[Chapter 016] Bian JinYuan said gently: “Behave.”
“Of course not,” Bian JinYuan said.
“Then that’s too bad.”
His words had just dropped when a titter was heard. Lu YunFei turned to look at Liu Mo who was laughing at them. Liu Mo looked average, but when she laughed, she exuded a sort of affinity.
Seeing him look at her, Liu Mo restrained her laughter and said seriously, “Thank you for just now, and you too.” She looked at Wen MingYi.
Wen MingYi was still in a chuunibyou phase and didn’t like accepting thanks from strangers, so he said, “I wasn’t helping you, this was only because I fell into Lu YunFei’s trap.”
Lu YunFei was very familiar with his chuunibyou phase and replied, “Yes yes yes, you’ve never done good deeds, but when you do, you do so anonymously and claim that you were tricked into it.”
“Shut up you,” Wen MingYi was embarrassed into anger, “You’re the only one with a mouth going blah blah blah like a little trumpet.”
Lu YunFei smiled at him, “You’re the only one with a stubborn mouth going quack quack quack# like a little duckling.”
Liu Mo hadn’t seen this sort of childish exchange in a long time. She wanted to laugh out loud, but managed to hold it in.
After Lu YunFei bantered with Wen MingYi, he looked at Liu Mo and said, “No need for thanks, I’m Bian JinYuan’s classmate and only helped in passing.”
“Then I’m glad to have borrowed Bian JinYuan’s luck,” Liu Mo smiled and said, “How about this, to thank you both, I’ll give each of you a loyalty card from this shop. Each card has about two hundred yuan, you can use it to buy whatever you want in this shop.”
“There’s no need,” Lu YunFei said, “it was an incidental situation.”
However Liu Mo insisted, and took the loyalty cards out from the cashier drawer to give them, “Take it, this is your reward for your good deeds.”
Lu YunFei saw that he wasn’t able to reject it and eventually accepted the card.
Wen MingYi used the card for what he had previously ordered straightaway.
“Are you able to finish them?” Liu Mo looked at the first row of cakes in the glass display numbering over ten slices.
Wen MingYi said determinedly, “If I can’t, then I’ll just finish eating them tomorrow.”
Liu Mo saw that his decision was made. She took the cakes out for him and got the staff to make him a cup of milk tea.
“Takeaway or dining in?” Liu Mo asked him.
Wen MingYi looked at Lu YunFei who was talking to Bian JinYuan nearby and said helplessly, “Dining in.”
From then till now, Lu YunFei didn’t seem to have the notion of leaving.
Of course Lu YunFei didn’t harbour any notion of leaving, that was because he was talking to Bian JinYuan.
“What was up with that group of people, they intentionally created trouble?”
“Mmm,” Bian JinYuan said, “Business at this shop is good. There’s another cake shop nearby that got jealous. They gave bad reviews for our shop in the past, and even threatened the lady boss to get her to move away. Lady boss didn’t agree to their demands, so things came to be like this.”
“So you usually work part-time here?” Lu YunFei observed the cake shop. The decor was a refreshing style and the lady boss looked kind, it was just that, “Your working environment doesn’t seem safe.”
“No need to worry,” Bian JinYuan didn’t think much of the furore earlier, “There’s me, so there won’t be much trouble.”
Lu YunFei was speechless, “You seem pretty confident in yourself.”
Bian JinYuan looked at him, “To be honest, if you weren’t here and it was just me alone, I probably would have been able to handle it, just that it would be slightly more troublesome and time consuming.”
“So what you’re trying to say is, I’m a dog trying to catch mice๑, a busybody?”
Bian JinYuan smiled, “I didn’t say that.”
Lu YunFei huffed, “Wasn’t this your meaning?”
Bian JinYuan heard him say that and thought about how he shouldn’t have said those words, so he asked, “Do you want to eat cake? My treat.”
Lu YunFei scrutinised him and thought internally, your family’s savings don’t even amount to ten thousand yuan, and when you get something nice you only think of your small aunt and didi. Now you want to treat me? Do you have that kind of extra cash lying around?
“No need, there are ten slices of cake waiting for me at Wen MingYi’s.”
“Then I’ll treat you to milk tea?”
“Are you Jay Chou? Wholeheartedly wanting to treat someone to milk tea❖.”
Bian JinYuan had no choice but to unleash his killer move, “Have you memorised your English vocabulary?”
Lu YunFei: !!!
Lu YunFei’s energy immediately deflated. Bian JinYuan calmly said: “Geographer.”
Lu YunFei: … I’m a Science student, why must I know what the English word for geographer is, I don’t even want to be a geographer!
Lu YunFei coughed, “Well then, I’m going to go check on Wen MingYi. He just had a fight with someone, he’s probably frightened to death.”
Hearing this, Bian JinYuan looked at Wen MingYi who was concentrating on eating cakes and drinking milk tea nearby, looking in a good mood. Frightened to death? Was he even related to those three words?
Lu YunFei took advantage of him not saying anything, and swiftly sneaked over to sit in front of Wen MingYi.
Wen MingYi had four slices of cake in front of him — he planned to have the other six slices for takeaway, “You’re done talking to Bian JinYuan?”
“We’ve temporarily stopped talking.”
“Temporarily?” Wen MingYi was confused.
Lu YunFei picked up an unused fork from the table and poked a piece of the black forest cake in front of Wen MingYi, “He brought up a dangerous topic, so I put a halt to the conversation.”
“Looks like the both of you get along well.”
“We’re okay,” Lu YunFei said. The main thing was that his relationship with Bian JinYuan was a bit complicated. They were deskmates, and he was even the Tmall Genie in Bian JinYuan’s house. It was a case of threads which couldn’t be cut and thoughts which couldn’t be untangled★.
“I think it’s more than that. He just smiled at you, and it’s my first time seeing him smile. If the girls at school were to see it, they’d go crazy.”
Lu YunFei thought about it, and decided not to tell him that Bian JinYuan had smiled at him a few times already. It wasn’t anything to boast about.
“Maybe it’s because he has a debt towards me,” he said, “it’s natural to be as warm as a spring breeze towards one’s benefactor.”
“The warmth of a spring breeze is nothing to be afraid of, but it’s the inexplicable spring breeze that incites the hearts of youths▼, that is to fear.”
Lu YunFei was speechless, “You’re the only one who knows how to sing huh, shut up you.”
He was just chatting with Wen MingYi when he suddenly felt that something was blocking the light beside him, and then he saw Bian JinYuan place a slice of black forest cake and a cup of milk tea in front of him.
Lu YunFei was surprised, “What is this about?”
Fuck!!! With what spare cash?!
“I don’t want it,” Lu YunFei rejected, and passed his loyalty card to Bian JinYuan, “Take it out of this card.”
“Just eat it,” Bian JinYuan said and headed back.
Lu YunFei pulled him back. Bian JinYuan was speechless, “If you’re going to be like that, then I won’t accept it the next time you try to treat me.”
At this claim, Lu YunFei helplessly released his grip and looked at him in annoyance.
Bian JinYuan thought that his angry face was quite cute, like a little frisky kitten which made people want to pinch it.
“Quickly eat,” he said gently, and walked back to the cashier.
Liu Mo saw him come back and looked at him while smiling ambiguously.
Bian JinYuan saw her expression and couldn’t be bothered to ask what that was about. He took out a sheet of paper from the drawer and started to write out the English words that the teacher wanted them to memorise.
Liu Mo saw him skiving in front of her and asked him, “What are you doing?”
“Liu jie you don’t need to care about this.”
“You’re skiving right now, and don’t even want me to be bothered about it.”
Bian JinYuan said levelly, “You said that when the shop’s not busy, we could play with our phones or watch a show to rest for a bit.”
Liu Mo saw his look of calm and unconcern, and thought about the scene that she witnessed earlier, “You’re very close to that classmate of yours?”
Bian JinYuan didn’t respond.
“Sigh,” Liu Mo sighed, “You’ve worked here for so long and I’ve never even seen you smile at all. I always thought that you’re cool and indifferent and don’t like smiling. Turns out not to be the case.”
Hearing this, Bian JinYuan’s pen halted.
Liu Mo patted him on the shoulder, “Fine, I’m going. Give me a call if anything crops up at the shop, and treat your classmate well.”
Bian JinYuan answered with an “Mmm”, and continued writing down words.
As Liu Mo left, she went over to Lu YunFei and Wen MingYi to say goodbye.
Lu YunFei asked her, “Liu jie you didn’t call the police? Is there no need to call the police?”
“There’s no need for now. If we report this to the police now, he’ll use the cake as an excuse to complain about us, and we won’t have any grounds to refute his claims. The police would only investigate our issues and won’t be of any use, so I won’t be calling the police at this time.”
“Alright then, Liu jie please look after your safety.”
“I will, don’t worry.”
Liu Mo said this and left.
Lu YunFei continued eating his slice of cake, but soon he spied Bian JinYuan walking towards him.
He looked at Bian JinYuan in uncertainty, what’s up this time?
Bian JinYuan also didn’t say much. As he approached closer, he placed the paper and pen in front of him. Lu YunFei looked at the two large words in black, Spelling Memorisation, and wanted to faint. He suddenly understood what the darkness in front of his eyes were, it was the dark fear that he held for English vocabulary!
“It’s only the first day of the holiday!!! Classmate Bian, teacher Bian, please let me enjoy this public holiday!”
“It’s already October, the new monthly exams are imminent.”
“But there’s also no need to work hard now right?”
“Those who don’t strive hard at the month’s head are filled with despair at the month’s end.”
Lu YunFei looked at him pitifully. Bian JinYuan said gently, “Behave. Properly memorise your spelling. Hand in your paper on your own after half an hour.”
On my own. Lu YunFei wanted to take the paper and flee.
He looked at the blank piece of paper in front of him, his brows furrowed.
Wen MingYi stretched his hands to shove the gel pen into his hand, and disloyally kicked him while he was down, “Teacher Bian is on vacation and still takes the trouble to look after your studies. Look, he’s even kindly provided a gel pen for you. I’ll keep the time, you better do your spelling memorisation properly, Fei.”
Lu YunFei: …
Wen MingYi cheekily waved his phone, “The time starts now, good luck!”
Lu YunFei: … This kind of fair weather friend, it’s better to just cut ties.
I’m so glad I spent December stockpiling chapters to post once a week! Now that school has started, I’ve been spending my transportation time catching up on readings instead of translating snippets. Still can’t believe I’ve got an essay due on day 8 of Chinese New Year… (´༎ຶོρ༎ຶོ`) Am eagerly waiting for this semester to be over already.
# This did not translate well. 嘴硬, zuǐ yìng (literally: stiff mouth) is used to describe someone who stubbornly refuses to admit that they’re wrong. The phrase is 死鸭子嘴硬 (literally: dead duck with a stiff beak), because you know, one is so stubborn that their mouth is hardened like a duck’s beak that remains hard even after it’s dead.
๑ The saying 狗拿耗子，多管闲事 is to describe someone who is meddlesome. This is because the dog’s job is to guard the door, while the cat’s job is to catch mice. Now that the dog wants to do the cat’s job, it’s just being a busybody.
❖ Jay Chou is a popular singer who got a bit of flak from his fans for drinking too much milk tea and not maintaining his body. Also, his 2019 music video prominently featured a milk tea shop: 說好不哭 (Won’t Cry) so I suppose there are two interpretations to this reference?
★ Lu YunFei’s phrase “剪不断理还乱”, comes from the poem《相见欢·无言独上西楼》(Joyful Encounter · Alone Up the Western Tower) by 李煜 (Lǐ Yù). Here’s a Wikipedia page on Li Yu and some translations of his poetry, this included. There’s a bunch of different English translations of this but my favourite translation is from Chinese Heritage Annual (I’ve bolded the phrase in question):
Silent and alone, I ascend the west cupola. The moon was like a golden hook.
In the quiet, empty inner courtyard, the coolness of early autumn enveloped the wútóng tree.
Scissors cannot cut this thing; unraveled, it joins again and clings. It is the sorrow of separation,
and none tastes to the heart like this.
This poem is representative of Li Yu’s poetry written at a period when he was taken prisoner, and he expressed his anguish at losing the country that he was ruling. He eventually died in imprisonment at age 41. Also I think I’ve spent more time researching for this footnote than the entire chapter translation so far.
▼ Wen MingYi quoted a song lyric from《明天會更好》(Tomorrow will be Better). I can’t believe I’m listening to it again since I was a kid! Much nostalgia. It’s a beautiful song. Here’s the original 1985 piece and here’s a recent cover with English translations.