[Fan Mei — as that Misses Youya is actually called — works as a reporter when she isn’t bad-mouthing people. Most of her job is on the radio so you won’t get to see her often but there are a few photos online. Look at them and behold the magic of cosmetic surgery!]
Once again, a photo was attached. Or rather: Si Er had gone to the trouble of adding the same photo again and contrasting it with a new one.
Si Jiu whistled when he saw that. “You’re vicious enough. I don’t think she’ll ever revive from that image being planted in her readers’ head.”
Si Shi Qi couldn’t help but frown. “Did you really have to do this? She is my sister …”
Si Er just huffed. “You already said that. But if you didn’t want her to get hurt, you should have kept her on a tighter leash. Anyway, this is for the Si clan’s sake. Now, she at least won’t be able to use that identity anymore to make trouble for us.”
Si Shi Qi still wasn’t convinced. “What if she creates a new one and uses the rage she definitely feels right now as fuel to become even more extreme? Ever thought about that?”
He sounded solemn enough but Si Er just flicked him a lazy glance. “I exposed her once. Naturally, I can do it a second time. The added bonus is that her credibility will have gone down by a lot. If she sneakily tries to come back under a different name and is discovered, people will believe even less what she writes. That’s all we need. She also can’t use any acquaintances to cover for her since it would be much too easy to prove to the public.”
“Even if she doesn’t make it public, she might investigate this. What if she tracks it back to you?”
This time, Si Er furrowed his brows. “What the fuck are you talking about? I am our country’s best hacker. Even worldwide, I would still be comfortably in the top five. Who is your sister going to ask for help to find me, huh? Grow a brain, Shi Qi! There’s no drawback here. If you just want to keep your sister safe, you should have made sure she wasn’t interfering with our tasks. Don’t forget that the clan always comes in first place!”
The others nodded, agreeing with that sentiment. They all had families and half of them were in long-term, committed relationships but when it came time to choose, the Si clan had to come first. The one who wasn’t willing to do that stopped being a member they could depend on because they would always worry about what might happen if a choice had to be made. No, in their situation, they could never hesitate.
Si Shi Qi’s behavior right now really wasn’t acceptable. Even more so if one considered that it wasn’t even his sister’s life that was threatened. If it had been that, they would have understood to a degree but he was really making a fuss over nothing.
Si Shi Qi shook himself when sixteen pairs of eyes stared at him like this. “You guys calm down. It’s not like I’m running off to sell you out. I just feel like Er was too vicious. There would have been other ways to deal with this.”
“Yeah, educating your sister.” Si Er curled his lips and turned back to the screen. “In any case, it is what it is. I’ve already published it and people have seen it. It’s not going to go away so stop arguing here.”
Si Shi Qi sighed. “I also know that. But it’s easy for you to say. You won’t have to deal with her. She’s definitely going to think it was me and that this means something shady is indeed going on.”
Si Shi Jiu snorted when he heard that. “That’s what’s giving you trouble?”
Si Shi Qi’s lips twitched. Why did that sound as if Si Shi Jiu thought it was so easy? “That’s exactly what I mean! It’s easy to talk like that when you’re not the one who has to deal with it. It’s not like I can just hand you the phone and have you do it!”
Si Shi Jiu raised his brows at him and then reached out to pat his shoulder in a patronizing manner. “Let me tell you — from politician to commoner — that your worries are nothing in my eyes and that the solution to your worry is the simplest trick in my arsenal of verbal weapons. Here, I’ll impart some knowledge for free: When she calls, you just turn it around on her and play the victim. Make it all about your feelings of being misunderstood and hurt and if she tries to argue, move the goalpost as far as you can.”
Si Shi Ba also piped up. “It does work. I mean it’s incredibly manipulative but who said we couldn’t do things like that?”
Si Shi Qi pursed his lips. Well, they really made it sound easy. Maybe he should really give it a —
His phone rang, interrupting his thoughts, and making him jump. He hurriedly fished it out of his pocket and stared at the screen with mixed feelings. “It’s my sister.”
Si Shi Ba and Si Shi Jiu reached out to pat his back in consolation.
“Speak before she can and accuse her of wanting to harm your wife’s reputation. Don’t let her get a single word in before you haven’t made clear that you’re completely devastated and won’t easily accept her apology.”
“Mention how she hurt your trust. Trust is always important. That and family.”
Si Shi Qi nodded when he got the reminders, took a deep breath, and then answered the call. Before he had the chance to open his mouth, he was already yelled at.
“Fan Ming! What do you think you’re doing? Take down that post immediately!”
Si Shi Qi turned to look at Si Shi Ba and Si Shi Jiu for help with an anxious expression.
Immediately, two screens were held in front of his face.
Si Shi Ba: [Bring up what she did.]
Si Shi Jiu: [Start arguing and interrupt if necessary. Don’t let her get a word in!]
Si Shi Qi nodded and furrowed his brows, trying to put all the annoyance into his voice that he had felt over the years when his sister was making trouble and he had to explain himself to Si Yi. “What I did? I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about. Rather than that, you’d better explain to me what you did!
“I just had one of my employees come to tell me that somebody was badmouthing my wife online. I don’t expect anything else from those gossips and paparazzi outside, but what about you? We’re family, for Heaven’s sake, Xiao Mei! How could you do something like that to your own sister-in-law?
“Do you think Tao Jin really needs somebody that close to her to talk badly about her online? As if she doesn’t have enough people who are jealous of her or will lie just about anything to discredit her! What were you even thinking?!”
“Oh, that’s rich coming from you! We’re family? Well, where was your sense of family when you posted that fucking picture of me? When did you even take that? You’ll take that down immediately!”
Si Shi Ba and Si Shi Jiu held their foreheads. Si Shi Qi actually hadn’t been doing too badly but Fan Mei was just better than her brother when it came to accusing others. Unfortunately, they couldn’t just take the phone from him and do this for him. He’d have to get through this phone call on his own. They could at most try to give him some advice on how to continue.
Si Shi Qi also wished that somebody could take over for him but he knew that it was impossible. He closed his eyes and tried to think of what the others had said while keeping up with the direction the argument was going in.
He had to turn it back on her and make her out to be the bad guy. That was the next step. And he couldn’t discuss much longer. Because the longer he talked, the more likely it was that Fan Mei would be able to turn things around. He couldn’t let that happen.
Si Shi Qi sighed as if he was really weary. “Take it down? Xiao Mei, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. You’re the one who uploaded that shameless article. Well, I see there’s no use in talking to you.
“You know what? Don’t bother texting or calling me until you’ve at least apologized to Tao Jin. I don’t expect you to retract that article or clear up that you just made everything up. I know you won’t do that anyway no matter how I beg you.
“But at the very least, I want you to apologize to her. She’s family. It’s time to treat her like that. Because honestly, I don’t even know how to look at my wife or my friend after what you’ve done. I can’t believe that you’re doing that to me. I really thought our relationship was better than that. But I guess I was wrong.” He didn’t wait for her to say anything and ended the call, lowering his phone.
Si Shi Ba and Si Shi Jiu enthusiastically patted his shoulder.
“You did good, man!”
“For real! I didn’t think you’d have it in you.”
Si Shi Qi glanced at the two of them with some displeasure, giving a huff. “You didn’t think I had it in me but you still let me do this and told me before that it would be so easy. Some good brothers you are!”
Si Shi Jiu gave him a sleazy smile. “Well, you managed to do it in less than ten minutes. I’d say that that just shows how easy it really was.”
Si Shi Ba nodded slowly. “Yes, yes, you definitely realized your full potential this time. I’m really proud of you. Now, you just have to make sure that she won’t make use of her secret weapon against you.”
Si Shi Qi raised his brows until his expression finally derailed. “Oh, shit!” He hurriedly raised his phone and then sent a text to his father.
Si Shi Qi: [Don’t listen to Xiao Mei if she calls you and cries again. She was targeting Master’s future spouse.]
Having done that, he lowered the phone again, wanting to put it away.
Before he could do so, Si Qi grabbed it from him and handed it to Si Jiu. “You can turn that on silent for him. Otherwise, he’s not going to be able to ignore it when she blows up his phone.”
Si Jiu raised an eyebrow but then nodded his head with pursed lips and turned off the sound as if he was making major achievements. Only then did he hand it back to Si Shi Qi. “If you can’t bear it, just give it to one of us. We’ll handle this.”
Si Shi Qi sighed, weighing the phone in his hands. Well, he was pretty sure that he would be able to take this. In any case, he couldn’t always run from it, and he had done the most difficult part already. “Don’t bother. I’ll just wait and see what she does. Maybe she will really apologize to Tao Jin. That would definitely be for the best. I’m feeling sorry toward her for getting involved in this.”
Once again, he got his shoulder patted by one of the others and another speech on how, as a member of the Si clan, it was his duty to involve his wife if this meant further progress with their most important task. Si Shi Qi just waved, not bothering to listen any longer.
“Stop it already. Let’s take a look at the rest of the article. I can imagine that she was angry about the photo but there has to be more in there if she’s making such a fuss about it. Let me see. I least need to know what I have to defend when my father is finally going to rip me a new one.”
Si Er silently chuckled and very conscientiously offered his seat in front of the screen to Si Shi Qi. Then, he used the opportunity to quietly slink away, going to search for a place where he would be safe afterward.