147. Moving Back
YiHan’s mouth opened and closed. He sadly rebuked, “Grandpa, you wouldn’t understand.” We can’t be true lovers. Everything has been a lie.
“I certainly don’t understand about what’s going on between you kids,” the old Mr Bai interrupted. “However, you should know just how JingYuan has treated you all this time. I can see it. He keeps trying to get close to you but you keep rejecting him. It’s just tragic. It hurts a lot. No matter how strong and powerful he is outside the house, the softest side of him has always been exposed to you. Every move you make, every word you say, they can hurt him. As a lover, you should protect the soft, weak part of him. You shouldn’t use your advantage to hurt him. Right? Mn. Of course, if he did something wrong and made my precious little one upset, he must be punished in some way or other!”
But JingYuan didn’t do anything wrong. Still, who should be blamed for their current situation? YiHan leaned his head against his grandfather’s shoulder. His head was a mess. When the agony that came from knowing the truth faded away and his heart slowly calmed, it wasn’t like he hadn’t doubted it. Those minuscule acts of love between JingYuan and him were too realistic. If JingYuan was merely pretending to be his lover, then the man had put in too much into his act. His actions, his gaze, those flirtatious lines filled to the brim with love and the passionate frenzy that occurred in their bed; were they all fake too? If the man only thought of him as a younger brother, how could the man act so natural while doing all those things?
When JingYuan spoke of their marriage, his eyes were glimmering bright like stars. When YiHan rejected him, he was as dejected as a big, fluffy dog that’d been abandoned by its owner. Did the man fake all those reactions?
YiHan could easily sway JingYuan’s focus, control his emotions. Was that something a “younger brother” can do? YiHan couldn’t resist thinking back to everything that had happened between them. He remembered clearly everything they’d done together, everything down to the most minute details. Every time he recalled those memories, he couldn’t help but think what he’d overheard that day was just a prank. Nevertheless, he knew what he heard was the truth. Ever since that day, his mother’s mood was noticeably brighter. She would be smiling day in, day out. His father was the same. Bai FuRen was visibly more carefree, more relaxed. YiHan knew it was all because he was going to be “better” soon.
Before, he was sent reeling in shock by the sudden arrival of a happy life that he completely gave up on his brain. It was never smart in the first place. When he found out about the truth, he’d spent several minutes going through his memories. Only then did he realise everything had been so easy that it felt deliberate. Now that he thought about it, those “happy times” that made him feel as if he was dreaming were probably all arranged for by his family. It was their “cure”.
The only person he couldn’t understand was JingYuan. His disappointment and bewilderment were too real. His overwhelming passion and love were too genuine. It was all so genuine that he couldn’t resist wanting to believe it. However, he didn’t dare. He was too afraid to trust it anymore. When he was freshly reborn, JingYuan’s attitude broke through all previous expectations. YiHan thought it was because he was a fool in his past life. He only looked at the surface and brushed past the one he loved in life. What he heard that day changed that perception once more. What he overheard cruelly told him the perfect love he had was just a lie, a trap. It was deception he couldn’t even get angry at.
JingYuan’s love for YiHan was as deep as the seas, so everyone said. But every time he heard that another knife stabbed into his heart. He wanted to believe in it. He didn’t have the courage to. If there’s no hope, there’ll be no disappointment. If he experienced disappointment once more, then he’d fall into a spiral of despair. Leaving everything awkwardly hanging in the air, unsaid, also made the both of them upset. He so dearly wished for an end to things between them. He didn’t care if that meant breaking up or getting married.
To be honest, he very much hoped what he overhead was just a misunderstanding. However, the chances of it being true were slim. It was so very slim that the tiny hope didn’t dare to shine bright or it’d be snuffed out. It was so slim that YiHan suppressed it and pushed it into the back of his mind.
“Give me some time,” YiHan faintly whispered to his grandfather. He was so lost and so tired. “Indeed, we can’t drag things on any longer.”
The old Mr Bai’s heart clenched hard at the sorrow he heard in YiHan’s voice. He gently patted YiHan’s back and replied, “Alright. Don’t be sad, my dearest. I won’t ask anymore. I’ll leave your matters to be resolved by you two. You’re an adult now, HanHan. You can take care of many issues by yourself. If there’s anything you don’t understand, you can come and ask me. Your grandmother and I have thrived together in happiness for years. I’m very experienced.”
YiHan wrapped his arms around his grandfather’s neck. “Okay.”
YiHan planned on having a discussion when JingYuan was fully recovered from his fever. He wanted to end it all quickly. Secretly, without telling anyone, he bought a place. He’d be moving out soon after everything. Perhaps he could ask someone to act with him to prove he’d fallen in love with someone else, just like what XueQing and JingYuan did when they broke off their engagement. He’d then move out with the excuse that he wanted some private time with his new partner. This was the best way to avoid letting anything slip as time went on. Everyone would be happy. No one would be troubled by it. However, XueQing’s love with TianYang was true whilst his would be fake. Even so, what did it matter as long as everyone was fine?
The plan, however, never really came to fruition anytime soon. Everyone said those who rarely get sick would suffer terribly when they do. Perhaps there was truth in that. JingYuan’s fever was so serious that the illness took as long to leave as someone unravelling a silk cocoon one strand at a time. After two whole weeks, the man was still sick. JingYuan grew as thin as a rake. His sensual collarbone now jutted out of his skin. It was a harsh sight to behold.
When it came to work, it was mostly done via Chen Hong. The man would send the important documents over to the Bai family home. Every day, JingYuan had to perk himself up for a video conference and ensure the company continued working as usual.
In the Bai family home.
“HanHan, is JingYuan still asleep?” Ma asked with a frown. She was lounging on the living room sofa with her husband and youngest son.
“Yes,” YiHan replied, a hand rising to massage his forehead. “He was coughing the whole night long. He only fell into a proper sleep at dawn. He’s still quite warm today.”
“We’ve been to all the major hospitals,” Ma sighed. “We’ve asked the family doctor to check on him again and again. JingYuan had his pills. He’d been injected with anti-inflammatory drugs. Why is he still not getting better? He’s going to wither into nothing but skin and bones soon.”
She then caressed her youngest son’s worried face. “You haven’t been sleeping well, have you? You’ve been taking care of him. Look at you. You’re also quite thin. Why don’t you go take a nap while he’s still asleep? If he wakes up, Aunt Yang and I can take care of him.”
“I’m fine,” said YiHan, smiling. “I’m not tired.”
“My son’s all grown up,” Ma lovingly chuckled. “He knows how to care for someone now.” Her gaze slowly wandered across the room and, upon sweeping by the staircase, froze. “JingYuan,” she exclaimed in surprise, “you’re up. How do you feel?”
JingYuan was standing on top of the stairwell. His face was a pasty white. His lips were equally as pale. He had put on his usual black collar shirt and black slacks before he left his room. That made him look even more sickly and thin. His slightly downcast eyes were staring straight at YiHan.
“I’m fine,” JingYuan replied to Ma, forcing a smile as he said so. “I’m much better now.”
“You say that every time. Are you hungry? Aunt Yang made some congee. Have a bowl,” Ma huffed.
JingYuan softly cleared his throat and slowly descended as he coarsely said, “It’s fine. I’m not hungry.”
FuRen who’d been keeping silent the entire time then frowned and spoke up, “Look at you. You’re sick. How can you not eat? How will you get better?”
YiHan rose to support JingYuan as the older man reached the bottom of the stairs. While JingYuan’s head was still drowsy from the fever, he still was conscious enough to not want to burden YiHan with his body weight. JingYuan merely used the chance to clamp down on the hand offered. The two walked back to the sofa YiHan had vacated. Even then, JingYuan wasn’t willing to let go. He kept a tight grip on YiHan’s hand and turned to FuRen.
“Maybe it’s because I just woke up,” said the man with a smile. “I truly don’t feel hungry at all. I’ll have some later.” The man had actually been awake for a while. He’d just been spacing out.
YiHan’s hand unwitting clenched around JingYuan’s.
The older man turned to him and asked, a happy little lilt in his voice, “What is it?”
“Nothing,” YiHan said, turning to look away.
JingYuan’s eyes lowered as he pursed his lips. He softly coughed and turned to YiHan’s parents. “Uncle, Aunt, I plan on moving back tomorrow.”
YiHan’s head shot back to look at JingYuan.
“Why do you want to move back all of a sudden?” Ma asked in shock. “There’ll only be you and your servants there. What are you going back for? Anyway, you’re sick. Who’d take care of you if you go?”
“I’m a big man,” said JingYuan with another smile. “It’s just a cold. I don’t need to be taken care of all the time. Anyway, I have a family doctor and some servants over there. They can check in on my once in a while.”
Ma glanced at the upset expression on her youngest son’s face and gently replied, “Everything’s going well here. What made you think of moving back and now of all times?”
“It’s not really easy for Chen Hong to come here every day,” said JingYuan. “It’s also a bother. If Anyway, I’m always coughing through the night. HanHan is a light sleeper and he’s so close to me all the time that I’m worried I’d pass the cold onto him. I’ve asked him to sleep in his own room for a good night’s sleep but he refused. I’m now too afraid to cough at night but I can’t even hold them in. He has been disturbed by my coughs so often that he’s so much thinner now. His body is frail. It can’t handle going through this any longer. I want to head home. Once I’m better and if…HanHan wishes for it, I’ll move back here.”
There was a moment of silence before FuRen suddenly asked, “Did you two fight?”
JingYuan reflexively tightened his grip around YiHan’s hand. He remained silent. He couldn’t say no.
“Of course not,” YiHan rebuked with a strained smile. “We’re fine. He didn’t discuss this with me either about wanting to move back.”
“There’s nothing strange about a couple fighting. Something has been off between you two lately. If JingYuan truly wants to move back home, YiHan can follow along to take care of him. JingYuan cannot go back alone. You’re both adults. We might be your elders but we can’t help you when it comes to relationships. You two communicate and resolve your issues,” said FuRen. “Alright, YiHan. You don’t need to explain anything. Your father’s not a fool.”