181. Not a Bad Start
YiHan recalled Yan’s previous words to He Yuan, “his lover is willing to work on his behalf”. He turned to YouRan and asked, a sneaky little grin plastered over his face, “I haven’t asked yet. What’s going on between you two? Things developed quickly.”
“It’s nothing,” YouRan replied with an awkward smile. “Yan only said that to He Yuan to protect me.”
“No!” Yan exclaimed.
YouRan turned to Yan. His eyes gleamed.
Yan cleared his throat. A bright red flush took over his fair face. “I’m currently trying to get you to be my boyfriend,” he said. “Once you say yes, we’ll be lovers, right? I wasn’t wrong. I merely said it a little too early.”
YouRan’s bright eyes widened. His jaw dropped, leaving his mouth slightly agape.
YiHan blinked. He took JingYuan by the hand and quietly backed out of the apartment.
After gently closing the door behind them, YiHan let out a long exhale. The two men returned to YouRan’s apartment and sat down on the sofa.
“Those two are so interesting,” YiHan said with a smirk. “I told you, Yan is usually as boring as a plank of wood but when he’s with Nan Shan, he’s so very lively. He’s so emotive that it’s like he’s a completely different person. I thought it was the effect of being with his idol. Now, I know it’s the power of love.”
“By the time you realise it, they’re already close to marriage,” JingYuan said, smiling. “Their love didn’t blossom overnight. Even Pei-Pei could tell. It’s not just Yan either. Nan Shan’s different when it comes to Yan. It’s only you who hasn’t noticed.”
YiHan’s eyes flicked over to the apartment door. “Really?” he gasped. “That’s good news. Yan might be boring but he’s quite dependable.”
“Even if he’s boring, he’s only like that when he’s with other people,” JingYuan tacked on. “When it comes to Nan Shan, he’s really an interesting guy.” As JingYuan said so, he took out his phone. He called Chen Hong and asked him to hire some workers to repair YouRan’s front door. When he was done, he turned back to YiHan. “It’s our fault for allowing He Yuan to slip in here. However, after today’s shock, he shouldn’t have the guts to bother Nan Shan anymore. But we can’t really keep this a secret from Yan Miao forever. After all, she is the daughter of the old Mr Yan. She is Yan and Pei’s aunt. Since they know, they can’t just let her be lied to for her whole life. We still have a tough battle ahead of us. It’s terrifying when a woman, who had smoothly sailed through life for decades, go mad. She wouldn’t have the mind to logical weigh the pros and cons of her actions.”
“But from what I’ve seen from Yan and Pei, they’re not that close to their aunt,” said YiHan.
“Relationships and feelings are two-way streets,” JingYuan said. His fingers fiddled around with YiHan’s. “Yan Miao had never thought much of her nephews and niece anyway. When they were kids, she’d frequently bully them. After her wedding, she was further estranged from them. However, since they’re family, we’ll just let her make the decision herself.”
YiHan frowned. “I’m guessing her decision wouldn’t be what we hope it’d be.”
JingYuan smoothed out the crease on YiHan’s brows and softly said, “You don’t need to worry about this. Leave it to me.”
YiHan reached out and embraced JingYuan. He didn’t say a word. JingYuan pecked YiHan on the cheek as his hands slowly patted the other man on the back. The two men didn’t speak anymore but warmth lingered in the air.”
The next day, the little chat group was very active.
[Pei the Third: Aaah! Something major happened and none of you called for me! Why? Is Nan Shan okay?]
[Yan Yan: He’s fine. He’s in a good mood.]
[Mu-Mu’s HanHan: With you around, of course he’s in a good mood.]
[Mu-Mu’s HanHan: Was your confession yesterday a success?]
[Yan Yan: Mn.]
[Pei the Third: Whoa! Be honest with me! Just how did you win over our Nan Shan?]
[Yan Yan: …]
[Pei the Third: If you’re a man, quit stammering! If you don’t tell me, I’ll just ask Nan Shan. I’ll badmouth you! I’ll talk about that guy named Li or something and how he stubbornly chased after you. He even forced a kiss on you!]
[Yan Yan: That’s a lie. I kicked him away before he could even kiss me!]
[Pei the Third: I don’t care if he did or didn’t. Either way, I’ll say he kissed you.]
[Pei the Third: I’ll even mention how you keep letting rice slip out of your mouth during meals when you were a kid!]
[Yan Yan: Σ(°△°|||)︴Are you even my sister?]
[Pei the Third: Be honest and we’ll still be siblings.]
[Yan Yan: …alright. H-He assumed we had sex before and he was the top…]
[Mu-Mu’s HanHan: …]
[Pei the Third: Pfft…]
[Mu-Mu’s HanHan: You guys… When did that happen?]
[Yan Yan: On the night of your engagement party.]
[Pei the Third: You really had sex and you were the bottom? Σ(°△°|||)︴]
[Yan Yan: No. He had a little too much to drink and puked all over me. I accidentally strained a muscle on my leg when I cleaned up after him. The next day, I couldn’t walk normally so he thought…]
[Pei the Third: So he thought he had sex with you?]
[Yan Yan: Yes. He said that from then on, he…]
[Pei the Third: He fell in love with you? Damn, that actually works?]
[Mu-Mu’s HanHan: Haha. That’s nice.]
[Yan Yan: I think I have a long path ahead of me still, but this is not a bad start.]
[Pei the Third: Brother, don’t be careless and charge! No retreats!]
[Yan Yan: Mn.]
[Mu-Mu’s HanHan: Right, Pei-Pei. How are things going with your mission?]
[Pei the Third: I was just about to tell you about it. It seems to be going well. I’ve told my grandfather about Nan Shan’s story. Of course, I changed the names. He was so mad. He said that there are so many rotten minds these days. They’re not loyal to their marriages nor are they loyal to love. There’s no end to their greed. They’re just trash.]
[Mu-Mu’s HanHan: The old man’s right. Oh, yes. I’ll be visiting him tomorrow.]
[Pei the Third: That’s great. I’ll tell him later. He’ll be so happy. Now that he’s old, he really likes a lively atmosphere.]
The Yan family home.
The old Mr Yan and YiHan waged war over the Go board. Both men won some rounds and lost some. Mr Yan’s eyes shone bright. His body was tense as his eyes bore into the board. Someone ignorant might’ve thought it was a match of wits between two international champions. These were just two bad amateurs playing a game of Gomoku.
Minutes passed as the old Mr Yan thought hard. Then, his eyes lit up. With the addition of another white piece, the old Mr Yan now had two unblocked lines of three pieces. YiHan glanced around the board before throwing the black piece in his hand back to its bowl.
“I’ve lost,” YiHan said with a smile.
“You’re quite good already, Little YiHan,” laughed the old Mr Yan. “I practised hard. You’re probably so busy with JingYuan that you had no time to practise, right?”
YiHan blushed. “I, ahem, well, why don’t you try some of the tea I brought you today? I also gave one canister to my grandfather. He said it’s not bad.”
“Haha. Okay, I’ll try some.” The old Mr Yan’s smile was so wide that his eyes squinted.
YiHan had a servant bring out the tea set so he could personally prepare the tea for Mr Yan. The canister’s cap had just been popped off when the old Mr Yan smiled.
“Junshan Yinzhen leaves,” said Mr Yan. “Not bad.”
YiHan smiled as he prepared the tea. He rinsed, he poured, he served; all without a moment of hesitation or thought. His movements were as smooth as a flowing river. It was a pleasant sight to behold.
The old Mr Yan watched as the tea leaves sank and floated repeatedly. “Hm, not bad,” he commented. “You’ve done it quite properly.”
“Sometimes, I’d prepare tea for my grandfather,” YiHan said, embarrassed.
“Your grandfather’s lucky,” the old Mr Yan said as he accepted the teacup.
Mr Yan inhaled in the tea’s aroma and sighed, “Its fragrance is so distinct. It’s good.”
“As long as it’s to your liking,” said YiHan.
The old Mr Yan took a sip of the tea. “I hear you and that Mu family brat already have your marriage certificates.”
“You two are in quite a rush,” the old Mr Yan said. There was the slightest hint of a smirk on his lips.
YiHan scratched his nose. “Yes. It’ll be him anyway. It doesn’t make a difference when we register. Please don’t laugh but, before we were registered, I was honestly anxious. I was always afraid something might happen. My nerves only calmed down after we had our certificates.”
The old Mr Yan patted YiHan on the hand. “Well, it is a consensual relationship between you two. Your family is in support of your relationship too. What could’ve happened? I understand. You’re only thinking about all that nonsense because you’re deeply in love with him. Thank goodness, that boy is true to you. Otherwise, I’m afraid you’d suffer.”
“I won’t,” YiHan solemnly said. “He really cares for me.”
“Look at you,” the old Mr Yan chuckled. “You’re so eager to defend him. I know. You’re an adult now and you’re a sensible young man. You understand it all. You’ve also heard a lot about this from your elders. Still, one is always inclined to nag a little more when one is old.”
“Go on,” YiHan said with a nod.
The old Mr Yan smiled at YiHan. “Marriage isn’t just about feelings. There’s also responsibility. You and Mu JingYuan have now formed a new household, so you must bear the responsibility of being family. You must both be tolerant, understanding and, of course, loyal. Loyalty is a necessity in marriage. But I don’t need to tell you this. Everyone could see just much you two love each other.
“Love is like a clap. It needs two hands. You love him. Don’t be preoccupied with being embarrassed. It must be spoken aloud, within reason. Only then can life grow sweeter. Also, when life grinds at you two, don’t ever bottle up how upset you feel. Such restraint, such secretive compromise, would only turn into a threat to your marriage. If you’re angry, argue. Both of you, open up and fight about it. Once the fight is done, leave it in the past. Furthermore, you must both be honest. You must know that a lie requires a hundred more lies to perfect it. There aren’t many secrets that can be kept secret for life. The truth would be exposed sooner or later. It’s absolutely not practical.”
YiHan nodded. “Yes, Grandpa Yan. I’ll remember. Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.”
“Of course,” said the old Mr Yan. “Our Little YiHan deserves the best. The Mu brat isn’t bad. He’s mature, reserved. He’s good to you too. You’ve grown up together, loving each other. You know each other well.”
“Yesterday,” continued the old Mr Yan, “Pei-Pei visited me. She told me a real-life story. She said there was a gay man who married the daughter of a powerful family for the sake of his company’s future. Truthfully, there are a lot of people who still don’t accept same-sex marriage. Many homosexuals marry someone of the other gender, because of family or other reasons they are helpless against. There’s nothing society can do about it. However, this man dared to have an affair. Let’s step out of the situation. Even if it’s a love affair, at least find a consenting party. That man actually lied and said he was single. He swindled the other man out of his love. This is absolutely unforgivable. No one can truly know how low a man like this can go. I was so furious just listening to the story.”
Tea leaves sank and floated: This is something that only happens with silver needle tea, specifically Junshan Yinzhen tea. The tea leaves are hollow as they’re actually tubes for nutrition, water etc and not just plain leaves. Hence, they would float. However, as the leaves brewed, water is slowly introduced into the leaves, causing them to sink to the bottom. But then, even at the bottom, there are still air bubbles trapped inside the leaves. These bubbles would be slowly pushed out, meaning the tea leaves would drift to the top of the water once more. The higher the quality, the longer this phenomenon would last. This cycle would repeat itself for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Nothing society can do about it: Reminder that this is an old story and a line spoken by an old man. Society can do something about it, but there are limits as to how fast things can progress. Furthermore, antipathy is considered a mild form of prejudice. Be careful of how sentiments like these are conveyed, especially in public.