The Encounter, Eight Years Later
Translate: Nancy | Edit: Sae
Yang Meng and Bai Luo Yin were in the midst of a joyful chat when a police officer, who was about a head taller than Yang Meng, walked over and stopped right in front of them. Without warning, he threw down a pile of documents with a rather nonchalant attitude. “This is the weekly report. Take it to the sub-bureau as soon as possible.”
Yang Meng, much to his chagrin, could only take the documents and sighed. His face was quickly written with annoyance and resentment as he narrowed his eyes to glare at the other office. “Seriously?! I can’t even chat in peace for one day!”
“I’ll take you there, my car is parked outside.”
“Great!” Yang Meng said cheerfully as his hand landed on Bai Luo Yin’s shoulder. “I can finally experience what it feels like to ride in a military car today.”
On the road, Yang Meng asked, “Yin Zi, do you know how to fly all kinds of aircraft?”
Bai Luo Yin remained silent then replied in an unenthusiastic tone, “Pretty much.”
“Then, why didn’t you fly a helicopter here?”
“We only fly it during emergency operations since it’s normally not necessary. Besides, you can’t just land it wherever you want. When you look at it like that, it’s not as convenient as driving!”
Listening to the stern and forceful tone in Bai Luo Yin’s voice, Yang Meng stared at him enviously. “Yin Zi, you are so handsome.”
Bai Luo Yin snorted with a laugh, “If you’re able to meet the required conditions now, you can enlist in the military and join the Air Force squadron with the goal of becoming a pilot, are you willing?”
Yang Meng shook his head without hesitation, “I don’t want to.”
“There you have it! Honestly, I’m actually envious of your easy and comfortable working environment. Every day, you just need to do your shift, patrol the streets and write up some reports. And, if an urgent task springs, the issue can be easily resolved by sending out a few men.”
“I wish. How can it be as easy or relaxing as how you put it?” Yang Meng bluffed before his expression changed. “However, compared to your job, mine is indeed considered a bit easier and more comfortable.”
Bai Luo Yin remained silent.
Yang Meng glanced over and asked, “Yin Zi, it’s extremely tough in the military, isn’t it?”
“It’s not as tough or life-threatening as you make it sound. It’s okay… it was a bit unbearable in the beginning, but now I don’t feel anything.”
“Even now, I still don’t understand why you suddenly enlisted back then. But, thinking about it, being selected as a candidate for the Air Force isn’t easy. The average person doesn’t even have a chance no matter how hard they try. For people like you who has connections within the military, it will be even easier to get promoted if you perform well. You have a promising future ahead of you! Brother, keep striving! The latter half of my life is depending on you.”
While chatting along the way, the two finally arrived at the sub-bureau. Bai Luo Yin parked the car then followed Yang Meng into the Public Security Bureau building.
“Walk this way.” Yang Meng said to Bai Luo Yin whose eyes were wandering around.
Just as Bai Luo Yin was about to turn the corner, his footsteps suddenly came to a standstill. His body froze—shocked by a pair of silhouettes just a short distance away. He did not blink as his foot became rigid as if they were cemented to the floor.
“The Deputy Chief of Police isn’t here?” Yan Ya Jing gave Gu Hai a side glance, “You didn’t give him a call beforehand?”
Gu Hai continued to walk while he spoke, “Something urgent came up at the last minute. But he’ll rush back after an hour or so.”
“Then are you going to wait around for him?” Yan Ya Jing followed closely behind Gu Hai.
“We’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
Since Gu Hai’s pace was too quick, Yan Ya Jing practically jogged behind him just to keep up. As a result, when Gu Hai suddenly halted like a formidable mountain, Yan Ya Jing lost her balance and bumped into him.
Catching himself from his momentary stupor, one of Gu Hai’s hand reached out to grabbed Yan Ya Jing’s shoulder to help her steady her footing as to not fall. All the while, his eyes only shifted once from the sight ahead.
“Why did you stop all of a sudden?” Yan Ya Jing asked after she regained her balance.
Gu Hai’s eagle eyes aimed unwaveringly toward Bai Luo Yin who stood only a short distance from him. In that second, the surrounding air seemed to have frozen over as their eyes locked while their hearts became encased by a glove of ice. There were only two meters of space between them, yet neither took a step forward to lessen the distance. With neither breaking eye contact, they had even forgotten to greet each other.
Standing to the side, Yang Meng poked Bai Luo Yin. “Isn’t that Gu Hai?”
Like being unwillingly awoken from a profound dream, Bai Luo Yin blinked. Once he focused his gaze on Gu Hai again, he suddenly felt as if a lifetime had passed by. Has it really been eight years? It felt like it was only yesterday that he was fooling around with this person in his dreams. But, seeing him again today, he has unexpectedly become an unfamiliar face.
As he meticulously picked out all the details of Gu Hai’s appearance, he could make out that the silhouette of his face has become even more mature and charming, and the suit he wore led him to emit a faint aura of intelligence and respectability. His gaze was still as sharp as ever, but the only difference was, Bai Luo Yin could no longer decipher the latent meaning that slumbered beneath.
Gu Hai looked ahead unyieldingly—the Bai Luo Yin that dwelled in his eyes now has already shed his youthful appearance. The pure and bright sunshine smile that once remained in his memories no longer appeared calmly on his face.
Sometimes, the things you believe would always endure, has in fact been lost a very long time ago.
Without shifting his eyes, Bai Luo Yin took the initiative and walked sternly towards Gu Hai. Then, as if in slow motion, his elongated arm stretched out to give Gu Hai a warm hug.
But the second he let go, Gu Hai’s willful derision daringly sauntered into his ear.
“As expected, you’ve really changed after staying overseas for a few years. Compared to before, you’re even more polite now.”
At those words, Bai Luo Yin’s heart felt like it had been pricked by something sharp. However, an endearing curve still remained on his lips.
“It seems you’ve grown taller.”
Gu Hai laughed coldly, rendering the temperature around him to drop a few degrees. “I had legs lengthening surgery.”
As the memory of the car accident trickled into his mind, the fear that lingered on from then, still vividly burrowed into his bones unto this day.
Gu Hai held his hand up and made a few gestures in front of Bai Luo Yin’s forehead. “It seems, you’ve also grown quite a bit.”
“Perhaps, the natural environment oversea was more nourishing.”
Standing beside them, Yang Meng listened to their conversation to the point that he himself was completely bewildered.
What nonsenses are these two talking about?
Yan Ya Jing stared at Bai Luo Yin for a long time without blinking. The more she looked, the more familiar that face became. All of a sudden, she excitedly pulled Gu Hai’s hand as if she remembered something. “Hey, isn’t he the one on your desktop…”
“He’s my Ge.” Gu Hai quickly cut Yan Ya Jing off before she could finish her sentence.
Eight years ago, if he could force Gu Hai to call him Ge just once, Bai Luo Yin would have been in seventh heaven for three days. However, now that Gu Hai t willingly called him Ge, a bitter chilliness penetrated his heart instead.
After staring at Yan Ya Jing for a while, Yang Meng couldn’t resist no more and asked, “Who’s this?”
“That’s right, I forgot to introduce you all.” Gu Hai stiffly pulled Yan Ya Jing into his arms and forged a smile, all the while looking at Bai Luo Yin. “This is my fiancé, your future sister-in-law.”
Bai Luo Yin’s heart dropped immediately, nearly missing a beat. However, eight years of being a soldier were not all for nothing. Now, his psychological endurance could rival the outer layer of a military fighter aircraft.
“That’s nice, don’t forget to give me an invitation when you get married. As your Ge, how can I miss out on such an important day?”
Gu Hai smiled faintly, “Even if I forget everybody else, I wouldn’t forget you. Now that I think about it, you were the one who brought us together! If you didn’t smell the perfume on me that day, I wouldn’t have known that someone had fallen for me at first sight.”
Looking squarely at him, Bai Luo Yin replied indifferently. “Then, be careful when you’re taking your wedding photos. Don’t drop my sister-in-law into the water.”
“Don’t worry, even if she fell into the water, I can still dive in and get her out.”
The two stared attentively at each other, with neither shifting their gaze. With one glance, it was obvious to anyone that their expression did not match the real emotions that sank in their eyes.
It was unclear why Yang Meng, who was standing to the side, could not stand watching them act like that anymore. A second later, he said rather peculiarly, “Then, you two should go to the Bureau of Civil Affairs and sign the marriage certificate right now. A bickering couple just went there to file for divorce not too long ago. Perhaps you two can make it in time to soak up some of their luck.”
Remaining calm and collected, Gu Hai merely gave Yang Meng an icy glare. “This is a high-altitude battle. There’s no use in you trying to join in.”
At first, Yang Meng did not understand what Gu Hai meant, but after looking up at him, and seeing Gu Hai looking down at him, he instantly understood.
What the fuck, high altitude… high altitude……
“How about you? Are you still single?” Gu Hai asked again.
“Yes.” Bai Luo Yin bluntly admitted.
“No one wants you?”
Before Bai Luo Yin could speak, Yang Meng took another turn and spoke yet again. “How is it possible for nobody to want our Yin Zi? He is now a Chief…”
Bai Luo Yin forcefully grabbed Yang Meng’s arm, quickly suppressing the rest of his words.
“Meng Zi, what are you doing here?”
Someone called from the corner. The person was one of Yang Meng’s colleague who had transferred to this substation earlier. Now that he had a chance to see Yang Meng, he could not help but be happy. It has been a while since he had the chance to make fun of Yang Meng, so without any explanation, he pulled Yang Meng aside and began to banter and tease him.
“May I ask, what are you the Chief of now?” Gu Hai questioned closely.
Bai Luo Yin paused for a moment, then calmly said, “Chief Executive Officer!”
“Woah…” Yan Ya Jing exclaimed in admiration as she looked on from the side. “You’re so young yet you’re already a CEO in a foreign company?”
Laughing rather shamelessly, Bai Luo Yin looked at Gu Hai again and asked, “How about you? What are you doing now?”
“I’m not talented, I’m just a president of a small company.”7
Bai Luo Yin had never seen such a humble expression on Gu Hai’s face like this before. Although it appeared like a hoax but seeing a guy who was once straight-forward and temperamental changed into someone who could maintain a calm posture, made Bai Luo Yin felt rather surprised.
Yang Meng shouted from a long distance away, “Yin Zi, are you going or not? I’m off work now but I still need to go back and pack up my things.”
Bai Luo Yin glanced back at Gu Hai once more, “I have to go.”
Gu Hai acknowledged him with a nod.
The moment their shoulders silently brushed pass each other and their eyes locked, a tempestuous and overwhelming plight similar to that of the seas and rivers being turned over, raged within their hearts. Yet even then, the surface of their faces was not ruffled in the least as they maintained their respective calmness and unchanging demeanor.
Once Bai Luo Yin walked out of the entrance with Yang Meng, he suddenly pulled him onto the road and flagged down a taxi.
“Didn’t we drive here?” Yang Meng was dumbstruck, “You don’t want your car anymore?”
Bai Luo Yin spoke with a calm expression, “I’ll come back and get it later.”
This time, Yang Meng was even more puzzled, “Why?”
When Yang Meng turned back and caught sight of Gu Hai walking out, as if he faintly understood something, he obediently followed Bai Luo Yin into the taxi. Even after they got into the taxi, Bai Luo Yin’s gaze remained outside of the window, making it hard for Yang Meng to clearly see his expression.
“Why don’t you want to let Gu Hai know you’ve enlisted in the military?”
Hearing that, Bai Luo Yin slowly turned his gaze back. The distinctive edges that sculpted the side his face now carried a hint of emotions that have long been held back deep within him. No matter how hard he tried to conceal it, Yang Meng could still sense the immense change in his emotions now in comparison to what it was before.
“Are you afraid he’d go look for you?”
“No, it’s not that. Don’t ask me anymore. I’ll tell you later when I have a chance.”
Even after Gu Hai got into the car, the engine was never started. He tapped his fingers rhythmically on the steering wheel, narrowed his eyes and stared at a random corner in the car. During the entire time, he did not utter a single word.
“Gu Zong, what you said just now…something about fiancé. What exactly was that all about? It confused the heck out of me when I heard it.”
Gu Hai’s face abruptly darkened. Without any warning, his fist smashed hard against the steering wheel and shook the entire car.
When Yan Ya Jing studied in university, she incidentally reunited with Gu Hai. Since then, she had remained at his side for more than five years already. But, never had she ever seen such an intense and fierce change of emotions splayed over Gu Hai’s face like this before.
“You… don’t misunderstand…” Yan Ya Jing stuttered a bit, somewhat at a loss, “I know you were only joking so I didn’t take it to heart. I’m just asking for the sake of it.”
During the conversation, Gu Hai had already started up the car and took a sharp U-turn onto the road.
Strapped in the passenger seat, Yan Ya Jing gripped the door handle as her heartbeat increased along with the speed of the car. Gu Hai, on the other hand, did not stop speeding, overtaking another car, urgently braking, or seize an opportunity to maneuver in an out…
Yan Ya Jing incessantly urged, “Gu Zong, don’t drive like this…it’s very dangerous…”
As she said that, the roof of the car slowly pulled back and open up. Then a gust of cold wind charged in and eclipsed the air, making it extremely difficult for Yan Ya Jing to breathe.
“Ahhhh…what the heck are you doing? It’s winter!! Gu Zong…GU HAI!!…”
Gu Hai hissed and spat, “This is the only way to shut your mouth.”
7 鄙人不才 – “I’m not talented…” (鄙人 biren) I or your humble servant