Translator: Chaos_ Editor: Geoffrey_
Darling Tian… The two girls who had just walked past Tian Xing Jian hand-in-hand looked back as they gave him a strange look before looking at each other in dismay and suddenly erupted into peals of laughter. They felt that it was not too courteous and one of them had pulled the other with a blushing face as they ran off.
There was another middle-aged man who was wearing a windbreaker and carried a briefcase as he drank the beverage in his hand. The moment he heard the voice coming from beside Tian Xing Jian, he sneered before coughing continuously as he tried to hold in the laughter while wiping off the beverage that had spilled on his clothing before quickly walking off.
Being called with such a nickname, Tian Xing Jian was embarrassed and was unable to show his face. A silly and fair fatty had actually stood there amongst the throngs of crowd rushing by with the name "Darling Tian"; his reputation was gone.
An Lei had felt that she had indeed called him with a voice that was too loud. Pursing her lips, she turned around to see the looks the bypassers were giving her, which caused her face to turn red with shyness. She pulled Tian Xing Jian’s hand, bringing him into a coffee shop by the corner of the street.
The coffee shop was quite quiet before noon. The two of them chose the table nearest to the street by the windows.
A male server came and brought over a beverage menu before politely bowing and asking, "May I ask what you two would like to drink?"
"I’d like a cup of watermelon juice, she wants…" The words that were originally coming from Fatty without thinking had suddenly paused as he hesitated; his voice became a little softer as he asked without being able to confirm it himself, "... Orange juice…?"
With an expression of inquiry on the male server, An Lei silently nodded. She looked at Tian Xing Jian with her eyes, which were suddenly turning red. Lightly biting her lips, she turned aside.
For a moment, the couple did not speak.
The street was facing an enormous optical television on top of a huge building that was currently broadcasting the ceremony welcoming Russell. In the scene on the television, Russell had already worn the uniform of a Federation general. After defecting from the enemy nation, he had immediately transformed into the general of another nation—such cases were few and far between.
President Hamilton delivered his speech. Instead of saying that his speech was about welcoming Russell, it was more appropriate to call it a speech of giving out orders for a counter-attack against the Gyaca Woods Empire.
The two of them silently watched the television inattentively as their minds bounced here and there with memories of when they were just innocent playmates; one would carry watermelon juice with the other an orange juice, holding hands while laughing with each other.
How many years has it been since they parted? Did she still love drinking orange juice?
How many years has it been since they parted? He had actually still remembered what I loved to drink!
The male server brought the beverages over soon enough. Their two heads turned over and when they looked into each others’ eyes, they both felt frantic and replied to the server at the same time, "Thank you."
For a moment, the server had been frightened by their two gazes. This was the very first time he had been thanked so earnestly. Overwhelmed by favor, he immediately waved his hand, saying, "You’re welcome, you’re welcome. Please enjoy."
Seeing Fatty on the other side of her preparing to turn his head over to the television with thoughts of escaping, An Lei, whose pair of eyes had turned red, did not wish to remain uncommunicative anymore.
"Tell me, why did you become a soldier?"
This was the first question An Lei had. She had almost crumbled apart from this question alone. She truly wanted to know the answer, as this male in her heart was someone that would forever be incompatible with being in the military, yet he had decided to choose this road.
Tian Xing Jian was at a loss. He pulled his eyes back before looking at the watermelon juice in front of him, speaking with a slightly entranced expression, "I’m not too sure either. When I graduated, it seemed as if I did not have any dreams. My subconscious was telling me that maybe joining the military will enable me to find everything that I had lost."
Looking at An Lei, Tian Xing Jian added another sentence in his heart, ‘Maybe, I’ll be able to get further away from you.’
Tears were rolling down the eyes of An Lei as she softly asked, "How did you bring those two hundred over Federation soldiers over?"
Tian Xing Jian laughed bitterly: "You know that I’m a coward. Terror, is sometimes a strength… I’m merely thinking of ways to escape with my life…"
An Lei could almost not hold back her tears as she felt a piercing pain in her heart. What Tian Xing Jian had said was brief, yet she knew that this step he had taken onto the battlefield was something which he had to bear unendurable fear with. Before becoming the Federation hero, he had truly experienced so many trials and tribulations.
An Lei turned her head upwards to the sky outside the window, trying her best to hold back the tears of heartache: "You know that you are a coward, but why would you be so foolish? Why would you participate in this war which is something that you do not really like?"
Tian Xing Jian did not look at An Lei; he silently looked at the flow of the crowd outside the window. With some exhaustion and fatigue in his voice, he said, "It isn’t something I can escape. In this maelstrom, no one could continue living alone happily. If the fires of war continued spreading into the capital, I’ll similarly not be able to escape. This… at least there are fewer things which I might lose…"
An Lei stared blankly at the clouds in the sky, feeling gratified and miserable in her heart.
She knew what he had lost. That boy had no longer been the same child who would run away the moment he was met with danger. He had truly grown up into a man, albeit one who was still a coward and had been forced to throw himself into war in search of his courage, and in the end, he had even transcended many other courageous men.
What was miserable had been that this person had made a mistake over the past ten years, yet he did not know what he truly lost.
The two stayed silent for a while.
An Lei finally set down her resolve—she decided to tell this person… everything.
Tears started rolling down once again in the eyes of An Lei. Her voice felt as if it was the distant clouds: "You are a fool. You have actually not lost anything, not even once! Ten years ago, I wasn’t hurt, and that wasn’t the reason I left you. My father had always treated you as his own son and had said that you ought to experience everything yourself."
"That day, he scolded you and chased you away! You should know how much heartache he felt when he was doing that. For a few times, he even went over to look for you, standing far away as he watched you… Mother had gone to persuade him, but he was truly stubborn and was not willing to call you back home."
All the matters in the past appeared flashing through the mind of An Lei. Her voice was filled with sobbing—that was truly a grievance which could not be spoken easily.
"Even when he passed away, you still hadn’t returned even once! I hate you and I hate him—I hate the two of you!" An Lei’s tears finally trailed down as she abruptly took her handbag and ran out of the shop.
Tian Xing Jian looked out the windows in a daze, watching how An Lei went off in a flying car. His mind could barely react. "Father An… has passed away…"
That benevolent and strict middle-aged man… that person who had always taken care of him ever since his parents passed away… that person who played together with two children and would become so tired that he panted… that middle-aged man who had put on weight… that person who was closest to him… had actually passed away?
A bitter and sad feeling shot up his nose.
Tian Xing Jian cried. In this coffee shop that was filled with people, his tears came pouring out without restraint. He had long treated that person as his own father, and for the longest of times, he did not have the face to return nor the courage to meet his resentful look. Why… why did he leave this world so silently…
He was truly still a coward—a coward who could never redeem himself! Tian Xing Jian bawled out with a voice filled with pain.
That benevolent, middle-aged man was already in the spirit realm beyond the heavens, and he… he felt truly ashamed!
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