No matter how Qian Wei looked at it, Mo Zixin’s gentle profile looked like something out of an elegant oil painting.
Qian Wei couldn’t help but think: No wonder Lu Xun had liked Mo Zixin before. If she were a man, she was afraid that she would probably like her too.
When she thought to this point, Qian Wei found that her thoughts wouldn’t stop and, before long, she was thinking of the scene where Lu Xun had confessed to Mo Zixin. Lu Xun must have really liked Mo Zixin for him to do that.
Ever since she had gotten together with Lu Xun, Qian Wei had tried to downplay that memory. After all, who in this world didn’t have some history behind them? The past wasn’t something you could touch or change so it was better to focus on the feelings they had in the present moment. She clearly knew that this was the mature way of looking at things, and she also knew that it was precisely because of the things that had happened in his past that the Lu Xun she knew had been shaped into the man he was today. In fact, if she thought about it, it was largely because of Mo Zixin that she and Lu Xun had so many opportunities to interact with each other in the first place.
“It was a mistake for me to ever marry him. Now I realize that I never liked him at all!” Over on Mo Zixin’s side, the woman who was consulting her about divorce seemed to be getting a bit emotional, and her voice got a little louder amidst the sound of tears. She reached up to wipe away the tears, revealing a miserable appearance. One of her eyes was blue, purple, and swollen, clearly the aftermath of a beating, there were old scars scattered about her face, and one of her wrists was red and swollen, clear signs that it had been gripped too strongly. From the side, Qian Wei’s attention was unconsciously drawn over to her.
“He and I were classmates back in our school days. In the beginning, he wasn’t my type at all, and I actually liked his good friend. However, unfortunately that boy didn’t like me back. At the time, I had chased him for a very long time and so I felt very humiliated when he rejected me. Plus, after he rejected me, he soon found another girlfriend. It was a huge blow. I felt as if my self-confidence and my self-esteem were both destroyed at once, so I was very depressed. That was when he showed up. He accompanied me every day, comforted me, and helped me through that difficult period of my life.” It was very common for people to ask for professional legal advice about matters regarding divorce, but it was equally common that they couldn’t help but pour out their hearts while doing so. So the young woman again wiped away her tears before continuing, “Anyway, I was always with him, and he was always very kind, so I just ended up confused and I married him right after graduation. At the time, I thought I loved him, but now I’ve found that was never true. I was too stupid. I mistook the gratitude I felt for love, and mistakenly thought that entering a new relationship with him would be the catalyst that would help me escape my lovesickness, but I was wrong. I never loved him. “
Mo Zixin comforted the woman for a moment before subtly probing: “However, that thing you mentioned before? You said he suspected that you were having an affair with his best friend after the two of you were married, and because of that he constantly abused you. Was that the truth?”
The young woman’s face turned awkward, as if she had been poked in a sore spot, and she paused for a while before responding, “He’s just being paranoid. I only ever went out for coffee a few times and a trip one time…”
There was no need for Mo Zixin to ask any further because even Qian Wei could tell that the young woman did, in fact, seem to be having an affair, if not a physical one, at least an emotional one… Of course, domestic violence was something that could never be tolerated, but the end of a marriage was never something that could be wholly blamed on one side.
In the end, Mo Zixin could only outline the steps of how to get a divorce, while touching on the things like the division of property and child support as she did so. The young woman cried while she listened before finally leaving.
“It’s really sad that she mistook such a thing as love.” Mo Zixin sighed and looked at Qian Wei. “It seems that for some people, the white moonlight in their heart ends up being someone truly irreplaceable. Even if they never manage to get together with that person, even if they find another partner, their heart will always be fixed on that person they could never be with.”
After Mo Zixin said that, she sent Qian Wei another glance before leaving the table and heading off to the toilet.
Qian Wei was startled, she didn’t know if Mo Zixin had said those words unintentionally or if she already knew something. She sat in her spot, suddenly feeling a little restless and uneasy. She glanced over at Lu Xun at the other table, and couldn’t help but wonder if she and Lu Xun were the same? Was she just a stepping stone Lu Xun was using to get through the pain of his broken heart? Was she just Lu Xun’s ‘second best’? In the end, would she be a mistake that Lu Xun would regret?
Qian Wei’s thoughts flew. In her previous life, she had been near Lu Xun for many years, from classmates to colleagues, and in all that time Lu Xun had never shown any interest in her. She had always been under the impression that her character and appearance were simply not to Lu Xun’s tastes. Now she had been reborn, but why would she think that Lu Xun had changed? Was she the one taking advantage of Lu Xun’s heartbroken state now?
“Qian Wei, I bought you a milk tea.”
While Qian Wei was struggling internally, Li Chongwen’s voice gently interrupted her wild thoughts. When he saw he had her attention, he handed over the cup of milk tea and said. “The consultations on my side are done with, so I walked over and bought some drinks.”
It was about lunchtime, and most of the people who had come for consultations this morning had already gotten satisfactory answers and left. Only Lu Xun was still busy, with several old aunties gathered around in front of his spot chattering together. Liu Shiyun, who was in charge of maintaining order, also had nothing to do which was why, when Li Chongwen handed the milk tea to Qian Wei, she happened to be idly passing by.
When she saw this scene, Liu Shiyun cried out: “Ah! Li Chongwen, how can you be so unkind?!” She stepped forward and interrogated, “Why did you only buy milk tea for Qian Wei? Where’s mine?”
At this moment, many of the law students had already left their tables to have a rest nearby, but Lu Xun was still here. However, even with the commotion, he didn’t look over in Qian Wei’s direction because he was still seriously answering questions for the old auntie who was consulting him. When she saw that, Qian Wei breathed a sigh of relief while at the same time feeling a little lost.
Li Chongwen, who was teased by Liu Shiyun, immediately blushed and said: “Well, wait a minute. I’ll go buy one for you. What flavor do you want?”
“I’ll have the oolong flavor!”
As soon as Li Chongwen left, Liu Shiyun teased Qian Wei: “I think your days of being single will soon be coming to an end. However, you should prepare yourself mentally. Li Chongwen is very popular among the girls of our year so if you are with him, be prepared to be treated as a public enemy by all the girls.”
However, Qian Wei was secretly looking at Lu Xun’s profile, completely distracted and only thinking about him, so she had no time to pay attention to anything else and barely even registered that Liu Shiyun was speaking.
Becoming jealous, suspicious, indecisive… feeling not brave enough or not stylish enough, feeling vulnerable and scared… it seemed that these things were also part of falling in love.
Love was like a cup of honeyed lemonade, sweet, but also bitter.
Because she was so distracted by her thoughts of Lu Xun, Qian Wei felt that she couldn’t concentrate on anything else at all, and her whole person was out of sorts.
Her chaotic mood lasted until the end of the morning when the group of students started packing up to go to lunch. By that point, Qian Wei was finally able to get ahold of herself, at least a little bit, however, she soon noticed that something was off with Lu Xun.
“I didn’t expect that there would be so many people who wanted to consult with us about the law in this community.” One of the boys said while stretching tiredly. Then he looked at Lu Xun and said, “But Lu Xun must be the most tired one among us, basically he alone attracted 50% of the firepower.”
“The consultations with Lu Xun ranged from real estate disputes to private loans. Lu Xun, I’m very curious about how you’re able to remember so many legal provisions so clearly.”
However, despite everyone’s praising and envious looks, Lu Xun’s mood seemed rather down. He just smiled vaguely, and occasionally gave an ‘Mhm’ by way of response.
The rest of the students were having a heated discussion about all the strange kinds of consultations they had encountered this morning, but Lu Xun did not participate at all. He just walked quietly on one side. He lowered his head and looked at the ground, not even looking at Qian Wei.
Qian Wei and Liu Shiyun were walking together. Liu Shiyun was enthusiastically talking about the plot of the South Korean drama she had watched yesterday, but Qian Wei didn’t hear a word. It was clear that everything had been fine this morning, so why was Lu Xun unhappy now?
Although he was aware of Qian Wei’s gaze, Lu Xun finally looked up, but he only swept his eyes gently past her before turning his head away again.
Qian Wei softly called his name, but Lu Xun directly turned his head away.
“Qian Wei, could you take this scarf to Qian Chuan for me later?” Just as Qian Wei was feeling distracted, Mo Zixin’s gentle voice shook her back to reality. Qian Wei looked up and saw Mo Zixin smiling at her, the other girl said, “Actually, I knitted it for him.”
Qian Wei nodded her head and took it absently before looking back toward Lu Xun. He still had an expression that said ‘We don’t know each other’, and didn’t seem to want to acknowledge Qian Wei at all.
Qian Wei looked at Mo Zixin in front of her, and then at Lu Xun. Suddenly, she remembered the young woman who had been consulting Mo Zixin about a divorce and had an uncomfortable feeling of realization. It seemed that Lu Xun… she was afraid that deep in Lu Xun’s heart he hadn’t forgotten Mo Zixin at all. That was why when they were in front of Mo Zixin he didn’t act the way he usually did with Qian Wei and instead put on a frosty face. After all, if a boy still had some ideas about a girl, he wouldn’t ever openly show off that he wasn’t single in front of her, and he definitely wouldn’t show any sort of intimacy with other girls in front of her.
And sure enough, when they were eating, even though it was clear that Qian Wei had left an empty seat beside her, Lu Xun only paused for a moment as he walked by before deciding to sit at another table, as if to avoid suspicion.
Because of this, Qian Wei found that she could barely swallow her food, so she just finished quickly and then hurriedly followed the group back to their stand so that she could continue with the activity.
During the whole process Lu Xun never said another word to her, however, Li Chongwen did come over a few times.
There weren’t many people who came to consult with them in the afternoon, so the law students were fairly idle. After a while, Lu Xun disappeared to buy water for everyone, and at the same time Li Chongwen got a phone call and stepped away to answer it. For Qian Wei’s part, she just sat around lost in her own thoughts until, after about half an hour, she finally saw someone coming towards her table.
However, as the man approached, Qian Wei noticed that the newcomer looked very aggressive. He didn’t look at all like someone coming for a consultation, more like someone coming for vengeance.
And as soon as he opened his mouth, Qian Wei’s guess was confirmed.
“Who was it that just gave my wife some bullshit legal advice? Today, when that dead woman came home, she immediately transferred away all the money in our card and went to retain a lawyer and start divorce proceedings.”
“You’re a lunatic! Don’t come out here and bother unrelated people, I’m divorcing from this marriage no matter what!”
While Qian Wei and the man were looking at each other, a familiar female voice suddenly sounded from afar. Qian Wei looked around and quickly spotted the speaker, it was the young woman who had wanted a divorce because she was suffering from domestic violence from this morning.
The man and woman quickly entangled with each other, and began blaming and shouting at one another in front of Qian Wei.
Once the man got close Qian Wei realized that he had obviously been drinking because, even though he was still standing some distance away, she could clearly smell the scent of alcohol wafting off him. His face was flushed red all the way down to his neck, and while his body was fat he also seemed very strong. Qian Wei wasn’t sure if it was the effect of alcohol or if he was just very agitated, but he was openly pointing and cursing at the woman with one hand while holding a bottle of beer in the other.
“This dead woman put a green hat on me, so isn’t it natural for me to hit her?” The drunk man glared so hard that his veins were popping out on his forehead. “She asked for this herself, so what’s wrong with me giving it to her? Besides, what happens between a man and his wife is their own business, so what are you people doing meddling?! A bunch of lazy college students, do you have nothing better to do? You want to come out here and stick your noses where even the police won’t?”
Some of the boys couldn’t bear to listen to his ranting, and one retorted: “Your behavior is clearly illegal, in the worst case you might be suspected of violating the Criminal Laws surrounding the abuse of family members. The circumstances here are obvious and, after prosecution, you could easily be sentenced to up to two years of fixed-term imprisonment, or criminal detention, or public surveillance!*”
The student’s words only seemed to stimulate the man’s nerves because he immediately lifted his bottle, took a sip, and then smashed it down on the table. Most of the bottle shattered, leaving only the neck of the bottle wrapped in the man’s hand – with jagged shards of glass pointing outwards. “I haven’t even gotten to you little bastards,” the man growled threateningly. “Which one of you gave this dead woman a bunch of bad ideas just now? Stand up for me now. Today I, Zhang Gang, won’t just be teaching my wife a lesson, I’ll also let you college students who don’t know shit learn something new.”
The man had obviously gone completely out of control, and he gave of the aura of a criminal with nothing to lose. The boys present could all sense his danger and unstability.
Someone muttered, “Forget it. I’ve already called the police. Let’s just wait for the police to come and deal with this.”
When they heard that, the boys who had eagerly jumped up to help subdue the man all began to hesitate.
The man’s eyes shone with a terrible light and his tone was gloomy and evil. He completely had the posture that he wouldn’t stop until he reached his goal. When he saw the boys hesitating, he became even more arrogant and walked up and grabbed the woman’s hair directly in front of everyone. He yanked on the woman’s hair like he intended to slam her head into the nearby wall, swearing at her all the while.
The woman had red eyes as she struggled desperately, scratching at the man with her fingernails, and the scene quickly became chaotic. Maybe because the man was surrounded, his emotions were obviously running very high, and the woman’s resistance only seemed to stimulate his desire for violence. Whatever the reason, he began to choke the woman with his hands, and the woman seemed to finally realize that the situation was very bad. She gave up her struggle completely and, in an instant, the man dragged her up and held his broken glass bottle against her throat, and the woman froze – not daring to move.
“This dead woman said that it was a woman who advised her just now.” The man held the woman with one arm while using the other arm to brandish the jagged glass bottle in front of him as his eyes darted around among the several female law students. “I would like to see which one of you taught her to transfer away all of our money so she could subsidize that pretty boy. I assume that the one who advised her could only come up with this kind of method because she’s a woman herself. In the future, there’s no doubt that she will go out and harm a man so I, Zhang Gang, will ruin that little bitch’s face on behalf of the Heavens today!”
When he finished speaking, he yanked hard on the women’s hair and growled: “Tell me, just who gave you that trick?”
Having her hair yanked, the woman screamed in pain and looked very miserable.
And Mo Zixin was, after all, still only a 19-year-old girl. This was probably the first time she had seen such a terrible and violent scene and, as the person who had advised the woman, she felt even more afraid. That fear made her subconsciously take a step back.
Unfortunately, that little move did not escape the man’s eyes, which quickly affixed themselves to her like a pair of venomous snakes.
The abused woman also seemed to be completely defeated at last because, in order to protect herself, she pointed bitterly at Mo Zixin and said, “It’s her! She’s the one who taught me everything! I didn’t want to do it! But she told me that I must get a divorce!”
“So it was you.”
The man was finally distracted from the woman. He indifferently let go of his wife, hefted the broken glass bottle, and began to walk towards Mo Zixin.
*this wording is kind of awkward but those are all real punishments in Chinese criminal law so I’m leaving them as is. But the document I looked at, other than confirming that those are the real names for the punishments, doesn’t explain much else – so I’m not 100% sure what any of them really are sorry (not being Chinese myself).
tl note: Ugh. Qian Wei’s internal monologue where she’s like ‘Domestic abuse is never ok, BUT…’ is just… gross.