After finishing his shower, Ning Yiwei stood up and said to Liang Chong, who was carrying a stool out, “I wasn’t sleepy after the shower. What was wrong with me?”
Just as he finished speaking, Ning Yiwei’s phone, which he had placed on the sink, lit up. He picked it up and glanced at it—it was an email from Kong Shenfeng.
“Professor Kong sent me an email again!” Ning Yiwei happily leaned over to Liang Chong, showing him his phone. “I wonder if it was about that new article! Could it be the one I discussed with Zirui a few days ago?”
Liang Chong looked down and said, “It’s probably a mass email.”
Ning Yiwei snorted, took back his phone without looking up, and cherished the new email notification on the lock screen. He said, “You don’t understand anything about the matters between us teacher and student.”
This Liang Chong, unaware of the situation, only poured cold water without knowing the truth. If he had seen the email exchanges between Ning Yiwei and Professor Kong, he would have been surprised and looked at him with admiration.
“Fine, I don’t understand.” Liang Chong leaned over and insisted on looking at the emails together with Ning Yiwei. “Let me learn about the teacher-student relationship. ‘Additional explanation of the group meeting management rules by Professor Kong Shenfeng’—more than eighty recipients, isn’t this a mass email?”
Ning Yiwei hesitated for a moment, then opened the email.
The email content was straightforward. Kong Shenfeng used a few concise sentences to add an additional rule to the previously established group meeting management regulations. It was called the “meeting rescheduling and second check-in rule.” The specific details stated that the responsible person for rescheduling the meeting would notify everyone, and the responsible person had the obligation to collect confirmations of awareness of the rescheduling and submit them to the assistant teacher for archiving before the meeting.
At the end of the email, Kong Shenfeng added, “Due to the occurrence of notification omissions during the last regular meeting, and after reviewing the meeting records, I find the meeting’s effectiveness and discipline to be extremely unsatisfactory. Therefore, the last regular meeting is deemed invalid. It will be rescheduled to Saturday evening at 6:00 pm. Please reply upon receipt. Additionally, during the presentation phase, Kong Zong will give a literature explanation report of his own choice of topic.”
Finally, he signed the email.
Ning Yiwei read it twice, pondered for a moment, and hesitantly said to Liang Chong, “Do you think Professor Kong’s email is too coincidental?”
“Didn’t notice,” Liang Chong quickly replied.
Ning Yiwei took a few steps, sat down on the soft sofa cushion in the adjacent hall on the second floor, looked up at Liang Chong, and asked, “You haven’t contacted him yet, have you?”
No matter how he thought about it, Ning Yiwei felt that Professor Kong’s additional rule was aimed at their argument with Kong Zong. But how did Professor Kong know about it?
“What do you think?” Liang Chong lowered his head and looked at Ning Yiwei, asking in return.
After thinking for a moment, Ning Yiwei blinked his eyes, raised his hand, and grabbed Liang Chong’s arm. He announced the findings of his internal investigation, “It must be you who told him while I was taking a shower.”
Liang Chong’s face remained expressionless, neither admitting nor denying it. Ning Yiwei then knelt up and moved closer to Liang Chong, eagerly asking, “What did you say? It was so effective.”
“How should you thank me?” Liang Chong lowered his eyes, the corner of his mouth tugging up in response to Ning Yiwei.
From Ning Yiwei’s perspective, Liang Chong appeared unusually tall, and even the small arm he held seemed to possess strength and contours different from those of an ordinary person.
“You’re really amazing.” Ning Yiwei’s hand slid down, holding onto Liang Chong’s palm, intertwining their fingers, and couldn’t help but sigh.
Liang Chong’s palm was rougher and much larger than Ning Yiwei’s. Ning Yiwei inserted his right hand fingers between Liang Chong’s fingers, and the five slender, white fingers moved along with Ning Yiwei’s actions. The fingertips were soft like a brush, gently brushing against Liang Chong’s hand back, even the knuckles felt soft.
Stiffening, Liang Chong was taken aback by Ning Yiwei’s actions.
Seeing Liang Chong’s expression as if he wanted to pull his hand away but wasn’t exerting any force, Ning Yiwei thought that Liang Chong was considering his feelings and didn’t pull away forcefully. He was the first to release his grip.
Liang Chong stood upright, his hand naturally hanging down. After observing Ning Yiwei for a few seconds, he nodded towards Ning Yiwei’s phone placed aside using his chin and said, “Ning Yiwei, answer the call.”
Ning Yiwei picked up the call when he saw it was Zhou Zirui. Zhou Zirui’s excited voice immediately came through, “Yiwei, did you s-see the email?!”
“I saw it,” Ning Yiwei said, crossing his legs and telling Zhou Zirui, “Professor Kong is truly selfless and righteous.”
“Haha,” Zhou Zirui exclaimed joyfully, “I can’t wait to s-see what Kong, Kong Zong will explain about li-literature!”
“A brief discussion on the understanding of the three laws of classical mechanics,” Ning Yiwei said.
The two burst into laughter for a while.
After hanging up the call, Ning Yiwei excitedly shared with Liang Chong, who had already sat down and was reading project materials sent by his secretary, “Let me tell you a really funny joke.”
“No need,” Liang Chong waved his hand, politely declining.
“Well, then you’re missing out on a lot,” Ning Yiwei teased, emphasizing, “It’s really funny.”
“If it’s funny, you can laugh by yourself,” Liang Chong said, continuing to flip through his materials.
Feeling bored and not wanting to return to his room, Ning Yiwei leaned against the cushion and reached out to pick books from the bookshelf.
Liang Chong’s second-floor sofa had a set of low bookshelves placed beside it, and along the wall were switches for different types of reading lights, specially designed by Liang Chong for Ning Yiwei.
Since his college days, Ning Yiwei had developed a bad habit of walking around while reading, occasionally searching for a pen to jot down formulas. After finishing a book, he would scatter it around carelessly.
Liang Chong had arranged a set of low cabinets on the second and third floors. One purpose was to provide Ning Yiwei with a pen and scratch paper, and the other was to give the housekeeping staff a fixed place to organize the books collected from various corners of the house.
Since Ning Yiwei was easily contented in a particular place, he would obediently stay there and not want to move around too much.
After a short while, Liang Chong looked up and noticed that Ning Yiwei hadn’t picked any books but was looking at his phone with a troubled expression. He asked, “What’s wrong?”
Ning Yiwei looked at the phone screen and slowly said, “I have a classmate who said someone wanted my number and asked if I could give it.”
Liang Chong immediately set down his tablet and casually asked, “Who?”
“I don’t know,” Ning Yiwei shook his head, glancing at the text message. He told Liang Chong, “He said it’s a girl… What should I reply?”
“You can ask her what she wants from you,” Liang Chong suggested naturally.
Since Ning Yiwei lacked social skills entirely, he blindly trusted Liang Chong in handling interpersonal relationships. Thus, he replied exactly as Liang Chong had advised.
After about half a minute, his classmate responded with some helplessness, “Brother, what could someone want by asking for your number?”
Ning Yiwei still didn’t understand, he looked up and read the text message word for word, then asked Liang Chong, “What does it mean?”
Liang Chong sighed and said, “Is it possible that they want you to write a paper for them?”
“That’s unacceptable,” Ning Yiwei exclaimed, jumping up. “It’s a serious academic misconduct! No, no.”
Just as Ning Yiwei finished speaking, Liang Chong laughed without any consideration for his feelings. He laughed heartily, leaning back on the cushion, unable to sit up straight. He wasn’t holding his tablet securely and it fell to his side, as if Ning Yiwei had told an incredibly funny joke. Ning Yiwei realized that he had been played by Liang Chong, feeling a mix of embarrassment and anger. He thought to himself that he would never trust Liang Chong again. He pointed at Liang Chong, condemning him, “How could you be like this! I don’t understand these things. If you don’t want to teach me, that’s fine, but you also deceived me.”
“Stop right there!” Ning Yiwei grabbed a pillow and crawled over using both his hands and feet, intending to cover Liang Chong’s annoying face. However, Liang Chong effortlessly snatched the pillow from his hand and tossed it aside.
Without the pillow barrier, Ning Yiwei, as if surrendering himself, plunged into Liang Chong’s arms.
Liang Chong’s laughter ceased. He didn’t move or push Ning Yiwei away.
Ning Yiwei’s heart suddenly started beating faster. Nervously, he pressed his hand against Liang Chong’s chest, attempting to sit up, but Liang Chong pulled him back and held him in his arms.
“Aren’t you supposed to know everything?” Liang Chong’s voice sounded somewhat indifferent as he asked Ning Yiwei, “Do you still want me to teach you?”
With his shoulder against Liang Chong’s chest, Ning Yiwei lifted his head and saw Liang Chong looking down at him.
Liang Chong’s gaze was calm, his lips pressed together, and he no longer smiled. It was as if he was the same as before, yet somehow different. Ning Yiwei inexplicably felt his face heat up, unsure if it was because they were so close.
Liang Chong only held Ning Yiwei in his arms for a short while before letting go.
Ning Yiwei stared at Liang Chong blankly for a moment and stammered, “I’m going to sleep.”
They bid each other goodnight, and Ning Yiwei returned to his room. He fell asleep faster than he had imagined, quickly entering a dream where he was a professor.
In the dream, he held a laser pointer and explained M-theory to Liang Chong, who was as clueless as a pig and couldn’t understand anything. Ning Yiwei thoroughly enjoyed the satisfaction of teaching and educating.
Kong Zong couldn’t believe it and read his dad’s email to the group several times.
He opened his contacts and lingered on his dad’s page for a long time. In the end, he locked the screen and walked to the second-floor gym with his phone. His mom, Kang Yixin, was briskly walking on the treadmill, while a financial program was playing on the screen across from it.
When Kong Zong entered, Kang Yixin stopped the treadmill and stepped down, taking a sip of water. She smiled and said to Kong Zong, “What’s wrong? Weren’t you going to sleep?”
Kong Zong shook his head and said to Kang Yixin, “Mom, it seems like Dad doesn’t want me to stay in his research group.”
Kang Yixin furrowed her brow and asked, “What happened?”
Kong Zong showed the email to Kang Yixin and hesitantly said, “I’m not opposed to giving a literature presentation, but he didn’t give me any time to prepare. And I’ve just finished my freshman year, so of course, I can’t keep up with those senior undergraduates. I’m sure he won’t be satisfied with my presentation…”
Kang Yixin’s anger flared up as she listened. “He’s really something, making things difficult even for his own son. I’ll give him a call.”
After saying that, she picked up her phone and dialed Kong Shenfeng’s number.
It was late, already one o’clock in the Eastern District. Kang Yixin waited for half a minute before Kong Shenfeng answered. “What’s the matter, wife?”
“Kong Shenfeng,” Kang Yixin angrily scolded, her anger flaring up, “Kong Zong went to your research group to have some fun, so why are you making him do a literature presentation?”
Kong Shenfeng was startled by Kang Yixin’s outburst and didn’t know how to react for a moment. He composed himself and said to Kang Yixin, “Wife, it’s a principle that all undergraduate students who join the group have to give a literature presentation.”
“But Kong Zong is just a freshman!” Kang Yixin looked at the dejected Kong Zong standing nearby, and her tone became more assertive. “Can’t he give the presentation later?”
Kong Shenfeng let out a sigh, feeling awkward, and tried to explain to Kang Yixin, “It’s not about being a freshman. Ning Yiwei, who joined our research group a few years ago, could recite articles of interest from modern physics reviews when he just entered the university. Literature presentations are not difficult at all, as long as—”
“—You be quiet!” Kang Yixin interrupted Kong Shenfeng. “Don’t you know Kong Zong’s abilities? Kong Zong is just an ordinary freshman, he’s different from all of you!”
“Please calm down,” Kong Shenfeng, afraid of angering his wife, had to speak slowly. “But Kong Zong doesn’t know anything and refuses to learn. What’s the point of him being in the research group?”
“Is your research group so precious that our son can’t join?” Kang Yixin, a high-ranking executive in a listed company, had a fiery temper and was never afraid of anyone. She particularly disliked Kong Shenfeng’s pretentious manner, so she asked with growing resentment, “Tell me, what can Kong Zong gain from being with you?”
“It’s not like that,” Kong Shenfeng softened his tone and explained once again, “You don’t know that Kong Zong causes trouble in the group and argues with Ning Yiwei for no reason.”
Kang Yixin was about to get angry at the mention of “Ning Yiwei.” “It’s always Ning Yiwei! Is Kong Zong your son or is Ning Yiwei your son? Can’t you speak without bringing up Ning Yiwei?”
“……” Kong Shenfeng fell silent helplessly, waiting for both sides to calm down a bit before saying, “Alright, let’s stop arguing. Let’s talk about it when I come back the day after tomorrow, okay?”
Kang Yixin simply hung up the phone, grabbed a towel, and walked out the door.
Kong Zong stood by, bowing his head, his expression constantly changing.
He heard every word his father said. Kong Zong could guarantee that Ning Yiwei must have privately complained to Kong Shenfeng.
Kong Zong couldn’t remember when exactly it started, but his father would always mention Ning Yiwei, praising his intelligence, focus, and unlimited potential. He would say things like “Ning Yiwei doesn’t think like other undergraduate students” and “Ning Yiwei has a rare broad perspective that sets him apart from ordinary students.”
Although Kong Shenfeng was busy with academics and rarely at home, he still looked at Kong Zong with encouragement and expectations in his eyes. But ever since Ning Yiwei appeared, it seemed that overnight, Kong Shenfeng understood what a smart child was like. He had someone new to nurture and no longer wanted to look at his ordinary child at home.
In a daze, Kong Zong took out his phone and messaged his father, “I will do the literature presentation.”
It wasn’t until early the next morning that Kong Shenfeng replied with a simple “okay.”
Kong Zong sat on his bed, staring at the word “okay” on his phone, unconsciously gripping it tightly.
If it weren’t for Ning Yiwei, he thought to himself, why didn’t that dog in the small grove on campus bite Ning Yiwei to death?
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