CW: Brief mention of bulimia.
This was his first time seeing such a serious Lin Wuyu.
Ding Ji didn’t really care too much about whether others knew about his achievements or not. When Lin Wuyu misunderstood him, he hadn’t insisted on explaining either.
In a way, he actually enjoyed the way it felt to not be thought highly of or have a lot expected from him.
I’m a jobless vagrant. I idle about every day. I’m a demigod, and I even cheat and swindle.
There would be no one to harp in your ear every day, making you feel guilty all the time, like you were letting yourself down and you didn’t know if that bit of intelligence was real or not.
The moment Lin Wuyu realized that he might really be a student, Ding Ji was rather smug. There was a sense of coolness like the bigshot had suddenly emerged from behind the scenes, the sort with background music and light effects.
Childish and delightful.
But soon the mood fell again.
It was a bit awkward at this point in time.
At any other time, if Lin Wuyu discovered the bigshot behind the scenes, Ding Ji would be immensely pleased with himself, just like a moment ago.
Because what Lin Wuyu would’ve found was an ordinary third year student, with no additional content.
It was different now.
First place in overall points on the third mock at San Zhong. It sounded pretty flashy.
But there was still Fu Zhong ahead of him in first and second. Lin Wuyu’s overall third mock score was 732, higher than him by a few dozen or so points. Although they all said that the third mock was easy, it was mostly to give everyone self-confidence for the entrance exam, but out of so many people, only Lin Wuyu had gotten this score…
The moment he thought of this, Dad’s voice surrounded him like the tide.
Not good enough.
You should be better.
You didn’t try your hardest, you didn’t do your best.
It was just like he said. So what about being first in his grade? They would say that there was still being first in the city, then so what about being first in the city, there was still being first in the province.
Ding Ji sighed, his elevated mood slowly falling back down, back to his angry and depressed state when he left the hospital.
Lin Wuyu watched Ding Ji’s proud smile slowly disappear from the corner of his lips. He suddenly wondered whether it wasn’t that appropriate for him to pick this occasion to show off his divine light.
His phone vibrated.
Chen Mang sent several names, arranged in order of scores.
Lin Wuyu only looked at the first name and put his phone back in his pocket.
“I didn’t expect that.” Lin Wuyu was silent for a moment, picking up his can.
“Come on, you thought of it right from the start. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have asked your classmate first. Furthermore, you wouldn’t have been able to ask about anything outside of the top five, so you guessed that I was at least in the top five.” Ding Ji also picked up his can and tapped it against his.
“Then couldn’t I have just asked about Ding Ji?” Lin Wuyu smiled. “When it comes to a handsome guy like you, I can ask anyone at your school.”
“You don’t know people at my school. If you did, when I first said that I was from San Zhong, you wouldn’t have had that reaction.” Ding Ji looked at him. “Moreover, it’s easy to get misunderstandings from asking about people. Who knows whether you’re going to beat me up, confess to me on behalf of someone, or if you’ve taken a fancy to me?”
“I really haven’t…” Lin Wuyu sighed.
“No matter if you have or haven’t, with your character, you definitely wouldn’t do things like that. When you asked your classmate you wouldn’t have mentioned my name either. You must have asked who the top five at San Zhong were, right?” Ding Ji said.
Lin Wuyu smiled and didn’t speak. It wasn’t a pity that Ding Ji didn’t sell watermelons. It was a pity if he really didn’t tell fortunes for people.
“So you guessed it right from the start.” Ding Ji took a sip of beer. “But you’re quite…how can I put it? You’re actually really kind. You know I’m really annoyed by people saying that I’m so smart, a child prodigy, blind fucking praise like that, so you had to confirm it first.”
“But in the end you confirmed it for me,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Mm, mostly in case your classmates couldn’t get it.” Ding Ji’s fingertips tapped against the cup. “I couldn’t help it either. I just wanted to see how the academic god would react to knowing that I’m not a watermelon seller.”
Lin Wuyu took a sip of beer and, holding his can, looked at Ding Ji for a long time. Finally, he put the can heavily on the table: “It turns out I’m this inaccurate at reading people…why didn’t you tell me before?”
“Did I not tell you?” Ding Ji glared at him. “Speak with some conscience, gege. Didn’t I say I was from San Zhong! I even told you which class I was from! You didn’t believe it! Last weekend you were even pained from the fact that I had unexpectedly gone off to sell watermelons.”
Lin Wuyu couldn’t help but crack up. After laughing for a long time, he turned back and said in a low voice: “Sorry, it’s mainly that you…really do look very jianghu.”
“It’s alright.” Ding Ji waved. “I like it.”
“Mm,” Lin Wuyu answered.
“I meant your misunderstanding of me,” added Ding Ji. “I like this. It’s comfortable.”
“Mm.” Lin Wuyu nodded and looked at Ding Ji, who was sitting across from him with his top student status. He was still a little surprised. “So…your family isn’t satisfied with these results?”
“They’re not.” Ding Ji frowned. “My parents’ expectations for me are like a black hole, like a cucumber hanging in front of a donkey’s head…”
“Under normal circumstances, everyone thinks that the hanging thing is a carrot,” Lin Wuyu said.
Ding Ji had spoken halfway before he got blocked by Lin Wuyu, staring blankly for a long moment: “You’re quite rigorous, huh? Under normal circumstances? Everyone thinks?”
“Otherwise?” Lin Wuyu laughed. “I don’t know if donkeys eat cucumbers.”
“I think they do?” Ding Ji thought about it and started laughing too.
Ding Ji and Liu Jinpeng often came to eat at this restaurant, and they were pretty familiar with the boss and his wife. When the boss’s wife brought the barbecue they ordered, Ding Ji was really curious: “Jie, do donkeys eat cucumbers?”
The boss’s wife threw the plate onto his side of the table: “How many days has it been since I last saw you? Looking like a hooligan?”
“What…how am I a hooligan?” Ding Ji was stunned.
“Did you learn it from this person? I haven’t seen him before,” said the boss’s wife, glancing at Lin Wuyu’s face before disdainfully saying, “What do you mean cucumbers? Don’t talk to me about this and learn some proper things!”
“Me?” Lin Wuyu was shocked.
The boss’s wife ignored them, dropping the plate and leaving.
Ding Ji suddenly laughed so hard that he picked up the can and couldn’t take a sip of beer for a long time.
“In any case, it has to be you who corrupted me, right?” Lin Wuyu really couldn’t understand the boss’s wife’s judgment.
“She knows me well,” said Ding Ji, laughing. “She knows I never make these sorts of jokes.”
“Do I look like someone who would make these sorts of jokes?” Lin Wuyu sighed. “She realized when I hadn’t even realized.”
“To this honorable academic god.” Ding Ji raised a glass towards him. “C’mon.”
“To…” Lin Wuyu thought for a moment. “This cute little prodigy.”
Ding Ji didn’t speak or move.
“If you want to fall out with me, wait for me to finish,” Lin Wuyu reached out a finger and gently poked the back of his hand holding the cup. “Whether you are or not, it has nothing to do with others. It’s neither something you need to prove or something you have to avoid.”
Ding Ji’s eyes were wide, staring at him for almost five seconds. Then he swished the can in his hand and clinked it against his, tilting his head back and gulping down the entire beer can.
“Let’s agree first,” said Lin Wuyu. “If you drink too much, I’m not sending you back.”
“Wait and see.” Ding Ji raised his right eyebrow. “It’s not set in stone who’ll get drunk first.”
Lin Wuyu hadn’t eaten barbecue like this, as if they were fighting in guerilla warfare.
First, they ate in the restaurant. Later, because it was a little hot and crowded, they moved to the small table at the entrance. Then it was too noisy so they decided they might as well go out of the shop. There weren’t even stools. They set their table beside the flower bed and squatted on the stone fence.
Slapping mosquitoes as they drank and chatted.
If his parents saw this, they would probably think that they had always been right about their youngest son.Sure enough, he was mud that couldn’t stick to the wall .
“Pengpeng, the one that was selling watermelons,” Ding Ji downed half a can of beer, picked up a skewer of beef and gnawed on it, “he’s like me, a left-behind child. He’s got it even worse than me. He was left behind for several years and in the end his parents got divorced, and neither side wanted him. Isn’t that infuriating?”
“Then who has he been living with?” Lin Wuyu asked. “He looks about the same age as you, right?”
“His uncle,” Ding Ji said. “The watermelons were his uncle’s, and Pengpeng was helping him sell them…what did I want to say just now? Oh, right. When he was little, he called his uncle Dad.”
Lin Wuyu laughed.
“I’ve never blindly called anyone something like that,” said Ding Ji. “I didn’t even think that my life needed anyone else other than my grandparents and my aunt.”
“Was it because you felt like your parents were strangers?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“When you say strangers, it doesn’t seem like that was completely the case.” Ding Ji frowned. “It was more awkward than strangers. Getting along with strangers is a completely different story…they were strangers who wanted to force themselves into my life.”
Lin Wuyu didn’t say anything. He poked around on the plate, wanting to get a beef kebab, but his hand hung in midair for quite a while, not finding anything.
So he glanced over at Ding Ji.
Ding Ji was biting the second to last piece of beef, and when he met his eyes, he immediately, swiftly shoved both pieces of beef into his mouth, then with a shake of his head, ate all of them.
“Stingy spirit,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Twenty beef kebabs!” Ding Ji turned and called into the store.
“This is my treat,” Lin Wuyu said.
Ding Ji slapped the table and took his phone out: “Boss, come over and give us the bill!”
“Why are you like this?” Lin Wuyu took his phone and put it in his own pocket with a smile.
“You’ve got a pretty good temper,” Ding Ji said. “If I made a fuss like this with Pengpeng, he definitely would’ve slapped the table with me by now, and then we would’ve started fighting over the bill.”
“It won’t go that far,” said Lin Wuyu. “If you really want to pay, I won’t fight with you.”
“Still!” Ding Ji slapped the table and stood up. “Boss!”
“Hey.” Lin Wuyu flicked his hand. “Your phone’s with me.”
“Fuck.” Ding Ji looked at him. “Gimme that!”
Lin Wuyu grabbed his wrist and pulled him back to the flower bed to sit down: “Did you drink too much?”
“No,” said Ding Ji. “If I take a sip of alcohol I’m like this. Like my grandpa says, I’ll manifest my true nature with a single lick. If I drink here with you for an entire night, I’ll still be like this.”
Ding Ji was pretty honest. They drank until it was almost ten and Ding Ji still maintained this “manifested” state.
Lin Wuyu didn’t understand what manifesting was at first, but now that he thought about it, it probably meant letting loose. Ding Ji ordinarily didn’t talk too much, and within his usual limits, he mostly focused on attacking his Moments, sending out a dozen or so every day. After drinking a sip of alcohol, it was like he’d opened the gates.
You could tell that he wasn’t drunk. His eyes were still very bright, his mind was clear, and he walked the same way as usual. It was just that he had a lot to say.
Ding Ji’s grandmother had suffered a fall and was living at the hospital. Now he was going to go back to the hospital, and it wasn’t on the way, but Ding Ji seemed to have forgotten that they weren’t going the same way, only caring about walking towards the hospital, so Lin Wuyu could only follow, not interrupting him.
People all needed to let loose.
Whether you were a demigod, a watermelon seller, or first in your grade.
There weren’t many opportunities to do so.
“My grandparents actually are reluctant for me to live back at home, too.” Ding Ji walked forward, head lowered. “But they can’t say that, since I’m their son’s son after all, but…”
Ding Ji suddenly burst into laughter.
“What?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“My grandmother is pretty stubborn. She hasn’t used most of the money my father sent back, saving it up on her own.” Ding Ji threw his arm around his shoulder and whispered into his ear, “Do you know why?”
“Let me think.” Lin Wuyu looked at him. “Are you afraid that your parents will say one day, ‘I’ve spent so much money on you, so why are you still so disappointing?'”
“Fuck?” Startled, Ding Ji stepped aside to look at him. “Not bad, huh, you could even guess that?”
“Mm.” Lin Wuyu laughed.
After freezing for a couple seconds, Ding Ji suddenly sighed: “I know now. Only you would’ve been able to guess it.”
“Huh?” Lin Wuyu turned his head.
“You’ve been earning your own money for a long time, right?” Ding Ji said. “Was this also the reason?”
Lin Wuyu didn’t speak.
“It’s quite pitiful,” said Ding Ji, reaching a hand out to rub his arm. “Poor thing.”
“That’s enough,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Do your paternal and maternal grandparents not care about you?” Ding Ji asked. “My grandparents on my mom’s side passed early, but my grandparents on my dad’s side and my aunt are all really good to me.”
“They’re not in the same place, and a few years can go by without seeing them,” Lin Wuyu said. “I’m not too close with my relatives.”
“Oh.” Ding Ji couldn’t help but add, “Poor thing.”
“…I’m gonna start hitting people,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Come come come, hit me, let me see.” Ding Ji immediately got stirred up, energetically waving at him. “Out of the top students I know, I’ve really never met one who can beat me.”
“Let’s finish the exam first,” said Lin Wuyu. “I’m afraid that if we start fighting now, one of us won’t be able to take it.”
“I don’t care,” Ding Ji said.
“You’d better care.” Lin Wuyu glanced at him, smile fading.
Ding Ji looked at him: “Why so serious all of a sudden?”
“I said it.” Lin Wuyu suddenly leaned close to him, saying it word by word, “You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You don’t have to prove that you’re a prodigy, and you don’t have to prove that you’re not. Do you understand?”
Ding Ji had known Lin Wuyu for a period of time. In his impression of him, other than occasionally being “cold-blooded,” Lin Wuyu was always very gentle, and oftentimes he would just smile things away.
This was his first time seeing such a serious Lin Wuyu.
Ding Ji had never been afraid of anyone, and when his temper rose he dared to fight with anyone.
But this sort of Lin Wuyu suddenly made him feel a sense of pressure.
Because he quickly understood the source of Lin Wuyu’s reaction.
He was a “superfluous person,” he was “air.”
“I understand.” Ding Ji suddenly felt like his eyes were burning a little. “I was just speaking without thinking too much.”
Ding Ji hadn’t felt this sort of sharpness directly prodding his heart even when he was hurting the most over his grandparents.
Lin Wuyu watched him for a few more seconds, then opened his mouth again: “I’m a little hungry…”
“What?” Ding Ji almost couldn’t hear his own voice.
“Why don’t you buy me a cup of yogurt?” Lin Wuyu pointed at a small store next to them. “There’s a yogurt store here.”
Ding Ji felt a little bewildered, but still turned around and walked over to the store. Only after buying a cup of mango-flavored yogurt for Lin Wuyu did he say, “Is there really nothing wrong with you? Do you understand what bulimia is?”
“I’m in great health,” Lin Wuyu said while eating.
“Do you exercise regularly?” asked Ding Ji.
“I do.” Lin Wuyu nodded. “I run on the sports field, and I used to play basketball, but not in my third year. If I want to play, I can only play with kids, so there’s no point.”
“You might not necessarily be older than second years, right,” Ding Ji said, tutting. “You sound like an old person.”
“That’s different. I can’t compare to you when it comes to old people,” Lin Wuyu said with a smile. “I’ve never brought a Coffee-mate bottle to drink honeysuckle tea.”
“You haven’t, but you didn’t drink any less of it,” Ding Ji said.
Lin Wuyu glanced at him: “Stingy spirit. I drank a few sips of your tea and you still remember it.”
“I’ll remember it for ages. I simply have a great memory,” Ding Ji said.
“What a coincidence.” Lin Wuyu threw the empty yogurt cup into the trash can. “Me too.”
When they were almost at the hospital, Ding Ji took him into an alley: “If we go through here, we’ll be at the hospital. Let me tell you, there’s not a road here that I don’t know…”
Halfway through, he suddenly stopped and turned his head: “Fuck, are you going back to school?”
“In theory,” said Lin Wuyu. “I haven’t found a chance to leave the whole way here.”
Ding Ji was stunned for a moment, then laughed: “Ah! I pretty much didn’t think of that at all. You should go back, then.”
“Should I walk back?” Lin Wuyu said.
“What else? You could call a cab too…” Ding Ji thought for a moment. “Okay, I’ll call a cab for you. After all, I delayed you. Let’s go to the hospital entrance. It’s a good place to get picked up, and we can chat a little longer too.”
“Mm,” Lin Wuyu nodded. “Why don’t I go up to see your grandma?”
“Better not,” Ding Ji said. “I’m guessing my mom is here. I said I would go back to the hospital after dinner. She might not have believed it and is still waiting in the hospital.”
“It’s not the time when you’ve just finished a meal anymore,” Lin Wuyu reminded him. “You didn’t tell me we had to leave early, either.”
“I’m not afraid of shit.” Ding Ji was a little miffed. “I did it on purpose, I was rebelling. I’m not a worry-free child.”
Lin Wuyu laughed.
After taking only a few steps down the alley, they suddenly ran into five or six people.
This alley was said to be an alley, but it wasn’t much wider than a hutong. As soon as these people came over, they pretty much blocked the path.
What’s more, their walking postures were very dreamlike. Lin Wuyu almost didn’t understand what he was seeing.
Identical black trousers and flowered shirts paired with ducktails, arms crossed, with their left legs and right legs swinging back and forth. Their manners were very much like those who smashed and stole things in old 80s movies.
“What is this?” Ding Ji stopped in the middle of the road. “Are they sweeping the street?”
Lin Wuyu was just about to pull him aside, afraid that he might have drunk a bit too much wine and would cause trouble. When he looked up, he saw that among these da-ges, there was one walking backwards, holding up a tripod in his hands, a phone placed on top of it.
“…Filming a video?” he said.
“Fuck.” Ding Ji also saw that person and turned back. “C’mon, let’s get out of the way and let them through. If we get in the frame we won’t be able to lose them…”
Lin Wuyu laughed and followed him back out.
They hadn’t taken any steps when a scolding voice came from the corridor, as well as chaotic footsteps.
There was a plot too?
Before he could figure out what kind of impressive video this was, there was a sound like a belt thrashing a person from the corridor, and then a man howling.
Ding Ji stopped abruptly: “This voice…”
A young man in his underwear flew out of the corridor.
“Fuck, Lao Liu?” Ding Ji said, lowering his voice, somewhat shocked.
“You know him?” Lin Wuyu asked. “They’re filming a pretty impressive shot…”
It was very real.
The flying Lao Liu landed on his face, but he quickly jumped up again. When he turned his face towards them, he was stunned first and then rushed over to Ding Ji: “Quick, save me!”
 This is an idiom that refers to mud/cement that’s too watery and can’t be used on walls, or in other words, a person with little capabilities that won’t get far. ↩