Wolf's Temptation - 20
This Isn’t Running Together, It’s Kiting
(TN: The literal translation of this chapter would have been “This Isn’t Flying Doves, It’s Flying a Kite”. Which, well it makes no sense in English. The kiting it is referring to is gaming slang where one person plows ahead at full speed in-game and leaves the other person barely or unable to keep up. I changed it a bit to make more sense, hopefully, I managed to get the right meaning across.)
Lang Jiu’s words made Xu Bei freeze in place for a long pause. Lang Jiu was a man with the sense of humor of a brick wall. At the very least for now at the present stage, he theoretically wouldn’t know what humor was if it hit him in the face.
Xu Bei’s footfalls came to a sudden halt, the area encompassing them was deathly silent, the snowflakes fell down ever so gently.
This time, the point of exit he chose was a fairly unconventional one. The old housing around here was very much so devastatingly ancient, making it quite a tragic sight to burden your eyes with. Every single one of these houses has been lived in and many already lay uninhabited. It was so extremely silent that even the slightest sound could be heard.
Xu Bei listened carefully for a long time yet found nothing abnormal.
“What wolf… you…”
“Smell.” Lang Jiu interrupted Xu Bei for the first time, looking a bit on edge.
Xu Bei was just on the verge of saying aren’t you a wolf, did you sniff out your own scent and start speaking without putting that brain of yours to use? But Lang Jiu suddenly squatted down and placed his hand on the snowy ground as if he was feeling for something.
This action caused Xu Bei’s hair to stand on end for no discernable reason. He felt a nagging itch on his back, he regretted not bringing a blade along with him when he stepped out.
Before suffering his injuries, Xu Bei’s favorite knife was something a friend of his who worked at a papermaking mill gave him a hand with. The edge of the paper cutting knife was more than 20 centimeters long, sharpening it against the steel high-speed rotary, it was abnormally sharp.
His friend told him to slice a fly midair, so long as it was a successful hit, it was guaranteed to cut it clean in half. However, this knife was very brittle and would snap at the slightest misuse of force. Xu Bei took a long time to adapt to it, but it was unfortunately lost in the midst of the chaos when Ban Datong chased him in Beiling.
“What do you smell?” Xu Bei crouched down beside Lang Jiu and touched Lang Jiu’s hand. Despite bracing his hand down on the frosty ground, it still held a nice warmth to it even on such a cold day.
When Lang Jiu withdrew his hand, a small section of snow had melted from underneath the hollow of his palm. He turned his head to look at Xu Bei, a gleam of confusion flashed through the pupils of his eyes: “No more.”
“You smelled another wolf and then it went away, is that right?”
Xu Bei stood up. He had no doubt about Lang Jiu’s sense of smell. It was just the thought of another wolf appearing in a maze-like place such as Spider Lane was a bit too outlandish for him.
“Let’s hurry up and get out of here, be quick.” Xu Bei gave a kick to Lang Jiu’s rear. No matter what this was all about, in short, if Lang Jiu said it was true, leaving this place was way better than standing around like a moron. Regardless of whether the other party is a person or a wolf, a moving target is still a bit harder to get a hit on.
But Lang Jiu still seemed to be a tad bit transfixed by the scent that disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared, Xu Bei’s tenseness and nervousness didn’t seem to impart themselves onto him. He stood up very slowly, then asked: “Be quick?”
“What nonsense are you going on about.” Xu Bei tugged Lang Jiu’s hand and started running.
On the last day of this lunar year, midday afternoon, the two of them started running through the dilapidated alleyway hand in hand against the falling snow that blanketed the skies. As Xu Bei ran through the snow stumbling from side to side, the thought crossed his mind that this may be the most memorable and meaningful New Year’s Eve of his entire life.
After Lang Jiu was pulled into running for a short while, he suddenly flipped his hand around and grabbed Xu Bei’s arm. Xu Bei only felt his sight blur before him, then the grip on his arm tightened and Lang Jiu ran in front of him and began to pick up the pace.
In an instant, Xu Bei felt that the gusts of the old north wind seemed to steal an increasing amount of air from his lungs, it felt like a blade slashing his face. The blasts of wind blew a length of his collar open and crept inside, running its way through his whole body and letting its coldness seep through him before blasting out of his pant leg.
The crux of the matter was that the wind and falling snow blocked off his mouth and kept him from being able to open it. There was no chance for him to call out to stop. He felt that he was running in tandem with the wind, the heels of his feet continuously slammed into his rear, yet he was still unable to keep up with Lang Jiu’s speed.
Xu Bei’s heart was pounding, even the fact that his eyes were closed wasn’t of any concern, it was like his heart was being pulled apart and his eyes being pulled down shut.
In fact, Lang Jiu really hadn’t run for a long time, it was just like two or three minutes. When he stopped, Xu Bei ran right into him, bringing along with him tremendous inertia, he then held his other arm out at his stomach to act as a blockade. Such a strange impact made four words fill Xu Bei’s brain— Seeking a quick death.
He didn’t seem to have any feeling at all left in his legs and whatever the case, it wasn’t like there was any strength left in them. After futilely slipping a few times on the snow, he gave up and simply latched on to Lang Jiu and began to pant heavily.
Lang Jiu’s breath wasn’t even irregular and he steadily continued to hold Xu Bei’s waist with his arms. Xu Bei felt very awkward. This kid couldn’t even hold a person, it was just like he was carrying a woven bag.
“Fuck… you fucking kited me…” Xu Bei took in huge mouthfuls of air for a long time before his strength slowly came back to him, he grabbed Lang Jiu’s clothes and stood himself upright, massaging his aching arm.
“You said be quick.” Lang Jiu touched his arm and casually squeezed it a few times. At first glance, it was just as if he had been self-taught with no set method. Fortunately, his strength was still pretty suitable.
“That wasn’t the kind of quick I was going for,” Xu Bei looked around. It took a long while to discern which way the exit was from here. “If I had weighed another ten pounds less, Laozi would have been air-dried by the time you stopped.”
“Air-dried.” Lang Jiu repeated.
“Let me tell you, my son, the way our bodies are structured are definitely different, even though we seem to be about the same on the surface level,” Xu Bei led Lang Jiu to the street with his legs still jellified, “What you can endure may not necessarily be something I too could endure. Don’t act so impulsively next time, at the very least give your Dad a chance to call for help…”
There was nowhere to shop around on New Year’s Eve, especially this kind of small northern town. After the sun began to sink, except for some stalls selling fireworks and firecrackers, all of the shops closed and even the pedestrians on the road were in a hurry to get home.
This is the reunion of many households, Xu Bei stretched his body out and fished out a cigarette to light up.
He hated celebrating the New Year, the feelings of loneliness and emptiness that lay deep within the recesses of his heart rise up and spill out especially around this time of year.
Although all of their wallets would grow a bit heavier, for him, there was nothing special about it. He differed from other “specialists” at this point. He had never laid a hand on money pertaining to the Spring Festival.
As for why even he himself was unclear.
“I’m taking you out to play, son,” Xu Bei said in a tone laden with the holiday blues, “We’ll go play an arcade game, your Dad hasn’t gone to go play one in quite a while.”
Xu Bei bought a huge heap of fireworks from a vendor’s stall on the roadside, put them in a bag, and handed them to Lang Jiu. He planned to find a place to drink some Laobaigan and set off the firecrackers in the evening.
(TN: A kind of alcohol, a highly renowned one.)
It suddenly came to his mind that every year he had been celebrating all in his lonesome…
This year, he has a companion.
There were quite a lot of people in the arcade. The various sounds of music and people talking assaulted Lang Jiu’s senses the moment he stepped through the door. He turned around and walked out.
“Lazybones,” Xu Bei dragged him, “Following after like a baby duck and living the life of… a boring, dull person…”
Lang Jiu wrinkled his brows and covered his ears: “Noisy.”
“You’ll get used to it after a minute, it’s only going to get nosier from this point on,” Xu Bei dragged him over to the sales counter and bought three hundred tokens. He knew that Lang Jiu’s hearing was too fine-tuned and the sounds in the arcade hall would be a bit too loud for him, so he took him to an area with fewer people, “Let’s go play something stupid, there aren’t as many people over here.”
The so-called stupid thing is “spot the difference”.
Xu Bei once played through a whole night in an arcade playing spot the difference. Ever since then, he feels the urge to vomit every time he sees the two words “spot” and “difference”, but this thing is a good entry-level game and is fairly suitable for Lang Jiu.
He pushed Lang Jiu down onto the chair and told him how to play. Lang Jiu listened quietly, with one hand propped up against the machine supporting his chin and softly thrumming his fingers with the other.
“You got it?” Xu Bei pressed start.
“En.” Lang Jiu didn’t seem to be too interested in this thing and lazily began to tap the screen with his finger.
Xu Bei was about to tell him that you don’t just mindlessly fucking jab your fingers around the screen but soon discovered that Lang Jiu wasn’t poking randomly. Every poke of his was a hit. He was suddenly overcome with happiness: “I can’t make head or tail out of it, ah, you’re better than your Dad! If you can keep this up, you can beat the high score.”
“Beat the high score.” Lang Jiu repeated.
Xu Bei sat down in front of a machine off to the side and tossed in some tokens but did not start playing.
He had a bad feeling in his gut ever since coming out of Spider Lane. He constantly felt that there was someone, somewhere watching them, but he had looked over several times by now without any prior tells and failed to see anything abnormal.
He was very confident in his intuition. Although he didn’t see anyone, he believed that it wasn’t just him overthinking. Now whether this feeling had anything to do with Lang Jiu’s saying that there was another wolf before, he wasn’t certain.
Xu Bei pulled out his Zippo lighter from his pocket and struck down, the glossy sheen of the lighter reflected the space behind him.
After what looked like him flicking the switch a few times in boredom, a figure appeared on the mirror reflection. There were not many people coming and going behind them, but those that were would come and go in a flash, but this dark silhouette always kept a few meters away from them.
Xu Bei moved his finger and flicked the lighter shut, he slowly put it in his pocket and then violently whipped his head around.
Coinciding with the turn of his head, a man turned around and strode over towards the fire exit at the back, leaving only the view of his retreating figure.
“Son, you stay here and wait for me,” Xu Bei patted Lang Jiu’s shoulder. “I’m going to buy some drinks… Don’t go anywhere until I come back, do you understand me?”
“En,” Lang Jiu glanced at him, his hand still tapping on the screen, “Understood.”
When Xu Bei turned his head to leave, he hesitated once more: “If I don’t come back after a very long time… Take a look at that clock. If the big hand has moved five ticks over and I still haven’t come back, you need to go back home by yourself and wait for me.”
Lang Jiu’s hand paused for a moment, and he suddenly grabbed Xu Bei who was just about to head over to the fire exit: “Won’t go.”
“Do as you are told, behave yourself and stay, just listen to what I said, okay?” Xu Bei swatted Lang Jiu’s hand off and went out looking.
This person isn’t one of Ban Datong’s people. Xu Bei can be sure of that, he has dealt with Ban Datong for so long that he is practically on the brink of becoming acquaintances with those who serve under him, but he has never seen such a person before.
This person gave Xu Bei an odd feeling. Even though he knows full well that in going over that he may very well be opening the door to misfortune, he cannot help but want to get to the bottom of the matter.
Down the fire escape is a department-store parking lot. Xu Bei descended two flights of stairs and pushed open the big iron gate to enter the parking lot. The iron gate creaked and groaned as it slowly closed behind him. In lieu of the clang of the gates, his surroundings sunk into a deathly stillness.
There were only three cars in the parking lot, all parked to the side, the whole parking lot seemed to be desolate and stifling.
Right in the center of it all stood a man.
Xu Bei stopped walking forward. He did not intend to stray too far from the gate. There was an iron chain on one side of the gate. If there was anything unexpected, he could rush back in time and even lock the gate if he moved fast enough.
This man watched Xu Bei entering and didn’t so much as move an inch from where he stood.
Xu Bei couldn’t make his appearance out clearly. The man was wearing a beanie and had it pulled down very low. The scarf that was wrapped tightly around him obstructed the view of the bottom half of his face. He could only see that he was quite tall, he must’ve been more than half his size.
“Bro, you’ve been keeping a close eye on us for quite a while now,” Xu Bei saw that the man didn’t intend to start the conversation, so he had to take the lead in the opening remarks. “Now start talking, what’s this all about.”
The man didn’t make a sound and slowly walked over to him.
Xu Bei knew he didn’t have a knife on him, but he still habitually placed his hand onto his waist.
This movement stopped the man in his tracks, but he still didn’t open his mouth. He merely fixed his gaze on Xu Bei’s face, his stare was so intense that he felt as if it would soon bore a pair of holes straight through his face.
“Alright then, I’m leaving. Laozi is rather busy.” He said, ready to turn around and beat it out of here.
This is the second person Xu Bei has seen that could move at this speed except for Lang Jiu.
A black shadow flashed right before his eyes, and at the same time, he saw a pair of stone blue eyes. Without waiting for any reaction from him, he felt a tightness wrap around his neck and his arm being twisted around and held to his back.
Xu Bei was not very shocked by the fact that in the duration of the blink of an eye he found himself unable to move, there was only one thought coursing through his mind.
This is the other wolf that Lang Jiu spoke of.
“How much do you know.” The person’s voice came from behind Xu Bei’s ears, which made Xu Bei more or less surprised, he suffered a small undue shock to his heart. Yo. This person says way more words than Lang Jiu.
“With you squeezing so hard,” Xu Bei struggled to move his head, “I’ll be strangled to death before I can respond.”
“How much do you know.” The man loosened his grip and repeated what he had just said.
Xu Bei took in a breath and slowly spat out: “I don’t understand what you’re saying… I get cerebral ischemia when I’m spooked…”
(TN: Blood flow to the brain gets cut off.)
Such an answer obviously very much dissatisfied the person behind him. Xu Bei only felt his vision grow dim and blurred, his neck was squeezed and he was thrown up against the wall. With this person pressing him up against the partition, Xu Bei very much felt like he resembled a dumpling skin being flung at a wall.
He can now clearly see the person in front of him. Although he can only see the eyes and the upper bridge of his nose, those dusty blue eyes are enough for Xu Bei to recognize him at a glance the next time they meet, that is, if there will be a next time.
“How much do you know about the Arctic wolf.” The movement of the man’s hand was quite ruthless, yet the words he spoke from start to finish maintained the same quickness and he persistently carried on asking the same question.
Xu Bei’s head shot around. He didn’t know what this person had to do with Lang Jiu. He could only determine that they probably belong to the same species. Looking at Lang Jiu’s reaction from before, he obviously didn’t know about there being another wolf…
Nothing can be said until he knows more about the man in front of him.
This was Xu Bei’s final verdict.
“Why don’t you take a guess?” Xu Bei smiled, thinking to himself that he was courting death.
(TN: AN below!)
Oh, would you look at that, this wolf is not Lord Soy Sauce… and he really isn’t Lin Rui, hehe
(TN: Buying soy sauce is a saying meaning that you were just out minding your business/it’s nothing to you, so the author is saying this character isn’t just thrown in here for shits and giggles.)
What are you still playing for, Huhu… Your Laozi is gonna get killed!