Every afternoon, Su Yuyang would go to a nearby gym to work out and Ling Miao would stay at home to write, but today, Ling Miao was doing laundry.
During Ling Miao’s four years in college and the one year since then, he hadn’t even washed his socks, to say nothing of washing clothes. What flummoxed Ling Miao the most was that Su Yuyang had a washing machine at home. So why did he need Ling Miao to wash his clothes by hand?
“Tcheh, what’s the difference between washing by hand and using a washing machine?” Ling Miao grumbled to himself as he stuffed clothes indiscriminately into the machine, not bothering to sort them by color. “Mm-hmm. I’ll use the machine, it’s not like he can do anything to me!”
Humming a tune, Ling Miao happily pressed the start button and began to clean Su Yuyang’s room.
Su Yuyang walked through the door and glanced around the living room; everywhere he looked, it was cleaner than before. He nodded to himself and was about to call Ling Miao to eat ice cream when he slipped on the floor, almost falling. The bag in his hand wasn’t as lucky.
Ignoring the ice cream and popsicles on the floor, Su Yuyang turned around and looked at the culprit of his near fall—a puddle of water.
Su Yuyang hesitated to move. Beneath the sunlight that shone into the room Su Yuyang could see a lot of water shining on the floor, and he promptly took back his earlier thoughts—the ice cream would be wasted on Ling Miao!
Su Yuyang then thought: Did Ling Miao intentionally leave all this water on the floor to make me fall?
Thinking this, Su Yuyang called: “Ling Miao, get over here!”
Ling Miao answered with an “Mm!” and nothing more. The implications of the perfunctory reply were obvious, and from Ling Miao’s tone, Su Yuyang could tell that Ling Miao was panicking.
Ling Miao didn’t show up for a long time, and Su Yuyang’s sense that Ling Miao was intentionally making things difficult for him intensified. Ling Miao’s voice seemed to have come from the balcony. Without thinking too much more, Su Yuyang walked towards the balcony, but he slipped in another puddle of water. This time, he wasn’t so lucky.
Thunk—Ling Miao heard a loud noise from the living room and asked loudly, “Su-ge, what happened?”
“Hss—uh—” Su Yuyang sat on the ground rubbing his knee and grit out: “Ling Miao, you decided you couldn’t let me end the day without falling on my ass, did you?”
“What?” Ling Miao ran over holding an article of clothing. Seeing Su Yuyang on the floor, he quickly went to help Su Yuyang up.
“Su-ge, are you okay?”
“Exactly how much water did you leave on the floor?” Su Yuyang pointed at the shiny parts of the floor. “Those are a lot of traps you’ve set. I think it’d be hard for me not to fall.”
At this point Ling Miao didn’t even need to hear the insinuation in Su Yuyang’s words to know that he’d gotten himself into a lot of trouble. If this were any other day, Ling Miao would have loudly reproached Su Yuyang, but today he didn’t have a leg to stand on so he just said miserably: “I was just mopping the floor, but used a bit too much water, so … so it’s like this now.”
“Mopping the floor? Ling Miao, you don’t need this much water to mop the floor! Don’t tell me you’ve never done chores before.” Su Yuyang suddenly wanted to find a block of tofu to hit his head with.¹ He just fundamentally could not understand Ling Miao.
“I only know how to cook,” Ling Miao said awkwardly.
You only know how to cook? Su Yuyang began to worry for his clothes. Washing clothes didn’t take a lot of skill, but there were still things one had to pay attention to. Just then, Su Yuyang turned his head and saw an item of clothing tossed over the back of the sofa. If he was remembering correctly, he definitely did not own any tie-dyed clothing.
The instant Su Yuyang’s gaze landed on the shirt, Ling Miao fled to a corner of a room and squatted down, doing his best to curl into as small a ball as possible, as if that would keep Su Yuyang from seeing him.
Su Yuyang looked the shirt up and down, inside and out, over and over, and came to the conclusion that this shirt was indeed his. But … the shirt was supposed to be white, wasn’t it?
“Ling Miao, oh, Ling Miao. Don’t you know dark clothes and light clothes needed to be washed separately?” The words were squeezed out one by one through Su Yuyang’s teeth, every one landing like another stone, heavy in Ling Miao’s heart. Ling Miao tried even harder to curl up into a smaller ball, and he wanted fiercely to find a gap in the ground where he could hide for a while.
“That… I… I always washed my clothes like this and never had the color run. Su-ge, clearly it’s your clothes that are bad quality, the dye even comes out… if the color didn’t run, this wouldn’t have happened!” Ling Miao sounded indignant, and Su Yuyang felt a throbbing at his temples, feeling like they would explode at any moment.
“I told you. You’re healthy but your brain is simple. Looking at you … You’re a prime example of ‘simple brain means simple limbs, too.’” Su Yuyang looked at his shirt and sighed.
“Hey, Su Yuyang.” Ling Miao suddenly raised his head, and his eyes were fierce like a war general about to go to battle. He walked up to Su Yuyang and raised his head and shouted, “Yeah, my brain is simple and my limbs are simple. What’re you going to do about it? I didn’t know that dark clothes have to be washed separately from light clothes. What’s it to you? Every day I wash your clothes and cook your meals and clean your room, and keep you fed and clothed and comfortable. If you’re not grateful, that’s fine, but you have so many demands?! Do you really think I’m a clay statue that you can poke and pinch into the shape you want?!
If you think I’m not doing it right, then do it yourself!”
Every word that came from Ling Miao’s mouth was accompanied by a gob of spit that landed on Su Yuyang’s face. Su Yuyang’s complexion first turned green, then gray, and wisps of black smoke seemed to rise from his eyebrows.
Ling Miao maintained a haughty manner, but in his heart he felt the galloping of ten thousand fawns. He couldn’t tell what tidal waves were surging beneath Su Yuyang’s calm exterior, and, even more, he couldn’t tell what Su Yuyang intended to do to him.
“You’re in the wrong, yet you’re still so indignant. Ling Miao, you’re the first person I’ve met who’s like this.” Su Yuyang didn’t hold back his barbed words.
“What did I do wrong?” Ling Miao got eighty percent louder. “I didn’t know dark clothes needed to be washed separately from light clothes. If you knew, then why didn’t you tell me?”
“You thought I knew? Your thoughts are your thoughts, you didn’t even ask! Now that something’s happened, you’re even blaming me. Su Yuyang, you’re really a lot. And also, your eyes are fine. Can’t you see the water on the ground? Or did you fall on purpose in order to have a reason to chase me out? Su Yuyang…”
Ling Miao’s entire demeanor was that of somebody who’s done wrong, then immediately turns around to accuse someone else of a crime. Every word left Su Yuyang speechless and without any means of rebuttal. Su Yuyang really couldn’t take it any longer and yelled with all his might: “Ling Miao, shut your mouth!”
“My mouth is mine, if I don’t shut it, what are you gonna do to me?” Ling Miao bellowed.
Su Yuyang suddenly stood up and his shadow fell across Ling Miao.
Looking up at the darkness enshrouding his head, Ling Miao shrank into himself: “So what if you’re tall? If I stand on a chair, I’ll be taller than you!” Ling Miao promptly set foot on the chair at his side.
Su Yuyang grabbed ahold of Ling Miao, who shouted in surprise before feeling his back land against the cold, hard floor. One of Su Yuyang’s hands was by Ling Miao’s ear, the other at his waist. He gathered himself and said slowly: “Ling Miao, I’m not blaming you for anything. I just don’t like your attitude. If you really want to keep being my assistant, then please be more mindful. If you can’t do the things on this piece of paper, please pack up and leave.”
A piece of paper floated down in front of Ling Miao, who caught it reflexively.
The tasks listed on the paper were mostly things Ling Miao already did every day, the only two exceptions that ruffled Ling Miao’s feathers being ‘washing clothes’ and ‘cleaning Su Yuyang’s room’—it also seemed that these two tasks had just been added.
“Fuck, I’ll do them! It’s just laundry, who can’t do such a simple thing?!” Ling Miao crumpled the paper in his hands and tossed the ball into the trash.
“Xiao Miao!” Su Yuyang’s voice came from the bedroom. Ling Miao heard Su Yuyang’s form of address and knew that Su Yuyang had forgiven him, so the tone with which he replied was also much lighter: “Su-ge, what is it?”
“I’ve sent a draft to your QQ.² Quickly edit. This is today’s extra update.”
“Extra update?” Ling Miao felt anxiety rise in his heart, and his voice also grew a lot louder: “Su-ge, I’ll edit right way.”
Following which Ling Miao ran to the study.
“Ling Miao,” Su Yuyang couldn’t help but say aloud as he thought of Ling Miao’s joyful expression,
Ling Miao’s temper came quickly and left quickly; this gave Su Yuyang a lot of peace of mind. In addition, Ling Miao was his fan, and additional updates would make him jump for joy.
Mm, Su Yuyang wasn’t about to tell Ling Miao that today’s additional update was especially for him.
At night, Ling Miao made a pot of tomato and pork rib soup. This gave Su Yuyang a shock.
Ling Miao attentively ladled out a bowl for Su Yuyang, who drank it in silence while thinking: “Did he realize tonight’s extra update was for him? But… I didn’t say anything. With his intelligence, he probably didn’t guess. And it’s just an extra update, surely he didn’t need to go to such lengths. Or is he trying to make it up to me?”
Countless ideas were circling in Su Yuyang’s head, but he dismissed each of them. Finally, he arrived at a more reasonable answer: Ling Miao was trying to make amends.
The soup Ling Miao had brewed was quite good, and Su Yuyang drank three big bowls in quick succession.
Ling Miao ate in small bites; every few seconds he would glance at Su Yuyang. Seeing Su Yuyang’s satisfied expression, Ling Miao was secretly happy: “Heh heh, pork rib soup is one of my god-tier skills. If I can’t take you down with this, then my dad beat me all those years for nothing.”
After clearing the table, Ling Miao brought out a tray of fruit.
Before, Ling Miao had never prepared fruit or made other after-meal desserts. Combined with Ling Miao’s previous consideration towards him, Su Yuyang was sure that Ling Miao was keeping something from him.
Ling Miao put down the tray of fruit and was about to return to the kitchen when Su Yuyang called out for him to stop: “If something’s up, just say it. This attentiveness isn’t like you.”
“Uh…” Having been seen through by Su Yuyang, Ling Miao felt a little embarrassed. He squatted in front of Su Yuyang and raised his head to look at Su Yuyang: “You’re reading my novel, right? If you have questions, just ask.”
Su Yuyang was just about to eat a piece of dragonfruit. Upon hearing Ling Miao’s words, his gaze hardened, and the expression with which he looked at the dragonfruit also changed. Ling Miao watched Su Yuyang with anticipation, eyes wobbly and especially pitiful-looking. Su Yuyang tossed the dragonfruit into his mouth, then looked at Ling Miao. At length, he said sympathetically: “I don’t really have any useful suggestions, because your writing’s too terrible.”
“Too… too … terrible?” Indignation lodged in Ling Miao’s chest; it couldn’t go up and it couldn’t go down, giving him an awful time. Su Yuyang pretended he hadn’t seen Ling Miao’s expression and said darkly, “Next time, don’t buy dragonfruit. I don’t like them.”
Ling Miao’s long-repressed anger erupted in an instant. The power of it could have leveled mountains, so, naturally, Su Yuyang’s ears didn’t fare well, either.