Translated by Karcessel of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Zhao XueMei never could have expected for this trip to ChaoYang Street to end in such a disaster, and she didn't even manage to see Old Man Yang. Those two brats she never spared a second glance turned out to have been hiding behind an unassuming demeanor all along.
With Xiao Xiao injured by that wolf in sheep's clothing, Zhao XueMei's persistent grudge against Old Man Yang and this new hatred mingled together into one bitter mess, and the contempt in her heart swelled. If Old Man Yang hadn't taken those two brats into his home, fed them and clothed them and kept them, how could something like this have happened?
On top of this loathing, Zhao XueMei recalled her glance inside the XiQin restaurant earlier, and only grew ever more convinced that Old Man Yang was filching money under the table and keeping them in the dark. She had no idea how much money he had kept hidden from them over the years, and yet he wouldn't even give them one old and worn down restaurant.
Thinking this over, she became ever more convinced that her guess was correct.
After a moment, Zhao XueMei grit her teeth and helped Yang Xiao up.
"I'm not through with the two of you yet!" She spat.
"Mom, let's just go back. Let's forget about the house, Grandpa has made up his mind not to give it to us anyway."
"Forget about the house?" Zhao XueMei sneered. "Fine, but even if I forget about the house, I will never forget this grudge. I refuse to let those two bastard brats go unscathed!"
Yang Xiao just thought that his mother was spitting venom in midst of an angry rage, and failed to catch the clear, burning look in her eyes.
That aside, Shen Fu on the other hand caught up to Lin ShuYi in a few large steps, only to find Lin ShuYi already staring at him.
Shen Fu was immediately cautious. "What's wrong? Why are you staring at me? Don't tell me you're going to start lecturing me. I really didn't raise a hand against him, only a foot. That shouldn't count as a fight, right?"
"Did you get hurt?"
Shen Fu was surprised for a moment, then burst out a grin. "Do I look like someone who could be hurt by that?"
Lin ShuYi laughed. "No."
Surprised again, Shen Fu quickly straightened out his face. "Don't laugh!"
Though much effort, Lin ShuYi had tried to move on and give Shen Fu some face, but then Shen Fu said this. Lin ShuYi looked at him for a moment, then turned around and left.
Shen Fu stood in place for a long moment. Grinding his teeth in frustration, he mumbled "… I almost couldn't hold back."
Eventually, the two of them returned to the XiQin restaurant together. Old Man Yang hadn't lied down to rest that long ago, but he was already up, sitting at a table. Xiao Wan sat across from him. Old Man Yang's back was facing them and his face obscured, so it was unclear what they were talking about.
"Xiao Yi gege! Xiao Fu gege!" Xiao Wan's sharp eyes spotted the two of them as soon as they stepped inside the restaurant, and she called out enthusiastically. Old Man Yang turned around as well.
The customers who had been eating inside the restaurant earlier when Zhao XueMei and her son arrived were already gone, replaced by a new batch of customers. Naturally, no one currently in the shop was aware of the event that just occured. Old Man Yang greeted the two of them happily. "Xiao Wan's grandmother sent over some pig trotters, come and eat!"
Seeing that Old Man Yang didn't seem like he was aware of anything that just occured, Lin ShuYi finally relaxed.
What he did not expect was for Shen Fu to open his mouth and immediately say, "Yang Xiao and his mother just came by."
"…" Lin ShuYi whipped his head around to glare at Shen Fu.
Old Man Yang's expression changed slightly. He said, "They came again? Didn't cause any trouble, did they?"
Shen Fu shook his head. They didn't cause any trouble, despite their original intention to do so.
"I taught Yang Xiao a bit of a lesson. I hope grandpa won't be angry with me."
"…" Silence from both Lin ShuYi and Xiao Wan.
Old Man Yang really didn't expect Shen Fu to just lay everything out like that, straight to the point. He smiled softly. "It's alright. Yang Xiao that child, with that attitude, he really needs a lesson or two. All he knows is how to rely on his parents and cause trouble. It's alright, grandpa isn't angry. I know that you would never go too far."
Shen Fu smiled warmly.
Old Man Yang gazed out into the distance for a long moment. He sighed, and then began speaking. "When JianGuo was just a small child, his mother passed away. I was too busy earning money to care for him, so he grew up with his grandmother. I was constantly away, only seeing him a few times a year, but I always told myself that it was all for him. All that time away, all that effort making money, it was all to support JianGuo. I thought that even if I wasn't be his side, it was alright. It wasn't something I could help.
"It was only much later when one day I came home to see him standing outside the front door. He was so timid, so scared calling out to me, worn down by years of his grandmother's harsh scoldings and iron grip, but I realised my mistakes too late. His cowardly temperament forged during childhood was already set in stone.
"Later, when he was going to marry Zhao XueMei, I knew it wasn't right. I was never on board with it. XueMei that girl, she had a powerful personality. With JianGuo's soft temperament, he was bound to play in the palm of her hand for the rest of his life. But there was nothing I could do. JianGuo loved her, and I tried to convince myself that maybe such a strong personality would be alright, at least JianGuo wouldn't be bullied by others after I was gone…
"Sometime I still think to myself, this is all my fault. This is all because of my independent, do everything myself attitude. It's all my fault that my family ended up like this. The Heavens are punishing me for neglecting my son, it's all because I never raised him properly that everything ended up like this."
It took a moment for Lin ShuYi, Shen Fu, and Xiao Wan to react. Old Man Yang was only reminiscing, he'd always blamed himself, resting all the weight of the responsibilities onto his own shoulders, trying to make the harshness of reality more bearable on his heart.
Letting all this out now, something must have been the trigger. He must have an idea of some kind in his head.
Lin ShuYi couldn't find any words ot say, so instead he walked over, resting his hands on Old Man Yang's thin, stooped shoulders. Meanwhile, he threw Shen Fu a pleading glance, urging him to take on Old Man Yang. Talking was Shen Fu's speciality after all.
Shen Fu took a deep breath. "Grandpa, how could this all be your fault? Everyone is responsible for their own choices."
Old Man Yang straightened up, and rubbed his eyes. "Forget it, you don't need to say anything. People just tend to think about the past when they get old, that's all."
Truthfully, Old Man Yang wasn't looking for comfort. He was just venting the dark depressing feelings clouding his chest so he could make a decision with a clear mind.
"Enough, enough. If they want to come, then let them come. Xiao Fu, you don't need to stop them. If they want to talk properly, I'll pour them a cup of tea and invite them in for a seat. If they don't want to talk properly, then it wouldn't be difficult to ask them to leave."
Listening to him talk, it didn't sound like the way someone who speak of their close family at all.
Shen Fu and Lin ShuYi both understood what Old Man Yang meant, but Xiao Wan was still confused. She didn't quite grasp who Old Man Yang was talking about or what had just happened.
After going home, she relayed the day's events to her grandmother, and this conversation. Her grandmother understood immediately and laughed. "Well done! A grandson and daughter-in-law like these two need to learn that their ascendants weren't born to owe them. For a parent, what's the difference between having unfilial parents versus having a chunk of barbequed pork!"
Her laughter ceded, and Xiao Wan's grandmother sighed. "I'm afraid that with the kind of person Old Man Yang is, a decision like this could only have come after countless sleepless nights. Ah, having such a spineless son and ferocious daughter-in-law, how unlucky he is."
Xiao Wan finally understood the situation a bit, and snuggled close to her grandmother, taking her arm and tugging at it like a small child. "See, our family is the best after all! Mom always takes care of you, and dad respects you too. And not to mention me, I love grandma the most!"
Xiao Wan's grandmother finally couldn't help but smile, reaching forward to boop Xiao Wan's nose. "Of course, only you're the sweetest!"
When Zhao XueMei and Yang Xiao finally returned home, Yang JianGuo was in middle of cooking gyoza. Upon seeing Yang Xiao limping, leaning on his mother for support, Yang JianGuo's expression changed immediately. "What happened? Where did the two of you go?"
Zhao XueMei hadn't expected Yang JianGuo to be home. She was still pent up from the scene earlier, full of hot air with nowhere to vent, so she vented it all on Yang JianGuo. "Where did we go? What happened? Ha, you still have the nerve to ask! This disaster is all because of that father of yours!"
With Zhao XueMei seemingly dragging his father through the mud for her own misfortunes again, Yang JianGuo's expression turned dark. "All you need to do is tell me what happened. Why bring up my father for no reason?"
The fury in Zhao XueMei's gut burned hotter as she realised Yang JianGuo had just spoken back to her. She pulled Yang Xiao's shirt up violently, revealing the bruises on his stomach. "No reason? This was done by those two bastard kids under your father's wing, and you still dare say I have no reason?!"
Yang JianGuo suddenly understood. Zhao XueMei and Yang Xiao had gone to find his father again. Behind his back. "You went to find my dad again?"
Zhao XueMei scowled at him "We did. So what!?"
Yang JianGuo's face was flushing bright red. "My father already said that he wouldn't sell the house. Why won't you just let this matter go?"
Zhao XueMei's voice rose an octave. "I won't let this matter go! So what? It's just some trashy old house and he's treating it like some treasure. I understand, Yang JianGuo, you're taking all your own issues out on me, aren't you? Xiao Xiao was attacked by someone and you haven't even speared him a single glance, yet you're interrogating me about visiting your dad? Fine, I'll tell you! I did go ask for the house again. What are you going to do about it, huh?!"
Yang JianGuo's voice rose as well. "Xiao Xiao this, Xiao Xiao that, as if he hasn't been spoiled by you enough! With his personality, he'd never make it out in the world by himself!"
With these words, Yang Xiao's face darkened too.
In their entire relationship, Yang JianGuo had never talked back to Zhao XueMei as much as he had today, and to say something like this at that. Zhao XueMei was so furious she was shaking. Jerking forward, she slapped Yang JianGuo and screamed, "I spoiled him? Xiao Xiao is so big already, but have you ever even cared about him? All you care about is your father! What a shame you father never cared about you! He'd even leave that old house to two of his bastards rather than leave it to you!"
"Zhao XueMei, what did you say?!" At Zhao XueMei's sudden topic, Yang JianGuo grew truly furious, but Zhao XueMei didn't care at all.
"What did I say? I'll say it again! Bastards, bastards, bastards! Those two brats are just some bastards your father sired with god knows who. Calling them orphaned children, what a joke! Countless orphans on this earth, yet I don't see your father going around taking in and raising all of them. Since those two brats appeared, you father has been bending over backwards coddling them. If they aren't his bastards, than what are they?! And god knows what whore he fucked to make—"
Before Zhao XueMei's words even finished, the back of Yang JianGuo's hand slammed into her face so hard her entire body twisted to the side. Her ears were left ringing. Zhao XueMei's eyes were wide, and she was frozen for what seemed like an eternity.
Yang JianGuo also didn't expect something like that to have come from him. His hand was still frozen in midair, numb from the impact, and he stood shaking in righteous fury. For the first time in his life, he reacted on instinct, unhindered by anxiety.
Zhao XueMei's cheek went from numb, to tingling, to burning, and a bead of blood formed at the corner of her lips. The taste of copper lit her tongue, and as if something snapped in her, she finally reacted. Hair a mess, eyes wild like a madman's, she threw herself at Yang JianGuo. "Yang JianGuo! You dare hit me?! I'm going to make you regret living!"
The shock of seeing these two people wrestling on the floor jump started Yang Xiao's psyche. His father… hit his mother? If this was sometime in the past, such a thing would have been unimaginable.
What the hell was going on? How come that ever since visiting grandpa that first time, his family seemed to have been shattering like cracked ice, fissures still spreading?
Yang Xiao narrowed his eyes, and finally, a thread of hatred towards his grandfather began to coalesce in his heart.