95. Temporary Plan
At the end of XueQing’s speech, a suffocating silence fell upon the living room. A long pause later, Yan said, “What XueQing said…might be the truth. She is a girl. Her intuition’s always been very sharp. She’s also thorough and observant. On the old Mr Yan’s party, HanHan was so terrified of Feng Qun that his mind was not in the right place. Even then, he clung on tight to JingYuan’s short. He wouldn’t let go no matter what we did. When HanHan sobered up later, according to JingYuan, he immediately distanced himself and acted very cold to JingYuan. It was the complete opposite to what he did when he wasn’t completely aware of himself. We didn’t notice it back then, but now that I think back to it, that’s proof of HanHan having fallen in love with JingYuan. He was afraid he’d let it show so he forced himself to stay away from JingYuan.”
Reminded by Yan’s words, everyone in the room thought back to how the two men usually interact with each other. YiHan’s dependence on JingYuan was definitely abnormal. However, as Yan had said previously, that was how the two acted around each other all these years. They’d all gotten used to it so no one thought anything of it.
Ma swayed. Tears dripped down her cheeks and onto her lap.
“How could it be?” Ma asked, voice trembling. “HanHan…how could this happen?”
FuRen glanced at his daughter. “Should we distract JingYuan? Pull him away.” he mused. “Separate them for a while. HanHan’s still a child. Perhaps, after some time, that love will simmer down.”
“No way!” XueQing shouted in fear.
The other three around her jumped.
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” Ma dazedly said. “No matter how much we love HanHan, we can’t ignore the ethics of the situation. JingYuan is engaged to you. That means he’s HanHan’s brother-in-law. If they get together, that’ll be incest. If someone outside the family knew of their relationship, they’ll forever live in shame!”
XueQing stood up with a whoosh, her eyes going red at the edges.
“If we do that, we’ll kill HanHan!” she screeched. “I don’t care about some vague moral in this situation. All I care about is my younger brother has been wronged! Did you see those wounds on his body when he was rescued? His chest was covered in bite marks…” She took a harsh gulp. A bead of tear slid down her cheeks away from her wide eyes. “But when he woke up, he didn’t react in any way one might call emotional. He even comforted Ma. Did none of you think that was strange? I’m absolutely sure he’s only so calm because there’s a terrifying idea growing deep inside him. From what JingYuan described, when he arrived on scene, that thug was planning on…on snapping HanHan’s neck. Think. That bastard actually lusted over HanHan. Why would he let HanHan go without having done anything? Why would he kill him straightaway?
“When Yan went into the room, that beast was rolling on the floor. It’s obvious HanHan thought he was at a dead end and did all he could to hurt the other. That bastard only wanted to kill HanHan because of the anger born from humiliation! This might be HanHan’s true goal. He has…given up on himself. That’s why he did all he could to push Feng Qun to kill him!
“When he woke up, he acted so natural and could differentiate what would benefit him more. It’s as if the one hurt wasn’t him. Which of us could know what he honestly thinks?
“HanHan…HanHan had never thought of fighting with me over JingYuan. He thought of just going with the flow. If the vase shatters, then let it remain shattered. He had given up on his own emotions and any hope for himself. He didn’t care if he lived or died. As his family, as those who love him so very much, are we going to give up on him to?” XueQing ended with a roar.
She closed her eyes and let herself drop back onto the arm of the couch. “We all know better than anyone else what HanHan was like before. He’s now a god child. So are we going to use his ‘maturity’ to hurt him as if that’s the right thing to do? He wouldn’t cry. He wouldn’t shout. He won’t try and fight it. He’s extremely calm. It’s highly likely due to some mental issues. Are all those trivial rules more important than his life? Do you want to see him leave us and quietly live a painful life because of some ridiculous moral value? He’s in an extremely dangerous state of mind. If we wait until the day when he loses all hope in life and seek release…” Tears swelled in her glimmering eyes once more but she did her best. They can’t fall. “The doctor said,” she continued, sadness laced through her words. “He’s very suicidal. If a person were insistent on dying, who could stop them? If he really succeeds, none of our regrets and what-ifs would matter.”
Ma and Pa inhaled, shocked. Yan patted his sister on the shoulder.
“So,” Yan sighed. “What do you plan to do?”
XueQing drew herself up. “I am Bai XueQing,” she proudly stated. “I am the daughter of the great Bai family. Would I really be worried over not finding a man to marry? It’s only an engagement. Can it really be compared to HanHan’s life? Anyway, JingYuan and I aren’t that deeply in love. We just thought the other was a more suitable match. We’re compatible in terms of family history and capabilities. I believe with how much love JingYuan holds for HanHan, he would agree with me if he were here. As long as HanHan recovers, there’s no worthier sacrifice!”
Ma’s body shook as she reached out for her daughter’s hand. “XueQing,” she warbled through the torrent of tears. “Why must you suffer so…?”
“Don’t be like this,” XueQing softly said, an arm hugging her mother around the shoulders. “I won’t suffer. In fact, I feel happy. We finally found a solution to HanHan’s problem. Think. If he could have what he wished for, he would relax. Wouldn’t he heal faster then? He won’t fight for it, so I’ll let him have JingYuan. He is the heart of our family. I love him. I can’t let him go through this pain any longer. It’s only a friendly engagement. If it had required my life, I would gladly offer it up too!”
“Even if you’re willing to, what about…JingYuan?” FuRen sighed, giving his daughter a light pat on the hand. “Even if he’s willing too, we’ve owed him too much when it comes to HanHan. How could we make him suffer for it?”
Internally, XueQing twisted her lips. He would be deliriously happy if you’d let him get together with HanHan. Suffer? As if!
On the outside, she still had a serious face on. “I can talk to him about this. I’m confident he’ll understand our dilemma. My younger brother is such a great person. JingYuan wouldn’t suffer at all being with him,” she said.
FuRen didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. “Silly girl,” he said. “Your brother being a great person or not has nothing to do with whether JingYuan will like him that way.” He sighed. “If JingYuan really agrees to this, we’ll be in his debt indefinitely.”
Ma wiped her tears away with the back of a hand while the other clutched at the blouse over her heart. “My poor son,” she muttered. “You’ve suffered so much yet I, your mother, knew nothing about it. What a fool. Why didn’t he tell me? Why did he just lock it up inside and let it fester and hurt him until he wanted to kill himself? The thought of it makes my heart ache…”
Yan’s hands clamped down tight at the arm of the couch on his side. “I didn’t think that beast would actually hold such insidious thoughts towards HanHan!” he spat out. “He must’ve been lusting over HanHan long ago, but he was too scared of acting due to HanHan’s status. That’s why he induced HanHan to know more about homosexuality! It’s all our fault. We didn’t spot his plot in time. That’s why HanHan was hurt. Really! Why did HanHan not talk to us about what’s bothering him? If he told us, no matter what, I wouldn’t have let him suffer in pain until now!”
“If I knew HanHan thought that way,” XueQing nodded. “I would never have gotten engaged to JingYuan. It wouldn’t even be an idea. This foolish boy!”
Exhausted, FuRen leaned back in his seat. “Your mother and I can now relax having seen how much you two love your little brother,” he sighed. “The greatest wealth in the Bai family is our undefeatable love for our own family. We’ll have to ask JingYuan to take the hit for this. XueQing, talk to him calmly. If he says no, don’t force him. We’ve owed him enough. If he’s not willing to go along with the plan, we’ll think of something else.”
“Don’t worry,” XueQing drawled. “He’ll definitely say yes.” That bastard could ask for nothing else in his life!
Ma sighed once more. “We keep saying we think of JingYuan as our son, but it’s human to play favourites,” she said, giving her husband a comforting pat. “To ask JingYuan make that kind of sacrifice for HanHan, it’s seriously…he’d done more than enough for HanHan! We’ve not done right by JingYuan in this. We’ve also not done right by his parents. We once swore before ChuanYu’s and Ying’s graves that we’d take good care of JingYuan. Now, I think we’d be too ashamed to look at them properly in the face.”
FuRen nodded in agreement, held tight to his wife’s hand and sighed again.
XueQing felt very guilty at seeing how down her parents were. While what she said might’ve been a little exaggerated but it was what she truly guessed, roughly. She only changed their mutual love into a one-sided love by HanHan. However, everything about the threat to HanHan’s life was true. Currently, if he’s in pain, he wouldn’t vent it out. He’d just lock it up inside. Also, he was mentally unstable right now. Even if he’s well, how could she bear to let her beloved little brother suffer? If YiHan attempted suicide once, he’ll do it again. When his emotions reach the brink of what he could bear, he will use a method just as extreme to get relief. She cannot let it happen another time!
She paused and gathered her thoughts. “Don’t be upset,” she comforted. “When Uncle Mu and Aunt Ying were alive, they loved HanHan the most. They’d always be carrying him around. If he so much as scraped something, they’d be upset over for a long time. If they were still alive and knew how much HanHan has suffered, they would be upset too.
“I’ll talk to JingYuan tomorrow. Everything will be up to him. If he refuses, I won’t try and persuade him any further. But I believe JingYuan truly does love HanHan. He’d do it for HanHan’s sake. He might think the same as I do. He’d be so happy that there’s hope for HanHan’s recovery that he would do anything. He has the right to know about this and he has the right to choose. If we don’t tell him and he only knows about it once something happens to HanHan, he’d be so guilty and upset that he might blame us.
“Anyway, we’re not forcefully tying them up together for their whole lives. It’s only temporary. We’ll have JingYuan soothe HanHan and calm down his emotions. Naturally, we’ll respect his decision on what happens once HanHan recovers.”
- induced to know more about homosexuality: This novel has already established this family is irrationally blinded when it comes to the youngest child and I think everyone gets the idea. Just in case though, Yan’s thought process is wrong and extremely homophobic here in spite of how he’s one of the good guys.
- ChuanYu and Ying: ChuanYu/ChuanYü (传玉) and Ying (英) are JingYuan’s parents. Ma actually calls them Brother ChuanYu and Sister Ying. They are not related in anyway. It’s just the usual 大哥/大姐 suffix used for seniors in social circles.