Chapter 41: Lotus Leaf Pancake Rolls
Translated by Karcessel of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lin ShuYi had never liked anyone romantically.
In his past life, Lin ShuYi lived with his teacher, secluded from the outside world until he was eighteen. After he turned eighteen, he returned to the capital to further his education, naively dreaming of becoming a honest and just government official. Before he left, his teacher warned him that his personality wasn’t suited for a job as an official, but Lin ShuYi went anyway. Two quick years later, Lin ShuYi exited the stage with nothing left behind but a body on the cold, hard ground. He didn’t even have the chance to see his teacher one last time.
If Lin ShuYi had to name who held a special place in his heart, it could only be his teacher and his friend, Song Yan.
After arriving in this world, Lin ShuYi spent most of his time with Old Man Yang, and later Shen Fu. He never had much time to form close relationships with other people. In his heart was only his teacher, family, and very close friends. Shen Fu barely counted as half a friend.
Due to his lack of experience with liking people romantically, he didn’t really have a firm understanding of the concept. Thus, even though he understood that Shen Fu was gay, he didn’t have any cause to be concerned. Having grown up in Da Yan, his current ideals still reflect the open and accepting customs of his homeland, and he didn’t see much of a difference between liking a man or a woman. Which was why he wished Shen Fu success. If Lin ShuYi had known the target of Shen Fu’s affections was himself, his reaction would have been far less neutral and involved far more cursing.
But unfortunately, he didn’t know, so he didn’t doubt Shen Fu’s feigned surprise.
“Mn? When did I grope you?” Shen Fu casually leaned back against the soft sofa, one eyebrow arched in a one hundred percent doubtful expression.
Lin ShuYi thought for a minute, then finally said, “Hooking your arm around my shoulder is no longer allowed!”
Shen Fu tilted his head and asked, “Why? We’re both guys, isn’t this normal?”
“But you like men.” As soon as the words left his mouth, Lin ShuYi knew he had stepped out of line. Sure enough, across from him, Shen Fu’s playful grin vanished.
Wearing a wronged expression, Shen Fu said, “Are you discriminating against me?”
“That wasn’t what I meant.”
Shen Fu laughed a hollow, self-deprecating laugh. “Then what did you mean?”
Lin ShuYi was already a little embarrassed by his previous lack of tact, but seeing Shen Fu’s mood suddenly change, and thinking that he must have hurt Shen Fu’s feelings, he suddenly felt much worse. Lowering his voice, he apologised sincerely to Shen Fu, “That really wasn’t what I meant.”
Lin ShuYi had never considered liking someone to be a negative trait, even if Shen Fu said he liked men.
Across from Lin ShuYi, Shen Fu was stunned for a moment, but he quickly turned his head away, breaking eye contact. His voice muffled, he said softly, “I know.”
To Lin ShuYi, it seemed as if Shen Fu was genuinely upset, far more than just a thoughtless line should have caused. Heaven knows, if it weren’t for his attraction to men, Shen Fu wouldn’t have been whipped so heavily and cast out by his grandfather. Even small things like this must be like spreading salt on a wound.
“I really didn’t mean to say something so prejudiced. Liking someone isn’t an insignificant matter, regardless of gender.”
Still, Shen Fu didn’t look back at him, as as the seconds ticked by Lin ShuYi began to feel a little irritated himself. Not forgiving him even after that apology was a little too petty, but he was still the one at fault here, so he was in no position to judge Shen Fu. In the end, all Lin ShuYi could do was go back to the kitchen to finish cooking silently.
Hearing Lin ShuYi’s footsteps drawing farther away, Shen Fu finally looked back. There was a hint of sadness on his face, but nonetheless he couldn’t help a slight smile. Shen Fu narrowed his eyes in thought as he recalled Lin ShuYi’s words. Just now, Shen Fu had actually forgotten what he was going to say because he wanted to let Lin ShuYi justify himself first, but the words that Lin ShuYi said honestly surprised him.
Liking someone regardless of gender? Well said.
Does that mean I can hug his waist next time? Shen Fu mused, ever ambitious.
With dinner finished, Shen Fu put on some rubber gloves and went to work washing the dishes. Even though they weren’t at the restaurant anymore, Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu still kept their usual habits. Lin ShuYi was in charge of cooking, and Shen Fu was in charge of cleaning. Neither had any issues with this arrangement.
Although the reconstruction of the restaurant had already been handed over to the designers, there were still decisions that required their confirmation and logistics to settle. Tomorrow, Lin ShuYi was meeting with the designers on site to plan the layout, so he prepared to sleep early. Skipping watching TV, Lin ShuYi planned to shower, brush his teeth, and head directly to bed.
As Lin ShuYi closed the bathroom door behind him, Shen Fu’s phone rang. Shen Fu checked the caller ID, and with a audible distraught noise, he picked it up. “Grandfather.”
Shen Fu’s grandfather’s voice was furious. “Oh, so you still know I’m your grandfather! And here I thought you were too busy basking in luxuries and overindulging that you abandoned your family and didn’t want to come back anymore? Even your phone has changed! Admit it, if I hadn’t called you, you would have never thought to call me!”
Pulling the phone a bit further away, Shen Fu rubbed his ears. “Didn’t you say it was best if I went far away and never returned?”
Grandfather Shen was so angry he was on the verge of an aneurysm, taking a deep breath, he opened his mouth and thundered in Shen Fu’s ear, “Didn’t I tell you not to like men? Why don’t you listen!”
Calming his racing heart, which had been startled by the sudden call, Shen Fu glanced at the blurred light coming from the bathroom. He grinned. “Too late, I already like men, and there’s no way to change that.”
Without waiting for Grandfather Shen to explode again, Shen Fu continued, “Grandfather, stop calling yourself my father* so casually. You’re not my father, and if he heard you saying that, he’ll be angered to death. I won’t be going back anytime soon. Don’t look for me, it’s annoying. I’m hanging up.”
*T/N: Up until now, Grandfather Shen has been using the pronoun “老子,” which is both a slightly proud way to refer to oneself and, in some situations, an identity marker indicating that the speaker is the father of the person being spoken to. So it’s like Grandfather Shen has been saying “I, your father,” every time he said “I,” thus Shen Fu told him to stop referring to himself as Shen Fu’s father.
And Shen Fu hung up, tired of the thunder hurting his ears. On the other end of the line, Grandfather Shen was left shaking in rage.
Still grinning, Shen Fu followed the sound of running water coming from the bathroom, walking up to knock against the frosted glass shower. “Ah, just so you know, other people really need to use the bathroom, so please hurry up…”
Inside the shower, Lin ShuYi’s face turned gloomy. Lately, every single time Lin ShuYi took a shower, Shen Fu always came knocking with an bathroom emergency, what kind of problem was this?
The next day, as Lin ShuYi got up, so did Shen Fu, which was a rare occasion. Ever since the restaurant closed, Shen Fu ceased being able to match Lin ShuYi’s schedule and get up at the same time. Not everyone could consistently follow such an abnormal lifestyle routine.
Lin ShuYi opened the door to the main room as he was buttoning up his shirt, to find Shen Fu still getting dressed, exposing his bare back.
“…” A moment of silence on Lin ShuYi’s end. “How come you got up so early today?”
Shen Fu had still been half asleep, brain muddled, but at the sound of Lin ShuYi’s voice he was suddenly wide awake. Of course he hadn’t forgotten the reason he made sure to get up so early today. “Aren’t you going to go do some on-site planning with the designer today?”
Lin ShuYi nodded.
“Then I’m going too.” Shen Fu was actually quite proficient in this field, but also every time the designer saw Lin ShuYi, his eyes lit up. Even if it was purely out of jealousy, Shen Fu still couldn’t help feeling unhappy at the thought of someone else being interested in Lin ShuYi.
Lin ShuYi, on the other hand, thought Shen Fu’s offer was because he was concerned about Lin ShuYi’s understanding of the design process. Though Lin ShuYi had done his research these past few days, it was inevitable that he might make some mistakes here and there. Thus, he welcomed Shen Fu’s company.
“There’s still no need to be up this early. I was going to go for a walk first, then head to the restaurant later.”
Shen Fu finished getting dressed, and followed Lin ShuYi into the bathroom to get ready as well. “I’ll go for a walk with you.”
ChaoYang street was located in a quiet suburb, with a healthy environment, and the morning air was crisp and fresh too. Other than Lin ShuYi and a handful of early morning runners, there was practically no one around. Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu walked side by side, quiet in the even quieter surroundings.
There was a vague feeling in the air, and as Shen Fu tilted his head to the side, admiring the fair complexion of the person next to him, he was inexplicably reminded of a saying: envy the lovers but don’t envy the god.*
*T/N: Means it’s better to live a short life with someone you love than to live forever alone.
“Is there something on my face? Why have you been staring at me for so long?” Lin ShuYi turned around to meet Shen Fu’s gaze unhappily.
Shen Fu quickly masked his frustration. “No, nothing.”
Lin ShuYi wanted to keep pressing, but suddenly a clear female voice rang down the street. “Xiao Yi gege! Xiao Fu gege!”
The two turned their heads at the same time to find Xiao Wan standing on the doorstep of her home, holding a large bag.
“Xiao Wan, how come you’re up so early?” Quickly wearing his usual cheerful demeanor, Shen Fu walked over with Lin ShuYi.
Xiao Wan nodded. “Ever since grandma and grandfather Yang went on vacation, there’s been no one at home who has the time to cook. So I go out to buy breakfast before school every day. You two are up early too. Isn’t the restaurant still closed?”
It wasn’t until Xiao Wan came back from school in the afternoon that she heard the news of what happened to grandpa Yang’s family. Although it sounded exciting, it was a relief that nothing bad happened to grandpa Yang. And that grandson of his, Xiao Wan never liked him much and thought being locked up served him right. However, what a pity it was that the XiQin restaurant was trashed, it would take a long while before it could be opened again.
“Mhm, the restaurant is under construction right now. It’ll open once the rebuilding is complete.”
Xiao Wan nodded again, suddenly reminded of another note. “When grandma called the other say, she said the restaurant’s design was changing. Is it going to be built into a big restaurant?”
Lin ShuYi still had some doubts regarding this matter. Also, he had just discussed this with Old Man Yang a few days ago, how come Xiao Wan’s grandma knew already?
“A big restaurant might not be possible, we’re just planning on renovating the original.”
Hearing this made Xiao Wan very happy, and she bubbled excitedly, “Good, good, when the restaurant is better, I’ll get my classmates to come every day! Xiao Yi gege’s cooking skills are absolutely amazing.”
A moment later, Xiao Wan suddenly became aware of the fact that all three of them were still standing on her front door steps, so she quickly opened the door to let everyone in.
“Xiao Yi gege, Xiao Fu gege, I bet you guys haven’t eaten breakfast yet, right? I bought a lot of food, so come in and join us, hm?” Lin ShuYi prepared to shake his head, but Xiao Wan continued, “I bought those lotus leaf pancake rolls from the next street over. It’s really good, and there were so many people, I was in line for forever.”
Shen Fu watched as Lin ShuYi slammed on the mental brakes and did a one eighty, stiffly changing that head shake into a nod. Shen Fu sighed. He really was concerned that Lin ShuYi could actually be lured away by a particularly good roast chicken.
The two people followed Xiao Wan in.
Xiao Wan’s mom and dad hadn’t gone to work yet, and seeing the three of them walk in, immediately began pulling out more bowls and spooning congee into them, making space for two more seats at the table. They greeted Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu and invited them for breakfast, warm and familiar and not the slightest like they were strangers.
Before Lin ShuYi arrived in this world, Xiao Wan’s family and Old Man Yang had a very close relationship. When Lin ShuYi, a kid around Xiao Wan’s age, came along, the two families became even closer, like they were one big family. If it weren’t for that fact that Xiao Wan’s mom and dad had to be away at work all day, they would be much closer to everyone like Xiao Wan’s grandma was.
But even without personal relationships, everyone knew the two families were close, and acted as such.
Xiao Wan’s dad started to ask questions about the restaurant’s reconstruction, but he wasn’t even a few sentences in before he was cut off by Xiao Wan’s mom. “We’re having breakfast right now, don’t chatter so much. Xiao Yi, Xiao Fu, you two don’t have to listen to him, just focus on eating.”
Lotus leaf pancake rolls were one of the more frequent breakfasts Lin ShuYi bought around here, the store was very popular. Along ChaoYang street, it was tradition that most of the residents didn’t make breakfast themselves, everyone just brewed congee at home and went out to buy breakfast dishes. As a result, breakfast food stores were everywhere along the street, but the really popular ones were still just a few.
Xiao Wan’s dad transferred all the dishes onto plates, and placed the lotus leaf pancakes out as well.
The thin pancakes were packed together in sheets of three layers, to be separated when eating. The various dishes that could be wrapped in the pancakes were all displayed and sold separately as well. Usually the store would pack containers of the dishes someone wanted for them to roll them up themselves, but because Xiao Wan was bringing all the food she bought home, and because they were familiar with each other, her pancake rolls were already packed with dishes.
There were various dishes spread out across the table, like julienned potato strands, shredded tofu sheets, green pepper scrambled eggs, julienned seaweed, and bean sprouts.
Though the pancakes were thin, they were very strong and held together well. The dishes rolled up were according to a person’s tastes, but in general the more variety of dishes in the wrap, the better it tasted.
After breakfast, Xiao Wan’s mom and dad quickly cleaned up and got ready for work. Lin ShuYi tried to help but was rebuffed. “Don’t you have matters to attend to at the restaurant? Go ahead, we’re fine here.”
And so Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu left for the restaurant, full from a delicious meal, but also feeling a little guilty for not being able to help with the clean up.