Chapter 21.2 – Astray Youth (21)

Once New Year’s Eve arrived, it meant that the winter vacation was halfway over. After New Year’s Eve, a few high school students wrote homework together a few times, and the winter vacation ended like that.

On the first day back to school, for the first time, Li Hua and a few others had a holiday without rushing to school for homework. Instead, they went to school early and became the top students among the group rushing to finish homework.

He waited all morning but didn’t see his tablemate. Li Hua then asked others if they had seen his tablemate.

A kind classmate told him that Zhou Kaiji had arrived earlier than him and had gone to the office after the opening ceremony as a student representative. He hadn’t returned yet.

Every student representative was usually the top student in the grade, and Li Yue was always the top. Li Hua almost forgot about this rule.

With nothing else to do, he hesitated and then gathered a small group of snack enthusiasts. Together, they sneaked towards the office, trying to catch a glimpse of what Zhou Kaiji was doing there.

Since it was the first day of school, students were frequently going in and out of the office, so the door was left open, giving a clear view inside.

Zhou Kaiji was indeed in the office, sitting by the director’s desk, wearing the school uniform, sitting up straight, looking even taller than the director.

The director’s desk was by the window, and they couldn’t hear the conversation from where they stood by the door. The group quickly shifted positions and quietly moved to the window side.

They overheard the director saying, “Earlier, due to special circumstances, we moved you from Class 1 to Class 3. Now, as you can see, this is a crucial period. Objectively speaking, Class 1 has better teaching resources and information. The teachers hope…”

“What the—”

Only half of the conversation was heard, and one of the guys couldn’t resist blurting out. Li Hua and the others quickly reacted, covering his mouth and dragging him to the other side of the corridor.

They let go, and the guy could finally utter a complete “What the heck.” Although his grades weren’t great, he had at least moved away from being one of the last few in exams. His comprehension skills were still there, allowing him to understand what the director meant.

The director’s surname was Wang, their subject teacher, and also the homeroom teacher of Class 1.

“He’s trying to poach,” the guy said. “He’s definitely undermining our position, right!”

There was no need for confirmation; it was obvious he was trying to undermine them.

Someone said, “So, he was in Class 1 before.”

They knew the guy had transferred classes, coming to theirs midway, but they hadn’t realized he was from Class 1. They hadn’t heard about it or heard him mention it.

Li Hua stroked his chin, deep in thought, and the more he thought, the clearer things became in his mind.

He knew that the person in the office had worked part-time before, and that was probably the reason for his transfer from Class 1 to the current class.

So, he came from Class 1. No wonder he was so impressive. No wonder Li Yue came to their class looking for someone he knew; turned out they really knew each other.

They were discussing this when suddenly they heard footsteps. They dared not turn their heads until the footsteps faded, then cautiously glanced back.

The person who had been talking face-to-face with the director in the office had left, and when they looked over, they caught a glimpse of him descending the stairs.

An announcement came over the loudspeaker, informing teachers and students to proceed to the auditorium for the opening ceremony.

The snack squad went, and they also saved a seat for Zhou Kaiji. As more and more people gathered around, they felt a bit nervous for some reason.

They were nervous for the person about to speak on stage.

Although being ranked first was a good thing, as far as they knew, the person probably didn’t have much experience speaking in front of so many people, or it could be said that he had very little experience communicating with others in general.

As the students assembled, the opening ceremony began.

This was probably the most attentive opening ceremony the snack squad had ever attended in their lives.

When it was time for the student representative to speak, the person in school uniform took the stage. The hall gradually filled with murmurs, and most people’s gazes shifted toward Class 1, where they saw Li Yue sitting firmly in his seat.

First place had changed hands.

The snack squad nervously held their breath.

The person standing on stage surprised them all; he was unexpectedly composed in every aspect, from pronunciation to expression.

He stood like a sturdy pine tree, his gaze sweeping through the audience without any fluctuations. He met people’s eyes without hesitation or avoidance, exuding a calmness and naturalness that seemed beyond his age.

As the speech ended, applause began even before the snack squad could start clapping.

As they clapped and moved closer to each other, they exchanged glances.

It was really good, even better than they could have imagined.

But there was a strange feeling lingering, not in a negative way, just indescribable—a sense that it didn’t quite feel like a student representative’s speech.

“I get it,” Li Hua said, rubbing his chin. “It wasn’t a student’s speech; it was more like a leader’s address.”

A pragmatic leader, at that.

Their pragmatic leader came down from the stage, and Li Hua raised his hand to point the location.

As soon as Zhou Kaiji sat down, the person next to him nudged him with his elbow. He turned and asked, “What is it?”

Li Hua asked him what he had been up to during the winter vacation when they weren’t around.

Zhou Kaiji: “Huh?”

Good Brother beside him asked, “How come you’re not nervous speaking in front of so many people?”

Zhou Kaiji shrugged it off, feeling alright about it.

On New Year’s Eve night, he told Secretary Chen that he also wanted to learn how to run the company. There was a meeting with Mr. Yuan, so he wanted to attend.

Secretary Chen showed him some non-confidential contracts and plans, and also took him to the company a few times. He had seen Secretary Chen conduct meetings.

At a meeting deciding the subsidiary companies and factories under them, involving tens of thousands of employees and families, Secretary Chen handled it effortlessly. Now, facing a speech at school, it didn’t seem like much compared to the former. He didn’t feel nervous about it either.

“Um, so, when are you transferring to Class 1?” Li Hua asked.

Facing the gaze of the other party, he explained lightly, “We had something to do at the office and happened to overhear.”

Zhou Kaiji said, “I declined.”

The snack squad pondered the meaning of his words for a moment, then widened their eyes in disbelief. Good Brother leaned closer and whispered, “Don’t you need to tell Brother Chen? Won’t Brother Chen get angry?”

After all this time, they had figured out that Brother Chen was probably some sort of guardian figure. Even the best-tempered guardian would likely be upset to know someone had turned down a chance to join the best class.

Zhou Kaiji smiled and said, “He won’t.”

Li Hua kindly reminded him, “Your ears are a bit red.”

Zhou Kaiji paused, slightly tilting his head and covering his ear with his hand. “It’s hot.”

Not hearing their conversation clearly, Good Brother leaned in and asked if they could go to his house again this Friday to do homework.

In the new year, they had already resolved to be the type of person who finishes homework on the first day of vacation. With too many distractions in other people’s rooms, only Zhou Kaiji’s room had a hint of a studying atmosphere.

“Sure,” Zhou Kaiji said, “Brother Chen happens to be cooking that day.”

Suddenly, they felt that tidying up their rooms wouldn’t hinder their studying. They quickly decided to go to Li Hua’s house to do their homework.

As the new year began, a few keen-eyed individuals at Guangsheng Company noticed that changes were quietly taking place in the upper echelons.

Some were dismissed, while others took their place. It was irregular and unpredictable, but the changes were slow, maintaining an overall stable trend without causing any turbulence. However, those who observed closely couldn’t help but feel a sense of unease.

Everyone could guess whose hand was behind these changes, but no one could fathom the intentions behind them.

Only the person himself knew what he truly wanted to achieve, but no one could extract a word from his mouth.

On Friday, as the workday came to an end, the sky outside the French windows had already darkened. The blue glow of the computer screen reflected off the lenses of Chen Luosong’s glasses. He shut down his computer, and the glow vanished from his lenses.

He had promised Zhou Xiaoji to cook dinner tonight, but things had gotten a bit busy, so he was running a bit late. Taking off his glasses, he put on his coat and casually picked up the scarf hanging nearby, wrapping it around his neck twice before leaving.

Just as he was about to exit the office door, his phone in his pocket rang. Opening the door and taking out his phone, he glanced down.

It was a call from Yuan Yan.


Listening to the voice on the phone, Chen Luosong closed the office door and asked, “Where are you right now?”

Exiting the office, taking the elevator downstairs, he stood at the building’s main entrance for a moment. A red sports car approached from the end of the road, crossed the intersection, and parked neatly by the roadside.

The car door opened, revealing a familiar face.

Chen Luosong got into the car.

After he got in, the sports car pulled back onto the road.

The car window wasn’t tightly closed, letting the wind whistle past his ears. With the constant sound of wind, Chen Luosong turned his head and said, “If you’re in a hurry, at least drive close to the speed limit.”

His voice remained consistently calm, slightly muted by the wind, as if it were blowing directly into one’s mind, instantly calming them down.

The car slowed down gradually, and Yuan Yan let out a breath, saying, “Alright.”

Chen Luosong didn’t say anything else; he lowered his head to message the high schooler.

He probably couldn’t go back today.

Old Master Yuan had fallen down the stairs and was currently in the hospital. Old Master Yuan’s daughter had just gone abroad for an exchange program, leaving only this person beside him to rush over.

However, this person had no experience in this regard. He happened to be nearby when he received the notification, so Yuan Yan called him.

Since he already knew, he had to make this trip.

The sports car drove through the streets and finally arrived at the airport.

The plane took off, and less than two hours later, it landed.

There was someone waiting before the plane landed, so they could take a car directly to the hospital after leaving the airport.

The driver was a bit surprised to see an additional person coming out of the airport, but he didn’t say much and opened the car door.

The hospital was the Yuan family’s hospital, and Old Master Yuan had already undergone a full-body examination upon arrival. His body was mostly fine except for a leg fracture and temporary unconsciousness due to shock. The doctors assessed that he would need surgery in a few hours.

Before they arrived, the butler had taken care of most of the matters, but the surgical informed consent form hadn’t been signed yet. Finally seeing them arrive, he breathed a sigh of relief.

Yuan Yan signed the consent form, and Chen Luosong accompanied him through the procedures. Afterward, they watched as Old Master Yuan was wheeled into the operating room.

Glancing at the time, Chen Luosong turned to the person beside him and said, “The surgery will take a few hours; you should get some rest first.”

Yuan Yan didn’t sleep; instead, he sat outside the operating room.

The butler had been there initially, but being of advanced age, he couldn’t stay awake. He found an empty hospital bed and slept.

The surgery was successful and lasted over two hours.

Watching Old Master Yuan being wheeled out after the surgery, Yuan Yan stood up but suddenly felt dizzy and lost control of his body, leaning forward before being stopped from falling.

Chen Luosong handed a throat lozenge to the person.

Yuan Yan, exhausted from the night’s events which depleted a significant amount of energy without timely replenishment, experienced low blood sugar. He was admitted to the room next to Old Master Yuan and was given glucose water through an IV.

When he woke up the next morning, it was already bright outside.

As he hurried to Old Master Yuan’s hospital room, he found the person lying in the bed was already awake, looking spirited and even giving him a curious stare. The butler was there too, along with a nurse and caregiver standing by. Doctors and nurses were examining the patient, and a fruit basket had been placed by the bedside.

It seemed like it was no longer early in the day.

Looking around, Yuan Yan asked, “Where’s Secretary Chen?”

“He had a meeting in the morning,” Old Master Yuan replied. “He left while you were still asleep.”

Yuan Yan was surprised. “He woke up so early.”

“If you’re referring to the gentleman who came with you last night,” the nurse by the bedside said, “he probably didn’t sleep.”

Yuan Yan widened his eyes.

He immediately turned around and walked to the door, intending to grab his phone to send a message. “Yesterday, when I went to pick him up, he had just finished work. He definitely hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and now he’s rushing back, he probably won’t have time…”

“Do you want to continue chasing after him?”

He had his hand on the hospital room door handle when the person lying in the bed called out to him, slightly raising his voice. “You already know, no one can keep him.”

“I know,” Yuan Yan turned to look at the person on the bed and said, “but I still haven’t given up.”

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