Bromance 01 – Discovering Her Truth (Hansheng)

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Discovering Her Truth

“I’m here for you. Regardless of what you have done, you are still my son,” his father repeated to him, as he had at every hearing over the past year. Patting him on the shoulder one more time from behind the barricade, he moved back and sat down in the front row.

Hansheng sat at the defense table, his hands cuffed and his limbs chained. He kept his gaze lowered, not wanting to meet anyone’s eyes at the moment.  

“Based on the defendant’s past history of drug trafficking, violent aggressions, attempted murder and murder, I am sentencing him to life in prison.”

Hansheng looked up, meeting the gaze of the judge on the bench.

“You are a young man, and we hope that means you are young enough to learn from your mistakes. Show us you’ve changed, and you may see freedom in this lifetime.”

Hansheng looked away, his gaze resolute. Getting up, he looked at his father, nodding his head at him. With that one nod, he promised that he would stay out of trouble in jail. He wouldn’t use the power that being a triad member gave him to do bad things. He would try to rehabilitate. He wouldn’t implode just because his own actions had landed him in jail.

Turning, he began to make his way towards the exit doors, but a movement out of the corner of his eye stopped him. Turning, Hansheng’s eyes widened to see him standing there.

Hansheng sat in the prison cafeteria, his usual table, his usual group of minions sitting nearby. They were close enough to hear his orders, far enough away not to get on his nerves. Tuning out the noises of the other inmates around him, he thought about the sight that had met his eyes in the courtroom.

What had he been doing there? Du Zifeng. The outsider who had become so much a part of the family that he had become the triad leader, stepping over Hansheng, even though Hansheng had been groomed for the position for years. Du Zifeng was his childhood mate. The man who had become his enemy, because Hansheng himself had thought him so. He had let his envy of Du Zifeng, and his anger at being endlessly compared to the other man, eat away at him until there was nothing but darkness left inside. It had taken his father turning himself in for his son’s crimes that had awakened Hansheng to how low he had sunk. Forgetting the loyalty and brotherhood of the triad, he had turned on his own family to cover his own craven actions.

Du Zifeng had been there at the hearing, as he had been for every other hearing that had been held over the course of the past year. The old him would have been irritated by Du Zifeng’s presence, wondering if the other man was there to taunt him. The old him would have wondered whether Zifeng was there to say, “Look at me. Look at where I am. Look at where you are today. I’m much smarter than you. I’m much stronger than you. That’s why I’m still the leader of the triad, and you’re the felon in jail.”

After all, hadn’t he thought the same things on repeat the first few months in jail? Even when he had been the one to willingly turn himself in. Time had passed, and the monotony of imprisonment had forced his mind down a different path than it was used to traversing. In the past year, he had learned to deal with imprisonment. He had fought his way to the top of the prison hierarchy. He had begun to deal with the fact that he would be spending a majority of his life behind bars. He had begun to let go of some of his anger. He had learned how to process the world through a mind that was finally free of his victim mentality. He had finally learned how to notice things for what they were, rather than what his mind believed them to be.

Hansheng clenched his fists, his mouth turning down at the corners. He could figure out why Du Zifeng had really been there.

‘Buddies are for a lifetime.’

Du Zifeng was there because of their history together. They once used to be friends. They once used to be family. Because Zifeng still considered Hansheng part of his family, he had shown up and been there every step of the way.

He stood there, his eyes trained on Hansheng. He wasn’t there alone, his arm around a woman’s shoulder. She had short hair, her figure slender. The two gazed at each other for a moment, and the woman reached up to pat Zifeng’s hand where it rested on her shoulder. When she turned her body slightly, Hansheng saw the bulge of her stomach.

She was pregnant.

Hansheng had paused for a moment, his attention captured by the emotion in Du Zifeng’s eyes. The protectiveness. The careful touching, as he had run a loving hand over her stomach. From the way Zifeng gazed at her, Hansheng knew they were together. The way he caressed her stomach, he knew that Zifeng was about to become a father.

That emotion . . . he had only seen that emotion once before . . .

What had happened to that feminine male?

Pi Yanuo?

The pictures that his spies had taken cataloguing their intimate moments. . . how Yanuo had peeled the shrimp for Zifeng . . . Zifeng’s careful tending of Yanuo’s burn . . . had spoken of deeper emotions on Du Zifeng’s part. He had seen his own death in Zifeng’s eyes after that food truck attempt, knowing then that he had dared to touch something that Zifeng loved.

“Now our report on the Three Triad families of Taiwan, lead by Du Zifeng, and their continuing efforts to legalize their businesses . . .”

The drone of cafeteria noises intruded for a moment, but he pushed them back. His mouth twisting wryly, as he admitted to himself that he was disappointed. Zifeng wasn’t as steady as he had thought him. Tapping a finger to his lips, he pondered how quickly Zifeng had moved on. He would have had to have dumped Pi Yanuo, married this woman and begun a new family in a matter of months.

Had he just left Pi Yanuo behind?

“Boss, here’s your food,” an anxious voice said, coming to place the tray on the table in front of him.

He growled angrily, looking at the unappetizing food.

“They’re working on getting you better fare,” one of the minions offered from the end of the table in an effort to placate.

Hansheng shrugged his shoulders, and turned back to the food, stuffing it into his mouth. Glaring at the men, seeing that they were suitably cowed, he turned his attention to the TV. His eyes narrowed in confusion on seeing Zifeng’s face.  What the hell was he doing on TV? Just because he better understood the guy and the world around him didn’t mean he wanted to see Zifeng on his TV. “Hey!” he called out, bringing the men to attention.

“Du Zifeng, the man in charge, has talked about progress on their second amusement park located just outside of the city. Construction began on the grounds six months ago.”

“Change the channel or turn the TV off,” Hansheng barked at one of the men.

“Du Zifeng and his wife, Pi Yanuo, have new innovative plans for th–“

The screen turned dark.

Hansheng swiveled his head, glaring at the trembling man with the remote in his head. “Turn it back on!” he roared at him.

‘Wife?!’ What the hell?!

The TV came back on.

“These two have become the Golden Couple of our city. For those of you who have been living under a rock, a quick review. Pi Yanuo is the former ‘male’ who worked as a special assistant to the General Manager, Du Zifeng. The three families and all of society were shocked when the truth came out that Pi Yanuo was actually a woman, forced to live as a man for the first 25 years of her life due to a fortune told by a fraudulent fortuneteller. Not only did Du Zifeng accept her and loved her in her male avatar, but his dedication to her post-transformation has stolen the hearts of our citizens.” 

“Turn it off!” Hansheng growled, his eyes trained on the pictures of the happy couple flashing before his eyes. Wedding pictures. The two at work. With friends. Always smiling and gazing at each other. Pi Yanuo was the woman who had been with Du Zifeng at the last hearing. Pi Yanuo was pregnant.

He was a she.

His mind flashed to their previous encounters.

Their meeting in front of the three heads of the triads. He had been soundly beaten by her and Zifeng.

The time when he had tried to use Zherui to deflects suspicion off of him. Yanuo had swept his feet out from under him, landing him on the floor in front of his men.

The third time . . . when he . .. she had come to avenge Zherui. And had soundly beaten him, even dislocating his shoulder for the injury he had caused the other man.

He stared at his food, a muscle twitching in his jaw. The world . . . or at least anyone who  mattered, knew of his shame. He had been beaten by a girl! Him. Hansheng. The man, who spent most of his days in the boxing rink, had been beaten by a girl!

He silently screamed, the yell echoing in his brain. It wasn’t enough. Getting up, he roared into the now silent room, flipping his tray of food into the air.

He had been beaten by a girl!

“Boss, what’s the matter?” a worried voice asked, the figure sidling up to stand next to him.

Hansheng turned and glared at him, his anger pulsing inside of him. “Nothing,” he growled out after a moment, finally able to control of his voice. “The food stinks.”

Sitting back down, he covered his face with his hands, taking a deep breath. After all, what else could he say? How could he tell anyone who didn’t already know that he had been beaten by a girl? He clenched his teeth, the muscle in his jaw twitching once more. That would be his own secret shame inside these prison walls.

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