They found a secluded place: a grassy field near the equipment room with a large rock mimicking a mountain at its center. The three squatted, resting against the ‘mountain.’
Xie Yu was about to stand up when He Zhao pulled him back down. “Stay right there. Talk. Keep talking.”
Actually, there wasn’t much to say.
Xie Yu didn’t know anyone called Liu Yuan. He just remembered that the girl had buried her face in her hands, squatted on the floor, and cried.
Yang Wenyuan was terrified and didn’t dare face Xie Yu head on. After two blows from a stick, he turned and ran out. Xie Yu had no intention of squatting and comforting the girl, either. He felt that he had done his civic duty, and tossed the wooden stick he had randomly grabbed into a stall, then started to walk out.
He had just taken a step when a hand caught his pant leg and the girl said weakly, “…Don’t tell anyone, I beg of you.”
“Yeah, that’s her,” Shen Jie said. “Terribly timid, and would rather be bullied than make a sound.”
Shen Jie added, “So you beat up Goody-two-shoes Yang until he ran?”
He Zhao didn’t quite understand, either. “Then why does this dude only pester me? Envious of my good looks?”
Xie Yu said calmly, “…I was wearing a mask.”
Although the smell in the toilet wasn’t that strong, the scent of disinfectant was terrible. Xie Yu had grabbed a mask before he went, not expecting he would really use it.
He Zhao let out a thoughtful, “Ah.”
Shen Jie immediately exposed He Zhao’s unrealistic thoughts: “Forget it, Zhao-ge. It’s no use even if you wear a mask. Big bro Xie only beat him up, but just think about what you’ve done.”
“What did I do? I didn’t hit him,” He Zhao said. “I was very merciful.”
If pulling someone’s pants off, standing to the side and mocking their dick for being small, and letting them run around naked for almost two to three hours counted as merciful, Yang Wenyuan would probably rather get beaten up.
After hearing the ins and outs of it all, Xie Yu sank into silence, too.
He Zhao said, “I really don’t like fighting. I pick a peaceful way of settling things.”
Peaceful… it really was peaceful.
No wonder Yang Wenyuan couldn’t let it go. That event definitely ranked among the most humiliating things in life, especially for a proud elite student like him. How could he endure this? When Liu Yuan transferred schools, he had thought this piece of blackmail would now have no opposing witness, and took the chance to make trouble.
But He Zhao, because of a girl’s plea and her reputation, had stood there enduring everything without a word even though Yang Wenyuan had barked right up to his front door. It made Xie Yu look at his deskmate in a different light.
“If not, would I have let him live till now?” He Zhao picked up a pebble and threw it as he spoke. It landed on an exercise machine, then rolled a couple times. After it had gone, he said, “It’s been really damn awful holding it in.”
The latter half of Shen Jie’s class period had been changed to a boys’ assembly: the boys would go to the soccer field, line up, and practice passing. So they only chatted for a while before Shen Jie had to stand up and dust himself off: “Class assembly, I have to go. Let’s talk later. Calm down, Zhao-ge. You absolutely have to stay calm.”
He Zhao waved at him without looking up. “Get lost, you.”
The temperature outside was 32°C (90°F), and Xie Yu didn’t really want to stay here under the hot sun.
Just as he was about to leave, He Zhao suddenly pulled him down to lie down together on the grass. The afternoon sun was so bright Xie Yu couldn’t open his eyes. He narrowed them, wondering if he had been too good-tempered in the last couple days, leading his deskmate to misunderstand him. But then he heard He Zhao’s careless words: “Anyone can be a teacher, huh.”
A few clouds leisurely drifted past.
He Zhao reflexively reached for his pocket but only came up with a lollipop. It was hot and the sweet had melted a little, soft to the touch.
An unspeakable feeling rose within him. Several voices echoed by his ear, from Xu Xia’s bullshit to Goody-two-shoes Yang’s, “Your grades suck.”
He Zhao turned and asked Xie Yu, “Do you have a cigarette?”
Xie Yu said, “No.”
With difficulty, He Zhao unwrapped the lollipop.
Xie Yu smelled it. Damn strawberries again.
The two lay on the grass for a while not speaking. Just as He Zhao crunched up his lollipop, Xie Yu suddenly sat up and kicked him. “Let’s go.”
He Zhao asked, “Go where?”
Xie Yu said, “If this teacher won’t do anything then let’s find another one.”
The weather was too hot. As Xie Yu spoke, he grabbed his collar and fanned himself.
He Zhao was flashed a large expanse of skin and the deep dip of Xie Yu’s collarbone. Xie Yu had a good figure: although he wasn’t especially tall, he had everything he ought to, and when he lifted his shirt, he wasn’t a skinny pork rib. A boy of this age hadn’t fully grown into himself, but he was youthful, beautiful and adamant, with sharp teeth and claws.
He Zhao was a little dazed.
He wasn’t sure if it was because of Xie Yu’s bafflingly audacious words, or Xie Yu himself in front of him.
He Zhao and Xie Yu jumped the chain-link fence surrounding the dorms, bypassed the lobby, and went in through the side door.
Since a lot of students lived in school, the school had special rules for students going in and out of the dorms. If they went back to the dorms during class time, whether to get something or because they weren’t feeling well and needed rest, they had to show a signed slip from the teacher and sign in at the lobby.
The chain-link fence wasn’t hard to climb, but no one dared to. The Dean of Students was nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ and his office window directly overlooked the dorms. If one were unlucky enough to be seen by him, they’d be fortunate to get out alive.
“Toilet, stall, phone.” Xie Yu jumped in, hand supporting his weight on the ground. He didn’t even turn back as he said those key phrases, then continued, “Think about it.”
He Zhao thought about it. “What are we doing? Making sentences from vocabulary like in elementary school?”
Xie Yu: “……”
They were accustomed to doing this and jumped the fence with accuracy, grace, and speed, like they had professional training.
From the soccer field, Shen Jie saw the two silhouettes jump the fence from afar. He thought they seemed familiar, but before he could be sure, the two silhouettes had already disappeared.
“That’s strange.” Shen Jie rubbed the back of his head. “…Why does that guy look so much like Zhao-ge?”
“You live in the dorms, too?” He Zhao followed up the stairs and discovered that they were drawing closer and closer to his dorm room when Xie Yu stopped at the door directly opposite his.
Xie Yu reached for the spare key on top of the door: “‘Too?’ Where do you live?”
“Look across the corridor.” He Zhao pointed. “Right across from you.”
Xie Yu internally said, So you’re the idiot who put, ‘Preparing for the college exams. Do not disturb,’ up on your door?
He Zhao introduced the piece of paper on his door. “Teachers usually don’t come in to check my room, worried they’ll disturb me studying. It’s very effective. If you get a chance, try it out.”
“No, thank you.”
Xie Yu went in, pulled out the box from under his bed, and started looking for something.
Inside were mostly miscellaneous goods: torches, backup batteries, bandages…
He Zhao sat on the chair and looked at him. “What are you looking for?”
Xie Yu ignored him.
He Zhao was bored and looked around the room, which was relatively clean. On the desk was a computer; He Zhao’s gaze swept past it and landed on the Rubik’s cube beside the pen holder.
By the time Xie Yu found his old phone, He Zhao had already solved the Rubik’s cube. Every face was a single color, neat and tidy.
“Don’t know if it’s still here.” Xie Yu pressed the keypad. “I made a recording.”
He Zhao’s hand suddenly stilled on the Rubik’s cube. He wondered if he had heard wrongly.
Xie Yu repeated, “That day in the toilet I made a recording. That Yang-whatever—everything he said is in there. I almost forgot.”
This way of thinking was a little precocious for a high school student. They were still at a reckless age, and in an urgent situation they often raised their fists and rushed forward. What high school student had these endlessly circling, twisting trains of thought?
When Yang Wenyuan had dragged Liu Yuan into the toilet, Xie Yu’s first reaction was to pull up the voice recorder.
After the fact, he had intended to ask Liu Yuan if she needed evidence to expose him, but Liu Yuan’s reaction of ‘just let things lie’ had been too strong. If she had intended to fight back, things wouldn’t be this way now.
She was worried people would find out, even though she was the real victim.
“Withdrawing from school… Damn it, the school acts that quickly?”
Several days later, a new notice went up on the school noticeboard. A large crowd of people surrounded it. Liu Cunhao, who had arrived late, stood with his friends at the very edge of the circle, tiptoeing and squinting to see. “E-expulsion as punishment…”
When Liu Cunhao read the next line he was completely stunned. “Fuck me. Yang Wenyuan?”
“Yang Wenyuan got expelled? What about He Zhao?” A boy standing beside Liu Cunhao was shocked, too. “What on earth is going on?”
Times changed faster than anyone could imagine. Not only the students, even Xu Xia was totally stunned.
She had taught Yang Wenyuan for a year. His studies were top-notch and he had great chances of getting into a first-tier university.
Now she remembered the guarantees for Yang Wenyuan she had made to the school, and her mind went blank. The world spun around her and she finally came up with two words: I’m finished.
The recording He Zhao handed to the school had been altered to remove Liu Yuan’s voice, but all the despicable things Yang Wenyuan had said were still in there, word for word. Yang Wenyuan demonstrated the art of ‘changing faces’ on the spot, followed shortly by his whole family. They completely dropped their self-righteous attitudes of the previous few days, and even grabbed He Zhao by the hand to plead for their son: “I know you’re a good kid…”
He Zhao almost laughed. “Ah, are you on a radio show? Now that you need my help, I’m a good kid?”
The school official asked who the girl was, and He Zhao responded, “Can you guarantee the victim’s privacy won’t be violated?”
Only the upper levels of the school knew the entire facts, and the information was kept strictly under wraps.
But Goody-two-shoes Yang’s crimes were set in stone.
On the day of the expulsion, Shen Jie was so happy he treated his whole class to soft drinks. When he came to find He Zhao he found the class rep of Class 3 apologizing to his Zhao-ge.
Aside from the class rep, all of class 2.3 was hiding behind the windows and watching.
It was a magnificent scene.
Liu Cunhao’s face had gone red. “Sorry, Classmate He Zhao. I didn’t have my facts right…”
He Zhao gravely patted Liu Cunhao’s shoulders, then followed up smoothly: “It’s all right, it’s all right. Life is always full of surprises. I’m not only handsome, but also very magnanimous.”
Liu Cunhao: “……”
Shen Jie: “……” He couldn’t look.
Xie Yu couldn’t keep listening, either. He held his phone with one hand, and with the other he fumbled at his side and found a pencil case. He tossed it right out of the window and it landed on He Zhao. “Shut up.”
The so-called ‘school tyrants’ had been somewhat demonized. Their stories had mostly been rumors which spread from person to person, half falsehoods and half truths. No one knew what the real truth was, in the end.
But now, the students of Class 2.3 realized for the first time that these two school tyrants were a little different from how the legends made them out to be.