“We used to be classmates, do you still remember?”
When Ning Sheng heard these words from his arch-nemesis Xu Ling’s mouth, his eyes widened ever so slightly.
They had just gone through an intense tug-of-war in the conference room, escalating from friendly business negotiations to personal attacks.
To the point where he was now contemplating whether to pour boiling water on the money tree in Xu Ling’s office.
He ran through his memories of primary and high school in his head and confirmed that there was no trace of him.
“I only remember people, not dogs.” He replied.
“Would you even talk to a dog if it approached you?” Xu Ling scoffed as he sat down on the leather sofa, loosening his tie.
Beneath the rolled-up cuffs, a muscular forearm protruded, adorned with a cold-toned business watch. “Young Master Ning forgets easily.”
A financial magazine lay on the office desk, and the open page featured a journalist’s interview with Xu Ling.
Ning Sheng saw a photo of Xu Ling in a black suit, stern and handsome, with captions like “promising youth.” “strong presence.” and “industry pioneer” catching his eye.
If you were classmates with someone like this, you wouldn’t forget, right?
What nonsense was Xu Ling spouting?
The lengthy meeting left him feeling a bit dizzy, and his stomach felt uncomfortable. He rubbed his eyes.
A cup of hot cocoa was pushed in front of him by Xu Ling, brushing against his lips, its warm fragrance tickling his senses.
“Take a sip or two.” Xu Ling said. “Your lips are turning pale.”
“No need.” Ning Sheng’s gaze flicked to that well-defined hand, and he turned his head away. “Who knows if you’ve poisoned it.”
But as he stood up, his vision darkened, and he staggered to the side.
Nice. If he fell like that, he’d either have a bump on his head or a lump on his pride.
But it seemed like someone caught him, and drowsiness gradually enveloped him.
“Mom, I don’t want to go to school!”
“Teacher, how do I pull up my pants…”
“5 + 7 equals… woo, teacher, I don’t have enough fingers.”
“Equals 12, huh!” Ning Sheng was abruptly awakened by a math problem, surrounded by chattering voices. He opened his eyes.
This layout, these colors, it was just like the Golden Sun Kindergarten he attended when he was a child.
He vaguely remembered his teacher back then, a young lady called Miss Zhang.
“Miss Zhang, someone’s dad picked up the wrong child in your class!” Someone shouted at the door.
A young girl with a high ponytail hurried out, “Why didn’t he recognize the wrong dad at home?”
Ning Sheng: ?
Wow, there really was a Miss Zhang.
Was this, kindergarten still in its original state?
Ning Sheng rubbed his temples with some confusion and noticed a plush toy on his lap.
A small toy dog, a gift from his grandmother when he was five years old.
The dog still looked new, with the price tag attached to its butt.
So, he was back to when he was five years old?
He needed a cookie to calm down.
There happened to be cookies on the colorful plastic table, already unpacked and smelling good.
Ning Sheng planned to eat a couple and stop, but his hand holding the cookie was held back by someone.
“You took an extra one, put it down!” A voice whispered in his ear.
Ning Sheng turned his head toward the voice and found another child sitting at his table.
The child glared at him, pointing at the cookie in his hand, pulling his collar, looking angrily irritated, with a familiar annoying charm in his eyebrows and eyes.
“Xu… Ling?” Ning Sheng asked uncertainly.
“You got it right.” The other nodded, confirming the name. “But there’s no reward.”
Xu Ling pried his fingers open and took the cookie away.
Ning Sheng looked around and then at Xu Ling. He had never expected that when Xu Ling said that they were classmates, he was talking about their kindergarten days.
However, the child beside him, dressed in a black down jacket, with thin lips pressed tightly and sitting upright, guarding the cookies on the table, did seem to have a bit of a young CEO vibe about him.
He wasn’t the type to get lost in a crowd.
But why did he have no recollection of Xu Ling?
“I don’t care about your cookies.” Ning Sheng said. “Understand?”
Leaving aside everything else, mature adults didn’t stoop to a child’s level.
Xu Ling rummaged through a drawer with a clatter, seemingly ignoring his words.
“Hey, is there a clock in the classroom?” He asked Xu Ling. “Do you know what a clock is?”
He didn’t even know the time after being reborn.
“You want to know the time? You should have said so earlier!” Xu Ling seemed a bit surprised that he was talking to him, turning towards him and rolling up the cuff of his down jacket.
Yes, this was definitely Xu Ling. He started wearing a watch at such a young age; it’s no wonder he was so punctual and efficient later on. He even scolded him for being a minute late during a business meeting some time ago.
Ning Sheng leaned in to take a look.
Ning Sheng: …
He temporarily fell into an awkward silence.
“Your watch is quite nicely drawn.” Ning Sheng said sarcastically after a while, “although it seems like you have a few too many second hands.”
“Thank you.” Xu Ling pulled back his hand, rolled the cuff back down, and pulled out a box of watercolor pens. He poked Ning Sheng’s hand with it. “Do you want to try?”
Ning Sheng’s mouth twitched, and he tucked his hand into his pocket. “No thanks.”
Xu Ling said, “You can also draw on your neck if you try hard enough.”
Ning Sheng tightened his scarf. “I don’t want any at all!”
“Then do it tomorrow.” Xu Ling stuffed his messy pile of watercolor pens into his backpack, picked up the cookie on the table, and snapped it into two pieces with a crisp sound.
Ning Sheng was lost in thought when half of a cookie was pushed in front of him.
“I’ll lend you half.” Xu Ling said reluctantly. “Give me back two halves tomorrow.”
Ning Sheng: ?
A bad habit. At a young age he had already started to lend items at an excessively high rate of interest.
I already said I don’t want any!
“Xu Ling!” A clear shout came from the classroom door, and heads popped out one by one, yelling angrily, “What are you doing?”
“Come on, Xu Ling, don’t dawdle, hurry up!”
Ning Sheng was startled by the shouts.
“I’ll talk to you later.” Xu Ling said nonchalantly.
Then, as if something had triggered in him, Xu Ling kicked his own chair, grabbed a mineral water bottle, and rushed out.
“Let’s go, guys!” Xu Ling led a group of people. “We’re going to challenge the older class!”
Ning Sheng: “…..”
Ning Sheng: “…..”
A crowd of young children bravely charged into the neighboring classroom, singing the anthem of the lone warriors.
Ning Sheng buried his face in his hands, speechless.
The big boss Xu Ling, who never showed his emotions and could silence the entire business world with a single look, used to behave like this when he was a child?
In his memory, such overly lively monkeys were generally referred to as “exceptional classmates”.
Where did Xu Ling get the nerve to ask if he remembered being classmates with him?
The cookies were delicious, and Ning Sheng didn’t waste any. However this stuff was so crispy that it left crumbs all over his hands. He wanted to go to the bathroom to wash up but couldn’t get up.
He looked at the wheelchair beneath him, deep in thought.
He remembered now. When he was five years old, he had a little accident that left him with limited mobility, so he used a wheelchair for a few years.
It was during that time that he was sent to his grandmother’s place in the countryside for recovery and spent a few years studying in this small town in the mountains.
However, during that period, he was a bit withdrawn because of his condition and didn’t interact much with the people around him, so his memories of this place were not very clear.
It couldn’t be helped; what adults considered a fleeting moment could be a significant hurdle within certain age groups.
Teacher Zhang was not around to help push the wheelchair at the moment.
Ning Sheng wasn’t the withdrawn child he used to be. Now, caught between crawling in the shadows and seeking help, he chose to be self-reliant. He wheeled himself in the direction of the bathroom.
Underneath a low wall outside the big classroom, a row of disheveled youngsters stood in punishment.
“Xu Ling.” A chubby child wearing a black and white checkered coat that resembled a soccer ball spoke up, “I just saw you talking to the princess.”
“We had a long conversation.” Xu Ling replied nonchalantly, correcting the soccer ball.
“The princess actually acknowledged someone today.” The soccer ball said with envy. “Usually, he looks at us like we’re invisible.”
“That’s you guys.” Xu Ling retorted.
The soccer ball flattered, “Indeed, he looks at you, Xu Ge, as if you’re bad luck.”
Ning Sheng was a transfer student in their Middle School’s kindergarten’s class. Unlike the children who grew up in this small town, Ning Sheng was clean and handsome, with fair skin and delicate features.
But Ning Sheng didn’t speak and he couldn’t walk. He was like a princess from a fairy tale, guarding his throne, not touching the ground, aloof from the mundane world.
“Last time I passed by halfway up the mountain, the princess’s house was so big. They must have lots of snacks at his place.” The soccer ball said, drooling. “Right, Xu Ling?”
Xu Ling ignored the soccer ball and instead turned his gaze toward the slide.
Ning Sheng was sitting in his wheelchair, a black scarf wrapped high, covering his jaw and mouth. His black hair was slightly long, and only a pair of clear and innocent eyes, like a small kitten’s were visible.
The temperature wasn’t high, and despite the scarf, his curved fingers touched his mouth, coughing twice. His five fingers were red from the cold, contrasting with his fair complexion.
Ning Sheng had underestimated his stamina at this age. The wheelchair was heavy and after pushing it for a while, he ran out of energy. He had to stop by the slide to rest, with the cold wind making him want to cough.
“Do you want to go back to the classroom?” A figure suddenly appeared.
“Did you fall into the trash can?” Ning Sheng asked in disgust.
In just a short time, Xu Ling’s hair was disheveled, his clothes had dirt spots, and his little hands were all grimy. “How is that possible?”
Xu Ling, “The school’s trash cans are very clean.”
“…. Stay away from me.” Ning Sheng had always been a clean freak.
Besides, who would want help from their arch-nemesis?
“Leave me alone.” He said, “I’m sunbathing.”
The winter wind howled, sweeping away a few leaves.
“Fine.” Xu Ling ran off.
Ning Sheng struggled to move in the direction of the classroom, determined to replace this thing with an electric one today.
He was breathing heavily then noticed that his white down jacket’s cuffs had picked up some dirt at some point.
His arch-nemesis was annoying whether he was a child or an adult.
As he scolded Xu Ling in his head, a flat and round golden object suddenly fell from the sky and landed on his lap.
Ning Sheng: ? What the hell is this?
Xu Ling returned, repeatedly wiping his hands on his clothes. Then he pushed Ning Sheng’s wheelchair.
“There won’t be any sun in the sky today.” Xu Ling told him, “It’s so cold outside. Take this, and you can sunbathe in the classroom.”
Lying on Ning Sheng’s lap was a plastic sun with a golden shell about the size of a plate.
Ning Sheng fell silent.
He didn’t drive Xu Ling away but allowed him to push the wheelchair towards the classroom.
His frozen index finger touched the cold plastic sun on his lap.
It seemed like the younger Xu Ling wasn’t as annoying all the time.
“This doesn’t have any warmth, so you can’t sunbathe with it, do you understand?” he whispered.
They were close to the classroom now, and the warmth from inside was palpable. Ning Sheng’s lips rose slightly, then he heard the familiar booming voice of Teacher Zhang:
“Who removed the sunflower logo next to our Golden Sun Kindergarten’s entrance?”
Ning Sheng: “…..”
Suddenly, the “sun” in his hand felt hot.
Translator: Hi all, thank you for accompanying me on my new journey where I know I’ll be stressed. I’ll be a bit slow (slow 🦥) but