Xiao En follows Ao Ran and Chu Chu to the hot springs resort, determined to prevent them from having a romantic night together. Ao Ran finds himself thinking about Xiao En despite being with Chu Chu.
Ming Li gives the striking workers an opportunity to give up the strike, return to work, and promise to never strike again. No one takes her up on it. She fires them all.
Chu Chu asks Tian Jian to go after Ming Li and talk to her. He does, but Ming Li accuses him of undermining her. He already knows that all the employees love Tian Xing. Is he trying to side with him?
Tian Jian tries to make his sister see reason. Most of the employees approved of Tian Xing. Ming Li is doing herself no favors by trying to pit herself against them. If Tian Xing can do it, why can’t they?
Uncle Hu shows up, saying he heard all about what happened outside. He praises Tian Jian and says he’s matured, making Tian Jian smile and Ming Li frown. But then he adds that Tian Jian wasn’t as thorough as he should have been, calling him out for being afraid to attach his name to negotiation talks and saying that he should have stood with Ming Li in front of the workers. Now they’ll view Ming Li as arrogant and lacking empathy.
Ming Li says her mind won’t change, and walks away. Tian Jian watches her go with a frown. Uncle Hu pats him on the back with a smile. Later, Uncle Hu smiles to himself as he knocks over the king on his chessboard.
Xiao En breathlessly arrives at the hot spring resort where Ao Ran and Chu Chu are having a business meeting. She asks to check in, but the only remaining room available costs 50,000 yuan a night, a number that makes her balk.
When she hears Ao Ran’s name and realizes that he’s about to walk by with Chu Chu, she flings a pen into a corner and huddles there to pick it up, hiding her face. Hearing Ao Ran ask Chu Chu which amenity she wants to check out first makes her jealous, and once they’re gone, she tells the front desk clerk to put it all on her card.
Xiao En follows behind Ao Ran and Chu Chu as they are shown to their rooms. The front desk clerk hurries after her and tells her that her room is not in this hallway. All the rooms here are booked full. Xiao En ignores her as she starts listening at each door, trying to figure out who is in which room.
Suddenly, a scream comes from Chu Chu’s room. Ao Ran rushes to her door — Xiao En is nowhere in sight — and urgently rings her doorbell. Chu Chu opens the door and sadly says that she accidentally slipped in the bathroom and broke the mirror. Now, she’s bleeding, but it’s just a little pinprick of blood on her finger.
Xiao En, who is hiding around the corner with her hand over the clerk’s face, now pushes the clerk toward Ao Ran and Chu Chu, telling her to go help. Ao Ran asks the clerk for a new room, but the clerk says that the only room available was just booked.
Later, Ao Ran is treating Chu Chu’s wound — which is microscopic but apparently very painful — in his own room, when the clerk shows up and says that the other room is now available. The woman who originally booked it suddenly cancelled. Ao Ran seems to find this a little suspicious, but heads over.
Xiao En, now roomless, grumbles to herself as she wanders the resort’s campus. She knows the author will use any excuse possible to force Chu Chu and Ao Ran to spend the night together. Why did she bother giving up her room? She suddenly sees someone.
Xiao En dashes back into the resort building, ignoring the clerk who chases after her, saying that she can’t be in here now that she’s not a guest. Xiao En starts listening at the room doors again. When she doesn’t find what she’s looking for, she runs back downstairs. The clerk tries to block her from going into the men’s sauna, but Xiao En sneaks past her and finally spots who she’s looking for: Duan Mu Qing Feng. Qing Feng looks surprised to see her and not entirely happy, but he smiles at the clerk when Xiao En says that she’s with him.
Xiao En asks Qing Feng why he’s here. Didn’t he say last time that the timing wasn’t right and that he’d wait for the right moment with Chu Chu? Qing Feng says that he’s also not quite sure how he came to be here. In the morning, he found himself thinking about Chu Chu on his way to work. Xiao En guesses that the next thing he knew, he was on his way to this resort. He asks her how she knew. She says, “Because… that’s love.” Love can be mysterious and have no reason sometimes.
Qing Feng still doesn’t know what he’s doing here. Is he here just to watch Chu Chu and Ao Ran’s relationship blossom and acknowledge that he has no chance? Xiao En tells him that his job is to silently give them his well wishes. He says that he’s not that nice. She tells him he just doesn’t know himself well enough.
He asks her why she’s here. Xiao En responds that she’s here to change her fate. “So you think fate can be changed?” he asks her. She says that they can if they help each other.
Xiao En places Qing Feng’s hand over his heart and tells him that the person he’s willing to press forward for is the person he’s willing to fight for. He thought of Chu Chu and he came here. She thought of Ao Ran, and she came here.
Chu Chu and Ao Ran eat dinner outside dressed in yukata. Chu Chu starts to eat, then lowers her utensils, apologizing and saying that as CEO, Ao Ran should eat first. Ao Ran finds himself thinking of Xiao En and how she insisted on being allowed to eat at the table with him. He smiles at Chu Chu and tells her not to worry about it.
He picks up his fork and knife to dig in, but when he looks down at his plate, he thinks of Xiao En again and how they fought over all the side dishes earlier that morning. Chu Chu marvels over how delicious the food is. Ao Ran watches her with a smile. She asks him not to look at her because she thinks she looks ugly when she eats. Ao Ran thinks of Xiao En’s expression as she savored her fried chicken. He chuckles slightly and tells Chu Chu not to worry. She looks better than a certain someone.
Qing Feng is less-than-thrilled when he discovers that he and Xiao En are supposed to share a bed at night. She refuses to go elsewhere and he finally says that he’ll go find somewhere else to stay. But as he’s leaving — Xiao En celebrates behind his back — he wonders why he’s the one offering to leave. The room is under his name. But Xiao En cuts him off, telling him to look, as she presses herself to the window. He joins her and they both stare as they watch Ao Ran and Chu Chu walking together into the darkness. They share a look, then take off running.
Chu Chu asks Ao Ran to accompany her to a small river where fireflies supposedly congregate. He looks uncomfortable in the dark with nothing but a small lamp, but continues forward after Chu Chu gushes excitedly about how beautiful the river will be.
Qing Feng and Xiao En trail the couple. Xiao En tries to pick up the pace, jogging after them, but Qing Feng holds her back from getting too close. Xiao En points out that Ao Ran’s hand is already shaking. Why is he acting like a hero when he’s clearly so afraid of the dark? Qing Feng tells Xiao En that she doesn’t know what Ao Ran has been through and that she shouldn’t make light of his fears.
Chu Chu frowns when she doesn’t find any fireflies by the river. She asks Ao Ran if they can turn off the lamp. She thinks the light might be scaring off the fireflies. Ao Ran hesitates, then agrees to turn off the lamp. He slowly turns off the light.
Now in darkness, Ao Ran freezes. He starts breathing heavily and shakes, closing his eyes. He remembers the feeling of Xiao En’s hand in his own from the previous night, and that seems to calm him down slightly.
Xiao En sighs as she watches him, lamenting the power of love. At home, he refuses to turn off any lights, yet here in the forest, he’s willing to turn off his only source of light for Chu Chu.
The fireflies start showing up in the darkness and Chu Chu exclaims joyfully at the sight, telling Ao Ran to look. But he’s still frozen in the darkness, clutching the lamp, and abruptly turns it back on. She frowns at the suddenness of the light turning back on. He forces a smile and says that it’s getting late. They should head back.
Xiao En and Qing Feng hide as Chu Chu and Ao Ran walk by, then stand up and frown after them as they walk away. Qing Feng asks if Xiao En is okay. She forces a smile and says that she’s fine.
Chu Chu tells a story about how she accidentally killed a bunch of fireflies by capturing them in a jar and trying to use them as a light. Ao Ran suddenly stumbles and the lamp flickers. Chu Chu offers to hold the lamp, but Ao Ran insists on leading the way, saying it’s safer.
Qing Feng starts to follow them again, but Xiao En doesn’t move forward, suddenly dejected. Ao Ran is willing to do so much for real love. What can she give him? Qing Feng reminds her that they’re both here to break up Ao Ran and Chu Chu. Why is she suddenly worrying about Ao Ran? Xiao En doesn’t say anything.
Chu Chu suddenly spots some more fireflies and runs off ahead to catch one to show Ao Ran. He tells her there’s no need, but it’s too late. Suddenly, Chu Chu screams. Ao Ran drops the lamp and takes off running.
Chu Chu has slipped over the edge of a cliff. Ao Ran grips her with one hand while she screams for help. He struggles to pull her up and his eyes suddenly open wide.
When Xiao En and Qing Feng find them, Chu Chu is sitting on the ground and sobbing while Ao Ran lies unconscious nearby. Xiao En tries to wake Ao Ran, but he’s unresponsive. She shouts for Qing Feng to call an ambulance.
In the real world, Qiao Zhi tells Ming Li that someone is in critical condition. The doctors are trying to save him right now. Su Shan Na is rushing down the halls of the company when she runs into Jie Sen. She asks him to drop her off at the hospital.
Xiao En continues to try and revive Ao Ran. She remembers the moment when Tian Xing gripped her wrist at the hospital. She starts trying to lift Ao Ran up, but Qing Feng tries to talk her down, saying the ambulance is on its way.
Ming Li rushes to the hospital, where her mother is sobbing as doctors try to resuscitate her father. It doesn’t look good. He’s coughing up blood but otherwise unresponsive. The doctors start to defibrillate him. Ming Li’s mother begs for them to stop, saying that they’re hurting her husband, but Ming Li tells them that they’re not allowed to stop. Tian Jian looks appalled, asking Ming Li how she can bear to let their father suffer like this. Ming Li says that she doesn’t have the will yet. Their father is not allowed to die.
She tells the doctors that she doesn’t care what they have to do. Her father must not die. When they stare at her for a moment, she yells at them to get to work.
Su Shan Na is alone in Tian Xing’s room, where a doctor reassures her that Tian Xing is okay now. He had stopped breathing for a moment, but the doctors had detected it in time and there’s no problem now.
Xiao En sits by Ao Ran’s hospital bed, holding his hand while he still lies unconscious. When she hears Chu Chu’s voice outside, she lets go and looks up. Ao Ran starts coughing and Xiao En hurries grab Chu Chu, telling them that they all have to take their places. When Chu Chu looks confused, Xiao En explains that when Ao Ran wakes up, he’ll want to see the person he thinks of the most.
But Chu Chu turns to Xiao En and asks why she’s here. Xiao En smiles ruefully and says that she wanted to cause trouble for Ao Ran, but now that he’s like this, she suddenly feels merciful. Chu Chu still seems confused. Xiao En makes her promise to not tell Ao Ran that she was here, then tells her to pay attention to Ao Ran. She leaves the room and Qing Feng follows.
They hear Ao Ran wake up. The first thing he does is ask Chu Chu if she’s okay. Xiao En silently scoffs at how he only thought of Chu Chu instead of himself. Ao Ran thanks Chu Chu for taking him to the hospital, not noticing when she glances behind her at the hallway.
Ao Ran admits to Chu Chu that he’s afraid of the dark and explains that his father used to lock him a dark closet as punishment. Sometimes he would be in there for a whole day without food or water. Once, his father came in with a lit candle. Ao Ran thought it was for lighting the dark, but instead his father just dripped the hot wax on him.
Chu Chu cries sympathetically, but Ao Ran tells her that it’s all in the past. He turned out okay. Xiao En watches sorrowfully through the doorway and views the way he reacted when the power went out in a whole new light. She suddenly takes off.
Qing Feng follows her out of the hospital and finally manages to catch up on the sidewalk outside, asking what’s wrong. Xiao En asks him why Ao Ran has to have such a tragic backstory. Why can’t he have just grown up happily? Qing Feng looks confused.
Xiao En tries to tell herself that he’s just a made-up character. None of this is real. Why is she agonizing over it? She’s read dozens of stories with childhood trauma.
“Then why are you still crying?” Qing Feng asks. Xiao En laughs self-deprecatingly. Why is she still crying? Maybe it’s because she can see him and feel him, so the horrors he’s seen feel real.
Xiao En suddenly yells at the sky, saying this author is too irresponsible, condemning their characters to living under a shadow their whole lives with just a few words. Why can’t the author be more kind to their characters? Being abused is just too cruel.
Qing Feng frowns as he watches Xiao En and remembers her words about fighting for the person his heart wants. His jacket catches fire. (Is this supposed to be an actual fire or a metaphorical fire?)
Xiao En repeats to herself, “This world is real; this world is fake,” as Qing Feng drives her home. She’s starting to get confused between what’s real and what’s not. Could there be another version of her who is now here, so the sorrow she feels belongs not to her, but the other version of her? (Ha! Reference to Someday or One Day perhaps? Simon Lian — who portrays Qing Feng here — has a cameo in that show.)
Chu Chu and Ao Ran are clearly meant to be together in this world. Should she even be trying to get in between them?
Qing Feng surprises her by saying that she should, throwing her words back at her. She had told him that even if some things are inevitable, it’s their job to keep fighting. Xiao En dramatically says that this must be the feeling of being choked by one’s own words.
Qing Feng thinks Xiao En is just tired. She says she’s not, but tells Qing Feng he can act like she’s just saying nonsense.
Editor-in-chief Yao berates Chun Tian for her latest work. How could she think that this was acceptable? Did she even read the story? It’s clearly supposed to be Chu Chu and Si Tu Ao Ran’s love story, but suddenly, in the middle, a character named Zheng Xiao En appears? Why is she called Zheng Xiao En? And why is she trying to steal the male lead from the female lead? Chun Tian is confused. That’s not what happened the last time she read the story. Yao tells her to fix it.
Chun Tian wonders if there really is a character named Xiao En. Why didn’t she notice it before? She pulls open the draft and searches Xiao En’s name. Sure enough, plenty of matches show up. Chun Tian shakes her head, saying this won’t do. She decides to change the character’s name to Yi Jun and does a find-replace.
Then she calls the author to talk about the book. While she’s on the phone, she doesn’t notice the characters “Yi Jun” jumping off the page. They’re replaced once again by “Xiao En.”
Ao Ran drops Chu Chu off outside her apartment. He notices that she’s limping and asks how she sent him to the hospital when she was injured. Chu Chu remembers her promise to not tell Ao Ran that Xiao En was there. She forces a smile and says that she called an ambulance. Ao Ran seems to believe her and tells her to take care before driving off.
When Ao Ran returns home, Xiao En hastens to act like she was cleaning the whole time. Ao Ran asks when she became so diligent. She smiles innocently and says she was always this way. He reminds her to plug in her vacuum.
When Ao Ran comes back downstairs, Xiao En is actually cleaning. He pulls out a hair clip and asks if it’s hers. She says that it is, but reassures him that she didn’t go into his room at all these past few days. It must have dropped when she was cleaning.
If the hair clip was hers, that means that she was at the hot spring resort, Ao Ran concludes. Xiao En agrees before she realizes what he’s said. She snaps her mouth shut and looks down while he stares at her.
She starts trying to explain herself, saying that it was just one big coincidence that she happened to be there. He asks her what she was trying to do to Chu Chu. That makes her angry. Why does he always assume she’s trying to harm Chu Chu? It’s true that she’s targeted Chu Chu, but she’s never harmed her.
Xiao En angrily admits that she was at the resort to try and ruin his relationship with Chu Chu, but not to hurt her. She did it because she likes him. She says it angrily, and Ao Ran is stunned. Xiao En freezes and her eyes widen as she realizes that she just confessed to him.
“Why?” Ao Ran asks. “Why do you like me?”
Xiao En stares at him, trapped, then stammers, “Money.”
Xiao En gets dinner with Qing Feng and admits that she confessed to Ao Ran. He asks her where her appetite went. She responds that no normal person would have an appetite in a situation like this, but he points out that she’s not exactly normal.
Xiao En laments that this isn’t the way a confession should be. A confession should be romantic — she imagines confessing to Ao Ran in a Goblin-esque, seaside scene — or it should be sentimental — she daydreams a Descendants of the Sun-style confession. But then she shakes her head. That one won’t work; they got divorced anyway. (LOL!)
Xiao En comes up with a third, arrogant-style confession option and imagines herself in an
Itaewon Class-like scene. ( I think? Ashamed to admit this one wasn’t immediately obvious to me. Post-edit: I don’t know what drama this is supposed to be from! 🙈 It’s from something where the gender roles are reversed… so Xiao En is playing the male lead’s role. Drop a comment if you know what the reference is!)
She laughs to herself as she swirls her wine, until Qing Feng makes her snap out of it. She’s imagined every possible scenario, but the actual scenario she’s in is the most catastrophic one.
Qing Feng laughs at how dramatic she is, but quickly covers it with a cough. He asks her why she suddenly confessed. She admits to being offended that he thought she wanted to harm Chu Chu. And also, she wanted to see if it would affect him at all, but she doesn’t think it will. An arrogant CEO is always unshakable.
Ao Ran paces in his office, trying to decide what to do. If he goes out to eat, he would be sparing her too much. But if he refused to eat at all, that would also be sparing her. He goes downstairs to look for Xiao En, but she’s nowhere to be found. He says to himself that if she really liked him, then why would she starve him like this.
He remembers all the moments that Xiao En messed with him then laughs at himself. She’s clearly trying to mess with him now, and he believed her? The doorbell rings. Ao Ran starts to smile, but then puts on a frown instead, ready to get back at her.
Ao Ran is surprised when he opens the door to find Chu Chu. Chu Chu makes him dinner and returns his business card case, which was her excuse for showing up. He had left it behind and she forgot to return it earlier.
They start eating and Ao Ran is pleasantly surprised by Chu Chu’s cooking ability. He compliments her, saying that she’s good at cooking like — he almost says Xiao En, then catches himself.
Xiao En asks if Qing Feng can take her somewhere other than Ao Ran’s place. He starts to signal a turn, obliging, but she stops him, saying that at the very least, she should still make him dinner. Qing Feng laughs, saying that she says one thing, but does something else. Verbally, she’s upset at Ao Ran, but at the end of the day, she’s still going to go back and make dinner for him.
He asks if anyone has ever called her special. She responds that out of the two worlds she’s lived in, he’s the first person to ever call her special. He says that when he’s with her, every day brings a new surprise. Xiao En asks if this is his way of confessing to her. He says he’s not, but she continues to smile adorably at him, saying she could really use it right now. He gives her a smile, but doesn’t respond.
Chu Chu cleans up after dinner. When she puts on Xiao En’s dishwashing gloves, Ao Ran starts to stop her, but then doesn’t say anything, instead thinking to himself that he’ll have to get new ones. Those belong to Xiao En. She’s wiping the table down — with a washcloth that hasn’t been cleaned yet, Ao Ran notes, because the ones that Xiao En cleaned are hanging outside — when the sound of the door opening surprises them both.
Ao Ran rushes to try and intercept Xiao En, but it’s too late. She wanders into the kitchen with a dejected, “I’m home,” before freezing as she stares at Chu Chu and Chu Chu stares back.
Next week cannot come soon enough! Those previews are killing me.
This episode had so many golden moments with all the K-drama references and I love whenever Xiao En and Qing Feng are working together. Xiao En brings out the personality in everyone she’s around, but Qing Feng most of all.
I’m still a bit confused about the flames coming out of Qing Feng in the middle point of this episode. They were presumably figurative flames, but what did it mean? Was it just a major turning point for his character, a sign that he had fully diverged from his predestined, prewritten path?
The moment when Xiao En tries to tell herself that none of this story world or its people are real felt very meaningful to me, because she’s also speaking for all of us drama-watchers and story-readers who are watching these stories from the “outside” or the “real world.” Why do we care so much and laugh and cry over books, dramas, movies, when none of it is real? Why do we feel so invested in these characters and their stories?