Translated by seal.
If three days ago, someone had predicted his future and told him, “Hehehe, Xihe-Jun, I’ll tell you secretly tell you, ‘kay? Three days later, you will go and solicit a whore,” Xihe-Jun would have definitely punched that person’s face and smashed all of his teeth.
But right now, he was left with no choice but to continue riding the back of this tiger1[骑虎难下 (qí hǔ nán xià) is an idiom that translates to “once you ride a tiger, it’s difficult to get off” meaning that it’s impossible to quit once something has started.].
In the end, he selected “chatting”, rapping his knuckle against this word. As he chose, his whole face had turned blue, his expression was filled with a repressed darkness.
Mo Xi was done choosing.
Gu Mang reached an arm out towards him.
“What do you want?”
“……You!” Mo Xi was infuriated, his sockets brimming with red, but he was too choked up to finish saying anything, “I——!”
Gu Mang did not say a word and just silently held out his hand, awaiting his payment. These days, he did not speak much, and if he could get away without speaking, then he wouldn’t open his mouth.
Yet the General Gu in Xihe-Jun’s memories used to have a lot to say. When he stood under the blazing heat of the sun at the drill grounds, he would face the soldiers and walk back and forth, his rhythmical strides proud and awe-inspiring. Lifting his head to shout out instructions, his skin glistened with sweat, like crystal beads rolling down a cheetah’s fur coat. He would always grin brightly, his smile revealing a little canine tooth, and his bright, black eyes were moist and lustrous.
Mo Xi gave him the most valuable currency in Chonghua, a gold cowrie2[贝 (bèi), or cowrie shells, were traditionally used as currency in Ancient China during the Shang Dynasty. This is why shells were seen as valuable, and is also the root of everyone’s favourite word, baobei (宝贝), which actually literally translates to “treasured shell” but is now known as a term of affection to refer to loved ones, or yknow, just “baby”.].
Without saying a word of thanks, Gu Mang stood up and walked to the edge of his shelf, retrieving a small jar. Very carefully, he put the cowrie inside, then returned the jar to a high spot on the shelf.
Mo Xi just watched him with indifference, as all sorts of emotions stirred within his heart – anger, hatred, resentment, everything you could think of. He gazed at the figure of Gu Mang’s back, and suddenly asked coldly: “How much money have you saved in that jar?”
How many people have you allowed to abuse you, humiliate you and trample on you?
How many people have you slept with?
Gu Mang remained silent. After placing the jar back, he once again sat down in front of Mo Xi. Under the dim lighting, it was difficult to make out Gu Mang’s face.
Mo Xi could not tell if his face showed any subtle changes in emotion that he failed to capture.
Gu Mang was too quiet. Quiet to the point it was even somewhat abnormal.
Did the past two years of humiliation wear the last of his pride down to nothing?
But Mo Xi has yet to demand repayment from him, and has yet to hear him admit to his wrongdoings…How could he just dissolve his flesh and drain his blood, leaving behind only an empty shell?
“You gave me a gold cowrie. It is too much.”
“……..Just keep the change.”
Gu Mang replied honestly: “I do not have enough to make change.”
As he said this, he reopened the scroll and once again handed it to Mo Xi: “So you can choose some more. You can choose from everything on here.”
Mo Xi: “………………………………..”
He stared at Gu Mang’s face, and on that face was not a single trace anguish from humiliation on it. He just quietly, peacefully, and rationally requested Mo Xi to reselect a few more things.
Mo Xi turned his head, gritting his silvery teeth so hard he almost crushed them. How strange, shouldn’t he have expected this a long time ago? In the past, he visited prostitutes, then later, he committed treason. Over and over again, he trampled all over the threshold of his patience. Words like “Don’t take sleeping together so seriously” had long since left Gu Mang’s mouth, and now in order to survive, he had sold his body. All that had changed was that he went from sleeping with others, to being slept with instead. What was so unexpected about this?
“I don’t want to choose.” Mo Xi grew increasingly fidgety, and struggled to hold himself back from releasing his frustrations.
Unable to endure any longer, he sprung to his feet, his complexion cold as frost.
“Forget it, I’m leaving.”
It seemed like Gu Mang had never encountered such a situation before, and his eyes finally flickered with a trace of bewilderment. He wanted to say something, but did not know what he should say.
Mo Xi had already turned around, but Gu Mang latched onto his sleeve.
Mo Xi was already teetering on the edge of sanity, his flames of fury splashing like dangerous sparks, on the verge of overflowing at any moment: “What exactly do you want?”
Yet again, Gu Mang did not answer. He returned to shelf, retrieved that small ceramic jar once more, taking out the gold cowrie, then silently returned it to Mo Xi’s hand.
“Then I will give this back to you.”
A deathly silence fell.
All of a sudden, Mo Xi gnashed his teeth, and with a whoosh, he snatched up the bamboo scroll and jabbed it between Gu Mang’s eyebrows: “How does it feel, to spend the last two years dragging out your life without purpose, doing such shameful and depraved deeds? Does it bring you comfort and delight? Is this sort of life where you get slapped by others just for a little change good enough for you?!!”
The molten lava of rage finally broke through its confines, and all of his suppressed fury bubbled forth.
Mo Xi gasped for breath, and though his pupils flashed a scarlet red, the rims of his eyes were moist: “To accompany even those kinds of men, are you still the Gu Mang from before? Look at you now, to think I used to be friends with someone like you, that I fought with others for your sake, that I actually once thought of you as my……my……”
He wasn’t able to continue speaking, his complexion as if he had inhaled a toxic gas that was eating away at his heart, his lips trembling with anger. The spiritually-lit candles in the room wavered from his intense emotions, its flames flickering on and off, casting a silhouette of the two of them facing each other.
Mo Xi reached out and grabbed Gu Mang’s collar. Gu Mang was unable to dodge him in time, the front of his robe loosening messily from the scuffle. The two of them were so close they could almost touch nose to nose, their eyes locked onto each others.
Mo Xi’s chest heaved violently as he stared at Gu Mang for a while. Suddenly, his gaze fell, sweeping over Gu Mang’s bare shoulders.
On it were traces of of black and blue, all of them signs of being whipped……
All Mo Xi felt was the sound of buzzing in his head, as if a fuse had tripped. The scarlet in his eyes not only glowed increasingly with his blazing fury, but also with emotions that he himself could not explain. It was such feelings that drove him to raise his hand and ruthlessly grip Gu Mang’s cheeks, pressing him against the cabinet abruptly, his other fist slamming against the side of Gu Mang’s face, pinning him down with his imposing figure.
The candle flames that had struggled to stay lit were no match for the ruthless explosion of spiritual energy flowing out from Mo Xi, and was suddenly put out.
In complete darkness, Mo Xi stared at the face that was right in front of him; his rough, calloused fingers viciously crushed over Gu Mang’s cheeks and lips, and his voice was low and hoarse, overflowing with anger.
He was filled with so much resentment that he didn’t even notice the peculiar colour of Gu Mang’s eyes, nor the astonishment that flashed past Gu Mang’s face.
“In order to live, to earn a little bit of money, you’re willing to do anything, isn’t that right?”
Gu Mang’s cheeks gradually flushed, seemingly from the discomfort of being gripped so tightly. In the end, he was unable to maintain his silence and began to struggle under Mo Xi’s hand.
But Mo Xi’s rationality had long since left him, and his eyes couldn’t even register Gu Mang’s suffering in the slightest. Surrounded in a darkness as black as death, the neighbouring rooms on both sides were full of the sounds of men panting and women moaning, a constant reminder3[无孔不入 (wú kǒng bù rù) is an idiom that roughly translates to “no holes left unfilled”, and in this context refers to being a constant, ever present reminder.] as to what kind of place this was, what things Gu Mang did here, and what kind of things they could also be doing here.
Mo Xi’s scalp tingled. He panicked slightly from the stimulating thoughts that flashed through his mind.
The woman next door seemed to be reaching her climax, her cries getting louder and more urgent, and the sounds of flesh colliding in the night was so vivid that it seemed to be plastered right next to his ears. Beneath him, Gu Mang struggled to breathe, his feeble attempts to break free were all in vain, and all of his actions were treated by Mo Xi as a shameless, lingering seduction.
Mo Xi’s eyes slowly darkened. Perhaps it was due to his anger, or perhaps it was something else, but the molten iron boiling within his eyes was hot enough to scald.
Mo Xi did not let go and just sneered coldly. Within that laugh, there was not even a little taste of pleasure, just the flavour of extreme disappointment and jealousy.
Swept along by his hatred, or perhaps there was something else, his voice was hoarse beyond even his own imagination, sputtering with the embers of his rage. He bent down and pressed close to Gu Mang’s ear: “Well then. You won’t let me go, right? Then what do you want me to choose? Do you want me to get in bed with you, and have me fuck you?”
Without a warning, he growled through clenched teeth: “Haven’t you already been fucked enough by me back then?!”
He was too impulsive.
After the words had left his mouth, he felt a sense of dread.
Mo Xi almost never said these kinds of things, and was a someone who would frown even when just hearing the dirty jokes that Yue Chenqing told. But at this moment, as if he was possessed, he blurted these words without thinking for even a second…….Words that were demonic, threatening and vicious.
That were hidden with a dormant animal instinct4[real talk I actually do not know what 兽性蛰伏 (shòu xìng zhé fú) means…because 兽性 means brutal or…animal instinct?? and 蛰伏 means hibernation???? ? ? ?? ].
That were full of despair.
Mo Xi cursed under his breath, then suddenly pounded his fist heavily against the cabinet. The small ceramic jar that Gu Mang used to save money wobbled a few times, then with a crash, it fell to the ground and smashed to smithereens.
He turned his head subconsciously, scraping his eyes over without paying much attention. It was only after a while that he suddenly realised something and swiftly released Gu Mang from his grasp, straightened himself up, then turned his attention towards the ground.
A trace of moonlight faintly shone through the window.
Inside of that tiny ceramic savings jar, there was actually absolutely nothing……….
Gu Mang had unexpectedly not received even a single piece of the tiniest, most insignificant white cowrie5[Refers to actual cowrie shells, like you know the ones you can find on the beach. Basically like a worthless penny.].
That jar was empty.
The author has something to say:
Gu Mang (Outraged6[炸毛 refers to when animals’ fur stands on their ends, when they’re threatened or angry] Tiger7[lmao remember the tiger joke right at the start…]): If you don’t wanna choose then don’t choose! Why did you have to squeeze my neck!
Mo Xi (sweeps a glance over the tiger’s butt): Then where do you want me to squeeze?
Gu Mang: ………Move that dangerous gaze of yours elsewhere.
Translators Note: Just a small note to say that liyou will be translating along with me in the future, so hopefully we’ll be able to bring this story out at a much faster pace! Special thanks to nova for putting up with all my questions and helping me check my grammar for this chapter!