Fu Jia instantly saw Cen Mengke in class on Monday.
The girl also saw him and immediately yelled loudly across the room. “Fu Jia!”
Frowning, Fu Jia ignored her and made a beeline towards his seat.
As Cen Mengke approached him, she complained loudly, “You almost got me into serious trouble yesterday.”
“I don’t think I have the capability to do so,” said Fu Jia. “You’re blocking the light. I want to study.”
Cen Mengke cluck her tongue as she sneered. “Stop it with that good student facade. I already took a look at your grades. It’s hilarious that you’re able to rank that low in No. 16 High alone.”
She could have talked about anything else, but the moment she dragged his grades in, Fu Jia instantly boiled with anger. He threw his school bag onto the table and seethed in anger. “That’s none of your business.”
However, Cen Mengke was not intimidated by his outburst. She glared. “I don’t care what sort of problems you have with Li Qinhe. He asked me to protect you, so now you’re my lackey. How can a lackey be this mad at his boss? Apologize to me now!”
His lips pursed tight. Fu Jia did not utter a single word.
Cen Mengke was hard to deal with. If she were someone like Liu Cheng or Liu De, he could easily punch or curse them without feeling any guilt at all. Just bring it on, and he would fight back the same. Cen Mengke, on the other hand, was a girl. Not only that, she kept raving on and on about how she was here to protect him. What should he do in this situation? It was outrageous to hit her or curse at her.
Despite that, making him apologize was out of the question. There was no way he would apologize to one of Li Qinhe’s subordinates.
The more he thought about it, the only solution was to ignore her.
Thus, Cen Mengke watched on as Fu Jia took out a literature and language book out of his bag with his eyes closed and flipped to a page with classical chinese literature on it.
“Are you seriously going to study?”
Fu Jia ignored her.
“Fu Jia. Fu Jia!”
Still, Fu Jia ignored her.
At a loss, Cen Mengke changed her target to the student sitting in front of Fu Jia. “Hey, you! Change seats with me!”
The student in front was scared out of his wits. Shrinking back in fear, he reflexively stood up before sitting back down again. In order to look after the newly transferred Cen Mengke, the tutor had her assigned to sit in the first row. Who on Earth in this class was willing enough to sit in the first row?
“Hurry up!” Cen Mengke urged him again.
The student could only stand up in grief.
Cen Mengke sat back down and slapped the surface of Fu Jia’s table, but Fu Jia was still motionless as though there were a protective barrier separating them.
Bored out of her mind, she rested her upper body on the table as she surveyed the entire class. Her attention quickly shifted. “Fu Jia, why are you the only person in class without a desk-mate?”
Ever since she transferred here, the total number of students in the class became odd, so it was natural that a student would have to sit on their own. However, Fu Jia was not sitting in the last row, nor was he sitting at the corner. So why was he the one without a desk-mate?
“Did your desk-mate move after I transferred here? Or has it always been like this where no one wants to sit with you?” exclaimed Cen Mengke in realization. She finally found the problem where she could showcase her prowess as a boss.
Yet, Fu Jia still ignored her.
Not minding it in the least, Cen Mengke continued to sweep her gaze around and casually picked out a female student who looked weak and easy to bully. She then commanded, “Come out with me.”
The female student was so scared that she trembled in fear.
Cen Mengke dragged her out into the hallway by her wrist and blocked her off in a corner to get to the bottom of this.
Fu Jia seriously did not have any desk-mate since the beginning.
Prior to this, the total number of students in the class was an even number, but not a single soul was willing to sit next to Fu Jia. Everyone took turns to sit in the lonely remaining seat as if the class collectively gathered all their power to cut Fu Jia off.
“The hell is wrong with your class?” asked Cen Mengke.
Scared out of her wits, the female student lost the ability to form full sentences. “He…He likes stealing…”
“He…he.” She mustered her courage. “Someone in our class was his junior high school friend. When school started, he told us that Fu Jia likes stealing things from other people. He was even caught, but he refused to repent…”
Cen Mengke was shocked.
“Who accused him? Where’s the proof in that?!”
Shaking her head, the female student refused to expose the person.
Once Cen Mengke let her go, she leaned against the wall and was lost in her own train of thought.
After, she walked a little further and gave her own lackey a call to ask about what happened before.
“Framing someone for stealing” was a common tactic used by delinquents like them. They would shove an item not belonging to the person into their drawers and find a suitable time to ask someone to publicly accuse the person for stealing. Then, they would arrange a so-called “witness” as well as a few other people to cause a ruckus, resulting in the wrongly accused to lose their chance to clear their name.
What happens later would not concern them anymore. The wrongly accused would naturally be isolated and pushed aside, and they would even get punished or bullied by the students in the name of justice. The others would not give a damn as to how long the person would have to bear this foul name.
But now it was different. Now, Fu Jia was her subordinate.
She was responsible for him until the end.
Walking back into the classroom in large strides, she stood before her desk with no intention of sitting down. Instead, she sucked in a lungful of air and moved the table.
Her large movements instantly attracted the attention of everyone in the classroom.
Under their heated gaze, Cen Mengke moved the table one step at a time towards Fu Jia’s side. With a loud bang, she pushed the two tables together.
She then ran off to drag the chair over before loudly declaring to every other students in the room, “I’m Fu Jia’s desk-mate now. I’m also his boss, so refrain yourselves from spreading rumours about him behind my back.”
With her words, the entire classroom sank into silence.
Having covered her new lackey in an extravagant manner brightened up Cen Mengke’s mood immensely. She then sat down with a smile on her face.
Anxiously anticipating something, Fu Jia looked towards her. “Why did you do that?”
“I’m here to protect you.” Cen Mengke looked like there was nothing wrong with her actions.
Lowering his head, Fu Jia wrinkled the page in his hand.
Although Cen Mengke had said Li Qinhe was the one who sent her, there was no way Li Qinhe would pull something like this without reason. So it could only be…
He shut his textbook and said, “Thank you.”
Cen Mengke felt so smug that she lifted her nose up high into the air. “It was nothing! As your boss, it’s expected of me to do something like this for you!”
Fu Jia did not pay attention to her words.
He did not understand what Lu Qi’an was trying to pull here.
Was it out of kindness? Or out of concern? He could not get it.
He suddenly recalled the dream he had that night, the dream where Lu Qi’an did not leave because of one measly phone call and instead, accompanied him to the hospital.
When the doctor tended to his wound, the pain he felt was so agonizing that his face scrunched up completely. Lu Qi’an was there, sitting by his side, and comforted him saying, “Endure it a while longer.”
Lu Qi’an’s countenance in the dream was a blur, but his voice was as clear as day itself.
This has been the case for the past ten years. When Fu Jia tried to sneak glances from the servant’s room, he could only hear Lu Qi’an’s voice. He could never see his face.
This was the reality he had to face——even his dreams were stolen from Lin Fengxun.
The morning class passed in a blur, but Fu Jia did not make a move to have lunch. He stayed in the classroom to study.
Cen Mengke was caught between dozing off, stuffing herself with snacks, and reading novels. Her morning went by delightfully well. Seeing that Fu Jia intended to study, she said, “Don’t. It’s important not to starve yourself! Since this is my first day as your boss, lunch is on me!”
Without even raising his head to look at her, Fu Jia answered, “I’m not going.”
Cen Mengke clicked her tongue and snatched his textbook from his grip. “Let go!”
Caught unaware, Fu Jia’s book was snatched away by her. This frustrated Fu Jia greatly. He coldly said, “Give it back.”
Cen Mengke shoved the book into her drawer. “No.”
“Give it back.”
“No!” Using her gender as an advantage, Cen Mengke raised the pitch of her voice.
Taking in a deep breath, Fu Jia tried to control himself from losing his cool so he would not beat Cen Mengke up.
Giving Cen Mengke the cold shoulder, he took out another textbook. Cen Mengke tried to grab that, too, but was stopped by a series of knocks on the door.
The classroom door was wide open, so why would someone knock on the door?
Both Fu Jia and Cen Mengke shifted their gaze towards the door at the same instant and were shocked to see the person standing there.
The tall person at the door donned a school uniform from No. 6 High.
Lu Qi’an lowered his hand, and his eyes landed on Fu Jia. “Excuse me.”
Eyes widening in shock, Cen Mengke appeared to have lost her voice for a moment. “Lu…Lu…”
Stammering for a long while, she could not even manage to say his full name.
The inexplicable astonishment that exploded in Fu Jia’s heart caused him to stand up at once. His waist bumped against the table and knocked the book off the table.
When Lu Qu’an approached them, he bent over to pick up the book. “Did you have lunch yet?” He handed the book back to Fu Jia.
Fu Jia took the book and shook his head. “Not yet…”
Lu Qi’an said, “We can go together.”
Fu Jia lowered his head. “Okay…”
One after another, the two strolled out of the classroom and left a shocked Cen Mengke behind who appeared as though she were hit by a bolt from the blue.
The moment they were out of the door, Fu Jia was covered in sweat under the rays of the noon sunshine.
Although the distance between them was half a person apart, as they walked together, Fu Jia seemed to be able to feel the warmth radiating off Lu Qi’an’s body.
“Why did you come here to find me?” Up until now, he still had not recovered from his shock.
Lu Qi’an glanced at Fu Jia’s face, discovering that the gauze was still there. He answered evasively, “You didn’t go to the hospital.”
Subconsciously, Fu Jia touched his wound. Despite being told not to use the gauze earlier, he still stubbornly went and did it anyway. Now that the wound was worse, he had no say on this matter anymore.
“I went,” Fu Jia explained. “I admit I lied to you that day, but I did go after.”
Lu Qi’an slowed down his pace as he walked ahead. “Which hospital did you go to?”
“You said the same thing last time.”
This time, Fu Jia panicked. “I really did go! Am I that dumb to use the same lie two times? You can go take a look at my medical booklet and the prescribed medicine in my dorm if you don’t trust me.”
Lu Qi’an came to a stop and nodded. “Sure.”
“We can go take a look at your medical booklet.”
Fu Jia was absolutely shocked. That meant Lu Qi’an wanted to visit his dorm.
Was that even possible?
In order to save money, he stayed in the block with the worse facilities. It was extremely old and the orientation was not that good either. The paint on the inner walls of the building were already coming off, the railings were rusty, and every time he used the stairs he had to be cautious of how he moved to avoid getting dirty.
Sighing, he said, “It’s fine. How about you wait for me here? I’ll run back to my room and get you the medical booklet.”
But Lu Qi’an asked back, “Am I not allowed to visit your dorm?”
Fu Jia hesitated for a moment. “Not really…”
His shyness came out of the blue, but it was probably due to the fact that he felt nervous, or it was more likely because of Lu Qi’an’s sudden appearance. He had been so surprised that he was still trapped in a state of confusion.
Go then. Nothing wrong with it. He thought.
“Then please don’t complain about it.” Changing directions, he led Lu Qi’an to his dorm.
Ever since Cen Mengke came here, Liu De and his lackeys never came back. Fu Jia was not sure where they were staying. He opened the door. Inside was still as empty and deserted as before.
He looked around and could not find a suitable place for Lu Qi’an to sit down. It was impossible for him to go buy a wooden chair now, either, so he could only brazenly point to the plastic chair placed in front of the table. “Sit there.”
Fortunately, Lu Qi’an did not mind and sat down without a moment of hesitation.
This made Fu Jia felt more at ease. He crouched down in front of the locked cabinet and unlocked it with the keys he always kept with him and then rummaged around for a bag with the hospital’s logo on it. He hastily picked it up for Lu Qi’an to see. “See. I really did go to the hospital.”
Reaching out to receive the bag, Lu Qi’an flipped through the medical booklet found inside. Just when he flipped to a certain page, he read aloud, “Blade wound.”
Fu Jia felt a little awkward. “Yeah…”
Lu Qi’an flipped another page. “Excessive coverage of the wound with gauze induced an infection.”
Fu Jia felt even more awkward. “I thought it would’ve been better if I covered it…”
Lu Qi’an continued to read the record. “Recommended to return for a check up the next day—did you go?”
Fu Jia made a grab at his hair. “Actually, all I need to do is just apply the medicine on time. I don’t have to go if it didn’t worsen.”
“Apply the medicine on time?” Lu Qi’an took out the medicine bottle. It had a sticker that says to apply it three times a day. “Now should be the time you apply it the second time. How many times have you done it?”
“I forgot. But I did…” Ridden with guilt, Fu Jia avoided the question. He did not have enough time this morning so he did not apply it at all. Not even once.
Standing up, Lu Qi’an gave up his chair. “You sit here.”
Fu Jia thought he found the chair uncomfortable. “Why? Do you need me to add a cushion?”
“No.” Lowering his gaze, Lu Qi’an scrutinized the instructions on the medicine bottle. “You sit here. I’ll help you apply the medicine.”
Fu Jia was stunned.
“You’re unwilling?” asked Lu Qi’an.
“Of course not!” Fu Jia denied it without hesitation. He sat down on the plastic chair. For the first time, the chair did not feel as uncomfortable as it looked.
Lu Qi’an leaned over close to Fu Jia. Afraid to look up, Fu Jia desperately glued his eyes to the ground.
Lu Qi’an gently touched the gauze on Fu Jia’s face. “I’m going to remove this now.”
“Okay.” Sweat broke out on Fu Jia’s palms as he warned himself to not feel too nervous.
Once the gauze was peeled off, a reddish cut that was neither deep nor long was revealed. It did not reach the point where they would need to sew the wound close, but since it was already infected, it was a rather gruesome sight to look at.
Lu Qi’an used a pair of tweezers to pick up a cotton ball and swab it with the medicine. After warning Fu Jia once, he touched the wound with the cotton ball.
Judging from Fu Jia’s reaction, it did not seem painful in the least as Lu Qi’an’s actions were incredibly gentle.
But how could it not hurt at all?
It was just that the man was so close that Fu Jia could clearly count how many eyelashes he had. He did not have any attention left to care about whether or not the wound hurt anymore.
After applying the medicine, Lu Qi’an helped him put on fresh gauze. “Done.”
Fu Jia looked down at his own hands. To remain calm, he had pinched the back of his hand until it turned red.
“Thank you,” he said.
“You’re welcome.” Lu Qi’an put the things away. “Apply the medicine on time. Go to the hospital if it worsens.”
Mulling over it for a while, Fu Jia said, “Thanks.”
Lu Qi’an responded with silence.
It was the same thing again. He was standing there while Fu Jia was sitting down, revealing a slender neck with his head lowered.
He was too thin.
Lu Qi’an thought to himself. He did not come to No. 16 High the moment his class ended without even having lunch for no reason.
“Fu Jia,” he said. “It’s the end of May with one month left to go until your finals. If your rank in the city is good enough, it wouldn’t be hard for you to transfer to No. 6 High for your second year once school reopens.”
Fu Jia was a little loss as he replied, “What?”
Lu Qi’an had no intention of repeating himself again.
Fu Jia thought about his words again before his eyes widened in surprise.
“I’m going now,” said Lu Qi’an.
“Wait a second!” cried out Fu Jia in a flurry. “Are we not going to have lunch together?”
Shooting a glance at his watch, Lu Qi’an said, “My intention was to see how the injury on your face was doing. Now that I’ve checked it out, there’s no need for us to have lunch together anymore.”
Disappointed, Fu Jia replied, “I see…”
He neither stood up nor said anything else on the matter.
This was similar to bidding him goodbye.
Fu Jia regretted it as soon as Lu Qi’an turned around and took a step. Fu Jia stood up suddenly, and his hands latched onto Lu Qi’an’s arm in a strong grip. It happened in such haste that the chair was knocked over by accident, releasing a dull clang as it hit the ground.
In order to apply the medicine, Lu Qi’an had his sleeves rolled up, his arm bare for all to see. Lu Qi’an could feel the coolness of Fu Jia’s palm as well as his slight sweat.
Lu Qi’an looked confused.
So there were still times he did not comprehend everything.
But, he did not order Fu Jia to release him immediately.
Eyes glued to him, Fu Jia parted his lips, but no sound came out.
He seemed to have lost the ability to speak at this very moment.
All his impulses were channeled into a single action—he threw himself towards Lu Qi’an.
Arms up in the air, he wrapped them around Lu Qi’an’s neck into a tight embrace.
His movement was impetuous and clumsy, causing Lu Qi’an to almost lose his footing and balance.
Caught off guard, Lu Qi’an regained his composure and began to struggle to get Fu Jia off him. However, this only served to make Fu Jia hug him even tighter.
His expression darkened as an icy tone surged through his voice. “Let go.”
Fu Jia pretended he did not hear him and tightened his grip even more. He buried his head into Lu Qi’an’s neck and took in a deep breath.
So this was what Lu Qi’an smelled like.
His scent was fresher and cooler than the aftermath of an early spring rain.
Like a dog, he kept sniffing here and there, around his neck and shoulders, which angered Lu Qi’an greatly. “Release me this instant!”
Refusing to let go, Fu Jia moved closer to Lu Qi’an’s ear and whispered, “Please wait for me. I’ll definitely study twice as hard…”
He was blowing his breath directly into Lu Qi’an’s ear. Infuriated, Lu Qi’an did not bother to restrain his strength anymore. With one rough shove, he pushed Fu Jia away and coldly berated, “What is wrong with you?”
Fu Jia staggered backwards, having been pushed away. Yet, his bright, clear eyes were still completely focused on Lu Qi’an.
In that instant Lu Qi’an was forced to admit that he was wrong when he met Fu Jia on the stairs in the villa that time. How could he think that Fu Jia’s eyes would never shine?
Fu Jia’s eyes were twinkling like the stars, filled with light from a flame that burned from the very depths, carrying the intention to ignite him.
Lu Qi’an took a deep breath and gradually regained his composure. The anger in his eyes was also gradually dissipating away.
Everything happens for a reason. If it were not for that look in his eyes, Full Jia would not have been able to withstand a decade.
“You should calm down.” After saying that, Lu Qi’an turned to leave.
Fu Jia was left behind with his hands quivering uncontrollably against his will.