Cheng Yu silently opened his eyes without moving to look at Lin An Lan.
He could see Lin An Lan’s firm spine and his lean back, but he couldn’t see his face or the look in his eyes.
But… he guessed that he was looking at Jiang Xu very seriously and gazing at him very gently.
He’d never met anyone like that before, much less a friend like that.
No one had ever told him, ‘I’ll feel sorry if you let yourself go’, and even more so no one had ever told him ‘you can’t ruin yourself for someone else’.
Cheng Yu had always known that he was smart, so he could easily get into the rocket class even if he didn’t study much.
But he also knew all along that he was living without passion, living in self-loathing, and in self-exile.
He consumed his time and intelligence indulging himself in a game of boredom and dullness.
He envied the others who had parents to control them, to restrain them, to allow them to do this, to disallow them to do that.
But his mother was long gone.
And his father never bothered himself with these things either.
His maternal grandparents, his paternal grandparents, all his relatives had their own businesses, so even if they knew that he wasn’t serious about his studies, they would only think that it didn’t matter whether he studied or not.
The most negative time for Cheng Yu had been when he didn’t study for half a semester, didn’t take exams, and skipped classes more often than he ate.
His teacher had told him to call his parents, and he had called Cheng Feng, who in turn said that such a trivial matter wasn’t worth a phone call.
Then he equipped the school’s lab with new equipment, making the principal very happy and that was the end of it.
Xu Sheng and the others were envious but Cheng Yu wasn’t happy at all.
He obviously had a family, but no one cared about him. No one cared if he was growing up right and no one cared what he was thinking every day.
It was obvious that he had gone astray, but no one stood up for him and told him to go back to the right path.
He was sad and lost.
He felt like a marooned boat and even if he ever hit a rock or got swept up into a whirlpool, no one would help him turn around before he was swallowed up.
He wanted discipline, a steerer, a normal family environment, a pair of parents who would criticise him when he did something wrong and praise him when he did something right.
But he didn’t have that.
So he gave up on his studies in hopes that one day Cheng Feng would discipline him for it.
But it wasn’t Cheng Feng who disciplined him but Yu Heng.
Yu Heng, who had been unhappy with his state for a while said, “Xiao Yu, although we all know that as long as your name is Cheng Yu then it doesn’t matter if you study or not or what your grades are, I want you to get better grades.”
“You’re smart, you shouldn’t waste your smarts when you could be great with a little effort, so why make yourself someone people look down on?”
“Of course, grades aren’t the only criteria by which someone is judged but in the context of you being a student, grades are one of the most common criteria by which you will be judged. You’re my brother and I don’t want people to denigrate you because they can’t see how smart you are and only see the gaps in your grades.”
“We both know that you can be a better person, so don’t give those who are worse than you the right to denigrate you. They don’t deserve it, understand?”
Yu Heng spoke very gently as he continued, “I don’t want to be the only one who can see how smart my brother is, I want others to see it as well.”
Because of his words, Cheng Yu stopped himself from going further and further off course and got back on the right track.
He felt that Yu Heng was right in saying that he shouldn’t give people who were inferior to him the right to denigrate him, that they didn’t deserve it.
But he also knew very well that the more Yu Heng trusted him, the less he would care about him.
This cousin of his was the best person in the entire Yu family’s younger generation. He had a strong psychological profile, superb self-control, care for his younger siblings, compassion for his family, and seemed to have no other flaws except for his ruthlessness towards outsiders.
He was too strong for his own good, so in his opinion his younger siblings should be strong as well, especially his younger brother. After all, he wasn’t a girl, he couldn’t guess what a little girl was thinking, but he was a boy and he thought his brother should be just like him.
But Cheng Yu knew very well that they weren’t the same. He knew he was very different from Yu Heng and that he didn’t possess the same mental strength Yu Heng had.
Yu Heng never bothered with such things. What he had, he cherished… what he didn’t have, he either didn’t care at all or he found a way to get.
He wouldn’t trap himself in other people’s mistakes as he was always determined and fearless.
Cheng Yu couldn’t do that, and he couldn’t tell him what he wanted. He could only suppress his innermost desires and satisfy Yu Heng’s demands while allowing his heart to be barren.
However, he saw Lin An Lan.
For the first time, he knew that what he wanted didn’t have to come from his family or relatives.
It could also come from friends.
So he had asked Xu Sheng, “If I don’t study hard and all I want to do is to surf the internet or hang out with hooligans, will you try to persuade me to go back to the right path and study hard?”
Xu Sheng looked at him in shock then said honestly, “Brother, let’s be sensible, even if you don’t study well, you’re still better than me. I didn’t get into the AP class because I was at the top of my grade, but because my father donated a building. You entered the class by your strength through the exams. I, give you advice! I’m not worthy!”
Cheng Yu laughed a little as he said, “Didn’t I say what if?”
“There can’t be a what if.” Xu Sheng swore with conviction, “Brother Heng won’t allow that to happen.”
Cheng Yu unconsciously sighed inwardly, thinking to himself, his friend didn’t actually know him.
It was clear that he was now on this ‘what if’ path but his friend still thought that such a thing wouldn’t happen.
He was just toeing to Yu Heng’s line in the game. What Yu Heng wanted was for others to see how smart and good he was, so he demanded that he had to get into the AP class and not give people who were worse than him the right to laugh at him.
Cheng Yu got into the AP class just as he wanted, and sat in the seat available in the class.
But he didn’t study hard either. He still skipped class, surfed the internet, read comics, and lived every day without any meaning.
And yet he wished he could live each day to the fullest. Only, what he was missing was a friend like Lin An Lan.
He watched Lin An Lan and saw him supervise Jiang Xu’s studies at the end of each class and also saw him pull Jiang Xu back every time he started to go astray.
Lin An Lan forbade him from hanging out with the punks he knew before.
He also forbade him from going to internet cafes before his final exams.
He forbade him from smoking or drinking and he also forbade him from going to places like bars.
Jiang Xu obediently complied with all his rules. It was clear that he had obviously been similar to him before he got back on the right track and turned into a different person.
He was still playing games online with his internet friends but Jiang Xu had long since stopped going to that internet cafe.
He was still drinking and partying with his friends into the early hours of the morning, but Jiang Xu never showed up at that bar again.
He was still in self-loathing and self-exile, but Jiang Xu was already living like a normal student.
What was the difference between them?
They used to run into each other after school, but suddenly one day he didn’t see him anymore.
Because Jiang Xu had a Lin An Lan.
A Lin An Lan who would control him, discipline him, guide him, correct him, pick him up and take him home.
Lin An Lan lived a sober and correct life so Jiang Xu became the most ordinary and enviable high school student.
It was really as he had said — Lin An Lan will come and pick me up.
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