125. Don’t Give Him Hope
“If your brother finds out you compared him to a woman, he’d faint from anger,” Jiang Hua laughed.
“Let him faint!” YiHan said, brows still locked in a frown. “Jiang-ge, don’t think about all those what-ifs just yet. Let me go scout out what he thinks first. Perhaps you’re not the target. Just wait for my call.”
However, Jiang Hua didn’t relax from YiHan’s assurance. “You don’t need to comfort me. It’s clear he has something against me. I can’t be wrong. Let me give you an example. He could be chatting with someone else, smiling all the while, but the moment he’d see me, his face would instantly darken.” He mockingly chuckled. “It’s fine though. I’ve thought things through. I’d never planned on having anything with him. Even if he fires me, I’d be close to him as long as I stay in this city. Perhaps we would still be able to see each other then. Even if we couldn’t, it has its own benefits. Not seeing each other means my heart can have more peace. At least I don’t need to watch him get married and have kids. It’s not bad to keep the fantasy I’d always kept deep in my heart alive.”
“How could you be so unambitious?” YiHan fumed. “Don’t be so pessimistic. Let me talk to him first.”
“Don’t ask him,” Hua said. “If he thinks I persuaded you to do that, if he thinks I’ve been trying to goad you two into fighting, he’d hate me even more.”
“Oh, Jiang-ge,” YiHan sighed, “the more you care, the more chaotic your mind. I’m not a fool. I won’t expose you. Just wait for my news. Even if you have to die, you must at least know why. Right now, you don’t even know why he suddenly hates you!”
Hua tilted his head and thought about it. “Okay then,” he lowly chuckled. “I’ll leave it to you, YiHan!”
“Alright,” YiHan said. “Don’t be upset. Eat some more. You’ve gotten skinnier since we last met.”
“Okay.” A warm smile graced Hua’s face.
Jiang Hua was skinnier today. It wasn’t obvious when YiHan sat across from him but when YiHan helped steady the man after Hua bumped shoulders with a man entering the restaurant as they left, YiHan realised the body hiding under the suit was so slender that a single hit could snap the man in half. As YiHan looked at the forever-gentle man walking beside him, he felt a great weight pressing down on his heart.
Later that evening after dinner, YiHan sneakily followed Yan from the dining table back to the older man’s room.
“HanHan,” Yan said, looking back in exasperation, “why are you sneaking around? Do you need my help with something?”
YiHan let out a little giggle as he stepped forward. “No. What could I need help with? I’m just a little worried since you seemed to be in a bad mood lately. Did something happen?”
Yan was touched. He wrapped an arm around his younger brother’s shoulders and led YiHan into his room.
“I’m not in a bad mood,” Yan said, sitting down on the couch in his room. “There’s just been a lot going on at the office. I’m a little tired.”
“No wonder,” YiHan said. “Jiang-ge looked rather rundown today too. His undereye area is all dark. He’s also extremely thin. In the space of one meal, he nearly fell asleep. So it’s fatigue due to overworking. Even so, as his boss, you should be a bit more considerate of your subordinates. Only Jiang-ge is patient enough. No one else would’ve let you push them so hard.”
Yan’s heart throbbed. His mood worsened. He’d been finding himself acting weirdly lately. Every time he thought of Jiang Hua, strange emotions would rise in him, let alone when Hua appeared before his eyes. To reduce the time Yan had to spend with Hua, he deliberately arranged a lot of unnecessary work for the man. He had other employees take over the man’s work. Perhaps Jiang Hua had been working by his side for too long, there was a kind of silent understanding between them that no other person could achieve. A single glance, a simple twitch; those were enough for Jiang Hua to instantly comprehend what Yan was thinking. No one else could do the same. Without Jiang Hua, everything felt hard. The new secretary he promoted was as stupid as a pig. The person had increased who knows how much more work on top of his existing workload. And then Yan would constantly be spacing out at work. The mere thought of Jiang Hua being just a wall away from him was enough to send his thoughts whirling into chaos. Now, when passing by the man’s desk, Yan would intentionally look away. It had been a while since he’d last taken a good look at Hua. Ah, the two truly had a great rapport with each other. Hua would always easily understand what Yan meant to say. Ever since Yan made all those changes, the other man had never once shown up before his eyes. If there was something they needed to tell each other, it would’ve been done through a middle-man.
Was Jiang Hua really that exhausted? Had he grown that skinny? Well, Yan had given the man a lot of work. He was afraid any less wouldn’t be able to stop the other man from appearing before him. Should Yan reduce the man’s workload tomorrow? Why not just send the man off to a branch office? Out of sight, out of mind.
YiHan paid close attention to Yan’s face as the man was stuck in his own thoughts. His brother’s expressions didn’t give him any good feelings. Deep in YiHan’s heart, he sighed for Jiang Hua’s future.
Yan shot his brother a glance and, in a seemingly nonchalant tone, asked, “He complained to you when you two ate at lunch?”
“Do you not know him?” YiHan hurriedly shook his head and replied. “He would never complain about anything to anyone, not even to me and we have such a close bond. He was sickly pale, thin as a stick and looked lethargic. I pulled the answer out of him. Only then did I know it was because of work. When we were leaving the restaurant, he was nearly knocked over by someone. It was obvious he was in a bad shape.”
Unwittingly, Yan’s heart was tugged and he reflexively asked, “Who knocked him over?”
“I don’t know,” YiHan answered, baffled. “That man didn’t mean it. He merely wasn’t paying attention to where he was walking and he had a big, muscular body. Thank goodness I was nearby to help support Jiang-ge.”
“When did you two become so close?” Yan asked with one eyebrow raised.
“We’ve always been this close,” said YiHan. “He doesn’t have any family and he thinks of me as his younger brother. Is there anything wrong with that?”
For some unknown reason, Yan’s bad mood vanished. “Of course there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Yan, gently patting his brother on the head. “Jiang Hua is a good man. Um, what do you two talk about when you meet up?”
“We’d just talk,” YiHan answered, resting a hand on his chin as he recalled. “We would talk about work, our lives, what’s going in the world; we’d talk about anything and everything.”
Yan paused to gather his words, then asked, “Did he talk about…how he’s been doing lately?”
YiHan glanced at Yan and down at the coffee table before them. “I noticed his face looking quite sickly,” he said, a finger tapping on the wooden surface, “so I question him on it. He said he was rather tired from work but that was it. However, he seemed dead on his feet. As he talked to me, he’d be on the brink of nodding off.”
“Is he that tired?” Yan frowned. “With his competence, he shouldn’t be.”
“He wasn’t in a good mood from the start,” YiHan commented. “Say, aren’t you two together all the time? Why ask me? Also, you gave him more work but did you give him a pay raise?”
“Money has never been a big concern of yours,” Yan asked, mystified. “Why do you care so much about his salary?”
YiHan picked up an orange from the bowl of fruits before him and rolled it around in his hands. “I’ve told you, that’s his retirement fund.”
“Just how old is he that he needs to start a retirement fund?” Yan wearily asked.
YiHan gave his brother the side-eye and said nothing.
Yan: …Why did that gaze look so chastising?
Sick of rolling the orange around, YiHan threw it back onto the bowl and stood up. “Anyway, stop bullying him all the time.”
Yan: Have I bullied him? Oh, I do seem to be doing it a bit lately. Ugh, it’s best to just transfer Hua away.
YiHan headed towards the door, but then he looked back and said, “I didn’t think you’re like this, Big Brother. You would never have bullied anyone.”
YiHan opened the door to leave only to be met with a handsome face, a face that was inches away from him. Startled, he skipped back and glared at the man outside the room.
“JingYuan, why are you standing there without having made any noise?” YiHan said. “It’s terrifying.”
JingYuan used his unique natural (?) bass voice to reply, “I’m here to fetch you back to our room.”
YiHan’s heart raced. He cleared his throat and said, “Then, go. I, um, I was thinking of heading back for a while now but my brother insisted I stay behind and chat with him. I don’t know what to do with him.”
JingYuan chuckled. He nodded in greeting to Yan, who was staring at them with a gaping mouth. Then, with an arm across YiHan’s shoulders, JingYuan led the young man back to their room.
Yan: He might be getting old. He couldn’t understand them. YiHan would be going back to a room that was located in the same house as Yan’s room. Did that require an escort? Also, YiHan, are you really okay with selling your brother out? You’re the one who followed me over!
After their evening’s harmonious exercise, YiHan was slumped over their bed, drenched in sweat and panting heavily. JingYuan’s body hovered slightly above YiHan’s, refusing to withdraw from YiHan’s body. Kiss after kiss rained down on YiHan’s ears and shoulders.
“Get off,” YiHan huffed. “You’re heavy.”
JingYuan propped his body up higher and leaned in close to the younger man’s ear to whisper, “How about this? Still heavy?”
“Aren’t you tired?” YiHan tiredly said. “Get out.”
“I don’t want to,” JingYuan said as he nipped along the back of YiHan’s neck.
YiHan rolled his eyes at the man, unable to do anything more. “When did you learn to be so shameless?” he joked.
“I wouldn’t act like this to anyone else,” JingYuan crooned. “What does it matter?” He tenderly kissed a shoulder peppered with hickeys. “HanHan, you seem particularly concerned with Jiang Hua’s affairs.”
YiHan didn’t bother turning around. “Jiang-ge’s a good man,” he sighed. “He just has a bad life and bad luck with love. What made him love my brother? It’s just a disaster for people like us to fall in love with straight men. Jiang-ge is also a very stubborn man. When I was at lunch with him today, he looked drained.” He sighed. “I can’t do anything to help him either. I feel so powerless.”
“HanHan,” JingYuan said, suckling on the man’s earlobe, “love is not something other people can help with. If you wish to help him, you can only do so in terms of his lifestyle, like you can ask him out for a meal when he’s free or you can make sure he won’t be all alone in this world when he’s an old man.”
YiHan let out another sigh, “That’s all I can do. Aren’t I useless? I wanted to make him happier but I don’t even know what to do.”
“HanHan, you must understand that if it’s impossible between them, don’t give Jiang Hua hope. Otherwise, he’ll be even more hurt,” JingYuan gently said.
YiHan thought about it and replied, “You’re right. I only thought about making him happy. I didn’t think about how much more upsetting he’d be to be disappointed after being given hope.”