Chapter 6: A New Year (2)
Lin Mu had always known about the school forum. He had gone online and browsed through it a few times, but was not intrigued by it. It mostly consisted of An Jincheng’s fans and he was always scornful how they paid obeisance to the rich.
Unlike the school belle, the decision of who was the most handsome boy in school was not so decisive. Lin Zhao dominated the position of Kunqian’s school belle, and students had even formed a group to share her photos. After Lin Mu taught them a lesson a few times, they no longer dared to do it so brazenly. Therefore, it caught Lin Mu by surprise that his elder sister would actually pay such attention to the boys’ ranking.
This time, Lin Mu was number two, yet neither did An Jincheng get the first spot. Looking at the photo for some time, he realized that it was actually Lu Rong – the boy was captured sitting down in the shade of the tree with Meimei.
He probably did not realize he was secretly photographed – a shadow of a tree was cast upon his face, like a cloud concealing a glare, or a wind rustling through the leaves, the atmosphere around him warm and cozy.
Lu Rong was extremely tall – his towering physique gave him a steady, mature looking that did not match his age. Even when bending down to speak to Meimei, his back was always straight; it seemed as if he were under some pressure, and there was a strength in him accumulating slowly.
Lin Mu repeatedly opened and closed the forum link, looking at the photo many times over, and then sent another text to his sister.
“There’s something I want to tell you.” Lin Mu initiated a topic with amusement.
Lin Mu replied a “?” in response. After all, as twins, they could read each other quite well. “Did you stir up trouble for me again?”
“I’ll tell you after school.” He thought for a moment, and with a desire to survive, he added, “I promise I didn’t stir up any trouble for you.”
Lin Zhao was in Class Three. There were five classes in each grade; Class One was the elite class, whereas the rest were regular classes, of course including the special education class as well.
Special needs students who excelled in academics like Xu Yilu would attend compulsory subjects’ lessons with Class One students, and joined the special education class for the last two periods before the school was over, along with the evening self-study sessions. There would be a specially trained teacher there to take care of them and guide them along.
The special education class was not divided by grade. All special needs students from the first year to the third year would gather in special education class before school was over. It could be seen that the school had put great effort into this aspect as they were afraid that new students would feel isolated, helpless, and with no companions.
Lin Zhao, on the other hand, was a little more special from other special needs students. After lunch, she would head to the Go Institute and only returned to school to pick up her brother after his evening self-study sessions.
In Kunqian, with such an intense studying environment, the evening self-study sessions were the rare moments of freedom that students could ease up a little. To bridge the gap and promote positive social interactions between ordinary and special needs students, each class would arrange a few ordinary students to join the special education class so they could have the self-study sessions together.
Because of Lin Zhao, Lin Mu would often run over to the special education class in the evening; he was familiar with everyone who was friends with Lin Zhao. On the first day of school, when Lin Zhao returned from the Go institute, she saw Lin Mu sitting in front of Xu Yilu, spinning his pen as he chatted with Cao Zhan.
On the IQ test, a score of 100 was considered average, whereas scores below 70 would be classified as intellectual deficiency. Cao Zhan was the unlucky one – his IQ score was 69.
Such a slight intellectual disability would not affect his life too much, and Cao Zhan only seemed a little slower than others of his age. In psychological terms, he was classified as mildly impaired.
Lin Mu enjoyed teasing him. “Have you done your homework properly?”
Cao Zhan widen his eyes. He rarely spoke to people with whom he was unfamiliar since he could only respond with just one sentence if the other party said twenty. However, this was not the case for Lin Mu. They were familiar with each other and often talked a lot.
“What did you learn in Math today?” Lin Mu did not mind his slowness, and continued asking, “Let me take a look.”
Naturally, Cao Zhan would not refuse him.
Perhaps due to his intellectual disability, Cao Zhan looked a lot younger than he was. The baby fat on his face had yet to recede, but he was very tall. Slowly taking his workbook out, he was muttering indistinguishably while flipping through his book vigorously.
“I’ve done a few questions,” Cao Zhan said. he did not control his volume, and thus his voice was a little loud, but soon he realized it. He tried to lower his voice as much as he could, speaking earnestly, “All these… I don’t know how to do them at all. What should I do?”
Lin Mu looked on his workbook. “I’ll teach you.”
He sounded natural, as if nothing could be any more ordinary than this, listing those questions out on some scratch paper. Writing out the steps one by one, he explained them to Cao Zhan.
Cao Zhan’s expression of studying the paper was serious, but it seemed likely that he did not understand.
Lin Mu called out to him, “Dopey.”
Cao Zhan raised his head blankly.
Lin Mu asked him gently, “Do you understand?”
He shook his head. “No.”
Lin Mu could not suppress his smile. “I’ll explain it to you again.”
And so, Cao Zhan continued to listen attentively.
Lin Mu repeated three or four times, but Cao Zhan was still lost. He felt that he could not let Lin Mu go on like this, so he took the workbook back. “I’ll just copy it over and over again.”
Lin Mu rested his chin in his hand. “Are you going to memorize it?”
Cao Zhan thought for a moment before he responded, “It’s better for me to memorize it.”
Lin Mu did not stop him and handed over the scratch paper to him so he could copy from it. Sitting next to them, Xu Yilu was reading his braille book, not finding them noisy. A moment later, he looked up from the book as if he had sensed something. Groping about and nudging at Lin Mu’s arm, he asked, “Is that Lin Zhao?”
Lin Mu turned his head without thinking. With no surprise, Lin Zhao was standing behind him.
“You’re back?” Lin Mu signed and said it aloud simultaneously.
Lin Zhao acknowledged him. Her eyes fell onto Cao Zhan, and she signed, “Dopey.”
Cao Zhan knew she was calling him. Half a beat later, he nodded.
Logically, a deaf-mute person and a blind person had no way to communicate, but Lin Zhao was obviously not bound by such logic. With no hesitation, she reached out to Xu Yilu, her palm running through his natural curls as though she was tugging at wool.
Xu Yilu could not help but laugh. “Did you win your game today?”
He slowed down his speaking speed so Lin Zhao could read his lips; Lin Zhao was able to do so as long as the speaker did not speak too quickly or complicatedly. She pressed on his curls lightly.
It meant that she won.
Wordless, Lin Mu felt that the tacit understanding in this friendship of rebels was a little too much.
After making a round of greetings, Lin Zhao sat down next to Lin Mu.
“Tell me now.” Lin Zhao’s slender finger tapped at her lip. She spread her palm out, her fingers moving, “Is there anything you want to tell me?”
Lin Mu’s signing speed had obviously slowed down, and his expression became a little ingratiating. “Remember when I attended the community sessions on your behalf?”
Lin Zhao raised her chin slightly. “Then?”
Lin Mu studied her expression. “I made a friend.”
Lin Zhao narrowed her eyes, frowning slightly. A vague sense of doom welled up within her. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything, I just simply made a new friend,” Lin Mu raised his hand and vowed. Again, he peeked at his sister’s expression, then pointed at her phone, speaking cautiously, “He’s the most handsome boy in the school.”
Lin Zhao was at a loss for words.
Lin Mu smiled sheepishly. He coughed and tried his best to hide any tell-tale signs of wrongdoing. “I have a pretty good eye, don’t I? Isn’t he handsome?”
Lin Zhao was on the verge of vomiting blood, and her gestures became vehement. “You actually dare seduce someone when you were pretending to be me?!”
Lin Mu shook his head firmly. “I didn’t seduce anyone! We’re just friends! It’s a pure friendship!”
Lin Zhao stuck out her thumb, drawing it across her throat savagely. Expressionless, her fingers danced deftly, “There is no such thing as pure friendship between males and females!”
Lin Mu rebutted unhappily, “I’m a male, what can happen between the two of us?”
“But you were ‘me’ on those days!” Lin Zhao jabbed his chest fiercely. Her mouth opened in agitation, but she could not make a sound. “I even pushed up your breasts for you! I dare you to swear that he didn’t mistake you as a female!”
Lin Mu was speechless.
Paying no mind to Lin Zhao’s worry, he said, “He might not even like you in that way…”
Lin Zhao made a gesture to hit him, but Lin Mu dodged it. Catching hold of his sister’s hand, he swung her arm like a spoiled young child. “Don’t be angry with me anymore… I swear there’s really nothing between us. Just act normal, don’t let the cat out of the bag when you see him next time, and stay friends with him, okay?”
Lin Zhao’s face was grim. She tried to pull her hand back a few times as hard as she could, but Lin Mu’s grip was too strong, as he grasped at her arm with an expression saying that he would never let go unless she agreed so.
Lin Zhao sighed. Feeling a headache coming, she rubbed her forehead, signing with one hand, “You’re lying to him. What are you going to do if he finds out the truth in the future?”
“He’s not going to find out so easily.” Lin Mu noticed that she was giving in and immediately gave a crafty smile. With great confidence, he said, “We’re almost identical, he’s not going to find out.”