Chapter 13: First World (13)
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Although Bai Xu said he wanted to close his books and prepare for the college entrance examination, in fact, he did not really have to spend much energy on learning.
Even if he hired a professional manager to help him manage his company’s affairs, Bai Xu still had a lot of work to do personally, and more time was spent on how to accompany his lover. Since they could not meet every day, several hours of video phone calls were their daily routine. And because they hadn’t seen each other for four years, there were always endless topics between them. They shared their lives with each other and talked about what happened in the past four years— even a few hours were fleeting.
A few months later, during winter vacation, Bai Xu took Bai Duan out of the school and returned to the Bai family home together. After four years of absence, Bai Xu spent had another four-person Spring Festival.
When opening the door and seeing Bai Xu behind Bai Duan, the Bai’s parents almost wept with joy.
During this period, they had also been concerned about the vicissitudes of the Zheng family and learned how Bai Xu stepped up to that position and got a firm foothold. Others talked about it in an envious and jealous tone. What the Bai family cared about was how much pain Bai Xu had suffered and how tired he was.
Others wished they could have a son like Bai Xu, but the Bai couple, who had been the parents of the other side for six years, wished that the other side could grow up as ordinary as Bai Duan. Perhaps it was because the Bai family had never expected their son to become a dragon after the so-called ‘benevolent mother fell,’ even Bai Duan, who had been ignorant and naive seemed to have grown a little.
Well, they always felt that their silly son seemed to be spoiled more foolishly after he went to college in Beijing and met his brother again.
Although they had been thinking about Bai Xu in their hearts, four years still left a deep mark between them. Papa Bai and his wife blamed themselves for failing to protect Bai Xu and let him go through four painful years. They dared not to pretend to be his parents anymore. Of course, Bai Xu’s status as the Zheng family ruler at the moment had also deterred Papa Bai and his wife.
Four years had changed Bai Xu too much. When he stood gracefully beside Bai Duan in his white down suit and a long windbreaker, no one would believe that they were only a year apart.
Bai Duan still had a student’s appearance, young and tender, but Bai Xu entered the adult world, was even successful, and every move was full of extraordinary momentum. The Bai couple subconsciously placed him in the position of their peers, involuntarily using respect.
On the dining table, Mama Bai used chopsticks to cook for Bai Xu, and advised him to eat more, and Bai Xu also accepted the food quite refreshingly. He praised her ability with a slightly nostalgic tone, which made Mama Bai laugh happily. Papa Bai talked with him about things in the shopping mall. They spoke very happily and shared their own experiences and opinions without any privacy. For a time, they felt very sorry for each other.
On the contrary, Bai Duan, a small ancestor of the family, was entirely ignored by the Bai family. At any rate, Bai Xu had been paying attention to him, which did not make him a transparent man. After dinner, Bai Xu took the initiative to tidy up the dishes and chopsticks and smuggled Bai Duan into the kitchen to help him put the clean dishes and chopsticks in place.
Obviously, the brothers had been used to this kind of thing for a long time. They did not need any language to cooperate with each other. They also stood next to each other from time to time, murmuring softly, and seemed to be having fun.
Mama Bai stood at the kitchen door and looked at the brothers with a smile. She could not help wondering if their feelings were still as good as they were when they were young, maybe even better.
Looking at it, Mama Bai finally felt something was wrong.
She saw Bai Xu put his arms around Bai Duan’s neck, pull him to his bosom, and bowing his head, place a kiss on his forehead. Bai Duan seemed to take it for granted and rubbed his face against the other’s with a smile.
Suddenly, Mama Bai’s expression became strange. Bai Xu and Bai Duan were very close when they were young, kissing each other’s cheeks was a common thing, but when they went to elementary school, this kind of action gradually diminished, so the Bai couple didn’t pay much attention to it. Now they had grown up, did they start to relapse?
While Mama Bai’s brain was somewhat messy, the brothers who were washing the dishes turned their heads to see Mama Bai, but they did not show any unexpected or guilty expression. Instead, they greeted her very normally. One took her by the arm and brought her back to the living room to watch TV, while the other carried the washed fruit tray and followed her step by step.
Bai Duan and Bai Xu’s calm reaction made Mama Bai suppress her doubts again. Until it was time to go to bed, Bai Xu refused Mama Bai’s proposal to clean up his room, expressing his hope that he would still live with Bai Duan, saying it was ‘nostalgia for the past.’
Mama Bai instinctively wanted to refuse, but she always had a slight regret for Bai Xu, unable to toughen up in front of him, and eventually lost to the brothers.
Watching them wash and go back to bed, Mama Bai felt uneasy. She tossed and turned in bed for half a day, then quietly got out of bed and ran to the brothers’ door to listen, but found that there was no strange noise, which made her return to her bedroom with great concern.
Papa Bai was lying on the bed and reading. When he saw Mama Bai coming back, he took off his old glasses and looked puzzled. “What are you doing?”
“I feel a little awkward.” Mama Bai lifted the quilt and went to bed with a worried voice. “I always felt that between Duan and Xuxu, there was too much intimacy.”
“Didn’t they always do that?” Papa Bai yawned and pressed out the bedside lamp.
“But they were still young at that time! Have you ever seen seventeen or eighteen-year-olds who are about to grow up sticking together and kissing each other’s cheeks?” The more she thought about it, the more she felt wrong.
Papa Bai was silent for a while, “Xuxu has grown up. He knows what he wants to do and the way he wants to go more than most adults. Although we have nurtured him for six years, we have lost the qualification to discipline him when we succumbed to the Zheng family.”
“… I understand that.” Mama Bai answered sullenly.
“As for Duan, we have all seen his stubbornness.” Papa Bai sighed, “So the child who didn’t like learning, jumped a grade to find his elder brother in Beijing and got into the best university. To tell the truth, if it were me, I would not have the perseverance.”
Mama Bai was speechless.
“If you can discipline them, I will certainly support you, after all, this road is too difficult to walk. But the problem is, we can’t control either of these two children.” Papa Bai’s voice was helpless, “We have experienced a sad loss of a child, you have the heart to do it again? And this time, we may lose two children. We are old enough to withstand no more ups and downs than we were when we were young. As long as we have a family and a beautiful family, nothing else matters.”
“I know, I know…” Mama Bai’s voice choked. “I’m not an uncivilized person either. If it were the children of other people, I would definitely say, ‘all sexes are equal’… I just can’t bear to let them suffer, and I don’t want them to be criticized by others.”
Papa Bai turned over and took his wife into his arms. He patted her gently, “When the children are old, they must have their own lives. I think Xuxu is very good. They grew up from childhood. Even if they can’t be lovers, they will always return as brothers. Duan will not suffer, and Xuxu need not worry about it. He can protect himself and even Duan. We shouldn’t be too pessimistic since they’ve always had such a good relationship. Maybe they can stay together for a long time. On the contrary, if they are forced to separate, with the stubbornness of the two children, it will be impossible for them to not have a good life.”
Papa Bai seldom talked so much. Mama Bai leaned against her husband’s arms and listened to his comfort. Finally, her mood calmed down slightly.
The chatter in the room did not subside until late at night, but it was clear that the Bai couple who suddenly learned the news did not sleep soundly and woke up as soon as the sky brightened.
However, they did not expect that someone would get up earlier than they did.
When the couple washed and came to the living room, they found that Bai Xu had made breakfast and was serving it to the table. When he saw the Bai couple, he was not surprised at all. He smiled slightly, “Dad, Mom, are you awake?”
Papa Bai and Mama Bai had complicated faces. The child who once again mouthed an ‘uncle and aunt’ yesterday, now called out ‘mom and dad’ today. What did this mean in the end?
Mama Bai was not calmer than Papa Bai. She opened her mouth to ask, but was interrupted by Bai Xu, “I know what you want to ask. Let’s eat first, and we’ll talk after breakfast.”
Papa Bai pressed his wife’s shoulder, and they sat down in pairs and had an unpleasant breakfast. Afterward, he wiped his hands and looked at Bai Xu. “Xuxu, you and I will go to the study and have a chat.”
“Okay.” Bai Xu answered with a smile, but turned to the kitchen, brought out another breakfast and put it in front of Mama Bai. “Mom, little Duan should wake up now, but in winter, he’s usually lazy. Will you deliver this breakfast for me?”
Bai Xu’s tone, with natural strength, made her take over the plate subconsciously, and then she reflected over what she had done. It was embarrassing for a while. Fortunately, she did hope to be able to chat with Bai Duan alone. Without saying a word, she went to Bai Duan’s bedroom, just to see Bai Duan wrapped in the quilt wriggling on the bed, but he was unwilling to get out of the bed.
Mama Bai’s expression was more complicated— Bai Xu even mastered Bai Duan’s sleeping habits so accurately that she didn’t believe them at all. With a sigh, Mama Bai put the tray on the bedside table and sat by the bed and patted the quilt roll.
The quilt was twisted, and a vague voice of Bai Duan came out, “Brother, I don’t want to get out of bed, you feed me!”
Mama Bai drew her lips. She was so angry and felt that it was funny, so she said, “Who do you want to feed you?”
The quilt roll went stiff for a moment. After a moment, Bai Duan got out of the quilt silently and smiled at Mama Bai. “Good morning, Mom!”
After saying this, he immediately stared at one side of the plate and reached out to eat, but was gently patted by Mama Bai.
Bai Duan retracted his hand and complained of grievance in his eyes, while Mama Bai actually cushioned the paper towel, picked up the egg cake and handed it to his mouth, “Bah, eat!”
Bai Duan was frightened and felt he was not very well. He subconsciously avoided the food at his mouth and looked at Mama Bai like she was a ghost, “Mom? What have you been possessed by?”
“Don’t you want someone to feed you?” Mama Bai looked at him angrily. “Why? Your brother can feed you, but your mother can’t?”
Bai Duan grinned and did not know how to refute it, but he was no longer a child and could not accept his mother’s feeding calmly, so he had to reach out and grab the cake.
Fortunately, Mama Bai was not stubborn, as Bai Duan wished, she dropped her hands. Looking at Bai Duan eating breakfast, she sighed deeply, “Duan, you really decided to stay with Xuxu?”
Bai Duan didn’t expect his mother to come to the fore without even a bit of cushion. For a moment, he was so nervous that he swallowed the unchewed cake directly and almost choked on it. He patted his chest, for his own good luck, Bai Duan timidly raised his eyes to the calm Mama Bai, with his gaze and tone particularly firm, “… Well, yes, I want to be together for a lifetime.”
Mama Bai’s heart sank slightly. Four years ago, Bai Duan used this tone and look to express that he would study hard and go to Beijing to find his brother as soon as possible. At that time, they did not take it seriously, thinking that he had only three minutes of heat, but Bai Duan, no matter what difficulties he encountered, did not change his mind.
“When you are together, you will surely get a lot of different eyes and blame.” Mama Bai raised her hand and touched Bai Duan’s messy hair.
“I don’t care about that.” Bai Duan’s tone was relaxed, “What’s more, brother will protect me.”
“But in case you are separated, and he will no longer protect you?” Mama Bai was worried— she was obviously more concerned about her little son, who had been adequately protected and had not experienced any storms than about Bai Xu, who had been rubbed by the wind and frost to be indestructible.
“How can that be?!” Bai Duan pouted, and his tone was bright, “Brother can’t be separated from me, we will always be together!”
“Even if men and women fall in love and get married, they will break up and divorce. Aren’t two men more insecure?” Mama Bai tried to reason to her youngest son.
“Others are others, but brother and I are different from others!” A rebuttal of Bai Duan’s held discontentment.
Looking at her little son, who was confused by love, Mama Bai felt very sad and deeply regretted that she had made Bai Duan so naive and ignorant of the world. But the mistake had been made and could not be changed. Mama Bai sighed and pulled Bai Duan into her arms. “If XuXu bullies you later, don’t hide it and tell your mother, will you?”
Although he still didn’t take her words seriously, Bai Duan finally felt her worries and nodded, “Un, okay.”
Talking with her youngest son, and then embracing him, Mama Bai came out of the room and met Papa Bai and Bai Xu, who had also left the study. Obviously, the conversation between the two men went smoothly. Bai Xu could hardly hide his good mood of exultation, with a proud look of a spring breeze, while Papa Bai had a calm look and looked at Bai Xu with more identification.
Without asking, Mama Bai knew the result of the conversation and stared at them severely.
Papa Bai and Bai Xu were stared at and felt only bewilderment. Bai Xu touched his nose and silently accepted the contempt from his ‘mother-in-law’ towards her ‘son-in-law,’ while Papa Bai followed his wife in a gray way, trying to appease the fiery Mama Bai.
Watching the couple leave, Bai Xu turned his footsteps, pushed open the door to Bai Duan’s room, and showed a tender smile to his lover still on the bed.
Bai Duan looked at him, smiling brilliantly.