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After the class bell had rung for a while, Lu Shenxing dragged his emotions back, adjusted his state, then picked up the English book and a stack of papers and went to the classroom. As he stepped in the door the sound of studying and rustling papers gradually tapered off.
One of the students sneezed loudly, and a rustling sound reappeared.
There was a lot of dust in the air, floating around everywhere, showing how raucous the classroom had been in the first ten minutes.
Standing on the podium, Lu Shenxing looked at more than fifty students, all youthful and rebellious. He took a deep breath imperceptibly, "Let's change your seats before class."
As soon as Lu Shenxing's words were spoken, the students began to whisper. They were looking forward to it. They wanted to change immediately and escape their surrounding classmates. For some reason, no one was lying on their desks with their faces blocked by stacked textbooks, secretly praying not to hear their name.
"Liu Yihan." Lu Shenxing looked at the student in the middle row facing him, the most elegant boy among the four students, "You and Li Mu can switch positions."
Liu Yihan was stunned for a moment. He bit his lower lip, hesitation and unwillingness appearing in his big clear and watery eyes, clearly visible.
"Wu Yuan, you change with Chen Yuanyuan." Lu Shenxing looked to Liu Yihan's left, close to the aisle there was a boy with a bruise on his face.
There was a very delicate distance between the deskmates who seemed as incompatible as fire and water. They looked like they would walk on opposite sides of the road when going the same way but unbeknownst to others they wished to sit at the same table with hands and feet intertwined under the table.
Wu Yuan listened obediently, pulled up his uniform zipper, closed his book, and got up to tidy up the desk.
Liu Yihan turned his head to watch Wu Yuan pack his things. He was holding a gel pen, his eyes flushed slightly. The corner of Lu Shenxing's mouth twitched, he'd became a wicked mother-in-law who beat the mandarin ducks.
The seats didn't change much. According to the plot, Lu Shenxing scattered the students who directly or indirectly affected Wu Yuan's destiny to the peripherals. None of them together, there were no contradictions or conflicts, and the classroom was at peace.
Ten minutes later, the atmosphere in the class became tense. Lu Shenxing called out one name after another. The student who was just called slowly moved his butt, twisting his neck to look at the densely packed words in the book. He looked extremely tragic as he walked to the blackboard, holding the chalk and waiting to die.
Lu Shenxing only read one word, and the six students at the front were stunned. Some of them started writing and erasing their words, all the while, peeking around.
The others just stood there, resigned.
Standing on Wu Yuan's right, Lu Shenxing raised his voice. He watched Wu Yuan holding an old blue ballpoint pen. By the time he'd almost finished reading, Wu Yuan had written everything seriously and confidently.
After reading out the fifteen words, Lu Shenxing asked the students in front of the blackboard to return to their seats.
Lu Shenxing corrected them and smacked their heads, what can't be remembered won't be remembered.
Although, as someone who had been smacked and had chalk thrown at him, even he hated this kind of treatment.
After checking the dictation of several students one by one, Lu Shenxing said while they were waiting for criticism, "Copy every word that was wrong ten times, and hand it over to Liu Yihan when you're done."
Surprise swept across their faces, even Hades showed mercy.
Lu Shenxing instructed the absent-minded Liu Yihan, "Hand these out and collect them again on Friday."
Liu Yihan took the paper and walked to Wu Yuan, it took him more than ten seconds to hand him one.
Wu Yuan’s deskmate Wang Hui bumped his elbow and whispered, “Did Liu Yihan just cry? His eyes are red, just like a girl.”
Wang Hui sat on the inside, sitting on Wu Yuan's left. Wu Yuan couldn't hear this low-volume whisper. He tilted his head and leaned his right ear over, without saying a word.
Halfway through the class, the small note was sent off by Liu Yihan. It passed seven or eight classmates along the way, across the desk and over the aisle, before it was passed tremblingly to Wu Yuan's hand.
Wu Yuan frowned and stuffed it in his desk without even looking.
Lu Shenxing pretended not to see it. After class, he called Wang Hui, the representative of physical education, to his office.
"Sir, I don't know anything."
Lu Shenxing glanced at him, "Wang Hui, do you know what I want to ask you?"
Wang Hui shook his head. He said embarrassed, "Sir, don't ask, I really don't know anything."
Wang Hui was playing drums in his heart, fearing that the passing of the note was exposed. That Liu Yihan was an idiot, if he had anything to say, he could just wait to get out of class to talk to Wu Yuan. Instead he writes a note, acting mysterious, like they had a shameful secret.
At least the students had some solidarity. Lu Shenxing put his tea cup on the table and started the topic Wang Hui feared most, "Your sports scores are good, but will your academic scores be able to keep up?"
Wang Hui's expression pleaded with the teacher to let him go, Lu Shenxing slowly said, "How do you feel about your science comprehensive exam this mid-term?"
Wang Hui stammered, "It's... okay." He licked his lips, "Sir, I've always been very stable."
"Yes, you're very stable." Lu Shenxing snorted, "Stable at 50 points." Even out of a score of 300 points, he never climbed to 60 points. Lu Shenxing, who also hated studying at school, expressed admiration.
Wang Hui blushed and couldn't retort.
Lu Shenxing raised his eyebrows, "I hear that you play basketball very well."
Wang Hui spoke humbly through his white teeth, "So so."
There was a sudden thump in his heart, "Sir, I assure you, I'll try to get a score of six hundred in the science exam at the end of term!"
Lu Shenxing rubbed his forehead. Wang Hui was the male protagonist of this youth campus story. With well-developed limbs and simple mind, he lived in the hearts of countless female students with his face alone. He would eventually become the strongest and heaviest stroke in their youthful pasts.
He was also Wu Yuan’s best friend, and he played a significant role in Wu Yuan's life.
"Wu Yuan's grades are very good, I put you together in the hope that he can improve your motivation to study.
Wang Hui said rightly, "Sir, I'll definitely work hard."
After five minutes, Lu Shenxing waved, "Close the door on your way out."
As soon as Wang Hui went out, he changed his face and ran back to the classroom madly. When Wu Yuan finally came back from the playground, he was still in shock, "I was scared to death just now. He is so moody today. He kept throwing mines and digging pits for me to step on. Fuck, I was scared out my mind."
Wu Yuan stopped digging through the textbook, "He grilled you?"
"No!" Wang Hui said righteously, "rest assured, I didn't confess your affairs with Liu Yihan."
Wu Yuan pressed his fingers on the lower right corner of the book, his tone was a little cold, "What affairs between me and him?"
Wang Hui choked, yes, Wu Yuan and Liu Yihan have nothing to do with each other.
He turned his head to look at Liu Yihan in the third row of the innermost column. The other party was looking at him. When their eyes met, the other boy immediately flinched. Suspected of being caught in a panic, he felt like he done something wrong.
At noon, Liu Yihan couldn't bear to jump the line when he was eating in the cafeteria. He stayed with Wu Yuan, standing behind him, staring obsessively at the back of his head.
Wu Yuan didn't look back and he left after got his food.
Liu Yihan only took a bowl of rice to catch up, "Wu Yuan, I still have your English notes."
Wu Yuan said, "You can give them back this afternoon."
Liu Yihan smiled and said, "We've been working at the same table for almost half a semester, and I thought that before graduation..." His voice suddenly stopped, "Wu Yuan, don't forget tonight."
Wu Yuan glanced at him, "What?"
Liu Yihan's face paled a bit, "Did you read the note I wrote to you?" His smile was a bit ugly, but he soon recovered, "I'll wait for you in the playground after late self-study."
Wu Yuan stopped, he turned sideways slightly, "Just say it now."
Staring at by that sharp gaze, Liu Yihan felt that he was stripped naked and had nowhere to hide. He swallowed and left in panic.
Wu Yuan narrowed his eyes.
The dormitory was occupied by 16 people. The scent of smelly socks filled the air and dirty clothes were piled up everywhere. Wang Hui squatted by the door and picked at his food. Seeing Wu Yuan came back, he called vaguely, "When did you finish eating? Hurry up, let's go play ball after I eat."
Wu Yuan shook his head, "Can't, the head teacher is looking for me."
Passing by the dormitory he saw the head teacher standing there, with an inexplicable expression on his face, as if he was waiting for him specially.
Wang Hui tweeted, "It seems that King Hades is going to make a big move. Everyone should pay attention, don't be fooled by him."
Everyone in the dormitory knew in their hearts if they dare to betray the class they'd be ripped apart.
As soon as these boys finished eating and had nothing to do, they felt uncomfortable. A few boys grabbed books and met to go to the toilet to squat. They gossiped constantly, their perseverance was worthy of praise.
Who had a crush on whom, who was in good shape, who was more beautiful, who hated who... The topics hadn't changed for thousands of years, the more you chew, the more flavoursome the topic became, sometimes they lasted more than half an hour if they had something to fight about. By the time the second bell rung in the afternoon, they started talking about pornography.
Li Mu said, "Let me tell you something, but don't go out and spread it."
This aroused everyone's curiosity, "Say it."
Wang Hui also pricked his ears.
Li Mu coughed several times and lowered his voice, "I heard my mother say that a distant relative has AIDS."
Wu Yuan noticed that the atmosphere in the dormitory wasn't right. He turned around and heard Li Mu's angrily cursing, "Fuck, what are you thinking of me for? It's not me who's sick!"
"If I got caught fucking with a guy." Li Mu scratched his scalp, "I'd have to ask my family fir money, I won't live long."
"No way, what men are doing it with other men?" Some of the boys didn't understand, "Where would you stick it?"
Li Mu chuckled, "Don't you stick it in your butt?"
Everyone laughed, and Wang Hui couldn't stand it and said, "It's so gross!"
Wu Yuan's face was twisted. The food in his stomach hadn't been digested yet, and he was nauseous. He picked up a water bottle, grabbed his water ticket and went out. He filled his bottle with boiling water in the water room.
In the dormitory, Lu Shenxing, who was playing a tape recorder, heard a knock on the door and glanced up at the alarm clock on his desk, "Come in."
Wu Yuan who came in was tense, cautious and guarded.
Lu Shenxing raised his eyebrow, "Sit next to me for a while."
He wasn't paying attention and knocked the tape recorder on the ground. Now when the tape was playing, it babbled and he didn't know how to fix it.
Wu Yuan didn't move from his station. As time passed, he had relaxed a lot, but now he was relaxed, his brain became hot again.
"I'll take a look at it."
He spoke without thinking, then immediately cursed in his heart.
Lu Shenxing wasn't polite at all, "Then you try."
Wu Yuan was stunned, sure it was not a joke. He pursed his mouth, and reached out with a solemn expression, as if what he was about to touch wasn't a tape recorder, but a priceless national cultural relic.
"Don't be nervous, I won't charge you if it breaks." Lu Shenxing found a towel to wipe the sweat from his face and neck.
Wu Yuan lowered his head to check the tape recorder. His fingers were long and slender, his nails were very clean, and his fingertips were pink. Lu Shenxing stared at it then silently looked away.
"Okay." Wu Yuan put the tape in, and the words read out became smooth.
Lu Shenxing motioned him to sit, "Your partial subject scores are very serious, and your hearing is too poor."
Wu Yuan didn't say a word.
Tapping his finger on the table, Lu Shenxing said, "Every weekend afternoon, come to me and I'll give you a make up lesson."
Wu Yuan frowned deeper, "I don't like English."
He just said that he didn’t like English in front of his English teacher.
Lu Shenxing blurted out, "I don't want to be a teacher yet I still do it. "
Wu Yuan had a weird expression of 'what are you talking about?'.
Lu Shenxing obviously didn't respond to him, "What's the matter with the injury on your face?"
Wu Yuan tilted his head uncomfortably, "I fell."
"I'll communicate with your parents about the make up classes." Lu Shenxing pointed to the plastic bag at the door, "Help me take the garbage out."
Seeing that he hadn't left, Lu Shenxing closed his eyes, "I'm going to take a nap."
Heading to the door, Wu Yuan swept up the plastic bag and noticed a bottle of safflower oil inside, more than half of it was left. He squeezed the corners of his lips, took it out and put it in his pocket.
Lu Shenxing pinched his eyebrows, he had to find some time to visit Wu Yuan's house.
There were no classes in the afternoon, so Lu Shenxing slept, and several teachers next door asked him to play mahjong. He sat down at the table with sleepy eyes.
After four rounds went by, Lu Shenxing counted a stack of change, "I feel much better today than usual."
The other three had faces darker than the bottom of the pot.
At the end of evening self-study, Wu Yuan didn't plan to go to the playground. Liu Yihan followed him, attracting the curious eyes of many classmates. He cursed irritably and turned towards the playground.
Standing in an empty corner, Wu Yuan frowned, "Liu Yihan, what do you mean?"
Liu Yihan said shyly, "I like you."
The next moment he clung to Wu Yuan and said incoherently, "You like me too, I can feel it. Wu Yuan, we are the same kind of people, Wu Yuan... Wu Yuan, let me touch you...it'll feel good..."
The words that were said in the dormitory at noon appeared in his mind. Wu Yuan's face was pale. He shook off Liu Yihan's arm, breathing heavily, and shouted, "Liu Yihan, you're wrong, I'm not."
"How can you know if you don't try it?" Liu Yihan licked his lips and said excitedly, "I'll do it for you, really. You'll know if you are after we finish."
Wu Yuan stepped back two steps, Liu Yihan cheekily stepped with him again, Wu Yuan pushed him to the ground.
Before Liu Yihan could get up, Wu Yuan ran away quickly.
Wu Yuan ran very fast and didn't know which way he was going. He just wanted to hide and calm his emotions, so that no one would find out anything was wrong.
"It's late. Aren't you staying in the dormitory, what are you doing here?"
There was an abrupt voice behind him, Wu Yuan's back went cold, and cold sweat dripped down his spine. He shivered, then turned around with gritted teeth.
Lu Shenxing slipped his hands in his pockets, approaching leisurely. He looked the boy up and down quickly, "Running?"
Wu Yuan's breathing was messy, and his palms were sweaty, "Yeah."
"The air is good at night, very clean. You can exercise." Lu Shenxing curled his lips and said, "Run with me."
Wu Yuan was flustered, and ran awkwardly.
Regarding the title, it more literally translates to: 'I became a teacher of the science class.' But since he's an English teacher I thought STEM might be less confusing. I don't know much about Chinese school systems. In Australia there is such thing as a 'science stream' that some schools have, which is for kids wanting to study STEM subjects in university. There's a lot of government incentive stuff for STEM in Australia, not sure if that's the case everywhere.
Also, I think the author might've made a mistake at the end of the last chapter, she wrote that Liu Yihan got hit by his dad but Wu Yuan is the one with the alcoholic abusive dad. I'll read a bit further before changing it, maybe both dads are abusive?