Chapter 7

Ye Ji’an was always in a mess whenever he prepared to go overseas. Although he was not particularly comfortable even on normal days, he would be downright miserable in the few days before a business trip.

Prior to leaving, their team was asked to draft a general task list for the trip so that the company could utilise their time and budget more efficiently. In addition, they had to submit the planning documents and contracts relevant to their business trip.

Outside, their competitors from rival companies were keeping a close eye on them. Ye Ji’an also had to wrap up some internal tasks for his department to prevent problems from happening during his absence, especially since this trip fell on the critical period right before the Spring Festival.

This also caused his previously sporadic overtime to turn into a daily occurrence. Ye Ji’an had to squeeze out time just to have a Mevius1A brand of cigarettes in the nooks and crannies of the smoking room. The cigarette always left a sweet taste in his mouth, tinged slightly with bitterness. Ye Ji’an felt that his way of living was no better than that of a dog’s. 

Liang Xiao would sometimes be beside him, lighting Ye Ji’an’s cigarette with his own. Their chitchat was naturally interesting, even if the topic was the smog outside the window or the football game that neither of them had the time to watch.

Either way, chatting made Ye Ji’an feel as if he was still alive. However, with such busy schedules, neither of them had the energy to consider eating out. These days, their lunches only consisted of two items: bentos and sandwiches. They would eat quickly, finish their meals in fifteen minutes and resignedly head back to their computers.

When Ye Ji’an looked at Liang Xiao, he often felt that this person was full of energy. There were so many nights whereby he, like Ye Ji’an, had missed the last subway train and decided to simply not go home, choosing to slump over the table and sleep till dawn instead. However, Liang Xiao always remained so energetic. Ye Ji’an could not understand. 

However, one day, Ye Ji’an caught sight of his reflection again. Apart from the dark circles under his eyes that couldn’t be hidden, he still looked refreshed and well put-together. Even if the big boss asked to talk to him now, he would not panic.

Alright. Ye Ji’an could understand it now. This was a skill that everyone in the modern age had picked up: staying beautiful on the outside while being on the verge of breaking down on the inside.

However, the good young man who despised suicide probably didn’t share his goudai2狗带 in the raws. These two characters, when spoken, sound like “go die” fantasy. 

Go die? I haven’t finished screening the funds. I haven’t received my year-end bonus either. How could I die? Ye Ji’an thought to himself.

Less than two weeks later, all the documents were approved and enough investor meetings had been held. The crazy days of overdosing on coffee had finally come to an end. Ye Jian boarded the flight to Moscow. The surrounding seats were all empty and silent. Ye Ji’an felt that he had to have a good, peaceful sleep on the flight.

Following the company’s regulations, Xiao Li of the General Department booked a first-class ticket for him. The other five people were placed in standard seats at the back and did not board the plane through the same lane. Their team had a total of three females and two males—deputy director Chen from the legal affairs department and Liang Xiao. 

Ol’ Chen3China likes to use “old” to describe someone experienced. The old here probably does not refer to age. had a lot of experience, but he was, unfortunately, a patient with three highs—high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar. He had to pay special attention not to hurt himself, so all the physical work was left to Liang Xiao.

Fortunately, Ye Ji’an squeezed over to help when he was stowing the luggage, thus preventing the miserable scene of this arrogant prince being surrounded by luggage, resigned to putting them away one by one.

Xiao Li from the general department was shocked. 

“Director Ye, please head back and sit down, the plane will be taking off soon!”

Ye Ji’an smiled and replied, “It’s still early. Moscow’s current temperature is below minus ten degrees. Have you brought enough clothes?”

“I did! One of my suitcases is specifically meant for my down jacket. The jacket is super thick.” The little translator who was a fresh graduate raised her hand, looking very excited. Ye Ji’an’s kind elder brother persona had left a deep impression in her heart.

“It’s just that I forgot to check-in the luggage and ended up troubling you…Thank you.” She tilted her head slightly and carefully looked towards her side.

Liang Xiao was beside her. Though they were of the same age and joined the company at the same time, he seemed much calmer and steadier. 

“I was too lazy to bring thick clothing,” Liang Xiao said, taking a look at Ye Ji’an’s tie printed with diagonal stripes. “I’m going to buy it at Pulkovo Airport.”

What about your return trip? You don’t have a suitcase to store your clothes ah. I’m afraid you just plan on abandoning it at the hotel. If your clothes could see their future fate, they would flood Moscow with their tears.

Ye Ji’an abruptly felt that he understood Liang Xiao incredibly well.

“Okay, let’s all have a good rest.” Placing his hands in his pockets, Ye Ji’an leisurely headed back to his seat.

As he had planned, Ye Ji’an enjoyed a carefree, high-quality slumber for the first time, high up in the sky. When he woke up, he felt that the world had become a more beautiful place. This feeling persisted until their plane landed. 

The sky was clear and sunny, but the city was completely white. The piled-up snow was so white that it looked a little blue. It swallowed everything up, leaving only a pure, snow-white sea.

Ye Ji’an liked to watch the snow. Snow in Slavic countries, Slavic people and Slavic novels were a breath of fresh air to him. After settling down at the hotel, the group of six bundled themselves up in their jackets and headed out to attend a banquet.

Snow fell once more. It did not melt even after coming into contact with their car windows. Instead, it piled up neatly, looking a little like grain. Each snowflake’s unique fractal pattern was illuminated under the streetlights.

It was so beautiful. Ye Ji’an could not resist it any longer and took out his phone to snap a few photos, looking like a tourist who found everything around them interesting.

The company they were planning to meet had sent a Toyota Alphard over. It quickly weaved through the wide, spacious streets surrounded by ancient castles. Liang Xiao, who was sitting shotgun, turned around and stared silently at Ye Ji’an. The down jacket he bought at the airport was pure black with a simple design—it was more or less a sack stuffed with down, used solely to keep warm.

Ye Ji’an had never seen Liang Xiao in such a simple look before. 

“No longer feeling the jet lag?” Ye Ji’an asked, unable to bring up other topics in the presence of so many colleagues.

“I listened to Senior’s advice and spent the whole flight sleeping.” Liang Xiao smiled with curved eyes.

“Haha, me too,” Ye Ji’an replied, secretly sending Liang Xiao the snowflake photos before putting his phone away. “We’ll have to start working tomorrow.” Or, at least that’s what I’m saying.

“Liang Xiao nodded but did not make any sound. Within a few minutes’ time, he replied to Ye Ji’an’s message. To Ye Ji’an’s surprise, it was a few lines of Russian.

 И сердце бьется в упоенье,

И для него воскресли вновь

И божество, и вдохновенье,

И жизнь, и слезы, и любовь. 4Google translate: And the heart beats in rapture / And for him they rose again / And deity, and inspiration, / And life, and tears, and love.

Ye Ji’an did not know what he was playing at. Did Liang Xiao know a second foreign language? It wasn’t included in his resume.

—What does that mean? Ye Ji’an texted.

—It’s a poem by Pushkin. Liang Xiao’s reply was short and simple.

—When I saw Senior admiring the snow, these sentences appeared in my head. Liang Xiao continued.

—OK, I’ll google that.

—! I didn’t expect— Liang Xiao’s reply abruptly cut off. He turned around and stared at Ye Ji’an, looking nervous.

—What did you not expect? Ye Ji’an happily returned his gaze.

Liang Xiao hurriedly looked down and typed: I wanted to translate it personally for Senior. I can even read it aloud for you with rich expressions and emotions. Can you wait until our job here is successfully completed?

What kind of cryptic code is this? Why does it warrant so much secrecy? Ye Ji’an thought to himself. However, he decided to cater to the young man’s strangely sensitive behaviour. After all, Liang Xiao was twenty-seven. Back when he was at that age, Ye Ji’an also liked to quote poetry.

—Then I’ll wait. Let’s work hard. After sending the message, Ye Ji’an, as promised, did not touch Google. Under Liang Xiao’s scrutiny, he obediently put his phone away, trying to prove his innocence.

The predicted duration of this business trip was twelve days. By the sixth day, it could be said that everything was going well. No mistakes had been made. Inspections, formal negotiations and private discussions with the other company were all progressing smoothly.

This gave Ye Ji’an a sliver of hope. Perhaps they would be able to return on time and enjoy the New Year’s holiday. However, there were still two main things that worried him.

Firstly, he was still unaccustomed to the food here.

Secondly, Liang Xiao was consistently struggling with waking up in the mornings.

It was wrong to say that Liang Xiao was a grump in the mornings. It was also wrong to say that his perpetual grogginess affected his productivity. On the contrary, Liang Xiao did not seem to have changed.

He still had his attitude from before and would devote all his attention to work. He also remained as meticulous as before. He even took up some translation tasks, putting his strangely fluent Russian to good use.

However, it was clear to Ye Ji’an that Liang Xiao was not as relaxed as before. His eye bags that were growing darker by the day and his increasingly long periods of silence all pointed to the fact that he was severely lacking in sleep.

“Not sleeping well at night?” Ye Ji’an asked.

“Eh? It’s alright,” Liang Xiao only smiled in response. “I sleep so well sometimes that I can’t wake up until Senior calls me.”

Why do I doubt your words so much? Calculative little guy who speaks only honeyed words, just you wait and see, Ye Ji’an thought to himself.

On the seventh night, Ye Ji’an put his plan into practice. If he abruptly visited Liang Xiao, wouldn’t it be easy to check whether he had been asleep a minute ago?

Ye Ji’an was sincerely worried that the handsome and capable young man would suddenly die due to a lack of sleep and care.

They were both staying in single rooms. Liang Xiao was in room 402 and he was in 404. There was only Ol’ Chen from the legal department between them. 

Ye Ji’an set an alarm for 2:30am. With Ol’ Chen’s familiar snoring in the background, he knocked on room 402’s door.  

Afterwards, Ye Ji’an felt that he was probably not right in the head.

“Who is it?” Liang Xiao’s voice quickly sounded out softly. His voice seemed to be close by. Liang Xiao repeated the same question in English and quickly followed up with Russian.

“It’s me,” Ye Ji’an hugged his arms and replied. “Quickly open the door for your Ge,” he continued without a trace of politeness.

“You didn’t sleep?” Ye Ji’an raised an eyebrow.

“Did Senior get insomnia?” Liang Xiao fired back with an innocent look on his face.

Ye Ji’an immediately felt his temper rise. This rascal! Acting as if you’re the owner when you’re just a guest!5Chinese idiom. Ye Ji’an is referring to how LX evaded his question while questioning him instead. This is not about the hotel rooms.

“Oi, I’m asking you if you’ve slept! How many hours of sleep did you even get in the past few days?”

Liang Xiao tensed up and kept silent, to Ye Ji’an’s surprise. Though Liang Xiao did not admit it explicitly, he did not seem to have the intention of defending himself or making excuses.

“What’s wrong? Is there a problem with your room?” Ye Ji’an felt as if he was a caring homeroom teacher asking after a student’s health.

“The problem lies in me,” Liang Xiao replied in a low tone. He rubbed his face, retreated a step and grabbed onto the door handle tightly.

“Senior, I need to be alone for a while, no need to worry about me.”

Ye Ji’an’s quick reflexes led him to stick his elbow at the door frame, preventing Liang Xiao from closing the door. Looking at his seemingly pained expression, Liang Xiao immediately abandoned his plan of resisting Ye Ji’an, tentatively reaching out for his arm.

“I really want to refer to you as my little ancestor6Someone you have to show respect and care towards, often doing a lot of things for them,” Ye Ji’an said, staring unhappily at Liang Xiao. He tugged at the hem of his inner shirt. 

“It’s freezing here, let me in quickly.”


 

TN: Any Russian readers who can help translate that paragraph? XD

  • 1
    A brand of cigarettes
  • 2
    狗带 in the raws. These two characters, when spoken, sound like “go die”
  • 3
    China likes to use “old” to describe someone experienced. The old here probably does not refer to age.
  • 4
    Google translate: And the heart beats in rapture / And for him they rose again / And deity, and inspiration, / And life, and tears, and love.
  • 5
    Chinese idiom. Ye Ji’an is referring to how LX evaded his question while questioning him instead. This is not about the hotel rooms.
  • 6
    Someone you have to show respect and care towards, often doing a lot of things for them

waterlemon

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3 thoughts on “Chapter 7”

  1. Oh, a love poem! Is our romantic ML too nervous about the upcoming deadline reveal to sleep?

    Thanks for your hard work translating!

    Reply
  2. To…***
    O wondrous moment! There before me,
    A radiant, fleeting dream, you stood,
    A vision fancy fashioned for me,
    A glimpse of perfect womanhood.

    Through all life’s sadness, all its wonted
    And hopeless flurry and unrest
    Your lovely face my spirit haunted,
    Your tender voice my ear caressed.

    Swift storms struck; o’er me wrathful breaking,
    They fast dispelled the dreams of yore.
    Your image blurred, my heart forsaking,
    Your voice caressed my ear no more.

    In cold and gloomy isolation
    The years sped by, the lonely years,
    ’Thout deity, ’thout inspiration,
    Bereft of life and love and tears.

    And then — O bliss! — time’s flight defeating,
    You came again and ’fore me stood,
    A vision radiant and fleeting,
    A glimpse of perfect womanhood.

    My heart is filled with sweet elation,
    Anew it craves, anew reveres,
    And is awake to inspiration,
    Awake to life and love and tears.

    It was written for Anna Kern, with whom Pushkin had an affair in 1825. Nabokov, who was determined that Pushkin was untranslatable, ridiculed all attempts to translate this. You can find other translations. This one was made by Irina Zheleznova.

    Reply

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