This place was said to be a waiting room, but it was located in a certain unattended hallway at the back of the lobby. It was secluded and wouldn’t disturb others. Occasionally, people would pass by as they head to the toilet. To put it bluntly, it was actually to prevent a group of people from sitting on the sofa in the actual lobby and affecting business operations.
Lin Anran was waiting silently, when someone suddenly came over to talk to him. The man probably saw the long-haired Lin Anran sitting alone in the corner, wearing a mask, and thought that he was a girl.
But after discovering that Lin Anran was a man, this person’s attitude became visibly perfunctory, telling him in a bored tone that the paparazzi area was on the other side.
Facing a stranger approaching in such a familiar manner, Lin Anran was a little nervous. He shook his head at the man.
“Not a paparazzi? Then what are you doing dressed up like this?”
Lin Anran had a conundrum, not knowing how to organize words to answer him, so he listened to the person who continued to say, “That’s right, you don’t have a DSLR. Then you Yes… I forgot what the word was called, oh yes yes! Powder fans?”
Lin Anran was taken aback and shook his head quickly.
“No? You’re just too embarrassed to admit it.” The person who spoke to him was holding a file bag in his hand, with a simple suit on his upper body and leggings on his lower body. The way he said these words gave it an air of familiarity. “Don’t be embarrassed. I’ve seen a few people like you…Okay, don’t shake your head anymore. Why don’t you tell me, brother, you’re not dressed up as a paparazzi and not here to talk about business, so what are you here for?”
Lin Anran said nothing. He wanted to talk too, but he had no words to say.
The man gave him an understanding look and winked at him. “Don’t worry. I’m a very enlightened person, and I have a little understanding of your circle. You’re one of Shang Hao’s wife fans, right? Am I right?”
Lin Anran: …
Be more confident and remove the “fans.”
The man had an epiphany and slapped his thigh. “I knew it! From the moment I saw you, I thought you must be gay!”
If it were anyone else, that person would have beaten him up by now. But Lin Anran had a good temper and said nothing. He felt that this person seemed to be familiar with this place, and so he could be used as a thigh. Right now, he didn’t want to let him go.
Once the man had finished speaking, Lin Anran expectantly asked him when Shang Hao would come.
Unexpectedly, the man stared at him with surprised eyes. After surprise, came sympathy. Then he said, “I believe you’re currently a novice. My god, brother, you really think we are here for Shang Hao?”
Lin Anran looked puzzled. Why not? Had he gone to one of the neighboring companies instead?
“No, let me first ask you, do you know who Shang Hao is? TV stations have to make an appointment in advance to interview him. What are we? If you really want to squat down and see him, I’ll tell you, it’s more efficient to go to the entrance of the underground parking lot to bump into his car than to wait here.”
Lin Anran changed from confused to more confused. “Then what are you waiting here for?”
The man didn’t say, smiling a mysterious smile. “You’ll know in a while.”
He refused to say. At this time, Lin Anran looked at the time and found that he had been sitting here for almost an hour. In fact, like him, the other party had nothing to do except wait, and so he decided to talk to him out of boredom.
His words completely befuddled Lin Anran. The man said that he couldn’t wait for Shang Hao here, but if he waited in the parking lot, there would be security guards…
Meanwhile, the man had somehow sneaked up to the door once more and stuck out his head surreptitiously.
At the same time, Lin Anran noticed that there seemed to be an increase in the flow of people outside, and wondered if it was time to get off work.
The man was guarding the door quietly. It was unknown what he suddenly saw because his eyes brightened. His figure flew out like a rabbit, heading straight for one specific direction.
At the same time, several people in the room rushed along, leaving for some unknown reasons.
The first person who ran out suddenly realized that something was wrong. When he turned his head, he saw Lin Anran running next to him!
He was shocked. What was this?! While bypassing the people in front of him, he asked Lin Anran loudly, “What are you doing!”
Lin Anran nervously followed his footsteps, and said loudly, “I don’t know!”
He didn’t know anything! He was just following along!
The man was even more shocked. He clicked his tongue with a bitter “tsk”, and rushed forward with all his strength. He really read this person wrong. He thought the other was an honest person and said a few words to him, but he didn’t expect this kid to know how to fly first and actually followed him!
Lin Anran’s physical stamina only persisted for a short period of time before he gradually became tired and slowed down. Several people rushed past him.
He stopped, panting, and watched as the running crowd had stopped before a young man in a suit and were beginning to stuff business cards and documents into his hands.
Lin Anran was at a loss. What did he just chase?
The young man, who was wearing glasses, was on the phone, and the few people around him were soon squeezed away by the crowd.
The man who had spoken to Lin Anran at the beginning looked extremely excited, shouting, “Assistant Xu, Assistant Xu, it’ll be a great help if you could take a look at our project record. Hey, you’ll see that it’s not bad…”
As he spoke, he tried his best to stuff the documents into Assistant Xu’s hand. Assistant Xu himself often didn’t appear in this area, because he was frequently bombarded by these kinds of requests.
The young man was blocked by these people just a few steps after entering the company’s gates. But he seemed to have turned a blind eye to them. Not giving them a single look and while talking on the phone, he calmly beckoned to someone in the distance, as if calling security.
As he was calling the security guard, he saw Lin Anran, who was still panting not far away.
His expression changed.
Lin Anran was looking at him, but when he saw that the other person was looking back at him, he began to panic.
He, he really only came occasionally, and he wasn’t in the same group as those people, so he shouldn’t also be driven out by the security guards.
The young man was stunned. But he quickly recovered. Suddenly bursting into a brilliant smile, he walked toward Lin Anran. He ignored the phone in his hands and even his earlier inattentive expression was gone.
Lin Anran stayed in place, feeling at a loss. Did he know this person?
The people who ran in front of him were also stunned, looking at them inexplicably.
“Mr. Lin, do you remember me? I drove you and President Shang once. It’s me. You can call me Xiao Xu.”
Lin Anran was flattered. Not daring to speak, he quickly reached out to shake the hand Assistant Xu held out. “Xiao, Mr. Xiao Xu.”
He stared blankly at the senior who had brought him here.
The “senior” was stunned silly. Unexpectedly, what was the background of this kid with thick eyebrows and big eyes? Earlier, why was he waiting for so long with them?
Assistant Xu still asked him enthusiastically, “Mr. Lin, are you here to see President Shang?”
Lin Anran nodded and listened as he continued to say, “Oh, you’re one step short. President Shang left work just a minute ago.”
Lin Anran was a little disappointed. “Ah, he’s off work…”
He wanted to say, “It’s fine, I’ll go back by myself”, but Assistant Xu asked him to wait a while and kindly invited Lin Anran to sit upstairs.
Lin Anran was so panicked that he thanked him and waved his hands in objection.
The other seniors were stopped by the few people who had been with Assistant Xu earlier, and so they were now craning their necks to see.
This situation also aroused the curiosity of the people coming and going through the lobby, and they stopped to watch. Even the receptionist who had received him earlier was looking over at them.
Lin Anran, who was now the center of attention, was even more embarrassed and adamantly refused to go up. Assistant Xu asked him to wait for a moment. He dialed a number on the phone and went upstairs. After a while, he came back.
The other seniors didn’t leave during all this time, waiting to see what was going on.
“Mr. Lin, this is President Shang’s access card. You can put it away and use it at any time in future when you come back to look for him. This is a spare, which President Shang originally meant to prepare for you, so don’t worry.”
Lin Anran heard the word “spare” and hesitantly took the card.
The other people stared in excitement. This Mr. Lin was the same person who’d been waiting with them in the waiting room?
When he accepted it, Assistant Xu’s smile widened. “Why didn’t you wait for President Shang at home today?”
When he said this, the senior who Lin Anran had been running with earlier gave him a “shocked my mother” look.
Was the world changing so fast? What’s up with wife fans nowadays? Were they even allowed to go to Shang Hao’s house now?
Assistant Xu said, “This is my business card. You can contact me next time if you need help with anything. How about I call the driver for you?”
His thoughtfulness and warmth decreased Lin Anran’s social fears, making him a little more talkative. He hurriedly declined, “No, no thank you. I can go back by myself.”
Without Lin Anran’s assistance, Assistant Xu failed to help him get a driver. His expression was a bit regretful as he watched Lin Anran’s back disappear out through the company’s front doors.
Before leaving, Lin Anran said goodbye to the shocked senior.
After Lin Anran left, Assistant Xu took out his mobile phone and sent a message to Shang Hao. “President Shang, Mr. Lin has already left.”
It wasn’t in vain that he’d informed President Shang so soon after he’d stepped out, because a few minutes later, President Shang turned the car around.
But after returning, no one came out of the car. Instead, President Shang just handed out his own access card from the car window and asked him to hand it to Lin Anran.
Where did the spare card come from? The only card used by President Shang had always been that one.
When Shang Hao saw Assistant Xu’s message, he was already with the driver near the company’s front door. He asked the driver to go first and then got out of the car by himself.
Once he found out that Lin Anran was waiting for him in the company’s lobby, Shang Hao’s first reaction was to tell the driver to turn around.
When he thought of Lin Anran waiting to pick him up from work, he wanted to see him as soon as possible.
If he was still in the company, he would have gone straight down to see Lin Anran. But because he was sitting in the car, Shang Hao ended up staring blankly at the scenery passing outside the car window, and he thought of many things.
He had some frustrations, but his frustration was not directed at Lin Anran.
He wondered if he was too aggressive toward Lin Anran from the very beginning and ended up scaring him. As a result, Lin Anran habitually placed himself at a lower level when facing him, trying to love him on tiptoe.
And so Shang Hao changed his mind.
If he allowed Lin Anran to succeed today, it would only make Lin Anran think that this would be a useful method for pleasing him in the future. Therefore, he would continue to look up to him, to continue using this once effective method to try to please him. In the end, their relationship could only be that of a superior and a subordinate.
But he couldn’t accept that Lin Anran had to be the one to compromise in this relationship.
Shang Hao didn’t want him to be so careful in their relationship. He didn’t want Lin Anran to think that, because he’d accidentally hit him, he needed to reflect that he was the one in the wrong, thinking that he’d played too proudly. No, Lin Anran shouldn’t be like that.
He always drew stories of a match-stick person and an exquisitely drawn manga character. In his drawings, he was humble, acquiescing this as a matter of fact.
It was only when he was dreaming that the match-stick person became the same size as Shang Hao. Perhaps, in his subconscious mind, Lin Anran also hoped that one day he could become like Shang Hao?
Lin Anran shouldn’t be like this.
Lin Anran couldn’t understand that in Shang Hao’s eyes, even his every little strand of hair was beyond cute and dazzling.
He shouldn’t always feel that he was making a mistake. He shouldn’t take the initiative to bow his head to someone giving him the cold shoulder. He should be righteous, and he should arrogantly tell him, “Laozi¹ have fallen for you. You mustn’t take it for granted.”
If he knew that he was loved, he wouldn’t be so careful in their relationship.
Lin Anran was too weary of life. Did he have to drag this dull and cumbersome yoke for the rest of his life?
Shang Hao followed the hat-wearing, mask-wearing Lin Anran at a distance, walking after him. He watched as Lin Anran carefully avoided the people grabbing seats in the subway, preferring to stand at the side so as not to get in the way.
First, he suspected that Shang Hao wasn’t real. Now, did he also want to suspect that he didn’t really like him after all?
(1) Laozi — An arrogant, sometimes contemptuous, way of saying “I.”