[Extra #2] Day 327 Mr Chipmunk, will you give your hand in marriage to Mr Grey Squirrel?
The 327th day of knowing He Zhiyuan was Song Ran’s twenty-fourth birthday.
Two cycles of the Chinese zodiac had passed, returning to his animal year, and it was also the first birthday he was spending together with He Zhiyuan and Bubu after meeting them. It could be regarded as a big day with commemorative significance, so they had to go out and eat a magnificent meal.
For this day, He Zhiyuan had taken Song Ran to Maomingnan Road three months in advance to order a handmade suit and have it tailored to his figure. After trying it on and having modifications made several times, they picked up the order without any issues on the day before Song Ran’s birthday. The day they picked it up, Mr He leaned against the counter as he admired Song Ran, who was standing in front of the mirror, with a gentle yet ardent gaze.
Song Ran uneasily asked, “Does it look good?”
He smiled. “It does.”
Truly, what a good-looking sight.
Persuading Song Ran to put on a suit was no easy task. This young man had grown accustomed to a simple style; on ordinary days, his favourite outfit was a baggy T-shirt and loose shorts. Although Song Ran showed an admiring expression towards the row of suits with their varied materials, styles, and colours in the closet while tidying it up, he politely declined when He Zhiyuan mentioned taking him to buy some.
“I stay at home every day and there aren’t many occasions for me to wear a suit, so it’d be better to not waste money.”
That was what he said.
So, taking advantage of the rare opportunity that Song Ran’s birthday presented, He Zhiyuan paid a visit to a tailor he knew well and ordered a three-piece suit for Song Ran.
Looking at his radiant reflection in the mirror, Song Ran felt a sense of surprise at his new self.
The collar was crisp, the shoulder seams fit snugly, and it lay flat on his back without any creases. The drape of the wool was so good that he couldn’t find the slightest flaw, and the armholes were cut to a fitting place, giving him the maximum amount of room for movement while maintaining the pattern.
He repeatedly stroked the snow-white shirt cuffs, thinking that he was like a noble young master whose qualities weren’t much inferior to Mr He’s.
“I’ve said that I wanted to take you ages ago, but you were stubbornly against it.” He Zhiyuan walked over and stood in front of him, then reached out and stroked the crisp shirt collar. He said with a smile, “When the weather gets warmer, we’ll come again to have a summer suit made. You aren’t allowed to object next time, got it?”
His Song Ran naturally had a model’s physique; he ought to have some more suits made and wear them in turns.
Even if it was only at home and only worn for him alone to see.
On the day of Song Ran’s birthday, Bubu had changed into a small suit as well, even doing his hair and putting on a little bow tie.
He turned the left half of his body towards the mirror, then turned the right half of his body towards the mirror. Thinking that he looked terribly handsome, he hurried to ask his dad if he could wear it to kindergarten tomorrow. He Zhiyuan and Song Ran both smiled as they looked at each other and simultaneously replied, “No way.”
The wind was taken out of Bubu’s sails in a second, and he left in a huff to complain to the cats.
He Zhiyuan was wearing a relatively formal light grey three-piece suit today, and Song Ran chose a chequered wool tie of the same hue and tied it for him. Throughout the entire process, He Zhiyuan examined him with a scorching gaze, which made him feel somewhat uneasy.
“What are you up to? Are you thinking of doing something again?”
Song Ran glared at him and forcefully tightened the tie, nearly strangling Mr He.
Mr He coughed twice, then loosened and adjusted the tie. Lowering his voice, he asked, “I was thinking, could you… let me take off your clothes tonight?”
Song Ran was baffled. “Aren’t you always in charge of taking them off?”
“What I mean is…” He Zhiyuan whispered, “including the jacket, necktie, and vest this time.”
Very nice, engaging in suits play. How increasingly shameless.
Although Song Ran internally scolded the other man for being shameless, a blush appeared on his face and he said in a small voice, “O… okay.”
As a result, Mr He slowly swept his fingertips over Song Ran’s neck and undid the collar button, bowing his head to leave a love bite on Song Ran’s collarbone before retying the necktie and doing the button back up like he had hidden a flirtatious promise.
Dinner had been booked at a well-established French restaurant that was located in a concession1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concessions_in_China building with a hundred-year history on the riverbank. It had a weighty old revolving door made from solid wood and a slightly cramped foyer; although it was not as spacious as the newly-built buildings on the opposite bank, it had a distinctive flavour.
The elevator went straight up to the twelfth floor. Upon entering, there was a passageway displaying wines along its length that twinkled with tiny lights, then a clean open-style kitchen, and a dining area beyond that—the space was not large, and there were only ten tables.
The place He Zhiyuan booked was next to the window, where they could overlook the colourful view of the river.
Arranged upon the table were three sets of tableware, three menus, and a small porcelain vase holding a beautiful bright red rose.
The three of them spent ten minutes ordering food, after which the waiter took away their menus and served the soup, hors d’oeuvres, and warm bread with butter. Bubu began to eat by himself; as he ate, he looked at the cruise ships on the river, the buildings on the opposite bank, and the staff cooking in the kitchen.
“Actually, we’ve… we’ve known each other for quite some time,” Song Ran said. “This year’s April 3rd will mark exactly one whole year.”
He Zhiyuan nodded, feeling rather melancholy. “Time passes by so quickly. On this day last year, I didn’t know you yet.”
“You didn’t know me, but I already knew you.”
Song Ran gave him a small smile.
He Zhiyuan reached out and covered Song Ran’s hand with his own on the table. “I’ve made you wait for a long time.”
Song Ran shook his head. “That’s all right. Something like fate, no matter if it’s early or late, will always come. Even if it didn’t come on the first day, the April 3rd that followed still came.”
“Right, it’ll always come.”
“However, I sometimes think of what-ifs too. You see, you lived across the hall from me, but I looked for you for more than forty days and didn’t find you. Does that mean our affinity is still a bit lacking? If your family’s nanny hadn’t gone on leave that day and Bubu had been in her care, perhaps we still wouldn’t know each other now and I would’ve already moved to some other place…”
He Zhiyuan furrowed his brow and tightened his grip on Song Ran’s hand. “Song Ran, there’s no such thing.”
“Right, right, there isn’t!” Bubu, who was listening to them, swiftly chimed in. “I’d come knock on your door to borrow books, so that way Big Brother would get to know me and also get to know Dada!”
“Mm, that makes sense.” Song Ran smiled in an easygoing manner. “Then let’s not talk about this anymore and talk about something happier instead.”
Before they had talked for very long, the main courses were served. They casually exchanged food with each other; Bubu, who wanted to sample every dish, would seize a bit of the seafood and meat before taking two token bites of vegetables to show that he was giving equal treatment to all. Very soon, his little stomach bulged.
While they were taking a break halfway through, Song Ran looked around with his chin resting in his hands and discovered something rather interesting.
“Everyone else’s tables are decorated with carnations, while only ours has a rose.” Song Ran happily pulled out the rose for a closer look—with petals that were dewy, slightly curled, and bright in colour, it was so fresh that it looked as if it had just been cut from a flower bed. “Zhiyuan, are we particularly lucky today? Even the flower is more beautiful than the ones on the other tables.”
“Is that so? Let me see.”
Maintaining his composure, He Zhiyuan held out a hand.
Song Ran handed him the flower and was just about to teasingly say “It’s a real flower” when he saw the other man push the chair back and stand up, rose in hand.
Wh-what was he doing?
Song Ran’s smile froze on his face, and he immediately looked very confused.
Then he watched, wide-eyed, as He Zhiyuan walked up to him, held up the rose, and got down on one knee. In an instant, all eyes within the restaurant—including those of the guests, waitstaff, and chefs—landed on them.
Song Ran went into a daze from fright; the muscles in his limbs tensed up, rendering him practically unable to move.
“He Zhiyuan, what… what are you doing? Get up quick, get up!” he quietly urged, feeling completely nonplussed. Upon seeing that He Zhiyuan had not the slightest intention of getting up, he could only turn to Bubu in a panic and ask for help. “Darling, hurry and have your dad get up.”
Bubu nimbly jumped out of his chair and ran over to He Zhiyuan but didn’t tell him to get up; instead, he magically dug out a big pinecone from his pants pocket. “Dada, here!”
The father-son pair coordinated well to execute a beautiful combination skill.
He Zhiyuan accepted the plump pinecone and held it up to Song Ran together with the red rose.
“Song Ran, Bubu told me that The Chipmunk’s Dream was the first story you told him. In the story, the chipmunk was constantly looking for the world’s biggest pinecone. In the end, it was the grey squirrel who gave its own pinecone to the chipmunk.” He Zhiyuan tilted his head back, the expression in his eyes loving and sincere. “Dear Mr Chipmunk, Mr Grey Squirrel wants to give his pinecone to you now to serve as your birthday gift. Are you willing to give your hand in marriage to him?”
Song Ran stared blankly at that pinecone, his lips pressed together and his eyes instantly wet.
How could he not be willing?
This was clearly… clearly the world’s biggest pinecone.
The interior of the restaurant was unusually quiet, for nobody made any noise. The air gently flowed between them as they patiently waited along with He Zhiyuan for the answer.
“I-I am.” Song Ran forcefully nodded. “Mr Grey Squirrel, I am!”
Bubu began to shout, then jumped three feet high in joy. After landing on the ground, he clapped furiously along with everyone else to the point where his little hands hurt.
He Zhiyuan showed a relieved smile, then held the rose in his mouth by the stem and opened the pinecone in his hand.
Within the pinecone lay a ring.
He put the rose aside, took out the ring, and gently asked, “I’ll put it on for you, okay?”
Song Ran couldn’t say a word.
He nodded, held out his hand, and watched as the silvery ring was slowly pushed to the base of his finger. At last, he could no longer hold back his tears; they rolled down his face one after another like raindrops.
On the night of his twenty-fourth birthday, the long-time wanderer Mr Chipmunk gave his hand in marriage to the gentle Mr Grey Squirrel. He had received the most affectionate partner, the cutest child, the warmest home, and a pinecone that was not only the largest in the world but also one that he would never be able to finish eating in his entire life.