After school was over, Lu Qi’an returned to his apartment where he lived alone.
The rooms were well-kept since the cleaner would come every afternoon to clean up as well as prepare dinner for the day in the kitchen.
This maid had always been responsible for the job ever since Lu Qi’an started to live alone. Apt in managing her time, she always left before Lu Qi’an returned so the chances of them meeting were nil.
Neither his father nor Lu Wanqing knew about this. They always thought the maid stayed at Lu Qi’an’s apartment and looked after him most of her time, even accompanying him when eating.
But should the two of them ponder more about it, they would soon realise that Lu Qi’an had not been staying with anyone else for years.
It began ever since he understood that his aunt’s words of “I’ll look after you in place of your mother” which could never genuinely replace anything.
Once he was done with his meal, he sat in the study to read until the doorbell rang.
He opened the door, and there stood Fu Jia on the other side, carrying an old black school bag and wearing a uniform that was washed until it lost all color.
Lu Qi’an was not blind. He could tell Fu Jia always tried to make himself appear more calm and at ease, often doing things such as straightening his back or looking at him straight in the eyes. But the fingers on both of his hands that lay by his side would always curl up unnaturally.
He was nervous.
Lu Qi’an said, “Change your shoes before coming in.”
Fu Jia let out a sigh of relief. His palms were sweaty. He wiped them on his shirt before he crouched down to untie his shoelaces.
“Why do you keep reminding me to change shoes? Do you think I’m the type of person to stroll into someone’s house with their shoes on?” asked Fu Jia.
“I never said that,” answered Lu Qi’an.
Fu Jia shrugged his shoulders in response. “Didn’t you?”
“You keep twisting my words,” Lu Qi’an continued. “Changing shoes is my only request to you for coming here. I don’t find my action in reiterating it again excessive.”
Fu Jia, currently in the middle of slotting his feet into the slippers, almost wore them on the wrong side again upon hearing that.
He struggled for a while before asking, “What do you mean by the only condition?”
“I don’t need you to change your background or parents.” Seeing that Fu Jia changed into the correct shoes, Lu Qi’an went ahead into the study.
Caught by surprise, Fu Jia hurriedly followed suit.
Lu Qi’an already prepared the questions needed for today. After the two of them settled down in the study, he handed the book to Fu Jia. “Try working on these twenty questions first.”
Fu Jia’s head began to throb in pain after he took a look. “Why are there so many?”
“Different difficulty levels,” Lu Qi’an explained. “The first ten questions are slightly easier to solve. Refer back to the textbook. It’s not that hard.”
Fu Jia nodded with difficulty before he replied, “Okay…”
He buried his head to read the questions, but Lu Qi’an noticed the white gauze still on his face and asked, “Did you stop by the hospital?”
Fu Jia instantly replied without thinking, “Yeah, I went.”
“Shiyi Hospital,” Fu Jia bullshitted without thinking things through.
Lu Qi’an went on to probe even more. “When are you going to get that changed again?”
“This is just a light injury. I don’t need to get it change all the time.”
“If it’s a light injury, there’s no need for you to always keep that on.”
Fu Jia fell silent.
He could not believe he forgot about the fact that Lu Qi’an was the most difficult person to fool he had ever met in this lifetime.
He flipped a page of the textbook, feigning ignorance.
It was fortunate that Lu Qi’an did not attempt to interrogate him any further.
Lu Qi’an took out a book from the shelf and flipped it open in his hand. He took great care of the books he held when reading; he would always use both hands to hold them and flip the pages very gently and lightly.
By the time he recovered his senses, Fu Jia already watched Lu Qi’an flip two pages.
As though he were awoken from a dream, Fu Jia quickly lowered his head to read the question word by word. It took him several attempts before he finally managed to immerse himself in it.
One was busy solving problems while the other was reading. Time passed at a regular pace, neither too fast nor too slow. The rays of nightfall gradually darkened as time passed. The room was lit up with warm colors, and everything was at peace.
All it took to break this peace was a sharp sound of a phone ringing from outside. It was the landline telephone in the living room.
With a frown, Lu Qi’an placed the book down before leaving the study in a hurry.
He seemed anxious. What happened?
Fu Jia stopped writing, and soon, his mind drifted elsewhere. The pen nib was standstill on the paper, leaving behind a blotch of ink.
One minute later, Lu Qi’an returned. The moment he entered he said, “That’ll be all for today.”
Fu Jia guessed what happened, but he still asked, “Meaning?”
“Something happened at the villa so I need to head back now.” Lu Qi’an returned the book he placed on the table to the bookshelf. “The driver will be here any minute. You can continue to stay here if you want, but I won’t be back soon.”
Fu Jia was itching to say something, but his throat felt exceptionally dry. All he managed to do was form an o-shape with his lips. He stared absentmindedly as the ink stain on the paper grew in size.
“I’m going now,” he replied eventually. “How about tomorrow? It’s a Sunday so you won’t have classes right?”
But Lu Qi’an said, “I’ll be staying at the villa tomorrow too.”
Fu Jia felt his stomach fall.
Very quickly, he nodded in understanding. “I got it. Let me know when you’re available, since it’s impossible for my results to improve overnight anyway.”
Lu Qi’an remained silent.
Picking up his bag, Fu Jia directly walked out of the study room and crouched down by the door to change his shoes.
The phone rang again, and Lu Qi’an answered it. Fu Jia was not sure what the other person on the line said to have Lu Qi’an reply in a low voice, “I’ll be there soon, Fengfeng.”
It was then followed by another reply. “Endure it for a while longer. The pain will subside soon.”
The tenderness in his voice then made Fu Jia calmed down. Fu Jia walked out of the apartment. The moment the door slam shut, the voice Lu Qi’an used to soothe Lin Fengxun over the phone was also barred away from the outside world.
He patiently waited for the elevator to arrive.
He patiently walked out of the neighborhood.
But he was incapable of bringing himself to patiently continue walking.
It hurt. It hurt so much that his vision blurred.
He reached out to touch his face, and discovered that the gauze well-stuck to his face had somehow came loose during god knows when. The moment he touched it, he came into contact with the wound. It was wet, the same condition it was in on the first day.
He was terribly mad at and disappointed in himself.
No matter how severe and painful his injury was—even to the extent that he fainted—Lu Qi’an would not suddenly appear to cheer him up.
What was he doing, fighting with Lin Fengxun for what reason? Why was he so jealous of Lin Fengxun? All that brat could ever be was a chronically-ill patient! The sort that needed people to look after for a lifetime!
Fu Jia was healthier and more free. He had so much more. He could earn money, could buy houses, and could even have the chance to own his own villa one day!
He had everything.
Everything except for Lu Qi’an.
He pulled the gauze from his face before tossing it to the floor and viciously trampling all over it. Once he was done venting his frustrations, he continued to walk ahead. Yet, after he took a few steps, he doubled back to pick up the dirty gauze from the ground before tossing it into a trash bin by the road.
It’s gonna be okay, Fu Jia.
He thought to himself.
Might as well go to the hospital to have it check out.
He came to Shiyi Hospital and got blasted in the face by the doctor.
“Do you want to disfigure your face that badly?!”
Ashamed, Fu Jia shook his head.
The wound was originally unlikely to be infected, but Fu Jia had been concealing it beneath a gauze and did not change it which caused his wound to quickly worsen in this weather.
“Where are your parents?” The doctor wrote down his record in a flurry, before typing away on the computer. “Go, borrow a phone from the nurse outside. Get your parents to come here.”
“I don’t think there’s a need for that.” Fu Jia feigned a pleasing smile to curry favor from the doctor. “My parents are busy so they won’t have the time to come here. I can pay myself since I have some cash on me.”
“This is a blade wound!” the doctor exclaimed. “You got into a fight didn’t you? I have to tell your parents about this. It’s fine if you kids are just pulling punches but using real knives and guns is a big no-no!”
“I’m not a kid. I’m already of age…” Fu Jia continued, “Please hurry. I still need to head home to finish my homework.”
The ER doctor on the night shift did not have all the time in the world to keep arguing with Fu Jia. Since Fu Jia insisted to not bring his parents into this mess, the doctor had no choice but to let him go.
Trying to hold back the pain, Fu Jia went to pay. The doctor told him to come back for a check up in two days, but Fu Jia absolutely did not dare to step foot in there anymore.
Upon returning to his dorm with both medical card and medicine in hand, Fu Jia pushed open the door and noticed that there was a stranger inside. The stranger sat beside his desk with one leg crossed over the other and lips smacking as if eating something.
Fu Jia stopped right outside the room, afraid to head in.
It was a girl wearing a miniskirt instead of pants for a school uniform, which violated the regulations.
Confused as to whether or not he went to the wrong dorm room, he took two steps back.
The stranger then instigated conversation. “Fu Jia, aren’t you gonna say hi to your own classmate?”
Fu Jia was surprised to find that the smile she had on her face was…incredibly friendly.
“Classmate?” asked Fu Jia dubiously. “I don’t think I know you.”
Feeling awkward, the stranger rubbed her own nose for a while. “I just got transferred to your class today. You’ll know when Monday comes around. My name is Cen Mengke.”
Fu Jia pointed at the floor. “I don’t care who you are, but this is the boy’s dorm. How did you even get in here?”
“My, my.” Cen Mengke fished out a tissue paper before spitting out the stuff she was chewing in her mouth. Looking at the color of that thing alone, it should be a betel nut. “Boys can’t enter the girl’s dorm, but it doesn’t matter if a girl comes here.”
Fu Jia was suddenly struck by a possibility. With a voice as cold as ice, he asked, “Did Liu De send you?”
Bringing a girl to the boy’s dorm…Fu Jia could not even imagine the horrifying troubles it would bring! If the girl before him were to start randomly spouting something bad against him, there would be no need for him to come back to school anymore.
Cen Mengke appeared stunned by the name for a brief moment. “Sorry, who?”
Ignoring her completely, Fu Jia turned to walk away. “I’m gonna get the supervisor. I never stepped foot inside the room. The surveillance camera in the hallway can justify that.”
“W-wait up…!” Cen Mengke stopped him. Clasping her hands together, she widened her eyes to look more adorable. “If the supervisor finds out about this, we’re done for…”
Her facade did not fool Fu Jia. Instead, he felt his skin was crawling all over. “Classmate, out with it! Tell me what you want with me.”
Startled, Cen Mengke unfolded her hands and said, “I…I’m not planning anything.”
At the exact same moment, footsteps sounded behind Fu Jia, signalling the return of Liu De and his two lackeys.
Liu De arrogantly walked in. The moment his eyes landed on Cen Mengke, he was caught by surprise and forcefully stopped in his tracks.
His two lackeys were also puzzled and asked, “Who are you?”
By the time they were done, Liu De slapped their backs until they both yelped out in pain.
The expression on Cen Mengke’s face was as innocent as ever.
“Why are you here?” asked Liu De. He lowered his voice into a whisper, looking as though he were scared to talk loudly in front of Cen Mengke.
Cen Mengke grinned. “Why don’t you three sleep elsewhere today? I want to talk to Fu Jia alone.”
Liu De’s expression went sour, but he nodded obediently before hauling his two lackeys away.
Although Fu Jia was considered a fool, even he was able to tell that something was not right. Fu Jia confronted Cen Mengke. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing.” Cen Mengke childishly made a firing pistol gesture with his hand by her lips. “It’s just that the boss of those three turns out to be my boss too.”
Spreading her arms apart and looking enchanted as she drowned herself in the feeling, she said, “All the delinquents in No. 16 High answers to me. I’m the biggest bad around here.”
Arms still wide apart, Cen Mengke waited for Fu Jia to flatter her.
But Fu Jia was very dismissive about it. “Ah, I see… I’m Fu Jia, but you already knew that.” He was still standing outside the room with no intention of heading in. He asked her, “What are you trying to say?”
Cen Mengke was stunned. “That’s it? That’s all you have for me now that you know my true identity?”
Annoyed, Fu Jia asked again. “What the hell are you doing here for?”
Cen Mengke hugged her arms and gave a snort, deciding not to bicker with Fu Jia. Looking at him out of the corner of her eyes, she asked, “What’s your deal with Lin Qinhe?”
What on earth? It did not occur to Fu Jia immediately as to which Li Qinhe she was talking about, so he said, “I have no idea who he is.”
“You have no idea?” Cen Mengke’s eyes instantly widened in surprise. “Then why did he ask me to get transferred to your class to protect you? You’re Fu Jia, aren’t you? Fu, with the radical ‘Ren’. Jia, meaning commendation?”
Frowning, Fu Jia seemed to have thought of something and asked once more, “Li Qinhe?”
“Yeah, he’s the boss of my big bro. You do know No. 6 High right? He’s the biggest baddie in that school!” When Cen Mengke spoke of him, she was so proud that her eyebrows were about to shoot into the air.
Fu Jia’s expression quickly turned for the worse. “I know of him.”
Instead of saying he knew him, he said he knew of him.
He was positive that young master Li thought the same as well, and did not want to associate with someone like him.
A beaming smile blossomed on his face. “I have nothing to do with him, but, if you really want to know that badly, our relationship is the kind where I’ll pummel him the moment I see him.”
“Ah?” Cen Mengke’s mind sank into chaos.
Gripping onto the door handle, Fu Jia explained, “I already had a taste of his pranks, and I don’t really want to be on the receiving end of it anymore. Stay put while I go and get the supervisor.” With that said, he slam the door shut with a loud bang.
Cen Mengke’s mind instantly blanked out.
Outside, Fu Jia could her banging the door while she cried out in disarray. “What’s going on?! I’m seriously here to protect you! I even transferred classes for it!”
Her cries fell on deaf ears.
Fu Jia found the supervisor on the first floor. After the supervisor heard his story, he slammed the table in shock and got up and hurriedly made his way to Fu Jia’s dorm. But when the door was flung open by the two, not a single soul was found except the wide-open window.
The supervisor checked the surveillance footage. He instantly had a migraine when he saw the female student sneaking her way into the boy’s dorms.
“She’s a repeat offender,” The supervisor said in exasperation. “It’s…not easy to discipline her. Why don’t you all change the lock?”
Fu Jia expressed his understanding and thanked the supervisor before going back to his dorm.
Naturally, he would not go and change the locks as it required him to fork out the money to do so.
That night, Liu De and the other duo did not come home so Fu Jia spent a peaceful night studying in his dorm until the lights went out. He then went to bed.
After turning around in bed for a while, he had the soundest sleep since he moved out of the Lin’s Villa.
However, although he fell into a deep sleep, he did not have a good rest at all.
If he knew what he would dream of, he would have rather chose to stay up all night.
Never did he want to dream of a person whom he could never have in reality. Ever.