The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
Ling Miao slumped bonelessly over the table like a heap of wet dirt. All around, curious, concerned, or greedy gazes swept over him, but he ignored them all. The only thing that had made his expression change was just now, when a man had called out “Su—-”
Not Su Yuyang.
These words were all that slipped through Ling Miao’s mind.
Why are you this concerned for Su Yuyang? Do you like him, and if so, what’s the nature of your liking for him?
Ji Linxi’s words circled repeatedly in Ling Miao’s mind. Again and again they sounded, like the cry of cicadas in summer.
Concern for Su Yuyang? Since when am I concerned about him?
Ling Miao thought self-effacingly.
But… when Ling Miao thought about Su Yuyang’s paper-white pallor, and his breathing that seemed like it would stop at any time, his hands reflexively balled into fists at his sides. He felt strongly that he was trying to hold something tight in the palm of his hand.
All this time, Ling Miao’s liking for Su Yuyang was just that of a fan for his idol—liking, mixed in with respect.
All along Ling Miao had thought this, but now Ji Linxi’s words made him think about it again. As he thought it over, his mind started to become confused. As if looking for a needle in a haystack, Ling Miao searched again and again, but without tools in his hands, he failed again and again.
“Are you dead?” A man’s teasing voice reached Ling Miao’s ears. Ling Miao blankly raised his head to look at the speaker, whom he only glanced at before lowering his head again. He sat down beside Ling Miao and turned Ling Miao’s head to look at him. He smiled as he said: “Ah, Su Yuyang can’t keep lying in my house, right? So, I’ll trouble you to bring him home.”
The man was Feng Ji.
Ling Miao was about to retort when he saw Ji Linxi walk over carrying Su Yuyang on his back.
Su Yuyang’s arms dangled in front of Ji Linxi’s chest like two limp noodles. His pallor looked much better than before, but Ling Miao’s heart still went cold when he looked at it. Ji Linxi walked around Ling Miao and carried Su Yuyang out. Ling Miao got up and was about to go after them but stopped when he saw Feng Ji’s laughing eyes.
Feng Ji tilted his head and asked: “Do you have anything to say?”
Ling Miao froze, then shook his head.
“This is Yuyang’s old illness. It’s not clear why it flares up, but based on past experience, he’ll be fine once he sleeps for a while. If he doesn’t wake up in a week, call me.” As Feng Ji got to ‘a week’ the smile on his face had completely gone, and his eyes were full of despondence.
“He’s seen a doctor before, right?” Ling Miao said, his breathing erratic, anxiety filtering through his voice so that anyone listening could hear his worry.
Feng Ji took a deep breath and patted Ling Miao’s shoulder. “He did, but it didn’t help much. Take care of Yuyang. These are the things you need to watch out for.”
Taking the paper Feng Ji proffered, Ling Miao read the dense set of instructions on the page. Surprised, he asked: “You often took care of him before?”
“I was his housemate and once was his boyfriend. If I didn’t take care of him, who would? Oh, Xiao Li did too.” Feng Ji seemed to worry that Ling Miao would misunderstand, so he added Yan Li to the list too. He wasn’t lying, technically.
“Yuyang’s illness comes and goes.” Feng Ji lit a cigarette and said thoughtfully: “A doctor once mentioned this possibility: Yuyang does this in self-defense. He’s trying to run away from something but can’t escape it, so he avoids it in this way.”
“What’s he running from?” Ling Miao’s eyes flashed as if he had found a way to make Su Yuyang wake up.
Feng Ji shook the ash from his cigarette, the conflict deepening on his face.
“Running from having to make a decision, running from having to think. How would I know what he’s avoiding? After all…” Feng Ji cut himself off halfway.
Ling Miao pressed: “Feng Ji, after all what? Tell me!”
Ling Miao’s worry, Ling Miao’s unease, Ling Miao’s concern for Su Yuyang—the various emotions Ling Miao demonstrated gave Feng Ji a glimpse of an opportunity.
If he couldn’t find a way in on Su Yuyang’s side, perhaps he could find one on Ling Miao’s side…
At this point Feng Ji started to doubt again. “If we tell Ling Miao our thoughts like they’re fact, will Ling Miao be led by them, so that he makes a decision that isn’t from his heart?”
“Feng Ji?” Ling Miao called urgently.
Feng Ji gave a start. With a dry laugh he said: “Ah? What is it?”
“You didn’t finish saying what you wanted to. What’s after ‘After all…?’” Ling Miao was less hurried than before. He had covered all his panic with calm, his brilliant eyes showing his resolution. No matter what Feng Ji said, he would accept it.
Feng Ji took a drag on his cigarette. He watched the white smoke rise and envelope Ling Miao in a thin veil. Everything blurred aside from Ling Miao’s eyes, which were unusually bright.
Feng Ji asked thoughtfully: “Ling Miao, you’re so concerned about Su Yuyang. Why is that?”
“A fan for hs idol,” Ling Miao replied without even thinking twice.
Feng Ji nodded. “Indeed. So, go and take care of your idol.”
Ji Linxi carried Su Yuyang to the car, and for a long time Ling Miao didn’t follow. He stood at the door and looked in. Seeing Feng Ji and Ling Miao talking he went back to the car.
Ji Linxi had just shut the car door when Ling Miao walked over.
“You drive.” Ling Miao sat in the back of the car, supporting Su Yuyang. He rearranged Su Yuyang’s sitting position so that he’d sleep more comfortably.
Ji Linxi watched Ling Miao’s actions in the back seat and grimaced.
After Ji Linxi and the others had left, Feng Ji sent a text to Yan Li giving her a summary of what had transpired at W&S. At the end, he gave his own conclusion: Even if we think that Ling Miao’s liking for Su Yuyang is of the romantic kind, Ling Miao isn’t wrong either. Everything he did for Su Yuyang is something a fan would do for their idol. We’d better retreat.
Feng Ji had thoroughly washed his hands of the matters between Ling Miao and Su Yuyang.
Matters of the heart needed to be discovered by oneself. The push and pull from outsiders might seem to accelerate the development of the relationship, but it might also cause the relationship to fall apart due to a weak foundation.
Yan Li seemed to be resting. After sending the text, Feng Ji received a reply before long.
Yan Li’s reply was a single word: Alright.
The matter concluded, Feng Ji felt much more relaxed but his chest still felt heavy.
A white horse cruised steadily among the cars.
It had to be said that Ji Linxi drove much better than Ling Miao.
W&S was about a ten-minute walk from Su Yuyang’s house, but Ji Linxi also took ten minutes to drive the same distance.
On the way, Ling Miao looked out the window, but his hands subconsciously stroked Su Yuyang’s cheek.
The car pulled up beside Su Yuyang’s apartment. Ling Miao was still looking out the window and didn’t get out of the car. Ji Linxi turned around and called: “Ling Miao, we’re here.”
Ling Miao didn’t respond.
Ji Linxi got out of the car and opened the rear door, yelling: “Ling Miao, we’re here, get out of the car!”
Ling Miao’s blank expression shifted a little. He looked at Ji Linxi and asked: “Linxi, why did you come over?”
“So fast?” Ling Miao showed surprise, his mouth even dropping open exaggeratedly.
Ling Miao resembled a terminally ill patient, as if his life would be harvested by the Grim Reaper at any time.
Ji Linxi had lived with Ling Miao for five years and understood him pretty well. Ling Miao was thick-skinned, quick to panic when something went wrong, and as explosive as a barrel of gunpowder. But at any time, you could feel the spark of life coming from him. In five years, this was the first time Ji Linxi saw Ling Miao like this: his entire being like a withered tree in the desert. Withered branches tangled together, as if a single spark would set him alight and turn him to ash.
Ji Linxi wasn’t sure how to get Ling Miao to recover. All he could do now was help Ling Miao carry Su Yuyang upstairs.
Without them realizing, the day had grown overcast with dark, gray clouds covering the clear sky. Without warning, rain began to fall.
Ji Linxi stood outside the car, rain quickly soaking him through, but Ling Miao didn’t seem to notice Ji Linxi’s pitiful state. He picked Su Yuyang up and cradled him, murmuring: “Su Yuyang, this guy— he’s afraid of the cold. Even if it’s just a little wind, he wants a jacket. The weather today is strange. It’s June, but it’s still so cool. That’s not normal.”
Ji Linxi let the rain keep falling on him. This wasn’t because he didn’t want to get an umbrella to shelter under, but because Ling Miao’s words had frozen him to the spot.
Shock exploded through Ji Linxi’s heart. He looked at Ling Miao and asked: “You…”
Hugging Su Yuyang, Ling Miao said tenderly: “Linxi, I think I understand.”
“Understand what?” Ji Linxi asked hopefully.
Ling Miao just smiled and didn’t say anything.
“Whatever it is you understood, I believe you made the right choice.” Ji Linxi patted Ling Miao’s shoulder encouragingly.
Ji Linxi popped the trunk, picked up an umbrella from a corner, and held it out to Ling Miao. “Go upstairs. I’ll park the car.”
Ling Miao looked at the umbrella in Ji Linxi’s hands and pushed it back. “I’ll park the car. You go back first. I was going to treat you to dinner, but I got you rained on instead.”
Ji Linxi said dismissively: “I’ve been rained on before. Only… can you get Su Yuyang up on your own?”
“Don’t underestimate me!” Ling Miao called softly, a smile on his lips. “Linxi, if…” Hesitation, fear, worry—a lot of emotions mingling together, Ling Miao suddenly looked at Ji Linxi with a complicated expression on his face.
Ling Miao’s expression, his starting and stopping, and the fact that he said he’d ‘understood’ before—Ji Linxi guessed what Ling Miao was about to say.
Ji Linxi patted Ling Miao’s shoulder and said comfortingly: “Like I said, I believe you made the right choice. Since I believe in you, I’ll support you.”
With that, Ji Linxi pressed the car keys into Ling Miao’s hands, opened the umbrella, and walked toward his apartment.
“Thank you, Linxi.” Ling Miao watched Ji Linxi’s departing back grow blurrier the further he went, and the gratitude in his heart deepened.
If it wasn’t for Ji Linxi, if it wasn’t for Feng Ji, Ling Miao thought, there were things he might not have understood in his lifetime. He might have passed some people by and regretted it for life.
“Su Yuyang, now I understand. I understand why I’m so concerned about your feelings toward me, why I’m concerned about you. Su Yuyang, wake up, quickly. I’ll tell you first thing after you wake up. So, please don’t run away from me any more. Please, wake up!” Ling Miao said quietly by Su Yuyang’s ear.
A kiss landed on Su Yuyang’s lips.
The rain outside pattered joyfully against the car’s windows, as if stealing a peek at the sweetness within.