Devil’s WarmthChapters List
Chapter 20: Pei Unhappy
In the spring of March, the willow branches sprouted. Bei Yao walked beside Pei Chuan and whispered to him, "I'll tell you a secret."
"My mother is going to give me a little brother."
Pei Chuan was a little surprised and took a look at her.
The little girl's gait was as cheerful as that of a swallow chick, but her tone was lowered, "This month at the latest, my little brother will be born."
In 2004, the country had not yet opened the two-child policy, family planning was underway, and only one child was allowed in a family. The streets and alleys were posted with slogans, such as "Have fewer children, have a better life" and "A girl can also take the lead.”
Zhao Zhilan was pregnant with her second child in her thirties so she was a little embarrassed. However, when she saw her daughter's uncompromisingly happy appearance, she felt relieved and once again felt the joy of being a mother.
Zhao Zhilan once quietly consulted with Bei Licai, "Will Yaoyao think too much and will be unhappy?" Zhao Zhilan said.
"I don't think so." Bei Licai touched his wife's belly, "When this child grows up, he or she can share a lot of pressure for the elder sister.”
The couple rented a house outside and told the public that Zhao Zhilan went back to her natal family to visit relatives. Wait until the melon was ripe and the second child was born, then they would honestly register in the household registration and be fined.
Zhao Zhilan was already pregnant, and couldn't bear to abort the child. March of this year happened to be the season when Xiao Bei Jun was born.
Pei Chuan asked Bei Yao, "How do you know it’s a younger brother? What if it's a younger sister?"
Bei Yao thought she just knew it ah. She brushed the branch off her head, "I dreamt about it. And it doesn’t matter. If it’s my sister, I like her the same.”
"Do you want it to be born?"
Bei Yao nodded vigorously, her eyes were adorned with a gently expectant glow, and Pei Chuan frowned.
"Aren't you afraid that it will take away your parents' love?"
"Not afraid." She replied with a smile, "He and I have the same blood, we're family." She had memories of Xiao Bei Jun's downright cute and lovely appearance, and her heart softened as she remembered the unborn child.
The little girl asked him in joy, "Pei Chuan, do you want a younger sibling?"
Bei Yao asked this with a bit of apprehensive probing because she knew that when she went to high school, Pei Chuan's parents had already divorced. Pei Chuan's father had found him a stepmother, who brought a younger sister who was the same age as herself.
Bei Yao was not close to Pei Chuan in her previous life and had never known what attitude Pei Chuan had towards this sister.
"Don't want it." He replied faintly.
"Oh." Bei Yao's heart was worried thinking how hard that would be for him later.
Bei Yao returned home just in time to meet her father taking some daily necessities to go out.
Bei Licai: "Yaoyao is back, I'm going to see your mom."
"Can I go with you? I've finished my homework."
"Let's go, I will close the door."
Bei Licai had also bought a motorcycle two years ago, and the Pei family's motorcycle had already been replaced with a rather imposing car.
Bei Yao sat on her father's motorcycle, the wind was softly blowing on her cheeks. Today was Friday, the 24th of March. Tomorrow was the day Xiao Bei Jun was born, and he was born at two o'clock in the morning. Although Bei Yao knew this, her heart could not help but become nervous.
Zhao Zhilan, who was carrying a big belly, saw her daughter coming over from school and gently touched her head.
After the family finished dinner, Zhao Zhilan frowned, "The amniotic fluid has broken."
Bei Licai immediately said, "I'll take you to the hospital."
Fortunately, it was a second child, Zhao Zhilan doesn't panic at all, "You send Yaoyao back first. It's still early and hasn't started hurting yet." She turned to look at Bei Yao again, "Go back to sleep and come to the hospital tomorrow to see your mom and little brother or sister. Are you afraid to stay at home alone at night?"
Bei Yao shook her head and held Zhao Zhilan's hand encouragingly.
That night, Zhao Zhilan gave birth, and Bei Yao prayed in her room that everything would go well.
It rained at night. The strong wind blew the treetops, and the rain splashed everywhere and intermittent thunder sounded outside the window.
On the fourth floor across the street, a family farce was staged.
A week ago, a foreign high-end lipstick appeared in Jiang Wenjuan's purse.
Pei Chuan was the first to see that lipstick fell out of the bag. Jiang Wenjuan was flustered for a moment. Under her son's silent eyes, she picked it up in a panic and put it into her bag.
"Mom asked a colleague to bring it."
He obviously hadn't asked yet, and Jiang Wenjuan was so guilty that she made her own excuse.
Pei Chuan didn't say anything. Few people in this world could lie smoothly in front of him unless he was willing to tolerate such lies.
With a soft "hmm", he pushed the wheelchair away. Until now, he still wanted a complete family.
But the paper can't wrap up the fire. Not long after, Jiang Wenjuan had a showdown with Pei Haobin on her own instead.
The light in the master bedroom was on. Jiang Wenjuan said, "Let's get divorced. I'm in love with another man. He's a doctor in our hospital."
Pei Haobin, a brilliant criminal policeman, felt that the sky was going to fall when he was confronted with his wife's emotional infidelity. "Jiang Wenjuan! How could you do such a thing? Are you still worthy of being a wife, worthy of being a mother? If I hadn't found the text messages on your phone, were you going to make me a cuckolded bastard for the rest of my life!"
Jiang Wenjuan covered her face with tears, "I know. I'm sorry for you, I'm sorry for Xiao Chuan, but......" She paused and startlingly tears flowed through the corners of her mouth, "But who is to blame for all this? Since Xiao Chuan was four years old, I've been having nightmares all night when I sleep next to you. The dream was very bloody. I held a pair of severed legs and cried until my eyes went blind. And you were fighting against the darkness. I was screaming and crying but no one could save me."
The rain was torrential. Pei Chuan turned pale as he quietly listened from behind the door.
"They put Xiao Chuan's legs......in front of me." She covered her mouth and cried out, "You’ve succeeded in your career, and I’ve had nightmares for years. You are a good cop, but you are not a good father."
Jiang Wenjuan sneered, "I despaired. After that incident, whenever I saw Xiao Chuan, I remembered what a cold-blooded man his father was. He could give up his wife and children for his country. I dreamed of everything, the first time I had my hand cut off, the second time I had my ear cut off. After that, all I needed was the sight of Xiao Chuan’s stumps...... I......"
She cried and laughed, all the feelings she'd suppressed over the past few years in remorse and pain had all exploded.
"I'm even ...... I'm even afraid to see him, but he's my Xiao Chuan!" Jiang Wenjuan's face was full of tears, "It was Dr. Song who has been giving me psychological counseling for so many years. Whether you call me irresponsible or call me cheap, but I really don't want to live this nightmarish life anymore."
The strong wind blew off the potted plants on the windowsill, and the crisp sound was surprisingly scary in the night.
Pei Haobin dejectedly slumped by the window and wiped his hand on his face. Tears seeped from the man's finger, "I'm sorry."
Jiang Wenjuan wailed, covering her face with the blanket, afraid that the cry would spread and alarm her son next door.
In the pitch darkness, Pei Chuan was holding a now turned cold cup of tea, originally brewed for Jiang Wenjuan.
His pupils didn't have a trace of color. It was a long time before he pushed the wheelchair to his room amidst the woman's suppressed cries.
In the dark night, Pei Chuan did not turn on the lights.
He groggily fumbled and climbed into bed and watched the lightning and thunder outside the window.
It turned out that those who couldn't stay would never stay. Even when she got panicked he secretly told himself to forgive his mother, everything would be fine.
But she was scared......
He closed his eyes and now it all occurred to him.
His mother couldn't even sleep well as long as he, a cripple, existed. How ridiculous.
Pei Chuan felt freezing cold. The world was quiet and brutally cold. His disability became his mother's nightmare. On the contrary, he was young and couldn't remember the pain clearly, what he remembered more were the complicated and sympathetic eyes.
He thought that even if he lost his legs, he would work hard to study, and would be obedient and sensible. In the future, by relying on his hands he would be able to make contributions to society, and can also become the pride of his parents like a child of any other family.
But it turned out that all this was useless. As long as he lived for one day, he would be a badge of shame in his father's life and a terrible nightmare for his mother.
The gale was fierce and was sounding like bitterly painful howls. The little wintersweet tree in the neighborhood, which only bloomed once, broke its branches and fell silent in the night.
On the 25th of March, a baby weighing seven catties was lying in swaddling clothes.
Bei Yao looked forward to it all night and was taken to the hospital by Bei Licai in the early morning. Bei Licai cheerfully said, "You guessed it right, it's really a boy." He was afraid that his daughter would misunderstand the family's preference for sons over daughters, so he quickly added, "When this boy grows up, let him be a bodyguard for our lovely Yao Yao."
Her crisp giggles spread with the morning breeze.
Xiao Bei Jun was wrapped in a small jacket that had been prepared long ago. He had to keep warm as the temperature had cooled down last night. Zhao Zhilan was lying on the bed in the gynecology and obstetrics department, and said with a smile, "Come and see your brother. He is sleeping beside me."
Bei Yao leaned over. The cheeks of the newly born baby were red and wrinkled. His face was only the size of half a palm and wasn’t looking a bit cute.
Yet his tiny nose was breathing hard. Every time he drew air, it showed the hard work and tenacity of the beginning of life.
Bei Yao gently looked at him and smiled.
"Mama, what's the name of my younger brother?"
"Your father and I discussed it before, and his name will be Bei Jun. Do you want to give him a nickname or something?"
Bei Yao’s almond eyes turned into crescents, "His name is quite good. It's good to protect the family and defend the country. His nickname is just fine with calling Junjun."
[T/N: 军 (jūn) in the name Bei Jun literally means military, army, or troops.]
Zhao Zhilan said with a smile, "I think so too."
An extra child in the family was a great joy for the Bei family, but it was also a huge burden. Bei Yao's grandmother came over to help take care of the baby as well as wash the diapers. In the small ward, the whole family was busy around the new life.
In 2004, there were very few families that could afford to have diapers. Most of the Bei family's money had been lent to the uncle who had hit someone. It's hard to say which year the money could be recovered. So, Xiao Bei Jun could only wear diapers that were repeatedly washed. The diapers were repeatedly washed with hot water, basked in the sun, disinfected and dried, and then continued to use.
Zhao Zhilan didn't have much milk, so when Bei Jun would get older, he might have to drink milk powder.
Bei Yao also helped take care of her brother, and within a few days, Zhao Zhilan came back to the rented room after being discharged from the hospital.
Both Zhao Zhilan and Bei Licai pondered and decided to wait for the child to get a little older before going home.
On the birth of the second child, parents were to be fined tens of thousands of yuan. So in this way, the expenses were simply unimaginable.
Bei Licai guiltily said, "Yaoyao, I can't buy you new clothes this summer. Wait until next summer, when Daddy gets paid he will buy you new clothes, okay?"
Bei Yao carried her backpack and shook her head with a smile, "Doesn't Cousin Cang have some old clothes? They are all nice and new, so I'll be fine with hers. My brother is small, he needs to buy better clothes. By the way, summer is almost here, so I need to buy him prickly heat powder."
Bei Licai patted her daughter on the shoulder with pity.
Bei Yao knew that her parents were not patriarchal, so she didn't mind at all. She briskly walked to the school, wanting to quietly share the birth of her brother with her good friends.
When Bei Yao arrived in the classroom, Pei Chuan was already there.
The morning light was faintly reflecting on the young man's cold and pale face. Even though Bei Yao hadn't spoken to him yet, she felt the chill of his loneliness. It was like a traveler standing in a snowstorm for two days and two nights, so cold that there was no trace of warm and welcoming aura.
When Bei Yao saw that he was wearing thin clothes, she unzipped her bag and took out her pink water cup, and placed it on his table.
Pei Chuan and Bei Yao were both diligent people. When they arrived, there were only a few students sitting scattered in the classroom.
Pei Chuan heard the noise, and only then did he put his unfocused eyes on her water cup.
She was closing the zipper of her bag. Bei Yao didn't know what happened to him, but her tone was as gentle and warm as the morning greetings, "It's not summer yet so you need to wear more in the morning. There's hot water in the cup, you warm your hands."
Hesitantly, he reached out and held her pink glass of water.
The heat was transmitted all the way up from his fingertips, and his cold fingers felt conscious. There was a beaming Winnie-the-Pooh on her cup. He looked at it and softly asked her, "Has your brother been born yet?"
"Yeah!" She whispered close to his ear, "I guessed it right. It's a brother, not a sister. He's very small."
The young girl's voice rippled with joy. Her breath still smelled of sweet breakfast milk with an aroma of blooming lilacs.
"Pei Chuan, do you want to come with me to see him after school?"
"No." He whispered, "Give this to him."
Pei Chuan put a bracelet in her hand.
Bei Yao blankly stared at the small silver bracelet in her hand. It was a smooth bracelet worn by the babies, with two small silver bells on it. It felt cold and heavy in her palm.
If it wasn't for this heavyweight, Bei Yao would have thought it was a replica of the toy bracelet in the snack bar.
Bei Yao felt hot. It was the first time in her life that she had seen such valuable jewelry, she hopped close to him and whispered, "You... Where did you get so much money to buy...buy this?"
"Why do you care so much about it?" He said quietly, "Give it to your brother." Weren’t you looking forward to his birth?
Bei Yao didn't dare to take it. She was stunned silly by this sterling silver bracelet. In the era of 50 cents for a pack of spicy sticks and 50 cents for a popsicle, how expensive would this little silver bracelet be?
Pei Chuan saw her at a loss for words and said indifferently, "Just tell your mother that my father bought it."
"I don't want this. Pei Chuan, you take it back."
"If you don't want it then just throw it away." With an unruffled tone, he let go of her glass of water. It was as if it wasn't a valuable bracelet, but an inconspicuous piece of trash.
How could Bei Yao dare to throw it? She sadly sat back in her seat and secretly felt the heavy silver bracelet in her coat pocket.
Pei Chuan didn't look back to see how the little girl was tangled up. He opened the book, but couldn't read it. Pei Chuan was slightly distracted.
His parents had decent jobs, and the colleague uncles and aunts were all well-off. Therefore, Pei Chuan had a lot of pocket money every year. He had been saving for almost ten years, but there was nowhere to use the money. He had the savings figure that all the children could not even imagine.
However, he never gave anything to Bei Yao.
He dropped his eyes quietly. Never since he was five.
He didn’t give anything when he was young, because he was ignorant at that time. However, when he grew up, he understood that he couldn't give it away. Shang Mengxian had taught him a profound lesson. Anything with beautiful color, once contaminated with the name "Pei Chuan", would become dirty and humiliating.
Every year, Bei Yao prepared a gift for him. Sometimes it was in the form of a peace knot, sometimes a boy's toy gun, or a pillow made by herself.
The gift he was supposed to give her had been saving for years, and it ended up being a bracelet for her little baby brother.
The bracelet without any color will not be criticized, nor will it tarnish her reputation. She doesn't even understand or think much about it.
After school, Pei Chuan still left without waiting for Bei Yao.
Bei Yao looked at the back of the teenager drifting away. She could not tell whether he was in a bad mood or not. He grew up year after year, and the "Pei Unhappy" became the more incomprehensible "Pei Deep". She didn't even know how to understand what was happening to him and how to comfort him.
[T/N: 裴深沉 (péi shēnchén) - shēnchén means deep and profound, concealing real feelings, reserved]
Bei Yao went home and thought for a while. She took out the postcard that cousin Xiao Cang gave her and wrote it quietly.
Are you sure you're okay?
Anything on your mind?"
[T/N: Postcard was written in English not Chinese]
Bei Yao wrote ‘Receiver - Pei Chuan’ on the cover of the letter paper. Then she went downstairs to the opposite side and dropped it into the green mailbox at Pei Chuan's house.
Ever since the incident with Shang Mengxian, no matter what mood Pei Chuan had, he would not reveal it in front of her. It was as if he had grown up all of a sudden, and the young girl who was supposed to protect him couldn't keep up with his growth speed.
Bei Yao was afraid that he would be sad. She didn't know the reason, so she could only think of all the clumsy ways to get close to the indifferent teenager. Now when she asked him with simple words, if he was unwilling to answer, it could be regarded as an ordinary English practice game, which would not embarrass him. Bei Yao hoped to receive a reply from him at her own dusty mailbox. She knows that he will go to the mailbox to get the ordered fresh milk every day.
However, until the end of spring, Bei Yao didn't receive a reply from Pei Chuan. Instead, Xiao Bei Jun had grown up a little. He was no longer red and wrinkled and has become pink and cute.
The letter was locked into a box by Pei Chuan. There were all sorts of strange things in the box, from the yellowing bamboo dragonfly to the letter from March. All of which were pressed by him at the bottom of the box, becoming everything that must be ignored and forgotten.
Although Jiang Wenjuan and Pei Haobin hadn’t divorced yet, their family relationship had already reduced to a freezing point.
There were several times when Jiang Wenjuan saw Pei Chuan and opened her mouth to say something. But in the end, she didn't say anything. Instead, she smiled and asked him how he was doing in school and which high school he wanted to study in the future.
Although Pei Chuan didn't know the outcome of their final discussion, it was easy to guess that they planned to wait for him to finish his high school entrance examination before telling him about the divorce.
A father who felt guilty about him, a mother who would have nightmares when she saw him. Had they also had their last moments of consideration for him? Everyone was trying their best to put together the illusion of perfection, so Pei Chuan also joined in the drama.
However, he knew that his heart was freezing cold and became a bottomless abyss.
In August Jiang Wenjuan moved out to live. She tucked her hair behind the ear and said to her son, "Mom is going on a business trip and will be back in a while. You study hard. Is there anything you want as a present?"
"No, have a safe trip."
Jiang Wenjuan grew a little flustered at her son's calm, deep gaze, yet she pretended and walked away as if nothing had happened.
Pei Chuan knew that she couldn't wait to throw herself into her "happiness".
After Jiang Wenjuan had left, Pei Chuan stayed still for a long time and then returned to his room. He pressed the red button in his hand, and the sound of buzzing came from the headphones.
The man's laughing voice came out, "What took you so long?"
Jiang Wenjuan replied, "I have to explain to my son that I have to go for a long time. I told him that I'm going on a business trip."
"You can't do that, you have to tell him the truth."
"I know, but isn't he about to take his high school entrance examination? I have discussed it with Pei Haobin. We have decided to talk about it after he finishes the exam."
"Then ......" the man's voice was hesitant, "Who will your son go with after the divorce?"
There was a long silence on the other end.
Pei Chuan coldly pressed the end button, then he destroyed the tapping machine button. For the first time, he hated himself for having such a talent for electronic technology. He held out one last glimmer of hope that Jiang Wenjuan was really going on a business trip. But his mother still abandoned him when he hadn't fully grown up.
These crippled, nightmare-inducing limbs of his were never to be seen by anyone again in this life.
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