Ji Xiao Zhuo rode his own bicycle home. When he got back, he found out Nuo Nuo was surprisingly not back yet. He asked his mother and discovered Nuo Nuo went to eat dinner at Zhu Zi Xiao’s home. Mother Zhu wanted to thank Nuo Nuo for her supervision. Thanks to her, Zhu Zi Xiao turned over a new leaf. Otherwise, he might have remained fat for all his life.
Ji Zhuo took a deep breath before heading out again.
Confused, Tang Tang followed from behind and shouted, “Where are you going? It’s time to eat!”
Ji Xiao Zhuo got on his bicycle and left, “I’m going to pick Nuo Nuo up.”
Tang Tang frowned. Nuo Nuo hadn’t been gone for long. It was possible that she hadn’t even started eating yet. Why go so early to get her? This child was so strange.
When Ji Xiao Zhuo arrived at Zhu Zi Xiao’s apartment building, he didn’t go up. They only invited Nuo Nuo so he had no reason to go. Instead, he waited outside. There were many mosquitoes in the current season. Very soon, he got bitten many times by them. Usually, he disliked feeling itchy and if Nuo Nuo was present, she would certainly help him scratch. But, at the moment, it was like he couldn’t feel anything. He sat by the plants blankly.
He waited from 7 pm till 9 pm when Nuo Nuo finally came out of the apartment building, but Zhu Zi Xiao was with her. Zhu Zi Xiao was preparing to send Nuo Nuo home on his bicycle.
Immediately, Ji Xiao Zhuo stood up and quickly went over before pulling Nuo Nuo. He grasped her hand tightly, “Nuo Nuo, I came to take you home.”
Nuo Nuo blinked her eyes in surprise. After a while, she nodded and waved her hand at Zhu Zi Xiao, “Then I’m going home now. The food was delicious. Please thank Auntie for me.”
Joyously, Zhu Zi Xiao scratched his head and replied, “Ok, I will tell my mum. If you like, come and eat at my home again.”
Nuo Nuo nodded.
“Let’s go home, I’m going to get bitten to death by the mosquitoes!” Ji Xiao Zhuo dragged Nuo Nuo towards his bicycle. Then, he put his hand around Nuo Nuo’s waist and lifted her up before settling her on the back seat. Afterwards, he climbed onto the bicycle and sat down. With a push of his leg, they set off.
In this position, Nuo Nuo had to wrap her arms around Ji Xiao Zhuo’s waist. He could not help but feel his heart soothe a little.
Uncomfortably, Nuo Nuo moved her bottom. She quietly said, “I want to sit to the side.”
“Why? You don’t feel comfortable?” Ji Xiao Zhuo didn’t have any intentions of letting her go.
Nuo Nuo smoothed her lips. She patted his arm and raised her head to look at him, “My bottom hurts from sitting like this.”
Ji Xiao Zhuo paused and clicked his tongue in embarrassment. Then, he put his leg down and stopped the bicycle. He unwillingly let Nuo Nuo sit to the side. At once, he felt empty inside.
On their journey back, Ji Xiao Zhuo hesitated for a while before finally asking, “Nuo Nuo, why aren’t you willing to play with me recently? Did someone in the group make you unhappy?”
Nuo Nuo tightened her hold on his clothes. But there were no changes to her voice when she answered, “I don’t play basketball or play games. There isn’t any point for me to go along.”
“Who said there isn’t?” Ji Xiao Zhuo retorted subconsciously. There was a hint of grievance in his voice. “You can cheer for me. Without you, there is no one to give me water when I’m thirsty and no one to wipe my sweat when I’m hot.”
The light in Nuo Nuo’s pupils trembled. She quietly said, “But even without me, there would be others who will give you water and wipe your sweat.”
“How is that the same?” Ji Xiao Zhuo immediately said, “I don’t want things from other girls, otherwise it will make others misunderstand.”
“Misunderstand? Then there won’t be any misunderstanding if I give it to you?”
“Of course! You’re my little sister! How can there be any misunderstanding.”
“…… Oh.” Nuo Nuo pursed her lips in disappointment. After a moment, she suddenly said, “But I’m not your real sister. If we’re too close, your future girlfriend won’t like it. My boyfriend wouldn’t like it either.”
Automatically, Ji Xiao Zhuo ignored the topic about his girlfriend because he simply never thought about getting a girlfriend. What he cared about was Nuo Nuo’s final sentence which caused him to freeze and stop the bicycle. He turned and stared at Nuo Nuo as he angrily asked, “You’re dating? You have a boyfriend? Who is he?”
“……” Even Nuo Nuo, who had a good temper and never threw a tantrum for the past dozen years, got angry. She jumped off the bicycle and started walking off on her own. She didn’t want to speak with him.
In response, Ji Xiao Zhuo quickly pushed his bicycle to catch up, “What’s wrong? Why are you walking off? You still haven’t answered if you have a boyfriend or not?”
Nuo Nuo ignored him and just carried on walking.
“Let me tell you, study properly when you’re young. Puppy love is not right. You can’t do things randomly, alright? I’m telling you this for your own good. Quickly tell me who is your boyfriend?”
Nuo Nuo pretended she didn’t hear anything and didn’t answer any of his questions during their journey home. When they got home, she just greeted Ji Yan and Tang Tang before going into her bedroom and locking the door. She didn’t open it no matter how many times Ji Xiao Zhuo knocked.
Ji Yan looked at the irritated Ji Xiao Zhuo and asked, “What are you up to, Ji Xiao Zhuo?”
“…… Nothing.” Ji Xiao Zhuo grinded his teeth. In the end, he took one more glance at Nuo Nuo’s bedroom door. He didn’t knock. Instead, he turned and entered his own bedroom. He would ask her again tomorrow morning.
Like a monk, Tang Tang didn’t understand. She blankly asked Ji Yan, “Dear, why do I feel there is something wrong with our Xiao Zhuo.”
Ji Yan took a glance towards Nuo Nuo’s bedroom. There was a profound look in his eyes. Then he stroked her head and replied, “Don’t take notice of it. There are many issues during puberty. He will handle it himself. Let’s go to bed.”
On the next day, Ji Xiao Zhuo went to find Nuo Nuo once he got up, but he discovered Nuo Nuo went to school early. He was so angry that he rushed to school without eating breakfast. But when he got to school, that little girl didn’t even spare him a glance and she didn’t explain why she didn’t wait for him either. Instead, she kept talking with Zhu Zi Xiao and the two of them sat very close together. Their arms that were placed on their desk were almost touching.
The atmosphere around Ji Xiao Zhuo suddenly dropped to an all-time low.
Wei Jia smiled meaningfully and spoke to Ji Xiao Zhuo with a gossiping tone, “I can tell Nuo Nuo’s relationship with Zhu Zi Xiao is very good. Is it because Zhu Zi Xiao became handsome? Are those two …”
When she began saying that, Ji Xiao Zhuo looked at her coldly which made her stiffen up and said, “No one will say you’re mute if you don’t speak.”
Wei Jia’s face became stiff. She felt embarrassed from being rebuked. She couldn’t hold it in and retorted, “I didn’t say much. Anyway, even if there is something between them, how does that concern you? It’s Nuo Nuo’s freedom to like whoever she wants. You’re not even her biological brother. She’s just staying at your house temporarily. Your parents don’t have any grounds to control her, and neither do you.”
“Shut up and get lost!” Ji Xiao Zhuo snarled which frightened the whole class to look at them – including Nuo Nuo and Zhu Zi Xiao.
Getting shouted at in front of so many people, Wei Jia had never received such treatment before, especially from someone she liked. Her pride couldn’t endure it. Before her tears started falling, she quickly ran out of the classroom so as not to lose face.
Ji Xiao Zhuo had no thoughts to care about Wei Jia. He pursed his lips tightly. A second later, he suddenly went to the desk in front and pulled Nuo Nuo up. He moved her school bag and all her stationery to his desk. Then he threw all of Wei Jia’s things to an empty desk in a corner. He forcefully pulled Nuo Nuo to sit in Wei Jia’s seat.
“What are you doing?” Nuo Nuo was caught unprepared and was moved to a different seat. She wanted to stand up but she couldn’t move from the force he exerted.
“Sit with me.” Ji Xiao Zhuo put her school bag in the desk storage then he arranged the stationery for her.
Nuo Nuo refused, “This is Wei Jia’s seat. I’m not sitting here.”
The fact Nuo Nuo didn’t want to sit with him like she usually did made Ji Xiao Zhuo feel extremely upset. “You don’t want to sit with me anymore? You want to sit with Zhu Zi Xiao?”
Nuo Nuo pursed her lips and made a sound of agreement before replying, “The seating arrangements have been set. The teacher will say something if we keep changing.”
Ji Xiao Zhuo looked towards Zhu Zi Xiao and discovered he was staring at Nuo Nuo worriedly. It was like Xiao Zhuo was an evil person. Ji Xiao Zhuo’s mood fell even more. He restrained his anger and said, “I will tell the teacher. Don’t worry.”
Coincidentally, the bell rang. It was time for class. The teacher would be arriving at any moment. Nuo Nuo did not want to cause a fuss so she didn’t speak and looked down to read her book. Naturally, she didn’t bother with Ji Xiao Zhuo again.
Ji Xiao Zhuo felt very bad. In the past, Nuo Nuo would not play with any other children. She was always alone. Then he entered her world and he became her one and only friend. They did everything together. Whatever he did, she always accompanied him silently.
But she stopped accompanying him now and she had other friends. It was really hard for him to accept this reality. Even though he didn’t want to admit it, he was being childishly unhappy. He didn’t like Nuo Nuo having good relationships with others, especially with boys. When he heard Nuo Nuo might have someone she liked, he became very fretful and didn’t know what to do.
Could it be that he was still like an elementary kid who was possessive of his friends at this age?
Ji Xiao Zhuo didn’t want to admit he was being just like an elementary student, but he couldn’t help but think about Nuo Nuo’s recent abnormal actions. Has she really fallen for someone? It couldn’t really be Zhu Zi Xiao, right?
The more he thought about it, the more irritated he felt. Ji Xiao Zhuo tilted his head and looked at Nuo Nuo who was concentrating. He thought for a moment before writing something on a piece of paper. Then he stealthily pushed the paper to Nuo Nuo and he childishly poked on her arm to remind her to read it.
Nuo Nuo didn’t want to read the slip of paper during class, but he kept poking her so she had to open the piece of paper and read it. Strong and bold characters appeared in front of her: Nuo Nuo, do you really have someone you like? Tell me, brother will help you check them.
Nuo Nuo lowered her lashes. After a long time, she picked up her pen and wrote a reply.
Ji Xiao Zhuo, who had been staring at her, immediately saw the answer she had written. His breathing suddenly became sluggish and his head went blank. He licked his dry lips and asked with a hoarse voice, “You … you have someone you like? Haha, that’s somewhat unexpected.”
Nuo Nuo lowered her lashes again and didn’t speak.
Clenching his fists, Ji Xiao Zhuo forced himself to speak in a tranquil tone, “Can you tell me who is it? I’m kinda curious.”
Nuo Nuo shook her head. She didn’t want to tell him.
“Oh.” Ji Xiao Zhuo clenched his teeth. After a moment, he couldn’t help but ask, “Is it Zhu Zi Xiao?”
Once again, Nuo Nuo shook her hand. Afraid Zhu Zi Xiao would innocently get involved, she added on the paper, “It’s not him. It’s someone else. Don’t ask.”
Ji Xiao Zhuo stared at those words for the rest of the lesson. He didn’t say anything else because he didn’t even know what to say. This was the first time he was quiet with Nuo Nuo.
After school, the usual basketball group came to find Ji Xiao Zhuo to play but Ji Xiao Zhuo refused. “I’m not going. You guys can go by yourselves.”
He didn’t have the slightest energy for it.
The group watched Ji Xiao Zhuo’s listless back view. They all looked at each other and they couldn’t make sense of the matter.
“Don’t you guys find Brother Xiao absent-minded recently?”
“Yes, yes, I think so too, but why?”
“He looks as if he broke up with someone. He looked especially like my older brother when he was brokenhearted.”
“Broke up? That’s not possible, our Brother Xiao doesn’t even have a girlfriend. How can he even experience a breakup?”
“Who said he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Maybe he got into a fight with Sister Jia.”
“That could be possible. Didn’t someone say Sister Jia ran out of the classroom crying today and it seems like she moved seats too. Maybe they have really fallen out.”
Ji Xiao Zhuo returned home early today. Tang Tang was a bit surprised to see him back already, “You’re not playing basketball today?”
“No, I didn’t feel like playing today.” Ji Xiao Zhuo put his school bag down. His eyes floated towards Nuo Nuo’s bedroom.
In response, Tang Tang said, “Nuo Nuo is doing her homework. She just got back not too long ago. If you’re not playing basketball today, why didn’t you come home with Nuo Nuo? She’s a girl. It’s not safe for her to go home alone. Our Nuo Nuo has grown up a lot during the summer holidays, she is becoming more and more beautiful. You need to protect her, you understand?”
Ji Xiao Zhuo made a low “En” sound before picking up his bag and heading to his bedroom. As he passed Nuo Nuo’s bedroom, he stopped for a few seconds. Unfortunately, no one opened the door.
Ji Xiao Zhuo couldn’t sleep that night. He kept tossing and turning. He had always been the type to sleep well. This was his first time experiencing such an issue.
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