On Monday morning, I bumped into Lu Chengze in the subway again. I think he had already mastered the art of keeping watch at a tree-stump while waiting for the rabbit. Especially since this rabbit was no longer hesitant, but rather, eager and no longer dreading the possibility of encountering that same white poplar tree.1 In case you didn’t understand, the poplar, a type of tree, is a metaphorical reference to the subway car.
Today’s little poplar had a seat ready for her. It was a little lower than last time, but not enough to be overwhelmed by the crowd.
Because his head was in a place high above others, he was looking around.
I spotted him first but did not call out to him. It was only when he finally found me that I tilted my head in greeting.
He curled his lips and stood up as if trying to give me his seat.
I didn’t refuse and sat down before greeting him: “Morning, little panda.”
“Morning, Qi Miao.” He looked at me from where he stood, looking as handsome as ever.
We no longer mentioned words such as “what a coincidence.” By this point, this subway car had already become our unspoken appointed meeting place.
He handed over a McDonalds’s paper bag to me.
I hesitated, not accepting it and chose to act naive: “What is this?”
Lu Chengze replied: “Breakfast.”
I still did not accept it: “Whose breakfast?”
He replied: “If it’s not your breakfast, then it’s my breakfast.”
A smile spread over my face: “Have you not eaten breakfast?”
Lu Chengze shook his head: “No.”
I told him: “It’s fine, I have already eaten.” Then I lowered my voice and muttered: “In any case, it wasn’t intended for me in the first place.”
The following parts of the text will be scrambled to prevent theft from aggregators and unauthorized epub making. Please support our translators by reading on secondlifetranslations (dot) com
“Tso kp kv dsv qsa usw?” Tl ayalzu lmralpple pwnb eaypvkn nbydtl kd lxsvksd. Rv oyp yp kq kv oyp yd lmnllekdtzu vlaakczl vbkdt vs cl oasdtzu ynnwple cu xl.
R oyp yxwple cu bkp alynvksd: “Zsw nswze dsv byhl clld pwal usw oswze xllv xl.”
“Fs vbyv’p obu R pyke,” bl oyp dsv nsdqwple cu xu osaep yde pvkzz xykdvykdle zstknyz vbkdjkdt: “Rq kv’p dsv uswa calyjqypv, vbld kv’p xu calyjqypv.”
R alpvle xu byde sd xu vsvl cyt: “Rq R vssj kv, vbld oswzed’v usw cl bwdtau yqvla yaakhkdt yv uswa osajrzynl?”
Nw Ubldtgl vsze xl: “Rv’p dsv y ckt elyz vs cwu ydsvbla sdl.”
R pktble: “Zsw pbswze lyv kv uswaplzq. R yzalyeu yvl yv bsxl, cwv vbydj usw.”
Xdzu vbld eke Nw Ubldtgl easr bkp byde cynj esod, kv bye clld bydtkdt xke-yka qsa yzz vbkp vkxl.
Mblal oyp y nswrzl clpkel bkx. Mblu bye clld oyvnbkdt, qasx pvyav vs lde, vbl rasnlpp sq vbkp bydepsxl twu tlvvkdt vynvqwzzu vwadle esod.
Ebld vblal oyp pvkzz sdl pvsr zlqv clqsal yaakhkdt yv Dkzkd Nyjl, vbl sze zyeu clpkel xl tsv sqq. Gp vbkp byrrldle, zkjl y nbkze rzyukdt xwpknyz nbykap, Nw Ubldtgl ynvle pokqvzu vs pdyvnb vbl plyv.
R oyvnble yp bl vssj sqq bkp cynjrynj, y qsttu-tayu ryvvladle cyt. Mbl cayde’p ekpvkdnv pvuzl oyp alnstdkgyczl yv y tzydnl, kv oyp qasx Rpplu Ykuyjl.
R xyel y fsjl: “Ps usw rastayxxlap byhl vs sod y ryvvladle kvlx? Mblu pllx vs cl zkjl yxwzlvp.”
Nw Ubldtgl eked’v eldu kv: “Vlabyrp.”
Nw Ubldtgl’p vypvl kd nzsvbkdt oyp ralvvu tsse: nzlyd, nypwyz, dsv nbypkdt yqvla vbl valdep, ds zswe sa scdsmkswp ryvvladp, cwv okvb zsvp sq qkdl elvykz. Mblal olal dsvknlyczl vaynlp sq xlvknwzswp nyal clkdt rwv kdvs kv.
Eyp kv clnywpl sq xl? Xa bye bl yzoyup clld tsse yv vyjkdt nyal sq bkxplzq?
Sltyaezlpp sq obknb kv oyp, kv oyp ldswtb vs xyjl xu zkrp vwad wr yv vbl ldep.
R pbsv ydsvbla tzydnl yv bkx: “Mblal’p sdzu sdl pvsr wdvkz usw tlv sqq. Zsw pvkzz oydv vs vyjl y plyv cu xl?
Tl nsaalnvle xl: “Rv’p vball pvsrp.”
Not long after I reached my workplace, Lu Chengze sent me a WeChat message, reporting his situation for the day. One might wonder, Is “report,” this kind of contrived word, the proper word to use in this situation? But, this was exactly the kind of feeling he gave me.
He said: I reckon today will be a busy day. I may not be able to reply to your messages promptly like usual.
I smiled: Then busy away, I will be busy as well.
Who wasn’t a struggling corporate slave.
I had a meeting in the morning and a sales pitch in the afternoon. By the time I returned from the client’s company, night had already fallen.
I was sitting in the second row of the company’s commercial vehicle, in a seat by the window.
It was very stuffy in the car, so I lowered the window. The sky displayed outside was unusually beautiful, a blend of orange and pink, the wash of color turning the entire city into a painted screen.2
 You can also call it a room divider but here’s an image for reference:
I heard the car’s navigation system announce, “Two hundred meters ahead, Xilin Lake Industrial Park.”
I froze for a moment and then asked my colleague: “Xilin Lake is right up ahead?”
He turned his head around halfway: “Yes.”
I asked: “We shouldn’t have anything left to do after returning to the office. Can you drop me off ahead?”
Our copywriter team lead, who was sitting in the same row as me, asked: “You’re not coming to eat with us?”
I shook my head. I got out of the car by the entrance to the park and examined the map. Following the navigation directions, I walked six hundred meters to the entrance of Guangniu.
I exchanged glances with the uniformed uncle behind the security guard booth and looked down to send a message to Lu Chengze: Are you busy?
Lu Chengze: Not too busy, I’m getting ready to go eat.
I typed, “Can you find some time”——delete——rephrase—— “Would it be convenient for me to take twenty minutes of your time? There’s a small matter which requires your participation, but it is not too important. So, it is all right if you refuse.”
He replied: What is it? It will be fine even if it takes half an hour.
I laughed and sent my location to him: I would like to invite you to watch the sunset.
Lu Cheng was very surprised: ?
Then he asked: Where are you?
I said: At the entrance.
Guangniu truly deserved to be called a large company. Even its industrial park was large beyond belief. It took Lu Chengze ten minutes just to come to meet me, and this was with him sprinting over. This left us with only twenty minutes.
He explained the situation to the security guard with a few words and they let me in.
As I was walking in with him, I felt apologetic for my impulsive whim: “I’m sorry, I just happened to have gotten back from going out, just happened to pass by your workplace, and the sky just happened to be especially beautiful, so…”
Lu Chengze panted slightly and raised his gaze. He probably had not had time to take a look at the sky yet. At this moment, he was also slightly taken aback and told me his thoughts: “It is very beautiful.”
I asked: “Have you eaten?”
As he took off his work ID, he told me: “Not yet, let’s go out to eat.”
I stopped him: “Don’t take it off, I didn’t come here to mooch a meal off of you.”
Lu Chengze looked toward me: “You invited me to watch the sunset. I’m inviting you to eat dinner. It’s polite to reciprocate.”
“Also, it’s simply too silly to be wearing this.” He held his work tag between his fingers as he said this in an earnest tone.
My gaze fell on the upside-down two inch photo: “It’s not silly at all. Even like this, it’s handsome.”
“No,” in the dark, his smile seemed even brighter: “It’s very foolish.”
“Can I look at it?” I asked.
He stopped his hand which was fiddling with the lanyard and handed it over to me on his open palm.
I looked down and scrutinized it. The him in his ID picture was exactly the same as he was now. His smile was clear and natural. I asked him, “When was this taken?”
Lu Chengze replied: “It was the year before last year. I had just come to Guangniu and everyone in the entire department had their pictures taken.”
I returned his work tag and looked back out to the sky. I noticed the hue of the sky had changed colors while we were talking: “It was still orange and pink just now, but now it has become blue and pink.”
Lu Chengze followed my line of sight and took a look before saying: “I just thought of a movie.”
I cast a glance at him from the side: “Which movie?”
He didn’t answer, instead he simply began whistling a segment of a familiar prelude.
I laughed knowingly and said the name of the movie: “La La Land.” In it, there was also this kind of sky.
He turned his head slightly to look at me: “Have you seen it?”
I nodded my head, humming the first verse, telling him not only had I watched it, I also knew this song very well: “City of stars, are you shining just for me?”
Lu Cheng widened his eyes in surprise and answered like Jay Chou: “Pretty good.”
He followed up with the verse I sang and continued:
“City of stars
There’s so much that I can’t see
His timbre was different from Gosling. It was clearer and more sonorous, but his enunciation was perfect and he didn’t go off-key, keeping his listener’s attention.
After this verse ended, he motioned again in an inviting way.
His chin raised: “Continue.”
I pleaded for forgiveness: “I only know that verse.”
He said: “Humming works too.”
I let out a long sigh and acquiesced.
“Yes, all we’re looking for is love from someone else
Like this, we continued singing in lowered voices and walking toward the edge of twilight, the end of the road. Whenever one of us couldn’t recall the next line, the other would fill in. It was to be expected that there were a few words forgotten along the way and parts where neither of us knew the lyrics, but neither of us minded.
On the way back, I continued humming the melody while Lu Chengze walked silently. The avenues of their industrial park were wide and long, almost seeming endless. The lamps on either side of the road lit up one by one. In one small corner of the city, I was immersed in a sea of blue and pink. It was as if I had become the protagonist of a romantic film.
As we neared the entrance, Lu Chengze picked up a phone call. I guessed it was about time for us to part.
Should I do something?
The moment this thought appeared, it turned into an overwhelming impulse which overtook my body and settled into a fiery ball in the center of my chest.
My attention was fixed on Lu Chengze as I watched him hang up the phone, drop his hand down, and squeeze out an apologetic smile towards me.
I called out to him before he could even open his mouth: “Lu Chengze.”
I didn’t hesitate. I took a few steps forward, tiptoed, and pressed my lips to his. The entire process was light and short. His lips were dry but soft, making the passing brush of our lips seem less concrete and realistic, as if it had never happened.
But—still, something unusually dazzling burst in my mind, something unusually splendid still burst in my mind, like the splash of a nebula in a large galaxy. The aftereffects were fierce, and I tried my best to control the rise and fall of my chest.
Lu Chengze looked at me in astonishment, frozen in place.
His face gradually flushed at a speed visible to the naked eye, rapidly reaching the tips of his ears. It was like the pink sky from just before.
I looked for myself within his bright pupils. It was as if by doing so, I could adjust my center of gravity and not stiffen from how nervous I was and explain the impulse from the previous moment smoothly. But then I thought, there is nothing to explain. The sky was beautiful, the music was beautiful, and the atmosphere was beautiful. That was all there was to it.
I also firmly believed my kiss was confident and natural and was not an undue sneak attack.
“I’ll leave first.” I said.
He blinked in a way reminiscent of someone who had just woken up.
If I looked at him for another second, I was afraid I would become shy and begin having regrets. I hurriedly told him: “You should go back as well. Bye bye.”
I turned around and walked a mere few steps before I suddenly heard him calling out to me: “Qi Miao.”
Just as I was about to look back, I felt my wrist being caught by him. This was the first time Lu Chengze had clearly used force while touching me. His hot palms and defined knuckles did not allow any room for me to pull away or attain the upper hand. That being said, pandas were also beasts.
His next words wouldn’t be to ask me for an explanation, right? I made this ungenerous assumption as my heart was racing wildly. I started to come up with lines a powerful and dominant businessman would make. Lines such as, “Don’t worry, I will take responsibility for you.”
But Lu Chengze did not do any of that. Under the deep dark blue of the night, he looked at me intensely for a few seconds before letting go of me and saying: “I’ll call a car for you.”
I told him: “No need, go back. It’s not difficult to call a car here.”
Because of that kiss from before, I became aware of his lips. In the past, I had been more drawn to his eyes and the brows which framed them.
“You have some lipstick on you.” Luckily, I took a few more glances at him which led to this discovery.
Lu Chengze was distracted by this: “Where?”
I imagined he was most likely highly disconcerted in this moment. Otherwise, how could he ask this kind of foolish question.
I raised my hand and rubbed his lip bead a few times with my thumb, using a little more force than I had with the kiss earlier.
Just about to put my hand back down, Lu Chengze suddenly took control of my wrist, keeping his lips still against my fingertips, pressed against the spot I brushed my lips against not long ago.
This countermove made me take a deep breath.
There was a thrill rushing through my body which was spreading throughout, uncomfortable, yet cozy at the same time.
My every nerve was stretched taut, burning in his silent but ardent gaze.
“Lu Chengze.” I called his name while trying to break free.
His Adam’s apple bobbed, revealing the restraint he had on himself before he finally let go.
I drew a breath and acted as if nothing had happened. I took a careful look at his mouth: “It should be all gone now.”
He smiled and brought our attention back to the subject at hand: “Why did you do this in front of the entrance?”
I looked to either side of us. Aside from the gate, there was not a soul to be seen: “What’s wrong with the entrance?”
“There are cameras.”
I asked him: “Is there something wrong with there being cameras?”
He said: “I still need to work at the company.”
I pinched the space between my brows: “Will what I just did cause you to lose your job?”
“Mm,” Lu Chengze nodded, then smiled again: “As I can’t help but want to skip work.”
The author has something to say:
City Of Stars
There are two versions of this song on NetEase Cloud, a Gosling solo version with whistling in the prelude, and another version with a male and female duet. I recommend everyone to listen to it.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a kiss, FINALLY!
Sorry about missing last Friday’s release. The holidays are doing a number on me. Haha, I’m getting lazy!
Now, hurry up and go read the next chapter! Shoo, shoo, over you go, hit that next button!
 In case you didn’t understand, the poplar, a type of tree, is a metaphorical reference to the subway car.
 You can also call it a room divider but here’s an image for reference: