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Since Jian Suiying sprained his ankle, he did not feel like going to work and ended up resting at home for two days.
The day before the college entrance examination, he received a call from Jian Suilin while he was sitting askew on the sofa watching a movie.
Jian Suiying had only glanced at the caller ID and immediately muted the call, not in the mood to answer.
But Jian Suilin did not give up and continued calling him.
Feeling annoyed by then, Jian Suiying picked up and lazily asked, “What is it?”
“Ge, I heard from Li Yu that you injured your foot.”
“En, it’s sprained.”
“You… are you a bit better now? How are you eating, huh?”
“I haven’t starved to death.”
“Is there anyone taking care of you?”
“I only sprained my foot, it’s not like half of my body is paralyzed. I don’t need anyone to take care of me,” Jian Suiying firmly said, feeling somewhat impatient since he missed some scenes in the movie. “I’m hanging up.”
“Did you apply any medication on it yet? Have you massaged it? If you don’t treat it properly, it will take at least two weeks to heal.”
“How could it be that troublesome… it will be fine in a couple of days.”
“How about I bring over some medicine to you? There is always someone getting injured in our basketball team, so I know how to treat it.”
Jian Suiying rarely took any days off from work, therefore, staying home to rest alone for him felt extremely comfortable. That was the main reason why he didn’t want to see anyone and immediately refused. “You don’t have to. You have the college entrance examination tomorrow, stop wasting time so foolishly.”
“For the past few days, the teacher has been saying that there’s no need to review. It’s also boring to stay at home all day, let me go see you.”
“I said I don’t need it, so I don’t need it.”
“Aren’t you just being annoying? I’m most bothered about this part of you, always being so talkative and overly sensitive.”
Hearing that, Jian Suilin immediately swallowed the words he wanted to say.
Jian Suiying carelessly said, “Do well on the examination tomorrow. Don’t shame the name of the Jian family.” After that, he hung up and began to eat his snacks while watching the movie.
In fact, Jian Suiying’s foot had more or less healed. He had even thought that it was just a sprained ankle, what was the big deal? At this point, he just wanted to take advantage of the situation and rest a bit. He was in a rather good mood at first, but Jian Suilin’s call put him in a considerably bad mood. That kid Li Yu had injured his foot… he should be a bit more sympathetic and personally send him a greeting or something but having Jian Suilin give him a call instead. What does that even mean? Come on, it would be strange if he didn’t get angry.
Soon, the image of Li Yu’s flushed ears and dodging eyes emerge in his mind. Jian Suiying thought that that appearance of his was certainly not enough, he wanted to see it again.
He paused the movie, and everything was shrouded in silence – that kind of empty feeling was a lot more obvious now.
He suddenly felt that the room was really insufferable and that there was no character about it at all.
With that, he grabbed his phone and dialed Jian Suilin’s number.
The call was answered immediately, “Ge?”
“Ge, you… you want me to go over?”
“No, I want to eat spicy crayfish.”
“Then should I order some and bring it to you?”
“I don’t want to eat at home. Can you come here and take me to Gui Jie?”]
“Okay, I’ll go right now.”
“Oh, bring Li Yu.”
“Ah… bring Li Yu?”
“Bring him, ah.”
Jian Suilin went quiet for a moment and then asked hesitantly, “Why?”
Jian Suiying was stumped with that question for a moment before he boldly and confidently replied, “There’s no harm in getting along with the grandson of Lao Li’s family. It’s a good thing that the two of you have a pretty good relationship since I also want to discuss some things with his older brother. Perhaps, he will give me a piece of the land in the Northwestern part of Beijing.”
“Oh, I’m not familiar with his older brother. I’ve only met him a few times.”
“I’m also not too familiar with him either, but now is a good chance to get familiar. Alright, call Li Yu out to eat together.”
Just as Jian Suiying ended the call, his phone rang again. He glanced down and saw that it was Jian Suilin again.
“What else is there?”
“Sui Ying.” The sound of his father’s voice came from the other side.
“Hey, Sui Lin is going over to you?”
“I told him to bring some things with him. He can stay over there with you tonight.”
Jian Suiying was not happy at all upon hearing that. “What does he need to stay here for?”
“The area of the city where you live is close to where he is taking the exam. Since all the students are taking that very exam tomorrow, the traffic will definitely be serious. What’s going to happen if he arrives there late?”
“Didn’t he tell you that I sprained my foot? I can’t drive.”
“I know that but taking a taxi from your place is faster than going there from here.”
“Dad, there’s no space here for him to stay.”
His old man clicked his tongue, “Fuck, how big of a deal is it for your little brother to stay with you for a night?”
Jian Suiying rolled his eyes.
His father sincerely said in seconds, “Sui Ying ah, you’re both all grown up now. No matter what, he is your brother. When we are all dead, you two will only have each other to rely on. Do you understand?”
Since his father had always wanted the two brothers to have a peaceful relationship, he had often looked for ways to let them hang out together. In reality, those things were all useless. Jian Suiying wanted to ask his father whether or not he understood things. Since his father didn’t care about him, and let that woman get involved with his family and forced his mother to become like that, there was no way for him and Jian Suilin to be like the average brothers. It was impossible in this lifetime.
In all honesty, it was already generous of him to speak with Jian Suilin calmly without lashing out.
Jian Suiying lazily said, “Fine, fine, fine, he can stay if that makes both of you happy.”
His father let out a satisfying ‘alright’, but just as he was about to hang up, Jian Suiying said, ‘Oh.’
“Dad, tell Xiao Linzi to bring Lao Li’s grandson with him. Since my place is big, they can both stay here, and I’ll see them off tomorrow.”
“Even he can stay there?”
“Just ask. Both his father and older brother have a lot of power. Perhaps, it’ll be useful if something comes up. Anyways, here’s no harm in having a good relationship with them.”
“Alright. I’ll have Sui Lin ask him.”
When the call ended, Jian Suiying was looking forward to the possibility of having Li Yu stay the night, otherwise, it would be meaningless.
Jian Suiying waited at home for more than an hour. It wasn’t until his eyes slowly drooped that the doorbell finally sounded.
Sure enough, Jian Suiying brought Li Yu with him which instantaneously made Jian Suiying happy.
As soon as Jian Suilin walked in, he worriedly looked at Jian Suiying. “Ge, how’s your foot? My Ge, let me take a look.”
“There’s no need, it’s fine. What use is there for you to look at it? You’re not a doctor, you know.”
“Let me take a look. I brought some oil with me. Let me give you a massage.”
“No, no, come, just come in and sit down.” The last couple of courteous words were entirely directed at Li Yu.
Li Yu respectfully greeted him, “Jian-ge, how is your foot?”
Jian Suilin helped him sit down and insisted on looking at his foot.
At first, Jian Suiying was reluctant. However, thinking that revealing his swollen ankle that looked like a steamed bun could possibly provoke a sense of guilt from Li Yu, there was no loss in letting Jian Suiying look at it. With that in mind, he generously placed his foot on the sofa.
When Jian Suilin rolled up his pants and saw his foot, he frowned. “Ge, did you go to the hospital?”
“I didn’t. What’s the point of going, it will be fine in a couple of days.”
“That’s no good. If it’s not properly treated, you won’t be able to drive for a long time.” As he said that, he took out a small bottle of oil, “I’ll massage it for you. It will hurt a bit, so just endure it.”
Before Jian Suiying had a chance to say anything, Jian Suilin had already unscrewed the cap and poured some oil on his foot. Whatever he wanted to say remained in his throat for the time being.
Jian Suilin carefully placed his foot on his lap and began massaging gently, adding a bit more strength here and there, all the while holding his ankle.
Li Yu sat to the side and looked on. His body felt somewhat rigid, and no matter which way he sat, he felt uncomfortable. He didn’t understand why Jian Suilin was being so good to a brother like that, even to the point of pleasing him.
He always knew how Jian Suiying treated Jian Suilin. Whatever grievances that happened between the older generations had nothing to do with Jian Suilin—he was not at fault. However, Jian Suiying had stubbornly vented all his anger on Jian Suilin since they were young. Even before all of this, he had always been prejudiced against Jian Suiying. What made him even angrier was that no matter how Jian Suiying treated him, Jian Suilin had always said, “Honestly, my brother is pretty good to me”, then spoke highly of him again.
Every time he saw Jian Suiying arrogantly order Jian Suilin around, Li Yu would immediately think for Jian Suilin, “your brother is not worth it”.
But Jian Suiying didn’t feel like that at all.
In his opinion, no matter how he bullied him, it was normal for Jian Suilin to please him. He was the eldest son of the Jian family, the one who made the money and handled all the business affairs—many people in the family depended solely on his hard work while his father lived freely like a prince. Now that his grandfather was older, his father was the head of the household, and the second one who could say anything was him. God forbid that one day something happened to his father, he would have the final say in the Jian family. Don’t even mention Jian Suilin’s mother background, no one in the Jian family cared much about her. When the time comes, and that mother and son wanted to live a good life, they would have to at least look at Jian Suiying’s face. Jian Suilin was not stupid, if he didn’t please him, who should he please?
Therefore, the last time Li Yu said that Jian Suilin adored him, Jian Suiying thought that it was ridiculous. Jian Suilin must have certainly wished that a person like him, Jian Suiying, didn’t exist in this world.
The strength in Jian Suilin’s hand became stronger until Jian Suiying painfully scolded him, “Ouch, ouch, it hurts. Aren’t you being a bit rough, huh?”
“If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not effective. This method will improve blood circulation.”
“Okay, okay, okay, that’s enough. It’s too damn painful. That’s enough, don’t massage it anymore.”
“Ge, just endure it. It will get better quickly this way.”
“Fuck, I want it to slowly get better, okay? Stop massaging it!”
Jian Suiying stubbornly pulled his foot back.
But Jian Suilin simply held onto his foot, and practically coaxed him. “Ge, just endure it a bit longer, okay?”
“It’s not okay.” Jian Suiying kicked him in the stomach; actually, he didn’t use any strength and only took that opportunity to pull his foot back.
Li Yu couldn’t look on anymore. He immediately stood up with a darkened face and said, “Sui Lin is only doing it for your own good, what do you think you’re doing?”
Once those words dropped, the two people before him were stunned.
This two brothers’ method of getting along was the so-called, ‘one willing to hit and the other willing to endure’, they were already used to it by now.
Jian Suilin felt a bit embarrassed, “Li Yu…”
Li Yu frowned and sat back down, realizing that he had just lost control and forgotten his manners.
Jian Suiying also frowned, not knowing what he was mad about. He thought about it carefully, was it because he had kicked Xiao Linzi? He curled his lips2 and honestly thought that it was not a problem. He didn’t expect this kid, Li Yu, to be that loyal.
Soon after that, Jian Sui Yin grabbed a towelette and wiped his brother’s foot clean. “Ge, didn’t you want to eat spicy crayfish. Let’s go.”
“Did you get your driver’s license yet?”
“Yes, a while ago.”
“En, not bad. What car do you want to drive to school?”
“Ge, you can decide.”
“Okay, we’ll see how you do on the exam. If you do well, Ge will get a good car for you.”
“Thank you, Ge.”
1 Gui Jie (簋街) or “Ghost Street” is a popular street in Beijing with more than 100 restaurants offering a plethora of cuisines from different parts of China, spanning two subway stations of Dongzhimen and Beixinqiao.
What does the food have anything to do with ghosts? During the Qing Dynasty, the gate at Dongzhimen was used for transportation of corpses to the outskirts of Beijing for burial. Naturally, Dongzhimen became a hub for mortuary businesses. With the coffins, blurred and dim lighting and shadows from the oil lamps back then, the eerie street was dubbed as “Ghost Street”. Later on, when the street no longer served its specific use, other types of businesses commenced in the area though none seemed to have well other than the food business, which thrived especially well at night. The street name was changed to “Gui Jie (簋街)”, where “gui (簋)” still bears the same pronunciation as “ghost (鬼)” though the character for “gui (簋)” is completely different, meaning food container.
2 Curl one’s lips – he looked something along these lines.