Su Yuyang’s phone beeped, cutting off Feng Ji’s words before they had even left his mouth. Seeing Su Yuyang’s troubled expression, Feng Ji could guess who the message was from.
Su Yuyang looked at Feng Ji and pretended to brush away tears, then lowered his head and opened QQ.
Feng Ji sympathetically patted Su Yuyang’s shoulder and was about to turn to Ling Miao to share the gossip when he heard Ling Miao scream, followed by the waiter apologizing.
“What happened?” Feng Ji was the store owner and even though Ling Miao might as well be family, Feng Ji still treated him like a customer, so Feng Ji rushed to Ling Miao’s side as quickly as possible (in other words, he turned around).
“It’s fine, it’s fine,” Ling Miao said dismissively.
Feng Ji passed Ling Miao a tissue and Ling Miao froze before taking it.
“The coffee’s good, isn’t it?” Feng Ji teased.
Ling Miao said regretfully, “Sorry, I didn’t taste it.”
“Another cup then.” Feng Ji waved over a waiter and whispered some instructions into his ear. The waiter left and returned several minutes later carrying two cups of coffee.
“You’re being suspiciously kind.” Ling Miao pushed away the cup of coffee that had been carefully set before him to the middle of the table. His wary gaze was trained on Feng Ji’s smiling face.
Feng Ji shrugged, then raised his cup of coffee and tasted it.
Although Feng Ji was drinking coffee, his attention was still on Ling Miao, who was idly observing the coffee shop’s new furnishings. Suddenly, Ling Miao’s wandering gaze stopped and his eyes lit up with surprise. Feng Ji followed the line of Ling Miao’s gaze.
It came to an end on Su Yuyang’s troubled face. Ling Miao had known Su Yuyang for more than a month—not too long a time, but also not too short—but he had never seen Su Yuyang this vexed. Even that time when he had deleted Su Yuyang’s chapter, Su Yuyang had only smiled and hadn’t shown any worry at all.
“And you say rabbits don’t eat the grass next to their burrows.” Feng Ji smiled to himself without feeling.
“Ling Miao.” Feng Ji lowered his voice and drew Ling Miao’s attention back to him. Ling Miao said “Mm” and nothing else, but his gaze told Feng Ji: Spit it out.
Feng Ji thought for a while, then tactfully asked the question that had been troubling him: “You’re really just Su Yuyang’s assistant?”
“Of course not,” Ling Miao said carelessly, but Feng Ji could hear boundless resentment in his tone and that made Feng Ji even more certain that his guess was right.
“I’m basically his nanny.”
Feng Ji was still immersed in his joy, so Ling Miao didn’t stand on ceremony and splashed cold water on him.
“Editing, publishing, moderating the comments, moderating the discussion forum, publicizing the novel and related materials—I do all of it and don’t complain. Three meals a day I cook for him, that’s fine. I have to eat too, anyway. But he even wants me to wash his clothes and clean his room—okay, I’m standing under the eaves so I have to bow my head, I’ll live with that too. But I do all of this, and he still complains. If he can do all of it better, then why doesn’t he do it? Fuck!” Ling Miao packaged up all Su Yuyang’s wrongdoings and spat them out. “He’s taller than me, and uses it to take advantage of me. If I wasn’t smart, I’d already have been molested. Even worse, he says I type too loud at night so that he can’t sleep—hell, I don’t have time during the day thanks to him and he still has the cheek to say that to me! Forget it. The things that bastard does— it makes me mad just to think about them. If I keep talking, I’ll explode.”
Feng Ji attentively listened at first, but by the end he was wearing an expression of pure schadenfreude. Ling Miao was too wrapped up in himself and so hadn’t seen the change in Feng Ji’s expression, and by the time Ling Miao came back to his senses, Su Yuyang was sitting next to him.
“Keep talking. I didn’t even know you had so many complaints about me.” Su Yuyang picked up the coffee Ling Miao hadn’t touched and took a small sip. From Ling Miao’s perspective, Su Yuyang seemed to be using the coffee to keep his temper in check.
Ling Miao lowered his head and stayed quiet, seemingly considering his next move. Su Yuyang calmly watched Ling Miao’s hair, the black strands shining like silk under the café light. As if possessed, Su Yuyang put his hand on Ling Miao’s head.
“Fuck!” Ling Miao batted away Su Yuyang’s hand and said angrily, “Gentlemen fight with words, not fists!”
Feng Ji grinned. “Su Yuyang’s never been a gentleman, especially in…”
Feng Ji intentionally didn’t finish, leaving Ling Miao to fill in the blanks. Ling Miao had a pretty good imagination and instantly figured out what Feng Ji was implying.
“You…” Ling Miao was going to say “you’re shameless,” but Feng Ji hadn’t actually said anything. If he called Feng Ji shameless, it’d look like he was the shameless one.
Ling Miao really couldn’t think of anything suitable to say in reply. He huffed loudly at Feng Ji, then raised his chin and pointed at Su Yuyang and Feng Ji’s noses. “You’re two of a kind! You deserve to be bedmates!”
“That’s right, we shared a bed before, but now… ahem, continue your conversation.” Feng Ji covered his mouth and coughed lightly, but his laugh was impossible to hide.
Feng Ji laughed, not out of pride or embarrassment or pity. He was tickled pink, the sort of laughter that caused stomachaches, provoked purely by Ling Miao’s expression.
Hah! Ling Miao’s expression—that’s plaintive, that’s pure jealousy! I don’t believe he doesn’t have some sort of emotional relationship with Su Yuyang, alright?!
Above: Feng Ji’s inner monologue.
“Hey!” Ling Miao didn’t know what Feng Ji was laughing about, but Feng Ji’s red face spoke volumes.
“It’s fine, it’s fine. You two chat. I’ll go greet customers.”
Feng Ji found a good excuse to step out, leaving Su Yuyang and Ling Miao alone.
Ling Miao was holding out on the principle of, “in order to keep staying in Su Yuyang’s house, arguments with Su Yuyang should be avoided wherever possible.” So there were many things Ling Miao would only dare to say to Su Yuyang’s face when Ling Miao was completely enraged.
“Heh.” Su Yuyang laughed lightly, and his gentle smile soothed Ling Miao’s anxiety. “It looks like you don’t want to talk. That’s fine. I’ll go find Feng Ji.”
Leaving Ling Miao frozen to the spot, Su Yuyang carried the two empty coffee cups to the counter.
“You’re done chatting already?”
Su Yuyang grimaced. “He only tells the truth when you provoke him.”
“Provoke—he’s the sort who flares up at anything as long as you poke at the right spot.”
“Do you want to know his feelings toward you?” Feng Ji said, suddenly nosy.
Su Yuyang rolled his eyes at Feng Ji, who pretended not to see. Su Yuyang sneered: “You think I don’t know his feelings toward me? It’s the admiration of a fan for his idol, the resentment of a worker towards his boss, and a lot of frustration that I have power over him and use it.”
“Tsk tsk tsk.” Feng Ji shook his head in disappointment. “Thinking little of yourself isn’t like you. When I was chasing you, you weren’t like this.”
“I’m not pursuing Ling Miao,” Su Yuyang shot back immediately. That was an abnormally quick reaction.
Feng Ji understood the situation now. Both Ling Miao and Su Yuyang didn’t think very well of each other, but…
The image of Su Yuyang touching Ling Miao slipped into Feng Ji’s mind without warning. Déjà vu wrapped around Feng Ji like a net, so tightly he felt he might suffocate.
Feng Ji wouldn’t go after something that was no longer his. After all, he was the one who gave up Su Yuyang in the first place. With a deep breath, Feng Ji regained his composure, but Su Yuyang had already vanished.
“Hey, Su Yuyang!” Ling Miao’s angry shout came. Feng Ji looked in the direction of the sound. Ling Miao had stood up and was yelling down at Su Yuyang.
At the familiar opening line, Su Yuyang moved his chair. What a joke—the moment Ling Miao got upset he’d send spit flying, and Su Yuyang didn’t want to go home drenched.
Feng Ji noticed Su Yuyang’s actions and found them strange, but several seconds later, he realized why Su Yuyang had moved.
“Su Yuyang, today we’ll have it out! Don’t think that you can do whatever you want to me just because you’re my idol and my boss! It’s just a job! I can quit! Fuck, it’s not like I can’t live without this job!”
“But if you lose this job you’ll have to sleep under the pedestrian bridge.” Su Yuyang calmly watched Ling Miao panicking.
“I can take you in,” Feng Ji added.
“I don’t want that! You two’re in cahoots!”
Feng Ji was surprised. When did he incur Ling Miao’s ire too?
Feng Ji turned his gaze toward Su Yuyang, as if asking what the latter had said to anger Ling Miao.
Su Yuyang said honestly: “I said that W&S had good employees and that it wouldn’t be hard to ditch Ling Miao, and that he should come here and learn, but…” Su Yuyang shrugged, his expression saying, “you see the outcome”.
“Eh… actually, that’s reasonable…” Feng Ji hadn’t even finished speaking when Ling Miao glared at him.
Ling Miao’s fierce gaze seemed to want to skin Feng Ji alive.
“Hey, don’t talk out of your ass! Was that what you meant?” Ling Miao was unhappy. “Didn’t you say the staff uniforms here were nice…”
Su Yuyang knew that Ling Miao was going to repeat his words verbatim. Then Feng Ji would laugh at him—that was actually okay, but if Feng Ji told that other person about this, the next time Su Yuyang met that person he’d definitely have a hard time.
“That… Feng Ji, I’m leaving.” Su Yuyang cut Ling Miao off, grabbed Ling Miao’s hand and walked quickly out of W&S.
It was a sunny day outside, but Su Yuyang felt a chill at his back, dark and foreboding.
The source of the chill had deigned to speak. Su Yuyang squared his shoulders and turned around casually. “What’s up?”
“What you said today. Was it genuine?”
Ling Miao’s tone was steady, calm as a lake.
Of course, Su Yuyang knew what the ‘what you said’ was referring to, but he didn’t know how to answer.