No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 24: Cupcake
The second Adrian and Zhong Yan walked through the doors, the bustling canteen was washed over with a strange silence.
Both of them were accustomed to receiving the attention of a crowd. Adrian casually sat himself down on an empty seat, while Zhong Yan sat directly opposite of him.
During their usual missions, Adrian would always eat at the canteen with the other soldiers. It was well known that this young commander did not have much arrogance in private, and was very well-received. If there were no military officers joining him in his meal, he would usually pick a seat in front of one of the normal soldiers who was dining alone. Sometimes, when they saw him sitting alone, there would also be soldiers who would sit with him regardless of their ranks in the army.
But of course, nobody had been doing that recently. They had heard the news that the commander had been in a disastrous mood lately, and his temper was about ten times more violent than usual; nobody wanted to be willingly smitten.
Right now, the source of the problem himself was sitting opposite of their commander at the same table, ready for lunch…
Some people silently sped up their pace for fear of the big bang of the century possibly blowing up the next minute or so, and getting their innocent selves caught up in it; there were also the gutsier ones who slowed down their pace so they could watch Navi Military Command’s unmentionable taboo man.
Zhong Yan did not pay attention to the surrounding atmosphere; he was looking through the virtual menu displayed on the table.
In combat-type warships like this one, the non-combat areas were designed to be very simple for the sake of saving space. The tables used in the dining hall were narrow and long, just wide enough to fit a meal tray for the person sitting on the opposite side. With such a narrow distance, there was no need to embed a virtual menu on the surface in front of each diner’s seat, just one was enough for two to share. There was a virtual screen perpendicular to the table right in the middle, and the image was visible on both sides.
Zhong Yan skimmed through a few pages, and just when he was about to order a regular looking bowl of noodles, Adrian suddenly caught his wrist.
The hearts of all the people focusing on them jumped—What’s happening? Are they going to fight?
“That’s spicy,” said Adrian as he let him go.
“Oh.” Zhong Yan gave up on the noodles; he did not eat spicy food.
After going through a few more pages, Zhong Yan’s eyes lit up. There were actually desserts on the very last page. The selection was small with just a few of the classics available, but they had a cupcake amongst them, though it was not dressed up in any fancy decorations. It did not look remarkable, but…he had been too busy recently. It had been a long time since he has had any sweets.
Just as Zhong Yan was about to order one, Adrian caught his wrist again.
“What’s wrong? Is this also spicy?”
“Are you going to skip lunch if you order that?”
“Isn’t it good if I save you some money?”
“Well thank you very much, I’ll accept your thoughtfulness.” Adrian was still holding onto his wrist, unwilling to let go, while his other hand flipped the menu away from the desserts section, “Get a proper meal.”
Zhong Yan glared at him over the virtual screen. “I want to eat cake.”
“No can do.” Adrian snarked maliciously, “It’s cute of you to think you can just come to my place and eat cake. It’s nice enough for me to even let you eat.”
Since he was now residing under his roof, Zhong Yan could only order a proper meal with disappointment. But when it came Adrian’s turn to order, Adrian ordered a meal and added a cupcake right in front of him before slowly turning off the virtual screen.
Zhong Yan was so mad that he could not speak. After a while, both of their meals arrived. Zhong Yan stared at the cupcake on the corner of Adrian’s tray and could not help but ask, “I thought you didn’t eat sweets?”
“I ordered it for decoration,” he responded. “When I’m sick of looking at it, I’ll throw it away.”
“And you call yourself a soldier. It’s shameful to waste food!”
“The person least qualified to say that is you,” Adrian retorted. “Speak to me again if you can finish what you ordered.”
Zhong Yan looked down at the portion size of the meal in front of him and was stunned for a moment.
His appetite had always been very small, and for many years, he had always been cooking based on how much he could eat; but things were a little more awkward when it came to eating out. Not being able to finish a single person’s portion was normal for him.
In the past, when he was still in the Supreme Institution, he would need to divide a portion of his food for Adrian every time they ate outside to avoid having leftovers.
What’s more, the canteen in the warship had larger portions than usual. For him, it really did seem…impossible to finish.
This was the Navi Military Command’s warship, it would be too unsightly of him to leave half of his food untouched with so many of Navi’s men watching him. Zhong Yan began to regret not having insisted on just having a small cake. Since he missed that chance, he should just pack it up and be done with it; going hungry was better than letting others see him leave behind most of his meal…
With his cutlery in hand, Zhong Yan was in a dilemma. Suddenly, Adrian who was sitting across from him pushed his own tray forward.
Zhong Yan was stunned. He was much too familiar to this action: before they started eating in the past, Adrian would always push his tray forward just like this if he ever made a difficult face, signaling for Zhong Yan to portion some of his food to him, and it had already become a tacit agreement between them. Later on, when they ate in public, Zhong Yan would only need to give Adrian a glance before he would help him portion away some of his food without having to say anything.
“What are you waiting for?” Adrian grunted impatiently. “You’re not actually planning to waste the food on my ship, are you?”
Zhong Yan quickly took the tray.
The people in the canteen were horrified to see the councilman, their commander’s worst enemy, scooping out half of his food over to the commander’s tray in a very natural manner. After that, he even tidied up the position of the broccoli and the salad with his spoon. After fixing everything up, he passed the tray back.
Adrian frowned. “You’re only eating that much? Even rabbits eat more than you do.”
Zhong Yan’s eyes brightened. “That depends on what species of rabbit it is. Adult giant space rabbits eat more than you.”
Most of the time, Zhong Yan was not a man of many words, and would even end up more of the silent type when it came to speaking with strangers; but when giant space rabbits were mentioned, things would always go out of control. Adrian recalled back to many years ago when he had been dragged into a two-hour supplemental lesson on “how normal rabbits mutate into giant space rabbits” and “100 habits and characteristics of the giant space rabbit”, and as any wise man would, he chose to shut his mouth. Instead of lingering on that topic, he decided instead to reflect deeply upon himself.
There were so many animals that did not eat much, why did he have to choose a rabbit?
Zhong Yan brought the little cupcake with him and sat in Adrian’s office.
Adrian was sitting behind his desk, handling his business. His office terminal was one-way so he could not see its contents. Thinking about it, it probably consisted of the ship’s internal affairs. After all, the signal was unstable during navigation, and it was not very easy to contact land.
Zhong Yan stared at Adrian’s profile and daydreamed for a while. Then, he placed the cupcake—the one that took him much effort to get Adrian to agree to give him—carefully on the corner of his desk before turning on his own terminal to write his reports. He was going to send it back to the capital as soon as he landed.
“Why do I have to stay for half a month?” Halfway through his report, Zhong Yan stopped to ask, “I can’t just tell the capital that you’re forcing me to pay the marriage refusal fines, right?”
Without even lifting his head, Adrian responded, “You could also choose to pay the fines now, then you can return as soon as we’re done discussing business.”
Zhong Yan said, “Why don’t you pay the fines now? Even if you detain me for half a month, I still won’t give you the money. You still pay to pay it when the deadlines come. You’re just wasting time.”
“You might not be able to handle the consequences if you don’t hand over the money before the deadline.” Adrian paused his work to glare coldly at Zhong Yan. “Do you think I would allow a councilman to share spousal rights with me? Don’t even talk about keeping your clothes then, you shouldn’t even dream about keeping your terminal.”
Zhong Yan had to admit that this was indeed a powerful threat. In this day and age, you were practically disabled without a personal terminal; not to mention someone with such a high status as him. If he were at a distant star system without his terminal, the entire department below him would come to a complete halt without any ability to work remotely.
But if you asked him to pay…
There was still half a month, there was time to think about it more. With a headache, Zhong Yan shut off his terminal. He picked up the cupcake and began to nibble on it.
“Are there any people in your ship wearing a similar size to me?” Zhong Yan spent much effort to roll up his sleeves to reveal his hand, “The sleeves keep falling down even after I roll them up, it’s too troublesome.”
Adrian raised his head to look at the man wrapped in his jacket. He imagined if that jacket was switched out for someone else’s, and immediately felt offended.
“No. If anyone tries to join the army with a body like yours, they’ll be the first to go.”
Zhong Yan wanted to say more, but he was interrupted by a knock on the door.
Only then did Adrian remember that the destroyed communicator in the room had yet to be repaired. He asked aloud, “What is it?”
“Commander, Adjutant Suster’s fleet has converged with ours.”
“Tell him to board the warship and wait for me in the conference room. I have something to speak with him about.”
Zhong Yan stopped filling himself with the cake. The cake suddenly did not feel as appetizing to him as before.
Adrian felt suspicious as he watched him put the cake down before he left. Did he choke?
It had not been very long since Adrian left the office when another knock came from the door.
Zhong Yan hesitated, but he still went over to open it. He thought that Adrian might have locked him in here, but he never expected the door to actually open. There was a patrolman standing outside.
“A…Your commander went out,” announced Zhong Yan.
“I know, I came to look for you.” As he said that, the patrolman nervously handed him a glass of water.
Zhong Yan accepted it and asked in suspicion, “What’s this?”
“It is a glass of water.”
Zhong Yan felt even more suspicious. “…Why are you giving me a glass of water?”
For a moment, the patrolman did not know how to answer him. Earlier, Adrian stopped him, and told him to “pour a glass of water for that guy in my office, but don’t tell him I asked you to do it.”
“I…If there’s nothing else you need, I’ll be taking my leave.”
Saying that, the patrol left speedily, leaving the confused Zhong Yan behind with the glass of water.