“I bet that he is definitely my Emperor Father.”
Song Yuan returned to this scene: Rong Heng speaking to Rong Ting, the atmosphere not too bad.
“Okay, I’ve paid.” Song Yuan felt that tonight had been too chaotic. She pretended to glance at her watch and said, “Mr. Xie, it’s late. The child needs to sleep early. I’m sorry, but we’ll be heading back first.”
“I’ll have the driver send you back. It’s cold at night; be careful of catching a cold.”
Where did Song Yuan have the audacity to ride in his car? She was itching to have nothing to do with him anymore.
Yes–from the bottom of her heart, she didn’t believe that he was the Emperor Father that Rong Ting spoke of. There was no logic–if the emperor really transmigrated, he would be unregistered1; how could he be the Xie family’s crown prince? Who’d believe it?
“No,” Song Yuan quickly declined. “We like to take walks, and our home is nearby. We’ll buy fruit along the way.”
“Okay.” Rong Heng thought, then motioned for Song Yuan to follow him.
Upon seeing this gesture, Rong Ting headed, with startling alacrity, to the waiting room to eat popcorn.
When she asked him to get something, she’d never seen him act so cleverly. This child!
Rong Heng chuckled, but he also praised, “You taught your child well. He’s so sensible and polite.”
Song Yuan waved her hand, not daring to take credit. “He grew up with his dad, not me.”
Speaking of His Majesty the emperor, she went silent again. Recalling what happened today, she was unspeakably embarrassed and apologized to Rong Heng. “I’m really sorry. Kids like to play pranks. Don’t take it to heart.”
“But I think your son really thinks that I’m his dad. Earlier, when I came back, I accidentally overheard your conversation about taking a paternity test.” Rong Heng paused. “I can go along with it.”
Song Yuan, dumbfounded, thought she had a problem with her ears. “It’s nonsense. No, no, there’s no need for that. It’s not appropriate.”
How was it appropriate?
Anyone could figure out that the Emperor Father who Rong Ting spoke of definitely wasn’t him. Why would he want to take a paternity test? Wasn’t it nonsense? Wasn’t he doing more than he needed to? It was too absurd.
But Rong Heng didn’t mind. “I just feel like you and your son are familiar. It must be fate. I just met your son, and even without conversing, I can tell that he’s a very stubborn child. I don’t know why he thinks that I’m his dad, but I still think I should satisfy the child’s curiosity. It’s just an appraisal; it’s very simple. When he sees the result, he won’t think that way again.”
Song Yuan felt that Rong Heng was just too good.
But she couldn’t agree to such a thing. “Mr. Xie, there’s really no need. Kids are always here and there. I’ll talk to him when we get home. In a few days, he’ll understand that it’s ridiculous to do a paternity test.“
Seeing her say this, Rong Heng also didn’t force it. “Alright, then. You know my number; if you need my help, you can call me anytime. You don’t need to be polite.”
“Okay. Goodbye, then.”
A lowkey luxury car stopped on the roadside, and Rong Heng got in, bidding her farewell.
Song Yuan watched him leave. As soon as Rong Ting, who had been observing through the window, saw Rong Heng had left, he immediately came out and asked, puzzled, “What is Emperor Father doing? For what reason is he not returning home with us?”
“Gugu, I told you, that’s Uncle Xie. Uncle Xie has his own home.” Song Yuan was a bit tired now. “Let’s not talk about this now. I’ll look up information for him tomorrow; you’ll figure it out when you’ve read it. Let’s go home.”
Rong Ting wasn’t insensible. When he saw Empress Mother acting like this, he knew that she didn’t want to discuss this topic any longer. He nodded. “Alright.”
Song Yuan had clearly underestimated Rong Ting’s stubbornness and persistence.
Originally, she’d thought that after she showed him the information, he would understand. But in the following days, as though possessed, he would ask questions like “How did Emperor Father come?”, “How did Emperor Father forget me?”, and “Why is Emperor Father not together with us?” He dug in his heels2; he didn’t listen to any of her explanations, only believing in his own judgement. Even when she emphasized that Mr. Xie could not be His Majesty the emperor, he shot back, “Did Empress Mother not say that there are no absolutes in life?”
Song Yuan: “…”
This incident had influenced their lives.
This distressed Song Yuan, but there was nothing she could do. Sometimes, she couldn’t help losing her temper at Rong Ting, but right when her irritation shot up, she would feel guilty upon meeting his stubborn gaze. There was no doubt that he was her child. She hadn’t been by his side the last few years, so she should be more patient with him.
But how could a paternity test be done so arbitrarily?
What sort of family was the Xie family? Her father had already explained to her–if someone with an ulterior motive made use of this matter, wouldn’t she drag Gugu into unnecessary conflict?
For this kind of internal battle among giants, who would want to rush up to be cannon fodder?
Moreover, she was embarrassed to call him up and ask this of him.
She just wanted to live in peace and stability; why was that so hard? She didn’t know how to persuade Gugu, but Gugu had a temperament that didn’t easily compromise.
Difficult, too difficult.
One week later, just when Song Yuan was at her wit’s end, Rong Heng called her first.
It started with ordinary pleasantries, until Rong Heng asked her, “You sound tired. Did something happen?”
Song Yuan was embarrassed to say that it was just that too many things happened recently.
“Does your son still believe that I’m his dad?”
Song Yuan was helpless, but she had to speak the truth. “He’s a bit more stubborn than the average kid.”
“Children will get sick if they overthink. Miss Song, how’s this? Let’s go get an evaluation. When he sees the results, he won’t be able to continue splitting hairs,” Rong Heng said.
“That’s not good, it’s inappropriate. Why don’t I just have someone forge a test?” The more Song Yuan thought about it, the more she thought it was a good idea. “Forging one should be easy nowadays.”
“I think that, if you’re going to take the time and energy to find someone to fake a test, you may as well just do one. What do you say? If your son finds out one day, it’ll be troublesome. Of course, I’m also curious. Does your son’s dad really look exactly like me? It’s not impossible, but I was wondering if maybe your son has any relationship with my family?
“I’ve been thinking over the past few days. Children don’t lie. Don’t you think it’s amazing how two people who aren’t related can look the same? I even suspect whether I have a twin brother. Miss Song, I’d love to figure this out, as well.”
In the end, though she didn’t know how–it was like she was possessed–Song Yuan ended up agreeing.
After hanging up, Song Yuan thought that her brain had been jammed in a door. Why would she agree to such a ridiculous thing! That was one more favor owed!
But when she turned around and saw Rong Ting sitting on the sofa, deeply thinking, she sighed in her heart, the most difficult thing in the world to be was a mother.
Forget it, just play along once for the sake of the child. Just once.
As long as he didn’t continue this wild goose chase anymore. She looked flustered. These past few days, when she got up at night to go to the bathroom, she would notice that his room lights were on. When she came in and asked, he would say that he was thinking.
Well, this left Song Yuan completely at her wit’s end.
That night, Song Yuan decided to have a heart-to-heart talk with Rong Ting. She solemnly sat him down, and the mother and son faced each other.
“Rong Ting, this is what’s happening. Uncle Xie and I talked, and we agreed to take you to get a paternity test done in two days.”
Hearing Song Yuan say this, Rong Ting let out a sigh of relief. “It should have been done long before.”
It was better to speak with evidence. Otherwise, she wouldn’t believe what he said. Depressing!
“I have to say some things to you beforehand. We can do the paternity test, although I think it’s unnecessary, since I can imagine the results. But seeing you so out of it lately, unable to live a normal life, I thickened the skin on my face to talk to him. There’s a 99% chance that you two won’t have any relations. In fact, I think it’s 100%. But when the results come out, I want you to promise Mom that you’ll be like before and stop thinking about it. And I, once I find the time to change my number, will never contact Uncle Xie again. And you have to be like before, being happy every day; and having a daily schedule of eating, sleeping, practicing calligraphy, and reading. Can you promise me?”
Rong Ting looked at her. He was silent for a long time before nodding. “Okay.”
Song Yuan was finally reassured upon hearing his pledge.
But before she could sigh in relief, she heard the child say: “Empress Mother, why don’t we make a bet?”
“You know how to bet? What bet?”
“I bet that he is definitely my Emperor Father.”
“Empress Mother, if I win, you must promise me one thing.”
Song Yuan had originally been absent-minded, but her entire body immediately went into a state of alert when she heard his words. “I feel like you’re digging a pit for me, but I won’t agree to everything. For example, don’t even think about going back to the ancient times, or having me and your Emperor Father reconcile. I have my own opinions, and I can’t force myself to do things I don’t want to do for the sake of my promise with you.”
She was so clever. In novels and dramas, the line “You have to promise me one thing” was usually never a good thing! She had to up her concentration3; the child before her was no ordinary child, but rather a crown prince who was naturally born with a capability for tactics and struggles.
If one day he asked her to remain a widow4 for his Emperor Father, was she to agree?
If one day he insisted on bringing her back to the ancient times, was she to agree? The possibility of going back was almost non-existent, but there might be that possibility one day. Did that mean she had to agree? Out of the question! She probably suffered immensely in the ancient times before managing to return to modern times. How could she consider returning to a feudal society! Were cell phones not enjoyable? Was soda not enjoyable?
Rong Ting said, helpless, “Be at ease, Empress Mother. I will not force you. The thing proposed must also be acceptable to Empress Mother.”
Song Yuan couldn’t rest easy, and ruled out all the things she found unacceptable with him.
She didn’t have any skill in palace intrigue. People like her, who had low IQ and EQ, had to be cautious, even if the person sitting before her was a child.
 黑户: unregistered resident or household
 钻牛角尖: lit. to penetrate into a bull’s horn; to bash one’s head against a brick wall
 打起十二万分的精神: lit. work up/raise up 120,000 points of spirit/vigor/drive. Not sure if there’s an interesting origin story behind the phrase, though I can understand what it means based on context
 守活寡: to be a grass widow; to stay at home while one’s husband is away. Typically, a grass widow is someone whose husband is still alive, but is emotionally and/or physically distant for a prolonged period of time