Chapter 4: Alcohol Intoxication
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Translation
The next day, Li Sui didn’t make go to the company. Lu Shang left before the sky lit up and he didn’t wake Li Sui up either. When Li Sui got up, he asked sister Lu and that was when he knew Lu Shang had an important opening ceremony in the countryside.
“Have some breakfast first, this is fresh milk that arrived this morning. Lu Lao Ban said your legs cramped last night, so he wanted you to drink more milk.”
“My legs cramped?” Li Sui had no idea.
Sister Lu laughed obscurely, “Boys who are getting taller always get cramps at night. If you don’t take the chance and eat more, you’d regret it later.”
Li Sui remembered in the midst of his slumber, there was a point when he felt a bit of pain in his legs. He wasn’t very sensitive to pain, so that little bit of it didn’t affect his sleep. He didn’t wake up, but his legs probably moved around a lot, waking Lu Shang up from his shallow sleep.
“Thank you, sister Lu.” Li Sui felt guilty. Lu Shang’s state of health was bad already, yet he interrupted his sleep. If it was someone less kind, Li Sui would have been kicked off the bed long ago, let’s not even talk about warm milk in the morning to treat him.
“You should call me Aunt Lu, I’m this old already. I could barely accept Lu Lao Ban calling me sister. You are so young that you can literally be my son, don’t call me sister.”
“Have you known Lu Lao Ban for a long time already?”
“Hum, about ten years or so.”
Li Sui thought for a bit and asked, “So you’ve taken care of the ones Lu Lao Ban had prior to me too?”
“Prior to you?” Aunt Lu paused but immediately caught on to what Li Sui was insinuating. She laughed, “What prior to you? What kind of person do you think Lu Lao Ban is?”
It was Li Sui’s turn to freeze up. He tried pushing for more answers. “There’s no way that he only has me, right? Like maybe not here but living elsewhere?” As he was asking, Li Yan came across his mind. Li Yan was a traditional rich playboy, having more ladies around him than the clouds. He had so many mistresses that they could fill up an ancient Chinese palace. Everyday he had to roll dice to decide where he would sleep. When Lu Shang first mentioned being his benefactor, he just thought he was one of many. Someone to be thrown away after Mr. Lao Ban got his laugh and had enough. Yet seeing Aunt Lu’s reaction, that didn’t seem to be the case. This made Li Sui feel uneasy.
Aunt Lu was humored up by Li Sui. “What is in that little head of yours? Lu Lao Ban is a serious person, unlike those rich and wasteful men out there. I’ve served the Lu family for so long and Lu Lao Ban has never gotten close to anyone. Not even bringing someone back home.” Even after saying that, Li Sui was still in doubt, so she added, “Don’t tell anyone, okay? I’ve never been through anything dramatic, but there is this one thing that I can’t get out of my heart. I had a husband once, he happened to be one of those unfaithful men. So, we divorced and I brought my son to live with me here. If Lu Lao Ban is someone like that too, I certainly wouldn’t serve him for so long.”
Li Sui was confused. He knew Lu Shang was different from others he had met before. Lu Shang didn’t like lively places with huge crowds and he didn’t hold any interest in going to the red-light districts either. Most of his time was spent on work. However, Li Sui never knew Lu Shang’s private life was so scarce.
“Just live here happily, okay?” Aunt Lu gave Li Sui two pieces of turnip cake, then she comforted Li Sui. “The only problem is his health and he really does need someone close to take care of him. I suggested maybe he should find a lady, but Lu Shang said ladies have never fit him from the day he was born. And then I saw him bring you home… Ha, I remember old man Yuen talking about it when he was drunk last year. Who knew that it was true. But then again, a lady really might not be able to take care of Lu Shang. You seem nice though.”
Aunt Lu didn’t specify what “it” was, she said it in a really vague way, but Li Sui could grasp what she meant. Lu Shang didn’t just suddenly want a guy with him one day, he was always a homosexual. In Li Sui’s long and complicated years of growth, his own sexuality was always a mystery. He never thought of a male loving another male as weird, as he had seen many in his years working in the bar. In his mind, whether the partner was female or male didn’t make much differences. Li Sui never fell in love with anyone before, nor was he loved by anyone. Lu Shang was the closest person to a lover he had. He felt fortunate but also insecure.
“Stop daydreaming, start eating already. Lu Lao Ban will come pick you up later.” Aunt Lu hurried Li Sui.
Lu Shang didn’t come himself, he asked someone to pick Li Sui up and drove him to the company. The first thing that greeted Li Sui after he stepped in was a huge blue logo, beneath it was the words “Tong Yan Corporation”. The offices for the higher-ups were on the top floors and Uncle Yuen only escorted him to the elevator. Li Sui walked out of the lift alone and went to the center of the floor just as the meeting ended. Scores of people left the conference room and Li Sui walked past them to find Lu Shang surrounded by people.
This was the first time Li Sui saw Lu Shang in the workplace. He was wearing a dark suit, looking calm and influential among the crowd. Sometimes tilting his head to listen and sometimes raising his hand to stop them. An indisputable aura slipped out from his little gestures and words.
Those sharp eyes caught onto Li Sui from afar. At that moment, they softened a few notches. He waved his hand for a female assistant, “Xiao Yeung, bring him to my office and give him some fruit to eat.”
The assistant replied “yes” immediately. With the interruption, everyone started looking at Li Sui, scanning him.
“There are some urgent things I need to deal with, wait for me in the office, okay?” Lu Shang tapped on Li Sui’s shoulder lightly after he turned around.
Li Sui felt his heart clench, he immediately lowered his head and replied a light, “Hmm.”
The female assistant brought out a plate of strawberries and she even poured Li Sui a cup of coffee. Li Sui couldn’t smell the nice aroma of coffee beans, instead he only found it bitter.
“Oh, you are not used to it.” She said and left to get milk tea. When she returned, a few plushies appeared in Li Sui’s hands. The plushies were little turtles with green shells, there were five to six of them. They all looked the same but were in different sizes, as if they were a family.
Those were one of the higher-up’s seven-year-old daughter’s toys, he forgot about them when he left. Li Sui stared at the little turtles scattered on the table, for some reason he just couldn’t stand them all messed up. So, after the assistant left, he sorted them, then stacked them up according to their sizes. As an assistant, instead of tidying them up herself, she left her guest to do it, of course this was a miss on her part. She was going to clean them away, feeling dejected, but Lu Shang stopped her.
“Let him have them.”
The assistant was startled, she had no idea when Lu Shang arrived at the door. The later didn’t look at her though. Lu Shang’s gaze went through her, reaching Li Sui, his expression was deep and focused. Gossip and stories surfaced in her mind, the situation was beyond her coping power so she left the room with a pale face.
“What’s wrong with her?” Li Sui raised his head and asked.
Lu Shang closed the office door indifferently, “She is a new intern. She’s a little careless in her work. You don’t have to mind her. Come to think of it, I haven’t asked yet. Do you mind if I tell everyone about our relationship?” He sat down across Li Sui.
Li Sui heard Lu Shang call his name the first time, so his tongue twisted, “Lu Lao Ban… doesn’t mind?”
“I don’t mind.” Lu Shang said directly.
“Then I don’t mind either.”
“Why? Aren’t you afraid others would look down on you?”
“You saved me, not anyone else.”
Lu Shang was shocked, he didn’t know Li Sui would classify people like that. Lu Shang picked him up without thinking much, but Li Sui had already classified him as the most important person. This pure and simple sentence made what Lu Shang was about to say harder.
“Are you still afraid I will return you to Li Yan?” Lu Shang tried asking.
The hands that were holding the soft toys tightened subconsciously.
Observing the slight change, Lu Shang sighed. He picked up a strawberry with a toothpick, delivering it to Li Sui’s mouth. Gently he said, “Your life is in your own hands, to leave or stay, you have the right to decide. So, you don’t have to worry. If, one day, you make up your mind to leave, I’ll send you to a safe place.” After Lu Shang finished, he smiled lightly, “This will take effect forever.”
Li Sui’s mouth was stuffed full of strawberries. Hearing what Lu Shang said, he felt hints of bitterness linger in his throat. Lu Shang was more sensitive than Li Sui had originally thought. The things Li Sui did to butter up to him or to try his intentions were all seen clearly. Lu Shang knew what Li Sui was doing, but he didn’t voice them out. Instead, Lu Shang used this bland, vague way to tell Li Sui that “it’s fine now, he is accepted here”. Li Sui felt like the little turtle in his hands, as if his shell was forced open and the insecurities hiding beneath were pulled out for the naked eye to see.
At that moment, someone knocked on the door, cutting into their conversation.
“Executive Lu, Yan Ke returned the call, he agreed to use 6% of his stocks to…” The other person said half of the sentence and stopped abruptly.
Lu Shang waved his hand, “He is one of our people, please continue.”
The person who walked in hurriedly was a short man. He wore a pair of glasses and his face was lively, giving of a intelligent aura. He had never seen Li Sui before, so he hesitated. He lowered his voice and whispered into Lu Shang’s ears just to be safe.
Li Sui couldn’t hear what they were saying, neither was he interested. He only noticed the expression that appeared on Lu Shang’s face, after he finished hearing what the man had to say, could only be described as somewhat happy. “Agree to his demands.”
The man in glasses replied with a worried face, “Then your stock holdings would reach 40%, isn’t that too eye-catching?”
Lu Shang contemplated, “Let’s make a deal with him in secret for now, leave the real transfer till next year.”
The glasses man nodded, “I will go make the contract now.”
Before the man left the room, Lu Shang said, “WeiLan, tell Yan Ke that I’m borrowing his daughter’s toys.”
Xe WeiLan was baffled, “What?”
Lu Shang picked up a turtle and waved it around, Xe WeiLan laughed at his own stupidity and left.
As the heavy snow showed no signs of subsiding, the two of them left the company in the afternoon. Li Sui saw a couple of trucks taking out boxes of champagne, then it struck him, today was the last day of the year. There would be an employee’s dinner tonight. He finally realized that it was going to be the new year soon.
Lu Shang brought Li Sui to a dojo at the foot of a mountain. Surrounding the building was a field of bamboo trees making it a serene place. Li Sui walked in and found a lot of people sitting inside, mostly men. Their attire was casual and some didn’t even wear tops. Inside the dojo was the strong smell of cigarettes and beer. Unlike the white-collar workers in the company, it was evident that these people weren’t office workers.
“Thank you for the wait.” The second Lu Shang walked in, everyone stood up to greet him. The one leading them was a huge, muscular man that went by the name, Zuo Chao.
“Zuo, let them set up the table.” Lu Shang said, “Let’s talk while we eat.”
A large round table that could accommodate thirty people was set up. Lu Shang sat in the center seat while Li Sui sat on his right (iii). That was originally Zuo Chao’s seat, but when he saw Lu Shang brought someone with him, he let Li Sui have the seat instead. It was meant to be a symbolical act only, Zuo Chao didn’t expect Lu Shang to really give the seat to Li Sui, but he did. This act stated a few things, everyone including Zuo Chao had some unspoken thoughts.
T/N: (iii) The center seat means the position of the round table that’s facing the door, which is traditionally for the owner of the house, while the seat on the right (The right of the person sitting at the center seat) is for the most important guest, and the seat on the left for the second most important guest.
From past to present, the highlight of a banquet was always the raising of a glass by the owner. But this place was a little different, the guests drank glass after glass while the owner, Lu Shang, only drank tea. No one seemed to mind though, everyone was quite happy with the banquet. Li Sui could see that Lu Shang had a deep relationship with these people, at least to the point where they could lose the formalities during their conversations.
“Come, little guy. Lu Shang can’t drink alcohol, but big brother will pour you a glass.” Zuo Chao was the kind of guy who would treat people he first met like old friends. Seeing Li Sui burying his head in food, he couldn’t help but open a bottle of white wine to tease him.
Li Sui naturally looked at Lu Shang, the later however just smiled and didn’t say anything.
“I don’t know how to drink alcohol…” Li Sui said with a tiny voice.
“Don’t know how? No worries, big brother will teach you. You see, with alcohol, it’s overwhelming the first time, but come the second time, you’ll be used to it. Now, come on!” He poured the wine out while he was still speaking.
Li Sui stared at the wine that was about to spill out, he immediately extended his arm to stop him, screaming, “No! Stop! I can’t drink that much.”
“Come, come.” Zuo Chao clinked his glass to Li Sui’s and said, “Big brother will drink first.” He gulped all the contents down in one go, he even turned the cup upside down, slamming it on the table. Everyone cheered him on.
This glass of wine had at least 150 mL inside, Li Sui was astonished by his capacity for alcohol. He also knew he couldn’t get away from this with everyone around him rubbing salt into his injuries, saying stuff like, “Come on, drink it. Give Zuo Chao some face.”
“Yeah, drink it.”
“You were brought here by Lu Lao Ban, you can’t let him down.”
Li Sui was lost, he turned to his side to look at Lu Shang once again, only to find the same smile on him, it didn’t seem like Lu Shang was going to help him get out of this. He wasn’t sure whether he should drink it or not, so he held the glass up, forcing himself to take a sip. The white wine was scorching, the second he drank it down, his eyebrows and nose wrinkled up, his whole face went red as he choked.
Everyone laughed, even Lu Shang laughed while shaking his head.
“Little bro, you can’t drink wine like this. You need to gulp it down, GULP!” Zuo Chao said in a hurry.
“That’s enough, don’t you think?” Lu Shang said softly.
After the initial burn, Li Sui finally sensed some aftertaste, it was a sweet aroma.
“Lu Lao Ban, what are you so worried about? A little bit of wine won’t kill him.” Someone working under Zuo Chao laughed.
“It’s New Year’s Eve after all. Wouldn’t he be great in bed for Lu Lao Ban if we got him drunk?”
Once the horny topics started, the atmosphere of the whole banquet changed. There were just so many topics guys could talk about, and the only one who brought someone was Lu Shang. Hence, Li Sui became their focal point in teasing.
While the “focal point” himself seemed to be oblivious, he was battling with the glass of wine in his hand. Li Sui didn’t drink fast, but after the first sip, it was as if he was addicted. While everyone was chatting, the whole glass of wine went into his stomach.
“Oh! You’re pretty good.” Zuo Chao clapped his hands.
Lu Shang patted Li Sui’s back as he smiled, “Don’t force yourself.”
Li Sui felt pretty nice, he didn’t feel dizzy nor uncomfortable. Though he had stayed in a bar for years, this was the first time he had any, so curiosity won over his fear.
As they say, alcohol boosts one’s confidence, Li Sui poured another glass and said, “Big brother Zuo, I challenge you.”
“Oh, you little shrimp. Good, brave!” Zuo Chao laughed loudly, he poured a glass for himself too and drank all of it down.
As Li Sui opened the door to challenges, everyone came up to challenge him too. So Li Sui realized they weren’t uninterested in alcohol, it was just that no one poured them a glass.
Lu Shang only warned Li Sui a few times in the beginning, but afterwards he just pretended to see nothing. He lowered his head and started discussing business with Zuo Chao.
There were only a few days where they could celebrate like this, so no one cared about their respective social status. The banquet was conducted in a way in which everyone, guests and host alike, were having fun to their fullest. Not only was all the food displayed, some treasured bottles of wine were also splayed out for the special occasion.
After Zuo Chao finished his business talk with Lu Shang, he held his stomach, “Wherever did you find this treasure? He was able to drink so many. Even I’m admitting defeat. Nope, I’m going to take a leak. Watch him for me, don’t let him get all my boys drunk.”
Hearing that, Lu Shang turned his head around. In his sights was a whole room of drunk men, lying around. The only one standing was Li Sui, he was shaking the wine bottle alone melancholically, looking around to see if anyone was still alive.
“Li Sui.” Lu Shang called.
The one being called turned his head around, he stared blankly at Lu Shang with clouded eyes. Lu Shang knew in his heart that this kid was actually drunk, it just didn’t show much in his actions.
“Come here.” Lu Shang waved his hand.
Li Sui floated over to Lu Shang like a ghost, when he was one to two steps away from Lu Shang, his legs gave out. He fell down onto Lu Shang’s lap and hugged his legs, “All of them lost.”
His actions were like a golden puppy waiting for his owner’s praise. Lu Shang hugged him back, rubbing his head and comforting him, “Hmm, was it hard?”
Li Sui shook his head, he said, “No one challenged you?”
Lu Shang fell silent, he moved his hand to check Li Sui’s pupils, “No one here dares challenge me.”
“Please sleep with me.” Li Sui grabbed a hold of Lu Shang’s hand.
Lu Shang was taken aback, he asked, “Why do you want me to sleep with you?”
A pair of puppy dog eyes replied Lu Shang, “Don’t send me away…”
This was probably about the conversation they had this morning. The boy misunderstood and he feared Lu Shang would shove him away. Lu Shang pondered for a while before he pulled him up and pat the dust on Li Sui’s knees away. He giggled, “I won’t send you away if I slept with you?”
Li Sui scrunched his eyes, his brain not following the conversation. Lu Shang gave up on discussing the subject with him, he raised his hand for the waiter to get him a wet towel. After cleaning Li Sui’s face, he asked for a room above, so that Li Sui could rest.
“The little turtles…”
“The little turtles are in the car.” Lu Shang knew that you couldn’t reason with someone who was drunk, so he just tried to please Li Sui as much as he could. Seeing Li Sui stare at the door and not moving, he had no choice but to call the driver for the turtles.
Zuo Chao, who had finished taking his leak, leaned on the door frame, watching their whole exchange. “Did you pick up a son on the streets or something?”
Lu Shang rubbed his own forehead and sighed, “Let’s talk about the important things, okay?”
Zuo Chao stopped his smiling, “Officer Ng from the west district contacted me today, he said they caught a gun smuggling operation recently. Most of the guns were confiscated, but according to the culprit, some went to the black market already. I saw a familiar name among the related personnel list, it was someone with Liu XinTian.”
Lu Shang’s face turned grim, “Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. That guys’ uncle stole one of my bro’s ladies before, we were fighting over that back then. Isn’t Liu XinTian one of Tong Yan’s stockholders? Why would he need guns? Anyway, the more I think about it, the more uneasy I feel. Beware of him, okay?”
Lu Shang thought for a while, “Arrange a few guards around my house, especially when I’m not home.” After that, he peeked at where Li Sui was sleeping and said, “Also whenever he goes out, find two guys to tail him.”
“I understand.” Zuo Chao said, “What about you?”
“He’s not going to do anything to me. I’m sure he wants me to deal with his mess overseas first, probably in the name of expanding the company. And I’m only going to get Yan Ke’s share next year.”
“Changing ownership of shares requires other shareholders to agree, right? Are they going to let you get that many?”
“No, they won’t want me to. But I temporarily cut off a few old guys’ money sources. They will want them back, so they will agree. Liu XinTian only has 20% of the stocks, so him alone rejecting won’t do any good.”
“I don’t understand your company’s workings, having more shares is good, but it could also attract unnecessary danger. Be careful, okay?”
After their talk, they went their separate ways. Tong Yan was holding an employee banquet that night, as the corporate director, Lu Shang had to attend.
As of past years, the most important part was the lottery. This year’s prizes were prepared by the small fry workers in the company, Lu Shang never cared about what they bought. He just gave them a budget and let them buy whatever they wanted.
As such, he won himself a pack of Okamoto 001.
T/N: (iv) A Japanese condom brand.