Lu Ye’s well-prepared art exhibition was taking place in the downtown area for half a month, and this weekend happened to be the last two days.
On Sunday afternoon, Lu Ye arrived at the training center on time to pick up Qi Yanbai as he finished work.
Since the entrance of the training center was crowded with parents picking up their children, Lu Ye didn’t get too close.
He stood across the street and sent a WeChat message to Qi Yanbai, letting him know that he had arrived.
“Got it, walk to your right.” Qi Yanbai quickly replied, “Go around from the intersection, I’ll be waiting for you at the back door.”
Although Lu Ye had picked up Lu Mingming many times before, it was the first time he learned about the back door of the training center.
He raised an eyebrow, put away his phone, and followed Qi Yanbai’s directions, taking a winding path around a couple of small Western-style houses and arriving at the back of the training center.
Qi Yanbai was already waiting in the small open space there.
Probably due to their plans to go out to see the exhibition, he wasn’t dressed too flashy but rather refined.
He wore a light beige coat with a dark turtleneck cashmere sweater underneath.
He had a long and delicate gold chain loosely hanging around his neck, with its length just a bit higher than the V-neck of his coat, adding a touch of brilliance against the dark inner lining and making him look extremely eye-catching.
He had a knack for these little details in his outfits.
The subtle accessories not only highlighted Qi Yanbai’s presence but also didn’t steal the spotlight.
Instead, they adorned him with an air of luxury.
Lu Ye didn’t often see him dressed up like this, but every time he did, he couldn’t help but be impressed.
Men were visual creatures after all, and even the most upright individuals couldn’t help but be drawn to beautiful things.
Lu Ye’s gaze lingered on Qi Yanbai for quite a while before he walked over and greeted him with a smile.
“You’re taught in this attire today?” Lu Ye raised an eyebrow and asked, “Didn’t your colleagues and students ask you about it?”
“They did,” Qi Yanbai pursed his lips and smiled helplessly, saying, “The kids asked me if I was going on a date.”
Lu Ye chuckled and playfully teased, “And then, how did you respond?”
Qi Yanbai lifted his head, meeting Lu Ye’s gaze directly.
He blinked his eyes gently and said, “I said yes.”
His gaze was clear and candid, and the words he spoke held a subtle undertone.
It made Lu Ye’s heart flutter, as if a kitten had scratched it, leaving a faint tickle.
Qi Yanbai always seemed to be like this, Lu Ye thought.
He would occasionally display ambiguous attitudes, but they were always straight forward at the same time.
It was as if he didn’t even realize the subtle nature of his responses.
He seemed to be unconsciously getting closer to Lu Ye, interacting with him in a way that went beyond the boundaries of ordinary friendship.
But at the same time, it was as if all of this was a result of the blurred social boundaries that Qi Yanbai unintentionally created, rather than something that escalated to the level of “romance.”
If it were anyone else, they might have been annoyed by his ambiguous attitude.
But after spending this time with Qi Yanbai, Lu Ye had come to understand him to some extent.
He could tell that Qi Yanbai wasn’t someone who showered everyone with excessive friendliness; his level of dedication and care towards Lu Ye exceeded the polite boundaries he had with others.
While Lu Ye found it hard to believe that Qi Yanbai had no interest in him whatsoever, the challenge was that this fondness was too difficult to grasp.
Perhaps even Qi Yanbai himself hadn’t realized it, so while he unknowingly blurred the lines of interaction with Lu Ye, he remained completely oblivious to it all.
This kind of ambiguity somewhat hindered their mutual understanding, and everything that was silently fermenting seemed to be trapped behind a fragile window paper, visible but just out of reach.
“Well, if you say so.” Lu Ye chuckled and extended his hand toward Qi Yanbai, gesturing for them to move forward.
“Shall we head over now? We might still make it for dinner in the city.”
This joint art exhibition covered the whole venue, with different exhibition areas divided into three sections according to various art forms.
Lu Wenyu was quite well-off and had provided Lu Ye with VIP tickets for the exhibition, which were usually given to high-level clients.
These tickets allowed them to bypass the lines for the installation art area and even have a personal guide for the exhibition.
However, Lu Ye declined this additional service.
He already had a live expert with him, and he felt like they didn’t need anyone to explain things.
“I’m really clueless about these things.” Lu Ye said with a smile.
“It’s up to you, Teacher Qi.
You decide where to go.”
Lu Ye didn’t have specific preferences for the exhibition route.
He had invited Qi Yanbai to the art exhibition, hoping to cater to his preferences.
Since this was a public exhibition, the larger halls near the entrance were arranged quite conservatively, featuring replicas of famous paintings to help visitors quickly immerse themselves in the exhibition atmosphere.
Qi Yanbai accompanied Lu Ye, explaining the stories behind the artworks even before they reached the authentic pieces.
“‘Salome,’ an illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for the play of the same name.” Qi Yanbai stopped in front of a black-and-white abstract painting and explained to Lu Ye, “The female in the painting couldn’t capture the attention of a saint and, out of love turned to hatred, she demanded his head.”
The characters in the painting were grotesque and bizarre.
The young girl, contorted by the brushstrokes, appeared deranged and obsessed.
She looked down with almost mad devotion, cradling the snake-like head in her hands and bowing her head committedly, offering a sincere kiss to the lifeless object before her.
Lu Ye, a straightforward police officer, couldn’t appreciate this somber and sad artistic form.
He frowned slightly and found his molars aching.
“Why bother?” Lu Ye said with a quirky expression.
“If she loved him, should she really have decapitated him? It’s unreasonable.”
“In the realm of art, love itself is twisted, exaggerated, and bizarre,” Qi Yanbai replied, perceiving Lu Ye’s discomfort.
He took a step and walked with him to the next exhibit.
At the same time, the topic stemming from the painting continued.
“For some artists, love represents extremes,” Qi Yanbai continued, “After all, it can encompass almost any emotion—whether it’s good or bad, bright and sunny, or terrifyingly strange.
Love can be used to express almost anything.”
Perhaps Qi Yanbai was so detached from the concept of “love” most of the time that when he brought up this topic, it felt oddly fresh to Lu Ye.
He was genuinely interested in hearing more similar insights from Qi Yanbai, but the conversation unexpectedly shifted, and Qi Yanbai redirected the topic to Lu Ye.
“Lu Ye, what do you think?” Qi Yanbai asked, “In your heart, what should love be?”
“Me? I don’t have much of a perception of love.” Lu Ye said, “I just feel that emotions like this should be pure, clean, It’s better not to mix in all sorts of messy stuff.
That only makes people annoyed.”
As he spoke, he subconsciously furrowed his brows a little.
Qi Yanbai observed this subtle change in his expression and seemed to recognize something from it.
Just in that instant, Lu Ye must have recalled some unpleasant memories, otherwise, he wouldn’t have displayed that expression.
This realization stirred an unexpected dissatisfaction in Qi Yanbai’s heart.
His brow furrowed slightly, and he cautiously probed, “By the way, Lu Ye… have you been in love before?”
Qi Yanbai’s probe wasn’t particularly sophisticated, but Lu Ye detected a strange attitude shift in the abrupt transition away from the topic.
He first looked at Qi Yanbai in surprise and then, with a sudden thought, burst into laughter.
“That I have.” Lu Ye admitted straightforwardly, ” about two times.”
Qi Yanbai: “…”
Being in his thirties, it wasn’t realistic for Lu Ye to have a completely blank emotional life.
But even though Qi Yanbai had already guessed his response, he inexplicably felt a small flame of jealousy in his heart, making it burn hotly.
“The first one lasted a day and a half.” Lu Ye unconsciously reached into his pocket to take out a pack of cigarettes, but then remembered that they were in a closed public space.
He improvised a move, slipping his hand back into his pocket.
“Actually, it wasn’t much of a relationship.
We were just fooling around, like kids—confirmed our relationship in the morning, and by the evening, I found out he was juggling multiple partners.” Lu Ye said, “So, we broke up.”
Qi Yanbai: “…”
“What about the second one?” Qi Yanbai asked with a curious expression.
“The second one lasted a bit longer, about a week.” Lu Ye said, “Then I found out that the other person was both in a relationship and trying to scam a marriage proposal at the same time.
So, I gave him a beating, blocked him, and broke up.”
Qi Yanbai: “…”
Lu Ye chuckled and pointed to his eyes, saying, “Being a cop, sometimes you can’t afford to not know things.”
By the end of Lu Ye’s recounting, even that last tiny spark of jealousy in Qi Yanbai’s heart had been thoroughly extinguished.
He unconsciously let out a relieved sigh, and a small smile tugged at the corners of his lips.
“So, I’ve learned from my mistakes.
I hate it most when people lie to me.” Lu Ye paused for a moment and then turned to look at Qi Yanbai, smiling as he said, “… You must never lie to me.”
His tone was light, as if he had casually mentioned it, but there seemed to be something more behind his words.
Qi Yanbai listened to them and felt a flutter in his heart, a faint sheen of sweat appearing on his palm.
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