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439 Probing the Past 1

 Gu Nianzhi stood and glumly said, "Huo Shao, I'll go and write my reflection essay in there."

Not knowing what to say, Huo Shaoheng waved his hand to indicate his approval. Gu Nianzhi hugged her bag and started walking but turned around quickly.

"Professor He, I left my laptop in the dormitory. How will I write my reflection essay?"

"Did you forget how to write without a computer? Use a pen and paper. There's some in the study," He Zhichu said coldly, but still walked to the study with her to prepare the writing material. "Sit down. Write properly."

Gu Nianzhi had no choice. Rubbing her hands, she said meekly, "my handwriting isn't very good. Professor He, please understand."

He Zhichu stopped in his tracks and turned around. Gu Nianzhi continued quickly. "Can I just do a draft today and type it out and send it to you after I get back please?"

He Zhichu did not turn back. He merely said, "there's no need. Just give it to me after you're done."

"But... but... this reflection will be included in my personal record in the future. It will follow me for the rest of my life, and I want it to be neat. I'm not asking too much, am I?" Gu Nianzhi's voice became even softer. It was obvious she was asking to be spared.

He Zhichu shook his head. "Don't think so much. Just complete it first."

He closed the door and left the study.

Zhao Liangze walked towards He Zhichu and asked politely, "Professor He, can I please go in and accompany Nianzhi? She hasn't written a single reflection essay in her life, and I might not know how to go about doing it-"

"Fine." Surprisingly, He Zhichu did not stop him. He opened the door for him. "Go on in."

Zhao Liangze quickly went in and heard the door close with a click behind.

Gu Nianzhi turned around. When she realized it was Zhao Liangze, she waved at him happily. "Brother Ze, come here! Do you know how to write a reflection essay?"

"I guessed you wouldn't know how to write it." Zhao Liangze smiled as he sat down on the chair beside her. "Come, I'll write it for you, but you'll have to tell me exactly what happened."

Gu Nianzhi moved aside and watched Zhao Liangze write her reflections for her while she began narrating what happened.

"Honestly, it's not very complicated. Miao Yunxiao insulted me and intentionally pissed me off. Then I slapped her on the face once." Gu Nianzhi shrugged and continued. "If she ever says those things about my parents again, I'd slap her a second time."

"What did she say?" Zhao Liangze's pen flew across the paper while he listened to her story.

"She said that I had no parents to give me a proper upbringing." Tears welled up in Gu Nianzhi's eyes when she thought about Miao Yunxiao's words. She just couldn't control herself.

"What! Why is she like that? How could she say that!" Zhao Liangze was angry as well. He flailed his fists and continued. "She ought to be slapped! If I was there, I would've slapped her along with you!"

Gu Nianzhi burst into laughter and took some tissue paper from the table to wipe her tears away. "You're exaggerating, Brother Ze. I felt better after giving her that slap, but I just don't understand why she had to bring my parents into it. It's not like she's in the dark about me being an orphan."

"She intentionally wanted to piss you off and she knew what to say in order to upset you. She knew you wouldn't be able to think straight." Zhao Liangze said after thinking for a moment. "Nianzhi, stop blaming yourself. This incident might look simple, but there are many complicated factors behind it."

Gu Nianzhi looked up at the study's pure white ceiling and began thinking. "Brother Ze, are you saying there is some kind of mastermind behind Miao Yunxiao? You think the entire episode was meant to help Xu Piaohong get free and pull Huo Shao down?"

"More or less. However, we never expected the Xu's to do anything like this. We underestimated them." Zhao Liangze snorted and wrote even faster.

Gu Nianzhi looked over at him and couldn't help but smile. "Brother Ze, your reflection essay is so well done! Only your handwriting is even worse than mine!"

"Hey! I'm writing this for you, and you're still dissing me?" Zhao Liangze pretended to be offended and glared at her. "Rewrite it on your own. You can copy my content after I'm done."

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Gu Nianzhi happily agreed. A thought came to her mind, and she asked softly, "Brother Ze, why is your reflection essay so well done? Did you write many reflections in the past?"

"Of course. When I first entered the army, I was always getting in trouble. Mr. Huo scolded me countless times, so I wrote countless reflection essays for him. That's why I know exactly what to say." Zhao Liangze had not realized he was proud of his 'achievement' until that moment.

Gu Nianzhi understood. "Huo Shao asked you to come here and help me?"

Zhao Liangze pursed his lips and stopped talking. Gu Nianzhi swiveled in her chair, rested her chin on her arms, and smiled.

...

He Zhichu and Huo Shaoheng sat alone in the living room beside the study.

He Zhichu made a cup of coffee for Huo Shaoheng and placed it on the coffee table between the sofa.

Huo Shaoheng nodded and said thoughtfully, "Professor He, Nianzhi has always been an obedient girl. This was an accident. You already know the reason. Surely, you understand."

He Zhichu sat on the single sofa. Placing his elbow on the sofa's arm and crossing his leg, he said calmly, "Nianzhi didn't do anything wrong, so there's no need for me to understand. You don't have to plead for her, and there won't be any need to scold her."

Huo Shaoheng was slightly taken aback. "If Nianzhi did something wrong, she should be punished."

"What has she done wrong?" He Zhichu was getting annoyed. "I've already said it's fine. Why must you still punish her?"

"She knew she was being provoked, but she still allowed her emotions to overcome her. That was her mistake." Huo Shaoheng also placed his elbow on the sofa's arm and sat down comfortably. "She is a grown adult. She shouldn't lose control of her emotions like a child."

"Mr. Huo, I think you're mistaken. Age isn't an issue when it comes to controlling one's emotions." He Zhichu said coldly. "Some people can still be easily agitated and lose control of their emotions at the age of 80, while some people are born cold-blooded. They might already know how to conceal their true emotions even before they're of legal age."

"This has nothing to do with being agitated easily." Huo Shaoheng shook his head in disagreement. "Professor He, Nianzhi doesn't have a family. She's an orphan. She grew up with us: a group of men. It is true we neglected this aspect. I will guide her better in the future. Hopefully, Professor He, you'll be patient with us."

He Zhichu wanted to retort, but upon hearing Huo Shaoheng mention Gu Nianzhi's childhood, he got lost in his thoughts. How adorable Gu Nianzhi must have been as a child. Perhaps, she hadn't been as beautiful in the eyes of others, but in his eyes, she was the most treasured gem...And she looked so beautiful grown up.

After coming back to his senses, He Zhichu tapped his fingers on the sofa lightly, but he still couldn't hold himself back. He pretended to be calm and asked, "Oh? Nianzhi grew up in the Force with you and your men?"

"Yes, and I was usually busy. Nianzhi didn't need me to worry much about her. She mostly took care of herself." Huo Shaoheng observed He Zhichu's reactions closely as he replied.

He'd brought up the topic of Gu Nianzhi childhood intentionally, mainly to observe He Zhichu's reaction. He wanted to know why and how much he cared for her.

Was it a familial love or a romantic one?

The members of the Special Forces were all experts at observing the reactions of others. They even took psychology courses on body language and facial expressions so they could gauge how much the other party cared about a certain issue. So they'd never be fooled by appearances.

Even though He Zhichu looked the same as he had just a moment ago, Huo Shaoheng noticed he clenched his fist when he'd mentioned Gu Nianzhi's past. It was only for a small gesture, but it showed He Zhichu cared about this topic a lot.

So he was really from Gu Nianzhi's past?

Huo Shaoheng took a small sip of the coffee but didn't swallow, as was his habit. He seldom accepts food or drinks from others.

"She took care of herself? I thought, as her guardian, you would be the one taking care of her." He Zhichu looked at Huo Shaoheng coldly. "Seems like your role as a guardian, Mr. Huo, wasn't done very well."