Deluge

CH 19

To drive two hours out of the city in the middle of the night, then continue up a mountain path for another hour by foot, to a deserted peak for stargazing –– Was this romantic?

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Xu Juan felt that it was quite romantic. 

But if having a romantic date with Pei Yu was all he wanted, he could have found a more chill or perfect program that would have had similar results.
It would satisfy him, and it would also satisfy Pei Yu.
They wouldn’t have had to go through such trouble, escaping out to the isolated countryside.

He just wasn’t in a good mood and wanted to unwind with some company.

 

 

“Are we still going further up?”

“Yeah, the view is better up front.” 

Xu Juan held Pei Yu’s hand every step up the peak of the mountain.
This area was north of Hong City and designated as a forest park, but this route was very remote and was no longer considered part of the park.
Pei Yu was unfamiliar with the route and just followed Xu Juan absentmindedly.

 

They were at the tail end of August and the warmest season in Hong City was close to passing.

The night breeze in the countryside was cool and refreshing, the insects chirping incessantly.
Compared to city streets filled with neon lights, the summer nights here were more spirited; Even the shadows of trees were alive, swaying with the mountain breeze as if in a ceaseless battle.

Pei Yu briefly stumbled on a protruding branch and all remnants of sleep were swept away.
Xu Juan was quick to catch him: “Be careful.”

 

“Mm.” Pei Yu leaned closer to Xu Juan’s side, walking with him to the end of the mountain path.

There was a huge stone platform before them, obviously man-made, but this small hill wasn’t fully developed yet.
Upon closer look, it seemed to have been under development, but due to some reason, it was eventually abandoned, becoming a weed garden that no one was interested in.

Those weeds were thick and sturdy, bursting out from between the stone seams.
As they made their way through the weeds and onto the stone platform, their shoes and pant legs caught onto a layer of dew, the air thick and damp with the scent of soil and grass.

 

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“We’re here.” Xu Juan turned off the flashlight on his phone, and in the pitch-black of this hilltop, he raised his head to look above him, “Can you see the stars? Not just one or two, but a whole sky full of stars, Pei Yu.” 

Xu Juan turned to smile faintly at Pei Yu: “Whenever I was in a bad mood, I would come here.
But it’s rare for me to be in a bad mood, so… I haven’t really been here much, or brought anyone else.
This place is a little special to me, but it’s not that I’m keeping it hidden on purpose.
It’s just that I never had the opportunity to share it, or had anyone to share it with.”

Pei Yu didn’t look at the stars, he only looked at him: “Why is this place special?”

“It’s a long story.” Xu Juan suddenly sat down and reached up to tug at Pei Yu’s pant leg.
Pei Yu could only sit with him, listening as he spoke, “I was very obedient in the past, very hardworking, I’ve said this before, haven’t I? But I haven’t told you, after I grew up, I became unwilling to study hard.”

“……” 

“On my twentieth birthday, my mom organized a grand coming-of-age ceremony for me.
She invited many friends, relatives and notable public figures.
When it was time to make a wish and blow out the candles, everyone present was looking at me.
They were waiting for me to, very meticulously and solemnly, announce my birthday wish.
I thought for a really long time, but had no idea what I desired.
I’ve learnt so much, I can pretty much do everything, but when I thought about the different directions in which my future could play out, none of them excited me.
I didn’t know why I was exhausting myself to the bone learning all these things, and for what purpose? Because my older brother had grown up this way and was successful, because my older sister, too, had grown up this way and was successful, so I should follow in their footsteps and become like them?”

Xu Juan leaned back on both hands, head tilted to gaze at the vast, starry sky.

We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection.
If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.

“Back then, I thought, why couldn’t I just be myself? To not let anyone else plan for me, to courageously walk my own path.” Xu Juan let out a faint laugh, “Once I had this idea, I was convinced.
When the banquet ended that night, I drove my very first car aimlessly out of the city and got here by accident.
Then, just like right now, I laid here on this stone platform, gazed upon this starry sky and thought for an entire night.”

“Qtja kfgf sbe atlcxlcu jybea?” 

Ufl Te kjr j nfgs ubbv ilrafcfg, jaafcalnf jcv qjalfca, cfnfg bcmf ibbxlcu jkjs ogbw tlw.

Cujlc, We Aejc ijeutfv: “P kjr bcis akfcas atja sfjg.
Ciatbeut P kjr kfii-ifjgca, P vlv cba ageis ecvfgrajcv wjcs atlcur.
P tjvc’a fnfc wlcuifv klat rbmlfas sfa, tbk mbeiv P qbrrlyis tjnf mbwf eq klat jcs ugjcv qglcmlqifr? Kb yf tbcfra, P cb ibcufg gfwfwyfg fzjmais tbk P ofia atfc.
Rbk atja P gfmjii, P rerqfma P kjr pera qertfv ab atf yglcx bo lcrjclas vef ab atf rmtfveif ws wbw tjv qijccfv obg wf jcv kjcafv ab lcveiuf wsrfio obg bcmf.
Dea P kjr rts jybea vlgfmais vblcu atja, rb P obecv wsrfio j rbqtlralmjafv gfjrbc jcv erfv olcvlcu ws kjs lc ilof jr jc fzmerf obg la.
Yc bcf tjcv, P obbifv ws ojwlis, bc atf batfg, P obbifv wsrfio.
Ccv atfc… P mbwqifafis nffgfv boo ws lclalji agjpfmabgs, cbk la’r pera jc jyrbieaf wfrr jcv P vbc’a fnfc xcbk ktfgf fnfgs aegc ifjvr ab.”

 

“……” Although Xu Juan’s words were that of him venting, his expression didn’t match, Pei Yu couldn’t figure out what he was thinking, “So were you in a bad mood today because of this? What happened?”

“Not much.” Xu Juan said, “Got lectured by my older sister earlier tonight.
She passed on a message from my mom, she wants me to settle down earlier.
Get married and have kids.” 

Pei Yu was bewildered, tightening his grip on the other’s hand.

Xu Juan said: “Don’t be afraid.
She’s only saying it to pressure me a little.
I guess my mom finds this son of hers particularly useless, and thinks that the only possible thing I could contribute to this house is producing an heir to continue the family line.”

“How are you useless.”

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“……” 

Perhaps it was due to a biased lover’s gaze, but Pei Yu always spoke sincerely of his good points.
Xu Juan shifted closer on his side, then lazily sprawled onto Pei Yu’s thigh.

It was true that his mood was ruined by Xu Qingguang today, but if he had to point out the core of what truly bothered him, was it being forced to marry? Not really.

Just as he’d said, it was rare for him to get into a bad mood, because he was very accepting, so not much could hurt him.
But he wasn’t a monk who had achieved nirvana, he had yet to become disillusioned with the world.
Of all the things Xu Qingguang had said today, while nothing else truly mattered, the phrase “almost thirty” had deeply disturbed him.

Time gave one the feeling of slowly and continuously being oppressed, and yet, it made not a sound. 

Xu Juan couldn’t imagine his life after thirty or forty.
Would he still be indulging in worldly pleasures? It didn’t seem like a bad thing, but it sure didn’t seem like anything good, either.

While he occasionally had mood drops, he had never felt pain.

But this pain was intense.
It was precise, and could be traced to its source: His “bad mood” was like a receding wave of frustration and aimlessness, built from years of mundanity.
It wasn’t usually noticed, but occasionally, when met with something that brought him slight discomfort, it would buoy quietly to the surface.
It would make him realize, all of a sudden: So I’m actually not happy.

—— Am I not happy? 

If I’m not happy, then how many people in this world would dare declare themselves happy?

This was the usual thought process Xu Juan used to console himself; He had no need for someone else’s comfort.
It wasn’t his intention to reveal so much to Pei Yu tonight, but under Pei Yu’s deeply tender gaze, he couldn’t help but put on a show.

And the main character of that show was modelled after himself.

“I’m spouting nonsense, it’s fine if you just accompany me.” Xu Juan reached an arm up to hook around Pei Yu’s neck, tugging him down for a kiss. 

“How beautiful the stars are.” He sighed quietly, “Sometimes, I think that the starscape is the most inconceivable sight.
It’s distant… Romantic, eternal.
If I could, I’d make my bed here and open my eyes every day to this endless Milky Way.”

“Are you having a hard time these days?” Pei Yu was more discerning than he’d imagined, he suddenly said, “I think there’s something that’s deeply bothering you.
Is it related to all the things you said earlier?”

 

Xu Juan rubbed at his nose: “I guess, but it’s not worth a mention.”

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“……” 

Pei Yu let him pillow his head on his thigh, threaded his fingers into his hair and gently massaged his scalp: “It’s inevitable that some things in life go against one’s wishes.
Don’t be upset.”

“Has anything ever gone against your wishes, Pei laoshi?” Xu Juan was made a little sleepy by how comfortable the massage was, letting out an involuntary yawn.

Pei Yu said: “Yeah, there are many things that go against my wishes.”

“Such as?” 

“I published a book this year.” Pei Yu said, “It was about research on the history of the Ming Dynasty.
I started writing this book when I was a first-year postgraduate student.
It went on after graduation, and even while I was working, I kept building up the content.
It took me quite a few years to write it.
Finally, there was a publishing house willing to publish my book.
But just before it went on the market, the editor-in-charge said that the history of the Ming Dynasty had already been thoroughly researched over and over.
There were too many existing books about it on the market, and neither was I a senior researcher in this field.
If we wanted it to sell well, some little tricks were necessary.”

“What kind of tricks?”

“She told me to get a set of photos taken and have them printed on the cover of the book.
She even wanted me to create a Weibo account and post selfies regularly.”

Xu Juan: “……” 

This was obviously a well-worn marketing technique that was extensively used by good looking female writers.
Would this work for good looking male writers, though?

However, it was true that in the current age, fans dominated the economy.
Although talented individuals need not rely on their faces for income, if someone as good looking as Pei Yu first did a face reveal to attract a hoard of followers, it would be considered a shortcut.

But he was an academic, what use were these kinds of shortcuts? Attracting fans who were only interested in his face to buy his book, then becoming an internet sensation, what was the point?

“I refused to.” Pei Yu said, “But since the contract had already been signed, I couldn’t go to another publisher.
After that, it was my uncle who helped me deal with the issue, the book was published as I had intended without my pictures.” 

“And then?”

“And then——” Pei Yu scoffed, “It indeed didn’t sell well, there were only a handful of readers.
Back then I was extremely dispirited, since I had put in so much effort, it was my blood, sweat and tears.
But in the end, I still accepted it, my writing was probably too boring.
I often find myself terribly dull, even in academics.
When I’m fascinated by something, in my heart, it is vivid and full of colour.
But I can never express it very well.”

“……”

Xu Juan thought to himself, wasn’t this the opposite of him? His heart was empty, but his mouth was full of flowery nonsense. 

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But he really hadn’t expected Pei Yu to have such dilemmas.

When Tang Sisi had sent him Pei Yu’s CV, he vaguely recalled seeing some research on the history of the Ming Dynasty, but he wasn’t sure how reputable they were in the field.
He wouldn’t understand anyway.
At a glance, he had only thought Pei Yu particularly impressive, how could he have known that there was such a backstory to him?

 

He could understand, though.

Xu Juan sighed: “Your situation is indeed something that goes against your wishes.
In comparison, mine can only be called making a big deal out of nothing, how can I say that it goes against my wishes…” 

However, Pei Yu said: “You can’t conclude it like that. The temperature of water is only known by the one who drinks it, so how can others know for sure if you’re truly having a hard time or not?”

He cupped Xu Juan’s face in both hands, then lowered his head to kiss him. 

It was an exceedingly tender kiss.
It was comforting, a sort of comfort that Xu Juan had never experienced.

A ruler who was aloof and accustomed to being isolated at the top, playing others into the palm of his hand, would never reveal his own weaknesses.

As such, Xu Juan was unwilling to speak in too much detail.
Despite that, he abruptly realized that Pei Yu had caught him.

Pei Yu was obviously a blockhead, but at this moment, it seemed as if Xu Juan had underestimated and overlooked his hidden intelligence.
Now, he had been bested and the other had his throat in a choke-hold. 

Xu Juan’s honeyed tongue stuttered to a stop, like a dwindling flame.
He remained dazed for a few seconds, then heard Pei Yu say: “Others may not understand you, but may I? Let me know you better, Xu Juan.”

“Okay.” Xu Juan grabbed onto Pei Yu’s hand, taking the opportunity to say, “So that we may get to know each other more conveniently, let’s move in together, Pei laoshi!”

“…… Why is your head constantly filled with stuff like this?”

“You don’t want to?” Xu Juan placed Pei Yu’s hand by his lips, kissing his ring finger and deliberately saying, “It’s fine if you don’t want to, just pretend I never said it.” 

“But you’ve already said it!” Pei Yu snatched his hand back, then leaned down and bit him hard.

T/N: this chapter was a little nostalgic to me, have you guys ever gone through a quarter-life crisis like Xu Juan? because i have (currently am) and it hit harder than expected.
although, of course!! i have different coping mechanisms aha.
Pei Yu is such an ideal partner… 

 

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