Your Distance - 31
“Pfft—” Ting Shuang spit out a mouthful of beer and almost choked to death, “Cough, cough…”
Bai Changyi habitually picked up the napkin and was about to help Ting Shuang clean up, but after picking it up, he only cleaned his hand.
After all, Ting Shuang’s father was sitting across them.
Bai Laoban had lived for thirty-six years, but he hadn’t encountered such a difficult problem: his boyfriend’s father wanted to be his brother.
“Sorry, sorry…” Ting Shuang took a napkin and cleaned up the area he had gotten wet. “Dad… don’t make it difficult for my professor… He’s lived in Germany for so many years, and isn’t used to referring to others by ‘brother’… See, if you do that, then I’d have to call him uncle… My professor is so young…”
Ting Shuang always prepared two kinds of faces.
When it was just him and Bai Changyi: Old professor. Old hooligan. Old beast.
In front of others: My professor is so young.
Zhu Ao listened, but didn’t mind it, waving his hand, “I’ve been disrespectful…”
Bai Changyi picked up his wine glass, took a sip, and said, “We’ve seen the booth in the morning, and all was well. In the afternoon, you can take a walk around Herrenhäuser Gärten. It’s a Baroque-styled garden built in the 17th century.”
Everyone respectfully asked about the history of the construction of the Great Garden of Hanover, quickly leaving the topic of Brother Bai and Brother Zhu behind.
Ting Shuang wanted to laugh, but held it back. He called the waiter over and spoke in a low voice, please give the gentleman beside him a glass of sparkling water.
With the family reunion earlier, he had been too nervous to notice that Bai Changyi had also ordered the same beer as everyone else.
After ordering, he realised that the act of ordering a single glass of water for Bai Changyi was too intimate. Fortunately, the German translator hired by RoboRun for the exhibition would only arrive tomorrow. No one at the table understood German. They all spoke English, so no one knew what he just said. He asked the waiter to wait for a while, then asked the others if they wanted something else to drink. After asking, he helped everyone order, before feeling more relaxed.
He went around, considerately ordering for everyone, but solely forgot to order another drink for himself.
Ting Shuang was used to drinking coffee after eating.
When the waiter was about to leave, Bai Changyi helped Ting Shuang order a cup of white coffee in a low voice.
That sentence had two meanings.
“Please give my friend a cup of white coffee.”
Or, “Please give my boyfriend a cup of white coffee.”
In German, ‘male friend’ and ‘boyfriend’ had the same word, so no one knew which one Bai Changyi meant.
When Bai Changyi spoke, his face was expressionless.
After hearing that, the waiter glanced at Ting Shuang to confirm the subject.
Ting Shuang’s face flushed red when he heard it, and picked up his wine glass, downing the beer to hide it.
Old hooligans, once again saying such coquettish things with a straight face.
Zhu Ao looked at Ting Shuang and asked, “Ting Shuang, why is your face so red?”
“Mm… I think I drank too much…” Ting Shuang explained forcefully.
Zhu Ao said, “Since when do you flush when you drink? I don’t remember you flushing at all when you drink.”
“Well, maybe German beer is stronger…” Ting Shuang lowered his head to look at the white foam at the bottom of the cup. He really looked like he had drunk too much, otherwise why would the corners of his mouth keep tilting up.
After the meal.
The people from RoboRun got ready to go back to their room for a rest, then set off to see the Great Garden.
Ting Shuang was called over by Zhu Ao for a private talk for more than an hour, before he returned to Bai Changyi’s room.
“Uncle Bai, I’m back…” Ting Shuang said.
Bai Changyi, who was reading on the sofa, raised his eyes. “Have you finished your talk with Brother Zhu?”
Ting Shuang ran over and sat on Bai Changyi’s lap, “Mm… We finished talking… I quarreled with my dad again. I always used to quarrel with him, just to regret it after…”
“Quarrel about what?” Bai Changyi asked, casually rubbing the back of Ting Shuang’s neck. The young boy’s slightly protruding shoulder blades and spine felt sexy.
“In the past, he didn’t like the way I did things, and I didn’t like the way he did things,(1) so we quarreled over it… What could we quarrel about now… It wasn’t easy for him to wait until I broke up with Liang Zhengxuan, and refused to let me continue fooling around with men… I told him that I just like men. If not Liang Zhengxuan, there would still be others. Then we started quarreling…” Ting Shuang muttered those few sentences, and realised that he should explain his familial relationships to Bai Changyi. “You probably didn’t expect Zhu Ao to be my dad… I took my mum’s surname. It’s not because they changed their surnames after divorcing. It was my dad and mum who agreed to have two children when they got married, even if they had to pay the fine.(2) Regardless of whether the child was male or female, the older one would use my mum;s surname, and the younger one would use my dad’s surname… In the end, when my mother was pregnant with their second child, my father… just, um, got together with someone else and even got her pregnant. After my mum found out, she aborted the child out of anger. She actually didn’t have a job at that time, but she was firm in her decision to divorce my dad… At that time I wasn’t even in primary school yet. My dad married that aunt later and had my little brother. When I was younger, I used to curse my dad and auntie all the time. I cursed them quite harshly, and wasn’t willing to play with my brother… I probably waited until I was in secondary school before I started treating them better. My mum had already let it go long ago, and was living a very happy life. She told me that I didn’t quite understand their affairs, so I shouldn’t get involved meaninglessly.”
After saying all that, Ting Shuang hugged Bai Changyi’s neck and said seriously, “But I think… if you fall for someone else, then you have to tell me. You can’t hide it, this is the most basic… No one can promise forever, but you can at least promise that you’d be honest…”
Bai Changyi said, “Your expectations of me are quite low.”
Ting Shuang said cleverly, “Bai Laoban this is what we call… By promising honesty, we strive for forever.”
Bai Changyi’s smile spread to the corners of his eyes, “Mm.”
Ting Shuang hugged Bai Changyi and giggled for a while, and then became frustrated again, “How can I tell my dad about us in the future… My mum accepted it a long time ago, but if my dad knew about us, we’d probably have a big argument again…”
Bai Changyi said, “Have you asked him why he wouldn’t accept it.”
Ting Shuang was startled, “I don’t think so… We were quarreling, so we could only yell…”
As soon as he mentioned those things, father and son would argue, and Ting Shuang couldn’t control his temper towards his father well. As soon as he opened his mouth, he would be cursing, and all that would come out was “What’s it to you”. How would he care about asking why?
“You don’t solve disagreements like that,” Bai Changyi guided him patiently, “What is the purpose of arguing?”
“The purpose…” Ting Shuang said, “I don’t know the purpose. We just argue when we don’t agree.”
Bai Changyi said, “You can’t not know. If you don’t know, then think of it now.”
“Mm…” Ting Shuang thought for a while, “In order to… win?”
Bai Changyi said, “Wrong. Think again.”
“Um…” Ting Shuang thought hard, “Just… anyways, I just don’t want him to care about it… but he just insists on it… I want to convince him…” As he talked, he suddenly got a flash of inspiration, “Reach a consensus. We argue to reach a consensus.”
Bai Changyi said, “Mm, then did you reach a consensus just now.”
“No…” Ting Shuang felt like his problem was completely unsolvable. “It’s not that I don’t want to reach a consensus. I want to reach a consensus too, but this conflict’s too deep-seated. We have fundamentally different thoughts on this. He just can’t accept that I like men, and I just like men. How can we reach a consensus?”
The more the kid spoke, the more grumpy he became.
Bai Changyi smoothed down Ting Shuang’s hair and pointed out, “If you can’t reach a consensus at this level, then go deeper. If you still can’t reach a consensus, then continue going deeper level by level. As long as you’re human, you can always reach a consensus at the bottom of it all.”
Ting Shuang thought for a while, and said, “A basic consensus that I share with my father… Yeah, we have one. He wants me to live a good life, and I want to live a good one too. He can’t possibly want me to live a bad life… but just why does he think that I can’t do that with a man?”
Bai Changyi said, “Then why don’t you ask him?”
“I…” Ting Shuang’s fur slowly softened(3), “I don’t know… Maybe… Maybe once we start quarreling, I just lose my temper and don’t give him a chance to speak… I should really ask him about how he thinks… Next time we won’t quarrel, we’ll talk about it nicely…”
Bai Changyi said, “You’re pretty sensible when you’re with me, why aren’t you the same once you step out?”
Ting Shuang buried his head in Bai Changyi’s chest and said, “Who’s as great as you… Why are you so great…”
After burying his head for a while, he raised it and the two of them shared a long kiss.
After the kiss, Ting Shuang caught a glimpse of the book that Bai Changyi was reading on the sofa. He picked it up, “What book are you reading? Let’s read it together.”
He let Bai Changyi lean on the armrest of the sofa, and sat down within his embrace. The two of them were stacked together, and four long legs stretched out to the other armrest of the sofa.
Bright sunlight shone in from the window behind them, and just happened to shine on the cover of the book.
” ‘How Democracies Die’… Um, ‘How Democracies Die’(4)… It’s so serious…” Ting Shuang stuffed the book into Bai Changyi’s hands, “I guess I won’t understand… You can read, I’ll sleep in your arms for a while…”
So he got into a comfortable posture, leaned his head on Bai Changyi’s chest and closed his eyes.
Bai Changyi hugged Ting Shuang with one arm, and used the other to hold up the book.
When he opened up the first page of the book, the real book title written on the front page was not ‘How Democracies Die’ as it was on the book jacket, but ‘How to Handle Dating a Much Younger Man Correctly’.
It was a good habit to give your book a jacket. Mm.
(1) the phrase for ‘didn’t like the way I/he did things’ could also be literally translated into “I/he didn’t find the things he/I did pleasing to the eye” but no one says that in english so :/
(2) China used to have the one child policy~
(3) Um, for this part, imagine like Ting Shuang’s ‘fur’ being all raised like when a cat raises its hackles. And he’s kinda calmed down now so his ‘fur’ softened haha
(4) Here, Ting Shuang just repeated “How democracies die” in Chinese after translating it
Uploading an extra chapter today (27th July) since it’s Bai Changyi’s birthday! Yay! Me rushing this out as a way to celebrate the best ML’s birthday, even while I die in a pile of my schoolwork HAHA Hope you enjoyed~ Let’s wish Changyi a happy birthday uwu
Comments for chapter "31"
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