“Humans and yaoguai cannot be together.”
Editor(s): Jane, jelly, juurensha
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This night was filled with wild winds and stormy rain, but after he returned home, everything was as per usual. Xiang Cheng closed the window, and he didn’t go out the entire night, instead keeping Chi Xiaoduo company.
Chi Xiaoduo’s entire body relaxed, and he laid on the bed, feeling as if everything had been a dream. Last night’s nervousness, in addition to the exhaustion from only getting a few hours of sleep today, caused him to fall asleep very quickly, and as soon as he opened his eyes again it was a bright and sunny morning.
In the living room, Xiang Cheng was wearing an apron, his torso bare as he made breakfast.
“... Last night, the Guangzhou region experienced its heaviest thunderstorm in forty years…”
“Meteorologists observed a rare weather phenomenon in the Zhuhai District…”
Yawning, Chi Xiaoduo came out in his pajamas, standing in front of the TV to watch the program. He noticed that on the coffee table, there was an ashtray filled with cigarette butts.
“Due to the pumping motion of the atmospheric pressure, a hole appeared in the vortical rainclouds,” an expert said to the news anchor. “What we saw was a very pretty scene. The lightning gathered up here, just like a radioactive spider web.”
Chi Xiaoduo’s face was expressionless as he thought, this clean up is really on point, it’s even being featured on the news.
Chi Xiaoduo refreshed his Weibo. Many of the discussions there revolved around the topic of the fierce waves on the Zhujiang Bridge last night, and the raging storm that swept over the city like the apocalypse had come. There were even people saying that last night, there must have been some great saint or immortal undergoing a heavenly tribulation or something like that.
“You’re awake?” Xiang Cheng asked from the kitchen.
“En.” Chi Xiaoduo yawned again. He then remembered work, yelped, and said, “Damn it! I’m going to be late!”
Xiang Cheng replied, “Your office called, I asked for time off for you.”
Thank goodness, thank goodness. Chi Xiaoduo sat down to eat; Xiang Cheng had made two bowls of congee cooked with lean meat. The congee had been simmered by hand on the stove, and it was accompanied by eggs fried to a tender golden yellow, as well as stewed shrimp and soft, light tofu, which would be eaten dipped in soy sauce.
Xiang Cheng had also prepared a plate of peanuts and jasmine rice, and he placed it on the dining table. Si Gui flew over, landing on the table, eating with the two of them.
Chi Xiaoduo kept mulling things over internally. He still remembered everything from yesterday very clearly, so when were they going to wipe his memory? Would Xiang Cheng take him to go sniff the snuff box?
“Are you in a bad mood?” Xiang Cheng asked.
“I’m not,” Chi Xiaoduo replied while smiling. He stirred the congee with his spoon.
Xiang Cheng didn’t say anything, and the two of them finished breakfast quietly. Xiang Cheng then said, “Thanks for your hard work, let’s go out for a stroll today?”
“I suddenly want to take a trip home,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “To that sea karst cave.”
“The organization has already sent people,” Xiang Cheng said. “They gave me a call this morning.”
Chi Xiaoduo said, “Who knows if the chiwen’s bones are still inside.”
“Normally, when yaoguai die, they won’t leave behind any special traces,” Xiang Cheng said. “They will set themselves alight. Plus, the chiwen turned into a devil after it died and went ashore, so there shouldn’t be anything special in the karst caves.”
When Chi Xiaoduo thought of Yang Xingjie, he still felt a little sad. He let out a sigh and said, “If I had held out on that day, perhaps everything would have been different.”
Xiang Cheng shook his head and said, “Even if you brought people to help cure it back then, the chiwen would not have been able to be cured. At most, there would be another piece of news that they found some misshapen monster affected by the pollution of the sea, and in the end, the organization would take action and wipe it from the records.”
“Would the organization have killed it?” Chi Xiaoduo asked.
Xiang Cheng nodded, looked into Chi Xiaoduo’s eyes, and said, “Xiaoduo, listen to me.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “?”
When Chi Xiaoduo thought of the chiwen, that monster that had, when he was a child, treated him as a friend, he only felt that maybe he wouldn’t be able to make up for this mistake for his entire life.
“Humans and yaoguai cannot be together,” Xiang Cheng said. “Us and them, the only goal that we can all work towards is to live separately and not influence each other. This is not your fault. I also hope that one day, there will be no more yao that will harm people, otherwise, if you interact with yao for a long time, your body will be corrupted by the yao qi, and you will age quickly, or other problems will arise. The chiwen, before it was corrupted, also knew this.”
“En,” Chi Xiaoduo replied.
Xiang Cheng reached a hand out along the table, saying, “Think about something happy, forget it ba.”
Chi Xiaoduo mustered up a smile, and he asked, “When will you take away my memory?”
Xiang Cheng: “...”
Chi Xiaoduo continued, “It’s okay. Let me sniff the snuff bottle, and I won’t remember the matter of the chiwen either. Life happens just like this, and as soon as we get serious, we lose, isn’t that right?”
Xiang Cheng said, “I do not wish for you to forget all of this.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “...”
“I will ask the organization to reconsider,” Xiang Cheng said. “I’ll try to not have them do this.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “Is… is that possible?”
Xiang Cheng replied, “I’ll do my best. Oh yeah, let me tell you something happy. Someone wants to see you, and after we’re done eating, can you come with me to see a friend?”
“It’s a secret for now.”
Chi Xiaoduo en-ed. It was the junction of spring and summer, and the sunlight was brilliant as Xiang Cheng lazily pedaled the bike, and along with Chi Xiaoduo, they passed over the Zhujiang Bridge. The surface of the river was very calm, and light reflected off the water. The first storm of the summer had caused the rows upon rows of camphor trees along the pedestrian paths to grow dense thickets of light green.
Chi Xiaoduo said, “We should buy a car. Go get your driving license ba.”
“After my money is unfrozen,” Xiang Cheng said. “It’s soon, next month, then I’ll drive and take you out to play.”
Chi Xiaoduo was waiting to get his certificate, and as soon as he got it and hung it up in Wang Ren’s firm, he could take the money and go everywhere.
“I’ll gift you a car.” Chi Xiaoduo lifted his head slightly, pressing it against Xiang Cheng’s face, asking, “Can you take me out to play?”
“You’re not going to work anymore?” Xiang Cheng asked, a little surprised. “It’s such a good job.”
“I’ve been wanting to quit work for a long time,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “For life to be two points on a line, going home, going to work, going home, going to work, who knows what you’re really doing.”
“Then what do you want to do?” Xiang Cheng asked.
Chi Xiaoduo didn’t respond. He was thinking, of course I’ll cling onto you and spend my days with you, but of course, he couldn’t just say that. After thinking for a while, he could only reply with, “I want to go capture yao with you, is that alright?”
Xiang Cheng: “...”
Internally, Chi Xiaoduo punched himself; he was about to cry. Inside, he angrily roared, Chi Xiaoduo, is your head filled with water, when your male god goes to capture yao, what are you going for! What can you do, huh?! Carry his bag for him? Tagging along behind him, you’ll only be giving him more trouble, okay?! With this appearance, you’re only good for showing up uncalled for as a hostage for the yaoguai to take, ay --
“I’m just joking,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “Are you going to take me as a disciple?”
Xiang Cheng rode his bike, not looking at Chi Xiaoduo, turning his head to look at the surface of the river.
“I’m not like them, I can’t take disciples,” Xiang Cheng said. “My family passes their skills down from father to son, and we don’t let it spread outside of the family.”
As expected, when God closes a door for you, he’ll use the door to squeeze your head. Chi Xiaoduo asked doggedly, “Then if I follow you and there’s danger, you can leave me at home. I promise… not to run about wildly, and I won’t bring you more trouble, is that okay? If there’s no danger... then I’ll stand to one side to watch. I’ll help you hold your bag and bring you towels and so on, and I can also buy you bottled water.
“I-I-I… I won’t take pictures or record video, and I can also applaud and cheer you on,” Chi Xiaoduo said.
The bicycle turned a corner and came to a stop by the side of the road. Xiang Cheng said, “Give me a moment, get off the bike.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “???”
Xiang Cheng walked to the side of the river and lit a cigarette. He watched the waters of the river rush past, while Chi Xiaoduo stood behind him.
Chi Xiaoduo stuffed his headphones in, and he put on a song -- David Tao’s “I Love You”.
“I’ve forgotten how it started, but maybe it was when I had a certain feeling for you --”
After about five minutes of silence, Xiang Cheng walked towards Chi Xiaoduo, pulled out one of the earbuds in his ear, and said by his ear, “You can.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “...”
Xiang Cheng slung his leg over the bike.
The stars exploded into existence, and the sky collapsed and the earth sank in on itself, even as Chi Xiaoduo continued to stand there dumbly.
“I said, you can,” Xiang Cheng said to Chi Xiaoduo, before patting the front handlebars of the bike. “Get on… hm? What’s wrong? Did I say something wrong?”
Xiang Cheng sat on the seat, and Chi Xiaoduo held Xiang Cheng’s waist, his entire face bright red. He buried his face in his chest.
“Say that you also love me, oh --”
The wind off the river blew, and thousands of flowers were in bloom along the path. With a huala, they were blown off their branches --
-- pink ones, pale yellow ones, white ones, just like the celebratory fireworks exploding in Chi Xiaoduo’s heart, shaking the very world, as they flew with a boom to cover the sky and land.
“What are you listening to?” Xiang Cheng continued to ride along, and Chi Xiaoduo gave him one earbud. The two of them rode the bike with the music, passing by the milk tea store, the ice cream store, the general store, and the stationary store along the way. This road was brightly lit by the sunlight, and it was just like every other old but freshly grown long street that every Guangzhou person, from their childhood to the point that they went to school, would pass through after school let out for the day.
The light and shadows over their head suddenly changed: summer had come.
The shadows of the camphor trees landed on the windows of the third floor of the hospital, and Chi Xiaoduo and Xiang Cheng walked in, carrying two fruit baskets.
“You guys came!” Kuang Desheng’s head was wrapped in bandages, and only his eyes peeked out.
“Ay?!” To his surprise, Chi Xiaoduo discovered that Yang Xingjie was in the bed right next to him!
Yang Xingjie glanced at Chi Xiaoduo, and he smiled. “Xiaoduo? I remember you!”
There was a cop in the room, keeping Yang Xingjie company, and the cop asked, “You two know each other? A-jie, that’s your friend?”
“Yes, yes,” Chi Xiaoduo said, standing there dumbly. “What is… going on here?”
Xiang Cheng made a “shh” gesture, indicating for him to listen.
“That day, Xingjie was patrolling, but when he passed by a construction site, a crane had fallen over under the storm, so he went to go sound the alarm,” the cop said. “The building on the site collapsed, and it almost buried him inside.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “...”
Hadn’t Yang Xingjie died in the lightning?! Chi Xiaoduo watched him, as Yang Xingjie continued, “I’m alright, why have you come? Did Wang Ren tell you?”
“We just so happened to come visit old Kuang,” Xiang Cheng replied.
Kuang Desheng’s wife was sitting by his bedside, and she let out a heavy huff, rolling her eyes at Xiang Cheng.
“Sorry,” Xiang Cheng said.
“It’s a mission that the organization gave me, what are you apologizing for,” Kuang Desheng said. “Don’t say stupid things.”
Chi Xiaoduo then asked Kuang Desheng, “Boss, what happened to you?”
“I fell off while riding my electric moped!” Kuang Desheng said. “My cerebellum’s not coordinated, I’m fine, I’m fine!”
As Xiang Cheng and Kuang Desheng spoke, Chi Xiaoduo took a seat by the sickbed, oddly studying Yang Xingjie. Yang Xingjie asked, baffled, “What’s wrong? Is there something on my face?”
Chi Xiaoduo hurried to wave his hand. “Do you still remember me?”
“I can’t remember clearly,” Yang Xingjie said. “I only remember that you’re called Chi Xiaoduo, and we had tea before in Guangjiu?”
“That’s right,” Chi Xiaoduo replied, smiling.
Yang Xingjie was a little confused, and he looked towards his colleague. Chi Xiaoduo said, probingly, “Wang Ren told me last time.”
“Oh, that’s right!” Yang Xingjie said. “Boss Wang is my friend, we met on a self-guided road trip before.”
Chi Xiaoduo nodded, and his police colleague said, “Don’t say too much, he has a concussion.”
Chi Xiaoduo hurried to acknowledge that, just as there was a knock from the outside. Qi Wei had come, and he greeted Chi Xiaoduo. Chi Xiaoduo spoke a few comforting words to Yang Xingjie, telling him to rest and recover, as it was clear that Yang Xingjie had already forgotten a large part of the events.
“Xiaoduo.” Qi Wei waved at Chi Xiaoduo, so Chi Xiaoduo came out and stood in the hospital hallway. Not long after, Xiang Cheng also came out.
“What is going on here?”
The three of them began to chat in the hallway in a mysterious fashion.
Qi Wei said, “That cop is a normal person, and during one of his patrols, he unwittingly ran into the chiwen and was taken to be the vessel for the devil soul. Now that the devil’s soul has dissipated, he has come back to himself.”
“His body has recovered?” Chi Xiaoduo asked.
“He sniffed the Lihun Pollen,” Qi Wei explained. “The organization brought him back, and only after some simple cleanup did they hand him over to the hospital. He was brought here with Brother Kuang, and the higher ups have already taken care of it. He shouldn’t remember matters where he had to interact with you.”
Chi Xiaoduo let out a breath, and he said, “Thank the heavens and earth, as long as he’s alive then that’s alright.”
Xiang Cheng asked, “You just came from Magnolia Alley?”
“Wu --” Qi Wei glanced inside the room. He didn’t respond directly to Xiang Cheng, instead addressing Chi Xiaoduo. “Brother Kuang, on the other hand, arrived on time to protect you that day, so keep him company some more.”
Chi Xiaoduo ah-ed, while Xiang Cheng’s forehead was furrowed, as if he was a little angry that Qi Wei had said that.
“What should I do?” Chi Xiaoduo asked. “Is he seriously injured?”
“Not heavily,” Qi Wei said. “It’s just that he was attacked during the storm, and he fell, so giving him an apology should suffice.”
“Alright,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “I’ll go right away.”
Chi Xiaoduo went in, and Qi Wei closed the door for them.
Xiang Cheng and Qi Wei stood across from each other, and Xiang Cheng said unhappily, “When you put it like that, he will feel very guilty for a long time.”
“He won’t,” Qi Wei said, before pulling out a snuff box, holding it between his thumb and index fingers, dangling it in front of Xiang Cheng’s face.
Xiang Cheng grew silent, but he didn’t take it.
Qi Wei said, “Director Lu handed this to me. This has to be handed over to you, even though I know you’re also in a very difficult position.”
“I’ll take a trip to the Exorcism Committee.” Xiang Cheng tiredly let out a breath.
“That won’t do,” Qi Wei said. “Before I came, they were having a meeting. For situations like Chi Xiaoduo’s, where he doesn’t fulfill the conditions, there’s no space even for discussion. If you go and get into an argument with the higher-ups, what purpose would that have? Unless you stop doing this line of work, but even if you say that, the organization won’t let you two keep your memories of any past matters.”
Chi Xiaoduo sat in front of the hospital bed, saying guiltily to Kuang Desheng, “Sorry…”
“It’s okay --” Kuang Desheng said. “This has nothing to do with you at all, what are you reprimanding yourself for?”
And saying this, Kuang Desheng began to laugh loudly, hahaha, while his wife said, with an expression of helplessness, “I don’t blame you, you were also a victim.”
Then who was to blame? It was as if everyone had taken part in a completely random group fight, and when the cops came, the thugs all scattered at once. The people who had been beaten up shuffled to their feet; tossing aside their wine cups and putting down their chopsticks, pulling out their swords only to stare around wildly in confusion, without even finding an opponent.
Kuang Desheng said, “If you have time, come to my shop often to eat!”
“Of course,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “Every time I come, I’ll order the most expensive dishes.”
The boss’s wife was peeling an apple, and she shot Kuang Desheng a nasty glare. Outside, Qi Wei came to knock, and he bid farewell to Chi Xiaoduo and left.
“The one you should be thanking is Xiang Cheng,” Kuang Desheng said to Chi Xiaoduo. “He put in the most work, and was in the most danger.”
“En.” Chi Xiaoduo thought Xiang Cheng was really someone who put his life on the line, and he couldn’t help but feel admiration towards him for that.
“Chi Xiaoduo, you come with me.” After the boss’s wife finished peeling the apple, she stuck it in his mouth and left the room to stand in the hallway.
Chi Xiaoduo was uneasy. He felt that the boss’s wife was definitely going to admonish him, but when he came to stand in the hallway, he saw that Xiang Cheng was slumped alone on the railings of the third floor of the hospital, watching the scenery outside.
The boss’s wife said, “Old Kuang getting injured was not caused by you.”
“En.” Chi Xiaoduo’s nose burned.
The boss’s wife continued, “I also don’t want him to work in this profession, but there’s no choice. For this matter, you also put in your effort, and if it wasn’t for your help, it wouldn’t have been resolved so quickly. Everyone could have been in mortal danger, so don’t keep dwelling on this, okay?”
Chi Xiaoduo smiled. The boss’s wife gave Xiang Cheng a look and shook her head, saying, “I wish that everyone can spend their days healthily and happily. Mundanity is the best thing.”
Chi Xiaoduo smiled. “That’s true.”
The boss’s wife also smiled, and she went back inside the room.
Xiang Cheng had stood in the passageway facing the street for a while, and now he turned around. Chi Xiaoduo knew that they were about to leave, so he went in to bid goodbye to Kuang Desheng and Yang Xingjie.
“I really think that for Yang Xingjie to still be alive is a very good thing,” Chi Xiaoduo said sincerely.
“How did you two meet?” Xiang Cheng asked.
“A blind date,” Chi Xiaoduo said.
“A blind date?!” Xiang Cheng asked, astounded.
Chi Xiaoduo immediately changed his tune. “My bestie, that is, Qiqi’s little sister, met him when she went on a blind date.”
Xiang Cheng nodded and said, “He’s probably forgotten it all.”
“Probably,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “But as long as he can live well, that’s good, I don’t have any wild hopes for him.”
Chi Xiaoduo’s mood was very good today, because Xiang Cheng had agreed to let him tag along. Xiang Cheng asked, “Where should we go to play? I’ll take you out today.”
“Go to the office first,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “We’ll go play another day.”
But Xiang Cheng responded, “Go to the office another day, I’ve already asked for a day off for you. Let’s go play ba, I haven’t really toured Guangzhou yet.”
Chi Xiaoduo said, “I want to go back to quit my job first. This is really too great, I don’t need to work anymore, I can start a new life now!”
Xiang Cheng: “...”
“Quit tomorrow,” Xiang Cheng said. “Listen to me, you have to make this decision carefully.”
“I’ve long since decided,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “It’s not because of this. As long as I get my certificate, I don’t want to go back to the design firm to work anyways. I can take some consulting work from home instead, that won’t disrupt me. I just don’t want to dully go to the office every day anymore.”
Xiang Cheng could only change directions and bring Chi Xiaoduo to quit his job. Chi Xiaoduo swept in like the wind as he rushed to his boss.
“Ah?!” the big boss said.
“I’m not doing this line of work anymore,” Chi Xiaoduo. “I want to pursue my new life and my new dreams!”
The big boss: “I know that you definitely want to hop jobs now that you’ve gotten your certificate. How about this, tell me, what conditions do you want? I’ll go find the CEO and try to get them.”
Chi Xiaoduo was insistent. “No, I’m not job hopping. I just don’t want to come to work for the time being. I want to rest at home, I’m too tired.”
With that, Chi Xiaoduo and the big boss sank into a tug of war between job-hopping -- increased salary -- job-hopping -- reducing his workload, and in the end, the boss even told him that he didn’t need to clock in every day, and if he didn’t want to show up, then he didn’t have to. Chi Xiaoduo was at the end of his rope, and he could only pull out his trump card. He laid down, stomach to the sky, and began to roll around on the floor.
A whole hour passed just like that, and Chi Xiaoduo finally managed to convince his big boss that he really didn’t want to do this any longer. Upon seeing that there was no way to keep Chi Xiaoduo, the big boss could only let it be.
“How about this, I’ll go discuss this with the CEO first,” the big boss said. “Is your health a little better?”
Chi Xiaoduo nodded. The big boss continued, “You still have to come in to work tomorrow, because even if you’re quitting, you still have to hand over your work. At that time, go have a chat with the CEO. Even if you don’t want to work anymore, and you want to rest, everyone will still remain friends, isn’t that right?”
With that, Chi Xiaoduo managed to put down his heavy burden as he successfully quit his job and hopped away. The design firm was filled with people who came and went, and this was already a very common occurrence. Architects had a large workload, and often the firm didn’t manage to keep its people; as long as someone passed their structural, construction, sewage, or similar test, if they didn’t hop jobs, they would go open their own firm, or they would hang up their certificate and start a business with the help of their family connections. Each one ran away faster than the last.
This year, there were not many people who had passed in Guangzhou, and Chi Xiaoduo was also the youngest one who had attended the exam. Even if the firm wanted to keep him, he wouldn’t want to stay. Even without Xiang Cheng, Chi Xiaoduo had already promised Wang Ren that he would go with him to live the good life.
Chi Xiaoduo returned to his office to clean up his stuff, and his coworkers’ attitudes towards him immediately changed. They began to ask about his next job, but Chi Xiaoduo merely replied that he wanted to rest. One of the finance department members floated over with his hands in an orchid fingers pose, and he said, “Aiya, I hear that you’re living together with a northerner, is that true?”
“Yeah, someone from Chongqing,” Chi Xiaoduo replied, smiling as he cleaned up his stuff. He didn’t hide it, because many of his coworkers knew that he was gay anyway.
“You can’t marry a northerner, Chi-meimei!” the finance guy said severely. “Southerners marry southerners, northerners marry northerners, there is a wide gap in ideologies! You have to be careful!”
“It’s okay,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “Many of my friends are southerners and northerners who paired up. Northerners are trustworthy and kind.”
To the side, a girl from Chongqing finally couldn’t take it anymore, and she roared angrily, “How many times have I said it, Chongqing’s not in the north, alright! I’m done with you Guangdong people, you’re going to end anyone with OCD like that!”
Chi Xiaoduo immediately changed his tune. “Yes yes, Sichuan isn’t in the north.”
The Chongqing girl continued, “Chongqing isn’t in Sichuan either! Chongqing is just Chongqing! And the men of our great Chongqing are all good husbands who know the twenty-four filial exemplars, alright? They can go up on stage or go into the kitchen, they can be the king of a fight and can carry your bags and keep you company, and when they go home, they always listen to their wife’s words. Where else will you find such good ones, huh?! I want to find one myself, but I haven’t even found one yet!”
“Really?” Chi Xiaoduo had an expression like he had found a treasure, and he thought to himself, Xiang Cheng really did seem to be like this.
“Of course,” the Chongqing girl said. “If you don’t want him, give him to me ba. As long as there are feelings that’s fine, my requirements aren’t high.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “That’s right, that’s right, as long as there are feelings, there’s no other requirements needed.”
Chi Xiaoduo said goodbye to his coworkers sincerely, but of course it was not a real goodbye. He carried a cardboard box out, so happy that he was like a husky that had been released from its leash, preparing to open the doors to a new world.
When he was waiting for the elevator, Chi Xiaoduo had already begun to plan out what he would do every day after he quit his job. With the power of a weak chicken, the possibility of being taken as a hostage was a thorn in his heart. So that he would not be a burden on Xiang Cheng, he should at least learn a few skills ba.
“Hey,” Chi Xiaoduo said, giving his bestie a call. “I’ve quit my job.”
“Congratulations,” his bestie said. She had just woken at noon. “As expected, you’ve quit. What are you doing next.”
“Let’s go learn taekwondo,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “I suddenly want to learn to fight.”
“Laoniang’s a female warrior, I can even carry my jugs of water up six stairs as if my feet have wings!” his bestie thundered from the other end. “And you want me to go learn taekwondo? Are you still letting me find someone or not?!”
Chi Xiaoduo hurried to say, “You can find someone while you’re learning taekwondo, maybe you’ll find one of the martial brothers there to be a fresh-faced pretty boy to your liking, and then after twisting back and forth, through the touches of your bodies, like a dream, you can have…”
He had struck at his bestie’s weak spot, and after she thought for a moment, she said, “Now this, I can consider.”
Chi Xiaoduo continued, “You can also keep wolves away, and you can work out, how nice. Sign me up while you’re at it ba, I’ll give you the money tomorrow.”
His bestie said, “Taekwondo’s too barbaric, let’s do judo ba. The handsome guys who practice judo all have good waist strength.”
Chi Xiaoduo replied, “I’m fine with either, as long as I can fight. That’s settled, then, don’t stand me up.”
“I know --” his bestie said dully.
Chi Xiaoduo hung up. Xiang Cheng had waited for two hours, and he was currently studying a recruitment ad for a restaurant downstairs.
“You can be a chef,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “Why don’t you go?”
Xiang Cheng replied, “If I cook for people I don’t know, I don’t have a feel for it. Only when I make food for important people can I bring out the best flavors within the ingredients. You’re done with your stuff?”
Chi Xiaoduo was so happy that he couldn’t distinguish left from right, and he replied, “It’s all been dealt with, I can go play now, let’s go.”
This afternoon, the two of them took a trip through the street food alley, then went to watch a movie. In Chi Xiaoduo’s memories, he hadn’t been this happy for a long time. It was as if he had returned to his childhood; all of these colors were simple and straightforward, and life was free of cares and regrets.
“Are all of the men where you’re from like this?” Ch Xiaoduo asked Xiang Cheng when the movie started playing.
“I don’t know,” Xiang Cheng said. “My dad’s like this, he always listened to my mom.”
Chi Xiaoduo and Xiang Cheng’s hands kept knocking together in the popcorn bucket. Xiang Cheng was wearing a pair of 3D glasses, and his entire body was ill at ease.
“This popcorn is so good, but it’s expensive,” Xiang Cheng said. “In my hometown, it’s a dollar for a huge bag.”
The movie began, and Xiang Cheng was instantly so startled that he jumped up.
The people around them laughed at that, and Chi Xiaoduo hurried to tug Xiang Cheng down. Xiang Cheng said quietly, “Why is it like this?”
“Shh,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “You haven’t watched any 3D ones before?”
“I haven’t,” Xiang Cheng replied, his face filled with astonishment. The light of the movie shone on his face as he continued, “It’s too amazing.”
Chi Xiaoduo replied quietly, “The technology is very interesting, let’s watch first.”
That was a space sci-fi film, and Xiang Cheng had almost no way to understand its contents. He was completely lost from beginning to end, and from time to time, Chi Xiaoduo would explain things to him quietly. He was afraid of disturbing the people around them, so he would always press up against Xiang Cheng’s ear to explain. Xiang Cheng moved his head closer too, so that his ear was pressed against Chi Xiaoduo’s lips, and he would nod every now and then.
The movie finished, and after they came out, the skin from Xiang Cheng’s left ear along the left side of his neck was red, all the way down to his shoulder.
“Let’s go buy some groceries, I’ll make you some tasty food tonight,” Xiang Cheng said.
The two of them went to get groceries, then went home to make dinner. Chi Xiaoduo slumped on the sofa, informing his friends one by one of him quitting his job. Xiang Cheng was still asking about the events of the movie, and he sighed that his own knowledge was far too little. He also drank a little beer.
When Chi Xiaoduo went to shower, Xiang Cheng sat on the sofa, holding a glass snuff bottle, turning it over and over in his hand.
His bestie had found a place for them to learn judo, and when Chi Xiaoduo came out while on the phone, Xiang Cheng immediately put the snuff bottle away. Chi Xiaoduo took a lap around the living room, before floating aimlessly onto the bed.
Half an hour later, Xiang Cheng knocked on the door to the master bedroom and asked, “Xiaoduo?”
Chi Xiaoduo was a little tired, but he was currently going through his WeChat groups. He had just posted about him quitting his job in the group.
“Are you going to shower?” Chi Xiaoduo asked, sitting on the bed, wrapped in blankets.
“I’ll go right away,” Xiang Cheng said. “Tired?”
“En, a little.” What Chi Xiaoduo actually wanted to ask was, are you going to sleep with me? But he didn’t dare to voice that.
“If you’re tired, then sleep ba.” Xiang Cheng pulled his blankets over him.
“What’s wrong?” Chi Xiaoduo asked. “You’ve been a little strange since you got home, are you not in a good mood?”
Xiang Cheng replied, “Nothing, I’m still thinking about what happened in the movie.”
Chi Xiaoduo chuckled. “Some other day, I’ll go buy a few blu-ray DVDs. I’ll go find a few of my favorite movies from before, and we’ll make up for it all at once.”
“Sure,” Xiang Cheng replied.
When Chi Xiaoduo was a student, he often watched movies on his own. When he sat in the empty theater, eating popcorn as he watched, he had always thought, how nice it would have been to have a boyfriend.
Xiang Cheng turned off the light, and the room fell into darkness.
Chi Xiaoduo heard the sounds of Xiang Cheng showering, and though he was a little tired, he couldn’t resist refreshing his Weibo feed again. After all, he had quit, and he was going to do the handover tomorrow. He didn’t need to take on any more projects, and he could let his procrastination run as wild as he wished.
Chi Xiaoduo kept scrolling and scrolling, until outside, Xiang Cheng’s steps stopped at the door to the master bedroom.
Xiang Cheng opened the door and walked in.
Chi Xiaoduo: “?”
“You haven’t slept?” Xiang Cheng’s eyes had not yet adjusted to the darkness.
Chi Xiaoduo reached out to turn on the light, only to see that Xiang Cheng was wearing a sports jacket on his upper half, while he only had a pair of underwear on his lower half. His two hands were stuck in his jacket pockets.
Chi Xiaoduo: “...”
“What’s in your pockets?” Chi Xiaoduo asked.
“My hands,” Xiang Cheng replied.
Chi Xiaoduo tugged at his arms, and Xiang Cheng pulled out his hands for him to inspect. Chi Xiaoduo then turned his pockets inside out as well, and there was nothing inside.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.