Chapter 20 — The Labor Society of The Demerit Kings (2)
Lu Rong could not understand where Lin Mu got his courage to say that. When he pretended to be Lin Zhao, why did he not say something like “you don’t have to be shy”?
The little liar seemed to even think that he had managed to deceive him. As such, Lu Rong also did not plan on exposing him, only making a few rather pointed remarks periodically. Lin would then try to patch up his lies even more, and before he could fully patch one up, he would have to work on patching up another. For some reason, Lu Rong found it amusing, yet still felt a little sorry for him.
The swimming pool was quickly filled. The evening self-study session had also ended, and students from the first and second year were all dismissed. Like a flood, they made their way past the sports ground.
Lin Zhao sent him a text, informing him that there was an evening match in the Go institute. Lin Yanlai would pick her up later, and she told Lin Mu to go home by himself. Looking at his phone, Lin Mu thought for a moment, then asked Lu Rong if he wanted to leave together.
“We’re all living in the east zone anyway.” Lin Mu wiped his feet clean and wore his shoes; his hair still dripping with water.
It made no difference to Lu Rong, but Chen Meihua was very happy. She wanted to eat ice cream, and she kept talking about it.
The three of them left the school together to take the subway. On Chen Meihua’s neck was a card — proof that she was an Alzheimer’s patient. that she was an Alzheimer’s patient. Although her peculiar behavior was monitored by Lu Rong, it still attracted the attention of others.
Lin Mu chatted with her, only speaking with Lu Rong occasionally. The latter was the silent type, and it was rare of him to take the initiative in starting a conversation topic.
“Which part of the east zone do you live in?” Lin Mu asked.
The east zone was big and located next to the business park. Overall, the housing prices were not expensive, and there were many shopping areas. Lu Rong told him the area of the place where he lived, and Lin Mu smiled, “We live very close to each other.”
Chen Meihua said that she often bought ice cream from a supermarket near them. Lin Mu wondered if it could be Luo Yu’s store, and his guess was soon verified after asking her the name of the store.
“I know the boss very well.” Lin Mu felt a pride of being well-connected. He told Lu Rong, “Later on, I’ll treat you guys.”
Lu Rong gazed at him, neither agreeing nor disagreeing.
Two trains arrived at the same time, and a lot more people got on. Protecting Chen Meihua, Lin Mu had been squeezed towards the side of the door. With an unyielding posture, Lu Rong stretched his arm out, pressing his hand against the wall next to Lin Mu’s head.
Lu Rong stood head and shoulders above others, and half his head was beyond the tallest rail. Together with his very attractive appearance, many people were stealing glances at him.
Lu Rong noticed Lin Mu looking up at him. He lowered his gaze, his expression very patient. “There’s quite a lot of people,” he said, “bear with it for a while.”
The two people stood very close to one another. The train stopped at a station, and the doors opened. People rushed to get out, and Lu Rong wrapped an arm around Lin Mu’s shoulders reflexively, pulling him into his arms. Lin Mu turned his head a little, his chin resting on Lu Rong’s shoulder.
Lu Rong continued embracing him, only letting go when the passengers had exited.
A slight blush could be seen on Lin Mu’s face, his voice faltering, “It’s a little warm…”
Lu Rong seemed to smile. He stroked Lin Mu’s sweaty forehead, and as though he was coaxing him, he quietly said, “We’ll be arriving soon.”
He was right; it took just a few more minutes to reach their station. The three of them took Exit Four, and with Lin Mu leading the way, they walked to Luo Yu’s store.
The boss was carrying her son, sitting behind the counter. When she saw him, her eyes sparkled as she asked. “Where’s Lin Zhao?”
Lin Mu feigned jealousy and spoke a little unhappily, “You only remember my sister, do I not exist?”
Laughing, Luo Yu called him a slick weasel. When she saw Chen Meihua behind him, she was a little surprised. “Granny is here too?”
Lin Mu corrected her, “She’s Meimei.”
Luo Yu smacked him lightly. “Don’t be rude!”
Lu Rong was the last to enter the store. He gave Luo Yu a nod; she immediately understood and asked, “White Rabbit?”
Lu Rong let Chen Meihua picked the ice cream she wanted. The old lady clapped her hands, repeating “White Rabbit” a few times happily.
Lin Mu chose two Binggrae popsicles and passed one to Lu Rong, but Lu Rong seemed a little hesitant.
“Quick, my hand’s aching.” Lin Mu sure knew how to put on a show.
As such, Lu Rong could only take it from him.
Lin Mu smiled. “Hurry up and eat it, don’t wait until it melts.”
Lu Rong tucked the wrapping paper around the plastic shell, pulling the tab open and putting it in his mouth.
Chen Meihua was the quietest when she was eating. She was afraid of the heat, and so stayed in the store, while Lin Mu and Lu Rong sat down next to each other on the bench outside.
The sky finally darkened a little, leaving only the golden-red glow of the setting sun. Luo Yu’s store was located at a corner of an intersection. Across it was a residential community, and on another side was a small business park. The roads were not wide, Chinese parasol trees were planted along the sidewalk, and the faint chirps of cicadas could be heard.
Lin Mu had stopped sweating. He sat next to Lu Rong, feeling the gentle breeze of the late evening across his face and the sweetness in his mouth.
Lu Rong had his head tilted back, sucking on the popsicle as his throat bobbed elegantly. It was a little difficult to reach the bits of ice inside the plastic tube, and Lu Rong frowned slightly.
“Just squeeze it out,” Lin Mu taught him, “like this.”
Lu Rong copied his actions, but it ended up overflowing from the tube. The syrupy sweet ice dripped onto his hand, flowing down to his wrist. Afraid that it would become sticky and difficult to clean up, Lu Rong quickly licked at his hand and mumbled a thanks.
Lin Mu could not help but laugh. “Why are you always so polite?”
Lu Rong licked across his wrist, tasting both a sweet and salty flavor. His silence brewed for a while before he spoke, “You shouldn’t have taught Meimei to play with water. You’re too nice to her.”
He paused a moment, and then continued, “Not everyone will be so nice to her.”
Lin Mu was still eating the popsicle, but it did not stop him from grumbling, “Who cares about others? As long as I’ll always be nice to you guys, isn’t it the only thing that matters?”
Lu Rong lifted his lids. His face was expressionless, yet a little ridicule could be found in his eyes. He said, “Don’t make everything sound so simple. Meimei isn’t your grandmother.”
Looking at Lin Mu, Lu Rong inhaled deeply. “And neither do you have any obligations to me.”
Lin Mu received a red packet sent by Lu Rong through Wechat — the money for the “White Rabbit” ice cream and the Binggrae popsicle. Sitting in his living room, he could not restrain himself from kicking the coffee table in front of him. In the end, it was so painful that he could not make a sound, and hugging his toes, he huddled pitifully on the couch.
Jiang Wan came in and saw this scene. Baffled, she asked, “What craziness are you dealing with this time?”
Lin Mu’s voice was feeble, “I hurt my foot…”
His mother had no sympathy at all. “Use some iodine on it and it’ll be fine, why are you being so delicate?”
Lin Mu was wordless.
Jiang Wan might be a little unconcerned, but at least Lin Yanlai behaved more like a father — after he finished cooking, he asked Lin Mu to remove his sock so that he could take a look. His skin was not broken, but his toes were a little swollen. “Why’re you so careless?” The father asked.
Lin Mu did not speak, feeling both angry and resentful. He desperately wanted to blacklist Lu Rong, but he was afraid that he would not be able to add him back later, and thus he remained conflicted and reluctant.
The red packet notification was still on the screen, looking all lonely and pitiful. Lin Mu stubbornly refused to accept it.
In the end, when the red packet was automatically sent back the next day, Lu Rong and Meimei again came to the swimming pool where Lin Mu was.
“What do you want?” Through the rusty wire fence, Lin Mu’s face was long as he looked at Lu Rong. He felt that having just argued with the other party and they had yet to reconcile, it would be an affront to his dignity if he seemed too friendly.
Lu Rong seemed unbothered by his attitude. “Meimei wants to play with water.”
An Jincheng was present today as well. He looked at Lu Rong, then looked at Lin Mu. He did not know why these two people were at a deadlock, and so walked over and opened the door.
“Come in.” An Jincheng’s face seemed as though it belonged in the Wong Karwai-directed film, “In the Mood for Love”. Looking down, he said indifferently, “Be careful of the slippery floor.”