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Striving for Science

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Chapter 3: Dao Nian

"Shan-Ge, this kind of tender and thin-skinned nerd is almost blind without his glasses. Not to mention letting him beat you, I'm afraid he doesn't even dare to walk alone." The green-haired gangster stepped on the glasses that had fallen to the ground, grinding them with his foot. Smirking with pride, he said, "If you don't have the ability, don't show off by trying to be a hero to save the beauty."

Hearing the uproarious laughter and taunting of these gangsters, Ding Yang couldn't bear it anymore. He clenched his fist, ready to strike back. But as he took a step forward, someone grabbed his arm. He looked back and saw that it was Shen Changan.

"Changan..."

Shen Changan shook his head at him and slowly rolled up his sleeves, revealing his fair arms. "It's rare to have someone willingly ask me to beat him up. How can I not satisfy his request?"

"Yo ho?!" The thug called Shan-Ge felt provoked by these words. He turned to his cronies and said, "Brothers, let's give him some color to see. If we don't beat him to meow, I'm afraid he still doesn't know that heroes have to pay a price to save the beauty."

Shen Changan chuckled. His eyes, black and white, stared at Shan-ge like a good well-behaved boy who didn't know the world. Brother Shan tilted his head, ignoring the thin wisp of guilt in his heart, signaled his little brothers to make a move.

"Changan, be careful!" Ding Yang anxiously watched as the green-haired gangster tried to kick Shen Changan. Before he could react, he saw Shen Changan reach out and effortlessly grab the thug's leg as if holding a carrot.

A swift hand chop landed on the green-haired thug, who let out a pained scream and fell to the ground. Shen Changan glanced at the writhing thug with a hint of apology in his smile. "Sorry, it's been a while since I fought someone. I underestimated my strength. Please bear with me."

The thugs: "..."

Xu Ze and Ding Yang, who were about to help Shen Changan in the fight: "..."

"You sons of bitches, don't pretend to be a bussy in front of Laozi." Shan-Ge turned to his lackeys. "Are you all pigs? Let's attack him together."

Finally realizing the situation, the thug lackeys roared and charged at Shen Changan. Soon, Ding Yang and Xu Ze witnessed how these fierce thugs, in front of Shen Changan, were being toyed with in his hands. He single handedly knocked one down with one hand while kicking a pair on the other end. Within a few minutes, all the thugs were sprawled on the ground.

"En?" Shen Changan smiled, looking at the only one standing, Shan-Ge. "Do you still want me to come beat you? I'm a person who loves to help others. Since you made a request, it wouldn't be nice if I didn't fulfill it."

"I think... occasional change of heart is quite good," Shan-Ge swallowed nervously, trembling as he looked at his fallen lackeys rolling on the ground. "Brother, we were wrong. We promise never to harass women again. Please spare us."

"Trusting a man's words is not as good as believing in seeing ghosts in broad daylight," Shen Changan sighed. "Or should I go ahead and give you a good beating?"

"Little Brother (Xiǎo gē), no, it's big brother (dàgē)! I have a seventy-year-old mother to take care of at home. Please spare me," Shan-ge quickly admitted his mistake. "If I dare to harass women again, let... just let my little brother rot."

Ding Yang couldn't help but squeeze his legs together. This guy was ruthless, able to make such a vow.

"You mentioned something about how you would beat me into what kind of appearance?" Shen Changan still had a smile on his face. "Could you say it again?"

Shan-Ge's face turned from white to green, then red. After a long pause, he lowered his head and said, "Meow, meow, meow."

"What did you say?"

"I said I want to learn how to meow, meow, meow, meow, meow."

His meowing echoed in the air, leaving only his voice in the silent night.

"Come on, apologize to this lady." Shen Changan let down his rolled-up sleeves. "Our kindergarten teachers taught us long ago that we must say sorry if we do something wrong. You haven't forgotten that, have you?"

"We haven't forgotten, haven't forgotten," Shan-Ge nodded repeatedly. Even his lackeys, who were rolling on the ground, struggled to get up and apologized to Chen Panpan with dejected expressions.

Chen Panpan was initially angry and scared, but seeing the sorry state of these punks, she nearly burst into laughter.

"Remember what you said today, if you molested women again in the future..." Shen Changan glanced at their lower bodies, "...who knows, your oath might become a reality?"

Shan-Ge's face turned completely green, but he didn't dare say a word. With his lackeys in tow, he scrambled to escape.

"Wait."

Shan-Ge's shoulders trembled as he turned back to look at Shen Changan in despair. "Big brother, do you have any other instructions?"

"Medical expenses." Shen Changan placed a one hundred yuan note into Shan-Ge's hand. "You can go now."

Trembling, Shan-Ge held the hundred yuan note, feeling as if he were holding a biochemical weapon. He clenched the money and ran out without looking back, fearing that if he ran too slowly, he might lose half his life here.

Watching the figures of the gangsters fleeing desperately, Chen Panpan repeatedly thanked Shen Changan and offered to accompany him to buy a new pair of glasses.

"It's alright." Shen Changan glanced at the crushed glasses on the ground. "I have spare ones at home."

"Then let us accompany you back. It's dark at night, it will be inconvenient for you without glasses." Ding Yang finally regained his senses from the intimidation of Shen Changan. He looked at Shen Changan's not-so-muscular arms and his innocent face, his gaze filled with complex emotions.

"It's fine. My eyes..." Shen Changan scratched his head a little awkwardly. "I don't actually have myopia."

"Then why do you wear glasses?" Stunned by this answer, Ding Yang couldn't even manage his expression.

"Wearing glasses makes me look more mature." Shen Changan lifted his chin and turned his face to Ding Yang. "We're all working adults now, and it's more appropriate to appear calm and composed."

Ding Yang, Xu Ze, Chen Panpan: "..."

Is this the confidence of being favored? While others wished to appear younger, Shen Changan found himself not old enough?

"Chang-Changan, I think you're overthinking it," Chen Panpan dryly said. "Real life isn't like a novel. Wearing glasses doesn't drastically change your appearance."

Shen Changan touched his nose and chuckled. "Well then, I'll head back first. Be careful on your way."

"O-Okay," Chen Panpan waved her hand. "See you tomorrow morning."

It was only when Shen Changan had walked away that Ding Yang sighed in amazement. "I think one Shen Changan could take on five of me."

"How can you see yourself like this?" Chen Panpan furrowed her brow, disagreeing. "What made you have such a misconception? One Changan could clearly take on ten of you."

Ding Yang: "..."

These plastic-like colleagues were probably meant for daily disposable uses.

Because of this incident, Shen Changan's relationship with his colleagues became more relaxed. Within a short span of one or two weeks, he had started to consider several young colleagues as brothers, joking, bragging and hanging out together.

In the past couple of days, Xu Ze had printed a thick stack of promotional slogans. Due to a recent incident of girl child abuse in a neighboring city, the slogans on the flyers were all about "Both boys and girls are equal" and "Women can shoulder half the sky" and so on.

The sun was a bit too strong outside, so Shen Changan wore a baseball hat and rode his bicycle to distribute the flyers in various neighborhoods, occasionally chatting with the elderly residents by the way.

One elderly person noticed Shen Changan's flushed cheeks by the sun and hurried back home to fetch a bottle of chilled mineral water for him. Shen Changan wanted to say that he wasn't thirsty, but seeing the old man's enthusiasm, he reluctantly accepted it.

After some small talk, he learned that the old man lived alone, with only one daughter who was in the military and couldn't come home often.

Speaking proudly of his daughter in the military, the old man said to Shen Changan, "Back then, they used to say that daughters are meant to be married off and not as good as sons. I didn't believe it. They're all children, what difference does gender make? Look at my daughter now, so promising, serving and protecting both the family and country."

Saying this, the old man glanced at Shen Changan. "It's a pity you have myopia; otherwise, you could have joined the army too."

Shen Changan adjusted the glasses on his nose and smiled in agreement.

When he left, he glanced back and saw the old man sitting alone on a chair under a tree in the community. The shade from the tree made him appear somewhat lonely.

Put the water bottle into the bicycle basket. This bicycle belongs to Aunt Juan. Seeing that he was going out to distribute leaflets, she lent it to him to make it more convenient for him.

As he passed by a supermarket, Shen Changan noticed a man sitting in a wheelchair near the entrance of the supermarket. The disabled access ramp was blocked by an electric scooter, rendering it impassable. Shen Changan took off his cap and fanned his face, securing his bicycle with a lock by the roadside before walking towards the man.

"Sir, do you need any help?" He approached the man. The man was wearing a white shirt and black trousers. He didn't know how long he had been sitting under the sun, as his face was pale and almost transparent, but there wasn't a drop of sweat on his face.

The man slowly lifted his head, his gaze meeting Shen Changan's. He slowly raised a finger from the armrest and pointed to the inside of the supermarket.

Does he want to go inside?

It was a pity that such a handsome man not only had a leg disability but also couldn't speak. Fortunately, he could still hear what he was saying. Putting his cap back on his head, Shen Changan reached out and dragged the electric scooter aside, then pushed the man into the supermarket.

The cool air inside the supermarket brought him relief. Shen Changan lowered his head and asked the man, "What do you need to buy?"

Without lifting his head, the man extended two fingers this time, pointing towards the fruit and vegetable section.

In the end, Shen Changan pushed the wheelchair with his left hand and carried a large basket of items with his right hand, leading the man to the checkout counter. The person in front of them was a young girl who, upon seeing Shen Changan and the man in the wheelchair, stepped aside and let them go ahead to pay first.

"You don't have to, really..." Shen Changan felt embarrassed to ask a little girl to let him first.

"No, it's fine. Priority is given to the disabled." The little girl insisted, stealing a few more glances at the man in the wheelchair. She had never seen such a strikingly handsome man in her life, but unfortunately, heaven envied him and made him disabled.

The man raised his head and glanced at her with serene eyes that were as calm as water, then quickly lowered his eyelids as if he could fall asleep at any moment.

When it was Shen Changan's turn to pay, the man opened his eyes again, took out his phone, and paid the bill.

"Sir, where do you live? Let me take you back." Shen Changan hung the shopping bags on the armrest behind the wheelchair, looked at the glaring sunlight, and pushed the wheelchair into the shade.

The man stared at him for a couple of seconds, then took out a business card and placed it in Shen Changan's hand.

The business card had a black and gold design, with a name and an address printed on it.

Dao Nian.

"Dao Nian... sir?" Shen Changan saw the man nod almost imperceptibly, and took out his phone to navigate to the given address.

As a non-local person, he had to rely on navigation to barely maintain his self-esteem in terms of finding his way.

Accompanied by the emotionless voice guiding him, Shen Changan brought the man named Dao Nian into the residential area. Just as they entered the entrance of the community, he saw two men hastily running towards them.

"Dao, Dao..."

"We want to express our gratitude." One of the men quickly responded, "Sir, thank you for bringing our Mr. back. You will surely have good luck." After speaking, he walked up to Shen Changan, taking over the task of pushing the wheelchair.

Shen Changan: "..."

What a unique way to say thank you.

"You're welcome, serve the people." Seeing that these two men seemed very anxious about the man's condition, he took a few steps back. "Well, I'll be going now. Goodbye."

Dao Nian, who had been lethargic and lacking in spirit, raised his head and glanced at him when he heard that Shen Changan was leaving.

Noticing his gaze, Shen Changan waved his hand with a smile. Dao Nian silently watched him, slowly, slowly shaking his right index finger twice, then promptly closed his eyes. It was as if those few finger shakes represented his utmost enthusiasm.

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