The two classmates sitting in front of them wordlessly pulled their chairs forward, making a soft dragging sound. They kept going until their chests were pressed tightly against the edge of the table, almost suffocating themselves, just to create some distance from the two big shots behind them.
"Why go so far, I just touched a little," said He Chao.
"Get the hell out of here," Xie Yu replied.
He Chao didn't respond and diretly reached out his hand in front of Xie Yu.
Xie Yu glanced at him and thought of his earlier words, 'I'm quite interested in him.'
"Want to fight?" he asked.
"Go ahead, I'll let you touch me back."
Xie Yu: "..."
The last student to introduce themselves stepped down from the stage. Xu Xia cleared his throat, hinting at these two classmates to follow classroom rules. "Today's class meeting ends here. Students staying in the dormitories must abide by the school's rules and regulations. I don't want to spend time dealing with anything outside of your studies after class. You should know better."
The class schedule was handed out with the notice, and Xu Xia continued, "Liu Cunhao, you will be the temporary class representative for the next few days. You have experience."
Liu Cunhao's heart was as dead as ash, "...Ah, okay."
"Hey, what's the deal with your nail polish?" It didn't take two minutes for He Chao to start asking questions again.
Xie Yu found this person really annoying.
That incident with the black nail polish.
Xie Yu never thought it would add such a bold and dramatic stroke to his resume.
About half a year ago, there was a dance competition held on Blackwater Street.
The neighborhood committee hung banners on the street, calling for everyone to sign up and promoting the unprecedented grandeur of the event. However, from the slogans, it was clear that the competition was not aimed at teenagers, as it read: "Regain your youth, rediscover the confidence of your youth!"
At that time, Da Mei had just received his US visa and would soon have to leave. Before leaving, he insisted on dragging them to sign up for the competition.
Zhou Dalei didn't know how to dance and refused on the spot: "I don't want to, it's too embarrassing. What are you thinking - competing with a group of neighborhood committee aunties? Are you crazy?"
Xie Yu also said, "Da Mei, there's no way we'll do this."
Not to mention those neighborhood committee aunties, even Xu Yanmei and Mother Lei had already prepared for this dance competition early on.
Xie Yu was pulled by Aunt Mei to the square to watch their enchanting fan dance, with green fans that sparkled in the light.
It was said that when Mother Lei was young, she was the most beautiful girl in the surrounding ten miles, but now she weighed over 200 pounds. Finally, after they finished dancing, Xie Yu stood in the center of the square, overwhelmed with emotions, and squeezed out three words: "...it's pretty good."
Da Mei was particularly serious this time. They thought it would just be a passing fancy that would last for three minutes, but Da Mei pestered them for three days.
It was unprecedented.
Zhou Dalei pleaded with him earnestly, "Give me a reason, Da Mei. Give me a reason to overcome this shame."
Da Mei sighed, "Brother, I'm about to leave and you're so cruel. You won't even fulfill a small wish of mine?"
Zhou Dalei said, "Why don't you ask me to pluck the stars from the sky for you, little troublemaker?"
Da Mei: "..."
Da Mei looked at Xie Yu, but Xie Yu didn't even want to speak. He just left, saying, "I'm going home for dinner."
In the end, they couldn't resist the little troublemaker.
On a dark night, Da Mei called the two of them out. The three of them braved the cold wind and squatted on the curb. Zhou Dalei wrapped his clothes tightly around him, protecting his hairstyle, but he still looked like an idiot.
"Da Mei, what are you up to? It's late at night," Zhou Dalei felt that sometimes, even brothers needed to be taught a lesson. "Are you looking for a fight?"
Da Mei stood in front of them, facing the wind and all his emotions stirred up. "Actually, I've been secretly in love with a girl, but I'm too afraid to confess to her. As you know, I'll be leaving soon...Long-distance relationships are too difficult, and I don't want to try it. It's impossible for me to have a long-distance relationship in this lifetime. I just want her to remember my cool and handsome figure before I leave."
Xie Yu: "..."
Zhou Dalei was at the age where he yearned for love and romance, or he may have been simply confused by the cold wind at three in the morning. He hesitated for a moment and asked, "Isn't there any other way to show off your cool and handsome figure? Is this the only way?"
In the end, they still went ahead with the competition.
But when the three of them lined up to register, the atmosphere was so awkward that it was suffocating.
"...Hey, old buddy, look at these three young guys."
"These three young men."
Xie Yu and his two companions: "..."
Da Mei had a keen sense of fashion. If time had allowed, he might have designed their performance outfits himself. When he pulled out a bottle of black nail polish, Xie Yu refused, "You call that cool?"
Da Mei replied as he painted his nails, "It's super cool, trust me, Brother Xie. I stayed up all night watching videos, and all the cool guys dance like this."
Thanks to Da Mei's influence, their stage costumes not only broke away from mainstream trends, but also incorporated many strange and unusual elements.
On the day of the competition, Xie Yu skipped class.
In fact, they didn't rehearse properly at all. Xie Yu was awkward in his dancing, while Da Mei's movements were alluring and graceful, but also looked embarrassing. As for Zhou Dalei, he was terrible at dancing but thought he was great.
In the end, the three of them just blindly danced on stage, not remembering their moves. They kept bumping into each other in various ways, each thinking the other was getting in their way.
The next day, Xie Yu remembered that he hadn't removed his nail polish before class.
Zhou Dalei had it even worse. He had a small online gaming competition at an internet cafe, which was quite formal and had a small live audience. That night, tens of thousands of people watched him hold the mouse with his black nail polish and the other five black nails constantly tapping on the keyboard.
None of this really mattered, except for one thing that Xie Yu was concerned about: even after Da Mei left, they still didn't know who that girl was.
Zhou Dalei took a drag of his cigarette and analyzed, "Actually, I have a bold guess. Do you think Da Mei has fallen in love with some middle-aged woman? Maybe someone from our neighborhood committee, but he's too embarrassed to let us judge him with worldly eyes...Damn, this topic is way beyond our scope...But if it's not that, then it doesn't make sense. There were no young girls in the audience."
Xie Yu didn't explain in detail, and He Chao only got the gist of it, nodding, "Oh...it was just for the stage."
His emotions were too obvious in his tone, and Xie Yu said, "You seem quite disappointed."
He Chao replied, "Ah, a little bit."
As soon as Xu Xia announced the end of the meeting, everyone quickly packed up and left.
A group of boys had been standing outside the door of Class 3, laughing and joking for a while. Finally, someone opened the window and leaned out, shouting, "Hey, Brother Chao, let's go play basketball!"
Overall, He Chao was well-liked.
He had a personality that made it easy for him to make friends, even though he was known as a big shot. In his original class in their first year of high school, he had a group of male friends who were all close to him. They often got together to play basketball or go to internet cafes to play games.
Shen Jie was also there. When Xu Xia left, she gave him a cold glance. Shen Jie was about to say, "Let's go play basketball together," but the words that came out of his mouth were quick and awkward: "I won't be playing. I'll just watch you guys. My stomach still hurts a bit."
He Chao seemed to be in a good mood. He sat in his seat, leaned back, and waved to them, saying, "Let's go, we'll meet at the court."
After he finished speaking, he lowered his head and took out a mask from his pocket. Just as he was about to put it on, he paused and asked, "Do you want to play basketball together?"
Xie Yu stood up and walked out without hesitation, "No, thanks."
He Chao shrugged and didn't say anything.
As Xie Yu walked to the door, He Chao suddenly called out his name from behind, "Xie Yu?"
Xie Yu turned around and leaned against the door, his face almost saying "What do you want?" and "You're annoying."
He Chao had already put on his mask, "It's nothing, just getting familiar with my new desk mate's name."
He Chao continued, "Take care of me in the future, desk mate."
In the evening at six o'clock, Gu Xuelan called Xie Yu.
"Have you had dinner? Did you see your teacher and classmates today? How's your desk mate?" Gu Xuelan asked.
Xie Yu used to have a desk mate in his first year, but as his reputation worsened and the teacher took special measures against him, he was made to sit alone. Gu Xuelan heard from someone that he actually got a desk mate in his second year of high school, so she quickly called to ask.
Xie Yu thought to himself: ...Not great.
But to avoid trouble, Xie Yu casually said, "He's okay, outgoing and loves sports, just not great academically."
Gu Xuelan didn't understand why her son, who always ranked last in exams, could so naturally criticize his new desk mate's grades.
She reminded him a few more times to not cause trouble and to study hard. Xie Yu's response was mediocre, with only an "Mm" and nothing else to say.
"I won't say anymore then," Gu Xuelan said. "You should think about it yourself. Mom can't control you anymore, you're almost an adult...Don't be so impulsive anymore."
"Mm, you should rest early," Xie Yu said.
Xie Yu didn't cause any trouble, and instead that cheerful and sporty desk mate of his made a big mistake on the first day of school.
...He went to play basketball and ended up hitting a top-performing student who was always on the honor roll.
Xu Xia came out of the principal's office. She hadn't been scolded like this in a long time. The higher-ups were angry that such a thing happened on the first day of school and asked her how she managed the class and the students. She stood there with her head down, being scolded for a long time.
She didn't know if she was angry or embarrassed, her face turning red and then pale. When she entered the office, she slammed the lesson plan heavily on the table.
The commotion startled the other teachers, who looked up to see Teacher Xu with an extremely pale face. No one dared to ask what had happened.
Just then, Liu Cunhai came over to submit the notice forms that parents had signed. Teacher Xu was so angry that she spoke in a cold, emotionless tone: "Is He Chao in the classroom? Go get him."
Liu Cunhai was actually quite scared. Everyone said that Xie Yu from the West Building was scarier, as he was aloof and kept to himself, and the one from the East Building was more down-to-earth and interesting.
But he was even more afraid of He Chao.
He had seen He Chao get into a fight before.
It was back in their first year. During class, He Chao suddenly had to go to the bathroom due to stomach issues. He raised his hand to ask the teacher for permission, grabbed some tissues, and ran out. When he got there, he saw a "Under Maintenance" sign on the bathroom door.
He was about to go to the next floor to take care of his physiological needs when he heard someone crying and begging for mercy in the bathroom: "I was wrong...don't hit me, I was wrong..."
Liu Cunhao paused and cautiously took a peek inside.
He saw He Chao standing in front of a boy who was kneeling on the ground, holding a cigarette between two fingers.
Although He Chao was dressed in a school uniform, the word "rules" had nothing to do with him. He squinted his eyes and exhaled a puff of smoke. When he didn't smile, he felt cold to the bone and had a kind of suppressed arrogance.
It was completely different from his usual joking and laughing demeanor.
He flicked the cigarette ash and his eyes were full of gloom. Then he squatted down and grabbed the person's hair, forcing him to look up: "You're very brave, huh?"