Chapter 5: A New Year (1)
The lunch break in Kunqian High was short. Even though it was just the first day of school, students were were asked to distribute books to their classes, and then they had to attend their various club meetings in the afternoon. The first half of the semester for the second-year students was not stressful, but under the school’s strict education system, no class was allowed to fall behind.
With the little freedom that he barely squeezed out, Lin Mu sprawled across the balcony railing in the corridor on the second floor, looking at the sports ground not too far away. With Lin Mu’s bright, keen sight, in his words, even if there were a housefly rubbing its feet on the ground, he would be able to see how many times its feet had rubbed together.
After dealing with his books, Sun Hai too stared out at the grounds with him. A while later, Xu Yilu joined them as well.
While watching, Lin Mu broadcasted the proceedings to him. “They’re marching now. Damn, this instructor is so fierce, and his voice is so loud. Can you hear him?”
Xu Yilu laughed. “Yeah, I can.”
Sun Hai continued, “There’s a pretty junior there! She’s in the second last row; her legs are so long!”
Lin Mu had noticed her too. His eyes stayed on her for a while time, and noticed that the way she marched was a little different. A moment later, he saw the girl her leaning down and rolling her trouser legs up.
Sun Hai was astonished.
As Xu Yilu could not see, he did not understand why his friends had fallen into sudden silence. He could not help but ask, “What’s going on?”
Lin Mu’s voice was a little light and breezy. “That child is wearing a left prosthetic leg.”
Xu Yilu blinked. With a smile, he sighed as he expressed his earnest admiration, “How impressive.”
Exactly. Lin Mu said within himself. He stared at the girl for a while. Later on, turning his head, he discovered Meimei sitting in the shade of a tree.
Sun Hai was shocked by Lin Mu. He clasped his arm, warning him, “Be careful, don’t fall over.”
Lin Mu ignored his warning; almost half of his body was leaning out. After searching around, he finally saw Lu Rong walking towards Meimei with a drink bottle.
It had been a while since they last met. Lin Mu felt that Lu Rong seemed to have grown a little taller, and his skin was not as tanned as the first time they met; his hair seemed to be a bit longer too. Lu Rong opened the bottle cap with a twist, tasting it, and then only did he give it his grandmother. His grandmother took a mouthful of it, then smiled so very brightly, revealing her teeth.
Sun Hai saw them too. Curiously, he asked, “Did he bring his family to school with him?”
Lin Mu responded casually, “His granny is an Alzheimer’s patient, and she needs to be watched the whole time.”
“Oh,” Sun Hai replied. After a moment of thought, he realized something was not right, and so he asked upon realization, “How do you know that? Do you know him?”
Lin Mu answered placidly, “Lin Zhao knows him.”
Upon hearing that Lin Zhao knew Lu Rong, Sun Hai was immediately filled with a sense of crisis. He stretched his neck out, desperately searching for him to see how he looked, yet Lin Mu shoved his face away.
“Don’t block me,” Lin Mu started fussing. Just as he was pushing and rowing with Sun Hai, Lu Rong suddenly turned his head towards them. Lin Mu got a shock, and without thinking, he dragged Sun Hai down, crouching behind the balcony wall.
Xu Yilu had no idea what was going on, standing there blankly. After looking around for some time, he was dragged down by Lin Mu too.
The three of them huddled in a circle, crouching on the ground without any reason. Sun Hai looked at Xu Yilu, then glanced over to Lin Mu. Much like Xu Yilu, he did not understand what was going on. Like a thief, he lowered his voice and asked, “Why are you hiding?!”
Lin Mu imitated his volume, answering solemnly, “I can’t let him see me.”
Xu Yilu responded naively like a child, “Why not?”
Lin Mu did not know how to explain his actions, yet he had no choice but to say, “I can’t let him see me, at least not for now.”
Sun Hai gave him a suspicious stare. “Did you offend him in any way?”
Of course, Lin Mu would not admit it. “No such thing.”
He added, “It’s nothing like what you think anyway.”
Question marks could be seen all over Sun Hai’s face. I wasn’t thinking anything anyway. He thought. When he looked up, he saw that Lin Mu was again sneakily peeping at the boy.
Meimei had already finished drinking, so Lu Rong returned to his position in the marching contingent to continue his training. The girl who had previously caught the attention of Lin Mu and his friends was now taking a break and sitting next to Meimei.
Looking at the girl’s rolled-up pants, Sun Hai could not help but marvel, “This metal leg is so cool.”
Right now, Lin Mu’s attention was focused solely on Lu Rong. Therefore, he was not aware of anything else. He looked at the boy repeatedly practicing his turns under the command of the instructor. Surprisingly, he was not bored at all. Instead, he rested his chin in his hand, watching in great interest.
Xu Yilu could not see a thing; all he could do was listen to both of them chattering about their own subjects.
One spoke about Lu Rong while the other talked about the “Metal Leg Girl”. In the end, he was a little confused, and the expression on his face looked even more perplexed.
This situation continued until someone called out to Lin Mu.
Lin Mu was still in the midst of chattering away. Frowning unconsciously when he heard the voice, he clicked his tongue and lazily turned his head towards the person standing at the classroom entrance. “What do you want?” he asked in an unpleasant tone.
An Jincheng, Kunqian’s Young Master and a pretty boy. In Sun Hai’s words, Young Master An was basically overflowing with the genes of nobility — every strand of his hair was carved with the word aloof. If he had to speak with the common folk like them, he would have to wipe his mouth ten times thereafter.
Right now, the nobleman was expressionless. His gaze, when looking at them, was as though he was looking at a bunch of idiots. With a detached voice, he said, “The teacher is calling for you.”
Lin Mu pursed his lips. He clapped Sun Hai on the back, then supported Xu Yilu up, and responded to him unwillingly, “We’re coming back now.”
An Jincheng glanced over the balcony. The first-year students had to go through three days of military training, and he had no idea what was so interesting that had Lin Mu and his friends so entranced.
Lin Mu walked up to him, sounding rather impatient, “Make way.”
An Jincheng did not move. He glanced at Xu Yilu. “It’s not like there’s no space.”
They could walk past the door, but Lin Mu would not be able to support Xu Yilu with the tight fit. His brows knitted, and just as he was about to erupt, Xu Yilu let go of his hand.
“You should go first.” Xu Yilu seemed a little scared of An Jincheng; he shrank into himself like a quail. Quietly, he mumbled, “Sorry…”
Xu Yilu then leaned towards the other side of the door. As he was not aware of the distance, he accidentally bumped into the doorframe.
Lin Mu’s face turned dark. Gritting his teeth, he repeated, “I said, back off.”
An Jincheng and Lin Mu stared at each other for a few seconds. Then, An Jincheng averted from Lin Mu’s eyes first and quietly stepped out of the way.
Xu Yilu was dragged into the classroom by Lin Mu. Sun Hai seemed accustomed to the contentious attitude between them. Although he had a better friendship with Lin Mu, he did not dare provoke the Young Master of Kunqian. As such, he could only smile awkwardly at An Jincheng, and returned to his seat.
The form teacher of the elite class was an old, balding man with the surname Yang. He had been their form teacher since their first year, and despite his short stature, he was extremely ferocious when scolding them. Most teachers of Kunqian had been headhunted from Qidong, and they were truly elite teachers. Once Lin Mu entered the classroom, he was immediately called up to the front.
“Hand out the papers.” Teacher Yang adjusted his glasses; his eyes were bright and clear. “How was your summer holiday? There would be a mock test in two days; it’s up to you and An Jincheng to decide who comes first and second.”
An Jincheng was a child of a wealthy family, and he was also an extremely bright student. Of course, even if Lin Mu were to be punched to death or forced to jump off the building, he would never admit this fact.
Periodically, Lin Zhao would browse through the school forum and happen across the posts on An Jincheng and her brother battling things out. She did not really understand how her brother managed to engage in a conflict with such a personage like An Jincheng, and somehow, it had even driven him to strive for excellence in his studies just to rise a step above An Jincheng.
As a matter of course, Lin Mu would never tell Lin Zhao the right reason – his conflict with An Jincheng had arose because of her.
“He didn’t do it intentionally,” Sun Hai quietly said to Lin Mu after the papers were given out. “With your sister’s appearance and temperament, no one can tell that she has a disability. She’s just like a goddess descending from heaven. Besides, there are so many students in Kunqian High, yet your sister became the school belle upon enrolling. How is she different from others, right?”
Lin Mu pointed at him warningly. “Lin Zhao is no different from others, watch your words.”
After a pause, he continued, “She doesn’t like us talking about her like that.”
Sun Hai sighed, “Your sister is just too sensitive. No one has any ill intentions.”
“You’re not them, how would you know how they feel?” Lin Mu looked rather stern. “Exaggerated sense of pity and discussing over them are ill intentions to them. You must respect them, get it?”
Sun Hai raised his hands in surrender; his tone helpless. “Alright, alright… I’m respecting your sister from the bottom of my heart, okay?”
Lin Mu shot at him, “You even bullied her before! You were the one who ripped her books.”
Seeing that Sun Hai wanted to retort, he immediately added, “Stop telling me that you’re bullying her because of love, my sister and I are not going to fall for that. Whoever dares to express his love in this way again, I will beat the crap out of them.”
Sun Hai snapped his mouth shut obediently.
Finally feeling a little more pleased, Lin Mu took out his notebook. Looking up to see An Jincheng watching him, he glared back stubbornly.
After a moment of thought, he sent Lin Zhao a text in worry.
“An Jincheng is really ugly.” After sending that text, he hummed a song as he started on the paper.
After some time, Lin Zhao replied, “What sort of crazy are you dealing this time?”
“Nothing.” Lin Mu replied, typing with his phone with both hands, “I’m just commenting after having not seen him for the entire summer holiday.”
Lin Zhao’s reply was rather quick this time, and she even attached a link to the school forum.
Lin Mu asked, “What’s this?”
“It’s the new ranking of the best-looking boys in school.”
Lin Mu was puzzled.
Lin Zhao sent an emoji of evil laughter. “Didi, you’re now number two.”