It was bright and beautiful morning as Chen Yuzhi was getting ready for his first day of the new school year. He was standing before his mirror, dressed in a purple dress shirt with a cream vest over it, a cream tie, cream slacks, and brown dress shoes. He knew that he was a kindergarten teacher but he wanted to make a good impression on the parents of his students before he could really loosen up around the kids. However, the more he stared at himself in the mirror, he realized that he looked more like a college professor than he did a kindergarten teacher so he quickly changed out of his fancy suit and instead into a comfy cream cable knit sweater and cream jeans, feeling much more comfortable. He then styled his hair before grabbing his keys, his wallet, his shoulder bag filled with lesson plans, and his cup of coffee before he headed out to his car to head to school.
Meanwhile, as Chen Yuzhi drove to work, another family was getting ready for the day.
“A-Ying, are you up yet?” Jiang Yuelou called from his room, where he was getting dressed for work, dressing himself in a white Henley, black jeans, black belt, black leather jacket, and black combat boots. Once he was dressed, he quickly styled his hair before walking out of his room and over to his daughter’s room, knocking on the door.
“Keying? Come on, you’re going to be late for school” he called from outside the door. He knew they weren’t going to be late, but he normally said that to make sure that his daughter got a move on.
“I don’t wanna go” Keying whined. Jiang Yuelou sighed and shook his head before he opened the door to see Keying sitting on her bed, still dressed in her pajamas.
“How come you don’t want to go?” he asked as he walked over and knelt before Keying, placing a gentle hand on her knee. Keying looked up at him and Jiang Yuelou could see tears forming in her eyes.
“What if…the other kids don’t like me? What if the teacher doesn’t like me?” she whimpered. Jiang Yuelou smiled softly and shook his head.
“A-Ying…you have nothing to worry about. I get that you’re nervous, but everyone’s nervous on their first day of school. I was nervous too” he stated, trying to assure his daughter that her nerves were normal and there was nothing wrong with being scared. Keying looked at him in shock.
“You…were nervous on your first day of school too?” she breathed. Jiang Yuelou chuckled and nodded.
“I had the exact same fears that you’re having now. But once I got to school, I realized I didn’t feel scared anymore, because there were others there that felt the exact same way that I did. Everyone gets scared, A-Ying. And that’s okay. But if you really don’t want to go to school today, then I will stay home with you and we will have a relaxing father-daughter day” he declared because he really wanted Keying to feel comfortable about going to school and not be so afraid that she never wanted to go. So if Keying didn’t want to go, then Jiang Yuelou wasn’t going to force her. Keying was quiet before she looked into Jiang Yuelou’s eyes.
“I’ll…I’ll give it a try” she declared. Jiang Yuelou smiled and reached out, stroking Keying’s cheek.
“Atta girl” he praised before he stood up and held out a hand.
“Come on, let’s go get ready” he suggested.
A little while later, Jiang Yuelou and Keying, who was dressed in a pretty pink dress, white Mary Janes, and her hair done in two pretty braided pigtails, was sitting in the backseat of Jiang Yuelou’s car, a simple black backpack sitting next to him. It didn’t take very long for Jiang Yuelou to arrive at Keying’s school, since it was only about a ten minute drive from their house. When they arrived at school, the whole campus was bustling with students and parents heading to their respective grades and classes. After Jiang Yuelou parked, he got out and helped Keying out of her booster seat, setting her down on the ground before reaching into his car to grab the backpack before handing it to Keying. Keying then placed the backpack on her back before she took Jiang Yuelou’s hand, both of them heading towards the campus. As they stepped onto campus, the security guard for the campus, Jin Dacheng, smiled kindly at her.
“Hello” he greeted. Keying blinked at him before she nodded her head slightly.
“Hi” she replied.
“Where are you heading?” Jin Dacheng asked.
“Mr. Chen Yuzhi’s classroom” Jiang Yuelou replied. Jin Dacheng nodded.
“Would you like for me to take you there?” he offered. Jiang Yuelou nodded.
“Please” he answered. Jin Dacheng nodded and quickly got out of the guard booth, walking over to them.
“Follow me please” he instructed, motioning for Jiang Yuelou and Keying to follow him as he led them up the sideway that led away from the parking lot, past the cafeteria, and past the afterschool care shed. He then led them across the courtyard that was surrounded by a U-shaped building; leading them to a smaller building that made up one of the sides of the U.
“Here we are. Chen Yuzhi’s classroom is the far left one. Good luck on your first day of school, little one” he declared turning to face Jiang Yuelou and Keying. Keying blushed and nodded as Jiang Yuelou looked at Jin Dacheng.
“Thank you for your help” he thanked. Jin Dacheng smiled and nodded.
“Anytime” he replied before he turned and walked away. Jiang Yuelou then looked down at Keying and smiled.
“Ready?” he asked. Keying looked up at him and nodded once, making Jiang Yuelou smile as they continued walking, heading over to Chen Yuzhi’s classroom, that was filled with parents and children. Many of the children were clinging to their parents, begging them not to leave, while Chen Yuzhi was busy cleaning up a mess one of his students made. Once the mess was cleaned up, he looked over his shoulder to see Jiang Yuelou and Keying standing in the doorway, noticing immediately how nervous Keying looked. He smiled softly and pushed himself to his feet, walking over to them before kneeling before Keying.
“Hi there. I’m Chen Yuzhi, I’ll be your teacher for the year. And you must be…” he started, smiling gently at Keying. Keying looked at him for a moment before she smiled slightly.
“Keying” she replied. Chen Yuzhi nodded.
“Nice to meet you, Keying. You seem a little nervous today” he stated. Keying nodded, making Chen Yuzhi smile slightly.
“Well, that’s okay. Everyone’s nervous on their first day. Why don’t we go inside and drop off your backpack and then you can go and play with some of the other kids, okay?” he suggested. Keying looked at him for a moment before she nodded.
“Okay” she agreed. Jiang Yuelou’s eyes widened in shock as he looked down at his daughter. Never in his entire life did he expect Keying to agree with someone she just met, let alone actually say a few words to them. What shocked him even more was when Chen Yuzhi held out his hand, Keying reached out and took it. As Chen Yuzhi stood up, Keying gripped his hand tightly before her eyes widened.
“Mr. Chen, can I say goodbye to my daddy?” she asked, looking up at Chen Yuzhi. Chen Yuzhi smiled as he looked down at her.
“Of course” he replied. Keying then let go of Chen Yuzhi’s hand before she rushed over to Jiang Yuelou and gave him a hug, burying her face in Jiang Yuelou’s stomach.
“Bye Daddy” she murmured. Jiang Yuelou smiled and leaned down, pecking Keying on the head.
“Bye baby. Be good” he instructed. Keying looked up at him and nodded before she ran back over to Chen Yuzhi, taking his hand once more before they both walked off, Chen Yuzhi leading Keying over to the cubbies so that she could put her backpack inside. Jiang Yuelou watched her for a moment before he smiled and turned, walking out of the classroom as he headed off to work.
Later on that afternoon, after school was done, Chen Yuzhi headed out of his classroom, about to head home when he saw Keying sitting on the little white bench in front of his classroom. His eyes widened and he frowned as he walked over to her, kneeling before her.
“Keying. What are you still doing here?” he asked, concern in his voice. Keying lifted her head, tears in her beautiful brown eyes.
“Daddy forgot me” she whimpered. Chen Yuzhi blinked before he quickly shook his head, reaching out to place a gentle hand on her knee.
“Oh no, Keying, I’m sure he didn’t. I’m sure he’s just busy. I don’t think he forgot you, sweetheart” he assured. He then bit his lip, not sure what to do, before he looked at Keying.
“Let me give him a call okay?” he suggested. Keying looked at him and nodded as he let out a sigh and stood to his feet, pulling out his cellphone. Thankfully he had saved all the parent’s contact information in his phone in case he needed to call them for any reason so he quickly scrolled through his contacts until he came upon Jiang Yuelou’s name and quickly pressed it before putting his phone to his ear.
Meanwhile, in an abandoned warehouse, Jiang Yuelou was whipping a man who was tied to a cross as Jiang Yuelou was the leader of one of the most dangerous triads in Jing City. Why was he whipping the man, you might ask? Well, how else was he going to get information out of the guy? Ask him nicely? As he was whipping the man, ignoring the man’s cries of pain, he felt his phone buzz in his pocket, causing him to groan and stop the torture as he pulled out his phone, answering the call.
“What?” he snapped.
“Mr. Jiang? It’s Chen Yuzhi, Keying’s teacher” Chen Yuzhi greeted on the other end of the phone. Jiang Yuelou’s eyes widened and he pulled away the phone to let out a curse before he put the phone back to his ear.
“Mr. Chen! I’m so sorry, time completely got away from me” he apologized. Chen Yuzhi laughed softly on the other line.
“I understand, you’re a busy man. Um, if it’s alright with you, I’ll take Keying home with me and you can come and pick her up whenever you finish with work” he offered. Jiang Yuelou let out a sigh.
“You’re a godsend, Mr. Chen. Yes, that’s perfectly fine. Thank you” he thanked.
“You’re welcome. I’ll send you my address” Chen Yuzhi stated before he hung up.
After he hung up the call, Chen Yuzhi looked at Keying and smiled softly.
“Your dad said it was okay for you to come home with me. Okay?” he stated. Keying looked up at him and nodded, wiping away her tears before she stood to her feet, taking Chen Yuzhi’s outstretched hand.
“Come sweetheart. You can play with my cat Xiao Bai while we wait for your dad” he offered. Keying looked up at him with wide eyes.
“You have a kitty?” she asked. Chen Yuzhi chuckled and nodded.
“I do” he replied. Keying smiled slightly.
“I like kitties” she murmured. Chen Yuzhi smiled softly.
“I think she’ll like you too” he mused as they continued to his car to head home.
After the call with Chen Yuzhi ended, Jiang Yuelou looked at his phone, which pinged with a message from an unknown number with an address. He quickly clicked on the message, saving the contact as “Chen Yuzhi” to his phone before he took a deep breath and put his phone away.
“Everything good, boss?” one of his subordinates, Song Rong, asked. Jiang Yuelou gritted his teeth before he pointed to the man tied to the cross.
“If he doesn’t talk, kill him. He’s the reason why I’m late picking Keying up from school” he snarled. Song Rong and Jiang Yuelou’s other subordinate, Sun Yongren, looked at him with wide eyes.
“WHAT?!” they exclaimed. Jiang Yuelou nodded.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I know!” he snapped. Song Rong huffed.
“We’ll take care of things here, boss. Go pick up Keying” he instructed. Jiang Yuelou nodded before he tossed the whip he was using to Song Rong and turned, heading out of the warehouse and to his car, plugging in Chen Yuzhi’s address before heading off.
Soon Jiang Yuelou arrived at Chen Yuzhi’s house, blinking in surprise to find that the young teacher lived on a few houses down from him and Keying. However, he quickly shook his head and got out of the car, heading to Chen Yuzhi’s front door, knocking on it. He only had to stand outside for a few moments before the door opened and Chen Yuzhi, still dressed in the cable knit cream sweater, smiled at him.
“Mr. Jiang” he greeted. Jiang Yuelou smiled weakly at him before he sighed heavily and shook his head.
“Mr. Chen, I’m so sorry” he apologized. Chen Yuzhi looked at him and smiled softly, shaking his head.
“It’s alright. I understand that you can’t get away sometimes” he stated before he motioned inside.
“Please, come in” he instructed. Jiang Yuelou dipped his head before he stepped inside Chen Yuzhi’s house, looking around. As he stepped inside, Keying, who had been sitting on the couch playing with a ragdoll cat, looked up and when she saw him, her eyes widened and she quickly placed the cat down before rushing over to him.
“Daddy!” she exclaimed. Jiang Yuelou’s eyes widened and he knelt down, his arms open wide as Keying ran into them, hugging him tightly.
“Oh Keying. Oh baby, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry” he whispered. Keying whimpered as she buried her face in his neck.
“I thought you forgot me” she whimpered. Jiang Yuelou shook his head as he hugged her tighter.
“No. No, baby, no. I didn’t forget you. Work just ran late” he explained as he pulled away and looked into Keying’s eyes, wiping away her tears. Keying sniffled as she looked at him.
“You promise?” she asked. Jiang Yuelou nodded.
“I promise, baby” he replied. Keying smiled and threw her arms around him again, Jiang Yuelou smiling softly as Chen Yuzhi, who had been watching from behind them, cleared his throat.
“Um…Mr. Jiang?” he started, making Jiang Yuelou glance over his shoulder at him before he let go of Keying and stood, turning to face him.
“Yes, Mr. Chen?” he replied. Chen Yuzhi smiled softly.
“If I may…if…if you have to work late again like you did today…Keying can always come home with me. If…if that’s alright with you” he offered. Jiang Yuelou looked at him in shock before he shook his head.
“I wouldn’t want to impose” he replied. Chen Yuzhi smiled and shook his head.
“I don’t mind. Really, it’s not a problem” he assured. Jiang Yuelou huffed before he looked over at Keying, who was looking up at the two men. He then smiled before he stepped forward and knelt down, looking her in the eyes.
“A-Ying, when Daddy has to work late, would you be okay staying with Mr. Chen until I can come pick you up?” he asked. Keying’s eyes widened and she nodded.
“I’m okay with it! I like Mr. Chen and I like Xiao Bai!” she exclaimed. Jiang Yuelou raised an eyebrow.
“Xiao Bai?” he repeated. Keying nodded, just as the ragdoll cat padded over to them and nudged Jiang Yuelou’s knee with his head.
“My cat” Chen Yuzhi explained. Jiang Yuelou hummed in understanding as he gently stroked the cat.
“I see” he murmured. Chen Yuzhi smiled at him before he cleared his throat again, making Jiang Yuelou look up at him.
“Would you like to stay for dinner?” he asked. Jiang Yuelou blinked.
“Are you sure?” he asked. Chen Yuzhi smiled.
“I only have Xiao Bai to keep me company…I wouldn’t mind the company” he explained. Keying then looked at Jiang Yuelou and gave his arm a tug.
“Can we, Daddy?” she asked. Jiang Yuelou looked over at her before he sighed and nodded, looking back up at Chen Yuzhi.
“We’d love to” he stated. Chen Yuzhi smiled and nodded before he headed off to the kitchen to start dinner, Jiang Yuelou watching him leave before he looked at Keying.
“Keying, go play with Xiao Bai. I’m going to help Mr. Chen” he declared. Keying nodded and went back to the living room to play with Xiao Bai, who followed after her like the good cat that he was, while Jiang Yuelou pushed himself to his feet, heading into the kitchen to help Chen Yuzhi.
In the kitchen, Jiang Yuelou watched as Chen Yuzhi puttered around, getting everything ready for dinner, before he smiled slightly and walked over to the young man.
“May I help?” he asked. Chen Yuzhi gasped, jumping a little, before he looked over at him.
“Mr. Jiang. No, no, it’s alright, I’ve got it. You’re a guest” he stated. Jiang Yuelou smiled before he reached out and took the knife that Chen Yuzhi was holding, spinning it in his hand before he smiled.
“I’m wicked good with a knife. Let me help” he offered. Chen Yuzhi looked at him with wide eyes before he laughed and nodded.
“Alright” he agreed. Jiang Yuelou smiled and reached out, beginning to chop the vegetables and meat with wicked fast speed, making Chen Yuzhi look at him with wide eyes.
“You weren’t kidding” he breathed. Jiang Yuelou chuckled.
“Years of practice” he replied. Chen Yuzhi hummed before he began working on dinner as well, both men working with each other like they had known each other for years. Once dinner was made, Jiang Yuelou and Chen Yuzhi brought it out to the dinner table, Keying sitting at it with Xiao Bai sitting in her lap.
“A-Ying, no pets at the table” Jiang Yuelou chided. Keying nodded and placed Xiao Bai down as Chen Yuzhi scooped some rice into her bowl as Jiang Yuelou spooned some soup into it afterwards. Keying then took a bite of her dinner, chewing thoughtfully, before she smiled.
“It’s good” she declared. Chen Yuzhi and Jiang Yuelou smiled before they served each other, the three of them eating contently, almost like a real family, even though they had only just met. After dinner, Jiang Yuelou helped Chen Yuzhi clean up before he scooped a sleepy Keying into his arms, smiling at Chen Yuzhi softly.
“Thank you again, Mr. Chen” he thanked. Chen Yuzhi smiled.
“Not a problem. You have my number right?” he asked. Jiang Yuelou blinked before he nodded.
“I do” he replied. Chen Yuzhi smiled a little wider.
“You can always call or text to let me know if you’re going to be late…just so that you don’t give Keying another fright” he explained. Jiang Yuelou smiled before he nodded.
“Of course. Thank you, Mr. Chen” he thanked once more. Chen Yuzhi smiled.
“Yuzhi” he corrected. Jiang Yuelou blinked.
“I’m sorry?” he asked. Chen Yuzhi blushed slightly.
“You can call me “Chen Yuzhi” or “Yuzhi” instead of “Mr. Chen” if you prefer” he explained. Jiang Yuelou looked at him in surprise before he smiled, an almost predatory grin.
“Alright…Yuzhi” he purred, causing Chen Yuzhi’s eyes to widen slightly as Jiang Yuelou smiled.
“You can call me “Yuelou” instead of “Mr. Jiang”” he stated. Chen Yuzhi nodded as Jiang Yuelou smiled and turned, carrying Keying out of Chen Yuzhi’s home. Chen Yuzhi watched them walk away before he covered his heart with his hand.
‘Falling in love with a parent…oh this is a bad idea’ he thought to himself.
Over the next couple of months of the school year, Jiang Yuelou, Chen Yuzhi, and Keying fell into a sort of rhythm. Most days Jiang Yuelou would pick Keying up right after school, but on the days that he had to “work late”, he would send a text to Chen Yuzhi’s phone, letting him know that he could take Keying home and he would be there later on to pick her up. On those days, Chen Yuzhi would take Keying home and they would read stories and play with Xiao Bai and whenever Jiang Yuelou came over to take Keying home, they would always have dinner together. It was…rather domestic and Chen Yuzhi found himself falling for Jiang Yuelou more and more. I mean, could you really fault him? Jiang Yuelou was good looking, he was kind, he loved his daughter, he was everything that a woman would want in a partner…something that he would want in a partner. But he knew that having a relationship with Jiang Yuelou was unattainable so just being friends with the man and his daughter was enough for him.
A few weeks later, as Chen Yuzhi was sitting in his living room on his couch one evening, reading a book with Xiao Bai on his lap, there was a loud knock on his door, making him look up.
“Who could that be?” he murmured as he placed his book down and carefully scooped Xiao Bai off his lap, placing him on the couch cushion before he stood to his feet and walked over to the door, opening it to find Jiang Yuelou holding a very sleepy Keying in his arms, a duffle bag hanging from one of his arms.
“Jiang Yuelou?” he greeted, confusion in his eyes and voice. Jiang Yuelou looked at him and Chen Yuzhi noticed that there was some fear in his eyes.
“Can you watch Keying for a few days? I have to go and I can’t take her with me” he explained. Chen Yuzhi blinked in surprise before he nodded.
“O-Oh. Sure, yeah, I can watch her” he replied as he reached out and carefully took Keying from Jiang Yuelou’s arms, taking her and holding her in his arms, Keying slumping against him as she slept. Jiang Yuelou then handed him the duffle bag before he let out a breath of relief.
“Thank you Yuzhi” he thanked. Chen Yuzhi nodded before he frowned.
“Where are you going?” he asked. Jiang Yuelou bit his lip, he had been keeping his second life a secret from the young teacher for a good couple of months and he wasn’t going to put him in danger by telling him where he was going.
“Um, just a business trip” he explained. Chen Yuzhi frowned.
“A business trip?” he repeated. Jiang Yuelou nodded.
“I just got recently called to go which is why I’m kind of rushing” he lied. Chen Yuzhi looked at him before he nodded slowly and hefted Keying his arms.
“I see” he murmured. Jiang Yuelou smiled before he stepped forward and pressed a kiss to the back of Keying’s head before pressing a kiss to Chen Yuzhi’s forehead.
“Thank you Yuzhi” he thanked before he turned and walked away, leaving Chen Yuzhi stunned. He blinked a few times before he stepped out of his house and looked down the street to where Jiang Yuelou was walking away.
“Jiang Yuelou!” he called out, making Jiang Yuelou stop and look back at him, a soft smile on his face.
“Be careful” Chen Yuzhi pleaded, almost like a wife begging her husband to be safe as he headed off to war. Jiang Yuelou smirked softly before he nodded and turned, continuing down the street as Chen Yuzhi watched him walk away, holding Keying in his arms. Once he could no longer see Jiang Yuelou, Chen Yuzhi sighed and stepped back into his house, shutting the door behind him, not realizing that the entire time, someone was watching him.
After Chen Yuzhi shut the door, he headed into his guest bedroom and placed Keying’s duffle bag down before he walked over to the bed, placing Keying down before tucking her in. Keying immediately snuggled into the warm blankets, causing Chen Yuzhi to smile fondly and gently brush her bangs out of her face before he turned and headed out of the bedroom, heading back to the living room to continue reading. He read for a little while more before he felt his eyelids drooping and soon he was asleep, the book falling out of his hand. Around midnight, as Chen Yuzhi and Keying were sleeping peacefully, men dressed in black quickly and quietly slipped over to Chen Yuzhi’s house, picking the locks before slipping inside. One man noticed Chen Yuzhi sleeping on the couch, so he quietly crept over to him while motioning for the other man to go and find Keying. As the man crept over to Chen Yuzhi’s bed, a floorboard creaked, causing Chen Yuzhi to stir and crack open an eye.
“Who’s there?” he murmured. The man’s eyes widened before he quickly rushed over to Chen Yuzhi and covered his face with a cloth, causing Chen Yuzhi to snap awake and try to fight him. However, whatever was on the cloth made him feel dizzy and within seconds, Chen Yuzhi felt himself falling into blackness.
When Chen Yuzhi awoke a little while later, he found himself suspended a good couple of feet in the air, his wrists bound as he hung from a hook connected to a chain.
“Wha—” he murmured before he looked to his right to see Keying hanging from a chain as well, still unconscious.
“Keying? Sweetheart?” he called out, but Keying didn’t stir.
“She won’t wake up, Mr. Chen” a voice called out, making Chen Yuzhi turn to see a man in a suit slowly walking towards them.
“Why? Why won’t she wake up?” he demanded. The man smiled.
“We may have added too much chloroform to her rag…she’ll be out for a little while” he explained, shrugging carelessly. Chen Yuzhi growled before he huffed.
“Why did you kidnap us? Who are you” he demanded. The man laughed and waved his hand.
“Someone you won’t remember. As for your first question, I kidnapped you two as bait” he declared. Chen Yuzhi frowned.
“Bait? Bait for who?” he asked. The man tilted his head.
“Do you not know? Jiang Yuelou, of course” he declared. Chen Yuzhi looked at him with wide eyes, feeling as though someone had just dumped a bucket of ice water on him.
“What?” he breathed. The man laughed.
“Oh, you poor, stupid, innocent man! I bet you have no idea who Jiang Yuelou is!” he exclaimed. Chen Yuzhi frowned.
“W-who is he?” he asked. The man laughed again.
“Jiang Yuelou? Why he’s the leader of the most dangerous mafia in Jing City! Hell, he’s the most dangerous man in Jing City!” he exclaimed. The bucket of ice water splashed over Chen Yuzhi again, causing him to shudder in shock at the idea that he had been falling…falling for a triad member. He was quiet for a few moments before he looked at the man.
“But…but why are we bait for Jiang Yuelou? I don’t understand” he stated. The man sighed.
“You see, my dear Mr. Chen, like I told you, Jiang Yuelou is the most dangerous man in Jing City. But because he’s the most dangerous man in the city, that means he also probably has a lot of connections, which I want” he explained. Chen Yuzhi shook his head as he hissed, feeling his arms beginning to strain from hanging in the air for so long.
“Then why not just ask to join his triad? Why kidnap us?” he grunted. The man tsked and shook his head.
“You really are so innocent, Mr. Chen. You see, if we kidnap you, we’re showing Jiang Yuelou that we’re serious about him helping us because if he doesn’t help us, we’ll kill his precious lover and his daughter” he purred. Chen Yuzhi’s eyes widened.
“Lover? But…I’m not—” he started when the man laughed, long and loud.
“Are you sure? We’ve been watching you for months, Mr. Chen and Jiang Yuelou always seems to be at your house and you always seem to be taking care of Keying…is that not something a lover would do? Is spending time together not something lovers would do?” he asked. Chen Yuzhi blinked, mouth opening and closing like a dying fish, trying to find the words, but found that he couldn’t. Just then, the doors to the warehouse that they were being held in burst in and Jiang Yuelou, Sun Yongren, and Song Rong burst in, their guns drawn.
“Jiang Yuelou” Chen Yuzhi breathed, never in his life happier to see the man. Jiang Yuelou then looked up and when he saw Chen Yuzhi and Keying hanging there, a murderous fire entered his eyes as he pointed his gun at the man.
“Let them go” he growled. The man laughed and shook his head.
“Now why would I do that, Jiang Yuelou?” he asked. Jiang Yuelou growled as he shifted his gun so that it was pointed right between the man’s eyes.
“I can and will put a bullet between your eyes” he threatened. The man hummed.
“You see, you could do that but you unfortunately outnumbered” he stated as he snapped his fingers, goons suddenly coming out of the shadows with rifles, Tech 9s, and Glocks. Jiang Yuelou, Song Rong, and Sun Yongren’s eyes widened as they looked at the men surrounding them but they didn’t put their guns down, still ready to go down with a fight.
“Looks like you’re outnumbered, Jiang Yuelou” the man purred. Chen Yuzhi’s eyes widened and he knew he had to do something or Jiang Yuelou was going to die and he was probably going to have to watch, so he glanced up at his hands and maneuvered them so that they were gripping the hook as he strained to pull himself up, holding himself there long enough to use his teeth to undo the ropes. Once he removed the ropes from his wrist, he slowly moved his hand up the hook to up the chain, pulling himself up like he would pull himself up a rope. After he got a good grasp on the chain, and sweet baby Jesus his arms were burning, he looked over at Keying, who was still unconscious, and grit his teeth.
“Hang on sweetheart” he murmured before he began swinging the chain back and forth, giving himself enough momentum before he launched himself at the chain holding Keying, grasping at it with both hands before he slowly slid down it, making sure his body was flush with Keying’s. He then held onto the chain with one hand, using all of his strength to keep him up as he wrapped an arm around Keying and began untying the rope with his mouth. Once she was free, he held onto her tightly before he looked down, noticing that there was a goon just below him.
“Sorry about this” he murmured before he let go of the chain and fell towards the man, using him as a way to soften his way down. When he landed, the man fell with a crash and sent his gun skittering, causing everyone to turn and look at him with wide eyes.
“How the fuck—” the man who had kidnapped him murmured as Chen Yuzhi knelt down and pulled out the spare handgun the man he had either knocked out, paralyzed, or killed (he wasn’t sure which one he had done) before pointing it at the man.
“Not quite” he declared as he pulled the trigger, hitting the man in the temple, killing him instantly. Jiang Yuelou, Song Rong, and Sun Yongren looked at him in shock, just as the other goons turned towards them and began firing.
“Yuzhi, get down!” Jiang Yuelou shouted before he, Song Rong, and Sun Yongren took cover while firing back. Chen Yuzhi quickly ducked down, still holding the gun in one hand while clutching Keying to him. When one of the goons came towards him, he pointed the gun at them and fired a couple of times before he pushed himself up and ran over to nearby crates, hiding behind them, letting Jiang Yuelou and the others deal with the goons. As he hid, Keying slowly began to stir, blinking a couple of times before she looked up at him.
“Gege? What’s going on?” she asked, just as gunshots rang out, causing her to scream and bury her face in Chen Yuzhi’s chest. Chen Yuzhi quickly pulled Keying against him, tucking her under his chin as he curled around her.
“I got you, Keying. I got you, don’t worry. No one’s gonna hurt you” he promised, just as everything fell silent, causing Chen Yuzhi to look up with wide eyes. Keying looked up as well, tears in her eyes.
“Is it over, gege?” she whimpered. Chen Yuzhi was quiet before he slowly pushed himself to his feet, holding her tightly as he clutched the gun in his hand, silently slipping around the crates, only to find Jiang Yuelou, Song Rong, and Sun Yongren surrounded by bodies. Jiang Yuelou then looked over at him and he let out a heavy sigh of relief before he handed Song Rong his gun and quickly jogged over to Chen Yuzhi and Keying, stopping before them.
“Yuzhi” he breathed, looking at the young teacher. Chen Yuzhi looked back at him and could feel tears coming to his eyes.
“Yuelou” he whimpered. Jiang Yuelou quickly pulled him in for a hug, holding him tightly, Chen Yuzhi burying his face in Jiang Yuelou’s neck.
“I got you. I got you, Yuzhi. You’re safe now” Jiang Yuelou promised before he pulled back, looking Chen Yuzhi in the eyes.
“Let’s get you home, okay?” he murmured. Chen Yuzhi nodded.
“Please” he whispered. Jiang Yuelou nodded as he wrapped his arm around Chen Yuzhi and guided him out of the warehouse, Keying still wrapped tightly in Chen Yuzhi’s arms, Song Rong and Sun Yongren following behind.
After leaving the warehouse, Jiang Yuelou took Chen Yuzhi back to his house and guided him over to the couch, sitting him down while Keying remained curled in his arms, still slightly traumatized. The three of them sat in silence for a while before Chen Yuzhi looked at Jiang Yuelou.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” he whispered. Jiang Yuelou looked back at him before he sighed.
“Because I didn’t want you to get hurt…obviously that didn’t work” he murmured. Chen Yuzhi scoffed.
“Obviously” he spat. Jiang Yuelou sighed again before he looked at Chen Yuzhi.
“I didn’t mean to lie to you…but you lied to me too” he stated, making Chen Yuzhi look up at him with wide eyes.
“How did I—” he started when Jiang Yuelou gave him a look.
“You with the gun? With rescuing yourself and Keying? No normal person can do that with the ease that you did…you were mafia, weren’t you?” he asked. Chen Yuzhi looked at him with wide eyes, stunned that he had been discovered, before he sighed and lowered his gaze.
“I was…once. But never an active member, I was just the doctor” he admitted. Jiang Yuelou hummed.
“Why did you leave?” he asked. Chen Yuzhi shook his head.
“I saw too many…deaths. I watched my friends, people I cared about, die and I couldn’t do anything…I couldn’t save them” he croaked. Jiang Yuelou looked at him with sadness in his eyes and made to say something when Chen Yuzhi stood up and walked over to him, carefully placing Keying in his arms.
“I think you should go now, Mr. Jiang” he murmured. Jiang Yuelou looked up at him in surprise; it had been a while since Chen Yuzhi had called him “Mr. Jiang”.
“Yuzhi—” he started when Chen Yuzhi just looked at him.
“Please” he begged. Jiang Yuelou looked back at him before he sighed and nodded, standing to his feet.
“Alright” he murmured, heading towards the door. Before he stepped out of the house, he stopped and looked back at Chen Yuzhi, who just looked so small and innocent in his cream colored sweater that he couldn’t help but smile.
“Yuzhi” he called out, making Chen Yuzhi look up at him, his eyes big like a deer caught in headlights. Jiang Yuelou’s smile then turned sad.
“I’m really am sorry. For getting you involved in this mess” he apologized before he stepped out of the house and shut the door behind him. Chen Yuzhi stared at his door with wide eyes before he stumbled back to his couch, sitting down. He then let out a shuddering breath before he put his head in his hands and heavy sighed.
Over the next couple of weeks, everything went back to normal: Jiang Yuelou dropped Keying off at school and on days that he would be late, he would text Chen Yuzhi that he could take Keying home. Chen Yuzhi then would take Keying home, they would do all the things that they normally did before the kidnapping, such as Jiang Yuelou and Keying staying over to eat dinner whenever Jiang Yuelou came to pick Keying up, but Keying could tell something was different…something was wrong. Chen Yuzhi and Jiang Yuelou could barely look at each other and whenever they did, their looks were either sad or guilty, not the normal flirtatious looks that they normally gave each other or the soft, almost fond looks they had on their faces when the other wasn’t looking. Keying wanted those looks back, she didn’t want…whatever the hell this was. That night, after dinner, as Jiang Yuelou and Keying were heading home, Keying looked up at Jiang Yuelou.
“Daddy? What’s wrong with gege?” she asked. Jiang Yuelou looked down at her and raised an eyebrow.
“What do you mean?” he replied. Keying shook her head.
“I don’t know, but he seems…sad. I mean, I know he puts on a happy face at school but whenever I’m over at his house he just looks…sad. And whenever we eat dinner together, it’s awkward and I don’t like it” she declared. She then looked up at him and gave his hand a tug.
“Daddy, fix it! Make gege smile again!” she begged. Jiang Yuelou frowned.
“I don’t…I don’t know if I can, baby” he murmured. Keying looked at him with tear eyes.
“But you have to! I don’t like it when gege’s sad! I know you don’t like it when gege’s sad! You always know how to make me smile, so surely you must know how to make him smile!” she cried, almost going into hysterics at that point. Jiang Yuelou looked at her before he sighed and reached down, scooping her into his arms before carrying on home.
“Alright…alright, Daddy will think of something to get Yuzhi to smile again” he murmured. Keying grinned as she wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a hug.
“Thank you daddy” she murmured. Jiang Yuelou smiled and gently pet her hair before he sighed softly. How the fuck was he going to get Chen Yuzhi to smile again when the young man didn’t even seem to want to be around him.
The school year soon came and went and soon it was the last day of the first semester. When Jiang Yuelou came to pick up Keying from school, he found her sitting out Chen Yuzhi’s classroom, waiting patiently for him.
“Hey baby” he greeted as he walked over to her, Keying’s head snapping up from where it was buried in a book. She then grinned and quickly put her book in her bag before she stood up and ran over to him, wrapping her small arms around his waist.
“Hi Daddy” she replied. Jiang Yuelou smiled before he leaned down and pressed a kiss to her hair.
“I’m going to speak to Mr. Chen for a moment…why don’t you go and play, okay?” he suggested. Keying nodded and grabbed her bag before rushing off to go play with the other kids on the playground as Jiang Yuelou walked over to the door of the classroom and opened it, slipping inside. He stood at the doorway for a moment, watching as Chen Yuzhi cleaned up his desk, packing up for the winter break. He smiled fondly before he quietly walked over to Chen Yuzhi’s desk and stood before it, leaning forward so that his face was close with Chen Yuzhi’s.
“Hello Yuzhi” he greeted, a soft purr in his voice. Chen Yuzhi let out a gasp as his head snapped up, his eyes wide like a deer in headlights as he stumbled backwards, almost falling over his chair if Jiang Yuelou hadn’t reached out and grasped his wrist, catching him. Chen Yuzhi then looked at him, his eyes still wide.
“Yuelou” he breathed. Jiang Yuelou hummed as he gently stroked the inside of Chen Yuzhi’s wrist.
“It’s been a while since you’ve called me that” he mused. Chen Yuzhi blinked before he lowered his gaze.
“Yuelou—” he started.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Yuzhi” Jiang Yuelou apologized, making Chen Yuzhi look up in confusion.
“What?” he breathed. Jiang Yuelou shook his head.
“I never meant for you to get hurt. You or Keying. Really. I’m sorry” he apologized, sincerity in his voice. Chen Yuzhi looked at him before he sighed.
“I don’t…I don’t blame you, Yuelou. I know that being a mafia boss is your job” he murmured.
“You may not blame me, but you hate me, right? You hate being around me” Jiang Yuelou declared. Chen Yuzhi’s eyes widened.
“What? No, I don’t hate you!” he exclaimed. Jiang Yuelou gave him a look.
“You do. Keying can tell. She can tell that you’re sad and upset and she asked me to fix it. To “make gege smile again”. But I can’t get you to smile unless you tell me what I need to do to make you smile” he stated. Chen Yuzhi blinked before he huffed.
“It’s…It’s not…” he started before tears began streaming down his face. Jiang Yuelou’s eyes widened and he quickly walked around Chen Yuzhi’s desk, looking at him with wide eyes.
“Yuzhi” he breathed. Chen Yuzhi looked at him before he let out a sob.
“I don’t blame you…it’s not your fault, it’s mine. I got to close to you, I-I’m the reason Keying got kidnapped. If…If I hadn’t offered to watch Keying that night, none of this would have happened. It’s…I’m sorry” he croaked. Jiang Yuelou’s eyes widened and he quickly pulled Chen Yuzhi in for a hug, Chen Yuzhi burying his face in Jiang Yuelou’s neck.
“It’s not your fault, Yuzhi. It’s not your fault at all. I should have told you what I was and who I was from the beginning. You wouldn’t want to stay around me then” Jiang Yuelou murmured. Chen Yuzhi shook his head.
“That’s a lie…I’d still fall for you anyways” he murmured before his eyes widened when he realized what he said out loud. He then pulled away, Jiang Yuelou looking at him with wide eyes.
“Yuzhi…you…do you—” he started when Chen Yuzhi nodded.
“Yes…I’ve had them for a while” he whispered, almost as if he was ashamed. Jiang Yuelou then reached out, grasping Chen Yuzhi’s hand in his, making Chen Yuzhi look at him in confusion.
“Yuelou, what—” he started.
“Go out with me” Jiang Yuelou declared, causing Chen Yuzhi’s eyes to widen and his mouth to fall open in shock.
“What?!” he exclaimed. Jiang Yuelou nodded.
“Go out with me. Please. Let me make myself worthy of the feelings you have for me. Let me…let me make you happy, as I’ve seemed to only make you sad” he murmured. Chen Yuzhi blinked again as Jiang Yuelou continued to look at him.
“Just one date. That’s all I ask. Afterwards, we can go back to being Mr. Jiang and Mr. Chen if that’s what’ll make you happy. Because that’s all Keying and I want for you, Yuzhi. To be happy” he murmured. Chen Yuzhi was quiet, his hands still in Jiang Yuelou’s as he thought it over. He then looked into Jiang Yuelou’s eyes and smiled slightly.
“Alright…one date” he agreed. Jiang Yuelou grinned before he pulled Chen Yuzhi in for a hug, Chen Yuzhi letting out a little squeak at the force that he was yanked into the hug. He then blinked twice before he huffed and relaxed into the embrace, resting his chin on Jiang Yuelou’s shoulder, Jiang Yuelou giving him a good squeeze before he pulled away and smiled at Chen Yuzhi.
“Thank you, Yuzhi. You won’t regret this, I promise” he declared as he released Chen Yuzhi from his hug and stepped back. Chen Yuzhi then frowned.
“But…where are we going? For our date?” he asked. Jiang Yuelou hummed.
“Well, why don’t you pick? I’ll go wherever you want to go” he declared. Chen Yuzhi was quiet, thinking, before he looked at Jiang Yuelou.
“I’ve…never gone horseback riding and I’ve always wanted to go” he murmured. Jiang Yuelou smiled.
“Horseback riding it is. I just so happen to have a stable out in the countryside, so we can go tomorrow, if you’d like. Does 8:00 sound okay?” he asked. Chen Yuzhi blinked before he nodded.
“Yeah…but what about Keying?” he inquired. Jiang Yuelou smiled.
“I’ll have Song Rong and Sun Yongren watch her. So it’ll just be the two of us. Is that alright?” he asked. Chen Yuzhi blushed before he nodded.
“Yeah” he agreed. Jiang Yuelou smiled.
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow at 8” he declared as he turned and headed out of the classroom, pausing at the door to look back at Chen Yuzhi.
“Thank you, Yuzhi. You won’t regret this, I promise” he assured before he continued out the door. Chen Yuzhi watched him walk away before he smiled slightly.
“I know” he murmured.
The horseback riding date was a success (like Jiang Yuelou and Chen Yuzhi both knew it would be) so Chen Yuzhi and Jiang Yuelou decided to make more plans in the future, some of their dates even including Keying so that the three of them could all have fun together. On those dates in particular, Keying loved to watch Chen Yuzhi and Jiang Yuelou interact because they made each other smile and laugh and they also made her feel incredibly safe (she could thank their mafia backgrounds for that) so when Jiang Yuelou decided to propose to Chen Yuzhi a few months after they had been dating (like really dating not just flirting at dinner) Keying couldn’t be more thrilled because she liked seeing her father and her favorite teacher happy, especially with each other. Being their daughter was just an added bonus. And if she one day came home after school with a drawing in her hand that showed her in between Jiang Yuelou and Chen Yuzhi, Chen Yuzhi might have just shed a tear or two before he scooped Keying into his arms and gave her the biggest squeeze while Jiang Yuelou watched, a fond smile on his face. He never thought that Chen Yuzhi would agree to speak with him again, let alone go out with him, let alone marry him, after everything that happened but he was really grateful that the teacher was willing to give him, give them, a chance and finally be the missing puzzle piece that their family needed.