Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 36: Christmas
Not long after winning the bid, the company had a public tribute for the architectural design Group A and highlighted other members who contributed to the overall Z-City project plan. However, the legendary prize money was slow to come.
When Zhang Siyi moved back home, he left many belongings in England. Now that it is getting colder out, he is short of winter clothing. At every corner, there are advertisements for winter clothing at various shops for two to three thousand. Even a budget brand, Uniqlo, advertises cloths for seven to eight hundred. It’s the first time Zhang Siyi feels the pressure of living. His credit cards are maxed out and he still needs to by a set of winter clothes, winter accessories and shoes.
Thus far, his November salary was used to pay back the rent owed to Fu Xinhui. Since it’s now the end of the month, he must save his wages for the next quarter’s rent. Being well-off wasn’t something Zhang Siyi actively thought about in the past. It was simply his natural state of living. Realizing the reality of his financial situation, Zhang Siyi starts to worry.
Zhang Siyi was anxious and quietly asked Bi Lele on the Internet: “When do we receive the bonus for the project we won?”
Bi Lele: “it doesn’t come so fast because there is a lot of paperwork involved. In general, its counted quarterly. You were on the job at the end of August, right? and September you didn’t participate in any big projects so there wasn’t bonus for you that quarter. You will have to wait until the next quarter so that means December… well really, you have to wait until New Year’s Day is over.”
Zhang Siyi: “……” Shit! It’s going to take too long! (#°Д°)
Thinking he was going to receive the bonus payment sooner rather than later, he thought he could loosen his belt a bit. He will have to tighten it even more now that he needs to buy some clothes. Thinking about the next month’s credit card bill, Zhang Siyi heart was bleeding. The money is going down the drain and isn’t coming back. He can only endure and look forward to his paycheck.
Christmas is coming and with it, the foreign students return home. Some come home specifically to go on holiday to Shanghai but, where ever their destination maybe, most fly through Haicheng airport. On WeChat, friends got in touch with one another and made plans for dinner. Among them is the ill talked about girl, Yu Rui. Since she has always expressed indifference, it’s not clear whether Yu Rui knows people talk about her behind her back or not. She is always consistently strong willed, doing whatever she wants.
In their close group of 5 friends private chat, on this day, Ren Mengyu and Su Yuan argued.
Ren Mengyu: “What!? You’re going to let Yu Rui live in your place?”
Su Yuan: “She contacted me and asked about staying in my place for a few days. I have the space and it doesn’t bother me right now, so I didn’t have a reason to refuse.”
Ren Mengyu: “Su Yuan, you are too soft! You need to keep a distance from her or you will get hurt. Don’t blame me if something happens!”
Su Yuan: “I know. When we all meet don’t make a fuss. I’m a classmate and I don’t like arguing. Let’s talk more about it privately next time.”
Since it’s the Girls ‘ business, the boys stay silent in the background. Anyway, it’s not possible for Yu Rui to harm them in the same way as the girls so they don’t have much to comment. On Christmas Eve, Fu Xinhui organized a party for the college classmates currently in Haicheng, including Yu Rui and Xue Wenhan who have returned home for the holiday.
Luckily Zhang Siyi didn’t have overtime, so he was able to meet up with his friends on Saturday for dinner. Jiang Hai also brought his girlfriend which attracted the groups attention and teasing. Zhang Siyi joked around: “Jiang Hai broke up with me!” Everyone laughed. Peach Blossom Fortune (love) has returned to Jian Hai.
Jian Hai: “Ha-ha-ha. Do you even have time right now for love? Your work load is too much!”
Surprised, Yu Rui looked to Zhang Siyi: “Really?”
Xue Wenhan also said: “I noticed the project you are working on is in the middle of nowhere.”
Jiang Hai: “Yeah, he had just participated in a big project not long ago. I heard that he got a lot of bonuses.”
Ren Mengyu: “Wow! Zhang Siyi, why didn’t you tell us you were doing so well? Aren’t we close enough friends?”
Su Yuan also said: “The industry is becoming more depressed lately. The company I work for has let go some full-time staff and recruited a couple new interns instead. It makes me worried.”
When Yu Rui listened to Su Yuan, she also turned to Zhang Siyi to appraise him again. She said softly: “British work is also not easy to find now. I heard that a job isn’t secure even if you get a master’s degree. As a result, many have returned to China.”
The difference in job situations between Zhang Siyi and his friends felt very wide. He felt very fortunate in Borderless and didn’t have much to say to comfort his friends. In the past few days he also heard from Bi Lele about the current industry trends. While some companies are paying lower wages compared to Borderless, others are laying off workers.
Everyone raised their glasses and congratulated Zhang Siyi and asked him to treat them for the meal. Zhang Siyi’s heart is dark. Although he has a good job, he doesn’t have money to spend freely. In the face of his friends, he begrudgingly paid for the meal.
Talking amongst themselves, they were having such a good time that they discussed what else they were going to do for the rest of the night. When Zhang Siyi heard they wanted to go to KTV then play pool at a billiard club all night, he started to panic. What if his credit card was rejected at check-out? Fortunately, Fu Xinhui saved him the headache when they entered KTV. He swiped his credit card right away to pay for the big package.
Relieved, Zhang Siyi was finally able to enjoy the rest of the party. After singing a few songs, he sat down to rest a moment and have a drink. Yu Rui suddenly came over and asked: “How did you break up with your girlfriend?”
Zhang Siyi was still immersed in a happy atmosphere and didn’t assume any deep meaning from Yu Rui’s question. Su Yuan and Ren Mengyu replied unpreparedly: “Her character is not right.”
Yu Rui was surprised: “There is someone who can’t get along with you? You are the best boy I have ever seen. If they can’t get along with you, then there must be something wrong with them!”
Zhang Siyi: “Ha-ha. Is that it?”
Yu Rui smiled and raised her cup to him: “Yeah, I have never seen you argue with anyone. It must be nice being with you; smiling and laughing all day long.”
Even though he feels hot and dizzy after a few mouthfuls of wine, Zhang Siyi is feeling rather content at the moment. Listening to Yu Rui words makes him feel even more blissful.
However, think carefully. Yu Rui is obviously trying to butter him up. Most adults don’t put their emotions to the forefront. Yu Rui casually asked: “I have never heard you talk about your family. I guess your parents are intellectuals. Are they university teachers like Su Yuan?”
Zhang Siyi: “My Dad is a super stereotyped person in the system and my mother is not an intellectual. She is a gynecologist.”
Yu Rui is not moving: “In the system? …A government department?”
Yu Rui smiled and asked him how he had been admitted to Borderless in the first place. She wanted to look at his collection of work. Zhang Siyi mind is slowly working. Yu Rui seems to be targeting him. He doesn’t really know what type of person she is, but because he has heard a lot of gossip, he is on alert now.
At ten o’clock he and everyone else started gathering their things and get ready to leave for the next activity. When they left the room, a few girls went to the restroom and the boys waited in the hall for the elevator. Many people were coming and going, and he wondered if he will make the last subway home. Chatting with Xue Wenhan he thought he saw a familiar person coming out of the elevator at the corner of his eye. He had to do a double-take and turn back to take a closer look. Is that Gu Yu? He is here at KTV to sing? Zhang Siyi has a hard time believing his eyes.
Smiling with the crowd, Gu Yu was wearing a short, black woolen coat surrounded by a group of women and men. The average age is significantly larger than Zhang Siyi and his friends.
Preparing to pay the bill, Gu Yu took out his wallet from his coat, but he was interrupted by a tall and strong young man behind him: “Old Four! Let me pay!” The young man stepped to the counter. Zhang Siyi faintly heard the person say: “…. rare to meet ….”
Zhang Siyi was watching the excitement of the lively group of people when suddenly someone squeezed out through the crowd. A beautiful petite girl jumped over to Gu Yu’s side and held his arm, laughing and leaning against one another. Gu Yu turned his head to look at her and did not break away.
In that moment, Zhang Siyi mind switched off, like the static on the TV, there was nothing but “buzzing”. An unprecedented horrible feeling emerged from the bottom of his heart.
The group of people finished checking out then moved to the direction of the elevator. They were taking photos when Gu Yu saw Zhang Siyi. He was surprised to see him.
Less than two meters away, Zhang Siyi can see the girl who is holding onto Gu Yu more clearly. She is extremely pretty and delicate. Wearing a rabbit fur hat, she has large eyes and isn’t wearing makeup. She looks exquisite, like an angelic spirit walking among mortals.
Before either one of them could say something, one of Gu Yu’s friends interrupted their awkward confrontation and asked: “Who is this? Do you know him?”
Gu Yu introduced him to the group: “This is my little friend in the company.”
Zhang Siyi: “…” Why are you always calling me a kid!?
Gu Yu smiled and looked Zhang Siyi’s group of friends: “You also came out to have fun with friends?”
In answer, Zhang Siyi only nodded then the elevator arrived, and Gu Yu left with his friends. The girls belated arrival witnessed this brief interaction and asked together: “Who was that? He was so handsome!”
Fu Xinhui pointed to Zhang Siyi and explained for him: “His boss.”