Editor(s): Mariabel, PM87, marshmallow
At seven in the morning, Tianhe was awoken by a sound. He looked up at the computer screen and then looked down at the blanket covering his lap.
The sound came from a cleaner who was shaking out a garbage bag outside. Tianhe lifted up his feet, dazedly pushed aside the blanket, and said, “Thanks.”
He stretched his waist and doubtfully looked down at the blanket.
Tianhe, “Who put this on me?”
Pro, “It wasn’t easy to put a blanket on your lap. I can reconstruct the scene for you… First, you leaned forward and rested your head on the desk, thus causing the other party to kneel down beside the desk, crawl forward, and bend down…”
Tianhe input several instructions into the computer and said, “Check the analysis system to see the results.” Subsequently, they checked the implementation effect of the program and began to inspect a few bugs.
“1.13% complete.” Tianhe mumbled, “This task is more arduous than I thought.”
Pro, “There are still 84 days, 17 hours, 13 minutes, and 21 seconds before New Year’s Day. You can do it.”
He got up and poured himself a cup of coffee. The office was entirely empty. Tianhe saw that the bento box from last night had been placed on his desk, so he handed it over to the cleaner in passing.
Pro, “I just want to remind you that the owner of this blanket…”
Tianhe only added, “Search in the database and compare.”
At nine o’clock, the employees clocked in one after another. Tianhe, on the other hand, was still staring at his screen with half a cup of cold coffee in one hand and a folded blanket in the other.
At ten o’clock, the young woman from the reception desk came by with a towel, toothpaste, and toothbrush for Tianhe.
The receptionist said, “Didn’t you return home last night? Did you stay at the company through the night on your first day? ...There’s a shower next to the restroom. You can go and wash up.”
Tianhe nodded. He left the computer and went to brush his teeth and wash his face, leaving Pro to implement the program himself.
Tuesday was the busiest day for Qingsong, as it was packed with meetings. Both large and small meetings were held and a crowd of people flocked in and out of the conference room all day long.
At eleven-fifty, Tianhe relaxed and leaned back on his swivel chair.
Pro, “I’m like an alarm clock that’s been taken apart once and then completely put back together.”
Tianhe smiled. “It was just a small portion; I just opened your case. How do you feel now?”
Pro, “Much better. At present, hacking into the U.S. Defense Department’s system will only take 233 years and…”
“Forget it… Are you still knocking on the U.S. Defense Department?” Tianhe said, “I need you to stand by for an hour and not deploy any functions during this period.”
“Hey, little tailor!” Tong Kai’s enthusiastic voice sounded.
“Hi, Balzac.” Tianhe took off his earphones.
Tong Kai, “You surprisingly got through Qingsong’s door twice. Mario lost the bet. Although, I don’t think he will really give me the…”
“Exactly only once,” Tianhe replied. “You haven’t won yet.”
Tong Kai, “Let’s go get lunch together? I know of a Guilin rice noodles shop downstairs. You will surely like it!”
When lunch break came, Guan Yue came out of his office again. All the employees acknowledged him with a nod of their heads one after another. Guan Yue just glanced at them casually as he passed by.
“Let’s go!” Tianhe was in a good mood today. Just as they were leaving, he saw that Jiang Zijian had sent him a message, inviting him to have a meal with him one of these days.
There were large and small restaurants near the International Financial Center, mostly fast-food restaurants for office workers or high-end catering brands for those who had appointments and wanted to discuss business in the afternoon. Tianhe didn’t really want to eat in this neighborhood, but since Tong Kai, who was a son of a rancher raising livestock, introduced it, then it presumably would not be too bad.
“Oh, boss…?” Tong Kai backtracked and walked towards the lounge with the sashaying gait of a catwalk model… one step, two steps… and saw Guan Yue at the entrance of the building, waiting for the chauffeur to come.
The company’s car stopped and the chauffeur immediately stepped out to open the door.
“Chairman Guan?” Tong Kai asked, “Where are you going?”
Wearing sunglasses, Guan Yue glanced at the two men to seemingly ask, Where are you both going?
Tianhe guessed that he had a midday appointment with somebody to discuss business. Still, he casually invited, “We are about to go eat Guilin rice noodles. Come join us?”
With a gesture, Guan Yue dismissed the chauffeur and walked towards them.
Tong Kai, “...”
Tianhe and Tong Kai were speechless as they looked at each other. Guan Yue raised his eyebrows and asked, “Let’s go?”
The two thus awkwardly walked ahead.
“That…” Tianhe said, “Chairman Guan, you can go if you are occupied with work. I just said it off the top of my head.”
“No,” Guan Yue replied.
Tong Kai, “It’s not good to delay your work…”
Tianhe, “I’m really just being polite.”
Guan Yue, “Just pretend I don’t exist.”
How could Tianhe pretend that he didn’t exist?
Tong Kai quipped, “In that case, we’ll really think you don’t exist!”
Tong Kai took them to a queue outside a rice noodle shop situated beside Huanjin Center and behind the customs office. The shop was full of office workers who came for lunch. The shop assistant asked the people waiting at the front of the queue for their orders and then motioned at the person behind. Tianhe looked at the types of rice noodles on the wall and wanted to eat everything. He had not stood in line like this for a very long time. The last time he waited was at the Civic Centre in London five years ago.
“There are so many people,” Tianhe said. “It must be delicious.”
Tong Kai and Guan Yue—one in front and one behind—looked like two bodyguards guarding Tianhe as they stood in front of the shop. Guan Yue lowered his head slightly, his sunglasses reflecting Tianhe’s face.
Tong Kai, “I guess you’d only be willing to line up to see the Mona Lisa.”
Tianhe replied, “No. There’s no line to see the Mona Lisa either. Someone will reserve the Louvre ahead of time before we go there.”
Tong Kai, “Won’t you be reproached like Beyoncé?”
Tianhe, “Wouldn’t it be good if we gained some publicity?”
The office workers lining up looked at the three of them strangely.
Guan Yue wore dark glasses and didn't talk or look at his phone; he just stood there quietly.
The queue moved forward quickly. After waiting for half an hour, it was finally their turn. Tianhe found out that it was fun to line up once in a while. It would give people a sense of accomplishment as they slowly approached their destination.
The small shop’s tables were greasy with oil. The lady boss took a dishcloth and casually wiped them. After sitting down, the three of them faced each other in silence.
Tong Kai, “Based on the obvious next step, should one of us now get some paper towels and wipe the table?”
Tianhe, “You sound as if you wash your own clothes yourself.”
Guan Yue took a paper towel and leisurely wiped the table a few times.
Tong Kai, “How does it feel to work for the first time in your life?”
Tianhe, “It’s alright. Everyone seems quite curious about me.”
Tong Kai asked, “Curious about you or your relationship with Chairman Guan?”
Guan Yue remained silent.
Tong Kai lowered his head and looked down at his phone again, murmuring, “How can two individuals who are obviously mutually in love refuse to be together?”
Tianhe caught a glimpse of Tong Kai sending a message to Jiang Zijian. On the other side, the latter was being insipid. From time to time, he would only send emoticons as he very slowly browsed through their chat records. Back on this side, Tong Kai covered his phone with his hand, not letting Guan Yue see any of his messages, and turned to Tianhe. He let him see the chat records while signaling with his eyes, clearly asking him for advice.
Tianhe thought for a moment and said, “Don’t expect too much. Try to start with being friends first. No expectations, no disappointments.”
These words seemed to awaken Tong Kai. He nodded and replied, “Hmn, don’t rush off to get married. I’m feeling a little swayed by considerations of gains and losses right now.”
Tianhe was starving to death. He wondered why his rice noodles hadn't arrived yet, while Guan Yue’s and Tong Kai’s meals were already here.
Guan Yue pushed the edge of the bowl towards Tianhe, motioning him to eat some first. Tianhe waved his hand and waited for his own. He looked at Guan Yue, thinking if he would still wear his sunglasses during their lunch, but Guan Yue took it off. Tianhe saw dark circles under his eyes, which were clearly from staying up late.
Tong Kai and Guan Yue didn’t touch their chopsticks as they accompanied Tianhe in waiting for his food.
“He didn’t say anything, he only sent me some emoticons,” Tong Kai said.
Tianhe smiled and said nothing. He took Tong Kai’s phone and typed a reply with a hungry emoticon, 【I’m starving to death.】
As expected, this message successfully reeled Jiang Zijian in. Jiang Zijian was an emotionally awkward guy, but once someone sought his care, his chivalrous heart would instantly flare up and he would even go so far as to arrange a meal for the other party, without any delay.
Tong Kai began to focus on Jiang Zijian once more, asking yet again, “Tianhe, what’s the most romantic confession you’ve ever heard?”
Tianhe, “I won’t tell you.”
His rice noodles finally came. The toppings on the bowl of rice noodles were laid out neatly; slices of fat and thin barbecued pork were mixed with lush green lettuce and a sprinkling of crispy fried peanuts that gave off a fragrant smell. Tianhe immediately picked up the chopsticks. The other two then dug into their own food with ease.
“How was it?” Tong Kai smiled.
Tianhe motioned for Tong Kai to look at his own empty bowl. This was already the highest evaluation he could give to the chef.
Tong Kai, “The next time you come, you won’t have to line up.”
Tianhe, “I don’t hate waiting in line though, especially in the company of interesting people.”
Tong Kai sighed emotionally. “Because of these powerfully spoken words, you’ll never have to wait in line again in all your life.”
Tong Kai returned to the law firm after their lunch, while Guan Yue stood outside the elevator with Tianhe.
“What are you thinking?” Guan Yue asked all of a sudden.
Tianhe turned sideways, looking at Guan Yue who was more than half a head taller than him. He doubted that this guy was 1.9 meters tall.
“There’s a problem with this elevator’s algorithm,” Tianhe said. “I can improve it a little bit.”
Every time Tianhe arrived in Qingsong, he always felt quite bothered.
“Hello, Boss.” Qingsong’s employees came back from their lunch in groups of twos and threes. They greeted Guan Yue one after another.
Guan Yue only nodded. Silence immediately enveloped them as they entered the elevator. Tianhe knew that the employees were most likely watching both him and Guan Yue.
“If you want to be yourself, then be yourself,” Guan Yue suddenly said in the quiet elevator. “You don’t have to care about other people’s thoughts or comments.”
The elevator remained extremely quiet. All the employees held their breaths and didn’t dare to look at both of them through the elevator door’s mirror.
They couldn’t see whether or not Guan Yue was angry since he wore sunglasses.
“Thank you, Chairman Guan, for your understanding,” Tianhe said. “I have always been myself.”
When the elevator door opened, the employees took a step back and waited for Guan Yue to exit first, yet Guan Yue was waiting for Tianhe to go out first. But Tianhe silently gestured for him to go forward. Guan Yue caught on and finally walked out.
Tianhe immediately followed afterwards.
The people in the elevator were so stupefied that they forgot to block the elevator door from closing before they could get out. Thus, all of them were brought back to the first floor.
“I’ve been on the job for a year…” Zha Guo commented, “This is the first time I heard his voice! So, the Boss can actually talk!”
“I’ve been on this job for two years and I’ve only just heard him say ‘oh’ and ‘okay’!”
Prometheus’ standby time ended. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, Tianhe accessed the quantitative trading system and used Prometheus’ help to improve his signature software. If this worked, Tianhe would be much more relaxed.
“The predicted probability has still not significantly improved,” Tianhe muttered.
“You need to look for new formula guides,” Pro said. “This is very crucial.”
“I know.” Tianhe felt discouraged. “I can only be regarded as a quant. Perhaps I should make an appointment to go back to London or possibly Berlin and find my seniors to play Texas Hold ‘em.”
“Caution, restrictions on leaving the country,” Pro warned. “The most important thing is you can’t just tell the customs office that you’re leaving the country to play cards.”
When Tianhe was still studying, much of their conversation about academics and other complicated matters took place during these poker game get-togethers that were held in the computer club every Friday. Most of his senior brothers with similar capabilities and strengths stayed in London, while some went to Berlin after graduation.
“I need to find new formula guides to improve the algorithm,” Tianhe finally conceded. If this software wasn’t perfected, it would always lack its most competitive aspect.
Pro, “I just said that five minutes ago. I don’t think you’re going to stay late in the office again today, because I’ve already sent a message to the chauffeur for you. Guan Yue also needs to rest. Last night, he didn’t sleep at all. If he accompanies you all night again, perhaps he might die a sudden death.”
“What? It’s already time to get off work? Are you sure Guan Yue stayed up all night…” Tianhe found out that the sun was almost about to set. He had to go home and take a shower today. Hence, carrying his computer, he left the office. As he went downstairs, some employees exchanged conventional greetings while others nodded kindly at him.
Tianhe’s mind was full of work. Right under everyone’s stares, he absent-mindedly entered the Rolls Royce after exiting the HSBC Building and then drove off.
At home, Aunt Fang prepared dinner. She took a seat and smiled. “You just entered the company and you’re already so busy?”
Tianhe had a load of things on his mind. He needed at least five or six new formula guides and improved algorithms to build his quantitative transactions and analyze the system’s two signature products. These problems were more complex than he had imagined and he was now clearly stuck. He needed to find someone proficient in finance and economics to enlighten him.
“Aunt Fang, do you know about Birkin bags?” Tianhe suddenly asked.
“Of course.” Aunt Fang smiled and got up. “Every girl deserves a Birkin bag in her life.”
Aunt Fang brought out a common handbag for Tianhe to see and joy was clearly written on her face. “Your grandmother gave this to me thirty years ago.”
Tianhe couldn’t see the details of the bag, that thing was obviously from a long time ago. He then told Aunt Fang about the little sister’s request, and said, “She takes good care of me.”
“Okay,” Aunt Fang replied. “I’ll call the shop and ask. Does she like Birkin or Kelly?”
Aunt Fang gently smiled. “Forget it. Boys don't understand these things. Eat now so you can go to bed early. You still have to go to work tomorrow.”
Three days later.
The entire company of Qingsong plus the investment companies on the upper and lower floors were all in high spirits.
Four shop assistants, dressed in suits and with gloves covering their hands, entered Qingsong while carrying twelve bags. The twelve latest Birkin bags were all lined up and placed on the sofa.
“Choose one.” Tianhe was already having a headache because of his work. He said to the little sister without looking up, “I don’t know what color you like… You don’t have to pay me. Don’t mention it.”
“If you don’t like anything, we’ll let the head office know and get a fresh batch next week,” said one of the shop assistants.
Little sister, “......”
“Oh!” Tong Kai exclaimed. “What is this? Did you all switch your professions to sell luxury goods? ... Hey, little tailor! Are you still eating Guilin rice noodles today?” He leaned over and sat down on the edge of Tianhe’s desk.
Tianhe, “Okay, okay! But the food that Aunt Fang had prepared for me…”
Tong Kai interrupted, “Come on, let’s get some rice noodles. I wanted to ask you about something too. Come, Mario, please have this rice with bamboo shoots, edible mushrooms, and chicken with the others. In addition, this hot dish here is for that pitiful Chairman Guan to eat. You’re welcome!”
At noon, Mario ate Tianhe’s lunch while scolding the delighted receptionist who had just received a Birkin bag.
Tong Kai took Tianhe to the same Guilin rice noodle shop from before. In the middle of the shop, where the three of them had sat last time, a small sterling silver signboard was placed on the top of the table.
【Stay away from this table. 一Nuolin Firm】
When customers saw the silver sign, they tactfully avoided the table. No one wanted to offend Nuolin.
Tianhe, “There’s really no need to line up? Really?”
Tong Kai, “Hmn. I already bought this rice noodle shop.”
Tianhe held the chopsticks in his hand while sitting upright at the table. He felt simple happiness yet also felt a little lost. “But we’ll get tired of eating it.”
Tong Kai, “I’ll buy you that eel rice next week. It tastes delicious too.”
While other people’s “I’ll buy you that” meant buying takeout from the place, Tong Kai’s “I’ll buy you that” was literally about buying the whole place, just so they didn’t have to stand in line.
“...Please help me message him. I’m planning to meet him this week by surprising him at the hotel he’s working at… He just got promoted to be the team leader of all the hotel’s doormen.”
Tianhe was startled. “Don’t do this. Listen to me. Honesty is the most important trait in a relationship. Why not be honest?”
“Oh…” Tong Kai was thinking over the meaning behind each of Jiang Zijian’s WeChat emoticons. Jiang Zijian seemed a bit indifferent towards his messages, which made Tong Kai frustrated. He was the one who had refused Jiang Zijian’s proposal to continue communicating, yet now, he couldn’t help but look for him. It was simply too confusing.
“I think he likes you very much.” Tianhe encouraged him. “Go give it a try.”
Tong Kai was skeptical. “How can you know that?”
Tianhe began to decipher the meaning behind each emoticon for him in a deadpan manner.
Tong Kai, “Then, help me come up with a reason that he won’t be able to refuse.”
“Honesty is the point. Be honest, Balzac.” Tianhe took Tong Kai’s phone when some news suddenly popped up above.
【The overbearing chairman ostentatiously spent his money and bought twelve Hermès Birkin bags for anyone to choose.】
Tianhe brushed it away, entered the chat box and typed in:【I want to seriously talk with you.】
“What if he suddenly makes a surprise attack and comes to our hotel? What should I do?”
Jiang Zijian sat at Tianhe’s table. Xiao Zhou, the butler, followed and helped him crack open the crabs. Almost all the servants in Tianhe’s family had been dismissed, leaving only Aunt Fang, who naturally couldn’t serve both of them at the same time.
Tianhe smiled. “Didn’t you ask for this? I already told you, I won’t go with you to Foot Bath City.”
“This time I really have to dress up as a doorman,” Jiang Zijian said.
Tianhe craned his neck. Jiang Zijian was still deliberating on how to reply to Tong Kai’s message, so Zijian showed him his phone.
Tianhe, “You didn’t reply?”
Jiang Zijian’s chat records had stopped at “I want to seriously talk with you.” He handed Tianhe his phone and said, “How? Can you help me?”
“No, no,” Tianhe modestly declined.
Zijian, “Come on, you have more experience than me.”
Tianhe, “What experience do I have?! You do!”
Zijian, “Guan Yue is still dead set on you even after breaking up with you. Twelve Birkin bags were sent to Qingsong for you to choose from. It’s all over the news today. But, why are you interested in women’s bags though? That won’t do. Tomorrow, I’ll have a trunk of property certificates from Country Garden sent to your company……”
Tianhe, “Don’t! You misunderstood, Zijian…”
“Quick!” Jiang Zijian said, “Otherwise, we’ll be on bad terms!”
Tianhe had to wipe his hands before he helplessly took Jiang Zijian’s phone and replied to Tong Kai.【We have nothing to talk about except love.】
“How romantic,” Aunt Fang commented. “Xiao Tian is very good at saying romantic words.”
Xiao Zhou said with a smile, “He’s still embarrassed… What was that saying? The three brothers of Wen Family…”
Aunt Fang replied, “The best things in life for the three brothers are: to find someone for the eldest brother to marry, to find a good friend for the second elder brother, and to have a perfect love for the youngest brother…”
The two housekeepers unanimously approved of Tianhe's romantic word choices.
Pro, “May I take the liberty to ask why you are chatting with yourself…”
That’s right. Wasn’t he the one who sent this message? Tianhe’s mouth twitched.
When Jiang Zijian was about to retract the message, Tong Kai had already replied with a shy emoji.
“Ah—” Jiang Zijian covered his forehead and frantically shouted, “Tianhe! You tricked me!!”
Tianhe, “Go. Pursue your love. Don’t regret it.”
Jiang Zijian was silent for a moment. “I don’t care. You have to accompany me in dressing up as a doorman. Don Quixote is urgently in need of Sancho’s assistance.
Tianhe, “I’ve already been on the scene once. What the hell are you thinking?”
Jiang Zijian himself felt that it wouldn’t make any sense. The customers from Foot Bath City suddenly became colleagues? It would be too strange. Tianhe suddenly had a bright idea and found a scapegoat from among the masses. “There is a best candidate.”
The light bulb went “ding” in Jiang Zijian’s head.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat, Joyce and Caro.