After that, they did not know why, but their eyes would often meet each other. Sometimes, it was unconscious, but other times it was because one was looking at the other.
During math class, Xie Meng would often be called up to the blackboard to complete the sums there. From the moment he stood up, Ji Qinyang’s eyes seemed to be glued to his back. Of course, it might be just a false impression, as many people were also watching him. Zhang Ganggang’s eyes were especially passionate, so worshipful of this curve-wrecker to the point that he almost wanted to prostrate himself… He even did not know when it started, but he now developed the habit of applauding whenever the teacher announced that Xie Meng’s solution was correct.
Each time, Xie Meng would awkwardly return to his seat amidst the cheers and the light boos from his classmates. At this time, if he was to look at Ji Qinyang, nine out of ten times he would be looking at him as well. His smile was very sincere, but his eyes were teasing, and he was also clapping.
Zhang Ganggang had clapped til his hands were red, and he was very excited. “Maitreya hasn’t even taught us this, but you already understand it!”
“I always preview the lesson before class.” Xie Meng replied calmly.
Zhang Ganggang’s blind worship was a little exaggerated. “That’s very impressive too!”
Xie Meng looked at him, then flipped open the textbook and pointed to an example. “Look, they’re exactly the same. Only the numbers were changed. All I did was memorise the steps.”
When Zhang Ganggang studied the example, he found that it really was the same.
“If you memorise the steps, you’ll be able to do it as well.” When Xie Meng said this, it was as though he was discussing something easy like what he ate that day, and he patted Zhang Ganggang’s arm in encouragement. “You should go up to the blackboard next time and give it a try. If you get it correct, I’ll applaud you.”
Maitreya was good at teaching mathematics, and he was also humorous enough. When teaching geometry, he even brought a toy in the shape of an ant with him, just as though he was teaching little students. However, amongst his students there were only one that was like a child — Ji Qinyang.
Only Ji Qinyang would jokingly ask him, “Teacher, why would the ant climb on the cube? Is there sugar on top?”
When going through algebra, he would also be the only that thought a + b should equal to ab.
Maitreya was so angry that he wanted to swear, but he could not do anything with Ji Qinyang. Although the boy was not a conscientious student, and he did not always obey the rules, but he did not skip classes nor start fights, and never ever slept in class. Even if he wanted to chide him for not being dedicated to his studies, he could not find any reason to do so.
“You should work harder.” Maitreya grasped onto his patience tightly and advised the students earnestly. “Learn from Xie Meng, preview your lessons before class, and revise again after class.”
At that time, it was the evening’s self-study session. Some students were engaged in a quiet discussion at the front of the classroom with the teachers, and Ji Qinyang’s voice sounded out lazily.
“I did.” He laughed, “But without any talents, I can’t remember a single thing.”
When Xie Meng heard him, he looked up unconsciously, and Ji Qinyang also happened to look towards him. He winked at Xie Meng, then suddenly pulled his lips down, stuck his tongue under his philtrum, rolled his eyes up and imitated the look of a gorilla. Seeing him, Xie Meng burst out laughing.
“…” Zhang Ganggang gave him a bewildered look. “What happened?”
Xie Meng coughed and composed himself. “It’s nothing, I choked on my water.”
Zhang Ganggang’s look could be described as “you’re definitely deceiving me but I’ll forgive you”. This entire afternoon, he had been talking to Xie Meng about a friend he just met online, and the whole time, his face was beaming with delight. “I’ll let you know, Rourou is super cute and super gentle, she even writes poems, can her writing skills be any better…”
As Xie Meng listened, he looked towards the front of the class. Ji Qinyang had already looked away and was lazily provoking Maitreya, as though nothing had happened.
Despite there being only a few more days to the mid-term examinations, Ji Qinyang invited Qi Fei to play basketball. Together with a group of seniors, they spent half the day on the court, only stopping after a break.
Qi Fei was the boy who asked Ji Qinyang if he was close with Xie Meng. “I heard that the Year 2s have started a band, are you interested?”
Lying on the ground with his head resting on his arm, Ji Qinyang replied, unconcerned, “It’s just making some noise, how boring.”
“That might not be the case.” Qi Fei laughed. “I think Yin Luoxue is the lead singer.”
Ji Qinyang was a little taken aback when he heard Yin Luoxue’s name. “Why is she going along with them.”
Qi Fei spread his palms. “How would I know? She’s chasing her boyfriend from such a long distance… When did you guys break up?”
Ji Qinyang snorted. His smile remained upon his face, but it did not reach his eyes. “There’s nothing between the both of us. She can do whatever she likes.”
Qi Fei clicked his tongue. “She’s always been so crazy about you. After hearing that you’ve enrolled in W High, she even followed you all the way here. During the military training, I did see her, her eyeballs were pretty much glued to you the entire time.”
Ji Qinyang was noncommittal. The weather in November was a lot cooler, after lying down for a bit, he sat up and pulled his jacket around him. Turning back, he found Qi Fei copying a paper.
“When did you become so dedicated to your studies.” Ji Qinyang joked. He leaned over and took a look. “Whose paper are you copying?”
Ji Qinyang raised his brow, a little surprised. “When did you become so close to him?”
“This has nothing to do with closeness.” Qi Fei replied indifferently. “He gave me after I asked him for it, he’s a pretty nice person.”
Ji Qinyang’s expression changed subtly. He suddenly reached out and grabbed Xie Meng’s paper, ignoring Qi Fei calling out behind him.
Xie Meng’s handwriting was as clean and neat as him. It could not be described as beautiful, but was tidier than most boys. After looking through it for awhile. Ji Qinyang lost interest, and tossed it back to Qi Fei before putting on his jacket properly.
“How long more do you need to finish copying?” Ji Qinyang kicked Qi Fei’s knee lightly. “Let’s go.”
“What are we having?” Qi Fei slowly gathered up the papers. “Mutton?”
Ji Qinyang shook his head. “I promised my mom to go home for dinner.”
“Sister Fairy is cooking today?”
Ji Qinyang shot him a look. “Who allowed you to address my mom this way?”
“Hey, what’s wrong with calling her Sister Fairy? The last time we went to the arcade, she was even chatted up by some college freshman, I didn’t see you getting angry then.”
Ji Qinyang did not reply. He reached out and shoved Qi Fei’s head away, a warning given with the amount of force he used.
Xie Meng was alerted by others to the ringing of his mobile phone, the display showing Zhang Ganggang.
“Where are you?” Zhang Ganggang’s voice sounded rather anxious. “I’ve called you several times!”
“…” Xie Meng sighed, “What’s wrong?”
“There’s many questions in the mock paper that I can’t solve… Rourou hasn’t been around recently, where’s your paper?”
“It’s with Qi Fei.”
Zhang Ganggang cried out, “Why did you give it to him? Based on our relationship, shouldn’t you keep it for me?”
Xie Meng rubbed at his nose, and could only say, “Why don’t you come and look for me, I’ll go through it with you face to face.”
“Ok, ok! Give me your address, I’ll be right over!”
“No. OO, XX Road, Room 2 on the 3rd floor.”
Zhang Ganggang muttered, “2… 3rd floor…” He paused, and his voice became cautious. “Isn’t this the very famous martial arts centre in the city…?”
“Yes.” Xie Meng’s tone was placid. “I’m in the Sanshou Hall, when you arrive, remember to come to the correct place.”
Zhang Ganggang, “…”
When Ji Qinyang returned home, Ji Shanrong was in the living room reading a newspaper. Seeing his son coming home, he did not look up, and only said, “You’re back.”
Mo Suyuan stepped out of the kitchen with a huge pot in her hands. “Quickly wash your hands,” his mother urged. “Your father brought some crabs home, have more today.”
Ji Qinyang did not have much of a preference for crabs. After washing his hands, he sat at the table, cracking the legs of the crabs disinterestedly. It was a rare occasion for Ji Shanrong to be home. He was a geologist, and often travelled the world on expeditions. His passion for rocks greatly exceeded his concern for his son.
As Mo Suyuan peeled the crabs for both the father and son, she tried to make conversation with her son.
“Was school fun?”
Ever since Ji Qinyang moved up to high school, Mo Suyuan never seemed anxious about it. She would only ask if school was fun, as though her son was there to play and not study.
Ji Shanrong gathered up the crab roe, dipping it into vinegar, he fed it to his wife. Reminding her to be careful as it was hot, he watched as his wife ate it happily.
“…” Caught off guard, Ji Qinyang was force-fed a show of affection. He muttered, “Singles also need to be cared for…”
“What did you say?” Mo Suyuan smiled and poked Ji Qinyang’s head, asking again. “Was school fun?”
Ji Qinyang bit into the crab leg and replied perfunctorily. “It was ok…. Pretty interesting.”
“Any good looking girls?”
Mo Suyuan: Are there any good-looking girls?
Ji Qinyang gave a vague reply. “… I didn’t pay attention.”
“What about good looking boys?”
Ji Qinyang hesitated. Xie Meng’s face suddenly flashed across his eyes, and his brows creased slightly.
Mo Suyuan blinked and laughed, “Oh? Is he as good looking as you?”
Ji Qinyang shot a glance at his mother, then looked toward his father. Ji Shanrong was still slowly peeling his crab. The two of them exchanged looks, and the older man gave a fake cough. “Why are you concerned about other boys?”
Mo Suyuan smiled coyly, “Getting jealous?”
Ji Shanrong was completely helpless against this wife who still behaved like a young lady. “Yes, yes.” Then, he placed the crab meat into his wife’s bow.
“Go make more friends.” Mo Suyuan caressed her son’s shaggy hair. “You should have fun at school.”
Hugging his bag, Zhang Ganggang stood trembling outside the hall. Xie Meng had greeted him before starting a practice match. His body clearly looked very slender, but as he exchanged blows with his opponent, he looked tenacious. Dressed in a close-fitting silk mandarin jacket, his sleeves fluttered with his actions.
He only stopped after exchanging about thirty to forty blows with his teacher, wiping his sweat as he headed out of the hall.
“Where’s your paper?” Xie Meng looked at Zhang Ganggang’s bag. “Which ones do you not know how to solve?”
Only then did Zhang Ganggang remembered his objective in coming here, and hurriedly retrieved his paper from his bag.
Hanging his towel around his neck, Xie Meng held the paper with one hand as he pulled out a pen to mark it. Zhang Ganggang stood by the side and looked at him. His fringe was a little long, and was hanging in front of his forehead damply.
“Bring this over here, then sum it up after square-rooting it…” Xie Meng paused, his eyes fell onto Zhang Ganggang’s daydreaming face and sighed, “Are you listening?”
“… You’re very good looking.”
“When did you start learning Sanshou?”
“My health wasn’t good as a child, so my grandmother sent me for classes… So, this geometry problem…”
“Hold on first, no need to hurry.” Zhang Ganggang was completely distracted. “Is it useful to learn this? For self-defence or something…”
“To save damsels in distress?”
Xie Meng looked at him, speechless.
“To give a helping hand and uphold justice?” Zhang Ganggang gave a hero’s pose.
Xie Meng finally could not hold it back anymore. “I’m only learning Sanshou, and did not become Superman or Spiderman. What exactly are you thinking?”
Zhang Ganggang still did not give up. “Then, what’s the point of learning it?”
Xie Meng bit the bullet and replied, “It’s first to improve your health and fitness…”
Zhang Ganggang’s eyes had turned starry. “Then?”
“Then… Maybe…” Xie Meng was getting nervous as Zhang Ganggang watched him, and finally said reluctantly. “Then to… protect the country?”
“No matter what.” Zhang Ganggang looked at Xie Meng seriously. “You’re really very cool.”
“… Thank you.”
After explaining the questions to Zhang Ganggang, it was nearly dinner time. The two of them settled their dinner at the mutton restaurant outside the martial arts centre.
“Rourou has been very busy recently. I think they’re about to take their exam too.” Zhang Ganggang slurped the noodles. “She even want me to study hard and progress everyday.”
Xie Meng was squinting and carefully picking out the garlic in his bowl. Hearing the words “study hard and progress”, he was surprised. With his clear, black eyes, he stared at Zhang Ganggang through the steam wafting off the mutton soup, and did not say a word.
Zhang Ganggang seemed to understand his suspicions, and a blush quickly infused his baby face. Stumbling, he replied, “We, we’re not dating… W-we’re only encouraging each other… Sh-sharing…”
“You don’t like her?” Xie Meng finally managed to pick out all the garlic. Picking the noodles up, he blew at them gently. “Everyday, other than asking me about your homework, everything else you talk about has to do with Rourou… How did the two of you know each other?”
The blush on Zhang Ganggang’s face had yet to fade, and he looked both awkward and shy. “We met in a study group…”
“…” Xie Meng did not understand what a study group was…
“It, it’s a group of good students discussing homework and their studies…” Zhang Ganggang was a little embarrassed. “I, I sneaked into S High’s study group.”
Xie Meng opened his mouth. “… Copying each other’s answers?”
“Of course not!” Zhang Ganggang was alarmed, and retorted righteously. “Rourou is very smart! The questions they talk about are all very difficult, and they’re all very serious and enthusiastic during the discussion!”
Xie Meng could not imagine that the image was as beautiful as Zhang Ganggang described. After a moment of thought, he asked, “Do they know you’re from W High?”
“They don’t know…” Zhang Ganggang became desolated. “I’m too embarrassed to mention it. The topics they discuss are all very difficult, I don’t understand any… Once I accidentally asked about something I didn’t know, and Rourou was the only one who answered me.”
Xie Meng remained silent. He patted Zhang Ganggang’s arm before saying, “You’re fine. Not understanding the topic is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s their problem if they ignore you.”
Zhang Ganggang smiled. “That was what Rourou said as well.”
Xie Meng nodded. “She must be outstanding.”
Zhang Ganggang blushed again, giggling as though he was the one complimented.
“You’re very outstanding too.” Zhang Ganggang poked Xie Meng’s arm gently. “I’m sure you understand all the topics that they’re discussing too. It’s just that you’re not in S High, it’s no big deal?”
Xie Meng laughed in spite of himself. He poked Zhang Ganggang back. “There are only two things in this world that’s fair. One is knowledge and the other is time. Once you get that, it doesn’t matter which school you’re in.”
His mouth stuffed with noodles, Zhang Ganggang raised his thumb at him with a worshipful look.
“Yes.” Taking his time, Xie Meng finished up his last mouthful of the mutton soup. “But I wasn’t the one who said that statement.”
- 学霸 – curve wrecker. Those classmates whose grades are always so good that they wreck the bell curve for the rest of us. Getting graded according to the bell curve is the worst! *Bows to Bell Curve God*