A Guide to Falling Asleep Chapter 43

Chapter 43

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In the evening at half past six, Kong Shenfeng received a phone call from his assistant, Cui He.

Cui He told him about an anonymous email he had received a few minutes ago. He admitted that he had forced a duty administrator in the Computer Department to help him shut down the email system. Now, most of the emails were deleted. He subtly implied that Kong Zong had previously assisted him in rescheduling meeting notifications. He added, “Even though the emails in the database were deleted, the sender can resend them if they have the photos.”

Kong Shenfeng remained silent for a while and then said he understood. He asked the administrator not to open the email system temporarily. He would immediately contact the principal and find Kong Zong. If the administrator faced any difficulties, he would communicate on their behalf and ensure they didn’t bear the burden.

After hanging up the phone, he stared at the lit screen of his mobile phone, recalling some random and meaningless family moments.

Lately, he had been reflecting on the education he and Kang Yixin provided to Kong Zong. He wondered when things had started going wrong and if there was any chance for correction.

Being first-time parents, some succeed while others fail, and he undoubtedly belonged to the latter category.

Perhaps there were early signs of Kong Zong’s character flaws. If he had been more assertive and Kang Yixin less indulgent, would Kong Zong be different now?

Kong Zong had rarely faced consequences for his past wrongdoings. Kong Shenfeng doubted if Kong Zong understood that relying on cleverness and his family couldn’t shield him from all external attacks.

Whether transferring schools or quitting the group, Kong Zong didn’t truly belong to this school. If he wanted to attend school, he should take the exams himself. Kong Shenfeng’s research team also didn’t welcome any academically dishonest students.

Privilege isn’t worth any form of boasting.

No longer compromising on paternal love and the surface harmony of the family was what Kong Shenfeng believed to be the most fundamental solution.

As the screen was about to go completely dark, Kong Shenfeng picked up his phone again.

At that moment, Kong Shenfeng felt a clarity in his mind like never before.

Regardless of blood ties and regardless of the inner struggle between him and his wife, today they should make a tough decision. They should let Kong Zong go through the proper processing like every other student who entered the school through legitimate means. He needed to break free from parental wings, experience adulthood for the first time, learn to take responsibility, and pay the price.

Kong Shenfeng’s eyes lingered on the phone contacts for a few seconds, and he dialed Liang Chong’s number first.

Zhou Zirui had made plans with his brother to meet at his brother’s house at seven o’clock, where they would undergo a scrutinizing inspection of their dowdy attire before setting off together for the gathering.

Since Ning Yiwei had nothing to do that evening, he decided to accompany Zhou Zirui.

It would take them nearly twenty minutes to walk from the cafeteria to Peng Zhefei’s house. They strolled leisurely, and as they passed by the library, they noticed a commotion beneath it.

Someone was shouting loudly, but it abruptly stopped.

Zhou Zirui and Ning Yiwei were both timid but curious. They exchanged a glance and walked slowly towards the commotion.

There was a crowd up ahead, and Ning Yiwei looked around to make sure nobody noticed him. He naively tiptoed and lifted his chin, wanting to see what was happening.

Unfortunately, his neck grew sore, and all he could see in the inner circle was school leaders and uniformed police officers surrounding a student.

“Excuse me,” Ning Yiwei couldn’t help but strike up a conversation with a girl who had just squeezed out from the inside. She seemed excited by the spectacle. “What’s happening here?”

“Oh,” the girl turned around and said to Ning Yiwei, “It seems that a student from our school is suspected of using the internet to insult and defame others. The situation is quite serious. The other party filed a complaint, and now the police are going to take the student into custody.”

“Ah!” Ning Yiwei genuinely exclaimed, not knowing what else to say. After all, this kind of online bullying behavior was far from his own life.

Zhou Zirui couldn’t squeeze in, so he decided not to watch and moved closer to eavesdrop.

“This student is a staff member’s child,” the girl continued, “I heard it’s some professor’s kid, shouting about their mom and dad and even making phone calls.”

Ning Yiwei shook his head, pretending to understand as he said, “It’s too easy for staff members’ children to enter the school. The system has issues.”

“Y-Yes, you’re right,” Zhou Zirui agreed, “The c-campus is unfair, and we don’t know when it will be r-rectified.”

After enjoying the commotion for a while, they realized time was running out. Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui jogged all the way and arrived at Peng Zhefei’s house exactly at seven o’clock.

It had been a while since they last visited, and Peng Zhefei’s house had returned to its usual messy state. Clothes were piled on the sofa, but Cui He and another young man whom Ning Yiwei had not met before had managed to clear a small area and sat there chatting and laughing.

When they saw Zhou Zirui and Ning Yiwei enter, all three of them froze momentarily before greeting them. Cui He introduced Ning Yiwei and the unfamiliar youth, mentioning that his name was Shi Jie and he was from the College of Information Technology.

“I work with machines,” Shi Jie attempted to humorously introduce himself, only to receive a glare from Cui He.

Then Peng Zhefei scrutinized Zhou Zirui up and down, complaining, “Didn’t I tell you to dress a bit less shabby?”

“Is the lame joke routine over?” Shi Jie interjected, moving closer. “Have you memorized the memoranda?”

“M-memorized them,” Zhou Zirui replied pitifully.

Ning Yiwei watched with great interest, but suddenly his phone rang. Glancing at it, he saw that it was Liang Chong, so he answered.

“Weiwei,” Liang Chong said, “Where are you now?”

“I’m at the school,” Ning Yiwei replied, “At the faculty dormitory.”

“The north gate?” Liang Chong asked again, “Which building and room number?”

“Yeah, right,” Ning Yiwei replied, “Building 4, top floor, 502.”

“Stay put, don’t move. I’ll come to pick you up.”

After Liang Chong finished speaking, he hung up the phone. Ning Yiwei noticed that the other four people were looking at him. After some thought, he hesitantly asked, “Are you all leaving?”

“We’re leaving early,” Peng Zhefei said, “It’s 8 o’clock. Shi Jie was telling Ruirui some lame jokes for revision, so we wanted Ruirui to come early.”

“Someone is coming to pick you up?” Cui He asked Ning Yiwei.

“L-Liang Chong?” Zhou Zirui also asked.

“Yes,” Ning Yiwei said, confused, “It’s strange. He was supposed to return to France in the afternoon. I don’t know why he suddenly came to pick me up.”

“Because of love, maybe,” Shi Jie said, and Cui He playfully tapped his head.

After five minutes, there was a knock on Peng Zhefei’s door. Ning Yiwei was in the middle of testing Zhou Zirui with some lame jokes, making Peng Zhefei laughed uncontrollably. In the end, Cui He went to open the door.

Liang Chong entered with a chilly aura. He wore a well-fitted suit, but oddly enough, he didn’t seem out of place in Peng Zhefei’s house.

“Hello,” Liang Chong nodded at Peng Zhefei, then turned to see Ning Yiwei holding his phone, squatting next to Zhou Zirui and laughing. Liang Chong asked him, “What’s so funny?”

“Liang Chong,” Ning Yiwei said, “Do you know what zodiac sign I am?”

“I don’t know,” Liang Chong replied.

Ning Yiwei suddenly forgot the line and quickly glanced at his phone. He said, “I’m tailor-made for you.”

Liang Chong paused for a moment before understanding. He walked over with a half-smile, took Ning Yiwei’s phone, and looked at the carefully selected attachment by Shi Jie.

“Let’s go then,” Ning Yiwei stood up and said to Liang Chong, then turned to Peng Zhefei. “Brother Peng, good luck with your gathering! You’ll definitely succeed this time!”

Liang Chong didn’t move. He stood there, locking eyes with Peng Zhefei and the others for a few seconds. Sincerely, he said, “Thank you.”

“It’s nothing, it’s nothing,” Peng Zhefei quickly waved his hand.

Liang Chong nodded. “A great favor needs no thanks.” He exchanged numbers with Peng Zhefei and the others, mentioning that they might need to contact each other later. Then, he held Ning Yiwei’s hand and bid farewell.

“What are you thanking for?” The hallway was narrow, and Liang Chong didn’t let go of Ning Yiwei’s hand. Ning Yiwei had no choice but to walk alongside Liang Chong. “You all have been acting so strangely today.”

“Thank them for taking you in on such a cold night,” Liang Chong said.

They walked out of the hallway, the night sky clear with a few scattered stars. Liang Chong’s car was parked downstairs.

Liang Chong let go of Ning Yiwei’s hand and walked over to open the passenger door for him. Ning Yiwei got in, and Liang Chong leaned down to fasten his seatbelt. He then kissed Ning Yiwei’s forehead tenderly.

The cool breeze from outside and the warmth inside the car intertwined around Ning Yiwei, creating a swirling current of rising heat and sinking cold air.

Liang Chong’s kiss seemed to hold deeper meaning, as if a hurricane had fixated its eye on Ning Yiwei’s moving coordinates, following him wherever he went.

Everywhere Ning Yiwei went, he faced tremendous impact, but soon after, the hurricane dissipated on its own.

Due to Ning Yiwei’s dullness, he didn’t notice.

Liang Chong didn’t explain why he came back, and Ning Yiwei didn’t ask. At the same time, he received two text messages from Kang Yixin and Lu Jiaqin.

Lu Jiaqin informed Ning Yiwei about tomorrow’s weather and offered suggestions on how to dress appropriately.

Kang Yixin sent Ning Yiwei a photo taken by a school staff member during the afternoon when Ning Yiwei was asking Lin Zhengyuan a question.

Ning Yiwei examined the photo closely and noticed that he was gripping the microphone tightly, appearing very nervous, even though he didn’t feel that nervous when asking the question.

He showed the photo to Liang Chong, who took a quick glance during a red light and commented, “Looks like you when you pretend to sleep.”

Ning Yiwei replied to Lu Jiaqin with a simple “Thank you, Mom,” and sent Kang Yixin a cute emoji in response.

While Liang Chong was driving, Ning Yiwei had a dream in the car. At one moment, he dreamt of becoming a school leader, upholding justice, and then he dreamt of publishing a paper and receiving an award, with his whole family celebrating together.

There were Lu Jiaqin, Ning Qiang, Liang Chong, Zhou Zirui, Kong Shenfeng, and Kang Yixin. Even from a distance, there were many familiar faces applauding for him, but in the dream, he couldn’t recognize them all individually.

“Ning Yiwei,” the voices of the people echoed, as they all said, “You are our pride.”

It was truly a dream. Ning Yiwei shyly opened his eyes, feeling embarrassed about the praise he received in the dream.

Liang Chong was focused on driving, probably trying not to disturb Ning Yiwei’s sleep, so he lowered the volume of the radio.

Ning Yiwei turned his head slightly and looked at Liang Chong’s profile. He thought to himself that one day he would have his own team, achieve results, publish many journals, and have a meeting with Zhou Zirui at CERN. He believed that he would give presentations at academic conferences. All of these dreams would come true.

No need for excessive praise, but they would all come true.

Just as he had told Zhou Zirui, they would continue to improve and leave behind anyone who lacked the ability and refused to accept it.

Liang Chong didn’t look at Ning Yiwei. He reached out his hand and pinched Ning Yiwei’s face. “Awake now?”

Ning Yiwei held Liang Chong’s hand and, imitating him, gently kissed the back of Liang Chong’s hand. “Yes.”

Liang Chong paused slightly, calmly withdrew his hand, turned the car to the side, unfastened the seatbelt, and leaned closer to Ning Yiwei, pressing his hand on Ning Yiwei’s shoulder.

The streets were bustling with cars and pedestrians at 8:30 PM, but Liang Chong boldly activated the hazard lights and leaned in for a prolonged, gentlemanly kiss with Ning Yiwei.

At twenty years old, Ning Yiwei had everything.

And Liang Chong had him.

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