Chapter 22 — You’re Going Down With Me
That evening, at 9pm, the students’ and parents’ group chats are exceptionally chatty, with all kinds of strange videos in the chat feed.
[Director Xu]: ?
[Principal Zhang]: ? 0.0
[Director Wu]: ……
After working hard for an entire week, the students who have just finished their start-of-term exams cannot withhold the passion in their hearts — turning self-reflections into a meme video shoot.
[Mr. Xu]: 7-109, 3-503, what is going on with your dorm rooms, how come I didn’t see you have toaster ovens and microwaves when I did inspections last time?
[7-109 Xu Peipei] recalled a message.
[3-503 Wu Xiao] recalled a message.
[Director Wu]: Whatever, I’ll let it go for now. Start-of-term exam grades are coming out this afternoon anyway, tonight is your last night of happiness.
After Director Wu says this, the chatter quietens quite a bit. But the first years are fearless still, continuing to spam the chat.
[3-101 Jing Ximing]: [Video]
While Xiao Yan takes a shower in the bathroom, endless notifications come in on the phone he leaves behind on the desk.
“Since when is he this popular?” Tang Yuan says enviously, “I too want to be bombarded with messages so that I am never lonely.”
Fan Yue feels a little bad and does not dare comment.
Once Xiao Yan comes out and sees the hundreds of notifications on his phone, he finds that they are mostly sincere greetings from his schoolmates.
“Yan-ge, look at the school students’ group chat, Luo Zhiyu is just ridiculing you in a new way. I remember your pheromone scent is oranges, right?”
“So do you two have something going on or not? Why is it such a mystery?”
“Yan-ge, Luo Zhiyu read out his self-reflection to an orange, the background music is The Great Compassion Mantra!”1
“So do you have dibs on Luo Zhiyu or not, if not I’m going to pursue him.”
“How did the pre-marriage checkup go? Is Luo Zhiyu dissatisfied with you?”
Xiao Yan: “……”
Luo Zhiyu has just said that he is going to get along with him peacefully and not start anything, and it has not even been a few minutes. Just as Xiao Yan thinks this, the one responsible does not have the sense to avoid him at all and sends him another message — the name he assigned Luo Zhiyu’s contact starts to dance around before his eyes again.
[Zhiliao]: What did you save my name as? [Fairy scrunching eyebrows.jpg]
[Zhiliao]: Who told you to call me Zhiliao, huh?
[Xiao-dows Yan-der]: Who told you to snide me with your pot roasted orange, huh?
[Zhiliao]: They confiscated my pot, am I not even allowed to snide you with it, huh?
[Xiao-dows Yan-der]: You really picked a great moment. [Smile.jpg]
[Xiao-dows Yan-der]: It’s over for you, my reputation is ruined, so you’re going down with me. [Upside down smile.jpg]
Luo Zhiyu is in the middle of a game. He had found the name Xiao Yan saved him as when he opened Xiao Yan’s friend list.
[Class 3-Looming turtle has invited you to a 5v5 match.]
Luo Zhiyu clicks on “Accept” and enters the match.
[Class 3-Looming turtle]: Holy shit, dude, you’re really something, my dude. The school forum piled together three posts for you and they’re all about the love-hate drama between you and Luo Zhiyu. And you have the mind to be playing games right now?
[Class 3-Looming turtle]: But we all know that you’re innocent.
[Class 3-Looming turtle]: It’s all Luo Zhiyu’s fault, I am definitely on your side. Luo Zhiyu is such a dick.
[Xiao-dows Yan-de]r: ? Watch who you’re trash-talking, idiot.
[Class 3-Looming turtle]: Oh shit? I get it, so there is something going on between you two?
[Xiao-dows Yan-der]: ??? I’m just cursing you out right now, I’m serious!
[Xiao-dows Yan-der]: Do you not understand why you’re getting cursed out?
[Class 3-Looming turtle]: I understand, I really do.
[Xiao-dows Yan-der]: You don’t understand shit.
The rainstorm eases off, turning into a soft, autumnal rain making Luo Zhiyu bring an umbrella with him the entire week, circling around the puddles next to the cement paths. The sky finally has signs of clearing up on Saturday.
There is an earthquake drill next Monday, so over the weekend, teachers and Students’ Association members are all involved in related preparations.
“To the left, more left.” Luo Zhiyu sits on the ladder to illustrate the blackboard mural, while Xiao Yan helps him adjust the ladder, “Yes, yes, right here, that’s good.”
“Be careful.” Xiao Yan stops.
“It’s very steady.” Luo Zhiyu stomps his feet.
The big blackboard near the campus entrance counts as one of the school’s landmarks and has been in use since the school was established a decade ago. Even though other schools have switched over to LED displays, the blackboard at First Metropolitan has never been out of use. As Luo Zhiyu sits on the ladder, drawing away, he hums one of the English songs they had learned recently in music class. Xiao Yan leans onto the ladder, looking at his vocabulary book.
“Is there a looming turtle in your class?” Luo Zhiyu remembers the match he played a few days ago.
“Looming turtle?” Xiao Yan frowns and thinks for a moment, “You’re probably referring to Lu Minggui.”2
“What kind of nickname is that……” Luo Zhiyu says, unimpressed.
After a week of rain, the entire campus seems to have had its contrast settings adjusted — everything looks much more vibrant.
“I should’ve just made a poster and hung it up here, so that I won’t need to draw it by hand. I’ve never done murals before, First Metropolitan traditions are really unfathomable.” Luo Zhiyu taps at the box of chalk with the chalkboard eraser, “I’m hungry, is it almost lunchtime?”
Xiao Yan glances at the time on his phone: “Tang Yuan should be back soon. Do you want to come down first?”
“Breaktime……” Luo Zhiyu taps too hard and the bottom of the box collapses; pieces of chalk, in all kinds of colours, rain onto Xiao Yan with a clatter.
Xiao Yan: “Luo Zhiyu, are you itching to get beaten up?”
“Hahahaha sorry……” Luo Zhiyu climbs down the ladder, putting a hand onto Xiao Yan’s shoulder and helping him pat away the chalk in his hair.
“You’re still laughing?”
“Take this.” Xiao Yan pats away the chalk on his clothes and tosses Luo Zhiyu a can of honey peach soda, “No shaking, no pointing it at me.”
Luo Zhiyu opens the can and licks at the honey peach flavoured fizz. He looks away into the sky, gazing very innocently.
Due to an imbalance of available academic credits, there are only five members in the cultural committee’s drawing team: Luo Zhiyu from Class 3, Yan Cihan from Class 6, Lu Lu from Class 1, plus two second year students, Tang Yuan and Xiao Yan, who are just there to fill up the numbers.
But since Lu Lu is quarantining in the dorms this week, and Yan Cihan’s spicy fried gluten scent is so appetizing that Luo Zhiyu keeps clinging to him, the ones assigned to the mural ends up being just Luo Zhiyu — and Xiao Yan as the supervisor.
“At this pace, I should be done in the afternoon.” Luo Zhiyu looks up and evaluates the results of a morning of labour.
There is an empty space next to the blackboard meant for writing artist credits. The chalk in Luo Zhiyu’s hand is just touching the blackboard when he changes his mind.
“You write it. You’re the producer, I’m the artist, your roommate can be assistant.” Luo Zhiyu hands the chalk to Xiao Yan, “My handwriting’s ugly so I won’t embarrass the school with it.”
“It’s a good drawing, why would it be an embarrassment?” Xiao Yan neatly writes down everyone’s names on the credits section, “I’ve seen your calligraphy practice book. You shouldn’t be practicing Slender Gold style.”
“Ah?” Luo Zhiyu is lost, “My mom made me practice, it’s been three years.”
Three years of practice, and Slender Gold has turned into cursive style.
The duo leans against the blackboard, chatting for about half an hour, but Tang Yuan has still not shown up with lunch.
“Where are you?” Xiao Yan gives his roommate a call, “Zhiliao and I are waiting on you for lunch.”
From the other end of both the call and the sports field, comes two sounds of tortured howling: “There’s cats, there’s catsss! Aaah……”
A person holding a takeout bag flies across their field of vision, followed by several large, orange cats.
Luo Zhiyu: “What’s up with the fierce A from your dorm?”
“Don’t worry about it.” Xiao Yan holds the phone away from his face, “His pheromones smell like catnip, but he’s scared of cats.”