Chapter 30: Beginnings and ends
Fu Cheng raised his head, confessing, “Ms Fang, I like you.”
Such a story actually wouldn’t have too remarkable a continuation, even though the process of Fu Cheng’s confession was very sudden, was very astonishing, even though Fang Yunyao’s reaction and expression upon hearing his words were also very colourful.
However, at the end of the day, things would end here.
As a teacher, Fang Yunyao had her own reservations, and it was without question that she had never seen Fu Cheng as a man before. To her, Fu Cheng was but a student, but a little kid.
Meanwhile, Fu Cheng had expended all his courage in saying that one sentence.
Luckily, he could still sing.
Holding his guitar, Fu Cheng sang on the stage, “Can you let me, walk alongside you; since you say that, I can’t stop you…”
The singer was crying, and those listening were also crying.
Can you let me, walk alongside you; since you say that, I can’t stop you…
The next song was sung by Xu Tingsheng, “I actually don’t want to go, I actually want to stay; stay behind to accompany you; every spring, summer, autumn, winter…”
Everyone found this funny as their classmates said, “So it’s actually the two of you who are a couple.”
After Xu Tingsheng had finished singing, Apple approached him, whispering into his ear, “Tonight is your final chance, you know. Leave with me later?”
Xu Tingsheng said, “I wish you success in everything you do…also, your charm really is great. Grasp yourself well.”
Having said up to here, that was enough. Xu Tingsheng was not Liuxia Hui; he was in no way a saint. He wished for it as well, of course-it was a real struggle. Only due to Xiang Ning had he barely been able to hold on. Having failed Xiang Ning terribly in his previous life, this had been translated to a strong sense of responsibility as well as identity in this life.
“I belong to that little girl who’s currently still leaping happily about,” Xu Tingsheng himself sometimes found this to be a little funny as well, but this was a stubbornness he had experienced right between the boundaries of life and death, therefore also being the deepest, most prevailing stubbornness within his mind.
This final gathering went on all the way till the early hours of the morning. Huang Yaming disappeared together with Tan Qinglin. Xu Tingsheng and Fu Cheng sent one female classmate after another home before finally they walked on the vast, empty streets together.
Fu Cheng said, “I’m prepared to continue chasing Ms Fang.”
Xu Tingsheng said, “This fella’s really intrepid.”
The storyline had diverged once more, but Fu Cheng’s feelings towards Ms Fang had not changed.
An end, whilst also a new beginning.
The next day, Xu Tingsheng returned home. Not having headed out for work, Mr and Mrs Xu stared at Xu Tingsheng, looking like they had something they wanted to ask yet could not bring themselves to do so.
His sister Xu Qiuyi, however, did not hold such reservations as she smilingly asked outright, “Brother, how was it?”
“Relatively good,” Xu Tingsheng replied.
Only now did the family’s usual liveliness return.
Xu Tingsheng put down his bag, saying, “Dad, I’ve got something to show you.”
In order to stimulate Mr Xu’s fighting spirit as much as possible, Xu Tingsheng had specially withdrew all of the 300000 yuan in the early morning. After all, huge bundles of money would always be much more convincing and impactful than just a single card.
As Mr Xu was about to reply.
Xu Tingsheng poured 30 entire bundles of 100 yuan notes onto the table in a single go.
“Each bundle has 10000; there’s 300000 in total. Dad, let’s go grab the bottom floor of that tower.”
Mrs Xu immediately shot over to close the door, a finger upon her lips as she said in a hushed tone, “Softer, softer.”
Afterwards, she became completely lost for words.
Mr Xu was calmer in comparison, reaching out and stroking the money on the table before asking Xu Tingsheng, “So much money; where’s it from?”
“I earnt it from selling revision materials to a publishing company.”
Xu Tingsheng followed up with everything that had transpired earlier. From him having been suspected of having cheated and having conducted an interaction lesson as a result, to Fang Yunyao releasing that thesis and that publishing company contacting him-he carefully explained all of these once over in their entirety.
“Your material was that valuable?” Mrs Xu asked incredulously.
Xu Tingsheng nodded, explaining, “Mom, think about it. With my study method, I improved to 11th in the entire year in a mere month. Now, isn’t my method awesome? And with that, how would it not be valuable?”
“But that’s still just too much, isn’t it? You’re just a student. Also, don’t you have to split some of it with that Ms Fang?”
“Ms Fang put her name down on those revision materials. As long as their popularity boom in the future, she will only earn, much, much more. Also, she would be gaining fame alongside that wealth as well. You don’t have to worry about that.”
“As for why my materials are that valuable, don’t evaluate it merely with our tiny Libei County. This set of materials will be released throughout our entire country. In some big cities outside, in just hiring tutors alone, some parents already fork out tens of thousands for their kids annually. How much do you think this set of materials will eventually be able to net for that publishing company?”
After Xu Tingsheng had finished explaining, Mrs Xu pondered for a while, her expression then changing.
“It’s a loss, it’s a loss. Silly child, you should have taken 50 thousand and that 5 percent. That money would truly be live income, flowing in in an endless stream.”
Mrs Xu indeed also possessed a good brain for business, having quickly caught on to the logic within. Even Mr Xu nodded by the side, agreeing with her viewpoint.
Xu Tingsheng thought that maybe he should put a bit of pressure on his father as he now said, “It’s no loss at all, because I believe that with this 300000, Dad will be able to earn much more.”
These words of his left Mr Xu in a daze, falling silent for some time before finally saying, “I’ll try.”
Xu Tingsheng understood his father’s personality. While the words that had left his mouth were only ‘I’ll try’, the resolve within his heart was actually already as unshakeable as a monolith. This was a man who had come out and started a factory when he was just 18. This was a man who, inhibited for more than 10 years, had not surrendered to his fate. He had once been young and high-spirited, he had once been heroic and generous, he had once provided half of the people in the entire village with jobs…
He had also once buried his head in the fields, toiling painstakingly, suppressing his dreams and his lofty ambitions, just for the peace and stability of his wife and children.
And today, he had decided to surge back into prominence once more.
Having steeled his resolve, Mr Xu moved swift as the wind. That very afternoon, he entered Libei County to understand the cost of setting up shop, specifically inquiring into the rental situation of the Golden City Tower.
Meanwhile, Xu Tingsheng watched on as his mother kept all of that 300000 yuan without leaving a single bit behind. Begging pitifully and shamelessly, he finally managed to get a few hundred dollars out of her.
“If I’d known it would be like this, I’d have secretly kept a bit, even though the shock factor of 300000 is that much more than the likes of 290000.”
Xu Tingsheng also required money, because he already couldn’t wait to go to Yanzhou to see Xiang Ning. If it was said that the end of the university entrance examinations marked the beginning of Xu Tingsheng’s new life, Xiang Ning was the most important part of his new life, even while he actually couldn’t get too close to her.
Xu Tingsheng had a rather strange feeling. It was like if there was no Xiang Ning, there would be no him of his present life. She was the sole link that tied his past and present lives together.
If one really had to be so clear on it, it was actually impossible for the current Xu Tingsheng to be in love with that little girl who was now still just 14 years old. The one whom he loved was the Xiang Ning of his previous life, for whom his feelings could transcend even death.
However, Xiang Ning was still Xiang Ning, so Xu Tingsheng still had to be that Xu Tingsheng. His life could change, his fate could diverge, but that relationship could never change. If it ever changed, Xu Tingsheng didn’t know what else there would be other than his family for him to look to in his life. He indeed possessed some desire for wealth, but it was not that strong a thing. What he truly found in this world that gave his life meaning were only his family and Xiang Ning.
After Mr Xu returned that night, Xu Tingsheng could only delay his trip to Yanzhou.
The leasing search of the Golden City Tower had actually already begun, just having been eclipsed by the occurrence of SARS.
The next day, Xu Tingsheng and Mr Xu went to town together.
Riding his bicycle, Mr Xu was headed straight for the Golden City Tower. However, Xu Tingsheng stopped him.
Taking along his father, Xu Tingsheng went to a shop selling mobile phones, the two each purchasing one. Xu Tingsheng chose Nokia’s first 3G phone for Mr Xu, the Nokia 6650 that had just entered the market. Meanwhile, he chose a Nokia 1110 for himself, the same first phone that he had possessed in his previous life.
Xu Tingsheng did not have much of an impression of the Nokia 6650, just having chosen it because it was new and expensive. As for the Nokia 1110, his impression of it was really, truly deep. This was literally a divine handphone that combined all of the best points of Nokia, being easy to operate, simple and presentable, while also most importantly, as most in line with everyone’s impressions of Nokia, indestructible.
In his previous life, when Xu Tingsheng had bought the first handphone of his life, he had actually already been in his second year of university. His family’s situation back then had made it such that he had been the last person in his class to obtain a mobile phone, and that Nokia 1110 had accompanied him all the way till graduation.
Actually, Xu Tingsheng had not really treasured that phone. In a fight with his girlfriend, he had once thrown it out from the third floor of a library. He had even thrown it out of a speeding car before. Still, every single time, it still worked after he had retrieved it.
This was the tyrannical strength of a Nokia 1110.
After buying their telephone cards, Xu Tingsheng brought Mr Xu along in buying a pair of leather shoes that cost roughly 600 yuan as well as a Western shirt and trousers that cost more than a thousand yuan. If not for it being amidst the blazing heat of summer, Xu Tingsheng would definitely still have dragged his father along in buying a whole suit.
Afterwards, the father and son cut their hair together.
Mr Xu had originally been handsome, and after this sorting out of his appearance, apart from that ever thick pair of arms, he looked completely different from before. What Xu Tingsheng found to be rather unexpected was that during this entire process of spending money so liberally, Mr Xu actually didn’t show a hint of refusal at all. One must know that these past years, Mr Xu had not even been able to bear spending money on clothing for the New Year.
Mr Xu forked out some money to buy a pack of Chunghwa cigarettes, handing one stick over to Xu Tingsheng, “Have one. Your mom has already long since smelt it out; just remember not to smoke too much.”
As Mr Xu lighted up the cigarette for Xu Tingsheng, the latter was nervous to the point that even his hand that was shielding the flames was trembling. No matter how mature he was mentally, in front of Mr Xu, he was still a kid who got easily nervous.
“Look at how useful you are,” Mr Xu laughed, “Are you very curious about why I have listened to you regarding everything today?”
Xu Tingsheng nodded.
Mr Xu straightened the sleeves of his shirt, “Actually, I also have an expensive set of clothing at home, just that it has already been a long time…I understand your intentions. Actually, there’s really not much need for doing such things anymore. Regarding today’s matter, even if the two of us are dressed like beggars, it’d be enough if we have the money to back it up.”
“The reason for which I still listened to you and spent this money is because even though these things may not be necessary now, they will still be needed later on. After the shopfront has been rented, I’ll have to go out to negotiate on our inflow of goods, hire staff as well as obtain this permit or that license at so and so agency. At that time, I’d really need to put in some effort on appearance.”
Mr Xu’s explanation caused Xu Tingsheng’s confidence in his father to rise further. Mr Xu spoke rightly. Regarding negotiation with suppliers, the hiring of middle and higher echelon staff who would truly be of use and especially building up their relationship with the relevant government agencies, the success of these matters would be greatly related to his father’s aura and the strength of the disposition he exhibited.
In this era, appearances were extremely important. Wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase, the bosses of some briefcase companies would be able to cheat away a few big projects from some more backward towns.