It was almost time for him to execute his plan.
Fu Jia thought as he washed the dishes.
He would work part time at a small restaurant near the school on weekends. Since he had worked there from the moment he turned sixteen, he had already put aside quite a small sum of savings in two years time.
He had a card with him where his father, Lin Qing would transfer funds to regularly. However since the card was kept by Aunt Chen, even if Fu Jia wanted to withdraw a penny from it, he would need to report clearly to Aunt Chen where the money was being spent on. Aunt Chen would then write it down in full detail before handing them to Lu Wanqing to be checked from time to time.
Leaving work at sunset, Fu Jia wandered around the street and eventually found himself at No. 6 High.
The only difference between this highschool and his was that his school had an extra ten added to the number, making up the number 16. No. 6 High is a famous school in the entire country while No. 16 High was notorious far and wide.
Studying had always been a painful experience for Fu Jia. He was thrown into elementary school when he was eight with no prior education, so he suffered terribly throughout his studies. His classmates were on average younger than him by two years, yet their progress was always a hundred times better than him.
If it wasn’t for Lin Qing paying the tuition fees, he wouldn’t have the chance to study at No. 16 High at all.
It was supposedly a weekend, yet the gates to No. 6 High were wide open with a few students bustling about the entrance.
Thinking of his own plan, Fu Jia laid his sight on a male student wearing a pair of thick spectacles and stopped him before the student turned around the corner.
“What do you want?” The male student stared at Fu Jia up and down in puzzlement.
Fu Jia was also checking him out. He estimated their body size and height, coming to a realization that their physiques were very similar.
“Sell me your uniform,” Fu Jia demanded.
“Ah?” The male student thought he was hearing things.
Fishing out two hundreds bucks, Fu Jia repeated once more, “This money is yours if you sell me your uniform.”
The student’s eyes were drilling right through them.
He was overloaded with skepticism so it took Fu Jia a ton of effort to persuade him. In the end, not only did he spent 200 bucks on a school uniform, he even went to the supermarket nearby to buy a pair of pants and put on his coat.
After the deal was made, Fu Jia asked, “Do you know who is Lu Qi’an? He’s from your school.”
On hearing that, the male student nodded hard, “Of course I do. Who doesn’t know him at school?”
“Then do you know what class he’s in?”
The male student clamped his mouth tight.
Fu Jia understood what he meant but he would no longer bribe him with money anymore. Fishing out the cutter, he twirled it in his hand, the tip of the blade occasionally pointing towards him or the male student.
The male student instantly answered without fail, “He’s in Class 2-1.”
“Oh,” Fu Jia put the cutter away. “You can leave now.”
Akin to a gust of wind, the male student disappeared into thin air.
Fu Jia stared at the uniform in his grip and changed into them at the supermarket’s washroom.
Not only was No. 6 High great in academic, they were also famous for their school uniforms. Although all the sportswears in the entire city were monotone in color, No. 6 High’s color schemes and lines were of the most succinct and generous, mainly made out of dark blue and white colors, without any kind of fancy and flowery patterns.
Fu Jia lifted the clothes to take a closer look. Even their clothes were top quality.
He checked himself out in the mirror, realizing that he looked as nice as the other students when he was donning the uniform.
When Monday came along, he skipped the last period in the morning, changed into the No. 6 High’s school uniform and went to camp near the school early. The moment the school bell rang at noon, a large influx of students came pouring out. Taking advantage of the crowd, Fu Jia slipped into the school.
He wasn’t in a hurry the slightest bit. Starting from the nearest teaching block, he searched for sophomore class 2-1 on each floor one by one. When he couldn’t find the class on the first block, he even went to a store to buy a piece of bread, behaving so natural that it seemed like he was a regular patron of the shop.
Eating most of the bread as he continued his search, he eventually found the class in the end.
The door was shut tight and there was only a person left in the classroom. Fu Jia rested his body against the railing in the corridor, acting as though he was waiting for someone. The person seemed to be eating his lunch in the classroom and had no intention of leaving, which frustrated Fu Jia to no end.
By the time he finally finished his meal and walked out with his lunch box in hand, Fu Jia had already kneaded the bread in his hand into mush.
Entering the deserted classroom, he flipped through every textbook on the desks, examining the names on the title page. Very quickly, he found the name ‘Lu Qi’an’ at the third row.
A handwriting so bold and powerful.
He knew a calligraphy scroll that Lu Qi’an had gave to Lu Wanqing on her birthday was hung in the Lin Family’s villa. Lu Wanqing loved it so much that she had it displayed in the most conspicuous place in the house.
Lin Fengxun was also the proud owner of a number of calligraphy written by Lu Qi’an as Lu Qi’an had often spend his time teaching him how to write them while holding his hand in the yard when he was young. Even if it was a wasted paper, Lin Fengxun would always tell Aunt Chen to keep them for him.
With face devoid of all emotions, Fu Jia placed all the textbooks on the desk surface, flipping them open one by one. Then, he sprinkled the bread crumbs in his hand, distributing them fairly onto the pages before flipping all of them to a close. He pressed them forcefully and placed them back in their rightful place.
Taking out a note he had written earlier, he casually took a stapler from the neighboring desk and stapled it hard on the inner walls of Lu Qi’an’s bag.
When he was about to leave with his foot sticking out of the classroom door, the student who went out to wash his lunch box had just came back.
“Hey, who are you?”
Fu Jia ignored him.
He couldn’t fathom where did all this anger came from.
In the recent two years, he had become even weirder than before.
“Fengfeng,” Lu Qi’an called out softly, carrying a large box in his hands.
Lin Fengxun was still peeved. Leaning against his seat in the wheelchair, he pulled up the blanket to cover his face, refusing to say a single word.
Lu Qi’an wasn’t angry by his actions and neither did he move to pull the blanket away. All he did was just ask, “Why did you not eat your medicine on time again?”
Lin Fengxun shook his blanket, indicating that he was still upset with him.
Lu Qi’an carried on, “Fengfeng, Auntie would cry secretly if you didn’t eat your medicine properly. Even if you don’t care about your well-being, don’t you care about Auntie too?”
Lin Fengxun pulled down his blanket. His entire eyes were already clouded with tears yet he still held on, stopping his tears from cascading down his cheeks. “Either way, it’s always my fault!”
“I never said that.”
“You did!” Lin Fengxun finally burst into tears.
Lu Qi’an did not comfort him right away. Only until after his crying had died down a little, then he opened the box in his hand.
He tilted the box slightly so that Lin Fengxun could look inside.
Taking a glimpse of the stuffs inside, Lin Fengxun saw that there were an assortment of things such as watches, toy cars, jigsaw puzzles, wooden blocks. They were the sort of toys he loved most to play with but he still said, “I don’t need presents.”
Lu Qi’an shut the box. “I never said these are for you.”
Lin Fengxun was stunned by his words.
Placing the box on the ground, Lu Qi’an grabbed hold of Lin Fengxun’s hand. Everytime when he was about to lecture Lin Fengxun, he would act this way as though it was a type of comfort.
“Is the medicine too bitter for you?”
Lin Fengxun turned his head to the side and nodded.
“I know you love sweets and hate medicine with passion. You also hate those instruments measuring your body. But Fengfeng, you can treat all of these like a game.”
Lu Qi’an continued to explain in an unhurried pace, “Every time you encountered an obstacle that you can’t overcome, it meant you’re facing a battle. Honestly, life is just one big marathon. Those who clench their teeth and persevere until the end are the true winners.’”
He opened the box again, taking out a jigsaw puzzle while he’s at it. The image was a picture of Lu Wanqing when she was still a teenager. She was smiling beautifully. “Taking your medicine when you wake up early is a kind of game too. If you drink it, that means you win. If you drink it without throwing up, that means you win another round.”
He handed the jigsaw puzzle to Lin Fengxun, “And I’ll be here by your side. Every round you win, I’ll always encourage you, praise you and reward you with a present. Fengfeng, will you work hard with me?”
Lin Fengxun was stupefied for a long time. After a while, he grasped the jigsaw puzzle tightly, nodding his head desperately. As he stared at his mom’s smiling face, his tears kept rolling down his cheeks yet not a sound was heard from him.
Lu Qi’an fed Lin Fengxun his medicine. The two children leaned against each other, working on the jigsaw puzzle on the round table in the yard together. The sun was very bright that when it shone on Lu Qi’an’s hair, it turned golden in color. His eyes also became brighter and clearer, resembling a light brown color of the fluffy cushion placed on the sofa.
Lin Fengxun only played for a while before he began to feel drowsy so he told Lu Qi’an that he wanted to sleep. Lu Qi’an helped him reclined his wheelchair, tucked in his blanket and put on his eye mask so he could sleep soundly.
Fu Jia was leaning against the cold wall, witnessing the scenes unfolding before his eyes. He felt his entire body turning numb. His legs, mind, as well as the hand that was scalded by the cigarette to the point it became infected was also numb.
When it came to games, there was so much more Fu Jia had to fight for than Lin Fengxun.
This train of thought suddenly emerged in his mind, along with a strong need to compete with other people.
Although he was still a kid, he was very much aware of how laughable his life is. But what’s the point of knowing that? Even if he proved that he’s more miserable than Lin Fengxun to the whole world, who would rush over to pity him?
During lunch break, Aunt Chen was taking a nap in her own room, her breathing heavy. Fu Jia cautiously walked out of the room, ran out of the back door and dived through the small crack in the garden fence surrounding the villa. He was still young, and was horribly thin so slipping through it was an easy feat for him.
The moment he got through, he stepped on a tree branch, emitting a crisp ‘crack!’ into the air.
Lu Qi’an glanced over and caught sight of Fu Jia who appeared suddenly out of nowhere. His expression unwavered, he stared at him with the usual calm expression on his countenance.
Frozen stiff, Fu Jia didn’t dare to budge an inch.
Lu Qi’an stuck up his finger to his lips and made a ‘Shh!’ gesture. Frantic beyond measure, Fu Jia pursed his lips tightly.
Lu Qi’an approached him, “It’s you.”
“You remember me?” Fu Jia was surprised to say the least.
“Please be quiet,” Lu Qi’an made another shushing gesture. “I remember. Is your hand healed by now?”
Fu Jia shielded his hands behind his back. “It’s getting better. Thank you for the band-aid.”
Lu Qi’an nodded, “You’re welcome. But it’s not appropriate for you to come here so hurry up and go home.”
Fu Jia nodded, “I know. I just want to ask you a question. Can I?”
Lu Qi’an was silent. He studied Fu Jia quietly, his eyes devoid of all emotions. There were no signs of pity nor hatred. In short, his eyes showed nothing at all.
“Go ahead,” he replied.
Sucking in a deep breath, Fu Jia went on to ask, “You said life is like one big marathon and there are so many mini competitions inside it and those who persevere will emerge as the true winners. I just want to ask for a person who doesn’t have anyone to encourage him, or anyone to praise him, how should he hold on in life?”
“So you heard me,” said Lu Qi’an.
“Yeah,” Fu Jia nodded, pointing to a small gap at the fully covered nearby window of a servant room. “I saw you guys from there. If I stretched my head out a bit, I can hear a little.” He wasn’t in the least guilty about being caught. Instead, it sounded like he was showing off.
Lu Qi’an nodded. He wasn’t angry. Instead, he thought for a while and replied Fu Jia’s question, “Dignity.”
Fu Jia revealed a puzzled look. He learnt this word before but he didn’t quite understand what it meant.
So Lu Qi’an explained to him, “You feel upset that you lost and you felt like you’ve been looked down on. That feeling is a result of your dignity at work. Since you don’t want to admit defeat, you have to win.”
Fu Jia still didn’t quite get his explanation but he knew what Lu Qi’an said was right.
He didn’t want to lose.
“Now that I did what you asked, run along now,” Lu Qi’an drove him away.