Always By Your Side - Chapter 9
Chapter 9: The Low-Profile High Cadre Younger Generation
Cheng Bai was in the hospital when he encountered Shen Yu. The names of these two were often put together at H University. They were both prominent protagonists in campus news.
According to the rumours, Shen Yu’s mother and father were both university professors in Chongqing. Not only had they passed down a blossoming beauty to their daughter, but she had also been taught to be independent and self-reliant from childhood. Therefore, no matter how beautiful she was, her academic achievements and abilities were all superior to her peers. When filling out her aspirations for the college entrance examination, however, she’d made the first significant mistake of her entire life—wrongly taking the document of aspirations written from the previous year! As a result, even though she’d clearly filled in the code for economics, she was admitted to the Department of Physics. She didn’t want to repeat a year, therefore she studied physics. Because of her inner defiance, she was determined to stay in the dormitory and sleep instead of attending class. Until one day, where she skipped class and went to the library to find light reading. Between a bunch of fiction novels, there was a book called “The Biography of Zhou Dunyi” mixed in. She borrowed it casually, but by the time she returned it, she was fascinated. She thought it was a novel and wanted to find the author’s other books, only to find that the author was not a novelist at all, but a great scholar! Since Shen Yu was a child, she had never admired anyone, but she prostrated herself in admiration for Professor Fu Jiasheng to the point where she set the objective of being his graduate student. After that, she started to step across department classes, revise, and prepare for the postgraduate entrance examination. This created another strange phenomenon on the S University campus—the goddess of the physics department was taking classes in the Chinese department every day.
When Shen Yu was admitted to H University and it was time to choose a mentor, she was not selected by Fu Jiasheng, as he had only taken one PhD student from the previous year. However, Shen Yu was a newborn calf, and directly stated that those who weren’t graduate students of Professor Fu were incapable. The scene was very embarrassing. In the end, Fu Jiasheng looked at her performance records and personally interviewed her. After communicating with the school, he made an exception and accepted her.
After this scene, Shen Yu, who had just entered H University, immediately became one of the emerging talents among the freshmen of H University.
Cheng Bai had a reputation. Two years earlier at school, a parent suffered from asthma, and he encountered and saved that parent. At the time, someone on the side filmed the scene and posted it on Weibo, saying: “Our H University’s handsome man is not only handsome! His heart is even more beautiful! Cheng Bai from the medical department, is there anyone like Gongzi Xiao Bai!” In the photo, Cheng Bai was dressed in white clothes and black pants. The clean and relaxing attire indeed let the people have a fleeting glimpse of something unforgettable. In this way, the name Gongzi Xiao Bai spread like wildfire.
Cheng Bai and Shen Yu knew each other. This was because they were both socially active in order to be successful, and they had a wide circle of good friends.
When Shen Yu saw Cheng Bai, she said: “Doctor Cheng is off work? Do you want to eat together?”
For acquaintances he only nodded his head at, Cheng Bai was always unwilling to think too much. Shen Yu saw Cheng Bai’s intention to decline, and plainly said: “Today I went to your hospital for an examination, and it turned out to be very pessimistic. Can’t you invite me to dinner and comfort me? In any case, we’re considered to be friends.”
“What are you saying.” Shen Yu didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, “I have a molar that can’t be mended, so I can only install false teeth.”
Cheng Bai saw that he couldn’t evade her and only asked: “Where are we eating?”
“I really want to eat barbecue, but I can’t eat with my teeth currently. So how about we go eat something light and healthy? How about we eat at Guiji from our university?”
“As you wish.”
Cheng Bai didn’t expect that as soon as he entered Guiji, he would see Cheng Yuanyuan as well as Fu Beichen.
“Senior brother?!” It was as if Shen Yu had discovered a new world as she happily and excitedly took Cheng Bai to Fu Beichen’s table.
Cheng Bai withdrew his hand and nodded towards Fu Beichen.
Fu Beichen smiled and said: “Since everyone knows each other, how about eating together? Let’s change to a bigger table.”
“You don’t need to trouble yourself,” Cheng Bai politely interrupted.
“Yes, Senior Brother, if you look, there aren’t any big tables here.” Shen Yu smiled. “Moreover, we don’t want to be lightbulbs.” As she said this, she winked towards Yuanyuan.
Fu Beichen did not refute. His expression was as usual, calm and unhurried.
Yuanyuan looked at Shen Yu and Cheng Bai who were before her, thinking that they really were a pair of jade people.
When Cheng Bai and Shen Yu were seated at a table separated from them, Yuanyuan was still distracted thinking about something. Fu Beichen did not speak either. The scene remained silent for a while until Fu Beichen sighed softly and said: “Cheng Yuanyuan, what are you thinking about?”
Only then did Yuanyuan return to her senses, and with a smile, she said: “Looking at them, I think of golden boys and jade maidens, a perfect couple.”
Fu Beichen was slightly stunned, then he immediately laughed. Afterwards, he wanted to take his glass of water, but his hand abruptly shook. The glass was not held steadily and fell on the table. Water spilled out. Fu Beichen closed his eyes and furrowed his brows slightly.
“What happened to you?” Yuanyuan asked nervously.
After Fu Beichen opened his eyes and looked at the person in front of him, his expression slowly eased.
At this time, the waiter arrived carrying two dishes.
“Eat first.” Fu Beichen retracted his gaze. Yuanyuan saw his complexion was the same as ever, so she nodded, “Oh.”
Yuanyuan had eaten too much at noon that day and was not particularly hungry now. Additionally, Fu Beichen had always had a mediocre appetite. Fortunately he hadn’t ordered many dishes. In the end, the two of them finished all the dishes on the table.
Fu Beichen learned that Yuanyuan still planned to do work when she went home that night. He insisted on ordering a midnight snack to-go for her. When they left, they greeted Cheng Bai and Shen Yu at their seats. Then Fu Beichen went to pick up the car, and Yuanyuan waited for him at the door with her takeout.
The neighbourhood around the restaurant had many cars, and the cars moved very slowly.
While waiting for Fu Beichen, she happened to see a wall not far away. There, a beggar was sitting on the ground, looking at the pedestrians. Yuanyuan looked down at the midnight snack in her hand and then walked over.
Just as she generously handed her takeout to the beggar, she felt someone beside her. Thinking it was Fu Beichen, she said: “I gave away the takeout you ordered for me.”
“Go ahead.” How could this cold and indifferent manner of speaking be Fu Beichen?
She sighed, turning her head to see Cheng Bai. She was a little unhappy with his attitude, but she didn’t want to quarrel, so she simply moved her body away. Cheng Bai gave all of the remaining money he’d received from settling the bill to the beggar.
Shen Yu stood behind them and recalled what had happened just now. As soon as Cheng Bai had finished paying the bill, he saw Cheng Yuanyuan approaching the beggar and immediately chased after her. Shen Yu watched Cheng Bai stand behind Yuanyuan with a protective stance. It was the first time she’d seen Cheng Bai like this. Such an indifferent person had such a side. It was very strange.
Shen Yu suddenly thought of something and looked back. Sure enough, Fu Beichen’s car was already parked in front of the restaurant. He was also looking at the two people over there, calmly.
Yuanyuan smiled at Shen Yu as she walked past, and Shen Yu smiled back. After that, Yuanyuan walked towards Fu Beichen’s car.
After she got into Fu Beichen’s car and they left, Shen Yu looked at the person beside her. “It turns out you’re also ‘familiar’ with Cheng Yuanyuan.”
Cheng Bai looked at Shen Yu. The latter shrugged her shoulders and said, “Her magazine is working with my teacher on a column. I’ve met her on both sides. My senior brother is actually the son of my teacher.”
Cheng Bai naturally had a clear understanding and didn’t want to say anything. He glanced at the back door of H University that was not far away and asked, “Should I send you back to school?”
Shen Yu shook her head, half-serious and half-joking: “No need, I can see from your appearance that you aren’t very willing.”
Cheng Bai declined to give a comment on the beauty Shen Yu’s straightforwardness: “Alright, keep in touch.”
Before Shen Yu left, she looked back at Cheng Bai who was still standing there, and then at the car that was already driving far away. She knew that Fu Beichen was having dinner at Guiji today. She had previously called her teacher to ask a question and learned about it by accident. However, she hadn’t known who Fu Beichen had made the appointment with. When she met Cheng Bai at the hospital, her thoughts were turning, and she just pulled him along. Then, she saw Cheng Yuanyuan. In all honesty she wasn’t surprised it was Cheng Yuanyuan. What surprised her was the relationship between Cheng Bai and Cheng Yuanyuan. They weren’t like a couple, but it seemed that they knew each other extremely well.
Shen Yu pondered and muttered to herself: “Could they be brother and sister? They both have the surname Cheng.”
Sitting in the car, Cheng Yuanyuan couldn’t help but think of her childhood and how she used to call Cheng Bai her older brother. She felt she had been quite stupid. Their household was obviously indifferent to these matters, but she didn’t understand this, and revolved around that household day and night, changing her ways in order to get close to him.
At this time, the car happened to be passing the city library. Yuanyuan turned back to look. Situated at the entrance was a wide, tree-lined boulevard with ginkgo trees on either side. These trees spread towards the inside of the main building. She was taken aback for a moment, and subconsciously raised her hand to touch the back of her neck. The wound was still there—
Whether that day had been a Saturday or Sunday, she forgot. She only remembered that she had followed Cheng Bai to the city library to read. When they came out, the sky was already a bit dark. The two originally walked side by side, but when they passed by an alley her shoelaces were loose, so she had knelt down to tie them. She raised her head to tell him to wait, but found that he had turned around and was already waiting for her. She was about to smile at him but suddenly saw someone clenching a rusty iron rod. He was running out of the small alley to hit Cheng Bai. Without a second thought, she jumped up and threw herself towards the man.
The iron rod’s surface was very rough. In an instant, she felt a coldness at the back of her neck and a heart-wrenching pain struck. The moment the assailant was pushed away by her, someone from behind them mournfully screamed, and he escaped in a hurry.
“The wound on the back of your neck, when did you get it?”
Yuanyuan heard Fu Beichen’s voice, and she turned her head to look at him. He had discovered it?
“First year of high school…” She had been a first year, and Cheng Bai had been in his third year.
Fu Beichen was silent for a while, then asked: “Tonight you didn’t eat much, even your takeout was given away. Should I buy you something on the road?”
“No need, later when I’m hungry I can make a snack by myself.”
“Alright.” Fu Beichen thought, When you bring takeout home, it gets cold and doesn’t taste as good.
Then Fu Beichen’s phone rang. It was Professor Fu calling, and it seemed that he was telling him about something. Yuanyuan vaguely heard some words such as “articles” and “aunt”. When Fu Beichen hung up, he glanced at the person who was looking at him curiously and smiled: “Professor Fu told me to remember to read my aunt’s article.”
“Is your aunt an author?”
Fu Beichen nodded lightly.
“Wow, your entire family is amazing!” Yuanyuan sighed with feeling. Sure enough, dragons gave birth to dragons, and phoenixes gave birth to phoenixes. She didn’t know what Fu Beichen’s grandfather did, giving birth to such incredible children. “Can your aunt’s articles be searched online?”
“No need to search. If you open the glove compartment in front of you, there are some inside.”
Yuanyuan opened the compartment and sure enough, found a copy of “Locus”. “Isn’t this the most indifferent report novel in the country?” She took it out and flipped through it.
“It’s the one that was folded by Professor Fu.”
“Lie Xu?” Yuanyuan asked with doubt. “Your aunt’s pen name is so strange.”
“That’s not her pen name, it’s her real name.”
“Real name? Fu Liexu?”
“No, my aunt’s surname is Lie.”
Hearing these words, Yuanyuan was thoroughly stunned. It seemed she was asking about other people’s private matters, so it was timely to stop now.
“Ahem.” She cleared her throat and said, “The last name Lie is really rare. I remember I only saw it once.”
“I saw a report before. A long, long, long time ago, a former secretary of the province—if I remember correctly—had this last name. I’ve never seen it anywhere else.”
“But I remember, that secretary wasn’t actually surnamed Lie. It seems that he had changed it, his surname was originally…what was his surname?” The word was on the verge of being spoken.
“My grandfather’s name was Fu Zhengrong.”
Yuanyuan was silly for two seconds, then said: “Your family is really…” In their family, talented people came out in large numbers.
“But it’s just everyone taking charge of their duties and carrying their own responsibilities.” He seemed to know what she was thinking and responded with such a sentence.
Yuanyuan gazed at the person next to her. In truth, she had wanted to talk to Fu Beichen a long time ago. The feeling he gave her was just like those princes and generals from ancient television dramas: Profound learning, sophisticated, and restrained.
But somehow, sometimes, for no reason at all, she felt a sense of loneliness from him. Yuanyuan thought that it ought to be her own misconception. Because Fu Beichen didn’t seem to lack anything.
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