Easily Set Aflame Chapter 6 Part2

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Happy Lantern Festival! (Right on time for those in time zones similar to my N. American one, and slightly belated for those an ocean apart from me.) And joining in to wish Fanatical a happy 6th birthday! Thank you, readers!

Some things are just fated to be. All coincidences and accidents are just working to bring them together, right? Haha, a little cliffhanger. (P.S. Highly recommended that you play the video. The music really sets the mood, and you can see why Jia He reacts as she did.)

Chapter 6.2 — Development Period While Staying in Shanghai (2)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

The car turned at an intersection and drove onto West Nanjing Road[1].

Jia He replied with an "oh" and then did not speak anymore, merely turning her head to look out the window.

"How did you meet Ze?" Wu Zhilun inquired, out of the blue.

She answered honestly, "I'm one of the screenwriters for this current drama of his."

"Screenwriter?" Tapping his index finger rhythmically against the steering wheel, he asked nonchalantly, "You guys haven't known each other for very long?"

Jia He uttered an "mm-hmm," saying, "Almost two months."

He gave a little chuckle that carried certain feelings difficult to discern.

When they arrived at Qiao Qiao's home, they both purposely stayed downstairs for a while until they had verified that it was safe. Then, they got out of the car separately. Jia He went ahead of him and pressed the elevator b.u.t.ton. After some time had pa.s.sed, Wu Zhilun, his face concealed by his hoodie, his hands in his pockets, ambled over to the elevator with the suspicious gaze of this apartment building's security guard on him, and winked at Jia He.

That expression was exactly the same as that suavely romantic, handsome bukuai[2] [constable] in last year's lineup of New Year's movies.

Jia He suddenly remembered that back during their university days, when they were chatting in bed, Qiao Qiao had extensively praised the veiled gay film that Wu Zhilun had acted in. "I think my friend has always rather liked you."

Smiling, Wu Zhilun was about to say something, but a ding had already resounded from the elevator, and its two doors slid open.

However, before the two of them could step out, someone had already darted inside. At the same time, a woman's hand held the elevator door open. "All I said was that my friend is coming here to stay. Do you really have to have such a reaction? You're leaving just because of that?" Qiao Qiao's unadorned face was extremely pale with rage, and it was not until she had fired out all of these words that she noticed Jia He and Wu Zhilun.

Jia He, gnawing on her lip, looked at her, then at that ba.s.s-playing talent. Now this was just melodramatically cheesy.

Qiao Qiao's gaze halted on Wu Zhilun's face for three seconds. Then, immediately loosening the hold of her hand, she beamed and said to the ba.s.s-playing talent, "Goodbye."

From flying off in extreme fury to a polite bidding of farewell, the transition had been flawless.

<>The actual site of posting for this translation is at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Please support the translation by reading it there instead.

And so, that elevator carried away the O great ba.s.s-playing talent, whose face was dark with surliness, and left the other three people there, smiling at one another. Before Jia He could make the introductions, Qiao Qiao, showing her good breeding, had already extended her arm out. "h.e.l.lo, I'm Qiao Qiao."

Wu Zhilun was all gentleman as well. "h.e.l.lo. Wu Zhilun."

Qiao Qiao smiled lightly and gave a nod. "I'm sorry. You two should have called before you arrived, so I could go down to meet the two of you."

Wu Zhilun shrugged. "It's no big deal. I'm just here to drop Jia He off. I'm leaving right away."

Qiao Qiao was surprised. "You're not going to come in and sit for a bit?"

If it were not so chilly in this corridor, if Qiao Qiao were not wearing her home loungewear, Jia He honestly would have suspected she was actually at some sort of high-cla.s.s c.o.c.ktail party. On and on they exchanged social niceties, from expressing how they had hoped for a long time already that they could collaborate, all the way to discussing the box-office reception of the Valentine's Day films. The final outcome was that Wu Zhilun was unable to turn down this warm-hearted hospitality and followed the two of them to the door of the apartment. There, he watched Qiao Qiao stare at her own tightly-closed door, having completely lost her ability of speech.

… She had actually, dressed like this, in slippers and pajamas, locked herself out of her own home.

"How about…"—Jia He wanted to just slam her head into something and die—"we go to my home?"

If she had known, she would not have bothered with all the trouble. This was practically the great migration of the century. Originally, this was a traffic accident that affected only her. Somehow, Wu Zhilun had been pulled in to become her driver, and now she had spread the trouble onto Qiao Qiao by causing her to be locked out of her home.

Wu Zhilun was actually very calm. Glancing first at that locked door and then at Jia He, who was completely soaked, and Qiao Qiao, whose feet were clad in slippers, he decisively strode over to the other side of the corridor and, with a grin, dialed a number. Needless to say, the one he was calling undoubtedly was Yi Wenze.

"He's gorgeous in real life." Qiao Qiao was still in the mood to sigh over a handsome fellow.

Jia He did not know if she should find this annoying or amusing. "And here I thought you didn't feel anything."

Qiao Qiao gave her a sideways look. "I'm very professional, okay? Face to face with him, of course I need to put on a good front that makes me seem like a normal human being."

Not bothering to even mock her, Jia He said quickly, "In just a bit, you drive. We'll go to my place?"

Qiao Qiao moved her lips to point them at that backside. "What about him?"

"He's going back, of course."

Jia He had not thought at all that when her plan, which she believed to be a matter of course, was switched over to come from Wu Zhilun's lips, it would become something that was absolutely out of the question. She had only just reiterated her request for Qiao Qiao to drive her to her home and then immediately Wu Zhilun was stating that, with the way the two of them were and also how they looked now, they would definitely be unsafe on the roads. While Jia He was trying to come up with a counteraction, Qiao Qiao actually began adding fuel to the fire, saying things such as, there was a lot of crime in the neighbourhood where Jia He lived, her own parents were in Hangzhou tonight so she had no key, etc.

And so, with these two going back and forth, one person speaking and the other echoing the same tune, the final decision was that they would collectively head over to Yi Wenze's home.

The entire way, the two people in the front seats conversed quite cheerily. When they pa.s.sed the Yangpu Bridge, Qiao Qiao even pointed into the distance at the site of the 2010 World Expo and, in a manner of seriousness, explained the munic.i.p.al government's future plans for it. Wu Zhilun was also listening with interest. Qiao Qiao's spoken Cantonese had always been quite good, and now this was a time in which that skill could be exhibited. Absent-mindedly, Jia He listened to them, but it was only when she heard Tian Chu's song on the charts that she showed any sort of different reaction.

Yangpu Bridge in Shanghai (image credit: Pixabay)

"Have you heard this song?" Wu Zhilun looked at Jia He from the rearview mirror.

Jia He shook her head. "A new song?"

"It actually isn't. It was written two years ago."

Jia He gave an "oh."

"Ze composed the song, I wrote the lyrics."

Seeing that he was still looking at her, Jia He could only nod her head. What was surprising was that he did not continue speaking.

The length after length of steel cables on the bridge spanned between the lights, and though they emitted no illumination themselves, they could still be clearly seen.

This weird atmosphere caused Qiao Qiao to cease talking as well.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

Pudong district's roads are very wide, as if it and the other side of the river are two different cities[3].  They drove for some period of time before turning into a neighbourhood of community compounds. As they drove along here, following the water's sh.o.r.e, it was quite a bit more tranquil.

The three of them got out of the car and, with Wu Zhilun in the lead, went into the house. He showed no unnecessary politeness and, immediately after stepping through the door, instructed his a.s.sistant to lay out the mahjong table. In fact, it was that young boy, when he noticed Jia He with her sodden hair and Qiao Qiao wearing her slippers, who could not quite process the situation. Likely, no one would have expected that there would be women in the world who would show up in this type of place with such appearances… In the spill of the entryway's wall light, Jia He stood in embarra.s.sment, and only when Qing took her arm and quietly asked her whether she needed a shower and a change of clothing was she finally able to escape from there.

She used the downstairs bathroom. Warm water. Steam suffusing everywhere.

Only halfway through her shower, she could already faintly hear the sound of shuffling mahjong tiles outside. She had originally worried that she was overstepping her bounds, actually coming to her idol's home to freeload a place to stay, but from the looks of things now, she was obviously the one showing the most restraint. She swiftly finished up her shower and slipped on Qing's sweatsuit. While she was wondering how she could dry her hair, someone was already knocking on the door.

Qing poked her head in and handed a hair dryer in to her.

Jia He looked at her in surprise but still said thank you.

Qing smiled. "You do need to give me a good thank you. I have short hair and never use a hair dryer. This, I went out and bought just now."

Feeling even more apologetic, Jia He at once expressed a couple more thank yous.

Qing hastily wagged her hand. "I just said that for fun. Don't thank me; it was Teacher Yi who told me to go out and buy it—" Before she could finish what she was going to say, Wu Zhilun had already ahemmed a couple of times from where he was, meaning that she should hurry back so they could continue.

Taking the hair dryer from her, Jia He shut the door and plugged it into the power outlet. Instantly, the whole bathroom was filled with a humming sound.

The bathroom had one entire wall that was a mirror, now coated with a thick layer of condensation. As she blew her hair, she reached out a hand and wiped a small section dry, revealing the reflection of her face, ruddied by the heat. This all felt unreal.

A simple hot shower. A boisterous mahjong battlefield. This felt like an ordinary gathering of friends. But the location was just too dumbfounding.

She gave a few pats to her face and squeezed out a slightly more natural-looking smile before tidying up everything and walking out of the bathroom.

The living room downstairs had become a mahjong and chess room.

Wu Zhilun deliberately gave a little reminder. "Ze is upstairs."

Going along with his words[4], Qiao Qiao said, "Friend Jia He, could I trouble you to please go upstairs and say a thank you for me? And say that next time I'll treat everyone to dinner."

Qing immediately added, "Screenwriter, Teacher Yi still hasn't gone to bed yet."

Only Wu Zhilun's a.s.sistant did not say anything, evidently having suffered a blow from his mahjong hand and not even willing to give any attention to anything else.

In this brightly illuminated living room, against the liveliness of the mahjong game, just like that, she had become the target that everyone was evicting.

Feeling sullen for a while, Jia He dawdlingly watched some mahjong. No one paid any attention to her. Fine. Since she had come here, no matter what, she should say hi to the master of the place. Giving herself a shot of courage, she rose and headed upstairs.

<>It would be sincerely appreciated if you would support this translation by reading it at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Thank you for your consideration. 

The flooring was hardwood, and as her soft slippers walked up the stairs, not a sound was made. However, this served only to make the s.p.a.ce seem more stifling.

Fortunately, the layout of the second floor was open and airy. Only one room's door was half-closed, and Yi Wenze's voice could faintly be heard coming from it, eliminating the awkwardness she would have felt if she needed to search for him. As she stood in front of the door, her position happened to offer views of the balcony outside. The rain had not slackened.

She knocked on the door and greeted, "Teacher Yi."

Yi Wenze seemed to be on the phone, and after stating, "Come in," he immediately carried on speaking in low tones to the person on the other end.

After a moment's hesitation, she pushed open the door.

In that s.p.a.cious study, the several wall lights were all turned on, and the entire room was bright. Half of the wall to the right was covered by a bookcase while shelves of CDs filled the other half.  He was sitting next to the balcony, his body sunken into a black couch, and as his fingers ma.s.saged between his brows, he lifted his head and glanced at Jia He.

At this moment, the music jumped to the song "Forever," and the low voice of the lead singer pervaded into every alcove of the study.

"Tian Chu," Yi Wenze all of a sudden said into the phone, "My new song is not very suitable for you. Of course, this is just my opinion. If you insist that you want it, you can discuss it with Mai Jie. There's no need to specially make a call to me." After saying this, he listened wordlessly again for a while, still ma.s.saging between his brows. A tinge of resignation had been added to his expression. "I've already said what I should say. I still have guests here, so I can't talk anymore."

In awkwardness, Jia He sat on a separate single sofa chair, concentrating on listening to that song, trying to distract herself from everything else.

When Yi Wenze had at last hung up the phone, she smiled and asked, "Do you like Stratovarius a lot?"

She had racked her brain for a long time before she had come up with this topic to divert their attention.

"I started listening to their music really early on, and gradually it became a habit." Setting his mobile phone on the coffee table, he picked up a tea pot and poured a cup of tea for Jia He. "Finland is a place with a dreary climate, but it is also that type of atmosphere that created such pure, unadulterated metal music."

Jia He inquired, "You've been to Finland before?"

Yi Wenze nodded.

Jia He broke out in a slight awkward sweat. "The suicide rate there is really high."

He was quiet for a moment. "Yes. Usually, the highest incidence is in the springtime, because the winters are so hard to get through. After that long wait, many people develop deep depression."

It seemed… there was something kind of wrong with this topic.

Jia He thought about the phone call that he had just ended and also this dialogue right now. Amid such bleak, despairing background music, a not-so-good feeling all of a sudden arose in her.

Clutching her teacup, she was silent for a long time. "Actually, being betrayed is not such a big deal. I've been through it, too." Of course, hers could not compare with divorce, but with the s...o...b..z circle being so open and non-conservative, likely the natures of the two matters were about the same.

Yi Wenze's brows lifted slightly. "Editor-In-Chief Gu?"

Jia He looked down at her teacup. "Mm-hmm."

This was honestly a case of sacrificing herself to console her idol. Her intention was to say some comforting words, but when they were actually at her lips, they were all the type that was rotten from overuse, stuff like, "Time will take the edge off everything." Saying them out would not have any true, practical effect.

Right when she was unsure what she should say next, Yi Wenze suddenly spoke up. "Jia He."

She lifted her head, looking at him in puzzlement.

In those eyes, there were only little spangles of a smile as they gazed warmly at her. "Are you trying to comfort me?"

Jia He could hear her own breathing. Feeling a little fl.u.s.tered, she swept her eyes haphazardly over the teapot and then immediately reached over, picked it up, and strode over to the water dispenser to add some water into it. "No, I just suddenly thought of that."

Yi Wenze smiled, not speaking.

She set the teapot back over the tealight candle and helped him refill some tea into his cup. When she turned around to give it to him, she discovered that they were actually very close to one another… a little too close.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

[1]Nanjing Road is a major road in Shanghai, about six kilometres long, and is well-known as a shopping street. It is divided between East and West Nanjing Road. West Nanjing Road has many large, modern, and, generally, upscale malls.

[2]捕快. In pre-modern China, a bukuai's role was similar to that of current-day police officers and hence is often translated as "constable."

[3]Shanghai's district of Pudong, whose name literally means "east bank," is on the east side of the Huangpu River. It is now considered Shanghai's financial hub and is very modern, filled with skysc.r.a.pers. Directly across from it, on the west side of the river, is the historic centre of Shanghai, including the famous Bund, with the small, narrow streets of Old Shanghai.

[4]顺水推舟"shun shui tui zhou." This idiom literally translates as "pus.h.i.+ng the boat with the current." It is used to describe someone who makes use of something that is working favorably for him to easily move, without much effort, what he wants done forward.

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

1 of 1 Prologue
17 of 58 Chapter segments
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Easily Set Aflame Chapter 6 Part2

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Easily Set Aflame Chapter 6 Part2 summary

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