Before the summer vacation, Zhang Ganggang nervously sent a text to Rourou. “Do you have time to go swimming during the vacation?”
The response came quickly. “Sorry… I might have to go for tuition during the vacation.”
It was impossible for him to not be disappointed, but as a understanding and sensible man (…) Zhang Ganggang naturally would not be calculative about it.
Rourou sent another text. “You must take photos for me when you go swimming. I miss you very very much, that basketball photo was my wallpaper for a long time.”
Zhang Ganggang, “…”
Xie Meng recorded the summer homework down, and saw Zhang Ganggang’s flushed face when he turned around.
“…” Xie Meng was very worried. “Are you feeling unwell?”
Qi Fei laughed wickedly. “It’s not that he’s feeling unwell, he’s just horny.”
Zhang Ganggang, “…”
After the summer solstice, the temperature in Suzhou soared up. During the day, the sun was shining, heating up the air. However, the night was still cool. Xie Meng would occasionally carry a rattan chair out to the yard for Zhang Xiujuan to enjoy the breeze.
His schedule did not change a bit. He woke up early to practise his martial arts, and exchanged blows with Zhang Xiujuan.
“You’re not going out to play during the vacation?” The old lady’s fists were brisk and efficient, and was merciless to even her little grandson. “Don’t always stay at home, you’ll grow mold.”
Xie Meng spoke helplessly, “If I go out all the time, what to do if something happens to you?”
“What can happen to me? Don’t be so anti-social.”
“…” Xie Meng could neither laugh nor cry. “I’m going swimming today.”
Zhang Xiujuan perked up. “With a girl?”
“A boy, he’s coming over later.”
Zhang Xiujuan stared at him. “Hah, you‘re something, even wanting others to come pick you up. Go take the green bean soup out from the refrigerator and warm it up. It’s so hot today, don’t you know how to show some courtesy?”
When Ji Qinyang came, he saw Xie Meng holding a thermos flask. He raised his brow, one foot on the ground supporting his new mountain bike.
“My grandmother’s green bean soup,” Xie Meng explained. He unscrewed the lid, pouring a cup for Ji Qinyang. “Try it.”
The warmth of the soup was perfect, light and refreshing. Zhang Xiujuan had added rock sugar, and the soup was sweet and yet not cloying.
Ji Qinyang laughed as he drank. “Is this considered the transport fare?”
Xie Meng too laughed. He cracked a rare joke, “Then you’re also too cheap.”
Ji Qinyang did not deny it. He motioned for Xie Meng to sit behind him, and hung the thermos flask at the front of the bike.
There were many bridges along Shanteng Street. They were small, but high. Ji Qinyang had to stand up and pedal as he ferried Xie Meng up the slope.
“Why don’t I come down and push the bike,” Xie Meng proposed.
Ji Qinyang regulated his breathing and did not speak. When going downhill, the summer wind blew his bangs up, revealing his bright forehead, “Stand up, and put your hands on my shoulder.”
“?” Xie Meng was puzzled, but he did as he said.
Ji Qinyang rushed up the highest bridge with all his might.
As the warm wind danced past them, Xie Meng squinted, unconsciously tightening his hands around Ji Qinyang’s shoulders. The cycling boy smiled. He turned his head, and the bright sunshine softened his exquisite features.
By the time they arrived at the swimming pool, both Zhang Ganggang and Qi Fei were already waiting there. Zhang Ganggang even brought a duck-shaped swimming tube along with him.
Seeing Ji Qinyang, Qi Fei was a little surprised. “Didn’t you just pierce your ear yesterday? It’s fine to go swimming today?”
Hearing that, Xie Meng turned his head, looking doubtfully at Ji Qinyang.
Ji Qinyang revealed his left ear. On his lobe was a small silver stud.
“…” Xie Meng stared at it for a long time.
Ji Qinyang smiled, turning his face. “How does it look?”
Qi Fei looked as though he could not take it anymore. In his eyes, Ji Qinyang was really too narcissistic. “Enough, Boss, you’re the most beautiful, you’re way too sexy!”
Zhang Ganggang instead was more worried that Maitreya would find out about it once school started. However, listening to Qi Fei, Ji Qinyang had already even dyed his hair before, this was so small, no one would bother about it.
“So, will you still be swimming today?” Once Xie Meng got used to it, he was fine with it. In his eyes, Ji Qinyang was very pretty, sometimes what he wore was even more suitable on him than on girls.
Ji Qinyang, “I’ll just watch from the sides, it’s cooler in the pool anyway.”
As they were early, not many people were in the pool. Zhang Ganggang lay on his big yellow duck, insisting on Qi Fei pushing him along, while Ji Qinyang sat by the pool alone, feeling somewhat bored, his feet in the water and his eyes unwittingly glued to Xie Meng.
The boy was like a fish. Covered with water, he looked a lot softer than usual.
Ji Qinyang watched him swim towards himself. Xie Meng pushed himself up and sat next to him.
“You must be very bored.” Xie Meng wiped the water away from his face. His complexion was very fair, but not the translucent type like Ji Qinyang. As it was a little colder getting out of the water, Ji Qinyang noticed that Xie Meng’s nipples were hard.
“…” Ji Qinyang scratched at his nose, coughing, “A little.”
Xie Meng took a towel and rubbed his hair. He thought about it, “Let them play by themselves later, I’ll bring you somewhere else.”
Ji Qinyang’s interest grew. “Oh? What are we going to do?”
Xie Meng smiled, tossing the towel aside. “It’s no fun telling you now.”
After waving goodbye at Zhang Ganggang and Qi Fei, Xie Meng happened to bump into Zhuo Xiaoyuan as he led Ji Qinyang out. Zhuo Jinjin was in a pretty little swimsuit edged with lace, and she shrieked upon seeing him.
Xie Meng, “…”
Zhuo Xiaoyuan was ruthless. “With this figure of yours, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
Zhuo Jinjin huffily punched her brother.
Ji Qinyang gave Zhuo Xiaoyuan a fistbump. “Take good care of your sister.”
Zhuo Xiaoyuan raised his brows. “As if I need you to tell me that.” He looked at the both of them, “You’re done swimming?”
Xie Meng did not answer directly. “Ganggang and Qi Fei are still inside.”
Zhuo Xiaoyuan clicked his tongue irritably. “We’ll be be playing with idiots again.”
Xie Meng, “…”
When Ji Qinyang cycled to the door of the martial arts center, he had yet to react. Xie Meng walked up the few steps and waited for him.
“My health was poor as a child, and so my grandmother sent me here.” Xie Meng greeted the uncle at the door, walking towards the sanshou hall familiarly. There was no one in the changing room, and Xie Meng passed Ji Qinyang a new set of athletic wear.
The boy himself was wearing a chinese silk jacket, and his feet were bare.
Ji Qinyang followed him, taking his shoes off and walking behind him into the hall.
The instructor was still teaching his disciples. Many of them looked around five or six years old. They were in the horse stance, and childishly shouting along as they punched the air.
“Will I be following along with them?” Ji Qinyang was curious. He watched as Xie Meng pulled on his wrist guards, and had a pair tossed at him.
“It’s too late for you to learn the basics now,” Xie Meng laughed. “I’ll teach you the practical techniques, normally used for self-defense.”
Ji Qinyang was somewhat amazed. “I never thought that you’ll knew such things.”
Xie Meng did not speak. He pulled Ji Qinyang’s arm towards him, crossing it with his own arm. Then, he drew his palm back and pushed it forward, and Ji Qinyang followed along with his rhythm.
“Left foot in front, right foot at the back, and your front knee slightly bent.” As Xie Meng spoke, he moved his left leg around Ji Qinyang, and the arm that was crossed with his straightened and pulled. Ji Qinyang fell forward, and before he could react, Xie Meng kneed him in the calf. With a twist of the body, Ji Qinyang was pushed onto the ground, unable to move.
Ji Qinyang, “…”
Xie Meng looked down at him. “The ancient masters said, hands, heads, fingers, palms, fists, elbows, shoulders, knees, legs, hips, arms. Each part could be used in an attack. Pay attention to the unexpected, and work practically.”
He helped Ji Qinyang up, and put on a defensive posture. “Your turn to try it.”
Ji Qinyang lay on the ground, sweating. Xie Meng poured him some green bean soup.
“What was that just now?” Ji Qinyang suddenly asked.
Xie Meng, “Wing Chun, San Ban Fu.”
Ji Qinyang, “This is also part of Sanshou?”
Xie Meng, “It’s part of the traditional Chinese martial arts.”
Ji Qinyang laughed. “How come you know everything? What a grandmaster.”
“Wong Kar-wai’s film wasn’t too bad,” Xie Meng laughed as well. “The special effects are just a little over-exaggerated.”
Ji Qinyang nodded. “Mn, duangduang1.”
Xie Meng nearly sprayed out the green bean soup in his mouth. Ji Qinyang rested for a while before standing up, circling his wrists and ankles.
“You want to practise some more?” Xie Meng was surprised, “With such urgency, aren’t you afraid you won’t be able to get up tomorrow morning?”
Ji Qinyang cocked his brow, playing with a pun, “In such matters of pounding, a man should never lose.”
Qi Fei again invited Ji Qinyang to go swimming halfway through the summer vacation.
“Your piercing has healed, right?” Qi Fei held his phone between his shoulder and ear, coaxing his little cousin to take his nap. “I’ve invited Zhang Ganggang and Zhuo Xiaoyuan as well. Xie Meng and you have to come, if not I’ll have to playing with two idiots alone.”
Ji Qinyang laughed. “I’m not free, I’ve been busy with other things recently.”
Qi Fei, “Great Artist, you’re composing music and lyrics? Then call Xie Meng, he should be free right?”
“He’s not free either, you don’t have to ask him.”
Ji Qinyang said lazily, “So, you three idiots will have to play with each other.”
Qi Fei, “…”
When Xie Meng received Zhang Ganggang’s call, he was teaching Ji Qinyang how to quickly subdue his opponent facing the wall. He pulled Ji Qinyang’s hands behind his back, his thigh between Ji Qinyang’s thighs.
“Excuse me…” Xie Meng motioned that he was answering the call. Ji Qinyang’s expression was a little awkward, and he tried his best to let his body relax, leaning against the wall.
“What are you doing with Number One Beauty?” Zhang Ganggang complained. “We can’t even meet up to play.”
It took Xie Meng to realise who the number one beauty was..
“I’ve been working lately.” Xie Meng glanced at Ji Qinyang. This was not a lie. Other than teaching Ji Qinyang, he had also been teaching other small children.
Zhang Ganggang knew the economic situation of Xie Meng’s family very well, and immediately deflated. “Oh right… Is it tough?”
“Is it fun?”
Xie Meng thought about it. “It’s fun.” He looked at Ji Qinyang, who had been pressed against the wall by himself. Laughing, he stressed again, “It’s very fun.”
Ji Qinyang curled his lips. He moved his shoulder suddenly, knocking into Xie Meng’s shoulder. The latter was caught off guard, and was pushed into the wall by Ji Qinyang, and their positions were now reversed.
Xie Meng, “…”
Ji Qinyang smiled wickedly and mouthed, “It’s—very—fun.”
By the time the summer vacation was about to end, Ji Qinyang could exchange about ten blows with Xie Meng. Although Mo Suyuan could not understand why her son’s hobbies had changed in such a strange direction, she still supported him and made him sets of martial arts wear that were each suitable for spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Whereas Ji Shanrong was very gratified, and he even specially wrote, “Martial arts is noble, benevolent and chivalrous”, hanging it up in Ji Qinyang’s music room.
In the last few days of the vacation, Ji Qinyang woke up early every day, going for a run, a cycle, and practising the Xingyi Fist as he listened to music.
Mo Suyuan had finished preparing the breakfast, and watched her son in infatuation, “My little fellow is so handsome.”
Ji Shanrong coughed with feigned sternness.
Mo Suyuan laughed, “Fine, old man, you’re very handsome too.”
Ji Qinyang finished the soymilk and kissed his mother on the cheek.
Mo Suyuan patted him on the back. “Will you come back to eat?”
Ji Qinyang waved his hand, signalling no. He put on his earphones and ran downstairs, humming.
“…” Mo Suyuan pressed her palms to her face, worried. “Is our son in love?”
Ji Shanrong shook his newspapers, snorting, “It’s not like he has never brought a girl back home before.”
“It’s different this time.” She smiled, “He’s my son. If he really likes someone, how could I possibly not know?”
Face to face, Xie Meng and Ji Qinyang were going through the Taichi steps. The two of them vaguely had an impression of a master’s bearing. Probably because he had no foundation, Ji Qinyang progressed rapidly without any limitations. Like a piece of paper that had been splashed with ink, it turned into a fantastic scroll, only seeking to win fast and accurately.
Ji Qinyang threw his left fist, and Xie Meng raised his hand and blocked it. Ji Qinyang’s right knee followed, and Xie Meng withstood it. Thrusting his palm, he aimed it at Ji Qinyang, pushing him away. With the pressure on his chest, Ji Qinyang retreated a few steps.
Xie Meng gave a small smile, and did not let him go. With a lift of his leg, he kicked Ji Qinyang on his shoulder. The latter reacted quickly, and immediately grabbed Xie Meng’s calf.
Xie Meng, “!”
Ji Qinyang’s other hand seized at Xie Meng’s chest, almost lifting him up, and twisting about, they both fell onto the ground.
Xie Meng, “…”
Ji Qinyang was lying right on top of Xie Meng. Pushing himself up, he looked down at him with a smile.”
Xie Meng was a little dispirited. “What maneuver did you use just now…”
“I learnt it from the movies.” Ji Qinyang did not seem to have any intentions of getting up. He suddenly tugged at Xie Meng’s fringe. “Isn’t it very useful?”
Xie Meng exhaled, and moved his legs. “Get up…”
Ji Qinyang was lazy, and refused to move.
Xie Meng, “…”
The boy suddenly rubbed against his shoulder for a while, like a puppy. Xie Meng touched his shoulder, it was all Ji Qinyang’s sweat…
“You…” Xie Meng burst out laughing.
Ji Qinyang laughed as well. He stood up, pulling Xie Meng’s arm. “School’s about to start, have you finished the homework?”
“Great, let me copy your math homework…”