187. I Will Be Involved in This
“You’re doing it for the Qi family’s reputation,” YiHan said, “while I’m doing this for my friend. We both have our own separate outlooks on the situation. This is unavoidable. Either way, I will be involved in this matter. I don’t care what happens to Chu FangMing but I must protect Nan Shan. If we can coexist in peace, the only thing I can say is ‘sorry’. Whether Nan Shan is safe or pushed into danger, it’ll depend on who wins.”
Qi MingYang blinked. Suddenly, he smiled. “Little Master Bai, there’s no need to be angry. In this city, it’s as easy as pie for you to protect anyone you want. I have absolutely no intention of being your enemy. However, my cousin was humiliated. It is hard for me to accept that.”
“Mr Qi,” YiHan calmly said, “it is natural for you to wish to protect your own family but every injustice has its perpetrator and every debt its debtor. Chu FangMing is a cold-hearted man. He cheated on his spouse and in his love with Aunt Xu. This is none of Nan Shan’s business. Actually, it’s not just Madam Chu who’s the victim. Nan Shan is a victim too. Until now, he has to deal with Chu FangMing’s constant harassment. Even I would like to teach the man a lesson. Speaking of which, you are helping Madam Chu vent her anger while I am indignant on Nan Shan’s behalf. Our wants do not clash. Nan Shan’s surname is Xu, not Chu. He is Xu JinXuan’s son. Other than his unbreakable blood tie to Chu FangMing, he has nothing to do with the man. Nan Shan refuses to have anything to do with him. As long as you think of Nan Shan as non-existent, everyone can exist in harmony. I won’t keep it a secret, Mr Qi, but when I was talking to Yan Yan and Yan Pei yesterday, we were all praising you for how swift and decisive your actions were. Pei-Pei was saying it made her happy to witness what you’ve done. All in all, if you don’t lay a finger on Nan Shan, we don’t care about what happens to anyone else. Furthermore, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. To a certain extent, we are united in our goals.”
Qi MingYang thought about YiHan’s words before giving a little shrug. “Your words are logical. Since you’ve spoken, I will pretend he doesn’t exist as long as he does not return to the Chu family. One can’t choose who they’re born to, but they can choose what their lives would be like. I only hope his heart doesn’t soften and make him stand beside his father. After all, Chu FangMing is his only living family member.”
“Chu FangMing can’t be considered as Nan Shan’s family,” YiHan solemnly said. “Nan Shan feels nothing for him anyway. Nan Shan’s mother passed away at a young age. It’s hard to declare Chu FangMing completely innocent in her death. If we were to really go through their past, Chu FangMing would more likely be Nan Shan’s enemy. If someone must be named as Nan Shan’s family, the Yan siblings and I should be named. Oh, right. Nan Shan and Yan Yan are in a relationship and Yan’s parents are informed of it. Soon, Nan Shan would be meeting with his elders in the Yan family and he’ll have many more family members.”
“Oh?” commented Qi MingYang. “That’s good news. The Second Young Master of the Yan family has settled down. The old Mr Yan has less to worry about now.”
“Yes,” said YiHan. “The old Mr Yan is so very eager to meet Yan Yan’s lover. Alright. We’ve come to an agreement now and I can’t stay here for long. JingYuan’s waiting for me. I’m sorry but please excuse me.”
YiHan nodded his head and stood up to walk out of the café. “Oh, right,” said YiHan, turning back to look at Qi MingYang after having taken a few steps away from the table. “Thank you so much for the coffee, Mr Qi.” YiHan then turned and strode out of the doors.
Qi MingYang’s eyes squinted as he watched YiHan walk away. When the other man vanished from his sight, he turned to look down at the cup of untouched coffee. A smile, brimming with eager interest, grew across his mouth and he stroked his chin.
“The Little Master Bai,” he mumbled. “Bai YiHan. How have I never realised just how interesting you are? Thankfully… It would’ve been a pity otherwise.”
YiHan drove away from the parking lot and headed to Zhang Su’s bookshop as planned. The store was very peaceful in the mornings. As expected, YouRan was there.
YouRan was sitting in his designated seat. The man was engrossed in the book held up by slender arms. The warm rays of the winter sun splayed around him. It made him appear so extraordinarily beautiful and gentle that it was as if he belonged in a painting. It made all around him reluctant to break this one moment of pleasant peace.
When Zhang Su walked down the stairs, he spotted YiHan standing between the bookshelves. “YiHan, you’re here,” he greeted with a smile. “Why did JingYuan let you out today?”
YiHan turned and smiled back. “Zhang-ge,” he greeted. “Pei-Pei invited me out today. She needed to prepare for some school event. I was asked to help her pick up some stuff. But then something came up at the last minute and she couldn’t go with me anymore. I was already out of the house by then, so I decided to come here and hang out.”
Hearing voices, YouRan looked up. When he saw YiHan, his eyes lit up. “YiHan, why are you here?”
It was only then did YiHan walk over to sit at YouRan’s table. “Pei-Pei stood me up. I can only seek shelter with you.”
Zhang Su sat down too. “Don’t let JingYuan hear such pitiful words or Pei-Pei would be in trouble.”
“It’s not that bad,” YiHan awkwardly said. He then looked at the smiling YouRan and asked, “YouRan, so when does Yan plan on having you meet his family?”
YouRan closed the book in his hands. His fingers nervously stroked it as he replied, “Yan said this weekend.”
“It’s Wednesday already,” said YiHan. “That’s not far away.”
YouRan nodded. Anxiety filled his face as his mind grew heavy.
YiHan exchanged a look with Zhang Su before softly asking, “YouRan, are you nervous?”
YouRan bit down on his lips and nodded. His fingers continuously stroked the book as he replied, “I have never met anyone else’s elders. I’m afraid of saying something wrong. Also, I’m a man. Would Yan’s parents accept me?”
Zhang Su let out a chuckle. “Listen to what you’re saying. Am I not a man? Relax. The Yan family is extremely easy to get along with. Let me tell you a secret. If you can make the old Mr Yan happy, you’ve eighty per cent succeeded in winning them over.”
YouRan nodded gratefully. The man was still nervous though.
YiHan smiled and said, “YouRan, relax a little. You’re only meeting his parents. Yan has already told them about you. You’re only going to be meeting them and share a meal with them. As long as you can handle that, you’ll have no problems.”
YiHan paused in thought before continuing, “The old Mr Yan is a very nice man. Yes. He loves to play chess and Go. Play a few rounds with him and he’ll be happy. Oh, right. Remember not to win all the time but you can’t lose too obviously.”
YouRan nodded again.
“The old Mr Yan loves YiHan the most,” Zhang Su added. “He’s closer to YiHan than he is to Hui or Yan. YiHan has spoken so well of you before the old Mr Yan that this weekend will be a success.”
“Thank you, YiHan,” said YouRan. “You’ve done so much for me that I find it hard to just accept.”
“It’s nothing,” YiHan said. “No need to be so formal with me. I’ve only been slightly more diligent in visiting the Yan family. First, I recommended your books to him. Of course, Pei-Pei has done that already. I merely needed to strengthen that recommendation, and also try to improve the old Mr Yan’s impression of you. Naturally, none of the things I’ve said to him was an exaggeration. They were all facts. Yan is so worried about this. You two had only just started dating and he’s already rushing to bring you home. Anyone could see he’s into you. The Yan family has always believed in individual freedom. For Yan’s sake, they won’t trouble you. Don’t worry.”
YouRan hummed in response as his body slackened.
“Look,” said Zhang Su. “So many people have prepared for you. It’s impossible for the meeting to go wrong. Yan even told his family that he’ll be moving in with you from now on. His older brother laughed so hard at him for that.”
YouRan nodded. “He told me about that. I’ll work hard as the breadwinner. I’ve been thinking about starting up a side business.” He’ll be a man with a family from now on. He must bear the burden of feeding his family. He can’t go on in that state where the family only has just enough food.
YiHan was shocked. He nearly wailed as he said, “Please don’t, YouRan. I’m still waiting for your new book! Ever since Yan told us you were working on the outline, all three of us have been eagerly waiting for it. Please, don’t, don’t, don’t turn to anything else.”
A chuckle burst out of YouRan. “I’m only thinking about it. There will be a new book anyway.” He waved the book he was holding. “Look at me. I’m reading for my story. However, I’ve only started on the outline. If you start waiting from now, you’d be waiting for a very long time.”
YiHan blinked. “Don’t be like that. As your friends, do we have to wait until the book is published before we can read it? How about we read as you write? I promise we won’t let anything leak!”
“I’m really not in the habit of showing my unfinished drafts to other people,” YouRan hesitantly said.
“We can wait until you’re done,” YiHan hurriedly said. “Once you’re done with the book, we’d like to read it immediately. You can slowly work on publication then, okay?”
“Alright,” YouRan nodded, abashed.
“Yay!” YiHan cheered.
Zhang Su let out a sigh and changed the topic. “YouRan, you don’t actually need to start a side business or anything. Isn’t what you have now good enough?”
YiHan nodded in agreement.
“No way,” said YouRan. “I won’t be alone now. It’s best to have more income.”
“Yan is the Second Young Master of the Yan family,” Zhang Su said, exasperated. “He owns some of the Yan Group’s shares. He also holds a rather important position in the company. Are you afraid he won’t have enough money to spend?”
“I know he doesn’t need money but that’s his business,” YouRan stubbornly said. “Feeding the family is my business. I don’t want to be short on money when I buy him presents.”
He sighed before mournfully continuing, “I initially thought my income was enough for us to live on but then I looked up the brands of his clothes. I realised I can’t even afford to buy him a shirt.”
“Yes,” YiHan said, holding back a laugh. “In that sense, Yan certainly spends a lot. However, a home is made up of two people. It can’t be just you who pays for everything. He’s a man too. He has to pull his own weight. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.”
“He was raised in luxury,” YouRan anxiously said. “I can’t make him live a lesser life than what he had, right? But I really can’t afford to buy any of what he usually uses or wears.”
“YiHan’s right,” said Zhang Su, holding back a laugh of his own too. “A family is made up of two people. Of course, you have to both feed the family. The money you two earn would be used to pay for the bills first before being split up. The more you earn, the more you spend. If you earn less, you spend less. It’s not like there’s not enough to live on. He’s also not the kind of person who’d die if he’s separated from luxury goods. You don’t need to worry over such things.”
Individual freedom: The noun used here is “democratic” or, more literally, “by the people”. It’s a rather weird term to translate here as there are multiple ways it can be interpreted and there’s no one succinct answer.