Chapter 15 — Skirts (3)
Lin Mu had originally thought that he might not be able to beat Jiang Tianhe in basketball, but he would definitely not lose to him in a fight. Arranging to meet on the basketball court to play basketball was only for show, as Lin Mu was actually going to just beat the person up one-on-one. However, his plan fell through when An Jincheng poked his nose into their business. Eventually, he could only give up his initial idea and play basketball, as they “planned”.
There was no way to play basketball with just three people, and so during the last half hour of the self-study session, they managed to get seven more boys from their classes to play a game. First-year and second-year teachers were not as strict as the third-year teachers, and they were even supportive of ending the self-study session thirty minutes ahead of time in the name of exercising. Mr. Yang had volunteered to be the referee, and the thin, old man changed specially into Phoenix Suns’ No. 13 jersey, standing on the court with a whistle in his mouth and his hands on his hips.
Sports had never been the elite class’s forte, but Sun Hai, this ex-bully, could be considered half a sports student. Seeing An Jincheng rolling up his sleeves, Lin Mu felt that this person was really trying too hard to put on a cool front.
An Jincheng was secretly referred to as a pretty wallflower of a young master by his schoolmates, and on the forum, they directly called him the wallflower — implying that he would not perform well in the area of physical activity. Lin Mu, too, did not believe that An Jincheng would make a successful transformation into a young and sporty character, but in the end, the situation had become a slap in his face.
From midcourt, Lin Mu passed the ball to Sun Hai; Sun Hai tossed the ball at the net, but after some time, he still did not shoot. Near the sideline, An Jincheng raised his hands. Sun Hai could only grit his teeth and pass the ball to him, then watched as Young Master An coolly performed a jump shot, gaining them three points.
With one eyebrow raised, Lin Mu whistled.
An Jincheng was starting to perspire, but he was still unlike others. Looking closely, his collar was still clean and neat, and his voice was indifferent as he said, “You might as well pass the ball to me rather than Sun Hai. At least I can get the ball in.”
Speechless, Sun Hai felt insulted.
Although Class Three had Jiang Tianhe, the others around him mostly seemed impressive but lacked in real ability, used to swaggering about based on Jiang Tianhe’s name alone.
Just like Lin Mu, Jiang Tianhe originally planned to fight him under the pretense of playing basketball. He did not expect that the class representative of the top class would come and put his foot in as well. Now, they had no choice but to only play the game seriously, even restraining themselves from being too aggressive — the referee would blow his whistle when fouls or other aggressive actions were noted.
More and more students gathered by the courtside. In the end, students from Class Three and the elite class were all there. An Jincheng turned and looked towards the sides of the court, and Lin Mu had to call out to him a few times.
“Stop looking at the courtside,” Lin Mu knocked his head with the ball. “We’re about to win. Who are you looking for?”
An Jincheng shot him a quick glance, feigning casualness as he asked, “Where’s your sister?”
Lin Mu looked at the crowd as well. Not seeing her, he shrugged, “She’s probably not back from Go yet.”
An Jincheng closed his mouth, not saying any more. They had long outscored Class Three greatly, and with ten minutes left, Lin Mu challenged Jiang Tianhe arrogantly.
“Let’s make a deal if you lose.” Lin Mu again darted his way through the people guarding him. By the time Jiang Tianhe rushed towards him, it was too late. He could only watch as Lin Mu passed Sun Hai the ball, and the latter performed a lay-up shot.
Jiang Tianhe was so angry that he wanted to hit his teammates and then beat up Lin Mu. This loss was too embarrassing, yet he could only accept it. With just him and four other useless people, even if he were the superman of basketball, there was no way he could win.
“You sure like to fight on others’ behalf,” Jiang Tianhe could only taunt Lin Mu verbally, “you sissy.”
This was not the first time Lin Mu had been called a sissy, and he had long been unbothered by it. “Only kindergarten children would use this as an insult.”
Jiang Tianhe was wordless.
He thought Lin Mu would make him promise to never bully Cao Zhan again, but in the end, after the match, Lin Mu had left him in suspense instead.
“It’s not like I can’t beat you in a fight.” Lin Mu pointed at Jiang Tianhe. “If you ever bully Dopey again, I’ll kick your butt for sure.”
When the match ended, Mr. Yang made the two teams shake hands. With a dark expression, Jiang Tianhe ground his teeth.
The so-called “promise” was hence owed for the time being.
With the end of the basketball game, the forum once again descended into bloodshed. Someone created a few threads on the forum in which the images captured during the match were uploaded, and these threads were focused mainly on ‘the wallflower is actually so manly!’ and ‘We should change Lin Mu’s nickname from ‘The Prince of the Night Forest’ to ‘the Knight of the Night Forest’!’.
“Oh please, a knight is not much trendier than a prince!” It was one of the most liked comments on the thread.
Lin Zhao did not watch the match, purely because she did not want to get involved with the crowd. Lin Mu went to pick her up after school, bumping into Lu Rong who was about to head upstairs.
The first-year special needs students were soon about to begin their evening self-study sessions. Lu Rong was bringing Chen Meihua to familiarize herself with the special education classroom.
When she saw the siblings, Chen Meihua called out without thinking, “Jiejie!”
Lin Zhao and Lin Mu both froze simultaneously.
A while later, Lin Zhao forced a smile at the grandmother and grandson.
Although Lin Zhao had previously said that she would not clean up the mess Lin Mu made, she still could not bear to sell her brother out at this critical juncture.
“You’re not going home yet?” Lin Zhao signed at Lu Rong. “Is Granny visiting the classroom?”
Only after signing did she remember that she should have used Chen Meihua’s nickname. Next to her, Lin Mu was in deep despair, rubbing his forehead as he tried to conceal his emotions.
Lu Rong did not seem to register the mistake. He signed back simply, “We’ll return home once we finish seeing the classroom.”
Lin Mu quickly asked, “Do you want me to take you there?”
Lu Rong looked at him and nodded without much hesitation.
Lin Zhao sighed in relief, hurriedly signing that she would leave first.
Lin Mu brought Lu Rong and Chen Meihua upstairs, continuing to help his “sister” patch up the lie. “She still has to attend Go sessions, so she’s quite busy.”
Lu Rong’s gaze fell on his face and said noncommittally, “Is that so?”
Lin Mu’s smile was a little stiff, and he could only brace himself and continue weaving the lie. “Didn’t you attend the bazaar during the weekend together? My sister even brought home a little yellow duckling hairclip, it’s quite nice.”
Lu Rong smiled a little. Walking with Lin Mu to the entrance of the special education classroom, Lu Rong turned around. Bending his neck slightly, he suddenly asked, “Do you like the hairclip?”
Lin Mu fell into a daze for about a second, second. There seemed to be something grasping at his heart, and it took him some time before he could rearrange his expression and speak nonchalantly, “I think my sister looks quite cute with it. Did Meimei make it herself?”
Lu Rong looked at him for some time, and he then gave a very faint smile.
“I made it by myself,” he said, “didn’t your sister tell you?”
A lie was sometimes a trap in itself. Lin Mu clearly remembered that Lu Rong had mentioned it was Chen Meihua who made the hairclip, but he had to pretend that this was the first time he was hearing it, and so shook his head innocently.
Lu Rong did not ask any further questions. Pulling his grandmother’s hand, he brought her around the classroom. Arranging a couple of desks and chairs, he also let her meet some of her new “classmates”.
“Most of them have gone home already.” Cao Zhan was waiting for his mother, Ji Qingwen, to pick him up, so had not left yet. He recognized Lu Rong’s face, and so took the rare initiative to speak to him. “Everyone will be here tomorrow.”
Having had lunch together, Meimei and Cao Zhan discovered that they shared a common enemy —mushrooms — and so they had formed a revolutionary friendship in this war.
Lin Mu noticed Lu Rong was still wearing his own clothes, and some thoughts crossed his mind, “You haven’t had your uniforms measured?”
Lu Rong nodded. “They’ll start tomorrow.”
His eyes moved to Lin Mu’s shirt, “Was it warm?”
Lin Mu did not catch his drift. “What?”
Lu Rong bit his lip, quietly saying, “When you were playing basketball.”
Lin Mu finally got the drift. “You were watching?”
Lu Rong did not admit it, but neither did he deny it. He only reached out, flicking Lin Mu’s collar lightly. “It’s damp.”