Chapter 36: Stockholm Syndrome
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
“Xiao Ling,” he said. “everything you get will be bestowed by me, be it pleasure or pain.”
He lashed her with the whip in his hand.
A shrill sound split the air, the pain sharp and the smell of blood filling the narrow space. Yet she gratefully and greedily embraced it all, as she whimpered and begged for him to give her more. This pain reminded her that she was still truly alive…
He cast the whip aside, removed the ball in her mouth, and leaned over to kiss her, his forceful grasp almost suffocating her. “Xiao Ling, my beautiful butterfly…” He brushed his lips against her quivering lashes, whispering. “You are mine and mine only.”
It was always the case. He would first abandon her in the pitch dark and empty room, where it would be so lonely, so quiet that she could barely feel her existence. Once she was on the verge of insanity, a divine-like figure would appear, whip her brutally, torture her, and then in the gentlest of manner, feed her food and water and wipe the stains off her lips before eventually leaving.
The narrow space once again regained its state of loneliness and darkness until she reached a breaking point, where Pei Ziheng would re-appear and repeat the process all over.
Every time Pei Ziheng left, Xia Ling would tell herself she could not go on her cowardly ways, that she would not surrender to it the next time. Yet her body’s reaction was truthful and terrifying — no matter how resolved she was, she could not escape the fear and insanity in the dark, nor could she break free from the gratitude she had towards him and the violence he inflicted on her.
Subsequently, when he saw that she was tamed, he let her out.
Though she dared not lash out at him like before, leaving the dead silence and darkness allowed her to regain consciousness and clarity, and she remained hostile to him. When he entered her, she did all she could to resist him.
He had other moves.
She did not like the pain, and always struggled in resistance, yet she submitted to him under his firm repression… And then the next time it would be the same, resistance, repression, submission…
The cycle repeated.
Xia Yu came to see her.
She was in a simple-looking flair dress, her hair was a mess, and white gauze held her scrawny body together. But Xia Yu looked at her with a tinge of envy, and questioned coldly, “Sister, why is it that Brother Ziheng cares so much about you, and puts in so much effort for you!”
Xia Ling just looked at her, hostile. “What are you here for?”
Xia Yu smiled. “Sister, let me tell you a story.”
She spoke slowly and tirelessly.
As such, Xia Ling learned a new term — Stockholm Syndrome.
“Sister,” Xia Yu said. “here’s Brother Ziheng’s and the doctors’ plan. You will suffer from Stockholm Syndrome under their conscious guidance to reach the ideal state. No matter how Brother Ziheng treats you, be it with love or through torture, you will always be loyal to him, and will return to him voluntarily even if he lets you go.”
“You will lose yourself forever.”
“Brother Ziheng doesn’t even love you, what he wants is simply an obedient plaything.”
Xia Ling took a long time to digest what Xia Yu had said, not believing that was the truth. But all of Pei Ziheng’s actions recently fit what she said.
Xia Ling once thought that Pei Ziheng really loved her, just as she loved him with all her heart. Even when she was held captive by him, she continued to believe that he loved her, but maybe a little less, and not as wholeheartedly as she had thought. Yet now, Xia Ling realized that Xia Yu could be right, Pei Ziheng had never loved her from the beginning, all he needed was a plaything that he was satisfied with — whether that was Xia Ling or someone else, he did not care.
“Sister, consider my words seriously.” Xia Yu picked up her exquisite handbag and left gracefully.
Pei Ziheng went on every day with new ways to torture Xia Ling. He would stop right as she was about to crumble, and hold her in his arms gently, lightly tracing her every wound.
Xia Ling kept recalling Xia Yu’s words.
She realized that she indeed was becoming reliant on Pei Ziheng. Though she feared and dreaded the atrocities, the overwhelming gratitude and admiration she had for him when he was tender with her was irrational and out of her control.
She was afraid of the person she became. Looking at the scrawny-looking person in the mirror who had such a cautious, fearful expression, she could not recognize herself.
Maybe one day Pei Ziheng would succeed, and the real Xia Ling would be completely shattered and gone for good. And in her place would be a tamed and obedient walking corpse.
She feared living so pathetically.
“If living means having no say in my life, having my soul being crushed to nothingness, and being a living, walking corpse, I’d rather die.” She muttered.
As she snapped back to herself, what came into view was the ward, the gloomy skies outside the full-length windows, and an antagonized Pei Ziheng on the couch. Xia Ling looked at him. “I’m not threatened, Director Pei. If Feifei was conscious, she would agree with what I’m doing.”
“Ye Xingling, you’re too unbridled.” Pei Ziheng’s voice was low, lined with anger and coercion.
But Xia Ling was not as afraid anymore. Since she was on that note, she went on. “Forgive me, but I can never belong to anybody. Director Pei, please get your men to open the door, it’s time I took my leave.”
“You think you can leave?” He pressed a button.
The thick and sturdy door opened silently, and two brawny bodyguards walked in.
Pei Ziheng got up and walked towards the door, casting his words. “Take her along.”
The two bodyguards took the command and lifted her by her sides, following behind him.
Xia Ling initially thought that it was on a whim that he wanted her, that even if he got rejected by a nobody like her, the worst that could happen was teaching her a lesson before he cast her aside for someone else. She was prepared for his rage and revenge in the coming days, but she never expected such obstinacy, nor that he would resort to kidnapping her.
Inexplicable fear rose inside her as she was reminded of terrors of the past. She never wanted to relive the days where she was treated like dirt. Xia Ling struggled with might, screaming. “Pei Ziheng! Get them to let go of me! What you’re doing is illegal!”
He continued ahead, not in the least bothered.
Suddenly, he stopped.
Xia Ling looked up and saw that the spacious corridor before was now packed with a crowd. In the distance, a group of about 10 burly men streamed out of a ward, chatting and laughing noisily as they walked towards the elevators, getting in their way.
Xia Ling recognized the man in front —
He was in a casual white outfit, the soft fabric revealing the faint outline of his toned muscles. His tan had a healthy glow and his features were handsome and well-sculpted — in his eyes she saw a charming expression.
No matter where he was, he always looked outstanding.
Xia Ling was brimming with gratitude at this point. In a panic, she shouted. “Li Lei!”