When she and Hong Kong boyfriend Yang Kuang were hustled to a police station by five officers, mainland activist Liu Shasha heard a whisper in her ear that calmed her down.
The message? "Marry me."
Yang was arrested on Friday at a Shenzhen bus terminus when authorities deemed he crossed the border illegally by boat, and the pair, who had known each other for barely six weeks, were promptly escorted to the station. He was freed the same night.
"I tried to comfort her, but it seemed that she could not take in any words," Yang said. "Then I think, there's something we have thought about but haven't done yet. So I said it softly in her ear."
Liu became quiet for a moment, he said. "Then she told the policemen to be our witnesses. She said 'yes', and a policeman congratulated us. There was some scuffle in the car earlier when they tried to grab our phones, so I didn't expect it would be such a romantic moment."
They met in Sichuan last month, when Yang was contacting Diaoyus activists. He had landed on the Diaoyu Islands last August to assert Chinese sovereignty against the Japanese.
They soon organised activities together and realised they clicked. Liu said, "Just half an hour after I saw him, I felt like I had seen through him. He's brave, skilful and pure."
Their first operation together was to visit jailed activist Liu Xianbin, and they attempted to visit Liu Xia, wife of Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo, earlier this month.
Now, the newly engaged couple will face a rough path ahead. Mainland authorities have used various tactics to break up activist couples, such as sending them to labour camps. The pair also live on opposite sides of the border.
But Yang vowed: "The border, as defined by the Shenzhen River, is a joke. We will continue to use our [own] ways to cross it. If this is our fate, we will make it the dictator's nightmare."
Liu adds: "Even the devil could not separate us."