The two sat in silence for a while.
Shen Jie was a heavy smoker and wanted to light up another cigarette, but He Chao couldn't stand the smell. After all, he was still trying to quit smoking. He pointed to the door and said, "If you want to smoke, go outside. Get out."
Shen Jie complained, "You don't smoke, but you're restricting my freedom..."
He Chao threw a pillow at him in response.
Shen Jie quickly dodged it.
As they spoke, He Chao's phone suddenly lit up with a message notification sound. After a few seconds, the screen went dark again.
He Chao picked up his phone and saw that it was a message from Xie Yu with six words and a punctuation mark.
-"The head is in this afternoon."
"Who is it?" Shen Jie asked, leaning in.
He Chao typed with his head down and said, "A cold-blooded killer."
Shen Jie didn't have a strong impression of Xie Yu. It wasn't until Xie Yu became He Chao's desk mate that he started to have more contact with him.
The first time he saw Xie Yu, he thought this person was incredibly good-looking but not easy to get along with. In fact...after getting to know him, it was indeed the case.
However, his Brother Chao was an exception.
"Heartless, that's only towards you," He Chao replied, and confidently showed Shen Jie his phone screen. "See, my desk mate is warm like spring towards me."
Shen Jie felt that this matter should not be as warm as He Chao thought it was.
After all, he had just seen Xie Yu tear off a page and write a few big characters before throwing it onto He Chao's desk in annoyance when he left Class 3. It was probably because too many people had come to ask about He Chao's whereabouts in the morning, and the paper was scribbled with a perfunctory message: Not here, skipped class, don't know.
Shen Jie had never seen someone so boldly declare their classmate's truancy before.
The truth behind this incident was not as warm and fuzzy as it seemed.
Normally, when a head came to observe a class, they would give advance notice and even choose a specific class to ensure that the teacher had prepared for every question and answer. But this time, the situation was sudden, and Xu Xia had to urgently call back and ask Teacher Wang in the next class to help watch over the class. She couldn't afford to have anyone missing.
Teacher Wang went to Class 3 and looked around. He hesitated for a long time next to He Chao's desk, and finally asked Xie Yu to help contact him. If he really couldn't be reached, then they would just say he fell sick.
With less than ten minutes left before the afternoon class, He Chao finished getting dressed and headed out. Halfway there, he noticed that Shen Jie was still lost in thought and said, "What are you standing there for? Go to class."
Shen Jie let out a sigh and stopped at the door. He scratched his head and asked, "...What should we do about this? We can't mention Liu Yuan, so how do we handle this?"
The topic circled back again.
He Chao put his hands in his pockets and said, "Let's talk about it later."
Sure enough, the matter of Yang Wenyuan returned to the center of the conversation not long after.
First, Xu Xia took Yang Wenyuan to the school to demand that the matter not be left unresolved. Later, even Yang Wenyuan's parents came to the school, insisting that the school give an explanation.
"My son's face, arms, just look at them, it's a tragedy. How could there be such a person in your school?"
Yang Wenyuan's parents wore glasses and looked like intellectuals, but their words were forceful. "I heard that this He Chao in your school is always causing trouble. It's not surprising that he would hit our child. How come there's still no way to discipline him? How does your school handle things?"
As He Chao's homeroom teacher, Xu Xia stood by with a solemn face. "We do bear a great responsibility for this matter. I will educate him well. Here, I sincerely apologize to you. It was my student's fault..."
Hearing this, He Chao couldn't bear it any longer.
"Educate?" He Chao laughed in anger. "Are you qualified to educate others?"
"How can you talk to a teacher like that?"
The situation was at a stalemate, but at that critical moment, a witness appeared.
Liu Cunhao knocked on the door and entered. "Teacher Xu, did you need me?"
After returning from the disciplinary office, Liu Cunhao was surrounded by his classmates. "Class representative, we heard you testified in court?"
"Did you really see He Chao hit Yang Wenyuan with your own eyes?"
Liu Cunhao corrected them, "It was in the past, I saw it before."
"Wow, what a hero."
Everyone was talking at once, saying that they wouldn't dare to risk their lives to stand up for themselves.
"I humbly accept your praise," Liu Cunhao said. "I hesitated for a long time, but for the sake of love and justice..."
Xie Yu didn't like to comment on these things, as they had nothing to do with him.
After all, what the eyes see may not necessarily be the truth, especially when it comes to hearsay.
Back when he was hiding from debt collectors and ended up on Blackwater Street, he thought it was full of thugs and ruffians. But there was nowhere else to go. On the first day there, Xu Yanmei, covered in tattoos and foul-mouthed, came over with a bowl of dumplings and said, "I made some extra. The cooking isn't great, but you guys can make do."
That act of kindness had continued for nearly a decade.
"So, what happened in the end? What's the situation now?"
"...He might have to drop out of school. This situation is pretty serious," Liu Cunhao replied.
The class was abuzz with chatter, but Xie Yu continued to hunch over his phone.
After half a day, He Chao was finally released from the disciplinary office and entered the classroom. Liu Cunhao was at the front of the room solving a math problem when he caught sight of He Chao's figure and the chalk in his hand broke in half.
Surprisingly, He Chao didn't even glance at him.
Liu Cunhao secretly breathed a sigh of relief.
Xie Yu was a bit skeptical that the matter was as serious as dropping out. Was it real or fake? Because after He Chao came back, he had the leisure to continue playing his dress-up game.
Compared to He Chao, Shen Jie had a bigger reaction and seemed more like the one who was going to drop out: "Damn it, where did your class representative appear from?"
"What are you shouting about? The young man is quite good," He Chao said, "Don't blame him for this."
Shen Jie exclaimed, "So what's the situation now? They let you come back just to force you to apologize and write a self-criticism? Is Xu Xia really that stubborn? Does her career really depend on your damn self-criticism?"
During gym class, the two classes coincidentally had the same period and the two of them walked across the soccer field towards the bleachers.
Shen Jie rambled on and He Chao wasn't sure if he was even listening. He saw Xie Yu sitting under the shade of a tree in front and waved to greet him.
As Xie Yu heard someone calling him, he looked up and a ball from the basketball court behind him hit him directly on the head: "..."
A boy walked out from the basketball court and apologized, "Sorry, my hand slipped."
Shen Jie saw the boy's face and instantly exploded, "Yang Wenyuan, you did that on purpose, didn't you?"
The angle was clearly aimed at He Chao, and he even missed.
He Chao didn't say anything, he just bent down to pick up the ball, walked over to Xie Yu's side, and then with a fierce swing of his arm, he aimed at Yang Wenyuan. The ball grazed past Yang Wenyuan's side and hit the iron fence with a loud bang. He Chao smiled and retorted with three words, "My hand slipped."
Yang Wenyuan's friends came over to smooth things over and pulled him away, apologizing profusely.
But Yang Wenyuan stood there, refusing to budge. He was thin and his clothes seemed to be held up by his bones. His face was covered in acne and dark circles, making him look particularly weak. Finally, he managed to choke out, "He Chao, this isn't over. You've already lost."
He Chao replied, "Stop talking nonsense and get lost."
"Do you know why?" Yang Wenyuan smiled. "Because your grades are poor."
"You fucker," the three words about his poor grades seemed to hit a nerve in He Chao. Or perhaps, after accumulating emotions for days, he finally found an outlet to release them. He slowly walked forward and hoarsely said, "Can't you understand human language?"
He Chao rarely got angry.
Shen Jie had known him for so many years and had only seen him lose his temper a few times. He had a mentality that was so good it could explode. From a certain perspective, Yang Wenyuan was truly talented.
"Let's go, Wenyuan, let's go." Yang Wenyuan wanted to die, but his group of companions didn't want to. They quickly pulled him away.
Although Shen Jie really wanted to roll up his sleeves and go straight to fight, he considered the special situation of He Chao now. If they caused any trouble, those rumors would become true.
"Brother Chao, calm down - you must calm down. If we want to beat him up, let's find a deserted alley on a dark night and put a sack over his head."
When Yang Wenyuan disappeared from sight, Shen Jie finally let go.
"That was Yang Wenyuan?"
"Huh?" Shen Jie turned around and saw the cold-blooded killer standing next to him. He casually replied, "Oh, Yang Sanhao, it's him."
Xie Yu had been trying to recall where he had seen the face before. When he finally remembered and associated the name with the face, he said expressionlessly, "Ah, isn't he the idiot who sexually harassed girls?"
He Chao: "..."
Shen Jie: "...How do you know?!"
"Brother, let's chat a little?" Shen Jie regained his senses from the huge impact. "How did you know about this? Do you know Liu Yuan? Damn, I always thought only Brother Chao and I knew about it in the whole school."
Xie Yu only said three words: "I saw it."
That was back in their first year.
The signal in the west building was always not very good. Usually, if anyone wanted to play with their phone, they had to rely on fate and chance, or wander around looking for a signal.
At that time, Zhou Dalei was doing a game live stream. His career had just started and he didn't have many viewers. He urged Xie Yu to watch on time and contribute some clicks. Xie Yu found a signal in the bathroom, where the signal was good, but the environment was a bit unbearable.
"Thank you, Boss Xie. I believe your love for me can overcome any piss or shit," said Dalei while playing games. "Really, it's time to show how much you love me."
Love my ass. Fuck.
After giving Dalei some gifts, Xie Yu wanted to leave. However, Dalei was a talkative person and insisted on chatting with him. He said that without audience interaction, he felt lonely and needed Xie Yu to liven up the atmosphere.
Their conversation lasted until the end of evening self-study.
Dalei: "You're just leaving like this after giving gifts to your favorite streamer? Am I that unpopular? I'm so cold."
Xie Yu was typing a message: Go be lonely by yourself. I'm leaving.
Before he could send it, the bathroom door suddenly slammed open with a loud bang. Then there was shoving and a faint girl's voice crying out.