Perhaps it was because Ling Miao had lived without any regulations for the past year, but on his first day of work, he very graciously arrived late.
Standing outside Su Yuyang’s external iron grille door, Ling Miao leaned against the wall as he panted for breath. Goddamn it, it’s fine that he lives on the 10th floor. But there is no elevator? Su Yuyang, are you a masochist, or are you a masochist, or are you a masochist?
If Ling Miao still had the strength to speak, he would definitely have shouted that last question. But, regrettably, it hurt to even breathe.
“Oho, you’re half an hour late on your first day. You’ve got character!” These were Su Yuyang’s first words after he opened the door. They were neither cool nor angry; no emotion could be discerned from them. Ling Miao was trying to get his breath back, and his eyes were somewhat lifeless. He opened his mouth and prepared to explain, but Su Yuyang cut him off: “Make food first.”
Ling Miao heard the dissatisfaction in Su Yuyang’s voice and humbly shut his mouth.
Su Yuyang turned and walked into his apartment, but Ling Miao stayed frozen in place outside the door. Su Yuyang frowned and impatiently took hold of Ling Miao’s hand to drag him through the door. Ling Miao did not even have time to admire Su Yuyang’s house before Su Yuyang shoved him into the kitchen.
“Hey, what’s the meaning of this?!” Ling Miao took the apron Su Yuyang held out. Oho, this is brand new—it doesn’t even have creases from folding.
“Cook.” Su Yuyang’s stone-cold voice made Ling Miao tense. He stared at Su Yuyang’s grim expression, and hurriedly put on the apron. He plastered a smile on his face and said, “Boss, what do you want to eat?”
“That’s up to you, but make it fast.” After tossing out his request, Su Yuyang left the kitchen. Ling Miao was about to take a breather when Su Yuyang’s voice came again: “‘Boss’? I said before to call me Su-ge.”¹
“Su-ge?” Ling Miao tried.
“Quickly, go make food!” Su Yuyang urged.
“Yes, yes, yes.” Ling Miao stood on tiptoes and looked around. Only after he made sure Su Yuyang was not outside the kitchen did he relax completely.
“Making food. That’s my greatest support skill.” Ling Miao whistled, looking extremely pleased. But he very quickly discovered that he had fallen into hell.
Looking into the fridge which contained only several cartons of whole milk, Ling Miao ground his teeth as he said, “Make food? Shall I fry air, or braise the northeast wind?² Shall I steam tap water? If I’m to cook, surely I need ingredients to cook with?” Ling Miao shut the fridge door. Then, holding on to his last bit of hope, he opened all the kitchen cabinets. But Lady Luck was not on his side. Rice, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, chilli, spring onion, ginger, garlic—Ling Miao found that Su Yuyang’s house contained none of them.
“Does this guy never cook at home?” Ling Miao felt like he was being played for a fool by Su Yuyang. “Heh. It’s my first day of work, and he puts me on the spot. Damn you, Su Yuyang!” Ling Miao ground his teeth as if he were grinding Su Yuyang to bits.
Ling Miao was still thinking about why Su Yuyang was picking on him when Su Yuyang spoke, with very unfortunate timing. “Ling Miao, is the food ready? I’m so hungry my stomach is touching my spine.” Su Yuyang spoke in a joking tone, but his voice was as weak as a terminally ill patient’s.
Ling Miao was angry and did not hear anything out of the ordinary. He opened his mouth and yelled, “Eat, eat, eat, eat—you only know how to yell that you want to eat! Why don’t you prepare the ingredients for me?! No rice, no oil, nothing—not even noodles, or frozen food—what do you want me to make?!” Ling Miao carried out an empty bowl, walked up to Su Yuyang, put the bowl down on the coffee table and snapped, “There, eat. Fried air.”
Ling Miao’s tone made Su Yuyang frown. He did not understand why Ling Miao was angry. Ling Miao tossed the apron to the ground, dusted off his hands, and said coldly, “Su Yuyang, if you don’t like me, say it. You don’t need to go out of your way to make things difficult for me.”
At Ling Miao’s reprimand, Su Yuyang was even more confused. He looked at Ling Miao without understanding, and Ling Miao rolled his eyes at Su Yuyang and let out a frosty laugh. “Su Yuyang, you keep playing me for a fool. If you don’t give me an explanation, I’m not leaving.”
After Ling Miao finished speaking, he sat right down on the sofa.
Ling Miao folded his arms across his chest, and rested one foot on the other thigh as he raised an eyebrow and looked at Su Yuyang. Su Yuyang rubbed the bridge of his nose; his entire brain seemed to have turned to paste.
“Ling Miao, if something is up, can we talk about it later?” Su Yuyang’s voice was gentle, even somewhat weak. Ling Miao, on the other hand, had the air of a superior. He switched the positions of his legs and pretended he had not heard Su Yuyang.
“Ling…” Su Yuyang had barely begun speaking when Ling Miao heard a ‘thunk’. He raised his eyes to see that Su Yuyang was curled up on the floor.
“Hey, are you okay?” Ling Miao rushed to Su Yuyang’s side and squatted down. He turned the man’s head, and took one look at the man’s face and got so scared he scrambled back. Su Yuyang’s face was like glue—so white that a sheet of paper would be embarrassed.
“Are you okay?” Ling Miao gently slapped Su Yuyang’s face. The icy sensation shocked Ling Miao.