The next day, Xu Qin slept the entire morning again, felt recovered, and was planning on returning to Zong Lu Gardens after eating lunch at home. Before lunchtime, a guest arrived at the house, Jiang Yu. He said he came to look for Meng Yanchen, but the latter had gone out with Xiao Yixiao.

Fu Wenying called Xu Qin downstairs to greet the guests.

Jiang Yu looked Xu Qin up and down, saw that she was looking much thinner, and asked: “Have you recovered from your cold?”

Xu Qin said: “For the most part. Thank you for the flowers you sent.”

Jiang Yu smiled: “Are you this polite with everyone?”

Xu Qin said: “It’s always better to be polite.”

Jiang Yu didn’t comment further, seeing her rubbing her fingers unconsciously, and as there was sawdust on her fingers, asked: “What were you doing before coming downstairs?”

Xu Qin: “Carving some small things.”

“You even know how to carve?” Jiang Yu was obviously a little surprised, “Stone, or––”

“Wood.” Xu Qin said.

“Can I see some of your work?”

“Let’s go.”

Xu Qin’s room was very large, with a dedicated living room that was separated from the bedroom area with a screen. Her desk was full of small carvings: small animals, flowers, plants, and people, all lifelike.

Jiang Yu inspected them one by one with great interest. Xu Qin sat down in front of the desk, picked up the unfinished carving and a knife, and said: “I won’t entertain you any further.”

Jiang Yu: “Okay, I’ll help myself.”

Halfway, Xu Qin suddenly asked: “Do you like me?” As she spoke, she carved the wood without raising her head.

Jiang Yu, surprised by her question, froze for a moment, thought for a second, and said: “I have a favorable impression of you, but wouldn’t call it like.”

Xu Qin raised her eyes and asked directly: “Can you accept marrying me?”

Jiang Yu scratched the back of his head, but he didn’t feel embarrassed: “To be honest, for me to get married, it’ll be someone from a well-matched family, it doesn’t matter who.”

“I’m envious–– I can’t do it.” Xu Qin smiled, lowering her head to carve, “I have someone I like.”

Jiang Yu leaned against the desk, picked up a small wooden kitten, and asked: “Your parents object?”


“Then what are you going to do?” Jiang Yu was curious, completely forgetting that the two were on a blind date.

This question stumped Xu Qin.

It was in this room last night, after Xiao Yixiao finished listening to what she had to say, he raised his head and stared at the ceiling for a long time, and finally sighed: “Then you should just give it a try.”

“If you don’t try, you won’t be resigned to give up. If you’ve given it a try, even if you end up badly hurt, at least you’ll be able to accept things more wholeheartedly when you come back and follow your mother’s arrangement, won’t you?”

How could things be as simple as what he said, Song Yan had refused.

It was also in this room, on that Saturday many years ago, Meng Yanchen angrily barricaded her at home and forbade her to go meet up with Song Yan.

She didn’t yell, didn’t argue, she just repeated the same sentence over and over: “I’m going to go meet up with Song Yan. I promised Song Yan that I was going to play with him today.”

She knew that Song Yan was angry, very very angry. If she went to look for him, he would forgive her. But if she didn’t go, something bad would happen.

Meng Yanchen blocked her, and locked her in at home. She escaped by climbing down a tree through the window on the second floor.

But now, it wouldn’t be that easy anymore.

Xu Qin would not run to find Song Yan immediately like Xiao Yixiao said. Song Yan would refuse, and the relationship between them would only deteriorate further.

Whether she really has thought it through clearly, and what she should do after thinking things through, all required a process.

“I used to think too much and do too little; now I don’t want to think so much, and just be myself––” Xu Qin looked up at Jiang Yu and said, “I want to do things that make me happy, let nature take its course, and see what lies ahead in the future.”


Xu Qin returned to Zong Lu Gardens, sat alone on her balcony and smoked a cigarette. Downstairs, Wu Fang Street was bustling and lively; Zong Lu Gardens was calm and quiet, with withered grass and yellow trees.

After she finished smoking a cigarette, she contacted the housekeeper and inquired about all the hydro, gas, heating, and property fees, taking notes in a notebook. She also settled all the fees for phone, car, maintenance, gas, clothing, food, housing, transportation, and daily necessities for the past couple of months.

She didn’t have the habit of keeping accounts, so she could only make educated guesses for many of them. After spending more than an hour alone at the coffee table, she finally came up with some rough estimates. It wasn’t too expensive.

But if you included everything in the house, everything in the closets and dressers, it would be a headache.

Xu Qin sighed.

The house didn’t have the heating turned on, so it was freezing cold. Xu Qin sniffed, her cold still not fully recovered, the residual effects were drowsiness, so all she wanted to do was sleep.

The weather forecast said that it would be clear tomorrow, so she planned to have a good night’s sleep, recharge her energy, and go for a walk in the forest park tomorrow.

Xu Qin returned to the bedroom, closed the door, drew the thick black curtains to block the light, and turned the room into a black box isolated from the outside world. 

She climbed into bed and pulled up the blankets, covered her head, and closed her eyes without thinking about anything.

This sleep was more stable than the one at the Meng family’s house.

The siren was blazing. Xu Qin thought she was dreaming, why did she confusedly dream of the fire alarm? But there was a faint smokey smell. This dream felt too real.

Xu Qin opened her eyes, the room was pitch black, the sirens were blasting outside.

It was real.

She immediately turned on the desk lamp, strode to the window, and drew the curtains. The thick smoke outside the window was like a screen, covering the sky and the sun.

The upper floors were on fire, just below her home.

She quickly put on her clothes, took her keys and phone, walked to the entrance hall, and heard the screeching fire alarm in the hallway. Today was a weekday, and most residents were not at home.

Just as she was about to open the door, there was a knock, accompanied by a man’s shout: “Is anyone there?”

It was Song Yan.

Xu Qin was unprepared, her heart skipped a beat.

“2701, is there anyone inside?!”

Xu Qin quickly unscrewed the locks and opened the door.

“Hello, we are……” Song Yan saw Xu Qin’s face, paused for half a second, then continued quickly, “Shi Li Tai fire squadron. 2601 downstairs is on fire. Because it’s a duplex building, the fire on the first floor was too large, and the door couldn’t be broken into for the time being. According to the owner, there is a child at home, we want to go downstairs from your balcony, is that okay?”

Xu Qin opened the door completely, and stepped aside: “Please come in.”

“Thank you.” Song Yan glanced at her briefly and then looked away. At such a critical moment, he had no time to form any extra thoughts about her. Song Yan turned around and gestured to the team members behind him. Several firefighters quickly entered the house and rushed to the balcony to set up ropes. Several other firefighters went into Xu Qin’s house to lay down water pipes, Xiao Ge opened the fire hydrant in the corridor. 

Song Yan: “Call the water company to increase the water pressure in these pipes.”

Xiao Ge: “Got it.”

Song Yan carried the fire extinguisher on his back: “Tong Ming, Fan Yang, you two come downstairs with me. The rest wait for instructions.”

“Got it.”

Song Yan led the other two team members quickly through the living room. Xu Qin was standing in the middle of the living room, she quickly stepped back to make way for him, and watched him pass by.

Xu Qin turned around and saw that he had tied a rope to his body. Without any other protective measures, he stepped on the balcony railing, and went over to the outside of the building.

This was the 27th floor.

Xu Qin was hit by the flowing cold wind and shivered. She ran to the balcony on the second floor and looked down. The downstairs below was a concrete floor, and the cars parked in the yard looked like small squares. Just looking at it made one’s knees feel weak.

Song Yan held the safety rope with both hands, legs kicked against the wall and quickly descended next to a window on the 26th floor. The 26th floor had a sealed balcony made from tempered glass. There were only two small windows that could be opened from either side, however due to heavy smog a few days ago, the windows had been closed.

Song Yan clenched the rope tightly with one hand, quickly wrapping his wrist around the rope a couple of times. With his other hand, he retrieved the safety hammer from his body and smashed the glass with it. He smashed several times, put away the hammer, held the rope with both hands, stepped against the glass, bent his knees, and kicked the glass hard. He bounced off the glass into the air, then accelerated back down, kicking the glass again with both feet, making a bang.

After going back and forth four or five times, he swung in the air like a pendulum, slamming into the glass again and again.

Xu Qin kept a close eye on the rope, for fear that it wouldn’t be able to sustain the force and break. If you fell here, you would die on the spot.

With a bang, Song Yan kicked the window open, and his whole body broke through the glass and rolled into the room. A plume of thick smoke shot out into the sky.

The rope also flew out quickly, empty, the person nowhere to be seen.

The other two also followed suit.

Xu Qin was terrified, she took a deep breath in the cold wind and was instantly choked to tears by the thick smoke.

Song Yan entered the scene of the fire and quickly found the bedroom. While putting out the fire with a fire extinguisher, he searched the closet and the bottom of the bed, but didn’t find any trace of the child, even searched the bathroom. The entire second floor was empty.

On the balcony of Xu Qin’s house, Yang Chi passed the water hose to Tong Ming downstairs. Xiao Ge opened the locks, the tap water quickly filled the hose and rushed into the scene of the fire.

Song Yan ordered Tong Ming to stay on the second floor to put out the fire, then told Xiao Ge and Li Cheng to come down to support Tong Ming, while he and Fan Yang went down to the first floor.

The fire was raging in the stairwell from the second floor to the first floor, Song Yan took the fire extinguisher to clear the way. Just as he walked up the steps, the floor beneath him gave way; the wooden boards had burned through and he fell down to the first floor.

Fan Yang shouted: “Captain! Are you okay?”

Song Yan was wearing heavy protective gear, he got up with some difficulty and made a gesture that he was fine.

Fan Yang followed and jumped into the flames.

The interior decorations of this house were all made of flammable materials. The wooden floors, tables, chairs, wine cabinets, carpets, curtains, and wallpaper were all on fire. The toxic gas surged with the black smoke, which was pungent and tearing. The flames and smoke singed their throats.

Song Yan searched the bedroom, bathroom, and utility room downstairs, even the burning bed boards and bookcases, but still couldn’t find the child.

The heat from the fire surged, the air crackled.

Fan Yang came out of the kitchen and shouted loudly: “The fire started from the kitchen stove. Probably the kid was bored at home by himself, and played with matches that set the house on fire.”

Song Yan came out of the bathroom, there was still no sign of the child. Just as he was leaving, the door panel behind him burned through and fell, hitting his head. Song Yan opened the door behind him and walked towards the living room.

Fan Yang: “The fire on the first floor is too big. Let’s go upstairs and flush water down from above to put out the fire.”

Song Yan turned over the sofa: “Find the child first.”

As he was talking, he lifted the sofa, and the flames started to burn up the ceiling.

Song Yan backed away quickly: “Fuck.”

Fan Yang: “Could the kid have hid on the second floor? The fire started in the kitchen on the first floor, so it’s reasonable that he could have run upstairs. Let’s go up first, we can’t stay here, the temperature is too high.”

The two of them were already roasting at high temperatures, and wearing heavy firefighter suits, they had already been sweating a lot.

Song Yan thought for a second, and felt that what Fan Yang said made sense. Returning to the stairway, Fan Yang was about to call their teammates upstairs, when Song Yan suddenly stopped: “No, the stairs here were also an ignition point.”

There were already ashes at the bottom of the stairs,

“That kid didn’t have any way of going upstairs, he’s still on the first floor.”

Song Yan turned back towards the scene of the fire and scanned around. He wondered where the child could have hid, he had checked everywhere already. The flames filled the whole room, the first floor was completely blackened, the leaves on the balcony were even being dried by the flames.

Song Yan was taken aback for a moment, then strode towards the first floor balcony.

There were two or three money trees planted there. Song Yan pushed aside the dried branches, and saw a little boy curled up behind a porcelain pot, falling unconscious.

Song Yan quickly protected the child in his arms, rushed across the scene of the fire, and went back up to the second floor using the ropes handed down by his team members. The fire on the second floor had just been extinguished, Xiao Ge and the others took the water hose down to the first floor to continue putting it out.


Xu Qin stood on the second floor balcony of her house and looked down. There was thick smoke billowing below. The firefighters went inside one by one, but no one came out even after a long time.

The cold wind and thick smoke alternated, Xu Qin shivered and sweat.

At a certain moment, a hand reached out and grabbed the safety rope, wrapping around several times. Song Yan’s voice was hoarse, and he shouted: “Pull!”

Everyone on the balcony pulled the safety rope together, and Song Yan rose from the billowing smoke with a child in his arms.

Xu Qin looked at him and suddenly knew that she was in the wrong. He was such a good person.

Song Yan looked up, and past the faces of his team members, he saw Xu Qin’s face higher up, pale and startled. Half of her upper body leaned out of the railing, her gaze impatient and tense, with a trace of inexplicable pain.

Their eyes met, the emotions in her gaze were completely wiped clean, and she looked at him straightforwardly.

Song Yan also looked at her, with a look of understanding, she immediately retracted her body, and quickly ran to the stairs leading to the first floor.