May I Ask Which Way to Go? (Part 2)
During the break, the only person to not rest was Shen Yiren. The day after I slept Luo Ming, Boss Shen started reaching out to sect leaders and Huzhou’s officials. She discussed with the main authorities how to circumvent the risks arising as a result of Refining Divine Convention, meaning that they needed to decide what to censor, what could be publicised, how to leverage the outcome and more. I was tired after dealing with Luo Ming and Mr. An, yet she was able to hold meetings every day; how can I not respect her? With that said, there were some questions that came to mind when you think about why she would be so persistent.
I hadn’t seen Boss since the end of Refining Divine Convention, and it was the first time she summoned me since. Just as I purposely avoided approaching her, she was probably avoiding me. Guess you can call it good chemistry in a way. In my opinion, it was a good way to give us both some space because, the day I gave my oath to never lie to her again, we had to redefine how we defined each other.
Putting aside Shen Yiren’s view of me, as I had no place speaking on her behalf, she was the first person to acknowledge me for who I was now and the first person I opened up to. Hence, the weight of her words tended to “important” on my scale. Owing to the abrupt change to our superior and subordinate relationship, the atmosphere between us was weird whenever we spoke in private. For instance… it was akin to two people not yet in an official relationship accidentally falling asleep and then waking up to… Let me amend that. It was akin to falling asleep, so it doesn’t change the fact that they were eloping. No scratch that. It wouldn’t be awkward between us if we eloped… Well, I’ve arrived at my destination, so we’ll leave that there.
I went straight in as the door was already open. Boss looked up from her table to greet me, drawing all of my focus onto her. “Boss, have we done it?” I asked as a fragment of what was on my mind on my way over crept in.
“Ming Feizhen, what do you think you’re saying to Vice-Captain?!” Song Ou hit the table and stomped to his feet, piercing me with his eyes and finger from a distance.
Shen Yiren held her hands in her face, wondering what to do about the two of us.
“What is the matter with you, saying something like that in my presence?” Song Ou grouched.
“Uh… I was asking if we had done my wage taxes,” I replied.
“Y-yes, it has been.” Song Ou had no counter for that.
“Can we put an end to this yet? You will have ten taels subtracted from your salary for using inappropriate language with your superiors,” Shen Yiren stated.
Again?! My pay had already been cut to thirty!
“Also, what happened to manners? You have yet to salute your superiors.”
I had no one to pass the buck to, so I had to bitterly salute them: “Reporting, Captain, Vice-Captain. May I ask what you summoned me for?”
I thought Boss was meeting me in private. Why is that ugly here? Wait, why am I disappointed? And what you acting smug for, Ugly? Why do you even hate me when I never did anything to you?
“Captain, please step outside. I need to speak to him.”
“Yeah, hear that? She told you to step out.” Song Ou’s facial spasm preceded, “I have to leave?!”
“I need to speak to him. Outsiders cannot listen in to Mount Daluo’s secrets.”
Don’t glare at me, you knob. Why is it my fault when you two summoned me?!
“Yiren, what can you not share with me? Why must you speak to him?”
“Do I have to repeat myself? It’s a secret.”
“Secret? Heh? You have a secret between you and him that you can’t tell your husband? Wow, what a story.”
What did he have for breakfast? Somebody piss in his tea? I don’t recall him ever giving Boss Shen that attitude.
“Captain Song, we are still in office hours. Please respect your role. I have something to discuss with him. Can you please give us room?”
Usually, Song Ou would’ve lowered his head and muted himself already, yet he questioned, “Can you prove it?” Were his legs not shaking, I would’ve thought he had a metal groin guard under his trousers.
Boss Shen wriggled her fingers on the table, seemingly fighting with herself not to curl them into a rock. “… I would ask His Majesty to leave us even if he was the one here. This is an issue of my attitude toward this matter. Can you leave now?”
Song Ou refused to give ground, hiking up a corner of his lips, only for Boss Shen to slam the table and threaten, “If the answer is no, you better have learnt to walk on your hands.”
Song Ou crankily shut his mouth and the door on his way out, though he didn’t forget to make it clear to me that I was the root of his irritation.
Judging from Boss’ fatigue, it was evident that it wasn’t due to workload alone. Arguments with Song Ou clearly had been frequent. I gave her time to reset her mind, but the two of us still only looked at each other after she did.
I hiked my shoulders up and turned my hands to the ceiling.
“What are you trying to say?”
“Captain Song is an ice-cold killer.”
“Shut up.” Shen Yiren finally laughed off her tension. “… He’s been in a foul mood recently; don’t mind him.”
“I wouldn’t. I’m just worried about you having to put up with him.”
“Don’t worry about that. I called you here to discuss something important.”
“Figured. It must be important if you wouldn’t even let your extolled Emperor listen in.”
“… You remember what you told me about Six Evils?”
“Of course. His Majesty finally ask you to consult me?”
“Done it” and “taxes” – the two are homophones. Mind you, “done it” can also mean “to have slept” or “to have slept with (in the intimate sense)”. I went with “done it” because it was the only way to rewrite the situation to include the word “done” in there.