Instead of leaving immediately, Lu Qi’an asked the driver to wait for him at the door for ten minutes and turned to the villa’s courtyard.
He needed to solve one problem.
Before he could get any closer, he could vaguely see a blurred figure curled up under the trees in the shadow of the yard. It was only when his vision finally cleared up that he knew it was Fu Jia.
Lu Qi’an was still ten steps away from him, but he stopped in his tracks.
Fu Jia didn’t think of it as a big deal. He stood up, brushing away the dirt and grass stuck on his body. As he approached Lu Qi’an, he asked, “How did you know I was here?”
He sounded pleased with himself.
Lu Qi’an replied, “I don’t know. I’m here specially to see you.” His eyes fell on the poor servant’s room window behind him.
Fu Jia nodded, looking even more pleased.
It just so happened that he, too, was there waiting for Lu Qi’an. He had no idea where the sudden feeling of triumph came from, but he knew exactly what Lu Qi’an meant—He remembered having been told that he could see the yard from that window.
“Oh, what do you want from me?”
“I would like to request you to move out of the villa,” answered Lu Qi’an.
The expression on Fu Jia’s face instantly darkened.
Had the members of the Lu family ever truly “requested” anything before? The words he said sounded so odd.
Rather than a request, it sounded more like an order.
“I’ll never move out,” Fu Jia said. “I’m living the life here. I don’t have to pay rent, and the meals are free. Where am I going to find another superb place like this again?” As he finished, he flashed a deliberate smile.
“There’s no point in you staying.” Lu Qi’an argued.
“What do you mean?” Fu Jia asked in confusion.
Lu Qi’an’s expression finally softened a little, but it was only for a slight moment. “I meant exactly what I said.” He continued, “If you’re still unwilling to leave, I’ll have you driven out.”
Consumed with anger, Fu Jia laughed lightly. “And you think it’d be meaningful to drive me out?”
Lu Qi’an frowned.
Not only was this kid’s handwriting bad, but he also had poor comprehension.
He felt that he had said all there was to say and that he was ready to leave without saying anything more. But as soon as he wanted to turn around, Fu Jia rushed forward to grab his arm.
The way he grabbed him was rude and vicious, no less than a bunch of kids fighting in the street. There was no sense of propriety in his actions and he didn’t care about the consequences either.
“Don’t think you can leave like that,” Fu Jia retorted, as he heavily emphasized the words one by one. “I’ll admit was immature when I was young, but I’m different now. Don’t you even dare think about tossing some random words behind for me to rack my brains over and leave!”
Lu Qi’an didn’t like people suddenly invading his personal space, let alone when that person was Fu Jia.
This was already the second time it had happened in such a short time.
“Let go,” he demanded.
Fu Jia raised his brow. “I won’t.”
Lu Qi’an pursed his lips. Instead of pulling his hand away as he did last time, he said, “The villa is located far from the city. Won’t you be late since you have to waste so much time trying to get to school?”
Akin to a disc getting stuck in a CD player, Fu Jia froze.
It was no doubt that the villa was situated rather far from No. 16 High. To avoid being late, Fu Jia would have to wake up before the crack of dawn. The school did not care that he was late every day anyway.
As he froze, his grip on Lu Qi’an’s arm loosened. Lu Qi’an only had to move to the side to evade his hand.
His words only served to confuse Fu Jia further. Was this Lu Qi’an’s way of scolding him for being bad with his studies or was it a form of satire that wasn’t taught in the books?
“So, you think that it’s more meaningful for me to move out so I can study more easily?”
Lu Qi’an asked in reply, “Isn’t it?”
Fu Jia sneered in response. “Like a dog, they brought me here and then drive me out. I don’t have any dignity at all. What’s so meaningful about that?”
The tone of his voice did sound slightly bitter and harsh.
The moon wasn’t visible tonight amongst the dense clouds, so it might rain at night. Fu Jia felt that his current mood reflected the current weather. A storm was brewing within him, and all he needed was some kind of opportunity.
Lu Qi’an didn’t seem to mind whether his words would be used as a window for such an opportunity. He added, “You seemed to have misunderstood what dignity means. Staying here means the exact opposite. You’re hurting your own self-esteem.”
He pointed at the window and said, “Was the scenery that nice that you had to hide there and look? If you really wanted to look that badly, then come out into the open and see.”
In that instant, Fu Jia felt all the blood in his body surging up towards his head. His mouth was trembling. He then bit the inside of his mouth, savoring the sweetness of his own blood.
Seeing that he had fallen silent, Lu Qi’an turned to leave for real this time.
“Wait a minute,” Fu Jia whispered.
The voice was too low for Lu Qi’an to hear. Neither did Lu Qi’an know either that Fu Jia had never once spoke out loud after living in the Lin villa for ten years. It was a completely subconscious act, and he didn’t have to deliberately control it.
Turning around, Fu Jia did not spare another look at Lu Qi’an’s departing figure.
Unlike when he was young, Fu Jia had come to the yard by climbing through the window. He seldomly did that, but since he was an eighteen-year-old adult, his first climb was so smooth that he looked like a veteran. However, today was an exception as he had almost twisted his wrist near the window ledge.
Lying down on the bed, he napped unsoundly for a good two to three hours, his consciousness waking him up from time to time. It was only until the darkest of the night did a sudden roar of thunder wake him up completely.
Rain was pelting the window, as though reminding him of something.
He got up, switched on the lights, and began to pack his luggage.
Everything about his life in the villa was arranged by Aunt Chen. She had been very harsh and strict at the start, and Fu Jia would occasionally go without meals at certain times in the day, have one sock missing from a pair, as well as having two holes in his trousers. But as time went on, Aunt Chen treated him better and would often ask him if he’d had his fill, or ask what he would like to eat tomorrow. Although the necessities he needed in life was still lacking, it could be considered enough.
Initially, Fu Jia wanted to take all it away with him. However, in the end, he only took his high school uniform and the No. 6 High’s uniform he bought earlier.
The most important things were his textbooks. God knows why a high school student would need so many textbooks to begin with, but Fu Jia went to wrap them up tightly in plastic bags so as not to get them soaked in the rain when he left later.
Finally, he ended up with a small bag, as well as a school bag that looked like it was about to burst.
As he breathed, Fu Jia felt more relaxed than ever before.
The moment he opened the door, he heard Aunt Chen call out to him, “Fu Jia?” Her voice was laced with drowsiness and sounded slightly muffled.
“I’m heading to school,” he replied.
Aunt Chen did not say another word. Instead, Fu Jia caught wind of the sound of her getting out of bed, running to open the door.
No lights were left on in the servant quarters’ corridor, but it did not hinder Aunt Chen from seeing him as clear as day.
“You…” She knew where Fu Jia was going, yet she said, “It’s still early. You can sleep a little longer.”
Fu Jia shook her head. “I want to leave earlier today.”
With a guilty look on her face, Aunt Chen glanced over herself before saying, “I’m not dressed yet so I won’t be seeing you off.”
Fu Jia laughed. “You’ve never done that before, so I wasn’t hoping for it.”
Aunt Chen fixed her stare on him and suddenly said, “Wait here. I’ll go get you something.” She returned to her room, and without even turning on the lights, she felt her way around the darkness, taking out a card from the bedside table.
“Take this with you.” She handed the card to Fu Jia. “Madame once said that if you’re willing to leave one day, she will keep depositing money into this card until you graduate from college.”
Fu Jia did not make any move to receive it. “You take it. Like what you’ve always done before.”
Aunt Chen smiled in embarrassment. “Don’t be like that. Why are you still latching on to the past? You are only in your first year of high school. There will be times when you will need the money in the future…”
After piecing together words in his mind, Fu Jia found that he was incapable of bringing himself to say horrible things like “I don’t need the Lins’ dirty money.” He found it strange too, wondering why an ill-bred, rude person like him couldn’t bring himself to utter any cruel words to them.
Fu Jia said, “You use it. I’m already an adult.”
Wiping away a non-existent tear from her eyes, she said, “Come find me then, when you need the card in the future.”
Fu Jia was relieved. Now this was the Aunt Chen he knew. Compassion might overtake her for a brief moment, but reality would ultimately determine her true nature.
Turning to leave, Fu Jia did not look back at Aunt Chen, but he knew that Aunt Chen’s eyes would twinkle with relief, implying that she was glad that he was finally gone.
She definitely would be able to get a good night’s sleep once she went back to her room, going so far as to pray that he would never come back before she went back to bed.
Fu Jia had the same idea as her.
After waiting by the roadside for a long time, he finally managed to hail a taxi to go to school.
The more he dwelled on Lu Qi’an’s words, the more he thought that living at school was more in accordance with what Lu Qi’an meant in making it easier for him to study. It was also the most meaningful thing to do.
The school gate wasn’t open yet since it wasn’t almost time for class. Fu Jia climbed over the gate with a wet, broken umbrella and his bags in hand and went to the office to find the teacher on duty. He went on to explain that he wanted to stay in school, giving the low blood sugar teacher quite a shock.
“What about your parents?” asked the teacher.
Having already thought of a reason earlier, Fu Jia explained, “They’re already divorced and didn’t want to be concerned with me. All they did was give me some cash to fend for myself. I’m unable to get in touch with them now either. Teacher, please help me out.” He feigned a pitiful look.
The teacher exclaimed in a hurry that he would lend a hand as he patted Fu Jia’s back, trying to comfort him. He even bought Fu Jia a warm breakfast to eat.
In the end, he did not even need to go through any procedures or paperwork and was instantly brought to the dorm. The teacher even brought him a blanket to sleep with.
The teacher also went off to buy him a bag of daily necessities and said, “Feel free to contact me if you run into any trouble.”
Fu Jia bowed and thanked him again and again.
Although there were eight beds in the dorm, the spots weren’t filled up. The room was only occupied by three people who woke up to the commotion. One was eyeing him while huddling in his blanket. Another one poked his head out to take a glimpse before he turned around to continue sleeping.
The remaining one asked, “Are you new?”
Afraid that he would wake the other student up, Fu Jia didn’t answer. He nodded in response instead.
The person smiled and said, “I’m Liu De.”
Fu Jia’s hand froze while he was making his bed.
Every student in No. 16 High knew that Liu De and Liu Cheng shared the same last name. Although they were not related by blood, their ties were closer than that of family. Both of them worked as small-time thugs under the same mafia gang.
Liu De whistled, “I know you. You’re pretty amazing, aren’t you?”