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137 Can He Take Responsibility for It?

 "Yes, sir!" Yin Shixiong saluted him over the phone out of habit.

Yin Shixiong ended the call and looked out the window. It was already past five o'clock-time for him to pick up Gu Nianzhi.

He called He Zhichu again. "Professor He? Thank you so much for your help today. Is Nianzhi better now? I'll head over to pick her up..."

"That won't be necessary," He Zhichu said coldly. Yin Shixiong could almost feel the icy coolness radiating from him on his face. "She already left."

"She left?" Yin Shixiong was taken aback. "When did she leave? Why didn't you drive her home? She's a young girl who's just been injured-how can you be so heartless?!"

"Me, heartless? Haha, very funny," said He Zhichu, and promptly hung up. He put his hands behind his head and leaned into his spacious swivel chair. He swung the chair around and rested his long legs on the window sill, ignoring the ringing of his phone as he gazed at the scenery beyond the window.

Yin Shixiong called again, but no one answered.

He flew into a panic. The sudden change in He Zhichu's attitude was mystifying, but he did not have the time to think about it now. He opened the door and rushed out of his room.

He reached the front door and did a double-take.

He stared at the small shoe cabinet beside the door.

The Under Armour cherry blossom sneakers Gu Nianzhi had worn to the softball game were back in the cabinet. Her panda indoor slippers, on the other hand, were missing...

Gu Nianzhi must have returned to the apartment.

Yin Shixiong breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed that He Zhichu had been telling the truth: Gu Nianzhi had, as he said, left his house and returned to the apartment.

Then he remembered that He Zhichu's house was three miles away. It was a considerable distance-so how had Gu Nianzhi made her way back to the apartment, all by herself?

Yin Shixiong walked to Gu Nianzhi's room and knocked lightly on the door. "Nianzhi? Nianzhi? Are you in there?"

Gu Nianzhi hugged her panda pillow. She was curled up on the sill of the bay window, securely hidden behind the curtains.

Yin Shixiong had to call her name several times before she finally replied with a sullen "Yeah."

Yin Shixiong quickly opened the door.

He was glad she had left the door unlocked.

Yin Shixiong scanned the room as he entered, but did not see Gu Nianzhi.

He looked again and spotted the panda slippers lying on the floor in front of the bay window.

She was evidently hiding on the window sill.

Yin Shixiong slowly walked over. He said, his voice gentle, "Nianzhi, what's wrong? Don't you want to see me?"

He stopped before the window and opened the curtains.

Gu Nianzhi looked up at Yin Shixiong. The swelling in her right cheek had worsened. Her large, dark eyes shone like mirrors; Yin Shixiong could see himself reflected in them.

"Why is the swelling worse now?" Yin Shixiong kneeled so that his eyes were level with Gu Nianzhi's. "Didn't Professor He take you to the hospital?"

The doctors had given her some medicine, but Gu Nianzhi had forgotten to take them with her when she left He Zhichu's house. She realized her mistake and became even more depressed. She muttered sulkily, "Brother Xiong, where were you when they locked me up?"

"Oh..." Yin Shixiong was feeling guilty. His eyes darted about before he finally said, in a grave and serious tone, "I called Professor He and asked him to save you. I don't know how they do things here in the United States, you know, so I thought it would be better to get Professor He to help."

"Oh?" Gu Nianzhi rolled her eyes. "You called him? I was wondering how Professor He knew..."

"Yeah, and I called Mr. Huo after that." Yin Shixiong made sure to explain everything he had done; he did not want Gu Nianzhi to think he had been indifferent to her safety and well-being.

Gu Nianzhi's heart skipped a beat.

She lowered her eyes and buried her swollen cheek into the panda pillow. Her voice was hushed when she asked, "...Uncle Huo knows?"

Yin Shixiong decided not to tell the truth. "Mr. Huo is very busy, so he doesn't know yet. Little Ze said he'll let Mr. Huo know as soon as possible. But you're all right now, aren't you? Do you still want Mr. Huo to know about this?"

Gu Nianzhi's long eyelashes flickered as she thought about it. She eventually said in a disheartened voice, "Forget it, don't tell him. I don't want Uncle Huo to scold me."

She had not been a good student. She had neglected her studies in favor of fun and games, and ended up brawling with her fellow students...

Gu Nianzhi could almost see Huo Shaoheng's silent, serious face before her. She imagined the profound disappointment in his eyes...

Yin Shixiong raised an eyebrow and sat beside her. He patted her comfortingly on the shoulder and said gently, "Nianzhi, c'mon, be honest now: when did Uncle Huo ever scold you?"

Gu Nianzhi: "..."

"He never scolds anyone. He just gives us the silent treatment," continued Yin Shixiong, laughing.

Gu Nianzhi exploded at this. She shoved Yin Shixiong, her eyes red with unshed tears. "Did you have to rub salt into my wounds, Brother Xiong? Can't you see I'm really, really depressed here?"

"Okay, okay, it was just a joke, I thought you might find it funny." Yin Shixiong helped her off the window sill. "C'mere, I have an excellent ointment for your cheek. I guarantee the swelling will be gone by tomorrow."

"Really?" Gu Nianzhi looked at Yin Shixiong skeptically. "That sounds too good to be true."

"The new and improved Green Ointment, a traditional Huaxia formula modified by Chen Lie. Only the best for you, my dear!" said Yin Shixiong cheekily as he led Gu Nianzhi to his room. He rummaged through his drawers for the ointment that had been specially formulated to treat skin and soft-tissue bruises, and carefully dabbed it on Gu Nianzhi's cheek.

Gu Nianzhi felt the ointment sink into her skin, cool and refreshing. The heat immediately dissipated from her cheek.

The ointment was a lot more effective than any western medicine the doctors in the emergency room could have prescribed her.

Gu Nianzhi also knew that the ointment, being a traditional Huaxia medicinal formula, was easier on her skin.

Her spirits lifted. She took the ointment from Yin Shixiong and asked, "Do you have anything for sore muscles? I walked for an hour today, I can't feel my legs."

"An hour?" Yin Shixiong was surprised. "Why did you walk for an hour? Professor He drives a Lamborghini, why did you even have to walk?"

The anger returned to Gu Nianzhi as soon as she thought of He Zhichu. She gave a sullen pout, and said, "...Professor He threw me out. He didn't even get a cab for me, so I walked back here, all by myself."

"What?!" Yin Shixiong sprang to his feet in thunderous anger. He shouted, "He made you-a seriously injured girl-walk for more than an hour?!"

"Uh-huh!" Gu Nianzhi nodded again and again. "Wasn't that really cruel of him?!"

"Yes, it definitely was!" Yin Shixiong slammed his fist against on the wall. He regretted what he had said to Huo Shaoheng.

He took back his words.

He no longer believed that He Zhichu was romantically interested in Gu Nianzhi.

No man would ever allow the woman he loved to suffer!

And Gu Nianzhi had been injured, besides!

"I'm calling him-I'm going to give him a piece of my mind, right this instant. What if something had happened to you? Can he take responsibility for it?" Yin Shixiong was absolutely furious. He called He Zhichu's number, over and over again.

He Zhichu was so annoyed he blocked Yin Shixiong's number.

Gu Nianzhi put her hands on Yin Shixiong's arm. "Brother Xiong, forget it, no point calling him. Let's talk about something else-I met someone on my way back. Can you guess who?"

"I can't even begin to guess, there are so many people on this planet. You got me there." Yin Shixiong took a deep breath, and grudgingly put a lid on the anger that had welled up inside him.

Gu Nianzhi grinned as she handed him a drink. "...It was Mei Xiawen, my class rep."