Only when Zhao Zhanhuai got back to his room did he realize that there were many things belonging to Zhao Yuan in his room. There were two pillows on the couch, and she left a short jacket in his room as well.
Zhao Zhanhuai was experiencing a pounding headache.
In terms of a brother-sister relationship, their actions may be a little too close for comfort in the eyes of a stranger. Yuanyuan didn’t seem to be this reliant on their other family members as well.
Zhao Zhanhuai didn’t think much of this back then. He didn’t think that the current Zhao Yuan had that kind of feelings for him either. But Mingxi’s words were like a police siren for him, making him come to a sudden realization— It didn’t matter if she had that thought or not. He was doing to kill it before it could be born.
There was an urgent need to create a distance between them.
Zhao Zhanhuai put aside his own pain and quickly got the secretary to clean up the things that Zhao Yuan had left in his room. Then, the items were all placed in a cardboard box and returned to Zhao Yuan.
There were a few other items which he didn’t know if they belonged to Zhao Yuan. So long as it was for female use, he would get the secretary to pack them in. Since he kept mostly to himself and has never brought anyone home before, these things could only be Zhao Yuan’s.
While he was tidying up the things, Zhao Zhanhuai gradually noticed an increasing sense of biasness.
He didn’t have a single thing in his room that was related to Mingxi.
If he were to recall carefully, it was likely Mingxi had never entered his room before.
Zhao Zhanhuai’s heart sank even further.
When Zhao Yuan received the cardboard box from the secretary, she felt so wronged that her chest began to heave. She slammed the door with a loud thud, and she never came downstairs even though it was already dinner time.
The auntie knocked on her door twice, but she still kept her head tucked under her blanket, refusing to eat.
It was rare for Zhao Yuan to do this at home. This was because everyone at home spoiled her, and she had never been bullied by anyone.
But whenever it was to a point where she would refuse to eat, her family members would definitely take turns to coax her out.
But today, their mother wasn’t home yet. There was only Zhao Zhanhuai and Zhao Yuning in the house.
Zhao Yuning wasn’t one who could read the room well. He was unkind to anyone he spoke to. He came over, knocked on the door and said, “Yuan jie, are you eating dinner? If you aren’t then at least tell us. Is it worth doing all this just because Auntie Zhang was fired? Da ge said that Auntie Zhang has always treated Mingxi jie poorly. Is Auntie Zhang more important or is Mingxi jie more important?”
Zhao Yuning muttered to himself, “Needless to say, firing 100 Auntie Zhangs would not be as important as Mingxi jie’s return.”
Zhao Yuan’s heart was in great pain.
Zhao Zhanhuai was supposed to ask about her. However, he was adamant on creating a distance between him and Zhao Yuan. Furthermore, for the whole night he couldn’t help but to recall what Mingxi’s ex-homeroom teacher told him this afternoon.
The guilt he felt for Zhao Mingxi was so overwhelming— Back then when Mingxi refused to eat, he had never bothered to coax her. Why did he have to only spoil Yuanyuan?
After a moment’s hesitation, Zhao Zhanhuai said with furrowed brows, “Let her be.”
Even though she waited until it was 10 p.m., no one came to comfort Zhao Yuan.
Zhao Yuan’s eyes were swollen to the size of walnuts. Gradually and finally, as if she had ants in her pants, she panicked.
This was completely unexpected.
Why is this happening?
Around 11 p.m., a bright light coming from a car flashed through her windows, signaling the return of their mother who had just returned from promoting her birthday banquet.
After a while, Zhao Yuan’s door opened. Madam Zhao walked in, sat by the bed and gently lifted up Zhao Yuan’s blanket. She sighed and consoled her, “Yuanyuan, do you have to go to this extent for an Auntie Zhang? It was truly Auntie Zhang’s fault this time. Your brother is still mad about it.”
“If you are truly unwilling to let go of her, after the birthday banquet when Mingxi returns, I’ll get Auntie Zhang to apologize to her and admit her faults. Then I’ll hire Auntie Zhang again.”
Her mother still cared for her.
Zhao Yuan felt greatly relieved. She sat up and sniffled. “Okay…”
But actually, was she really doing all this because of Auntie Zhang? What she truly cared about was her eldest brother and Zhao Yuning’s attitude.
After her mother was done consoling her, she looked out the window at the cold night and couldn’t help but to say, “I wonder how Mingxi is doing in school. She hasn’t been home in a while. I regretted it the moment I scolded her back then, but I had no means of backing down.”
The relieved expression on Zhao Yuan’s face instantly went hard.
The hand that she had placed underneath the blanket curled up into a tight fist silently.
“She will come home once she has thought things through.” Zhao Yuan could say a few consoling words while forcing out a smile.
Her mother nodded. “After she returns from the banquet, let’s buy her some of her favorite things.”
Zhao Yuan, “...”
As her mother was a little tired as well, she spoke no further and left the room.
For the whole night, Zhao Yuan found it hard to sleep. She was both anxious and agonized.
She didn’t know if it was just a mere misconception, but it felt as if ever since Mingxi left home, everything at home seemed to have changed, quietly and unnoticeably.
The next day, Zhao Yuan’s eyes were a little swollen. They were so prominent that even some powder could not cover them up.
During the Flag Raising Ceremony, Pu Shuang immediately noticed it and asked, “What happened to you? Did something happen at home last night? I’m sorry for misleading you yesterday. I didn’t know that your brother really went to look for Zhao Mingxi…”
After giving it some thought, Pu Shuang consoled her, “I think that the reason why everyone has their attention focused on Zhao Mingxi is because she left home.”
“I know.” Zhao Yuan turned, her eyes unconsciously locked on Zhao Mingxi who was standing not far away at the third row of the International Class. There were also many people like her who were secretly looking at Zhao Mingxi.
After Zhao Mingxi took off her mask, she was getting prettier and prettier with each passing day. In the morning mist, her complexion was milky white, her facial features delicate and beautiful, and as she stood in the crowd doing absolutely nothing, it was enough to make others turn into her background.
Furthermore, she didn’t bring many clothes with her when she left home, but for some reason she was constantly wearing well-tailored branded clothing lately, and it made her appear even more outstanding.
Zhao Yuan furrowed her brows. “But I can’t possibly follow in her footsteps and leave home as well.”
“What are you afraid of?” Pu Shuang whispered. “Our teacher said that our October monthly exam results will be released today! Zhao Mingxi’s results are definitely going to flop while your results have always been good.”
“When you show your results to your mother and eldest brother, they will definitely pay attention to you again.”
During the Flag Raising Ceremony, all the homeroom teachers from all three classes were not present. They were all rushing to arrange the rankings for the newly marked monthly exam results.
There was only the dean who was in charge of discipline.
Every class was separated into a square-shaped formation. As Mingxi was considered quite tall for a girl, she stood at the middle of the third row.
She was still thinking about last weekend’s monthly exam as well as the questions she asked Professor Gao yesterday.
Over at Professor Gao’s place, Mingxi felt a long-awaited, simple sense of happiness from studying.
Just like how she was back at the small Northern town, she didn’t need to think or care about anything. She only needed to focus on her studies.
The mere action of bringing the praise from her teachers back to her grandmother and Mr. and Mrs. Dong was enough to make her happy.
It was a shame that she could only go there once a week.
While Mingxi was absent-mindedly thinking of all these, suddenly, someone whistled loudly at her. The girl behind her carefully pulled her hand. Mingxi lowered her head and turned back. The girl stuffed a phone case in her hands.
Mingxi was confused. What is this?
She instinctively looked back and saw the tall Fu Yangxi standing at the last row. His red hair which was like a porcupine stood out among the morning mist and cold winds. His pale face still had a sheen over tiredness on it, but his face revealed a happy expression.
When he saw that he had attracted her attention, Fu Yangxi immediately raised his hand and pointed at the item she was holding in her hands.
He wanted her to look at her phone?
Mingxi looked closer and noticed that the phone cover of the phone in his hands was black in color, and it was the same design as the one that girl had just stuffed in her hands.
The only difference was that his black phone case had a simple design of a small sun.
As for her own white colored phone case, it bore the design of a small mask, outlined by black ink.
Matching phone cases?
Mingxi was shocked.
But upon a closer look, she noticed that a dozen boys from the back row had all taken out their phones for her to see.
They were all the same kind of phone case, save for their difference in color. Orange, yellow, blue, green and purple, even the drawings at the back were different. Someone of them had a simple cartoon character design; some of them had a simple pile of sh*t.
The one who got a yellow phone cover with a simple design of pile of sh*t looked at Zhao Mingxi with a pained expression.
Only then did Mingxi’s pounding heart slow down a little.
What a surprise.
She thought that Fu Yangxi had given her a matching phone case. Turns out it was just a phone case specially made for the people in his weird gang.
Although she felt that this gesture was both childish and arrogant, Mingxi still found a sense of belonging from this, as if a group of people had accepted her as one of their own.
Mingxi smiled and turned to look at Fu Yangxi. Then, she lowered her head, took out her phone and changed her phone case. After that, she raised her phone again, and without looking back, she waved it at Fu Yangxi.
Fu Yangxi’s ears immediately flushed red. He quickly turned and said to Ke Chengwen who was beside him, “I told you she’ll change it.”
Ke Chengwen secretly blocked him from the cold glare coming from their neighboring competition class’ Shen Liyao. He was unsure of what to say. “Try to keep it low-profile, Xi ge. They’re all looking at you. If you wanted to buy a matching phone case, go ahead. Why did you have to force all of us to change one as well?”
“What matching phone case? Are you crazy? She’s the one who likes me. That kind of girly thing should be done by her.” Fu Yangxi was in denial. He glared at Ke Chengwen. “The one that I got is a gang phone case! Am I not allowed to have my own personal preference?”
Ke Chengwen instantly replied, “You’re allowed!”
Fu Yangxi said, “Leave.”
Once he was done talking, Fu Yangxi raised his head. He saw how the dean who was up front was staring at him, as if he was about to pull him out. Fu Yangxi raised his brows, and his lips formed the word “building” without a sound.
“...” The dean immediately made a turn and patrolled another area.
Ke Chengwen, “...”
Fu Yangxi, who had just changed a new phone case, was in a good mood. The way he walked was filled with arrogance. Although he had yet to complete his previous punishment of cleaning the toilets, after he returned to class, he took the initiative to throw away all the rubbish on their floor.
As they didn’t have a self-study period this morning, when Mingxi saw him leaving to throw the rubbish, her eyes gleamed and she hurried after him.
Due to Fu Yangxi’s long legs, it didn’t take him long before he reached the ground floor.
Mingxi jogged all the way. It took her quite the effort before she managed to catch up to him at the small alley located at the ground floor of their academic building.
When Fu Yangxi heard footsteps behind him, he turned around and saw her. “What are you doing here?”
“Let me help you!” Mingxi quickly reached out a hand and took away the trash bags which Fu Yangxi was holding in one hand.
Recently, the plants in her flower pot have stopped growing.
But it was mainly because she had given him desserts and helped him do his homework too many times, leading to a diminishing margin of zero.
Aside from that, she had accidentally hugged him and held his hands, so the luck brought by these two physical touches were all used up.
Mingxi couldn’t figure out what to do next.
She hadn’t tried throwing rubbish on his behalf, so she might as well give it a try.
Fu Yangxi held on to the trash can, unwilling to let go. However, when he saw how determined Mingxi was with her shining eyes, he could only unhand the trash can.
Only when Mingxi held it did she realize that it was quite heavy. She had to hold it with both hands. She quickly said, “Xi ge, you head on upstairs. Leave this to me.”
Sometimes Fu Yangxi would wonder if she was treating him a little too well. She was even willing to do such a small task like throwing away the trash on his behalf. Could this be what they call ‘mutual help in humble circumstances’?
He observed her quietly.
The October winds were cold. Mingxi stood before him with her head slightly raised. Fu Yangxi felt a sensation as if he had just eaten a strawberry flavored candy.
Fu Yangxi lowered his head. When he noticed that Zhao Mingxi’s shoelaces have come loose, he asked, “Is this how you normally tie your shoelaces?”
Mingxi looked down at her white sport shoes in confusion. “What is it?”
The method she used to tie her shoelaces was quite weird whereby she would merely tie two simple knots. While it wasn’t to the extent where it would easily come loose, it does look rather messy.
“Come here.” Fu Yangxi suddenly commanded.
Fu Yangxi was getting impatient. He said coldly, “Take one step closer to me.”
“What for?” Mingxi asked in disdain. Nonetheless, she still held unto the bags and took a step towards him hesitantly.
Fu Yangxi abruptly bent down, his fingers touching her shoelaces. He pulled apart the laces on both her legs and tied two perfect and beautiful butterfly knots. “This is the right way to do it.”
In the small alley, Mingxi was standing still while Fu Yangxi was half-squatted before her. Both their shadows were pulled long due to the orange sunset.
Mingxi looked down at his head of red hair. Her fingers which were holding on to the trash can unknowingly clenched tight. She was nervous for some reason.
She felt that Fu Yangxi had been acting rather odd recently.
—He was being oddly good to her.
She averted her gaze to focus on the shoelaces which Fu Yangxi had tied for her.
Mingxi was stunned. All her life, including her last one, aside from her grandmother, Fu Yangxi was the only one who had tied her shoelaces for her.
Mingxi immediately retracted her foot in an unnatural manner, and proceeded to take one step back.
Fu Yangxi’s fingers were still on her shoes. So when she suddenly retracted her foot, his body instantly went stiff.
Once he realized what he had done, his heart started to pound loudly against his chest. With his red ears, he slowly stood up like a rigid rock.
He squinted at Zhao Mingxi, his eyes conveying a look of ‘have you been living under a rock, Little Mask?’. He crossed his arms and with an arrogant tone and said, “What are you so nervous about? We’re in the same class and you are my follower. It’s only right for us to help each other out— Unless you—”
Mingxi didn’t need to hear his next words to guess that he was about to say something illogical again. Unfortunately, her hands were busy with the trash cans, hence she could not use them to cover her ears.
“Shut up.” Mingxi really wanted to cover his head with the trash can. She made a move and went ahead without him.
Fu Yangxi swallowed hard before following her.
He couldn’t help but to smile.
When he observed her delicate and pretty silhouette, he suddenly felt the urge to say, ‘Let’s date.’
But before the words could leave his mouth, he swallowed them back.
Little Mask hasn’t even confessed yet. She might not be ready.
He shouldn’t rush things.
“Let’s throw it together.” Fu Yangxi caught up to her in just a few steps. He tucked one of his hands in his pocket and tried his best to stop the corners of his mouth from curling up. He reached out one hand and held up the other end of the trash can.
Mingxi wanted nothing but to carry the trash can and run at that moment. “No need. It’s fine. I can do this myself.”
Fu Yangxi said, “Don’t worry, I get it. Whenever a girl says ‘no’, she means ‘yes’. Whenever a girl says ‘it’s fine’, it means ‘something is wrong’.”
You don’t know anything!
Fu Yangxi paid no mind to her and continued to hold on to the trash can.
Mingxi couldn’t figure out why he would allow his other followers to help him throw away the trash, but when it came to her, he wouldn’t allow her to do things like throwing away the trash and cleaning the toilets.
Mingxi could only understand it as a little punk having his moment of chivalry.
Being able to throw half is better than not being able to throw anything at all.
“Fine.” Mingxi felt dejected. She had no choice but to hold on to the other side of the silver trash can and head towards the school’s trash site with Fu Yangxi.
ray’s note: hey everyone! hope everything is going well for you. as for me, i have a quick announcement: i will be opening up donations in exchange for access to one chapter ahead of the current one! it is donation based because i don’t want you guys to feel like you’re obligated in any way to do so, and you are free to determine the amount (though i think ko-fi only allows for $1 and above :<). the money will go to my funds for getting a new laptop because my old one died a week before exams (rip). so it’s one donation of any amount for one chapter. i can’t give more than one unfortunately as my speed is simply not fast enough, but if that changes in the future i will let you all know! thank you so so much once again for all the support you have been showing me and this story. i will continue to work hard on it until the end!
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