Xu Yiming stomped hard on his foot. “You will damn well let go of me!”
Getting stomped on made Chu Zhao grimace so hard his features lost shape. His stubbornness reared its head. “I f*cking will not!”
Both of them glared at each other with fire in their eyes.
On the other side, Xiang Wenxun and Tao Le were done fighting.
Xiang Wenxun bent down and picked up the discarded clothes from the floor and dressed methodically. He said to Tao Le, who sat bruised and beaten on the floor, “Let Jie accompany you to the medical room.”
Tao Le immediately swallowed every word of dissent.
Xiang Wenxun tilted his chin toward Jie. “You don’t have anything to do tonight anyway, so go.”
Jie’s index finger twitched.
Jiang Xueyan hurriedly said, “I’m the one who has nothing to do. I’ll go.”
Xiang Wenxun raised his hand, causing the smile to fade from her face. “I have something to discuss with you.”
Jiang Xueyan looked at Jie worriedly.
Jie slowly put his twitching fingers into his pant pocket and used his other hand to help Tao Le up.
Tao Le felt honored beyond belief and slipped a couple of times before standing up. He looked at Xiang Wenxun with gratitude, like a child toward his father.
Xu Yiming broke off his staring contest with Chu Zhao. He turned around and said, “I’ve got nothing to do. I’ll take him.”
Xiang Wenxun continued, “I have something for you too.”
Xu Yiming’s lips spasmed and he averted his eyes unhappily.
Wang Xiaoming watched Tao Le and Jie leave and had no idea why he got called here. Then he saw Chu Zhao continually giving him meaningful glances.
Wait, did Xiang Wenxun beat Tao Le up because Tao Le was drunk last night? But Tao Le didn’t do anything?
Wang Xiaoming walked over to Xiang Wenxun in a state of utter confusion and asked quietly, “President Xiang, you didn’t beat him up just because of me right?”
Xiang Wenxun’s eyes glinted and he said calmly, “Do you feel appeased now?”
It really was because of him?!
Wang Xiaoming didn’t know whether to feel happy or guilty. He said awkwardly, “He didn’t do anything to me. He was just drunk.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Xiang Wenxun reached up and patted Wang Xiaoming’s hair.
Wang Xiaoming was stunned.
For as long as he could remember, nobody had stroked his hair like that. Even Chang Haitao had only occasionally given him a pat on the shoulder. As Xiang Wenxun’s palm withdrew, Wang Xiaoming realized that in the short span of three seconds, he’d grown attached to the warmth and gentleness of those hands.
Jiang Xueyan wasn’t one to wear her heart on her sleeve. Though she was surprised, she didn’t show it.
Xu Yiming had seen this type of thing happen often and didn’t realize there was anything to be surprised about.
In comparison to their calm, Sharky’s control was a bit weaker. Those not-so-small eyes widened to the limits and he looked as if he had seen a ghost.
Xiang Wenxun casually flicked dust off his clothes and said to Wang Xiaoming with a smile, “Let’s eat dinner together today.”
His smile had the magic to make Wang Xiaoming nod unconsciously and agree, “Okay.”
Xiang Wenxun stroked Wang Xiaoming’s hair once more and then walked into the elevator with Jiang Xueyan and Xu Yiming.
Chu Zhao waved a hand at Wang Xiaoming, who was still staring in the direction of the elevator. “You can’t even see their shadows. Stop staring.”
Wang Xiaoming jerked awake and said shyly, “Director Chu.”
Chu Zhao sighed, “I called you here to put out the fire. Who knew you’d stand by and watch it burn?”
Wang Xiaoming’s face turned even redder.
“Nevermind, go work.” Xu Yiming had put all his force behind that stomp and the back of Chu Zhao’s feet still tingled. Chu Zhao waved a hand at Sharky.
Sharky understood and walked over to support Chu Zhao.
Chu Zhao was about to leave when Wang Xiaoming blocked his path. “What is it?” His nerves immediately tensed.
Wang Xiaoming observed Chu Zhao’s face and asked cautiously, “I want to do something for real.”
Chu Zhao answered expressionlessly, “Understood. If this happens again in the future, you’ll be the first person I remember. I’ll definitely give you another chance to do your part.”
Wang Xiaoming murmured self-consciously, “That’s not what I meant. I just feel that I’m getting paid for not doing anything…”
“Don’t think that breaking up fights is not important,” Chu Zhao immediately interrupted. “The safety and stability of a team is of the utmost importance. Besides, both of them are leaders. Do you understand how important it is for a company to have a unified and stable team of executives? If the executives are in disarray, how much chaos will that bring to the company? Reflect on this and then come tell me when you’ve understood the importance.”
Wang Xiaoming was utterly distracted by what he said. Only after Chu Zhao had completely disappeared did he murmur quietly, “How important?”
Baal said sarcastically behind him, “So important that you may as well not consider it.”
“…” Wang Xiaoming hung his head.
After a while, Baal didn’t hear a retort from him and asked in frustration, “What are you thinking?”
“Nothing.” Wang Xiaoming’s voice was low and quiet. He walked dejectedly toward his office.
Baal yanked hard on him and Wang Xiaoming fell into Baal’s arms as he stumbled.
Others might not be able to see him, but Baal was a real thing for Wang Xiaoming. Capable of being seen and being touched.
Wang Xiaoming felt the strong beats of Baal’s heart in his chest. It was steady like a metronome 1The raw has “定海神针” (literally: the needle that calmed the seas), which is a reference to the weapon that the Monkey King from the [i]Journey of the West[/i] uses. It’s called a “needle” but it’s essentially a staff that shrinks and expands at the user’s will. and calmed his own anxiousness and regrets.
“How long are you planning on staying there?” Baal’s voice impatiently sounded from above him.
Wang Xiaoming jerked out of his fantasies and immediately backed off.
It was frustrating when he was close and even more frustrating when he was far away. Baal didn’t understand his own feelings and decided to blame it all on Wang Xiaoming. “You can’t even walk right. You really fail at everything you do.”
Wang Xiaoming felt like someone had violently slammed a fist against his chest and all the negative emotions welled up. “It’s all my fault. Otherwise President Xiang wouldn’t be fighting with Tao Le.”
Baal laughed coldly, “You really think Xiang Wenxun fought because of you?”
“He didn’t?” Wang Xiaoming looked up in surprise.
“The only people who knew Tao Le wouldn’t let you go after he got drunk are you, Tao Le, Jie, and Xu Yiming. Who do you think would tell Xiang Wenxun?”
Wang Xiaoming thought about it and asked hesitantly, “Xu Yiming?”
Baal gave him an unhappy glance. “It’s not like Xu Yiming knows about you and Xiang Wenxun. Was he that bored?”
“Then… Tao Le himself?”
“Why not Jie?”
“I don’t think he’s that kind of person,” Wang Xiaoming said and then continued in surprise, “You think it’s him?”
“No.” Baal answered, “The answer is that Xiang Wenxun doesn’t even know what happened last night.”
“But…” Wang Xiaoming thought back to his conversation with Xiang Wenxun and realized that throughout it all, Xiang Wenxun never once admitted that he was sticking up for Wang Xiaoming. It had all been Wang Xiaoming’s wishful thinking guided by Xiang Wenxun’s words.
Baal asked, “Now you see?”
Wang Xiaoming slowly nodded.
“This means you’re just stupid and brain-dead.”
“…” Wang Xiaoming asked, “So if it’s not because of me, then why did President Xiang and Tao Le get into a fight?”
“Curious?” Baal asked.
Wang Xiaoming recognized Baal’s unfriendly attitude and chuckled drily, “Just a little bit.”
“Didn’t he invite you to dinner? Can’t you ask him yourself?”
Wang Xiaoming was puzzled. “Are you upset?”
Baal paused. “Why would I be upset?”
“… Right, why would you be upset?”
The veins in Baal’s forehead popped. “I’m not upset.”
Wang Xiaoming looked quizzically at him.
Baal reached out his arm and waved his hand. The paintings hanging on either side of the hallway flew into the air and struck each other before falling onto the ground.
Wang Xiaoming watched in stunned surprise.
Baal leisurely patted his cuffs back in place. “See, I’m not upset at all.”
Xiang Wenxun took Wang Xiaoming to dinner at the Silver House’s guest restaurant. It was several steps above the employee cafeteria in sophistication.
The pianist played passionately behind the grand piano. The music flowed along like the stream in the man-made pool in the cafeteria.
But the image of the flying paintings was engraved into Wang Xiaoming so that even in such an elegant setting, the sound of paintings banging into each other still resonated in his mind.
“Not to your taste?” Xiang Wenxun’s gaze landed on the barely-touched dinner plate before Wang Xiaoming.
Wang Xiaoming hurriedly put the meat on his fork in his mouth. “No, just not used to it.”
Xiang Wenxun smiled and said, “Then we’ll come every day until you’re used to it.”
“But I’m in uniform.” Though the uniform he wore was a different color than the one the servers in this cafeteria wore, they were of the same style. So whenever the other waiters or guests looked over, he wished he could disappear into a hole.
“If you mind that,” Xiang Wenxun said slowly, “I’ll present you with a set of formal wear before we come next time.”
Wang Xiaoming rushed to say, “That’s not what I meant.”
“Actually, I really want to see what you look like in formal wear.” Xiang Wenxun’s gaze looked him up and down.
Wang Xiaoming was so nervous even the hairs on his arms stood up.
“Hmph.” Baal snorted loudly.
Wang Xiaoming’s hand trembled and the fork clanged against the plate, making a huge noise.
Everyone looked over.
Wang Xiaoming’s face turned redder than the red wine in his glass.
“Is Mr. Baal around?” Xiang Wenxun suddenly changed the topic.
Wang Xiaoming looked at Baal and nodded.
“He seems to be joined at the hip with you,” Xiang Wenxun remarked off-handedly.
Wang Xiaoming answered, “Not joined at the hip. Just not more than five meters apart.”
“Five meters?” Xiang Wenxun looked over at the point where Wang Xiaoming had just glanced at. “In other words, no matter what happens, Mr. Baal can’t be more than five meters away from you?”
Baal squinted his eyes.
Though Wang Xiaoming thought the question was a bit strange, he still answered, “Yes.”
Xiang Wenxun swirled the wine in his glass. “That would limit my moves.”
“What move—” Wang Xiaoming couldn’t finish his sentence because Xiang Wenxun’s eyes made his meaning clear.
Baal raised an eyebrow.
Xiang Wenxun, along with his wine glass, disappeared amidthis air of intimacy.
“How could you…” Wang Xiaoming was terrified and hurriedly glanced around.
Luckily the lights were dim and nobody saw this weird scene. If someone glanced over occasionally, they’d assume that Xiang Wenxun had left of his own volition.
Baal sat down unhurriedly in Xiang Wenxun’s original seat and said lightly, “I got tired of standing.”
- 1The raw has “定海神针” (literally: the needle that calmed the seas), which is a reference to the weapon that the Monkey King from the [i]Journey of the West[/i] uses. It’s called a “needle” but it’s essentially a staff that shrinks and expands at the user’s will.