First Published on Chaleuria
03 – Su Mu, The Bastard
When Yao Yuan, dressed in black casual clothes, and Su Mu, dressed in a long beige trench coat, appeared together on the F University campus, all the girls could not tear their eyes away, and some even screamed shrilly. The wild, unrestrained Yao Yuan and the noble, elegant Su Mu—they were two extremes yet the sight of them together seemed unusually harmonious. It made all the girls regret not bringing a camera with them when they left home.
Yao Yuan instinctively touched the hair at his forehead; he could not understand how he had followed this annoying person all the way here. When he realized that this news would quickly reach the ears of his brothers, he felt an unnameable frustration. He didn’t bother paying any attention to Su Mu and instead headed straight for the media department’s classroom building.
When Yao Yuan heard the person he had only met yesterday address him so familiarly, he shuddered and stopped walking.
Su Mu quickly took two more steps to stand in front of Yao Yuan, reached out, and smoothed the faint wrinkles on his clothes.
Yao Yuan frowned, certain he could hear sharp intakes of breath all around. He was about to reach out and swat away the guy doing strange things but Su Mu acted first. He leaned close to Yao Yuan’s ear and said, in a voice so low only the two of them could hear: “What do you think they’ll think of us?”
“You…” Yao Yuan was incensed beyond belief. Of course he understood Su Mu’s underhanded intentions. The word ‘homosexual’ was not foreign to the university campus. In the eyes of those girls from just now, who wanted nothing more than to see chaos on the school grounds, the sight from just now would lead their minds to this word. Without a second thought, he sent a fist flying toward Su Mu’s stomach.
Su Mu dodged the punch and took the chance to take several steps back, but his voice still reached the ears of the crowd. “Yuan, this is a penalty, because you didn’t massage me properly yesterday. Remember, I’ll come find you after afternoon class.”
“Bastard.” Yao Yuan could only land his fist on the innocent willow tree next to him. He swore that in the future he would pay Yao Yuan back in full.
“They’re… so compatible!”
When Yao Yuan heard this, he punched the tree again and glared viciously at the besotted-looking girl. Inwardly, he had already cursed the culprit a hundred, a thousand times over.
“Yeah! But why does Yuan-ge seem like the one on the bottom?” another girl murmured in confusion.
“That’s right, Yuan-ge…”
This was exactly the outcome Su Mu wanted. Yao Yuan was utterly speechless. Now he was caught between a rock and a hard place: if he did not explain himself, that would be tacit admission that he was on the bottom, and if he explained himself, that would be admitting that they did have an unusual relationship. In frustration, he ruffled his hair and decided to ignore the nosy girls.
Yao Yuan slowly strolled into the classroom and, as usual, found a corner and sat down. He still drew countless gazes, but the gazes seemed different from the usual gazes. Yao Yuan didn’t bother trying to find out why. Instead, he opened his books and properly listened to the lecture. This was what his friends found the hardest to understand. In their minds, their chief should have the image of a chief, and since when did chiefs not skip class and score at the top of their year? But these were Yao Yuan’s principles. He would not let his studies, which had been bought with his sister’s future, go to waste. In reality, he had never thought of himself as a chief of any sort. It was only that when he saw people being bullied, he could not help but lend a helping hand.
Naturally, Yao Yuan didn’t take Su Mu’s words seriously. But today, many different people all glanced at him with the same look in their eyes, reminding him every second that in his first skirmish with that bastard, he had been completely defeated. After afternoon class, he went straight to the courtyard. Yesterday, Zhang Chen had told him about a soccer match that afternoon.
When he got to the courtyard, the audience stands were already full, and more than 70 percent of attendees were women. Of course, Yao Yuan didn’t think they were all there to see him; after all, soccer was not his strong suit If the Media department managed to get into the final round, it would not be because of him. He glanced around and did not see the person he was looking for, but he did see the bastard he had been inwardly cursing all day. When their eyes met, Yao Yuan was sure he could see the satisfaction in Su Mu’s eyes. He immediately shot back a challenging glare, then asked Zhang Chen who stood next to him, “Where is Jiang Luo?”
“Maybe Professor Ji kept him after class.”
Jiang Luo was a 3rd-year graduate student in the Media department who played a beautiful game of soccer. Yao Yuan thought his skills were on the level of professional players. The two had met, not on the soccer field, but in a brawl. At the time, Yao Yuan had witnessed for the first time what was meant by “a book cannot be judged by his cover”: his beautiful senior, who had charming phoenix eyes and long, drifting hair, was a brutal character.
“Without him, how can we beat the P.E. department?!” Zhang Chen complained, seeing that the referee was about to announce the start of the match.
“Let’s do our best to hold the line. I think he’ll come.”
The match went as anticipated. Without Jiang Luo, the Media department wasn’t a match for the P.E. department at all, but Yao Yuan and his teammates put up a bitter fight and managed to endure until Jiang Luo belatedly arrived. The Media department had the last laugh, and Yao Yuan and the others ecstatically threw Jiang Luo high into the air.
The one to hand them the winner’s trophy was the Hai Tian Soccer League coach, Su Qianping, who had brought the team to first place in the league championships for three years in a row. Zhang Chen and the others were unbelievably thrilled, but Yao Yuan noticed that Jiang Luo had vanished after the match ended. Jiang Luo had seemed out of sorts today and Yao Yuan was worried, so after leaving the stage he searched the crowd for the thin figure.
“Don’t look for him. Everyone has a side they don’t want others to see.” At some point Su Mu showed up in front of him and expressed his thoughts with a single sentence.
“As if you understand him so well!” Yao Yuan was infuriated at the sight of him.
“No less than you do, at least. He’s accustomed to hiding himself,” Su Mu sighed.
Yao Yuan was speechless, because Jiang Luo gave him the same impression. They were as close as brothers and had gotten injured for each other. They should have been able to talk about anything. And Jiang Luo often quietly listened to all the others’ complaints and helped them solve many problems, yet never spoke about himself. The Jiang Luo they knew always presented an image of smiling confidence, but Yao Yuan knew that was not the real him. At least, not completely.
“Like I said, there are things he doesn’t want others to know, too.”
“That’s true.” Yao Yuan put away his own worries. He believed that no matter what happened, someone like Jiang Luo would be able to solve it easily. But he glanced at Su Mu and asked, “Why are you here?”
“I said I’d look for you after class, and I knew you wouldn’t quietly wait there for me, so I came to catch you here,” Su Mu said matter-of-factly.
“You’re looking for me?” Yao Yuan froze a moment, then exploded. “Haven’t you had enough?!”
“Not yet,” Su Mu replied with a smile.
“You…” Yao Yuan threw a swift punch but Su Mu dodged nimbly. He was about to strike again when his phone rang and he had to stop to take the call. He barked, “What is it?”
“Boss!” Zhang Chen’s voice was anxious. “Come quickly. We’re getting beaten up by those bastards from the P.E. department!”
“Where?” Yao Yuan immediately frowned. Everyone in the P.E. department was physically strong, and without him and Jiang Luo, Zhang Chen and the others were certainly not their match. And then there was the bastard, Hu Lin…
“Behind the stadium!”
“Don’t do anything. I’ll be right over.” Yao Yuan hung up, put aside the conflict with Su Mu, and ran for it.
“Don’t be rash. Tell security.” Su Mu caught hold of him; he had heard the voice over the phone.
“Security? The biggest bastard in the P.E. department is Vice Principal Hu’s son!” Yao Yuan viciously wrenched free of Su Mu’s grasp. He had seen more than his share of such things: people with power and authority would easily get off scot-free no matter how big a mistake they made, and ordinary students would be the ones to suffer. So he had to get there quickly and stop Zhang Chen and the others from fighting, or the consequences would not bear thinking about.
Vice Principal Hu? The avaricious, power-hungry, narrow-minded villain? Su Mu froze for a second, suddenly realizing that Yao Yuan was not as reckless as he seemed to be. Then Su Mu laughed and followed him—how would he settle this matter? Would he endure the insult or let his friends offend the vice principal? Su Mu’s eyes lit with an assessing light. Yao Yuan, don’t disappoint me.