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Remember Me

Chapter Text

It was a bright sunny day. The temperature was just right, not too hot, not too cold. A perfect day to wait, to be able to finally meet him. He looked down at his clothes as if making sure he looked alright. He wanted to look good for him.

The kids were playing in the park.

"Catch!" children shouted, their babyish voices echoed in the air.

The ball flew high in the air, the small kid ran, his eyes trained at his plaything. And just like that, he bumped into someone, falling back.

"Oh, you alright, young man?"

The kid looked up at the hand, extended towards him and then at the man smiling down at him. The kid was slightly surprised to see the person, up close.

"Are you hurt?" The voice was as sweet as his smile. The kid sat frozen for a moment before finally taking the hand and then getting up.

The kid nervously smiled and shook his head.

"Your friends waiting for you I think."

The kid turned to look where the man was looking, to see his friends waiting for him to join them.

"Thank you... thank you, sir." The kid gingerly bowed and then ran off.

The nervousness in the kid made him chuckle lightly to himself. He looked around, a sense of calm filled him, it was the day. He breathed in deep, the fresh breeze filled his lungs. He then went back to his usual spot, an empty bench, his sincere tight-lipped smile never fading.

He looked around, it was a beautiful day indeed. He looked at his watch. The happiness radiated from every inch of him like sunshine. Any time now. He smiled to himself, his heart giddy in joy.

"Are you waiting for someone?"

The man was surprised to see a stranger sitting right beside him. He nodded to the question with a smile, his pink chapped lips in a thin line, "My husband."

The stranger nodded with a small smile on the answer, "That was my son you helped there."

"Oh...he is a beautiful kid." The man was sincere in his speech.

The stranger turned to look at the man on the words. And he couldn't help admiring the beauty and grace of the man. Chiselled nose, milky white skin that seemed to be glowing in the sunlight, a head full of salt and pepper, for a man his age, he looked mesmerizingly beautiful. He was the most beautiful man he had ever known, the most beautiful, and it made him sad.

"I think I have seen you somewhere..." the man almost mumbled, breaking the reverie of the stranger.

The stranger smiled, his smile brimmed with affection, "Me too..." he replied, his eyes twinkled with an unspoken sorrow, "And you look good."

His words made the man conscious. He looked down at his clothes and then awkwardly smiled back at the stranger.

"My name is Chu Shuzhi..."

The name confused the man and Chu Shuzhi could read it in his expressions. He smiled wider, "May I know your name?"

"My name... my name is Zhao Yunlan..." The man seemed to be very satisfied, at peace to let on his identity.

The bashful smile saddened Chu Shuzhi, he looked away, "And may I know your husband's name?"

There was a pause and deep exhale.

"His name is... Zhao Yunlan."

10 Years Back

"Yunlan!" the woman shouted, trying to be heard over the sound of the deafening roar of her mixer.

However, the person she called only groaned and hid deeper into the duvet, annoyed by the call.

"You will be late!" she again yelled on the top of the lungs and then turned off the mixer.

She glared at the man who entered the kitchen. She snapped, "It is all because of you."

"Me? What did I do?" He seated himself at the small round dining table.

"You always woke up late and now our son has the habit." She served the tea, "And he is as lazy as you. I asked him to fix the stove but he did not do it!"

The man turned his glasses on his nose. With a sweet smile, he interrupted her rageful episode, "The tea is beautiful, just like you."

The woman was about to shout again but the words killed her rant. She was suddenly nervous, at loss for words. There was an adorable blush over her cheeks now. She looked down, fumbling with her fingers.

And all of it made the sleepy man smile. He could hear his parents from the kitchen. There was no better way to start the day. With a smile, he lazily got off the bed. He was about to enter the washroom when he felt the earth shaking accompanied by a loud sound of an explosion.

His eyes widened in confusion and partial scare, he rushed out, already bathed in panic. His feet abruptly paused the moment he entered the living room.

His heart was suddenly heavy, a gasp left his lips, his gaze froze. There were just pieces but he could recognise them. Sometimes you jinx your own happiness and Zhao Yunlan considered it one of those times when he jinxed what all he had.

One by one, tears trickled his cheek, his lips trembled. He could feel his knees buckling. Finally, Zhao Yunlan collapsed. He was on his knees wailing loudly, his voice was hoarse with gut-wrenching cries.

And then he woke up, heaving. His breathing was laboured, he was bathed in sweat. He looked around, horrified to the gut. with no light, not even a night lamp, his room looked all the gloomier.

Still struggling to catch his breath, he held his forehead, elbows resting on the knees. He turned his head, his sunken eyes crinkled, struggling to look at the tiny table clock.

"4 AM."

* * * * * * * *

"It was... it was so real," Zhao Yunlan spoke, his eyes on the ceiling as he leaned against the back of the chair.

Dr Wang could only smile sadly, "But you know it was not real."

He straightened, now having her gaze at his friend who was also his psychiatrist. His condition saddened Wang. The guy looked more miserable than the day before.

The cabin to the private clinic was quiet, there was no noise. And with the acoustic glasses, outside noises were cut out of the small space. The setup made it a bit cosy, an environment extremely favourable for the people visiting, looking for peace of mind.

"How much did you drink last night, Yunlan?" Her voice was sweet and gentle.

Her question made him softly scoff.

"Apparently, not enough. I could... I could hear their voices..."

"Who told you that drinking will stop these nightmares."

Zhao Yunlan looked away, denying the words. Drinking brought him numbness, it helped him forget things. He was struggling to control, rage or crying, wasn't very clear. He kept looking out of the window, at the empty streets of a snow-clad Shanghai.

This, again, made his childhood friend smile sadly. She got up and walked near her friend. She went down on her haunches, in front of Zhao Yunlan, only to find tiny droplets of tears hanging on his lashes. She gently held his hands.

The warmth of those hands was soothing, Zhao Yunlan squeezed his eyes, tears were forced out of the confines of his eyes.

"It has been for more than a decade, Yunlan. These nightmares that you have... you cannot stop them by drowning in alcohol."

Yunlan inhaled deeply.

"In each your nightmare, you see them dying but not once you have seen them going how they actually..."She paused, not wanting to use the word again and again in front of him, "Sometimes, it is an explosion, sometimes you see them both jumping from the balcony, sometimes you just see them collapsing right in front of your eyes while the actual cause of their death was..."

"Car crash..."

Both spoke at the same time.

"Understand, Yunlan. I know you were too small when it all happened but it has been 10 years. Subconsciously, you are living a life in denial."

"And what else do you think I should do?" Yunlan quaked, a tear silently escaping his one eye.

Wang had been answering this one question for the past 5 years, since the day Yunlan was assigned to her. But no answer could change Yunlan's perspective. This session ended with the same question. She one more time, made some changes to his medications and pleaded with him to cut down on his alcohol.

He walked out of the clinic, feeling no better. His heart weighed like a rock in his chest. He covered the lower half of his face with his thick muffler, the moment the cold breeze of December hit his face. With his hands shoved in the pockets of his trench coat, Zhao Yunlan walked his way to his work.

Zhao Yunlan was diagnosed with clinical PTSD when at 14 his parents died in a car accident and he witnessed it. He was an only child and all he had was his parents. After they left, the kid was passed from relatives to relatives with no one ready to keep a mentally unstable kid. One of the relatives even put him in the asylum that further damaged Zhao Yunlan's condition.

Though he was rescued, Zhao Yunlan had a very difficult childhood. With the help of counselling and constant care from caregivers at the orphanage, Zhao Yunlan somehow managed to grow up into a complex personality.

He liked to be left alone, hated meeting people and socialising. After moving out of the orphanage, he bought a house on the outskirts of the city where no one would disturb him.

Even at his workplace, he avoided people. He was so aloof, even people avoided him. The crowd dispersed the moment Zhao Yunlan entered the workplace. It was his ability to play with numbers that helped him to land this job as an accountant. The only good news was that he was excellent at it.

Zhao Yunlan never knew what happiness was. He looked at people smiling, making merry but he never understood the concept of it.

"I Love you."

"I love you more."

The words froze Zhao Yunlan as he was about to take a sip of his coffee. He had overheard these words quite many times. But he did not know why people said those words to each other. He shook his head and took a sip of his warm latte.

"May I?" Someone's polite voice took his attention.

Zhao Yunlan looked up, his brows creased in confusion.

"I'll take that as a yes," The guy shamelessly sat across him with a bright grin on his face.

"Excuse me?" Zhao Yunlan was surprised by the audacity of the stranger. He could already feel his temper rising.

"Excused." The guy smiled wider.

The response was even more confusing.

And this was the part where Zhao Yunlan's life was going to take a massive turn, for the best, for the worst.