Under the shadow of braised fish, the last exam of the first semester of high school ended successfully.
They still had to wait for the grades and papers but the students who were finally relieved had the feeling that a vacation was right around the corner. They discussed how to spend this short and precious winter vacation.
“I must be locked up at home to study. Alas, I guess I can only rest during the two days of New Year’s Eve and the first day of the year. The rest of the time, I must be urged by my parents to study.”
“My mother said that as long as I can get into the top 1,000 in the joint examination, she will take me out for a trip and the whole family will go outside for the new year! The combination of work and rest is also very important. I hope the teacher will show mercy and give me more points.”
“That’s great. I want to go out and play too.”
The students were chatting with each other when someone noticed that Pei Qingyuan seemed distracted in his seat. This person asked, “What about the class monitor? Are you going out to play during the winter vacation? Or are you staying at home?”
Someone immediately said enviously, “I will definitely go out to play. The class monitor’s grades are completely stress free. No matter what, there is a recommendation for Jiangyuan College.”
The results of the recommendation exam were announced a few days ago and Pei Qingyuan was on the list. It could be said that he was already a prospective college student. He was the first student in the 2nd high school in recent years to be eligible to be recommended because he won the 1st prize in the Olympiad. It was said that he even got first in the recommendation exam.
Under normal circumstances, the 2nd High School would definitely hang a banner and publish a newspaper article to publish this happy event. However, the embarrassing thing was that Pei Qingyuan didn’t participate in the Olympiad when he was studying at their school. No matter which school he transferred to, they would’ve picked up him being recommended for free.
In addition, Pei Qingyuan planned to take the college entrance examination as usual and there was a possibility of him giving up the guaranteed quota. The school leaders considered his right to choose and didn’t do any publicity.
Of course, it was still necessary to announce the good news within the school. There was an incentive for students in every year.
There used to be no outstanding students in the 2nd High School. Everyone knew that this was an ordinary, second-rate high school that wasn’t too good or too bad. Now there was one, right next to everyone and not too far away. He didn’t seem to have three heads and six arms, nor was he a rare genius. He listened to lectures in class like everyone else and would chat with classmates normally. After class, he would go to the basketball team for training. So wasn’t it possible that the next such student would appear?
If possible, would it be you or me?
When hope appeared around the corner, the projected light could unknowingly illuminate everyone.
In this subtle change of the school atmosphere, the leaders and teachers of the 2nd High School were enjoying the spring breeze every day. The only thing they worried about was the problem of issuing Pei Qingyuan a few scholarships.
After all, outstanding qualities such as excellent grades, special contributions to the school and helping out others… he alone accounted for all these different reward items.
During the time when classmates came up to talk to him, Pei Qingyuan was listening to Ji Tong in his head excitedly reading to him a hundred ways to fish.
He subconsciously wanted to reply ‘study how to cook fish at home.’ Fortunately, he held back.
“I’m not sure what I will do,” Pei Qingyuan replied. “I probably won’t be going out to travel.”
He wanted to take Ji Tong out to play and see different sceneries, but Ji Tong’s current body was too young. In order to create a mysterious rich father character who couldn’t be checked, no legal identity was created. However, not having an ID was inconvenient in many ways and it wasn’t suitable for traveling far away.
Pei Qingyuan planned to wait for the summer vacation after the college entrance examination to plan a trip. Ji Tong would already be an adult. Then he would quietly generate a legal identity and the two of them could appear in front of others like ordinary people, rather than him wearing a watch with a mechanical voice or holding a cat who couldn’t speak.
But when it came to the new year, Pei Qingyuan’s feelings about it were actually very complicated.
Once upon a time in the Pei family, it was Pei Huaishan who called his two sides and other relatives of the side branches. The whole family would go to the old house to celebrate the new year together and it was quite a warm atmosphere.
Later, Pei Minghong’s business became more and more successful and he no longer relied on Pei Huaishan’s help. His temperament became more and more unruly. Not only did the contradictions between father and son gradually grow but he also had a lot of discord with his younger brother, Pei Siyou.
After Pei Siyou became an adult, he went abroad to engage in art and stayed there for over ten years, only occasionally coming back to visit his father. This year, Pei Huaishan went abroad to recuperate. Half of it was actually due to anger with his older son and his younger son simply invited him over to relax.
After Pei Minghong became unwilling to go back to the old house, many of the new years that Pei Qingyuan experienced were spent at seemingly gorgeous and lively banquets.
They obviously weren’t real new year celebrations.
“How do you want to celebrate the new year?” He asked Ji Tong in his heart.
Ji Tong thought for a while. “The new year must be lively. There are now three people and a cat in the family but it is still too monotonous. Do you feel that something is missing?”
He wanted to try to persuade the host to invite Fu Yinyin to celebrate the new year together.
Pei Qingyuan was very cooperative. “What is missing?”
Ji Tong said seriously, “There is a lack of a gentle and powerful feminine air.”
Pei Qingyuan was silent for a while when he heard this. Suddenly, he said in a hesitant tone, “So… are you or Fang Hao going to become a girl?”
He also remembered Ji Tong saying that the system could switch the gender of voice and the appearance at will.
Ji Tong: “……”
He couldn’t imagine that there would be a day when he choked on the host’s words.
“I didn’t mean that!” Ji Tong forced himself to stop imagining Fang Hao. “Xiao Hao and I have another system friend and her common form is a very attractive and intellectual sister. If the host agrees, we want to invite her to come and play.”
Pei Qingyuan could hear his admiration for this system sister from his tone. “Do you like her very much?”
“Yes!” Ji Tong replied without hesitation. “She is the most powerful system I have ever seen. She knows everything and I have learned a lot from her.”
Pei Qingyuan didn’t refuse. “Okay.”
He would meet another one of Ji Tong’s friends.
This friend sounded different from Fang Hao’s childish personality. She should be much more mature and her qualifications as a system seemed deeper.
If possible, he wanted to learn more about systems from this powerful system.
Or rather, it was things related to Ji Tong.
Pei Qingyuan didn’t know why he had this thought.
Maybe it was curiosity about a friend.
He answered himself like this.
Hearing the host agree, Ji Tong cheered and immediately brought up the chat interface to announce the good news to Fang Hao and Fu Yinyin.
Fu Yinyin’s host was still hiding from scumbags recently and there was no plot to go through for the time being. Every day was a daily routine and the system basically wasn’t used. This way, Fu Yinyin could take a few days off to play.
After the excited discussion in the chat group, it was finally decided to let Fu Yinyin come over on the 29th day of the last month of the year. Then she would leave with Fang Hao, whose host was about to finish his retreat, on the 4th day of the new year.
In this regard, the mature and stable intellectual sister Fu Yuyin said, “It has been a long time since I’ve had this feeling of rushing home during the new year holiday. Unfortunately, I can’t carry items when teleporting across the world. Otherwise, I would bring some new year’s goods from another world.” It sounded very cool.
In addition to competing in fishing and collecting recipes for making fish, Ji Tong and Fang Hao had one more hobby: writing schedules on the wall calendar.
The five day calendar grid from the 29th to the third day of the new year had been filled to the brim.
Pei Qingyuan looked at the wall calendar and cautiously questioned the arrangement of going to the amusement park three times in a row in one day.
After the questioning failed, he could only hope the third system he had never met didn’t like to ride roller coasters either.
Next to the roller coaster ride of the amusement park, there was a line of crooked handwriting that said, ‘Let’s go watch the fireworks in the central square.’ Pei Qingyuan froze for a moment before gradually softening.
This must’ve been written by Ji Tong. His handwriting was very distinguishable from Fang Hao’s writing. One was upright and beautiful and the other was flamboyant.
As a real human being, he wasn’t good at actively looking for things that made people feel happy. However, Ji Tong could always do it well.
For the first time, he was looking forward to the Spring Festival.
Before the official winter vacation and as they waited for the results of the joint examination, Pei Qingyuan and the basketball team of the 2nd High School contributed many wonderful matches in the provincial boys’ high school basketball league.
On this bigger stage, the performance of each player on the field would be seen by more people. A high level match would not only determine the outcome of the match and might change the future of some people.
After a certain match, Pei Qingyuan and Fu Chengze both received invitations from scouts to participate in the trial training of regular team clubs.
Scouts usually only paid attention to whether there were excellent seedlings in high school teams that were considered as basketball schools. The level of the 2nd High School wasn’t outstanding in previous years and almost no one paid special attention to the team of such a school. Even the attention of the city league wasn’t high. After all, there were too many cities and the teams were mixed. The really powerful teams would inevitably appear in the provincial and even national leagues.
So when it came to the provincial league, the 2nd High School that played exceptionally well was immediately noticed. The core members of the entire team were obviously Pei Qingyuan and Fu Chengze.
Pei Qingyuan had already confirmed his future major and refused the invitation of the scouts. This was unlike Fu Chengze, who always loved basketball and wanted to become a professional player.
After reaching a consensus with his parents, he agreed to a scout and excitedly called everyone out for dinner.
“I will try my best to pass the trial training and then play well in every game in the future.” Fu Chengze held up the Coke and said passionately. “Maybe one day in the future, you will see my games on the TV.”
Fu Chengze toasted everyone one by one. Once it was Ji Tong’s turn, he deliberately crouched down to clink glasses with him and seriously made an agreement, “If I really do it, remember that you have to come and see me play at that time!”
Ji Tong drank the Coke in the cup and answered him seriously, “I will try my best.”
At that time, he should already be an adult. He could only change his identity and then go to cheer for Fu Chengze.
Everyone was amused by his serious tone that was extremely disproportionate to his appearance. They laughed one after another and Coach Xu even kept rubbing his eyes while laughing.
“Great.” Coach Xu drank Coke with a red face. “I’m really happy.”
He seemed to only say these two sentences today.
Once the gathering was over, Pei Qingyuan and Ji Tong were walking home when Ji Tong asked him, “Ruan Ruan, do you think Fu Chengze can become a professional player in the future?”
“I don’t know,” Pei Qingyuan said. “I hope so.”
Without Ji Tong, he wouldn’t have become friends with Fu Chengze or joined the basketball team. There wouldn’t be the games he participated in later or the small audience member cheering for his brothers every night.
Maybe the 2nd High School would’ve stopped at the city league like previous years or perhaps the potential in his teammates wouldn’t have been fully stimulated.
Sometimes, fate quietly went down another path.
In addition, the beginning of everything was often very inconspicuous.
“What do you want to eat tonight?”
Ji Tong planned to have a sumptuous dinner on the weekend.
“Let’s not eat fish tonight,” Pei Qingyuan suggested. “Isn’t it good to eat lamb chops?”
The winter sun was warm as he led Ji Tong to walk on the familiar road. Unexpectedly, he found that there were many pedestrians on this road. They were holding drink cups in their hands and taking photos with their phones in the other.
Usually when Pei Qingyuan came back from school, it was already 9 o’clock and the stores on both sides of the road were closed. This meant there wasn’t a flow of people.
Ji Tong looked curiously at the cups held by the passersby around him. “They are all from the same brand. It looks delicious.”
He quickly activated the search function. “It is a long-established tong sui (sweet soup) store that has become famous in recent years. The products of the store are very special. They can be sweet, salty, sour, bitter… any taste.”
“This store became a chain store after receiving a capital injection, but there aren’t many stores. Each one is opening slowly and they recently opened their first branch in our province.” Ji Tong was stunned. “It is right in front.”
He walked with Pei Qingyuan to the most crowded place and stopped. On the left was the quaintly decorated tong sui store and on the right was Xingyue Bakery that the two of them were familiar with.
There were long lines at the tong sui store and there was also no room at the entrance of the bakery. Pastries and drinks were a natural combination.
Through the glass window, they could see He Shiwen being busy in the store while sweating profusely.
After finally taking a break to catch his breath, he caught a glimpse of two figures, one big and one small, outside the store. He quickly got up and walked out.
“Xiao Pei, Tong Tong!” He greeted them. “Are you coming out to play on the weekend?”
Ji Tong’s expression was a bit dumbfounded. Pei Qingyuan reacted first and replied, “Uncle He.”
“Hey! Come in and suit?” He looked back and scratched his head in annoyance. “However, there are too many people. It might be crowded.”
“Have you been busy with business lately?” Pei Qingyuan asked him.
“Yes, ever since this store opened next to me, every day…” He laughed. “It is just like with the croissants. I didn’t expect to be so lucky to benefit without doing anything.”
Speaking of this, He Shiwen took a few steps closer and said in a low voice, “Besides, their store even approached me, saying that the pastries in my store tastes good and they want to cooperate to develop pastries. I have been hesitating about it these days. They seem to be very down-to-earth, kind people who aren’t in it purely to make quick money. I’m not worried about being deceived. I’m just curious. How can so many good things happen to me…”
He Shiwen babbled for a while before finally saying, “By the way, it is the new year soon. I don’t have anything else to do here. I’ll get you some snack boxes and gift boxes. They were very beautiful and you can take them to give away. Wait for me here.”
Seeing He Shiwen hurriedly enter the store to pack up the gifts, Ji Tong’s mind finally returned and he pulled at the corner of the host’s clothes. “Is it Grandpa?”
“I guess so.”
Ji Tong stared at the bustling crows on both sides along with the host and couldn’t help laughing. “Uncle He is a good person and Grandpa is as well.”
“Yes.” Pei Qingyuan remembered Ji Tong’s curious eyes just now, so he looked at the signs of the tong sui store next door and asked softly, “What flavor do you want to drink?”
Ji Tong said decisively, “Of course, I want them all!”