After breakfast, Su Yuyang didn’t go back to his room to write like he usually did. As Ling Miao finished washing the dishes and emerged from the kitchen, Su Yuyang got up and blocked the way to the study. He looked Ling Miao over and said disdainfully: “Go and change. You’re going out with me later.”
“Where?” Ling Miao wondered if this was how expecting to be sold off felt like.
Looking at Ling Miao’s guarded expression, Su Yuyang couldn’t hold back a laugh: “What’re you worried about? Feng Ji’s cafė is reopening after renovations, and I’m gonna pay him a visit.”
The person who came to Ling Miao’s mind was no longer the main character of Demonic Song Defying Heaven, but the owner of the Heartfelt Words Coffee House.
Speaking of Feng Ji, the first thing to surface in Ling Miao’s mind was Feng Ji’s face—a face which was appealing overall, but with a chill between his brows that stopped people wanting to get closer.
And that Feng Ji was Su Yuyang’s ex-lover.
Ling Miao suddenly smiled. Su Yuyang was beside him, so he didn’t dare laugh too loudly and had to hold his laughter in. But Su Yuyang’s gaze was still on Ling Miao’s face and Ling Miao’s subtle shifts in expression couldn’t elude his eyes. Ling Miao’s smile could be described with an emoticon—XD.
Su Yuyang raised his hand to smack the back of Ling Miao’s head. “Your expression tells me your thoughts are running away again, and in a big way, at that.”
Su Yuyang’s slap was neither hard nor light, but it still brought a cry of pain: “Hey, Su Yuyang, that hurts! Also, take your paw off my head.”
Su Yuyang had controlled his strength very well and he knew the slap wouldn’t have hurt Ling Miao. But since Ling Miao said it hurt, Su Yuyang, of course, needed to show Ling Miao the true meaning of pain.
“Hey—Su Yuyang, you bastard!” Ling Miao lashed out at Su Yuyang as he clutched at the spot on his head where Su Yuyang had rapped him, hard.
Su Yuyang dusted off his hands and said, matter-of-factly: “If you have so much time to think about silly things, then think about your novel. Your book probably has no hope of getting popular, so I suggest you wrap it up early and start a new one.”
“If I wrap it up just like this, it would be a bad ending. I took an oath on my life: I will not become a eunuch and I will not end my books badly,” Ling Miao said righteously. “You, Great Shu, on the other hand, gave both Heavenly Domain and Demonic Song Defying Heaven terrible endings. This time… you’ll be continuing the trend?”
“They’re called bad endings? All the plot points were tied up, the main characters’ arcs were wrapped up. What’s bad about it?” Su Yuyang had an air of wanting to have it out with Ling Miao, who was frightened by Su Yuyang’s suddenly imposing manner. Ling Miao quickly changed the subject: “That… didn’t we want to go to Heartfelt Words? Let’s go.”
Su Yuyang knew very well that his previous two books had ended badly—the last ten or so chapters were pretty much just their outlines. Su Yuyang had no patience for bad endings, but he’d been unlucky both times: as Heavenly Domain and Demonic Song Defying Heaven were wrapping up some things had happened to Su Yuyang each time, affecting his mood, and he’d sunk into emotional mires. On the one hand, he had tried to use writing to lift himself out of the rut he was in, but on the other hand, his misery had made a mess of his writing, so both books had ended poorly.
“Ling Miao, you have pretty strong opinions on the endings of Heavenly Domain and Demonic Song Defying Heaven, yeah?” Su Yuyang said half-jokingly.
As Ling Miao put the key in the keyhole, Su Yuyang somehow felt that Ling Miao was turning the key in his own side. He murmured to himself then asked: “How about I let you write the ending?”
“Wha?” Ling Miao didn’t seem to have heard Su Yuyang clearly, but the sound of the key hitting the floor was much sharper—Ling Miao’s hand had trembled and he’d dropped the key.
Su Yuyang picked up the key and didn’t repeat himself. He pressed the key into Ling Miao’s hand and said regretfully: “If you didn’t hear, that’s fine. Let’s go. Feng Ji texted and said he’s here.”
Having said his piece, Su Yuyang picked up his feet and began to head downstairs, but when he was about to turn onto the next flight of steps he realized Ling Miao hadn’t followed. He yelled for Ling Miao, who continued not to move. Sighing, Su Yuyang took the steps back up two at a time until he reached Ling Miao’s side. He clapped Ling Miao’s shoulder and said, “I only offered to let you write the ending to two books, and you’re totally stunned?”
Su Yuyang’s eyes crinkled in a smile, and Ling Miao could feel the mockery exuding from Su Yuyang. Ling Miao said coldly, “That narcissism of yours needs to have a limit. Besides, there’re plenty of people out there writing alternate endings to Heavenly Domain and Demonic Song Defying Heaven. Just on their discussion forums alone there’re more than ten threads. I have no interest in rewriting their endings.”
“The official and the fanmade endings are pretty different, right?” Su Yuyang intentionally missed Ling Miao’s point. He looked at Ling Miao thoughtfully, like he was concocting some sinister scheme.
Ling Miao shuddered and quickly diverted Su Yuyang’s attention: “You said Feng Ji was already downstairs, move it!”
Feng Ji’s car was parked at the apartment complex’s entrance, and Su Yuyang and Ling Miao saw it the moment they walked out.
Feng Ji was leaning against his car smoking a cigarette, and he waved when he saw Su Yuyang walking over. As his gaze moved to the person beside Su Yuyang, an expression of ‘sure enough’ passed over his face.
Su Yuyang understood Feng Ji pretty well, so he could guess what Feng Ji was thinking from his expression.
“My assistant, Ling Miao, you’ve met him before.” Su Yuyang destroyed Feng Ji’s fantasies in one go. Feng Ji sighed and said regretfully, “It’s been years. You really haven’t found someone else?”
“When I meet someone, then we’ll see.” Su Yuyang looked at Ling Miao, his heart feeling directionless.
Feng Ji let out a ‘tcheh’, clearly not believing Su Yuyang’s words—both Su Yuyang’s expression and tone didn’t inspire any trust in Feng Ji.
Su Yuyang said, “What about you? It’s been a few years since we’ve broken up and I’ve even dated since then, but you haven’t gone out with anyone, not even once.”
“When I meet someone, then we’ll see.” Feng Ji used Su Yuyang’s words to answer the question, and Su Yuyang, in the same way, let out a ‘tcheh’.
Su Yuyang and Feng Ji chatted animatedly while Ling Miao stood to one side, bored. Ling Miao listened to their conversation, not missing a word, and restlessness rose in his heart.
Feng Ji finished his cigarette and Su Yuyang called to Ling Miao to get in the car. Feng Ji glanced at Ling Miao and something froze in his expression, like he’d seen something incredible.
Su Yuyang got in the passenger seat. Feng Ji leaned close to his ear and teased, “You’re living together, right?”
Su Yuyang nodded without thinking. Then he realized something was amiss and asked in shock, “How do you know?”
“The clothes he’s wearing are yours, right? Ah, Yuyang, considering our relationship, it’s not right that you kept it from me.” Feng Ji started the car and glanced at the tired Ling Miao in the rearview mirror. He took a lecturing tone to Su Yuyang: “Just look at your little assistant. Clearly you tormented him pretty badly last night.”
Su Yuyang rubbed his temples like he was trying to press down his rage. He said, “Feng Ji, if I were driving I’d kick you out.”
“You’ll kick me out so you can spend quality couple time together?” Feng Ji thought out loud. “We aren’t too far from the shop. Shall I get out?”
Ling Miao raised his head to glance at Feng Ji, his expression dismissive. Feng Ji laughed: “Yuyang, see, he’s glaring at me! Ling Miao, rest easy. Su Yuyang and I are a thing of the past, and of course you don’t have to worry that I’ll get back together with him in the future. Quality horses don’t graze in the same pasture twice.”
“Rabbits won’t eat the grass in front of their burrows, either,”¹ Ling Miao muttered.
Feng Ji smiled faintly as he looked at Su Yuyang with sympathy. “Your assistant doesn’t think well of you. Yuyang, you’d better work hard.”
“Heh.” Su Yuyang laughed lightly. “He and I are just employer and employee, so you can stop that train of thought right there.”
“Trains of thought aren’t something you can stop whenever you please.” As Feng Ji finished speaking, the car came to a stop.
Ling Miao looked at the renovated storefront and was shocked—the style was so different from before!
The previous storefront had a cutesy theme: a white background with an English name on it in pink. This one had a black background and dark gold letters danced over it. Ling Miao stared for a few minutes at the string of dancing Latin letters and then made out two English nouns: wind, sun.²
“Wind and Sun?” Ling Miao quietly read the shop name. “Your son?” Ling Miao turned and looked at Su Yuyang and Feng Ji curiously.
Su Yuyang looked at Feng Ji a bit disdainfully and laughed: “Can he give birth?”
“Get out!” Feng Ji teased. “I can’t, can you?”
Su Yuyang and Feng Ji locked eyes, and after a few seconds, both of them burst out laughing at the same time. Ling Miao, watching from the side, was bemused.
“Let’s go.” Su Yuyang called Ling Miao, who seemed a little dazed. Ling Miao made a noise in response, but he didn’t seem to want to move.
Su Yuyang very casually placed his hand on Ling Miao’s shoulder and steered Ling Miao into the shop.
With Su Yuyang’s backing, the cafė had doubled in size, but Feng Ji still lived on the second floor.
Feng Ji ran upstairs the moment Su Yuyang and Ling Miao sat down, and when he came back downstairs, there was a paper bag in his hand. Feng Ji set the bag on the table, then went to Ling Miao and whispered into his ear. Ling Miao rolled his eyes at Feng Ji, then glanced at Su Yuyang who looked confused.
Ling Miao sighed bitterly in resignation and moved himself to another table, which still wasn’t very far from Su Yuyang.
“Xiao Li said to give this to you.” Feng Ji pushed the bag toward Su Yuyang, the laughter in his eyes difficult to hide. Su Yuyang’s expression froze and he averted his eyes from the bag. Feng Ji took a small sip of coffee and said with schadenfreude: “This is an autographed limited edition. Many people who didn’t get it are still crying pitifully. He sent this to you personally—what do you have to be dissatisfied with? You look like somebody deleted several days’ worth of your drafts.”³
“Pfeh.” Su Yuyang furtively glanced at the black bag on the table. “Don’t you understand him? Giving me things means he wants to visit my house. His agents will bother me until I don’t even have time to write. Feng Ji, now I really suspect the reason you didn’t buy a house is to stop him from crashing at your place to relax.”
Feng Ji shrugged like he was admitting to it.
Having concluded his business, Feng Ji turned his attention to Ling Miao, but… Ling Miao had slumped over the table and fallen asleep.
“Ling Miao?” Feng Ji tried. Ling Miao didn’t answer.
“He fell asleep?” Feng Ji asked Su Yuyang, uncertain. Su Yuyang said lethargically: “Probably.”
“Su Yuyang.” Feng Ji’s mode of address suddenly changed. Su Yuyang’s deathly quiet eyes suddenly glazed over as he looked at Feng Ji and nodded.
“What are your feelings towards Ling Miao, exactly?”