The noodle shop Qi Yanbai mentioned was located two streets behind the training center.
It would take about five or six minutes to walk there, but they had to cross two intersections.

Lu Mingming had short legs and struggled to keep up when walking.
Worried that she might be in danger if she walked slowly, Lu Ye bent down and lifted her up from the ground, holding her in his arms.

Although Lu Mingming usually liked to be lazy, today, with her favorite teacher accompanying her, she was a bit too excited.
She squirmed and resisted being carried, insisting on walking while holding Qi Yanbai’s hand.

Lu Ye furrowed his brows slightly, thinking of telling her to behave, but then Qi Yanbai chuckled softly and reached out to tug at his sleeve.

“Or should I carry her?” Qi Yanbai suggested,

“No need,” Lu Ye glanced at Qi Yanbai’s slim arms and truthfully said, “She’s heavy.
Holding her would make your hand sore.”

Lu Mingming couldn’t tolerate her little uncle “slandering” her like that.
Immediately, she became stubborn and was about to argue with him.
However, before she could, Lu Ye suddenly stopped in his tracks and extended his arm to block Qi Yanbai.

“Watch out for the cars,” Lu Ye said.

The layout of the new city district was well organized, with main roads connecting the blocks.
Although there were signs indicating reduced speed in front of the training center, due to the limited presence of nearby surveillance cameras, some drivers still sped recklessly without considering pedestrians.

A black private car whizzed past them, and only then did Qi Yanbai realize that he had been so focused on Lu Ye that he had failed to notice the oncoming traffic.
If Lu Ye hadn’t stopped him in time, he might have been hit.

“Thank you,” Qi Yanbai said.

Lu Ye reassured him that everything was fine, but he didn’t retract the hand that was still in front of Qi Yanbai.
It wasn’t until several cars had passed by that he turned his head slightly to glance at Qi Yanbai and advised him with an indifferent tone, “Be careful when crossing the road.
Look both ways.
There are many cars in the new district, and not all of them slow down for pedestrians.”


Qi Yanbai looked at Lu Ye’s hand that was blocking in front of him and then nodded slightly, acknowledging with an “mm.”

In just a short time, Qi Yanbai had already begun to grasp a bit of Lu Ye’s personality.
He was vigilant and sharp, always keenly aware of his surroundings even while engaged in conversation.
Moreover, compared to parents and colleagues at the training center, Lu Ye seemed to be more guarded toward strangers, not opening up to people easily.
He had a sense of etiquette in his speech and actions, yet he remained reserved.

However, this guarded nature wasn’t cold or unfriendly.
He still paid attention to everyone around him.
Even though Qi Yanbai had only met Lu Ye twice, when they crossed the street together, Lu Ye purposely walked on the side where the cars were coming from, as if he were prepared to prevent any potential danger.

Qi Yanbai thought to himself that Lu Ye was not easy to approach, but once you got to know him, he would be a great person.

Lu Mingming was initially startled by the speeding cars that passed by, but for the remaining half of their journey, she didn’t cause any trouble.
Instead, she obediently lay against Lu Ye, becoming a silent pendant, until they reached the restaurant and she regained some of her energy.

The restaurant Qi Yanbai chose wasn’t large, but it had a unique and neat interior.
Bright glass partitions separated the dining area from the kitchen, which could be seen from the entrance.

Lunchtime was already halfway over, and only a few scattered tables were occupied.
As Lu Ye entered the restaurant and looked around, he thought it seemed like a place Qi Yanbai would willingly choose.

“What flavor do you prefer?” Qi Yanbai walked over to Lu Ye and asked, “Their beef and seafood soups are both good.
The sour soup is also decent.
Take a look and decide which one you like.”


“Beef, then,” Lu Ye said.

Qi Yanbai made a mental note of his preference, then nodded and naturally said, “Alright, I’ll order.
You and Mingming can go sit down first.”

Lu Ye chose a vacant table and sat down, examining the conveniently placed menu.

There were many training institutions around, and consequently, there were quite a few small restaurants like this one.
Most of the customers who came here for lunch were teachers or office workers from nearby.
Qi Yanbai even recognized two of his colleagues, who greeted him warmly and invited him to share a table.

Qi Yanbai politely declined each invitation, a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by Lu Ye.
Qi Yanbai subtly gestured to Lu Ye and Lu Mingming at the table, indicating that he had plans.

The two young ladies nodded in understanding, then stepped aside to allow Qi Yanbai to proceed with ordering.

“You’re quite popular, Teacher Qi,” Lu Ye commented, finding it amusing as Qi Yanbai smiled, joining them at the table after placing their orders.
As they settled in, Qi Yanbai  picked up on the conversation topic naturally and said, “I wanted to thank you for last night.
I was ready to cooperate with the investigation, but thankfully, you cleared things up in time.”

As Lu Ye listened to Qi Yanbai, he absentmindedly watched him prepare their utensils.
He couldn’t help but think that Qi Yanbai was thorough in his preparations.

“It’s nothing.
We should be the ones apologizing,” Lu Ye said.
“Apologize for disturbing your peace that late in the night.”

Lu Mingming’s curiosity kicked in at the mention of last night.
She suddenly looked up and asked, “What happened, Uncle? Did you and Teacher Qi know each other before?”


“Children shouldn’t interrupt when adults are talking,” Lu Ye placed a piece of barbecued pork into her bowl, saying, “Eat your meal.”

“We’ve met before, but we’re not close.
We just got to know each other today,” Qi Yanbai patiently explained to Lu Mingming, then turned back and asked Lu Ye with some concern, “So, is there really… illegal activity happening near my place?”

Lu Ye thought it was quite amusing how delicately Qi Yanbai phrased things, either because he was unfamiliar with the dark side of society or because he was just trying to be considerate.

“Yes, there is,” Lu Ye said.
“The Twin Towers Apartments have a high flow of people, with all kinds of residents.
If your budget allows, it might be better to consider moving somewhere else.”

“Can you recommend any places, Officer Lu?” Qi Yanbai asked.

“I’m not too familiar with that, but aside from the Twin Towers Apartments, the other large residential areas in the new district are decent,” Lu Ye said.
“You can ask your colleagues in the area before making a decision.”

After a pause, he added, “and please call me by my name, not Officer Lu.
It’s a bit odd.”

Lu Ye felt like he was on duty even when he was eating.
It made him uncomfortable.

“Alright, then I’ll call you Brother Lu,” Qi Yanbai said casually.
“You’re a bit older than me, right?”

“thirty years old this year!” Lu Mingming jumped in to contribute, and his birthday is—”

“Lu Mingming—”

“That does make you a few years older than me,” Qi Yanbai interjected, trying to steer the conversation back on track.
“I’m twenty-five this year.”

As the were nearing the end of their meal and having disclosed their personal information, Qi Yanbai himself revealed his WeChat QR code, prompting Lu Ye to pull out his phone too and suggest, “Shall I add you?”

“Sure,” Qi Yanbai replied with a bit of nervousness, displaying the QR code for Lu Ye to scan.

However, for some reason, Lu Ye’s phone screen was either too dim or the sunlight was too bright, as it took some time for it to recognize the code.
Qi Yanbai instinctively moved a step forward, intending to adjust the angle for better visibility.


As he reached out, his fingertips accidentally brushed the inside of Lu Ye’s wrist, sending a chilly sensation that disappeared almost instantly, as light as a breeze.
By the time Lu Ye realized it, the touch was gone.

“Let me try again,” Qi Yanbai suggested.

Lu Ye, not particularly concerned about his phone’s contents, let go of it, handing it over to Qi Yanbai.

After adjusting the angle, the camera quickly captured the information, emitting a soft “ding” sound as it recognized the code.
Qi Yanbai was about to return the phone to Lu Ye after scanning it, but then he seemed to notice something else and held onto the phone.

“Sorry, I couldn’t scan it before,” Qi Yanbai said, scanning it again, then tapping the screen a couple of times before handing the phone back to Lu Ye.

Lu Ye glanced at the screen, and Qi Yanbai’s WeChat conversation had already appeared in his contact list.
The chat box was empty, with only a straightforward friend request message.

“Okay” Lu Ye said.
“If you hear any illegal activities in the area, please let me know, Teacher Qi.”

“No problem at all,” Qi Yanbai smiled and said, “Be careful on your way home.”

Lu Ye nodded, bent down to lift Lu Mingming, and turned to head toward the street.
They walked about twenty meters away, but Lu Ye felt a gaze still fixed on him from behind.
He turned his head and found that Qi Yanbai was standing in the same spot, hands in his pockets, not leaving.

 Qi Yanbai waved to him with a smile.

It was rare for Lu Ye to be seen off like this.
He nodded slightly and felt a subtle sense of contentment.

Lu Ye thought, it’s no wonder Lu Mingming likes him.
Qi Yanbai did have the ability to make people feel valued effortlessly.

Lu Ye was lost in thought, walking along in relative silence.
He saw Lu Mingming onto the bus that would take her home and then pulled out a cigarette.
Walking to a nearby open space, he dialed Lu Wenyu’s number.

“Mingming’s on the bus,” Lu Ye said.
“Remember to pick her up on the other end.”

“Got it.” A light female voice came from the other end of the line.
“Thanks for picking her up.”

“No problem,” Lu Ye licked his lips and said, “By the way, I met Mingming’s teacher—did you know him before?”

“I don’t know much, just that he’s a well-regarded teacher with a good reputation.
He’s skilled and has a good personality.
He’s patient with the kids,” Lu Wenyu said.
“Why do you ask? Is there something off about him?”

“Not really,” Lu Ye said.
“I just feel… Isn’t he too perfect?”

Lu Ye couldn’t quite explain his feeling.
Qi Yanbai was indeed good; he was gentle, attentive, patient, and kind to both students and colleagues.
On paper, he was a great person, but Lu Ye couldn’t shake off a vague unease, an intangible feeling that something was amiss.

“People have their moods, but it’s like there’s no negativity in him,” Lu Ye said.
“Whether he’s being innocently searched by the police or facing strangers he doesn’t know, he’s always so accommodating.
He seems too mild-mannered.”

“You are probably overthinking.
Besides, even if he had flaws, he wouldn’t show them to you.
Just because he’s a teacher doesn’t mean he can’t have other ways to relieve stress,” Lu Wenyu reassured him.
“Modern young people—who knows, maybe he practices pole dancing in his underwear when he’s alone at home.
How would you know?”

Lu Ye: “…”

Lu Ye felt like his eyes were on fire after that comment.
He instinctively covered his forehead and burst into laughter.

At the same time, the odd feeling he had about Qi Yanbai seemed to have dissipated after Lu Wenyu’s quirky diversion.
It vanished without a trace from his mind.

“Enough, sis,” Lu Ye said, still chuckling.
“I’m getting goosebumps from your words.”

“Also, don’t overcomplicate things.
It’s just a meal; maybe he’s genuinely interested in you,” Lu Wenyu continued, undeterred.
“Like love at first sight or something.”

“Stop making things up,” Lu Ye responded, a mix of amusement and exasperation in his voice.
“Is my sister implying that all men are gay?”

“Who knows,” Lu Wenyu said, unfazed, “Anyway, don’t let your professional skepticism get the best of you, Xiao Ye.
You’re used to seeing villains all day, so you think the world lacks good people.”

“You’re right,” Lu Ye pondered her words and concluded that she made a good point.
It was true that he often dealt with criminals, which might have skewed his perception of people.
He crushed the cigarette and said, “I was probably overthinking things.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Lu Wenyu advised.
“And remember, don’t expect everyone to be as bad as the ones you deal with all the time.
People can surprise you.”

“True,” Lu Ye said, “Thanks, sis.”

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