Title: Seemingly far away, but actually close at hand
Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
Zhang Xueming walked through the door first, and after he switched on the light Han Jia only took a step into the living room and stopped at the door, a bit baffled.
Zhang Xueming looked at him and smiled softly, “What’s wrong, Han Laoban?”
Han Jia glanced at him, walked a few steps to the side, went to the kitchen door for a look, walked around the balcony, and then turned and walked into the study room.
He turned on the lights in each room, he looked into each room, and then he went back to the living room, stood at the door, and said: “I thought the house was expropriated.”
“It’s still in your name.” Zhang Xueming had already sat down beside the dining table and was pouring water into a glass. Hearing the footsteps of his return, he didn’t raise his head. “The door to the study room and the bathroom lights have changed. Everything else is the same.”
Han Jia didn’t speak as he folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the wall to look at him.
Zhang Xueming also looked up at him and their eyes met by accident, just like they did sometimes five years ago, cautious and provocative as if they were competing in a silent contest and the winner would have control of the scene.
The first to shift his gaze away was Zhang Xueming. He hung down his eyes, put down the kettle, pushed a glass of water to the other side, and then looked up again at Han Jia.
“Han Laoban, why aren’t you asking? You’re normally very good at preemptive attacks yet now you’re not asking anything?”
Han Jia laughed and looked at him: “Aren’t you the one who insists on reminiscing with me?”
Zhang Xueming also laughed: “If you don’t have any questions to ask me, why did you follow along?”
“You know why I followed.” Han Jia looked into his eyes and spoke with a very clear voice, “Why do you need to be asked again?”
“Maybe I want to hear you ask again, maybe I like the feeling of having the upper hand in front of you, maybe…” Zhang Xueming stared at him and slowly stood up, “Maybe I don’t want to answer your question at all, but want to listen to you ask something else instead.”
His eyes and voice were calm, but Han Jia could always feel the strong emotions hidden behind the calmness; and he frowned slightly.
Zhang Xueming looked at the space between his brows and smiled. He took a step toward him; his tone and expression had changed subtly, “Han Laoban, you are still so ruthless. Are you really not interested at all? Why should I keep this place? Why did I leave it as it is? And, how was the door to the study room… broken?”
He walked slowly, his smooth as silk tone gradually lowered until he revealed a dangerous tone. As he spoke, he kept his eyes solely on Han Jia and the light in the living room cast a shadow over his face – that pair of eyes appeared dark and cold with the oppressive force of a prey.
Even Han Jia, who five years ago had the mentality of ‘nothing is forbidden’, would have perhaps felt a bit alarmed facing such eyes.
He had already stopped in front of Han Jia and made a movement as if to press down on Han Jia with no intention of stopping at all.
Han Jia suddenly smiled, stretched out his right hand toward his chest, and gently pushed him.
That was not an act of refusal; that smile along with a bit of softness, grace, and even a bit of research-based sincerity, it looked like a tease.
Zhang Xueming stopped, not only that, but he also took a step back from the gentle force of that hand.
Han Jia smiled and slid his right hand behind Zhang Xueming’s neck, rubbing his thumb gently at the base of his ear.
Zhang Xueming’s eyes slowly warmed up.
With a bit of strength, Han Jia lifted Zhang Xueming’s head slightly, which made his face become illuminated by the lights.
Han Jia looked at him for a while before the smile on his face gradually disappeared – between the two people who were looking at each other now, he was the one with unpredictable eyes.
“If you didn’t mention it, I wouldn’t have remembered it.” He spoke slowly and paused, and as if talking to himself, he whispered, “The study room.”
He loosened his hand, turned, and walked a few steps to the door of the study room.
The sturdy wooden office desk was placed in the corner while the student desk was positioned in the middle of the room where the lighting was the brightest. The surface of the desk was wide and tidy, and there was even a high school exercise book at the foot of the desk.
Han Jia looked at it for a while and felt a warm body approaching him from behind. Zhang Xueming whispered in his ear: “Han Laoban, do you remember it now? It was here that I pressed you on this desk…”
Han Jia didn’t have time to say anything when a hand tightened around his waist; Zhang Xueming had already lifted him off the floor with only one hand.
With a low shout, he stumbled forward and had to reach out to grab Zhang Xueming’s clothes to maintain balance. Zhang Xueming’s movements were not affected in the slightest as he “carried” him forward like a burlap bag. He went around the desk without any trouble, threw Han Jia on the desk inside the study room, and then pressed half his body down on the desk.
It was quite uncomfortable to lie on the desk like that. Han Jia gasped and turned his face to the side; the side of his face that rested on the desk was ice-cold, however, Zhang Xueming stooped down and kissed the other side – the breath on his skin was almost hot.
“If you have forgotten, I can help you remember.” Zhang Xueming’s lips came to Han Jia’s ears as he touched him distinctively and slowly said: “You initiated this. You seduced me… I was very careful with you back then. I never intended to…”
Han Jia moved, wanting to push off the desk in order to stand up but Zhang Xueming firmly pressed both his hands to the side. He gave up his efforts, and when he opened his mouth again, his voice was soft. “I don’t remember much. Zhang Xueming, I really don’t remember much… back then I… used drugs…”
Zhang Xueming had a moment of silence but then suddenly smiled and whispered: “Do you remember what happened after? Some lunatic came in with a kitchen knife… do you remember?”
Han Jia closed his eyes.
Zhang Xueming laughed again: “Jiang Xiaoning, you remember. As for me, you don’t… that day, if it weren’t for him, why would you have been so drugged? Why would you come to provoke me? In the end, you still only remember him!”
“Ugh!” Han Jia was about to speak, but Zhang Xueming bit his earlobe with such intensity that it seemed as though he wanted to bite through it. When he smelled the scent of blood and felt that the root of the ear was wet and hot, Zhang Xueming finally let go and bit downward, issuing a faint moan. “But I can’t forget, I… I just can’t forget about it… Han Laoban, we didn’t finish back then. We can make up for it now… okay…”
His bites caused pain. Han Jia shivered slightly, groaned, and laughed lowly.
“Zhang Xueming, do you want to rape me?” This sentence was not meant to blame nor to beg for mercy. Han Jia seemed to simply find this laughable; his voice was soft and relaxed with a hint of grievance interlaced. “Hey, Zhang Xueming, back then… how did I seduce you?”
Zhang Xueming froze and practically turned Han Jia over frantically; he gasped roughly as he looked at him before reaching out to rip his jacket off.
Han Jia lay on the desk without resistance and looked at him with a grin: “Didn’t you say you couldn’t forget? Why aren’t you talking?”
Zhang Xueming’s movements ceased.
Han Jia smiled, even more proud of himself. He reached out to touch Zhang Xueming’s chest and raised his upper body as if to kiss him, but he pushed him away again instead.
This push was even softer than the first one, yet Zhang Xueming still took a step back accordingly.
Han Jia sat up on the desk and with a coquettish glance as fine as silk, he whispered: “Tell me, how did I seduce you?”
He pushed Zhang Xueming again after saying that, and Zhang Xueming took another step back. Han Jia’s feet lithely landed on the floor, with his left hand still resting on Zhang Xueming’s chest and his right hand behind his back, opening the drawer of the student desk.
“You really haven’t changed,” Han Jia quietly exclaimed, holding a utility knife when his right hand reemerged.
Zhang Xueming stared at the knife, narrowed his eyes but still didn’t move.
Han Jia started to laugh: “What are you nervous about? Don’t you… like this kind of excitement?” With a slight click, the blade of the utility knife came out. Han Jia put the knife on his lips, stared straight into Zhang Xueming’s eyes, and licked the blade with the tip of his tongue.
The action was deliberate, slow, and overflowed with a sexual tease.
Zhang Xueming tightly pursed his lips and said in spitting anger: “I—”
Han Jia pushed him again but with some strength this time; Zhang Xueming took two steps back and hit the wall behind him.
“You what?” Han Jia slowly approached him, still keeping his voice relatively low as he intentionally dragged out his tone as he teasingly drew near him.
Zhang Xueming slightly lowered eyes looked at him; he was short of breath and speechless.
Han Jia rested the palm of his left hand on the wall close to him while the utility knife in his right hand stopped on the first button of Zhang Xueming’s shirt.
“Zhang Xueming, Zhang Xueming.” Han Jia raised his eyes to stare at him with the curvature of his lips holding a charming smile. “You have me call you ‘Zhang Xueming’, and insist on calling me ‘Han Laoban’… you brought me here to this place that’s exactly the same as five years ago… isn’t it because you just want me to do this to you?”
“No,” Zhang Xueming quickly replied.
“Liar.” Han Jia used some strength to cut off the button on Zhang Xueming’s shirt with the utility knife; it fell on the floor with a slight sound.
The tip of the knife slowly slid over his skin before Han Jia pressed the knife against the second button.
“Why do you need to be so dishonest?” Han Jia said with a hint of laughter and lifted his wrist, making this button also bounce on the floor. “When could any matter that has to do with desires be able to escape from my eyes? … if Jin Ting was still here, you’d probably take me there, right?”
While Zhang Xueming was breathing heavily, the third and fourth buttons also landed on the floor.
Zhang Xueming’s shirt was completely wide open. Han Jia stopped the knife on his belt, seemingly impatient. The tip of the knife slowly slid across the belt and continued downward, stopping at the spot that had risen hard.
It instantly swelled up even more.
“You seemed to be like this before…” Han Jia was still staring at Zhang Xueming’s eyes while his hands moved the tip of the knife back and forth on the fabric. His whisper was soft and slow, but it was much more successful than the blunt knife: “Isn’t this your sexual fantasy? To be humiliated by me and then take revenge?”
Zhang Xueming’s eyes practically lost focus as he breathed chaotically. Han Jia smiled, dragged the edge of the knife with his right hand, and stretched his left hand in between his legs.
“Which part do you prefer?” He blew his breath at Zhang Xueming’s neck and asked, “Me humiliating you? Or you fucking me?”
Zhang Xueming looked up and let out a moan that simply sounded like a sob, and the fabric under Han Jia’s control quickly got wet.
After Zhang Xueming gasped twice and returned to his senses, he looked down and saw Han Jia’s expression – cold and ruthless.
“You sure have good prospects, officer Xin.” He sneered and said word by word, “Haven’t you met anyone in the last five years who could both humiliate you and let you humiliate them?”
Zhang Xueming snorted, and just as he was about to move, Han Jia’s right hand exerted some strength. The knife that pressed against his crotch changed to a threatening nature with an intensity that was absolutely not of provocation.
“I know you are very capable.” Han Jia smiled, “But I don’t have such a skill anymore. If I’m not careful, I might hurt something by mistake.”
Zhang Xueming didn’t move.
There was a moment of silence in the room, and then Han Jia’s voice clearly sounded. “Saying that you don’t want to answer anything about Jiang Xiaoning is admittance to knowing his situation?”
When Zhang Xueming didn’t speak, Han Jia didn’t move the knife in his right hand, but instead, he used his left hand to firmly grasp ‘it’.
Zhang Xueming suddenly let out a muffled groan.
“Tell me.” Han Jia’s voice was still cold yet held imperceptible anxiety.
Zhang Xueming broke out in cold sweat from the pain. He closed his eyes for a moment then looked at Han Jia’s face and suddenly smiled – a slightly self-deprecating smile.
“Han Laoban, I really am a good-for-nothing.” His voice was still calm without a hint of embarrassment at all. “Is it really that hard to find someone who wants to be humiliated and to humiliate others?”
Han Jia frowned.
Seeing his frown, Zhang Xueming lowered his voice: “I’ve looked for many others. Men, women, using money, and tricks. I’ve tried them all.” He paused and added, “In these five years, Jiang Xiaoning isn’t the only one who remembers you.”
His tone was so natural that Han Jia thought he himself was hallucinating; it was as though he was not being confessed to but rather listening to something irrelevant.
“But I know people like you – once a whore, always a whore.” Zhang Xueming continued in an easy and natural manner, “‘Even if I must believe in a fool, I would not be moved by a whore’. I can do business with you, buy you, sell you, whatever. But the moment I am moved by you, I would be toyed to death by you… Han Laoban, it would have been very easy for me to look for you in these past five years if I wanted to, but now that I am moved by you, I can’t afford to play anymore.” He suddenly dipped his head as if he wanted to kiss Han Jia, but Han Jia moved his head back and avoided his touch. He looked at him with a wary gaze.
Zhang Xueming’s eyes slightly darkened: “I think that Jiang Xiaoning also thought the same, so he never went to find you. Then he suddenly went crazy and looked for any information about you everywhere. I didn’t seriously stop him and thought that even if he did find you, he’d only be met with a sharp rebuff…” He smiled again, “But you actually came back for him! That’s ridiculous! He even went and brought a woman with him and yet you actually came back for him!”
He was so excited that he rushed forward in spite of the knife at his most important spot. Han Jia was shocked but couldn’t just withdraw the knife, so he could only shout with a stern voice: “Calm down!”
Zhang Xueming glanced at him and leaned against the wall behind him. After a while, he calmed down and regained his calm appearance: “I really wanted to have a good talk with you, but it became like this… Han Laoban, what kind of result are you looking for by coming back for that kid? That kid is useless and refuses to accept odd jobs. The little money in his account can’t even afford a place, and… doesn’t his father hate you tremendously?”
This time, Han Jia didn’t speak.
“I’m different. I have all the money and all the means, moreover, I know what you need most.” Zhang Xueming smiled slightly and used the best coaxing tone that he had, “I can arrange for you to study abroad. Weren’t you very good at physics before?” Han Jia suddenly opened his eyes, which appeared to put Zhang Xueming in a good mood. “You can learn what you like, away from everything of the past, and have a brand new beginning. Wouldn’t you like that?”
Han Jia observed him for a long time before finally shaking slightly: “You really… do you really like me?”
Zhang Xueming’s smile became gentle and somewhat sentimental: “Put down the knife and let’s talk about it, okay?… of course I really like you… I’ve only ever been sincerely moved by two people. One was my first love, and the other one is you.” He smiled bitterly. “Han Laoban, I’m not afraid of you mocking me. A person like me also had a first love.”
Han Jia’s face went a little pale and even his eyes appeared darker – the emotions flashing in his eyes were also riddled with utter complexity. For a moment, Zhang Xueming actually felt that he was going to put away the knife.
But Han Jia didn’t move. He smiled. Although the smile was for some reason a little weak and didn’t have even half the elegance of when he was at his peak, there was still an unclear charm to it that practically shocked Zhang Xueming.
“I’m sorry. I can’t put down the knife. Officer Xin, I’m also not afraid of you mocking me. A person like me also has a first love,” Han Jia said calmly with such a smile. “My first love is Jiang Xiaoning.”