145. Lover’s Intuition
Qi MingYang’s smile dimmed as he reached out and shook JingYuan’s hand. “Long time no see,” he replied. “You look well, Mr Mu. Did something happy occur lately? Should I be congratulating you?”
JingYuan’s smile didn’t reach his eyes as he answered, “Nothing worth congratulating. I’m just content with my life. Unlike you, Mr Qi. You’ve recently won the proposal for a major city project. You’re in the prime of your life and so early on too.”
“It’s just a little bit of income,” Qi MingYang chuckled. “Nothing worthy of Mr Mu’s attention.”
YiHan looked on in confusion as the two men fought with barbed tongues. From what he understood of JingYuan’s character, the way he was acting was how he would act when protecting his territory. YiHan frowned as he gave Qi MingYang a suspicious look. This man might be rather petty and he wasn’t one YiHan can be close friends with, but they were only politely exchanging greetings. There was no need for JingYuan to be so wary, right?
YiHan looked at JingYuan’s steely eyes and the hand clutching tight on YiHan’s arm behind the man’s back. He let out a sigh internally. JingYuan truly did care for him. There was no doubting that. Unfortunately, this was not love.
YiHan twisted his head to look at his sister, XueQing, standing beside TianYang. They were chatting and laughing together in a conversation with someone else. The looks the two exchanged were filled to the brim with love. That wasn’t something that could be faked. YiHan let out a breath he’d been subconsciously holding in. Thank goodness. After two weeks of close analysis and observation, he’d concluded the couple’s love must be real.
YiHan was spacing out when a light pat to his shoulder shook him out of his thoughts. He turned around and found Yan Pei standing behind him. She had a striking white dress on that seemed so youthful that it danced along to her natural liveliness. Her hair was tied up in a high ponytail. She looked so energetic.
Pei smiled as her eyes glanced at JingYuan before she sprawled across YiHan’s shoulders to whisper in the man’s ear, “Is your Mr Mu jealous? Look at how stern he looks. I can feel chills running down my spine.”
YiHan awkwardly smiled and replied, “He’s not. Don’t jest. Why are you here?”
Pei pinched her lips and twisted them to a side, gesturing to the two men in the distance. “My big brother and Zhang-ge are over there,” she said. “I only spoke with Zhang-ge for a while before my big brother got tired of me and chased me off. I’m here to play with you.”
As Pei spoke, she suddenly felt a chilly breeze breathe down on her neck. A shudder ran through her body. She looked up and around before her eyes squarely met JingYuan’s dark eyes. The man was coldly staring at the arm she’d draped across YiHan’s shoulders. Years of experience in fighting with her big brother made Pei remove her arm in a flash. She then stepped away from Yihan, an arm’s length away to be exact.
“Mr Mu,” she greeted with a stiff smile.
It was only after Pei’s series of actions did JingYuan’s expression warmed up. He pulled YiHan closer to himself as he let out a short hum in response to the girl’s greeting.
“Miss Yan,” he said with a smile, “here for YiHan?”
Pei let out the breath she’d been holding in. As she complained and griped in her thoughts about this “petty little man”, she answered, “Yes. It’s been a long time since we’ve last seen each other.”
JingYuan looked down at YiHan and gently said, “If you’re bored, you can go hang out and play with Miss Yan. Remember to come looking for me later.”
YiHan hummed in an affirmative response. Pei pursed her lips. JingYuan was just like her brother. They’re both kings of face-changing. However, this man’s winter and spring moods swapped quicker than her brother’s. Look at how tender the man was speaking. It felt as tender as a young, ripe fruit.
YiHan took a step towards Pei but he couldn’t move any more than that. He looked down and saw the tight grip JingYuan still had on his arm.
“JingYuan,” YiHan reminded, patting the other man’s hand.
The older man blinked, stunned for a moment, before slowly letting go of YiHan’s arm. As he watched YiHan and Pei walk further and further away from him, his face morphed into an ugly look. That Yan Pei was walking closer and closer to his HanHan!
Pei was walking when she felt that spine-chilling sensation return. She snuck a glance behind her to find, as she expected, JingYuan glaring darkly at her. She let out a helpless sigh and silently stepped sideways, away from YiHan. Just as she thought, that feeling lessened. Hmph. Why was this Mu JingYuan so protective over his prey? He was even more prone to jealousy than her big brother!
The day soon passed in lively cheer. The servants were left to clean up after what remained of the party as the Bai family and JingYuan went back to their rooms to rest. JingYuan sat on the bed as his eyes bored into the bathroom door. His thin lips were pursed tightly together. His mind was off wandering, thinking about who-knew-what.
Soon, the bathroom door opened and out walked YiHan, all wrapped up in his sleepwear.
“Did I keep you waiting for long?” YiHan asked with a smile. “Head on in and wash up.”
JingYuan stood up and walked over to Yihan. He leaned down and lightly pecked YiHan on the forehead.
“Are you tired?” JingYuan warmly asked. “I’ll help you blow your hair dry so you can sleep first.”
YiHan took a step back. His smile was still present as he replied, “It’s fine. You must be tired too. Go shower so you can sleep too. I can dry my own hair.” As he said so, he walked around JingYuan to the hairdryer.
JingYuan’s eyes darkened. He stood there for a long silent moment before he eventually entered the bathroom.
By the time JingYuan was done with his shower, YiHan was already done drying his hair and had curled up in his blanket. The younger man seemed to have fallen asleep.
JingYuan softly caressed YiHan on the cheek. He sighed and turned off most of the lights in the room, leaving a dim little wall lamp on. He picked up a box of cigarettes and walked out onto the balcony. He made sure to close the balcony doors tight before he lit up a cigarette. He leaned against the balcony railing, letting the night wind blow his damp hair dry. His black eyes were hazy as they stared at the smoke. He stood there, dazedly staring up at the night sky. The night was calm and quiet but there was a whirlwind raging on in his heart. The uneasiness in him grew stronger and stronger. It all felt like he was trying to hold onto a handful of sand in his palm. The more he panicked, the harder he gripped. The harder his grip, the faster the sand slipped out of his hand. His heart knew this would only lead to two empty hands. His efforts would be futile but all he could do was try and make the sand stay. It made him feel so scared and powerless. However, YiHan and the rest of the Bai family all acted so naturally. There was nothing off about them. So why was his heart panicking? Was this all just some spoiled part of him bleating in delusion?
It was now Autumn. The weather has turned colder. The western districts were near a mountain. The night breeze was chilly yet he didn’t feel cold at all. He continued smoking on the balcony, dressed in only a bathrobe. The glass ashtray was already filled with a mountain of cigarette butts, but JingYuan’s mind was still a mess.
YiHan laid in bed for a long while but JingYuan still wouldn’t get in bed. He didn’t hear the door open or close just now so the man must still be in the room. Where did the man go? Without JingYuan by his side, there was no way YiHan could fall asleep. That was rather frustrating too. When JingYuan returned to his “normal” life, YiHan would have to rely on drugs for sleep in the future.
He waited and waited until, finally, he couldn’t hold the curiosity in anymore. He opened his eyes. There was no one in the room. He slid his feet into his slippers and he searched the room. He couldn’t even find a single hair of the man. Did JingYuan leave?
He was about to leave the room when, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a glowing ember flickering beyond the balcony doors. He walked closer to those doors.
“JingYuan?” YiHan called.
The glowing spot paused and was soon extinguished. JingYuan pulled open the doors and entered the room, bringing with him a chilly breeze tainted with the stench of tobacco. The man swiftly turned and closed the door behind him.
“Why are you up?” JingYuan asked. “Did I wake you up?”
“Why were you smoking outside with only a bathrobe one?” YiHan answered with a frown.
YiHan took a step forward, wanting to feel JingYuan’s hands when the taller man retreated as well.
“Don’t touch me, HanHan,” JingYuan whispered. “My skin’s cold. Hurry back to bed. You must’ve just woken up. Don’t catch a cold.”
Looking up at the man’s pale lips, YiHan felt his heart ache. He persisted in getting closer to the man. Helpless and cornered, JingYuan could only keep walking backwards until his back hit the wall. There was nowhere to run now.
“HanHan, don’t fool around,” JingYuan finally sighed. “It’s really cold.”
“You know it’s cold too?” YiHan said, seething with anger. “And you still went outside and let the wind blow all over you?”
YiHan’s hands patted JingYuan’s arms, his hands, and all the spots of skin he could reach. Everywhere he touched was icy cold. He hurried grabbed JingYuan’s chilly hands and dragged the man to the bed. He tugged and pushed the older man into bed and covered him with the blanket. After some thought, YiHan burrowed into the blanket as well. He thought it’d be faster to warm the man up with his body head, but then JingYuan stopped with a hand pressing against YiHan’s shoulder.
“Behave, HanHan,” JingYuan softly said. “Don’t play around. You’ll really catch a cold.”
“I’m not made of paper nor am I held together by glue,” YiHan said, letting out a bitter smile. “I won’t catch a cold just because of this. That’d be you. Why don’t you tell me just what has made you stay outside smoking the night away instead of sleeping? You’re not addicted or drawn to tobacco at all.”
JingYuan bit his lip and kept quiet.
“Is there something bothering you?” Yihan lowly asked. “I know I’m useless. You…”
“Don’t say that,” JingYuan hurriedly interrupted. “HanHan, to me, you’re the best.”
YiHan was silent for a moment before softly asking, “The best?” The best brother, right? However, he should be satisfied. It was YiHan who was too greedy.
JingYuan thought his reluctance had upset his lover. He paused in consideration before finally asking, “HanHan, be honest with me. Have I angered you lately?”
“No,” said YiHan. “Why would you think that?”
“Then why…” JingYuan started.
“Hm?” YiHan looked at the other man in bemusement.
JingYuan closed his eyes. The hand pressing against YiHan’s shoulder pushed the younger man on the bed as JingYuan leaned closer and closer…
Just as their lips were about to touch, YiHan turned his face away.
JingYuan let out a defeated sigh. He dropped his head into YiHan’s shoulder as he said, “You reject being intimate with me. You reject my kisses. HanHan, do you…regret being with me? Is that it?”
YiHan froze for a second before he forced a smile and answered, “No. Don’t think about all that nonsense.”
JingYuan looked up at his lover’s face as he lifted a hand to it. His eyes were filled with sorrow as he said, “HanHan, the way you’ve treated me has changed. You act normal most of the time and you’re always concerned for me. I can still feel your love for me but your attitude has changed. This is my intuition as a lover. It can’t be wrong.” JingYuan’s voice was soft as a feather yet rang with a hint of helplessness and hurt. “You wouldn’t marry me. You refuse to be near me. HanHan, I…I’m terrified. I want our relationship to be based on honesty. If you don’t love me anymore, if you don’t want to be with me anymore, just tell me. Please?” But I won’t say yes to it.
When YiHan heard JingYuan mention the word “honesty”, he couldn’t help but blurt out, “And you? Have you been honest?”
JingYuan was shocked. He raised his body higher and straighter as he asked, “HanHan, you… Is there some misunderstanding? I didn’t lie to you about anything?”
YiHan rather regretted how his mouth has spoken before his mind had caught up to it. On the inside, he sighed. Ah, so he wasn’t as content and okay with it as he thought. His heart still bore a grudge. Contrary to his previous line of thought, he couldn’t happily go along with the “cure” his family had planned out for him. He couldn’t just act out the role required of him and quietly leave.
Major city project: The words used here indicate a project that’s related to either something that’ll surround the city (like its walls or roads) or recycling. As there was no more information given, this part has been kept vague.
Prime of your life and so early on too: The idiom used here loosely translates to “being proud because of achieving one’s wish at the start of one’s career”. Literally, it’s “the proud spring breeze”.
Tender as a young, ripe fruit: The idiom/phrase here is “able to squeeze juice/water out” (as if it was a piece of ripe and tender fruit).