Pei Qingyuan was obviously stunned for a moment. “The parent-teacher meeting?”
After the results of this monthly examination, a parent-teacher meeting would be held for the third years. Teachers needed to communicate with parents about the students’ learning in a timely manner.
Due to Pei Qingyuan’s special family situation, Zhou Fang had already communicated with him in private and took the initiative to say that she couldn’t call Luo Xiuyun to come over to prevent a negative effect. This meant he didn’t have to worry about the parent-teacher meeting.
After all, with his grades, there was really nothing to worry about. It didn’t matter if his parents came or not.
The only thing was that the parents of all the students in the class would come only for Pei Qingyuan’s parents to be absent. There might be some rumors. Zhou Fang could explain that his parents were too busy with work and took leave but there had been a lot of discussion about this incident. It was beyond Zhou Fang’s control how other parents would make up their minds about the child-switching turmoil.
Pei Qingyuan had never taken this matter to heart. When he heard Ji Tong take the initiative to mention it, he was surprised and couldn’t help being a bit curious.
“How are you going to do the parent-teacher meeting for me?”
Ji Tong couldn’t become an adult for the time being and it was impossible for a child to attend parent-teacher meetings.
Ji Tong, who had turned his hair into a chicken’s nest, sat obediently on the sink. He let the host carefully comb his hair while pondering on it, “Voice acting?”
He missed playing President Ji who had a magnetic voice.
The host’s parents weren’t able to attend in person but someone specifically called to care about his studies and life. At the very least, it would make other parents feel that the host was valued.
Pei Qingyuan immediately remembered the recording he heard last time.
There were also the photos that Ji Tong took out to show him with great interest.
He thought of the fictional image of the man and frowned slightly, subconsciously saying, “No need.”
Unexpectedly, the host refused so simply. Ji Tong pouted but was too embarrassed to persuade him again. “Okay.”
Soon, it was quiet again. Ji Tong looked at himself in the mirror in a melancholy manner, mourning the passing of an opportunity to pretend to be cool. Behind him, the host lowered his eyes. His good-looking side profile was embellished with a neat arc of sunlight.
Soon, Pei Qingyuan finally straightened Ji Tong’s hair for him and asked in a low voice, “Are you disappointed?”
“No,” Ji Tong cheered up. “Host, wash up quickly or you will be late for school.”
It was okay if he missed it this time. There would be a next time.
President Ji would never admit defeat!
He stepped on the small stool, returned the space to the host and ran out of the bathroom with a bottle of wax. He decided to try his hand with Hua Hua’s fur first.
Pei Qingyuan looked at his back as he left. He looked back at himself in the mirror and paused for a long time before opening the tap and starting to wash as usual.
Cool water ran down his cheeks. There was the meowing of a cat from the living room and the melodious singing of birds flying past the window.
He vaguely thought that perhaps this was growing pains.
The new week began, the big and small activities came to an end and calm returned to the school.
The results of the monthly examination were announced on Wednesday. Just as Zhou Fang expected, the results of the third class had indeed improved a lot over time. The overall score ranking was higher than that of the last monthly examination and was almost among the ranks of the key classes.
The teachers still mentioned the third class to other classes. This time, they praised Pei Qingyuan, who was once again first in the year, but they also focused on the entire class. It was because everyone’s grades had basically improved.
The third class of high school had once again become the focus of the entire year, making the other classes talk about it. But this time, everyone wasn’t only stained with the light of the number one on the year. They had become the light itself.
Zhou Fang was in high spirits and everyone in the class was happy. They were happy to be rewarded after their efforts. They were even more grateful to the person who made everything start to change.
In the past few days, Pei Qingyuan was surrounded by enthusiastic gazes almost all the time despite sitting in the back row. He couldn’t count how many times he heard ‘Thank you, class monitor.’
There were also fancy brain supplements for various poses.
“Class monitor, I’m sorry that we treated you like that when you first transferred in. You were still so tolerant and generous, answering everyone’s questions.”
“I remember the class monitor saying that day that he would live up to everyone’s expectations. We were actually expecting bad things but you fulfilled your promise in the completely opposite direction. Sorry, class monitor and thank you!”
“Class monitor, not only did you help the students in the class but you also enthusiastically helped other students you didn’t know when you went to other schools to communicate. The seventh class spread the word!”
Under the constant brain supplement offensive led by Lin Zihai and the class, sometimes even Ji Tong and Pei Qingyuan would be in a trance.
“Ruan Ruan, do you really think so?”
One person and one watch looked at each other blankly and gradually gave up struggling.
Originally, the parent-teacher conference was to be held on a Friday. Then considering that it was cruel to hold it before the weekend, the parents graciously postponed it to the following Monday at the suggestion of some teachers.
That weekend, Pei Qingyuan went to the bakery as usual. This was his last time coming to work part-time. He had explained his situation to He Shiwen. He couldn’t be distracted by work after this. He had to concentrate on preparing for the college entrance examination.
He Shiwen was relieved to learn he no longer needed to work to support himself for the time being. He was gratified but he was also reluctant to part.
“Once Xing Xing knows you aren’t coming, it is estimated that she will cry.”
He Shiwen remembered his daughter, who always stared at Pei Qingyuan like a sunflower, and shook his head with a smile. Then he instructed, “In the future, you are free to come in and sit when passing by the store. Take whatever you want and don’t be polite with me.”
“Also, if you can’t solve anything by yourself then remember to tell me. I’ve been here for 40 years. If I can’t solve it then I’ll go find someone else…”
Pei Qingyuan listened to him patiently and answered softly.
Once it was almost time to leave work, Ji Tong came to Pei Qingyuan on time ‘after school.’ On the eve of parting, He Shiwen looked at the two children who were becoming increasingly familiar to him and took off his glasses sadly, wiping them.
On the wall behind the cash register, there was still the photo of Ji Tong eating bread.
“By the way, while the apron hasn’t been taken off, I will take another photo of the two of you. Xiao Pei didn’t show his face in the previous photo. I’ll take a formal photo and hang it up as a souvenir.”
Ji Tong readily agreed. He pulled the host to smile at the camera and made scissor hands.
Just at this time, a special customer came to the store.
The wind chimes at the door sounded. Pei Qingyuan was looking at the camera while Ji Tong was still making the scissor hands. He Shiwen pressed the shutter and looked back reflexively to say loudly, “Welcome.”
The old man who walked in had gray hair and wore a pair of reading glasses. He wore ordinary clothes and had a kind appearance.
Ji Tong’s eyes widened. He Shiwen felt that this guest was familiar and suddenly said, “You ordered a cake last time and said that you would give it to…”
Before his words could end, Pei Qingyuan spoke from behind him. “Grandpa.”
Therefore, He Shiwen’s eyes also widened like Ji Tong.
Pei Huaishan was a bit apprehensive at first. Then his tense expression relaxed when he heard this ‘Grandpa’ that was no different from the past.
“Hey.” He looked carefully at Pei Qingyuan, whom he hadn’t seen for a long time. His kind smile spread the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. “Qingyuan has grown taller.”
On the side, Ji Tong heard this and quietly put away his scissor hands, looking up at the host.
He thought the host must be happy.
At the very least, he was happy.
It was because a second person found that the host had grown taller.
He Shiwen immediately asked Pei Huaishan to sit down. He also quickly pulled Pei Qingyuan out from behind the cash register. He brought over water cups and snacks to let the two of them have a good chat.
Ji Tong sat on the third chair and quietly listened to the host talk to his grandfather.
“Have you been well?”
“It isn’t a big problem. Once you are this old, no matter how much you take care of your body, you can only treat the symptoms and not the root cause.” Pei Huaishan waved his hand and sighed. “I shouldn’t have gone to Siyou’s place. If only I hadn’t gone on break. How could I think that the kid Minghong would be so daring and hid this from me…”
“Your body is important and I am doing well here.” Pei Qingyuan didn’t let him continue to blame himself. He took the initiative to change the topic. “The birthday cake was delicious. Thank you, Grandpa.”
The moment he said that the cake was delicious, Ji Tong nodded approvingly as if he was testifying.
Pei Huaishan was amused. “Is this a new acquaintance? He is so cute.”
“Yes, I’m working as a tutor for him now,” Pei Qingyuan said. “His family is very busy and he often stays with me on weekends. Sometimes, he lives with me.”
“It is good to have a companion.” Pei Huaishan sighed emotionally. “Are you used to it after moving out and living by yourself? Are there any difficulties?”
Pei Qingyuan had moved out for a month and Pei Huaishan knew about it some time ago. He had long wanted to come over but there were the basketball games and then the exchange with another school. He couldn’t find the right opportunity.
He didn’t want to rush to school or the house Pei Qingyuan rented. Thinking about it, the bakery was the most suitable.
Pei Qingyuan shook his head. “There is no difficulty. Everything is good.”
Ji Tong was very active in helping the host say, “My brother can cook by himself. It is delicious!”
“Really?” Pei Huaishan was surprised. “What can you make?”
“Anything!” Ji Tong was proud. “There are photos on Brother’s phone. I took them. Grandpa, do you want to take a look?”
Pei Huaishan couldn’t wait and said, “I want to take a look.”
Pei Qingyuan had no choice but to hand over his phone. He watched the old man and child gather together in front of the screen.
“This one looks very good. It is even more powerful than the dishes served in big restaurants.”
Pei Huaishan held his glasses and squinted to look very carefully. Meanwhile, Ji Tong seriously added from beside him. “The taste is also very good! I ate two bowls of rice that day.”
“You have such a good appetite. How big are the bowls? I remember that when Qingyuan was a child, he only ate half a bowl of rice. He was a bit of a picky eater.” Pei Huaishan laughed. “By the way, little friend. What is your name?”
Seeing the two of them chatting excitedly, Pei Qingyuan listened patiently and a smile flashed in his eyes.
He Shiwen saw this happy scene while greeting the guests and secretly turned on the camera.
A few minutes later, Pei Huaishan had already called him Tong Tong and he and Ji Tong were like grandfather and grandson.
Pei Huaishan finished looking at the dishes that Pei Qingyuan learned and felt half sad and half happy. He asked a lot of details about Pei Qingyuan’s life before saying as usual, “I inquired about it. I heard that your school is going to hold a parent-teacher meeting. Do you need me to go?”
Pei Huaishan laughed. “Speaking of which, you have grown so big. I haven’t held a parent-teacher meeting for you once. Is it Grandpa’s turn this time?”
It wasn’t until this moment that Pei Qingyuan finally understood his grandfather’s intentions.
Pei Huaishan knew that he didn’t have any ‘parents’ in the true sense now, so Pei Huaishan wanted to come.
There was no blood bond between them but there was always something that had never changed.
He froze for a moment and many complicated and difficult emotions flowed from the bottom of his heart. Before the emotionally driven ‘okay’ could be blurted out, he finally suppressed it with his sense of reason.
If someone recognized Pei Huaishan, they might interpret his behavior into countless complex meanings and even plunge Pei Huaishan into family disputes.
In this fragrant bakery, there was the grandfather he had reunited with after a long time and who wanted to attend the parent-teacher meeting for his grandson.
But in another absurd and brilliant world, behind this could mean an intricate struggle for money, status and power.
“Grandpa, there is no need,” Pei Qingyuan said softly. “I have found another elder to help me.”
He glanced at Ji Tong and he instantly understood. Ji Tong cooperated with him. “My father will go. Even if there is something temporary and he can’t go, he will call Brother’s head teacher!”
Pei Huaishan was slightly surprised. “Your father?”
“Yes!” Ji Tong turned on nonsense mode. “My father is amazing!”
Pei Huaishan asked curiously, “How amazing is he? Can you tell me?”
“Let me think about it. My dad is very tall and handsome.” Ji Tong flexibly used the tone of a three year old child. “He has a lot of money and can do anything. He might be busy every day and flies around, but Dad is great. He has helped many people…”
Pei Huaishan laughed when he heard it but he didn’t take it to heart. He saw Pei Qingyuan’s faintly strange expression and couldn’t help teasing him, “Don’t laugh at Tong Tong. You also said this about your father when you were his age.”
“Minghong was in the company every day so you didn’t see him often. Sometimes when I came to see you, you would ask me if your father was doing something particularly important and great. I guessed that what you really wanted to ask at the time was if Dad went to save the world, just like Superman on TV.”
Pei Qingyuan obviously didn’t remember what his two or three year old self said. His face was stunned when he heard this and he seemed a bit overwhelmed. Next to him, Ji Tong listened with pleasure. It turned out the host was also naive when he was a child.
Looking at his smiling face, Pei Qingyuan was silent for a while.
He didn’t feel that Pei Huaishan’s mention of the past was stinging or offensive to him. He just felt that there were long-ago yellowed memories passing through his heart, which was abrupt.
Children who couldn’t see their parents would always try to beautify that vague image. They imagined them gradually growing tall, so tall that their neglect became an inevitable and irreproachable choice. This would allow the child to wait with peace of mind.
Was the fictional character in Ji Tong’s mouth his imagination of the image of a human father?
He suddenly stopped being so resistant to ‘Ji Yanxing.’
At the mention of Pei Minghong, Pei Qingyuan said in a calm tone, “If your physical condition allows it, perhaps you can pay more attention to the situation of his company. I have always felt that many of his decisions are too radical.”
Last time, Ji Tong discovered Pei Qingyuan’s dangerous business operations. Pei Qingyuan realized that the Pei family might face a crisis in the future. He wouldn’t care if it was Pei Minghong but Pei Huaishan was different. He couldn’t hide it completely.
Hearing him say this, Pei Huaishan laughed in a deprecating manner. “It turns out that you can also see it… it is a pity that everyone has their own lives and others can’t interfere.”
“Half of destiny is due to fate. The remaining half comes from the person himself.”
He spoke in a heavy tone and stared at his former grandson quite solemnly.
“You aren’t like him. You are a good boy.” Pei Huaishan sighed in a low voice. “It is others who are sorry to you.”
Dusk outside the window was thick and the atmosphere gradually fell silent.
Before the kind-looking old man left, He Shiwen rushed back after running next door to print photos.
He held a paper envelope and handed it to Pei Qingyuan.
“I took a sneak shot just now. I hope you don’t mind.” He Shiwen scratched his head. “I won’t keep these ones. I printed three in total and all of them are here. I think you should like it.”
Pei Qingyuan opened the paper envelope and saw three identical photos.
In the center of the photo was a round table in the bakery with warm tones. An old man with white hair and a child were gathered at the table, talking in a lively manner. The glass window on the side reflected the shining scenery outside and a flowing light fell.
Meanwhile, he sat at the other end of the round table and watched them quietly, his eyes exceptionally bright.