Chapter 528: There’s not much time remaining
According to Ms Fang, the female teacher she had coincidentally run into at the clinic was named Zhou Yuandai. The two had been colleagues for a few years. Despite having taught different years, specialised in different things and been in different offices, they had still interacted somewhat nevertheless.
Meeting again in a foreign country caused this originally simple relationship to turn rare, increasing its significance greatly. The two chatted happily and even exchanged contact details.
As for whether there were any obvious changes and differences with this woman, Xu Tingsheng had not asked Fang Yunyao about it after he had asked Fu Cheng, though she was surely more of an authority on this.
Xu Tingsheng had an innate fear and aversion towards this person and this matter. He hoped to avoid her as much as possible. Also, the less he knew the better.
People tend to feel uncomfortable when things are uncertain and abstract. In contrast, being wholly ignorant or completely in the know are both much better alternatives.
Another thing that Xu Tingsheng was unable to understand was this: Fang Yunyao knew this person, Fu Cheng had seen her too, and even Huang Yaming and Song Ni back in China had an impression of this music teacher from their former school, having remembered her when she was brought up…
Song Ni was even certain that that person had suddenly stopped coming to class when Wu Yuewei was in her second year, though for some reason, the disappearance of this music teacher had not stirred up any fuss whatsoever.
“Right, she was even a substitute teacher for us once when we were in eleventh grade. She sang very well, and played the guitar very well too,” Fu Cheng suddenly recalled another fact.
Yet, Xu Tingsheng searched through his memories countless times and found that he actually truly had no memory or impression of such a person at all. It was like she had never appeared or existed, though she must have.
This exacerbated his fear and escapism to a very huge degree.
In fact, if he wished to, Xu Tingsheng could definitely go verify some things with that chubby nurse. For instance, was that woman the rich customer who sponsored their clinic and had previously undergone full-body plastic surgery or not?
Still, Xu Tingsheng quashed all such thoughts. He found that he simply did not want to verify or understand this.
“So what if I prove it? Investigate her? Put her in jail? Expose a shocking secret?” Xu Tingsheng thought, “I don’t want that. Everything is already wonderful enough for me now. I don’t want to risk anything, break this balance…”
Despite having been reborn, Xu Tingsheng was ultimately not like many of those reborn main characters from novels, superhumans who possessed a sense of justice and curiosity. There were very few things that he wished to protect and grasp, yet these were all very precious to him, hence his caution.
He himself being a variable factor, what he was most afraid of were actually variable factors.
The woman did not appear over the next few days. Only on the day of Fang Yunyao’s return flight did she unexpectedly show up at the airport to see them off.
Xu Tingsheng’s first reaction was to pull Fu Cheng aside and then escape. The two smoked a cigarette outside the airport. The woman chatted with Fang Yunyao inside for a very long time. Then, she passed by Xu Tingsheng and Fu Cheng as she exited.
“There’s not much time remaining. You shouldn’t dawdle,” The woman said.
This could be considered the very first thing she had said to Xu Tingsheng, during which she was smiling and speaking in a natural tone. Logically speaking, she should be reminding Xu Tingsheng and Fu Cheng who were still outside not to dawdle as it was nearly time to board their plane. They should hurry through the security checks…
It could not be any more normal a sentence, truthfully.
Yet, for some unknown reason, Xu Tingsheng felt like: These words were meant for him and him alone, while ‘not much time remaining’ did not actually refer to the matter of boarding the plane.
“Alright, we’ll be heading in then. Bye, Ms Zhou,” Fu Cheng replied politely and headed away.
The woman nodded to Fu Cheng.
Xu Tingsheng unconsciously raised his head to look at her.
The corners of her mouth curled upwards.
Xu Tingsheng swiftly averted his gaze, turned and followed Fu Cheng into the airport. He was very much tempted to turn back and take a look...but he didn’t.
His heart beating frantically, a tight sense of unease filled his chest as his panic only began to slowly subside when the plane left the ground.
“It must have been a mistake, I was thinking too much...that’s a very normal thing to say. Right, my mind was playing tricks on me.”
“Actually, even if there is really anything strange about her...the plane has taken off normally with nothing abnormal happening at all...it should have nothing to do with me; it’s good that henceforth, there will be no interactions between us...”
Around fourteen hours later, the plane landed in Shenghai. Fu Cheng and Fang Yunyao went on ahead back to Yanzhou while Xu Tingsheng stayed on for a day.
Using that one day, Xu Tingsheng held a day-long meeting at Xingchen Technologies where he virtually decided everything on his own authority in changing the company’s original expansion route to a more conservative one of stabilising their foundations.
Xingchen would cease its diversification of services for the time being, focusing on consolidating and strengthening its current services. They would excavate their potential and profit-generating capacity while also accumulating funds and training their teams.
On one hand, this was because of how antagonistic Apple’s father was being, whacking everything he saw like whack-a-mole as Xu Tingsheng had no choice but to lay low.
Next was something Xu Tingsheng had suddenly recalled after his bid to invest in Facebook had been obstructed in America this time-the impending financial crisis that was to begin in America in 2007 and thereafter engulf the entire world.
In terms of expanding their sectors and efficiency of funds, the best opportunity was there.
From the ‘ruins’, he would be able to obtain many things for the cheapest price and most unequal conditions.
There was less than a year remaining before this happened. What Xu Tingsheng had to do before this disaster befell others and his time to profit arrived was accumulate sufficient funds and room in which to maneuver as much as possible.
They could, should cease their expansion for the time being. The more they had on their plate, the lower their agility would be when the time came.
After setting the tone for Xingchen’s development over the next half year, it was already night by the time Xu Tingsheng arrived back in Yanzhou.
After leaving the highway, as he was very close to the university, he dropped by his dormitory to pick up some clothes.
Xu Tingsheng had thought that Old Wai and Tan Yao who were already living outside of school aside, his other roommates who had gone on an internship should not have returned as the room should be empty. In the end, he was surprised to find their lights on with Li Xingming inside. Knees raised, he was resting against his pillow that was propped up, a large book in front of him.
He seemed to be asleep, not having noticed Xu Tingsheng entering.
Xu Tingsheng was cheered up by ordinary little scenes of daily life like this. Returning from an inconceivable fantasy to simple, ordinary life caused one to feel more grounded in reality.
After collecting his clothes, Xu Tingsheng glanced at Li Xingming a few times. He thought that his sleeping posture was very awkward and might cause his body to ache all over after waking up the next morning.
Out of concern for his roommate, Xu Tingsheng slowly walked over. He carefully pried the book from his hands as he was just about to help him set his pillow and lie down properly.
“What are you doing, Bro Xu?” Li Xingming looked up and asked.
Xu Tingsheng was taken aback, “You weren’t asleep?”
Li Xingming shook his head, “I was too immersed in reading and didn’t notice you’d returned. Still, I really didn’t fall asleep.”
“You can’t do this even if my eyes are small! No matter what, there’s still a slit open, right?” Li Xingming muttered and tried hard to open his eyes wide, though still not managing to produce more than a slit.
Xu Tingsheng laughed and flipped through the book, commenting, “Administrative ability, huh? Are you aiming to be a civil servant?”
Li Xingming nodded, “After going out for an internship for some time, I found that I’m really not cut out to be a teacher and didn’t enjoy it too. And so, I came back early. I’ve been here for half a month already, but none of you returned. Then, I was bored, so...I thought I might as well start to prepare for taking the civil servant exam early. My Mum and Dad hope that I will, and I myself also feel that this is the path most suited for me after I graduate. What could I do, otherwise?”
“Being a civil servant is pretty good. It’s stable, has a decent social status, makes it much easier to find a wife and even promises great prospects if you do well,” Xu Tingsheng agreed.
“Right. Still, I’m not really aiming towards great prospects or anything, only...a good, stable position,” Li Xingming sat straighter and said, “Do you know, Bro Xu? In the past, I actually never had the realisation of looking for a job after graduating, depending on myself to earn money. I was used to just going through my days haphazardly just like that. Returning to our dormitory that day, I didn’t feel lonely at all despite being alone. As usual, I happily opened my laptop and started playing <<Fantasy Westward Journey>>...do you know what happened afterwards?”
“Your account was hacked? Disillusioned, you decided to study instead?” Xu Tingsheng answered, smiling.
“No,” Li Xingming calmly got out of bed, turned on his laptop, logged into the game, opened the items tab and said, “I created a ‘no level’…”
“...The heck! Shouldn’t you be overjoyed then?!”
Xu Tingsheng scooted over and looked at the stats bar that had appeared with the mouse hovering over the item. Below the Level 120 weapon ‘Slaying Demon Weeping Blood’, the words ‘no level restriction’ could clearly be seen.
Even though from a financial standpoint, it would be easy for the current Xu Tingsheng to buy a complete set of ‘no level restriction’ equipment, he could not help but be excited by having such godly luck in a game.
It was just like how having played <<Fantasy Westward Journey>> in his previous life, while he had been the slowest to act, he had luckily captured his first ever mutated Furong Fairy in a single go. At that time, Furong Fairy had been a godly pet that only rich people were able to afford.
“Crazy, right?” Li Xingming said, “That day, I randomly identified it, clicked and froze for a second...then I leapt up, cursing while yelling: Guys, get over here, look what I’ve got?! Look what I’ve got?! I was really crazy overjoyed at the time, wanting to show off good in front of you all. I even thought that you guys would swoop over, restrain me while cursing at my luck before forcing me to sell it and treat you to a meal…”
“I yelled, yelled, danced in joy...there was no response at all. Then I turned and saw that the entire room was empty. Only then did I remember that...you all weren’t here. I had no place to show off to. No one would swoop over to restrain me, forcing me to treat them to a meal. Can I be sentimental for a bit, Bro Xu? I really felt very lonely at that moment.”
Here was someone who had previously graduated, entered society and been lonely listening to a silly, libido-driven youth admitting that he was lonely for the first time...Xu Tingsheng patted Li Xingming’s shoulder and passed him a cigarette.
Li Xingming lit the cigarette and continued, “So I sat alone in front of my laptop for a long time, thinking about stuff. So, I would graduate. So, I’m already in my third year, soon to be fourth. There shouldn’t be much time in our fourth year that everyone is together...then we’ll all be heading our various ways, working, being busy, seldom getting to meet.”
“Actually, it should be very similar to how it is now. Bro Xu, you, Old Wai and Tan Yao all have your own careers. You’re very busy, though this also means you don’t have to worry about your futures. As for Lu Xu and Lil’ Bro, they both have girlfriends. Even as they do their internships now, they’re already beginning to think about where to work after they graduate to continue being in the same place as their girlfriends. They already started working hard towards it, discussing things with each other...even if they have worries or differing opinions and argue for a bit, they still have someone at the very least.”
“As for me, though? There’s only me who doesn’t know who to look for, doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know how it’ll be like when only I alone remain…”
“...It’s not like we can’t see each other after we graduate. And besides, there’s still one more year,” Xu Tingsheng comforted.
He seemed to realise only now that in the entire Room 602, it had actually always been Li Xingming who was loneliest. It was just that as he was always being shameless and messing around, never showing this side of himself, no one had ever noticed and paid any attention to it.
“Right,” Li Xingming nodded, smiling rather awkwardly, “Didn’t I catch up that day though? Even I thought deeply about things for once. Anyway, it was then. I thought that I have to find a path, a path that I can see...and then I logged out of the game, went out and bought a book for studying to be a civil servant. Over the half month that has passed since, besides eating and sleeping, I’ve only been reading and doing practice questions everyday. With that, my heart has slowly felt reassured. I have a feeling that I’ll definitely pass the test. With that, I no longer panic, and can feel stable and at ease.”
He looked at Xu Tingsheng who nodded, saying ‘definitely’.
Li Xingming locked the item, turned off the game and casually pressed uninstall.
“I’ll sell this sword for a meal when us bros graduate...let it be my treat.”
Li Xingming hesitated for a while before saying, “Also, regarding that matter, don’t worry about it anymore, Bro Xu. Even I’ve put it behind me.”
Xu Tingsheng knew that Li Xingming was referring to the matter with their junior, Yu Yayang. He had participated in this affair, baiting her with Hucheng’s internship assistant position to help Li Xingming get back at her. Still, when even Xu Tingsheng himself had left Hucheng afterwards, he had ultimately not followed up with this matter.
He had heard that Yu Yayang’s attitude towards Li Xingming had ‘naturally’ reversed again. Ultimately, he had failed to reach that superior position.
“Actually, if you’re really unwilling and want to do something...it’s just an internship position. Even now, I still can manage it at Hucheng,” Xu Tingsheng said.
...In crude terms, Li Xingming had been treated as a fool for so long. Even if it was only for him to lord over that woman for once, Xu Tingsheng would still be willing to do him this favour.
But Li Xingming shook his head.
“I’ve already deleted all her contact details...it’s impossible that she’d like me, I’m fully aware of that. So, even if you help me and she is actually with me for a while, I think that for such a woman to be by my side...I would probably only be more lonely, feel more empty inside.”
Xu Tingsheng naturally felt that it was a good thing that Li Xingming had properly thought things through. With that, there was truly no need for him to intervene.
As he himself had said, to beg and keep someone who doesn’t love you in the first place by your side...there actually won’t be any warmth at all, only a much higher degree of solitude.
The two chatted for a while more before Li Xingming looked at the time and said, “It’s getting late, Bro Xu. You should leave first if you’re busy.”
“I’m not, really. How about I stay in the dormitory tonight?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“Don’t,” Li Xingming smiled, “I still have to read...there’s not much time remaining.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Slight, simple feels..