Drunk In Love (Years of Intoxication) - Chap 39
The legal case of Song Juhan’s creative team caught taking drugs had become the highlight of this New Year’s period. During the Spring Festival* netizens that rarely got time off spent most of their holiday commenting on the incident. They set off wave after wave of articles and discussions targeting Song Juhan and Han Sheng. Eventually, the war spread to the entire Song Entertainment empire; many true—and false—incidents from the past were dug up and revealed.
*Spring Festival – (春节) or Chinese New Year
In the end, the heat of the discussions were deliberately redirected to the name “He Gu.” Immediately, a group of dedicated and angry fans launched an in-depth search, and overnight, He Gu’s photos, work, address, contact information, and resume were all made public. They firmly believed that Song Juhan was being dragged down by this man named “He Gu”—whether it was the fight incident at the restaurant or the current drug case, the fans needed something to vent at.
He Gu never expected that even after getting out on bail, the danger still hadn’t passed. When he saw his own photos plastered across every article online, his phone ringing nonstop to the point he was afraid to turn it on, and his mailbox full of strangers’ emails, he felt a kind of embarrassment akin to if he had been stripped naked and paraded on the streets.
As soon as the day broke, Sun Qing took matters into her own hands. She immediately reported the issue to the internet police, and used the police certificate she acquired to pressure all major search engines to delete He Gu’s personal information. But no matter what she did, the internet was simply too vast. How could she possibly delete everything cleanly? Besides, the more they deleted, the angrier the fans got.
Sun Qing was so livid she slapped the table. “Who are these people?! Who the hell do they think they are to expose other people’s privacy?! Why would they even do such a thing?!”
He Gu lowered his head and didn’t say a word. Although he didn’t understand how the internet and netizens worked, he did find it odd how the public opinion could change so drastically overnight. The initial anger at Song Juhan had suddenly changed to sympathy, whereas He Gu was now facing the end of the gun. No matter how he thought about it, it felt like someone was controlling the public opinion from inside.
Sun Qing seemed to have thought the exact same thing as a deep frown appeared on her forehead. “Do you think Song Juhan’s father did this? Did he redirect the heat to save his son?”
He Gu shook his head, “I don’t know.” Although, if he thought about it, Song He was someone capable of doing such a thing.
It had been a few days since Song Juhan was released on bail, and He Gu still hadn’t heard from him, even with the sudden development of the case. He Gu was afraid that if Song He was really behind this, then Song Juhan must’ve… acquiesced.
Sun Qing was pacing around the living room from frustration. “Originally, Nanchuang was willing to let you go back to work once the situation died down a little. But with this now, how are you supposed to go back!?”
He Gu looked at his hands, feeling utterly helpless. All he’d been doing for the last few days was waking up and going back to sleep like a useless person. It was as if—without work and without Song Juhan—he suddenly didn’t know what to do with his life.
Without warning, Sun Qing grabbed He Gu’s hands. “Son, why don’t you come to Shanghai with me? We have everything there, and you can start over.”
He Gu lifted his head and said calmly, “Mom, I don’t want to leave here.” It was already hard enough for He Gu to leave a familiar company. If he was to leave the city where he was born and grew up, it would simply be too huge a challenge for him. Things like short-distance holidays or business trips were fine, but to completely move away would be too much. He Gu couldn’t help but feel a sense of fear from deep within his heart.
“But there’s nothing to hold onto here.”
“Mom, I haven’t left here for twenty-eight years. You know how hard it is for me to adapt to a new environment with my personality.”
“It’s not as bad as you think. I’ll be there, your sister will be there, and as long as I’m still working in the company, no one will dare do anything to you. Come with me.”
He Gu shook his head, “Mom, I really can’t.” He thought for a moment, then made up his mind. “With regards to Susu… If you really can’t come up with a better idea by then, I promise I’ll help you. But I still don’t want to go to a strange new city, nor do I want to face the Li* family.”
*Li – (李) is the surname of Sun Qing’s second husband.
Sun Qing realised no matter what she said now, He Gu wouldn’t change his mind. She let out a long sigh, “Alright. I know you have social anxiety, and to be honest, it’s partially my fault.”
“Don’t worry about it. Since I’ve started working it has improved.” At least now he was able to take the initiative to make friends, and even go on business trips on his own.
“But this situation on the internet is just too much. I haven’t seen anything like it before. To be honest, I don’t really know what to do about it.” Sun Qing’s expression was full of worry. As someone of her age, who couldn’t even use a smartphone properly, how could she possibly understand the overwhelming and terrible power of the internet?
“It’ll pass eventually. If I can’t continue working at Nanchuang, I can always go to my friend’s company. I’ll just have to wait for the heat of this to pass,” He Gu reassured Sun Qing, and at the same time, reassured himself. Even if logically, he knew it would eventually be fine, He Gu couldn’t help but feel a sense of fear. As someone living through this ordeal, no one could understand better than He Gu the fear of being watched, of being scorned by millions, and the pain of being pierced by countless transparent swords.
Although He Gu was clearly innocent and didn’t do anything wrong, he had suddenly become the target of millions of angered fans, and proclaimed publicly as a shameless bastard. No matter what he said, no one would believe him.
It was like he was living a nightmare.
Unfortunately, the situation did not get any better. By the next day, the address of the hotel He Gu had been staying at had been leaked. Hundreds of fans, reporters, and curious bystanders surrounded the hotel to the point that not even water could seep through*. In the end, the hotel had to call the police to open up a path for guests and staff. Along with the security guards, the police set up a long barricade tape around the hotel to push back the crowds as they stood in preparation for potential chaos.
*水泄不通 lit. not one drop of water could trickle through (idiom) fig. crowded, impenetrable.
He Gu watched the countless moving heads from his window as a random smile stretched his lips. He couldn’t understand these people at all. How could they get so excited for someone they didn’t know? Were they that bored, or did they not have anything better to do with their time? He Gu was the type of person that was too lazy to say even one word to someone he didn’t know.
Sun Qing wanted to change He Gu to another hotel immediately, but all the entrances and exits had been blocked up. There was no way he could leave the hotel without being spotted, and even if he did change to another hotel, he was afraid the details would be leaked eventually. At that moment, He Gu felt too lazy to move.
Whatever, things couldn’t possibly get any worse, He Gu thought to himself. At least, up until this moment, he could still bear it all.
The phone Sun Qing had temporarily set up for He Gu started to ring. Since he had only given his new number to Gu Qingpei, Zhuang Jieyu and Chen Shan, it could only be one of them. He Gu picked up his phone—it was Zhuang Jieyu.
The moment the call connected, Zhuang Jieyu shouted, “He Gu, quick, quick, turn on the TV. Entertainment channel one. Song Juhan’s about to hold a press conference!”
He Gu was stunned. After staying silent for so many days, Song Juhan was finally coming out to say something.
Zhuang Jieyu let out a sigh, “I didn’t want to tell you at first, but I’m sure you’ll find out eventually. So I guess it’s better to find out sooner rather than later, right?”
“It’s okay, you’re right.” He Gu turned on the television and switched to entertainment channel one as Song Juhan, Song He, and Vanessa walked on stage surrounded by a group of bodyguards. Offstage, reporters and the endless flashes of their cameras could be seen in the background.
The impression Song He gave off had always been steady and serious. At this time, the expressionless look on his face was even more imposing than usual. He glanced around the room as the reporters instantly quieted down. On the other hand, Vanessa wore a conservative dress, her delicate features that were usually brimming with enthusiasm currently displaying a serious and heavy expression. For a woman that was nearing her fifties, she was still as beautiful and dazzling as ever.
As for Song Juhan, he wore a plain black suit without any accessories, and his normally messy curls were pulled back and fixed meticulously behind his head. Even while facing countless questioning gazes, he didn’t look to be in low spirits or timid in any way. Very calmly, he walked to the microphone and started to slowly adjust the height accordingly.
He Gu’s lips trembled slightly as his grip on the remote control tightened. He was very curious as to what Song Juhan would say about everything that had happened.
“Today,” Song Juhan started to speak, his voice just as alluring and captivating as always. “I was supposed to come here alone, but my parents insisted on supporting me. As a son, I let down my parents. They are the first ones I want to apologise to.” Song Juhan bowed to Song He and Vanessa respectively.
Song He’s expression changed slightly, but he didn’t say anything. Next to him, Vanessa watched Song Juhan with reddened eyes.
Almost instantly questions were fired at him as commotion ensued.
“As a singer, I let my fans—those who support me and those who look up to me—down. You all are the second group of people I want to apologise to.” Song Juhan bowed again.
The rapid sound of camera shutters went off one after another.
“And as a public figure, I’ve set a negative example and let all of you down—the whole of society, and especially the youth—and for that I apologise.”
“I didn’t manage my team and friends properly. When I found out about their misdeeds, I was more worried about my reputation, and didn’t stop them in time. That was the biggest mistake in my life. I accept this fully and have no excuse for my actions. I am willing to accept all legal responsibility and punishments…”
During his long and lengthy apology, Song Juhan said every word sincerely and honestly. The effect was clearly very positive.
He Gu wanted to laugh. In the past, he only paid attention to Song Juhan’s singing and never realised his acting was also that good. He Gu wasn’t sure what methods Song He and Vanessa used to force Song Juhan to hold a press conference and publicly apologise. With his personality, the most he would do was allow the company to release a statement in his name. There was no way Song Juhan would willingly lower his head and apologise.
“As for the baseless rumours online, I hope you’ll use your rationality and not be misled by those with ulterior motives.” Song Juhan paused for a second before he said earnestly, “The relationship between me and the homeowner is purely that of long-time friends. I ask you all to please respect and do not disturb the private lives of ordinary civilians.”
A shiver ran down He Gu’s spine as he came back to his senses.
Long-time friends… Indeed, how nice would it be if that were the whole truth.
After he finished, Song Juhan didn’t answer any of the questions fired at him. He simply turned and left.
The entire press conference lasted all of five minutes, but it was enough to cause an uproar.
He Gu’s mood was very complicated as he watched the host replay Song Juhan’s words repeatedly, carefully analysing his public apology.
Within a few minutes of the press conference ending a new post appeared on the online forums. This time the exposé revealed that this ‘He Gu’ person had been staying close and harassing Song Juhan as a so-called friend for many years. In order to reconcile with Song Juhan over the dispute at the restaurant, ‘He Gu’ invited his friends over for a gathering. Coincidentally they were followed by Han Sheng’s scheming wife, which led to the resulting incident.
The content of the post spread like wildfire, posted and reposted hundreds of times.
He Gu never imagined that the public scorn would be directed at himself in the end.
He sat stunned on the sofa as he watched Song Juhan’s face flash repeatedly across the television screen. Oddly, it felt like he was watching a stranger.
Everything blurred together. He wasn’t sure when he had last eaten, or whether he had slept at all. When he was startled awake by the knocking on the door, He Gu wasn’t even sure where he was anymore.
Shaking his head, He Gu staggered out of bed and stumbled his way to the living room. As he was still half asleep, he didn’t look at the time, so naturally it didn’t occur to him how strange it was for someone to knock on his door at three or four in the middle of the night. Without thinking to check, He Gu opened the door in a daze.
The man behind the door wore a black down jacket, mask, and cap. Even with most of his features covered up, and only a slit of his face showing, He Gu could recognise him just by his eyes. The moment their eyes connected, He Gu’s heart throbbed as his breath hitched, and like a conditioned reflex, he instantly slammed the door shut.
Before the door could close fully, Song Juhan pushed forward, held the door open and forced his way in.
The front door closed with a bang as He Gu took two steps back. Without blinking, he stared at Song Juhan, his chest heaving violently.
Song Juhan took off his cap and mask, then silently watched He Gu for a long while before he finally said, “You’ve gotten skinnier.”