When Liu Zicheng went to consult Jin Yarong about borrowing some of his subordinates, he did not expect that capable person known as “Dāobā Xiao” to actually be “Xiao Li”.
Jin Yarong was one of the senior figures to had followed Qing Long ge in the beginning. Once in a brutal fight, he suffered tremendously when five of his teeth was destroyed and Qing Long ge paid for him to get gold implants. He was intensely proud of it, and since then, he especially loved to laugh with a bright smile.
He put forth three names and dispatched a xiao di to go and find them in the venue. While he waited for his subordinates, he introduced the aforementioned men to Liu Zi Cheng. “‘Ding Zi’, you’re acquainted with him already. Liu Baoju just got out of the prison last year, with a raise of his hand, he can break you in half. Then there’s ‘Dāobā Xiao’, have you heard of him?” He touched his chin and nodded. “Although he’s young and had just emerged in the scene, his fists are strong, his words are little yet his brain is exceptionally good—a successful person. This subordinate of mine can fight any number of people that are thrown at him. There are not many out there like him.” He smiled at Liu Zicheng, “Zicheng, young men like you guys are truly amazing. In three or four years, this city will be your realm.”
Liu Zicheng hastened to return the politeness, “Rong ge you’re making fun of me again. The bit of success we have still relied on your training. Even for Dāobā Xiao to have the reputation he has now, isn’t it because Gong ge taught him well?”
As expected, Jin Yarong reaped the benefits and smiled brilliantly: “When would I have the time to teach this person or that person? Isn’t this due to Qing Long ge’s good insight when he sent me such a good person?” He patted Liu Zicheng’s shoulder again, “Now that you mention it, aren’t you the one who brought him over here back then?”
Hearing that, Liu Zicheng stared blankly since honestly did not know what Jin Yarong was speaking of. Just as he was about to inquire him, there was a knock on the door.
Jin Yarong shouted for the people outside to come in and instructed them: “Come meet Cheng ge.”
In addition to the xiao di who had previously gone to get the others, altogether, there were four individuals of various stature who entered. Liu Zicheng recognized Xiao Li with just a glance.
He was much taller than three years ago—the contour of his face was richer and the calm yet indifferent expression that he exuded did not conform with his age. Liu Zicheng looked expressionlessly at him for a long while. Since he worked beside Qing Long ge, he had never seen this young man ‘crawl’ back. He had even thought that he was dead.
Xiao Li, however, did not recognize him as he and the other two people said “Cheng ge” and stood in the same place waiting for them to speak.
Jin Yarong opened his mouth first as he used his eyes to press back and forth between his three subordinates. “Everyone knows Zicheng, Qing Long ge’s chief confidant. Helping him to do things is the same as helping Qing Long ge himself. If everything is handled well, we’ll all be happy. Even if you lose an arm or leg, the gang will take care of you until death takes you. If you don’t handle things well, what you’re tossing away is your Rong ge’s face. If later on, I can’t mingle in the underworld, don’t even think you can.” Afterward, he gave Liu Zicheng a glance. “Zicheng, if you want them to do something, just instruct them.”
As he spoke, Liu Zicheng was looking up and down at those three individuals—mainly observing Xiao Li. At first, he wanted to explain the matter to all of them on the spot but now that he saw Xiao Li, he felt especially indecisive.
“Do you all have a cell phone?” he finally asked.
After receiving a positive reply, he said: “Give me your numbers. Don’t turn off your phone for the next two day and don’t leave the city. Just wait for my call.”
Once Liu Zicheng left the Northern District, he drove directly to Qing Long ge’s residence.
Qing Long ge’s new flame was a pair of brother and sister twin, both of whom are university students in this city. When Liu Zicheng entered the living room, the brother was lying on the sofa reading a newspaper and his sister was sitting on the carpet playing on the computer.
The two had been trained by Qing Long ge to be completely docile. When they saw Liu Zi Cheng, to sat upright and respectfully called him, “Cheng ge.”
Normally, Liu Zicheng would not even spare them a glance. But this time, he gave them an expressionless nod before he sat on the other side of the sofa and examine them.
Both the brother and the sister were the fair and elegant type with slender and pliable bodies. The brother’s eyelashes are longer than his sister’s. When he looked at people, it always seemed to contain a feeling of love and affection.
Liu Zicheng looked a couple more times and frowned. In regard to the relationship between men, he honestly did not understand it at all. Thus, he did not know how to measure the similarities and differences between two men in this kind of thing. But looking at it only from appearance and objective conditions, he did not think that this brother and Xiao Li had even a tiny bit of similarity—whether it was the Xiao Li from three years ago or the Xiao Li of today.
He really did not expect that the person Jin Yarong gave him to use was Xiao Li. He could not let Xiao Li participate in his own plan, because this plan was related to the safety of Qing Long ge. Regardless of whether Qing Long ge remembered Xiao Li or not or what he thought of Xiao Li, as long as Xiao Li held even a hint of dissatisfaction toward Qing Long ge, the matter will remain a worry.
But Jin Yarong had vouched for the three, so how can he use two and leave one high and dry?
“Now that Cheng ge is flushed with success and constantly promoted, how come you’re still pulling a long face?” Someone stood at the top of the stairs, greeting him with a smile before wobbling down.
Liu Zicheng put down his cocked legs and smiled faintly. “My abilities are lacking. Since I can’t compare to Yan shao who has a smooth ride, so of course, I’ll look anxious and miserable.”
Yan Ming snorted and walked slowly toward him. He turned a blind eye to the other two people in the living room and sat directly across from him. “Cheng ge has many subordinates and venues in his hands…I heard that my uncle has given you a big deal recently. If that’s not considered a smooth ride, then how much smoother do you want it to be Cheng ge?”
The twins glanced at each other, and not daring to even say goodbye, they passively left the living room.
When Liu Zicheng saw that the two figures were gone, he looked at Yan Ming: “Yan shao, goodness, you actually talk about the gang’s affair in front of strangers?”
Yan Ming scoffed disdainfully, “You really think too highly of those two—” He made an extremely vulgar movement and then looked askance at Liu Zicheng. “I’m being genuine here, I’ve been short on people recently. You have more people under you so if there are any available just lend me one or two.”
Liu Zicheng looked at him with a puzzling expression. “Don’t you buy and sell uh… drugs? Those addicts…you need that many people?”
Yan Ming crossed his arms. “I want to collect some debts. Nowadays, those peoples’ morality is really fucking bad. They owe me money and have the nerve to slipped away. I can’t find them everywhere. Just for the sake of blocking them, it is not enough even if I use all my men.”
“Alright. When I return, I’ll take a look and send you some people.”
Yan Ming nodded his head satisfyingly, “You have to keep your promise. Don’t slack off on me!”
Before Liu Zicheng could reply, he saw Qing Long ge walking down the stairs. The two stood up to greet him. Yan Ming discreetly excused himself by saying he wanted to smoke, leaving only Liu Zicheng in the living room with Qing Long ge.
“How many people did Jin Yarong give you?” Qing Long ge asked as he sat down on the sofa.
Liu Zicheng did not dare to sit. He stood to the side and poured a glass of water for Qing Long ge, seemingly hesitant to answer. “Two.”
Qing Long ge laughed, “The old bastard is getting more and more stingy.”
Liu Zicheng was a little nervous—worried that he would call Jin Yarong, but Qing Long ge merely raised his hand and gestured for him to sit down. “Two is fine, it’s quality rather than quantity that counts. The place that we need to strike used to be Jin Yarong’s territory, as long as we are familiar with the terrain, it would be enough if our attack is ruthless.”
Liu Zicheng agreed and finalized the time with Qing Long ge before heading out the door.
Afterward, he found the Yan Ming smoking at the side of the garden and told him: “I have found you a strong individual who can help you collect your debts.”
Abiding by Liu Zicheng’s instructions, Xiao Li went to the Eastern District to see the drug lord who needed manpower to collect his debts. This drug-lord needed only to say a couple of words for Xiao Li to recognize him as the person who had shamed him three years ago, Yan Ming.
He had had doubts about it: Rong ge had sent three people to Cheng ge, but Cheng ge only took the other two and left. He had only said to him, “I need you for something else. There is a drug-lord in the Eastern District that wants someone to help him collect debts.” After he said that and saw that he was hesitant, he explained half-heartedly: “You should go help out there first, if we can’t handle the situation here, we will call you.”
The tone that Liu Zicheng had employed made Xiao Li feel untrusted. He did not know whether or not he had done something that made the gang suspicious or if he was being tested, but when he recognized Yan Ming, he felt even more uncomfortable.
Yan Ming was dressed like a student from a foreign famous school. He did not seem to have recognized his face as he frowned and looked him up and down. “Is Liu Zicheng playing with me? How old are you? Are you even twenty?”
Xiao Li did not answer, instead, he stood there and waited for Yan Ming to instruct him.
Yan Ming looked at him suspiciously: “Have I seen you before?” After muttering to himself for a long while, he briefed the situation to Xiao Li. “This wretched whore was originally a small drug distributor under my hand. Since she started taking drugs, from then to now, the number of goods and money she defrauded me are in the millions. That amount is what I can calculate, but there are even more that I haven’t calculated yet. I had someone blocked her three or four times already, but this fucking bitch runs faster than a rabbit. I don’t know where she is hiding now. Fuck! If I can tolerate this, I, Yan Ming will write my name backward!” As he spoke, he took out a piece of paper from his pocket. “This was discovered two days ago, her son’s address. No one has visited this house in the past two days. Go there and ask around, grab her son and bring him here. I don’t believe that this whore will disregard her own son!”
As he spoke, he slapped the piece of paper as if to slam it on Xiao Li’s chest.
Xiao Li took a step back to avoid it and then reached out to receive the paper. Just as he was about to turn and leave, he heard Yan Ming speak. “Stop.”
He stood still and looked at Yan Ming with no expression.
Yan Ming carefully looked over his face and suddenly smiled maliciously. “I remember now, it’s you.” Who knew what he was thinking as his smile grew and he reached out to touch the scar on his face.
Xiao Li frowned and grabbed his wrist, and said: “Ming ge, I am from the Northern District.”
Yan Ming smiled and looked at him: “So, you’re one of Jin Yarong’s people who is also Liu Zicheng’s people and now you’re one of mine? If you were with my uncle back then, would it have been worthwhile…” He hissed and then took a deep breath, “Let go.”
Xiao Li let go and looked at him without emotion. “Ming ge, if there’s nothing else, I’ll go and find the person first.” Before Yan Ming could speak, he turned and left.
Yan Ming raised his eyebrows: “Fuck, he’s still so uncivil—fuck me.”
Three years ago, he had some strange interest in Xiao Li that had nothing to do with sex. But rather, it was kind of long-term indulgence that only undisciplined and out of control people possessed: an impudent and malicious curiosity. It was buried away because it was temporarily unrealized, but once it took rooted, it will inevitably sprout.
Three years later, Yan Ming felt that there was a kind of restlessness in his heart—that malicious intent had begun to stir. He licked his lips and looked at Xiao Li’s back, his face showing a desire. However, thinking of how the obvious increase of strength in Xiao Li’s hand and the scar on his face, Yan Ming frowned and lost interest again.
Xiao Li looked out of the car window and saw the boy that he was looking for. To his surprise, he also saw his younger brother Xiao Yang.
He was at the entrance of Xiao Yang’s school. Two brand new bustling buses were parked on the side of the road with banners hanging from it that said, “Congratulations to Middle School no. 17 contestants for achieving good results in the provincial physics competition.”
It was obvious that the time to assemble had not yet arrived and the buses were empty. Five or six teenage athletic contestants were standing by the buses with their faces brimming with smiles, surrounded by their parents who came to see them off, luggage, and a large pile of food.
Except for Xiao Yang and that boy.
Xiao Yang was two years younger than the boy, but he was as tall as him. He raised his head and proudly glanced at those chattering schoolmates. Then he took out his phone from his pocket, put on earphones and started to play something on it.
The boy was standing far off to the side, leaning against a tree. He was wearing a school uniform with a bag of luggage at his feet and looking down at a book. A gust of wind blew over and messed up his bands. He looked up to fix it but made the soft hair messy.
Xiao Li stared at the boy—he recognized him.
No wonder, when he got the note, he felt that he had heard the name somewhere before.
No matter how unwilling he was to heed those neighborhood gossipers, he still knew about the rumors that filtered the area. Once he heard several people chatting, saying that there were two really pitiful children, both were studied extremely well: one was the younger brother of a gangster and the other was the son of a drug addict.
‘Xiao Yang and Han Jia’, those people had said, ‘have been held down by their loved ones.’
When Xiao Li woke up early to block people or when he came home very late at night from guarding the gang’s venues, there were times when he saw the boy called Han Jia waiting for the public bus at the roadside. Since it was always cold in the morning, Han Jia had always stood underneath the street lamp, rubbing his feet and flipping through his book.
Xiao Li frowned and gripped the steering wheel tightly.
He can drive the car over, open the door and ask for directions then pull him in and accelerate quickly in order to take him away.
Or there was no need to be so crude and instead tell him that his mother told him to come to pick him up. But might just take the initiative to get on the bus.
This was Yan Ming’s car. With the windows tinted black, it would be impossible for Xiao Yang to see him.
Xiao Li tightened his lips. He looked at Han Jia then at Xiao Yang again and finally took a look at the banner on the bus.
He turned his head and drove off into the distance.
“What do you mean? You couldn’t catch up?” Yan Ming was a bit flustered and exasperated, “You’re the one who called and told me you will go to Middle School no. 17 to find the person and that there will absolutely be no problems!”
“They have to go on a trip to participate in a competition in another province; the bus had already left.”
“Even if it drove away, you can still block it! Stop the bus and get on it to grab the person. If someone owes a debt, they have to pay it back, that is only right and unalterable. Even if they call the police, I can take responsibility. As long as the person falls into our hands, isn’t it enough?” Yan Ming handed the car key over to him again. “Hurry up and chase after the bus. I don’t have enough people right now since I sent them out already. Hurry!”
Xiao Li did not take the key: “I have other things to take care of.”
Yan Ming suddenly became angry: “What other fucking business can you have? Liu Zicheng gave you to me to use, don’t be shameless when I’m giving you face!”
Xiao Li frowned slightly: “Rong ge looked for me since something came up.”
Yan Ming sneered: “Jin Yarong must also keep his words. I will call him right now, let’s see how exactly he will explain it!”
When he took out his cell phone, Xiao Li clenched his teeth and watched as he dialed the number.
Just then, Xiao Li’s cell phone buzzed.
Looking at the caller ID, it was Ding Zi. Xiao Li quickly connected the call.
“Xiao Li, come over here immediately…” Ding Zi’s voice was low and turbid. Xiao Li was very familiar with this kind of voice—when people had blood in their mouths, they talked like this.
Xiao Li became nervous, “Where are you? What happened?”
Ding Zi gasped for air, “Before…the old factory, together with Rong ge before…someone betrayed Qing Long ge, we were … hiding there…the area filled with the mold casting machine…” He coughed a few times, “Liu Baoju is already dead… you are familiar with this place, hurry… don’t tell anyone else…don’t trust…”
His voice lowered and then disappeared completely.
Xiao Li yelled Ding Zi’s name a few times but did not get an answer.
He looked up to see that Yan Ming was already talking to Jin Yarong. “Rong ge ah, are you looking down on me…”
Xiao Li took the car key from his hand, turned around and ran out.
The sound of Yan Ming’s raging curses followed, he completely ignored it.
Yan Ming drove another car and angrily looked around the area for two rounds. But he did not find Xiao Li’s trace.
He slammed his hands on the steering wheel and cursed a bit and prepared to return to the venue, thinking that he will deal with this matter later.
When the car took a turn to the right at the crossroads nearby, he suddenly found himself near Middle School no. 17.
Yan Ming stared at the street sign and snorted. Fuck, everyone is unreliable. I’ll go get the person myself. He stepped on the gas and past another intersection. Didn’t he just go out for a competition? Once there, I’ll just ask someone clearly about the place they went and then contact the large traffic group in the nearby province. Isn’t blocking a bus a mere trifle?
With that in mind, he turned the steering wheel and entered the small and quiet street—Middle School no. 17 was up ahead.
Two tacky buses were parked at the curb of the school gate. Yan Ming stopped his car to the side, squinted his eyes and saw the clear banner hanging on the buses.
They didn’t fucking leave yet? Yan Ming stared at the two large buses and said to himself: “Shit! Fuck you, Xiao Li.”
He turned off the engine, opened the door and got out.
A person with the aura of a teacher stood at the door of the bus calling roll with a group of students squeezing around him. If their name was called, they received a red sign and then combed through their classmates, that were packed like sardines, to go and say goodbye to their parents. Afterward, they took their luggage and combed passed their classmates again before squeezing by that teacher-like person to get on the bus.
This is still a school ah, he is still a teacher ah, the arrangement is not reasonable at all. How much more chaotic can it get? No wonder they haven’t left yet when it’s already noon. Yan Ming thought with disdain as he stood behind a pile of students, looking at the back of their heads up and down.
It’s going to be difficult distinguishing which is the son base on that drug addict’s appearance. Yan Ming decided to wait until that kid’s name was called and then take him away.
But the noise created by the students and their parents was really noisy, and with the sun shining down so harshly, the anger in Yan Ming’s chest reached its peak.
He had no patience left.
“Han Jia!” He finally could not help but shout aloud.
A student who was closest to him turned his head, looked at him and replied” “Come.”
Yan Ming stared at him with only two words in his mind.
The boy did not hesitate to look at him and might have regarded him as the person calling the roll. In the bright light, his eyes appeared brown and were extremely—extremely clear.
Yan Ming stared at his eyes, speechless.
Han Jia tilted his head to the side, probably thinking that the person calling roll was being strangely ridiculous. He pursed his lips faintly and said again: “Here.”
Oh my, fuck.
When Yan Ming shifted his gaze to stare at his lips, he felt all the bones in his body softening. Oh my, fuck, he thought, the whore’s kid has a smile that can kill anyone.
“Han Jia!” The teacher standing at the door called out.
Han Jia turned around and shouted, “Here!” He turned back around again to look suspiciously at Yan Ming and then picked up the nearly empty bag at his foot before he passed through the crowds of students and squeezed into the bus.
Yan Ming stared at his frail figure getting on the bus and then stared some more as he sat down beside a window. Han Jia quickly realized the eyes on him and was obviously very suspicious and very much embarrassed. He stood up to change his seat and sat down in a place that Yan Ming could not see him.
Yan Ming stood beneath the scorching sun until both of the buses drove off. He was sweating with excitement and his fingers were jumping with eagerness.
The maliciousness that was buried in his heart before had finally broken out.
The smell of mold discharging agent remained in the dilapidated metal factory, and now, it was mixed with the smell of blood that would anyone feel sick.
“Qing Long ge, hold on.” Liu Zicheng whispered, “I called Fan Peng already. They’re coming.”
Li Shiqing pressed at the pit of his stomach and coughed. He knew that even if Fan Peng came, it would still be of no use. They were not familiar with the terrain and could not find this place; Jin Yarong’s people are the ones familiar with the terrain, but it was also possible that they were the people that betrayed him.
However, he did not say anything and simply nodded. “How many people outside want to come in?”
“More than twenty,” Liu Zicheng sighed faintly. “Qing Long ge, it was my fault. Jin Yarong…”
Jin Yarong was bribed by Ma Quezi already. Li Shiqing remembered that a few months ago, the brother that had followed him since the beginning had complained about something. He had said that recently, he had confidence in some newcomers, youngsters. At the time, he did not take it seriously. Who could have expected that this turned out to be a sign of treachery?
Liu Zicheng continued to say: “When I borrowed his people from him, I told him all about the plan. He had also said that he will recommend the three most capable young men that he has. Who could have anticipated that he would rather let his own men throw away their lives?”
Of course, he would let his most capable young men die. Li Shiqing thought with disdain. He hates those young people because they threaten his status and old glory.
“Qing Long ge,” Liu Zicheng spoke again. Even in this situation which was equivalent to waiting for death, his voice was still very stable. “Jin Yarong had given me three people, but I only brought two.”
When Li Shiqing frowned, Liu Zicheng looked at him somewhat terrified. “You may have forgotten him, I just wanted to be cautious…”
Before he could finish speaking, a deafening crash sounded at the door of the factory.
As huge sound waves shook the roof of the factory, dust and small particular fell down while Li Shiqing and Liu Zicheng blocked their ears.
“They’ve started to smash the door.” Liu Zicheng said.
Li Shiqing shook his head and said with difficulty: “No, something has struck the ground.”
Just as he finished those words, another huge crash sounded.
Liu Zicheng supported Li Shiqing before they took a few steps back to the deeper part of the factory and hid behind a huge mold casting machine.
The door of this factory was very thick, and the effect of the soundproof layer was obviously good. But even through such a thick door, the two can still vaguely hear the commotion outside.
Some people are yelling—some with anger, some with horror, and some were just blood-curdling screeches.
Liu Zicheng and Li Shiqing looked at each other and both saw joy in the other’s eyes.
“It’s Fan Peng.” When Liu Zicheng took a deep breath, he could not care to maintain his normally smooth tone. He said excitedly, “Fan Peng is here!”
The two did not dare to act rashly as they waited anxiously behind the machine.
As the commotion outside slowly calmed down, the noises also disappeared. Then someone banged on the huge door and shouted: “Ding Zi? Liu Baoju?”
Liu Zicheng was stunned, and then he heard Fan Peng’s familiar voice: “Zicheng?”
He breathed a sigh of relief and helped Li Shiqing to the door before he pushed the heavy bolt.
With a clang, the bolt fell—the people outside cheered and pushed the door open slowly.
“Ding Zi? Liu Baoju?” A strong and vigorous figure rushed in first and looked around. When he saw him, he showed a reassuring expression and called out, “Cheng ge.”
Liu Zicheng did not have time to answer. That person’s eyes had already fallen on Li Shiqing who was to his side, and his expression changed immediately.
From indifference to even more indifference, almost all of his expressions had been sealed off.
Then Liu Zicheng heard Qing Long ge said quietly: “Xiao Li.”
Without hesitation, without any doubt, the hunter had never forgotten the escaped prey. He had always remembered his name.
The midday sunlight spilled inside from outside the door, but Liu Zicheng felt that Xiao Li’s expression was suddenly attacked by the cold wind.
After Li Shiqing’s narrowly escaped death, victory followed as he continued to pursue his retreating enemies. For a period of time, his power was second to none and the way he was addressed also changed from “Qing Long ge” to “Qing Ye”.
With Ma Quezi’s counterattack bearing no fruit, his power weakened and almost only the northern part of the city remained. He and Jin Yarong joined forces, wanting to gain a foothold in the North District which ultimately began a difficult game with Li Shiqing and Luo Dong.
Liu Zicheng and Fan Peng became more prominent in the gang, especially Liu Zicheng who basically became the equivalent of a gang leader in the Southern District. He and Yan Ming both expressed to Qing Ye that they wanted to recruit Xiao Li to be their subordinate. Amidst his admiration for Xiao Li, there was also misgivings, and as for Yan Ming, it was extreme anger toward Xiao Li, but both saw the value of using Xiao Li.
Xiao Li naturally chose Liu Zicheng and for a very long period of time, he remained working in the Southern District. Later, Yan Ming invited everyone to go to his new venue to drink—at that time, Xiao Li saw Han Jia once more.
But Han Jia was no longer how he had remembered him.
At the beginning of the story, they were not what they looked like.
Goodness gracious, even Yan Ming cannot deny the smile and beauty that is Han Jia!! My poor baby, his mother ruined him (T_T) But for reals, everyone wants Xiao Li, he’s just too good!…Hmmmm and basically Xiao Yang and Han Jia went to school together, the same school Jiang Xiaoning goes to (but he goes later). I’m sure the teacher that called roll was Jiang Xiaoning’s father. The author is so good with connections huhu the next chapter will go back to the present and we get to see Xiao Li and Qi Xiu Yuan one last time before the interview!
 Dāobā – scar from a knife wound, so something like ‘scarred face Xiao’
 Gold – (金牙荣) Jin Yarong’s name can literally be translated to ‘the glorious golden tooth’
Xiao di – little brother; subordinate (in a gang)
 Face – 丢脸 refer to losing face or to be humiliated
 Pull a long face – to look sad, glum, disapproving, etc
 Shao (young master) – derived from the word shaoye; a form of address used by servants of the house or of ‘lower status’
 欠操 – ‘fuck me’ (vulgar, slang) an expression of surprise or exasperation; can be translated to ‘needs to be fucked’
 Āiyōu – (interjection of surprise, pain, annoyance etc) / Oh my! / Uh-oh! / Ah! / Ouch!