Chapter 3: A father’s pride
Tang Xiao Tian, if you’re a man, you cannot let a girl suffer because of you!
Everyone stands in their place in shock, looking at the boy who is holding onto a gun with such a mysterious force that even Shu Yawang cannot tell if the gun is real or fake. She remembered when she first held the gun, it felt the same as the gun her father owned, both of them feeling cold and heavy in her hand.
“I…I don’t believe it’s real.” Cheng Wei sputters out, a drop of sweat falling down from his forehead.
“So, that means you want to try it for yourself, correct?” Xia Mu calmly asks him. The corner of his lips lifts up slightly and Yawang gulp nervously. It’s real.
“It looks just like the real one, I don’t believe-”
“Do you know who his grandfather is?! If he brings a machine gun instead of a handgun, it’s highly possible that it’s real!” Yawang yells out.
“But even if it’s real, he wouldn’t dare to fire.” Cheng Wei reply with a shaky breath, his body stiffens from the fear.
“Really?” Xia Mu asks, his finger reaching for the trigger.
“Hey. Hey, Xia Mu!” Yawang calls out his name nervously. This kid, he’s always so quiet and mysterious. When he looks at you without saying a word, you can get goosebumps. Xia Mu flicks his wrist and tilts his head.
“Bang.” He murmurs softly.
“Ah!” Cheng Wei screams, falling to the ground and sliding backwards in fear. He breathes out heavily and glares at Xia Mu.
“Coward.” Xia Mu chuckles. Cheng Wei points a finger at him in outrage, and at that time, two beams of light cast upon them. It’s a military vehicle that’s heading their direction. A man in a military uniform steps out from the vehicle when it stops by them. Xia Mu turns his head back and look at the man, then puts his gun away. The man in the uniform walk towards Yawang and Xia Mu.
“Get in the car.” He order. Yawang nods her head and pulls Xia Mu towards the car. When they reach to the side, Zhang Jing Yu’s head pop out from the car window.
“You guys alright?” Apparently, when Jing Yu is walking back to the internet cafe, he sees them being dragged out by these hoodlums. He wants to call the police at first, but the cafe owner tell him not to, afraid that Cheng Wei and his men will damage his cafe if they call the police. So Jing Yu have no choice but to call Xiao Tian’s dad for help. He thought that since Xiao Tian’s dad is the regimental commander, he will bring a lot of people, but when he waited for the vehicle to arrive, he saw there was only one person in it!
“Can Uncle Tang fight all of them?” Zhang Jing Yu asks warily.
“Don’t worry, Uncle Tang was trained in the special forces, these guys are nothing to him.”
“No wonder Xiao Tian fights so well.”
“My ass! He made me got slapped! He better compensate me afterwards.” Yawang grumbles, rubbing her arms that block Cheng Wei’s forceful slap. She turns her head back to Xia Mu who’s been sitting silently.
“Thank you, Xia Mu.” Xia Mu looks back at her, not saying a word. She squirms closer to him and whispers,
“Where did you get the gun from? It’s really dangerous, you shouldn’t carry it all the time.”
“Huh? How is it fake? You said-”
“I lied.” Yawang is stunned for awhile, then hugged Xia Mu really hard.
“Xia Mu, you were so handsome! How can you be so cool?! So handsome and cute!” Xia Mu struggles to break away from her embrace, but she stubbornly holds him tight. At that moment, Yawang thinks Xia Mu is awesome.
“Let go of me!” Xia Mu complain, trying to break free with his head turned to the side, showing a hint of blush on his face. Yawang’s hand goes towards his face and starts to pinch his cheek.
“Aw, you’re blushing.” She teases.
“No, I’m not.” He replies back, showing a serious face. Yawang giggles.
“Oh really? Let’s try it again.” She hugs him again, her chin burying into his hair. She sees how red Xia Mu’s face is from the hug, this is so fun! Xia Mu forcefully pulls his arm out and shouts to Yawang,
“Let go of me!” This girl is so annoying! I shouldn’t have helped her! When these two are fighting, Uncle Tang brought Tang Xiao Tian over to the car. Xiao Tian’s eyes are swollen and there are purple bruises around his face, he is also limping as he walks. When Yawang sees them, she quickly got out of the car to help him.
“Xiao Tian…” He looks at Yawang, whose face is full of concern.
“I’m alright, it doesn’t hurt. What about you? Does it hurt?” Xiao Tian reaches for the arm that Cheng Wei hits and strokes on it gently.
“I’m sorry Yawang.” He apologizes, feeling guilty and heartbroken. The stinging pain from her arm suddenly soothes down when Xiao Tian touches it, and Yawang don’t feel any pain anymore. She awkwardly pulls her arm back and smile.
“I’m alright, it doesn’t hurt.”
“Yawang, get in the car.” Uncle Tang orders coldly. She nods her head and helps Xiao Tian get in the car. When they both sit down on the seats, Uncle Tang gives out another order.
“Huh?” Both of them asks, looking at each other.
“Tang Xiao Tian, I said get out! Walk home on your own!”
“But Uncle, Xiao Tian is hurt.” Yawang pleads to Uncle Tang. He is way too harsh to his kid!
“Get out right now!” He order again. Xiao Tian’s eyes reddened and he bites his lips before getting up from his seat. He opens the door and steps out of the car. Yawang who’s been watching him, also stands up from her seat.
“I’m going to walk home too.” She steps out of the car and stands beside Xiao Tian. Uncle Tang looks at both of them in disbelief.
“Tang Xiao Tian, if you’re a man, you don’t let a girl suffer because of you! If Yawang wasn’t here today, see if I would save you!” Xiao Tian lowers his head and nudge Yawang with his arm.
“Get back in the car.”
“Go.” He whispers back softly. He lifts his head up to look at Yawang, the tears gathering up in his eyes, swirling brightly like the stars in the sky. Yawang unwillingly turns back and walk to the car. Uncle Tang starts the engine and drives away, Xiao Tian’s face turning smaller and smaller as they drive further away.
“Uncle Tang, you’re way too harsh on Xiao Tian. You even made him cry! You’re so evil.” She yells out to him as tears stream down on her face. Uncle Tang looks back at her through the rearview mirror.
“You girl, it’s been so many years, and yet you still cry whenever Xiao Tian gets punished!”
“Who tells you to punish him so severely! Don’t you feel bad?” I feel bad. Yawang says in her mind, but didn’t want to say out loud.
“Yawang-ah, there are too many soft men nowadays. I want my son to be a real man, a strong and courageous man with integrity! I hope, he can be my pride. Unless, you don’t want him to.” Uncle Tang asks with a chuckle. Yawang nods her head slightly.
“I do.” They reach Yawang’s home quickly, and both Yawang and Xia Mu steps out from the car. Uncle Tang continues to drive, bringing Zhang Jing Yu back to his home. Yawang is not in a rush to go home, she wants to wait until Xiao Tian arrives, and it’s not far away from Xia Mu’s home, he can walk home by himself. She looks down at Xia Mu and her eyes widened.
“Xia Mu, are…are you-” Xia Mu’s hands are clenched together, shaking slightly.
“My dad often said, he hopes I can become his pride.”
“When I do something wrong, he would often punish me. He would punish me severely and my mom will feel bad. She would look at my wounds and rub them softly.” Xia Mu looks at Yawang, biting his lips as he try hard not to cry. Yawang feels bad for him, she really hope that a beautiful child like Xia Mu will find his happiness.
“Xia Mu. You become my pride, okay? Whenever you get hurt, I will rub them gently for you, alright?” Xia Mu bites down his lower lip, not shaking or nodding his head in reply. Yawang slowly stretches out her hand and hold onto his right hand.
“I’ll take you home.” She walks a few steps forward and look back. Xia Mu stands in place, then starts to walk. Their shadows overlap each others in the moonlight as she walks Xia Mu back to his home. After that night, he starts to accept Yawang. Whenever she enters his room, he don’t get defensive and he would even let her play with his military models, except for the gun. Even though he still don’t like to talk to her, he would glance at her from time to time while she’s talking.
At the last day of summer break, Yawang goes to Xia Mu’s home and greets the maids as they open the door for her. She rushes upstairs to Xia Mu’s room without knocking on the door. Xia Mu is sitting on a chair, his head down while he is drawing. She creep up slowly behind him and look at what he is drawing. Xia Mu places a blank paper on top of a military magazine that has a military tank on the cover. She gets closer and shouts in his ear.
“Wow!” Xia Mu, who was startled from the sound, accidentally draws a line over the finished drawing, the pencil making a crisp, sharp sound.
“Oh, sorry.” Xia Mu looks at the ruined drawing, then looks at Yawang who doesn’t look sorry.
“Is that a condemning look you’re giving me?” She asks with a laugh. Xia Mu turns his head back to the drawing. He crumples the drawing into a ball and throws it into the trash can.
“Wah, you’re angry.” She pokes Xia Mu’s head with a finger.
“You’re angry? If you’re angry then bite me, you haven’t bit me for awhile.” Xia Mu squints his eyes slightly and turns his head back to bite her finger. Yawang quickly retrieves her finger and looks at him.
“For real?” He looks at her defiantly.
“Didn’t you tell me to bite you?”
“Haha, when I tell you to bite, you bite. Such a good kid.” She rubs his head with her hand, looking at him like he’s the cutest thing. Xia Mu escapes from her evil hand and turns his head back. He places another blank piece of paper on top and starts tracing. Yawang looks over and shakes her head. Kids will be kids, even when he trace it over, it’s ugly.
“From tomorrow on, I won’t be coming.” She tells him as she sits on his bed with her legs crossed. His hand stops tracing, his eyes wandering around. Yawang takes out a sketchpad and pencil out from her bookbag.
“I’ve been your tutor for two months, but I hadn’t taught you anything.” She sits up and grabs the military tank model on the bedside drawer and places it on top of the table before looking at Xia Mu.
“On the last day, let me teach you how to draw a military tank.” She pats the space next to her, inviting Xia Mu to sit on the bed. She calls out to him twice, but he didn’t give a response. Her eyebrows narrowed, what is he doing? Turning this into an awkward atmosphere. She have no choice, but to pull him to the bed. Both of them rest their backs on the wall, their legs folded so they can hold onto the sketchpad. As she teaches Xia Mu how to draw, she will look at Xia Mu’s pad from time to time and fix the mistakes he make.
She have been drawing for seven years, but she don’t know how to teach someone how to draw. She would just draw a few strokes and look back at Xia Mu to see if he’s following. Xia Mu cannot get focused from the drawing lesson. Whenever Yawang tilts her body towards him, he is able to smell a light, sweet scent from her. He likes how her hair will brush by his hand, he likes how close they are.
They look at the two finished drawings they both drew, well, technically Yawang drew both of them. She looks at them proudly, rubbing her nose before speaking,
“Not bad.” Xia Mu nods his head in agreement, it’s not bad at all.
“Haha, then I should use this skill to earn money!” She is so happy when she sees him nods his head, much happier than when her teachers compliment her. She signs her name on her drawing, her scratchy handwriting looks like it’s dancing on the paper. She hands the paper to Xia Mu.
“For you. Keep it safe, when I get famous, it will be worth a lot of money.” Xia Mu takes the paper from her and keeps his head down. Yawang turns her wrist to look at her watch, it’s already lunch time. She packs the pencils and sketch pad into her bag.
“I’m going home.” Xia Mu didn’t reply back. She bends her waist slightly to reach his level.
“Xia Mu ah, you are so quiet, you’ll be bullied in school.” He keeps staring at the two drawings in his hands. Yawang raises her hand, wanting to ruffle his hair, but he moves his head slightly to prevent that from happening. She narrows her eyebrows and forcefully grab his hair before ruffling it hard, messing up his hair. He glares back at her, but she’s so used to it, she just makes a face in reply.
“Oh right, are you going to take the shuttle bus to school tomorrow or do you want to go biking with me?”
“School?” He asks as he raises his head and looks at her with confusion.
“Yeah, you didn’t know? School is starting tomorrow!” She looks at him surprised, then realized something.
“Oh, Grandpa must have forgot to told you. He helped you enroll into L City’s Secondary School, the same school that I’m in. Let me tell you, our school is very beautiful, but the food in the cafeteria are horrible. You’ll see for yourself tomorrow-”
“With you.” He says, the corner of his lips tilting upwards.
“Huh? What? Oh, okay cycling together. I’ll pick you up tomorrow, okay?”
“Mmm.” He nods his head, his beautiful eyes twinkling.
“I’m leaving now, bye bye.” She waves her hand at him before leaving. Xia Mu looks at the closed door, then looks back at the two drawings. He walks up to the wall and tapes the two drawings on it. Then, he removes them in fear that he might rip it and puts them in the cabinet. After awhile, he takes them out from the cabinet and roll them up before putting them into the locked drawer near his bed. That’s also where he lock up his QSZ-92.
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