Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 33

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You can plan all you want, but sometimes you just have to roll with the situation.

Chapter 33 — Loyalty and Faith (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.

 

They had not expected that in one night their plans would be completely disrupted.

On Friday, his base received a last-minute support assignment. A new batch of explosives had been excavated. The quantity was large, and these explosives had also been buried in the ground for many years. Hence, they were extremely dangerous and had been gathered and all sent to a remote factory. There was an urgent need for specialists to concentrate all their efforts on this operation and dispose of these hazardous materials.

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

Lu Yanchen was the first person at his base named to this task.

The second was the person most senior in experience in this place, an old specialist, lean and not tall, with a height of only 1.65 metres but a straight and erect stature.

During normal times, there was no interaction between the two of them when they were at the military base, and it was actually when they were leaving that they had a meeting in the office with the top superior of the base. The general idea of the meeting was that this time, the quantity was large, the degree of difficulty was high, and the level of danger was high as well, so this superior of theirs was “pep-talking the troops” beforehand. After ten minutes, though, that superior could see that the two wore expressions that showed they did not really need any pep talks, so he said, “Ol’ Shen, I know you don’t have any family and just need to go back and pack some things and then you’ll be good. Xiao Lu [Little Lu], aren’t you getting married? You’ll be gone for three to four months. Will you need to postpone the wedding?”

“No.” Lu Yanchen paused, then requested, “Before I go, give me one day off so I can register my marriage, and that will be good enough. My wife needs to apply for a birth approval certificate. There isn’t enough time for her to wait for me to register the marriage when I come back.” This top-level superior readily gave his approval for this and in passing also told the administrative assistant to hurry the human resources department about it. In the end, however, the answer they received was that his profile still had not been transferred over yet, so, alas, he would have to take one day in the middle of the assignment to fly back and register his marriage.

<>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.

At this time, Gui Xiao was already in that little town.

She had taken into consideration that Lu Yanchen normally did not have time, and her working hours were flexible anyway. Also, firstly, she could not contain her desire to share the news with her good friend, and secondly, she wanted to first start making the arrangements  for everything. So, she had driven out here today.

Meng Xiaoshan was quick and efficient when she did things, and bringing over her restaurant’s menu, she began picking and choosing with Gui Xiao…

On the maroon-coloured leather couch, Gui Xiao lay her cheek against the back cushion and inhaled the faint scent given off by the couch, instructing, “Give me your bank account number. I’ll transfer the money to you.”

“What kind of joke is that?” Meng Xiaoshan laughed. “You’re not the one who borrowed the money.”

Gui Xiao looked glumly at her. “But I feel bad.”

Meng Xiaoshan gave a light sigh. “This really doesn’t have much to do with Lu Chen or you. This sum of money was something that Hai Dong personally asked me for, and what he based the request on was the friendship between him and me. This is something between Hai Dong and me. I’m telling you, don’t go and try to pay the money back to Hai Dong. Back in middle school, he had been going around with a bunch of gangsters and causing trouble, and it was Lu Chen who dragged him back. If it hadn’t been for Lu Chen, he would have been ruined a long time ago. When it comes to the matters between men, don’t go getting yourself involved in them either. If he did want you to get involved in this, he wouldn’t be the Lu Chen I know.”

In reality, she grasped all the reasoning and arguments that Meng Xiaoshan was telling her, and Lu Yanchen had also given his payslip and bankbook to her before to look at… According to his words, his compensation was even better than what he had expected. Furthermore, in less than two years, this bank card to which his wages were deposited would be useless, and hence he had simply given it to her.

Gui Xiao knew Meng Xiaoshan’s temperament. This matter could not be brought up anymore. If she did bring it up, Meng Xiaoshan undoubtedly would lose her temper. She held up a piece of paper. Written on it was the wedding banquet menu that Meng Xiaoshan had so very carefully and meticulously selected for her. Meng Xiaoshan’s eyes also turned to that paper. Before she had taken more than a few glances, however, all sorts of feelings flooded into her, and bringing her gaze back onto Gui Xiao, she touched Gui Xiao’s cheek. “This is so good.”

It was not that Meng Xiaoshan still had any feelings for Hai Dong. These were merely the emotions and state of mind that come about when a person reaches a certain age.

The one you loved in your youth—who does not want to cherish that person?

But not everyone is worthy of being cherished.

And even if he or she is worthy, not everyone has that chance.

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

That evening when she arrived home, Gui Xiao did not have a chance to let Lu Yanchen see the wedding banquet menu that she had booked and only saw that a simple suitcase had been laid out. Her heart gave a quiver. When she took a glance into the suitcase, she found most of his clothes inside.

Lu Yanchen did not have much in terms of clothing. Even his casual clothes were all ones distributed to him by the military base, and normally when his wardrobe was pulled open, everything inside looked almost the same. When Gui Xiao saw him walking out with a few books in hand, she had an even clearer grasp of what was going on: this was a long-term assignment away from home. He only had a total of five books, and he was taking them all… Man, if he could pack me up to go with him, that would be so good.

“You need to go away on assignment?” Scuffing her slippers along the floor, she went over to him and slid her arms around his waist from behind. “Take me with you, take me with you. And your baby, too. And also Qin Xiaonan. Let’s all go together, okay?”

Lu Yanchen reached behind him to touch her little ear, answering in a low voice, “No.”

“I know.” She was just letting herself act like a spoiled little child for a bit… But after hearing how serious his tone was, she actually felt quite sheepish, and so she poked her head forward and peeked at his expression. “Just playing with you. Where are you going? When are you coming back? Is it going to be for really long?”

“Quite long.”

Lu Yanchen wanted to give some sort of explanation to her, but after running the rules and practices through his mind once, he found that there was no information he could tell her. He therefore could only give her the routine words he had said last time when he was at the base and could not leave it, and furthermore stressed that his mobile phone would be put in a special device to prevent it from being tapped and also, of course, its signal from being tracked. What was to follow was yet another period of being cut off from the world.

“That’s a bit of a bother. Can you not wait until we’ve registered our marriage and then go? I’m in a hurry to get a birth approval certificate.”

“I wrote up the time-off request beforehand. Once I’ve got a free moment over on that end, I’ll fly back to do our marriage registration.”

Gui Xiao was a little embarrassed by these words. It was a good thing she wasn’t a young girl now; otherwise, she would think this whole thing was a set-up where she was being dumped right after she got pregnant…

“Don’t forget that I still have to go for my prenatal check. No matter what, you need to come back one time before I reach the three-month pregnancy mark. You’re going to be gone for so long… If my belly is too obvious, it won’t be really good to hold the wedding banquet. I’d look awful… We’re having the banquet out in the town, so there’ll definitely be a lot of old schoolmates there. So humiliating. How about we wait until after I’ve had the baby and then hold the banquet?”

Lu Yanchen agreed to her suggestion. He, too, was unable to come up with any other solution.

The entire day today, he had been contemplating how he could tell her that they needed to postpone the wedding. He had not expected that Gui Xiao would be the one to bring it up first.

If this were any other girl, she likely would become oversuspicious when encountering such a situation and would think, was it because she was pregnant now and not worth much to him anymore? And then, she would just omit this and that and be hurried about everything, wanting only to make do, get married but hold no wedding, and then be done. Fortunately, he did know Gui Xiao’s personality. She did not overthink or overcomplicate things. If she really did have those thoughts, she was able to straight-out ask you about them.

He reckoned that the three major occasions when Gui Xiao had for once not been upfront and had acted in complicated, roundabout ways had all had to do with him.

The first one: she had liked him from the very beginning but had put on a front of indifference.

The second one: two years ago, when she saw him again at the gas station, she still liked him but had pretended that the feelings had faded.

The third one: when she went to Erenhot and saw him again, she had acted as if she had already put their relationship behind her.

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

Lu Yanchen’s car-for-hire ride was coming at four in the morning and would take him directly to the airport.

Even this way, he was still amongst the last batch of people heading out.

Some time past three in the morning, Lu Yanchen rolled over, wanting to get off the bed. Gui Xiao had not awoken but was lying on top of his arm, and in her dreams, she still instinctively searched everywhere for him. Brushing her sleep-disheveled hair to the pillow, Lu Yanchen, by the faint moonlight that shone beyond the window, allowed his eyes to carefully take in her features for a little while. Then, pinching her chin lightly between his fingers, he pressed his lips onto hers.

Her lips, which had dried in her sleep, and her soft tongue were taken into his mouth, and he sucked and toyed with them for a lengthy time. Gui Xiao did not wake, but she did return his kiss.

She should still be in dreamland, perhaps in the midst of a steamy dream.

Should he leave some words for her? He thought, Forget it; better not to scare her. Even though it was custom to do so.

When Lu Yanchen stepped out the bedroom door, Qin Xiaonan, who had been secretly monitoring all the noises coming from their side, also slipped out and asked in a hushed voice, “Leaving now?”

With a nod, Lu Yanchen patted the boy’s head, then took another glimpse at the bedroom door. “Take extra care of her.”

The kid had gone through this sort of scene many more times than Gui Xiao. When he was only five years old, his dad had already instructed him about all the “after-death arrangements,” and he knew them so well he could basically recite them backwards with no problems. So, he now gave a solemn nod and then watched as Lu Yanchen went downstairs, grabbed the suitcase, and noiselessly left.

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

When Lu Yanchen arrived downstairs of the building, the reserved car-for-hire was waiting outside the community compound. It was a normal black van.

Elder Shen was very thoughtful. Taking into consideration that Lu Yanchen was someone who had his own little family, he had specifically asked the van driver to make a detour and pick him up first before coming to pick up Lu Yanchen, letting the soon-to-be married couple sleep a little longer. After getting into the vehicle, Lu Yanchen and Elder Shen exchanged a look and smiled at one another.

The van’s windows were open, and the cool morning breeze coursed in.

Setting his arm on the edge of the window, Lu Yanchen cast another glance at that apartment building. When he found Gui Xiao’s bedroom window, he was still replaying in his mind the brief goodbye kiss that they had shared just earlier. Back when he still had never experienced being intimate with someone, he had been more concerned about the methods and techniques that he would use in the future. However, when the person with whom he would engage in intimacy was set and was Gui Xiao, everything became different.

It was a very strange feeling. Never before had he been so close to a person, nor had he ever given such thought to how a person might feel.

It was different from how he would look after and defend his little sister. What he felt for Gui Xiao was an even greater closeness, an indescribable type of protectiveness and possessiveness. Even when he was making love with her, he would use various methods to observe her or try to sense how she felt, or he would straight-out ask her. There was one time when they were in the steppe and she had shown she was especially caught up in the moment, so he had extended that time by about twenty minutes or so. By the time he finally pulled away from her, the pillow had been damp with the perspiration from her face and with her tears. Beneath him, her voice coming out in barely a whisper, she had asked hoarsely, “Why did you go on for so long today? … I was about to pass out…” It was not often that he was able to carry on to his heart’s content like that, and turning her chin towards him, he had placed kisses on her, spot after spot, on her mouth, her face, her chin.

<>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 Lu, back at the time, why did you want to go into the military?” Elder Shen unscrewed the lid of his thermal flask and blew at the boiling-hot tea inside.

The white steam scattered with his breath, but the liquid was still hot.

Lu Yanchen was quiet for a moment. The various things that had once influenced him rose up in his memory. He answered, “Can’t say exactly.”

In 1998, as he watched the news, he saw that those people who were linked arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder in the rushing waters were all the most ordinary of sons from ordinary families, but with a single command, they came forward dauntlessly, wave after wave of them, to form a human wall against the floodwaters[1]. Also, when he was young, he had read a few books that described how, after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant’s reactor exploded, nearly 50,000 soldiers and firefighters at the time had formed a suicide squad and, in spite of the risk of radiation exposure, built a sarcophagus to seal in the radioactive material. And then within several years, every single one of them had died… And there were many more of these types of stories.

There are different countries, but the same type of people can be found in all of them. Irrespective of whether they are poor or rich, their love for their motherland is their faith.

In the very beginning, he had wanted to become this type of person. Later, the reason was even simpler: he had the ability to do so, and he should do so.

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

At five o’clock when the alarm rang, Gui Xiao once more looked for him, but she was long since the only one remaining in this room. She tugged the pillow over. On it was still the scent left behind by Lu Yanchen. Haphazardly nestling that pillow into her arms, she fell back asleep again.

They originally were going to go to his family home this weekend. Now, though, there was nothing she needed to do, so she slept until nearly eleven o’clock, and it was Qin Xiaonan who woke her. When Gui Xiao ambled into the kitchen, she saw that the glass she used specifically for drinking milk had been washed and placed to dry upside down on an absorbent white cloth. Her eyes remained transfixed on it for a long time.

That man, regardless of where he was going, would not forget even to wash an ordinary drinking glass before he left home.

Simply picturing the image of him before he left, of the silhouette of his backside as he washed that glass inside this kitchen, how he would have leaned sideways slightly with his hip against the left side of the sink, a cigarette between his lips—wait, no; since she became pregnant, he no longer smoked inside the home—made her feel so happy and blessed. Gui Xiao knew there was a lot of stress in his work, and she did not feel that it was a must that he quit smoking. Back when they were young, she had already become accustomed to it… And so, she sketched out another image in her mind, continuing to visualize how last time, without a cigarette in his mouth, he had meticulously washed the glass, running his fingers over its rim.

He had then given it a shake, shut the water off, and set the glass on the counter to air-dry…

“Next time you have milk, don’t bite the mouth of the glass. This glass is too thin.”

“Okay.”

“Why did you buy a drinking glass that’s so thin?”

“It looks nice.”

At the time, when that man gave her a sideways look that was not all that gracious, she had felt so much in her heart.

She honestly would never tire of looking at him.

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

[1] In the summer of 1998, China experienced massive flooding in several areas. The areas along the banks of the Yangtze River were devastated, as well as along the Min River, Pearl River, Songhua River, and Nen River. The resulting death toll reached more than 3000.

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:

Does this massive flooding incident that was mentioned sound familiar? Readers of The Healing Sunshine, does this trigger any memories?

 

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

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11 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 33

  1. Thank you for the update.

  2. Love this story so much! Thank you for the stellar translation!

  3. Thanks Hoju…
    Yes still remember…one of my fav couple Ji Chengyang and Ji Yi 💞😍

    • Thanks for reading!
      Do you remember when this flood showed up in The Healing Sunshine? (I love Little Uncle Ji and Xixi, too!)

  4. Thank you Hoju hope you and your family are safe from this pandémie… stay safe everyone 🙏

  5. very best husband material
    thank you

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