Winter came early in this country. In November, the sky was already filled with fluffy snowflakes.
Cheng Chu walked into the apartment, holding an umbrella and wrapped in a thick scarf. As she entered, she met Zhou Yanshi.
"Morning, finished with classes?" Zhou Yanshi stepped out of the elevator and saw Cheng Chu.
He stopped to ask.
Cheng Chu nodded. "Yes, just finished. Going home to rest for a bit. There's a concert in the afternoon."
Last year, only three students from Haiyin came to K University for exchange, and Zhou Yanshi was one of them. Coincidentally, he rented an apartment in the same building as Cheng Chu.
At first, Cheng Chu kept her distance from him, but after some time, she realized that Zhou Yanshi treated her no differently than any other classmate.
So, she began to see him as a friend and would chat with him whenever they met. The marble tiles in the apartment were so shiny that they reflected the light, making it almost painful to look at.
"So, how's your group project going?" asked Zhou Yanshi.
Although one played the piano and the other played the violin, they had several classes together this semester.
One of those classes didn't have a final exam, but instead required a group project.
The members were assigned randomly, and Cheng Chu was unlucky enough to be grouped with several foreign students she didn't know at all.
She seemed a bit anxious and spoke faster than usual. "I think it's almost done. At least my part is finished."
Zhou Yanshi said seriously, "It's due next Monday. Let me know if you need any help."
"Okay, thank you," Cheng Chu nodded.
Zhou Yanshi smiled gently and said, "Well, I'll be going now."
He was born with a refined and handsome appearance, and when he smiled, his lips would slightly curl up, making people feel as if they were basking in a warm spring breeze.
Upon returning home, Cheng Chu threw her bag onto the sofa without even bothering to take off her scarf, and rushed to her computer to press the video call button.
The ringing tone echoed through the empty apartment, but before two seconds had passed, it abruptly stopped.
The screen darkened, and the next second, Gu Miao's cold face appeared.
"Chuchu." He called out softly, and a warm expression flowed through his cold eyes and brows.
As Cheng Chu untied his scarf, he said, "Sorry, Miao Ge, I just finished class and made you wait for so long. It must be late at night where you are."
"It's okay." Gu Miao smiled tolerantly. "It's only a little past one, and I'm still working today."
Since graduating last year, Gu Miao has been working at that company. However, there has been some turmoil within the company recently, with several senior core members leaving.
He was one of them, but after weighing the pros and cons, he decided to stay and weather the storm with the company.
Now that the company has recovered, he has been continuously promoted and his annual salary has increased to seven figures.
But it's still not enough.
The night in the coastal city is very quiet and cold. The howling cold wind seeps through the window.
The bedroom is not heated, making the deep winter night more suitable for him to think and work.
The man's black eyes are deep and bottomless, silently watching the girl in the video.
They haven't seen each other for almost a year, but the longing hasn't decreased with time.
Instead, it's like an addictive poison that unconsciously seeps into the bones and blood, even into the muscles and bones, making it impossible to break free.
Cheng Chu pursed her lips and whispered, "Don't stay up late every night. You'll age quickly and won't be handsome anymore."
Gu Miao's fingertips paused, and layers of thick emotions rippled in his black eyes. His lips curved slightly, "I know."
"You should exercise more and not just focus on work every day."
A smile crept up from the corners of his mouth and gradually flowed into his deep, bottomless black eyes. His icy fingertips emitted a warmth that didn't belong to the cold winter.
"Okay." He obediently replied, almost like he would fulfill any request.
"Go out and have fun with your friends, don't stay cooped up at home." The girl's voice was crisp and blended into the cold night wind, creating a strange warmth.
Gu Miao nodded, but couldn't help but say in the end, "You should do the same."
These were clearly the words he should have reminded her of, but the girl had blurted them all out.
He was afraid of being naggy and could only awkwardly respond with a "you too."
As expected, the chatty girl pouted and fell silent.
"I know," she muttered, "I finished the sauce you sent me before."
Gu Miao quickly said, "Then I'll send you more."
"Mm." The girl raised her eyes, and in her sparkling peach blossom eyes, there was a faint longing. "Miao Ge, there's still one year left."
She lowered her head, and the butterfly-like eyelashes were still covered in winter frost. When the heater blew, it melted into water and hung wetly on her lashes.
Gu Miao's throat tightened, and a dull pain spread in his chest, but he still said with difficulty, "It'll be soon."
The long night was cold. They had only exchanged a few words, and it was already two o'clock.
Cheng Chu blinked, her eyes filled with reluctance, but she still mustered the courage to say, "It's already two o'clock, you should go to bed."
Gu Miao lowered his eyes, his hand gripping the edge of his laptop stiffly, but he still managed to force out a soft reply, "Okay, you should rest too. Isn't there a concert in the afternoon?"
"Okay, goodbye, Miao Ge," the girl said softly.
The mouse on the screen hovered over the red "end call" button, and she waited for him to hang up first.
But it seemed that he had the same idea.
Silence filled the room, and neither of them spoke. The cold of the winter night seemed to seep into the room, slowly penetrating their thick sweaters and settling into their bones.
Cheng Chu's heart trembled, her fingers stiffening on the touchpad.
"Miao Ge, I'm hanging up now," she paused, speaking softly. The dark clouds covered the moon in the night sky, plunging everything into darkness.
The computer screen also dimmed accordingly.
Gu Miao had been sitting there for who knows how long, but suddenly remembered the girl's reminder and quickly got up to go to bed.
Life at K university was very fulfilling. As a piano major, there was a music concert held every month, and all the teachers and students in the school could come and watch.
However, very few people were able to perform on stage, and only a few were selected from all the piano majors each time.
The lights were dazzling, and the sound of the piano echoed in the music hall, sometimes high-pitched, sometimes low.
At the end of a piece, the girl on the piano stool slowly stood up.
The music hall in winter was not cold, and the snow-white dress wrapped around the girl's slender figure. The bright lights sprinkled lightly on her body like moonlight on silk, making her skin look as white as snow.
There was a warm round of applause from the audience below. Due to the small number of performers, the concert ended quickly.
Cheng Chu and all the piano majors were asked to stay behind by the professor.
Professor Philip was well-known in the piano world. As a legendary figure, many of today's top pianists were once his students.
The professor was known for his strictness and it was rare for him to give praise. But this time, he turned around with a hint of a smile in his slightly cloudy eyes and said, "Well done, G."
This simple praise drew many envious glances and made Cheng Chu happy for the whole day.
As she left the music hall, a bright full moon hung in the sky.
Cheng Chu braved the wind and snow to return home. The food on the table had long gone cold, and a film had formed on top of the cream of mushroom soup, making it unappetizing to look at.
Cheng Chu poured herself a cup of warm water and sat down at the piano to practice, taking a few sips before lowering her head to begin.
When she first arrived at K University, she had experienced some setbacks.
As a girl who had always been praised and admired, it was the first time she tasted defeat and truly understood the meaning of "there is always someone better."
But none of that could bring her down. She picked herself up after each failure, brushed off the dirt from her wounds, and continued moving forward.
Gradually, she gained the recognition of her professor and even performed in several concerts.
Today, she finally received a compliment from her professor, and all the students understood what that meant. With the approval of this music guru, you gain access to a wider network and higher standards in the music industry.
He never hesitates to give opportunities to students he appreciates.
Cheng Chu understands that she must firmly grasp these opportunities.
This apartment building is located next to K University, so most of the residents are music students. The soundproofing in each room is excellent, so even practicing piano in the middle of the night won't disturb the neighbors.
Two hours of piano practice flew by in a hurry.
The black piano cover slammed shut with a "bang," and only then did Cheng Chu remember the group project that Zhou Yanshi mentioned would be due in one day.
She found her phone on the dining table and opened WhatsApp to send a message in the group chat.
This group includes Cheng Chu and two other foreigners who tend to stick together. Carefully choosing her words, Cheng Chu asked if they had finished their part.
The clock on the wall ticked and tocked, until the cup of warm water on the table had gone cold, and neither of them replied.
She suppressed her anger and thought about the several pieces of music she still needed to familiarize herself with for tomorrow, forcing herself to go to bed.
In the middle of the night, the tightly closed curtains blocked out the moonlight.
Cheng Chu's sleep was always light, and the violent shaking of her bedside table made her frown and open her eyes.
Her phone next to her kept vibrating, with message after message from the other two members of the group.
"Cheng, we don't know how to do the rest of the group's part."
"Yes, Cheng, I have exams for other classes these past few days and don't have time."
"You do the rest of the part." The air conditioning in the room hummed softly, exchanging the air.
But in an instant, the sound seemed to amplify countless times, like a swarm of insects drilling into Cheng Chu's brain. She felt a sharp pain in her temple, and the small spark hidden in her heart was fanned into a raging fire.
Her phone vibrated lightly in her hand, but Cheng Chu didn't even bother to look at the message her friends had sent.
Instead, she replied directly, "That's your part, why should I do it?"
They quickly responded, showing no signs of being busy, "We don't know how, and we don't have time."
"If you don't do it, just turn it in like that. After all, the three of us will fail together," they threatened.
Cheng Chu's friends knew she was an exchange student, and if she failed a course, it would be recorded in her file, which would follow her back to her home country.
She could only swallow her anger. This was Cheng Chu's only solution.
With the heater on, the room was a bit dry. She got up to drink some cold water, and the fire in her heart subsided a little.
The professor had given them half a month to complete this assignment, but she had to finish it all in one night.
She had no materials, no data, nothing at all.
She had never even touched the part that the other two were supposed to do.
In the night, heavy snowflakes fell, and the streetlights quietly tinted the white snow with a warm color.
Cheng Chu sat at her desk, with half a cup of Americano in front of her. But the bitterness seemed to flow into her heart through her throat.
For a moment, she looked at the snow outside the window, and tears almost fell from her eyes.
But crying would only waste time.
So she sniffled, suppressed the sourness, and lowered her head to start working on the assignment for the three of them. A hint of dawn broke the silence on the horizon.
The morning wind was icy, and the windows rattled as the snow blew in.
Cheng Chu's head was already muddled.
She forced herself to submit her homework, then lay in bed with a splitting headache, drifting off into a daze.
She was awakened by the sound of the doorbell.
Her body felt drained of energy, and even lifting her hand seemed to take all her strength. She shuffled slowly to the door, leaning against the wall for support.
Zhou Yanshi was standing at the door, with snow still clinging to his dark hair. When he saw her open the door, he asked anxiously, "What's wrong? Why didn't you go to class today? I messaged you, but you didn't reply."
The snowy day was gloomy, and the white light bulb in the hallway made the girl's face flush.
He felt the heat in her voice and asked urgently, "What's wrong? Do you have a fever?"
Cheng Chu felt a ringing in her ears and the figure in front of her became hazy and indistinct.
She opened her mouth to speak, but before she could say anything, she fell to the ground with a loud "bang" next to the door.
The author has something to say:
Gu Miao: Why do I have so little screen time in this chapter?
This is a transitional chapter, and Meow Meow will appear in the next chapter!!
Translations during sleepless nights. I can sleep when I'm dead! ...Please let me sleep. Happy readers keep me awake, and lots of love and a huge thank you for supporting my hobby!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ypeels.