Despite being a patient at the moment, the severe lack of manpower in the government forced Nan Ge Er to enter the kitchen yet again…
Usually, after a certain someone’s official business was completed, that someone still had to do the laundry and clean the office, and due to that, the poor guy was kept busy till the wee hours of the night. Therefore, Nan Ge Er understood his importance in the government— Look at Mo Shu-xiansheng; he is too busy to even take a breather!
Speaking of which, although Mo Shu’s daily breaks were always short and he only had two regular meals, he was full of energy all the time; how did he even survive with that? …Ugh, alright. In truth, he had slightly more than the usual two meals that a typical person would, as he’d occasionally pull out a few sweet snacks to fill his mouth.
Ever since the living standards in the government office improved, Nan Ge Er would prepare a bunch of sweet foods for Mo Shu as snacks. After going out for a stroll in the morning, Nan Ge Er squatted in the kitchen to strain beans. After a day of rest, he felt much better.
There were no peanuts, melon seeds, or anything like that in this world, so Nan Ge Er decided to make more snacks for the first month of the lunar year. The beans had actually been cooked a few days prior, and since a few days had passed since he fainted, he was initially worried that the beans submerged in the syrup would be too sweet. A taste test after he tried straining the beans proved him wrong; it tasted not that bad.
The beans submerged in the syrup were hidden away beforehand by Nan Ge Er—Or else there probably wouldn’t even be a single drop of syrup left in the pot now.
These beans were rather big. However, the locals rarely used them in dishes as they weren’t quite flavourful. The beans were usually mixed in together with rice instead. Nan Ge Er had had them before when he was in Fang Jun. Even though he had felt that the methods of eating beans could be improved at that time as well, he really didn’t have the time for experimentation. Regardless of how much savory food he had eaten back then, he didn’t hold that much impression of them. Now that he thought about it, the ones he remembered the most were the various snacks from his previous faraway world instead.
The brown sugar boiling on top of the stove was giving off a fragrant smell at the moment. Noticing that the brown sugar was nearly done melting, Nan Ge Er quickly stopped what he was doing, before carrying and pouring the plate of stir-fried beans into the wok that was filled with brown sugar syrup. With a spatula, he stirred them evenly.
That was still quite labor intensive, so Nan Ge Er took a few short breaks during the stirring. Upon noticing that it was almost done, he strenuously carried the wok up, placed it aside to cool, then switched to another batch while boiling water.
He wasn’t adept in cooking. Although he couldn’t be considered a failure as a cook, he could only cook a few simple dishes. As for the dishes for the family reunion dinner, it was said that Mo Shu had already spoken about it with others; the kitchen aunty would come over to prepare them tomorrow.
The beans were strained out, and the syrup was leftover to be used afterwards— He believed that even if he just gave a cup of syrup to Mo Shu, he would still lap it up joyfully…
While he was resting, the kitchen door was suddenly pushed open as Advisor Zhu Xi stepped in.
Spotting Nan Ge Er sitting beside the stove, Zhu Xi was stunned a bit as well, “Xiao Nan, why are you here instead of taking a proper rest?”
“Preparing stuff for the celebration of the New Year.” Nan Ge Er smiled bitterly, “It was delayed for quite a few days, it will be too late if I don’t prepare it soon.”
Upon hearing this, Zhu Xi rolled his eyes, “Let it be, that Mo Shu fellow will finish them.” Closing the doors, he strolled over, “He was still able to celebrate the New Year without your help in the past, I didn’t see him starving to death then.”
“The government office has me in it now.” Nan Ge Er laughed, “I don’t really have such a strong vitality as Mo Shu.”
“True enough.” Zhu Xi agreed, walking towards him, glancing at the beans and syrup, and then at the honeyed beans, “What are those?” he asked as he reached his hand over for a touch.
“Don’t use your hand.” Nan Ge Er immediately tried to stop him, standing up. This is no joke; what if that fellow’s claws dirtied them? As a result of standing up too abruptly, his vision went black, so he fell over involuntarily.
“Oh!” Zhu Xi instantly helped him up.
At the same time, the door was pushed open by Mo Shu. It only happened due to Nan Ge Er’s frail body, thus after being caught by Zhu Xi, he swiftly recovered his vision, shifting his head to the door.
Mo Shu was holding onto something white and glaring at him at the moment—more specifically, he was glaring at Zhu Xi.
Zhu Xi looked at Mo Shu’s expression, “What are you glaring at, are you planning on eating someone?”
Mo Shu strode over speedily, slapping away Zhu Xi’s hands before using his own to help Nan Ge Er up, “Even if I’m going to starve to death, I would only kill you to accompany my death, instead of eating you to fill my hunger.” Placing a fluffy white thing on Nan Ge Er, he continued, “What are you trying to do to my Nan Ge Er, and my snacks?”
The fur coat around my neck is of superior quality. Flawlessly white without a shred of dirt, exceptionally soft and warm.
The white fur coat didn’t weigh much, but when he was wrapped in it, his whole body thoroughly warmed up. The material was comfortable, soft as silk. His past self probably never even had such a precious fur coat before, it definitely could be considered a priceless treasure.
Therefore, the entire wealth of the government isn’t even enough to buy this single fur coat, so where in the world did Mo Shu get it? Don’t tell me this fellow killed and robbed someone to obtain it?!
Nan Ge Er was inextricably submerged in his own imagination, and thus didn’t register what Mo Shu said at all.
“Your Nan Ge Er? Your snacks?” Zhu Xi scoffed coldly, “Is there your name on his body? Or on all of these?” He pointed at the snacks, “Do they have your name on it?”
“Everything in my domain belongs to me,” Mo Shu answered matter-of-factly. “Even you belong to me.” He gave a slanted glance with an arrogant attitude, “Can you even deny that?”
Nan Ge Er only caught those few words when he regained his senses. They hit him like a sudden bolt of lightning, making him confused and disordered.
… So, they have that kind of relationship, huh? No wonder Zhu Xi speaks so casually to Mo Shu. Because he belongs to Mo Shu? Oh my god, no, no, I’m probably overthinking it. Does it mean that usually, when Mo Shu and Zhu Xi are together, they are doing that, and this, and then that? Ugh, no no no, it’s definitely just me overthinking.
Nan Ge Er unintentionally shook his head, warning himself internally to stop his thoughts from running wild. However, he realized that his warning had no effect on his thoughts, which went on a rampage…As expected, have I really been infected by Guang Tian’s gossiping mindset? Nan Ge Er felt a little depressed in his heart as he thought about it.
Only after the two of them finished quarrelling did they realize the source of their quarrel was looking at them weirdly, and even shaking his head in confusion from time to time.
“…” Mo Shu and Zhu Xi looked at each other.
“What’s wrong?” Zhu Xi couldn’t help but ask.
“… Ugh, nothing,” Nan Ge Er stammered a little as he spoke.
“… That’s very suspicious.” Zhu Xi sized up Nan Ge Er solemnly.
“It’s really nothing.” Nan Ge Er replied sternly— He felt that it would be better if he feigned ignorance regarding something that he shouldn’t know.
He changed the subject after that, asking Mo Shu, “Mo Shu-xiansheng, this.” Pointing at the coat on him, he lifted his head up, looking at him, “What is it for?”
“For you,” Mo Shu gave a short reply, before turning to Zhu Xi and commanding, “Get back to work if there is nothing else.”
“Tch,” Zhu Xi scoffed rudely, turning around, opening the door and leaving.
“For, for me?” Nan Ge Er widened his eyes in shock, “Where did you get it?!” His first reaction was not to ask why it was for him, but instead, was to ask Mo Shu where he had obtained such a fine fur coat – since he knew too well about Mo Shu’s financial situation.
“Hunted.” Mo Shu used a matter-of-fact tone, even giving a ‘didn’t-you-see-that-yourself’ expression to Nan Ge Er.
Although Nan Ge Er had numerous possible guesses in his head, Mo Shu’s reply still stunned him a little.
“Hunted?” he repeated in a daze.
“That day during the winter, the roasted meat was from that animal.” Mo Shu explained, “The fur coat was made after the animal was skinned, and it was only completed today.”
“That really tough meat!” Nan Ge Er remembered. The most significant impression he had had about the food that day was that it was tough –even after he switched back to the meat that didn’t contain hardening powder.
“Mn, the meat that had hardening powder added to it.” Mo Shu concluded.
“Oh…” Indeed, that animal was a white, giant beast that he has never seen before. Around two months had passed since the winter solstice.
Was it in the process of being made since then? As he thought about it, Nan Ge Er smiled subconsciously, gently stroking the soft fur, “Thank you.”
… Although he was wearing such an extravagant coat while working on the snacks in the kitchen, he did know that for Mo Shu, the sole purpose the coat served was to keep him warm, far from being precious.
Thus, he responded to Mo Shu’s request as well, wearing the white fur coat, rubbing over the charcoal black stove, and then serving the strained beans, “Want to taste-test them?”
Mo Shu eyes sparkled, a little cheerful as he replied, “Yes.” After that, he used the chopsticks beside the pot to pick a bean up to his mouth. Raising his eyebrows, he picked up another one. And again, and again, and again, and again…
“Enough.” Nan Ge Er stopped him timely, “If you eat any more, there will be none left to eat when we watch in1 during New Year’s Eve the day after tomorrow.”
“Watch in the New Year?” Mo Shu, who gulped down the bean in his mouth, was bewildered at first, before taking a look at Nan Ge Er. Then, as if a sudden realization overcame him, he uttered, “… Right, you will be watching in as well.”
His expression made Nan Ge Er somewhat confused.
“Mn, let’s save it for watching in the New Year.” This time, Mo Shu was surprisingly easy to persuade. He readily placed the chopsticks down before reaching out his hand to pat on Nan Ge Er’s head, “I’m off to work.”
… Why are you full of enthusiasm all of a sudden? Nan Ge Er cast a bemused look at the departing Mo Shu. The door was shut yet again.
“Oh, come to think of it, Mo Shu was here to deliver the coat, but what did Zhu Xi come here for?” he mumbled.
In the government study room, Zhu Xi lamentingly roared, “… Why did I come back just from that Mo Shu fellow’s words, I’m so hungry!”
1Watching in during New Year’s Eve (from Wikipedia): A tradition of going to bed late on New Year’s Eve, or even staying awake the whole night and morning, known as shousui (守岁), is practiced by Chinese as it is thought to add on to one’s parents’ longevity.