It is said that the capital only has summer and winter, and the nearby Xuncheng is the same.
Yu Xinqiao remembered that he was still wearing a cotton coat yesterday, but today it was so hot that he wished he could wear short sleeves.
Turning his head to the northwest corner of the classroom, oh boy, Huanhuan had already changed into the summer school uniform. He didn’t even tell me when I saw him playing basketball yesterday.
Speaking of playing basketball yesterday… Yu Xinqiao patted the shoulder of the front-row student, Liang Yi, and asked, “Will there be a basketball game during the spring sports meet?”
Liang Yi turned his head and said, “There will be a basketball game, but it will be held separately from the spring sports meet. The top-ranked team in the school can represent the school and compete in the city.”
He Tangyue’s ears perked up, and she immediately brought an application form, saying, “Our class is still lacking two people. Do you want to participate?”
Yu Xinqiao waved his hand and said, “I’ll pass. I haven’t seriously played basketball since I started learning the piano.”
As he spoke, he glanced at the application form, and coincidentally, it was the last few boys in the back row of the class.
The only one missing was Xu Yanhuan.
Liang Yi also leaned over to take a look and asked, “Xu Ge didn’t sign up?”
Since Yu Xinqiao started pursuing him, they started using respectful terms for Xu Yanhuan.
“No, I haven’t seen him play since we entered high school,” He Tangyue pouted. “I remember he was pretty good at basketball in middle school.”
“He’s still good now,” Yu Xinqiao said.
“Then why don’t you help me persuade him to sign up?” He Tangyue suggested.
“Aren’t you the literary committee member?”
“Our class needs people, and I’m also doubling as the sports committee member.”
Yu Xinqiao took the application form and thought it was actually a good topic.
But he couldn’t say it outright, “I’ll give it a try.”
In addition to the sports meet, the mid-term exams were also approaching.
The atmosphere in the class changed as a result. There was less chatting and fooling around during breaks, and more students with a look of bitterness and deep resentment holding their exercise books.
Yu Xinqiao hadn’t managed to catch Xu Yanhuan on the basketball court for three consecutive days. That evening, he walked back and forth between the playground and the classroom, carrying a basketball net bag, until he finally found Xu Yanhuan near the flower bed near the cafeteria.
“What are you doing here?” Yu Xinqiao walked over and asked, “Aren’t you playing basketball or working today?”
Xu Yanhuan had gotten used to his harassment and didn’t even raise his head while holding his book.
Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be an English workbook. Yu Xinqiao clicked his tongue in surprise and said, “I thought you study gods didn’t need to study.”
Xu Yanhuan still ignored him, flipping through the pages, fixating on a cloze passage circled in red pen, without moving for a long time.
Yu Xinqiao sat down beside him and leaned over to take a look. “Choose option C.”
After getting the answer, Xu Yanhuan still stared at that question, as if he was in a daze.
Yu Xinqiao understood that English was his weak subject. Xu Yanhuan didn’t score well on the English quiz last week, and the teacher even called him out during class, asking how tired he must be since he could fall asleep during English lessons.
This was a coincidence. Yu Xinqiao slapped his thigh, thinking that his English grades were pretty good.
With a flash of inspiration, Yu Xinqiao cleared his throat and spoke with a hint of sophistication, “Would you like to know why option C is the correct answer?”
Finally, Xu Yanhuan was willing to raise his head and gave Yu Xinqiao a cold glance, as if saying, “Just spit it out if you have something to say.”
Seeing that the fish had taken the bait, Yu Xinqiao pulled out the basketball tournament registration form from his backpack. “If you sign up, I’ll tell you.”
Two minutes later, Yu Xinqiao had his backpack in one hand, a basketball in the other, and the registration form tucked under his arm. He hurriedly followed Xu Yanhuan’s pace.
“You’re so good at basketball, don’t you want to show off your skills in front of your classmates? Even if you don’t want to, I heard there will be basketballs given as prizes for winning the competition. If you have your own basketball, you won’t have to keep borrowing from the equipment room, or I can give you this basketball. After all, I can’t play… Could you slow down a bit, Xu Yanhuan? Classmate Xu?”
Classmate Xu, took even bigger strides.
Gasping for breath, Yu Xinqiao attempted to negotiate with him, “How about this: I’ll teach you English, and you teach me basketball. Don’t judge me by how I don’t pay attention in class; my English is really good. In the last English quiz, I scored 99, and the deduction was because I filled in the wrong answer on the answer sheet. I should have had a perfect score.”
Not sure if he was outclassed, Xu Yanhuan started running, almost sprinting.
“Well then, I’ll teach you English, and you don’t have to teach me basketball. How about that?” Yu Xinqiao was already running and said in frustration, “Xu Yanhuan, Classmate Xu , Xu ge, I—”
Suddenly, Xu Yanhuan stopped, catching Yu Xinqiao off guard, and he ran forward for several meters due to inertia.
Hearing Xu Yanhuan ask, “What do you want,” Yu Xinqiao almost thought he had misheard.
“You aren’t ignoring me?” He couldn’t free his hand to rub his ear and stood there panting, “It-it’s not an illusion?”
During these days of chasing Xu Yanhuan, Yu Xinqiao had grown accustomed to talking to himself. He had even developed a new skill: automatically imagining Xu Yanhuan’s reactions when he didn’t get a response.
For example, right now, as he looked at Xu Yanhuan’s expressionless face, a block of ice with furrowed brows and a speech bubble extending from it appeared in his head—saying, “Say what you want quickly, don’t waste time.”
Quickly setting down his backpack and basketball, Yu Xinqiao held up the registration form with both hands. “I want you to sign up for the competition.”
Xu Yanhuan lowered his eyes and glanced at the contents of the paper but remained silent.
The block of ice in Yu Xinqiao’s head began to recede, emitting a chill throughout his body, and his face displayed resistance.
Seizing the opportunity, Yu Xinqiao presented a second possibility. “How about this, you date me? Regardless of which option you choose, it won’t be disadvantageous for you!”
Xu Yanhuan didn’t choose either.
Originally, he intended to reject Yu Xinqiao in a targeted manner, for example, asking what the other person wanted, knowing that he couldn’t fulfill any request, or asking what he found attractive about him so he could change it.
Little did he know that this person named Yu Xinqiao didn’t play by the rules. Every time Xu Yanhuan threw a question, Yu Xinqiao would throw one back, and they were all multiple-choice questions, making one instinctively want to choose an option. He couldn’t just submit a blank answer sheet.
Now, Yu Xinqiao used his old trick again. During the lunch break, he ran up to Xu Yanhuan’s desk, crossed his arms and pressed them against the back of the chair, shaking his chin back and forth. Xu Yanhuan’s desk also shook, forcing him to speak with his eyes—what do you want now?
Yu Xinqiao smiled triumphantly, his eyes forming two crescent moons. “I looked at your English test paper, and your foundation is pretty good. How about we review some vocabulary today?”
During the afternoon self-study class, Yu Xinqiao, contrary to his usual behavior, didn’t sleep or randomly tap the desk like piano keys. Instead, he earnestly studied an English lesson plan.
Liang Yi turned his head three times and couldn’t bear it anymore. He nudged Yu Xinqiao’s desk with his elbow. “Hey, didn’t he not agree yet? Why are you so eager to be his teacher?”
Yu Xinqiao didn’t have time to bother with him. “It’ll come in handy eventually.”
“Did you read the novel I recommended to you last week?”
“I did, I did. I read until the male protagonist infiltrated the Mountain God’s Temple. It was so thrilling.”
Liang Yi was furious. “I recommended to you an Eastern Xuanhuan novel, not Shui Hu Zhuan!”
*xuanhuan(玄幻) – A subgenre of Chinese fantasy fiction that fuses Easter and Western elements.
*”水浒传” (Shui Hu Zhuan) is a classical Chinese novel written by Shi Nai’an during the Ming Dynasty. It is also known as “Water Margin”, “Outlaws of the Marsh” or “All Men Are Brothers” in English translations. It is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, along with “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” “Journey to the West,” and “Dream of the Red Chamber.”
Due to Yu Xinqiao being too absorbed in pursuing someone, he neglected his good friend’s feelings. Liang Yi decided to break off their friendship for a day.
But less than 24 hours later, unable to hold back, Liang Yi placed a past English test paper on Yu Xinqiao’s desk after school. “I’ll give you a chance to reconcile our friendship.”
Yu Xinqiao couldn’t hide his smile from the corner of his mouth. “Tell me, which question don’t you know?”
Liang Yi, fearing the teacher and exams more than anything else, always sought salvation at the last minute.
After today’s momentary act of desperation, he threw down his pen and stretched lazily. “*In this world, only brothers are truly good.”
*The phrase “世上只有兄弟好” (shì shàng zhǐ yǒu xiōng dì hǎo) is a Chinese saying that translates to “In this world, only brothers are truly good.” It expresses the deep bond and loyalty between close male friends or brothers. It implies that true friendship is invaluable and surpasses other relationships.
Yu Xinqiao glanced at the time, grabbed the paper, pen, and eraser on the desk, and hastily stuffed them into his backpack. He said, “Bro, I’m going ahead to pursue your sister-in-law.”
Liang Yi, feeling tired, lazily waved at him and watched his small figure walk to the classroom door. He questioned, “Are you really the pursuer? You look more like the pursued to me.”
On his way to the school gate, Yu Xinqiao angrily sent a WeChat message to He Tangyue: “Stop filling Xiao Yi’s head with all sorts of nonsense.🔪”
He Tangyue, who was probably already home by now, replied quickly: “He’s just eager for knowledge~🤭”
After circling the main gate and not seeing anyone, Yu Xinqiao headed towards the cafeteria.
As he casually chatted with He Tangyue, he pondered for the 999th time why Xu Yanhuan couldn’t just buy a phone. Even the cheapest old-age phone can make calls and send messages. Was he deliberately waiting for someone to write him a love letter by hand?
After the conversation, Yu Xinqiao put his phone in his pocket. As he raised his head, he saw a few burly men standing outside the seldom-used back door of the cafeteria.
And there was a familiar figure wearing summer school uniform and sneakers, the typical attire of 99.9% of male students on campus, but this person exuded the aura of a protagonist from a campus literature novel.
As he got closer, Yu Xinqiao recognized one of the burly men as the rough-voiced uncle he had encountered at the barbecue stall that day. At this moment, the uncle had a cigarette in his mouth, revealing his muscular arms. He pushed with force, causing the campus literature protagonist to take a step back and almost lose his balance.
Xu Yanhuan had already noticed Yu Xinqiao walking in their direction. He deliberately positioned himself to block the man’s line of sight.
Since the last time they involved unrelated people, they couldn’t afford to attract attention at the school gate. Xu Yanhuan didn’t mind getting into more trouble himself, but thinking of his mother practically begging the headmaster in the administration office to give him a lighter punishment, his eyes darkened as he prepared himself to be beaten.
Today, the rough-voiced uncle was employing a conciliatory approach. He pushed Xu Yanhuan and then grabbed his collar, pulling him back. He said, “Uncle doesn’t want to make things difficult for you, and I don’t want to come to your school. But who asked your family to move again?”
Xu Yanhuan was already tall, so being pulled like this made everyone seem condescending. This annoyed the uncle a bit, so he let go of him and continued, “There’s a head for every unjust act. At the very least, let me have some direction. Isn’t that right?”
Xu Yanhuan didn’t respond, but he also showed no intention of resisting. This brought a sense of satisfaction to the uncle, who had received three stitches on his head last time. He continued his conciliatory approach, “Xu Zhen isn’t worth a damn. With a father like that, and a husband like that, why do you and your mother have to desperately protect him?”
“I’m not protecting him,” Xu Yanhuan finally spoke, “I truly don’t know where he is.”
No matter how he asked, the answers were always the same. The uncle grew impatient, “I don’t believe he hasn’t contacted you and your mother!”
Xu Yanhuan fell silent again, as if he had said everything he needed to and whether the uncle believed it or not was up to him.
This made the uncle angry, “Then you’ll have to repay Xu Zhen’s debt. They say a son should repay his father’s debt. If I can’t find him in the future, I’ll come to you!”
“Children who have not inherited their parents’ legacy shall bear their parents’ debts voluntarily.” Xu Yanhuan calmly stated, adding an annotation, “According to the ‘Inheritance Law of the People’s Republic of China’.”
The uncle was completely infuriated by his tough remarks and immediately slapped him in the face, “What? You think you can take me to court?”
As he raised his fist, preparing to use violence, he suddenly heard a rustling sound from above.
Xu Yanhuan and the uncle, along with his subordinates, looked up together and saw a half head hanging from the damaged wall, as if it couldn’t go any higher. It said, “Xu Ge, are you still here? Run quickly! Principal Zhu is coming this way! Don’t forget to pick up the cigarette butt!”
Five minutes later, after the commotion subsided, Yu Xinqiao, who was clinging to the wall, trembled and climbed down with the support of Xu Yanhuan. Before leaving, he squeezed Xu Yanhuan’s hand and thought, “It feels strangely warm.”
This short performance scared Yu Xinqiao, who never violated school rules except for sleeping in class, causing him to break out in a cold sweat.
Fortunately, the ending was satisfactory, and the villain was successfully scared away. Yu Xinqiao regained his confidence as his feet touched the ground. He patted off the dust from his body and looked at Xu Yanhuan, realizing that he had turned into a figure embedded in the twilight, no longer emitting a chilling aura.
“No need to thank me, I just happened to pass by,” Yu Xinqiao preemptively said. “If you must thank me, why not consider dating me—”
“Thank you,” Xu Yanhuan timely interrupted his words.
Failing to seize the opportunity, Yu Xinqiao felt disappointed and grumbled, “Just a thank you, and that’s it…”
The two walked home along the same route, and as they approached the end, Yu Xinqiao suddenly realized that Xu Yanhuan was walking very slowly today, a pace that even he could easily catch up with.
He couldn’t help but worry and glanced down, silently paying attention to Xu Yanhuan’s legs.
Although there was no sound, his gaze was intense. Xu Yanhuan couldn’t help but follow his gaze and noticed a stain on his school trousers.
He uncomfortably patted it off, and as he stood up straight, a hand holding an apple appeared in his field of vision.
“One apple a day keeps illness away,” the voice of the young man was as clear as the lake under the warm sun. Yu Xinqiao said, “Next time, don’t let them catch you again.”
In the season of blooming grass and singing birds, the nights grew darker.
Walking through the uneven and narrow alleys, stepping over the foul-smelling rainwater puddles, Xu Yanhuan ascended the outdoor staircase of the dilapidated apartment building.
The corridor, which couldn’t be considered spacious, was filled with clutter on both sides, requiring multiple twists and turns to avoid the clothes hanging in the hallway. Xu Yanhuan stopped at the entrance of a household where green onions were planted in a clay pot. As he felt for his keys, he opened the seemingly ineffective anti-theft iron door.
With a creak, the door opened, and a slender middle-aged woman poked her head out. Upon seeing Xu Yanhuan, she smiled and said, “You’re back.”
Entering the house and closing the door, his mother Bai Wei looked out the window once again and asked, “You didn’t let those people follow you, did you?”
The house was quite messy, with various daily necessities piled everywhere. Xu Yanhuan found a spot to put his backpack that wouldn’t be in the way and concealed the incident of being blocked at the school gate. He said, “No.”
“Then come back earlier from now on, don’t hide at school. It’s not good if your headmaster sees you,” Bai Wei said, feeling slightly relieved. She reminded, “Don’t go to work for the time being either. If those people start tracking you and find their way here…”
Xu Yanhuan responded with a simple “En.”
Put the apple on the table, open the workbook, and a blue envelope falls out of it.
It was stuffed into his book by Yu Xinqiao during his nap, after he refused to recite vocabulary.
At that time, Yu Xinqiao seemed to say that this envelope was different from the previous one and that he would regret it if he didn’t read it.
Almost involuntarily, Xu Yanhuan took out a sheet of graph paper from the envelope and unfolded it.
Unlike conventional love letters, this letter had no fancy borders, no teeth-rotting poetry. The format wasn’t even standard, with no self-introduction at the beginning and no signature or date at the end.
There were only two lines of words—
Reason number three to suggest dating Yu Xinqiao, Yu Xinqiao’s outstandingly good English grades , and Xu Yanhuan’s awesome basketball skills. The two of them can form a perfect complementary relationship.
Since this is reason number three, there must be one and two.
Dinner was steamed buns and porridge. There wasn’t much leftover pickled vegetables at home. Bai Wei rummaged through a pile of clutter and found a small pickling jar, then pulled out a stack of envelopes from underneath and turned around to ask, “Are these still useful?”
Xu Yanhuan took them, just about to throw them into a cardboard box for selling as scrap, but caught a glimpse of a familiar light blue color inside.
On a rare night without work, Xu Yanhuan caught up on the courses he had fallen behind on and went through the mistakes again.
Busy until late at night, only one English exam left. Looking at the blank spaces circled in the workbook, a frown gradually formed on Xu Yanhuan’s forehead.
It seemed like he should go to bed early and pay attention in class during the day. After all, no matter how much time he spent after class, he couldn’t catch up with the efficiency of the classroom.
Thinking like this, Xu Yanhuan tidied up the test paper and stationery. Just as his hand reached for the desk lamp switch, he noticed that pile of envelopes he had thrown aside.
Just as he picked up the blue one among them, Bai Wei, who was up to use the restroom, told him to go to bed early. Xu Yanhuan responded and got up, pushing the door open to leave.
He was accustomed to blowing cold air for a while before going to sleep. Usually, he would do it on his way home from work, but today was a rare occasion when he was at home.
It couldn’t really be called home since it was a rented house. By this time next month, he might be moving again.
Once outside, he realized he was holding an envelope in his hand. He lowered his head and glanced at it for a few seconds before using his other hand to open it and pull out the thin piece of paper inside.
There were only a few sparse lines of words, not even qualifying as bedtime reading material.
Still, Xu Yanhuan read it. Under the dim light of a street lamp, on the edge of an old-smelling residential building in the slightly cool early summer night.
The suggestion for Xu Yanhuan and Yu Xinqiao to date.
Reason number one: Yu Xinqiao has a good image and excellent temperament, consistently ranking in the top three on the Capital International School’s “Campus Hunk List” (Asia Division). Dating him would greatly enhance your social status.
Reason number two: Yu Xinqiao is a devoted and loyal good boy. If you enter a relationship with him, you will be his first love, and he will remember you for a lifetime.