Translated by: Dairytea & Phoenix
Love Late Vol. 2
What's going on with Shu Nian? Will Lee actually have the courage to face him? And is this truly the end of Lee and Ke Luo's relationship? We'll see in volume 2! D8
That very night, I had casually napped and then rushed to catch the last flight back to T City. I stayed up until daybreak, bracing myself to wake Cheng Yi Chen up.
Drowsy-eyed and in his disheveled night clothes, he opened the door for me and told me that, because Shu Nian fell ill, Ke Luo had left first thing in the morning once more, taking the earliest flight to S City.
I was at a loss for words. I bitterly laughed. I should have known. I run after him, and he circles around Shu Nian.
Sometimes I couldn’t help but think that maybe I lost because I was too strong.
I would always survive. My skin was thick. I suffer severely once, and I instantly make a comeback after a moment’s rest.
I never thought that a man’s perseverance and strength were anything bad, so I followed Lu Feng’s example. But now I had to admit that men can rely on weakness to win.
As soon as Shu Nian fell ill, the first thing Ke Luo did was drop everything and rush to his side. If I had fallen critically ill that day, who knew whether Ke Luo would abandon old grudges and turn around to take care of me.
Yet I’d worked hard all my life to take good care of my health. I was strong and fit. Apart from occasionally catching a coughing cold, I’d never even experienced a toothache.
Having come to this point, I was still hung up over Ke Luo. It was inevitable that I’d be ridiculed by others.
But it’s rare in one’s lifetime to be obsessed with one person. When truly coming upon it, who can let go?
I was too old to break free from it.
Even if I forced myself into his hands, Ke Luo was to me precisely how Shu Nian was to Ke Luo. No matter how clearly aware I was of it, I could never free myself from it.
As a result, my words turned out to be a prophecy that very day. I had abdominal pains. I had probably eaten something bad. I sat on the toilet and “couldn’t relieve myself.” The entire night, I was engaged in vomiting and released so much that I almost had a rectal prolapse.
I was tormented until the middle of the night. Worn out and lacking the strength to relieve myself—though there was nothing to release—with a breath still left in me, I struggled to climb into bed and collapsed from exhaustion.
Yet, in the end, soon after, I woke up in pain once more. I felt my stomach pain intensify. My heart cried out that this was far from good. If this continues, don’t tell me it’s impossible to ever be relieved of it.
I was in so much pain that I couldn’t stand straight. I knew I should call someone. I quit hesitating at once and dialed Ke Luo’s number.
This time he actually answered. Hearing the rustle from my end, he probably felt something was amiss and asked, “Uncle Lee? What’s wrong?”
Something stirred in me. I struggled to speak, “I don’t feel well. Will you come see me?”
Ke Luo paused. He seemed to be hesitating. “I’m sorry. I’m in S City. Shu Nian is ill, and I’m keeping him company.”
Although I was gritting my teeth in pain, I still didn’t forget to negotiate with him, “Doesn’t he have Xie Yan accompanying him?”
“I’m sorry,” he sincerely dismissed me, “Uncle Lee, you should hurry to the hospital.”
“…” I had asked for rejection. Embarrassed, I felt like I was blindly copying others and making myself look foolish—learning from Shu Nian to use some illness as a bargaining chip.
“Okay, then I’ll do so now.”
After hanging up, the sharp pain I had suppressed rendered me speechless. Cold sweat dripped from my forehead. At my wit’s end, like all sick people without assistance, I shivered with cold as I desperately struggled to call the emergency number.
To call an ambulance because of a bad stomach, even if the officer blamed me for making a fuss about nothing, it couldn’t be helped. I led a solitary life. If by any chance I died, no one would know of my stench-emitting corpse. I had to particularly cherish life.
It wasn’t until I was sent to the emergency room that I realized calling for an ambulance was the right thing to do. I had an acute appendicitis along with food poisoning. I would very likely have ascended to heaven in the apartment that evening had I not severed that troublesome appendix.
The thought of having vigorously lived my life and to have kicked the bucket from an appendix would have been a little too ridiculous.
After the operation, I lay on the hospital bed in a trance, seeming to be awake yet not awake. The anesthetic effect passed. I lightly coughed, and the area where I had been operated on ached dully.
The dusk light streamed through the window. Like an old man whose day was approaching the end, I sighed.
Sometimes I wished I was heterosexual. At this age, perhaps I would have automatically settled down with a family. Even without a wife, there would always be one or two illegitimate child, which wouldn’t be so bad compared to being all alone like this.
I passed the time not eating nor drinking, bored to death. I didn’t eat anything until I heard my stomach growled. One scoop after another I ate the bland, tasteless congee, and fell asleep soon after.
If it was Shu Nian, Ke Luo would probably have kept watch all day and night with his considerate words and gentle smiles. I tried every possible way to sleep. I had tried to set myself in Shu Nian’s place, deluding myself into thinking I was loved by Ke Luo, yet I couldn’t entirely imagine so.
Even fantasizing was a failure, so I was only able to listlessly sleep away.
When I woke up from my slumber, I saw Lin Jing’s dozing face.
To my surprise, someone had come see me. It was really unexpected. After being stunned for quite a while, I had some mixed feelings. “Hey!”
Startled, Lin Jing abruptly opened his eyes. “You scared me to death, like the sudden rise of the living dead.”
“You even brought such a tacky fruit basket!”
“It’s good enough to have something to eat. You’re so picky!”
I lashed out, “I just had my appendix cut. How can I eat a peach now?!”
“Alright, there’s the soup Uncle Chen cooked for you. You can always have that.”
Cheng Yi Chen’s homemade food was pretty good. I held the bowl and sipped the soup. “How did you know I was hospitalized?”
“Ke Luo told me.”
“Huh?” I almost spilled the bowl of soup on my face. “He came?”
“Yeah, it was him who bought the bouquet of flowers. It’s tackier than my fruit basket, right? You kept sleeping, and he couldn’t wait for you to wake up any longer, so he asked me to help look after you.”
As if struck by lightning, I hastily asked, “Where’s he now?”
“He hurried to S City again.” Lin Jing openly ate the apple he had brought for me. He sighed and said, “That frequent flyer. But don’t worry, I’ll take care of you. Ke Luo gave me two limited edition games. And seeing as I’ve been entrusted by someone, I have to let Uncle Chen raise you nice and plump…”
“Hey, what’s with that expression of yours?” Lin Jing stared at me. “Is that a smile? …oy, you didn’t damage your nerves when they cut your appendix, did you?”
For a short while, I couldn’t clearly say what I was feeling. When I didn’t carry any hope, I’d suddenly see a tiny faint ray of light.
“You stinking brat, you actually accepted a bribe to take care of me? Was your conscience eaten by a dog?”
“Eh? I’ve wanted them for so long.” Lin Jing grinned. “Since he agreed to give them, if I didn’t accept them, it would have been a waste. Don’t be like this, Lee. Getting angry will burst open your wound…”
Eventually I couldn’t stand it any longer. I called Ke Luo.
“Hello, Uncle Lee?” His tone was no longer harsh. Just hearing his voice made my back weak. “Is your health better?”
“It’s fine. Thanks a lot for the flowers.”
“It’s a matter of course.” The noise from the background faded. He seemed to have gone to a quieter area. “You have to rest well. Don’t randomly eat things.”
I was just about to say more when I heard him say, “Uncle Lee, I have something to attend to. I’ll give you a call another time.”
For the next couple of days, I would be so tense whenever the phone rang. I’d have a strong hunch that it would be Ke Luo, yet the callers would just end up as Lin Jing, a few of my drinking buddies, and automated telemarketers.
Over time, I realized that there was no need to hold out hope. The bouquet Ke Luo had sent and the words he’d said, even though he was courteous and considerate, they were full of gentleness that was particularly for the sick. But now I finally realized it was only perfunctory. I’d often act the same way to others.
There was no news of Shu Nian as well.
Of course, I wasn’t waiting for news of him. I knew he wouldn’t have any memories of me.
It’s just that the only remaining relative I had in this world had completely forgotten about me.
I went back to working at the company again.
Now that Ke Luo was absent-minded and Lu Feng was wound up in family matters, the company was in need of manpower. Regardless of whether Lu Feng was actually informed of me being a traitor or not, since he didn’t pursue the matter, I just seized the opening. I always adapted to the circumstance.
I struggled to earn a paycheck even though I felt my spirit repeatedly dampened. Not having a retirement place yet wasn’t entirely bad for now. It’s better than eating oneself out of house and home.
Maybe I’ll spend the rest of my life working for the pair of father and son.
Since there were too many things that needed Ke Luo’s signature, I met with him again.
His affairs and love wounds were none of my business. But, no matter how unrelated the brat’s life or death was, I couldn’t allow the company to go bankrupt. Otherwise who would I look to for my paycheck? And what would I eat for my next meal?
Upon seeing his appearance, I was truly startled. In ten days time, he became pale and haggard: his eyes weary and his skin lacked luster. I couldn’t help but rub my chin and think that if I had first met him like this, I probably wouldn’t have fallen for him.
“What’s the matter?” Unable to hold back, I still shot my mouth off and asked him.
Ke Luo had his head lowered as he scribbled his signature on large piles of paperwork. “Shu Nian’s ill.”
Once he started to speak, his voice came out hoarse. It had lost its sweet sound. I didn’t know whether I should rejoice. If the pretty boy’s frame of mind wilted, losing its appeal, wouldn’t I be liberated from him soon?
I sighed. “I know his health is bad, but don’t worry too much. Nothing is incurable.”
Ke Luo quickly flipped over documents, a bit of a hurry.
From my angle, I could see that his hair grew longer. His bangs nearly covered his eyes. I had a slight urge to reach out and help him brush them aside.
“Of course it’s curable. It’s not as if it’s a fatal illness. It’s only leukemia.”
He had said it so fast that I almost didn’t catch what he’d said.
When I reacted, an explosion went off in my ears and my mind went blank. Shock along with an inexplicable fear engulfed me.
For several seconds, I couldn’t utter a word. I could only hear the rustling of papers amidst the silence.
“Such a huge matter…why didn’t you tell me sooner?” My mouth was slightly dry.
“Why do I have to tell you? If I had told you, would you have cared? Even if I tell the whole world, what good would it do? I won’t have others look at him with pity. Don’t keep revolving around this topic when you see him. Telling him day and night how much longer he has left to live. When he’ll die, how he’ll die…”
The tip of the pen suddenly tore a large hole in the document. Ke Luo’s tolerance seemed to be at its limit. “He’s already endured enough. I don’t want anybody to look at him as if he’s on death’s bed…”
“We’re transferring him here into T City tomorrow. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll contact an overseas specialist,” he quickly finished, apparently unwilling to say any more on the topic.
“Ke Luo, don’t panic. There are a lot of these cases where there’s full recovery.”
“Yeah.” Ke Luo’s voice was low. His hands still kept going. “We’ve found a compatible bone marrow.”
“Isn’t that great?”
“But the donor backed out.”
I didn’t say another word. I could imagine that kind of immense despair to the extent of losing all hope. Encountering this sort of thing, the patient might as will die sooner.
“Bastard…” The young man gritted his teeth. The corners of his eyes were red. He resembled a small wounded beast.
I knew that he wasn’t cursing at me. He was suffering because he couldn’t even find a target to take it out on.
I could only console him, “There’s nothing you can do about it. After all, this kind of matter…”
The probability of a donor backing out was supposed to be high.
Even if the donor was a close friend, selflessness still has its limit. Never mind about donating bone marrow for nothing, with a slight conflict of interest, it’s hard to prevent him from turning against you, let alone if it’s a total stranger.
Once he reaches my age, he’ll understand how unrealistic counting on the grace of others is—how much it hurts.
“If nothing works, I’ll hunt down that person.”
I saw that he was on the verge of tears, not completely childlike. Those eyes looked increasingly like Lu Feng’s.
Even if the information was confidential, he’d drag the donor out from deep underground and force him to draw blood. It’s not impossible for someone from the Lu family to carry out this kind of thing.
“Don’t do anything rash. Shu Nian won’t accept it like that. Find some other way.”
Ke Luo’s eyes reddened. “It doesn’t concern you, so of course you’d say that with so much ease!”
I fell silent, then chuckled.
Ke Luo looked at me in disbelief and hoarsely said, “What are you laughing at?”
Of course I was at ease. I never discovered how to surpass my life’s greatest enemy. But now, in the end, he’ll disappear without me having to do anything.
I went to the hospital for a complete blood test.
Luckily, I was healthy. Thank goodness.
I didn’t want to do anything for Shu Nian. I loathed the man, envied him, and longed for him to die sooner.
So what if he’s my little brother. He had long forgotten me.
What of those few short childhood years? We basically had two separate lives. He was nothing to me, and I was nothing to him.
Finding a new compatible donor seemed to be very difficult. Later, Ke Luo appeared at the company. His swollen eyes really weren’t the slightest bit attractive. He seemed to have cried.
I knew that if I bravely stepped forward this time, he would see me in a new light. I’d be washing myself of my clinginess to life and the wretched image of a greedy, heartless man.
But I won’t make a fool of myself to gain his favor.
If I let Ke Luo find out that I could be a possible match, it’s not certain that he wouldn’t use me as a blood bag. Of course I won’t let him know.
Even a compassionate donor might also back out! What’s more, I was an ordinary man whose moral standards were even lower than the average person’s.
Ke Luo’s charms grew fainter with each passing day, leaving a soulless body.
Even if I ganged up with those people this time and tampered the company’s accounts, instead of exposing them, Ke Luo would likely not realize.
I recalled his usual calm composure and keen thoroughness. It really made me think that, as it turned out, death was just that potent of a thing.
I suddenly couldn’t help but bitterly think that if I died, I doubt he’d ever forget me.
Of course, why should I stoop so low? I won’t have such a young girl’s mentality.
It just that if it had occurred on me instead, who knew how many people would grieve.
There wasn’t a single person by my side.
I was lonely and empty by every means. Restless and unable to sleep, I called Lin Jing in the middle of the night, “If I disappear, would you miss me?”
Whatever the case, at least provide me some family-like comfort.
Lin Jing, as a result, coldly laughed, shattering the mood. “You?”
“If you want someone to drink with, I’ll be right there. Don’t even talk about life and death. There’s no point doing it.”
Even though there wasn’t the slightest bit of sentiment, he was right.
Moaning and groaning wasn’t our style. It’s too weak and hypocritical. Be a real man. Is there anything a couple drinks can’t fix?
That’s why I love Lin Jing. He’s clear-headed like me.
But what angered me was that I had called him here to drink it all away and ended up dragged by Lin Jing, before having two cans of beer, into a conversation about the man whose haunting me.
“Shu Nian is so pitiful. It isn’t that easy finding a compatible bone marrow. That volunteering asshole actually copped out, damn it! The guy’s lending a hand to death.”
“It’s not wrong to back out on a deal. You’re not afraid of having a large syringe shoved in you, draining your bone marrow dry?” I tried to scare him.
“Bullshit, that’s not it. You think I lack common knowledge like you?” Lin Jing actually wasn’t very stupid. “To be honest, if it was me, I’d definitely do it. I’m afraid of pain but, regardless of it, he’s someone I know. Even if I refuse, Ke Luo would grab me by the neck and force me to go.”
That last sentence was probably the one that rang out the truth.
“Then why don’t you go?”
“The probability of me matching is no different than that of being struck by lightning. What’s the point of taking an unrelated man to match up? It’ll only be a waste of their time, creating more bother.”
No matter how good the food and drinks were, the air would still inevitably become heavy.
“Ke Luo and the others are still trying to negotiate with the donor!”
Being mouthy, I pressed on, “Any effect?”
“That person seemed to have changed phone numbers. If they continue to plead, they would only be accused of harassment.”
Lin Jing crushed an empty beer can. “I hate these kinds of people. Since he doesn’t have the guts to donate, why pretend to be compassionate from the start? To give someone a little hope, making him wait so long, and then trample all over it. I think it’s really too despicable. He might as well not offer it at all!”
“Hey, looking at that blank expression of yours, do you understand, old man?
I laughed. How can I not understand the feeling?
It’s because I understood it all too well that I didn’t want to become some great philanthropist.
No one’s life is perfect. I still hadn’t the time to tend to my own, so why should I bother patching up someone else’s?
It’s a proven fact that not everyone’s life would be as incomplete as mine.
Today I came across Ke Luo at work. I found him suddenly back to his handsome self. His expression contained life once again, vivid and too beautiful to be absorbed all at once.
I stared dumbfounded almost to the point of drooling. It took me some time to regain my composure.
“Hey,” I boldly greeted him, “did something good happen?”
Ke Luo smiled. That moment’s expression really was too mesmerizing. There was tremendous joy on his face, spreading through his entire body. Even I, who had been on the decline for so long, thought that I might be infected by his cheerfulness.
“We found a new donor.”
“The high-resolution HLA typing matched.” Ke Luo smiled. He looked as happy as a man who had just come back from death’s door. “Things will go smoothly this time. The donor is very cooperative. The doctor said that they’re scheduling the surgery as soon as they can. If it’s successful, Xiao Nian will recover.”
“Oh…” I was a little bored, and yet he kept droning on. If it wasn’t because of my image, I might really have picked my nose to show my disinterest.
“I didn’t think we’d be so lucky! Xiao Nian had almost given up. As you know, finding someone who’s a match is already hard as it is, and we still have to worry about the them backing out. The waiting time is so unbearable. If we couldn’t find a match, I don’t know what I’d do…”
“Is that right.” I took a sip of my tea. Just as I was about to take a smoke, I thought for a moment and put it out.
“I really wish I could thank him in person. It’s a pity the donor’s information is confidential.”
Sincere regret appeared on his young face.
Pity it wasn’t for me.
I idly flipped through paperwork and covered a bored yawn with my hand.
“Shu Nian will get better this time…”
I wasn’t interested in that man’s affairs. I might as well let my mind drift off.
Ke Luo probably noticed that my mind had wandered away. “You won’t understand. When you really need it yourself, then you’ll know how great human kindness can be.”
“It’s not great. It’s foolish,” I scoffed. I heard enough of it.
Ke Luo took a glance at me and slightly frowned. He wanted to say something, but ended up keeping his mouth shut.
Comment: Though we only hear of Shu Nian from others, poor Shu Nian~ And there's still that strain between Lee and Ke Luo. On the other hand, the few playful banters between Lee and Lin Jing made me crack a smile in the middle of all the seriousness. What did you think of this chapter? What do you think will happen??? (And what's going on with Lu Feng? He was only really vaguely mentioned once in this chapter. O_o ) Oh, and, fyi, the next chapter seems to be particularly long, so it'll probably take me a long while to translate. X3