First Published on Chaleuria
04 – Unexpectedly Fighting Side By Side
When Yao Yuan and Su Mu rushed over, both sides were still staring each other down. Zhang Chen had listened to Yao Yuan and done his best to pacify his teammates, making sure that their side did not start the fight at the very least. The P.E. department seemed to have the same idea. Although their words were provocative, they also seemed to have no intention of using violence.
When Zhang Chen and the others saw Yao Yuan approach, they immediately took a step back. Yao Yuan calmly walked over to his brothers while Su Mu stood on the grass to one side, unruffled by the chaos, and watched the situation develop.
“The cowardly turtle finally shows himself. I thought you were going to hide in your shell forever.” Hu Lin’s vicious gaze was fixed on Yao Yuan. They were not strangers to each other. They had fought each other many times on the P.E. court, and Hu Lin had even challenged Yao Yuan to a fight only to be arrogantly rejected. Yao Yuan’s deep disdain had thoroughly infuriated Hu Lin, and this time, he would make sure that Yao Yuan never had a chance to recover.
“Better to be a cowardly turtle than a mad dog who will bite anyone,” Yao Yuan leisurely retorted.
“You…” Hu Lin clenched his fists tightly. If not for his old man, who had warned him not to land the first blow at all costs, he would already have ruined Yao Yuan’s hateful face with a punch. Hu Lin took a deep breath and cast his gaze afar, happening to catch sight of Su Mu. He remembered the rumor he had heard earlier that day and a smile crept onto his lips. “Yao Yuan, why is Young Master Su here? Are you really willing to bottom for the sake of money? If you’re really that shameless, you might as well come find me!”
As he spoke, the P.E. department erupted into vulgar laughter while Zhang Chen and the others cast their worries aside, clenched their fists tightly and rushed up.
Anger boiled in Yao Yuan’s chest. He wanted to beat up the thick-faced, shameless guy until he was satisfied. But he couldn’t let his brothers offend the narrow-minded vice principal for his sake, so he clamped down on his fury and yelled to the people on his side, “Get back! If you use force today, we’re no longer brothers!”
“But, Yuan-ge, this guy is too much!”
“Don’t you know who he is? Do you want to graduate or not? Is it worth it to put your future on the line for this rabid dog?”
“Yuan-ge…” Of course they knew who Hu Lin was, but they hadn’t expected Yuan-ge to hesitate for such a reason. Just because Hu Lin was Vice Principal Hu’s son, Yuan-ge would give up and let Hu Lin insult him as he wished? It made them feel like they didn’t know Yao Yuan at all.
“Leave!” Yao Yuan pointed into the distance. “Don’t make me say it again.”
They looked at each other, aware that no one could change Yao Yuan’s mind once it had been made, and left, heads hanging. They were inwardly dissatisfied that their chief, whom they thought always repaid gratitude and exacted revenge, had bowed his head in the face of power. They found the situation very difficult to accept.
“Ha ha… indeed…”
Hu Lin’s words stuck in his throat before he could finish them, as Yao Yuan’s fist landed on his face. Yao Yuan didn’t like punching people in the face, but Hu Lin really had incensed him; his fists were merciless, every blow quicker than the last. Hu Lin had no time to dodge and he ran out of strength to retaliate in a few short rounds. He fell to the ground, clutching his nose, eyes wide with incomprehension.
Yao Yuan retracted his fists and looked down at him. “I told them not to hit you, I didn’t say I wouldn’t hit you. If I let you off today I’m not Yao Yuan!”
Su Mu really wanted to clap and cheer for him, but the group of idiots had turned around and come back. He sighed and stood in the way of Zhang Chen and the others, blocking their return. In his usual elegant manner, he asked, “Are you trying to waste his good intentions?”
“Yuan-ge, he…” When they saw Yao Yuan throw that first punch just now, they understood his intent. He was protecting them.
“We won’t leave him here alone!” Zhang Chen looked to where they had left Yao Yuan. He was already surrounded by a crowd. Hu Lin, who had come to his senses, was watching it all with a sense of schadenfreude.
“We can all go.” Of course, Su Mu had also seen what was going on. He took off his coat and threw it on the ground. “I won’t let anything happen to him.”
Zhang Chen was still pondering the meaning of those words when he saw the usually delicate young master launch a brutal kick. The nearly 2m tall student immediately stumbled. Zhang Chen looked on with shock.
Su Mu threw punches with a speed and strength matching Yao Yuan’s, and very quickly, after beating up the first student, he regrouped with Yao Yuan. They stood back to back, facing five or six tall strong boys with no fear, and even had the leisure to chitchat.
“You knew this was going to happen and yet you insisted on fighting. Yao Yuan, are you an idiot?”
“Enduring insults is not my style. But Young Master Su, are you really willing to take off that hypocritical mask in front of everyone?”
“I want to be your friend.”
“Not to leave a good impression on my sister?”
“I’m not ruling that out.”
They spoke as if no one else was around, which thoroughly incensed their opponents. The group exchanged glances and rushed together toward the two of them. Yao Yuan and Su Mu focused on their opponents and no longer had the wherewithal to chat. As Yao Yuan fought furiously, he glimpsed Zhang Chen and the others dash into the fray. He inwardly cursed, then yelled out loud, “You— goddamn, stop right there, or don’t blame me for cutting ties with you all!”
“Yuan-ge…” Zhang Chen couldn’t stand by and watch Yao Yuan outnumbered and beaten up, but he also didn’t dare defy Yao Yuan’s order. He stood there, caught between a rock and a hard place.
“Zhang Chen, do you consider me your chief or not?” In the moment of distraction, Yao Yuan took a heavy punch to the shoulder. He cursed, then swept his leg outward and tripped the person who had hit him.
“Yuan-ge…” No matter how unwilling Zhang Chen was, he didn’t dare take another step forward.
“Get lost!” Yao Yuan shouted angrily, continuing to throw brutal punches. “If you want to help me, find Jiang Luo!”
Zhang Chen hesitated again before finally leading the others away reluctantly.
Yao Yuan didn’t really want to drag Jiang Luo into this; he had just needed an excuse to send the others away. Now, he could finally fight without worry, throwing punches and kicks with great fervor. Su Mu glanced at him; of course, Su Mu was unwilling to look weak in comparison. Fifteen minutes later, their enemies all lay on the ground, heavily bruised. Hu Lin looked on in disbelief. Conviction solidified in his heart and he drew a knife from his waist, then lunged towards Yao Yuan who had his back to him.
“Yao Yuan!” Su Mu yelled.
Yao Yuan didn’t know what was happening behind him, but when he saw Su Mu’s face turn sheet-white, his heart jumped. He turned, jumped into the air and kicked outward, happening to make contact with the knife in Hu Lin’s hand, sending it flying.
“Yuan, you’ve got some skills!” Su Mu clapped and cheered.
“Don’t call me that, it’s disgusting.” Yao Yuan hadn’t forgotten Hu Lin’s most vicious verbal attack. He glared at Su Mu, then spoke to Hu Lin: “I’m warning you. Settle your matters with me and don’t bring innocent people into this.”
“Yao Yuan, this isn’t over. Just you wait!” After throwing down this threat, Hu Lin limped away with his useless lackeys,¹ and they vanished from sight. Su Mu couldn’t hold himself up any longer and lay on the ground face-up, looking up at the darkening sky, panting heavily. The brawl had sapped all his strength.
“You’re really a young master.” Yao Yuan pursed his lips.
“You’re not tired?” Su Mu didn’t believe Yao Yuan had that much stamina.
Yao Yuan sat down next to him and cocked one leg. It was a long time before he spoke. “Why did you help me? Don’t tell me Young Master Su likes helping people.”
“Like you said, I want to leave a good impression on Yao Qian,” Su Mu replied idly, pillowing his head on his hands.
“I won’t agree to it. Putting aside what you are like, prominent families like yours are very concerned with marriage prospects being of similar status. When the time comes, my sister will have a difficult time.”
“Yao Yuan, don’t you believe I can protect the people I love?” Su Mu turned and looked up at Yao Yuan’s handsome face.
“I don’t trust you at all.” Yao Yuan turned to meet his gaze.
Their gazes met in midair. They were both trying to discern the other’s heart through their eyes, but neither of them was able to look through the other. Su Mu was accustomed to hiding himself and Yao Yuan understood that, in front of Su Mu, he could not be completely open. As he had said just now: he didn’t trust Su Mu, he never had.
A long time later, they both averted their eyes. Yao Yuan jumped up and dusted the grass off himself. “Anyway, I owe you one. I’ll return the favor some other day.”
“Buy me a drink?” Su Mu asked with a grin.
“I’m sure Young Master Su will find a use for me. So, goodbye.” To Yao Yuan, a drop of kindness accepted must be repaid with a wellspring. Today, Su Mu had joined a fight for him. This couldn’t be repaid simply with a drink.
“Yao Yuan,” Su Mu stopped him. “Hu Lin is not going to stop here. And what about Vice Principal Hu?”
“I know. I’ll be careful.” Yao Yuan waved at him without turning around, then walked away.
Su Mu smiled. Yao Yuan, you are loyal, but this is your greatest weakness. If it is used well…
“Don’t get ideas about him.”
The clear voice by Su Mu’s ear made him look up. He first saw a pair of phoenix eyes² filled with warning; he stood up, looking at the person with disbelief.
“Su Mu, his world is a simple one. Don’t destroy him.”
“Jiang Luo, how do you know I have ideas about him?”
“In Young Master Su’s eyes, there are only two sorts of people in the world: those who can be used, and those who cannot. Today, you extended your hand to help him. The Su family doesn’t do business where they make a loss.” Jiang Luo brushed away the hair by his ear; the motion wasn’t feminine, but casual and carefree instead.
“It looks like my brother gave you a lot.”
“The boss is not like you. He is willing to give up anything for the things he cares about. But you don’t care about anything at all.”
Su Mu clapped lightly, the smile on his face growing cruel. “Jiang Luo, you understand me. Then you should also understand that when I have my eye on something, I won’t give up easily.”
Jiang Luo shook his head helplessly. Su Mu was right, and now the prey he had his eye on was Yao Yuan. He would do anything it took to conquer him and use him, and Jiang Luo could even imagine how Su Mu would reach his goal. But aside from warning Yao Yuan, he could do nothing.
“Jiang Luo.” Su Mu clapped him on the shoulder. “I won’t destroy him. I’ll fulfill him. I’ll let him achieve a success he would have never even dared think about before.”
“Let him go, Su Mu. He’s not suitable for business, and you shouldn’t drag him into that complicated society.” Jiang Luo was confident that he understood Yao Yuan very well. Yao Yuan disliked evil and considered it an enemy, he could not withstand the darkness of the business world, let alone become one of its originators.
“But I know I need someone like that by my side.”
“Let’s stop there, Jiang Luo. You know you can’t change my mind.” Su Mu picked up his trench coat from the ground, dusted off the grass on it, and put it on. “Tell my elder brother that that guy has returned from the States.”
“You mean…” This news shocked Jiang Luo no less than when Su Mu had lent Yao Yuan a helping hand.
“Yes, the guy for whom my brother willingly gave up everything.” Su Mu carelessly left these words behind, then left without a backwards glance. He still could not accept the decision his elder brother had made all those years ago.
Jiang Luo stood there in a daze, his mind in turmoil. Too much had happened today and he needed to think about it carefully. The boss, Yao Yuan, and himself…. He looked up at the sky, which was gradually growing more chaotic. What ending awaits us…?
 The phrase used is ‘shrimp soldiers and crab generals’: In mythology there is a story that the Sea Dragon King once sent a small group of crab and shrimp to fight against his enemy, who did not consider them a threat. Now refers to an enemy’s useless or unreliable lackeys.
 Phoenix eyes: Long, narrow eyes that tilt upward at the outer corners.