Zheng Tan and Er Mao disliked each other from the first moment they saw each other. This first impression wasn't reversible so easily.
Er Mao told Wei Ling about his adventures these two years while keeping an eye on Zheng Tan.
Wei Ling listened while peeling peanuts for himself and the cat.
Er Mao rolled his eyes in disdain at the man acting like a slave. However, he knew Wei Ling well enough to know that there must be something very special about the cat to warrant such behavior.
Maybe it was a lucky cat.
He was still slightly doubtful. He refused to admit anything he hadn't seen with his own eyes, even if it was Wei Ling who told him about the cat.
Zheng Tan waited until there was a pile of peanuts on the table to start eating.
"Have you decided what to do next?"
"I've been running a small business these years. I don't plan to do anything for a while. I want to enjoy life."
Er Mao's eyes were on Zheng Tan when he said this. He suddenly jumped up from his seat and attacked Zheng Tan.
"Demons at bay!"
He managed to hit Zheng Tan and immediately backed away.
Wei Ling and Zheng Tan were speechless.
Zheng Tan hadn't expected this. He disliked Er Mao, but because Wei Ling was here, he didn't sense any hostility from Er Mao. His guard was down, so he didn't manage to move in time.
Er Mao didn't want to hurt him. He just stuck a piece of paper on Zheng Tan's forehead.
Zheng Tan didn't know what was on the piece of paper, but he could guess it was the kind of paper spells used to keep demons at bay in movies!
Keep demons at bay?
Zheng Tan shook his head, and the piece of paper fell off. His claws sprang out, and he pounced.
He was not going to let Er Mao get away after he attacked.
The cat and man started fighting. Er Mao s.h.i.+elded himself with a pillow, which was quickly shredded by Zheng Tan. Er Mao realized he had vastly underestimated Zheng Tan, so he quickly covered his head with his jacket and backed up to stand behind Wei Ling.
Feathers flew everywhere. The room was a mess.
Wei Ling watched without speaking. He wanted to beat Er Mao up. He was already in his twenties, yet he still did stupid stuff like this. He made him angry.
After some ten minutes, Zheng Tan sat on the coffee table and went back to eating peanuts. He was in a bad mood. No one would be happy if they were stuck with a spell. It was worse for him because he had a secret.
Er Mao slowly moved to a chair and balled up his jacket. It was in shreds. However, he didn't care as long as his face was not hurt.
"Why did you have to do that?" Wei Ling asked.
"Didn't you tell me to get along with him? Men become friends through fighting. We are like brothers because we spent our youth fighting."
Wei Ling rubbed his forehead. He pointed to the spell on the floor, "Where did you get this?"
Zheng Tan's ears perked up. He wanted to know this as well. Did Er Mao buy this because he wanted to become an exorcist?
Er Mao answered, "I met an old guy at the train station. He had a notebook and asked me for money. You can leave your name if you do donate. I gave him ten bucks, and he gave me the spell."
There were a lot of people like that at the train station. It was hard to tell if they need money or were con men. Society was becoming more and more unconcerned. Scams made people more and more cautious. Most people's first reaction, when asked for donations, was disdain instead of sympathy.
Zheng Tan didn't know if Er Mao knew the old man might be a trickster. However, he looked like someone who would buy the spell for fun even if he knew he was being tricked.
So the spell was only a souvenir?
Zheng Tan relaxed.
Wei Ling didn't care about the spell. He asked, "So you gave him your name?"
"Of course, I spent ten yuan. I practiced calligraphy for ten years. My signature was way better than the other names on the notebook."
"So next time someone donates money, they will know a man called 'w.a.n.g Ming' donated ten yuan?" Wei Ling teased him.
"I'm not that dumb. I didn't use my real name. Why tell people I fell for the trick too? That's too embarra.s.sing."
Sometimes people didn't donate because they wanted to but because they were forced. There was an article in the Newspaper about people who were beaten after they refused to 'donate.' Many felt it was very embarra.s.sing to 'donate' against one's will.
If Er Mao didn't write his name, then whose did he put down? Did he make up a name?
"Whose name did you write?" Wei Ling asked.
"w.a.n.g Bin," Er Mao said gleefully.
Zheng Tan and Wei Ling were speechless.
They wondered what his brother's reaction would be when he found out his name was used like this. This was probably one of the least infuriating things Er Mao had done. Zheng Tan wondered if the advertis.e.m.e.nts on lamp posts and bathroom walls had w.a.n.g Bin's name on them as well? It was hard to say.
Zheng Tan felt he would probably have murdered Er Mao by now if he were w.a.n.g Bin.
Wei Ling rubbed his forehead. "You know how to ask for trouble."
Er Mao chuckled. He turned his face and said to Wei Ling, "Look!"
Wei Ling didn't know what he was trying to do, "What? Grew a pimple? Or do you want me to slap you?"
"What the h.e.l.l are you saying." Er Mao pointed to his ear and said, "Look at my earlobe. See how huge it is. People say big earlobes mean big luck."
Zheng Tan checked. His earlobe was not huge, but it was large by normal standards.
Er Mao waited for Wei Ling to show his admiration. However, Wei Ling calmly shook his head, "That's bulls.h.i.+t. Even I know that's hereditary. You have big earlobes thanks to your parents. We need to respect science."
Er Mao leaned back and stared at Wei Ling. "Since when did you start to 'respect science'?"
Even Zheng Tan was surprised to those words out of Wei Ling's mouth. Was he being affected by Papa Jiao?
Wei Ling kept talking, "The eyes, nose, earlobes, and eyelashes are all dominant inheritance. The chin is too. Those stars on TV that have completely different chins than their parent must have had plastic surgery."
Er Mao was still staring at Wei Ling suspiciously. He didn't doubt his words, but he just didn't know why he knew all this. The sports and politics section of the Newspaper was the only reading he did. Since when did he read about science? He always disliked professors and so-called academics. What happened?
Wei Ling didn't give him the chance to ask.
Zheng Tan listened to them chat. He had expected them to chat about Ye Hao. However, Wei Ling hadn't mentioned him once so far. It appeared he decided to keep Er Mao out of the look. Wei Ling and Er Mao were long-time friends, but Ye Hao didn't know Er Mao. Zheng Tan could surmise that the pocket-watch was top secret. He wouldn't get any useful information today.
They stayed for a little longer before calling it a night.
Wei Ling dropped Zheng Tan off first before driving Er Mao home.
Er Mao looked more at ease without Zheng Tan in the car.
"I'll crash at your place for two weeks at most. I should be able to find an apartment by that time," Er Mao said.
"You don't need to move out. I stay at the company dorm most days anyway. If you're here, we could be roommates."
"I know you too well." Er Mao smiled mischievously, "You have a girlfriend now don't you? You should hurry up and get married. People your age have children already. You were always on duty before. But now you're free to date. I don't want to be in the way."
Though he seemed useless, he was in fact quite observant. Wei Ling didn't say more. He knew he couldn't change Er Mao's decision.
"Ok then. Have you decided whether to rent or buy?"
"I'll wait and see. If I love the place, I'll buy it. I have the money anyway. However, renting is fine too. I don't know how long I'll stay in Chuhua." Er Mao sat back in his seat, "Do you have any good suggestions?"
Wei Ling thought about it for a while, then said, "I suggest you find a place on campus. There's plenty of staff housing."