The Stranger's Homeward Journey Chapter 2

The Stranger's Homeward Journey Chapter 2

The lid of the blue and white porcelain cup softly closed, breaking the tranquility of the study. Mother Luo set her cup to one side and raised her head to watch the son standing in front of her. "Do you really want to move out?"

"Yes," Luo Shaoheng replied. The young man's back was perfectly straight. Even when just facing his mother, he still gave off a refined and courteous aura.

Mother Luo reclined on her chair, her noble aura increasing as she tapped her fingers against the armchair, running her nail along the groove of the wooden embellishments, before finally speaking. "Alright, you can go. I'll talk to your father about it."

Luo Shaoheng heard what she said and a look of pleasant surprise swept through his eyes. He almost felt the urge to run up to her and wrap his arms around her like a spoiled child would in a drama, saying, "Mama, you're really good." But, his strict tutoring and rigorous education made him instantly dispel this idea. Besides, even if he did such a thing, he knew all it would result in was his mother scolding and belittling him.

When he thought of this Luo Shaoheng felt a little abandoned, but this was quickly covered up by a joyous smile as realisation set in. He restrained his excitement and slightly nodded. "Thank you, Mother. I won’t trouble you anymore."

In the end, however, his temperament was still that of a youth. Although he had deliberately tried to restrain his excitement, his tone betrayed his joyous spirits. Mother Luo simply smiled and waved him away. "Look how happy you are. Go."

His pace increased the moment he left the study, his face clearly painted with his usual smiling expression. As he passed through the corridor, he broke out into a near-jog. He rushed down the stairs, ignoring the piercing eyes of the servants, and bolted into the backyard.

He had finally arrived in that open and spacious area. The reason he had gone into the study earlier was in hopes of receiving his mother's permission. As he was unable to continue suppressing his happiness, a free and happy "oh” sound left his lips. His entire body relaxed into the lawn and he let out another comfortable sigh.

"It really feels like a dream." Luo Shaoheng lifted his hand up to meet the sky, allowing the setting sun to filter through its cracks. The corners of his mouth were framed in a smile that was unable to be hidden.

Although he had brought up this long-standing problem before, it wasn't until today that his mother had actually made her position known and granted him her consent. Seeing his mother unexpectedly taking the initiative caused him to break out in a cold sweat. Even in his wildest dreams, he had never thought she would actually agree.

This filled his heart with a joyous feeling – one that began to expand indefinitely. It continued to expand until it was almost overflowing, breaking the chains that bound him and kept him caged.

After receiving his parent’s permission, Luo Shaoheng decided to attend a neighbouring university. He searched for nearby apartments before finally discovering one with two rooms – a studio and a bedroom – and an entrance hall. Although there was still time before school started, he planned to move in early, relying on his good reputation to shift the date forward. Mother Luo knew his thoughts and didn't obstruct him, only urging him to pay special attention to his safety.

Luo Shaoheng quickly moved in to set up his new house. Even though the house was fairly small, only containing one bedroom and a studio, what it lacked for in space, it won in comfort. The building itself was fairly new, and one had to cross a very long alleyway to get to it. This alley was often home to a band of stray cats who prowled around the vicinity. Occasionally when he passed by, he would stop to feed them.

This was how he met and subsequently rescued Chen Musheng. On the evening they mey, Luo Shaoheng had been walking back from the supermarket. In his hands were bags full of cat food and some ham sausage for those stray cats. When he entered the alleyway, he suddenly tripped over something lying to one side. He staggered forward before managing to come to a stop in front of a dark shadow. He used his phone's flashlight to illuminate the area, discovering the figure who caused him to trip tightly curled in one corner.

Unconvinced that someone was actually lying there this late at night, he slowly approached the other party. "Hey, are you okay?" he asked.

The other man did not reply. Luo Shaoheng bent over and patted him urgently. "Did you have too much to drink? Where's your family? I'll contact them for you…… " Before he had even finished speaking, the other man suddenly reached out and grabbed his hand. Borrowing the light of his phone, he caught sight of the other man's deadly red eyes. This chill of hi=is fierce and malicious glare was practically tangible in the air.

Luo Shaoheng jumped in fright, startled by such a gaze. His reacted on instinict, shaking off his hand and stepped away. As he did, the man's hang hit the wall and fell to the side, powerless.

The hand that had been grabbed was coated in a sticky feeling. He gently stroked his finger uneasily. When he looked down to find the source of the feeling, Luo Shaoheng was instantly dumbfounded.

His hand was covered in the very same blood he now realised coated the other man's hands.

With a start, he realised that the man was injured. He acted quickly, hurriedly crouching down in front of the man and examining the area around his injury. However, the other man was wearing a black shirt making it hard to distinguish him from the shadows that cradled him. Luo Shaoheng patted him once again and asked, "Are you okay? Should I take you to the hospital?"

Yet there was no response. Luo Shaoheng also stopped calling out to him. He instead decided to open his phone's keyboard and dial 120. However, before the call was made, his phone's light coincidentally shined on the man's abdomen. The light revealed the man's other hand tightly pressed against his abdomen, also painted in a bloody hue.

Luo Shaoheng's finger paused on the phone screen. He quickly moved the flashlight to the man's face, revealing the way half of his face was coated in crimson blood. Although he was unable to see his face clearly, he could still tell that his eyes were closed, framed by the ghastly paleness of his face.

"……Meow." A stray cat, unaware of the situation, approached Luo Shaoheng and started to rub its head against him.

Luo Shaoheng quickly glanced down at it, but he didn't pamper it. He knew he didn't have time for such unnecessary thoughts. He hurriedly reached out to shove the person. "Are you okay?" Seeing how the other side still wasn't responding, he straightforwardly took off his shirt and wrapped it around the man's forehead. He then grabbed the man and lifted him onto his back.

The section of the alleyway he was in was directly outside the school's back gate. As such, the road was quite narrow. Rather than waiting for the dozen 120 people to arrive, he knew it would faster to send him to the nearby hospital himself.

Even though the unconscious man was very heavy and tall, Luo Shaoheng gritted his teeth and continued to slowly walk out of the alleyway. He quickly found a taxi to drive them to the local hospital.

Although Luo Shaoheng had tended to the man's head wound, there was still a large, knife-like, gash on his abdomen. When they reached the hospital, the paramedics anxiously rushed the man into emergency care. Yet, when they came back out of the operating room, he was still in a coma. The told him that the next 48 hours would be the most dangerous. As the other man didn't have a cell phone or any identification papers on his body, Luo Shaoheng couldn't get into contact with any of his family members. Knowing he couldn't leave him in the hospital alone, he had no choice but to stay with him.

After tending to the man for two days, he finally heard the man release a small, feeble noise. Luo Shaoheng was pleasantly surprised. "You're awake?".

He quickly discovered that the other man was merely muttering unhappily in his sleep and had not regained consciousness. His brows were screwed up tightly, while the ice on his forehead did nothing to stop the sweat. The only bright side was that, due to his fever, his complexion didn't look as bad as it did in the beginning.

Even though Luo Shaoheng had succeeded in bringing the man back from the brink of death, he didn't expect to see such a pure and joyous scene. Luo Shaoheng shot him a scornful gaze before grabbing some more paper towels to wipe away his sweat. However, just as he made contact with the man's face, the man fiercely and firmly lunged for his hand. Even in a coma, he managed to tightly and successfully grab his wrist.

"That's right. You can't be very well-behaved if you've received a wound like this." Remembering the man's frightening glare in the alleyway, Luo Shaoheng ridiculed himself before tearing open the paper towels and wiping away some more sweat.

While he was wiping it away, the other man unconsciously murmured a few words. As the sound was indistinct and hard to hear, Luo Shaoheng let his curiosity get the best of him and leaned closer.

"……Mother."

"……." Luo Shaoheng could hear it clearly this time and pinched his brows. "Son, be good, Dad is here. Although I do not know who you are, I only hope that you don't return kindness with enmity when you awake."

Luo Shaoheng had been resisting sleep for two days in order to care for the man. By the third day, however, he finally couldn't resist sleep's embrace any longer. He found himself lying down by the bedside and falling asleep. When he awoke it was to the sight of the man conscious. Catching the sound of him awaking, the man straightened his head and looked at him, two pairs of eyes meeting each other. With a hoarse voice, the other man quietly asked, "……Who are you?"

"Me?" Luo Shaoheng used a long finger to point to himself and smiled. "I'm Luo Shaoheng. Who are you?"

"……Chen Mucheng."

*****

"Chen Mucheng……"

Luo Shaoheng unconsciously muttered this name in his sleep. Suddenly, his head dropped to one side, and he slightly opened his eyes. His head turned, instinctively searching for the man.

Unfortunately, this place was not the hospital. Instead, it was merely a cemetery on the outskirts of town – one without the presence of the man he missed the most.

"So it was just a dream." He shook his head and laughed in spite of himself. "Indeed, he didn't return kindness with enmity. Instead, he offered up his body voluntarily." [1]

Luo Shaoheng straightened his back. Because he had been maintaining the same posture for a long time, his shoulders were somewhat stiff. As he loosened them, his gaze fell on Chen Mucheng's picture. His eyes curved in laughter and he said, "Even though it's still so easy to sleep around you, I have to go back."

As he said these words, he got up and eyed the grave for a while. "I will come see you soon," he said before turning around and decisively leaving.

And yet, although his steps held no hesitation, nobody could notice the reluctance he held deep in his heart.

Relying on his past experience, Luo Shaoheng quickly found his way to the gate. He called out to the security guard and smiled, handing over the prepared cigarette to him. As they continued to exchange greetings, his eyes fell on the top of the hill.

The security guard opened the case to smell it, before carefully putting it back into his pocket, cherishing it. As he did, his gaze moved to Luo Shaoheng who was now standing at the foot of the hill.

He still remembered the way, all those years ago, Luo Shaoheng asked if he could help him whenever he was on duty. It was as if he was entrusting all his hopes to this question – as if a light 'no' would utterly crush him and cause him to collapse.

Although he had been working as a security guard for a long time, his face couldn't help but show a sad expression whenever he thought of this.


[1]: In the raw, this can either mean ‘to marry’ or ‘to offer up your body’. I decided to leave this ambiguous.


TL Note: I’d be totally delighted if some of y’all comment some of your thoughts, feelings, opinions, validations… to do with this, too. ^^


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