“You…Lin Wuyu you’re humiliating me!”
When they walked out of the hospital gates, Ding Ji vigilantly looked around, and only then did he bring Lin Wuyu to a small cafe on the other side of the street.
“Have you been staying up a lot recently?” Lin Wuyu took a mosquito-repellent light that was next to the counter and carried it to their table. “I feel like you’ve lost weight.”
“Really?” Ding Ji touched his face and sighed. “My mom didn’t even notice.”
“I’m not your mom,” Lin Wuyu said.
“You want to be,” Ding Ji said.
“No, I really don’t want to.” Lin Wuyu took the menu that the waiter handed him, but he hadn’t even opened it before Ding Ji grabbed it.
“I said I was treating you, what are you so proactive for?” Ding Ji said. “What do you wanna eat and drink?”
Lin Wuyu didn’t say anything, only looking at him.
“No need to fight with me. You treated me to barbecue and beer, I’ll treat you to a late-night snack, it’s very normal,” Ding Ji said.
“I wasn’t fighting with you, if you don’t give me the menu how am I supposed to know what I can eat and drink?” Lin Wuyu said.
“…Oh.” Ding Ji put the menu back in front of him.
This wasn’t a particularly great small cafe. The interior decorations looked like they were about the same age as them, and there weren’t many guests in the store either. Lin Wuyu looked at the menu and randomly ordered two pieces of cake, a small thing of bread, and a cup of coffee.
“I’ll have a hot cup of milk,” Ding Ji said.
The waiter brought them two glasses of lemon water and left.
“You’re not gonna eat anything?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“I really don’t have as good of an appetite as you,” Ding Ji said. “I even admire you. You should start a column: how I eat without gaining weight.”
“Then you should start a column,” Lin Wuyu said, “called how I vanish like a cicada leaving an empty shell.”
“Are you talking about just now?” Ding Ji cracked up. “I didn’t exactly leave an empty shell. Lao Liu knows me. After they slap Lao Liu around a couple times Lao Liu can spit out my name.”
“Will they trouble you?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“They probably won’t. Lao Liu can’t possibly say he called me over, he wouldn’t dare, so I was just passing by and ran off getting chased with a stick. My friend mysteriously got hurt too. I didn’t trouble them, so how would they dare trouble me?” Ding Ji tsked. “Besides, where I live, where I go to school, they don’t know any of that.”
“They probably don’t even know you’re still in school, huh?” Lin Wuyu eyed him.
Ding Ji didn’t say anything, laughing the whole time.
“They definitely don’t know that you can be first in your class at the second most impressive high school, huh?” Lin Wuyu said.
“Hey! Wait a minute!” Ding Ji immediately sat up straight. “What do you mean, second most impressive high school? Is Fu Zhong first? Who agreed on this?”
“All the students and teachers at Fu Zhong ah.” Lin Wuyu smiled too.
“Then all the students and teachers at San Zhong think that San Zhong’s in first place too. Have you guys gotten all the students and teachers at San Zhong to agree?” Ding Ji glared at him.
“To be honest,” Lin Wuyu took a sip of lemon water, “in first is me, in second is someone from my neighboring dorm, and in third is your San Zhong’s…”
“Watermelon seller.” Ding Ji nodded.
Lin Wuyu cracked up all at once, and fortunately he had already swallowed his water.
As he laughed, he eyed Ding Ji for a while: “Really, I’ve gotten this old, and it’s the first time I’ve made an oversight to this degree…are you really called Ding Ji?”
“Just you wait.” Ding Ji stood up with a flourish and pointed at him. “Just sit here and wait, I’ll grab my exam papers for you…”
“Don’t don’t don’t don’t.” Laughing, Lin Wuyu got up and pressed him back into his seat. “I said the wrong thing.”
“Am I Ding Ji or not?” Ding Ji pointed at himself.
“You are,” Lin Wuyu replied sincerely.
“Seeing as you inexplicably got hurt because of me today I won’t bicker with you…actually, I wanted to ask you,” Ding Ji propped his elbows on the table and scooted towards him, “for someone like you with grades that are forever in first place and if they’re in second place it’s because the teacher graded the wrong exam, your family still has…that attitude towards you?”
“Mm,” Lin Wuyu said. “They think Lin Zhan is definitely better than me. No matter what it is, no matter what level I achieve, Lin Zhan will always be better than me.”
“What kind of monster is that Lin Zhan?” Ding Ji’s expression was disgruntled. “How old was he when he left, he hadn’t even graduated middle school right? Someone who hadn’t even participated in the high school entrance exam, how could he be better than you at everything?”
Lin Wuyu smiled and said nothing.
He’d had this sort of unhappy questioning before, and moreover, he’d pointed it out once.
But Mom and Dad’s painful reactions on the verge of falling apart made him somewhat regretful, and after that incident, he never reflected on such a childish question again.
“Do you hate him?” Ding Ji asked.
“Who?” Lin Wuyu withdrew from his pondering state.
“Your brother,” Ding Ji said. “Always being compared and always being unable to compare with him, do you ever get out of sorts?”
“Far more than out of sorts.” Lin Wuyu chuckled. “I had a period where I really doubted myself, whether I really was an idiot…my elementary school deskmate’s mother was a doctor, and I even begged her to help me test my intelligence.”
“Fuck.” Ding Ji furrowed his brows. “What results did you get?”
“I don’t remember,” Lin Wuyu said. “I only wanted a relatively scientific verdict.”
“If you had this sort of notion in elementary school it’s impossible for you to be an idiot, alright, normal smart kids can’t even think to this level.” Ding Ji frowned. “What was the verdict?”
“I’m very smart.” Lin Wuyu cracked up. “What other verdict could there be?”
“Aiyo my bro! I’ve really never met someone as cocky as you who’s still…not that annoying.” Ding Ji leaned back against his chair. “Did you start being this unbridled from then?”
“More or less.” Lin Wuyu thought for a bit. “I told Lin Zhan about this, and he said…”
Lin Wuyu suddenly stopped.
He had never mentioned Lin Zhan to anyone before, much less these sorts of details.
“What did he say?” Ding Ji jabbed at his hand.
“He said that if I really felt like I was an idiot, then I wouldn’t have begged for a verdict,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Very reasonable ah,” Ding Ji said.
“Right, I thought, it’s like this, I really think I’m actually pretty smart, so…” Lin Wuyu contemplated for a moment.
“So everything became clear to you at once,” Ding Ji said. “An elementary schooler can have this kind of realization…”
“So I became as cocky as I am now,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Fuck.” Ding Ji stared blankly. “I was trying to help you acknowledge your fermenting feelings just now!”
“Were my feelings not fermented correctly?” Lin Wuyu said.
“I thought you were gonna cry, and I wanted to help you find a way to cry it out,” Ding Ji said. “After all you’ve never told anyone about these things.”
Lin Wuyu didn’t speak, looking at Ding Ji and squinting his eyes.
“I didn’t calculate it, I observed it.” Ding Ji quirked up a corner of his mouth. “Impressive?”
Lin Wuyu quirked up the corner of his mouth too: “Observing me so carefully, are you…”
Ding Ji lowered his voice: “You telling me these things, are you…”
“You’re worried I’ll say yes.” Lin Wuyu’s finger lightly tapped on the desk a couple times.
“Fuck,” Ding Ji was startled, “That was a close call.”
Lin Wuyu had never actually done nothing all night like today, just eating dinner, drinking beer, eating late-night snacks, and chatting with people…oh, and he’d even gone for a midnight jog.
He had quite a few friends, but those who could get him to waste a whole night to do these things were basically nonexistent.
Xu Tianbo could, but compared to strolling around outside, Xu Tianbo liked holing up in his dorm to play video games more.
Lin Wuyu looked at Ding Ji. He didn’t know why he was so willing to waste time with him like this, and waste it in such a relaxed and cheerful manner.
Ever since they’d come out of the cafe, the two of them hadn’t gone on their own ways, walking around the path outside the hospital and chatting.
“I started walking and talking really early. I wasn’t that big, and no one taught me, but I learned how to count, forwards and backwards, and later recognizing characters, doing calculations, I learned it all immediately. My grandpa said he never needed to teach me twice.” Head lowered, Ding Ji kicked a small rock as he slowly walked. “From then on they all started calling me a child prodigy, and I was pretty proud at first.”
“You should’ve been proud,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Afterwards, my other relatives and neighbors,” Ding Ji said, “all started saying that I would definitely have great future prospects and work hard for my parents, give my parents face, look out how well they passed it on…blah blah blah blah…my grandma and grandpa said these things too, and my aunt…”
Frowning, Ding Ji glanced at him: “Do you understand that sort of feeling? It’s terrifying. In first grade I had a dream that I didn’t get a hundred percent in literature, and I was so scared I cried.”
Even though he’d never undergone this sort of pressure, Lin Wuyu could practically feel little Ding Ji’s terror back then from Ding Ji’s current expression.
He stretched out a hand and patted Ding Ji’s back.
“By third grade I couldn’t do it anymore. I would get anxious whenever I couldn’t understand anything. Wasn’t I a child prodigy?” Ding Ji sighed. “And then I…my rebellious phase must’ve been a little too early, but in any case back then I would hate when other people called me smart, called me a child prodigy. What’s more, I couldn’t understand why I had to do these things to work hard for and give face to people I didn’t recognize, so I yelled at my grandparents and even smashed things. After smashing things I even got sick for a while.”
“Did you erase those words in the book around then?” Lin Wuyu smiled.
“Mm.” Ding Ji rubbed his nose. “In any case, my grandma and grandpa and my aunt, they all got scared, and even now they all follow along, never praising me as smart.”
“Why does this sound so strange.” Lin Wuyu laughed for a while.
“Although,” Ding Ji turned his head to look at him, “what you said today, I’ll remember it.”
“Mm.” Lin Wuyu put his smile away.
“I’m gonna say something serious,” Ding Ji said. “I was really moved then. I almost cried.”
“Do you cry a lot?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“Yeah.” Ding Ji acknowledged this without a bit of hesitation. “My grandma says it’s a good thing. If I hold it back and don’t cry it’s easy for my face to get big.”
Lin Wuyu choked.
The next time they returned to the entrance of the hospital, Lin Wuyu didn’t even need to look at the time to know that it was already midnight.
“I have a question I’ve never found the right time to ask,” Ding Ji said.
“You weren’t even afraid to ask if I had feelings for you,” Lin Wuyu said. “What else can there be that you can’t ask.”
Ding Ji smiled and waved his hand: “I just wanted to ask, if you go back to your dorm now can you still go through the doors?”
“Some time before this a demigod told me,” Lin Wuyu said, “there aren’t school walls that can’t be climbed over, and there aren’t school walls that I can’t climb over.”
“I said that?” Ding Ji frowned.
“Word for word,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Then you’re…climbing over the wall to get back?” Ding Ji said.
“Nah,” Lin Wuyu said. “Give me an exam or practice problems or whatever, I’ll find a place to study.”
“C’mon.” Ding Ji cocked his head.
Ding Ji had never studied with anyone before. He had tons of bad habits when he read academic books, and sometimes even a single cough from Shi Xiangyang next to him could make him absent-minded for a few minutes.
But today as he sat across and studied from Lin Wuyu in the hospital corridor’s seats, his attention was extraordinarily concentrated.
He didn’t know if it was because he’d been provoked.
Because he’d discovered that Lin Wuyu only needed one second to enter an academic state. Taking out his glasses, putting them on, by the third second when he spoke up, Lin Wuyu couldn’t hear him anymore.
This sort of shocking concentration truly made him envious.
It was dangerous too.
If someone came over, they’d have to smash him with two or three sticks for Lin Wuyu to snap out of it…
He took a deep breath, then put his head down and started doing problems.
Two hours later, because Ding Ji’s entire body was sore, he stopped his studying and stood up to move around.
Lin Wuyu was still in his original position, reading with his head down.
“Move around a bit.” Ding Ji walked over. “Lin Wuyu, move a bit, your neck’s gonna have issues…”
He extended a hand and waved it in front of Lin Wuyu’s eyes, but Lin Wuyu still didn’t move.
“Eh?” He bent down and turned his head towards Lin Wuyu’s face to take a look. “Fuck!”
To his shock, he discovered that Lin Wuyu was sleeping.
“You…Lin Wuyu you’re humiliating me!” Ding Ji jabbed Lin Wuyu’s shoulder with his finger a few times. “With this sort of academic attitude you can get 732 points on the third mock?”
“Hm?” Lin Wuyu raised his head, adjusting his glasses with a bewildered expression. Only after a moment did he say, “What time is it?”
“Three thirty.” Ding Ji glanced at his phone. “How long did you sleep for?”
“I don’t know.” Lin Wuyu flipped through the book in his hands. “I memorized maybe three pages? Then I fell asleep.”
“I’ve been doing problems this whole time!” Ding Ji lowered his voice. “You’re humiliating me, you know that! I thought you were studying! I was really encouraged too!”
“Then why don’t you humiliate me,” Lin Wuyu said. “You can sleep for a while and I’ll do problems.”
“Piss off!” Ding Ji couldn’t hold back from laughing. “Are you sleepy? I’ll help you find a place to lie down.”
“The morgue?” Lin Wuyu stood up.
“You’re crazy!” Ding Ji’s ears were immediately filled with the background music of all the horror movies that he only listened to the sound of because he didn’t dare to watch them but he was still curious, clasping his hands behind his back and scratching it a few times.
“It’s a hospital, they only have sickbeds, and I’m not a sick person…” Lin Wuyu said.
“Then you’re not a dead person either!” Ding Ji glared at him. “Let’s go.”
Lin Wuyu followed him, going from the inpatient department to the main entrance of the hospital. At the registration lobby there were a few rows of massage chairs.
It was the middle of the night, so all the chairs were empty.
“How is it, not bad huh?” Ding Ji cheerfully scanned the code. “C’mon, it’s my treat, it’ll massage you for half an hour then you can sleep for two hours.”
“Okay.” Smiling, Lin Wuyu went over and sat down.
Ding Ji was next to him, lying down on the chair with a satisfied look on his face, even mumbling: “Aiyoyoyo…it pinched my arm, ahyayayaya…my calves are gonna explode…”
“How am I supposed to sleep?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“Are you such a light sleeper?” Ding Ji turned his head, the two sponges kneading his head making his face somewhat distorted. “I’m talking right now because I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep the moment I close my eyes.”
“That’s funny, didn’t we come in to sleep?” Lin Wuyu said.
“I’m the host,” Ding Ji said. “I have to wait for my guest to fall asleep before I can sleep.”
“I’m asleep.” Lin Wuyu immediately adjusted his posture, closing his eyes.
“Goodnight,” Ding Ji said.
“Goodnight,” Lin Wuyu answered with his eyes closed.
It was the first time in his life that he’d slept in such a strange place, and maybe because he was too tired, Lin Wuyu even slept very soundly.
When he woke in the morning, he took a good while before he realized where he was.
The chairs around him were more or less filled with many people, all waiting to see the doctor. It was just him and Ding Ji sleeping here seriously.
Lin Wuyu glanced to the side and found that the person sitting on the massage chair wasn’t actually Ding Ji. He quickly stood up and took out his phone, wanting to call Ding Ji, but with difficulty, the phone told him that it was out of battery.
He looked at the clock on the wall again. Not bad, it wasn’t yet seven.
“Morning, xiao-gege .” Ding Ji’s voice came from behind him.
“Morning.” Lin Wuyu turned.
“Try to get by without a shower, you can get organized when you’re back at school.” Ding Ji gave him a travel-sized kit of mouthwash and a pack of wet wipes, and he’d even helped grab a portable charger for him. “Remember to return it!”
San Zhong and Fu Zhong weren’t in the same direction. When they walked to the hospital intersection Ding Ji was going straight and Lin Wuyu had to head right.
This path wasn’t too far, and it was only a few minutes, so it was very relaxing for Lin Wuyu to walk.
Early morning, light breeze, gauzy sunlight, a street that just woke up.
“I usually go to school on my own.” Ding Ji stretched. “Walking with you today, I kind of feel like I’m back in elementary school with my grandpa sending me to school.”
Lin Wuyu glanced at him: “You don’t seem to mind seniority.”
Ding Ji cracked up. When he walked to the intersection he waved at him: “I’m off, then.”
“Mm.” Lin Wuyu smiled.
After turning and taking a few steps to the right, he looked back again.
Ding Ji crossed the street, fishing out his phone as he walked.
Lin Wuyu watched for a few seconds, turning his head and continuing forwards, almost bumping into a woman right in front of him.
The woman unhappily glared at him: “Watch where you’re going!”
“Okie-dokie,” Lin Wuyu said.
He had a missed call from Liu Jinpeng this morning. Ding Ji wanted to call him back once he got to school, but he had just crossed the street when Liu Jinpeng’s second call came.
“Where are you?” Liu Jinpeng quickly picked up the phone on the other side.
“I’m going to school, where else could I be?” Ding Ji looked around him. Liu Jinpeng’s tone seemed a little urgent, and this made him immediately go on alert.
“Lao Liu is asking people about you, what happened?” Liu Jinpeng asked.
Ding Ji stopped: “I’ll tell you at school.”
“Don’t go to the mini-plaza for a bit,” Liu Jinpeng said. “You’re about to take an exam, keep a low profile.”
“Mm.” Ding Ji hung up the phone and didn’t continue walking forwards, calling a cab at the side of the road and directly going to school.
When he got in the car, his phone dinged.
It was a message from Lin Wuyu. He smiled and opened it.
— Do you always sleep on massage chairs?
Ding Ji laughed out loud.
— What’s wrong, I just like spending like this
— I just discovered my waist is a little sore, if you sleep like this every day it can’t be good for your health right
— Are you stupid! I usually sleep in my grandma’s ward, there’s a little folding chair that I can lay flat!
— Oh. Then good morning.
— Good morning.
 Gege (哥哥), which means older brother, is already a friendly way to refer to someone older than you, but adding xiao (小) in front of it, which means little, makes it sound a bit cuter. ↩