The Emperor's Runaway Lover - Chapter 57
“Yu-ge, have you been living in a place like this? For how long?”
Bai Mo raised his head and looked at the shabby watch shop before them with a deep frown.
Fu Yucheng shrugged indifferently. “Less than half a year.”
Grandpa Lu took off his old-fashioned glasses and ran out from behind the counter in a hurry, almost tripping on the threshold. “A-Cheng, you were gone all day and night! Where did you go? I almost called the police!”
Fu Yucheng apologized. “I’m sorry, I ran into a friend and stayed the night with him. I was in a hurry and forgot to tell you.”
He glanced at Bai Mo and then introduced him. “So, this is my friend, Little Mo. Little Mo, this is Grandpa Lu. He has been taking care of me for the past few months.”
Bai Mo bowed towards Grandpa Lu. “Thank you for taking care of Yu-ge.”
“Oh, but of course, it’s nothing…” Grandpa Lu glanced at Bai Mo. He felt as if A-Cheng’s friend was giving off an aura like ice and snow. Even though he was very polite, he didn’t seem easy to grow close to.
He rubbed his hands awkwardly. “Oh, it’s okay, it’s okay.”
Fu Yucheng hesitated for a moment, and then said, “Grandpa Lu, I may be leaving.”
Grandpa Lu was stunned. “Leaving? Where are you going?”
Fu Yucheng vaguely replied, “My friend here wants to invite me to go to the Ecoregions and stay for a while.”
Grandpa Lu looked at Bai Mo, who was watching Fu Yucheng intently with very soft eyes.
Then Grandpa Lu seemed to understand a little bit and he stammered, “Oh, so that’s how it is… The Ecoregions, very good, very good.”
Fu Yucheng exchanged a few more pleasantries with Grandpa Lu and then took Bai Mo to the small attic on the second floor.
The attic was narrow and messy. Bedding and clothes were haphazardly piled up on the small bed, and there was a thin layer of dust on the plain low cabinet, table and chairs. A yellow floral curtain hung on the small, one-foot-by-foot window.
Fu Yucheng was a little embarrassed. “Uh, it’s a bit messy. I don’t have much time to clean…”
Bai Mo couldn’t help but grin slightly. “This is already pretty good. When I first met you, your van was much messier than this. The dirty bowls in the sink had been piling up for three days, and the potatoes had sprouted.”
“You- how come you remember every irrelevant1 thing?” Fu Yucheng asked helplessly.
Bai Mo stared at him. “I remember everything about you.”
“I’ll pack my things first, you sit down.” Fu Yucheng couldn’t help but break eye contact.
Bai Mo hesitated and sat on the bed cautiously. The dilapidated small bed creaked and shook a bit.
He lay down, feeling the hard bed under him, looking up at the yellowed ceiling, and muttered, “Yu-ge, have you really been living in this place for half a year?”
Fu Yucheng threw a few clothes on the bed and shrugged. “I don’t mind, it’s good to have a place to live. Think about it, we used to live in a van and then in a basement. It’s not that odd.”
Bai Mo grabbed one of Fu Yucheng’s old t-shirts and placed it on his face. His voice was muffled. “I liked to live in a van with you.”
Fu Yucheng sighed and said with some regret, “Unfortunately, my baby was destroyed by Mei Nianxue’s hook… sigh.”
Bai Mo lay down for a while, then stood up, looked around and said with disgust, “This house doesn’t even have an independent heating and cooling system, it’s too broken.”
Fu Yucheng picked up a bunch of things and threw them onto the bed carelessly. “Lacking a heating and cooling system is nothing, I have even lived with a lot of chickens.”
Bai Mo’s eyes widened. “What did you say? Lots of chicks?”
Fu Yucheng had accidentally spoken too much and said something embarrassing, and he couldn’t help but scratch his head awkwardly. “Ah, nothing actually.”
“What chickens?” Bai Mo looked at him suspiciously. “With chicks? That sort of place? Did you…”2
Fu Yucheng couldn’t laugh nor cry. “Where’s your mind going?! It wasn’t that kind of chick! They were real chickens! Edible GMO broiler chickens! 15 kilograms a piece!”
Bai Mo stared at him, not looking very convinced.
Fu Yucheng had to explain. “It was two years ago, when I wanted to go from the second Industrial Region to the seventh. But I didn’t have a legal ID, so I had to secretly find a cargo ship and sneak across unnoticed.
“And that cargo ship was carrying poultry. At that time, the automatic dock was full of cargo boxes, all made of synthetic boards. There were some finger-thick gaps in the boxes, and each box was packed with four or five broilers.”
Bai Mo looked at him at a loss for words. “You found an empty box and hid in it? Well, that’s indeed something you’re capable of.”
“I had no alternative either,” Fu Yucheng didn’t mind and continued on. “I thought I could hide in an empty box, and then the dock’s automatic transportation system would carry me into the cargo ship along with the other boxes with chickens. Once I was in the warehouse and the spacecraft took off, I would be able to sneak out and steal food from the spaceship’s kitchen.”
Having said this, Fu Yucheng paused and cleared his throat, slightly embarrassed.
Bai Mo looked at him with amusement. “What happened? It didn’t go so well, did it?”
“You’re rejoicing over my misfortune.” Fu Yucheng glared at him. “Who would have thought that those boxes with chickens would be stacked so neatly. And my box was right in the middle. The front, back, left, and right, up and down, were all surrounded and I couldn’t get out of the box at all.”
“Then what did you do?” Bai Mo couldn’t help but frown.
“What else could I do…? I had to use my blade to cut open the boards on the side of my box, and then cut open the box next to it.”
Bai Mo understood. “You cut the side panels of the boxes one by one, like opening a tunnel… But didn’t those boxes contain lots of broilers? GMO broilers that were 15 kilograms each?”
Fu Yucheng said with a huff. “Yes, you can imagine the rest for yourself.”
Bai Mo imagined it for a moment–Fu Yucheng crawling through the boxes, and the fat broilers clucking and pouncing at him constantly, and Fu Yucheng holding ‘Silent Blue Moon’ partly dodging broilers, partly trying to desperately open the box before him…
He just felt heartbroken and amused at the same time. “How did you…?”
Fu Yucheng gave up and said, “Fine, just laugh if you want. In short, by the time I crawled out, I was covered in a mess of chicken feathers and chicken shit. At that time, I suspected I had turned into another fucking broiler myself.”
Bai Mo, “…”
The two continued to talk while packing up things and, not long after, Fu Yucheng had prepared a small suitcase.
“Just this one suitcase?” Bai Mo looked down at it.
Fu Yucheng shrugged. “I don’t have a lot of things.”
When the two went downstairs, Grandpa Lu’s granddaughter, the rebellious girl, Lu Na, had already returned.
She was sitting in the small dining room by the kitchen, flipping through a dubious celebrity gossip magazine,the ‘Full Manipulator Report’.
Grandpa Lu called out while setting out a meal, “A-Cheng, and that friend of yours, leave after dinner. You’ve been living here for a few months, there’s no rush.”
Lu Na was taken aback for a moment, and then curled her lips. “Eating and drinking for free for several months and finally willing to leave? Ah, at last nobody will keep watching me anymore,” she muttered while pretending to read the magazine, but then she peeked up at Fu Yucheng and Bai Mo.
Fu Yucheng felt amused and, after thinking for a moment, he set down his luggage. “Little Mo, let’s have a meal before we leave.”
Bai Mo naturally had no opinion.
Although it was not a sumptuous meal, it was clear that it had been prepared carefully. Eggplant with minced meat, cold shredded chicken, stir-fried cabbage, mushroom meat soup, and a large pot of rice, just right for four people. 3
Fu Yucheng ate a small piece of cabbage and couldn’t help but mourn. “Nowadays, the market is all hydroponic vegetables… Soil grown ones are tastier.”
Grandpa Lu sighed. “Vegetables grown in soil are too expensive, and only the nobles in the Ecoregions can eat them often. For those of us in the Industrial Regions, it’s already good to be able to eat them once or twice a year.”
Bai Mo glanced at Fu Yucheng without saying anything and put some eggplant with meat on his plate.
Lu Na finished her meal hastily in a few big bites and then she set her chopsticks down. “Grandpa, I’m done!”
Grandpa Lu said, displeased, “Cursed kid, I haven’t eaten two bites yet, why are you in such a hurry?!”
Lu Na had stood up and picked up a bag that was on a low cabinet next to her. “I’m going to the Sky Blue Club in the afternoon. I’m meeting up with Lili and the other girls to watch the show!”
Grandpa Lu raised his eyebrows. “Those clubs and bars are not respectable places. You are a little girl, how can you go to places like that every day?”
Lu Na grumbled as she packed her bag, “Grandpa, you don’t get it, there’s a psionic manipulator performing at the Sky Blue Club today. I’ve been doing odd jobs for months and finally saved enough money to buy tickets. I heard Lili and the others say that even the White Knight would come.”
Hearing his own name, Bai Mo looked bewildered.
Fu Yucheng laughed out loud. “The White Knight is going to a club to entertain? It must be really difficult to make it in the world these days.”
Lu Na said, annoyed, “Fu Yucheng, what are you laughing at?! This time, this time it must be true!”
Fu Yucheng said helplessly, “Lu Na, the supposed ‘manipulators’ in those places are always fake, and, at most, they’re the ones at the lowest level deceiving young girls like you… And as for the real ones, they have two eyes and one nose just like everyone else, nothing to be fascinated with.”
Luna glared at him. “What do you know?! The White Knight is coming today! The White Knight!”
Fu Yucheng leaned towards Bai Mo’s ear and chuckled. “Your fans are really fanatical… Honestly, do you have a fanclub?”
Bai Mo asked, “What’s a fanclub?”
Grandpa Lu slapped the table. “How come you don’t listen to reason, you damn girl?! How many times have you been fooled? Why are you still like this? The moment you hear about any manipulator, you lose your brain…!”
Lu Na pouted. “My dad is a psionic manipulator, and I like manipulators.”
Grandpa Lu berated her. “Manipulators, manipulators, your dad went to the Tower of Light for training in his early twenties and we haven’t heard from him for over a decade! In my opinion, it’s better to be an ordinary person! In short, today you are not allowed to go out!”
Lu Na cried out, “No, I’m going to see the White Knight! I’m going to see the White Knight! I have been preparing a memento for a long time, and I want him to sign it!”
Fu Yucheng couldn’t help but roll his eyes secretly, then looked at Bai Mo. “Okay, White Knight, you can sign it for her.”
Bai Mo blinked innocently. “Oh.”
Lu Na snorted coldly and then scoffed. “Fu Yucheng, even if you want to lie, at least make up a decent lie! Do I seem so easy to fool?”
Fu Yucheng sighed helplessly, picked up a cup of steaming hot water before him,4 and handed it to Bai Mo. “Pass it to her.”
Bai Mo glanced at Fu Yucheng, took the cup of hot water, and handed it to Lu Na.
Lu Na muttered, “What the hell…” but still took the cup.
As soon as she received the cup, her eyes grew wide.
A cup of hot water that had been clearly steaming just a moment before had turned into a cup of solid ice, and it was cold to the touch.
Luna stared at the ice block for a long time, then she raised her head extremely slowly, staring up at Bai Mo in a daze. “You…you really are…”
Bai Mo was expressionless, but Fu Yucheng smiled at Lu Na. “See? I didn’t lie to you.”
Luna was still a little dazed when the two left the watch shop.
Grandpa Lu touched his granddaughter’s hair. “Now, you’ve finally met a real manipulator. Stop running around from now on.”
“Yeah.” Luna stared at the door of the watch shop. “When Fu Yucheng left, he said… that maybe my father would come back. What… what does he mean?”
“I don’t know.” Grandpa Lu sighed. “Once someone joins the Pioneer Project, they won’t ever be able to return after they join the training camp in the Tower of Light. Fu Yucheng… he might be just comforting us. However, Lu Na, no matter what your father is, you have to take care of yourself and live your life well. That’s the most important thing. This is what your mom and dad would want the most as well.”
Lu Na lowered her eyes and finally nodded gently.
I can’t be the only one who would like to see the club’s Bai Mo imposter.
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- 鸡毛蒜皮 ‘Chicken feather and garlic skin’, stuff you remove and throw out before cooking, worth no attention.
- *sounds of translator crying* in the raws, Fu Yucheng says he lived in a chicken coop, and since chicken is slang for prostitute Bai Mo suspected Fu Yucheng meant living in a whorehouse ah.
- I looked up recipes for fun (they’re in chinese tho but MTL will probs work?): eggplant with minced meat, cold shredded chicken, stir-fried cabbage, mushroom meat soup.
- Probably everyone knows this but in China people often drink hot/boiled water instead of hot or room temperature water because it’s considered healthier, including for meals.
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