After returning from the art exhibition, there was a subtle change in the interaction between Lu Ye and Qi Yanbai.
Previously, Qi Yanbai had been friendly towards Lu Ye, but they weren’t very close.
When they interacted, there was always a vague sense of politeness and distance.
However, after returning from the art exhibition, that unknown barrier seemed to have disappeared overnight.
Qi Yanbai seemed to have been opened up by that “date,” and the initially vague fondness gradually fermented into something more evident, becoming clearer.
Not only did Lu Ye notice this change, but even Lu Wenyu, who only occasionally came to pick up Lu Mingming, noticed some clues.
“This is a set of two, you can give one to Teacher Qi for me, as a thank you for taking care of Mingming,” Lu Wenyu handed the dried goods wrapped in oil paper to Lu Ye, explaining, “I’ve been busy lately, so I won’t be able to meet him separately.”
“No problem,” Lu Ye took the paper bag and carried it in his hand, saying, “I’ll let him know when I see him.”
“That’s good then,” Lu Wenyu nodded, then seemed to remember something and changed the subject, asking, “By the way, how are you two getting along now?”
“Pretty well,” Lu Ye asked, “Why do you ask?”
“Nothing, I just wanted to ask when you’re planning to make it official,” Lu Wenyu glanced at her wristwatch and said, “The year is almost over, and if we’re going to have a meal, I need to make a reservation early.”
“Having a meal? Can’t we do that anytime?” Lu Ye didn’t initially grasp Lu Wenyu’s meaning, but after thinking for a moment, he said, “How about next Sunday? I’m not on duty that day.”
“Who asked you about that?” Lu Wenyu clicked her tongue lightly and then got to the point, “I mean, your relationship with Teacher Qi.
When are you going to make it official?”
“Oh, you mean that,” Lu Ye finally understood Lu Wenyu’s meaning.
He smiled and shook his head, saying, “There’s no need to rush.
Teacher Qi hasn’t been in a romantic relationship before, so there are still a lot of things he doesn’t understand.”
“He doesn’t understand, and you don’t understand either?”
Lu Wenyu’s views on love were open-minded.
She followed the straightforward principle of “if you like someone, pursue them,” with a sense of living for the moment.
She didn’t care whether Lu Ye liked a man or a woman; she just wanted Lu Ye not to compromise himself.
“I see that he’s interested in you anyway, so why not just make it clear?” Lu Wenyu said.
Lu Ye chuckled and said, “Even you noticed this?”
“Even an idiot could see it,” Lu Wenyu scolded, “If he’s not interested in you, why would he bring you meals and help you pick up Mingming? He’s not that idle.”
In fact, even without Lu Wenyu saying it, Lu Ye could sense it himself.
The relationship between him and Qi Yanbai now seemed to be separated by a thin window of paper, looking vague and unclear.
But if one of them took a step forward, the fog could be cleared to reveal the truth.
However, for some reason, every time Lu Ye tried to take the initiative and break through this window paper, he would be interrupted by an inexplicable hesitation.
“Are you waiting for him to confess first?” Lu Wenyu knew Lu Ye well.
She knew that when it came to emotions, Lu Ye was straightforward and rarely indecisive.
She looked at Lu Ye with curiosity and asked, “Or is it that you don’t like him that much?”
“Of course not.” Lu Ye shook his head with a wry smile and interrupted her, “If I didn’t like him, why would I invite him to the art exhibition?”
Lu Ye knew very well that his feelings for Qi Yanbai weren’t just a passing fancy.
He wasn’t someone who was very emotionally sensitive, but he still felt anger and sympathy for Qi Yanbai’s neglected childhood.
Interest might be the source of shallow affection, but sympathy definitely wasn’t.
It was precisely because he cared about Qi Yanbai that he still harbored reservations about everything that had happened to him in the past.
Lu Wenyu nodded in agreement.
Although Lu Ye’s romantic experiences might not be extensive, he was someone who took emotions seriously.
He wouldn’t flirt with someone just because of a fleeting attraction.
“Then why are you waiting?” Lu Wenyu wondered.
Lu Ye didn’t know himself.
He wasn’t the type to play hard to get, nor did he care about being in a weaker position in a relationship.
He didn’t mind who confessed first.
But for some reason, this time he felt unusually cautious, as if something was hindering his steps, prompting him to “think it over” again.
Qi Yanbai was wonderful, really wonderful.
However, maybe the impulsive relationships Lu Ye had in the past had left an impact on him.
He always felt that something was missing between him and Qi Yanbai.
Perhaps it was an opportunity, or maybe it required a deeper understanding.
“I don’t know either,” Lu Ye said, “Let’s wait a bit longer.
After all, matters of the heart can’t be rushed.”
Recently, there were crackdowns on illegal activities in the city, and Lu Ye had night shifts.
So, after Lu Wenyu left, he headed straight back to the police station.
When he got to the office, it was the time for shift change in the evening.
The office was filled with the strong aroma of instant noodles.
Stepping into the room amidst the scent of spicy beef noodles, Lu Ye was about to greet his colleagues, but he heard a chorus of teasing voices coming from the room.
Lu Ye: “…”
After working together for so long, Lu Ye knew he didn’t possess that kind of charm.
In general, there was only one reason for this kind of teasing—without a doubt, he turned around and saw Qi Yanbai, who had just walked in from the visitor’s room.
He had a coat draped over his arm, a sports earphone hanging from his left ear, a volunteer badge hanging on his chest, and it swayed gently as he walked.
“Yanbai?” Lu Ye greeted him with a smile and asked, “Why did you suddenly come over today? Do you have another task to do?”
“Yep, the station called me and asked if I could help draw a sketch of a fraud suspect,” Qi Yanbai said, “I happened to be free, so I came to help—But now I’m done, I was just about to head home.”
“—It really was on your way,” someone in the office interjected, “On your way to deliver a loving dinner to a certain starving person.”
Since moving to the apartment across from Lu Ye, Qi Yanbai had noticeably improved Lu Ye’s quality of life.
The office used to be a group of people surviving on takeout and instant noodles, but with Lu Ye having someone cook for him, they directed a wave of resentment towards him.
Qi Yanbai blushed easily and didn’t quite know how to handle this kind of banter.
Hearing the comment, his words faltered for a moment, and a faint rosy hue spread to his ears.
Without hesitation, Lu Ye stretched his arm to shield him and stepped forward, blocking those gazes for him.
“Don’t get ahead of yourselves,” Lu Ye playfully scolded his colleagues.
His colleagues didn’t mean any harm with their comments.
Lu Ye exchanged a few witty remarks and soon returned his attention to the computer, continuing to enjoy his instant noodles.
Qi Yanbai quite enjoyed the feeling of Lu Ye protecting him and the slightly biased attention.
He gazed at Lu Ye’s back for a while until Lu Ye turned around, then he reluctantly tore his gaze away.
“It’s okay, they’re just joking,” Qi Yanbai intervened at the right moment to smooth things over.
Then he asked, “Are you on duty tonight?”
“Yeah, it’s an all-nighter,” Lu Ye replied, handing the paper bag in his hand to Qi Yanbai and saying, “My sister sent us some local products.
Take them home on your way, help yourself to whatever you want.”
Qi Yanbai accepted the bag and obediently nodded in acknowledgment.
“Then if there’s nothing else, I’ll head back,” Qi Yanbai said, “I have a class tomorrow morning.”
“Alright,” Lu Ye said, “be careful on the way back.
Send me a message when you get home.”
Qi Yanbai acknowledged and smiled at Lu Ye before politely saying goodbye to the others in the office and leaving.
As he reached the doorway, he was suddenly called back by Lu Ye.
Turning around to face him, he saw Lu Ye picking up something from his desk and curiously examining it.
“Yanbai,” Lu Ye asked, “Did you put this here? Is it an alarm clock?”
The alarm clock was finely crafted, with engraved half-open patterns on the front and back covers.
The delicate metal needles moved forward, emitting a ticking sound similar to a stopwatch, with the intricate gears neatly interlocking inside.
Qi Yanbai’s gaze lingered on it for a while, confirming that it was working perfectly, before smiling and nodding.
“Yes,” he said, “It’s a little gift.”
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