The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
Yan Li called in the evening to inquire after Su Yuyang. Ling Miao replied that he was fine, but from his tone Yan Li could tell that things were not ‘fine.’ Evidently, things were not fine in the least! Yan Li sighed and didn’t say more. Ling Miao comforted her, telling her to rest easy and to prepare for the concert instead. He would take care of Su Yuyang.
Yan Li wasn’t sure if Ling Miao would take care of Su Yuyang properly, since he didn’t get on well with Su Yuyang. But upon further thought, aside from Ling Miao, there wasn’t anyone else suitable to take care of Su Yuyang. Feng Ji? Forget it; he has a business to run. She herself was a woman. Unless… Ji Linxi? Forget it. Better Ling Miao.
“Thank you, Ling Miao,” Yan Li said sincerely.
Ling Miao smiled and lowered his eyes, looking at Su Yuyang lovingly. He said softly: “Nothing to thank me for. Yan Li, I love Su Yuyang, so I’ll take care of him properly. When he wakes up, I’ll tell him.”
Yan Li cried out. Ling Miao heard a woman’s scream and the sound of a foot stamping—probably, Ling Miao’s words had scared Yan Li so much that she had lost her balance and almost fallen. Yan Li clutched her chest and panted lightly: “Ling Miao, if you scare me to death, I don’t have a second life!”
Ling Miao retorted: “I’m telling the truth. How is that scaring you?”
Yan Li paced back and forth in the room and asked uncertainly: “Ling Miao, you’re not joking, are you?”
“Why would I lie to you? Or should I say, why would I lie to myself?” Ling Miao’s voice grew gentler. Yan Li could hear Ling Miao’s regret and fear, so she put away the suspicion in her heart. She exhaled and said thoughtfully: “Mountain roads are winding. This is a real twist. Tsk tsk tsk, Ling Miao, for a while you were raring to avoid Su Yuyang for life. Now, you refuse to leave Su Yuyang. I really can’t understand people in love.”
“I just don’t want to regret anything.” Ling Miao sighed. “People are like that sometimes. Too many things at once makes the mind freeze up, but if there’s a stimulus, things will become clear again. Su Yuyang’s coma made me afraid. I’m scared he’ll stay like this and not wake up. When I saw him in my arms, when I saw the color disappear from his face and felt his skin grow cold… looking at him and feeling the various signs that he was going from bad to worse, I felt like I’d fallen into an ice cavern. It was cold and dark, and I didn’t have the strength to call for help.
“Speaking of which, I think I fell for Su Yuyang a long, long time ago, but I just didn’t see things clearly.
“Yan-jie, I don’t want to regret, so even if… even if he really doesn’t wake up, I want to be with him to the end.”
“Don’t be silly,” Yan Li berated. “Of course he will wake up. Do you have such little faith in him?” Besides, with you around, can he die in peace? Ah, pfeh pfeh pfeh!
Ling Miao didn’t hear Yan Li’s silent complaints, and what she had said to him entered his ears but not his heart.
Always plan for the worst. Ling Miao was like that.
Su Yuyang not making it—was definitely the worst-case scenario.
“Yan-jie, thank you.” Ling Miao said this solely for Yan Li’s benefit. Yan Li didn’t know Ling Miao well, so when Ling Miao said this she believed he’d taken her words to heart. If she had been Ji Linxi, she would already have been on the way to Su Yuyang’s house.
Yan Li looked at the time and asked: “Xiao Miao, I know this isn’t the right time, but I still want to ask you something. Can I?”
Ling Miao said dismissively: “Ask away.”
“What’s Ji Linxi’s number, and where does he work?” Yan Li asked haltingly, evidently embarrassed
Ling Miao laughed delightedly. As his laughter reached Yan Li’s ears, she went red in the face.
Ling Miao exclaimed, “Yan-jie, you get shy too?”
“Up yours.” Yan Li was fooled by Ling Miao’s laughter. She put away the kid gloves and returned to her usual demeanor.
Ling Miao laughed even more delightedly, and it took another curse from Yan Li for him to stop. He said, still giggling: “What will I get if I tell you?”
Yan Li had anticipated Ling Miao would negotiate terms. She said generously: “We can exchange. You tell me about Ji Linxi, and I’ll tell you about Su Yuyang!” It’s a little unethical to sell information about my friends, but Old Su, for the sake of getting me a boyfriend, forgive me this once! Also, it might be that selling information about you gets you love! What Ling Miao feels for you is definitely true love!
It had to be said that Ling Miao found Yan Li’s terms very attractive. But there were things he wanted to find out on his own, so he refused. “I know a lot about Su Yuyang, but you don’t know anything about Ji Linxi except his name. It’s a pretty unfair exchange!”
“Then what do you want? As long as I can do it—even if it’s my skin you want—I’ll do it!” Yan Li conceded defeat. She really couldn’t think of anything else she had that might interest Ling Miao.
‘Even if it’s my skin you want, I’ll do it?’ Yan-jie, exactly how much do you love Ji Linxi? Or are you talking big since it costs nothing?’
Ling Miao pretended to think about it a little, then said: “Yan-jie, actually, there’s nothing I want. I just wanted to test you. Linxi’s my good friend, and I hope he finds someone who loves him and whom he loves. Although I think your feelings for him grew too quickly, I believe that you truly love him. I like Su Yuyang, so I trust his friends. Maybe people would call me silly for saying that, but I’m an idiot through and through.” As Ling Miao spoke, his tone grew more and more sorrowful.
Yan Li was afraid Ling Miao would have a breakdown, so she quickly made an excuse and hung up the phone.
Since returning home, Ling Miao had been editing Su Yuyang’s drafts. If not for Yan Li’s call, he would have completely forgotten the time.
Ling Miao looked at the words ‘Call ended’ on the screen, then tossed the phone to one side. Hie gaze landed on Su Yuyang, whose movements and expression were exactly the same as they had been earlier that afternoon. Ling Miao kissed Su Yuyang, then got up and went to the bathroom.
Ling Miao filled a basin with warm water and returned to the room.
He soaked a towel in the water and wrung it half-dry.
Forehead, eyes, nose bridge, nose tip, jaw, temple, ears. As if polishing an intricate piece of porcelain, Ling Miao didn’t leave any corner untouched. After cleaning his face, Ling Miao pulled aside the blanket and carefully removed Su Yuyang’s shirt. He rubbed Su Yuyang’s body with a wet cloth, just as thoroughly, not missing a spot. Once his upper body had been cleaned, Ling Miao removed Su Yuyang’s trousers. And then he wasn’t sure how to proceed.
Su Yuyang’s lower body had to be cleaned too, but that was too intimate. Su Yuyang and Ling Miao’s relationship, currently, was just that of people who knew each other.
“Fuck, we’re both men. What you have, I also have. I’m not afraid of you!” Ling Miao gave himself some encouragement and decidedly stripped off the last of Su Yuyang’s coverings.
Actually, there was a second half to Ling Miao’s sentence: Fuck, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before!
After cleaning Su Yuyang’s body, Ling Miao put pajamas on Su Yuyang and covered him with a blanket.
He took the dirty clothes into the bathroom, following which there was the splashing sound of water.
Ling Miao stood under the showerhead and let the warm water run over his tired body. Tears brimmed in his slightly reddened eyes.
“Su Yuyang, Su Yuyang, Su Yuyang…” Ling Miao murmured Su Yuyang’s name, as if repeatedly calling to Su Yuyang would make him hear his plea. As if, when Ling Miao returned to the bedroom, he would see Su Yuyang with his eyes open and Su Yuyang would say: “Xiao Miao, you’re back?”
“Su Yuyang, didn’t you want me to come back? Now I’m back, but you’re fucking unconscious. You’re a bastard, a complete and utter bastard!” Ling Miao’s heartrending cries were muffled by the sound of the water. He clutched his chest and leaned against the wall, slowly sliding down to sit on the tiled floor.
An unknown amount of time later, a phone rang. Ling Miao shut off the water and walked out without putting his clothes on.
It was Su Yuyang’s phone ringing.
“‘MM?’” Looking at the screen, Ling Miao was confused.
“Hello?” Ling Miao’s voice was hoarse, so unpleasant that the callee almost hung up. Only, she had called her son, but the person who had picked up wasn’t her son, so she was suspicious.
“Where’s Xiao Yu?”
Ling Miao glanced at Su Yuyang lying unresponsive and grimaced: “He’s writing.”
“Who are you and why is my son’s phone with you?” The woman’s suspicions lessened a little but her tone was hard.
Now Ling Miao understood what ‘MM’ referred to. He sniffed and replied: “Hello, Aunt. I’m his assistant, Ling Miao.”
“An assistant? The one who quit, or a new one?” Su Yuyang’s mother asked curiously.
“The one who quit, but I’m back now.”
“Since you quit, don’t be an assistant any more. Be Xiao Yu’s boyfriend… I mean…” Su Yuyang’s mom’s words were garbled. She seemed to be trying to explain something, but it turned into a weak sigh.
Ling Miao was aware of her worries. He explained: “Aunt, you don’t need to worry. I know Su-ge likes men.”
“Then you…” Su Yuyang’s mom began, then stopped again.
“I? I like… I like men too.” Ling Miao caressed Su Yuyang’s face, his tone full of love.
On hearing this, Su Yuyang’s mom’s initial worry was instantly replaced by joy. She probed: “Then what do you think of Xiao Yu?”
“He’s very good,” Ling Miao said approvingly. “But he doesn’t seem to like me. Aunt, matters of the heart can’t be forced.”
Ling Miao said this for Su Yuyang’s mother’s benefit, but also for his own. He had made up his mind that before confirming Su Yuyang’s feelings toward himself, he wouldn’t tell Su Yuyang that he liked him! Mm, he’d also remember to tell Feng Ji, Yan Li, and Ji Linxi so that they wouldn’t carelessly let the cat out of the bag.
“Ah.” Su Yuyang’s mother shook her head weakly. She hadn’t seen her son in several years, and of the men who had been at Su Yuyang’s side, she hadn’t wanted to let go of a single one. She just hoped her son would bring one home to see her soon.
“Aunt, do you want Su-ge to come to the phone?” Ling Miao said nervously.
“No need,” Su Yuyang’s mother said considerately. If Su Yuyang knew she had called, he’d definitely come to the phone, but she knew he shouldn’t be interrupted while writing. So she asked Ling Miao to tell Su Yuyang that she had sent dumplings and to remember to sign for them.
“Su Yuyang, your mother sent dumplings over. If you don’t wake up, I’ll eat them all and not leave a single one for you!” Ling Miao bent down and kissed Su Yuyang, and didn’t break away for a long time.