\"I asked you to call me before you get here so I can come wait for you.\" Lan Haiyang scolded Cheng Jian when he found him sitting alone at the bus stop. Hugging his body. \"Have you been waiting long?\"
\"It's okay. I didn't want to impose.\" Cheng Jian said as he stood up to follow Lan Haiyang.
Lan Haiyang couldn't believe his ears. His high maintenance, overbearing friend had just sounded like a considerate person. \"What? What did you just say?\"
Cheng Jian smiled at Lan Haiyang's facial expression. \"I'm learning a lot of new things at my job.\"
\"You... Sell popcorn at the cinema. Other than how to make popcorn, what could you possibly learn at your job?\"
\"Just... In the one month, I've worked at the Cinema, I've encountered people from all walks of life. Most of them are unbelievably rude, obnoxious and downright unpleasant. They look down on me just because I'm a salesperson.\"
\"Really?\" Lan Haiyang asked in a sarcastic tone.
\"Yes. You wouldn't believe it.\" Cheng Jian replied. Lan Haiyang's sarcasm lost on him. He continued, \"Anyway, it made me realize that I myself may have been rude, obnoxious and unpleasant to other people—most especially salespeople—once or twice.\"
\"Once or twice, huh?\"
\"Yes. And well, being treated so poorly by other people has made me realize I shouldn't treat other people poorly myself. So, I'm working on changing myself.\"
Lan Haiyang smiled in approval.\"Good for you.\"
\"I know. Come to think of it. I didn't really realize before that I wasn't supposed to treat people that way. I was spoilt rotten as a child, you know? Even after my dad passed away, I never really experienced any hardships until now.\"
\"But... You're having fun, right? That was what you told me the last time we talked.\"
\"Well, at first, I was. But now that I've run out of savings, even eating has become a problem.\"
\"You know... If things are too difficult for you, you can come back to Jiaxiang or even The Little Club. I'm sure I can make arrangements for you.\"
\"I don't want to go back to Jiaxiang, Haiyang. And I can't work in Beijing. I'm trying to start over. How can I do that if I start running into people from my past?\"
\"I understand. It's all up to you anyway.\"
\"Well, yeah. But do you hear anything from Big Boss? I hope he's not too bothered about my debt.\"
\"Boss went with me to talk to the collector. He extended your loan terms by a couple of months. You should be fine until then.\"
\"The thought of him coming after me is profoundly scary.\"
\"It is. But I bet he has bigger fish to fry at the moment. And he'll have to go over my dead body to get to you.\"
Cheng Jian chuckled at that. \"Like he cares anything about you.\"
\"He doesn't. But he cares about Boss. Who cares greatly about me. You see the connection, don't you?\"
\"I do.\" Cheng Jian sighed. \"If only I got a chance to seduce Big Boss in the past. I wouldn't be so scared of my own shadow now.\"
They both burst out laughing at the same time.
When the laughter ceased, Lan Haiyang shook his head lightly and complained. \"I don't believe you had to work today. It's New Year's Eve. They should let you take a rest. Perhaps, go spend time with your family.\"
Cheng Jian chuckled. \"What family, Haiyang?\"
\"I was being hypothetical. I mean, if you wanted to, you should be able to go see your family.\"
\"Well... You can go. But your job won't be waiting for you to come back.\"
Lan Haiyang mumbled to himself. \"So much work for such little pay.\"
He took Cheng Jian by the hand and led him towards an off-white colored condo. They entered an elevator and clicked the button that led to the seventh floor.
\"Why did you even rent a place in Tianjin? It's so far from where you work.\" Cheng Jian spoke.
\"Well, it isn't my permanent place. It's just somewhere I come when I want to get away from all of the mess in Beijing.\"
\"Not fair.\" Cheng Jian pouted.
\"I have to share a room with three other people. Not an apartment, Haiyang. A room. And you have some vacation apartment.\"
\"Is it that bad?\"
\"You have no idea. God, I was so relieved when you invited me to your place. At least, I can breathe easy tonight.\"
Lan Haiyang led Cheng Jian put of the elevator and down a hall. Opening a door, he said, \"Here, come in.\"
Cheng Jian's eyes brightened in delight as he surveyed the apartment. Every piece of furniture in the living room to every painting hanging on the wall seemed to have an expensive story to tell. It had been so long since he had experienced luxury on such a personal level. \"Wow! This place is so nice.\" He complimented.
Before Lan Haiyang could reply, he hurried towards a couch and lay on it. The couch was so soft, it seemed to caress his body. In a voice that sounded very much like a moan, he asked, \"Can I crash on this couch?\"
Lan Haiyang scratched his head. He hadn't invited his friend over so he could sleep on a couch. Sarcastically, he said, \"If you like this couch, you'll love the bed even more. And there's even two of it. You can sleep on the one you prefer.\"
Cheng Jian shrugged up. \"God, Haiyang. Let me stay with you for the rest of my life.\"
\"Are you asking my hand in marriage? Because I will marry you.\"
Cheng Jian cocked his head to the right. \"If that's what it takes to be able to sit on this couch every day. Then we should get married.\"
Lan Haiyang chuckled. \"You can stay, of course.\"
\"I... I was kidding.\" Cheng Jian pointed out.
Lan Haiyang shook his head. \"I wasn't. You should move in here with me.\"
\"I can't do that. I wouldn't want to impose like that.\"
Lan Haiyang smiled. New considerate Cheng Jian isn't so bad. \"It's not an imposition, I promise. I could really use the company.\"
\"But you rented this place for privacy, didn't you?\"
\"I can still have privacy when I need it. There are two bedrooms.\"
\"Oh! Is that so?\"
\"Yes. You should totally move in.\"
Cheng Jian sighed. \"Even if I did, I wouldn't be able to afford the rent.\"
\"You don't have to. I don't even know how much renting this place costs. Boss is the one who takes care of that.\"
\"You lucky thing.\"
Lan Haiyang smiled. \"You know, If you're not worried about paying rent, you can quickly save up more money to pay your loan.\"
Cheng Jian nodded in agreement. \"Haiyang, you're a good friend. We should totally have sex after I take a shower.\"
\"I miss having sex... We should do it. Together.\"
Lan Haiyang raised a brow at that proposal. \"How long has it been for you?\"
\"More than two months definitely.\"
\"You've never gone that long without it?\"
\"Of course not. I mean, I did two weeks when my mum was sick, but that's about it.\"
\"I guess your search for a lover hasn't been fruitful yet then.\"
\"It feels like a waste of time.\" Cheng Jian said with a pout.
\"No-one flirts with you?\"
Lan Haiyang found that especially difficult to believe. \"Are you saying, no-one has asked for your number before, and no-one has asked if you can go out for dinner or something?\"
\"People have. Boys and girls alike. But I always say no. I can't spend my off-days having lunch or dinner with people I don't know.\"
\"Jesus, Big Brother Cheng,\" Lan Haiyang said mockingly. \"So if no-one tells you straight to your face, you won't understand that you're being asked out?\"
\"How does that work exactly? If you want to ask someone out, you can't do it without being direct sometimes, can you?\"
\"God, you're so dumb sometimes.\"
\"I don't understand.\"
\"Of course, you don't.\" With a sigh, Lan Haiyang said, \"I have a great idea on how you can meet people interested in a relationship.\"
\"People who'll be direct about what they want from you?\"
\"Yes. You'll know when someone's asking you out. Because they'll actually ask you out.\"
\"Great. What's your idea?\"
\"Oh! I've never thought of that before.\"
\"Well, that's why two heads are better than one.\"
Cheng Jian smiled coyly. \"If this really works, then why haven't you tried this?\"
\"Because I... Think I like someone already.\"
\"Who do you like?\"
\"Someone that is so dumb, he doesn't understand I might like him. Despite everything I say to him or do for him.\"
\"Sounds like an idiot to me. Why do you like her then?\"
\"He is an idiot. But I don't mind it. Moreover, he's trying to see other people now. I'm letting him do that while I figure out my feelings.\"
\"Oh! What if she meets someone she likes?\"
\"That's okay. I believe no-one would be able to stand his dumbness at the end of the day. He'll just fool around for a while and come back to me later. Maybe before I figure out my feelings for him.\"
\"That's a mean thing to say about the girl you want to be with.\"
\"It's a girl, isn't it? You told me that you want a normal life at the end of the day. With a girl. Like in those romance novels. Or was it movies you said?\"
\"Well, I thought... You know what? I'm just impressed you can actually remember something. Even if it's something you can use as ammunition later.\"
\"You know, Haiyang. Sometimes, I just don't understand half the things you say.\"
Lan Haiyang rolled his eyes. \"Of course, you don't. You just go take your bath, okay? I'll open a dating profile for you.\"
Cheng Jian smiled. \"Thank you. You're the best friend in the world.\"
\"And you're the dumbest person in the world.\" Lan Haiyang muttered to himself.
Xiao Maiguo followed the scent of cigarettes to the balcony. He found Yun Peng sitting there, a cigarette in mouth.
Without a huff, he snapped the cigarette out of Yun Peng's hand and threw it from the balcony into the city beneath the hotel.
Yun Peng cursed. \"Fuck. How many times have I asked you not to do that?\"
\"And how many times do I have to tell you that I don't like it when you smoke? Didn't you hear that smoking kills? If you die, how will I ever live without you?\"
Yun Peng shook his head but said nothing.
Taking a seat beside Yun Peng, Xiao Maiguo said in a subtle tone. \"I wasn't expecting you tonight, you know?\"
\"Perhaps, because you told me you couldn't come the one hundred times I asked you.\"
\"You said you wanted to be with me tonight. How can I resist that?\"
\"So those words mean something to you? You must hear them from your lovers every other day.\" Xiao Maiguo said cheekily.
\"I don't have other lovers, Xiao Maiguo. You've said it so much, I'm starting to think you actually believe it.\"
\"Of course, I believe it. You used to be at my beck and call before. Now, you just pay attention to me when it suits you. That must be because you have at least one other lover.\"
\"If I do have someone else, considering what you did, would it be unfounded?\"
\"Yun Peng...\" Xiao Maiguo pouted.
\"You should stop worrying about me having other lovers because I don't. Moreover, I'm not like you who has sex with everything they see. I only sleep with people I have affection for.\"
\"So, the only reason you don't have another lover is because you don't like anyone?\"
\"Basically. And it's good you know this. If I met someone someday, whom I like just a little bit, I will sleep with that person.\"
Xiao Maiguo shook his head. \"Do what you want, Yun Peng. But don't let me catch you.\"
\"Because you'll ruin my life?\" Yun Peng's voice had an amusement to it.
\"Well, I'll kill you first.\"
Xiao Maiguo stood up from his seat. Straddling Yun Peng, he wrapped his arms around his neck. In a raspy voice, he whispered in his ears. \"You should know it turns me on when you say things like that.\"
Yun Peng held Xiao Maiguo's waist firmly to stop him from straddling him. \"Because you're a sick bastard.\"
\"I am a sick bastard, alright. But that's why you like me, isn't it?\" Xiao Maiguo leaned in and kissed Yun Peng lightly on the lips. He continued, \"It's also the reason I'm so confident you won't fall for someone else. Because you only like sick bastards and my kind is very rare.\"