After Xu Xia’s colleagues consoled her in the faculty office, Xu Xia finally felt the anger lodged in her heart loosen. Only then did she take the class register and go to class. It was already more than ten minutes past the class meeting’s start time when she left the office.
Xie Yu hadn’t intended to be late. He had put away all his things, which had taken some time, before setting off for the school building. He had expected to be stopped in the classroom doorway and hadn’t expected the form teacher to arrive even later than he did.
As Xie Yu passed by the windows, the classroom, which had been lively with chattering, suddenly went silent. Everyone sat up straight and looked straight ahead, even though there was nothing written on the blackboard.
“Classmates, my surname is Liu and my name is Cunhao. That’s right, Liu Cunhao. I’m guessing that everyone has more or less heard stories about me. I was class rep of class 1.7 last year and I have a lot of experience with managing a class. But I hope that when we pick a class rep later, that you please don’t pick me.”
Everyone was as quiet as chickens. The boy stood with his back to the windows, his words flowing continuously.
He was quite a silver-tongued boy, and he gesticulated with his hands when he spoke. “Don’t pick me. Give the opportunity to someone who needs it more, especially someone who has never been class rep. I think we very much need to give them a chance to stretch themselves.”
The people near him winked wildly, hinting to him to look out of the window, but Liu Cunhao didn’t notice their intentions at all. “…All in all, don’t pick me. What are you doing? Don’t make eyes at me. I don’t intend to have an early romance.”
—Xie Yu raised a hand and knocked on the door.
Liu Cunhao turned to look in the direction of the sound and was instantly rendered speechless. “……”
Liu Cunhao’s deskmate lowered his voice and whispered, “Hao-ge, everyone was hinting so obviously, but you were so self-absorbed…”
Liu Cunhao’s heart contained hundreds and thousands of words he wasn’t sure how to speak. All he could do was silently sit down and pretend nothing had ever happened. “If something’s up couldn’t you damn well say it directly? What did you wink and nudge for?”
Xie Yu had become famous early on.
When he first entered the school, the wild rumors that he had copied his exam answers had given him the status of a god of cheating in everyone’s hearts.
At first, the discussion went in this direction: This guy is powerful. Too powerful. Even in the high school entrance exams he dared to cheat. I heard that even if his original grades were multiplied by three, it wouldn’t be enough to get into Er Zhong.
Later, Xie Yu had skipped class and gotten into a fight outside school. One against five. The punishment was a public shaming in front of the school. It was posted on the noticeboard in big font for nearly a semester. With one fight, he had made his name.
Right now, Xie Yu stood in the doorway with his bag slung over one shoulder and his hands stuck in his pockets. His expression was blank.
The classroom was already full of people. Once people heard about the class placement situation, even the students on sick leave had asked the classmates they knew to reserve a seat for them with their bags. They were worried to death that when school started, a living King of Hell would be sitting next to them.
Xie Yu glanced around. There were only two empty seats in the second column of the last row. So he walked toward the last row at a leisurely pace.
Some students whispered to each other: “Is this all right? Doesn’t this mean the two of them will sit together? One mountain can’t house two tigers. What if some chemical reaction happens between the two of them? Will the classroom explode?”
“Then, do you want to sit with Xie Yu?”
“…I don’t want to die yet.”
About five or six minutes later, Xu Xia finally walked into class, books in hand. “Is everyone here already? Who’s missing?”
Liu Cunhao had said he didn’t want to be the class rep, but he was used to being the class rep. His body didn’t listen to his mind and he reflexively raised his hand and stood up. “Miss Xu, one person isn’t here yet.”
Xie Yu had drunk some wine last night and was still groggy now. He pillowed his head on his arms and went to sleep.
Xu Xia looked around, her gaze resting on a certain someone in the last row for a while before moving away with a frown. “Let’s not bother with the people who aren’t here. After the class meeting, go downstairs to get your books. You know where to get them, right? Then I’ll start with some items on the class meeting agenda…”
Xu Xia didn’t want to bother with the person who was late, but the person who was late swaggered up to the door.
“Reporting—” He Zhao stood in the doorway. He said very politely. “Sorry, I’m late.”
The silhouette in the doorway was striking. Black T-shirt, dark blue jeans folded up at the ankles. When he spoke, his voice held a casual laugh. One could tell at a glance that he was a hot commodity fought over by girls every day. He was the type who would cause trouble but no one could stay mad at after taking one look at him.
Not at all like a hooligan, lazy and languid and shapeless. He seemed quite alert.
Xu Xia was surprised.
She hadn’t taught Xie Yu and He Zhao before, but she had heard the stories that had spread through the school. Her mental image of them had been of two boys who walked with a slouch, didn’t have any skills, kicked tables and chairs, and didn’t wear their clothes properly.
Today, she had seen something new—although her impression of Xie Yu was still only that of the back of his head.
Xu Xia had a child who was almost in middle school, and her heart wasn’t much like a young girl’s any more. She had disliked He Zhao coming in and she still kind of disliked him. She was about to take out her anger on him, the words on the tip of her tongue, but before she could speak, He Zhao stretched out his hand and produced someone from behind. “Please, at least let me explain the reason I was late.”
Round Glasses stumbled out, unceremoniously dragged by He Zhao. “Hi everyone, I’m Shen Jie from class 2.8. Today, I was suddenly taken ill in the corridor. I owe everything to brave Classmate He who lent a hand in my time of need. I have chronic… uh, chronic…”
Shen Jie, who had suddenly forgotten what illness he had, stammered for a long time.
He Zhao reminded him: “Chronic non-atrophic gastritis.”
“Couldn’t you have given me a simpler one?” Shen Jie said.
He Zhao: “The longer the name the more serious it seems.”
Xu Xia’s stomach was full of anger she couldn’t vent.
These two were ignoring her like she was an idiot?
“You two are so harmonized. Are you in an acapella group?” She pointed to the audience. “I don’t want to waste everyone’s time. Find an empty seat and sit down. Right there. Beside the one who’s lying down and sleeping.”
Xie Yu, who was lying on the desk and sleeping, twitched. He might have heard something, or perhaps he had felt several dozen pairs of eyes watching him. He raised his head and sat up, slowly opening his eyes. “……”
He Zhao: “……”
The atmosphere was a little strange.
And very mysterious.
Liu Cunhao passed a note to his deskmate. On it was written, Are they going to fight?
His deskmate replied, I can already feel the ripples of power in the air. Very vicious.
Under the gazes of ten thousand pairs of eyes, He Zhao only said one word: “Friend?”
Xie Yu: “……”
“It’s fate,” He Zhao said. “What a coincidence.”
Although no one knew what was going on, and no one knew when these two big bros had crossed the space between the West and East buildings to forge a friendship, all of Class 2.3 collectively heaved a sigh of relief.
They had imagined a terrifying, heartrending scene where blood flowed like a river.
Xu Xia went over some things: seating arrangements, class rep selection, and several pieces of homework to be done ahead of the next class. She concluded the first part of the meeting, saying that she hoped everyone would welcome the new semester with a fresh start.
“There’s still some time left. I’ll go down the register. When your name is called, come up and briefly introduce yourself.”
Amidst the applause, He Zhao also leisurely clapped several times.
Xie Yu was dizzy and lay down again.
“My name is Wan Da. I have many interests, such as reading, sports…”
“Hi, everyone. My name is Xue Xisheng. I hope that everyone can fight together, strive, and improve.”
He Zhao listened for a while, then tapped Xie Yu’s shoulder. He turned and asked, “Hey, do you know who Xie Yu is?”
Xie Yu, lying on the desk, also turned to look at him. “Ah?”
The student up front had a shy personality and spoke like a buzzing mosquito. He hemmed and hawed for a long time about his hobbies and interests before finally managing to say, “Swimming.” He walked away from the podium like he had put down a heavy burden.
He Zhao added: “It’s that guy, west building, that non-mainstream idiot who wears black nail polish.”
He Zhao was somewhat curious about the West Building Big Bro of legend. He didn’t much care for the pile of great accomplishments belonging to Xie Yu of the West, but the black nail polish had left a particularly deep impression for some reason. He had already looked around the class and could only sigh that wise people didn’t show themselves; Xie Yu had removed the black nail polish and He Zhao couldn’t see who it was.
Xie Yu looked at him with a complicated expression.
“Friend, do you know him or not?” He Zhao followed up. “…Actually, I’m quite interested in him. If I have a chance, I want to go a couple rounds.”
Xu Xia announced from the podium: “Next, Xie Yu.”
Xie Yu slowly and leisurely stood up without looking at He Zhao’s face to see what expression he was wearing. He walked to the podium and used chalk to write the two words “Xie Yu” on the blackboard. His handwriting was sharp and quite beautiful.
Then he tossed the chalk back in the box, dusted off his hands, and made a short and sharp self-introduction: “Xie Yu. Also, I don’t wear black nail polish.”
When Xie Yu said the last sentence, his gaze was fixed on a certain idiot. But that idiot surnamed He wasn’t embarrassed at all. Even amidst the silence, as the whole audience wasn’t sure what to say, the idiot took the lead and started applauding. The epitome of tact. “Good! Well said!”
Xie Yu: “……”
After Xie Yu finished his self-introduction and returned to his seat, He Zhao stared at Xie Yu’s hands without even attempting to hide it. Xie Yu was bored and was doodling on some paper. Noticing he was being stared at, he threw down his pen. “Are you sick.”
He Zhao said: “You really don’t wear it? The you in the legend isn’t like that.”
In the legends of the West Building Big Bro, the nail polish played a very important role. At least, the reason He Zhao had remembered the name Xie Yu was because of the non-mainstream nail polish.
“Legend my **.”
He Zhao went straight for Xie Yu’s hand. “Don’t move. Let me see.”
Xie Yu hadn’t expected he’d go straight for him. By the time Xie Yu recovered, his hand was already grasped in He Zhao’s.
Xie Yu’s hands looked quite elegant, even gentle.
Clean, long-fingered with prominent bones. His nails were well-kept and neat.
When Xie Yu was young and his living conditions had still been good, Gu Xuelan had suggested he learn to play the piano. She said that his fingers were slender and long, and thus very suitable for the piano. Later, after Xie Yu started happily raising his fists against others, some parents would bring their children to Xie Yu’s house almost every day saying, ‘what’s up with your kid, why does he hit people?’
Gu Xuelan had never mentioned piano again.
He Zhao had just caught the hand and hadn’t even had the time to inspect it closely before Xie Yu straight up exploded. He snatched his hand back: “…Fuck, what the hell is your damage.”