Xue Liang was lost and dazed for a while, unable to find his bearings after being teased by a couple of words from Yan Chong, "That's not what I meant."
"Then what did you mean?" Yan Chong asked.
"I..." He stumbled for a moment, unsure how to explain, before he eventually gave up with a sigh, "Forget it."
"Alright, wait until you sober up tomorrow and tell me then. You talk, I'll listen, okay?" Yan Chong said, "Don't be upset. Sleep for a while if you're tired. I'll call you when we reach home."
The effects of the alcohol and tiredness surged up in him. Xue Liang felt like he was in a gentle and compassionate dream, that the street was neverending and he could keep his secrets and keep walking with Yan Chong until the end of the world.
However, feelings can deceive oneself, but rationality won't be willing to give up so easily. The more unwilling he was to part, the clearer he realised the parting was coming soon.
Yan Chong drove the car into the neighbourhood Xue Liang lives in, and stopped in front of his unit. He shook Xue Liang's shoulder, "Wake up, we're home."
Xue Liang slowly opened his eyes and felt for the seat belt to unbuckle it, only to realise it was warm. He was dumbfounded, and when he looked down, he realised he had grabbed Yan Chong's hand.
Yan Chong did not avoid it, instead he raised his index finger and lightly scratched Xue Liang's palm, teasing him, "Still not letting go? Haven’t taken enough advantage of me?"
Xue Liang said nothing, instead he grabbed Yan Chong's hand, as if he was about to take a bite.
"Why are you so anxious, I'm scared of you," Yan Chong laughed as he managed to pull his hand away, "Okay, let's go upstairs. Do you need me to send you up?"
Xue Liang shook his head and said "no need", then he lowered his head to unbuckle his seat belt. As he was about to open the door, he saw Yan Chong's reflection in the car window. Something in Xue Liang's heart was touched, and he suddenly turned around. With lightning speed, he leaned in and gave Yan Chong a quick kiss before opening the car door and stumbling into the building.
Yan Chong: "!!!"
He was like someone whose pressure points were jabbed, becoming a marble statue in the seat. His entire body lost sensation, only his heart was beating wildly, his blood boiling, as if the frozen river couldn't resist the vitality of the early spring as the first bird descended, finally cracking a hole in the ice from within.
On the other side, fragrant grass and peach blossoms were in full bloom, and the petals were all over the place.
On the other end, in the dark and silent hallway, Xue Liang, who had escaped, leaned against the white wall, one hand pressing his chest as he panted heavily. He didn't know his face had become full of tears.
Early the next morning, in the office building.
"Xue Liang's here, early." A girl greeted Xue Liang from the tea room, "Didn't you sleep well last night? You don't look so good."
"Mm, I'm a bit tired," Xue Liang said, "Is there still coffee? Give me a cup."
The moment the voice fell, someone outside the door immediately said: "No coffee allowed, give him a cup of hot water."
The girl turned her head in shock and found Yan Chong in a suit and leather shoes, standing at the door of the tea and water room, staring at Xue Liang and lecturing: "You just drank alcohol yesterday, don't you want your stomach anymore? Drink quickly, and come to my office after you finish drinking."
Xue Liang: "... Oh."
The little girl gave him a cup of hot water with pity. Xue Liang forced a smile to her and said, "Thank you, I'll go first."
The environment and welfare of the company were very good, and the little girls were also very enthusiastic about him. If he was really an assistant, he might consider applying for a job here after graduation.
Xue Liang pushed the door and walked into the president's office. Yan Chong was sitting behind the desk. He pointed to the sofa: "Sit down and talk."
Xue Liang sat down awkwardly, and Yan Chong saw his unusual look today, but only thought he was nervous after confessing, and his tone softened and asked: "Don't you want to explain to me?"
Xue Liang clenched his fingers and loosened them, and after a long silence, he finally gathered up all his courage and said, "President Yan."
Yan Chong's palm was a little sweaty. He said "Um" as if nothing had happened.
"I do have something to tell you," Xue Liang said, "I'm about to start school, and there's not enough time, so I can't continue this internship, I hope you can understand."
Yan Chong sighed: "So... "
Xue Liang interrupted him: "Not only that, but I have misunderstood the nature of this job since the beginning, and I only found out the truth the other day. This truth... is important to both of us."
Finally, Yan Chong realized that the topic of this conversation was not what he thought. Xue Liang took a deep breath and began narrating events from the interview in June, then to the confrontation with Han Bowen, linking up the whole process in a clear and coherent manner. It was as though he was hammering one piece of irrefutable evidence after another onto Yan Chong's face.
It was too ridiculous.
At a certain moment, Yan Chong felt that he suddenly understood those unlucky people who were swindled by "descendants of the Qing Dynasty imperial family" and lost their entire fortunes. Regardless of whether they were illiterate or graduates from a prestigious university, their intelligence seemed to have been sucked away by a black hole when faced with the situation. Despite the many loopholes and flaws glaring right in front of their eyes, they chose to turn a blind eye to them, just like he did.
Xue Liang also understood his silence at this moment, and stood up and said, "It's all my fault in the end. I'll handle the resignation tomorrow. I don't need this month's salary. Sorry."
He was about to leave when Yan Chong's mobile phone rang at this moment, the ringtone was like a small needle stuck on the nerve, suddenly waking up Yan Chong.
"What are you doing? Stop!" Yan Chong picked up his phone, angrily saying: "Sit down! Don't move."
Xue Liang had a dead fish-like expression, obediently sitting down.
Yan Chong took the call with a bad look on his face, saying "hmm" twice before saying: "I understand, I'll be right there."
He put down his phone and grabbed his coat from the hanger. He walked up to Xue Liang, looked down and said: "I have an urgent matter to attend to, I'll be gone for around two hours. Don't move until I get back. If you take one step out of here, I'll..."
The oppressive aura almost made Xue Liang take a step back. He raised his head and blinked, curiously asking: "What will you do?"
Yan Chong fiercely said: "I'll stew you in a pot."
Xue Liang: "....."
Yan Chong, who had been burning with anger, left in a hurry. Xue Liang finally released his breath, sinking into the sofa. He recalled Yan Chong's expression and couldn't help but chuckle, and then sighed.
He is a good person and most of the time, he appears to be a well-rounded young talent, while at other times he's even like a comedian, quite adorable. It's a pity that this incident happened, and he might not even have any friends left in the future.
Two and a half hours later.
Zhou Wenbin drove nervously, and Assistant Cui who sat in the passenger seat kept stealing glances at the back seat where Yan Chong had a long face, looking out of the window gloomily.
Assistant Cui was loyal and honest, trying to take the blame: "It was my fault for not considering this throughly and sending you the photos and ID information ahead of time..."
"It's too late now, what's done is done," although Yan Chong was angry, he still understood. "Don't let anyone find out about this."
Cui Tu nodded vigorously.
Yan Chong sighed deeply and pinched the bridge of his nose. He was originally waiting for today with nervous anticipation, hoping to firmly grasp the situation in his hands, but he did not expect Xue Liang to give him a fatal blow. In a moment, everything became shattered and impossible to tidy up, leaving him in an awkward position.
In this topsy-turvy situation, what he thought was true turned out to be false, and what he thought was false turned out to be true. He couldn't grasp the situation that he wanted, and even what he couldn't grasp was still within his control.
With a soft click, the office door was pushed open from the outside, Xue Liang stood up and looked up to meet Yan Chong's gaze, and both of them were startled.
After a while, Xue Liang was the first to speak, asking: "Are you done with your work?"
Yan Chong nodded, as he closed the door and walked to the sofa, motioning for Xue Liang to sit down. Xue Liang, however, said: "No need, I just have a few words to say, and I'll leave. I won't take up too much of your time."
Yan Chong gritted his teeth in frustration, wanting to retort, but held back and forced himself to speak calmly, "Okay, sure. Go ahead, what do you want to talk about?"
Xue Liang: "Don't overthink it, I just need to resign, I don't want anything else."
"You're planning to cut ties with me completely, Xue Liang," Yan Chong said, "but it's not that simple, and the accounts can’t be settled this way."
"The misunderstanding originates from you walking into the wrong door, thinking it was an internship, but in reality, I supported you for the past three months. It was my first time doing this kind of thing and I met you, so we were both at fault in this regard and it evens out."
"Then let's talk about the actual performance of the contract. Although it was nominally 'supporting' you, I don't think I did anything out of the ordinary to you, and all the work you did was assistant work. However, I did use your name to block off potential love interests, which damaged your reputation, so I paid you a higher salary than a normal assistant. You deserved it, so don't feel bad about taking it."
"Now that the misunderstanding has been cleared up, since this contract started with a mistake, this is the most suitable time to end it for both of us, and you brought this up yourself, so I don't have any objections. I can have HR process your resignation in a bit. Do you have any other issues to discuss?"
Convincing and logical, Xue Liang shook his head: "No."
"Good," Yan Chong said. "Next, let's discuss my issue. He stretched out his index finger and tapped his lower lip: "What explanation do you have for last night?"
Xue Liang's back grew cold, and he thought, this isn't good.
Last night he was simply too sad, and in his despairing state he did something reckless. He thought that today Yan Chong would concentrate on the truth and forget about those minor details, but who would have thought that he would finish handling the actual matter so quickly and now start nitpicking?
"I remember when we signed the contract, we said that you would not be selling yourself." Yan Chong stepped forward. "This exceeded the scope of the contract."
Xue Liang stepped back: "The contract said not to sell my body, don't twist the facts."
Yan Chong continued to advance: "So my innocence means nothing and yours is valid? That doesn't make sense in this world."
Xue Liang kept retreating: "What do you want to do then?"
Yan Chong kept pressing closer: "According to the rules just now, you took advantage of me, so I should take it back in the same way, and then we'll be even."
Xue Liang continued to retreat until his back was against a bookcase. He was cornered in the corner between the bookcase and the wall. Eventually, he couldn't take it anymore and said: "President Yan, mind yourself, don't be petty."
Yan Chong gave a cold laugh: "Xue Liang, you're the one who's not being fair. In this matter neither of us are better or worse, paying back debts is righteous, and after we settle this account I'll let you go immediately. How about that?"
Xue Liang retreated again and again until his back was against the bookcase. He was trapped in the corner between the bookcase and the wall and finally said helplessly, "Yan Chong, don't play around."
Yan Chong looked at him with impatience, then slightly loosened his grip. He raised an eyebrow and asked, "What am I playing?"
Xue Liang knitted his brows and turned away, not looking at him. He softened his tone, admitting defeat, "It was all my fault yesterday, so there is no point in you taking this further..."
"Who said that there was no point?" Yan Chong suddenly interrupted him, "I thought you knew what this meant."
Xue Liang had a blank look on his face: "Wha--"
Before he could finish, he was pressed against the wall and kissed.
Compared to his timid touches, this kiss was very real. It was a tenderness he had never imagined, with only a slight sense of urgency, like a harmless lesson teaching him about his confusion and insincerity.
Xue Liang was not stupid. Even though he was slow, he knew that this was no ordinary "debt collecting".
A flower that was ready to bloom finally opened with the help of the spring breeze.
After the kiss, Yan Chong kissed the corner of his lips lovingly, and their foreheads touched. With their breaths intertwining, Xue Liang only heard his slightly hoarse voice near his ear, whispering:
"What I mean is, I like you too."
One day, Xue Liang who had caught a severe cold was lying on the bed, barely breathing and in a state of exhaustion.
Yan Chong made him put the thermometer under his armpit, scolding him, "You should learn to behave. Are you feeling better now?"
Xue Liang hummed while coughing weakly, "Ah~ the lark sings in tears."
Yan Chong looked at him, his expression ambiguous, and said, "You look like a bird stuck on a bush of thorns..."
Xue Liang, who was at death's door, sat up in shock and asked in surprise, "Are you using vulgar language? Are you still human?!"