For regular women, they’d take it badly enough if their boyfriend forcibly moved in with them, but if the boyfriend was incensed by them taking in a relative and called them arrogant because he was pampering her……, most people would probably cough out blood, right?
But Cheng Xi knew that the words Lu Chenzhou spoke were truly what he thought. He could learn to love and pamper her, but only her.
Cheng Xi didn’t cough out blood; in fact, when she heard him say this, she even felt at ease, as if the other shoe had finally dropped.
“I’m sorry. I should have asked you before I made that decision. But Lu Chenzhou,” Cheng Xi apologized as she gripped his hand hard, making him listen to her words, “he’s not an outsider. He’s like a brother to me, and if he’s in trouble, then I have a duty to help him. I know that you don’t like troublesome things, and I promise that he won’t affect you, alright?”
“You’ll accompany me rather than him?” He struck at the core of the problem.
Cheng Xi fell silent, slowly interlacing her fingers with his. “If I don’t accompany you, then you can accompany me, too.”
In response, Lu Chenzhou exasperatedly shook her hand off of his and wordlessly exited the apartment before slamming the door shut.
Even though she was prepared for such a response, when she actually received it, Cheng Xi found that being a doctor and being a girlfriend were completely different occupations.
As a girlfriend, she really did feel somewhat uncomfortable. Cheng Xi smiled lightly, released the deep breath she was holding in, and took a while to compose herself before grabbing her knees and standing up.
The door to the study was slightly askew, and Yuan was standing behind the door.
She walked over and fully opened it.
Yuan looked at her. “He’s angry.”
Cheng Yi smiled. “That’s right.”
“You shouldn’t have taken me in,” he said. As an eighteen-year-old boy, his face still held a trace of his youthful chubbiness, but he was pretending to be mature and wise. “I’m not sick at all.”
“No one said that you were sick.” Cheng Xi leaned against the doorframe as she looked at him. “The reason I wanted you to stay here was because I thought that your dad’s feelings were too heated. So, I wanted to let you stay here for a while while he cools down.”
Yuan’s expression showed that he clearly didn’t believe her.
Cheng Xi smiled before pulling him to sit down on the sofa. “Come, let’s chat.”
Yuan was somewhat uncomfortable about the sudden request. “About what? Aren’t you going to go after your boyfriend?” He looked at her with an interesting expression. “He’s pretty handsome, but also somewhat bad-tempered.”
Cheng Xi smiled and nodded. “That’s right. His temper’s quite bad.”
“You like him?”
Yuan’s expression turned to one of pity . “If you stick with such a bad-tempered boyfriend, you’ll have a hard life in the future.”
This fellow—Cheng Xi raised her hand and rubbed his head vigorously. “This is called being self-aware. It’s something that I’m doing willingly, alright?”
Yuan wrinkled his nose.
Cheng Xi flicked his forehead with her finger. “Don’t make those weird expressions! Why were you watching us fight? Isn’t playing games more fun?”
“I play that game to relieve my stress—I wouldn’t really play it all day!” After Yuan said this, he looked at her superciliously. “It’s only my father who says that I’m becoming a degenerate whenever he sees me playing games.”
“Then do you want to just play without worrying for a while, since you’re at my place? Don’t worry. I won’t tell on you, because I play games quite often myself. You didn’t know that, did you? I even reached the boss level in《Escape from Apocalypse》When that game came out, I was preparing to get into doctoral school. Honestly, I almost drove myself crazy from studying because Professor Cai Yi’s doctoral examination was very hard to pass, but I wanted to have the best teacher regardless.”
Yuan’s head drooped. “You’ve always been smart. My parents always use you as an example, saying that we’re all stupid.”
Cheng Xi said, “That’s only what they think of me. In reality, I’m not all that smart. When I was in high school and was trying to get into university, I’d go to bed at midnight and wake up at four in the morning to study. While others were reading books, I was also reading books, and when they were sleeping, I was still reading. I did the same thing when I went for my Ph.D. after my masters. In fact, I started preparing from the very start of my masters program. As I prepared for my examinations, I simultaneously started preparing for my doctoral studies. My belief has always been that, if I weren’t as smart as others, I would succeed based on my hard work and dedication.”
“But why do you work so hard? Why do we have to get into university? And why must it be the best university? So many people live normal lives, and don’t they do well enough for themselves?”
Yuan was very agitated, so much so that Cheng Xi was caught slightly off guard. The way Yuan was acting today made her feel a lot like she was looking at Lin Fan’s old self. He had once worn the same dazed and agitated expression and looked at her as he desperately asked, “Cheng Xi, why do we have to go to university?”
When Lin Fan came up in her mind again, she actually didn’t feel much emotion towards him anymore. This was despite the fact that, a few months ago, she had clearly believed that she liked him and was waiting for him.
When Cheng Xi broke out of her reverie, she smiled a little and then said to Yuan, “Maybe what they want for you is to stand on the highest precipice and look downwards while you aren’t sure yet as to what you want to do in the future. But actually, as you said, getting into a good university, or even getting into university at all, isn’t all that important. University is just a small part of life, and if you think that it’s important, it’ll be important; if you don’t think that it’s important, then it won’t be important at all. Take my brother, for example. He’s one of those people who are dead set against attending university from the beginning. Instead, he worked hard to become an apprentice craftsman in high school without even graduating. After all these years, hasn’t he done pretty well for himself? If the ability to make money is a measure of one’s success, then he certainly makes a lot more than I do, and he’s a lot more successful than I am. However, there are both hard and easy paths in life, and our society values university and schooling. Doing well in your studies and getting into a good university is a far easier path. Of course, life is a one-way street: once you choose which path to go down, it’s almost impossible to turn back.”
After hearing Cheng Xi’s heartfelt lesson, Yuan stilled for a moment, and although he agreed with her sentiments, he was reluctant to give in. He instead obstinately pursed his lips and murmured, “If only my father were as open-minded as you are.”
“Why not tell him?”
“If I did, he’d kill me!” Yuan hugged his head as if in pain, an agonized expression surfacing onto his face. “All I do is annoy him, and all he focuses on are my grades. He never praises me for doing well, and he always criticizes me for doing badly. Doesn’t he know that I want to work hard too? I don’t know why, but whenever I look at those big numbers on the blackboard stating how far we are from the gaokao, I become so nervous that I can’t pay attention to anything the teacher’s saying. And even during exams, even though I know how to do all of those problems, I somehow get them all wrong! I’m so worried that I’ll just keep doing worse and worse!”
A phobia of exams brought on by anxiety... Yuan’s condition was probably caused by excessive stress.
Now that Cheng Xi had deduced the root cause of his illness, she was able to help him relieve his stress in a much more targeted fashion. After they chatted and ate lunch, they even played a cooperative game together. When Yuan noticed that it was almost afternoon, he said, “I think that I should go back now. He’s still not back yet.”
He really is such a thoughtful child, Cheng Xi thought as she said, “It’s alright. If you want to stay, that’s fine too.”
He shook his head. “No, it’s really fine. It was already very helpful to just have this day to play and relax. I feel a lot better now.”
“That’s good.” Cheng Xi looked at him. He truly did seem much less agitated than when he had first come in. At the very least, the anxiety and gloom on his face had diminished considerably. Cheng Xi wrote him a note as a reminder of their conversation. It contained three questions: Why does one study? What is the purpose of studying? How important are grades? When she handed it over, she said, “When you have time, look at this piece of paper and ponder your answer to these three questions carefully. All I can tell you is, there are many paths in life, but you only have one life.”
When she finished, she called Cheng Yang. Thankfully, he was close by.
When he heard that she wanted him to send Yuan home, Cheng Yang was slightly surprised. “Why’s Yuan over at your place? That brat, isn’t he taking the gaokao this year? Is his uncle so lax that he’d let him come out and play?”
He ran over quickly, and didn’t even bother going upstairs into Cheng Xi’s apartment. “I’m not going to go up. Otherwise, if that boyfriend of yours sees me, he might deliberately try to find fault with my engineering project.” Cheng Yang then put on a saccharine tone as he playfully bemoaned to Cheng Xi, “Engineering’s such a hard discipline. In front of my boss, I have to act like an obedient little kid. It’d be good if you married quickly. That way, I’ll have a big tree that’ll shield and shade me.”
Not waiting for Cheng Xi’s reply, he threw her a sickeningly coquettish glance before taking Yuan far away.
He left Cheng Xi behind in a plume of dust, who was thinking about how she was going to transplant that tree that had just walked away.