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Chapter 34

When the two of them returned to the classroom, their classmates were visibly surprised. No one expected Shen Zhi to come back again. It seemed that he returned with Ji Ran from the principal’s office.

However, neither of them said anything and just sat back in their seats.

As for the incident where Shen Zhi openly fought Tang Zhenpeng at school, opinions among students were divided.

Some believed that Shen Zhi had always had a bad reputation, so this incident must be his fault. Of course, others thought that Shen Zhi always fought with people from outside the school, and they had never heard of him bullying others within the school. They believed Tang Zhenpeng must have done something to provoke him.

The discussion continued until the evening, when suddenly someone on an online forum came forward with information.

“Who still remembers that Shen Zhi, back in his first year, fought with a senior from the second year? Actually, that person was Tang Zhenpeng.”

With this revelation, the discussion among students became even more intense.

“Wow, Big Boss Shen had fought with Tang Zhenpeng before? Now I’m really curious: What did Tang Zhenpeng do?”

“Tang Zhenpeng is a student in the senior third class, and he has excellent grades.”

“So what if he has good grades? I think there must be some hidden story here.”

When Ji Ran and Wen Qianxia came out of the minimarket, Wen Qianxia, while chewing on her bread, said, “So the senior that got beaten up before is this Tang Zhenpeng.”

Wen Qianxia looked at Ji Ran and asked in a low voice, “Ranran, do you know why Shen Zhi fought with him? You were there at the scene.”

“You told me to stay away from Shen Zhi.” Ji Ran responded indifferently.

Wen Qianxia blushed slightly, her voice somewhat guilty, and after a while, she said, “I’m sorry, Ranran. I think I might have misunderstood Shen Zhi.”

“What’s the use of apologizing to me?” Ji Ran said it helplessly.

Wen Qianxia’s expression turned particularly ugly, and with a mournful face, she said, “But I dare not apologize to Shen Zhi.”

When the two of them were heading back, passing by the basketball court, they saw a basketball bouncing out of the court and rolling onto the main road. Ji Ran stopped the ball with her foot.

A male student not far away shouted, “Classmate, could you please throw the ball back?”

“It’s Xia Jiangming and the others,” Wen Qianxia immediately said upon hearing the voice.

Since it was winter, the sun had set early, and there was no lighting on the basketball court, both sides couldn’t see each other’s faces clearly.

Ji Ran bent down to pick up the ball, and just as she was about to throw it back, Xia Jiangming ran over.

He smiled and said, “It’s still Xu Yihang, that kid with sharp eyes, who spotted Sister Ran.”

Ji Ran glanced at the basketball court, and Xia Jiangming immediately said, “Zhi-ge didn’t come; he’s in the classroom studying.”

Even Xia Jiangming found it particularly strange. It seemed that Shen Zhi had recently developed a love for studying. Even during their regular basketball time in the evening, he was unwilling to come down.

He was actually in the classroom, working on a math test paper. It was truly miraculous.

Ji Ran handed the ball back to him, and just as she was about to leave, she suddenly stopped. She looked at Xia Jiangming and asked, “Xia Jiangming, do you know what happened between Shen Zhi and Tang Zhenpeng before? You should know. You were there.”

That day at the station, Tang Zhenpeng was just standing next to her, yet Shen Zhi was so emotionally charged.

Shen Zhi rarely showed his emotions so openly. Ji Ran had known him for a long time, and he was the type of person who would act rather than talk. And every time he acted, there was always a reason.

Moreover, someone had revealed that Shen Zhi had fought with Tang Zhenpeng before.

So, something must have happened between them before—perhaps something that made Shen Zhi truly dislike Tang Zhenpeng.

Xia Jiangming scratched the back of his head and whispered, “I don’t know.”

Ji Ran looked at him, and Xia Jiangming, who was already speaking hesitantly, added quickly, “I really don’t know.”

But his tone was too much like that of a guilty person caught in the act.

So Ji Ran continued, “Xia Jiangming, I will absolutely not spread rumors.”

Wen Qianxia, who was standing on the side and had been chewing on her bread, nodded quickly, “Me neither.”

It turned out that there was really some inside information here.

Xia Jiangming, who was already angry because of others’ comments about Shen Zhi, was most afraid that Ji Ran would also misunderstand Shen Zhi.

He sighed and said, “Okay, I’ll tell you, but you must keep it a secret. Otherwise, Zhi-ge will really kill me.”

Xia Jiangming threw the basketball back, looked around, and decided to lead them to a secluded place nearby. The three stood together, resembling a secret meeting.

In fact, this matter wasn’t solely related to Shen Zhi; Xia Jiangming was also one of the participants.

He said, “This happened back in the first year.”

He was about to say it was in the second semester of the first year, around June, when the weather was hot. Xia Jiangming remembered it so clearly because that day he had lost five consecutive games while gaming, feeling irritated. As a result, when he came out of the internet cafe, he felt like he had entered a steamer.

So he shouted that he wanted to go to the FamilyMart convenience store across the street to buy some cold drinks.

Shen Zhi didn’t mind, and the two of them walked over together. Unexpectedly, when they reached the store, they saw a small, dark alley next to FamilyMart, where a couple was being affectionate.

At first, they didn’t think much of it, but when the two of them came out of the convenience store with their purchases, they suddenly heard suppressed crying from the alley.

Both of them were momentarily stunned. Xia Jiangming whispered, “Should we go? Maybe they’re just playing some romantic game.”

But the girl’s sobbing, intermittently saying, “Please…” became louder, and she cried, “Please, I beg you…”

The words were fragmented, and they couldn’t hear clearly anyway.

When Xia Jiangming was still hesitating, Shen Zhi walked straight to the entrance of the alley and calmly asked, “What’s going on?”

The two inside were probably startled too.

The girl’s crying became more obvious, while the boy helplessly said, “My girlfriend is just playing around with me; it’s nothing, bro.”

Shen Zhi stood still, and his faint voice seemed to give a sense of security to the girl inside the alley.

She cried, “I…”

“What’s going on?” This time, Shen Zhi directed the question to the girl, and his tone was not as cold; instead, it carried a hint of reassurance.

Finally, the girl, who had been tense and desperate, cried out, “Please, beg you, save me.”

At this point, Wen Qianxia couldn’t help but angrily say, “Is that scumbag Tang Zhenpeng forcing this girl?”

Even though Xia Jiangming hadn’t mentioned who the boy and girl in the alley were, Wen Qianxia had already guessed.

Ji Ran also had a sudden realization; it was indeed like this.

She just knew that Shen Zhi couldn’t possibly dislike someone without reason.

Even at this moment, Ji Ran herself didn’t realize that she had reached a level of unconditional trust in Shen Zhi. As long as it was him, she was willing to believe.

Xia Jiangming sighed: “It will really make you piss off if I tell you, because it’s even more hateful than this.”

When the girl had just finished speaking, Shen Zhi walked in, and Xia Jiangming followed. It wasn’t until they saw clearly the clothes worn by these two that they were both surprised because both of them were wearing the uniforms of No. 4 Middle School.

Xia Jiangming was stunned. Initially, he thought it was some delinquent forcing the girl against her will.

It turns out, they were students from their own school.

The girl cried and said, “I don’t want to; I really don’t want to.”

“Forget it, Xia Qing; why don’t you want to? Didn’t you send me so many messages before, saying you liked me?” Tang Zhenpeng, standing aside, crossed his arms and looked at the girl with a smirk.

Instead of being flustered, he seemed rather composed.

The girl’s crying stopped, and she looked at Tang Zhenpeng in panic before turning her head to glance at Shen Zhi’s group. Finally, she covered her face, broke down in tears, and said, “Yes, I liked you back then. But I don’t want to do those things with you.”

Tang Zhenpeng sneered, “What are you pretending to be innocent for? You…”

Before he could finish his sentence, suddenly, Shen Zhi made a move. Without hesitation, he raised his hand and punched Tang Zhenpeng in the face. Tang Zhenpeng, not tall in stature, was sent flying backward by the punch, eventually lying on the ground.

Shen Zhi didn’t let him off, delivering a severe beating.

If it weren’t for Xia Jiangming stepping in to stop it, it might have escalated into a bigger problem.

Later, they found out that the girl named Xia Qing did indeed like Tang Zhenpeng. They also learned that Tang Zhenpeng was a good student in the school’s first class. For a girl to confess to a good-looking and academically successful boy wasn’t uncommon.

But what made it unusual was that Tang Zhenpeng responded positively to Xia Qing.

The young girl was overjoyed at the time and agreed to go on a date with Tang Zhenpeng. However, on their first date, she was drugged, and semi-nude pictures were taken of her.

Afterward, whenever Tang Zhenpeng called, she had to come out.

Even within the school, whenever Tang Zhenpeng wished, he would drag her to secluded places and make unwarranted advances.

The girl originally just wanted to experience innocent teenage love, but she encountered such scum. She was timid and didn’t dare tell teachers or parents.

Moreover, Tang Zhenpeng threatened her, saying he had confession messages and love letters she sent him on his phone. If Xia Qing dared to tell the teachers, he would turn the tables, claiming she seduced him and willingly took those photos.

“Scum, scumbag, bastard, damn you, son of a b***h…”

Wen Qianxia felt her lungs about to explode, thinking that such scum was still allowed to be a student at their school. She felt sorry for the girl named Xia Qing, who blindly fell for someone like him and ended up being threatened and subjected to his misconduct.

Xia Jiangming stared in shock at Wen Qianxia.

But he still explained, “There’s nothing we can do. Xia Qing was terrified. At first, Zhi-ge wanted to call the police, but she cried and made a scene. In the end, Zhi-ge had Tang Zhenpeng delete all the pictures.”

Indeed, since their second year, they hadn’t seen Xia Qing in school.

Xia Jiangming even inquired specifically, and Xia Qing had transferred. Even though Tang Zhenpeng no longer had anything to threaten her with, she had been terrified.

Suddenly, Wen Qianxia thought and asked, “Ji Ran, he won’t do anything to you…”

Xia Jiangming looked at Wen Qianxia in astonishment.

Ji Ran, observing their expressions, sighed, “No, he just tried to scare me by entering the girls’ restroom today. Luckily, Shen Zhi came looking for me, and they bumped into each other.”

“This scumbag deserves more than just a beating; he should be castrated.”

Ji Ran nodded, saying, “This time, we can’t let him off easily.”

Otherwise, who knows how many more girls might become victims?

Wen Qianxia thought for a moment and said, “How about we find a dark and windy night and take the opportunity to deal with him…”

Xia Jiangming looked at her, waving her hand and making a motion as if wielding a knife, and suddenly felt a twinge of pain in a certain area. Although he thought Tang Zhenpeng deserved it, looking at the fierce expression on this girl’s face, he couldn’t help taking a step back.

However, this matter was indeed hard to handle.

Just breaking into the girls’ restroom, let alone convicting him, probably wouldn’t even lead to any school punishment. If he insisted that he just wanted to play a prank, there might not be consequences.

Ji Ran sighed.

Unfortunately, Xia Qing had left, and now there was no one to accuse him.

After she returned to the classroom, even during the evening self-study, she was still lost in thought. Until Shen Zhi, sitting beside her, glanced at her and couldn’t help but speak, “Come on, what’s bothering you?”

Ji Ran glanced at him and asked, “What?”

“Tell me what’s bothering you.” Shen Zhi twirled a neutral pen in his fingers, his movements smooth and aesthetically pleasing.

Ji Ran didn’t want him to know that she already knew about Tang Zhenpeng.

So she pointed to the workbook in her hand and said, “The preliminary competition is this weekend, and I’m thinking about the competition.”

“You will definitely win; no need to worry.” Shen Zhi said calmly.

Ji Ran blinked, a smile finally appearing on her face. “How are you more certain than me?”

“Because I believe in you.” Shen Zhi lightly curved his lips.

Ji Ran didn’t understand where his confidence in her came from, but it was this kind of inexplicable confidence that gave her a strange feeling.

It was as if Shen Zhi had seen her Sudoku skills before.

“The competition is this weekend; can I come and watch?” Shen Zhi asked softly.

Ji Ran turned her head and looked at her workbook again. She should have refused. However, she didn’t know when she had stopped resisting him.

It seemed like she had gradually become accustomed to him being around her and participating in everything related to her.

Finally, she whispered, “In a competition, anyone can watch.”

Shen Zhi had already prepared himself. When he heard her say that he could watch if he wanted to, he was momentarily stunned.

After a while, he chuckled softly and said, “But I only want to watch a competition that has you in it.”




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