The name ‘Da Mei’ sounded feminine, but he was a guy.
He was the youngest of the three of them and had always been protected. Even the nickname ‘Da Mei’ had been jokingly given by Zhou Dalei: “Since you’re my little brother, big brother will give you a name. How about Da Mei? From now on, we brothers will have neat and tidy names.”
Because Da Mei was small-statured, he was always bullied by others and he often didn’t retaliate.
Zhou Dalei protected him like he was protecting his young. When there were too many opponents for him to beat, he called Xie Yu to go with them.
Later Da Mei had a growth spurt, shooting upwards like bamboo. He reached 1.85 m. He felt that he had grown up. He had watched the others fighting for many years, and while he hadn’t eaten pork he had seen pigs run.¹
One time he couldn’t take it and stood in front of Da Lei and said, “Let me teach these idiots a lesson.”
In the end, theory and practice were as far away from each other as heaven and earth. Da Mei couldn’t hurt them and Zhou Dalei grabbed him, turned, and ran: “You teach them a lesson, my ass. Do you even know how to fight? Your skinny arms and skinny legs are longer than other people’s but what good are they otherwise? —You’ll drive me mad, you will.”
“That little brat gave me a pot of shitty flowers. What did he give you before he left?” The more Zhou Dalei thought about it the angrier he became. “…No, this doesn’t count as giving. At best, it’s considered lending it to me to foster.”
Xie Yu looked up at the electric lines, also seeming to remember things from the past. The corners of his lips lifted in a smile. “A Rubik’s cube.”
Zhou Dalei said, “Ah?”
Xie Yu said, “A little better than yours. Before Da Mei left, he gave me a Rubik’s cube.”
Xu Yanmei’s cooking really wasn’t all that good. It looked good, but always had its own unique flavor. Besides, she often forgot to add seasoning.
“This is really so good I can’t describe it.” Zhou Dalei swallowed the bok choy. “But I want to ask you something. Since you didn’t put salt in the food, why did you make us go to a concession stand and get it for you?
Xu Yanmei didn’t believe it: “Did I forget to put salt? Not possible. I think I did even better than usual this time around. I paid a lot of attention to every step.”
Xie Yu said: “Try for yourself?”
In the end, the words “eaten their fill” could not be applied to this meal, and they ordered shrimp takeout to save the day.
“Come, cheers—” After several cups of wine, Aunt Mei almost stood up on the table. With one leg horizontally propped on the chair, she slapped her chest. “Come, come and drink! Xiao Yu-er is starting school tomorrow. Everyone, say something.”
Xie Yu reached out and nudged the plate full of shrimp shells in front of Xu Yanmei to one side, worried that she’d knock them off the table.
Zhou Dalei took the lead and stood up with his glass of water: “Boss Xie, I’ll go first. I give you good wishes. I wish that in Liyang Sizhong, you…”
“Sizhong?” Xie Yu couldn’t hold it in any more and kicked him, laughing. “Si, your ass. I go to Erzhong.”
Liyang Erzhong had stood for more than sixty years and was even a little famous in A City.
Its teaching resources were ordinary and its graduation rate wasn’t great, either. It was located in the suburbs, which, to put it nicely, had a quiet, peaceful learning atmosphere with good air. It was close to several non-mainstream schools that had been built later and its position was really awkward.
But the school campus was really architected quite well. The school buildings had been refurbished one by one over the past two years and it didn’t look ‘derelict’ in the least. After all, A City was a large and famous city. Even the suburbs were bustling and the shopping district did booming business.
The school gates were high and imposing. Looking in from the outside, aside from the green plants and trees, the most striking thing was the bronze statue in the middle of the courtyard. Rodin’s The Thinker. On a marble pedestal, the bronze statue shone, ochre and bright.
On the pedestal, the school’s motto was carved in small neat words: The Heart of Innocence.
The four simple gold-embossed words gleamed beneath the sunlight.
The first day of school was very lively.
Many new students came to check in. A large banner hung across the entrance: Welcome year 1 students to the Er Zhong family. Learn, improve, and reach glory together.
All the second-years were crowded around the noticeboard at the door to see the class placements. It was so packed that all of them were sweating heavily. After looking for a while, they saw something and inhaled sharply in unison. “What’s the deal with class 2.3?”
“Class 2.3? Damn, is this a slaughterhouse?”
“…Th-thank goodness I’m in class 5.”
“I suddenly felt a chill.”
“The two school tyrants in one class? What were they thinking? Do they want the school to blow up?”
“Xie Yu, He Zhao…. Fuck me, fuck all of this.”
This group of students were all second-years. In their first year they had been placed into more than a dozen classes. Because the school building construction had been delayed, the year was split into two and put into the West and East buildings, looking upon each other from afar.
The two buildings were linked and there was a corridor between them, but this was mostly for the convenience of teachers getting to their classes. The students sometimes walked through it, but the students in the two buildings didn’t interact for the most part.
And there happened to be two villains in this series of events—
He Zhao of the East, and Xie Yu of the West.
The group of students got together and chitchatted, one sentence followed by another. At last, the whole group fell into silence.
Their minds only contained one word: Terrifying.
The group of people who had been assigned to Class 2.3 trembled. “We probably can’t go to school any more… both these people are legendary hooligans who kill people without batting an eye.”
Hooligan Xie Yu hadn’t even realized what was happening. He dragged his luggage behind him, planning to go to his dorm room and put his things down before going to the classroom to get his books.
Gu Xuelan was going to walk him into the dorm building and even go up to see his dorm room, but he suddenly remembered the whole stack of 5-3² he hadn’t done spread out on the desk, and it wasn’t quite appropriate.
Although the dorm rooms were doubles, Xie Yu had always lived alone.
Er Zhong was a high school that valued freedom. Since the students were encouraged to live at school, the school had made thorough arrangements for all things related to school living. For example, students had the right to switch rooms at any time until they were satisfied. They didn’t need to worry about roommate conflicts; if they didn’t get along, they could swap out immediately.
So Xie Yu had never even seen his roommates. The moment they heard the words ‘Xie Yu’ they all took the long way around the issue; no one dared live with him at all.
Xie Yu rolled his luggage into the room, and immediately a boy with a buzzcut and wearing round-framed spectacles ran down from upstairs. Round Glasses ran like he was on fire to the room opposite Xie Yu’s and stopped.
Round Glasses knocked at the opposite door for a long time. “—Zhao-ge, are you there, Zhao-ge?”
No response whatsoever.
“Is it this room or not? He suddenly said he was going to live in the dorm. Surely he’s not blowing me off?” Round Glasses talked to himself for a while, then raised his hand to knock on the door and found that it wasn’t even locked. With a creak, his knock pushed the door open. “……”
“I, I’m coming in, alright….”
Round Glasses pushed the door open and went in. He glanced around and found someone on the bed to the right.
He Zhao’s eyes were narrowed, a sleepy expression on his face. He sat on the bed with his back to the wall and pulled a box of sweets from the head of the bed. “What’s the commotion about?”
Round Glasses said mysteriously, “Zhao-ge, extremely big news. Did you see the class placement chart? Damn, the whole year’s in an uproar.”
“Haven’t seen it.” He Zhao picked an orange lollipop from the box, unwrapped it in a couple movements, and tossed it in his mouth. “It’s just class placements. What’s there to see?”
Round Glasses stared, stunned, and for a moment seemed to forget he was bringing big news. “Am I going blind? What are these, Zhen Zhi lollipops? You’re eating lollipops?”
He Zhao said: “Recently quit smoking.”
Seeing Round Glasses still staring at him in a daze, like an idiot, He Zhao continued, “What, do you want one too?”
“No, no, no, no need.” Round Glasses kept waving his hand.
He Zhao crunched the lollipop and kept the stick in his mouth. It was sweet, a little cloying. “What’s your extremely big news?”
Only now did Round Glasses remember his mission. He slapped his leg: “Fuck, almost forgot. Zhao-ge, this year is going to be terrible. Like fucking God himself was behind the scenes… Xie Yu’s in your class.”
“Xie Yu from the west building.”
Second-year group, faculty office.
“Who did the class placements for this year? The computer or the form teachers? Surely class placements can’t be done so haphazardly.” Even though the teachers had known the class placements beforehand, they still couldn’t accept it.
A woman stood in front of the water cooler, getting water: “There are only three culture classes this year, and we split classes according to arts and science streams. Class 3 is the only science class. It’s not odd that the placements were done like this.”
Liyang Erzhong was a fine arts oriented school. Their culture stream³ couldn’t outdo students from other schools, but in fine arts, they still had quite a good graduation rate. The school encouraged students to pursue the fine arts from their very first year. In the second year, they might as well split the culture students from the arts students.
The woman had finished getting her water and continued, “No matter how bad those two kids are, they’re just children. If we haven’t tried, how do we know we can’t handle them? Maybe the situation isn’t as bad as we think it is.”
“You can do it?” Another woman who had been sitting without saying a word couldn’t hold it back any more. Her face was green. “If you think you can do it, then why don’t you teach the class?”
“……” The woman who had been getting water fell silent.
”Miss Xu, don’t get angry. Xiao Liu was just making an offhand remark.” Seeing the situation growing worse, the other teachers went over to console her. “This time, the class placements really were too much. Nobody wants to be the homeroom teacher of class 3.”
Xu Xia was the homeroom teacher of class 2.3. She almost fainted when she first saw the class list.
She had been in the teaching profession for over ten years. Even though she didn’t have many outstanding accomplishments, her track record was always better than Xiao Liu’s, and she thought that the school had no reason to put her on the spot like this. She wasn’t aware that her forthright, think-before-you-speak, low-EQ personality had offended quite a lot of people.
“On what basis? They made me responsible for a class like that, on what basis? Isn’t this deliberately putting me on the spot?” Xu Xia was so mad that she didn’t even want to prepare for the class meeting later. “What on earth was the school thinking? Did they want to let these two pieces of rat poop wreck my pot of congee?”
 hadn’t eaten pork but had seen pigs run: no personal experience, but has seen the situation
 5-3: A high school exam revision book.
 Culture and fine arts are two different academic streams that high school students can take. This ‘fine arts’ is different from the ‘arts/science division’ in the culture stream, which is more like a ‘humanities/sciences’ division.