144. Birthday Banquet
YiHan didn’t dodge JingYuan’s hand this time around. However, he didn’t do anything either. His wrist laid limply in JingYuan’s grip.
Deep down, JingYuan gave a self-mocking smirk. When did he turn into a girl, self-absorbed and always fussing over the most minute of things? HanHan loved him. Didn’t he confirm it long ago? There was nothing to be uneasy about. This was his HanHan. They’d be getting married soon.
At the thought of marriage, JingYuan’s eyes darkened. His HanHan didn’t want to be married to him this quickly. HanHan said it was because they were still young. There was no need for them to get married this quickly. They were together now and they had the Bai family’s recognition. Getting married would change nothing so why be so obsessed with a piece of paper?
HanHan was still a young man. It was understandable he didn’t want to be locked down by marriage this early on. However, JingYuan was still very disappointed with his proposal’s failure. He savoured the feel of the smooth skin in his grip. He should be more patient. He should give HanHan a little more time. It’s not too late to get married later when HanHan had enough fun. They’d get married sooner or later.
JingYuan looked up at the other people in the room. No one noticed YiHan’s weird behaviour. They were all happily chatting away. Perhaps he was overthinking things.
The old Mr Bai was ecstatic. He had such fun chatting with YiHan that his guffaws rang out loud and clear around the group. He looked so much younger than he was moments before. He always cautioned his son and grandson to not dote on YiHan too much. They might spoil him rotten and turn him into an arrogant brat. However, he himself was the one who doted most on YiHan. His reason was that he rarely got to spend time with YiHan. Must he use up all of his hard-earned opportunities to scold and lecture his youngest grandson? Naturally, YiHan’s education should be left to his parents and siblings. He’s just the grandfather. He was only responsible for spoiling YiHan.
Before today’s meeting with his grandfather, YiHan was on the edge of his seat with nervousness. His heart was wrecked by a stormy mixture of guilt, grief and regret. Now that he was faced with a healthy and hale grandfather, he realised the only emotions left was gratitude. He once again thanked the gods and the heaven for bringing him back, for giving him the chance to be reborn and atone for his crimes. He only hoped that Grandfather could live to a ripe old age in this lifetime, that he could be a happy old kid and not have to worry for his descendants.
When the old Mr Bai was done catching up with YiHan, he turned to Yan, smile still bright on his face. “Yan, why didn’t you bring Jiang Hua with you? Didn’t you say he’s yours now? You weren’t exaggerating, were you?”
“Grandfather,” Yan replied, exasperation clear in his voice, “there’s work to do still. He can only come tomorrow.”
The old Mr Bai glared at his eldest grandson as he said, “Oh, how very grand of you. Are you bullying him? Did you push all of your work on him? A word of advice, Yan. Lovers, no matter their gender, are meant to be doted on. You’ve got to spoil him, care for him. This is not some mission or quest you can complete with a simple ‘I love you’ and a gift. Alright? You’ve got to show it in the small things in life. Make him feel the warm glow of love to the point where he can’t live without you. Only then will he settle down with you for the rest of his life. You’re an awkward young man already. You don’t have a single romantic bone in you. If you don’t know how to spoil him, then be prepared to be a lonely old dog!”
Okay, fine. Goodness, his grandfather even knew what the “lonely old dog” meme was. Yan sighed, “No, Grandfather. Why would I bully him? How about this? I’ll call him now and ask him to come over. Hm?”
Upon hearing Yan’s reply, the old Mr Bai was so angry that his eyebrows formed a giant V. “And you still say you’re not bullying him? What do you think he is? Some subordinate you can summon and dismiss at will? You must understand his role has been switched. He’s now your lover! Boyfriend! You must listen to him, obey him! You’re so useless!”
“Teach me then.” Yan felt like he’d just been shot in the head. “What should I do?”
“Why are you so dumb?” the old Mr Bai sighed in disdain. “Don’t you even know how to show your concern for someone else? There’s no way he can come here at this time. Go call him and ask if he’d eaten dinner. What did he eat? How did he feel today? It’s getting cold lately. Had he put on extra layers? Do I need to teach you that? There’s no hope for you. Jiang Hua is such a poor, unlucky man. How did he end up with a man like you? If your grandmother were here, she’d be scolding and poking you non-stop until you’re bruised all over!”
“Grandfather,” Yan helplessly replied, “he’s an adult. He’s survived on his own for years. Does he really need someone to remind him to put on more layers on cold days?”
The old Mr Bai turned to YiHan and said, “YiHan, look at your big brother. Look at that dense loggerhead. It’s Jiang Hua’s business whether or not they put on extra layers. It’s Yan’s business whether or not you ask or get concerned over him! This is the difference between being a lonely old dog and someone with a lover! If we go by his logic, Jiang Hua can think things through by himself, he can work things out all by himself. What does he need you for then? Does he lack a precious baby to serve? Aargh, he pisses me off! YiHan, if I was as stupid as he is back when I was chasing after your grandmother, she wouldn’t even spare me a glance! Winter was so cold back then but I still ran all the way over to your grandmother’s place with hot buns and soy milk. When the buns and soy milk arrived in her hands, they were still warm! Your grandmother was so touched! Well, your grandmother was an adult too back then. Wouldn’t she have bought the buns and soy milk herself if she wanted them? Hm? She was moved because of the intentions behind my run over! After we were married, she told me the best buns she’d ever tasted in her whole life were those buns I brought to her!”
“You’re so amazing, Grandfather!” YiHan replied with a grin. “Because you were truly in love with Grandmother, your heart naturally took notice and care of every single aspect in life. She could see it. Of course she was touched. Actually, when I was a little kid, she once told me the best decision she’d ever made in her life was marrying you.”
The old Mr Bai could feel his pride inflating with every word of praise that came from his dearest grandson’s mouth but when he heard the last sentence, his grin was so wide that it stretched across his face.
“Really?” asked the old Mr Bai. “She really said that to you? Why did she never tell me that before? She must’ve been too shy. Oh, YiHan, did you know? Your grandmother might’ve looked super strong and powerful but she’s so gentle and kind and warm to me. She’s…”
Yan glanced at his little brother in gratitude as their grandfather rambled on about their grandmother. The old Mr Bai would always go on and on about his wife whenever she’s mentioned. Yan then exchanged exasperated looks with his father before quietly slipping out of the room.
The old Mr Bai’s sharp eyes caught Yan’s actions and he immediately barked out, “Where are you going?”
Yan turned around and waved his phone at his grandfather, showing it to him. “I’m going to call Hua,” Yan said with a smile. “To, erm, ask after him.”
The old Mr Bai shot Yan a look that read “you finally get it”.
“That’s right,” said the old Mr Bai. “Go on. Spend a while longer talking to him.”
The next day, the guests flocked over. The crowds were as thick as clumps of clouds. It was the old Mr Bai’s seventy-seventh birthday. Everyone who’s anyone in the city was there. Jiang Hua arrived as early as he could. When the old Mr Bai saw him, he gleefully pulled the man over to his side. They chatted for a long while before Hua was set free to roam around. When Hua finally was done talking to the old Mr Bai, he saw YiHan waving at him.
“YiHan,” Hua greeted as he walked over to the younger man. “Where’s JingYuan?”
The smile on YiHan’s face froze for a second before it regained its liveliness. “He’s over there,” said YiHan, pointing to JingYuan who was surrounded by a crowd of people. “You? How have you been?”
Hua smiled back. The smile he had on made his gentle face seemed exceedingly warm and kind.
“I’m good,” replied Hua.
“Mn. I think you must be too,” YiHan said, holding back a little snicker as he said so. “My brother’s not romantic at all but at least his heart is true. He’d been trying for a few days to buy your place over from me. However, I didn’t say yes. Whenever you have the time, let’s get the paperwork done so the place can be transferred back to you. That’ll show him!”
“If he likes it, then give it to him,” Hua laughed.
“That won’t do,” YiHan replied. “He doesn’t need another place. He just wants it because you decorated it yourself. I’m not going to give it to him. Anyway, has he been over to your place yet? Did you let him stay in my room?”
“No, no,” Hua hurried said. “I never let anyone else step a foot in your room.”
“Based on how devoted you are to him, you wouldn’t have the heart to make him sleep on the couch,” YiHan chuckled. “Then he must have…”
Hua’s fair cheeks immediately went a rosy red. “YiHan!” he said in mock rage. “You set me up!”
YiHan continued laughing as he said, “I was wondering why my brother seemed to be glowing lately. I see. It’s because he caught up to you.”
The blush on Hua’s cheeks intensified. He shot YiHan a glare and turned to leave.
YiHan quickly scrambled forward to pull the man back. “Okay. Don’t be mad, please?” he begged. “I was just fooling around. This is good actually. My brother even told our parents he will definitely marry you in the future.”
Hua looked up at Yan. The other man was standing not far away from the duo. Hua’s face softened.
“My grandfather has been telling you bad things about my brother, hasn’t he?” YiHan continued. “The older he gets, the more he acts like a child.”
Hua let out another bright smile as he warmly replied, “Your grandfather is a good man. Yan might seem strong but he’s really quite dumb and oblivious, said the old Mr Bai. He asked me not to hate on Yan for that.” Hua turned around to look back at YiHan. “You’re so very lucky and you must be very happy to have such a great family, YiHan.”
YiHan smiled back at Hua. He looked up at the clouds floating by and softly said, “Yes. I’m very lucky and very happy. I, too, do my best to let them feel the same luck and happiness I do.”
Hua patted the young man on the shoulder and said with a smile, “You’ve grown up, YiHan.”
YiHan looked back down at the other man. There was a strange glimmer in his eyes as he said, “Yes. I should’ve grown up.”
Something in that gaze felt off to Hua but before he had time to analyse it, he heard Yan calling out to him.
“Hua, this way,” called Yan.
“My brother’s calling for you,” YiHan said with a chuckle. “Go on.”
Hua shot the younger man a suspicious glance before humming in an affirmative response and walking over to Yan.
YiHan lifted a glass of wine. His eyes were fixed on it for a long time before he slowly put it back down again. He really didn’t dare get drunk.
Suddenly, a glass of fruit juice appeared before his eyes. YiHan’s questioning gaze followed the hand holding it until YiHan spotted Qi MingYang smiling down at him.
“Little Master Bai,” said Qi MingYang upon noticing YiHan’s eyes on him, “my sincerest apologies about the incident last time. It’s easy to get drunk on wine. Have some juice to soothe your throat with instead.”
“There’s no need to mention what’s in the past,” YiHan said as he accepted the glass of juice. “Anyway, that incident was not your fault, Mr Qi.”
“You’re very kind, Little Master,” said Qi MingYang.
“How could this be kindness?” YiHan chuckled. “Hm? You’re here very early today, Mr Qi.”
“It’s the old Mr Bai’s seventy-seventh birthday,” replied Qi MingYang. “It’s a major event. As a show of my respect, I have to come early.”
“Thank you so much, Mr Qi,” said YiHan.
“It’s what I should do,” Qi MingYang said with eyes squinting from his smile.
YiHan was about to continue the conversation when someone pulled him aside and behind them. It was JingYuan. His tall form stood in front of YiHan, blocking the younger man from view.
“Mr Qi,” rumbled JingYuan, “long time no see.”
Lonely old dog: Single dog meme/phrase. Google it up and Google might say its full meaning is “single with a dog” (akin to the old cat lady) but there’s no such explanation anywhere. Instead, the phrase’s logic was a) “dog” is an insult akin to bitch but ungendered and b) dogs are positive animals – loyal, hardworking, clingy, affectionate, Man’s best friend. Those meaning combined meant “single dog” is often seen as a self-mocking yet self-loving nickname/insult/term.
Giant V: MTL would say “raised eyebrows” or “his eyebrows stood up”. A brief browse through Google images and you’d find that they actually meant the comical V-shaped angry expression.
There was a mistranslation a few chapters back. The old Mr Bai mysteriously had his name changed to the old Mr Yan due to some technical difficulties with the translator’s brain. Apologies for the mistakes. They’ve now been corrected.