Shen Yuan knew his stuff, and he knew it with a passion. Many of his colleges would saw off their own limbs before debating with him over some topic, for they knew they would be demolished. The general consensus was that it was an occupational hazard for him, considering his brother was the Genius Tyrant of Cang Qiong University, and Shen Yuan was following in his footsteps; he wasn’t even twenty-four yet, and he had three bachelors and was going for his first master, all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA in all of his courses, if not higher.
But the one thing that people didn’t think Shen Yuan could do was transfer his passion to others, and that’s why they always laughed at him when he said he was going to tutor someone or help his brother as a TA, but now, he could laugh at them.
His lessons, his help, had made a student switch their major entirely, all their classes they had taken up until that point for nothing. Not that it was good, letting the student waste all that money on useless tuition, but Shen Yuan couldn’t help but feel proud. He’d stolen something, someone good from the Business majors.
Yes, Luo Binghe was a very smart, very good, very attractive young man, and Shen Yuan had managed to steal him from a fate of boring business jobs and shown him something much much more attractive than that.
He’d shown him love. Well, not exactly. Shen Yuan was still under the impression that Luo Binghe had switched majors because Biology was just so damn interesting, but really, Luo Binghe had one interest in the Department of Biology.
And that was Shen Yuan.
Fanning themselves in the heat, the trio cowered into the shade. “I can’t believe you guys actually managed to convince me to take summer classes, and useless ones at that,” Luo Binghe groaned, the oppressive heat around them draining any anger from his voice, leaving only one thing; defeat. “I mean, if they had better teachers and air-conditioned rooms, I could survive it, but Professor Shang is useless and Professor Shen acts like he wants to decapitate me anytime I even look his way.”
“Maybe if you focused on the class instead of your phone, he wouldn’t call you ‘Little Beast’ and rip into you in the middle of a lecture,” Ning Yingying replied scaldingly, “or, you know, maybe, actually pass one of the weekly quizzes. I know this class means nothing to you, but if you fail it you will be kicked off the dean’s list. Yue Qingyuan is nice, but even he isn’t nice enough to bend the rules that much to let that slide.”
“Plus, he’s sweet for Professor Shen.” Liu Mingyan piped up, holding a cold pop can to her neck. “No one says it often enough, but they’re literally married, just without the rings and exchanged vows.”
Luo Binghe rolled over to look pleadingly at Ning Yingying, “Professor Shen likes you, do you think there is anything he’ll let me do to make up the quizzes? I can’t lose the dean’s list; I won’t be able to afford to pay for tuition!” He cried, trying to make himself look extra pitiful to convince her.
“Huh, you could come to my tutoring session with me—I go to the sessions run for free in the library, the tutor is really good,” She responds, “I mean, he is Professor Shen’s younger brother, so if you want to get back into his good books, get into Shen Yuan’s good books. It’s considerably easier, although defiantly not easy either. No one had succeeded, yet.”
“What are we talking about?” Another voice pipes up, and the trio turns to look at Gongyi Xiao, approaching them with his basketball under his arm.
“How A-Luo needs to get back into Professor Shen’s good graces through Shen Yuan,” Ning Yingying helpfully responds, holding her hands out for the object in Gongyi Xiao’s hand, cold and refreshing.
Skillfully, a can covered in condensation is tossed her way, and she catches it with ease. “Don’t worry about it, you can get me back later,” He said offhandedly, before turning his attention to Luo Binghe, “So, as discussed, Shen Yuan is Professor Shen’s weak spot, but he is difficult to read. But he likes good food, and I once overheard Prof Shen complaining to Shen Yuan that he doesn’t eat enough, so bring something to share to your tutoring lessons. Your food is enough to win anybody over, so use it as your weapon!”
“You’re right, I can do this,” Luo Binghe assures, the crushing humid heat around him forgotten in his prospective victory, “Thanks, Gauzy. Ning Yingying, what’s Shen Yuan’s favourite food?”
“Dude, can we not use that nickname, it’s honestly terrible,” Gongyi Xiao complains, falling onto the grass beside the aforementioned three.
“No can do, Gauzy, because we can see right through you,” Liu Mingyan informs him, “and we know that you love it. You’re our Gauzy.”
After some grumbling and bickering, a plan is finally made and the group finally parts ways; Liu Mingyan and Ning Yingying to their night classes, Gongyi Xiao to his job, and Luo Binghe, to the kitchens.
Shen Yuan wasn’t sure what to make of this. He was used to people trying to get close to him, since his older brother was so intimidating, but usually they gave up within a couple of days when they realized that his icy exterior, which had many similar aspects to his brother’s, maybe only a little less cutting, was not going to thaw, no matter how nice they were to him.
First, it had been cookies, for the study group. Two dozen of the best, moist, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, shared between only him and the three students that showed up. He had eaten about nine of them, all to himself, Shen Yuan realized after he had finished the lesson. Embarrassing.
The next day, they showed up again, their friend still in tow, with more food. The best food Shen Yuan had ever tasted. This time, it was fried tofu in some kind of amazing sauce, with toothpicks on the side. If he wasn’t trying to be considerate to the other two students, other than the ones responsible for the delicacies, he would have eaten them all happily, shamelessly, but alas.
The pattern continued for the rest of the week, honestly, the best Shen Yuan had eaten in months, taste-wise, and Shen Jiu was so pleased upon hearing this that he personally thanked the student, and Shen Yuan had thought, regrettably, that would be the end of that delicious food, and he was gleefully surprised that his assumptions, for once, were wrong.
In front of him were perfectly sized dumplings, looking manufactured by some perfect company. And yet, he was assured by the past efforts of the new addition to his little band of students, that had made them himself, by hand, from fucking scratch.
And oh, boy were they delicious. Shen Yuan was having a hard time focusing on the lesson and the questions he was reviewing with the group, which had now amassed the number of six, as the box of dumplings called temptingly to him. He couldn’t talk with a dumpling in his mouth, but he also couldn’t talk if his words were drowned out by the grumbling of his stomach. He ate another.
Now, the student in question was having a wholly different dilemma in focusing on the lesson as well, and it had nothing to do with the dumplings he had poured his heart and soul into, hoping it would get him into both Shen Yuan and Professor Shen Jiu’s good books, although that had already been achieved.
No, his distraction had nothing to do with food, and he’d come upon this goal during the first study session, as they were called, Luo Binghe had accompanied Ning Yingying to. Now that he had found this distraction, it followed him everywhere, to his classes, to the coffee shop around the corner, the secluded place in the library where the light had shone in at just the right angle to illuminate his hair, and giving this distraction a halo.
Luo Binghe thought he looked more divine than anything he could every make or cook with his own two, most capable hands, although he was not against taking a bite out of this distraction of his if they would let him.
His distraction came with the name Shen Yuan.