In the evening, Ning Sheng had insomnia again.
It was so embarrassing. The more he thought about it, the harder it was to fall asleep.
Whenever he closed his eyes, the shameful things he had done today replayed endlessly in his mind.
It must be the influence of bad company, that was why he had even learned to throw a tantrum now.
His grandmother had been a refined and elegant lady in her early years, but Ning Sheng had never seen such a surprised expression on her face before.
“Okay, okay, okay.” His grandmother coaxed him, “You can have whatever you want.”
His grandmother even looked a bit relieved, “Our Ning Ning has learned to act spoiled a little. Tomorrow, Grandma will go and ask about that child named Xu Ling for you.”
It…. was embarrassing, but effective. The result turned out well.
Ning Sheng buried his face in his blanket and gradually fell asleep.
The next day, in Qing’an Town, there was a Maybach parked outside a car wash, and an elegantly dressed old lady got out of the car.
“Do you need your car washed?” Asked a man holding a high-pressure water hose, poking his head out from a car.
“No.” Ning Sheng’s grandmother shook her head, “Is Xu Ling your child?”
“….” The man, cigarette dangling from his mouth, pulled out a wallet from the drawer and took out a few bills, “How much?”
Ning Sheng’s grandmother was confused.
Xu Ling’s stepfather asked, “Beaten or bitten?”
“Grandma?” A head peeked out from under the car.
Xu Ling, chewing bubblegum, suddenly appeared.
He had seen her before. She was Ning Sheng’s grandmother.
“Is there any use claiming a family connection?” Xu Ling’s stepfather asked.
“No.” Ning Sheng’s grandmother caught on after a pause, feeling amused and helpless, “He didn’t beat up my child. I have something else to discuss with you.”
Holding a small piece of cloth Xu Ling haphazardly wiped a car while eavesdropping on the conversation between the two adults.
“Are you sure?” Xu Ling’s stepfather put out his cigarette, “Our Xu Ling might be a little… lively.”
“I thought about it yesterday.” Ning Sheng’s grandmother said, “Having him spend more time with our Ning Ning is a good thing, and Ning Ning likes him too.”
“Ning Ning was taken to a film set by his aunt last year and was injured by props. The doctor said he needed some time to recover before he can stand up again, so the child became a bit depressed and stopped talking.”
“But after getting to know your Xu Ling, he started acting like a child again. I originally thought having a playmate would be good, but he said only your child would do.”
“Xu Ling spends 300 of the 365 days a year in kindergarten standing in the corner.” Xu Ling’s stepfather paused, “But…..”
His gaze fell on the small figure by the car, “He’s okay.”
The result of this discussion was that Xu Ling could go with Ning Sheng for tutoring classes.
Xu Ling’s stepfather insisted on paying some tuition, but Ning Sheng’s grandmother declined, and in the end had to accept a basket of apples.
The winter break was really fun. Ning Sheng played games on his phone until he fell asleep, only to wake up and find an extra head lying next to him.
“Hey.” Xu Ling said.
Ning Sheng: “…”
“I’ve picked up your favorite little friend for you.” His grandmother said happily.
Ning Sheng reacted like a cat whose tail had been stepped on, “Who said I liked him?”
“Then we’re leaving.” His grandmother held Xu Ling’s hand.
Ning Sheng: “…”
“No, no, no!” Familiarity bred comfort. He crawled, rolling on the bed, whacking all three of the three-piece set on the bed.
“I can see you’re so anxious that it’s as if you’re about to kick the wheelchair and stand up.” His grandmother laughed, “You two have fun, I’ll go and talk to the tutor.”
His grandmother closed the bedroom door, leaving only Ning Sheng and his arch nemesis in the room.
Little by little, his face turned red.
So embarrassing, especially with Xu Ling watching. His cheeks burned.
Ning Sheng sized up the little devil king.
Anyway, Xu Ling wouldn’t know what they would be like in the future.
So what was there to be afraid of!
With that in mind, he comfortably sat up and asked Xu Ling to come and play games with him.
Before long, his grandmother brought a teacher into the room.
“The two of you come and take a look.” Ning Sheng’s grandmother waved, “Is there anything that interests you?”
The teacher played some videos showcasing various hobbies – music, chess, calligraphy, and painting – for them to choose from.
Ning Sheng considered it carefully.
The future big demon king actually had a lot of skills— he excelled in various sports, and social situations were a piece of cake.
The only area that he seemed to be lacking in was music.
So, he needed to fill that gap now.
When the screen reached the part about the violin, Ning Sheng pointed at it.
Sounds great and has excellent temperament. It’s you, violin.
Xu Ling: “?”
“What foreign language does Little Young Master Ning want to learn?” the teacher discussed with his grandmother, “There’s no bilingual kindergarten here, so how about learning some English?”
No, Xu Ling would probably pick that up naturally.
But there was this one time that Ning Sheng remembered when Xu Ling was being bad-mouthed in French by two Frenchmen after he had pressed them hard on an order form and Xu Ling didn’t understand.
Ning Sheng couldn’t stand people talking behind others’ backs, so he scolded both Xu Ling and the two men right on the spot.
The big demon king would probably hate him if that happened again.
So now, he rummaged in his snack bag and pulled out a box of chocolates with French labels.
“I want to learn this!” He declared.
His grandmother was surprised.
He got ready to roll around.
His grandmother: “…”
“Alright.” His grandmother said, “Let’s see how the children like it.”
From that day on, it was as if Ning Sheng’s grandmother had opened Pandora’s box, unleashing the world’s most unpleasant violin sounds.
After the New Year, spring arrived.
In the bedroom, Ning Sheng poured himself a glass of milk and turned to Xu Ling. “Keep playing, hurry!”
Xu Ling grabbed the violin bow and produced a raspy rendition of ‘The School Song’.
“Do you have a grudge against the violin?” Ning Sheng’s scalp tingled. “Why are you playing so vigorously?”
This wasn’t ‘The School Song’, it was ‘The Don’t Want To Learn’ song.
“Maybe.” Xu Ling said uncertainly. “It cut my fingers.”
“Little Young Master.” The caregiver knocked on the door, “The music teacher sprained her ankle today, so she asked for a leave.”
Ning Sheng: “?”
Asked for a leave?
“That’s great!” A voice chimed from beside him.
“Ning Ning, let’s go out.” Xu Ling suggested.
“Then little young master, come back early.” The caregiver reminded. “Mr. Ning and Mrs. Ning said they’re coming tonight.”
Ning Sheng: “I didn’t say I wanted to go out…”
But Xu Ling moved hurriedly, afraid that if he slowed down by even a second he would be dragged back for more lessons. He quickly pushed Ning Sheng out of the bedroom.
“Where are we going?” Ning Sheng asked.
The weather had turned warmer, and he was wearing only a thin light blue shirt with black shorts that covered his knees, revealing his slender, snow-white legs.
Perhaps due to his good mood, he was recovering faster than before, and he could now stand briefly with the support of a table. However Ning Sheng was lazy. If he could sit down, he definitely wouldn’t stand.
“We’re going to catch bugs.” The little devil king pushed his wheelchair and run like crazy.
Ning Sheng: “??”
“I’m not going!” He protested loudly.
But the protest seemed to be ineffective, as Xu Ling continued pushing him to the edge of a field outside the town.
The field stretched across the mountains, and the early spring scenery was quite pleasant.
“You catch them yourself.” Ning Sheng told him.
He preferred to bask in the sun and feel the breeze.
Xu Ling didn’t need him to say it. He darted into the field and disappeared quickly.
On the edge of the field was a small road, and as people passed by, they glanced at Ning Sheng from time to time.
A car drove by, reversed slightly, then the window rolled down, revealing the expressionless face of the math nerd, Li Haoyue.
“Ning Sheng, good afternoon.” Li Haoyue asked him, “Want to solve some math problems?”
“No.” Ning Sheng smiled. “I came here to catch bugs with Xu Ling.”
“Okay then.” The car drove off.
“Sure enough, you really want to catch bugs.” Xu Ling appeared out of nowhere, his closed fist coming close to Ning Sheng’s face.
“Take it away!” Ning Sheng’s hair was practically standing on ends.
Xu Ling opened his hand, and instead of the green caterpillar Ning Sheng had imagined, a light purple butterfly flew out, circling in front of him before fluttering its wings and flying away.
It was actually… quite beautiful.
“I’ll go and catch another one for you.” Xu Ling said.
Ning Sheng noticed a few fresh blood streaks on his hand, likely from the weeds he had been touching.
“It’s ugly.” Ning Sheng told him, “I don’t want it.”
“Wipe your hands.” He said, “There’s pollen everywhere.”
The little devil king smiled awkwardly and wiped his hands on his own pants.
“Let’s go play something else then.” And then Ning Sheng’s wheelchair was pushed away once more.
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