As the year-end approached, Lu Ye’s work became busier.
Not only did he have to deal with the sudden increase in police cases, but he also had to handle various year-end summaries and job performance reports.

His frequency of going out increased suddenly, and his working hours seemed to stretch endlessly.
He would leave early and return late, spending his days immersed in the bureau, making him hard to reach.

The sub-bureau office was bustling with people coming and going every day.
The room was filled with the constant, chaotic noise of reports and summaries being flipped through, accompanied by the sound of hurried footsteps, making that small space particularly busy.

Lu Ye sighed as he buried himself in stacks of reports.
Listening to the ticking sound of the metal clock hand in his ears, he felt as if he had inexplicably entered into some kind of loop.
Every day, when he opened his eyes, he had to face a mountain of work.
Not to mention that his meal with Lu Wenyu was constantly postponed, even the chance to meet with Qi Yanbai, who lived across the hall, was rare and could only be squeezed into brief moments during the day.

During holidays, it entered a high-risk period.
The area around Training center was bustling with cars, people, and children.
Due to a past case of a child going missing, the municipal sub-bureau had to conduct safety awareness campaigns by going door-to-door in the streets and alleys before major holidays, reminding various training institutions to pay attention to safety issues.

Lu Ye had only returned recently and was not yet familiar with the work in this jurisdiction.
Li Zhiwen had the intention of making him move around more, so he simply handed over the patrol and publicity work to their team.

“If Team 2 has nothing to do this afternoon, remember to make a round in the West District,” Li Zhiwen tapped Lu Ye’s desk and instructed, “Training center street is also about to go on holiday.
Make sure to distribute the child safety notices to them.”

Upon hearing this, Lu Ye lifted his head from a stack of reports.
Feeling dizzy, he pinched his nose bridge and asked, “Is it time for the holidays already? Aren’t there still ten days left?”

“We are preventing problems before they occur,” Li Zhiwen opened his thermos, took a sip of steaming tea, and let out a satisfied sigh, adding, “Besides, you’re familiar with that area—you can ask Teacher Qi for help to notify the surrounding businesses.”

“Why is it always me?” Lu Ye immediately smiled playfully and teased, “boss, don’t you have his phone number?”

“Do you think me asking him is the same as you doing it??” Li Zhiwen gave him a slightly annoyed look.

Li Zhiwen, the old fox, knew quite well how to “make the most of what you have.” Qi Yanbai was a social volunteer, and Li Zhiwen felt embarrassed to trouble him repeatedly, so he just handed this task to Lu Ye every time.
Qi Yanbai seemed to accept it readily.
No matter the task, as long as Lu Ye asked, he almost always agreed.
When he had time, he would help, and even if he was busy, he would make time to assist.


However, Qi Yanbai was easy to persuade and talk to, but Lu Ye was not.
He obviously didn’t plan to “stoop to that level” with Li Zhiwen.
Hearing this, he raised an eyebrow and lightly tapped the tabletop with a suggestive look.

“You can’t always take advantage of him like that, boss.” Lu Ye smiled, then flicked his fingertip and continued, “Teacher Qi also has his own job.”

Li Zhiwen thought that this brat was starting to be crafty even before he had achieved anything substantial.
He rolled his eyes at him and compromised, “Fine, fine.
During the end-of-year evaluations, I’ll apply for an Outstanding Volunteer award for him.
Is that better?”

Lu Ye chuckled and gave Li Zhiwen two thumbs up, indicating that that was okay.
He finally stood up contentedly, stretched lazily in place, picked up his duty coat, and headed to the Training center .

At precisely three o’clock in the afternoon, it was class time.
The first-floor lobby of the training center was quiet, with only a few parents inquiring about courses here and there.

The training center where Qi Yanbai worked had a later holiday break, so it was a key unit for safety promotion.
Lu Ye often had to come by and distribute safety brochures.
Even the receptionist recognized him now.

Qi Yanbai would be at the school whenever he had classes.
But no matter when Lu Ye came, he would always run into Qi Yanbai.
Two out of three times, Qi Yanbai was the one who received him.
The remaining one time was because Qi Yanbai was in class and couldn’t spare a moment to talk.

When Lu Ye entered, the receptionist glanced up and recognized him.
Seeing that he had arrived, she first sent a message to Qi Yanbai as usual and then greeted Lu Ye, smiling, “Teacher Qi is still upstairs.
He just finished class and should be down in a while.”


“Alright, no rush.” Lu Ye placed the stack of brochures he was carrying on the reception desk and instructed, “These are this year’s safety notices.
Since the New Year is approaching, emphasize safety issues and promote safety knowledge to parents when they drop off or pick up their children from school.”

The businesses close to the Training center often received such notices.
Hearing this, the receptionist peeked at them and then efficiently organized the brochures, replacing the promotional advertisements on the reception desk.

She was skilled at it, and it took only two or three minutes to organize the brochures, which should have been enough time for Qi Yanbai to come downstairs.
However, Lu Ye had waited outside for a while and still hadn’t seen any sign of Qi Yanbai.

“Is Teacher Qi busy with something else today?” Lu Ye couldn’t help but ask.

Lu Ye had been busy with work during this period, leaving early and returning late, so he rarely went home.
He occasionally stopped by the training center and exchanged a few words with Qi Yanbai.
Qi Yanbai was aware of his busy schedule, so except when he was teaching, he almost never asked Lu Ye to wait.

The receptionist seemed a bit puzzled too.
She looked up at the stairs and mumbled, “No, he should have finished class and come down.”

She scratched her head somewhat embarrassedly, took out her phone from under the counter, and asked, “How about I call him to ask?”

“No need.” Lu Ye stopped her and said, “I’ll go up myself and talk to him about some work matters.
Then I’ll leave.”

He had visited a few times and knew where Qi Yanbai’s office was.
He went up the stairs, bypassed the classrooms that were still in session, and arrived at the door of Qi Yanbai’s office.
He noticed that the door was slightly open, and besides Qi Yanbai, there was also a very unfamiliar young girl inside.

“… I hope you’ll consider it.”


The young girl stood opposite Qi Yanbai, smiling brightly.
She appeared lively and open.
Holding a pale pink envelope in her hands, she extended it toward Qi Yanbai and said generously, “Teacher Qi, I’m serious.
I really like you—although I don’t know what kind of girl you like, if you don’t have a girlfriend, would you like to give it a try and spend some time with me?”

Lu Ye: “…”

Lu Ye didn’t expect to encounter such a scene when he came in.
He suddenly felt like he was caught between staying and leaving.
He didn’t want to invade Qi Yanbai’s privacy and intended to avoid the confession scene.
However, for some reason, his feet seemed rooted to the spot, and he couldn’t take a step back.

His gaze fell on the thin pink envelope in the girl’s hand.
Suddenly, a subtle unease surged from the depths of his heart.
It wasn’t intense, but rather a persistent, nagging feeling.

Fortunately, Qi Yanbai’s response was swift.
Although he seemed momentarily stunned, he quickly regained his composure.
He smiled politely at the girl and politely declined her advances.

“Sorry.” Qi Yanbai’s voice was quite pleasant, combining gentleness with a touch of unyielding determination.
“I can’t accept your affection, I’m sorry.”

Lu Ye’s feeling of restlessness and awkwardness was largely assuaged by this response.
However, he immediately heard the girl’s inquisitive follow-up question, “Why not? Do you already have someone you like?”

Unfortunately, Qi Yanbai’s answer didn’t give Lu Ye the closure he hoped for.
He didn’t directly address the question; instead, he simply smiled faintly and said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t answer that question.
However, love itself shouldn’t come from compromise.
You deserve someone better than me.”

The girl wasn’t insistent.
Seeing Qi Yanbai’s firm attitude, she simply nodded with regret and said a quick goodbye.

Qi Yanbai smiled at her, walked over to open the door for her, and was surprised to find Lu Ye outside.
He hesitated for a moment, almost unable to react.

The girl didn’t seem to notice Lu Ye outside.
When she saw him, her face immediately turned red, and she didn’t even have the courage to say goodbye to Qi Yanbai.
She quickly slipped between the two of them, and as she dashed down the corridor, she was already far away.

“Lu Ye?” Qi Yanbai didn’t know how long he had been standing outside, and his gaze unintentionally drifted to the end of the corridor.
Then he shifted his focus back to Lu Ye and asked, “When did you arrive?”

“It’s been a while.” Lu Ye crossed his arms, not entering the room but leaning against the door frame.
He smiled at Qi Yanbai and said, “I saw you had a guest, so I didn’t dare to knock.”

He smiled and his expression didn’t show any difference.
However, Qi Yanbai sensed a coolness in his tone, making it sound somewhat awkward.

Qi Yanbai caught onto this subtle anomaly effortlessly, and he couldn’t help but give Lu Ye a curious look.


“Lu Ye, are you in a bad mood today?” Qi Yanbai asked.

Lu Ye: “…”

Lu Ye continued to lean against the door frame, his lips curved into a smile, but there was a hint of bitterness in his smile.
“No, I’m not in a bad mood.
Just a bit surprised.”

Qi Yanbai seemed to understand, but he didn’t press further.
Instead, he simply nodded and smiled back.
“I see.
Well, what brings you here?”

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