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Published at 14th of January 2016 12:27:02 PM

Chapter 14

Every household is busy preparing for the New Year celebrations .   The streets are filled with people who are rushing around,running errands and getting their last minute shopping done . Everyone is looking forward to the family reunion dinner on the last day of the year .  


    Jian Yao's mother is a typical, traditional mom, and a very diligent one .   There’s a lot of cooking and cleaning to be done before New Year’s eve .   Together with Jian Yao and Jian Xian, the three of them worked hard for three whole days .   Finally, everything is ready .


    New Year's Eve .


Since the first firecracker was set off in dawn, the sound of these little explosions has not stopped .   You can hear it all around the city .   And it will keep going until late in the night .   After lunch, the family goes to visit Jian Yao’s grandmother .  


    The extended family gathers .   The adults sit around to chat and enjoy a drink or two . The energetic children playing the backyard .   After dinner, Jian Yao and Jian Xian escape the crowd .   They hide in Grandma’s room and play with their smart phones .  


    New year blessing texts clog Jian Yao’s inbox . She scrolls down the list and notices one from Fu Ziyu: “To the mighty Ms Jian, please allow me to send my greetings and blessings to you on this special day -  May you become more beautiful each day . "


  -  Mighty? Interesting choice of adjective .


    Jian Yao smiles and responds to his text .   She hesitates, then she sends Bo Jinyan a simple “Happy New Year’ message too .


    The sky is dark .   The sound and sight of fire crackers fill the town . Dazzling displays bursting in the sky .


 - I wonder how Bo Jinyan is spending his New Year’s eve . Jian Yao thinks to herself .   Will he spend it like any other day?  Eating his fish quietly, accompanied by Chen Mo .   is Fu Ziyu with him?  But surely, Fu Ziyu needs to spend tonight with his own family .  



   The phone rings . It’s Bo Jinyan .


    They have not been in contact since Jian Yao declined the assistant position . Jian Yao picks up the call: “Hello .   Happy new year . ”


    Bo Jinyan asks: "What are you doing?"


    Jian Yao is baffled: “Uh… Nothing much . ”


    Bo Jinyan: “Then do you want to come over and collect some fireworks? They are of no use to me . ” 


    It must be a gift .   He is not the type to spend money on fireworks . From Fu Ziyu? The police?  


    Jian Yao smiles and says: . "No thank you .   You can enjoy them yourself . "


    Bo Jinyan says coldly: “I have no interest in a bunch of solid that creates  foul smell and bright patterns . ”


    Jian Yao: " . . . . . . Well, my sister and I will come around soon . "



Before receiving Jian Yao’s text, Bo Jinyan was sitting in front of a warm fireplace, wrapped in a thick blanket, reading a book . The TV is turned on, but he is not watching it .


    After he put down the phone, he threw a blanket aside and walked to the storage room .   He took out two full boxes of firework .   They were gifts from Fu Ziyu, Tong City Police Department, Ministry of Public Security Office …… He left them next to the front door .  




        Jian Yao borrows a car from one of her uncles and drives to his house .   As they are driving towards Bo Jinyan’s house . they can see a lot of people standing on either side of the river with their fireworks . The water in the river reflects the colourful fluorescent rays from the displays .  


    Bo Jinyan steps inside his house and see the amount of fireworks on the floor .  


    Jian Yao: “That’s too much for us…"


    Bo Jinyan: “If you don’t take it away, I will throw it into the rubbish bin tomorrow . ”


    Jian Xian quickly opposes: “ That’s too good to be wasted .   And it’s not safe to dispose of firework that way .   Sis, we’ve got to take them all . ”


    Jian Yao looks at Bo Jinyan and asks tentatively: "Can you help us to move it down to the riverbank?”




   More and more people gather around the riverbank .  


    The two sisters are carrying a box in front .   Bo Jinyan is  holding a box walking behind them .   Jian Yao is a little surprised that he is willing to help .  


    The firework Bo Jinyan gave them are premium quality  Before long, they have attracted a lot of  attention, especially young children .   Jian Yao notices that Bo Jinyan has put on his mask, leaving only a pair of slender black eyes to be seen .


 The little children are in awe .   They are clapping their hands and exclaiming: “Too beautiful!”  “Wow, this is so cool!” 


    Jian Yao notices Bo Jinyan is raising his eyebrows .   It’s sign that he is about to make a comment .  


    Before he utters anything, Jian Yao says to him “Please .   Don’t say anything . ” 


  Whatever he will say is likely to destroy the atmosphere .


    Bo Jinyan turns to look at her and keeps quiet .




   Soon, they’ve grown from a group of three to almost twenty people playing fireworks together .  


    One of the boys  proposes to line up rows of fireworks and set them off simultaneously .   Everyone agrees that it’s a good idea . He takes a bunch of fireworks and arranges them in several rows .   A boy standing next to Jian Yao asks her: “Your friend is so ‘cool’ .   Why is he standing so far away?  Is he afraid?”  Everyone laughs .


    Jian Yao smiles and turns around to look at  Bo Jinyan: “ Bo Jinyan, can you come and help light a few fireworks?”




   Twenty fireworks to be lighted up by five people .   Timing is key .   Everyone has to light them together .     Jian Yao and three others start to light the fuses and angles their bodies so they can run away immediately after they are done .  


   But Bo Jinyan is taking his own sweet time . He squats before the fireworks, one hand resting on his knee .   Slowly he lights each fuse one by one with the cigarette lighter that is in his other hand .  


    “Can you please hurry up?!” Jian Yao urges him as they squat down together .


    He lifts his eye to look at her: “Are you nervous?"


    All the fuses are lighted .   Jian Yao and the others runs away from the fireworks .  


    Within a few seconds, the fireworks start to explode .   Bo Jinyan is still amongst the fireworks .   He slowly emerges from the smoke and light .  


He goes up to Jian Yao: “All done . ”  



Jian Yao’s attention is on the fireworks display .   She casually answers: “Thank you for your help . ”


    Jian Yao suddenly remembers something .   She turns around and finds Bo Jinyan walking towards the little kid that commented he was afraid earlier .   As Jian Yao gets closer, she hears him say: ”Hey kid .   Do you think I am afraid of these mixtures of sulphur, charcoal powder and potassium nitrate? in fact, I've dismantled a bomb that is a hundred times the impact of these pathetic toys before…”


    Jian Yao pulls him away, while apologising to the parents: "I'm sorry .   Please ignore him . . . . "




   In less than half an hour, all the fireworks are gone .    Jian Yao’s mother calls to urge the girls to go home soon . So they pack up the rubbish and get ready to go home .  


    Jian Yao turns to Bo Jinyan: “Thanks for the firework .   We need to go . ”  


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    Jian Xian: "Thank you, thank you!"


    Bo Jinyan:”Don’t mention it . Bye . ” He turns to the direction of the villa and walks away .


As he disappears, Jian Xian sighs: “Sister .   It’s New Year's Eve, and he is all alone . I feel sorry for him . "


    Jian Yao looks in his direction for a moment, and smiles: . " . Believe me, he does not feel sorry for himself .   He probably thinks that tonight was noisy and boring"




    Time flies when one is having fun . Jian Yao spends the New Year holidays visiting friends and relatives .   She has not seen Bo Jinyan since New Years’ Eve .


    It is only a few days till she returns to the university .  


    That afternoon, some unexpected guests came to visit Jian Yao .   It’s the security guard Lao Xiao and his son .


    They have come to express their gratitude to Jian Yao .


    Lao Xiao gives her several packages .   They are all produces from his garden .   Jian Yao politely declines but Lao Xiao insists she must accept it as a token of their appreciation .   She finally accepts their gifts .   Jian Yao’s mom invites them to stay for dinner .  


    Jian Yao’s mother is busy cooking in the kitchen .   Jian Xian is playing a board games with the son in her room . Jian Yao, her stepfather and Lao Xiao is chatting in the lounge .   “We owe it all to Professor Bo .   I heard from the police, he’s like a fortune-teller, the bastard is exactly as he had described!”


    Lao Xiao tells Jian Yao what happened yesterday .   They paid Bo Jinyan a visit .   They brought the same presents they gave to Jian Yao today .   But Bo Jinyan didn’t invite them into his villa .   In fact, he didn’t even open the door for them .   He simply talked to them from the inside of the house: “Thank you .   I don’t need the gift .   Goodbye . ”  And when they insisted, he added:”Please don’t bother me anymore . ” 


     . . . . . .


    Lao Xiao sigh: “All I wanted is to thank him for saving my child’s life .   I don’t know how to repay his kindness…”


    Jian Yao’s stepfather, Mr . Xie, says to him: "You do not have to worry .   A lot of experts are somewhat eccentric . . . . "


    Jian Yao nods .


    Jian Yao’s mother walks out from the kitchen: "Jian Yao, Professor Bo lives alone, right?  How about inviting him over for dinner tonight?”


    Jian Yao: “I'll try . Mom, can you please add a steamed fish to tonight’s menu?” 




    Jian Yao didn’t expect Fu Ziyu to answer the phone .   Obviously, he has come to visit Bo Jinyan .


  Fu Ziyu:  “He's shut himself inside a room the whole day . I am not sure what he is up to .   He didn’t take his phone with him . …  go over to your house for dinner?  You are so nice… . Sure… Don’t worry, I’ll drag him out of his cave . "




    They arrive .   Fu Ziyu is carrying a bottle of red wine and a box of lanterns .   Bo Jinyan follows behind him, wearing his usual black suit .


   Jian Yao’s parents are slightly stunned when they met the legendary Professor Bo .   Perhaps they didn’t think he would be so young .


    Everyone is seated .


    Fu Ziyu is a friendly and social character: ”Auntie, Uncle, Lao Xiao (Xiao Senior) , Xiao Xiao (Xiao Junior) !!” He greets everyone as if they are long lost friends .   In contrast, Bo Jinyan is reserved and quiet .   He just nods and says Hello .


    As the head of the family, Mr . Xie speaks first: “We have heard a lot about you .   My friend says it’s not easy to become a professor in America .   You have done well to achieve an associate professor status at your age . ”


    Bo Jinyan says in a flat voice: "In fact, I am good enough for professor level and above, but they refused my application because I am too young . ” 


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    Mr . Xie: " . . . . . . Oh, yes, you are more qualified than we thought!"


    Bo Jinyan smiles: "Thank you . "


    Fu Ziyu gives Jian Yao a "I knew this would happen" look .   Jian Yao smiles .


    After a while, Lao Xiao takes his son, holds up a glass of wine .   He stands and faces Bo Jinyan .   With tears in his eyes, he says: “ Professor Bo,  We will never forget what you have done for us .   Thank you for saving my son . "


    Bo Jinyan replies: "I am just doing my job .   It’s nothing personal .   You don’t have to thank me . ”


    Jian Yao immediately reaches for his glass and shoves it into his hand . Fu Ziyu adds: “Bo Jinyan is so modest .   He doesn’t want you to feel that you owe him anything . . . "


     . . . . . .


    Fu Ziyu is clearly a master at changing the mood .   He casually leads the conversation to a different topic, such as Jian Yao’s new work .  


    “Yes, I will start after the New Year holidays . " Jian Yao smiles .   She is very much looking forward to it .  It is  her first proper full time job .   it’s a new chapter in her life .


    Like all mothers, Jian Yao’s mom is a little concerned for her daughter: “We are not going to be close by to you when you are in B city .   You have to be careful .   Have you found a flat yet?”


    When Fu Ziyu hears this, he raises his eyebrows: “You are looking for a flat? I’m helping Bo Jinyan to find a place in B city, so I can look out for you too . ” He looks at Jian Yao’s mom: “I’ve checked out a few flats already .   They are in a good and safe suburb, close to the city centre .   Any one of them will suit you quite well . ”


    Jian Yao looks at Bo Jinyan .   He is also going to B City?


    As if he’s aware of her doubts, Bo Jinyan says to her: “I’ll be working there . "


    Jian Yao’s mom and step father is very pleased with Fu Ziyu’s offer: “Thank you so much for taking care of our Yao Yao . ”


    Fu Ziyu waves his hand: “Leave it to me .   I’ll make sure she finds a nice place . ”


    Jian Yao is not so sure about this: “Mom, it’s too much hassle for Mr . Fu . ”


    “Just let him help you . ” Bo Jinyan interrupts her . “Looking after people is like a hobby to him . "


    Jian Yao: " . . . . . . oh . "




    The meal ended around nine o’clock .   Lao Xiao probably had a little too much to drink .   His son had to hold on to him when they left .   Shortly after Lao Xiao left, Fu Ziyu and Bo Jinyan went home .


    Jian Yao is washing the dishes in the kitchen .   Her mom is humming away .  


    Jian Yao: " Mom, you are in a good mood . ”


    Mother looks at her: “Yao Yao, I think . . . . . . Fu Ziyu is a good man . "


   - No wonder she encouraged Fu Ziyu to look for a flat for her .   It’s not in her character to trouble others or ask for favours . Jian Yao laughs: “Mom .   There is nothing between us .   We are just friends . ”


    "I know, but you are twenty two years old already, it’s okay to have a boyfriend . Just be friends first .   All relationships start with friendship . ”


    Jian Yao: “Mom . …”


    Mom continues: “Fu Ziyu is a doctor .   He is friendly, charming, responsible and considerate . It’s hard to find good bachelors like him these days…”


    Jian Yao asks: “What about Bo Jinyan? I mean, they came together . Why are you not ‘selling’ him to me?”


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     Her mother pauses and answers: "He is quite a nice young man too . But he is a forensic expert .   He deals with brutal criminals and psychopaths .   It’s a high risk profession .   I was worried for you when you assisted him with the kidnapping case .   All parents are selfish when it comes to the safety of their children .   I would rather you be with someone not belonging in the field of law and order . "


    Jian Yao understands where her mother is coming from .   Losing a husband when she was young is not an experience she wishes her daughter will have to go through too .        




    On the road back to the villa .   They are walking along the riverbank .   Bo Jinyan is strolling leisurely with his hands in his pants pockets .  


    Fu Ziyu’s face is slightly red, probably from all the wine he had tonight .   He tells Bo Jinyan :” I think Jian Yao’s mom likes me .   She wants me as her son-in-law . ” 


    Bo Jinyan takes a glance at him .


    Fu Ziyu sighs and shakes his head: "Unfortunately, Jian Yao is not my cup of tea . I don’t like girls that’s so… . mature . ”


    "Impossible . " Bo Jinyan says to his friend .


    Fu Ziyu knows him too well .   What Bo Jinyan means is that “I am taller, smarter, more handsome, and earns more money than you . . , there is no way Jian Yao’s mother would fancy you over me . This defies basic logic . ”


    He nods: “You have a point, my superior friend . Hey, I have something to show you . . " He pulls out a folded document from his overcoat pocket .


    “When you mentioned you would like to hire Jian Yao to be your assistant, I did the standard background check on her, in accordance with the routine procedures .   This is what I found . "


    Bo Jinyan takes the piece of paper and reads it quickly .  Fu Ziyu:  "Why do you think I offer to help find a flat for her .   I feel a bit sorry for her .   Her father died when she was six years old .   He is the crime investigation vice-captain .   He caught a gang leader and sent him to prison .   When the gang leader was released, he took revenge .   He went to his house .   She and her sister were in the bedroom at the time .   The father locked the door so that the gang members were able to get in and harm the two girls . The police came in time to rescue the girls, but Jian Yao’s grandparents and her father were already dead . ” 








(Note from TB: The author sometimes includes a short story at the end of the chapter . . . )   



    New Year's Day . Fu Ziyu calls Bo Jinyan .


    “Happy new year! How was New Year's Eve?"


    "Normal . "


    "Uh . . . . . . What is that suppose to mean?"


    "I used up the fireworks you gave me . "


    Fu Ziyu is shocked: “With whom?”


    "Jian Yao, Jian Xian, and a bunch of people that I do not know . "


    Fu Ziyu can’t believe what he is hearing .  


    Bo Jinyan: “It's better than staying home to watch the TV . There’s nothing worth watching . ” 





 - Yeah, whatever you say, Mr . Bo .   Fu Ziyu thinks to himself .

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