Chapter 17 — I’ll Go Beat Him Up
“…..” Xiao Yan rubs at the top of his head. Appearing out of nowhere on the rice in his food tray, is a tiny orange with a slanted-eyed “eating melon” meme drawn on top. Looking at the drawing style and the perpetrator’s sophisticated M.O., both seem extremely familiar.
He can tell at a glance that the perpetrator is someone he already knows, and this is not even their first offence.
As expected, as he turns his head, he sees a person clad in the red and white uniform flash by the back of the cafeteria and out the door, fleeing with speed.
In the tables on the back rows, Luo Zhiyu’s roommate Jing Ximing is in the middle of tiptoeing out in retreat.
“Hm? Yan-ge, where did you get this orange from? It looks kind of sour.” Zhang Shu, who had his nose buried in his dinner, notices the additional orange on Xiao Yan’s plate. “Isn’t this school so cheap that they only allow us one piece of fruit?”
“Wow, is someone in first year pursuing our school grass?” Fan Yue, returning from his drinks run at the nearby shop, notices the orange in Xiao Yan’s hand right away, “They’re already at the stage of giving him food and drink? But the oranges aren’t that good, why did they pick oranges out of all the fruits?”
“Might as well just give it to us as dessert.” Fan Yue isn’t very picky.
“Not ‘pursuing’, he’s targeting me.” Xiao Yan pockets the orange in his uniform jacket, “A certain person is asking to get beaten up again. Dinner first, I’ll mess him up in his classroom later.”
Fan Yue: “….Ha, so it’s Luo Zhiyu.”
“I’ll beat him up real hard.” Xiao Yan squishes the orange in his pocket, “No mercy.”
Luo Zhiyu waits for Jing Ximing outside the cafeteria. The sunlight slowly sinks into the western sky, basking the tree branches with gold. Luo Zhiyu squats under a tree, poking at the fallen leaves to entertain himself. When he was little, there was a large sycamore tree at the end of his street; back then, when classes let out, fifth-grade Xiao Yan would stand under the tree, throwing sycamore seed balls at him when he wasn’t paying attention.
“Let’s go.” Luo Zhiyu spots his deskmate walking over, getting up from the ground and brushing at the dust on his clothing.
“Even while eating, you found a chance to provoke him, are the two of you really planning to go on like this?” Jing Ximing couldn’t even put his backpack on properly in his rush.
“It’s not that I haven’t considered a truce.” To defend from Xiao Yan potentially seeking revenge, they pick a smaller path on their way back to the classroom. Sycamore trees occupy both sides of this path, and fallen leaves float down, wobbly, covering the path under their feet little by little. “But it was just a consideration.”
How is it possible for them to strike peace overnight?
“You have a point, but I also feel that’s what Xiao Yan thinks too. It’s a toxic cycle between the two of you, I wonder if there will be something that breaks it.” Jing Ximing grabs at Luo Zhiyu while he’s at it, “Do you even remember that you’re asking him a favour? You need to go with him to the hospital this weekend, hey, be careful…”
The fallen leaves cover up the ground’s surface, hiding the drainage gate as well.
“If I don’t provoke him, he will provoke me, so I can only take revenge. This is all normal, you haven’t seen how he’d bully me when we were kids. Now, all I have to say is, what goes around comes around…..” Luo Zhiyu is just getting worked up with his explanation and doesn’t take note of what is beneath his feet, stepping into the under-maintained drainage gate at the side of the path.
The drainage tunnels are quite shallow, dried up from underuse over the years and layered with sycamore leaves. With a crisp sound, Luo Zhiyu does not get a chance to double back before he loses his balance, ankle twisting.
Luo Zhiyu: “……ow.”
Jing Ximing: “……oh jeez.”
“How did you even fall?” The lady at the school infirmary disinfects the wound on Luo Zhiyu’s knee, “Why were you even at that path out of all the streets, it’s been under-maintained for years. It’s whatever even if you use it, but do you students not look at where you’re going?”
When Luo Zhiyu fell over, his last thought was, ridiculously, to protect Xiao Yan’s uniform. He had fallen with two hands on the ground, with not a single speck of dirt on his uniform.
This results in him sitting in the infirmary, contorting his face as the school doctor disinfects both his palms and wraps them with bandages.
“Ow ow ow.” Bandages get wrapped around Luo Zhiyu’s wrists.
“He also hit his head.” Jing Ximing brushes at Luo Zhiyu’s bangs, “Ai, so sad.”
“That one’s fine. It won’t scar, but it’ll still hurt. What were you thinking of when you were walking?” The school doctor looks at his wounds, “I’ll just do a basic bandaging, try to keep it away from water these days.”
Luo Zhiyu, who was thinking about how to make trouble for Xiao Yan while walking, has nothing to say for himself.
“I need to go to the interviews for the Students’ Association in the evening.” Luo Zhiyu looks at Jing Ximing as he limps, “’Luo Zhiyu: his wounds do not diminish his passion at all’ — do you think the teachers will give me extra credit for that?”
“Will you be okay?” Luo Zhiyu took a pretty hard fall just now, Jing Ximing is still a little spooked after seeing the entire thing.
“Oh yeah, these tiny wounds are nothing.” Luo Zhiyu is very confident, “Help me walk back, I need to find Xiao Yan’s roommate later at Class 3 upstairs. He has the approved application forms.”
In the First Year, Class 3 classroom, the evening self-study block has not yet started; most students have not yet returned to the classroom. There are only a few students scattered across the seats, making the most of the extra time by doing mock exams.
Luo Zhiyu’s seat is easy to find. All desks have a stack of books on top, but his is the tallest stack, as if he has started building a castle defense, solidly blocking himself out of most teachers’ line of sight. This kind of setup is obviously for slacking off during class; as Xiao Yan takes a closer look, he finds that Luo Zhiyu does not have many supplementary textbooks, but has sneakily blended in quite a few sketchbooks instead.
The Class 3 students all recognize Xiao Yan, a few students even proactively saying hi.
“Luo Zhiyu went to dinner, he’s not back yet.” Ling Ciyi says, “Why don’t you wait for him at his seat?”
There is an open Literature textbook on Luo Zhiyu’s desk. It has only been a few days since class started, and he has added accompanying images to every text. Next to the Literature textbook is a Slender Gold1 style calligraphy copy book; out of boredom, Xiao Yan flips through it. Luo Zhiyu seems to be working very hard on his handwriting, and yet, Xiao Yan spots a sliver of an unrestrained spirit between the lines traced onto the copy paper, standing out from the sample text.
“Hey school-grass, why are you looking for Luo Zhiyu?” A nosy person from the classroom asks.
Xiao Yan casually throws out four words: “To beat him up.”
Just before evening self-study starts, Xiao Yan sees Jing Ximing, Luo Zhiyu’s roommate, arrive, but no Luo Zhiyu.
Jing Ximing: “……” So the victim who has been hit on the head by an orange has come to make trouble, after all.
“Where’s Luo Zhiyu?” Xiao Yan asks, “He’s too scared to come back now that he’s been bad?”
“He…he just went to your classroom……” Completely capable of hopping up the stairs on one leg, he had said.
Xiao Yan: “……”
In the Second Year, Class 3 classroom, the curtains are tightly drawn, the pre-self-study gossip session being in full swing among the students in the classroom.
No one knows who it is that brought up the fuckboy from the school next door; the conversation topic circles back to where they left off that morning.
Fan Yue has the intention to clear his roommate’s name; seeing that everyone is discussing this again, he takes the chance to say quickly: “Xiao Yan and Luo Zhiyu are going to the hospital this weekend to cooperate with pheromone research, there’s nothing between them. My friends, they have 0% compatibility, it’s already a feat if they don’t fight.”
“Sounds right to me.” Someone in the classroom says, “Xiao Yan does not look like one of those fuckboy As at all.”
“Xiao Yan is not a fuckboy A, he never gives anyone a hard time.”
“It’s all a misunderstanding, the school-grass is the face of our school, after all. Good looking, good grades, there’s no issue with him as a person, either.”
“Correct.” Tang Yuan holds his little fuckboy info session again, “The real fuckboy A has a kind of mysteriousness about him: he is gentle at first, but in his heart, he has the capacity for big thrills. His friends around him are in on it too and help him hide away his fuckboy nature. I don’t think it’s hard to recognize if you keep an eye out. A fuckboy A, in secondary school, might already have done damage to the omegas and betas around them, emotionally, or even worse — physically!”
“When we see this kind of fuckboy A in secondary school years, we cannot let them get away with their fuckboy tendencies.” Fan Yue says, “Birds of a feather flock together; we need to call out the people who are close to him as well.”
The people in the classroom are completely engrossed. The classroom door is pushed open from the outside, and Xiao Yan walks in: “What are you guys talking about now?”
“We’re complimenting you.” Tang Yuan says, “You’re always so polite and respectful.”
“Has Luo Zhiyu come by?” Xiao Yan has walked up from the east staircases and did not see Luo Zhiyu.
“Ah?” Fan Yue says, “No, I haven’t seen him, we’ve been chatting this whole time. Did you settle the scores with him yet?”
Getting smacked in the head with an orange sows the seeds for a major grudge.
“Yeah.” Xiao Yan nods, “I went downstairs to beat him up.”
Except, he couldn’t actually find him.
“Hahahaha, you really should teach him a lesson, he’s asking for it.” Fan Yue agrees.
As they chat inside, the back door of the classroom is also pushed open. Luo Zhiyu limps his way in from the west staircases, panting while pushing open the Second Year, Class 3 classroom’s back door. There are bandages wrapped around his palms and wrists, another on his forehead, and a band-aid stuck under his eye.
He is covered in sweat from his walk over, cheeks pink. In combination with all his wounds, he looks exceptionally pitiful.
The Class 3 classroom, without even background music playing this time, is quiet.
“Sorry for disrupting.” Luo Zhiyu pants, one hand leaning onto the Class 3 door, limping forward another step to ask about the Students’ Association, “Xiao Yan, you…….”
“He beat him up so hard……” Someone takes a gasp and shudders.
“It’s like that, all right.”
Luo Zhiyu: “?”
Xiao Yan: “???”