Liu Chen was not familiar with this aspect of business. Fearing that the other party would be too slow, Qin Man called a friend he knew. By the time everything was resolved, half an hour had passed.
Qin Man took off his coat and walked towards the bedroom.
Ji Ran didn’t have a habit of locking the door. As soon as Qin Man entered, he noticed the smell of alcohol in the room.
The temperature of the air conditioner in the room was low and the lights were turned off. Only the TV in front of the bed was on; the video quality was quite poor and evidently aging.
Ji Ran was seated on the ground. He leaned against the wooden board of the bed and drank without pause.
The glare from the TV reflected off Ji Ran’s cheeks and he could see that the other person’s eyes were wet, making Qin Man’s heart soft.
This was the second time Qin Man saw him cry in another place outside of their bed.
Hearing the sound, Ji Ran forced his tears back. “Didn’t I tell you not to come in?”
His words didn’t have a shred of cordiality, but his tone was weak; it didn’t sound like he really wanted to drive Qin Man away.
Qin Man walked over and sat down. “I’ll drink with you.”
“Are you so poor that you’re even fighting for beer? No, I don’t even have enough for myself.” Ji Ran turned his head to continue looking at the screen as he took another sip from the bottle.
Qin Man didn’t touch his alcohol and just sat quietly.
On screen, a woman was wearing an apron while she cooked. Suddenly, a soft cry of “Mother” could be heard. The woman turned her head immediately, revealing her beautiful face. Naturally, it was Zhao Qing Tong, whose photo was posted on Weibo today.
Zhao Qing Tong walked out of the frame and asked in a gentle voice, “What’s the matter, Xiao Ran?”
“When can Xiao Ran go to the amusement park?” The little boy’s voice was immature and his pronunciation was unclear, it sounded like he was only five or six years old. “Brother Ji Wei said it’s really fun there, but he said I can’t go. Why can’t Xiao Ran go?”
There was a long period of silence in the video.
“Mom, Mommy?” The little boy seemed to panic. “Why did you cry? Did I do something wrong?”
“…No, Xiao Ran didn’t do anything wrong, Xiao Ran is the best. Mommy just got a little hurt from cutting her hand.”
There were a few puffs of breath and he could hear the boy working hard to exhale. “Huuu, Mommy, don’t cry, pain pain fly away…”
Ten seconds later, the woman walked back to the camera. By now, her eyes had turned red and she covered her mouth to prevent a sob from leaking out. Her hands shook as she reached out to turn off the recording.
With her demeanor, no one could put the label of a vicious mistress on her.
The screen turned dark, but within a few seconds, another scene appeared. This time, it was no longer a recording, but a TV series.
It was Zhao Qing Tong’s first TV series as the third female lead. She had less than two episodes in total.
Ji Ran hadn’t watched this recording for several years. Apart from him, no one had ever watched it, including Ji Guozheng.
Normally, Ji Ran wouldn’t have allowed another person to see it, but it was different this time. He was physically and mentally drained. With the alcohol in his system, he didn’t want to move and neither did he have the energy to drive the other person away.
Qin Man said, “She’s beautiful.”
His words were not flattery, Zhao Qing Tong’s facial features were indeed outstanding, the kind she could rely on to make a living. Compared to Ji Guozheng, Ji Ran resembled Zhao Qing Tong more.
“What’s the point of being beautiful?” Ji Ran drawled, “she was weak and foolish, only knowing to be at the mercy of others. Beauty is simply a curse.”
Qin Man tactfully refuted, “At that time, the Internet was underdeveloped, so there weren’t as many channels to seek help. Sometimes, obedience is more useful than resistance.”
A bottle of wine was stuffed into his hand. Ji Ran’s expression was filled with annoyance. “So talkative, can this shut you up?”
Qin Man smiled. When he was about to take it, he saw Ji Ran snatch it back. He put the bottle into his mouth and used his teeth to effortlessly pry open the cap before stuffing it back.
Ji Ran used the remote control to turn off the recording and casually started a modern TV drama.
The two drank in silence for a while before Ji Ran asked, “What you said earlier… aren’t you afraid of Ji Wei’s retaliation? I won’t be responsible if he drives you out of the company or wants to break off his friendship with you.”
“So what? My boss is you, not him, so it’s not considered unemployment.” Qin Man was extremely open-minded. “I don’t need him as a friend.”
These words obviously stabbed Ji Ran’s sensitive spot. His face turned a little dark as he continued to drink.
He actually drank a lot, his head was dizzy, but he didn’t want to sleep.
“Those things on the Internet will be over soon. Don’t take it to heart.”
Ji Ran was stunned. “You’ve seen it?”
Qin Man was much more idle than he thought. At the very least, he still had a Weibo account that was accumulating dust over the years, but Qin Man didn’t even have a Weibo account. Ji Ran had thought that Qin Man was unaware of what happened today.
“Do you believe what they said?” Ji Ran suddenly turned his head and asked him.
Qin Man replied, “No.”
Ji Ran snorted and tilted his head as if he finally couldn’t endure it. “Those idiots, hiccup…If I really took drugs, how could there be so many people who know about it?!”
“I didn’t even know that I had so many friends and relatives. Why are they all popping up now?”
“They even said I bullied others in school?” Recalling the coldness and isolation he experienced at school, Ji Ran laughed with mockery. “Who did I bully?”
He narrowed his eyes and abruptly turned his head to stare at Qin Man. His face seemed to overlap with the cold and expressionless person in his memory.
Then, he laughed with sudden realisation. “Oh, Qin Man, I did bully you… Go ahead and curse me. Even if others can’t, you can. I’ll register a Weibo account for you, you can go to the media, it’ll help you to make a lot of money.”
Qin Man smiled thinly and asked, “Am I really the only one you ever bullied?”
Ji Ran put his whole body weight on the footboard of the bed. Thinking that Qin Man was really going to expose him, his tone turned nasty. “Yeah, what about it?”
“Why did you bully me?” Qin Man asked.
“You were arrogant, so you deserved it.” Ji Ran hiccuped, “I should be the one to ask you, why do you use your nostrils to look at people…don’t you have any culture?”
Qin Man propped his elbow on the edge of the bed and rested his chin. He patiently prompted, “Just because of this?”
Ji Ran stared at him, the corners of his eyes turning red. It was unclear if it was because he was drunk or if it were tear marks. Giving up his defense, he confessed bitterly, “…No.”
“Who asked you to have such a good life?”
Qin Man laughed helplessly. What kind of reasoning was this?
“You clearly have a worse temper than me. At the very most, you are a little smarter than me, a little taller, and born luckier than me…” Ji Ran continued, “But why do I have to be targeted and ridiculed every day while your life is smooth-sailing all the way?”
If others had heard, they’d have picked a fight with Ji Ran by now.
But Qin Man didn’t. He simply followed along. “Well, it shouldn’t… That’s why my retribution is here. Aren’t I bankrupt?”
Unexpectedly, after hearing this, Ji Ran was startled and his tears suddenly began to fall.
Qin Man was caught off guard by his tears. “What’s wrong…”
“Why did you go bankrupt?” Ji Ran cried and cursed, “I’ve already let you go, but why are you still suffering? Can’t you just live well?”
Qin Man wiped his tears and comforted him. “I’m perfectly fine now.”
“Bullshit. You have to obey my every word now, that’s not good!”
No one understood why Ji Ran had provoked Qin Man back in high school.
Only Ji Ran knew that it was because of ugly jealousy.
He was like a monster who survived between cracks. Everything he did was wrong.
Meanwhile, Qin Man was born to be the proud son of heaven. Respected by everyone, even a cold look was like alms. But Ji Ran was a beggar on the street.
So he started picking on Qin Man by stealing his textbook, tampering with his speech, sending spam messages to his number… These little tricks were finally returned by Qin Man, one by one.
Until one day, Qin Man stopped retaliating. No matter how much he did, it would be easily resolved and then there would be no other news.
Ji Ran originally wanted to question Qin Man and ask why he didn’t retaliate. Unexpectedly, as soon as he followed Qin Man into the school grove, he stumbled upon a confession scene.
The student who confessed to Qin Man was a boy who was good at studying. He was fair and cute, blushing as he told Qin Man about his crush.
Ji Ran was startled.
At that time, it would definitely be the most advantageous for him to report it.
But he didn’t expect it at all. All he thought about was – how can a man confess to another man? Did Qin Man like men too? Would Qin Man accept his confession?
His mind was blank and he only had one thought left in the end.
If this matter was discovered, Qin Man was screwed.
So, with a dark face, he dragged his heavy feet to turn back to exit and ran away from the young couple who’d come here to get more intimate.
After that incident, Ji Ran never looked for Qin Man again. The little fight between the two of them was like a dream. It was like it had never happened.
Qin Man didn’t know what he was thinking. He inched closer and prepared to speak.
“Go and sign up for a Weibo account.” Ji Ran raised a hand to wipe away his tears. His face was clean and there was nothing left. “Go tell them that I bullied you in school and join them in scolding me.”
Qin Man laughed. “Why should I?”
“Get revenge on me. Isn’t now the best time? We have already signed the contract.” Ji Ran’s cheeks were flushed from the alcohol and his words were messy. “I already paid you the money so it’s too late to regret it. If you go, there’ll at least be one person speaking the truth, so I won’t feel wronged.”
What was this logic?
Qin Man raised his eyebrows and said, “Do you really want me to go?”
Ji Ran exploded. “Go! How can I stop you?”
Qin Man didn’t speak. He was silent for a while before he suddenly reached out his hand to pull the other person closer. Ji Ran was unprepared, and thus, fell on him.
Ji Ran’s cheek pressed against Qin Man’s Adam’s apple. He was taken aback and wanted to continue talking nonsense.
“I’m not going.” Qin Man said, “You didn’t bully me.”
“Do you really think those little tricks can be considered bullying?” Qin Man smiled.
Ji Ran paused. “…Who the hell are you looking down on?”
“I’m not looking down on you.” Qin Man said, “If you really want to bully someone in the future, you have to be more ruthless.”
Ji Ran struggled to get out of his arms.
“Qin Man, don’t pretend to be good after I let you off so lightly…”
Ji Ran was already drunk. With a red face, he frowned to adopt a fierce expression.
Qin Man’s heart was tickled. “Let’s talk about now. If you really hate me, you should lock me up at home and prevent me from going anywhere. You have to be rougher with me in bed and it’s best if you left behind some sort of injury. …What’s the point of holding me while crying?”
Ji Ran was so drunk that he didn’t realise the problem with those words. “Do you think I don’t dare!”
Qin Man looked at him calmly while provoking, “You don’t.”
Ji Ran took a deep breath and stared at him ferociously. He suddenly leaned forward and bit Qin Man’s lips hard without mercy.
Qin Man: “…”
Ji Ran returned to his original position. “Now you know that it hurts?!”
This time, it was Qin Man’s turn to suck in a deep breath.
…It had been so many years since they graduated. How can this person be even cuter than before?
He resisted the urge to swallow Ji Ran whole by replacing it with mouthfuls of alcohol in an attempt to calm the raging fire in his heart.
After a moment, he gave up struggling and was just about to lead his junior brother to do other bad things.
Unexpectedly, he saw Ji Ran fast asleep on the ground with a tilted head. His lips were slightly parted, looking extremely defenseless.
Qin Man was silent for a long while before he sighed helplessly.
Supporting himself with one hand, he leaned forward and stole a kiss. Then, he gently picked up the other person and tucked him into bed.
T/n: A heart-breaking chapter, but not Qin Man trying to fool Ji Ran into locking him up… and leading him to do bad things huh