Chapter 13 – One-Night Stand
On the way back home, a myriad of thoughts flooded Li Yiming’s mind. ‘This was the extent of what I can do. This isn’t a secret domain, after all. This is no place for me to be a judge, jury, and executioner. Heaven’s Laws ignores me, but there are still certain rules I need to follow.’
Back inside the restaurant, the way to deal with the thugs weighed on Li Yiming’s mind. He was not going to kill them, since there was an obvious difference between them and the mythical beasts found in domains. As for calling the police and going through the conventional procedures, he did not have that time nor the energy to spare. In the worse case scenario, there would be someone behind those thugs that he himself would not be able to handle.
In the end, Li Yiming settled for scaring the thugs into submission. It would be best if his scheme did work, but even if it did not, at least it would make the thugs think twice before extorting people again.
“Are you alright?” Fu Bo asked as he appeared in front of Li Yiming. He was still panting from his run, and the front pocket of his jacket was visibly stuffed full.
“You really went for the money?” Li Yiming pointed at the pocket. ‘There’s probably a lot more than five thousand in there.’
“Did they do anything to you? Why did they let you leave?” Fu Bo ignored Li Yiming’s question and fussed over Li Yiming to make sure that he was alright.
“I’m fine. We talked it out, me and the fat guy. They were just unhappy that they were awoken early in the morning. It was a prank to scare us. Once we cleared up the misunderstanding, they just let me leave and I didn’t even have to pay for the teapot. Did the other guy not tell you about it?” Li Yiming put his hand around Fu Bo’s shoulder and answered with a smile. Li Yiming could feel Fu Bo’s concern for him. He was now fully convinced that Fu Bo was simply an unlucky young man who had yet to know about his own fate as a guardian, and everything else was mere happenstance.
“No. He received a call and just took off. I was worried about you so I got the money and hurried here as fast as I could.” Fu Bo answered in between panting breaths and surprised yet happy about Li Yiming’s suddenly display of intimacy.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s all done and said. Come, let’s try something less fancy now. How about buns and fried dough sticks?” Li Yiming approached a street vendor and sat down on a stool. He pulled out a pair of bamboo chopsticks and rubbed one against another to remove the splinters.
“Three buns and two big bowls of wontons please!” Li Yiming called out in an over-the-top loud voice. “That order is for me. Get what you want, I’m starving.”
“A bun and a bowl of dumplings please.” Fu Bo looked at Li Yiming again to make sure that nothing was wrong with him. He finally smiled in relief and sat down facing Li Yiming.
A silver convertible sped past where the street vendor was, and, for some unknown reason, the car suddenly slowed down. The two passengers in the car turned their heads and looked at Li Yiming.
Li Yiming noticed their attention and raised his head with a bun still in his mouth. He saw two women in the car. The one who was driving had long hair and an air of elegance that reminded him of Qing Linglong, although she seemed more aloof and colder. The other one was Ji Xiaoqin.
‘Who is that woman?’ Li Yiming stared at the back of the car that was speeding away, a little confused.
Ying Mei was having the same question in her mind. She had a weird feeling when she saw Li Yiming. ‘This kid… Ji Xiaoqin seems to have some history with him. Her eyes are wandering around and she’s pretending to play with her phone.’
“Can we go to the mall together? I didn’t bring any clothing with me when I came back.” Ying Mei retracted her gaze back to the road and proposed to Ji Xiaoqin. ‘Forget it, I’ll just get someone to investigate him. He should live close enough if he’s eating breakfast here. My main mission is to watch Ji Xiaoqin. She is far too important for us.’
“Hmm… Oh, okay, yeah. I’m free.” Ji Xiaoqin answered half-heartedly as thoughts of Li Yiming filled up her mind once more.
“Hey, they left a long time ago.” Fu Bo joked when he saw Li Yiming’s dazed look. ‘I can’t blame him for that, these two were really beautiful.’
“What are you saying? She was my classmate back in college.” Li Yiming rolled his eyes at Fu Bo’s joke and rebutted. He took a bite at his bun and tried to think about something else.
“Your classmate? Keep bragging! A beauty like that, your classmate?” Fu Bo replied in disbelief.
“Beautiful, huh? They’re nothing compared to my girlfriend.”
“You have a girlfriend?” Fu Bo replied with his mouth full, convinced that Li Yiming lying to him.
“You don’t believe me?” Li Yiming was amused. He took out his phone and showed a picture of Liu Meng and him together to Fu Bo smugly.
“Ohh? Wow, you’re right!” The pictures were back in the antique district in Shangbei. Liu Meng held Li Yiming’s arm and seemed to be bathed in bliss.
“Hey! Where are you looking at?” Li Yiming withdrew his phone; Liu Meng’s cleavage was easily seen since the photo was taken from above.
“She’s beautiful. Why isn’t she living with you?” Fu Bo ducked his head down in embarrassment and hurriedly changed the topic. His eyes were attracted to that part of the picture by some kind of mysterious magnetism.
“She’s busy with something right now. I’ll introduce you to her some other time. What about you? Do you have a girlfriend?” At the mention of Liu Meng, Li Yiming felt a pang of heartache and changed the topic.
“You know my situation… How can I have a girlfriend? The most I can have is a one-night stand…”
“One-night stand?” Li Yiming regretted asking the question right after he said it; it was normal for Fu Bo to not be able to do anything else but one-night stands, since everyone would forget about him. But Li Yiming would never have expected “one-night stand” to come out of Fu Bo’s mouth.
“What else can I do to satisfy my needs? I’m not the type to resort to prostitution.” Fu Bo answered with a shrug and continued eating.
“You really go for these kinds of things?” Li Yiming paused and looked at Fu bo in curiosity. Li Yiming held rather conservative views about romantic relationships, so he found it hard to understand these kinds of things.
“What’s so strange about that? It’s the only way to satisfy my needs without a girlfriend or a prostitute.”
“And you’re actually able to find girls who want to do it with you?” Li Yiming pressed on. He could understand the male perspective but struggled to understand the female one.
“Yeah. I mean, I’m relatively rich, I have above average looks, I’m still young and I even have the air of a secluded artist that a lot of women like. I think I’m the most ideal one-night stand partner. Quite literally the type to be forgotten the next morning.” Fu Bo answered while scratching his head, a little saddened.
“How do you pair up? Social media? Dating apps?” Li Yiming asked without any regard for Fu Bo’s apparent low mood. ‘I wonder what it’s like, do you just show up and say “hey, wanna go?”’
“I mean, I don’t know how other people do it, but those apps are useless for me. I show up as a complete stranger at the scene anyways.”
“I just go straight up to girls in parks, malls or pubs. They can’t remember me, so I’m not really worried about being rejected or embarrassed.” Fu Bo swallowed another mouthful of the broth and scratched his nose. He seemed a little shy about revealing his schemes to Li Yiming.
“Really? What type of girls do you usually hook up with?” Li Yiming immediately imagined the kind of girls that were naturally promiscuous.
“There are different kinds… Actually, with the information you find online, you’d be surprised by the way people’s thoughts have shifted. I’m not one to say whether it’s a good or a bad thing, though.”
“What do you talk about when you meet up?” Li Yiming asked. He knew that Fu Bo meant, but his curiosity was still unsatiated.
“Depends on the person, I guess. If they’re inexperienced, I’ll try a story about all the exciting things of life. But if she’s been out there for a long time, I’ll bring her to a ride on the carousel.” Fu Bo wiped his mouth with tissue and answered without hesitation. 1
Li Yiming stared at Fu Bo rather speechlessly. He now had a newfound respect for the person who he thought was just a tragic nerd. ‘Who would’ve thought that he has such… “rich” life experiences. Whenever a door closes a window opens, I guess…’
“Don’t look at me like that. I’d rather actually date a girl the normal way, you know.” Fu Bo turned his head and looked at a couple wearing high school uniforms who were riding a bicycle together. Their young and innocent smiles reminded those looked at them of simple but heartwarming moments in their own lives.
Li Yiming had a lot of thoughts going on in his head. ‘Indeed, behind the facade of prosperity and consumerism hides a stone-cold world. I guess Fu Bo’s experiences would be envied by a lot of guys out there. But who would truly understand the helplessness and pain that he experiences? Sadly, many of us would gladly flaunt such things, slowly becoming consumed by lust as they sink into decadence. To disregard all of the moral restrictions we had, is this actually an improvement of society or a regression of civilization? Is this the evolution or the warping of laws?’
‘Speaking of which, Heaven’s Laws…’ Li Yiming lapsed into a contemplative silence as he looked up at the clear blue sky above his head.
* * *
“We just received word from Ying Mei that the karma in Ji Xiaoqin has increased to fifty percent.” Bing Shuai went to the basement and informed Tian Yan with an almost euphoric voice.
“What?” The kneeling Tian Yan looked up in shock at Bing Shuai.
“With how important this matter is, Ying mei should have been careful. It should be accurate.” Bing Shuai waited expectantly for Tian Yan’s explanation.
“Impossible…It’s impossible… How did she double her karma overnight? Even if… Even if…” Tian Yan was distraught and confused. Ji Xiaoqin’s situation totally went against everything that she knew. Her feeling of defeat was especially strong when she looked at Guo Xiang, her life’s work. ‘He’s at barely three percent…’
“There’s no way this is natural. We have competitors, and they’re ahead of us.” Tian Yan lowered her head and answered in a hoarse voice. Her delicate features distorted into a particularly sinister expression.
“That’s my guess too. I think you should have a look at the girl yourself.” Bing Shuai said as he fidgeted with his thumb ring and said with a grave voice. ‘Another group ahead of us? There are no friends to be found in our quest, only mortal enemies. No one will agree to simply share what they’ve obtained. We need to find out who they are and remove them.’
“But, I have to be here…”
“Leave it. Regardless of what happens, Guo Xiang is no longer of value to us.” The battle for Ji Xiaoqin was the immediately foreseeable event ahead, and even if she was not the result of an experiment from another group, she was already far more valuable than Guo Xiang.
“Understood. Where are they now?” Tian Yan slowly withdrew her pale hands from the stone platform and stood up. The glyphs of light died down and Guo Xiang’s trembling ceased. It was as if he had finally fallen asleep.
“Hangzhou General Department Store.”
I guess this is the purpose of Ji Xiaoqin and Guo Xiang not immediately disappearing from the novel after the start (?) Probably planned from the start.
1. This is a meme/saying in China (I just found out about this.) The explanation behind this, as I understand it, is that the grass is always greener on the other side. So to someone who has yet to experience the exciting/thrills of life, you do something crazy with them. For someone who has seen it all, you go back to something simple that reminds them of the innocent pleasures of childhood and touch their hearts in that way. Not sure if this works out in real life…