For preview purposes only; final product may differ
Author: Qie Zai Shan Yang
Editor: M. M.
Gentle Restraint is a Danmei novel with a modern setting, tagged with the keywords “deep angsty love”, “non-con”, “depraved lunatic top”, and “tragic pitiful bottom”.
Technically, a stereotypical straight guy like Song Yu would not touch a novel like this in a million years, but it just so happens that he shares a name with one of the supporting characters.
It’s for this reason his younger cousin recommended the book to him, even though she sounded more than a little shifty doing it: “Someone in the book has the same name as you, Ge” and “How would you like to step into a whole new world?”
Song Yu arcs an eyebrow and decides to give this story a chance, as he happens to be in hospital for health issues with ample time to kill.
The narrative of Gentle Restraint is divided into two stages. The first stage is set in high school, when the main character was still a pitiable little softie.
The MC’s mother, being young and naïve, had been swindled into bed by the honeyed words of a rich young heir—the third son of the Xie family—and became his mistress. When the young master’s wife found out about the affair, the flames of her jealousy burned hot, so she ruined the mistress’s face and ran her out of town.
On the seventh night after arriving in the new city, refusing to accept the cold reality forced upon her, the MC’s mother jumped off a building and killed herself—right in front of her son.
Obviously, this left Xie Sui rather traumatised.
In the end, an old lady who lived across the hall from their apartment, having no children or grandchildren of her own, took pity on Xie Sui and took him in.
Xie Sui grew up in a hateful environment filled with negativity. Besides the bullying from the spoiled brats in his building, he was also pointed at and talked about behind his back by the gossiping housewives in his neighbourhood. They judged his mother with the utmost cruelty, claiming she had only committed suicide because of the diseases she had contracted from selling her body, and that he was probably unclean as well.
He grew up among decrepit buildings, narrow alleys, rundown markets, and all kinds of nasty rumours—all this came together to shape his broken and battered childhood.
These experiences laid the foundation for the vulnerability and low self-esteem that lay deep in Xie Sui’s bones, and paved the way for a future where he would fall time and again for playboys who deigned to show him the slightest warmth.
The story opens at the start of high school. Armed with the top high school entrance exam score in the city, Xie Sui entered Jingcheng First High with a spot in the Exceptional Class.
There were two types of students in the Exceptional Class: those with exceptional grades, and those with exceptional family backgrounds.
It might have been fine if Xie Sui only belonged to the first category, but unfortunately, he also inherited his mother’s beauty. Wrapped in a chilly aura and wearing that remarkable face, he drew the attention of a wealthy young pervert in his class as soon as he entered school. Every day, the rich kid came up with new ways to torment him, spewing hateful abuse as other students watched on or even joined in; meanwhile, the teacher played dumb.
Xie Sui stayed quiet through all of this, as if none of it entered his ears. That was until one time when the rich kid went overboard and mentioned Xie Sui’s mom: “Look at that skanky face of yours, your mom’s a whore, isn’t she?” It was as if someone had pressed a button on Xie Sui—his eyes reddened, and he became near manic. He almost beat the rich kid to death that day.
In light of that incident, the school administration broadcasted Xie Sui’s offence to the entire student body, and the rich kid’s humiliation propelled him to develop a deep-seated resentment for Xie Sui thereafter.
Enter Top Number One. This young man was the older cousin of the rich kid and a notorious playboy back when he used to live in the capital city. Having only transferred to Jingcheng First High to get away from the watchful eyes of his old man back home, he unexpectedly became fixated upon Xie Sui at first sight. He found Xie Sui’s aloofness especially enticing and initiated a series of seductive manoeuvres to seduce him. This included putting on a façade of gentleness even as he enabled his cousin’s rampages, then swooping in at the last second to play the knight in shining armour in an effort to win Xie Sui over.
For Xie Sui, who had been on the receiving end of nothing but cold malevolence since he was young, it was the first time someone had protected and respected him. Over time, something stirred in his heart, and he became lost in that affection. Xie Sui wasn’t even sure if he liked Top Number One, but he was very amenable and yielded to the young man’s words.
However, the playboy’s notoriety wasn’t just a rumour. For him, the moment a cold beauty fell for him was the moment his interest waned—it was no longer exciting. It just so happened he was due to leave Jingcheng at the time, so he took one glance at his thirsty cousin and grinned. “You like him? He’s yours.”
It’s at this point the expression freezes on Song Yu’s face as question marks slowly begin swimming in his mind.
And so, in the last year of high school before Xie Yu was due to graduate, he was lured by Top Number One into the rich boy’s condo, where he was given a spiked drink and almost got raped.
Song Yu is speechless. His throat suddenly feels parched and he finds himself in great thirst for some water.
Fortunately, Xie Sui can be ruthless when he’s backed into a corner. He grabbed a liquor bottle, smashed it into the rich boy’s head, rendering him unconscious, and escaped from the scene. Once home, he received a piece of nightmarish news: since he was so late getting back, his grandma had gone out looking for him, which was when she got hit by a car that left her paralyzed.
It was the last straw on Xie Sui’s back. At that moment, the seventeen-year-old boy was plunged into a bottomless abyss.
His grandma was alive, but the medical expenses were astronomical. To pay it back, Xie Sui started his endless chain of part-time jobs after going to college. It was during one of these jobs at a social club, when he was being harassed by a member, that he met Top Number Two.
Top Number Two was a CEO who froze the first time he laid eyes on Xie Sui—for the latter looked like someone he used to know, or more specifically, the one that got away.
Once again Song Yu finds himself speechless. He’s seething with so much rage it scorches his throat, so he pours another cup of water.
What breed of fucking dumbasses are these, he thinks. If there’s something not right in their heads, they had better fix it, or he has a mind to do it himself.
Song Yu skips over much of what comes after, since the strategies Top Number Two employed were mostly similar to those of his predecessor, the results of which could be summarised into three words: poor Xie Sui.
Song Yu chugs two more cups of water as he trudges through yet another series of mental and physical anguish.
Only when Xie Sui returns to the Xie family does the plot take off in a more power fantasy direction.
Turns out, the third young master of the Xie family had been deeply in love with Xie Sui’s mother this whole time, and by extension felt great remorse toward Xie Sui. To make up for it, he signed away his entire inheritance to Xie Sui.
It was at this point that Xie Sui sealed his heart, kicked aside the swarm of playboys buzzing around him, and went off abroad. Three years later, he returned to take his place at the head of the Xie household, and became the golden child not just in name, but in practice.
With his air of noble grace, his striking appearance, and the cold detachment he embodied, he was at once the talk of the capital and the target of desire for all the affluent bachelorettes.
At this, Top Number One and Two started having regrets, which was also when Top Number Three showed up and started wreaking havoc.
In the face of Xie Sui’s cold indifference, the three finance moguls who stood at the top of their industry pyramid were overcome with equal parts regret and loathing. After their tantrums, they came together to form an alliance with a shared goal: they would have him, even if it meant destroying him. So, the three men worked together to bring down the Xie family—they held Xie Sui captive and started down their “non-con” path.
It’s a callback to the novel tags, while the comment section went just as wild, with “Ahhhhh finally the long awaited!”, “A gorgeous man getting bullied, you love to see it”, and “Attic! Attic wife!”.
Song Yu pours the last cup of water down his throat and tosses the crumpled disposable cup into the trash. Then he exits the reading app and opens up the text chat with his cousin.
Impossibly Hot Song-ge: You’re done for. There goes your summer.
Song Lan replies almost immediately.
Lanlan Hates You: ???
Lanlan Hates You: Wait! What’s wrong!! Please Ge, you can joke around but you can’t play with my summer like this . . . PLEASE
Song Yu snickers.
Impossibly Hot Song-ge: Save your tears Meimei, that doesn’t work on me
Impossibly Hot Song-ge: I finished reading Gentle Restraint. Hey Little Miss Song Lan, I think you’re having some dangerous thoughts, you seem to be in dire need of a full set of exam prep textbooks to deep-cleanse your mind. I’ll be in touch with your mom, good luck in the summer!
Lanlan Hates You: What the f—
Lanlan Hates You: Nooooo!!! My dear Gege!!!!! What on earth did I do?!
Lanlan Hates You: All I did was read a BL novel that doesn’t even have smut!!!
Lanlan Hates You: Not like I gave away my blood or kidneys or my uterus, how can you accuse me of having improper thoughts!! AHHH I’m even more tragic than Xie Sui!
Impossibly Hot Song-ge: Give away your blood, kidneys, and uterus?
Impossibly Hot Song-ge: Very good, I will personally pay a visit to your house this summer to give you some one-on-one tutoring, you can get a taste of your cousin’s warm affections in the heat of summer :)
Song Lan is on the verge of a breakdown. Her rage can be felt through the screen with the next message she sends.
Lanlan Hates You: You’re heartless, Fabio Song!
Impossibly Hot Song-ge: Who’s Fabio Song?
Lanlan Hates You: . . . It’s you, wait, no! Your future husband!!!
Song Yu, who just received a new husband out of nowhere, can’t help but laugh. The little girl’s gone mad, he thinks.
Impossibly Hot Song-ge: Lay off the web novels, young one, and do more math. I’ve placed an order for a set of math textbooks for you too :)
Song Lan is in despair. Why is her cousin doing this to her!
Song Yu laughs as he exits the chat.
The little girl will soon be off to her last year of high school, yet she’s still got him worrying about her.
After a trip to the bathroom, he lies back down in his hospital bed and goes to sleep. Before he drifts off, he remembers the plot of the novel again, and shakes his head while scoffing.
The character Song Lan mentioned—the one that shares his name—is only a cannon fodder who appears in no more than two chapters in all. He grew up with the MC until the age of six, when he went overseas to recover from his illness. The character only had one purpose, which was to reunite with Xie Sui while they were both abroad and reveal to him some secret hidden past: that Xie Sui’s mom had loved him very much and that he shouldn’t resent her, so Xie Sui could let go of the past and move on.
This whole ordeal was only supposed to be a brief diversion in Song Yu’s in-patient stay. Little does he know that when he wakes up the next morning, he will have transmigrated into that novel and become Song Yu, the very same sickly young man who appears for less than three chapters and dies an early death.