Your Distance - 75
The brothers were silent for a while.
Both of them leaned against the trunk of two trees along the street, standing opposite each other.
After finishing the milk tea, the song was still playing from the earpieces.
“Ge, will the thing you want me to take from home… hurt my mum?” Zhu Wenjia spoke first.
“No.” Ting Shuang had already analyzed the situation in his mind. If he got his dad’s personal seal and obtained 51% of the company’s equity, Weng Yunyi would not have the power to cause any big impact even if she really wanted to. “As long as nothing goes wrong with the company, nothing would happen to her.”
Zhu Wenjia looked at Ting Shuang and said, “Ge, then you promise me that you won’t let anything happen to my mother.”
Ting Shuang said, “I will try my best.”
“No.” Zhu Wenjia said, “You can’t just try your best. You have to.”
Ting Shuang said, “… I can’t guarantee that.”
Zhu Wenjia took two steps forward and stood just ten centimeters away from Ting Shuang, “You can guarantee it. I’ll get the box that you want. Just promise me that everyone will be fine, and that everything will be the same as before.”
Ting Shuang said irritably, “Zhu Wenjia, can’t you be reasonable?”
Zhu Wenjia embraced Ting Shuang.
“That’s enough from you,” Ting Shuang said.
“Ge…” Zhu Wenjia called out.
Ting Shuang took a deep breath, “… Fine, let go of me.”
Zhu Wenjia released his arms and smiled at Ting Shuang.
“Tell the driver that he doesn’t need to pick you up.” Ting Shuang called for a taxi, “I’ll wait for you in the car later, just come out and pass the things to me later.”
Zhu Wenjia nodded and called the driver.
Halfway through the taxi ride, Ting Shuang suddenly realized something, “Zhu Wenjia, have you never taken a beating since childhood?”
Zhu Wenjia thought back, “I think so.”
Ting Shuang laughed and said, “When I was young, I often got beaten. I didn’t know why before, but now I understand. I was always acting tough with our dad, and my temper was very bad. You always hugged others and begged for mercy with that sweet mouth of yours. Say, who would he hit if not me? Even now I’m too stupid, not as clever as you.”
Because of that, he might not have been able to get everything he wanted when he was a child, but Zhu Wenjia usually got whatever he wanted, no matter what it was.
Zhu Wenjia said, “Then why didn’t you learn from me?”
Ting Shuang shook his head and smiled, “I can’t learn it, this is something you need talent for.”
The taxi parked outside the residential area. Zhu Wenjia got out of the car, and thought of something while closing the door. He said to Ting Shuang, “You haven’t given me the passcode for the safe.”
Ting Shuang took out his phone and was about to send the passcode to Zhu Wenjia, but he paused for two seconds before putting the phone away, “After you enter the study, video call me. I’ll tell you how to find the safe and how to open it.”
As Zhu Wenjia watched Ting Shuang, he was taken aback, and said hesitatingly, “… Ge, you don’t even believe in me?”
“No.” Ting Shuang’s face remained neutral, “The safe is a bit complicated to operate, and I find typing troublesome. Quick, go in.”
After Zhu Wenjia left, “Brothers” that had been playing from the Bluetooth earpiece in Ting Shuang’s ear also stopped. Only then did he remember that he had to return the earpiece to Zhu Wenjia.
Sitting in the back of the taxi alone, he stared at Zhu Wenjia’s back as well as at the home he hadn’t been back to for many years, his eyes clouding over.
Maybe he’d been too calculating these days…
The moment they entered the taxi, he’d suddenly realized that Zhu Wenjia might not be as simple as he’d thought. If Zhu Wenjia really cared that much about Weng Yunyi, then even if Weng Yunyi had told him in private that ‘Your brother took the opportunity to steal the company while your dad’s sick in hospital’, Zhu Wenjia wouldn’t have told him about it behind her back.
And with how Weng Yunyi put up family portraits all around the house, there hadn’t been a need for Zhu Wenjia to tell him.
He used to think that Zhu Wenjia was stupid, and that was why he told him everything about what Weng Yunyi had said and done. Now he suddenly realized that that wasn’t actually the case. Zhu Wenjia knew better than anyone about how to behave if he wanted to live a good life in this family.
Don’t think about it anymore.
Ting Shuang closed his eyes and forced himself to drive those thoughts out of his mind.
The more complicated his thought processes, the more likely he’d be to see things as such. It must be because he had been thinking too much recently, that he felt like no one could be relied on.
He opened the photo gallery on his phone and found the photo of Bai Changyi he had taken while he was asleep. His heart calmed slightly.
After a while, Zhu Wenjia sent a request for a video call, and Ting Shuang picked it up.
Zhu Wenjia switched to the rear camera and said, “I’m in the study. Where is the safe? There wouldn’t be some kind of mechanism behind the landscape painting on the wall, right?”
“No, it’s in the cabinet on the right under the desk. It’s easy to find.” Ting Shuang said, “There’s nothing valuable in it, just some of Dad’s personal belongings. All the valuables are in the bank.”
“Oh…” Zhu Wenjia opened the cabinet door, with the phone camera facing the floor.
“The camera follows your eyes.” Ting Shuang said, “Wherever you look, the camera points.”
“Oh, I wasn’t paying attention.” Zhu Wenjia pointed the camera towards the cabinet.
The wooden cabinet under the desk was opened, revealing the metal color of the unmovable turntable passcode safe embedded under the desk.
“Okay.” Zhu Wenjia said.
“Turn the knob to zero. Turn left, to 95.” Ting Shuang said.
Zhu Wenjia followed Ting Shuang’s instructions step by step. After all the three codes were put in, he realised that the three numbers, 95, 04, and 12, happened to be Ting Shuang’s birthday.
“Alright.” Seeing that Zhu Wenjia hadn’t moved, Ting Shuang reminded him, “Twist the handle and the door will open.”
When Zhu Wenjia opened the safe. Inside were a few stacks of paper, a few envelopes, and a wooden box with a copper clasp. The copper clasp was clasped on, but it was not locked.
“This is it?” Zhu Wenjia took out the wooden box.
“Yeah.” Ting Shuang said, “Take it out and give it to me.”
Zhu Wenjia said, “Okay, I’ll be quick.”
Ting Shuang wanted to speak again, but Zhu Wenjia had already hung up.
He sent a video call request again, but no one answered it.
After waiting for ten minutes, Zhu Wenjia ran out, and handed him the box, “My gosh, I was just about to leave when I was stopped by the nanny. She made me drink duck and sea cucumber soup. The soup was hot too, so I had to blow it for a long time before drinking it.”
“It’s okay, I’m not in a hurry.” Ting Shuang took the box, opened the copper clasp, and lifted the lid of the box—
There was something missing in the center of the soft yellow satin.
The place where the personal seal should be placed was empty.
“Is it right?” Zhu Wenjia was about to leave, “I’ll go back now if everything’s fine.”
Ting Shuang raised his eyes and examined Zhu Wenjia’s expression, “You didn’t open it?”
“No.” Zhu Wenjia said, “You didn’t want me to know, did you.”
“You took the wrong thing.” Ting Shuang closed the box, “What I want isn’t this.”
“Huh?” Zhu Wenjia said, “But there was only this box in the safe. You saw it in the video call just now.”
Ting Shuang paid the taxi driver, pushed open the door and got off, “I’ll look for it again.”
Zhu Wenjia said, “But aren’t you afraid–“
“Originally, I had already prepared to go in by myself in the case that you didn’t want to do so.” Ting Shuang said.
“I wasn’t unwilling.” Zhu Wenjia said.
“I didn’t say that you were unwilling.” Ting Shuang smiled, “But it’s not like you don’t know dad’s condition. He has woken up, but he’s not in the state he was before. I suspect he remembered wrong. I’ll look for it again.”
Zhu Wenjia said, “Then my mother…”
“If she knows, then so be it.” Ting Shuang quickened his pace, “I don’t have any other choice.”
The babysitter came to open the door. She was new, and only knew Zhu Wenjia, not Ting Shuang.
“Hello.” Ting Shuang greeted her, “I haven’t been home for several years. Auntie, please give me a bowl of duck and sea cucumber soup.”
After he said that, he walked straight towards the study, not looking like he’d missed this place at all.
Seeing his actions, the nanny immediately tried to block his way. Ting Shuang stopped and turned around, “Zhu Wenjia, please explain to this auntie, that any aunt who can’t live in harmony with me won’t be able to step past the house door in the future.”
Actually, ever since Ting Shuang entered junior high school, he never addressed the nanny at home as ‘auntie’, because he knew that Weng Yunyi would be unhappy. But he couldn’t call Weng Yunyi ‘Mum’, so he had to call the nanny ‘Jie’(1). No matter how old the nanny was, he would always call them ‘Jie’.
This time, when he deliberately addressed the nanny as such, Zhu Wenjia realized that something was wrong, so he caught up with Ting Shuang and started, “Ge, I–“
“I’ll just go in and find it myself.” Ting Shuang closed the door to the study, leaving Zhu Wenjia outside.
The layout of Zhu Ao’s study was not complicated. There was a landscape painting on the wall, a desk and chair in the center of the room, a trash can and a small paper shredder beside the chair, a bonsai tree and a printer on the low cabinet next to it, a complete set of hardcover books that no one reads on the bookshelf, a computer on the desk, a tube of pens, a tea cup, an ashtray, and two identical walnuts on the corner of the desk, so that Zhu Ao could fidget with them in his free time.
Ting Shuang quickly turned the study table inside out, but couldn’t find the personal seal.
He opened the safe again, and it looked like how it did in the video just now. There weren’t any other boxes.
Where exactly was the private seal…
Did Zhu Wenjia take it?
Or was the personal seal already gone before Zhu Wenjia opened the safe?
If the personal seal was long gone, did Zhu Ao remember the place he put it in wrong, or did Weng Yunyi take it away?
Ting Shuang sat on the swivel chair, thinking as he played with the walnuts on his father’s table.
He hadn’t played with the walnuts much, and one of them accidentally fell out of his hand.
That was bad!
These weren’t ordinary walnuts. A pair was too expensive. If they broke and went missing, he wouldn’t know where to find another pair like this one for his dad.
As soon as the walnut left his hand, he quickly reached out his other hand to catch it. With his quick reflexes, though he had knocked over both the trash can and shredder, he managed to catch it, so the walnut was unscathed. He let out a sigh of relief and hurriedly returned the two walnuts back to their original positions, not daring to play with them anymore.
Then he went to tidy up the trash can and the paper shredder.
The moment he turned the paper shredder over, he realised that the paper shredder was turned on.
Did someone just use it?
Or had the power always been left on?
Ting Shuang touched the surface of the paper shredder. There was no warmth that would have been generated by the long-term use of an electrical appliance. Then it should have been used just not long ago.
Could it be that Zhu Wenjia had just used it?
Not necessarily, maybe this paper shredder was very good, and wouldn’t be hot even if it was switched on the entire day.
He opened the shredder case and poured out the shredded paper inside.
Damn, they’d been shredded really thoroughly.
Even after a long time, he didn’t manage to piece together a complete piece of paper, just some keywords. But the keywords were enough for him to know what was on the paper that had been shredded.
It was a will, and there seemed to be something else written on it, but currently, he couldn’t tell what it was.
He had to bring these shredded pieces of paper away with him.
But where was the shredded will originally placed?
Ting Shuang looked in the direction of the safe.
When he’d opened the safe, he’d only checked again if there were any other boxes inside, not at all paying attention to anything else that was inside. After all, those were his father’s personal belongings, and he didn’t want to look at them. But now, he might have no choice but to look through those things.
First, he opened an envelope and realised that it was a photo of him when he was a child. Opening the second envelope, it turned out to be a love letter. He was too embarrassed to continue reading, so he stuffed it back into the envelope without knowing who wrote it, and did not open the other envelopes.
The stacks of paper under the envelopes were documents.
At the top was a premarital agreement.
Ting Shuang skimmed through it and realised that Weng Yunyi actually didn’t gain anything from this marriage. If they got divorced, then Zhu Ao wouldn’t give her anything apart from promising to raise her children.
He then flipped through the rest of the documents, and there was nothing worth looking at, so he closed the safe.
What he should think about now was the whereabouts of the personal seal…
And this will, just who was it that threw it into the shredder?
Knock knock. It came from the door.
“Ge, did you find it?” Zhu Wenjia’s voice came from outside the door, “The soup’s been on the table for a long time. It’s cold already.”
“I’ll be right out.” Ting Shuang responded as he sent a message to Bai Changyi: Did Ms. Weng bring along any documents?Like a document that had my dad’s personal seal stamped on it?
After waiting for two minutes, Bai Changyi didn’t reply, so Ting Shuang brought the shredder with him as he exited the study.
“Ge, what are you doing?” Zhu Wenjia was taken aback.
“Oh, there isn’t a toy like this in the hotel room. I think Dad can’t use it for the time being, so I plan on borrowing it.” Ting Shuang said, “You don’t have any objections, right?”
“What objections could I have? I don’t use it anyway.” Zhu Wenjia sat at the table drinking soup, “Come on and drink, I just switched your bowl for a warm one.”
Ting Shuang walked to the table, but did not sit down. Holding the paper shredder in one hand, Ting Shuang took out the spoon from the soup bowl with the other, put it aside, and downed the bowl of soup like he would with a bowl of wine.
“…The earpieces, they’re yours.” He loudly placed down the bowl, wiped his mouth, then took out the Bluetooth earpiece from his pocket and placed it on the table.
“Didi.(2)” He called Zhu Wenjia that for the first time, “This house is also yours. The company, if you’re willing to manage it, is also yours. Even if you don’t want to, I will find a professional manager to take care of it. The company is still yours. “
“Ge…” Zhu Wenjia frowned, “Why are you saying these kinds of things to me all of a sudden?”
“Nothing.” Ting Shuang said, “I just wanted to tell you that no one is fighting with you.”
“I’ve never felt like someone was fighting with me?” Zhu Wenjia said, “Ge, what’s wrong with you these past few days?”
“Nothing.” Ting Shuang said, “I’m leaving.”
Back at the hotel, Ting Shuang was exhausted, but didn’t feel like sleeping. He plugged in the paper shredder and did an experiment to find out how long it took for it to feel warm, and then forced himself to calm down and carry on his fight with the shredded paper. But he couldn’t help but keep checking his phone once in a while, scared that he would miss Bai Changyi’s reply.
Finally, his phone vibrated twice.
Bai Changyi: Ms. Weng brought a letter of attorney for the 36% of equity Mr. Zhu owned, with Mr. Zhu’s personal seal on it.
Bai Changyi: I’ll be back in 20 minutes.
(1) Jie is the short form for jiejie, which means sister in Chinese. I could have just translated it into “sis”, but it feels more right to just leave it as Jie ahha
(2) 弟弟 in Chinese, which is what you would call your younger brother.