Yang Chen’s heart ached for Zhenxiu. He didn’t care that his actions had frightened her. All he could focus on was getting her warm again.
Within seconds, her hair and most of her clothing seemed to have dried off. But her face was still pale due to the excessive loss of heat.
A pair of gem-sized eyes blinked at him and with her thin, pinkish lips half opened, her adorable features were a sight for sore eyes.
But Yang Chen was not in the mood to partake of this view. He opened his mouth and said, “Xu Zhenxiu, tell me what happened to you.”
Zhenxiu was stunned. Yang Chen had always been so playful. She was caught off guard when he started speaking in a serious tone.
After a while, she slowly replied, “It was just a prank from a girl in class.”
“A prank?” laughed Yang Chen, livid at the situation. “Have you finally gone crazy from all the studying or do you take me for an idiot?”
Zhenxiu bit her lips, not knowing what to say. She didn’t want him to know anything more than he already knew.
But he knew there were more to the story. He took in a deep breath and asked, “Who’s Jiao Yanyan?”
Her head shot up, her eyes filled with curiosity. “How do you know her?”
“Did you really think I came unaware of anything?” Yang Chen said with resignation lining his words. “You weren’t like this before. Just tell me who was it that bullied you! The Xu Zhenxiu I knew was a pickpocket on the bus. There was no such thing as a situation she couldn’t get out of!
“Look at you now! You let people remove your skirt, pour water all over you and even tie you up in a toilet cubicle! But yet, you can still sit there and tell me this was just a prank? I’ve never heard of anyone’s courage diminishing. Only increasing! And also, you’re keeping things from me. Am I still like a brother to you?”
Zhenxiu dipped her head. “Let’s not talk about the time I was a pickpocket. It was so long ago.”
This is not even the point! thought Yang Chen gloomily.
“Alright. If you don’t want me to talk about it, I won’t. But at least tell me the truth. Otherwise, I’ll tell your Aunt Guo and Sister Ruoxi everything about your past life as a thief. You know how hot their tempers are!”
Zhenxiu’s face paled instantly and she pursed her lips resentfully. “How can you threaten me like this? You’re the one that’s bullying me!”
“Are you going to tell me or not?” Yang Chen was running out of patience as Zhenxiu continued to beat around the bush.
Finally, Zhenxiu caved. She then explained everything in a hushed voice.
So it really was Jiao Yanyan, along with two of her ‘followers’. After school, they forced Zhenxiu to follow them into the toilet to ‘negotiate’ a deal. Once she entered the toilet, they blocked the door.
Jiao Yanyan suddenly asked Zhenxiu to remove her skirt. Zhenxiu refused to in the beginning, but she was pushed to the ground by Jiao Yanyan.
Afterwards, the three of them removed Zhenxiu’s skirt by force. They then used rope and tape to restrict her movement.
Lastly, they poured three buckets of tap water onto Zhenxiu’s body.
Jiao Yanyan and her companions were very pleased with themselves. After all their wicked doings, they took Zhenxiu’s skirt with them before they left. They told her that they would return her skirt after returning to school later on. So until then, Zhenxiu had to sit in the cold and wait it out.
Zhenxiu’s mobile phone was turned off. With only her underwear on, she was not going to humiliate herself by walking around and looking for help. Hence, she decided to stay in the cubicle. Right up to the point where Yang Chen had discovered her tied up there.
When Yang Chen was done listening to Zhenxiu, he asked, “Why would they do this to you? What was their motive!”
There was nothing left for Zhenxiu to hide at this point. “Do you remember when I told you about Liu Minghao leaving his mess behind after he left?”
Yang Chen nodded, frowning. “You said his departure had left many negative consequences behind. I didn’t dig deeper into your words after that day.”
“Actually, it wasn’t totally his fault.” Zhenxiu’s face was overflowing with bitterness. “I don’t really know why she does what she does either. I only came here to resume my studies so that I can get into a top-ranked university. But that didn’t stop a bunch of guys from approaching me. They labeled me as the prettiest girl in the school. How can I be? I barely leave the classroom!
“But because of that, most of the girls assumed that I seduced the guys. Especially Jiao Yanyan. She liked Liu Minghao for some reason and had always desired to become his girlfriend. But Liu Minghao was busy chasing me. Although I never accepted him, Jiao Yanyan believed that it was I who got in her way.
“There was no point in correcting anything. It wasn’t just Jiao Yanyan. Most of the other girls ignored me as well. It was fine by me though. I only came here to study. However, I did not come here to get bullied into submission by a jealous girl.”
“Jealousy can be a very scary thing.” Yang Chen had roughly understood the reason. He observed her features closely and smiled. “I can’t believe you’re known as the prettiest girl in the school! You’re still just a little girl in my eyes. Tsk tsk, guess we need to pay more attention to you from now on. Who knows, maybe you will be like Hui Lin in the future. A celebrity working for Ruoxi’s company.”
Zhenxiu flushed and said, “You’re getting sidetracked again! Let’s not talk about this anymore. It’s getting late. Let’s head back before Aunt Guo gets worried.”
Yang Chen glanced downwards. “You want to walk out of the school in just your underwear?”
Zhenxiu had suddenly realized that her legs were still bare! Her face became a deep red and she quickly extended her hands to cover her underwear. She had no idea what to do.
Her heart beat against her ribcage after realizing how she had been talking to Yang Chen for so long with just her underwear on.
“The—then, what do we do?” questioned Zhenxiu while slowly losing the edge in her voice.
Yang Chen said, “That Jiao Yanyan said she’d return your skirt when she returned. They will surely return to take a look at you in your pitiful state. We shall wait for them here.”
Zhenxiu froze. She then shook her head abruptly. “It’s fine, don’t make a big deal out of it!”
“It’s fine?” laughed Yang Chen. “Xu Zhenxiu, let me make it absolutely clear to you now. I sent you here to study, not get bullied! If you’re being bullied, I’d rather let you sell rice cakes on the streets!”
Zhenxiu’s eyes reddened slightly and she muttered something inaudibly.
As he was about to finish his speech, Yang Chen heard footsteps from outside the door. His lips twitched as he pulled Zhenxiu up. “They’re back. Let’s give them a warm welcome, shall we?”
He then retrieved a large red bucket from the corner of the toilet and started filling it up with tap water.
The three girls were nearing the toilet, including the one referred to as Jiao Yanyan. They noticed the objects blocking the door were all moved away.
Jiao Yanyan shouted out loud, “Son of a bitch. Don’t tell me the vixen has been let out or escaped!”
“I highly doubt so. There’s a very low chance of her walking around in her underwear. She’d be laughed at for doing so.”
“That’s true. Let’s take a look then,” said Jiao Yanyan while chewing a piece of gum. Her friends tailed closely behind her
Suddenly, a swishing sound filled the air. Following that sound was a huge amount of waster that rushed down the three girls’ heads.
Jiao Yanyan and her friends felt the icy chill of the water seeping through their clothes. They opened their eyes and saw an unfamiliar person holding a bucket above his head.
“Damn, nasty fella! You have a death wish?” Jiao Yanyan spit out her chewing gum onto the floor while staring at Yang Chen furiously. “Who are you? How dare you pour water on us! Do you know who I am?”
Yang Chen yawned, waving a hand at the dumbfounded Zhenxiu. “Go whack them all you want. I won’t stop you.”
Zhenxiu was startled at hearing this. With a puzzled face she asked, “Me?”
Yang Chen furrowed his brows and said, “Yeah you. Since you’re the one who got bullied by them, it only makes sense for you to fight back. I’m sure the three of them are no match for you.”
Zhenxiu was once a well-known gangster in the street-racing community. Even though she hadn’t been fighting lately, Yang Chen was confident that she still retained some of the skills she had picked up over the years.
“Right! I remember you! You’re the old man who sent her to school in the morning! The one driving a BMW!” Jiao Yanyan had finally recalled, laughing coolly. “Don’t think that you’re so powerful just because you drive a BMW! My father can call upon a hundred people with the snap of his fingers and chop you to bits! You better kneel down and beg for my forgiveness now, otherwise…”
Without letting her finish, Yang Chen slid across the floor and stood in front of her. Without notice, a slap landed loudly on her left cheek.
Jiao Yanyan was thrown sideways into the door, like a kite whose string had snapped before falling onto the floor.
Blood dribbled from the corner of her mouth and the left side of her face appeared to be swollen.
Her ‘followers’ were scared out of their wits. They retreated to the corner of the toilet but were too afraid of opening the door.
Golden stars swam before Jiao Yanyan’s eyes. She shook her head hard while attempting to maintain her balance. Pointing a finger at Yang Chen, she exclaimed, “You animal! Are you a man? You dare enter the female’s toilet, and lay your hands on a girl?”
Yang Chen laughed shrilly. “My sister was thoroughly drenched with water. So what if I have to enter the women’s toilet? Or hit a girl? I’d be more than willing to even be a ladyboy!”
Jiao Yanyan’s anger skyrocketed, but she was speechless. I’ve never met such a shameless guy. What ladyboy?! she thought.
Standing at the side, Zhenxiu’s tears kept dripping down her face. It was like a pearl necklace without its string, endlessly falling.
Yang Chen’s words were meant to be funny, but to Zhenxiu, his not-so-tall backview had been imprinted in the softest corner of her heart.
He wasn’t biologically related to her, but he had proved time and time again that she didn’t have to be blood related for him to still treat her like his sister.
He was willing to throw everything he had away for her. And how did she choose to repay him? By pissing him off.
Xu Zhenxiu, why are you always so useless? she thought.
Yang Chen didn’t know what she was thinking. Seeing her cry, he merely thought that she felt sorry for him. He sighed and asked, “Why are you crying? Just go up there and finish the job. Treat them like how they treated you. Don’t worry about them retaliating. I’ll be here.”
Zhenxiu wiped her tears away, shook her head smilingly. “It’s fine, Brother Yang. You already done enough here. Let’s just go back.”
Yang Chen’s face whitened. “Why? You don’t dare to? Well, I’ll help you then.”
He strode over to Jiao Yanyan, who was hugging her two friends so tightly after seeing Yang Chen’s movement towards her. They were still girls, after all. Yang Chen’s scary glares would still frighten them.
“No!” Zhenxiu rushed upwards to stop him. She clenched her jaw and uttered, “Brother Yang, le—let me do it by myself…”
She knew perfectly well that he was capable of basically anything. If he were to beat Jiao Yanyan up, her face would not only be swollen, it’d be broken beyond repair.
Without a choice, she turned around and edged towards the three girls.
“Yo—you… don’t come over!” Jiao Yanyan’s face was full of fear. She wanted to run away but lacked the strength to do so. So she resorted to shouting “If you dare to hit me, I’ll make sure my father kills the both of you!”
In her heart, Zhenxiu was scolding her. Why is this girl so idiotic? I’m actually trying to save her by beating her up myself. But yet she insists to retort using her fathers name. Doesn’t she realize the situation she is in?
Thinking of all the sufferings she had endured and the repeated humiliation from Jiao Yanyan, Zhenxiu finally gave in to the temptation and threw her onto the floor with great force.
Zhenxiu had learned how to fight during the days of being a gangster. It was a common back then. But after Cai Yan’s attempt to educate her, she had changed her ways.
Now, the hatred she felt for Jiao Yanyan had made her revert to her old ways. She aimed at all the spots that she knew were weak points of the body, making Jiao Yanyan squirm around the floor and shout for help.
Once Zhenxiu started hitting them, it was difficult to stop. Only then did she realise how much she detested Jiao Yanyan.
In the end, the three girls were sprawled across the tiles immobile from all the beating. Their faces were puffy and full of blue-blacks.
Zhenxiu panted as her faced slowly turned red from the excessive use of energy. With sweat all over her face, she dropped to the floor. She couldn’t believe that she had beaten them up in such a demeaning way.
Yang Chen was watching from the side, but he didn’t stop her. He wanted her to release all her negative emotions, which was why he let her hit them without a word.
Those girls deserved a little punishment. As long as nobody died, Yang Chen wasn’t going to stop Zhenxiu.
Yang Chen worried about Zhenxiu’s mental health should she continue to keep it locked up. Looking at how relieved she felt, a heavy load was removed from his chest.
“There’s still one more step,” said Yang Chen, patting Zhenxiu’s shoulders. “Go take her skirt off. Just like what she did to you.”
Zhenxiu was now calmed. She said rather sheepishly, “I got my skirt back, it’s fine.”
“You’re already here, why stop at the last step? Think about it. Do you really want me to help you with that last step?” laughed Yang Chen, giving a naughty grin.
Zhenxiu gritted her teeth and moved towards the girls. Ignoring their motionless bodies, she stripped them off their skirts then proceeded to put hers back on.
Taking the skirts from Zhenxiu’s hands, Yang Chen dumped them into a toilet bowl without the slightest hesitation. He then said to Zhenxiu, “Let’s go home now.”
Zhenxiu nodded her head, taking one last glance at the half-dead girls lying on the floor. She didn’t feel any pity for them. She followed Yang Chen out through the door, her feet light against the ground.
After waiting for her to pack her things into her bag, both of them left the school compound and entered the car.
Yang Chen didn’t start his car right away. He dialed Guo Xuehua’s number instead, telling her that Zhenxiu had to attend an extra class and she was too tired from the stress she fell asleep and had forgotten to go home.
Guo Xuehua sounded pained in the phone, but didn’t suspect anything else. She only asked for them to go home earlier so that they could still have dinner while it was still hot.
Afterwards, Yang Chen called Rose. Since Jiao Yanyan kept describing her father as an all-powerful guy from the underworld, Yang Chen decided to acquire a little bit more info on the person he was going to be dealing with in the future. He asked Rose to do some background checks for him, and asked her to send her men to protect Zhenxiu. These things wasn’t really a challenge for someone like Rose.
When Yang Chen had finished making his arrangements, Zhenxiu said apologetically, “Brother Yang, I am sorry.”
Yang Chen had just started the engine. Hearing these three words, he asked in a curious voice, “Why apologise?”
Expressionlessly, Zhenxiu replied, “I have been nothing but trouble for you since the day we met. I can’t contribute to anything, but I kept making you worry about me.
“You, Sister Ruoxi, Aunt Guo and Wang Ma are like my family. Sometimes, I really think that I am undeserving of everything that has been given to me. How can I accept everything all of you have done for me? I was just an orphan which caused enough trouble to be a regular in the police station...
“But you overlooked that and sent me to school so that I can have a future.”
“A—and yet, I still cause trouble in school.”
Zhenxiu choked at her words. Her fair-skinned hand tightened around her skirt and she continued by saying, “I want to really work hard from now on, and get into a prestigious university. I want to earn enough to pay you back. But it seems that all I can do is attract problems. I feel really useless, I’m sorry.”
Yang Chen’s expression seemed distant. It looked like he was listening to her but at the same time he was not.
“Xu Zhenxiu,” Yang Chen suddenly said. “I ask you, the reason you wanted to let the thing with Jiao Yanyan go was because you didn’t want to cause me any trouble?”
Zhenxiu nodded and said faintly, “Brother Yang, I already owe you a ton. I really don’t want you to have to bear any more trouble because of me. I know you’re tired. Even though you look happy on the outside, no one has a stress free life. You’re not an exception”
“So this is why you wanted to keep it from me?” asked Yang Chen.
“Yes,” grunted Zhenxiu. “Sometimes I wonder how is it I can still live a life like this one. Is this the life I deserve? Am I this lucky? Why would I gain people like you, who would help me selflessly regardless of the circumstance?
“I even wonder sometimes. What if I wasn’t taken in by the orphanage? What if I was starved to death? What if I had died from any of the fights from before? Maybe I wouldn’t have to be such a nuisance right now.
“I was a nobody, but you treated me like I was someone. I-I don’t think I can handle it anymore.”
Suddenly, the BMW stopped in its tracks!
Zhenxiu’s whole body lunged forward. She turned her head to stare at Yang Chen with disbelief. She didn’t understand how a well-functioning car had just stopped at the roadside!
Yang Chen turned his head to face Zhenxiu. With an expressionless face, he said quietly, “Well since you think that way, let me show you something.”