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When I turned and saw how Jinfeng looked, I was suddenly scared out of my wits: this scene is a high tier of awkward. If he says the object of his wet dream is me, how should I react? What should I say to deal with it? How am I supposed to face him later?
However, this is the first time I’ve seen Jinfeng look so fragile, and I still have to take care of him. Gritting my teeth, I decide to come up with the most scientific rationality, and I’ll straighten things out with him so well that even Mt. Tai collapsing before my eyes won’t make me change expression.
“What dreams?” I ask him as gently as I can muster.
Jinfeng hesitates for a bit, then ultimately decides to keep talking about it. “I dreamed about… my brother…”
He had a wet dream about his brother? I turn white with terror, but barely manage to keep my cool, contrarily urging him to continue. “What happened with him?” My voice is still serene.
He raised his deep black eyes that were nearly dripping tears, his colorless face looking hopeless. “Brother was… leaving with mom… they left together, and left me behind… smiling at me from somewhere far away… I called out for them as best I could, but they ignored me… is what brother doing really dangerous? Will he die…?”
Bringing that up, I recall that Jinzi never brought up his mother. She died very early on; I faintly remember from when I looked at info on his family that it was from a difficult birth, and his father never remarried. Did she die giving birth to Jinfeng?
“You’re just being too anxious about your brother,” I gently inform him with full certainty.
The mistiness in his eyes has already condensed into rolling raindrops, the hands on his clothes trembling terribly. His voice is very strange, a bit broken, and, perhaps because of desperately holding back his sobs, a bit high-pitched, his final syllables shaky. “…I’m always having the same dream lately… mother… mother, she– she’s dead because of me… if I didn’t exist, she wouldn’t be dead, and brother– he’s definitely hated me all these years, and he only… he only takes care of me because I’m his little brother, and he has no choice, but now he has a chance to- to get away from me… he must be really happy…” A child has poor endurance, in the end, and he finally cried aloud.
He’s felt guilty all this time for his mother dying from his birth?
Jinzi’s so protective of him because his little brother’s never had a mother?
Piteous as he is, Jinfeng still fears being discarded, and has no sense of security. It’s not so surprising, either, that at his age, he’s met such a dilemma…
…Turns out I know so little about Jinzi.
Jinfeng stood there stock-still, the tears that marched down his cheeks first competing with the subsequent others to drop down to his shoes.
I sigh, reaching out and gently placing a hand upon his shoulder. “Listen, Jinfeng,” I say lowly, and softly, “your brother’s favorite person in this lifetime is you, as you’re his only little brother, and you’re just like him, with no mom… for him, there’s nothing more important than you. If he knew that you thought about him this way, he would be heartbroken…”
He looks up, eyes hazy with tears as he looks at me doubtfully. I face him with resoluteness. His doubt gradually melts away, and he finally sniffs, whispering, “Really? Did he tell you that?”
Jinzi obviously didn’t say that to me, but I’m going to need to lie right now. I nod firmly. “Mhm.”
“Brother said that I… was more important than you?”
I felt a pain in my heart, but chuckled freely. “Silly boy, what are you comparing? What am I? How can I be compared to you, his blood relative?”
His tears streaked down even more fiercely. He sobbed as he spoke, “T-then don’t– don’t tell him… what I-I said to…”
I sigh in relief. “Don’t worry, okay? I won’t.”
Jinfeng doesn’t speak anymore, absorbed in his weeping.
These days without Jinzi must be hard on him.
I go to wipe his tears away with the back of my fingers. He evaded a bit, but with my insistence, he let me dry them.
His tears being wiped away bit by bit makes the atmosphere very warm. All of a sudden, someone barged in an big rush. “S-Sir, I finally found you… quick, i-it’s terrible… something terrible’s happened…”
With one look, I can tell he seems to be Guo Zhengtong’s subordinate. I hate it when people make a big scene, and he’d also ruined the atmosphere, so my expression coldens as I rebuke him. “Stand up and say it. What are you all in a rush for?”
“S-Sir… yes, th-the two prisoners… were k-killed in prison!”
My heart sinks. “Take me there now!”
When I hurried to the cell, there were already many people around making a hubbub of comments all at once. Exasperated, I order everyone to move aside to see for myself. The two bandits are lying stiff upon a haystack, their eyes open, tongues out, and seven apertures slightly oozing blood.
An old man that looks like a coroner steps forward and reports to me, “Sir, someone hung them. They died a shichen ago.”
Those two were the only witnesses who testified against Lu Liang, my important ‘inside witnesses’, and now they’ve been permanently silenced! I was too careless! Guo Zhengtong doesn’t have the Paris Commune here, and it’s not a utopia; why did I think that nothing would happen?
Seeing the red marks upon the corpse’s necks, that long, thin whip of Yuan Qingyun’s floats up into my mind. He’d had that uncomfortable expression just then, and he can’t keep himself apart from me yet he hasn’t bothered me for two days…
All the blood rushed to my head, and it took tremendous effort to control myself. “Prepare the coffins. This doesn’t need to be made public,” I say, face ashen.
I moved away from the crowd and walked furiously to Yuan Qingyun’s room.
He really was there, leaning over a table and writing something. Is it a secret letter to Prince Liang?
The sound of me forcing the door open hard alarmed him. He looked up in surprise, then smiled. “My precious Qinglian is so nice today, taking it on himself to come see me–“
I cruelly and coldy cut him off. “Was it you who killed them?”
“What did I kill?”
I laugh coldly. “Don’t play dumb. The two bandits.”
An obvious look of shock flits past his face. Is it true or false?
He recovers his calmness and ask, “Those two are dead?”
I laugh at him again. “Stop pretending! Wasn’t it you who strangled them with your whip?”
He’s still very collected, only his eyebrows slowly raising. “I captured them,” he says word by word, “why would I silence them? I wouldn’t have just caught them, then.”
I huff in disdain. “Do you take me for a fool? You’re the guy who didn’t care about asking anything in your excitement then, only thinking about taking credit for it! When we went to prison later to get an oral confession, your face changed; did you think I couldn’t see? How aggravating that I truly am a fool, to actually not be on guard against your murderous heart!”
He also laughed coldly. “Who is Lu Liang to me? Why would I want to do something like this for him?”
Lu Liang isn’t your person, but his Lord is different. I don’t say this, though. I don’t want to let Yuan Qingyun know that I’m starting to be wary of Prince Liang. So I just tell him, coldly, slowly, cynically, “You know what the score is.”
Yuan Qingyun is finally angered, his pupils slowly contracting into two icy needles while his face yet seductively smiled. “Good, Sir Zhang. Do you want to arrest me now?”
I discovered that I’d been too impulsive and had done nothing to prepare.
Where would I be Yuan Qingyun’s opponent? Did I send myself right to his door to have him catch me and use me as a hostage? Did I subconsciously believe that this person who’s hurt me wouldn’t hurt me?
There’s really no one here that could take him. Hong Feng doesn’t seem to be his match, and even if we could fight together, how could I be willing to make a weak-natured woman risk her life against a big man?
I calmed myself, not letting a bit of my cowardice or heart show. “Leave.”
“Leave, and don’t let me see you ever again. Next time, I won’t let you slip out of my grasp, and we can take a proper look at the debts from before.”
He stood there, glaring at me hatefully. His pretty black eyes were overflowing with resentment, loathing, despondency, and many other things…
I will be remembering his eyes at this time for very many years to come.
“As you wish.” His head lowered, his low voice nearly inaudible as if the sentence were stuck in his throat, yet it’s completely without intonation.
He tilted his face so his hair somewhat blocked it, disallowing me from seeing it. Snatching the paper from the desk, he crumpled it into a ball, then fled out the window.