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Chapter 29

This dinner table conversation ended with Li Hang eating an entire plate of large ribs with tears in his eyes.

Fortunately, with Li Jiao’s countless reassurances, Father Li temporarily abandoned the idea of asking for leave on her behalf.

Only then did Li Jiao breathe a sigh of relief.

After dinner, Father Li and Mother Li went out for a walk.

Li Hang, still reeling from the emotional blow, decided to immerse himself in the battlefield of an intense game, ready for three hundred rounds of gunfights!

Li Jiao returned to her room.

She had only been away for half a month, and nothing much had changed in the room.

Mother Li had tidied it up the night before, making it spotlessly clean.

She adjusted the air conditioner in advance, took off her pajamas, and after a shower, the room was already very cool.

Lying on her long-missed little bed, Li Jiao’s thoughts drifted back to Zhang Jiuling.

Three days without seeing the instructor, ahhhhh, I miss him so much…

Suddenly, her phone rang. She picked it up and saw that it was a call from her best friend from high school, Gu Pingping.

“Hello, Pingping.”

“Jiaojiao, are you home?”

“I’m at home; what about you? Are you back too?”

“Yeah, North City is not far from South City, so I came back for the Mid-Autumn Festival.”

“Are you having military training? Let’s hang out tomorrow.”

“Sure, where should we meet?”


Gu Pingping was her best friend from high school and was also an art student. She had been admitted to a university in North City, saying that North City was by the sea and had beautiful scenery.

When Li Jiao was filling out her college applications, she initially planned to apply to the same school as Gu Pingping. However, she thought that her parents would definitely worry if she went too far away. After some consideration, she decided that the art department at Nanjing University was also excellent.

So, she stayed in South City.

Gu Pingping was a bit older than her, more outgoing, and during high school…

Thinking about it, Li Jiao slowly fell asleep.

“Dad, Mom, I’m heading out.”

“Be careful on the road.”

“Got it.”

“Hey, Jiao Jiao, Jiao Jiao.”

Hearing that Li Jiao was going out, Li Hang dashed out of his room, clutching his phone as he played a game.

“Jiao Jiao, can you bring me back a big watermelon when you come home? I want the crunchy kind, not the mushy kind.”

This hardcore game enthusiast spoke without taking his eyes off the screen, one earphone dangling from his right ear and swaying in front of his chest.

Li Jiao rolled her eyes and said exasperatedly, “Have you finished your homework? If not, no watermelon for you.”

“Come on, Jiao Jiao, just get me one. I haven’t had watermelon in ages.”

“Go get it yourself if you want it.”

“Come on, Jiao Jiao~”

Li Jiao couldn’t stand her big, burly brother acting cute, and she shivered at the goosebumps it gave her.

She called out to their parents on the balcony, “Dad, Mom, I’m leaving!”

“Li Hang says he wants watermelon. Let Mom get it for him!”

With that, she quickly turned the doorknob and darted out.

Before the stainless steel door closed, she faintly heard their mother’s operatic soprano voice.

“Li Hang!!”

“Go back to your room and do your homework! Are you playing games again?!”

“And you still want watermelon?!”

“Do you want to taste your mom’s frying pan?!”

Already outside, Li Jiao cheerfully hummed the popular military training song “Strong Military Battle Song” as she leisurely pressed the elevator button and went downstairs.

“Listen… the horn of a new journey… blowing…”

“The goal of a strong military… calling ahead…”

“The country must be strong…”


Today’s weather was nice—not too hot. Li Jiao wore a rainbow-striped short-sleeve shirt, carried a canvas bag with a little yellow duck on it, styled her hair into two small buns, and wore a little yellow hat.

At first glance, she really looked like an elementary school student on an autumn outing.

Walking along the shady spots, she exited the residential area, turned a corner, and reached the subway station.

Gu Pingping’s house wasn’t far from hers. However, they had agreed to meet at the mall. It would start cooling down soon, so it was a good time to buy some clothes.

“Hey, Pingping, where are you?”

Standing at the busy mall entrance, Li Jiao held up her phone and looked around.

“Here, turn around, behind you.”

Li Jiao obediently turned around and immediately saw Gu Pingping, not far away. But as soon as their eyes met, she was shocked, and her eyes widened.

“Jiaojiao, what’s wrong? You look stunned.”

As she spoke, Gu Pingping had already run up to her.

Li Jiao still couldn’t recover from her surprise for a long time. The impact of Gu Pingping’s new look was just too strong.

Her hair was cut short to her ears, neat and clean. She wore a black short-sleeve shirt and ripped jeans. She had makeup on, unlike before, with elongated eyebrows that gave her a sharper look. The contouring on her cheekbones made her face more defined and more androgynous.

At first glance, Li Jiao thought Gu Pingping looked like a male version of herself.

“Ping… Pingping,” Li Jiao stammered, “Why did you cut your hair?”

“And why did you change your clothing style?”

Gu Pingping’s previous style was quite similar to hers—quiet and gentle. Perhaps because they both studied art, their temperaments were quite alike.

But now, Gu Pingping has completely changed her usual style. Her clothes and overall appearance had transformed from “good girl” to rebellious “punk girl.”


“You’re joining the military?!”

The two of them went into a bubble tea shop. When Gu Pingping finished explaining the reasons for all her changes, Li Jiao was so shocked that she almost knocked over her milkshake.

Noticing the increasing number of curious glances around them, Gu Pingping patted Li Jiao’s hand, signaling her not to be too surprised.

“Calm down, calm down.”

“Why are you reacting so strongly?”

“No, Pingping, why did you suddenly decide to join the military?” Li Jiao asked.

How could someone who studied art suddenly want to join the military?

Gu Pingping remained calm, stirring the ice cream in her cup with a straw. The new aura she exuded, combined with her makeup today, had an unexpectedly roguish masculinity that Li Jiao found hard to get used to.

“Jiaojiao, do you know why I chose to go to college in North City?”

“Didn’t you say it was because North City is by the sea and has beautiful scenery?”

Gu Pingping smirked and shook her head with a smile.

“The reason I went to North City is that there are several sports academies there. Every year, they have more slots for military enlistment compared to South City.”

“But, Pingping, why do you suddenly want to join the military?”

Even for guys, very few want to enlist. Protecting the country is a noble ideal, but the hardships involved are not something everyone can endure.

Hearing this, Gu Pingping smiled and explained it to her friend.

“Jiaojiao, I’ve always had the idea of joining the military.”

“Do you remember? In high school, I often drew pictures of soldiers. I’ve admired soldiers since I was a child—for their integrity, bravery, and selfless dedication to the country, with unwavering beliefs in their hearts.”

“That’s the image I admire the most.”

“Jiaojiao, I don’t want to spend my life painting in a studio. I also want to experience the sweat and exhaustion under 40-degree heat, the exhilaration of running until I’m completely spent, and the profound, real bond of comradeship…”


It turns out that Gu Pingping has had this idea since high school, but her family didn’t agree. She finally found out about this year’s military enlistment opportunity and learned that North City had more slots available, so she applied to the art department in North City.

She secretly tested herself and met the enlistment standards. That’s why she cut her long hair. After the Mid-Autumn Festival, when the military comes to recruit students from the school, she wants to present herself in the best and most spirited way to embrace the military life she’s dreamed of.

“Pingping, do Uncle and Auntie know about you signing up for the military?”

Hearing this, Gu Pingping, for the first time, showed a rebellious side. She touched her short hair, raised her eyebrows, and said it fearlessly.

“Who cares about them? I’ve already signed up. Do they really think they can stop me?”

“I’ve listened to them and been a good girl for so many years. This time, I’m going to live for myself.”

When she talked about joining the military, the way her eyes sparkled made Li Jiao genuinely happy for her.

During the toughest days of their high school art exams, Gu Pingping was very downcast, and for a long time, her artwork had a gloomy and desolate style.

At that time, when Li Jiao asked her what was wrong, Gu Pingping just forced a smile and shook her head, saying she was fine.

Now, seeing her find something she truly wanted to do, Li Jiao, as a friend, was genuinely happy.

She patted her chest with a heroic air.

“Pingping, don’t worry. I’ll keep this a secret and won’t tell anyone.”

Gu Pingping couldn’t help but laugh. “Alright, once I get accepted, I’ll treat you to a meal.”

Gu Pingping took the brave first step towards her dream. She said it was because she admired soldiers that she wanted to join the army.

Years later, when Li Jiao recalled this and asked Gu Pingping, “Did you really join the army because you yearned for military life?”

With a lollipop in her mouth and one leg bouncing up and down, exuding a roguish vibe, Gu Pingping responded with a “You must be joking” expression.

Righteously, she said, “I joined to serve the country and defend the borders!”

“And also…”

“And also to see if there are any handsome guys in the military, so after I retire, I can snag—no, pursue one!”

So, after serving the country, a significant part of her motivation was…

To “snag a guy” in the military!

Because of Gu Pingping’s shocking news, the two of them stayed in the bubble tea shop for nearly two hours after meeting up.

When they checked the time, it was almost three o’clock.

They hurried into the mall for a quick shopping spree, bought several pieces of clothing, and finally came out satisfied, each carrying their bags.

“Jiaojiao, is your military training strict?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty strict, but our instructor is super nice.”

At the mention of the instructor, Li Jiao couldn’t help but feel a pang of longing—she hadn’t seen him all day and missed him dearly.

“Instructor?” Gu Pingping’s curiosity was piqued. “Is he handsome?”

“Of course he’s handsome.” Li Jiao’s voice immediately grew louder. “Our instructor is the handsomest of all the instructors!”

“No way, let me tell you, my instructor is the most handsome—the handsomest in the universe!”

Questioning the beauty of her instructor?

That was practically questioning her ability to judge art!

Li Jiao got excited, sticking her little head out and raising her voice.

“My instructor is the handsomest!”

“No way, my instructor is the handsomest.”

“My instructor is the handsomest!”

“My instructor is the handsomest!”

The two girls stood on the bustling street, arguing about whose instructor was more handsome. They went back and forth, almost coming to blows.

Passersby cast curious glances at them.

Two lovely girls; pity they’re so silly…

“Let me show you. I secretly took a photo of our instructor. Handsome or not?”

Gu Pingping whipped out her phone, showing a tall man in a camouflage uniform with a strong presence. He looked like a muscular, powerful type of handsome guy.

But her instructor was still handsomer!

Li Jiao pushed the phone away, turned her head, and pouted.

“Pfft, my instructor is a hundred times handsomer than him!”

“Pfft,” Gu Pingping mimicked her.

“If he’s a hundred times more handsome, then show me a photo.”

“This… this…”

Li Jiao was in a bind. The instructor had been so stern at first; who would dare take a photo?

She did have one on her phone—the one where the instructor was carrying her onto the ambulance—but it was so blurry that it was hard to see anything clearly.

Gu Pingping said, “See, you don’t even have a photo. How handsome could he be if you guys didn’t take pictures? Tsk tsk tsk…”

“Anyway, he’s definitely handsomer than your instructor,” Li Jiao insisted, her neck stiff and her face flushed with determination.

In the end, since Li Jiao couldn’t produce a photo and refused to admit defeat, their argument about who had the handsomest instructor remained unresolved.

Gu Pingping had to leave early due to some family matters, so she went ahead.

Li Jiao, carrying her shopping bags, wandered the streets alone.


Why couldn’t she produce a single photo earlier?

She knew her instructor was handsomer.

“Thunk, thunk.”

The traffic light at the intersection changed from red to yellow, flashing three times before turning green. All the vehicles stopped, and people began to cross the crosswalk.

Li Jiao followed the crowd, walking quietly across the crosswalk. She glanced up casually.


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