“Can’t bear to leave me?” Lin Wuyu asked.
Lao Liu was making cameos in videos now?
Ding Ji almost believed it for a moment, but Lao Liu’s expression when he rushed over to tug on his clothes made him immediately understand that this was real.
Lao Liu didn’t have such good acting skills.
Although he never participated in all the disputes within who knows how many kilometers of the mini-plaza, he had still mingled here since childhood, and Ding Ji immediately realized that under these circumstances, he absolutely couldn’t stand here with his status as Lao Liu’s acquaintance.
Otherwise, he and Lin Wuyu would definitely get beat up tonight. Getting beat up was already a light estimate.
Lin Wuyu still had to study. It was the final stretch before the college entrance exam.
Besides, he wasn’t familiar with Lao Liu.
He quickly took two steps back, ducking away from Lao Liu’s hand that was reaching for the corner of his jacket.
But Lao Liu’s reaction and that cry for help had already exposed him.
Four men rushed out of the corridor and turned their heads within a second, gazes locked in their direction.
The men looked quite strong. One of them was bald-headed and so strong that his neck was gone, and Ding Ji had seen him before. He wore a pair of yellow glasses 365 days a year whether it was dark or light out.
Ding Ji hadn’t interacted with him before. The only thing he’d heard about was that he had stolen money from three middle school kids.
If not for the fact that they didn’t have time right now, he really wanted to introduce him to Lin Wuyu. Look, this is a real swindling vagrant. I’m a real third year student.
“You had the fucking guts to call for help?” Baldy glared over at them, with a slightly incredulous expression.
“No, I didn’t…” Lao Liu waved his hands at Baldy.
“Where does he hang around!” a man yelled behind Baldy.
At this moment, Ding Ji suddenly snapped out of it, turning his head and glancing behind him. Those ducktailed da-ges with their arms crossed were still there. At the moment, they were all standing in place, stupefied.
Maybe because they were too immersed in their roles, their arms were all still crossed.
For Baldy and the others, it was simply a provocation like stealing their show.
“Who cares who the hell they are!” Baldy roared.
Before his words landed, Ding Ji grabbed Lin Wuyu’s hand and fiercely dragged him backwards: “Run!”
Without any hesitation, Lin Wuyu turned and ran.
“Beat them all up!” Only then did Baldy let out his second roar.
They ran for seven or eight meters when the ducktailed da-ges started running too, and then behind them came the sound of confused scuffling.
Cursing, yelling, howling, explaining.
As Lin Wuyu ran like crazy with Ding Ji, he took the time to glance back.
Somewhat shocked, he discovered that someone had actually caught up with them. It was two people, actually, and there was even one riding a bikeshare!
When did they scan the code?
“Don’t look! Focus on running!” Ding Ji lowered his voice. “Turn left ahead!”
Lin Wuyu turned left at the intersection ahead and ran into a narrow alley. Under Ding Ji’s command, he got ready to turn right. Right outside was the street.
But as soon as they turned into the alley, the people behind them had already caught up.
Lin Wuyu heard the sound of a bicycle behind him.
He quickly glanced at Ding Ji to see what they should do in these circumstances, but Ding Ji didn’t look at him. The moment he turned his head, he opened his arms and rushed at him.
“You…” Lin Wuyu stumbled and nearly got knocked down by him.
The bicycle was already behind them, and the people on it came swinging at Ding Ji with a stick.
Lin Wuyu immediately realized why Ding Ji did that.
He felt like his lifelong reactions were probably all concentrated in this very second as, holding Ding Ji, he strained to turn a semi-circle to the side.
The stick that should have smashed Ding Ji’s head scraped Ding Ji’s left ear and knocked his shoulder. He didn’t know what it was, but the end of the stick scraped Lin Wuyu’s face.
It didn’t hurt.
But he knew it must have torn his skin.
There was nothing supporting Lin Wuyu. The weight of the stick smashing down as well as Ding Ji’s made him take two or three steps back, hitting the wall.
The man on the bike jumped down.
Lin Wuyu felt the wall, trying to find something that could prop him up.
Ding Ji stood firm, glanced at his face, then turned towards the man and rushed over.
Lin Wuyu swiped out and tried to grab him, but he missed.
Ding Ji’s speed was astonishing. The man hadn’t even raised his stick before he had already rushed in front of him, directly knocking against his body.
His strength was quite considerable.
When the man stepped back, he hadn’t even stood firm before Ding Ji had already grabbed the front of his clothes, pointing to his nose: “You’d better take a good look at who I am!”
The man froze, frowning.
“I’ll give you thirty seconds.” Ding Ji’s voice was a little hoarse. “Call Sheng-ge, ask him if Lao Liu called for someone, whether he could actually call on me!”
Lin Wuyu gazed at Ding Ji’s side profile.
Such a ferocious manner.
He felt that if he hadn’t seen the names that Chen Mang had sent over with his own eyes, if he hadn’t seen that the first name was Ding Ji with his own eyes, he definitely would’ve believed that Ding Ji was a renowned gangster in this area.
“Who the fuck are you?” The man was still frowning. He hadn’t put his stick down, but he wasn’t swinging it either.
“Zhao Shanhe.” After saying this, Ding Ji let go of his collar and shoved his chest. “Call and ask!”
The man furrowed his brows, staring at him with some hesitation.
“You don’t have Sheng-ge’s number?” With a cold voice, Ding Ji grabbed his own phone. “Do you want me to call for you?”
“No need.” The man hesitantly took out his phone. “I have it.”
Ding Ji didn’t pay him any more attention, turning and walking over to Lin Wuyu.
“How…” Lin Wuyu was interrupted as soon as he opened his mouth.
“Follow me,” said Ding Ji in a low voice. “Walk slowly.”
Before Lin Wuyu could answer, he turned his head again, glaring at the man.
The man was originally looking their way, but after being glared at, he quickly picked up his phone and glanced over at the corner, calling out to the other person who had come with him: “What the fuck is going on?”
“What’s the matter?!” That man quickly walked over.
“Go.” Ding Ji dialed a number on his phone as he walked forward.
Lin Wuyu followed him. The two of them walked over to the right of the intersection, one in front and one in the back.
“Hello?” Ding Ji started talking on the phone. “I’m fucking Zhao Shanhe! Do you know where that baldy came from! What the hell was he doing today! Is he fucking crazy! Hitting anyone he sees! He got released without taking any medicine, huh?!”
When Ding Ji said the name Zhao Shanhe, Lin Wuyu already knew that this kid was deceiving people, but he didn’t know whether the other party could be deceived. He had been paying attention to those two people’s movements the whole time.
They were only three or four meters away from the corner of intersection. It didn’t look like it was too far, but in these circumstances, it was quite a long walk.
Fortunately, Ding “Zhao Shanhe” Ji walked calmly and naturally, even carrying a bit of arrogance.
At this moment, Lin Wuyu was swaying between playing the role of Ding “Zhao Shanhe” Ji’s henchman or Ding “Zhao Shanhe” Ji’s bro.
Before he could decide, Ding Ji had already turned onto the intersection leading to the main road: “Quick!”
Lin Wuyu quickly followed him.
“Run run run run!” Ding Ji let out a series of hushed shouts and ran out.
Lin Wuyu ran with him.
They were nearly two steps from the road, when Baldy and his bro realized they’d been tricked, chasing after them.
So they had to take advantage of the distance they’d created and keep running.
They ran out of the intersection, across the street, through a supermarket, into a restaurant then out the back door…in the end, it was unclear what route they’d taken, but they ran into the inpatient department from the side door of the hospital.
“Ah, I’m almost at the end of my rope.” Ding Ji plopped down on the chair beside him and panted, hands on his knees.
Lin Wuyu was also panting. After sitting next to Ding Ji, he started to feel a slight burn on his face.
“You wait for me.” After a few more wheezes, Ding Ji stood up again. “I’ll go to the nurse station.”
“Why?” Lin Wuyu asked.
Frowning, Ding Ji pointed at his face.
After confirming that no one was chasing after them, Lin Wuyu went to the door and looked at his face in the glass.
He could see that there was a diagonal cut and a little bit of blood seeping out.
“Sit down.” Ding Ji had actually brought a nurse over. “This jiejie will help you disinfect it.”
“What did you get cut with?” The nurse examined Lin Wuyu’s face, then took out a cotton swab and a small bottle from her pocket and began to disinfect his wound. “The cut is alright, it’s not too deep…”
“Will it leave a scar?” Ding Ji nervously asked next to him.
“It’s hard to say,” said the nurse. “If the wound was a little deeper, it definitely would have left a scar. With the way it is now, some people will have a little scarring.”
After the nurse finished disinfecting it, she explained that it would be best if he registered at the front desk for a doctor to take a look.
“Thank you.” Lin Wuyu smiled and nodded.
After the nurse walked away, Ding Ji sat beside him with his head lowered. He didn’t speak for a long time.
“Who’s Zhao Shanhe?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“Have you ever seen ‘Young and Dangerous’?” Ding Ji said. “Shanji-ge  is called Zhao Shanhe.”
“I haven’t.” Lin Wuyu looked at him. “You’ve watched such an old movie?”
“My aunt and uncle like watching it. I know the lines by heart, and the comics too, I’ve read them all.” Smiling, Ding Ji turned his head, but when he saw his face, his smile disappeared again.
“It’s okay,” Lin Wuyu said. “I’m not the type to scar. It won’t scar.”
“Who knows?” Ding Ji frowned. “What if…I shouldn’t have said I would call a cab for you at the hospital today! We shouldn’t have gone down the alleys! Just…I should’ve calculated it.”
Lin Wuyu laughed: “What kind of workaholic are you?”
“Does it hurt?” Ding Ji gazed at his face.
“It doesn’t hurt now,” said Lin Wuyu, “and it’s not that big of a cut anyway.”
“Come on, when my dad slapped me it didn’t break any skin but it still hurt for a night.” Ding Ji raised his hand and pinched his shoulder. He probably pinched the place where he was hit, frowning and baring his teeth. “Did you push me just then?”
“No,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Don’t pretend to be an unsung hero and deny it at a time like this.” Ding Ji tsked.
“That wasn’t a push,” Lin Wuyu said. “You’re so heavy. If you smash into me, can I shove you off with a single push? I tried my best to move you away.”
Ding Ji ducked his head and snickered.
“Don’t throw yourself into my arms like that next time.” Lin Wuyu looked at him. “What would you do if it really hit your head?””I wasn’t thinking that much,” Ding Ji said. “I just felt like you had nothing to do with it, and I couldn’t let you get beaten up for no reason. You’re about to take the college entrance exam, and with the way you are you’ve got to be the zhuangyuan. Just thinking about it scares me. I almost got rid of the zhuangyuan.”
“Bullshit.” Lin Wuyu looked at his shoulder. “Aren’t you going to let the nurse take a look at that?”
“I don’t really feel anything,” Ding Ji said, then paused. “Am I that heavy? There’s no way, I’ve lost a lot of weight recently.”
“You rammed into me.” Lin Wuyu quickly hooked his finger around his caller, pulling it aside and looking at his shoulder. “Of course you were heavy…”
“What are you doing!” Ding Ji glared at him.
Lin Wuyu let go of his collar: “A whole patch has turned green. Do you really not feel it?”
“A whole patch? How big is it?” Ding Ji quickly jumped up, hopped in front of the glass door, pulled his collar aside and looked at it. “Shit, this is gonna scare my grandma.”
He turned around again: “Can you see it without moving my collar?”
“No,” Lin Wuyu said.
“That’s good.” Ding Ji breathed a sigh of relief.
“Why don’t you go back to the ward to be with your grandma,” said Lin Wuyu. “In case your mom is there, if you’re any later you might fight again, right?”
“I’ll call you a cab first.” Ding Ji took out his phone.
“I’ll call it myself.” Lin Wuyu pressed his hand down. “You can go.”
“With you like this…” Ding Ji was very hesitant.
“Can’t bear to leave me?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“Okay, you can call it yourself.” Ding Ji immediately turned around and started walking towards the ward’s hallways, telling him as he walked, “Call me anything comes up. Call the cab at the door, don’t go too far in case you run into Baldy and the others again…”
“Got it. You’re like an old man,” sighed Lin Wuyu. “So wordy.”
Ding Ji’s judgment of his mother was very accurate. When he returned to his grandmother’s ward, his mother was standing in the corridor with a dark expression, making a phone call.
Seeing him come out of the elevator, his mother hung up the phone and stared at him: “Why did it take so long for you to eat?”
“We chatted about problems for a while.” After saying this, Ding Ji walked towards the ward.
“Chatted about problems?” Mom said behind him. “Drinking and chatting? Your nonsense comes out the moment you open your mouth, huh?”
“Like I said, before the college entrance examination, I won’t talk to you two and won’t quarrel,” Ding Ji said. “I don’t want to affect my mood for studying. I’m back now, and I’m going to start studying immediately. Whether I ate or not, drank or not, chatted or not, there’s no point in arguing about it now except wasting my time.”
After Ding Ji finished saying that, he entered the ward. Grandma had her eyes closed and he didn’t know if she was asleep or not.
He gently walked to her bedside and bent down. Grandma laughed, and with her eyes still closed, she slowly whispered: “My darling grandson, you really ate and you really drank, and as if that wasn’t enough, you even got in a fight.”
“Did you calculate it?” asked Ding Ji.
“I smelled it,” Grandma said.
Ding Ji tsked, then pulled at his clothes and took a whiff: “It doesn’t smell like sweat?”
“Drunk people all have blocked noses.” Grandma opened her eyes. “The nurse just left. Quick, go take a shower, smelly boy.”
When Ding Ji grabbed his clothes and slipped into the ward’s bathroom to shower, Mom came in with a stony face and he closed the bathroom door.
After coming out from a quick shower, Mom had already left.
Ding Ji let out a breath: “I’m gonna study, Grandma.”
“Mm,” Grandma answered.
Ding Ji took out an English exercise book and, softly and quietly, went out to the corridor.
Studying at the hospital was actually alright, as long as he didn’t stay in the corridors of these floors of wards. Otherwise, it would be too noisy. A bell would ring for a nurse one moment, a cough the next, and there were those who couldn’t sleep, chatting, as well as those who got woken up by the noise and started swearing.
He would wander over to the rooftop, then stroll down from the rooftop to the lounge.
Today he reversed it, first wandering down to the hall.
He went up then down every day, but he didn’t know why he went down then up today.
But when he saw Lin Wuyu still sitting on a chair in the lounge, he understood.
He just wanted to see if Lin Wuyu had left, but he was stung by Lin Wuyu’s “can’t bear to leave me,” so he had to find a reason to go down first.
Although he came down just to see if Lin Wuyu had left, when he saw that Lin Wuyu actually hadn’t, he was surprised.
Other than surprise, he felt a little excitement, mixed with a subtle sense of intimacy.
This kind of intimacy was very easy to generate. It was enough to experience getting beat up and escaping together. But it was also very difficult to generate, because after all, under normal circumstances, one might not necessarily get beaten in their lifetime.
Lin Wuyu was not surprised to see him. He just lifted the corner of his mouth, smiling: “I called it.”
“You called it, my ass.” Ding Ji walked over. “Why haven’t you left yet? No money?”
“I was worried your mother wouldn’t believe you, and I was waiting here to testify for you,” Lin Wuyu said. “Or you would get in another fight, and I could grab you when you stormed off.”
“We didn’t fight,” said Ding Ji. “Just snapped a couple times and she left.”
“You took a shower?” Lin Wuyu looked at the clothes he was wearing.
“Mm, my grandma said that I stunk just now.” Ding Ji tsked. “Wanted me to take a bath…I didn’t think I smelled either…”
As he spoke, he leaned closer to Lin Wuyu.
Lin Wuyu quickly got up and jumped away, pulling at his clothes: “Let me smell it first.”
Ding Ji cracked up: “Does it stink?”
“I didn’t smell anything,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Let me smell it.” Ding Ji leaned in again. This time Lin Wuyu didn’t duck away. He stuck his nose on Lin Wuyu’s shoulder and sniffed. “It doesn’t stink…did you even spray perfume? Your clothes are all fragrant.”
“Eau de cologne, probably. It’s the water in our dorm,” said Lin Wuyu. “It smells like that on all of us.”
“Oh,” Ding Ji responded.
After that, there was a brief silence.
A chatterbox like Ding Ji, even after drinking, couldn’t find a topic for five whole seconds.
“Then I’ll…” Lin Wuyu pointed at the doors. “…go back, and you can study.”
“Are you still going to study when you go back to school?” Ding Ji asked immediately.
“Not necessarily,” said Lin Wuyu. “I might be sleepy and just go to sleep. I don’t want to stay up late during this period before the exam.”
“Then why don’t…” Ding Ji thought for a moment. “I’ll treat you to ice cream. I’m a little thirsty from the barbecue.”
Lin Wuyu looked at him and cracked up: “You can just say that you don’t want to be alone right now and ask me to chat with you for a while.”
 Shanji (山鸡) means pheasant. ↩