137. There’s Only One Chance
YiHan’s recently closed jaw dropped once more. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he shouted.
“Jiang Hua was in the car,” JingYuan innocently replied. “There was no way for me to tell you. I was afraid of giving him hope. If Yan didn’t appear, he’d be even more disappointed.”
YiHan nodded to that. “True. You did the right thing.” He grabbed the luggage bag Jiang Hua had abandoned and turned back to JingYuan to ask, “Then we’ll…?”
“Head back,” JingYuan said with a shrug. “We came for a tour of the airport.”
A burst of laughter escaped YiHan’s lips. He felt much better now. JingYuan tugged at his sleeve and gestured for YiHan to look at the man beside them. It was only then that YiHan remembered Lu FengYu’s presence. He turned around. Well, the man looked like a plant withering from the frost.
YiHan couldn’t help but sympathise with the man but he didn’t know what he should say.
“It’s time for you to board your flight,” JingYuan said.
“Jiang-ge’s gone,” replied the dejected man. “Why would I want to go to ChangCheng? I despise the cold.”
YiHan: So you requested to be transferred all because you wanted to court a man?
JingYuan: How unfortunate. He worked so hard but someone stole his prize right before his eyes!
In conclusion, poor man!
Yan dragged Jiang Hua by the hand during their journey out of the airport. The moment Yan stepped through the airport doors, he could feel the depressing fury that had been weighing down on his heart over the past few days dissipate. The sun was bright and the air was refreshing to his senses. He looked back and there was Jiang Hua, still in a daze. No matter which angle he viewed the man from, Jiang Hua looked so pleasing to his eyes. Why did Yan think the sight of the man was aggravating? Jiang Hua was so likeable!
Yan shoved Jiang Hua into his car. He was about to close the door after the man when Jiang Hua spoke up, “Mr Bai, I’ll drive.”
Yan’s eyes were bloodshot. It was clear to all he hadn’t slept at all. Jiang Hua was worried for the man. Yan actually dared to drive in the state he was in.
As for Yan, those words reminded him that he was now someone with Jiang Hua by his side. He didn’t need to do something like driving himself around! Bwahahahaha! With Jiang Hua by his side, the world’s his oyster!
“Alright,” Yan said with a calm nod.
Jiang Hua immediately got out of the passenger seat and circled over to the driver’s seat. Yan had already settled himself into the front passenger seat by the time Jiang Hua opened the door to the driver’s seat.
Jiang Hua started the car and smoothly slid the car out of its spot. He glanced at the stern man sitting beside him and tentatively asked, “Mr Bai, have you not been sleeping well? You don’t look so good.”
“Mn. I’m a little tired,” Yan replied, closing his eyes as he said so.
Jiang Hua bit down on his lip and asked, “Why did…plans change so suddenly?”
Yan’s eyes shot open. He couldn’t be bothered maintaining his calm facade anymore as he angrily said, “How dare you ask that. The people you trained up are all as dumb as pigs. They can’t even arrange a file properly. They’d mess up their categories and genres. Who knows how much workload they’ve increased in total? And was that boy blind? I’ve given him a lot of glances yet he just stood there, confused as to what I even wanted him to do! Also, at the dinner party a few nights ago, he actually ran off! He left me all alone in there! (The younger man was puking his guts out. The poor man spent the night sleeping in the toilet!) I thought he was a smart man but after his promotion, I realised he’s as dumb as rocks! If he’s dumb, he should work harder. However, he’s not good at work at all. He is great at slacking off and sneaking out of work though! Your temper must’ve been way too nice! How were you not angered to death when training someone like that?”
“It’s not that bad,” Hua replied, “right? He’s quite a smart young man. He just got promoted. He must’ve found it hard to get used to your work pace so soon. You should give him some time and compromise a little.”
Yan hmphed. “Why should I compromise for him? I’m the one who pays him! Why me?”
Hua: … You’re right. That made so much sense that I can say nothing in response.
Thus, Yan only wanted Jiang Hua to work by his side now because he couldn’t get used to the newbie? True. There’s no need for Yan to bend over backwards for anyone.
Yan glanced at Hua. There was a pause as he mused about something before Yan said, “Going to ChangCheng would be much better for your future career and you wouldn’t be working under someone else anymore. If you truly wish to go, you can apply for the role.” I wouldn’t approve it anyway.
“I didn’t say I wish to go,” Hua replied, bemused. “Wasn’t it part of the company’s plans?”
Yan’s anger was stoked by Hua’s words. “You still say you didn’t want to go? You were dancing with joy and accepted the orders as soon as you received them. You didn’t hesitate at all. You were even happily handing over all of your work. You wouldn’t be seen in the office as soon as you were done. You were so eager to hop on that flight and fly away. You still want to tell me you didn’t want to go?”
“…I wasn’t dancing with joy, Mr Bai.”
“So you’re willingly staying behind?” Yan asked, turning to look at Hua.
Hua’s grip tightened around the steering wheel as he smiled and replied, “Yes.” This city has you in it. Why would I not be willing to stay here?
Yan let out a sigh of relief. The corners of his mouth perked up in a smile as he said, “You’ll have to work hard then. Your future won’t be any worse by my side. At least in the office, you’re now someone ‘superior to all but one’. Even the Executive Manager of the ChangCheng branch office would need to lower his head before you.”
“Wouldn’t I be like the ass in the lion’s skin?” Hua asked.
Yan’s chest burned hot at Hua’s smile. Subconsciously, his voice softened as he replied, “You can do that as much as you want. I give you my power.”
The other man could feel warmth spreading through his heart. He couldn’t help but turn to look at Yan only to be met with a passionate pair of eyes. Stunned, he quickly snapped his head back to look at the road. His heart raced faster and faster. Today’s Bai Yan felt exceptionally different but he didn’t dare think too much about it. He didn’t dare give himself hope.
Arriving at the office, Yan led Jiang Hua up into his office. His chest puffed up, he strode over to his chair and sat in it.
“Your senior’s back,” Yan said to Jiang Hua’s now ex-substitute, “You’ll be his assistant from now on. Learn from him. Once you’re done learning, I’ll send you to a good post.”
The young man, Lil Zhang, wiped away the few drops of sweat from his forehead and let out a long exhale. His face had the expression of someone who’d just seen the light after going through a lot of difficulties.
“Thank you, Mr Bai,” said Lil Zhang, giving his superior a sincere smile he had never shown before. “I’ll work hard and study from Jiang-ge.”
Yan was satisfied with the man’s attitude. “Mn, not bad,” he said, not a single hitch in his voice. “If you can learn even 20% of what Jiang-ge can do, you can be a manager already. The chance you have now is one everyone in this building would kill for and still not get.”
Jiang Hua was standing beside the two men as they spoke. His fair face was tinted pink. He really wanted to cover his face with his hands right now. Did Mr Bai understand just how embarrassing it was to be flattered like that? “Kill for and still not get”? It’s just the role of an assistant secretary!
On the other hand, Lil Zhang very much agreed with what Yan said. “You’re right, Mr Bai,” he said, fervently nodding. “I’ll cherish this opportunity.” Just the ability to soothe this superior’s hackles, this boss who looked so mature and calm yet was extremely nit-picking, made Jiang Hua god-like! Lil Zhang recalled the two weeks of hell he’d went through and he couldn’t help but weep for what he’d been through.
He looked up at Jiang Hua, worship evident in his eyes. How did this man work? No matter how Lil Zhang organised his files and information, Mr Bai could always find something wrong with it. He was strictly following Jiang-ge’s method but Mr Bai would never be happy with it. And then Mr Bai would sit there and glare at him. Someone, please tell Lil Zhang, just what was the boss trying to say? Who could tell what the boss meant by those glares? How did Jiang-ge know? Was the man a mind reader?
Yan spotted those glimmering glances Lil Zhang shot at Hua and was instantly upset again. “When can you learn to be a bit more professional?” he barked. “Is there something on Jiang Hua’s face? Get to work!”
Lil Zhang hurriedly replied with a “yes” and scurried out. When he turned around to close the door behind him, he saw Mr Bai glance at the file cabinet. Jiang Hua walking over to extract a folder out from the cabinet and placed it on Mr Bai’s desk. Mr Bai then nonchalantly flip the folder open with a satisfied smile.
Jiang Hua! My god, Jiang-ge! How did you do it? I could never learn that ability…
Within the office, Jiang Hua looked down at Yan’s obviously exhausted face. He hesitated a little before saying, “Mr Bai, you don’t look so good. Would you like to head inside for a nap?” Yan never liked other people talking to him about his private affairs. Hua knew that but he still asked. The man couldn’t help but feel nervous the moment the words left his mouth.
To Hua’s surprise, Yan not only didn’t get angry, the man even looked happy about it.
“Oh?” Yan remarked. “Is it that bad? Hm, I am a little tired. I’ll go take a nap. Wake me up in two hours.”
Hua looked in shock as the man stood up, stretched out his waist and walked over to the attached break room. He looked like he was in a very good mood.
Did something happen that Hua was ignorant to? What’s with Mr Bai’s sudden change?
Hua shook his head and left the office, softly closing the door behind him as he went. Then, as he turned away from the door, he was met with numerous pairs of eyes gleaming at him with a green light in them.
Everyone working outside of Yan’s personal office had been feeling sad over today being the day Jiang Hua would be leaving. The ever-punctual Mr Bai didn’t appear, even later into the morning. The staff had begun to gather in duos and trios to gossip. “Jiang Hua’s flight should’ve left by now” was one of the statements being thrown around. The second the elevator doors opened, everyone shot back to their seats like rabbits running away. To their shock, a seemingly-exhausted but very energetic Mr Bai brought Jiang Hua back to the office!
What was going on? The urge to gossip burned through them but no one could enter Mr Bai’s office other than Lil Zhang. They could only wait in agitation. Finally, Lil Zhang exited the office. Everyone pounced to interrogate him about what was going on. When they knew Jiang Hua would be going nowhere, a few girls started cheering. Then, they waited for Jiang Hua to leave Mr Bai’s office. The second the man was out, they pounced on him and crowded around him. Lil Zhang, who was the previous focus of the other workers, was subsequently pushed out of the crowd.
Lil Zhang held a hand up to his face and sighed. This world only cared for looks. Those who have beauty held the greatest advantage in life! It’s quite depressing.
Two hours later, Jiang Hua stepped into Yan’s private break room. The man was still fast asleep, only covered by a corner of his blanket. Beneath the slightly agape collar, his sharp collarbones rose and fell with the man’s even breaths.
Hua took a few steps forward and hesitated. He was somewhat reluctant to wake the man up. It was his first time seeing Yan asleep. The man was usually very strict and solemn at work. He would never fall asleep during work hours. This might be Hua’s only chance to watch the man without worry. He really couldn’t bear to break this moment of tranquillity.
A finger reached out to brush against Yan’s cheek. Then, it shrank back as if burned. Looking down at Yan’s unaware sleeping face, Hua suddenly thought that perhaps this would be only chance he’d ever have to be so close to Yan.
It was as if he was possessed. Hua placed a knee on the bed and leaned down. Closer and closer he got to Yan as he supported his weight with arms placed at the sides of the bed. Hua was not close enough that Yan’s breathing rang in his ears. Hua’s heart skipped. His palms began to sweat. Looking down at those lips, Hua gathered his courage and slowly leaned down to meet them with his.
In conclusion: The term used here (横批) generally refers to the horizontal scroll usually seen above doors, accompanied by spring couplets. These scrolls usually summarise/give an ending flair to the message written on those couplets.
Superior to all but one: The actual idiom is “inferior to one, superior to thousands” (一人之下万人之上).
Ass in the lion’s skin: The Aesop fable equivalent of the idiom “fox pretending to be a tiger” (狐假虎威).