First Published on Chaleuria
102 – Come and deal with me instead?
Before the word ‘run’ left He Zhao’s mouth, he had already grabbed Xie Yu’s wrist and dashed out of the classroom.
Class 3 swarmed out after them.
Xie Yu ran down the stairs, taking two steps at a time and jumping down the last few steps onto the landing. Next class period was gym, anyway, so after leaving the classroom building they ran straight for the courtyard.
Xue Xisheng couldn’t outrun them and after taking two steps he threw the broom. It landed next to He Zhao’s foot.
“How aggressive.” He Zhao nearly tripped. “Is he really the study rep I know?”
It was an impressive sight, majestic and prominent, so shocking that even the people who had been making a scene in the corridor now had the self-awareness to return to their respective classes.
The two infamous school tyrants were hounded by their classmates from the fourth floor all the way to the ground floor. By the looks of it, they were going to switch venues to the courtyard and continue the beating. It was pretty much a live brawl.
The other classes simply didn’t dare to make a sound. Only when the main army had gone downstairs did they all lean over the railings to peer down at the ground floor. They exclaimed in unison, “How exciting. They’re so formidable.”
“Stay right there! Don’t run!”
“Brothers, go around and cut them off at the track!”
“Qing-ge, you take the girls and ambush them from the left!”
After these strange battle formations were decided, Xue Xisheng yelled across the field, anger rising sharply, “You purposely dragged the class average down—you’re too much! You have no team pride at all!”
This was the first time in Xie Yu’s life being chased multiple rounds around the quad. No matter where he ran, people surrounded him and he felt both perplexed and pathetic.
As he ran, he nudged the person beside him with his forearm. “Do we keep running?”
Over the course of several rounds, Class 3 changed their battle tactics several times. Like zombies in the game Dead Rising, they threw themselves at the two from all directions.
He Zhao was scared of this lot, too. He took a breath and stopped. “Let’s stop running then. We could run all class period and not get away.”
Soon after they stopped, Liu Cunhao pounced on Xie Yu from behind. Xie Yu was thrown off balance by the tackle and fell forward onto He Zhao.
He Zhao didn’t have time to do anything other than catch hold of Xie Yu’s waist.
The next moment, he lost his balance too.
“Brothers,” Liu Cunhao yelled, having caught hold of Xie Yu, “We got them—”
Luo Wenqiang swiftly ran over from the other side of the track. As he ran, he majestically took off his jacket and tossed it into the grass, then leaped to firmly land sprawled on Liu Cunhao. “If you don’t explain yourselves, neither of you better even think of running away.”
One by one, the guys piled firmly on top of them like stacking Luohan¹ and kept them firmly pressed to the track.
It was very noisy by Xie Yu’s ear.
Xie Yu looked down and saw only his boyfriend’s Adam’s apple. He glanced further down and saw He Zhao’s open uniform collar.
He Zhao was about to say, ‘That’s enough, don’t pile on any more,’ but before he could get the words out he met Xie Yu’s eyes.
They were too close.
Both caught unaware, they stared at each other for several seconds, stunned.
Liu Cunhao had only intended to pin down the class’s two big bros. When Luo Wenqiang, the heavyweight, pounced, he too was squashed till he couldn’t breathe. “Gym rep, how much do you weigh? Couldn’t it have been someone else?”
Luo Wenqiang was aggrieved. “Hao-zi, you don’t want me?”
Xie Yu and He Zhao looked at each other for a moment. Who knew which of them started laughing first, but the laughter was contagious, passing between them through the vibration of their chests.
Xie Yu, still laughing, averted his eyes, and propped himself up on his arms on the rubber track surface. Without looking back, he said to the people on top of his back, “Are you sick? Get off.”
Several bright whistle sounds cut short the ‘Stacking Luohan’ activity.
The gym teacher walked out of the office holding a stopwatch. “That pile over there—yes, that’s you all—get in a line. Don’t all crowd.”
Hearing this, Luo Wenqiang and the others hurriedly stood up.
Xie Yu felt the weight on his body lift and was about to get off He Zhao, but before he could lever himself up He Zhao called him. “Xie Yu.”
He Zhao said nothing.
He Zhao lifted his upper body. With this movement, his uniform jacket slid downward slightly, making his clothing look mussed. His lips lightly grazed the side of Xie Yu’s face before landing lightly at the base of Xie Yu’s ear.
It was soundless, but it tickled.
By now several classes had arrived at the courtyard and there were also a few groups who hadn’t left from the last class period.
He Zhao leaned backward. While no one was looking, he pulled further apart and smiled as he said, “Kiss me.”
Once everyone had fallen in line, the gym teacher waved the stopwatch in his hand and said, “We’ll try out long distance today. I was watching you from the window and saw you already did a few laps to warm up. Not bad. You’re very enthusiastic. So let’s start now. Boys, follow me first.”
They had already expended a lot of energy in the ten minutes between classes so when the gym teacher yelled, “Ready—run!” everybody flat out couldn’t muster the energy. They slowly jogged forward and the runtime they scored was right at the passing mark.
After running 2 and a half laps, everyone else collapsed on the floor aside from the two big bros who had superhuman stamina.
The gym teacher finished recording the times, then let them remain in their state of group paralysis and went over to the girls’ group to time the 800m. “Girls, prepare.”
Xie Yu bent at the waist, hands on his knees, and breathed deeply.
He Zhao sat to the side of the track and someone jostled him from behind.
“What’s the matter with you two?” Wan Da retracted his hand, but two seconds after sitting up he nearly lost his balance and lay back down. He asked the key question. “…I really want to know your secret to getting better grades.”
He Zhao motioned for him to come over.
With his last shred of strength, Wan Da nudged himself a few centimeters closer to He Zhao’s side.
“Extra-strength brain-enhancing pills. Improves memory. No matter how complicated the formulas and concepts, you need only read them once and you won’t forget them.” He Zhao’s voice dropped lower and lower as he spoke, and it really sounded true. “Look for TB shop xxx. It has good reviews and a return policy and you can even redeem 1 yuan cash back.”
Wan Da quietly made a note of the Taobao shop name. “Is that true, Zhao-ge?”
He Zhao said, “You believed that?”
Wan Da: “……”
Xie Yu was the closest and he thought to himself that He Zhao’s skill at bullshitting with his eyes closed had improved by leaps and bounds again.
After running another two laps, Liu Cunhao and the others were tired, but they were also now unexpectedly clearheaded.
This issue was difficult to ask about. And regardless of what their real reasons were, Class 3 shouldn’t use them as idle entertainment. Besides, having made a scene just now, Class 3 had more or less vented their feelings.
Liu Cunhao slapped the back of Wan Da’s head and tried to change the subject. “Do you think Class 4 should kneel down and call us father?”
“I nearly forgot.” Luo Wenqiang tilted his head back and drank water, then said, “When class lets out later, I’m going to stand outside Class 4 and walk around. Give them a hint. Anyone want to go with me?”
Go, my foot. Xie Yu didn’t quite want to imagine what ‘standing around outside Class 4’ would look like.
This was idiotic.
Xie Yu said, “Don’t look at me. I’m not going.”
Xie Yu and He Zhao had been Class 3’s pillars in terms of good looks before, and now they were the class’s pillars of grades. Even though they didn’t want to go, Class 3 dragged them to Class 4’s entrance and walked around a few times.
“Think about how you treated us,” Luo Wenqiang said as he walked. “You have the cheek not to go?”
“Of course we do.”
Liang Hui had been trying to digest this matter since noon and still couldn’t. He couldn’t concentrate at all in class and all he could think of was the heaven-defying ‘744.’
The next class period, he turned and saw Class 3 all standing in a line in the corridor, looking in through the window at Class 4.
Everyone in this line wore a colorful expression except for Xie Yu, whose face was blank.
All of them looked down at Class 4 with impossible pride and arrogance.
Especially Class 3’s class rep. He could have been looking at Liang Hui with his nostrils.
Since noon, when grades were released, till school let out in the evening, the school forum’s hottest and most popular thread was no longer a certain two big bros’ CP thread, but the two heaven-defying grade sheets.
All kinds of rumors emerged and discussion ran wild.
Evening self-study ended.
Xie Yu showered, pulled open the private bathroom door and came out. He heard his phone ring on his desk and went to look at his notifications while still towelling his hair.
In the notification list was a link from Wan Da leading to a forum thread. Several words in large font made up the headline: Shocking! The two top students may have been in an accident that injured their brains!
[Wan Da]: This is your and Zhao-ge’s image now.
[Wan Da]: They even want you two to go to the hospital to have your brains checked…
Xie Yu glanced at it. The more he read, the more ridiculous it got. There were posts about high-tech brain transfer technologies, genetic mutation, and even topic drifts such as ‘transmigration’ and ‘rebirth.’
When He Zhao knocked on the door and entered carrying a mock paper, Xie Yu had just closed out of that very imagination-rich thread.
His little friend was wearing only a thin, loose-fitting vest and his hair was still dripping wet.
He had rubbed it nearly dry and now he pulled off the towel, then ran his fingers lightly through his hair combing it backwards. As he brought the wisps of hair covering his forehead backwards, his features seemed even more defined, cold and clean-cut.
He Zhao had brought practice questions with him but he completely forgot about them after seeing Xie Yu. “What are you looking at?”
“Idiotic forum posts.”
“The one Wan Da made?” He Zhao shut the door and continued, “The novel someone wrote in there is quite good. Did you see it? It was called… Reborn as an Erzhong Top Student.”
Xie Yu said, “I read some of it.”
He Zhao put the mock paper on the desk, then sat on the side of the bed watching Xie Yu bent over picking up his clothes.
Xie Yu stuffed his discarded clothes into the laundry hamper, thought about something, then went to pick up the jacket at the foot of the bed. As he touched the piece of clothing, He Zhao caught hold of his hand.
“Leave the tidying,” He Zhao said. “Come and deal with me instead?”
 Stacking Luohan: Human pyramid formation, usually seen in gymnastics or performances. Named after the 18 Luohan, whose story was sometimes used by performing troupes in their shows which also featured human pyramids.