The minute Li Xueyue stepped aside for Li Wenmin, he whirled into the room like a storm bent on creating chaos. He abruptly stopped in front of Yu Zhen and grabbed him by the collar, yanking him incredibly close. "What's your intent with Xueyue?"
Li Xueyue's eyes widened in disbelief. "You promised you'd use words and not violence!"
"I promised I wouldn't use my sword," Li Wenmin told her, only for her to narrow her eyes. "Besides, I haven't punched him yet, so it's technically not violence."
Li Xueyue could not argue with his point. She sulked in the corner with a vexed expression.
Li Wenmin focused his attention back onto Yu Zhen. "Well? Are you going to answer my question or are you daft?"
Yu Zhen's eyes flickered to Li Wenmin's hands and to Li Xueyue who obviously respected her older brother very much. This left Yu Zhen's hands tied. He could not hurt someone whom she loved, but he could shove him off and that was exactly what he did.
Li Wenmin stumbled a bit in utter shock, unable to fathom that he was pushed behind just like that. Yu Zhen didn't even seem fazed by his own strength, as if he knew he'd succeed.
"My intentions with her are as pure as ash," Yu Zhen deadpanned.
Li Wenmin's brows scrunched together in confusion until it dawned on him the suggestive meaning of Yu Zhen's words.
Li Wenmin furiously turned to Li Xueyue, pointing a finger at Yu Zhen. "Why do you always pick the bad apple out of the bunch?"
"You know, I'm standing right here." Yu Zhen waved a hand at Li Wenmin who ignored him.
"You can't be attracted to looks, Xiao Yue! The better looking a man is, the more evil he is!" Li Wenmin scolded.
Li Xueyue stood there dumbfounded that Li Wenmin was the one giving her a lecture.
"Had you been a girl who called me handsome, I'd be flattered. Honestly," Yu Zhen spoke up, but Li Wenmin pretended as if he didn't exist.
"Did you hear what he just said? His intentions are stupid! As pure as ash? He clearly meant he will soil you!"
"Actually, I was merely joking—"
"And he thinks he's so smart with that poetic line, but in reality, it was stupid," Li Wenmin scoffed, placing a hand on his waist.
"If you want a toy, I'll bring you one. Just don't play with things like…" he trailed off and threw a displeased look towards Yu Zhen, "him."
"I guess being shamelessly rude runs in the family," Yu Zhen noted to himself, not at all surprised by Li Wenmin's brash talks.
In all honesty, Yu Zhen could've beat Li Wenmin to the ground for disrespecting him but this person was Xueyue's brother and she'd kill him if she saw her brother bruised.
Li Xueyue rolled her eyes in response. "Did the truth hurt?"
"No, but you know what does hurt?" Yu Zhen asked her, his eyes sparkling. "When I—"
"You mean when you crawled out from the pits of hell? Yeah, it must've really hurt." Li Xueyue shrugged her shoulders when he stared at her in disbelief. She had already predicted he would say, 'When he fell from Heaven.'
"So you admit it then."
"That I'm devilishly handsome."
Both siblings threw him an incredulous expression. He simply shrugged his shoulders. "General Li, you should rest assured."
"Your nieces and nephews will be incredibly good-looking—"
"No, Wen-ge. Don't!" Li Xueyue yelped when Li Wenmin's hand flew to the hilt of his sword, ready to slain the man in half. "He was joking."
"You see, the Commander was dropped on the head as a baby, so he's kind of mentally special."
"Are you sure I was the one dropped on the head?" He shot her a stare. "Coming from a mildly useless girl who—"
"Anywho!" Li Xueyue clapped her hands, preventing him from saying anything that would incur Li Wenmin's wrath. "W-why don't we have some tea and snacks in the gardens? The hydrangeas are so lovely today."
Li Wenmin threw Yu Zhen a disgusted frown. "I can't eat with the likes of him near me."
Yu Zhen's eyes narrowed at the General's childish remarks. "That's rich coming from you."
"What did you just say?" Li Wenmin scowled, taking a step closer to which Li Xueyue groaned. She glanced up at her ceiling, almost questioning the cruelty of Heaven to leave her in the same room as them.
"Did I stutter?" Yu Zhen asked, lifting a perfect brow. Despite being engaged in a conversation with Li Wenmin, he couldn't help his fleeting eyes. It lingered on Li Xueyue but he immediately looked away when she turned her head. To his pleasant surprise, she was blatantly watching him.
He winked in her direction and her lips twitched before looking away.
"Don't flirt in front of me." Li Wenmin shivered in disgust.
"We weren't flirting," Li Xueyue said, just as Yu Zhen said, "What? Jealous?"
Li Wenmin stared at the two in utter disbelief. He was supposed to be irritated by the presence of Yu Zhen, yet he was bewildered by how they treated each other. Playful and nothing too serious, they were quite an endearing pair.
He looked at Li Xueyue and pointed towards Yu Zhen. "Please tell me you don't feel anything for this… this runt."
"I'll show you who's a runt." Yu Zhen narrowed his eyes and it instantly reminded Xueyue that nothing in this world was scarier than the anger of a tranquil man.
"Why don't we spar it out then?"
"Or you know, we could drink tea and talk about our day," Li Xueyue spoke up, hoping to dispel this tension.
"Why are you taking his side, Xiao Yue?" Li Wenmin frowned. "Don't worry, I won't beat your loverboy up—it'll just be enough to disfigure him."
"You bark too much. Where's your bite?" Yu Zhen retorted, earning a scathing glare from Li Wenmin.
"Say that again, I dare you."
"Last time I checked, you should be showing me some respect, General."
"I give respect to those who earn it, Commander."
"Then you must not get a lot."
"This catfight is interesting." Li Xueyue decided to give up and sit down at the table. She lifted a cookie to her mouth, munching on it while they argued in front of her. She chewed extra loud to get their attention but they were too bent on destroying each other.
"Wen-ge, these are your favorite. You sure you don't want some?" Li Xueyue said, leaning her forehead on her fist while she offered him the plate of flower cookies.
"Hah, your favorite cookies are in the shape of flowers?" Yu Zhen loudly laughed, tossing his head back in utter amusement.
"You're just jealous she offered me the plate," Li Wenmin jabbed, reaching for the plate, but she swiftly retreated her arms.
Yu Zhen grew quiet because Li Wenmin had finally hit a nerve. He was actually waiting for her to offer him a seat at the table, but she only patted the chair beside her.
"If you want the cookie, Wen-ge, you have to sit down like a gentleman and enjoy it over an insightful conversation."
"You talk like an old woman," Li Wenmin retorted, snorting when she tossed the cookie at his head which he dodged effortlessly. He approached the seat she offered him, but the petty Yu Zhen pushed him aside and sat on the spot that was meant for him.
Li Wenmin did a double-take, rubbing his eyes. "Wow, Xiao Yue, I just saw the most unbelievable thing. A dog could sit, did you know?"
"Just sit down and eat your cookie, Wen-ge," Li Xueyue demanded, pointing to the other chair beside her.
Li Wenmin pouted. "Aren't you going to applaud me for my great insult?"
"Sounds like a stolen one." Yu Zhen simply shrugged his shoulders before taking three out of five of the General's favorite cookies and stuffing them in his mouth.
Just great. Li Xueyue sighed, massaging her forehead. They would definitely bicker again. Just then, the door burst open and in walked another twin.
"You're taking too long," Li Chenyang scowled, pointing to Li Wenmin. "So much for being more conniving than me!"
"It's not my fault. Xiao Yue made me promise her I wouldn't use the sword!"
Li Chenyang pressed his lips into a thin line, turning to Li Xueyue who innocently sat there, munching her cookie.
When she saw his aggravated expression and the veins popping on his forehead, she turned to the table and grabbed a plate of Li Chenyang's favorite cake bites.
"Want one?" she offered right when his lids twitched.
She placed the plate down and then turned to the melon cookies that she knew was his second favorite. "What about this one?"
"Can you be serious?" Li Chenyang frowned, pointing to Yu Zhen in disbelief and irritation. "How can you eat at a time like this? There's already rumors of your affiliation with the Commander of Hanjian, and with his visit today, they're going to think you're his."
Li Xueyue quietly ate her cookie whilst looking down at her lap. Li Chenyang blinked once, twice, and thrice. Judging by her reaction, something clicked in his mind and the only thing he could do was slowly nod his head.
"You're right. I should probably sit down for this discussion," he breathed out in shock, collapsing onto the chair beside her and picking up the small cake bites.
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