Meng Ting glanced at Yan Sui, showing no displeasure. On the contrary, he always felt happy whenever Yan Sui showed him affection. He scooped up a spoonful of cake and fed it to Yan Sui.
Yan Sui accepted it naturally. Their intimacy, including sharing a cake, was nothing unusual to them. However, most guests at the party were surprised, but their astonishment at Meng Ting's identity outshone their reaction to the cake-sharing.
From being the illegitimate son of the Meng family to the legitimate youngest son of the Xiao family's main branch, Meng Ting's status had changed dramatically. His father was now the head of the Xiao family, and Meng Ting had inheritance rights.
"Thirty years in the east, thirty years in the west; who knows what the future holds?"
Old Master Xiao, seeing how Yan Sui doted on Meng Ting, felt quite satisfied. When someone inquired, he openly said, "Meng Ting is the lost young son of our family, and I'm here to see him."
Old Master Xiao's statement hadn't yet formally recognized Meng Ting as a member of the Xiao family. Meng Ting needed to gather the main and important collateral members of the Xiao family at their ancestral home and amend the family records, which incorrectly marked Meng Ting as deceased, to officially acknowledge his lineage.
Xiao Hui Min and Ning Zhou, unwilling to wrong Meng Ting, planned a celebration after recognizing him, inviting all prominent families of Beicheng. However, they decided to wait until both Meng Ting and Yan Sui felt it was the right time.
After discussing with Old Master Xiao, he requested to see Meng Ting. However, Xiao Hui Min and Ning Zhou knew he was more interested in observing Yan Sui, but even Xiao Hui Min wasn't sure of his exact thoughts.
While Meng Ting was eating cake, Xiao Bo approached and discussed with Yan Sui about the accommodation arrangements for the Xu family and Xiao family members that night.
There were rooms in Yan's residence, but accommodating both families simultaneously was impractical. Other guests had their arrangements in Haicheng. Xu Shumin and Old Master Xiao seemed to enjoy their conversation, but in reality, they were awaiting Yan Sui's decision.
The arrangements reflected Yan Sui's priorities between the Xiao and Xu families.
Xiao Bo, feeling the dilemma, came to discuss with Yan Sui.
After a moment, Yan Sui had his answer, "Tell Uncle Grandfather that I've arranged a suite for him at the hotel."
Xiao Bo was initially surprised and puzzled but, seeing Yan Sui's firm gaze, he nodded without hesitation and went to carry out the instructions.
In fact, Yan Sui had decided during his morning conversation with Xu Shumin. The Yan family had been secretly targeted by the Yan family for years, and it was unlikely that Xu Shumin's wish for an easy reconciliation would come true. However, he still came to Haicheng as a mediator.
Between the Yan family and his friend, he chose his friend. Having made his choice, Yan Sui didn't need to hesitate. He wouldn't try to balance both sides.
Xu Shumin's expression cooled instantly, but his composure prevented him from showing anger. His brief change in expression was hard to notice, but Old Master Xiao, sitting opposite him and observing the conversation, could sense it.
Xu Shumin's displeasure pleased Old Master Xiao, who then stopped talking and looked around, finally approaching Yan Sui and Meng Ting.
After Meng Ting finished his cake, Yan Sui continued whispering to him. After a while, they noticed Old Master Xiao's presence.
"Grandfather, you must be tired. Let me have someone take you to rest," Yan Sui said, holding Meng Ting's hand.
True to form, Old Master Xiao's lips curled slightly at Yan Sui's words, then his expression became serious again, and he hummed in response.
Meng Ting, unfamiliar with Old Master Xiao, wasn't sure what to say. After thinking, he said, "Grandfather, good night."
"Hmm," Old Master Xiao responded, his tone noticeably softer than when speaking to Yan Sui.
Not only did Xiao Hui Min and Ning Zhou feel they owed Meng Ting, but Old Master Xiao also shared this sentiment. He felt responsible for Ning Zhou and Meng Ting's kidnapping when he was in charge.
Meng Ting didn't notice the difference in tone. He just found Old Master Xiao not very talkative, responding mostly with "hmm."
After the cake-cutting, the evening progressed, and guests started leaving. Xu Shumin left later, seemingly puzzled by Yan Sui's stance. After Yan Sui and Meng Ting saw him off, Xu Shumin didn't ask further questions.
Yan Sui clearly told Xu Shumin, "I will show no mercy."
The Xu family might have ties with the Yan family, but Yan Sui only had enmity with them. He wouldn't give Yan Junsheng any chance to rekindle old fires.
After the Xu family members and other guests from Haicheng left, the once lively birthday party quieted down.
Walking back after seeing off the guests, Meng Ting pulled Yan Sui's hand, earnestly saying, "If there's anything I can help with, you must tell me."
Yan Sui drew Meng Ting closer, feeling the distance still insufficient. He stopped, embraced Meng Ting, his voice soft but certain, "You've already helped me a lot."
If the Xiao family were opposed, Yan Sui wouldn't have the mind to hold a birthday party. But what the Xiao family could really offer remained to be seen. Yan Sui hadn't planned on relying on them.
Meng Ting leaned against Yan Sui, again advising, "Don't overwork yourself. I'll be worried."
"Okay, I know," Yan Sui smiled. He hadn't been overly tired from work recently. If anything could truly exhaust Yan Sui, it would be Meng Ting himself, who seemed to forget his clinginess once he got out of bed.
"It's late; let me show you your birthday present."
Meng Ting, leaning against Yan Sui, yawned lazily. It was late for him.
"Okay," Yan Sui nodded gently, then led Meng Ting inside. In the living room, they found Yan Man Jia and Ning Zhou still chatting.
"Everyone's tired from today; you two should rest early too."
Yan Man Jia immediately suggested this upon seeing Yan Sui and Meng Ting. Ning Zhou also nodded, "Go to sleep, Nuo Nuo. I'll make dumplings for you in the morning."
Meng Ting hesitated before nodding, "We might not wake up early. Mom, don't get up too soon."
"Okay," Ning Zhou quickly agreed, touched by Meng Ting's concern.
Ning Zhou and Xiao Hui Min had prepared rooms in the Yan Family’s house. However, Xiao Zi’ang and Xiao Zimo declined, and Yan Sui didn't insist. He asked them to come over for breakfast the next day.
After saying goodnight to Yan Man Jia and Ning Zhou, Yan Sui and Meng Ting went upstairs to their room. Meng Ting's eyes brightened at the sight of the bed, but before he could lie down, Yan Sui embraced him.
"It's too late to bathe, but we should still change first."
Meng Ting nodded, feeling lazy and tired. He leaned into Yan Sui, letting him help with undressing. "I'll rest a bit, then it's my turn to help you."
Yan Sui smiled helplessly, understanding Meng Ting's intention. But if he let Meng Ting help, it would take much longer to get to bed. After helping Meng Ting change into pajamas, Yan Sui quickly undressed and changed as well.
Meng Ting looked at Yan Sui, a thoughtful blush tinting his cheeks. He felt really tired today, but at least there wasn’t any trouble.
Meng Ting looked at Yan Sui, a thoughtful blush tinting his cheeks. He felt genuinely tired today, desiring nothing but peace, avoiding any provocation.
They washed up in the bathroom and then returned to bed. Meng Ting nestled into Yan Sui's embrace, pondering for a moment before speaking, "Actually, what happened this morning was enough. Let's talk about it tomorrow."
Yan Sui turned his head slightly and covered Meng Ting's eyes with his hand. He hadn't been thinking about it, but worried that Meng Ting might say or do something that would keep them awake even longer.
"By the way, you haven't seen the gift I got for you."
Meng Ting grasped Yan Sui's wrist, pulled it away, then climbed over him to reach the bedside drawer. He retrieved a neatly wrapped gift box - Yan Sui's birthday present.
Holding the gift, Meng Ting returned to his spot, sitting up and handing the gift to Yan Sui with utmost sincerity. "Happy Birthday."
It was past midnight; Yan Sui's birthday was technically over, but Meng Ting wanted to say it again. Now, next year, and every year on Yan Sui's birthday, he planned to repeat these words.
Yan Sui, receiving the gift with both hands, caressed it for a moment before sitting up. He pulled Meng Ting close and opened the gift box, revealing a light purple crystal bottle, beautifully clear and engraved with the words “Yan Ting Best Love.”
Touching the engraved words, Yan Sui looked at Meng Ting and asked softly, "Why do you think 'Yan Ting' sounds nice?"
Meng Ting had nothing to hide from Yan Sui. Leaning against him, he playfully poked Yan Sui's chest. "I want to take your surname."
Meng Ting knew he wouldn't need his own name after discovering his real family, but he could still use it for his perfume.
This perfume bottle carried the aspirations and dreams of Meng Ting's two lifetimes, naming it with his desired name felt right.
"Do you like it?" Meng Ting asked. After a pause and seeing Yan Sui speechless, he looked up again.
Yan Sui's throat tightened, then he nodded, "It's beautiful."
His silence wasn't indifference, but deep emotion. The feelings he had suppressed during the press conference resurfaced, more intense in this private moment, leaving him at a loss for words with Meng Ting.
"Does it smell good?" Meng Ting asked again, his concern evident. The scent of the perfume was unmistakable now that the box was open.
"It smells wonderful," Yan Sui replied. This perfume, tailored for him by Meng Ting, wasn't just pleasant but also matched his preferences and aura. He held Meng Ting tighter, answering the unasked question.
"I really like it."
Hearing this, Meng Ting finally relaxed completely. He placed the perfume bottle back in the drawer and attempted to crawl back to his spot. However, halfway there, Yan Sui's arms locked around his waist, pulling him atop himself. Meng Ting turned, a puzzled look on his face, but before he could speak, Yan Sui kissed him, their positions reversing, and they ended up at the foot of the bed.
Meng Ting's eyes went from wide to squinting, unable to understand Yan Sui's sudden desire but not rejecting it either, trusting him completely. As they relaxed into each other, everything else became easy.
They rolled from one side of the bed to the other, finally ending up in Meng Ting's usual sleeping spot.
Too exhausted to notice, Meng Ting mumbled half-complainingly, "You're going to wear me out..." before falling asleep in Yan Sui's arms.
Yan Sui initially felt guilty, but Meng Ting's words washed it away. He smiled, kissed Meng Ting's cheek, and then got up to tidy up.
After finishing, he lay down, noticing it was already 2 AM. Picking up his phone, he saw an unread message.
After a glance, Yan Sui stood up, dressed, and walked to the balcony, dialing the number.
A man's voice, still devoid of fatigue, answered. Without mincing words, he reported, "There's been unusual activity around Su Suyu today."
"The TV broadcast?" Yan Sui guessed instantly, confirming his suspicions.
After a pause, the man continued, "He smashed everything he could in his room after watching it, then calmed down. I couldn’t get more out of him, but he seems to trust me now."
"If he plans to go to Licheng, let him."
Acknowledging, Yan Sui hung up and stayed on the balcony for a while before returning inside.
Meng Ting, deeply asleep, didn't notice Yan Sui's absence. Yan Sui watched him for a moment, content to see him sleeping peacefully, then pulled the covers over them both and closed his eyes.
The next day, aside from the early-sleeping Old Master Xiao, no one in the Yan household rose early, especially Yan Sui and Meng Ting, who didn’t come downstairs until almost nine. Old Master Xiao, a firm believer in early rising, seemed displeased but said nothing.
However, after breakfast, as Meng Ting sat on the couch, Old Master Xiao spoke, “Pack up, we’re returning to Beicheng.”
Meng Ting was stunned, looking at Old Master Xiao and then at Yan Sui, who was talking at the door. Before he could respond, Old Master Xiao continued.
“Only by returning to the Xiao family can you truly help him. How can the Xiao family confront the Yan family for you? It won’t be easy to shake the Yan family’s standing. Without the Xiao family, Yan Sui faces a tough battle.”
Even the Xu family, related through his maternal grandmother, chose to stay out of it, as did other families, including the Zhong family, despite their good relations with the Yan family. No one dared take a stand, grateful enough not to exploit the situation.
Old Master Xiao’s words were sensible, but Meng Ting’s resolve didn’t waver. He shook his head lightly, “I trust Yan Sui. Even without your help, he can achieve anything he sets his mind to.”
“He wouldn’t want me to leave. I know.”
Meng Ting’s trust in Yan Sui surpassed Old Master Xiao’s expectations. While he was startled by Xiao’s analysis, he couldn’t change his decision. Looking down then up again at Old Master Xiao, he said firmly, “I won’t leave. If you don’t want to help, don’t force yourselves.”
“My parents are welcome to visit me, but I won’t leave Yan Sui or Haicheng.”
Meng Ting’s decision might seem selfish to outsiders, but he preferred struggling with Yan Sui over reluctant help.
Old Master Xiao’s words only served to dissipate the budding positive feelings Meng Ting had for the Xiao family.
Old Master Xiao’s mustache twitched. For the first time, he seemed to truly see Meng Ting – simple yet uncompromising.
“Are you saying you won’t acknowledge your ancestors if the Xiao family doesn’t help Yan Sui?”
Meng Ting, not fully understanding the implications, replied, “Why must I leave Yan Sui to be recognized? Isn’t calling you mom and dad enough?”
Meng Ting felt a pang of sadness. Looking at Ning Zhou, who brought over fruit, he realized perhaps he was never meant to have parental love. If so, there was no need to force it.
Meng Ting’s words were curt, signaling an end to the conversation with Old Master Xiao.
However, Old Master Xiao didn’t grasp what Meng Ting understood. He thought bringing Meng Ting to Beicheng would give them an escape route if things turned sour. But Ning Zhou and Xiao Huimin, given their nature, would undoubtedly stand by Meng Ting and Yan Sui to the end.
Old Master Xiao’s words, intended to gauge Meng Ting’s commitment, backfired. He could see Meng Ting’s deep feelings for Yan Sui, but couldn’t comprehend why Meng Ting wouldn’t sacrifice a little for his sake.
Their chance to clarify things was lost as Ning Zhou approached with fruit. Old Master Xiao returned to his TV, but Meng Ting broke the unspoken understanding, avoiding Ning Zhou’s touch and standing up.
Not just avoiding, he walked towards Yan Sui.
“What’s wrong, Nuo Nuo?” Ning Zhou’s voice was a mix of disappointment and frustration. She glanced at Old Master Xiao, contemplating her next move, her expression darkening. “Dad, what did you say to Zinuo?”
Ning Zhou’s voice wasn’t quiet. She stood up, her rising anger was evident. Yan Sui and Xiao Huimin standing at the door looked over. Yan Sui’s focus quickly turned to Meng Ting. He walked over and gripped Meng Ting’s hand, which had already unconsciously curled into a fist.
Yan Sui gave Xiao Huimin a nod before leading Meng Ting out of the living room. They went to the garden to talk.
But even as they walked away, Meng Ting remained silent. Only when he exhaled softly did they stop.
Meng Ting looked up at Yan Sui, then hugged him tightly. “Yan Sui, I’m sorry, I refused grandfather.”
“He wanted me to return to Beicheng with him to acknowledge my ancestors in exchange for helping you. I refused.”
Meng Ting was willing to do anything for Yan Sui, with one condition: it had to be something Yan Sui would allow. Meng Ting knew, even without asking, that Yan Sui would not approve of such a trade for the help of the Xiao family.
It wasn't just that Yan Sui couldn't bear to part with him; it was also a matter of Yan Sui's pride. He would never desire such a thing.
Upon hearing this, Yan Sui's face showed no surprise. He gently massaged Meng Ting's neck, a slight smile appearing at the corners of his mouth, as if afraid Meng Ting wouldn't feel it. He lifted Meng Ting's face and kissed him on the lips. "There's no need to apologize. If you hadn’t refused, then I would be the one to be upset."
To be precise, Yan Sui was actually quite happy because Meng Ting truly understood him. This kind of deep, soulful connection was extremely rare and precious. Besides Meng Ting, he would never experience this feeling with anyone else in his lifetime.
"Thank you for trusting me," he said.
Meng Ting had been with Yan Sui for so long that the discomfort he felt in the living room had dissipated, but there was still a lingering frustration in his chest. Yet, with just a few words from Yan Sui, that frustration vanished.
Meng Ting hugged Yan Sui even tighter. "No matter what happens, I will never leave you. Don’t push me away. Even though I won’t leave, it would still hurt me. So, don’t push me away."
Yan Sui was silent for a moment before responding. He knew what Meng Ting was telling him: he refused any departure that was supposedly for his own good, whether in poverty, destitution, or even danger. Meng Ting would never leave.
In the Yan family living room, amidst the increasingly grim faces of Xiao Huiming and Ning Zhou, Grandfather Xiao remained calm and composed, watching television. He knew that no matter how angry Xiao Huiming and Ning Zhou were, they wouldn't confront him directly. Despite this, he still felt a sense of defeat deep inside.
Meng Ting's reaction was completely unexpected to him, but he was still waiting for the result of Meng Ting's discussion with Yan Sui.
Half an hour later, Yan Sui and Meng Ting returned. Yan Sui’s expression was unchanged, while Meng Ting looked down, avoiding everyone's gaze.
Grandfather Xiao's mustache twitched, his heart understanding the situation, yet he was somewhat displeased. But Yan Sui’s words soon negated Grandfather Xiao’s presumptions.
"Meng Ting will stay in Haicheng, by my side, no matter the circumstances. We will face them together."
Yan Sui spoke directly to Grandfather Xiao, then continued, "I don’t need help dealing with the Yan family."
"Why are you still..." Xiao Huiming looked at Yan Sui, slightly speechless. He had just discussed the same matter with Yan Sui outside the door. Yan Sui had told him that he didn’t need help, which had frustrated him.
"Grandfather said that if I go back to Beicheng to acknowledge my ancestry and heritage, he would help. I refused, and Yan Sui agreed."
Meng Ting interjected. They didn’t want the Xiao family’s help and saw no reason to owe them any favors.
"If my parents miss me, they can still come and see me… Beicheng, I won’t go."
Meng Ting didn’t want to take his frustration out on Xiao Huiming and Ning Zhou, but his mood was peculiar at the moment. Saying this, the sense of estrangement and formality returned.
Ning Zhou watched Meng Ting, tears shimmering in her eyes, but Meng Ting merely glanced at her before lowering his head again.
After a moment, he looked up again and said earnestly, "You don’t need to feel indebted to me, nor do you have to do anything special for me. As I’ve said before, if you don’t like me, there’s no need to force it."
"How has it become a matter of forcing?"
Ning Zhou sat back down on the sofa as Meng Ting finished speaking. Her upbringing prevented her from lashing out at an elder, but she was also unwilling to let Meng Ting drift apart from her.
She looked at Meng Ting, her expression and tone filled with a plea. "I don’t want to leave. Can I stay here with you?"
Meng Ting looked at Ning Zhou and then at Yan Sui, nodding his head. "I'm sorry. I'm not good with words, and I didn’t mean to upset you."
"No, it's my fault, I'm the one who is wrong," Ning Zhou said, coming over to take Meng Ting’s hand and then standing beside him, looking determinedly at Xiao Huiming.
Grandfather Xiao had insisted on coming to Haicheng, giving Ning Zhou a bad feeling, and indeed, her premonitions were correct. She bit her lip and looked at Yan Sui, who had probably anticipated Grandfather Xiao’s reaction even earlier than they had.
If Grandfather Xiao was surprised before, now he was truly shocked. He had wanted to take Meng Ting away, to be uncontrolled by others, but now he had left the matriarch of the Xiao family in Haicheng.