Chapter 16: Dropped Formalities
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“I’m going out for a bit.” Li Sui left in a hurry.
Yan Ke burst into laughter, “How is your child so innocent?”
Lu Shang looked at Li Sui’s back. He was in a good mood, his lips curved upwards slightly.
On the deck, a light breeze stroked Li Sui’s face, blowing away the sweat on his forehead. He leaned on the railing, his index finger tracing his own lips. It was like someone turned on the loop function in his brain, he was reminiscing in the refreshing sensation that spread along his teeth over and over again. Sweet and soft, mixed with refreshing iciness and aloofness, that was what Lu Shang tasted like. Li Sui laughed uncontrollably in the wind, it was like a dream come true, he couldn’t believe it. Lu Shang kissed him; they shared a kiss! As if a life-long dream had come true in an instant, he was so thrilled that he had no idea what to do.
Li Sui turned back, facing the ship. The lights twinkled in the vast sea; they were like stars glowing in the night sky. All the discomfort and anxiousness he felt when he first boarded the ship were gone, all of it became sweetness. Even the prostitutes’ flirtatious laughter sounded pleasing now, all the memories he had of this place were washed into pleasantness in an instant.
Under the light breeze, he even began to dream. Maybe, just maybe Lu Shang liked him back. Even if it was just a little bit, maybe he was at least a teensy bit special in Lu Shang’s heart.
Perhaps it was the same for every soul in love. Always loathing their own overthinking self, all the while unable to refrain from searching for clues, clues that could affirm those same ridiculed guesses. Reluctant to part with that one in a million chance of hope, even knowing all too well that he was dreaming the impossible. This described Li Sui’s current emotional state perfectly.
He couldn’t stop recalling how Lu Shang always took great care of him, how he was always kind and meticulous. Always wearing a light smile, his gaze was gentle and considerate… Li Sui paused there, he must be crazy to even think about that, why would something so delusional pop up in his mind?
As it was, Lu Shang might have treated him too well, so well that Li Sui almost forgot Lu Shang was his benefactor; their relationship stemmed from one thing: a contract. Lu Shang had no sexual desire for him, instead he had a sense of compassion and care. It felt more like he was adopted by Lu Shang, and Lu Shang really did treat him like a kid. They slept in the same bed together every night, if Lu Shang really had any desire for him, would Lu Shang not have acted on it already?
As his thoughts trailed to this point, his ecstatic mood began to die. Beginning to feel a little depressed even under the chilly wind. He felt a little tired as his emotions swung back and forth.
I’ve left for too long. Li Sui pinched the bridge of his nose. While turning back towards the railing, he stumbled.
Lu Shang was leaning slothfully on the railing, swinging a glass of sparkling wine. He was staring at Li Sui smiling but also kind of not, from the looks of it, Lu Shang had been standing there for a while already.
“You, you came out here?” Li Sui’s tongue twisted, just thinking about how Lu Shang might have seen all his foolish expressions made him blush again.
Lu Shang handed the glass of wine to Li Sui, “What are you thinking?”
“Nothing much.” Li Sui replied. He buried his head in the beverage, the smell of alcohol was mild, fruit juices were mixed in, making the drink quite refreshing. He finished half of the contents and through the body of the glass container, he saw Lu Shang. Lu Shang was facing against the sea, his elbows propped on the handrails. His eyes were looking up at the sky, arching his neck and emphasizing the attractive protrusion at his throat. The wind messed his bangs up, the soft strands fluttered in the air, gliding past his pointed nose.
With a more detailed look, Li Sui realised that Lu Shang’s appearance wasn’t all that similar to a traditional Chinese person. His face was more angular than most Chinese, the coloration of his pupils was also lighter. Li Sui couldn’t stop looking at him, it took him a while to finish the wine, he then asked, “Are you mixed-raced?”
Lu Shang tilted his head and took a glance of him, “Why do you think so?”
Because you are too good-looking. That was what he replied in his heart, but out loud, he said, “I just feel like you mix in well with the foreigners on this ship.”
“Maybe.” Lu Shang smiled lightly, “I don’t know.”
The answer startled Li Sui a bit. If there were things Lu Shang didn’t want to tell him, he just wouldn’t say a word. However, just now, he answered ‘he didn’t know.’ Li Sui remembered that he seldom heard about Lu Shang’s parents; no one mentioned anything. From that, Li Sui deduced that it would be best for him not to ask, as there might be a not so comforting story behind it.
“By the way, I need to go back home next month.” Lu Shang closed his eyes and thought for a bit, “You should come with me.”
“To do what?”
“Paying respects to the dead.” Lu Shang opened his eyes, “It’s my father’s death anniversary.”
Li Sui was a little stunned yet again, but he didn’t answer. Seeing Lu Shang contemplate in silence, he decided not to speak either.
The atmosphere on the ship was vivacious, cheers and laughter echoed through the hallways. The two of them enjoyed the breeze quietly, just when they were about to leave, Yan Ke rushed down from the second-floor deck. He saw the two and immediately dragged Lu Shang forward.
“Come, come, come. Help me.”
Li Sui pulled Yan Ke’s hand off, he stood between the two and said, “If brother Yan need something, I will do my best in Lu Shang’s place.”
“You can’t.” Yan Ke seemed anxious, he looked at Lu Shang and said, “The son of the SiMa family lost some money gambling. He is saying he will kill himself and is hanging at the back of the ship right now. You are his senior too, come persuade him with me.”
Lu Shang didn’t budge after hearing that, he just asked, “Is it the older one or the younger one?”
“Of course it’s the older one. The younger one is so favored, why would he care about losing a bit of money?”
Lu Shang hesitated but decided to follow him. Li Sui could sense that Lu Shang didn’t really want to get involved, he only went after balancing the pros and cons. Thinking about it now, Lu Shang really wasn’t a sympathetic person, saving Li Sui and bringing him back was truly out of the ordinary.
Walking past the hallway, they arrived at the back deck. A crowd had formed around the deck already, a few lifeboats were also floating near the ship, the situation was chaotic and noisy. Everyone’s gazes were on the teenager standing outside the railings, his attire was all white, tears covered his face; age wise he looked similar to Li Sui.
“Don’t come any closer, I will jump off right now if anyone does!” The teenager screamed as his hands that were grasping the handrail loosened a few millimetres. The crowd began to shout again, trying to stop him.
The guards were scared too, they began laying out cushion mattresses on the deck below. SiMa JingRong climbed on the restricted floor with a ladder, said ladder was originally for hanging ornaments. The drop from the railing to the next deck was about three stories tall, and the deck below was made of hard steel. If he were to fall from there, he’d be paralyzed, if not dead.
“SiMa JingRong!” Yan Ke screamed, “Look who’s here, it’s your Uncle Lu. If you have any problems, tell him, he will help you. Don’t be rash.”
Lu Shang looked like he was in a real pinch, that was rare for him. He considered his options for a bit and said, “How much money did you lose? I can give you a loan.”
Li Sui would have burst into laughter already if it wasn’t inappropriate, what kind of a comfort was that? Not only did it point his mishap aloud, it even hurt his pride. Li Sui was too used to invincible Lu Shang, he never thought this was his shortcoming.
Hearing what Lu Shang said, SiMa JingRong’s face turned pale. He shouted, “I don’t want your money, you’re the same as my father, you guys are bad people. Deep in all of your hearts, you wish me dead!”
Li Sui’s face darkened; his gaze also turned cold.
T/N: Li Sui was like “How dare you say my Lu Shang isn’t a good person.” *Death stare*
Lu Shang’s expression, however, did not change. He asked, “Why do you think that?”
SiMa JingRong was still a child at heart, he felt guilt for the mean words he had said. Crying even louder than before, he made incoherent sentences while sobbing, “I… the money my mum left for me, he took all of it. He wants me dead so that all the shares I have of the company can go to that… to SiMa Yan. He only sees that bitch’s son as his. He has never thought of me as his son.”
Listening up to this point, everyone had full grasp of his family background. As they say, don’t wash your dirty linen in public. This kid didn’t just tell someone, he told everyone on the ship about something so private, he was truly naïve. The SiMa family always lacked compassion, they treasured money and authority more than family, no wonder his father favored the younger son over the older one.
“This solves nothing. Come down and we can think of some solutions together.” Yan Ke screamed.
“What solutions? My father doesn’t love me. No matter what I do, I can’t win over the little son. There’s no other satisfying solution except my death!”
Lu Shang was feeling helpless. He was never great at comforting people, especially when their ideals were so different, he didn’t like forcing his thoughts on others and he liked persuading people to change even less. If this person had nothing to do with him, and he decided to kill himself, Lu Shang would at best nod and say, ‘Remember to prepare for the funeral first.’
Li Sui had a very unfriendly look on his face, but he had been observing quietly from the side all this time. It was only now that Lu Shang noticed, when compared to teens the same age, Li Sui was a lot more obedient, smart and reliable. When given an important task, he would also complete it responsibly. Li Sui being like that had saved Lu Shang a lot of trouble. He also had to admit, with how much he hated noises, if Li Sui was anything like SiMa JingRong, he’d kick him out in less than a day.
Lu Shang looked at the weeping teen on the upper deck and thought, ‘they are both around eighteen years old, how could they be so different?’
“Then you should jump.”
The crowd froze, their gazes went to the youngster speaking. Li Sui stood beside Lu Shang, he had his arms crossed in front of his chest, looking like he was enjoying the show.
“Li Sui!” Yan Ke immediately stopped him.
Li Sui only glanced at Lu Shang, seeing that Lu Shang didn’t comment, he continued, “There are people in this world who’d do anything to stay alive. But you, you would die for something so stupid? Your life is so worthless.”
Yan Ke was startled, even Lu Shang was taken aback by this. But seeing Li Sui’s seemingly calm expression, and his clenched fists, it didn’t take Lu Shang long to put two and two together.
Li Sui was angry at the gibberish SiMa JingRong sprouted. For some reason, hearing what SiMa JingRong said made his brain replay a scene. That day he woke up from his nightmare, rushing out the bedroom only to find Lu Shang trying so hard to take his medicine. When he looked back at this person here, for the first time, Li Sui felt disgust over a person’s actions. It was so difficult to hold back his frustrations, as if hundreds of worms were crawling behind his head.
No reply came back from the upper deck.
“If you think dying is a better choice, then you can jump all you want. We definitely will not be catching you. We shall see what people will think of you then, will they mourn you? Or will they see you as a joke?”
Yan Ke finally caught the drift, Li Sui’s jab was a little too harsh, he should be giving SiMa JingRong some sweeteners now, “JingRong, there aren’t unsolvable problems. Come down and we can talk it through. You don’t live for your father alone, right? You are still so young; you will have your own family in the future. Think about your mother, she risked so much giving birth to you. Think of how she will feel in heaven if you do this.”
They took turns talking to him and it worked wonders, SiMa JingRong trembled but stopped crying. Seeing the change, Lu Shang asked the guards to climb up the ladder to rescue him.
The crowd began to disperse, Yan Ke was a kind-hearted person deep inside, so he continued directing the guards, bringing SiMa JingRong to the cabin safely. Seeing that SiMa JingRong no longer wished to die, Lu Shang’s shoulders relaxed, he turned back looking for Li Sui.
Li Sui had already left the cabin. He was aimlessly squatting at the corner of the deck. Sensing Lu Shang, he asked, “Did I cause you trouble?”
Lu Shang smiled, “No, you didn’t.”
Lu Shang was never a sentimental person, his emotions were like a rock by the sea, being grinded by the waves for years, the rock flattened. Any sort of emotion he experienced was wishy-washy like cotton. What Li Sui said was like a shard of glass, it easily stabbed a hole through that piece of cotton.
The rescued SiMa JingRong continued crying. A lady brought him some desserts, he ate them while hiccupping, he couldn’t stop sobbing for a long time. Li Sui followed behind Lu Shang, they passed scores of people to finally reach the exit of the ship. When they walked past SiMa JingRong, he and Li Sui gazed into each other’s eyes, both feeling complicated. The ocean breeze blew on their faces, the smell of alcohol lingered in the air.
Li Sui stepped forward, following close behind Lu Shang, not looking back.
When they got back home that night, Li Sui still looked gloomy. Lu Shang got out of the shower, seeing that Li Sui was still in a trance, with a face that looked like an ostrich, ready to bury his head straight into the floor. Lu Shang couldn’t help but sigh, he pulled Li Sui up to face him. “Are you still thinking about what happened earlier?”
Li Sui was in a depressed state; he shook his head but didn’t reply.
Lu Shang squeezed Li Sui’s hand lightly, he said to him, “Li Sui, it’s fine. Eventually, I will…”
“Let’s not talk about this.” Li Sui cut into him mid-sentence, he leaned forward and hugged Lu Shang.
The force Li Sui exerted was a bit too much, it hurt Lu Shang’s chest, but he held the gasp in. His hand stroked Li Sui’s back gently.
Li Sui buried his head in Lu Shang’s clothes, saying sulkily, “I’m a little tired. Lu Shang, can I hug you for a while as we sleep?”
Lu Shang noticed that he had dropped the formalities, directly calling his name. Lu Shang never cared much for how people referred to him, he didn’t really hate Li Sui hugging him either. He nodded and let Li Sui lead him back to the bed.
T/N: Don’t expect anything, they just slept.