Chapter 37: “I like you too; you’re the only one I like too. I won’t ever anger you again.”
Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
When that woman walked out, XiaYao deliberately hid himself on the level on top. Peeking out from the staircase gap, he noticed that person was the woman he had chanced upon previously in the passageway. He stared at her, not moving an inch. Only when she had reached the first floor and was almost out of sight, did he take a breath and walked towards his home, stopping in front of the doorway.
Since young, Xia Yao had never once heard his mother mentioning his father; he had always assumed that he didn’t have one. Perhaps he died or abandoned him and his mother. No matter which it was, the one sharing her life together with him had always been his mother.
He didn’t understand what did that woman meant by ‘Sooner or later, he will have to return to his father’s side.’ In other words, he indeed had a father, and maybe he was living quite well.
Nonetheless, no matter how affluent that person, also known as his father, was, XiaYao would never leave his mother. He didn’t need him in his past life or his current life. He didn’t need him when he was young, all the more so now that he had grown up.
Although the present life he had with his mother was destitute, XiaYao believed that with hard work, he certainly would be able to gift his mother a better life in the future.
He stood outside the door to adjust his emotions, before finally opening that slightly mottled wooden door to his home.
“Mom, did that friend of yours come here again?” he asked, feigning innocence. As XiaYao’s mother had too much on her mind, she didn’t quite catch what XiaYao was saying. XiaYao continued patiently, “I saw that auntie again when I climbed the stairs.”
“Oh,” XiaYao’s mother’s gaze flickered, “she is free today, so she visited me.”
“I see,” XiaYao changed the topic, not paying it much attention, “Mom, let’s have fish for dinner today. It’s been a while since we had it.”
XiaYao’s mother stood up in a hurry, “Alright. Go on and do your homework then. I’ll be cooking dinner now.”
XiaYao carried his bag as he went into his room. With his back leaning on the door of his room, he lowered his eyes, pondering.
When the Zhou family’s nanny called ZhouDu over for dinner, she realized his door was open, and he currently had his head on the desk while scribbling something. Looking at the bunch of sheets of paper ZhouDu had thrown all over the floor, the nanny assumed he was solving a problematic question. Thus, she knocked on the door and called him softly, “The dinner is ready.”
Once ZhouDu heard a voice coming from behind his back, he frantically shoved the paper in his hands into a drawer. He glanced at the scatter of wasted paper at his feet, pretending as though he was nonchalant while replying, “Got it. I’ll be there soon.” After the nanny had left, he bent down and picked the papers up in a hurry.
Early in the morning next day, ZhouDu had heavy dark circles under both of his eyes. He packed his items listlessly, getting ready for school. ZhouDu’s mother was just coming down the stairs when she yelled out to ZhouDu, who was then about to go off.
“Look at how lifeless you look. Let me guess, XiaYao didn’t accept your apology?”
ZhouDu answered with a “Mn”, seemingly unwilling to discuss it with his mother. With a push of the door, he sprinted out immediately. ZhouDu’s mother stood on the stairs, her brows creasing as she fell deep into thought.
As always, the school was bustling with life. Both of ZhouDu’s hands were tucked into his pockets, clutching an item tightly. XiaYao had his head lowered while he did his homework on his seat. After staring at XiaYao’s back for a long while, ZhouDu finally mustered up his courage. He got up his seat to head over to XiaYao.
However, a classmate sitting in front of XiaYao turned over all of a sudden and placed a reference book onto XiaYao’s table. XiaYao stopped writing and took the reference book. The two of them appeared to be in a discussion. With no choice, ZhouDu plopped back down his seat again.
There were two consecutive exams in the morning, and in the afternoon, XiaYao was dragged away by Chubby to the canteen for lunch. The chance to talk to XiaYao kept slipping through ZhouDu’s fingers.
After the third lesson had ended, XiaYao got up and left his seat. Only then did ZhouDu chase after him. However, XiaYao was stopped by the English teacher when he reached the school gates; the English teacher had always adored XiaYao. Hence, ZhouDu could only head back to the classroom. Not long after he got back, the First Lady entered the classroom with a scowl. The noisy classroom went silent in an instant.
“The class is about to start, and yet all of you are still making a din. Don’t you know how to get your textbook out in advance and read it?!”
Such ridiculous reprimands were a common occurrence for everyone. The obedient students hastily took out the textbooks needed. However, ZhouDu looked slightly annoyed, glaring absentmindedly at his desk. The First Lady usually paid a bit more attention to ZhouDu. Once he noticed how preoccupied he looked, he immediately saw red.
The moment he was about to berate ZhouDu, a sudden earthquake warning alarm blared all over the school. As the city ZhouDu resided in was a seismic zone in itself, plus the Sichuan Earthquake disaster happened just a few months ago, the class went into a frenzy at once.
“Hurry up and get down the stairs! Run towards open spaces!” the First Lady stood behind the teacher’s desk as he howled at the terrified students. Roused from their shock, the students swarmed out of the classroom. Thumpings could be felt in every corner of the worn-out third-year block, almost causing the building to be on the verge of collapse from the shaking. Only after every single student left the classroom did the First Lady run down the floor, following behind his students. Everyone had congregated at the newly renovated stadium. Currently, each and every homeroom teacher was gathering their students together.
ZhouDu panted heavily, his hands on his knees. The faces of the classmates beside him were drained of color. He lifted his head and swept his eyes over his group of classmates, realizing that the familiar figure in his mind was nowhere to be found. Panic consumed ZhouDu right away. He grabbed a random person beside him instantly and questioned, “Have you seen XiaYao?” The person went as white as a sheet as he shook his head vehemently.
A girl next to them was rather calm. She informed the panicking ZhouDu, “When I got into the classroom just now, I saw XiaYao following the English teacher to the office on the fifth floor.” Before the girl even ended her sentence, ZhouDu had already pushed through the packed crowd and dashed towards the teaching block, heading opposite the stream of students. An aghast cry came out of the crowd. When The First Lady turned over to take a look, his face contorted with anger. “ZhouDu! Come back!” he roared at ZhouDu. Nevertheless, ZhouDu recklessly rushed into the teaching block, as though nothing went into his ears.
ZhouDu’s mad dash to the teaching block made WangHao agitated. He tried to chase him, but was caught by ZhangYang behind him. “Let go of me!” WangHao bellowed at ZhangYang. However, ZhangYang clutched WangHao tightly in silence.
“Are you going to just watch ZhouDu dashing to his death?” WangHao struggled away from ZhanYang’s clutches wildly. However, ZhangYang merely uttered, “That’s his choice. But there’s no way I will let you throw your life away.” Fire burned intensely in WangHao’s eyes as he stared at ZhangYang. On the other hand, The First Lady howled out with a formidable force, “Silence, all of you!”
“Excuse me,” XiaYao muttered to someone from another class, before sauntering to the area where his classmates were gathered. Once WangHao spotted XiaYao, he hollered at him, “XiaYao, you fucker! ZhouDu went up to look for you!” XiaYao froze immediately. He noticed that WangHao, who was gripped firmly by ZhangYang, had his eyes completely red.
Realizing XiaYao wasn’t in the teacher’s office, ZhouDu hurried down to the classroom below. The wailings of the alarm above him distressed him. Truth be told, he was terrified, terrified that the block would collapse in the next second before he had the chance to find XiaYao.
After coming back to his senses and looking at how anxious WangHao was, XiaYao hastily walked to him to explain, “Don’t worry; this is just a drill.” Ever since the Sichuan earthquake disaster, every single school began taking earthquake drills much more seriously. This very drill was an unprepared emergency exercise without any advance notice given. The teachers had been notified long ago, which was why the First Lady had arrived at the classroom ahead of time. And XiaYao, who followed the English teacher to the office, was told about it by the teacher the moment the alarm rang.
XiaYao and his English teacher had only left the building after most of the people got off the block. He couldn’t find his class right away, but when he finally did, he was given such news by WangHao. He lifted his head and glanced towards the teaching block, a complicated expression on his face. However, at that moment, ZhouDu was still searching every single empty classroom for XiaYao.
The bald, beer-bellied principal of A High was over 50 years old and did not wear any spectacles. While pointing his pudgy fingers at ZhouDu, he told ZhouDu’s father who was standing at the side, “Look at your son! Gosh! I don’t even know what in the world is inside his mind! Everyone knows to get out of the building during an earthquake; and yet he just ran up the building on his own! Tell me, what in the world are you thinking?!”
The First Lady was standing beside the principal too, forcing a smile on his face as he spoke, “It’s all my fault. I have not educated my students enough about emergency drills. Please don’t worry; besides the usual curriculum, this would also be taught to them next time.”
“Please calm down,” ZhouDu’s father smiled gently at the principal. The principal didn’t dare to snap at ZhouDu’s father. Instead, he glared at the First Lady, “As a homeroom teacher, you are responsible too. Aren’t all homeroom teachers informed to get to their classes early to organize the students? How did you manage to let him run back up the building?” The First Lady nodded profusely, having no courage to retort to the principal. Following next, the principal turned his stern face towards ZhouDu, “Tell me, what did you go up for?”
ZhouDu pursed up his lips, displaying his refusal to reply. With a frown, his father commanded in a low voice, “ZhouDu.” After a slight pause, ZhouDu forced an answer out begrudgingly, “To take something.”
The principal slammed his chubby hand on wooden office desk with a ‘thud.’ The impact was probably rather painful as he scrunched his face before exploding on ZhouDu, “What in the world is so important that you have to risk your life to take it?!” ZhouDu lowered his head, receiving his lecture in silence. Only then did ZhouDu’s father speak to the principal again, “Please calm down. When are you free? Why not find some time to have a cup of coffee together?”
Since ZhouDu’s father was a respected person in H City as well; the principal didn’t have the nerve to lash out at him. Seeing that ZhouDu’s father had given him an out, the principal waved his hands and let ZhouDu off.
When ZhouDu got into his classroom, WangHao was about to run up to him and give him a scolding. But unexpectedly, the First Lady was just behind ZhouDu. A glance around the classroom showed that everyone had their head lowered, readying themselves for a fierce scolding by the First Lady. To everyone’s surprise, the First Lady merely heaved out a sigh, “Although it is just a drill today, you’ll never know when a real disaster will strike. It is negligence on my part too. Every day, I nagged at all of you to study, study, and study; yet never once did I mention about safety education.” He took a look at ZhouDu, who was at his own seat, and continued, “ZhouDu, you must learn from the mistakes you made today. Next time, the first thing to do in danger is to ensure your own safety. Nothing is more important than your life, got it?” Once XiaYao heard that from the First Lady, he couldn’t help clutching his ballpoint pen tightly.
When the school ended, ZhouDu was fetched by his father to be brought home. XiaYao packed his stuff and got out of the classroom after most of his classmates had left. But the moment he stepped out of the classroom, his way was blocked by WangHao out of the blue. “Are you having a fight with ZhouDu?” WangHao got right to the point. XiaYao shook his head, not knowing how he should explain. WangHao paid no mind to it, too.
With that, the two of them strolled towards the school gates. “Say, ZhouDu is quite dumb, right?” WangHao commented, pretending as though he didn’t care about it, “I really got the shock of my life today; I seriously thought an earthquake was coming, like Sichuan…”
XiaYao stopped in his tracks all of a sudden, before turning to WangHao, “WangHao, can you do me a favor?”
The question puzzled WangHao, “What is it?”
“If something like this happened again, please stop him for me.”
WangHao knew who XiaYao was referring to. He replied to him after a slight pause, “Don’t blame me for what I’m about to say next; if I knew ZhouDu was going to find you then, I definitely would have stopped him.” XiaYao nodded as he continued, “You did the right thing.”
WangHao sighed, “But I don’t think I would be able to stop him anyway. Did you know? Once he heard that you were still inside, he raced up the block straight away. I have no idea what the two of you are fighting about, but I guess it’s the reason why ZhouDu seems to be gloomy the past few days. XiaYao, just forgive him if he said anything wrong. He isn’t good with words since young.”
“I’m not angry at him.” XiaYao couldn’t tell WangHao about it. He assumed that ZhouDu would keep ignoring him after that day.
“That’s good then. Go on and reconcile if that’s so. I don’t feel good either when seeing you two being on bad terms with each other.”
XiaYao gave a “Mn” as a reply. As they were out of school by then, they parted ways after WangHao waved goodbye to XiaYao.
When XiaYao’s mother returned home at night, she told XiaYao, “ZhouDu’s parents visited our home in the afternoon.”
“They visited our home?”
XiaYao’s mother sat beside XiaYao, “They wanted to invite us for dinner tomorrow and insisted no matter how I refused.”
“Is it because of my bone marrow donation?”
“Yeah,” XiaYao’s mother ran her hand through her hair at the side of her ear while continuing, “Didn’t ZhouDu’s parents let him recognize me as his godmother when we were at the hospital room then? ZhouDu’s mother said that she was in confinement recently, and so they haven’t had the time to visit us. Since she is out of confinement now, she decided to invite us for dinner and let ZhouDu recognize me as his godmother officially.”
“Hah…” XiaYao’s mom sighed, “I’m not qualified to be ZhouDu godmother. If not for you…”
“Mom,” XiaYao interrupted his mother, “it’s alright. Since they have invited us, there’s no harm going over for a meal. Or else, they will keep feeling bad about it. If you don’t want to be ZhouDu’s godmother, we can just tell them.” Finding what XiaYao said quite reasonable, XiaYao’s mother nodded in agreement.
When the school ended in the afternoon the next day, ZhouDu’s father drove his car to the school. Both XiaYao and ZhouDu sat in the back seat. While driving, ZhouDu’s father informed XiaYao, “Your mom is already in the restaurant and chatting with ZhouDu’s mom. I’ve driven here to bring you over.”
“Thank you, Uncle Zhou.” XiaYao thanked him politely.
“There’s no need for thanks.” ZhouDu’s dad laughed, “We should be the ones thanking you. I’m serious, we are so lucky to have you as ZhouDu’s classmate.”
“I’m lucky as well to be able to get to know ZhouDu.”
Astonished, ZhouDu turned over and glanced at XiaYao. However, instead of looking at him, XiaYao kept his eyes fixed to the front. The wheels of the car rolled to a stop in front of the restaurant. The staff at the doorway hurried over to open the car door for them. When XiaYao entered the private dining room upstairs, he heard his mother chatting merrily with ZhouDu’s mother.
“Oh, YaoYao is here.” ZhouDu’s mom got up straight away and pulled XiaYao over to the seat between herself and XiaYao’s mom, before instructing the wait staff at the side, “You can serve the food now.” Meanwhile, ZhouDu sat opposite of XiaYao.
“Actually, I should have paid both of you a visit earlier on. But well, as you know, Elder Sis, my daughter’s condition isn’t quite good. Sorry for delaying this visit.” ZhouDu’s mother spoke politely while helping to pour XiaYao some water.
“Auntie, you don’t have to do that.” XiaYao took over the teapot in haste.
ZhouDu’s dad smacked his son’s back, “Look at my silly boy. Don’t you know you should greet your godmother?” ZhouDu, who was spying on XiaYao then, swiftly rose up and greeted XiaYao’s mom respectfully, “Godmother.” He was about to sit down when his father added, “I remembered XiaYao being a few months older than ZhouDu. ZhouDu, XiaYao will be your elder brother from now on, got it?” After a glance towards XiaYao, ZhouDu nodded.
“Alright,” Since the dishes were served by that time, ZhouDu’s mom called out, “Let’s eat up. We can talk after dinner.”
XiaYao remained silent during the meal. Only after everyone was full did ZhouDu’s mother cried out, as though something just came to her mind, “I’ve left the present for XiaYao at home.”
“ZhouDu,” she instructed her son, “why don’t you get it with XiaYao?” ZhouDu hurried from his seat, “I can get it by myself.” ZhouDu’s mom glared at his son in exasperation. Surprisingly, XiaYao stood up as well, “Let me go with you.”
ZhouDu’s mom flashed a satisfied smile once she heard that, before waving at them, “The present is in your dad’s study room. Hurry along.” She turned to XiaYao’s mom beside her and started chit-chatting, “Elder Sis, let’s stroll around after dinner, alright? Do you know how much weight I gained during my confinement? I can’t even wear the clothes I used to wear.”
After getting off the taxi, XiaYao and ZhouDu walked towards the Zhou family’s mansion. ZhouDu’s back was as stiff as a post. This was the first time ZhouDu was alone with XiaYao ever since their fight. He was nervous and uneasy, clueless as to how he should break the ice with XiaYao. XiaYao glanced at the silent ZhouDu next to him, stopping his footsteps abruptly, “ZhouDu.” ZhouDu turned over immediately and gazed steadily at XiaYao. “About yesterday…thank you.” XiaYao continued.
“I…” ZhouDu balled his hands into fists, took a deep breath and looked at XiaYao, “I want to apologize to you.” The tangerine yellow rays from the street lamp landed on the shoulders of the two boys. XiaYao looked at ZhouDu without a word.
“I shouldn’t have yelled at you; I shouldn’t have lost my temper at you, much less shatter your phone. XiaYao, I’m sorry; it’s all my fault. I’ve been feeling really guilty the past two days; I’m afraid you’re going to ignore me forever.” The tall boy with a height of over 1.8 meters started choking up in the middle of his apology.
ZhouDu fished out a folded construction paper from his shirt pocket while sniffing. Under the faint yellow lights, he opened the paper slowly—it was the self-criticism letter ZhouDu written during the past few nights. By the time ZhouDu finished reading the letter, XiaYao was sick at heart.
In truth, he didn’t blame ZhouDu at all about the incident then. The moment he saw ZhouDu in the ice cream shop, he knew ZhouDu was definitely peeved. The things ZhouDu said to him afterward did pierce his heart, but compared to that, he was more fearful that ZhouDu would stop liking him. However, ZhouDu’s actions yesterday made him think long and hard when he got back home. Perhaps in ZhouDu’s heart, he wasn’t all that insignificant.
Seeing ZhouDu still had a guilty expression plastered on his face, XiaYao hooked his arm around ZhouDu’s neck and planted a kiss on his lips. ZhouDu widened his eyes, finding the situation unbelievable. After a light peck on the lips, XiaYao pulled his arm back. ZhouDu stared at XiaYao, stupefied. “Let’s go get the present,” XiaYao spoke in embarrassment.
“A- Alright.” ZhouDu’s ears redden in an instant. After walking a few steps, ZhouDu asked suddenly, “Did you kiss me just now?” Only then did he seem to start reacting to it.
“Mn.” The straightforward question thrown to XiaYao painted his face bright red at once.
“Does this mean that you aren’t angry at me?”
“So, does what you said in the past still count?” ZhouDu turned his head, giving XiaYao a helpless gaze.
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” ZhouDu was a little embarrassed, “can I still kiss you when no one is around?” He stared at XiaYao restlessly, terrified at the thought of rejection. “Yes,” XiaYao muttered. ZhouDu couldn’t stop the corner of his lips from perking up.
XiaYao slowed his footsteps down, before turning to ZhouDu, “ZhouDu, you don’t actually have to pay any mind to Fang Zeyu. You’re the only one I like.” No matter if it’s during my past life or my current life, you will still be the one I like.
ZhouDu stood in front of XiaYao, feeling slightly aggrieved as he replied, “This was the exact place you said to me that you didn’t like me last time. You are only attracted to me because of my looks and grades. Though I don’t know how well that Fang Zeyu scores, his looks aren’t really ugly. I’m scared that you might turn your nose up at me when you meet someone better than me.”
Little did XiaYao know, ZhouDu would be afraid of XiaYao turning his nose up at him too. “ZhouDu,” XiaYao answered ZhouDu arduously, “there’s definitely someone better than you in the world. But they aren’t you. No matter how great they are, the only one I like is you, and only you.”
XiaYao’s confession made ZhouDu’s heart leap in joy. He couldn’t stop himself from taking XiaYao into his arms, as he repeated softly, “I like you too; you’re the only one I like, too. I won’t ever anger you again.”