Chapter 47: He likes you
As the goalie was confessing to the entire stadium, Xu Tingsheng came to the side and drank some water.
His sister, Xu Qiuyi, shouted from the side, “Xu Tingsheng, you’re too useless! You haven’t even scored one yet!”
Xu Tingsheng had assisted in the scoring of two goals as well as created the situation that had inadvertently brought about the awarding of that penalty. However, his sister, Xu Qiuyi, didn’t care. What she had seen was merely others scoring, confessing, celebrating. In her eyes, Xu Tingsheng had not done anything at all.
Could you blame her? Could it be explained away?
It was not like she understood.
Xu Tingsheng returned to the pitch. He wanted to score.
However, before he could score, Libei Senior High’s team first conceded. Perhaps their goalkeeper had exerted too much energy in confessing to the entire stadium, but he consecutively conceded two goals in ten minutes after having returned to the pitch. Libei Senior High were behind once more.
3 : 4
Libei began launching a ferocious attack. 30 minutes into the second half, following several passes and interceptions by their side, the ball arrived in their opponent’s half of the field at Fu Cheng’s feet. Fu Cheng never held onto the ball, always immediately passing it away as soon as it arrived by his feet. The defender who had been wronged had been nursing his grievances and scheming to deal him a brutal tackle, and he definitely did not want to give him that chance.
Somehow or other, his pass flew in the direction of Xu Tingsheng.
By the edge of the penalty box, a semi-high ball arced over towards Xu Tingsheng. He received the ball lightly with his left foot. As the ball bounced upwards, he did not hesitate as he directly half-spun and shot for goal before the defender could make it in time to obstruct him.
“Bang!” As the tip of his foot connected directly with the ball, a muffled boom resounded.
Xu Tingsheng had exerted great strength in taking on this shot, the ball carrying no arc at all whatsoever as it shot straight towards the corner of the net like a cannonball.
A surefire shot. The opposing goalkeeper had already given up, and those on the stands were already in the midst of raising their arms. Xu Tingsheng himself was preparing to celebrate.
The ball smashed heavily into the corner of the post, yet another muffled boom resounding.
What a pity. Numerous sighs resounded amidst the stands, Xu Tingsheng only able to shake his head helplessly.
The ball rebounded to the feet of a defender, who pulled back his foot and prepared to clear the ball…He missed, the ball sliding by his feet and rolling slowly towards Xu Tingsheng…
Xu Tingsheng won the ball by the right side of the penalty area. He pulled back his foot and shot from an angle, the arch of his right foot lightly propelling the ball forward as the ball drew an arc close to the ground, shooting straight towards the bottom corner of the net.
This was Xu Tingsheng’s favourite scoring method, resembling Thierry Henry, the King of Arsenal as he leisurely netted one for the team with apparent ease.
Xu Tingsheng had imitated Henry for much of his playing career.
He had scored many goals like this from this very position, with this very arc. What was different from back then was this. When he had scored last, young as he had been, he had still been high-spirited and brimming with youthfulness. Afterwards, however, he had encountered many difficulties, failures and pain, having ultimately been forced to give up several times. At the age of 31, his mentality had already been numbed beyond compare, resembling someone in his twilight years as he had been consumed by despondence and fallen to stagnation.
Only at this moment did Xu Tingsheng realise that his heart which he had already thought to be numbed as incinerated ash could still not resist this light propulsion of the arched foot.
This light propulsion of the arched foot seemed truly to propel Xu Tingsheng by the soul back into his younger years.
4 : 4
A tsunami of cheers resounded amidst the stands. The legendary study king had scored.
Xu Tingsheng stood there, stunned. Right before him seemed to appear two similar, yet different photographs. One, in black and white, were the youthful times in the memories of his 31-year-old self. The other, holding colour, was the scene right before his eyes amidst his current true youthfulness. The two photographs slowly combined, then separated, then combined once more…
His teammates lunged over, pinning him down beneath them, celebrating wildly.
Xu Tingsheng finally regained his wits. He pushed away his teammates, the thumbs and index fingers of his hands coming together before his chest in the shape of a heart as he sprinted towards the stands.
The stands suddenly quietened.
Xu Tingsheng, Senior Xu Tingsheng…was about to confess?
Many rumours and guesses had circulated regarding Xu Tingsheng’s relationship with Yao Jing, Wu Yuewei and even Apple…but none of them had ever truly been certified…
Was the truth finally about to be revealed?
He was looking at that corner of the stands. Was the person Senior Xu Tingsheng truly liked there? …No, he just turned again. Where was he going?…
The person Xu Tingsheng had originally wanted to sprint to was his sister, Xu Qiuyi. However, midway, he had suddenly remembered that Wu Yuewei was standing just right beside her. Therefore, he could only make a turn and run past the entire stretch of stands with an upraised heart.
He ran past the entire stretch of stands. So, who exactly was that heart meant for?
“Whoever you think it is for, let it be for,” Xu Tingsheng finally understood the helpless, broken down state of mind their goalkeeper must previously have experienced as well.
There was a phenomenon like this. If you look at your teacher’s eyes, you might easily think that he is looking at you. As Xu Tingsheng ran past the entire stretch of stands with an upraised heart, there were many who felt as if his gaze had been directed at them.
Xu Tingsheng returned to the pitch, the match resuming. With the score of 4 : 4, everyone became cautious at this critical juncture. Comparatively speaking, a draw was still fine, but losing was definitely unacceptable.
The match entered a stalemate, but the atmosphere was even tenser than it had been before.
Time slowly trickled down, with the match soon entering injury time.
“I want to win, I want to win! Urghhh!”
The captain shocked the entire stadium with a howl of declaration. He sprinted up from the defensive backlines, frenetically putting pressure on all the players from the opposing side. Influenced by him, the members of the Libei team whose stamina were already greatly depleted burst forth with their final vestiges of energy, the entire pitch filled with wild snatching of the ball.
Finally, the captain won the ball with a tackle. He dribbled his way past a number of defenders, accurately finding Xu Tingsheng with his cross.
Xu Tingsheng moved past a defender as he received the ball. Alone, he was past the final defender and one-on-one with the goalkeeper. However, they were just too close. The goalkeeper had perfectly sealed off all possible angles for his shot. Xu Tingsheng pushed the ball to the side with his outer left heel, attempting to get it past the goalkeeper.
The goalkeeper dived, stretching out his arms as much as possible.
He had almost touched the ball. Before Xu Tingsheng, there was only the boundaries of the pitch as well as the goalkeeper’s body. He had already lost the angle…
Now, the goalkeeper suddenly discovered that the ball had disappeared from before Xu Tingsheng’s feet…
WIth a backheel, the ball rolled behind Xu Tingsheng, to where even he himself didn’t know if there might be teammates up for support. Perhaps the captain had continued running over after his cross. Might he be there now?
Still, having already expended all his energy with that frenzied snatching of the ball and final crazed burst of speed at the end, the captain had been unable to make it there in time.
However, there was one person who had managed it. All along, this person had immediately passed the ball away upon receiving it as well as collapsed onto the ground whenever someone tried to tackle him. He had also only been sent on in the second half…
Also possessing exceptional stamina, this person was none other than…Fu Cheng.
Fu Cheng had just boredly and casually ran a few steps behind Xu Tingsheng, harbouring merely the thought of watching things unfold a little more up close and personal. Now, however, he found the ball rolling slowly towards him, the vastness of the goal looming before him…an open goal.
Fu Cheng gently tapped in the ball just like that, and scored.
The referee promptly blew the whistle for the end of the match. The match ended 5 : 4, the victory going to Libei Senior High.
The killer goal was always the most invigorating one as the crowds surged up in frenzy. The team members converged madly about Fu Cheng, lifting him and throwing him up into the air. At this moment, in the eyes of all, he was the greatest meritorious general of the match, even though he had spent half the duration of the second half lying on the ground, kicking the ball blindly about for the other half.
However, he had won a penalty, also shooting in that final goal that sealed the deal for their side.
Just like this, Fu Cheng became a hero.
As he was put down by his teammates, Fu Cheng raised his hands numbly in the direction of the stands. He was the sole goalscorer of their team today who didn’t intend to run towards the stands; he had no idea what he would do having done that.
However, Xu Tingsheng dragged him along in sprinting to the corner of the stands that Fang Yunyao was at.
Everyone there was taken aback, all others from elsewhere directing their gazes over, wanting to see what exactly Fu Cheng was going to say and who it was that he intended to say it to.
Fang Yunyao inhaled deeply, maintaining an unchanging expression.
Fu Cheng wanted to flee.
Xu Tingsheng kept a firm grip on Fu Cheng, his left arm slung across his shoulder as he pointed first towards the stands and next towards Fu Cheng with his right hand before shouting at the top of his lungs, “He likes you, likes you to an unimaginable extent. He likes you, to the extent that if there is a day that you are downtrodden and miserable, he would be willing to cast aside everything he has and go to the ends of the world in seeking you out and accompanying you. He likes you, please consider it. Let there not come a day when it is already too late…”
In Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, Fang Yunyao had undergone a divorce four years into her marriage due to household violence. She had then brought her young daughter far, far away. Having a proper, respectable, job, Fu Cheng had cast everything aside and gone to the city in which she resided, feigning a coincidental meeting and silently caring for and protecting her…
Fang Yunyao had rejected him; his parents had been in opposition to their relationship. Still, he had just shamelessly stayed on in that city…
This relationship which seemed like the frivolous, unreal infatuation of a youth was understood even more by Xu Tingsheng than the person himself. Because, he knew those future events.
Fu Cheng leaned on Xu Tingsheng, trembling. He had never thought that the day would come when such words would be shouted out for all to hear.
“Don’t be afraid. Aside from her, aside from the few of us, no one else knows who it is that we are talking about.”
Fu Cheng suddenly came to this realisation as well.
He now yelled in the direction of the stands, “I really like you. I really, really, really like you. It’s not the kind of infatuation that kids have. I’ll take responsibility; I’ll grow and develop diligently; I’ll provide you with a sense of security. I’ll be a big man. Wait for me, just wait for me and I’ll…”
Fu Cheng wanted to shout just wait for me and I’ll have grown up when Xu Tingsheng hurriedly covered his mouth.
“Are you a fool? If you shout like this, others will be able to guess who it is.”
Everyone on the stands was in an uncomprehending daze. What situation was this, yelling in such a ‘Chiung Yao’ fashion? So passionately…who was the female lead?
Fang Yunyao inhaled deeply, maintaining her expression… As for her feelings, only she herself could know them.
This was a mystery left behind by Fu Cheng for Libei Senior High. Perhaps the truth behind it would one day be revealed, leaving everyone wide-eyed and tongue-tied. Or perhaps, that day might never come…