Devil’s WarmthChapters List
Chapter 99: Extra 2.1
The little girl held an umbrella for him. Beneath the pitter-patter of the heavy rain, she held it for a long time till her hand became unsteady.
Pei Chuan raised his hand several times, but then just silently retracted it.
This year, Bei Yao was eleven years old. Her features hadn’t matured yet, and the hair on her back was still tied into a ponytail. She wore the old clothes of her cousin Xiao Cang; her face looked a little haggard.
Everyone said she was not as exquisite and beautiful as Minmin from the same community. But as Pei Chuan suddenly looked up, her cheeks still had some baby fat. The rain droplets slid down her face, and the light in her eyes was clear, like the world washed by the rain in front of him. From the outline of her face, it could be seen how mesmerizing she would look after she grows up, beautiful and gentle.
Pei Chuan gritted his teeth and pushed the wheelchair. He did not refuse her kindness, but he did not say a word to her.
Because the speed of the wheelchair was sometimes fast and sometimes slow, Bei Yao struggled to hold the umbrella for him. Although the hand holding the umbrella for a long duration was sore, she could only follow Pei Chuan’s speed, walking and stopping under the heavy rain.
In the end, only the two of them were left in the rain.
Pei Chuan hated her for a moment.
He listened to the footsteps behind him. He hated her sympathy; he hated how she still didn’t puff up in anger and ran back alone despite him giving a cold shoulder and being unpleasant.
They are not familiar, right?
That meager and formal greeting every year, how is it much better than a stranger?
Pei Chuan seemed to have never hated a person this way before, hating Bei Yao for being ignorant, for leaping and jumping into his world full of darkness, boring a chisel of light. That greedy and ignorant Xu Feifei was not as annoying as her!
It would be good for her to disappear from his life; then he wouldn’t be so upset.
When the two teenagers arrived home, it was already very late. When Zhao Zhilan got off work and found that her daughter hadn’t come back, she became uneasy, and wandered in front of the gate of the neighborhood.
She was planning to walk along the route to school to search, but then saw her daughter walking back together with Pei Chuan, holding an umbrella for him.
Zhao Zhilan was stunned looking at the half-wet Pei Chuan and the soaked Yaoyao; she didn’t know what to say.
After all, she was an adult. Looking at the young boy’s thin but tall back, she frowned worriedly.
Pei Chuan also saw Zhao Zhilan’s expression; he didn’t utter a word and “rudely” pushed his wheelchair to leave.
Zhao Zhilan turned her head to look at Bei Yao; the little girl explained. “I accidentally saw Pei Chuan after school, so I came back with him. Sorry, Mom, I got the clothes and shoes wet.”
Zhao Zhilan sighed and felt that she thought too much; her daughter still didn’t understand anything.
“Let’s go back and change clothes.”
Since that day, nothing has changed. Sometimes Pei Chuan would silently wait by the sofa at the door, waiting for Jiang Wenjuan to look for him, to say she couldn’t bear to leave her son, to say she regretted leaving this house.
If so, he could forgive her.
Considering she used to be a good mother.
However, from summer to winter, Jiang Wenjuan disappeared from Pei Chuan’s life.
Pei Chuan knew that she would never come back again.
But then, after a long time, his other “wish” was realized. When he went to junior high school, Bei Yao disappeared from his life.
Nowadays, Pei Haobin was the only adult at home. Pei Haobin has to go to work, and sometimes he would suddenly have an urgent task. Meanwhile, for Pei Chuan who sat in a wheelchair, going home was an inconvenience. So, he started to live at school in the first year of junior high school.
The teacher looked at him awkwardly. Should he assign other students to help him? Like going to the toilet and such.
Pei Chuan calmly said, “Teacher, I’ll live alone.”
The most remote dormitory was vacated and reserved for Pei Chuan. He got up on time every day to wash up, put his arms on the wheelchair, and then went on to head to the classroom to attend class.
Many times, the people living in the dormitory would look curiously at the “independent” Dormitory One*. However, they also knew that Pei Chuan has an indifferent personality, thus did not approach him.
*t/n: In China, they often named the buildings with numbers, like dormitory one, dormitory two, and so on.
As spring arrived and went, autumn came. Pei Chuan felt that his current life was no different from his previous one. The first lesson he got after growing up was getting used to being alone.
Pei Chuan’s “wish” was fulfilled; he would never again see that small innocent face when he would go downstairs or see those glittering almond eyes.
In August, he would also skip out on the cake she would give on her birthday.
In the two final exams, Pei Chuan was the first in the grade.
Pei Chuan’s seatmate, a man named Sun Yuan, began to speak to him on his own initiative. Before summer vacation, he sent Pei Chuan a yo-yo.
Pei Chuan accepted it indifferently.
When he came back to the neighborhood, he almost immediately saw Bei Yao.
Her slightly long hair fell loose as she was picking green onions from the garden in her house together with Fang Mingjun.
The two little girls squatted under the sun; Beo Yao held a “right moon grass” on her plump lips.
She blew it softly; her clear voice spread far away.
As a result, she turned around and saw Pei Chuan sitting in a wheelchair. Bei Yao immediately put it down and look at Pei Chuan with an 囧 (embarrassed) expression.
She greeted him hesitantly. “Are you on holiday?”
Pei Chuan had no intention to reply, but the little girl greeted him with such an unfamiliar tone, making him squeeze the yo-yo. He responded, “En.”
She smiled shyly as if she didn’t know what else she should say.
It’s not wrong. They were originally not close. When she was young, she would call him Gege with a thick face. But no matter how slow people were, after they grow up, she would know not to call someone randomly.
Two people facing each other in silence. Pei Chuan pushed the wheelchair toward the direction of his home.
After he walked far away, Pei Chuan heard them chatting. It was different from the reserved attitude with him; her laughter was clear, cheerful, and unrestrained.
His “wish” had clearly come true, but he “hated” her even more.
Pei Chuan also did not know what kind of result he wanted.
He was fourteen this year, he was going to be in the second year of junior high school soon.
Before the summer vacation ended, the girls in the neighborhood were playing jump rope in the courtyard beneath the sunny sky.
The cicadas were chirping melodiously; there was a burst of cheers from below.
Pei Chuan frowned and pulled open the window curtain, then he saw Bei Yao somersaulting.
Her somersault was clumsy, not flamboyant and kicking like a boy. The little girl first put her hands on the ground then used the power of one leg to jump over the rubber band. Although she was clumsy, she was full of vitality under the sun—full of youthful vigor.
When she turned over, the girls laughed.
Her own clothes were flipped, revealing a white, tender, and slender waist.
The baby fat on her face hasn’t disappeared, but that slender curve of her waist was graceful, and the arc was extremely beautiful.
Pei Chuan expressionlessly draw the curtain.
When Pei Chuan was in his second year of junior high school, Bei Yao just started her junior high. This year, it was convenient for children to go to junior high school. They would go to the nearby school, and most of them would not go to the city. So, Pei Chuan and Bei Yao once again attended the same school, only that he had always been one year older than her.
The yo-yo was flung by Pei Chuan randomly; his fingers were nimble and he could play different tricks.
Occasionally, his seatmate, Sun Yang, would take the initiative to talk to Pei Chuan. Although Pei Chuan was indifferent, Sun Yang was a talkative person and didn’t care about his indifference. Over time, Pei Chuan would sometimes respond to him.
Some men in the second year of junior high have entered a period where their voices changed; they also started to enthusiastically discuss some gossip.
“Have you heard? Zeng Ziwen and Cao Fangfang in Class 3 are dating.”
“Are you for real? They sure have big guts.”
“It’s true. I heard someone say that they were kissing in the sports field after school.”
Sun Yuan heard this and laughed mysteriously; his coarse and mischievous laughter was awful to hear. He muttered that he wanted to check it out after school.
Sun Yuan turned his head to look at his seatmate. When he was enthusiastically discussing about ‘first love’, his seatmate was like an old monk, seriously working on physics problems that would only be taught in the beginning of third year.
Cold and expressionless.
Sometimes Sun Yuan would wonder. How can a person have such a low curiosity?
But that night, Pei Chuan had a dream.
In the dream was the sports field in their school. The sky was dark; it was windy but not cold. There was no one around. His legs seemed to be good and he could stand up. The surrounding was quiet, it was only him and a girl under him.
Her cheeks were rosy. She had a pair of clear, watery eyes that looked like a smile yet not a smile, still as innocent as before. The little girl gently stroked his chin with her fingers, turning her head to look at him.
The knot in his throat was moving, and his suppressed emotion gushed out.
No matter how he tossed and turned, it was not enough.
What abstinence, having no interest, or indifference? It all has nothing to do with him. He crawled on her body, clasping that pair of small hands tightly, and expressed his desires in a crazy and controlling manner.
The school’s wake-up bell at dawn woke him up.
Pei Chuan sat up on the cramped bed, looked at his wet pants, and laid back in silence.
Pei Chuan smiled bitterly.
The sky was bright outside, while the walls in the school were soundproofed. People got up one after another. Someone bumped on something and a clanking sound ensued. The voices outside were chaotic, but not as chaotic as his mind. This dream shattered his long-term self-deception—he liked her very much.
His first love was her.
What “hate”? That uncontrollable mess in his heart when he was young was just the beginning of human beings’ recognition of feelings.
Pei Chuan laid on his bed unmoving; he seemed like a person on the verge of death, gasping for breath.
The students who lived in school had to go out for a morning run, but he didn’t need to. So, he came dozens of minutes later than the crowd.
He was thinking of the Bei Yao in his dream.
That was her, and it was not her. That proactive and passionate girl was perhaps what he has always longed for her to do for himself. He fantasized about a girl who liked him, the way a woman likes a man, adoring him. Not sympathy but a kind of tender feeling caused by the release of seductive hormones.
How ridiculous. He thought he hated her, but when she hooked her finger in the dream, he would pounce on her without restraint.
Pei Chuan did not “hate” her anymore; the one he should loathe was always himself.
When Pei Chuan was in his second year, thanks to his seatmate who liked to gossip, he heard about Shang Mengxian.
On the road of growing up, sometimes people would have curiosity about feelings and sexuality.
A good-looking girl would also become the object of secret discussion for the boys in the class, just like when boys were bored enough to compare sizes.
Sun Yuan said, “Do you know senior sister Shang Mengxian in the third grade? I heard that she plays very loosely, sometimes she even dates someone from outside. She has big guts. But she’s very pretty and good at makeup. Her makeup is very good, unlike our class Chen Lian’an, who’s hard to look at.”
Pei Chuan always never bothered with people who have nothing to do with him, so he didn’t say anything after he heard about this.
Until Shang Mengxian found him.
Sometimes, she would wear short skirts and jog back with him to the dormitory.
Sometimes she would deliberately say something to praise him, such as good grades, handsome, etc.
This teenage girl was clever. She had many interactions with men and knew that men have their own self-esteem, and are proud; they like to hear people say words of worship.
However, this trick did not work on Pei Chuan. He looked at her coldly as if watching a clown jumping around.
What proudness? His already died since he was a child, not even one was left.
Shang Mengxian’s attitude was very ambiguous, as if she firmly believed that boys this age were easy to tease and seduce. She would sometimes give him chocolate and then a collection of love poems on another time.
From the start, Pei Chuan’s attitude was full of refusal. But Shang Mengxian had long legs, no one could stop her if she wanted to follow him.
Shang Mengxian was a little angry and felt that she had no face.
Her friend said, “Hey, you haven’t hooked that one who’s in a wheelchair? How long has it been? Didn’t you say that once you show that you’re interested in him, he will hold on to you tightly?”
Shang Mengxian gritted her teeth. “He’s probably embarrassed ba.”
She made up her mind. She must quickly “capture” this insensitive person.
When young, Shang Mengxian regarded a disabled person as an interesting and novel game, cruel but unaware.
This evening, when Shang Mengxian and Pei Chuan walked to the dormitory, she intentionally ate a lollipop then stopped Pei Chuan. She put on makeup. But what kind of money did girls in this era have? Their cosmetics were of inferior quality.
The teenager was sitting in a wheelchair, coldly watching what kind of trick she wanted to play.
Shang Mengxian took out the lollipop in her mouth and quickly touched the teenager’s lips. “Sweet or not?”
Regardless of where she learned this flirting technique, Pei Chuan tightly held on his wheelchair, and his gaze suddenly turned cold.
There was a burst of waves in his stomach; he suddenly stretched out his hand to pinch Shang Mengxian’s chin.
The young boy’s slender hand was like iron tongs, and Shang Mengxian screamed in pain on the spot. She saw that the young man’s eyes were cold, like the snow in January—without a drop of emotion. It was different from the him in her imagination that would blush. His eyes were full of an explosive of anger that wanted to burn her alive.
Shang Mengxian was finally afraid. The lollipop fell to the ground. She desperately tried to remove his hand.
Seeing the situation, her friend came to rescue Shang Mengxian.
She saw that the three-finger imprints on Shang Mengxian’s face had become bruises.
The two only dared to curse Pei Chuan from far away as they were so scared, and ran away blindly.
Pei Chuan returned to the dormitory and washed his face many times.
He looked at himself in the mirror then slowly showed a mocking and disgusted expression.
However, this matter was not finished yet. Shang Mengxian enjoyed the pursuit of men and was accustomed to being high above others. The previous scene simply gave her a slap in front of her good friend.
The next day, the rumor that Pei Chuan shamelessly pursued Shang Mengxian spread all over the school.
No matter where he went, he would hear murmurs and ridicules.
Sun Yuan looked at Pei Chuan with complicated eyes but did not speak.
Since that day, Pei Chuan was retaliated against by Shang Mengxian’s “pursuer”. Shang Mengxian let out words that Pei Chuan was pestering her, and it made her nauseous. In order to prove his loyalty and bravery to the person he liked, the impulsive and immature teenager secretly beat Pei Chuan. Pei Chuan curled up on the ground, silently covering his head; his eyes were silent like an eternal night.
Sometimes, people would throw garbage in Pei Chuan’s drawer, but he would only clear out the rubbish and wouldn’t say anything.
Once, they even put a king rat snake. Pei Chuan took the king rat snake out of his drawer. He pinched the 7 inches snake with ruthless force; the snake twisted and turned until it had no more breath.
The whole class witnessed it; there was a burst of exclamation.
Pei Chuan looked around; his gaze was cold.
The two boys in the back row met his gaze then turned their heads, acting as if nothing happened. From that day on, no one would find trouble with him. Bullying the weak and fearing the strong was the instinct of most people, even Sun Yuan stayed away from him, never talking to him anymore.
Pei Chuan sneered.
Before being promoted to third grade, he contacted his “old acquaintance”.
The “old acquaintance” thanked him for providing Ding Wenxiang’s information, so he let Ding Wenxiang learn a lesson. This time, Pei Chuan knocked on the wheelchair and asked indifferently, “Are you interested in Shang Mengxian from the third-year of junior high?”
That person said something, but Pei Chuan said ruthlessly, “No, wait until she graduates before doing it. No need to force her, just temptation is enough.”
Later, Shang Mengxian who had graduated from junior high school was heard running away with someone.
Many years later, someone saw her in an entertainment club; she was willing to do anything to indulge in luxury.
This year, Pei Chuan was preparing for the college entrance examination. He would sometimes look at the bright sun in the sky then cover his eyes. Something that felt extremely warm when he was a child was now something that pricked his eyes.
One time, when he took his lunch box and pushed the wheelchair from the cafeteria toward the dormitory, a white and brand new shuttlecock fell in his arms.
The shuttlecock bounced in his lunch box, and he held it in his palm.
Pei Chuan raised his eyes and saw a group of embarrassed girls who didn’t know what to do.
Then, he saw Bei Yao.
Because of playing in the heat of autumn, she was sweaty; the legs of her trousers were rolled. She looked back at her friends, hardened her scalp*, and walk toward Pei Chuan.
*t/n: Hardened one’s scalp means to reluctantly do difficult things.
He didn’t throw it back. He pinched the shuttlecock and waited for her to come over.
He hasn’t spoken with her for too long.
The little girl asked timidly, “Did it hit you? I’m sorry. Can you return the ball to us?”
She came closer. He could smell the fragrance of her body; it was not the milky smell when she was a child, but a light lilac.
The girl’s voice was not full of milky smell like when she was a child, but it possessed the gentleness of the March’s spring breeze.
As a southerner, the girl’s voice was gentle.
He stretched out his hand; the white shuttlecock was lying in his palm.
Pei Chuan did not say a word, and just watched her quietly. Bei Yao was a little nervous and took the ball from his palm. Her fingertips were soft. When she unintentionally touched his palm, Pei Chuan’s fingers trembled, and he said in a low voice, “No problem.”
After all, they were neighbors. Bei Yao smiled at him. “Thank you.”
She ran back and continued to play badminton with her friends.
He looked at her lively and lovely back. For the first time, he seriously thought, When did she start to alienate him? If he took over the umbrella in sixth grade, would things be different?
However, the past was the past, no regret could be said.
He rubbed his palm and pushed the wheelchair away.
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