The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
It was evening by the time Ling Miao finished editing Su Yuyang’s draft. Ling Miao raised his head to look outside; he had thought that it was still early and the darkening sky shocked him.
In May, twilight still fell late. Through the window the dying rays of the setting sun still shone in the sky, the golden light piercing Ling Miao’s eyes.
Ling Miao cursed softly and uploaded the edited chapters as quickly as he could. Once the final chapter was in place, he rushed to the kitchen without even pausing for a sip of water.
Only after Ling Miao had made dinner did he go to knock on Su Yuyang’s bedroom door.
Su Yuyang opened the door, and it was as if he had used his face to wipe the bottom of a pot. It was difficult to differentiate his eyes from the rest of his face. Ling Miao eyed Su Yuyang; Ling Miao’s originally calm face had turned red in the last few seconds, his lips twitched before they pursed tightly, again. He covered his mouth with both his hands.
Ling Miao’s strange behavior made uncertainty rise in Su Yuyang’s heart; the latter was about to open his mouth to ask a question when Ling Miao let out a poorly stifled laugh, followed by a seemingly endless string of ‘ha ha ha ha’s.
“Ling Miao, you’re really something” Su Yuyang gritted out through his teeth as the remains of his sleepy haze dissipated completely.
“Ah! Ha ha!” Ling Miao braced himself against the wall with one hand and clutched his stomach with the other; he was even panting a little. “Great Shu, you’re really hardworking! You don’t stop writing even when you’re asleep! But what is this mysterious ability to type with your face?”
“Hm?” Su Yuyang asked.
Ling Miao had laughed his fill, but once he saw Su Yuyang’s face again, he could not hold back more laughter.
“Su Yuyang, do you know what waffles are? Your face must have met a waffle mold! If you had some syrup, you wouldn’t lose a drop!” Ling Miao was laughing so hard he was practically curled up on the ground; the muscles in his face had all seized up.
By now, Su Yuyang generally understood the reason for Ling Miao’s exaggerated laughter. He touched his face and silently sighed: the love-bites the keyboard had left on his face were pretty deep.
Su Yuyang shook his head and fixed Ling Miao with a somewhat disdainful gaze. Ling Miao wasn’t oblivious, but he also wasn’t especially sensitive; still, he quickly managed to figure out the various emotions swirling in Su Yuyang’s eyes.
“Hey, Su Yuyang, what expression is that?” Ling Miao angled his chin and demanded. His pale skin was flushed red with rage.
Su Yuyang lowered his head and watched Ling Miao’s gradually reddening cheeks. Suddenly he bent down and blew into Ling Miao’s ear: “Ling Miao, you’re very easily amused.”
Ling Miao couldn’t figure out what Su Yuyang was trying to do by saying such mocking words in such a suggestive way, but his neck flushed even redder.
“Xiao Miao, you’re blushing.” Su Yuyang teased.
Ling Miao raised a hand to his own face. The heat from his skin made him quickly remove his hand.
“Scram and go eat lunch!” Ling Miao hurriedly turned around to hide his embarrassed face from Su Yuyang. As he turned he also shifted his gaze—he didn’t want to meet Su Yuyang’s eyes, which were full of such complex emotions that terrified Ling Miao down to the bottom of his heart.
Su Yuyang didn’t say anything. Ling Miao watched the dining table from the corner of his eye—Su Yuyang had not headed over to it. Ling Miao was slightly anxious because he couldn’t see what Su Yuyang was doing, but he didn’t have the courage to turn around. Taking a deep breath, Ling Miao stepped forward, and his other foot hadn’t left the floor when he felt something tighten over his wrist.
“What’s the matter?” Ling Miao asked, his voice stony but trembling.
Su Yuyang laughed and said, “It’s lunchtime, isn’t it? The dining table is behind you, but where are you going?”
“Oh, there’s not enough rice. I’m making noodles.” Ling Miao’s voice gradually grew quieter. “So, can you let go of me now?”
In a daze Su Yuyang let go of Ling Miao, who rubbed at his reddened arm and said viciously, “Great Novelist, did you want to crush my wrist to pieces?”
In the time it took Su Yuyang to say “Uh…”, Ling Miao vanished from his field of view. Su Yuyang’s mouth fell open for a few seconds before he closed it slowly. Disappointment flashed across his eyes.
Sunlight filtered through the day curtains and softly lay over the dining table. Su Yuyang watched a strip of a mischievous beam of sunlight creep over Ling Miao’s shoulder. In this moment, Ling Miao seemed to exist within fog, mysterious and small, but a closer look revealed Ling Miao’s infinite, explosive strength. The block in Su Yuyang’s mind inexplicably vanished. He suddenly thought of adding a character into his novel—a character based off Ling Miao.
“Hey, Su Yuyang!”
Ling Miao’s sudden yell not only cut off Su Yuyang’s train of thought, but it also scared Su Yuyang so much he dropped his chopsticks on the ground. Su Yuyang hurriedly picked them up and wiped them off with a napkin, then feigned calm as he said: “Did you delete my draft again?”
Feeling Su Yuyang’s disdainful gaze, Ling Miao sneered and thrust his chin forward as he said: “Since you want to eat, then eat. Why do you keep staring at me? Careful you don’t put your food in your nose.”
Su Yuyang disregarded Ling Miao’s question. He lowered his head and continued to eat, but he raised his eyes to glance at Ling Miao from time to time. Seeing Ling Miao with arms folded over his chest and staring at him with a thunderous face, Su Yuyang lost the desire to eat even though he was so hungry his stomach seemed to touch his spine.
“Ling Miao, why do you keep staring at me?”
“Yeah, why did you keep staring at me just now?” Ling Miao shot back unpleasantly.
Su Yuyang was caught off guard. Knowing it was futile to argue with Ling Miao, he shut his mouth out of habit.
As Su Yuyang ate, he was still designing the character he would base off of Ling Miao. Perhaps it was because his train of thought had been cut off just now, but he could not pick up his previous thread of inspiration or continue it. No matter how he thought about it, he could not construct a solid character in his mind. In frustration, he gave up the idea.
Most of Ling Miao’s day belonged to Su Yuyang, but after dinner Ling Miao’s time was once again his own—that was Ling Miao and Su Yuyang’s agreement.
After washing the dishes, Ling Miao opened his laptop and prepared to write. Su Yuyang came out of his bedroom and did not see Ling Miao, but a pattering sound from the study caught his attention
The sky was growing darker, but the light in the study was off. Su Yuyang stood outside the room and looked in; light from the laptop screen shone on Ling Miao’s face, giving him a somewhat cold air.
Su Yuyang turned on the study light and Ling Miao squinted his eyes at the sudden brightness. He said angrily: “Su Yuyang, what are you doing?”
Ling Miao was sitting on the bed, wrapped in a blanket; his laptop was placed on the desk over the bed.
Su Yuyang frowned at the scene before him. Melancholy and vexation appeared simultaneously on his face.
“Xiao Miao, I forgot to tell you something.” Su Yuyang rubbed at his temples and opened his mouth with difficulty. “You have two choices for where to sleep at night: the sofa or the floor.”
The sofa or the floor?
Ling Miao’s eyes twitched, as if he were trying to figure out Su Yuyang’s intentions. Half a minute later, Ling Miao slapped the desk hard: “Su Yuyang, I did pull strings to live in your house, but surely you don’t have to treat me like this?”
“It’s not just you, even I don’t dare to sleep in this bed,” Su Yuyang said with a vexed look on his face. “Let me put it this way—this bed belongs to someone. It’s in my house, but it’s not mine. If you can accept my terms from just now, you can stay. If you can’t—the door’s that way.”
Su Yuyang seemed sincere. In addition, Su Yuyang was the apartment owner, so Ling Miao didn’t want to take too many liberties. He resigned himself to his fate and began to pack his things in preparation for going to the living room to sleep.
After parsing through what Su Yuyang had just said, Ling Miao’s nosy nature began to rear its head. He prodded Su Yuyang who was standing by the door and asked with a grin: “Su-ge, is the bed’s owner a man or a woman?”
“Mm…” Su Yuyang looked Ling Miao over, probably observing whether Ling Miao wanted to know out of curiosity or if he had other intentions. After thinking about the owner’s identity, however, Su Yuyang gave an ambiguous answer: “Could be male or female; could be giving or receiving; could be butch or femme.”
Su Yuyang rattled this off smoothly as if he had said it countless times—it looked like Su Yuyang’s relationship with the person ran deep!
“Oh… I think I understand.” Ling Miao said he understood, but Su Yuyang still saw the row of question marks above his head. Still, Su Yuyang had no intention of answering Ling Miao’s question.
When Ling Miao arrived he had brought his blanket, his sleeping mat, and some more padding. Now, he put the cotton padding and the sleeping mat down, then put a pillow and the blanket on top; with that, his nest was complete. When Su Yuyang walked out carrying more padding, he saw Ling Miao in his blanket nest, writing. He tossed the padding to the floor and said with surprise, “Ling Miao, you knew you’d have to sleep on the floor?”
“Wrong~ I got this for school and it’s coming in handy now. But, Su-ge, I didn’t expect you to be this concerned about me.” Ling Miao touched the padding Su Yuyang had thrown on the floor, and smiled faintly.
Su Yuyang murmured assent and feigned indifference as he said: “The marble is pretty cold, and it’s chilly at night. Put more layers down before you sleep—if you get sick, you’re not the only one who will suffer.”
Ling Miao stuck his tongue out at Su Yuyang, who made a cutting motion. Ling Miao retracted his tongue immediately before trailing Su Yuyang to the bathroom with his eyes.
When Su Yuyang emerged from the bathroom, Ling Miao was still racking his brains over the next scene. Su Yuyang walked over, towelling his hair; water from his hair flew in all directions, much of it landing on Ling Miao’s face. Ling Miao wiped at the water on his face; he raised his head and was about to lecture Su Yuyang when a droplet flew into his mouth.
It was just a drop of water, and if it had fallen into his mouth from his own hair he would just have spit it out. But this was water that fell from Su Yuyang’s hair… Ling Miao thought about it and felt uneasy.
Ling Miao’s mouth stayed open. He didn’t know whether to swallow or to spit.
Su Yuyang grabbed a nectarine and stuffed it in Ling Miao’s mouth. Ling Miao bit into the nectarine and hummed, “You buttering me up? It’s too late!”
Ling Miao finished the nectarine in two or three bites. Seeing him lick his lips in satisfaction, Su Yuyang said apologetically: “The nectarine wasn’t washed.”
The nectarine flesh Ling Miao hadn’t fully swallowed now lodged in his throat; in his mind, a second battle was taking place. If he spat it out, Su Yuyang would look down on him, but if he swallowed it, he’d feel wronged.
Not knowing what to do, Ling Miao turned his head to look at Su Yuyang, whose relaxed posture made Ling Miao swallow his bite of nectarine alongside his anger. Ling Miao silently cursed Su Yuyang from head to toe, and muttered: “They’re not clean, pray I don’t get sick.”
Su Yuyang gave a big thumbs-up. Ling Miao yelled, “Su Yuyang, you did this on purpose, right?”
Su Yuyang shrugged to indicate his innocence. He got a nectarine, took a bite, and said: “Idiot, they’ve been washed.”
Ling Miao felt a bundle of fire bouncing to and fro in his chest, but before he could let it out Su Yuyang stepped up to fill the role of a fire extinguisher.
Su Yuyang reminded him: “Tomorrow, wash my clothes. Remember, hand-wash them.”
“Su Yuyang, you just prepare to wear rags!”
Alongside the sound of Ling Miao cursing under his breath, a nectarine pit flew toward Su Yuyang, trailing sparks, and landed squarely on the back of Su Yuyang’s head.