Ling Miao’s eyes were trained on the glass of the bathroom door. Only when the silhouette on the door began to make the motions of showering did Ling Miao get up and go to the kitchen.
What was Ling Miao going to do? Turn off the hot water!
This was Chongqing’s¹ coolest May in 18 years, and the temperatures were lower than they were during the same time last year. Also, Su Yuyang was someone who wore a jacket as soon as the slightest wind blew. So making Su Yuyang take a cold shower in this sort of weather was like making him wear short sleeves in winter.
Even though Ling Miao had turned off the water heater, some hot water still remained in the pipes, so Su Yuyang didn’t immediately realize something was amiss. As the first jet of cold water landed on Su Yuyang’s head, he froze for half a second, then yelled, “Aaah!”
Ling Miao heard the aggrieved cry come from the bathroom. He covered his mouth and began to laugh, then quickly sat down on the sofa.
The water had turned cold without any warning. Su Yuyang listened closely and didn’t hear the rumble of the water heater.
“Damn, if the building cut the power they could at least say something first!” Su Yuyang cursed as he walked out, head still covered in suds.
Ling Miao was sitting on the sofa watching television, still wearing a faint smile. Su Yuyang looked at Ling Miao’s profile and thought to himself: You’re so happy just watching a news channel. You’re really too easily entertained…
Su Yuyang took a closer look and frowned thoughtfully. Ling Miao’s smile is too smug! Another thought came to Su Yuyang: Did Ling Miao turn off the water heater?
At this point, Su Yuyang had walked into the kitchen to assess the situation. The stove came on, but the plug of the water heater had been pulled.
Indeed, it was Ling Miao’s doing!
“Ling Miao!” Su Yuyang rushed to Ling Miao, grabbed him by the collar, and lifted him up. “Did you turn off the water heater?”
Ling Miao hadn’t the slightest intention of defending himself and nodded candidly. Su Yuyang looked down at Ling Miao from above, the sparks flying from his eyes burning welts onto Ling Miao’s body, but Ling Miao wasn’t cowed. When Ling Miao had decided to do this, he had already resigned himself to losing his job.
Staying by Su Yuyang’s side wasn’t especially tiring, but the man himself exhausted Ling Miao. Sometimes Ling Miao would think: before he met Su Yuyang, he hadn’t offended him in any way. Why did Su Yuyang always give him a hard time?
After becoming Su Yuyang’s assistant, he’d indeed done many things wrong, but Su Yuyang had already punished him!
Ling Miao could endure all of the above, but the thing that aggrieved him from the bottom of his heart was Su Yuyang suspecting him of being an anti-fan!
Shu Yang’s fanbase all recognized Ling Miao as a die-hard fan. When Shu Yang released a new novel, Ling Miao led the fandom. Ling Miao moderated almost every one of Shu Yang’s fan groups and headed almost all of Shu Yang’s books’ discussion forums. But today, Shu Yang himself had said he suspected Ling Miao of being an anti-fan sent to smear his name.
Ling Miao usually had a heart of steel, but when it came to Shu Yang he had a heart of glass! Even though Su Yuyang admitted afterward that he had only said what he did to scare Ling Miao, Ling Miao’s glass heart already lay shattered on the ground.
A heart of glass with its pieces scattered over the ground could not be mended!
“You won’t be satisfied until I kick you out, right?” Su Yuyang let go of Ling Miao. He sat down on the sofa and looked up at Ling Miao, but to his surprise, Ling Miao wasn’t perturbed in the least. There was even a sort of relief in Ling Miao’s eyes.
Relief? Leaving me is a relief to him? In that case, why did he even apply for the job in the first place? Su Yuyang began to see Ling Miao in a different light, and curiosity and confusion appeared amidst his anger.
“Su Yuyang, from the bottom of my heart, I despise you.” Disdain tugged at the corner of Ling Miao’s lips. “I’m telling you now. I quit!”
Ling Miao proudly slammed Su Yuyang’s house keys on the coffee table. The keys dug into his hand and he almost cried out, but his stubbornness made him turn the pained cry into a sneer.
Ling Miao opened the door without any lingering regret and slammed the door shut behind him.
Su Yuyang reflexively turned his head. Looking at the door Ling Miao had slammed, images of his interactions with Ling Miao flashed before his eyes. He froze for several seconds before grimacing:
“He left—so be it. I’m too tired to find another assistant.”
Su Yuyang took the keys and walked to his room. Suddenly, he caught sight of a roll of something in the corner—it was the bed Ling Miao slept on at night.
Beside the padding and blankets were Ling Miao’s two suitcases, one big and one small. The small one held clothes; to Su Yuyang’s recollection, Ling Miao had never opened the other one.
As if possessed, Su Yuyang walked over. With a glance, he saw that neither suitcase was locked. Suddenly, Su Yuyang really wanted to open the big suitcase and look inside.
Su Yuyang’s hands moved of their own accord; after the thought occurred to him to look, his hands immediately opened the suitcase. As he came to his senses, he saw…
“These…” Su Yuyang was stunned into silence. Surprise, joy, and guilt overflowed in his heart at the same time.
Inside Ling Miao’s bigger suitcase were all of Su Yuyang’s books! Su Yuyang’s gaze swept across the spine of every book, and his eyes inexplicably filled with tears. From the first series Heavenly Domain to the current Massacre of the Nine Heavens, Ling Miao had gotten physical copies of every book, including the comic spin-offs.
Su Yuyang picked up one of the books, his hands shaking so much that he almost dropped it on the floor. He flipped open the cover with trembling fingers. On the inside cover was his own signature.
“Ling Miao. No wonder he…”
Now Su Yuyang understood why Ling Miao was so angry. His fingers traced the spine of every book, stopping between the last book of Heavenly Domain and the first book of Demonic Song Defying Heaven: a slip of paper was wedged between the two books.
Missing Heavenly Domain’s complete commemorative edition.
Only one thousand copies of the complete commemorative edition of Heavenly Domain had been printed, and the people who had gotten their hands on it were incredibly lucky. It wasn’t in stores any more, but Su Yuyang had kept a set for himself.
A thought came to the forefront of Su Yuyang’s mind: Should I give my set to Ling Miao?
As this thought appeared, a scene unfolded before Su Yuyang’s eyes: Ling Miao taking the complete commemorative edition of Heavenly Domain from Su Yuyang’s hands. Ling Miao sneering, then hitting Su Yuyang’s head with the book. “I don’t want your charity!” After which Ling Miao walked off, chin held high.
“Forget it. I’ll think about it when he comes back.”
Su Yuyang thought that Ling Miao would definitely return because Ling Miao’s things were still here—aside from his cellphone, Ling Miao hadn’t taken anything with him.
Icy wind flooded through Ling Miao’s collar and sleeves, sweeping across Ling Miao’s body. Ling Miao shivered and complained quietly: “If I’d known how cold it was, I’d just have held it in and not walked out! No, that’s not right. I want this. Su Yuyang, hmph. Don’t think you’re so high and mighty. You rub me the wrong way, I’ll teach you!”
Ling Miao had already decided where to go when he exited the building. As he walked out the door he had called Ji Linxi, but the latter was working overtime and wouldn’t get off work until late in the evening. Ling Miao initially thought of going to Ji Linxi’s office to wait for him, but Ji Linxi said that his boss Hu Lin was around and Ling Miao decided he didn’t want to go up after all.
Ling Miao waited outside Ji Linxi’s office building. The night wind was so cold that he wanted to curl his entire body into his clothes.
Cough, cough—wouldn’t that make you a turtle?!
Fuck off, I don’t need you to remind me!
Ling Miao was about to freeze solid as Ji Linxi emerged.
“Couldn’t you have found a diner to wait in?” In Ji Linxi’s eyes was not concern for Ling Miao but two words: Dumb cat!
“Fuck, I don’t wanna be glared at by the owner.” Ling Miao moved to step on Ji Linxi’s foot, but Ji Linxi nimbly dodged it.
Seeing Hu Lin walking over from the corner of his eye, Ji Linxi dragged Ling Miao off.
In the car, Ling Miao asked Ji Linxi: “You haven’t eaten, right?”
“I’ll just make instant noodles at home,” Ji Linxi said indifferently.
“The restaurants are all closed by now, but barbeque stands might still be open. There’s one near the business district. My treat.”
Ji Linxi frowned. He looked Ling Miao over from head to toe as if scanning him, and asked suspiciously: “You’re really Ling Miao?”
“Su Yuyang’s money. Might as well spend it.” When Ling Miao said Su Yuyang’s name, his frustration audibly surfaced. Ji Linxi was still wondering why Ling Miao had called him today, but the moment he heard Ling Miao’s tone, he sort of understood—most likely Su Yuyang had provoked Ling Miao and the latter had run away.
Run away? That sounded like Ji Linxi already thought of Ling Miao as Su Yuyang’s property. Ling Miao, Su Yuyang’s property? That was pretty weird to think about.
After ordering food, Ji Linxi leaned close to Ling Miao and whispered teasingly in his ear: “Ling Miao, you didn’t kill him and rob him and run away with the loot, did you?”
“That’s the grocery money Su Yuyang gave me this month. I’m about to resign, so I’ll take the rest as severance pay.”
“You’re doing pretty well at Su Yuyang’s place. Why suddenly resign?” Ji Linxi asked, not understanding.
So Ling Miao told Ji Linxi of all Su Yuyang’s evil deeds. He did embellish the details a bit, but everything Ji Linxi heard was the absolute truth—Ling Miao’s storytelling ability was really bad.
At length, Ji Linxi came to a conclusion: Ling Miao’s letting his pride get in the way again.
“Actually, you still kind of like Su Yuyang, right?”
“Wrong!” Ling Miao corrected. “I like Shu Yang, not Su Yuyang! Su Yuyang is just my boss—my ex-boss. Shu Yang is my idol.”
“Aren’t they the same person?”
“Not the same.” Ling Miao took a sip of wine. As the bitter alcohol trickled down his throat, Ling Miao said blandly, “I like Shu Yang… let’s rephrase that to ‘I admire him.’ We both use words, but he puts those same words together into exciting and unforgettable scenes, while I… forget it. I’ll cry if I say any more. As for Su Yuyang, there’s only one way to describe him and me—heh heh.”
Ji Linxi folded his arms over his chest and thought hard. As Ling Miao finished the bottle of wine, Ji Linxi said weakly: “Flawless logic. I don’t get it.”
“Heh. Even I don’t fully get it.” Ling Miao poured himself another glass of wine.
Ling Miao’s intention to get drunk was becoming clearer and clearer, so Ji Linxi didn’t dare to drink too much. When Ling Miao lay down on the table, Ji Linxi called for the bill. Of course, Ji Linxi paid for it all.
Ji Linxi dragged Ling Miao back to their rented apartment and had just tossed Ling Miao on the bed when Ling Miao’s phone rang.
“Su Yuyang. What’s he calling for?”