75. Living Together
It was obvious to everyone in the car that XiaoYu was greatly disturbed this time. XiaoYu was left to curl up in a couch in QiYao’s home. He sat there for a full half-hour before he finally regained his strength.
During this whole time. QiYao stayed by XiaoYu’s side, except for the brief period of time when he had to direct the professional movers on where to install XiaoYu’s gaming pod. Even without being able to walk around, the two did plenty during these thirty minutes. They ordered their takeaway to be delivered during lunch, the groceries they needed for dinner that night and any spice or seasoning they lacked. QiYao’s kitchen was just a lavish display after all.
“Thank you, Yao,” said XiaoYu.
“If you really want to thank me, then you’ll be in charge of washing the dishes tonight.”
“Huh?” XiaoYu had been feeling awkward. He didn’t know how he should face QiYao after the episode. Now, confusion replaced any unease he felt. He looked up into QiYao’s eyes to find them sparkling clearly with laughter. Only then did he realised he was being “bullied” again.
Such a flabbergasted look on XiaoYu really gave one the strongest urge to just pounce on him. Fortunately, QiYao remembered there were outsiders present in his home just then. He merely smiled and pulled the other man over to ruffle his hair.
Meanwhile, Qiong was in a state of great depression. He could be considered a guest too, sort of. Why is it the master of the house was allowed to slack off while he had to be in charge of supervising the movers? He could understand the act early on. XiaoYu still couldn’t stand and walk yet. But then the two eventually moved on to a tour of the house. Hand in hand, they merely glanced in the room where he was. Before he could even greet XiaoYu, Chief pulled him away. >皿<
There were three floors to QiYao’s mansion, with a similar-sized private garage next to it. QiYao didn’t lead XiaoYu there. He didn’t want his precious one to be traumatised again on the very same day.
Finally, XiaoYu’s gaming pod was installed and the workers left. The three who’d been working hard the whole morning gathered in the luxurious living room to savour their…takeaways.
“Hm? Why are there so many bottles here? Seasonings?”
“Yeah. We’ll need them for tonight.”
Qiong shot a glance at QiYao. This pampered and posh Chief clearly wouldn’t know how to use these. “XiaoYu, you know how to cook?” Qiong asked.
“Hee-hee. You wouldn’t mind if I stayed for dinner, right?”
“Sure. What do you like?”
“As long as there’s meat, I’m fine.” One must know their limits. Just look at Chief’s face. It’s turned so much the moment Qiong mentioned the word “stay”. If Qiong tried to ask for any dish, he would’ve been kicked out by now.
Qiong was determined to stay, even with his Chief’s death glare boring holes into him. He didn’t want to be a third wheel, but he was very curious about XiaoYu’s cooking skills. Even if Qiong was a chef in the game, he just had to dump the ingredients required by the recipe into the pot and the dish was cooked. In real life, he was completely useless at cooking.
That afternoon, the three sat together and amicably discussed about Asgard Online. From battling in fortresses to market prices for items, they’d discussed anything and everything, even rumours regarding monsters. What shocked Qiong and QiYao was just how familiar XiaoYu was with the market prices of most items in the game. Potions, common materials, gear and even cards, he knew nearly everything as well as the back of his hand. This was not without reason. For the sake of his plan on earning a living, XiaoYu would look up prices from the street stalls and requests whenever he wasn’t grinding. Inadvertently, this led to XiaoYu discovering his talent for memorising prices.
Afterwards, while XiaoYu familiarised himself with the new fancy kitchen, Qiong and QiYao discussed about the guild gathering. It was set to start tomorrow afternoon at the largest stadium in the city. While it was still a question on whether XiaoYu could leave the house tomorrow, Qiong hoped to see the younger man at this gathering. It was a rare opportunity for the guild to meet up in real life. Naturally, this question was up to QiYao to solve.
After dinner, Qiong had no more excuses to stay behind. He had to leave, but he had also sussed out just how polite and easily persuaded XiaoYu was. As long as XiaoYu agreed to it, Chief would never say no, no matter how badly the Chief doted on XiaoYu and disliked the decision. It seemed like Qiong could come over for dinner next time. That sweet and sour pork ribs were so delicious! >▽<
“Why are you all the way here?” QiYao asked. When QiYao finished his shower, he’d went looking for XiaoYu only to find nothing. In the end, he found XiaoYu all the way downstairs in the first-floor guest room near the living room.
“Unpacking my stuff,” XiaoYu replied.
QiYao could feel a headache building up as he watched XiaoYu pile his clothing up on the tiny bed in the room.
“”XiaoYu, did you think you’d be sleeping here?”
“Yes…? I’m not?” Could it be the next room?
If it were anyone else, QiYao would’ve thought they were just playing hard to get. But when dealing with XiaoYu with zero experience with love, one had to be a bit more proactive, a bit more demanding.
“XiaoYu…” QiYao sighed as he pulled the younger man into his arms. “You’re not here as my guest. Have you forgotten our sleeping arrangement before?”
There was no way XiaoYu could’ve forgotten that. Still, he had slept by himself ever since he’d matured from a clingy little boy. The thought of the two men sleeping like they did in the game made him embarrassed. “That’s just in game…”
“It’s the same. If you treat me differently, I’ll be very sad.”
“Ugh…hehe…” QiYao didn’t look sad to XiaoYu at all. All he saw was a miserable giant hound. He could even see two large floppy ears drooping down the sides of QiYao’s head.
“XiaoYu, if you laugh again, I’ll eat you up.”
>////< That trick always worked. It always turned XiaoYu into a bright red tomato.
“So you were worried I’d gobble you up. Is that why you didn’t want to sleep with me?” QiYao continued his attacks with a solemn face.
“Just not used to it.”
“You’ll get used to it after a few times, just like in the game.”
“…okay.” That sounded logical, but why was there a voice in XiaoYu telling him he’d been tricked once more?
“We’ll tidy what you’ve unpacked tomorrow. Let’s go to sleep,” QiYao said as he pulled the stunned XiaoYu up to the master bedroom on the third floor.
Compared to the enormous bed occupying the centre of the master bedroom, the bed in the guest room looked like a toddler’s crib instead. Of course QiYao didn’t want his precious one to sleep downstairs.
“Since you’re not worried about me eating you up, does that mean I can eat you up?” The big bad wolf closed the door and continued his main quest, teasing the little white rabbit. He successfully saw the bunny stiffen up and shrink against the door.
“XiaoYu, you really hurt me with that reaction,” QiYao sighed as he sat down on the giant bed, giving up on physically cornering his prey.
A big round of applause for the best actor of the year! This time, XiaoYu really did felt like QiYao was hurt. He hovered, flustered and panic. He didn’t hate QiYao. He just wasn’t ready yet.
“I-I didn’t mean it, Yao. I just wasn’t ready…” XiaoYu said as he cautiously walked forward to tug QiYao’s sleeve. However, the other man had his eyes on the floor. XiaoYu couldn’t see QiYao’s face at all. The panic in him worsened.
In reality, QiYao’s face wouldn’t show any hurt or sadness at all. In fact, he was rather satisfied with XiaoYu’s honesty. He reached out and pulled the younger man up onto his lap.
“XiaoYu, do you remember what I told you? I won’t force you to do anything. I’ll wait for you to be ready, but don’t make me wait too long.” After all, there wasn’t a single man in the world who didn’t want to hug his beloved. Sooner or later, they would encounter this problem just through living together.
“Yes.” XiaoYu hugged back. He was so glad he had such a kind lover.
All that teasing about eating XiaoYu up was only done semi-seriously. Since the younger man wasn’t ready yet, QiYao didn’t mind waiting a while longer. There was one more important issue to deal with.
“XiaoYu, do you remember about the real-life meet-up the guild talked about before the server went down?”
“It’s being held tomorrow afternoon in the largest stadium in the city. Don’t think about anything else. Just tell me. Do you want to go?”
XiaoYu wasn’t that anti-social. He’s not an introvert or autistic. He’s just not that good at interacting with other people. He didn’t hate being in crowded, noisy and bustling places. The previous few times he rejected the invitation, he merely said he couldn’t go not that he didn’t want to. He had always wanted to join them.
“Then let’s discuss how we’ll make it happen.”
While XiaoYu did suffer quite a shock during the day, that didn’t mean he would act like a cowardly tortoise and hide in his shell forever. QiYao would prefer to avoid causing unnecessary stress for XiaoYu though. He had realised what XiaoYu was truly afraid of today. It wasn’t cars. What he was terrified of was the sight of a car hitting anyone. This was why XiaoYu avoided anything to do with vehicles. That meant XiaoYu could start from trying, with QiYao by his side, to get his legs to accept being near car.
The night darkened. The two could continue their discussion for a long time in this pose before QiYao’s legs turned fully numb.
Pampered and posh: An abbreviated translation of the saying, “十指不沾阳春水” which translates to “all ten of his fingers have never touched spring water before”. The logic behind this saying comes from the concept of water from the rivers in March/Spring are the coldest. Only the wealthy would never know what it’s like as they would never need to fetch water themselves or wash their own clothes. Typically, this phrase refers to women. While it supposedly came from a poem, we do not have a written record of the exact poem it came from. The alleged source used “mud” instead of “spring water” with the phrase “spring water” coming from a different section of the poem.
Autistic: Unfortunately, the correct Chinese term for autism can be interpreted as being a shut-in/extremely introverted. Its proper English variant depends heavily on context and even then, one never truly knows what the author intended it to be in the first place. A brief reminder that this story was published in 2011. Attitudes in China regarding mental health were very much worse than now (no matter how bad they are currently).
Trauma plan: In real life, please try and avoid flying by the seat of your pants regarding trauma. It’s understandable that life moves on, but sometimes it’s not the best thing to do. If there’s one thing to be learned from this, it’s that the person with the trauma knows their own mind and body best. Ask and make sure the other knows what’s going to happen before executing any plans.