The incident of leaked midterm exam questions was thoroughly investigated for half a month. Nie Qingzhou was called in for questioning several times, but eventually, things quieted down. Not long after, news broke that the cheaters had been caught and given a demerit penalty. Considering the student's protection, the school did not announce the names and classes of cheaters.

Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning were indignant about this. Zhang Yukun, known as the most well-informed in Changchuan, was always lurking around the Grade One teaching and research area, hoping to overhear any genuine information. Lai Ning couldn't lie, so whenever Nie Qingzhou saw that Zhang Yukun wasn't around, he would question Lai Ning, and without fail, he spilled the beans. Nie Qingzhou would then have to rush to the office area to drag Zhang Yukun back.

One Friday afternoon, Nie Qingzhou spotted Zhang Yukun loitering near the office and patted his back, saying, "Yukun, you're so righteous. I'm genuinely thankful for that. But this matter has turned over now. Regardless of who stole the questions, I'm not concerned anymore."

Zhang Yukun stiffened his neck and said angrily, "How can that be done?! Last time when we were playing basketball, those jerks from the Experimental Class were insinuating that you cheated. Why should that brat be allowed to tarnish your reputation by stealing the questions?"

"I don't care, really. After all, even if I jump into the Yellow River, I won't be able to wash myself clean. So, why bother? Let me just soak in the Yellow River. Moreover, I'll have plenty of chances to prove myself in the upcoming monthly and final exams. But for the person who stole the questions, if you were to publicly expose his name within the grade, how could he continue to live? A sixteen-year-old kid strayed off the path, lacking mental resilience. What good would come out of tormenting him?" Nie Qingzhou used his arm to clamp around Zhang Yukun's neck, pulling him away from the teachers' office.

"But I heard something useful today!" Zhang Yukun struggled with all his might.

"Do you know who the person that stole the questions is?"

"I don't know, but I know who's been pouring dirty water on you!"

Splashing dirty water? Aren't all the students in our grade doing that to me?"

"No! I mean the guy who lied about you sneaking into the office!"

Surprised but intrigued, Nie Qingzhou loosened his grip on Zhang Yukun. Zhang Yukun managed to break free and stood before him, rolling up his sleeves. "It's that wretched jerk Big Goose."

The string of animal names left Nie Qingzhou momentarily puzzled, then he asked, "You mean Wen Zhong?"

Zhang Yukun nodded vehemently and pointed to the classroom, saying, "Just under the third window from the bottom, I overheard the Class One homeroom teacher and Gao Juanmei discussing this. Gao Juanmei said, 'Didn't Wen Zhong say he saw Nie Qingzhou that night?' and the Class One homeroom teacher replied, 'It was dark that night, Wen Zhong might have mistaken.' Pooh! What a mistake! I bet Wen Zhong is jealous that you took his top spot, so he framed you!"

Squinting his eyes, Nie Qingzhou's gaze turned icy. Zhang Yukun, brimming with excitement, said, "How about it, Zhou Ge? Shall we confront Wen Zhong? We must teach him a lesson. I haven't seen you beat someone up..."

Nie Qingzhou couldn't help but smile wryly. He could only pull Zhang Yukun back to the classroom upstairs. Zhang Yukun was eager to try all afternoon, always ready to go to Class One and settle scores. Unfortunately, Nie Qingzhou managed to firmly hold him down.

Even by the weekend, Zhang Yukun still couldn't let it go. While the three of them were waiting for the bus to the court, Zhang Yukun held the basketball and complained to Lai Ning, "Big Goose is so insidious, and Zhou-Ge won't let me tell anyone. How can we allow ourselves to be bullied like this?"

Nie Qingzhou was dressed in a smoky gray hoodie, fiddling with the wristbands on his hands. These items were a legacy from the past, remnants of his former self. "Nie Qingzhou" spent all his pocket money on these things.

"What difference would it make if I speak out? Everyone now believes I stole the exam papers. If you mention that Wen Zhong saw me entering the office that day, won't it only further solidify my suspicion, right? Everyone will doubt me. Who would suspect him of lying?" Nie Qingzhou remained composed, and added, "But this can't continue. This way he will harm others as well as himself. I will go to him to deal with it myself."

"Give him a good beating!"

"There are plenty of ways to make someone uncomfortable without resorting to violence."

"Wen Zhong!"

"I know about Wen Zhong's situation..."

Anxiously, Lai Ning tugged at Nie Qingzhou's arm and pointed not far away, saying, "Look! Wen Zhong is over there!"

Nie Qingzhou and Zhang Yukun immediately turned their heads. Through the myriad of heads of varying heights, on the other side of the station, stood a slightly short handsome young man wearing a white shirt and a gray windbreaker. Next to him was a tall and slender girl in a black sports jacket and matching black pants.

"Xia Yi? Why is Xia Yi here too?" Nie Qingzhou's attention rested on Wen Zhong for only a moment before shifting to Xia Yi next to him.

Zhang Yukun's eyes darted around as he made a bold guess, "It's the weekend, and they're meeting up alone. Do you think they're... on a date?"

After saying that, both Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning turned their gaze towards Nie Qingzhou in unison, as if in their eyes, Nie Qingzhou's head had already been crowned with an imaginary green hat.

Unaware of their speculation, Nie Qingzhou's expression changed when he heard Zhang Yukun's words. Seeing a bus approaching, Xia Yi and Wen Zhong followed the flow of people, apparently preparing to get on the bus. Nie Qingzhou hurriedly waved at Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning, saying, "I won't go play today. Sorry, guys, go ahead without me!"

Having said that, he dashed over, entering the crowd waiting for the bus. As the bus doors opened, a swarm of people surged onto it. Xia Yi and Wen Zhong stood near the front of the queue, and after boarding the bus, they made their way to the back. Meanwhile, Nie Qingzhou ended up at the back of the line. Once on the bus, he could only stand near the front, watching the two of them from a distance.

Wen Zhong occasionally said something to Xia Yi, and she would respond. Perhaps due to the bus's noise, Xia Yi would lean slightly towards Wen Zhong when speaking, creating an air of intimacy between them.

Watching this scene, Nie Qingzhou's irritation grew, resembling an old father witnessing his cabbage being eaten by a pig.

In fact, he didn't have any bias against puppy love. After all, who hadn't experienced the stirrings of youth? Even during his high school days, he had a crush on a girl from his class. However, Wen Zhong had a poor character, he was arrogant and overly competitive, fabricating lies to slander others just to secure the top spot. Individuals like him tend to go to extremes like ticking time bombs. If it were to blow up on him, that wouldn't be a big deal, but if it were to affect Xia Yi…

Nie Qingzhou involuntarily clenched his fist. With each passing thought, Nie Qingzhou's concern grew more profound, resembling a villain preparing to raise a big stick, ready to beat a pair of mandarin ducks.

He kept his eyes on Wen Zhong and Xia Yi. When they reached their stop and got off, Nie Qingzhou followed suit, keeping his distance as he trailed behind them. After taking just a few steps, he heard two small calls from behind, "Zhou-Ge! Zhou-Ge!" Startled, Nie Qingzhou turned around and saw Zhang Yukun holding a basketball and Lai Ning who was waving with his waist bent.

...How did those two follow me?

The two of them caught up with Nie Qingzhou in a few steps. Lai Ning's gaze remained fixed on Xia Yi and Wen Zhong in the distance as he whispered, "Let's go, let's not lose track of them."

"What are you guys doing here?"

Zhang Yukun patted Nie Qingzhou's shoulder with an experienced old man look and said, "Ai, Zhou-Ge, to be honest, we've known it for a while now. We've been waiting for you to tell us yourself, but you've been too shy to mention it."

"...mention what?"

"Zhou-Ge, during this time, why do you seem to be a different person during this period of time, ah? You're studying diligently, quit smoking, avoid fights, refrain from swearing, and even care about your appearance. In fact, we all know the reason behind all this." Zhang Yukun spoke earnestly, "You don't need to carry any burden. We'll help you keep it a secret."

Nie Qingzhou felt inexplicably guilty. He thought that even if Zhang Yukun had a vivid imagination, he wouldn't be able to imagine that he was someone from the future. He didn't understand what Zhang Yukun was talking about.

"What secret? What reason?"

"Oh my, isn't it about you pursuing Xia Yi?"

In an instant, Nie Qingzhou's expression took on an interesting hue, and he uttered, "Me, pursuing Xia Yi?"

"Yes, Zhou-Ge, we've seen your feelings for Xia Yi. Truly, it's been deeply touching. Don't worry, we'll support you! What kind of green onion is Wen Zhong? We will definitely help you snatch your wife back!" Zhang Yukun clenched his fist with determination, his face resolute.

Nie Qingzhou chuckled helplessly, shaking his head like a rattle, "No, no, no, you've got it all wrong. I don't have that kind of intention towards Xia Yi."

"Come on, Zhou-Ge, don't be so shy."

As Nie Qingzhou was about to explain, Lai Ning rushed back from ahead, sweaty and anxious, "Why are you guys moving so slowly? I just saw Wen Zhong and Xia Yi enter the bookstore!"

Nie Qingzhou set aside the explanation for now. He turned and followed Lai Ning, running all the way to the bookstore at the end of the street, taking a right turn.

Having just traveled on a bus, they had left Changchuan County and arrived in the city center of Yuping. This bookstore was the largest in Yuping, and on weekends, it attracted quite a crowd. Nie Qingzhou, Lai Ning, and Zhang Yukun navigated through the crowds, searching for the figures of Wen Zhong and Xia Yi.

As they searched, Lai Ning commented, "These Xuebas are different, huh. They choose a place like a bookstore for their date."

Zhang Yukun nudged Lai Ning with his elbow and quipped, "Cut it out, your mouth is a troublemaker. You're just saying whatever makes Zhou-Ge uncomfortable."

"...I'm not into Xia Yi." Nie Qingzhou clarified once again.

"Alright, Zhou-Ge, then what are you doing now if you're not interested in Xia Yi? Don't be shy about it."

Nie Qingzhou rubbed his temples, feeling that reasoning was futile.

The bookstore had three floors. They searched for quite a while before finally spotting Xia Yi and Wen Zhong on the second floor in the educational materials section. Xia Yi held two green study guides in her hands while Wen Zhong squatted on the ground, pointing at the lowest shelf. He looked up and said something to Xia Yi, who nodded and then, he took out a blue-covered book and held it in his hand.

Those two individuals wandered around the bookshelves, while Nie Qingzhou and his companions lurked not far away in the children's literature section, discreetly observing. Lai Ning whispered, "You know, apart from their height, those two seem pretty compatible in other ways."

This comment elicited eye rolls from both Zhang Yukun and Nie Qingzhou.

Nie Qingzhou whispered to Zhang Yukun, "Do you have a good method to ruin their date?"

Zhang Yukun leaned in closer to Nie Qingzhou. "Actually, I do."

"What method?"

"It's too late to go into detail now. Zhou-Ge, be prepared."


Nie Qingzhou felt a push at his waist, and he was pushed out and collided with a bookshelf, emitting a "bang". Dazed, he stood in his place and turned around to see Xia Yi and Wen Zhong not far away, looking at him while holding study guides.

Zhang Yukun whispered from behind, "Quick, say hello!"

...Was this what he meant by a good method?

Nie Qingzhou gritted his teeth inwardly, swiftly adjusting his expression to feign surprise and smiled, "What a coincidence, you're also here."


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