At night, the school building was brightly lit. Noisy sounds were coming from everywhere.
In the classroom of the third class of the third year of high school, parents walked in one after another. They found their children’s seats according to the names of the booklets placed on the desk and sat down.
It wasn’t yet time for the official start. The homeroom teacher Zhou Fang was in the office to do a final sorting of the materials to be used. Since the teacher wasn’t coming, some parents familiar with each other started chatting casually. Other parents sat by themselves while looking at their phones.
“Xiao Hai has advanced a few places in the year this time. It is really worthy of being a study committee member. If only my child had this brain.”
“He has been working so hard recently that he doesn’t even play on his phone. He said that he is doing average in a few subjects and the first place in the class this time is very powerful. Every subject is close to a full score. Xiao Hai admires him very much.”
“Oh, I heard that too. He is the class monitor and the first in the year. He seems to be a transfer student, right? He only came this semester. I don’t know if the parents of this student have come. I really want to ask for advice.”
“Not yet. I heard Xiao Hai say that he sits in the last row and that seat is still empty. You can’t even imagine. Every week, he comes back and talks to me, telling me that this student is always helping him solve wrong questions and taking special care of him. He is so excited. I remember that when this student first transferred, he still hated this person and complained that he wasn’t as good as the previous class monitor. The child has grown up quickly!”
“Hahaha, the one in my family is the same. A while ago, he was very reluctant to mention what happened in school to me. He would put on a straight face whenever I asked him about it. Then ever since the first in the year came out, he has to report to me one by one even if the second in the year wanders around outside the class…”
Lin Zihai’s mother and another classmate’s mother were chatting happily. A middle-aged male parent next to them heard their conversation and couldn’t help interjecting. “Are you talking about Student Pei?”
“His parents shouldn’t be here today so you probably won’t hear about their experience.”
“Haven’t you heard? I think this matter has already spread. He and the original class monitor of the third class who transferred away are two children who were switched…”
The father’s face turned red and spit flew as he talked about gossip excitedly.
The two mothers were stunned when they heard this. They looked at each other and couldn’t help saying, “These two children are pitiful.”
“It is very unlucky to come back here after being in a rich family. Who told him to try and rise up? His adoptive mother definitely won’t come and I guess his own mother won’t come. How embarrassing. Last time, she came to the parent-teacher meeting for another son. I think this seat will probably be empty all night—”
He said it was unlucky but his tone was full of glee. No regret could be seen at all.
It was just that as he spoke, he suddenly noticed that the expressions of the two mothers in front of him changed. They looked over the top of his head with thinning hair and stared straight out the window.
It wasn’t just them. The entire classroom suddenly fell silent, as if an invisible hand had pressed the pause button.
An inexplicable chill rose from behind the middle-aged man. He froze and involuntarily looked back.
In the corridor submerged in the night, the man’s handsome side profile was clearly outlined by the lights. He glanced indifferently into the classroom. The father happened to meet his gaze and was startled, causing him to hurriedly look away.
In the sudden silence, he stood at the door of the third class and walked into the classroom. All the parents present were stunned and no one dared to speak. The sound of breathing instinctively lightened.
This appearance and aura were really impossible to ignore. It didn’t look like he came to hold a parent-teacher meeting at all. They seemed to have accidentally strayed into a board of directors meeting held by a large company.
Once the man entered the classroom, his eyes first fell on the empty seat in the last row. As he walked toward Pei Qingyuan’s seat, he happened to pass by Lin Zihai’s desk.
He stopped, looked at the middle-aged woman who was obviously very nervous and asked in a rather kind tone, “Are you Lin Zihai’s mother?”
“Ah! I am, I am.” At this rather elegant and magnetic voice, Lin Zihai’s mother stood up while feeling at a loss, reflexively using honorifics. “You are?”
“I’m Qingyuan’s uncle,” the man said with a smile. “I heard him mention your son. I want to thank Xiao Hai for taking care of him.
Under the impact of the close-up beauty that was many times more handsome than idol stars on TV, Lin Zihai’s mother hesitated for a long time before saying incoherently, “It turns out to be the parent of Student Pei! You are welcome. Don’t be polite. It is clear that Xiao Bai has improved a lot with the help of Student Pei…”
Then she instinctively glanced at the man next to her.
The middle-aged man who was talking nonsense just now had shrinking shoulders and lowered his head, not daring to say a word.
After a brief exchange of pleasantries with Lin Zihai’s mother, the man went straight to Pei Qingyuan’s seat and sat down.
Once he spoke, the strange silence in the classroom was broken. The parents started chatting again, but their voices were much lower and their originally lazy posture was mostly put away. Many parents inexplicably straightened their backs as they sat down.
They didn’t know why but in front of this indescribable aura, it felt humiliating to be hunched over.
Meanwhile, Lin Zihai’s mother and another mother who had close contact with Pei Qingyuan’s uncle stared at each other in a trance for a long time before their minds returned.
“So this is Student Pei’s uncle…” The mother next to him whispered in an embarrassed manner. “He is so handsome, more handsome than a star.”
“Now I understand why Xiao Hai has become so fanatical,” Lin Zihai’s mother sighed. “Uncle has an outstanding temperament and good cultivation. Student Pei must be a very outstanding person.”
The middle-aged man next to him heard her deliberately emphasize the words ‘good cultivation’ and was silent.
The moment the parent-teacher meeting was about to officially start, Zhou Fang came to the door of the third class with a stack of materials and almost didn’t dare come in. She deliberately glanced up at the sign on the wall to make sure she had gone to the right place.
…Why was the atmosphere so solemn?
Then her eyes widened when she saw Ji Yanxing sitting on Pei Qingyuan’s seat.
She had been ready to use the excuse of being busy with work to explain the absence of his parents.
Zhou Fang took advantage of when she handed out the information to the parents to walk to Ji Yanxing’s side and ask him a question. Then she learned that he was Pei Qingyuan’s uncle surnamed Ji.
Zhou Fang immediately thought of Ji Tong, whom she had just seen at the sports meeting a few days ago.
Thinking about it carefully, the eyes of the two of them were indeed somewhat similar.
She remembered that Ji Tong’s family conditions were very good, but his father was very busy and was often gone. This meant he frequently stayed with his tutor Pei Qingyuan. She hadn’t expected that Ji Tong’s father would help attend the parent-teacher meeting today for Pei Qingyuan.
Even an employer uncle who wasn’t related by blood had this heart.
Zhou Fang had mixed feelings in her heart. Then she controlled her mind and prepared to emphasize Pei Qingyuan’s drive and help toward the students of the third class in her speech.
“Good evening, parents. I am Zhou Fang, the homeroom teacher of the third class of the third year…”
Once she really started to introduce the overall situation of her class to her parents, she felt a trace of apprehension.
…Every time she glanced at Ji Yanxing, who was silent but had a strong sense of existence, she had the illusion that she wasn’t analyzing their children’s achievements for their parents but reporting to a boss who owned a big business that made tens of millions per minute.
Zhou Fang was nervous but she felt that she definitely wasn’t the only one who was nervous.
Under the rendering of some type of wonderful magnetic field, the entire third class looked out of place with the atmosphere of other classes. Almost all the parents sat upright. They looked at the class teacher and the blackboard in front of them with extra seriousness. No one dared to be distracted.
Occasionally, students who were idle passed by outside and watched the liveliness, but they would slow down and hold their breaths when they passed by the third class.
The school leaders who came to inspect the parent-teacher meeting stared from the corridor for a long time and were even more appreciative.
“The progress of the third class of the senior year is very obvious. It isn’t just the students who are working hard. Even the parents are very attentive. The atmosphere of the parent-teacher meeting of the third class is the best. I have never seen such a focused, solemn and cohesive parent meeting atmosphere…”
Despite the eyes of the people watching, whether intentional or unintentional, Ji Yanxing sat at the back of the classroom and always stared forward indifferently. He occasionally picked up a pen to record something in his notebook.
However, it was a different landscape in places where other people couldn’t see.
The Gundam Fang Hao was excited. “This is the first time I’ve ever thought a parents’ meeting was so interesting!”
The pilot Ji Tong was playing back the video. “Look at the arc of my smile just now. It is just right! It is 30% elegance, 30% warmth and 30% distance!”
“Yes yes, handsome!” Fang Hao supported the field cooperatively. Suddenly, he paused and became alert. “Did you find it?”
“I found it. It has been tracked and analyzed and doesn’t pose a threat.” Ji Tong’s voice carried President Ji’s elegant mockery. “A clever person becomes the victim of their own cleverness.”
Outside the back door, in a place where the parents in the classroom shouldn’t notice, an ordinary looking man lowered his head and quickly sent a message.
[The target has been found at the parent-teacher meeting. The photo is below. No identifying information has been found for the time being.]
At the same time, the other side of the city.
In the beautifully lit banquet hall, a group of laughing and well-dressed women were chatting happily. They were accompanied by a few people of the young generation.
“Is Elert’s latest recovered painting going up for auction next month?”
“I remember, yes. Manning, are you determined to have it?”
“There is no way. My husband insisted on winning it and giving it to me. In any case, I can’t see how it suits me…”
In the midst of the conversation and laughter, a slight vibration came from Ye Lanting’s handbag. She immediately turned sideways and using the cover of her son beside him, she avoided the eyes of the talking women to open her handbag and take out her phone.
Pei Yan noticed his mother’s movements. He listened to this group of noble ladies talk about oil paintings and was bored. This caused him to look over curiously and he saw the sudden panic on Ye Lanting’s face.
The intense emotion flashed by quickly and she soon recovered the smile that showed no abnormalities. No one else noticed this scene.
Pei Yan almost thought he was hallucinating.
Ye Lanting shifted her gaze back and smiled gently at her friends, saying apologetically, “I have to leave for a moment to take a call.”
No one felt anything abnormal. Pei Yan was the only one who could see a rare panic from the back of his leaving mother.
He didn’t know what was going on and he wasn’t sure if he was delusional.
His mother’s back disappeared from view and Pei Yan withdrew his gaze in a slightly blank manner. He maintained his habitual silence before hurriedly meeting the smiling gazes of the women.
“Xiao Yan is always so quiet. Is it because your mother is here that you don’t dare to speak?”
The beautiful woman with bright red nails spoke like she had caught interesting prey. “Young people should be cheerful.”
“Xiao Yan, do you like that painting by Elert? It is called ‘Country Girl’ and it is said to be the most valuable of his paintings. The painter who became famous after his death has few works and it really makes collectors feel mixed emotions…”
Pei Yan was caught off guard after suddenly becoming the focus of everyone’s attention and the center of the topic.
He wasn’t interested in oil paintings. He didn’t care about how a once unknown painter was rediscovered and became popular, let alone what ‘A Country Girl’ looked like.
But he forced himself to remain calm. He tried to show an approving smile and pick an answer that couldn’t be wrong. “…I think she is beautiful.”
“Really?” The women looked at each other and couldn’t help laughing. “The scenery is quite beautiful but I don’t know where the girl is hiding. Elert is really strange. How can a landscape painting be named A Country Girl?”
The light words landed and Pei Yan’s chest was filled with an almost groundless emotion. It swelled up and made sweat drip down his back. A deep hole was created at the bottom of his heart that wanted to make all the surrounding sounds disappear.
He opened his mouth in an attempt to add something more, trying to save his small and pathetic self-esteem. He was feeling in a hurry when a warm voice sounded at just the right time.
“It was the period of the Industrial Revolution and some people were nostalgic for the pastoral life in the country,” the young man with a gentle and elegant temperament said in a tone that wasn’t imaginable at all. “There are still ruins of the countryside that can be imagined but the phantom of the country girl can only appear in the viewer’s heart.”
“The quiet life goes by and the carefree girl is gone. Only the tireless and never-ending machine remains.” He glanced at Pei Yan and his words were faintly affirmative. “At that time, the world in the eyes of the painting overlapped with the world we see now. It is indeed beautiful.”
He finished speaking and someone immediately showed a surprised smile. “I knew it was Wenbai when I heard the first words. You spoke really well just now. Oh, I had been looking for you all over the place…”
Zhuang Wenbai said apologetically, “I heard people talking about Elert. I also like him very much so I interjected rudely. I’m sorry.”
“No need. I didn’t know there was this background behind the painting. Thanks to your explanation, it seems that my husband still has some vision.”
Zhuang Wenbai laughed. “Uncle Yang has a good eye. The girl here is a beautiful image that transcends the world. It fits you very well in his eyes.”
“Tsk tsk, I didn’t expect Lao Yang to still have such a hand. Manning, you are really lucky.”
“Come on, don’t say that to his face. His tail will soar into the air again.”
After Zhuang Wenbai arrived, the atmosphere of the group of people was much more intimate than before.
The subtle teasing and embarrassment disappeared imperceptibly.
Pei Yan took advantage of the gap in other people’s conversations to whisper to the person beside him, “Thank you, President.”
He often saw Zhuang Wenbai, the president of the student union at school and knew that the other person had a rather prominent family background. However, there was basically no private communication. He never thought that Zhuang Wenbai would help him out today.
Zhuang Wenbai glanced at him and said casually, “You don’t know that painting, right?”
Pei Yan was stunned and his fingers clenched. Then after a moment of hesitation, he nodded shamefully.
“Then you should take a look.”
To his surprise, Zhuang Wenbai’s next sentence was particularly gentle, as if recalling the beautiful moment condensed on the canvas. The smile on his handsome face was cordial and sincere.
“You will like it.”
The misty moonlight outside the window dispersed like fog in the night.
Under the starry sky, Pei Qingyuan, Fu Chengze and the others walked to the school gate together.
The high school seniors of the basketball team were all absent-minded tonight. Coach Xu understood this very well and relaxed the requirements. He just let them play for a while as they brainstormed about the situation in the teaching building not far away.
Originally, Fu Chengze wanted to drag Pei Qingyuan to wander around outside the classroom to explore the situation. However, Pei Qingyuan refused and he sighed in disappointment for a long time.
The basketball training and parent-teacher meeting ended at about the same time. Now they were heading to the school gates and could probably encounter their parents.
“I improved from last in my class to bottom three this time.” Fu Chengze looked anxious. “Brother Pei, tell me, will my Dad praise me? I haven’t been praised for my grades since I graduated from elementary school.”
Pei Qingyuan was silent for a moment before trying his best to encourage the other person. “Yes.”
As they passed by the third year teaching building, many parents came out. This made Fu Chengze look forward to it while not daring to look forward to it. He circled around Pei Qingyuan.
“Brother Pei, you haven’t said very much today. Are you also nervous?” He murmured. “It isn’t possible. Your grades are so good. By the way, who will attend the parent-teacher meeting for you today?”
Pei Qingyuan was about to answer when he heard the other person exclaim with a shocked face, “F*k, it’s Tong Tong’s father!”
The figure in a black suit not far away was quite eye-catching. Most of the people passing by him maintained a silence where they didn’t dare to breathe. Even so, they couldn’t help secretly glancing at the other person.
Pei Qingyuan frowned slightly when he saw that Fu Chengze quickly recognized the other person. “Do you know him?”
“Tong Tong showed me a photo. I said at the time that it must be photoshopped. I didn’t expect the real person to be more exaggerated,” Fu Chengze replied casually. “In the future, I will also wear a suit like this. It is too handsome!”
Then he enthusiastically ran toward Ji Yanxing, completely ignoring his own father who was waving to him from the other side.
“Uncle Ji! I’m a good friend of Tong Tong!”
Pei Qingyuan: “……”
He had expected it in his heart but he was still taken aback for a moment.
He always thought that Ji Tong would just make a call to the teacher. After all, Ji Tong couldn’t directly become an adult now. He didn’t expect to see the living ‘Ji Yanxing.’
So who was this ‘Ji Yanxing’ who looked no different from ordinary people?
Ji Tong was happy as he listened to Fu Chengze calling him Uncle Ji respectfully. He recorded it as a precious souvenir.
He noticed the appearance of the host he had been away from for a day and gently nodded to the high school student walking over here. He had the demeanor of a big shot.
He had never been so cool in front of the host.
Fang Hao, who was obediently being a Gundam, was also excited. “Is this your host? Not bad. He just doesn’t seem to be in a good mood.”
“Maybe he is tired from playing basketball.” Ji Tong explained, “The daily form of the host is expressionless.”
“I think he is observing me closely.” The Gundam was sensitive to the eyes on his handsome shell. “Why does it feel a bit cold?”
“It shouldn’t be? Are you so sensitive to the cold? You are wearing a suit and a shirt…”
“It isn’t that cold. Hey, I can’t explain it clearly.” Fang Hao couldn’t describe it so he didn’t care. Suddenly, he had a thought. “Will your host recognize me as you? I bet with you that he definitely won’t find out that your essence has become me…”
Pei Qingyuan walked to Ji Yanxing and stopped. After a few seconds of silence, his eyes moved away from the perfect face he had seen in the photo and stopped on Ji Yanxing’s wrist.
He looked at the light gold cufflinks embedded in the cuffs of the pure black shirt and said softly, “Ji Tong.”
Fang Hao, “!!!”
“Can your host read minds?” The pupils of the elementary school student shook and he was shocked. “This isn’t scientific. Is this really an ordinary urban world?’
Ji Tong was also surprised. He took advantage of when the eyes of others were blocked by Pei Qingyuan to flash his brilliant cufflinks. It was as if he was greeting the high school student in front of him.
“Good evening, host!” In addition to being surprised, he was inexplicably moved. Therefore, he asked the host curiously in his heart, “How did you find me?”
“You reached out and grabbed the cufflinks in the photo,” Pei Qingyuan replied softly. “I guess you like it very much.”