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Chapter 3: Stick it On

Translated by Fefe of Exiled Rebels Scanlations

Editor: Addis


Seven-thirty in the morning, Tang Heng stood outside the hotel’s buffet restaurant. He’d gotten up early and already finished breakfast. The other teachers and students were still eating.

It seemed to have drizzled at dawn, but the sky was clear now. Sunlight fell upon the damp grayish ground. Tang Heng was spacing out while staring at the tile patterns when he heard footsteps behind him.

It was Lu Yue with a backpack. She smiled at Tang Heng. “Shidi, did you not sleep well last night?”

“A little insomnia.” Tang Heng smiled at her too. “Do I look bad?”

“You have some dark circles.”

“Oh, I’m fine.” Tang Heng thought, no wonder the students who ran into him earlier acted like they saw a ghost and ran away after quickly saying good morning.

“I heard you threw up yesterday.” Lu Yue tucked a few stray strands of hair behind her ear and asked with concern, “Did you drink too much last night?”

“Not like I can let Shixiong drink alone,” Tang Heng said, chuckling. “I’ll lay off today.”

Lu Yue nodded. “It should be all eating again today. It’ll be better tomorrow when we go into the village for research.” Her voice was a bit apologetic.

“I’m fine, Shijie.”

The two stopped speaking and both looked toward the distant horizon of the blue sky. Tang Heng felt regret. When Sun Jihao asked him last night if he came to Guizhou before, he said he’d come to mourn out of spite… Lu Yue probably knew now. After calming down, he realized that he’d just spoken without thinking. Li Yuechi was happily in love while running his store, while Tang Heng made something up about himself for no reason.

From arriving in Tongren by train yesterday afternoon until now, annoying things came one after another. The research would take ten days. According to Director Xu, the work schedule was tight—Tang Heng hoped it was true. He’d been pulled out here dazedly by Director Xu. Right now, all he hoped for was to successfully complete his work and pretend nothing happened.

Seven forty-five, all the teachers and students gathered outside the buffet. There’d be two groups today. Tang Heng and Sun Jihao would lead students to check a meat processing factory; Director Xu and Lu Yue would lead students to visit the downstream sales chain. The cars sent by the local government had arrived too. Exiting the hotel, they saw a long line of seven SUVs, parked head-to-tail on the road.

Tang Heng was taken by surprise, while Sun Jihao chuckled beside him. “Didn’t expect it, right? This scale.”

“Was it like this in Guiyang last year?”

“It was even crazier! We stayed in the city, right, so transportation was more accessible. They got us a whole team of ladies who stood in front of each car, holding welcome signs—they’re all wearing qipaos. Just imagine that!”

Tang Heng: …

There weren’t any pretty ladies, but this long line of SUVs still took him aback—didn’t they come to a poor town to observe how to help with the poverty? But it felt like they were representatives going to Beijing for a conference.

Director Xu and Lu Yue led their students into the cars first. Sun Jihao was still making small talk with the vice president of the factory. The vice president said his surname was Huang. He looked to be in his forties, so he kept asking Sun Jihao to call him Lao Huang. Sun Jihao said, “President Huang, you’re too kind!” President Huang said, “No no no, Professor Sun, just call me Lao Huang!” Sun Jihao laughed and said, “Then… Then I’ll use Lao Huang, but don’t call me Professor Sun! That’s too formal…” When Lao Huang had enough of that small talk with Sun Jihao, he turned and shook Tang Heng’s hand. His eyes—like upside down triangles—were bright and spirited as he said, “Teacher Tang! Can I ask your age? I bet you’re not a day past 25, definitely!”

Tang Heng hadn’t slept well and was in a bad mood. He got even more of a headache now and muttered coldly, “You guessed incorrectly. Let’s hurry and leave.”

Lao Huang was quick to change his act and nodded. “No problem, no problem. Let’s depart right now!” Then he personally led Tang Heng to the second SUV of the line. The driver had already opened the backseat door and was standing politely by the side.

Tang Heng ducked in without thinking. The car was clean and there was a fresh lemony scent in the air. But Tang Heng had a bad feeling—he’d purposely not eaten much breakfast, but he probably couldn’t avoid the carsickness.

He reacted strongly to the medicine and would throw up whenever he had them, so he only used the patches. He didn’t say anything when Sun Jihao bought the medicine last night, not wanting to cause more problems. If he didn’t have the patches, he’d just try to hold it in.

It was noisy outside. Lao Huang was chatting with the students again. Tang Heng closed his eyes and leaned lightly against the back of the seat. The driver was still standing outside and the closed car was quiet for once.

A while later, the voices outside grew quieter. Tang Heng heard a click. The car door was opened. Tang Heng knew that the driver had gotten in, but he still kept his eyes closed. The lemony scent made him dizzy and he didn’t want to talk.

After around half an hour, the car still didn’t move. The driver didn’t say anything either, like he didn’t exist. Tang Heng opened his eyes in confusion. The next instant, he woke up.

Li Yuechi was sitting in the passenger’s seat, turned around and was staring at him.

He had a gray jacket with the collars up and jeans, and an extremely short buzz cut. He’d stared at Tang Heng without holding back for half a minute, or maybe longer.

Tang Heng thought of that cold smirk on his face last night when he said, You want to confirm if I really like women or not?

“…Why are you here?” He thought he’d never see him again.

“They told me to come greet the officials.” Li Yuechi emphasized the last word.

Tang Heng was silent for a moment. “The other group is the one checking the market chain.” He felt like even if Li Yuechi was called over today, Tang Heng shouldn’t be the one he’s greeting.

“Can’t you tell?” Li Yuechi scoffed. “They think I know you, so they want to use me to get closer to you.”


Tang Heng didn’t know how to reply. What should he say? He and Li Yuechi indeed knew each other—but it wasn’t just knowing. He’d rather not mention the shit that happened between them.

If those people knew what happened between him and Li Yuechi, they would probably try everything to make sure Li Yuechi didn’t appear before him again.

“Doesn’t affect your business?” Tang Heng forced out. Then he realized, “Oh… your girlfriend can help watch the store, right?”

“Yeah,” Li Yuechi said.

Tang Heng shut up. Li Yuechi turned around too, acting like he didn’t want to speak further. Tang Heng stared at the back of his head. The black hair made him think of six years ago. Li Yuechi’s hair had been longer back then, long enough for Tang Heng’s fingers to be covered when he ran them through the strands of hair.

“Were you carsick yesterday?” Li Yuechi suddenly asked.

Tang Heng froze, then said, “Left in a hurry and didn’t bring the patches.”

Li Yuechi stuck his hand into a pocket. Tang Heng put up his guard, fearing he’d pull out women’s cigarettes again.

But too fast for him to see clearly, Li Yuechi tossed a box into his lap and said in a low voice, “Stick it on.”

A box of motion sickness patches.


The first day wasn’t too tiring. They spent the morning to visit two factories—one for beef jerky, one for sausages. Tang Heng and Sun Jihao led the 20-some students on the tour. Lao Huang followed on the side, attentively introducing everything. Behind them were the factory managers and workers, ready at their beck and call. It was a powerful sight.

“Sun-laoshi, look here. This is our air drying equipment, imported from Germany,” Lao Huang said, pointing at a machine. “The factory only had the money to buy it after receiving the capital from Macao last year.”

Sun Jihao folded his arms across his chest and chuckled. “Oh, not bad.”

“Of course! Without Macao’s aid, we wouldn’t be able to start this factory at all!”

“Yes, yes.” A middle-aged woman came over. She was wearing the factory’s green uniform. “Especially us women, we can’t go out to work like the men. We could only stay home with nothing to do, but now, the factory’s right outside our house. Convenient and we have work—”

“That’s great,” Sun Jihao said, nodding. “Eradicating poverty means helping everyone get jobs.”

Hearing this, more workers crowded around and fought to talk over one another: The factory gives 900-kuai every month, so much more than planting fruit trees; the country’s policies are great, helping us get jobs; Official, Macao is so rich… The atmosphere was like some praising conference. Sun Jihao was used to this. He kept a calm smile on his face and occasionally replied to them with things like “indeed” and “yes.”

But Tang Heng felt awkward. They’d just been asked by the Macau Liaison Office to check the implantation of the poverty alleviation project here. Basically, they neither provided the money nor the energy. They were just a group of university teachers and students. They’d nothing to do with government officials.

These people were kissing up to them because their research results would affect how much money the Macao government invested in the poverty alleviation.

Surrounded by the happy voices, Tang Heng turned back with disinterest. He immediately saw Li Yuechi standing at the end of the group. He was tall, with broad shoulders; his gray jacket stood out starkly against the mass of green uniforms.

He was gazing at a machine, almost spacing out, and his side profile had a rare gentleness.

The next second, as if reading his mind, Li Yuechi turned his head and met Tang Heng’s eyes. He blinked as if not thinking that Tang Heng would look at him. His eyes were incredibly gentle. But when he processed everything, his eyes changed the next second.

His gaze at Tang Heng turned cold, as if indifferent, as if with mockery.


Lunch was eaten in the factory’s cafeteria. They could choose between eight dishes and two soups. The dessert was mousse cake and mung bean paste. Lao Huang personally brought the mung bean paste to the students, saying jokingly, “Our cafeteria cook specially learned this! Cantonese-style mung bean paste, haha. See if it tastes authentic!”

The meal was very jovial, but he didn’t see Li Yuechi. Tang Heng ate distractedly. Seeing that Sun Jihao and Lao Huang were chatting nicely, he said, “I’ll go take a walk.”

Lao Huang shot to his feet. “No problem! I’ll find someone to lead you around…”

“No need.” Tang Heng couldn’t help it. “Have Li Yuechi lead me. Where is he?”

Lao Huang didn’t seem to notice that Li Yuechi wasn’t eating with them until now. He made a confused noise and said, “Teacher Tang, just a moment. I’ll go look for him.”

With that, he hurried out. Tang Heng followed without saying anything.

Actually, Li Yuechi was right next door in the kitchen. He and a few drivers stood by the stove, each holding a white lunch box. They were eating when Tang Heng arrived. The boxes contained rice and some sauce—it was the sauce leftover from the eight dishes and two soups.

Lao Huang chuckled awkwardly in front of Tang Heng. “Oh! Xiao Li! We were looking for you just then! How come you’re eating over here? Come on, let’s drink together.”

“I don’t want to disturb the officials.” Li Yuechi smiled respectfully. “I’m almost done eating.”

“Aiyo, just go take a few bites! They have mung bean—”

“President Huang, let him hurry up and eat,” Tang Heng said. “He can lead me around afterward.”

He’d been using Lao Huang, but now, it was suddenly President Huang—Lao Huang’s smile stiffened. He had no choice but pat Li Yuechi’s shoulder. “Then, be a good host to Teacher Tang.”

Li Yuechi was quite cooperative. “No problem. Don’t worry.”

Unfortunately, he turned into a different person as soon as Lao Huang left. His entire aura turned cold. A few drivers came over to greet Tang Heng, whom he replied to one by one. But he kept glancing at Li Yuechi.

He held the lunch box with one hand and the chopsticks in the other, shoveling rice into his mouth without stop. His Adam’s apple kept bobbing too. He was eating like a starved man. Tang Heng couldn’t help but think, was he in a hurry to leave?

Li Yuechi quickly finished eating. He tossed the box into the trash can and pulled a napkin out of his pocket to wipe his mouth. He strode over towards Tang Heng. “Let’s go, Teacher Tang.”

Tang Heng nodded. He walked out of the kitchen with Li Yuechi and into the factory. Li Yuechi’s motion sickness patch was still behind his ear; Tang Heng felt like he had to reciprocate. “Are you busy? You can go do your thing if you need to.”


“Oh… I saw you eat like you’re in a hurry.”

Li Yuechi replied calmly, “That’s how you eat in there.”

Tang Heng felt a slap across his face. The pain was even harsher than when Li Yuechi said last night that he couldn’t smoke in there. Like waking up with a hangover, the headache built up overnight surged over him.

Maybe it was because the eight dishes and two soups for lunch included a platter of crayfish.

Six years ago, they were in Wuhan. They often went to Wansong Park to eat roasted crayfish after the band performed at night. He was there, Jiang Ya was there, An Yun was there, and—of course—unofficial member Li Yuechi was there too. Tang Heng was too lazy to peel the crayfish, so he always had Li Yuechi help and the boy never refused. He’d hold the red crayfish with both hands, focusing hard on pulling off the head and tail, picking out the meat in the pincers. He’d always been so focused, as if he was doing something incredibly important.

“Where do you want to go?” Li Yuechi asked.

Tang Heng pulled out of his thoughts. “Just walk around,” he murmured. 


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August 30, 2023 7:21 am

Since TH brought up LY’s girlfriend, LY’s initial reaction to him has changed completely. It’s like LY resents the implication any past feelings between them meant less to him than TH and the relationship wasn’t serious. Or is it just me misreading.
TH seems the more desperate to talk.
Thanks Fefe and Addis for the chapter.

Official LMW release!

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