4.3 On Your Own
“Gege, are you busy right now?” Xia Xin asked cheerfully. She knew her brother liked it when she spoke that way.
Hao Ritian’s expression was blank. “No. What do you want?”
Despite feeling that her brother’s response was a bit off, Xia Xin didn’t think too much of it and spoke falteringly, “It’s like this… Um… I– I want to change my phone to a Pear 6. Many of my classmates are using this mobile phone brand now…”
In other words, she was asking for money. The Pear 6 had just appeared on the market and was currently at its priciest. A single one cost more than 6,000 yuan.
Li Bufan was sitting next to Hao Ritian with his ears pricked high and could hear the voice coming from the phone receiver. As soon as he heard her words, his face fell.
He didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but Xia Luo was liable to do something stupid when it came to Xia Xin. If he didn’t watch over him, he figured Xia Luo would spend all his monthly salary on his sister, even forgetting that he needed to take his medicine and persist in his treatment for his asthma. Meanwhile, Xia Xin would never take her brother’s matters into consideration and would enjoy the fruits of Xia Luo’s labour, taking it for granted. Li Bufan couldn’t bear to watch them.
Unfortunately, Xia Luo was determined to die. Sometimes, Li Bufan really wished he could pry open Xia Luo’s brain to see what he was thinking. Was he an idiot?!
Now he was listening to Xia Xin ask for money again, and he happened to know that Xia Luo had just given her 3,000 yuan last month to buy a mobile phone. She’d only used it for a month before wanting to buy a new one, and it was the most expensive one at that. Why didn’t she eat shit? Did she think nobody could see through her thoughts…
Oh, right, there was a fool right here that couldn’t. Li Bufan looked woodenly at Hao Ritian. He could almost foresee him buying it for her without a second thought. His heart was exhausted.
Who would’ve thought that after the milk tea incident, this mobile phone matter would similarly reverse his expectations?
“Buy a phone? What about the one you bought just last month?” If not for Li Bufan sitting next to him, Hao Ritian would’ve sneered. She really thought she could freely take money from him like before? Dream on.
He wanted to see how Xia Xin would continue to do whatever she wanted without Xia Luo’s care and support. He felt no sympathy for white-eyed wolves like her.
In the past, as long as Xia Xin opened her mouth and acted spoiled, she could successfully receive money from her brother. When her brother made such a blunt response this time, she was thrown off and subconsciously replied, “It’s here, but all my classmates use a Pear 6. I want one too…”
Hao Ritian, “Okay, if it’s nothing then I’m hanging up. Come back this weekend, I have something to tell you.”
For the first time ever, he hung up on Xia Xin after speaking.
Forget how confused and incredulous Xia Xin was on the other end, Li Bufan started out shocked before becoming so ecstatic that he wanted to jump twice on the spot. This was the first time Xia Luo had refused Xia Xin—it deserved to be commemorated.
After Hao Ritian hung up, Li Bufan coughed twice on purpose. When Hao Ritian looked over at him, he kept his eyes facing forward and pretended to casually ask, “Didn’t you used to buy Xia Xin whatever she asked for? Why did you refuse this time?”
Inwardly, he was nervous. He hoped that Xia Luo had really come to his senses but also felt that it was impossible. Despite being obviously concerned, he didn’t dare say it outright for fear that Xia Luo would think he was sowing discord between the two siblings. After asking his question, his fingers couldn’t help but drum on his legs non-stop; his little gesture completely gave away his inner tension.
Hao Ritian looked at him, his lips carrying a smile. “I just think it’s about time Xia Xin grew up. She’s already a junior in university and will soon enter society. I’m thinking that coddling her all the time isn’t good for her and that I should let her learn to take care of herself. I can’t take care of her my whole life. Don’t you agree?”
“YES!” Li Bufan’s response was loud and clear. He realised after answering that his reaction was a bit overly excited and sheepishly pinched his earlobe to calm himself down as much as possible. “You’re absolutely right. So what are you planning to do?”
Honestly speaking, Hao Ritian thought a child like Li Bufan was really amusing. Out of everyone he’d met in the previous worlds, he was the one Hao Ritian was most fond of. Thus, without any intention of hiding, he revealed his plan. Xia Luo didn’t treat Li Bufan as an outsider so discussing important matters such as this couldn’t be more normal.
“Starting from the next semester, Xia Xin should earn her own money to pay for her tuition fees and be responsible for her own expenses. My job is hectic and I live with you, so since I can’t use the rented house, I’m planning on vacating it. I’ve been earning a living since university and it hit me that if I continued to indulge Xia Xin in this way, she’d only turn into a hothouse flower. I hope she can stand on her own a bit. That way, if anything happens to me, she can take care of herself.”
Even Hao Ritian was disgusted by these words. He didn’t give a fart about Xia Xin’s life or death, but he was currently Xia Luo and couldn’t change so abruptly. This current course of action was the one he was planning to implement. He’d fabricated the logic behind it using Xia Luo’s standpoint, therefore he thought it was very appropriate.
Li Bufan’s originally bright expression darkened when Hao Ritian mentioned something happening to him. “Pei! Pei! Pei! What the hell are you saying! How could anything happen to you? Saying this is too unlucky. You’re not allowed to say this again.”
However, apart from that, Li Bufan fully approved of Xia Luo ‘coming to his senses’. Recalling that Hao Ritian had asked Xia Xin to return during the weekend to talk when he’d hung up on her, he tentatively asked, “So you’re planning to talk to Xia Xin about this during the weekend?”
“Yes.” Hao Ritian looked hesitant. “Tomorrow happens to be Saturday. I’m going to find time to speak with her, but I’ll have to see if work tomorrow is busy or not. If it is busy, it doesn’t matter. I’ll push it back to a later date.”
How would this do? Li Bufan immediately stated his stance, “It won’t be busy. There’s not many advertisements tomorrow and my scenes are in the afternoon, so how about I go with you tomorrow at noon?”
He absolutely couldn’t allow this critical moment to be sidetracked. It was the golden opportunity to get rid of that burden, Xia Xin. If Xia Luo were to waver and change his mind because Xia Xin snivelled delicately and complained, he would cry without tears.
For this reason, he had to watch the process in person to strengthen Xia Luo’s ground, ruthlessly beating him when he hesitated.
Hao Ritian could easily see his thoughts and appreciated his thoughtfulness. Hence, he only hesitated for a second before agreeing, “Okay, but don’t push yourself. If you’re busy, you don’t have to come with me. I can handle it.”
Li Bufan’s eyes and face were full of smiles. “Don’t worry, I won’t force myself.”
What a joke! Even if his hands were full, he’d still squeeze out some time from his schedule. What did a small thing like this matter!
By the end of their conversation, they’d arrived at Red Sun.
Since he’d already invited Hao Ritian, Li Bufan also had to bring along the other two assistants, otherwise they would be upset.
Li Bufan patronised this private restaurant often and had reserved a private room early on. As long as it was unoccupied when he arrived, he could receive that room. As such, they were already sitting in the private room, waiting for the dishes to be served.
“Try the food, everyone. The food here is delicious. If you like it, I can take you here again when the opportunity arises.” As Li Bufan was speaking, Hao Ritian happened to finish pouring water and sent a cup his way, which he smoothly accepted.
Their movements were quite natural and neither the action nor the accepting felt out of sync. Only after they’d finished did Hao Ritian realise that he’d subconsciously known to pay close attention to Li Bufan. Though this matter was small, the significance of it was big.
Hao Ritian, while a little surprised, wasn’t averse to it, proving that he had a good impression of Li Bufan.
“Thank you, Li-ge.” The two assistants thanked him.
Putting aside the fact that assistants could get in touch with stars, many people thought this was a decent job. In actuality though, whether the job was decent or not was dependent on whether one’s employer was good. Some assistants were often reprimanded by their employers, and there were even cases where bad-tempered employers hit assistants. This was normal behaviour in the entertainment circle, so it was fortunate for them to have met Li Bufan.
Li Bufan waved his hand, indicating that they needn’t thank him. Their dishes soon arrived and, knowing Xia Luo had asthma, the food Li Bufan ordered was suitable for those with asthma to eat. In this weather, he would’ve preferred to eat hotpot, but considering that people with asthma couldn’t eat anything too heavily flavored or spicy, he decided on these dishes.
The group of four ate to their heart’s content. After a nice, warm meal, it was easy to become drowsy. That was especially true for Li Bufan after his high-intensity work. He suddenly relaxed and fatigue swept all over him. He pressed against his temple. “Xiao Chen, send Xia Luo and me home first, then you two can go back to the company or go home. You can decide whichever for yourself.”
In any case, he wanted to go home and sleep now.
Hao Ritian knew that Xia Luo and Li Bufan lived together. Compared to the other two assistants, Xia Luo was the equivalent of Li Bufan’s right and left-hand man. When they were together, he often helped Li Bufan with his scripts, gave him advice, and helped him map out his work arrangements properly. He was doing almost half the job of an agent’s, it was no wonder their relationship was so good.
Once Xiao Chen responded, the group of four prepared to return home, only to run into a crowd of people after exiting the private room. To say they were a crowd wasn’t quite apt since the number of people on the other side was only one more than their group’s, but they had a peculiar momentum to them that gave others a sense of pressure.
Normal people would’ve subconsciously retreated upon seeing them.
Having mixed in the entertainment circle for several years, Li Bufan was naturally good at discerning people. By the imposing manner of the man leading them alone, he could tell that he was a character on par with that of a big boss. His looks were no worse than the entertainment industry’s Film Emperor. On the contrary, he was all the more head-turning because of his noble temperament.
Li Bufan wasn’t prepared to go head-to-head with the other party, so he gave way to them. However, when he turned his head around, he noticed Xia Luo was staring unblinkingly at the man at the forefront. Though he didn’t know why he was doing that, Li Bufan didn’t want Xia Luo to incur the other’s displeasure and subtly yanked him to make him pay attention.
He was sure such an important person wouldn’t like to be stared at.
Hao Ritian finally tore his eyes off the man after Li Bufan yanked him. Inwardly, he couldn’t help but wonder if that was the man he’d been waiting for.
He had grounds to think so. According to his assessment, that man had an outstanding identity in every world and would be impeccable both in figure or looks, almost as if they had been made according to his preferences. More importantly, they’d spent a long time together and he could sort of tell whether it was him or not.
Nevertheless, he’d just arrived in this world and had nothing. If this person wasn’t the man he was thinking of then the situation was liable to cause trouble for Li Bufan, which wouldn’t be worth it. So despite wanting to dig deeper, he gave up on the idea for now. While it was a bit regretful, he didn’t find it too hard to accept. After all, if he truly was that man then they would definitely meet again.
Who told the two of them to be so predestined to meet in every world? He didn’t believe there wasn’t anything fishy going on.
The man walking at the forefront suddenly looked back. Still, by the time he’d turned his head around, Hao Ritian had already been half covered by Li Bufan and he couldn’t see anything. The man felt perplexed but didn’t take it to heart and just turned back to leave.
Once they were gone, Li Bufan released a sigh of relief and said to Hao Ritian, “What was up with you just now?”
Hao Ritian casually found an excuse, “I thought that guy looked pretty handsome. Is he an actor? I’ve never seen him before.”
Li Bufan smiled. “No way. If he really is an actor, that guy would’ve gotten famous a long time ago. He’s probably some big boss.”
The other two assistants both sighed. “His presence was so strong.”
“It’s obvious people like him are from a different world from us. Alright, let’s stop talking about this. We should get going too.” Li Bufan had always been very clear about his own standing. Since he was determined to rely on himself to climb up, his attitude was always upright. It was the secret to his success.
Hao Ritian also threw the simple encounter to the back of his mind. One step at a time.
After returning to their residence, Li Bufan went straight to his bedroom to catch up on sleep. Once he was alone, Hao Ritian relaxed.
He thought of the current situation in this world. In fact, mission-wise, it was only one Xia Xin and one investor who’d hurt Xia Luo. Xia Xin was right in front of him and Hao Ritian didn’t plan on ‘putting her to death’ right away. He intended to deal with her slowly so she could appreciate the feeling of despair bit by bit and he could ruthlessly vent his resentment.
As for that investor, they hadn’t met yet. However, with Hao Ritian’s present identity, he couldn’t immediately press down on that rich second generation who had status and backing by his side, and he still needed a long-term plan. Nevertheless, in Hao Ritian’s eyes, there were many ways to solve this little matter. It didn’t have to be tough measures. Secretly killing him from behind wasn’t a bad idea too.
Lastly, there was Li Bufan. According to the original trajectory, he was targeted and suppressed because he tried to avenge Xia Luo, causing him to take ten years to reach the summit of the entertainment industry. This time, Hao Ritian wanted to help Li Bufan reach the top as fast as possible, therefore he needed to think of a swift yet stable plan to get his name out there.
Cough cough cough cough—
All his previous perfect imaginings were crushed by his violent coughs in the next moment.
Hao Ritian was practically about to go crazy. His transmigration this time was really treating him ‘too well’. Having asthma didn’t necessarily mean he would have severe coughing fits. As long as he paid attention to various things and took his meds on time, it could be effectively alleviated.
The lungs of people suffering from asthma were weak when it was cold, and it was hardest to endure during autumn and winter. During winter, the cold air would enter the lungs and the slightest inattention would lead to violent coughing. These kinds of physical symptoms weren’t something Hao Ritian could change as he wished, which was why he detested physiological illnesses.
After thinking about it, he’d never been weaker than he was in this current world. It was better to rest up and conserve energy, building up his strength. ‘Your health is your most precious asset’, Hao Ritian realised this fact sadly.
At around 4:00 p.m., Li Bufan and Hao Ritian woke up one after the other and couldn’t sleep again. If they slept any longer, the sky would completely darken and they would be too wakeful to sleep at night. As a star – and a star that wanted to become popular, at that – Li Bufan often had to be quite ruthless with himself.
Judging from the distance of the sun, it wouldn’t be long before the sun set. Li Bufan wasn’t concerned about anything after waking up. His first order of business was to remind Hao Ritian. “Would you like to call Xia Xin to make sure she comes on time tomorrow?”
He looked like he was afraid Hao Ritian would forget, acting more concerned than the person involved.
Hao Ritian shook his head. “No, she’ll definitely come on time tomorrow.”
If nothing else, she’d definitely come to pester and act spoiled for the sake of getting a Pear 6. Xia Xin probably wouldn’t take his words seriously, since from her perspective, it was impossible for her older brother to ignore her.
As Hao Ritian thought, Xia Xin really was racking her brains on how to act spoiled with her brother tomorrow. She’d gone out to eat with her classmates today and most of them had been using a Pear 6, intentionally showing it off. Some of her classmates had even emphasised how great the Pear 6 was in front of her and how outdated the phone she was using was and so on. Xia Xin’s strong self-esteem couldn’t stand for this and she became determined to switch to a Pear 6. This was no longer a matter of mobile phones but face.
After thinking about it all night, Xia Xin woke up early on the second day to go to the rented apartment, giving her brother a call at the same time. Once she confirmed that he was on the way to the apartment, she sighed in relief.
The rented apartment was a single bedroom, and the number of times the two siblings had lived in it were few. Xia Luo had to work and usually lived with Li Bufan, while Xia Xin had to go to school. During the weekends, she sometimes stayed at school and sometimes went out with her classmates. Even so, not having the apartment was out of the question.
To Xia Luo, the apartment was a home. Besides, just because the number of times they’d stayed there wasn’t many didn’t mean they didn’t live there. They always kept it for a rainy day. Xia Xin’s school didn’t allow students to stay on campus during the winter and summer holidays, and since a two-bedroom apartment was too expensive to be worthwhile, Xia Luo rented a single-bedroom apartment, which still cost 1000 yuan a month. Luckily the house was located in an ordinary area, otherwise how would he be able to rent it with 1000 yuan?
So although it was an apartment, it’s conditions were very ordinary. It was the reason Xia Xin would rather stay at school than return. If it wasn’t because the dorm didn’t allow students to linger during the winter holiday, she wouldn’t want to return even then.
During this period of time, Xia Luo had been busy with work and hadn’t been back for at least half a month. Xia Xin was even less likely to return, thus no one had been living in the rented apartment and it appeared a bit dirty. Disgusted, Xia Xin searched for a rag then wiped the sofa and sat down to wait for her brother, having no intention of cleaning up the place.
Fortunately for her, she didn’t have to wait long. She heard a sound coming from the door and knew her brother had arrived. Xia Xin hadn’t locked the door after she came in, and once the door opened, she stood up from the sofa, wanting to fly into her brother’s arms and act cute.
Except then she noticed it wasn’t only her brother who entered, but Li Bufan too. She immediately stopped in her tracks and turned red, murmuring, “Ge, Li-ge.”
Li Bufan had become quite well-known this year, and since he was good-looking, he had many female fans. Girls like Xia Xin had little to no resistance against handsome men like him. Moreover, Xia Xin’s dream was to become a star, so it was natural to become excited when an actual star appeared in front of her.
Knowing that her brother was Li Bufan’s assistant, many of her classmates were jealous and some had even spoken many sour words, saying that he was just an assistant, a gofer, what was there to be proud about? Xia Xin would always proudly think at that time: That’s because you don’t know how good my brother’s relationship with Li Bufan is!
Now, similar thoughts were running through her mind again. Look, Li-ge came with her brother to see her while those classmates of hers have no chance of meeting Li-ge. They must be jealous of her.
A young, blushing girl was normally endearing, especially when the girl was very beautiful. However, Hao Ritian and Li Bufan only felt aversion. Who told them to be so clear about how brain-damaged this girl was?
Li Bufan nodded slightly in response. Hao Ritian was too lazy to even reply and directly found a seat with Li Bufan before saying to Xia Xin, “Sit!”
Seeing her older brother look so cold, the blush on Xia Xin’s face receded and a trace of uneasiness appeared in her heart. In addition, with Li Bufan present, she couldn’t immediately ask for money to buy a Pear 6, so she sat down and tried to put on a sweet smile before hesitantly asking, “Ge, what did you want to ask me when you called me back?”
She now recalled that Hao Ritian had mentioned that he wanted to discuss something with her before hanging up yesterday.
Hao Ritian’s smile seemed to hold an unclear meaning. “There’s something I want to talk to you about.”
“How old are you this year?” He suddenly asked.
Xia Xin pouted and complained, “Ge, what kind of question is this? I’m 23. My birthday was just a few months ago. You even bought me a birthday cake, how could you forget so quickly?”
“Oh, so you’re already 23.” Hao Ritian sighed. “You’re even older than Bufan by a year. Bufan is just 22.”
—So where did you get the face to call a person a year younger than you ‘Ge’? Hao Ritian silently criticised.
After entering the workforce, forms of address would depend more on work experience and qualifications than age. But to a student who had yet to enter society, the majority of them referenced age when addressing someone.
Li Bufan couldn’t help but crack a smile when he heard him say that, though he held off from laughing since he felt that would be inappropriate. He’d never thought Xia Luo had such a side to him. It was leagues better than when he acted like a stuffed bun.
Xia Xin was very embarrassed. Girls were originally concerned about age anyways, so along with her brother’s words, she was reminded that she’d called Li Bufan ‘Ge’. Ashamed and upset, she said, “Ge, what do you want to say?”
Hao Ritian’s expression grew serious. “Alright, I won’t beat around the bushes. Though Bufan is only 22 this year, he’d already struck out on his own when he was 16 and toiled away for six years to achieve his current accomplishments. And all this had depended on his own hard work, which is quite admirable. You aren’t small anymore, and Gege doesn’t want to raise you to become a greenhouse flower. From now on, your tuition and living fees should be handled on your own, and since we don’t live in this rented apartment much, I’ll be returning it later.”
In other words, you’re on your own.
The expression on Xia Xin’s face gradually stiffened. She forced a smile and, with her voice hoarse, asked, “Ge, are you kidding?”