Chapter 199: Commemoration photographs
Xu Tingsheng borrowed Fang Yuqing’s car, and Fang Yuqing borrowed someone else’s car.
There was a saying such as this. Amidst a societal structure which had already basically stabilised, a few generations of hard work would be required for a family to truly climb up from the bottom to the higher rungs of society.
This could be witnessed from the current ‘ecology’ here. These people were all still Fang Yuqing’s connections at the end of the day. He had been in this social circle ever since his birth.
As opposed to this, Xu Tingsheng had experienced a life in which he had been completely unable to associate with people of this level at all. Having risen to prominence following his rebirth now, he still needed to find a way to seek out a position for himself at such a level.
From this, it could be seen that Huang Yaming and Tan Yao were actually people who were comparatively more resilient as well as ambitious. It actually wasn’t easy for them to be navigating such a social circle at all.
Xu Tingsheng had not tried to find a way to get Xiang Ning to leave before this, having allowed her to watch on till now. To put it simply, while he didn’t dare to let her see violent, gory scenes, Xu Tingsheng hoped that she could witness how ‘the bad bullies themselves were bullied back.”
Xu Tingsheng did not want her to grow fearful and cowardly because of this.
Therefore, he had to give her a reason as well as confidence not to be afraid.
“Still feeling scared?” Xu Tingsheng asked her gently.
“I’m not scared,” Xiang Ning pointed at Xu Tingsheng, shaking her head.
Xu Tingsheng looked down at the flip phone in her hand that had already broken into half. When the hooligans had been getting beaten up earlier, she had tried to call the police. In the end, her handphone had been snatched and flung to the ground by that woman, thus having broken.
After learning this, Xu Tingsheng hooked Xiang Ning’s nose with a finger, “Oh no, look. You’ve been bullied again.”
Xiang Ning swivelled her head away, impatiently evading Xu Tingsheng’s finger as she called earnestly, “Xu Tingsheng.”
Unexpectedly, Xiang Ning had not called him Uncle this time. She had actually called him directly by his name for once.
“Huh?” Xu Tingsheng asked in puzzlement.
“Xu Tingsheng, can you not treat me like a child like this? I’m already 1.61m now; I’ll be sixteen in another half year’s time…you’re only five years older than me,” After saying so, she looked at the broken phone in her hand, still being unable to keep the tears from glistening within her eyes as she felt wronged, hurt.
Xu Tingsheng’s attention was not on Xiang Ning’s words. Instead, it was on her wronged face. Seeing her like this, he felt pained as well.
He had originally borrowed the car intending to send Xiang Ning and Su Nannan back home. This current situation caused him to change his mind, saying to those hooligans who were still standing by the side, not knowing whether or not they should leave.
“You lot send Su Nannan back home safely. Nannan, send teacher a text after you get home.”
After saying so, Xu Tingsheng gave Su Nannan his handphone number.
The hooligans hurriedly acquiesced respectfully, especially the one who had called him ‘trash’ earlier. He had originally thought that he was going to die for sure. Now that Xu Tingsheng did not pursue things, allowing them all to leave, they were naturally incomparably happy to listen obediently to him and send Su Nannan home.
Xu Tingsheng turned back and told Xiang Ning, “Hold Dongdong properly.”
Then, he crouched down, wrapped his right arm below Xiang Ning’s knees and lifted her up with a single arm just like that, smiling, “Look at this crying face of yours. Come on, let’s go get you a new phone before I send you home.”
He decided that he would definitely spoil her well and properly today…things had been tough on her for so long because of him.
Xiang Ning shifted her body and struggled back down to the ground, insisting stubbornly, “Xu Tingshehng, I already said that you’re not allowed to treat me like a child anymore.”
Then, she tugged on a corner of Xu Tingsheng’s sleeve, drawing closer. She said ‘let’s go’ before being ‘led’ along just like that.
Zhong Wusheng asked Fang Yuqing, “Who’s that girl?”
Not having seen how Xu Tingsheng had lifted Xiang Ning up, Fang Yuqing said nonchalantly, “It should be one of the students from his training institute. She’s probably scared…or she could be Xiang Ning’s student, and he’s loving everything of hers along with her as well!”
Xu Tingsheng flung the Golden Retriever Dongdong onto the back seat before opening the front door and letting Xiang Ning sit in the main passenger seat. Then, he walked around the front of the car and got into the driver’s seat before then driving off into the distance.
Not far away, two people had witnessed this entire process.
Mr and Mrs Xiang had received a call from Xiang Ning as well. They had rushed home from the village hometown where Xiang Ning’s maternal grandmother lived. They had arrived just in time to witness that final scene where Xiang Ning had walked away clutching Xu Tingsheng’s sleeve. Then, Xu Tingsheng had brought Xiang Ning onto one of those luxurious cars, driving her away.
Then, the remaining ten odd luxurious cars had successively driven off, all their occupants clearly being wealthy young people.
Not far away, there were still more than forty armed robust men in black T-shirts whom ordinary citizens usually weren’t even willing to go near to. From just a single look at them, it was clear that they weren’t the ‘good guys’.
Then, over a dozen people with their faces all bruised and full of blood were dragged onto a van and taken away.
Mr and Mrs Xiang being ordinary citizens, they were somewhat unable to come to terms with what was happening before them. That Xu Tingsheng whom they had originally thought themselves to be so familiar with, who had always been so steady and dependable as they felt assured leaving things to him…had suddenly turned into another person, someone who felt so like a stranger to them.
Mrs Xiang thought of what that niece of hers who was a policewoman had said back in Xihu City, “Someone like Xu Tingsheng being a home tutor to Xiang Ning isn’t normal at all. It just can’t be explained away no matter what.”
Her words seemed to be corroborated by what had just unfolded before their eyes.
Mrs Xiang tugged worriedly at Mr Xiang’s sleeve, “What do we do?”
“We’ve been around Tingsheng for almost half a year now. Firstly, he’s definitely not a bad kid. He treats us and Little Ning like family…he’s definitely done this for the sake of protecting Little Ning,” Mr Xiang sighed, “But…”
But he did not continue his sentence.
Xu Tingsheng bought Xiang Ning a Song S700C phone which possessed a stand.
This could be considered a phone which was currently the closest to a digital camera, especially when selfie functions had still yet to appear. The designer had installed a selfie scope at the front of the phone, allowing one’s expressions to basically be visible when they took photos.
Xiang Ning happily played with the handphone for a long time, only unwillingly letting go of it when the sales assistant was helping her to install her phone card.
After Xu Tingsheng had paid for it, the sales assistant handed the phone with the phone card installed over to Xiang Ning.
She handed it back, saying, “Help us test out the photograph function.”
After saying so, she ran back over to Xu Tingsheng’s side, clasping his arm and leaning her head against it. She tilted her head slightly, smiling happily.
Taking photos? The both of them?
‘Uncle’ who disliked taking photographs had no way at all to refuse her this time round. Xu Tingsheng was trying very hard to keep his expression in check, trying to smile as brightly, warmly and handsomely as possible. Also, it would be best if he could appear a little younger, not seeming like an Uncle who had abducted a loli.
The phone rang.
The sales assistant asked, “How about you answer it first?”
Xiang Ning asked, “Who’s calling?”
“The phone’s just changed. Only the number’s shown.”
“Don’t answer it then. Hang up. The photos first.”
“One, two, three…click.”
“Another one,” Xiang Ning scooted over from the left side to the right.
“Okay, one two three…click.”
“Got it,” Xiang Ning got Xu Tingsheng to bend down, lifting her up.
After having taken around eight photographs, Xiang Ning still remained excited and in the mood.
Xu Tingsheng smiled apologetically to the sales assistant before telling Xiang Ning, “Alright, they’ve got a business to run. They can’t just keep taking photos for us. Let’s do it later.”
Xiang Ning thought, “Alright, we’ll take them ourselves then. See this mirror? We can take some by ourselves. Let’s drive over to the suburban districts. We can capture Dongdong in it as well.”
If it was selfies…that was more like how it had been before. Xu Tingsheng remembered those selfies Xiang Ning had secretly taken of them in his previous life. Those memories were like a bottle of honey, sweet whilst also like prickly spikes as they hurt…
As Xu Tingsheng was in a daze, the phone rang again.
Xiang Ning picked up the call. Knowing that she was with Xu Tingsheng, Mrs Xiang did not say too much over the phone, simply asking in a severe tone for her to immediately get back home.
On her way home, Xiang Ning pondered in silence for a long time before suddenly saying in what sounded like a question to Xu Tingsheng whilst also like she was talking to herself, “Do you know, Xu Tingsheng? My Dad’s actually five years older than my Mum. My cousin’s even more remarkable, her husband being a whole seven years older than her. Then, there’s still…”
Xiang Ning tried hard to laugh as she pretended that she was really just bringing up a novel, interesting topic of conversation.
Xu Tingsheng seemed to hear a little something from her words, but had no way to respond. Thus, he remained silent.
“Xu Tingsheng, what do you think little dogs become when they’ve grown up?”
“What about Xiang Ning when she’s grown up?”
They had taken commemoration photographs today. It was just like those which Xu Tingsheng had relied upon for three years in his previous life as a container for his memories. Perhaps it had been the same for Xiang Ning as well.