Friday, November 27, 2015

Till Death Do Us Part - ch4

Translator: ayszhang
Proofreaders: coolostyne, happyBuddha, m@o, Marcia, ying



This time around Shen Liangsheng did not keep Ch’in Ching waiting for long – he didn’t want to either – driving to Sheng Kung again a few days later for a casual dinner.
There were four cold dishes on the table when they arrived at the cozy, second-floor private room at Yühuat’ai. The dishes looked simple, too, not like a feast; truly a casual meal.
“What a good man you are, Master Shen, watching out for my wallet,” Ch’in Ching commented after taking his seat.
“You treated me to crosstalk last time. Let me treat you this time.”
“I refuse to believe all it takes is a few jokes and some tea.”
“Well, if you really feel the need to make up for it,” Shen Liangsheng said as he poured a glass of yangho tach’ü for him. “Drink up.”
“Very well. It was I who broke the promise last time. I should be drinking three glasses, but now it’s only one. I’m actually getting the long end of the stick.” Without reluctance, Ch’in Ching finished the spirit.
“You’re not getting off that easily.” Shen Liangsheng filled it up again, adding, “It’s still three glasses.”
“Come on, three glasses, one glass, what’s the big deal?” Ch’in Ching broke out laughing. The glass was not too big, and two more wouldn’t make a difference, so he drank it all as told.

Yühuat’ai offered authentic Huaiyang cuisine. Yangho tach’ü also originated from Chiangsu and had a deceiving, velvety finish. Ch’in Ching drank three glasses on an empty stomach and only felt the strength of the liquor after it settled in. His body began to heat up starting from his stomach. His head was still clear but his face had gone red.
“Have some food.” Shen Liangsheng picked some things into Ch’in Ching’s bowl, thinking that alcohol was bad on an empty stomach even though his ultimate goal was getting the man drunk.
The two ate as they chatted, and Shen Liangsheng got a few more glasses into Ch’in Ching. By the time they finished three hot dishes, the schoolmaster was tipsy. When Shen Liangsheng filled his glass again, he quickly made an excuse. “I can’t. I still have lessons tomorrow and papers to mark tonight.”
“It’s actually my birthday today.” Shen Liangsheng did not falter the slightest. The clear liquid soon reached the rim of the glass. “Accompany me at the cost of thy life just this once, Mister Ch’in.”
“That’s not how you use the proverb,” Ch’in Ching laughed. “Plus, is it really your birthday? You’re lying, aren’t you?”
“You’re the teacher. How dare I lie to you? It’s you doing the lying.”
“Just a second. You shouldn’t accuse without proof, Master Shen. When have I ever lied to you?”
Frankly, Shen Liangsheng had not given too much thought to his statement but started to seriously consider after hearing Ch’in Ching’s reply. His conclusion was: “You haven’t yet, and I’d like to keep it that way. You’re not allowed to lie to me in future.”
“How old are you, mister? You’re acting like a bratty child.”
“Ill be twenty-six after today.”
“Two years older than me, huh… Wait, is it actually your birthday?” Shen Liangsheng’s wholehearted answer made Ch’in Ching question with surprise.
“According to the Gregorian, it is,” Shen Liangsheng kept a straight face while continuing the tall tale. “My family only celebrates the lunar birthday, so I only have Teacher Ch’in to keep me company on the Gregorian one.”
“Yeah, sure.” Ch’in Ching chuckled as he shook his head, but he still raised his glass. “Happy birthday.”
The two clinked glasses. Afterwards, Ch’in Ching did not reject any alcohol that was poured into his glass. Shen Liangsheng was the birthday man after all, so he decided to “accompany him at the cost of his life” just this once.
Shen Liangsheng had built up a tolerance through business and social entertaining and was far from his limit. Meanwhile, Ch’in Ching was fairly drunk. Some drunks cry, but Ch’in Ching only smiled. A cute dimple found itself on his cheek.
His head was heavy making his vision blurry, too. He took his glasses off to wipe them but did not replace them, instead getting lost gazing at Shen Liangsheng’s hand.
Shen Liangsheng had just put some prawns into his bowl when he noticed Ch’in Ching staring downward with squinted eyes. The red mole by his eye and the light blush on his cheeks aroused something deep within.
“What are you looking at?”
“Shen Liangsheng,” Ch’in Ching looked up. “Has anyone ever told you, you have beautiful fingers?”
“No,” Shen Liangsheng raised a brow. “But I have been told they are very talented.”
“Talented?” Ch’in Ching was confused.
“Women tell me that in bed.” Shen Liangsheng was being very straightforward now. “Do you get it now?”
“I honestly don’t know how you say that straight-faced.”
Ch’in Ching’s face grew a darker shade of red. He put his spectacles back on awkwardly and dug into his food again. Somehow he could feel Shen Liangsheng’s heated eyes on himself but then he thought it was merely because he was hot from the alcohol.

It was past eight o’clock when they finished eating. Ch’in Ching walked out of the restaurant after Shen Liangsheng. The cold wind cleared his mind a bit, but he stumbled before he could get anywhere.
Wind was the worst after drinking. The brief moment of clarity was not enough for him to walk properly. Shen Liangsheng dragged him into the car and said as he fired up the engine, “I can’t let you go home like this. I live closer. We’ll get you sober there before I see you home.”
“It’s all your fault.” Earlier, Ch’in Ching had been chiding Shen Liangsheng for being petulant. Now that he was drunk, he was starting to sound like a child himself. “I told you no more but you just wouldn’t stop. I hate you. I still have marking to do tonight.”
“Yes, it’s all my fault. Happy?” Shen Liangsheng didnt mind humouring his fractious quarry. “I’ll even do the marking for you, all right?”
“You? The girls I teach would do a better job.”
There was not another quip from Ch’in Ching after that. It appeared he drifted to sleep in the passenger seat.

Shen Liangsheng did not live with his father. He maintained his own residence on Cambridge Road, not far from Yühuat’ai.
Cambridge Road belonged to the English concession, but the manors architecture was French and took up well over a quarter acre when the yard was included. Beside the few servants, Shen Liangsheng was the only one on the semi-deserted premises most of the time.
Shen Liangsheng stopped the car before the intricate metal gate, waited for the gatekeeper to open it, and then proceeded to park it by the limestone steps leading to the main building. Having napped in the car, Ch’in Ching was a bit more sober and could get out the vehicle without assistance. He took a look towards the house.
“What should I call Mr. Shen Sr. if I bump into him?”
“No need. My dad doesn’t live here,” Shen Liangsheng replied as he led his guest up the steps, past the antechamber and main lounge, and straight to the study. He made the man lie down on the couch. “Get some rest. I’ll grade your papers for you. Not a single mistake. Guaranteed.”
Ch’in Ching shot him a strange look. “You were serious?”
“Wouldn’t want you getting angry at me again.”
“You say I retort too much. I say you aren’t so innocent yourself.” Ch’in Ching laughed as he took the bundle of papers from Shen Liangsheng and pulled out the answer sheet tucked inside. “Here you go. It’s all yours. Now, ten marks off for every mistake.”
“Is that for me or the students?”

A servant brought tea and shut the door very quietly on the way out. Ch’in Ching lay on the couch facing the back of it. His head was still not on straight, but he wasn’t sleepy. He could only hear the light shuffling of paper behind him. He flipped over and looked over at the desk.
Sure enough, Shen Liangsheng was diligently marking the papers. The warm lamplight outlined his figure, still and flawless like a gypsum sculpture in an artist’s workshop.
The papers of two classes combined did not take Shen Liangsheng too long. After he tidied up and glanced over, he saw Ch’in Ching lying on the couch without his glasses, squinting at him. He approached, bent down and began massaging the man’s temples.
“How’s your head feeling?” He whispered as his shadow loomed over.
“Fine,” Ch’in Ching managed a murmur with his eyes shut.
Despite Shen Liangsheng’s hands never stepping out of line, the silence in the room and the hushed exchange between the two added a sensual undertone.
Ch’in Ching felt his heart rate quicken for some reason. He couldnt help but clear his throat and evade his masseur’s hands. Putting on his glasses, he paced over to the bookshelf and began browsing with perceived interest.

Shen Liangsheng was a true believer when it came to realism. The principle applied with books as well. The shelves were dominated by books on economics and merchandising written in a foreign script , and not a single recreational novel could be found. Ch’in Ching was confident in English but had neither interest in nor familiarity with these subjects. He had difficulty finding a common topic.
“What’s this?” After a long search, he finally spotted a book that he, too, had read and slid it out. “I didn’t think you would read this.”
Shen Liangsheng came close to see him holding the collection of poetry by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
“I haven’t really,” he said flatly as he stuck the book back in its place and closed the bookshelf.
Although the impassive behaviour was typical of Shen Liangsheng, Ch’in Ching could sense some displeasure coming from him, a reluctance to pursue this topic. However, it was Shen Liangsheng’s own private matters whatever the reason. Ch’in Ching wouldnt seek any explanations but nonetheless, couldnt think of anything else to say.
“Do you know how to play billiards?”
“What?” Ch’in Ching was caught off guard by the sudden change of topic and took a moment before telling the truth. “No, I’ve never played.”
“I’ll teach you.”

Billiards originated in England and had always been quite popular in its homeland. When he was in school, Shen Liangsheng was not fond of fun and games but was a socialite nonetheless, getting invited to anything and everything by his schoolmates. He had met the woman with whom he had the longest relationship at the pool table. She was a married woman, skilled at the game, and a generous spirit particularly with money. Needless to point out that Shen Liangsheng benefitted from the relationship. He didn’t see any wrongdoing or shame in it – take and use whatever is available was his motto.
After graduation, he was determined to return to the homeland. The woman was persistent and sent letter after letter none of which Shen Liangsheng returned. He did, however, continue to play billiards, even setting aside a room for it right next to the study.
Ch’in Ching was wearing a tunic suit today that restricted his movements. The two took off their jackets once in the room and stood beside the table. Shen Liangsheng chalked his cue and took the break shot. His perfect form served as a model for Ch’in Ching.
When it came time for Ch’in Ching to copy, his stick simply refused to listen. The cue ball only managed to skim the target ball before rolling to a sluggish stop.
“Lower your stance.”
Ch’in Ching was about to get up when Shen Liangsheng placed a hand on his waist and reached around with his other to hold Ch’in Ching’s bridge hand.
“Make it flat.”
“What?” Perhaps because the other man was too close, Ch’in Ching felt uncomfortable and did not react in time.
“Flatten your hand.”
Shen Liangsheng pushed down, making his hand spread out under his own –
“And open your fingers.”
And then interlocked their digits.
“Stick close to me.”
Shen Liangsheng led Ch’in Ching by the thumb, bringing both palms to a slight arch until they were in the correct position. Their hands separated for a moment before flanking each other once more. Ch’in Ching felt the stick against the back of his hand, dividing the two left hands. Smooth and cold, it contrasted with the heat from their palms.
“Um, Master Shen, I can’t move the stick with you holding my hand like this, you know.”
The discomfort grew by the minute, so he tried to poke fun at the other man.
“Let’s get the position down first,” Shen Liangsheng replied but did not remove his left hand. Instead, he wrapped his right around and took hold of Ch’in Ching’s right hand. In this way, he had Ch’in Ching encircled in his arms.
“First with the marking and now teaching me billiards,” Ch’in Ching tried to brush it off again. “Say, you must be fond of being a teacher.”
He was uncomfortable all right, but he could not complain.
“And students should listen to their teacher.” Shen Liangsheng appeared to be going along with Ch’in Ching, but there was no hint of humour in his voice. “Relax your arms.”
Ch’in Ching wanted very much to relax, but the way the man stroked upward along his arm and rubbed him over the dress shirt made the feat nearly impossible.
“Spread your legs more.”
Shen Liangsheng had a strong hold around his waist but stepped to the side, sliding his right leg in between Ch’in Ching’s, making them even with his shoulders.
“Head lower, and look straight ahead.”
As he instructed, he lowered himself as if to stare at the tabletop with Ch’in Ching. He was practically lying on top of the thinner man, and his breath hit his ears as he spoke.
“Maybe it’s the alcohol, but I’m seeing double. How about we call it a day and try again next time?” The wish to play billiards was long gone after being pinned down like this, so Ch’in Ching found an excuse to escape.
“And when might that be?”
Shen Liangsheng purposely moved closer to his ear when he asked. Every word entered Ch’in Ching’s ear accompanied by a burning heat that seemed to sneak down from his ear down to his abdomen.
“I…” Ch’in Ching had barely started when he felt the hand clasped on his waist transitioning into a caressing movement. The utterance stopped short as his head seemed to spin and he lost all control.
“Yes?” Shen Liangsheng asked in a whisper, leaning in and pressing Ch’in Ching harder against the table.
If Ch’in Ching had been a bit embarrassed and a bit confused, now he was completely flustered. Shen Liangsheng’s leg was stuck between his, and the man’s crotch was right against his hip – he could feel it.
Ch’in Ching wanted to feign ignorance but the man’s right hand advanced from his waist to his stomach. It began to rub his abdomen provocatively.
“I’m fine. It’s your…” He paused, unable to complete the sentence, and chose a more subtle wording. “You should get some air if you’re not feeling well.”
“But I feel great.” Shen Liangsheng did not stop while he continued talking in circles.
“All right, fine. I don’t feel well.” Ch’in Ching realized subtlety was not the key here. “Your um… You should get off before anything gets out of hand.”
“Why? Is it pressing against you?” Shen Liangsheng asked even more straightforwardly. “Sorry.”
Ch’in Ching didnt think an apology was the point. He struggled a little and wanted to speak when Shen Liangsheng muttered.
“Don’t move.”
He held his tongue.
“Are you angry?” Shen Liangsheng changed to sweet-talk after Ch’in Ching’s silence. “Don’t be upset. Just let me hold you.”
“I…” Ch’in Ching never wanted to fall out over this. Also, he couldn’t help feeling red in the cheeks from hearing the man’s soft, alluring words. He was too scared to investigate the reason and blamed it on the alcohol in the end. He replied quietly, “I really don’t feel well like this.”
“Where?” The next thing he knew, Shen Liangsheng reached down to his member and played with it over his pants. “Does it feel better like this?”
“Don’t.” Ch’in Ching jumped at his private parts being grabbed. He tried to break away but Shen Liangsheng held him down with dead weight.
“You are really skinny.” Shen Liangsheng rubbed his manhood with his right hand and moved his left from the cue stick to his chest. He unfastened one button and reached in, sliding over and toying with his nipples. “I should take you out to dinner more and get more meat on this body.”
Ch’in Ching could no longer comprehend anything he heard. All he could feel was the soothing itch on his chest and the welling pleasure from below. His hard member pushed up at the pant crotch, but his knees were going soft.
“You’re like a girl, getting wet after getting your breasts fondled.”
Ch’in Ching wasnt sure whether to take the man’s words as flirting or shaming. The man easily undid his belt and reached in past the undergarment to stroke his member. Then, he switched to using three fingers to grasp the tip, kneading it between his digits. Although it was Shen Liangsheng’s first time playing with another man’s parts, he didnt feel disgust or anything near it. Rather, he thought it was adorable that the schoolteacher’s manhood dampened his fingers with unquenchable desire.
Ch’in Ching had led an abstinent lifestyle and had seldom done anything to himself, let alone been handled so skillfully by another person. The stimulation was so much that his brains were turning into mush. He wanted to tell the man to stop but was afraid that he might make shameful noises if he opened his lips.
“Do you feel good? Want more?” Shen Liangsheng released his grip as he asked. He flipped Ch’in Ching around and pinned him down on the green baize, the two now face to face. He grinded their groins together. “Want to feel even better? Hmm?”
The stick had long fallen to the side. Without much thought, Ch’in Ching pushed at Shen Liangsheng’s shoulders and took a good look at him. The man’s words of passion were wild and naughty, but his face was cool and his eyes so calm that they were close to being arrogant. If Ch’in Ching had to describe them, they were a pair of rational eyes whose owner knew what he was doing and had the superiority of controlling the situation and, ultimately, the outcome.
“This was your plan all along, wasn’t it, Shen Liangsheng?” Ch’in Ching said flatly, not sounding very angered. “You know, rich men like you usually go a-looking in the troupes when they need a little excitement. But not you, sir. You found yourself a crosstalker. Thinking outside the box, aren’t we.”
Shen Liangsheng got busted and should have gone along with more sweet-talking and lies to get what he wanted. His silence now wasnt because he knew shame. It was only that, for some reason, looking into Ch’in Ching’s eyes and hearing the man’s implied meaning made him hesitant to do so.
“You should’ve at least asked if I wanted to be a part of your game.” Ch’in Ching scoffed. “What were you going to do if I didn’t go along?”
What was he going to do? Use brute force? Shen Liangsheng would be lying if he said he never considered that route. However, he changed his mind at the last minute, wanting to leave another way out. He didnt want to actually break it off with Ch’in Ching.
As he hesitated, his hold on Ch’in Ching lightened, and the latter easily pushed him away. He straightened himself and fixed his dress.
“It’s getting late,” Ch’in Ching began to bid farewell. “I…”
“I’ll drive you home.” Shen Liangsheng finished the sentence in hopes to lessen the awkwardness.
“No, thank you,” Ch’in Ching replied politely but harshly. Shen Liangsheng didn’t want to get on bad terms with the man, but the man gave him little room for alternatives. He went quietly with him back to the study to collect his belongings not attempting to offer him a ride again. He saw the man to the antechamber before wishing him a good night out of obligation, and the two went their separate ways with different thoughts weighing down on their minds.

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A present day ad for yangho.
(Not sure if the bottles look the same as they did in our protagonists' time though).

Before it became known as the Mao suit, the tunic suit that replaced the Manchu robes worn by Chinese civil servants was called Zhongshan suit after Dr. Sun Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen) who helped design it and promoted its use. This photo shows Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong both wearing Zhongshan suit at their historic 1945 meeting in Chongqing.

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Links for more information:
Location of Yühuat’ai in Tianjin
Yangho homepage
Huaiyang cuisine
The Mao suit (tunic suit or zhongshan suit)
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ayszhang says: Hi! It feels like it's been a long time. I want to go back to posting weekly so badly T_T
Anyways! Finally got some action going on. I admit this story is a bit slow when it comes to smut...but trust me the wait is worth it 'cause when it comes it's sooooo sensual and sexy *nose bleed just thinking about it*

Happy belated Thanksgiving :D

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Till Death Do Us Part - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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