The Beginning – Dusk: Hunting
Translator: Sae | Proofreader: anasofi
At that time, Yan Ming’s eighteenth birthday had just passed, and he had already learned to cover his ambitions with playboy’s clothes and mannerism. However, he failed due to impatience a lot of the time.
“… after that, I followed that foreigner to his garage for a look and it was packed with marijuana that he had planted himself. He has an older male cousin who had just been released from prison and had set up a personal laboratory in the basement. He also produces some narcotics. I have some photos, Uncle, you can take a look.”
He had returned home after being on the plane for more than ten hours. Before his jetlag and the time difference had yet settled in, he ran over to see his uncle. No matter how excitedly he spoke, Li Shi Qing sat still behind a large desk and, turning a deaf ear as he browsed through a photo book in his hand. He finally looked at the watch, raised his eyes slightly, and said indifferently, “Since you just came back, go and rest first.”
Yan Ming still had some things to say, but he was afraid of him after all. He stood up for a while and stretched out his neck to look at the content of the book in Li Shi Qing’s hand, and vaguely saw pictures of some buildings. He smiled and asked, “Uncle, you’re looking into restates? Do you want to make an investment?”
Li Shi Qing ignored him and continued to flip through the pages of the book before he looked down at his watch again.
At that moment, Yan Ming could only discreetly ask, “Uncle, are you waiting for someone? Then, I’ll head out first.” He paused and then said, “I can go see Uncle Xie, right? I’ve asked around and heard that all the narcotics in the gang are looked after by him. Since you are not interested in these things, I reckon he must be.”
When Yan Ming came out of Li Shi Qing’s study room, he saw Li Shi Qing’s newly promoted member Liu Zi Cheng, leading a boy over from the courtyard.
Yan Ming waved his hand to Liu Zi Cheng as a greeting and looked at that boy. “Is he new here?” Then he added a few more words, “The members that entered the group recently are getting younger and younger, ah.”
Although Liu Zi Cheng was in his early twenties, his expressions and mannerisms in responding to anything were however similar to that of a mature person who had been in the underworld for a long time. His eyes seemed to spark, but his smile did not change. “Yan Shao, you really know how to play a joke. He is younger than you by three years and does not have enough qualifications to join. This is a student that Qing Long ge provides financial aid to. He is only here to thank him with a gift.” However, without introducing Yan Ming’s name and identity, Liu Zi Cheng looked at the boy and said, “I will go in to talk to Qing Long ge first. You can wait here for now.” After saying that, he walked toward Li Shi Qing’s study room.
Yan Ming began to think and then finally remembered what one of his Uncle’s hobby was. He watched as Liu Zi Cheng walked through the door and then turned to look up and down at that boy who remained silent, and grinned. “You are here empty-handed, what will you gift him as thanks?”
When the boy heard Liu Zi Cheng said “gift as thanks”, his brows rose questioningly. Now that Yan Ming was looking at him until he felt uncomfortable, he turned to look elsewhere and did not answer the other person.
Seeing that, Yan Ming did not bother to get to the heart of the matter. Instead, his eyes swept up and down that boy’s body unscrupulously and even deliberately looked at his lower half a bit longer.
With just one glance at the boy’s white shirt and pants, it was plain and clear that it was a school uniform— albeit, the style was old-fashioned and simple. After a close examination, Yan Ming noticed that the left side of his pant pocket was a bit stretched out. There was clearly something weighing down his pocket in there.
Yan Ming became alert, still wearing the same cheerful smile. “I know! The gift is in your pocket. What is it? Take it out and let me have a look.”
As he spoke, he quickly reached over towards the boy’s pocket, but taken aback, the boy took a step back and blocked Yan Ming with his hands. The two ended up in a tug of war where ‘one blocks and the other attacks’ with neither giving in.
Since Yan Ming was in his own territory and seeing that the boy was younger than him by a few years, he did not take him seriously. However, he did not expect to lose out after he had made those moves. He laughed and said, “Oh! You’re pretty strong.” As a result, he instead exerted the strength in his arm, and went for the boy’s eyes.
The boy had reckoned that someone would not dare to actually attack since this was Qing Long ge’s residence. He quickly withdrew his hand to stop Yan Ming, but Yan Ming seized the opportunity to reach into the boy’s pocket instead.
Knowing right after that he had been tricked, and although the boy had quickly reacted and firmly gripped this person’s wrist, the thing in his pocket had already been pulled out.
It was a cuboid shape, completely steel shell— cigarette lighter.
Seeing that it was not a knife, Yan Ming felt relieved at first. Yet, he also felt that the area of his skin where this boy had gripped his wrist was cold and moist. It was obvious that the palm of his hand had broken out in cold sweat. He had thought the boy was putting on a pretentious act, but now, Yan Ming discovered that he was just nervous. However, the maliciousness in his heart did not decrease as he teased and laughed. “I really can’t tell, you actually smoke?” He suddenly moved in closer, practically putting his face near the boy’s as if to smell him. “Let me smell if you have smoke on your body or not.”
The boy leaned back and closed his mouth and tightened his brows, but he did not seem frantic as he released Yan Ming’s wrist in order to grab his lighter.
Yan Ming evaded and laughed out loud, then, just as he was about to tease him again, he heard a stern voice travelling over from the study room.
“Return it to him.”
Yan Ming did not expect that his uncle would actually come out to meet the boy instead of waiting in the study room. He hurriedly looked at the boy and smiled, “We were just having fun, right?”
The boy did not look at him and turned to Li Shi Qing with downcast eyes. “Qing Long ge.”
His voice was very respectful, but his mouth twitched slightly, obviously more nervous than before.
Yan Ming laughed teasingly and gave Li Shi Qing a meaningful glance.
Li Shi Qing did not give him any face at all as he spoke, “Don’t think you are clever. Go and do your own things.”
Hearing that, Yan Ming deliberately lingered around for another moment until Li Shi Qing’s sharp gaze swept toward him. He did not dare to say anything else and passed the lighter back to the boy. “Here.”
The boy reached out to take it, but Yan Ming pulled back a bit causing him to involuntarily move forward. Then, seizing a moment when Li Shi Qing’s gaze was not on them, Yan Ming whispered coldly in the boy’s ear. “You’re so stubborn you deserve to get fucked.”
The boy took his lighter expressionlessly, even his eyelashes did not move.
“You didn’t eat much.” Li Shi Qing kept his attention on Xiao Li during the entire time he ate, and only spoke after he placed his chopsticks down.
Xiao Li sat straight, which was obviously a kind of uncomfortable display. His expression was also very cautious as he looked at Li Shi Qing and answered. “I am full. Thank you, Qing Long ge.”
After receiving a simple gesture, a subordinate had already started to gather the bowl and chopsticks. Li Shi Qing patted the seat beside him and looked at Xiao Li with a smile. “Come and sit here.”
The expression on Xiao Li’s face was packed with even more cautiousness as he lowered his head. “Qing Long ge, I have class tomorrow. I should leave now.”
Li Shi Qing did not respond to his sentence and only said warmly, “Xiao Yang’s teacher gave me a call.”
As Xiao Li picked up his head to look at him, Li Shi Qing took the book beside his hand and passed it over to him.
Xiao Li was obviously extremely nervous, since his posture was very unnatural as he took that photo book. Then he lowered his eyes to look at the cover and bowed his head. “Qing Long ge, you have helped Xiao Yang transfer to such a good school and even gave him those tutors. When he was sick last time, you also… we have already… already troubled you enough. We can… we do not want to cause you any more trouble.”
When Li Shi Qing watched him talk, he patiently observed his expressions and once Xiao Li was done, he spoke warmly in return. “This time the class is going to London, but Xiao Yang is not the only one that has not registered yet. I heard that there is also an international competition and Xiao Yang has been preparing quite well for it. It would be a pity if he doesn’t make it.” He paused and whispered, “Take good care of Xiao Yang. Wasn’t that your mother’s final wish? Don’t hold him back.”
There was a contradictory look in Xiao Li’s eyes that was mixed together with sorrow and anger. Li Shi Qing stared at his face for a moment and laughed lightly, “Don’t worry. I will help you. I have already registered him.”
Xiao Li did not speak as his fingers tightened on that glossy book even more.
His fingers were slender, and his nails were trimmed very nicely, appearing very pleasing to the eye. Li Shi Qing’s gaze slowly moved up his arm and stopped at his lips.
At that moment, Xiao Li finally made a firm decision and his voice was filled with earnest. “Qing Long ge, please do not bother yourself with that. What you said before, I really cannot agree—”
Before he could finish his words, he stopped because he finally summoned up the courage to look straight at Li Shi Qing. However, the desire in the pair of eyes behind those spectacles startled him.
Xiao Li’s face reddened before immediately turning completely pale. He stood up.
“I should leave.” He said urgently, trying to restrain his uneasiness.
Li Shi Qing remained on the same spot as if he did not hear what Xiao Li had said. Not only did he not move, his lustful expression did not change either and even his line of sight lingered strongly on Xiao Li’s lips.
Noting that, Xiao Li almost looked around frantically. Without him knowing it, they were the only two left in the living room now, and if he wanted to reach the door, he had to pass by Li Shi Qing. However, he could not move even one step. He only thought that the lighting in the room had become dazzling all of a sudden.
Li Shi Qing’s gaze roamed from his lips to his eyes as he slowly stood up.
When he stood up, the intense pressure that took form around him was even greater. Xiao Li stared at him with wide eyes as his whole body practically froze up. It was only until Li Shi Qing was nearly in front of him that his limbs finally moved, and he staggered back. “Qing Long ge, let me go. Qing Long ge… you can let me do anything, but I, I can’t… I’m willing to follow you as a subordinate. I can fight for you with my life… but anything other than that, I can’t. Qing Long ge…”
Hearing his words made the light in Li Shi Qing’s eyes brighten up even more. As if he was enjoying the fear that emitted from a prey, he leisurely took a step toward Xiao Li.
Liu Zi Cheng was hiding in the shadow of the stairs with his arms crossed as he coldly watched the scene of the prey being hunted.
Li Shi Qing had already forced the boy to the wall. That young boy’s complexion was completely pale, and his lips had lost its color— and only the two eyes on his face were dark enough to frighten anyone. He stared at Li Shi Qing with those eyes as both his frozen arms were placed in front, holding something in his hand.
Liu Zi Cheng narrowed his eyes.
Li Shi Qing laughed gloomily. “You want to light me up?”
The boy pushed open the lid of the cigarette lighter; then, the clanging of metal sounded as a thin blade appeared. The blade was sharp and, as the light in the room shone on it, its sharpness seemed to increase.
However, Li Shi Qing’s footsteps did not stop.
“Come,” he said just like that, using a hoarse, teasing and excited tone. “Test it on your Qing Long ge.”
The boy looked at him desperately as he tried hard to calm down his voice. “Qing Long ge, I’m willing to be your subordinate. I will work hard with my life. I’m serious, Qing Long ge.”
Liu Zi Cheng curled his own lips at Xiao Li’s innocence.
The difference in strength is far too great and the ending will be even more senseless, he thought. It is simply like a tiger and rabbit.
He thought that when the tiger enjoyed the rabbit, he did not wish to see his bodyguard on the scene. He should quietly take his leave.
After that, he took another glance at that boy’s eyes— his footsteps stopped immediately.
That boy’s arm was still shaking, just like a leaf in the wind, but there was an unwavering determination in his eyes as if he was a rock that could not be challenged no matter what.
“Qing Long ge,” Xiao Li said.
And then, he suddenly turned his wrist and thrust the knife toward his own face.
Xie Dafu, who had previously opened a black clinic in the north, was in his forties. He frequently treated some unscrupulous lawbreakers who were injured due to bust-ups between gangs. After joining the gang for not too long, he became the head of a high-level privately runned hospital and his collaborations with lawbreakers also reached a new height.
To that day, he was considered to be a veteran in the underworld and could even directly call Qing Long ge by his name, and Qing Long ge also called him, “Mr. Xie”. However, still somewhat afraid of Qing Long ge, he was always extremely cautious with his words and actions and never showed his feelings on his face, especially anger.
Now that he was being stopped by Yan Ming in the garage, he also remained calm and collected. He looked straight at him and slowly said, “What are you asking about that for?”
Yan Ming shrugged his shoulders and laughed happily. “He called you over in the middle of the night, I was worried that he was sick.”
Xie Dafu looked expressionlessly at his mischievous smile, “He is fine.” Then, he bypassed Yan Ming and went to open the car door.
Yan Ming reached out to prop his hand on the roof of the car as to block him.
Seeing that, Xie Dafu’s brows slowly tightened as he looked uninterestedly at Yan Ming for a while before he spoke. “Your mother paid for you to go abroad but didn’t intend for you to return.”
Yan Ming’s smile disappeared as he looked straight into Xie Dafu’s eyes. “That was my Uncle’s intention and not my mother’ idea. Uncle Xie, don’t you understand my mother’s thoughts the most?” Seeing that Xie Dafu still kept silent, Yan Ming lowered his head and thought for a moment before looking back up at him. “Uncle Xie, my mother often mentioned you before she passed away and said that you always cared for her. The things that you sent her, she kept them all this time…”
A crack emerged in Xie Dafu’s steel-like eyes as he sighed lightly and went silent for a moment while looking in Yan Ming’s direction.
Before he had a chance to speak, Yan Ming had already rushed to say in front of him. “While she was alive, she hoped for me to get closer to you. Uncle Xie, if she knew that I returned and worked with you, she would definitely be happy.”
Xie Dafu lowered his eyes and frowned. He considered some things to himself for what seemed like ages before he finally made up his mind and picked up his head.
“Get in the car,” he said.
Before looking urgently at the guest room next door, Liu Zi Cheng walked back and forth in the living room a few times as he looked at the two other people waiting at the doorway.
Twenty minutes ago, Xie Dafu had come out and informed him that ‘it was nothing serious’ before taking his leave. Since then, the door to the guest room has been closed.
As Qing Long ge’s close-knit brother, not only did Liu Zi Cheng not notice that Xiao Li had brought in a knife, he was also unable to prevent the situation. Those two things alone made him felt inadequate to his position. In the short while that Qing Long ge did not come out, he also did not feel at ease, hoping that Qing Long ge would hurriedly deal with him. Then, he thought that since Qing Long ge did not come out after so long, perhaps he had torn that good-for-nothing boy completely naked and had had his way in a fit of anger. No matter what he was doing, if that was the case, when he came out he should be cool-headed.
Just as he was pondering, he finally summoned up the courage to move closer to the door to listen for any movements. But just after he took two steps, the guest room door opened.
Qing Long ge walked out of the room; his shirt was wrinkled with only two buttons fastened, and there were bloodstains on the front lapels and cuffs. Although he had on a gloomy face and his brows were slightly tightened, it did not look as though he was angry, but as if he was actually thinking about something instead.
Liu Zi Cheng hastily bowed and said, “Qing Long ge. It was my negligence, I didn’t expect…”
Without looking at him, Qing Long ge simply unbuttoned his shirt. As Liu Zi Cheng stammered to finish his words, he did not make any statement about his fault. But rather, he looked at the guest room behind him and coldly instructed, “Take him to the northern district tomorrow and hand him over to Jin Ya Rong.”
Liu Zi Cheng was stunned, “Qing Long ge, you are really going to allow him… to be a subordinate?” Actually, what he wanted to ask was, ‘do you really want him to go to the northern district?’ The northern district was the most chaotic place in the entire city. Beside their gang’s own venues, not only was the whole area also covered with Ma Que zi’s and Luo Dong’s influences, there were armed confrontations between the different gang factions practically every day. With Jing Ya Rong being the loan shark who collected debts for the gang, the men working for him were all ruthless and sharpened characters. It was not hard to imagine that they were faced with knives and blood on a daily basis.
There was no change in Qing Long ge’s voice. “Unless he kneels and crawls back here. Otherwise, there is no need to let me know regardless of whether he is dead or alive.”
It was then that Liu Zi Cheng saw that the guest bedroom door was not closed tightly. He reckoned that Qing Long ge’s words were definitely said for Xiao Li to hear, so he continued to ask. “Then, what about the bank account that was opened especially for his younger brother before…”
“Cancel it. If his teacher calls again, let her go and find Xiao Li directly,” Qing Long ge said coldly as he lifted his hands to take off the bloody shirt and threw it on the floor where the other bloodstains were. “Get someone to clear this mess up.” With that said, he walked toward the staircase.
Liu Zi Cheng had been sweating all over long ago. Seeing that Qing Long ge did not intend to blame him, he secretly sighed to himself. Just as he turned around and was about to call for those two people at the door, he thought of something and stood still. “Qing Long ge, that Xiao Hua Zhe’s grave, you said to embellish it for her before… would it still… ”
When Qing Long ge stood still at those words, there was a long moment of silence in the living room. In the quietness, a low muffled sound came transmitted from the half-opened door of the room, as if something had fallen to the floor.
Soon after, it was quiet again and there was no more noise in the room.
Qing Long ge turned around and glanced at the room, then spoke with a kind of irritability of someone who had completely lost interest. “Those are two completely different things. After all, Hua Zhi was also part of the gang. Let her rest in peace.”
Liu Zi Cheng glanced at Qing Long ge, and the cold sweat that had just left him came pouring back. From his perspective, Qing Long ge had obviously made a kindhearted decision. But as he looked over at the door of the guest room, there was, on the contrary, an indescribable feeling of cruelty.
Liu Zi Cheng did not sleep well that night. When he closed his eyes, he only saw how Qing Long ge changed into a tiger and was messing with a rabbit until it was nearly dead before relentlessly tearing it to pieces— just like how a cat would toy with a mouse. As he stood to the side and watched on, he suddenly found that he had grown a pair of sharp fangs and claws. When he woke up, he felt that there was still a bloody taste in his mouth, which made him extremely excited. He began to long to have the complete power to kill a tiger.
Xiao Li did not sleep well either. A small amount of sedatives and anesthetics made him unable to feel the pain of the wound, but the extreme anxiety still caused his brain the inability to rest peacefully. As soon as he was able to move, he staggered out of Qing Long ge’s residence, and although his head was spinning uncontrollably, he only thought of how he still needed to go to class. Once he arrived in front of the school gate, he became clear-headed, knowing full well that he could no longer attend school. He stood at the entrance from the early hours of the morning until the splendid sunlight emerged in the vast skyline.
Yan Ming did not sleep that night. Xie Dafu had always believed that a wise man should look after his own hide. And, if he wanted the most significant person in this gang to trust and value him, he must assist and obey in the future— merely having a mother who had an old affection with him was not enough. By the time he returned to his own place, it was already midnight. He was not sure whether the conversation he had just then had touched that hard to convince person or not. He was very apprehensive and fretful about his own future, to the extent that he could not even rejoice in his own uncle’s failed hunt.
Not long after, these three young men became the tower of strength in the gang. But, at the same time, they had individually survived many sleepless nights. In each of their respective lives, they had never forgotten that night, but nevertheless, none of them could have guessed the final ending.
 Xie Dafu – Doctor Xie (since I have kept a lot of the characters’ title in Chinese, I will do the same for Uncle Xie.)