Chapter 16 — No, We Are Not Forcefully Clearing His Name
The start-of-term exams are coming up, and amongst the teaching team in charge of second year, the teachers are making use of the break to discuss work for the new semester. First Metropolitan holds many exams and tests: at the beginning of the term, there are the start-of-term exams, normally there are monthly tests and midterm exams, and the third years have all kinds of weekly tests and pop quizzes during evening self-study blocks.
The second years’ start-of-term exams will be held that weekend, and the exam papers are already printed and stacked in the office.
“Do you guys feel that students these days are too stressed over schoolwork?” Director Xu is delegating student work, “I feel like the second year students might be under too much pressure, they seem kind of out of it to me.”
“No, it’s not too bad.” Mr. Li says, “A bunch of kids were just using my account to stream music. They have their own ways to relax; they’ll be fine if we give them enough space and time to do so.”
“Oh yeah, Mr. Li.” The homeroom teacher for First Year, Class 3 passes by the teaching team’s office and knocks at the door to complain, “Xiao Yan from your class, I saw him come and pick a fight with Luo Zhiyu at my classroom door last night after self-study, though they didn’t end up fighting and got stopped by the teacher who was there. Luo Zhiyu is also at fault here, he shouldn’t have told Ms. Zhang that he is Xiao Yan.”
“These two kids, do they really have to be on such bad terms?”
“? Not really.” Mr. Li thinks back to the situation he witnessed yesterday late afternoon, “Their relationship isn’t too bad? Xiao Yan was even helping Luo Zhiyu with homework questions last night. Luo Zhiyu was pretty focused too. I saw that they were really invested in their discussions; what a great learning environment.”
In the Second Year, Class 3 classroom–
Luo Zhiyu leans next to the door, waiting for Xiao Yan to respond. Xiao Yan hears, very clearly, someone letting out a “oh heck” nearby, followed by all kinds of conspicuous whispering.
“What’s going on?”
“Tang Yuan’s in the same dorm as Xiao Yan, you tell me, how is Tang Yuan so knowledgeable about fuckboys?”
“Wait, don’t freak out yet, isn’t that Luo Zhiyu from first year?”
After going through ten seconds of intense scrutiny, forgetting about what they were just talking about and mind circling around what has been going on recently, Xiao Yan finally remembers why Luo Zhiyu is looking for him.
Couldn’t have picked a better timing, though.
“Didn’t we say next week?” Xiao Yan remembers the scheduling and stands up, walking towards Luo Zhiyu, “I have the start-of-term exams this week.”
Right as he finishes speaking, and before Luo Zhiyu has a chance to respond, the whispering starts up again within the classroom.
“He wants to wait till next week?”
“He’s still thinking about exams?”
“The school-grass, cancelled?”
Xiao Yan: “……”
Luo Zhiyu: “?”
“What are they talking about?” These people aren’t even whispering anymore, their volume just slightly lower than when reciting a textbook. “Your class gets so noisy over break.”
“……you come with me.” Xiao Yan grabs onto Luo Zhiyu’s wrist and brings him out of the classroom. The Class 3 students’ gazes follow, tracking them from the main classroom door to the back door, until the two disappear from sight.
And so, everyone’s gazes fall onto Fan Yue, Tang Yuan, and Zhang Shu.
Fan Yue: “……”
Fan Yue: “Snap out of it, that’s Luo Zhiyu from First Year, Class 3.”
“Yeah, that’s Luo Zhiyu.” Tang Yuan adds, “There’s been hundreds of replies on the campus forum post, the one about the 0% compatibility. There is no chance between him and the face of our dorm.”
“They are both pure, there is no way for two people with 0% compatibility to date.” Zhang Shu concludes, “How can Xiao Yan be a fuckboy, stop overthinking it.”
“We are not trying to forcibly clear his name.” Fan Yue says, “Setting everything else aside, you guys trust me as a good person, right?”
“So what was your class talking about? You? They kept looking at you after I spoke.” Luo Zhiyu has been dragged down to the end of the hallway by Xiao Yan, where there is a little balcony protruding out that no one tends to go to.
“Because you were asking for me.” Xiao Yan lets go of his grip on Luo Zhiyu’s wrist, “Are you talking about the additional pheromone tests, why are they this week now?”
“Probably because they’re in a rush? It’s rare, after all.” Luo Zhiyu has his back to Xiao Yan, leaning onto the railings and feeling the breeze, “My family’s driver shushu goes back home during weekends to see his daughter. Since we both need tests, you can give me a ride, right?”
Xiao Yan: “……”
“What are you hesitating for?” Luo Zhiyu has kept the lowest of profiles, “I can’t do anything to you if I’m just taking a ride to the hospital.”
He holds onto the railings, reaching out a hand to catch the raindrops falling from above. His school uniform is left unzipped, the borrowed jacket a little too big on him, the collar barely covering much — it is past the observational period after presenting, so Luo Zhiyu no longer wears scent blockers.
Xiao Yan’s gaze rests for only a second and immediately looks elsewhere, making him miss whatever Luo Zhiyu just said.
“Hello?” Luo Zhiyu frowns, “Why are you so spaced out, don’t tell me your class was watching something inappropriate together?”
There it is, this is how Luo Zhiyu is like normally.
“Why were you being so ambiguous just now?” It made him lose his bearings, almost, with the sudden slander to his reputation.
“Because I’m asking you a favour, fellow student Xiao Yan.” Luo Zhiyu says, “What, should I be coming at you with a broomstick? Are you addicted to me beating you up?”
There is even more slander with every sentence, but for half a second, without rhyme or reason, Xiao Yan is weirdly pleased by the phrase, “asking you a favour”. He reaches out to pull Luo Zhiyu back from the railings and zips his uniform up to the collar, “Be nicer to my school uniform.”
“Why are you so hard to please……” Luo Zhiyu doesn’t understand why this person’s school uniform is so treasured. He is just about to argue when the warning bell for the start of next class rings.
“Wait for me outside the First Exam Hall in the afternoon, this weekend.” Xiao Yan folds down Luo Zhiyu’s collar properly while he’s at it, then pokes at the nameplate at his chest. “I’ll take you there after exams.”
On the way back to the classroom, Xiao Yan runs into homeroom teacher Mr. Li on his way to teach.
“It’s a rainy day, are you not taking the chance to chit-chat with your classmates inside?” Mr. Li asks concernedly, “Where did you go?”
“I wouldn’t dare anymore.” Xiao Yan says, “My heart is still set on learning, learning is the most important task for high school students.”
Mr. Li: “?”
Fan Yue gives him an “OK” sign from afar. When Mr. Li enters the classroom, the students have already switched over to learning mode in a single second. Except, during the class, Mr. Li has a nagging feeling that a few students keep sneaking glances at Xiao Yan.
In the evening, Luo Zhiyu runs into Xiao Yan again in the cafeteria. He has just finished eating dinner when he looks up and sees a familiar, back of someone’s head at a table to his front right.
Luo Zhiyu is in a very good mood.
“What are you doing?” The cafeteria gives the first years extra food; everyone gets their pick of an extra fruit, and Luo Zhiyu has picked out an orange. As Jing Ximing eats, he sees Luo Zhiyu dig out a marker pen from his pocket, giving the orange a pair of eyes and eyebrows, scribbling out a “eating melon” sticker meme.1
“Don’t they look similar?” Luo Zhiyu holds the orange in his hand, admiring it. “Basically the same.”
He adds a few strokes onto the orange for hair, the spitting image of the stupid jerk who was eating watermelon in front of him during military training.
“Looks like what? What are you doing? The drawing is pretty dynamic, though.” Jing Ximing doesn’t understand what Luo Zhiyu is doing, “Why are you drawing this all of a sudden?”
“Shh.” Luo Zhiyu gets up and puts away his tray, then walks around next to their table, picking out a good spot. He takes a step back, right hand raised — the little orange draws out an arc in the air, hitting onto a second year boy’s head a few rows ahead, accurately and without miss. The orange rolls onto his food tray.
And then, Jing Ximing watches as his roommate picks up his backpack with astonishing speed, running off through the cafeteria’s back door.
T/N: funny reader comment on this chapter: “Hahahhaha, an orange hitting an orange.”