Your Distance - 30
Carefully counting back the days, Ting Shuang hadn’t seen Zhu Ao in almost four years.
He was probably in his second year of high school when he booked a room with Liang Zhengxuan for the first time. Without thinking much, he’d swiped the card that he usually used, just like when he usually went shopping. The payment details were recorded, and their ID records were also in there, so it was just too easy to track.
Zhu Ao had asked someone to track it, but after that, he didn’t say anything.
It wasn’t until Ting Shuang came home during summer vacation that Zhu Ao called him to the study and placed a printed form in front of him: the date he had booked the room on, the hotel, the card that he’d swiped… Even Liang Zhengxuan’s ID number and the times they had checked in and checked out. Everything was printed clearly.
“Are you looking to improve your quality of life? Why, is the school dormitory uncomfortable?” Zhu Ao raised his eyes and asked him.
That was him giving Ting Shuang a graceful way to back out of the situation. As long as Ting Shuang didn’t admit it, and as long as Ting Shuang didn’t take this relationship seriously, Zhu Ao would close one eye and let it pass.
Who hadn’t goofed around when they were young?
But Ting Shuang wasn’t goofing around, he was serious.
“You were keeping tabs on me? You looked into even these kinds of things?” He squeezed the piece of paper tightly, “This is my own business, what does it have to do with you?”
“What does it have to do with me?” Zhu Ao was so angry he laughed, “If you don’t want me to care about what you do, sure. Just put the card on the table and get out of here.”
Ting Shuang glared at Zhu Ao, took his wallet out from his pocket, took out his ID card, then threw the wallet, in which were all his cards and cash, on the table.
His watch was bought by Zhu Ao…
He took it off and threw it onto the table.
His belt was also bought using Zhu Ao’s money…
He undid it and threw it onto the table.
The slippers on his feet belonged to the family. Although he didn’t know who bought them, they must have been bought with Zhu Ao’s money…
He firmly kicked it to the side.
Ting Shuang looked down and evaluated himself. Luckily, the clothes he was wearing were bought by his mother, otherwise he would have to go out naked.
He turned around, and went out barefoot.
From behind him, Zhu Ao shouted, “Ting Shuang, do you want to anger me to death? Put your shoes on!”
“Who wants your rotten shoes!” Ting Shuang roared while rushing outside. When he raised his eyes, he happened to meet those of Zhu Wenjia’s mother. He was a little embarrassed, “Um… aunt, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean you, I meant the shoes, um, the slippers.”
Weng Yunyi choked slightly before tipping up the corners of her lips, “You’re eating at home today? Lil’ Jia will be back in a while. You brothers can eat together.”
“Thank you aunt, but I won’t be eating.” Ting Shuang nodded politely to Weng Yunyi, then turned back to shout towards the study. “I didn’t pay for the food and I can’t afford the food here.”
After he finished speaking, he scrammed from the house.
After that, if there was anything that he had to take from home, such as his high school certificate, he got Zhu Wenjia to help him take them. He really didn’t step into the house since then, and never used a single penny of Zhu Ao’s.
The first year, he never went home, nor did he call home.
The second year, he recalled his actions in the study at that time, and felt childish. He also thought it was a little funny, so in the evening of that New Year’s Eve, he called Zhu Ao to wish him a happy new year.
Father and son chatted a little, and neither mentioned Liang Zhengxuan nor the quarrel they had previously. Ting Shuang only talked about his studies and how he wanted to study abroad. His preparations were almost ready.
Zhu Ao asked him what he was studying, and he said it was still robotics.
This decision was a reflection of Ting Shuang’s sentiments; It was his responsibility, so he’d bear it.
After hearing that, Zhu Ao asked him if he had enough money to go abroad. Ting Shuang said, he had enough.
These three words also reflected Ting Shuang’s sentiments; He didn’t allow others to interfere with his personal life, not even his father.
Although at that time he had already spent half a year living a life in which he worked so hard he wanted to vomit blood.
In the following two years, Ting Shuang also took the initiative to call Zhu Ao. As father and son, they talked a lot about the current state of the industry, and then exchanged new year greetings, reporting their wellbeing. But regarding Liang Zhengxuan, neither of them gave in so they stayed at a stalemate. Both father and son were very similar. They ate soft but not hard.(1) As soon as they mentioned it, both of them would lose their temper, so they simply didn’t bring it up.
Now, Ting Shuang was standing a few meters away from Zhu Ao, and felt like his dad seemed to have aged. He was slightly fatter, and had more white hair. Fortunately, he wasn’t balding.
In his heart, he felt just the slightest twinge of pain.
Bai Changyi saw him freeze in place and thought he had stage fright, so he spoke up as a reminder, “Ting?”
Ting Shuang took a deep breath, put on a decent expression, and walked over.
Bai Changyi once again introduced him to the people from the Chinese company, “This is my student, Ting Shuang.” Then he said to Ting Shuang, “Ting, this is the founder of RoboRun, Mr. Zhu Ao.”
Ting Shuang slowly turned his head to look at Bai Changyi, eyes holding some inexplicable meaning.
What kind of look was this kid giving him?
Was he still not fully awake?
Bai Changyi returned him another meaningful look: Greet him.
Mm, he had to greet him…
It seemed like he could only greet him in one way…
Ting Shuang turned his head back slowly and looked at Zhu Ao, “…Dad.”
Bai Changyi looked at Ting Shuang, his first reaction being–
Although Zhu Ao was the founder of RoboRun… it was just too much for Ting Shuang to call him Dad.
Didn’t the news report that young people in China only referred to Ma Yun as ‘Dad’?
Nowadays, could one call any boss ‘Dad’?
Only his second reaction was–
Ting Shuang mentioned that his family worked on industrial robots.
He didn’t expect Ting Shuang’s father to have the surname Zhu.
At the same time, he only heard Zhu Ao say to Ting Shuang, “You became Professor Bai’s student, and didn’t even tell me? Professor Bai doesn’t accept students easily.”
These words came partly from the heart, and was partly just a formality(2). Father and son who only called once a year couldn’t really have much to talk about, and amongst the topics they had cycled through, Professor Bai couldn’t have been one of them. But it was true that Zhu Ao wanted Ting Shuang to call more often, especially after he learned that Ting Shuang and Liang Zhengxuan broke up.
Ting Shuang said, “I’ve only taken one of Professor Bai’s courses…”
The middle-aged lady next to Zhu Ao said, “So it was Lil’ Shuang! It’s such a coincidence, I haven’t seen you in such a long time, you’ve grown so much.”
Ting Shuang said, “Hello Aunt Wang, Auntie is still so young…”
Another young man said, “I heard some time ago that the boss’s son was studying in Germany, but I didn’t expect you to be a student of Professor Bai…”
“Heh, heh…” Ting Shuang laughed politely, and after sitting down beside Bai Changyi, he touched Bai Changyi’s thigh under the table, begging him to help.
He thought he came here to learn, but it turned out to be a family reunion.
Bai Changyi glanced at Ting Shuang, then while opening the menu, he changed the subject with a smile at Zhu Ao and the others, “Pork trotters are a German speciality. Would everyone like to try it?”
Ting Shuang shouted in his heart; Long live Bai Laoban.
Everyone took in Professor Bai’s suggestion, and ordered one each, with local beer to go along with it.
Perhaps because of Ting Shuang, the atmosphere at the table was now different from before. The previous meal seemed like a meal with business partners where everyone talked about current projects and remained polite to each other, as well as discussed the possibility of cooperating in the future. But now, to the people from RoboRun, Bai Changyi had been promoted from their business partner to the mentor of the boss’ son. He was almost a part of them now.
“Professor Bai, how is Ting Shuang in class usually?” Zhu Ao asked with a smile, “Does he bother you?”
How is he in class…
Except for skipping the first lesson, always failing to answer questions, making a lot of errors in his homework, occasionally forgetting to bring his bag to class, and once attempting to skip class, everything was pretty good.
So Bai Changyi answered, “Pretty good.”
Zhu Ao’s expression changed to one of surprise, but his eyes held just a bit of pride, “Really? I remember how he didn’t really love studying in China.”
In his heart, Ting Shuang said; Oh my dear father, don’t you understand what kind of virtues your son has? It has never changed. He was just being polite, and you took it seriously?
Aunt Wang refuted, “How can that be? I remember Lil’ Shuang often came to the company to do homework after school when he was young… As soon as he started, he’d be at it until 8 or 9 at night…”
In his heart, Ting Shuang said; wasn’t that because he couldn’t do the questions? Those geniuses could finish their homework in class, so they never had to do them at night…
“Yes, I remember that Lil’ Shuang did his homework until very late at night and didn’t dare to go to the company’s toilet alone. He had to ask someone to accompany him, saying he was afraid of ghosts…”
“That’s right, I remember…”
With Ms. Wang spearheading the conversation, the atmosphere at the dining table gradually improved, and everyone began recalling Ting Shuang’s childhood.
Ting Shuang couldn’t stand it anymore, and touched Bai Changyi’s thigh secretly again. The meaning was obvious: Bai Laoban, save me and make them talk about something else?
Bai Changyi didn’t give him any reaction, and showed a keen interest in Ting Shuang’s (ugly) childhood times.
Ting Shuang could only look down and focus on cutting his trotters.
Gigantic pig trotter.(3)
He liked listening to the stupid stories about him so much?
Everyone then talked about a few more of Ting Shuang’s stories. The atmosphere at the dinner table became more and more enthusiastic. Everyone collectively realised that Ting Shuang was like a mascot; he served as a conversation starter, deepening the Sino-German friendship and strengthening RoboRun and LRM’s cooperation. He was essential for developing the relationship between both sides.
After three rounds of drinking, everyone drank until they were slightly tipsy, and lost the initial restraint and politeness. Zhu Ao raised his glass towards Bai Changyi and said, “Brother Bai, I am just ten years older than you. If you don’t dislike it, just call me brother Zhu.”
(1) “Eat soft but not hard” is a literal translation of a typical chinese saying, 吃软不吃硬. It means they prefer the soft/tactful approach, not the confrontational/firm one.
(2) Not exactly sure how to translate this. “场面话” just refers to the stuff you say during a business/serious meeting, like chitchat or something, to lighten the mood/suck up
(3) LOL, Ting Shuang is cursing Bai Changyi here, in case it wasn’t obvious.
Imagine… Your boyfriend referring to your father as “bro”…..
Take care guys! (don’t fall off your chair laughing)
Comments for chapter "30"
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