The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
Su Yuyang had caught Ling Miao off guard. They stared at each other for almost half a minute before they hurriedly averted their gazes. Self-effacement shot across Su Yuyang’s eyes. He nestled his face into Ling Miao’s shoulder and put his cheek against Ling Miao’s neck, feeling the beat of Ling Miao’s heart.
Su Yuyang’s soft hair swept across Ling Miao’s neck, tickling him. Ling Miao reflexively reached out to scratch it, and as he lowered his hand he touched Su Yuyang’s head. Su Yuyang raised his head to look at Ling Miao but Ling Miao didn’t seem to notice and kept looking out the window.
The car window was covered in a layer of water droplets. The rain hadn’t stopped since this morning.
The weather was just strange this year. It had rained almost every day, and the one sunny day had reached almost 40°C (104°F). Like Su Yuyang’s attitude to Ling Miao and Ling Miao’s response, it seemed mostly predictable, but the one time Su Yuyang had been gentle to Ling Miao, it had suddenly terrified Ling Miao.
Su Yuyang had seen Ling Miao trying to escape and remembered it well. He moved his head from Ling Miao’s shoulder and shifted his body in the other direction. He watched the landscape outside the window flashing by. The raindrops lengthened into slender threads as they were blown by the wind, wrapping him like a cocoon and making him feel suffocated.
As they neared the stadium, the traffic on the roads grew heavier. Ji Linxi slowed the car and occasionally glanced in the rearview mirror to check on the situation behind him.
The silence between Ling Miao and Su Yuyang was within his expectations, though he thought it a pity. From a different perspective, maybe one day in the future when they both realized each other’s feelings and remembered this day, they would treasure each other even more.
The strains of Yan Li’s music drifted in the car. Su Yuyang’s phone began to ring in harmony with the music.
The call was from Feng Ji.
Feng Ji had gotten a ticket from Yan Li and was currently waiting at the stadium for the three of them to arrive.
“On the way. Traffic jam,” Su Yuyang rumpled his hair and said with frustration.
Feng Ji said, lightly mocking, “Ah, I’m already inside. You left earlier than me, but you’re still on the road?” Feng Ji’s words were tinged with the flavour of enjoying their difficulties.
Su Yuyang played along with Feng Ji: “I don’t know why this happened either. Ah, if I’d known earlier I would have gone with you.”
Ling Miao’s heart clenched when he head Su Yuyang’s words. His shoulders shook, but Su Yuyang had his back to Ling Miao so he didn’t see.
Feng Ji laughed. “With me? Forget it. You’d have a terrible time.” Feng Ji’s voice suddenly dropped and he said softly: “Xiao Li’s here. Talk later.”
“Hey…” Su Yuyang still had things to say to Feng Ji, but Feng Ji ignored him completely and hung up.
Xiao Li’s here, so we’ll talk later? What logic is this?
Su Yuyang huffily put his phone back in his pocket, shifted his position, and went back to sleep.
Ji Linxi yawned and thought morosely: Don’t sleep! Don’t you know sleepiness is infectious?
The car in front finally moved. Ji Linxi started the car and followed.
Several minutes later the three reached the stadium. The line for admission was already very long, but the three of them didn’t need to stand in line.
Holding the VIP tickets Yan Li had given them, the three walked through the priority lane into the stadium.
Su Yuyang called Feng Ji to ask him exactly where he was, but he’d only exchanged two sentences with Feng Ji before the voice on the other end changed to a woman’s.
“Old Su, you’re here?” Yan Li seemed excited. Su Yuyang had already heard from Ling Miao that Yan Li liked Ji Linxi, so he knew exactly why Yan Li was excited.
Su Yuyang sighed in grievance: “I came, but it’s not just me who came. Feng Ji, Ling Miao and… Ji Linxi are here too.” Su Yuyang paused before saying the last name. Yan Li’s giggling came through the phone—it was her shyness at having been seen through.
“Why is Feng Ji in the dressing room?” Su Yuyang asked curiously.
Yan Li’s laughter turned crafty, but she didn’t explain.
“Yan Yan, why are you still on the phone? Prepare to go onstage,” Yang Lin called. Yan Li stuck out her tongue to indicate her dissatisfaction and Yang Lin’s expression grew dark as she walked over with a murderous expression. Yan Li hurriedly tossed the phone to Feng Ji: “You talk to him. I’m leaving.”
“Hey, why’re you in the dressing room?”
“Because I’m a worker here,” Feng Ji said helplessly as he lowered his head to the name tag hanging from his neck. “But I’ll be part of the audience once I take off this tag. Heh heh. Yan Li didn’t have an extra ticket, but I wanted to see the concert so this was the only way.”
Su Yuyang mentally praised Yan Li’s quick thinking as they got to their seats. All three of them had gotten their tickets from Yan Li, so the seats were next to each other.
“Ah, we’ve found our seats. It’s the first row in front of the stage. Come over later,” Su Yuyang reminded.
Feng Ji said, “OK,” then hung up the phone.
The three of them settled in. From left to right: Su Yuyang, Ling Miao, Ji Linxi. Ling Miao had wanted Ji Linxi to sit between him and Su Yuyang, but under Su Yuyang’s dagger-like scrutiny, Ji Linxi, fearing for his life, had chosen to sit to Ling Miao’s right. Ling Miao had hesitated and wondered whether to switch seats with the person on Ji Linxi’s right, but Su Yuyang commanded him to sit down and Ling Miao obligingly sat to Su Yuyang’s right.
Ji Linxi held the roughed-up flower in his hand, a laugh in his eyes as he watched the stage.
People poured into the stadium and the surroundings gradually grew rowdy. Ji Linxi took out his earphones and put them in his ears. Ling Miao watched Ji Linxi’s relaxed manner, took Ji Linxi’s left earbud out of his ear, and put it into his own ear. Seeing this, Su Yuyang took the bud from his own right ear and stuffed it in Ling Miao’s other ear.
Ling Miao was shocked by the sudden music. He turned and glared at Su Yuyang, who said coldly: “Don’t take it off.”
Ling Miao asked, “Why? Even though you’re my boss, you can’t force me to listen to the songs on your phone!”
Could it be? Is the person Ling Miao likes Ji Linxi? Su Yuyang abruptly raised his head and looked at Ji Linxi who was smiling. As if aware that Su Yuyang was looking at him, Ji Linxi turned his head and smiled gently at Su Yuyang. In Su Yuyang’s eyes, that smile was a challenge.
“Fuck it.” Su Yuyang grit his teeth, hands balling into fists. If Ji Linxi did anything unseemly, he’d fuck it all and give him a good beating. But Ji Linxi didn’t. He just smiled, then returned his eyes to the stage. Su Yuyang tensed and waited for Ji Linxi to cut his rationality short.
Before Ji Linxi could do anything, Feng Ji walked over.
As one of the workers, Feng Ji had access to the whole stadium. Since the seat beside Su Yuyang was still empty, Feng Ji sat down in it.
The atmosphere was tense. Feng Ji coughed twice, cleared his throat, and said, “The concert’s starting. What are you glaring at each other for? Look at the stage!”
As Feng Ji finished speaking, the lights all around dimmed and two blinding white spotlights appeared on the stage. From one side of the stage, a figure slowly walked out.
“Good evening, everyone! I’m Yan Li, and thank you for coming tonight!” Yan Li was the emcee for her own show, which surprised Ji Linxi.
Seeing Ji Linxi’s surprise, Feng Ji explained: “Yan Li’s concerts are always like this. She hosts them too.”
As Yan Li finished her opening speech, thunderous applause and cheers rose from all directions like the roar of the ocean. As if rehearsed, every person called Yan Li’s name. The thunderous shouts left Ji Linxi convinced of the strength of Yan Li’s fans, and gave him a new opinion of Yan Li herself.
“I’m very happy to have a concert in my hometown. So, I dedicate this first song to my hometown!” Having said her piece, Yan Li raised her hands in the air and backup dancers swarmed onto the stage from all directions. The concert had officially begun.
Ji Linxi watched Yan Li on the stage and couldn’t tear his gaze away. Yan Li on stage and the Yan Li he knew seemed to be two completely different people.
As the first song ended, Ji Linxi was still immersed in Yan Li’s radiance. The song changed, and Yan Li took the image of a countryside girl on the stage. The melancholy music and sentimental lyrics made Ji Linxi feel that Yan Li was the girl described in the song, and he almost wanted to rush onstage to comfort her.
“Fuck. Do you need to make people sad the moment it starts?” Ling Miao said huffily.
Su Yuyang was calm as he smiled and said, “The theme of the concert is ‘The love letter I can’t send,’ so the sadness is going to continue.”
“What’s the point of a love letter? Why not just confess?” The moment Ling Miao said the words he frowned, but soon his eyes lit with surprise: I… can I write my confession into my book?
The same notion had occurred to Su Yuyang. Since I can’t tell him to his face, I’ll just write it in the section for author’s notes!
The concert was still ongoing. Su Yuyang looked at the program on the back of the ticket and told Ling Miao: “The concert’s about to go into halftime.” At halftime, Yan Li wouldn’t rest. She was going to invite a fan onstage.
Lights on both sides of the stage went on. Yan Li turned around to look at the big screen, which cut to Yan Li’s face, then spotlights roved over the audience.
Yan Li yelled out the command and the spotlight stopped. Ling Miao felt the light hurt his eyes and almost thought it had chosen him, but then he looked at the big screen and realized the person chosen was Ji Linxi who was sitting beside him.
A stagehand walked over and invited Ji Linxi on stage. Ji Linxi looked pleadingly at Ling Miao, who stared at his toes and completely ignored Ji Linxi’s pleas for help.
Ji Linxi was helpless. He asked the stagehand: “Can I bring this flower?”
“Let me check it.”
The stagehand checked Ji Linxi’s flower and confirmed nothing was amiss then led Ji Linxi to the stage.
Ling Miao cursed softly: “Fuck. He’s really going to deliver it?”
“Weren’t you going to stop him?” Su Yuyang laughed coldly.
Ling Miao glared fiercely at Su Yuyang. He had intended to scold Su Yuyang but then he met Su Yuyang’s eyes and couldn’t say a word.
“Dumb cat.” Su Yuyang’s hand gently stroked the back of Ling Miao’s head. “Why are you interfering in their matters?” Su Yuyang said this against Ling Miao’s cheek, hot breath blowing into Ling Miao’s ear, their positions charged with implications. All around them the lights had dimmed and Su Yuyang got up the courage to put his lips to Ling Miao’s temple, but he didn’t linger there, just brushed past as if the contact had been an accident.
Ling Miao felt his cheeks and ears burning. His heart kept pounding.
“Hey, why are you molesting me?” Ling Miao pretended that Su Yuyang was teasing him.
Su Yuyang looked disgusted: “Who wants to eat old tofu?”¹
“I like it,” Ling Miao said self-righteously, meeting Su Yuyang’s eyes which were full of meaning.
If one year was the difference between old tofu and tender tofu, then to Ling Miao, wouldn’t Su Yuyang be old tofu?