Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 22

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Halfway mark!

Something very, very unexpected arises…

Edit: Sorry, I forgot to include the link to the song. Post has been updated with the song.

Chapter 21 — Monuments and Tombstones (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.

 

Most of the time during that summer break after they started dating, the two of them had hung out in either the town’s arcade or the billiards hall.

In those days, there had been no air conditioning. The arcade would have many people in it and was very stuffy.

The odours of cigarettes and sweat would meld together in that mucky air and mingle with the deafening music coming from the various big and small arcade game machines. Shadows and silhouettes would rock and sway, and from time to time, laughter would burst out from one of the corners. She was wearing shorts, and, having perspired quite a bit, the undersides of her legs were sticky and it was uncomfortable to be sitting. After shifting about for a little while, she thought of something that had been on her heart but had never been resolved, and so she tilted her head to look back at the person who was at a slight diagonal to her. “Lu Chen?”

He gave her a look, waiting for her to speak.

“That day in the billiards hall, why did you want to play pool with me?”

Far away, a roar of laughter suddenly erupted. Lu Chen turned his eyes in that direction, replying, “Who knows?”

She tugged his arm. “ ‘Fess up. Did you fall for me at first sight?”

Bringing his face in closer, Lu Chen countered in a low voice, “How is that even possible?”

Her face turning crimson, Gui Xiao bit down on her lower lip. Without saying anything else, she pressed “Start” to begin a new game. When she had nearly lost everything and was about ready to go, a large box of newly purchased video game tokens was unexpectedly set down in front of her…

She grew even more piqued, and grabbing a handful of tokens, she stuffed them all into the coin slot. The stuffing of coins continued—and the losing also continued.

Lu Chen, in contrast, did not really mind and chatted behind her with Hai Dong. Occasionally, when he was bored, he would hum a couple of lines from a song. At first Gui Xiao had not paid attention, but later, after losing several games in a row, she had secretly listened to a few lines of what he was singing. Immediately, she had become elated… To date, she could still recite from memory, without missing a single word, the lyrics of that song: “Why did I become enthralled by you?” I ask myself. I can give up anything, yet today, it is so difficult to leave. You are not beautiful, but you are so extremely adorable, Cinderella, my Cinderella…”

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

✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

<>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.

His singing cut across those lengthy years.

There was the drawn cry of a car horn.

Turning her head, Gui Xiao saw a stark light enveloping that lonely, dark-red umbrella.

The scene in this moment was an exact reflection of that saying, “Life is like a journey, and I, too, am a passing traveller.[1]” Actually, that was not right either. It should be this: “All beings are passing travellers.”

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

A driver who was passing by noticed their car forlornly stopped on the road, and so stepping on the brakes, he inquired, “Do you need help?”

As if these words had scalded her, Gui Xiao hastily struggled off from atop Lu Yanchen. “It’s all fixed, it’s all fixed already.”

That driver was a kindhearted person, telling them that if they drove onwards for another half an hour, they would see Erenhot, and since their car was fixed, they should not delay as roads at night nevertheless were not too safe. Gui Xiao smilingly agreed and said that they would not delay. Seeing that the man had left, Lu Yanchen also stood and packed away their bags and tools. Then they continued on their way.

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The last time Gui Xiao came here, Erenhot had been blanketed in snow. Now, though, when they entered the city, she saw the snow had already completely melted away.

Lu Yanchen took a phone call that lasted a very long time. However, he did not speak much during it, as if he was cherishing his words like they were gold.

“Was that my dad?” she asked in a quiet voice.

Shaking his head, Lu Yanchen told her, “One of my former superiors.”

On that wide road, there were not many vehicles. The occasional few that drove by were all Russian-made vehicles that looked similar to Beijing-Jeeps.

She was trying to guess what Lu Yanchen was feeling presently. Even she, because he had resided here for so long in the Xilingol League[2], carried special feelings for this place, especially this city of Erenhot.

This time Lu Yanchen was the one who had made the hotel reservation.

After their bags were brought into the room, he told Gui Xiao, “Before I left, I submitted a request to exit the country’s borders, but it’s encountered some problems. I need to make a trip back tonight.” For those who serve in the military, leaving the country is as difficult as climbing to the blue skies above. This was something she knew very clearly. Previously, when she was completing the paperwork and processes for exiting the country, he had said that all of his credentials were still tied to his original location and told her to not worry about him and just take care of her own application.

Therefore, hearing him say this, Gui Xiao actually became concerned. “How about you stay in Erenhot and I’ll just go for you to see Qin Xiaonan’s mom and bring back the hukou booklet?”

“We’ll talk about it when I’m back.”

“About what time will you be back?” Gui Xiao was considering whether she should sleep first or wait for him.

He appeared to be in quite a good mood as he answered, “Really soon.”

“Then I’ll wait for you to get back.” She saw him out the door.

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Leaving the hotel, Lu Yanchen drove straight to the address that had been told to him over the phone.

The night wind blew through the open window and into the vehicle. The weather was so cold, but his blood was burning hot.

Gui Xiao was absolutely a good-luck charm. Never had he thought that prior to removing his military uniform, his greatest wish would soon be fulfilled. That group of car thieves were actually traffickers. Their trafficking channels were very well established, and they also had some collusion with powerful forces outside of the country. That day, after the police held the preliminary interrogation of those car thieves, it was practically as if they had obtained the most precious of treasures. Immediately sending a report to their higher-ups, they had then followed the clues and investigated, and just after the Spring Festival, they had pulled in their nets.

The seizure had captured an unexpectedly big fish.

Originally, the superiors in the squadron had wanted to summon Lu Yanchen and have him travel through this night to come back and assist in the interrogation, but since he coincidentally had already returned here, they had moved the questioning up to take place tonight instead.

Very shortly, Lu Yanchen drove the vehicle into the site.

Leaving the vehicle in an arbitrary corner in the parking lot, he got out and strode towards the door on the right of the building. Several members of the Special Police with whom he had collaborated in the past saw him and gave greetings to him. All along the way, they would address him, “Commander Lu,” “Commander Lu,” …

When he walked in the doorway, someone stepped out from the second last interrogation room in the hallway. Smiling, that person exchanged polite greetings with him. “This time, the credit for tracking down these people should go to Sister-In-Law.”

Lu Yanchen’s voice was very low. “Luck.”

Discussing the details in quiet tones, the two stepped in that door.

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

There was no obvious source of light in this room. In the very centre, a partition of glass separated the interrogation room from the holding room. Standing in the light’s glow on the other side of the glass was a row of people.

When Lu Yanchen walked in, the people in the interrogation room one after the other turned around and gave a nod to him in silent greeting.

The Lu Yanchen of the present was travel-stained and garbed entirely in civilian clothing. From top to bottom, everything he wore, his long pants, his sneakers, had not a single adornment or design on it. Even his padded winter jacket was so plain it could not get any plainer. It was as if, on his entire body, only his face was the most distinguishing and recognizable. Nearly everyone in this place knew him: this was the counter-terrorism squadron’s commander, who had fought on the front lines for nine years and this year, due to a major incident that had resulted in significant casualties, had of his own accord submitted the request to leave—Lu Yanchen.

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There was a brief moment of silence.

They were all fully prepared for how they would handle the situation in the event that Lu Yanchen’s emotions swung to an extreme.

After all, these people were the reason for Lu Yanchen’s departure from the squadron. In one night, more than half the core members of the team he had trained and led had either died or were injured. Moreover, it was to trade for two innocent civilians held in the hands of this group of people that Lu Yanchen’s direct superior had offered himself as a hostage in exchange, and hence, to date, the pieces of his corpse that had been found did not form a whole.

But Lu Yanchen was much calmer than they had imagined.

His silhouette shifted slightly, and pulling out a chair, he took a seat. His words sounded suppressed as they one by one came forth from his throat. “I’ll work with you and what you’re doing. Go ahead; do the questioning.”

He sat in a model straddled posture, his body bent slightly forward, his gaze intently taking in each of the faces on the other side of that glass.

It was not the least bit of an exaggeration to say that in those outside networks, Lu Yanchen and many of his subordinates had been given code names by those extremist organizations and a very clear price in American dollars had been placed on each of their heads.

To be “admired” and “chosen” in this way was proof in itself that his knowledge and understanding of these people must be deep-rooted into his very bones. Therefore, with him, this “outsider,” assisting in their investigation, they would be able to get even better results with less effort.

Soon, Qin Mingyu and Gao Hai also arrived. Noiselessly they halted themselves half a step behind Lu Yanchen and listened in silence.

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

Three hours later, the door to the interrogation room was pushed open.

The mouths of those trafficking criminals had been successfully pried open. But no one had expected that there was something even worse yet to come.

<>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.

Without uttering a word, Lu Yanchen began striding out of the room.

Qin Mingyu and Gao Hai chased after him. “There’s still room for discussion on this whole thing.”

“Are you kidding?!” Lu Yanchen snapped back a sharp rebuke. From his pants pocket, he fished out his cigarettes and, without so much as slowing his steps, pulled one stick out. Biting down on the filter tip and lighting the cigarette, he very carefully thought through the series of preparation work that would need to follow. “In all these years, I’ve only come across this twice. None of you have any experience in it. Just how many lives are at stake here?!” There simply was not enough time to at the last minute find someone who had similar experience as him in this.

“What if—”

“There are no what ifs.”

“Do you need to leave any sort of message for Sister-In-Law?”

Lu Yanchen flicked a glance at him, not saying anything.

Qin Mingyu was basically asking a question to which he already knew the answer: the entire content of the interrogation was highly confidential; not even half a word of it could be disclosed to those uninvolved.

Pushing open the metal door at the end of the hallway, he jumped into Qin Mingyu’s vehicle and tossed his own car keys to Gao Hai. “Bring the keys over to her. Have her wait for me.” They all knew the location of the hotel room that he had booked.

Qin Mingyu also followed him into the vehicle, making no delay, for he was in a rush to make a call to the squadron.

The vehicle drove away.

All along the way they encountered red traffic lights, and all along the way they ran them. Lu Yanchen was not hesitant in the slightest, and only when they were racing down the road that passed the downstairs of the hotel building did he look up through the windshield. His eyes brushed over that building. But before he was able to find her hotel room, he had already driven past.

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

A fine layer of perspiration formed in his palms as they gripped the steering wheel. He had already been clenching the steering wheel too tightly, but his hands would slip from the sweat in them, so his grip needed to be even tighter.

As if venting, he laid on the car horn. Shocked at this, the jeep in front moved out of the way, and its driver stuck his head out, yelling, “What the heck?! It’s the middle of the night! There are just the two cars on the whole road. Did you really need to honk me out of the way like that?!”

Lu Yanchen threw a thoroughly chilly look over. Then, as he stomped on the accelerator, his vehicle tore through the curtain of night in the urban districts of Erenhot.

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✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

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

Meanwhile, upstairs inside that room, it was warm as spring.

Gui Xiao left the bathroom, her slippers scuffing across the floor as she walked. After examining that large double bed for several seconds, she began changing out the sheets, comforter cover, and pillowcases.

Lu Yanchen still had not returned.

In the hallway outside, there were conversing people. Downstairs, there seemed to be a nightclub. All these noises that belonged to the mundane world intermingled together and made Gui Xiao unable to settle her heart. After waiting for another ten minutes, she at last was unable to restrain herself and dialed his number.

“We’re sorry. The number you are dialing has been shut off.”

Shut off?

She lowered her head to take a look at her phone’s screen. It was Lu Yanchen’s number; she hadn’t dialed incorrectly. His phone’s battery was dead?

Making random guesses, Gui Xiao wanted to try dialing again, but a phone call from Xu Yao unexpectedly came in.

She picked up. The person on the other end gave a greeting of “Gui Xiao.” She answered, “I’m in a hurry to make a phone call. Could you keep it short? Or I’ll call you back tomorrow?”

“I just have some things that are burdening my heart, and I wanted to talk to someone.” For once, Xu Yao did not follow normal societal etiquette and carried on speaking in low tones. “The results from Shanshan’s medical exams aren’t very good. It’s a different tumour type from the diagnosis we got in China. They still haven’t confirmed it yet, but this type is even more difficult. It needs radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can cure the tumour, but once a person has had this sickness, the probability of recurrence is very high, and each time the location of the tumour will be different.”

Gui Xiao was silent, not knowing what she should say.

Xu Yao said a few more sentences, all of them completely consisting of pathology and medical diagnosis terms that she did not understand.

She knew that this was a telephone call for him to pour out the troubles on his heart, and so, repressing her worry for Lu Yanchen, she patiently listened.

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Before long, someone knocked on the room door.

“Wait a bit. Don’t hang up. I’m going to go open the door.” Not delaying for even a second, Gui Xiao tossed her mobile phone onto the comforter and ran over to the entryway, her white slippers scuffing. However, prior to opening the door, she took an extra precaution and first leaned up against the peephole to take a look.

It was not Lu Yanchen. Why was it Gao Hai?

After the door was opened, this man who had previously had some brief interaction with Gui Xiao was even more embarrassed than the last time he saw her. Stammering for a long time, he finally held out a ring of car keys. “Sister-In-Law, this is from Commander Lu.”

Gui Xiao paused in surprise. “Where is he?”

Gao Hai’s conscience grew increasingly discomfited. “He has some things to take care of. He told you to wait for him.”

“What sort of things? I have to wait until when?”

“He’ll finish up as soon as possible…” Gao Hai retreated half a step, staring rather guiltily at Gui Xiao and not knowing what he should say. And in reality, he was not allowed to say anything.

Commander Lu had not given any instructions on this.

In previous situations, from their group of people who went through life and death together, even for those who had a spouse, the spouse was not by their side. So now how was he supposed to comfort her? This grown lad struggled inside himself for a full half a minute but was still unable to come up with any sort of measures to handle this. Moreover, Gao Hai’s own heart and mind were in turmoil. The situation was too complicated and dangerous, and it made a person’s brain feel like it was going to explode. He did not have Lu Yanchen’s composure.

Gui Xiao had already been worried to begin with due to Lu Yanchen’s shut-off phone. Now she was also receiving his car keys for no reason, and the person who had delivered them was unwilling to say even an extra half a word. This made her even more distressed. “… Has something bad happened?”

“Sister-In-Law”—Gao Hai halted for a lengthy moment before blowing out a long exhale—“you take good care of yourself.”

Slapping the car keys into her palm, he spun around and began running with large strides.

Gui Xiao grew panicked and extended an arm, trying to pull him back, but she was unable to get a hold on him. She could only shout, “Gao Hai!”

Her cry arrested Gao Hai. In that instant that he paused his footsteps, he thought of how Commander Lu had actually already left the squadron but was still putting himself into this great peril, where the chance of coming out alive was slim. His eyes abruptly reddened. Without looking back, he pushed open the wooden door of the fire escape passage and ran.

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

Stunned, Gui Xiao watched as the wooden door slammed back shut, giving off a loud bang that reverberated through the entire hallway.

For a long time, she stood like this, until at last she vaguely remembered that Xu Yao was still waiting for her on the phone.

She returned to the room and found her mobile phone somewhere in the comforter. She wanted to say something, but her words were lodged in her throat. Inside the room, there was only the continuously rising and falling sound of her breathing.

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

“Gui Xiao? If you have something to take care of, we can talk some time later.”

Each successive beat of her heart was heavier than the previous one. The deeper she thought on the matter, the more she wanted to cry. Yet, with all her might, she consoled herself, Gui Xiao, don’t let your thoughts get the better of you. He’s a man who has already taken off his military uniform. What kind of danger can he encounter? He must have just run into some of his old comrades and drunk too much, and now he’s scared I’ll get mad.

His comrade just isn’t good with words. They’re all just a bunch of simple, lumbering guys who only know how to fight terrorism. He doesn’t even know how absurd his words were. How can words like “take good care of yourself” just be randomly thrown around? …

“Xu Yao,” Gui Xiao said, pulling in a deep breath, “you just go with your wife and see the doctors first. One’s life is more important than anything else. Money is just a small matter. When you’re back in the country—”

Her voice was quaking terribly.

“Has something happened over there on your end?” Xu Yao could hear that something was not right, and he interrupted her.

“No.” Pressing her right hand against her stomach, which was clenching painfully, Gui Xiao gasped out a light breath before saying, “My stomach hurts. I’ll call you back tomorrow…”

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

[1] 人生如逆旅,我亦是行人. This line originally came from 《临江仙·送钱穆父》 Riverside Daffodils, “Farewell to Qian Mufu”, written in the Song dynasty by Su Shi (also known as Su Dongpo).

[2] 锡林郭勒盟 Xilingol League (also called Xilinguole Meng) is in the central part of Inner Mongolia and is one of the twelve leagues of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (A league is an administrative unit in Inner Mongolia. Each league consists of several qis, which are also called banners.)

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.


Additional Comments:

As promised, here are the lyrics for “Cinderella.”

 

《灰姑娘》 Cinderella

#
怎么会迷上你 我在问自己
“Why did I become enthralled by you?” I ask myself
我什么都能放弃 居然今天难离去
I can give up anything, yet today, it is so difficult to leave
你并不美丽 可是你可爱至极
You are not beautiful, but you are so extremely adorable
唉呀灰姑娘 我的灰姑娘
Ah, Cinderella, my Cinderella


我总是在伤你的心 我总是很残忍
I am always breaking your heart; I am always so very cruel
我让你别当真 因为我不敢相信
I told you not to take it seriously, because I don’t dare believe it
你如此美丽 而且可爱至极
You are so beautiful, and also so extremely adorable
唉呀灰姑娘 我的灰姑娘
Ah, Cinderella, my Cinderella

 

也许你不曾想到我的心会疼
Perhaps you never thought that my heart would hurt
如果这是梦 我愿长醉不愿醒
If this is a dream, then I am willing to remain forever drunken and am unwilling to awaken 


我曾经忍耐 我如此等待
I once endured, and I am thus waiting
也许在等你到来
Perhaps I am waiting for your arrival
也许在等你到来
Perhaps I am waiting for your arrival
 

Repeat # ✻ △

 也许在等你到来
Perhaps I am waiting for your arrival

 

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

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

  1. Thanks Hoju…
    Oh my .hope everything end well for them.

  2. Thanks Hoju. I love to Lu Chen.

  3. Woah….we’re halfway there already? So there is more bumps in the road since it’s only halfway? The first major bump is Lu Chen’s dad’s looming debt, second is Gui Xiao’s disapproving dad and now this. Hope all is well

  4. Hi, Hoju.
    I am really feeling the physicality of the writing. It’s hard to put it into words, but I really feel the darkness, the wind, the skies, the vast land, the passing of time, the weight/presence/significance of Commander Lu, and sadly at the end, the isolation of Gui Xiao.
    Thank you for this.

    • Thank you for letting me know. 🙂 That is certainly one of the feelings I wanted to capture in the translation. 🙂
      Thanks for reading!

  5. Thank you for the update.

  6. Oh my 😥…. Thank you Hoju

  7. Thank you Hoju! I like the flow of this novel.. looking forward to reading how LYC and GX handles each of their challenges.

  8. Thank you hoju I really hope that nothing happens to him as always love the translation of the lyrics what a beautiful song ❤️

  9. OMG. sad chapter. Thank you for your hard work.

  10. oh no, praying that LYC will be safe and quickly return back
    thank you

  11. I was waiting to read the song lyrics. Loved it. What a turn of events. Poor Gui Xiao! I hope this will be only 1 chapter separation.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

    • 🙂 I’m glad you liked the lyrics. Such a simple but earnest song.
      This is a tough turn of events for both of them. 😦

      Thanks for reading!

  12. Lu Chen 😢
    I hope the mission end with in the next chapter and he gets back safe and sound.
    I can’t take the tension 😣😣😣
    Btw, thanks for another wonderful chapter 😊

  13. Agh! I can’t even imagine how worried Gui Xiao feels right now! I hope this arc doesn’t drag out for too long. It’s so unfair to Gui Xiao.

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