After the reporter left, the conference room fell into a minute-long silence.
“If you have something you want to say then say it ba.” Mr. Shi smiled sarcastically, “Nini still has school in the afternoon.”
Huang Ting said slowly and unperturbed, “Our main objective for the day is to get the two parties to talk it out and resolve this misunderstanding.”
Yu Hao refocused his attention onto Shi Ni. Ever since the reporter entered and left, Shi Ni’s gaze had never left her phone.
Mr. Shi said, “I don’t know what that misunderstanding is. So your station wants to gloss over this incident now?”
Huang Ting said, “Mr. Shi should have heard about how student Yu Hao had returned the money he found ba. It’s not likely for him to touch other people’s things.”
Chen Yekai said, “There should be some kind of misunderstanding here. Yu Hao isn’t very good at expressing himself, it shouldn’t be the fault of either party. It’ll be fine once you talk it out.”
As Yu Hao heard Chen Yekai and Huang Ting complement each other in perfect harmony, he suddenly had a hunch: did the two of them know each other before this?
Mr. Shi said, “We’re a society governed by law; we can’t be idealistic, everything needs to be proven with evidence. Isn’t that right, Officer Huang?”
Huang Ting repeated another round of taking his police cap off and putting it back on again before he said pensively, “Right now, we have no evidence to prove that Yu Hao had taken your item either.”
“This still isn’t considered as evidence?” Mr. Shi couldn’t help but laugh.
“But you’ve seen this too.” Chen Yekai took out Yu Hao’s Lost and Found notice, “He really wasn’t in the know. Could it have dropped into his bag by accident?”
This was when Shi Ni raised her head and looked at Yu Hao.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to talk any further.” Mr. Shi said, “This is just a waste of time. At first I thought that he came here today to admit his mistake, and if he had been sincere in admitting his fault, I could have considered not to prosecute him. But now……”
Yu Hao suddenly said, “Can I talk to Shi Ni?”
Mr. Shi’s expression changed instantly, “What right do you have?”
Chen Yekai and Huang Ting exchanged a quick look; everyone who was present understood it clearly in their hearts.
Huang Ting said, “Cooperate with the investigation ba, let both parties communicate a little more. It may help in resolving the misunderstandings.”
“There are no misunderstandings in the first place!” Mr. Shi said.
Huang Ting only looked at Mr. Shi. Mr. Shi met his gaze with an angry glare. For a moment, everyone in the conference room was looking at Mr. Shi.
Mr. Shi said again, “Talk about what?”
No one spoke. Everyone in the conference room thought unanimously, you’re trying to play with us who study Psychology?
When Mr. Shi didn’t get the reply he wanted, he continued, “Nini, are you willing to talk to him?”
Shi Ni remained silent, so Mr. Shi faced the rest again and said, “You see? Nini doesn’t even want to talk to him.”
Everyone in the conference room stood up at the same time, then opened the door and walked out. Only Yu Hao and Shi Ni were left behind. Yu Hao thought that this was a true psychological warfare victory in practice — when you’re in a negotiation, quote a price first before observing your opponent; at this kind of moment, whoever speaks first loses, and sure enough, Mr. Shi had lost the battle.
He only had 5 minutes. Yu Hao noticed that Chen Yekai and Zhou Sheng’s mobile phones had been left in the conference room; their audio recorders should be turned on.
“Nini.” Yu Hao faced Shi Ni as he spoke.
Shi Ni sat opposite Yu Hao. She was looking down at her phone as she uttered an “un”.
Yu Hao said, “I forgive you — this is the premise for our dialogue.”
The expression on Shi Ni’s face suddenly changed. She said, “What right do you have to say that? I didn’t do anything wrong, so why would I need to be forgiven?”
Yu Hao said, “You placed the watch in my bag — I saw everything. That day, you took advantage of the time when I went out to receive a call to step on my chair and open the watch case. You wanted to take another watch at first, right? Your fingerprints were left on all the other watches.”
Shi Ni looked up at Yu Hao and was instantaneously shocked.
Shi Ni was in state of chaos. Her father had 11 watches, all of them were kept in a large wooden watch case which was kept in the bookcase. After Yu Hao left, Shi Ni specially used a tissue to wipe the doors of the bookcase, yet she forgot that she would leave her fingerprints on the other watches while she was selecting one to stuff into his bag.
And the cleaning lady would only clean the bookcase; she wouldn’t clean Mr. Shi’s watches for him.
“I told them not to tell your father about the fingerprints.” Yu Hao said patiently, “Let’s think of a way to hide this for you, okay? Laoshi promises to not let you get scolded, but you shouldn’t frame me anymore. Why do you hate me so much? Is it because your Dad felt humiliated, so he forced you to……”
Fear and despair beyond compare appeared in Shi Ni’s eyes; Yu Hao was only halfway through his sentence when he keenly felt like something was amiss, but reality didn’t give him enough time to think too deeply about it — Shi Ni burst into tears with a “waaa”. Yu Hao was about to comfort her when an angry roar rang out outside the conference room.
“Don’t scare her!” Mr. Shi had been staring into the room through the window ever since he left. The moment Shi Ni cried, he rushed inside.
“Ai!” Zhou Sheng shouted angrily, “It hasn’t even been 5 minutes?!”
Zhou Sheng followed closely behind and wanted to drag Mr. Shi out. Yu Hao thought, crap, now that she was crying, the words he wanted to say had to be cut off midway by this sudden incident.
“Give me 2 more minutes!”
“Nini!” Mr. Shi said angrily, “Leave with Daddy!”
“How could you go back on your words?”
After Shi Ni stood up, she kept moving towards the other end of the conference room to hide. Yu Hao saw Zhou Sheng dragging Mr. Shi and quickly said, “Let’s talk it out peacefully…don’t start a fight!”
When Mr. Shi was being dragged away by Zhou Sheng, he flew into a fit of rage and turned around to slap him. He gritted his teeth as he said, “You delinquent garbage……”
Unexpectedly, Zhou Sheng merely took a step back and easily dodged his slap, before he immediately followed up with a fist!
Within that instant, Yu Hao was smacked with two words that had abruptly appeared in front of him — we’re finished.
When Zhou Sheng’s fist landed, the conference room fell into disarray. Mr. Shi roared before he pounced forward to grapple Zhou Sheng, but Fu Liqun said, “Don’t fight! Let’s talk things out instead!” And as he spoke, he grabbed Mr. Shi from behind.
Zhou Sheng immediately bounced twice, clenched both his fists and actually treated Mr. Shi as a target as he aimed another fist at him. Mr. Shi turned abnormally silent; the blood all over his face splattered everywhere after a bang sounded.
“Stop it right now!” Chen Yekai finally brought Officer Huang Ting over. His voice boomed like thunder and the students in the college who were attending classes suddenly showed up — they crowded along the corridor until not even a single drop of water could leak out. This spectacle couldn’t be brought under control for awhile, yet Yu Hao inadvertently noticed that Shi Ni who was hiding under the table had stuck her head out to observe the situation.
“Just wait for it! If I don’t screw you all over, then my surname won’t be Shi!”
In the end, Mr. Shi exasperatedly howled in anger.
“Absolutely horrible!” The vice principal was practically roaring, “What a horrible character!”
Half an hour later, the dean concluded her meeting and hurried back to the college. The dean was an old woman in her sixties; she was sitting in the conference room as she flipped through the report with a straight face. Yu Hao, Zhou Sheng, Chen Yekai and Fu Liqun stood in one row opposite her with their hands clasped behind their backs as they endured a scolding.
“A student had grabbed her Dad.” Vice Principal faced the dean as he said. He pointed at the opposite side and explained, “He was so obviously taking sides while trying to stop the fight! I saw it with my own eyes! Another student was jumping around and hitting the man like he’s a sandbag! How could our college have this kind of student, it’s just……”
“Student Yu Hao.” The moment the dean spoke, the vice principal shut his mouth up.
Yu Hao was looking down at the blood on Zhou Sheng’s hand at first. There was an inquiring look in his eyes, but Zhou Sheng motioned that he was ok. When he was called, Yu Hao looked up and met the dean’s gaze.
“Previously, your counsellor Mr. Xue had submitted a “Persuade to Leave”1 application for you.” The dean said, “But last night, when it was close to 12 midnight, your Chen Laoshi came to my house and talked to me for a whole two hours.”
Yu Hao was lost in thought as he remained silent. The dean suddenly threw the materials onto the table and said angrily, “And this is how you guys deal with things?! Absolutely ridiculous!”
The corner of the dean’s lips were surrounded by nasolabial folds. Chen Yekai wanted to explain at first, but after he was scolded, he kept quiet for a moment.
“I was the one who hit him.” Zhou Sheng wore an indifferent expression on his face, “It has nothing to do with him. If there’s someone you want to persuade to leave, it should be me. Persuade me ba, persuade me and I’ll leave.”
Fu Liqun suddenly burst into laughter with a “pu”; the conference room instantly fell into a state of awkwardness.
“It has nothing to do with them!” Yu Hao said immediately, “I’m the one who called them over to help! And Mr. Shi was the one who started the fight, we can check the surveillance.”
The old dean — whose surname was Ning — was once quite famous in the judicious circle. After she retired early, she was employed by the college; she might seem indifferent but she’s actually a person who’s keenly aware of the situations around her. After all, she had encountered all kinds of murder and crime cases, so when it came to a trivial case like Yu Hao’s, she could tell what the inside story was at a glance. Additionally, she had listened to Chen Yekai talk about Yu Hao for half a day the night before yesterday in her pajamas, so she more or less knew what was going on.
“It’s my problem.” Chen Yekai bowed towards Dean Ning and answerd, “I’ll deal with it ba.”
Dean Ning had hurried back in a rush. When she reached the entrance of the college, she coincidentally bumped into the Mr. Shi who was marching out. Mr. Shi’s face was covered in blood and he had left in the midst of the students’ mocking laughter; the moment he saw the old lady he couldn’t help hurl a torrent of abuse at her and ignored her apologies before he got into his car and drove away.
“Zhou Sheng will stay in school to serve his detention.” Dean Ning said coldly, “Yu Hao gets a serious warning; next monday we’ll convene the students for a meeting, Yu Hao will recite a self-reflection in front of them. Yekai, think this matter over carefully, don’t bury the futures of these students.”
Her words were rather severe. Chen Yekai answered her immediately, then Dean Ning stood up and left in a fit of rage.
After he left the college, Yu Hao was silent for a moment before he tried to head towards the corridor. Chen Yekai stopped him and said, “What are you trying to do again?”
“I’m going to look for the dean.” Yu Hao said, “I dragged Zhou Sheng into this!”
“It doesn’t matter.” Zhou Sheng said apathetically, then dragged Yu Hao away along with Chen Yekai.
“Yu Hao, you won’t be persuaded to leave anymore?” Fu Liqun suddenly said.
Zhou Sheng recalled it too, “Oh yeah, didn’t they say that they wanted to persuade you to leave?”
Chen Yekai couldn’t endure it any longer. He shouted angrily outside the college, “So you guys think you managed to pick up a bargain from this?!”
Chen Yekai had already looked for the dean to clearly explain the reasons behind theft accusation, and because of the money pick-up incident, the dean had formed a good impression of Yu Hao. He had intended to allow the involved parties to finish their discussion today and settle the matter amicably, then everything would have been smoothed over. On the night after Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng had picked up the money, the dean was full of praise for these two students. Moreover, since Mr. Shi had pointed his finger at the college, it made her very unhappy.
So the dean’s stand was that if the other party wasn’t willing to compromise, then they didn’t need to be afraid of him either. This was why Chen Yekai was so full of confidence and vigour, but he didn’t expect new problems to crop up, and that Zhou Sheng would throw out another punch that would go down in history.
Fortunately, Fu Liqun hadn’t been dragged into it.
“Let’s go to the canteen for a meal ba. Did you bring your cafeteria card?” Zhou Sheng faced Fu Liqun as he said indifferently again.
“All of you get your asses back to your dorms!” Chen Yekai finally lost his rationality as he shouted angrily at the three of them. Yu Hao opened his mouth and said, “Chen Laoshi……”
Chen Yekai raised his hand like he wanted to hit Yu Hao; Yu Hao subconsciously lowered his head and closed his eyes.
“I’m utterly disappointed in you.”
Yu Hao fell into a daze; his heart suddenly felt like it had been stabbed.
Zhou Sheng stuffed both his hands into his pockets as he kicked the door to Yu Hao’s dormitory open. His dorm mates all got a shock.
“We’re having a meeting.” Zhou Sheng said, “Lend us a place.”
“Don’t, don’t.” Yu Hao quickly pulled Zhou Sheng back. This was his dormitory after all, but as soon as Fu Liqun and Zhou Sheng came in, his dorm mates looked like they saw ghosts as they all stood up and left without a word.
Zhou Sheng carried a chair over to sit on while Fu Liqun just lied on Yu Hao’s bed straight away. Yu Hao went to collect Zhou Sheng’s clothes and passed it to him. Zhou sheng uttered a “wu” before he accepted it, then buried his head in his phone to send messages on QQ.
Yu Hao felt extremely guilty for dragging everyone into this, and for causing them to suffer so much.
Fu Liqun said, “Did you get any information out of her?”
Zhou Sheng cast a glance at Yu Hao, then placed his phone near his ear to listen to a voice message.
Yu Hao said, “Just a little bit more and she would’ve talked.”
Fu Liqun continued, “Her Dad’s very alert, he was so afraid that you would manage to fish some information out of his daughter. Kaikai was accompanying the officer as they smoked outside, but the officer had to leave all of a sudden after he received a call. If he had been around, that Shi guy wouldn’t have dared to go in.”
Yu Hao said, “I don’t know why…but I always feel like Shi Ni has something she wants to say.”
Fu Liqun said, “Then shall we go to her school to wait for her tomorrow? Do you know where her school is?”
Of course Yu Hao knew, it was a key primary school2 in the city centre. But after what had just happened, Mr. Shi would definitely be on high alert and may even shuttle her back and forth personally. The few of them probably wouldn’t be able to approach his daughter at all. He looked askance at Zhou Sheng — Zhou Sheng remained weirdly quiet and hadn’t uttered a single word until now.
“Redhead.” Fu Liqun said, “Stop chatting, think of something.”
Yu Hao looked at Zhou Sheng’s phone and only saw chunks of text on it. The other party was Chen Yekai. Chen Yekai had sent him tons of voice messages, and they were all 60 seconds long.
“Don’t be mad at him anymore.” Yu Hao quickly said, “I’m the one who let him down, Zhou Sheng!”
Zhou Sheng said, “I need to make it clear to him! Why is he disappointed in you?! I’m the one who hit the guy, it has nothing to do with you!”
Yu Hao was in a complete mess. In the past, he wouldn’t have dared to think that he could do such a thing.
“I’m sorry.” Zhou Sheng placed his phone in his pocket and said to Yu Hao.
“The one who should apologise is me.” Yu Hao said gloomily, “You got punished because of me.”
Zhou Sheng immediately said, “Then wash all my dirty clothes for me ba.”
Yu Hao, “Okay.”
Fu Liqun said, “I’ve always felt like Zhou Sheng should get punished though. So it’s great now, I finally feel at ease.”
Yu Hao, “……”
Zhou Sheng said, “The girl you talked about just now, what’s her situation?”
Yu Hao doesn’t know why but he always had a strange feeling about it. Shi Ni’s cries didn’t seem like they were cries of fear, but rather because she had been repressed for too long with a kind of grievance and sorrow, so she cried as a means of catharsis. But he didn’t have any feud with Mr. Shi, so the other party didn’t have any motive to instruct his daughter to frame him.
The three of them discussed here and there, but they still couldn’t reach a conclusion. During their discussion, the phone in the dorm rang. Yu Hao went to pick it up. It was Chen Yekai.
Chen Yekai’s anger had dissipated, he called to apologise to Yu Hao. He said on the phone, “I lost my mind just now. This matter has nothing to do with you, it’s all because of that bastard Zhou Sheng, we’re the victims here. Ask them to get their asses back to their own dorms and stop trying to stir up any more trouble. Do up your self-reflection.”
Yu Hao sneaked a look at the other two: Fu Liqun was sleeping on Yu Hao’s bed with his head covered, while Zhou Sheng had connected to the Wi-Fi in Yu Hao’s dorm to play some games as if nothing had happened.
Yu Hao kept saying “okay” and “okay” before he finally hung up the phone.
“He asked you guys to go back.” Yu Hao woke Fu Liqun up. Fu Liqun got off his bed groggily while Zhou Sheng said, “Let’s go eat.”
Zhou Sheng’s daily life was always accompanied by food. Yu Hao brought his cafeteria card and wanted to treat them to a meal, he still had some money left in his card. Although he couldn’t get his tutoring fees back, he had to pay for this meal. After dinner, Zhou Sheng passed him a huge pile of clothes.
Yu Hao wore his headphones and washed clothes from 8pm until the lights went out, but they were still soaking in a bucket. If it was just outerwear and T-shirts then so be it, but Zhou Sheng had even given him his socks and underwear……this was the first time Yu Hao was washing someone else’s socks and underwear, so his mood was rather complicated right now. If he had known Zhou Sheng in high school, he might have already thought of him as his boyfriend.
But Yu Hao wouldn’t fall in love at first sight with guys like Zhou Sheng. He wouldn’t be able to explain clearly what kind of type he liked either. Zhou Sheng might have been protecting him in all respects, but this “protection” display was too straight for him. Since he didn’t feel his heart palpitate with excitement for Zhou Sheng, he told himself that he was prohibited from liking him. He definitely couldn’t let Zhou Sheng know about his sexual orientation, or else he might find him disgusting.
Then what type do I like? The Liu Pengxuan type? Yu Hao thought of the Liu Pengxuan who was full of hatred as he stood in front of the gate and felt a bit surprised, I actually liked him in the past? What’s so good about him?
As he washed Zhou Sheng’s clothes, Yu Hao suddenly thought, does Zhou Sheng have a girlfriend? He couldn’t help but wish that he could be in a relationship. This was the first time in his life that he hoped for love so strongly. But perhaps, in this lifetime, there was already “someone” who had left an indelible mark in his conscious world — where is General? How is he doing? If it were possible, he might even ask General to enter Shi Ni’s dream to take a look, to find out what exactly had happened.
I can’t finish washing all these—aaaahhhhh—
The lights were going to be turned off soon, but Zhou Sheng’s clothes were still soaking in a huge bucket. Yu Hao hadn’t done anything that night aside from washing clothes, and he still needed to continue washing them tomorrow for the whole day. Thus, he could only go to bed helplessly.
1. This is different from straight up expelling the students, and like it’s name, it’s a form that ‘persuades’ the students to leave the institution. It’s usually written for students who committed a huge misgiving, won’t change no matter what or engaged in a huge fight etc. It’s a notch lighter than an expulsion↩
2. Key schools differ from ordinary schools in that key schools generally have better opportunities for their students, better environments, are more expensive etc.↩
T/N: Zhou Sheng didn’t start a fight because he was being impulsive or aggressive, he did it on purpose for a very good reason. SO DAMN SMART I CAN’T