Chapter 1: Rear-End Collision

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April 9, 2023Merchie

On the third day of the Lunar New Year, Li Yangxiao was driving his father’s little Xiali, worming his way through the chaotic stream of traffic with difficulty.

His deskmate and secret crush in high school, Song Chang, was sitting in the passenger seat, holding up a diamond ring and examining it with squinted eyes.
After a long while, he commented: “The diamond doesn’t look as shiny as it did in the store earlier.”

“The lights in the store are pretty bright,” Li Yangxiao cast the ring a sidelong glance, “It’s not bad though, it was 50,000, after all.
My sister-in-law has a discerning eye for the value of goods.”

Song Chang carefully placed the ring back into its box.
His fingers brushed over the box’s crimson velvet surface, and he laughed in embarrassment: “Mm… it’s actually pretty disturbing.”

Li Yangxiao also laughed.
Just as he was about to reply, Song Chang’s phone rang.
Song Chang answered the call, and spoke in a silky tone to the person on the other end:

“I’m with Yangxiao… Mm, we drank a bit… No, I was just happy to see my buddy … Ah? You cut your hand, are you all right? Why weren’t you more careful… does it still hurt?”

Li Yangxiao stared at the rear of the car in front of him, and his brows knitted almost imperceptibly.
He felt the urge to turn on the car radio, but fearing that it would expose the annoyance at the bottom of his heart, he restrained himself.

The faint scent of alcohol was spreading through the car; it was coming from Song Chang.

The two had not seen each other in a year and a half.
When they met for lunch, Song Chang had brought a bottle of red wine with him.
Li Yangxiao had driven, and his tolerance for alcohol was not the best; when he drank too much, he would break into rashes, so he sat at the side and watched Song Chang drink.

Song Chang drank until his cheeks were flushed red.
He poured his heart out to Li Yangxiao; in the end, he dropped a bombshell, saying that he was planning on proposing to his girlfriend, Cai Shan.
Li Yangxiao’s smile immediately dropped, and he was thoroughly stunned for a few seconds.
But he tried his best to keep up appearances1 and endured the sadness in his heart.
Not only did he congratulate him profusely on the spot, but he also warmly offered to accompany Song Chang to the jewelry store to pick out an engagement ring after lunch.

When Li Yangxiao was picking out the ring, his thoughts were not nearly that pure.
He purposely picked an expensive one: 50,000 yuan; for Li Yangxiao, who was in an assload of debt, this was already very pricey.
He could not explain what was going through his head at the time either; perhaps he wanted to see a hint of embarrassment flit across Song Chang’s expression, so as to degrade the grand image of Song Chang he had in his mind.
Perhaps he wanted to hear Song Chang express even the slightest bit of reluctance, so that he could prove that Song Chang did not love his girlfriend that much.

But Song Chang did not even blink, and quickly swiped his card.

“Let’s go with this one.
Yangxiao, your eye’s better than mine… I trust you.” Song Chang had said this before he swiped his card.

“I’ve prepared a surprise for you… That’s right, you definitely won’t be able to guess what it is! Ai, no… wrong, still wrong, you’re such a dummy, stop guessing…” Song Chang’s phone call dragged on and on.

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Li Yangxiao grew more and more annoyed as he listened, and thought to himself: people who are in love really do find idiots to be delightful.

The rear of the car in front of them finally moved a short distance away.
Li Yangxiao lightly stepped on the accelerator; the little Xiali drove slowly for less than 10 meters, before Li Yangxiao stomped on the brakes and stopped the car.

In the next second, an extremely loud “bang–” sounded, and the car shook furiously for a moment.

Beside him, Song Chang was still holding his phone.
He shot a shocked glance at Li Yangxiao, “W-what exploded?”

“Fuck!” Li Yangxiao quickly figured out what had happened, and glanced back as he said, “Damn it, we’ve been rear-ended!”

Song Chang was probably very intoxicated at this point.
His face was full of confusion, and he froze for a moment before he regained his senses.
The faint sound of someone’s voice came from the phone, and Song Chang turned toward it and said: “It’s fine, it’s fine, we got rear-ended, we’re fine…”

It had happened so suddenly.
Li Yangxiao was stunned for a few seconds, before he felt a slight pain in his heart2.
He had probably been frightened by the thunderous noise earlier.

Li Yangxiao’s terror had calmed slightly, but rage immediately rushed up into his throat.
When he saw that beside him, Song Chang was still murmuring into his phone: “It’s okay, it’s okay, babe…”, his fury flooded out.
He angrily shoved open the car door and walked quickly toward the car behind them.
He cursed: “Fuck, how can you drive like that, are you blind?! My…” He had not finished speaking when the owner of that car stepped out.

That man had a buzz cut.
His shoulders were wide, and his legs were long; he was at least 1.85 meters.
The contours of his face were sharp, and his eyes looked especially fierce and cutting.
He wore a slight frown, his expression filled with the same irritation as Li Yangxiao’s.

At the same moment, Li Yangxiao also caught a full view of the car–it was a black Porsche Cayenne.

So, his anger immediately subsided quite a bit, and he said his next few words with a pale face: “… The bumper’s been crushed to pieces…”

However, Li Yangxiao quickly realized that he was in the right in this situation.
Although the man in front of him did not look like someone to mess with, he had no way to vent his rage, so Li Yangxiao planned on going all out–and give the owner of that Cayenne a thorough scolding.

Li Yangxiao had just opened his mouth, but before he could utter a single word, Chi Mingyao–the owner of that Cayenne–spoke first, in a tone that was also filled with suppressed anger: “The car behind me hit me.”

“Ah?” Li Yangxiao froze.

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Chi Mingyao did not answer him, instead walking to the rear of his car and glancing over it.

Li Yangxiao’s gaze passed over to the area behind the Cayenne; only then did he realize that this was a chain of rear-end collisions–three cars had crashed into each other, and the Cayenne had become the filling of the sandwich cookie.
He walked over as well, and caught a clear view of the culprit: it was a Honda.

At this moment, the driver of the Honda also stepped out of the car, wearing a distraught expression.
He looked quite young, like a high school student.
The other two teenagers who came out also looked panicked, staring at the Cayenne’s rear, at a loss.

As the unlucky filling of the sandwich cookie, the Cayenne actually had not sustained too much damage during the crash.
There was only a slight dent on the bumper, and a small patch of paint had been rubbed off.
Compared to Li Yangxiao’s little Xiali, the damage to the Cayenne was minimal.
But with the price dangling over its head, fixing minimal damage would probably cost more than a dozen little Xialis.

Chi Mingyao bent over and stared at the dented area for a few seconds, before he straightened up and took out a cigarette.
He slowly lit it, blew out a puff of smoke, before he asked that group of boys: “What happened?”

“Ge3, I really didn’t do it on purpose…” The boy who had been driving looked like he was about to cry, “We’ve never been out in the world before, so when we saw there was a Cayenne in front of us, we started joking around.
We weren’t paying attention for a second and we crashed… I’m sorry, Ge… All of us are still students…”

“Got it.” It was obvious that Chi Mingyao did not want to listen to his nonsensical excuses.
He tapped the ash out of his cigarette and interrupted him, “It’s no use crying to me about it.
This car is my friend’s.
I need to make a call first.”

Chi Mingyao walked a few steps to the side of the road, took out his phone and dialed a number.
The boy turned his face away, wiping it a few times with the back of his hand; he was crying.

Li Yangxiao had originally planned on directing his anger toward that little rascal, but the boy was crying silently in a way that made him unable to bear to do so.
He was also quite good-looking.
As a connoisseur of beautiful faces, Li Yangxiao simply quashed his fiery rage, and even took a few photos of the boy’s shoulders, before comforting him: “Hey, as long as everyone’s okay…”

“It would’ve been better if I had died in the crash,” The boy turned his face away, his voice choked with sobs, “Where am I going to get the money to pay him…”

Li Yangxiao’s chest had been suffocated by a ball of rage, but because that sentence carried a tinge of sadness, he sighed, and walked to the back of his little Xiali.
He squatted down and examined the dented area, before he grabbed the trunk lid, opening and closing it a few times.

At this moment, Song Chang also got out of the car, still holding his phone; it appeared that he had finished consoling his girlfriend.
He walked to Li Yangxiao’s side, and asked about the situation, before he comforted him: “As long as everyone’s all right, your car is insured…”

As he spoke, he looked up and spotted the car behind the Xiali, and blurted: “What the fuck! Yangxiao, this Cayenne crashed into you?!”

In this small town, Mercedes-Benz and BMW were still uncommon, let alone a Cayenne “in the flesh”.
Within a few seconds, the crowd that had witnessed the luxury car get hit formed a large circle.
Li Yangxiao’s little Xiali, which hardly ever attracted the attention of a crowd, was now shivering in front of the Cayenne, utterly disgraced.

Li Yangxiao did not think that the little Xiali was embarrassing at all.
His mind was filled with the scene of his father, pointing at the tip of his nose and chastising “you wasteful thing”; it was quite a lousy feeling.

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The voice of the driver of the Cayenne on the side of the road was blown in and out of Li Yangxiao’s ears by the wind: “Everyone, I’m sorry, the car was hit on both sides… Mm, it was rear-ended.
There aren’t any big problems with the front, but the rear bumper is a little dented … All right, do you want to take a look? I’m at Hengmao…”

Song Chang also overheard this.
He turned and asked Li Yangxiao in shock: “That’s not his car?”

“It’s his friend’s,” Li Yangxiao cast the man a glance, and said, “Judging by how well he’s handling the situation, he’s probably another big shot4.”

Song Chang nodded and said: “Right, birds of a feather flock together… Achoo!” He rubbed his nose, before he sneezed again, “–Achoo!”

“You’re not sick, are you? Sit in the car, there’s nothing much going on out here.
Let’s wait for the traffic police to take care of it.” As Li Yangxiao spoke, he grabbed Song Chang’s shoulder, and shoved him into the car, leaving no room for protest.

Chi Mingyao’s call had ended; he walked over to the boy who had been driving behind him and said: “My friend will come here in a bit to take a look.” Then, he leaned against the car door to smoke.

Li Yangxiao was squatting by the side of the road, smoking, when he happened to catch a glimpse of Chi Mingyao’s side profile.
It was dusk, and night had not yet fallen.
Chi Mingyao was wearing a crisp black overcoat and was smoking leisurely.
The contours of his face were deep, and the lines from the brow bone to the bridge of the nose were particularly smooth and beautiful.
Judging from his height and appearance, he almost looked like he was mixed-race.

Li Yangxiao had not seen a handsome man with such vivid features in a long time.
For a moment, he forgot to avert his eyes, transfixed.

Chi Mingyao’s expression appeared calm, but in truth, he was also quite vexed.
A single Cayenne did not mean much to him, but the issue was that this car was not his; it was Xu Yan’s.
His and Xu Yan’s relationship could not be considered very good, but after he heard that Chi Mingyao would be staying in W City for three days, he insisted on lending him his new Cayenne.

Now, this was just great.
The car had been crashed; even if it was fixed, he would owe Xu Yan a big favor, and that made Chi Mingyao feel very irritated.
And at this very moment, he was even more irritated; not far away, the owner of the Xiali had been staring at him for quite a long while.

Was he trying to pick a fight, or blackmail him? Chi Mingyao could not keep himself from turning his head to meet Li Yangxiao’s stare.

In the instant when their eyes met, Chi Mingyao realized that Li Yangxiao did not seem to harbor any ill intentions, since he quickly averted his gaze; there was even the uneasiness of being discovered hanging on his face.

Chi Mingyao frowned.
He thought that this man looked very familiar; it seemed like he had seen him somewhere before, but at this moment, he could not recall where.

He put out his cigarette and walked up to Li Yangxiao, towering over him.

Li Yangxiao was nervous for a moment.
He did not know why Chi Mingyao had suddenly walked over.
This man’s demeanor was too intense, and it made him feel a sense of pressure.
He felt someone’s gaze over his head shooting daggers down at him, so he lifted his head and looked at Chi Mingyao, before he asked: “What’s up?”

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“Just now, what were you looking at?” Chi Mingyao asked expressionlessly.

Li Yangxiao looked at him, and the “The fuck are you looking at? So what if I was looking at you!” joke happened to flash through his mind, before he let out a rather inappropriate laugh.
He even choked on the smoke that he had inhaled, and coughed for a long while before he managed to stop.

“N-nothing–cough cough,” Li Yangxiao waved the smoke out of his eyes in embarrassment, “Cough cough cough–“

Chi Mingyao was a bit speechless.
He took a step to the side, and asked straightforwardly: “Have I seen you somewhere before?”

Li Yangxiao’s coughs stopped.

In that instant, he almost cried from joy; this was his first time getting recognized! Although it did not seem like he had made much of an impression, he still made an impression!

He raised his head and looked at Chi Mingyao with a face full of disbelief, and asked dumbly: “Was it in a movie?”

“You’re an actor?” Chi Mingyao asked.

Li Yangxiao nodded furiously, his expression full of eagerness as he looked at Chi Mingyao, hoping that in the next second, he would name a film that he had acted in.

But Chi Mingyao only “oh”d indifferently and did not say anything more.

Chi Mingyao watched the expression of the man in front of him change, and the corners of his lips twitched imperceptibly.
He did not watch movies often, and even when he did, they were older films, so he was sure that he had not seen this person in a movie.
However, since he said that he was an actor, that made things easier–Although Chi Mingyao was not too interested in movie stars, people in his friend group would occasionally bring a few rising stars to get-togethers.
It was very likely that the man in front of him had slept with one of his friends before.
When Chi Mingyao thought of this, his eyes drifted down to Li Yangxiao once more.

To his credit, this man was actually quite attractive.
Although he sounded a bit stupid when he spoke, he had a cool aura about him when he kept his mouth shut.
His eyes were especially beautiful–it seemed like he matched the tastes of a few of his friends.

Li Yangxiao’s hopeful expression had already disappeared.
At this moment, he could not help but feel a bit disappointed.
Earlier, in that instant, he had thought that he had encountered a fan–so far, this type of creature had never once appeared in his life.

打肿脸充胖子 (dǎ zhǒng liǎn chōng pàng zi): “to beat one’s face swollen so one can pass as a fat man”.
It means to do things that are very difficult to save yourself any embarrassment. Referring to the organ (心脏) 哥: In some contexts, it can be “bro”, but usually it just refers to a male that’s older than you, but not by too much. 壕 (háo): Short for 土豪 (ostentatious rich person).

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