80 Fragments of Memory
“Senior Gao Qi, I've liked you for a long time now. Will you give me a chance?” The young lady lifted her head and called out at Gao Qi's appearance.
It was only then that he retracted his gaze from me and looked over the balcony ledge, shifting his attention to the lady down below.
Instantly, he broke into a warm smile. “Thank you.”
The smile on my face widened; anyone with common sense could decipher it—sometimes, 'thank you’ is equivalent to 'I’m sorry’.
In some context, gratitude is a form of rejection.
As expected, the lady was relentless, giving her best fight for the opportunity. “Does this mean you've agreed to be my boyfriend?”
“I will have to get back to you on that.” Deep down, that was the answer I expected from him. Senior Gao Qi’s gentle and kind personality was a known fact, and he had always taken extra care even in rejecting his admirers; he always did so in private, leaving those who confessed in front of an audience with their pride intact.
Gao Qi’s eyes curved into a perfect arc. “I'm sorry, I can't agree to that. I already have feelings for another.”
My eyes snapped wide open at that, looking up in disbelief at Gao Qi, who remained by the edge of the balcony.
He actually rejected her? And claimed that there was someone else he fancied?
H–how is this possible? Is this because I'm in a dream?
No… that can't be it. Li Qing once told me that dreams in the split zone are just memories of the past; unlike our previous life, these dreams cannot be formed by imagination alone. Although there may be slight alterations, the basis of the dream is based on unchangeable facts.
Dreams in the split zone are really just a trip down memory lane, so then… does that mean this really happened? This scene is a memory?
“Oh my God. Did you hear that? Gao Qi rejected her in front of an audience!”
“Yeah, yeah! How did this happen?”
The crowd erupted into a roar of gossip.
In the center of them all, the lady slipped her lips between her teeth. There was a glint of malicious grudge behind her eyes. “And who exactly is that? I am thoroughly interested in knowing who's capable of making you, Gao Qi, confess your feelings in this manner!
“… You know who I am, right? Even if you say her name now, I dare say she wouldn't have the guts to accept!”
Those words… sound so familiar…
Swiftly, I carefully sized up the girl who confessed. She donned a pink skirt.
… Wait. She’s the daughter of the principal, Duff!
I understood the underlying meaning behind her words; Gao Qi had never shown an interest in anyone and likewise rejected many confessions. If there was someone whom he had taken an interest in—regardless of who they are, they’ll definitely be the common nemesis of all ladies.
Even if we’re in university now, the jealousy and discrimination of women were still terrifying, much worse when the threat came from the daughter of the principal.
Actually, forget about the principal’s daughter; within the university, we have to be fearful of people with even the most minor roles. Moreover, Duff didn’t rely on her family background alone; her own interpersonal skill was nothing to be scoffed at. She was appointed Chairman of the Student Union after just a year in school. It was also said that she had personally led the outreach department into clinching a sponsorship deal with the most affluent company in the city. With both her abilities and family to back her up, her position in this school is unwavering—who would dare compete with her for a boyfriend?
“Li Shen, I like you. Do you dare accept it?” Gao Qi’s enchanting voice felt like a heavyweight bombshell at this moment, combusting into smithereens as it fell from the balcony above.
What a familiar feeling…
Did this really happen…? Could it be that he had truly confessed to me before, but I’ve forgotten all about them?
Motionlessly, I fixed my stare upon the calm and composed him on the second floor with a slight smile on his face.
Pomelo took a few steps closer to me, to point where I was sure I could almost feel her moist lips on my ear. Leaning on my shoulder, she started, “Are you happy, Li Shen? Your crush just confessed to you…”
I didn’t breathe a word, nor did I spare her a glance.
And so, she chuckled. “What should I do? I’m not happy about this at all; another person has emerged, threatening to rob you away from me…”
I felt a chill run down my spine.
“Her?! Gao Qi?” Incredulous, Duff turned and lifted a trembling finger towards me. “Gao Qi, you’re in love with a lunatic?” Her eyes enlarged, seemingly near hysteria.
Gao Qi, you’re in love with a lunatic?
Gao Qi, you’re in love with a lunatic?
Gao Qi, you’re in love with a lunatic?
No… Don’t taint him. Don’t taint him because of me. I’m already someone who’s down in the pits of darkness, how could I drag him down with me?
The thought was all too familiar; as it surged into my heart, it was as if I had already gone through this process before.
I told myself to calm down. I put up a desperate fight with this turmoil, reminding myself that this is a dream. It was just a memory that I’ve forgotten.
Don’t be manipulated by your memories, Li Shen. Calm down and watch what exactly went down during that time.
Just as I was doing my best to keep my composure in check, a series of screams rang from the crowd. I was greeted with the sight of Gao Qi leaping from his balcony when I looked up.
Even if the height of two storeys wouldn't be enough to inflict any critical damage, it was still dangerous!
Right after that familiar, striking yellow sport shoes made its landing, Gao Qi began strutting towards me. Accompanied by an innumerable number of glares which were tinged with animosity, he walked towards me step after step.
For some reason, as my eyes lingered upon this man with his radiant smile and gentle gaze, another name came to mind.
My gaze fleeted towards the man in front of me again. Gao Qi...
Is Gao Qi really as gentle and kind as I thought him out to be? The abrupt question that bubbled in my heart startled me.
He reached my side by then and like a bottomless pool, his eyes seemed to pull my gaze to him.
“Ah Shen, do you like me?”
“So it's a lunatic that you like?!” Without waiting for my reply, Duff’s humorless laugh filled the air from behind him.
Gao Qi’s eyes narrowed a little. Perhaps it was my time in the split zone that had polished my senses; in the instant, I felt a hint of danger emitting from him.
Duff was already strolling over, and a crowd slowly gathered around. Scoffing when she neared, she lifted a hand towards me. Gao Qi attempted to stop her, but with a nimble twist of her hand, her arm was already on my hair.
“What are you so worried about? I just wanted to touch her hair.” With a raised brow, she continued, “Such jet black hair. Ehehe, I've heard that your favorite color is red; you're always dressed in blood scarlet. Why don't you dye your hair red as well?”
I dropped my gaze for a second before lifting them up to meet hers again.
With an indecipherable smile decorating my features, I raised my left hand and coiled my fingers around Duff’s which were still resting atop my head.
I plucked her hand slowly from its spot, the words leaving my lips, “Thanks for the reminder. What a coincidence, I was just thinking of dyeing my hair.”
A flicker of viciousness flashed across her eyes. “I heard there's something wrong with your brain. Do you think you're good enough for him?” Duff yanked her hand back from mine in disgust; her eyes darted sidewards at Gao Qi.
Pomelo stood up without warning and with a giggle, she stretched out both her arms and shoved Duff.
“Ah!” Screams erupted once again from the crowd.
Staring down at astonished Duff who had fallen to the ground, Pomelo spoke up, “I'm the only one who’s allowed to bully her.”
By accident, Duff’s hair was caught under the sole of a spectator, making her attempt to get back on her feet an embarrassing struggle. Swatting the dust off herself, she glared at us venomously. “You are all lunatics! Karma will find you one day!”
With that, she fled, possibly because she had no desire of staying out in the open for long with her pathetic state.
Following Duff’s departure and our peculiar silence as the three of us stood rooted to the spot, the crowd finally got the message and began to disperse.
Pomelo returned to my side, donning a forced smile on her face when she regarded Gao Qi. “You are willing to sacrifice your God-like reputation just to snatch her away from me? What a pity, I'm afraid you’re not that capable yet.”
Gao Qi’s pupils contracted slightly at that but his smile remained. “I'll have to try to find out.”
As the two engaged in a stare down, I kept quiet at the side.
Eventually, Pomelo shrugged. “Have a chat. Ah Shen, I'll be waiting for you up ahead.”
She moved to leave the scene, only to stop abruptly in her step once more and turned back at me. She blinked. “Ah Shen, you know this, right? You'll never be able to leave me.”
It was only when she's out of range that I tilted my head towards Gao Qi.
It was gorgeous; the way Gao Qi’s alluring eyes were arched like the moon. I swept my eyes across his features in nostalgia.
I know that this is a dream; their conversation and its ending… all of it would unfold according to my memories. Even so, let me drink in the details of him once more since I'm already in this dreamscape.
“Ah Shen, you haven't given me an answer. Do you like me?”
“I do.” In a soft voice, I replied.
Gao Qi broke out in a satisfied laughter. “Then, are you willing to be by my side forever, regardless of the circumstances?”
My brows began to furrow.
Did Gao Qi speak these words to me before? Why do I not have an inkling of recollection about them?
Gao Qi, why are you speaking to me in such a manner?
“Even if I'm not as I seemed, even if I'm not the person you thought I was, will you still be able to stay with me?” In a seemingly doting gesture, he brought up a hand and coiled around a column of my hair.
Without recollection of this scene, I didn't know and hence, wasn't able to react as I had when it happened. I could only opt for silence.
“They called you a weirdo but I know you're the only one who understands me, right?” I couldn't put a finger to it but in that moment, the smile on Gao Qi’s face seemed to hold a hint of ruthlessness.
Why… why does this demeanor of his remind me so much of Gaoqin Jiuye?
Layer after layer of suspicions began to bubble to the surface, like I had caught on to something. As though he wasn't satisfied with the shallow pampering, he took two steps towards me, further closing our distance.
I didn't evade it.
His warm lips leaned towards my ear. “Ah Shen, how in love with me are you? Are you willing to die for me?” The deep, bewitching voice of his was coated with a layer of coldness that I recognized. It was like a summon from the grim reaper, ringing out with a bang beside my ears.
This scene… is far too foreign, yet so familiar at the same time.
Speaking my next words slowly, it was as if I'm about to clear the fog on the mystery. “You… who exactly are you?”
“Shen’er, it's time to wake up.”
Before Gao Qi could reply me, Nie Zun’s hollow and indifferent voice rang from the sky overhead.
Stunned by the sudden intrusion, I shot my head upwards and watched as the blue sky began to crack.
The entire world began to shatter.
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