“If I die, who are you going to ask for money?” The person shook their arm.
“He can actually lend you money?” Liu Jinpeng followed at Ding Ji’s side, chattering the whole way. “Where did a high schooler like him get a hundred thousand? Did he commit a crime? Is he gonna sell you out to someone…”
“If he says he has a hundred thousand then he has a hundred thousand. Who knows how much money he has? Besides, who cares where he got a hundred thousand? It’s not like I’m trying to borrow a hundred thousand from him,” Ding Ji said. “Stop yammering. Those people you borrowed from, any one of them is more troublesome than Lin Wuyu, okay! Where did you get the nerve, I’m asking you!”
“Who did I do it for!” Liu Jinpeng was offended.
“If you hadn’t done it for me I would’ve hit you a long time ago!” Ding Ji glared at him.
After glowering at him for a couple seconds he reached his arm out and wrapped it around Liu Jinpeng’s shoulders: “Thanks Pengpeng, I mean it.”
“Don’t mention it.” Liu Jinpeng shook his head. “Fuck that unreliable Da Dong, he just had to poke this thing and let you know! I’m gonna kill him one day or another.”
“You couldn’t return his money, so he could only find me! In the future don’t do these sorts of things behind my back,” Ding Ji said. “If anything comes up, we can always solve it by discussing it together.”
Liu Jinpeng let out a muffled noise, still very peeved.
Ding Ji and Lin Wuyu arranged to meet in front of the milk tea shop next to Xinjia. There was still some time before the agreed-upon time, so the two of them grabbed a cup of milk tea each and stood by the street.
Liu Jinpeng wasn’t participating in this conference, but he insisted on waiting for Ding Ji nearby.
“You should still be careful right now. Say, we’ve hung around this area for so many years without running into any issues, but who could imagine that Lao Liu would suddenly come out with this thing.” Liu Jinpeng frowned. “The zhuangyuan-to-go looks like a good person on the surface, but he didn’t hesitate at all when it came to lending money. If he’s too straightforward I’m not reassured.”
“He’s the zhuangyuan-to-be! Not the zhuangyuan-to-go!” Ding Ji was a little exasperated.
“Zhuangyuan-to-go.” Liu Jinpeng persisted in his creativity. “In any case, I’m still suspicious of him right now.”
“You’ve got it coming,” Ding Ji said. “You worry more than my grandma. Don’t poke at this anymore, this is a large street, and we’re meeting at a milk tea shop. What could he do?”
“I don’t know.” Liu Jinpeng’s manner was very indifferent. “It’s not like I have anywhere else to go.”
“Then you…fuck!” Ding Ji abruptly stopped halfway through speaking. He had caught a glimpse of Lao Liu walking over from the mini plaza and immediately elbowed Liu Jinpeng. “Don’t hold me back!”
“I’m gonna fucking bring him over here!” Liu Jinpeng saw Lao Liu at the same time as him, roughly slamming his milk tea on the little table to the side. “Wait for me behind the milk tea shop.”
Ding Ji turned and headed behind the shop.
Lao Liu had quite the guts too. If it were Ding Ji and he had done this sort of dishonest thing, he wouldn’t have dared to appear in the mini plaza within a year.
Maybe it was the wild joy of avoiding a robbery, incredibly wild.
When Liu Jinpeng dragged him behind the milk tea shop by the collar of his shirt, his face still had the ripples of an irritated expression.
Only when he saw Ding Ji did he change his countenance.
“I…” Lao Liu quickly propped himself up wanting to jump up.
“Why don’t you fucking die here!” Ding Ji strode over and kicked his shoulder.
Lao Liu fell back to the ground, shouting the whole time: “Ding Ding Ding Ding…listen to me explain, I had no choice either, I really…”
“Ding your uncle I’m fucking Dang Dang Dang Dang!” Ding Ji threw himself at him and slammed his knee into his chin. “For people like you if laozi doesn’t beat you up and thrash you till dawn I won’t even know what propriety is!”
Lao Liu was turned over on the ground by him. Probably seeing that Ding Ji had no plans to talk to him today, he quickly pulled his legs in, kicking them out at Ding Ji.
Ding Ji didn’t even dodge, directly bending his waist, using his arm to block the kick, then rushed over to grab his shirt collar to press him on the floor, his knee coming up to push down on his stomach.
Then he swung his fist and smashed it into Lao Liu’s face: “You fucking dared to screw over your Ding-xiaoye!”
“I had no choice at the time!” Lao Liu shielded his head. “If I didn’t take out that money, I would’ve been beaten to a cripple by Baldy and the others!”
“Whether you’re crippled or not isn’t my goddamn business! I wasn’t the one who squandered that money!” Ding Ji slapped his face. “You think I don’t have the guts to cripple you huh!”
“Looks like it.” Liu Jinpeng leaned against the back wall of the milk tea shop next to them, drinking tea and nodding. “You really don’t dare to cripple him, and you can’t, because after all, we’re still upright youths.”
“Right! Right!” Even with his arms raised Lao Liu couldn’t resist the storms and showers that Ding Ji was swinging at him, his face ringing from the punches and slaps. Upon hearing this, he quickly shouted, “Right! Ding-ye you’ve never caused trouble, everyone knows that…”
“So you screwed me over!” Ding Ji jumped up, starting to kick him. “You screwed me over! I’m telling you! If I don’t see the money by the end of the month I’ll make it so you kneel whenever you think of my name for the rest of your life!”
“Ding ah.” Liu Jinpeng called to him at his side.
“You dared to screw laozi over!” Ding Ji continued to kick and beat him. “Whether your Ding-ye causes trouble or not, doesn’t mean that you can fucking provoke me!”
“Ding ah.” Liu Jinpeng called him again.
“Money!” Ding Ji ignored Liu Jinpeng, giving Lao Liu’s bottom another stomp.
“I promise I’ll pay you back!” Lao Liu hugged his head, finally finding the opportunity to crawl to his feet from the ground, stumbling and wanting to run to the street.
Ding Ji gave the back of his thigh another kick.
Lao Liu sank to his knees, but scrambled to his feet again very quickly, shouting as he ran: “I promise! Ding-ge! Ding-ye! I promise!”
“Ding Ji ah!” Liu Jinpeng shouted once more.
Ding Ji’s rage was still flaming at the top of his head. He didn’t even spare him a glance before chasing after Lao Liu.
Lao Liu ran a few steps and reached the street, then continued to take a right, running in the direction of Xinjia.
Chasing him to the corner, Ding Ji staggered to the side, getting out of the way of a person turning the corner.
When he was about to head right and give chase, the person standing in the corner suddenly reached out an arm, grabbing him by the waist.
The huge amount of inertia made him almost unable to be reined in.
Not waiting for him to come to his senses, this person had already used their strength to push him back.
“You wanna die!” Ding Ji roared.
“If I die, who are you going to ask for money?” The person shook their arm.
“…Lin Wuyu?” Ding Ji looked over and froze. “Why are you here?”
“Didn’t we plan to meet here?” Lin Wuyu glanced at the milk tea shop next to them.
“Fuck.” Ding Ji was a little embarrassed. This scene was really too harmful to his image as the top student at San Zhong. He abruptly looked back at Liu Jinpeng.
Liu Jinpeng gestured at him helplessly, mouthing: “I called you.”
“I want a cup of the same milk tea as what’s on that table.” Lin Wuyu pointed at the table in front of the front entrance of the shop.
Two women and a man sat at the table. Where they were sitting, they were perfectly able to see the scene of Ding Ji mercilessly beating up Lao Liu. With Lin Wuyu pointing at them now, they all stood up, grabbed their cups and left hurriedly.
“That’s ice cream, it’s milk under it, it’s a blob of ice cream on top, what milk tea.” Ding Ji walked over to the milk tea shop’s checkout counter. “Where does the tea come from?”
“Where’s Liu Xpeng?” Lin Wuyu sat next to the table.
“I don’t know, he’ll just be wandering around this area, no need to look after him.” Ding Ji stood in front of the checkout counter. “Give me…”
“I won’t.” The young woman at the cash register was Liang Chun, his elementary school classmate. Usually she wouldn’t accept his money, but today her attitude was particularly fierce.
“Did I do something to you?” Ding Ji was slightly bewildered.
“Beating people up behind my shop? Do you even have a sense of camaraderie between classmates anymore, huh?” Liang Chun said. “You scared off those three customers just now!”
“If they were scared off they were scared off,” Ding Ji said. “Didn’t they already buy milk tea?”
“They just ordered three shares of sweet fermented rice tangyuan! They ran off without even paying,” Liang Chun said. “I’d already finished making it!”
“Give it to me then,” Ding Ji said.
“Drinking my family’s milk tea for free, and still wanting me to give you three shares of tangyuan?” Liang Chun eyed him. “Ding Ji where did you come from, you debt-collecting ghost?”
“I’ll pay for it!” Ding Ji glared at her.
“Okie dokie, a cup of milk tea, a cup of ice cream, and three shares of sweet fermented rice tangyuan,” Liang Chun immediately said. “Anything else?”
“Do you have those egg waffles with the cheese and red bean stuffing that I ate with Pengpeng before?” Ding Ji.
“We do, do you want a share?” Liang Chun asked.
Ding Ji thought about the size of a share of egg waffles, and hesitated for a moment: “Give me five shares first.”
“Are you playing with me?” Liang Chun said. “If you can’t finish it I won’t refund you.”
“As afternoon tea…I’m even afraid it won’t be enough.” Ding Ji scanned the code and paid.
Ding Ji came over with the milk tea and ice cream, placing it on the table: “There’s some food too, she’ll bring it over in a bit.”
“We can’t eat that much, right,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Don’t you feel guilty saying that?” Ding Ji sat down.
Lin Wuyu didn’t say anything, smiling as he took a few bandaids out of his pocket and tossed it in front of him: “Your hand’s busted, put that on.”
“Hm?” Ding Ji looked at his own hand. There were a few cuts on his knuckles, probably opened when he was smashing Lao Liu up.
There were two cuts that were pretty big too, and they just happened to be in the middle of his knuckles. He didn’t know if it was because his temper and blood were rising, and also the slight awkwardness from Lin Wuyu witnessing him going berserk beating someone up, but he hadn’t felt like it hurt. With Lin Wuyu’s reminder now, he suddenly felt like there were two big ants waving their big teeth and biting him.
“Thanks.” Ding Ji took the bandaids and stuck them on his two cuts. “How come you’re carrying these with you?”
“They’re leftover.” Lin Wuyu pointed at his own face. “Got them from the school nurse’s office.”
Only then did Ding Ji examine the cut on his face closely. It was basically healed. The middle of the cut was somewhat deeper, so it probably wasn’t entirely better, so Lin Wuyu stuck a bandaid over it.
“Let’s talk.” Lin Wuyu took his ice cream, pulled out the little spoon and slowly started poking the cup.
“That person just now was Lao Liu, if you remember.” Ding Ji knit his brows. “He was helping Baldy collect money, but after collecting it he couldn’t hand it over, so Baldy was going to sort him out when he said that he gave the money to me.”
“Hm?” Lin Wuyu raised an eyebrow, somewhat shocked. This sort of mystifying reasoning could see the light of day?
“Funny, right?” Ding Ji said. “By chance, after that, I stopped coming to the mini plaza, worried that Baldy would try to stir up trouble, but then Baldy really thought I took the money.”
“So you have to give him money?” Lin Wuyu said.
“Give him my ass!” Ding Ji said. He paused then let out a sigh. “He went to find Pengpeng. That Baldy is just like sticky candy stuck to a knife. Pengpeng was afraid this would affect my studies, so he restlessly gathered up money and gave it to Baldy. He only had three thousand on hand, and the rest was all borrowed, and the people he borrowed from weren’t exactly good things either, so I want to just return the money first. I don’t want to wait until I finish the gaokao to find out that Pengpeng got beaten to death by debt collectors.”
“It can’t go that far over twenty thousand, right.” Lin Wuyu chuckled. “Then what are you planning to do about the money?”
“Keep an eye on Lao Liu, of course. I’ll beat him up every time I see him, and search him. If he has money I’ll take it, and if he doesn’t I’ll take everything he has and pawn it.” Ding Ji gnashed his teeth.
“For someone like that, he can’t cough it up even if you smash him to pieces, right?” Lin Wuyu said.
“In the end I still have tricks. I know where his dad works. If I really need it, his dad can bring it out…” Ding Ji said this with some difficulty, eyebrows knit tightly. “But his dad’s got a bad leg, he’s carrying gas tanks for people, if I really asked for it from him I think…”
Lin Wuyu didn’t say anything, fingers supporting his temples, watching him.
“Fuck.” Somewhat gloomily, Ding Ji slapped the table, then lifted his head to look at him. “In this situation, my last possibility is beating up Lao Liu as I work to return your money. I definitely can’t mention it to my family. I’m afraid my grandparents would cuss me out.”
Lin Wuyu still didn’t speak or move, just watching him.
“Are you done evaluating the risks?” Ding Ji asked. “Is it that under these circumstances…I can’t borrow it?”
Lin Wuyu smiled, took out his phone, lowered his head and poked at it a few times.
Ding Ji felt his phone vibrate. When he took it out, he saw there was a transfer notification.
“No no, I wanted to borrow twenty thousand,” Ding Ji said. “I have a few thousand on my end.”
“Let it go,” Lin Wuyu said. “I like pooling things together, I don’t like odds and ends. It’s not like I’ll chase after you after the gaokao to collect debts and beat you to death.”
Ding Ji cracked up.
After clicking “receive money” he suddenly kind of wanted to cry.
He lifted a hand to rub his eyes.
“Don’t cry.” Lin Wuyu sat upright at once. “I really don’t know how to comfort you.”
“Piss off.” Ding Ji sniffed, and smiled as he said, “I’m just expressing thanks as usual.”
The waitress brought the tangyuan and egg waffles out, arranging it on the table.
“Feeding a pig?” Lin Wuyu took an egg waffle and tore a piece off, putting it in his mouth.
“I’ll write you an IOU.” Ding Ji looked back and was about to ask the people in the shop for a pen and paper. “I…”
“No need.” Lin Wuyu ate two tangyuan. “There’s not much of a point. If you really wanted to write one, can you write down what time? Can you write down what you’ll do if you can’t return it?”
Ding Ji watched him.
“Then write it my ass.” Lin Wuyu pointed at the egg waffles. “This is really good.”
“It’s all yours.” Ding Ji immediately dumped all the shares of egg waffles onto two plates, pushing it in front of Lin Wuyu.
“Ding Ji.” Lin Wuyu watched him.
“Hm?” Ding Ji replied.
“I’ve never lent money to anyone,” Lin Wuyu said. “Of course, I don’t have many friends, and they’ve never asked to borrow money from me, but I know that under normal circumstances I won’t lend money, because I’m afraid it’ll be inconvenient, and that we can’t get even.”
“Mm.” Ding Ji nodded.
“I’m lending you money because other than you being reliable, it’s because you really need it urgently, Liu X…Liu Jinpeng took too big of a risk,” Lin Wuyu said. “But if you’re like this again, I won’t lend it to you.”
Ding Ji eyed him for a while, then nodded: “Got it.”
“Let’s just leave this matter here, and figure it out after the exam,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Okay.” Ding Ji stared blankly in silence for a while, then with some hesitation he asked: “Do you really not have a boy…friend?”
“I don’t.” Lin Wuyu lifted the corner of his mouth. “Why, are you volunteering yourself?”
“Piss off!” Ding Ji knocked at the table with his milk tea. He thought for a bit, then smiled. “I just feel like a person like you is really so…well, based on usual circumstances, if you liked girls, you would probably have lots of girlfriends.”
“No rush,” Lin Wuyu said. “Quality goods sink to the bottom.”
“The hell are you saying.” Ding Ji cracked up, reaching a hand out to clutch an egg waffle.
“Didn’t you say it was all mine?” Lin Wuyu quickly flicked his finger, the egg waffle falling back onto the plate.
“The fuck?” Ding Ji glared at him. “What kind of person are you!”
“The kind of person who should have lots of boyfriends,” Lin Wuyu said.
Ding Ji choked, then laughed for a good while.
“Let me ask you,” Lin Wuyu lifted the cup and poured the rest of the ice cream into his mouth, “how did you think of asking to borrow money from me?”
“I really didn’t have anyone to borrow from. As far as the eye could see, they were all just ordinary high school students, and those hoodlums I usually play with,” Ding Ji said. “Who could take out twenty or thirty thousand at once? I just remembered that you said you were financially independent since middle school.”
“You’ve got a good memory.” Lin Wuyu laughed.
“I thought, it’s gotta be him, he has money and a soft heart,” Ding Ji said.
“Am I softhearted?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“Yep.” Ding Ji nodded. “I knew it the first time I read your palm, and after interacting with you I knew it even more, I’m very accurate when it comes to reading people…although when I came to find you I really was very embarrassed.”
“Yeah, you even added a twist, making me ask you,” Lin Wuyu said.
Ding Ji snickered: “It’s a good thing it’s you. If it were Pengpeng, he might’ve really helped me find a place to work.”
“Why don’t you take me out to dinner in a bit,” Lin Wuyu said as he ate egg waffles.
“That’s a must,” Ding Ji said. “I’ll transfer the money to Pengpeng first, let him quickly return it first.”
Lin Wuyu nodded.
“There’s something I’m really curious about.” Ding Ji swiped at his phone. “I just don’t know if it’s convenient for you to say it or not.”
“Then don’t ask,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Can you really lend me a hundred thousand?” Ding Ji asked.
“Are you regretting not asking to borrow a hundred thousand just now,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Do you think I’m crazy? How would I return a hundred thousand.” Ding Ji tsked.
Lin Wuyu smiled and said nothing.
Ding Ji leaned on the table. Separated by a pile of egg waffles, he lowered his voice to ask: “Where did you get that much money from?”
“Some of it is new year’s money, my parents are pretty generous when celebrating the new year,” Lin Wuyu said. “There’s some that’s saved from moonlighting too, I usually don’t have many expenses either.”
“What do you mean moonlighting?” Ding Ji couldn’t help but continue to keep his voice lowered.
“Keep this a secret.” Lin Wuyu lowered his voice too, leaning on the table, nudging the pile of egg waffles on the table aside. “Male prostitution.”
Ding Ji stared at him in astonishment: “Can you fucking act a bit more like an academic god?”
Lin Wuyu laughed for a long time. After he sat up, he withdrew his smile: “Have you flown a drone before?”
“No.” Ding Ji shook his head.
“I’ll take you after the exam,” Lin Wuyu said.
None this time!