The Perfect Relationship by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 18: Eating Cupcakes
In an early autumn afternoon, while golden rays of sunlight spilled through the windows, the tulle curtains were being blown in by the chilly autumn wind. A sweet scent of baked goods filled the air. In the kitchen, English words could be heard over the thrum of an electric mixer.
“…. The fans in your country are so scary. Just a while ago, people everywhere were asking about you on our high school Facebook page. Since then, your status-page hasn’t been updated.”
“I don’t think it’s going to change……”
As Yin Chang switched hands, he set the iPad on the counter and went to open the refrigerator. While talking to Evan, he got out the heavy cream and measured the needed amount.
On the screen, Evan turned on a small light as it was already night time. He leaned on a bed holding his iPad and asked: “But I still want to know how you are doing.”
“Use the phone to call me instead.”
“So, tell me what’s going on. What about your Brother? Does he live with you?”
“Well, he’s living with me now…”
It has been a month since Yin Dong ’s plane accident and the subsequent scandals that were published by the media. The double whammy had impacted Yin Chang emotionally more than he would have thought. In order to let him adapt to his new life style and to avoid long lasting prejudice against Yin Chang, for some time, Yao Manhuai let him remain out of site of the public and therefore, out of mind. She even went so far as to prevent his assistant, Lu Lingxuan, from posting on his official social media page.
During this time, Yin Chang stayed at home and primarily spent his time researching his Father’s company and work. In addition to learning about the business and entertainment industry, one could not help but cultivate positive feelings when being at home all day with your new brother.
As a result of lying-low, his conditions both with his brother and with the outside world improved.
Evan laughed: “It looks like you’re doing fine. You are even making him cupcakes.”
“… Not really. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.” Yin Chang spoke to him as he took out several ingredients from the cupboard. After sifting the flour, he combined the wet ingredients.
Baking was just a matter of doing something with his time. Since the kitchen was well equipped with luxurious appliances, he decided he should utilize them. He was surprised at how well domestic services had developed, especially in big cities. He had placed his order early this morning online and by the late afternoon, the delivery person was at his door.
“What are you so worried about?” Evan was cheerful. “Even though your father is gone, he left you with a brother. Isn’t that good?”
“…” If Yin Dong had explained to him about Shao Junling’s origin in advance, he might have been happy to have a brother.
“I am eight years older than him so there is a generation gap between us.” Yin Chang bent over to check the cupcakes in the oven. He straightened up to start making the chocolate sauce. “Even though we grew up in different environments, I still want to understand him better … but he doesn’t talk to me much. “
“Why not? Doesn’t he like you?”
“I don’t know if he likes me or not.” Yin Chang confessed: “Anyway, I don’t like him very much because he makes me feel angry. He just reminds me of my Father’s secret and makes me feel like dad was lying to me.”
“I’ve known you for a long time, so I can understand what you mean. If I hadn’t talked to my Parents for a while and they suddenly show up with another older child claiming to be my half-brother, I would also feel angry.” Evan adjusted his posture and holding his chin, he leaned on his arm: “You haven’t told me why he’s not talking to you.”
“He has a hard time expressing himself and often, I have to guess at what he is thinking.” Yin Chang shrugged his shoulder and sighed: “My guesses are often wrong.”
“Has he adjusted to the move yet?” Evan nodded his head.
“So far, there hasn’t been any problems. He just plays with his Legos quietly.” Although he knew that Shao Junling wouldn’t be able to understand their conversation, Yin Chang subconsciously turned around and lowered his voice: “However, I’m thinking about taking him to a specialist so they could administer an intelligence test for him. We have to make arrangements for him to go to school.”
Evan: “What grade is he in?”
Yin Chang: “At his age, he should have been in the third or fourth grade, but the welfare institution only taught children in one group with a uniform academic curriculum with little purpose. There wasn’t any targeted learning. I think, even if his intelligence is normal, at his current level, it may be necessary to stay back in school for one or two years.”
“Oh.” Evan smiled: “Then, do you have to tutor him?”
“No,” Yin Chang replied. “Yao Manhuai told me that I’ll probably be too busy and won’t have time.” With the sound of ‘ding’, the timer announced that cake finished baking. Yin Chang put on oven-mitts and reached over to open the oven. The mouth-watering odor of a freshly baked cupcakes permeated the air.
“Oh. Then, when will you be back?” Evan asked.
“Next week. I’m going back to get my cloths and personal effects then I’m dropping out.”
“Well, I’ll be working in China in the foreseeable future, so I won’t be going back to school anytime soon.”
“….Ehhhh!” Evan suddenly shouted from the video. “Is that your brother?”
Yin Chang glanced towards the iPad at the counter. The kitchen was open to the living area.
Evan had caught site of Shao Junling trying to sneak by. He was half-hidden behind the counter while trying to sneak a peek. “He looks so small,” Evan remarked.
As he talked, Shao Junling suddenly looked up at where the noise had come from and stared directly at Evan on the screen. “Hey, he seems to have found me!”
Yin Chang stopped what he was doing and spoke to Shao Junling in Chinese: “Brother is talking with a friend on the iPad.”
Shao Junling would have remained taut and staring coldly at the person on the screen, but the aroma was too enticing. After a few seconds, he dismissively turned away to find the source of the thing that had smelled so good.
Yin Chang: “…”
Evan groaned: “Wow, what does he mean by that?”
Yin Chang smirked and replied in English: “Now you know why I said what I did.”
Evan: “I felt like I was being provoked! His attitude makes me want to punch him!”
Yin Chang subconsciously said: “No, you can’t. He is my brother now.”
Evan: “Don’t you dislike him?”
Yin Chang: “Still, he’s my brother. I can dislike him, but I won’t let anyone hit him.”
After going to the refrigerator, Yin Chang commented: “Well, I’ll talk to you when I get back the day after tomorrow. Okay, good night.”
Hanging up the video call, Yin Chang didn’t speak with Shao Junling. Instead, he put the newly baked cupcakes on a cooling rack then took out a decorating gun to pipe the fresh cream on them. Quickly, Yin Chang finished putting on the icing and in a few moments, they were ready to eat.
Like a cat gazing on its prey, Shao Junling’s eyes darted back and forth, following the movement of Yin Chang’s hand.
Yin Chang saw him staring at the cupcakes intently with his mouth hanging open. He couldn’t help saying: “They are almost done.” The last touch was the chocolate syrup.
After taking the sauce out from the microwave, he drizzled it over the cupcakes. While he carried the plate of cupcakes to the table, Shao Junling followed him on his heels, like a puppy. As he sat down, Yin Chang gave him one to eat and said, “here you go,” but quickly remarked, “did you wash your hands first?” as he saw Shao Junling reach out with discolored hands.
When he heard Yin Chang’s commanding voice, he suddenly retracted his hands. However, Shao Junling’s continued to stare at the cupcakes on the table not believing they would be present once he left the table.
Yin Chang reminded him: “You can have as many as you want. Just wash your hands first.”
Shao Junling reluctantly got off the chair and left to wash.
Watching him, Yin Chang felt that Shao Junling was a bit cute. Although he had many bad habits like his hygiene, he was impolite and didn’t express himself well, Yin Chang thought he could at least raise him properly. As long as he was by his side, he could slowly teach him and change his behavior for the better.
When Shao Junling came back, Yin Chang pulled out a napkin and asked him to wipe his hands: “Ok. Now you can eat.”
As soon as Shao Junling heard Yin Chang, he snatched a dessert and couldn’t wait to start eating. Yin Chang watched him attentively.
For the time being, this was their daily routine. When Yin Chang served him food, he watched Shao Junling stuff himself. That is, the so-called ‘cultivate positive feelings’ was simply to live under the same roof and solve the problem of eating.
In the week that Shao Junling was back, Yin Chang found that his poor communication was indeed a big problem.
Even though he made attempts at serving him food that Shao Junling liked, when he asked him what he wanted, Shao Junling simply stared at Yin Chang in a daze and remained silent.
Yin Chang had to go in blind and fumble around for himself. He downloaded an app that specialized in food delivery service and ordered take-out at every meal. His original idea was to determine which foods he liked by ordering various ethnic styles of foods. However, after observing him at every meal, Yin Chang was no closer to learning what Shao Junling liked to eat as he was when he first moved in. Shao Junling ate everything. However, just because he ate everything, doesn’t necessarily mean he liked it.
For example, one day Yin Chang ordered a spicy hot pot. When Shao Junling sniffed the aromic scent of spices, his eyes sparkled like he was about to eat dessert. At the beginning of the meal, he wolfed down the food non-stop even though Yin Chang felt that the meal was quite spicy. Soon, it was obvious that Shao Junling was feeling uncomfortable. Not only did he start he fidgeting in his seat and whimpering, tears also fell from his eyes. As if he was in competition with Yin Chang, he kept his silence and continued shoveling the food into his mouth.
Over and over, Yin Chang asked him if he was feeling alright. Did he feel sick and need to go to the hospital? Was he thinking about something sad? More than he ever had in the past with his girlfriends, he was determined to be patient.
Even though he gave several opportunities for Shao Junling to answer him, Shao Junling just endured his discomfort and said nothing. While his face turned redder and redder, he continued to stuff his mouth full of food.
Eventually, Yin Chang gave in. He walked directly to the refrigerator and got out a bottle of ice water then forced him to drink half of it. Finally, Shao Junling said something.
Yin Chang couldn’t help himself. He laughed at Shao Junling misery. It turned out that Shao Junling wasn’t used to spicy food and he simply wanted to be brave.
After dinner, Shao Junling hid behind the sofa while playing with his Legos looking very pitiful.
In the end, Yin Chang was also affected by his stunt. He felt upset because Shao Junling’s reaction made Yin Chang feel like he was abusing him.
“If you don’t like something, say so right away.”
“…… Like or not like. Are these words too difficult to say?”
“….. How will I know if you don’t tell me?”
“….. Shao Junling, are you listening?”
He had his back towards Yin Chang for a long time and simply grunted back at him: “Hmm.”
That being said, Yin Chang didn’t expect Shao Junling to change so suddenly. His only method was to get better at observing him and understanding what he saw.
After several meals, Yin Chang was able to figure out what Shao Junling liked more-or-less. He favored high-fat, high-calorie foods like dessert, fried chicken and hamburgers and he lacked interest in healthy food like lettuce and salads. He didn’t like spicy food and he wouldn’t touch seafood like shrimp and crab.
Since Shao Junling was relatively thin and lacked muscle mass, Yin Chang didn’t think there was a problem for now. However, in the long run, in order to grow properly, Yin Chang knew he needed to find a nutritionist that specialized in children’s growth to plan a healthy diet for him.
At the moment, Yin Chang was worried as he continued to watch him eat the cupcakes in one breath.
Next week, he was going abroad to pack his belongings without Shao Junling as he didn’t have a passport and visa. Although this was a small problem that could be fixed with the appropriate documents and forms, a larger issue was, what to do with Shao Junling while Yin Chang was gone?
The author has something to say: 【Vignette】
Shao Junling’s mental state when eating spicy hot pot:
It smells sooooo good! ΟωΟ
……. Umm, Hmm, why is it so hot! QwQ
But I have to eat so I can grow up quickly! (* ￣︿￣)
But it’s really hot. ~~ QAQ
(Hiding in the corner afterwards because he felt embarrassed) I’m angry. (〒 〒)