Valentine’s Day has finally arrived! It’s Sheng Sheng and Toupai’s first date! ❤
Chapter 25 – Spicy Crispy Skin Fish (3)
Restless and nervous, she suffered through the next several days.
And, needless to say, she also wasted away those days, not able to record even a single song … Luckily, it was nearing graduation time, and the university was starting to prepare for the graduation party. Her faculty was also having its own graduation celebration. Naturally, she was recruited into both events, being requested to play the guzheng for one and the piano for the other. Going to rehearsals was enough to whittle away quite a bit of time.
What was remarkable was, Geng Xiaoxing, who never before could be bothered to go back home, suddenly left for home on Friday.
As a result, on Friday night, Gu Sheng was the only one left in her dorm. At least she did not have to worry about dealing with Geng Xiaoxing’s “Why aren’t you going home this weekend?” questions … But, there was no one there to discuss with her about how to handle this February 14th anime expo date either.
On this day, when everywhere seemed to radiate an atmosphere of romantic, floating pink bubbles, she felt that not dressing up elaborately would be disrespectful to Toupai …
But if it had only been a coincidence that Toupai had chosen Valentine’s Day to go to the anime expo and did not intend to take things further between the two of them, would it be inappropriate if her outfit were too extravagant?
Gu Sheng honestly felt she was going to be sick from having to make all these decisions.
Even the next day at midday, when Toupai sent a message saying he was outside her dormitory building, she was still staring at her pile of clothes not knowing which one to choose. But now that the situation had come to a head and she was in a pickle either way, she might as well let herself act like a starry-eyed girl this once!
In order to fit in with the anime expo, she decided to wear the only student uniform-style outfit she owned. She had purchased it last semester for the New Year’s party. Speedily, she started changing into it: a white blouse paired with a yellow sweater, a yellow and green checkered skirt that came to her knees, dark green stockings, and dark green shoes… Lastly, she put on her white down coat… Too extravagant, wasn’t it? T.T She stood in front of the sink, staring dazedly at herself in the dressing mirror.
After standing in front of the mirror for three seconds, her face suddenly flushed a bright red.
In the end, she forced herself to be thick-skinned, and putting on her backpack, she walked out. On a day like this, outside the dormitory, fancily dressed girls could be seen everywhere, as well as boys waiting in all sorts of different postures.
Gu Sheng’s eyes glanced all around, but she could not find Mo Qingcheng.
While she was feeling a little bewildered, she suddenly heard someone call her name from far away. It was Toupai’s voice. Searching in the direction from where it came, she finally saw Toupai, his eyes on her as he stood a ways off outside the Student Activity Centre with several other people. She walked over toward him and then discovered that one of the people with him was actually one of her senior brothers in her faculty…
“Gu Sheng?” Senior Brother exclaimed delightedly. “Mo Qingcheng, the one you’re waiting for is my junior sister?”
Mo Qingcheng gave a nonchalant “mm.”
Gu Sheng clutched her backpack straps tightly as she mumbled Senior Brother’s name in greeting. She had not imagined at all that this type of situation would happen, where the instant she left the door, she would run into a faculty senior brother…
Senior Brother was apparently very well acquainted with Mo Qingcheng and could not help clearing his throat and teasing, “You are my senior schoolmate from high school. Gu Sheng is my junior sister from un … You tell me, ha ha, how am I supposed to sort out our seniority ranking? Ha ha ha ha!”
( ⊙ o ⊙)
Mo Qingcheng smiled and gave him a pat on the shoulder. This dear friend, who had originally wanted to continue laughing, immediately curbed his mirth and hastily fawned, “Of course, seniority will be counted from you, Senior Brother first. I’ll call her Sister-In-Law … Sister-In-Law …”
Oh Lord, who could come shut him up, ah?…
Thankfully, Mo Qingcheng did not seem to want to let him carry on with his teasing. He asked instead whether Gu Sheng was ready to go. Gu Sheng hurriedly nodded in response and then docilely walked away with Mo Qingcheng. Along the way, from the dormitory building to the university’s main gate, the two of them casually chatted on and off. Amid the enthralling sound of Toupai’s voice, Gu Sheng could not stop stealing glances at him.
He was dressed in light blue trousers, a black jacket, and a white collared shirt…
Mm… so, so handsome T.T
Gu Sheng, that’s enough, you…
“What’s the matter?” Toupai seemed to have sensed her gaze and lowered his head to look at her walking beside him.
“Uh… I was just thinking about my idea to rearrange that song for you,” Gu Sheng answered in a very proper manner, trying to save some face for herself.
Mo Qingcheng seemed to be smiling. She did not dare peek at him anymore.
She had thought the two of them would be taking the bus, and only when they reached the main gates of the university did she realize that Mo Qingcheng had driven over to pick her up. According to Toupai, February 14th was an extremely busy and crowded day, and if they did not drive, he was afraid it would be very troublesome to take her back home that night. Gu Sheng completely agreed with the first half of his sentence. As for the second half… she had to find a way to get out of it. Otherwise, if the nosy aunties in her community compound saw them, the whole situation would escalate to the level of a household interrogation T.T
Mo Qingcheng parked the car in a community compound that was near the exhibition centre. She discovered that, as Mo Qingcheng drove through the main gate of the compound, the security guard could not even be bothered with them. And after the car was inside, he seemed very familiar with the route as they drove to the parking space. So that meant… This couldn’t be the community compound his home belonged to, could it?!
Toupai’s home address…
Toupai’s home address… She actually found out so easily where he lived T.T……
She glanced around at the quiet surroundings. This seemed a bit like a dream. So this was where he and Jue Mei lived? While she was speculating, Toupai had already parked the car and unfastened his seatbelt. “This is where my parents live. It’s relatively close to the exhibition hall where the expo is being held. Leaving the car here will be more convenient.”
She was even more surprised by this and took a look around again.
This was where Toupai had grown up and lived while he was still a student?
As she carefully observed the area, Mo Qingcheng called out to her. She turned around. Mo Qingcheng’s dark eyes that looked as if they had been dabbed with ink were looking at her. “Take down my mobile number. If it’s too crowded and we somehow get separated, it’ll be easier to find each other.”
Gu Sheng gave an “okay” in reply, pulled out her mobile phone, and input a string of numbers into it.
And then… After hesitating briefly, she dialed the number.
Very soon, the ringing sound of a mobile phone was heard beside her. When her call came in, he pulled out his phone and quickly typed in the two characters, “Sheng Sheng” to save the number … She, however, wavered when it came to the step of entering his name. Toupai? Qiang Qing Ci? Mo Qingcheng? It seemed the last one was the safest. With the first two, if someone happened to see it, his mobile phone number would immediately be compromised.
Mo Qingcheng. Mo Qingcheng…
She suddenly remembered what Jue Mei had said. 3-D world. It was better to address him by his 3-D world name.
Right now, things… truly were happening in the 3-D world.
And so… she and Toupai had now exchanged all of their contact information. She even knew which community compound his parents lived in ( ⊙ o ⊙) ……
This was her first time at an anime expo. When she first stepped through the doors, the huge throngs of people caused her head to spin. Taking off her jacket and hugging it close to herself, she blindly followed after Mo Qingcheng’s footsteps while taking in these fresh new surroundings. Mo Qingcheng also glanced around, and due to his height advantage, he could completely disregard ninety percent of the people. Before long, he was asking her what she was particularly interested in seeing.
She thought about it briefly. “The Legend of Qin. I’ve been catching up with this one lately.”
Mo Qingcheng smiled as he looked at her and said in a low voice, “What a coincidence.”
Coincidence? What was a coincidence?
Gu Sheng did not have time to ask before he was already leading her towards that display booth. It seemed this particular one was especially popular of late, and they possibly would not even be able to squeeze their way up to the booth. Mo Qingcheng looked out over the hordes of people surrounding the display area. Just as he was considering how he was going to bring Gu Sheng over there, someone beside the display booth who was about to do a performance noticed Mo Qingcheng. Immediately, that person’s eyes brightened, and he squeezed his way out through the crowd.
Since that person was actually cosplayer, Mo Bai [White Ink], the people who were looking at the display soon forcefully created a way for him so he could gruelingly, but successfully pass through … But even as he was charging through, the pathway would immediately close up tightly behind him …
“Oh my, oh my!” Mo Bai was exhilarated, but he still managed to control the volume of his voice. Acting furtive, like he was a thief, he blissfully put his hand on Mo Qingcheng’s shoulder. “Oh my, oh my! You actually bestowed us with your presence…”
Gu Sheng stared at this exquisite-looking and famous cosplayer, Mo Bai, feeling like a little unknown person watching the excitement from the sidelines as one big god met another big god…
“I happened to have some time today, so I came to look around.” Mo Qingcheng’s gaze shifted over towards Gu Sheng, and seeing that she had been forced back half a step by the crowd already, he very naturally wrapped his arm around her shoulders and fished her back from amid the mass of people.
Toupai’s… hand… was resting on her shoulder…
Gu Sheng exhaled discreetly, feeling the weight of his hand on her.
She stood there beside him, feeling as if her entire shoulder did not belong to her …
Mo Qingcheng did not even seem to notice anything. With a smile at Mo Bai, he said, “This is–”
All of a sudden, background music started playing. The display booth’s performance was beginning.
“Sheng Sheng Man, right?” Mo Bai completed the sentence for him in a lowered voice. His eyes were turned up in a smirk as he teased Mo Qingcheng, “You’ve kept yourself low key forever, except this one time where you’ve gone high profile. The whole world knows…”
Suddenly, there was a burst of squealing.
Mo Bai grinned and whispered to Gu Sheng, “Your man’s voice acting part is starting.”
Sure enough, from the sound system on the stage, Toupai’s spoken lines for this performance echoed out. “How many Qixi nights have passed? Alone, I liberally drink dukang wine, melancholy beneath the moonlight…” The low, forlorn voice rang out from the speakers.
Gu Sheng’s cheeks and ears burned bright red from Mo Bai’s words …
She remembered this song, “Qi Han” [Seven Cold Nights] was an old song. At one point, she had also loved the arrangement of the musical accompaniment for it… She had never expected it would be chosen to be used in a special program at this event. Neither had she expected that Toupai would personally do the voice acting for this event…
Toupai’s fingers moved slightly, as if he was trying to find a more comfortable position as he encircled her shoulders.
Gu Sheng did not dare move in the least bit. She felt completely like her soul had detached from her and flown off somewhere.
Many of the people surrounding the booth were Toupai’s ever-faithful fans. Sounds of “Shh, be quiet. Listen to the spoken lines,” continually could be heard. These were good, well-behaved fans who would put a stop to each other’s squeals and who supported their idol with solemnity. However, they did not know that this idol of theirs was openly standing right there with them …
Mo Bai immediately grinned and gave her a look.
The meaning behind it: You see? Toupai’s fans are all surrounding this place. You’d better be careful, Sheng Sheng Man …
 师兄 “shi xiong.” This is how one would address a senior, male fellow student.
 师妹 “shi mei.” This is how one would address a senior, male fellow student.
七夕. The Qixi Festival falls on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar. Also called Double Seventh Day or Chinese Valentine’s Day. It celebrates the yearly reunion in Chinese mythology of Niulang, a mortal cowherd and his wife, Zhinu, a fairy and daughter of the Jade Emperor of Heaven, who are separated by the Milky Way and can only see each other one night a year, on Qixi.
杜康. A wine with ancient origins in China, dating back thousands of years. It is said to have been invented by Du Kang. However, since Du Kang is regarded as the forefather of wine making, any good wine may sometimes also be called a “dukang.”
The song doesn’t really make a big appearance in the novel, but the atmosphere it creates is compellingly sorrowful so I decided to translate it anyways. (The language of this song is very poetic and was challenging for me, so hopefully I didn’t butcher it too badly.) It’s a storyline song, supposedly based on the story of the Prince of Lanling, but it seems only very loosely so (and has nothing to do with the drama starring Feng Shao Feng). The lines are spoken by the Prince of Lanling, Gao Changgong.
Gao Changgong: How many Qixi nights have passed? Alone, I liberally drink dukang wine, melancholy beneath the moonlight. Ling’er, this life, I have already waited seven years, wasted away seven years, and even moreso, missed you for seven years, yet I still have not been able to find even a hint of your whereabouts.
The flickering lights of the colored lanterns sway gently upstairs
Singing resounds. Paintings are being made. Lights and colors fill the night lane.
Cups are raised in toasts. Drunken dreams are taking place within these elaborate windows, doors, and walls
Who forgets their worries?
Sweet smell of ink. Paper fan swaying, bringing a gentle wind
A brush dabs down and sweeps lightly across the lips
The candle shines upon the slender reflection in the mirror
Her rouge is bright, her rouge is not right
A lonely tune has the power to kill
Fixated on one single thought, nine thousand other emotions are destroyed
Holding onto a single grievance, hence unable to adhere to the three disciplines[a]
Why worry? Why be sorrowful?
The words written in ink have been rolled and tied up into the red scroll
The wind is dusty but the tears that fall are clear as I drink from a wine of yearning
The silk handkerchief soaked in tears still cannot lessen the beauty’s sorrow
Beloved, do you know the breadth of my love for you?
Throughout history, war has never been the right solution
One gives all his heart into it, yet causes enmity to become deeper enmity
Bring order to good and evil. Restore goodwill
To forget worries, forget worries
The cold is penetrating. The clear frost can freeze the blood and bring worry
The tender expression of the past cannot be found on that cold countenance
The Qixi night is cold, but [you have] passed on already
Now that you have departed, who can save us?
The dream is hard to forget. Those skillful fingers moved
To thread the red needle. Moon, do not be bashful
Counting each thread of the cobwebs, letting time pass by
Today, I can no longer hold your hand
Who cherished the beauty, who in the end only had a head of white hair?
Flowers blossomed on the branches, but how many petals now remain?
Tear the silk handkerchief, undo all ties, let love go
Cut the bonds of love, sever all sorrows
Gao Changgong: Outside the brightly painted pleasure-boat, colorful lanterns sway. There is singing and dancing – such a lively scene. But though the world is vast, I am left alone, singing “Seven Cold Nights”, no one beside me. Ling’er, do you know that, without you, the scenery of this city of Lin’an does not bring peace?
Seven years, seven Qixi Festivals with moonlit nights where the moonlight was cold
Dukang wine drowned the sorrows
Do we remember?
Delicate clouds hold back the cool breeze in their sleeves
The lanterns and fireworks are still as before
Gao Changgong: If we cannot meet again through reincarnation, then I would rather choose death…… If I had known this would be our destiny, why did I need to trouble Qing Mei to exhaust her powers to transport my soul to this other life?
Warm some wine to dispel the cold of the wind and night
Tie tight the red thread[b], hoping that you will be by my side for three lives
从此后 青竹泛舟有君 不羡鸳鸯 不羡仙
And from henceforth, you will be with me as we ride rafts of bamboo, not envying the love of mandarin ducks nor envying the immortals
Unfortunately, this life, we can only remember Lin’an in our memories
Next life, let us make more to store up again
[a] 三戒. ‘san jie.’ Three things to guard against or three actions that must be followed. Depending on what one is referencing (e.g. Buddhism, historical teachings, Chinese medicine), these disciplines may be different, but they can include things like abstaining from sexual misconduct, contention, coveting, telling untruths, excessive anxiety, excessive anger, overindulgence, intoxication, etc.
[b] In Chinese mythology, Yue Lao, or “Old Man Under the Moon” ties a man and a woman together with a red silk thread, and henceforth, nothing can stop the couple from being together.
[c]水调歌头. A traditional, generic Chinese melody to which any poem written following the ‘ci’ genre can be sung.