WE MONSTERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE SINGLE CHAPTER 18

This brief commotion soon died down, but Grandpa Yao kept shaking his head, lamenting the pitiful behaviors of young people these days.

Jiang Lan smiled at these and pointed to Xiao Hei, who at this moment just returned with the medicine.” Here is a perfect young man. They are not all like that girl.”

Grandpa Yao laughed.” Right, the same rice feeds a hundred of different people[1]A  Chinese saying means the same life circumstance born and bred different lives.”

Xiao Hei was confused by their attention.” What’s the matter?”

Grandpa Yao said.” Nothing is a matter. I just asked Jiang Lan to buy clothing for you. Look at what you wear.”

Xiao Heid hung the plastic bag containing medicine on the wheelchair handlebars and started to wheel him out.” I am not cold.”

He really meant it. Despite his low-level cultivation, he was pretty strong compared with ordinary mortals.

But Grandpa Yao apparently didn’t believe him and kept nagging about it. Xiao Hei wasn’t in the least bothered by the nagging, quite the opposite, he enjoyed the attention. 

They hailed a taxi to come home. Their flats were at the opposite ends of the same corridor, so they took the same elevator. 

A thought struck Xiao Hei the moment he walked out of the elevator. He turned to Jiang Lan with an urgent look and stammered.” That…That… Da Hei had to remain in your care for a few days. After I tidy up the house, I will come to pick him up.”

His low weak voice betrayed his sense of guilt.

Grandpa Yao still hadn’t found out about Da Hei’s death. Before, it was Xiao Hei who was disguised as Da Hei. Now with him in human form, there wouldn’t be a Da Hei around.

That’s why he made up an excuse to play for time and looked at Jiang Lan with a plea in his eyes.

Luckily Grandpa Yao didn’t sense anything wrong. He smiled at Jiang Lan.” I troubled you so much. After my legs are healed, I will invite you over for dinner.”

Jiang Lan gladly accepted while secretly giving Xiao Hei a reassuring smile.

It rained again on Monday.

It was still a long way off till the rainy season, but the rains kept coming.

Because of the foul weather, Jiang Lan hurried to the office with a brief stop to buy two tea eggs as his meager breakfast.

He was a little late. Everyone had already taken their seats when he walked in.

After draining the water on the umbrella into the water bucket by the door, he opened the umbrella to let it air dry on an empty slot behind the office.

With smiles on his face, Uncle Zhou sipped tea as usual. After greeting him, Jiang Lan walked over to his desk while holding Suan Ni. Hearing his approach, Xue Meng stiffed his back to greet him. He seemed to be in a low spirit.

Jiang Lan was surprised.” What’s the matter with your voice?”

As a bright young man, Xue Meng’s voice was always filled with energy. Merely hearing his voice would bring to mind the image of a healthy, cheerful young man. But today, he talked as if his vocal cord was inflamed. The high-pitched weird voice coming out of his mouth didn’t sound normal.

“Nothing is the matter with my voice.” Xue Meng touched his throat with a confused look. After coughing, he complained.” I caught a cold last night. I tried a little medicine, but it doesn’t work for me. I just kept coughing. My voice has changed?”

“Your voice has changed.” At this, Xiao Xiaoyu turned to mock him.” You sound like a castrated eunuch.”

His voice was very high-pitched, a little uncomfortable to hear.

Despite her venomous tongue, she offered a fitting description.

Xue Meng objected angrily.” It is you who are castrated!”

Then he tried to enlist Jiang Lan’s help.” Jiang Lan, do you think I sounded like a eunuch?”

Jiang Lan.”……mmmm.”

At first, he just thought Xue Meng talked in a little strained voice. Now he could see the resemblance after Xiao Xiaoyu’s comparison.

At Jiang Lan’s silence, a betrayed look flickered across Xue Meng’s face.” You guys ganged up on me. You have no pity on a sick person.”

Xiao Xiaoyu took out a small box of cold relief medicine from her drawer and threw it to Xue Meng’s desk.” Why are you still chatty with your throat in this condition? Be quiet and took the pill.”

Xue Meng snorted, rose, and took two capsules with a cup of warm water.

********************

The drizzle finally came to an end in the afternoon.

Chief Cheng summoned Jiang Lan and Xue Meng to his office and handed them a stack of pamphlets about flu prevention.

“According to the hospital, there is a small-scale outbreak of seasonal flu in our district, which was made worse by the continuous rain in the past two days. You two are assigned to go to the apartment complexes with the highest case number to provide awareness-raising sessions on flu prevention.”

Scanning the documents, Jiang Lan said.” Xue Meng is a little under the weather. So I go alone. Any time limit on the completion of this work?”

Chief Cheng smiled.” Preferably this week.”

Xue Meng intended to go with him. But the voice coming out of his mouth startled Chief Cheng.

“Xue Meng, if you are not feeling well, it is fine to leave your work and go to the hospital.” Then he turned to Jiang Lan with a kind look.” Then I put Jiang Lan in charge of this work. If you think you can’t finish the job alone this week, I can extend the time limit.”

Xue Meng still rambled on.” I am perfectly fine. Just my throat doesn’t feel very well, constantly itchy.”

Jiang Lan couldn’t stand his voice. So he filled a cup of warm water for him to stop him talking.” I can handle this alone. Please drink more water and talk less.”

Xue Meng was moved by this.” You are so caring.”

Jiang Lan gave him a smile.

**************************

It’s essential to be well prepared for the sessions. Because Jiang Lan had no previous experience, Xue Meng gave him the PowerPoint files from last year for his reference. Jiang Lan read the materials while asking him questions.

They worked this way until they came across the list of apartment complexes they were supposed to provide awareness-raising sessions. Jiang Lan pointed to the name of an apartment complex.” Hong Jing Apartment Complex again?”

The name of this apartment complex has come up frequently in the last few days. 

Suddenly Xue Meng blurted out.” Death brings bad luck.”

He spoke so quickly that Jiang Lan didn’t catch it, he asked.” What did you say?”

Xue Meng looked at him with a blank face.” I didn’t say anything.”

Frowning, he looked solemnly at Xue Meng and touched his forehead to check his temperature but didn’t detect any anomaly.

No sign of being under a curse spell and no scent of another monster.

Xue Meng had a confused look on his face. He said in a hurt but high-pitched voice.” I didn’t have a fever.”

His failure to detect anything unusual didn’t put his mind at ease. After all, he was not good at reading the signs of evil. He inquired.” Where have you been during the weekend?”

Xue Meng said.” I went to my grandpa’s home after I got off work on Friday. I stayed there until Sunday evening.”

Jiang Lan had another question.” Do you remember seeing or hearing anything special while you were there?”

Trying to recall his weekend, Xue Meng answered.” Nothing special. I remember while I had nothing to do, I overheard a group of neighborhood aunties exchanging gossip, not far from the manhole surrounded by the Police cordon.”

Then he was alarmed by the solemn look on Jiang Lan’s face. He asked in a whisper.” Am I haunted by evil spirits?”

Patting him reassuringly, Jiang Lan burst out laughing.” I didn’t see anything wrong with you. Perhaps I overreacted. I will ask my expert friends later if it can put your mind at ease.”

Xue Meng nodded eagerly.” Please do, daddy. So I can sleep easy tonight.”

Jiang Lan agreed.

Then they shifted their focus to preparing awareness-raising sessions.

**********************

Nearing the end of their workday, Jiang Lan received a call from Ying Qiao.

He could almost hear the smile in the voice.” My job took me past your office. Have you got off work yet? May I come into your office? I am bringing you something.”

Checking the time, Jiang Lan saw it’s about time to leave. So he said.” All right, where are you now? I will go to pick you up.”

“No need, I am already in your office hall.”

Ying Qiao got out of the car with several plastic bags in his hand. Raising his chin, he gestured Cheng Hua to leave.

Of course, he made up the excuse of his imaginary job taking him past Jiang Lan’s office. He just needed a reason to feed him candies while getting to know the little monster’s friends and colleagues.

As a pioneer of raising cubs scientifically[2] a joke referring to the cub-rearing books Ying Qiao enjoyed reading, Ying Qiao deemed it necessary not only to focus on the Little Monster himself, but also to get to know the Little Monster’s circle of friends. 

Helping cubs to establish good relationships with friends and colleagues is an essential part of raising cubs.

When he came into the hall with several bags, Jiang Lan came out to greet him.

It was a little chilly today. Wearing a white hooded sweater, he ran out to greet Ying Qiao with his hood strings swinging over his chest. 

“I thought you were too busy to make it.”

Walking inside with him, Ying Qiao said in a soft voice.” I promised you to come, and I intended to keep my promise. Just got hold up by some matters before I leave.”

Even the idle boss had to work sometimes. Otherwise, how could he afford the cost of raising cubs?

Jiang Lan led him directly to his desk and let him take his seat.

Xiao Xiaoyu was the first to notice Ying Qiao’s appearance. She came to them with a smile.” Jiang Lan, your friend?”

“ He is Ying Qiao.” Jiang Lan nodded and made introductions for them

“ She is Xiao Xiaoyu.”

Ying Qiao nodded his greeting gentlemanly.” Hi, I am older than Jiang Lan. He is like a little brother to me.”

Then he put the bags on the desk and began distributing the snacks and fruits.” I rarely come here, so I bring some snacks to thank you all for taking care of Jiang Lan.”

Not wasting time in observing common courtesy, Xiao Xiaoyu grabbed an orange and said in a jealous voice.” Jiang Lan, your brother was very nice to you.”

She wanted a handsome and caring big brother like him.

Xue Meng came to welcome Ying Qiao.” You are always welcomed here.”

Actually, Jiang Lan felt a little awkward. A regular snake monster like Ying Qiao must be junior to him. But considering that Ying Qiao had no clue about his real identity and acted purely out of his kind heart, he didn’t object to being his little brother.

At this moment, Uncle Zhou happened to walk by with his teacup.” Wow! How come the office became so lively all of a sudden?”

Xiao Xiaoyu waved him over to have some fruits.” Jiang Lan’s big brother just came to visit him.”

Uncle Zhou stepped closer only to freeze at the sight of Ying Qiao. After a while, he stuttered.” Ying, Ying……”

Ying Qiao reacted quickly to finish his sentence for him.” Hi, Uncle Zhou. I am Ying Qiao. Jiang Lan’s big brother.”

Startled, Uncle Zhou almost dropped his teacup at this with hands trembling.

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References

References
1 A  Chinese saying means the same life circumstance born and bred different lives
2 a joke referring to the cub-rearing books Ying Qiao enjoyed reading

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