Chapter 9: Eve of the Big Game
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Zhang Jun poured over his homework when he got stumped by a particularly difficult question. He decided to find Su Fei for help —or to be precise, get her to do it for him.
“Auntie, is Su Fei in?”
“She’s in her room, and for whatever reason, she locked herself in there right after finishing dinner. Go ahead.”
Zhang Jun knocked on her door.
As he pushed the door open, Zhang was taken aback by the sight that greeted him. “What are you doing?”
A huge sheet of white paper was sprawled across the floor and his neighbor was down on all fours; there were marker pens, a straight ruler and other stationery around them.
“I’m going to enlarge the match schedule on this paper and stick it on the activity room’s wall tomorrow,” Su Fei answered without raising her head. “It’s a more comfortable view that way! Every time our team advances, I will use a red pen to connect the two games.”
“You have such faith in us?”
“That’s for sure! If the team manager does not believe, what hope is there for a good showing from the squad?”
Zhang Jun peeked at the clock hanging on the wall, it was almost eleven.
“Oh, is there anything I can help you with?” Su Fei asked, finally lifting her gaze to look at him.
“It’s nothing. Just a bit tired from studying, so I came here for a spin.” He looked around the room.
“Really? Nothing?” The girl asked, narrowing her eyes.
“Really!” Zhang Jun felt the chill from her stare. “You do your thing, I’m going back.”
As soon as he finished his sentence, he sprinted off as though he was escaping for his life. He then picked up his pen and sat down once more in front of his study desk.
“Damn Math teacher! Setting such insane questions! Even textbooks can’t help!”
The next day, Zhang saw the scaled-up list pasted on the wall of the activity room as soon as he entered. His teammates were chattering and crowding around it for a better look.
At the sight of Zhang Jun, An Ke waved at him. “Look! Such a gigantic fixture list with such straight lines and sleek writing, how much time did it take to make ?”
Remembering that Su Fei’s room was still lit up when he finished the last Math question at midnight, he replied casually, “Maybe four and a half hours!”
“Who did it, I wonder?” The keeper mumbled to himself.
“Alright! Everyone stop ogling! We won’t be champions if y’all keep looking at it!” Su Li’s sonorous voice rang by the door. “Hurry and change, then gather on the pitch! Don’t make us wait for long!”
“Why are the third years so enthusiastic?” Ren Yu De asked as he changed into his jersey.
“The match is coming soon and it’s a once-a-year-occasion; of course they’re enthusiastic!” An Ke replied.
“And it’s their last chance,” Yang Pan added.
Zhang then remembered what his captain told him after training on the eve of the Xin’an Yi High School practice match. He turned, and saw that on the big itinerary, the words “Shu Guang High School” were marked in a conspicuous red.
Su Fei was outside, grinning at them when the energetic squad left the activity room. When he walked past her, Zhang knelt down to untie his bootlaces before he made another knot.
“Don’t your knees hurt?”
“They don’t hurt!” She grinned.
Yeah, right, Zhang thought.
Friday, the editorial department of High School Soccer.
“Today’s meeting with everyone is to prepare for the National Preliminaries that kick off tomorrow,” Liu Yang said. “It’s already a custom for us. Everyone do your job, report the best you can on this year’s tournament, write comprehensively and write it well! When the time comes and the games are over, it’ll be my treat!”
Cheers rang out among the employees.
“Chen, since you’re so interested with Shu Guang High, you’ll be in charge of their article.”
“Zhou Peng, you’ll attend the opening match tomorrow, dig up more valuable news!”
“No problem!” Zhou answered.
“Hah! How could there be no news for Zhongyuan High!” Sun Liang Liang laughed. “Every single one of their starting eleven are newsworthy! Rumor has it that there are a few first-years who are so incredible, they made the first team as soon as they joined! In the Zhongyuan Soccer Club that contains over 70 members no less; this is news!”
“You’re referring to Li Yongle, Zhang Yang and Zhang Linxi?” Huafeng asked.
“That’s right! The only other player who has ever managed this in their first year was Zhao Defeng!” Liang Liang said, leaning back into his chair. “As a first year, he led the team into the Grand Finals of the Nationals last year; and although they lost to Guang Ming High of Dalian, his ability was recognized nationally. Now that he’s a second-year, who knows if Zhongyuan would grab the title under his captaincy? So exciting!”
“You’re quite the Zhongyuan fan,” Chen retorted.
“Hehe!” The other grinned.
The streetlights lit up just as Huafeng left the building; the weekend night was an especially beautiful color under the neon glow. Tomorrow, tomorrow has finally come, a tomorrow he had so much hope and anticipation for: what performance would Shu Guang show him then?
Zhang Jun was flipping around his bed, unable to sleep. He did not even miss a wink on the eve of the Grand Finals of the Middle School Nationals, so what was it with today? Agitated, he went out to the balcony for some wind—only to find Su Fei on the balcony of her home too.
“Why aren’t you sleeping?” his neigbor asked.
“Can’t.” Jun shook his head. “What about you?”
“Same.” Su grinned.
In silence, both of them stared afar absent-mindedly.
After a while, Zhang lifted his head and looked above at the starry sky. “It’s rare to see such a beautiful, starry sky in the city.”
Su Fei looked at it too. “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day!”
Zhang turned to her.
“There won’t be rain,” she added.
“So, play well tomorrow!” Su Fei turned to him, meeting his gaze with a smile.
Zhang Jun had no memory of what time he slept—but, it was a great dreamless slumber. It was lunchtime when he woke up.
“Good morning,” he greeted Su Fei on the balcony.
“Good afternoon.” She smiled in reply.
“What time is it?”
“Twenty minutes past eleven.”
“That late?!” Jun frowned. “I must have slept around three.”
“Rested well? There’s still a match in the afternoon.”
“No problem,” the player claimed, but let out a long yawn that drew tears.
“Hmph! You should only be worried if I make a sudden dash for the toilet!” Zhang declared as he pointed at Su Fei.
“Right! Then let me ask you, can we win this?”
“Of course!” Zhang Jun’s eyes blazed.