Mr. Melancholy Wants to Live a Peaceful Life - Chap 71
While Yu Hua was haggling with Huan Zixu at the office, You Zhengping had finished patrolling and was discussing dinner plans with Cen Xiao.
“There’s no need…” You Zhengping said to Cen Xiao, looking uncomfortable. “Yu Hua and I don’t need to be so formal, I can just drop a word.”
Cen Xiao was anxious to see an improvement. “What’s lacking between lovers is exactly that bit of deliberate formality. Yu Hua likes romance. If you do this, he’ll definitely be happy. Since changing jobs, you’ve often gone out on assignment. You and Yu Hua have been apart too much. You finally got out on a date last Saturday, then you went out on assignment again at night, and you still haven’t seen Yu Hua since. If things go on like this, what will happen to your marriage?!”
Actually, we haven’t been apart that much. We’ve seen each other during missions, You Zhengping thought inwardly.
“In married life, it’s important to create some nice little surprises from time to time. That’s how you make feelings last,” advised Cen Xiao, who had never been in a romantic relationship. “We have a break after our midday patrol today. Take advantage of the afternoon! I’ll help you!”
Cen Xiao hauled You Zhengping to the produce market and bought a big pile of random ingredients. Carrying the produce, the two of them arrived at the Messrs. Melancholy’s home.
That’s right, Cen Xiao’s supposed nice little surprise for promoting feelings was making You Zhengping come home early and personally cook for Yu Hua.
You Zhengping thought of his own cooking skills and thought that this wouldn’t be a nice surprise. It would be a shock.
“I’ll help you!” Cen Xiao said, pounding his chest. “While my skills aren’t up to Yu Hua’s, I’m better than you, at least. Anyway, even if we can’t make good food, our knife work is still first rate.”
In this way, Cen Xiao arrived at You Zhengping’s home, brimming with self-confidence.
You Zhengping opened the door first. As soon as he came in, he saw that suitcase arranged in the most obvious place in the living room. The suitcase also hadn’t been closed fully. A corner of black clothing was hanging out of it.
You Zhengping: “!!!”
His heart stopped for half a beat. He blocked Cen Xiao behind him, not letting his friend walk through the door. “W-w-wait a bit, I’ll find you guest slippers, you can’t wear your outside shoes indoors. Yu Hua hates dirt, he’ll be mad if he sees footprints.”
Cen Xiao held two bags of ingredients. A live crayfish had crawled up the plastic bag to his hand and was just pinching him with its pincers. Head dripping with sweat, he said, “No need, I’ll just leave my shoes outside and go in wearing socks. Haven’t I seen how clean your floor is? Not a speck of dust on it. It won’t get my socks dirty. Hurry up, let me come in and put the food down, I can’t control this crayfish. It hurts.”
He didn’t wait for You Zhengping to get slippers. He tossed his shoes outside the door and squeezed into the apartment, going directly to the kitchen.
You Zhengping hurriedly walked two steps, walking at Cen Xiao’s right, blocking his line of sight so Cen Xiao wouldn’t see the suitcase next to them.
Cen Xiao didn’t notice anything about the suitcase. He was thinking, You Zhengping’s house is a safe place, and we’re two Protectors with no one else here. It’s just a suitcase in the living room, what is there to worry about?
You Zhengping escorted Cen Xiao all the way to the kitchen, saw him bend down and drop the food, then quietly shifted to the living room. He wanted to put away the extremely obvious suitcase. Their apartment was on an open plan. From the living room to the dining room to the kitchen, it was all open. There were no obstructions. You could see all the way to the living room balcony from the kitchen.
But Cen Xiao, rolling up his sleeves, said, “Find me a bowl, I’m going to clean the crayfish and teach you how to make hot and spicy crayfish. I’ll do the teaching, and you can do the cooking.”
“Where…where are the bowls?” You Zhengping didn’t know where to look. He kept one eye on Cen Xiao to keep him from looking towards the living room and one eye on the suitcase, considering how to put it away without raising any suspicions. His eyes were wandering as though he had lazy eye.
“You don’t even know where the bowls are?” Cen Xiao didn’t know whether to be envious or concerned. “You’ve really been so spoiled that you can’t provide for yourself. You can’t be away from Yu Hua. Get serious and have a nice life.”
To Cen Xiao, You Zhengping and Yu Hua absolutely couldn’t break up. If they divorced, what would happen to his wallet?
“Maybe they’re on the north balcony,” You Zhengping said, pointing to the opposite side of the living room. “Why don’t you go look around there?”
Cen Xiao cluelessly turned to the balcony to look. You Zhengping swiftly went into the living room and picked up the suitcase, wanting to hide it in some not so obvious place.
Who would have expected that Yu Hua’s hints to You Zhengping would have reached this manic stage? He hadn’t locked the suitcase. The mask and black cloak inside it came tumbling out.
“!!!” You Zhengping’s eyes popped out of his head.
“What was that sound?” Cen Xiao asked from the balcony, head down as he looked for a bowl to wash food in.
“Nothing, I’m looking for slippers for you.” You Zhengping bent down in a flurry to pick up the cloak and the mask.
Then he heard the sound of Cen Xiao’s footsteps coming in from the balcony. “Everything in your house is really laid out perfectly. I found two different bowls. Which is for washing vegetables, and which is for washing meat?”
Hearing the sound of Cen Xiao gradually getting closer, You Zhengping had no time to think carefully. He quickly opened his first space, which hid weapons and natural energy, and hid the black cloak and the mask inside it, only leaving behind the empty suitcase.
Cen Xiao walked into the living room, carrying the two bowls. He saw You Zhengping sitting on the ground with an empty suitcase open next to him. He looked very woebegone. Cen Xiao couldn’t help laughing. “What are you doing? Are you going through the suitcase for guest slippers?”
“I-I thought Yu Hua had brought back a pair of hotel slippers in his suitcase,” You Zhengping excused himself at random.
“Pfft! Your Yu Hua really knows how to live. No wonder Lian Yufan is always complaining that he’s stingy and saying he’s a modern day Grandet1.” Cen Xiao thought he could understand Lian Yufan’s suffering.
“Haha, I also don’t know which bowl is for what, though it’s all right, just go ahead and use one, at worst we’ll wash it afterwards,” You Zhengping said, laughing dryly.
“Well, I don’t know if Yu Hua will be mad if I get it wrong. I’ll try to tell them apart.” Cen Xiao saw that You Zhengping couldn’t be depended on. Exasperated, he could only rely on himself.
Seeing Cen Xiao return to the kitchen, You Zhengping wiped the sweat from his forehead, picked the empty suitcase up off the ground, and only then belatedly realized what he had done.
Crap, he had stuffed the black-cloaked man’s cloak and mask into his first space. There was air in the second space; he normally used it to hold people. The first space was an entirely airless environment, and it was divided into two parts. One part was used to store objects, specifically heat weapons. The other part only contained energy. The vacuum let the different energies coexist peacefully.
And he seemed to have just put the black cloak and the mask into the space with the energies…
You Zhengping quietly split off a bit of awareness to investigate the first space and saw that, like a drop of water in a pot of oil, the black cloak and the mask had made the peaceable energies explode here and there like a pot being boiled. They only calmed down once more when the black cloak and the mask had been completely destroyed.
You Zhengping: “…”
What had he done…? You Zhengping covered his face.
“I’ve washed the crayfish, can you find me an apron? Why are you still sitting on the floor?” Cen Xiao asked strangely when he walked over again and saw You Zhengping collapsed like a wad of mud next to the suitcase.
“I-I’m feeling self-reproachful,” You Zhengping said sorrowfully.
“Oh, you’ve thought of how good Yu Hua is?” Cen Xiao crouched down and patted his friend’s shoulder. “Look how well he takes care of you. He even scrimps and saves when it comes to his own slippers, but he’ll dig into his savings to buy you a car, buy you clothes, buy you tasty food. He’s even so generous to us as your friends. You have to treasure a person like that!”
“Yes, I have to treasure him.” You Zhengping sucked in a breath through his nose. He had always treasured Yu Hua. But right now, he was too ashamed to face the organization or Cen Xiao.
You Zhengping didn’t dare to look at Cen Xiao. He staunchly climbed to his feet, carried the suitcase to the bedroom and put it back on top of the wardrobe, then got a pair of guest slippers for Cen Xiao out of the shoe rack. He went to the kitchen to study cooking with Cen Xiao.
“Today we’re making a seafood feast. It’s fairly easy to cook. Most of it can just be steamed in clear broth. You can eat the authentic taste of crab.” Cen Xiao’s so-called cooking ability was the ability to steam things. “Crayfish are a little troublesome. Let me look up how to make hot and spicy crayfish. You clean them, remove the heads, devein them, then use seasonings. Where are the seasonings?”
The kitchen was off limits to You Zhengping. Of course he didn’t know. Cen Xiao had to go look for himself. Fortunately, Yu Hua arranged things very regularly. Cen Xiao quickly found the seasoning box. When he opened it, he saw Sichuan peppers and star anise, everything neat and tidy, arranged from big to small inside the box, so orderly that it was alarming.
He opened the fridge to look for green onions, ginger, and garlic. As soon as he opened the door, he was startled by the arrangement of ingredients.
Cen Xiao had been to You Zhengping’s house many times, but Yu Hua had been here every time. There had been no need for him to cook. Cen Xiao had never seen the items in Yu Hua’s kitchen on display.
All the vegetables were placed in freshness preserving boxes or wrapped in freshness preserving film, arranged according to size like soldiers arrayed for battle. All the green onions were peeled and cut to the same length, lying neatly in their box, so orderly that Cen Xiao didn’t dare to take any, afraid of ruining the vegetable ranks. The heads of garlic looked like they had been painstakingly chosen by Yu Hua; they were all about the same size, lying in the freshness preserving box in the most aesthetically pleasing order. Yu Hua had sliced all the corners and protrusions off the irregularly sized lengths of ginger and sealed the cut places with freshness preserving film; they were also neatly arranged in a freshness preserving box. The three boxes of green onion, ginger, and garlic were lined up according to size.
“This…” Looking at the fridge laid out more neatly than a supermarket display, Cen Xiao involuntarily backed up two steps. “Is your Yu Hua’s obsessive-compulsive disorder this serious?”
“What’s wrong, weren’t you looking for aromatics?” You Zhengping, who had been removing the crayfish heads, walked over and saw Cen Xiao staring blankly at the fridge. Paying no attention to how neat the fridge was, he casually grabbed a few green onions. Cen Xiao looked on as the green onion ranks were destroyed by You Zhengping.
You Zhengping also took a head of garlic. He didn’t take one from the edge of the great garlic array. He picked one at random from the middle and also bumped the garlic around it.
The fresh ginger also suffered violence at his treacherous hand, and he knocked some of the vegetables next to it into disarray.
The scalp-numbingly tidy fridge had been messed up by You Zhengping and took on a lively air. It wasn’t so frightening anymore.
Cen Xiao closed the fridge and looked around.
When he had just walked into the kitchen, he had thought that Yu Hua was truly good at housework. It was rare to see such a clean kitchen. Now that he looked at it again, the spotless kitchen range, the orderly cupboards, the regularly arranged knives, and even the perfectly laid out chopsticks in the chopstick basket, all took on a shocking appearance.
Could a person really endure this kind of life?
While Cen Xiao thought this, You Zhengping shook his hands, splashing countless water droplets onto the kitchen range, instantly waking Cen Xiao from his nightmare of order. The terrifying feeling vanished.
“The head is off, and I’ve taken care of the veins. What do I do next?” You Zhengping was holding a knife. Somehow he had managed to knock a chip off of it while removing the heads and veins of the crayfish. There was a gap in the knife blade. And if Cen Xiao wasn’t mistaken, that was a vegetable chopping knife. It shouldn’t have been used to cut meat and seafood.
“Chop up the aromatics and bring the pot to a boil…” Cen Xiao instructed.
He suddenly thought that to be able to ignore all this order and live naturally with Yu Hua, from a certain point of view, You Zhengping was a ruthless person, too.
They were a perfect match.
The two of them flailed around making chaos in the kitchen and at last produced a passable seafood feast. After all the dishes had been arranged on the table, Cen Xiao looked at his Protector phone and saw Zhen Li’s message.
Ordinarily, Cen Xiao wouldn’t have missed a message on the Protector phone. Even when he was fast asleep, if his phone made a faint sound, he would immediately wake up.
But just now, when he had been awed by the fridge, he actually hadn’t heard the phone’s message notification.
“Is there important news?” You Zhengping looked at his own Protector phone. There were no messages.
“Zhen Li says he has important information to report.” Cen Xiao looked at You Zhengping apologetically. “You may have to work overtime again tonight.”
“What? Overtime?” Thinking of the destroyed black cloak, You Zhengping felt that overtime was a good thing. There was a trace of happy surprise in his voice.
You Zhengping really didn’t know what expression he was supposed to put on if he was present when Yu Hua discovered that the suitcase was empty.
“Ah, I was planning to let you and Yu Hua spend a nice evening together.” Cen Xiao looked dejectedly at the table covered in food.
“I’ll leave a note.” You Zhengping scribbled a note and stuck it onto the table. “I’ll do my best to come back tomorrow morning.”
There was no other way. Cen Xiao and You Zhengping left the apartment.
Not ten minutes after they had left, Yu Hua came to the door carrying groceries. He was about to use his fingerprints to open the door when he noticed that the position of the door handle was three millimeters off from what it had been in the morning.
Had someone been here? Had Xiao You come back, or had the property management agent come to the door? Yu Hua looked down at the marks on the doormat. From the marks on the mat, he guessed that there had been two people. They seemed to have gone in. One of the shoe sizes matched Xiao You’s, while the other tracks looked like Cen Xiao’s. When Cen Xiao walked, he would put a little more pressure on his right foot than his left.
It seemed that Xiao You had brought Cen Xiao home, and then they had left.
Yu Hua wasn’t in a rush to get inside. He crouched down and picked up a crayfish whisker.
The two of them had also bought crayfish. From the color, they had been live ones. Had they come home to cook crayfish and drink? Yu Hua frowned faintly.
He opened the apartment door and went in. While changing his shoes, he investigated the shoe cupboard. The positions of Xiao You’s slippers and a pair of guest slippers had changed considerably.
Wearing his own slippers, Yu Hua saw at a glance that the suitcase in the living room was gone.
His forehead furrowed tightly. The suitcase and the black cloak had been left for Xiao You to see. He hadn’t thought that Xiao You would bring Cen Xiao home. Had Cen Xiao also seen?
He wanted Xiao You to know his identity, but as for Cen Xiao and the Protection Organization…
A sliver of fierceness flashed through Yu Hua’s eyes. He tapped the wall with his finger, wanting to use “time replay” to see what had happened when he hadn’t been home. If Cen Xiao really had seen—it had been less than ten minutes since the two of them had left, since they couldn’t report this sort of thing over the phone and there hadn’t been enough time for them to have arrived at their base. Yu Hua still had time.
Yu Hua controlled his power, speeding “time replay” up to its fastest, but nothing appeared in front of him. His ability had failed.
What was going on? Yu Hua’s finger also tapped the couch and also came up empty. He couldn’t obtain a “time replay” of the room.
There was only one reason for this to happen—someone had used time or space natural law power, bringing this area under their own law. Unless Yu Hua destroyed the other party’s law, he couldn’t use his ability within this space.
After discovering You Zhengping’s identity, Yu Hua tore up the label and receipt from the pants and flushed them down the toilet, and burned the pants.
After discovering Yu Hua’s identity, You Zhengping stuck the black cloak and man into his space and completely destroyed them with a storm of power.
Messrs. Melancholy: It’s getting cold. Time to put on our armor.
1Notably miserly character in Honoré de Balzac’s Eugénie Grandet.