The two hit it off immediately, and together with Shen Xu who insisted on coming no matter what, the three got on a taxi and went directly to the Zhonghai Opera House.
The time when school was over everyday was also the rush hour for getting off work. The taxi was stuck on the road for nearly half an hour, and it was already past seven o’clock when the three of them were finally delivered to their destination. The performance started at 8 o’clock. After Shen Xu went to buy a ticket, Pan Liuyi took them to a nearby restaurant, and they would be just in time to enter the venue after eating.
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Jiang Chen seldom came to this kind of occasion, and sitting in the auditorium at this time, looking at the dimmed lights on the stage, was quite a novel experience.
Shen Xu’s ticket was not with them, and only Pan Liuyi was sitting next to him. When the curtain was raised, she leaned into his ear and whispered: “My little sister doesn’t seem to be sitting with us, she is up in front, I don’t know when she changed location, after the show is over, you and I will go find her together.”
Jiang Chen followed the direction her finger pointed to and his gaze paused, having seen a familiar figure unexpectedly.
Pan Liuyi thought he hadn’t found her, so she informed in a low voice, “She’s right in front, next to the boy in Chenghua’s school uniform with a very white neck. That curly haired, very cute little girl, do you see her?”
Jiang Chen moved his gaze to the right, and saw the little girl sitting next to He Qianmin, hair in a ponytail and wearing the school uniform of the attached secondary high school. She was sitting upright, and looked to be watching the performance very seriously.
His eyes flickered slightly, and he whispered: “I see her.”
Pan Liuyi nodded and sat up straight.
The ensemble on one side of the stage played the familiar Swan Lake, and the cygnets in ballet costumes entered the arena in a lively manner, dancing and leaping with the music, the ballet performance officially having begun.
Jiang Chen watched the performance on the stage seriously, but he was probably born with no artistic talent, and within a few minutes he started to become distracted, thinking about the math Olympiad questions he had just seen in the exercise book that Pan Liuyi gave him, and after solving the few problems that he saw at a brief glance in his head, his eyebrows furrowed. Part of the last problem was on the next page, and one condition was missing.
He tapped his fingers on his knees, wanting to take out the exercise book and read the entire question, but the occasion was obviously inappropriate, so he could only steady his mind and search for the answer in his mind based on the existing conditions. After following the logic in solving the problem, he gradually completed the stem of the problem, and also knew how to solve it in the end.
At the same time that Jiang Chen got the answer in his mind, the atmosphere of the music in his ears changed. He subconsciously looked up, and saw a little girl in a black tutu skirt coming to the center of the stage, jumping and turning in circles with the sound of the string music. She had a slender neck and a raised chin, appearing like an elegant black swan.
She danced to the music and the plot, and Jiang Chen’s eyes moved with her movements unconsciously. The little girl had a special kind of attraction, and every move caught his attention. Jiang Chen followed her into the plot, followed her into the climax of the story, and ended it with her. It wasn’t until the end of the stage play that the applause sounded, and he also applauded belatedly.
When he walked out of the doors of the theater, the sense of wonder in Jiang Chen’s heart had still not faded. Before, even if he wanted to relax, he seldom chose audio-visual entertainment. Whether it was movies and TV shows that the general public loved or relatively small concerts and stage plays, for him they were not as effective as playing a game of basketball with his friends or performing a difficult math calculation smoothly.
But after today, he discovered that it also felt good to completely relax the brain that had been working all the time, and devote himself to a performance.
“How was the Swan Lake performance just now?”
Finding an open place, Pan Liuyi stood on the highest step, looking for her cousin Li Xiao in the crowd, and casually asked Jiang Chen.
“This is the first time I’ve watched a ballet performance.” Jiang Chen said, “It’s unexpected and very interesting.”
Pan Liuyi turned her head, smiled and said, “Really? I didn’t know about this before, it was because Xiao Xiao’s good friend is a member of the Yan City Children’s Ballet Troupe. I watched it with her a few times before I fell in love with it. Usually when the pressure of studying is too high, I would watch a few ballet performances, and I would feel very relaxed afterwards.”
Jiang Chen nodded and smiled, handed the ticket money to Pan Liuyi, pointed to the exercise book in the bag and said, “You have already paid me for my help, so of course I should pay for the ticket myself, and this wonderful show is also worth my money.”
Pan Liuyi hesitated for a moment, but still accepted the money in the end.
The two stood on the steps and watched for a long time, but they couldn’t find Li Xiao. Pan Liuyi’s eyes kept moving through the crowd. Suddenly, having thought of something, her eyes lit up, and she said to Jiang Chen: “I know! She should have gone backstage to find her friend! Before when her friend performed, she would occasionally go backstage directly.”
Jiang Chen asked, “Do you know where the backstage is?”
“I know!” Pan Liuyi had already jumped down the steps in a hurry, and said, “I’ve been there once, it’s this way.”
Pan Liuyi successfully found the backstage of the theater, but the backstage did not allow idlers to come in and out at will, and they were stopped outside the door.
Pan Liuyi sighed and said: “I have forgotten that I was able to go in before because Xiao Xiao has a family ticket from her friend, and now I can only wait outside.” A trace of apology showed on her face: “I’m sorry, Jiang Chen. It’s already so late, yet I ask you to wait here with me.”
Jiang Chen smiled lightly: “It’s the same waiting anywhere, and your exercise book is worth it.”
Pan Liuyi burst out laughing, blinked and said, “Jiang Chen, I found that you are different from the rumors.”
Jiang Chen was a little surprised: “Rumor?”
“Yeah, don’t you know? Not only in Yan No. 1, but even our attached secondary high school has heard a lot about you. In the first year of high school, someone posted on our school forum commenting on the most handsome school hunk in Yan City No. 1 School and the number of your votes…..”
Halfway through Pan Liuyi’s words, Jiang Chen’s cell phone rang. He smiled apologetically, walked to a secluded corner, and pressed the answer button.
“Jiangzi! Why haven’t you come out yet!” Shen Xu’s voice came from the speaker: “Didn’t we agree to meet at the cold drink shop by the road?”
“Li Xiao seems to have gone backstage. Pan Liuyi and I are waiting for her outside backstage. You wait at the cold drink shop for a while, we should be there soon.”
“But after I ordered a drink, I realized that I had just spent all my money on the ticket!” Shen Xu lowered his voice, wanting to cry, and said, “Now the boss is glaring at me, probably thinking that I want to eat an overlord’s meal (TN: eat without paying), if you still don’t come, I’ll probably be dragged to wash the dishes by him! Brother Jiang! I need you! Come and save me!”
Jiang Chen laughed: “Let me tell Pan Liuyi and I’ll come over right away.”
Seeing that Jiang Chen came back not long after, Pan Liuyi asked curiously, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Shen Xu.” Jiang Chen said helplessly: “He has no money on him, and he can’t pay for the drink. I’ll go and pay for him first. Later, you can just bring Li Xiao to the cold drink shop to find us, okay?”
Pan Liuyi couldn’t help laughing, she waved her hand and said, “Go, we’ll see each other later.”
Jiang Chen nodded, turned around and walked away quickly.
Pan Liuyi smiled and looked away, and in the next moment, she saw Li Xiao appearing in the corridor. She was overjoyed, and immediately waved: “Xiao Xiao! Here!”
Li Xiao was talking to someone, when she heard a familiar voice, she looked up and asked in surprise, “Sister, why are you here?”
“I’m here to pick you up.” Pan Liuyi held her hand, and then politely greeted the others: “Hello, Uncle He, Auntie Yang, Qian Yu, your black swan this time was so beautiful!”
“Thank you, Sister Liu Yi.” He Qianyu grinned and flashed her small white teeth, the dimples on both sides of her cheeks obvious: “You came to the show too, why didn’t you come with Xiao Xiao?”
Pan Liuyi smiled and said, “I came with other friends, I didn’t tell Xiao Xiao.”
Yang Yun withdrew her gaze, and said, “The other friend you mentioned is the boy who just left?”
Pan Liuyi didn’t expect Yang Yun to interject, she was surprised for a moment before answering: “Yes.”
“Is he also a student of your school?” Yang Yun asked again.
“No.” Pan Liuyi shook her head and said, “He’s from Yan City No. 1 High School. I asked him because I wanted to…..” Halfway through explaining, she glanced at Li Xiao, and seeing that she didn’t notice anything, she breathed a sigh of relief and continued, “I had something to do with him, and I happened to have two tickets, so I had him come with me.”
“Then what’s the boy’s name, how old is he, and…”
“Mom!” He Qianyu interrupted Yang Yun and said, “If you ask sister Liu Yi like that, she will be embarrassed!”
Yang Yun was stunned, and belatedly realized that she was being very abrupt in asking questions just now, but for some reason, the moment the boy’s profile came into her view accidentally before, a very strange feeling surged in her heart. The feeling made her quicken her pace unconsciously, wanting to see the boy’s appearance more clearly.
It was just that the boy disappeared from her sight just after she took a few steps, so when she heard that Pan Liuyi knew the boy, she unconsciously asked so many questions.
“I’m sorry.” Yang Yun smiled apologetically, suppressing the strangeness in her heart and said, “Auntie asked too many questions just now, I hope you don’t mind.”
“It’s okay.” Pan Liuyi didn’t take it to heart, and said with a smile, “Auntie, you don’t need to apologize.”
He Yanfeng hugged Yang Yun’s waist, and asked gently: “Xiao Pan, how are you and Xiao Xiao going back? Do you want Uncle to drop you off?”
“No need.” Pan Liuyi said: “My friends are still waiting for me outside, Xiao Xiao and I will meet up with them later, and then go back together.”
“Okay then, be careful.”
“Okay.” Pan Liuyi and Li Xiao said goodbye together: “Goodbye Uncle and Aunt, goodbye Qian Yu.”
Out of the sight of the He family, Li Xiao pulled Pan Liuyi and asked, “Sister, why did you come to the show with people from Yan City No. 1 High School?”
Pan Liuyi froze briefly, and said vaguely: “It’s just…..I have something to do with him, and you happened to give me two tickets, so I brought him along.”
“Really?” Li Xiao was surprised: “But I never heard that you have friends from Yan No. 1 before.”
Pan Liuyi laughed twice to hide her guilty conscience: “Your sister, I am so beautiful, so I am naturally very popular. Is it that strange to have a friend from Yan No. 1.”
“Then what’s your friend’s name?”
“You’ll know it when you get there.”
Li Xiao didn’t ask any more questions. After a while, she whispered, “Sister, don’t you think Aunt Yang was a little weird just now?”
Pan Liuyi’s entire attention was already on preventing Li Xiao from guessing her purpose, so she just said casually, “What’s weird, I don’t think it’s weird.”
“Although Aunt Yang was very gentle before, she seldom asked about other people’s affairs. Qian Yu and I played together since we were young. Even if Qian Yu brought a boy home, I never saw her ask after him like this. But she asked you so many questions just now, but clearly you two aren’t even familiar with each other, isn’t that strange?”
“What’s so strange.” Pan Liuyi didn’t care much: “It’s just two or three questions. Generally, when parents see boys and girls our age standing together, they would ask a few more questions. It’s normal.”
Li Xiao was dubious: “Really?”
He Qianyu also had Li Xiao’s doubts.
As soon as she got into the car, He Qianyu said to He Qianmin who had just gone to the bathroom and didn’t see the previous scene: “Second Brother, you didn’t see it just now. Mom was very curious about the friend brought by Sister Liu Yi and asked a lot of questions!”
He Qianmin leaned back lazily, playing with his mobile phone and replied perfunctorily: “Oh, what did she ask?”
“It’s just what was the boy’s name, how old, etc. Mom has never asked others like that before.” He Qianyu emphasized: “Even when she saw you and a girl together after school, Mom never asked!”
“The friend she brought is a boy?” He Qianmin was a little surprised, but still didn’t raise his eyes: “What’s his name?”
“I don’t know.” He Qianyu was distressed and worried: “Is that boy Sister Liu Yi’s boyfriend? Second Brother, why does Sister Liu Yi have a boyfriend but you don’t have a girlfriend? Is it because your personality is too lacking, and no girl wants you?”
He Qianmin pinched the tip of her nose: “Mind your own business.”
“Hmph.” He Qianyu avoided his hand: “Your personality is definitely not as good as Sister Liu Yi’s boyfriend, and you are definitely not as good-looking as Sister Liu Yi’s boyfriend, and your grades might also not be as good as his, so all these things are why you can’t find a girlfriend.”
“I’ll treat you badly if I find a girlfriend.” He Qianmin threatened her: “When the time comes, don’t come crying to me.”
He Qianyu pulled a grimace: “You are not treating me well now.”
When the car drove out of the parking lot and was waiting to change lanes, He Yanfeng took the time to glance at his wife and saw that she was staring out the window in a daze, and wondered what she was thinking, so he couldn’t help asking: “Wife, what are you thinking about?”
Yang Yun was immersed in her own thoughts and didn’t speak. She didn’t come back to herself until He Yanfeng asked again.
“It’s nothing.” Yang Yun said thoughtfully, “I just don’t know why, but I’m a little concerned about the boy I saw just now.”
“Liu Yi’s friend?” He Yanfeng was puzzled: “I only saw his back, not his appearance. What’s so strange about him?”
“No…..” Yang Yun shook his head: “It’s just an indescribable feeling.”
He Yanfeng: “What feeling?”
Yang Yun glanced at him: “Like I said, it’s an indescribable feeling.”
He Yanfeng shrugged, and wisely stopped asking.
However, He Qianmin became a bit interested and asked, “Mom, what does that guy look like? Tell me, I have many friends in the attached secondary high school, maybe I have seen him and have an impression.”
“He’s not from the attached secondary high school!” He Qianyu said: “Sister Liu Yi said that that brother is from Yan City No. 1 High School.”
“Yan No. 1?” He Qianmin clicked his tongue: “Then I don’t know, I only know one person in Yan No. 1.”
He Qianyu was curious: “Who is it?”
He Qianmin lowered his head to play with his mobile phone, and said lazily, “Not telling you.”
When the He family’s car drove towards the first intersection of traffic lights, Pan Liuyi led Li Xiao into the cold drink shop.
There were only Jiang Chen and Shen Xu in the cold drink shop, and Li Xiao saw them at a glance, her eyes flickered between the two, curious, “Sister, didn’t you say that there is only one friend? Why are there two here. “
“It’s two people.” Pan Liuyi pulled Li Xiao to sit down on the two seats opposite, looked at the two people opposite and introduced: “This is Shen Xu, this is Jiang Chen, the one Aunt Yang saw just now was Jiang Chen, Shen Xu was waiting for us here.”
Shen Xu waved his hand to say hello, Jiang Chen raised his eyes, met Li Xiao’s gaze, smiled and said, “Hi, I’m Jiang Chen.”
Li Xiao was taken aback for a moment, then turned to look at Pan Liuyi, and then turned back: “You are Jiang Chen? The Jiang Chen who came first in the midterm exam? “
Jiang Chen pursed his lips and smiled, “Nice to meet you.”
Li Xiao nodded, said hello, then turned to Pan Liuyi, “Sister, why didn’t I know you knew Jiang Chen? How did you meet him?”
“It’s just…..” Pan Liuyi said vaguely, “Friends introducing friends, and then we got to know each other.”
“But why didn’t I know this before?”
“There are a lot of things you don’t know.” Pan Liuyi rubbed her head, not forgetting the purpose of this meeting: “How do you feel when you see him?”
Li Xiao was puzzled: “What do you mean?”
“It’s just…..he’s older than you, and it’s nothing really to supersede you on the exam ranking. You don’t have to have feelings like disappointment.”
Li Xiao shook her head: “I’m not disappointed, it’s normal that he superseded me, because next time I will definitely win against him.”
Shen Xu applauded and gave Li Xiao a thumbs up: “Ambition!” Jiang Chen also laughed.
Pan Liuyi was at a loss for a few seconds: “Then why were you unhappy these two days? Frowning every day like a little old lady.”
“I’m not unhappy.” Li Xiao lowered her head and took a sip of the milk tea: “I was thinking about one thing, a very strange thing.”
Pan Liuyi: “What’s the matter?”
“It’s…..Qian Yu’s older brother.” Li Xiao frowned, “He’s a little strange.”
Pan Liuyi: “Strange? Are you talking about He Qianmin or He Qianjian.”
“What’s so strange about him?”
“His grades are very strange.” Li Xiao recalled for a while, and said slowly: “I went to Qian Yu’s house to play, and accidentally entered Brother Qian Jian’s room, and saw the competition exercises on his desk, one of which was open. I couldn’t resist flipping through the Mathematical Olympiad tutorial, and found that he only wrote on the first few pages, and he didn’t write a single answer in the other few books…..”
Jiang Chen raised his eyes abruptly.
“What’s so strange about this.” Pan Liuyi was puzzled.
“It’s very strange.” Li Xiao looked at Jiang Chen and said, “Brother Jiang Chen, you should understand what I mean.”
Under the curious gazes of Pan Liuyi and Shen Xu, he nodded and said, “The Mathematics Olympiad tutorial is an entry-level competition question book, and it is usually used in the first year of high school.”
“Yes.” Li Xiao said: “What’s even more strange is that his problem-solving logic are a mess. It doesn’t look like that of a student in the competition class, and can’t even compare with the students with average math scores…..”
She pinched the straw and poked the pearls in the milk tea, “Actually, I didn’t think much about it at the time. I thought it might be that Brother Qian Jian gave the test book to Brother Qian Min to answer. But then I went to Qian Yu’s room and happened to hear Brother Qian Min explain a math problem to Qian Yu, and at that time I knew that the question book could not be answered by Brother Qian Min, and to be sure, I deliberately asked Brother Qian Min a question, and his answer confirmed my guess even more.”
Shen Xu didn’t understand: “You can know this too? How did you figure it out?”
Li Xiao explained: “Although there is only one standard answer to a math problem, it’s like everyone has a different way of solving a problem. A person’s mathematical thinking can be seen from the problems he does, especially when doing advanced math problems.”
Pan Liuyi was still puzzled: “But even if those questions were done by He Qianjian, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s normal to be biased in subjects. This at most proves that he is not suitable for math competitions, so maybe it’s exactly because of this he didn’t go in the first year of high school. But these do not affect that he is still the first in his year in Chenghua, after all, the college entrance examination is not just one subject.”
“This is the strange part.” Li Xiao paused, and said a little embarrassedly: “Later, because I was really curious, I ran to He Qianjian’s room and secretly found the test papers of his previous exams. There were even stranger things.”
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Li Xiao’s progressive narration aroused the curiosity of Shen Xu and Pan Liuyi, and they hurriedly asked, “What’s more strange?”
“He Qianjian’s test papers in each period of his schooling showed different ways of solving problems, not only in mathematics. I also read his Chinese reading comprehension and his previous compositions.” Li Xiao paused, and said: “Those answers didn’t seem like his thinking and problem solving skills had naturally changed over time, but it seemed as if…..as if different people answered the test questions.”