Peanuts is away, and technically, I should be filling in for her. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to translate Don’t Be So Proud, so I will have to pull something out of the files on my computer to fill that posting slot.
As usual, some introductory words for a new project followed by the actual translation.
Beautiful Bones and Together Forever were both more serious stories, so I’m definitely in the mood for doing something light right now. Mo Bao Fei Bao said the main inspiration for Stewed Squid with Honey (herein just called Squid for short) came after she re-read Really, Really Miss You, so from that, you can probably guess that this story is fluffy, fun, and candy-like cute.
Young, famous online cover singer of Japanese songs, Tong Nian experiences love at first sight when one night, a man happens to walk into the cybercafe she is helping out at. Her “digging” into who he is and her reverse pursuing of him brings this highly book-smart but low EQ girl, who is also a complete gaming idiot, into the world of eSports (professional gaming).
Most of you know that my motivation for translating is highly personal, that the stories mean something to me in one way or another. This story is just as loved amongst Mo Bao Fei Bao fans as Really, Really Miss You is. I did enjoy this story, but the reason why I started translating it was… indignation. I actually started translating this many months back, when the story first came off the printing press. Without going into any details, let’s just say that there were some “unpleasantness” and shoddiness (if you check out the cover, the story has nothing to do with lemons whatsoever) associated with the publishing of this novel that left a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of Mo Bao Fei Bao’s fans. So, as my way of showing the author that this story is worthy of people putting their time and heart into it, I started the translation. (Yeah, I’m a rabid fan of the author, I know.)
I do have a confession, though. I, too, am a gaming idiot. (As I translated this, I had “DOTA 2 for Dummies” and “League of Legends for Dummies” guides open.) When I got Mo Bao Fei Bao’s blessing to translate and post this, I made the promise that I’ll do my homework, so, for all those gamers out there, if I get something wrong, feel free to let me know.
As for posting schedule of this story, until Together Forever is complete, I will not promise anything more than once a week to fill in for Peanuts’ posting slot. I actually have the large majority of this story translated in draft already, so there is a chance that I can post more than that, but editing each update takes several hours. When Together Forever finishes up, this one will take over its posting slot. However, since I forgot and missed Peanuts’ normal post time last week, there will be another update mid-week to make up for it.
Let’s begin with the prologue and chapter 1! (BTW, jollymerry translated the prologue of this already on her blog and did a wonderful job of it. Feel free to check her version out and support her.)
Prologue – “Chicory’s” First Love
Do you want to know what love at first sight is?
This exact second.
This exact moment, as she faced the man separated by a single counter from her, she experienced love at first sight.
Tong Nian lowered her head, her fingers making rapid click-clacks as she typed and typed. She was simply trying to create a new password, but her mind was recalling with all its might whether, a second ago, when he had said the two words, “overnight pass” to her, had she smiled at him? It seemed the corner of her lips might have turned up? Or had she just stared stupidly?
With great difficulty, she finally managed to complete the new password set-up. Grabbing a piece of notepaper, she copied down the username and password.
“Um… the overnight price is valid beginning eleven at night and ends at six in the morning. We usually close up shop here at seven, so it’ll be no problem if you stay until seven o’clock.” She set the slip of notepaper on the counter. Then, using what she believed to be her most adorable voice while also purposely acting sweet and thoughtful, with even hints of a cute expression in her eyes, she told him, “Oh, right here”–she pointed at the cupboard behind her–“there are some instant noodles and drinks. If you’re hungry, you can ask me at any time. I can boil some water and make noodles for you.”
The man she was making eyes at did not seem to really be listening and merely gave an offhanded nod before taking the slip of paper off the counter and walking away.
Unwilling to spare any extra glances for a girl he did not know…
He was for sure a good man!
Originally, it was actually her guy-BFF plus confidant who had coerced her into helping him keep an eye on the Internet café for an hour. She had not expected at all that she would end up like this, talking as if to herself and falling into that web called love. After the man had led himself inside and chosen a spot in the corner near the window, she had already made the decision: tonight, she was going to make up a little white lie to not go home. Instead, she would volunteer herself up to help her guy-BFF watch over the Internet café for the entire night.
And so, when her BFF came back with two boxes of oden in hand to discover Tong Nian, hiding behind the counter, furtively opening up a package of instant noodles and also grabbing some spicy sticks and chicken feet that had been pickled with hot peppers, her face wearing the look of someone who had fallen head over heels in love, he was seriously stunned.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Her BFF thought she had been planning on sneaking the food and then, after eating it, charging it to him. From behind, he reached out a hand and tapped her on her shoulder. “If you’re going to sneak food, at least don’t have such cruddy taste. There’s some Ferroro Rocher in the cupboard.”
“Really?” Tong Nian was in somewhat of a flurry as she placed all these items on a freshly-cleaned tray. Without even lifting her head, she ordered her BFF, “Hurry up. Hand them over.”
Her BFF was speechless.
Very obediently, he pulled out the entire box of Ferroro Rocher that he had secretly stashed away and had planned on eating in the latter part of the night, handing it over to her. He had thought that Tong Nian would leave him a few, but instead, she ripped it open and poured it all out directly onto the tray.
And then, carrying that lavish late-night “set meal combo,” she headed towards a corner of the cybercafé…
Even though she was wearing flat-soled shoes, she still felt as if she was going to slip and fall at any moment. The more she worried that the soup from the noodles was going to spill over, the unsteadier her hands became. If she had known… she would have just made him some UFO instant fried noodles instead…
Right as the instant noodle’s soup splashed over for the second time, she finally came to a stop and stood behind him. Her gaze was slightly flustered, and only after sweeping her eyes around the room once did she barely manage to compose herself. “Um… hello.”
Oh God, why did her voice sound so tight?
Such a joke. Where did her beautiful voice of a singing diva go?
The man did not respond.
The café-provided headset still hung in its original position. He was using his own personal black headphones that he had brought himself. This picture before her, its composition! For a man to be good-looking, he absolutely had to look good wearing a headset. This was her own unique view on beauty that she had absolutely kept to since she was young. From the instant he stepped into the Internet café, this man’s every movement, every gesture had simply struck the bulls-eye of her heart.
On the computer screen, there was a computer game window that had been maximized. He should be playing games right now? But it was obvious he wasn’t using the keyboard. Extending her index finger, Tong Nian poked him lightly on the back of his shoulder.
The person before her detected this and finally turned around.
Gently, she set the tray down in front of him. “This … is the café’s late-night set meal combo.”
“Oh?” The man first conveyed surprise, but then, he very quickly discerned what was going on. “How much?”
Ah, so she was promoting food items.
Was it popular in Internet cafés nowadays to push sales? But, ten yuan for an overnight pass was indeed too low a profit.
Thinking this, he somewhat languidly pulled out a stack of money from his jacket hanging on the chair.
“Huh? No need—”
“Thirty.” Without warning, the boy who had been behind her rushed over, and laying a hand on her shoulder, he grinningly said, “Individually, the items would total up to forty yuan, but the set combo is thirty.”
Tong Nian’s face immediately flushed, and she threw repeated signals to her BFF with her eyes.
Her guy-BFF, though, pretended not to see anything.
In the eyes of the man in front of them, the expressions in this silent exchange of glances became “the little lovebirds are having a quarrel over the pricing.” He once again gave an “Oh?” and set fifty yuan on the table. “Then, I’ll trouble you to also bring me a can of Sprite. Thanks.”
And so, just like that, the dialogue came to a close.
The scene she had rehearsed in her mind had come to an end before it had even begun…
Chapter 1 – eSports?
After returning behind the counter, Tong Nian buried herself into her work, all the while grinding her teeth together in resentment. One by one, she recorded each food item she had brought over a moment ago, and then she began to add and subtract things up, making absolutely certain her BFF did not earn even one extra penny.
Her BFF, Soy Milk, hesitantly extended his hand toward that fifty-yuan bill, but intimidated by a single glare from her, he retracted it again. “I was worried that you were being tricked, so I was just trying to test if he is one of those broke old dudes who’s barely scraping by. My family runs a cybercafé, and I’m familiar with those types of guys who come here and just play games overnight. The vast majority of them have lives that are lousy. At most, you can say that this old uncle-dude’s looks are a little better than most.” After he said this, he even cast a glance from far at that backside, and speaking somewhat against his own conscience, he stated, “And they’re just a wee bit better… “
Tong Nian continued totaling up the bill.
“Hey, don’t ignore me, Squid ‘Chicory‘ [O Great One, Squid]? Squid Juju [O Stupendous One, Squid]? Sealed Chamber Dada [O Great One, Sealed Chamber]? Squid Da? Little Squidie Fish? Little Fishie Squid?” Her guy-BFF switched through all her various 2-D world nicknames, but none of them could even bring about a glance from her. At last, begging for mercy, he declared, “I’ll help you, I’ll help you.”
“Really?” Tong Nian immediately lifted her head, a smile written from the corner of her eyes to the tips of her brows.
“We’ll give him an entire week worth of overnights? And say he won it from a draw? Wait, overnights won’t work. We need to give him an entire week of free access. That way, once he thinks about it, he can just come.” While Soy Milk spoke, he clutched at his heart that was so agonized it felt as if it was dripping blood.
An epiphany went off in Tong Nian’s head. “Great idea!” And then, she furtively motioned with her eyes in that direction. “You go.”
“Me again?” Her BFF gaped at her.
“And…” Tong Nian mulled for a moment, then dropped her voice and instructed him, “Go tell him it’s an instant prize draw. He just needs to scan the café’s QR code with his WeChat QR scanner and then a prize will automatically be drawn for him. Pull out those skills you used in your two months as a sales rep after being brainwashed by one of those multi-level marketing companies.”
“… Our café doesn’t have a public WeChat account.”
Tong Nian bowed her head and stared at her mobile phone, struggling within herself for 2.5 seconds before resolutely making up her mind and changing her WeChat screen name. Handing over her phone, she told him, “Use my WeChat account.” There on the screen, her WeChat name had astonishingly been changed to “There is Serendipity Tonight.”
This was the Internet café’s sign that hung outside: “There is Serendipity Tonight Internet Café.”
Understanding her meaning, Soy Milk apprehensively clutched the mobile phone and went off to do some scamming.
The end result was… that night, in the wee hours, two major events occurred in her WeChat. The first was that a person with the handle, “Gn” was added to her contacts. The other was that her WeChat fan group completely exploded into an uproar. Her fans could not believe that their own normally cold, aloof, and outwardly-haughty-but-inwardly-adorable “Fish Playing in Sealed Chambers” would actually change her screen name to “There is Serendipity Tonight”… Chicory’s [O Stupendous One’s] ID must have been hacked!
Her heart was noiselessly dripping blood, and she decided to simply treat this as if her account really had been hacked, not returning a single message and only staring with a silly grin at that user ID that had just been added to her contacts list.
It had been so easy it actually seemed unreal…
Admiring for a full half a minute that dark, indistinct profile picture that was a screenshot of some undeterminable thing, she finally tentatively opened up his “Moments” page on his profile.
Other than forwarded news on gaming, there was nothing in there? To this cover singer of Japanese songs who only played Lianliankan [simple puzzle game to match pictures] and furthermore, would always lose when she played, these were simply gobbledygook to her, ah.
And what was even more depressing was… “Soy Milk, you suck at gaming, don’t you?”
“Yup!” Soy Milk grinned, not feeling even the slightest bit of shame. “I suck so bad, oh yeah, I suck so bad. I suck the most in all of history!”
Forget it. Tomorrow she’d find someone who actually knew the ins and outs T.T…
At two o’clock in the morning, Soy Milk was so tired he was dozing off.
Inside the Internet café, everyone was wearing headsets, and it was extremely quiet. Only a middle-aged man had opened up a video chat, laughing away happily while he had a cyberdate… And she, with her chin propped on her hand, was also feeling drowsy. The pencil in her hand was casually drawing away on the paper. As a singing diva, her drawing skills were rudimentary and were unable to draw that backside so that it looked very attractive.
If she got the chance, she should practice up.
She mused this in her mind.
All of a sudden, the man stood.
Immediately, she straightened her back, secretly covering that piece of paper with her arm.
The man picked up his jacket and headed over to her. Her heart was beating rapidly. She could only lower her eyes and watch as his khaki-coloured pants and that black pair of skate shoes walked—one step, two steps, three steps—toward her…
Oh no, oh no. Hurry, breathe! Tong Nian, you be strong! You need to have a normal expression, and don’t let your eyes flicker away!
Huh? Why was he going straight for the door?
“You… you… didn’t you pay for overnight?” Seeing that he was heading out the door, she anxiously blurted, “It’s j-just past two.” She glanced quickly at the clock. She was right. Two o’clock. Why was he leaving so early? …
Gun slowly halted his steps and turned around.
The hair on his forehead was slightly disheveled, likely because he had arbitrarily run his hand through it earlier on when he was sleepy. His eyes, though, were alert, seeming even to have a type of power that could penetrate into a person’s heart and mind. At this moment, it was not certain whether it was because he was tired or he simply could not be bothered to deal with her, but the expression on his face was somewhat detached so that a person could not tell what he might be feeling in the next second.
“It’s two?” He seemed to have just realized what time it was, and with a lift of his brows, he said to himself, “Two o’clock still isn’t considered late?”
“I-it’s okay, I guess.” Huh? What am I saying?… She immediately pulled back the pieces of her awareness that had been scattered in a confused mess and recited the words she had already rehearsed a countless number of times. “This is your change. Congratulations on your prize. Please come again next time.”
12.5 yuan was set in front of him. It was obvious he had been given another discount.
“Next time? You’re here every night?”
A tiny flame of hope ignited in Tong Nian’s heart. Whoosh, whoosh! In an instant, her entire body burned bright red.
His eyes took in this young girl’s expression, which gave him no choice but to do some self-reflection. Had he somehow put pressure on her? He cast a glance at the girl’s “boyfriend,” who was sleeping, completely passed out in the corner.
His next sentence was originally going to be, “It’s not safe for a young girl to watch over an Internet café at night,” but judging from the look on the girl’s face now, she likely regarded him as an “unsafe,” bad person?
And so, Gun cleared his throat and tried as much as possible to make himself appear good and harmless. Towering tall over her, he put on a pleasant smile and told her, “Don’t be scared. I was just casually asking.”
Saying that, without even taking the money, he pushed open the door and left.
I… don’t mind… you asking… aaaah.
She stared at that door that was still swinging and had not fully closed yet, flooded completely by tides of disheartenment.
* * * * *
Early in the morning, Gun was awakened by the sounds of conversation and footsteps outside the door and sat up from the couch. And then, he lowered his head, trying to allow it to completely clear. He had only slept for half an hour… Head really ached.
It seemed… this morning, there was a rock climbing activity? Hazily, he was able to grasp this piece of awareness. Then, still half a beat slow, he stood, felt for the door handle, pushed it down, opened the door, and walked out.
At the same time, he had pulled out a piece of candy from his pants pocket, unwrapped it, and held it between his teeth. Slowly he walked, and slowly he ate it.
There in front of him were a bunch of big boys running around, all wearing the team outdoor sportswear uniforms, which were a red and white, striped design. To be honest, they were quite ugly. But there was nothing that could be done about it. Those were the colours the sponsor had specified.
He was still only thirty percent awake while the remaining seventy percent of him was still asleep. Clearly written on his handsomely-contoured face were the words, “do not disturb.”
Unfortunately, someone just had to be unastute…
“Eh? Leader? Where’d you go last night?”
“You need something?” Those eyes managed to force themselves open and glanced in the direction of that voice.
“No…” The other party bit down on his lip and turned around, ready to flee.
“If you have something, say it.” He grabbed that person back. Languidly, he leaned in close, a faint dimple showing on his face. “It’s not like I’m going to eat you alive, hmm?”
关东煮, the Chinese name for the Japanese food, oden in which a variety of foods are simmered in usually a light, soy-flavoured broth. In China, it can often be found in convenience stores and hence, is a food that is available late into the night.
歌姬 “ge ji.” The literal translation is “singing girl,” but only a female singer who has reached a certain level of skill would be worthy of this term, hence the choice of the word “diva.”
菊苣 “ju ju.” This is Chinese name of the chicory plant. It is used as an online honorific for someone who is respected in the 2-D world (see footnote ) because it is a homophone with 巨巨 “juju” (see footnote ), which means “gigantic gigantic,” and the two are used interchangeably. To differentiate between the two, I will keep the literal translation, “chicory” but just understand that it also means “o stupendous one.”
巨巨 “ju ju.” Literally meaning “gigantic gigantic,” this is an online honorific used in the 2-D world (see footnote ) to address someone who is even greater than a “great god” or “big” persona. It would be one step up from 大大 “dada” which is “big big” (see footnote). It roughly translates as “o stupendous one,” but this is a little cumbersome so I have decided to keep it in its pinyin.
大大 “da da.” Literally meaning “big big,” this is an online honorific used in the 2-D world to address a respected person who has a status of “great god” or “big” persona. It would roughly translate as “O Great One,” but for the same reason as juju, I will keep it in pinyin. (Plus, I’m a bit anal and want to be consistent with my Really, Really Miss You translation.)
大 “da.” Literally means “big,” but in this case, it is a shortened form of dada.
 二次元 “er ci yuan.” The virtual world that exists in a “flat” or 2-D medium, what I will refer to as the “2-D world.” This includes manga/anime and the characters within as well as the online world, its artistes (singers, voice actors, etc), gaming, etc. and all the communication that takes place in it.
 微信 “Weixin.” Literally means “micro-message.” This is a text and voice messaging app. Besides text messaging, there is hold-to-talk voice messaging, social networking, group broadcast messaging, etc. Its English name is WeChat. www.wechat.com. A way to add contacts in WeChat is to scan the QR code of another WeChat user ID.
 密室の游鱼. This is Tong Nian’s online handle, and it literally means “Fish Playing in Sealed Chambers.” However, 游鱼 “playing fish” and 鱿鱼 “squid” are both pronounced as “yóu yú” and hence, online, Tong Nian is also addressed as “Squid” or similar variations.
 In WeChat, the “Moments” page or 朋友圈 (which literally means “social circle”), as it is called in Chinese, is a page on your profile that your contacts can see. It is a reverse-chronologically organized Facebook-like page where you can share “moments” with your contacts, such as thoughts, photos, videos, etc.
 连连看 “Lian Lian Kan.” Lianliankan is a very simplistic type of puzzle game played by trying to remove images by using no more than four lines to connect identical images. Here are a couple of examples. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/qq-lian-lian-kan/id385703650?mt=8 or https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tmlok.tm006.mentaltrainer
Just a little note. In the story, the man’s online name, “Gun” truly is written as an English word, not pinyin, and yes, it is the word that is the name of a handheld weapon.
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