[T/N]: Hello. Friendly reminders:
1. Gong and shou are biologically related! If this theme makes you feel uncomfortable, DON’T READ.
2. Definitely not for kids!!
3. This is a simple story, even a goldfish could grasp it without getting their fins in a twist. No need to strain those powerful braincells. If you want a challenging read, better fish around for another novel.
The pathway outside the Physics Experimental Teaching Center at D University was lined with a row of vibrant Chinese parasol trees. As the scorching summer sun beamed down, its rays filtered through the ample spaces between the parasol leaves, casting dappled patterns of light and shade upon the asphalt road.
Every now and then, a handful of pedestrians strolled past the nearby intersection, accompanied by the constant chorus of chirping cicadas hidden among the grass.
Ning Yiwei and his good friend Zhou Zirui walked out of the experimental center.
“Kong Zong is such a d-despicable villain!” Zhou Zirui’s face turned red as he clenched a lab manual. “I-I’ve never seen such a sh-shameless person in my entire life.”
“He had planned it in advance!” Ning Yiwei’s eyes took on a sinister look due to anger as he gritted his teeth. “If Professor Kong had been here, would he have dared to frame us like this?”
“Yes, yes,” Zhou Zirui raised his hand in an excited manner, “Du-during the weekly m-meeting, they bypassed us and rescheduled it for no r-reason, and then turned the tables, a-accusing us of unjustifiably skipping the meeting!”
Ning Yiwei let out a cold laugh. “Not even one percent of Professor Kong’s intelligence was inherited by that mediocre person who was recruited for Materials Physics. How dare he point fingers at me and try to kick us out of the group…”
“They even ca-called me fat,” Zhou Zirui added with a touch of grievance, “and st-stutter.”
“No, we couldn’t just leave it like that.” Ning Yiwei stopped in his tracks, turning around with uncontrollable anger, glancing at the tall building of the teaching center.
“Then what should w-we do?” Zhou Zirui also stared at the row of titanium letters on the building.
Ning Yiwei thought for a moment and said firmly, “I’m going to send an email to Professor Kong.”
After saying that, he opened his backpack, pulled out his phone, and opened his email to start typing. Just as he typed the words “Professor Kong,” Zhou Zirui grabbed his wrist.
“Yi-Yiwei,” Zhou Zirui’s expression showed a hint of hesitation, “J-Just wait a m-moment. A-After all, he’s Professor K-Kong’s own s-son. Will s-sending an email really make a d-difference? W-Would Professor Kong have any th-thoughts about us after reading the email?”
A faint blush appeared on Ning Yiwei’s pale cheeks—Zhou Zirui made a valid point. Although Professor Kong understood righteousness and wouldn’t be overly biased, blood was still thicker than water.
“W-What Assistant Cui said d-doesn’t count,” Zhou Zirui said again, “We’re s-still part of the group.”
Ning Yiwei met his gaze for two seconds, nodded, and put away his phone. “You’re right. Professor Kong will be back at school next week. We can explain it to him together when he returns.”
“Yes, yes,” Zhou Zirui nodded repeatedly, “The professor l-likes you so much. He will definitely be willing to be lenient with us! Let’s go first, I-I’m sweating so much.”
Zhou Zirui was tall and slightly overweight, prone to sweating excessively. They had only been outside for a few minutes, but he was already drenched in sweat, with visible watermarks on the back of his neck, soaking the collar of his t-shirt.
In contrast to Zhou Zirui, Ning Yiwei had pale skin and a slim physique, with wrists and calves that were only one-third the size of Zhou Zirui’s.
Ning Yiwei had elongated eyes that often evaded direct eye contact. His lips were thin and lightly colored. Whenever the corners of his mouth curled up, a hint of mockery was revealed. When people encountered Ning Yiwei for the first time, they couldn’t help but wonder why he appeared so dismissive towards everyone around him.
Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui were both senior students at D University. They had entered the university’s youth program together at the age of sixteen and chose the field of Modern Physics during their sophomore year. They had been conducting research in Professor Kong Fengshen’s research group for over a year.
The group used to be harmonious until this summer vacation when Professor Kong’s son, Kong Zong, abruptly joined the research group, disrupting the peaceful and serene ecosystem within the group.
In Ning Yiwei’s words, Kong Zong possessed a superpower called “self-inflicted humiliation.”
In terms of age, Ning Yiwei and Kong Zong were the same, with Ning Yiwei’s birthday falling just a day before Kong Zong’s.
With talent and diligence, Ning Yiwei had skipped three grades to enter the D University’s youth program. He was currently a senior and excelling academically. In contrast, Kong Zong started school at the age of eight, going through the regular nine years of compulsory education and three years of high school. He even needed Kong Fengshen’s connections to be admitted to the university, which speaks volumes about his intellectual level.
It was rare for a freshman to join the research group, especially from the Materials Physics Department. However, Kong Zong had the special status of being Professor Kong’s son, so no one questioned it much and treated him with great respect.
Initially, Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui were helping graduate students in the research group while working on their own small projects. They were quite comfortable and didn’t pay much attention to this newcomer. However, for some unknown reason, Kong Zong always found ways to target the two of them in front of Professor Kong, poking at them with inexplicable criticisms.
Zhou Zirui had a stuttering speech pattern and was not good at arguments, while Ning Yiwei was known for his sharp tongue and unwillingness to back down. Each time he managed to leave Kong Zong speechless, the senior students who were watching had to find a way to defuse the situation for Kong Zong.
This semester, Professor Kong was invited to be a visiting professor at a university in Japan, so he wasn’t on campus regularly. Most of the weekly research group meetings were chaired by the assistant teacher, Cui He.
The weekly research group meetings were of great importance. Professor Kong had made it clear that those who skipped the meetings without valid reasons would be considered as voluntarily leaving the group.
Three members of the group requested leave for this week’s meeting, so Assistant Cui rescheduled it and decided to hold it a day earlier. He asked Kong Zong to inform Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui.
Unexpectedly, Kong Zong failed to notify Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui, resulting in them missing the meeting. Later, Kong Zong blamed them for disregarding the rules and unjustifiably skipping the meeting.
Assistant Cui felt wary of Kong Zong and remained silent on the side while Kong Zong insisted on reading aloud the research group regulations written by Professor Kong. With a stern face, he demanded that Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui immediately leave the group.
Ning Yiwei, being stubborn by nature, couldn’t bear the provocation. He slammed the sign-up sheet on the table, interrupting Kong Zong, who was still trying to portray himself as righteous. With a determined tone, Ning Yiwei said, “Fine, we’ll leave then!”
Then, he grabbed Zhou Zirui and walked out of the teaching center building.
“D-don’t think about that despicable person,” Zhou Zirui took a few steps and calmed down, “Let’s go and have s-some ice cream!”
The vanilla ice cream at the glass house near the west entrance of the school was delicious. However, Ning Yiwei had a delicate stomach and only took a few spoonfuls before setting it down. Seeing Zhou Zirui finish his portion, Ning Yiwei pushed his own towards him and asked, “Do you want it?”
Zhou Zirui took it and ate with a determined expression, while Ning Yiwei leaned on his cheek, watching him, and launching the ninth mental attack on Kong Zong in his mind.
Just as he was attacking Kong Zong’s childish mental arithmetic abilities, Ning Yiwei caught a glimpse of a car’s headlights flashing on the road outside. He instinctively turned his head to look and happened to see Kong Zong walking towards a black sedan with a backpack on his back.
The sedan parked by the side of the road. Ning Yiwei couldn’t see the license plate from his angle, but the car felt familiar to him.
A few seconds later, he remembered. Liang Chong also had this car.
Ning Yiwei didn’t know much about cars, but he knew that this car was expensive and he hadn’t seen anyone else driving it on the street. He immediately became alert, keeping his eyes fixed on the opposite side of the road. He saw Kong Zong walking briskly towards the sedan, smiling and waving at someone inside. In the next second, the driver’s door of the sedan opened.
Zhou Zirui took a few bites, then looked up and noticed Ning Yiwei’s fierce gaze fixed on the glass. He followed Ning Yiwei’s line of sight and saw a well-dressed man with his back turned to them receiving Kong Zong’s backpack. The man then opened the door of a luxury car for Kong Zong.
“Ko-Kong Zong,” Zhou Zirui muttered under his breath, “This academic scum! He completely messed up the advanced math mi-midterm quiz and still wants to skip tonight’s class!”
Zhou Zirui had a cousin who worked as a lecturer in the Mathematics Department. He often made Zhou Zirui help him grade quiz papers. Last week, he was grading the quiz paper of Kong Zong’s first advanced math test and was shocked by the wild answers on that paper. While grading, he sent a text message to Ning Yiwei, insulting Kong Zong.
“I’m going to t-tell my cousin!” Zhou Zirui said again.
However, Ning Yiwei’s eyes remained fixed on the window. He didn’t respond to Zhou Zirui’s words even as the young man got into the car, closed the door, and sped away, leaving a trail of dust behind.
“Yiwei?” Zhou Zirui reached out and tapped Ning Yiwei’s shoulder, and only then did Ning Yiwei turn his head.
His expression of anger and frustration startled Zhou Zirui.
“Wh-what’s wrong with you?” Zhou Zirui asked in bewilderment.
Ning Yiwei’s expression softened slightly. He lowered his gaze and pointed at the bowl in front of Zhou Zirui. “Nothing, you eat.”
Zhou Zirui lowered his head and looked at the few remaining chunks of ice in the bowl, which had mostly melted into water. Small droplets of water had formed on the outer wall of the bowl. He stirred it with a spoon and let out an “Oh” before continuing to eat.
As the image of Liang Chong opening the car door for Kong Zong played in Ning Yiwei’s mind, a wave of darkness engulfed him.
Since Kong Zong joined the research group, nothing had gone smoothly for Ning Yiwei.
Kong Zong was Professor Kong’s own son, and no matter how talented a student could be, they would never have the privilege of being a biological son. Not only did Kong Zong have that privilege, but he even got into Liang Chong’s car. Ning Yiwei had known Liang Chong for so many years, done so many things together, but Liang Chong had never carried his backpack or opened the car door for him, not even once!
He finally understood why some people would want to go out and drown their sorrows in alcohol because the sweetness of ice cream couldn’t save him from the bitterness of benzalkonium chloride.
Ning Yiwei glanced at the darkening sky, took a few deep breaths, and maintained a basic level of composure. He asked Zhou Zirui, “Zirui, have you ever been to a bar? I’ll treat you. Let’s go see what it’s like.”
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