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CHAOYANG- MAO LU’S HOME

“Is it not cold? You should put a shirt on.” Fei Bing Bing said, feeling a bit overly-sensitive around the shirtless Chàng Bo.
“I’m fine.” Chàng Bo curtly replied.
If he put his robes on he was sure it would lead to all kinds of questions. His clothes were from his Star Realm, they were enchanted. Just by looking at the outfits these mortals wore, Chàng Bo knew his robes would seem very strange, hence why he politely refused.

“Ah I see.” Fei Bing Bing replied weakly as she tried to gaze at anything else besides Chàng Bo’s chest. Secretly wishing Zhao Detong had muscles like that.

“Who’s your personal trainer? Or do you train by yourself, your body is super impressive.” Frank Wang praised.
Chàng Bo smiled a bit, he was sure that to mortals who had never practiced and expelled their bodies of impurities, his body must look surreal to them.
“Thank you. I don’t have a personal trainer. I train by myself.”
“Wow really. Do you practice martial arts, Zhao Detong is a Wing Chun expert, what about you. Do you specialise in anything?” Frank was extremely curious.

Tanaka interrupted, “Why do you care about his muscles so much, we should be asking the important questions!” Tanaka turned to Chàng Bo, “So you’re living with Mao Lu because you can’t go home, why can’t you go home?”

Chàng Bo smiled and said, “That’s a personal matter, I don’t need to tell you that.”

“You said you met Lu through work, what work? What is his mysterious new job?”

Chàng Bo smiled again and said, “If he hasn’t told you about it, it isn’t my place to tell you about it.”

“God you are no fun at all!!! Come on give us the answers, is there some special reason that we can’t know!” Tanaka yelled.

They were all sitting on the sofa set in Mao Lu’s spacious living room. They’d cracked open the beers and were drinking.
Chàng Bo had been curious and decided to sit with them, drinking with them, which led up to this conversation.

“There isn’t a special reason you can’t know.” Chàng Bo lied, “I just feel that you’re better hearing it from him rather than from me.”
“Now it’s my turn to ask questions. How do you all know Mao Lu?” Chàng Bo changed the flow of the conversation, he was tired of their interrogation.

Tanaka answered “Mao Lu and I met at Café Eclair as part timers three years ago. We became instant friends.”

“I only know him through Tanaka, we met when Tanaka asked me to give Mao Lu a ride home from work three years ago ” Bei Lao said as he pushed up his glasses.
“Mao Lu and I met when he first started working at Roaring Tiger. Wow now that I think about it it’s nearly been four years since Lu and I met, time goes fast.”Fang Kai said nostalgically.

“Well I’ve known Mao Lu longer than you three, I met him when I was 15, when I entered Imperial Ming private Highschool. That’s when I met Lu, Bing Bing and Detong.” Frank Wang said rather smugly.

“Hahah” Bing Bing laughed, “you’re so proud of that Frank. Then I guess I should be more proud since Detong and I have known Mao Lu almost all our lives. We all met at the same daycare before we were even one years old, and we became friends straight away.”
Zhao Detong, nodded in agreement at her words, holding her hand and squeezing it gently as she spoke.

Chàng Bo noticed this small romantic gesture between the two. He easily knew who all the couples were in the group.
Tanaka was with Bei Lao. Fei Bing Bing was with Zhao Detong.
Even though they hadn’t said it, it was pretty obvious due to their body language and actions.
And that little Witch seemed to be flirting with Frank Wang.

Chàng Bo narrowed his eyes at Qi Zhou, “You probably made connections with this mortal group so that you could get closer to Gatekeeper Lu right? Not a bad way in trying to approach him, but don’t you think he’ll be angered if he realises you’re using his friends to get to him. You might just piss him off.”
He said this in the Universal Realm Tongue.

Qi Zhou stiffened slightly before replying, “Thank you for your concern, but I think I can handle it.”

“I wasn’t concerned about you. I’m telling you to back off.”
Chàng Bo said coldly, he didn’t want this witch near Mao Lu.
He needed Mao Lu. When their bond deepened that meant he would have unlimited fate points. He didn’t need this Witch interrupting his plans. The only reason he hadn’t forcefully kicked her out was because of the mortals around them.

“While you have the chance I suggest you leave Mao Lu’s mortal friends alone and go elsewhere. If you don’t I’ll have to make you leave, and there are many ways I can make you disappear.” He casually threatened.

The atmosphere in the room grew cold and Qi Zhou glared at him. This was so unfair. She’d gone through so much effort to make Frank Wang like her, all so she could meet the Gatekeeper and become his servant, and now she was been pushed out by a Dao Stage practitioner. So unfair. How terribly unlucky.
And she could tell from his gaze that he wasn’t kidding around. If she didn’t leave on her own free will, he would make her.
Qi Zhou knew Chàng Bo’s reputation for being very unstable.
Sometimes Chàng Bo would help the poor, cure illnesses, build schools or reunite those who were separated from their loved ones by war.
But Chàng Bo was also known for wantonly murdering those that stood in his way, for destroying entire clans and sects if he deemed them unnecessary. It was like he had two split personalities.
Qi Zhou was aware that Chàng Bo was a dangerous, powerful and unstable genius. If she kept pushing his buttons he might very well kill her here.

Chàng Bo did indeed have that sort reputation. And he was well aware that behind his back people called him all kinds of names.
Chàng Bo’s actions however, weren’t because he had a split personality. It was because he had to gain fate points for the Sovereign System.
Over the years he’d done anything to gain fate points. Whether that was saving people from tragedies or murdering them in cold blood. As long as Chàng Bo thought he was in the right and it could get him points then he would do it.
Chàng Bo never killed people he thought were innocent, he only destroyed evil clans or sects. But of course rumours had spiralled out of proportion making it out like he was insane and killed randomly.

“Umm, is everything okay?” Frank asked, “What are you two talking about?”

Qi Zhou instantly put on a fake smile and laughed, “Oh nothing. He was just asking me how I knew Mao Lu, and I was telling him I didn’t. Since I haven’t met him yet. Then he was asking me how I learnt his language and we started talking about the political circumstances in Nepal. It made us pretty serious for a bit.” Qi Zhou said this lie rather confidently, but even she was aware that her lie sounded like crap.
They hadn’t spoken long enough to be bringing up politics and they’d been glaring at each other too.
Even though Qi Zhou knew her lie was probably obvious she didn’t put down her facade.

“Ah okay.” Frank Wang said slowly. The rest of the group exchanging doubtful looks between each other.

“Do they know each other or something?” Frank Wang wondered, because the hostile atmosphere between the two didn’t seem to be from people that had just met. It seemed like they didn’t like each other.
Frank didn’t need to understand the language to hear the dark and icy tones in their voices when they spoke to each other.

Everyone else also sensed it and wondered what the real relationship was between Qi Zhou and Chàng Bo.

Just as Tanaka, who hated not knowing things, was about to ask about their relationship. The wooden doors of the main house slid open.
And there was Mao Lu, standing in the doorway. He was wearing a suit.

….
Three minutes ago

Mao Lu had been dropped into the courtyard by Gates. He’d then hurried to his room, looking for a suit to where that would be appropriate for a meeting.
Since Mao Lu had been at work right? At a meeting right?

He then heard voices coming from the main house and could see everyone chatting inside. He steeled himself before he opened the sliding doors, and then said with fake surprise.
“What are you guys doing here?”

“Mao Lu!!!” they all said in unison, except for Chàng Bo who had sensed Mao Lu the moment he’d dropped in from the sky.
Mao Lu tried to look very stunned and speechless. “You guys, why are you all here?”

“Surprise!!!” They all chanted.
“We decided to throw you a Housewarming party. Which you would have known about if you checked your phone.” Fei Bing Bing explained.
“Yh, don’t you know that phones are for communication, you need to check messages Lu.” Zhao Detong tutted as he passed Mao Lu his phone.
When Mao Lu saw the multitude of messages he made a sheepish expression.
“Omg, thank you so very much guys. I can’t believe you did this. I would have come back earlier if I’d realised.
I was feeling a bit ill this week and was resting and I ended up not checking my phone. And then I had to go to a meeting and a colleague picked me up to take me there and it was all so rushed.” Mao Lu babbled a bit, regurgitating the same lies Chàng Bo had told them.

“We know, we know all that already. Your friend told us.” Tanaka replied, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively as he pointed towards Chàng Bo.

As Mao Lu turned and made eye contact with Chàng Bo he felt his cheeks flush slightly and his heart race.
The feelings of attraction he had towards Chàng Bo appeared to have intensified.
Mao Lu coughed, and cupped his hands to his face to hide his blushing, as he turned towards his friends who were all giving him smug little looks and knowing grins.
“I see you all have met Chàng Bo.” he said to them as he attempted to control his breathing.

At the same time he was feeling very awkward. How could he tell Chàng Bo about the decision that was made at the meeting? About their fate Companionship.

Mao Lu realised he didn’t know anything about Chàng Bo. He didn’t know whether Chàng Bo liked men, or whether that type of thing even mattered in his Realm.
“What if Chàng Bo already had some girlfriend or a female lover somewhere and by making him my fate companion I’ve ruined his love life and he’ll hate me forever.
But this was the best option, better than him being caged somewhere and tortured, right?”

Mao Lu’s brain was in chaos. Ever since they’d left the Flame Star Fortress, Mao Lu had been panicking.
Gates sighed, “What has been done has been done, you can’t go back on it. Regardless of whether he has a lover somewhere or isn’t into you, he’ll still end up your fate companion.”

“Oh wow thanks for the pep talk Gates you’re always so helpful” Mao Lu replied sarcastically.
“You don’t have to be thankful, it is my duty to guide and help you.” Gates said seriously.

Mao Lu wanted to shake Gates, and he resisted the urge to physically roll his eyes. Or else his friends would be confused, and if they asked why he was rolling his eyes he couldn’t tell them “I’m having a mental conversation with Gates, my magical book slash keychain”. Yeah for some reason Mao Lu didn’t think that would go well.

“How did the meeting go?” Chàng Bo asked in his own native tongue, the language of stars, used specifically in Star Realm.
This was the language he had always used when speaking to Mao Lu.
He didn’t use URT since Qi Zhou was here and he didn’t want her eavesdropping. What Chàng Bo didn’t know was that Qi Zhou had been to the star Realm before and could understand the Star language.

“Some things did happen, you were able to avoid getting any horrible punishment but there has been a complication which I will discuss with you later, right now isn’t exactly appropriate.” Mao Lu replied a bit nervously. As he spoke his words were converted into the star language.

“Meeting, punishment… Complication? What was this about?” Qi Zhou wondered.

“Then we’ll talk about it later.” Chàng Bo replied, feeling rather relieved. There wasn’t going to be any punishment, but Chàng Bo was curious. What kind of complication could have occurred that made Mao Lu appear so nervous?

Chàng Bo pondered about this, but didn’t ask. There was no need to be impatient.
Instead he looked towards Qi Zhou, his eyes sparkling maliciously as he said, “Oh by the way Mao Lu, this little Witch here is using your friend Frank. I believe she’s bewitched him so that she could meet you. Don’t you think she’s going too far?”

Qi Zhou frowned and her mind raced in horror as she saw Mao Lu glance towards her.

Everyone else looked back and forth, confused. They had no idea what was being said, all they knew was that the atmosphere suddenly felt pretty tense.

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Alexia

September 2019
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