VH: Chapter 71

“I’m picking you up to go home.” Yan Ting’s eyes swept over Zhu Xia and the others in the room before finally falling on Li Zhao. “Let’s go.”

“How did you know I was here?” Li Zhao smiled and bent over to put on his shoes while Yan Ting stood at the door and watched him. Yan Ting replied, “Sister Xia told me.”

Li Zhao put on his shoes and spoke to Zhang Xiaoyuan on the other end of the phone. “Brother Xiaoyuan, my friend came to pick me up. You don’t need to.”

“I’ll go to your house to find you.” Zhang Xiaoyuan hurriedly hung up the phone.

“So urgent, is there an important cooperation?” Li Zhao turned and said goodbye to his friends. “Then I’ll go back first. Come to my barbecue tomorrow, don’t forget.”

“Okay, okay.” Zhu Xia and the others nodded in agreement.

Once Yan Ting and Li Zhao left, Zhou Ming asked Zhu Xia, “When did you contact Xiao Yan?”

Zhu Xia said nothing.

“Something happened with Zhao Zhao.” Zhu Linlin was holding her phone to return the blessing messages from her friends when a notification jumped out. She clicked in and looked at her before her face became scared.

“What?”

The friends were shocked. Zhao Zhao had just gone out the door. Why had something happened?”

“Zhao Zhao’s previous matter… was dug out by the paparazzi.”

Previous matter? Zhu Xia took the phone from Zhu Linlin and saw a photo that made her heart hurt. There was a photo taken 10 years ago when Li Zhao’s abuse was exposed. Although the eyes were mosaiced, she could recognize it instantly. This was Li Zhao as a child.

The article vividly described Li Zhao’s abuse and even took photos of the old house where Li Zhao had lived before he was 10 years old.

[Old Man Li hasn’t been educated and didn’t know it was illegal to beat his children. After he was put in prison, the poor family lost his strength. His two biological children were also ridiculed because of their father’s imprisonment. They didn’t go to high school and went to work in a big city.]

[This reporter asked Old Man Li if there were any regrets about what happened back then. The old and tired man was silent for a long time before saying that if he knew it would cause so many things, he wouldn’t have picked up the child because of his soft heart…]

“This group of beasts, how could these beasts reverse black and white like this, regardless of right and wrong?”

After reading the article, Zhu Xia was crying angry tears and she shouted, “What will people not do for this lousy traffic?! Why didn’t those bast*rds die?”

Zhu Xia finished the scolded and covered her mouth. “How sad would Zhao Zhao be if he saw this type of article? These people have no heart, they aren’t human.’

There had been many people on the Internet who discovered the news that a child called Xiao Ming was rescued 10 years ago. Some school teachers and villagers were interviewed. There were also photos of the child being beaten until he was blue and purple all over, his head swollen abnormally and full of injuries.

The Li fans didn’t want to admit that this Xiao Ming was their baby. They couldn’t imagine the baby they held in their hearts actually encountered these things as a child. However, they were familiar with Li Zhao and could recognize the child with a mosaic over his eyes instantly. This was a small version of Zhao Zhao.

There were always people in the world who saw others being miserable and couldn’t help spreading the thoughts of the Virgin Mary.

Some people saw that the family who abused Li Zhao had a miserable life. They felt that since the other side had saved Li Zhao’s life and had already been punished, Li Zhao should learn to let go and forgive.

Forgive?! Let it go? A little child almost lost his life from abuse, who did these stupid Virgin Mary want to forgive? This was a human life, a 10 year old child!

The Li fans were so distressed that tears fell down. These people with the Virgin Mary sentiment sympathized with the perpetrators? Zhao Zhao was almost killed while the perpetrator was in jail for one year. Yet the perpetrator was pitiful?

The Li fans, who usually lived like black fans, went completely crazy tonight. Almost the entire army was dispatched. They not only scolded the paparazzi who broke the news but also the Virgin Marys who were generous to others.

They weren’t afraid of what others thought of them. They just couldn’t bear the grievance. Whether it was on the Internet of reality, most of the people had normal three views. Even the passersby netizens couldn’t stand it and thought that Li Zhao’s fans were doing the right thing.

The usually self-deprecating Li fans couldn’t help falling down after watching the paparazzi break the news. They might be fans but they were still human. In particular, there was an interview with a villager. The villager said that Li Zhao was often beaten but also chased and bitten by the dog his brother sent after him. His adoptive father had also kicked him down the dirt slope, broke his leg, etc.

“I couldn’t bear to look anymore. The child was very well-behaved and many people in the village secretly gave him food.”

“Old Man Li was fierce and unreasonable. We couldn’t afford to go against him.”

Some people thought of Seclusion Mountain Forest. Li Zhao once told Zhang Kui that he was chased by a dog when he was a kid and finally won over the dog. At that time, LI Zhao said it was a joke and the audience never took it seriously. They were even amused by Li Zhao’s words.

Looking back now, they were full of heartache. A seven or eight year old child, what type of life had Zhao Zhao led? Who said that his old man saved Li Zhao’s life? This wasn’t the feudal era with bad welfare. If a normal person saw an abandoned child, their first reaction should be to call the police. Why did Old Man Li quietly bring him home?

At first, he said that his wife gave birth to Li Zhao. It was only two years later when his biological child was born that he said he picked up Li Zhao. Some netizens even suspected that Li Zhao was trafficked by Old Man Li.

Li Zhao’s business had overturned the Internet. Meanwhile, the party involved didn’t know anything and was taken by Yan Ting to a lake. Antique lanterns hung on the boat and the lake was lined with brightly lit coffee shops, teahouses or bars. It had a different type of comfort.

Li Zhao yawned as he carefully examined Yan Ting’s face. “Ting Ting, are you in a bad mood?”

Why else would he run here to the middle of the lake?

Yan Ting shook his head. Li Zhao shifted his gaze to the person steering the boat they were on. The other person was sitting at the stern of the boat and not bothering to look up and disturb them. The oars moved through the lake, making a noise. Li Zhao pulled out his phone, wanting to take a photo of the lake’s night scene.

Yan Ting reached out with one hand and took Li Zhao’s phone.

“Ting Ting?” Li Zhao found that Yan Ting was a bit strange tonight. The mobile phone was placed in Yan Ting’s coat pocket. Yan Ting and Li Zhao sat side by side, looking like a father comforting his son who did badly on the university entrance examination.

“Sit with me.” Yan Ting raised the gauze curtain hanging around the boat. The lake was sparkling. It was lively and noisy but this had nothing to do with them.

“What’s wrong?” Li Zhao stared at Yan Ting with concern. “If something made you unhappy then tell me. I’ll coax you to be happy.”

Yan Ting turned to stare at him. After watching him for a long time, Yan Ting suddenly reached out and pulled Li Zhao into his arms. Li Zhao froze as he was inexplicably hugged. Then he reached out and patted Yan Ting’s back. “Don’t be sad. I’ll accompany you if there is anything.”

As a person, there were times when one was vulnerable. Good friends should understand each other. Li Zhao’s body exuded youth and vitality. It was unknown how much pain he had suffered. Those scars, those bruises…

The moment he saw those photos, Yan Ting went crazy. Yan Ting held Li Zhao carefully, reluctant to hurt this person. Why did Li Zhao have to suffer so much?

Zhao Zhao.” Yan Ting wanted to hold him like that but didn’t dare. He was afraid that releasing the inner madman in his heart would add more harm to the child’s life that was already full of suffering.

“Um.” Li Zhao was still for a while and patted Yan Ting’s back,

“No matter your past, your future… will always have me.”

Although this world was noisy and boring, he couldn’t bear to let Zhao Zhao face the world’s maliciousness alone. He wanted to protect Li Zhao, protect his only colour.

“I’ll be with you.” Yan Ting released Li Zhao and stared into Li Zhao’s eyes. “No matter what, I’ll be with you.”

The oars moved through the surface of the lake, shattering the moonlight on the water and scattering a bit of sunlight. Yan Ting’s eyes were beautiful. Li Zhao could see the moonlight and himself in those eyes. He was the moonlight in Yan Ting’s eyes, as if he was wrapped in the gentlest light in the world. The night didn’t invade and the cold wind didn’t enter.

“Is something wrong?”

Yan Ting’s eyelids drooped slightly and he didn’t speak.

Li Zhao laughed. People who couldn’t lie were like this. “Give it here.”

“What?”

“The phone.” Li Zhao reached out his hand. The black-gold phone was put in his palm.

“Not your phone, mine.”

Yan Ting touched Li Zhao’s phone. There was an urge to throw the phone into the lake but looking into Li Zhao’s eyes, he still put the phone in Li Zhao’s hand. He had arranged for people to withdraw the hot search. The key search terms had been blocked and even the major platforms no longer pushed news related to this matter.

However, the matter had spread too widely. Even if Yan Ting blocked the news of various channels, there was no way to prevent it from spreading, now way to prevent others from leaving Li Zhao a message.

The moment Li Zhao opened Weibo, it froze.

“Again?” Li Zhao wondered which artist got married or divorced. After refreshing it two or three times, he successfully entered Weibo. Li Zhao saw countless messages on his Weibo hugging him and comforting him.

He clicked on one of the posts and the smile on his face slowly disappeared. The boat entered a shadowy area and the screen of the phone was still on.

“Zhao Zhao.” Yan Ting reached for Li Zhao’s wrist.

“I’m fine.” Li Zhao put down his phone and smile. “Since it has already happened, I’m not afraid for it to be known. Don’t worry, I’m not sad.”

The boat stopped. Once again, Yan Ting pulled Li Zhao into his arms. “But I’m sad.”

Yan Ting had a very clean and light fragrance and Li Zhao could hear Yan Ting’s heart.

Li Zhao’s mood was surprisingly calm, probably because someone was with him. The old things were like a layer of transparent glass. Although he couldn’t see it clearly, it couldn’t hurt him.

Gou Er was a well-known paparazzi in the circle. Over the years, he had burst out the materials of many small entertainers and also got bad benefits. Since there was no big news lately, the netizens’ interest in him had started to decrease.

There was no traffic without attention. How could he make money? The basis of a paparazzi naturally depended on attractive materials.

Digging into Li Zhao’s past was purely an accident. If he hadn’t been cleaning his parents’ house and found a newspaper from 10 years ago, he wouldn’t have known Li Zhao had such an experience.

He wouldn’t know if he hadn’t checked and once he checked, he was shocked.

10 years ago, this abuse case had made a lot of waves in the local area. He heard that the local government not only changed the name of the child but also moved his household registration to protect the child.

Who would’ve thought that the poor abused child would become a star?

Gou Er asked people to check Li Zhao’s background. Although Li Zhao was valued by Strawberry Entertainment, he didn’t have a big background. Gou Er wouldn’t offend anyone big if he broke this news. He didn’t hesitate at all before exploding it.

In fact, this could be regarded as helping Li Zhao gain fans. Having such a miserable childhood experience would definitely attract the sympathy and attention of countless people. Once the news broke, the number of people who found him to inquire about the news almost blew up his studio’s phone.

He proudly sold them some photos and messages, making a lot of money. Just as he was walking proudly out of a bar, he was dragged into a car.

“What do you want to do?” Gou Er looked at these men in suits with horror. Did they know he was a famous breaking news account on Weibo?

Impossible, he had always attached great importance to privacy since he was worried about being retaliated against. In the past few years, his life had been very smooth and he didn’t believe someone would discover him. However, these people didn’t care about him at all. They directly brought him to an abandoned construction site and started to punch and kick him.

“You should be glad that our boss is a law-abiding man” A man in a suit and wearing sunglasses declared indifferently. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t even have a life.”

Gou Er lay on the ground, not daring to speak. He was afraid that these people really would put him into a cement pillar.

The moment these people left, he listened to the wind blow through the dilapidated old building. Then he pulled out his phone and called the police. The police came quickly. Gou Er didn’t have time to be happy because he was arrested for extortion.

Over the years, he had relied on the materials he photographed to make the artists spend money to buy them. Finally, he received a backlash. However, he didn’t understand why these artists would risk the news being leaked in order to put him in jail. Was there a big person behind this? Who was aiming at him?

***

“Damn!” Xu Bei saw the news of Li Zhao’s childhood abuse being revealed and was so angry that he smashed all the cups in the house. If he didn’t know that Li Zhao couldn’t expose this type of news, he would almost suspect that this was Li Zhao’s self-promotion.

Seclusion Mountain Forest had just broadcasted the content of a mother looking for her child. Now it was revealed that Li Zhao was actually an abandoned child. In addition, he was abused by his adoptive parents and almost died.

Beautifying himself with tragedy would all be occupied by Li Zhao. Strawberry Entertainment also supported Li Zhao. How could an actor go against all of this? Everyone would become Li Zhao’s foil!

In Xu Bei’s previous life, Li Zhao’s past as an orphan never came to light when he was an actor, it was never exposed until Li Zhao died. There was a mention of it in the memoir his friends made for him.

It wasn’t easy for Xu Bei to come back. He didn’t do this just to see Li Zhao walking the same path but with a different pattern. Xu Bei clicked on the video of Li Zhao being rescued and couldn’t help scolding, “Why wasn’t Li Zhao killed when he was a child?”

***

According to reports, it was a school teacher who found that Li Zhao was being abused. Since Li Zhao had a severe fever, the teacher wanted to physically cool down Li Zhao, only to discover that his entire body was injured and his entire calf swollen.

The dirty hat covered a bloody wound. After Li Zhao was taken to a hospital, the hospital found that all the wounds were man-made. Finally, the school and hospital chose to call the police. Some people couldn’t bear to see it and posted on the Internet, attracting the attention of many people. This case of child abuse became a big problem.

After learning about it, the local authorities rescued Li Zhao and sent Li Zhao’s adoptive father to prison.

The sensational case of child abuse ended with the victim being sent to a welfare home. Most of the netizens who supported the child on the Internet were already middle-aged and had forgotten about it.

Now that this old matter was brought up, the memories of countless people were awakened. In their hearts, Li Zhao wasn’t only an entertainer but a child who was protected by public opinion. The speeches about so-called forgiveness were scolded by the big brothers and sisters who succeeded in their careers and had outstanding logical thinking.

“Forgive me if I don’t agree with you. Why wasn’t this type of man put to death?”

“If I beat you to death, can you forgive me?”

“This person who is so generous, can’t you write a few words back as an answer?”

Middle-aged people were mostly mature and stable. Under normal circumstances, they wouldn’t easily tear at others. Once they argued with others, people knew why they were older brothers and sisters.

Those who said that Li Zhao should learn to forgive secretly deleted their Weibo posts, not daring to take another risk. After scolding these Internet Virgin Marys, the big brothers and sisters came to Li Zhao’s Weibo and instantly became gentle brothers and sisters.

“My little brother has grown up healthy. It’s wonderful.”

“My brother is 181cm tall. It seems that he eats on time every day.”

“Continue to live happily and the future will be better. The garbage has been thrown away so don’t care about how it rots. Brother, be happy.”

“When you were 10 years old, I was studying at university. Now I am pregnant and I’m going to hang your photo on my wall. If the baby is a boy, let him be as handsome as you. If she is a girl, I hope she will look at this handsome person and have higher eyes in the future.”

“Brother, look at my cat, isn’t it cute?”

“Little brother, continue to work hard. Your brothers and sisters are protecting you.”

The gentle messages of blessings merged into the warmest stream, protecting Li Zhao carefully.

“I really cried when I saw these messages. Li Zhao is awesome. Those who have helped Li Zhao are also awesome.”

“The world is really beautiful.”

“Baby Zhao Zhao, don’t be sad. Those older brothers and sisters who cared about you are still protecting you. Although I haven’t participated in your past, I will walk with you in your future.”

“Baby, be happy. We will walk with you along this starry road.”

“How happy was I when watching Seclusion Mountain Forest and how sad am I now? Do you still remember the filming in Qingxi VillagE? Zhao Zhao held two children and the children asked Zhao Zhao if his parents would return on New Year’s Day. Zhao Zhao said no and he was clearly sad! It is because he has no mother or father, no one to accompany him in the new year.”

“There were also the occasions where Xiang Zhen talked to Zhao Zhao about his children. Zhao Zhao listened very carefully. At the time, I thought he just liked children. Now in retrospect, perhaps he was fantasizing. If he had a mother and father then they might treat him like Xiang Zhen treats his children.”

“In tonight’s episode, Zhao Zhao took great care to comfort the older sister, saying that the child would be found. I’m really sad, even sadder than when I lost love. Where are Zhao Zhao’s parents? Have they been looking for Zhao Zhao?”

“Brothers and sisters, you must not mention these things in the comment area. I’m afraid Zhao Zhao will be sad when he sees them. Let’s send some happy things to Zhao Zhao’s comment area.”

“Okay.”

Whether it was fans or passersby, the comments in Li Zhao’s Weibo tried to act as if nothing had happened and the world was beautiful. Many fans secretly ran to supervise the comment area, to see if there were any fans who weren’t sensible and spoke nonsense. Even if their actions were limited, it was worthwhile to make the child who had been abused a bit happier.

Li Zhao stared at the messages in the comments area with a smile.

“Ting Ting.” He put away his phone and told Yan Ting, “Let’s go home.”

Yan Ting reached out. “Give me your hand.”

“Eh?”

“I’ll hold you so you don’t lose yourself looking at your phone.”

Li Zhao, “……”

What did it feel like to be led as a grown-up man?

Yan Ting directly grabbed his other hand. “Let’s go, I’ll take you back.”

Li Zhao thought of how Yan Ting specifically took him to the lake to comfort him, despite not liking to go out, and could only let Yan Ting hold it.

“Ting Ting.”

“Eh?”

“I’m not really sad.”

Yan Ting looked back.

“The world is so beautiful. There are so many cute and kind people and I’m really lucky.”

Yan Ting didn’t speak and just held Li Zhao’s hand tighter.

Back home, Li Zhao found the satisfying scent of food. The table was full of delicious dishes. All the foods the housekeeper uncle usually didn’t allow him to eat at night were on the table. The table full of dishes could be regarded as a perfect combination of Chinese and Western cuisine.

“Zhao Zhao, if you’re hungry then eat first.” The housekeeper uncle took Li Zhao to the dining room, wishing to feed Li Zhao with his own hands.

The aunts all around the house circled Li Zhao and even Yan Ting was forgotten. Once Zhang Xiaoyuan arrived, he saw Li Zhao happily eating at the table while the entire household staff stood beside him with loving smiles on their faces. It was a grand scene where the grandfather and grandmother spoiled their grandchild with no bottom line.

Before he could speak, Yan Ting interrupted him, “Wait for Zhao Zhao to finish eating.”

Zhang Xiaoyuan couldn’t help nodding. He always felt that in front of Yan Ting, nothing big would happen. Yan Ting’s gaze directly at Li Zhao was very soft, like a parent with infinite tolerance for their naughty child.

Zhang Xiaoyuan whispered to Yan Ting, “Mr Ting, Zhao Zhao… does he know what is happening online?”

“He knows.” Yan Ting got up from the sofa, approached Li Zhao and wiped his mouth.

Zhang Xiaoyuan watched Yan Ting and Li Zhao. He always felt that something was wrong.


The author has something to say:

Baby Ting Ting who was possessed with the chunnibyou disease: If anyone hurts a hair on Zhao Zhao’s hair, I’ll bring his wings.

May everyone be treated gently by the world.

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May

I’m rereading this again and I have totally forgotten who this Xu Bei dude is. I also just find it funny that he thinks he’s going to take down our Baby Zhao Zhao and Baby Ting Ting form shadows as if he’s being real sneaky. My dude, they don’t even know you exist. You lost before the battle even started considering how powerful Ting Ting is alone.