111. Name List
YiHan blushed hard as he shimmied on the spot. “It’s not that bad,” he murmured. “Mom went out with Madam Chen and the others to the spa, the mall or something.”
An “oh” escaped Yan Pei’s mouth. Her eyes beamed at YiHan like two bright lightbulbs as she asked, “Say, why are you all alone today? Why didn’t you leave the house with Mr Mu?”
“H-He has to attend a business meeting today,” YiHan said after clearing his throat. A red flush tinted his ears. “He’s not going to be at the office. Even if I go, there’d be nothing for me to do. So I didn’t.”
Her eyes scanned him up and down. At the sight of his unnatural sitting position and the hand sneakily massaging his waist, she let out a sly grin.
“I understand,” she drawled. “You’re not feeling well. Of course he couldn’t bear to let you run around after him. I see, I see.”
“I’m perfectly fine!” YiHan yelped, frazzled. He immediately snatched his hand away from his waist as if he were just burned. “That’s nonsense!”
“Don’t try to hide it from me,” she shuffled closer and whispered into his ear. “You can’t cheat my eyes. I could tell early on what’s going on between you and Mr Mu.”
“You…” YiHan’s body froze as blood seeped from his face.
“Don’t worry,” she hurriedly added. “Let me tell you a secret. I’m a fujoshi. I really really support you guys. Really. Look into my eyes. They’re so sincere.” She blinked her two wide, lively eyes. They shimmered and shined.
“What’s a fujoshi?” YiHan asked, confusion plastered all over his face.
“You don’t know?” Yan Pei gasped in shock. She grabbed YiHan by the hand, looked up with a wide grin, and continued, “Sisters, I have been blessed. I’ve caught a pure and innocent…ahem…boy.”
She looked back down at YiHan and opened her mouth to explain, then paused. She didn’t think she could properly explain what it truly meant to be a “fujoshi”. Thus, she took out her phone and, with a few swipes, she opened up her precious stash.
“Come, come,” she said. “Look at this, YiHan. You’ll know just what kind of group I hand out with.”
YiHan leaned over to look at her phone. It was a comic, a rather dirty one.
“I see,” YiHan said after briefly clearing his throat. “I know a lot of girls like this but I didn’t know what the name was.”
“That’s it,” she said with a gleeful slap to his shoulder. “There are so many gay couples nowadays and fujoshis are everywhere. We’re bigger than you could’ve ever imagined. How could you not know? Say, why are you afraid of coming out of the closet? Are your parents against it?”
“I don’t know if they’ll agree to it,” YiHan replied with downcast eyes. “I don’t want to hurt them. I’ll bring it up to them sometime later.”
“True,” she agreed, nodding. “There are still a lot of people who can’t accept it, especially the older generation. Just like my uncle and grandfather. They’re still against my brother’s relationship. There was even a big fight. My brother stayed strong though. It’s why they got married. They don’t come to the family mansion much anymore. You should go slow with something like this.”
“Your brother is an independent and decisive man,” YiHan moaned. “Unlike me. I still don’t know how I’ll tell them.”
“My brother definitely is a decisive one,” she pouted. “He’s also a schemer. He came out of the closet, got beaten up by my uncle and dragged his injured body over to his lover’s bookshop. Zhang-ge fell for his ruse. That’s the only reason my brother nabbed himself a lover.”
YiHan recalled the brief glimpses he had of Yan Hui. No matter what, he couldn’t imagine the ever stern and refined Yan Hui he knew acting pitiful.
“How did you know all this?” YiHan couldn’t hold back from chuckling.
“Don’t underestimate the gay-dar of a fujoshi,” she proudly proclaimed. “I knew he felt something for Zhang-ge early on. Thus, I became close friends with Zhang-ge. Also, I just so happened to be there that day. I watched Yan Hui get beaten up and run into his car. I was afraid he might do something due to his bad mood, so I followed him all the way to Zhang-ge’s bookshop. I saw him run straight into Zhang-ge’s embrace. He acted so weak and feeble that he nearly crashed into a pole! The next day, I went to the bookshop and Zhang-ge was acting exactly how you’re acting now. No matter how he sat, he’d be uncomfortable. Every once in a while, he’d massage his back and waist.”
“But my brother is just so mean,” she pouted. “When he found out Zhang-ge kept talking with me, he hid Zhang-ge away. He treats me like a thief! I’m an adorable and lovable little girl. As if I could eat Zhang-ge?”
She glanced at him and continued, “So you just plan on staying home all day long? Don’t you find that boring? Why don’t we go out and play?”
“There’s nothing I can do,” YiHan helplessly responded. “The matter from before hasn’t completely settled yet. JingYuan said it’s not safe for me to go out alone. You might even get dragged into it because of me.”
“Just who did it?” Pei furiously spat out. “Who’d be so evil as to do something like that to a cute young boy like you? If I find them, I’d beat them up until all of their teeth are on the floor!”
“I know you’re worried about me, but can you not describe me as a ‘cute young boy’? I’m getting goosebumps,” YiHan sighed.
“But you are one. I’m telling the truth,” Pei said, confused. “Ah, right. I heard this case was already closed?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“Isn’t the mastermind still in hiding?” she glumly asked. “Why did they close it?”
“There’s no helping it. This case caused too big of a ruckus. It won’t be good for anyone for the case to drag on longer. They’re now secretly looking into it. You must keep it a secret too.”
“Of course,” she solemnly said. “I wouldn’t say anything even if threatened with death! I’ll say nothing even to my parents and grandfather!”
“Grandpa Yan knows of this,” YiHan laughed. “If not for him, the application to continue the investigation in secret wouldn’t have been approved so quickly.”
“Oh, I see. Then again, my grandfather really likes you. When I was visiting him yesterday, he kept going on about you.”
“Grandpa Yan treats me very well,” YiHan said with a little smile.
By this point, Yan Pei couldn’t hold back from reaching out to poke YiHan’s dimples.
“So you can’t leave the house for the time being?” she asked. “Won’t you be bored to death?”
“Not really,” YiHan replied. “JingYuan’s worried about me and he’s always by my side. How could I be bored? And just last week, I went to have grilled skewers with JingYuan, Fang Yi and all. Oh. Fang Yi is the officer in charge of my case. He’s a good, passionate man.”
Her eyes shone bright at the mention of food. “Grilled skewers? Where? Was it nice?”
“It’s quite nice,” YiHan said without hesitating. “It’s on HuaXi road. What was the name again? I forgot.”
“How could you forget about something so important?” she asked in disappointment.
“I-Is it very important?” YiHan blinked back at her.
“Of course! Food is a human necessity! It’s vital!” Yan Pei glared at him.
“It’s fine,” YiHan said after a pause to think. “Fang Yi often go there. He should know. I can call and ask.”
“Then, ask him,” she urged. “I’ll go ask a few friends out to try it out later.”
YiHan had no choice but to call Fang Yi right then and there.
“YiHan? Are you asking about the case’s progress?” Fang Yi asked upon picking up.
“No,” YiHan replied. “I just wanted to ask you about the name of the shop we ate at last time. What was it? I forgot.”
“Huh?” Fang Yi was taken aback. “The shop?”
“Yeah,” YiHan said. “A friend of mine wants to go try it out.”
“I see.” Fang Yi’s smile could be heard through the phone. “The shop’s called ‘Grill Some Skewers’. It’s a bit uncreative but it’s easy to find a table there and it’s quite popular in the area.”
“It’s called ‘Grill Some Skewers’,” YiHan said to Yan Pei after hanging up.
“Okay,” she happily replied, her hands clapping in joy. “I’ll go ask my friends out now. Bye!”
By the time the last word reached YiHan’s ears, she had already left the house, as fast as if a hurricane had swept her away.
The word “hey” was still unfurling from YiHan’s throat when the front door closed. He didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Just then, his phone rang. He looked down. It was Jiang Hua. His hands rushed to accept the call.
“Jiang-ge,” he greeted.
“YiHan,” said the gentle voice that was Jiang Hua’s. “I’ve sent the name list you wanted to your inbox. It should be everyone. Please look it over first.”
“Okay. Thank you, Jiang-ge! I’ll treat you to a meal sometime later!”
“Hehe,” Jiang Hua chuckled. “What does Lil YiHan plan on treating me to?”
YiHan nearly said “Grill Some Skewers” but, thankfully, he stopped that in time.
“It’s my treat,” he said. “Of course it’d be whatever you like. How about…western?”
“You know I wouldn’t have western unless I needed to,” Jiang Hua replied in exasperation. “What do you want? Just tell me.”
“Well…” YiHan twisted the pillow in his arms as he smiled. “I’ve gotten to know of a place that makes really good ‘Buddha Jumps Over the Wall’. Why don’t we go try it?”
“Okay,” Jiang Hua said.
“When are you free?” YiHan’s eyes were squinting from how big his smile had grown.
“Hm,” Jiang Hua hummed as he looked through his calendar. “I can’t do the next few days. How about I call you back two days later?”
As soon as YiHan ended the call, he eagerly took up his tablet and looked at his email inbox. As expected, there was a new document from Jiang Hua. He downloaded the file and looked through every single line in it.
It was a very long list. YiHan could tell Jiang Hua had put in a lot of effort. The information listed were also extremely detailed and properly organised. YiHan read through everything and again for another few more times. Finally, he locked onto three men.
One was named Li Mao. This was an employee of their company. His mother abandoned him and his father soon after giving birth to him. Raised by a drunkard, he didn’t have a happy childhood. His mentality was also rather extreme at times. The man had a mild grudge against all women, especially beautiful women. He paid a little too much attention to XueQing but he hadn’t done anything over the line yet.
Another name on the list was Tang JianPing. He’s a delivery boy for a dessert shop and a hardworking university student. His family was somewhat poor. As a person, his hatred and jealousy for the world was quite well-known. Once, a female employee at the office ordered some dessert from the shop he was working at. As he delivered the order, he just so happened to have seen XueQing. From then on, he’d try and break into XueQing’s office using the excuse of being there on a delivery. He’d been caught a few times already and he would always be thrown out by security guards. Young men these days were all rather oversensitive. This person was also quite radical in his mindset. It was hard to be sure he wouldn’t resent XueQing for being thrown out of the office. He might do something on impulse without thinking of the consequences.
The last name that caught YiHan’s attention was Wei Quan. He was once a security guard at the office. He stopped XueQing in the middle of her path to publicly confess. Of course, he didn’t succeed. XueQing probably didn’t even know who he was. Later on, he was fired because he broke one of the company’s rules and he was found to have hidden his mental illness from the company.
Ge: Suffix for brother. Has the same uses as oppa (Korean) and nii-san (Japanese) aka for any and all older males who one is close to.
Buddha Jumps Over the Wall: Also known as Buddha’s Temptation and Buldojang (Korean). It’s a famous dish that was said to be quite hard to cook. It’s also a dish famous for its nutrition value that’s due to the different ingredients used – shark fin, abalone, quail eggs, mushrooms, pork knuckle, fish and more, cooked in rich wine (old rice wine). There are plenty of origin stories for this dish but the one I was told places its name as “smelling so heavenly that Buddha himself would jump over the wall for it”. Wikipedia’s entry is a little off though as no monks were involved. Merely scholars theorising and romanticising the scent.