Chapter 13: She could feel his temperature.
Zhou Jingze brought her back to campus while Sheng Nanzhou and the others were already rehearsing. This was Xu Sui’s second visit to Beihang flight academy. As soon as she entered the campus gate, she came across a group who had just finished their training. They were dressed in sea-blue uniforms, appearing brave and heroic.
“Why don’t I see you wearing the pilot’s uniform?” Xu Sui asked.
Every time Xu Sui saw Zhou Jingze, he was either dressed in black or wearing a jacket. “That’s because you have bad timing,” Zhou Jingze turned his head and glanced at her; he chuckled slightly, “Why? You want to see me wearing it?”
Xu Sui met his gaze and couldn’t think of an answer for a second, stammering: “No… Sheng Nanzhou also doesn’t wear it either.”
She explained to Zhou Jingze, trying to cover it up. He was looking straight ahead, and she didn’t know if he was listening.
Suddenly, a boy rushed towards them and brushed her shoulders. Zhou Jingze raised his hand and grabbed her elbow, pulling her aside. Xu immediately froze and stood still.
Xu Sui’s chin bumped into his shoulder. The two were so close that as soon as she raised her eyes, she caught a glimpse of his sharp jawline. The arm he grabbed her with was thin and strong that she could feel his temperature. The wind blew, and she felt her heart throbbed.
“Look at the road,” he said in a low voice.
Zhou Jingze walked ahead with his hands in his pockets. Xu Sui followed behind him. Her elbow was still numb like an electric current had just touched it.
She quietly looked at Zhou Jingze’s back. Just now, her chin reached his shoulder.
When the two came to the rehearsal room, they were twenty minutes late. Sheng Nanzhou was angry that he wanted to throw his shoes at Zhou Jingze, but he didn’t dare. So instead, he told him, “After rehearsal, treat us out.”
“Okay,” Zhou Jingze replied with a nonchalant smile.
Sheng Nanzhou stood in the front of the stage and announced: “Everyone except Master Zhou, you’ve all been working hard. For this rehearsal, we’ll first practice our instrument separately, and then later, we’ll choose a song together. How does that sound?”
No one paid any attention to him.
Sheng Nanzhou cast his help-seeking eyes on Xu Sui, who said, “Okay.”
The rehearsal room was large. Xu Sui sat on the drum, turning the drumsticks in her hand, trying to familiarize herself with the feeling. Then, everyone started to practice the instruments in their hands, and she took the opportunity to listen to Da Liu’s singing while she was practicing.
Da Liu is tall and strong, with facial features that were a bit fierce. Xu Sui didn’t expect his voice to be nice and gentle.
A group of people was practicing, making different instrument sounds. Suddenly, there was a low note sound similar to the sound of a rainy day, making everyone subconsciously put down their instruments and unanimously look at Zhou Jingze, who was playing the cello. As everyone shifted to look at him, with a hint of admiration in their eyes, Sheng Nanzhou asked, “Don’t I look handsome when I play the accordion too?”
“You look like you’re playing with a mop. Do you think you’re holding Harry Potter’s broom?” Hu Xixi replied.
Xu Sui looked at Zhou Jingze’s back in a daze, who was sitting in front of her. For the first time, she could look at him openly. When they were in high school before, he was sitting in the last row. When the teacher would ask her classmate to stand up to answer the question, she would turn her head and look at that classmate.
However, she was looking at Zhou Jingze.
He was always in the center of the stage.
Not realizing when Zhou Jingze took off his jacket, he was only wearing a white shirt with his sleeves rolled up. He tilted his head against the left side of the crimson cello that was balanced between his knees. His right hand held the bow and slowly pressed it against the strings.
Zhou Jingze’s careless energy disappeared. His back was straight like the bow, and his eyes were focused, light flickering across his dark eyes.
The sound of the cello was sad yet beautiful, making people reminisce about rainy days. Xu Sui listened quietly, thinking of the first half of the second semester of high school.
It rained heavily once that fog filled the entire classroom, and even the desks were covered with water vapor. The rain was so heavy that most people stayed in school during breaks. The classroom was full of chatter, with people playing games, telling bad jokes, and doing homework.
Because of how noisy the classroom was, Xu Sui decided to go to the lecture hall to study. When passing through the corridor, she caught a glimpse of Zhou Jingze with a group of people.
He was with a few boys and one of the popular girls in school. They were sitting together, talking and laughing. Although Zhou Jingze didn’t talk much, he was still very eye-catching when he smiled during their conversation.
Unsure who started the joke between the girl and Zhou Jingze, the girl asked: “Do you dare?”
He was sitting on top of the table with his back against the wall. After hearing what she said, he slowly smiled and put his hand on the girl’s waist. Then, he started rubbing it with his palm gently.
She fluttered at his touch and laid her head on his shoulder.
He whispered something to her ear, and then there were roaring noises from the group.
Although she could only see his back, she caught a glimpse of a tattoo on the back of his hand. There was also a cello beside him, engraved with a Z.
Who else could it be besides him?
Xu Sui quickly retracted her gaze and walked to the lecture hall. She closed the door and started to review the questions she got wrong. Yet, she couldn’t focus.
It seemed that Zhou Jingze said something, and the group of people left. The classroom next door was quiet again. Just when she thought everyone was gone, there was a melodious sound of cello coming from next door.
Only Zhou Jingze was left in that classroom.
He was practicing the cello. The music seemed to calm her heart down. She picked up the test papers and notes from the table and walked towards the wall. She then sat on the ground with her back against the wall and began to do her test corrections.
She listened to Zhou Jingze practice the cello for nearly an hour. The drizzling sound of rain accompanied the music.
Those two or three months were the rainy season when the sky would be covered with a layer of mist. As long as it rained heavily, people tended to stay at school for breaks. Xu Sui would go to the lecture hall and listen to Zhou Jingze playing the cello.
It was all a matter of luck. Sometimes he would come, sometimes he wouldn’t.
Although her classmates complained about the rainy days, she enjoyed it very much.
She was willing for it to rain every day because he would be there.
Now, Xu Sui looked at Zhou Jingze’s back and thought how she could finally watch him play the cello openly.
The group of people had finished rehearsal at 7 p.m. and were about to go out for dinner. They walked out of the rehearsal hall chatting. The sky was the color of a dark blue curtain, and as the cold wind blew, Xu Sui flinched unconsciously.
Zhou Jingze was walking in the front, the dim street lamp casting his shadow.
After listening to Zhou Jingze playing the cello, Da Liu admired him even more that he kept talking about him while they were walking.
“Master Zhou, your level was like those in the National Theatre. I heard that you were going to study in Austria and pursue music. How come you changed your path?” Da Liu asked.
Xu Sui stood beside them and listened to their conversation. She was actually curious about why Zhou Jingze decided to choose aviation. He could’ve had a promising future, but he decided to major in aviation that offered him an unstable path.
Back then, Zhou Jingze’s change in decision caused a lot of commotion; no one knew why he switched.
He continued walking forward with his head lowered, scrolling through his phone. He smiled at the question but didn’t answer.
Da Liu couldn’t contain his curiosity that he looked at Sheng Nanzhou for an answer, but the latter shrugged, “Ever since I was young, I’d never been able to understand what he’s thinking. He was way too mature. If you could understand him that easily, is he still called Master Zhou?”
Zhou Jingze kicked Sheng Nanzhou, “It’s a blessing you’re not a storyteller.”
Hu Xixi agreed, “Every time I see him, I want to zip his mouth.”
When Sheng Nanzhou was about to say something, a tall boy with double eyelids came up to them. He walked up to Hu Xixi, and in a shy tone: “Um… can I have your number?”
The group stopped walking. Zhou Jingze averted his gaze from his phone and looked at the person standing next to him.
He wasn’t looking at Hu Xixi but at Sheng Nanzhou.
Since Hu Xixi was rehearsing for the band today, she wore a black jacket and black pants. She also specifically did smoky makeup for the rehearsal.
It was completely different from her usual cute self.
“Me?” Hu Xixi pointed at herself.
The boy scratched his head, “Yes, I won’t spam you at night.”
When she was about to say “Okay,” Sheng Nanzhou asked, “Buddy, are you myopic or nearsighted? Do you need me to bring you to the optometrist?”
“Have you thought about it carefully? This girl has many imperfections. Don’t be fooled by her appearance. She’s actually really dumb and ill-tempered…” Sheng Nanzhou said earnestly, citing her many shortcomings.
The boy finally left.
Sheng Nanzhou, who was standing next to her, grabbed her hand and urged: “Come on, let’s go eat.”
“Don’t touch me!” Hu Xixi raised her voice.
She shook off Sheng Nanzhou’s hand, but before he could speak, a tear fell on the back of his hand, her eyes flushed: “Do you think you know me well?”
Sheng Nanzhou panicked and took a step forward. Unexpectedly, Hu Xixi took a step back and stared at him. Her eyes were filled with grievances, “Why do you always do this? If you hate me this much, why call me for everything!”
“It’s not like that…”
Hu Xixi ran away without waiting for Sheng Nanzhou to explain. Xu Sui was worried that her first reaction was to chase after her. But before she could even take a step, someone ran in the direction Hu Xixi was headed.
“What’s the matter with them? Isn’t it usual for them to be like this?” Da Liu looked dumbfounded.
“Who knows?” Zhou Jingze smiled vaguely.
“Are we still going to get dinner then?” Da Liu asked.
Before Zhou Jingze could say “Yes,” he received a call. He walked a few steps away from them to answer it.
Two minutes later, Zhou Jingze walked back frowning, his tone a little anxious, “Something happened. I have to go.”