“What’s different?” Ling Miao looked impatient. He felt that Yu Yang’s words were absurd.
Ling Miao’s brain started whirring with a hum. He pointed at Yu Yang and asked: “You said you’d been watching me for a while. Are you planning to do something to me?” Ling Miao’s voice shook at the end.
Yu Yang froze. Clearly, it had not occurred to him that Ling Miao’s thoughts would turn in this direction. He smiled and explained, “I’m not planning to do anything to you.” He paused for several seconds to gather his thoughts, then continued—“Like I said before, you’re different from everyone else. You’re very quiet and you’re not anxious. It’s been three hours since the interview with the Great Shu started, but you’re still very calm. It’s obvious that you’re a very patient person. And…”
“If it’s been three hours, then it’s been three hours. Strictly speaking I haven’t waited in vain—I’ve written five thousand words.” Ling Miao cut Yu Yang off—he really had no interest in what Yu Yang was saying.
Even having been mercilessly cut off by Ling Miao, Yu Yang still remained smiling. He said, “You’re quite open-minded.”
Ling Miao rolled his eyes at Yu Yang, and thought, Aside from waiting, what else can I do? Drag the Great Shu out and give him a good beating then ask him why he’s keeping us waiting so long?
Ling Miao’s disdainful gaze did not escape Yu Yang’s eyes. Yu Yang did not seem to mind. He was about to change the topic to keep chatting with Ling Miao when Ling Miao suddenly stood up.
Seeing Ling Miao picking up his computer and looking like he was about to leave, Yu Yang asked worriedly, “You’re leaving?”
Ling Miao pointed to the clock and said to Yu Yang, “Bro, it’s twelve. I’m hungry.”
The two ate lunch together and found that they shared similar tastes. They chatted for a little while longer and Ling Miao’s regard for Yu Yang went up another few notches. They even arranged to play mahjong in the near future when they were both available.
Time wore on and Yu Yang made an excuse to part with Ling Miao. Ling Miao opened his laptop and continued to write while Yu Yang meandered about in the dining hall. Yu Yang had spoken to all the interviewees.
But no one seemed to have noticed this.
In the blink of an eye it was five in the afternoon. Some had already found the wait too long and left.
From nine in the morning until now, neither the Great Shu nor the person in charge of the interview had appeared. The interview pool was completely silent—when Mu Yu came in at 5 p.m., he had prohibited them from making further small talk. The people still waiting began to grow anxious, and this anxiety quickly spread among the interviewees. One individual could not stop themself from questioning Mu Yu in front of everyone. Mu Yu told that person to go home and kicked out the offending interviewee. After that, everyone else grew quiet.
Yu Yang sat in a corner. His eyes rested on his phone, his fingers continuously tapping at the screen. He seemed to be talking to someone.
About half a minute after Yu Yang put his phone back in his pocket, there was news among the interview group.
“Mu Yu says the location of the last interview is the kitchen of Sister Fang’s Restaurant in the outskirts of the city. Only No. 7, No. 10, No. 18 and No. 24 are to attend the final assessment.” Somebody read Mu Yu’s text aloud in a loud voice.
No. 7, No. 10, No. 18, No. 24—Ling Miao was No. 10, and, if he was remembering correctly, Yu Yang was No. 24.
“Why only these people?” somebody asked, indignant.
Mu Yu replied: Shu Yang has been observing you. He personally chose all the people who are to attend the final assessment.
“The Great Shu is here?”
“The Great Shu is here”—this single line incited havoc. Everyone looked around at one another to ask each other if they were Shu Yang, but everyone shook their heads in denial: I am not Shu Yang!
“Actually, it’s plausible that the Great Shu is here. Even though we all knew this was an interview, the atmosphere made us relax and we almost forgot that this was an interview. I think the Great Shu looked at all of our performances and picked the people most suited to be his personal assistant. Only, he picked too many.”
“All this posturing,” Ling Miao said disdainfully after seeing who spoke. “Yu Yang, when did you get so crafty?”
“I’ve always been crafty. Didn’t you know?” Yu Yang’s jaw dropped open from shock, so wide his chin almost reached the floor.
Feeling gazes of all kinds from around him, Ling Miao coughed twice. “Ahem. About that, we should go. The final assessment…”
“Heh heh. Ling Miao, let me predict something,” Yu Yang suddenly leaned close to Ling Miao and whispered in his ear, his breath hot against Ling Miao’s hair.
“Predict? What’re you predicting?” For some unknown reason, Ling Miao had started to become afraid of Yu Yang. His voice was even trembling.
Yu Yang said confidently, “I think that among the four of us, Shu Yang will choose you.” He said this right against Ling Miao’s ear so only Ling Miao could hear.
Yu Yang’s breath brushed against Ling Miao’s ear, and Ling Miao’s face burned a little.
“I don’t trust what you’re saying.” Ling Miao pushed Yu Yang away and rushed down the stairs in a panic. Yu Yang watched Ling Miao’s escaping silhouette and laughed, asking, “Ling Miao, do you know the way?”
Ling Miao did, in fact, know the way. On the other hand, the other two final candidates did not, so Yu Yang acted as their human GPS.
The final interview assessed cooking skill. The first to finish was Ling Miao. Ling Miao waved farewell to the other three interviewees, who were still busy cooking, and whistled as he walked back to his apartment.
The other two also finished their dishes not long after Ling Miao’s departure, but Yu Yang was still banging about in front of his pot.
After making sure that everyone had left, Yu Yang shut off the stove. He had boiled a pot of plain water.
The restaurant owner wore a sullen expression as she packed up the three sets of food. Yu Yang counted out several bills and handed them to the owner, who did not seem any happier after taking the money. “If you weren’t a regular, I would never have let you use the kitchen for some sort of competition.”
“Big sis Fang, you’re a good person. I’ll go now. You can go back to normal tomorrow.” Yu Yang picked up the three sets of food and quickly left the restaurant.