The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
In silent agreement, neither Yan Li nor Su Yuyang mentioned the matter with Ling Miao.
Su Yuyang had made reservations for hot pot. After Ling Miao had left, Su Yuyang and Yan Li headed over, Yan Li casually calling Feng Ji to join them.
Su Yuyang drank glass after glass of beer but didn’t eat much of the food in the pot. Feng Ji cooked a piece of tripe and tossed it into Su Yuyang’s bowl, but Su Yuyang didn’t see it.
“Hey, Yan Li.” Feng Ji scooted closer and asked worriedly by her ear, “What’s up with Yuyang? Usually when I give him tripe he whacks me with his beer glass. But today he’s only concerned with drinking?”
Yan Li took the piece of tripe from Su Yuyang’s bowl, put it into her mouth and chewed twice, then spit it out. She took a sip of tea and made a disdainful gesture toward Feng Ji: “No wonder Old Su¹ doesn’t eat the tripe you cook. It’s overcooked.” Yan Li intentionally changed the subject and Feng Ji didn’t pursue the matter further.
Su Yuyang put down his glass and said dejectedly: “Have I failed as a boss?”
“Why do you think so?” Feng Ji asked, but he was silently sighing: You didn’t fail. You’re just not suitable to be a boss.
Feng Ji didn’t know how Ling Miao and Su Yuyang usually interacted but from Ling Miao’s complaints against Su Yuyang, although Su Yuyang didn’t exploit his workers, he had done various things to make Ling Miao uncomfortable. Su Yuyang had asked if he had failed as a boss, so Su Yuyang’s current half-dead state had to do with Ling Miao. Thinking of Ling Miao, Feng Ji glanced around and didn’t find him there.
“Ling Miao’s not here?”
“I gave him three days off, and he gave me forever off.” Su Yuyang poured another glass of beer, the smile on his face more bitter than a bitter gourd.
The bitter taste of beer filled Su Yuyang’s mouth. As it slid down his throat, the sourness almost emerged from his eyes.
Su Yuyang finally fell over. Feng Ji settled the bill and wondered how to deal with Su Yuyang.
Yan Li said matter-of-factly: “You carry him home, of course.”
Feng Ji’s legs went weak and he almost knelt in front of Yan Li.
Motherfucker! Su Yuyang lived on the tenth floor and there was no elevator!
Taking the stairs to the tenth floor was exhausting enough, and he had to carry a 110-pound object on top of that. A wave of dizziness passed over Feng Ji and he was considering finding a couple of strong guys to carry Su Yuyang up to the tenth floor when he glanced again at Yan Li’s grinning face. He instantly put Su Yuyang on his back.
In the stairwell, the sounds of Feng Ji panting mingled with the clack of Yan Li’s high heels on the cement floor. Feng Ji was following behind Yan Li, and as he watched Yan Li’s carefree silhouette he couldn’t help complaining: “You’re stronger than me! Why am I carrying him?”
“Because he’s your ex,” Yan Li said matter-of-factly.
Fuck, he’s an ex, not a current boyfriend!
Feng Ji complained in his heart.
“Hey, Feng Ji, I think it’s weird how Ling Miao left. Surely Old Su didn’t do anything to him to make him want to run away?” Yan Li looked at Su Yuyang’s unconscious body and asked the out-of-breath Feng Ji.
Feng Ji lay against the back of the sofa, breathing great gulps of fresh air. He panted, “Surely Yuyang’s not so starved he eats indiscriminately, don’t you know?”
“So starved he eats indiscriminately?” Thinking of Ling Miao’s appearance, Yan Li then put Su Yuyang’s face beside Ling Miao’s, and finally rejected Feng Ji’s thoughts. “They actually look pretty good together.”
Feng Ji glanced at Su Yuyang and silently pleaded: Yuyang, I’m not betraying you. I’m telling Xiao Li for your own good.
“Xiao Li, I have something to tell you.”
For some reason, Ling Miao’s old spot hadn’t been rented out, and now that Ling Miao had returned, the landlord jeered as Ling Miao handed over the money and moved back in.
Lying on the bed, Ling Miao’s face was steeped in satisfaction.
“Linxi, this isn’t a place I can call my own, but I feel very comfortable.”
“How so?” Ji Linxi wiped the sweat from his forehead. “If it were me, I’d prefer a spacious room.”
“Being back here… Even though the ceiling’s very close to me, I don’t feel pressured. In Su Yuyang’s house, I can’t touch the ceiling, but I feel him above my head such that I can’t stretch out fully. I also have the feeling I’m freeloading and, even scarier, there’s some unknown feeling pressing down on me so that I can’t breathe.”
“Don’t talk about those things. Go and eat.”
If Ji Linxi hadn’t mentioned food Ling Miao would have been fine, but now that he had, Ling Miao felt hungry.
Seeing Ji Linxi put on his shoes and prepare to go out, Ling Miao frowned and asked: “You’re all dressed up. Going on a blind date?”
“I’m going out to eat, boy.” Ji Linxi raised a hand to smack Ling Miao’s forehead. Ling Miao cursed, then rolled over and said: “Bring me something back.”
“How do I bring back hot pot?”
“Hot pot?” Ling Miao sat up and licked his lips. “You’re really going all out.”
“Mm. Company gave me a voucher,” Ji Linxi explained.
In a great coincidence, the hot pot restaurant that had sponsored Ji Linxi’s voucher was also the restaurant Su Yuyang had made reservations at.
The hot pot place was packed and there were few empty tables, but Ling Miao and Ji Linxi were only two people so they ate at a two-person table in the corner. Su Yuyang, Yan Li, and Feng Ji didn’t notice Ling Miao’s presence, but Ling Miao saw Su Yuyang getting carried out by Feng Ji.
“Worried about him?” Ji Linxi teased.
Ling Miao picked up some duck intestine from the pot and put it in his mouth, saying leisurely: “Worried about who? I’m more worried about my job.”
“The interview’s tomorrow. Nervous?” Ji Linxi put down his chopsticks and asked somberly.
Ling Miao said confidently, “Relax. I’ll definitely pass.”
When Su Yuyang awoke the next day, he seemed to already have forgotten the previous day’s events.
Looking at the empty table, he yelled out of habit: “Xiao Miao, where’s breakfast?”
Ling Miao didn’t answer. Su Yuyang went to the kitchen and the bathroom to look—no one was there. He then looked at the corner, where all the things that had belonged to Ling Miao had been moved away.
Ling Miao’s things had occupied only a corner of the living room, a space that wasn’t very big, but also wasn’t very small.
Now, Su Yuyang felt the living room was very empty. Before Ling Miao, he had never thought this, but now that Ling Miao had left, he felt it. Su Yuyang understood one thing—Ling Miao had left an indelible mark on his life.
Su Yuyang could distinctly feel something he didn’t understand but should understand growing in his heart, about to emerge.
Yan Li moved into Su Yuyang’s house. On the day she arrived she had bunked with Feng Ji for a day, then felt that the place was too small—she couldn’t even turn over without almost falling out of bed. So, on the second day, she decisively moved into Su Yuyang’s house.
Yan Li had come to Su Yuyang’s place to vacation and relax, so of course she wanted to rest well. But Su Yuyang had started yelling very early in the morning and completely chased away her desire to doze.
With thoroughly reddened eyes and a head of bed hair like a bale of hay, Yan Li dragged her sore body to the door.
“What’re you yelling about? Will you let me sleep?” Yan Li yawned and said, “Ling Miao left yesterday, didn’t he? Stop yelling and go and write. If you’re hungry, ask Feng Ji to bring some breakfast over, and bring me some as well.”
Yan Li turned and entered her room. She lay on the bed but didn’t sleep.
“Su Yuyang, yesterday, he was so drunk, but today he doesn’t have a hangover at all. Something’s not right. He’s always been able to hold his drink. Now that I think about it, maybe he was faking drunk yesterday,” Yan Li thought to herself, then turned over and kept thinking about Feng Ji’s words from the day before.
“If Old Su really has fallen for Ling Miao, then how hasn’t he discovered it? Unless, like Feng Ji said, as a participant he can’t see the full picture? Then what about Ling Miao? Looking at him, his relationship with Old Su doesn’t look like that of a worker with his boss, or a fan with his idol.” Yan Li twirled her hair, her mind as much of a mess as her hair.
Feng Ji arrived quickly, but he wasn’t delivering breakfast; he was delivering lunch.
Yan Li’s status was somewhat unique and Su Yuyang tried not to give outsiders the opportunity to see her. Su Yuyang also didn’t like to go out, so for matters of food they had to trouble Feng Ji. Though Yan Li knew how to cook, whether she did or not depended on her mood.
“Yuyang, you have to move house!” Feng Ji began complaining the moment he set down the food.
Yan Li walked out wearing her pajamas. She rolled her eyes at Feng Ji and laughed: “If someone were to find out I was living here, at least it’s quieter on the tenth floor.”
“Hey…” Su Yuyang put his head in his hands. “I don’t want to make the front page of a gossip rag.”
“Old Su, I think that the person on gossip rag headlines with you won’t be me,” Yan Li said somewhat disappointedly.
Su Yuyang looked at Yan Li uncomprehendingly. Feng Ji chimed in at the right time: “That other person would be his little assistant, right?”
Su Yuyang’s eyes closed slowly then opened slowly. The slow-motion movement made Feng Ji’s heart thump–he felt like he had been caught red-handed.
“He and I are just boss and assistant,” Su Yuyang explained gravely. “If you continue to let that train of thought run away… I think I can come up with worse. Do you want to try?”
Anyone could hear that Feng Ji’s words were purely teasing, but Su Yuyang’s response worried Yan Li.
To Yan Li’s knowledge, Su Yuyang was a very outwardly relaxed person. To Feng Ji’s joke today, Su Yuyang would previously have said something like: “Just a gossip-rag boyfriend.” But today Su Yuyang had explained himself. From that grave expression, serious tone, and Su Yuyang’s other out-of-character behavior, Yan Li sensed something ambiguous, so faint it could vanish at any time.
After lunch, Su Yuyang went back to his room to write. Yan Li and Feng Ji stayed in the living room discussing something, and several minutes later Feng Ji left too.
Yan Li walked behind Su Yuyang and found him staring at his document in a daze.
Yan Li had come in with a motive: she wanted Ling Miao’s contact number. Initially she had intended to ask Su Yuyang for it, but Su Yuyang’s good impression of a soulless body made her give up. She said: “Lend me your phone.”
Su Yuyang picked up his cellphone from the table and handed it to Yan Li, who opened the contact list and found Ling Miao’s name. She sent the number to her own phone.
“Xiao Li, whether they get together in the end or not, I hope you won’t interfere.” Feng Ji knew Yan Li very well, so before he left he had reminded her of this.
Yan Li saved Ling Miao’s number and thought: If I don’t make a chance for them, even if the seeds of love are there, they might not sprout!