Chapter 12 – Astray Youth (12)

Noticing someone coming up behind him, Chen Luosong ended the call with a brief two sentences and put his phone in his pocket.

Since he had been seen, it would have been strange to leave at that moment. Therefore, Yuan Yan continued walking forward for two more steps, leaving deep and shallow footprints in the snow.

Facing the gaze of the person in front of him, he said, “What a coincidence.”

“Sorry, I heard the phone call.”

While speaking, he felt something strange in his throat. He cleared his throat and then shifted his gaze away and back again, asking, “Is Secretary Chen busy with work?”

He asked casually, but one of his hands was clenched, showing a nervousness he himself wasn’t fully aware of.

Chen Luosong replied that the call was not about work.

Yuan Yan loosened the hand he had been quietly holding. He smiled and took two more steps forward, curious, “Then who is Secretary Chen talking to?”

As he spoke, a high schooler he had glimpsed across the street flashed through his mind. He said, “Is it a friend’s younger brother?”

“It can’t be the Chairman’s own son.”

As if amusing himself with this thought, Yuan Yan didn’t continue.

Finding someone after so many years wasn’t an easy task, and whether they were alive or dead was also unknown. Anyone could be looking for the Chairman’s son, but the person in front of him couldn’t be.

Chen Luosong smiled and said, “What do you think?”

Sometimes, not answering also conveyed an attitude.

The smile on Yuan Yan’s face gradually faded. “You really can’t go looking for him, can you?”

After saying that, he denied it himself, “You won’t go looking.”

Chen Luosong didn’t react to his words at all, just smiled as usual, calmly hiding his thoughts.

Seeing his smile, Yuan Yan couldn’t help but recall his expression from earlier. He smirked, lit a cigarette, and said, “You really do fake smiles with me all the time.”

This person’s genuine smile was completely different from his usual expressions.

Chen Luosong didn’t deny it.

Inexplicably, Yuan Yan felt a pang in his heart.

Chen Luosong asked him, “What’s the matter, why are you looking for me?”


Yuan Yan lowered his head and took something out of his pocket, a conspicuous silver metallic object. He said, “I found this on the balcony before, it should belong to Secretary Chen.”

Chen Luosong glanced at it.

Perhaps it was his, but he didn’t pay much attention to these things anymore and couldn’t remember.

The person across from him showed it to him, then suddenly withdrew his hand, saying, “Can I have this little thing?”

Originally, Yuan Yan wanted to take this opportunity to return the item, but he changed his mind now.

Chen Luosong glanced at the time, and agreed.

Yuan Yan smiled, “Secretary Chen is generous.”

The snow outside was getting heavier, but Chen Luosong didn’t share Yuan Yan’s interest in playing in the snow. He turned and went back inside.

Today, Secretary Chen left earlier than usual, but no one blamed him. The responsible person escorted him to the door and watched the car leave.

When Chen Luosong returned, the high schooler was indeed still awake, doing homework in his room.

The place where documents were originally kept now had some exam papers added to it, along with scratch paper. The person in pajamas turned around upon hearing movement and called out, “Brother Chen.”

Chen Luosong loosened his tie, responded, and said, “You sit first.”

Zhou Kaiji knew he was going to change clothes first, so he replied, “Alright.”

Outside the window, the courtyard was covered in snow, and bright lights shone through the window, casting light on the snow.

As someone in a shirt and trousers passed by, Zhou Kaiji caught a faint smell of smoke.

It was very faint, but his sense of smell was naturally better, able to detect it.

Without pointing out the smoke smell, he lowered his head and continued to work on the problems.

There were less than two months left until the final exam.

The monthly exams had a scope, although some questions went beyond the exam scope. However, most of the questions were within the scope, the parts he had reviewed before, so the grades were considered acceptable.

But the final exam was different. It not only covered all the content of the semester but also involved previous material, including many parts he had not yet reviewed.

To get that five thousand, not a single point could be lost.

He timed himself to do the questions, corrected mistakes, then timed himself again to do the questions and correct mistakes. By the time he heard a noise at the bathroom door, he had just finished a big question on a test paper.

With lingering moisture on his body, the person who was wiping his hair patted the high schooler’s back and said, “It’s time to sleep.”

Zhou Kaiji put down his pen, stood up, and skillfully picked up a book from the bookshelf, saying, “Brother Chen, I want to read this book today.”


Time flies in just over a month.

After going through the baptism of monthly exam results, Li Hua and his group of friends finally straightened up, especially after realizing that there was a “king of exam papers” among them. They went from just chatting and eating sunflower seeds during breaks to now eating sunflower seeds while studying.

This was already a significant leap for them, worthy of commendation and recognition. However, as the final exams approached, they received bad news from their teachers.

Holiday assignments were assigned based on scores. The good news was that those with high scores had fewer assignments, but the bad news was that those with low scores, especially those who failed, had a lot of assignments. A LOT.

Using his meager mathematical abilities, Li Hua carefully calculated and concluded that the assignments for those with poor grades were three times as much as those for students with good grades.

It was terrifying.

Their pleading eyes immediately turned to the quiet and composed “Learning God” in the group.

During group discussions between classes, several neighbors instinctively turned their heads and looked at the person sitting in the back row.

Facing the sudden emergence of several heads, Zhou Kaiji was already accustomed to it. After the class changed seats once and formed groups, he was automatically considered a member of this group, and discussions were always like this. The only difference was that usually, these people would turn around under the pretext of discussing to gather and secretly snack together. However, today they were actually discussing the problems in a proper manner.

This week was the last week before the final exams, and they wanted to give it one last try.

At the very least, they hoped to reduce the threefold assignments to double.

Classmate Li Hua, who often asked for help with writing letters, chewed silently on gum during class and proposed the grand idea of reviewing at Zhou Kaiji’s house.

Relying on the points earned from leaning back in their chairs during exams could only get them so far; the rest relied on their subjective thinking abilities. They couldn’t make much progress in their own review and had to rely on external help.

Li Hua attempted to discuss with his good deskmate, “You owe us a meal from before, and you’re also saving money to buy things for Secretary Chen. We won’t charge you this time; we’ll just come over and cook a meal at your place. We’ll bring the ingredients ourselves.”

Bringing their own ingredients, having a meal, and reviewing for a whole day conveniently.

The others agreed to this great idea and eagerly looked towards the “Learning God.”

Zhou Kaiji finished writing the last word, then lifted his eyes and, facing the eager gazes, said, “Let me ask Brother Chen.”

The others cheered with joy.

The cheers of finding support were mistaken for cheers of successfully solving a problem, and the teacher at the podium picked their group to share their answer.

Finally remembering they were still in class, the people who had been smiling moments ago quickly restrained their expressions.

Li Hua stood up slowly, wearing an expression of resignation.

As soon as his butt left the chair, the person next to him quietly stood up.

“This question involves the uncertain gene carried by the second generation E, with three possible outcomes. At the same time, F has two possibilities, one of which is…”

This question was somewhat complex, so the teacher asked him to explain it on the blackboard.

Li Hua and his neighbors watched him with admiration, as if they were watching a hero, as he went up to the platform.

The biology class went smoothly.

On the way home in the evening, the high schooler mentioned about his classmates wanting to come over to study at his house.

“Sounds good.”

Chen Luosong took a slow sip of throat-soothing tea and said, “I happen to be free that day.”

Zhou Kaiji was about to nod when he heard the other person chuckle and say, “I’ll cook you guys some of the new dishes I’ve learned.”


One high schooler fell into silence, then hesitated before saying, “Brother Chen, you should rest.”

Brother Chen felt he wasn’t tired.

The snack group received a positive response the next day. Although they didn’t understand why Zhou Kaiji’s expression seemed a bit strange when he spoke, it wasn’t important. They started planning what to eat that day, even assigning tasks for snacks from the day they received the confirmation.

They didn’t look like they were going to study; it was more like they were going on an outing.

Zhou Kaiji didn’t comment and continued quietly doing his exercises.

On Saturday morning, Li Hua and a few others gathered at the bus stop on time and boarded the bus.

They carried backpacks and large bags in their hands. Other passengers on the bus secretly praised them for their love of learning.

No one knew that inside their backpacks and bags were snacks that accounted for ninety percent and books that accounted for ten percent.

As they neared the bus stop Zhou Kaiji had mentioned, Li Hua suddenly called a meeting, saying, “When we get there, no matter what you see, don’t speak.”

Although everything seemed normal now, with someone named Brother Chen present, Li Hua still remembered the talk about part-time jobs he had heard before and the clothes and pants that were always washed to be as white as snow, a long time ago.

He wasn’t sure about the other person’s current situation, but being cautious wouldn’t hurt.

The others expressed their understanding.

The bus arrived at the stop, and they got off. Looking around, they saw the streets lined with snowy Chinese parasol trees.

Zhou Kaiji was already waiting at the bus stop, easily noticeable due to his height.

Li Hua and the others approached him.

Seeing all the bags and packages, Zhou Kaiji was at a loss for words for the first time. He quieted down and asked, “Are you guys moving house?”

Li Hua enthusiastically introduced the dishes and various snacks in the bags to him.

They set off with the food and snacks.

Another person leaned over curiously and asked, “Is Brother Chen here?”

After Li Hua’s enthusiastic descriptions, even though the others hadn’t met Secretary Chen, they started calling him “Brother Chen” too.

They hadn’t seen him, but they really wanted to. Li Hua always asked others to write letters for him, which resulted in a very limited vocabulary. He would say “looks good” after talking for a long time, which they couldn’t understand, making them even more curious.

Zhou Kaiji confirmed that Brother Chen was there.

A few of them glanced at him a bit more. Whether it was their imagination or not, they always felt that his expressions were slightly strange when he spoke.

The Wutong Road they were walking along was quite long, and it felt eerily deserted. They didn’t see many people along the way, only hearing their own voices as they talked.

One of the friends asked how much longer it would be.

Zhou Kaiji replied, “Just up ahead.”

“Just up ahead” meant they could already see the walls outside.

Walking beside him, Li Hua said, “I wonder if Brother Chen remembers me.”

He was calling Brother Chen more familiarly than anyone else. Zhou Kaiji, who had been quietly leading the way, turned his head and said, “You should still call him Secretary Chen.”

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