127. A Lively Day
YiHan nearly had his breath knocked out of him by Qin Feng’s claps to YiHan’s shoulder. Fang Yi walked over and smacked Qin Feng’s back as hard as he could.
“Not so hard!” Fang Yi scolded. “Do you think he’s as rough as you? You’re a thug. Why would YiHan ever need you? To help out in a brawl?”
“Lil Fang,” Qin Feng whined, “can’t you leave me some dignity intact?”
Fang Yi side-eyed the man and kept silent.
YiHan eventually caught his breath. “Let’s get in the car,” he said, holding back a laugh.
Not long after the car departed from the gates of the Bai family home, YiHan received a call from Yan Pei. She chattered and begged over the phone for him to go play with her. She said that she even had a bodyguard with her, just for his safety.
All YiHan could answer in reply was to tell her about his plans for the day.
“Then let’s go together!” Pei eagerly cried. “Let’s go! I can help give you ideas too. I’ve got great tastes!
YiHan glanced at Fang Yi. Upon seeing the older man shrug to show he didn’t mind the additional company, YiHan replied, “How about we meet up at the strip mall in Wen Fang?”
“Okay,” Pei excitedly replied. “We’ll head there right now! Quick, Zhang-ge! Get in the car!” It was obvious the last two lines were directed at someone else behind her. YiHan thought for a moment. She called the other person “Zhang-ge”. That should be Yan Hui’s significant other. What a surprise. What a lively day it’ll be.
When the trio arrived at the strip mall, Yan Pei could be spotted from afar, enthusiastically jumping up and down and waving her hands. Beside her stood a tall man.
YiHan and the other two men walked towards them and the two parties introduced each other. As expected, that man was Yan Hui’s legally married husband. His name was Zhang Su. The man was very tall and quite lanky. His skin was a pale white, as if it rarely ever sees the sun. He looked like a proper gentleman dressed in a white collar shirt and beige slacks. A pair of rimless spectacles perched on top of his straight nose, making him seem like a studious scholar. YiHan could sense an air of books around him. The man didn’t say much but his manner of speaking was very elegant and refined.
The group of five made their way through the crowds and into the mall. They wandered from shop to shop. Pei was animatedly chattering non-stop. YiHan had picked out two vests made of goat wool, some winter scarves, gloves and hats, but none of those could be used as birthday presents. The group then turned their focus to the antique stores.
Everyone in the group were of the same age group. Soon, they were familiar with each other. Pei pulled YiHan back as the group headed to the next shop.
“YiHan, your two friends are a couple, right?” she whispered.
“No,” he said. “They’re friends. Don’t talk nonsense or they’ll feel awkward.”
“Ooh,” Pei drawled with an evil smirk. “Little YiHan, you’re too pure. You must trust in my eyes. There’s definitely something going on between them!”
YiHan looked up ahead at Fang Yi and Qin Feng only to watch Qin Feng attempt to put his arm around Fang Yi’s shoulders while the other man would constantly push it off.
“You see that?” cackled Pei. “There’s no way their relationship could be that simple. Even if they’re not a couple now, they’d absolutely be one in the future.”
“How do you know?” YiHan couldn’t help but lower his voice and whisper back.
“Nothing can escape my eagle eyes!” said, giving a proud little laugh. “Look. I won’t talk about Qin An. It’s all too obvious what he thinks of Fang Yi. As for Yi, the man looks like he’s rejecting on the surface but if he really didn’t feel anything for the younger man, he can just pull away. Why is he still walking beside him? It’s clearly a ‘yes’ wrapped in a ‘no’!”
“You have great observation skills,” YiHan commended.
“Of course!” Her chin was held high in pride.
YiHan glanced at Zhang Su who’d been walking by them and whispered to her, “Didn’t you say your brother keeps Zhang Su well-hidden? How did you invite him out?”
“Naturally, it’s because I’m amazing!” She was so happy she could fly. “My brother can be as thorough as he wants but he’s still human. It’s how I got to Zhang-ge. Zhang-ge actually likes me a lot. I just need to plead prettily and he’ll cave in. As long as I send him home before the evening, my brother wouldn’t find out.”
YiHan was curious. “Why doesn’t your brother let you talk to Zhang Su?”
“Hmph!” Pei pouted. “He said he’s afraid I’d teach Zhang-ge bad habits! As if he’s perfect. He’s like the Big Bad Wolf! He’s just afraid I’ll expose his true self to Zhang-ge!”
“And you still have him come with you all this way?” YiHan sighed. “Won’t your brother be furious if he finds out?”
“I’ve wanted to introduce you two for a long time,” she exclaimed, eyes glimmering brightly. “Do you know what’s the happiest thing that can happen to a fujoshi? It’s being a friend to two ultimate bottoms! Bwahahaha! I’m living the best life possible, alright?”
“Who said I’m a bottom?” YiHan said, embarrassment turning into anger. “I’m a top, okay?”
“Okay, I believe you,” she said after pausing to give him a pitying look.
“What’s with that glance?” YiHan could feel the comical black lines descending down his forehead. “It’s true!”
“Yes, yes. I know. I believe you’re a top too. You’re a strong top! Okay? There, there,” she coaxed.
It was nearly noon by the time YiHan finally found something he liked, a tea set made of purple clay. The teacups and pot were quite plain without any decorative touches or any sharp corners. The smooth rounded clay surface gleamed. They were exactly the kind of tea set YiHan’s grandfather liked. YiHan was very satisfied with his find, so he had Chen Feng go pay while he watched the store staff pack the tea set into a box.
“That tea set looks nice. Find me another of the kind. I want to take a closer look at it,” a man’s voice rang out from beside YiHan.
The manager walked over and said, “Our sincerest apologies, Mr Qi. We only have one of the ‘Water, Clouds and Sky’ set. Mr Bai here has already paid for it. We do have plenty of other great tea sets in stock. Perhaps you’d like to take a look?”
YiHan turned to look at the voice to find that man looking back at him.
“Ah, it’s Little Master Bai,” the man said, walking over with a smile and a hand stretched out for a handshake. “What a coincidence. Miss Yan, you’re here too.”
Pei smiled back at the man and nodded in greeting.
YiHan politely smiled at the man and shook his hand. “Yes. Unfortunately, I bought this ‘Water, Clouds and Sky’ tea set for my grandfather. Otherwise, I’d let you have it.”
“It’s fine, Little Master Bai,” Qi MingYang said, smile still present. “It’s a purchase. It’s first come, first served, let alone it being a gift for the old Mr Bai. Even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t make you give up on it. Are you getting it as a birthday gift for your grandfather?”
“Yes,” YiHan answered. “How do you know, Mr Qi?”
“There’s really no such thing as a pure coincidence. I was thinking of getting that tea set as a gift for the old Mr Bai too. In that case, it doesn’t matter who buys the tea set. I’ll find something else.”
“Alright, Mr Qi. Take care,” YiHan said, nodding in farewell.
“See you,” Qi MingYang said.
The man left the store first. Once the tea set was all packed away, Yan Pei and YiHan walked out of the shop.
“I don’t like him,” she whispered to YiHan, hand in his arm.
“What is it?” he asked. “What don’t you like about him? Oh, is it because he’s straight?”
“This isn’t a question of sexuality,” she solemnly replied. “Am I that shallow?”
At YiHan’s side-eye, she sighed, “Alright, I’m quite shallow. But this time, it’s really not because of that. He’s always smiling at everyone but he’s actually quite petty. If anyone ever offended him once, he’d bear a grudge against them for his whole life. Even if we were in the right back there, he’d think we snatched something from him. He might bear a grudge against us for that. Anyway, I just don’t like him.”
“Oh,” YiHan slowly let out. “It’s not that serious, right?”
Zhang Su, who was beside them during the whole incident, chuckled and patted Pei on the head. “We all belong to the same social circle. There’s no need to cause a fuss. Nod in greeting when you do meet him and it’ll be fine. If you don’t like him, you can just avoid interacting with him in your daily life.”
“Mn,” Pei nodded hard in agreement. “Zhang-ge is right. But, YiHan, you need to be careful of him. Just in case he ends up getting revenge against you.”
“That won’t happen,” YiHan replied.
“I’m serious,” she said. “Anyway, just be a little more cautious. Caution is the parent of safety.”
“Yes, I know,” YiHan said, nodding. “It’s noon now. Come, let’s go get lunch. What do you want?”
“Let’s see what everyone else says. Guys, what do you want to eat?” Pei replied.
“You’re the only girl among us. Of course we have to go with your choice,” YiHan said.
“In that case,” she mused, hand on her chin, “let’s head to the top floor. There’s a really good restaurant up there. I’ve been there a few times.”
YiHan asked around. No one objected to the suggestion so everyone went straight for the restaurant.
As the only regular of the shop, Pei took up the burden of ordering. With an ease born from habit, she swiftly ordered a few signature dishes. Everyone else then added a few more to the list and their table was settled. Indeed, the food was delicious. The group had also been walking around for the whole morning. They were starving by the time the food came. They were enthusiastically downed their meal. Coincidentally, they bumped into Qi MingYang once more on their way out.
The man was heading into the restaurant. When he spotted them, he smiled and greeted, “It seems we’re destined to meet today, Little Master Bai. We meet once more.”
“Yes,” YiHan replied, politely smiling back. “Here for lunch as well, Mr Qi?”
The man nodded and said, “This place has very good food.”
YiHan nodded along in agreement. They exchanged a few more words and said their goodbyes. YiHan and his group walked out of the shop. MingYang walked into the shop with two men by his side. As the two men passed by each other, a server walked by with a pot of soup. One of the men behind Qi MingYang drifted slightly closer to the server and, in a seemingly accidental move, tapped a spot on the server’s back. He was right behind the server as he did so. With the server’s form blocking his actions from sight, no one saw what he did. The server was caught off-guard. He stumbled and tripped forward along with the soup in his hands. Bai YiHan just so happened to be right in front of the server.
Fang Yi and Qin Feng were walking a few steps behind YiHan. The police officer had fast reflexes. His hands were up and about to block YiHan from being splashed when the man beside him, Qin Feng, had acted. With his left hand. Qin Feng pushed YiHan away. His right leg swept up and kicked the pot of soup away. In the chaos that ensued, the man still had the time to reach out with his other hand and grab the shirt collar of the server, saving the young employee from falling flat on his face. A loud crash rang in their ears. The pot of soup had fallen to the floor. The ceramic pot shattered. Steam rose from the puddle of boiling-hot soup.
YiHan stumbled forwards from the force of the push and was steadied by Zhang Su. Upon hearing the commotion, Qi MingYang looked back.
“What happened, Little Master Bai?” MingYang hurriedly asked. “Were you hurt?”
YiHan stood straight and replied with a smile, “I’m fine. Thankfully, no one was hurt.”
Eagle Eyes: Actual translation = “fiery eyes/penetrating eyesight”. The phrase came from Journey to the West. It’s the skill Wukong uses to differentiate demons from humans. The CGI artists usually show his eyes glowing gold. The phrase’s modern meaning is eyesight so sharp that they could see what’s true and what’s not.
‘Yes’ wrapped in a ‘no’: No. No matter what this story says, a no is a no. It doesn’t matter that the other person could’ve pulled away at any time, it’s still scummy. Not everyone has the courage to reject a friendly face as people often are afraid the other person could react badly. If you ever find anyone in this kind of situation and you’re close/acquainted with the people involved, an intervention might be needed. However, some people do like to play “hard to get”. Always confirm if both parties are aware of what’s going on and had time to think about what they want before staging an outright intervention.
So happy she could fly: The original phrase is “so happy (pretty in mtl) that a bubble swelled from their nose”. It means extremely happy as the explanation given was when kids are happy, a big bubble would appear on their nose (formed from their snot). This phrase is usually used to mock other people for being too happy.
Qi MingYang: Just in case anyone has forgotten, this is the Bai family’s prime suspect for the mastermind behind YiHan’s trauma. He’s the son of the man (Qi Kun) who has a lifelong grudge against Bai Pa due to competition and being thoroughly defeated after years of assuming he was better than Bai Pa.
Caution is the parent of safety: Literal translation, “Caution steers the 10,000-year-old boat”.
Pot of soup: For those unfamiliar, some restaurants serve their soups in little pots like below. It’s usually an implied sign of quality as only the higher-end/soup-focused restaurants would bother buying crockery just for soup and nothing else.