Friday, February 19, 2016

Till Death Do Us Part - ch14

Translator: ayszhang
Proofreader: happyBuddha, Marcia
Till Death Do Us Part chapter 14!


Although the Republic had implemented the Gregorian calendar since establishment and set the first of January as New Year’s Day, the year did not end for the people until the traditional date came and went. Only then did a new Wong Lik replace the old.
Shen Liangsheng was going to spend New Year’s Eve at his father’s for a year-end reunion dinner. Ch’in Ching had his own plans, too – since his parents passed away, he had spent the last day of the year at the Lius’ and this year was not going to be any different – so the two met once on the twenty-seventh before going off to their own business.
Shen Liangsheng returned to his father’s mansion in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve. A servant took his coat and hat when he entered and informed him, “The master is in the shrine. He asks that you see him there.”
Shen Liangsheng nodded and headed for the shrine. He knocked and entered after he heard Shen K’echen’s permission. Immediately, he was bombarded with the thick and slightly stinging smell of incense.
Perhaps Shen K’echen realized his earlier sins and grew to treasure his life in his later years. He knew of the capabilities of his younger son and saw in him an heir to his own legacy. Thus he gradually let go of the reins. He took on the attitude of a devout Buddhist so that he could avoid any bad karma and live a few more years.
It goes without saying that Shen Liangsheng did not believe in this sort of thing, but in order to please his father, he greeted him with much respect and only sat down for a chat after making an offering of incense to the Buddha.

Shen K’echen was in his late-sixties but did not put on much weight like most others his age, and he was in good spirits because of good care for his body. Initially, he hadn’t thought highly of Shen Liangsheng – mostly due to bloodline ideals, for keeping a lover and raising a son were two different matters – and had let his wife banished the boy to a faraway place in the name of giving him a good education. Now, however, this boy was the only hope for the Shen legacy to carry on, so he had to abandon his “purist” beliefs and act as the loving father regardless of whether it was too little too late.
Luckily, the Caucasian blood in Shen Liangsheng was not very apparent. He mostly took after his mother’s complexion, but there were definitely ghosts of Shen K’echen in him. This made the older man content, and together with the intention to make up for his wrongdoings, it was clear that the kindness that he had displayed for the past few years was indeed sincere.
The father and son first talked about current politics and business, from their own textile factory to the recent actions by the Japanese in the Tientsin Chamber of Commerce. They listed all the companies that had established relations with the so-called “Hsingchung” Company and with the Japanese zaibatsu, headed by the Oriental Development Company. Then, they analyzed the state of affairs for the upcoming year, and only then did Shen K’echen start hesitantly, “Well, from what I see….”
But he never finished the sentence. What Shen K’echen was thinking was that working with the Japanese was going to be inevitable if they wanted to keep the money flowing in. He wanted to drop a few hints for his son but was wary of his choice of words. His courage had been decreasing as he aged and since he converted to Buddhism – the bodhisattva was looking from the altar, after all, and he didn’t want his traitorous intent to come around and bite him from behind.
“Rest assured.” Shen Liangsheng knew all too well what the older man was thinking and took the initiative. “I’ll see and act accordingly.”
Shen K’echen was delighted that his son was so observant and nodded with approval. “I never worry when it comes to you.” Then, the focus shifted to Shen Liangsheng’s private matters. “That reminds me, I heard that you’ve been spending time with Wang’s little girl.”
“Miss Wang is an intriguing character.” Although the two were as far from romance as can be, Shen Liangsheng did not make it clear and only replied superficially.
“I’ve seen that girl before. Nice-looking girl, she is.” Shen K’echen drank his tea with a smile. “Lively one, too. Makes up for what you lack.”
“You’re turning twenty-seven this year. It’s about time to settle down….” Shen K’echen put the cup down and looked up at his son. “But then again, I was the same when I was your age. I’m just saying that games are only games. Best not let them get in the way of matters at hand.”

Shen Liangsheng’s own servants were not related to his father’s in any way, but a few deliveries back and forth between the two residences and some gossip-loving soul was bound to let something slip through their lips. His father more or less picked up something about a new “friend” and thought it was someone from the opera houses. He didn’t pay much attention to it, not even bothering to ask for the name of this “friend.” He had once been the playboy too, and had played with actors and such. He merely wanted to warn his son; he didn’t care about his games, but they shouldn’t get in the way of his life.
And Shen Liangsheng understood this, but he also could tell that his father did not think much of this. Otherwise, the older man would not have gone over the subject so carelessly. So he just nodded and put on a facade of nonchalance.
“Anyways, I trust you completely,” his father emphasized once more before sighing, “Unlike that brother of yours….”
Then, he faded into silence, thinking it was karma. This piece of shit elder son was sent by karma to get him back.

Shen Liangsheng had comforted his old man half-heartedly when there was a light knock on the door. A servant announced the arrival of Shen K’echen’s elder son and daughter-in-law.
“Master, the young master and mistress have arrived.”
Shen Liangsheng’s brother was nearly ten years older than him. He and his former wife were supposed to have a baby girl, but the little one had died when she was still in her diapers. This led to the missus developing depression and then eventually passing away.
With his elder son never ceasing to cause him trouble, Shen K’echen had to spend more time and effort on him. He picked out another appropriate marriage for him, but sadly, after eight years, the new couple still had no children. It was more than likely that the relationship was nothing more than a title to save face for both families.
Despite his son’s many failures, Shen K’echen did not want to ruin the merry mood for the holidays. While they were waiting for dinner, the family of four sat down and played a game of mah-jong, quite peacefully if one must say. The woman’s maiden name was Li Wan-hsien, but it fit neither her appearance nor personality. If one were to say, she would definitely be labeled a clever and stingy woman. A divorce was unlikely, but the two were leading separate lives and even kept different chequebooks.
As they sat at the mah-jong table, Shen Liangsheng eyed her lavish fashion and was almost blinded by the lamplight dancing off of the diamond ring on her finger. On the other hand, his brother did not even seem to make an effort to dress properly for New Year. His suit was a bit old, and the collar had not even been ironed flat. It was obvious that he was not only a ne’er-do-well, but he received no respect at home, either.
Shen Liangsheng sat across from his brother in the game and shot a dismissive glance at him. The elder brother had noticed and looked right back at the younger man.
Their eyes engaged, and it was the elder who backed down by cracking a smile. He knew his brother looked down on him but dared not oppose him. Interestingly, he still remembered the young Shen Liangsheng who had a doll-like face and rarely spoke or laughed. The boy would sit there in his lap and not cry no matter how much he pinched his cheeks for amusement.
Sadly, those days were long gone. Now, he could not beat him. The only thing he could do was to lick his boots, but he didn’t even know how to start doing that. His brother truly had struck fear into his heart.

After the family dinner, Shen Liangsheng’s brother timidly requested a talk in the study with his old man, most likely about money. This left Shen Liangsheng in the living room with his sister-in-law with no conversation between them.
Li Wan-hsien sat decorously on the couch shelling peanuts with her rouge-painted fingers. She peeled the layers off with care, completely ignoring Shen Liangsheng. She loathed this fake marriage that felt like a prison sentence and despised each and every member of the Shen family.
Shen Liangsheng did not try to initiate small talk with her either and flipped through the newspaper. Then, he frowned and looked towards the study.
Li Wan-hsien heard the noise, too, that sounded like an argument. Her lips curved up in a smirk, and she looked as if she were getting ready to watch a show.
“Out! Get out of my sight! All o’ you!” The door to the study finally banged open and played a boisterous concert with Shen K’echen’s bellows.
Li Wan-hsien had no interest in viewing the rest. She stood up brushing off the flakes of peanut shell as she asked the servants to retrieve her coat, following her father-in-law’s orders to the letter.
That left the innocent Shen Liangsheng, but he couldn’t be bothered to cheer his father up. The man had a terrible temper that, once triggered, no one could mollify, and he was not about to attempt that. He just sat in his seat until his brother scuttled out to the living room. Then he got up and offered casually, “Sister already left with the chauffeur. How about I give you a ride?”
The man sighed after a moment of thought and nodded weakly.
It was truly strange that he had the guts to argue with Shen K’echen but not with Shen Liangsheng. It was clear that he would not have had resorted to this if Shen Liangsheng had remained abroad, but he hadn’t the nerve to protest. Then, eventually, he lost the nerve to be angry, too.

Shen Liangsheng had driven his own car tonight. The two brothers got in and drove for a while in silence. Shen Liangsheng reached for a cigarette, and just as he stuck it between his lips, his brother held out the lighter for him.
In the lighter’s luminance, he caught a glimpse at his older brother. Shen K’echen and Mrs. Shen were good-looking people, and their son took after them despite his failure at life. Although he was in his thirties and still had not accomplished much, he was a handsome fellow. One really could say fair without, foul within.
Shen Liangsheng knew why his brother was sucking up to him now and found his efforts to appear small and pitiful rather comedic. He spoke after a short silence. “Drop by my office after the holidays. I’ll write you a cheque.”
“I knew I could count on you, Ah-Liang.” Perhaps the shameless gene ran in the family; the older man cracked a beaming grin and continued good-naturedly, “Ah-Liang, did you lose weight?”
Shen Liangsheng frowned with the cigarette between his lips. He hated being called by his nickname, so he did not reply.
It was past ten o’clock by the time he returned home. Most of the servants had gone home for the holiday leaving the manor deserted and deprived of the season’s spirit.
Shen Liangsheng did not have the tradition of welcoming the traditional New Year. He bathed and went to bed but could not find sleep yet. He recalled the conversation with his father and considered sorting out the staff in his manor after the holiday.

Shen Liangsheng held the executive power to the Shen family business, but the properties and stocks were still under his father’s name. Shen Liangsheng’s original plan was to take it as it came, but now under these promising circumstances he wouldn’t rest easy until he had amassed it all for himself.
Shen Liangsheng would not act outrightly against his father for the sake of his will, so marriage was a certainty. It might even be as soon as this year. The day of engagement would also be the day he and Ch’in Ching went their separate ways.
Considering this, he didn’t feel much sadness – one must lose in order to gain. When one side of the scale weighed heavier than the other, he must let go of the latter. He knew this rule better than anyone and could always let go without hesitation.
He also knew he couldn’t sell the cow and drink the milk, but he did feel that time was fleeting. He had lived in the same city as him for four years, but alas, their meeting proved too late.
With that in mind, he shot up and sat in the dark for a bit before getting dressed once more and driving to Nanshih.

Ch’in Ching ate dinner at the Lius’ and then welcomed the New Year and ate dumplings in celebration. Then, after the fireworks, he teetered back to his house half-drunk. He fired up the furnace and left a small window open for circulation before getting ready for bed.
He was making the bed when he heard a knock on the gate outside. He paused, thinking he had misheard, but the repeated knocks confirmed his suspicion. For some reason, he guessed that it was Shen Liangsheng, and he ran to open the gates with a pounding heart.
“It’s late already, you should at least ask before you open.” Displeased at the careless behaviour, Shen Liangsheng started with a scolding instead of explaining why he had shown up.
“Happy New Year, Master Shen.” Completely ignoring the reprimand, Ch’in Ching leaned in with a grin and planted a loud smacker on the man’s cheek.
“I think you’re the Dog here.” Seeing the schoolmaster running to him like his very own puppy, Shen Liangsheng’s mood took a turn for the better, and he swept the man off his feet and into his arms. He did not forget to evaluate as he carried him into the house. “Seems like all the food we’ve been feeding you has been going to waste. Tell me, when are you going to get fat enough to sell at the market?”
“Hmm…a few more days, I suppose.” Ch’in Ching returned the banter after he landed on solid ground indoors. “But I won’t sell for much anyway, so just keep me for good. Don’t be so stingy.”
“Did you have a lot to drink?” Shen Liangsheng guessed from the giggles and red cheeks.
“Oh boy, did I ever?” Ch’in Ching was wordy when he was drunk and began to complain to the other man. “You know my godmother. My goodness, can that lady drink. She downs erhkuot’ou like it was juice. Then after dinner, she made me drink with her when we had dumplings, said something like ‘drinking and dumpling is the best coupling.’ As if that was….”
Shen Liangsheng found the incoherent mumbling quite entertaining and interrupted it with a kiss.
“Did you miss me, baby?” His words were muffled by the kiss.
“Uh-huh.” Another thing the schoolmaster did when he was drunk was to be extremely naughty. He nearly hung himself on the other man while murmuring against his lips, “Missed my dear Shen-keke­ lots and lots.”
That was a blatant lie because he had been busier than a bee the past few days cleaning his own house and the Lius’ house and purchasing all the festive foods and drinks for the celebration. There was no time for him to miss Shen Liangsheng, but now that the man was here, he did feel like he had missed the man – or perhaps it was because he wished he had spent the holiday with him instead.
“You adorable lil devil.” The drunken man’s words succeeded in coaxing Shen Liangsheng’s desires into roaring flames. The taller man caught him in a frantic kiss, and when Ch’in Ching began reciprocating just as fervently, their hands worked together to strip each other naked before they both tumbled onto the bed.

Ch’in Ching had left only the bedside lamp on since he was getting ready for bed. The warm yellow light lit up a small circle in the room.
Shen Liangsheng was on top and pulled the quilt loose to cover their naked bodies. Their skin rubbed against each other beneath the dark, warm shelter while their faces fell under the shine of the small patch of light as they shared feathery kisses.
Ch’in Ching let out a moan as he realized this was the first time they were doing it at his house, and his face became even redder. Perhaps it was because everything in this house, the table and the chairs, the bed and the sheets, were all familiar. Fooling around in the place in which he had grown up made him feel very self-conscious.
“You feel good?” Shen Liangsheng was playing with his nipples underneath the covers. Seeing the needy man writhing beneath him, he was already fully aroused but felt compelled to interrupt, “How am I supposed to get inside when you’ve nothing at home?”
Ch’in Ching did not respond but Shen Liangsheng did not let it go. He asked in his ear, “Didn’t you say you touch yourself while thinking of me? How do you do it? Hmm?”
And when the man did not reply, he urged.
“Touch yourself for me.”

Shen Liangsheng drew back and pulled the man’s legs apart.
“Spread your legs.
“Now, hold it open yourself.”
Ch’in Ching did as commanded, exposing everything for the other man to see. He began stroking his own erection with his right hand while his left clutched the sheets tightly. Being scrutinized by those eyes, in a place he called home, he was hit by the sensations stronger than ever. His entire shaft was aching like crazy.
Shen Liangsheng observed for a minute or two before hinting, “What about here?”
“When you do this again,” He grabbed Ch’in Ching’s left hand and brought it to his own lips. He licked the fingers thoroughly before guiding the man’s hips up and sliding the moist digits into the entrance. “Don’t forget about this.”
Ch’in Ching’s breath had hitched when the taller man was sucking on his fingers, and he had even stopped masturbating. The image was far too provocative for him, and he almost wanted to come right then and there.

It was past twelve o’clock, and the only sound in this silent night was the sporadic moans coming from this room. Under the man’s continuous gaze, he stroked his member and pumped his fingers inside his hole at the same time. Eventually, he reached his limit. “I can’t…I wanna….”
“Come for me. I’m watching.”
Shen Liangsheng was rock hard himself, but he refrained from touching it. He only stared at the schoolmaster’s swollen member and watched it jump by itself as cum shot out of the slit. He waited for the end of the orgasm before dipping down and licking off the milk that was left on the head.
“Ah!” Ch’in Ching cried out from the stimulation on his still sensitive member.
Shen Liangsheng gathered all of his cum and used it to join the man’s own fingers in widening the entrance. After feeling that it had loosened up, he pulled out and patted his butt lightly. “Ride me.”

“I hate you, Shen Liangsheng.” Ch’in Ching understood – the man wanted nothing but to see him fuck himself on his dick – but he mumbled his protest and still climbed over the man. He knelt above the man and guided his manhood to his own entrance before sitting down, impaling himself on the hard length.
“Does it hurt?”
“Not too bad….”
Shen Liangsheng was actually looking out for him. The lubricant was inadequate, and this position was easier and less likely to be painful for the receiving partner.
“Start moving then if it doesn’t.” Shen Liangsheng caressed the man’s waistline with one hand and toyed with his nipple with the other.
With his arms around the taller man’s neck, the red-faced Ch’in Ching rolled his hips warily. He sped up after the discomfort disappeared and secretly tried to locate that one spot inside him with the burning shaft like the man had done the countless times before. When he found it, he felt his strength abandon him and the legs straddling Shen Liangsheng began to tremble.
“Feeling better now?” Shen Liangsheng knew that the man was beginning to enjoy himself, evident from the member between his legs hardening once again. He patted his head lightly. “You little liar, you love this. Why do you say you hate me?”
By now, there was no need for Ch’in Ching to be shy, so he leaned into Shen Liangsheng’s ear and whispered, “’Cause you’re too big.”
The taller man had been holding back, but this proved to be the last straw. He ended up cursing in English as he thrust his hips up, practically slamming himself into the man, over and over again. Seeing the man arch his neck back in ecstasy, he started sucking on the Adam’s apple bobbing up and down and left rosy love bites on it.
“Oh, do you really now? I thought bigger the better?”
“Mmm, I don’t…hate…ah….”
“Say you love it.”
“I, ah, lo…love it.”

Their words of affection and moans of pleasure echoed in the room. They tried every possible position on the bed, but it was not enough. Shen Liangsheng dragged Ch’in Ching off and stood him in front of the wardrobe mirror before going to turn on the light. Then, he pushed back into the man from behind, pumping furiously.
“T-turn it…turn it off…the neighbours’ll….”
“They’re all asleep. No one’s looking.”
Shen Liangsheng was absolutely right. It was two or three in the morning; the only ones still up and about were these two.
Ch’in Ching already had come twice, and he only managed to stay standing because the other man was holding him up by the waist. Under the bright lights, he saw himself in the mirror being fucked until climax once again. The two strings of cum dripping lazily along his length and the glaring red spots on his neck were like permanent markings that, along with the house, were recordings of all the wild passion between the two of them.

Shen Liangsheng did not wake up until almost eleven o’clock the next morning due to the late bedtime the previous night. Ch’in Ching was still asleep with his head resting on his chest. The gentle puffs of air against his skin aroused a tender sentiment in him.
Shen Liangsheng lay quietly under an old-fashioned cotton quilt. It was heavy and not as warm as the imported down quilts, but it felt more down-to-earth.
He stared at the first rays of the brand new year as they crept in over the window sill. He closed his eyes after a while and the sun became a round glowing spot in the back of his eyelids that then broke into a thousand dots, dancing around like tiny flies.
In that moment, he had to admit he felt guilty – he was bound to leave him one day, and he felt sorry for that.
But what use was his regret? It would just be ironic.

“Ch’in Ching, Ch’in-hsiung, you awake?”
Shen Liangsheng thought the voice coming from outside sounded like Hsiao-Liu and quickly pushed his feelings away. He nudged Ch’in Ching as he rummaged for their clothes. “Hey, get up.”
Ch’in Ching had been minutes away from stirring, and Hsiao-Liu’s loud voice and Shen Liangsheng’s prod immediately woke him up. He quickly shouted back, “Not yet. Hold on a minute.”
The problem was that the two of them had completely forgotten about locking the gates last night when they were fooling around. Hsiao-Liu was a frequent visitor too and entered the yard without the owner’s permission. He began protesting outside the house.
“Jesus, hurry up. It’s so cold my nose is about to fall off.
“C’mon, I’ve known you for all your life, seen you in your birthday suit a gazillion times, all right? Wouldn’t wanna see it even if you paid me.
“Now, could you please explain to me why you didn’t lock your gate and your door? Are you not afraid of…of burglars….”
Unable to stand the cold, Hsiao-Liu had twisted the doorknob to find it unlocked and invited himself in. Meanwhile, Ch’in Ching and Shen Liangsheng had managed to get more or less dressed but had not gotten around to tidying the bed yet. The schoolmaster wanted to tell his friend outside not to come in but could not think of an excuse. In the moment of hesitation, Hsiao-Liu already had come in past the entrance and seen all that there was to see. He would have to be brainless not to understand the current situation.
“I’m, uh, I’m gonna head back now. I’ll come by later.” This was the first time that Hsiao-Liu did not address the businessman politely as Young Master Shen. After his stilted utterance, he turned right around and saw himself out, leaving everyone present a way out.
“I think I’ll go, too.” Shen Liangsheng frankly was not bothered by this, but he knew he would only add to the trouble if he stayed any longer. Before taking his leave, he reached out to touch the schoolmaster’s head, but the other man turned away unknowingly.
Shen Liangsheng’s hand was stuck in midair for a moment before he retracted it and added, “I’m going to be busy with New Year stuff for a few days, but I’ll come by on Sunday afternoon.”
“Yeah.” Ch’in Ching had a lot running through his mind in the moment and did not realize he had avoided the other man. He did not comprehend what he had said, either, and answered half-heartedly.
“I’m here if you need anything.”
Shen Liangsheng couldn’t find anything else to say and heaved a rare sigh. He wanted to give him a hug but was afraid the man would evade him again. He did not find any pleasure in a forced hug, so he just left it at that.

There was one thing, however, and that was that he would not split with Ch’in Ching because of this, not even if Ch’in Ching wanted to.
Just moments ago, he had felt guilty that he would one day have to leave the man, but now he was being unreasonable. His irrational decision was that Ch’in Ching could not leave him because of someone, or something, else before that day came.
He simply would not allow it.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 Many families either have a separate room or dedicate a corner to enshrine ancestors or deities.

An illustration of socialite women playing mahjong in Shanghai.

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For more information:

Chinese New Year (and on the days leading up to and after)
Reunion dinner and related customs
The Wong Lik/Tung Shing wiki & 
Huangli (Huangli/Wonglik is common name for Tung Shing)
North China Buffer State Strategy (Tientsin Chamber of Commerce was a puppet organization used by the Japanese in these events)
North China Development, the mother company of Hsingchung Company (chapters 1 and 2, note the mentioning of textile companies)
Oriental Development Company


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ayszhang: The research for this chapter's notes and reading material reminded me of the war crimes of Japan against China and Korea, and in turn made me a bit depressed.

On another note, we need proofreaders! If you've received formal education in English or are adept at prescriptive grammar and would like to help out, please don't hesitate to send Dairytea an email at chinesebl(at) Thank you!

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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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