Chapter 21 — A Slight Slight Chance
Luo Zhiyu looks left and right. Realizing that they are giving off a strange impression, he moves another seat over to the right. With the two empty seats between him and Xiao Yan, the muttering around them gets even louder.
Xiao Yan stands up and, under the gaze of everyone around them, moves to sit next to Luo Zhiyu again, taking out one of his earbuds and putting it on Luo Zhiyu.
Luo Zhiyu: “?”
“What’s going on?” Fan Yue unmutes himself, “Yan-ge, are you too fried after exams?”
“Nothing.” On his phone screen, the time to respawn feels exceptionally long. Yelling is frowned upon in the hospital, so Xiao Yan speaks lowly into the mic, “I’m at the hospital with Luo Zhiyu, let’s get this over with quickly.”
“Oh, okay.” Fan Yue motions for the rest of the team to get back in the zone, while asking Xiao Yan, “What’s the test you’re taking, is it the pheromone test strips again?”
“Blood test.” Xiao Yan continues with his game.
“Oh shit?” Fan Yue lets out a curse, “Then isn’t that a fucking pre-marriage checkup?”
His voice is so loud through the headphones that even Luo Zhiyu startles.
“It’s not like I have a choice, who would come do a pre-marriage checkup with him otherwise?” Luo Zhiyu throws this into the mic.
Xiao Yan: “???”
“Are Luo Zhiyu, Xiao Yan here?” The nurse pushes the door open and finds at once the two high school students, exceptionally standing out from the rest of the people in the waiting room.
“Here.” Xiao Yan cuts off the in-game call and leaves his phone to idle, “You guys play, I gotta go now.”
“You’re going to get reported if you do this, and then get your points deducted. If you do it a few times then your account’s gone.” Luo Zhiyu has been sneaking glances at Xiao Yan’s phone screen all this time and reminds him out of the goodness of his heart, “My account got locked last week because of this.”
“It’s fine, we’re close to winning.” Xiao Yan nudges Luo Zhiyu to move ahead of him and into the room, “Don’t worry about them reporting, we all know each other.”
“Which one of you will go first?” The nurse asks, “The director let me know already, you’re here for a re-test for pheromone compatibility, right?”
“I’ll go first.” Luo Zhiyu is very proactive, taking off his jacket, rolling up his sleeve, and sitting down onto the chair in one go. But once he sees the thing in the nurse’s hand, he deflates.
Luo Zhiyu: “Hey what’s-his-face, come help me cover my eyes.”
The action of covering someone’s eyes, between an alpha and omega, counts as a pretty intimate gesture. Luo Zhiyu has basically fed all his health class lectures to the dogs, but Xiao Yan still has this common sense.
The nurse motions for him to hurry up: “It’s fine, you’re just helping out, and your compatibility score isn’t high anyway.”
Xiao Yan walks forward, two hands gently covering Luo Zhiyu’s eyes. It turns out that Luo Zhiyu really is scared of needles; when it stabs into his skin, even though Luo Zhiyu doesn’t say anything, Xiao Yan feels his lashes start to quiver, and even Luo Zhiyu’s breath becomes shallow.
“Okay, open your eyes, it’s fine now.” Xiao Yan puts Luo Zhiyu’s uniform over his shoulders and leads him to sit and wait on the side.
“Hey handsome, it doesn’t look like you’re on bad terms, I doubt it’s actually 0%? The hospital director and them are just being dramatic.” The nurse jokes with Xiao Yan, “Maybe there is some compatibility, give or take.”
“I think so too.” Xiao Yan says, “There should be a bit, more or less.”
Half an hour later, Xiao Yan shakes awake Luo Zhiyu from his nap on the hospital chairs.
“? Where am I?” Luo Zhiyu isn’t completely done with his nap.
“The hospital, we’re here to do more tests.” Xiao Yan waves the test results in front of Luo Zhiyu’s face, “Congrats, we’re about to become city-wide subjects of interest for the sake of public order.”
“0%?” Luo Zhiyu is not surprised at all, “What did I say, we don’t need another test after all.”
“0.001%.” Rounds down to 0.
Luo Zhiyu: “???”
“0.001? What is that even?” Luo Zhiyu feels more unnerved by this than just zero compatibility, “A tiny bit compatible?”
The hospital officials are also shocked by this; after many years of working in the field, they have yet to see a situation like this.
“I don’t know what this means either, but I uploaded the data.” Xiao Yan pats Luo Zhiyu’s shoulder, seemingly disappointed, motioning for him to get up. “Let’s go, we’re done here now. Gotta go back to school, Mr. Li told us to go see him.”
Unlike the city hospital officials, Mr. Li, the Second Year, Class 3 homeroom teacher, has a very high opinion of this 0.001%.
“What does hope mean? This right here is hope.” Mr. Li slaps his hand on the test results, “This means that the two of you can beat swords into ploughshares. We have already turned zero chance into a slight, slight chance — if you hold on to that tiny chance, you will be able to build an invaluable friendship.”
Xiao Yan: “Oh.”
Luo Zhiyu: “Oh.”
With their slight, slight chance, the duo listens to a long educational spiel on interpersonal relations, and leave Mr. Li’s office soulessly. It is only then that they discover that it has started pouring rain outside.
“Wait one second.” Mr. Li hears the sound of rain outside, and rummages through one of the drawers in his office. The only umbrella he finds is a pink sun umbrella, which he hands to Xiao Yan, “Tang Yuan left this behind on Friday. Why don’t you bring it back to him since you’re in the same dorm room? Works out well.”
Tang Yuan’s fierce A taste in accessories is quite niche — the little pink umbrella, from its colour to its size, is evidently not something either of them would pick for themselves. But Xiao Yan and Luo Zhiyu have no choice but to squish under the same umbrella, slowly walking to the dorms together.
Beyond the tiny, tiny umbrella, rain continues to pour in buckets. Because of the weather and the time of day, there are barely any other students out and about.
“Walk this way.” As they walk by the sports field, Xiao Yan pulls Luo Zhiyu towards himself, “There are puddles over there when it rains.”
“You know First Metropolitan that well?”
“You’ll know the campus well too, once you go to school here for a year.” Without him realizing, the umbrella in Xiao Yan’s hand moves to cover Luo Zhiyu more, “You’ll start to remember every nook and cranny.”
As they walk through the sports field, Luo Zhiyu remembers what Jing Ximing had said earlier and points towards the alpha dorms: “Your dorms are over there.”
“I know.” Xiao Yan doesn’t stop in his walking, indicating to Luo Zhiyu to keep going, “It’s the same, this route works too.”
It is the last rainstorm of the summer. The falling rainwater slowly blurs out the shadows and silhouettes of the surrounding buildings, partitioning off the world outside the umbrella’s protection.
Xiao Yan sits in his dorm room, using a towel to wipe at his soaked-through hair, pausing every so often to reply to the messages on his phone.
“Yan-ge, you might as well go and take a shower.” Zhang Shu can’t help but suggest, “You’re dripping all over.”
“I’ll go in a second.” Xiao Yan replies, “Gonna reply to a few texts first.”
[Zhiliao]: Are you at the dorms yet?
[Xiao-dows Yan-der]: Arrived. You’re that concerned for me? [Smirk.jpg]
[Xiao-dows Yan-der]: Sweet-talking me all of a sudden?
[Zhiliao]: Let me borrow your account to play with, I promise I’ll rank up for you.
[Xiao-dows Yan-der]: ……take it, take it.
[Zhiliao]: Thanks, ge.
[Zhiliao]: I promise I’ll hold on to the 0.001% chance and get along with you, no fighting.
“I have a confession to make.” With a jumping rope, Fan Yue ties the two broomsticks and one mop in their dorm onto his back, then staggers up to Xiao Yan, getting down on one knee with a fist and palm salute.1
Xiao Yan puts down his phone and barely has time to put away the smile forming at the corner of his lips: “……What is this, you’re bringing me a bramble to ask for punishment?”2
“You know how finished our start-of-term exams this afternoon, right?” Fan Yue says, a little embarrassed.
Xiao Yan: “Mm?”
“So I got together with a dozen-ish bros to play games.”
Xiao Yan: “Mm.”
“We were in Class 3, because the teachers won’t mind now that we finished exams.”
“And then, there were another dozen-ish of our brothers who came to watch us play games.”
Xiao Yan: “……”
“And then……So, so now they all know that you guys went to get your pre-marriage checkup done.”
Xiao Yan: “???”
“But don’t worry, I explained things for you.”
“They all believed me.”
“We all know that the two of you are innocent and pure.”
Luo Zhiyu and Jing Ximing sit cross-legged on the floor, spacing out and staring at the pot in front of them that has reappeared in their dorm.
“This is what happened,” Jing Ximing starts, “The morning assembly tomorrow is cancelled.”
Luo Zhiyu: “So the pot?”
“The pot is only here for a day trip at our dorms, we need to give it back tomorrow.” Jing Ximing shatters Luo Zhiyu’s dreams, “We still need to read out our self-reflections, no exceptions.”
“Old Wu came up with an idea. He’s making all the students who got caught film a short video with their banned electronics and self-reflect. We need to send it to the parents’ group chat before midnight.” Jing Ximing hits the pot with a pair of chopsticks, “That’s it, that’s what happened.”
Luo Zhiyu: “……”
“They already deducted credits, so there is no way I’m reflecting. Just film it for the laughs.” Jing Ximing says, “I asked around, the dorm with the electric blanket filmed themselves doing yoga. The ones with the fridge are doing a dorm version of the Black pallbearers coffin dance, and the curling wand people next door are doing wotagei. It’s up to you what we do.”
“We can…….” On Luo Zhiyu’s desk, there is a bag of oranges that he had bought just the day before, and a box of markers.
There is a quick glint in his eyes: “Let’s make an iron pot orange stew.”
With a meme drawn on top, it looks just like a certain someone’s profile picture.
“I will sincerely reflect.”
Author’s note: The world setting here is that phones are allowed in the dorms, but not in the teaching buildings.