Wen Qing gazed out of the window as he sat in the car.
Yan Han glimpsed at Wen Qing, “Why didn’t you answer that girl’s question just then?”
“What did you want me to say?”
Yan Han replied with another question, “Then what did you want to say?”
“I don’t know.” After he finished speaking, Wen Qing closed his eyes and leaned back on the car cushion, emanating an aura that signaled he didn’t want to talk.
Yan Han looked at Wen Qing with a forced smile and stopped disturbing him.
Just when Yan Han thought Wen Qing had already fallen asleep, Wen Qing suddenly said, “If you ever get together with someone else, can you let me go?”
“So did you really think you could hide away from me for as long as three years?”
No one talked in the car.
It felt like someone was inside Wen Qing’s brain and stirring up his mind with a stick. Wen Qing clenched his teeth harshly.
As soon as they got back, Wen Qing ran to the bathroom and kneeled in front of the toilet as he threw up violently.
It wasn’t until he vomited up bile that he felt a little better.
Wen Qing leaned against the ice cold wall. His face was pale and his teeth constantly chattered.
Yan Han handed Wen Qing a cup of warm water before caressing his forehead, “Do you want to call a doctor?”
Wen Qing shook his head, “No need.” It was only after he grabbed the water and rinsed his mouth did the bitter taste in his mouth fade away slightly.
Yan Han wanted to lift Wen Qing up but Wen Qing tilted his head back and leaned against the wall with his eyes closed, “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine after I lean back for a while.”
Yan Han didn’t reply and silently stood to the side.
Wen Qing counted a few seconds in his head. He then took in a deep breath to stop himself from bursting out with strings of curses as he opened his eyes to look at Yan Han.
Yan Han bent down and lifted Wen Qing up, “You’ll catch a cold on the floor.”
Wen Qing almost couldn’t hold in his laugh.
Yan Han’s hand caressed Wen Qing’s waist when they slept at night.
Wen Qing shuffled over more to the edge of the bed. However, Yan Han’s movements didn’t cease as his hand travelled down past Wen Qing’s abdomen.
Wen Qing stopped Yan Han’s hand, “Let’s do it another day, I don’t feel well.”
Yan Han paused before he replied, “Now that you’re back, you can stop acting pretentious.”
Wen Qing’s mind instantly went blank as waves of thundering sounds constantly resounded beside his ear.
Wen Qing let go of the other’s hand and allowed Yan Han to do as he pleased.
Yan Han had been sexually abstinent for three years, and so he was slightly out of control with the strength of his movements. Wen Qing bit down on his bottom lip and did not make a single sound.
In the end, the man contently carried Wen Qing to go wash up, without discovering that Wen Qing didn’t even get turned on that night.
Recently, Wen Qing seemed constantly weary. He liked to be left alone, and would sit on the balcony and smoke cigarette after cigarette.
Yan Han thought he had to do something and so he presented Wen Qing with a photobook today.
Wen Qing took the book. It was Klein’s ‘New York’.
Wen Qing looked towards Yan Han and raised his brow.
“Do you like it?” Yan Han inquired with a gentle voice.
Wen Qing nodded his head and remained silent.
“You don’t seem very happy these days.”
Wen Qing held the cigarette in his mouth between his two fingers and replied, “I’m fine.”
“What do you want to eat?”
“Anything’s fine.” Wen Qing took the photobook and walked towards the study room.
Yan Han gazed at the back of Wen Qing’s figure and narrowed his eyes.
He was doing it on purpose. Why couldn’t things be the same as they were before? Was it because the other hadn’t forgiven him yet?
Didn’t he already agree to come back?
“Yan ZiChen is visiting tomorrow,” Yan Han suddenly announced at the dinner table.
Wen Qing’s body stiffened before he said in a composed manner, “Why?”
“I won’t be at home tomorrow. I thought you might get bored by yourself so I asked him to come and make desserts with you.”
Wen Qing lifted the corners of his lips, “Okay.”
When Yan Han slept with Wen Qing at night, Wen Qing bit down on his lower lip until a rivulet of dark red gradually trickled down.
Yan Han eased his movements and slowly rocked his hips.
He bent down and gently licked Wen Qing’s lips as he grazed past Wen Qing’s teeth, “You’re bleeding. Be good now and let go.”
Wen Qing shut his eyes tightly as though he didn’t hear the other.
Yan Han furrowed his brows and harshly thrusted at Wen Qing’s sweet spot.
“Ugh—“ Wen Qing couldn’t help but whimper.
“Be good. Stop biting.”
Wen Qing tightened his grip on the bedsheets before he stopped biting down on his lower lip.
Yan Han placed Wen Qing’s hands on his back, “Hug me.”
Wen Qing’s eyes were slightly out of focus.
He felt as though he was sinking in the sea, buried inside a stretch of azure blue, all alone and helpless.
On the sofa in the living room….
It was obvious that Yan ZiChen felt slightly awkward as he sat there.
Three years ago in the exact same spot, he had once sat beside Yan Han and cheerfully chatted with laughter.
Wen Qing squinted his eyes as he sized up Yan ZiChen.
Three years had allowed the boy in front of him to mature quite a bit. He didn’t seem so shy and easily flushed anymore.
“How have you been these days?” Even Wen Qing thought it was funny how he had to be the one to break the awkward silence with someone who was meant to keep him entertained.
Yan ZiChen nodded his head, “Not bad. Right now, I’m staying at school to teach after I graduate. I still sometimes go back to that shop to make desserts.” He paused and glimpsed at Wen Qing, “What about you Wen Ge?”
Wen Qing drank a mouthful of boiled water in the cup, “How well could I possibly be? Is merely living not enough?”
Yan ZiChen frowned, “Wen Ge, don’t be like this.”
Wen Qing gently blew on the hot water. Shrouds of vapour enwrapped his surroundings as he waited for Yan ZiChen to continue.
“Yan Ge really treats you well. Three years ago… he didn’t actually have any feelings for me.” Yan ZiChen lowered his eyes.
Wen Qing sneered, “You’ve already slept together and you’re still saying there are no feelings involved?”
“No no, that’s not it. I was the one who went to find Yan Ge that day.” Yan ZiChen tightened his fist, “The day you went to City H, Yan Ge had already told me that it was impossible between us. I… I wasn’t willing to let go.”
Wen Qing lifted the corners of his lips and signalled Yan ZiChen to continue.
Yan ZiChen gulped, “Yan Ge went to find you at the photography exhibition the very next day, but he later came back alone. I thought that something might have happened between the two of you…,” Yan ZiChen lowered his head, “So I thought I still had a chance. I went to find Yan Ge that night. It seemed like Yan Ge was in a very bad mood. When we did it… it felt more like he was venting out his anger. And then you came back.”
Wen Qing narrowed his eyes as he smoked a cigarette, at a loss of words.
“It’s been three years. Yan Ge has been single this entire time because he’s been waiting for you to come back.” There were even slights hints of solicitation in Yan ZiChen’s eyes.
Wen Qing placed the cup onto the coffee table and looked at Yan ZiChen, “Are you here to be a lobbyist?”
Yan ZiChen hurriedly shook his head, “No, I just hope for you and Yan Ge’s happiness.”
Wen Qing’s smile was full of mockery, “You still like him?”
Yan ZiChem remained silent.
Wen Qing laughed hysterically, “You fucking like him and yet you still come and wish us happiness? Is everyone a fucking Casanova? Do I need him to give me my own freedom? Do I need you to fulfill my happiness? Hahaha. You guys are so fucking ridiculous. So what am I? What am I!? A dog whose followed him for twelve years? Does it serve me right to be smacked in the face and then get given a sweet jujube, so I can just fucking shamelessly latch onto him and return obediently?!”
Yan ZiChen was taken back for a moment.
Wen Qing’s eyes suddenly grew cold, like a knife held against Yan ZiChen’s throat that prevented him from speaking. Wen Qing continued, “You can take Yan Han if you think he’s that great. In my eyes, he’s merely a dime a dozen. I won’t give a shit about him no matter how well he treats me. Don’t come and act as a lobbyist anymore. It disgusts me.”
This literally means to get smacked in the face and then get given a sweet jujube (red date). It’s a saying that means to punish someone (smack in the face) but then quickly give them a reward/something good (sweet jujube), like the carrot and stick metaphor in english. I decided to keep the original wording instead of using the English equivalent metaphor to better mirror the author’s work as I believe the literal translation flows in this particular scenario.
When Yan Han came home at night, Wen Qing was sitting on the sofa and watching television.
An english documentary on CCTV 9 was broadcasting.
Yan Han frowned as he felt slightly panicked, “Did Yan ZiChen leave already?”
Wen Qing turned his head around to look at Yan Han, “Otherwise? Should he feel grateful for my kindness and stay back for dinner?”
Wen Qing’s tone made Yan Han’s temple throb. He took in a deep breath and looked back at the other, “Wen Qing, let’s talk.”
Wen Qing calmly gazed at Yan Han with obvious irritation in his eyes, “Do you think it’s still necessary for us to talk?”
Yan Han’s figure paused for a moment, “There is.”
“If you say there is, then so be it.” Wen Qing picked up a fruit knife and started to peel an apple.
Yan Han sat to one side and waited for Wen Qing to start the conversation.
“Aren’t you going to ask what Yan ZiChen said when he came?”
“I can pretty much guess what he said.”
Wen Qing lifted the corners of his lips, “You asked him to help intervene for you?”
“Not intervene, I just wanted you to know a few things.”
“I’m stupid. Can you smart people make your words easier to understand?”
It was a long time before Yan Han said, “You didn’t go to that photography exhibition.”
“Are you talking about the time when I deceived you so I could run away to another city by myself to sleep together with Wen Bai for a few days?” Wen Qing held back his laughter.
Yan Han’s expression didn’t look too good. He sat there in stillness, “Can we live a good life together from now on?”
Wen Qing placed the items in his hands down onto the table. He was laughing so much that he was on the verge of tearing up, “Yeah. See, you sleep with other people and since I’m not so clean either, doesn’t that mean our past mistakes make us even-steven?” Without waiting for Yan Han to reply, Wen Qing continued to say, “Then say, if our relationship is already so fucking dirty, why do we still need to be together?”
Yan Han pressed his lips tightly together as he tasted astringent bitterness in his throat.
Wen Qing stood up and towered over Yan Han as he gazed at him, “Tell me, why do we still need to be together? Why do you still fucking want me to come back!?” After he finished speaking, he then nodded his head in sudden realisation, “Oh oh, that’s right, I forgot I still owed you. I was being a bitch and acting all horny to try get into someone else’s pants. Why aren’t you so great? You don’t want to cheat so you reject others. It’s always other people begging you to fuck them. In the end, you’re afraid that I’ll misunderstand you, so you get someone else to explain everything to me. Okay, so everything’s my fault right? I owe you! Why don’t you fucking tell me!? Am I correct!?” Wen Qing pulled at Yan Han’s collar as he raged on the verge of breaking down, with completely bloodshot eyes.
Yan Han held tightly onto Wen Qing’s hips to stop him from struggling. Yan Han gazed into Wen Qing’s eyes, “You’re tired. You should have a good rest.”
Wen Qing suddenly gave up on struggling. His eyes were blank and helpless, “Can you please let me go?”
Yan Han turned his head to the side with much difficulty, “You need to rest.”
Wen Qing’s tears felt like they had frozen his heart.