“BANG！ BANG！ BANG!”
Fu Jia’s eyes snapped open, the darkness looming over him almost left him breathless.
It took him a while to comprehend that he was in his own room and the one banging on the door could only be Aunt Chen. “How much longer do you intend to sleep? You’re going to be late for school.”
Aunt Chen’s voice was dampened by the door to his room, causing it to be muffled. Fu Jia opened the door and was greeted by the sight of Aunt Chen pushing the cleaning cart outside his room. She couldn’t be considered pretty, her brows and eyes were drooping. Even when she smiled, her countenance was laced with a trace of distress.
Everytime Fu Jia looked at her, he was often reminded of his late mother.
He hated the fate represented behind such faces.
By the time Aunt Chen put on her rubber gloves, it signaled a new day of work had begun. “Out of bed? Go grab a sponge from the storeroom. I forgot to take it out earlier on.”
Nodding his head, Fu Jia walked toward the storeroom which was located at the far-off corner of the row of servants’ rooms. It was the smallest and was the only dark room in the entire villa without a window.
As he took the sponge, Fu Jia’s eyes swept past the knives of different sizes on the shelf, before eventually taking the sharpest and smallest one and placed it into his pocket.
When he handed the sponge to Aunt Chen, she warned him repeatedly, “Use the back door when you’re heading to school later. Don’t pass by the living room.”
Aunt Chen lowered her voice into a whisper. “Fengfeng puked earlier in the morning and both the master and madam are very anxious about him. With the doctor coming and going, don’t you go and bother them.”
She made it sound so ambiguous but Fu Jia knew what she meant. The son of this family was ill and both the masters of the house were upset so there was no need for him to add oil into fire with his irksome presence.
Fu Jia gave a nod, feeling nothing deep down.
The Fengfeng Aunt Chen mentioned was his half-brother, Lin Fengxun. Since young, Lin Fengxun was frail, constantly plagued by illness and had never left the house before. Even when he studied, they would hire a private home tutor to come over and teach him.
Apart from their facial features, the difference between the two of them were as contrasting as black and white. They’re born similar in appearance. Just one glance and anyone could tell they were brothers.
Fu Jia bought greasy steamed buns and soymilk in an alley near the school. The meat inside the bun tasted sour and salty while the tasteless soymilk was watery. Yet Fu Jia still ate them as if he was savoring every last bite.
As soon as he entered the classroom, Fu Jia felt someone was staring intently at him. The person sitting at the corner, named Liu Cheng, was the most disobedient student with the worst grade in class. Fu Jia was very positive that he wouldn’t be able to pass the college entrance exam or even finished his studies in this high school. The reason why he was still here was all for the sake of saying “I studied in high school before” in the coming future.
His hobby was to receive protection fees. And the criteria of his “to-be-protected” targets were very simple. He would always go for those who was a loner or introverted and Fu Jia basically fit every single one of his standard.
Straightening his back, Fu Jia touched the item in his pocket before turning around to look at Liu Cheng right in the eye.
Surprised by his action, the anger of being offended instantly welled up from the bottom of Liu Cheng’s heart.
He stormed towards Fu Jia and ferociously kicked the legs of his desk.
”What’re you looking at? Do you have the money?”
“Let’s meet up behind the school after the first lesson,” said Fu Jia as he stared at him.
Liu Cheng felt that there was something wrong with his expression because he wasn’t scared in the least and instead looked calm as though victory was firmly in his grasp. He didn’t think that Fu Jia was bold enough to resist him so he grinned, saying, “You seemed to know your place.”
The first class quickly came to an end with Fu Jia and Liu Cheng leaving the classroom one after another.
A small forest with lush trees could be found behind the school. However, the planning wasn’t well done so it was hidden from sight by the school building, completely shrouded in its shadow. This was a place that people like Liu Cheng liked, especially since he could beat up or swearing at people without being caught.
Liu Cheng pulled out a cigarette for a smoke, moving smoothly from lighting it up to breathing out a puff of smoke. “Give me the cash. Do you seriously think that you can grow money just by standing there without moving?”
With his back against the tree, Fu Jia reached out his hand to him.
Liu Cheng’s eyes narrowed because of the smoke, but he could still clearly see that there were no red notes in his hand except for a small cutter.
Raising his hand, he smacked Fu Jia’s head until his face twisted to the side. “Are you screwing with me?”
As though he was incapable of feeling pain, Fu Jia straightened his neck and said, “I don’t have money. Keep dreaming of getting money from me.”
Liu Cheng found the entire situation to be absurd. Was he hearing things? What gave Fu Jia the audacity to talk to him like that? Clenching his fists, he looked like he was about to hit him, “Do you have a death wish?”
Fu Jia removed the outer shell of the cutter and threw it to the ground. He pressed the cutter against his own neck, and threatened, “Since you’re not scared of the teachers, are you afraid of the police? I’m going to slit my own throat right now and call the police after. Do you want to bet if they’ll arrest you?”
Liu Cheng cursed angrily, spitting out the burning cigarette to the ground. “Do you think I’m a fucking middle schooler and can be intimidated by your empty threats?“ He took a step closer to seize the cutter in Fu Jia’s hand.
Fu Jia released his grip, allowing him to snatch the cutter away.
Liu Cheng was so pissed to the point that he was fuming with rage as though he had been greatly humiliated. He swore, raising his foot to kick Fu Jia in the stomach.
He had utilized about twelve percent of his own strength. Fu Jia supported himself against the tree but was still forced back a couple of steps before collapsing to the ground.
Liu Cheng quickly went up and gave him another kick.
Precisely at that moment, frantic footsteps could be heard from behind them as several teachers running over in a hurry. When they saw the cutter in Liu Cheng’s grip, they yelled loudly to stop him, “What are you doing?! Put down that cutter this instant!”
Fu Jia weakly inclined his body against the wall, feigning a terrified expression on his face.
The teachers rushed over to restrain Liu Cheng and detain the cutter in his hand. Liu Cheng instinctively struggled to get out of the teacher’s grip but his efforts were fruitless. When his eyes fell on Fu Jia by chance, he didn’t miss the trace of glee contained in his eyes.
There was no point in arguing. Even though Liu Cheng tried to defend himself, how could the teachers believed in his words? He was an infamous delinquent at school. Furthermore, every single one of them witnessed the moment Liu Cheng kicked Fu Jia.
The teachers brought Liu Cheng away, leaving behind a male teacher to comfort Fu Jia.
He patted Fu Jia’s back and muttered in dismay, “Fortunately a student notified us. Sharp instruments are prohibited to be brought to school. How could he be so bold to do something like this?” Although the general population of No. 16 High School was undisciplined and chaotic, they were still afraid of bloodshed.
Fu Jia nodded in response. How could it not be accurately on time? He had bought 20 RMB worth of snacks for that student, in order to persuade him to seize the opportunity at the right time, not a second less and not a second more.
“Thank you sir. I’m not scared anymore. I’ll return to class now.” replied Fu Jia.
The teacher smiled with ease, “You don’t have to worry. We’ll discipline Liu Cheng properly.”
The teacher accompanied Fu Jia into the classroom. Sitting obediently in his seat, Fu Jia flipped open his textbook, acting like a good student. But as soon as the teacher disappeared from his sight, he suddenly shut the book and ran downstairs without rest, back to the small forest behind the school.
The cigarette Liu Cheng spat out earlier was still there.
Fu Jia picked up the cigarette, pocketing it before running off to the shop inside the school complex to buy a lighter. When the bell rang, he didn’t return to the classroom and instead went to the washroom.
Taking out the cigarette, he used his sleeve to meticulously wipe the area where the mouth was and then stuffed it into his own.
He tried his best to mimic Liu Cheng’s actions but it still looked clumsy. When he finally lit it up with difficulty and took his first drag, a burning sensation corroded his lungs. He tried to hold it in without coughing.
This was his spoil.
After his private study was over, Fu Jia went back to the Lin Family’s villa, keenly aware that something was out of place.
“Madame’s nephew has arrived,” said Aunt Chen.
Fu Jia was taken by surprise, “Which nephew?”
Aunt Chen threw him a strange look, “Who else could it be?”
Fu Jia pursed his lips.
As Aunt Chen stared at him, she seemed to see right through him. Her pair of droopy eyes were clouded with an emotion resembling pity. “He’s in the garden with Fengfeng.”
Responding with a grunt, Fu Jia returned back to his room.
There were times when he would love to own a proper bedroom.
The room he lived in was a servant quarter with inadequate lighting and ventilation. Whenever the raining season arrived, his blanket would be so damp he could wring water out of it. But if he managed to find the right angle, he would be able to see the Lin Villa’s garden through the cracks on his window.
In the brightly lit garden, Lin Fengxun sat on his wheelchair with his back facing Fu Jia. A young man stood beside him. Lin Fengxun tilted his head to say something and the young man bent down to listen while adjusting the blanket covering him.
Duo Duo, the golden retriever Lin Fengxun raised, approached his owner with a ball in its mouth, running around his owner in circles incessantly.
The young man ruffled Duo Duo’s head, and following its active movements, he turned towards Fu Jia’s direction.
His handsome face was tilted down.
Fu Jia stared at him with insatiable hunger, his scorching gaze burned brightly, as though should it reach a certain degree, he would be able to own that person for real.
Lin Feng turned around, his lips parting to say something.
Having seen those lip movements for almost ten years, Fu Jia could easily read it without fail—
Fu Jia mimicked his action, making the same motions.
There was a hole in his heart, a hole so vast and dark that was dragging him in, tempting him to fall into its depth. He was that close.