When one had a thought, they should have immediately acted upon it, for there was no room for making mistakes on the path of pursuing truth.
After deciding on the cake, Ning Yiwei returned to the car and quietly messaged Zhou Zirui: “Zirui, I need to discuss something with you.”
Zhou Zirui proved to be his trusted friend and quickly replied, “When?” He then sent two screenshots of his schedule for the next two days to Ning Yiwei. He marked a few available time slots with red circles and said, “I just arrived at my cousin’s dorm to clean it up (he went to the A University social tonight and has already left). If it’s important, you can come directly.”
Zhou Zirui thoughtfully added a map with the location of Building 4 in the D University faculty dormitories.
Since Zhou Zirui had gone this far for their friendship, Ning Yiwei no longer hesitated and replied, “I’ll come later. If there’s enough time, I’ll help you clean.”
After arranging the evening meeting, Ning Yiwei felt relieved when he suddenly heard Liang Chong say, “I found a doctor to examine your hand.”
Ning Yiwei froze for a moment, then turned to look at Liang Chong and reluctantly said, “It’s not necessary to go through all that trouble.”
“Use it,” Liang Chong decisively stated.
Ning Yiwei fell silent, bowing his head and fiddling with his fingers, silently protesting. After a while, Liang Chong still ignored him, so Ning Yiwei muttered, “I hate seeing doctors.”
He naturally disliked going to the hospital and seeing doctors, without any psychological trauma or specific reasons. It was similar to some people not liking coriander or others being afraid of the deep sea. Previously, when he had a more severe wound behind his ear, he accepted it when Liang Chong brought a doctor to change the bandage. However, today’s injury on the back of his hand was just a minor scrape. Ning Yiwei believed there was no need to meet with a doctor at all.
“I’ll make him wear casual clothes,” Liang Chong, as if he had prepared the explanation in advance, said to Ning Yiwei, “You won’t even recognize him as a doctor.”
Ning Yiwei was not convinced. He shrugged and turned his face slightly to roll his eyes.
Liang Chong grabbed him on the spot and asked, “Ning Yiwei, what was that expression just now?” His tone was a little harsh, filled with a sense of threat and settling scores.
Ning Yiwei didn’t dare to confront Liang Chong head-on. He closed his eyes, pretended to be sleepy, and fumbled around, finding an eye mask from the glove compartment and putting it on. Then he yawned and self-assuredly said, “Ah, I’m tired, decided to sleep.”
Everything went dark before his eyes, and he closed them, staying quiet for a while. However, the drowsiness didn’t come, so he was about to lift his hand to remove the eye mask when he heard Liang Chong call him, “Ning Yiwei?”
The car came to a stop. Ning Yiwei wanted to respond, but before he could, Liang Chong asked softly, “Are you really asleep?”
Ning Yiwei opened his eyes in an instant, feeling the eye mask against his eyelashes, which was slightly uncomfortable. He didn’t dare to move at all, keeping his back tightly against the seat because he felt that something might happen.
“Ning Yiwei,” Liang Chong’s voice came closer, whispering softly to him, “Stop pretending. Wake up and sit up.”
Ning Yiwei still didn’t move.
His heartbeat was slowly and uncontrollably accelerating.
Because he understood Liang Chong better than anyone else, he could be certain that Liang Chong was pretending to ask if Ning Yiwei was awake—Liang Chong didn’t want to disturb him.
Liang Chong’s fingers touched Ning Yiwei’s lips, gently caressing his lower lip with the pad of his finger. With a lowered voice, he said, “Ning Yiwei.”
Ning Yiwei’s face grew warm. He didn’t know the reason behind Liang Chong’s actions, but he was curious to find out. So, he closed his eyes again.
A few seconds later, Liang Chong lightly touched his cheek and lifted his eye mask. Ning Yiwei felt the light, but still refused to open his eyes.
He had a hunch, an intuition that as long as he didn’t open his eyes, he could uncover Liang Chong’s secret. So, Ning Yiwei suppressed his breath and remained motionless, quietly waiting.
However, Ning Yiwei’s intuition failed him today. He ultimately didn’t witness anything happening.
After a moment, Liang Chong spoke to him, saying, “Stop pretending to be asleep,” and called his name, “Ning Yiwei.”
This time, Liang Chong truly intended to wake Ning Yiwei up. He no longer carried any hesitation or uncertainty, as if he had escaped from a gentle dream and returned to a composed state.
Ning Yiwei blinked his dry eyes and saw Liang Chong very close to him, gazing with a perplexing expression. After a short while, Liang Chong averted his gaze and completely removed Ning Yiwei’s eye mask, placing it back in the glove compartment.
They didn’t explain anything to each other.
Ning Yiwei turned his head slightly and stole a glance at Liang Chong, too afraid to meet his gaze directly. He only caught sight of the cold, indifferent curve of Liang Chong’s lips.
The contour of Liang Chong’s chin was beautiful, with deep-set eyebrows and a perfectly shaped skull. However, he remained expressionless, displaying an evident sense of vigilance in his posture and demeanor.
Everything made Ning Yiwei feel indescribably uncomfortable.
If possible, Ning Yiwei was willing to give everything he possessed, whether cherished or not, just to see Liang Chong happy.
“I wasn’t pretending to sleep,” Ning Yiwei defended himself softly, telling a white lie.
Autumn leaves from the tall plane trees fell and adhered to Liang Chong’s car window.
“Hmm,” Liang Chong said calmly and rationally, “Let’s get off the car and have a meal first.”
Ning Yiwei watched as Liang Chong opened the car door and immediately followed suit, walking behind Liang Chong into the restaurant. He wanted to grab Liang Chong’s arm or hold his hand, but Liang Chong was walking too fast. Ning Yiwei missed his chance and could only lower his arm and hurriedly catch up.
Ning Yiwei arrived at Zhou Zirui’s cousin’s dormitory at nine-thirty in the evening.
After dinner, Liang Chong took Ning Yiwei to see a doctor for wound dressing. Then Liang Chong dropped Ning Yiwei off at home. Ning Yiwei watched as Liang Chong drove away before taking a taxi back to the school.
When he reached the fourth-floor landing, Zhou Zirui was waiting downstairs. The building for classrooms and dormitories was a bit run-down, with narrow hallways and several broken lights. Zhou Zirui used a flashlight to lead Ning Yiwei up while huffing and puffing, complaining, “My cousin’s room is s-so filthy.”
Ning Yiwei had been thinking about Liang Chong all along, feeling somewhat absent-minded. When he saw seven or eight giant garbage bags that Zhou Zirui had cleaned up near the fifth-floor entrance, he was shocked and temporarily put Liang Chong out of his mind. He asked Zhou Zirui, “Are they all your cousin’s?”
“Yes, yes!” Zhou Zirui said angrily, “He just r-returned, only half a year, and he generated s-so much trash!”
Zhou Zirui opened the door and showed Ning Yiwei the result of his cleaning. The floor was shining, and even the small protrusions above the doorframe had been wiped multiple times.
“Clean,” Ning Yiwei praised.
“He only gave me th-three hundred yuan,” Zhou Zirui complained to Ning Yiwei, “I cleaned for five hours.” The teacher’s dormitory was a single-person suite, no larger than fifty square meters. When Zhou Zirui first entered, it was almost impossible to find a place to stand.
“Oh, b-by the way, Yiwei,” Zhou Zirui poured water for Ning Yiwei and asked, “Do you h-have something to discuss?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Then let me go c-cut some fruits,” Zhou Zirui hurriedly said, “They were bought by my brother. We, we sh-shouldn’t let them go to waste.”
Ning Yiwei sat on the small sofa in the living room, holding a white porcelain cup and daydreaming.
Suddenly, the door opened, and Zhou Zirui’s cousin, Peng Zhefei, entered with his naturally curly hair, a melancholic expression on his face. He casually threw his bag on the floor and looked up, seeing Ning Yiwei and the room that was too clean for him to recognize. He paused for a few seconds, quickly picked up his bag, and said to Ning Yiwei, “Sorry, wrong place.”
He exited and closed the door.
After about ten seconds, the door opened again, and Peng Zhefei held onto the door frame, looking puzzled as he asked Ning Yiwei, “Is this my house?”
“Brother,” Zhou Zirui came out with a fruit platter and, upon seeing Peng Zhefei, introduced, “This is m-my classmate, Yiwei. We have s-something to discuss.”
Peng Zhefei breathed a sigh of relief, threw his bag aside, and said to Zhou Zirui, “You scared me. What’s the matter? Brother can also give you some advice.”
“N-no, it’s not necessary,” Zhou Zirui politely declined, “You may n-not understand.”
“It’s you who don’t understand.” Peng Zhefei walked over, picked up a piece of pomelo, and stuffed it into his mouth. He mumbled, “When everyone gathers firewood, the flames will rise higher. Science and mathematics are inseparable. You can’t discuss quantum entanglement without the concept of direct product states, nor can you avoid talking about topology in condensed matter physics. These two disciplines have always been interconnected and mutually beneficial.”
“Th-there’s some truth to that,” Zhou Zirui nodded thoughtfully.
Ning Yiwei also thought Peng Zhefei made a valid point and said, “Brother, it would be helpful if you could listen as well.”
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