Jian Jian keeps trying to avoid Ling Xiao, but he won’t let her. Zi Qiu tells Hai Chao about his feelings for Jian Jian, seeking his approval before he confesses to Jian Jian.
Jian Jian and Zi Qiu eat noodles at Hai Chao’s restaurant. Zi Qiu gives Jian Jian one of his ribs and tells her to slow down with her eating. Auntie Qian watches them from another table with an approving smile on her face.
Jian Jian rushes out after finishing, rejecting a second rib that Zi Qiu tries to give her. Auntie Qian pulls Hai Chao over and beams at how tenderly Zi Qiu treats Jian Jian. She tells Hai Chao he should just take Zi Qiu as a son-in-law. That way he can keep him close. Otherwise, if Zi Qiu marries some other woman, he’ll be closer to his father-in-law. Hai Chao tells Auntie Qian that Jian Jian already has a boyfriend. Auntie Qian perks up when she hears that Jian Jian’s boyfriend is also a sculptor — he must make a lot of money! But then she tells Hai Chao that it’s still better to have an son-in-law he knows well.
Auntie Qian slides over to sit next to Zi Qiu. She asks if he’s heard from his mother — he says he hasn’t — then tells him that he needs to convince Hai Chao to open up to dating other women. If he gets too much older, he really won’t be able to find anyone. She tells him to think about the future, when all the kids have married off. Hai Chao will be home alone; who will call the ambulance for him if something happens?
Ling Xiao finds Jian Jian lying on the rooftop, looking up at the night sky. She thinks he’s Zi Qiu, then bolts upright when she realizes that it’s him. He asks why she’s home. She maintains her story of coming back to keep her father company, but Ling Xiao sees through her and guesses that she’s avoiding him. She denies it.
She asks him why he came back. He says that he came back to get some things, then sits down. She stares at him for a moment, then starts to sit down — making sure to leave a good amount of space between them — before standing back up. She stays awkwardly standing and gives him a sideways glance before asking what’s on his mind.
“Since we were young, you always liked Zi Qiu more, right?” he asks. Whenever anyone bullied her, she always asked Zi Qiu to help her get revenge. They were always sneaking out to internet cafes and hiding from him. They ate spicy snacks at night without him.
Jian Jian has reasons for why she never invited Ling Xiao to do any of those things. He never let her fight or go out to the internet cafe. He also lived upstairs and never ate anything after brushing his teeth. He gives her a look and she starts pacing, frustrated, as she tells them that she can’t pick between the two of them. They’re both important to her.
Ling Xiao pulls apart the idiom she uses (“both the palm and the back of the hand are flesh”), saying that people will always protect the palms of their hands before they protect the backs of their hands. So which one is he? The palm or the back?
Instead of responding, Jian Jian just laughs incredulously, covers her face with her hands, then stomps over to her beer and takes a long drink.
Zi Qiu waits outside the restaurant until the last customers have left before going back inside, telling Hai Chao that there’s something he wants to tell him.
Hai Chao sits, stunned, as he absorbs what Zi Qiu told him. “So… she just broke up with Ran, like that?” he asks. Zi Qiu explains how they were always friends and now they’re just back to being friends. Then Hai Chao slowly asks what Jian Jian thinks of Zi Qiu liking her. Zi Qiu says that he hasn’t told her yet — he wanted to get Hai Chao’s permission first.
“And if I don’t agree?” Hai Chao asks. Zi Qiu responds that he would wait until Hai Chao approved before telling Jian Jian.
“And what if Jian Jian doesn’t agree?” Zi Qiu says he’ll pursue her, as in, he’ll treat her even better than he did before. Hai Chao frowns a little sadly at him, before letting out a wry chuckle.
Zi Qiu thinks Hai Chao is angry, but he’s not. Instead, he just finds it ironic that when the kids were younger, all the relatives always thought Zi Qiu took after his mother, that he had a heart made out of stone and that he was the one who was a bad influence on Jian Jian, always getting into fights with other kids with her. But little did they know, Zi Qiu is actually the one with the most honest intentions. He always has been.
Hai Chao knows that Jian Jian was always the one getting into trouble and trying to start fights. Zi Qiu only tagged along because he was worried she would get hurt. Yet Jian Jian was always the one framing him, and he always willingly let himself be framed. Ling Xiao could never control her, but he would always get angry at Zi Qiu instead.
Hai Chao acknowledges that they’ve all grown up now. He has no power over them anymore and they each have their own ideas now. Zi Qiu still thinks that Hai Chao is angry. Hai Chao reassures him that he really isn’t — he just needs some time to absorb this information. He also tells Zi Qiu to make sure he’s really thought it through.
Zi Qiu is quick to respond that he’s thought it through and he’s being sincere, but that’s not what Hai Chao is concerned about. Falling in love is unstable — just look at Jian Jian and Ran. He doesn’t want them to ruin their long friendship because of a failed romantic relationship.
Hai Chao makes Zi Qiu promise that if he can’t move forward with Jian Jian, he has be able to move back. He has to continue being her brother. Zi Qiu agrees, but Hai Chao still looks worried.
Jian Jian and Ling Xiao return to Hai Chao’s apartment. She complains about mosquitoes always biting her and never him. He grabs the mosquito bite medicine and insists on applying it for her, even though she says she can do it herself.
Ling Xiao asks Jian Jian to consider what he said yesterday. If she can give things a try with Ran, why can’t she give things a try with him? At the very least, he wants her to view him as a man instead of just a brother. They talk in metaphors again, Jian Jian saying that you can’t force someone to drink water. He responds that he’s not trying to force anything, but that she needs to drink water at some point and there’s only one option in front of her.
Jian Jian covers her face with her hands again. He pries them away so he can put medicine on her arms, then tells her that he thinks they should tell others so that they’re not accused of being aimei. Jian Jian worries that he’s told Ming Yue, but he hasn’t. He tells her that he has told Xi Xi, though. He wasn’t planning on telling others, but he doesn’t like everyone viewing him as her brother, knowing that it’ll be an obstacle for them.
Jian Jian starts fanning him with her pillow, saying that she doesn’t think it’s an obstacle. They can figure out a way to solve the problem without involving others. She promises that she’ll consider it. She’ll put the water in front of her and consider it. That appeases Ling Xiao for now. But what about Zi Qiu?
Jian Jian quickly shakes her head. They cannot let Zi Qiu know. She’s convinced that Zi Qiu will think they’re trying to isolate him and that he’ll make a fuss. Ling Xiao seems to agree with that. Jian Jian thinks the matter is settled and turns away from him, hiding her face again.
Ling Xiao grabs her leg to put medicine on, but she flinches away. He lets go and smiles, saying she can do it herself, then stands up to leave. She looks relieved that he’s about to go, but then he pauses and turns back with a slight smile. He reminds Jian Jian that he already has insomnia. If she keeps avoiding him like this, he’ll sleep even worse.
Jian Jian is offended that he’s trying to blackmail her with his own body. Ling Xiao smiles and says that he’s just telling the truth, then says goodnight and leaves. Jian Jian fumes after he’s gone.
The front door opens again and Jian Jian scrambles to her room, worried that it’s Ling Xiao again. Instead, it’s Zi Qiu, and she looks relieved. She quickly waves him over and asks him to help her put medicine on her leg.
Zi Qiu asks if she’s still angry at Ling Xiao, and tells her that apparently Ling Xiao came immediately here to light incense for her mother after getting off the plane. Jian Jian claims that she’s not angry at him, she just finds being with Zi Qiu more comfortable. Zi Qiu smiles to hear that.
He decides to use that comment to segue into a question for her: what does he think about the two of them being together? Jian Jian doesn’t get what he means at first. Zi Qiu says, “I don’t want to be your brother anymore. I want to be your boyfriend.”
Jian Jian screams and starts trying to run away, but Zi Qiu clings to her legs, refusing to let her go and trying to tell her that there’s no one else in the world who will care for her as much as he does. She tries to push him away, but he holds on and starts talking about marriage and having children.
Jian Jian starts hitting him, asking if he’s gone crazy. She views him as a brother; how can he talk about having children with her? If their father knew, he would — Zi Qiu interrupts, saying that Hai Chao does know. He told him to think it through, and he has.
Jian Jian wails again and finally manages to pull away. She throws herself into a separate armchair to put distance between them. Zi Qiu tries to follow with open arms, but Jian Jian throws out her own arm, yelling for him to sit down.
Zi Qiu obediently lowers himself back down onto the couch, saying that he had to tell Hai Chao. It wouldn’t be right for him to sneak around about it. Jian Jian asks if anyone else knows. Zi Qiu responds that only Zhuang Bei does, and he guessed it himself. He promises that he won’t let it get around and cause her grief. He just wants her to give it some careful consideration.
Jian Jian grimaces, then suddenly bolts upright, pointing to the ceiling. She warns Zi Qiu that he absolutely must not tell Ling Xiao about this. He has a lot going on right now and doesn’t need more problems. Zi Qiu agrees. Once they’re together, they can–
Jian Jian interrupts, saying that they absolutely cannot be together. Zi Qiu leans in close, promising that he’ll do his best to be good to her.
Jian Jian sighs and starts dramatically reciting a poem (“The Song of the Stormy Petrel”), confusing Zi Qiu. He asks why she’s reciting the poem, but she just keeps going. He corrects her when she gets a line wrong. She glares at him, then continues.
When she reaches the part of the poem that goes, “Soon will strike the tempest!” she stands up dramatically and opens her arms. Her recitation gets more dramatic. When she says the last line of the poem, “Let the tempest strike harder!” she looks right at Zi Qiu, who continues to look extremely confused. She laughs hysterically as she returns to her room.
Zi Qiu notices that Jian Jian has left her slippers outside. He calls to her, saying she forgot her shoes. She opens her bedroom door to pelt a pillow at him, then closes it again.
He continues to call out to her through the door, saying he’ll do his best and be good to her. No response. He sighs and returns to his own room.
Jian Jian stays up at night, sitting in the dark in her room and clicking her flashlight on and off. Ling Xiao stays up, reading his book. Zi Qiu stays up, doing some bookkeeping for his coffee shop. Hai Chao also stays up in bed, frowning.
Jian Jian isn’t at breakfast the next morning. He Ping thinks she hasn’t woken up yet, but Hai Chao says that she got up and left bright and early for work. He Ping gives him a look. Hai Chao tells Zi Qiu that there’s something he and He Ping want to tell him.
Hai Chao tells Zi Qiu about how his mother showed up back when he was a senior in high school and returned the money she borrowed. At the time, she didn’t want him to know. Now, Hai Chao says that He Mei isn’t that good of a person — nor is she that bad of one. He tells Zi Qiu to not let himself get hung up on her.
Zi Qiu forces a laugh and says he’s not hung up on her. He doesn’t even think about her. Hai Chao smiles, relieved, saying that he probably worried for nothing. He mentions how he always notices Zi Qiu looking at the compact, then keeps going, saying that’s why he asked He Ping to look into her whereabouts. He updates Zi Qiu on how she’s doing: how she has been in town for several years now and owns a beauty parlor, and that she’s remarried with a kid. It also sounds like her current husband doesn’t know about Zi Qiu.
Zi Qiu focuses his eyes on his food, but is slow to eat. He forces another smile, saying good for her that she has a family and kid now. Hai Chao doesn’t seem convinced, but tries to make excuses for why He Mei hasn’t sought him out: she probably did it for the both of them. He says that it’s up to Zi Qiu whether he wants to go seek her out or not.
“Does she know I’m back?” Zi Qiu asks Hai Chao. “Does she want to see me?”
Hai Chao freezes. His silence speaks volumes. Zi Qiu says that there’s no reason for him to go find her, but Ling Xiao speaks up, saying that he has to go find her. He needs to make it clear to her that they have no familial relationship anymore. If something happens to her, she shouldn’t try to make him take responsibility.
There’s nothing to feel bad about. They didn’t starve after leaving their mothers. In the future, anything they want, they can achieve themselves. “We’ll only get better,” Ling Xiao says. He stands up to leave for work, putting a hand on Zi Qiu’s shoulder.
Zi Qiu is lost in thought while riding his moped and almost doesn’t see a red light at a pedestrian crossing. He stops halfway on the crosswalk, right across from a McDonald’s. The sight of the restaurant (product placement) brings him back to the day his mother left him with his grandmother. That day, she had brought him a McDonald’s burger. His grandmother had been angry with her for deciding to not marry Hai Chao and even more annoyed when He Mei told Zi Qiu she wouldn’t marry Hai Chao because there was no love between them. What use is love?
He remembers how he had asked his mother to come back soon to get him, and how she had made no promises, instead just walking away.
Now, Zi Qiu finds himself at He Mei’s beauty parlor. But He Mei isn’t there because she’s dropping off her child at daycare. Zi Qiu leaves his name and address with her employee.
Jian Jian receives a package full of manga books at her studio. It’s the series featuring sibling incest that Du Juan and Zhou Miao were talking about earlier. She quickly tries to hide the books when she hears Du Juan arrive.
Du Juan rushes in and takes Jian Jian by the shoulders, full of excitement. They’re going international! An international buyer is interested in purchasing the reproduction copyright for her “Three Innocents” sculpture that was featured at the exhibition from earlier. They celebrate.
When Jian Jian gets up from her chair, Du Juan and Zhou Miao spot one the manga books that she was unable to hide in her drawer. Jian Jian tries to take it back, but it’s too late. She tries to explain herself, saying that she was just curious.
Du Juan warns her that she probably shouldn’t read the series given her own situation. Reading the books might give her some ideas that are better left untouched. Du Juan says that she should focus on her entry for an upcoming competition instead. But Jian Jian groans that she has no inspiration and walks away.
Zhou Miao suggests that Du Juan that she should make Jian Jian sign a contract. What if she breaks off on her own once she becomes more successful? Du Juan gets annoyed, saying that Jian Jian isn’t that kind of person.
Zi Qiu is distracted at work, messing up cakes that get sent back by customers.
Ling Xiao looks for Jian Jian at her studio during his lunch break, wanting to invite her out to eat and to buy a new cell phone with him. Du Juan’s eyes light up when she sees him. Jian Jian hurries Ling Xiao away.
Ling Xiao asks Jian Jian when she left so early in the morning. Is she avoiding him again? She claims she wasn’t trying to, but that she feels guilty being near him around their fathers. Ling Xiao tells her that they can just act the way they used to. Jian Jian retorts that she also wants things to be the way they used to be, but they insisted on acting like this. Ling Xiao notices the plural pronoun. Jian Jian tells him not to mince words — the only problem is him.
Ling Xiao tells her that she needs to start separating him from Zi Qiu. Zi Qiu is the brother, who will see her off at her wedding. Jian Jian rolls her eyes, annoyed at this talk of weddings again.
Ling Xiao holds out his hand to Jian Jian, telling her to give him her hand. She doesn’t want to — if she gives him her hand, what will she have? He responds by saying that he’ll give his hand to her, then. She stares at it for a moment, then grabs it with forced casualness, saying that holding hands is no big deal. They used to hold hands all the time. It’s kind of like walking a dog.
She forges ahead, pulling him along and swinging their arms in an exaggerated motion.
Jian Jian sets up Ling Xiao’s new phone for him while they wait for their food at lunch. She’s amazed that he could go so many days without getting a new phone. She couldn’t. Ling Xiao says that it feels more peaceful without his phone. Besides, the only people he finds it important to keep close contact with are already by his side.
She loads his WeChat app and a ton of unread messages come flooding in. She does a double-take when she sees that Ming Yue sent him a message, saying that she saw him kiss her. She hesitantly hands the phone over to Ling Xiao, saying he should read it himself. He pushes it back, saying she can just read it for him. They go back and forth. Finally, Jian Jian gives up and reads the full message, then gasps.
Ming Yue’s text says that she doesn’t need an answer from Ling Xiao — she saw him kiss Jian Jian. She plans on looking for a new apartment and asks them to wait until she moves out before starting their relationship.
Ling Xiao takes the phone upon seeing Jian Jian’s distraught expression. She hides her face with her hands again, saying that Ling Xiao is ruining her life.
But actually, it’s kind of interesting to see how differently Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao approach their feelings for Jian Jian, and how differently she reacts to each of them. Both Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao want to legally be Jian Jian and Hai Chao’s family. Zi Qiu found it important to have Hai Chao’s approval, which makes it seem like he cares about the family part the most. Ling Xiao skipped Hai Chao entirely and went straight for Jian Jian, suggesting that Jian Jian is his main focus.
Jian Jian is at least humoring Ling Xiao for now and trying to give him a chance, but isn’t giving Zi Qiu anything. It makes me want to believe that she might actually like him, but in reality it’s probably because Ling Xiao managed to confess first. She also had an extremely negative reaction to his initial proposal.
Of course, the real question is whether Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao will be able to separate their feelings for Jian Jian from their relationship with each other. This is probably Hai Chao’s worst nightmare. Both Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao reacted so negatively to Jian Jian having a boyfriend. How will they react when Jian Jian’s boyfriend ends up being one of them? If drama-land (and personal experience) has taught me anything, it’s that close friendships rarely survive love triangles, no matter how strong.