104. Would Rather He Wasn’t a Good Kid
When YiHan arrived home from his trip out to the Yan family manor, he immediately went up to his room to change. Soon, Ma knocked on his door and entered.
“HanHan, Aunt Yang prepared some fruit dessert soup. Come down and have some?” Ma asked.
“Okay,” YiHan answered as he turned and followed his mother downstairs. Just as he took a sip, he heard a notification sound off from his phone. He took a glance and saw that it’s a voice message from JingYuan. JingYuan’s profile picture on the app made him chuckle no matter how many times he’d look at it. Ma nonchalantly peaked at YiHan’s screen then she looked at her youngest son’s face. Deep down, she let out a heavy sigh. She didn’t realise it before but ever since Yan and XueQing mentioned the possibility of YiHan being in love with JingYuan, she’d been keeping a close eye on every move and expression YiHan made. As expected, there were just so many signs like the reluctance from this morning’s parting and this grin that he couldn’t even hide properly.
Ma raised a hand and patted her little son on the head. “Slow down,” she gently said. “What’s with the rush? It’s just dessert.”
YiHan was wolfing down the soup so he could get back to his room and listen to JingYuan’s message. At Ma’s comment, he looked up, smiled and scooped more soup into his mouth. Aunt Yang was ecstatic to see the Little Master loving her soup. She happily poured another ladleful of soup into his bowl.
“There’s plenty left,” said Aunt Yang. “If you like it, then have some more.”
Shocked at having more soup to get through now, YiHan choked. He coughed and coughed and frightened Ma and Aunt Yang so much that they hurried over to smack his back and help the soup go down. In their panic, someone’s hand accidentally tapped on the notification on the phone and JingYuan’s voice soothing voice rang through the room.
“HanHan, what are you doing?” JingYuan’s message asked. “Are you home yet? What did you have for lunch?”
Finally, YiHan had stopped choking. He’d also let out a sigh of relief. Thank goodness JingYuan didn’t say anything over the line. Still, the concerned mother tone JingYuan used really didn’t fit the man’s image. The image of JingYuan, all proper in his suit and in the office, saying something so demure househusband made YiHan chuckle once more.
He picked up his phone and spoke into it, “I just got home. I’m having some fruit dessert soup with Ma right now. What are you doing?”
JingYuan soon replied, “I’m working. I’m so envious. Have my portion for me? Once you’re done, remember to exercise a little. Then, you can go sleep.”
“Sleep right after eating? Do you think you’re raising a pig?” YiHan laughed.
The reply YiHan got was a low chuckle from JingYuan’s deep voice. “Of course not,” JingYuan said in the next message. “Who could bear to eat a piggy that looked like you?”
YiHan giggled. He left the room, bopping his head at Ma and Aunt Yang to announce his departure, and walked up the stairs back to his room. During the entire journey, he happily exchanged voice messages with JingYuan.
“Little Master sure is close to Mr Mu. I’ve never seen him ever talk this much with the Young Master,” Aunt Yang commented.
Ma: You’ve struck gold. They’re certainly very “close”. They’re so close they might as well be family.
She watched her giddy little son skip upstairs. If HanHan got better but JingYuan truly fell for him, they could just get together then. How nice would it be? Still, the thought made her feel so guilty.
The possible reaction her youngest son will have when he eventually finds out the perfect future he’d found was just a lie…it made her heart ache.
YiHan chatted with JingYuan for a few minutes before setting him free to get back to work. The strange frustration lurking within YiHan was soothed. Ever since he’d started dating JingYuan, they’d been by each other’s side nearly every waking moment. It’s been over half a day since they’d last seen each other. Frustration had been gradually building up in the back of his mind. He knew it wasn’t good for him to do that. Not even the most loving married couple could be together 24/7. For some reason though, the more grounded he felt when around JingYuan, the emptier he was when they’re parted. Sometimes he’d even think the perfect future ahead of them was just a façade, as if it’d all disappear when he woke up.
YiHan scrolled through this phone, replaying the messages JingYuan had just sent him over and over again. His ears were filled with JingYuan’s voice and his heart finally was at ease.
He must control myself, he told himself. He must do his best to adapt to the life he has now. He can’t let his family and JingYuan feel the unease within him. Everything right now was real. He had been reborn. He’d travelled back to the past before he was hurt. He should seize the chance granted by the gods to get stronger so he didn’t have to rely on his family’s protection to survive.
He looked down and stared at JingYuan’s profile picture once more. His lips started twitching upwards. Just then, his phone beeped with a new notification. He swiped out of the chat with JingYuan and looked at the notification. It was a friend request from Yan Pei.
He clicked “accept” and soon he received his first message from Yan Pei. First, it was a polite greeting asking how he was doing. Then, she said that she felt like they were destined to be friends. She hoped to be able to better their relationship and that they’d be best buds or something.
YiHan let out an amused huff. This girl is so straightforward. She’s so cute. Mn. It wasn’t a bad idea to have more friends. His brother did say he was quite bad at picking who to befriend. His friends often end up being drinking buddies who’re only ever bad influences or they’d be leeches leeching off him. It certainly was as Yan said upon reflection. Thus, since he’s been reborn, he’d cut off all ties with those “friends”. This one, however, felt like he’d be a good connection. It should be…good. Right? They didn’t talk much but Pei didn’t feel like a mean person. She was a carefree and honest girl.
Also, it was clear as day that the old Mr Yan loved his granddaughter dearly. There was nothing to be lost from making friends with the Yan family. YiHan’s somewhat dull mind whirred and eventually he received the “safe” signal. Happily, he then replied to Pei with a smiley sticker and a cheery “yeah!”.
On the other side of the chat, Pei squealed at the cute sticker YiHan replied with. Her heart quivered. How, oh, how are you so cute? This was the ultimate cute “bottom”! Oh gods, she was suffocating. As someone diagnosed with the terminal disease known as being a serious fujoshi, encountering an ultra-adorable bottom was the greatest thing to have ever happened to her. Wasn’t it? The first time she laid eyes on him in campus grounds, she knew he was a bottom. She had even written a smut novel featuring him as the main character. It’s over ten thousand characters long and was hidden deep within her hard drive. She didn’t think she’d meet him one more time. Upon closer inspection, he looked even more like a “bottom” than he was before! No, she can’t do it anymore! She. Must. Be. His. Friend!
Hmph! Her older brother, Yan Hui, was such a scrooge. He actually hid his husband and wouldn’t let her meet him. Fine, whatever. She won’t stare then. She had a new target now. Who’d care about him?
Meanwhile, YiHan has discovered Yan Pei really was a talkative person. She chattered on and on and on. She might even be delirious with joy just having a one-sided with him where he didn’t reply at all. Still she wasn’t the kind of annoying chatterbox commonly found. Her chatter sounded like a hundred gorgeous birds tweeting. There was no risk of an awkward silence with her. She was also very funny. Her words frequently made YiHan burst out laughing. Time slipped by and the afternoon soon drew to an end.
JingYuan swiftly resolved all urgent paperwork. He picked up his suit and strode off, leaving behind the shadowy figure of his back to everyone in the Mu Group. Chen Hong reached out in the famed Erkang gesture, a hand stretched out in an attempt to stop his boss from leaving: Boss, stay a while longer. When you’re not around, I’d be run into the ground!
However, JingYuan can’t read his poor secretary’s mind. His determined strides brought him out of the office. He never looked back.
He returned to the Bai family home to find Ma watching television in the downstairs living room.
“Really, you. Why did you rush back in such a hurry?” Ma said with a smile. “You must have work just piling up.”
“It’s fine,” JingYuan replied with a smile of his own. “When HanHan’s not by my side, I just feel uneasy.”
“Are you all done with work?” Ma asked.
“Not yet,” said JingYuan. “I plan on taking HanHan with me to the office tomorrow. That way, I won’t be missing out on either of them. He might find it boring though.”
“That’s a good plan.” Ma nodded. “You won’t be skipping out on work then. You can’t be out of the office all the time. HanHan can’t go out and play now and he can’t just laze around at home all day long. It’d be good for him to go out with you. If he really gets bored, then go talk to him. He’s a very good kid these days.”
“I’d rather he wasn’t,” JingYuan sighed.
“Yes. HanHan was so much more carefree before. He was like a miniature sun. Wherever he went, he brought warmth and light with him,” Ma sighed as she nodded again. “Let’s not talk about it anymore. He’s upstairs. He hasn’t been down the whole afternoon. I wonder if he fell asleep. Go and check on him.”
JingYuan nodded and walked up to YiHan’s room. He knocked on the door and not long after, the door was opened. YiHan’s smiling face appeared from behind the door. His eyes were shining bright. He didn’t look like he had just woken up from a nap. The smile on YiHan’s face made JingYuan’s lips twitch up unwittingly.
“Were you waiting by the door?” JingYuan asked. “You’re so quick to the door.”
YiHan shifted to let JingYuan in. As he closed the door behind them, he said, “I knew it was you by the way you knocked on the door. Of course I’d be quick to open the door.”
“Oh?” JingYuan curiously asked. “You knew it was me just by how I knocked? How could you tell?”
YiHan cheerfully bustled about pouring a glass of water for JingYuan.
“The way you knock and the way you walk sound so very different to other people’s,” YiHan said in a matter-of-fact tone. “Naturally, I could tell.”
JingYuan felt like he was just shot through the heart with an arrow. It felt pleasantly numb. He had heard someone once said if couples could differentiate their partner’s footsteps from other people’s, that meant the love they held for each other was deeply ingrained into their bones. Everything about their other half would always be unique. His little lover knew him by the way he knocked. Was that proof YiHan truly loved him?
Overwhelmed by his emotions, JingYuan pulled YiHan into an embrace and lightly pecked him on the top of his head. In this very moment, he felt like he was the happiest man on earth.
YiHan blinked, dazed. Reflexively, his arms went around JingYuan’s waist. He didn’t know why his lover suddenly got so emotional. Still, a hug’s a hug. He leaned into the hug and rubbed his cheeks against JingYuan’s chest and took a deep breath, savouring his lover’s scent. It made him feel so much calmer and grounded.
Gentle silences were meant to be broken, however. A WeChat notification soon interrupted the pair of lovers. In the silent room, it sounded extraordinarily loud. It made YiHan flinch. He reached out and tapped into the notification. It’s from Yan Pei:
Last night, there was a power outage at the university. So they had to let us go early. By the time we reached the school gates, the power suddenly came back on. Everyone began sprinting out of the campus. At that moment, I felt like I’d just won a race against light.
A chuckle burst out of YiHan. He raised his phone up to show the message to JingYuan. “Look at this,” he said while laughing. “It’s hilarious.”
JingYuan read through the message but he still didn’t understand what was so funny about it. He pulled YiHan closer. The younger man was still busy laughing.
“Who is it?” JingYuan asked. “Who’d message you jokes?”
- Best buds: Beijing slang (铁磁) which means “bros” or “best bros”. As with the English translation, this term is solely (often) used between male friends. MTL might translate it as “ferromagnetic/magnetic”.
- Amused huff/chuckle: The writer likes to write “smile” for a lot of things. It’s mostly a Chinese-language issue though. It’s often only implicitly told whether it’s an actual smile, smirk, chuckle, huff or laugh.
- Terminal disease known as being a serious fujoshi: The actual line reads “as someone with terminal fujoshi-ism” with “fujoshi-ism” being a mashed up word of “fujo” from the word fujoshi and the “disease” character commonly used for cancer.
- Erkang gesture: