Zhao Yao pondered for a long time before she decided to look for Lu YunFei. She had constantly replayed Zhang Wei’s words in her head since afternoon. Zhang Wei used to chase after Bian JinYuan in year one, and definitely understood him better than she did. Hearing what she said, Zhao Yao worried that the reason why Bian JinYuan had gotten close to Lu YunFei was his money.
Zhao Yao wouldn’t have cared if this were anyone else. But this just happened to involve Lu YunFei, whom she had a crush on since the later half of year one, and she couldn’t just sit back and ignore it.
Sun Yao brought Lu YunFei over and then left, giving the stage to Lu YunFei and Zhao Yao.
Lu YunFei had no choice but to awkwardly start with, “You were looking for me?”
Zhao Yao nodded, “I’m Zhao Yao from class three. I was also from class three in year one, do you have an impression?”
Lu YunFei shook his head, puzzled: “We’ve met before?”
Zhao Yao nodded once more, “Once when I was cleaning the bathroom, you were also on cleaning duty and saw that I was feeling unwell, so you got me to go back to the classroom to rest. You wound up helping to clean the corridor and staircase that our class was in charge of. Do you remember that?”
Lu YunFei tried to remember, but could only express in embarrassment, “I’m sorry, I really don’t.”
Zhao Yao felt disappointed at his apologetic face and mumbled: “You really don’t remember.”
Lu YunFei saw a flash of hurt cross her face and found himself unable to do anything about it. This situation couldn’t be blamed on him, he had helped so many people before, if it hadn’t been a thousand instances, then it was eight hundred. He hadn’t found this instance to be anything worth remembering.
Lu YunFei saw that the atmosphere between them had gone stagnant, and carefully opened his mouth in an attempt to break the discomfort: “If there’s nothing else, I’ll be going off.”
Seeing this, Zhao Yao didn’t care about hiding her hurt. She looked at him and stuttered before she could finally get the words out: “I like you.”
Lu YunFei knew that it was going to wind up this way.
Since he was in year five of elementary school, there had always been a stream of girls who would either shyly or confidently proclaim that they liked him.
However, Lu YunFei hadn’t yet opened up to the world of romance, and was completely oblivious to the youthful girlish emotions, so he said apologetically, “I’m sorry, I think that we should be focusing on studying. Thank you for liking me, but I’m not looking for a girlfriend right now.”
“I won’t get in the way of your studies,” Zhao Yao said gently, “We could try starting out as friends, it doesn’t have to be a boy-girl relationship.”
Lu YunFei smiled, “Forget it,” he said, “I don’t really know how to interact with girls. Furthermore, you’ve already confessed to me, so it wouldn’t be appropriate to become friends now.”
Zhao Yao didn’t know what to say after he had completely rejected her.
Lu YunFei saw that she didn’t have anything more to say and readied to leave, “Then I’ll get going, you should too.”
“Wait,” Zhao Yao hurriedly said to stop him.
Lu YunFei felt mentally fatigued, why did he have to wait? Hadn’t he already made things clear?
“What else is there?”
Zhao Yao bit her lip and paused for a long moment, before asking hesitatingly: “Your relationship with Bian JinYuan is pretty good?”
Lu YunFei nodded and asked in puzzlement: “What about?”
“I…” Zhao Yao paused, then said softly, “I heard from other people that he wasn’t this way before.”
“Huh?” Lu YunFei was confused, “What do you mean?”
“He didn’t get along with others in the past.”
“So?” Lu YunFei didn’t really understand what she was trying to get at.
He knew about Bian JinYuan’s solitary nature. What was the problem with that?
Zhao Yao saw his confusion and decided to bite the bullet to repeat what Zhang Wei had said, “Have you ever thought about why he doesn’t get along with others, only with you? What’s the difference between yourself and other people?”
Lu YunFei felt like he didn’t understand it the more he heard.
“Must there be a reason to be friends? Should there be any special reason besides being friendly and conversing well?”
Zhao Yao’s anxious feelings were about to burst into flames upon hearing his reply, and she finally got straight to the point: “Lu YunFei, I heard from someone that Bian JinYuan’s home background isn’t good.”
At that moment, Lu YunFei’s gaze chilled.
He finally understood what Zhao Yao was trying to get at. After beating around the bush, this was the point that she was making.
“So what?” he asked.
“So, he could be trying to gain something from hanging out with you.”
Lu YunFei scoffed, “You said so much, just to tell me this?”
“I said it for your own good,” Zhao Yao saw that he seemed unhappy and hurriedly tried to make excuses for herself.
“So, you think that I’m stupid?” Lu YunFei said frostily, “Or that I don’t possess the basic ability to judge people?”
“Of course not.”
“But wasn’t this the subtext of what you said? If Bian JinYuan became my friend for my money, this means that the me who treats him like a friend is either a poor judge of character or someone who’s rich but dumb, am I right?”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Zhao Yao said anxiously, “I was just worried for you, so I wanted to warn you. I didn’t have other intentions.”
Lu YunFei smiled, “But I don’t appreciate this warning.”
He looked at Zhao Yao, “What you just said was not only insulting towards Bian JinYuan, but also towards me, and so I don’t like this warning.”
Zhao Yao saw the chill in his eyes and wanted to say that she didn’t insult him, but she wasn’t able to get a word out. He had always been so gentle, but now that he had suddenly become curt towards her, she couldn’t help but feel slightly afraid.
Lu YunFei had never thought that he would hear something like this today. He had assumed that Zhao Yao had simply wanted to confess to him, but who knew that it was followed by her casting aspersions on Bian JinYuan.
Romantic relationships and friendships were confined to the two parties involved and had nothing to do with other people. Zhao Yao had no right to get involved in this, and had even less right to speculate maliciously based on his home situation. Furthermore, Bian JinYuan wasn’t even this type of person.
“Zhao Yao, perhaps you do mean well for me, but I don’t need it. I trust and protect my friends completely, and don’t like it when others say bad things about them, worse still when they insinuate against them. Why does Bian JinYuan get along well with me instead of other people? The reason is simple, it’s because I’m likeable. Otherwise, why did you confess to me instead of someone else?”
He smiled and once again resumed his gentle nature, “You also wouldn’t hope to have someone say that the reason you like me is because of my money right?”
“Of course I wouldn’t.”
“Then that’s that,” Lu YunFei said genially, “Put yourself in the shoes of others. Why can’t others like me as you do?”
“But…” Zhao Yao wavered as she looked at him, “He…”
“No buts,” Lu YunFei interjected, “Let’s end this. I don’t wish to hear such things the next time. Girls are cute when they’re open-minded and understanding, they’re not lovable if they’re stubbornly argumentative.”
Zhao Yao looked at him and opened her mouth, but wasn’t able to say anything.
“And also, I approached Bian JinYuan, so he was definitely not the one who had any ulterior motives. If anything, I’m the one who’s trying to take advantage of his academic grades. You should also know that my English grades are terrible. I’ll get going, you should too.”
Having said that, he turned to head back toward the doors of the sports field.
Bian JinYuan had been standing at a corner nearby. Seeing him emerge from the tree shade, he turned and plastered himself to the other side of the wall.
He hadn’t intended to eavesdrop, but Lu YunFei’s event was about to start in 20 minutes, yet he had disappeared. He also hadn’t picked up his phone, so the sports representative had gotten antsy and rounded up a few of them to search for him. He had spotted Lu YunFei and was about to approach him when he heard Zhao Yao say: “Lu YunFei, I heard from someone that Bian JinYuan’s home background isn’t good.”
Bian JinYuan had instantly stopped in his tracks. He looked at the youth standing under the dappled shade and for some unknown reason, found himself backtracking to hide in the shadows.
Bian JinYuan bent his head and looked at the shadow he cast at his feet. He had always understood that he and Lu YunFei were from different worlds. Lu YunFei’s life was vibrant and passionate, possessing so much eagerness and sincerity, and lived with such frankness and excitement. He shone so brightly that it was captivating.
Meanwhile, his world was simple and bland, and so he lived in boring solitude. He had never once thought to outshine anyone, and never sought to accept the light and warmth of others.
He and Lu YunFei had too much of a distance between them, like the difference between heaven and earth.
The both of them should have only crossed paths occasionally before continuing in different directions. But now, he found himself constantly revolving around Lu YunFei, like the earth orbiting the sun, with no intention to stop doing so.
Bian JinYuan felt that things had changed gradually without him knowing. He wasn’t supposed to stay in school today, he didn’t participate in any events because he had planned to take leave to go work at his part-time job. Yet he hadn’t gone to work, and instead had stayed in school to watch Lu YunFei participate in his events.
This was never part of his plans, but it was probably because Lu YunFei had said it too naturally the day before, and he had seen his energetic face as he claimed, “I’ll show you tomorrow, wait for me to get first place,” and hadn’t had the time to tell him that he’d planned to take a leave of absence, before Lu YunFei carried his bag and said goodbye to him cheerfully.
“So what?” He remembered how Lu YunFei heard him say that “there’s a fair distance between us”, and had replied thus nonchalantly while eating cake this morning.
His impression of Lu YunFei was that, apart from his psychological fear of English, he always had a leisurely approach to things. Even the first time when he saw him fighting with other people, he had also smiled and asked to join in.
This was the first time that he had witnessed Lu YunFei become cold and unhappy. The fact that he was the reason for it made him feel a certain mysterious emotion. Bian JinYuan wasn’t able to articulate it, but the emotion didn’t feel like a bad thing.
As for what Zhao Yao thought of him, this was none of his business, and so he wasn’t bothered and didn’t care for it.
According to him, the only thing in school which warranted his attention was Lu YunFei.
When Lu YunFei walked over to the steel doors of the sports field, he was surprised to find someone standing by it. That person wore a black coat, his posture straight. He was tall, and his side profile was handsome with clearly defined features. His facial expression seemed cool, but his eyes were surprisingly gentle. He hadn’t entered the sports field, and instead stood by the entrance even though he could have just entered with a step forward. Yet, he didn’t make the move to do so.
Lu YunFei walked over and exclaimed, “Senior, why are you here?”
Si JunDuo✤ turned to look at him, saw that it was Lu YunFei, and smiled, “I was on the way and decided to drop in to take a look.”
Lu YunFei didn’t believe him. He peered into the sports field to see that Wen MingYi had likely just finished his event, and was currently bent over clutching his knees while catching his breath. Li YuanQing and the girls from their classes surrounded him, giving him water and talking to him.
Lu YunFei smiled and turned to look at Si JunDuo, “MingYi seems to have another event coming up soon, do you want to go in? You could cheer him on too.”
“No,” Si JunDuo said warmly, “I’ve got to go.”
“Don’t, you’re already here, why not go in to take a look.”
“I’ve got something on,” Si JunDuo said, “Moreover, if he saw me, he might lose his composure.”
Lu YunFei rubbed the back of his neck upon hearing that, unable to say anything to that. Si JunDuo was right, if Wen MingYi saw him, he’d likely act up like a chuunibyou again. There was no helping it, after all, the best doctors are unable to cure chuunibyou. What’s more, he wasn’t even a doctor, just a high school student.
And so Lu YunFei smiled awkwardly.
Si JunDuo was still his calm self, “Then I’ll get going, good luck with the sports festival.”
“Mmm, bye senior.”
Lu YunFei turned to head towards the direction of the door, and after thinking for a moment, ran towards Wen MingYi.
Wen MingYi was just done drinking water when someone from behind gave him a pat on his shoulder.
He turned his head, saw that it was Lu YunFei, and quickly reminded him, “Where did you run off to? Your event’s about to start, there’s only ten more minutes till.”
“I know, I’m keeping time, don’t worry.”
Lu YunFei pulled him aside, and Wen MingYi asked in befuddlement, “What are you doing being so secretive?”
“I just met your ge (elder brother) at the sports field entrance,” Lu YunFei said as he indicated in that direction.
As expected, Wen MingYi started to act up: “How many times must I say this, I’m an only child.”
“Argh, do you have to make me say the same line time and again,” Lu YunFei said in exasperation, “I initially wanted him to come here with me to cheer you on, but he said that he was afraid that seeing him would cause you to lose your composure, so he left. But he should still be within the school compounds, you can still chase after him.”
Wen MingYi snorted, “Chase after him? Lu YunFei have you gone mad?”
“Senior came all the way over here just to see you compete. And then he was even afraid that you wouldn’t be happy seeing him, so he didn’t even dare step into the sports field. Don’t you feel pity?” Lu YunFei poked his chest, “Is your heart made of stone? Do you feel pain in your conscience?”
“I didn’t ask him to come,” Wen MingYi said coldly, “I’d already told him that the both of us have nothing to do with each other. Don’t bother yourself with this, quickly go to your event, otherwise your sports representative will come to grab you.”
“That’s right,” Li YuanQing suddenly said.
Lu YunFei and Wen MingYi jumped in surprise and turned back to find Li YuanQing standing behind them.
“People can get scared to death you know?!”
“Those who have a clear conscience aren’t afraid of demons knocking at their door. With you like this, you definitely did something wrong,” Li YuanQing said as he looked at Wen MingYi.
Wen MingYi nodded, “The thing I’ve done the most wrong is not beating you up.”
Saying so, he picked up a mineral water bottle and pitched it at Li YuanQing.
Li YuanQing dodged it while Lu YunFei laughed out loud. Just as he was about to help Wen MingYi out, he heard Bian JinYuan’s voice from behind him, “Alright, you’ve got to go compete. Hé Pān is headed over here now.”
It was then that Lu YunFei realised that there wasn’t much time before his 100 metres event commenced.
He hurried over to the area for boys 100 metres. On the way there, he thought of something and asked Bian JinYuan: “Did you come to look for me?”
“What else would it be?”
“I thought you came back after buying chocolate for me.”
Bian JinYuan smiled and dug his hand into his pocket, before taking it back out. He opened his hand in front of Lu YunFei, and in the middle of his palm lay the all-too-familiar chocolate.
Lu YunFei picked it up to peer at it before putting it back in his palm, “Hold it for me, I’ll eat it in a bit, it’s not for you this time.”
“Mmm,” Bian JinYuan replied.
When Lu YunFei arrived at the competition area, the little fatty sports representative virtually hugged him while crying tearfully, “Where did you run off to? I’d been looking for you for half a day.”
“Don’t worry,” Lu YunFei said calmly, “I know what I’m doing.”
“Best of luck!”
Lu YunFei signaled okay with his hand, “Sure thing.”
The referee saw that it was about time, and let the competitors stand at their positions while shouting at the students still loitering on the track: “Move off, leave the track.”
The students on the running track heard him and immediately retreated to the outside of the track.
The referee looked at the stopwatch in his hand, while Lu YunFei readied himself, waiting for the signal.
A “beep” rang out, and Lu YunFei rushed forward. 100 metres was different from 400 metres. For such a short distance, the competitors would eagerly push ahead from the beginning, and there was no need to conserve energy.
He Pan, Li YuanQing, and Wen MingYi were all shouting, “Go Lu YunFei!”
Bian JinYuan watched him lead the race as he approached the finish line, and let out a breath of relief, preparing to head over to the finish line himself.
However at that moment, Lu YunFei slipped and staggered, before kneeling on the track.
I can’t believe that we finally know the sports representative’s name (He Pan) after so many chapters, especially considering how a few characters we’ve met who had one-off appearances were named before he was!
✤ Side couple who are the protagonists of Reborn as the Villain President’s Cat & Dog if you haven’t read it yet!