Edited by DancingDolphinsYo
Throughout the entire event, Ning Lan was pondering over how to be that coward.
As he could be somewhat considered a public figure now, his schedule was not a secret in the least. Even if he managed to run away this time, it would not be forever. However, thinking over it carefully, he was usually in places that had more people, and these people would talk. Situations like today where he had been caught alone would be infrequent.
In any case, he would decide what to do after escaping first.
Countless scenarios ran through his head, and he was completely engrossed in his thoughts. When going onstage to take a group photo, Ning Lan did not pay attention to where he was placing his feet, and accidentally stepped on Gu Chenkai, thus receiving a severe eye-rolling from the youth.
Their statement for the charity organisation was to be expressed by their group leader, and so Ning Lan just stood by the side in a daze. Even when his blank expression was captured by the cameras, he did not notice anything at all.
When walking offstage, Fang Yu nudged him with his elbow, hiding his mouth behind his hand and asking, “What happened to your chin?”
Ning Lan returned to the present. Reaching up, he felt his chin. It still hurt a little, and it should have turned swollen from the pinch just now.
“I knocked into something accidentally, it’s fine,” he said.
Fang Yu took out a concealer. “We’ll still be appearing in front of the cameras for some time. Apply this first before returning to your seat.”
Ning Lan was completely amazed by Fang Yu. He felt that the youth could be a reincarnation of Doraemon, with how he always managed to pull something good out of his pockets at the right time.
Hiding in a corner, Ning Lan applied the concealer. When he returned to his seat, he discovered that it was occupied by Gao Ming, and so he could only sit next to Sui Yi, near the passageway.
The moment he sat down, Sui Yi’s gaze swept lightly across his face. In a businesslike manner, he said, “After the event, don’t run around. We have to gather back at the company.”
Ning Lan nodded distractedly. “Mn, got it.”
Now, he desperately wished that there could be group activities 24/7. It would take horses to drag him away from the group!
There was nothing to eat at all during the event, and even when drinking water, they would need to hide the action as much as possible, afraid that the cameras would catch them at an ugly angle. When the host onstage finally announced the end of the charity event, the seven people of AOW stood up eagerly. After making their farewells to the seniors around them, they left the venue with the crowd.
The closer they got to the exit, the faster Ning Lan’s heart pounded, the beat reverberating through his ears. He followed closely behind Sui Yi, shifting incrementally with small steps. In his heart, he prayed that the stout man would not see him, and even if he did, he would let him off first due to the number of people surrounding them.
He wished that he could just roll himself up into a ball, or tunnel his way through the ground. However, the wishes could not come true, and he could only try his best to bow his head, hiding himself behind Sui Yi’s height.
Sui Yi’s steps were not big, and halfway through, a distance was formed with their group mates in front. Ning Lan hid behind him, optimistically hoping that right now, he should not be able to be seen.
Who would have guessed that the eyes of that stout man were so sharp. At the exit where the crowd parted, he immediately caught sight of Ning Lan. With a cigarette between his lips, and a dark expression, he strode over, reaching out to catch him.
Ning Lan could only watch as the man came towards him, his heart about to leap into his throat. Just as the hand of that stout man was about to land on him, Sui Yi, who was originally walking in front of him, moved, shielding Ning Lan behind him.
Missing his target, the stout man impatiently shifted, wanting to catch Ning Lan. Sui Yi caught his reaching hand, asking, “What are you doing?”
The stout man measured him with a sweeping glance. “Where did this brat come from, to be such a busybody?”
After a moment, he felt that this person looked a little familiar. His eyes darted between the two of them, and he said, “Yo, isn’t this our Xiao Lanlan’s husband? Or is it the stepson?”
Sui Yi’s appearance was truly too eyecatching, and it was no wonder that the man could remember him with just one glance.
The development of this situation was not among the scenarios Ning Lan had imagined. Bracing himself, he put on a show. “Ge, you’re here? I was looking for you just now… Lead, Lead, let go, we’re all friends here.”
Sui Yi looked at him coldly, surveying their surroundings with the corner of his eyes. Seeing that no one was paying attention to them, he slowly let go of his grip.
The stout man too did not want to cause a fuss in public. In any other situation, the combination of these two brats would be nothing to him. Snorting unhappily at Sui Yi, he curled his finger towards Ning Lan. “Let’s go, Xiao Lanlan.”
“He has to return to the company with me,” Sui Yi stated.
Afraid that the stout man would say something unpleasant, Ning Lan quickly pleaded, “Ge, just wait for a while more, just a little while more. I’ll just report to the company first, then I’ll be done very quickly.”
This was a public place where many people were walking around, and there were also many cameras at the exit. Over there, security had already been keeping an eye on them, and so the stout man did not flare up, only warning Ning Lan to continue being obedient and not play any tricks. After shooting him a vicious glare, the man felt that he had been threatening enough, and so let him off for now.
Even when their car stopped at the company’s office, and the members of AOW filed out of the car one by one, entering the building in pairs or threes, the prickling sensation on Ning Lan’s back still did not subside. It felt as if there was a pair of eyes staring at him darkly.
When Ning Lan again feigned casualness and turned his head around for the nth time, Sui Yi, walking right at the back, said, “He didn’t follow us here.”
Ning Lan hunched into himself reflexively. When turning back, he realised that his other group members had already entered the previous lift and headed up. Right now, in the lobby, there were only Sui Yi and him. Temporarily, he let down his guard, wiping away at the sweat on the back of his neck, and said to Sui Yi behind him, “Thank you.”
After pressing the button for the lift, Ning Lan silently watched as the number on the display changed, thinking about what he should do next.
He also did not know why he was always like this, ending up in such a miserable and wretched situation. Even more so, nearly every single time, it would be witnessed by this person next to him. According to this person’s usual prejudice against him, he was most definitely thinking that Ning Lan was doing it on purpose.
Hanging his head down, Ning Lan stared at his toes. He felt that he was really hopeless, to still be concerned about what this person was thinking about him at this moment.
When the lift finally descended to the ground floor, the two people entered. The whole time, they maintained a socially accepted distance between them. The silent atmosphere made Ning Lan feel a little at a loss for what to do, and so he continued staring at the number displayed in the lift. When the number “5” was shown, Sui Yi suddenly opened his mouth again, “You really want a sugar daddy?”
Ning Lan’s eyes rounded abruptly. He turned to look at Sui Yi, his lips moving a few times, but no words came out.
Seeing how panic-stricken Ning Lan was, Sui Yi felt even more restless. Just now, during that event, Ning Lan had spent too long in the washroom, and so he went to look for him. It was completely an accident when he heard their conversation.
If he did not overhear it, Sui Yi would not have known that this fellow was still thinking about taking a shortcut in his career. Looking at how he had been doing nothing but quietly going to the company then back to the dorm everyday, Sui Yi had naively thought that Ning Lan had already turned a new leaf.
Things only proved that he had already abandoned himself, wallowing in abasement. Why else would he agree so breezily, instead of seeking help?
Thinking about this, the corners of Sui Yi’s mouth curled up in a self-mocking smile, feeling that the question that had burst out from him was completely meaningless. Ning Lan had such an interesting and varied social circle, and it was most likely that the people he knew would be very capable as well. Why would he seek help and shelter from him? Whether it was following the unspoken rules, or whether he was to find a sugar daddy, these were the choices Ning Lan made. If he did not want to lead a clean and scrupulous life, no one would be able to stop him.
As Sui Yi was contemplating this, Ning Lan’s expression had already recovered. His look of panic faded away, and he said calmly, “What does it have to do with you?”
His words were light and breezy, but behind his back, his fists were tightly clenched, trembling slightly.
Still, Sui Yi only saw his cold and indifferent eyes, as well as that unexpected reddish mark on his sharp chin.
The lift stopped on the 22nd floor. Only when the doors nearly closed again, did Ning Lan slowly exit. He walked in front as he rubbed his sweaty palms against his clothes imperceptibly.
In the summer night, the corridor was very dark. Only the footfalls of these two people could be heard, disturbing the warm and long silence.
Behind him, someone called out, the sudden voice cracking through the dark.
Ning Lan’s back stiffened. As though possessed, his feet came to a stop.
Sui Yi caught up to him, standing closer. It felt as though there was a gasp of air trapped in his chest, and he spoke to the back that was almost fading into the dark, “Since it all just ends up in you finding a sugar daddy, then, I’ll take that role.”
That voice was low and pleasant, knocking against his unsteady, swaying fragility. It was like the only beam of light that could lead him out of this swamp in this endless dark.