"Those who failed the test, come to my office on your own time."
The English teacher had just finished her class in the neighboring second grade and brought the corrected test papers for the third grade while passing by. After reminding them at the door, she added, "He Chao, you're capable enough. You do the test just like you're doing exercises. If you can't do it, you'll just wait for the next one, and finally you hand in a blank paper at the end?"
Xie Yu couldn't help but chuckle and lowered his head.
He Chao casually put his arm around his desk mate's shoulder and leaned in, "You heartless guy, I asked you to take a look for me and you didn't..."
Xie Yu retorted, "It's not that hard. Just open the book and copy it directly."
He Chao was speechless.
During the dictation class, Xie Yu hesitated for a moment, feeling that he couldn't break through to that level, so he honestly copied the words and carefully controlled his accuracy to 60%.
He Chao flipped through a book and caught a glimpse of Xie Yu, starting to have ideas about his desk mate: "You can actually write half of it?"
Xie Yu had no expression on his face: "Are you surprised?"
The English teacher continued: "...the rest will be handed out by Xu Qingqing to see where you went wrong. Tonight's homework is a unit test paper, do it carefully. Next week is the monthly exam, don't embarrass our class by getting such low scores then."
He Chao didn't pay attention to what the teacher said, he just heard Xie Yu suddenly say: "Look to your right."
"Look at what?" He Chao turned his head in confusion, "There's nothing there..."
His words were interrupted halfway through.
It was Wan Da and Liu Cunhao.
These two were staring at them with an extremely complicated expression.
He Chao could practically see an 800-word essay that automatically scrolled on their faces: "I thought you were the king of cheating, but you secretly handed in a blank paper."
Their gaze was so intense that it felt like they could see right through him.
He calmly averted his gaze, pretending not to have seen anything, and turned to ask Xie Yu, "What do you want to eat tonight?"
They could slip out and have a meal during the gap when the school gate was open in the evening.
Although those staying in the dormitories were not allowed to leave the school gate at will, during the rush hour after school, even the Mad Dog could not control them.
The cafeteria had mediocre food and the cooking skills were nothing to write home about. It was normal for the chef to accidentally put too much salt in the dishes, and the soup was so bland that there were only a few pieces of winter melon in the big pot of pork rib soup.
"I had Shen Jie save a spot for us at Jin Bang*, shall we go together after class?" He Chao said.
*T/N: Literally translates to Golden List, which lists the top scorers.
"Jin Bang?" Xie Yu asked.
He Chao assumed that Xie Yu agreed and replied to Shen Jie, Reserve one more spot, my desk mate will come too.
Xie Yu didn't even have time to refuse.
He was picky about his food, but rarely ate outside of school.
Within a 500-meter radius of No. 2 High School, there were over a dozen small restaurants competing fiercely for customers. However, they didn't offer any discounts or promotions. Starting from Jin Bang Restaurant, the entire street's food industry was swept up in a wave of rebranding.
At the top of the list is Top Scorer Building, followed by Beijing University Dumplings and Tsinghua University Bun Shop. Even the roadside food carts, which could be chased away by urban management at any time, are called "985* Barbecue".
*T/N: Project to promote the higher education system in China.
Standing at the school gate and looking over, it's simply shocking.
Jin Bang Restaurant is located at the end of the street, the farthest from the school, but it's also the quietest.
Shen Jie picked a table for four and sat down, looking at the menu while waiting for his companions.
The menu mainly consists of home-style dishes. Shen Jie chose a few dishes that he usually orders and then took out his phone to ask He Chao: I'm ordering the dishes know, what does your Old Master Yu like to eat? Any dietary restrictions?
He Chao remembered the incident with sweet soy milk and unsweetened soy milk last time and felt that if he asked about dietary restrictions, Xie Yu could probably talk about it for three days and three nights.
- He doesn't eat cilantro, scallions, or garlic. He doesn't like greasy food, and it can't be too sweet. It's best not to have chili peppers.
Shen Jie looked at the message from He Chao and fell into deep thought. He carefully flipped through the menu, feeling for the first time the weight of the task on his shoulders. "Boss, can you make this spicy chicken dish without the spice? And use less oil, and no scallions."
After saying this, he felt like the dish had lost its dignity.
"...Wait a minute, let me look at it again," he said.
Shen Jie was getting a headache from looking at the menu. He messaged He Chao: Is it really so troublesome, you guys are making it difficult for me.
He Chao: You should be grateful. This is only the part I can remember.
The Jin Bang Restaurant had been open for many years and the decor looked a bit old-fashioned. A creaky ceiling fan hung from the ceiling.
When Xie Yu walked to the door, he saw a small banner hanging on the door with three words inlaid with gold: "Jin Bang Title".
Inside, there were already people eating at the table. They didn't look like they were from No. 2. That guy with the yellow messy hair would have been easily taken down by Head Teacher Jiang with just his bare hands.
"Over here," Shen Jie stood up and waved.
He Chao pushed the door open, and a string of bells on the door jingled with the movement.
At the next table, a few guys with yellow hair were drinking. When they saw someone come in, they raised their glasses to their lips, gave them a sideways glance, and then slowly tilted their heads back to down their drinks.
One of them had a prominent tattoo of a snake with bared fangs and claws that wound up to his collar.
"Sit down," Shen Jie invited, "Want to have some beer?"
The legendary bosses of the west and east building were sitting together, it was definitely an occasion to celebrate with drinks. Shen Jie could already imagine the scene in his mind: they would eat dishes, drink beer, and reminisce about the years when they were the bosses.
Then he heard Xie Yu say two words: "Mineral water."
He Chao closed the menu and said two words: "Watermelon juice."
Shen Jie: "..."
Shen Jie was a person who talked a lot of nonsense. In contrast with him, He Chao even appeared a bit aloof. Xie Yu felt like they were two people who could do a comedy skit together.
"Our class teacher runs a tutoring class privately. I don't know who reported it, but it got sent to the Education Bureau..."
Shen Jie was getting into it when someone walked over, probably drunk, and stumbled into their table, hitting Shen Jie: "Sorry, sorry, I'm a bit dizzy."
The person apologized and stumbled towards the restroom on the right.
He Chao suddenly put down his chopsticks: "Wait."
The person's footsteps paused.
He Chao stood up and walked slowly towards the person, his expression turning cold. "What's the matter with you?" he asked.
"It's nothing, Brother Chao. It's just a little bump," Shen Jie tried to calm him down. "...How did you become so hot-headed from drinking watermelon juice."
Xie Yu looked up and saw the person with a snake tattoo on his neck put down his glass and signal to the people around him.
"You idiot, you're the one who made me angry. Check your pockets and see if anything's missing," He Chao said.
Shen Jie was stunned for a few seconds before realizing what had happened. He fumbled in his pockets and said, "My wallet is gone..."
Xie Yu finished the last bite of rice in his bowl and picked up some vegetables with his chopsticks.
"You're quite skilled at these little tricks, aren't you?" He Chao said, rolling up his sleeve to reveal his wrist.
He approached the man and reached into his pocket, feeling a soft leather object. The man instinctively tried to stop him from taking it out, but He Chao said, "I'm only going to fucking say this once, let go."
"Bro, it's a misunderstanding," said the yellow-haired man with the snake tattoo on his body, his words laced with a hint of threat, implying that he was giving He Chao a way out and to just forget about it.
He Chao laughed and taunted, "You might have misunderstood the meaning of the word 'misunderstanding'."
The man with the snake tattoo on his neck dropped his chopsticks, stood up with his brothers, and with seven or eight yellow-haired heads, they formed a formidable formation.
Shen Jie looked at the number of people on his side and wanted to tell He Chao, forget it, he only had ten yuan in his wallet...
He Chao didn't even want to bother with these few people, but he still had to show his dominance. He shouted at Xie Yu, "Old Xie, come here!"
The atmosphere was tense, and a fierce battle was about to break out.
Shen Jie appeared strong on the outside but was weak on the inside. Others thought he was a tough guy because he hung out with He Chao all day, but in reality, he wasn't good at fighting, and He Chao didn't expect much from him.
However, Xie Yu who he had high expectations of was still picking fish bones. He held his chopsticks and carefully picked out each bone one by one, saying, "You guys go ahead and fight. I'll finish eating first."
Shen Jie: "..."
He Chao: "..."
Xie Yu was in a good mood today and didn't want to kill anyone, but he couldn't resist the idiots who came to offer their heads.
"Why, looking down on us?" Yellow-hair walked up to their table and directly flipped the plate of fish, then kicked the table without knocking it over. He went on to step on the fish on the ground and said, "Eat! I'll let you eat. Kneel down and lick it up."
Xie Yu: "..."
"At least leave me some."
After leaving the Jin Bang Restaurant, He Chao was still complaining about how bad the experience of fighting with Xie Yu was. "Who fights like you? You were just trying to steal the kill. I was fighting well, but you had to drag the person away."
Xie Yu said, "You were too slow. Is that even considered fighting?"
The three of them squatted by the roadside. Shen Jie took out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and lit one to calm down.
The scene of the slaughterhouse just now was too shocking.
He adjusted the list of people he absolutely couldn't mess with in his mind and decided to put Xie Yu in front of the Mad Dog.
He Chao was a bully who enjoyed humiliating and torturing his victims slowly, both physically and verbally. He would taunt and provoke them until they begged for a quick and painless end.
But Xie Yu was different. He didn't waste any time and took down his opponents with deadly precision, as easily as chopping cabbage.
He Chao turned to Shen Jie and said, "Check your wallet, did you lose any money?"
Shen Jie took out his wallet from his pocket and opened it to show them, "It's all there, nothing's missing."
Just a ten yuan bill.
He Chao felt like he had wasted so much effort for just this little amount of money. "If it's just this bit, you should have said so earlier. If it's stolen then let it be."
Xie Yu also said, "Just ten fucking bucks?"
Shen Jie replied, "I also wanted to say it, but there wasn't a chance to!"
After chatting for a while, Shen Jie checked the time and realized he had to catch the bus home. He bid farewell to the two and headed towards the bus station. "Thank you brothers for helping me out and saving my ten yuan. See you tomorrow, or else my mom will beat my butt until it's blooming."
The sky had already turned dark, and the streetlights were lighting up one by one.
It was already past curfew, and the school gates were tightly shut.
If they wanted to get back in, they would have to climb over the wall.
He Chao patted his clothes and stood up. "Let's go."
As they walked, it was unclear who burst out laughing first, and then the two of them suddenly burst into laughter, unable to stop.
He Chao hooked his arm around Xie Yu's neck and whispered, "Damn it, just ten yuan."