If Wang Xiaoming had a mirror in his hands at that second, he would have been able to see the giant question mark on his face.
But since he didn’t have a mirror in his hands, Jie was the only person to see it.
Jie’s gaze paused for three seconds on Wang Xiaoming’s stunned expression and then his face lit up in a friendly smile. “Can I come in?”
Wang Xiaoming had met him a few times and each time it had been awkward. They were either bumping into each other or Jie was hitting someone. This was a rare occasion of normality and he wasn’t used to it. It took him a while before he remembered to step aside and say, “Come in.”
When Jie stepped in and sat down, Wang Xiaoming turned around to pour tea and discovered that, at some point during the conversation, Baal had stepped into the hallway and was glaring in displeasure at the back of Jie’s head.
Hadn’t he been playing a game?
Wang Xiaoming conveyed his confusion with his eyes.
Baal hmphed, “Do you think there are only five meters between the study and the door?”
So he had accidentally pulled Baal over when he opened the door just then?
Wang Xiaoming walked awkwardly into the kitchen to make tea.
Xiang Wenxun might have been considerate but clearly he hadn’t been considerate enough to prepare tea leaves.
So Wang Xiaoming dug through everything and only managed to pour a cup of water.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have much yet.” He put the cup down on the coffee table and tried to guess what Jie wanted.
Jie seemed to understand his train of thought and said quietly, “I’m here to apologize.”
Wang Xiaoming paused and then remembered what happened in the stairwell. He hurried to reassure Jie, “Don’t worry about it. That was just… it wasn’t any trouble.”
“There was also last night.” Jie’s brows were lowered such that he seemed to be enveloped in a fog of gloom. The fog was so heavy it almost suffocated Wang Xiaoming.
“Tao Le and I, we brought you a lot of trouble. Sorry.”
Though it wasn’t obvious, Wang Xiaoming still caught the slight tremble in Jie’s voice as he said Tao Le’s name.
Wang Xiaoming wanted more than anything to say that it wasn’t trouble, but he heard Baal give a cold laugh and say, “If you know you’re troublesome, you should toss yourself in the trash.”
Wang Xiaoming turned around subconsciously and asked, “How do you throw yourself in the trash can?” He had a hard time imagining the sequence of events, even for a fallen angel.
Baal pursed his lips and marched right back to the study to continue struggling with Dark.
Jie looked silently at Wang Xiaoming and asked, when Wang Xiaoming turned his gaze back, “What did you just say?”
“Me?” Wang Xiaoming really wanted to go into the kitchen and knock himself out with a pan. It had been so long and he still hadn’t learned to resist talking to Baal in front of others. He scratched his head and stuttered, “I said uh… how to throw trash in the trash can. Ah! Yes! That’s right, right, right… throwing trash is very, very hard.” He had never been good at telling lies and a lie like this was his limit.
Jie looked at him unblinkingly and the light in his eyes gradually dimmed.
“Did I say something wrong?” Wang Xiaoming shifted uneasily in his seat.
“No.” Jie closed his eyes and a bitter smile rose to his lips. It was more bitter than a bittermelon. “You’re right.”
Wang Xiaoming looked utterly confused.
“Many things should definitely be thrown in the trash.” Jie’s voice was so low that it might as well have been a murmur.
Wang Xiaoming didn’t know whether he was supposed to respond or not because to him, Jie seemed to be doing pretty well answering his own questions.
Jie slowly opened his eyes and his beautiful eyes had absorbed all of the fog of gloom. He slowly said, one word at a time, “If you were first abandoned by your lover and then forced into doing things you despised by your lover’s family…” He said it so calmly that, aside from the rise and fall of the words, there was no change to his voice. “Now he’s back and trying to do everything for you. Would you still forgive that lover?”
Wang Xiaoming thought this question was deep. He gave the matter some serious thought for some time and, in the end, was forced to imagine himself playing that role.
Abandoned by one’s lover—he could substitute in Chang Haitao for the lover. If it was looked at in a certain way, Chang Haitao did abandon him.
Forced into doing many unwanted things by the lover’s family—Baal. He could play all the roles in a family by himself. Baal forced him to leave that management training company, forced him to come to the Silver House, forced him to live at the Silver House, and forced him to love Xiang Wenxun—Baal had forced him to do a lot of things that he wasn’t willing to do.
Now he was back and was trying desperately to make it up to you—out of everyone, only Xiang Wenxun barely qualified. He helped arrange a dorm for him, provided a job for him, and also promoted him.
Wang Xiaoming covered his face. Did Jie mean for him to combine all three of them into one single lover?
Wouldn’t that be too chaotic?!
Chang Haitao, Baal, and Xiang Wenxun’s face cycled through his mind like a merry-go-around.
Jie saw his face crumple and had to say, “I’m just asking. You don’t have to answer.”
Wang Xiaoming pressed against his temple. He calmed himself down for a bit and then said, “Actually I think that everyone is different. Uh, it’s like some people like spending money but others like saving money. Your question, some might choose to forgive and some wouldn’t… the most important thing is whether that person could forgive.” Afterward, he cautiously glanced over at Jie. “I’m just mumbling to myself. It probably doesn’t make sense…”
“I don’t know.” Jie looked calmly out the window at the clouds passing by.
Though Wang Xiaoming had already guessed the protagonist in the story just then was Jie, hearing him confirm it was still a shock. He asked hesitantly, “That lover was Tao Le?”
“… Yes.” Jie answered lightly, “Tao Le, ran away1“Tao Le, ran away” is likely a pun on his name as the author wrote “ran away” as tao le.… He chose to run away, abroad, during the hardest time of our lives.”
Wang Xiaoming fell silent because he thought of Chang Haitao. But from their perspectives, Chang Haitao was the victim and not the perpetrator.
The gates of Jie’s memories opened and his hands trembled slightly as he recounted, “Then my father owed people debts…”
Wang Xiaoming watched in shock as Jie’s entire body started shaking violently and all the blood rushed out of his face.
He hurriedly grabbed Jie’s shoulder and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Jie pushed him away forcefully and his chest moved up and down violently. He curled up on the sofa and took a long time to calm down. “I’m sorry.” He stood up shakily and said, “I need to get back.”
Wang Xiaoming’s hands hovered in midair, uncertain whether to support him or not. “You okay? Just now…”
“I’m fine.” Jie’s lips moved into a small smile and he walked toward the door.
Wang Xiaoming followed behind and watched as he staggered toward the door, opened it, and then closed it.
“Don’t tell me you’re pitying him?” Baal asked as he stood in the hallway with his arms crossed.
Wang Xiaoming turned around in surprise, “What are you doing out here?”
Baal said through clenched teeth, “I told you, the distance between the door and the study is more than five meters!” Did Wang Xiaoming ignore his words?!
Wang Xiaoming ducked his head.
“Everyone needs to be responsible for their own actions. He chose Tao Le on his own. He’s the one who liked him. Who’s to blame?” Baal was disgusted by Jie, who always looked like he was about to cry.
Wang Xiaoming gathered his courage and said in response, “Humans aren’t gods and it’s natural for us to make mistakes. Besides, human emotions aren’t something you can find at the supermarket, available for purchase whenever you want it. Sometimes it’s beyond your contr…” He slowly swallowed his words as Baal’s figure got closer and closer.
“Have you realized that recently you’ve become a lot more rebellious and your voice has gotten louder?” Baal smiled creepily. “Especially after I said I would try not to hit you.”
Wang Xiaoming tried to cover his head instinctively but as soon as he raised his arm, he caught sight of the cold glare in Baal’s eyes and lowered them again. He murmured haltingly, “I was just telling the truth.”
“Hmph, how can you not tell that the person was just here to win your pity so he can trick you into helping him in the future?”
Wang Xiaoming answered, “I don’t think he’s that kind of person.”
“Then what kind of person is he? The pitiable kind?”
Wang Xiaoming nodded.
“Then he’s already succeeded.” Baal snapped his fingers.
Wang Xiaoming’s body jerked back. He hadn’t forgotten that Baal had snapped his fingers and gotten rid of Tao Le last night.
Baal frowned. “What are you afraid of?”
“Afraid of you making me go away,” he answered truthfully.
If I could make you go away do you think I’d keep you around until now?!
Baal’s lips flattened into a line.
Ever since a devil king intruded into his life, Wang Xiaoming had gotten way better at reading subtle body language cues. As soon as he saw Baal’s lips thinning he knew he’d screwed up. He was about to turn around and leave when Baal yanked his entire body up.
Wang Xiaoming grasped at the air frantically and pulled at who-knows-what—
The door opened.
The open door revealed Chu Zhao’s startled face and his hand still hovering over the doorbell. “You…” He only managed to squeeze out one word before he couldn’t say anything anymore. Because Wang Xiaoming was floating in midair staring at him with his face turning beet-red.
Wang Xiaoming and Chu Zhao both swallowed. In that instant nobody could figure out a solution to this tense situation.
Baal suddenly let go.
Wang Xiaoming’s body shook as it landed on the ground. He let out a dry laugh and asked, “You looking for me?”
“Ah. You’re looking for me,” Chu Zhao parroted back.
Wang Xiaoming struggled to smile. “What is it?”
“Ah. What is it, eh?” This time Chu Zhao added an “eh.”
Wang Xiaoming laughed so hard that cold sweat gathered. “You didn’t see anything just now, right?”
“I didn’t see…“ Chu Zhao suddenly jerked away. He had heard that demons didn’t like to reveal their true self in front of mortals. If Wang Xiaoming found out that he had seen something, he might be killed to keep things a secret.
That thought made Chu Zhao’s body break into cold sweat as well.
Wang Xiaoming anxiously awaited what Chu Zhao would say next.
Suddenly Chu Zhao straightened his body and declared, “I’m sleepwalking.” Then he raised both arms so they were parallel to the ground in the classic zombie pose and slowly turned around and hopped back to his room.
Wang Xiaoming closed the door and collapsed against it. He reached up and wiped the sweat from his brows. After a long time he asked Baal, “So what did he come here for?”
Chu Zhao regretted it as soon as he got back to his room.
Even if the other person had been a demon, he shouldn’t have done something this stupid!
—Now he had really made a fool of himself as far as the demon knew.
- 1“Tao Le, ran away” is likely a pun on his name as the author wrote “ran away” as tao le.