Chapter 5: Crushing on the Mensao Man (5)
When Chen Mo heard the sentinel call saying that someone was looking for him, he wondered who it could be. But upon turning the corner and spotting a slim silhouette, his gaze strangely softened. Lu Zhen had one hand in his overcoat pocket while the other took a long drag from his cigarette. His uniform was slightly different from the armed police uniform. This difference made Chen Mo feel as though the cold wind suddenly became a little more frigid.
My brother! Chen Mo then ruminated.
Though my fellow police officers are also my brothers, we’ve bled together and fought death together. It’s different.
Lu Zhen saw him in the distance and enthusiastically waved him over. He pinched out the cigarette and tossed the butt into a garbage can by the road.
“Oh my, look who we have here… Captain Chen…” Lu Zhen opened his arms and let out a pealing laugh, as if he were an eternal spring.
Chen Mo subconsciously walked over, which surprised Lu Zhen. From what he recalled, Chen Mo never took the initiative to approach people. Lu Zhen then quickly reacted and hooked onto Chen Mo’s shoulders, patting them. “Long time no see!”
“Yeah.” Chen Mo felt that it was freezing to the point where his nose started sniffling. He lowered his head and asked, “Something the matter?”
“Aren’t I heading north? Captain wanted me to deliver something along the way.” Lu Zhen grinned while pointing to the cardboard box by his feet.
“Heading north where?”
“Uh… Beijing. Some… It’s hard to say.”
“What’d you bring?” Chen Mo looked at him, and returned to an easier topic.
“Hey, Captain Chen, why don’t you inspect the goods later. Let’s find a place to chat first, okay? This wind is really… Are you undergoing cold resistance training or something?” Lu Zhen bent down to pick up the box.
Chen Mo thought for a moment before bringing him to Earth Café.
It was Miao Yuan’s first time seeing him on a day that wasn’t Saturday. This unexpected gift made her pleasantly surprised.
Chen Mo brought Lu Zhen to the table he always sat at. Lu Zhen took in the surroundings and said smiling, “I see you’ve heightened your tastes. You even go to coffee shops to drink coffee! Oh right, you don’t drink coffee, no?”
Just as Miao Yuan handed them the menu, Chen Mo pushed it over to Lu Zhen and softly said, “A hot chocolate.”
Lu Zhen snorted before composing himself. He turned his head, and said, “One espresso.”
He noticed Miao Yuan’s flushed cheeks and shy gaze. He beamed and added, “Miss, I’ll order more if it’s made well.”
“Oh,” Miao Yuan affirmed with a sweet smile.
Lu Zhen was very satisfied with his allure. After being trapped in the wilderness for so long and away from civilization for so many years, it seems like I’ve still got it. My skill is still there and my charm hasn’t been lost. That’s definitely worth celebrating.
Miao Yuan went back and started whispering with Momo.
“I think that person’s really handsome! He looks so good when he smiles!” Momo cupped her face.
“He’s not bad, but Chen Mo’s still more handsome.”
“Tschh! How exactly is Chen Mo more handsome? The eyebrows, nose, eyes, mouth?”
“People can’t be cut into pieces and compared piece by piece! I think he has a good temperament. You understand temperament, right? Temperament! ” Miao Yuan made a fist.
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“What’s the thing?” Chen Mo said, using his foot to lightly tap the box.
Lu Zhen smirked and opened the box to reveal two furry lumps.
“My komondor dog, Prosperity1, gave birth a month ago. Captain let me bring a pup and he thought that I might as well bring you one too.” Lu Zhen beamed. “You should be able to tell now! They represent our Captain’s firm expectations: We live and die as dogs of the troop!”
Chen Mo bent down to look and poked around. “Which one is mine?”
“One male, one female. You pick.”
Chen Mo cupped a small male puppy in his hands and said, “Then this one!”
“Perfect, since I like pretty girls.”
Miao Yuan just so happened to be carrying the coffee and hot chocolate over. She saw the puppies and gasped. A tender joy filled her face.
“His dog is cute, right?” Lu Zhen teased.
Miao Yuan vigorously bobbed her head. “What’s it called?”
Lu Zhen was caught off guard, and turned to ask Chen Mo. “What are you going to name it?”
Chen Mo thought for a while before subconsciously grinning. “Duke.”
Lu Zhen nearly spewed out his coffee. “Watch out! Captain’s gonna come give you a thrashing!”
“He wouldn’t dare.” Chen Mo slowly continued. “He’d only have the guts to beat you up.”
Grinding his teeth, Lu Zhen looked upwards. Just you wait!
He then pursed his lips and regretfully complained, “Hey, I was originally hoping you’d name the dog Ma Lu.”
Chen Mo was confused.
Lu Zhen then had a sudden reversal of spirits, and blossomed into laughter. “Because I plan to name mine Ming Ming!” Ma Lu and Ming Ming were a couple from the famous play Rhinoceros in Love2.
Chen Mo, however, was still lost. Rather, it was Miao Yuan who let out a laugh. Lu Zhen became giddy and said, “See see, so uncultured. Even this young lady understands.”
“But aren’t they from the same litter?” Miao Yuan worried. “Then it’d be incest.”
Lu Zhen was dumbfounded and Chen Mo didn’t understand why, but he still smiled. Miao Yuan saw Chen Mo’s lips curl into a smile and her heart started racing.
Lu Zhen drew a cigarette from his pocket and Chen Mo looked at him hesitantly, as if he wanted to say something. Unexpectedly, he spoke up. “When did you start smoking. Do you have an addiction?”
Lu Zhen strained a smile. “I had it long ago. It’s just that you didn’t find out. When I left, I had some cravings. I’d be satisfied, even if it was just a taste.”
Chen Mo became melancholic and gestured with his hand. “Go ahead and smoke.”
Lu Zhen smiled. “And your eyes?”
“Whatever. I don’t care that much anymore.”
The two men reminisced over the past. They looked upwards with mixed emotions, remembering all they had gone through. This sort of scene had a sweetness to it. Those who had served would know what it felt like to meet old troop mates—bantering, complaining, regretting, reminiscing. The steaming cup seemed to taste bitter, sour, and sweet all at the same time.
Lu Zhen waved his hand and became lively again. “Bro, I heard that you transferred.”
“Ah,” Chen Mo didn’t care too much about that.
“That’s good then. That’s good then. It’s just a pity that Brother Kai will forever be second-in-command.”
“Isn’t there the position of captain?”
“Precisely.” Lu Zhen slapped his thigh. “Xia Minglang that guy. He guards his position like a constipated person manning the toilet. When it got to you, he became even more nasty and straddled two!”
Chen Mo reached over to pat his shoulder. “It’s nothing. My dad’s not doing well. I feel more at peace if I’m closer to him.”
“That’s true!” Lu Zhen thought for a moment before laughing with his pearly whites shining through. “What’s it called… hospitality! Today we’re going hard. We aren’t stopping till we get wasted!”
“Won’t it be easy to get me drunk?” Chen Mo said helplessly.
Miao Yuan brought a cake over. Out of her expectations, she saw Chen Mo lively slap the table with his brows arched. It seemed as though he were upset, but in truth, he was laughing.
“Miss, you’re showing favorites. Why don’t I get any?” Lu Zhen playfully said, tugging her.
“Uh… He ordered a combo. Would you like one?”
Lu Zhen beamed and said, “Yes yes!”
Miao Yuan brought a slice out from the refrigerator for Lu Zhen.
“So it turns out you like eating sweets.” Lu Zhen said through bites of cake. He looked at Chen Mo with an expression of having discovered something incredible.
“It’s pretty good.” Chen Mo wasn’t too aware of his taste preferences. To put it more accurately, he didn’t pay attention to these aspects. If it tasted good, then he ate it. If it didn’t, he didn’t eat it.
“Just this… is quite decent!” Lu Zhen then threw his fork in disdain. “But I’d rather be eating at the army canteen.”
Chen Mo silently placed the final bite in his mouth and slowly chewed. Suddenly, he realized that in reality, this guy was even more reluctant to leave that place than he was.
Miao Yuan felt as though that corner was lit up by warm and soft golden rays of sunlight the whole afternoon. A young lieutenant and an equally young police officer sat across from each other with smiles decorating their faces, light in their eyes, and wrought with emotion. One splendidly laughed, losing all semblance of himself. Only a pair of eyes shined through. The other would slightly curl his lips. But Miao Yuan felt that the latter’s happiness wasn’t any less.
Lu Zhen stealthily tugged on Chen Mo’s hem. “Hey, did you notice? Why does that girl keep looking at you?”
Chen Mo thought for a while. “Probably because you haven’t finished your cake!”
Lu Zhen tilted his head before shoving the last bit of cake into his mouth. “You have to treat me to some good food tonight!”
“Sure!” Chen Mo saw the sky darkening and collected his belongings. “I’m fine with eating whatever.”
“Where will I stay? Let me tell you, it’s got to be a five star hotel. I’m already sick of the place the army prepared.” Lu Zhen smiled.
“Sure!” Chen Mo was unusually straightforward.
When Lu Zhen was leaving, he noticed Miao Yuan’s gaze so he turned and waved. “Bye miss!”
Chen Mo followed him and bowed his head slightly to Miao Yuan as a sort of goodbye.
Miao Yuan blushed and felt the tips of her ears burning.
- Komondors are a dog breed. Prosperity was a dog that Lu Zhen had bought, and true to its name, it brought a lot of riches, though those riches came in cute fuzzy puppy forms.
- Rhinoceros in Love is a famous Chinese play. Kind of like Romeo and Juliet. The play describes the love of a rhinoceros feeder for a beautiful woman. It has been described as a ‘classic drama’ of modern Chinese theatre.