216.1 – Gong Tianyang’s Sorrow
Aware that she was fooled, Xue Qilin is a little angry. But, she only managed to utter a word, when Gong Tianyang interrupted her in a heavy tone.
“Older Sister Xue thinks too highly of me. I’m just a coward.”
Gong Tianyang’s pale lips curved into an ugly, forlorn smile.
Xue Qilin opened her mouth, yet couldn’t say anything.
Gong Tianyang retracted his gaze, and then looked at the lake again. In his eyes, there is no lake with gold shimmer on its surface.
“I was born amid expectations, and these expectations shaped my ego.”
With this sentence as his opening remark, he told Xue Qilin all about himself.
“I bear the responsibility of succeeding my clan. But, due to an accident, the expectations placed on me came to naught — no, they didn’t come to naught, because they have nowhere else to go except me. It can only…”
“Even though I know that I may not live to see it, but grandfather and father still hope me to succeed the Gong Clan, the Northern Guard Fort, and their devotion.
Their hopes are really heavy… yet I still gladly accepted them, strived to live, and wished to leave the sickbed one day and answer their expectations.
In fact, everyone knows that I am not a suitable choice, and I am conscious of this, as well. But, there is no way around it. Did you know? It can only be me, Older Sister Xue… it can only be me…”
Gong Tianyang’s sorrowful voice echoed gently in the air.
He clenched his fists and bit his lower lip.
For just a moment, his nails and teeth sunk into the skin. It didn’t draw much blood.
Xue Qilin silently extended her hands and gently wrapped his hands. But, not even her warmth can relieve the emotions surging at the bottom of Gong Tianyang’s heart.
“I’ll never have the courage to say no! Because I feel guilty for them, I can never say no to them! I’m a good-for-nothing that can’t answer to everyone’s hopes! Moreover, despite knowing that the bowl in front of me is full of older sister’s blood, I can’t smash it!”
His strength dissipated, and Gong Tianyang asked Xue Qilin with a weak, unsightly smile, “Older Sister Xue, aren’t I useless?”
Xue Qilin is not familiar with Gong Tianyang, she doesn’t even know if he is just an innocent child like what he portrays to be.
She is sure of only one thing — he isn’t useless. Xue Qilin believes so from the bottom of her heart. Because —
“I heard that you were were very sick and couldn’t get out of bed for ten years. If that’s true, then just to be able to persevere through this period of time, you can feel proud… if it were I, I might have been unable to bear it and committed suicide.”
Xue Qilin got up and patted Gong Tianyang’s head, all the while saying sincerely “Besides, you’re really smart — well, I cannot but admit that. But, it doesn’t mean that I am stupid! Just like yesterday, you deliberately used me to draw those people into the open, didn’t you?”
Upon hearing this, Gong Tianyang, who was squinting his eyes and enjoying the patting, smiled awkwardly.
“Ah, Older Sister Xue saw through it.”
“Heh, I’m not some hopeless fool. Given some time, I can still figure things out.”
Sometimes, chance is the inevitable outcome.
After Xue Qilin recounted the story yesterday, Qi Qiqi immediately raised the suspicion that Gong Tianyang might have borrowed Xue Qilin to deliberately fish out those people hiding in the dark.
Although Shui Yun’er didn’t voice her recognition, but when she heard Qi Qiqi’s suspicion, she made the “Older Sister Qi is really smart” expression. This should be a tacit approval of Qi Qiqi’s words.
As for Xue Qilin, when she recalled Gong Tianyang’s display yesterday at noon, she realized that Gong Tianyang must have planned this beforehand. Otherwise, he would not have asked Xue Qilin to change her clothes and hairstyle and deliberately hide her breath.
Therefore, Xue Qilin is all but certain that Gong Tianyang deliberately feigned an opening in other to hoodwink the other party. With Xue Qilin as the hook, he played the role of the bait.
But, Gong Tianyang smiled and denied it.
“No, Older Sister Xue, you’re wrong. That wasn’t my idea.”
With an “ah”, Xue Qilin was taken aback.
“Then, I thought too highly of you?”
“Yes. The person who came up with the idea was — didn’t you just ask how I knew Older Sister Shui? Yesterday, Older Sister Shui visited my place early in the morning and gave me this idea.”
“What?” Xue Qilin was stunned, “It was Little Yun?”
Shui Yun’er’s gentle face flashed in her mind at once.
Did she plan everything? Xue Qilin doesn’t know how to react. Her first thought was, “impossible”. She didn’t feel like Shui Yun’er is the mastermind behind the scenes type. But, when she thought some more about it — since Shui Yun’er is smart, it would not be surprising if she came up with such a plan.
Would she feel unhappy because she was used by Shui Yun’er? Xue Qilin has no such thought. After all, she has a large tolerance regarding people she likes.
“It seems that Older Sister Xue is surprised.”
As if he got away with a prank, Gong Tianyang smirked at Xue Qilin.
“Er, a little!”
Xue Qilin scratched her head awkwardly.
Then, she grinned complacently.
“Tsk tsk, as expected of my apprentice, Little Yun is really capable!”
“Yes.” Gong Tianyang sighed, then asked faintly, “Older Sister Xue, are you proud?”
“Proud of what?”
His question was a bit abrupt, so it took her a bit of time to understand.
“If you’re asking me if I’m proud of Little Yun, then of course I’m proud!”
Xue Qilin answered without hesitation.
Shui Yun’er is smart, exceptionally talented, and naturally kindhearted, how could Xue Qilin not like her and be proud of her?
Looking like he saw through Xue Qilin’s attitude, Gong Tianyang showed an expression of envy. But, who is he envious of?
“That’s good. I also want to be someone who can make grandfather and father proud.”
When he spoke, ripples of desolation rose in his eyes.
Thinking about it, he really wants to respond to all the expectations that have been placed on him — Xue Qilin thought so to herself. She wanted to say something to comfort the other party. But, when the words reach her throat, they got stuck, unable to come out.
She didn’t know what to say. Could she comfort him by saying, “your illness will be cured”? Putting aside whether he can be cured or not, Xue Qilin doesn’t want to give him hope. Besides, Gong Tianyang must have already heard similar words hundreds of times. Whether she adds to this count or not, what does it matter?
In the end, what came out was just —
“There’s a chance…”
These words were powerless and wan.
Who knows if he felt Xue Qilin’s helplessness or not, but Gong Tianyang curled his lips into a faint smile.