Chapter 23: Shall we drink a little wine in secret?
The hardest thing for a 31-year-old soul stuffed back into a 19-year-old body was that resultant state of mind. Many things done naturally and without a thought by those teenagers in their prime were instead felt by Xu Tingsheng to be embarrassing.
Consequently, with regards to Xu Tingsheng’s physical appearance, other than once again possessing a youthful body brimming with vitality, there was one major change-his smile.
Now, when Xu Tingsheng smiled, a feeling of awkwardness could often be detected within, thereby giving others the feeling of him being embarrassed. In the eyes of the girls, fierce and tyrannical, yet for some reason also easily embarrassed, he was a really interesting and really cute guy together in one.
Who could know that this was actually because he was really old!
A girl he had never seen before walked over to him and asked, “Xu Tingsheng, I won a bet with my roommates. I bet that you would enter the top 20 ranks, and now they each owe me a meal. Say…would you like to eat together with us?”
Xu Tingsheng scratched his head, replying, “Next time, perhaps. I am already meeting my friends today.”
The girl nodded, “Alright then. But do remember, okay? Also, do keep it up!”
The girl brandished her small fist, and Xu Tingsheng nodded, smiling awkwardly.
A gangster-like girl walked over and asked, “Senior Xu Tingsheng, do you accept godsisters?”
“Looks like I’ve really been taken as a gangster,” Xu Tingsheng thought helplessly as he replied, “I have a real sister.”
“Huh, that’s different,” The unrefined girl cast a seductive glance at him, protesting flirtatiously, “Godsisters are different, it can’t be that senior doesn’t know this?”
“I don’t. I’m gonna eat now, bye,” Xu Tingsheng fled panickedly once more.
In his previous life, Xu Tingsheng had had experience with such matters before. Yet, now that he had returned to the identity of a virgin male, with a pubescent body and senses highly cognisant of the smell of fresh pickings, he was left particularly susceptible to his impulses.
This kind of gangster-like girl was easy for him to resist, but what about other scenarios?
“These little lasses still so young…how many tough, sleepless nights does this entail!” Xu Tingsheng was really afraid that he might not be able to hold out against such a major issue, “To guard my body as I would precious jade, or? …This is a problem that one can literally die over.”
Xu Tingsheng was ultimately unable escape this dinner, wherein while he did not have to treat an entire class’s worth of people to a meal, many more people were present this time than during lunch earlier. Fingering the 3000 dollars in his pocket, his portion of the proceeds from before, Xu Tingsheng felt that he might as well get a private room with a round table that could seat more than ten people.
All these people had been invited by Huang Yaming. Other than the original five from lunch, having been additionally invited by him were Tan Qingling, Song Ni and a few other classmates whom they were relatively closer with. On Wu Yuewei’s side, out of concern that she might be lonely, her friend who had been with her at the time had also been invited.
Wu Yuewei sat with her tablemate whom she was on the best terms with, whispering to her from time to time. Wu Yuewei had come in the spirit of bringing her confidante to meet her sweetheart. She was shy yet happy, while her tablemate had her heart fully set on observing firsthand all the charm of this Senior Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng ordered the dishes by the window. As he was about to return to the private room, someone tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hi, Ms Fang.”
Fang Yunyao stood behind Xu Tingsheng, pretending to angrily grind her teeth as she said, “Xu Tingsheng, you’re really too much.”
Xu Tingsheng asked in puzzlement, “Ms Fang, what is it?”
“After you gave that lesson, how on earth am I supposed to continue teaching your class next time?” Ms Fang sighed.
While her anger was feigned, Fang Yunyao’s words were not entirely false. At the very least, she had truly been moved. Xu Tingsheng’s interaction lesson had stirred up many emotions in her, and the pressure it had given her was equally great. While Fang Yunyao was also a rather outstanding teacher herself, Xu Tingsheng’s education philosophy that was ten years ahead of its time, his identity as a student and also the fact that that had been a lesson that had been polished countless times and won first prize in a provincial competition had together had an incomparably great impact on her that could only be imagined.
Xu Tingsheng had not considered this beforehand, and thinking about it now, it truly had caused Ms Fang a bit of trouble, also not being something that could be undone at that.
He smiled guiltily, “I feel that we students definitely still enjoy Ms Fang’s classes more, myself included.”
“Oh, right. Are you eating alone, Ms Fang? Would you like to eat together? I’ve invited a few others, and I’d like to use this chance to express to you my sincerest apologies as well.”
Xu Tingsheng brought Fang Yunyao to the private room, leading to much nervousness amongst the people inside. For instance, Huang Yaming, who was at the moment stealthily reaching for Tan Qingling’s hand under the table. For instance, Fu Cheng.
“Ms Fang, please sit there,” Xu Tingsheng pointed at the empty seat beside Fu Cheng.
He then chided Fu Cheng, “Why’re you just sitting dumbly there? Hurry up and pull out Ms Fang’s stool for her! Be a little more gentlemanly, can’t you?”
Only now did Fu Cheng recover his wits, hurriedly arranging Ms Fang’s stool for her as he appeared nervous to the point of not knowing what to do at all.
“Don’t be nervous; just treat me as you would a classmate.” As Fang Yunyao noticed Fu Cheng’s overwhelming nervousness, thinking that it was due to her status as a teacher, she smiled, trying to put him at ease.
“Don’t be nervous, don’t be nervous,” Fu Cheng buried his head and muttered.
Greatly amused, Xu Tingsheng did not continue teasing him as he turned and asked everyone, “The food has been ordered; what do you guys want to drink?”
Seeing that her entrance had resulted in a somewhat heavy atmosphere, Fang Yunyao proposed, “Didn’t you say it was a celebration? Why don’t we drink a little wine in secret? At any rate, we are in a private room and won’t be seen.”
“Great,” Fu Cheng was the first to express his agreement, for if he didn’t have some wine now, he really had no idea how he might be able to tide through this meal.
Following this, everyone else successively agreed to this proposal as well.
Seeing that Wu Yuewei too had agreed, Xu Tingsheng eyed her rather worriedly, “You can’t drink, right? Are you sure?”
“It’s my first time drinking; I’ll try,” Wu Yuewei replied, smiling.
“As I thought,” Xu Tingsheng suddenly recalled that wedding in his previous life.
Wu Yuewei had been by the side of the groom and his best men who had been helping to ‘block’ the wine, making toasts from table to table. As she was a woman, no one had really made things difficult for her, and she had drunk fruit juice all the way.
When they arrived at Xu Tingsheng’s table, the groom had introduced the table’s guests to her.
“This is my cousin,” the groom had said.
Xu Tingsheng had raised his head, and Wu Yuewei had been stunned for a while. Xu Tingsheng had been mentally prepared beforehand to see her once again after so many years, but it had not been so for Wu Yuewei. She had not known that Xu Tingsheng would be appearing at her wedding under such an identity.
Wu Yuewei had sorted out her thoughts, saying softly, “Hi, senior.”
In response, Xu Tingsheng had raised his wine glass, “I wish you…happiness in matrimony, living a long and blissful life.”
“Thank you,” Wu Yuewei had said, “I will have a glass in senior’s honour.”
Wu Yuewei had then raised the little glass in her hand, and the best man by her side had been about to pour her some fruit juice when she had moved her glass and pointed at the white wine someone else was carrying, “I’ll have that.”
Her voice had not been loud, but this had drawn the attention of the entire hall, everyone looking at this bride who had previously kept saying that she had never drunk wine before. This different treatment was really much too obtrusive.
Back then, Wu Yuewei took no notice of those gazes, raising her glass of wine and saying to Xu Tingsheng, “Thank you, senior, for attending my wedding.”
“It should be cousin,” the groom suggested by the side.
“Senior, I am downing it now, in gratitude for senior attending my wedding,” Wu Yuewei then raised her head and swallowed all the white wine in one go, the spicy and pungent aroma causing her to frown.
Xu Tingsheng could only raise his glass and drain it in in a single go.
“It turns out that the bride is so good at drinking! That won’t do, I want a toast here too!” Someone hollered.
“Over here as well!”
The rowdiness increased in volume, and just as the groom and the best men were agonising over the spot they had been put in, Wu Yuewei’s body went limp all of a sudden. The groom quickly grabbed her, drunk…collapsed with a single glass.
Xu Tingsheng stopped thinking about all that, gently saying to Wu Yuewei, “Well, you can have just a little then.”
Xu Tingsheng’s tone and the concern in his words was noticed by every person in the room.
Wu Yuewei nodded blissfully.
They ate the food and drank the wine, and the atmosphere soon became lively once more. Wine is just like that, capable of livening up originally gloomy people. If there is someone beside you who becomes gloomier the more he drinks, perhaps that which burdens his heart really is too great.
Xu Tingsheng drank quite a bit, for essentially everyone at the table had toasted him, even Ms Fang. Then there was also Yao Jing, whose expression Xu Tingsheng saw was a little desolate. He looked from her to Wu Yuewei and felt quite helpless, only able to pour a few more glasses of wine for himself.
“Yao Jing, will you consider joining our Mount Liang study group?” Xu Tingsheng asked her.
In his mind, this was the biggest compensation that he was able to offer her, for the reason of the feelings that he had for her.
Yao Jing stubbornly shook her head, “I don’t want to.”
Xu Tingsheng knew she might really have been hurt, for his earlier intimacy and concern for Wu Yuewei had indeed been too much like a boy favoring, indulging and caring for his little girlfriend.
From Xu Tingsheng’s perspective, his brief relationship with Yao Jing in his previous life had been completely ordinary. It had simply become apparent that they were not well suited for each other, and the breakup had been amicable. This all happened within a month, during which other than having held hands once, they had not even kissed or hugged. This went to say that there was no reason for Xu Tingsheng to feel guilt towards Yao Jing. Wu Yuewei though, was a different matter. What had originally just been a betrayal of her hopes amidst his insensibility of youth had grown heavy with that final glass of wine. Xu Tingsheng had not thought that she might have remembered this for so long, to the extent that she was still deeply unable to forget about it so many years later. Thus, deep in his heart, Xu Tingsheng had thereafter felt like he had let down Wu Yuewei somewhat.
Fang Yunyao noticed the strange mood hanging about the table as well. Being rather young herself, she was not as opposed to these youthful affections as some other teachers were.
She looked at Xu Tingsheng, then glanced at Wu Yuewei and Yao Jing, after which she poured a glass of wine for Xu Tingsheng, chiding, “You idiot, calling your study group Mount Liang study group, yet still daring to invite girls in? What’re you seeing our Yao Jing as? Hurry up and punish yourself with a glass.”
Xu Tingsheng hastily downed the glass, shooting Ms Fang a grateful look.
The atmosphere around the table finally became lively once more. Fu Cheng, who had been more subdued all this while, suddenly asked Xu Tingsheng about the origins of that song <<We are all good kids>>.
“Oh yes, is this song newly released? We’ve never heard it before,” The others asked Xu Tingsheng as well.
“The song hasn’t been released yet? Dang,” Xu Tingsheng actually did not know when this song had been released, having gone along with the heat of the moment and not thought about things, only now realising from everyone’s reaction that this should probably be the case.
Well, what to do?
Xu Tingsheng could only ambiguously attempt to bury the issue, “It’s a secret.”
Through a half-opened mouth, Fu Cheng uttered in a burst of inspiration, “Could it be an original work by the person who played the guitar?”
The person who played the guitar. That time when Xu Tingsheng had sung on the roof at midnight and the person who had played the guitar back then was brought up once more. Before this, Xu Tingsheng had almost already forgotten about it.
“What person who played a guitar? This song was written by him?… How talented,” Fang Yunyao asked Fu Cheng.
With Fang Yunyao asking him a question, Fu Cheng naturally hid nothing, bursting out with all that he knew thoroughly and in great detail.
Now, everyone’s gazes turned towards Xu Tingsheng, the eyes bursting with curiosity.
Xu Tingsheng had absolutely no way of answering this. He didn’t know about this matter at all, and even if he did know the one who had written the song, he still wouldn’t have been able to reveal it.
“This is also a secret,” Xu Tingsheng said.