After burning half a catty1Any of various units of weight of China and southeast Asia varying around 1¹/₃ pounds (about 600 grams) of brain cells, the excuse worked. Bai Ruan was very happy about not having to expose his original form in front of Lang Jing Feng. For the following week, the intention to confess his identity did not cross his mind.
In fact, it was true that there had been a Lei Feng event last month. The school did organise all teachers and students to participate in volunteer activities. It was also true that it was required for them to take photos and record them during said exercise. Participation in the activities really would affect the class’s insignificant evaluations. Ask any of the students, and they’d tell everyone the same answer.
Only the students who did not participate in the event needed to make up for it was false, but Lang Jing Feng apparently believed it.
Bai Ruan felt that Lang Jing Feng seemed to treat him exceptionally well and gave him face. Thinking about it carefully, Lang Jing Feng had hardly defied Bai Ruan’s orders since he’d transferred schools.
But Bai Ruan didn’t think this was anything unusual. As a teacher, he had been in contact with many students in the past three years and knew that there was a type of discipline called, “eat soft but not hard”2It is a Chinese idiom that means amenable to coaxing but not coercion.; the stricter the teacher, the more this kind of student would retaliate. However, if the teacher was too easy-going, they would be too embarrassed to make more trouble.
Lang Jing Feng should be the typical kind of student that eats soft but not hard, Bai Ruan pondered. The more he thought about it, the more he felt that was the case.
On Saturday evening, Bai Ruan brought his baby rabbits out to walk on the lawn at the plaza near his house.
Rabbits are happy animals. They were always irritable in cages, so Bai Ruan would sometimes take the bunnies out to relax. It was impossible to take care of more than 20 rabbits together, so each time, he’d take only five or six.
The bunnies who came out today were all spiritually conscious and easy to discipline. Each ball of fluff was tied to a rabbit-specific leash. A few small round snowballs were zooming about and doing binkies on the grass. Carrying a plastic bag and a small shovel, Bai Ruan followed them leisurely. As he walked, he soothingly warned, “Children must not eat the greenery on the ground.”
A baby bunny who was trying to nibble on the turf stilled, turned his head and with drooping ears, looked at Bai Ruan grievously.
“This is the public’s lawn, not ours.” Bai Ruan bent over and stroked the soft bunny’s fluffy fur and said in a soft tone as if he were talking to a baby, “If we eat up all the grass here, there won’t be any left for the rest. In addition, the grass outside is dirty; it’ll cause stomach pains after eating.”
The baby bunny nodded his ears forward to show that he understood.
“Are there any children that want to take a dump?” Bai Ruan shook the small shovel in his hand.
In a row, three of the bunnies waved their ears lightly and carried themselves forward in the spirit of respecting the old and loving the young. One by one, from smallest to largest, they pointed their furry butts at the shovel in Bai Ruan’s hand and took turns using the toilet.
After a while, Bai Ruan dumped the waste on the shovel into a plastic bag. He then carried the plastic bag and the tool in his left hand, hanging the leashes on his wrist. While leading the bunnies to stroll around the grass, he dug out his phone with his other hand and sent a message to Lang Jing Feng.
Bai Ruan went straight to the point and asked: I will volunteer at the orphanage tomorrow. Do you have time?
Lang Jing Feng replied within seconds: Yes.
Bai Ruan: It will only be during the afternoon. You can do your homework in the morning and evening.
Lang Jing Feng: Don’t worry. I’m doing it right now.
Lang Jing Feng: I realised that I’ll be able to complete a bit more compared to last week. Are you happy?
Bai Ruan smiled like an old father on the phone screen and typed: Very happy, keep up the hard work.
On Tuesday, Bai Ruan summoned Lang Jing Feng into the office to have a heart-to-heart conversation. The main idea was to discuss how to strengthen Lang Jing Feng’s foundation, which was so weak that it was equivalent to being abused by a hundred huskies.
As soon as Lang Jing Feng walked into the office that day, Bai Ruan calmly pressed the switch of a small sitting fan on the table, letting the fan blow Lang Jing Feng’s intense scent onto the next table, Class Eight’s homeroom teacher’s desk.
“I have one requirement of you. It’s very simple. Not only you’ve to do your Chinese and Mathematics homework, but also your schoolwork for all subjects.” Bai Ruan, who was covered by the electric fan behind him, felt very confident. Flicking through Lang Jing Feng’s Mathematics and Chinese homework, he continued seriously, “But your current foundation is too poor. As such, you don’t have to complete all of them every day. I’ve already explained it to your respective subject teachers. You can do as much homework as you can. I’d rather you leave the questions empty than fool around or copy them, can you do it?”
Lang Jing Feng grinned and replied in a cajoling tone as if he were coaxing his girlfriend, “Yes, I can do it.”
With a stern face, Bai Ruan nodded majestically and said, “When the teachers of each subject are teaching you the homework, you should listen carefully to the questions that you don’t know. If you still don’t understand, you can use the formulas, theorems, and knowledge points used in the question… write them down next to the question to understand the basics.”
After every sentence, Lang Jing Feng would just smile and listen. Compared to when he’d first transferred, it seemed like he was a completely different person. Liu Zhen, who wasn’t too far from Bai Ruan, looked at the other teacher for a while. It was as if he wanted to use his righteous gaze to shake the evil demon who’d robbed Lang Jing Feng away from his body.
“This is for you.” Bai Ruan took out a thin notebook from the drawer and pushed it towards the corner of the table. “After talking with you last Saturday, this is the language study plan I made specifically for you. I don’t know about the other subjects. For Chinese, you can just follow my pace. If you continue to work hard, there won’t be any problems if you want to catch up with everyone in your third year.”
The smile in Lang Jing Feng’s eyes deepened even more as he took the notebook and replied, “I understand, Teacher Bai.”
“In a few weeks, we’ll have midterm exams. You have to work hard for the remaining time.” Bai Ruan summoned up the courage to look at Lang Jing Feng for a moment and cordially encouraged, “I’ve seen the transcript of your initial tests before you transferred over. If you are able to achieve progress in the exams this time, it can be considered a success.”
“Teacher Bai, if I make progress in the midterm exams…” Lang Jing Feng scanned Bai Ruan’s delicate face greedily, recalling the soft feeling his fingers had previously felt, and tried his best to restrain his desire. He continued, “Are there any rewards?”
The young man Bai Ruan smiled warmly. “There must be. Whenever there are midterm exams, I reward three students who’ve made the most progress in the class. The reward is not necessarily a physical item, but it can also be a small wish or a request within my abilities.”
“Okay.” Lang Jing Feng pondered for a moment and nodded. “It’ll definitely be within your ability.”
Walking out of the office, Lang Jing Feng held the notebook Bai Ruan gave him to his nose and sniffed.
Indeed, the smell of Bai Ruan still remained on the notebook cover.
The scent was very pleasing, like the smell of cleanly washed small animals when they were soft and fluffy, drying in the sun. There was also a hint of grass. Lang Jing Feng took a deep breath of the aroma that kept lingering. It felt like the tip of his nose was against a little belly facing towards the sunny sky as he rubbed it left and right. That little belly was as soft as a newly made cloud.
The scent on Bai Ruan’s body was like this.
Lang Jing Feng gritted his teeth. His facial muscles tightened and relaxed, forcibly eradicating the intense desire and hope for more of Bai Ruan’s personal items as he pulled his thoughts back on track.
In the next week, Lang Jing Feng held back his temper and followed Bai Ruan’s request. Although there were far more questions he couldn’t do than the ones he could, he followed Bai Ruan’s method and was able to retain a lot of basic knowledge.
At one o’clock on Sunday afternoon, Bai Ruan and Lang Jing Feng met at the main entrance of the City’s welfare institute.
Bai Ruan was a resident volunteer at the orphanage. While he was still studying at the Teachers’ College, he used his vacation time to come over for voluntary work. At first, it was to increase his merits, but after a long time, he became acquainted with the children in the hospital. Bai Ruan couldn’t bear to let go of them and would still take the time to visit the children from time to time after work.
“Brother Bouncy is here!” In the activity room, a sharp-eyed little girl saw Bai Ruan first. The childish voice was as tender as a swallow, who startled thousands of other birds, and the children all over the room rushed towards Bai Ruan.
“Brother Bouncy!”, “Brother Bouncy, I’ve missed you!”, “Brother Bouncy, I want a hug!”
Lang Jing Feng raised his eyebrows high, and cast a glance at Bai Ruan with a smile. The young teacher hurriedly comforted the children, his cheeks burning a bright red.
In order to get closer to the children, Bai Ruan kept asking them to call him “Bouncy”, the nickname Yun Qing gave him. He had never expected that…
After a moment of silence, Lang Jing Feng cleared his throat, calling out in a low and magnetic voice, “Brother Bouncy.”
“You…” Bai Ruan’s face flushed even harder as he stammered, “What are you doing, following this nonsense? It’s… It’s the children who came up with it… This isn’t my nickname.”
Bai Ruan, whose nickname was indeed this, lied without batting an eye.
“Brother Bouncy.” Lang Jing Feng suddenly bent over and moved closer, his lips almost rubbing Bai Ruan’s ears and his voice was full of smiles. “I want to hold Brother Bouncy. I’ve missed Brother Bouncy.”
“Don’t make trouble!” Bai Ruan was shocked and shrank his sensitive neck back. His heart pounded for no reason. “Why are you calling me brother?”
Lang Jing Feng sighed and turned over an old account. “On the third day of my transfer, you were in the office with that fellow Zhou… What did Teacher Bai say to him?”
Bai Ruan looked down at a child, with a reddened face, and refused to look at him. “What did I say?”
“You said that we students were like younger brothers and sisters in your heart.” Lang Jing Feng showed a mischievous smile. “Why aren’t you admitting to it, Big Brother Bai Ruan? Brother Bouncy?”
Bai Ruan was flustered and short of breath when he was called brother. His cheeks were warm, and even his ears became hot.
“…You call me teacher!” Bai Ruan held back for a long time and squeezed out a reprimand between clenched teeth, “Not behaving like a student at all!”
“Oh.” Lang Jing Feng nodded slightly and said after a moment of silence, “Teacher Bouncy.”
Bai Ruan almost passed away in anger.
The author has something to say:
Lang Jing Feng: I want to hug Brother Bouncy~ I have to kiss my Brother Bouncy~ I have to sleep with Brother Bouncy~ I want to touch the round tail of Brother Bouncy~
Bouncy Bai: …Kill you with a single blow!!!
- 1Any of various units of weight of China and southeast Asia varying around 1¹/₃ pounds (about 600 grams)
- 2It is a Chinese idiom that means amenable to coaxing but not coercion.