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It was only after the May 1st vacation did Bai Luo Yin and Gu Hai returned to school.
At this time, the atmosphere in the classroom was already shrouded with a layer of smoke and flames as if a mighty war had been waged. The previously self-centered and vain girls now attended class with unkempt hair and untidied outfits while all the boisterous male students who sat at the back row had become completely well-behaved. Even the students who slouched over their desks and slept throughout the whole year now sat with their waist and back rather straight……
That’s why, when Gu Hai and Bai Luo Yin leisurely walked into the classroom, they were immediately considered different, strange even. “Huh… didn’t you moved abroad already?” You Qi asked while looking at Bai Luo Yin with astonishment.
The corners of Bai Luo Yin’s lips drew back, “Moved abroad? Who told you I’ve moved abroad?”
“You actually believe his words?”
“Then, where have you been all this time?” You Qi asked.
Instead of answering, since he didn’t think it was a good thing too, Bai Luo Yin had no other choice but to divert the topic instead.
“Oh yeah, I heard you participated in an interview held by Beijing Film Academy. How did it go?”
“I passed.” You Qi casually replied, “I’m just waiting to take the cultural examination.”
Looking at him, a cheerful expression spread on Bai Luo Yin’s face, “Nice! I heard the exams to get into Beijing Film Academy are harder than Qinghua University. How did you manage to pass it? Don’t you need to have connections and spend a lot of money?”
“I’m also quite confused. I only went there just to give it try since there’s no harm in giving it a go, you know? Honestly, I didn’t expect to pass at all. But during the first exam, a teacher somehow took an interest in me and kept in contact with me since. They’d even coached me for free. When the second examination results were announced, I didn’t even go look at it. The teacher was the one that called me and informed me. At that time, I still didn’t believe it. It was only until the third exam did I actually started to prepare myself properly. Even though I didn’t have much expectation, I still managed to pass it. To tell you the truth, this is a rather unexpected outcome for me.”
Seeing You Qi’s appearance burst with life as he recounted his story, Bai Luo Yin felt genuinely happy for him.
“Don’t forget to give me your autograph on graduation day. Just in case you become popular one day, I can sell it for a decent amount of money.”
You Qi laughed mischievously, “Don’t say it like that. We’ll still keep in contact even in the future. Also, even if I become a celebrity, I won’t be an arrogant snob and forget you guys.” Just a second later, he took out a tissue and blew his nose.
Bai Luo Yin looked at You Qi with concern, “I’m really worried that when you’re on stage, your snot will run down your nose even before you finish singing one song.”
“Can you stop using that to make fun of me all the time?”
Bai Luo Yin simply smiled without saying anything else.
As if remembering something, You Qi suddenly grabbed Bai Luo Yin’s hand with a look of urgency coloring his face.
“Yin Zi, you have to help me. My knowledge of cultural things is terrible! Even if I passed the interview, if I get eliminated because I couldn’t pass the cultural class, it’d be a waste! Since there’s still some time left before college exams start, you should tutor me.”
“Okay.” Bai Luo Yin quickly answered with delight.
You Qi had yet to express a single word of gratitude when he suddenly felt an intense burst of pain seared the back of his hand. Someone had taken a screw off the school desk and flung it directly towards Bai Luo Yin and You Qi’s tightly joined hand. His aim was accurate and ruthless, hitting the target spot on. In just seconds, the back of You Qi’s hand that was struck turned an ugly red color.
Bai Luo Yin’s dark and icy gaze swept towards the person behind him.
This time, You Qi took the initiative to speak first, “Oh yeah, Gu Hai. There’s something I’ve been meaning to thank you for! A few days after I was beaten up, I went to the interview with a bloody nose and swollen face. Surprisingly, the teacher that interviewed me said there was a unique sort of damaged beauty to my image. Not only did my bruised appearance made me stand out among the other candidates, but it also left a deep impression on the chief examiner.”
The corner of Gu Hai’s lips pulled up into a curve, “Then, I’ll punch you a couple more times. Maybe you’ll be given an acting role in a movie tomorrow.”
When classes were dismissed at the end of the day, Gu Hai was called over to a teacher’s office without prior notice. Bai Luo Yin stood in front of the school gate and patiently waited for Gu Hai to return to him. As he continued to wait for Gu Hai to come out, Bai Luo Yin sat on the railings outside the school and smoked a stick of cigarette. A moment later, Gu Hai sauntered over and snatched the half-smoked cigarette from his hands. He placed the cigarette into his mouth and smoked a few deep breaths before returning it to Bai Luo Yin.
That morning, the two rode their bike to school as they usually did. It has been a long time since they felt this kind of special, nostalgic feeling. Bai Luo Yin stood on the frame of the back seat, while his hands firmly pressed onto Gu Hai’s broad shoulder. He gazed at the street before his eyes and watched as it gradually shrunk and became shorter.
“Do you still remember? Back then, when we’d just known each other, you’d always sat backward as we rode this bike.”
How could Bai Luo Yin forget? At that time, every bit of Gu Hai was a complete eyesore to him. Now that he thought about it, he still felt a bit confused. It was obvious that Gu Hai was his archenemy, so how could their hostile relationship develop into one as affectionate as it is now? If Bai Luo Yin could go back in time to how things were before and closely examine everything that’s occurring now, he would definitely be completely confused at his own actions. Perhaps, the world did turn upside down.
Sometimes, the thing that we least expect to happen to us, will, on the contrary, happen for real.
“Tell me, how much longer do you think we’ll be able to ride this bike?” Bai Luo Yin asked all of a sudden.
Gu Hai glanced down and took a careful look at the bike before he answered, “This bike should be quite sturdy. The only thing is, the chain is a bit rusty. Once we’re home, I’ll put some oil on it and it’ll be as good as new! At the least, we’ll be able to ride it for another two years.”
“Who said I’m talking about this thing?” A melancholic atmosphere surrounded Bai Luo Yin’s form as he looked at Gu Hai’s back. There was a hint of gloominess and trepidation in his voice as he spoke, “What I mean is, how much longer can we ride this bike together? Just the two of us…together.”
“As long as you want.” Gu Hai happily answered as he turns to give Bai Luo Yin a warm glance. “If you’re willing to, once we attend university, I can still take you there then pick you up with this bike. Now that we’ve agreed to this in advance, you definitely can’t stay on campus. We’ll still live at home together. Even though it’s a bit far, it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Besides, university students have a lot more free time, so we’ll also have a lot of time to be on the road.”
Imaginations are always beautiful.
However, in the midst of these wonderful feelings, Bai Luo Yin could faintly feel that there were only 20 days or so remaining for them to ride their bike on the road like this.
Three days before university exams start, students were dismissed for vacation.
Taking advantage of the two days break, Bai Luo Yin decided to return home. This was done so as to give his family peace of mind before exams begin.
As he was leaving, he encountered Yang Meng at the school entrance. Since they were heading towards the same direction anyway, they decided to walk back together.
“Oh yeah! I haven’t asked you yet. What did you fill in as your goal when you submitted the application form?”
“Don’t even mention it.” Yang Meng’s face fell down, “I’ve been worried to death just thinking about it.”
Bai Luo Yin shot Yang Meng a questioning glance, “What’s wrong? Is your goal too high?”
“My father forced me to attend a military academy. He said that for generations our family has yet to produce a soldier. He hopes that I can bring honor to our ancestors and also adamantly added that a soldier’s salary is pretty good. After graduation, we’ll be assigned to our respective post immediately. You already know that I can’t go against him. At that time, I could only grind my teeth and apply that academy before the others. It doesn’t help either that all the courses are advanced.”
Hearing those words, Bai Luo Yin scoffed and burst out laughing, “What is your father thinking?”
“How would I know? Once he has an idea in mind, he’ll persistently stick to it.” Yang Meng could only sigh heavily, thinking about his own predicament, “What should I do if I really get accepted, huh? Now I’m scared every day just thinking about it.”
“Don’t be scared!” Bai Luo Yin patted the back of Yang Meng’s head, “Don’t worry about it. You definitely won’t pass the military examination!”
After that, the two walked in silence for a while before Yang Meng suddenly turned and asked, “Yin Zi, where exactly have you been a while ago?”
This time, Bai Luo Yin was at a loss for words.
“Yin Zi, don’t tell me you don’t think of me as your close friend anymore?” Yang Meng asked inquisitively.
Bai Luo Yin breathed sluggishly as he tightened his hold on Yang Meng’s shoulder.
“To tell you the truth, after so many years, you’re the only person that I’ve genuinely regard as my closest friend. Using the word ‘close friend’ to describe our friendship is a bit strange since I’ve always thought of you as a family. But even you also know that some things are better left unspoken even to those people closest to you. Because I care about you, I’m afraid of hurting you.”
“It doesn’t matter even if you don’t regard me as your close guy friend.” Yang Meng cheerfully patted Bai Luo Yin’s shoulder, “We can be close sisters too. I’ll be totally fine with that.”
Bai Luo Yin, “……yeah, don’t say that. If you were to join the female armed force examination now, maybe you’ll really pass.”
Yang Meng jumped on Bai Luo Yin’s back and gave it a hard slap.
The two parted ways at the entrance of an alley. Yang Meng turned and entered the alley first while Bai Luo Yin took a few more steps ahead before turning into another alley. Now, these two close friends were only separated by an alley, full of low built houses. As Bai Luo Yin silently walked, he suddenly heard Yang Meng’s shouts ringing through the air from the other alley.
“Yin Zi, you’re my idol. In my life, you’ll always be my model. No matter what you do, I’ll always support you!!”
Listening to Yang Meng’s heartfelt confession, the corner of Bai Luo Yin’s eyes was clouded with unshed tears.
Gu Hai was home alone when he heard a faint knock at the door. In just seconds, he opened the door and was met with Gu Yang’s stern expression. When Gu Yang walked in and noticed that Bai Luo Yin was not home, astonishment immediately filled his eyes.
“How rare! You’re the only one here?”
“Yeah.” Gu Hai looked at him dispiritedly, “He went home.”
Without much thoughts to it, Gu Yang casually asked, “Have you eaten?”
“I have, but not much.”
Gu Yang shot Gu Hai and icy glance, “Let me ask you something.”
“Go ahead.” Gu Hai lit a cigarette.
“Are you only living just for him?”
Billows of smoke freely flowed out of Gu Hai’s mouth. His sharp gaze was filled with confidence and determination. Not even the slightest sign of mockery could be seen as he replied with honesty, “I’m not living only for him, but also for myself.”
“Do you even have your own outlook on life? Your principles?” Gu Yang asked.
Gu Hai sneered bitterly, “When did you start to speak like Gu Wei Ting?”
“I’m merely questioning the merit of your words.” Gu Yang narrowed his eyes as he continued to look at Gu Hai. “I don’t see the slightest hint of you planning your own life.”
“Planning ahead for him is the same as planning for myself.”
A superficial smile appeared on Gu Yang’s life, “You’re already incurable, village Chief Gu.”
“I’ll always be better than an insensitive person like you, spineless coward.” Gu Hai lightly brushed away the cigarette ash.
Gu Yang’s face returned to its previously stern appearance, “I am not here to joke with you. The university I’m attending now has a branch in Hong Kong. I plan to continue and finish my studies there. After graduation, I’ll probably stay there for a while to expand my career. That’s why I want to ask if you have any plans to go to Hong Kong?”
“No.” Gu Hai swiftly replied without any doubts in mind, “I’ll never leave Yin Zi alone in Beijing.”
“It’s not necessary for you two to be together while you’re studying.” Gu Yang was very objective in his wording, “How long the two of you can maintain your relationship…or feelings, can’t be measured by the time amount of time you spend together. If you really want to act in accordance with social convention and attend those two universities you’ve applied to, I’d like to offer you a bit of advice, don’t waste your time. If what you want is a degree, I can tweak the system and give it to you right now.”
“Gu Yang, don’t expect me to count on you for everything just because I’ve taken some money from you. The amount of money that you’ve given, I’ve remembered it all clearly. It won’t be long before I give you every single penny back. Don’t think that you can tie me up or control me by using any kind of familial affection or wealth. The path ahead will only be paved by me, Gu Hai, alone, not the one that you guys want to pave for me.”