The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
Su Yuyang was woken by his hunger. His mind was clear but he didn’t open his eyes. He reached out to rub his stomach, which made a timely sound of protest.
“Xiao Miao, is breakfast ready?” Su Yuyang called out to ask out of habit, but he didn’t get the reply he expected.
“Xiao Miao?” Su Yuyang yelled more forcefully for Ling Miao, then suddenly felt something wriggle in his arms. He’d just woken up and hadn’t quite gotten his bearings yet, and only after several seconds did he realize something wasn’t right.
Su Yuyang opened his eyes, and adjusted to the light before looking down at himself. He lowered his head and saw a black pile of fluff, then some human ears, and lower… because it was under his body, he couldn’t see very well, but he could guess who he was holding—aside from Ling Miao, Su Yuyang couldn’t think of anyone else who’d be in his house at this time.
“Ling Miao, why’re you in my bed?” Su Yuyang wondered, then suddenly something seemed to jolt his brain. He took his hands off Ling Miao, jumped out of bed and checked his body, then looked Ling Miao over from head to toe.
Whoo–-as Su Yuyang confirmed that he hadn’t done anything to Ling Miao, his tightly wound heart slowly began to relax.
Su Yuyang exhaled heavily and waited for his emotions to calm down completely before he tried to wake Ling Miao.
“Xiao Miao, rise and shine,” Su Yuyang said coldly.
Ling Miao rolled over and ignored Su Yuyang.
“Get up, I know you’re awake.” Su Yuyang’s voice got colder. Ling Miao curled up and clutched the blanket tighter around himself.
Seeing the situation, a smile surfaced on Su Yuyang’s lips: “Ling Miao, do you like my bed so much? If you do, then you might as well move in and sleep with me. This bed is pretty big and can totally handle two men.”
Hearing Su Yuyang’s teasing, Ling Miao rolled over on the bed and stuck his head out from underneath the blanket. Ling Miao had thought Su Yuyang would definitely be laughing, but instead he saw Su Yuyang’s face was serious with a hint of thoughtfulness, as if considering the plausibility of his own suggestion.
Ling Miao lowered his voice and cursed, “Fuck, I’d rather sleep on the floor than share a bed with you.”
“You’re worried I’ll do something to you?” Su Yuyang said, somewhat aggrieved.
Ling Miao said dismissively: “Tcheh, what can you do to me? Be careful I don’t break all your limbs.” Ling Miao raised his hand and made a chopping motion, while Su Yuyang played along and clapped his hand over a certain part of his body.
“Hey, you didn’t need to do that, did you?” Ling Miao was speechless at Su Yuyang’s actions.
Su Yuyang retorted, “You said you’d break all my limbs, right? I just played along.”
“It’s always ‘get out,’ you think I’m a ball? I can’t roll, but you seem pretty happy to roll around on my bed.¹ Why don’t you get rid of that blanket and give me a demonstration?” Su Yuyang’s face suddenly loomed large in front of Ling Miao, who looked at the face genuinely requesting instruction and suddenly he couldn’t find the words to reject Su Yuyang’s request.
“Xiao Miao, you really like my blanket that much?” Su Yuyang suddenly looked at Ling Miao with an unreadable expression. “You’re not worried that my bodily fluids are on it?”
Ling Miao suddenly remembered: Su Yuyang had asked him a similar question before, and at that time he’d replied to Su Yuyang with that line. Now Su Yuyang was using his own words against him.
“I can’t win this argument.” Ling Miao, like an eggplant touched by frost, glared at Su Yuyang and emerged from the blanket.
Once Ling Miao emerged from the blanket, Su Yuyang’s gaze was drawn to a certain biological reaction and he realized why Ling Miao hadn’t been willing to come out from the blanket.
“That…” Su Yuyang embarrassedly lowered his head, but his shaking shoulders indicated clearly to Ling Miao: I’m laughing. I’m very nearly laughing out loud.
Two red clouds floated to the surface of Ling Miao’s cheeks. He glanced at a very proud something, then raced for the bedroom door.
Su Yuyang didn’t go out. He was worried he’d hear something he shouldn’t.
He fell back on the bed. The blanket still held Ling Miao’s residual warmth and Su Yuyang’s fingers moved over the blanket cover. Feng Ji’s words surfaced unbidden, then Su Yuyang forcibly crushed them. Su Yuyang had always thought his brain volume was pretty small, so where too many things were concerned, he wouldn’t think about things unless he absolutely needed to, in order not to start too many processes in his brain and accidentally trigger a blue screen of death.
Finding someone to live with—was something that needed to happen by chance, not by design.
If Feng Ji were here, he’d give Su Yuyang a good lecture: “Your social circle isn’t even as big as your palm! If you want to meet people, you have to be able to meet people first, right?”
Su Yuyang tossed aside Feng Ji’s question, and another question appeared: When did Ling Miao get into my bed?
“Su Yuyang, come and eat,” Ling Miao lifted his head and shouted.
“Coming,” Su Yuyang answered, but he didn’t move.
By the time Ling Miao finished laying the dishes on the table, Su Yuyang still hadn’t emerged from his room. Ling Miao opened Su Yuyang’s bedroom door and saw Su Yuyang haltingly stroking his blanket. He couldn’t help laughing: “Su-ge, do you want my blanket too?”
Su Yuyang’s brain short-circuited. Seeing Ling Miao’s gaze fall on his hand, he suddenly understood.
Su Yuyang said disdainfully: “It’s not like I don’t have my own blanket. Let’s go eat.”
Ling Miao seemed to still have something to say, so Su Yuyang cut him off. Ling Miao shrugged and watched Su Yuyang’s fleeing silhouette, smiling somewhat in satisfaction.
After lunch, Su Yuyang returned to his room to write and Ling Miao began doing chores.
Ling Miao was washing clothes when Su Yuyang appeared behind him and said in a spooky voice, “Let’s compete in a word sprint later.”
Ling Miao flinched and dropped the laundry soap on the floor.
In the instant the soap fell from his hand, Ling Miao saw Su Yuyang’s gaze harden behind him, face arranged in an expectant smile.
Ling Miao thought about online stories concerning soap, and turned around and eyed Su Yuyang pleadingly as he asked with an ingratiating smile, “Su-ge, can you go out?”
Looking at Ling Miao’s stammering, fearful appearance, Su Yuyang couldn’t resist. He reached out and pinched Ling Miao’s thin cheek, gave Ling Miao a smile indicating ‘you can relax,’ then walked out of the bathroom.
Facing the bathroom door, Ling Miao picked up the soap and put it carefully back into the box.
“Whoo—” Ling Miao let out a long exhale.
“Word sprint?” Like a haunting ghost, Su Yuyang came back. On hearing his voice, Ling Miao’s heart inexplicably began to beat faster, like it was about to burst out of his chest.
Ling Miao wrung Su Yuyang’s clothes with a lot of force, gritting through his teeth: “Your typing speed is 3000 words per hour, my speed is 30000. If I compete in a word sprint with you, aren’t I just looking for trouble? I’m not a masochist. I don’t like getting tortured.”
(T/N: 30000 wph is in the original text but Ling Miao is implied to be a lot slower than Su Yuyang)
“My hourly speed is 6000,” Su Yuyang corrected. “3000 was my speed five years ago.”
“So why’re you challenging me to a word sprint?” Ling Miao suddenly increased the strength with which he scrubbed the clothes. Su Yuyang could almost hear his clothes crying out to him for help.
“Oh, I know,” Ling Miao looked at Su Yuyang, realizing something. “You can’t provoke me so you’re doing this to get the satisfaction of frustrating someone? Fuck you, Su Yuyang, are you a sadist?”
Su Yuyang said indifferently: “I’ll leave that up to your imagination, but are you in or not?”
“Yeah, why not? But help me hang up the clothes first.”
Ling Miao brought the wrung-out clothes in a basin to the balcony. He stood by the balcony railing and took down the dried clothes, handing them over to Su Yuyang, who took them and tossed them on the sofa to one side, then handed the wet clothes to Ling Miao to place on the clothes rack.
Though it was their first time working together, they cooperated very well.
A wash of gold sunlight crept along the windowsill and into the house, the illumination linking Su Yuyang to Ling Miao. Under the sunlight, a gentle warmth flowed between their fingertips, and time seemed to have stopped for them both. As Su Yuyang handed over the clothes, his gaze grazed the side of Ling Miao’s face, and he saw happiness written in Ling Miao’s expression…
Led by Ling Miao’s mood, a place in Su Yuyang’s heart that had long been quiet began to stir.
After passing the clothes to Ling Miao, Su Yuyang reflexively reached for the next item, but his hand closed on air. Seeing Ling Miao hang the last item of clothing on the rack, Su Yuyang said, “That’s all the clothes. Let’s word sprint.”
Ling Miao had joined many writing groups, but most of the time he just lurked. When people did word sprints, he just watched from the sidelines, so he knew what a word sprint was but hadn’t participated in one before.
“Start at four o’clock and end at five o’clock,” Su Yuyang looked at the time and said.
Ling Miao had no objections and nodded, then asked, “Give me a half-hour head start?”
“You think too much.” Su Yuyang rolled his eyes at Ling Miao.
“Then, what’s the wager?” Ling Miao asked.
“The loser will bark like a dog on his microblog, what do you say?”
This wager Su Yuyang mentioned was the one he used most often while word sprinting with his friends. Ling Miao had also seen people who lost a word sprint doing this, so he happily agreed.
Su Yuyang and Ling Miao moved their laptops to a spot outside the study. They sat face to face and waited for four o’clock.
“Start!” Ling Miao reminded Su Yuyang, fingers starting to get busy.
Su Yuyang didn’t move. His attention was all on Ling Miao.
When Ling Miao typed, his back was straight. His eyes were fixed unblinkingly on his screen and his look of complete focus made Su Yuyang’s heart shudder. Sometimes furrows would appear on Ling Miao’s head, and Su Yuyang guessed Ling Miao had run into a complicated bit. A few seconds or half a minute’s pause later, joy would surface on Ling Miao’s face, then the sound of the keyboard would again ring out by his ear.
The sounds from Ling Miao’s keyboard didn’t pause at all. Su Yuyang thought: “You write like this and still say you do 30000wph. Ling Miao, are you trying to lower my guard?” Su Yuyang thought he was grimacing, but anyone looking at him could tell that his smile was fond.
Stretching lazily, Su Yuyang gathered his thoughts. He stared at his computer and entered ‘writing mode,’ but his gaze would drift to Ling Miao from time to time. As he kept looking, Ling Miao’s presence consumed Su Yuyang’s field of vision.
He’s really getting into it. If I don’t get serious, I’ll feel bad. Thinking this, Su Yuyang returned his attention to writing.
This continued to happen, so the final outcome was self-evident.