Chapter 18: Guns & Roses (6)
Chen Mo was busy preparing for a large end-of-year meeting for platoon leaders. All the social pleasantries were left to Cheng Hui to deal with, but for next year’s training plans, there were still some things Chen Mo was trying to straighten out.
The platoon leaders looked over the itinerary with scrunched brows as Chen Mo listed off each task. They complained that the training regimen was too harsh and if the soldiers couldn’t complete it, it would have the opposite effect, causing them to lose their confidence. Chen Mo himself thought that he had already made many compromises. Even after arguing strongly for his notion, he still retreated in the end. Though they finally reached an agreement, he was still left with misgivings.
After disbanding the meeting, Cheng Hui propped his arm on Chen Mo’s shoulder as they walked to their office, and tried convincing his leader the entire way. Cheng Hui was a seasoned instructor with a lot of experience. The detachment leader had especially transferred him over to coordinate with Chen Mo’s work. Chen Mo was the sort of person who seemed arrogant on the surface, but if one really got to know him, he didn’t seem that bad. Cheng Hui had always taken care of him.
Chen Mo listened for a long time and looked sincerely at Cheng Hui, “I don’t think the training program is that harsh.”
Cheng Hui forced a smile. “You can’t compare the training you did in the special forces with the training here. That’s like comparing apples with oranges. Plus, this training session is going over techniques and mental fortitude. We can’t set a strict program. Like say, if a soldier is afraid of bullets and wants to hide whenever there is open fire, how would you be able to beat that out of him with strict training? You’d have to slowly neutralize his fears…”
This reaction surprised Cheng Hui.
“Just bind him to a target and shoot a circle around him. With a hundred bullets, he won’t be scared anymore.” Chen Mo nonchalantly explained.
Cheng Hui stared at him in disbelief. “D-Don’t bullsh*t.”
“I’m not bullsh*tting. That’s really how to do it.”
Cheng Hui was immediately dumbstruck. He blinked dazedly for a long time, then suddenly jumped up. “Chen Mo, I’m warning you. You absolutely can’t do that here. You have to know that the soldiers here are precious, like gold. They’re all twenty-year-old youngsters, and the sole childs of their families. If you scare them and something happens, their parents won’t spare us.”
Chen Mo nodded while laughing bitterly. “I know, I know.”
Cheng Hui still wasn’t convinced and closely followed him back into the office. With both hands propped on top of Chen Mo’s table, he explained the matter with a serious attitude. “Chen Mo, you absolutely have to follow the institution’s rules. That original behaviour of yours won’t work here.”
“I know, I know. Really…” Chen Mo said annoyed with himself, his tongue slipping up for a moment to stir up a hornet’s nest. The corner of his eye swept towards the light blue thermos sitting on the table and went on a tangent, “Old Cheng, do you want some soup? My girlfriend made it.”
Cheng Hui momentarily froze, “You brat, you really have a girlfriend?”
“Yup, the girl who came to visit last time. Remember?” There were no bowls in the office, so Chen Mo took out a microwave-safe container that was usually used for instant noodles and screwed open the thermos’ lid. An exotic fragrance emerged. The two men simultaneously froze for a moment.
“The girl who delivered the cakes last time?” Cheng Hui gulped while looking at the soup and sighed incessantly.
“Pretty good, brat. I was originally worried that with your temper, it would be difficult for you to find someone. I never expected that you would choose so well. She looks nice and her handiwork is good.” Cheng Hui clucked his tongue in admiration.
Chen Mo found a spoon and slowly ladled the soup from the thermos into his mouth and swallowed. This soup had been simmered in an open pot for an entire day and then stewed under a lid for several hours. The tendon had been entirely melted and the peanuts and soybeans immediately melted upon entering the mouth. The soup in the thermos carried the enticing rich scent of milk. In Chen Mo’s family, a nanny cooked the meals. Guanzhong people took a realistic approach to cooking. No one had ever been attentive like Miao Yuan, cooking something for hours on end just to give him a pot of boiled soup.
Sigh. “How did such a good wife get tricked into dating you?” Cheng Hui teased, pushing his empty bowl back to him.
“I picked her up.” Chen Mo laughed.
“Hey, look at how cocky it’s made you! How come I can’t pick up such a good thing?” Cheng Hui waved his hand. “I’m going home, tell sister-in-law I’ll be rationing my share of this soup. Consider it me owing her a favour. If you dare bully her in the future, I won’t have mercy on you.”
Chen Mo broke into laughter.
Chen Mo took out his phone, a little hesitant. Considering the time, Miao Yuan was probably already asleep. If he called her now, he wasn’t sure if he’d wake her up with the noise. Ding. Chen Mo received a text. He opened it up.
“Chen Mo, you’ve gotta at least let me know whether or not it’s delicious!”
Not asleep yet? Chen Mo was too lazy to reply, so he immediately dialed back.
Miao Yuan was already in bed, angrily tossing and turning for an hour; she was so angry that even if she wanted to sleep, she couldn’t. She finally gave in to her fuming rage and had sent out a text. She hadn’t imagined that she would immediately receive a phone call. Miao Yuan’s rage levels rose.
You seem to be super free! It seems like the phone is right by your side. Would it kill you to take the initiative and send me a call or a text!?!
Miao Yuan angrily answered the phone. “Hey! Who are you looking for?”
You doggone b*st*rd!!
Some people are like dogs: all bite and no bark. Yet you don’t even bark, let alone bite….
Chen Mo was shocked by her anger for a moment. Switching to an inoffensive voice, he said, “Miao Miao?”
Miao Yuan blew her nose and suddenly gave up. “Ah, what’s up?”
Heroine Miao Yuan popped up from behind her, disdainfully looking down on her. You go and be your lowly self!
Lady Miao Yuan tenderly cowered. But, but…
Miao Yuan waved her hand and shattered both conjurations of herself into pieces. “Did you drink the soup?”
“Was it tasty?”
“If it was tasty, why couldn’t you let me know? How long would it take to send me a message? Don’t you know I’ve been waiting? I… I thought that you didn’t like it and threw it all away…and that’s why you were ignoring me…” Miao Yuan felt aggrieved, choking up with sobs as she reached the end.
Chen Mo was dumbstruck. “I, I just finished the meeting and literally finished drinking it right now. Really, it’s delicious! Just now, Old Cheng said he’s never tasted such a good soup! It’s true!”
“You shared it with him?” Miao Yuan couldn’t stop the tears from falling down in despair. She had simmered it for the whole day and couldn’t even bear to drink a little herself. She’d originally planned to make a larger batch so that he could have some tonight, while still having enough for a portion tomorrow. She hadn’t thought he didn’t take it to heart and called up his friends to divy it up.
“Yes, he just so happened to be here, so I split it with him. Miao Miao, what are you crying over? How could I not like the things you gift me? I would like anything anyone gifts me, even more so if it’s given by you, okay?” Chen Mo was subconsciously still trying to appease her, not knowing it was only adding oil to fire.
Miao Yuan’s heart plummeted deeper and deeper into disappointment as she listened to him. Hanging up on the phone, she dove into bed, and broke out wailing.
Freaking Chen Mo. Rotten Chen Mo. That brat obviously takes me for a stranger!
The next day, Miao Yuan went to the cafe with puffy eyes, tearfully complaining. Early in the morning, there weren’t many customers. Three ‘nosey people’ were huddled up together in a circle, their heads touching. Miao Yuan explained in detail from the beginning. The pair listened, nodding non-stop and sighing endlessly. At the end of her spiel, it was concluded that Miao Yuan had been overzealous about taking initiative in the process of chasing him, letting the doggone b*st*rd develop a lazy mindset. And now, in regards to strategy, he was looking down on her. In regards to tactics, he was disparaging towards her. So to sum it up in a single sentence: A girl can’t be too forthcoming.
“Momo, do you think Chen Mo went overboard?” Miao Yuan made a fist.
“Definitely!” Momo followed in making a fist.
“Do you think I should give him a small lesson, and make him know he has to pay the price for neglecting me!” Miao Yuan raised her fist.
Momo and Milu were like her minions and burst into applause. “You got this!”
So just like that, the issue of the silent treatment was unilaterally decided.
On the first day of the silent treatment, it was late at night and Chen Mo was looking at documents. He had especially put his phone on the desk. He read until his eyes were a little tired. By then, he discovered it was already very late. Chen Mo thought, puzzled, Could it be that she’s still mad?
On the second day in the morning, Chen Mo was supervising the soldier’s training, and hesitated for a moment before putting his phone in his pocket. Miao Miao seemed angry. If she called and he didn’t pick up again, she might become even more angry. But all was silent and still that day. When night fell, Chen Mo hesitated over whether he should give Miao Yuan a call, but upon remembering that Miao Yuan was angry at him, he suffered a headache. He’d never had experience making peace with an angered person, not to mention a furious woman. The most frightening part was that she was his girlfriend. Whether you’re talking theory or practice, they all suggest that he had to be good to her, to coax her, to pamper her, and to never upset her.
Chen Mo thought, Forget it, people like me who aren’t good at talking should stay silent. When she cools off, she’ll naturally contact me.
And so, it dragged on like this. At the end of the year, the security work was hitting crunch time. The soldiers were homesick all day long. They continuously made a multitude of small errors in a bid to avoid causing devastatingly large ones. Chen Mo couldn’t bear these kinds of trivial matters, yet was unable to escape them. These matters completely occupied his thoughts. His time for thinking of Miao Yuan lessened. A few days passed by in what seemed like an instant.
During this time, the pitiful Miao Yuan had already managed to climb the ladder to the highest peak.
Her arrogance was excessive. She’d climbed too high; she originally wanted to just get a kick out of it. She didn’t think Chen Mo wouldn’t fall for prey to her machinations. Now she was alone at the top, and worst of all, the ladder was nowhere to be found!
Miao Yuan wanted to cry but had no tears to shed.