Chapter 62 Returning Home
Liu Zhongming faintly felt that the scar in Qu Chenzhou’s heart that he did not want to be opened was right in front of him.
When he mentioned that he had only seen Jiang Xingzhi once before, Qu Chenzhou said that he had fled to the street. His words were vague at that time and he should have dug for the truth at that time.
“Steward Lin, how old was Chenzhou at that time?”
“Nine years old, less than ten years old.”
Liu Zhongming’s heart sank, it really was that time.
Thinking about it, Qu Chenzhou must have thought that he could already make money. As long as he returned home, he could afford to support his family and his parents would not let him be a slave outside.
And what he guessed before was not wrong. Although Qu Chenzhou ran to the street, he couldn’t escape in the end. He could only ask for help from Jiang Xingzhi, who he came across in a panic, to bring a letter back to his parents for himself.
That’s why Jiang Xingzhi went to Changshui Town.
Liu Zhongming’s chest was so stuffed that he didn’t want to continue listening, yet he had to force himself to listen.
“When winter was approaching that year…”
There was a dull thunder rolling in the sky, leaving a trail in the rainy season. Sweeping the sky from time to time, presumably there would be another heavy rain later and even the wind suddenly became cooler.
Although it was far from the early winter season mentioned by Steward Lin, Liu Zhongming still felt extremely cold.
Standing in the courtyard, looking at the closed door of the east wing, he finally understood what Qu Chenzhou was repeating in his drowsiness—the child has grown up and is looking forward to returning home.
In order to find someone who can deliver a letter to his parents, even though he knew what the punishment awaiting him would be, the hopeful child still managed to escape, grabbed the life-saving straw, Jiang Xingzhi, and sent out a hopeful letter.
The letter was a few words he had just learned – child has grown up, hopes to go home.
The bruised young man lying in the woodshed, was he swaying between life and death dependent on the expectation of returning home?
But what happened in the end?
He touched his wet eyes that was quickly dried by the cool wind before the rain in his palms. A servant helped him put on a cloak and he sat in the courtyard, not wanting to use this appearance to see that person.
Between the two of them, one should be crazy and the other sober.
It was him who was crazy earlier, so now it’s his turn to be the backbone and support the person to stand up.
Before the rain started, the servant brought a food box and stood with him outside the door of the east wing.
“Shizi.” The man guarding the door stepped forward and spoke softly, as if he was afraid of shocking the person inside.
“Has he eaten today?”
“The things brought in were thrown out.”
Liu Zhongming’s eyes stayed on the window next to him. The window lattice was nailed to death by a few wooden strips, but yesterday’s newly sealed window paper was torn: “It seems that he must not be too hungry to be able to throw things. What about the medicine?”
“According to your instructions, I didn’t dare to force him to drink. Judging from the appearance of Dr. Qin when he came out, he probably didn’t take it.”
The door lock was removed and the door creaked open. Light from the lantern outside cased in, but there was no light coming from the room. Liu Zhongming’s shadow stretched forward from the threshold.
At the end was a messy quilt, piled on the ground, entangled with a person.
The man only had one of his arms exposed. He held the quilt in his arms, his entire head and face tucked inside. If it weren’t for the shoulders rising and falling with his breathing, Zhongming would hardly be able to tell that there was still a person under the quilt.
The servant stood on tiptoe to avoid the mess, put the food box on the table, and backed out.
The light narrowed in the gap where the two doors gradually closed, stinging the person like a needle. The person who was crawling on the ground with the quilt suddenly jumped up and stumbled towards the door without seeing Liu Zhongming.
Liu Zhongming embraced the person with his chest, one hand on his back and the other on his knees. He didn’t care that his two hands were desperately scratching his waist, he simply tilted the person in his arms and sat down at the table.
He didn’t know where the brush and ink laid out in the morning were thrown. There were shreds of paper all over the place and splashes of ink on the wall that was smashed by the inkstone.
When he sat down on the chair, he realized that there were water stains beneath him. He didn’t know what had spilled on the chair before, but he remained motionless while the person struggled.
There was no roaring or crying during this struggle, only the guttural sound when exerting force, which was eerily quiet.
Like holding a mute.
“You’re not being obedient again,” he reprimanded softly: “It’s just transcribing the family rules, why are you so angry?”
Qu Chenzhou’s eyes were sluggish, he only paused when he opened his mouth. He arched his back again and again, as if a beast in a trap, desperately trying to break free.
Liu Zhongming reluctantly frowned.
What a wild cat, he thought, can’t you do it another way? You only know how to scratch people, and the place where I was scratched yesterday had just scabbed.
“Don’t make trouble, behave yourself,” he squeezed his arm tightly, but patted his hand lightly: “Guess who I am, I’m Liu Zhongming. Look up, I’m Zhongming.”
This was his guess on the best way to appease him – this little lunatic liked his name. As long as he says Liu Zhongming, the little lunatic will gradually calm down.
That was what he was happy to think, not that this person lost the strength to struggle.
He was also happy to think that his name, like the ambiguous birthmark, was an inescapable weakness in Qu Chenzhou.
The struggling guttural voice gradually lowered in the heavier panting and whimpering, then the person in his arms curled up, shaking like a leftover leaf rolling in the cold wind.
Liu Zhongming finally breathed a long sigh of relief. Today’s encounter can be considered to have passed.
“Chenzhou, eat something,” he leaned down, recalling what Steward Lin said, then said in a low voice, “Eat something, then you can go home.”
These two words were like a spell. Qu Chenzhou’s trembling suddenly froze. Stiffened, he slowly raised his face from his chest, revealing a pair of eyes that were washed by the morning rain.
Those eyes were still scattered and dazed and they were cast erratically in the air of nothingness. He didn’t know if it was because of the familiar voice or something else that made him quiet down.
Liu Zhongming tried to relax his arms and made sure that Qu Chenzhou had used up all his strength to struggle, then did he move back. He made a space on the chair, changed his posture, turned Qu Chenzhou in a different direction, and turned his back to himself, tucked between his legs.
The wild cat had no claws and was unruly. It obediently revealed its soft belly, but he was not happy at all. Rather than seeing such weak obedience, he preferred to see it full of energy and being unreasonable.
Liu Zhongming sighed. He supported the man by his shoulder with one hand, then opened the food box with the other.
He was ashamed to say that after living together for so long, he never paid attention to what Qu Chenzhou liked to eat. He didn’t seem to be picky about anything except sweets.
It was just that he happened to receive some imperial meals from the palace a few days ago. He tried to feed him two mouthfuls, but he did not expect that the unconscious Qu Chenzhou would actually eat two more bites.
If it was in the past, he would inevitably have to speculate about the identity of this person, but now he was disturbed by the current events.
“Come on, try this,” He scooped the egg custard, brought it to his mouth, and soothed softly: “After you’re full, I’ll take you back home.”
He could only try slowly, he didn’t dare to stimulate his most painful memory right from the beginning.
After being sluggish and confused, Qu Chenzhou really had some reactions. He tried to shrug his shoulders again, trying to break free from the confinement. He knocked into the gg soup and it rolled down the front of his clothes.
Liu Zhongming pressed the man to his shoulder, and the foreheads of both of them were oozing with fine sweat.
He held the person between his legs, wrapped his hands with his, put his head against his body, and contained the whole person in his arms. He could clearly feel that this person was really going crazy.
He heard his heavier and heavier gasps. He was not exhausted, but the pain seemed to flow from their clinging bodies, galloping back and forth in their blood.
In the cold winter six years ago, he felt the same way.
Jiang Xingzhi lived up to his trust and sent the letter to Changshui Town, then according to Qu Shenzhou’s divination, he headed fifteen miles south, towards his unknown encounter.
The tormented child in the firewood house repeatedly recited “Child has grown up”, but he didn’t expect that Du Quan and the aggressive thugs were waiting.
The Qu family, who thought they had escaped their nightmare, received a terrifying letter a few years later. They were terrified and begged for someone to send news back to Qisheng Building overnight. They even begged that they were not attached to money and only wanted to not hear news of that Monster son.
Steward Lin clearly remembered the cruel words in the letter, and even remembered the monstrous anger of Shopkeeper Du had almost killed Qu Chenzhou.
Everyone in the three buildings under the shopkeeper’s name was called and told to watch the beating.
He couldn’t hear his pleas, his ears were full of the screams of the child falling onto the ice and snow, screaming under the whip. Even if the person stopped moving, he would be woken up by ice water.
When he was in the study, Liu Zhongming didn’t dare to raise his head, as if he didn’t know that Steward Lin, who was nearly fifty years old, was sobbing in front of him.
“I heard someone tell the shopkeeper to send him to Chunqing Building for a while, to ensure he will be obedient after some training. After it was said a few times, the shopkeeper was also moved.”
“Beasts, if he went there, how can Little Brother Qu live? Anyway, I gave people some money, to… have them whip his face and this stopped the shopkeeper’s idea…”
Liu Zhongming’s fingers stroked the deepest path on his scar, it had been torn to the bone. Steward Lin hastily grabbed grass and ash to cover it to stop the bleeding, he didn’t intend to let the wound heal.
But was the pain really just only on the face?
If only his face was injured, how could Qu Chenzhou, who escaped from death, suddenly lose his voice and hearing.
It was a silent world where he had no escape and had to open up for himself. Only there, could he not be able to say any divinations, would not be afraid of being abandoned by others, and would not hear the words of torture from his closest relatives.
“Don’t let him go home, it’s all up to the master’s disposal, regardless of life or death.”
“Chenzhou…” Liu Zhongming called softly, his heart was numb. He didn’t know what kind of comfort he needed. He just felt that the shattered figure in front of him seemed to overlap with himself a few years ago.
He was sitting in his brother’s mourning hall and was almost blinded by tears, and they all persuaded him – the man has passed away, restrain your grief.
——There were parents above and younger brother below, don’t mourn blindly.
——After taking over the burden of your brother, you should be sensible.
They were all right, but no one knew that the most difficult hurdle in his heart to overcome was himself.
He hated the quarrel between himself and his brother before leaving, that he didn’t even see him off because of his willfulness, that he didn’t go with his brother, that he didn’t bring someone to receive his brother, and that he was helpless against the murderer.
He knew that even if he was given another chance to go back, he couldn’t do anything, but he still couldn’t forgive himself.
No one said a word to him…
He suddenly tightened his arms, buried his head in his sweat-soaked hair, and whispered, “It’s not your fault…”
The struggle in his arms stopped abruptly. The throat that could make a gasping sound trembled, and the guttural sound changed to a low whimper.
“It’s not your fault.” Liu Zhongming murmured again, feeling that the choking in those words was someone else’s.
They all need to reconcile with their past selves and they all need a spell that will set them free.
It overlapped with the situation in the dream: they were intertwined in the darkness that avoided all eyes and the heartbeats were about to extinguish under the skin that was blurred by scratches.
Only together, they had the temperature and blood to keep beating.
Liu Zhongming relaxed the strength of his arms, scooped up the food, and said softly, “It’s not your fault that you were born with fortune-telling skills.”
“They left you, not because you were bad. They were wrong, it’s not your fault.”
“Your suffering for more than ten years is not what you deserve.”
His face was sinking into his hair; the delicate, cool hair that was unclear on whether it was soaked with sweat or the cocoon he broke free for himself. The spoon in his hand finally pried open his teeth with ease, and his whimper was blocked by his hunger.
“Listen to me, it’s also not your fault this time,” he said softly, as if he had sunk into Qu Chenzhou’s body and him speaking now was the liberation he had been looking forward to: “Changshui Town… it’s me. It’s my fault.”
“You did it for me, it has nothing to do with you, it’s my fault.”
“Those people’s lives shouldn’t be for you to bear. If they want to settle accounts, they can come to me, it has nothing to do with you.
The person who responded to the three words “Changshui Town” fell back softly, trembling in his arms.
“I will go look for your family, don’t worry. I have a lot of people, a lot of money, and I will find them for you.”
The food that usually needed to be hard-fed was finally half a bowl shallower. Qu Chenzhou pushed away the spoon in front of him, vomited, curled up, and pulled up his shirt to cover his face.
Liu Zhongming’s heart that had been hanging high gradually fell.
The resident doctor said that it was good to have a different reaction from the past, and the person will then slowly wake up.
“Look, when I grew up, I left home, and so will you.” He picked him up and kicked the mess on the ground: “When you grow up, you should have a new home.”
This time there were no fangs and claws to bite and scratch.
When he went out with someone in his arms, the moon was already in the middle of the sky like that day where someone was so decisive and firm, following him step by step, stepping on his closed door with every move.
“We’re returning home.”