Little Tianhe, covered with dust all over, was held down by Guan Yue, who turned towards Tianyue and said, "Keep an eye on your brother!"
"That's none of your damn business." Tianyue taunted.
Tianyue played a video game, beckoning his little brother to come over, but Tianhe didn't go over and kept looking around, waiting for Guan Yue to get his toy. Guan Yue brought down the transmitter quickly while putting it on the dining table; Tianhe then immediately trotted over. Wen Tianheng said, "Tianhe, would you like to disassemble it and have a look? Let me get you a tool."
Guan Yue looked at Tianhe reproachfully, but the latter only smiled and made a 'hush' gesture, indicating that he must not tell the adults. Guan Yue had no choice but to relinquish.
As Wen Tianheng placed his toolbox on the dining table, Tianhe changed his mind and started to disassemble the transmitter. However, many parts were rusted. Hence, he asked Guan Yue to help with the screws. At noon, Aunt Feng brought in lunchboxes and put them on the table filled with the transmitter's components. Wen Yuankai and Guan Zhengping both went to the study room to chat about work, Tianheng went out to do something, and Tianyue was still playing his video game.
Guan Yue opened his lunch box while little Tianhe's eyes never left his transmitter.
"Tianyue," said Wen Yuankai, poking his head out of the study room. "Prepare lunch for your brother!"
"Oh!" Tianyue was too engrossed in the game that he couldn't seem to extricate himself of it and couldn't even be bothered to eat lunch himself.
"One trailed on three is already exhausting enough."
Wen Yuankai smiled. "It's all up to Tianheng to keep an eye on the two little ones."
Seeing Tianhe unattended, Guan Yue took Tianyue's place as he sat next to Tianhe and started to feed him.
Little Tianhe didn't even notice that Guan Yue was the one who was feeding him. At home, Aunt Fang would occasionally do it, but most of the time, he would do it on his own— in any case, it was fine to have something to eat no matter who was feeding him. A few moments later, Tianhe opened his mouth again and then pointed to the orange juice, indicating he was thirsty. Guan Yue brought him the glass and put in a straw for him to drink from.
After lunch, Guan Yue spread out his exercise book and guarded the table, always on the lookout for Tianhe's clumsy movements.
"All of the primary school curricula have been completed," Guan Zhengping and Wen Yuankai came out of the study room. "At this age in China, you can't send them to junior high school yet. English is already at a senior high school level……"
"Eton College," Wen Yuankai looked up as they headed towards the dining hall. "Guan Yue, are you going? Leave home to study in London."
Guan Yue said nothing, doing the exercises while still keeping an eye on little Tianhe and his movements from time to time.
Guan Zhengping said, "My big brother also said that Guan Yue is trying his best to learn something useless: reading philosophy and history. He said it's better to study some basic introductory business, don't let him play football, don't need to have many friends…… His grandfather's idea was that if he likes what he does, then he doesn't have to force him to do something he is reluctant about."
Wen Yuankai said, "Let me ask Aunt Fang to write a letter of recommendation for Tianhe. If he passes the entrance examination, then there will be no problem."
Guan Zhengping thought about it and then said, "Wait until a few more years, at least after the age of ten, or else there will be no one to take care of them if they went abroad like this."
"There are plenty of our classmates in London; you don't have to follow after the child if you don't want to." Wen Yuankai said.
Guan Zhengping, who had no children, loved his only nephew dearly. He hoped to teach him something unconventional so that he could expand his horizons and see more of the world, yet the thought of sending an eight-year-old boy to London, a million miles away, to pursue his education is just too much to bear.
In the end, Wen Yuankai said, "Let me find a few of our classmates to talk to Guan Yue so we can make a judgment first."
That night, the Wen's home was a hive of activity; Tianyue was calling his girlfriend while in class, Tianheng was debating with his teaching assistant about academics issues, and Guan Yue was videoing his grandparents while listening to Tianhe play the piano.
Wen Yuankai thought to himself, how can there be so many kids in the house?
Aunt Fang said, "It's ten o'clock already. All of you should take a bath now. Who's first?"
Tianyue, "Let me assist Tianhe."
Tianhe, "No! I can take a bath by myself!"
Tianheng took the time out of his busy schedule and said to Tianhe, "You just dabble every time you take a bath, so no. We have guests today."
Tianhe said to Guan Yue, "Then, wait for me for a moment. I'll play Beethoven for you."
Wen Yuankai then said, "Guan Yue sleeps……"
Guan Yue said, "I'm not sleeping with Tianyue. He's just going to bill and coo with his girlfriend."
Tianheng, dumbfounded, said, "How come kids nowadays know everything? Would you like to sleep in my room?"
Guan Yue, "Dage kicks when he sleeps."
"Then, you and Tianhe will share a room. Read a book passage for him in passing too." Wen Yuankai said.
Guan Yue nodded and went to the other bathroom to take a bath. Wen Yuankai felt his head spin from the three kids of him, plus the gravitational field issue of Tianheng. However, Aunt Fang smiled and said, "Once we move to the new house, they won't be able to bother you."
Wen Yuankai shook his head and said with a smile, "This is like being on the show, 'Growing Pains'"
After taking a bath, Tianhe had already forgotten about the piano, blow-dried his hair, crawled into bed in his pajamas, arranged the quilt, and covered himself and Guan Yue. Guan Yue hung up the call with his grandfather and looked at Tianhe.
Tianhe was like an exquisite piece of enameled porcelain. Guan Yue didn't dare to bump into him for fear that he would collide with him out of carelessness.
"Let me read you a book passage." Guan Yue said.
Tianhe nodded and thus went over as he tried to squeeze himself into Guan Yue's arms, just like he did every night when he let his father hold him and read for him. Guan Yue's little arms and chest didn't resemble his father's, but there was another sort of tender little feeling.
Tianhe hugged Guan Yue's waist and leaned sideways against his chest, listening to his heartbeat, waiting for a full minute as he did every day when lying on his father's chest before going to sleep.
Guan Yue, "......"
Guan Yue's forehead was full of black lines as he read the entire English version of Ramayana.
Tianhe, "It's bookmarked, Chapter 3."
Guan Yue felt like dying, closed the book, and said, "Let me tell you about Liezi: the Questions of Tang."
Tianhe, at a loss, asked, "What's that?"
Guan Yue placed the book back on the nightstand, and then touched Tianhe's head who was leaning on his chest and in a low voice, said, "King Mu, the fifth king of Zhou, went on a hunting expedition to the west, climbed over the Kunlun Mountains but decided to head back before reaching the Yan Mountains. In no time…"
Tianhe's ancient literature was especially so-so. Thus Guan Yue interpreted to him one by one that it was a story from Liezi: the Questions of Tang, 'Yan Shi the Artificer'. "Can a man's ingenuity be equal to that of his Creator?" Tianhe was suddenly so engrossed in the story and consequently left his Mahabharata and Ramayana behind.
Recalling this, Tianhe laughed so hard as the details of his childhood gradually became clearer. "Pro, I suddenly thought of something. Why didn't Guan Yue read the Ramayana to me? Because he can't understand!"
Tianhe said in all seriousness, "Because in that book, the translator left a lot of ancient words to keep the mythological style, and this guy must have changed it to tell me a story because he couldn't understand it…… Pro?"
Pro replied, "I'm listening."
"He lived at home for almost a month from that day on, and then came back to live in the new home as well. Guan Yue's stories were actually quite interesting. Only, I had already forgotten most of them. Now that I think about it, he actually told so many stories… What happened?"
There was a light in the staircase, coming from the living room on the first floor as if someone had suddenly turned on the living room projection. Tianhe went downstairs and saw an old film starting to play.
Tianhe, "Did you turn on the projection?"
"Yes, these are the memories from when Guan Yue was a child."
In the corner of the living room, on the snow-white walls, the snowflakes receded, revealing a slightly faded view of the past recorded by the hidden camera that came with little Guan Yue's wristwatch. After a bit of filtering, the noises of the old home, the warm light of the room, as well as Tianhe appeared.
The watch was taken off and placed on the nightstand, facing the two boys who were fully in the lens and covered by a quilt; ten-year-old Guan Yue was lying against the headboard, while little Tianhe was hugging his waist and pillowing on his chest, reaching up to play with the button on his nightclothes.
"......Ban Shu's cloud ladder and Mo Di's flying kite; they claimed to be the best of the best…… Lu Ban's cloud ladder is no match for…"
Tianhe was stupefied to see his childhood self and Guan Yue. They were actually so small and so unfamiliar in that year. The small back of their heads turned towards the camera. Guan Yue's countenance had already taken on a vaguely handsome outline of a grown-up man. As he told the story, he gently stroked Tianhe's head. When little Tianhe closed his eyes and fell asleep, Guan Yue then lowered his head as he kissed him on the forehead, raised his hand to turn off the light, pulled the quilt to cover them, and embraced Tianhe to sleep.
The scene slowly changed, cutting to another video a few seconds later, with the viewpoint from Guan Yue's right wrist. Guan Yue has been left-handed since childhood and used to wear his watch on his right hand. The camera couldn't capture him, but only Tianhe, who was buried in assembling a transmitter across the dining table in their new home.
At that time, Guan Yue ought to have been writing an exercise. With his right hand resting on the table, he filmed Tianhe doing the craft's whole process.
"Why would I have trouble with that transmitter?" Tianhe was quite incomprehensible as he recalled himself as a child.
Every single day, for a month straight, Tianhe was always fiddling with this transmitter, while Guan Yue watched him at all times, sometimes even stopping by to feed him at noon and sleep together at night. Once when Tianyue went on a night date and Tianheng didn't come home, Aunt Fang went out to take a phone call and told Tianhe to wash himself first. As Tianhe smoothly sat naked in the tub, the water had already gotten cold, then he shouted aloud.
When Guan Yue heard his shout, he immediately came in, took off his silver digital watch, and set it aside on a shelf. Four-year-old Tianhe seemed somewhat embarrassed. Guan Yue then sat down on a small stool and washed Tianhe's hair, who was sitting in the tub.
Eight-year-old Guan Yue was sitting in the bathroom, washing the four-year-old Tianhe. Seeing this scene, Tianhe's face immediately turned red and said, "This is so embarrassing."
Pro, "I think Guan Yue thought this was fine."
In the video, Guan Yue's mouth quirked in a half-smile. Tianhe said gloomily, "He's just laughing at me. Look at my hair sticking to my head; it's too funny."
Pro, "Most of the animals' pups are like that."
The scene changed again. It was still Tianhe assembling his transmitter. For a full month, they repeated the same thing every day.
Tianhe soon fell asleep, slumped against the couch.
The memories were still playing.
On the screen, little Tianhe managed to make two morse code handhelds, holding one for himself and the other for Guan Yue. Tianhe stood on the third floor while Guan Yue stood in the garden. It was snowing, and Guan Yue had snow all over his eyebrows and hair, tapping on the transmitter in the cold wind.
—toot toot toot—
"It worked!" Tianhe shouted happily from the third floor.
Guan Yue laughed. Tianhe kept pressing again whilst on the third floor as Guan Yue's transmitter kept beeping with uneven sounds.
It was already morning when the doorbell rang.
The projection time came a month later, the day Guan Yue returned to Taiyuan and separated from Tianhe.
The camera's viewpoint was always fixed from Guan Yue's wrist, but this time, it faced the red-eyed Guan Yue. Guan Yue was carrying a small bag as he knelt on one knee to put one of the transmitters in his bag before reaching out and turning the watch over his wrist, with the lens slightly shaking as it was facing himself.
The len's horizontal position wasn't high enough to record anything but Guan Yue's expressions as well as the security checkpoint at the airport behind him.
The image was beyond comprehension. Only if Tianhe were awake would he think of that day years ago — the day when they parted, as Guan Yue raised his hand and wiped the tears from little Tianhe's eyes.
The projection suddenly turned off. Outside the front door, Aunt Fang's voice came through, "You're here so early today?"
As Guan Yue walked into the living room, Tianhe, dressed in his pajamas, was sleeping in the living room; legs on the couch while his upper body was sprawled out on the carpet under the couch with his head tilted.
"Xiao Tian?" Aunt Fang went over and gently called Tianhe. "Wake up, Xiao Guan is here to see you."
Tianhe woke up with a start, lost in a glimpse of Guan Yue, immediately got up with his face reddened all over, put away the projector, and then held the quilt as he quickly walked back to his room.
"Tong Kai says Andy will find you to give you trouble next."
At breakfast. Tianhe looked at his phone as he read out Tong Kai's message to Guan Yue. "Under the power of Hermès Birkin's bags, Qingsong employees were jumping ship and handing in their resignations. Half of the people are missing. Andy expressed his anger at a baguette and overturned the company's water dispenser. What did the water dispenser do wrong when it was literally just standing there? You know, that water dispenser was already tired and wanted a break, but no one cared what it thought, people only cared about themselves……"
Guan Yue held a piece of sliced, toasted baguette while spreading butter on it, before putting it back down as he heard what Tianhe said.
Tianhe tsk-ed in admiration. "Next thing you know, he's deranged enough to cancel the New Zealand team building. Wow, it's going to be a revolt!"
"I guess Andy will use every means at his disposal to weaken the baguette, including but not limited to…… 'weaken the baguette', this is a good use of the word."
Guan Yue, "............."
The nickname "baguette" was given by Tianhe to Guan Yue. When they were not yet together, they once went to Paris. A loiterer whistled at Tianhe and groped his ass in front of Guan Yue, an act that immediately made the latter incarnate into a berserker on the spot, conveniently snapped a baguette bread, and beat that guy up to tears.
Thereupon, Tianhe jokingly called him 'baguette knight' as there was no other metaphor at that time. Later on, Guan Yue's classmates came over for a barbecue when one of them asked Tianhe, while eating bread, whether he called Guan Yue gege or something. Guan Yue had replied, "He calls me a baguette knight." A nickname that brought tears of laughter to people's eyes gradually spread and the word 'knight' was removed, leaving only the word baguette.
Afterward, Tianhe stopped calling him baguette and started calling him "President." However, after returning to China, an Oxford classmate came to visit Guan Yue and still remembered his nickname, which Tong Kai overheard, and thus often used it to refer to Guan Yue.
"Stop playing. Hurry up and eat," Guan Yue urged with a slight frown. "Today is very busy."
Tianhe was enjoyingly reading Twitter jokes pertaining to software engineers when he heard Guan Yue and then had to put away his phone, boredly finish his breakfast, went to change his clothes, and followed Guan Yue out.
Guan Yue didn't say anything about where they were going. Tianhe sat in the passenger seat as Guan Yue put on his sunglasses and turned the steering wheel whilst conveniently handing Tianhe a small flat platinum hand warmer, letting him put it on his lap, and said to Aunt Fang who was standing in the doorway, "He won't be home for dinner tonight."
"Did I say I wouldn't go home for dinner?" Tianhe took the hand warmer and said displeased, "Don't just make decisions for me."
Guan Yue, "It is now office hours. The boss is in charge and the boss lets you go to play cards at the club."
Tianhe, "You're too vigorous. You just resigned from Qingsong, don't you want to take a few months off?"
Guan Yue, "I'm a husky, and huskies don't get tired."
Tianhe laughed. That was also the nickname he used to give to Guan Yue. After the two confirmed their relationship, Guan Yue always disobeyed Tianhe's command and liked to come over and interfere when he was writing his code.
The car pulled up behind the Creative Industry Zone in the Forest Grove Cultural and Creative District. Guan Yue reversed the car to enter the garage before he went out and opened the door for Tianhe.
"Good morning, Mr. Guan. Good morning, Mr. Wen." Epeus CFO Mei Xi, General Assistant Xiao Cai, the Personnel Manager, and the receptionist, were already waiting outside a small two-storey building, bowing toward the two.
Guan Yue took off his sunglasses. Mei Xi was holding a folder while discussing with the agent.
"Both bosses," said the agent coming up with a smile, "this is by far the best one in the Industrial Park..."
Mei Xi spread out the folder and the Personnel Manager took off his pen cap and handed. Guan Yue only delayed three seconds and casually signed the last page of the purchase agreement, and then went into the building.
Tianhe had thought that Guan Yue would take him to see his new house, he didn't expect it to be the company's location. When did this guy find the space? He can't believe he didn't know anything!
Mei Xi said to the Personnel Manager, "So… shall we notify the office suplies to come here?"
An HR employee smiled and said, "Mr. Mei, they were already contacted and will be delivered this afternoon."
"Hold on!" Tianhe walked into the small building. The first floor was still empty, with all sides of the staircase leading to the second floor. It occupied an area of nearly 4,000 square feet, with a specially-made elevated first floor that was well-lit and almost entirely filled with floor-to-ceiling windows. Looking out from the conference room, outside was the Forest Grove, as well as a small bush of gooseberry and a flower garden.
Tianhe, "Why didn't you discuss this with me?"
Guan Yue, "You don't like it? I thought I had the decision-making power."
Tianhe, "It's true that you have the decision-making power, but aren't you going to ask for my opinion at all? You bought it outright!"
Guan Yue, "I thought you'd like it. Let's just get another one."
Tianhe, "How much did it cost?"
Guan Yue, "160 million yuan."
This new company's area was even larger than Tianhe's home, enough to accommodate five hundred to eight hundred people to work here. With Epeus's plan, after the reopening, Tianhe planned to work with a small but excellent team. He didn't want to recruit a bunch of bums like his second brother. He planned for the entire company to be reckoned in every item of income or expenditure, and keep it under eighty people. What do they need such a large office space for?
"This place…" Tianhe looked around.
Guan Yue, "Don't you like it?"
Tianhe had to admit that it was indeed good. He had always disliked the atmosphere of the office buildings in Sci-Tech Park. He hoped not to impose too many constraints on the programmers. He wanted to model the company after Google or Facebook, with a couple of sofas in a nice sunny spot where people can drink their coffee and write their code. While pondering over something, there was also a garden where they could pull a few pull-ups on the horizontal bars and play ping pong.
The estate agency had been out collectively for several nights on end, and cleaned the building inside-out in advance in order to coax Guan Yue, this big bankroller, to contentment. The floors were wiped clean, the windows were entirely cleaned, and the heating system was on full blast. They were able to sign the contract today without a hitch.
Tianhe, "It's a really nice environment, it's just..."
"That won't do." Guan Yue hung his sunglasses casually on the stair railing and went up to the second floor.
Mei Xi approached and whispered in Tianhe's ear. "Second Boss, I'll tell you what…"
Tianhe also whispered to Mei Xi, "Mei Xi, I'll tell you what, don't ever call me second boss again. I had a hard time getting rid of that appellation."
Mei Xi said, "Here's the thing, the big boss bought the place, paid a sum of money, and registered it in our company's name. That is to say, he's giving us 160 million out of his own pocket, but for what?"
Tianhe sincerely said, "I don't want to discuss this matter with you right now."
"But…" said Mei Xi, somewhat anxious, "you don't have to...don't have to...that, you know, right? I mean...is there not any condition…just in case he's on you…… Hey, anyway, Second Boss, if you don't want to, don't ever ever ever force yourself! …...worst case we just go bankrupt again…"
Tianhe, "I won't pay it back by sleeping with him! I've heard your internal monologue!"
"Second Boss, come up here and have a look." From upstairs came Guan Yue's indifferent voice.
Tianhe followed up, and saw a few large desks left on the second floor with two stereos on the side.
The Personnel Manager also followed up and said, "Mr. Wen, this used to be the office space of a film company, but they changed their address due to the financing of merger and acquisition. Mr. Guan actually chose it for you long before Christmas."
Tianhe looked at the layout and indeed it was very creative. The original decoration was also quite good. The place looked younger and more vibrant than Qingsong and the former Epeus.
"Buy a thousand pots of dripping Guanyin," Guan Yue said, "and surround the company with Mr. Wen's favorites."
The Personnel Manager and Mei Xi looked at each other in speechless despair.
Tianhe said, "Don't listen to him. He's mocking me."
Guan Yue, "Where are the others?"
Personnel Manager, "They have already been notified. They'll all be here by 10:30."
Guan Yue, with the back of his hand facing outward, made a sweeping motion, indicating that they can go down now. Just as he turned around, he saw Tianhe bowing as he was about to plug in the stereo.
"Don't touch it!" Guan Yue almost roared.
Tianhe hadn't touched the socket yet when his back was suddenly hugged by Guan Yue and forcefully dragged him over.
"What on earth are you doing?" Tianhe said, displeased.
Guan Yue was quite tense at the moment, his one hand was trembling slightly uncontrollably. By the time he calmed down, Tianhe pushed Guan Yue away. Guan Yue stooped down to plug it in for him.
"I just wanted to listen to some music." Tianhe walked over to the window and opened it.
Guan Yue, "Are we still buying another?"
Tianhe, "No more buying. Save some money. You'll still have to register a new company yourself… Pro, play some random song."
Pro connected to the stereo's Bluetooth. Yo-Yo Ma's Libertango then blared in the new company. Tianhe got a headache as he listened and said, "What the hell do you usually listen to? Moreover, the sound quality is awful. Turn it off."
Guan Yue snapped his fingers and said, "Just this one." He then stepped forward and held out his hand.
Tianhe said sternly, "I'm serious. I don't tango."
Guan Yue also sternly said, "How come I remember that you dance pretty well?"
Tianhe, speechless, had to reach out his hand to hold Guan Yue, who suddenly dragged him into his arms.
Tianhe said coldly, "I forgot I had been forcibly taught before."
Old-school English people had always rejected tango on the grounds that it was too erotic with all the rough momentum of a dock dance. It was really inharmonious with the English gentlemanly style. Germans, however, loved it.
In the strongly rhythmic cello music, Tianhe leaned to the side, as if trying to avoid Guan Yue, but Guan Yue followed him like a shadow, embracing his waist and leaning over. Tianhe knew that Guan Yue was in a good mood today, but it was still both awkward and funny that they rarely danced this rough dance even in the past. As they continued, he suddenly realized that there was a bit of danger, and felt like Guan Yue wanted to kiss him.
"Don't mess around, Boss," said Tianhe, "I haven't responded to you yet."
Guan Yue, "This kind of dance was designed to facilitate messing around. How can you not mess around when you're dancing tango?"
Guan Yue danced intently, slipped his hand around Tianhe's waist, took him a few steps toward the window, and then retreated at the same time. Tianhe couldn't help but laugh, and turned his head simultaneously with Guan Yue, gazing at each other.
Guan Yue had always looked at Tianhe's eyes seriously, sticking to him like a shadow in the rhythm. Guan Yue's movements were quite aggressive, while Tianhe was unwittingly immersed in the music, trying to avoid Guan Yue by any means possible. As the music reached the climax, Tianhe retreated to the staircase and slid sideways down the stair railing.
Tianhe, "Stop playing!"
Guan Yue, however, also leapt along with the music, sliding diagonally down, landing and hugging Tianhe.
"The music isn't over yet," said Guan Yue. "The dance has to be finished. It's a respect to the stereo."
Tianhe, "That thing upstairs isn't exactly a stereo, and I have absolutely no intention of respecting it."
Guan Yue, "Oh? So what's that thing making noise now?"
"Loudspeaker." Tianhe said, and then was dragged back by Guan Yue.
Tianhe had to turn around and take two steps backward. Guan Yue then followed suit, taking his hand. As they held hands, the music got faster and faster, and they had to double the speed contrapaso at the beginning of the piece. It was too easy to step on feet, so Tianhe had to concentrate to avoid stepping on Guan Yue, who was only laughing at him. Immediately after the music turned, the corrida became co-axially turned. Tianhe turned round and stepped forward so quickly that Guan Yue was practically pressed against him. Without the slightest thread wrong, they turned. Guan Yue put an arm around Tianhe and leaned over, while Tianhe leaned back. Guan Yue approached when the music that echoed through the company stopped.
Guan Yue looked at Tianhe in silence, their lips less than three centimeters apart. They could feel each other's breathing.
Tianhe's heart was pounding wildly. He was more desirous than Guan Yue at this point, and in this final posture, Guan Yue could no longer lower his head, but Tianhe could kiss his lips with just a slight lift.
The surroundings were silent. Tianhe hadn't had time to think about it. Just as he was about to put his arm around Guan Yue's neck, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a large group of people standing on the side.
Guan Yue, "......"
Guan Yue immediately straightened up and pulled Tianhe up, and then both separated at a fair lick.
In the open room on the first floor, a group of former Qingsong investment managers watched the two men helplessly, not knowing whether to applaud or not.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Joyce, Elestrea.