"Daddy, may I ask your honourable age?"
Editor(s): Amalea, FistFullOfDollars, Juurensha
Mama Zhou paused for a moment, then said, “Let me see your report card?”
Zhou Sheng said, “Not all the results are out yet; I didn’t fail anything.”
Mama Zhou was skeptical and took her phone out to make a call. Zhou Sheng said, “It’s the New Year, could you stop bothering him for just a moment? You’ll get to see him later.”
“Where is he?” Mama Zhou immediately began rummaging through her bag, “That’s why I said it was necessary to bring a few empty red packets when going out……wei! Waiter! Waiter!” After she couldn’t get anyone for a moment, Zhou Sheng had to ring the bell for her. But Mama Zhou went to one end of the room and just removed a bunch of red packets that were hanging on the mandarin tree.
Zhou Sheng once again motioned to the waiter to signal that it was alright. Mama Zhou took out a stack of hundred yuan new money, then smeared some saliva on a finger before counting them one by one. She stuffed them into a red packet and asked, “You’re going back tonight? Here’s the keys, I’m not going back.”
“I’m not.” Zhou Sheng said, “I’ll go find a place to play by myself.” As he spoke, he couldn’t help but narrow his eyes, glancing sideways at his own mother as he considered how to restrain her after the truth was out in the open so that she wouldn’t scratch Yu Hao’s face. Mama Zhou had even gotten a manicure specifically for today; glimmering rhinestones were affixed all over her nails, and it was nearly as horrifying as Medusa’s sharp nails.
Mama Zhou asked how much would be an appropriate amount to put in the red packet. Zhou Sheng was annoyed to death by all her questions, but Zhou Laichun still hadn’t returned. He said, “Whatever’s fine.”
Mama Zhou asked again how much his father usually gave Yu Hao in his red packets. Zhou Sheng thought it’s just giving my friend a red packet, yet you still want to compete with him. Neither of you will probably give anything later.
“Anything!” Zhou Sheng said, “Is the old man coming or not? If he’s not, I’m leaving! Stop counting your money, I can’t stand you anymore.”
Mama Zhou glared at Zhou Sheng. Zhou Sheng said, “The old man gave him 8,000 last year, just pack whatever ba.” So Mama Zhou took out all of the new money from her bag, placed it on the table, and continued counting.
After stuffing the red packet, Zhou Laichun finally came back. He had a long face when he entered and looked a bit worn out as he sat down at the host seat.
“Kidney deficiency?” Mama Zhou dove straight to the point, “Can’t screw the little beauties anymore I guess? Director Zhou?”
Zhou Laichun said to his ex-wife, “Smells like cheap toilet water in here, could you tidy yourself up properly? And you’re even wearing wholesale socks.”
“I suggest we have a good talk today!” Zhou Sheng interjected in a serious tone, “I really don’t want to fight, it’s too tiring. I had already booked a flight to Australia, but you guys got me to free up one day. I’m here now, my itinerary was all canceled, so let’s just stop and have a proper New Year’s Eve dinner, okay?”
Zhou Laichun considered it briefly and said, “Okay, let’s have a good talk. Zhou Sheng’s all grown up now too.”
Papa Zhou and Mama Zhou looked at their son together.
“I asked both of you to come today because there’s something I want to announce.” Zhou Laichun said, “Give me a minute.”
“Where are you going again?” Zhou Sheng saw that Zhou Laichun had called a waiter over. The waiter brought in a beautiful woman. Zhou Sheng thought she was going to perform some kind of tea ceremony for them, so he moved aside to make it easier for her to perform. But Zhou Laichun said, “This is my fiancee, we’re going to get married after the Spring Festival. Come, Xiao Qin, let me introduce you. This is my ex-wife, and this is my son, Zhou Sheng……”
Zhou Sheng, “……”
Mama Zhou, “……”
The charming woman named Xiao Qin nodded at them before sitting beside Zhou Laichun. Zhou Laichun said, “That was the first matter, the second is regarding Zhou Sheng’s……"
Mama Zhou said, “I have something to announce too, listen to me first.”
Zhou Laichun didn’t want to quarrel with his ex-wife in front of his fiancee. After all, if she became upset today and started bringing up the past, all his face would be thrown out the window. So he said patiently, “Please speak.”
Yu Hao was watching the young man play Glory. The other woman had already been called away. Not long after, the manager came over, and before he even spoke, the young man understood and got up. He said, “Add me on WeChat later, let’s play together next time.”
Yu Hao nodded. He was the only one left, and not a moment later, he began feeling nervous again. He wanted to text through WeChat, but everyone was celebrating New Year’s Eve, so it was unlikely that anyone would want to chat with him.
Yu Hao was so nervous his palms were slightly clammy.
“He’s called Wang Gang.” Mama Zhou looked at the young man and said, “Sit here.”
Zhou Sheng and Zhou Laichun’s mouth twitched. Zhou Laichun’s fiancee said, “Wah, your son is really carved from the same mold as his father……”
Mama Zhou said, “I’m going to marry him. Xiao Gang used to work in my shop and made the business flourish. But because he couldn’t pay his tuition, he dropped out of school for several years. I want to find a school for him so he can finish his university studies……”
Zhou Sheng sincerely said, “Daddy, may I ask your honourable age?”
“Just call me uncle.” Wang Gang immediately said, “I just turned 20.”
Zhou Sheng said to his mother, “He’s the same age as Yu Hao, how odd.” Then he said to Wang Gang, “How could I call you uncle? Legally, you’re my stepfather, so I must call you Daddy.” Then he spoke to Zhou Laichun, “Right? Dad?”
Zhou Laichun’s expression couldn’t get any darker than it was now. Zhou Sheng was obviously trying to embarrass him, but Wang Gang couldn’t tell that Zhou Sheng was being ironic and quickly said, “I don’t deserve it, I don’t.”
“What about me?” Xiao Qin quipped.
Zhou Sheng uttered in his heart god damn you, but a handsome smile was still plastered on his face. “What do you think?”
Xiao Qin burst into laughter and said to Zhou Laichun, “Aiya your son’s really too interesting, he’s so much like you.”
Zhou Laichun & Mama Zhou, “……”
“Okay now.” Zhou Sheng’s expression changed and he regained his composure, “It’s my turn now, right?” As he spoke, he rang the bell to call the waiter, “Bring ‘em over.”
Zhou Laichun and Mama Zhou looked at their son. Zhou Sheng said lightly, “I have something to announce to you guys too, I’m dating someone.”
Mama Zhou was immediately stunned, “You found a girlfriend? Why didn’t you say so earlier?”
Zhou Laichun, “You brought her over?”
Zhou Sheng said calmly, “Not a girl, I found a boyfriend.”
The surrounding air congealed in an instant, and the room fell silent. Zhou Sheng continued, “You’ve both seen him before, we’ve been together for quite some time. I’ll re-introduce him to everyone today……” As he spoke, he got up to go to the door and opened it. Yu Hao was so nervous he wore his woolen hat askew, and Zhou Sheng said, “Why are you wearing a hat in the restaurant?” Then he casually took off Yu Hao’s woolen hat, held Yu Hao’s hand, and kissed him on the cheek before bringing him in.
Yu Hao, “……”
Xiao Qin, “……”
The young man, “……”
“I……” Yu Hao said.
Zhou Sheng pulled out a chair for Yu Hao to sit, then sat beside him and said, “My dad, my mum, you know them. My stepfather, my stepmother……”
“Stepfather?” Yu Hao said.
Zhou Sheng, “Yes, stepfather.”
As he introduced them one by one, Yu Hao looked at the two people that he had just met in the lobby and didn’t know how to greet them for a moment.
Mama Zhou couldn’t look any more shocked and didn’t speak for a full three minutes. Meanwhile, Zhou Laichun maintained a sitting posture as he trembled constantly. Yu Hao was afraid that Zhou Laichun would suffer a stroke on the spot and collapse, so he racked his brains for something to say, but he didn’t know how to start. After thinking about it for a long time, he whispered, “Sorry.”
“What are you sorry for?” Zhou Sheng laughed instead and said to his parents in earnest, “Dad, Mum, I know two guys dating would be a little unacceptable to both of you, but our family has always walked unorthodox paths anyway……”
“I’ll kill you, you damn bastard!”
A roar thundered, and Fu Liqun’s narration voice seemed to ring out next to Yu Hao’s ear —— intercept!
Before Yu Hao could register it, he reached out to intercept out of pure instinct. A cup filled with tea was flying towards Zhou Sheng; Yu Hao’s interception instinct that was honed under a hell-like training regimen activated, and he instantly caught the cup of boiling water in his hand.
Zhou Laichun was in the midst of roaring and had just immediately flung a teacup out, but he couldn’t have expected that the situation would develop in such a way that Yu Hao would catch it like he was performing a juggling act. He was rendered speechless.
The atmosphere once again turned awkward and quiet. Zhou Sheng got a huge fright before immediately checking Yu Hao’s hand for burns. The young man was surprised and even applauded a few times before Zhou Laichun roared again, “Fuck you, Laozi’s gonna kill you!”
Another plate flew over. Yu Hao instantly caught it again, then shouted, “Uncle don’t be so rash! Talk it out properly……”
An ashtray flew over. Yu Hao caught it again.
The scene should have been a chaotic one, but Yu Hao managed to catch the three hidden weapons in a row. The atmosphere turned incredibly amusing in an instant. Zhou Sheng finally couldn’t hold back anymore and burst out laughing madly. Zhou Laichun’s eyes were thoroughly red. He got up to swing a chair up and roared, “You bastard! Bastard!” As he spoke, he lunged forward and Zhou Sheng immediately protected Yu Hao as he raised his hand to block him, then shouted,
“If you dare touch him! I’ll fight you to death!”
The scene finally delved into chaos. Xiao Qin wanted to persuade him, but she was pushed aside by Zhou Laichun and screamed as she fell onto a sofa. Wang Gang stared agape and shouted, “Don’t fight! Stop fighting!”
Zhou Sheng was protecting Yu Hao; he raised his arms as Zhou Laichun held up a chair with both hands and smashed it down upon Zhou Sheng’s head. Zhou Sheng turned around to hug Yu Hao and retreated to the corner of the room. Zhou Laichun was like a rabid dog right now.
A sudden scream rang out — Mama Zhou had finally snapped out of her stupor. She grabbed a vase in the room and rushed forward. Yu Hao quickly shielded Zhou Sheng’s forehead with his arm, but that vase crashed with a “bang” and was smashed into pieces on Zhou Laichun’s head. Xiao Qin shrieked, got up and fled the room. Wang Gang shouted, “My wife! Don’t be impulsive!”
After Zhou Sheng’s mother smashed the vase, she went to grab a chair and madly roared at Zhou Laichun, “It’s none of your damn business! It’s none of your damn business! What right do you have to discipline him?! Have you ever disciplined him from when he was 10 ‘till his 22-year-old self now?! You scum! You trash! Fuck your whole family! Fuck your ancestors! Fuck you, you trash who has a mother to give birth to you but no father to raise you! You have no right to discipline my son! Just try and lay a finger on them!!”
Zhou Laichun pushed Mama Zhou away and roared madly, “That’s enough!”
Mama Zhou was like a lioness. She threw the plate full of snacks at Zhou Laichun’s head and shrieked, “How is it any of your business who he wants to find or who he wants to be with?! He’s not your son! You bastard! Zhou Laichun you bastard!!”
After Xiao Qin fled the room she called for the manager, but how could the manager dare to do anything. Yet, before the manager could even go in, a lot of spectators had already gathered outside the room to watch the show. The room’s door was open and was diagonally opposite the lobby. Everyone in the restaurant had already stood up.
“Big brother and sister-in-law, Happy New Year!” Zhou Sheng said to everyone outside, “It’s alright, just a family fight, don’t look anymore!”
Zhou Laichun’s face was flushed red from being stifled. He looked at Zhou Sheng, then at Yu Hao, and actually found it a bit difficult to breathe. Yu Hao observed Zhou Laichun’s expression and prayed that nothing would go wrong……fortunately, Zhou Laichun restrained himself. He went to one side to open up a bottle of foreign wine, downed a few mouthfuls, then hysterically slammed the wine bottle against the wall before turning around to leave.
Yu Hao hugged Zhou Sheng very tightly; he felt upset but excited at the same time, and was unwilling to let go for a moment.
It was a mess in the room. Zhou Sheng’s mother staggered as she wore her high heels, while Wang Gang and Xiao Qin had already gone outside to hide. The manager was also at a loss, so he could only close the door to the room.
Zhou Sheng let go of Yu Hao. Yu Hao still felt some slight trepidation as he looked at Mama Zhou. Mama Zhou spoke.
“Then……then that’s it ba.” Zhou Sheng had anticipated this long ago, but didn’t expect the spectacle to be so much more difficult to handle than he thought.
Mama Zhou remained silent for a while. She lowered her head to rummage through her bag to take out a packet of tissues and handed it to Yu Hao. Her hand trembled slightly.
Yu Hao walked over, also very nervous as he accepted the tissues.
“There’s tea all over you, wipe it.” Mama Zhou said.
Yu Hao opened up the tissue packet and wiped his neck.
His mother’s reaction was way beyond Zhou Sheng’s expectations. Neither of them knew what to say for a moment. Yu Hao wiped off the tea on him, and Zhou Sheng said, “Let’s go, it’s over, we should all go celebrate the Spring Festival. Everyone has their own families now anyway.”
Mama Zhou turned around and walked ahead of them. Zhou Sheng had been holding Yu Hao’s hand the entire time. They left the room, walked through the lobby, and at that moment, Mama Zhou turned her head and surveyed the guests with an almost contemptuous gaze, like a ferocious female beast guarding her cub.
Outside Dawn of Spring in an Empty Mountain, the waiters stood watching them from afar. The manager walked over and said to them, “Hello, the boss said to dispatch a car to send you three……”
“No need.” Zhou Sheng said, “Just go back ba.”
So the manager nodded and retreated with tact.
Wang Gang drove a moped over and parked it at the entrance of the restaurant. Zhou Sheng said, “So, see you next year?”
Yu Hao wanted to shake hands with Zhou Sheng’s mother, and he wanted to hug her because of that packet of tissues as well. Everything that happened today had completely overturned his impression of her.
Yu Hao, “Aunt……”
Mama Zhou saw Yu Hao extend a hand and seemed to remember something. She opened up her handbag and took out a red packet, then stuffed it into Yu Hao’s hand.
At that moment, Yu Hao could tell from her expression that she wanted to say something to them, but the expression was fleeting. She said nothing else before turning around to walk towards Wang Gang’s moped. She took the helmet, put it on, and with her back facing them, sat on the back seat and hugged Wang Gang’s waist.
The moped started up and drove away.
It was snowing again.
Zhou Sheng and Yu Hao had their couple scarves around them as they walked down the mountain.
“How much did she give you?” Zhou Sheng asked.
“8,800!” Yu Hao said, “Why……did she give me so much? She only gave me 1,000 last year!”
Yu Hao gave Zhou Sheng the red packet, who said, “She gave it to you, so just keep it ba.”
Yu Hao said, “Why did she give me so much in the red packet? This is too much!”
“It’s a modification fee ah.” Zhou Sheng walked ahead slightly. He looked back at Yu Hao with a smile, “Her son-in-law paid her a visit, so shouldn’t he get a huge red packet? Since you’ve accepted the red packet, hurry and come into your hubby’s arms.”
The snowfall grew heavier and heavier. Heavy snow swirled through the sky and drifted onto Zhou Sheng’s head and shoulders, while Yu Hao watched him quietly.
“I can provide for her in the future.” Yu Hao suddenly said as they faced each other from a distance.
“She doesn’t need us.” Zhou Sheng smiled, “Didn’t you see that she has found a puppy? She doesn’t lack someone to wait on her. You should be providing for me.”
Yu Hao smiled as he moved forward. Zhou Sheng turned around, but Yu Hao leapt up and rode on his back. Zhou Sheng piggybacked him and ran a few steps forward, then kicked a tree. The snow that had accumulated on the treetop cascaded down and Yu Hao shouted. He pushed Zhou Sheng into the snow, straddled his waist, then crouched down, and kissed him. The two of them embraced each other in the snow.
Zhou Sheng looked into Yu Hao’s eyes as their lips parted. Their eyebrows and hair were all covered with white snow.
“You look like an old man.” Zhou Sheng laughed.
“You’re the old man.” Yu Hao pinched Zhou Sheng’s lips, “You wanna die?!”
Zryuu: SOOOO FUCKING HILARIOUS AND SWEET I’M FREAKING MELTING AHHHH
Juurensha: Awwwwww. And ZS’ mom was surprisingly nice! (I did not realize the other two ppl in the lobby were the new significant others until Yu Hao realized it….)
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), kee.