Translated by Lia of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
October had yet to pass, but the summer heat had gradually dissipated. The early autumn sunshine lazily speckled the classroom like a young man who had fallen out of infatuation and into real love.
With his back straightened, XiaYao lowered his head and concentrated on taking notes. Beside him, Chubby looked down and played with his phone under the desk.
Just as XiaYao glanced at Chubby, Chubby looked up at him.
“XiaYao.” Chubby used his book as cover, came closer to XiaYao and whispered, “You’re chums with ZhouDu, right?”
Keeping his countenance, XiaYao looked at Chubby and didn’t reply.
The teacher finished his notes on the blackboard and turned his head. He set the lesson plan down on the podium and let out a cough.
That startled Chubby to immediately sit upright.
After class, XiaYao packed his books and asked Chubby slowly, “Why did you ask me that?”
Resting his chin on one hand, Chubby replied, “I heard that Jiang Shiwen’s birthday is coming up.”
XiaYao’s expression remained unchanged, but his movements slowed down. He pretended to ask casually, “Oh, and what does her birthday have to do with ZhouDu?”
“Eh, don’t you know? Jiang Shiwen invites friends over to celebrate her birthday every year. ZhouDu is on such good terms with her, he’ll definitely be invited. Since you and ZhouDu seem to be pals, do you think you can ask ZhouDu if he can let us tag along?”
XiaYao’s face dimmed and said in a soft tone, “Why would we go?”
Chubby lay himself down on the desk and sighed, “I want to attend her birthday party just once; this is probably my last shot in high school.”
XiaYao looked at Chubby’s forlorn side profile and could not help but feel a hint of compassion. The hopelessness of unrequited love was a feeling he could definitely relate to.
“That…” XiaYao hesitated for a bit and said, “I can ask for you, but I can’t guarantee anything.”
“Really?” Chubby’s eyes immediately lit up. He exclaimed, “I’m counting on you, XiaYao!”
Once ZhouDu had learned that XiaYao went home alone every day, he hadn’t been willing to take no for an answer in sending him home.
In the beginning, ZhouDu would send XiaYao to the front of his apartment complex and then leave. Slowly, that progressed into him sending XiaYao to his doorstep, and then finally, he wouldn’t leave until he had delivered XiaYao into his apartment. Not to mention, he would find an excuse to stay, “I’ve gone a long way, I’m exhausted. I could use a moment’s rest on your sofa.”
When XiaYao started to let him into the apartment, ZhouDu would honestly just sit for a bit and leave. But later on, it progressed into him losing all sense of shame; he forcefully kissed XiaYao while pinning him in place. And then finally, he had attempted to pull XiaYao’s pants off. That was why XiaYao refused to let him in even if his life depended on it.
XiaYao wasn’t afraid of what ZhouDu would do to him, but he was worried of what he would do to ZhouDu if he had lost control.
Both of them had just walked into the alley, and XiaYao mentioned as casually as possible, “They say that Jiang Shiwen’s birthday is coming up?”
ZhouDu was thinking up of an excuse to make XiaYao let him in again, so when XiaYao brought that up out of nowhere, it took him a moment to react.
“Ah? I don’t know, why do you care what she’s doing for her birthday?”
XiaYao stared down awkwardly at his toes. “I heard that she would invite some friends to celebrate at her place?”
“Why are you asking about this?” ZhouDu looked at XiaYao with suspicion and said, “I’m telling you, if she invited you, you’re not allowed to go.”
XiaYao shook his head and explained, “No, I’m asking because I want to know if you can bring Chubby and me along if she invites you?”
ZhouDu was even more confused.
“Why would you two want to attend her party anyway?”
XiaYao sighed in his head and told ZhouDu the truth, ”It’s Chubby, he wants to attend Jiang Shiwen’s birthday party at least once before high school ends. He seems to have a thing for her.”
After hearing XiaYao’s explanation, ZhouDu asked perplexedly, “What do you mean, a ‘thing’?”
XiaYao sighed again in his head and continued, “He likes Jiang Shiwen.”
XiaYao’s response left ZhouDu dazed for a moment; then, he furrowed his brows.
“He should just tell her if he likes her, why wait for her birthday?”
“Probably because he fears rejection and thinks that she’s out of his league,” XiaYao uttered slowly, his gaze somewhere in the distance.
ZhouDu took note of his reaction and felt uncomfortable for some odd reason. He sighed and said, “Fine, I’ll ask Jiang Shiwen when the time comes.”
The two walked and chatted, and soon they had arrived at XiaYao’s apartment complex.
“Okay, you should hurry home.” XiaYao stopped and waved at ZhouDu, “See you tomorrow.”
“But, I haven’t delivered you to your doorstep yet.”
“It’s fine.” XiaYao took a step back and said, “It’s best if you go home.”
“Okay.” ZhouDu lowered his head, reluctantly turned and left.
Chubby couldn’t believe XiaYao had actually convinced ZhouDu to take him to Jiang Shiwen’s birthday party. After the constant reassurances from XiaYao, he was thrilled enough to hug him and give him a big kiss.
Fortunately, XiaYao was agile enough to dodge Chubby’s incoming bear hug. Otherwise, ZhouDu behind him would throw a jealous fit and give Chubby trouble.
Jiang Shiwen’s birthday happened to be on the weekend. Her father was on a business trip in another city. It was said that it would be another three years before he’d transfer back. As a result, she only lived with her mother, who was a physician.
Jiang Shiwen’s mother knew that her daughter would invite people over for her birthday. Her hospital had always been busy, so she was glad there was someone keeping her daughter company. She felt like that they’d have more fun without her in the way, too.
Therefore, on Saturday afternoon, after her lunch, Jiang Shiwen’s mom said to her daughter, “I’m working a night shift tonight. You guys have fun, but don’t stay up too late, okay? Also, remember to tidy up after, I don’t want to come home from the hospital in the morning to a mess.”
“Mom, I know~” Jiang Shiwen held her mom affectionately. When her mother left, she promptly pulled out her cell phone and sent a group message.
“Comrades! You may now enter the village!”
The first wave of people who showed up were Jiang Shiwen’s closest friends. They pushed the coffee table in the living room to the side and decorated the living room with colored star lights.
The birthday cake was ordered in advance and was to be delivered at 5 PM.
Jiang Shiwen pulled out her spare boom box and took out the microphones, which she then started tuning.
Around four o’clock in the afternoon, other people began to ring Jiang Shiwen’s doorbell, coming with gifts.
When ZhouDu arrived with XiaYao and Chubby, the party crowd had gotten rowdy. Fortunately, the sound insulation of the room was excellent. They waited outside the door and didn’t hear a thing, but when the door opened, a loud scream followed by the shouts of a girl filled their ear drums.
“Oh my god, guys! Let’s give it up for our school’s handsomest Oppa!” The door was flung open by a girl with a round face, she had a pair of bunny ears on her head. She was the first one that began to applaud.
ZhouDu shoved the gift into her arms and interrupted her cheering and applause. XiaYao didn’t know the majority of the people in the room, so he simply stood alongside Chubby and watched them surround ZhouDu.
“You guys should give him a break.” Jiang Shiwen was exceptionally beautiful today. Although autumn had arrived, she was dressed in a knee-high skirt and wore her hair in a ponytail, which gave her an immaculate look.
“XiaYao, Guo Dongdong, welcome to my birthday party.” Jiang Shiwen stood in front of them and gave them a smile.
XiaYao quickly handed over the gift in his hand. Chubby hadn’t heard his real name uttered in a long time, and because it was the first time he’d come this close to Jiang Shiwen, he was so nervous he couldn’t speak.
“Come, have fun.” Jiang Shiwen seemed to notice his nervousness and took him by the arm, bringing him into the group of people dancing.
There weren’t many people in the house; including XiaYao’s gang, there were fewer than ten people. Luckily, Jiang Shiwen’s living room was roomy, so even with that many people standing; it didn’t feel too crowded.
The rather reserved Chubby was surrounded by Jiang Shiwen’s female friends who held decorations in their hands; they asked him to help.
Chubby had something to keep him occupied and found himself gradually relaxing. ZhouDu brought XiaYao to the sofa and sat down with him.
“ZhouDu, come give me a hand!” Jiang Shiwen’s voice came from the kitchen.
ZhouDu looked at XiaYao, and XiaYao made room for him to exit by scooting to the side.
Jiang Shiwen yelled for him again, and ZhouDu had to respond, “Coming.”
After he entered the kitchen, Jiang Shiwen whispered to him, “You told me you were bringing your ‘friends’, I thought you meant your girlfriend, not two dudes.”
“Oh, I thought you knew.”
Jiang Shiwen stole a glance at Chubby outside and said, “I know what he means, but XiaYao? He can’t possibly have a crush on me as well?”
“No,” ZhouDu denied that straight away.
Jiang Shiwen was like a sly fox; she narrowed her eyes and said, “ZhouDu, you’re keeping something from me.”
ZhouDu’s guiltily swept a look at XiaYao that sat outside, and evaded the question, “Why did you call me in here?”
“I thought you were going after a girl. I didn’t see this coming, ZhouDu. Tsk, tsk.” Jiang Shiwen wasn’t planning to let him off the hook.
That’s when ZhouDu’s face grew stern. He glanced at the noisy crowd outside, then went over to the kitchen door and pushed it shut.
“Don’t you dare tell anyone or else…”
“Or else what? Tsk, tsk, ZhouDu, ZhouDu, is that pretty head of yours only an accessory? XiaYao is sitting outside, he’s probably been keeping an eye on us in the kitchen. But look at you, slamming the door shut, what for? Out of fear that he would misunderstand?”
ZhouDu hadn’t thought that much. His first instinct was to make sure that nobody would overhear them, otherwise XiaYao would blame himself.
Jiang Shiwen looked at the dumbstruck ZhouDu, gloatingly arched her brows and said, “Ever since I was brutally rejected by you all those years ago, I’ve been waiting and longed to see what kind of girl you would fall for, ZhouDu. I never expected this, hahaha. For real, ZhouDu, you got me. You win, hahaha.”
Jiang Shiwen was laughing her head off as she left the kitchen.
With a look of resignation across his face, ZhouDu followed Jiang Shiwen outside.