In the shaded field, the sound of a basketball hitting the ground was heard, occasionally mixed with conversation and laughter.
Residents of the community passing by stopped from time to time to watch the young people sweating on the court. A three pointer was thrown from a boy’s hand, spun around the circle for half a turn and fell into the basket. The young man staring nervously at the basket immediately cheered. “It went in!”
The man standing next to him took a few steps forward, picked up the ball and replied, “This shot was beautiful.”
This was Ji Tong’s three pointer shot entirely on his own.
There were also a few boys ranging in age from 11 to 17. They also applauded when they saw this.
At the lively sound, Ji Tong raised his hand to casually wipe the sweat on his forehead. He extended his hand toward Pei Qingyuan with a smile, “I want to throw it again.”
The basketball fell into his arms with just the right amount of force.
Every weekend when they had time, Ji Tong and Pei Qingyuan would come to the basketball court in the community to play. After many occasions, they became acquainted with these teenagers who also liked to play basketball and often played together.
Pei Qingyuan played in a national competition in high school. Even if he had less time to be exposed to it later, his skills were enough to crush ordinary people. It made this group of children worship him terribly.
Compared with ordinary boys, Ji Tong hadn’t been exposed to these sports for a long time and he wasn’t very talented. But he studied seriously and his teacher was quite responsible and patient. Now he was at an intermediate level and he could also play with this group of energetic children.
Every time, he played on the court until his clothes were completely wet with sweat. Then Pei Qingyuan would think that he had chosen a good neighborhood.
The year they graduated from college, they decided to own a house of their own. Ji Tong didn’t have too many requirements. He just said it was okay to be closer to the company so he didn’t have to get up too early to work.
At that time, the Two Trees company was already quite famous. Pei Qingyuan often appeared in various magazines and newspapers as a business upstart. Their colleagues and friends heard that they wanted to buy a house and immediately reported the names of a bunch of luxury houses. They were more excited than buying a house for themselves.
It seemed that they should buy a big house, villa, or mansion… the more expensive it was, the more they could show their identity.
However, Pei Qingyuan grew up in a wealthy mansion where the neighbors were far apart. In such a world, people’s time wasn’t wasted on worthless things. Close interactions with neighbors usually heralded some sort of exchange of resources and connections.
Meanwhile, Ji Tong was a person who could go downstairs to throw away garbage and be pulled by a neighbor’s grandmother to eat snacks at home.
So Pei Qingyuan finally bought a house in a mid-range community with a beautiful environment and a strong life atmosphere. It was similar to the community where they had rented for several years but was closer to the company.
Moreover, there were several terraced houses in the community that were larger than ordinary homes and had better privacy. They had their own garden backyards.
Ji Tong could go to the yard to tend to the flowers and plants in sunny weather, play the piano in the spacious living room and chat with neighbors about tomorrow’s weather while walking the short-legged little white dog at night.
After experiencing the taste of walking the dog once, the cat Hua Hua gradually fell for the taste. He often ran over to rub against Ji Tong’s pant leg when he didn’t want to be a cat. His blue eyes were full of very reserved expectations.
In the evening breeze, Pei Qingyuan took Ji Tong’s hand and walked out of the house. They walked side by side under the dim street lights through the shadows of the trees, seriously discussing which dish on the dinner table tonight tasted the best.
The white dog at the other end of the leash was still like a cute toy, jumping happily on the stone road. Everyone passing by couldn’t help taking a look.
Happiness took a concrete shape.
The second three pointer landed firmly in the basket. This time, it was without even hitting the rim.
The smile on Ji Tong’s face became even brighter. He imitated the high school students he had seen before by proudly turning around and bumping shoulders with Pei Qingyuan.
The boys on the side also said sincerely, “Brother Ji is awesome!”
Brother Ji was easily overjoyed due to praise. “I’ll treat you to eat ice cream later.”
They were tired of playing and sat on the sidelines to rest. They listened to this group of half-grown children talk about unfinished homework and the latest popular songs. The scent of youth instantly swarmed in.
It was a bright spring and a leisurely weekend.
There were lively teenagers beside the basketball court and also a quiet little boy.
Next to the barbed wire fence covered with creepers, a young boy around ten years old sat there, looking at them enviously. He pushed the glasses up the bridge of his nose from time to time.
This was the third time Ji Tong saw him. He leaned toward Pei Qingyuan’s ear and whispered, “Don’t you think it is really similar?”
“……” Pei Qingyuan hesitated to speak but finally decided to obey him. “It is similar.”
Every time Ji Tong saw an elementary school student with dark skin, short hair and glasses, he would feel like they were similar to Fang Hao.
In this regard, Fang Hao’s own evaluation was: I am so handsome! How am I like that?!
Hearing Pei Qingyuan’s approval, Ji Tong nodded and added casually, “But he still isn’t as dark as Xiao Hao.”
Pei Qingyuan couldn’t help thinking that it was fortunate that Fang Hao couldn’t hear this sentence.
Today when Ji Tong went to buy ice cream at the small supermarket next to the court, he specially bought an extra stick and distributed it to this elementary school student whose skin was whiter than Fang Hao.
“What is your name?” Ji Tong crouched down and opened the ice cream bag for him to choose from. “If you want to play basketball, you can play with us.”
The little boy was a bit surprised and stammered, “M-My name is Fang Pingping. My mother won’t let me play basketball, I, will get, my clothes dirty….”
Ji Tong initially thought the boy was nervous because he was talking to a stranger. Then after a few more words, he found that every word spoken was like this.
Thus, he didn’t know if this little friend was called Fang Ping or Fang Pingping.
Ji Tong felt that Fang Pingping sounded a bit cuter.
Coincidentally, he and Fang Hao both had the surname Fang.
Fang Pingping was introverted by nature. Ji Tong stuffed the ice cream that he thought was the most delicious into the hands of the child and honestly reported his house. “Please eat ice cream. I live in the terraced house on the far right. If you want to play basketball on the weekends then come and call me.”
He felt more and more that this little friend sitting alone in the corner was like Fang Hao.
Fang Pingping nodded again and again like a chicken pecking at rice. He pinched the ice cream and stammered out some thanks.
“My house is here. It is the second building on the left.”
He sat at the desk by the window and could often see the two big brothers walking by. One of the big brothers was always smiling.
They seemed to be nice people.
Fang Pingping ate the sweet ice cream and thought so happily.
The next weekend, Fang Pingping finished his homework. He played along in the community and walked to the basketball court.
The familiar big brothers were playing basketball on the court and the battle was fierce. Fang Pingping sat down lightly in the corner and watched carefully.
At the end of the game, everyone wiped their sweat and gasped. They discussed the upcoming domestic men’s basketball league with anticipation.
Ji Tong saw the child and immediately walked toward the backpack hanging on the side.
He took out a brand new child’s basketball uniform from his bag and shook it toward Fang Pingping. “Wear this to play. Then you won’t stain your clothes and you won’t be discovered by your mother.”
Fang Pingping looked at him in a stunned manner, almost unable to believe his eyes.
Ji Tong patted him on the head. “I have a friend who is about the same age as you. He asked me to give it to you.”
Ji Tong was telling the truth.
Last name, he went to tell Fang Hao that he had seen a little boy who looked like him and there was even the same surname.
Fang Hao had long been accustomed to Ji Tong saying this. At first, he dismissed it and said that Fang Pingping was childish. It wasn’t as handsome as Fang Hao.
Later, he heard that Ji Tong say that Fang Pingping always sat alone on the side of the court and couldn’t help asking, “Why?”
Ji Tong said, “I don’t know. I didn’t ask. He only said that his mother wouldn’t let him play basketball out of fear of dirtying his clothes.”
In fact, a lonely childhood usually couldn’t escape from these reasons.
Not-good-enough parents, not-good-enough peers, and the isolation and bullying that came with it.
So Fang Hao transferred a little system currency to Ji Tong and pretended not to care. He said that his hand had slipped and he had already transferred it, so use the money to buy a basketball uniform for Fang Pingping. This way, his mother wouldn’t use dirty clothes as an excuse.
For an elementary school student who was as proud as ever, Ji Tong simply laughed and cried.
But he did so.
Fang Pingping, who kept thanking him happily, changed into the basketball uniform. Pei Qingyuan taught him the basic movements and the other teenagers also enthusiastically demonstrated the movements to him.
Ji Tong switched the phone camera to the front mode and took a selfie with everyone in the background. He stretched out his hand with a smile.
He sent the photo to his system group chat to share his daily life.
[Yinyin: Very eye-catching. Praise.]
[Brother Hao: The uniform is okay. Praise.]
[Brother Hao: But I must say that he doesn’t look like me. I’m much more handsome.]
[Brother Hao: Don’t look at dark skin and glasses and feel that it looks like me, okay?!!]
[Yinyin: Yes. This child obviously isn’t as dark as our Xiao Hei.]
[Brother Hao: ???!!!!]
Ji Tong couldn’t stop laughing.
He secretly passed on this chat to Pei Qingyuan. Pei Qingyuan, was originally teaching the children to play with a serious expression and now he couldn’t help laughing.
After playing ball for a while, everyone sat down to rest and chat. Fang Pingping, who was especially happy today, tentatively joined in.
Among the group of big brothers he didn’t have much contact with, no one showed disgust at his stammering.
“Brother Pei, Brother Ji, will you go to the finals?”
The teenagers knew that the two of them were adults with successful careers who could freely control their lives. They could afford it and could buy tickets to the finals.
Ji Tong nodded. “I will go.”
The domestic men’s basketball league finals, which started a few days later, was an annual basketball event.
This year’s finals were held in this city so everyone in the city who knew how to play basketball was paying attention to the game.
“I’m so envious. My parents originally wanted to take me to see it but they couldn’t manage to grab tickets. It was sold out in seconds.”
“Did you buy the tickets? Or was it given to you? I heard that some places have received free tickets.”
“Alas, we can only watch the live stream in front of the TV…”
Listening to the long sighs of the teenagers in their ears, Ji Tong and Pei Qingyuan looked at each other and felt that it was better not to tell the truth.
Their tickets were indeed not bought. They were gifts.
It was given by a special person.
Fang Pingping also looked at them with envy. “It is so good. You can see it with your own eyes.”
There was a star player in the finals that he admired. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the chance to see it live.
Ji Tong comforted him with a smile. “It is also very good to watch on TV. You can see it more clearly and there is also playback.”
Fang Pingping nodded vigorously. “Yes! I will recognize it and look at it carefully.”
He also wanted to be that basketball star.