157 The Young Master Never Drinks

    Zixu liked to listen to stories.

    That was one of the few things he enjoyed. Stories, with the people that experienced them, always brought along new topics of interest to ponder over. Either that, or the one telling him the stories would be someone that he was interested to crack open, like a locked puzzle. Along with the stories, they always dropped hints and clues about them as a person, which Zixu pieced together bit by bit until he had the key to figuring out how to completely open them up. He liked being able to know a person inside-out, to be able to predict their actions, and to not be taken by surprise in any situation. He liked to have everything under control, completely planned out.

    The only downside to all the stories he listened to as a child, from arguments behind the doors to chit-chatter of servants meant one thing: truly unique, unpredictable puzzles and unpredictable stories, were rare. He hardly found many in recent times.

    That was when he met her.

    He first saw her by bumping into her at the Bo Villa. She wore a veil then, but her eyes with those dark, dark irises were unforgettable. Regardless, Zixu thought she would be one that he would forget in a couple of days and never see again.

    The second time he saw her, she was at Lingxin Academy. For some reason, she coincidentally ran into him again, but this time impersonating as his brother. It was amusing to see the emotions shift over her face: surprise, panic, then relief. At that time, Zixu was already analyzing her, picking up small details, figuring things out. He came up with basic assumptions for her, but somehow, she managed to surpass them every time.

    From then on, he continued to see her in various spots. At the festival, at the Yang Villa, at Lingxin... they were coming across each other almost regularly, as if it was all a little arrangement of fate. If Zixu was even the slightest bit superstitious, he would've believed that it was fate. What else could explain it?

    But Zixu never believed in those superstitious words. Why should some strange, uncontrollable concept dictate his life and the people he would interact with? Fate was just a joke. An absurd idea that only fools obeyed.

    Zixu admitted that he didn't mind her too much, though. The more he talked with her, the more he realized that she seemed to be one who held stories he had never heard before. She wasn't so special to the point where she occupied his thoughts or became the ultimate puzzle he wanted to figure out, but she was different enough that he was somewhat intrigued whenever he came across her, worthy of a conversation or two.

    That was when she fell into the water and nearly drowned.

    He admitted that he hesitated before he saved her. He also admitted that her anger over his hesitation was explainable after he saved her. Nevertheless, Zixu didn't think that he agreed with her at all. It was a struggle to recall how to swim and to pull her up along with him as he swam. What was he supposed to do- to just jump in without a pause simply because he was a heroic, brilliant individual who was willing to sacrifice everything just to save someone he barely knew? What would happen if he didn't know how to swim well enough to save both her and himself? That would be an idiotic move if he didn't take his time to make his final decision. Two people drowning was worse than one.

    Afterwards, though, what intrigued him was when he had his two conversations: one with her and one with Bo Zhiyuan. That enlightened him on something new. Perhaps, it would be a better thing if he seemed to be that "kind" person she described as oh-so-important. Perhaps it would be a better persona to take on.

    Zixu was always focusing on crafting the perfect mask and costume for himself. He almost had a responsibility to do so. Seeing that there were finally cracks pointed out in the mask he wore, it was inevitable that he worked on fixing them. To do that, he had even greater of a reason to speak to her.

    That landed him in where he was now: drinking with Yang Yujia under the blossom-less plum tree.

    He never drank wine in front of people he didn't trust. The most he would have would be a cup. So, as Yujia drank in front of him, he pretended to sip while raising his sleeve. In reality, he was subtly pouring it onto the ground beneath him. It was a waste of good wine, but Zixu couldn't risk the words that he might speak under the influence of alcohol. He found Miss Yang's company decent, but he did not trust her enough to drink without limit around her.

    Taking advantage of the situation, he decided to talk to her more, to gain her trust, and to figure out the list of things he wanted to know.

    They "drank" and "drank", words flowing between them as often as wine did. He learned the things he wanted to know. He shared a few stories of his own in exchange for these secrets. At last, when her words became slurred, Zixu noticed that Yujia's face was a definite shade of blushing red, her eyelids drooped shut, and her head nodded downwards. She was about to black out, by the looks of it.

    He looked down at the direction she was going to fall down in. If she fell over as she blacked out in the current position she was, lazily slouched over a cup of wine, she would land with her face hitting the stone paved path. That kind of face-planting was sure to be unpleasant. So, he stretched out his arms, waiting to catch her.

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    Yet before her eyes closed, she looked at him with a sliding gaze, whispering, " You know- you look so much like him- it almost hurts."

    And then she fell into his arms.

    As Zixu held her fragily, almost like she was a sheet of thin ice, he looked down at her peaceful face with narrowed eyes. He originally just wanted to bring her back to her room and to leave right afterwards, now that his objective was completed. Except now, with her last words...

    Who was this "him" that she spoke of?
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