Title: There is only a thousand years of hatred, not a hundred years of closeness
While Jiang Xiaoning was preparing for this extremely small birthday celebration, Han Jia was also preparing.
He had canceled all other plans. That day the gang was supposed to entertain some government officials’ friends in Jin Ting, but Han Jia called Xiao Li and asked for them to move elsewhere.
He did not tell the truth to Xiao Li; he had only said that he wanted to rest at home at night and Xiao Li did not ask any further either.
Regarding what birthday gift to give Jiang Xiaoning, he was quite indecisive. He first bought a PSP but was worried that it would interfere with his studies; then he went to a bookstore that he hadn’t gone to in quite a long time and bought all the so-called high-quality educational assistants recommended by the staff… although he did not know if that kind of gift was too boring; he had also bought some extremely expensive clothes and shoes but felt that he should not give such an extravagant gift to a student…
On the day of Jiang Xiaoning’s birthday, he finally decided what to give to the teen. Before he had time to prepare, Zhang Xueming brought bad news.
Because Zhou Guoshu had asked a favor of him, he did not take action against Zhang Xueming. Zhang Xueming, himself, also appeared to have a very guilty conscience, worriedly following behind him every day, often burying his head quite deeply.
After noontime that day, Han Jia had just walked out of Jin Ting when he saw Zhang Xueming’s somewhat pale face as he stood at the public square; he walked over the moment he saw him.
“Han… Han Laoban,” he whispered. “Man Li committed suicide.”
Han Jia was not mentally prepared, and froze on the spot for a while staring at Zhang Xueming for a long time before he thought to ask: “What happened?”
“I received a call from her in the morning…” Zhang Xueming wiped the cold sweat on his forehead. “Man Li was crying very badly and said that she called someone she knew from night to morning, but no one was willing to help her. As she spoke and spoke, the call disconnected and when I called again, no one answered… the more I thought about it, the fishy it was, so I drove over to see her. Before I arrived, I saw a circle of people in front of the building. She…”
Han Jia frowned, “She didn’t call me.”
When he took out his phone to confirm it again, he suddenly felt cold all over, and said slowly once more: “She didn’t call me…”
Zhang Xueming looked at him, unaware of what he was thinking. After a while, he said: “Han Laoban, I know that Man Li is no longer a part of Jin Ting. This matter… this matter does not concern Jin Ting either, but she is after all——”
“Who said that this doesn’t concern Jin Ting?” Han Jia interrupted him as he looked up at the tall and luxurious building in front of him and whispered, “When she came to Jin Ting three years ago, the public square wasn’t even built yet…” He muttered to himself for a moment then gave Zhang Xueming another glance, “Do you know where she lives?”
“I…” Zhang Xueming seemed a bit awkward. “I sometimes go to her… I actually… I… it hasn’t been easy for her…”
Han Jia had no intention of listening to his explanation again and ordered: “Take me to see her again and help her with her future arrangements.”
After thinking of something, he lowered his head and muttered to himself for a moment. Although Zhang Xueming could not be trusted, seeing his deep friendship with Man Li, allowing him to handle this matter could perhaps guarantee safety. “I still have something to do. Take Xiao Qi with you and have Xiao Qi directly draw money from Jin Ting’s account.” After a pause, he added, “She has a child, have you met him?”
Zhang Xueming just stared at him, Han Jia frowned and repeated it again.
“Yes, a little girl about five or six years old.” Zhang Xueming thought some more and added, “She’s quite pretty.”
“This child doesn’t seem to be in good health. You can inquire and deal with this matter,” Han Jia explained. “Go find Xiao Qi now.”
Zhang Xueming agreed and quickly walked away.
Han Jia watched him leave, and though he had obviously checked his phone already, he still looked again. After standing for a while, he sorted out his emotions and left Jin Ting.
He flagged down a taxi and let it drive until it stopped at the outskirts of the city.
Before he officially came to Jin Ting, he had lived here. At that time, it was not a ruin that had not been developed after the demolition, but a single-story house. He had used the first money he collected from Jin Ting to purchase one of those properties.
He used his memory to move through the bricks and gravel, stepped through the building materials, stepped through the already dried cat corpse, and saw a familiar building behind a dilapidated wall.
He stepped over the fallen wall and walked straight to the middle of the desolate courtyard.
There, the stump of an enormous Firmiana parasol tree remained; Han Jia gently touched the surface of the annual rings and sat there for a while.
To the west of the tree stump were three houses. Han Jia faced the door of the southernmost house, measured a distance of about one meter from the tree and squatted down.
He looked at his well-maintained hands and clean nails, smiled, and picked up the iron bar next to him and began to dig.
He dug about a foot deep until the iron bar struck something.
Han Jia threw aside the iron bar, brushed the soil with his hands and then held up a cloth bag.
He opened the cloth bag, opened two more layers of plastic cloth, then a layer of newspaper, then another layer of plastic, and finally in front of him were five thick notebooks.
He turned it over; the paper had already become brittle. That was his physics notes from when he was in high school, not just the topic and the problem-solving process, but also his ideas, his reflection, and sometimes it acted as a diary, recording some of his messy thoughts.
Before he entered Jin Ting he had buried them here and buried together was the part of his heart that was full of light and warmth.
He still didn’t know whether or not he should give them to Jiang Xiaoning. He had always thought that it was weird to give out such personal things. But after so many years, Jiang Xiaoning was the first person to make him want to look at these notes once more.
He slowly looked at them for a while, and then wrapped them all again; though he hesitated for a long time, he did not bury them back.
He held them and imagined, if he actually had the courage to give them to Jiang Xiaoning, how would the teen react? He smiled lightly when he thought about it, stood up and stared at the door to the house, feeling that he had the courage to push the door open for another look.
He really did. He pushed the door in and lingered in the smell of dust for ages before slowly coming out.
At this time, it was already dark, Han Jia took the cloth bag out of the ruins and walked on the bumpy road for a while, until the relatively flat city road came to sight.
It was difficult to flag a taxi here. He walked while searching for the figure of one, then thought about it and dialed Zhang Xueming’s phone.
“How is Ma Li’s situation?”
“I’m still here and so is Xiao Qi, don’t worry Han Laoban.” The sound in the background was a bit noisy, “I’ve also dealt with the child’s situation.”
“That’s good. I’m in the suburbs now, come to pick me up.” Han Jia finished and at first wanted to hang up but was somehow still not at ease, “How did you deal with it?”
Zhang Xueming seemed to hesitate and slowly answered: “I was in contact with Mr. Liu for a while, and he said he was willing to adopt her.”
Han Jia was surprised, and asked sternly, “Which Mr. Liu?”
Zhang Xueming’s voice lowered even more: “The Mr. Liu who often comes to Jin Ting…”
Han Jia’s brow furrowed tightly: “The one who is close to you in the medical equipment business?”
Zhang Xueming said: “Yes, him. He is very kind——”
“He’s not normal!!” Han Jia exploded with anger, “He’s been especially looking for underage girls or ones that looked underaged, don’t you know? Or you…” He took a few deep breaths before calming down, “How much did you sell that child for?”
“Han Laoban, I…”
“How much?!” Han Jia’s voice suddenly increased.
“Thirty… thirty thousand… Han Laoban, I’m not embezzling. This is also Jin Ting’s money——”
“Return it!” Han Jia said forcefully, “Bring the child back!”
Zhang Xueming, “Han Laoban, I’ve already come to an agreement with him and besides, the child didn’t say that she didn’t want to——”
“What does she know?” Han Jia interrupted him, his voice becoming cold. “Zhang Xueming, keep on trying to waste time with me, I don’t care whose path you try to take, if I can’t get rid of you and give you nowhere to hide in this city, my surname is not Han.”
Zhang Xueming was silent for a while, and his voice was filled with fright once he spoke again. “Mr. Liu said that he was afraid of delays and wanted to take her away. The car seemed to have gone in the direction of the station… I, I have his phone…”
“Get the fuck over here!”
The number that he gave was turned off and could not be reached. Han Jia was furious and had to call back to Jin Ting. Some of the brothers in Jin Ting had gone to entertain the officials with Xiao Li. Han Jia sent out the few others who had seen Mr. Liu to find Man Li’s daughter at the three bus stations in the city.
Once he hung up, Han Jia noticed that his own hands were shaking.
Soon after, Zhang Xueming drove over. After stopping the car, he ran out and explained to Han Jia:
“Han Laoban, I…”
He didn’t have a chance to finish this sentence. Han Jia had already punched him in the mouth until the corner started to bleed profusely and even his own fingers were cut against his teeth.
Without a care of checking his own fingers, he grabbed Zhang Xueming’s collar and said fiercely: “You dare lie to me?”
“I’m telling the truth. Really.” Zhang Xueming watched some people gather around and whispered, “Han Laoban, I didn’t think you would mind this. That Mr. Liu shut off his phone after the transaction was done. I, there’s no other way for me. Han Laoban, I’ll drive you to look for them. We still have time, I…”
Han Jia relaxed his hands angrily, and when Zhang Xueming fell to the ground, he spit on him.
He left Zhang Xueming there, got into the car and drove away.
It had been a long time since he had last driven, so he felt out of practice. He left Zhang Xueming in a hurry, and now that he was actually driving, the car staggered from side to side. Once he reached a bustling district, he got out of the car and hailed for a car to the bus station, even going as far as to the airport.
In a huge city and fast traffic conditions, Han Jia knew that he was fishing for a needle in the wide ocean.
Once midnight rolled in, he walked out of the airport exhaustedly and trembling – almost falling to the ground.
He messed up everything, and he thought to himself muddleheadedly that from the beginning, from the very beginning, he had always messed up everything.
He appeared smart and confident, but all the things that he did only had bad results.
Only then did he think of Jiang Xiaoning and remember that there was someone expecting him.
He wanted to give Jiang Xiaoning a call, only to recall that the phone was in the car Zhang Xueming drove.
He stopped a taxi and went all the way back to his residence, and as he stood downstairs and looked up, he could see that the lights were still on his place.
Being like this… always brings misfortune and shame to those around you. When did you have such a warmth?
Han Jia went upstairs, and when he opened the door his heart was beating frantically.
There were fine dishes on the table, and Jiang Xiaoning seemed to have been waiting for him to open the door. As soon as he appeared, Jiang Xiaoning picked up a plate and threw it over.
Han Jia dodged – dodged the plate, and the plate smashed on the door.
Jiang Xiaoning’s eyes were red; he continued to pick up another plate and throw it at him.
Han Jia dodged for a while, then stopped and let the plate hit his abdomen.
He groaned painfully and squatted down, holding his stomach.
Jiang Xiaoning stopped, and soon he heard his footsteps before he crouched in front of Han Jia.
“Why didn’t you keep your words?!” He asked angrily, “You said that I was more important than anything else!”
“I know, it’s my fault.” Han Jia softly apologized, “I’m sorry, I’m late.”
Jiang Xiaoning glared at him, feeling that he had been wronged and angry.
Han Jia reached out his hand and gently caressed his hair while speaking in the lowest tone: “You are more important than anything else. I shouldn’t have made you wait. I shouldn’t have made you worry.” He stopped and said softly, “Xiaoning, forgive me, okay?”
When he voiced, “Xiaoning”, his tone and his expression seemed to have a strange effect on Jiang Xiaoning. He hesitated to curb his angry expression and remained silent for a while, then said depressingly: “The food is cold.”
Han Jia laughed and whispered: “We still have a lot of time to cook, and I will help you with it?”
Jiang Xiaoning stared at him, “Stay with me the whole day.”
“Okay,” Han Jia said.
And then he heard the sound of the phone going off.
It was the private residential phone.
Aside from him, only Xiao Li knew this number and Xiao Li also knew that he was at home at night.
Xiao Li practically never called this number.
He glanced at Jiang Xiaoning, whose eyes were widening and his expression on the verge of anger.
The phone was still ringing, Han Jia glanced at Jiang Xiaoning with regret, and walked toward the phone.
The caller ID displayed a strange number.
Han Jia hesitated, picked up the phone, and lowered his voice: “Who is this?”
“Han Laoban, Xiao Li and I are together.” The voice from the other side sounded familiar to him, “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.”
Han Jia turned pale with fright: “Who are you?”
“Someone that Xiao Li had helped.” That person sighed and continued to say, “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.”
The call disconnected.
Han Jia turned his head to look at Jiang Xiaoning. Jiang Xiaoning stood in the same spot and looked at him with a disappointed expression.
Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
Refer to Lawless: Chapter 16 as it relates to this whole chapter of Shameless (note that they are both chapter 16); the person that called Han Jia at the end is Qi Xiuyuan.