, visual picture of a story. So remarkable.

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

As he gazed at her in this moment, Gui Xiao actually had a certain feeling—she felt that, in front of all those other eyes, he was going to kiss her…

Lu Yanchen turned his head to the side to blow a cloud of smoke out the window, a trace of a smile showing on his face.

<>The translator would sincerely appreciate it if you would read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting. Thank you.

Shortly after, a middle-aged woman, with hair that was piled in a high bun on her head and shiny from all the hair mousse in it, strolled out from the finance office. She first took a glance at the fish soup before carefully scrutinizing Gui Xiao’s face. Then, taking a spoon from the hand of one of the girls, she had a taste. “Lu Chen’s cooking really is very good. His future wife is certainly going to get to enjoy the good life.”

This was Lu Yanchen’s biaojiuma[1] [wife of his mother’s male cousin].

He did not need to think too deeply to know that his mother’s visit here that had “coincidentally” allowed her to see Gui Xiao was undoubtedly thanks to this person.

Biaojiu[2]’s [mother’s male cousin’s] entire family would be considered poor relatives who relied on Lu Yanchen’s family to put food on the table. Lu Yanchen had started to form and retain memories quite early in life, and to date he still had impressions of things that had occurred when he was three or four years old. For instance, the first time he was beaten by his father was when he was a little over three years old, and unable to handle the thrashing, he had wailed as he swiped at the blood pouring from his nose. Biaojiuma had been right there beside him and had made some cursory shows of trying to stop his father. Afterwards, he had heard her, with his own ears, coach his mother, “The rod’s beating forms a filial son. If you spare the rod, you spoil the child. Your husband is the one you’re with for your whole life. Which family doesn’t hit their children, eh?! If you don’t beat him, you’re going to let him become a hooligan.”

When he was in middle school, this woman’s favourite thing to say was, “Back when you were little and your dad beat you, I helped you hold him back a lot of times. Lu Chen, you can’t forget how good Biaojiuma has been to you.”

<>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 did not have much of a friendly face to show to this woman who was trying to jump in and make conversation, and his eyes displayed a great sense of annoyance.

Feeling rather awkward, that other party put her hands behind her back and called those two young girls back out. Standing just outside of the little metal door of the finance office, she snapped out a few sentences of rebuke at the girls. Her voice was raised very high, and her words insinuated that Lu Yanchen had so many visitors that this hallway was always noisy, disturbing all the people who were diligently trying to work and causing them to be unfocused. It was not as if Gui Xiao was a child; she could understand the meaning beneath what was being said, so she cast a glance at him.

Lu Yanchen grabbed a walnut from atop the windowsill. With a smack, he slammed it down onto the corner of the cupboard, smashing the shell. Peeling away the various-sized pieces of skin, he stuffed the walnut meat into her mouth. As Gui Xiao chewed it, her mouth teemed with bitterness and a rich flavour, and so she poked her head over and also grabbed a walnut. Mimicking him, she, too, smacked it down. It hurt so much that her brows crumpled together. “How did you do that? How come you can crack it open with just one smack?”

Finding the look on her face amusing, Lu Yanchen smashed open another one and handed it to her. “Take it easy. Don’t hurt your hand.”

Gui Xiao did not take the walnut from him and, rather, turned his palm up and down, this way and that, examining it. There were calluses on his hand, but not many. She remembered, when she was young, she had an older girl cousin who worked as a prison guard and, reportedly, had specifically practiced how to break bricks with just a chop from her bare hands. And so, she asked him, “Are you able to break bricks with your bare hands, too?”

“Haven’t really seriously practiced it, so I’m not good at it,” he answered. “Some of the soldiers I’ve led like to do that. They’ll make a vertical stack and break them. If it’s done back to back, they can break thirty to forty bricks in one breath.”

<>The translator would sincerely appreciate it if you would read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting. Thank you.

When Hai Dong returned with the cornstarch and some nice alcohol, he was just in time to see Gui Xiao studying Lu Yanchen’s hand. Through that somewhat dirty little glass window between the kitchen and the hallway, he watched those two, feeling that things were just as they had been before.

For a while, Hai Dong was lost in his own thoughts as he watched, and his lips murmured, “So good. This is so good.”

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

Hai Dong had already prepared both his emotions and some wine, and so this meal was eaten from midday all the way until sundown.

Lu Yanchen told Qin Xiaonan to wash up, brush his teeth, and go to bed first, and also instructed a few of the shop’s young mechanics to take the drunken men back to their respective villages. He and Gui Xiao worked together and tossed Hai Dong into the back of the car. As Hai Dong leaned back in the seat, he scrutinized Gui Xiao beneath the yard lighting and mumbled, “Little Sis-In-Law. Xiaoshan, ah, Xiaoshan…”

Gui Xiao’s heart gave a little lurch when she heard this, and there was a glum, repressed feeling in her. Acting as if she had not heard anything, she closed the car door for him.

Gui Xiao had never been to Hai Dong’s home before. It was in the furthest village of the town, and from the auto repair shop, it took more than forty minutes to get there.

In addition to Hai Dong’s mother, Hai Jianfeng and a rather young girl came out to meet them. At first, Hai Jianfeng did not see that the one sitting in the front passenger seat was Gui Xiao. Rather, it was Hai Dong who, utterly hammered and hugging that young girl, turned around and slurred, “Little Sis-In-Law… don’t go… don’t go… Wait for your big bro to come find you again tomorrow…”

Hai Jianfeng was surprised. After discerning by the glow of the headlights that it was Gui Xiao, he was stunned for a long time. Walking up to the window, he asked, “Gui Xiao, do you still remember me?”

Gui Xiao grinned. “What a waste of words.”

All sorts of emotions rushed up in Hai Jianfeng. “I was in Dalian two years ago. I heard them say that you came back. I was quite sorry that I didn’t get to see you at the classmates’ reunion. You… um, that… that…” He babbled out “that” for a long while but was still unable to spit out a complete sentence.

Hai Dong roared, “Hai Jianfeng, don’t you keep thinking about Gui Xiao. She’s your Chen Ge’s wife.”

Anxious, Hai Jianfeng swiftly defended himself. “What are you talking about, Big Bro? I’m just excited because I saw an old classmate.”

Hai Dong threw an arm around Lu Yanchen’s shoulder. “Let me tell you: from right at the start of first, first, first-year middle school, my little bro here had already taken a fancy to your wife, but he didn’t dare say it. Your wife’s picture is right at the head of his bed. It’s been there since graduation. A white blouse, red overalls…”

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

The atmosphere in the yard became rather peculiar.

When he unexpectedly saw Gui Xiao here, Hai Jianfeng had only been occupied with being excited and had not really considered why she was here and in Lu Yanchen’s car. Now hearing these words from Hai Dong, he felt only that the situation was getting unsalvageable, and hurriedly he declared his innocence. “No, there isn’t. Don’t listen to my big bro’s nonsense talk.”

At the time, Gui Xiao and Lu Yanchen had been very cautious about their underage romance, and very few people had actually known about it. Even Hai Jianfeng had only heard about it after Gui Xiao graduated from middle school, but by then he did not get to see Gui Xiao anymore either. And then later, he heard that the two had broken up.

He had not thought—never had he thought—that they would get back together again after so long.

His mood had swung too greatly between its highs and lows, and he momentarily did not know how to cover up for this awkwardness. A splash of red assaulted his rough, male face. “Didn’t expect that you would still end up being with Chen Ge. That’s so good that something like that could be restored. That wasn’t easy.”

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

Sweeping a glance at Lu Yanchen from the corner of her eye, Gui Xiao smiled at Hai Jianfeng, which could be considered her way of giving him a way out of this awkward moment.

Gui Xiao had encountered a similar situation before.

A few years ago during a high school classmates’ reunion, everyone had been sitting around the dinner table and exposing one another’s secrets—who had had a crush on whom, or which name had been howled out after lights-out in the dormitory. The person who had had the crush had, in good grace and as a good sport, given a self-mocking grin, while the one who had been the object of the crush had gone along with everything and cried out in surprise, “So you actually had a crush on me? Why didn’t you say something earlier? If you’d said something, we might have gotten together.”

Everyone had then responded with hoots of laughter. It was all about the fond memories and reminiscence of their adolescence. No one had truly thought of doing anything with that.

With his car key hooked around his finger, Lu Yanchen sauntered up behind Hai Jianfeng and gave a smack to the back of his head. “Deliver the photo over tomorrow.”

Hai Jianfeng’s face turned an even brighter shade, thoroughly red from trying to suppress his self-consciousness. “No, Chen Ge, don’t get the wrong idea. I haven’t had it out for a long time already…” This sure was ridiculously rotten luck, that he, a grown, twenty-eight-year-old man was forced into such straits because of the truth that his tang-brother had let out after having alcohol. Eventually Hai Jianfeng gritted his teeth in resolution. Forget it; he would just go get it now. His house was just next door anyway.

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In the end, the photograph really was returned.

The entire scene and atmosphere was extremely weird.

It made Gui Xiao feel as if she had had some sort of secret love affair. She took from Hia Jianfeng that picture frame that held the photograph of her. It really was a picture of her when she was in middle school. In it, the season was summer and she was dressed in a short-sleeved blouse and red overalls with long, thin straps.

The car drove away from the village. The road was bumpy and the light was dim. She was still carefully looking over that photograph in her hand, stroking the face of herself inside it. She truly had been young back then, and her face had been petite and narrow, too. She then pulled down the mirror on the car visor and stared at her present self—not nearly as nice-looking as in her youth.

“Why does he have a picture of you?”

Gui Xiao shook her head. “Don’t know. I think this photo was taken by the teacher. Maybe he asked the teacher for it…”

It had been on the way to a choir competition? It seemed that was it.

A truck came driving in the oncoming direction. The sudden light caused Lu Yanchen to squint his eyes. “Quite sentimental of him.”

Very astutely, she flipped the picture frame over so that it was face down on her leg, not daring to look at it anymore.

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

To the left of the road was the canal; to the right was a wide stretch of farmland.

During the night, the sky in this place was midnight-blue and emanated a chilliness to it.

White, plastic film had been spread over the fields, and spaced evenly but not too far apart were either bricks or black metal poles placed on top, holding the film down. It was a boundless expanse of white. Casting her gaze far away, she could vaguely make out that behind a distant row of trees, there were still more. When Gui Xiao first met Meng Xiaoshan and Hai Dong and they had passed by this place while riding their bicycles to go hang out somewhere, she had even asked what the purpose was for covering everything with plastic sheets. Hai Dong had told her that it was to increase soil temperature and retain moisture in order to improve soil fertility.

“When I heard Hai Dong call Meng Xiaoshan’s name, my heart really, especially ached. I was afraid he would never forget Meng Xiaoshan.” Gui Xiao’s heart felt a little stifled with emotions. “But when I saw that he has a girlfriend, my heart ached, too. How can he really just let go of Meng Xiaoshan and what they had?”

This way of thinking was very unfair to Hai Dong. Even Gui Xiao felt she was being unreasonable and just making an issue out of things.

Lu Yanchen responded to this with silence.

The friendship between men is completely unlike that between women. Regarding Hai Dong’s love life and relationships, Hai Dong had only, on the telephone in a certain year, given a nebulous sentence of “Meng Xiaoshan married Qin Feng,” and then said nothing else. Neither had Lu Yanchen asked any further. It was just like how when he and Gui Xiao broke up, he had never mentioned anything to Hai Dong and Hai Dong had only heard about it through Meng Xiaoshan.

Therefore, in Lu Yanchen’s eyes, Hai Dong already had another girlfriend and this whole matter, of course, was in the past already.

But judging from Gui Xiao’s present expression, she should have heard from Meng Xiaoshan quite a bit of the little details of those deep feelings and emotional workings of a woman. The information they had each received was too disparate, so it was not appropriate for him to express any sort of opinion.

“If I hadn’t lost my vehicle in Erenhot or asked you for help, would we not be together now?” As Gui Xiao thought about this, she was very sorrowful. “Would it be, then, that you would have married Zhao Minshan?”

For a long time, Lu Yanchen did not say anything.

He did not know how girls’ minds worked, but he did understand Gui Xiao. She had many little thoughts, and since a young age, she always liked to let her mind think about this and ponder on that, with no limits to how far it would stray. If those thoughts were not taken control of at the first signs of them, in the end they would spill over unchecked and become like floodwaters.

<>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.

Unfastening his seat belt, Lu Yanchen said, “Go to the back and talk.”

Gui Xiao had been soaking in her sorrowful feelings when he suddenly cut in on them… It was not as if she was a child. How could she not know about those things?

Back then, when she had sat on the front handlebar of his bicycle, it was not that she had not done lovey-dovey and intimate things with him as they nuzzled together in the cold wind on these canal banks. But at the time, she had been very innocent. Now…

When she closed the car door with a thud, the doors locked automatically.

Inside the car, it was dim. The dashboard glowed with a pretty, neon-blue light. He had long since turned down the volume of the radio to the lowest setting, and she had to listen hard to discern that it was playing a talk-show program. His breath and scent seemed to surge towards her from all directions and come to a halt right in front of her face, at a distance that was so close he was about to contact her. “If you hadn’t gone to Erenhot, I wouldn’t have come back to Beijing. Do you understand now?”

He had come back for her—no other reason.

If not for Gui Xiao, he simply could have just stayed in Erenhot and when the Zhao family could not take it anymore, they naturally would have broken off the marriage agreement. But he could not drag things out; he could not afford to drag things out. Life is too short. What he dragged out would be his and Gui Xiao’s time. From the moment he opened his mouth and asked her to help Qin Xiaonan find a school, he had held the notion of starting over with her. In the Erenhot airport, as he watched her holding the boy’s hand and walking into the security checkpoint, he had known that all these years his feelings for her had not diminished in the slightest.

He had originally wanted to resolve everything first so that Gui Xiao would not be aware of any of it when she started afresh with him. But, where in this world has there ever been a wall that does not have cracks, and when has this world ever had a secret that could absolutely be contained? That day she had asked him, “Are you getting married?” At the time, nothing had been resolved yet. He could not lie to her and tell her no.

To her, he had never spoken a single word of lie.

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

By the light of the moon, Gui Xiao was able to see his short hair and his clear, defined features. Then, when her gaze continued downwards, she saw the neckline of his shirt.

She moved her lips slightly, in a soft voice also telling him words of truth. “This trip to Erenhot, even if we hadn’t lost the car, I actually still would have gone to find you. Two years ago, I’d already asked Huang Ting for your number…” Because she wanted to see him. Even if she had to be brazenfaced in order to see him just one time, that would still be good.

Lu Yanchen’s gaze was riveted to her eyes.

She spoke again quietly. “I can even recite your number backwards.”

Without speaking a single word, Lu Yanchen brought his head down. His tongue slipped past her lips and sought hers. His palm caressed her soft, delicate skin that was beneath her long tresses. As their kiss continued, he enticed her tongue out and, in the open air, sucked on it, the frosty air magnifying their senses infinitely.

Faintly, she could make out the kissing and sucking motions between the two of them.

<>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.

Outside the car the wind was very loud, but it was completely different from the wind on the steppe. The wind that blew deep in the night over the steppe allowed you to hear vastness and bleakness in it, while here, no matter how strong the wind was, it would still be trapped between row upon row of towering poplar trees and have to swirl about, creating a dull, whistling howl. It was as if it was trapping people here, once more binding the young Lu Chen back to the canal banks of this deep winter, tying him to her side.

The cashmere sweater that Gui Xiao was wearing was tied at the neckline with crisscrossing straps. This morning he had untied it once already, so now he was familiar with it and could manage it with ease. When he was with the girl he loved, this man who had just passed into his thirties was still like a hot-blooded adolescent. After getting a little peek at that certain part of her body this morning, he would think about it, want to try things, want to have it, want every part of her to become his.

Their kiss had progressed to a point that was beyond their control. Unconsciously, he used his thumb to rub and knead the rosy-red bud that was beneath her sweater, within her undergarment. His dark, shadowed eyes took in her every subtle expression. His toying motions through her clothing were causing tingles along Gui Xiao’s spine. Her dewy lips parted slightly. “Don’t play. It’s uncomfortable…”

A chuckle reverberated huskily from within his throat. “Don’t play with what?”

A blush rushed into Gui Xiao’s cheeks, and she heard her own heart pounding against her chest. Things weren’t the same anymore. That adolescent of the past had now passed the age of thirty. The desire that was now rising up in his eyes was so direct and seductive, like a bottomless vortex that was dragging her down into it.

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

[1] 表舅妈 “biao jiu ma.” In English, this technically would be called “the wife of your first cousin, once removed.” It is how one would address in Chinese the wife of your mother’s male cousin. Due to the clunkiness of the English, I have kept it in pinyin.

[2] 表舅 “biao jiu.” This is technically “male first cousin, once removed.” The story here is referring to Lu Yanchen’s mother’s male cousin.

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
17 of 43 Chapters
0 of 1 Epilogues

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18 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 17

  1. Thanks Hoju
    I like the last paragraph😍
    Are they stop halfway or continue?

  2. LOL this chapter is steamier than I thought.

    I really nice the progression and also how Lu Chen’s thought process was written…

    • I like this chapter because it shows how Lu Chen is purposely adapting himself to the way Gui Xiao works. He naturally is not a man of many words and doesn’t like to provide explanations if he doesn’t need to, but Gui Xiao needs words and explanations–that’s how she works. Often, people tend to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but in a relationship, I truly believe that you should “do unto others as they want you to do unto them.” Loving a person the way she wants to be loved, to me, is true love. (LOL, does that make sense?)

  3. Finally together and alone so they could clear things up 🥰 thank you hoju as always a wonderful translation ♥️

    • Yes, finally! (Although, to be fair, from leaving Qin Xiaonan’s future teacher’s house to the end of this chapter, it’s only been one day.)

      And thank you for reading!

  4. lol I was always thinking the same like Gui Xiao.. if she hadn’t gone back would he have married ZM?

    • You will find that Gui Xiao likes to lay things out in the open. (I really like that quality of hers.) If it bothers her, she won’t leave a question unasked. 🙂

  5. Thanks hojuuu!!

  6. In regards to the question, I was thinking he was already planning to get back with her as soon as she contacted him in Erehot. But that was only before reading the whole chapter.

    And dang, someone that I could totally loathe, that first male cousin’s wife (what a mouthful title). She reminds me so much of my older cousins. ‘Remember when so and so’ oh hush Becky!

    • You will get a few more details here and there about his thoughts at the beginning of the book. Sometimes, I feel like this story gives more insights into Lu Chen’s mind’s workings than even Gui Xiao’s.

      It is a mouthful! She’s basically a “distant aunt.” She is nosy… and frustrating, to put it kindly.

  7. Thank you Hoju, argh I need more lol 😂

  8. LYC can be quite the black belly type too XD
    thank you

  9. Glad Gui Xiao decided to call/meet Lu Chen one last time after having his number for 2 years. What a way to end the chapter. These little bit of scenes the author gives is so hot 😊.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 😀.

    • If Gui Xiao hadn’t taken the initiative to find him, nothing would have happened. Gui Xiao made the first move, and so because of it, Lu Yanchen was able to make the next move and ask her to help with Qin Xiaonan. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

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