Chapter 53: Macarons
Translated by Karcessel of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
A silence fell after the kiss, and neither Lin ShuYi nor Shen Fu said a word. The room was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. Shen Fu sat with a glass of red wine in one hand, his eyes never leaving Lin ShuYi’s face. Lin ShuYi sat engrossed in his phone, and didn’t spare Shen Fu a single glance, as if he was empty air.
Although he just shared a kiss with Shen Fu, Lin ShuYi wasn’t the sentimental type. On the contrary, his mind was running through the logistics, wondering whether he should follow Shen Fu’s suggestions. Lin ShuYi had never been in a relationship before, and he didn’t even know whether he liked men or women, so his experience in progressing down this path was nonexistent. However, a relationship with Shen Fu wasn’t impossible. Far from it, in fact, because when Shen Fu kissed him, he didn’t feel disgusted at all. It was surprisingly pleasant, and heated his entire body up.
Thinking about it, Lin ShuYi’s feelings towards Shen Fu weren’t negative at all. However, Lin ShuYi knew that in these modern times, this path of homosexuality was a difficult one to walk. It wasn’t much different from Da Yan.
Although, in Da Yan, no one would bat an eye at a man with a male lover, it was still unheard of for him to marry that male lover. After all, a man needed to take a wife in order to sire children and continue his family name. Now, modern times were much more difficult than Da Yan, because in Da Yan, a married man may still have lovers and concubines, but today a man must stay faithful to one person and one person only until the end of his life.
Lin ShuYi didn’t mind the monogamy. In fact he liked the idea of being with one person for the rest of his life, thus he had to make his choices carefully. If the mutual intention wasn’t to grow old together, Lin ShuYi wasn’t interested in playing around with any relationships. The person he fell for must be someone who would last a lifetime. This was an ideal he held in his past life, and it still stayed deeply rooted in his core personality an entire world over.
Since Lin ShuYi didn’t feel any disgust towards Shen Fu’s kiss, the issue now wasn’t that Shen Fu was a man, but rather the details of his feelings for Shen Fu, and whether Shen Fu was really the kind of person who fit his criteria. Whether Shen Fu was the kind of person who he would want to stay with for the rest of his life.
While contemplating this, Lin ShuYi stretched out his body and slipped back into the hot springs, closing his eyes with a sigh and relaxing back into the warm, soothing water. He enjoyed the moment, and put away his worries. As things stood right now, it seemed that he didn’t have to do anything quite yet.
So, Shen Fu wanted to pursue him?
Then pursue away. He wasn’t against it.
The corner of Lin ShuYi’s mouth curved up, and he continued to treat Shen Fu as if he didn’t exist.
Shen Fu had exhausted all the wine in his cup. He licked his lips, savoring the aftertaste, though whether he was savoring the aftertaste of the wine or the kiss, he didn’t know. What he did know was that his eyes never left Lin ShuYi’s face.
It didn’t bother Shen Fu that Lin ShuYi didn’t want to deal with anything just yet, as long as Lin ShuYi didn’t dislike him. If Lin ShuYi had really disliked Shen Fu, then the moment Lin ShuYi was kissed, he should have reacted immediately and slapped Shen Fu away, right?
Shen Fu grinned, thinking to himself that his days of pinning were finally over.
With the sweet taste of success lingering on his tongue, although Shen Fu didn’t know what Lin ShuYi was thinking, he understood the concept of stopping before he went too far. He shouldn’t go chasing the taste of success endlessly, for if in his rush he pushed Lin ShuYi away, then the one who got hurt would end up being himself. Thus, if Lin ShuYi didn’t bring up the kiss, then neither would Shen Fu.
Instead, he picked up a round tray of pastries, and walked over to Lin ShuYi. “These sweets are really delicious, are you really not going to have a try?”
Lin ShuYi slowly opened his eyes, and looked over. After a moment, he raised his hand out of the water and dried it on a nearby towel, as he considered the two different kinds of pastries on the tray. One of the pastries, the one previously mentioned by Shen Fu, was sachima. Lin ShuYi had already tried this pastry once before, at a banquet in Da Yan. It seemed to be traditional to some of the nomadic people, sweet and chewy, melting in his mouth. The other pastry on the tray was unfamiliar and extraordinarily beautiful, in a variety of soft pastel colours. It looked like some kind of a stuffed cookie, with pretty ruffled edges.
The little cookie-like pastry was captivating, so Lin ShuYi gingerly picked one up and asked Shen Fu, “What’s this?”
Shen Fu smiled, and poured him a glass of wine. “Macarons. It pairs will with red wine.”
For Shen Fu, all the pastries on the tray were a bit too sweet to suit his tastes. Whether it was the traditional sachima or the western macaron, he didn’t like either. Lin ShuYi, however, Shen Fu knew loved these sweet, sweet pastries.
As expected, it only took one bite for Lin ShuYi’s eyelids to flutter closed, basking in the delicious sweetness of the dessert. With a thin yet crispy outer shell, soft and chewy on the inside, the texture was completely unique from the creams cakes Lin ShuYi had tried before, contrary to his expectations. The addition of almond flour gave the macarons a unique flavor, and matched the filling perfectly.
Shen Fu swirled the wine in the wineglass, and handed it over to Lin ShuYi once he opened his eyes again. “Try it with this.”
Lin ShuYi didn’t notice that this was the cup Shen Fu had just been drinking out of as he took a sip, too focused on how the tartness of the wine neutralized some of the overwhelming sweetness of the macaron, creating a unique flavour in his mouth. It really was a good pair.
Afterwards, Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu spent the rest of the night enjoying desserts together by the misty hot spring, a slight hint of sulphur in the air. Though the atmosphere between them was still uncertain, it was surprisingly amicable.
In two days, it would be time to return to S City, so of course Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu spent the last few days playing to their heart’s content.
The entire time, Chen Fang never did figure out just which stage these two had progressed to, but the constant smile on Shen Fu’s face told him all he needed to know. Something good had definitely happened.
Two days later, Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu bid their farewells to Chen Fang, and prepared to drive back to S City.
In the week since coming to H City, Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu had made several calls to Old Man Yang, keeping each other updated. Lin ShuYi had no idea where Shen Fu got the people, but the XiQin restaurant’s rebuilding was extraordinarily fast, to the point where it was almost finished already. This probably had something to do with how the restaurant was just being renovated, and not completely rebuilt from the bottom up, as well.
Before Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu left H City, they made a call to Old Man Yang, who was overjoyed to hear that they were returning. He asked them when they expected to arrive, ready to being preparing a meal ahead of time.
Once again, the two of them went shopping in H City, and went home with more than they came with, the car filled up to the brim.
On the way back, instead of taking Chen Fang’s nice luxury car, Shen Fu continued to drive the small, unassuming Hyundai he came to this city in. Although his own car had had been confiscated by grandfather Shen earlier, during grandfather Shen’s last visit, he gave the keys back to Shen Fu. The only issue was that, no matter whether it was a brand or the appearance, every part of his SUV was far too ostentatious. He didn’t want to cause any gossip if he drove it to Old Man Yang’s place, so he left it behind.
Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu had just entered S City when Lin ShuYi received a call from Old Man Yang.
Old Man Yang’s voice was joyously cheerful on the other end of the line, and in fact, he had been in this state since he found out the two would be returning home. “Are you in the city yet?”
“Mhm.” Lin ShuYi glanced at the buildings flying by outside the window, nodding as he spoke. “We just got off the highway, we’re in the city now.”
“Good, good. I have the rice already steaming, and I’m going to start cooking the dishes now. By the time you two get home, you’ll be just in time to eat.”
Lin ShuYi’s eyes were bright, and even his voice was full of smiles as he said, “Alright. Thank you, grandpa.”
“What are you being so polite with me for, ah? I’m going to go cook now. Tell Xiao Fu to drive carefully.”
This was the first time Lin ShuYi had experienced the feeling of having someone waiting for him to come home, with a meal prepared. For a long while, Lin ShuYi remained silent, feeling fuzzy and warm inside. Whether it was in the past or the present, what he had always yearned for was just this kind of life.
Truthfully, though Lin ShuYi found H City very fun, he liked the simple warmth and coziness of S City much more.
And of course, how could Shen Fu not see right through Lin ShuYi? Shen Fu decided, after the restaurant was finished rebuilding, he would build a house right next to it. If Lin ShuYi wanted, he could live there, and Shen Fu would live with him. If Lin ShuYi wanted to visit H City, then that was fine too, Shen Fu had a house there as well. And regarding the matter of work, well, Shen Fu was afraid he’d just have to ask Anna to travel a bit more.
As Shen Fu drove up the street, and when the car was still a distance from Old Man Yang’s house, the two of them could already see Old Man Yang standing at his front door, waiting for them.
The moment the car door opened Lin ShuYi jumped up to give Old Man Yang a big hug. “Grandpa, we’re back.”
Old Man Yang patted Lin ShuYi’s back warmly. “Quickly then, come in and wash up, it’s time to eat. I just finished cooking, so I stepped out for a quick look, and here you are already!”
Shen Fu greeted Old Man Yang as well as he got out of the car, then began to unload the stuffed trunk.
Old Man Yang glanced over, and thought all the stuff in the trunk were the goods they had originally brought to H City with them, that they didn’t end up using. “Xiao Fu, did the two of you not visit your home?”
Shen Fu shook his head. “We didn’t go. But when my grandfather visited where we were staying, I gave him all the gifts we packed to take home with him. He said the food tasted very good.”
Originally, Old Man Yang wasn’t planning on asking any questions. He just thought if the gifts didn’t get delivered, then they didn’t get delivered, but hearing Shen Fu say this he began to feel a little bit embarrassed. “Oh, it was nothing. There wasn’t anything expensive, just some local specialities. As long as your grandfather liked them then it’s all good, it’s all good.” Then a thought struck Old Man Yang, and he asked, “If all the goods you packed were delivered already, then how come you brought so many things back?”
Shen Fu took another box out of the trunk. “These are all gifts Xiao Yi bought for you.”
“What are you doing buying me so much stuff? I’m not a child, I don’t need any snacks to coax me ah.” Old Man Yang said with a lighthearted tone. However, taking a closer look at all the goods Shen Fu was unpacking, it really was mostly food products. Just Lin ShuYi’s style.
“It’s really good food, grandpa, you should try some.” As he spoke, Lin ShuYi went to help Shen Fu, picking up a box and walking in the front yard.
“Xiao Yi gege, Xiao Fu gege, you’re back!” Came a female voice from behind Old Man Yang. “I missed you guys to death! Did you bring back any gifts for me? Any delicious food?”
Xian Wan hopped out of the house, and only then did Lin ShuYi notice that it wasn’t just Old Man Yang at home. Xian Wan’s grandmother, Xian Wan’s mom, and Xiao Wan’s dad were all here, seated together at the table and waiting for them to return home.
Xiao Yi patted Xian Wan’s head. Clearly, he was only one year older than her, but he still spoke like an adult, “Mhm. I brought back a ton of delicious snacks.”
Lin ShuYi walked in and greeted everyone, as Shen Fu and Old Man Yang finished unloading everything in the car into the house.
“Alright. Now that everyone’s here, it’s time to eat!”
After the meal, Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu weren’t in much of a rush to return to their place, so they went to take a look at the restaurant’s reconstruction.
From the outside, the restaurant looked like a historical building, built decades ago. It stood out from all the other buildings in the area. At the front was a traditional round wooden entrance, with the place above the entranceway where a sign would be was still empty. It wouldn’t be until the restaurant’s reopening that the sign would go back up.
Just inside the entrance was a small courtyard, enclosed by the outer walls of soft blue-ish bricks and light green roof tiles. It was a very simple, but elegant appearance. A stone path crossed the center of the small courtyard, lined on both sides by a long arbor. Lin ShuYi was planning to plant a few grape vines, which should grow along the rattan arbor all the way to the front of the restaurant proper at the end of the path. When the season came and the grapes matured, they would hang from the leafy green arbor, beautiful and delicious.
At the end of the path was the main hall of the XiQin restaurant, split into two levels. It was all designed mimicking traditional architecture form historical times, build from natural wood. Some of the wood was painted with a clear varnish, and some with a muted red. Although the wood and the paint were close in color, they were distinct enough to stand out, and matched each other harmoniously. Altogether, the restaurant looked elegantly traditional, yet tastefully dotted with a few modern features here and there.
The second floor was split into a series of beautifully designed rooms, each distinct from one another. Since it was a small, family restaurant, not only did the dishes have room to stand out with unique characteristics, the architecture did as well. What made the design and interior decorations of the second floor so special was that Lin ShuYi had picked most of it himself, pulling from his memories of his past life in Da Yan.
Because the reconstruction was almost finished, the final appearance of the restaurant was already evident. Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu walked around, with the designer following behind them, an endless flow of eloquent descriptions rolling off his tongue. Many of the design ideas for the second floor had been provided by Lin ShuYi, so he received no end of praise from the designer during the tour. Lin ShuYi didn’t mind it at all, but Shen Fu felt his mood starting to sink.
Lin ShuYi was happy from the praise, but the designer’s bright eyes, never leaving Lin ShuYi’s face, made Shen Fu very unhappy.
However, despite this, Shen Fu was still able to appreciate all the details of the restaurant’s renovation. It was hard not to see Lin ShuYi’s natural talent in this field. Although the restaurant’s architecture was almost finished, most of the interior was still not decorated, but Shen Fu felt that once it was, the restaurant would no doubt awe any customer that stepped foot inside.
As Shen Fu took in the quaint, familiar restaurant, all the more beautiful after the redesign, he felt that, even if in the beginning, he had supported this restaurant because it was something that made Lin ShuYi happy, somewhere along the line, his feelings had changed. Now he felt that this restaurant was something special too. Now he supported it because he knew that it was absolutely something important, and it would no doubt have a prosperous future.