By now, I no longer have any more interest in watching what would happen to Liu Hu. I didn't like him, that much was for sure, but I'm no longer my old self. Not anymore.
I was no longer the frail little boy that I had been when I was in high school. From then on, I had long since learned how to stand on my own two feet, undaunted by unreasonable demands and bullies. I was no longer the little boy that had been so impoverished that I had to swallow whatever injustice thrown my way just so that I could get through the day to see the next sunrise. Those slaps that Lon knocked Liu Hu senseless with had beat away the last remaining shroud of darkness that stayed with me since I was young. This would be the last time that I would give in so willingly to the darkness within my heart.
In the end, I didn't stay to see what Lon would do to Liu Hu. With Lin Fang, we left the Night Wolves together. We got into our car, and was about to drive off when suddenly a red BMW cut across in front of us.
The door opened, and Chu Xiaoxiao stepped out, with astonishment written all over her face when she saw the Land Rover that I drove.
“What more do you want? By principle, I don’t hit women, and please don’t make me make an exception of it today.”
Chu Xiaoxiao snorted, her contempt obvious behind her eyes, “So this is the reason for all those tough acts. Turns out you’re one of those filthy rich boys that you so despised huh, figures. So Fang Fang, you’re with him for his money after all?”
I was so overcame with anger that I began to have a sudden urge to laugh. According to her, when I was penniless, I was unworthy for Lin Fang. And when she found out that I wasn’t so poor, all of a sudden Lin Fang was only with me for my money. Either way, I was always the bad guy, and only they were the good guys.
I no longer have any more patience for her antics. I revved the engine to show my intent to leave, and suddenly I felt a hand. It was Lin Fang, she motioned with her eyes, telling me to wait for her. The expression on her face was that of a mix between anger and frustration.
Lin Fang’s chest rose and sank visibly, a proof that she was trying her best to hold back her anger. She said to Chu Xiaoxiao, her face blue with sternness, “Xiaoxiao, the two of us had always been the best of friends. But, if you keep this up, then I’m afraid today will be the day that our friendship ends.”
“You...! You would go that far? For someone like him...!”
“What ‘someone like him’? Isn’t he a person just like you and me!?” Lin Fang cut her off short, “It’s true, Zhang Chao isn’t rich, and this isn’t his car, but our boss’s. But does that mean that I couldn’t be friends with him? The two of us are just friends, normal friends, not even boyfriend and girlfriend ‘friends’, and we certainly aren’t ‘paid’ friends like those ‘filthy rich boys’ that you mentioned!”
Chu Xiaoxiao hurriedly explained herself, “That’s not what I mean! I was just... worried that he might be lying to you and tricking you...”
Lin Fang was even more livid, “So all rich people are honest saints and all poor people are deceiving liars!? In this case I think there is no longer any need for us to continue associating with each other. Just so you know, even I... I too...”
I knew what Lin Fang was trying to say. Over the years, the situation with her family hadn’t been so great either. They had been apart for years since their days in school, so I guess it could be possible that Chu Xiaoxiao might not have known about what had really been going on with her and her family.
Lin Fang didn’t continue, but simply shook her head, “Xiaoxiao, I’m really disappointed in you. Zhang Chao is my friend, a good friend. Either you accept it, or if not, this is where our friendship ends. Zhang Chao, we’re leaving.”
Chu Xiaoxiao looked disbelievingly as I stepped down on the accelerator and drove off. Being treasured and adored like a little princess for her whole life, I guess she would have a hard time understanding and believing why Lin Fang would choose someone like me over people that she would consider “upper classed”.
“That buck teeth then. Why did he listen to you?”
Driving out of Night Wolve’s parking lot, Lin Fang asked me as Chu Xiaoxiao’s figure disappeared around the corner as we turned into another street.
“I helped out their employer with a little favor some times ago, and that’s why he knows me. Don’t be afraid, that buck teeth won’t suddenly turn around and trouble us again.”
“I’m not afraid. When I’m with you, I feel as if I don't have to be scared over anything.”
Though I was happier than anything when I heard that, it also made me more nervous than anything as I blushed furiously and not knowing how to react. For a while, I didn’t even have the courage to look in her direction. I think Lin Fang might have noticed how embarrassed I was, because from the corner of my eyes I could see that for the entire drive, she simply sat there and watched me with a wry but warm smile.
I was twenty odd years old, but I never knew how to be with a girl alone before. Every single time, I always managed to do something silly and made a fool out of myself.
After taking Lin Fang home, I buried myself into my bed. Lin Fang’s smile filled my mind, so much that even the pillow and my bed sheet felt like Lin Fang when I hugged them.
In that delirious state, I fell unconscious into my slumber. The next day when I woke up, the sun was high and well above in the sky already, and there was a constant banging noise coming from my door.
I flipped onto my feet and out of bed. Glancing at my phone... shoot, it was 8:20 already. Almost late for work! It must be Lin Fang knocking on my door telling me to get out of bed.
“Zhang Chao, something happened, you’ve got to help me!”
As soon as I opened the door, Lin Fang threw herself into my arms, crying. Still in her bed clothes, her eyes were puffed and reddened from tears. One of the shoulder straps of her silk sleeping gown hung loose at her elbow, exposing a large portion of soft whiteness at her torso. Especially so since I was taller than her, looking down from where my eyes were left not a lot for imagination.
But she was beyond feeling embarrassed, and kept crying in my arms. I cursed myself for this, just what a trash of a man I must be, still thinking about “that” sort of things even when she was in this state of stress.
“What happened? Tell me, I’m here.”
“The doctors, they called in the morning. They said that if I don’t front up with the treatment fees now, they would discharge my father from the hospital. They already moved my father’s bed out onto the walkways already! My father’s heart condition can’t take all this abuse. If they discharge him just like that, he’ll die!”
“How could this be!? You’ve paid for his residence in the hospital right? In full, if I remember.”
“The doctor said that, if he isn’t performing operation any time soon, he’ll have to move out of the hospital. The doctor said that, my father staying in the hospital is simply taking up the hospital resource and wasting their manpower. Oh no, what should I do? What could I do!?”
It pained my heart to see her so distraught. I patted and caressed her hair softly, “No, this sounds too fishy to be true. Let’s go to the hospital first and see what’s really going on. You go back to your room and get changed.”
At a total loss as to what to do, Lin Fang heeded my words as if it was a piercing ray of light in complete darkness, and went back to change her clothes immediately.
I brushed my teeth and got changed too. Before heading out, I thought for a bit and decided to give Han Kun a call.
I never pretend to not seeing my weaknesses for what they were. Though I probably had more than enough money to throw at anyone, I didn’t know a lot of people. In a place like Tong City, if you need something done, other than having the money to do so, often you would also need to know the correct people to get it done smoothly. Tong City was a small place, but the water here had always been as deep as a bottomless abyss.
“Uncle Han, sorry to bother you so early in the morning.”
Han Kun’s voice was filled with sleepiness. I heard him taking a yawn and muttered something inaudible before answering, “My, if it isn't Master Zhang. Come now, there's no need for all those formalities. So, enjoyed the Night Wolves last night? I told Little Lon who you are. Almost scared him out of his wits. Next time you see him, don’t be surprised if he suddenly got on his knees begging for forgiveness.”
I laughed a little, “That was pretty good last night, but for now, I don’t want to expose my identity just yet. Tell everyone who knew to keep their lips tight.”
“Oh, I see that this isn’t about what happened last night. So, something came up?”
I hurriedly summarized what happened to Lin Fang’s father, and added, “Though I don’t lack money, I know that I don’t have any connections in Tong City. Uncle Han, you know a lot of people here. Can you see if you can find out just what has really happened, and perhaps introduce us to a good doctor?”
“It’s good that you called. If you haven’t, I’m sure they’d be pulling your strings everywhere until you couldn’t tell your left from your right, wasting your time. This Lin Fang of yours, has she perhaps... offended someone that she shouldn’t? I’m sure that most of the hospitals would love to have patients like this, taking as long as they could residing in the hospital wards. Easy money, so to speak. Why would any sane doctor want to drive their cash cow out? Relax, I’ll find out. I got your back.”
As soon as Han Kun brought it up, I immediately thought of Chen Yuzhou.
Though Chu Xiaoxiao was indeed a strangely daring character, her friendship with Lin Fang was real. She couldn’t possibly do something so underhanded such as this to Lin Fang. There was only one person who would stoop so low as to do this, Chen Yuzhou.
Anger flared within me, and I uttered a curse under my breath, “It must be him!”