148. Do You Still Love Me?
JingYuan looked at YiHan. The younger man didn’t look like he was feeling well.
“HanHan doesn’t need to go with me,” JingYuan hurriedly said. “Let him have a few days of rest.”
“You’re sick,” said FuRen. The tone in his voice brooked argument. “There’s no way we can let you go back alone. Anyway, HanHan’s worried about you. Even if he doesn’t go with you, he couldn’t rest easy. Why not let him follow you? He’d be much more at ease. If you’re really upset over his fatigue, then get better faster. Right. JingYuan, you still have a fever. You look very sickly. Go lie back down.”
JingYuan stood up and, with the help of YiHan’s support, wobbled his way up the stairs.
“Why did you say yes?” Ma asked in confusion. Her gaze followed the two young men’s figures as they ascended to their room. “There are more people here. It’d be much easier to take care of JingYuan. HanHan wouldn’t need to work so hard. When they’re back at JingYuan’s place, HanHan will be doing it all alone. How could he do it all by himself?”
FuRen sighed and replied, “XiaoRan, you must notice it too. There’s something off between them. I’ve noticed it before but it was all in the back of my head. Dr Zhou said HanHan was getting better and JingYuan said he truly loved HanHan, that he wanted to be married to HanHan. There was so much good news that I didn’t think anything bad about it. However, ever since JingYuan fell sick, the air between the two grew worse. Quarrels between lovers aren’t scary. What’s worth being afraid of is this kind of stiff awkwardness that doesn’t go away or intensify. JingYuan doesn’t have a weak body. If not for something in his mind weighing him down, this fever wouldn’t have dragged on for so long. Look at how JingYuan acted just now. He’s adamant on leaving. If he really left this home by himself, their relationship might turn sour. Why not let them both go? Without any outsiders, those two can fully focus on resolving whatever’s keeping them apart. They’re a couple. There’s nothing they can’t overcome. They just need to be honest and communicate.”
Ma sighed, “But HanHan, he…”
FuRen embraced her around the shoulders and said, “Don’t worry, dear. Do you not know how JingYuan treats HanHan? Even if they fight, the man won’t let our son suffer much.”
Ma nodded. “True. Ugh, these two kids make me worry so. Children really are a burden on their parents.”
FuRen gently patted her on the shoulder and softly said, “That’s why I chased them out. Let’s leave them to it! They’ll resolve this matter themselves!”
Ma couldn’t help but chuckle at that as she gave her husband the side-eye.
The night passed without another word spoken on the matter. On the next morning, Chen Hong rushed over the first thing he could. He hurriedly packed the two young men’s belongings into his car before waiting in the car.
JingYuan’s fever had died down that same morning. His forehead was still covered in a thin sheen of sweat as he walked down the stairs with YiHan’s hand firmly in his.
“Once you’re back home, remember to rest often,” Ma said, stepping up to the two as they walked off the stairwell. “Don’t worry too much about work. Rest well and take it easy. Only then can you get better faster.”
“Okay,” JingYuan replied with a smile. “Don’t worry, Aunt.”
Ma then turned to YiHan. As she gently smoothed out YiHan’s collar, she said, “HanHan, you’re an adult now. Don’t keep throwing childish temper tantrums. JingYuan’s still sick. You have to take good care of him and yourself. Don’t cave into your emotions.”
YiHan tugged his hand out of JingYuan’s to wrap his arms around his mother. “I know, Ma.”
JingYuan’s hand clenched around where warmth once was but he remained silent.
The couple then walked towards the car. Along the way, YiHan’s feet dragged across the ground as he kept sneaking glances back at his mother.
Beside him in the car, JingYuan whispered, “Do you not want to leave? I know. You’ve rarely left your home. You must not be used to it. Why don’t you stay? I’m fine going home by myself.”
YiHan turned to look at JingYuan. The man was as thin as a rake.
“It’s fine,” said YiHan, heart aching at the sight of his love. “I can’t stay there forever. I also can’t help but worry if you’re alone.”
JingYuan sighed. His fingers twitched as the urge to grab YiHan’s hand rose again, but his hands remained where they were. The journey to the Mu family home was spent in silence. The mansion was huge and very empty. Only a few servants were occupying the place. They kept the mansion clean. The entire place felt rather desolate.
JingYuan led YiHan to a room. “You’ll stay here for now,” he warmly said. “I’ve made a call last night. Everything in this room has been changed and refreshed according to your preference. What do you think? I’ll be staying next door. If you need anything, just call for me. You know Aunt Liu, the cook. If there’s anything you wish to eat, let her know. You’ve visited this place before. You should still remember where everything is. You must be tired, right? You didn’t sleep well last night and you woke up early this morning just to pack. You can take a nap first.”
YiHan didn’t step through the door JingYuan was holding open. The man turned around to look at the sickly man and asked, “Aren’t we sleeping together?”
JingYuan lifted a hand to ruffle YiHan’s hair and said, “How many times do I have to tell you? It’d be easier for me to pass this cold to you if we sleep together. Anyway, I’m always coughing at night. I’d be disturbing you. If you’re here alone, you can have a good night’s sleep. I’ve also had the servants work overnight to install a bell by your bed. It’s connected to my room. If there’s anything you need, use it to call for me.”
“Did you bring me here for a vacation?” YiHan asked. “What’s the difference between me staying home and staying here then?”
“HanHan,” JingYuan sighed, “listen to me. You look pale and you’ve grown thinner. You need proper rest.”
“I’m not a child!” YiHan huffed in frustration. “Listen? My face is pale because your fever just won’t go away. I’m worried! I’ll be fine once you are! If you sleep by yourself, who’d hand you water when you have a coughing fit?”
“It’s just a cup of water,” JingYuan calmly replied. “I can get it myself.”
“You can do anything by yourself, so what do you need me for?” YiHan questioned.
“I just can’t bear to see you suffer,” said JingYuan.
“And I can’t bear to see you sick,” YiHan said, pushing the man away from the room. “While you’re not bothered by coughing fits, hurry up and take a nap in your room. You didn’t sleep at all last night.”
JingYuan was shoved into his own room. Upon noticing the two’s entrance, Chen Hong swiftly finished packing away his boss’s belongings and stealthily left the room.
YiHan pushed JingYuan to sit on on the bed. He turned to search for a set of the older man’s sleepwear. He then brought the clothes back to JingYuan, intent on helping the sick man change into them.
JingYuan laid a hand over YiHan’s to stop the other’s movements. “I can change by myself. Go take a nap in your room.”
“I won’t. I’ll sleep here,” YiHan sulkily said. Having said that, he raised his hands once more to unbutton the other’s shirt.
JingYuan laid his hands over YiHan’s once more and sighed, “Behave, HanHan. Go on. I can change my clothes by myself.”
“There’s not a spot on you that I haven’t seen before,” YiHan pouted. “What’s there to be embarrassed about? Hurry up and get changed so you can sleep!”
YiHan then changed JingYuan out of his clothes and into his sleepwear. His actions brooked no arguments. YiHan didn’t spend an extra moment looking at the other’s body and his hands did their best to keep away from JingYuan’s skin. The change was swift.
“Now, sleep,” YiHan exhaled. “I’ll be playing with my phone on the couch.”
JingYuan reached out with a skinny arm and grabbed YiHan by the wrist. He had tried to hold the urge back but he failed.
“HanHan,” JingYuan blurted, “I don’t get it. Just what went wrong between the two of us? Why are we like this now? Can you tell me? If I did something to upset you, tell me. If you…you…If you’re regretting this, I…”
YiHan had been suppressing his emotions for a while now. The stress and JingYuan’s words made him burst out, “Can you stop thinking about all this rubbish all the time? How many times have I told you? It’s fine! I’m fine!”
JingYuan bitterly smiled. He’d already spoken up about it. Might as well just get to the core of the issue.
“Rubbish?” JingYuan softly said. “It’s been over a month. Your rejection of me is written all over your face. You wouldn’t be intimate with me. In this entire month, we’ve only done it once. You even… Every time I asked you, you said you’re fine. However, I can feel that you’re unhappy. You wouldn’t tell me anything though. We slowly drifted apart. Now, I’d have to think and hesitate for a long time before I even touch you. Before your family, we can maintain the facade. But once we’re in our room, you’d rarely even talk to me. Did you know, HanHan? I’ve thought about this for a long time. I wanted to much to force an answer out of you no matter the consequences. But I’m scared. I’m scared once I ask, we can’t even have this peaceful appearance. Until now, I’ve yet to muster the courage to even mention marriage again. We can’t keep going on like this. We can’t live out the rest of our lives distant from each other. HanHan, do you still want to live out the rest of your life with me?”
YiHan smacked himself hard on the head as he seethed, “JingYuan, you’re sick. Sick people love to think about all sorts of nonsense. Take a nap. Sleep well and recover soon. We can talk about this once you’re all healed up, okay?”
JingYuan raised his voice. “Why are you always avoiding my question? You bought a place behind my back. What is your plan? HanHan, just what are you thinking? Must you torture me so? HanHan, do you still…love me?”
JingYuan’s continued questioning made YiHan’s will to suppress his anger crumble. “How dare you ask me! What about you? Do you have to courage to say you truly love me? I know you did a lot for me. I’m very grateful but I don’t want that kind of sacrifice anymore! I’m tired too!”
JingYuan was stunned. His grip around YiHan’s hand loosened. YiHan immediately tugged his wrist out of the other man’s hand, hard. JingYuan looked down at his empty palm.
“Just what do you mean?” JingYuan hoarsely shouted. “Why would you doubt my feelings for you? I love you! There’s no question about it. I can say that to you regardless of the time!”
YiHan had been beating himself up over letting his emotions overwhelm him to the point of letting his mouth slip. Upon hearing JingYuan talk back, YiHan decided to just let it all out.
“JingYuan,” YiHan said, “we’re already at this point. You don’t need to keep acting. I know you’re doing this for me but I’m fine now. I don’t need you, the ‘cure’, to save me!”
JingYuan shot to his feet. The sudden movement had his head spinning but he couldn’t be bothered to worry about it. Ignoring the dark spots blooming in his vision, he hurriedly stepped forward to YiHan.
“What are you babbling about?” yelped JingYuan.
“Babbling?” YiHan asked. “Mu JingYuan, do you have the guts to say everything we have right now isn’t all a lie? Of course, you all lied to me out of the kindness in your hearts. You want to save me, yeah? You’ve made a great ‘sacrifice’ in order to save me. You gave up on your engagement with my sister. You had to held in your disgust as you dated a man. You even had to act all lovey-dovey with me. You’ve gone to the extremes just for me. I know you’re good to me, but this ‘sacrifice’ is too much. It’s too heavy. It’s not something I can bear. Heh. You moan about how I won’t do it with you. Actually, what’s there for me to care about? I’ve done it with you plenty of times. What’s there to be prudish about? In our relationship, I am the one who has the upper hand. I am the one who has gained the most. I am being considerate here. I’m decreasing the burden so you don’t have to ‘sacrifice’ so much!”
JingYuan’s breaths were coming out in harsh pants now. His eyes were open wide as he roared, “Where did you hear all that? Who told you?”