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.”
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.”
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?”
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 unable 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?"
"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.