First Published on Chaleuria
092 – This time, he’ll really be touched! He’ll really cry!
The group chatted about everything. They had drunk a lot and no longer held back what they wanted to say, and the conversation topic drifted from online games to their crushes.
Guys only ever chatted about these things.
In their world, which had not yet been dragged out by time and was not yet very wide, these insignificant troubles were of utmost importance.
“The first time I saw her, she was carrying books out of the faculty office. She was looking down as she walked and we nearly crashed into each other… there was nothing special about it, but when she looked up, she smiled at me. Damn, I still remember it to this day.”
The rooftop was run down and it was hard to carry chairs up here, so they had spread a few sheets of newspaper on the floor and weighed them down with the beer cans.
Xie Yu sat beside the iron door. He leaned backwards slightly against the door, reached out, and pulled a can of beer from the plastic bag. He hooked a finger into the ring tab and pulled it open, tilting his head back and drinking a few mouthfuls as he listened.
The cool beer slid down his throat.
Xie Yu put the can down by his side, and his palm happened to press onto the back of He Zhao’s hand.
Wan Da was secretly carrying a torch for someone, too. He had drunk a little too much this time around and under the influence of the people who had gone before him, he followed up. “Yeah, don’t dare tell her I like her…”
Wan Da usually gossiped more than anyone. The moment he got to know something, he couldn’t keep it to himself. Even if someone sewed his mouth shut, it would leak. But he had kept his feelings for the girl in the class next door secret for such a long time.
Xie Yu turned and glanced sideways at He Zhao. “You’re quite daring. What were you thinking? You weren’t scared you’d die?”
He Zhao could tell Xie Yu was referring to the day he had confessed.
He said nothing. He quietly flipped his hand over so his palm was facing up and wove his fingers between Xie Yu’s, taking hold of his hand.
Then He Zhao said, “I was scared.”
Of course he was scared.
All those careful feelings and uncontrollable thoughts. He wanted to draw closer but didn’t dare state his intentions out loud.
But, after the fact, he was glad he had had the courage to take that step.
And he was even more glad that this person next to him… had also walked towards him without a qualm.
Wan Da and the others were still going on about their tragic unrequited loves.
The surroundings were very dark and nobody noticed the surreptitious things the two were doing to the side.
Two or three cans rolled about on the ground, then crashed into the iron door after being blown by the wind and landed next to Xie Yu. He reached out and picked them up, squashed them flat, then threw them into the garbage bag. When he was done, he thought about He Zhao saying they had forced the door open.
The door to the dorm building rooftop was locked year-round. There was a lock and a sign in Mad Dog’s handwriting: ‘Access Forbidden.’
“How did you force the door open?”
He Zhao would never admit he had looked up a lock-picking tutorial online, but discovered in the end that he really had no talent for it, and had fought several rounds with the lock. He said, faux-casually, “With my mind. It was very easy for me to force the lock.”
Xie Yu thought, Look at you bullshitting.
It was near midnight.
Xie Yu had drunk two cans of beer. He glanced at his phone and replied to his text messages.
Aside from Madam Gu’s birthday wishes, several dozen people in the Black Water Street group chat had lined up and to each say ‘Happy Birthday.’ The birthday wishes filled the screen.
[Aunt Mei]: You turn 18 today. You came into this world, so I hope you can do the things you want to do, go the places you want to go, and live every day content and happy.
[Zhou Dalei]: @Xie Yu, congrats on getting another year older, ha ha ha ha.
There were too many messages and Xie Yu was still replying to them when he heard He Zhao call him. “Old Xie.”
Xie Yu finished typing out, ‘Thank you,’ and hit send, then looked up to see that He Zhao had produced a gift box out of somewhere, tied with several ribbons. It didn’t look big, about half a foot high.
“What is this?”
“A present,” He Zhao said. “Your birthday present.”
Xie Yu put his phone aside and took the gift box.
Wan Da and the others crowded round to see. Wan Da, as the leader of the ‘Xie Yu’s Birthday Party’ planning team, was very familiar with He Zhao’s gift selection process. “Zhao-ge spent ages picking this. He forewent sleep and food and gave it all his attention. He said it was a mystery gift. Let us see it?”
Xie Yu had not thought much about it, but now that Wan Da had talked it up so much, he was a little curious.
He pulled off the ribbons and took off the wrapping paper. Inside was a simple cardboard box.
Under the hopeful eyes of everyone present, Xie Yu opened the cardboard box. When he saw what was inside, he didn’t say anything for a long time. “……”
Wan Da couldn’t see properly from his angle and pressed forward a little more. “What is it? What is it?”
He cut himself off halfway.
“Take it out and see.” He Zhao was confident, and clearly satisfied with the gift he had chosen. “The switch is behind the base. It has a rainbow light effect. Very cool.”
Only this idiot would use the word ‘cool’ to describe this thing.
Xie Yu took a deep breath, then mustered the courage to look directly at this ‘cool’ gift—
It was a crystal lamp in the shape of a rather tacky heart. On the heart was printed a photo of the two of them—the one of them sitting on the stairwell landing before the school anniversary celebration.
It had a flowery border that looked like it came from the ‘80s, and there was also several lines of idiotic text. Little friend, fate brought us together. Just as time will not fade away, we will never part. Happy birthday.
It was laser-engraved and very striking.
…It looked like an obituary photo. When the ‘cool’ seven-colored light turned to white light, the black-and-white photo radiated a gloomy glow.
Even more unbelievably, this thing could play music. The oldies song ‘365 Blessings’ emanated from it.
“Every day, in my heart~”
“Missing you one thousand, four hundred and forty times~”
A vein twitched violently at Xie Yu’s temple. He was so stunned by this completely tasteless gift, he wasn’t sure what to say.
He couldn’t decide whether to kick He Zhao off the rooftop or jump off himself.
“Ge.” Xie Yu held up the crystal lamp, then said very slowly, “I… thank you very much.”
Wan Da sat back down in a daze, murmuring, “He’s scary. He spent so much time picking and he picked this? Is this the ‘straight man’s aesthetic sense’ of legend?”
Ding Lianghua complained quietly, “…An idiot’s aesthetic sense?”
He Zhao completely lacked self-awareness.
It was not very convenient to buy gifts while living at school. He had skipped class to go out several times, but there weren’t many interesting things in the shops around school. Finally, he had had no recourse but to look online.
When he saw the crystal lamp, he felt that it had touched something in his heart.
The shop’s website had a line of text: This time, he’ll really be touched! He’ll really cry!
Xie Yu kind of did want to cry.
But definitely not the sort of tears He Zhao was thinking of.
“Thank you very much.” Xie Yu decided to bring forth his last shred of patience. “Your taste… is very special.”
He Zhao smiled. “As long as you like it.”
Wan Da buried his face in his hands. He couldn’t bear to look at this gift-giving scene.
At the end of all the drinking, everyone had forgotten that they still had to go to class tomorrow.
Wan Da knew he couldn’t hold his liquor and stopped drinking while he still could think clearly.
Ding Lianghua, on the other hand, who usually was quiet and did not make a sound, talked more than anyone after he had drunk some. He stood up and ran to the wall, yelling and screaming, and no one could make him go anywhere no matter how hard they pulled.
“Damn, he’s ferocious.” Wan Da had caught hold of him with much difficulty. He pushed open the door, walking downstairs with one arm around Ding Lianghua’s shoulders. “I’ll take him back downstairs first—”
In twos and threes, nearly everyone had left.
He Zhao stood up, bent down, and stuffed the things they had left behind on the rooftop into the trash bag.
Xie Yu watched him busy himself, then looked down again at the empty beer cans by his foot. He tried to count the number of cans he had drunk, but his head was a little light and he counted for a long time but didn’t come up with a number.
He Zhao cleaned up the rooftop. When he left, he pulled a new lock out of his pocket.
Xie Yu took two steps, bracing himself against the wall, then looked back at him. He Zhao had not only forced the lock, he had remembered to buy a new one to lock the door back up. “You’re very thoughtful.”
He Zhao said, “For the safety of the other students.”
It was 1 a.m. and everyone had returned to their dorm rooms. He Zhao opened his door and was about to say, ‘Good night,’ but when he turned around his little friend ran straight into his arms. “Where are you going?”
Xie Yu hadn’t restrained himself tonight and had drunk seven or eight cans of beer. He had not felt anything at the time, but after a while, he felt the alcohol set in.
He felt a little warm.
He blinked, then realized that he had followed this person all the way to his dorm room door before he knew it.
Xie Yu pressed his temple and was about to say, ‘Wrong room,’ but the next second, He Zhao caught hold of his wrist and pulled him in.
Drunk Xie Yu looked unusually cute. His icy gaze had softened and when he looked at He Zhao his gaze seemed clouded over.
“Close your eyes.” Under Xie Yu’s eyes, He Zhao nearly couldn’t restrain himself. “Be good and close your eyes.”
Xie Yu closed his eyes, back against the door.
He Zhao kissed downward, starting from Xie Yu’s eyes. He Zhao still had Xie Yu’s wrist in his hand and his grip was so tight it hurt. Their breathing gradually intermingled, passionate and tangled, until Xie Yu yanked on his wrist and called He Zhao in a hoarse voice, “…Gege.”
He Zhao cursed softly. He steadied himself, then let go of Xie Yu’s wrist, thinking Xie Yu would open the door and go out.
But Xie Yu did not open the door. He slowly pulled the zipper of his uniform jacket downward.
When Wan Da had knocked on his door and asked to walk around the dorm building, he had not thought much of it and thrown on a jacket. Now that he had taken it off, he only wore the thin T-shirt he had worn to bed.
Xie Yu tossed the jacket on the ground, then moved closer, caught He Zhao by the collar, and pushed him onto the bed.
Xie Yu was burning all over, but his mind was surprisingly clear. He opened his mouth and said, “Do you want to do it?”
“Don’t play games. You’ve drunk too much.”
“I’m not drunk.”
As Xie Yu spoke, he sat astride He Zhao’s lap and rocked backwards, intentionally or not. He said again, “Do you want to do it, ge?”
The dorm room was dark.
By the light from the window, one could faintly see the messy covers on the bed, half fallen to the floor.
He Zhao’s hands were tight around Xie Yu’s waist.
Xie Yu’s bare back was taut and formed an elegant curve. Above that was the jut of his shoulder blades. He was looking down, half his face buried in the pillow, and only when he felt pain did he let out a soft moan.
Suppressed, and like he was asking for mercy.
“Fuck.” Xie Yu gripped the bedsheets, the tips of his fingers growing white, and it was a long time before he could make a complete sentence. “…Go goddamned slower.”
He Zhao answered hoarsely, “Fuck.”
Their movements were forceful and the bed creaked beneath them.
Inexperienced and hurried.
They clashed and tangled with each other, over and over.