vol. 1: chapter twenty-seven – shopping with your little brother

In the end, Li Xinwen ate a bowl of porridge and two servings of caramel pudding. At first, Sun Xiao felt guilty, but when he saw Li Xinwen enjoying the pudding, he felt relieved. After they finished eating, Li Xinwen once again handed his wallet to Sun Xiao with a grin. “Ah‘Xiao, today… how about I let you do all the paying, hmm? Once you get used to interacting with people, you’ll naturally feel less shy.”

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Sun Xiao stared at the wallet in his hand, then looked up at Li Xinwen. Nervousness could be seen from his expression. To ease Sun Xiao’s nervousness, Li Xinwen reached up and patted Sun Xiao’s head. “You can do it. Your big bro here believes in you,” he said in a gentle tone. While saying this, he also sent a few strands of spiritual energy to help calm Sun Xiao.

After a while, Sun Xiao finally gathered enough courage and nodded his head. “Xin-gege, let’s go and pay now,” Sun Xiao said as he stood up and picked up his backpack.

They went to the cashier and paid for their meal. Much to Li Xinwen’s delight, Sun Xiao was able to do it without looking nervous. It wasn’t until they got outside that Sun Xiao let out a loud sigh and placed a hand on his fast beating chest. “Xin-gege… where to next? To buy a martial arts book?” Sun Xiao asked.

“Not yet. Hua-jie said that we should buy some underwear and clothes to prepare ourselves,” Li Xinwen told the younger boy. Seeing the disappointment in Sun Xiao’s eyes, he added, “After that, I’ll let you buy whatever martial arts book you want! Alright?”

“En. Okay!” Sun Xiao cheered up once more after hearing Li Xinwen’s promise.

Li Xinwen didn’t care much for brands, so he just randomly picked a shop and entered one of the many clothing boutiques in the shopping mall. The first item on their shopping list was men’s underwear. They went to the men’s underwear section of the boutique and browsed through the undergarments laid and hung on display.

It was then that Li Xinwen learned that there were two kinds of men’s underwear. Li Xinwen stared at the triangle shaped underwear and felt that it lacked privacy. ‘This looks quite like the loincloths worn by those men in the pleasure houses back in Long Xing… how utterly vulgar.’ He turned to Sun Xiao. “Ah‘Xiao, Hua-jie said to buy at least 500 pairs. One box has 12 pairs so we’ll need to buy 42 boxes,” Li Xinwen calculated.

“42…?!” Sun Xiao asked, dumbfounded. He stared at Li Xinwen, unsure of what to say next, suddenly imagining himself and Li Xinwen walking out of the boutique and walking around the shopping mall carrying bags filled with boxes of underwear. The image almost made Sun Xiao shudder and he quickly tried to convince Li Xinwen to refrain from pushing through with his plans.

“Did Hua-jie really say that? Ge… did she say that we should buy all 500 pairs now?” Sun Xiao asked hesitantly, as if afraid that his question sounded ridiculous. “Ah‘Xiao remembers Hua-jie saying the apocalypse won’t happen until five years later… so we don’t have to buy all 500 pairs now, right? Uhm… we can slowly buy them over the years…” Sun Xiao suggested cautiously, afraid of disappointing Li Xinwen.

“You think so?” Li Xinwen asked, and Sun Xiao quickly nodded his head. “Well, alright then. Ge will listen to Ah‘Xiao,” Li Xinwen said.

“Then, let’s just take two boxes and then we can go grab some clothes… after that, martial arts books?” Sun Xiao said as he looked up at Li Xinwen, giving his older brother a puppy look.

“…” Li Xinwen became speechless when faced with this look. ‘First, Xue Rui… now even Ah’Xiao is using this deadly look on me, ah!’ he thought, before he raised his hand and gently rubbed Sun Xiao’s head. “Alright. Let’s buy some clothes.”

While the two were choosing clothes, a paparazzo photographer who received intel that Li Xinwen was at the oceanside mall finally found them. He sneakily took a photo of the two and examined the digital image. Because he was quite far away, the picture he took was not very clear, and because of the position the two brothers were in it turned out to be ambiguous.

Regardless, the photographer was satisfied with the picture and sent it over to his colleague before he continued to tail Li Xinwen and Sun Xiao. For people like them, they didn’t care much about the truth. What they liked the most was digging up scandals from these kinds of celebrities.

He wanted to get closer, but he did not want to risk getting found, so he only stayed at what he deemed was a safe distance. When the two brothers exited the clothing store, he too left. Then, the two entered a bookstore and the man was suddenly confused. ‘It’s normal to buy clothes for your pet but… books? That is unheard of…’

He was just about to follow them inside when he was suddenly pulled by his collar. “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?!” the paparazzo photographer became angry that he was stopped. But when he turned around to face the person who stopped him, he suddenly felt cold all over his body.

The other person was wearing a black suit and dark sunglasses. His whole appearance screamed ‘bodyguard’ and the photographer thought that he must have been hired by Li Xinwen. After all, it was not rare for a celebrity to hire a personal bodyguard.

“Sir, I caught him. Waiting for further instructions,” the bodyguard said and only then did the photographer notice the bodyguard’s earpiece. He wanted to run but was quickly caught. After a while, the bodyguard leaned closer and whispered to his ear. “My boss wants to meet you. Be obedient and you won’t get hurt,” he said, dragging the photographer away from the bookstore.

“Wait, your boss is not inside the bookstore?”

“No.”

“Then mister, did you catch the wrong person? I don’t think I’ve ever…”

“No. I’ve been watching you. You’ve been following Young Master Li. My boss doesn’t like it and ordered me to bring you to him,” the bodyguard said, crushing the photographer’s hope of getting away.

Inside the bookstore, Li Xinwen glanced outside with a frown. ‘The two persons who have been following us around have left? Is it just me overthinking things?’ he thought before he shrugged his shoulders. ‘Even if they wanted to do something, I doubt they would.’

“Xin-gege, what’s wrong?” Sun Xiao asked when he noticed that Li Xinwen was staring out of the store window.

“Nothing. Did you find the book you wanted?” Li Xinwen asked, and Sun Xiao lifted the book he was holding. “This?” Li Xinwen flipped through the book and saw that it was about the martial arts from K country. He didn’t mind it much, since the techniques it described looked very useful. Li Xinwen also felt that the moves explained in the book were unique, something that was not found in Long Xing. Suddenly, he felt that he should also learn these martial arts. Once he returned to Long Xing, it might help him throw his opponents into confusion, or even create his own cultivation technique. “Is this all? Let’s buy several different kinds, so you can choose which one you want to learn when we get home!”

***

Li Xinwen continued to take Sun Xiao around, shopping for books and other random stuff such as clothes, hats and even stationery, but most of all, Li Xinwen indulged himself in buying chocolates. When they left the shopping mall, both had their hands full, carrying several shopping bags, with Sun Xiao carrying most of them. They didn’t realize how much time had flown by while they were shopping so when Li Xinwen looked up, he was surprised that the sky had an orange tint to it. “We should go home. Mom will get worried,” he said before he freed one of his hands and took out his phone.

He called for a taxi and luckily, there was one nearby, so they didn’t have to wait long. After a half an hour’s drive, they finally arrived at the entrance of the Li residence. As if he had gotten used to it, Sun Xiao paid for the fare before they got out of the car. Seeing this, Li Xinwen couldn’t help thinking that he had achieved his goal. ‘If this continues… I hope that the future I saw from Li Jinghua’s memories won’t happen to him,’ Li Xinwen thought as he lifted his hand and patted Sun Xiao’s head. “Good job. You’ve worked hard today,” he said.

Sun Xiao looked up at him and when he saw the pride in Li Xinwen’s eyes, he blushed a deep shade of red. Fortunately, the sky was already dark so he hoped that his older brother didn’t notice. They opened the gate and walked to their house. When they entered, their noses were assaulted by the various aromas of food.

“…” Li Xinwen who was on a strict soft food diet felt that mealtime was his worst nightmare, since he could only watch without eating. Though the family did try to be considerate by preparing fewer dishes that he couldn’t partake in, it still didn’t make him feel any better. ‘I wish one month would pass quickly, ah!’

Ah‘Wen, Ah‘Xiao, welcome home,” Mother Li smiled when she saw her two sons come home. “I heard from Hua-er you guys went shopping for clothes.” As she said this, her eyes landed on the bags that Li Xinwen and Sun Xiao were carrying. “Looks like you both bought a lot. Go on and put them in your rooms, then come and have dinner,” Mother Li said before she went back into the kitchen.

“Xin-gege just stay here. I’ll help you take your stuff upstairs!” Sun Xiao offered. “Gege is still recovering after all,” he said as he took the bags from Li Xinwen and bounded upstairs. He first went into Li Xinwen’s room and placed his elder brother’s stuff on the recamier sofa. He was about to leave when his eyes caught sight of a jian on the bed. His heart started to race from excitement. The decoration on the sheath beckoned him to touch it. He walked closer to the bed and was just about to touch the jian when he heard Li Xinwen’s voice.

Ah‘Xiao, what are you doing?”

***

At first, Li Xinwen wanted to wait patiently for Sun Xiao downstairs but then, he felt someone had entered the barrier he had set up around his bed. He went upstairs and went into his room only to see Sun Xiao over his bed, reaching for Shuang Ren1Shuang RenTop-Grade Jian. “Ah‘Xiao, what are you doing?” Li Xinwen asked, amused, not a hint of anger in his tone.

Hearing Li Xinwen’s voice, Sun Xiao immediately stood up straight and turned to Li Xinwen. “Xin-gege! I… I’m sorry… it’s just umm…” Sun Xiao stuttered with his head down, staring at the floor.

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“Do you like the jian?” Li Xinwen asked in a gentle tone. He had just managed to get Sun Xiao to gain some confidence, if the younger boy returned to his state before, it would be bad. At the question, Sun Xiao nodded his head. Li Xinwen walked over to the boy and said, “You can’t have this one. But I have another one. If you learn martial arts properly, ge will give it to you.”

“Now, go on along and put your stuff in your room. Mom is already waiting,” he said, reminding the boy that they were supposed to have dinner.

Once Sun Xiao left, Li Xinwen shook his head and looked over at Shuang Ren. ‘Lan Yu, I’m sending my jian over to you. Be sure to keep it safe,’ Li Xinwen said in his mind before he sent the jian into the pocket dimension. After a while, he decided to reward Lan Yu, except he did not know what to give the little spirit. ‘Lan Yu, have you ever tried chocolate?’ Li Xinwen asked.

[Lan Yu: Chocolate? No, I haven’t, master. Is it good? Is that one of the foods the mortals of earth made?]

Hearing this question, Li Xinwen decided to just hand over one pack of chocolates. Inside the pack were 26 pieces of chocolate bars. ‘Those are chocolates. Try eating them. If you like it, I’ll buy more for you. By the way, how is the search for the cultivation manual going?’

[Lan Yu: …]

‘Lan Yu?’ Li Xinwen called out again when there was no answer. ‘You have exactly ten breaths to answer before I go in there,’ he warned the small spirit, his voice stern.

[Lan Yu: Master! Please forgive Lan Yu!! It’s the cats! The cats won’t let Lan Yu do his work!]

‘Just feed them and leave them to play! What are you playing with them for?’

[Lan Yu: I’m sorry, master…]

Li Xinwen let out a heavy sigh and shook his head. ‘Just give me whatever you have now.’

As he told Lan Yu this, he felt a kind of connection in his mind and he quickly took out the books that Lan Yu had prepared so far. All of them were something that was created for those with Yang constitution. He placed them on his table and planned to look through them after dinner so he could find which one was most suited for Sun Xiao.


Mini theatre:

Within the pocket dimension, Lan Yu happily plays around with the cats after he has gotten over his fear of them.

Lan Yu: Aiya! Why are you guys so cute, ah!

Lan Yu: Hey! Don’t go and pee near the house!!

Lan Yu: So fluffy! Can you be my bed?

Li Xinwen: Lan Yu, how is the search going?

Lan Yu who was distracted during the whole time: … Oh no! What should I answer?!

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