Happy Lunar New Year! I decided to post another [very long] side story to match the holiday :) This one is another snapshot of when Yu Yin was little! As a result, it mostly revolves around the Yu family, but there are a few cameos of other characters! Who do you think they are? I spotted 4 during my second read-through, though there might be more haha. (Edit: Seems like there should be 5!)
Translated by: TaffyGirl13
“Uncle, quick, get up.”
Yu Xia had only managed to return home at four in the morning. But it was not long after he had curled up on the sofa that something with a bit of weight to it flew out from some unknown corner of the house. It pressed down onto his back with the force of gravity.
Yu Xia, who had been hazy with sleep, immediately woke up completely with his guard raised. Right as he was about to reflexively throw the thing on him off, he realised that he was at home. And the thing on him was Ah Yin, whose elementary school had just started its winter vacation.
Yu Xia immediately fell back onto the sofa and simply let himself be sat on. It wasn’t like a child could kill an adult that way anyways. At most, the kid would just crawl up and down him like an insect.
It had been a rare occurrence that he had been given five days off starting from Chinese New Year’s Eve. He could just lie around like this until the third day of the new year before reporting in again…though it might have been because he had thrown a punch at the main suspect’s face yesterday while seizing them. Ah, I heard that the main suspect seemed to be some person’s son. I think I was already quite modest to have not beaten them into a pulp…at least when his patron comes, he’ll still be recognised.
In any case, it was a hard-to-come-by break.
“Dad said we’re going out together to shop today. Dad isn’t free, so we need to help buy things for the house.” Yu Yin pushed on Yu Xia’s back, then rested his entire body there before shoving some crumpled bills and a paper with some sauce stains into Yu Xia’s face.
“…Ten more minutes.” Yu Xia groped at the ground next to the sofa with his free hand and grabbed the pillow there. Then he placed it under his head to briefly continue catching up on sleep.
Thus, the two of them slept like this from eight in the morning until noon.
Yu Xia vaguely seemed to hear the doorbell ring once or twice. During the second time, the little one behind him crawled up to run outside. However, a moment later, he returned and bounded onto Yu Xia’s back to continue sleeping.
Finally, once they had slept their fill, Yu Xia pulled the kid off his back and stretched his joints.
Yu Yin sat on the side and yawned as he rubbed his eyes.
“Who was that earlier?” Yu Xia stood up and began to prepare things for their outing. His brother had done a deep cleaning of the house two days ago. At most, they would just need to purchase some goods on sale for Chinese New Year. This happened every year, and there were only a few things that they would buy. It was not really difficult.
“No one.” Yu Yin had his head raised to watch the adult’s every action. He shook his head and replied, “It was empty, nobody was there.”
Yu Xia pulled out a small jacket from the sofa and stuffed it into the little one’s arms for the latter to wear. Then Yu Xia helped wrap a scarf around Yu Yin’s neck. “What are the basic rules that children have to follow when going outside with adults?”
“Hold hands, don’t run around.” Yu Yin raised his hand as he quickly answered.
“What if you run around?”
“I’ll be hung upside down from the ceiling.”
Yu Xia nodded and continued asking, “Then if you’re separated by the tide of people or get lost?”
“Wait in place, don’t follow any strangers.”
“If the stranger wants to kidnap you?”
“Shout that there’s a kidnapper about to eat children, then stab their eyes or nose. Kicking them in the dick will work too. And need to draw many people’s attention.” Yu Yin tilted his head in thought for a moment, then scrunched his face up perplexedly. “But last time, Dad said I can’t stab their eyes, since they’ll get hurt.”
“They’re already about to kidnap a child, who cares if they get hurt or not. If you stab one, that’s one gone.” Yu Xia instantly overthrew his older brother’s education. “Remember, you have to protect yourself properly when you go outside. You must not pity bad people. If you pity bad people, you’ll just be the one suffering. They’re going to kill you after asking for ransom, so why care if they get hurt from your stab or not? Which is better, hurting him or being killed by him?”
“…Hurting him is better.” Being killed as a hostage meant immediately dropping dead. Yu Yin knew his dad and uncle had dealt with cases like these before where kids had died. He had once even seen a young, dead child watching him when he’d attended a funeral together with his dad.
“That’s right.” Yu Xia rubbed the child’s head and picked him up with one fell swoop. “Let’s head out and buy new year’s goods!”
The Yu household’s Chinese New Year celebrations were very simple.
Due to their profession, since turning of age, Yu Tong and Yu Xia rarely returned to their parents’ place to celebrate the new year. They would only drop by the few times they just happened to simultaneously have time off. Otherwise, they would typically choose a different time after the new year to go back together. Oftentimes, they would simply cook hotpot at the station with colleagues on Chinese New Year’s Eve so that the people that could not take off could have a celebration dinner together at the station.
After Yu Yin was born, Yu Tong’s early wife would bring the child back with her to his parents’ place to celebrate Chinese New Year. When she had first passed away, there had been one or two years when Yu Tong had still brought his son back to spend the time with his grandparents. However, Yu Yin had quickly started to fuss about being together with his dad, wanting to cook hotpot together with the older brothers and uncles at the station and get a lot of red packets. It had eventually evolved so that he would go back together with the adults to visit the grandparents from both sides after the holiday.
In short, this was their current lifestyle.
Yu Xia looked at the wrinkled paper in his hands. As expected, it was just a few essential items, mostly the ingredients for hotpot that Yu Tong had ordered in advance, such as rice cake, turnip cake, yeast cakes, etc. They just had to make a detour to drop by the shops and retrieve the items on their way back. However, since there was still a large amount, they had to take the car.
Though it was already noon, there were still many people at the market. They could only park the car in the distant parking lot and walk over.
“There are so many people.” Yu Yin stared at the dense tides of people from where he hung on Yu Xia’s back.
“Tch.” When Yu Xia thought of having to fight over getting fish, meat, and vegetables, he didn’t really want to go in. He had only taken a single step forwards before frowning and twisting the arm of a middle-aged man next to him. The other party had been stealing the wallet of an old lady in front. “Caught red-handed, you know.”
The middle-aged man immediately showed a malicious expression after being interrupted from his deed. “Damn brat! Mind your own business!”
“Criminals caught red-handed will drop dead~” Yu Yin scolded the pickpocket as well.
“You two rotten…fuck, fuck, fuck—” The middle-aged man had just been about to display immoral conduct, but his arm was yanked back by Yu Xia, and the words changed into howls of pain instead.
“Pickpocketing over the new year? Trust me, I can break your arm right this instant!” Yu Xia did not hold back as he continued to twist the other person’s wrist.
The alarmed housewives around them hurriedly checked their own bags, then made way to create a small space.
Then, a nearby patrol quickly ran over.
“Fuck! Mr. Cop, this damn child is falsely accusing me—”
“Hello, Senior!” The uniformed officer did not look at the middle-aged man who had curled up in pain, instead quickly greeting Yu Xia.
“I’m off today, so I’ll hand this pickpocket over to you.” Ignoring the other person’s flabbergasted expression, Yu Xia tossed the middle-aged man at the police acquaintance to handle.
“Another one. We just keep arresting more at the end of the year.” The officer shot the middle-aged man a sideways glance. “You again? You were just caught yesterday, why are you repeating the offense again!”
“Just trying to survive…” The middle-aged man obediently let himself be detained with shrunken shoulders.
Then, after forcing his way through the crowd to start buying things, Yu Xia kicked another two pickpockets out. One of them had even held multiple wallets. All the wallets were sent to the local police station to find their lost owners.
“Last year’s achievement was four of them.” The uncle helping them tailor pants laughed heartily. “But you’ve already caught two here just this morning. What bad luck. The pickpockets and thieves just keep increasing. I keep telling the customers to watch out for their wallets, but there are still folks that’ll wear gold necklaces for no reason while squeezing into the crowds. In the end, when they aren’t paying attention, even the necklaces get stolen. Seriously, pickpockets will steal whatever you say they’ll steal now – motorcycle seats too. Who knows when they’ll finally decrease.”
“Habitual thieves are really hard to change. It’s a huge pain.” Yu Xia glanced at the child next to him and asked, “What else do you want to eat?”
“Don’t know.” Yu Yin stared fixedly at the meat from the stall, wondering what kind of dishes it could become.
“Ah, the kid is still growing. Eating some more pork liver as nutrition would be good. I’ll just give you a piece for free.” The uncle easily grabbed some pig liver off the hook and wrapped it. “Tell your brother that it’s pretty good when fried in sesame oil; he’ll know how to make it.”
“Thank you, shūshu1,” Yu Yin immediately expressed his gratitude. One had to say thank you when receiving a gift.
Once they left the pork vendor, Yu Yin climbed down himself since they still had too many items to buy. He clutched onto Yu Xia’s pants, trying his best to fight through the crowds.
After kicking out another pickpocket, they finally were close to finished buying all the items Yu Tong had told them to buy.
“Pineapples bring prosperity.” Freed from the mass of people, Yu Yin played with the small pineapple wrapped with red ribbon in his hands. Yu Xia sat next to him, taking a break together. “Bring much prosperity.”
Yu Xia glanced at the small pineapple that the fruit vendor’s owner had gifted to the child, then counted inventory from the various sized bags on the ground. Some things will have to be bought later by taking the long way back…
The officer from earlier ran over again. “Great, you’re still here.”
“What’s wrong?” Yu Xia noticed the other’s somewhat urgent expression as he stuffed the paper into his pocket.
“Th-there are youths engaging in a knife fight a few streets over…” Having just been notified of the emergency, the officer had planned to head over for support. But then he had suddenly recalled that after he had entered this mysterious field of work, his direct senior had told him before that when he encountered dangerous situations outside the law, he had to beg for help from Yu Xia if the latter was nearby. It could decrease the number of injuries among their personnel and greatly boost their survival rate.
So he had come here.
“Have the nearby support arrived?” Yu Xia furrowed his brows. It’s already the new year, can’t these stupid kids just take a break?
“We’re the closest ones, so we need to rush over first,” the officer immediately replied.
“Ah Yin will be good and stay right here to watch over the meat and vegetables. Bye-bye, Uncle.” Yu Yin was very understanding as he raised his hand from where he sat off to the side.
“…You wait here together with this police-gēge.” Yu Xia turned and patted the officer on the shoulder. “Take care of my son. I’ll be right back.”
“Oh, yessir! Senior!” The officer fearfully watched the other person leave.
“Gēge can sit over here.”
Yu Yin patted the empty spot next to him. He swung his feet as he continued playing with the spiky pineapple. “Basic rule: when adults have to leave to do something urgent, children need to be good and not run around.”
“Eh, Ah Yin is very well-behaved.” The officer didn’t dare actually sit. Instead, he continued scanning the crowds passing back and forth.
Ten minutes passed, but Yu Xia still did not return. Afraid that the child would get hungry, the officer had bought a roast duck puffed pastry near them, listening to his earpiece as he kept an eye out on their surroundings.
Yu Yin bit into the puffed pastry and turned his head to spot a little girl crouched down near the ground, staring at their fish, meat, and vegetables. The little girl’s pale face had several band-aids on it. She looked a bit younger than him.
Before he could ask if she was lost, the little girl stood up and said to him, “Eh, if the fish’s eyes are foggy, does it mean it’s not fresh?”
“I just looked at your fish, and its eyes were shiny and bright. But my mom was recommended a small one for a hundred by the guava vendor, and its eyes were blurry.” The little girl crossed her arms and clicked her tongue.
“…That’s not fresh.”
“I know, that black-hearted shark! I’m going to set fire to his stand.”
“…Where’s your mom?”
The little girl jumped up onto the vacant space next to him and nonchalantly replied, “She disappeared. But my brother will probably come over looking for me later…ah, he’s here. I’m gonna beat it. Happy New Year.”
“Happy New Year.” Yu Yin watched the girl run into the crowd, then leave together with another boy as he continued eating his food. It was no wonder that his dad would always say not to randomly buy things. Aiming for cheap costs easily resulted in buying bad things, especially over the new year. There were lots of businessmen like these, and there were even some that sold off bad things in disguise as good things for lots of money. It was beyond horrible.
While mid-bite, he suddenly discovered that at some point, the empty spot next to him had a dàzǐzi 2 sitting there. Her long dress was very pretty.
He tilted his head as he stared at the zǐzi with a very white face.
Seemingly noticing his gaze, the dàzǐzi showed a faint smile. The next second, she vanished into thin air.
“Is something the matter?” The officer ran over in a few strides.
“No.” Yu Yin shook his head, finished eating his food, then secured the plastic bag and tossed it into the garbage can.
Five minutes later, Yu Xia hurriedly rushed back.
The officer had heard from his earpiece earlier that the matter had been resolved; the troublemaking youths had been detained and brought back to the station. He immediately thanked Yu Xia.
“It’s nothing.” Yu Xia had already tried to deal with those idiots as quickly as possible. He glanced at the fresh food on the ground that was starting to show traces of thawing and decided to drop home first before buying the remaining goods.
The situation that had been called “nothing” had been described by their colleagues as such: The moment Yu Xia had arrived at the scene, he had pummeled the youths that were scattered all over in vengeful knife-fights so that they had instantly fallen. Then he had thrown a few punches at the leader’s face, immediately causing the young and energetic youth to bawl as blood and snot ran down their face. Of course, Yu Xia himself was completely fine. The supporting forces that arrived afterwards had swiftly rounded up the youths. The entire task had been completed in the short blink of an eye.
The officer believed that his direct senior had not deceived him. In the future, he would definitely tell this advice to his juniors as well, completing his part in passing down this sacred knowledge.
Naturally, Yu Xia had no idea what the other person was thinking about as they bid farewell before Yu Xia and Yu Yin moved their new year’s goods back to the car.
After expending quite a bit of effort to place all the different-sized bags into the trunk and closing the door, Yu Xia turned his head just in time to spot a few very unfriendly unacquainted boys and girls surrounding them.
“You’re the rotten brat that keeps randomly catching people today.”
As soon as the other person spoke, Yu Xia knew their origin.
They were likely a group of pickpockets. Aside from individual crimes, there were now many crimes that were starting to change into group actions these days. Regardless of whether it was fraud or theft, arresting one didn’t mean it was the end. It was very likely that there were groups of more than two people that helped cover for each other. Excluding the traditional pickpockets, there were a few people that would set up some tricks to occupy the target’s attention while the other person would take advantage of this distraction to act. The more extreme ones were the rare organizations that would purposely crowd around the target from all sides to give their companions more time to complete their task.
In short, there were all sorts of ways to steal.
It was probably because he had kicked out quite a few of them that their companions had come for revenge.
Yu Xia scratched his face, more than used to these types of scenarios. He had Yu Yin enter the car first. “Can’t you guys just be good and go enjoy the new year?” It’s the new year. I really want to spend my vacation in peace and quiet; it’s rare to get the time off.
“—Since you had the guts to go against us, just wait and see when you eat shit!”
Inside the car, Yu Yin kept playing with the pineapple.
Five minutes passed by. Yu Xia knocked on the car door for Yu Yin to finally unlock it and pass the keys over. “Is Uncle ready to go home?”
“Pretty much.” Yu Xia fished out some mineral water to rinse the scrapes on his hands. He did not forget to warn the sole eyewitness, “When your dad comes home later, what will you say if he asks you why the pickpocket group has broken arms?”
“Uncle peacefully dealt with them.”
“That is correct. I’ll give you something good for lunch as a reward.” Yu Xia started the engine. He was also beginning to feel hungry.
“That’s for Qing Ming.”
“It’s being sold. Dad buys it a lot. It’s yummy.”
“Alright, then popiah it is.”
Yu Yin glanced behind him to spot that dàzǐzi in the long dress standing outside and waving at him with a smile. He very happily waved good-bye to her.
Then the dàzǐzi disappeared once again.
“Yeah, I’ve already placed the fish in the freezer.”
Upon returning home from the market, Yu Xia first dealt with the fish that was more susceptible to spoiling, his cellphone propped up next to his ear with his shoulder. “Yes, Ah Yin ate lunch already…What? I didn’t go to 15th St. or whatever, that has nothing to do with me. It’s pretty normal for a snatch thief to fall off their bike when caught by a passerby.”
“Uncle, where do I put this?”
Yu Xia shot a glance at the slices of meat for hotpot that Yu Yin was lifting up, then easily grabbed it to stuff into the freezer. “Alright, that’s enough talk for now. I still need to grab some ordered items.”
He hung up the call and then sorted out the vegetables and fruits by type into a box. These were the foods they would eat during the few days they would be at home after the new year.
“Ah, Dad said we need to pay respect to the lord of heaven, so we can’t forget to buy gold paper.” Yu Yin was squatting next to him to watch the sorting when he suddenly remembered what Yu Tong had told him before heading out this morning. “We need to pay respect to the lord of earth on New Year’s Eve too.”
“We can go out and buy it with everything else in a bit.”
Yu Xia was basically done organising everything. Just as he was about to pick up the child and head back out, his cellphone went off again. “Ah Yi? I’m at home…”
Seeing that Yu Xia was on the phone with a colleague, Yu Yin walked to the living room to eat one of the crispy snacks on the table. Then the doorbell rang, so he ran over by himself to see who it was.
A stranger stood outside.
Yu Yin felt slightly suspicious when he peered through the peephole to see a person he did not recognise, especially since the other person was wearing a baseball cap that made it hard to see their face. Only after the person pressed the doorbell a second time did he finally say, “Who are you looking for?”
“Me? Are your dad and mom not home?” The person outside walked up to the peephole to ask.
“Shūshu3 is home.”
“Your dad’s younger brother? Then we’re brothers too. Can you open the door for me? I’ve been waiting outside for a very long time.” The voice outside started to reveal some tiredness. “I told your dad that I could come over this afternoon, and even brought presents and toys for you. Just open the door for me, since the things are a bit heavy.”
“Wait here, I’ll call Shūshu to come and help you.” Bearing in mind that he could not randomly open the door to strangers, Yu Yin knew that if he opened the door himself, he might be strangled to death by his uncle. Thus, he bounded back into the room.
When he entered, Yu Xia had just finished the call.
“Uncle, a visitor is looking for Dad.”
“Visitor?” Yu Xia raised a brow. He did not know of any visitor for his brother coming today. Since they were usually very busy before the new year, their close friends rarely chose this time to pay a visit. Most would call ahead to give a heads-up anyways.
“Mhm, waiting at the front door.”
Yu Xia picked up the child and walked out to open the front door. As he had expected, he did not see anyone there. Without changing expression, he stepped outside to inspect the door, the pillars, and the ground. Then he made a call as he returned into the house. “Tong, did our neighbours say they were going back to their parents’ to spend the new year?”
Once he received a reply of confirmation, he hung up and put the child down. “Ah Yin, did you see what the other person looked like?”
“No, he was wearing a hat.”
“Mm, got it.”
Yu Xia contacted the nearby police station, then went out with Yu Yin to continue their afternoon shopping.
“Your brother ordered a bit more this year. Will you be able to take these?”
When Yu Xia arrived at the rice-based food shop, he was directed towards three huge and heavy boxes filled with rice cake and turnip cakes. “It’s very heavy. My wife said to give you all a few extra kilos of turnip cakes so that you can treat the other police gentlemen that are still working over New Year’s Eve.”
“Thank you.” Actually, Yu Tong had already ordered extra to bring over to the station to cook over the eve, but Yu Xia did not reject the shop’s kind intentions. This was a shop that they had bought from for many years now, after all. Thus, he sincerely expressed his thanks.
“Ah Yin seems to have grown a bit bigger again. Kids look different every time.” The boss, who had just seen Yu Yin last month, crouched down to pinch the child’s face. “Did you help today?”
“I did. I went to the market to buy ingredients with Shūshu and caught pickpockets—caught a lot of pickpockets.” Yu Yin nodded as he reported, “Broke last year’s record.”
“Oho, how amazing. Come, I’ll give you a reward.” The boss sliced off a small piece from a red bean rice cake that had just come out of the oven, handing the steaming dessert into the child’s hand.
“Thank you.” Yu Yin breathed in the warm scent and took a bite of the super soft and yummy rice cake as he waited for Yu Xia to finish moving the boxes. Then he looked around at the constant flow of customers for new years’ goods that the shop employees were busy greeting.
Yu Xia shoved the third large box of food into the car and then glanced at the piece of paper. “Ah Yin, can you wait here a moment with the owner? I’m going to buy something at a nearby shop.” Since it wasn’t too far – the dried foods and sauces store was right around the street – plus driving the car over would just obstruct traffic, it was easier to just keep it in this empty lot temporarily while he walked over to buy it.
“Leaving him here isn’t a problem at all. Ah Yin, sit here. I’ll treat you to some soda.” The owner that loved children warmly picked Yu Yin up to place him onto the chair next to them.
“Ok, bye-bye, Uncle.” Yu Yin waved as he watched Yu Xia quickly run out to the goods shop. Then he accepted the soda and plate of sliced rice cake from the owner and obediently waited.
The owner was sweating profusely as he continued baking rice cakes. He stayed standing nearby as he idly chatted with the child, “Ah Yin, why do you always call Xia ‘Shūshu’ 3 when you’re outside?” It was not his first time hearing the kid use this different form of address, so he was truly a bit curious.
“Li Lin Yue said I can’t say whatever I want to outside, because the other kids will laugh at me for having a weird family.” Yu Yin tilted his head as he replied, “I should call them Dad and Shūshu when I’m outside. Teacher taught the same. So I say what I want when I’m alone, but I have to follow the adults when I’m with others.”
The Li family was also an old and faithful customer, so the owner naturally knew the very beautiful little girl. “Is that so. I don’t think it makes a difference though.”
The owner left Yu Yin perplexed as he turned to reply to a staff urgently shouting something. He then temporarily put down his work to go over and help.
Right when Yu Yin hopped off his chair to find a trash can to throw away the empty cup, he discovered that there was a boy standing nearby. The boy wore a knitted hat. Upon noticing Yu Yin’s gaze, the boy smiled.
“Are you lost?” Yu Yin curiously asked when he saw that there were no adults with the boy.
The boy pointed at the crowd of adults that were purchasing things. “I’m waiting for someone.”
“Oooh, I’m also waiting for someone. Do you want to eat some?” Yu Yin took the small plate from the table and happily shared the rice cake with the other person.
“Thank you.” The boy accepted the rice cake and pulled out some plum candies from his pockets to give to Yu Yin. “We can eat these together.”
Yu Yin gave his thanks as well, then pushed a chair over to wait for the adults together with the stranger.
The owner dropped by to check in on them at some point. Though he was a bit surprised to discover an extra person, he still very kindly cut some [rice cake] on a small plate to give to the child.
About ten minutes later, the adults from the boy’s family came over. They expressed their gratitude towards the owner, bought some rice cake, then left with the child.
Before leaving, the boy even waved at Yu Yin. “We’ll probably meet again. Happy New Year.”
“Happy New Year.” Yu Yin did not understand their meaning, but he still waved back.
It was not long before Yu Xia also returned, with several bags of snacks in tow as well.
“Happy New Year. Come visit plenty next year too.”
Yu Yin bid farewell to the owner of the rice-based food shop, then happily went home with Yu Xia while hugging the snacks.
In the evening, Yu Tong came home after a busy day.
Yu Yin was out helping to wipe the table when he heard his dad ask his uncle why he had broken the arms of the pickpocket group. His uncle persistently claimed that he didn’t. Since they did not come ask him, Yu Yin continued wiping the table clean with a wet washcloth.
“Did Ah Yi give you a call?” Yu Tong changed his shirt and rolled up the sleeves of his casual clothes. He stood in the kitchen to prepare the ingredients he would be stewing in soy sauce.
“Yeah. That pig-headed old man reported another case.” Yu Xia was standing next to him to help pare the vegetables. “That one we were busy with until very late last night. We searched and seized a narcotics bar that his son had opened. The day before, he was even suspected of hitting someone while drunk driving. Giving him a beating is already letting him off easy.”
“Sigh, don’t always beat people up. Though having a five-days vacation is a good thing, you’ve now offended another person…Anyways, why did they report another case?” Yu Tong had been busy all day supporting a raid for another incident, so he had only heard of the commotion in Yu Xia’s unit without knowing of the reason.
“His daughter is missing. Someone saw her being forcibly dragged onto a car. However, he didn’t report the case per procedures, instead running into our offices to make a fuss. He kept saying things like how we went looking to stir up trouble with his son in our free time, yet were unwilling to help when his daughter went missing.” Yu Xia placed the pared taro into Yu Yin’s hands before grabbing another. “But Ah Yi said that the daughter is actually very lovable, and after looking into it, they found that she was a brilliant student. She’s nothing like her brother and her father; they’re from completely different worlds. I really don’t know how a family full of bastards like that can give birth to that kind of good kid.”
The most annoying part was that the pig-headed old man had come running over to the office in the early morning to slam the desk and shout something about finding a legislative representative to nail them on the head, then told them to stay out of things and look at who was backing him before they did something to pass the time. He had also mentioned that as people that shouldn’t make a move, they should just obediently make way. Then, at noon, he had come back to make a fuss again, this time demanding for them to help find his daughter, also claiming that his daughter had only gone missing because the police hadn’t cleaned up the tumour-like scum of society, before complaining about how there was no point in the taxpayers’ money going towards them.
“But I think it’s very likely due to a vendetta…in any case, the station already has a unit handling it. Some colleagues will go request for the surveillance tapes and trail them. That’s pretty much everything.” Since he had already been ordered to take leave, with the chief even scolding others by saying that there would be repercussions if he was allowed to step foot into the station, Yu Xia naturally did not want to intervene. Everything could just follow the procedure that the station arranged.
“Mm, go and rest.”
The minute Yu Tong said this, Yu Xia’s cellphone rang again. The latter placed his knife and taro down in exasperation and walked out to pick up the call.
Probably from the station again.
Yu Tong smiled and shook his head. Then he turned to face Yu Yin, who was pushing the box of vegetables. “Ah Yin, can you help me grab clothes and glasses?”
“The one with no prescription?”
When Yu Yin ran off to look for it, Yu Xia strode back into the kitchen while turning off his cellphone. “Um…”
“I told Ah Yin to grab glasses.” Yu Tong knew exactly what his brother was thinking. Yu Xia was originally not someone that would ignore his unit being yelled at. Though he said he wouldn’t pay it mind, he still had no choice but to stop ignoring them, especially when they were repeatedly calling him. He would not be able to rest easy if he didn’t go back to take a look. “You can just say I went to check on them for you.”
“You’re welcome. Just don’t beat people up.”
Yu Yin then ran down the stairs carrying a shirt and glasses for Yu Xia to quickly change into so that he was wearing Yu Tong’s typical outfit. “Uncle, this too.” Yu Yin waved a thermos in his hand and passed it over. He had just filled it with hot tea.
“Don’t wait for me to eat.” Yu Xia grabbed the car keys and left in a hurry.
After seeing Yu Xia off, Yu Yin crossed his arms and decided that he had to work harder to help today. He turned his head only to see Yu Tong stride out of the kitchen with cups. “Ah Yin, come and sit.”
“Huh? We’re not going to cook?” Yu Yin took his own little cup and stared blankly at his father’s gentle smile.
“Mn, I’ll cook later. We’ll have Ah Yin’s favourite dishes for dinner tonight; we can make it together.” Yu Tong rubbed Yu Yin’s head and warmly said, “But, Dad saw some scrapes on Uncle’s hand just now. Can Ah Yin tell Dad what Uncle used his fists to hit while outside today?”
“Er…” Yu Yin instantly took a step backwards. “Un-Uncle peacefully…”
“Ah Yin, what happens to kids that lie to their dads?” Yu Tong smiled and slowly took a sip of hot tea.
“They-they’ll have a guilty conscience…”
“Then should Ah Yin be good and speak honestly?” Yu Tong patted the seat next to him and watched his own child walk over while trembling in trepidation. In faint amusement, Yu Tong asked, “Dad knows you guys caught many pickpockets today. The dàgēs from the station all reported it. So what did Uncle peacefully do today?”
“Peace-peacefully dealt with them.”
“About how many people did he deal with in total?”
“Don’t know. Uncle ran off to another street, so Ah Yin doesn’t know everything,” Yu Yin very earnestly replied. He was a bit scared as he watched Yu Tong’s expression, which had remained as a smile from beginning to end.
“Ah, I understand then. Ah Yin is a good boy.” Yu Tong patted the child’s head again. Then his smile deepened as he asked, “Then, if Uncle asks if Dad said something to you, how should Ah Yin answer?”
“Dad did not say anything.” He just asked. Dad is scariest when he just asks. Yu Yin quickly responded to the question.
“That’s right. Let’s go and cook now. Uncle might not come back until very late today. Once we’ve eaten our fill later, we can fry some rice cakes and bring them to the station to eat together with everyone over the eve.”
That night, Yu Yin was seriously sleepy. As a result, when Yu Tong was preparing for them to pay respect to the lord of heaven, Yu Yin fell asleep on the sofa.
Then he had a dream.
That zǐzi in a long dress was sitting on a swing in the park as she smiled at him.
It was very natural, and Yu Yin smiled back at the pretty zǐzi.
“Zǐzi doesn’t have to go home for celebration dinner?” Yu Yin walked over to the swing and cocked his head to the side as he curiously looked at the zǐzi.
She shook her head.
“Then come to the police station to spend the new year with us. There are many gēgēs and shūshus, a ton of red packets, and hotpot to eat.”
The pretty zǐzi rubbed his head and said, “Sure. But little one, you have to first tell your police officer dad that zǐzi is in the third car next to the park. If he finds me, we can eat hotpot together.”
While half asleep, Yu Yin made a pinky-promise to the zǐzi on the swing.
Then he seemed to hear his uncle coming home and the smell of gold paper being burned.
“Why is Ah Yin sleeping here?”
“He was just shouting about wanting to burn gold paper, but before we could finish paying respects, he fell asleep. How were things at the station?”
“Checked the surrounding surveillance footage. She was indeed seized, and we’ve already started trailing the car. We’ve just captured one criminal suspect. Apparently their fathers are enemies, so it really was a vendetta. But he refuses to say where the daughter is; we’re still searching for her.”
“I’ll go over and check on the progress again tomorrow…Carry Yu Yin upstairs to sleep first…”
Then, Yu Yin blurrily felt himself being picked up. He rested on the other’s shoulders as he muttered, “Uncle…the zǐzi will eat hotpot with us…inside the third car at the park…”
Yu Yin yawned and rubbed his eyes. Still very sleepy, he kept nodding off and pausing. “The zǐzi said she was inside the third car at the park and that she would eat hotpot with us if you found her.”
“The very pretty zǐzi wearing a long dress….” Yu Yin truly couldn’t bear it any longer, and he died out midway on Yu Xia’s shoulders.
Before he completely fell asleep, he felt himself being shifted to someone else’s arms., then the sound of someone going out again.
Zǐzi will probably stay up tomorrow for the new year with us.
Then he was placed on the soft bed. Someone rubbed his head. “Ah Yin, what should you say before sleeping?”
“…Good night Dad, good night Mom, good night Uncle, good night everyone.”
“Good night to Ah Yin too.”
“Tong, we found it.”
Early the next morning, Yu Xia went into the office wearing glasses.
Since he had truly been unable to stop worrying about yesterday’s matter, he and Yu Tong had agreed to swap places for another day. It allowed his brother to focus on preparing for the Chinese New Year’s meal at home anyways.
The unit member responsible for pursuing this case hurriedly ran over. “It’s identical to the information that Boss sent yesterday. We spent the night checking all eighteen parks in the related district and really did find it.” The team member passed over the case file to Yu Xia and said, “It’s this black van. It just happened to be parked in the third space from the entrance. We investigated and found that it belonged to a nearby resident with the surname Zhang. We’ve already detained him as a related person.”
Yu Xia looked at the photo from the case file. The girl wearing a pretty dress had been stuffed into the trunk. Her complexion was a bit pale and her eyes were tightly shut.
“Did the father recognise the car owner?” Yu Xia flipped through the file. There were a few family photos as well as individual shots that had originally been used for tracking and identification. Since they had also been under some pressure, the unit in charge had been pursuing this case with basically no sleep all of last night. Aside from finding the kidnapped girl, they had captured the related suspect and were currently interrogating them. That pig-head had been notified to cooperate too.
“He didn’t, but he recognised the main schemer and one of the assistants, and said it was a territorial dispute. In addition, his son frequently causes trouble with them, provoking these people to regard them in a bad light. That’s why they captured his daughter to teach him a bit of a lesson.” The officer yawned and took the data back. “Tong, you go back and let Boss know. I heard that this trouble-making guy wants to retaliate against the people that seized his daughter. He’s already been blocked by Ah Yi’s group…Really, such a nuisance over the new year.”
“Alright.” Trying to bother my unit, huh? Yu Xia contemplated whether or not he should go against his older brother’s words and murder his way through Chinese New Year’s Eve.
“Oh right, Tong, you should be heading back this afternoon, right? Thanks for your hard work.”
“You guys as well.”
Yu Yin stared at the stranger at the front door.
Since early this morning, his dad had been very busy preparing various things in the kitchen. Once he had finished eating in the afternoon, he had asked for his dad’s wallet to go buy drinks on the street. The moment he came back, he saw that hat-wearing stranger glancing around their front door. “Who are you looking for?”
The stranger did not notice his appearance and gave a startled jump before spinning around. “Oh, oh uh…I’m seeing if the adults are at home…”
“My dad’s home, are you looking for my dad?” Yu Yin thought that the other person’s voice sounded a bit familiar. Yu Yin clapped his hands together as he remembered, “You’re the one that rang the doorbell yesterday looking for my dad.”
“Yes, yes, it’s this uncle.” The stranger checked left and right before pulling out a few chocolate balls from his pocket and crouching down. “Isn’t your shūshu the only one home? Where’s your dad?”
“Today Dad’s here.” Yu Yin did not take the stranger’s candy and scratched his head. “Are you looking for Dad right now?”
“No, no, I forgot to bring the gift box today. I’ll just come and pay another visit tonight.”
“I see. But we’re going to go out tonight; Dad won’t be home either.” Yu Yin shifted his gaze to look behind the other person, then smiled and waved.
The stranger turned his head as well but did not see anything behind him. “Then I’ll come by another day.”
“Sure. But Shūshu, did you do something bad?” Right as the stranger was about to stand up, Yu Yin said something that made him freeze. “Your mom is behind you and is glaring at you very angrily.”
“Little-little kids shouldn’t lie! So rude!” The stranger shot up and scolded Yu Yin while running away for his life.
“Your mom said you—should—behave—with—integrity—steadily—and—seriously—” Because the other person was fleeing too quickly, Yu Yin could only cup his hands around his mouth while shouting loudly at the unfamiliar shūshu’s back.
“Mental case! Evil kid!”
The stranger vanished at the end of the street.
“Who are you talking to?” Yu Yin turned his head to see an adorable girl wearing a lovable red dress standing behind him. Her hair was tied up prettily and there was a rectangular paper bag in her hands.
“A stranger. Are you guys going back for a family dinner?”
Li Lin Yue smiled sweetly. “Yep, Dad and Mom are waiting outside because they couldn’t find a parking spot. This is for your family. Your dad came by to drop off gifts the day before yesterday, so these are the return gifts. Happy New Year.” She passed the paper bag over to him. “We won’t be back until the third day after the new year.”
“Thank you.” Yu Yin took the bag. He eyed the street and indeed spotted the Li family’s car. “Stay safe.”
“You too. I heard that there are many thieves that break into homes over the holiday. The police shūshus are working hard. I’ll be taking my leave then.”
Yu Yin waved good-bye at the girl, then returned back to his own house.
When Yu Tong was starting to pack the food into boxes, Yu Xia came home.
Yu Yin was sitting on the sofa drinking soda, watching Yu Xia walk over while taking off his glasses and loosening his collar. “Tong, I’m going to have to drop by the hospital in a bit.”
“Is something wrong?” Yu Tong stuck his head out of the kitchen to ask.
“I want to check on that girl’s condition. She was sent to a nearby hospital and still hasn’t woken.” Yu Xia rubbed Yu Yin’s head as he went into the kitchen to grab a drink. “She had already lost consciousness by the time she had been found in the car in the middle of the night. After being delivered to the hospital for an examination, they discovered that she had a light blunt injury on her head and was dehydrated, but she didn’t have any other external wounds. The arrested suspects stated that they did not do anything to her too. They just caught her to threaten her old man a bit.”
“I see…I made soup; you can just bring it over with you. If the victim’s awake, you should have her eat something.”
Yu Xia was planning on changing clothes, but when he spun around, he spotted Yu Yin staring at him nearby. “What?”
“Did you find the zǐzi?” Yu Yin raised his head as he followed the other person upstairs to the bedroom. “Will the zǐzi eat hotpot together with us tonight?”
“The zǐzi is in the hospital and can’t eat hotpot.” Yu Xia changed his clothes and glanced at his cellphone. His unit had sent some news, mostly to report that the officers had gone to prevent any conflicts, and the pig-headed person and the other bunch had all been brought back to the station. They were currently being detained for now.
“Huh, she said she’d eat with us if she was found. Is the zǐzi’s injury very serious?” Yu Yin somewhat expectantly gazed at Yu Xia. “Can I go with you to see the zǐzi?”
“Don’t you dislike hospitals? Be good and stay home to help your dad.” As Yu Xia passed through the doorway, he easily picked up the child to carry him downstairs. “You can only get red packets if you help with meritorious deeds. What happens to bad children that take red packets?”
“They’ll have nightmares until the fifth day after the new year.” Yu Yin was placed back down on the ground. His eyes were still wide as he looked up at the adult. “But I still want to see that zǐzi. So if I don’t take the red packets, can I go see her?”
“Are you willing to do that? Don’t you slaughter everyone at the station every year and collect twenty or thirty red packets?” Despite the fact that they only gave two hundred [yuan] or so to simply show their affection and keep the kid happy, collecting the entire group’s worth resulted in getting a considerable amount! Especially when there were a few people that gave away more because they doted on children.
“That…that…” Yu Yin was conflicted.
Yu Xia crossed his arms as he looked at the child’s frustrated expression. “That’s a lot. And don’t you always jump around before vacation while talking about buying toys?”
Yu Yin hugged his head. After a moment, he showed a resolute and unwavering expression as he firmly raised his head to meet Yu Xia’s gaze. “Fine, then I won’t take them. I want to go see that zǐzi! Uncle has to follow through with his words and let me see the zǐzi too.”
“What should I do?” Yu Xia asked his brother, who was standing at the kitchen doorway while holding back laughter. “Oi, don’t just laugh. Hurry up and discipline your kid.”
“He’s yours too.” Yu Tong laughed in spite of himself and shook his head as he saw the determined look on the child’s face. Then he glanced back at his twin brother. “He’s already said all that, so just bring him with you. Remember to put an amulet around his neck. Grab a bit of sweet sedge and mugwort from the courtyard later to have him hold onto as well, just in case.”
“Yay! Going out, going out—” Yu Yin ran over to hand his cup to Yu Tong, then quickly raced up to change his clothes and grab a jacket. Then he rushed back down to grab hold of Yu Xia, afraid that the other person would change his mind.
Yu Xia shot a sideways look at the brat by his legs and smiled dryly. “A man of character must follow through his words. All your red packets will be confiscated this year, including the ones from your grandparents.”
“…Can you just confiscate the ones from the police station?” Yu Yin was heartbroken. He tightened his hold on Yu Xia’s legs as he tried to gain some red packets back.
“Didn’t you just say you wouldn’t take them?”
“Since children are very poor, give just a tiny bit…or I can exchange one for wiping the floor and stairs?”
“You’re just going to be a child stuck in the frustration of being poor this year.”
Yu Xia arranged to meet with Yu Tong at the station later, then led the kid onto the car to go to the hospital.
Still regretting how easily he had abstained himself [from the red packets], Yu Yin had his face remorsefully stuck to the window.
“Alright, alright, you can have half.” During a red light, Yu Xia reached out to poke the back of the child’s head with his finger, only to hear the child let out a huff from having been pressed like this. “Let’s make an agreement then: you’ll exchange them by wiping the floor and stairs. Meals don’t fall from the skies for free. If you agree, then let’s pinky-promise.”
Yu Yin quickly turned around and smiled as he grabbed the other person’s hand to hook pinkies. “Agreed. I’ll start cleaning on the fifth day after the new year. You’d better not go back on your words, Uncle.”
“Yes, I won’t back out.” They collected all his red packets and stored it away for him every year anyways, only leaving a bit for him to buy toys. It was the same whether they confiscated the money or not. Children were easy to trick, and Yu Yin had not thought of this reasoning. Once Yu Xia finished sealing the deal, he continued advancing towards the hospital. “Once we arrive at the hospital, don’t run around and don’t talk with random people, no matter how they look.”
“Ok.” Now in a happy mood, Yu Yin nodded fervently.
Right when Yu Xia was about to change lanes, he suddenly caught a glimpse of a store that had not yet closed.
“Ah Yin, you wait in the car.”
Ten minutes later, they arrived at the hospital.
Since father and son were both being held at the police station, the rescued daughter had absolutely no relatives keeping her company. When Yu Xia opened the ward’s door, he saw a dispatched officer watching over her. After asking, it turned out that the officer had actually been off today, but because he had been part of the support that had saved the girl last night, he had not had the heart to abandon the girl to lay alone in the hospital.
Yu Xia let the child stay in the room while he and the officer walked out to the hallway to speak.
When the door was closed, Yu Yin hugged the bag and pot in his arms while cautiously approaching the bed to look at the pretty zǐzi. She had the same appearance as yesterday, but she was currently sleeping on the bed. There was gauze on her head, and she seemed to be in deep sleep.
Yu Yin paced back and forth next to the bed. He originally wanted to tell the zǐzi to wake up, but she looked very tired and Yu Yin did not dare to disturb her for no reason. Thus, he placed the pot down and walked towards another direction to read her name. “Shen—Yan—Ling…”
When he raised his head, he suddenly spotted the zǐzi sitting next to the window.
“Ah…ah?” The zǐzi on the bed was still asleep. He stared blankly for a moment, but just as he was about to approach the window, the zǐzi sitting there shook her head, gesturing for him not to go close.
After some thought, Yu Yin clapped his hands together and clumsily fumbled to pull the amulet off from his neck. Then he pulled out the leaves from his pockets as well and placed them to the side before running over with the bag. “Zǐzi agreed to go eat hotpot together. Not going anymore?”
The zǐzi smiled and told him that she still wanted to go. However, her favourite dress had gotten dirty and she could not wear that to attend the celebration dinner.
“That’s not a problem, look, look.” Yu Yin opened the bag he was hugging tightly and displayed the item that had been stored inside as if he were showing a treasure. “Uncle bought this for zǐzi. It’s exactly the same. Zǐzi can wear this to come and eat hotpot.”
The zǐzi was stunned for a moment, then beamed brightly and said that they would meet later tonight.
Right as the pretty zǐzi vanished from the windowside, Yu Yin heard the door being opened behind him. He spun around to see Yu Xia and the officer walk in, so he stuffed the dress back into the bag before bounding over. “Zǐzi said she would come eat hotpot tonight!” He hugged Yu Xia’s waist as he happily announced this.
Yu Xia furrowed his brows at the declaration from the child before he had even spoken. Then he spotted the amulet and sweet sedge on the cabinet. Without changing expression, he crouched down to place his hands on both sides of the child’s face. “Didn’t I say you have to keep the amulet on? And didn’t I just tell you on the car that you can’t randomly talk with others?”
Yu Yin stiffened completely as he suddenly realised that he had forgotten to put them back on and pretend he had never removed them.
“What happens to disobedient children?”
“Their head will hurt…uwaaaa—it hurts, it hurts—sorry, I was wrong! Sorrysorrysorry—”
The officer, who had been standing at the entrance to close the door, was dumbstruck as he watched Yu Xia use those fists that legends said beat criminals to the point of seeing the netherworlds now strike down on the child’s head. The officer was momentarily unable to react, but a nurse passing by then gestured at him in warning not to make any disturbance in the room.
As the officer was still debating whether or not to brave the risk of rescuing the child from having their head burst open, Yu Xia finished carrying out “what happens” and reprimanded, “Repeat again, what happens to children that are disobedient?”
“Their-their head will hurt…” Yu Yin answered tearfully while cradling his head.
“If they repeat the offense the same day?”
“Their butt will hurt…”
“Now put the amulet back on; take the grass too.” Only after seeing the child retract their tail and obediently wear the amulet over their neck did Yu Xia look back to meet the eyes of the flabbergasted young officer gaping at them. “What? Never seen someone discipline a kid?”
“Nonono…I’ve seen it before, I’ve seen it before. Please go ahead.” The officer gulped and hurriedly took a step backwards.
“Please go ahead and what.” Yu Xia shot the person a glare before grabbing the bag from Yu Yin’s hands. “Give this to the victim when she wakes up. The other thing was cooked by my brother. You can have her eat a bit once she’s conscious.”
“Yessir.” The officer immediately took the bag with care.
“I’ll send someone over later to take over. Tonight’s New Year’s Eve, so…”
“It’s fine, I don’t need to go back for a family reunion dinner.” The officer interrupted Yu Xia’s words, “I’m by myself, so I have a bit more flexibility with time. Please don’t have other colleagues rush over. If they can go home and have celebration dinners with their families, then let them go home.”
Yu Xia surveyed the officer and smiled. “Alright then. I’ll still have someone come over later so that you can rest. You can just head straight to the station to eat with us.”
“Thank you, Senior!”
Yu Yin held onto Yu Xia’s clothes when they left the ward. This time, he pretended to not see anything that waved at him from the sides.
When they passed by the ER, he saw a large group of people stirring up a commotion. There were males and females, old and young. All surrounded a youth whose face was mostly covered with a bloodied towel. Upon closer look, the boy’s feet were all blood too; it was a tragic sight.
“You damn brats, you knew your younger cousin was terrified of ghosts, so what did you scare him in broad daylight for? You made him fall into the gutter!” The several elders struck the boys and girls on their heads. “It’s the new year, yet you frightened him into tripping into the gutter and getting his feet cut, then crashing into an electric pole until his face and nose were covered in blood! Do you think that’s fun to watch? You’re really itching to be beaten, aren’t you?!”
“Aunt-Auntie, I’m fine…” The boy with his face covered frantically grabbed the fierce woman.
“Fine how? These bunch of brats love scaring you! They scare you every year! They didn’t even wait until midnight to act this time, frightening you during the day instead without knowing that your mouse-like cowardice would be so terrified! What a lot of wicked kids!”
“Auntie, please don’t say anymore…” The boy was on the verge of tears from embarrassment.
The doctor and nurses from the ER could only hold back their laughter as they focused on cleaning the boy’s wounds.
“What do you mean don’t say anymore? These rotten brats disturbed other people’s work over the new year…All of you, apologise to the doctors and nurses!”
The boys and girls swallowed their words and stood in a line to properly apologise to the medical staff. The boy sitting next to them had already buried his face in the towel, not daring to look up.
“Ah Yin, what are you doing?”
After walking a while, Yu Xia noticed that Yu Yin wasn’t following. When he turned back, he spotted Yu Yin staring into the ER, and he simply scooped the kid up to leave together.
“Someone fell into a gutter and then crashed into an electric pole.”
“Who’s that dumb during Chinese New Year?”
Yu Xia rubbed the child’s head and they fooled around as they left the hospital.
“Then let’s head over to the police station now!”
“Let’s head over!”
That evening, the police station began to start cooking hotpot in a lively mood.
In the past few years, Yu Tong would always bring great dishes, so now any of their colleagues that had too short of a break to go home or lived alone would return to the station to have the celebration dinner. Naturally, they would pitch in money to support purchasing the various food and drinks.
“Who knows when the transcripts downstairs will be finished.”
Yu Xia heard the roars downstairs as he helped fill plates.
Yu Yin, who was sitting on the steps to look below, blinked as he watched the two sides shout at each other, with officers splitting them up.
“You had the nerve to take my daughter! I fucking declare that I’m ending you today!”
“Come and try! You’ve already done so many evil things! Today’s the perfect timing to deal with you!”
“Just try and see the outcome!”
When Yu Tong passed by the stairs, he patted Yu Yin’s head. “Ah Yin, go help bring out the plates. Don’t watch the adults argue.”
“Hm?” Yu Tong bent down to follow the direction of Yu Yin’s finger.
“There are ābós and āpós 4 outside saying that their children are degenerates.” Yu Yin waved at the many elders outside the window and looked up to glance at his father next to him. “If they fight, no one will give food as respect to the ābós and āpós for new year’s eve, leaving them hungry. The adults won’t go home either; they’re shameful to be constantly arguing over here and making the ābós and āpós stand outside in the wind. It’s very unsightly.”
Yu Tong exchanged a look with Yu Xia behind him, then smiled. “Then how about when we pay respects later, Ah Yin can help pay respect to these ābós and āpós outside instead?”
“But Ah Yin can’t talk with those ābós and āpós. Just bring the things out to pay respect, alright?” Yu Tong reached out and said, “Promise that once you’re done, you’ll hurry back inside to eat.”
“Ok.” Yu Yin nodded and earnestly pinky-promised.
“Don’t forget that you’ve already reached your one-time quota today. Say again, what happens to disobedient children that repeat an offense?” Yu Xia coldly chuckled.
“Their-their butts will hurt…” Yu Yin hugged his head and stood up swiftly to run over and help bring out plates.
Yu Tong stood up and glanced at his brother in amusement. “He’s already been hit once today?”
“I wasn’t paying attention for a moment at the hospital, and he chatted with something even though I clearly told him not to before we went out. He deserved a beating.” Yu Xia snorted.
“Is that so…After the new year, we should bring him to pray [at a temple] again.”
Yu Xia really wanted to tell his brother that the rotten brat had voluntarily taken off the amulet and mugwort, but ultimately decided not to say it now to keep his brother from worrying more. Especially since the source of argument downstairs was still going, even becoming louder and fiercer. Who knew what these people were thinking…Do they think the police station belongs to them or something? “I’m going down to quiet them.”
“It’s the new year. Don’t spill blood over little things.” Yu Tong had likewise noticed that the ruckus downstairs was increasing in volume. In order for the officers on duty to come eat when they were changing shifts, they were gathering in the second-floor conference room. From there, one could clearly see the commotion below.
“I’ll make them spill blood until they’re happy.”
“It’s become so quiet downstairs.”
Half an hour later, when Yu Yin brought out plates to head downstairs and out the back door, he realised that the previously noisy first floor was dead silent now.
“The shūshus and bóbos 5 probably got thirsty and tired. Hopefully they have enough water to drink down there.” Yu Tong smiled as he placed the last bowl on the tray. “When you go light the incense later, remember to ask someone available to light it for you. Children cannot use lighters by themselves.”
“Yeah, children that use lighters will have their hair burned off, I know.”
Yu Yin carefully carried the tray down to the back door. When he passed by an officer, they asked him what he was doing, and then kindly helped move a small table out to place in an empty spot of the parking lot outside. The officer even lit incense for him.
After thanking the officer next to him, Yu Yin earnestly paid respects to the ābós and āpós and offered the incense. Then he ran back into the house with the officer that was waiting for him, so that he would not accidentally do something to get disciplined again.
When they walked through the first floor, he spotted the shūshus and bóbos that had been shouting at each other earlier now mysteriously sporting bruised and swollen faces as they obediently sat in their seats to exchange glares with one another. Every one of them held a paper cup that seemed about to be destroyed from their tight grips.
“You guys are the shameful ones!”
“You guys can’t even beat a damn brat, you’re the shameful ones!”
“Didn’t your entire group get beaten into pigheads too?!”
“You’re the ones like pigs!”
“If you have the guts, just try and see who’s more like a pig!”
“Come on, let’s try it 1v1!”
The two people glaring at each other immediately started a new round of jabs, about to slam the table and stand again.
“Oi, oi, all of you, back to your seats!” The officers doing the last of their transcripts warned the room full of adults. “Or else I’ll ask someone to give you another beating. If the news that you guys were all miserably beaten by a single person gets around, just wait and see if you can still make any messes!”
The people on both sides paled at this scolding and returned to their seats.
Right as the officer inwardly rejoiced at this, he turned to spot Yu Yin walking in. “Ah Yin, hurry on upstairs.”
“Is Zǐzi not here yet?” Yu Yin glanced around the room but did not see the pretty zǐzi that had agreed to come eat hotpot. “So slow. Dad’s already done cooking.”
“Are you waiting for someone?” The officer looked around as well, but did not see any zǐzi.
“Mm, Zǐzi and I promised to eat hotpot here together…”
“Oi, oi, oi! What’s wrong with you cops! Using taxpayer money to buy food now, are you?!” The person that had just been painfully beaten leapt up. “You have the nerve to stir up trouble with us for no reason—”
“Who’s stirring up trouble with whom?!”
A female voice cut off the words of the man Yu Xia called “Pighead Shen”. Then everyone in the room turned their heads in unison to spot a girl in a beautiful dress being pushed in on a wheelchair by a young officer. The girl’s face was still very pale, and there was gauze on her head. Her large and bright black eyes glared at the group of adults. “Dad, it’s New Year’s Eve. How humiliating can you and Bóbo be?!”
“Ah, Xiao Ling! You’re awake! Come, come, come, you woke just in time. Come and see which bastard bullied you!” The middle-aged man sporting a black eye immediately leapt up and pointed to the man of similar age across from him. “Quick, get this bastard locked up!”
“You have the nerve to talk! It was because you messed up that piece of trash land and made it impossible for us to deal with. Plus your bastard son didn’t have the guts to show his face. What could we do aside from teaching you a lesson?!”
“Yeah! Your son frequently brought students there often to snort ketamine! He even dragged my son in!”
“Zǐzi, do you want to go up and eat hotpot?” Yu Yin ignored the bunch of adults insulting each other again. Now that his target had arrived, he happily ran over to the wheelchair to look at the pretty zǐzi that he could touch this time. “Dad just finished cooking, and everything my dad cooks is super tasty!”
The girl smiled and gently rubbed the child’s head. “In a bit. Zǐzi has to resolve things here first. Wait for Zǐzi a bit, I’ll go eat hotpot with you later.”
Hearing the disturbance below, Yu Xia had just been about to teach another lesson to those guys who were itching for a beating. However, he then spotted his nephew run over to jump onto him. The girl then gestured for the officer to push her into the room and asked the slightly perplexed officer to take off the large backpack she carried. “You, you, you, you, and you. All of you, take a good look at your elders!”
When the officer opened the backpack, the entire room fell silent. Even the other officers were dumbstruck.
The girl pulled out many ancestral tablets from the backpack, placing them one by one on the table. It was evident that the girl had gone through a lot of effort for this. She glared at the group of adults and said, “It’s the new year, yet what are you all doing here? Do you not need to take care of your own elders and ancestors anymore? Each and every one of you has just been leaving your elders’ souls to wait outside, aren’t you ashamed?! Having them stand out there without even knowing to bring them in – is that something the younger generation should be doing?!”
Yu Xia raised a brow when he heard the girl scolding the embarrassed adults. Then he glanced down at the brat clinging onto him.
“You’re wondering how I brought all these ancestral tablets out, aren’t you? These are your fathers, your mothers, your grandfathers, your grandmothers, also the parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles of those black-clothed guys causing trouble too…they opened the doors to let me in, telling me to bring these over and show you bunch of people that are acting so humiliating over the new year.” With the ancestral tablets lined up in a row, none of the people dared to even let out a fart. The girl coughed. “I’m exhausted. You all report to your ancestors what messes you’ve made. I’m going to go eat.”
“Come outside first.” Yu Xia had the officers inside retreat, leaving only a few to guard the door and prevent the adults from escaping or colluding together. As others helped carry the girl upstairs, Yu Xia discovered that the troublemakers were now like obedient puppies. Each one of them was voluntarily standing before their family ancestral tablets, uncertain of how to deal with so many tablets that had been brought here. They could only dumbly stare at them, not even daring to move.
“You guys can just stay here to get to know your elders. Cool your heads while you’re at it.”
“Seriously, I can’t stand those adults…they’re wasting police officers over the new year.”
Everyone had divided up the boiling hotpot in the conference room and were curiously watching the girl eating heartily. She seemed to completely ignore their gazes, even giving a piece of meat to Yu Yin next to her. “Sorry for bringing so much inconvenience to all of you. It’s best if they stay shut in until the fifth day after the new year so that they don’t go back only to start the year with horrible deeds.”
Yu Xia exchanged a glance with his brother before looking at the girl eating quite happily. “Both sides are actually quite closely acquainted, aren’t they…?” They had noticed while hearing the arguments that these were not only offenses between acquaintances, but offenses between people that were extremely familiar with each other.
“My dad and Huang-bóbo have known each other for a very long time. Their hearts started turning evil after my mom died, often trying to exploit each other’s land to earn some filthy money when they have nothing better to do. There was one chunk of land that wasn’t handled properly, and the failure caused many problems. So the money and land were both stuck in a deadlock there. I told them that this kind of money would end up leading to issues sooner or later, yet now it’s already turned into this mess…This taro is delicious, it’s very much like how my Mom used to fry them. Can I eat some more?”
Several officers quickly began to work with the taros.
“So they really didn’t want to kill you?” The young officer asked somewhat anxiously.
“Oh, that’s actually a bit of a misunderstanding.” The girl rubbed the gauze on her head and said, “Originally, Huang-bóbo and the others captured me to have me relay a message. They wanted my dad to quickly come out and solve the matter of the land and his’ worthless son’s ketamine matter. But they were too panicked when they caught me. Since the driver wasn’t skilled either, my head hit the car window and I fainted. They acted as if I had died and were terrified to death, so they left me in the trunk because they didn’t even know what to do.”
The other officers that were at the celebration dinner were slightly speechless. Some had even been forced to work extra hours because of this case, and with faint resentment, began considering tying up those people downstairs in burlap bags later.
While they were working hard to eat the various hotpot foods, another disturbance arose from downstairs. Upon closer listen, one could hear different cracks of items being smashed and adults wailing out in anguish.
“B-Boss! A supernatural incident!” The officer that had been standing guard charged upstairs to shout, “Something is tossing out belongings at those people! And a lot of them too!”
“Ah, because I brought the tablets inside, the elders followed in. I’m so sorry. The elders will leave once they’ve vented a bit,” the girl apologetically informed the officers once she wheeled herself over to glance downstairs.
The police were dumbstruck as they listened to the “Mom, I’m sorry, I won’t do it again”, “Grandma, I’m sorry”, “Fuck, fuck”, etc. from the men shouting fearfully below.
Yu Yin ran over to the edge of the staircase with his bowl. When he spotted the station’s thick calendar for the new year fly up, Yu Yin shouted, “Ābós and āpós, you can’t throw around documents! Or break anything! It’ll be a bother for the gēges and shūshus to clean up later!”
The calendar froze, then slowly returned to its original spot.
Then came the sound of a heavy chair being dragged.
“No one will end up dying tonight before the new year, right?” Yu Tong watched the rare, amazing scene unfolding. He had no intention of stopping it; it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to go downstairs together after eating their fill and clean things up. It could be treated as post-meal exercise.
“Those guys have robust bodies. Doesn’t seem like they’ll die.” Yu Xia shrugged and decided to continue eating the feast. In any case, the older generation disciplining the younger generation was at most just for appearances. They wouldn’t actually throw anything at them to endanger their lives. Worst case, there would just be a moment of pain.
“Let them properly reflect on themselves.” The girl told the officers to go back and finish their meal. She had no desire to rescue the adults in her family.
“Does that mean you can see them too?” Yu Tong casually struck up small-talk as he sat down and swapped the girl’s bowl for a clean one to keep eating with.
“I saw them more clearly when I was little, but I only see some shadows now.” The girl did not avoid the question at all as she nodded, “I heard the master at the temple say that sometimes one can slowly lose their sight, and that children see more easily.”
“Lose sight of what?” Yu Yin bounded over to jump onto a chair, tilting his head at the two’s exchange.
“The people that nobody knows are still here.” The girl placed a taro into Yu Yin’s small bowl and smiled. “When people do bad things, they always forget there are others watching them from behind. So even if you lose your sight later, remember not to do bad things.”
“Ah Yin doesn’t do anything bad. Children that do bad things will be struck by lightning.” Yu Yin completely remembered the instruction that had been ingrained in him through pain and he quickly replied, “The lightning god is super busy.”
The girl covered her mouth as she chuckled. Then she glanced left and right. “Huh, the other Officer Yu is gone.”
Yu Tong indeed did not see any trace of Yu Xia. After some thought, he smiled and responded, “He likely had something to deal with. Are you looking for him?”
“Mn, I wanted to thank him. I don’t know how Officer Yu knew how important this dress is to me…the original one wasn’t damaged either, it was just dirtied and needs to be properly cleaned up,” the girl said as she tugged on her dress.
“I figure that it was because of the photo.” Yu Tong pondered this to himself and told her, “There were some photographs of your everyday life in the case file. You always wore that same dress in the pictures of more important gatherings.”
“Because Mom bought it for me.” The girl rubbed Yu Yin’s head as she stared at the beautiful patterns over her legs. “My mom loved seeing me wear this dress the most. She said that the flowers were pretty and that she had always wanted to wear this type of dress when she was young. So whenever I wore it, she would always be delighted. I wear it to important places too, hoping that she can rest easier.” It was just her father downstairs that was currently making it impossible for anyone to rest easy.
“So that’s what it was. I’m sure Xia will return later. If you’re not in a rush, we can wait for the new year together before Xia comes back.”
When Yu Xia entered the police station, he passed by the guys on the first floor that were now kneeling before the tablets with sullen expressions. Their faces were even more swollen than when Yu Xia had beaten them before.
“They finished getting disciplined?” Yu Xia casually asked the guarding officer that had just changed shifts. The officer’s response was a quiet and excited voice saying that it had truly been satisfying…and that it would be great if this kind of hilarious mood-setting scene would come every year.
Despite saying this, they still kindly moved the hotpot down to let the guys who could not go home for their celebration dinner eat a bit. However, it was very clear that compared to the temptation of hotpot, these people were more afraid of having chairs fly at them if they stood up. So while the food was steaming on one side, they remained kneeling in place.
As soon as Yu Xia walked upstairs, Yu Yin pounced over. “Zǐzi gave me a red packet!”
Seeing that the child was holding a collection of multiple red packets already, Yu Xia knew that the killing red packet circulation had already started now that they had finished their meal. Some people had given him one before they returned to their duties, others had given them to him after their guard shift. He picked up Yu Yin with one fell swoop. “Did you say thank you?”
“I did. Zǐzi said she was really tired so she’s sleeping for a bit and will wake up later. The ābós and āpós below already went home first. We’re not supposed to tell the others so that they can continue kneeling there.” Yu Yin grabbed onto Yu Xia’s shoulders and dutifully relayed these words to his guardian before stretching out his hands. “Uncle, Happy New Year. May you be prosperous with good fortune!”
“Damn brat, so straightforward with asking for red packets, huh.” Yu Xia pinched the other’s cheek and fished around his pockets to pull out a red packet he had prepared long ago. He patted the child’s face with the envelope.
“Ah, Uncle and Dad used the same envelope.” Yu Yin pulled out an identical one from his pocket. It was a fresh red envelope with goldfish adorned on it.
“Obviously. It came as a pack of six.”
“Uncle and Dad also have the same amount of six hundred [yuan]…”
“What would kids carry around too much money for? You’ll get robbed by bad people.”
When Yu Xia ran past the conference room, he spotted Yu Tong and that young officer cleaning up the plates and replacing them with desserts and fruits instead. Thus, Yu Xia strolled in with the child in his arms to help.
“Uncle, Uncle, will I get more [money] when I grow older?” Yu Yin carefully stowed the red packets away to carry plates too.
“Why is a kid haggling for money? Asking for a beating?”
“Just-just that if you give a bit more, then excluding the confiscated ones and the ones being stored away, I can give some packets back to you.” Yu Yin looked up at the adults with wide eyes. “Isn’t that right? Then everyone has red packets to be safe and healthy together.”
Yu Xia and Yu Tong glanced at each other after a beat of silence. Then Yu Xia gave a light whack to the child’s head. “Wait until you start working, brat.”
“I can give them as long as I work? I’m carrying dishes and wiping the floors already. Can I start with packing twenty yuan first? Kids are a bit poor…”
“Poor, my ass.”
The fireworks went off at midnight. They went down to the first level and found that the girl, who had woken up a while earlier, was eating a late new year’s meal with the adults that were still trembling while on their knees.
With a large pile of red packets, Ah Yin was satisfied and went into the break room to sleep deeply.
Yu Tong pulled a blanket over the child.
Then Yu Xia walked over to stand next to the window, watching the people going in and out of the police station.
Regardless of where the calls came from, the police, fire brigade, and emergency doctors were still constantly working or handling things without end. Though their new year’s meals would end up divided into multiple parts in order to finish, the staff continued on busily as usual.
Day after day, year after year.
Yu Yin was dazed from sleepiness as he hugged Yu Tong’s arm and very quietly said, “You’ve worked hard…Happy New Year…Happy New Year…”
“Happy New Year to Ah Yin too.”
Then the new year arrived.
“Everyone, Happy New Year.”
1. The shūshū (“uncle”) used here is the generic term of address for an older man. ↑
2. [da]zǐzǐ = “older sister”, not necessarily biological. ↑
3. The shūshū (“uncle”) used here refers to biological uncle (younger). Yu Yin usually calls Yu Xia 二爸 (“Second Dad”), which I translate as “Uncle” (see YBCB v1c1 for detailed explanation). But he tries to use the proper term shūshū when speaking to others to avoid any possible misunderstandings. ↑
4. ābó = grandpa, āpó = grandma, not necessarily biological.↑
5. The bóbo (“uncle”) used here is the generic term of address for an older man (and older than a shūshū.) It can also refer to biological uncle (older). ↑