Awkward is the word of this episode. Everywhere she turns, Jian Jian finds herself running unexpectedly into Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu and feeling incredibly awkward. They seem to want to talk to her, but she always ends up running away.
Jian Jian tries to flee before her dentist appointment, but Ming Yue wrestles her into the room. A familiar voice tells her to lie down in the chair, but she doesn’t seem to recognize it.
Jian Jian fidgets and whimpers from the pain as the dentist pokes around her mouth. He tells her to stare into the light and pretend it’s the rabbit hole that Alice fell into, a portal to another world. The rest of the appointment goes without incident.
The moment Jian Jian is allowed to sit up, she tries to run away, but freezes when the dentist calls her name. “You don’t even recognize my voice anymore?” Ling Xiao asks as he removes his mask and smiles at her.
They move to his office, where Ling Xiao brings Jian Jian an ice pack. He holds it up to her cheek, but she takes it from him. They sit in silence for a bit, Ling Xiao looking at Jian Jian while she looks around. He takes her hand in his, then comments on how she’s grown up but is still afraid of getting her tooth pulled. The motion reminds her of when he took her to the dentist all those years ago. She pulls her hand out of his.
Ling Xiao tells her that she’s gotten prettier. She self-deprecatingly says that she isn’t that pretty — she still gets carded at bars for looking like a kid. But he says that to him, she is the prettiest. Jian Jian awkwardly accepts the compliment and does her best to avoid making eye contact, all too aware that he’s still looking at her.
Jian Jian tells Ling Xiao that he can leave her alone and attend to his other patients, but he says he doesn’t have any yet. She then pretends to notice the time and fabricates an excuse to get back to the office. Ling Xiao tries to ask her out to lunch, but she says she can’t eat much anyway because of her mouth and scurries out, saying that he should text her.
Zi Qiu visits Ling Xiao at the oral hospital. When Zi Qiu asks if Jian Jian texted him last night, Ling Xiao invites him into his office. Zi Qiu doesn’t like that Jian Jian didn’t text either of them after they suddenly showed up yesterday. She doesn’t seem happy, either. But Ling Xiao asks what he expected: for her to act like the kid they used to know?
He asks Zi Qiu what surprise he has planned for Hai Chao. Does he really have a surprise, or is he just too afraid to go back home? Zi Qiu says he has nothing to be afraid of. He’s just trying to start a business. Ling Xiao asks if he got money from his father. Zi Qiu snaps that Zhao Hua Guang isn’t his father. Hai Chao is. Now that he’s back, he doesn’t plan on leaving. He’s going to be filial to Hai Chao and take care of Jian Jian.
Ling Xiao asks how Zi Qiu plans on taking care of Jian Jian. Zi Qiu responds that he’ll do what he’s always done. He’ll be her brother. But Ling Xiao points out that neither of them are really her brothers. He’s just a neighbor; Zi Qiu is just a kid sent to live with them. It was okay for the first two years, but later, they started talking less and less and eventually couldn’t say much to one another anymore. They couldn’t really do anything for the family either.
Zi Qiu asks Ling Xiao to form an alliance. He thinks Ling Xiao must have a plan to win Jian Jian back and he wants in. But Ling Xiao says that relationships are managed with time, not plans. Zi Qiu says that he must have a plan if he’s talking about managing relationships. Ling Xiao just sighs and says he has to get back to work.
Zi Qiu takes this as Ling Xiao not wanting to form an alliance. He says that’s fine, too, but that Ling Xiao shouldn’t come crying to him later. Ling Xiao just puts a hand on Zi Qiu’s shoulder and tells him to go home sooner rather than later. Hai Chao misses him.
Zi Qiu gets a phone call and hurries out.
Ming Yue goes across the hall to meet up with someone, whom she’s helping deep clean the apartment. But when she enters, she’s appalled to see moving boxes, a half-unpacked suitcase, and clothes strewn about. She explores the apartment to investigate, right as Zi Qiu opens the door to the bathroom, topless and in a towel after showering at his new apartment. They both yell at each other without getting a good look at each other’s faces and turn away, then each demand why the other is in the apartment.
Zi Qiu realizes what’s happening. He had asked Zhuang Bei to help him get the condo, even though it had already been rented out, paying an extra 1000 yuan per month so that the landlord would break the contract. Zhuang Bei teased him about spending money like it’s nothing, but Zi Qiu said that if he could live across from Jian Jian, it would be worth it. The landlord had told him to pretend he was a relative if the original renter came knocking. Now, Zi Qiu says that he’s the landlord’s relative. Ming Yue can call him to confirm if she wants.
Ming Yue calls the landlord, who confirms Zi Qiu’s story and offers to return her money before hurriedly hanging up. Zi Qiu presses his ear to the door, trying to figure out what’s going on. Ming Yue glares in the direction of the bathroom. She opens the front door, and Zi Qiu peeks out to see if she’s left, but she hasn’t. Instead, she approaches the bathroom door with her broom handle extended like a weapon and asks to make a deal. She’ll help him find a new apartment if he moves out. This apartment is really important to her. He responds that this apartment is really important to him, too.
Ming Yue decides to tell him the truth, that the man she secretly likes is supposed to be renting this apartment. If she fails in this, then she can’t face him. Zi Qiu doesn’t care, but Ming Yue tries to convince him and starts trying to open the door. He pushes back and warns her that he’s not wearing any clothes. He says he’s coming out. Ming Yue runs away at the last minute.
Jian Jian goes to a newly-opened coffee shop to meet with the shop owner, who is interested in displaying some of her sculptures. It’s thunderstorming outside, and when she goes into the shop, it’s dark and empty. The lights suddenly turn on, string lights everywhere, with a table of cakes laid out. Jian Jian investigates the cakes, then wonders why no one is around. She’s checking her phone when there’s a clap of thunder and she’s so startled she drops her phone. She bends down to pick it up from under the table when a pair of feet suddenly appear. She stands up and screams — and sees Zi Qiu.
Zi Qiu thinks the whole scene is very romantic. He wanted to give her a surprise. Jian Jian thinks the whole thing feels straight out of a horror movie and thinks this is all just a ruse, but Zi Qiu explains that this is what he was doing when hiding out for the past 3 months in the city. He was busy preparing to open this coffee shop, and his plan was to call her and Hai Chao, tell them they could get some free dessert at this coffee shop, then reveal that the coffee shop is his.
Jian Jian thinks his heart is in the right place, but immediately criticizes the execution. Her father would be too busy to respond to the invite, and she would immediately hang up upon hearing the words “free,” thinking that it would be a scam.
Zi Qiu frowns, but then perks back up and tries to get Jian Jian to taste one his tarts. He remembers that she used to want to own a pastry store and she loved desserts. Jian Jian declines, saying she just got dental work done earlier, but Zi Qiu insists. She finally relents and tries a bite — it’s pretty good. Zi Qiu tries to push her to eat more. Jian Jian resists, but Zi Qiu only backs down after she firmly pushes him away and says that it’s really making her uncomfortable.
She apologizes for raising her voice, but says that she really isn’t feeling well. Then she says that she’ll gift him a custom sculpture for his shop, in exchange for the free cake. They sit in a bit of awkward silence. Jian Jian notices that the rain has stopped and excuses herself to go back to work. Zi Qiu tries to see her off, but she insists he stay. He watches her go, then puts his head in his hands.
When Tang Can gets home after work, Ming Yue admits to her that she’s been in touch with Ling Xiao. She seems to be looking for advice, but instead Tang Can starts cursing out both Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu for being ingrates and starts plotting ways for them to be miserable. Ling Xiao is about to come over, so Ming Yue tells her to play nice.
When Ling Xiao arrives, Tang Can is suddenly all smiles upon seeing his handsome face. She eavesdrops as Ming Yue apologizes to Ling Xiao for the mishap with the rental across the hall. She’s especially curious because she thought the apartment was being rented by her mysterious beau.
The man in question, Zhuang Bei, is out at dinner with Zi Qiu and annoyed that Zi Qiu keeps conveniently disappearing whenever it’s time to pay the bill when they go out to eat. Zi Qiu offers to pay this time, but they’re eating cheap skewers from a street stall.
Zi Qiu wonders what to do about Jian Jian. He had originally planned on helping her out financially, but now that it looks like she doesn’t need money, he doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know what she likes.
Zhuang Bei asks him how Ling Xiao is faring. Zi Qiu scoffs. Jian Jian was always closest to him. If she won’t even talk to him, then she definitely won’t talk to Ling Xiao.
Zhuang Bei tells Zi Qiu he should have gone home sooner. His father could have helped out with opening his coffee shop. But Zi Qiu doesn’t want to be more of a burden on Hai Chao, who is busy enough with his own restaurant, and can’t find the courage to face him.
When Jian Jian gets home, she immediately starts venting to Tang Can and Ming Yue about seeing her brothers not one, but two days in a row. Ming Yue keeps looking nervously toward the bathroom, and both she and Tang Can pointedly speak very loudly. Jian Jian is oblivious and keeps talking about how she would’ve been fine seeing them once in a while, but seeing them so often is awkward because she doesn’t know what to say to them. And she found out that Ling Xiao plans on moving in across the hall, which is even more awkward. She starts comparing them to eating just-expired food — it’s probably still fine, but feels a little weird. She leans back and continues to complain.
Ling Xiao exits the bathroom and gives her some follow-up instructions for the tooth he checked earlier that day. Tang Can giggles, Ming Yue hides her face with a wince, and Jian Jian is caught feeling very awkward.
The four eat dinner in awkward silence until Jian Jian breaks it by asking Ling Xiao when he plans on moving over. Ling Xiao has to explain that the apartment actually got rented out to the landlord’s relative. Tang Can smiles and says that he’s handsome, but then teases Ming Yue by bringing up that she saw him shirtless. Ming Yue tries to deny it, especially in front of Ling Xiao, but Tang Can doesn’t relent.
Ling Xiao pitches the idea of proposing to split rent with the new tenant, since he’s only one person and the apartment has two bedrooms. Tang Can volunteers to go over and ask.
Zi Qiu tries to sneak into his apartment, but struggles to enter in the right keycode and gets caught in the hallway when Tang Can exits her apartment and starts trying to talk to him. Jian Jian and Ming Yue try to eavesdrop, but Ling Xiao pulls them back inside.
Zi Qiu recognizes Tang Can, and when she taps him on the back, he wrestles her into a chokehold to hide his own face. She screams for help. Ling Xiao rushes out and puts Zi Qiu into a headlock. Jian Jian and Ming Yue rush out with improvised weapons from household objects. And then everyone freezes when they recognize Zi Qiu.
Zi Qiu acts casual sitting on the couch in Jian Jian’s apartment. Everyone else looks unamused. Jian Jian looks like she wishes this would all go away.
Zi Qiu explains how he essentially threw money at a problem and convinced the landlord to break the previous lease. Ling Xiao says that it must be nice to have money, and then tells Zi Qiu that he was the one who rented it initially. Zi Qiu realizes that the woman from earlier in the day who intruded on him was Ming Yue. Ming Yue grabs the closest mug and throws water on him before he can say more.
Everyone stares at her, but she decides to keep rolling with it and starts yelling at Zi Qiu for his unscrupulous ways. Everyone stares at her more. She laughs awkwardly.
Later, Ming Yue slips into Zi Qiu’s apartment, right as he’s changing. She turns away, then warns him not to speak a word of what she said earlier in the day. He thinks that if she likes Ling Xiao, she should just tell him, but she says the timing’s not right. If he dares to tell anyone, she’ll spread rumors about him. She holds out a warning finger before heading back out. She opens the door to find Ling Xiao, who’s here to chat with Zi Qiu, and welcomes him inside, with a parting warning look at Zi Qiu.
Ling Xiao suggests to Zi Qiu that they should live together. Zi Qiu agrees after he asks nicely. Ling Xiao agrees to help him get his extra rent money back from the landlord.
Hai Chao and He Ping wait up at the restaurant for Ling Xiao to return home. He Ping tells Hai Chao that Ling Xiao should marry Jian Jian. They’re well-matched and he thinks Ling Xiao is sweet on her. Hai Chao teases him for catching the matchmaking bug that Auntie Qian has.
Ling Xiao enters the shop, excited and looking for Hai Chao. He pauses, surprised, to see He Ping there and asks why he’s still up. He Ping claims that Hai Chao made him stay down at the restaurant to keep him company. Ling Xiao offers to stay and help clean up, seeming to want to talk to Hai Chao, but both fathers insist he go back home and rest.
Before bed, Zi Qiu rehearses how he’s going to offer to buy Jian Jian breakfast the next morning, but doesn’t like any of what he comes up with. Jian Jian can’t sleep and browses her phone. She texts someone, “Have you slept yet?”
Ming Yue is trying to sleep when she rolls over, opens her eyes, and is alarmed to find Jian Jian at the edge of her bed, staring right back at her. They knock on Tang Can’s door — she’s still awake. She tuts at them for still being up even though she’s also clearly up. Ming Yue looks at Jian Jian with a glare. Jian Jian holds up a set of masks.
Tang Can broods over her pen, wondering if she’ll ever meet her mysterious man again. She pouts that the person she wanted to show up didn’t, but people who shouldn’t have shown up did. She and Ming Yue start bickering over whether Ming Yue should have meddled and helped Ling Xiao get the apartment.
Jian Jian tells them that she did have a really good relationship with Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu before, and that for a while, when they were still in school, she hoped that they would come back to visit during breaks. But they never did and eventually she forgot about them. Now, they’ve suddenly appeared again and she feels awkward around them, like they’re strangers.
I am definitely a Jian Jian-Ling Xiao shipper right now.
Zi Qiu is just a little too… simple. He hasn’t changed much, in that he’s still very much all bravado and tries to hide the problems bothering him deeper down, but he also seems very… static and rooted in the past. His conception of people — of Jian Jian and of Ming Yue — seems very rooted in who they were in high school nine years ago, and he seems unable to grasp that they could have changed. Of course, there seems to be a lot going on with him that we haven’t had enough insight into yet. For example, he keeps acting like money is no big deal to him, but it clearly is, otherwise he wouldn’t keep dodging the dinner bill with Zhuang Bei. He also keeps avoiding home. Maybe he needs people from his past, like Jian Jian and Ming Yue, to stay the same to keep him rooted in a feeling of home, otherwise home for him will just be a time and place in the past that he’s lost. I’m sure we’ll see more in the next few episodes…