When A Snail Falls in Love - Chapter 34[Updated at: 2021-01-11 09:55:00]
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Early in the morning, the heavy raindrops pitter-pattered on the tiled-rooftops as the whole town was enveloped in a thick fog.
In the conference room of the County Public Security Bureau, core members of criminal police force sat solemnly around a long black table.
Their results from the operation were satisfactory as, over the past few days, a total of about thirty suspects were captured, and more than forty victims were rescued. The only problem was that Brother Lu had eluded them like a phantom. They had absolutely no clue where she had disappeared off to.
The Public Security Department had given instructions and issued an arrest warrant throughout the province, to carry out a large-scale search to arrest her. As for the operation team led by Ji Bai, their duties had temporarily come to an end. So, they were allowed to disperse and return to their own posts to await further instructions.
After Ji Bai did a brief post-mortem, he invited Director Liu to say a few words.
Director Liu had always been swift and strict. It was a trait well-known by members of the Provincial Public Security Department, and this time, there was no exception.
Once she was done highlighting the achievements and values derived from the operation, she shifted to a heavier topic. “However, we cannot consider this operation to be a success because some may even say that we fell short at the last, most critical moment. Brother Lu, the kingpin wanted by the Public Security Department, actually escaped right under our noses due to a certain colleague’s negligence.”
The sound of the rain beating against the rooftop and windows appeared to become louder as the office became pin-drop silent.
Yao Meng sat up straight in her chair, her face was a mixture of red and white.
Director Liu set her eyes on her and began completely unrestrained, “Yao Meng, the reason we made an exception by allowing police trainees like you and Xu Xu to participate in this operation was in hopes that you would be able to carry out your professional roles satisfactorily. In spite of that, Brother Lu was in your car, yet you didn’t notice it at all. You even let her into the toilet alone which led to her escape. I can’t tolerate mistakes like this. After you return, I’ll make a request to your station chief so that the person responsible for this matter is punished. I hope that you’ll reflect on yourself too and improve your professionalism from now on. You must not let similar mistakes happen again.”
Yao Meng’s tears started flowing out, but she quickly tilted her face downward. “… Yes, Director Liu.”
Director Liu treated matters with logic rather than emotion. So after she criticized Yao Meng and saw that the young lady was feeling responsible, she cooled down. Then, she said to Ji Bai, “I have nothing more to add, let’s disperse.”
However, to everyone’s surprise, Ji Bai looked up at her and said in a low voice, “I disagree with punishing Yao Meng.”
Everyone else was very quiet. The only the sound one could hear was that of the heavy rainfall outside.
Confused and dumbfounded, Yao Meng raised her head as she looked at Ji Bai with teary eyes. He was seated not far away from her. Even when seated against the window with a gloomy and overcast sky outside, he still looked calm and collected.
Director Liu looked sullen but she did not reply. Ji Bai continued steadily. “In this case, Yao Meng was careless indeed, but she’s still just a police trainee, which is why she lacks practical experience. However, I still think that her performance across the entire operation was generally excellent.”
The room became even more silent, as many young criminal police officers did not dare to breathe. On the other hand, the older criminal police officers maintained a straight face, well aware of the tension in the air.
Right then, Da Hu coughed softly and muttered, “I agree with Captain Ji’s point of view.” Xu Xu nodded her head. “I agree too.” Her voice came out much clearer than Da Hu’s.
Yao Meng was seated between the two of them but her head remained lowered.
Director Liu glanced at them before she stared at Ji Bai. “So, what you’re saying is we’re just going to forget about the fact that she let Brother Lu escape?”
Ji Bai said, “I’m the head instructor of this operation. If you’re looking for someone to punish, then I’ll bear the consequences.”
“Pa!” Director Liu threw the book in her hand onto the desk. “Ji Bai, do you really think that I can’t punish you?”
Ji Bai remained silent with an expressionless face whilst the other people in the office dared not move a muscle. You could cut through the tension in the air with a knife.
All of a sudden, Yao Meng raised her head and choked out in between sobs. “It’s my responsibility, punish me if you’d like to. It has nothing to do with him… with Captain.”
Only Yao Meng’s soft sobs could be heard as she said this.
A cadre from the Provincial Department laughed. “Look at her, the young lady got scared. Stop crying… Ji Bai, Director Liu is only being strict in order to improve the quality of your team from Lin City. Director Liu is always the one who praises you the most in the Provincial Department, so I doubt that she would actually punish her little junior brother.” Both Ji Bai and Director Liu had graduated from the Criminal Investigation Department at the Public Security University, so they were friends from the same course.
He then looked at Director Liu. “I think that Ji Bai made sense too, how about you discuss the matter further when you return?”
Ji Bai nodded. “You’re right, I was too straightforward with my words, I didn’t pay attention to the way I phrased it. Director Liu, please cool down.”
Director Liu was initially outraged at his insubordination, but upon hearing him humbling himself, she calmed down and nodded. “Disperse.”
That afternoon, Director Liu returned to the province by car, with Ji Bai sending her off personally. On the way there, Director Liu still seemed very intimidating, but in the end, she still relented and smiled. “Alright, I accept your opinion, and she won’t be punished. Nonetheless, you’ll have to personally report this to the Provincial Department.”
“No problem, I’ll do as you say. Once I return to Lin City, I’ll go to the Provincial Department to apologize.”
“You little… Pass this on to Yao Meng: I’m just like that, though my tone was a bit heavy today. Tell her not to feel too hung up about it.”
Once the province leader left, the others felt the atmosphere become much more relaxed. Su Mu suggested that they hosted lunch to treat Ji Bai and the others to some local dishes. After a night’s rest, they would send them back to Lin City.
The location was set to be at a restaurant located by the river that was very close to the local police station.
Rain continued to fall and when Yao Meng arrived, only Su Mu, Ji Bai, Da Hu, and two other criminal police officers were seated beside the windows. The others were not there yet.
After Yao Meng was criticized that day, those who were close to her comforted her. Meanwhile, the criminal police officers who were not familiar with her expressed their kindness and comforted her with their eyes. Anyhow, all of this was unimportant to her, Ji Bai was the only one who mattered. Although she was upset, she would instantly feel better as soon as she thought about his attitude.
At noon, everyone from Lin City and Xiang Chuan was seated. Since the seat to the right of Ji Bai was still empty, Yao Meng’s heart beat quickly as she went around Da Hu and walked over. Just as she passed by Da Hu, he pulled her to his side. “Eh, that seat is taken. You should sit over here.”
Yao Meng could not react in time, and the other men laughed. There seemed to be a mutual understanding between themselves. Ji Bai smiled plainly without saying anything, but he did not deny it either.
Yao Meng was in a daze and her temple twitched as she coolly sat herself down in the seat next to Da Hu.
A little while later, Xu Xu walked in looking very composed as she naturally sat beside Ji Bai. Owing to the fact that Da Hu gave the “do not make a fuss” instruction, the others stopped smiling and pretended as though they did not see anything.
The meal was so nice that both the hosts and guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Along the way, a young criminal police officer got carried away from drinking too much and blurted out to Xu Xu, “Sister-in-law, cheers! Cheers to you!”
Xu Xu was about to reply, but Ji Bai just tugged at her sleeves. “They’re drunk, let them be. We’ll be heading back tomorrow anyway.”
Yao Meng could not hear their conversation, and she neither ate nor talked much throughout the dinner, but she always had a smile on her face.
In the afternoon, the overcast from the heavy rain made the sky so dark that it might as well have been nighttime.
This time, they stayed in a guesthouse in the county, and each of them had their own room. The sound of a group of criminal police officers noisily playing cards in a room could distinctly be heard. Yet even so, after Xu Xu drank a glass of white wine, she returned to her room and soon fell asleep.
Yao Meng sat by the window in her room and watched the rainfall. She sat there and tried listening to Ji Bai’s room which was just next door, but it was quiet. Sometime later, she left her room.
When Ji Bai opened the door, he saw Yao Meng in front of him and was rather stunned.
She wore very little — a thin white blouse and a pair of plain trousers. She seemed to have been under the rain as her long hair was dripping off her shoulders. She pierced him with her deep, intent eyes that were filled with silent yet surging emotions.
“Ji Bai.” She called out softly.
The rain was slowing down and the police station compound in the small county town appeared to become much more peaceful.
Ji Bai looked into her eyes and said, “Yao Meng, you’re an outstanding talent. As your superior and colleague, I’ll spare no effort to help you in the future, so that you will achieve greater results in your career. However, I’m sorry to say that I have no other intentions towards you.”
Yao Meng looked at him dumbfounded and understandably became embarrassed. That being said, she still wanted to clear the doubts in her head, and as such, mustered up the courage and asked awkwardly. “Is there someone else… in your heart?”
Ji Bai walked into his room after he closed the door.
Da Hu was watching a football match in his room, so he heard almost everything they had said, but he still kept quiet. It was only after some time that he said, “Yao Meng is quite a nice lady in every other aspect, but she overthinks and complicates things too much.”
Ji Bai nodded and replied, “Don’t mention this to anyone else.”
“I understand.” Da Hu knew that Ji Bai wanted to protect her image.
The two of them continued watching the football match. Then out of nowhere, Da Hu hummed a song. “You are the only one in my heart, believe me, that my heart is true to you…”
Ji Bai could not help but laugh.
As evening approached, everyone gathered at the compound to take a stroll through the night streets of Xiang Chuan Town. When Da Hu knocked on Yao Meng’s door, she said that she was tired so she did not want to go.
The air after the rain was refreshing, and though the floors were still wet, there were still plenty of people walking down the street. A group of energetic, tall, muscular men clustered around Xu Xu and Ji Bai, which attracted the attention of many passersby. Ji Bai looked very calm whereas Xu Xu was rather shy, so she lowered her head and walked quietly.
Almost ten minutes into their walk, everyone else was lively and spirited. However, Ji Bai and Xu Xu had not talked to each other at all. Suddenly, he cast a sideways glance at her and stopped. “I’m planning to buy some local specialties for my friends, would you like to go?”
Xu Xu wanted to buy some too and said, “I’ll go.”
Ji Bai looked up and asked everyone else too, “I’m going to buy some local specialties with Xu Xu. What about the rest of you?” He looked around him. When everyone’s eyes met his, they shook their heads one after another.
“We’re not going. The two of you go ahead.”
“What’s the fun in buying local specialties?”
Su Mu said, “Captain Ji, let me recommend you a shop. Their products are very good, but it’s a little bit far.”
It was quite a distance away as they only reached after walking for half an hour.
Despite that, the two of them were secretly pleased with Su Mu’s recommendation. After all, they could walk with each other for a whole night quietly and undisturbed.
After they came out from the specialty store, they stayed silent for a while. Ji Bai looked around them swiftly, then he suggested going to the riverbank. “Let’s go over there and take a look.”
The small town was surrounded by a dark green river. Over the recent years, a concrete pavement was built along it, making it look like a whitish jade belt that stretched across the waters under the night sky. The two of them walked for a while when they heard vibrant music from up ahead. They looked up and saw that there was a broad square at the end of the riverbank.
Due to the rain, there were not as many people as usual. However, the rain did not dampen the people’s passion for loving life. “Summer, summer is creeping away, after this, only sweetness is left behind…” The music echoed through the sky above the riverbank. There were nearly a hundred pairs of people. Most of them were middle-aged, dancing away under the brilliant street lights.
For a young person like Xu Xu, the scene looked warm and cute, but it was also unpleasant at the same time.
Ji Bai also felt that it would be quite unpleasant to dance in the middle of a group of middle-aged big brothers and sisters in public. Despite this, he stood in silence for a few seconds before he turned to look at Xu Xu. “Would you like to dance?”
Xu Xu replied, “Anything.”
Ji Bai casually threw the local specialties he had bought to the ground and did not think of them again, even after they left.
Xu Xu had only ever danced with Xu Juan at home. So when she lifted one hand out for Ji Bai, and placed the other on his shoulder, she felt her face get hotter.
Ji Bai grasped her little hand tightly, which was already covered in a thin layer of sweat. Meanwhile, he wrapped his other hand around the slim waist that he had looked at so many times before.
The moment he touched her waist, his heart skipped a beat as Xu Xu’s body trembled a little. Although he felt it, he said nothing and merely pulled her body closer to his.
The music was playing quite loudly, but it sounded like it was far away. Human figures moved back and forth around them, yet just like the night sky, they became an unimportant background. Xu Xu was completely wrapped up in the crook of his arm. She felt a slight dizziness as she moved about. She had never felt like this before.
As she moved her feet to the beat, she thought to herself, ‘This is what it is to be crazy in love. I’m actually crazy in love.’
In truth, the two of them were not great at dancing and their dance moves were not in sync. Although Xu Xu was not as terrible of a dancer that she would step on his leather shoes, she would accidentally go in the opposite direction from time to time. Each time this happened, she could feel Ji Bai pulling her back gently, making her fall back into his embrace again so that the distance between them was never too far apart. When he did this, he seemed to be even more imposing than usual. Xu Xu looked up at his eyes which were dark and tranquil under the night sky, hoping that she could see through him. Even though she was only feeling slightly dizzy, she could not think clearly and calmly.
One song after another.
They danced to everything from pink memories to eccentric ethnic music, back to the first snow in 2002.
When Dao Lang sang “You’re Like A Flying Butterfly”, Xu Xu suddenly felt Ji Bai suddenly pull her waist closer to him before feeling a faint breath of warm air brush against the side of her ear.
“It’s raining again, let’s go home.”
The music stopped, and the partners around the square dispersed one after another. Ji Bai let go of Xu Xu slowly, then looked around them.
Raindrops were falling and landing beside their feet as well as on their heads.
“Captain, you’re here.” Da Hu’s clear voice called out from behind the curtain of rain. “Quickly get in the car, they say that there’ll be a thunderstorm later.”
Sure enough, in the blink of an eye, the rain became heavier.
Ji Bai looked at Xu Xu. “Let’s get in the car.”
It turns out that Su Mu had gotten his car and was driving everyone around the riverbank to sightsee when they coincidentally spotted them.
A row of people returned to the police station’s compound happily. Ji Bai stood under the porch as a few young criminal police officers surrounded him to express their respect for him before parting. When Xu Xu arrived, she looked at him from across the room, separated by the dense crowd between. He seemed to have noticed her stare immediately, as he turned to look back at her with a calm yet deep gaze.
After she showered, Xu Xu crossed her legs and sat on her bed as she watched the falling raindrops outside the window.
Previously, when they were nearing the end of their dance, she felt Ji Bai lower his head. Then, the top of her head was softly touched by something.
Was it Ji Bai who kissed her hair, or was it the first drop of rain on her head?
When she thought about this, her heart started palpitating and she rushed to fling open the window. Instantly, raindrops poured in, splashing on her head drop after drop.
She sat there for a few minutes, trying to compare the sensation. Not long after, her hair was half drenched. Only then did she pull her head back in. She stroked her chin with one hand and smiled.
‘This is frustrating. Without any experience, I just can’t differentiate it.’