No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 32: Housework
Zhong Yan had been staring at the sweeping robot for a long time.
He was originally sitting in the living room so he could use the virtual screen projector there. This device could broadcast the terminal’s virtual screen into a larger size, which was convenient for work.
But ever since the sweeping robot started its work, his focus would involuntarily be attracted by it.
The sweeping robot used in Adrian’s residence was a small one in a round shape that was attached to the floor. It was relatively silent while activated, so logically, it should not distract the people who were working in the house; but unfortunately, after Zhong Yan had inadvertently caught sight of the sweeping robot in between the gaps of his documents, he could no longer move his eyes away.
But it was not his fault; the workflow of this sweeping robot did not seem quite perfect enough; there was a corner of the dining table at the side of the living room that it could not clean.
Zhong Yan watched as the sweeping robot approached the area again, and cleaned the ground dutifully for a second time, but it just could not clean the palm-sized piece of ground right beside the table.
After completing one round of its cleaning procedures, the sweeping robot slid out of the living room and sent itself back into the storage room.
Zhong Yan, “…”
Adrian parked his car with his heart heavy with thought. As soon as he entered the house, the first thing he saw was Zhong Yan with his entire body underneath the dining table; he was kneeling on the ground and wiping the ground beside the foot of the table with a rag.
He had his back towards the door, and he was wearing Adrian’s white shirt. Because of his forward-leaning posture, a section of his smooth and fair waist was revealed.
Adrian had wanted to interrogate him about Pearson as soon as he came back, but he suddenly felt his throat getting parched after being shown such an abrupt scene; he had completely forgotten what he was going to say.
Was Zhong Yan’s waist that thin? It almost looked like there was barely anything to hold. If he held him with both his hands, maybe…
“You’re back.” When Zhong Yan heard the noise, he slipped out from under the table.
Only then did Adrian realize what he was fantasizing about. He made a cough as if to hide his thoughts and put down the cake box in his hand. He asked, “What were you doing under the table?”
“There’s a spot that the sweeping robot kept missing.” Zhong Yan walked over to the open kitchen and washed the rag under the sink.
Since he was worried about getting his sleeves wet, he had them rolled up high. The wide cuffs made his arms look long and slender, and even though the shirt was clearly a pure white, his skin seemed to be even more sheer and snowy-white than it under the sunlight coming in from the french windows.
Zhong Yan busying himself with housework like this was a scene he had not seen for many a year.
They had always hated being peeped on in private, but with both of them being almost god-like figures in both their respective studies, they had succeeded in getting an exemption for the weekly school check for their humble dorm which housed the Chief of the School of Military Affairs, as well as the Student Council President. As nobody came to check, it was only natural that they could not compete in the various evaluations; however, Adrian was very sure that if they ever participated, that they would definitely win the title of “cleanest male dormitory in the whole school” every month.
Zhong Yan could take 150% of the credit for that. The extra 50% was to make up for Adrian, who liked to throw his clothes everywhere and left food all over the place, creating a negative impact to their dormitory’s environment.
Adrian looked at one side of the living room; due to him being in the house these past two days, the daily necessities left on the sofa and the coffee table were now properly cleaned after going to work for one day. However, it wasn’t the cold and ashen tidiness that was there before, his cups and other scattered items were now neatly placed on the table, giving it a very homely feel.
“Don’t wash it by hand, just throw it into the washer,” said Adrian as he took off his coat.
“It’s just a small cloth, I’m almost done.” Saying that, Zhong Yan left the rag to dry and washed his own hands before walking towards Adrian, picking up the coat he had thrown on the chair, and hung it on the coat hanger. Then, he took the cake he had casually set down and brought it to the refrigerator.
He did everything so naturally that neither of them noticed anything strange. Many years ago, Adrian had been used to Zhong Yan following behind him and cleaning up everything he had casually tossed around.
“I just came back from headquarters.” Adrian walked to Zhong Yan and was prepared to talk business with him. “And I have to ask…”
Since the clothes he brought over were confiscated by Adrian, the white shirt Zhong Yan was currently wearing was loaned to him by Adrian. It was too big for Zhong Yan, and he also had the first button loose. Due to their height difference, Adrian could see his collarbones that were revealed between his collar just as he looked down, and beneath those collarbones…
Adrian sucked in a breath, and suddenly forgot what he wanted to say.
“What did you want to ask?” Zhong Yan raised his head to look at him in confusion. He did not know why he suddenly stopped after speaking halfway. “Is there any other information about the Supreme Council that you want to know?”
“I…No.” Adrian turned his eyes away and was starting to get a little angry about his embarrassment. “Button up your shirt!”
“The temperature in the house is controlled. It’s not cold.”
…I wasn’t worried about you getting cold! Thought Adrian irritably. He will have to get a few sets of loungewear tomorrow, ones that fit. Zhong Yan was right, his clothes really were too big for him.
Seeing him remain silent, Zhong Yan went on, “The Capital gave me a clear response today. The Supreme Council has decided to send a few people to Navi’s primary star to retrieve me and Bayer.”
Hearing that, Adrian sneered. “Are they going to check on Navi’s military forces while they’re at it?”
“That is their idea. I told them that I have yet to recover from my injury, and am not suitable for long-distance travel, so they have not decided on the date yet.” Zhong Yan said, “When that time comes, you can send me out of Navi first. Since the signal they will be broadcasting is one for pickup, it will not be proper to insist on entering Navi after they have us.”
“Do you know who’s coming?”
“Not yet, but I will try to get my first-in-command assistant to lead the team.”
Adrian asked, “Isn’t that Bayer?”
“Oh, wasn’t Bayer ‘gravely injured’ and couldn’t work for a while? I assigned a subordinate to replace him and take care of things for now. He’s a young man with great potential. I’ll be better able to work out the dynamics if he’s in charge.”
A young man with great potential? Adrian’s interest was piqued. He tried to ask in an inadvertent manner, “It’s rare to hear praises from you, who is it?”
“Intron Gines, he had just entered the Supreme Council recently. Speaking of which, he’s an alumni like us, and he’s three years younger. We’re from the same major and learned under the same instructor in my third year, so you could say he’s my underclassman from the same department.” While saying that, Zhong Yan was ironing out any creases from Adrian’s military coat with a hand-held iron. “Our instructor has a very high evaluation of him as well, and he also has the instructor’s personal recommendation letter—even I didn’t get a recommendation letter from my instructor.”
Zhong Yan’s instructor from the Supreme Institution…Adrian was very sure that his name was on the list they got from the specimen store’s list.
Even though he appeared neutral in public, he was actually one of “Specimen’s” informants in the Supreme Institution amongst the highest-ranking teachers, and he was one of the professors engaged in the anti-AI movement. It was no wonder why Zhong Yan could not receive a recommendation letter from him. He accepted ‘Butterfly’s’ proposal. It would have been strange if the professor would write him a letter of recommendation after that.
But in truth, though Intron had also accepted ‘Butterfly’s’ proposal during his graduation, he still received a recommendation letter. Adrian was now even more confident that Intron had been a member of ‘Specimen’ since before he graduated. The so-called graduation letter was merely an operation within the members of their organization, and the reason why he could be so ‘lucky’ after graduating, ‘coincidentally’ entering the council as Zhong Yan’s subordinate must all be thanks to ‘Specimen’s’ work.
If he could speak face to face with the man ‘Specimen’ had planted by Zhong Yan’s side in the Supreme Council, that would be wonderful. Adrian was silent for a moment. Then he said, “In a few days, you can loosen up a bit and tell the capital that you’re recovering well.”
Zhong Yan turned back and looked at him doubtfully.
“They’re going to come anyway,” Adrian said very naturally, “They’ll start to get suspicious if you keep refusing them.”
“But I’ll have to go if they come get me.” As he said that, Zhong Yan’s voice lowered. “Didn’t you say that…I couldn’t leave before paying the fines?”
A twinge of sadness could be heard from his tone, and alongside it was something he could not speak of, but it was a desire that was clear to see. He eagerly wished he could stay longer so that he could be with Adrian for a few more days.
Adrian felt as if something was stuck in his throat, and a gush of impulse was brewing within his heart. He wanted to say that they could make up some other excuse, but mostly it was so he could allow Zhong Yan to stay behind in Navi—to stay with him.
Calm down, Adrian warned himself. Putting his hopes on the same person twice is a mistake only a fool could make, so don’t be that guy. What’s more, they were now standing in the frenzy of a changing era. He could never give up an opportunity to learn about important information just because of his own feelings.
“I do believe that since you’ve agreed to pay me the money, that a proper councilman such as yourself would not go back on your word.” Adrian pretended not to have heard the deeper implications of his words, and in the end, he replied, “After all, we are, to some extent, working together right now.”
“…Yeah.” Zhong Yan turned his gaze down and smiled reluctantly. “Since we’re partners now, can you take my name out of your communications blacklist?”
“No can do.” Adrian refused.
Zhong Yan had too great an influence on him. He had only been staying for a few days, but he could sense a small wave; he must not give himself any more opportunities for personal contact with Zhong Yan.
“I won’t bother you, just…if there’s anything, it’s easier to tell you right away. I received news from the Capital today, and I wanted to tell you as soon as I got it, but I couldn’t contact you.” Zhong Yan pleaded, “Just this half month, okay? When I return to the capital, I definitely would not dare to contact you under ‘Butterfly’s’ watch either…”
Adrian cut him off and refused once more. “No. If you have anything to say next time, you can just contact the headquarters’ reception. The communication details are available on our homepage. Tell them clearly what you need, and tell them to connect you to my personal line.”
Zhong Yan was visibly disappointed, but he still agreed obediently.
The light in his eyes dimmed, and he stood there in disarray. Adrian had originally wanted to ask him what the deal was between him and Pearson, but he could not find any way to ask now.
It would be the same if he asked tomorrow. Thinking that way, the words in his mouth involuntarily took a turn. “Do you want to eat the cake now? You can have your dinner a little later.”