LC: Chapter 77

77. Christmas Event

XiaoYu pulled the tiny cat, that’d been curling round and round his legs, up into his arms. Four days ago, XiaoYu would never have imagined the few days of server maintenance would be so eventful. The happiness overwhelming him made him rub his face against the small cat. Sensing its little owner was very much happier now than when he’d logged off, it stretched its tiny pink tongue out and licked him.

“Heeheh. Let’s go grind,” XiaoYu said.

As for how the new Guild Wars update, that wasn’t something XiaoYu needed to worry about as long as the grind spots stayed the same. His mission was to level up. What about QiYao who should be concerned about this matter? He’d left for work after having the breakfast XiaoYu had lovingly cooked.

However, the update this time not only made some changes to the weekly Guild Wars rules, it patched in the Christmas and New Year events. The year was nearly over.

First to occur was the Christmas event. Just like last year, it was about the grudge between the two Santa Clauses.

In Asgard Online, lived two Santa Clauses. One was an NPC dubbed the “Crying Santa Claus” while the other was a…monster named the “Evil Santa Claus”. That’s right. The evil Santa Claus was a mob. It would spawn in every single place a normal mob might spawn.

The true Santa Claus was the crying NPC. Every year, he aimed to spread happiness and give Christmas presents to everyone. But an evil person would always appear and disrupt his plans.

Last year, the evil culprit stole his presents and threw them all over the world. The Christmas event required players to defeat the Evil Santa Clauses and collect the “Scattered Christmas Present” items. Return five of them to the real Santa Claus and he’ll give you a present in return. These boxes would drop some peculiar and unique little joke items.

This year, it’s a little different. The alert Santa Claus didn’t get cheated. He didn’t have his presents stolen but, infuriatingly, the socks the kids of Asgard Online used to collect their Christmas presents had been stolen overnight. This meant even if Santa Claus had his presents, he couldn’t give them to the children. Hence, he has sought help from the players once more. It was roughly the same quest. Defeat the Evil Santa Clauses. Collect five Christmas Socks and exchange them for a present from him.

It was a little overdramatic for a Christmas event, but the players of AO were already grinding everywhere. They didn’t mind attacking another mob. It was an easy monster to tackle anyway, even a Level 1 player could kill it. The reason’s simple. He won’t attack and he only had 1 HP.

Thus, even if the players just lightly tapped the Evil Santa Claus with their weapons, he would immediately collapse, wriggle in pain for a few moments before disappearing and leaving behind the quest item. Last year, this sight made quite a few players’ faces go 囧, but everyone was used to it this year. They were even curious just what kind of drama these two characters will act out this year.

Staring at the red and worn-down, with holes in the heel, sock in his inventory, XiaoYu hesitated. With every event, there would be a major business opportunity lurking behind it. Be it the socks or the presents, the streets would soon be filled with players buying and selling them. Should XiaoYu sell them or open the presents himself for some fun?

To be honest, XiaoYu quite liked opening chests and boxes. After all, that’s how he got his tiny cat. So, it was only a moment of dithering before he decided to keep the socks. He’ll just take it as a chance to open some presents.

By the end of the day, XiaoYu was able to exchange the socks for two presents. That was a nice battle record. If one were slightly unlucky, they might not encounter a single Evil Santa Claus at all within 24 hours.

After a glance at the time, XiaoYu bent down and lifted the small cat into a hug and a kiss. “I’m sorry, little one. I’ve got to log off for a while. I’ll play with you more tonight,” he said.

“Mrrooow~”

What was XiaoYu logging off for? To cook dinner.

With the existence of high-grade nutritional solution, having an actual meal didn’t really matter. However, since XiaoYu and QiYao were living together, XiaoYu wanted to do something for their home. Most of the household chores didn’t need him though. QiYao had plenty of high-tech products in charge of them, plus the occasional professional cleaners.

At the sight of XiaoYu wrecking his head over this, QiYao suggested that XiaoYu be in charge of all three meals whenever QiYao had to head in for work. That way, he would be able to have XiaoYu’s loving cooking at work too. He wouldn’t have to order takeout all the time. XiaoYu thought that was a great idea too and agreed to it. Unknown to him, this man was a boss so rich that his savings were enough for both of them to live off of. He was also way past the period when a new boss needed to achieve something grand to prove himself. There were more days QiYao didn’t need to go to work than the days when he needed to.

After dinner, the couple logged on.

“For me?” QiYao asked, shocked at the present XiaoYu handed over.

“Mn,” XiaoYu replied. He scratched the back of his head bashfully. “It’s a little early but I’m afraid I might not be able to hold back from opening it up.”

“Thanks.” While the logic behind the decision made QiYao want to laugh and cry at the same time, he appreciated the intent behind it.

He reached out to accept the present and snuck a kiss along the way, successfully making XiaoYu’s hair stand on end from the gesture. They were currently in Prole. There were players all around them bustling about >///<. QiYao didn’t mind at all. He was so quick, and he had done a quick survey of their surroundings, that even if someone wanted to take a photo of them kissing, he would be done before anything could be done.

“Let’s go grind at the Pyramids,” QiYao said.

“You don’t have a meeting today?” XiaoYu recalled the patch notes he had briefly read through earlier that day. The points about the Guild Wars update occupied more than half of the notes.

 “It’s tomorrow night.”

“Oh.”

With QiYao in party, XiaoYu could climb to the top of the Pyramids to fight the higher levelled Mummies that spawned there. They could even kill a Christmas-only mob called Santa Poring, which was basically a ball of jelly wearing a Santa hat.

The Santa Porings and Evil Santa Clauses spawned anywhere a normal mob could. The reason for Santa Poring’s existence was to assist the weak and fragile Santa Claus. Santa Porings didn’t have a set level. They would spawn five levels higher than the average mob at their spawn location. Hence, if players were trying to power level by grinding in an area too strong for them, they would first need to consider the level gap between them and the mob before any attempt to attack a Santa Poring. Wouldn’t want to be stomped to death by a ball of jelly.

Fortunately, Santa Porings were as rare as the Evil Santa Claus and they weren’t aggressive. If one wasn’t attacking it, it can be considered a very cute creature. In spite of all that, it had a very irritating characteristic. It would pick up loot and there was a chance the loot it gobbled up would be dissolved. That meant if one were to be really unlucky, the item that was eaten up by the Santa Poring would still be gone even if the monster was killed.

Nevertheless, any and all loot-picking monsters had to bow down to the tiny cat, the grandmaster of the art. And so not only did the Santa Poring that came bouncing towards the party, attracted by the loot drops, not find anything for it to gobble up, it was also tragically dissected by a certain Guild Leader.

“XiaoYu, take out the Christmas Candy.”

“Okay.” XiaoYu opened up the little cat’s inventory to find a piece of candy wrapped in pretty and colourful wrapping paper. He took it out and read its description.

Christmas Candy: A special candy that can be used in battle. 1 HP regenerated every second for 5 minutes after consumption.

To high level players, that measly health regeneration’s worth nothing but it was better than nothing. And the candy’s quite delicious.

“Try it.” Last year’s event had that candy too. The prices went as high as 50 gold per piece. It might be expensive but it was one of the most delicious candies in the game, according to those who liked sweets.

XiaoYu unwrapped the candy and popped it in his mouth. An “Auto-Regen” symbol instantly appeared in the buff section of his status bar.

“Is it tasty?”

“Mn. It’s very sweet.” It’s sweet yet not sickly sweet. It was a very tasty candy indeed.

“Is that so…”Because QiYao had been tanking mobs for XiaoYu with his back to the younger man, XiaoYu couldn’t see the sly smile that was creeping up the knight’s face.

All of a sudden, QiYao let out a few of his Third Job moves to clear the area around them. XiaoYu was confused. Were they going to rest now? Then, he saw QiYao turn around and pull him into a kiss.

“I want to try it too,” muttered QiYao.

When kissing, keep his mouth open. After a few days of “training”, XiaoYu had taken that lesson to heart. But they were kissing in the middle of a monsters’ den and QiYao’s tongue was still chasing after the candy in XiaoYu’s mouth. It was the first time anything like this had ever happened to XiaoYu. He didn’t have the mental capacity to wonder if there were any more monsters around them, if doing this right then and there was dangerous. All he could do was clutch at QiYao’s cape and drown in that passionate and sweet kiss.

Translator’s Note:

Santa Claus: In RO, there were no 2 Santa Clauses. The “Evil Santa Claus” here is likely a stand-in/adaptation of the Christmas Goblins.


Previous IndexNext

GC: Chapter 75

75. Pay You Back With Another

YiHan was startled. “I…I didn’t say I want to but…my sister, she…”

JingYuan went silent. He stood up and turned away from YiHan. “XueQing and I have explained this to you,” he said sadly. “Our engagement is fake. It was all a bad plan, but I did all that for you! I thought we explained it clearly enough but the way you’re acting now…HanHan, are you regretting it? It’s fine. You know I love you. You hold all the authority to hurt me. No matter what you decide to do, I will accept it. No matter how you treat me, I’ll…accept it. As long as you’re happy.”

YiHan’s heart throbbed in pain. He hurriedly stood up. Before he even paused and thought about it, he wrapped his arms around JingYuan’s slim waist and panickily said, “JingYuan, I didn’t mean that. I-I like you too. I like you the most. How could I bear to hurt you? It’s just…my sister, I…I always feel like I’m the thief here. I don’t know what I should say.”

The edges of JingYuan’s lips twitched. He turned back around and used his height advantage to pull YiHan into his embrace. “I know. I shouldn’t push you. I’m the one in the wrong in the first place. I made a bad move first which made you upset. I’ll happily accept any punishment from you,” he sighed.

“No punishment,” YiHan quickly shot. “I just…I don’t know what we are right now.”

JingYuan sighed once more. “HanHan, I thought we were on the same page and again…After being so intimate, we’re lovers now. Am I wrong?”

YiHan felt his face flushing once more. “T-That’s right,” he whispered.

JingYuan let out a sigh of relief. “We’ll try to resolve the engagement issue as fast as possible. Your sister is in more of a hurry than us.”

“I want it settled soon too,” YiHan said with a frown. “But…I still don’t know how I should get close to Chen TianYang. This concerns my sister’s lifetime happiness. I’m afraid I’ll mess it up.”

JingYuan smiled and let go of YiHan. He pulled the younger man down on the couch and fed him another slice of peach. “HanHan, have you ever thought that if Chen TianYang really liked XueQing, you wouldn’t need to get close to him? That he’d use any chance to actively get close to you? You just need to create a ‘chance’ for him. If he comes, that means he really wants to be close to XueQing’s family. If he doesn’t get hooked, then XueQing probably stands no chance. This is also a test on what he thinks,” said JingYuan.

When YiHan heard that, his eyes started sparkling. He even forgot to chew the peach in his mouth. In his excitement, he pounced on JingYuan and eagerly said, “Right. Why did I never think of that before? You’re so smart!”

JingYuan steadily caught him. His smile widened and raised his hands to press on the back of YiHan’s head. He kissed the other on the lips. His tongue swept through YiHan’s mouth and stole the peach slice from the other with a curl of his tongue.

“Not bad,” he said as he chewed on his stolen peach slice. “It’s very sweet.”

YiHan hopped off. His face as red as a tomato. “We still have a lot more if you wanted some. Why did you have to steal mine?” he asked.

“Well, I’ll pay you back with another,” JingYuan lovingly said, spearing another slice with the fork.

YiHan: “…”

***

The next day, Chen TianYang spotted a familiar face pulled over by the road as he was driving home after work. He slowed down and took a thorough look at it. Didn’t it belong to the Bai family? That’s the car YiHan usually use when he gets out!


Previous IndexNext

LC: Chapter 76

76. Meetup

Qiong Lin had been busy buzzing around ever since he woke up early that morning. Confirm everything was ready at the venue. Make sure everyone’s nametags were sorted properly in their own groups. Speaking of the nametags, they were actually just a piece of sticky note with the player’s game ID and the headshot of their avatars printed on it. Then, the players can just stick their nametags at their chest or at their arm. It would make it so much easier for everyone to get to know each other.

As time ticked closer to the appointed time, Heretic Demons guild members started flocking in from all places. They stuck their nametags on and rushed into the field. The instant they stepped past the doors, they were shocked by the signs on the floor. They looked identical to the signs they’d use at the Zhang Village to direct players to the different portals at the airport. Instinctively, a lot of them started to follow the arrows to their own subsidiary guilds’ spots.

Soon, the majority of the guild members snapped back to their senses. This wasn’t a Guild War. Their goal today was the Guild Leader! Thus, they all ran towards the main guild’s section to take a look instead. In a blink, the spot designated for the main guild was crowded. Unfortunately, no matter how hard they searched, they couldn’t find anyone with the name “HereticKing” on them.

Still, all that looking around led to many players finding familiar names in the crowd. Soon, they charged towards them. Squad leaders for the different Jobs, guild leaders, the grinding party leaders, all of them were quickly surrounded. Everyone was chattering happily away. No one even noticed QiYao when he led XiaoYu into the stadium.

The two of them had arrived way before. They’d merely been resting in a break room. To XiaoYu, the ride over had been as breezy as riding on clouds. However, he learned his lesson from yesterday. He kept his eyes closed the moment he stepped out the door. It was so much less traumatic because of that. That meant he didn’t have to endure the embarrassing process of being carried around by QiYao. Alright, he’ll admit it. He did get carried for just a bit, just.

The gathering spots for the main guild and the subsidiary guilds were at different areas of the stadium. The two men quickly split up and XiaoYu successfully merged into the crowd and waddled over to his designated area. There were too many people around though so he didn’t spot any familiar names.

Contrary to the peaceful journey XiaoYu had, QiYao was very unlucky. Before he even got close to the main guild’s section, someone in the crowd shouted, “It’s Chief!”, and silence dominated the hundred-or-so-square-metres-large stadium. Countless eyes started darting around in search of the man, only to end up staring up at the large screen stationed high above their heads. They gasped. The drone hovering in the air had caught QiYao’s figure in its camera.

Most VR players would improve their looks in one way or another to make up for whatever they lack in real life. Who would’ve thought their great Guild Leader did the opposite? The face on the screen was much more handsome than a celebrity. Those who hoped to pounce on their leader deflated with their courage fleeing at that sight.

“Everyone, our mighty boss is here! A round of applause!” shouted Qiong from among the crowd. He climbed up onto the big stage they’d hired, grabbed the microphone and did his best as an MC.

At first, the crowded was stunned silent. They then erupted into cheers. They were so excited that one could’ve mistaken them for fans welcoming their favourite celebrity to the stage.

“Ahem. I’m sure Chief also felt everyone’s love. Well then, I formally welcome everyone to the Heretic Demons Gathering! It has begun!”

“Yay!”

“I’ll make this short. First, let’s watch a short – ugh, or as I should say, long – clip. There was so many submissions. Everyone, thank you for being so kind as to provide me with them. A friendly warning. Please don’t drink anything while watching this video. Those who have issues standing might want to sit down for this.”

Under the confused gazes from most of the crowd, the large screen switched to a familiar sight – the official trailer for Asgard Online. It was just over a minute but it made them recall the sights they saw when they were first introduced to the world of AO. The picture after the trailer petrified everyone present, even QiYao was startled.

In the picture were HereticKing and I_Am_A_Poor_Man out in the wild and in newbie gear, that seemed rather hilarious now that they looked at them. The former was drinking some milk with a blank face. He clearly didn’t realise he was being photographed. As for the other, he had a somewhat evil smirk on while a hand is held up in a V sign.

This was taken not long after they’d started playing. Most of the Heretic Demons members had never seen their leaders as tender and naive as they were over a year ago. Their awe-inspiring Chief actually were once as weak as they were too. One could actually be so very photogenic while drinking milk. Everyone immediately realised another side to the great player they worship. He could be cute and friendly too.

Picture after picture flashed by. Familiar faces began to slowly appear before the crowd’s eyes. They were always wearing cheap, ratty gear with ever-so normal weapons and not a single shine in sight. Sometimes they’d be facing off a monster, sometimes they would be resting.

Clearing the fields of mobs, attacking bosses in groups, the joy of finding gear or a card at the end of a battle, the corpses that litter the ground when a party wipe happens, the moment the main guild and the subsidiary guilds were created, the mass partying-up for major events, marching around on their night patrols…the different people featured in the picture and videos slowly grew before the crowd’s eyes. They saw what they used to look like. A tranquil peace gradually enveloped the gigantic stadium, leaving only the music from AO ringing through the air.

The sight of the familiar faces of their leaders as fresh new players made them laugh, but those smiles soon turned wistful and nostalgic. Hearts were touched. Every player had once gone through that. A simple picture might dust off the memories hidden away in their minds.

The Search for Yesterday’s Memories.

If one had to give the first half of the video a theme, that would be it. The following section was vastly different.

The figures crowding around the Zhang Village. Players shaking hands and bumping fists. The unrestrained anticipation and excitement in their eyes. Party leaders raising their flags up high in search of party members in the sea of players. Healers solemnly standing at their stations in the airport. The guild witnessed those sights once more. To XiaoYu’s surprise, he and his tiny cat showed up in the video too, even for a brief moment. In the shot, the little cat was rubbing against his neck with a tilted head in an affectionate gesture while he was looking down at it with a doting gaze. The sight warmed XiaoYu’s heart. He must get Big Brother Lin to send him a copy of that moment.

The camera panned towards the various battlefields they fought in. Blood-red wings mixed with the logos of other guilds. Them laying siege on the fortresses, breaking through the fortress defences, counterattacking, clearing the fortresses of remaining monsters, witnessing server-wide announcements ring out about a fortress being conquered…Most of the people present were the heroes of these scenes. Even mere audience members who hadn’t participated in any of those moments felt their blood rushing through their bodies.

The last scene in the video was focused on the square in the middle of Prole. There, five flags were flying in the air. These represented the guilds whom the fortresses belonged to and three of them featured their beloved red wings.

The Glory of Building Tomorrow.

The video lasted well over an hour. From an outsider’s perspective, the fancy display of skills and light flashing around was very boring. To every single Heretic Demons member in the stadium, all of that was just part of the pride and happiness that only they could understand.

“It’s free time next. You guys can do anything, cards, just chat, sing and even have a real-life PvP match. Just follow the signs here. We’ll gather back here at five later. Many more activities to come tonight! Dismissed!”

For a brief second everyone just remained where they were. Their minds still occupied by the video they’d watched. It was only when the video started to play again on the screen did voices start to rise in chatter.

“Chief is so cute with overalls one!”

“I’ve even forgot I wore that wood armour before. That was so thick.”

“I’ve tried catching that fox cub before. I never caught one unfortunately.”

“Haha. I was part of that corpse pile on the street. Who knew that the Centipede King would go berserk?”

“I was the one who found that scarf. What a pity it broke at +7.”

“At least half of that sprite guild were killed by my group.”

The video was well-received. Qiong who had jumped down off the stage after his announcement was very satisfied with the reaction. He had asked so many people to help him. He requested to have every single guild member who would be attending the gathering appear at least once. However, he didn’t think he would find a picture of him and Chief when they were at the Newbie Village. It seemed like his habit of just recording and taking screenshots at all times was very handy.

“You took quite a lot of photos while I wasn’t paying attention,” QiYao nonchalantly remarked.

“I’m innocent. Most of them were found by the others. You’re more popular after all.”

“Oh? The one from the Newbie Village too?”

“Ha…Ha…I’m sorry.” T-T

“Send me the photo of XiaoYu to me later.”

“You think that was a good one too, right?”

“Mn.”

“Chief, give me an autograph!”

“Chief, I want a selfie with you!”

“Chief…”

The members who’d been watching at a distance due to the special Boss aura QiYao exuded mustered up their courage and crowded over after having seen him looking so very cute in the video. Qiong took the chance and escaped but he was soon swarmed as well.

“Poor_Man, can you send me this video later?”

“What are you planning with fanning everyone’s passion through this, you brat?”

“Yeah! I nearly cried!”

“Did Enlighten send you that picture of the party-wipe? Aah! I’ll get him for this. My heroic image!”

Everywhere, everyone was chattering excitedly with each other. XiaoYu even found a few familiar figures…well, actually, he was found. It’s because his face was exactly the same as his in-game avatar’s, which meant it was the best sign to advertise with. Occasionally, someone would say, “Ah, you’re LuckyCat. You look just the same.” Then, the heads around XiaoYu would snap to look at him. Well, he and QiYao had been acting so obvious that quite a lot of the Heretic Demons members were still thinking, “Is he the legendary Mrs Guild Leader? -o-”.

In twos and threes, the players soon wandered off to the numerous entertainment rooms available in the stadium to continue their mingling. XiaoYu was also dragged to sing some songs by a few passionate women in his subsidiary guild. Later on, his grinding party came and borrowed him for a few rounds of card games. While he was in the toilet, he met Below_The_Moon (Xue KaiYue) who’d escape his own flock using the toilet as an excuse. Then, he was pulled along to a PvP match. Of course, that’s not a real-life PvP match. It was a match on a computer. It was proclaimed to be to train XiaoYu’s reflexes and skills. XiaoYu was kept dizzyingly busy, but he was very happy with it.

At five, the eager crowd gathered at the stadium’s centre field once more. There were many long tables set up this time. It wasn’t realistic to have everyone sit in the usual round tables so tonight’s dinner was a self-serve buffet.

While enjoying the delicious food available, there were lucky draws with prizes ranging from in-game items to real-life merchandise. (The merchandise was gotten through the tricks of a certain someone calling the game publishers. Of course, they were happy to provide with such a different way of generating publicity.)

The lucky draw winners would be selected through the camera randomly locking onto someone. It could be anyone, from the guild leaders to the average member. They even had someone who was wolfing food down when they were selected. The winner was so excited that he rushed up stage with a big plate of food. Everyone had burst out laughing then.

Naturally, the most welcomed guest to draw the next winner would be QiYao. Qiong even gave him the special authority to draw a few more. No one would say no to that. Everyone stretched their neck high, hoping to be drawn.

“MildlyMorose.” The screen zoomed in on the paper held in QiYao’s hands. It had both the player’s ID and their avatar headshot printed on it. That way, they can avoid mixing up players with similar names.

“Yay! I love you, Chief!” A petite little girl from one of the subsidiary guilds hopped up and down in happiness. It made those around her even more jealous.

“UnhappyBreakup.” From the avatar, it should be a guy.

“Mmmgh!” sounded a strange noise from the crowd. The drone immediately zoomed in on the source.

“Hahahaha!” Everyone broke out in laughter at the scene shown on the screen. The guy had been stuffing his mouth full of meat and hadn’t had the time to swallow the food down for the draw. He was waving a chicken leg up in the air while dancing madly on the spot to indicate the winner was him.

“…” Once the two’s prizes were handed out, QiYao continued to pull out the next paper slip. When he saw the name written on the paper, he was stunned, but the corners of his lips lifted into a noticeable smile. Warmth filled his eyes.

“!!!” QiYao hadn’t announce the winner and he’d yet to show it to the camera. All everyone off-stage could do was be shocked at how QiYao’s eyes seemed as though they were looking at his lover. Just what name was it? Who was so charming as to make the ever-poker-face Chief be so gentle? Was it himself? It didn’t look like it.

QiYao looked up and immediately picked out XiaoYu from the crowd. The smile in his eyes grew and he showed the paper to the camera.

“LuckyCat.”

The other camera followed QiYao’s gaze before locking onto XiaoYu whose nametag read “LuckyCat”. He had just shoved a forkful of cake into his mouth. When he felt eyes boring into him, he looked up, startled eyes wide and blinking with his fork still in his mouth.

“Congratulations, LuckyCat. Please head on stage” Qiong had known who QiYao had drawn just from the smile on his face. He had to admit, love was so strong and powerful that even the gods would help lovers out. Ah, they had a merchandise here that would be perfect for XiaoYu. Qiong had planned on keeping it to give it to XiaoYu later. He’ll go look for it now.

Under numerous curious stares, XiaoYu slowly walked up to the stage. At the same time, he tried his best to secretly chew and swallow the cake in his mouth. Once on stage, he just stood there. He didn’t know where he should stand. All he could do was seek help from QiYao with his eyes. The other smilingly pulled him over to his side.

When Qiong ran back out from backstage, he was nearly forced to retreat from the pink bubbles floating onstage. Just what were these two doing? Why are they holding hands and shooting glances  at each other? Can’t they tell everyone else’s jaws were already glued to the floor?

Qiong handed over the prize he found to QiYao while continuing to grumble and whine internally. The latter then handed it over to XiaoYu. When XiaoYu’s eyes landed on his prize, his eyes twinkled and shined. It was a black cat sprawled out with a red ribbon tied to its tail. This was a cute head accessory found in-game that could only be crafted through collecting different equipment. It’s called the Lazy Kitten. As the whole crafting process was rather troublesome and the materials needed for it were quite hard to collect, XiaoYu had never tried to get one.

“Thank you,” said XiaoYu.

“No need for thanks,” replied QiYao.

Alright, alright. Qiong felt like his eyes were going blind from the dazzling display of love before him. If these two kept going like that, they wouldn’t need to continue with the activities planned for later.

“We still have plenty of prizes left. Don’t worried, dear friends who have yet to win a prize. Next up, let’s welcome the leader of Suicide Squad, Egg_Tart,” Qiong announced.

……

The event went on until late at night. By the time the two arrived home, XiaoYu overcame his nervousness from being in a car, and recovered some strength to wash up and prepare for bed, time had already ticked past twelve.

“Did you have fun today?” asked QiYao.

“Yes. I’m so happy,” XiaoYu replied, still hugging to his beloved lazy kitten.

“That’s good.” It seemed like the decision to get XiaoYu to attend the gathering was correct.

“Yao…”

“Hm?”

“Thank you…” XiaoYu leaned his head on QiYao’s chest and rubbed his head against the other like a little cat.

“What is it?” What surprised QiYao was not XiaoYu’s proactiveness, it was the rather strange tone he used.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to have someone else be with me on my birthday.” And there were so many people today. This was something XiaoYu who’d spent his 19th birthday all alone, with his parents having just passed away, would never have imagined.

QiYao was shocked. He quickly looked up at the clock. It was already past midnight. “Yesterday was your birthday! Why didn’t you tell me?” he gasped.

“You didn’t ask…”

“Erm…Sorry, XiaoYu. I didn’t prepare any gifts for you.”

“I already have the best present I could wish for.” XiaoYu held up the kitten up and shook it. “I’m so very happy. Thank you, Yao.”

“While it’s a little late, happy birthday, XiaoYu.” QiYao held XiaoYu in a tight hug. Unfortunately, this year’s birthday was past, but QiYao had already sworn he would never ever miss it again. From now on, he’ll be spending XiaoYu’s birthday with him.

“Mn.” XiaoYu hugged the other man back. He really, truly did felt like he was very fortunate to have this.


Previous IndexNext

GC: Chapter 74

74. Lovers

YiHan’s face went aflame. “N-No. I’m okay. Um…that…my eyes are feeling strained. I’ll take a break. Get some water,” he stuttered. Saying so, he threw the bunched-up wad of paper into the waste basket. In jittery, panicked motions, he stood up to pour a drink from the jug of water nearby.

JingYuan stared at YiHan’s Adam’s apple bobbled up and down as he gulped down water. It reminded him of that night when his little one also complained he was thirsty and wanted a drink. In the end, YiHan mistook liquor for water and…

Stop! Mu JingYuan, stop thinking! If Little JingYuan stood up and saluted YiHan now, his image in HanHan’s mind would be ruined!

JingYuan silently took a few deep breaths and shoved the desire swelling up in him deep down into the unknown bottom of his mind. Only then did he stand up and walked over to YiHan. Casually, as if he hadn’t been thinking very dirty thoughts about YiHan, he wiped away the water drops hanging on the edges of YiHan’s mouth.

When YiHan looked down and put a hand on his stomach, JingYuan gently asked, “Are you hungry? Lunch will be ready soon. Now’s not a good time for a proper snack. Why don’t I get you some fruit instead?”

Somewhat embarrassed and perplexed, YiHan hurriedly nodded. His eyes trailed after JingYuan who walked out the door through to the kitchen. He was feeling rather anxious. Just what is their relationship right now? He was so happy at how affectionate JingYuan was being, but that man was still his future brother-in-law. Every time JingYuan showed his affections, YiHan felt so ashamed. He felt like some mistress who’s having a scandalous affair with his brother-in-law. Perhaps it was because of the deep-seated belief he had from his last life, perhaps that was affecting his thoughts. No matter how much his sister and JingYuan emphasised their engagement was just a farce, he still felt very uneasy about it. It felt like he was a thief. This was so much different from the decision he made when he was reborn. This development that had strayed so far away from what he had predicted that he was trembling at the thought of everything.

With a plate of tiny cubes of honeydew and peaches, JingYuan pushed through the door and back into the room. YiHan might’ve instantly composed himself and smiled at JingYuan, the other man still caught a glimpse of YiHan’s panic flashing through his face. That made his heart clench hard with pain.

Without saying anything, JingYuan walked over to YiHan and placed the plate on the table. He speared a piece of honeydew with a tiny fork and raised it to YiHan’s lips.

“Aunt Yang said this honeydew’s very sweet. Try it,” JingYuan said with a smile.

YiHan’s mouth snatched the honeydew from the fork while it was still in JingYuan’s hand. Maybe it was because this honeydew came from JingYuan, YiHan felt as if the honeydew was so much sweeter than the fruits he usually ate. He couldn’t help but nod in agreement.

“It’s very sweet. You have some too,” YiHan said.

JingYuan smiled and used the same fork to grab a piece. He even licked the juices left on the fork after swallowing down the fruit cube.

“It’s extremely sweet,” JingYuan suggestively said.

YiHan nearly choked on his own breath at how seductive JingYuan was acting. His eyes were as wide as plates. He didn’t even know what to say. There were two forks that came with the plate of cut fruits. Why did JingYuan used the fork YiHan did? He even licked…

JingYuan glanced at YiHan. “What is it?” he asked, curious as to what the issue was.

“That fork…I, um, I…I just used that…” YiHan mumbled.

“I know,” JingYuan replied, more confused than before.

“Yet you still…”

All of a sudden, JingYuan leaned in close. “We’re lovers,” he interrupted. “Why can’t we share a fork? You don’t like me? Am I disgusting?”

YiHan’s heart thumped and raced. “L-Lovers…” he stammered.

“Of course we’re lovers,” JingYuan said with a pained look. “Unless you want to deny all responsibility?”

Translator’s Note:

Don’t like me? Am I disgusting: The Chinese text merely said, “Do you dislike me?” but the phrase used, 嫌弃, can be used to imply the speaker thinks the other disgusting or hateful for some unpleasant reason.


Previous IndexNext

LC: Chapter 75

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.

“A little.”

“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.

“Um…n-no.”

“Then why?”

“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?”

“Hm? Yeah.”

“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?”

“…I do.”

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.

Translator’s Notes:

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.


Previous IndexNext

GC: Chapter 73

73. Possessed

“What XueQing said isn’t without reason, Father,” Yan said, nodding. “They always say, lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas. Our little brother is still young. He’s not completely set in his ways. It’s not good for him to hang out with someone as unscrupulous as Feng Qun. He might have been led astray by that guy. He was temperamental and self-centred. He wouldn’t even listen to me, his elder brother. But now? He’s become mature and obedient; he’d even listen to my advice. Those superficial friends of his should be chased off as soon as possible.”

“You’re right,” FuRen agreed with a node. “HanHan is the youngest son of the Bai family. There are many who’d like to curry favour with him. He’s still young. Sometimes, he can’t tell whether someone really is kind and sincere or if they’re malicious. You’re his older siblings. You’ll have to help him filter out the scum, but you have to respect his wishes so he doesn’t get upset.

“As for this Feng Qun, the young Mr Chen has already acted. We don’t need to do anything else. Whether he actually befriended HanHan with evil intentions or not, it doesn’t matter. That’s all just our guess. If we do anything more, we’ll be seen as going overboard and cruel. Once he’s out of the hospital, we’ll just drive him away. As long as he never returns to this city, we’ll leave him be no matter what he does.”

Yan and XueQing nodded to that.

***

When JingYuan arrived back at the Bai family home, YiHan was currently hard at work writing something.

The first thing JingYuan saw when he stepped through the door was YiHan almost spread out all over the desk. He wrote and drew and wrote again on a piece of paper. His brows were locked in a tight frown. He was so serious and focused on his writings that he didn’t even notice JingYuan getting close to him.

JingYuan stood behind YiHan and stretched his neck to peek at what HanHan was writing. While everything was a little messy and all over the place, he could tell it was a plan for how to get close to Chen TianYang and suss out his attitude to XueQing.

JingYuan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that. He couldn’t help but feel a little jealous at it. His little one really did care a lot for his sister.

He knew this wasn’t the right mindset to have. HanHan liked him. This was already the greatest gift the gods could ever bestow upon him. He shouldn’t get greedy. That’s just what humans do though. When they have a delicious cake they can look at but not taste, they would think that they’ll be satisfied as long as they can take one bite. Once he really did take one bite of that delectable cake, they would have the uncontrollable desire to have the entire cake to themselves. They wouldn’t even want others to glance at it to avoid anyone else wanting the cake.

JingYuan bitterly laughed on the inside. Everyone said he was a very promising young man who was mature and disciplined. No one would’ve thought that when it’s about the one he loved, he would act exactly like an immature brat, anxious and unruly. XueQing was HanHan’s sister. It’s normal for someone to care a lot about one’s sister’s marriage. He’s acting like he’s possessed. He must correct that.

He let out a long exhale and asked in a soft voice, “HanHan, what are you writing? You’re so serious.”

It was only then that YiHan realised JingYuan was in the room. “You’re back. I was wondering how to approach Chen TianYang in a natural manner that he wouldn’t see through. He’s so smart. I’m afraid of mucking it up.”

JingYuan casually leaned down and pecked YiHan on the cheek. “How’s your plan coming along?” he gently asked.

YiHan’s face immediately flushed red. He put his pen down and used his two fair, perfect, slender hands to cover up the messy writing on the paper. “I’m not done yet,” he muttered.

The smile on JingYuan’s lips deepened. He didn’t bother trying to take a peek at the paper again. He raised a hand to pat the back of YiHan’s head and warmly said, “Have you been planning for a long time? Just bashing your head against it won’t do. You’ve got to take a few breaks. Hm, you’ve been sitting here for a long time. This chair isn’t very soft. Aren’t you uncomfortable?”


Previous IndexNext

LC: Chapter 74

74. Moving

XiaoYu’s arms reached out into the air and stretched. A glance outside showed it to be another bright and sunny day. Perhaps it was from the great weather, perhaps it was because XiaoYu had finally let his emotions loose. XiaoYu felt like his body was lighter than ever. However, when he thought back to how he had bawled before QiYao yesterday, he had the urge to dig a hole and bury himself in it.

Today, he’ll have to organise his luggage and decide what to pack. XiaoYu surveyed his room. He opened up his closet and scanned it. He didn’t have a single clue on where to start.

This wasn’t like packing for a holiday or a camping trip. He wasn’t just packing for a few days. The number of days he’d be staying at QiYao’s place was an unknown number. So how much clothing should he pack?

As he was stuck pondering, his phone started ringing from the living room.

“Did I wake you up, XiaoYu?” QiYao was secretly calling XiaoYu in the middle of his busy workday from his private office. The reason’s simple. He missed XiaoYu. While waiting for XiaoYu to answer the call, he was wondering if it was too early for a call. Would he see XiaoYu with bed hair? What he was met with was a confused XiaoYu instead.

“No. I was awake for a while now,” replied XiaoYu.

“What are you doing? You’re frowning,” QiYao said, pointing to his own brows. XiaoYu looked troubled. Had he gone spiralling down in doubt again?

“Yeah, um…I don’t know what I should pack.”

“Hehe. You just need to prepare some of your own personal products. You can come back for something at any time if you want to after all.” QiYao didn’t mind making a few more trips. He could use those trips to help XiaoYu overcome his trauma.

“True.” It wasn’t like XiaoYu would never return, even if every trip out would be a huge hurdle for him. “Did you need me for something?” he asked.

“Nothing. I just miss you.”

“Hehe…” XiaoYu couldn’t help but feel bashful at how straightforward QiYao was.

“You haven’t forgotten about my braised pork, right?”

“No. I’ve already gotten the ingredients.”

“I look forward to it.”

QiYao’s stomach started complaining just then. It was near lunch break. However, when QiYao finally hung up, his eyes gradually hardened into a solemn gaze. The computer monitors before him were filled with numerous news articles on a single headline. Frankly, they can’t be called news. They were from last year.

As victims were protected by the law to an extent, their full name and photos were never publicly disclosed in the news. Thus, the XiaoYu in all these reports had been processed and altered. Still, if someone really wanted to, they could still recognise the figure being squished by a crowd of reporters as XiaoYu.  Unfortunately, the focus went from sympathy for the dead to a discussion of whether humanity should completely rely on automation for safety. This exploded into a great debate all over the world and the most direct victim of the incident, XiaoYu, quickly faded away from the public’s attention.

XiaoYu looked so much thinner in those articles than he did now. QiYao could just imagine just how much pressure XiaoYu was under, how much pain he was in, from those images.

“Ugh, Chief, you’re so scary when you look like you want to kill someone,” a voice rang out.

QiYao looked up and saw Lin Qiong leaning out from QiYao’s office entrance, his head peaking at him with his entire body hiding behind the door.

“Why didn’t you knock?” QiYao said.

“I’m innocent! I’ve been knocking and knocking but I heard nothing. I thought something happened to you.”

“What is it?”

“Let’s go have lunch.” When Qiong felt QiYao retract the serious air that had been bulldozing around the room, he merrily walked right in. He placed his palms on the office desk and leaned down. “Or do you want takeaway? From where?”

“Anything’s fine.” QiYao was feeling hungry before, but he wasn’t in the mood now.

“What is it?” Everyone was on their lunch break now and this morning went quite well. What could possibly make the Chief’s mood turn sour? Qiong was very curious.

“Qiong, don’t drive a black car tomorrow. Have the cars’ A.I. gone for their yearly checks yet?”

“Sure, and of course they have.”

“You have the afternoon off. Go get the car we’ll be using to fetch XiaoYu tomorrow checked again. Send the report to me tonight.”

“Huh?” Qiong didn’t feel any joy at having the afternoon off, rather he found QiYao’s orders weird.

“You would know sooner or later anyway. Come take a look,” QiYao sighed, leaning back on his chair.

“Isn’t this that infamous car accident from last year?” asked Qiong as he glanced at the articles displayed on the screens. The tragic scene of the accident, the street splattered with blood, images of a hospital and a court room, but the majority of the photos were of the same lanky figure.

“This…Is this…Could this be…?” Qiong muttered.

QiYao didn’t reply. He merely nodded.

“How can it be…?” Qiong could never have thought of it. The kind and stiff child they met in the game would have met such a tragedy in reality.

*****

At five in the afternoon, the doorbell to XiaoYu’s home rang.

When the door opened, QiYao was stunned by how homely the apron clad XiaoYu looked. Warmth filled QiYao’s heart. Was this what home felt like?

“The pork still needs to cook for a while longer. You can watch the television while waiting, Yao.”

“Mn.”

QiYao might’ve given an affirmative reply, but he didn’t obediently sit down before the television. Instead, he leaned against the door frame to the kitchen with his arms crossed and silently watch XiaoYu’s busy figure.

“Hm? Aren’t you going to watch the television?”

“No. I’m okay just watching you.”

“…>//<” Alright. XiaoYu still wasn’t used to how upfront QiYao was with his flirting.

“Do you need my help with anything?”

“Hm…help me set the table.”

“Okay.”

It might just be an ordinary part of daily life, but dinner had turned into something so much more interesting with someone by his side.

QiYao didn’t stay that night either. After he confirmed with XiaoYu what luggage he had and thoroughly lay out the schedule for tomorrow’s move, he left. He too had to arrange for XiaoYu’s room in his home.

XiaoYu’s stuff were minimal, just a few personal hygiene supplies and a few sets of clothing. The gaming pod would be moved by professional movers tomorrow. Most of the move was settled. The only thing left was how XiaoYu would handle walking out the door.

****

The next day.

“All ready?” asked QiYao.

The gaming pod had already been picked up. Soon, Qiong had called to inform them he was downstairs. This simple move was finally at the hardest step of all.

“…yes,” XiaoYu hesitantly replied. He just had a breakdown the day before yesterday. It was impossible for him to say he was absolutely over it.

“I’ll take the boxes down first. You do the final checks.” QiYao wasn’t in a hurry to force XiaoYu forward. He gave XiaoYu some time and space to slowly get used to the idea of actually moving out.

“Hm? Where’s Xiao-Yu, Chief?” The assistant of a certain someone moving boxes down the stairs quickly stepped out of the car to help, naturally. Qiong had spent a while in the car steadying himself for the meeting with Xiao-Yu, imagining just how the other would react. In the end, Qiong had yet to spot the shadow of the figure he was hoping to see.

“Give him some time.”

“Oh.” Yesterday, Qiong had roughly understood XiaoYu’s condition. He too knew that psychological issues were hard to resolve. Why else would there be so many different kinds of perverts and insane people running about still? Of course, his cute little brother didn’t belong in that category.

Qiong thought they would have to wait a long while. He didn’t think the real LuckyCat would appear before his eyes barely two minutes after the exchange. He couldn’t help but sigh at that. This kid hadn’t collected himself at all.

XiaoYu wasn’t used to having people waiting for him. This was why he’d arrive at any gatherings early. After QiYao left, he didn’t dawdle at all. He made the final checks on all the switches, taps and valves, took a few deep breaths, and walked out.

It must be said that when XiaoYu stood next to these two over-185-cm-tall men, his height was relegated to the “third-rate useless” category. However, there was a benefit to this. With these two towering guardians, they blocked the car behind them mostly from sight. It’s why XiaoYu’s legs didn’t instantly turn to jelly.

“Big Brother Lin?” While QiYao did tell him I_Am_A_Poor_Man – Lin Qiong in real life – would be driving them today, Lin Qiong looked drastically different to his rather fragile healer avatar. He was dressed in a sharp business suit with his hair slicked and style with not a single strand out of place. The only thing missing was a large sign written all over Qiong’s face stating, “I’m part of the elite”.

“Hey, Xiao-Yu. Can’t recognise your dear brother Lin?”

“Hehe. A little, but now I’m sure about it.” The moment XiaoYu heard that familiar voice, he was 100% sure this man before him was I_Am_A_Poor_Man.

“Give me your bag.” See. This is what they call a talented assistant. When it was time to cut the chatter and just do the work, he would never waste his breath.

“Ah, thanks.”

“Let’s go,” QiYao said. He turned around to head down to the next step when a hand clamped down tight on his arm.

When Qiong took XiaoYu’s bag and turned to the car, the previously blocked car was now halfway revealed. Then, QiYao turned too. Without his two guardians to protect him, even if it was just a parked silver car that had no chance of hurting anyone, XiaoYu’s heart froze and he instinctively held onto QiYao.

QiYao looked back and saw XiaoYu’s eyes stuck on his beloved car. He knew psychological traumas weren’t that easily cured. At least XiaoYu just grabbed his arm with quivering hands instead of collapsing from wobbly legs just like two days ago. As expected, the greatest thing haunting XiaoYu’s mind was a black car. Regrettably, that colour’s very popular with the masses. It seemed like they’ve got some ways to go before XiaoYu could walk on the streets without a care.

“Can you walk?”

“I’ll…try.” Holding onto QiYao was XiaoYu’s last sign of weakness. Someone as stubborn as he wouldn’t ask for help unless he had no other choice. He had to walk out with his own two legs.

XiaoYu slowly moved his right leg forward a few centimetres. His foot was uncontrollably shivering but it was planted solidly on the floor. Then, he slowly shifted his left forward.

In the eyes of someone else, it was just a simple step. To XiaoYu, this was the most important step in him turning around and facing his mental trauma. The few times he left home and saw a car, his feet felt like they were nailed to the ground. They wouldn’t even shuffle. The common ending to those encounters would be his legs giving way and he’d be sitting on the pavement.

The entire journey from the steps to the car was spent in silence. QiYao didn’t even reach out to help support XiaoYu. He just walked beside XiaoYu, but all XiaoYu needed to know was the other man would be by his side. His loved one silently paying attention to him and following beside him were the greatest motivators for him to keep moving. He could even feel a never-ending stream of strength coming from the arm he was grasping.

XiaoYu didn’t know his tiny step shocked QiYao and Qiong to the core. While they knew psychological problems were complicated and hard, but it was one thing to know that and another to see that with their own eyes. Seeing how hard it was to take this tiny step, they now didn’t even dare to think just how XiaoYu survived the past year or so all alone.

XiaoYu gritted his teeth and prepared to take his second step with quivering feet. QiYao nearly couldn’t resist reaching out and embrace him, but he still held it in. He knew that he needed to be a little “cruel” right now. This was the best way to convey his respect to his loved one who was currently doing his best to overcome his own issues.

QiYao and Qiong were both focused on watching XiaoYu. Just then, XiaoYu heard an alarming sound. He looked up and his eyes went wide.

“Look out, Brother Lin!”

A black car was driving past behind Qiong. To be honest, there was nothing dangerous about the entire situation because Qiong was standing by the door on the driver’s side while the black car drove past by the passenger’s side.

Thus, nothing would happen. If an outsider witnessed it, they might be wondering what XiaoYu was babbling about.

However, to XiaoYu, the black car drove by before him and someone he knew was standing very, very close to it. This was his greatest nightmare. He really cannot bear it if someone else was smashed into pieces right before his eyes again.

XiaoYu’s foot had finally descended to the next step, but then all of his courage scattered at this sudden change. Luckily, QiYao had quick reflexes. XiaoYu went from falling to the ground to falling into QiYao’s embrace.

Qiong initially wondered why he would be suddenly spooked by XiaoYu before he quickly realised what happened was an accidental recreation of something extremely horrifying to XiaoYu.

“Don’t be scared, XiaoYu. I’m right by you,” QiYao coaxed, his arms tight around XiaoYu who had been shivering this entire time. He knew what had happened actually made XiaoYu think back to the worst and most cruel memory of his life. He rather regretted this now. Perhaps he shouldn’t have pushed XiaoYu so hard at the start. He should’ve made better and more thorough plans to help XiaoYu.

“I’m fine, Xiao-Yu. See. Your Big Brother Lin is still here.” Qiong once thought that no matter what happened, he could deal with it. But this whole matter made Qiong panic. All he could do was run over to pat XiaoYu.

“I’m sorry…” XiaoYu’s voice was still trembling. He wanted to calm down. He knew Lin Qiong wasn’t in any danger, but he was unable to control his body’s instinctive reaction.

“It’s fine. It’s not your fault,” said QiYao, kissing XiaoYu on the forehead. It was the first time he’d ever realised just how powerless he truly was. He was unable to stop his precious one’s shivers at all.

Through a series of glances, Qiong asked QiYao what they should do next. The latter looked down at the young man in his arms. XiaoYu had done very well today. As for the rest, leave it all to him, XiaoYu’s somewhat unprofessional lover.

“XiaoYu, close your eyes. Relax. Hand everything over to me, okay?” asked QiYao, his hand gently patting XiaoYu on the back.

XiaoYu looked at and saw no impatience in QiYao’s eyes at all, just an endless well of warmth. He quietly closed his eyes and nodded.

QiYao lifted XiaoYu into a bridal carry and gestured for Qiong to open the car door with his eyes. His assistant immediately understood the glance.

Even with his eyes closed, XiaoYu could feel himself being carried over to and into the car. His body stiffened. Fear swelled in him. He tried to tamp it down and while it was a little uncontrollable, it wouldn’t make him panic at least. Because QiYao was by his side this entire time. The other man had stood by the promise he made two days ago that he’d never abandon him. This made him regain some sense of safety and some of the courage that had fled him.

No one said a word on the drive to QiYao’s mansion. Qiong dialled back his usual devil-may-care attitude and solemnly controlled the automated car. He hoped that this might slightly alleviate some of XiaoYu’s fear. As for QiYao’s duty, he was to hold his precious one tight through the entire journey and provide the greatest sense of safety possible to XiaoYu.

Translator’s Note:

Spiralling down in doubt: The literal translation is “drilling horns”. If it was translated as an adjective, it could be translated as “pessimistic”. The slang is usually used as an adjective/action for/of someone who would think about issues from their own past experiences (usually negative) and would overthink on it so much that train of thought would be up until they’ve gotten completely off-topic (based on a petty/trivial/minor point) and are unable to extract themselves from that train of thought.


Previous IndexNext