The plagiarism incident was only the opening act of Cheng Yuan’s tragic fate.
After Yang Baihua returned home and finished listening to Cheng Yuan’s miserable sobs, he placed his hands on his shoulders, saying, “Xiao Cheng, calm down.”
Cheng Yuan’s eyes reddened. “Old Yang, believe me, you have to believe me.”
Yang Baihua said, “Of course I believe you.”
Cheng Yuan tugged at Yang Baihua, repeatedly trying to prove himself to him and asking for help, “You saw me write those songs, right? I even let you listen to them, I even……”
Yang Baihua took his hand in his and pressed it to his chest, “I know.”
Cheng Yuan trembled as he leaned into that warm and solid chest, like a someone who had finally found a support in the constantly changing world.
As he listened to that ever-so-close heartbeat, his ears became hot and numb, and he felt as if this was his only safe harbour in the entire world.
Now with rea.s.suring support, Cheng Yuan’s bloodshot eyes filled with fierce flames. He weakly gnashed his teeth, saying, “I can’t just let this go. I want to sue Tang Huan, I want…”
Yang Baihua stilled.
He stroked Cheng Yuan’s back. “Xiao Cheng, you’re being too impulsive. You shouldn’t be making decisions right now.”
But Cheng Yuan couldn’t care less about that right now.
He was suffering from a severe migraine. Before Yang Baihua had come back he’d taken two tablets, but they were slow to take effect. The headache and the anger combined tormented him to the point where his entire body was trembling and he was drenched in cold sweat. “Why? It’s my song, I can’t just let her steal it and frame me for everything.”
Yang Baihua furrowed his eyebrows and pushed him away, raising his voice slightly, “Xiao Cheng, calm down and listen to me. You can’t sue her.”
Cheng Yuan wordlessly opened and closed his mouth. He stared at him, waiting for an explanation.
Yang Baihua sighed deeply, “……This matter is Xiaoyan’s wrong.”
Yang Baihua’s younger cousin Yang Xiaoyan had been entrusted to Yang Baihua by his third uncle when she had been admitted into an average normal university half a year ago.
She often came over to Yang Baihua’s house for meals. She was the first one in the Yang family to find out her older cousin’s s.e.xual orientation, and often used the excuse of “keeping the secret” to get Yang Baihua to treat her to several large meals.
All the members of the Yang family had good appearances. Yang Xiaoyan similarly couldn’t be considered ugly with a white, neat, melon-shaped face. She liked music, and also liked to compose a few small tunes to publish on the internet since the lyrics she added could arouse the sympathy of beautiful and distressed young girls. She’d even acc.u.mulated almost ten thousand fans. This made her rather proud of herself, flaunting herself as a woman of talent.
But Cheng Yuan actually didn’t really like her.
Every time she visited, she’d stick to Cheng Yuan, asking him how much one of his songs could sell for and if he had any connections in the music business. Cheng Yuan didn’t like hearing about such things and would just haphazardly wave it off every time. However, Yang Xiaoyan would never get the hint and would even act spoiled with Yang Baihua, complaining, “Cousin, look, Xiao Cheng-ge’s family has connections but he won’t even help me out a little. I’m so helpless.”
Xiaoyan lived in a four-person dorm and her three roommates were all from the city. She refused to lose to them, and would constantly splurge on high quality makeup and branded clothes.
Given these spending habits of hers, of course her money was never enough. She could only frequently search out Yang Baihua to borrow more, who really gave it every time she asked. He never refused, not even once. Because of this, there was once when he didn’t even dare to order anything other than plain rice from the company canteen for an entire month.
Seeing this, Cheng Yuan’s heart had hurt beyond compare. It was at that time that he’d started learning how to cook.
Cheng Yuan stared blankly at Yang Baihua. He asked, confused, “What did you say?”
Yang Baihua patiently explained, “Just now, right after we hung up, Xiaoyan called. Do you remember? Last time when mom, dad and third sister came to visit, you’d went elsewhere to stay. Her phone ran out of battery, so she borrowed my phone to look through Taobao. As she was flipping through the stores, she accidentally started playing the demo you wrote. She really liked what she heard and asked me if it was you who wrote it, praising you non-stop.”
Cheng Yuan’s eyes widened slightly.
Yang Baihua summoned up his courage and continued, “I didn’t think too much of it at the time. I told her you wrote it, and that you liked to write some songs every once in a while. She just hummed in acknowledgement and went back to playing. I never thought that she would……”
Cheng Yuan understood. Not daring to believe his own words, he asked, “She stole my songs and sold them? You just let her steal them?”
“Don’t put it like that,” Yang Baihua said helplessly, “I didn’t know, and Xiaoyan…… she just really likes your songs. She told me that she didn’t have enough money and wanted to earn some herself. However, the songs she wrote weren’t being accepted by any record labels, so she just wanted to try mixing your songs with hers and sending them in as a test. She never thought that once she sent them in they would all be accepted and the six songs would be bought in an instant.《Innermost Feelings》 and 《Autumn Thoughts》…… were picked up by Tang Huan.”
“She ‘just really likes my songs’?” Cheng Yuan flared up with rage. “She asked me once what I planned on naming my songs. I told her I’d thought up a name for one song in particular and it’d be called 《Innermost Feelings》.”
He grabbed his phone, turned it on, and showed Yang Baihua the line from the cover of Tang Huan’s alb.u.m. “……Old Yang, I ask you, what is this?! Did she even copy the name? This is what you call unintentional?”
“……You’ve written so many messy songs and never sent them out. She never thought it would end up like this.” Yang Baihua’s tone had become abnormally heavy. He reached out a hand and grabbed Cheng Yuan’s wrist, “She never thought it’d get so big. When she called me, she was really scared and even cried.”
Cheng Yuan thought numbly, who cares that she cried.
Yang Baihua painstakingly persuaded, “She already knows she was wrong. But she’s still young, and you should forgive her. If you sue her and the situation gets even bigger, what will it be like for her at school? How would I explain this to my family?”
Cheng Yuan felt as if he had been splashed with a bucketful of cold water. He grabbed Yang Baihua and whispered in pain, “……Then what about me? What do I do? How am I supposed to live after this?”
Yang Baihua gently stroked Cheng Yuan’s face. “It will be fine, I believe in you. Those people on the internet don’t know the true story, and are just talking nonsense. As long as you ignore what they are saying online, they can’t hurt you.”
Cheng Yuan’s entire life had been smooth-sailing up to this point, and never faced any big crisis. This incident was like a sudden landslide. His mind had become completely muddled, and Yang Baihua’s firm tone swayed him. “……Really?”
“Yes,” Yang Baihua patiently guided him, “Think about it, since she was young my parents have treated Xiaoyan like their own child. If our relationship is exposed to them because of Xiaoyan’s matter and Xiaoyan’s reputation is dragged through the mud, then as the main perpetrator, how are they going to accept you?”
Cheng Yuan hugged his head, curling up into a ball.
“……Why?” Cheng Yuan muttered, “Why……”
His life’s desire, his dream of making music, was ruined.
Furthermore, his lover was firmly standing on the side of his family. If he didn’t agree to take the responsibility for Xiaoyan, his and Yang Baihua’s future together would be over.
His lover or his dream, which one was he supposed to choose?
Cheng Yuan had been very obedient since he was young, and other than music, he didn’t have any hobbies. Yang Baihua was the very first person that Cheng Yuan had ever loved like this.
To love a person was to carefully place them within your heart, yet fear that your heart wouldn’t be soft enough for them.
Yang Baihua was very good and gentle to him. He would coax him when his temper as an artist flared up, he was down-to-earth, diligent, and they were very compatible in bed.
Cheng Yuan couldn’t bear to rip open his b.l.o.o.d.y chest right after experiencing a tempestuous storm that tore his tendons and broke his bones, and forcefully dig out this man who he had loved for three years.
He couldn’t do it.
Cheng Yuan grabbed hold of Yang Baihua’s shirt and tugged. He asked softly, “With this kind of reputation, how will I write songs? Will there be anyone who still wants me?”
Yang Baihua, hearing him give in, unconsciously breathed a big sigh of relief.
He pulled Cheng Yuan into his embrace. “I want you.”
……This actually wasn’t the answer Cheng Yuan had wanted.
But this was also the best, and only answer he could get at this stage.
Cheng Yuan’s company quickly issued a statement severely condemning such vile acts of plagiarism, and even firmly terminated Cheng Yuan’s contract while demanding compensation for this breach of contract.
At this critical moment, Cheng Yuan’s older brother Cheng Jian ran over in a rage, pointing at his younger brother’s nose and scolding harshly, “Cheng Yuan, can you endure this? Something this big happened but you still didn’t contact your family? If you don’t consider yourself a part of the Cheng family, you should say so earlier!”
Cheng Yuan didn’t respond.
His reputation had already rotted. Since he’d already decided to cover up the truth, he had to hide everything from even his family.
After scolding him, his brother helped him pay the fine, then spent money to delete the posts online. Still frustrated, he even started to fight online personally with the people scolding him.
The netizens, noticing that their comments were being deleted, fought back even harder. The situation became more and more heated. Tang Huan’s company also hadn’t given up on all this free publicity, and started to wantonly buy internet water armies and made marketing posts, boosting the flames from behind the scenes. Amongst them, a particular online singer with over half a million fans was the most fierce. He was a famous Tang Huan fan who sent six to seven Weibo posts a day chasing after Cheng Yuan to ridicule him.
A particular post said: “The plagiarising dog probably should be hiding under his bedsheets and trembling in fear now [doge face][doge face][doge face]”
Underneath was a mad carnival of Tang Huan fans, their comments full of obscenities horrendous enough to make people feel sick.
Cheng Yuan was really scared. He shut off his private messages, shut off his phone, and confined himself in his home. Yang Baihua was patient with him, but he had just started work and didn’t have that much time to accompany him every day.
Cheng Yuan thought that after this was over everything would be okay. If he just stuck it out for now, he could still make a comeback.
But afterwards, Cheng Yuan found out he could no longer write songs or even touch the piano. The moment he pressed a key he would think of 《Innermost Feelings》, the piano prelude he had so meticulously composed, and his heart would throb so fast his hands would shake with nausea. He couldn’t even play a complete song.
After many, many attempts, he suddenly raised both fists and smashed them onto the piano.
The piano let out two groans, one high, one low.
Cheng Yuan, a genius who had, in college, single-handedly propped up an entire orchestra, couldn’t even play《Ode to Joy》anymore.
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That day, he collapsed to the floor and cried for a very long time.
Cheng Yuan: “……”
His neck turned stiff. He lowered his head, blankly staring at the floor before his feet, waiting for Yang Baihua’s answer.
Yang Baihua was silent.
Cheng Yuan felt his silence like a vice around his throat, choking him so hard he couldn’t breathe.
Yang Baihua’s mother continued, “Being together with a man, and unable to have a child together isn’t normal. Your father and I have had to lie to our relatives, saying you’re working overseas, and everyone’s praising you for your prospects. Two days ago, your uncle called, asking your father to bring back some western tobacco and wine. He even asked after you, asking if you found a foreign wife and had a foreign kid. Tell me, how am I supposed to respond to that?!”
Her words were like knives, stabbing themselves one by one into Cheng Yuan’s body. His entire body started trembling uncontrollably, and his stomach twisted with pain.
He bent over slightly, hugging his waist that had already slimmed to the length of a sheet of paper, pressing as hard as possible.
“You’d be able to accept a foreign daughter-in-law?” Half a moment later, Yang Baihua’s warm voice resounded once more. “Some time ago, a new woman entered our company, and she’s Chinese. She and I get along really well.”
In the midst of her satisfaction, Yang Baihua’s mother thought of another problem. “What are you going to say to Xiao Cheng?”
This time, Yang Baihua’s silence lasted even longer.
Cheng Yuan didn’t wait to hear Yang Baihua’s answer, but he also didn’t let Yang Baihua be troubled for too long.
That night, in the piano room, he slit open his wrists with a utility knife.
So, in the beginning when Chi Xiaochi wanted to run Yang Baihua over with the car, he was being entirely sincere.
Yang Baihua liked Cheng Yuan, but in the end, it was only like.
His goodwill level of 72 points was only 13 points away from the pa.s.sing mark of indifference. His ‘like’ was ultimately only worth a card, and a firework.
Chi Xiaochi returned home with Yang Baihua.
The living room table was covered with newspapers. Occasionally, the sound of Yang Baihua on the phone drifted over from the other room.
Chi Xiaochi changed into casual clothes. He then went into the kitchen, rolled up his sleeves, and got started on the unwashed dishes that had been piling up for two days.
When he was relaxed, Chi Xiaochi usually had an absent-minded expression. He stood in front of the sink clogged with pieces of leftover vegetables, his eyes half-lidded. He let the water slide down his long, slender, white fingers, his posture languid and peaceful, exuding a n.o.ble air and perfectly complementing Young Master Cheng’s ident.i.ty.
But his dishwashing technique was abnormally well-practiced, not at all like a person whose ten fingers had never been stained by the sun or touched by spring water.
The system asked him, “You know how to wash dishes?”
Chi Xiaochi replied, deadly earnest, “I even know how to cook.”
The system didn’t believe him. After all, whenever Chi Xiaochi seemed serious, he usually wasn’t.
Because in the next second he asked with that same earnest look on his face, “Right, does the shop sell rat poison?”
“No,” The system snapped.
He now harboured the suspicion that Chi Xiaochi was so enthusiastically doing housework just so he could scout the scene of his future crime.
Chi Xiaochi said, “There’s something I want to ask.”
The system was expressionless. “……Oh.”
Chi Xiaochi suggested, “Could you do an inventory check? Your customer requires it.”
The system said, “Cannot.”
Chi Xiaochi said, “Rat poison.”
The system: “……” Dare I ask if that rat just so happens to weigh one hundred and thirty jin, and also happens to be surnamed Yang?
The system wasn’t able to bear it any longer: “Mister Chi, don’t you have any less violent solutions?”
“I do have one.” Chi Xiaochi leisurely wiped off the clean dishes with a dry cleaning cloth and placed them back on the shelf. At last, he finally said something normal, “Tomorrow, I’m going to go visit Cheng Yuan’s older brother.”
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