115. Cut Bonus
When Chen TianYang’s mother left YiHan’s ward, she specifically took a walk around the floor before returning to TianYang’s room. She opened the door only to be greeted with her son looking as red as a cooked prawn. She could see steam just drifting above him. An eerie mesmerised smile still hung on his face. As for her future daughter-in-law, she was peeling an apple with a knife beside him. Her hands were extremely calm and steady as thin curling strips of apple skin were removed.
TianYang’s mother: …
I have very complicated feelings right now.
I think they’re meant to be the other way around.
I might’ve given birth to a fake son.
Inside YiHan’s ward:
“It’s just a minor wound,” YiHan told Jiang Hua, smiling at the man as he said so. “You’re so busy. There’s no need for you to come all the way here. Once I’m fully recovered, I’d go to you. Oh, yes, I still owe you a meal.”
“The last time you got injured, I was on a business trip so I couldn’t come visit,” Jiang Hua replied. “This time, I’m in the city as you get into another major accident. How could I not come and check in on you? As for work, time is like water in a sponge. I can always squeeze some out. Anyway, you sure are bold this time, way too bold even. You actually drove straight into that car. Do you know just how dangerous that is?”
“It was an emergency,” YiHan replied, spitting his tongue out at the other man. “I didn’t think that deeply into my actions. If I didn’t ram right into that car, XueQing and TianYang would be in danger.”
“Oh, you,” Jiang Hua sighed. He patted the young man on the head. “I know you’re worried about your sister and brother-in-law, but you must be mindful of your own safety in the future. Got it? Thank goodness you’re fine this time. If anything ever happened to you, your sister and brother-in-law would be spending the rest of their lives in agonising guilt.”
“I know, Jiang-ge,” YiHan said with a nod. “By the way, you’re here and not by my big brother’s side. He’s probably panicking over work now.”
Jiang Hua chuckled and calmly replied, “There’s no such thing as someone who’s completely irreplaceable. Without me around, there’d be plenty of employees working. I had never dared to think too highly of myself.”
“No way,” YiHan retorted. “My brother has said on multiple occasions that you’re both his right-hand and his left-hand men. If you weren’t around, he’d buried in work and at a loss.”
“Is that so?” Jiang Hua couldn’t help letting a chuckle slip. “If I can make him feel that way, I’d be happy forever.”
“Jiang-ge, I’m not criticising you, but is that all you aim for?” YiHan said in exasperation. “You’re satisfied with just that? Have you ever thought of being the proactive party and lure him in first? I can help you.”
“Thank you but I don’t plan to do so.” A bitter smile spread across Jiang Hua’s face. “If he’s like me, gay, I’d definitely try it out even if I have to risk my life. But he’s not. He’s a straight man. While gay marriage is legal, it’s not an easy path to take. Furthermore, it’s as hard as enlightenment to turn a straight man gay. Even if it’s possible, I don’t want to pull him down into the waters just because I was feeling thirsty. I can’t make him go with me on this path destined to be rife with difficulties and injustice. He’s the eldest son of the Bai family. He’ll get married, have kids, and have a perfect home blessed with lively and adorable children. He’ll take over the reins at the Bai Group. He’ll be a powerful force in the business world. I just want to be by his side. I wish to stand close to him no matter when and where, to watch him and to protect him. To do my best to ensure his life would be smooth sailing.”
“I understand your thinking,” YiHan sighed again and solemnly nodded. “Just like JingYuan and me. If he didn’t clearly tell me he liked me, I never planned on telling him how I feel. That’s what I thought too. As long as I can be by his side, be his family, watch him be happy, it was enough. If one day I end up losing control over the thirst in me, I was willing to just leave and be alone so I wouldn’t disrupt his happy life.”
The older man patted him on the hand, smiled and said, “It’s already amazing that you can plan so much for him. It’s because you’re so mature and cute that Mr Mu has fallen deeply in love with you.”
“Jiang-ge, can you not use ‘cute’ to describe a man?” YiHan objected. “It’s very harmful to my ego. My siblings never listen to me. They say I’m still a kid in their minds. Even if I grow up, they couldn’t help but imagine me as I was back as a child. But you? Why do you keep calling me that?”
“I’m just saying it as I see it,” was the reply. “I think if I can have a younger brother, you’d be my ideal.”
YiHan was reminded of how Jiang Hua was all alone in this world without a single family member and his heart throbbed.
“You have a younger brother now,” YiHan beamed up at Jiang Hua. “It’s me! Were you surprised?”
Jiang Hua looked back at the bright smile YiHan had on. He could feel his eyes aching and watering up. He reached out and grabbed the younger man’s hand.
“It’s such a pleasant surprise,” he softly said. “Thank you, YiHan.”
YiHan’s hand turned and held back at Jiang Hua’s hand. “If it’s possible, I really do wish my brother is gay and he would get together with you. Because I think you love him the most out of everyone in this world. I’d feel regret and pity in his place for missing you. Perhaps he’ll get married and have kids. He might have the perfect life according to everyone but his wife would definitely not love him as much as you do. I’m serious, Jiang-ge. I really want you to be my brother too. I wish we can be a family. However, even if you can’t be with my big brother, it doesn’t stop me from treating you like my brother.”
Jiang Hua lowered his head and quickly blinked his eyes. When he looked back up, his eyes were red.
“Little one, to say something so moving…” His smile wavered. His voice sounded slightly hoarse. “Okay. Even if I have no family, it’d be nice to have a cute younger brother. My life wouldn’t be for nothing now.”
“Why are you using ‘cute’ again?” YiHan cried, upset. “Can I never escape this description?”
Jiang Hua let out another chuckle. “Speaking of which, if anyone else found out I like the eldest son of the Bai family, they would think I just want to be Cinderella. Why do you trust me this much?”
“I just know,” solemnly said YiHan. “I believe if there ever comes a day when my brother has need for help, even if he’s not the great heir of the Bai family anymore, you would give everything to him all so he could rise from the ashes.” He’d witnessed Jiang Hua do all that once. No one else knew better than he did just how sincere and loyal Jiang Hua was to Bai Yan.
The other man huffed and let out a “heh”. His hand tightened around YiHan’s. YiHan could tell he was destined to never obtain the person he loved but he didn’t know how to console the other man either. All he could do was to hold back tightly.
When JingYuan and Yan walked into the room, having bumped into each other at the hospital entrance, they were greeted with the following sight:
Warm sunshine bathed the hospital ward floors as a handsome Jiang Hua and an exquisite YiHan, one sitting up in the hospital bed and one sitting on the chair beside it, linked hands and looked into each other’s eyes. A gentle warmth exuded from them.
JingYuan and Yan: …
JingYuan’s hands curled so hard around the thermal flask in his hands that he nearly broke the handle. He loudly cleared his throat and strode into the room, making sure his footsteps were audible. He nodded to Jiang Hua in greeting and deliberately walked in front of him so he’d have to let go of YiHan’s hand. He placed the thermal flask on the bedside table and turned to YiHan.
“Aunt Yang made you some soup,” he gently said. “I went back just to get it for you. Do you want to drink it now or later?”
“I’ll have it now!” YiHan gleefully replied. He was as happy as a flitting sparrow upon seeing JingYuan.
JingYuan was satisfied with the reaction he received. With perked up lips, he carefully poured out some soup into a tiny bowl and handed it over.
“Be careful. It’s hot,” he said.
YiHan accepted the bowl with both hands, still giggling in joy.
Having witnessed such a loving sight, Jiang Hua was happy for YiHan.
“YiHan, Mr Mu’s here so I’ll be leaving,” said Jiang Hua as he got up from his chair. “There’s plenty of work left in the office.”
“Goodbye,” YiHan hurriedly said before the man could walk away. “Let’s go get a meal together once I’m discharged. Don’t forget!”
Jiang Hua glanced at JingYuan. The man was gritting his teeth. He couldn’t help but let loose a chuckle at that.
“Okay,” Jiang Hua replied. “I won’t forget. I can’t forget. Farewell, Mr Mu.”
JingYuan robotically turned to face Jiang Hua, nodded to the other man, and sternly said, “Take care.”
Jiang Hua hid his laughter behind pursed lips as he turned towards the door. Upon finding the seething Bai Yan, he was shocked.
“Mr Mu, you’re not at the office?” Jiang Hua asked.
“So you too know there’s a lot of work waiting in the office,” Yan gloomily said. “Yet, you’d skip work for no reason. Your bonus for the month will be cut.”
Jiang Hua’s eyes bugged out and his jaw dropped. “But I applied for leave before I came. How…” could it be considered skipping work for no reason?
“Are you questioning my decision?” Yan interrupted, unhappy with what he was hearing.
“No, Mr Bai,” Jiang Hua sighed. “If that’s all, I’ll head back to the office first.”
Yan harrumphed and twisted his head to look away in a quick flick. Jiang Hua kept silent and walked off, brushing past his boss as he did so. In the whole journey back to the office, he wondered and wondered about what he did to have angered his boss. Even when he eventually arrived at his desk, he’d yet to find a clue. All he could do was let out a heavy sigh once more. Whatever. As long as his boss didn’t fire him in a fit of anger, it was fine.
Back at the hospital, YiHan lowered his bowl of soup and pouted at Yan.
“Why did you get angry at Jiang-ge all of a sudden, Big Brother?” YiHan grumbled. “What did he do to have upset you?”
Yan didn’t know why he threw an angry fit out of the blue either. All he knew was there was something pushing down on his heart and made him so uneasy that he panicked slightly. Even after his outburst at Jiang Hua, that feeling never went away. Upon hearing his own little brother questioning him on his actions, the ember in his heart burned brighter. He couldn’t find it in his heart to blame his younger brother, so the blame fell to Jiang Hua.
Yan glumly looked at YiHan and said, “He’s my subordinate. Can’t I tell him off? Also, I didn’t go off for no reason…”
“How is that not unreasonable?” YiHan unhappily asked. “He squeezed some time out of his busy day to visit me out of kindness. You, however, immediately threw a fit at him upon bumping into him and you took away his monthly bonus. That is his retirement fund. Only you’d be cruel enough to do so! Hmph! Who would dare come and visit me now with that attitude of yours? Ah, wait no. Could it be you were angry at me? Then you can just take away my allowance! Why are you stealing Jiang Hua’s retirement fund from him?”
“Just what are you babbling about?” Yan asked. He didn’t know if he should cry or laugh at how the conversation developed. “Why would I get angry at you for no reason? Alright, alright. I won’t cut your Jiang-ge’s retirement fund. Is that okay?”