Always By Your Side - Chapter 4.2
Chapter 4: Reunited at the First Acquaintance
That day Yuanyuan benefited greatly. Not only did she get to see many of the real objects from Gaoling Village that had been mentioned in her materials, but also under the guidance of her two famous “specialized tour guides”, she learned about the specific purpose and usefulness of each object, which she never would have comprehended with just her materials.
Regarding this great master’s information, Yuanyuan had naturally looked over it before coming, but she was unable to understand the fundamental parts. The only thing that had left a profound impression on her was the porcelain master Tong Binwan from the Wanli period of the Ming Dynasty, who had died in the kiln. Even though she was later conferred the title “Immortal Master of Wind and Fire” to accept generations and generations of kiln workers’ sacrifices, Yuanyuan still thought that her story was far too tragic—so tragic, that she often felt a lingering emotion rising up in her heart at once.
Nowadays, because many of the kilns and furnaces had been restored, Master Wang Jiawen had turned into an irreplaceably busy man. Therefore, it was difficult to meet him. This time Yuanyuan was able to pay a visit to Master Wang, and naturally this was by depending on Fu Beichen and Boss Gao’s face. The old master who had surpassed seventy years of age and Fu Beichen seemed to have known each other for a very long time, and the manner of speech that came from the old man was great praise towards Fu Beichen.
Not long after Yuanyuan interviewed Master Wang, there was a car already waiting for him outside. Yuanyuan understood that the old master was very busy and didn’t have the nerve to ask any more questions, hurriedly concluding the interview. After Master Wang left, it was not too early anymore. The three of them stayed in Gaoling Village and tried to find a family restaurant for dinner.
When returning to Gao Ling’s place, Yuanyuan sat in Fu Beichen’s car. As soon as she got into the car, she immediately smelled the faint fragrance of sandalwood. Soon after, she saw a stone lotus flower hanging in the car. She let out a sound of surprise, looked towards Fu Beichen, and then made another sound of enlightenment.
“What?” Fu Beichen tilted his head to look at her.
She shook her head: “No, it’s nothing.” There was no need to talk about minor details with someone she’d had a chance encounter with.
Later on the road, Yuanyuan flipped through the notes she had recorded, and couldn’t help but sigh sorrowfully: “As expected, studying ten thousand books is inferior to traveling ten thousand roads. Of course, if the road has a master to guide the way, then that’s even better, like a tiger that has grown wings.”
Fu Beichen heard this as he was driving and couldn’t help but smile.
When they arrived at Gao Ling’s place, after the two of them got out of the car, Fu Beichen asked: “Are you going back to Jinghai tomorrow?”
“Yes. Ai, tonight I have to work against the clock to write my manuscript.” Tonight she would write it, tomorrow she would go back and revise it, and the day after tomorrow she would hand it to the editor-in-chief for trial…It wouldn’t be such a miserable death, right? Yuanyuan was still a little bit uncertain.
“Tonight I’m also staying here. I’m leaving tomorrow.”
Yuanyuan spoke joyfully: “Then if I have any questions, it’s okay to consult you, right?”
“Naturally you can.” Fu Beichen smiled, then paused and said in a voice that wasn’t too fast nor too slow, “Tomorrow you can also go home in my car.”
“That’s really great!” Yuanyuan felt that this time in Jingdezhen, having a chance encounter with Fu Beichen was simply too lucky.
In the evening Gao Ling lent his work counter to Cheng Yuanyuan and dragged Fu Beichen out for a midnight snack. Gao Ling’s large work counter was especially easy to use. Yuanyuan turned on her computer and took out her notebook as well as the materials she had brought along. She spread them out beside her, prepared to reference them frequently.
The mountains at night were somewhat cold. Yuanyuan had previously finished showering and was wearing a black sleeveless dress. At this time, she felt a chill on her shoulders. She stood up, wanting to exercise for warmth, but who knew it would bring a burst of wind. The materials on the desk were blown away. She crouched down to gather them, and a moment later, someone bent down to collect the very last piece of paper.
“How’s the writing?” It was Fu Beichen.
“Almost done.” Yuanyuan looked up at him. Without any reason, she felt a burst of happiness. As she moved to stand up, her head knocked against the corner of the table.
Yi, how come it doesn’t hurt? She glanced up suspiciously, only to find that Fu Beichen had employed his hand at the right time to block her from hitting the corner of the table.
“Sorry! I’m sorry, are you alright?” She took a look at his reddening hand and didn’t know what to do.
“It’s nothing.” Fu Beichen withdrew his hand, and after she responded with a shallow smile he asked: “Will you have any problems writing?”
“Yes, uh, no, I won’t.” Yuanyuan felt very apologetic towards him, and also embarrassed to trouble him once more.
Unexpectedly, Fu Beichen seemed to be empathetic and walked towards her notebook, asking: “Can I take a look?”
After receiving Yuanyuan’s nod of approval, he really sat down and earnestly read it from beginning to end. During this period of time, Yuanyuan stared fixedly at his side profile. Her heart couldn’t help but think: What kind of family was capable of teaching such a person?
Outside the door, a gust of wind blew in, and she involuntarily shivered.
Fu Beichen lifted his head from the backlight of the screen and inquired: “Are you cold?”
If he hadn’t been paying attention to her all the time, he would not have noticed such details.
But Yuanyuan didn’t think much of it, bending her eyes into a smile and saying: “It’s fine. Right, where is Teacher Gao and the others?”
“He got drunk, I let Xiao Li drag him to his room to sleep.”
When Yuanyuan heard this, she couldn’t restrain herself from laughing out loud: “You’re living in his house, and you treat him like that?”
Fu Beichen only shook his head and said: “The wine was really bad.” After saying so, he also said: “The mountains are cold at night, you should go add a coat. I’ll stay here and help you keep watch.” He spoke so gently that Yuanyuan felt she couldn’t completely refute. Without any better option, she obediently went upstairs.
When she came back downstairs, she saw that Fu Beichen had already tidied up the table.
“I think your report is not bad. I altered it a little, tomorrow you can take a look.” Fu Beichen finished speaking, turned off the computer, and closed it shut.
“Puchi,” Yuanyuan laughed. “You’ve turned it off, I have no choice but to listen to you.”
Fu Beichen raised his head to look at her and asked: “Shall we go for a walk?”
“Alright,” Yuanyuan gladly accepted.
The courtyard was filled with burnt and broken porcelain, vases and pots, large and small, all kinds were there. The moonlight was like water, and each piece of porcelain stood proud and aloof, emitting a cold light as if they had left behind a lifetime to stand alone.
Fu Beichen stood for a long time, gazing at those badly damaged artworks, his expression in the dim lighting hard to distinguish.
“Why doesn’t Teacher Gao just take care of these defective pieces by reducing the price?” Yuanyuan asked in a low voice.
For a long time, Fu Beichen didn’t say anything. Just when Yuanyuan thought he hadn’t heard her, she heard him slowly recite one line: “Porcelain is like jade, it’s better to be shattered jade than unbroken tile. It can be seen that Gao Ling cherishes them, so he would rather leave them be. He’s unwilling to offer them at a reduced price.”
The moon and stars were scarce, and they were surrounded all around, high and low by the cry of insects. As soon as one subsided, another arose. Yuanyuan gazed at the porcelain on the ground and could not help repeating the sentence: “It’s better to be shattered jade than unbroken tile…”
Fu Beichen turned his head to look at her. As if talking to himself, he said: “I seem to remember, in the past I also asked a similar question, and that’s how someone answered me.”
“Who?” Yuanyuan asked without thinking.
Fu Beichen hesitated slightly, then smiled and shook his head: “I forget.”
It seems that I still have the skill of remembering people better than others, Yuanyuan’s heart thought.
She lifted her face to look at him, only to find Fu Beichen was also looking at her fixedly. The look between his brows and eyes was profound and indistinguishable, which made her feel a little at a loss for a while. She had no choice but to turn her head and look towards the distant mountains. Soon after, she stole a glance at Fu Beichen again. He was now looking at the porcelain.
Yuanyuan thought she must have seen his expression wrong just now.
The next day, because Gao Ling had gotten drunk, he still hadn’t woken up once. Yuanyuan and Fu Beichen were courteous and considerate people. They had bothered Boss Gao a lot at his place, so it was necessary to say goodbye to their host in person. Fortunately for Cheng Yuanyuan, this day was still considered as part of the “business trip”, so as long as she returned to Jinghai City within the day then being behind schedule was no problem. Fu Beichen also didn’t seem to be in a hurry. Therefore, the two of them spent the morning in Boss Gao’s unglazed porcelain room, watching the masters busy at work. Once in a while they spoke some lines, mostly pertaining to ceramics. In this way, it felt like time passed by unexpectedly fast.
When it was almost noon, Boss Gao woke up at long last. For neglecting his guests, Boss Gao felt deeply apologetic and resolutely urged them to stay for lunch. Finally, when Fu Beichen and Cheng Yuanyuan left Gao Ling’s home, it was almost twelve o’clock. Boss Gao sent them off and enthusiastically invited them to come again next time.
“Teacher Gao, you’re so polite. I haven’t left yet but I’m already thinking about the next time I can come again,” Yuanyuan said with a smile.
“You’re welcome anytime.” Gao Ling patted his chest, then pointed at Fu Beichen and said quietly, “But when you come, remember to bring Expert Fu along with you. I desperately want his guidance.”
Fu Beichen smiled in silence. Yuanyuan pretended to be angry and sighed: “It turns out Teacher Gao merely used me.”
“Not at all,” Gao Ling cried out with grievance, then squeezed his eyes and said: “Yesterday night while we were getting midnight snacks, it was Beichen who said that if you came to interview again, he wouldn’t mind…”
At this time, Fu Beichen finally opened his mouth: “It seems Boss Gao has not woken up from the wine last night, so we won’t accompany you and your insanity.” He opened the car door as he talked, indicating for Yuanyuan to get in the car. Fu Beichen was a little exasperated. If he spoke a mediocre pleasantry, that Big Boss Gao would misinterpret it and give it another meaning.
Actually, Yuanyuan didn’t think much of it. Without delay, she said goodbye to Gao Ling and got in the car. After waiting for the car to start, she rolled down the window, tilting her head to the side and admiring the scenery along the way. She thought, when she got old, she must return to her hometown to enjoy a life in retirement, where there were mountains and rivers.
Fu Beichen glanced at Yuanyuan’s tousled hair as well as her thin shirt and opened his mouth: “Today it’s really windy, be careful about catching a cold.”
Yuanyuan reached out and casually smoothed her hair, smiling as she said: “I’m not cold.” Immediately after, she noticed that his slightly frowning eyebrows tightened again, so she perceptively rolled up the window without delay.
Fu Beichen was refined and elegant as he drove the car: “Where’s your home? I’ll directly send you home.”
Yuanyuan truly didn’t want to inconvenience him: “It doesn’t matter, you can drop me off wherever it’s convenient and I’ll take the bus back by myself.”
“Do you still think you’re on a long-distance bus?” Fu Beichen smiled, “Or perhaps, it’s not convenient to tell me your home address?”
“That’s not it…” In that case, Yuanyuan had to tell him about the fact that she had once seen him at Cheng Bai’s house in the past. She hadn’t mentioned it before, but she was afraid that he was someone who might feel burdened. She briefly explained to Fu Beichen the relationship between her family and Cheng Bai’s family—although the two families were not blood related, but because her father had had a good relationship with Uncle Shenghua, Uncle Shenghua helped her family a lot, more than an actual relative would. She was now also living in Uncle Shenghua’s home. And when she was young, it had also been at her uncle’s house where she had seen him for the first time.
Fu Beichen listened until she was finished, then softly laughed: “So that’s how it is. It looks like we really are brought together by fate.”
Inside the car, it was temporarily quiet.
Fu Beichen’s radiance swept over the person beside him. He took a light, drawn-out breath, allowing his heart to wring with emotion. It was thin, but seemed as if it had penetrated deep into his flesh and bone.
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