[Chapter 058] “Teacher Bian, why don’t you let me stay over tonight?”
During the New Year, Liu Mo gave all her staff a red packet, treating it as a year-end bonus. She gave Bian JinYuan the largest red packet—6666#, and hoped that this amount would help him have a better New Year.
Bian JinYuan found this amount too alarming, and felt that he didn’t deserve it. Liu Mo laughingly remarked, “Xiao Bian has to come to work next year, otherwise the girls coming here for you won’t visit anymore and we’ll lose business.”
Bian JinYuan nodded his head and said, “Thank you.”
Mother Lu had also given him a red packet, “Happy new year teacher Xiao Bian, thank you for your hard work. I hope that you will continue to tutor Xiao Fei.”
“Aunty you’re very nice,” Bian JinYuan said politely.
Lu YunFei helped him go store his red packet in his bag, and also brought over several new year goodies, “Take these home to eat, these are goodies given to us by others and we can’t finish them. They’d spoil if we just leave them be. It’s just nice that you could take them instead, then you don’t have to buy them.”
Bian JinYuan didn’t reject them and bid his goodbye.
Uncle Li sent him to the train station, and Bian JinYuan carried the bags home. Bian Jie wasn’t home, and Shuang Shuang had gone to a friend’s house, so Bian JinYuan didn’t have anything to do. He opened his bag to find the red packet.
He opened the red packet to find a card and a note.
The note said: Teacher Xiao Bian, the password is Fei Fei’s birthday and age. Thank you for your help this semester. His youth has become more vibrant because of you. Please accept this.
A smiley face was drawn on the back.
Bian JinYuan looked at it in silence for a long time.
He asked Lu YunFei, “Did you know that your mother gave me a card?”
Lu YunFei replied, “I know. You deserve it. If it were up to me, I’d have given you a gold bar.”
Bian JinYuan: …
Bian JinYuan said, “It’s too much.”
Soon after, he received Lu YunFei’s reply, “Not too much. You have to know that you’re a priceless treasure.”
Bian JinYuan didn’t know what to say at that moment.
In all his years, he had never heard someone say these words to him.
Even though his mother or Bian Jie had bever been stingy with their expressions and were always able to make him feel their love and care, they were adults after all and wouldn’t say such mushy words. They were down to earth and mature.
Lu YunFei was different. He was carefree, like a horse galloping in the sky.
“To you?” Bian JinYuan asked.
Lu YunFei’s answer was absolute, without a shred of doubt. He said plainly, “That’s right.”
Bian JinYuan looked at the message and couldn’t help but smile.
Later on, he checked the amount of money in his card to find that it was a reasonable amount, a solid 30,000. Bian JinYuan stood at the ATM machine for a while, before withdrawing the money.
When Bian Jie heard that he had returned the remainder of the debt to Jiang Jian and Jiang Fang, she exclaimed in surprise, “Where did you get that much money from?”
“The scholarship money for this semester, the award for Well-rounded Student, Liu jie’s salary and red packet, plus the tutoring payment from my classmate. These added up to enough.”
Bian Jie knew that the First High scholarship had always been a substantial amount. After roughly calculating, it seemed to be a few tens of thousands.
“Alright then, I’ll call Ah Jian and Ah Fang over tomorrow. We’ll have a meal together and pay off the loan at the same time.”
Bian JinYuan nodded and said, “Small aunt, after we return the money, let’s have fewer interactions with them. Pretend that we don’t have familial ties to those two.”
Bian Jie saw the resolution in his eyes. She knew that Bian JinYuan didn’t like Jiang Jian and Jiang Fang. He was very similar to his mother in that they clearly distinguished between love and hate, like and dislike in a single glance. When Bian Ting was around, she would always pull Bian Jie behind her protectively to say, “Just listen to me.”
Now that her son was all grown up, he was more and more like her elder sister when she was younger.
Bian Jie “Mmm”-ed in. reply. She wasn’t close to Jiang Jian and Jiang Fang in the first place, and had been wholly dependent on Jiang Feng. With all that had happened after Jiang Feng fell sick, she had totally cooled her heart towards this pair of siblings. It was only because she knew that they were her late husband’s younger siblings and that she owed them money, that Bian Jie had kept a soft spot for them.
However, compared to Bian JinYuan, they weren’t worth even mentioning.
She loved two people most in her life – Bian Ting had left her Bian JinYuan, while Jiang Feng had left her Shuang Shuang. To her, everything that she did was to propel them forward. Since Bian JinYuan disliked Jiang Jian and Jian Fang, and those two prized materialism over familial relations, she didn’t really have anything to hang onto.
While they could dismiss Jiang Jian and Jiang Fang, they couldn’t ignore Jiang Feng’s parents – Shuang Shuang’s grandparents. Over the new year, Jiang Feng’s mother had given them a call to ask her to bring Shuang Shuang over to spend the new year with them. Bian Jie knew that Jiang Feng’s parents disliked Bian JinYuan ever since she had brought him under her wing, and so she had turned down the invite with the excuse that she was too busy.
Upon hearing that, Jiang Feng’s mother had cried out, “It’s only been so long since my son passed away and now you’ve already refused to recognise me as your mother-in-law. You only visit a few times every year, and you don’t even come back for New Year. Xiao Fang said that you told them that you weren’t going to continue interacting anymore. What now, how has the Jiang family mistreated you? Aren’t you afraid that my son is turning in his grave at this!”
She made such a ruckus. Bian Jie understood that she wanted to see Shuang Shuang. After all, Shuang Shuang was Jiang Feng’s son, and the youngest grandson of the Jiang family. However, just visiting the Jiang household meant that the Jiang grandparents, Jiang Jian, and Jiang Fang would inevitably talk badly about Bian JinYuan. Bian Jie refused to entertain them, and so she could only reply superficially that they would visit them on the first day of the new year.
She hung up the phone and told Bian JinYuan about it. Bian JinYuan levelly replied, “You and Shuang Shuang should go, I’ll stay behind.”
“You’ll be home alone?”
“Can’t I?” Bian JinYuan smiled, “I’m not a young child anymore. Small aunt, you don’t have to worry about me being in danger.”
That wasn’t her point, but… Bian Jie looked at him, her heart pricking.
Bian JinYuan continued, “You should go with Shuang Shuang. Perhaps Shuang Shuang’s grandmother might even want you to stay for a few days. Don’t worry about me, I won’t get in trouble.”
“I’ll try to come back early.”
On New Year’s eve, Bian JinYuan and Bian Jie made a reunion dinner, enjoying the view of the spring night while chatting. The class one group chat was also exceptionally talkative, with people sending each other red packets while wishing for better grades in the new year.
Lu YunFei sent Bian JinYuan a big red packet, “Happy New Year Bian Bian! May the new year be even better!”
Bian JinYuan gave him an even bigger red packet and echoed his greetings: “Happy New Year Fei Fei! May the new year be even better!”
Lu YunFei was dissatisfied, “Why did you give me so much?”
Bian JinYuan posted an emoji as he replied, “It’s the new year, I’ve got to give my student some spending money, otherwise how could I call myself your teacher.”
With such sensible logic, Lu YunFei had no choice but to receive it.
“Just wait until school starts next year for me to send you a teacher’s present!”
“Okay,” Bian JinYuan replied. When it came to the new year, he could still return it.
Lu YunFei chatted with him for a while and, noticing that it was almost 9pm, said that he had something on and couldn’t continue chatting before he left in a hurry. Bian JinYuan wanted to ask him what was up but wound up not asking in the end, so he put his phone down.
Lu YunFei felt that he didn’t have it easy at the thought of him having to work part-time as a Tmall Genie at Bian JinYuan’s house during New Year. He listened in on Bian JinYuan’s and Bian Jie’s conversation, until he heard Bian Jie say, “You can heat these leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I’ll wrap some dumplings up tomorrow morning. If I don’t come back tomorrow, you can eat them the day after.”
“Okay,” Bian JinYuan said.
What did this mean? Lu YunFei wondered in confusion. Was Bian Jie leaving? To where? To their old home? From her words, it didn’t seem that Bian JinYuan was going with. Did that just leave Bian JinYuan alone at home? Or was Shuang Shuang staying too?
Lu YunFei was still puzzled, but Bian Jie soon answered his questions before bedtime. She picked out some clothes for Shuang Shuang and told him, “You’ll wear this tomorrow.”
Shuang Shuang nodded in satisfaction, “Looks good.”
“Yes, it looks good.”
Bian JinYuan pinched Shuang Shuang’s cheek, and Shuang Shuang hugged him to say sweetly, “Gege looks the best.”
Bian JinYuan chuckled and gave him a sweet.
Before they retired for the night, Bian Jie slipped the both of them New Year’s money under their pillows✤, wishing them good health in the next year.
The next morning, Bian Jie wrapped some dumplings and ate lunch with Bian JinYuan, and then picked up her stuff to leave for Jiang Feng’s family home.
At this time, Lu YunFei was playing with his cousins. The first day of New Year was a good time for relatives to visit, and the Lu household had many visitors. Lu YunFei accompanied the little rascals to play for a while before he spied Lu YunShang come down the stairs, and quickly threw those rascals over to her before hiding in his bedroom.
He had been thinking about Bian JinYuan being alone at home, and so he asked: Teacher Bian, what are you busy with?
Bian JinYuan replied: Doing homework.
Lu YunFei mulled over it: Why don’t we do it together?
Bian JinYuan was a little touched by his suggestion and asked: How?
“Let’s meet up somewhere.”
Lu YunFei searched for a bit before sending the address of a hotel.
Bian JinYuan: ???
Lu YunFei: A lot of hotels are closed. This isn’t bad – the facilities and view are good, the food isn’t shabby either. Most importantly they have fast internet speeds. If we get tired of doing homework, we could play some online games.
Bian JinYuan thought that he had too much money to spend if he was willing to spend so much on a hotel just to do homework. If this got out, others would want to punch him in the stomach.
Bian JinYuan refused. He looked up a book bar online, “Let’s go here.”
Lu YunFei took a look at it, didn’t reject the notion, and packed his things to leave for the place.
Book bars were virtually empty on the first day of New Year. It was only the boss who sat inside reading a book. Lu YunFei and Bian JinYuan ordered a drink each and went up to the second floor to work on their homework quietly.
It was already past 2pm when they left. Dusk came early in winter, getting dark at 6pm. Lu YunFei nudged Bian JinYuan and said, “Let’s go eat. Are you heading home to eat?”
“No,” Bian JinYuan said, “There’s no one home today.”
Lu YunFei raised his eyebrows, “What about your family?”
“But you didn’t go.”
“Didn’t want to,” Bian JinYuan replied simply.
Lu YunFei didn’t press further, packing his bag as he readied to head out for a meal.
They found a restaurant that looked decent, ordered a few dishes, and ate as they chatted over their meal. The day grew darker. Lu YunFei wanted to go home, but perhaps due to it being the Spring Festival, it was more difficult to call a cab.
Lu YunFei felt a bit moody after noticing that the hand on his watch had already spun for half a circle, yet there was still no car. Bian JinYuan knew that public transport was not convenient where he stayed and asked, “What about the app?”
“No one’s picking my request,” Lu YunFei said.
He looked at Bian JinYuan and blinked his eyes as he cajoled, “Teacher Bian, why don’t you let me stay over tonight?”
I feel for Bian Jie for being stuck in the middle!
# 6666 yuan is about USD $1,000…! Liu Mo is so cool! I suppose that she was trying to go with the internet slang ‘666’ which means ‘awesome’? It’s a little weird because I’ve never encountered red packets with these many sixes before. Red packets usually try to go with even numbers if it’s below $20 (e.g. $2, $4, $6), rounded tens (e.g. $10, 20), or the number ‘8’ which sounds similar to ‘prosper’ (e.g. $28, $88, $888) where I’m from. Not too sure if there are differences in superstition in mainland China though.
✤ 压岁钱 (yā suì qián) is a special New Year’s red packet that is usually given by parents to their kids. It’s slightly different from normal red packets in the sense that the superstition behind this comes specifically to prevent debilitating health from befalling their children. My parents have never been that superstitious so I’ve just had normal red packets with the usual New Year greetings which they tell all the other kids. You can read more about this superstition here.