Chapter 18 — The Path to Clearing His Name
Zhang Shu’s pencil case falls with a clatter from his hands to the ground; Fan Yue lets out a “Oh shit”, and Tang Yuan takes a sip of tea soulessly, to drown his sorrows in water. The three of them look towards Xiao Yan, whose face shows some obvious signs of exasperation.
Xiao Yan: “……”
The classroom bursts with chatter, everyone mistakenly thinking that they are just whispering.
“? It’s almost evening self-study, why is your class still so noisy?” Luo Zhiyu is a little envious of the Class 3 social atmosphere, “It’s such good vibes, I’m getting kind of envious. What are you talking about, can I join in?”
The Class 3 people all go silent again without a single peep from anyone.
Luo Zhiyu: “?” Are they that exclusive?
Xiao Yan makes his way to where Luo Zhiyu is at the back door: “Luo Zhiyu, what happened to you?”
It’s only been a brief while since he last saw him, and the person who had just been fleeing from the cafeteria no problem, is now limping.
“Why is your class so jumpy?” Luo Zhiyu takes two hops forward, talking quietly into Xiao Yan’s ear, “Are they losing it from studying already? It’s only the second year.”
His leg still hurts, so he can’t really stand properly. Xiao Yan reaches out a hand to help him stay upright, taking note to avoid the bandages on his palms while also helping Luo Zhiyu regain his balance — to anyone’s eyes, he is the most thoughtful and considerate.
Someone in the classroom shudders with a gasp again.
Luo Zhiyu: “? Is there a ventilator in your classroom or something?”
“They might have……” Xiao Yan does not know how to describe it, “been shocked, a little.”
Luo Zhiyu frowns: “Are you second-year students that delicate?”
Xiao Yan does not know how to explain things to him, either.
“I’m not actually looking for you.” Luo Zhiyu shoos him away with a wave, “I’m looking for your roommate.”
“Me?” Fan Yue points at himself.
Twenty pairs of eyes turn and stare at Fan Yue, making Fan Yue startle in cold sweat.
“Yes, you.” Luo Zhiyu finds Fan Yue from his voice, “I’m here to pick up the approved Students’ Association application form, I need to go to the interviews tonight.”
“Oh, sure.” Fan Yue remembers that this is a thing, just now. “So you’re here to look for me?”
“Who else? Don’t you have my form?” Luo Zhiyu asks, “I can’t be hopping up here for Xiao Yan, how much do you think I love him, to want to hop over here twice in one day?”
Class 3: “Huh?”
The warning bell for the evening self-study block has already rung. From the doorway, the supervising teacher, Mr. Li, spots Xiao Yan and Luo Zhiyu from the classroom downstairs. “How did you get hurt like that, xiao-Luo, did you two fight again? What happened?”
“Ah? No, we didn’t fight today.” Luo Zhiyu says, “I did provoke him, but he hasn’t gotten a chance to get back at me yet.”
Mr. Li: “……so what’s up with all the bandages?”
Because he provoked Xiao Yan, to get away from him taking revenge, he went on the under-maintained side path.
Because he went on the under-maintained side path, he stepped on the drainage gates, and fell to the point of seeing stars.
But alas, one simply doth not tell this to others.
“Backlash from bad energy.” Luo Zhiyu holds the application form that Fan Yue hands him, “I did this to myself, it doesn’t have to do with him. I’ll get going now, bye, Mr. Li.”
At that, he holds onto the windowsill and leaves the same way he comes, shuffling little by little towards the west staircase.
The group of students in the classroom glance guiltily at Xiao Yan.
“I have to go do evaluations at the Students’ Association anyway, same way as him, I’ll go help him down the stairs.” Xiao Yan leaves after throwing out this comment.
“Go ahead,” Students such as Xiao Yan will understand certain principles with just a little nudge, the opposite of a headache to teach. Mr. Li is very pleased, “We are all schoolmates, it is a good thing to get along well. You are one year older than him too, so it’s on you to be the mature one.”
“I’ll try.” Xiao Yan says.
“See? Zero compatibility can still get along peacefully, don’t always look at others with prejudice.” Mr. Li says, entering the Class 3 classroom, “I have been teaching for this many years and have seen all kinds of students. So, I can and will guide every student.”
“Here at First Metropolitan, we teach the curriculum as much as we teach how to be a good person.” Mr. Li takes every opportunity for a morality teaching moment: “Don’t only think of the bad in others. Read widely, to elevate your understanding, and look for the good in all things. Not everything is set in stone, too — you have to believe that miracles exist.”
Other than Xiao Yan, all the students in Class 3 hang their heads in shame.
At the entrance to the west staircase, Luo Zhiyu, as he prepares to go downstairs, realizes that twisting one’s ankle might be more serious than he thought. As he hopped his way up just now, he already expended most of his stamina, so going downstairs now, to him, is a bit of a struggle.
Luo Zhiyu wants to sit at the staircase entrance for a bit, but just as he sits down, someone sits down with him.
The evening self-study bell has already rung; the various classrooms around them have quietened down. The two who are wearing differently coloured uniforms are in no rush, sitting on the top of the stairs without thought of how it might look to teachers. For the students in the classrooms, time flows under the word problems they scribble and draft under, but at the staircase entrance, it seems as if someone pressed pause.
“Where did you fall?” Xiao Yan has alluded to a general gist of what happened from his phrase, “backlash from bad energy”.
“The little path, west of the teaching building, the kinda scenic one.” Luo Zhiyu looks at his Students’ Association application form, at the column titled “Students’ Association Recommendation”, the written “Evaluation Approved” looking rather familiar, “You were the evaluator?”
“It was me. Anyone would approve someone with your experience.” Xiao Yan grabs and moves Luo Zhiyu’s hand away, gaze falling onto his pristine uniform, “Luo Zhiliao, are you stupid?”
Luo Zhiyu: “? Didn’t you say ‘return as borrowed’? What if I mess it up because I fell, wouldn’t you start yapping at me again?”
He had even thought of Xiao Yan’s uniform at the last moment before he went down, and for what?
He wants to retort again, but something is pushed into his mouth, a slice of something, cool to the touch. He bites into it without thinking, and the cool, refreshing juice of the orange soaks between his teeth and lips, followed by a sourness that is difficult to put into words–
The orange that he had used to hit Xiao Yan with finally returns to its original owner.
“You already borrowed my uniform, so just do whatever with it. I’m not that fussy.” Xiao Yan fails in his attempt to feed him a second slice of orange and gets bitten by Luo Zhiyu instead, “……old habits die hard, huh?”
“It’s so sour.” Luo Zhiyu hits Xiao Yan’s hand away from him, “Take it away! I’m not eating it!”
“Let’s go, I have to go to the Students’ Association office too.” Xiao Yan stands, throwing the orange into his own mouth, “Stop hopping around, I’ll piggyback you down.”
“You’re going to be that nice?” Luo Zhiyu swallows down the orange, feeling suspicious. He reminds him, “You haven’t actually taken revenge yet since I hit you with an orange.”
“I did track you down to your class, but you weren’t there.” Xiao Yan leans down, “I have decided to change my strategy.”
Luo Zhiyu’s legs still hurt, so if someone is willing to carry him, of course he is willing. Luo Zhiyu wraps both arms around Xiao Yan’s neck, leaning onto Xiao Yan’s back: “What strategy?”
He is a little too close, head resting onto Xiao Yan’s shoulder, close enough to be able to smell the faint scent of oranges from Xiao Yan’s clothing — leagues better than the orange from some random fruit stand.
“Luo Zhiliao, let me tell you.” Xiao Yan steadies Luo Zhiyu on his back, securing him with his arm, “Right now, I need to salvage my reputation before it goes up in flames.”
Luo Zhiyu: “?”
Luo Zhiyu: “What does your reputation have to do with me?”
“Of course it does, you’re the root of the problem.”
“To stop my reputation from getting attacked again, I have decided to rectify my wrongs, even though it pains me. I will treat you better.”
“I won’t give you trouble from now on, I’ll only be good to you.”
Luo Zhiyu waves his bandaged hand in front of Xiao Yan’s eyes: “Yan-ge, did I damage your brain when I hit you with the orange?”
“How are you going to be good to me?” Luo Zhiyu, who has been fighting with him from childhood to their teenage years, is suddenly wary.
The Second Year, Class 3 classroom is on the third floor, and the Students’ Association offices are on the first floor; going down the stairs, it should only take a minute. And yet–
Xiao Yan takes a longer route. He does not go down the west staircase right away, instead choosing to walk through the teaching building hallway, passing by the Second Year, Classes 1 through 7, and then down the east staircase.
Luo Zhiyu: “……”
Xiao Yan ignores his protests and carries him through an S-shaped route, passing by over ten classrooms in first and second year, making two-thirds of the school’s students and teachers bear witness to the friendship between the 0% pair that can move heaven and earth. And so, that evening, the image of two excellent students who embody unity and teamwork strikes a chord deep within peoples’ hearts.
Author’s note1 this chapter: #XiaoYan_goodperson #XiaoYan_notafuckboy #XiaoYan_LuoZhiyu_Withlovecomeshope