From the quiet alley around the corner came a low, hoarse voice, like an evil spirit from hell, cold and frightening.
With the sudden reply, several people present were stunned.
Zhang Man heard the familiar voice and turned back in shock.
Under the dim street light filled with yellow leaves, the youth came from a short distance and the sound of his footsteps was clear and strong.
He put away the careless tone and his temperament suddenly changed, like a different person with a sinister and cold aura.
He took a step to her side and took her hand in his, staggering his body to block her and shield her behind him.
Zhang Man tensely held his hand in return. The palms of her hands have long been sweaty and at present, held by his dry and warm hands, the tension was reduced by a lot with his presence.
She tilted her head to look at the side of his face, the youth’s face was hidden in the darkness of the night, and it was impossible to see his expression. But the mere sound of his voice just now made her heart tremble.
When the unruly boys saw someone coming to fight, they gathered around aggressively and blocked the corner tightly with two people.
The young man with the earrings in the lead recognized Li Wei and snickered loudly, “Oh! isn’t this student Li Wei from Class 1? Our school’s celebrity! A crazy person like you wants to steal a woman from Laozi? For what? You want to take her home and hang her by the neck?”
After he finished, he laughed sarcastically, and even a few other delinquent boys behind him laughed with him, as if they had heard the funniest joke.
In their view, although Li Wei is tall and sturdy, they still have four people. Moreover, in terms of fighting, not anyone can do it. Compared to them, he is a good student and a nerd who reads books in school every day, how can he be more ruthless than them?
As for the claim that he was crazy, they were even less afraid. So what if he’s crazy, does he still want to find a rope to hang them all on the clothesline?
Seeing that both of them were silent, the boy with the earrings thought they were afraid, so he continued to provoke, his tone becoming more and more arrogant: “I advise you kid to mind your own business, hurry up and leave! Don’t prevent me from enjoying my woman properly!”
He laughed again and added in a long drawn out tone, “Don’t blame me for not reminding you that it’s not appropriate for young children.”
Zhang Man nervously reached out to hold Li Wei’s arm as she noticed that after hearing those words, the youth tightened his grip on her hand so hard that she nearly screamed out in pain. The veins at the corners of his forehead began to bulge, and his entire aura became more and more ruthless.
Just like when he stopped her in front of the school in the previous life, he became a sinister lone wolf in this moment, making people shudder.
The heart began to beat violently as Zhang Man panicked.
…What to do? He seemed a little out of control.
For some reason, even though it was clear that there were four people on the other side, when she saw him like this, the panic she felt was not at all due to the fear that the other side would hurt them.
Just then, her premonition came true.
The youth quickly ripped her hand away and without saying a word took something and smashed it hard into the face of the boy with earrings, resulting in a muffled sound.
The ruthlessness and lack of hesitation in that moment made Zhang Man unable to stop herself from letting out a shriek.
When she came back to her senses, the boy with the earrings wailed miserably as if he had torn his throat and his head riddled with blood tore a gaping hole in the dark.
The blood from the corner of his forehead gushed out wildly, dripping on the ground with a “tick-tock, tick-tock“ sound, giving people the chills in the quiet empty alley.
Zhang Man’s heart thumped and blood rushed to her head, the uncontrollable fear made her body shiver, and there was only one thought in her heart—run.
So she took advantage while the other delinquents had not yet reacted, pulling Li Wei’s hand and began to run frantically away, as though there were evil spirits chasing behind her.
She pulled him into a vigorous run through the streets until she reached the main road far from that alley where she could see the hustle and bustle of people and cars, and only after confirming that they could not possibly catch up again did Zhang Man dare to stop.
She panted and leaned against the glass wall of a convenience store, her legs were still trembling from the previous tension, and when she closed her eyes, all she could think of was that image — the boy with the earrings screaming and reaching out to cover the corner of his forehead with blood flowing from his fingers, staining half of his face.
She couldn’t stop shaking, and the fear of the aftermath followed by more profound fear and despair came over her.
Zhang Man thought of the youth’s determination and unhesitating ruthlessness, and sadly squatted down. Her heart felt like it was blocked with a big stone, and she couldn’t stop herself from crying out in pain.
Why did this happen? Why is he still out of control because of her, even worse than in his previous life?
It is clear that she has been so careful all this time, carefully restraining her feelings for him even if she wants to be close to him and be by his side, she had to think of all kinds of excuses for fear of causing harm to his mind.
She didn’t want him to be like this, she just wanted him to be well and not get involved with these dark paranoid things for the rest of his life. He has such clean and good-looking hands, and he is going to derive the most cutting-edge breakthroughs in theoretical physics in the future, so how can he beat people up for her?
She clearly only wanted him to live in the sun forever, but once again, he lost his mind because of her.
Zhang Man could not help but start a strong self-doubt, if Li Wei never met her, would it be better? She caused him so much heartbreak in his previous life, and in this life she caused him to go crazy and out of control once again.
What if something happens to that person just now, what will he do?
She cried so hard she couldn’t catch her breath, thinking in despair that it was all over.
“Zhang Man… please don’t cry.”
The youth’s eyes, which had been red, along with the blood boiling in his body, gradually calmed down after seeing her breaking down and crying in front of him.
The sanity that was completely lost earlier began to return.
This was the second time she cried in front of him. She crouched on the floor, hugging herself, choking with suppressed sobs as her shoulders trembled in response, her tiny body casting a single shadow on the floor tiles next to her.
But unlike last time, he could see that this time she was really upset.
Although he does not know why she is sad, it seems that when she is sad, he will also follow.
His heart felt like it was being pinched, and from earlier to now, it still hurts so much. After the pain came a huge panic, in case… in case he didn’t show up today, she…
Seeing her surrounded by several people, her face was white and shaking with fear as she took a step backwards and how closely the man cupped her chin without pity, he could no longer remember what he was feeling just then.
He just felt his whole body’s sanity leave him, his heart was racing, his blood was boiling, and his world seemed to turn black at that very moment.
It was a bit like the feeling of having his favorite race car trampled when he was a kid. No, it was a million times worse than that, to the point where he couldn’t control himself anymore.
There was a fierce beast in his heart roaring and screaming, wanting to tear that group apart.
And indeed, he did.
—He picked the sharpest and strongest stone on the ground before approaching them, striking it extremely hard and without mercy.
She was so upset… Did the way he just looked scare her?
“No, Zhang Man, don’t cry. This is all my fault… it’s all my fault.”
The youth squatted down beside her, patting her back one by one, soothing her hands and feet.
For the first time, he completely lost his composure in front of her.
The collapse and despair in Zhang Man’s heart was like a large reservoir intercepted by a giant dam. Being comforted by his low voice at this moment, all of her emotions found a breakthrough, rushing through the dam and pouring down.
She threw herself on him and hugged him tightly, and buried her face in his chest, crying hard.
That night, Zhang Man huddled under the covers and nervously looked up the contents concerning juvenile delinquency, negligent assault, excessive defense, and so on. She also occasionally had to send a text message to Li Wei to confirm whether he was at home or not, fearing that he would be taken away by the police without her knowledge.
The next day, she arrived at school with two large dark circles under her eyes and began asking around for news of Yan Hui.
Yan Hui is in the third year of high school. He doesn’t usually study, and is considered as a school bully, and many people know him.
A few people in Chen Feier’s class are quite close to him. From what she said, Yan Hui seems to have fought with someone outside yesterday and apparently got disfigured, and is still lying in the hospital today, taking time off from school.
But there is no mention of Li Wei.
When Zhang Man heard this, she breathed a slight sigh of relief. It seems that he did not call the police, nor did he say to others who beat him up. Perhaps for a delinquent like him, being beaten up is a difficult thing to talk about, so he didn’t say it out loud.
She calmed down and thought for a long time, her heart gradually settling down. This matter is Yan Hui’s fault in the first place and Li Wei at best defended her in self-defense. Furthermore, as a delinquent teenager with a full set of previous convictions, Zhang Man estimated that Yan Hui did not have the courage to go to the school to sue.
Back in the classroom, the youth sat quietly reading a book, seemingly unaffected by the incident.
Zhang Man is not angry.
With a rather serious tone, she said, “Li Wei, promise me that in the future, when you encounter this kind of thing, don’t fight with others for me.”
The youth was silent and continued to flip through the book.
Zhang Man got anxious and pulled his sleeve: “Did you hear what I said?”
Only then did he put down the book in his hand, turn around and shake his head.
Zhang Man thought he didn’t hear her, so she repeated: “I said, in the future, when you encounter this kind of thing don’t mind me, don’t go up and fight by yourself, you hear?”
The youth still shook his head, as stubborn as can be.
Only then did Zhang Man realize that by shaking his head he meant that he did not want to.
He looked into her eyes with an irrefutable determination in them.
—”They said they were going to bully you.”
Zhang Man slightly stunned, saw his serious look and a sour and warm feeling spread up, her heart suddenly became a soft mess.
Yes. He was just trying to protect her. Seeing her being bullied, how could he stay out of the way?
Zhang Man asked herself, if she saw him being bullied, there is no way she could be calm. For instance, that time Liu Chang accidentally hit him (LW), her first reaction is to viciously stomp on his (LC) two feet.
To put things in another’s perspective, perhaps she was making it difficult for him.
She sighed and gave in first, “Okay, then I promise that I will never encounter such a thing again.”
In the future she must be careful and cautious. She would rather take a long detour than go down that road again.
After the whole person is relaxed, she has the energy to think about other things.
“Wait… Li Wei, how did you know I was there yesterday?”
The youth took a moment before answering, “You didn’t get your exercise set. I called you and you didn’t answer.”
Zhang Man’s heart melted like a soft candy, she couldn’t control her smile and poked his arm: “So you went in the direction of my house? You’re worried about me? Eh? How did you know which direction my house was going?”
The youth spoke briefly, without much expression: “I saw you go over there.”
“So…what did you hit him with yesterday?”
“A stone picked up on the road.”
Afterwards, no matter what Zhang Man asked, the youth ignored her.
Zhang Man received a cold shoulder, so she stopped talking and plopped down on the table to think about yesterday’s events.
Thinking about it, her cheeks began to get slightly hot.
She took him by the hand yesterday and ran through street after street. And in the end, she hugged him while crying for what seemed like a long, long time.
She really didn’t think much about it before, and she was so upset that she just wanted to vent her feelings, completely without any crooked thoughts. However, when she recalled it now, she still blushed.
Her heart sank at that time, but then her worries dissolved into a puddle of water when he came close and stayed by her side. He didn’t push her away and patted her back one by one, patiently coaxing her with care.
Such a gentle voice can soothe all her sadness and grievances.
Zhang Man thought, ‘how could the words be so different when they were obviously spoken by the same person?’
When he said ‘no’ in the alley, it was like an evil spirit that had come up from hell. But later he said it again, then crouched on the ground and hugged her, coaxing her, so softly and gently, like a feather.
—He actually likes her, right? Even though he doesn’t even realize it himself.
She slumped into the crook of her arm and the corner of her mouth curved gradually.
If that’s the case, she’ll just wait patiently for him to find out himself.
Let him gradually rely on her, trust her, and always think of her. Only then will he be able to stop thinking about those illusory relatives and friends, and truly live in this troubled world, to experience the joy, beauty and magnificence of life on earth.
After that day, Li Wei began to wait for the bus at the bus stop next to Zhang Man’s house every day, even though there’s a bus stop right in front of the school that goes straight to his house.
Zhang Man knew that he was afraid that she would meet someone like Yan Hui again, so he wanted to accompany her back.
But he did not say it, so she did not expose it. Naturally, she was on cloud nine.
Things are going better than she expected.
Regarding Li Wei’s delusion, she now knows two people. The first one is his mother, Lin Hui, and the other is his friend, Nick. Zhang Man is not sure if there is still a third person, but at the moment these two are clearly divided.
Lin Hui often appears when Li Wei suffers some setbacks in life or when he feels very lonely and self-absorbed while Nick, on the other hand, is when he is alone and facing difficult problems in his studies and has no one to discuss them with.
Now, she could be sure that he had gradually accepted her in his heart. And all she can do now is to stay quietly with him and fill his life as much as possible to alleviate the delusional symptoms.
The two walked to the intersection below Zhang Man’s house, and the youth nodded at her as usual, signaling that he was going to the station.
But today Zhang Man also does not know what happened to her, she just felt like pulling him along to talk for a while longer.
“Li Wei, are you scared to be home alone at night? Your house is so big after all.”
The youth gave her a look, his eyes a little strange: “Not afraid.”
Zhang Man changed the subject again: “Uh… then have you ever learned to draw before?”
The roses he drew for her last time on the beach were so well drawn; it was almost like they were real.
“…No, I drew it myself for fun. I wasn’t able to borrow any after-high school physics books when I was in the orphanage before.”
Zhang Man struggled to keep up with his thoughts. In other words, he couldn’t borrow the “Advanced” Physics books after he finished the high school versions, so he would just draw and play by himself when he was bored?
She was a little amused and sour inside.
After his father’s death, Li Wei was sent to an orphanage in N City, and stayed there for seven years before coming out to live independently in his junior year. The reason he was feared and ostracized was not only because of his father’s schizophrenia, but also because he had gone to the psychiatric hospital for a checkup before entering the orphanage.
The diagnosis given by the doctor at that time was that he had genetic brain disorder, or schizophrenia, at a young age. On what basis was the diagnosis made, no one knows.
And it was his biological grandfather who took him for this psychological evaluation and threw him in the orphanage after getting the diagnosis.
Li Wei’s grandfather was also a businessman in N City, he married 3 times and his first wife, Li Wei’s own grandmother, had a mental illness. Their family has numerous children and grandchildren, all of whom are excellent and normal, not lacking one of him.
He donated some money to the orphanage, shoved him in, and never cared about him again.
She heard that in the previous life, after Li Wei became a professor at Princeton University, his grandfather once wanted to recognize him back, but Li Wei never agreed to do so even before he committed suicide.
Zhang Man bit her lip, and scratched the palm of her hand with her fingernails in her school uniform jacket.
She could hardly imagine his childhood.
Such a small child suddenly lost his father, and was heartlessly abandoned by his only relative. When he was still innocent and ignorant, facing those cold instruments and those strange doctors who asked him over and over again, how scared he must have been in his heart?
It must be scary, and it will certainly make one cry, right?
Unlike now, whether he is alone or being ostracized, he is so indifferent.
Boys of that age were supposed to be the most playful, acting like crybabies at every turn.
She remembers that in her previous life, before she was reborn, Chen Feier’s son was only seven years old, the same age as Li Wei at that time. He likes to play with all kinds of toys and once Zhang Man and Chen Feier took him to the mall and saw a whole set of Transformers, he cried and refused to leave the floor until he got one. Chen Feier was helpless, so she bought it for him in the end.
A little boy holding a big Transformer with a snot bubble while grinning— Zhang Man remembers him until now.
Every child is like this. With their mother’s pampering, only then can they be proud and arrogant.
Unlike him (LW) who is used to being alone since childhood, he has no choice but to be brave since no one will be there for him, no matter how hard he cries.
Zhang Man felt so suffocated in her heart, but she wanted to know more, more about his childhood.
“Li Wei, is the orphanage you were in as a child a good environment? Are there lots of children with you?”
“Well, it’s not bad. It’s very crowded.”
The youth lowered his eyes; yes, there are many children of all ages in there.
Those younger than him are chasing his ass and calling him “psycho” while those older than him are taking the lead in ostracizing him and wanting to keep stimulating him to see how crazy he really is.
The orphanage is managed in a very chaotic manner. All of them are a group of unwanted children so the staff doesn’t really care about the children. Since their families don’t care, why should they? Thus, most of the managers are turning a blind eye regarding conflicts among the children.
There’s no need for her to know about this.
For this girl, he wants her to be carefree every day; he can’t let her be tainted by his darkness even a bit.
When she got home, Chen Feier gave her a call.
“Man Man, I heard people say that the person who beat Yan Hui last month seems to be Li Wei… last time you asked me about Yan Hui, you wouldn’t have known about it, right? I heard that Yan Hui was beaten badly. He suffered a cerebral concussion, his forehead broke a large piece and his face was disfigured completely. Currently, he’s still in hospital.”
“I heard them say it started because Yan Hui wanted to harass a girl in our school, Man Man, that girl wouldn’t be you, right?”
Zhang Man frowned, unexpectedly this matter still spread.
She reassured Chen Feier a few times and hung up the phone.
Yan Hui did not say this matter to the public before, so how come there are now rumors coming out? After this incident, I’m afraid that the students in the school have a worse impression of Li Wei.
When she opened the 1st High School posting, she saw several posts related to this matter.
【lz】：Have you heard, our senior bully Yan Hui was beaten last month and was hospitalized for more than a week and is still recuperating from it. Do you want to know who did it?
【I want to be quiet】：Holy shit! Who is so cruel, ah? Tsk, no wonder the school has cleared up a lot recently.
【lz】：It was accidentally revealed by the few punks under Yan Hui’s hand, and this information is absolutely reliable. The person who hit him was Li Wei, a student in Class 1, which is… you know… the one *ahem…
【Slippery】： Crap, isn’t that like fighting the devil himself? … Didn’t Li Wei supposedly have that? What? Did he have a seizure?
【lz】：Anyway, it was terrible! Those few punks were frightened and confused, saying that Yan Hui took a look at a girl at that time and was blocking the person’s way to have a chat. The result is that Li Wei came up without saying a word and hit him on the head with a stone, directly on his face and blood was gushing out. They say that Li Wei’s expression at the time was absolutely crazy.
【Fantastic animals where】：A face covered in blood… is also too scary, so scary!
【Slippery】：It is a bit scary, but I stand with Li Wei this time. Even if he is crazy, at least he gave us a breath of air, right? I heard that Yan Hui is hanging out in the road and there have been several such incidents before, but the school simply does not care.
【Who took my 5-3】：No wonder Yan Hui didn’t come to class these days. The person above me, I too stand with Li Wei this time. What is wrong with schizophrenia , at least his three views are all positive!
【Banana milkshake】：To the persons above, be careful with your words. Don’t think the devil is an angel just because he did a good thing. You should stay away from him, or the next time it’s you who will be hit by a brick.
Although there are still many people who are afraid of Li Wei’s madness, there are also a small number of comments related to Li Wei that are positive. After all, there are many people who were bullied by Yan Hui before. Surprisingly, the occurrence of this incident has made Li Wei’s reputation in the school a little better than before.
She was a little happy in her heart; he was already a very good and nice person, so why should he be hated because of something innate? They don’t know him, that’s why they are afraid of him. If they can get a little bit closer to him, they can find out how good he is.
Zhang Man closed the posting and sent a text message to Li Wei.
【Are you home yet】
It didn’t take him long to send one back.
Zhang Man looked at the short message he sent, and was a little disappointed with the small number of characters, so she asked again.
【Oh so what are you doing right now】
In which the youth quickly replied: 【Reading a book.】
He would punctuate even the shortest sentences with regularity, as archaic as an old man who was out of touch with the times.
Zhang Man couldn’t help but let out a light laugh. He usually doesn’t pay much attention to people, but he’s actually really disciplined and very much like a good traditional student. He obviously chose to compete, but he still wrote his homework in all subjects, wore a school uniform every day to school, and was not late or leaving early.
But when he loses control, it’s like he’s a different person.
Zhang Man was lying on her bed, biting the joint of her index finger, and suddenly remembered that after that incident, she had been on edge and had not properly thanked him yet.
If he hadn’t come to her defense that day, she might really have been finished.
Zhang Man picked up her phone again, crossed to the dialog box with him, and typed out word by word: 【Li Wei, thank you.】
She also followed his example and solemnly added punctuation.
This time the youth took a long time to reply, but it was still the same word.
I feel the chapters are getting longer and longer… Anyways, I passed guys! Yey!