TW: Suicidal thoughts
Ye Ji’an, at the age of thirty-four, was a hardworking and well-paid office worker.
He had long developed the habit of getting up before dawn each day, taking the first subway train from his residence in Satellite City and rushing to his office in the CBD1Central business district for a half-hour jog in the company gym.
The reason he came so early each day was due to the fact that he had to wear short sleeves for jogging.
He didn’t want any of his colleagues to see the tattoos that covered every inch of skin on his arms, shoulders and back.
He had gotten the tattoos two years ago, having felt that life was too boring and wanting for some excitement.
He started off with the logos of the underground rock bands he liked in college and stuff like roses and skulls. Of course, his search for excitement was a failure. He only felt that the tattoos were ugly and painful.
After exercising, he would take a shower, spray on some light cologne and dress himself up to look more put-together than he actually was.
The tattoos were all covered by a thick dress shirt, even in the heat of summer.
Of course, his habit of running was not a hobby, but rather a practical way to prevent the accumulation of fat. He also relied on the exercise to keep him energized through the morning.
Though he still had to crazily chug down coffee in the afternoon to cover his piles of work.
As a corporate slave in the finance industry, he had to constantly keep watch over changes in the Shanghai, Shenzhen and US stocks. Once he got busy, it was impossible to get off work at a fixed time.
Even if he did, he would be subject to the evening rush hour crowd, squeezing into cramped subways with his earphones on, his nose filled with the smell of body odor, often leading him to contemplate death.
Of course, it was simply contemplation.
The new game he had his eyes on was not released yet. The PS4 bought in the previous year was almost brand new.
The live stage2Probably referring to a “live” e-sports tournament or a concert of some sorts. he had already prepared vacation days for was yet to come.
His mortgage was not yet paid in full.
…For some reason, he still wanted to die.
After alighting from the subway, Ye Ji’an had to humbly line up to buy roasted sweet potatoes.
Due to his fear of getting fat, he couldn’t even eat his favorite cheap skewers. After all, wearing a dress shirt with a bulging belly was too difficult a sight to endure.
Ye Ji’an felt a hint of regret.
He had eaten today’s lunch with a junior from his company, and their choice of food had been a Japanese restaurant two streets away.
It was just a little too expensive, even after splitting the bill. If he didn’t save a little this month, he would not be able to pay the mortgage.
After going home, he still had to clean up the house. Wages for hourly workers had skyrocketed recently. Now that he had no deadlines to fulfill, he felt that it was still better for him to exercise a little. 3Fees for hourly cleaning services increased, so he might as well “exercise” a little by cleaning the house himself
With a mop in hand, Ye Ji’an ran around the house while thinking about the young man who had been his lunch companion. He felt a little worried, and also a little afraid.
His worry stemmed from the fact that the young man had just graduated a few years back, and had a lower position and hence a lower salary.
In spite of that, the young man was extravagant in his spending and especially loved wearing luxury brands. He also had a money-burning hobby in the form of photography.
Ye Ji’an had no idea how this person was going to buy a house and marry a wife in the future.
On the other hand, his fear stemmed from the fact that the young man knew he was heavily tattooed, and that he was the only one in the company who knew of this secret.
In the past, Ye Ji’an would skip out on everything that had a possibility of showing his tattoos. He even excused himself from physical examinations, choosing to go to a hospital he was familiar with instead.
One day, during the onset of autumn two or three months ago, he had a very unfortunate meeting at the crack of dawn.
That day, he had coincidentally developed a stomach ache in the shower, resulting in him entering the locker room a few minutes later than usual, bumping right into the young man who was entering the room to change in preparation for a workout.
At that moment, the child4Referring to Liang Xiao here, since he’s younger was stunned silly.
Ye Ji’an was also very embarrassed, and turned to face him, hiding his back.
“Xiao5Xiao means “small”. Can be tagged in front of a name to affectionately refer to someone younger than you. Liang is so early.”
Ye Ji’an tried his hardest to be humble and polite.
“It’s Senior who’s early,” The young man gave him a lazy smile that caused his eyes to squint a little.
Without shying away at all, he spoke with glittering eyes, “You6Respectful form of “you”. are really so cool!”
It was Ye Ji’an’s first time being called cool.
His tattoos only led to his parents’ constant nagging. Even his ex-girlfriend, who he had discussed marriage with, would ridicule him incessantly.
Ye Ji’an remained detached and polite.
Some time later, he headed over to the convenience store to buy breakfast. Considerately, he added a bottle of juice and a sandwich that was filled with meat.
While nobody else was around, he searched for the young man’s desk and placed the items on the table, where a sunbeam was shining.
Nobody knew that he had actually been desperately fleeing when he had buttoned up his clothes to leave the locker room.
Later in the day, from the transparent walls of his office, Ye Ji’an saw the young man picking up the juice and unwrapping the sandwich with a smile on his face.
Then, with that same smile, he turned to the female colleague sitting beside him, speaking a few words.
Watching all this, Ye Ji’an’s heart felt panicked as well.
Will he speculate that it was from me?
Will he think that I’m trying to please him?
Get closer to him?
I am his superior ah!
Will he tell anyone about my tattoos?
During lunch break, Ye Ji’an took the time to carefully check the company’s regulations.
Though tattoos were not prohibited, he still felt that it would severely impact him if the story was spread around.
…Now he wanted to die even more.
A few days later, he was silently smoking at his usual spot—a small, quiet corner hidden behind the bookshelf in the smoking room.
While habitually thinking about dying, he meticulously went over in his head the contents of the report he had given his boss earlier in the afternoon.
All of a sudden, he heard the rustling sound of footsteps. With his usual relaxed, high-spirited look, the young man swaggered over to his side.
Then he also lit a cigarette.
Ye Ji’an felt as nervous now as when he had to meet his boss ahead of schedule.
The young man smiled.
“Does Senior like hiding in such a place?”
Sure enough, there was trouble.
Ye Ji’an smiled faintly, expressing his friendliness, “Not particularly. Our department has very few smokers and quite a few girls. I just didn’t wish to disturb others.”
“Haha, me too,” the young man replied.
However, he did not look like an experienced smoker. Ye Ji’an suspected that he was simply pretending.
“I didn’t know that Xiao Liang smoked before.”
“Just Liang Xiao7Liang Xiao is our ML’s actual name. This “Xiao” and the “Xiao” for ‘small’ are different characters. is fine.”
Pointing to the badge hanging on his chest, he continued, “Senior probably isn’t much older than me ba.”
“Haha, that’s good too.”
Ye Ji’an looked at him and agreed, reminding himself to find out this person’s birth year later.
“En,” Liang Xiao returned his gaze.
Ye Ji’an had no idea what he was thinking, though he did seem to be enjoying himself in this strange atmosphere.
“Well, let’s not slack too much.”
Trying to keep a calm look on his face, Ye Ji’an finally finished smoking his cigarette. Crushing the cigarette butt, he patted Liang Xiao on the shoulder.
“I’ll head back first.”
“By the way, Senior.”
Liang Xiao suddenly stopped him.
“I think there’s something I should remind you about.”
Ye Ji’an really wanted to turn into a rabbit and jump away.
“The truth is, your8Respectful “you” tattoos can actually be seen faintly when you’re wearing light-coloured shirts,” Liang Xiao softly spoke with lowered eyes, staring straight at Ye Ji’an’s forgotten arm on his shoulder.
“Well, at least I am able to see them.”
- 1Central business district
- 2Probably referring to a “live” e-sports tournament or a concert of some sorts.
- 3Fees for hourly cleaning services increased, so he might as well “exercise” a little by cleaning the house himself
- 4Referring to Liang Xiao here, since he’s younger
- 5Xiao means “small”. Can be tagged in front of a name to affectionately refer to someone younger than you.
- 6Respectful form of “you”.
- 7Liang Xiao is our ML’s actual name. This “Xiao” and the “Xiao” for ‘small’ are different characters.
- 8Respectful “you”