Side Story Three
Master sat inside the princ.i.p.al’s office for three hours. He spent three hours explaining to the princ.i.p.al, Mr and Mrs Zhen and Mr and Mrs Gu that he didn’t plan on kidnapping Zhen Lang and Gu Jing.
‘I really like Zhen Lang and Gu Jing. Their bodies are suitable for training. Let me train them and I promise they’ll be chosen to be on the national team,’ master pleaded.
Mrs Gu looked at her husband but she didn’t say anything.
Mrs Zhen took slow breaths.
Mr Zhen secretly winked at Mr Gu. ‘It’s good for young children to train their bodies, especially young boys.’
Mrs Zhen supressed her anxieties.
Mr Zhen patted his wife’s tensed hand and he looked apologetically at master. ‘But I’m sorry, Zhen Lang is mine and my wife’s only son. My wife doesn’t want our son to suffer.’
Master heard the finality in Mr Zhen’s tone of voice, and he knew Mr and Mrs Gu’s consent was his last hope. ‘I think Gu Jing is a lively girl. It’s better if you let me train her than let her run around wild and causing trouble. It’s good for her to learn self-defence to protect herself in the future. Others can’t bully her and she gets to be on the national team.’
Master wanted to carry Zhen Lang and Gu Jing back to his home and train them. He looked at Mrs Zhen’s resolute face and he knew Zhen Lang was off the table. But he didn’t want to let go of the chance to at least make Gu Jing his pupil. Zhen Lang and Gu Jing were like buried jade, it’d be a tragedy to waste their potentials.
Mrs Gu contemplated about master’s words. She knew her daughter loved to jump up and down all day, whether chasing chickens, kicking dogs or punching cats. One look at her daughter and her heart would feel anxious. It’d be good to let master train her daughter and take away some of her daughter’s restless energy.
Mr Gu gaged his wife’s thoughts for a while. ‘Mine and my wife’s daughter likes to be active, but I don’t want to pressure our daughter. If our daughter wants to train with you then you have my permission to train her. If our daughter doesn’t want to train with you then there’s nothing left to discuss.’
Master didn’t receive a definite consent, but there was a shred of hope left. He knew Gu Jing loved to fight, and she would agree to train with him.
Zhen Lang’s voice outside the princ.i.p.al’s office broke master’s hopeful thoughts.
‘They’re fighting!’ Zhen Lang said.
Mrs Gu jumped up and she rushed outside. ‘Little rabbit, you trouble maker! I’m going to knock a hole in your head!’
Everyone else in the princ.i.p.al’s office followed Mrs Gu outside.
On the playground, there was a big tear on Gu Jing’s shirt, her shirt sleeves were torn too, her body was covered in dust, a drip of blood below her nose and she stood in front of Zhen Lang to protect him.
Gu Jing wiped her nose with her shirt sleeve and she didn’t care about the blood stain on her shirt sleeve. She looked defiantly at the bigger boys that surrounded her and Zhen Lang. ‘Come here, how dare you bully Zhen Lang. Come here and continue to fight me.’
The seven or eight bigger boys were in a more pitiful state than Gu Jing. Their bodies were covered in dust, bruises and scratch marks.
‘Little rabbit, you trouble maker!’ Mrs Gu yelled.
Gu Jing pouted her lips and she protested. ‘They were bullying Zhen Lang!’
The moment the bigger boys saw the adults they dispersed and ran off in different directions.
Gu Jing wanted to chase after them. ‘Don’t run away! Fight another round with me. If you boys lose then you boys have to promise not to make any more trouble!’
‘Fight your head,’ Mrs Gu said. She pulled her daughter’s shirt collar to stop her daughter chasing those boys. ‘If you fight again then I’ll skin you.’
‘Wait,’ Gu Jing said. She took off her shirt to escape her mum’s grip. She ran to Zhen Lang, held his doll face and she carefully looked at his body to see if he was injured anywhere. ‘Are you ok? Did they hit you anywhere?’
Zhen Lang shook his head. He gently wiped the blood off Gu Jing’s nose. Suddenly he blinked back tears in his eyes.
‘You promised me you wouldn’t cry anymore,’ Gu Jing said.
Zhen Lang quickly blinked several times. A tear drop fell down his eyelashes, but he held back his tears like his life depended on it.
‘You’re bleeding,’ Zhen Lang said. He frowned and he gently rubbed Gu Jing’s cheeks. ‘Are you in pain?’
Gu Jing shook her head and she smiled. ‘I’m used to it. If you were hit then you would feel pain.’
Gu Jing licked her teeth and she took out a broken tooth. ‘Mum, I broke a tooth.’
Gu Jing didn’t care about the blood on her broken tooth and she showed it to her mum.
‘Ah!’ Master cried. He rushed toward Gu Jing and stood in front of her. Her broken tooth broke his heart to death. ‘Did those boys. .h.i.t you? Are you in pain?’
Gu Jing put up her guard. ‘Who are you?’
‘Uncle is a highly skilled fighter. Do you want to follow master and learn how to fight?’ master said.
Gu Jing’s eyes lit up. ‘Will it help me to protect Zhen Lang?’
‘Of course!’ master said. He hit his puffed chest. ‘Today you were hit. But in the future you can fight against ten people and it won’t be a problem. You can definitely protect Zhen Lang.’
‘Then…’ Gu Jing said. She looked at Zhen Lang who stood next to her. She held his soft hand. ‘I’m going to learn to fight. In the future I can protect you, you won’t be bullied anymore, ok?’
Zhen Lang looked at Gu Jing’s broken tooth on the ground, but he didn’t say anything.
Gu Jing shook Zhen Lang’s hand. ‘You belong to me. I won’t let anyone else touch your body. I don’t care, it’s decided, I’m going to learn to fight then I can protect you.’
‘Stop talking, hurry up and go to the nurse’s office,’ the six adults said.
Gu Jing held Zhen Lang’s hand and they ran to the nurse’s office.
A doctor arrived and examined Gu Jing’s body for injuries.
Zhen Lang silently held Gu Jing’s hand and he frowned.
Gu Jing smiled sweetly. ‘Zhen Lang, I want to learn to fight. But while I’m learning to fight I won’t see you.’ She frowned. ‘Then I won’t learn to fight anymore. Besides, I’m already winning fights.’
Master didn’t want to let Gu Jing fly away. ‘Zhen Lang can be beside you and watch you while you learn to fight.’
Gu Jing looked pitifully at Zhen Lang and she waited for his answer.
Zhen Lang held Gu Jing’s hand tightly and he nodded his head. ‘Ok, I’ll be beside Gu Jing while she learns to fight.’
Gu Jing’s smile was like a beautiful camellia, except a little dusty with a missing tooth.
‘Gu Jing’s ok. Her baby teeth are wobbly. A new tooth will replace her broken teeth. She needs to take good care of her teeth,’ the doctor said.
The adults in the room sighed in relief and they focused their attentions on Gu Jing. They didn’t notice Zhen Lang was in deep thought, which was unusual for a young child his age.
Master’s wish was granted. He trained Gu Jing and her fighting skills improved after each training session. Zhen Lang always silently stayed beside Gu Jing, and he watched her train. If Gu Jing turned around to look at him, he would smile. After she finished a training session he would unwrap a lollipop and give it to her.
A few days after master trained Gu Jing, he was surprised to see Zhen Lang calmly waited for him outside his home. It made him wonder why Zhen Lang and Gu Jing’s personalities were so different but they loved to be around each other.
Master looked behind Zhen Lang, but he didn’t see his precious little monkey pupil. ‘Where’s Gu Jing?’
Zhen Lang walked into master’s home. He put his bag on the living room floor and he stood where Gu Jing always stood to train. ‘She’s staying back at school. The teacher scolded her for not doing her homework.’
Master still felt regretful Zhen Lang couldn’t be his pupil too. ‘Then did you come here to look for me?’
‘Yes. If I learn to fight does it mean I can protect someone else?’ Zhen Lang said.
Master hit his puffed chest. ‘Of course, didn’t you see for yourself? All my pupils have good fighting skills.’
Zhen Lang nodded his head. ‘Ok, from today onward I’ll learn to fight with master.’
‘Really?’ master asked.
Master wanted to hug the handsome doll face Zhen Lang. But unexpectedly Zhen Lang’s reaction was faster, Zhen Lang ran a few steps and avoided his hug.
‘But I have conditions. Firstly, I’m not going to learn to fight with Gu Jing and master can’t tell Gu Jing that I’m your pupil too. Secondly, I’m not going to compete in any tournaments. I’m only learning to fight because I don’t want anyone else bully Gu Jing. Thirdly, if you let Gu Jing be injured then I won’t let her learn to fight with master anymore,’ Zhen Lang said.
Master was surprised why Zhen Lang was a child but he discussed conditions with him like an adult.
Zhen Lang frowned. ‘Master, do you agree to my conditions? If you disagree with my conditions then I’ll find someone else to train me.’
‘Of course I agree!’ Master said and he nodded his head.
Master thought as long as Zhen Lang became his pupil, he didn’t need to take a young child’s conditions seriously. Perhaps later Zhen Lang would taste victory after a fight and Zhen Lang would change his mind about wanting to compete in tournaments.
‘When do you want to train? You’re with Gu Jing all day, perhaps you can’t secretly train without her knowing. Why don’t you train together with her?’ master said.
‘No need,’ Zhen Lang said. He picked up his school bag and he brushed dust off his school bag. ‘Gu Jing takes a long time to study. Each day I have at least two or three hours free to look for master.’
Master didn’t know if it was possible to train Zhen Lang without Gu Jing finding out.
Zhen Lang waved bye to master. ‘I said everything with master. I’m going home.’
Master ran outside and he called out to Zhen Lang. ‘Do you want to learn to fight because you saw Gu Jing was hurt last time? If it’s true then why did you wait until now to say something?’
Zhen Lang stopped walking, turned around and he smiled at master. ‘If I don’t see for myself that you’re a highly skilled fighter, how will I know if you’re suited to be my master?’
Master was speechless.
End of Side Story Three