Lu Ye, Qi Yanbai savored the name in his mind.
With no more sounds, the corridor’s sound-controlled lights had mostly dimmed.
The distant corridor was pitch-black, with only the top light at the elevator door around the corner emitting a faint glow.
The old elevator moved up and down, occasionally sending distorted metallic noises echoing through the empty corridor.
Qi Yanbai stood at the doorway for a while, gazing in the direction Lu Ye had left, unsure of what he was thinking.
His mind seemed blank, yet something seemed to be silently taking root and sprouting, with tenacious and delicate roots growing deep within him, waiting for the moment they would break through the soil.
After a while, the last sound-controlled light in the corridor also went out due to the prolonged silence.
The light before Qi Yanbai vanished suddenly, and he seemed to break free from a statue-like state, looking down at his hands.
The wound on his hand was shallow and narrow, and it had stopped bleeding during this time.
However, after some thought, Qi Yanbai tore open the bandage Lu Ye had given him and carefully applied it to his wound.
Then he turned around, closed the door, walked back to the living room, turned on the lights, and casually placed the art knife from his pocket on the coffee table.
The painting still hung on the easel, but Qi Yanbai didn’t even spare it a glance.
He ripped apart the work he had been refining for half a month, throwing the pieces on the floor.
Then, he pinned a new blank sheet of paper onto the easel.
Suddenly, he felt an urge, urging him to do something to capture the complex and indescribable feeling in his heart at this moment.
So, Qi Yanbai took out a pencil from the pen holder and made the first stroke on the paper.
It had been five years, and he had been trapped in the phrase “too focused on craftsmanship, missing the essence” without being able to break free.
This phrase was like a curse, lurking in the deepest corners of his mind.
Every time he picked up a pen, this phrase emerged from the depths of his heart, infiltrating every nerve of his being.
As a result, Qi Yanbai hadn’t been able to smoothly and freely complete a piece of work for a long time.
He often stared at the canvas in a daze, even if he forced himself to put pen to paper, he always felt that there were flaws everywhere, making it unsatisfactory.
He had tried countless times to change the situation, but the more he tried, the stiffer his paintings became.
Eventually, the lines became chaotic, the colors became harsh, and even the initial sketches appeared tacky and worthless.
In the end, he could only teach at a training institution, guiding young children to draw apples and plaster blocks.
But strangely, that day Qi Yanbai had experienced a rare sense of smoothness while drawing.
The pencil’s tip made a scratching sound on the paper, and in just half an hour, he depicted a handsome man with distinct features on the blank sheet.
In the drawing, Lu Ye stood in the narrow corridor.
He paused his steps slightly, but didn’t turn around.
He merely looked back, and the bright highlight from above cast clear shadows on his side.
Though the drawing was only in black and white, every gesture and expression came to life.
Especially his eyes, brimming with enthusiasm.
When his gaze turned, it felt as if it could meet the eyes of the person in front through the thin paper.
Qi Yanbai’s hand moved tirelessly.
He rapidly completed the final stroke, then tossed the pencil aside and stepped back suddenly, taking a deep breath.
He finally felt a long-lost sense of liberation, as if the anxiety and restlessness pent up in his heart had found an outlet, rushing out like floodwaters, making him feel relaxed.
Qi Yanbai reached out and touched the sketch in front of him, his fingertips trembling uncontrollably.
So beautiful, Qi Yanbai thought.
It had been a while since he had last drawn with such ease.
It flowed naturally, completed in one go.
When he raised his pen, he didn’t even recall the expression that had troubled him for years.
He only remembered the gaze Lu Ye had turned back to give him in the corridor just now.
Qi Yanbai didn’t understand why he had such a strong impression of that side of Lu Ye’s face, nor did he understand.
But he didn’t dislike this sudden burst of excitement, and he didn’t mind being stirred by too much dangerous curiosity from a stranger.
Anyway, when coincidences piled up, they ceased to be coincidences.
Qi Yanbai thought that if Lu Ye appeared at this moment, it meant he was the one who had come to break him free from his situation.
It was a sign from above, a gift from destiny.
Meanwhile, downstairs in Building B of Twin Apartments, Lu Ye pressed the intercom button, about to speak, when he suddenly shivered without reason and let out a sneeze.
“What’s wrong?” Li Zhiwen, who was a step behind, chuckled.
“It’s not even cold yet, and you’re shivering?”
“I don’t know.” Lu Ye said in puzzlement.
“It just feels chilly on my back, like a bad omen.”
Experienced police officers often had an unusually keen intuition for danger.
Li Zhiwen’s expression changed upon hearing this, and he quickly said, “let’s hurry, tonight is busy enough as it is.
Don’t go looking for trouble.”
“That’s strange, I don’t sense it anymore.” The feeling from earlier disappeared as suddenly as it had come.
Lu Ye didn’t take it seriously.
He casually gestured toward a nearby police car and said, “Maybe it’s someone cursing me behind my back.”
After leaving Qi Yanbai’s place, Lu Ye had immediately headed to the neighboring building.
However, when he knocked on the door, he was met with smoke coming out of the apartment.
Seven or eight young men and women were tangled together, stark naked, rolling from the living room to the kitchen.
The scene was indescribable.
Lu Ye had been a cop for many years and had encountered countless indecent scenes, but he had almost been overwhelmed by the smell in the room, despite having experienced a thousand or more lewd scenarios.
Apart from engaging in prostitution, it appeared that these young people had also taken drugs.
Lu Ye and Li Zhiwen had urgently called for reinforcements from the local precinct.
It had taken a long time to wake them up one by one from their dazed state, get them to put on clothes, and then handcuff them into police cars.
As they came downstairs, the cold wind hit them, and their foggy minds cleared a bit.
They stopped being disoriented and began to wail and beg, clutching Lu Ye’s arm, trying to negotiate “another chance,” and pleading with him not to inform their families.
Lu Ye was used to such scenes.
He remained calm and unmoved.
He simply ripped one of the earrings off the ear of a young man who had six piercings in his ear and shoved him into the police car.
He sneered and said, “Now you want another chance, huh? Why didn’t you think of that when you were breaking the law? Engaging in these kinds of activities all day long, and now you’re embarrassed?”
The young people were all quite young.
The oldest among them appeared to be around twenty-five or twenty-six years old.
Lu Ye’s impression of them was far from favorable.
Thus, he slammed the car door shut, locking the howling demons inside the car.
“People are really different, aren’t they?” Li Zhiwen handed Lu Ye a cigarette with a wry smile.
“The homeowner in Building A looks about the same age as them.
Look at him, so well behaved and law-abiding.”
Upon mentioning Qi Yanbai, Lu Ye’s expression eased slightly.
He responded with an affirmative sound, taking the cigarette and saying, “Indeed, people like them are different.
He’s an art teacher.”
Lu Ye’s tone softened even further, and he took on a more relaxed demeanor.
He continued, “That’s why he looks so refined.
Art teachers are usually understanding.
So, the two of us probably won’t receive any complaints from him even though we invaded his house just now.”
Lu Ye suddenly recalled how Qi Yanbai had looked when he called out to him and asked for his name in the corridor earlier.
He stood within the boundaries of light and shadow at the doorway, appearing clean and delicate.
Lu Ye felt that Qi Yanbai might have had something else to say at that moment, but for some reason, he had refrained from speaking.
Putting out the cigarette, he crushed it into the trash can and turned to open the passenger door.
“Let’s head back.”
Before getting into the car, Lu Ye suddenly had a sense of something.
He looked back at the towering building in front of him and then sat down in the passenger seat, closing the car door smoothly.
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