“Ming Feizhen.” Boss’ eyes were hard-rimmed and fixed as though they’d rusted into place. “Don’t put yourself on a pedestal. Is this time to be worrying about this kind of trivial stuff?”
I held my gaze: “I don’t believe there’s anything that requires you to sacrifice your life for. Letting you venture into the Seven Champion White Princes’ territory on your own was the first time. Disregarding your safety to stay with River Monster and Poison King was the second time. If I let you risk your life a third time, I’d be irredeemably stupid.”
“As vice-captain of Liu Shan Men, it’s not called risking my life but doing what’s right.”
“Your definition of ‘right’ doesn’t align with mine. I can’t turn a blind eye to your condition.”
Boss Shen didn’t argue once I mentioned her condition or give a reaction.
“Mm, insomnia could be minor or serious. For as long as I’ve known you, you always work until the middle of the night and sleep no more than six hours. Your average is even less than that. I haven’t seen you sleep once since meeting up with you. You’re not Su Xiao; you don’t need me lecturing you about how vital sleep is, do you?”
“I understand.” Still holding onto her brush and leaning on her desk, Boss asserted, “I’ll ask the imperial doctor with His Majesty to check me. Don’t worry. I’ve said what I have to, so you can leave now.”
“That’s not necessary. I can answer on the doctor’s behalf. I can prescribe any medication he can. Thing is, none of the medications we can prescribe now are fit for your condition. To treat a condition, it starts with a correct diagnosis. Boss, I need you to answer my question: what happened to you? While you can soldier through it, you have two eyes and a mouth just as every other human does. No human is immune to sleep deprivation’s consequences. We will be surrounded by danger on all sides starting from tomorrow. If your sleep deprivation affects you for even a second, you could lose your life. That’s what I mean by risking your life. It’s not the right thing to do; it’s just being asinine.”
Seeing Boss’ face turn white as though it was the moon’s work, I elaborated, “Though your insomnia is showing up now, it must’ve been gradually deteriorating until what it is now. Commonly, insomnia has to do with psychological issues. I’m sure you noticed signs of its onset until it reached the current stage.”
“That’s merely your conjecture. I’ve never been one to sleep much and have been busier recently. Not everybody sleeps as much as you do. I take naps when you’re not around. I’m just being vigil nowadays since we’re in foreign territory.”
“I don’t know the cause of your condition, but I suspect it worsened recently. It might be due to your injuries…” I gazed down to Boss’ left hand. “Or… stress you never shared.”
“The impact of your left hand’s injury is more troubling than I imagined.”
“Enough! I don’t need your diagnosis. Ming Feizhen, just take care of yourself.”
I think I poked a sore spot or something for Boss to be that sullen.
“You live blithely. You are negligent at work, and now you’re not even seeing the priorities here. I don’t need you here. Get lost, and reflect on yourself.”
I also started to feel frustrated. “Think before you speak. I forewent eating and sleeping to rescue you, yet you’re going to accuse me of making light of negligence of duty?”
Boss cracked a sardonic smile: “What about Wutong Jin Yuxuan? Yu Feiyuan and Abbess Huofeng are your childhood friends, aren’t they? You’re engaged to Interim Patriarch Yu, aren’t you? You found me and happened to meet with your lover. Wow, what a tough job. Must’ve been hard on you.”
“The reason for our engagement is a misunderstanding between our elders. She and I… My personal business doesn’t have anything to do with work. Are you telling me you don’t know if I’ve been negligent of my duty or not?”
“I thought you only had eyes for your aunt, but what do you know? You even have a fiancée? That’s Mount Daluo’s future patriarch for you, one woman in each arm.”
“What’s your point? Weren’t you the one who said she doesn’t care about my background?”
“I can ignore it, but does that change the facts? I don’t know what you’re condescending yourself to work as a small-time constable at Liu Shan Men for; however, it can’t be to uphold justice, can it? How about you confess why you joined? How much of what you tell me is true? I don’t even know who you are?!”
I stomped to my feet and took a few shallow breaths before I calmed down. “… True, I joined with my own agenda. I know what I’m doing, though, and I know what the path I chose is. Have I ever betrayed you once since joining? Have I really been negligent in my duties?”
“… Where is Tang Ye right now?”
Tang Ye… I admit to negligence. I doubted anyone could understand the bet I made on Tang Ye, nevertheless, so I couldn’t bring it up.
“… Instead of worrying about my private issues, how about you focus on fulfilling your responsibilities, Future Mount Daluo Patriarch. Although Liu Shan Men has fallen from grace, please do not treat it as your playground.”
“You said” – my throat suddenly felt excruciatingly dry – “that, no matter who I am, I am your reliable subordinate. Is that… true?”
Boss hung her head. “Just formality. Who’d take it serious?”
I exhaled slowly through my nose and walked out.