So began a new semester.
On this fine morning, the plaza in front of Tiannan Station was a sight to behold: colorful booths set up and arranged into a square formation; student representatives (no doubt the best-looking ones) from various universities could be seen manning the booths, greeting their respective freshmen with remarkable enthusiasm.
It was a long-held tradition for universities to give their freshmen a warm welcome at the beginning of every new intake. As a fourth year senior of Tiannan University and an integral member of the student council, and a prospective candidate for the next student council president, Feng Na would never miss out on such a noble undertaking.
"Ugh! Nana! Another bottle of water, please! I need a drink!"
Feng Na glanced to her right at that familiar voice. Sure enough, Cheng Cheng was standing right there with her left palm extended towards Feng Na.
"Hurry up already, Nana! God…" Cheng Cheng fanned herself with a cute little plastic hand fan that she was holding in her right hand. "I'm dying of thirst here!"
Smiling, Feng Na reached down for the box and pulled out a bottle of mineral water. "How many freshmen have you welcomed today?" She tossed the bottle towards Cheng Cheng.
Cheng Cheng caught the bottle, then immediately turned to smile at another freshman walking past their booth.
"Welcome! Enjoy your first day!"
After the freshman walked away, Cheng Cheng turned back around. The smile was gone from Cheng Cheng's face almost instantly. She scowled and said, "That, was the 138th. Ugh! This is so exhausting! I think I'm gonna drop dead soon." She uncapped the bottle and took a huge gulp. Then, she swallowed and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "And you wanna know the worst part, Nana?"
Amusement crept into Feng Na. Worse than doing manual labor here? Somehow, Feng Na doubted it. But still, she would indulge in her bestie's need to whine.
Feng Na cleared her throat. "Alright then. Lay it on me. What's the worst part of today?"
Cheng Cheng rolled her eyes in her usual dramatic fashion. "The new guys are all perverts! I swear to God! It's like they can't even go for two seconds without staring at my boobs!"
Feng Na stared at her bestie for a second or two. Then, she burst into laughter.
"Oh, shut up." Feng Na swatted Cheng Cheng's shoulder. "Quit being such a drama queen. And you should be grateful for your… um… assets." Feng Na waved a hand in front of Cheng Cheng's melons. Indeed, some women would die for boobs like that. Women like me, a small voice inside Feng Na's head taunted.
"Besides, you had it coming," Feng Na said.
Cheng Cheng gasped. "Ex-cuse me?" She looked completely appalled. "I had it coming? How could you say that?"
Feng Na gave her bestie a huge eye roll. "Uh… Hello?" Feng Na waved a hand at Cheng Cheng's voluminous boobies. "You're the one who chose to wear this low-cut outfit. Look at that cleavage! Perverts are going to leer if you flaunt your assets like that, Cheng Cheng. That's just how it works."
Cheng Cheng rolled her eyes dramatically. "Like, sure, they can look, but maybe for a second or two. They shouldn't keep staring at them like..." Cheng Cheng waved her hands in the air as though she was trying to search for a proper description for some kind of unsolvable dilemma. "Like… Like they wanna shove their eyeballs into my cleavage!"
Feng Na opened her mouth to speak but was quickly interrupted by the sound of someone panting.
A voice sounded beside her.
"Yo! Feng Na! Can I have a bottle of water, please?"
Feng Na turned and saw Wu Hui trudging towards them. The dude was drenched in sweat.
Feng Na reached for another bottle of mineral water and then tossed it at the man. "Have you sent them off to the bus already?" Feng Na smiled. "From the looks of it, I'm guessing their bags are pretty heavy."
Wu Hui uncapped the bottle and took several long gulps of water. After that, he poured the rest of the water onto his head and stood there with his arms akimbo.
"Freshmen these days... I swear to God… They bring everything!" Wu Hui growled. "Desktop PCs are still acceptable. But TVs? Come on! Some even brought those bulky electric fans! It's like I'm running a goddamn moving company around here. Ouch, ouch! Great, even my back hurts now." Wu Hui sighed dramatically. "Hey. If there are any more bags to carry later, you girls need to handle them yourselves. I think I pulled a muscle."
Feng Na bit back a snarky retort. Even though Feng Na disliked Wu Hui, she didn't want to bite his head off in front of everyone; after all, he did do quite a lot to help out at the booth. Granted, his main motive might be to impress the ladies, but still…
Feng Na smiled at Wu Hui, hoping that it seemed genuine. "Well, what is it that they always say? The heavier responsibility falls on the shoulders of the capable?" Feng Na turned to Cheng Cheng. "Isn't that right?"
Cheng Cheng nodded. "You bet!"
Feng Na looked towards Wu Hui again. "You're the only male student here. Of course you should be the one to move the bags. You have the strength that none of us girls possess."
Wu Hui sighed. "But there are so many of them, you know!"
Feng Na resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Well. It's their freshman year. It's normal for them to bring more stuff."
"Wow. Are you guys bad-mouthing us freshmen already?"
All three of them swiveled around to face the owner of the voice: a beautiful young lady dressed in a long, pale-yellow dress.
Underneath the lady's white straw hat was a typical pretty face—large eyes, long lashes, and fair skin. What struck Feng Na, though, was how tall the girl was (165 cm if she were to venture a guess), not to mention the slim yet curvy figure, which rendered her appearance infinitely more attractive.
"Hello, seniors," said the girl, blinking those large eyes at them.
Apparently, those eyes were the perfect remedy for Wu Hui's back problems as he suddenly stepped forward to introduce himself.
"Hello. Are you a freshman of Tiannan University? What's your name? Which department will you be joining?"
The corner of the girl's lips tugged upwards.
"I'm Jiang Xiuxiu. And I'm in Visual and Performing Arts."
"Jiang… Xiu… Xiu..." Cheng Cheng wrote something down on a new form. "Like this?" Cheng Cheng turned the clipboard around to show the girl what she'd written down.
Jiang Xiuxiu nodded, apparently satisfied that Cheng Cheng had gotten her name right. Her eyes, however, glinted with what appeared to be vanity.
"Do you guys know that the Xiu in my name means exceptionally beautiful?"
Feng Na shared a glance with Cheng Cheng, who looked like she was struggling to hold back a litany of snarky retorts.
Feng Na smirked. You and me both, girl.
Their exchange was interrupted by Wu Hui, who suddenly stepped towards the girl.
"Here. Let me take your luggage."
Feng Na gave Wu Hui a sidelong glance.
"I thought you couldn't handle any more heavy lifting today because you um… how exactly did you put it… pulled a muscle?"
Okay, that was a little mean, but Feng Na couldn't help it. Besides, the mortified look on Wu Hui's face was totally worth it.
"You should be careful, senior. These suitcases are pretty heavy," Jiang Xiuxiu said, pointing at the two sizeable suitcases beside her feet.
Wu Hui let out a laugh. Then, with a casual wave of his hand and perhaps an ego the size of a cow, he said, "Don't worry! I'm the member of the student council's sports committee!"
Wu Hui struck a pose like a bodybuilder.
What an idiot, Feng Na thought, then shared another glance with Cheng Cheng. Feng Na had no doubt that her bestie had the exact same thing in mind—Cheng Cheng's disdain was all over her face.
Jiang Xiuxiu's giggles made Feng Na look away again.
Wu Hui had just finished striking another pose.
Feng Na suppressed yet another eye roll. But before she could say something to end Wu Hui's theatrics, the guy was already reaching for one of Jiang Xiuxiu's suitcases.
The look on his face a second later nearly made Feng Na laugh: saying that he looked constipated would be putting it lightly.
The suitcase had barely risen a few inches off the ground before it slipped out of Wu Hui's hands and crashed back down.
"W- What the—" Wu Hui gaped at the suitcase. "What did you put in it? Bricks? How come it's so heavy?"
Out of curiosity, Feng Na stepped forward and tried to lift the suitcase herself: she couldn't even get it off the ground despite have used both hands.
"Well then!" Feng Na grinned at Wu Hui and patted his shoulder a few times. "We're counting on you now, big guy!"
Wu Hui bent down and grabbed each suitcase by their top carry handles. This time, he fared better—at least he managed to keep the suitcases stable. Feng Na watched in amusement as he took several wobbly steps before he gave up and put the suitcases back down.
"Argh... Can't do it," Wu Hui said, waving his hands. Then, he bent over and placed his hands on his knees and panted as though he'd just finished a marathon. "I think I'll have to carry them one by one."
Feng Na snorted. Or you could just extend the handle and drag it towards the bus, moron.
Feng Na kept that thought to herself.
"God, you're such an idiot!" Cheng Cheng said with a laugh. "Why do you have to carry them when they've got wheels?! See?" Cheng Cheng pressed a button and pulled upwards to extend the trolley handle. "Just roll them to the bus, geez."
Apparently, her bestie didn't feel like watching the asshole make a fool of himself.
Wu Hui smacked his own forehead. "Oh, right! Why didn't I think of that?"
Feng Na had about a dozen answers to that question, all of which ran along the lines of: because you're dumb.
"Coz you just want to show off in front of a pretty girl," Cheng Cheng mumbled.
After that, Feng Na and Wu Hui towed Jiang Xiuxiu's suitcases towards the bus. Then, with much effort, Wu Hui managed to lug both suitcases onto the bus. I wonder what he's planning to do if Jiang Xiuxiu asks him to bring those suitcases up to the girls' dorms. A smirk tugged at Feng Na's lips. Well, she supposed it would be fine if she stayed on the ground floor. But what if Jiang Xiuxiu got assigned to the fifth floor dorms?
Feng Na decided to take pity on Wu Hui. "Hey, Wu Hui," she said. "Why don't you stay here and watch the booth for me. I'll accompany Jiang Xiuxiu back to campus. Oh, don't worry about the bags. I'll just ask a few more guys to help carry them when we arrive."
Wu Hui glanced towards Jiang Xiuxiu. Perhaps he hadn't realized that Feng Na was trying to give him a way out.
"I mean," Feng Na continued, "if you leave with the bus, then Cheng Cheng and I wouldn't be able to handle the bags on our own."
Apparently, that remark did the trick. Wu Hui nodded enthusiastically. "Ah. True! Alright! I guess I'll get back to work then."
Wu Hui turned around and walked away without sparing Jiang Xiuxiu another glance.
"Hey, senior. That guy seems fun..." Jiang Xiuxiu was staring after Wu Hui.
Fun? Sure. If you like the dumb ones, that is.
Feng Na kept that thought to herself.
"And he's quite handsome too."
Handsome, huh? Feng Na smiled. An unbidden image of Li Yundong, whom she hadn't seen for two long months, formed in her mind. I wonder how he's been... Did he change over the past two months?
Feng Na's thoughts drifted further and further away. Soon, her mind was filled with images of Li Yundong.
"...hello... senior? Anybody home?"
Feng Na snapped out of her thoughts when she realized that Jiang Xiuxiu was waving a hand in front of her face.
"You totally spaced out right there, senior. What were you thinking about?"
When Feng Na didn't answer right away, a teasing look formed on Jiang Xiuxiu's face. "Ooh... You were thinking about that handsome senior just now, weren't you?"
And that comment right there destroyed every single remnant of her fantasy. Feng Na glared at Jiang Xiuxiu. "Him?" Feng Na snorted. "Why on earth would I think about him?"
Jiang Xiuxiu just smiled and bumped her shoulder into Feng Na. "Aww... Don't be shy, senior..."
Feng Na rolled her eyes. "Just get on the bus. And I already have someone I like."
The two girls boarded the bus took their seats.
"Who is he?" Jiang Xiuxiu asked.
"Huh?" Feng Na decided to play dumb.
"The guy you like," Jiang Xiuxiu said.
Li Yundong's face popped up in Feng Na's mind once again. Something tugged inside her chest, and it didn't feel good.
Feng Na sighed. "Look. Just stop asking already. You wouldn't recognize his name even if I tell you."
Jiang Xiuxiu didn't say anything else after that, thank God. They sat in their seats for a while, waiting for other freshmen to arrive. When it was time to leave, Feng Na rose and walked towards the front of the bus.
"Mr. Zhao, please take us to the campus," she said to the driver.
"Very well, miss."
The drive to campus took nearly half an hour. Even with the bus driver's help, it took considerable effort for them to carry Jiang Xiuxiu's suitcases off the bus. The poor driver could barely stand up after all that exertion.
"It's fine, Mr. Zhao. Don't mind the suitcases. I'll just ask a bunch of guys to carry them for us. You can head back to the station first," Feng Na said.
Mr. Zhao stared at the suitcases for a moment, then nodded. "Alright then."
After the bus left, Feng Na turned towards Jiang Xiuxiu.
Jiang Xiuxiu watched Senior Feng Na hurry through the gates. She didn't understand why Senior Feng Na had to go look for extra helping hands elsewhere when there were so many guys around them.
Just then, a guy walked past her.
"Hey, handsome!" she yelled without thinking.
However, the guy just kept walking without answering her call.
Not used to being ignored, Jiang Xiuxiu stalked after the guy. Damn it, she thought, he sure walks fast.
Jiang Xiuxiu quickened her pace.
"Hey, handsome! Wait up!"
The man was wearing a long-sleeved, white shirt, which she immediately recognized as Armani. She couldn't identify the brand of his dark pants though. Just as she was trying to work out what kind of sport shoes he was wearing, something else caught her eye: a long, bulky object (wrapped up in a dark cloth) sticking out of the top of his backpack.
The sight of that strange object made Jiang Xiuxiu stop walking.
What on earth was that thing? A telescope?
Whatever. She didn't care.
"Hey!!! Handsome! I need your help!"
Again, she was ignored.
Humiliation coursed through her. "Hey!!" By then, her voice had caught the attention of every single guy in the area except for the man her words were intended for. Is he deaf?
Jiang Xiuxiu stomped her feet in anger and then broke off into a full sprint. When she caught up to him, she reached out to grab his arm. She missed; the guy moved his arm away as though he knew when and where she was going to grab him.
It was like he had eyes on the back of his head.
When the guy finally turned around to face her, Jiang Xiuxiu's heart skipped a few beats.
Standing in front of her was perhaps the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes on: tall (definitely around 175 cm) and manly; thick eyebrows; huge piercing eyes; straight nose that looked like a mountain ridge; strong jawline and well-defined lips; and the way he carried himself exuded an air of confidence.
Even though Jiang Xiuxiu had spent pretty much her entire childhood surrounded by boys, she had never seen a man this attractive before. For a long while, she just stared wordlessly at the man in front of her, utterly incapable of speech.
"Can I help you, miss?"
"U- Um... I- I just..." Jiang Xiuxiu cleared her throat. "Uh... S- Suitcases... I need... your help..."
"Ah." The man smiled. "You're a freshman."
Jiang Xiuxiu nodded. "Yes."
Suddenly, the man looked past her shoulders. He appeared to be squinting at something behind her. What's he looking at? Jiang Xiuxiu turned around and followed his line of sight.
It surprised her to see just how far she'd gone from the front gates. Her large suitcases were barely visible now. When she turned back around, the guy was no longer squinting. "Those two suitcases over there, you mean?" He pointed past her shoulders. "The ones with the ribbons?"
Jiang Xiuxiu did a double take. How did he see the ribbons from— She turned around again. The suitcases themselves were barely visible let alone those ribbons.
He probably just caught a glimpse of them when he walked past the gates just now.
There was no way he could see those tiny ribbons from here.
"Uh, yeah. Those are mine," Jiang Xiuxiu said, glad that she had managed to salvage a modicum of composure.
"Sure. I'll help you out."
Jiang Xiuxiu followed the man back to the gates. After that, they rolled the suitcases towards the block where the girls' dorms were located.
Jiang Xiuxiu placed a hand on his arm when they reached the staircase. "Wait. These are pretty heavy," she said. "I'll go find a couple more guys to help out."
Stupid dorms didn't even have an elevator.
As soon as she had turned around, the man's voice sounded behind her.
"There's no need for that, miss. These aren't that heavy."
When Jiang Xiuxiu turned back around a second later, she literally had the shock of her life: the suitcases were dangling from the guy's hands like they weighed nothing.
"Y- You can lift them?"
The man gave her a funny look. "Err... Isn't that obvious?" He hoisted the two suitcases higher for emphasis.
Jiang Xiuxiu blushed heavily. "Oh."
The man turned around and walked up the stairs. "You gotta tell me which floor, you know?"
Jiang Xiuxiu snapped out of it and ran up the stairs.
They resumed their climb after Jiang Xiuxiu told him that she was staying on the third floor.
"Aren't they heavy?" Jiang Xiuxiu asked when they reached the landing of the first floor. She stared down at her own suitcases.
Wow. Her suitcases had quite literally tortured a lot of men during her journey here. But this guy was carrying it around like they weighed nothing. Such monstrous strength...
Before she knew it, they had reached the third floor and were now standing in front of her dorms. Mr. Hercules followed her into the dorms and then placed her suitcases beside her bed.
"Well, then. I'll get out of your hair now." The man smiled. "Have a nice day."
"Wait!" Jiang Xiuxiu yelled. "At least let me walk you out."
The man shrugged and walked out of the dorms. Jiang Xiuxiu scurried after him. It wasn't until they were walking down the stairs that she realized something strange: every student they had walked past began whispering behind their backs; most of them seemed awestruck the moment they saw him.
Is he some sort of VIP here? Jiang Xiuxiu thought. If he is, then I'm damn lucky to have run into him. I should ask for his phone number… Or his QQ address…
The man stopped walking and turned around to face her once they were out of the dorms building.
"This is far enough," he said with a kind smile. "I'm sure you have a lot of unpacking to do. You don't have to walk with me. See you around!"
He walked away before she could even come up with a response.
"Hey! I don't even know your name!" Jiang Xiuxiu yelled after him.
The man didn't even turn around when he waved his hand at her. "I'm Lei Feng!"
Lei Feng? But isn't Lei Feng that national hero...?
"You're lying!" Jiang Xiuxiu yelled again.
The man walked on as though he hadn't heard her.
Jiang Xiuxiu kept staring at the man until a voice sounded behind her.
"Jiang Xiuxiu! Gosh. Where have you been?!"
Jiang Xiuxiu turned around and saw Feng Na approaching the dorms with several buff-looking men in tow.
"I told you to wait for me at the gates! Why did you run off on your own—" Feng Na stopped talking and glanced around. "Wait. Where are your suitcases? I didn't see them at the gates."
Jiang Xiuxiu ignored the question and pointed at the man instead. He was quite far away, but still visible from where they stood.
"Hey, hey, senior! Do you know that man? He's from our university right? What's his name?"