Xiao Li sat trembling in the back seat of the taxi. Qi Xiuyuan couldn’t help but feel anxious and embrace him when he saw that.
The driver was still in shock at the young man who had jumped in front of his car in order to stop him while wearing only underwear. At that time, the look on his face was unsightly, to say the least. But now, as he glanced at the back seats from the corner of his eyes again, his complexion became even more unsightly.
When Qi Xiuyuan saw Xiao Li lips moved slowly, he moved in closer to him only to hear him mutter a few words strenuously.
Fearful that Qi Xiuyuan did not understand him completely, anxiety welled in Xiao Li’s eyes as he attempted to open his mouth again.
But there was no need to. The look in his eyes alone told Qi Xiuyuan everything.
“Don’t worry,” Qi Xiuyuan said as he reached his hand out to cover Xiao Li’s mouth. “Don’t worry, I’ll try my best not to make any mistake.”
With that, he pulled out his phone and dialed a number.
“Who is this?” The voice that transmitted from the other side sounded fairly lazy.
Qi Xiuyuan knew right away that it was Han Jia.
“Han Laoban, Xiao Li and I are together,” Qi Xiuyuan said briefly. “He was ambushed by some people and got injured. He’s unable to talk to you right now, but we are on our way to the Third Hospital. If you know anyone there, please inform them for us.”
“Who are you?” Han Jia immediately became sober upon hearing those serious words.
“Someone that Xiao Li had helped.”
Just as Qi Xiuyuan was about to hang up, Xiao Li’s anxious eyes stopped him. Understanding him, Qi Xiuyuan sighed and continued, “He was ambushed at the back alley of the Arc de Triomphe. Yes, the limousine is still parked there. You should send some men to check it.”
Then without waiting for Han Jia’s response, Qi Xiuyuan hung up. He looked at Xiao Li and saw that his mood had become calmer.
Xiao Li was in his embrace. His eyes were hung low as fine beads of sweat slid down his forehead all the way to his brows and lashes. The way his lashes fluttered just the slightest against the sweat appeared gentle and serene.
Qi Xiuyuan shifted his eyes elsewhere immediately. He didn’t want to stare too long, knowing full well that his own eyes were sheathed with softness.
What kind of joke was this?
Since he was wearing only underwear, some things were fundamentally impossible to hide if he were to get out.
Once the driver heard the content of the call, he didn’t dare to glance back anymore. His foot pressed hard on the gas pedal, bringing them to the Third Hospital in mere minutes.
Fortunately, Han Jia had informed someone he knew at the hospital ahead of time. So, just as Qi Xiuyuan helped Xiao Li out of the taxi, some nurses brought over a stretcher. Believing that the injuries were sustained by gang violence, the surgery was led by a senior middle-age surgeon.
Who could have guessed that Xiao Li was actually poisoned?
Blood tests were arranged and experts in toxicology were notified. Strangely enough, someone had even given Qi Xiuyuan a white garment.
With groups of nurses and doctors rushing to the special care unit, there was surprisingly no confusion.
Since it was impossible for Qi Xiuyuan to help out, he could only wait outside ‘patiently’. However, a minute later, the senior surgeon came out to look for him.
“The person inside kept saying, ‘make him leave’. Is it you?” the surgeon asked.
Qi Xiuyuan was shocked and nodded unconsciously. He turned to leave but ended up entering the sick ward after contemplating for a moment.
Xiao Li was lying on a bed beneath a light with two nurses busily handling some medical instruments that he had never seen before. With the light on him like that, Qi Xiuyuan could clearly see the bloodstains on the shirt that he had given Xiao Li earlier. A doctor came over and snipped the shirt open with a pair of medical scissors, revealing the many gashes on Xiao Li’s body.
Qi Xiuyuan did not have the heart to look at those wounds as he walked to the bed and stoop down to Xiao Li’s level.
“Are you thinking that since your subordinates will be here soon and you don’t want me to get involved?”
Since Xiao Li was unable to speak properly, he merely looked at Qi Xiuyuan’s face.
Noticing that, Qi Xiuyuan felt he had received an answer already. He lowered his voice, “I understand. I… I will come and see you tomorrow.”
After that, he gave Xiao Li a warm smile and left the hospital.
By the time he arrived home, it was already very early in the morning. Susu was sleeping in the living room, looking as though she had waited for him all night.
Qi Xiuyuan remembered how Xiao Yang had mentioned the ‘marriage proposal’ to him earlier. Susu must have felt restless not knowing her brother’s response which made her stay up.
When he sighed and sat on the sofa to touch her hair, he couldn’t help but feel worried.
Now that he was finally able to think about everything, only fear crept into his heart.
If he didn’t accidentally see the Lincoln limousine and Xiao Li was successfully captured by those people, what would have happened? Although he knew that Xiao Li was a gang leader, it was only after experiencing the fear of being hunted did he himself fully understood what that kind of identity signified.
The use of violence and unnecessary blood spills naturally made Qi Xiuyuan feel disgusted. However, Xiao Li had a peculiar charm to him. For some time, he had struggled between that disgust and the longing for Xiao Li. He had even though he was fully prepared for any changes. Unfortunately, it was only a moment ago did he truly came to realize that Xiao Li did not reek of blood and violence. He merely lived in a world painted colors, and that, regrettably surrounded by that environment.
‘Surrounded by that environment’. Suddenly, those words no longer seemed so distant; no longer seemed to be just an idea, but rather, it transformed and took existence in this reality.
It transformed into a hasty escape that gave Xiao Li no time to put on his clothes; shattered glasses that tore into his body; the endless trembles that turned his face a deathly pale and drenched his whole body in cold sweats; it transformed into those mysterious pursuers whose faces blurred into the darkness of the night as they come and go in silent…
Unable to sit still, Qi Xiuyuan got up and walked to the balcony but then he returned to the living room again. He repeated that several more times, unable to calm his racing heart.
Did he often encounter those kinds of situations that forced him to walk at the edge of death? How can you truly belong to yourself when you’re so accustomed to the darkness?
“Li ge, Li ge, wake up…” someone called at the side of his ear.
Xiao Li’s brows pulled tightly together. He still felt extremely dizzy and exhausted, and in truth, he didn’t have the will to open his eyes.
“Xiao Li, Xiao Li,” another voice sounded.
“Let me do it,” the second person uttered again.
Suddenly, Xiao Li felt something cold swept lightly across his face. He quivered involuntarily before his eyes shot open.
A middle-aged man around forty (or slightly more) with glasses, was sitting beside his sickbed, wiping his face with a wet towel.
When the man saw that Xiao Li had awakened, he moved the towel and let out a long sigh.
“The doctor said you were okay, but I was really worried since you didn’t wake up.”
Xiao Li shifted his shoulder and sat up now that he was able to move normally. He lowered his head and said respectfully, “Qing-Ye.”19
Li Shiqing spoke with a warm tone of voice. “It’s good that nothing happened to you but tell me what happened yesterday.”
Looking at the night that has yet to exist outside, Xiao Li knew instantly that Li Shiqing had come to see him last night. He also understood that the situation has taken a turn for the worse.
When he returned his gaze, he caught sight of Lin Zi who was standing behind Li Shiqing. His red eyes made Xiao Li somewhat confused. But, casting that aside, he started to talk about yesterday’s situation.
After listening to him, Li Shiqing went silent. Then he asked, “What do you think?”
Xiao Li, “I heard those women mentioned Wu Tougui and Lao Binggui.20 It’s possible that they came to avenge them.”
“Are you talking about Luo Dong? He still has the strength to avenge his subordinates?” Li Shiqing asked.
Xiao Li, “Those two women weren’t novices. If they were from this territory, it’s impossible for me to not know of them. I’m afraid he has found someone influential to support him,”
Li Shiqing did not respond and simply nodded. Then he said, “You should rest well then. Take as many days as you need to fully recuperate.”
Having said that, he reached out to touch the scar on Xiao Li’s cheek, “Only when you preserve your life can you repay me.”
Xiao Li lowered his head and avoided his fingers, “Yes. I will, Qing-Ye.”
After giving him another glance, Li Shiqing left with three other men.
Lin Zi sent them off to the door, then slowly walked back.
“What’s happened?” Xiao Li asked immediately, “Where’s Hong Tou?”17
Lin Zi wiped his eyes and spoke with a sobbing tone. “Li ge, Hong Tou is dead.”
Hearing that, Xiao Li’s lips tightly pursed as he gritted his teeth in anger. “What happened?”
Unable to hold back his tears, Lin Zi tried to speak some coherent sentences. “When Han Laoban called yesterday, I remembered that Hong Tou went with you to the Arc de Triomphe. I called him several times, but he didn’t pick up. I was afraid something happened, so I took some men and went to look for him. We found him inside a bathroom, on the second floor of the Arc de Triomphe. His… someone had slit his throat. He was lying in… waste and his body were completely ice-cold… he was still clutching a gun…”
A twinge of pain penetrated Xiao Li’s heart as he turned over and got off the bed. He took a few steps then turned around, “Lao Wang, he…”
Lin Zi, “He’s not dead. Someone stabbed him twice in the driver’s seat; one stab struck his neck, so even if he lived… and the women that Qing-Ye sent over were actually ambushed and swapped on their way to the Arc de Triomphe. They were beaten until they lost consciousness and thrown into a car on the roadside. There was a hose stuffed inside the exhaust pipe which caused the fumes to backlash into the car. Luckily there was a small crack in the car, otherwise, they would have died from carbon monoxide poisoning… Li ge, that group of people is evil. Even Luo Dong was not as evil as they are…”
Xiao Li went silent for a while. When Lin Zi’s sobs slowly faded away, he finally asked in a low voice, “When is the funeral?”
“In three days.”
“As his brothers, we need to send him off in a brilliant manner.”
“Yes, Li ge.”
“… doesn’t he also have a grandfather?”
“He passed away last year. Hong Tou had asked for leave then.”
Xiao Li nodded, “You can go and prepare for it first.”
Lin Zi simply agreed and left the sick ward.
Once he was alone, Xiao Li stood in the same spot for some time and watched as the sky lit up. A burst of sunlight gradually shone on his face, but only the dark abyss existed in his eyes.
17 Hong Tou – literal translation is ‘Red Head’ (Xiao Li’s close subordinate)
18 Lao Bing-Gui – is ‘the demon’ mentioned in chapter 4
19 Qing-Ye [ Li Shiqing] ‘Ye’ means master or older gentleman [in this case it would be master/leader] When the Ye is added, it’s part of their status, not their name unless specified
20 Wu Tou Gui and Lao Bing-Gui – two of Luo Dong’s subordinate that was caught by Xiao Li