Compatible Classmates (Part 3)
Wealthy men and scholars held their open fans overhead as an umbrella whilst making their way across the rather empty streets. Accompanying the concert of raindrops outside, Jin Zhaoying continued making soft sounds as she put her brush to paper.
“I never said your practices would prove fruitful. Since you requested lessons, though, I gave you lessons.”
“Th-that being the case, what do I do about the rites contest?”
“That’s for you to think about.” Jin Zhaoying’s voice echoed in the room in a manner that made it seem as though she was there yet not. “My job is to help you grow, not to help you win. If Ming Feizhen were here, he’d be striving for the same goal.”
Su Xiao thought he was seeing Jin Zhaoying’s mood in the air.
“Before today, you didn’t know what to do about mathematics and music, but you do know.”
Su Xiao’s brain replayed all of his encounters and conversations today.
A just cause enjoys abundant support! Many hands make light work!
“Who should I seek for help in the rites contest then?” Su Xiao enthused.
“How should I know?”
“Even if I do know, I won’t tell you. Else, aren’t I just spoon feeding you? What you ought to focus on isn’t how to pry the answer out of me but to find your own answer. Searching for answers is a part of the growth process. I only promised Ming Feizhen to take care of you. You’re teeming with energy, aren’t you? I’ve fulfilled my promise.”
Su Xiao sort of understood. Nevertheless, he finished all of the momo, though it took a good while. Interrupting the rain and Jin Zhaoying’s concert experience again, he called, “Sister Jin.”
Jin Zhaoying continued writing for a while before, and without stopping her hand, responding, “Speak.”
“Do you like Big Brother Ming?”
Jin Zhaoying suddenly stayed her hand. “… Yes,” she answered. Subsequently, she went back to writing as though the topic didn’t bother her. A while later, she asked, “Do you not like my answer?”
Su Xiao shook his head. “No, I’m happy to hear that. You’re a good person. I’m heading to bed.”
Watching Su Xiao leave with a hunched over posture, Jin Zhaoying blurted, “Wait.”
“… Perhaps you don’t need an answer from me. Perhaps I am the answer. Who am I? Surely I have utility in some capacity.” Although Jin Zhaoying didn’t understand why she said that, it was too late to pretend she didn’t say it now. “That’s all for hints. You’re free to go.”
“Thank you…?” Su Xiao took his confusion with him.
Su Xiao excitedly ran to the agreed rendezvous point the next day; he even left earlier than usual. He was always happy to make new friends and hit it off with pretty much everyone, but seldom did he have the chance to join a group of young friends striving for the same goal. To his surprise, He Shi, Wu Dayong and Zhou Teng were already at the secret spot.
“I didn’t expect you guys to be so early.”
Zhou Teng pushed his glasses up his nose. “I-I’m usually early. As a student, my studies are my priority. Arriving earlier than the sunrise is normal protocol for me.”
Wu Dayong: “I had one foot in before Zhou Teng.”
He Shi smirked. “I arrived after them.”
Wu Dayong: “You were waiting outside before we even arrived. We had to open the door for you to enter!”
“Which means I was last to enter.” He Shi opened his panda eyes and cockily continued, “You’re upright young men in their prime. You were so excited over something so trivial that you couldn’t sleep?”
Wu Dayong: “Look at your eyes! Either you were a burglar last night or spying on Su Xiao changing last night!”
“I just didn’t sleep! Who are you accusing of peek-, ah…”
Wu Dayong and Zhou Teng flashed their pearly whites and raised their eyebrows a few times, making He Shi go red in the face.
Su Xiao hugged the three of them. “Hahaha, I get it. I get it. You’re excited, right?”
Wu Dayong: “Well, a little. It’s the first time in my life that I feel like I can actually do something right. Plus, it’s as a team.”
Zhou Teng scratched the back of his head. “Truth be told, my only friend at the academy in all these years is Brother An Ran. It’s pretty cool to achieve something together.”
He Shi: “There were just too many mosquitoes bugging me last night…”
Wu Dayong smacked He Shi over the head, then checked his empty hand. “Mosquito.”
He Shi silently stood up, took out a dagger and swung it at Wu Dayong. “Why are you blocking?”
“At least come up with an excuse for swinging at me! I justified hitting you, didn’t I?!”
“Why the hell do I need to waste my energy making up an excuse?!”
“I have good news.” Zhou Teng ended the fight promptly with those four words. “I asked Zheng Datong yesterday, and he has agreed to lend us his aid.”
Su Xiao clapped. “Fantastic. Now we have someone for mathematics for sure.”
“However, he has a condition.”
“What is it?”
“We have to convince the academy to let his family be the academy’s exclusive vegetable supplier. He told me his family’s business has been on a steep decline ever since security in the capital became an issue, so his parents want him to quit studying.”
The academy was an enormous entity. When talking about food, food hygiene and the wellbeing of students needed to be accounted for. Hence, they couldn’t just switch suppliers because they wanted to. In addition, how would they hold themselves accountable to their current supplier?
Su Xiao queried, “If he’s that confident in his family’s vegetables, are their vegetables really good?”
“Top of the line. I’ve visited his vegetable garden once. I guarantee their vegetables are levels better than what we’re eating now,” asserted Zhou Teng.
Su Xiao turned to Wu Dayong and He Shi.
Wu Dayong opined, “From what I know, the person in charge of purchasing ingredients is someone in the kitchen. I just can’t remember who it is. Whatever the case, let’s go talk to them.”
Zhou Teng and Su Xiao: “Let’s go.”
“Save yourself the trouble and stop.” He Shi elaborated, “I know who is in charge. Everyone’s bully, Xiang Baxian. Because of His Highness’ treason accusations, he’s locked up, too.”
Zhou Teng nodded. Wu Dayong nodded, as well. Su Xiao nodded and said, “Let’s go. To the prison.”