Having been banished to the cold palace, Charles went to take a shower. Afterwards, he slathered some shaving cream onto his cheeks and chin and slowly shaved himself clean. The carefulness in which he conducted the act made it seem as if he had an important date coming up.
Due to the unfair contract Tang Feng had signed with Charles today, Tang Feng had to give Charles a massage, even though Charles had been the one causing him trouble.
Charles quickly came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. His face was smooth and his hair had been swept backwards. The clean hairstyle only highlighted his distinctive features. Charles had always been manly.
Tang Feng frowned when he noticed the towel that seemed on the verge of slipping off wrapped around the other man’s waist. “Can’t you put your clothes on properly?” Tang Feng narrowed his eyes, standing beside a table prepared with a series of massage and body oils.
“Aren’t you supposed to take off your clothes for a massage?” Charles blinked flirtatiously at Tang Feng.
Charles reached down to pull his towel off, but then he noticed someone very familiar sitting in the corner of the room.
“Lu Tian Chen, are you going to watch the whole time? Enough, my dear friend, why don’t you leave? I don’t want you to see me naked. You’ll be wrapped in an inferiority complex after seeing me. I’m miserable just thinking about how you’ll have to live in my shadow for the rest of your life,” Charles boasted, clearly leading people to misunderstand.
Lu Tian Chen was sitting in an armchair and reading a book. He glanced up at Charles, who was showing off his naked chest and abdomen. He shut his book with a clean snap; Tang Feng glanced back at the sound.
“I live here,” Lu Tian Chen said simply.
“What?” They were in Tang Feng’s room for god’s sake. Charles looked as if he’d swallowed a smelly egg. He then reacted and smiled. “What a coincidence, I live here as well.”
“Oh, babe, harder! Yup, yup, right there. It’s so comfortable…” Laying with his face down on the mattress and a towel covering the lower half of his body, Charles kept on giving out misleading moans.
Tang Feng was sitting at Charles’s side, his fingers on the man’s spine. Charles had a good body; his skin also felt great to the touch after rubbing it with oils. But that wasn’t good enough of a reason for Tang Feng to like giving Charles massages. He didn’t like serving others at all.
“Right here?” Tang Feng moved his fingers to Charles’ butt. An evil smile on his face, he pinched it forcefully. Then copying Charles’ exaggerated tone, he said, “Wow, babe, your little butt is so firm.”
Tang Feng heard a chuckle come from Lu Tian Chen’s corner.
In all the years Lu Tian Chen had known Charles, it was the first time he came across someone who dared to tease the wild bear, and for it to be Tang Feng out of all people.
Who could have imagined it? Half a year ago, Tang Feng had been an arrogant second-generation rich idiot. He appeared fierce on the outside, but was a coward at heart. The first time he’d met Charles, he appeared like a rabbit standing stock-still in front of a predator, unable to utter a word.
Half a year later, Charles had turned from a ferocious wild bear into a tame brown bear that knows how to smile at people.
Then what about himself? Lu Tian Chen placed his book down and walked toward the other two. He made sure that he slept with them in the same room every night. Otherwise, a certain bear was going to swallow up the rabbit overnight.
The three of them usually never cooked while at home. Oftentimes, they went out to eat at restaurants or would hire someone to come and cook for them. When Tang Feng opened the fridge the next morning, he found it largely dominated by cans of beer, jugs of milk, and a few cartons of juice. Luckily, there was a small selection of simple ingredients he could use to make breakfast.
Tang Feng stooped down and picked out a few that seemed easy to cook: Eggs, sausages, and a few potatoes.
“My dear god, darling, are you going to make breakfast for me? I am moved beyond belief. I never knew you were good with housework. I feel like I got a bargain.” Charles had woken up at the same time as Tang Feng, but the actor had been fast and got to the bathroom first. Charles didn’t want to shower in another bathroom, so he had to wait until Tang Feng was finished. After showering, Charles strolled out late to see Tang Feng pulling out stuff from the fridge.
Lu Tian Chen on the other hand, had chosen to shower in his own room and was already sitting on the couch reading the newspaper.
“No, it’s not for you.” Tang Feng pulled out the eggs, sausages, and potatoes and walked over to the open kitchen situated beside the living room. What should he make first? Right, cut the sausages apart, chop up the potatoes, and he also needed some cooking oil.
“If not for me, then who is it for?” Charles walked down the stairs. He felt something was off the second the question left his mouth. He abruptly turned to glare at Lu Tian Chen.
Lu Tian Chen turned over a page, and said calmly, “It’s for me.”
“Why?” Charles wasn’t happy.
“Because Tang Feng feels like it,” Lu Tian Chen responded in the same calm voice.
Tang Feng looked through the cupboards and finally found a bottle of oil. He’d completely ignored the battle of jealousy occurring in the living room.
Standing before the cutting board, Tang Feng picked up a knife and cut one of the sausages in half. He gave his work an appreciative glance. See, he was quite good at cutting sausages.
He arranged the two halves of the sausage on the plate next to the cutting board and quickly turned to tackle the potatoes. He said to himself, “I only need to chop them into big pieces. That should be fairly easy.”
Reality however, turned out differently. Just because someone liked to eat potatoes, it didn’t mean they were good at chopping them. Tang Feng picked up the cutting knife and swung it down hard on the potatoes. At the loud sound, both Lu Tian Chen and Charles paused in their bickering and looked in the direction of the kitchen.
They walked over to see what Tang Feng was doing. The actor had already finished cutting the potatoes apart. Seeing the other two, he pointed proudly at the irregular pieces on the cutting board, each still carrying the skin. “Look, didn’t I chop them well?”
Tang Feng’s smile showed that he was waiting for praises. Charles immediately swallowed the snarky remarks he was about to make.
“You did well.” There was a reason why Lu Tian Chen was a good businessman. He lied without thinking too much about it, as smooth as singing a song.
“It’s great!” Charles wasn’t willing to lose. In any case, he wasn’t going to be eating those potatoes.
After cutting apart the sausages and potatoes, Tang Feng turned on the stove. Lu Tian Chen reminded him, “You have to warm up the oil before putting in the potatoes.”
“I know that. I’ve seen it on those cooking shows.” Tang Feng picked up the bottle of oil and poured it into the pan. When he set it down, half the bottle was empty.
“It’s fried potatoes anyways. It doesn’t matter how much oil he puts in.” Charles chuckled off to the side, a mischievous glee in his eyes.
Tang Feng didn’t disappoint Charles. He tossed everything he’d chopped up into the pan of oil. Beside the potatoes and sausages, he also added two eggs.
Luckily, Tang Feng knew that he had to break the eggshell before adding in the eggs.
Charles and Lu Tian Chen watched as Tang Feng added a large spoonful of salt. Probably thinking that it wasn’t enough, the actor then dumped some ketchup and black pepper into the pan.
In the end, Tang Feng had turned up the stove too much. The eggs were a misshapen burnt lump, the potatoes were more black than gold, and the sausages were charred in places.
“Oh, the ketchup and black pepper should have gone in dip bowls on the plate, right?” After turning off the heat, Tang Feng finally remembered that the potatoes he’d eaten before were usually paired with a series of condiment bowls.
The other two didn’t know how to reply to his question.
Charles patted Lu Tian Chen on the shoulder. “Tang Feng had especially prepared this breakfast for you. You should eat all of it up.”
“I know it looks a bit ugly, but I think it should taste fine. You can try a bit if you want. If you don’t, then just toss it into the trashcan. I’ve already called for takeout.” The doorbell ringed right at that moment. Tang Feng washed his hands and handed the plate piled to the top with his loving breakfast to Lu Tian Chen. “The takeout is here. I’ll go get the door.”
Lu Tian Chen silently accepted the plate. Charles couldn’t resist a laugh as he walked past to chase after Tang Feng. The actor had already accepted the box of takeout. Lu Tian Chen’s condition was “to make him breakfast.” He didn’t say how the breakfast should taste. Tang Feng had fulfilled his task perfectly, but he knew that the plate of food he’d made looked rather terrible. The taste probably wouldn’t be great either.
“I bought congee, a lot of it.” Tang Feng added with a hint of embarrassment, “It’s the first time I’ve made breakfast. You don’t have to eat it.”
He was afraid Lu Tian Chen was going to have an upset stomach afterwards.
Lu Tian Chen picked up a piece of fried potato and put it in his mouth. “The taste is okay. It’s your first time, isn’t it?” It was a reply that led one’s mind into the gutters. From one perspective, Tang Feng’s first time definitely belonged to Lu Tian Chen. From another, Tang Feng’s first time in this life occurred on the night when Charles had drugged him.
But Tang Feng didn’t want to waste time explaining that.
Charles’ face darkened at his friend’s words. “I am an openminded man.”
They passed the morning in the strange atmosphere. Keeping up a straight face, Lu Tian Chen managed to eat all of the unknown matter that Tang Feng had made. The actor didn’t feel a single ounce of guilt; he didn’t force Lu Tian Chen to eat after all.
In the afternoon, Charles drove Tang Feng to the filming location. As for why it wasn’t Lu Tian Chen, that was because the president was suffering from a case of upset stomach.
Gino gritted his teeth in pain as Tang Feng forcefully rubbed the places he’d been hit. “Is this how you should treat your savior?”
“Aren’t I the one who saved you in the end? Otherwise, you’d be a bloody mess by the time Charles is through with you.”
“Why do you know a violent bastard like that? He doesn’t suit you at all. Tang, you should keep your distance from people like that. They’re all heartless vampires who’ll suck you dry and then leave you to rot on the floor.” Gino stared at the other actor. Tang Feng’s lips were a bit swollen. It didn’t take much for Gino to figure out how it’d happened.
Gino felt as if that goddamn Charles had kicked him in the chest along with the stomach, otherwise his chest wouldn’t feel so heavy.
“I feel like I have internal injuries. My chest hurts a lot right now. Goddamn it, I’m going to sue him!” Not only did his chest hurt, Gino was having trouble breathing. He felt was if he were on the verge of dying.
“Don’t be a child. If you sue him, the two of you will probably end up with the same sentence. Don’t forget that you made the first move, Mr. Michael Gino.” Tang Feng was surprised by Gino’s brashness. The latter had swung a fist at Charles without asking anything beforehand. Charles also liked to hold grudges; Gino’s name was probably already on his blacklist. Tang Feng decided that he needs to give Charles a few good kicks after returning home.
Tang Feng glanced at Gino, the other actor was staring at him like a child who’d been reprimanded for something he didn’t do. As expected, the good-natured image Gino had projected when they’d first met in China was something that Tang Feng had conjured up himself. The willful and demanding overgrown child that was sitting in front of him right now was the Gino that he once knew.
Gino had been born in a wealthy family and been given a top-class education; a fortunate life indeed. Of course, that meant Gino had the terrible attitude that was the result of all the pampering from his family and his manager.
“Next time, I’m going to beat him into the ground!” Gino promised to himself.
Tang Feng chuckled. Charles didn’t get his muscles by training in the gym, that was obvious from the way he had fought with Gino earlier.
Gino’s punches had clearly been learned from a coach in a gym, with an emphasis on rules and a good form.
On the other hand, Charles fought like a gangster on the street. There were no rules or patterns in his way of fighting, but one look and Tang Feng knew that Charles had plenty of fighting experience; he was going for the kill with every punch and kick he’d landed on Gino.
As for good sportsmanship?
When it came to a fight with real knives and guns, who had the time to care about sportsmanship? In any case, they weren’t competitors fighting a fair match in a competition.
Due to the fight, Gino had a difficult time filming his scenes during the afternoon. He ended up having a long chat with the director about his role and what he should portray. Tang Feng got to leave early as a result.
There was a violent bear named Charles waiting for him at home. Tang Feng had to sign an unfair contract with Charles during lunch in order to make the bear leave “calmly.”
While Tang Feng was collecting his things and preparing to leave with his assistant, Lu Tian Chen drove over to pick him up.
“President Lu, aren’t you busy?” Tang Feng sat beside Lu Tian Chen in the car. This routine of theirs had been occurring for a few days already. Lu Tian Chen would come pick him up whenever he had time. Though theoretically, Lu Tian Chen shouldn’t have so much free time as the CEO of a large company.
“I only need to assign tasks for my employees to do and then wait for the money to roll into my bank account.” Lu Tian Chen slowly pulled the car out of the filming location. While turning the steering wheel, he glanced at Tang Feng. “I’m an investor, a businessman. Not a laborer, okay?”
“Right, of course, I’m the laborer.” Goddamn capitalists who only know how to exploit the working class.
Lu Tian Chen smiled and said nothing in response. Tang Feng suddenly found that he was getting along more naturally and peacefully with both Lu Tian Chen and Charles. The initial conflicts and wariness that had existed between them were being eroded away by their daily conversations. This should count as a good thing.
Perhaps they could become good friends in the end, emphasis on “good friends.”
“Charles came over to visit you today, right? He said he was going to give you a surprise,” Lu Tian Chen said.
“Yes, a surprise. Though an unpleasant shock would be more accurate. He’d beaten up Gino, even though Gino did make the first move. But it was all a misunderstanding in the end.” Tang Feng sighed as he glanced out the window. The temperature wouldn’t go down until the evening. The wind that blew over his face brought the heat along with it. He quickly rolled up the window.
“Charles has a hard fist.”
Tang Feng smiled and looked at Lu Tian Chen. “It sounds like you’ve fought with him before?”
“There are times when men have to compare their fists.” Lu Tian Chen smiled and seemed to be recalling a memory.
Tang Feng imagined Lu Tian Chen and Charles beating each other up. Out of curiosity, he asked, “Where did you guys fight? In an arena? Who won?”
“Who do you want to win?”
“Hmm… I bet it was a draw. I’ve never seen you fight before, but I remember you saying that you’re good at beating people up. As for Charles, I just had an opportunity to see him fight. I’m guessing the two of you are around the same level,” Tang Feng analyzed with a furrowed brow.
Lu Tian Chen laughed, he seemed quite amused from the sound of his deep chuckle.
“Yup, you’re right. You’re not far off the mark.”
“Tell me more about it?” Lu Tian Chen always stopped in the middle of a story. Tang Feng was curious to know more. As someone who was practicing martial arts at the moment, he was interested in anything having to do with fighting.
Despite being of Chinese descent in his past life, he only counted as half-Chinese at most. He had grown up in America, even though he’d delved into the Chinese language and culture, his education was still solidly rooted in American culture. His friends had also been American. As a result, he didn’t have a deep understanding of Chinese culture or martial arts.
Charles was half-Chinese to begin with, so he was practically the same as Tang Feng. But Lu Tian Chen was different. From appearances, Lu Tian Chen was a full easterner.
“Then like Charles, am I supposed to obtain a promise from you in exchange?” Even though Lu Tian Chen had phrased it like a question, his tone of voice showed that he was serious. As a businessman, Lu Tian Chen didn’t offer free services.
“You rely on your power too much, you vampire-like capitalist.”
“Thank you for the compliment.” Lu Tian Chen’s skin was getting to be as thick as the Great Wall of China. Tang Feng hated coming across thick-skinned people.
After hesitating for a moment, he asked, “What do you want in exchange?” He would decide whether to accept or not after hearing the conditions.
“Aren’t you free tomorrow morning? Why don’t you make me breakfast,” Lu Tian Chen stated.
Tang Feng raised an eyebrow. Had he heard him correctly? Had Lu Tian Chen just asked him to make breakfast?
“Are you sure?” Tang Feng remembered mentioning that he couldn’t cook, so he didn’t how to make breakfast. He was inept at even the simple tasks of frying an egg and making toast.
Everyone had their strengths and weaknesses. He had a lot of strengths, but cooking was definitely one of his weaknesses. But he didn’t plan on jogging Lu Tian Chen’s memory about that. After all, a request like making breakfast was well within his capabilities.
“Yes, is there a problem?”
“No, of course not.” There wasn’t a problem at all. He wouldn’t be the one eating the breakfast he made.
“Only for me,” Lu Tian Chen added after a long while.
“I know.” Tang Feng had no plans of poisoning someone else, though it didn’t matter if it were Charles. If they could shove it down their throats, then he could make whatever they wanted to eat.
Staring out the window, Tang Feng chuckled to himself.
When Lu Tian Chen and Tang Feng returned to their apartment, Charles was already sitting on the dark leather couch inside, waiting for them. A cigar was hanging from his mouth, the corner of which was still red, clearly a result of the fight with Gino. Rather than ruining the perverted bear’s looks, the wound added a rugged handsomeness to his appearance.
“You’re hurting my heart, babe!” Charles started complaining the minute he saw the other two.
“I’m not your babe, Charles.” Tang Feng walked in and hung the black bag he’d been carrying on a hook beside the door. The bag held an assortment of vitamins, his phone, and eyedrops; they were all things that came in handy while he was onset.
“You kissed an idiot this morning, then you let that idiot punch me during lunch. And now you’re standing in front of me with my best friend and acting like you two are married!” Charles’ exaggerated tone made Tang Feng laugh. The perverted bear was letting his imagination run wild again. Like how Lu Tian Chen had developed a penchant for cracking dry jokes here and there, Charles was also getting better at his cringeworthy humor.
Tang Feng felt as if he were living with two lunatics.
“That’s right.” Going along with Charles’ words, Tang Feng smiled and wrapped an arm around Lu Tian Chen’s waist. He raised his chin and said, “I have a new favorite. You’ve been banished to the , Charles.”
Lu Tian Chen smiled and made no response. Charles glared at the other two. “You two have hurt me deeply.”
All the scenes planned for the morning were completed in a smooth fashion. The director was glad to see that Tang Feng and Gino’s collaboration were up to his standards, but there were still a few hiccups here and there during filming. For the first take of the kiss scene, Gino had used too much force and ended up pushing Tang Feng into the ground.
For the second take, Tang Feng held his spot, Gino also used less force, but the director was the one unhappy this time. “Have the two of you been dating for ten years? Come on, I want to see some excitement and conflict! Now’s not the time to be lovey-dovey.”
Everybody laughed at the director’s remarks.
They finally passed the scene during the third take. However, Gino had bitten Tang Feng’s lips during the kiss, and a trace of blood lingered beside Tang Feng’s lips when they broke apart. The director quickly ordered a close-up shot of Tang Feng’s face and praised Gino for his unintended mistake. The followers of God were kissing in front of the figure of God, and one of the monks had received a bitten lip in the process. They had broken another taboo; exactly as the director had wanted it.
Tang Feng took a break in his trailer while a few assistants took off his makeup and cleaned up the wound on his lip. It was common for celebrities to have a few assistants around them. It wasn’t for the sake of appearing important, it was simply a necessary step in becoming a professional actor. A professional actor needed a professional team backing him up.
Lu Tian Chen had found quite a few people from Hollywood to help him, but it’d turned out the same as the last time that Lu Tian Chen had found a tutor for him: Tang Feng ended up becoming the tutor himself. In the end, Tang Feng picked out the members of his team himself. After spending a few decades in the industry, Tang Feng had a pair of discerning eyes. He knew where to look to find the people he needed.
Sometimes, a foreign billionaire wasn’t as efficient and resourceful as a native of the country.
For the majority of the time, Tang Feng liked to hole up in his trailer alone. After the assistants finished their work, they left the trailer without exchanging any small talk. Tang Feng especially liked this professionality of theirs.
Small talk and other conversations could be saved for outside of work. Even if he were taking a break, he was still focused on the movie.
He had to go over the script for the scenes this afternoon and prepare himself.
“Gino sure used a lot of force.” Tang Feng stared at his lip in the mirror. He was missing a layer of skin, but it wasn’t too bad. His efforts weren’t all for naught; they’d passed in just three takes.
At that moment, the sound of knocking came on his trailer door.
Tang Feng stood up. Was it one of the staff members who’d forgotten to tell him about something? Or was Gino here to go over the script again?
He’d only opened the door a smidgeon, but the person outside immediately forced the door open themselves. Tang Feng was forced to take a few steps backwards. The person squeezed themselves into the trailer and shut the door behind them.
“Charles, when did―” When did you come back?
Before Tang Feng could finish his words, Charles had already caught his mouth in a kiss. The man wrapped his arms tightly around Tang Feng’s shoulders and waist, his tongue attacking the other’s mouth like a machine gun firing at a wall. Tang Feng pushed at him, but Charles forced him step by step onto the trailer’s bed like a stubborn ox.
Tang Feng crashed onto the bed. Even though the mattress was soft, the landing still hurt. Tang Feng grabbed a fistful of Charles’ collar and slammed his other fist against the man’s abdomen. Charles grunted and finally released Tang Feng, whose lips were red and swollen.
“Are you in your mating period again? Then go find someone out on the streets, don’t treat me as―”
Charles smiled and rubbed a finger against Tang Feng’s lips, cutting the actor off. He stared down at Tang Feng with a lecherous smile on his face. “My dear, I’ve missed you. Don’t you miss me at all?”
“I miss kicking you in the butt.” Who would miss a pervert like Charles? Tang Feng would rather Charles go on a trip somewhere far away and never come looking for him again. It’d be even better if Charles could find someone else to stick to on his trip.
“I’ll let you kick me all you want tonight.” Charles waggled his eyebrows suggestively at Tang Feng.
At Charles’ reply, Tang Feng felt as if he’d swallowed a disgusting fly. Irritated, he placed his hands on Charles’ shoulders and warned, “It’d be best if a masochist like you could get off me now. Otherwise, I’m going to kick you in your Little Charlie.”
“Oh no, it’s not Little Charlie. It’s very big…” Charles chuckled and lowered his head. He said next to the actor’s ear, in that low voice of his, “You should be well aware of that. It even told me to bring you a message: It misses you as well.”
“You’re obscene.” Tang Feng punched Charles in the shoulder. “All right, get off.”
Between filming, if Tang Feng wasn’t studying the script, then he was practicing martial arts. In his past life, he’d already developed the habit of drinking tea and practicing tai chi. With a basic knowledge of tai chi, it wasn’t too difficult to learn the fist.
“No, we still have one more step to go through.” Charles was persistent, and refused to let Tang Feng escape from his hold.
Having just trained in Wing Chun for a few months, Tang Feng was still incapable of kicking aside Charles or Lu Tian Chen; both men had years of fighting experience on him. Tang Feng could attempt to stand up while Charles was still laying on top of him, but that would make too much noise. If someone got curious and came to see what was going on, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight.
“Exactly what do you want?”
“A purging,” Charles firmly spit out two words.
Tang Feng didn’t understand what Charles meant. He raised an eyebrow, and asked, “What?”
“You kissed another man this morning. Look, I’m a gentleman from head to toe. I’m also more openminded than most people. I know I should be supportive of your job and everything that comes with it. I also know that I shouldn’t take offense at the fact that you must kiss someone else for the sake of your job.” Charles suddenly paused. He inched closer to Tang Feng and stared deeply at the actor.
Just when Tang Feng was about to speak, Charles picked up his words in a radically different tone. Somewhat viciously, he said, “But you know what, I don’t like it at all! I don’t like seeing you kiss other people. I seriously want to blow that Michael Gino into fucking bits and pieces right now!
“Oh god, I swore. Excuse my profanity, dear. It’s a bit difficult trying to control myself right now. You know, I simply care too much for you. I care for you more than anyone else in the world.” Charles appeared a bit drained and helpless after his outburst. Pretending to be cute, he blinked innocently at Tang Feng.
“What an honor.” Tang Feng had waited patiently during Charles’ entire outburst. He knew that no matter the reason, Charles wouldn’t stop until he’d vented his fill.
“Tang, you’re a truly understanding man. I love you to death. Come, give me a kiss.” Charles pursed his lips and conducted his “purging” like he said he would.
Tang Feng pushed at Charles. Enough was enough, he didn’t want to get dragged into a French kiss or some other ordeal while he was onset for the movie.
“Babe, it’s not enough. I want―”
“Hey! You bastard, let go of him!”
Before Charles could spew out more disgustingly sugary words, he received a fist right across the face. The force knocked him sideways and he almost fell onto the ground. For a man who was all about keeping up appearances, it was a once in a lifetime experience.
Tang Feng looked up to see Gino standing inside his trailer.
The blond man rolled up his sleeves and leveled another punch at Charles. Having just being punched, Charles wasn’t going to wait around for a repeat. He dodged Gino’s fist and sent out a kick of his own. “What kind of place did trash like you spring from?”
Quickly, Charles and Gino ended up in an all-out brawl. Tang Feng slammed the trailer door shut and yelled, “Hey! The two of you, stop it!”
“Ow! Lighter, lighter! Are my looks ruined?” Half an hour later, Tang Feng was sitting beside Gino with some rubbing alcohol in his hands. Gino sucked in a breath and stared at himself in the mirror. The corner of his mouth was bleeding.
“Deal with it if you’re a man. Stop complaining like a little kid.” Fortunately, Charles had only punched Gino once in the face. Compared to Gino, Charles was someone who truly knew how to fight; every punch and kick he’d landed was in a spot hidden by clothes.
But Tang Feng didn’t want to praise Charles. Beside the first sneak attack from Gino, Charles had been the one beating the other to death. If he hadn’t kicked Charles aside, Gino surely would’ve ended up crippled.
“Tang, don’t be so heartless. I saved you!” Gino lifted his shirt and exposed the patches of purple on his well-defined abdomen. This was the difference between people who’d only worked out in the gym and people who’d survived real fights with knives and guns.
“Also here, this place needs to be massaged as well.” Gino pointed at his abdomen.
Tang Feng rolled his eyes. He poured out some rubbing alcohol and slapped his hand onto the spot Gino had pointed at, rubbing forcefully all the while. The other actor’s face twisted into a bunch at the pain.
“He’d only tell you that he has a little calico kitten, and not a Nian.” ─Ling Shi
“Return the kitten to me! Bastard!” ─Wei *** (For the sake of anonymity).
Upon hearing that the New Year was imminent and that the Eastern City had some special traditional activities planned in place, Fan Tong merely blinked his eyes, unable to react.
Who would’ve thought that Huan Shi also celebrates the New Year? As expected, as long as you put your mind to it, you can find things that you are familiar with even in a different world.
They had half a month’s time before the last day of the year arrived. To prepare for the New Year, they needed to clean the house, make some peace charms, and prepare their offerings… Basically, they had many things to do, especially for the debt-ridden Fan Tong. He had to work in order to pay off his debt again.
After receiving the grass green tassel, Fan Tong still owed the Eastern City 250 strings of money after deducting the sum of his salary for the month and his wages from his part time jobs. And this was after he’d borrowed money from Yue Tui. Like usual, both of them with penniless and lacking in food.
Zhu Sha had some money saved up, but he obviously wouldn’t treat them to meals. They had to make do with public rations in the end. Upon hearing that the public rations would be different during the New Year’s period, Fan Tong couldn’t help but be a little excited .
Speaking of which, Yue Tui hadn’t demanded any compensation fees from Yin Shi yet, which bothered Fan Tong for a long time. For someone rich like Yin Shi, Fan Tong felt that it wouldn’t be too extreme to scam some money out of him. But the one who’d died wasn’t him, and Yue Tui had already made his decision, so Fan Tong couldn’t say anything.
If Yue Tui could extort some compensation money out of Yin Shi, we’d be living comfortable lives─
Fan Tong knew that it wasn’t good to have a “If Yue Tui had money he would definitely take care of me so Yue Tui’s money is closely related to me” mentality, but that was easier said than done. In the end, principles were worthless in the face of poverty.
As for the “seal Chen Yue” matter, he was still feeling glum about it.
He had tried to discuss it with Yue Tui before, but he’d given up after forcing out two unintelligible and reversed sentences. Regardless, he wasn’t in any rush; he could wait until Yue Tui could read the Eastern City’s language before communicating with writing. This would make the explanation clearer. After taking some classes, Yue Tui could now understand nearly half of the Eastern City’s language. Fan Tong believed that the day he could use writing to communicate with Yue Tui would soon arrive. New Residents all had plenty of time, he could wait.
Ever since being promoted to a grass green tassel, Fan Tong’s growth had stagnated. He hadn’t advanced the slightest bit towards a dark green tassel.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be promoted, but rather that he’d given up after learning that he had to pass the Wu Shu Tractor Teacher’s test before he could rise to a dark green tassel.
Despite carrying a grass green tassel, he only had the ability of a white tassel. How was he going to pass the test? He’d probably end up being toyed with before being marked as a failure.
While the condition for promotion proved to be difficult for Fan Tong, it wasn’t the case for others. Compared to gathering goods, passing the Tractor Teacher’s test was evidently much easier. Thus, Yue Tui, Bi Rou, and Zhu Sha were all dark green tassels now.
Zhu Sha should’ve passed the test through the normal route. As for Bi Rou, Fan Tong wasn’t sure if she’d used her beauty as a trap, or if she’d used her connections with “high-level” people to help her pass. Yue Tui was the only one whose circumstances he could ask about, so when Yue Tui came home with a dark green tassel, Fan Tong immediately rushed over.
“How was it? Did you beat up that Tractor Teacher until he was half dead?”
If he personally had that kind of strength, he would probably use the promotion as an excuse to get revenge.
“Teacher didn’t let me make a move. He just directly promoted me,” Yue Tui replied with a wry smile.
That Tractor Teacher didn’t even give people a chance to take revenge. He was indeed a devious man. Fan Tong suddenly wondered if he was related to Mi Zhong.
Being promoted to a dark green tassel proved to be troublesome for Yue Tui; the number of people seeking to duel him had greatly increased now that grass green tassels could challenge him as well. The number of times he was stopped while walking outside increased along with the number of challengers. Even watching from the sidelines, Fan Tong found it a bit annoying.
“Yue Tui, do you want to try killing some of them? That way, the number of people that come looking for trouble will increase.”
He meant to say that after killing a few, the rest of the challengers would be intimidated and disappear. However, his words had been reversed once more.
“Exactly, I think there would be more people looking for trouble if I killed a few. It’s quite worrisome…”
Even with his words reversed, Yue Tui was somehow able to continue the conversation. Fan Tong was speechless.
In short, their lives had gotten busier because it was almost New Year’s. Yue Tui hadn’t forgotten what he’d promised before and accompanied Fan Tong to work. Fan Tong was touched by the gesture, and decided that he would definitely repay Yue Tui if he had a chance in his next life.
As for why not in this lifetime… Obviously because Yue Tui was way better than him in all aspects. There was no way he’d have any opportunity to repay Yue Tui.
“Yue Tui, Fan Tong!”
On the first day of New Year’s preparations, Bi Rou called after the two of them just as they were about to head out to work.
“Something wrong?” Yue Tui turned around, he was polite yet indifferent.
Yue Tui, exactly what do you have against Bi Rou? Just say it straight out. What kind of man faces a beautiful woman with that kind of expression? Even if the beautiful woman is taken, you shouldn’t be like this.
Ah! Did something happen between you and Zhu Sha without me knowing? If that’s the case, I can understand. Zhu Sha seems like the jealous type whether if he were a man or a woman. If you were caught cheating, it would be disastrous… But is that really the case? Probably not, right?
“Do you want to celebrate the New Year together? Yin Shi, Ling Shi-dage, and I already agreed to celebrate it together. If everyone comes, it’ll be more lively.”
Have we already become the type of people who do everything together?
Fan Tong was a bit perplexed. Why did it sound perfectly normal to him to celebrate the New Year with Lord Yin Shi and Long Ling Shi? This shouldn’t be normal, right?
“I don’t care, ask Fan Tong.”
Yue Tui didn’t look very interested, and gave the decision to Fan Tong.
“Huh? I don’t care either.” If he said “Sure,” it might be twisted to “No.” But if he said “No,” it might not be twisted to “Sure.” In the end, Fan Tong chose a reply that would be harder to mix up.
“Then we’ll celebrate together!”
Since it didn’t matter to them, Bi Rou naturally settled it herself. They’d assumed that she would let them go after agreeing, but she ended up dragging them over and discussing everything related to the event in one go, like where and how they would celebrate.
Of course, this kind of thing couldn’t be decided by a single person alone, so Bi Rou requested that they open their communication charms in order to discuss the arrangements with Yin Shi and Ling Shi.
“Ah, Xiao Yue and the mop’s master are going to celebrate the New Year with us? Then what about Xiao Zhu?”
Stop saying “the mop’s master.” I don’t even know how to retort anymore.
“We haven’t asked Zhu Sha yet,” Yue Tui replied simply.
Lord Ling Shi coughed and said that he was very busy and didn’t have time to waste. Hearing that, they went straight to the main topic.
“How do you guys want to celebrate?”
When Bi Rou asked this, Fan Tong chose to stay silent. Because he’d been alone in his original world, he’d always stayed home during New Year’s. Sometimes, he’d forget to buy food beforehand and end up running out of food because all the shops were closed… But he didn’t think that this experience was worth referencing. Anyone who wanted to celebrate the New Year that way surely had mental problems.
“I don’t really have any experience,” Yue Tui said. It was possible that he’d lived in a country that didn’t celebrate New Year’s, so not having any experience was normal.
“I normally stay by Ying’s side and organize her matters. When I don’t have any work to do, I just stay in my room.” This was Ling Shi’s response. It seemed like the New Year was any other day for him judging by the things he did.
“Ah… New Year’s celebrations are mostly the same every year. I’ve already celebrated it for many years, and it’s boring to death. Xiao Rou, how do you guys celebrate where you are from? Tell us.”
Yin Shi clearly felt that celebrations for the New Year were always the same routine over and over. He was fed up with it, and didn’t look forward to it at all. As he’d asked, Bi Rou began to talk about the Western City’s traditions.
“Hmm, I’ve never celebrated with them…but people in the Western City normally gather in small groups to exchange gifts and each person that attends must bring a handmade dish. Sometimes they choose a gathering place indoors and sometimes it’s outdoors. That’s basically it.”
When Bi Rou finished speaking, Yin Shi excitedly chimed in, “Ah, that seems really unique! We should celebrate this year using the Western City’s customs!”
Lord Yin Shi, you’re joking, right? Who even has the money to buy gifts? Can I gift wrap the mop and give it to someone else as a gift? Even if it was worth two hundred strings, who would be happy to receive a mop as a gift? You might be the only one who would want it, right?
“Don’t be ridiculous, can you cook?” Ling Shi mocked Yin Shi with contempt. At the same time, Fan Tong felt as if he’d been stabbed too.
That’s right, if we really need to provide handmade dishes, then I can only force everyone to accept my scary cooking skills… I can cook a strange type of porridge, but I don’t have any ingredients. Would it be ok if I just boiled the public rations and arranged it in a creative way?
“If I can’t cook, I can learn! I don’t believe that there’s something you can do that I can’t learn!”
Lord Yin Shi, your battle spirit is astounding. Exactly how many dishes will be edible this New Year?
“How well you cook doesn’t matter, your feelings are the most important.” Bi Rou was correct, but no matter what, Fan Tong still wanted to eat normal dishes.
“We don’t have the money to buy any ingredients,” Yue Tui awkwardly stated their predicament, but it clearly wasn’t a good enough excuse for Bi Rou.
“Just tell me what ingredients you want! I can help you buy them, it’s not a problem,” Bi Rou said generously. Yue Tui was rendered silent.
You obviously don’t have a problem! You have three thousand strings in savings…
“Then it’s decided!”
“You guys will need to take care of the presents yourselves, but if it’s really difficult, you can come find me and I’ll lend you money.”
After the discussion was finished, they dispersed.
Fan Tong felt greatly pressured by what they’d decided on during their discussion.
Why do I feel like we’ve been dragged into an event only upper-class rich people can afford to attend?
For today’s work, Fan Tong and Yue Tui were responsible for assisting in the production of special foods given to New Residents during the New Year’s period. Fan Tong was excited to learn that he’d be able to find out what the special foods were in advance. However, he felt uneasy at the thought of giving away the food he’d personally made; whoever received the food he’d made would be particularly unlucky.
His selfishness then kicked in and Fan Tong felt that it’d be fine as long as he wasn’t the one on the receiving end. Besides, among the people here helping out, there were bound to be some as clumsy as him. He suspected that after witnessing the creation process, he might not actually want to eat the special public rations on New Year’s Day.
As the two of them had arrived a bit early, Fan Tong started chatting with Yue Tui while they were waiting for the person in charge to arrive.
“Yue Tui, you always seem super happy whenever you see Bi Rou. Your attitude towards her is also especially cordial. Is there any particular reason?”
Oh, I meant to say that you never seem excited, and that you also treat her especially indifferently. I had no intention of sounding sarcastic…
“…Huh? Happy? Cordial?” Yue Tui’s expression slackened.
You can just say that you think I’m blind, it’s all right…
“I mean, you seem really cold to her. Why is that?”
As if God had heard Fan Tong’s pleas, he was finally able to say a correct sentence. But Yue Tui fell into a long silence at his question.
Why, why won’t you speak? If you don’t want to tell me, you can just say that there isn’t a particular reason. Although I’m really curious and that kind of answer won’t satisfy me, I would at least understand what you mean. Why are you silent?
“Fan Tong,” Yue Tui said after a long silence. However, he didn’t directly answer the question. “If you were killed by someone and then one day you came across them, what would you do?”
Fan Tong was a bit shocked by the sudden question, but judging from Yue Tui’s serious and heavy tone of voice, he knew that the other had asked it after careful deliberation.
Bi Rou killed Yue Tui? That can’t be, right? Wait, is Yue Tui also someone from this world? Ah? Oh? Huh?
“No.” Yue Tui knew what Fan Tong was thinking, and shook his head at Fan Tong’s guess. “I just want to know what would you do. I feel…a bit lost.”
Oh, as long as Bi Rou wasn’t the killer. If one of my friends killed another one of my friends, I really wouldn’t know what to do. Then again, what are you at loss for? Are you thinking about your wounds and nightmares again?
“Fan Tong, can you tell me what you would do?”
Seeing Yue Tui’s serious expression, Fan Tong felt that it would be wrong if he didn’t give an elaborate reply. He imagined himself encountering someone who had killed him and replied, “I would first point at that genius and praise him greatly. I would then gently caress his vital points and not let him go until I’ve finished expressing my happiness. Essentially, I would make him wish for death.”
While Fan Tong was speaking, he felt as if a cold wind was blowing through him while a crow was cawing awkwardly in the background. To his expectations, Yue Tui’s expression became extremely strange.
“Fan Tong, your thoughts are…very unique. However, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Yue Tui forced out after a long silence.
You don’t have to force yourself to admonish me. Also, please, can’t you figure out that I’d misspoke? And are you saying that it’s not a good idea because my personality is twisted or because it would be bad for the person on the receiving end?
Seeing that Fan Tong made no effort to reply, Yue Tui lowered his head awkwardly. “I’m sorry, I’d probably asked the wrong question…”
Don’t be like this! Don’t apologize when you don’t understand the reply to a question that you’d asked! I was saying that I would point at the scum and curse him to the heavens. I would then ruthlessly beat him up by striking all his vital points. I wouldn’t let him go until I’d finished expressing my fury and make him wish for death. This is clearly a normal reply, isn’t it?
“Yue, Tui, then what about you?”
Fan Tong gave up on the idea of trying to reverse the horrible image he’d just given himself. More accurately, he’d lost hope ages ago. He didn’t care about his image at all, it was completely beyond saving.
Yue Tui hadn’t imagined that Fan Tong would continue the topic. Faced with his own question, Yue Tui frowned, seemingly not sure of how to answer.
Fan Tong might have just used any stranger as his murderer, but Yue Tui knew the identity of his killer. Due to the different circumstances, Yue Tui didn’t quite know how to answer.
“Yue Tui, are you contemplating how you would repay your gratitude towards them or whether you would forgive them?”
I mean how you would take revenge, not repay some stupid gratitude, rotten curse…
Yue Tui looked at Fan Tong with confusion. It looked like he was unable to figure out the reasoning behind repaying gratitude.
“I think that you should inflict pain on the person who made you suffer, you shouldn’t be too kind.”
Thank god the sentence came out correctly. If it had turned into something like “bring joy to the person who made you suffer” or “inflict pain on the person who brings you joy”, Yue Tui will start wondering if I’m a masochist or a sadist…
Upon hearing Fan Tong, Yue Tui’s expression became somewhat complicated. Another long while passed before he answered, “I’m…not actually kind.”
Fan Tong was shocked. In his mind, Yue Tui was a very kind-hearted child. He didn’t understand why Yue Tui would describe himself as unkind.
Does that mean you’ve decided to enact revenge? That’s a good thing, bad people should die a rotten death, hahaha.
Hmm? Wait, he still hasn’t answered my original question. Exactly why don’t you like Bi Rou? Also, is it possible for you to meet your murderer again? Are you really someone from this world after all? I have so many questions, but I can’t even properly ask a single one…
“Fan Tong, it’s better if we talk about something else instead. What do you plan on doing with the presents?
Oi, oi! Don’t just switch topics! What about Bi Rou?!
“You still haven’t answered my question about Bi Rou…”
“…There really isn’t an issue between us, perhaps you’re being oversensitive. Why don’t we think about what to do with the gifts?”
Do you know how obvious you are why you lie? If you’re so clumsy at lying, then don’t try to lie. But I can tell you don’t want to reply to my question, sigh.
In the end, they never discussed what to do about the gifts as the person in charge had arrived. The two of them, along with the other workers, moved to another location.
Fan Tong didn’t see Mi Zhong among the crowd, which he was grateful for. There was finally a day when he could work without being together with Mi Zhong. Being with Yue Tui was always much better than being with Mi Zhong. He could be cheerful for the whole day and not be constantly nagged at.
Despite working together with Yue Tui, Fan Tong’s expression darkened upon knowing what their job entailed.
The public rations being distributed on New Year’s Day were rice balls, so their job today was to make rice balls.
Each person had to prepare 400 rice balls, and they weren’t allowed to go home until they’ve finished.
The fact that each person had to make 400 rice balls was enough to make Fan Tong despair. While calculating how much time it would take in total if making one rice ball took two minutes without stopping in between, Fan Tong took in the 40+ ingredients that they’d been given.
The person in charge had said that they were free to choose the fillings they wanted to put inside.
They wanted each person to make 400 rice balls, yet they refused to give them simpler ingredients. Wasn’t that just asking for them to drop dead from exhaustion?
Fan Tong kind of wanted to just start wrapping plain rice balls without any fillings. Either way, it was impossible to tell from the outside what kind of filling the rice balls contained. Making plain rice balls would save him a lot of effort.
However, an evil idea started to wag its tail inside his head. With so many ingredients, it’d be easy to make some “creative” rice balls. He might not be able to see the expressions of the people eating them, but it was still amusing when he imagined how people would react upon eating something like a cilantro, chili pepper, and Chinese cinnamon combo rice ball…
Fan Tong was sure that quite a few people were thinking similar things. These public rations that were supposed to be handed out on New Year’s Day were actually terrifying bombs. He really needed to reconsider whether he wanted to stand in line and obtain a few.
But the next sentence the person in charge said dispelled all his notions of making “creative” rice balls. Aside from wages, they could also choose 10 rice balls among the ones they’d made to take back as food at the end of the day.
This was extra food. Although they could pick up more rice balls to eat on New Year’s Day, seeing as how there were 40 different fillings, Fan Tong didn’t trust others to make safe ones for consumption. It was good that he could choose from the ones he’d made himself; he would at least have a general idea of what was inside them.
Knowing that he would be eating ten out of the four hundred, Fan Tong decided to make large rice balls. He stuffed filling after filling into the abnormally large rice ball in his hand, to the point that Yue Tui stopped to stare at his outrageous actions.
“Fan Tong, you don’t need to make them so large, right?”
This is called being greedy, you wouldn’t understand.
“Yue Tui, yours are too large. You’re clearly benefiting from others’ expense.”
That’s not it! I’m saying that yours are too small and that you’re losing out that way.
“Huh? Are these too large? But yours are clearly larger than mine.”
Yue Tui looked at his own rice balls with surprise. He thought that the ones he’d made were the perfect size.
Fan Tong replied with a few indistinct grunts before focusing once again on his rice balls, hoping that Yue Tui would ignore what he’d said.
At first, Fan Tong tackled the rice balls with great ambition, but after finishing nearly 100 of them, he was starting to become impatient.
His plans for creative rice balls were starting to stir again. If he were going to make the rice balls randomly, then there wasn’t a need to make them particularly large. Fan Tong discovered that it was much more fun to make them however he pleased. He hummed a little tune to himself while working, content enough that it didn’t even feel like he was working.
Although he was enjoying himself, the amount of time required to make 400 rice balls wasn’t going to decrease. In other words, an increase in mood didn’t translate to an increase in work efficiency. By the time he’d finished 300 rice balls, ten hours had passed since when he’d first started working. Although he could steal some rice and fillings as lunch and afternoon tea as time passed, he still had to hurry up so that he could go home and sleep.
While he was stuck at 300, Yue Tui had already finished all 400 rice balls. Fan Tong didn’t know how well Yue Tui had made his, but it was a fact that Yue Tui had finished faster. Fortunately, Yue Tui wasn’t cold-hearted enough to just watch from the side while Fan Tong worked.
“Fan Tong, how many have you finished? I’m done, do you want me to help?”
Of course, Fan Tong was extremely grateful to have someone help out.
“Don’t mention it! I don’t need any help.”
Opening his mouth to reply was his greatest mistake.
As his pride kept him from trying to explain his misspoken words, Fan Tong could only continue making his rice balls alone. After another two hours, he finally finished.
“Here, these are your rice balls.”
After the two of them pushed their trolleys full of rice balls over to hand them in, they each received 10 of their own rice balls. Seeing that there weren’t any particularly large ones among the ten he’d received, Fan Tong’s expression soured. While walking back to their dorm, they tried out the results of their work today.
Fan Tong gathered up his courage and took a bite of his rice ball, at the first bite, Fan Tong felt as if he had won a prize. Of course, it wasn’t any good prize. Out of curiosity, Yue Tui also tried a bite of Fan Tong’s rice ball, and made an ugly expression as well. At that moment, all of Fan Tong’s hopes were pinned on the rice balls Yue Tui had made.
Yue Tui wasn’t stingy. Since Fan Tong wanted to try, Yue Tui passed a rice ball to him.
“Wow, Yue Tui, this rice ball of yours isn’t small, yet it’s so light…ack!”
When Fan Tong bit down on Yue Tui’s small and sturdy rice ball, he cried out.
It’s rock hard!
Yue Tui! Exactly how much strength did you use to make these?! Is this really a rice ball? I can’t get any grip on it with my teeth! They’re so small, yet so heavy; how much rice did you compress together?
Do you have something against rice balls? Why would you knead them with so much strength?
“Is something wrong?”
Fan Tong didn’t try to be courteous and bluntly pointed out the core issue.
If he couldn’t even bite into it, then it was obviously inedible. Maybe they could use it as a throwing weapon. A shotput?
“What’s wrong with it?”
Yue Tui tried to take a bite himself and immediately made a face.
This is great. You don’t seem human in many aspects, but it looks like your teeth are still identical to the average person’s.
“It looks like…none of these are edible.” Yue Tui smiled awkwardly. Fan Tong then suggested a horrible idea, “Why don’t we try soaking it in water?”
That way, it could turn into the porridge he normally ate.
Otherwise, what could they do, leaving them like this would be a waste.
“Forget it, I’ll just give them all to Zhu Sha.”
At Yue Tui’s suggestion, Fan Tong wanted to agree that it was a good idea. Either way, Zhu Sha could eat anything. He definitely wouldn’t have an issue eating either Fan Tong’s strange tasting rice balls or Yue Tui’s steel-like ones.
Eventually, aside from the two they’d already bitten into, they gave the rest of the eighteen rice balls to Zhu Sha as gifts. Zhu Sha was confused as to why he’d received so many rice balls, but he still accepted them with thanks.
During the New Year’s preparation period, Fan Tong and Yue Tui were busy working and earning money, while Bi Rou was happily spending the money that Yin Shi had given her to attend various New Year’s activities. The difference in how they’d spent their time only solidified Fan Tong’s belief that there was indeed a huge difference between people’s fates. Bi Rou’s were simply that of one blessed with great luck and fate; no matter what obstacles stood in her way, she could avoid the disaster and still live a happy life blessed with wealth. In comparison, Yue Tui seemed to lead a life with many obstacles, but Yue Tui’s features were too complex for Fan Tong to decipher in just one glance. If he had the chance, he felt that doing a palm or a character reading for Yue Tui would be a good idea. But Yue Tui had already died, using stuff from his previous life to determine the path of his current one didn’t seem very reliable
While they were diligently earning money, Zhu Sha was studying intently like a good student. He didn’t seem interested in moneymaking, and he’d rejected Bi Rou’s invitation to the New Year’s gathering because he thought cooking and preparing gifts was a pain. He was someone who lived in his own world and moved at his own pace.
“Should we invite Luo Shi?” Even amidst their busy schedule, Yue Tui was somehow still able to think of this.
“If you don’t want to invite him, then don’t. If you do, then go ahead.” Fan Tong didn’t care; besides, the gathering wasn’t his idea.
“Then I’ll try asking.” Yue Tui took out his communication charm and contacted Luo Shi. After exchanging a few words, he ended the connection with a regretful expression.
“How is it?”
“Luo Shi said he’s really busy over New Year’s and might not have time.”
Oh? Is he busy or is he just declining out of embarrassment? Why didn’t you speak some more with him? Based on my experience, if you ask him a few more times, he’ll surrender and say he’s free. I think you gave up a bit too early…
“When are we working tomorrow?”
“Fan Tong, we don’t have work tomorrow.”
I know, I meant to ask about today…
“I mean, when do we work next year?”
Yue Tui looked at him strangely.
“We still don’t know about next year’s work. Or have you already made arrangements?”
No! I’m…ugh, I can’t say any of it properly…
“It’s about time for our work at Shen Dian Wang, we should leave.”
In the end, he received the answer he’d been looking for. Only, the process made him feel dejected.
The day before the New Year’s gathering, they had to go to Shen Wang Dian and do some cleaning. Logically, there should be servants cleaning the palace, but it seemed that something had happened, leading to a shortage in the cleaning staff. Thus, they’d been hired to help.
Even after working hard to clean everything up until the Fourth Palace, they still hadn’t encountered Yin Shi and the others. Perhaps they knew that random people were coming to clean and had chosen to stay inside in order to avoid accidents or troubles.
After cleaning out the Fourth Palace, the person in charge stopped them from advancing to the Fifth Palace.
“Her Majesty’s living quarters is ahead. There is no need to go over there; Her Majesty doesn’t like outsiders approaching it.”
Is that the case? Don’t tell me Lord Ling Shi cleans it out alone.
“But doesn’t Lord Hui Shi also live in the Fifth Palace?”
“Lord Luo Shi has been responsible for organizing people to clean out Lord Hui Shi’s living quarters these past years. We shouldn’t meddle.”
Hui Shi isn’t here anymore, but Luo Shi still goes to clean his quarters. I wonder if I should be calling him considerate…
It was already night by the time they’d finished cleaning. However, the next night was when the gathering was going to happen. If they didn’t come up with dishes or presents right now, they’d end up with nothing, which would be bad. Fan Tong and Yue Tui dragged their tired bodies around and racked their brains for any ideas.
“Fan Tong, have you cooked before?”
“Yes, but it probably doesn’t count.”
The porridge that I can make…rather than calling it cooking, it’s probably more appropriate to call it a chemistry experiment.
“What should we do about tomorrow?”
What should we do? Even if you ask me, I don’t know either. Maybe salad?
“Should we…buy some ingredients and make rice balls?”
Did you forget that the rice balls you made were completely inedible? How many rice balls do you plan to sacrifice while you test out how much force you should be exerting?
“Either way, it should be fine as long we do it with good intentions. It doesn’t matter if it tastes disgusting or delicious, they’re different either way.”
“Disgusting and delicious are definitely different.”
Stop nitpicking at my wording… Or rather, stop making fun of me for constantly misspeaking.
At that moment, Fan Tong suddenly thought of a good idea. There was another guy they could ask.
“Puhahaha, wake up. Do you know how to cook?”
Having fallen to the point where he was asking a mop how to cook, Fan Tong felt that he could be called a genius.
Yue Tui watched blankly as he pulled out Puhahaha. Who knew what he was thinking about?
“Huha… This horsetail whisk obviously cannot. A nobleman stays clear of the kitchen.”
Who’s a nobleman… Exactly how are you like one, please tell me.
“What, you’re really useless. You can’t even cook despite living so long.”
Not bad, my complaint hadn’t been reversed. Otherwise, I’d be really annoyed.
“I don’t need to eat, why would I study cooking? I’m clearly a weapon, not a kitchen tool. Your request is unreasonable.”
Weren’t you half asleep before? Why are you suddenly speaking so clearly and fluently? Are you awake now?
“When outside the house, a weapon should help their master contend against an enemy. When at home, a weapon should act as the master’s capable wife. This is only right and proper!”
Huh? I’ve also started speaking clearly and fluently? Being able to speak two sentences in a row without any reversed words all of a sudden is a bit hard to accept.
“Hmph. This horsetail whisk doesn’t want to marry anyone, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be to you. Who would want to become your wife?”
What! You dare to hmph at me? Also, aren’t you forgetting that you’re male?
“The hell are you saying, I really want to marry you.”
As expected, happy occasions never number more than two. My words were reversed again, and it chose to do it in the worst direction.
“…Ill fate, such an ill fate. After all this time, I wasn’t able to find a master I admired. Even after choosing one that barely seems decent, it turns out that all he does is flap his lips all day and assault me. He doesn’t even have any actual skills. Why, oh why, truly, why can’t an outstanding weapon like me find a master that is good enough to match me?”
All I did was misspeak, yet you prattle on and on about my bad qualities. Aren’t you going a little overboard? You belittle me while praising yourself. Do you think of yourself as the main character of some melodrama?
Fan Tong wanted to reason with Puhahaha, but Yue Tui suddenly called out his name with a peculiar expression.
I’m doomed. I didn’t ask for Puhahaha to speak out loud, so Yue Tui only heard what I’d said and not what that mop said. What kind of misunderstandings have formed this time?
“No matter how good a person’s relationship is with their weapon, it’s still best if you realize the difference in species. Even if you really like it, you shouldn’t think of it as a human that you can marry.”
Please don’t advise me so seriously with such a worried expression. I don’t, I really don’t have that kind of preference at all, okay? Moreover, do you not know that this thing is male?
“Did you hear that? Your friend is much more sensible than you. Don’t bother trying to delude yourself any further.”
I can’t believe you’re taking advantage of the misunderstanding to insult me more. Despicable!
“Just go back to sleep. I don’t want to talk to you anymore, I can’t deal with you anymore.”
The frequency at which I can correctly talk to Puhahaha has increased. Does that mean our spirits are becoming interlinked?
“Fan Tong, you shouldn’t be too cold to your weapon just because you can’t marry it.”
In the end, after discussing the issue for a long time, they decided on some basic ingredients and requested for Bi Rou to buy them. They would wait until tomorrow to deal with it.
◎ Fan Tong’s Afterword
When I was really, really young, when my parents were still healthy and alive, I celebrated New Year’s with them. My memories from when I was little are blurred now though. All I remember is that there were a lot of things we had to do, and it was both busy and lively. We would be so busy that everything blended together and in the blink of an eye the New Year would have passed. Everything would end, and everyone would leave to return home.
Whenever it was time to say our goodbyes, I never wanted to leave. I’d always be crestfallen on the way home. After returning to our own house, the home I’d lived in for so long suddenly felt cold. It was then that I realized that humans were truly social creatures. Upon separating from everyone else, one would truly feel lonesome.
Then again, one could only feel lonely after experiencing liveliness, right? In reality, when I was small, I lived with my parents and I never really felt lonely. By the time I was truly alone, I’d also gotten used to it and it wasn’t unbearable anymore.
Don’t give me such a pitying look, I’ve never found myself pitiful. My father claimed himself as someone who had , and he had told us long ago that he would die the day I turned thirteen. He would emphasize that it had been decreed by fate, and that we shouldn’t feel too sad… I asked him why it had to be on my birthday, and his reply was that it would be easier to remember. If one’s father’s last day was the same day as one’s birthday, it would take less brain cells to remember. His reply had made me speechless.
After hearing something like that, I’d thought that my father was capable of choosing his own day of death, and had purposely chosen my birthday… I had a headstrong father who was determined to die on his own son’s birthday. But I can’t complain much, I still respected him very much. Before he died, he had taught all his skills to me, so that I could earn my living from the fortune-telling shop. That way, he could pass on to another world at ease without worrying about me and my mother starving to death.
However, the fortune-telling shop didn’t do well, and only improved after I had been cursed by that woman… Another world, ah, speaking of another world, my father couldn’t have come to Huan Shi too, right? Should I go find Luo Shi and ask him to check the residents list?
But he didn’t have any unfulfilled wishes when he’d died, the possibility doesn’t seem very high.
It’s probably best that I don’t check.
If I really do find him, and then discover that my weak-limbed father had been living in this world for so long as a white tassel… That’s not something that can be solved by crying a few tears. It would be too sad!
No, Dad didn’t have any speech problems after all. Even if he were a modern man with no dreams like me, a person that couldn’t learn Shu Fa, he would at least be able to use Fu Zhou! With Dad’s aptitude, I’m sure he’d be able to become a red tassel without a problem! If that were the case, maybe I should find him, and ask him to help his debt-ridden son, and get some spending money…
But with my current condition, it’s possible that I’ll call him “Mom” instead of “Dad” upon seeing him. Then he’d probably grab a broom and sweep me out the door while fiercely cursing at me.
Oh, I don’t even know if Dad really came here, yet I’m thinking so much. Aren’t I just getting upset over nothing?
Perhaps it’s because New Year’s has made me remember the past… Sigh.
Ran Feng Ge dilly-dallied slowly after Su Yi Mo down the corridor. Su Yi Mo pushed open the door leading into the private room he had reserved, indicating for Ran Feng Ge to enter. As soon as Ran Feng Ge entered the room, Su Yi Mo promptly closed and locked the door.
Touching his nose slightly, Ran Feng Ge asked, “Don’t tell me you still want to fight?”
Instead of answering, Su Yi Mo turned around and silently stared at Ran Feng Ge. His gaze was no longer as cold as it had been before.
Feeling uncomfortable being stared at, Ran Feng Ge stepped deeper into the room, making a beeline straight for the table once he spotted it. He sat himself on top of it, swinging his legs slightly. Not wanting to look up at Su Yi Mo, he could only continue looking at his toes as he asked, “So, what’s the matter?”
“I have something I need to ask of you.”
“Ah, is this what they call the carrot and the stick?” Ran Feng Ge replied with a raised eyebrow and a look full of reluctance.
“You started it first by attacking me without any reason.” Su Yi Mo emphasized, “I was only defending myself.”
“Tsk!” Ran Feng Ge clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes, “If you were being sincere, you’d stand there and let me hit you.”
“Why should I just stand here and let you hit me?”
“…That’s why I say you are insincere!” Ran Feng Ge refused to admit that the reason he played Su Yi Mo to trick Jing Qiu Han was because he was afraid of Su Yi Mo. That was why he decided to take the initiative to fight with him.
Besides, Su Yi Mo knowing that Ran Feng Ge pretended to be him to try and trick his little lover would make him very unhappy. Therefore, letting him do a little work out to soothe out those feelings would help.
See, isn’t Su Yi Mo so much more manageable now?
Su Yi Mo realized that it was getting a little difficult to maintain his iceberg persona.
He used to be someone who was very resolute in everything he did, one meant one, but now that Ran Feng Ge was in the picture, he found it very difficult to retain the same attitude. Even if he did try, what was the use if the other party refused to acknowledge it?
Just like now.
That fellow wearing a face identical to his own, sitting with both his legs dangling off the table, a look of stubbornness etched on his features, even Su Yi Mo was unable to find the drive to get angry.
Even though he had already let his anger out, he found that he was now filled with a feeling of helplessness.
“Can you first change your face back?” Su Yi Mo asked, resisting the urge to sigh out loud. Then, with a few strides, he stepped in front of Ran Feng Ge. Looking at his identical double before him, Su Yi Mo couldn’t help but feel as though it was some kind of out-of-body experience.
With a brief scratch on the cheek, Ran Feng Ge stated, “Why should I change back? I think this is quite nice.”
“I find it very awkward!” Seeing that Ran Feng Ge had no intention of doing anything, Su Yi Mo reached for the mask with the intention of ripping it off.
“Aiyah! Hurts, hurts, it hurts, be more gentle!” Ran Feng Ge had no choice but to follow the movement of the arm before him, as his face was being manipulated without his will. He was unable to form coherent sentences, “I’ll do it myself, I’ll do it! Let, let go… Argh…”
With a start, Su Yi Mo felt his spirits lift as he watched his doppelganger’s face turn red from his manipulation. Whatever he was pissed off about before.
Seeing the sides of Su Yi Mo’s lips curl upwards, a glimmer of relief shone through Ran Feng Ge’s eyes.
So long as he’s no longer angry…
Knowing his limits, Ran Feng Ge carefully felt along the junction of his cheek and ear base. He then retrieved a bottle of transparent makeup removal, which he carries along with him at all times. After what seemed like half a day, the mask was finally pulled off!
“Hu…” Releasing a breath, Ran Feng Ge glanced at Su Yi Mo from his peripheral vision and said, “So, we’ll talk about serious matters now?”
Su Yi Mo found himself staring at the slightly oxygen deprived face before him, blotches of red amid all that handsome smooth whiteness. Of course, it was only but a moment of distraction.
“Because of your little prank, I was indeed very angry. However, now that I have calmed down and have given it some thought, rather than hiding things from you, I might as well show you all my cards. Now that you’ve met Jing Qiu Han: his character, his movements, how he reacts in different situations… I am sure you should now know them like the back of your hand. Therefore, I would like you to listen very carefully to what I want to say next…” Su Yi Mo’s voice suddenly became very serious.
“Qiu Han is in fact being forced to do this. Throughout the years he has been by my side, he has indeed provided Lan Kuang information on Falcon, which led to the demise of my family’s business.”
“I did wonder at the beginning when I first accepted Qiu Han, if he approached me with a motive, but he has yet to let me down even after numerous trials.”
“Besides, I did use him to get back at Lan Kuang too… Thinking back, I suppose we can call it even.”
“The main reason Qiu Han refuses to be honest with me is because his little sister is still in the hands of Lan Kuang.”
“Therefore, you want to use this to your advantage. Provide me with some privy information and have me act as Jing Qiu Han to meet up with Lan Kuang to negotiate and rescue his sister. This way, both brother and sister will be under your protection, right?” Ran Feng Ge has always been quick to catch on. Su Yi Mo had just finished explaining himself and Ran Feng Ge was already able to guess what his next step was.
Ah… He is indeed an infatuated moron! Having already planned everything, even willing to sacrifice his own gains to come out on top in the end.
Su Yi Mo did feel a little guilty. When he first signed the contract with Ran Feng Ge, he had no intention of dragging him this far in. His only duty had been to mimic and act as Jing Qiu Han for a year in the entertainment circle to ensure that no suspicion was raised.
Alas, in the end, the plans of men are fallible. Now that Jing Qiu Han’s identity as a undercover spy was unknowingly exposed by Ran Feng Ge and Qiu Han did come clean to him, there was no way he could ignore the wellbeing of Qiu Han’s little sister. Therefore, the only choice was to rely on Ran Feng Ge.
He is capable of protecting himself, right?
Being dragged into all this… It shouldn’t… It shouldn’t be too dangerous right?
“I will add another 10 million to the contract fee for you.” Su Yi Mo muttered quietly, feeling very inadequate at the moment.
Not knowing what to say, Ran Feng Ge could only look down at the freshly removed mask in his hands. Pulling it this way and that, he said with an enigmatic voice, “You treat your little lover very well!”
“So… you…” Su Yi Mo didn’t know what was going on with his heart and all he could do was stutter uneasily.
Seeing his troubled expression, Ran Feng Ge felt a tug at his heartstrings and decided to quell the foreign emotion rising within him. Gripping the mask tightly in his fingers, Ran Feng Ge hopped off the desk, “Okay, deal!”
Before Su Yi Mo was even able to open his mouth to say his thanks, Ran Feng Ge continued, “But I want to see the money in my account first this time! Only once I have confirmed it will I do anything!”
“No problem! I will immediately call my people to transfer the funds into your account!” A rare expression of ecstasy to appeared upon Su Yi Mo’s face.
Silently, a mysterious emotion flashed through Ran Feng Ge’s eyes.
Su Yi Mo clasped his hands on top of Ran Feng Ge’s shoulders, “Even though you are paid to do this, I really need to thank you!”
“Then, I shall accept your thanks.” Ran Feng Ge replied nonchalantly.
Su Yi Mo gave those shoulders a tight squeeze, “Then I shall go and make the arrangements, we shall discuss more about this when we get home.”
“Okay.” He answered, flashing a perfect smile, without a hint of weakness.
Once Su Yi Mo had exited the room, the smile that had been plastered on Ran Feng Ge’s lips grew stiff. He lowered his head in a daze and stared at the wrinkled piece of fake skin. He lifted it up to his chest and wondered to himself. Why was he feeling so uneasy here? It was as though there was a huge rock sitting right on top of his chest making it very difficult to breathe.
Lang Ting Hotel: Presidential Suite
“Boss, this is the information you requested!”
“Just put it there!” Lan Kuang waved his hand absentmindedly. After placing the document carefully next to the tea set, his subordinate exited the room Leaving Lan Kuang alone in the vast room.
It still seemed as though he had very casually dressed himself. He wore a pure white robe that was secured loosely at his waist while a glass of whiskey appeared to be glued to his hand at all times.
This was exactly what Lan Kuang was like, sprawled lazily across the sofa with half his bathrobe hanging off him, his well-sculptured chest exposed to the world.
If one were to look carefully, one would find that there was a very faint scar marring the surface of that otherwise perfect chest. Of course, that scar was already so faint that it was unnoticeable unless one knew where to look.
Actually, the scar that was on Lan Kuang’s chest was very similar to the one that can be found on the body of An Mu. They were both marked with an ‘X’.
Except, one of them was obvious, and the other was barely visible anymore.
Lan Kuang sipped at his whiskey slowly, enjoying the taste of it on his tongue. He leaned forward and reached for the document that had been placed down by his subordinate and balanced it on his knee, flipping it over to the first page.
It contained pictures of An Mu when he was still with him, newspaper articles, rumors – Everything.
His gaze shifted to another photograph, one that was blurred.
It was a group picture of two men.
Actually, it was not really a group picture. It was taken by a reporter, which Lan Kuang had intercepted. He then had the photo developed.
It’s been two years since then.
Both men’s faces were unable to be recognized, but even from the photo, both had an imposing aura.
The one that was in the midst of falling on to the bed, had on a Vampire Knight mask. While the other stood tall at the bedside looking like a dominatrix, had on a Demon mask.
That had been the night of a costume party. Normally, Lan Kuang was not one to join in on events such as that. However, it was a party organized by a few of his sponsors so Lan Kuang had been pressured to attend.
That night, Lan Kuang had donned a Vampire Knight mask. An Mu had been the one under the Demon’s mask.
All that was visible that night had been that pair of mesmerizingly cunning eyes that were peeking out from under the eyeholes of the Demon mask.
One look was all that was needed to entrap Lan Kuang’s heart.
Proofreaders: dinoj, Lyrick