Editor: merahmapple 🍁
“Was that you?” Qu Zhengyan remembered his voice was trembling at the time.
“Wang Bailu’s matter… she was framed… isn’t she?”
“Why did you want to do this?!”
“Why? Why? Tell me!”
“She deserves it!” The series of questions angered Xiao Jin. He raised his head and said forcefully.
Qu Zhengyan glared at him. He didn’t realize it until now but as soon as it happened, he had a faint suspicion in his heart, yet he deliberately ignored it. Except for Du Yongjin, no one would deliberately make any trouble for Wang Bailu. Except for Du Yongjin, even if the others were hostile, they would at best talk ill about her behind their backs.
With such pettiness, retaliate against others no matter what, covering up his own mistakes as the fault of others… such would give headaches. Not listening to others, no giving any sympathy… It has always been Du Yongjin’s personality!
Qu Zhengyan has never felt this furious before.
“When did she offend you? To harm her like this?”
Du Yongjin stared back at him for a while. He said loudly, “She has a hateful look! Everything about her bothers me. Who makes her sway in front of me every day? This is too simple on her!”
Qu Zhengyan had nothing to say.
The two teenagers stood against each other in the garden in midsummer. Even the cicadas on the tree were frightened by them. Their surroundings became quiet and the atmosphere became more tensed.
Since young, Qu Zhengyan had never said a harsh word against Du Yongjin. Even now, he still couldn’t say it to his face. But he felt suffocated and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the boy on the opposite side was beautiful and dazzling. His tall body had a slender and delicate appearance that was unique to a teenager. His face was like a piece of jade carved into a polished crystal. Even when he was frustrated with a sweaty face, flushed cheeks and stiffed expression, he still looked pretty.
But Qu Zhengyan did not want to see him now.
Qu Zhengyan took a deep breath. He turned around and prepared to leave.
Du Yongjin was stunned. He called out, “Qu Zhengyan!”
Qu Zhengyan did not want to stop at all. He did not want to stay here either.
“Qu Zhengyan! Qu Zhengyan…” Du Yongyjin called him from behind, his original annoyed and arrogant tone gradually weakened, with a hint of grievance and panic.
But the furious Qu Zhengyan did not hear it. His steps were quick and filled with anger. Xiao Jin’s voice was quickly left behind by him.
When he returned home, Mrs Qu was sorting out some old collections. Upon seeing his face, she was a little surprised. “What’s wrong?”
Qu Zhengyan answered non-commitedly and went to his room. His emotions were in a mess. He was at a loss with anger, fear and frustration all churning about in him. When he left for school on Monday, he did not seek Du Yongjin as usual. He went alone instead.
That day, the front left seat was empty. Du Yongjin did not come to school.
At the utmost right front seat was Wang Bailu, with her shoulders straight and she was motionless.
Just like that, Qu Zhengyan went to school by himself the next day. That day, Xiao Jin came to school too but the two did not speak. They lowered their heads as if they hadn’t seen each other.
The third day, the fourth day…
It was not until one day when Mrs Qu returned home, she said to Qu Zhengyan, “Your brother asked you to go to him for the summer vacation after the high school entrance examination.” Qu Zhengyan suddenly realized that there was only one month left before the high school entrance examination. The cold war between him and Xiao Jin has been going on for more than ten days.
Something happened that day. After the graded algebra quiz papers were given back, the teacher scornfully criticized Wang Bailu openly, “Look at your results, can you still see it? Stop it, don’t always keep your mind on the crooked ways!”
Some of the classmates laughed and some were whispering. Wang Bailu looked down and had no expression on her face. Qu Zhengyan quietly glanced at Xiao Jin. He was supporting his cheek with his hand and turning his head to the other side as if he hadn’t heard what was happening at all.
Qu Zhengyan particularly felt uncomfortable in this situation.
The next day, he threw a small note into Wang Bailu’s pencil case during his lunch break, asking to meet her under the sculpture in the small square nearby after school. He waited nervously. During the first class in the afternoon, Wang Bailu took a pen and prepared to take notes. She saw the note. She quickly turned her head and glanced at Qu Zhengyan, her eyes were full of surprise… and on guard.
Qu Zhengyan recalled too late. She had already experienced similar things. Would she treat this meeting as a new trap again? Throughout the afternoon, he sat on pins and needles. After thinking about it, to no avail, he finally decided to go to the small square and wait as he originally planned. Wang Bailu arrived more than half an hour late. Just when Qu Zhengyan had almost completely given up hope, he saw her slowly walking from a distance. He immediately stood up.
Wang Bailu placed her schoolbag horizontally in front of her and looked around with her eyes as she stopped at a place ten steps away from Qu Zhengyan. She sized him up.
Qu Zhengyan did not know what to say to her so he started with a greeting. “You are here.”
Wang Bailu looked at him for a while and asked stiffly, “You said you have something very important to tell me. What is it?”
Qu Zhengyan did not expect her to be so direct. He opened his mouth for a long time without saying anything.
Wang Bailu was not in a hurry and stood quietly and waited.
“That…I want to tell you…Um…I…I believe you…”
The girl raised her eyebrows.
“That incident…I believe…that boy was lying…”
After a long time and hearing no reply, Qu Zhengyan looked at her nervously. The girl had a stunned expression. She gave a bitter smile after a long while. “Thank you.”
Qu Zhengyan gathered his courage. “I want to tell you, don’t let your studies be affected because of this. What other people say is their business.”
Wang Bailu was silent. Her lips were pressed tightly as she looked like she was about to cry. Since that incident, she has been living in hell. The gazes of the people around her, the family’s incomprehension… She wanted to be strong, but the pressure around her has almost made her lose all of her confidence… The mature and elegant boy in front of her with a warm personality like the sun suddenly spoke to her in a nervous tone: I believe you…
No matter how grateful she was, she was now more vigilant than before… She lightly asked, “Why?”
She raised her head, “Why would you believe me?”
Qu Zhengyan gaped. Why? Because he knew the truth. He just wanted to comfort Wang Bailu and stretch out a hand to her who was in trouble, so that she would not fail the high school entrance examination because of Xiao Jin’s inexplicable hostility… to reduce the damage Xiao Jin caused… and to reduce his guilt…
He muttered, not knowing what he uttered.
Wang Bailu heard it clearly. Three words. “I am sorry”.
The boy in front of her was full of unhidden regrets.
So it really was that! She thought.
After the incident, she organized her thoughts and carefully thought about who she had offended during her short transfer here. Who would only dare to gossip behind people’s backs, who would like to bully people blatantly and who might be playing tricks behind their backs… These three words by Qu Zhengyan made the icy and smart her immediately put that particular name on the list of suspects.
“Why do you apologize for others?” she asked.
“Let me guess,” she stated coldly. “You don’t intend to expose the truth to the school, do you?”
Qu Zhengyan raised his head abruptly with a look of panic on his face. He stammered and said, “I…I’m sorry for him, he…he didn’t mean…” He could not even convince himself by saying this, so he did not have the rest of his sentence.
Wang Bailu’s back straightened and she gazed fixedly at Qu Zhengyan, her bright eyes never blinking.
Qu Zhengyan did not know what she was thinking. He was only worried that she would report back to the school. He did not understand how she knew it. What did he say just now? If things really broke out, Xiao Jin would be furious! He thought desperately, Xiao Jin may never want to reconcile with himself ever again!
After a long period, Wang Bailu let out a long sigh. The gloom that had accumulated on her face these days had faded away. Her arrogance and stubbornness had recovered. In just a few minutes, she seemed to have matured a lot.
“Anyway, I accept yours…in place of your friend’s apology.” She said. Thinking to herself, she knew Du Yongjin would definitely not apologize to her. But what does it matter?
“But Qu Zhengyan, have you ever thought about it? How long can you protect him like this? Whatever wrong he does will be tolerated and someone will clean up the mess later for him… You all spoil him, thinking that it was for his own good. Can you imagine what kind of person he will become in the future?”
She looked at the guy in front of her and smiled contemptuously. “Someday, something that you can’t cover up will happen.” After saying this, she turned around and left.
Qu Zhengyan just stood there and did not move for a long time.
He felt a sudden chill passed across his back.