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916 Off the Charts in Many Aspects

 New Year's Day-a new year and a new day.

Gu Nianzhi woke up in her dormitory but was still unwilling to open her eyes. The room was quiet, as Ma Qiqi had gone home to spend New Year's Day with her family.

In order to graduate early, Gu Nianzhi had taken on so many electives that her workload was at least three times that of Ma Qiqi's. In postgraduate studies, the bulk of her workload involved writing dissertations. Since she enrolled half a year later than her classmates and wanted to graduate a year and a half early, she actually was going to spend only one year studying.

Naturally, she had to make more sacrifices since she hoped to do within a year what others would take three years to complete. However, all her hard work would be worth it. If everything went as planned, she'd be able to graduate right after her final exams in the winter!

In order to do that, she first needed to complete the first draft of her dissertation and have it vetted by He Zhichu. She then needed to find a teacher before the start of her final exams to defend her dissertation. There really wasn't much time left. Chinese New Year fell on February 14th of the Gregorian calendar, which was Valentine's Day in the western world. #All the holidays are coming together #Feeling spent

Gu Nianzhi let out a long sigh and finally sat up in bed after rubbing her eyes. She glanced around dreamily before grabbing her phone from the nightstand and checking it. It was already ten o'clock in the morning.

Gu Nianzhi placed her pillow at the head of the bed and leaned against it, took out her phone, and proceeded with her daily activities. She went on social media, watched the news, texted, and checked on the progress of the cases that she was involved in.

Gu Nianzhi only switched her phone back into call mode when she received Huo Shaoheng's phone call. She picked up the call with a "Hi."

Huo Shaoheng had been working all night. However, instead of going home to sleep, he went out for a run. He then showered and called Gu Nianzhi after breakfast at around 10am.

He knew how busy Gu Nianzhi had been these days, burning the midnight oil every night, working on her graduation dissertation and homework. His heart ached for her, but he knew that she had to do this in order to graduate early. Huo Shaoheng also wanted her to graduate early.

He was on duty as usual, even though it was New Year's Day. During the New Year holiday, his subordinates were allowed to take turns going on vacation. As the Major General, however, he had to be on duty as usual. This had been the case without exception for seven years. He was only doing this so that his subordinates and the young soldiers, who had worked hard the entire year, could have more time off. Since he couldn't meet up with Gu Nianzhi, he could only call to wish her a "Happy New Year."

Gu Nianzhi held onto her phone as she smiled and said, "I wish you a Happy New Year, too, Young Master Huo! Keep getting better every step of the way!"

Huo Shaoheng laughed as he dusted the cigarette ashes off his hands. He shook his head and said, "I see you're becoming more glib-tongued." Then he asked, "So are you up? Have you had breakfast?"

Gu Nianzhi rushed and got up from her bed silently. She tried her best to maintain a stable tone and said, "Of course I'm up. What time is it already? And you're still talking about breakfast?"

The corner of Huo Shaoheng's mouth turned up as he said nonchalantly, "Ok, that's good." Then, he caught her off guard and asked again, "So have you brushed your teeth yet?"

Gu Nianzhi shook her head and said without thinking, "Not yet. I'm about to go brush my teeth now." She knew from the moment she finished her sentence that her cover was blown. Wasn't this just a self-induced confession? Moments ago, she just said that she woke up early today and that she had had her breakfast. In the end, Huo Shaoheng tricked her into blowing her cover...

Gu Nianzhi's face turned crimson as she hurriedly added, "All right, I'll end the call now. Time for me to head to the library!" She hung up the call immediately. She entered the bathroom while covering her bright red face and started washing up.

After washing up, she heard her phone ring again as she was standing in front of her closet, picking out her outfit for the day. She checked her phone and saw that it was He Zhichu. She swiped her finger across the screen to answer the call. "Professor He, Happy New Year!"

With a lunch box in hand, He Zhichu had called her up as he stood straight as a ramrod in front of the law department's female dormitory, "You must have burned the midnight oil again yesterday, right? Come down. I brought some food over for you."

Gu Nianzhi cheered as she dashed to the balcony with her phone in hand. He Zhichu was there indeed, standing under the big tree downstairs. She waved at him with a smile and went downstairs after casually throwing on a thick cashmere sweater with a big B logo on it. She paired the sweater with skinny woolen pants and fleece-lined UGG boots.

As she came out of the dormitory, He Zhichu noticed that she was without her coat and frowned ever so slightly. "Previously, you developed a fever from the cold you caught. Why are you still being so careless? Hurry back. Why would you come out without a coat on?" He said while handing the lunch box over to her, "I'm leaving. I still have some matters to deal with." Without a pause, He Zhichu turned around and left.

As Gu Nianzhi took the lunch box, she felt a sort of warmth washing over her soul, and it radiated from within her. As she stared blankly at his back, which was getting further away from her, she felt a sense of familiarity that she couldn't quite put her finger on. This feeling of familiarity didn't come from the recent interactions she'd had with him. It felt more like a scene that was etched into her mind from a long time ago.

She closed her eyes, and fragmented images flashed before her. She saw herself in a field of green, standing underneath a large banyan tree, holding onto a doll. She appeared to be about five or six years old, and she was staring blankly at the back of a young man that was gradually getting further away from her.

With the blink of an eye, she then saw herself at a boisterous birthday party. There, she was wearing a princess's tiara and looked to be about ten years old. She started bawling all of a sudden as she watched a youth turn his back to her with resolve. She threw the birthday cake that she was holding onto the ground and threw a tantrum, hoping that the youth who was leaving would turn back around and come back to her.

Hearing the commotion behind him, he slowed his footsteps. She then started crying even more loudly as she covered her chubby little face with her hands and secretly peered at the youth's tall and handsome back with her round eyes from between the gaps of her fingers.

The youth finally turned around. Gu Nianzhi shuddered as the vision in her mind disappeared instantly. It was as magical as a daydream. Unfortunately, she snapped out of her reverie too soon and didn't get to see who the young man was.

From the back, the young man looked a lot like He Zhichu but slightly thinner in comparison. He was tall and handsome like He Zhichu and exuded an unconscious aura of sturdiness when he walked. His contrasting charm was adorable.

Gu Nianzhi rubbed her forehead and went upstairs with the lunch box. Once in her dormitory, she opened the box and discovered three smaller food compartments in it, each containing a different dish. There was a piping-hot bowl of soup, three pieces of flavorful soup dumplings, and some shrimp dumplings.

The shrimp dumplings looked exquisite. Their slight crimson-colored filling was similar to that of a glutinous rice ball's red bean paste filling. However, unlike the thick exterior of a glutinous rice ball, the skin of shrimp dumplings was made of a thin layer of translucent dough, so they looked very appetizing.

However, Gu Nianzhi managed to resist her desire to gobble down the shrimp dumplings and started her meal in her usual fashion, by first eating the soup. She then picked up the shrimp dumplings with her chopsticks and savored them one at a time.

She really wanted to devour all of the shrimp dumplings but held back and stopped eating them after having only four. She ate all the soup dumplings, however. She licked the corners of her mouth when she was done and stretched her back, longing for more.

How nice! The first day of the New Year began with eating well and keeping warm.

Gu Nianzhi made a face in the mirror and found a small container, into which she scraped the remaining shrimp dumplings. She then washed, dried, and reassembled the lunch box so that she could return it to He Zhichu when they met in class.

After the sumptuous brunch, Gu Nianzhi checked her watch and realized that it was nearly 11am. If she headed to the library now, she would still be able to study for six hours if she returned at 5pm. So she packed her bag and headed downstairs with her laptop. After wrapping her scarf around her, she mounted her bicycle and sped to the library.

The campus was very quiet on New Year's Day. Most of the students had been at the countdown party last night and only returned to their dormitory late at night. They were all still sleeping at this hour.

She was the only person riding a bicycle through the spacious campus grounds. She felt happy and relaxed in that moment. She even tried riding her bicycle with only one hand and did so charmingly.

Once she arrived at the library, she parked her bicycle in front of the library and ran up the library steps with her backpack behind her. At that moment, a young man dressed in a long gray coat walked out from the library in hurried steps with his head down.

The young man was Ishihara Taro.

Gu Nianzhi was busy tidying up her scarf and was not aware of her surroundings. The two of them walked in opposite directions towards each other and almost knocked into each other.

Gu Nianzhi sensed something amiss as the two of them got closer to each other and took a nimble step to the side just in time. By doing so, she was able to avoid running into the stranger's arms at the very last minute.

She raised her eyes quietly and sized him up. He turned out to be a handsome youth who looked at most only 15 or 16 years old. Ishihara Taro raised his head and glanced at Gu Nianzhi. His only thought was that the pair of bright eyes belonging to the girl in front of him resembled the reflective brightness of dark black glass. They shone and were so bright that he could not help but feel slightly taken aback.

They looked at each other for a moment when she suddenly recalled that she had met him before. It was on Christmas day, and like him, she was walking out from the library when she was almost knocked down by a bicycle. She saw the same youth bowing to her when she turned back.

"Sorry for having bothered you," Ishihara Taro appeared to be very polite as he bowed his head respectfully.

Gu Nianzhi glanced at him silently, ignored him, and went straight into the library. Ishihara Taro waited until she was gone before turning back to stare at the library entrance. He murmured with a sneer, "How rude, but well, that's all there is to it." He shook his head and left B University for his condominium.

He checked his email inbox once he got to the condominium and replied to an email. "Could you help me get a place as a first year foreign transfer student at B University's Master of Law program?"

A reply came shortly after the email was sent. "Certainly, and with pleasure."

B University's Law Department was in a collaborative relationship with Tokyo University's School of Law. Ishihara's family was very influential in Japan. Ishihara himself was the last disciple of the Tokyo University's president. Getting into B University's Master of Law program through connections was a piece of cake.

What others found difficult was easy for him.

...

After New Year's celebrations, students started returning to school one after another. Gu Nianzhi usually attended her classes with He Zhichu, so she seldom interacted with her classmates. Therefore, she didn't hear news of the dashing Japanese transfer student who transferred into the first year of their Master of Law program. She only learned about this from Ma Qiqi.

"Nianzhi, let me tell you, this kid is just! His IQ is off the charts! His looks are off the charts! What's more, his demeanor is off the charts!" Ma Qiqi smiled then sighed. "I would've given him a full score if he wasn't Japanese!"