Baobei, Baobei

Chapter 38

Xia Tian would usually be the liveliest person around. However, after receiving a call, he clearly became quiet, or even solemn. He would stare at Baobei occasionally, and the questioning look in his eyes made Baobei’s hair stand.

At this moment, the Xia Tian whom nobody cared about had a mood swing.

The Xia family went to the hotel they agreed upon in two cars, still in Mr. Fang’s territory. The two brothers Jiang Moxiu and Jiang Mojie were already waiting for some time for them in the lobby.

Naturally, it was better to greet the elders first. They were in a public setting, so Xia Wenjin didn’t make things difficult for Jiang Moxiu, but he still didn’t look happy. Mrs. Xia only smiled lightly and nodded, appearing polite yet detached. Only San Shao stepped forward and patted his shoulder, openly expressing support for his buddy. Oh, this was really strange. Even Xia Tian didn’t express much; he quietly walked behind the group, his hands behind his back.

Mrs. Xia looked at Xia Tian’s behaviour and was secretly comforted. She thought to herself, this child had finally grown up and learned how to be dependable during critical times, and had become a man worth leaning on.

“Didn’t Grandmother come?” Jiang Moxiu asked. His eyes were shining. Since Baobei appeared, he had been staring unblinkingly at her. The young lady was usually fashionable, but she had never dressed up like she did today. Jiang Moxiu was mesmerized by her look. If it wasn’t because of where they were right now, he would certainly pull the lass into his embrace and violently kiss her.

“It’s not an important occasion anyway, so the elder refused to attend.” Xia Wenjin smoothed his suit. That rumour stirrer! Grandmother Xia’s actual words were, An old lady like me would only be mindlessly joining the fun at such an event. I’ll attend our Baobei’s engagement ceremony instead.

Jiang Moxiu rubbed his nose. Naturally, he didn’t take those words to heart. On the other hand, Jiang Mojie hadn’t been through such a situation, so he was elated to hear these words. It was the first time that his brother had been so unwelcome. He circled to the back and went to whisper to Xia Tian, but the latter remained stone-faced, ignoring him.

Even though it was supposed to be a simple meal between the two families, because of the Old Master Jiang’s special identity, the entire floor was booked by Jiang Moxiu. The entire group then hid into one private room, appearing extremely mysterious. Naturally, the Xia family understood why the arrangements were this way.

It was during times like this that a younger brother would be useful. Jiang Mojie played the role of a head waiter today; he led the group in front, while Jiang Moxiu dragged his feet till he could walk side by side with Baobei. He thought that others didn’t notice his actions, as he praised Baobei for her beauty and even secretly touched her petite hands. However, all of this fell into the view of a pair of gloomy eyes behind them.

To Xia Wenjin, this was a true Hongmen banquet [1]!

In the private room, apart from Jiang Moxiu’s parents, an unexpected guest was there too - Mo San’s father, Second Old Master Mo, Mo Boyang.

After exchanging some pleasantries, all of them finally sat down. There was some planning to be done in terms of seating arrangements. The two families were seated on one side each. As Old Jiang was the host, he naturally sat at the head of the table. Unexpectedly, Mo Boyang was positioned between the two fathers, in what was known as the buffer zone. Baobei sat at the end of the table on the Xia family side, while Jiang Moxiu sat at the end for the Jiang family. In one circle, the couple was finally seated together.

“I came down south for an inspection, and heard from San’er that you are having a meal here, so I came to join in the fun.” Mo Boyang smiled as he explained his appearance. However, everyone knew that Second Old Master Mo and Xia Wenjin were related by marriage. Both men had also been chatting cordially. Furthermore, Second Old Master Mo had been under Old Jiang's tutelage. Yesterday, after that scene at the Xia family, and given Old Jiang’s love for his son, it was understandable that he got Second Old Master Mo to accompany them tonight.

Naturally, Xia Wenjin was aware too. While he might not be happy, he certainly wasn't going to mess this dinner up. Hence, he smiled as he chatted for a while, and the mood could be considered friendly.

Fortunately, Mo Beiyu was around. The young kid in his childish tones made the atmosphere even more lively. Knowing that his mother’s belly housed a little sister, he didn’t dare to ask his mother to play with him. After playing with his father for a while, he then badgered his grandfather to carry him. Mo Boyang carried his young grandson and placed him on his knee. With a child placed between the three important characters, the conversation flowed more naturally.

“I heard from San’er that today’s leads are Big Jiang and Baobei?” What is this excuse of San’re mentioning this? San Shao rubbed his nose, having to be the silent scapegoat in this. “If I have to say, Old Xia, this young man is really quite good. He’s so conscientious at such a young age. Those brats in my house, every one of them wouldn’t even think about having a serious girlfriend if no one hurried them or if they weren’t thirty yet.”

This… San Shao had never mentioned his own ridiculous past, hoping that his wife’s family would quickly forget about it. Yet today, San Shao was like Xia Tian, getting shot even when lying down. Second Old Master, you can praise Big Jiang all you want, but was there a need to step on your own son in the process?

“I think Shenren is pretty good,” Xia Wenjin replied. He had never said this before, but he had never thought that Xia Xu married the wrong person. It was also a timely reminder for Second Old Master Mo that he shouldn’t raise what shouldn’t be said. If the elders didn’t mind, he still had to care about his daughter’s feelings. Xia Xu might not like to hear things like this.

Second Old Master Mo immediately laughed. “That’s because Xia Xu trained him well.” His criticism towards San Shao stopped here. “You should look at the rest in my family. Every one of them are dragging their feet. At their age, they should already be having their own families.”

“Your Mo family are all people with a lot of loves.” Xia Wenjin held back his laughter.

San Shao felt that he was shot by the bullet array. He truly felt that he had come to the wrong place today! He turned to look at his wife; she looked like she was in a good mood, and didn’t think too much into it, so he secretly heaved a sigh of relief.

“That’s true,” Second Old Master Mo thought about the status of those at home, and didn’t deny it. “That’s just how we as elders normally nag at them. It’s fine if they want to remain single. There’s nothing more important than finding a person that they truly like. We aren’t hoping for anyone perfect; to us, it’s most important that the kids themselves like them. Don’t you agree, Old Xia?”

“That’s for sure.” Xia Wenjin didn’t contradict this point.

“The Old Master told Xiao Qi this before - choose the person who makes you happy to spend the rest of your life with, and not the one that you have to try to please. A daughter is pampered by so many people at home, so after she’s married, of course the hope is that the other party would pamper her like we did. I don’t have a daughter, but as an uncle, I also care about Xiao Qi. Old Xia, I really envy you for having two daughters! Unlike my family, which was a monastery until we finally got Xiao Qi. Back then, Xiao Wu, Xiao Liu and all, we almost changed their names to “Zhao Mei” or “Lai Mei” [2].

Second Old Master Mo would usually complain about having too many reports or speeches, and in private, he wouldn't speak unless necessary. He really wasn’t a man of many words, but today, as the elder in the banquet, he finished up his speaking quota for the month.

Thinking about how Wu Shao and Liu Shao could have been called “Zhao Mei” and “Lai Mei”, Baobei stifled a giggle. Yup, while everyone at present had their own concerns, she was the only one who would actually notice this.

“Having a daughter is definitely something to be envious about. Look at our family. The elder one is at least sensible, but the younger one is worrying. Fortunately, the elder one is helping me to watch him.” Old Jiang made a timely interruption, and at the same time, praised his son. Originally, he wanted to think of raising a few points to compliment Baobei too, but he thought about it again, the father might not want to hear this. If Baobei treated him well, Old Xia might feel that his daughter was going to be snatched away by others.

“It’s not all good with a daughter. Spending so much effort raising her, but you still have to guard her against bad boys outside.” Xia Wenjin was speaking from his heart. It seemed as though on this point, a son would be better than a daughter. On the matter of tasting the forbidden fruit, it would be seen as a rite of passage to manhood for males, while females would be deemed walking down the wrong path. Having a daughter was truly a worrisome matter - parents would constantly have to worry about people taking advantage of them. Thinking about it, finding a reliable partner became a good option.

He seemed to be doubting himself, deviating from the intentions he originally had when he came. However, Xia Wenjin was a man who spoke his mind. He thought about it, and decided to be upfront about it. “I am not someone who is stubbornly traditional. It’s certain that our children will fall in love and get married when they grow up. Naturally, I won’t stop that from happening. It was just that this matter with Baobei came up suddenly, and we weren’t prepared, so our reaction was quite extreme.”

“Old Xia, this one’s on me. You know that I only got my son at an older age. By now, I should have grandchildren already. I’m really anxious to have grandchildren, and when I look at your family’s Baobei, I really like her a lot, hence I told Big Jiang that they should get engaged first. I didn’t consider the matter carefully, I’m really sorry about that.” Old Jiang quickly used the chance to appease the unhappiness that Jiang Moxiu caused. This matter should never become the cause of any impressions Big Jiang’s future father-in-law would have of him. You see, all parents are pitiful. Even a character like Old Jiang could never bear for his son to have any grievance, and would bear the burden for everything, even taking the blame himself.

“Let’s shelve the engagement for now. We’ll talk about it when Big Jiang passes your test. However, I am confident in my son. He truly loves Baobei, and is sincere about spending the rest of his life with her.”

The Jiang family had already conceded to this extent, if Xia Wenjin was going to nitpick further, he would appear unreasonable.

He nodded. “These children are still young, so you can’t really say much about all these matters with love and relationships. The most scary thing about having a daughter is that she might be affected by relationships, so we will feel better if she tells the family when she’s in love. I’m not going to beat around the bush. Both our families understand each other well. As compared to other boys, I’m certainly more at ease with Big Jiang.”

Old Jiang rattled off a series of “Yes”es, then followed on as he criticised his son, “This kid only told us recently that he started dating. I have also criticised Comrade Big Jiang. He should have visited you and your wife much earlier. Big Jiang didn’t handle this well, so it’s right for you to be unhappy with him.”

“Baobei is my favourite. Naturally, my standards for her other half are very high. I hope you don’t take offense with that.” Xia Wenjin clarified, “We don’t really have much expectations about family background or things like that. The most important thing must be that he treats Baobei well.”

“Uncle, don’t worry. I’ll treat Baobei really well. She is my boss. Uncle, please also supervise me, I’ll work hard.” Jiang Moxiu quietly grabbed Baobei’s hand from under the table. He wasn’t only saying these words to the Xia family’s parents, it was also for Baobei.

“I’ll definitely supervise you.” Mo Wenjin wasn’t going to be nice about it. “With regard to how to be a good lover and a good husband, San’er is doing it very well. I don’t have very high expectations towards my son-in-law. He doesn’t have to be romantic, but he needs to be responsible. He doesn’t have to earn a lot of money, but he needs to feed his family. He doesn’t have to listen to the parents for everything, but he must be filial. He doesn’t have to be at the beck and call of his wife, but he needs to pamper her. He doesn’t need to be successful, but he needs to spend time with his family. He doesn’t have to discipline the children, but he needs to love them. He doesn’t have to be chauvinistic, but he must be able to call the shots when major things happen. If you can do all of these, then I’ll be assured in handing Baobei over to you.”

These requests might sound simple, but when you thought about it further, they weren’t. Responsibility, filial piety, love, patience and perseverance.

Everything was finally laid out clearly. That was good too. The mood shifted slightly, and the two wives seated beside the two fathers started to slowly relax, gradually showing smiles on their faces. Yup, things were progressing positively. Hence, the seating started changing too. The youngsters naturally gathered together, the three “brothers” chatted over wine, while both mothers sat together and eventually had a common language in conversation.

All in all, Lecturer Jiang’ s first meeting with the in-laws wasn’t perfect, but at least, he passed. The revolution wasn’t successful, and the warrior still needs to work harder.

They came in two cars, but returned in three. Jiang Moxiu drove Baobei home. Originally, he wanted to have some alone time with the young lady, but Xia Tian with his abnormal temperament squeezed into the back. Lecturer Jiang was safe temporarily, but in front of his future brother-in-law, he didn’t dare to act rashly. On the entire journey home, he could only take liberties with his speech.

At the entrance of their house. The usual routine would be that Xia Tian would exit the car first, leaving the couple some time alone to talk. However, in reality, the situation didn’t pan out this way. The car stopped, but all three of them didn’t move from their seats. Baobei mumbled, why was Xia Tian so dense today?!

“Sister, go in first. I still have some words for Brother Jiang.” He still had his usual mischievous look on, but Baobei could tell that Xia Tian wasn’t in a good mood.

Even Jiang Moxiu could tell that something wasn’t right. This kid would normally call him “brother-in-law”, but today, he called him “Brother Jiang”. Caressing Baobei’s head, Jiang Moxiu leaned forward and lightly kissed Baobei’s forehead. “Be good, go in first. I’ll bring you out to play tomorrow.”

She nodded, but as she walked home, she turned back once every three steps.

“Brother, shall we take a walk?” Xia Tian alighted the car first, then waited for Jiang Moxiu a few steps away from the car.

Without objecting, Jiang Moxiu released his seatbelt, then got out of the car.

Xia Tian was born handsome, and sometimes, he had an adrogynous feel. Look, another popular character in Q University, Zhuang Mucheng, who was in the same dorm as Xia Tian, was forcibly paired with Xia Tian by fujoshis as a gay couple. Gossips would appear regularly on the school forums. For example, one female posted, “Today, Young Master Xia fell asleep in class, and I saw Little Chengcheng toying with Young Master Xia’s hair! I smell something scandalous! So much love!” Another female: “I saw Young Master Xia and Little Chengcheng in the library today! Little Chengcheng was confessed to by their faculty’s beauty! Little Changcheng actually lazily leaned onto Young Master Xia’s shoulder and said that he has someone he likes! There must be something!” There was even someone who opened a discussion thread, discussing who between the two of them were the gong and the shou [3].

Xia Tian took out a cigarette and lit it, then passed one to Jiang Moxiu. Two men, equally outstanding, but with different auras, taking a stroll in the garden late at night. What a loving image!

“Brother, a few days ago, Brother Hezi got us to help him smash his shop. Do you know about that?” He looked up.

“Uh-huh.” He took the cigarette, then lit it using the head of Xia Tian’s cigarette.

“I thought he was acting mad. However, today when I was chatting with him, he mentioned something that I want to ask you about. He said that it was because something happened to my sister in his shop. He deserved it, so he smashed his shop. Is that true?” He cut straight to the topic.

“Yes.” Jiang Moxiu admitted.

“About that… He said that my sister was drugged. I want to know…” Xia Tian stopped in his tracks, so Jiang Moxiu stopped too. The little calf narrowed his eyes at his “future brother-in-law”, as he slowly blew the smoke out. “The drug in my sister’s body, how did she get rid of it? Brother, did you send her to the hospital?”

Jiang Moxiu pursed his lips, then gave a small smile, “No.”

Xia Tian also smiled. He then dropped the cigarette on the group and stepped on it to extinguish the flame. As he blew out the rest of the smoke, his punch hit Jiang Moxiu without warning. The little calf was strong and quick, and he used all his strength in this punch.

Jiang Moxiu could have avoided it, and was already in the midst of moving away, but he suddenly changed his mind and decided not to hide. So, he took the punch in the face.

“Damn you! How dare you sleep with our Baobei! I didn’t agree to this! Fuck you!” One punch wasn’t enough, he added a few more punches, as his mouth continued cursing all sorts of profanities. No wonder this kid was unhappy the entire night; he was brooding over the loss of his sister’s virginity. Tsk! Be good, all women would have such a day. The calf Xia Tian had also done many bad things himself! But of course, he would always protect his own family.

By the fourth punch, Jiang Moxiu held Xia Tian’s fist. The corner of Jiang Moxiu’s lips were already swollen, and he spat the remnant bits of blood out. “Xia Tian, on this matter, I don’t think I didn’t anything wrong. I’m not apologising.”

“I don’t need to explain to you how much I like Baobei. That’s between me and her. I know what you are thinking. You’re worried that if we don’t end up together in the end, Baobei might suffer because of this. But I can guarantee this - I cherish her very much, and if I wasn’t sure about our future, I wouldn’t have touched her. Baobei and I will definitely get married.”

Xia Tian observed Jiang Moxiu intently, as though he was measuring how sincere the latter was. After a while, he gradually smiled, then withdrew his fist. This naturally friendly madman - one moment he wanted to beat the hell out of the other man, the next moment, he could sling his hand over the other man and call him brother.

“Brother-in-law, when you go out with my sister tomorrow, don’t tell her that I was the one who beat you up, otherwise my sister will vanquish me.” It was only now that he knew to find a way out for himself. “Oh, actually, I also think that you’re a responsible man. Look, I was just being rash. If you have a sister, and you know that she has been taken advantage of by some bastard, you’ll probably seek justice for her! Brother-in-law, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that you’re a bastard. Anyhow, you understand…”

Jiang Moxiu was speechless. Facing this pair of siblings, all he could say was, “you can’t reason with them”.

It’s true, who wouldn’t act like this? It was said that if a woman gave her first time away before marriage, most of them would cry, because they were uncertain about the future. From a webnovel, a man and his girlfriend were together for four years, but they didn’t do anything but kiss. His buddies all teased him, but he said, “if we don’t end up together in the end, I’m worried that her husband might scorn her because she’s not a virgin”. A man like this would probably just exist in novels.

It wasn’t that Xia Tian didn’t understand this feeling. Everyone had their crazy youth days, and they’d loved someone when they were young. Perhaps they might not be the most certain, but they were the most serious and the most sincere. Actually, he envied both Baobei and Jiang Moxiu. Xia Tian had a relationship with an older woman before. Initially, he was really just playing around, but when they broke up, he suddenly realised that to her, he was probably an accident, but to him, she was a true love. Of course, the ending was as expected, and Xia Tian wasn’t someone who would pester the other party. It could only be said that their love was deep but their fate was weak. There are too many forks on the road of life, and one turn could be a journey of a lifetime. On the previous junction, we might be familiar with each other, but we might become strangers again on the next. Sometimes, Xia Tian would think, would there be a day, when he suddenly turned around, their sorry paths would clash again…

He hoped that when he was at Jiang Moxiu’s age, he would meet a person he was determined to protect for an entire lifetime, and was willing to let him protect for an entire lifetime.

That would be incredibly blissful.

[1] Hongmen banquet, or feast at Hongmen, refers to a banquet that is arranged with the purpose of killing someone. Originated from a famous episode in 206 BC when future Han emperor Liu Bang escaped attempted murder by his rival Xiangyu.

[2] “Zhao Mei” and “Lai Mei” are both “auspicious” names to convey the Mo family’s wishes for a daughter. “Zhao Mei” is “recruiting a sister”, and “Lai Mei” is “let a sister come”.

[3] Gong and shou are the top and bottom in a gay relationship.

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