First Published on Chaleuria
13.1 – The Moment His Heart Was Moved
Yao Yuan was fortunate. The knife had not injured his internal organs and he was only hospitalized for seven days. After his stitches were removed, he was discharged. He kept his promise and did not sue Hu Lin, who also did not dare to keep pursuing revenge against Su Mu. Aside from the scar left on Yao Yuan’s stomach, nothing else seemed to have changed at all.
Convalescence at home was boring, but fortunately Yao Yuan had his sister by his side. Zhang Chen and Yao Yuan’s other good friends who lived in the city also came often to visit, and Su Mu came nearly every day, even bringing his girlfriend Yang Weiyu with him on a visit. The young people chatted and laughed together, and the days were not arduous.
It was almost New Year’s, and S City’s modern skyscrapers were lit by impressive red lanterns, giving them a historical beauty. The Yao siblings had no plans to go back to their hometown for the New Year; after all, there was no place there for them any more. Besides, Yao Yuan’s wound hadn’t fully healed. But the New Year still had to be celebrated, so Yao Qian went to the market and bought a batch of paint, planning to personally repaint the shop. The shop would enter the New Year with a new look! Yao Yuan went downstairs several times, wanting to help, but each time she chased him back upstairs to rest. Fortunately, Su Mu arrived later, and the pampered young master actually showed a surprising interest in the everyman’s task of wall-painting. For the entire day, he didn’t put down the brush in his hand, seeming not to care that his branded clothes had been ruined just like that.
From time to time, Yao Yuan came downstairs to supervise and take the opportunity to tease Young Master Su, who was a little clumsy. Time passed as they squabbled, and by the time evening fell, they had finished repainting the shop.
Young Master Su, who had never done such manual labor, was exhausted and dragged himself upstairs, intending to use the bathroom to freshen up, and then lie down on Yao Yuan’s bed for a good night’s sleep. He hadn’t the strength to go home! When he passed by the kitchen, through the ajar door, he saw a busy figure. He smiled and couldn’t help walking over.
Yao Yuan wore a long floral apron and, from behind, he looked very much like a housewife. Su Mu leaned against the doorframe, watching him handle various ingredients with the ease of practice. He suddenly wanted to see Yao Yuan’s masculine face, which was at extreme odds with the apron.
Yao Yuan placed a seasoned fish onto the steaming rack to cook. He heard movement behind him and immediately turned around, then froze for a moment when he saw Su Mu. The young master who always had a fresh and clean appearance was dyed from head to toe in all colors of paint—even his hair and his face had not been spared. Even looking so pathetic, he maintained his elegant expression. His appearance was oddly contradictory no matter how Yao Yuan looked at him, and finally Yao Yuan couldn’t help but to burst out laughing until his stomach injury began to hurt again and he had to stop.
“If you die from the pain you deserve it.” As Su Mu spoke, he walked up to Yao Yuan and looked at him with worry.
The pain gradually eased and Yao Yuan looked up into Su Mu’s eyes, silently touched by his worry. But his words were merciless: “For whom does Young Master Su deign to stoop to the role of a renovator?”
“And for whom does People’s Hero Yao put away his heroic radiance, wash his hands, and make soup?” Su Mu’s retaliation was quick and vicious. “I remember Yao Qian hates fish, and I think injured people can’t eat fish, either. But this young master likes steamed food.”
“That’s right.” Yao Yuan handled the chicken in his hands with ease, continuing to say, “But there were leftovers in the fridge that were about to go bad. It would be a waste to throw them out, so I have to trouble you, young master, to be a waste bin.”
“Okay, you win. I hope I don’t die from your fish.”
“Don’t be smart with me. Go and shower. You’re filthy.” Yao Yuan aimed a kick at him.
“Aiyo, People’s Hero Yao, you’re an injured man. Don’t reopen your wound.”
Su Mu left with a lightness in his heart and went to Yao Yuan’s room. Going off past experience, he quickly found a bathrobe and some underwear that hadn’t been opened. At some point, Yao Yuan had started preparing these things for him. The first time he found them, he had felt a little bit of satisfaction.
He walked into the bathroom, humming a pop song as he stood under the shower of warm water. He couldn’t help remembering that day: he had walked out of the bathroom oozing satisfaction and leaned close to Yao Yuan who was reading, staring at him with a teasing gaze. Eventually Yao Yuan couldn’t bear it and put down his book. “You don’t have to thank me. I just can’t get used to someone lying next to me without underwear.”
“You’re mistaken. I’m not grateful, I just think it’s a little small. Next time get a size bigger. I say, does People’s Hero Yao wear this size?” The flirtatious words flippantly left his mouth as his gaze casually swept over a certain critical part of Yao Yuan’s lower body.
“Of course not. I got this for you. Mine are two sizes bigger.”
Su Mu swore that in that moment he saw Yao Yuan’s villainous smile. This was a matter of masculine pride and deserving of battle. He pounced and tugged at Yao Yuan’s bathrobe, and of course Yao Yuan didn’t let him get his way. They tussled until Su Mu provoked Yao Qian’s lion’s roar, then dropped the matter.
Su Mu turned off the showerhead, still smiling slightly. To this day, he still didn’t know the guy’s measurements. That was a pity.
By the time Su Mu emerged from the shower, Yao Qian had arranged the food on the table: it was simple home cooking, but the bright colors immediately whet his appetite.
“I didn’t expect Yao Yuan to have such skills.” Before, when Su Mu came over, he had always eaten meals cooked by the shop’s chef. This was the first time he saw Yao Yuan personally cooking.
“Life forced him to learn.” Yao Qian showed no trace of sadness as she said this; she could discuss the difficult years of her life lightly now.
“Yao Yuan is about to graduate. Do either of you have any plans?” Since promising Yao Yuan he would stop his attempts to poach him to the Su Group, the question had circled in Su Mu’s mind.
Yao Yuan happened to walk out at this moment, carrying a plate of sweet and sour ribs. Hearing the question, he took it upon himself to answer. “We’ll close up the store, go back to our hometown, and start anew.”
He didn’t look at Su Mu’s face as he spoke. He didn’t quite understand why but he felt guilty at that moment.