Translated by Ra the mummy of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
A new year came in a silent snowfall, creating a moist atmosphere.
Ever since Xia Yao remembered everything, he spent his new year with only his mother. There was no need to visit relatives or friends, after the New Year Eve’s family dinner, he watched the Spring Festival Gala with his mother.
t/n: Spring Festival Gala is a Chinese New Year special variety show which airs during Chinese New Year’s Eve and it has become a tradition for many Chinese households.
Mother Xia went to bed early, as she wasn’t in the habit of staying up until the new year would come. It wasn’t 9pm yet, and she was yawning nonstop.
“Mom, you should go to bed,” Xiao Yao said as he leaned over to look at his mom’s face.
Mother Xia stood up, she patted Xia Yao’s shoulder and said, “Don’t stay up too late, you should rest soon.”
Shortly after mother Xia entered her room, Zhou Du called. Xia Yao went to his room and shut the door before picking up the call.
“Happy New Year,” Zhou Du’s voice came the other end of the phone.
“Happy New Year,” Xia Yao whispered back.
“Have you eaten New Year’s Eve dinner?”
“I have.” Xia Yao could hear chattering noise coming from Zhou Du’s side.
“Wait a sec,” Zhou Du said to Xia Yao, and then he covered his phone while running upstairs. After he had gone upstairs, Zhou Du quickly explained to Xia Yao, “Both my grandpa and grandma are here to celebrate the New Year, so there are more than a few family members here.”
Xia Yao felt envious; he didn’t have grandparents on his mother’s or father’s side. He felt that besides his mother, he didn’t have any other relatives.
“You should accompany your grandparents and chat with them,” Xia Yao said to Zhou Du.
“It’s ok,” Zhou Du replied with a smile. “I will accompany you instead.”
Xia Yao immediately felt warm inside; his eyes brimmed with emotion, he couldn’t help but whisper back to Zhou Du on the other end of the phone, “Thank you, Zhou Du.”
Thank you for liking me, thank you for willingly accepting me.
High school had always been the earliest one to start a new semester, as classes had officially begun on the 8th of the new year.
First Lady stood on the platform, she spoke down to them from the high ground, “Cheer up, everyone, a new year is already here. The college entrance exam is drawing near. From this semester onward, the school is going to require all the seniors to attend the night self-study.”
The classroom was suddenly filled with wailing.
“Quiet!” First Lady slammed the table, “You can ask me to leave for special circumstances; otherwise, it doesn’t matter if you stay in the boarding school or just attend the day school, everyone must attend the night self-study.”
The school kept their word, that night, every senior had to stay for the evening self-study. When classes were dismissed at 9pm, parents had already gathered outside to pick up their children. Xia Yao knew the school custom, so he let mother Xia know in advance.
Zhou Du was about to send Xia Yao home, but he was rejected by Xia Yao.
“It’s already late, you should go back. From now on, you don’t have to send me back after every self-study.” He didn’t want to make Zhou Du sad, so he added, “Didn’t we already promise to go to B City together? It’s only a few months away, we should try hard together.”
“But, what does that have anything to do with sending you home?” Zhou Du protested.
Xia Yao blushed, “Whenever you send me home, my head is filled with you and I can’t study with ease. So from now on, it’s better if I go home alone.”
Hearing him say that, Zhou Du immediately felt immensely pleased with himself. “That sounds reasonable, more or less,” he mumbled, and then said to Xia Yao, “Fine, but you have to text me when you get home.”
Xia Yao nodded his head. He knew he was still a bit below the W Uni’s standard. Zhou Du’s grades were exceptionally good, so S Uni was definitely no trouble for him. Xia Yao didn’t have full confidence taking W Uni’s entrance exam; hence, the only thing he could do to shorten the distance was to double his effort.
As time passed by faster, both Xia Yao and Zhou Du seemed to have reached an agreement, as both of them immersed themselves in their studies. Xia Yao unexpectedly took the 5th place in his class.
Mother Xiao couldn’t hide her excitement. On Saturday, she closed her stall early and said that she must take Xia Yao to a restaurant.
However, Xia Yao objected, “Mom, there is no need to go to the restaurant, isn’t it better if we just cook at home?”
“What are you saying? You have done well on your test, I feel so happy.”
Xia Yao pondered, then said, “The food outside might not be hygienic enough. My college entrance exam is about to come soon; if I eat something bad and get a stomachache, it might affect my score.”
Mother Xia felt that her son’s words seemed reasonable, so she gave it a thought before speaking, “You’re right, homemade foods are safer. What do you want to eat tonight? I will buy it for you.”
Xia Yao told her his favorite dishes, and mother Xia happily prepared to go to the food market. After mother Xia had left, the cellphone in Xia Yao’s pocket buzzed. He took out his phone; it was a text from Zhou Du.
[What are you doing?]
Xia Yao thought a little bit before he replied, [I’m writing papers.]
Zhou Du then sent another text, [I miss you, do you miss me?]
Xia Yao stared at the text, only after a while he replied back with only one word, [Yeah.]
Zhou Du immediately sent a new text, [How much?]
Xia Yao didn’t know how to reply back, so he returned his cell phone into his pocket and took out a math exam paper to calm himself down… but the phone kept buzzing nonstop in his pocket.
[Quick, answer me.]
[Where are you?]
Xia Yao felt annoyed by the buzz, but as he was about to reply to Zhou Du, a phone call from Zhou Du came. Xia Yao’s hand trembled. Then, the sound of door opening echoed beside his ear.
“Yao yao,” Mother Xia called for him at the door.
Xia Yao quickly hung up the call, but it didn’t take one second for another buzz to come. Xia Yao was afraid to be found out by his mother, so he panickedly turned off his cell phone.
“What’s wrong, Mom?” Xia Yao stood in front of his door, and asked.
Mother Xia smiled and shook her head, “I’m really getting old, I didn’t realize I forgot the wallet at home until I was halfway there. Did I disturb your study?”
“No.” Xia Yao watched his mother leave the house, then once again stepped inside his room.
Xia Yao turned on his phone again, took a look, but it seemed like Zhou Du hadn’t called him again. He looked at the math test on his desk, pondered, and put his cell phone into the drawer.
Zhou Du ran to his house as fast as he could; he was panting heavily when he reached Xia Yao’s place. Xia Yao was struggling with the math problems when he heard a knock at the door. He got curious and thought his mom must have forgotten something again, so he went out.
When he opened the door, he found out that Zhou Du was standing outside.
“You, you, why did you come?” Xia Yao looked at Zhou Du in astonishment.
Zhou Du said breathlessly, “Why didn’t you take my call?”
Xia Yao hurriedly dragged him inside. “I was doing homework.” As if he was trying to make Zhou Du believe him, he walked inside his room and pointed at the test papers on his desk, “Look yourself.”
Zhou Du quickly stepped inside Xia Yao’s room, then he shut the door and pulled Xia Yao behind the door, “Quick, say you miss me.”
Xia Yao didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “You ran all the way to my house just for this?”
Zhou Du saw Xia Yao didn’t say what he wanted, so he aggressively blocked his lips by kissing him fiercely. “Say you like me.”
“Zhou Du!” Xia Yao shouted vaguely and pushed him back. “Don’t be like that.”
Zhou Du showed a face as though he was wronged, and just stared at Xia Yao.
Xia Yao’s heart went soft; he raised his hand to stroke Zhou Du’s face, and he looked at the other passionately, “I like you.”
Zhou Du couldn’t help but smile;he lowered his head and gave Xia Yao a kiss, as he asked, “How much?”
Xia Yao’s face turned red; he let Zhou Du kiss him, and then answered Zhou Du in a low voice, “So much. So, so much.”
“Me too.” Zhou Du put his tongue inside Xia Yao’s mouth after he said that.
Mother Xia was standing outside of Xia Yao’s room with a pale face; the plastic bags in her hand had caused her fingers to turn red.
T/n: Gasp, the classic “mother found out her son was having an affair with a man and kissing behind her back” has begun.
She could clearly hear their conversation from outside. At first, when she heard Zhou Du and Xia Yao were both inside, she had intended to knock on the door to ask whether Zhou Du wanted to stay over for dinner, but then she came closer and heard Zhou Du say, “Say you like me.”
Having heard that, mother Xia actually didn’t think much, not until she heard her son’s reply. She was thunderstruck.
Mother Xia panickedly took a step back; Zhou Du was immersively kissing Xia Yao behind the door. Mother Xia carried the bag of foods she just bought and once again left the house. She stood outside the door, her mind empty.
In her mind, it was wrong for men to like men. It was sickness—her son was sick. She thought in fear, what should she do? Her Yao Yao had always been a good kid, why did he suddenly learn something so bad?
This must be Zhou Du’s fault.
A trace of resentment flashed in mother Xia’s eyes; she was sure that he must be the one teaching her son bad things. However, she couldn’t jump in and separate them right now. Xia Yao was about to take the college entrance exam.
That’s right, mother Xia felt relief, as long as Yao Yao became a college student, and was separated from Zhou Du, he would surely become normal again.
It was as if she just found a new hope for herself, a trace of color finally appeared on her face. Once mother Xia sorted out her emotions, she shouted inside as she stood in front of the door, “Yao Yao.”
Inside the room, Xia Yao panickedly pushed Zhou Du away, hurriedly answering, “Mom, you have returned.”
He opened the door of his room, ran toward the front door and helped his mom carry the groceries inside.
“Godmother.” Zhou Du also came closer and gave her a greeting smile.
Mother Xia forced herself to show a polite smile, and she gave Zhou Du a nod.
“Godmother, let me help you wash the vegetables.” Zhou Du said enthusiastically.
Mother Xia did not spare a single look to Zhao Du; instead, she looked at Xia Yao and said, “Don’t bother yourself, you should go back to your room and do your homework.”
Xia Yao couldn’t do anything but put down the food and return to his room. Since Zhou Du didn’t see any response from mother Xia, he felt a bit awkward.
“Zhou Du.” Mother Xia put all her effort into calling his name.
“What is it, Godmother?”
“You, you should go home first, both of you are about to take the college entrance exams. You should keep your mind on preparing for the test, after that you can come to play with Yao Yao.”
Zhou Du realized mother Xia was driving him away; he was stunned briefly, but quickly gave her a smile, “You are right, Godmother. In that case, I’ll go now.” He purposely called louder toward Xia Yao’s room, “I’m going home, Xia Yao.”
Xia Yao stepped outside and said to Zhou Du, “I will send you off.”
“Send what.” Mother Xia even though was smiling, but her smile didn’t show in her eyes, “You should do your homework soon, don’t be too full of yourself just because your score was better on the last test.”
“That’s right,” Zhou Du agreed with mother Xia. “It’s not like I don’t know the way back home; I’m going home now. See you later, Godmother.”
After Zhou Du’s silhouette had disappeared behind the door, her smile vanished like snow in spring.
Xia Yao felt as though his mom was a bit tense lately. She had never asked him about his situation at school before, but now she would use indirect methods to get information. Xia Yao slowly realized something was different; it turned out his mom was worried about puppy love.
“Mom, it’s ok.” Xia Yao assured his mom, “I’m certain I won’t let puppy love affect my studies.”
Mother Xia looked at him with complicated look in her eyes, “I’m not an old-fashioned mom. If you like some girls, your mom isn’t going to oppose you, it’s just that you are still young. After you go to college, I won’t interfere with your love life.”
“Mom, I know. Rest assured, I will put my studies first.”
How could mother Xia feel relieved? However, there were some things she didn’t want to talk about. If she had to pretend to know nothing, then so be it. She saw that Yao Yao was still young, so he didn’t understand much; she’d just wait until he went to college and was separated from Zhou Du. Then, her son would surely change back.
The time for the college entrance exam was drawing near. Before anyone noticed, the days countdown on the blackboard had changed from three digits to two digits, and then there was only a single digit left.
The closer the date of the entrance exam was, the less pressure First Lady gave them.
Xia Yao’s mind was heavily pressured regardless. The result of the third mock exam hadn’t met his expectations, thus he hadn’t been in high spirits lately. After class, since Chubby wasn’t there, Zhou Du took the chance and sat next to Xia Yao to chat.
“What’s with that upset look?”
Xia Yao looked at him and sighed, “According to the result of the third mock exam, I’m certain I can’t pass W Uni’s exam.”
To Xia Yao’s surprise, Zhou Du comforted him, “It’s ok to not pass the exam.” He whispered, “It doesn’t matter if we don’t end up staying in the same city. At worst, I can just come visit you every week. I don’t want to see you unhappy.”
Xia Yao was moved; he looked at Zhou Du, and answered, “Actually, enrolling into W Uni has always been my dream. The college entrance exam hasn’t started yet… we don’t know what will happen.”
Zhou Du really wanted to caress Xia Yao’s face at this moment, but there were still people inside the classroom. He couldn’t do anything but put his hand in his pocket and stand up, saying, “You can do it.”
Xia Yao nodded at him.
Wang Hao hadn’t been in good mood lately. His performances had always been poor, but usually, one or two bad test results wouldn’t upset him like this. Zhou Du was conscientious enough to realize this, and he decided to share a tiny bit of concern, which he had previously directed all to Xia Yao, with his childhood friend.
“Why are you looking so half-dead lately?” He stood behind Wang Hao and kicked his chair.
Wang Hao looked at him unhappily, then he groaned. “Ugh…”
Zhou Du couldn’t stand his response, so he took back that ‘fingernail’ size of concern and returned to his seat.
“Wait,” Wang Hao grabbed Zhou Du’s hand. “Let’s skip the evening class.”
“Skip class?” Zhou Du frowned, “What for?”
“To get drunk.” Wang Hao intentionally looked out the window with a deep look.
Zhou Du replied ruthlessly, “No.”
“Are we still even bros anymore?” Wang Hao didn’t want to listen, desperately clinging onto Zhou Du’s hand.
Zhou Du was about to shake him off when Zhang Yang walked inside the classroom.
“What are you two doing?” he looked at Wang Hao and Zhou Du, and then he pulled away Wang Hao, who was like a sloth holding onto Zhou Du.
“Zhang Yang.” Wang Hao switched his eyes on Zhang Yang, “Want to get drunk with me tonight?”
Zhang Yang looked at him calmly, “What do you want to get drunk for? Broken heart, or failing the test?”
“Neither.” Wang Hao looked like a deflated ball as he lay limp on the table, “My father wants me to study abroad.”
Both Zhou Du and Zhang Yang were stunned.
Wang Hao ferociously bit the meat on the bamboo skewers, then took a big gulp of beer. It was the time of the second period of the 12th grade’s night self-study, and they were inside a barbecue stall located on the roadside.
“Can you even study abroad with your English level?” Zhou Du mocked him.
Wang Hao swallowed the meat and beer, then he looked at Zhou Du as if he was wronged, “I also don’t want to go, but my father insists on it.”
Zhang Yang had been remaining silent ever since he heard Wang Hao was going to study abroad.
Wang Hao nudged Zhang Yang with his elbow, saying, “Don’t you usually come up with the best solutions? Quick, help me think of something.”
Zhang Yang looked at Wang Hao with complicated eyes, and he replied clumsily, “Your father wants to send you abroad… isn’t it because of your grades which only lower level universities would accept? This way, studying abroad might be a good solution.”
Wang Hao didn’t expect Zhang Yang to rather join his father than help him coming up with an idea, so he immediately got angry. “Just because I study abroad, you think I will be able to study in a good school? It could be some diploma mill university.”
Having heard that, Zhang Yang didn’t retort back, he simple picked up the cup of wine and took a sip.
“Anyway, I don’t want to study abroad,” Wang Hao continued. “What good is studying abroad? Tossing me to some foreign countries while you guys are idling at home. I won’t agree to it.”
Zhou Du glanced at him, “You should have treasured those times when Zhang Yang dragged you to the makeup lessons everyday.”
Wang Hao turned his head over to look at Zhang Yang, and then fake cried on his shoulder, “I was wrong, Zhang-ge, you are indeed a wise man! I am regretting this so, so, so much.”
Zhang Yang balled his hand on the table into a fist, clenching with every ounce of strength he had to push back the thought of hugging Wang Hao.
“Which country are you going to?” he asked in a hoarse voice.
“I don’t know, it seems like my father wants to send me to the US. I can’t even say ‘Gud monin’ (Good Morning) correctly, how could I live there? How can I live without you guys?” Wang Hao finally cried sincerely this time.
In the end, Zhang Yang couldn’t suppress his urge, so he reached out his hand and patted Wang Hao’s head, “It’s ok, live there well, maybe we will meet again.”
Wang Hao was overjoyed, “Are you going to the US as well?”
Zhang Yang shook his head, “I heard that every university offers an exchange program between countries. I can only say it’s a possibility, but I cannot guarantee it.”
Wang Hao turned into a pile of mud on the table again.
Zhou Du couldn’t stand his dead dog appearance. He kicked him under the table, “Why are you looking like you are facing a matter of life or death? Aren’t you coming back a few years later?”
“You say that so easily. I’d like to see how you’d react if Xia Yao were to go to the US for a few years!”
“Wang Hao!” A hint of anger flashed across Zhou Du’s face.
Wang Hao realised his slip of tongue too late; he looked at Zhang Yang with guilt, and to his surprise, Zhang Yang calmly opened his mouth to say, “You and Xia Yao must already be together.”
Both Wang Hao and Zhou Du perplexedly looked at Zhang Yang. Zhou Du seemed to react sooner—he quickly glanced at Wang Hao.
“I haven’t said anything,” Wang Hao hurriedly sweared, “Really.”
“I realized it on my own.” Zhang Yang maintained his unshaken look, “Xia Yao has always been an introvert, now he suddenly walks so close to you. I couldn’t think of any other reason. Also,” he paused before continuing, “can you be less obvious when you look at Xia Yao? Don’t say it’s just me, when time comes, others might start suspecting.”
Zhou Du’s ears went red from his words, he sneered, “If it weren’t Xia Yao who doesn’t want people to know, I couldn’t care any less about others’ opinions. Laozi likes who laozi likes. What the fuck does that got to do with anyone?”
T/n: Laozi: a self-addressed term to indicate one’s superiority, usually used when angry.
“That’s right, what the fuck does that got to do with them?! Come, bottoms up!” Wang Hao raised his glass and drank his beer gulp after gulp until he had none left. “Ah~so good!”
Zhang Yang silently emptied his cup of wine at once while hiding the envy he had for Zhou Du under his eyelids.
Without a doubt, Wang Hao was dead drunk. Even though disgust showed on Zhou Du’s face, he still carried him on his shoulder.
“Taking him home?” Zhang Yang asked Zhou Du.
“If we just take him home like that, his father would skin him alive. Maybe we should go to my house.” He paused a bit, “Actually no, if we go to my house and my father learns about it, then it’s just a matter of time before his father knows as well. How about your house?” Zhou Du put Wang Hao’s hand on Zhang’s shoulder and said, “Let him stay with you for one night, it’s quite late now, I should also head back.”
Zhang Yang hugged Wang Hao’s waist, and nodded toward Zhou Du, “Ok, be careful on your way.”
Even though Wang Hao was dead drunk, his mouth couldn’t stop mumbling, “I won’t go to the US, I won’t go to the US.”
Zhang Yang whispered to his ear, as though coaxing a child, “Ok, we won’t go anywhere, let’s go home.”
At night, Xia Yao hid under the blanket while texting Zhou Du. When he finally learned about Wang Hao’s studying abroad, he couldn’t but sigh. [What did Zhang Yang say?]
Zhou Du wondered why Xia Yao asked about Zhang Yang, but he still answered honestly, [Zhang Yang said he would support Wang Hao going to the US.]
Hearing Zhou Du say that, Xia Yao’s heart was full of admiration towards Zhang Yang. If Zhou Du had to study abroad for several years, Xia Yao knew he wouldn’t be able to withstand it.
[Anyway, I won’t let us separate. We are aiming for B City, understand?] Another text came from Zhou Du.
Xia Yao looked at the new message, and his heart felt warm. He replied with [I know.]
Between him and Zhou Du, well, they probably wouldn’t be separated. Xia Yao put his phone on the side, looked up at the ceiling in daze. It was just that his mother…
Xia Yao turned over and looked towards the wall in the direction of his mother’s room.
He definitely wouldn’t behave like his previous life, quarrelling with his mother and then ignoring her. If his mother refused to acknowledge them, then he would wait for her because he believed that one day his mother would understand.
After all, she was his mother, right?