The door was slammed shut in front of him again and Ye Ji’an jerked sharply. Three possibilities gradually surfaced in his muddled head. The first was that he was sleepwalking, the second, that Liang Xiao was sleepwalking, and the third, that that certain person had come up with a clever trick that could rescue him from this wine-filled nest of devils.
Ye Ji’an wanted to believe in that last guess of his.
But he mainly felt worried. The participants of this dinner were unlike the internal staff in the company. It was hard to say if the general manager’s reaction would merely be to show frustration and choke on his words the way their superiors did whenever Liang Xiao spoke whatever was on his mind.
Liang Xiao was just a young man who’d been with the company for no more than half a year. He had no backing or support and was powerless in the company. If he got on the nerves of the big leader over something as trivial as Ye Ji’an drinking on behalf of his superiors… Wouldn’t that be too much of a pity?!
With this in mind, Ye Ji’an’s reaction time finally sped up. He’d even regained enough strength to push the door, feeling the urgent need to go back in to save Liang Xiao.1救场 – Save the scene (before things get too bad). Translates awkwardly hence the slight adjustment. As soon as he opened the door a crack, Ye Ji’an saw Liang Xiao standing upright at the spot where he’d previously stood.
Yet he was not the only one on his feet. Two other young employees who’d been brought over to drink, the secretaries of several guests, the guests themselves, and even the general manager who was hosting the dinner were all up on their feet. The entire table was standing right now!
Ye Ji’an stiffened and did not rush in. Years of experience in observing others told him that the current situation was not the same as what he’d imagined. Making any rash movement now might not have a positive effect.
Ye Ji’an vaguely heard someone muttering a long speech, though he couldn’t make out its contents even after concentrating on it for a while. Either way, it was spoken in the flattering tone often used at the drinking table.
At this moment, Liang Xiao, seemingly noticing something, turned around and glanced at Ye Ji’an.
Damn, so fierce.
Isn’t this just a warning for me to not make any rash movements?
As if giving in to the demand, Ye Ji’an hunched his shoulders inwards, blinked several times and closed the door further. Only after Liang Xiao saw Ye Ji’an obediently hide inside did he turn back.
“There are some matters at work. Something abruptly came up and I need Director Ye to head back ASAP.”
Liang Xiao’s words were spoken very clearly in an attitude that was neither humble nor arrogant.
“It’ll probably take a long time, so I won’t be sending him back after he’s done.”
“Of course, of course. To think that Xiao-Liang personally made a trip for this. Do bring Xiao-Ye along and head back quickly.”
Ye Ji’an finally figured it out: the voice that sounded out just now belonged to the general manager. He soon heard him jovially explain to his guests, “He drank quite a bit just now and still has to go back to work despite it being the New Year. The young people of today are working too hard.”
“Yeah, it’s such a pity that he won’t be able to accompany everyone to drink during the New Year.” Having said this, Liang Xiao abruptly picked up a glass from the rotating table and unhurriedly added some baijiu2白酒 – Translated literally to “white wine”. However, this is completely different from white wines like chardonnay. The Chinese baijiu is a fermented wine that usually has 35%-60% alcoholic content. to it.
This glass was originally used to hold red wine—and yes, it was what Ye Ji’an had been drinking from earlier. Facing the crowd, Liang Xiao raised the glass in his hands to chest height and said with a smile, “General Manager Feng, I’ll drink three cups in punishment on behalf of my department.”
“You…what are you doing?”
“I’m wishing you a Happy New Year, of course!”
“Haha, this xiao-Liang,” the general manager chuckled, “You sure know how to play a good joke.”
“Oh, but it’s not a joke. I know you like to drink.” Liang Xiao shot him a sympathetic look. “I’m no Director Ye, but we’re all juniors of the company, so it’s fine if I drink in his stead, right?”
The general manager, to Ye Ji’an’s surprise, actually panicked at this. Multitudes of “how could I ask that of you” spilt from his mouth. Even the guests started to dissuade Liang Xiao: “Xiao-Liang is driving today, it’s better if you don’t touch any alcohol.”
The behaviour of the two people standing right beside Liang Xiao was even more exaggerated—they slung their arms around his shoulders in a friendly manner while stuffing non-alcoholic beverages into his hands.
“It’s true that I drove here,” Liang Xiao remarked, bringing the beverage to his lips. Seeing this, everyone at the table lifted their drinks in a toast.
Liang Xiao smiled. “This is a little embarrassing.”
Immediately after, amidst another wave of polite mumblings, Liang Xiao took a small sip of the protein drink while everyone else at the table emptied their cups. He then greeted those around him; after a bout of “Uncle Sun’s” and “Uncle Liu’s”, he finally bid his farewell, retrieved Ye Ji’an’s coat and backpack from the back of the chair, and turned to leave.
Ye Ji’an watched as Liang Xiao turned to face his direction. Standing still and unmoving, he watched as the young man approached. The scream in his heart had already been suppressed for a long time. God knows how Liang Xiao did all that!
It was as if the general manager had completely turned into someone else. His behaviour just now not only differed from how he usually behaved in the company but also differed from how he’d been previously when he had forced Ye Ji’an to drink toast after toast.
The general manager’s actions now completely contradicted Ye Ji’an’s hypothesis that the bald old man would not let him go no matter how urgent the work was.
“You’re amazing!” The door closed once more and Ye Ji’an reached out to grab Liang Xiao’s wrist.
Liang Xiao did not respond and simply furrowed his brows, concentrating fully on putting a coat on Ye Ji’an. “Is Senior still uncomfortable?”
“I’m okay,” Ye Ji’an slipped the coat on. Seeing Liang Xiao walk towards the elevator, he immediately followed after, trying to keep up. “What’s the problem at the company?”
“There isn’t one,” Liang Xiao seemed to have no intention of returning Ye Ji’an’s bag to him to carry. “But if we hurry a little, we’ll probably be able to make it into the venue before the show starts.”
“How much time do we have left?”
“A little over half an hour.”
It would take nearly an hour’s journey via taxi from where they were to the Tianqiao Art Center—and that was under the premise of good traffic. No matter how drunk he was, Ye Ji’an still understood clearly that taking the subway was an idea not even worth mentioning.
Yet he did not want to burst Liang Xiao’s bubble. Ye Ji’an decided to ask his burning question instead. “What about work?”
“There’s no work,” came the reply.
“Huh?” Ye Ji’an nearly stumbled in his shock.
Liang Xiao held his hands out to support Ye Ji’an once more, bringing him so close that Ye Ji’an was basically in his embrace, and towing him along. “The urgent matter was something I made up to make it less awkward for him.”
Ye Ji’an stood still in front of the elevator, watching the number increment. As the number approached their storey, his brain went through three stages; from shock, to calm, and back to shock.
“Do you know those two investors?” Ye Ji’an asked as he entered the elevator.
“I’ve met them before.” Liang Xiao pressed the button.
“…Is your family involved in this industry?”
Liang Xiao moved his gaze from the digital screen to Ye Ji’an’s face and nodded. “Yes.”
Ye Ji’an leaned back against the wall. There’s no way…
He then heard Liang Xiao’s next words: “The relationship between my family and our company is not competitive.”
Ye Ji’an’s mind whirled and his anxious heart regained its peace—yes, there was no way! The chairman’s surname was clearly Chu; there was no way he’d ever forget such a rare surname.
Nor could he recall any higher-ups in the company with the surname Liang… Liang Xiao had already stated that their relationship was not competitive, so he was probably the young master of some other big, influential family? Perhaps his family had cooperated with the two investors in the past.
As for the general manager… On usual days at the company, Ye Ji’an had never seen him get angry at Liang Xiao, even when the latter directly challenged him. Given that bootlicking trait of his, it was no surprise that the general manager would back down when facing someone with solid backing.
His situation was pretty much the same as what Ye Ji’an had previously guessed.
Ye Ji’an breathed a sigh of relief, thanking Liang Xiao. His entire body relaxed and he leaned on Liang Xiao’s shoulder.
“I thought that I’d be forced to drink until I couldn’t tell up from down. I wasn’t planning to go to your house either; hugging a drunkard stinking of alcohol definitely won’t help you fall asleep.”
“In the future, Senior need not force himself to attend such dinners. If you don’t want to attend them, you can just ignore the general manager. He’s not someone who will make a request he knows will be shot down,” Liang Xiao said, guiding him out the elevator.
The lobby was decorated resplendently. The bright dazzling caused Ye Ji’an to narrow his eyes. “You ignored me for such a long time that I thought that you’d gotten mad at me.”
“I was working at that time.”
“Eh? Didn’t you say there was no work?” Ye Ji’an felt that walking through the spinning, revolving door would make his own head spin.
“There was a little, but I’ve finished it all up. I was the last one to leave!” These words were spoken in a childish tone—it was as if Liang Xiao wanted praise. Ye Ji’an felt the urge to rub the head of this weird partner of his.
A cold wind blew right at Ye Ji’an’s face. He raised his head and was right about to raise his arm to hail a cab when an abrupt, blinding light flashed in front of him.
This light was much more glaring than the polished marble floor tiles of the lobby just now.
For this was a light—a headlight. A red sports car with an aerodynamic frame and a round hood stopped parallel to the entrance.
“This is why I said we’d be able to reach in time.”
Liang Xiao hooked the car keys around his little finger and pushed the bag back into Ye Ji’an’s arms. Still holding his hand, he led Ye Ji’an over to the car.
“You’re awesome.” Ye Ji’an rejoiced with a hand up to shield against the light.
Liang Xiao opened the car door unhurriedly, bowed in a rather gentlemanly manner, and finally revealed a smile on his face. “Senior, please take a seat.”
Ye Ji’an tidied up his appearance before bending down and taking a seat in a rather serious manner, offhandedly throwing his bag onto the footrest. He then saw Liang Xiao deftly loop around the hood of the car to take a seat beside him.
For the first time, Ye Ji’an heard in person what the engine of a supercar sounded like when it was starting up. Movies and documentaries always described supercars with phrases like “an angry bull” and “a wild, crazy youth”, but none of those could do it justice—they were merely hollow descriptions. Now that he’d experienced it, Ye Ji’an felt that the experience was as if he was riding a rocket.
He’d come to the dinner on a slow, sluggish ride and was now leaving the crowded parking lot on a lightning-quick supercar—though the car was soon stuck in a jam on the frontage road underneath the bridge.
That large rocket was trapped in the middle of a plot of baby carrots. Ye Ji’an could not help but feel aggrieved on Liang Xiao’s behalf.
Yet Liang Xiao did not seem to feel any impatience. He was probably long used to driving and was in no hurry to make use of his vehicle’s speed advantage. His behaviour was so casual that it was as if he was treating his Bugatti Veyron as a Passat.
Sigh. Little Bu 5Cutesy nickname for Bugatti, we’ve let you down, Ye Ji’an thought in his heart. I saw you once at the door of Shin Kong Place and another time at the garage when I went down to the basement to grab some things. You’re just lying there day in and day out collecting dust, aren’t you? I suppose you don’t have much to talk about with your good brothers beside you.
It’s such a pity that your master likes to brave the crowd on the subway with me instead. Though morning traffic is too awful for you to show off your skills. Your talents are wasted in this city. Now, you finally have the opportunity to let loose, but your young master is still driving at such a steady pace. It’s probably due to my presence that he’s paying extra attention to safety, right?
Ye Ji’an accidentally made a noise in response to the nonsensical thoughts in his head.
Liang Xiao’s curious gaze was reflected in the oval rear mirror.
Seeing this, Ye Ji’an suddenly realized that he was comparing himself to a car and quickly put a halt to his thoughts. He felt that he must be extremely drunk.
He could not understand the displays on the dashboard even after paying it some attention and thus turned his mind to more serious things. “What’s the speed limit on this road?”
“I don’t know.” Liang Xiao finally passed the intersection where the congestion was at its worst and headed straight to the ring road. It was already past nine and there were few cars on the third ring road. It could be said that they overtook every single car they saw—and it didn’t take much time either; only a couple of minutes at best.
Ye Ji’an felt as if he was on a rocket with how fast they were going so. The wind whipped past the car, but it was blockaded by the tightly shut windows and could only whistle sharply upon contact with the car’s exterior.
The high speed brought with it temporary weightlessness. Turbulence tapered into calm and Ye Ji’an had the misperception that the car had left the ground. Mixed with the vague haziness unique to the night, it felt as if they were truly hurtling through space; as if…they were truly in flight.
Ye Ji’an was someone who was used to moving around underground, frequenting subways, crowded platforms and the extensive map of underground passages underneath Chang’an Avenue’s Financial Street.
He would turn into a black pixel on the canvas called the city, as unremarkable as a little ant, hurrying along like a singular red blood cell in the vast circulatory system of the city, his only possession a trace amount of oxygen.
How was moving around underground any different from walking along the wide streets? Even when above ground, Ye Ji’an would still feel like he was being crushed by a layer of soil above him; and if he stood up just a little straighter, his head would touch that invisible, intangible ceiling.
But he was flying now.
He couldn’t even see the air around him clearly. The only thing he knew was that there was not a single person in his way at this moment. 6只知道前后左右，天上地下，没人挡他。- Translates literally to “no one was blocking him, whether it be the north, south, east, west, heaven-ward or earth-bound directions”, used to further describe how YJA feels free because his path is clear of obstacles. Omitted this because I couldn’t find a way to translate this to Eng without it sounding nonsensical.
Ye Ji’an grabbed the seat belt looped across his lower abdomen and looked at Liang Xiao’s side profile.
It went without saying that Liang Xiao still looked as he usually did. The angles of his brow bone and the bridge of his nose were just as sharp as before and his lips were still slightly, habitually pursed, giving him an absent-minded air.
His eyelashes still resembled a girl’s—thick and curly. Ye Ji’an had seen Liang Xiao’s appearance countless times, but the other looked a little different at this moment. As they sped through the warm, golden beams of light emanating from the streetlamps, neon lights flickered in the distance, and Liang Xiao’s face was illuminated by light and covered with shadows at alternating intervals.
“You’re over the speed limit,” Ye Ji’an said.
“We’re almost there,” Liang Xiao replied. There was a hint of a smile in his eyes.
“Beware of having 12 points deducted, or having a policeman follow you on a motorcycle to revoke your driver’s license.”
“It doesn’t matter, they can’t catch up to me anyway.”
Ye Ji’an suddenly had the urge to kiss him right at that moment. The desire to do so burned bright and strong in him.
This wish of his came true at the entrance to the bar. Frankly speaking, Ye Ji’an had been holding himself back since a few traffic lights ago, but he’d felt that he was astride a fierce horse. If he kissed the one holding on to the reins and made him dizzy, the pair of them would fall right off.
However, Ye Ji’an no longer had such concerns now that they’d arrived at their destination. Concerns such as what time it was or how long they had left until the start of the performance were tossed right out of Ye Ji’an’s mind.
Flinging his arms around Liang Xiao’s neck, Ye Ji’an instantly placed his lips on Liang Xiao—though his drunkenness caused him to miss the other’s mouth. Liang Xiao cupped his face and gently sucked his lower lip into his mouth, his lips curving up at Ye Ji’an’s clumsy kiss.
“There’s no need to hurry, Senior,” Liang Xiao murmured, gently pinching at the earlobe beside his palm.
Ye Ji’an swallowed his saliva and finally recalled what they were here for. Sitting up straight, he wiped at the corners of his mouth, looking dismayed. “I…didn’t hurt you with my teeth, did I?”
Liang Xiao unfastened his seat belt and replied, “The wine tastes very sweet,” before getting out of the car.
Ye Ji’an followed suit and opened the door on his side. Only after exiting the car did he realize that they were indeed eye-catching—several youths who were smoking by the entrance were blankly staring at them.
Liang Xiao locked the car and guided Ye Ji’an along, his movements natural and at ease. He even helped Ye Ji’an, who was wildly poking at his phone screen, bring up his electronic ticket.
There was no queue at the entrance. The two entered the premises and headed down to the bar in the basement. Only then did they realize that it had already started several minutes ago.
The official performance had not yet commenced; another band was performing the opening act. The band only had a bass and a guitarist. The position for the drums was left empty, yet the music, reverberating pleasantly in their ears, managed to stir up the crowd.
The lights were all cool-toned, with the majority being either blue or white. The various shades illuminated the venue with a kaleidoscope of colours. Ye Ji’an pulled Liang Xiao forward and squeezed his way to the front row with great familiarity and ease.
After drinking, Ye Ji’an no longer worried about bumping into someone as much as he did before. He simply felt at ease. His unconscious smile could not be solely credited to the natural excitement he felt at a venue like this; rather, it was more due to his discovery that those around him were dressed in all sorts of clothing.
There were girls with heavy makeup wearing deep V-necks, emo guys in tight T-shirts, and goths in androgynous clothing… and this was but the tip of the iceberg. On the other hand, the two of them were the only ones in suits and ties, with their employee cards still in their breast pockets.
“We’re pretty peculiar!” Ye Ji’an picked a vacant seat closer to the middle, laughing loudly beside Liang Xiao’s ear.
“I think we’re really cool!” Liang Xiao bit his ear.
“Haha, is that so!” Ye Ji’an felt that the alcohol in his blood had already evaporated. Truthfully, this process had started long ago—all that alcohol seemed to float up, condensing in his brain and causing him to blurt out all sorts of nonsense. “Is Prince Liang able to club!”
Liang Xiao seemed to get a little shy at his words. He lowered his head and unbuttoned his suit before asking, “This is not the first time Senior has come here, right?”
“Actually—” Liang Xiao unhesitantly removed his suit, throwing it on his shoulders. Bending down slightly, he moved his head to beside Ye Ji’an’s ear. His words this time were spoken softly. “I had already seen your tattoos once before we even started talking!”
TN: Sorry for the late update! The metaphors, while a delight to read, are pretty hard to translate（πーπ）
- 1救场 – Save the scene (before things get too bad). Translates awkwardly hence the slight adjustment.
- 2白酒 – Translated literally to “white wine”. However, this is completely different from white wines like chardonnay. The Chinese baijiu is a fermented wine that usually has 35%-60% alcoholic content.
- 3Alcohol brand
- 4Walnut milk beverage
- 5Cutesy nickname for Bugatti
- 6只知道前后左右，天上地下，没人挡他。- Translates literally to “no one was blocking him, whether it be the north, south, east, west, heaven-ward or earth-bound directions”, used to further describe how YJA feels free because his path is clear of obstacles. Omitted this because I couldn’t find a way to translate this to Eng without it sounding nonsensical.