When God Says Let There Be LightChapters List
Chapter 6: Qian-Ge
Amidst the lively chaos outside, with the sounds of fighting, people's shadows intertwining and moving about, the two figures standing at the back of this narrow alley enjoyed a rare moment of tranquility. Not a word was spoken between Xia Yi and Nie Qingzhou.
Nie Qingzhou, with a lollipop in his mouth and his golden hair partly obscuring his eyes, furrowed his brow as if deep in thought.
When the siren of a police car sounded in the distance, the shadows on the wall scattered like frightened birds and animals. Xia Yi took a step away from the wall, as if intending to leave.
Finally, Nie Qingzhou broke the silence.
"Can I borrow your phone?" he asked Xia Yi.
Perhaps because 'The mouth that eats the food of others is softened', Xia Yi took out her phone and handed it to him without much hesitation.
Nie Qingzhou lowered his head and entered a series of numbers on her phone. Then he handed it back to her. "This is my aunt's number. I want to ask you a favor. If I haven't returned home by eleven tonight, please call my aunt and ask her to fish me out from the New Century Bathhouse."
Xia Yi took the phone, and its soft blue glow illuminated her eyes as she gazed at Nie Qingzhou.
"I feel like I can't go on like this. I need to settle things with Qian-Ge," Nie Qingzhou explained.
For a moment, Xia Yi hesitated, her finger hovering over the delete key. But then her finger firmly pressed on it, and the number that Nie Qingzhou had just entered, disappeared.
"This is your business," she refused decisively.
Nie Qingzhou froze.
She said faintly, "We're not familiar, you should ask your friends."
Nie Qingzhou was choked. He thought that "Nie Qingzhou" did have some friends here, but every single one of them was unfamiliar and unreliable to him.
This place he found himself in, the only person he was truly familiar with, or the only one he thought he knew, was Xia Yi, whom he had only seen on screens before. This Xia Yi seemed colder, stronger, and more immature than what he knew, but he still felt like she was the person he knew.
He had watched countless interviews of her, attended her concerts, and his cousin had stuffed him with all the information about her.
But he couldn't explain any of this to her.
So he could only smile and say, "You're right. I'm sorry for bothering you."
Surprised by his politeness and good-natured response, Xia Yi glanced at him, pocketed her phone, and brushed past the crates, heading towards the now quiet street. Nie Qingzhou watched her coldly retreating figure and let out a long sigh.
Since he managed to survive ten years and still intact without missing any arm or leg, there probably shouldn't be any serious problems today.
Zhang Qian, whom "Nie Qingzhou" worked for, was known as "Qian-Ge" and was a local figure involved in both legal and illicit activities. He ran a "New Century Bathhouse" in the prime downtown area of Changchuan City, and that's where Zhang Qian's real power lay. "Nie Qingzhou" was agile and experienced, acting as an obedient knife for him, so Zhang Qian quite liked him. Though there were several layers between him and Zhang Qian in the hierarchy, Qian-Ge would often look out for him.
Zhang Qian was a significant source of extra income for "Nie Qingzhou."
His parents and aunt had some vague sense that he was hanging out with some social youths, but they had no clear idea of who he was associating with and to what extent. If they knew that he was highly valued within this organization, and there were even signs of grooming, they would probably go crazy, raise their voices and blood pressure, expressing anger and concern.
Standing beneath the golden neon lights of the "New Century Bathhouse," Nie Qingzhou listened to the cheerful music emanating from inside and observed the lively guests around him. Yet, he couldn't find any ease in his heart.
Having grown up in a completely different environment, he had never encountered such organizations before, and this was his first time facing a living crime boss. Since coming here, in just two short days, he had experienced more than he had in the past two to three years.
This kid had a very colorful life in high school.
The predecessor's life was colorful and the latter hung up, showing a bleak future.
Nie Qingzhou sighed deeply, took a deep breath, and walked into the bathhouse.
"Nie Qingzhou" had already made a name for himself here. When the security guards heard that he wanted to see Qian-Ge, they notified him, and he followed them through the steam and heat waves, winding his way through the smoky haze until he reached a VIP room that was luxuriously carpeted and exuded an air of grandeur. Zhang Qian was lying on the bed, getting a shoulder and neck massage. He was about forty years old, with a large blue and red figure of a tiger tattooed on his back, his body was slightly fatter, and he squinted his eyes as if he was in a good mood.
"What's up? Is this about Qian Fengyang?" Zhang Qian asked leisurely, thinking that Nie Qingzhou had come because of the earlier siege at night.
With no turning back now, some of the nervousness faded away. Nie Qingzhou took a few steps forward and got straight to the point, saying, "Qian Fengyang isn't worth me seeking Qian-Ge. I'm here to apologize to you, I want to quit."
Zhang Qian's squinted eyes opened. He seemed a little surprised, but not very surprised. He waved lazily for the person who was giving him a massage to stop, sat up and put on his coat.
"What's going on?" He asked lazily.
Nie Qingzhou recalled the tone and mannerisms of the original owner of his body and did his best to imitate. "Qian-Ge, I know saying that I was young, impulsive, and didn't think things through back then is just making excuses. I was determined to join, genuinely wanting to make a name for myself with you. I know you've taken good care of me. But when I went to the provincial capital to see my parents recently, I saw how difficult their lives were. They've sacrificed so much for me to get an education, and you know their line of work is quite dangerous. If they find out about my current situation, I'm afraid it will distract them at work and lead to trouble."
Zhang Qian lit a cigarette and said slowly, "Lao Zhao said you've been acting strange lately. Is it because of this?"
Nie Qingzhou nodded.
"So, you've made up your mind to study seriously?" Zhang Qian asked again.
Nie Qingzhou nodded again.
Zhang Qian looked at Nie Qingzhou for a while, through the steaming hot vapor. Suddenly, he laughed, "Back then, you were so determined to join, I knew you wouldn't stay with me for long. You're like my younger brother, smart in the head but too impulsive, always eager to be a hero, not interested in studying, and won't listen to advice."
Nie Qingzhou was sweating in the steam, clenching his fists, and said, "Qian-Ge, this is the first time I heard you mention your brother."
Zhang Qian exhaled a puff of smoke ring, and said lightly, "He died when he was a teenager."
Nie Qingzhou lowered his gaze.
"You have such a taciturn personality, that no matter how tortured, three strikes can't even beat out a silent fart. You must have rehearsed these lines for a long time, right? Well, alright, it's good that you've figured it out and want to go back to studying. Then study well," Zhang Qian flicked the ashes from his cigarette and didn't push him for anything. He pointed to the door, saying, "But my place isn't a revolving door where you can come and go as you please. If you really want to quit, you know what you have to do, right?"
Nie Qingzhou's hand loosened, and surprisingly, he felt a sense of calm in his heart. He looked up at Zhang Qian with a tranquil gaze and said, "I understand, come on."
At 10:55 that night, the sound of Nie Qingzhou's footsteps echoed in the small gray building. This time, his footsteps changed from the regular two-beat rhythm to a staggered pace, accompanied by occasional gasps, indicating that he was hurt badly.
He paused in the doorway for a moment, muttering as he pulled out his keys, "It's all dark, she's really asleep......"
The keys rattled, and then the sound of the door opening and closing followed.
The person whom Nie Qingzhou thought was already asleep, the mobile phone in her hand was currently lit up.
The blue light reflected in Xia Yi's eyes as she looked at the time and a series of numbers on the phone screen. Just a minute ago, her fingers were poised above the dial button.
In a drowsy voice, Grandma from the lower bunk asked, "Xia Xia... haven't you slept yet?"
"Just about to sleep."
She glanced at the ceiling and then silently turned off the phone, letting the soft blue light vanish into the thick darkness.
The next morning, Xia Yan pulled open the security door to the small store and shrieked, attracting all the people in the building to open their windows and see what was going on.
Only to see a young man with golden hair, wearing a white T-shirt collapsed in front of the steps on the first floor, his skin bruised and purplish, even showing some already blackened scars. The white T-shirt had already turned red around his shoulders due to blood stains.
Xia Yan's scream brought Grandma and Xia Yi rushing out. Grandma's face turned pale with fear as she grabbed Xia Yi and said anxiously, "Isn't this your classmate? This, this, this... I have to take this child to the hospital."
Xia Yi pulled back the anxious Grandma, who was about to hurry forward, "I'll take him to the hospital."
"You guys don't have any adults..."
"I have his parents' phone number."
Xia Yi was extremely proactive. She turned and pushed out the tricycle. Grandma and Xia Yan struggled to lift Nie Qingzhou, and after much effort, they managed to place him into the tricycle, but his long legs stuck out over the edge. Grandma, still worried, stuffed some money and her health insurance card into Xia Yi's hand, asking her to hurry and take Nie Qingzhou to the doctor.
As Xia Yi pedaled the tricycle, Nie Qingzhou slumped weakly against her back, and she could smell the scent of blood coming from him.
Riding forward led to a downhill section, and usually, Xia Yi would control her speed on this road. However, this time, she was going so fast it felt like they were about to take flight. The salty sea breeze rushed at them, diminishing the smell of blood, and it seemed like the hot body behind her was almost being carried away by the wind.
Xia Yi didn't look back; she just called his name.
"Um..." A faint and unclear voice came from behind, as if he wasn't quite awake.
"Who... are you?" he asked in a low voice.
"I'm Xia Yi."
"...Xia Yi... how could Xia Yi..." He muttered something unclear.
"Do you have any strength? Grab onto my clothes, we're turning soon," Xia Yi raised her voice.
There was no sound behind her. Just when Xia Yi thought that Nie Qingzhou had lost consciousness, a hand groped and moved upwards, grabbing the clothes on her side and slowly tightening its grip. Then came the other hand.
His hands were scorching hot, as if carrying sparks. His forehead pressed against her thin back, with his hot breath brushing against her.
As they turned quickly, his body swayed to the side, and one hand loosened, but it quickly clutched back again, and his forehead pressed against her back once more.
It was like an extremely obedient child who would follow instructions to the end.
When Xia Yi got him to the hospital, she had to use some effort to make him let go of her clothes and move him onto the bed. Nie Qingzhou's eyes were open, but the light in them seemed scattered, as if he had been burned a little silly.
Standing by the hospital bed, Xia Yi took out her phone and said, "I'm calling your aunt."
When he heard the word "aunt," Nie Qingzhou's eyes suddenly widened. It was unclear what thoughts ran through his mind that was boiled into a paste, he suddenly stretched out his hand and grabbed Xia Yi's sleeve, saying intermittently, "Don't... don't call her... don't..."
Frowning, Xia Yi tried to free herself, "She's your guardian."
"I'm begging you... please... don't call her..." Nie Qingzhou became anxious and persistently clung to her sleeve.
Watching his eyes turning red, Xia Yi finally closed her phone and turned to ask a nurse nearby, "Where do I register?"
His grip on her sleeve loosened, and with little strength left, he murmured, "Thank you..."
Before losing consciousness, he suddenly had an inexplicable thought: if he had said "please" yesterday, Xia Yi might have helped him.
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