Chapter 46

The Promise Sealed with Our Lips Guan Gai Man Jing Hua, 冠蓋滿京華 2022/9/13 16:52:57

He Nuo obediently turned into a masked man during his breaks. Shi Yan didn’t come to find him very often. Half his face was covered while they cycled on the road, so he would have to pull his scarf down if he wanted to speak; he could easily choke on the wind if he did that, so Shi Yan always made He Nuo hide behind him and asked him not to talk. If he wanted to say something, he should wait until they were in a place where there was no wind.

New Year’s was approaching, which meant that their semester was drawing to a close. Even though they were being crushed by the immense workload of their third year, the students still treasured this last group activity of their high school life (faints, when I wrote about the group activity I suddenly remembered that He Nuo had partic.i.p.ated in this year’s Autumn sports festival as well. Because there were only a few boys in the liberal arts cla.s.s, no one could escape the responsibility of taking on at least two sports, this happened in October not long after he had reconciled with Shi Yan. I forgot to write about it, so I’ll just have to add this in in an extra.) So in addition to the New Year’s party that was held at school in the afternoon, some students had also organised some late night entertainment outside of school — one of the student’s parents had offered their company’s huge conference room and their house’s unused one-storey courtyard to host it.

Most of Shi Yan’s gang had been invited to the party, so Shi Yan told He Nuo to apply for leave from his family to go out to play for awhile and return home a bit later that night. This wasn’t difficult; after He Nuo told his parents where he was going and who he was going with, they agreed to let him return home late. They had their usual cla.s.ses in the morning, then in the afternoon a few students didn’t go home as they began to decorate their cla.s.srooms. Shi Yan wasn’t in charge of anything this year because he didn’t have the time. He had to leave almost immediately after school ended everyday to send He Nuo back home.

When he reached the school’s bike shed in the morning, Shi Yan took out a paper bag from his backpack, “Take this to your cla.s.s.”

He Nuo waved his hand and pointed at his backpack as a signal to tell Shi Yan that he had already brought some.

“I know you’d bring some.” Shi Yan smiled, “If you didn’t it’s not like you’d eat the food others bring. I brought this for you, eat more later and don’t just give it all to other people.”

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He Nuo only untied his huge scarf after he had reached the second floor. He waved the lunchbox and asked, “What tasty food is in this?”

“Squid with crispy rice crust1, I specially got the company to make it. Keep it warm near the heater, or else it’d taste a little fishy when you eat it.”

He Nuo interacted more often with the students in his current cla.s.s than in his previous one, and were more familiar with his cla.s.smates here. So he happily observed his cla.s.s gathering this time and would listen in to the conversations of others. Once in awhile, he’d chat with Yu Yao and a few of his other cla.s.smates. Shi Yan once represented his cla.s.s to pay the liberal arts cla.s.s a New Year’s call, and had sat by He Nuo’s side for awhile. He quietly asked He Nuo if he liked the dish he brought. To tell the truth, it really did taste quite good, but when He Nuo saw that the others liked to eat it too and were even fighting over it, he only took some with his chopsticks once and never tried to take anymore after that.

After their cla.s.s’s gathering ended, Shi Yan brought He Nuo to a restaurant. When they went in, they didn’t see anyone else so He Nuo asked out of curiosity, “Aren’t we eating with them?”

“We’ll go look for them later, we won’t get to eat if we have dinner with them. They’re preparing a barbeque, and there might not even be enough meat for all those wolves. We’ll eat here first before going over.” As he spoke, he had already pa.s.sed an Apollo over to He Nuo.

This was their first time eating together. Shi Yan didn’t know what He Nuo liked to eat, so he gave him the menu first. He Nuo’s eyes were only filled with the menu’s prices, and he didn’t know how to order in the first place. Shi Yan casually asked, “What do you like to eat? I’ll recommend a few dishes to you ba.”

“I’m not picky, I’ll eat anything.”

Shi Yan turned around to order a few dishes. He Nuo anxiously called out, “Are we ordering takeout for them?”

“We’re not.”

“Then one dish is enough, why are you ordering so many?”

Shi Yan smiled and said, “Do you think I eat as little as you?” before he continued listing his orders to the waiter.

After the waiter left, He Nuo asked, “It should be quite expensive to eat here ba?”

“All you think about is money! Money! Money! It’s not like I’ll detain you here to make you wash the dishes.”

“But we don’t need to eat at a restaurant right? You can go home to have dinner, I’ll wait for you at their place first.”

“This is the company’s restaurant, it’s specifically responsible for entertaining guests. I had already informed them that we would be coming here for dinner, so you don’t need to worry so much.”

The dishes came one after the other. There were five dishes and one soup: stewed cod, braised pork ribs, barbequed prawns, sauteed kidneys, stir-fried broccoli and duck soup. Shi Yan specially ordered these dishes for He Nuo; he didn’t like to eat fish and prawns himself, but these two dishes were apparently the signature dishes here so he had hoped that He Nuo could get to try them. He had heard that it wasn’t good for people with bad kidneys to eat chicken, and as the old saying goes — eat whatever you lack — so Shi Yan had specially ordered kidneys as well. Duck soup was usually consumed to improve one’s Qi and blood during winter, and Shi Yan has always felt that He Nuo had a fundamentally deficient const.i.tution.

He Nuo took some broccoli — he liked its light taste, so he kept eating this green vegetable dish. The first dish Shi Yan took were the ribs, “I’m a carnivore who doesn’t like fish and prawns, so you’re in charge of clearing those. You better eat up.”

After He Nuo uttered an ‘oh’, he took some ribs for himself. He took one bite, then placed it at the side of his bowl. After Shi Yan cleaned off half his bowl of rice, he saw that the rib He Nuo had taken one bite out of was still in his bowl, and that he was only eating broccoli. The ribs here are quite delicious and Shi Yan likes them, so he asked, “You don’t like these ribs? What about prawns? Don’t tell me you don’t eat seafood ba.” He took one barbequed shrimp for He Nuo, “It’s their signature dish, everyone loves it. Give it a try.”

He Nuo clumsily bit on the prawn sh.e.l.l. Shi Yan s.n.a.t.c.hed it from his mouth, “Why are you being so refined? Just peel it with your hands.” Shi Yan had finished peeling the shrimp easily before he placed it in He Nuo’s bowl.

“Thank you.” He Nuo felt a bit uneasy.

“How is it?”

“It’s quite nice.”

“Then eat more of it.”

He scooped some kidneys for He Nuo, but He Nuo spit one out after he took a bite. When he saw Shi Yan stare at him, he said in embarra.s.sment, “Sorry, what’s this? I’m not used to the taste.”

Shi Yan stood up and carried the plate over to sit next to He Nuo, then scooped another spoonful and placed it near his mouth, “Who was the one who said he wasn’t picky?”

He Nuo turned his head to avoid it, “It has a weird taste, I don’t like it.”

“Then what do you like? You don’t like eating anything that’s good for your body.”

“How can such an awful dish be good for me?” He Nuo understood very clearly that Shi Yan treated him very well. But aside from medicine, Shi Yan had never forced him to eat something so difficult to swallow before.

Shi Yan didn’t want to tell He Nuo that his kidneys were in a bad state. He ate a mouthful of kidneys himself, “Eating this is good for all men, I eat them quite often. When have you ever seen me cough all day or get fevers for fun?”

He Nuo was so amused by Shi Yan he chuckled, “But it’s not like I have a fever now anyway.”

Shi Yan placed the kidneys in his bowl, “Give it another try. This is the restaurant owned by our company, they clean these quite thoroughly so it doesn’t have much of a taste. You’re just not used to it.”

He Nuo took another bite as he found it difficult to refuse Shi Yan’s kindness, but he just couldn’t seem to like its taste. Shi Yan saw that he didn’t like the fish and prawn dishes much either, so he wasn’t in a very good mood, “What exactly do you like to eat? Let’s order some other dishes ba.”

“No, it’s not that I don’t like to eat them, they’re all delicious. It’s just that they’re too greasy, so I can’t stomach them very well.”

Shi Yan took a prawn over and peeled off its oily sh.e.l.l, then asked the waiter to get them a small saucer filled with vinegar, “This barbequed one is only oily on the outside. If you dip it in vinegar it can alleviate the greasiness, eat a few more. The stewed cod also has a light taste, just eat these two ba.”

Shi Yan wasn’t very happy throughout this meal. He Nuo said that he was full after just one bowl of rice, and after he forced himself to drink a bowl of duck soup, he couldn’t even stomach any duck meat afterwards at all. He could tell that He Nuo barely touched the dishes, which made Shi Yan lose his appet.i.te too. Shi Yan settled the bill with one signature, then they left the restaurant.