YiHan’s eyes lit up as he smiled and said, “That’s a good idea. If your grandfather takes a liking to Nan Shan’s books, he’ll have a good first impression of the man. Then, he wouldn’t be as easily swayed by He Yuan’s lies.”
“That’s what I thought!” Pei said with a smirk. “How dare he cheat on my aunt and Nan Shan. He’ll see just what I can do to him!”
“And we’ll teach him that it’s his mistake, he pays the price for it!” YiHan added.
“Yeah!” said Pei. “Okay, I’ll head back now and get my brother in on this. The earlier it’s done, the better!”
“That’s a good idea,” said YiHan. “Oh, how did you arrive? You don’t have a driving license yet, right?”
“My eldest brother drove me here,” said Pei. “He’s gone to chat with Mr Mu. They’re actually quite close friends. What a surprise, right? I only knew yesterday. They usually don’t talk.”
YiHan was truly surprised. He didn’t know they were good friends at all.
“There’s a kind of friendship in this world that don’t seem close,” she said with a smile. “They rarely go out for meals or drinks together, and certainly don’t contact each other every single day. However, if one of them is in trouble, the other would instantly appear and help them.”
“You’re right,” YiHan said, his head tilted in contemplation. “Looks like they’re that kind of friends. Okay, then. Let’s walk back to the office together and have your brother send you home.”
Pei nodded in agreement and the two walked back to the office building. They headed straight up to JingYuan’s office using the man’s personal elevator. When they were at the doors to JingYuan’s office, YiHan’s hand raised out of habit to push the door open. Then, he remembered there was currently another man in JingYuan’s office. It’d be rude to just push the door open. He let go of the door’s handle and raised his hand to knock on the door, which had been pushed open a crack. Then, he heard a voice speak up from within the room.
“The ploy was useful, right?” said Yan Hui. “Well? Did pretending to be sick work well for you?”
Pei panicked. She was about to barge into the room when YiHan stopped her with a raised arm. The smile on his face had vanished. He silently stood there at the door with a blank, expressionless face.
Pei didn’t dare say a word. She was worried to the point of pulling at her own hair but the men in the office noticed it not.
“It’s not bad,” JingYuan’s voice calmly replied.
“No need to act all proper in front of me,” Hui chuckled. “You must be ecstatic. You were so disdainful when I mentioned it to you. I used this same tactic to get Zhang Su to date me.”
“Not doing to call him uncle this time?” JingYuan asked.
“Don’t make fun of me,” Hui said. “The character for ‘uncle’ is a homonym of ‘Su’. Uncle is just a nickname I use when I’m trying to act cute. I don’t use it all the time. It’d become ineffective then.”
“Act cute?” JingYuan solemnly asked. “How do you do that? Is it useful?”
“You can’t use it all the time or he’ll think you’re a little girl,” Hui said, “but it’s very effective if you do it occasionally. Just like the ploy you used, pretending to be sick, you can’t do that often. Either way, Zhang Su always falls for it when I act cute.”
“There were a few times when he nearly found out it’s a ruse,” JingYuan said. “I was so very nervous.”
“You were only anxious because it’s your first time and you went slightly overboard,” said Hui. “You’re way too harsh on yourself. I’ve told you, 30% ill and 70% pretence. You just went and got thoroughly sick. You even gave yourself pneumonia. Look at how thin you are. You still haven’t recovered.”
“I was afraid of exposing myself if I just pretend to be sick,” said JingYuan. “He was also extremely worried about me. We had gone to the hospital a few times. What can I do but actually fall sick?”
“I’m impressed. That is a perfect plan,” Hui said. “You’re quite a capable man. How did you do it? You took the pills. You had injections. With how strong your body is, how did you drag it out for so long? How did you make yourself remain sick? You even had another trick up your sleeves. You developed pneumonia out of nowhere. You’re quite the professional.”
“You taught me how to do it,” JingYuan said. “While he’s out, go for a cold shower and stepped out into the cold air. Thankfully, the weather’s been getting colder. I don’t need to turn on the air conditioner. I’ve saved some time and I wouldn’t be easily discovered because of the change in the room’s temperature. Then, when it came time to take my medication, I’ll stick the pills under my tongue and wait for a chance to spit them out. However, the pneumonia wasn’t a trick up in my sleeves. I was merely lost in my own thoughts. I didn’t realise I’d been sitting on the floor for a little too long.”
Hui burst out laughing. “How have I never realized you were so talented, JingYuan? I never taught you to keep the pills in your mouth. What will happen if you have no chance to spit them out?”
“Yes, there were a few times when I didn’t have a chance to spit them out until after the pills have all dissolved,” said JingYuan. “Thankfully, HanHan wasn’t willing to be intimate with me back then or he’d have realized something was wrong with the bitter scent of my mouth.”
“If he was willing to be intimate with you, you wouldn’t have used such a trick. You really were in a tough situation,” said Hui.
“It’s actually alright,” said JingYuan. “I was panicking a little. A little investigation revealed to me he was secretly looking for a place for himself. My heart went cold. If I wasn’t sick, who knows what would’ve happened to us now?”
The smile on Hui’s face slipped away as he solemnly replied, “I know you don’t like hearing this but, before this, I really didn’t think you two would go far. He’s a carefree, inconsiderate young master. I always thought that there’d be a day when he’d hurt you to the point where I wouldn’t be able to see an inch of untouched skin on you.”
“He wouldn’t,” JingYuan retorted. “He loves me too. When I was sick, he took great care of me. He’s gotten so much thinner. I…”
“If he takes care of you, your heart will ache for him,” said Hui. “If he ignores you, your heart will go cold again. Honestly, I never thought he’d change so much so suddenly. It’s like he’s a completely different person from who he was before. He’s considerate now. He would be concerned for other people. If not because of that, I would never have given you ideas on how to make him stay. After all, it’s better to rip off the band-aid than to let the agony go on. It’d be good for you to break up. Still, I must admire your ability to sense danger. You found out about it before he showed any signs at all and you immediately set up a ploy for him. Haha.”
“Could you not feel it when Zhang Su’s mood changes?” JingYuan asked.
“Of course, I could! He just needs to open his mouth and I’ll know if he wants a kiss or food!” replied Hui.
“And that’s the answer,” JingYuan said. “Hui, if HanHan hadn’t changed, what would you have done? Would you have tried to break us up?”
“Do you think I’m a fool?” Hui asked. “Break you up? You’re not a kid. It’s your choice on who you want to love. Emotions and feelings are like drinking water. You know when it’s cold and when it’s hot. I don’t think you’ll go far so I’ll just be watching. I’ll never lend a helping hand and I’ll never say anything. It’ll be as if I didn’t exist. You two are free to torture each other however you like. Remember his kidnapping? I didn’t help you at all. In hindsight though, I kind of regret it and am rather scared of what could’ve happened. Thank goodness, my grandfather helped out.”
“There’s no need for your help! I could’ve saved him myself!” JingYuan huffed and harrumphed.
“I just know mentioning this matter would’ve made you angry,” said Hui. “The difference between now and then is I didn’t like him back then. My opinion of him has changed. I promise you. If anything ever happens to your lover again, I swear I will be the first to help. How about that?”
“He is my future husband. When it comes to him, it’s naturally my job to worry. I’ll consider you when it’s something I can’t resolve,” said JingYuan.
“Hey! Am I even forcing you to take the offer?” Hui cried. “It was a sincere offer but you don’t care for it at all. Fine. Just why must you hold a grudge? I even gave you a great idea that successfully saved your relationship, didn’t I? The record’s even now, right?”
“If you want to even the records, there’s something I need you for,” said JingYuan.
“Just let me know!” Hui generously declared.
“HanHan and I don’t know what to do with you yet. Just wait and listen to our instructions,” said JingYuan.
“Why so mysterious?” Hui curiously asked.
“It concerns your aunt and her husband,” said JingYuan. “If you find yourself put in a tough spot, you can choose to help neither parties. Either way, I won’t make you hurt your own family members.”
“I know that. Of course, I do,” said Hui. “I’m just curious. What can it be to make you act so mysteriously? I might be someone who values my family and friends more than logic but I’m not that close to my aunt. Tell me. Have they done anything to you?”
“Not really,” said JingYuan. “They’re merely bullying someone who is connected to me. I can’t tell you too much just yet. Don’t say anything when you get home. You’ll know once it’s time.”
“You plan on making a move? Hm,” said Hui. “Don’t worry about me. The only tie I have with my aunt is through our blood. We’re not close and we only ever see each other a few times a year. Even when we do see each other, I only ever see the bottom of her chin. When I was a kid, she’d snatch things from me.” Hui shrugged. “Sometimes, I forget I even have an aunt.”
“Relax,” said JingYuan. “I never worried about you before.”
“There’s no need to be so frank, JingYuan. Say, just what is Pei-Pei talking to your lover about? Why aren’t they done yet? Should we give them a call?” asked Hui.
Then, an eerie voice sounded from beyond the office doors, “We’re done.”
Shocked, Hui turned around to find the office doors wide open. Bai YiHan was standing there with a dark and gloomy face. Behind him was his sister who was panickily gesturing to him in a way he did not understand.
JingYuan froze. He forced a smile on his face and asked, “HanHan, when did you get back?”
“When Mr Yan here mentioned a ‘ploy’,” YiHan said in an ominous tone. “My apologies. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but what you were discussing was just too interesting. I didn’t have the heart to interrupt you.”
JingYuan’s face went pale. Hui could feel a bead of sweat roll down his forehead.
“I, erm,” said Hui with a dry smile as he strode towards the door, “please don’t misunderstand anything, Little Master. We were only joking. Ah, Pei-Pei and I have something to attend to. We’ll just go.”
“Goodbye, Mr Yan,” YiHan said with a “polite” smile.
Hui could feel chills running down his spine. He threw a “bye” at the other two men and flew out of sight with his sister in tow.
YiHan slowly turned and closed the doors to the office. Clack. The doors were locked. He then turned back to JingYuan and “politely” smiled at JingYuan.
“JingYuan,” calmly said YiHan, “do you not plan on saying anything?”
The other man stood up and steadily walked over to YiHan. “You heard it all,” he said in a deep voice. “I…”
“You think you did quite well. You felt so satisfied with yourself, right?” YiHan was still smiling.
“That’s not what I meant, HanHan,” JingYuan hurriedly blurted. “I didn’t intend on lying to you. I was just afraid you’d leave me so I just used any idea thrown at me.”
As JingYuan said so, he reached out a hand to grab YiHan’s hand but the younger man dodged his touch. He pursed his lips. They were as pale as can be.