Chapter 8 — Let Me Borrow Your School Uniform
“What happened here…” Luo Zhiyu fishes out his clothes from the washing machine, “Why did it turn out like this?”
“I don’t know…” Jing Ximing clutches the white dress shirt he had bought not long ago, depressed, “How did it just bleed like that? What kind of quality is this…”
Feeling as if he has been wronged, Luo Zhiyu exercises his right to protest.
[Not Zhiliao]: You there?
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: What? Fairy scrunching eyebrows.jpg
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: I have a self-study block right now.
[Not Zhiliao]: The military training uniform’s quality sucks, can I file a complaint? Groundhog breathing fire.jpg
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: Sure, what are your issues, Student Luo, I’ll pass it on.
Luo Zhiyu faces the washing machine, taking photos at different angles.
[Not Zhiliao]: Look, it bleeds! [Picture] [Picture]
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: ……
The chat interface indicates that the other person is typing. It is not until a long moment after when Luo Zhiyu receives Xiao Yan’s reply.
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: My god, do you have any common sense? You put dark clothes and white clothing in the same load???
[Not Zhiliao]: ? Is that not allowed?
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: The First Metropolitan school uniforms are only for the aesthetic, not quality. Sorry, your complaint does not fall under our customer care program.
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: Stop yapping, I’m going to class now.
[Not Zhiliao]: Really, I didn’t know you were that keen on going to class.
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: Depends on the class.
“What did he say?” Jing Ximing says.
“Nothing useful.” Luo Zhiyu looks over his school uniform, turning it this way and that, “What do I do? I had an accident earlier so now I just have this one uniform jacket now.”
The ‘accident’ lies on Luo Zhiyu’s chair, fabric split open by a branch, covered with small thorns and plant bits. It really is not wearable, but ordering a uniform is a bit of a hassle and takes an entire week to arrive.
“I have to give a speech at the flag-raising ceremony next week.” Luo Zhiyu worries, “Can I wear yours?”
First Metropolitan’s school policies are generally strict, deducting students’ credits over the dress code all the time, which closely influences a student’s academic record. Luo Zhiyu is not very devoted to academics, but his parents very much are — and in turn, the academic record determines his future allowance.
“You’re taller than me though. And the student number and name plate doesn’t match up, and it’s hard to take off too.” Jing Ximing holds his own school uniform next to Luo Zhiyu, eyeing the size, “You can’t get away with wearing mine.”
Luo Zhiyu asks around in the Class 3 group chat. It turns out that out of all the omega students, only he and Jing Ximing brought a change of uniforms in the first place.
“So, they don’t change?” Luo Zhiyu seems to have caught onto something.
“What if we bleach it?” Jing Ximing suggests, “Maybe there’s hope if you bleach it.”
Half an hour later, the parts of the uniform that are supposed to be white remain blue, but the red parts have been forcibly bleached white.
One uniform maimed, one destroyed — Luo Zhiyu no longer has any school uniform.
“Can I give my speech on the podium in just the school uniform pants?” Luo Zhiyu asks intently, “Coincidentally, my topic is actually about dress code presentation.”
“Maybe just borrow one? You’ll have to wait till next week to get a new one, and everyone in our grade needs an extra to change into. Your best bet is probably from someone in second or third year, but I don’t know if they would’ve kept their first-year uniforms.” Jing Ximing pinches his nose, delicately picking up Luo Zhiyu’s uniform jacket and throwing it in the garbage, “Kind of tough, though.”
“Second or third year?” This gives Luo Zhiyu some inspiration, “There actually is someone!”
“Who?” Jing Ximing lifts his head.
“My definitely innocent schoolmate.”
At 8pm, with the dark of the night as cover, Luo Zhiyu ties the tattered uniform jacket around his waist and infiltrates the school building. Dodging and avoiding teachers, he slips towards the Second Year, Class 3 classroom.
Class 3 has evening classes that night. Luo Zhiyu locates at once, from the crowd of blue uniforms, the one who was “not the same” — Xiao Yan sits next to the window, back straight, listening intently, and occasionally writing things down on his notebook.
[Not Zhiliao]: You’re surprisingly focused in class. Panda wiping sweat.jpg
Luo Zhiyu waits for ten minutes, then digs out a stick of chalk from his pocket, breaking into smaller segments.
Xiao Yan’s deskmate, Fan Yue, is scrolling through the First Metropolitan campus forum —
[Anonymous poll! Who is the most popular new student this year?]
1L: Vote! Personally I like Luo Zhiyu. Look at this edited photo from the entrance ceremony, no words needed. [Photo attached].
2: Ah, the school-grass is as good-looking as always. Who wouldn’t like our school-grass, just saying.
3L: I voted for Yan Cihan in Class 6, apparently his pheromones smell like spicy fried gluten 1. That’s delicious man, I’m craving it right now. Drool.jpg
4L: Damn, I’m getting hungry from this.
5L: Okay, reel in the thirst, the two of you. Don’t just openly discuss someone’s pheromones like this.
5L: Luo Zhiyu! I’ll just cut to the chase, I still have HQ photos from when he was hitting people with a broomstick.
6L: I passed by the sports field that day. People in Class 3 are generally good-looking.
7L: Borrowing this post to say, date me, I’m super sweet! I’m an alpha with a rock sugar braised pear scent.
Xiao Yan suddenly stops writing and touches the back of his head. He turns towards Fan Yue, showing his confusion.
Fan Yue startles; thinking a teacher is coming, he quickly puts down his phone.
“You’re fine.” Xiao Yan shakes his head, continuing to pay attention to class. Another chalk segment hits the back of his head; Xiao Yan turns around to see a barely-there but familiar figure behind him.
Xiao Yan: “……”
The next time Fan Yue looks up, he sees the notes that Xiao Yan was just writing, but no deskmate.
In the staircase next to the back door of the Class 3 classroom, Xiao Yan finds a suspiciously lurking Luo Zhiyu.
“Looking for me?” Xiao Yan leans next to the staircase, appraising Luo Zhiyu who he had just seen hours ago. “Still wanna fight?”
“Was looking for you, but not to fight.” Luo Zhiyu already had his heart set on borrowing Xiao Yan’s uniform before he left the dorms, but standing before him now, he hesitates just as the words are about to come out.
“I have class.” Xiao Yan glances at his watch, “Second year is busy, l’ll give you one minute.”
“Yeah right, you don’t seem like the type to love studying to me.” Luo Zhiyu asks, “You’re so keen, what class is it anyway?”
“Health class, I am getting to know myself.” The curriculum at First Metropolitan is rigorous, but health class 2 needs to be taught, so the school moved it to the self-study block in the evening.
“Oh.” Luo Zhiyu isn’t that interested, but he remembers his reason for coming here in the first place and mumbles, “Xiao Yan, can I, borrow your school uniform.”
“Borrow my uniform?”
The teacher’s voice travels from the Class 3 classroom: “Students who have presented as alphas, you have to be aware of your isolation period. Your pheromones are unstable in this period, so you have to be careful about staying away from others and managing your emotions. This is to ensure that you do not harm others and influence your life and studies.”
“Now, let us introduce some basic knowledge regarding your secondary gender. I will explain to everyone the appropriate distance between alphas and omegas, to maintain a pure friendship…”
Outside the classroom, Xiao Yan appraises Luo Zhiyu for two seconds and quickly connects the dots between his “Better safe than sorry” theory and the picture of the blue-soaked load of laundry. He concludes with confidence: “I see. You don’t have a uniform to wear anymore, right?”
The schadenfreude in his tone is too obvious. Luo Zhiyu wants to hit someone again.
“Yeah.” He is asking a favour of him after all, so he holds in his anger, lowering his head meekly.
“Luo Zhiyu, are we on this kind of terms with each other?” Xiao Yan looks at him, a hint of ridiculing in his gaze, “It hasn’t even been three days since school started and you have: swiped my meal card, drank my soda, and now you want to wear my school uniform. What kind of person do you take me for?”
What kind of person? Luo Zhiyu doesn’t know, he hasn’t thought about it. The only thing in his mind right now is the school uniform — in particular, the one that Xiao Yan is currently wearing.
“You tempted me with the watermelon and soda, but I’ll let it go.” Luo Zhiyu puts on a pleasant attitude, “Really, I won’t hold a grudge, that ends here.”
“You were beating me up with a broomstick at lunchtime.” Xiao Yan takes the opportunity to settle the score between them, “Do you want to reflect on that?”
Luo Zhiyu: “I am reflecting.” The broomstick was a little heavy; he should’ve gone with the tree branch.
“At least you have a good attitude.” Xiao Yan nods.
“Are you going to let me borrow it or not? Yours is going to dry tomorrow, but I don’t have any to wear. Everyone needs to wear one and you’re the only person in second and third year that has their first-year uniform with them.” Luo Zhiyu’s gaze is locked fixedly on the school uniform on Xiao Yan, “The Director said, friendship and unity.”
“Since excellence has brought us to meet here,” Luo Zhiyu elevates the topic at hand, “I think we should cherish it.”
In the classroom, the teacher’s voice has not paused this entire time —
The teacher gets more and more impassioned: “As such, there can be pure and innocent friendships between alphas and omegas, but one must be aware of the distance with which you interact.”
“Nevermind.” After all, Xiao Yan is at the root of today’s events, and he decides to take responsibility, “I’ll let you borrow it.”
The teacher in the classroom reaches the conclusion, raising their voice: “Keeping in mind that the bulk of presentations happen in high school, there are some actions that everyone must be aware of. First, an alpha cannot casually stare at an omega’s neck — this is very rude, and no touching either. ‘Just joking around’ is not an excuse.”
“Pheromones are very important for both alphas and omegas…”
“One must also be careful with personal belongings that might soak up one’s pheromones…”
Xiao Yan takes Luo Zhiyu’s tattered uniform jacket and unzips his own, taking it off. He is about stuff it into Luo Zhiyu’s hands
For a second there, Luo Zhiyu thinks he is truly touched by this plot twist of a development in their schoolmate camaraderie.
“No taking off the nameplate, no washing it in the same load as the military training uniform. Return it to me in two weeks.” Xiao Yan emphasizes multiple points, “Return it as borrowed, do you hear me?”
“I…” Luo Zhiyu is about to respond when the Class 3 teacher finally reaches their point of emphasis, hitting the blackboard, raising their voice suddenly, all the more enunciating —
“Thus, as discussed: omega students, pay attention! You have to remember, in school, if an alpha student says that he will let you borrow his school uniform, we can assume, with statistical certainty — that this alpha student is being a pervert.”
Luo Zhiyu: “……”
Xiao Yan: “???”