“Here to buy watermelons?” Ding Ji had to put down the watermelon peel in his hand, looking up as he asked.



Lin Wuyu used to see scenes like this on the side of the street—one or several mopeds, a few young people who seemed to be idling about, either sitting or squatting or standing, or holding cigarettes or pinching beer cans.

He never understood what these sorts of seemingly time-wasting and extremely boring gatherings were about, and what exactly they were doing.

Now, though, he understood a part of it.

Him and Ding Ji, other than the fact that there was a slightly smaller number of people and cars.

He sat on the moped’s seat, while Ding Ji squatted on the sidewalk.

Unable to go home, and unwilling to go back to his dorm. 

After exchanging a few words, they fell into a not very awkward but prolonged silence.



“Can you stand up?” Lin Wuyu asked Ding Ji.

“Why?” Ding Ji said.

“I don’t know,” said Lin Wuyu. “I just feel like our appearance seems like we’re waiting for someone to summon us and instantly jump up to get in a group fight.”

“That’s not true,” Ding Ji replied expertly. “At a glance, that’s not you, and I might look a little like it, but I never take part in group fights with less than ten people on my side when I set out.”

“…Why?” Lin Wuyu was a little curious.

“It’s obvious,” Ding Ji tsked impatiently. “Haven’t you been in a fight before? With fewer people, your target is bigger. It’s safer with more people. If there’s even more people, I can stand to the side on my phone.”

Lin Wuyu cracked up.



Ding Ji’s phone began to sing in his pocket.

Lin Wuyu was surprised to hear that this was Grandma Zhao Lirong’s [1] voice.

In spring, flowers bloom, fourteen fifteen sixteen… [2]

“I’m done for.” Ding Ji took out his phone and looked at it. “It’s my mom.”

“How?” Lin Wuyu asked.

“Forgot to tell her I’m not going back for dinner,” Ding Ji said.

“Ah.” Lin Wuyu felt a little apologetic. “Why don’t you answer and I’ll help explain for you?”

“Explain my ass.” Ding Ji pressed mute and put the phone back in his pocket. “It’s fine.”

“Why don’t you go back?” Lin Wuyu said. “I have to go back to my dorm. I have a box of things I haven’t unpacked yet.”

“Then I’ll take you back to school,” Ding Ji said.



Lin Wuyu had never driven a moped before, and he had never sat in the back seat of a moped either.

Today he had sat in the back seat twice, and surprisingly he was rather touched.

Compared to when he used to carry his suitcase to school from home, sitting in the back seat now, he felt much more relaxed. 

Maybe it was because he was full, or maybe it was because things were already irreversible.

Maybe it was just that Ding Ji had roughly hung up the call that he was incapable of handling neatly.



Ding Ji’s car was driving very fast, and his t-shirt was being filled with wind and puffing up.

Lin Wuyu pulled his shirt down.

As soon as he let go, the shirt puffed up again.

Pull again, puff again.

“Do you have OCD or something?” asked Ding Ji.

“No.” Lin Wuyu didn’t let go this time. “Your clothes are almost in my face.”

“It’s not like it’s dirty,” Ding Ji said.

“I didn’t say it was dirty, either.” Lin Wuyu pulled on his waistband and stuffed the hem of his shirt in.

“What are you doing!” Ding Ji slammed on the brakes and turned his head, on alert.

Lin Wuyu raised his hands and didn’t say anything.

“Why aren’t you this particular when you take other people’s water and drink it?” Ding Ji frowned and tucked all of his shirt hems into his waistband. “You’re so troublesome.”



When they got to the school gate, Ding Ji stopped his moped while pulling his clothes out of his waistband.

So particular.

Lin Wuyu smiled: “Sorry about today.”

“Nothing to be sorry about.” Ding Ji waved a hand. “It wasn’t much for me either.”

“Then I’ll…” Lin Wuyu pointed to the school gate.

“Byebye,” Ding Ji said.

Lin Wuyu turned around and walked a couple steps, then stopped. After two seconds, he walked back: “I have a question I want to ask.”

“Ask it.” Ding Ji looked at him.

“You can see brothers and sisters or whatever from palms, right?” Lin Wuyu looked at his palm. “Then can you see anything else?”

“For example?” asked Ding Ji.

“For example,” Lin Wuyu stopped for a long time, then looked at him and said, “whether they’re still alive?”

Ding Ji was stunned.

“What you calculated with copper coins that day was that he hadn’t been and wouldn’t be in the area for two years,” said Lin Wuyu. “Then…”


“Eight characters of destiny [3].” Ding Ji got off of the moped, took out his phone, took a picture of Lin Wuyu’s hand, and another one of his face. “What’s your brother’s name?”

“Did you take this opportunity to secretly photograph me?” Lin Wuyu asked.

“Here here here.” Ding Ji handed him his phone. “I’ll give you a chance to delete it yourself.”

Lin Wuyu didn’t answer, smiling.

“What’s your brother’s name?” Ding Ji asked again.

“Lin Zhan.” When Lin Wuyu said this name, it felt very strange.

Since the disappearance of “your brother,” this name was hardly ever mentioned again at home. On one hand, they thought that Lin Zhan was a genius and could deal with all the difficulties in the world. On the other hand, they didn’t dare to imagine that Lin Zhan’s physical condition could be healthy and safe for so many years.

But for unknown reasons, after changing the address to “your brother,” it was like they had entered a state of self-hypnosis. Your brother wasn’t Lin Zhan, your brother wasn’t that missing child, your brother was the person you would never and could never surpass.

He was the reason why you came to this world, he was also the reason why you were neglected, he was the source of pressure when you did anything.



When arguing, Lin Wuyu was very certain, and firm too, all “I have the final say.”

But he also had to admit that, after all, he was only a third year in high school, and his emotions were inevitably affected.

After taking his luggage back to the dorm, Chen Mang and his roommates cleaned up the junk cabinet for him to put things in. No one asked much and he didn’t say much.

Usually he would talk to Xu Tianbo. There were lots of things they would talk about, roasting and complaining, but he hadn’t even told Xu Tianbo about this incident.

There weren’t that many days before the exam, and he didn’t want anyone’s emotions to be affected because of him. 

In the past two days, he hadn’t been able to find a rhythm to his studying. He sat alone at the edge of the sports field, wanting to go over some questions in his mind, but even after a few minutes, he was unable to focus his attention. He had no choice but to pick up the book and stare at it unwaveringly, word by word.



It was only on the fourth day that Lao Lin went to the field to find him.

“Let’s talk.” Lao Lin sat beside him.

“I’ll adjust in a few days, a week at most,” Lin Wuyu said.

“There is no extra week,” said Lao Lin. “There’s not that much time for you to adjust.”

Lin Wuyu didn’t speak.

“I originally didn’t want to find you, but I had to,” said Lao Lin. “This incident really is a pretty big move, let’s not say empty words. In any case, comforting and stuff works for others, but it doesn’t mean much to you. I can’t handle that mind and logic of yours.”

“Don’t flatter me.” Lin Wuyu laughed.

“If this was flattering, your butt would be too swollen to look at [4],” Lao Lin said, hugging his shoulders with a smile. “Let’s be straightforward, I went to your house to talk to your parents. The conversation was very unfriendly, and I felt like if I kept talking they would go to the Education Bureau to complain about me. I don’t think there can be any softening on their side. Your family’s in a special situation.”

“Mm.” Lin Wuyu nodded.



“No matter what, you have a strong sense of independence in all aspects. Their attitude won’t have any substantial impact on you. What affects you is yourself,” said Lao Lin. “The way you study and review is different from others in and of itself. The time you spent adjusting this time is too long for you. It’s not your style.”

Lin Wuyu glanced at him.

“I can only directly force you,” said Lao Lin. “There’s less than a week until the third mock exam, looking back at your godlike second mock results, if your third mock isn’t godlike can you even look me in the eye anymore?”

“Lin-ge,” Lin Wuyu couldn’t help laughing, “what did I do to you?”

“What’s our relationship?” Lao Lin’s fingers swept back and forth between them. “What relationship?”

“Teacher and student, recognized as brothers,” Lin Wuyu said.

“We’re brothers,” said Lao Lin. “When you were a first year in high school, I said that when it came to recommendations or whatever, this and that, don’t look for Lin Wuyu’s. You have to leave a strong mark on my teaching career so I can boast to other parents in the future.”

“Mm.” Lin Wuyu nodded with a smile.

“Alright, I won’t hold you up anymore.” Lao Lin stood up. “I’m going to say something very serious.”

“Say it.” Lin Wuyu looked at him.

“There’s really no more time, Lin Wuyu,” Lao Lin said. “Come on, you know you don’t need to prove anything to anyone, but you’ve said before that when it comes to your affairs, you have the final say, and you want to be in charge.”

“You know me so well.” Lin Wuyu pushed his glasses up.

“This line of yours made your mother so angry that she told me seven or eight times,” Lao Lin said.

“I keep my promises,” Lin Wuyu said.



“You talk like you’re farting.” Grandma frowned. “Not accurate at all!”

“What did I do wrong? I just miss you all.” Ding Ji was lying on the sofa, holding Shi Xiangyang’s problem set in one hand and making calculations on the coffee table with a pen in the other. “Don’t you miss me? I came back to see you and I get this treatment.”

“You just don’t want to go back!” Grandma said. “Your dad said you just won’t answer the phone. Why won’t you answer him? Not going home for dinner and not saying anything.”

“I don’t want to argue with them. Besides,” Ding Ji frowned, “today, a friend of mine just had a fight with his family and came out. If I perform a live argument with my family in front of him, isn’t it adding to his stress?”

“Not necessarily.” Grandpa was leisurely making tea to the side. “Maybe if he saw that there were people who were as unhappy as him, he would feel better at once.”



“Look at these words, that’s me,” Ding Ji said, laughing. “This person is different.”

“How so? Is it a new friend?” asked Grandpa.

“Mm.” Ding Ji thought for a moment. “The person I asked Grandma to calculate for is his brother, but Grandma wouldn’t help me calculate.”

“Then didn’t you sneakily calculate it yourself?” said Grandma. “Did you think I didn’t know?”

“If you have time to calculate again, it seems that his brother…” Ding Ji furrowed his brows, “affects him quite a lot, and he’s about to take the college entrance exam.”

“You still know that, huh!” Grandma yelled, and then realized that they had already gone off topic, quickly turned the subject around. “Not coming home! Not studying…”

“Hey!” Ding Ji sat up at once and looked at Grandma.

“You studied, you studied, my grandson’s face is all sharp from exhaustion.” Grandma immediately held his face. “Your parents always wrong you.”

“If you have time, help calculate it, Grandma.” Ding Ji took out a piece of paper from his pocket. “Name, eight characters of destiny and stuff, the things you need are all written here.”

“What kind of friend is this, only knowing him for a few days and still this determined?” Grandma was reluctant, but she still folded the paper away.



Why was he so determined?

He didn’t know.

Was he determined?

He didn’t know, eh.

Ding Ji drove his moped home. It wouldn’t be long before the college entrance exam, and he didn’t want to argue with his parents about studying.

Was it because they had similar experiences?

That probably wasn’t the case. Lin Wuyu’s parents were different from Mom and Dad, or in other words they were the opposite.

They didn’t seem to care about Lin Wuyu.

While Mom and Dad placed too many expectations on him and had too many unrealistic demands.



It wasn’t really unrealistic, either. Ding Ji actually didn’t know where his upper limit was. After all, he had never tried his best.

He had absolutely no idea how far he could go.

He just didn’t want to be followed too closely, didn’t need those expectations and forced affirmations that utterly didn’t consider his point of view.



But speaking of trying his best.

This period of time could probably be considered trying his best. He’d even done the lousy problems Shi Xiangyang had given him.

Although it was because Lin Wuyu said he also had them that he went to do them himself, since after all, an academic god was more reliable than Shi Xiangyang.

Heheheh.

Ding Ji pulled out the phone that had been shaking in his pocket and saw clearly that it wasn’t a call from home, it was Liu Jinpeng.

He stopped his vehicle on the side of the road and answered the phone: “Pengpeng?”

“Did you go back to your grandma’s house just now!” Liu Jinpeng hollered.

“Mhm,” replied Ding Ji. “I’m going back to my parents’ house now. If I don’t go back, they’ll explode and maybe even drive me out of the house. Then you’ll have to come with me to pack my bags…”

“Isn’t all your stuff at your grandmother’s house?” Liu Jinpeng said.

“You have brains, huh,” Ding Ji said.

“I’ve still got my brains, but whether they’re good or not is another story.” Liu Jinpeng laughed. “If you have time in the next couple of days, come find me over at the mini-park and take some watermelons back for your grandparents.”

“Watermelons?” Ding Ji was startled.

“My uncle got a few trucks of watermelons,” Liu Jinpeng said. “I’m helping him sell them, on the fruit street next to the mini-park.”

“Alright,” said Ding Ji. “I’ll come find you in two days.”



Inspired by Liu Jinpeng, Ding Ji went home with two watermelons from the watermelon stand downstairs.

Since he was carrying classmate Shi Xiangyang’s problem set with him, as well as the watermelons, his parents’ anxiety and anger were smoothed down a bit. 

Ding Ji seized the opportunity to enter his room before they snapped out of it, closing the door.

Before he started studying, he took out his phone, printed out Lin Wuyu’s face and hands with a photo printer, and stared at it for a while.

Those who knew would understand that he was thinking about Lin Wuyu’s brother, but those who didn’t would probably think he was having some thoughts about Lin Wuyu. 

…Lin Wuyu was actually gay.

It really was surprising.

You couldn’t tell at all.



But there were some at his school too. In the class next door, there was a boy who was very handsome and had a rather flamboyant personality, wearing fashionable clothes every day and even wearing makeup sometimes. Many people would point him out, although Ding Ji didn’t have any prejudices, and in year two he’d even helped him take the initiative to get someone to shut up. 

But this person didn’t thank him, and the next day he even avoided him.

It was very irritating.

However, after social figure Liu Jinpeng’s analysis, it was probably because he was afraid of people saying they were having an affair and didn’t want to implicate him.

Ding Ji was pretty satisfied with this sad explanation.

Today, Lin Wuyu was about the same, afraid of being misunderstood.

Although…Lin Wuyu hadn’t necessarily avoided him.

Yo!

Ding Ji raised his eyebrows.

Did he actually fall for me?



“You’re thinking too much, aren’t you?” Lin Wuyu stood at the edge of the railing, holding his phone. “The police mean that we’re ones who found the child, the reporters. Now that the child is settled down, we can go and have a look if we want to see him. Who’s asking you to claim your son?”

“Did I say I was going to claim him as my son?” sighed Ding Ji. “You didn’t explain it clearly, either, I thought the police were looking to bother me!”

“…Did you do some shameful, shady business in the past or something?” Lin Wuyu held back a smile.

“Are you going?” Ding Ji asked. “To see the kid.”

“I…” Lin Wuyu hesitated for a moment. He didn’t really want to see the child, not wanting to observe a life that was unneeded from the start. But in order not to let Ding Ji think that he was a cold-blooded and heartless person, he nodded. “I’ll go.”

This hesitation made Ding Ji tsk.

Lin Wuyu let out a sigh.

“If you come find me, I’ll drive you over,” Ding Ji said. “You know the fruit street next to the mini-park, right?”

“I do,” Lin Wuyu said.



Liu Jinpeng’s watermelon stand was a little pathetic. Because he was only selling a single car, he only rented a floor spread that didn’t even have a cart. All the watermelons were piled on the ground, with just a small stool and a worn bag to store cash, as well a QR code for collecting money thrown on the watermelon pile.

Ding Ji couldn’t really understand. Liu Jinpeng usually didn’t set up stands, so how did he find this sort of worn bag in the span of one night, making him look like he had been squatting here selling fruits for eight years?

“It’s pretty sweet.” Ding Ji liked eating watermelons, sitting on the small stool and gnawing away half of one in less than a few minutes.

“Da-Dong said that it was a boy,” said Liu Jinpeng. “Did he not get adopted?”

“He probably has some sort of illness or defect,” Ding Ji said. “After all, most people adopt children because they need children, not out of compassion.”

Liu Jinpeng sighed.

Ding Ji buried his head to eat for a while. In his peripheral vision, he saw someone standing in front of the watermelon stand. Liu Jinpeng didn’t say hello either. It was unclear if he was still immersed in sympathy for the poor child.

“Here to buy watermelons?” Ding Ji had to put down the watermelon peel in his hand, looking up as he asked.

“No,” Lin Wuyu answered, standing in front of the watermelons.



When Ding Ji saw the expression on his face, he knew that in Lin Wuyu’s heart, his character was starting to change.

According to analysis, the worn money-collecting bag was at his feet, the small stool he was sitting on was the only seat at the watermelon stand, occupying the CEO seat. He had even skillfully greeted a customer.

So a conclusion could be drawn.

He had finally listened to the academic god’s sincere advice and evolved from an idle, swindling demigod to a watermelon peddler.

His life was starting to have a good direction.

Or at least he was earning his own living.


Footnotes:

[1] Chinese singer and film actress.

[2] Lyrics from the opera “Flowers as Matchmakers” (花为媒).

[3] Numbers from birth data for astrology, from year, month, day, hour, heavenly trunk and earthly branch.

[4] Flattering is 拍马屁, which literally translates to slapping a horse’s ass.