No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 39: What Are You Looking At?
“The hell are you talking about?” Adrian responded, “I’m talking about pillows and blankets.”
Fayn asked, “What are you suddenly buying pillows and blankets for? What, are you sleeping separately now?”
Adrian could deeply feel that this topic could not go on any longer. He spat his words out through his gritted teeth, “We’ve always been sleeping separately.”
“Oh right, you only have one spare set at home. I’ve even slept on them before.” Fayn was even more puzzled now. “Then why are you buying new ones?”
Wasn’t it because that damned rabbit wouldn’t go in its nest? Adrian shot Zhong Yan a look that said: You wanted to buy the blankets, you deal with it.
So Zhong Yan did. Swift as a blade, he blurted out, “One of them got dirty.”
Fayn asked, “Wouldn’t it take just two hours to throw it in the washer and dryer?”
“…It ripped, so I threw it out.” Zhong Yan forced himself further down the rabbit hole.
Fayn was shocked. “What on earth did you do to not only get a blanket dirty but also ripped?”
Zhong Yan looked to Adrian. It almost looked as if he was trying to ask for his permission to tell, but in truth, it meant: I can’t anymore, you go.
The words “what the hell kind of a stupid reason is that?” were practically written in Adrian’s eyes.
Even Fayn was feeling hesitant. He could not believe what was going on. “Could it be… you two…fought?”
“Adjutant Suster, stop asking about the blanket,” Wei Lan interjected.
Both Adrian and Zhong Yan breathed a sigh of relief, only to hear Wei Lan say, “The blanket must be dirty for reasons that are inconvenient to explain, thus why the commander is not saying it. So it would be better for you not to ask.”
“Pf-” Fayn could not help himself from laughing.
Adrian rubbed his forehead. Zhong Yan turned his head to observe the logo on Adrian’s car and pretended that they were no longer caught up in this troubling conversation.
“What’s wrong?” Seeing the reaction of the two, Wei Lan’s spoke with some confusion, “After the commander’s suggestion from last time, I reflected on it and felt that it made sense, so I’ve been learning to read the atmosphere…was there anything wrong with what I said?”
Fayn tensed up immediately, and said earnestly to him, “You’re absolutely right, Dr. Wei! It’s my fault for being too dense. I won’t ask anymore. Have you been practicing just recently? I think you’ve really made great progress!”
Adrian said to Wei Lan, “No, I don’t think you…”
But before he could finish, Fayn hooked his arm around his neck and brought him to the side, whispering, “Come on, bro, what’s up with you? Can’t you be a little nicer to Dr. Wei?”
“Me? Not nice enough?” Adrian was at his limits. “And what the hell’s with what he’s saying?”
“Then tell me, what are you buying the blankets for?”
“Look, you’re not gonna say it either, so isn’t it an inconvenient reason to talk about? What did he say wrong?”
In that instant, Adrian felt the impulse to come clean to Fayn about the rabbit in his backyard and be done with it. This guy would definitely make fun of him, but so be it then.
“What’s more, he’s only saying this now because of that random suggestion you gave him, now look what you’ve done.” Fayn tried to persuade him, “Anyway, he was just trying to be nice and help you out. I was going to mess around more if he never spoke up, it’s just too hard to pass up.”
“Get outta here.” Adrian said, “We’ll go our own way after dinner. I can’t stand him.”
The differences between people are too huge, so Adrian thought. He didn’t even have one-hundredth of the tolerance that Zhong Yan had. Only Fayn could stand him.
“Alright, alright, I won’t bother you with your bed accessory shopping, okay? Don’t be so cold man.”
While talking, Fayn led him back with his arm still around his shoulders. Enthusiastically, he turned to Wei Lan. “The commander said he didn’t think your efforts were fruitless. You’re doing really great right now!”
Adrian couldn’t stand to hear more so he twisted his head to the side, and noticed that Zhong Yan was looking straight at him. With outsiders around, his demeanor was as calm as still water, but Adrian could still see resentment welling up in his beautiful phoenix eyes.
What happened? Adrian pondered on it for a moment and realized that Fayn’s arm was still around him.
Zhong Yan had once accused him of “being interested in Fayn”.
Adrian shuddered and shrugged Fayn’s arm off his shoulder.
“What’s up with you?” Fayn suddenly asked while speaking with Wei Lan, perplexed.
“Stop pulling me around when you talk. Do it normally. There’s people watching, show some propriety.”
“What? Who’s watching?” Fayn asked.
Zhong Yan quickly paved a way out for Adrian. “So what’s good to eat in Navi’s capital? I saw some good reviews for a steakhouse in the virtual community, should we eat there?”
“Sure, get in the car.” With years of tacit understanding built up between them, Adrian followed him out without any hesitation. He opened the door to the driver’s seat and spoke with grave sincerity to Fayn, “We have one day off and it’s work again tomorrow. Better set your mind back for that and stop asking useless questions.”
“What? But I didn’t do…”
But before he could finish, Adrian had already gotten in the car with his final last words of “I’ll send you the address” before shutting the door.
“Did you really find a good steakhouse?” Adian asked.
“Yeah, I saw some good reviews of the black pepper sauce in this place. They made it themselves.” Zhong Yan turned on his terminal and showed him the address. “It’s this one. Have you been there?”
“Nope. Let’s go try it out.” Adrian sent Fayn the address.
Zhong Yan thought about what Adrian told him not long ago, about the change in his taste, so he asked hesitantly, “How come you haven’t been there? Do you not like black pepper steak anymore? Should we go somewhere else…”
Adrian activated the driver’s panel and said, “You’re overthinking it. I’ve been busy and this is a new shop, I just haven’t had the time to go.”
The two pairs met up outside the restaurant. When they walked in together, half of the people in the steakhouse stood up.
The sounds of greeting such as “Good day, Commander”, and “Good day, Adjutant” could be heard resounding through the restaurant.
Adrian gave them an acknowledging nod before waving his hand, signaling for them to sit. “Happy New Year’s everybody, please, continue.”
Though he said that, it was clearly still difficult for some not to pay attention to them. Though they’ve seen their commander eating with the adjutant quite often, it was rare for their commander to be seen together with that unmentionable person.
The business in this shop was good, and four people just so happened to have finished their meals in the corner, leaving a vacant table.
Zhong Yan took the innermost seat and sat down. Adrian sat beside him, whilst the two others sat opposite of them. There was an ordering screen in front of every person, but Adrian shut off his own menu without even looking at it and connected his personal terminal to the screen. Most restaurants offered this setting so their customers could look through their terminal while dining.
“Are you not eating, Commander?” Wei Lan asked, confused.
Fayn rolled his eyes and responded for him. “No, he’s eating. Someone else will order for him.”
Adrian was flipping through the news and was just about to say something when he heard that, but he heard the one sitting beside him speak to him softly, “I’m done. You like it medium-rare, right? With a side of vegetables, but you should skip the pasta since I still have to give you half of my steak. It’s not good to eat too much.”
Adrian casually responded, “Anything’s fine, you decide.”
“Look at that, Doctor. I can’t stand it. They were like this every time they ate when they were still in school.” Fayn complained to Wei Lan, “I never ate with them alone after that, and I also stopped calling people out for rumor mongering in the school’s gossip forum.”
Wei Lan was born without much interest in the interpersonal relationships of others. For him, reading about medical literature was much more interesting than gossip, but Fayn was a rare friend of his, so he tried his best to figure out how he was supposed to react and came to the conclusion that “Fayn was envious that Adrian has someone to order food for him”. Since he was in unfamiliar territory, he pondered over the matter seriously and felt that there was nothing wrong with his conclusion. Only then did he say, “Adjutant Suster, I can also order for you if you don’t mind.”
This time, not only Adrian, even the pinnacle of calm, Zhong Yan, raised his head to look at them.
It was like Fayn had suddenly turned mute. He stared at Wei Lan’s delicate face, but he could not spit out a single word. After hemming and hawing for a long time, he finally mustered, “I…don’t need help, how about I order for you? Ah, no…I mean…”
“I’ve already ordered.” Wei Lan looked in confusion at the state of his breathing and said, “Adjutant, you seem to be breathing unsteadily. What’s wrong? Is your glucose level low?”
Zhong Yan shook his head almost undetectably before lowering his head to the menu again and added a drink for Adrian.
Adrian sighed in his heart and opened up a chat with Fayn.
Fayn received two incoming message prompts back to back, so he quickly slipped away from Wei Lan’s questioning with the excuse of checking his messages. Opening it up, it read:
Adrian: Are you an idiot?
Adrian: That was too embarrassing, don’t tell anyone you know me.
Fayn: Go buy your blankets and leave me alone.
Wei Lan was the fastest of them to order so his meal was ready soon after. A young girl brought his dish over and placed it in front of Wei Lan before saying the usual “please be careful, it’s hot” and so on.
When she left, she gave a few hard glances to Zhong Yan, and she was completely unable to cover up that strange smile on her face that was different from the usual business smile. The girl’s eyes were so fiery that both Adrian and Zhong Yan had noticed them.
…For some strange reason, that smile and gaze felt rather familiar, so Zhong Yan thought.
Adrian’s thoughts were far simpler than his; he figured that someone would only stare at Zhong Yan because of how good he looked, and this was already a common occurrence since they were still in school. He swept his eyes over the restaurant—he and Zhong Yan were sitting in the deepest part of the restaurant, and thus were facing the entire restaurant, so they could easily see the situation around the whole restaurant. He had only realized from that quick glance that practically the entire restaurant had been watching them subtly.
Fayn and Wei Lan had their back towards the rest of the restaurant, so the only ones they could see were him and Zhong Yan. Since he was stationed on Navi’s capital for the long-term, it was not rare at all to see him here.
Adrian turned sideways to look at Zhong Yan. For the sake of setting the atmosphere, the overall lighting in the establishment was very dim, but there was still a warm yellow light shining down above each diner.
Being caught in the beam, Zhong Yan’s skin still appeared extremely fair despite the warm yellow lighting. Currently, he was quietly sitting with his hands propping up his cheek, his head lowered down to look at the virtual screen on the table. A warm shadow was cast beneath his eyes from his long eyelashes. This was clearly a peaceful and serene scene like that of an oil painting, but he still felt a strong allure when he looked closer upon the face in that painting.
Adrian suddenly stood up, and the other three people sharing his table jumped in surprise.
“You two,” said Adrian to Fayn and Wei Lan who had their backs to the rest of the restaurant, “change seats with us.”