LC: Chapter 73

73. Snatched Back to Lair

What happened next was not the common scene found in novels, movies or TV shows, that dramatic clichéd scene were the two protagonists would comfort each other to the bed. Because QiYao thought that act would be taking advantage of  XiaoYu, it’d be like robbing someone while their house was on fire, especially since his XiaoYu was still a rather naive kid. He was easily embarrassed by anything regarding emotions or relationships. He needed to be slowly guided to such acts.

“Sorry. I dirtied your shirt.” After a long time, XiaoYu could finally wrestle his emotions back into control. However, he still didn’t dare to look up. His eyes must look like the eyes of a certain long-eared animal right now.

“It’s fine.” QiYao lightly patted the head buried in his embrace. If XiaoYu knew the shirt he’d cried all over on cost a few thousand Earth Dollars, who knew how this stubborn little guy would beat himself over for that.

“I’ll help you wash it.”

“Hehe. XiaoYu, do you plan on making me head out shirtless in a jacket like some middle-aged man?”

“Ugh…”

“You can help me wash it next time.”

“Oh,” XiaoYu dazedly replied. He couldn’t think of any other solutions off the top of his head. He also didn’t realise the question hidden within QiYao’s statement.

“XiaoYu, can I come over tomorrow?”

“Yeah, you can.”

“But I have to head into office during the day. I’ll only be able to come over in the evening. Do you know how to cook red-braised pork?”

“Okay…yes?” XiaoYu found it a little hard to keep up with QiYao’s train of thought. Why were they talking about food all of a sudden? “I know how to cook that,” he said.

“I would to eat red-braised pork cooked by you tomorrow.”

“Okay. Anything else you’d like to eat?”

“Not for now. If anything pops into my mind, I’ll tell you.”

“Okay.”

“XiaoYu, what if you spoil my stomach? What if I can never eat food cooked by anyone else again? What then?”

“Uh…I’m not that amazing. They’re just ordinary home-cooked dishes.”

“The taste of home is more than enough. My parents are always working overseas. It’s been so long since anyone cooked for me.”

“…” Perhaps QiYao was a lonely man too, a voice in XiaoYu whispered.

“Hey, XiaoYu,” QiYao called. A thought suddenly popped up in his mind.

“Hm?”

“Let’s live together.”

“Huh?” XiaoYu didn’t know what to say to that.

“That way we can take care of each other. Or do you mean to say you’d prefer me running back and forth?”

“But…” XiaoYu replied, shaking his head. “I don’t know where we should stay?”

“If it’s possible, I hope you can move over to my place. That’s because I have a lot of documents and references in my study room. I’m just worried you can’t bear to leave here.”

During the afternoon, XiaoYu had shown QiYao around his home. It was a normal apartment with two bedrooms and one living room. In the beginning, QiYao found it slightly curious. The larger room should belong to XiaoYu’s parents, so why did XiaoYu say he lived alone? Everything only clicked after XiaoYu told him about everything that night. That room should be filled with this family’s memories. Even if QiYao moved in, he shouldn’t take that room for himself.

“But I can’t go out.”

“XiaoYu, tell me. Do you want to go out?”

“I do.”

“Then, how about using my visit as an opportunity to try walking outside? I’ll be with you.”

“…okay,” XiaoYu eventually said after a long pause. QiYao said he would never leave him alone. He trusted the other man, but he shouldn’t be selfish and just rely on QiYao, trouble QiYao, while doing nothing himself. If possible, XiaoYu wanted to walk out and bathe in real sunlight. He wanted to walk hand-in-hand with QiYao through all the cities of the world, just like in AO.

“That’s settled it then. Let’s use these few days to pack up and clean this place up.”

“Mn.”

“XiaoYu,” QiYao said, pulling back slightly from XiaoYu. His hands rose and rested on XiaoYu’s cheeks, enveloping those jaws with warmth. His heart ached at the sight of XiaoYu’s red eyes. He leaned down and gently kissed the other man. “Trust in me. I’ll help you overcome this trauma.”

“I trust you.”

“Well, I’ll be heading back home. Rest well. We’ll start packing up tomorrow.”

“Okay.”

When QiYao picked up his jacket and starting to put it on, XiaoYu suddenly felt like he didn’t want the other man to go. He’ll admit it. He had completely fallen for QiYao. He loved QiYao. He wanted to cook QiYao’s favourite dishes for him. He wanted to do his best to overcome the mental issues within him for QiYao. He wanted to always be with QiYao. This was probably what they called love.

“What is it, XiaoYu? Can’t bear to see me go?” QiYao teased upon seeing XiaoYu staring blankly at him.

“Mn,” XiaoYu unwittingly replied with a nod. Then, he immediately realised he had accidentally shown what he was thinking. He panicked. His eyes shifted around, not knowing what they should be looking at instead.

How could his XiaoYu be so cute? QiYao shouted internally. This was against the rules!

“Open your mouth,” QiYao said.

“Hm? Mmgh…” Before XiaoYu could react, he was kissed once more. Right before his instinct made his lips purse together, something soft broke through his defences and started pillaging.

Tongues twisted and danced together. XiaoYu had never experienced a kiss such as this before. Wave after wave of spine-chilling tremors tingled through him. He anxiously clutched tight at the front of QiYao’s jacket, terrified that his weak legs would crumble and slide.

“Huff. Huff. Huff…” Finally, QiYao let XiaoYu go. The latter began to gasp and pant, fervently replenishing his oxygen supply.

“Silly boy. Next time, remember to breathe with your nose,” QiYao said, patting XiaoYu on the back to help the other calm down. QiYao’s desire to get this natural ditz back to his own lair as quickly as possible grew stronger.

“I’m fine now, Yao. Head back and rest up early. You still have work tomorrow.”

“Will you be lonely? Are you sure you don’t need me to stay?”

“It’s fine. I’m not a kid anymore.”

“You say you’re not a kid, yet you clearly couldn’t bear to part with me,” QiYao said, his finger lightly tapping the tip of XiaoYu’s nose.

“Hehe…” XiaoYu chuckled, shyly ducking his head.

“But, that’s fine. We’ll soon be able to live together.”

“Mn.”

XiaoYu walked with QiYao down to the apartment block gates. Thankfully, no car passed by this time. Otherwise, the “tragedy” from that afternoon would be repeated.

“Drive safely, Yao.”

“Okay,” said QiYao, giving XiaoYu a goodbye kiss on the forehead. Then, a mischievous thought struck him. He leaned down to XiaoYu’s ear and continue, “XiaoYu, remember to leave your mouth open for our future kisses, just like back then.”

“Aah…!” >////<

****

When QiYao reached home, it was nearly XiaoYu’s bedtime. So, he just called the other to tell XiaoYu he was safely home. Then, he called his talented assistant.

“Well, Chief?” Qiong Lin near-shouted into the phone. His eyes had nearly transformed into a pair of blinking stars at the sight of QiYao. He’d been praying and wishing the whole day for this call.

“…I didn’t ask about the gathering.” QiYao had forgotten about this whole matter. He only just remembered he was supposed to ask XiaoYu about it.

“Ugh! Then do you know why Xiao-Yu can’t come?”

“Hm…” QiYao could recall the pain and bitterness he could feel from XiaoYu as he described everything in a seemingly nonchalant tone.

“It really is because of some bad news.” QiYao’s serious face clued the smart Qiong in on how tragic the story hiding behind this whole matter would be.

“Yes. Either way, I’ll be heading back to XiaoYu’s home tomorrow. I’ve already convinced him to move in with me in a few days.”

“…! Chief, that’s godlike speed!” The first time Chief visited, he immediately snatched the other up and even have the other tied up with a bow, waiting to be taken back home. This was definitely not something just anybody can do.

“Qiong, I might not be able to drive on that day. You’ll need to come fetch us.”

“Okay, no problem.” He could even meet up with XiaoYu in real life.

“No matter what you see then, I hope you won’t ask XiaoYu about it too much,” QiYao solemnly said to his best friend across the internet.

“I got it.” Qiong could sense that, perhaps, he wasn’t far from the truth.

Translator’s Note:

Red-braised pork: Also called Shanghai-style braised pork. A name that’s more accurate: caramelised braised pork. Lightly boiled, seared then braised in diluted caramel. Usual seasoning used are garlic, star anise and maybe Sichuan peppers.


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LC: Chapter 72

72. Trauma

QiYao didn’t head back into the kitchen to bother XiaoYu after the kiss. He knew continuing would lead to no dinner.

XiaoYu could now cook in peace but he tended to think a lot when alone with no distractions. Thus, as he slowly chopped up his vegetables, his mind turned back to the question he was pondering earlier today.

He thought he could use these four days of living in reality, away from the warmth he found in the game, to properly consider whether he should continue this relationship with QiYao. However, QiYao’s sudden arrival turned that plan on its head. The man brought the cosiness from the virtual world to real life.

All of this made XiaoYu’s mind lean more towards continue dating QiYao, but he understood deep down that the greatest obstacle in this path was his secret. Even if QiYao said he wouldn’t force him to spill,  if the circumstances were turned around and QiYao was obviously keeping a secret from him, he would feel rather uncomfortable dating the man, maybe even be upset with QiYao.

But XiaoYu had experienced being bombarded and swarmed by well-meaning media before. He knew that peeling away the scab would only hurt him. He reminded himself over and over back then. Don’t ever say anything to anyone about it. Tell no one.

That was why there was a tiny voice in him that kept telling him to “not tell QiYao about it”. Now, however, now he had an urge to tell QiYao about it all. He wanted this relationship to be transparent. He just didn’t know when to speak up or how.

Perhaps his hesitation made him miss a good chance to open up time and again. He hated being so weak, so he made up his mind. He won’t be lost in the fog anymore. He’ll find a chance to tell QiYao about everything.

Having made his decision, XiaoYu focused on the blade in his hand. He actually didn’t cut himself at all after all that thinking. Amazing.

***

Three ordinary home-cooked dishes with a bowl of soup. While they didn’t look as grand or exquisite as something cooked from a professional kitchen, the homely scent topped all other food.

QiYao placed a slice of tomato omelette and placed it in his mouth, slowly savouring its flavours. He then looked up to find XiaoYu standing to a side, nervously staring down at him.

“It’s delicious, XiaoYu.”

“Phew. That’s good,” XiaoYu said in relief. He tried hard to remember just how much salt and sugar he should put in, but everyone had different preferences. Since QiYao can accept this, that meant it was a success.

“Don’t just stand there. Come eat with me.”

“Mn.”

The meal was spent in silence, but both men were equally moved by it. It had been so long since any of them had a meal with someone at home. XiaoYu knew it had been over a year for him. As for QiYao, he couldn’t remember.

Ever since he moved out of his home, he would regularly eat out with his friends or get takeaway. Even before when he lived with his brother, the two of them rarely ever cooked themselves. They would either eat meals made by a hired cook or order takeaway. Meals were just a way for them to replenish their energy. Occasions where a loved one would cook for them were near improbable.

After this meal, QiYao wanted to treasure this kid even more. XiaoYu had brought too much light to his life for XiaoYu to be gone ever.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

***

Clean up after their dinner was much simpler. XiaoYu just had to put everything in the dishwasher. The machine will automatically clean them. When XiaoYu confirmed the dishwasher had started its cycle without issues, he stood up and looked over to the living room where QiYao was watching the television once more. However, the only shows to be found after dinner were boring and repetitive variety shows. The man hopped from one channel to another then to another and another.

Was this a good chance for a talk? XiaoYu wasn’t sure, but he had finally mustered up the courage to speak. Who knew when the next time he’d have the strength to open up would be?

“Yao…” XiaoYu said as he walked over to QiYao, successfully attracting the other man’s attention.

“Yes?” QiYao asked with a questioning gaze.

“I’ve something to tell you.”

QiYao’s hand on the remote control paused. He sensed that what came next would be important.

“I’ve thought about this a lot. I have to tell you. That way, you can properly evaluate whether you want to continue this relationship with me,” said XiaoYu. His heart ached at the last sentence. His hands instinctively twisted and squeezed the bottom of his shirt. He was afraid. Afraid QiYao would think he was a cowardly idiot. Afraid QiYao would take back what he said. But he didn’t want a paper wall to stand between them anymore.

XiaoYu’s fidgeting betrayed his insecurity. It made QiYao’s heart hurt. He turned off the television and stood up. Then, he pulled XiaoYu into a tight embrace. He hoped his actions could give the other man strength.

XiaoYu hands curled around QiYao’s back. He loved this warm and cosy hug that always made him feel safe. It’s also because of this hug that he hoped he could be found worthy of it.

“I…I’ve never told this to anyone before. It might be a messy story.”

“It’s okay.” QiYao gently kissed the uneasy head in his arms. He knew what he needed to do now was to listen.

XiaoYu took in a deep breath. He arranged the messy thoughts in his mind before deciding to just start from the reason.

“I’m afraid of the cars outside.”

That was way out of QiYao’s expectation. Still, he kept quiet and continued listening.

“My parents died in a car crash caused by a car going out of control…” The thought still brought pain to XiaoYu, even to this day. “It happened right…before my eyes.”

“From then on, whenever I see a car, my legs would start shaking. They would go limp. This afternoon, I wanted to try walking outside, but a few minutes before you arrived, a black car passed by. I immediately collapsed. No matter what I did, I couldn’t stand up. I know there’s nothing wrong with my legs, but I just can’t push past the fear.”

XiaoYu understood just a few sentences could describe his issue, but the pain and suffering behind it all was something no words could explain. How could anyone who hadn’t personally experienced it understand how he felt? This thought was what made him keep quiet and bear it all.

XiaoYu inhaled and continued, “I’m sorry, Yao. I didn’t mean to keep refusing your invitations, but I certainly can’t go out like this.”

“Silly billy, you don’t have to keep apologising. I never once blamed you, right? Because I knew you had to have a reason for it.” Only, not even QiYao could’ve imagined just why.

QiYao had considered many possibilities. It could be family issues or physical limitations. The only option he never thought of was a mental trauma. That’s because there were plenty of methods of dealing with the previous two options. Even if XiaoYu was terminally ill, with how advanced the medical field was these days, all “fatal illnesses” could be cured if you had the cash for it.

On the other hand, psychology was still a very much mysterious and unexplored field. The development of mental traumas, their symptoms and the way to treat them were all heavily dependent on the patient and the doctor. It was very hard to have a 100% definite resolution.

“T-Then…will you…be willing to keep dating me?” XiaoYu stammered. He was terrified of hearing “no”.

When QiYao heard XiaoYu’s voice trembling, his arms tightened around further. He really wanted to just put this little idiot in his pouch so they could be together at all times.

“XiaoYu, do I make you that insecure?” QiYao asked.

“No,” XiaoYu replied, shaking his head. “I just felt you wouldn’t be the time to like cowards.”

“You’re right. I don’t like cowards.” When QiYao felt the body in his arms stiffen up, he continued, “But I have never ever felt you were a coward, XiaoYu. On the contrary, I think you’re a very strong man.”

“But…I don’t even dare to step out of my own home.”

“It’s not that you don’t have the courage to. You tried this afternoon, didn’t you?” Now that QiYao knew the reason behind that, he planned on using his own way of slowly leading XiaoYu to getting around the issue. “XiaoYu, you just can’t go out alone because no one can help you up when you fall. But you don’t have to worry now. With me by your side, I would never leave you alone.”

“Never…leave me alone?” XiaoYu dazedly repeated.

QiYao couldn’t have imagined just how big of an impact those words had on XiaoYu. All the pain, loneliness and helplessness XiaoYu had felt since his parents’ deaths all surged up at once. He had clearly told himself that men can’t cry, but his tears kept flowing like water rushing out of a dam. It was an uncontrollable and endless torrent.

“Yes, XiaoYu. You’re not alone anymore because we will always be together.” QiYao was going to continue saying how he’d help XiaoYu overcome his trauma, but he could feel his shirt getting wet. And so, he swallowed those words back to give XiaoYu some time to let loose.

QiYao didn’t think it was shameful for men to cry, especially when he knew XiaoYu had been suppressing his emotions for a very long time. Releasing those emotions might be helpful to the other’s mental health.

Translator’s Notes:

  1. Tomato Omelette: Technically, tomato fried egg. More accurate translation, scrambled eggs with tomato. Actual texture, omelette cooked with tomatoes diced/sliced and mixed in. One of the most common dishes in a Chinese home (Asian? Not too sure on other cultures). This is usually one of the first dishes one learns because it’s easy and nutritious. There’s not much skill to it as it’s just premix everything in a bowl and when it’s being cooked on the wok/pan, just move it around so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Depending on the chef, it’ll either come out looking like an omelette or scrambled eggs.
  2. Kid: It’s seriously hard to not make XiaoYu sound like some minor. “Kid” and “child” are used so often by others that it’s hard to remember he’s actually an adult. Losing original writing tone + adding own words vs making sure nothing illegal happens = struggle some BL translators have to deal with.
  3. Embrace: The number of hugs there are in the recent chapters have seriously challenged the limits of how many ways I can phrase a hug taking place. Still, hugging is good, guys. Just not now or whenever you’re sick. Use elbow bumps, the dorky equivalent that’s been constantly advertised in conventions.


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LC: Chapter 71

71. Kiss…

“XiaoYu, do you live alone?” QiYao asked. When they were done kissing, he’d locked XiaoYu, who was about to go up in smokes from embarrassment, in his arms for a session of gentle soothing.

“Yes.”

“You cook?”

“A little.”

“I want to try out your cooking, if there’s a chance. Can I?”

“Sure. What do you like?”

“Anything’s fine. I’m not picky.”

“Oh.”

“Do you have anything on tonight?”

“Hm? No.”

“There’s a restaurant nearby with great reviews. Have you been there before? Interested?” While QiYao knew XiaoYu might not like talking about going out, he still asked. Now that his relationship with XiaoYu was confirmed, he wanted to at least know why the other was running away from reality. If it was possible, he hoped to help XiaoYu walk out of this stage of his life.

“…I can’t go out,” XiaoYu dejectedly reply. “I’m sorry,” he added.

Just as QiYao thought.

He raised XiaoYu’s head up. Their eyes met. XiaoYu couldn’t see an ounce of dissatisfaction in his eyes at the refusal. That handsome face was still soft with kindness.

“XiaoYu, I really do want to know why.” QiYao paused. XiaoYu was visibly troubled by his words. The other’s eyes kept avoiding his. “But,” he continued, “I like you. So I won’t force you to do anything you don’t like.”

“Thank you,” XiaoYu replied.

“Do you remember what I said? If there’s anything you need to vent about, you can come to me.”

“Mn.” XiaoYu still remembered how grateful he was at the offer.

“The offer still stands, but now I hope you can look at me first for support. Otherwise, I must be a failure as a boyfriend.”

“Hehe. Okay.” XiaoYu let out a laugh at the QiYao’s doe eyes and cutesy tone.

“But now I don’t have any dinner. How do you plan to compensate me, XiaoYu?” If anyone else saw QiYao acting so entitled, they would definitely pinch themselves to make sure they weren’t dreaming. However, QiYao himself didn’t seem to realise that. He just exposed his childish side to the one he loved without any care.

“Then…I’ll cook for you?”

“Mn. I look forward to it.” No day was better than today. QiYao really wanted to taste XiaoYu’s cooking. It must be known that there were so few people these days who knew how to cook.

“I haven’t cooked in a while though. It might taste a little weird.” The noodles XiaoYu had cooked up this morning was so salty he had to down a few glasses of water straight after. It seemed like his days spent in AO had affected his reality.

“It’s fine. If I end up with food poisoning, you’ll just have to take care of me for the rest of our lives.” XiaoYu’s strait-laced and honest personality always made the prankster in QiYao perk up.

“Um…” Why does that feel a little, just a little bit, unreasonable? XiaoYu slightly pursed his lips.

 “Hehe. Your cooking won’t be that bad.” Still, QiYao wasn’t joking about being with XiaoYu for the rest of their lives. “But, XiaoYu, what I mean is I want to be with you forever. Don’t ever lightly take back the chance you gave me, please?”

“Yes.” While QiYao loved pranking and teasing him, there were so many more things QiYao had done, had said, that moved him much more. Perhaps that was why XiaoYu decided to try dating QiYao. Now, he had fallen prey to the same emotions QiYao did.

XiaoYu hugged QiYao. He wanted them to go on like this forever too. Day after day, he understood more of what it meant to love someone.

****

Thonk. Thonk. Thonk. Thonk…

An apron thrown over his clothes, XiaoYu was busy fluttering about in the kitchen.

QiYao was watching the television in the living room all alone, but his mind wasn’t on the screen. He’d occasionally turn around to look at XiaoYu cooking. A sticky-sweet feeling of happiness swelled in him at the sight. Maybe the love he was looking for wasn’t the romantic and passionate kind. Maybe what he wanted was this type of tranquil and cosy slice-of-life love.

“Ah,” XiaoYu exclaimed. All his attention had been on the vegetables he was rinsing. Out of the blue, a warm body leaned against his back. A pair of strong arms wrapped around his waist.

“Did I frighten you?” The prankster didn’t sound remorseful at all. In fact, there was an underlying hint of devilish joy in the question.

“I’m okay. What is it, Yao?” XiaoYu curiously asked. The other man should be occupied with the television. Why did he run in here all of a sudden?

“Nothing much. This just feels like we were just newly-wedded,” QiYao replied as he placed his chin on XiaoYu’s shoulder, his arms clenching tighter around the man in his arms. No one else in the world could understand how satisfied and content he felt right then.

Splash!

The vegetables XiaoYu was holding fell into the rinsing basin. Blood could be visibly seen swiftly rising up from his neck and spreading across his face. W-What did Yao say? Why did the other man think of newly-weds?

QiYao let out a sigh in his mind. His XiaoYu was just too shy. At the same time, he was thankful that such an innocent child was his. He’ll have to thank XiaoYu’s parents for keeping his beloved so well protected.

“Um…Yao…?” XiaoYu was shaken out of his thoughts by the sound of water rushing into and overflowing out of the wash basin. He stared down at the water flowing down the drain as he remembered something important.

“Hm?”

“I can’t cook now. =.=” This time, it was XiaoYu who had to resort to a childlike tone. He hadn’t finished rinsing these vegetables yet and he hadn’t cut those he had just finished washing. He still had to heat up the wok with oil…But there was now a large dog slumped on him. He couldn’t move at all.

“Hehe. Then, kiss me.”

XiaoYu was rendered speechless by that. He suddenly felt like questioning the other man. Was he really Hei QiYao? Why was he so different to his in-game behaviour? Why was he constantly acting like a kid now? Wait, no. Recently, whenever the two of them were alone, QiYao would act like this too. Was this his true nature?

He obediently turned his head around to kiss QiYao on the cheek, but the man moved at the last minute and the kiss landed on the other’s lips. Shocked, XiaoYu was about to move away when he found a hand pressed against the back of his head. There was no way he was escaping this kiss.

XiaoYu was still used to kissing with closed lips, but this kiss felt different. QiYao was constantly nipping and licking at his lips. A numbing chill ran down his spine. His legs might not hold him.

“XiaoYu, remember to open your mouth next time we kiss,” QiYao said, a finger tapping at his own lips. Then, he happily strolled out of the kitchen and back to the television, leaving behind XiaoYu who was still feeling confused over the strange feeling he felt and what QiYao said.

Translator’s Notes:

1. Doe eyes/Cutesy tone: These were supposed to be “innocent” eyes and tone, but that doesn’t translate well. This is my best attempt at translating what the “innocent” refers to, aka the eyes and voice used by cute little “innocent” kids/pretending to be “innocent”.

2. Entitled: Technically, the translation is an adjective for “blaming someone else out of laziness/non-virtuous reason”. A negative adjective usually used for sleezy bums and entitled people (seen as positive at times because it’s “cute” like a kid throwing a tantrum/being stubborn on wanting the thing).

3. Rinsing basin: Some readers might not get what it is, so I’ve placed an image here to properly draw out what this is. Commercially called a wash basin, it’s usually made of plastic and are used to “wash” vegetables free of the dirt hiding in between stalks. Some readers might think it’s a strainer, but it’s not. It usually doesn’t have holes. If it does, it’ll come with an option to keep the water in/block the holes. This method saves more water as the tap doesn’t have to be kept running. Some people also think it’s better for the vegetables as running water bombarding the vegetables throughout the process might ruin/wilt the vegetables. Obviously, XiaoYu here is not part of that group of people.

Side note: The plastic wash basin is also the kind used in bathrooms. If you ever watched an anime where the characters live in a dorm with shared bathrooms, you’ll see them holding their bathing stuff in one of these basins.


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LC: Chapter 70

70. Blackie Arrives

QiYao stared down at his phone in confusion. No one was answering XiaoYu’s phone. Did he remember the wrong number?

His flashy blue sports car was stopped before he could even enter the residential area. The security guards told him to park at the automated underground carpark on the other side of the road. No outside cars were allowed within the area unless they’d been given special permission. While he thought that rule was rather nonsensical, QiYao was too lazy to argue with them. He turned his car around and parked at the building he’d been pointed to.

When the security guards saw QiYao driving his flashy car away, they all let out a huge sigh of relief. It was their freaking first time seeing such a high-class car. If anything happened to it within the area, a tiny scratch or whatever, not even all of their salaries combined would be enough to pay for the damage! It was safer to shoo the car away.

With the small cake in hand, QiYao walked back over and into the area XiaoYu lived in. He dug his phone out from his pockets. He was going to call the other and inform XiaoYu he had arrived, but he never thought the phone would be left ringing non-stop. QiYao was very confident in his memory, so he merely thought XiaoYu was too busy to answer at the moment.

QiYao slipped his phone back into his pocket and followed the road signs to the apartment block XiaoYu lived in. Along the way, he observed the residential area and its conditions – slightly old-schooled but very clean and quiet. After this turn, he should arrive at XiaoYu’s place.

Far off in the distance, QiYao could see someone crouched down before the apartment block’s metal gate. He couldn’t tell what they looked like as their head hung low. As he walked closer and closer, something about that figure felt familiar. Then, he realised the person wasn’t squatting like he thought, they were kneeling on the ground with their hands flat against the pavement. It was as if they wanted to stand up but couldn’t.

“Xiao…Yu?” QiYao tentatively called out as he came to a stop before the figure. The tiny bit of the other’s face that QiYao could see looked very much like XiaoYu.

The person’s head jolted up to look at QiYao. It really was XiaoYu. That cat-like face looked exactly like his avatar in-game.

XiaoYu could instantly tell this tall stranger was QiYao. While the other’s face was slightly different from his avatar’s, it was clear QiYao had just adjusted his facial stats until he looked a bit more average. In real life, QiYao’s features were much more distinct. He looked so much more handsome and perfect. Not only would women swoon at the sight of that face, but even men would be attracted to it.

QiYao was already here. The other had just witnessed XiaoYu at one of his lowest moments. XiaoYu panicked even harder. He tried standing up once more, but his useless legs had yet to regain their strength. A slight shift to the side and XiaoYu was slipping down with gravity once more.

Fortunately, QiYao reacted in time. The other stretched out an arm to catch the falling XiaoYu, preventing him from kissing the floor again.

“I’m sorry. I can’t stand right now.” XiaoYu gave up. The other man had seen everything.

“It’s fine. Hold this.” QiYao handed the bag he was holding to XiaoYu.

“Whoa!” The moment XiaoYu accepted the object being handed over, the world spun before his eyes. Instinctively, he threw his arms around QiYao.

By the time XiaoYu realised what had gone on, that QiYao merely lifted him up into a carry, his arms were locked tight around QiYao’s neck.

“Hehe. Be careful of the cake, XiaoYu.” It came from the best bakery in the city. QiYao specifically detoured over to buy one prior to arriving at XiaoYu’s place. Of course, it was a very expensive cake. The thought put behind the recipe and the quality of its ingredients ensured that. Everyone was in a love-hate relationship with the bakery because of that.

Out of habit, QiYao pecked the stunned XiaoYu on the lips. No hesitation or strange unfamiliarity born from them being in reality now. As for XiaoYu, his whole face and neck flushed red from that small peck. It felt so much more real. He could feel a tiny spark course through his whole body. The numbing sensation born from the act made XiaoYu shrink a little in embarrassment. He should just bury his face in QiYao’s chest like a shy tortoise.

“XiaoYu, if you don’t open the door, I can’t head in,” QiYao coaxed with a smile on his face at XiaoYu’s tiny act of embarrassment. After much teasing, XiaoYu had finally stopped turning into a tomato at the slightest hint of affection. QiYao didn’t think he’d be able to witness that cute XiaoYu again in real life.

It was only at QiYao’s words did XiaoYu remember they were both still standing right by the street in broad daylight. While he didn’t interact with his neighbours much, it would be awkward if anyone saw them. XiaoYu hurriedly poke  his head back out and pressed in the code to the door.

Past the gate and threshold laid XiaoYu’s living room.

“Thank you, Yao. You can put me down now.” The sight of his living room filled XiaoYu with a renewed sense of security.  His limp legs quickly recovered their energy.

“Are you sure you’re fine?”

“Mn.”

QiYao slowly lowered XiaoYu down on the floor. He only let go when he confirmed with his own eyes XiaoYu’s legs were firmly placed on the floor.

“Sit down, Yao. I’ll go make some tea.” XiaoYu pulled QiYao over to the sofa before heading into the kitchen with the cake.

The living room was rather roomy, and it wasn’t as messy as XiaoYu said. The knick-knacks on the coffee table had been tidied up. There were only two soft and fluffy pillows on the sofa.

QiYao sat down and watch as XiaoYu flitted around the kitchen. Suspicion flashed through his eyes. He thought he sort of knew why XiaoYu can’t go out. It was because he had some mobility issues. But from how XiaoYu was walking about at ease now, that hypothesis turned out wrong.

Soon, XiaoYu was walking back with two plates of cake and two cups of tea.

“I only have pre-packed red tea. Is that okay?”

“Yes.” QiYao pulled XiaoYu down by his side. “XiaoYu, did you twist your ankle on the way down? Were you hurt?”

“I’m fine.”

“Hm? Then, did you get a leg cramp?”

“No…It’s nothing now.” XiaoYu didn’t know how to tell QiYao about his problem. He can’t start talking about the cruel reality of his life from the first meeting.

QiYao stopped pressing when he saw XiaoYu finding it difficult to talk about his legs. However, perhaps his initial guess wasn’t completely wrong.

“As long as you’re fine now. You look exactly like your avatar, XiaoYu. You really didn’t tweak anything,” QiYao said, changing the topic. He found it weird the last time he heard XiaoYu talk to his old classmate. In this day and age, someone would actually jump into a VR game without tweaking their avatars? Impossible. But it seems like such a “lazy” child really did exist and that child was right before his eyes.

“Yeah. Lazy.” XiaoYu didn’t beat around the bush at all.

“Hehe. Then, can you recognise me?”

“Yeah. You…tweaked them down?” QiYao’s face was different, but not to the point of unrecognisable. Things like a person’s air, how they held themselves, these weren’t something mere coding could change. Thus, XiaoYu could tell this man was Hei QiYao at first glance.

“Yup, it’d be troublesome otherwise.” Even when QiYao’s face was tweaked lower to the average man’s face, he still attracted quite a lot of troublesome attentions. “XiaoYu, can I take that as a compliment?”

“Yes.” QiYao in real life was certainly much more handsome than his virtual counterpart.

“Then…are you attracted to me?”

“…>//< Yes,” XiaoYu shyly answered. It was such a direct question. Still, he replied honestly.

“Hehe. Let me give the sincere child his reward then,” QiYao said as he leaned down and kissing XiaoYu’s lips.

The afternoon rays gently bathed the kissing couple in tranquil warmth, creating a most magnificent sight to behold.

Translator’s Note:

Due to personal life stuff, I’ll be moving the approximate time for updates to Monday instead of Fridays. If this works, a proper update schedule will be in place.


Previous IndexNext

LC: Chapter 69

69. Failed Attempt

Warning: Mild graphic/gore description. Avoid if you have an overactive imagination.

XiaoYu woke up at 6. Last night, he only had time for a rushed shower before he collapsed into his bed. He had yet to take a good look at his house’s condition. He planned to wake up early to buy some food online – he was going to have to cook for the next few days – before tidying up the place.

While XiaoYu was buzzing around like a busy bee in his little home, QiYao was on a video call with Lin Qiong in his home.

“The estimated number of attending members this gathering is over a thousand, Chief. We’ll have to book out a field.” It was the first time Qiong disliked just how many people were in the guild, especially the kind that liked to party and gossip. Totalling up the number of people attending took up half the night. He had to go with minimal sleep again.

“Okay. You have full control over this.”

“Is Xiao-Yu coming?”

“No,” QiYao replied, shaking his head. He felt a little helpless.

“Can’t get the reason out of him?” When Qiong later found out Chief had gone after XiaoYu, he didn’t moan as much about having the job thrown at him again. The last time they tested the waters, they knew he can’t leave his house. They didn’t know why, so he thought that it’d be okay as long as Chief dealt with it personally. He didn’t expect it to not work too.

“I didn’t want to push him into a corner. I do plan on going to his place today. Perhaps I can find out why.”

“You’re amazing, Chief. You know his address already?”

“Yes.”

“I want to go too…”

“Hm?”

“Tee-hee. Just joking. I don’t want to be a third-wheel.” Qiong was the best at reading his boss’s emotions. A single hum with a slight upward tone meant QiYao was asking him, “Are you sure you want to go?”. With how smart Qiong was, of course he quickly backtracked.

“Let me know once you’ve planned out the gathering,” QiYao said as he glanced at the time. It was about time he should be getting ready to leave. He still had to buy some snacks as a visiting gift. He can’t just arrive empty-handed.

“Okay. It’ll probably be in the next two days. I’ll go contact the venue first. You must persuade Xiao-Yu to come, Chief.”

*****

As Hei QiYao was solemnly selecting a cake at the bakery, XiaoYu was spacing out on the couch. He was finally done cleaning up the house. Thank goodness for modern technology. Even after a month of staying online didn’t result in a layer of dust so thick one could draw on. With various high-tech cleaning equipment, XiaoYu’s home was soon squeaky clean.

However, humans always liked to assume and brood when there’s nothing to do. XiaoYu leaned back on the couch. He stared up at the bright white ceiling and imagined what would happen when QiYao arrived at his house later that day.

Would QiYao look different to his avatar? Would he be curious as to why XiaoYu can’t leave his home? Would he be disappointed at how average and useless XiaoYu was?

The more XiaoYu thought about it, the more depressed he became. He flung his head in a shake, attempting to throw out his pessimistic thoughts. He couldn’t help but feel annoyed and exhausted at how weak he was. How nice it would be if he could just walk out the door and not be terrified of the cars speeding by.

Just how long has it been since he last left the house? It seemed to be over six months ago. Back then, he couldn’t even take one step after seeing a car. He just sat on the ground, petrified, until a kind stranger helped him back.

At that thought, an idea popped into XiaoYu’s head. They said time was the best anaesthesia. It has been a long time since the accident. Would his phobia of cars be better now?

He really wanted to give it a try. Yes, he’ll try it out. Rather than wallow in his self-pity like a spiteful old wife, why not try going out? He’s a man too, not some helpless damsel.

The hand curled around the door handle hesitated. He gathered his strength, took a deep breath and slowly opened the front door to his home. The walk down the stairs felt unusually long and tortuous. However, he steadily walked, step by step, towards the outside world.

The final obstacle between XiaoYu and the world was the metal gate downstairs. He just needed to key in the pin code to leave. He entered a string of numbers he knew as well as the back of his hand. A beep and the gate swung open by itself, revealing the world beyond his house.

It was very peaceful outside. This was the inside of a guarded residential area. There weren’t many people walking about at this time either. XiaoYu tried taking a step out. No problems. His legs didn’t turn into jelly.

As XiaoYu tried to walk down the three steps going from his door to the pavement, a black smart car drove past his eyes. XiaoYu felt like he had been struck by lightning. He couldn’t move at all.

He stood there for over a minute. In that one minute, the scene he’d witnessed over a year ago flashed before his eyes. To celebrate XiaoYu’s admission to University of C, the entire family planned a trip out to buy a gaming bed. The light turned green. XiaoYu impatiently rushed across. He turned around, about to wave for his parents to hurry up, and, from the corner of his eye, saw a black car suddenly swirl out of control. The two adults were sent flying. The car’s navigation software couldn’t react to the incident in time. It kept going. Hitting the bodies again and again. Crashing into them time after time. XiaoYu could only stood there in shock and watch. It only took a few seconds. When everything ended, his parents’ corpses were shredded and strewn all over the street.

 When the memory faded away from his mind, XiaoYu couldn’t take another step onto the street. His legs collapsed under him and he fell to his knees. His hands pressed down hard at his quivering legs. He bit down at his lips. He still can’t do it. When faced with a car, especially a black car, he can’t take a single step anywhere. He can’t even stay standing.

But XiaoYu still tried. He tried to stand up because QiYao was going to be here soon. He didn’t want the other man to see him in such a horrid state. However, no matter how hard he tried, his legs refused to obey him. They felt like they didn’t belong to him. He can’t push any strength through them. He tried to climb up and fell, and up and down, and up and down. He kept going at it until XiaoYu finally gave up struggling with a big bang at the floor with his fist. His useless legs weren’t going to recover anytime soon. All he could do was pray that QiYao would be late. Just a few more minutes late.


Previous IndexNext

LC: Chapter 68

68. I Want to See You

This week’s Guild Wars was mainly focused on the last fortress to be conquered – Serica-3. This was the only fortress left which hadn’t been conquered before. The other 19 fortresses all belonged to one guild or another by now.

It didn’t mean the monster guards were hard to defeat. Instead, it’s because of the fortress’s complicated landscape. There were even traps around every corner. Everyone hated it.

However, none of this concerned the Heretic Demons. Their target for the day was conquering a third city. It didn’t matter if it was a 1, 2 or 4, as long as they fulfil the requirement for a real-life gathering. Once that was done, they’ll go bother the I Die For Riches guild. Either way one worded things, the Heretic Demons had locked their sights on this rich, money-hungry guild.

Today, XiaoYu felt like more people was going through his portals than before. Most of them were female players. He didn’t know that because he got distracted and stared at the pretty ladies, but those women, those girls, their burning gazes boring into him were hard to ignore.

This was all the fault of the leading couple being so into themselves that they’ve ignored just how eye-catching they were. Hand in hand, they’d roamed all over Prole and its nearby towns. Any observant guild member would find it hard to miss them. Then, they heard through the gossip vine that this suspected “wife” of their leader was actually one of the “airport” pilots from a subsidiary guild. How can they not take this one opportunity to sneak a few peeks at him?

Of course, not all of these gawkers were part of the special fu—group. Some were stared at XiaoYu with envy and jealousy. They called themselves the “guards” of QiYao. Players of all sorts walked through his portals, men and women alike. Wave after wave, the curious and analysing glances made XiaoYu wonder if there was something strange stuck on his face.

In spite of everything, no one actively stepped up to gossip and ask him anything. It was event time. If they were caught slacking, they’d be punished. The Heretic Demons didn’t have any extremist members who were that unruly. They’d have been kicked out way earlier.

Ignoring all these trivial changes, there were a few major outcomes to this Guild Wars.

One, the Wolf Clan finally took down Serica-3. Based on the rewards announced, it was actually on the same difficulty as Prole-3. This made everyone cry out at how unfair this prankster of a game was. What fortress would have traps set all over the place from the start?

Two, due to all fortresses being conquered, a long server maintenance was announced. As most players were currently in the midst of battle, the server would only be down for 4 days from Sunday 6 a.m. to Thursday 6 a.m. All players were asked to finish up their business tonight and log off before then.

Three, the subsidiary guild Egg_Tart was in charge of, Suicide Squad, was able to snatch back Prole-4 with the help of the second subsidiary guild of the Heretic Demons, the Heretic Demons Guards. They were able to hold onto their newly acquired fortress to the last second. Now that they had the help of another subsidiary guild, the tanky Knights from I Die For Riches guild were all slaughtered before they even had a chance to use their special items. Along with Prole-3 and Prole-5, they now had three fortresses. That meant…they’ll be having a real-life gathering!

Not a single Heretic Demons guild member cared about some server maintenance announcement. They were all huddled together and chattering nonstop about their upcoming meet-up. The server would be down for quite a while this time. It left just enough time for their real-life event. Hence, everyone rambled on as they waited for the higher-ups to make the final decision.

XiaoYu looked around at the crowd drunk with joy. All of a sudden, he felt as if he didn’t quite fit in. Truly, no matter what the meet-up in real life would be like, it all had nothing to do with him. While he wanted to meet those he fought alongside in the game, especially Big Brother Lin and QiYao who had been so nice to him from the start, he didn’t forget his circumstances. He was unable to walk out of his front door.

When XiaoYu thought about how he’d missed out on seeing QiYao in person, a stabbing pain pierced through his heart. Perhaps his life had been a little too carefree and comfortable lately. It made him forget this was just a game. QiYao didn’t understand just how much of a powerless coward XiaoYu was in reality. If their relationship continued on, it’d only made XiaoYu sink further into this trap. In the end, he might be hurt the worst.

Maybe XiaoYu could use these four days to think about just what he should do about this.

XiaoYu went back to Prole alone. He emptied out his bag and repacked it. After feeding the tiny cat, he messaged QiYao. He planned on telling the other he’d log off first. As server maintenance would start early in the morning, he didn’t want to be kicked offline in the middle of his sleep.

“Yao, are you busy?”

“Is there something you need, XiaoYu?” There certainly was a rowdy group crowded around QiYao, but his precious baby was more important than them.

“No. I just want to tell you I’m logging off to sleep.”

“Mn.” The server was going to be down very early tomorrow morning. It’d be bad if the process of getting kicked out of the game led to corrupted data. “Wait. Where are you now?”

“West Storage of Prole.”

“Wait a while for me. I’ll be there soon.” QiYao recalled something important. Thus, he placed Poor_Man in charge of the entire gathering while he left the meeting early.

As QiYao walked closer to the aforementioned Storage, he found a bored XiaoYu kicking tiny pebbles around. He pulled up the map. They were very near that little alley. And so, QiYao led XiaoYu along the streets towards their little alleyway. Thankfully, there were no bored players playing cards today. It was very peaceful.

“What is it, Yao?” XiaoYu might be used to being curled into an embrace the moment they were alone, but XiaoYu was still feeling confused on how he should do about his relationship with the other man. He just wanted to log off as soon as possible to consider what was going on in his life.

QiYao had always been a keen observer to XiaoYu’s emotions. The moment he heard XiaoYu speak in a slightly glum and distracted tone, he knew something was wrong. With XiaoYu before his eyes now, it was clear as day something was wrong. The mildly upset expression on the younger man’s face confirmed his suspicions. Who said only women had a sharp intuition? Men were just as hawk-eyed if they were attentive enough.

“Can you tell me your mobile or house phone number?”

“Huh? Why?”

“The server will be down tomorrow. I won’t be able to tell you when and where the gathering will be.”

“It’s fine. I can’t attend.” XiaoYu lowered his face. He didn’t dare look at QiYao’s face right now. XiaoYu’s hands curled into loose fists against QiYao’s chest where they had been trapped against.

“XiaoYu, I really want to see you. Don’t you want to see me?”

“I do…but I’m sorry. I can’t leave my house.” His fists were now clenched tight and quivering ever so slightly. He really wanted to meet QiYao in real life, but he didn’t have the courage to step out of his apartment. He was still terrified of the cars outside.

“…” The man could feel the pain XiaoYu was in. He held the shivering body closer to him. He really wanted to know why, but he can’t just force XiaoYu to tell him. He believed there was something painful his XiaoYu was suffering from. He gently patted XiaoYu on the back in an attempt to calm the little guy down. He wasn’t in a rush because he had another way to go about this. He didn’t want XiaoYu to keep escaping from reality.

XiaoYu, who had been burying his head in QiYao’s embrace like an ostrich, didn’t know if QiYao’s sudden silence was out of disappointment or something else. He really didn’t want the other man to hate him, but he didn’t know what to do.

“I’m so very sorry.”

“It’s fine. It’s okay to miss out on the meet-up.” QiYao tilted XiaoYu’s head up until their eyes met. “If you can’t walk out, then let me walk in. Okay?”

“W-Walk in…?”

“Yes. Tell me your address and I’ll come to you.” He paused. “XiaoYu, I really want to see you.”

“…” XiaoYu could tell just how much the man really wanted to meet him in person from that sincere gaze. How could he not want to meet QiYao in person too? He didn’t know if QiYao would be disappointed at how he truly was in real life, a voice deep in his heart kept chanting: I want to meet him. I want to see him.

XiaoYu pulled up the Mail tab. He wrote his address in a letter and handed it to QiYao. The other man could tell from the silent actions that XiaoYu was saying yes. He tenderly slid the paper into his pocket. How wonderful. He was one step closer to his XiaoYu now.

“I want to meet up with you tomorrow.” If it was possible, QiYao would’ve flown all the way over to XiaoYu that very night. However, he knew XiaoYu wasn’t used to staying up late. Even if they were in the same city, it’d take around an hour to get to the other man’s place and it was already near midnight. It was better to let XiaoYu rest first, then go to him tomorrow.

“Okay, but my house is a little messy.” It’d been over a month since XiaoYu had logged off. Frankly, he’d almost forgotten what his house looked like. He didn’t know if the clothes, books and magazines scattered throughout the place had been put away or not.

“Hehe. It’s fine.” QiYao landed a gentle peck of XiaoYu’s lips. “How about tomorrow afternoon?”

“Okay. Ah, I’ll give you my phone number.” Afraid that QiYao would find it hard to get to his place, XiaoYu scribbled a series of numbers on a paper before handing it over. It was the number of his house’s landline. Because XiaoYu was always at home, he rarely ever needed a phone. Therefore, he’d cancelled the auto-debit link between his bank account and his mobile. His number would’ve been deactivated soon after.

“What do I do, XiaoYu? I can’t wait for tomorrow to arrive.”

“Me too.” No matter what the outcome was, even if QiYao would be utterly disappointed by him tomorrow, XiaoYu at least wanted to have met the other man once.

Translator’s Note:

“Wife”: More accurately, “sis” or “ane”. Anyone who’s into those “gangster” shows will know what I mean here.


Previous IndexNext

LC: Chapter 67

67. Trivial Matters

The two humans and kitten were comfortably sleeping while Poor_Man stumbled out of Egg_Tart’s home with two dark circles under his eyes. He just knew this brat with a big tendency for tunnel vision would be majorly affected by this incident. Egg_Tart actually told him he wanted to quit his role as a subsidiary Guild Leader. He was so pissed he immediately logged off. He rushed over to Egg_Tart’s home in real life and started banging on his door.

After a long, long night of counselling, Egg_Tart finally stopped trying to run away. He decided to review all that happened and present it before the meeting that’ll happen in a few days. It would be QiYao’s decision whether to sack him or not.

Poor_Man wondered how things were going between Chief and Xiao-Yu. Still, that was a problem for a version of him that wasn’t dead tired and in need of immediate sleep. If he’d known how long this journey would be, he wouldn’t have tried to be gallant and insist on sleeping in his own home. It wouldn’t be his first time staying over at Eggy’s place. Ugh.

Life went on as usual. Nothing was really changed by QiYao’s and XiaoYu’s new relationship status as a couple. XiaoYu stayed on in his guild, partying up and grinding as per normal.

During the day, the two would do their own thing. After dinner, they’d commit the common silly act all couples would do – roam aimlessly. Hand in hand, they would walk through the streets of various cities. Browsing roadside stalls, discussing about the value of items and equipment materials. Even though QiYao didn’t quite understand the equipment healers needed, he had a fabulous almighty assistant in Poor_Man. A simple message can resolve any issues being debated upon.

Therefore, XiaoYu soon had a brand-new set of gear. Decked out from head to toe, he was one of the top healers in his level band now. Of course, these were all bought with his own gold. True, QiYao really wanted to pay for them. However, QiYao knew just how much XiaoYu disliked it. He’d witnessed it first-hand already. So, QiYao just let XiaoYu did as he pleased. Still, he would be slightly upset about it. He’d then drag XiaoYu into a deserted alley for a fervent session of hugs and kisses. XiaoYu really found it strange. Why would QiYao keep wanting to kiss him whenever he bought something?

About kisses, something must be said. XiaoYu was a little kid new to love. He didn’t know what this French kissing thing was. Every time QiYao kissed him, he’d pursed his lips tight. Hence, these two were still at the first “pecking” stage. The other man didn’t want to rush XiaoYu either. He wanted to wait until XiaoYu got used to the affectionate gestures between lovers before slowly delving deeper.

If there was something that XiaoYu had definitely gotten used to, it’d be sleeping together. Ever since that Saturday, they’d sleep in the same bed every night. In just a few days, he could already seek out the most comfortable position in QiYao’s embrace and instantly fall asleep. Occasionally, the other man would tease him about it, making XiaoYu hide his flushing face under the blanket. QiYao would let out a laugh and pulled him out and into his embrace once more.

Days went by in gentle warmth. Soon, it was weekend again. Every restaurant, tea shop, cafe and food stall were packed to the brim. When XiaoYu saw how many shops hung out their “full” signs, his mood would dip. They reminded him of his long-forgotten Profession, which was still non-existent. Perhaps the chef was back from his hometown now. Thus, XiaoYu decided to head over to Serica.

Since XiaoYu started grinding in the Pyramids, he never really stopped by Serica for long anymore. There were quite a few bad memories associate with it, after all.

The moment XiaoYu stepped out of a portal in Serica, he received a message from QiYao.

“XiaoYu, where are you now?”

“The south portal in Serica.”

“Wait for me. I’ll be there soon.”

“Okay.”

QiYao had gone for a war meeting about tomorrow’s battle. He was also given the report on how Prole-4 was lost. After the initial investigations, they found out that strange summoning skill was a type of item. It only allowed party leaders to summon their members to them. It was created by a secret Profession, the Seals Master. As for what was needed to create one, no one knew for sure. As it can’t be found on the Market and the I Die For Riches guild didn’t use it en masse,  so it should be a rare item.

Fortunately for the Heretic Demons, Prole-3’s surroundings made it easy to defend and hard to invade. It’d be hard to take over Prole-3 with just a party trick. Rather smart of this guild. They picked the easiest target, Prole-4. As long as the main guild’s guards paid more attention and their troops had substitutes, it wasn’t a big issue. As for Egg_Tart’s punishment, QiYao didn’t say much. He merely mentioned the conditions for a real-life gathering still held, shifting everyone’s attention to tomorrow’s battle instead.

In a flash, QiYao’s figure could be seen walking out of the blinding light of the teleportation portal.

“Meeting’s over?” XiaoYu asked.

“Yes. XiaoYu, why are you here in Serica?” Because Serica was the Wings’ main battlefield, QiYao rarely ever came here. After all, it’d attract a lot of attention if the rival Guild Leader was seen strutting about their territory.

“I wanted to see if I could apply to be a chef.”

“I’ll go with you. Have you had dinner?”

“No.”

“Then, let’s head to Sakura for dinner afterwards. I heard there’s a festival this weekend.”

“Okay,” XiaoYu replied. He immediately thought of Takoyaki. The tiny cat would surely love them. And so, he eagerly pulled QiYao along by the hand towards Yang’s. He wanted to resolve this matter fast.

When XiaoYu made the first move to pull QiYao along by his hand, his lips opened in a slight smile. It seemed like the past few days of being together were a success. He gently swapped their fingers around until they crossed and clasped around each other, letting XiaoYu lead them to wherever he wanted to.

Perhaps QiYao’s looks were too unique. Perhaps the Wings had a really good information network. Either way, when the two reached Yang’s Restaurant, they reached a dead end once more. When they dejectedly walked out of the restaurant, they “coincidentally” bumped into GloryOfTheWorld who appeared to be passing by on the way to his dinner.

“What a coincidence to see Heretic and XiaoYu here,” Glory remarked.

“Ah. Hello,” XiaoYu said.

As for QiYao, he merely nodded in agreement. He knew full well this was no chance encounter. He just didn’t think information would be passed on in such a short time. The Wings really did have a good information network.

“Are you two here to dine? Why don’t I show you around the best dishes of Serica? My treat,” Glory said.

“Thanks, but I’m just here to change Professions.” XiaoYu’s mind was set on his little cat’s Takoyaki balls.

“Hehe. As always, you love to say no to me. Do you really hate having me as your friend that much?” Glory asked.

“N-No. It’s just…” XiaoYu was never good at explanations. Glory’s tone also made him feel self-conscious.

“We’ve made plans already,” QiYao said, stepping up to help XiaoYu out of his awkwardness.

“I see. I won’t keep you two from your date then,” Glory replied with a long glance at their entwined fingers.

“Excuse us.” QiYao pulled XiaoYu forward and past Glory.

“So you really are lovers…” In the brief moment as the two brushed shoulders with Glory, XiaoYu heard the other’s voice. It sounded like a mumble to Glory himself, yet it also seemed to be for XiaoYu’s ears.

Those words made XiaoYu recall the last time he encountered GloryOfTheWorld in Serica. Back then, the other thought he and QiYao were a couple too. Glory even said a few strange statements he didn’t quite get. He remembered denying it back then because this relationship with QiYao was recent development. Would Glory think he was trying to bluff back then? Should he explain it to Glory?

While XiaoYu was occupied with the celestial fight going on in his mind, he was pulled into a tiny alcove by QiYao.

“What is it? What did Glory say to you?” QiYao asked as he pulled the other into an embrace. While he didn’t hear what Glory mumbled, his instincts told him XiaoYu’s spacing out had to do with that fellow. Any man would be jealous if the person they’re on a date with was thinking about another man, let alone someone as possessive as QiYao.

“Mn…There might have been a tiny misunderstanding.” XiaoYu never even realised he’d never lied to or dismissed a question from QiYao. It was that deep trust and dependency that made him give QiYao a chance. From the very beginning, Glory was denied.

“What misunderstanding?”

“It’s…” XiaoYu briefly explained what happened during his last encounter. “Could it be he thinks I lied to him?”

“There’s a chance, but you don’t have to go and explain things to him just because.”

“Why?”

“Because people who trust you would believe you without any further explanation. If they don’t trust you, the more you explain, the more they’ll think you’re lying.”

“Mn.” XiaoYu nodded. That sounded logical.

“If he had any questions, just answer them when he asks you directly. I don’t like his method of circling and weaving around the topic.”

“Yes. Me too.” Every time XiaoYu talked to Glory, it was an exhausting experience. It always felt like every word that came out of Glory’s mouth had some implied meaning trying to drag some secret out of him. It made him uncomfortable. That’s why XiaoYu would never want to talk to Glory about his personal thoughts. There was no need to actively explain himself either. After all, they didn’t know each other well.

“But, XiaoYu, if anything happens, you must come to me right away. If I’m not around, you can seek help from Poor_Man, Below_The_Moon and the others. Do not ever face trouble alone. Got it?” QiYao said as he tilted XiaoYu’s head up. If possible, QiYao never want XiaoYu interacting with Glory at all in the future. Still, he may be very possessive, but he would never overstep his boundaries when it came to XiaoYu’s personal life. He knew XiaoYu was someone who could think for himself. XiaoYu wasn’t just a mindless thing.

“Mn. I know.” Being respected and loved was something very heart-warming. It made XiaoYu instinctively tighten his arms around QiYao. What should he do? He’s beginning to like QiYao more and more.

After a few days, the tiny cat had gotten used to the couple’s spontaneous affectionate gestures. It now merely sat quietly to a side with its head tilted at them. Just when will you guys bring me somewhere with yummy food? >w<

Translator’s Note:

1. Festival: The proper term would be a temple celebration/fair. Changed to festival as the proper term would sound awkward.

2. Takoyaki: Microsoft Word and the internet seems to think takoyaki requires capitalisation. I feel like that’s an outdated thinking. What’s your opinion on that?


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