The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
Yan Li and her manager had scheduled a time to rehearse, so she got up early that day.
Ling Miao was preparing breakfast in the kitchen.
Su Yuyang smelt the fragrant sweetness of congee, opened his door, and made a beeline for the kitchen.
Ling Miao skilfully cubed some steamed radish, then grabbed a handful of cowpeas and cut them into small pieces. Clouds of steam rose from the pot. Ling Miao put the minced meat he had prepared beforehand into the pot and waited for it to turn white, then dropped the cowpeas in.
Cowpea with minced meat and congee was Su Yuyang’s favorite summer meal.
Looking at Ling Miao’s busy silhouette, Su Yuyang’s gaze gradually grew unfocused, and the sleepiness in his face giving way to faint happiness.
Su Yuyang’s attention was elsewhere, so he didn’t notice Ling Miao turn around. Ling Miao saw Su Yuyang smiling and yelled, “What are you looking at? Are flowers growing on my face?”
Su Yuyang was shocked by Ling Miao’s shout and his wits returned: “I came to see if you’d made breakfast. I’m hungry.”
“Why do I care whether you’re hungry?” Ling Miao sounded like he’d heard a very bad joke. “If you’re hungry, make your own food.”
“Hey, didn’t you say yesterday that you’d cook?” Su Yuyang asked, surprised, some worry in his eyes.
Ling Miao set the congee and the dishes on the table and yelled to Yan Li’s room: “Yan-jie, breakfast’s ready.”
Yan Li had wanted to shower a long time ago, but she had seen Su Yuyang standing in the kitchen entrance when she first opened the door. She had wanted to see what would happen between these two, so she had shut the door again without a sound—leaving a crack she could peek through.
Who knew that they’d start butting heads first thing in the morning, making Yan Li feel even more awkward about going out. Now she heard Ling Miao calling her and had no choice but to go out and join them.
Yan Li straightened her clothing and walked out, her emotions strung tight.
“We’re not that close.”
Ling Miao mercilessly cut off Su Yuyang’s words.
Su Yuyang froze and unwillingly swallowed the words that had risen in his throat.
Yan Li lowered her head to drink her congee but continued to watch Su Yuyang. Seeing Su Yuyang’s expression of ‘having something to say but not being able to say it,’ she sighed: There’s still a long way to go!
Su Yuyang bad-temperedly hmphed. Ling Miao let out a delighted noise: “Mm-hm.”
With a sigh, Su Yuyang said weakly, “Ling Miao, please get me a bowl of congee.”
“Sorry, I didn’t make your share,” Ling Miao decisively rejected Su Yuyang’s request. He got himself a bowl of congee and sat down, completely ignoring Su Yuyang.
Su Yuyang’s anger came to a boil and he slammed his chopsticks on the table. Yan Li was shocked by the sudden sound and her head shot up, her gaze landing on Su Yuyang’s enraged face. She kicked Su Yuyang under the table indicating to him that he should calm down, but Su Yuyang glared at her and indignation seemed to shoot like smoke from his nostrils.
Ling Miao continued watching Su Yuyang, whose nostrils kept flaring. Su Yuyang’s expression of ‘trying to hold back anger and not explode’ made Ling Miao’s heart sing: “Good! Very, very good! Su Yuyang, you like to mess with me, right? Now I’ll mess with you, and if you don’t die from it I’ll change my last name to yours!”
If you don’t die from it, I’ll change my last name to yours? Xiao Miao, you’d better remember your own words!
Ling Miao’s mood had improved, and he drank his congee faster as a result. Not a minute had passed before he’d already finished his bowl.
As Ling Miao got himself a second serving, Su Yuyang smacked Ling Miao’s hand with a chopstick, and Ling Miao flinched in pain and let go of the ladle.
“Why’d you hit me?” Ling Miao complained.
Su Yuyang folded his arms across his chest and said calmly: “I paid for the ingredients, and now I don’t want you to eat any.”
“You want to eat raw rice? Cowpeas, radish—you’ll eat them all raw?” Ling Miao wouldn’t back down.
Su Yuyang said self-righteously, “Of course, I’ll eat them processed.”
“These things on the table. I processed them! So I’m not letting you have any!” Ling Miao was like a cock ready for a fight. His head was held high and his feathers were spread to show his pride.
Su Yuyang held the line: “I paid for the ingredients.”
Ling Miao huffed and said dismissively: “Yan-jie’s the one who wanted food.”
Cough cough—Suddenly hearing Ling Miao mention her name, Yan Li choked on her congee. Ling Miao and Su Yuyang simultaneously glanced at her and she awkwardly covered her mouth as she coughed. “You two continue. Don’t mind me.”
Su Yuyang and Ling Miao turned their gazes back on each other. Yan Li felt that sparks were flying between them—she could almost hear the crackle of fireworks going off.
“Then the food’s for Yan Yan to eat. What right do you have to the food?” Su Yuyang used Ling Miao’s own words against him. He thought Ling Miao would be rendered speechless, but Ling Miao smiled like a cat that got the canary, spread his hands and smiled: “Yan-jie said that she’s responsible for my food and board.”
Another violent fit of coughing. Yan Li looked at Ling Miao in bewilderment and thought, When did I say that?
But Yan Li wasn’t willing to hit Ling Miao in the face.
Silence is golden, silence is golden, Yan Li repeated to herself, and didn’t look at either Su Yuyang or Ling Miao.
Yan Li didn’t say anything, so Su Yuyang didn’t know if what Ling Miao said was true, but Ling Miao said happily: “Silence is admission. Su Yuyang, if you want to eat, pay up. Taking out the ingredient cost, I’ll charge you five yuan for this breakfast.” Ling Miao stretched his hand out to Su Yuyang, who put a red Grandpa Mao in it and said fiercely: “I don’t have a five-yuan. Take this hundred for twenty days!”
Ling Miao put the money in his pocket and said generously: “I’ll give you a discount. Today is on me.”
Su Yuyang glared at Ling Miao and sat down to eat, but didn’t find an extra bowl. He gave a derisive snort and glanced at Ling Miao in dissatisfaction. He smiled as he said, “Boss Ling, don’t you give your customers bowls and chopsticks?”
“Chopsticks are next to you, bowls are in the kitchen. Go get your own,” Ling Miao said with his mouth full as he drank congee.
Su Yuyang took a deep breath. Ling Miao’s current attitude infuriated him, and if not for Yan Li to one side warning him to watch himself, he’d certainly have picked up Ling Miao and tossed him out.
As for whether he would toss Ling Miao out through the window or through the door… he genuinely didn’t know
Like a crazed bull, Su Yuyang made for the kitchen in a rage. He didn’t take a bowl, however, instead taking the ladle usually meant for soup.
Ling Miao had brought the entire pot of congee to the dining table. Su Yuyang walked out of the kitchen, picked up the whole pot, and put it in front of himself. He tipped most of the meat and cowpeas into the pot, then used the ladle to wolf down the food.
As Yan Li watched Su Yuyang act like a child throwing a tantrum, her mouth fell open and she couldn’t close it. She suspected that Su Yuyang was either possessed or had gone insane from writing novels.
Ling Miao stared at Su Yuyang. He hadn’t thought that a single line from him would make Su Yuyang explode.
Fuck, I only asked you to get your own bowl. Did you need to do this? Also, I still want porridge! Aaaaaaaaaah!
Ling Miao silently howled. He glared at Su Yuyang angrily and was about to say something to stop him when Yan Li pulled at his sleeve.
“What exactly went down between you and him?” Yan Li asked worriedly.
Ling Miao could see Yan Li’s worry for Su Yuyang in her eyes, and only then did he realize something was wrong here.
Ling Miao didn’t know how to answer Yan Li. She said worriedly: “In school, this guy was famous for being a cool cucumber. Calm and cool. Aside from novels, nothing stirs his emotions. He’s always been like that, but Feng-zi told me that since you appeared, he’s no longer the same. So I want to know what went down between you two to make him change so much.”
Yan Li observed Su Yuyang with a sigh. On hearing her words, Ling Miao’s heart jolted as if someone were jumping up and down in it.
Ling Miao thought over the various details of his interactions with Su Yuyang and grimaced: “What could have gone down between me and him? Every day, he gives me hell, I quarrel with him, and after we quarrel life returns to its normal calm. That’s just it. Over and over.
“After a while, I started to feel that he was intentionally messing with me. It’s like not messing with me for a single day would kill him. So I quit. No one can stand a boss who picks on you every day with the worst of intentions, right? As for that, I did talk to him, but… bottom line is, a leopard never changes its spots.”
From this, Yan Li could be even more sure of one thing: To Su Yuyang, Ling Miao was something special.
In the time it took Yan Li and Ling Miao to have this quiet conversation, Su Yuyang had finished the pot of congee. He wiped his mouth and said reluctantly, “Ah, there’s too little congee.”
Ling Miao laughed coldly: “Next time I’ll make an entire pot for you, using your soup pot, and if you don’t finish it…” Ling Miao didn’t mention the consequences, but his strange smile made the hairs on Su Yuyang’s back stand up.
If Su Yuyang remembered right, that soup pot was four times the height of the one before him now!
Having eaten and drunk her fill, Yan Li went back to her room to do her makeup. Ling Miao washed dishes in the kitchen and Su Yuyang stood idly in the kitchen doorway watching Ling Miao do the dishes. Ling Miao felt a pair of eyes on his back and turned to see Su Yuyang watching him with a faint smile. Ling Miao threw the dishcloth in his hand toward Su Yuyang, warning: “Keep looking and I’ll throw a bowl next time.”
The dishcloth didn’t hit Su Yuyang’s face.
Su Yuyang picked up the dishcloth and walked to Ling Miao’s side. Ling Miao wanted to tell Su Yuyang to leave, but Su Yuyang’s dejected face made his words stop dead in their tracks.
“What’s the matter?” Ling Miao asked coldly.
Su Yuyang put a hand on Ling Miao’s head. His faint smile was slightly sorrowful.
He asked, “Why do you hate me so much?”
Ling Miao retorted, “You hated me first.”
Su Yuyang asked: “Since when do I hate you?”
“You keep playing tricks on me. What is that, if not hate? Su Yuyang, sometimes I really don’t understand you. You clearly hate me, but you still want me to be your assistant. I quit, and you want me to come back. What exactly is it you’re trying to do?”