At this time in the evening, if Qiao Shao didn’t have his earphones on, it was equivalent to having no life. He tossed around and around but in the end, he still put it back on and listened to the whole voice message anyway.
“Go to sleep, go to sleep, my dear baby… Gege's voice will always stay right beside you …”
Qiao Shao’s mouth twitched and he couldn’t help tying out, “Who’s the big brother! I’m older than you!”
After sending it out, he regretted it immediately and hurriedly tried to revoke the message.
He Shen had already seen it though. “Older than me? What month is your birthday?”
Qiao Shao thought, I might be a whole year older than you.
Forget it, he hadn’t wanted to mention it. He said, “Anyway, I’m older than you.”
“What makes you so sure?” He Shen muttered. “Is your birthday after September?”
When entering primary school, September was the dividing line. Children born after September would need to enter school the following year.
Qiao Shao didn’t want to answer.
He Shen said, “That’s no use then. I’m 17 this year.”
Qiao Shao objected, “Is your birthday in the second half of the year?” If so, he was still older than him.
He Shen said, “First half.”
Qiao Shao paused, now completely wide awake. “Why are you …”
He typed out these few words and then thought about how they’ve only known each other for two days. He didn’t think it was appropriate to ask.
Unexpectedly, He Shen generously answered, “I didn’t attend school for a year during junior high school, so I’m older than our peers.”
Qiao Shao held the phone tightly, “Why?”
“Why was I absent from school?” He Shen’s voice was very relaxed. “Well, I got myself a little injury.”
Qiao Shao listened to his frivolous tone, and then thought about his unhealthy lifestyle. He pouted and typed out, “From fighting?”
He Shen confessed, “You could say that.”
Qiao Shao was a little impressed. “You’re kinda amazing.”
He Shen, “So, have I convinced you to call me ‘Ge‘?”
It’s strange. Qiao Shao had been so adamant against mentioning this, but now he didn’t find it so hard to speak about it.
Qiao Shao typed, “I’m also 17 and my birthday is also in the first half of the year.”
It was He Shen’s turn to be surprised. “Don’t joke.”
Qiao Shao said, “It’s up to you whether you believe it or not.”
He Shen: “Send a picture of your ID card.”
Qiao Shao typed forcefully. “No!”
He Shen’s voice was still full of disbelief, “Are you really my age?”
Qiao Shao paused and said, “I entered school a year late.”
He said it ambiguously, making it sound like he had entered primary school a year late.
He Shen asked again, “When exactly is your birthday?”
Qiao Shao didn’t hide it. He was going to give He Shen a scare. “February 2.”
Take that! Unless He Shen’s birthday was in January, then he’s the big brother!
After a while, He Shen sent over a picture.
Qiao Shao downloaded the picture and opened it. He looked intently and froze.
This was a snapshot of his ID card. He’d blurred out the other information, leaving only his full name and date of birth.
Qiao Shao was stunned. “January 1?”
He Shen sent a voice message. “January 1st and February 2nd, we’re really well-matched.”
Qiao Shao: “………………………….”
He Shen sent another message. “Now call me k2018;Ge’.”
The only thing I’m calling you is k2018;fat head’!
Qiao Shao closed WeChat and went to sleep!
Under the night skyk2026;
He Shen’s thin lips was curved in a smile. And when he looked up at the cloudy night sky, he didn’t feel sad at all.
Qiao Shao was awakened by the wake-up bell the next day. He sat up in a daze. Chen Su had already come back from washing up.
“G’morning.” Because Blue hair was still sleeping, he greeted him quietly.
Qiao Shao completely woke up. “Good morning …”
Chen Su set down his washbasin and said, “You don’t need to join the morning exercises so get some more sleep.”
He had this privilege due to his hurt ankle.
Qiao Shao shook his head to sober himself up. “No, I’ll get up and read for a while.”
He was behind by quite a lot and had to hurry and catch up.
Chen Su said, “I’ll bring you breakfast.”
Qiao Shao was about to thank him, when he remembered last night’s meal appointment, he said quickly. “No need, He Shen said he’d bring me breakfast.”
Chen Su was clearly stunned, but didn’t say anything. He just said, “Okay, I’ll go and exercise first.”
Qiao Shao nodded again and again. This left him with the still sleeping and cocooned Blue Hair in the bedroom.
Qiao Shao sat down and was about to recite the Classics when his phone vibrated.
No Friday: “(^ _ ^) / Good morning.”
Qiao Shao: “…”
What was a grown man doing trying to be cute! It was enough to blind a person.
Qiao Shao answered him, “Why are you up so early?”
Day students didn’t have to join morning exercises, so why did he get up so early?
He Shen looked at the program running on the computer screen, leaned back on his chair, and typed, “I hadn’t slept yet.”
Qiao Shao was speechless. “Were you playing games all night? Do you want to die a sudden death!”
No wonder that aside from sleeping, all he did all day was sleep!
He Shen didn’t explain. He said, “Just think of me as operating on American time.”
Qiao Shao stabbed him with, “Then you should be asleep now!”
He Shen said magnanimously, “I’ll eat and then sleep.”
No need to guess, he’s going to sleep on his desk!
Qiao Shao was too lazy to care about this delinquent slacker. He remembered his daily task and gave him one dime.
He Shen accepted it calmly and asked him again, “What do you want to eat for breakfast?”
Qiao Shao considered his poor man’s image and typed out. “Steamed buns and porridge.”
This was the most cost-effective breakfast food. When you buy rice porridge, you also get some pickled vegetables and you could use these to stuff the steamed buns.
The key was that it had to be filling so that he could hold on till lunchtime.
He Shen replied back. “Wait for me in the dorm.”
Qiao Shao thought that this task of accompanying him to eat was kind of wonderful. He got free food delivery, who wouldn’t be happy about that?
He read his book for a while, but nothing was going into his brain. He stood up to get his phone from his bed. He’ll put on his earphones and try again.
He had just gotten up when he saw Blue Hair crawl down from his bed. His hair was in complete disarray, it was like there was a chicken nest on his head.
In terms of height, Qiao Shao couldn’t win against anyone in room 516!
Lan Mao looked down at him, pale skinned and with thick dark circles under his eyes like a vampire.
He had just woken up and was in a bad mood, “Get out of the way, poor ghost.”
Being called ‘poor ghost’ was such a novel thing to Qiao Shao that every time he heard it, he felt a bit dazed.
Blue Hair snorted and reached out to push him out of the way.
Qiao Shao had an injured ankle. If he was really pushed, his injury might get aggravated.
Who knew that Blue Hair didn’t touch him at all. At the last moment, he suddenly slowed down. He grabbed his clothes and said, “Don’t block the way.”
Qiao Shao took this opportunity to sit on his bed without falling down.
Blue Hair gave him a disgusted glance and went to the bathroom.
Qiao Shao wasn’t angry but, of course he didn’t like Blue Hair.
He was such a stinky brat with bad manners. Who would pay attention to someone like him?
Blue Hair left after washing up. Qiao Shao was making a desperate attempt at a geometric problem. The tip of his pen had already been bitten to mush but he still couldn’t figure out the distance between C and MDE…
“a / 4.”
Qiao Shao turned back and saw He Shen. He was startled. “Why are you leaning in so close!”
He Shen tapped on his exercise sheet. “The answer is a / 4. Hurry up and write it down so we can eat. I’m hungry.”
Qiao Shao looked at him doubtfully, “You know how to solve this?”
He Shen put down the things he brought on the table. “Yes.”
Qiao Shao didn’t believe him. “You didn’t even do any calculations. You can answer it just like that?”
What a joke, this was a big 14-point question. He had been making calculations on a scratch paper for fifteen minutes without making heads or tails of it!
He Shen said, “Do I need to write down my calculations?” The answer was clear at a glance.
Qiao Shao set aside the exercise sheet and silently criticized him. ‘This guy wasn’t very good at studying but his ability to brag was really unmatched.
Forget it, he won’t be able to solve this problem for the time being. He’ll eat first and wait for Chen Su to come back so he could ask.
Qiao Shao cleared the table and watched as He Shen took out the soft bean curd, tenderloin burgers, beef pie, Xiaolongbao, sesame dumplings …
Qiao Shao was shocked.
Finally, He Shen took out a bowl of porridge and a steamed bun. “This is yours.”
Qiao Shao’s meager breakfast was really pitiful in front of this pile of “delicacies”.
Qiao Shao couldn’t help asking, “Why did you buy so much?”
He Shen pulled apart his chopsticks and said, “I’m not the same as you. This, for me, is dinner. So, of course, there’s a lot more.”
He said he was operating on American time, so morning here was evening there.
Qiao Shao asked again, “You can eat that much by yourself?”
He Shen looked at him, “You want to help me?”
Qiao Shao: “…”
He Shen said, “Eating just steamed buns and vegetable porridge won’t make you grow taller.”
This single sentence poked at Qiao Shao’s sore spot. He said, “I’ll eat a lot of meat for lunch!”
He Shen picked up a Xiaolongbao and held it to his mouth. “Eat, it will be a waste to throw it away.”
The Xiaolongbao was fluffy and fragrant, with a delicious meat filling inside. 200-yuan crab roe buns didn’t taste as delicious as this, thought Qiao Shao.
“Hmm …” Qiao Shao ate and said nothing. After swallowing, he said, “So, why did you buy so much!”
“Well,” He Shen muttered, “It’s probably for my priceless happiness.”
Qiao Shao was speechless.
Afterwards, Qiao Shao ate a tray of Xiaolongbao, drank half a cup of soy milk, and ate two slices of tenderloin from the burgers … setting his highest record for breakfast in four or five years.
Looking at He Shen…
He ate everything that was left except for the steamed bun and rice porridge.
Qiao Shao was a little discouraged.
Does he have to eat more in order to grow taller?
He’ll never be able to match how much He Shen eats in his life!
With breakfast out of the way, Qiao Shao got right down to business, “How can we get the surveillance video?”
He Shen said, “We’ll copy it.”
Qiao Shao was deeply worried. “You’re not going to use some sort of illegal means, are you?”
What if they were caught and it turns into this big commotion?
He Shen was a little sleepy. He leaned against the bedpost and lazily asked, “What illegal method do you think I would use?”
He deliberately accentuated the word illegal.
Qiao Shao was nervous: “For example, running into the monitoring room at night, knocking out the teacher and stealing the surveillance …”
He Shen chuckled and patted the little shorty’s head. “Relax, I’m just going to ask the teacher directly.”
Qiao Shao was most afraid of others patting his head. He’s not going to be able to grow taller! The more they pat, the shorter he gets!
These tall people who were “ignorant to the pain of others” can really make a person mad!
“Just don’t use any abnormal means!” Qiao Shao emphasized.
He Shen thought for a while and said, “We’ll do it like this. I’ll sleep for the first two lessons, and then I’ll take you with me during mid-morning exercises.”
Qiao Shao: “…”
What coud he say? When faced with his seatmate who insists on using his desk as a bed, just what could he say?
On the way to the classroom, Qiao Shao asked He Shen another thing.
“Why is Chen Su in 516? Was he placed there because the regular dorms were full like I was?”
He didn’t think so. He always felt that the only reason he got into 516 was because of his dad, or rather, his dad’s secretary’s interference.
He Shen said: “He doesn’t have your kind of luck.” If the transfer was made, the school will waive 20% of the dormitory fee.
Qiao Shao wondered, “The cost of 516 is so high, why does Chen Su have to spend his money on such a pointless expense?”
He Shen explained to him, “East High has an incentive scheme. If you can get one of the top three spots in the school’s end of term exam, there will be a corresponding reward.
Qiao Shao understood. “Chen Su got into the top three? Are the top three exempted from paying the dormitory fees?”
This was understandable. If you didn’t have to pay the dormitory fee, of course, you have to choose the best accommodations!
He Shen said, “He should be in third place, so the dormitory fee was waived.”
“Third place is already so amazing!” Qiao Shao’s eyes shone bring with admiration and envy, “Chen Su really is a top student!”
It was wonderful to not only be friends with a top student but to be roommates as well!
Seeing him like this, He Shen raised his eyebrows, “Do you want to know the rewards for the second and first place?”
Qiao Shao hurriedly asked, “What is it?”
He Shen gave a dramatic pause, “Second place also gets the tuition fee waived.”
“As expected, good students can save a lot of money for their family!” Qiao Shao admired. “What about first in the entire school?”
He Shen said, “First in the entire city is exempt from tuition and miscellaneous fees and gets a subsidy for living expenses for one term.”
Qiao Shao: “!”
He didn’t hear the difference between first in the school and first in the city, he was only engrossed in admiring first place.
“Who is it?” Qiao Shao leaned closer to He Shen and eagerly asked, “Who was first for our year last time?”
He Shen looked down and saw his little brush-like eyelashes, and suddenly asked, “You have such long lashes. Don’t they block your eyes?”
Qiao Shao stunned. “What?”
“Nothing …” He Shen cleared his throat, “Last time, was me.”
Qiao Shao rudely rolled his eyes.
Seeing his disbelief, He Shen smiled. “I’m so poor and can only live like this by relying on the subsidy and tuition fee exemptions.”
My friend F.E shared this diagram with me, which I then filled out. It’s very helpful in describing the types of student when it comes to scores and effort put into studying. It’s a little small but I hope you can all read it.
(1) I made a correction. The incentive is given to the school’s top scorers for the end of term exams. So Chen Su is third for the entire school. In later chapters, it will be mentioned that Chen Su is second to He Shen for the 1st Years.