“To understand this story, you’ll first need to know what type of person Xiao Lan is.” Saying this, he gave a lopsided smile, clearly about to stuff the other side with dog food. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that there is nothing she can’t do if she puts her mind to it and nothing she can’t get interested in either. But because of this, she’s always had trouble deciding on what to do. It’s like there are too many things to choose from and she’d love to do everything.”
Zhao Chen nodded. He had never had that problem but he knew people like this. They often had exactly this problem even if it wasn’t this exaggerated. But then, that part might also just be him overstating matters.
Si Tao was happy when he saw a good reaction and carried on with his story. “Of course, Xiao Lan isn’t the type of person that is content with just drifting about. She just finds ways to make the most of everything. For example, she went and studied anthropology because it’s such a wide field.”
Zhao Chen raised his brows at that and turned to Tong Lan. “That sounds awesome. Did you finish your studies already?”
Tong Lan nodded. “Mn. Two years ago, actually. It’s a pity I didn’t get to work in the field yet but we figured it would be better with how things currently are. I’m using the time to prepare more so I’ll have the best possible starting point after things calm down.”
Si Tao hastily cleared his throat. While he didn’t mind discussing their current situation, he wasn’t finished with his story yet.
Tong Lan laughed and motioned toward him. “Well, I’ll tell you later if you want to know more. Better let him tell you the rest. He hates being interrupted.”
“Must be because he’s used to being the boss …” Zhao Chen only mumbled under his breath, feeling that he couldn’t muster any surprise. Still, he didn’t mind hearing the rest. Clearly, this was a very good starting point to get to know these two better.
Si Tao naturally wouldn’t waste time now that the attention was back on him. “Anyway, Xiao Lan was originally studying in Hohhot. As luck would have it, I was in Shanxi for a business meeting at that time and decided to add a small vacation at the end, just taking a look at some of the bigger cities in Shanxi. Now, you’re probably wondering how we met when I was in Shanxi and she was in Inner Mongolia.”
Li Ming and Zhao Chen did him the favor of not shaking their heads. Actually, they hadn’t thought about that at all and just figured that he would have traveled there as well or that she was on a trip herself.
Si Tao smiled brightly, just taking their silence as acquiescence. “I went to Shuozhou toward the end of my trip. In fact, it might not be wrong to say that it could have been my last stop. In the end, it turned out differently.”
Li Ming smiled. “Don’t tell us that’s where you met sister Tong.”
Si Tao clicked his tongue. “Don’t be a spoilsport! That’s my story to tell.”
Li Ming just chuckled but fell silent.
Si Tao pursed his lips but then still went on. “Indeed, that’s where we met. I don’t know how familiar you are with the cultural sites of Shuozhou but there is so much to see! Of course, that is the kind of place that would attract an up-and-coming anthropologist. So, it should not come as a surprise that we ran into each other while we visited the ancient ruins.”
Tong Lan nodded along. “We were actually on holiday at that time so I went out to visit some of the historical sites in the nearby regions. I did that throughout all of my studies.”
“I guess you could say the two of you were really lucky then. Meeting like that isn’t easy.”
Tong Lan laughed. “It’s not easy at all, yes. And you know what’s worse?”
Zhao Chen raised his brows, wondering what it could be.
“When Ah Tao saw me, he knew I was the one. At the very least, that’s what he said. On the other hand, when I saw him I only thought ‘What a creep! Is he following me around? I should get out of here!’ So then, I tried to get away from him.”
Si Tao smiled wryly. “You’d think she had better taste. What’s creepy about me?”
Li Ming laughed. “I think it’s not anything about you per se but following somebody around a historical site or … anywhere really, isn’t such a good look. I’d have thought the same.”
Si Tao clicked his tongue. “What are you doing? I thought we were friends!”
Li Ming just laughed again. “Yes, yes, we are. But friends call each other out for misbehavior. If it really was bad enough for sister Tong to notice, you definitely went overboard.”
“Aiya, you guys are much too complicated. I just wanted to ask for her number but she was further in the front and walking around so I had to catch up first. And then, she started to walk even faster in the other direction. I was getting anxious there that I might lose here!”
Zhao Chen looked from one person to the other, silently reminding himself that they had managed to get engaged. “So … in the end, what did you do to get out of that situation?”
Si Tao cleared his throat, his expression turning a bit awkward. “Well, I figured out after a moment what was happening. After all, it’s not like I’m totally clueless. I’m usually not seen that way so it didn’t occur to me at first but I’ve seen enough women do a speed-walk out of some creep’s sight to get a clue when Xiao Lan did the same. So I realized that I had to do something to not seem like a creep who was stalking her around.”
Zhao Chen raised his brows, this time indeed intrigued. Even while not being in the situation himself, he couldn’t think of a single thing to do. Yelling out ‘I’m not a creep, please wait!’ surely wouldn’t help, would it?
Si Tao didn’t answer but Tong Lan suddenly chuckled. “Oh, you wouldn’t believe it! I was trying not to glance over my shoulder to see whether he was there and just scanning my surroundings for a way out where I could get away from him for real when, suddenly, a man behind me yells very loudly ‘Excuse me, where’s the bathroom?! It’s urgent!’”