WeChat is a Chinese messenger app, kinda like WhatsApp. (I may have forgotten to mention this last time)
After Han Yang finished taking his exams, he did not return home. This was because he still had to go over to Dr. Chen Qingqing’s, since his course of treatment had yet to be completed.
Normally, when returning to his home town, Han Yang would take a train given how affordable its fare was, in addition to student only having to pay half the price. So, despite the fact the journey was indeed much longer, he would also have the opportunity to get a bed. But this time around, Helian Qing had given him a plane ticket, and when the day for him to leave came, that man also dropped him off at the airport.
Helian Qing had originally intended to go back with him, but at the end of the year his company had become considerably busier, and for the time being, he was still unable to leave. So all he could do now, was wear a sour-look on his face as he sent the other person off.
“You always look so handsome, don’t put such a sour look on your face, okay?” Han Yang pinched the man’s cheek, teasing him.
Helian Qing, in turn, looked at him expressionlessly, silently displaying his irritation.
Using the man’s shoulders for support, Han Yang—tiptoeing slightly—kissed the other on his lips, coaxing, “I’ll be back at the start of the new school term. You’ll be fine at home with Aunty Su and the others.”
With the lad’s kiss Helian Qing’s complexion got a little better, but upon hearing what he said afterwards he simply felt unhappy, asking stiffly, “The start of the school term?” When you leave now there’s still almost a month before the semester begins.
“I want to spend more time at home with Grandpa.” Han Yang squeezed the man’s hands held within his own, “You know he’s the only one at home, and it’s very lonely there.”
Helian Qing hummed, changing the topic, “Have you thought it over?”
Han Yang listened to him as he asked this again, coughing lightly, before saying, “First I’ll go back and talk to Grandpa.”
The last time he asked that question was at the press conference. Then on that same night he returned, pressed Han Yang against a wall to ask that very question once more. With regard to their wedding, Han Yang actually had no objections—in fact, it could be said he looked forward to it. After all, he too wanted to have a formal ceremony with his loved ones in attendance, but he also wanted to discuss it with his grandfather first. Since if he truly wanted to do this, he hoped that his grandfather would be there, and he would get the elder man’s blessings.
Helian Qing naturally understood the lad’s way of thinking, as well as knowing how important his sole relative was to him. If he had not, he would have kidnapped that Salted Fish and taken him to a church a long time ago!
Seeing the man’s lips pursed along with his silence, Han Yang pinched the corners of the man’s mouth with his fingers, smiling as he said, “I promise you, it’ll be soon. Grandpa is a very good person; I definitely will not turn my back on you.”
“Ha.” Helian Qing laughed coldly. “Who exactly would turn their back on who?”
“Don’t turn your back on me.” Han Yang immediately modified his last statement, “Satisfied now?”
Helian Qing was a bit satisfied at the moment, again reaching out to encircle the scarf Han Yang wore around his neck, saying, “Where a bit more layers when you return, and wait for me to come meet you.”
“What meeting…” the sharp gaze the man swept towards Han Yang made him switch his topic, “Alright, I’ll wait for you to come meet me.”
It was currently already the time for the security check, so Han Yang took his suitcase and said, “I have to go now. You should hurry and get back home, I’ll call you when I get there.”
With arms outstretched, Helian Qing took the other man into his embrace—hugging him vigorously—then let him go, shooing him away, “Go on, hurry!”
Han Yang thought the gesture he made to drive him off was rather funny. Pulling his suitcase behind him, he went over to the security check point.
Done with the inspection Han Yang took a look back, discovering Helian Qing still stood in the same spot with his gaze turned towards him. He waved at the man, who nodded in return, then made an “I call you” gesture with his hands before he turned and left.
Once he arrived at Y-City, Han Yang gave Helian Qing a call as soon as he was out of the airport. He told him he had already gotten off the plane, and was planning to head straight to the transfer station then back to his village. Helian Qing was presently in the middle of a meeting, so after urging him to be careful on his way there, he ended the call.
By the time Han Yang made it to the station the train had just arrived when Grandpa called, asking him when he planned on coming back home.
Han Yang had not mentioned to his grandfather that this day was the one he would be returning home because every time he went back, the elderly man would always wait for him at the entrance to their village. Han Yang would then worry about whether he had waited a long time, so for this reason he simply did not tell.
“I’m coming back today, and I’m already on my way.” Since he had already made it halfway there, Han Yang did not hide it.
“Really? Why didn’t you tell me? I should hurry and go buy some groceries to give you a tasty meal then!” Grandpa’s voice sounded very excited.
“There’s no need for you to rush, I’ll go with you when I get there,” Han Yang said with a laugh.
“Okay, alright,” Grandpa replied giddily. “Oh, by the way, you coming back today is really great, because there something I really need you to come back and confirm.”
“What is it?” Han Yang asked.
“I’ll wait until you get here to tell you, so let’s not talk about it now, alright—phone calls are pricey. Remember to be careful on your way, you understand right?” Grandpa kept him in suspense, but from the way he said it, it should be a good thing.
“Yeah. You shouldn’t come out to wait for me, okay,” Han Yang added before he hung up the phone.
After ending the call, he had planned on taking a nap until he saw there was a WeChat message Qing Gége had sent. Han Yang opened it to see that it was a picture of a salted fish carrying a bag on it’s back, walking under the sun.
Was this describing him? Han Yang laughed.
Salted Fish: Is your meeting over?
Qing Gége: Yeah. Where are you?
Salted Fish: I’m just about halfway there. Where did you get so many salted fish, huh?
Qing Gége: They’re kept at home.
Because of his clowning around, Han Yang held on to his phone and chatted along with him on WeChat. The account Helian Qing used was the one Han Yang had set up last time, where the name was just Qing Gége and the profile picture was a cartoon princess’ headdress. His, however, was named Saltfish, and his profile picture was a cartoon salted fish. For his signature, Han Yang had: My Qing Gége; while Helian Qing’s was: My Saltfish. One time, when he was in class, Han Yang had his chat with Helian Qing seen by She Zhang, who cried out “It’s burning my eyes” , before saying, “They won’t give us single fellas a way to survive at all!”
After messaging each other for a while, Helian Qing got busy with work again, so Han Yang put his phone back into his bag then got some rest.
Getting to the small town at the outskirts of the city took two hours, and following his arrival to this town, Han Yang went to find a motorcycle taxi to take him to his village.
When the vehicle arrived at the village’s entrance, Han Yang got off, then gave out a few snacks he brought back with him to the children of a couple families who lived near the entrance. Han Yang’s house was not far from the entrance, just about three to five minutes away. Plus, the road to the village was also paved, so dragging along a suitcase posed no difficulty for him as well.
Finally making his way to the front yard of his house, Han Yang pushed open the gate, calling out, “Grandpa!” then went in. Just as his call ended, a short old man wearing an army green cotton-padded coat along with a matching cap, came out from inside the house.
“Oh my gosh, my baby boy finally came back!” Grandpa giddily scuttled over to meet him, trying to take the the suitcase the lad had in tow.
Han Yang evaded his hands, grinning as he said, “I can carry it myself. Let’s get inside quickly, it’s too cold out here.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Get inside quickly and warm up by the fire. So, was the trip here cold?” Grandpa pulled him into the house.
“No, it wasn’t cold. I wore enough layers.” Han Yang grinned as he went inside with him, adding while walking beside him, “But, the house is also nice and toasty, and warming up next to you by the fire is the warmest of all.”
“That’s true. Grandpa will get you a baked sweet potato; have you had lunch as yet?” Grandpa asked.
“I have. You don’t need to busy yourself, if there’s anything I can…”
Han Yang’s words came to an abrupt halt. With one foot still outside the threshold, he stared at the two people inside the house for a while without the slightest reaction.
Seeing he was rather uneasy, the other party did not dare look at him while they stood beside the fireplace.
Han Yang pulled his suitcase inside, knitted his brows slightly, looking at them, “Why are the two of you here?”
Currently standing in that room were the two who used him to repay their debt to Helian Qing—his parents. Han Yang had thought he would never again lay eyes on them, even more so, that it would happen at his home.
Upon noticing his displeasure, those people grew even more anxious; avoiding his gaze by turning their attention towards his grandfather.
Grandpa pulled Han Yang aside, explaining, “Xiao Yang, these two guests just came to our place today, saying they wanted to find the son they had lost many years ago, and the description they gave of their child was remarkably similar to you at that age. They just happened to be are the village’s entrance when they ran into A’Gui’s wife, who just brought them over. I even asked them a few things about you, and it was also really similar! So can you check them out quickly to see whether or not they’re your mama and papa?”
“Xiao Yang…” the middle aged woman called out to him.
Han Yang threw her a glance, not responding, and instead turned to his grandfather to say, “Grandpa, didn’t I tell you not to bring any and everyone back home. You’re here alone, what if something happened to you?”
“No… we’re not…” the middle-aged man tried to explain but Han Yang interrupted him, stating: “I was not talking to you.”
The middle aged man was struck dumb, his mouth gaping, not knowing what to say.
Grandpa, ignoring that, added, “What could I do? A’Gui’s wife was here with me from the start, and only left just a moment ago.”
“Xiao Yang, you mustn’t misunderstand, we don’t have any other intentions. We were just celebrating the New Year and thought of coming to see you,” the middle-aged woman elaborated, her eyes carrying concern.
Han Yang did not look at her, choosing to help Grandpa take a seat before he said, “Now you’ve seen me, so now both of you can go.”
“Xiao Yang…” the middle-aged woman still wanted to say something, but Han Yang cut her off to say: “Leave.”
“Leave? What’s going on here?” Grandpa, not understanding the situation, asked. Turning to look at those three persons, before questioning Han Yang, “Xiao Yang, do you know them? Are they not your parents?”
“Yes-yes-yes! We are!” the middle-aged woman declared excitedly, fearing Han Yang would overrule them. “We are Xiao Yang’s—”
“Not anymore!” Han Yang interjected in a slightly raised tone, turning to look at the woman after he spoke, then repeated, “Now, you aren’t anymore.”
The middle-aged woman seemed to as if she were in contemplation, remained mum for a few seconds before craning her head downwards then covering her mouth; appearing to now be in tears. Beside her, the middle-aged man also wore a rigid expression, as he just stood there awkwardly.
“So are they or aren’t they, huh?” Grandpa was simply confused by them.
Hang Yang pursed his lips, not saying a word. But the middle-aged man, after a period of hesitation, then said, “Xiao Yang, we know we don’t deserve you, but we don’t want to do anything other than spend New Year’s with you.”
“New Year’s?” Han Yang repeated, then asked, “Then why, in all those years that have gone by, didn’t you come find me to celebrate the New Year? Since you were able to find me here now, why exactly were you unable to do so before?”
The man’s face was forced to fluster because of the younger man’s gaze, with even more shame forming within his heart, as he then hurriedly explained, “I know you still blame us for using you to repay out debts, but you must also understand that we were at the end of our ropes! Plus, despite the fact that Mr. Helian is a man, you being married off to him isn’t without benefits. You see, right not you may not be doing well but—”
“Shut up!” Han Yang yelled in anger, cutting him off, looking back at his grandfather who did not understand, then shouted towards those people to drive them out: “I told you to leave my house, now!”
“What debt? What man?” Grandpa held on to a few key words.
“It’s alright, Grandpa. You don’t have to worry.” Han Yang patted the older gentleman’s shoulder.
As a man who lived most of his life, Grandpa had seen quite a lot of people and things, so immediately—just from witnessing Han Yang’s attitude—he had discerned that they have already met. Besides that, he could also tell that those two had done something bad to Han Yang. Otherwise Han Yang, given his temperament, would be very unlikely to have treated them so coldly. Although he still did not know the specific details regarding the matter, he did however remember that his precious grandson may have been wronged, thus the shield over his heart exploded. Searching beside him, Grandpa grabbed hold of a broom and drove those people out. “Get the hell out! Go, get out, leave! Don’t be a nuisance in our home!” Literally shooing those people away, bringing the matter to a close.
“I’m so pissed.” Grandpa took a seat on a stool, panting, broom still in hand. “I went and invited those wolves into the house!”
Han Yang took the broom from the old man, putting it aside, then stroked his back.
After he caught his breath, Grandpa turned to the lad and asked, “What’s going on? Xiao Yang, are those two really your parents?”
Han Yang nodded. Although he did not want to admit it, they were however, his parents by blood.
“Then what did those things they said mean? Have you met them before?” Grandpa continued to ask.
“We met.” Han Yang sat beside him, then told him about the situation regarding his parents’ debt repayment.
“Utterly unconscionable !!”Finding out Han Yang’s birth-givers had used him to pay off their debt made Grandpa infuriated to the point where he rose to his feet, took up the broom, intending to chase after those people and beat them up, prompting Han Yang to hurriedly move to hold him him back.
“How could such a callous set of parents exist in this world!” Grandpa cursed. “They even went as far as using their own son as reimbursement!”
If it was before, maybe Han Yang would have felt sad, but now, he simply felt nothing at all. Not caring about one’s own blood relations was no different than saying they were not worth having one’s concern.
After ranted on for a good while, Grandpa stopped, recalling something else which prompted him to ask, “What was that ‘you being married’ thing that son of a bitch mentioned? Didn’t you repay the debt with labour? So why are you married again?”
Han Yang, rubbed his nose, then revealed he and Helian Wing had already registered their marriage.
“What?!” Grandpa jumped from his seat upon hearing wat the lad had said. “Did that guy force you? Grandpa will go sort him out!” Yet again going to grab his broom while Han Yang struggled to hold him back. “It’s alright, I’m alright. Grandpa, you have to listen to everything I have to say first!”
“Explain.” Grandpa sat down, resting the broom across his lap, wearing an “After you’re done explaining—I’m still gonna to go get him” look.
Han Yang was detailed in his explanation of the situation between Helian Qing and himself; putting a lot of emphasis on the part where Helian Qing made arrangements for a doctor to treat his legs, as well as the man’s own efforts to learn the massages to help him rub them.
Grandpa, still doubtful about the matter, asked, “Really? You’re not trying to trick Grandpa, right?”
“Really.” Han Yang replied in assurance. “Didn’t I mention to you before that I was having my legs treated, well the one who arranged it was him.”
“So, how are you doing now—did it work?” Grandpa reached out to rub Han Yang’s knee, asking regretfully, “Do they still hurt?”
“No, it doesn’t hurt. You don’t have to worry,” Han Yang said with a smile. After this stage of his treatment, to some degree his knee really did get better; and Dr. Chen had said if they kept at it, it would get much better in the future.
“That’s good, that’s really good,” Grandpa, feeling a sense of gratitude, nodded. From the beginning he had been distressed over Han Yang’s legs, and always blamed himself for not having run into Han Yang earlier.
Han Yang embraced him around his shoulders, saying, “Don’t worry, okay. He’s very good to me.”
Grandpa nodded, then asked, “Then why didn’t he come back here with you?”
“He’s busy at work. He’s been working overtime for the past few days,” Han Yang replied.
“Oh… Striving to better oneself is good thing,” Grandpa stated. “Didn’t you say a little while ago that his grandfather wanted to play a game of Chinese Chess with me?”
“Yeah. Lao Yezi heard that you taught me all of my chess skills, and wishes very much to be able to play a round with you.” Han Yang passed on Lao Yezi’s words.
Having heard him, Grandpa could not help but straighten his back and proudly declaring, “Of course I will! I’m someone who started playing chess when I was just six years old. When I have some time, I make sure to go find him to play a round or two and frustrate his spirit to no end!”
Witnessing such a fierce side coming from the older man, Han Yang fawned all over him—being swept away by his grandfather’s racket, and completely forgetting about his matter with Helian Qing.
Later that night when Han Yang was in bed, he video chatted with Helian Qing—not at all telling him that his grandfather already knew about them, as he planned to give him that surprise upon his return.
Following the end of their chat, Han Yang hugging a pillow, rolled around on his bed, discovering he could not fall asleep. This had only been the first day since his departure, yet he already began missing Helian Qing. Previously, being alone had felt good to him, but now, he had grown accustomed to sleeping as a pair; and to his surprise, even the covers felt a little cold.
Rolling around in a good few circles, Han Yang could not help but send Helian Qing another message via WeChat. Quite a while passed since the message had been sent with no response in return, so all he could then do was put aside his phone, and force himself to get some rest.
After some time, he really did manage to fall asleep; completely unaware that after Helian Qing returned from his bath then saw the message: “I can’t sleep without you”, would end up spending the rest of his night sleepless.
The next day, Han Yang had thoroughly come to understand the saying: a day apart seems like a lifetime . Everyday, without fail, he would video chat with Helian Qing, but he would also feel like it was not enough. Because he could not touch him, he missed Helian Qing’s embrace; because he could not feel him, he missed the heat of his body.
When the thought of there still being almost an entire month until he could meet the other man, Han Yang felt it was too hard to bear; but when he thought of going back earlier, he hated the idea of having to part with his grandfather so soon.
Those feelings carried on until the night of that very day when he received a call from Helian Qing. A strange feeling filled him the moment he saw the I’m coming call from the man, after all, they had just chatted a little while ago, why would he be calling all of a sudden.
“Why did you call me all of a sudden?” Han Yang answered the call and asked.
“Do I have to ask for permission to call you?” Helian Qing responded to his question with his own.
“Of course you don’t! For you, there’s a 24-hour standby,” Han Yang said in jest, poking the coal inside the fire pit with a poker.
“Good to know.” Helian Qing, now satisfied, paid his comment no mind to then ask, “Where are you?”
“At home, by the fire. Where are you? And how big did the rumour get?” Han Yang asked out of curiosity.
“Tch! The signal from there is too poor,” Helian Qing said with disdain, “Move to somewhere with a better signal, talking right now is too difficult.”
“Oh, wait a bit, I’ll go to the patio.” Han Yang stood up then went outside. When he got to the patio he asked, “Is it better now? It’s windy outside, can you hear me clearly?”
“I can hear you clearly, I can see you clearly too,” Helian Qing revealed. “Turn around, look to your nine o’clock .”
“What nine o’clock, what are you…” his words came to an abrupt stop, while his fingers were almost unable to hold onto the phone.
Outside the low wall bordering the yard, wearing a long black overcoat, with the dark grey scarf Han Yang had gifted him wrapped around his neck, was Helian Qing, who then said into the phone held in his hand, “It’s so damn cold.”
 养: yǎng: keep/support/raise. On the surface he’s saying the salted fish are raised/taken care of like pets or whatnot. But by now we all know this guy loves his word play.
 辣眼睛: là yǎnjìng: lit. hot (spicy/burning) eyes, meaning – seeing something you aren’t supposed to see. (Usually something indecent~)
 狼心狗肺: làng xīn gǒu fèi: lit. wolf’s heart, dog lungs. Meaning – cruel & heartless. (Shit people! Not shitty, people who are literal shit! Curse them both all the way to hell and back! *SPITS* *pelts broom*)
 一日不见, 如隔三秋: yī rì bù jiàn, rú gé sān qiū: lit. not seeing you for one day, seems like spending three autumns apart. Meaning, to miss someone so much a moment seems like forever.
 look to your 9 (o’clock), just means to look left. The others: 12-North (look in front), 3-East (to your right), 6-South (behind you). I’m at your six right now in spirit, don’t turn around:)