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“I’ll get straight to it,” Jiang Cheng says, after the waiter finishes serving up their dishes. They’ve already very narrowly avoided his parents starting yet another argument while they were ordering. There’s no point in dragging this conversation out. “I’m planning to get married.”

Yu Ziyuan looks up from where she was scrutinising the laziji with a frown. Her lips curl into a pleased smile. “I knew that Gu girl would eventually catch your eye.”

Jiang Cheng doesn’t sigh, but it’s a damn near thing.

Gu Jing has been invited to three of their family dinners in a row, and no doubt would have been invited to this dinner if Jiang Cheng hadn’t preempted his mother’s scheming by ambushing his parents at the company just as they were leaving for the day.

“To Jingyi,” Jiang Cheng clarifies. “I’m getting married to Jingyi.”

“No, I do not approve,” Yu Ziyuan says easily. She spares a moment to glance at Jiang Fengmian. “We do not approve.”

“I wasn’t asking for your permission,” Jiang Cheng tells her.

“He’s half your age,” Yu Ziyuan hisses. “What will people say?”

Nothing now, probably, considering Jiang Cheng has been dating Lan Jingyi for the last three years. He’s never made a point of hiding that fact, and any novelty people get out of gossiping about their relationship has long since worn off.

Out loud, because Lan Jingyi has really been rubbing off on him, he chooses to say, “Two thirds.”

“What?”

“Two thirds,” Jiang Cheng repeats. “He’s twenty-six.”

“Have some shame,” Jiang Fengmian finally decides to say. “Your mother is right. People will talk.”

His mother was caught leaving a hotel with Wen Zhuliu just three weeks ago.

His sister’s face was plastered across all tabloids for a good two months when Jin Zixuan broke their engagement.

His brother literally came back to life after being presumed dead .

People are always talking about the Jiangs, but it’s Jiang Cheng marrying Lan Jingyi that his father is worried will get people talking about the family?

He tries not to be bitter about the fact, he really does, but he can’t help feeling outraged on Lan Jingyi’s behalf. If anything, Lan Jingyi can do so much better than Jiang Cheng. The fact that he’s decided to be with Jiang Cheng, to love Jiang Cheng, is already a miracle. Jiang Cheng’s parents should be lighting incense to their ancestors to thank them for Jiang Cheng’s good fortune.

“I wasn’t aware we were the kind of family that was afraid of people talking behind our backs,” Jiang Cheng says.

Yu Ziyuan opens her mouth, no doubt to start attacking Lan Jingyi again.

Jiang Cheng holds up his hand to preempt that. “I wasn’t asking for permission,” he says again. The sigh that has been lodged in his throat finally escapes. “I’m not looking for your blessings or advice, ma. I just- Jiejie thought it would be better, if you heard it from me, instead of elsewhere. That’s the only reason why I’m telling you.”

“A-Cheng, you-”

Jiang Cheng doesn’t let her start. “I love him, and I’m going to marry him. He’s been good to me. Good for me. I’ve never been so happy in my life, ever. I’d be a fool not to marry him,” he tells his parents, and then stands. “I’ve said what I wanted to say. I won’t kill your appetites any longer.”

He hears Jiang Fengmian call out to him as he leaves the restaurant, but he doesn’t turn back.

Huh. Perhaps he really has matured with age.

--

Lan Jingyi barrels into his arms the moment Jiang Cheng closes the front door behind him.

Jiang Cheng huffs out a soft laugh. “One of these days, you’re going to knock the breath out of me, and then what?”

“Then I’ll kiss it back into you,” Lan Jingyi tells him matter-of-factly, and then presses a loud, smacking kiss to Jiang Cheng’s lips. “Are you alright?”

Jiang Cheng nods, but Lan Jingyi must be able to read something off his expression, because Lan Jingyi frowns, and kisses Jiang Cheng again, softer and sweeter this time.

“I really fucking hate it when you go see them,” Lan Jingyi tells Jiang Cheng quietly, when he pulls away. He reaches up to smoothen out the furrow between Jiang Cheng’s brows. “Look what they’ve done to you.”

Jiang Cheng wraps his arms around Lan Jingyi’s waist. “They’re still my parents, Jingyi.”

“I know,” Lan Jingyi sighs. “I can be grateful to them for bringing you into this world, and also be pissed off that they don’t realise that their son is the best person in the world. I contain multitudes.”

Jiang Cheng smiles at that. “You’re the only person who thinks I’m the best person in the world,” he tells Lan Jingyi. He kisses Lan Jingyi before Lan Jingyi is able to protest. “Yes, I am aware only your opinion counts.”

Lan Jingyi beams at him. “See? Best. Smartest. Most handsome. You’re all the superlatives.” He glances at the clock. “You came back so early. I bet you didn’t even have dinner properly. Let’s go out for dinner!”

Lan Jingyi moves to open the door as he speaks, but Jiang Cheng wraps his fingers around Lan Jingyi’s wrist, and says, “Jingyi.”

Jiang Cheng had originally had a plan for this, because Lan Jingyi would probably want a nicer proposal, a more heartfelt one, at the very least, but the ring that Jiang Cheng has taken to carrying around with him for the past five weeks is a heavy weight in his pocket today — it’s time to pass it on to its rightful owner.

“We can go have that crazy spicy hotpot you want to eat so much, but you have to promise me that you won’t kiss me until you rinse-”

The rest of Lan Jingyi’s words die at the tip of his tongue when Jiang Cheng slips the ring onto his finger. It’s a perfect fit, and more than that, it looks perfect on Lan Jingyi’s hand.

Jiang Cheng smiles at the way Lan Jingyi’s eyes widen. It’s not often he can startle Lan Jingyi into silence, and he intends to remember every moment of this.

He takes Lan Jingyi’s hand in his, strokes a thumb over his knuckles. “Jingyi, marry me.”

Lan Jingyi stares at the ring on his finger, then at Jiang Cheng, and then back at the ring again. He huffs out a wet laugh, and then says, “If I’d known that all it was going to take was me agreeing to let you eat spicy hotpot, I’d have done it much earlier, you know?”

Jiang Cheng laughs at that, and tugs Lan Jingyi into his arms, holding him tightly. “I love you,” he whispers into Lan Jingyi’s hair. “Was that a yes?”

“Yes,” Lan Jingyi says, muffled against Jiang Cheng’s neck. “Yes, yes, yes, of course it’s a yes.”

“Are you crying, baobei?” Jiang Cheng murmurs, mostly in an attempt to hide his absolute relief at hearing Lan Jingyi’s acceptance.

“Yes, but you’re not allowed to make fun of me when you’ve done this to me,” Lan Jingyi tells him. He pulls away from Jiang Cheng, just far enough to look him in the eye. “Is that why you went to see your parents today?”

Jiang Cheng nods.

Lan Jingyi blinks at him, surprised. “They allowed this?”

“I’m almost forty, Jingyi,” Jiang Cheng points out. “I don’t need their permission to marry the man I love.”

“Yes, but…” Lan Jingyi seems to think better of the rest of his sentence, turning silent instead. His arms tighten around Jiang Cheng’s waist, and he presses his face back into the crook of Jiang Cheng’s neck. “I’ll be on my best behaviour at the wedding, I promise,” he tells Jiang Cheng.

“I wasn’t planning on inviting them to the wedding,” Jiang Cheng tells him honestly.

Lan Jingyi presses a kiss to his neck. “You say this now…”

“Do you really want to be discussing my parents now, Jingyi?” Jiang Cheng asks.

It’s an absolute cop out. They will have to sit down to talk this through at one point or another. Lan Jingyi’s parents, if not the entire Lan family, will absolutely take it as a slight if Jiang Cheng’s parents do not attend the wedding, and that’s not to mention the field day that the press will have weaving stories about the rift Lan Jingyi has caused between Jiang Cheng and his parents. They will have to deal with this rather delicately, even if Jiang Cheng would rather...not have to.

“Nope,” Lan Jingyi admits. He presses his lips to the base of Jiang Cheng’s jaw. “Let’s go have dinner. You know I’m going to be so annoying about this ring, right? I’m going to show it off to every single person we meet on the street.”

Jiang Cheng lets out a laugh at that. “Lan Jingyi.”

Lan Jingyi smiles at that. “You think it’s bad now? Wait till we get married. Every single stranger we walk by will know you as my husband.”

“Husband,” Jiang Cheng echoes, and feels his heart swell with fondness when Lan Jingyi’s eyes light up. “This is Lan Jingyi, my husband,” Jiang Cheng tries.

“Dinner,” Lan Jingyi decides, tugging Jiang Cheng towards the door. “C’mon, let’s get out of the house, and get you fed, before I decide I never want to let you out of our bed again.”

Jiang Cheng tangles their fingers together, smiles when Lan Jingyi squeezes his hand lightly, and lets himself be led out of their house.