Holding half a cigarette in his hand, the smell of smoke surrounded He Chao. He felt like he had been caught doing something bad and was at a loss for words before finally asking, "You're not obedient...Haven't you slept yet?"
Perhaps because he had just finished smoking, He Chao's voice sounded hoarse and low, even the end of his sentences trailed off.
After speaking, he released his grip and the cigarette fell to the ground. He didn't know what else to say.
This was the first time Xie Yu had seen He Chao like this, or perhaps it was the first time he had seen this side of He Chao.
When he met He Chao, the big fool had already started quitting smoking, chewing on candy and holding a stick in his mouth all day. Xie Yu smelled the scent of nicotine in the air and suddenly wondered what the notorious East Building boss looked like in his first year of high school.
Was he like this?
He exuded a suppressed aura, but looked very dominant, even with a hint of hostility. He seemed a bit tired and had a bad temper.
"I'll go to the bathroom first," Xie Yu used He Chao's previous joke, but it was an upgraded version. He turned around and said, "You motherfucker, stay here and don't wander around."
He Chao exclaimed softly, and only remembered after Xie Yu walked past him, "Why are you going to the bathroom here?"
At No. 2 High School, the accommodation conditions were famously good, with air conditioning and private bathrooms, and spacious dormitory space.
Xie Yu's voice came from a distance, "The water pipe is leaking, I reported it."
He Chao sat on the steps without moving.
He actually went to bed early, took a shower and lay down, but had a nightmare and woke up drenched in sweat. Then, on this crisp autumn day, he tossed and turned and couldn't fall asleep.
Repeatedly in his ears, all he could hear was the moment when Lei Jun suddenly approached him in the restaurant, leaned in close to his ear and said, "He Chao, you caused Er Lei to end up like this, why don't you just die?"
Even in his dream, it felt like an invisible hand was choking him, suffocating him, and he couldn't say a word.
He Chao lowered his head, playing with the lighter in his hand, and with a "click," a small flame burst out.
As he released his grip, the spot where his thumb had been pressing gradually grew hot, the burning sensation creeping up from his fingertips.
Lei Jun, now known as "Trash Brother," was a fourth-year student at the Tech school, having repeated a year along the way. He couldn't be called a school bully, but by this grade, all the previous "big brothers" in the school had pretty much moved on, leaving the burden on his shoulders.
Although they now treated each other like enemies every time they met, they...used to be good buddies.
In middle school, He Chao had a lot of friends and knew a lot of people, but he didn't really have many close friends. One day, he ran into Lei Jun at a convenience store. Lei Jun had just broken up with his girlfriend and was drinking a bottle of Coke like it was alcohol, with another boy by his side constantly comforting him: "Women come and go, but I'm still here for you."
Lei Jun said, "Er Lei, do you like me? But I don't like men."
And that's how they got to know each other.
Lei Jun and Fang Xiaolei were basically left to their own devices by their teachers due to their poor grades. As long as they didn't affect the learning of other students, the teachers turned a blind eye to them.
On the other hand, He Chao was once the hope of the entire village, seen as a future outstanding alumni.
This outstanding alumni played with two underachievers, causing all the subject teachers and especially the homeroom teacher to worry: "Don't associate with them, you're different from them."
As middle school kids, how bad could they be? They haven't even started mingling in society yet, they just had poor grades.
Every time He Chao would say, "Teacher, let me give you an example. If I were to turn bad, it wouldn't be anyone else's fault...it would be my own problem. Besides, I'm doing well now, can you not be biased against other students?"
As He Chao was lost in thought, he suddenly lay back and crossed his hands, using them as a pillow for his neck.
He was only wearing thin clothing, and as he lay down, he felt a chill seeping through the fabric and into his back.
Not long after He Chao had lain down, Xie Yu washed his hands and walked up the steps to sit beside him. "Do you still have any candy left?" he asked.
He Chao thought he wanted some for himself. "I think there's still one in my pocket, you can look for it."
Seeing that this guy had no intention of moving, Xie Yu reached out to search for it. "Which side?" he asked.
"Probably on the left," He Chao replied.
He was only wearing a short-sleeved shirt, clearly without pockets. Xie Yu's hand reached halfway and then paused.
In fact, He Chao had also mixed up his memories. He thought he had stuffed a handful of candy into his pocket when he put on his "Love and Peace" hoodie before leaving in the morning. It wasn't until Xie Yu's hand touched his thigh through the fabric that he suddenly snapped out of it.
He was wearing a pair of low-waist, black, ripped jeans.
Xie Yu lowered his head and searched his pockets for a while, but found nothing. He did notice, however, that the person next to him was getting increasingly tense.
He Chao couldn't lie down anymore. He sat up and instinctively grabbed Xie Yu's wrist. The warmth of the boy's skin and the protruding bone at his wrist pressed against his palm.
He cursed silently in his heart: Fuck.
"I remembered wrong," He Chao said, "There's no candy here, it's in the dorm. If you want it, I can..."
As He Chao was still talking, he suddenly got up, scrambling to his feet with his hands on the ground. He took three steps and two strides down the stairs, skipping the last few steps and jumping down. His clothes fluttered in the wind, making him look like he was flying.
Xie Yu sat on the stairs, thinking to himself that this guy had gone crazy again.
After a few minutes, He Chao came back holding a large iron can. It was much bigger than the candy jar he had seen on his desk in the dormitory before. He probably brought all his private stash with him.
There were all kinds of flavors inside.
He Chao opened the lid and handed it to Xie Yu, saying, "Here." It's all yours.
Xie Yu took it and held it on his lap, carefully picking through the candies for a while. Finally, he found a strawberry-flavored lollipop at the bottom.
He Chao watched as his cool little friend opened the candy wrapper, and then suddenly heard Xie Yu utter a word, dragging it out with a tone: "Ah."
He Chao asked, "Ah?"
It was just a monosyllabic word, and before He Chao could even open his mouth, Xie Yu stuffed the candy into it, fast and accurate. The taste of sweetness that made one feel nauseous instantly spread on his tongue, dispelling the bitter taste of tobacco that had just lingered.
"Eat it, little friend," Xie Yu seemed quite pleased with himself for being able to hit back with the title of 'little friend', his mouth slightly curved, but his tone was still habitually cold, "Remember to brush your teeth after eating."
He Chao was stunned, and only reacted when he heard the words "brush your teeth", holding the candy in his mouth and saying, "You...".
He Chao stopped halfway through his sentence and didn't say anything else, "Forget it, I'll let you off this time."
The motion sensor light that had lit up again when He Chao returned suddenly went out. After a while, Xie Yu asked, "That trash, your old friend?"
"Trash Brother? His name is Lei Jun," He Chao said. "We were middle school classmates. He's not a bad person, but we...have some history."
He could tell.
He thought to himself that even they really were just some roadside idiots, they wouldn't be so easy to get rid of. They fought fairly and then dispersed.
He had seen plenty of idiots on Blackwater Street, all of whom were like dog skin plasters that wouldn't come off even if you just called someone to beat them up.
Either they were more ruthless than him, or they were even more foolish than him. As if he would be scared of them.
Xie Yu didn't ask any further, and He Chao didn't know what to say.
'I'm actually a super genius, my grades are actually not really bad.' If he say this, he would probably be beaten to death.
As He Chao thought about it, a few sentences began to swirl in his ears as if by magic.
"He Chao, the teacher will handle this matter, you focus on preparing for the exams and bring glory to the school."
The face of the homeroom teacher was a bit blurry, but the corners of her mouth were clearly smiling: "I understand you, I know you're a good kid, this is just an accident, and you didn't mean to...don't think too much about it."
He Chao slowly closed his eyes, then opened them again to find that Xie Yu had already stood up and was preparing to go back to the dorm to sleep.
He Chao didn't know what he was thinking, he grabbed Xie Yu's clothes corner and wanted to reach out and pull him, but as soon as his hand touched the soft fabric, he realized what he was doing and let go.
Xie Yu's foot slipped off the edge of the step as he was pulled by this person. He couldn't keep his balance and fell down, managing to blurt out, "...He Chao, are you crazy?" before he hit the ground.
The next day, Luo Wenqiang was cheering on the remaining athletes who hadn't competed yet. He even predicted that their class would take first and second place in the men's 3000-meter race, making them one of the best in the year.
"Our class is solid this time. Even though our academic scores are at the bottom, our physical education scores are awesome! With Brother Chao and Brother Yu, our two long-distance runners..."
Luo Wenqiang was interrupted by the sight of He Chao and Xie Yu entering through the back door.
"...These two, uh, our long-distance runners," Luo Wenqiang choked up, "what happened to you guys?"
Xie Yu had a bandage on his ankle and his pants were rolled up as he leaned against He Chao. He pointed to the person next to him and said, "Ask him."
"I really didn't mean to," He Chao carefully held onto Xie Yu's waist and said, "Does it hurt? Should we go to the infirmary again? Or do you want to go back to the dorm?"
"I want you to shut up," Xie Yu said.
So now the long-distance running event was left with only He Chao.
While carrying chairs downstairs, Luo Wenqiang kept muttering, "I shouldn't have joked about him being the hope of the whole village. Now he really is the only hope of the whole village."
He Chao held two chairs in his hands and would have to come back later to pick up his little friend.
Luo Wenqiang said again, "Brother Chao, you tell me, can I trust you?"
"First place, it's no problem," said He Chao as he put down his chair after arriving at the venue. "Qiang Qiang, don't worry, I'm not fighting alone. I'm carrying the soul of my desk mate on my back."
"There are still several events left today, including the long jump finals, 100-meter finals, men's 3,000-meter run, 4x100-meter relay race, team events, tug-of-war...and finally, a 400-meter race for all the teachers," Head Teacher Jiang began to motivate everyone. "Watching everyone running on the playground, I feel very pleased. This is the appearance that young people should have! Come on, athletes!"
Xie Yu sat in his seat, looking down at his phone. On his head was draped a big coat that He Chao had forcibly put on him, claiming it was to block the sun.
The 3,000-meter race has always been the highlight, and the longest event. Before heading to the flag-raising platform, He Chao was particularly confident: "You guys can think about it, when our class takes first place later, what kind of award-winning speech should we give?"
Wan Da applauded: "First place is reserved."
Liu Cunhao said, "Awesome, it's up to you, Brother Chao."
Xie Yu kicked him with the foot that wasn't injured and said, "Stop talking nonsense, hurry up and go."
After He Chao left, the numbers 4286 on his back shone brightly in the sunlight.
After He Chao left, Luo Wenqiang and the others gathered together to discuss writing a broadcast message to cheer on the only long-distance runner in Class 3. Several heads huddled together to discuss for a long time, and Wan Da turned to Xie Yu and said, "Brother Yu, can you help us take a look and see if this is okay?"
Xie Yu reached out and took the paper, only to realize that it was not a pep talk broadcast, but the award acceptance speech that He Chao wanted.
On it was Liu Cunhao's crooked and twisted handwriting.
- Victory belongs to Brother Chao, belongs to Class 3. Thank you to the other long-distance runners for participating. It's a pity and also regrettable that you are destined to be the silent supporting actors in this play.
Liu Cunhao blinked and asked, "How is it! Isn't it very talented?"
"Completely shameless. After the sports meet, you might still get beaten up with a sack," Xie Yu paused and added. "But, your Brother Chao will definitely like it."