199. The Old Mr Yan’s Heart Goes Cold
“What should we do then?” Yan Cheng asked with a bitter smile. “I saw how Mu JingYuan responded. He doesn’t look like he’ll just let it go. Bai YiHan is his only soft spot. The man is upset if anyone even looks at YiHan longer than they should. After they’ve formalised their relationship, his possessive nature had only grown worse. Miao-Miao’s sentence might’ve only been half-finished but even I could think of what she was going to say next, let alone Mu JingYuan. I saw the man’s face go dark, so dark that it was like a thundercloud about to release its load. I can tell that he was truly furious.”
The old Mr Yan closed his eyes. “Keep talking.”
“There’s also Bai Yan,” said Yan Cheng. “I didn’t even realise when he had walked over. Rumours have been spreading lately of how Bai Yan also has a same-sex lover. He just hasn’t announced it yet. Last night, the two came together. It looks like they plan on publicising their relationship. Miao-Miao, ah, she only looks at the surface when it comes to judging other people. The moment she sees someone she doesn’t know, she stops being polite. She didn’t spare a moment to think about how anyone who’d be brought to the banquet by Bai Yan himself and stand shoulder-to-shoulder to that man could never be a simple person. Bai Yan’s face was already as dark as the bottom of a wok. I don’t know if it’s spurred on by her words but, right then and there, the man stated he would be marrying Jiang Hua. Oh, Jiang Hua is the lover.”
The old Mr Yan burst out laughing from rage. “Your sister is quite talented at pissing off other people. She specifically aims for their soft spots. Bai Yan might be young but he’s not bad at holding his temper. She actually could push him to the point where he’ll speak without filtering himself.”
“Actually,” Yan Cheng said after a pause for thought, “I think he might not be speaking without care. It seems to me that he’s serious. I observed their interactions with each other later on. They seem to be very close.”
“If they’re close, then their relationship is even more untouchable,” said the old Mr Yan. “Your sister’s words have offended everyone she cannot afford to offend. That is a skill. Does she not have any brains? All these years I’ve spent teaching her have all gone to waste. At least, Bai XueQing wasn’t there. Even if Mu JingYuan and Bai Yan were truly furious, they would still hold back a little out of respect for our family. If Bai XueQing heard your sister’s words, the best-case scenario is that she’ll beat your sister up in public. How could we end the night peacefully then? Even if the girl didn’t hear about it last night, she would know by today. Once she flies into a rage, how can Chen TianYang just stand aside?”
“Yes,” Cheng sighed. “I’ve thought about it too. By now, the situation in the Bai family home must be explosive. Not only did Miao-Miao’s one sentence insult Bai YiHan, but she also insulted the entire Bai family and the close friendship between the Bai and Mu families. Bai FuRen must be itching to act. Perhaps even the old Mr Bai knows about it. Aah! Miao-Miao is really bold.”
“What do you think about this?” asked the old Mr Yan.
Cheng cautiously glanced at his elderly father. He gritted his teeth in thought. “Actually, I think Miao-Miao…” he finally spoke. “I think her personality needs to experience life. She has spent the first half of her life without care or worry. She doesn’t hold back in her actions or words. She has offended everyone possible. She’s still young. Who would protect her once we’re both old and decrepit? He Yuan? We’ve seen through that man. He’s not reliable. When troubles arise, he hides away faster than anyone else would. Miao-Miao is the only one who thinks he’s a good man.”
Cheng spent a moment observing his father’s face. When the old Mr Yan showed no signs of anger, Cheng continued, “This time, the two men might be angry, but they didn’t flip out on the spot. This means they still care for the Yan family. Even if they were to target Miao-Miao, they wouldn’t go overboard. Why don’t we…not make a move first? It’s also good for Miao-Miao to learn a lesson. Miao-Miao was the one who started this. If we don’t make a move, that is a display of our stance in this. The Bai and Mu families would be even more lenient then. Once the time is right, I’ll humbly plead on her behalf. The Bai and Mu families’ anger would’ve simmered down then.”
Cheng glanced at the old Mr Yan once more. “I’m afraid Miao-Miao would be…furious.”
The old Mr Yan’s eyes opened as he darkly said, “We have come to the same conclusion. We don’t need you to go pleading just yet. Let’s see what happens first. YiHan is a good kid. He’s nice to an old coot like me. He visits me often and plays chess with me. This matter involved him after all. A word from him is more useful than a word from anyone else. When the time is right, I’ll test the waters and see what he thinks about this. From my understanding, he, the person mainly involved in this, isn’t as angry as Mu JingYuan. Once your sister suffers a little, I’ll talk to Little YiHan on her behalf. This matter would be over then. You’re right. In the end, it is the Yan family who is at fault.”
“You don’t need to be so cautious,” the old Mr Yan said with a smile and a sigh. “I’ve been thinking a lot lately about your sister. Ah-Cheng, we were wrong. Our first mistake is in spoiling her rotten to the point where she thinks the world revolves around her. You’re right. We’re both old men. Once we’re gone, with her personality… Ah…! I refused to let her marry He Yuan at the start but she insisted it must be him. She even went on a hunger strike. Our hearts softened and we said yes. That is our second mistake. I just don’t know what her life would be like without our protection. What’s hilarious is that she doesn’t even think about the future. She still thinks everyone envies her.”
“Father, don’t worry,” said Cheng. “I’ll tell my two sons to take good care of their aunt.”
“You don’t need to pacify me with that,” the old Mr Yan said. The anger was so great that he almost laughed at what he heard. “Do you think I don’t know what Hui and Yan think of Miao-Miao? It’s not their fault either. When has Miao-Miao ever acted like an aunt? She wants the respect of an elder but she doesn’t act like one. In other families, the elders compromise and give in to the younger generation. It is only our family where it’s the opposite. Ah, it’s my fault as well. When I was in charge, I doted on her too much. I kept thinking she was still young. By the time I wish to intervene, I am already powerless. Once she turned into an adult, she became very opinionated. She would pay no heed to my advice. I’m afraid she doesn’t think of me as a father anymore. Heh. All these years of love cannot compare to the slick tongue of He Yuan. That’s why my heart has gone cold through the years.”
“Miao-Miao has a somewhat cold and calculative personality,” Cheng hesitantly stated.
“Somewhat?” the old Mr Yan said, giving his son the side-eye. “She is extremely cold and calculative! The past few years have shown me everything. I’m rather disappointed. Nevertheless, she is still my daughter. As the saying goes, there are only ever cruel children, never cruel parents. No matter what, I have to take charge of her. However, her personality, as you’ve said, requires some training. She won’t listen to our advice, so she has to be taught a lesson. Only then will she remember this. At least, we’re still around for this. She won’t suffer too much. If she doesn’t change, by the time we’re gone… Hmph!”
When Cheng heard the phrase “cruel children”, his heart ached as he comfortingly stroked the older man on the chest. “You’re right, Father,” Cheng sighed. “But Miao-Miao would likely hate us for this.”
“Let her,” the old Mr Yan sighed, closing his eyes once more. “One day, she’ll understand. As she is now, we can do nothing even if she hates us to hell and back.”
Cheng nodded in agreement.
A few moments passed by. Then, the old Mr Yan’s eyes opened into slits. “Ah-Cheng, you’re getting older. As your father, I can’t comment too much on your relationship with your wife but I have some advice for you today.”
“Tell me,” Cheng solemnly said.
The old Mr Yan was satisfied with his son’s attitude. His eldest son was the most filial of his children and the one who took his words to heart the most. Hence, he was willing to speak more than usual.
“Ah-Cheng,” said the old Mr Yan, “I know you want a peaceful household but a family’s harmony cannot be accomplished through making your own wife suffer. Understand?”
Cheng felt his face go warm as he nodded and replied, “I’ll remember it, Father.”
The old Mr Yan nodded and continued, “You did very well yesterday. Your wife even said you were too harsh. I think you were too lenient. Hmph. Look at your sister. She’s always going around with her chin held up high and talking about how this or that is embarrassing. Look at yesterday. She might’ve deserved it but He Yuan is her man. Did he say anything then? Hmph. A man who can’t even protect his own wife is the true humiliation.”
Cheng who was similarly labelled as a “humiliation” couldn’t help nodding. “You’re right, Father. He didn’t say a single thing then. However, he finally comprehended what I was signalling to him and led Miao-Miao away.”
“He was itching to leave early,” said the old Mr Yan. “He’s even more calculative than we could be. Your sister only judge people by their looks! This man is nothing but a toy yet she cherishes him so! She even fought with me over him! Hmph!”
“Don’t be angry,” Cheng hurriedly comforted. “Miao-Miao will understand all that you’ve done for her.”
“Her?” the old Mr Yan huffed. “Tough chance!”
Kong Wen appeared from the kitchen with a cup of warm milk in hand. When she saw that the old Mr Yan’s face was looking better than before, albeit still unhappy, she let out a soft sigh of relief.
“Father,” she said with a smile, “come have some milk.”
“Did you add sugar to it?” Cheng asked, looking up.
Wen froze. “N-No,” she guiltily answered.
Cheng knew something was wrong from her reaction. “I know it’s because you love Father,” he sighed, “but he’s getting on in age. He can’t have too much sugar. It’s bad for his body.”
Wen let out an awkward chuckle and insisted, “I really didn’t put in much. Just a little. Milk doesn’t taste nice if there’s no sugar.”
“Let me taste it first,” Cheng said.
All Wen could do was walk forward to her husband. Cheng was about to take the cup of milk from her when the old Mr Yan swiftly snatched the cup out of his daughter-in-law’s hands.
“You’re an adult now,” the old Mr Yan said. “This is milk your wife warmed up for me. You, taste it? So rude!”
The old Mr Yan chugged the cup of milk and continued, a ring of milk around his lips, “If you want some, go warm another cup for yourself. Do you think we can’t afford to give you milk? Really.”
He then walked around his son to hand the cup back to Wen. “Bring it back to the kitchen to be washed. Milk is hard to wash once it’s dried up.”
Wen hurriedly accepted the cup. As she walked back to the kitchen, she shot a guilty glance at her husband.
Yan Cheng: …Do I look like I want to drink milk? You two are acting way too obvious, okay? Fine. Whatever. Wen would be careful anyway. She wouldn’t add too much sugar. It’s fine for him to have some sweetened milk occasionally.
Defeated, Cheng grabbed a napkin to wipe the milk moustache off of his father’s face. His feelings were conflicted as he replied, “Fine. As long as you’re careful, Father. It’s not that I must be the bad guy here. I’m just worried about your health.”
“I know of your love,” the old Mr Yan said with an awkward cough. “The cup of milk just now really wasn’t sweet. If you don’t believe me, you can try some for yourself.”
Yan Cheng: You’ve already finished everything… There’s no proof of it. How can I try anything? Is it really okay for you to be so blatantly shameless? Whatever. This isn’t the first time it’s happened anyway.
Thanks to a reader’s comment. I’ve finally realised my Ko-fi button only appears on PCs. I’ve done a little reshuffling to the header menu. The not-temporary-but-should-be fix is done!