Lin Shiyu looked away, lowering his head and pinching his own arm, silently clicking his tongue in his heart.
“Where are you?” Mao Silu felt his way toward the voice and grumbled. “It’s so foggy in here.”
Zhong Qi said, “Across from you.”
“Here?” Mao Silu approached. “The floor is a bit slippery… Ah!”
Mao Silu exclaimed as his feet slipped on the floor, and he fell straight towards Lin Shiyu in a panic. Lin Shiyu tensed up, unable to step back in time.
An arm quickly extended from the side, blocking Mao Silu and Lin Shiyu.
Mao Silu hurriedly grabbed onto the wall, and Zhong Qi withdrew his hand, handing him the shampoo bottle. “Be careful.”
“Sorry, sorry.” Mao Silu realized it was Lin Shiyu whom he almost knocked down, and quickly apologized. “The floor is so slippery. Hey, how did you get a bruise on your stomach? It wasn’t because of me, was it? But I didn’t seem to touch anything just now…”
Lin Shiyu pushed him away and said, “It’s not because of you.”
Mao Silu was still a bit nervous as he asked, “Ah? But you have bruises. How about I finish showering and accompany you to the clinic?”
As soon as he said that, everyone in the bathhouse looked their way. Lin Shiyu felt uncomfortable and annoyed by all those gazes. When he spoke again, his tone was already very impatient, “I already said it wasn’t caused by you, how many times do I have to say it?”
Mao Silu was taken aback, and Zhong Qi glanced at him without saying anything.
Suddenly, a cold voice came from the next stall. “He was genuinely concerned about you, and you treat him like that?”
Mao Silu hurriedly said, “It’s nothing, he wasn’t mean.”
Ruan Zhikai ignored his attempt to defuse the situation. “If you’re unhappy with everything, then don’t hang out with us.”
Lin Shiyu retorted, “When did I ever hang out with you guys?”
“Then go live in another dormitory. So we don’t have to see your stinky face all the time. It’s annoying.”
Lin Shiyu’s voice contained anger. “I’ll live wherever I want, it’s none of your business!”
“Is that so?” Ruan Zhikai’s patience was wearing thin. “Are you implying that you can do whatever you want?”
Mao Silu was getting a headache. “Stop arguing, what’s the point of arguing?”
Gao Jie interjected, “Are you going to fight in the bathhouse? It’s better to shower peacefully—”
Lin Shiyu turned off the showerhead, took the basin, and left the bathhouse without saying a word.
Instead of returning directly to his dormitory after hastily changing clothes, he found an empty staircase behind a building and sat down.
The air in the mountains was fresh, and the evening breeze carried a hint of coolness. It blew against Lin Shiyu’s skin, which had been steamed by the hot air, gradually calming his restless heart.
The bruised area still throbbed a bit. That day he had gone to the hospital for an X-ray, and was informed there were indeed blood clots in his body. The doctor also prescribed medication and advised him to avoid intense exercise.
Lin Shiyu brought back the medication but didn’t mention this to his mother. The dull pain remained, reminding him of the cause and unpleasant memories. It made him feel frustrated, and made his temper far from good.
Mao Silu didn’t do anything wrong; he just failed to sense Lin Shiyu’s bad mood. Lin Shiyu was wary of everyone, and any attempt to intrude into his safety zone would make his hair stand on end, a clear signal of a threat.
Whether it was an attempt to invade his territory or simply a desire to get closer, Lin Shiyu refused to accept it. He had no intention of integrating into the group and had never wanted to make friends from the beginning. As for what he wanted, Lin Shiyu didn’t know.
The night sky resembled an abyss about to fall, with silent falling stars. Lin Shiyu looked up at the stars, revealing a quiet and unguarded side that only appeared when he was alone like this. No one came to bother him, which was the best.
Yet, he still felt some pain. Lin Shiyu touched his abdomen and couldn’t help but lift his shirt to check if the injury was improving.
A sound of shoe soles rubbing against the concrete floor echoed, and then Zhong Qi emerged from around the wall, holding a basin in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. Water droplets still clung to his neck, his hair was half-wet, and he wore an oversized short sleeve shirt and sweatpants. The sound of the game on his phone continued nonstop.
When he lifted his eyes, he met Lin Shiyu’s silent gaze.
Lin Shiyu pulled down his shirt, wearing a calm expression as if nothing had happened.
Since Zhong Qi had come over, it would be too much for him to see Lin Shiyu, then turn and leave. Instead, he walked over, placed the basin to the side, and sat down to continue playing his game.
Lin Shiyu wanted to leave, but Zhong Qi was a quiet person, not as silly and curious as Mao Silu, nor did he hold any hostility like Ruan Zhikai.
Zhong Qi didn’t like prying into other people’s affairs and showed almost indifference in this aspect.
This indifference was actually a good thing for Lin Shiyu.
After staying still for a moment, Lin Shiyu relaxed his body and continued sitting on the steps.
However, Lin Shiyu soon felt the urge to leave again. Zhong Qi didn’t say anything, but the sound of the game on his phone was truly noisy.
Lin Shiyu glanced over, and his expression became subtly perplexed. “What game are you playing?”
“Island of Fish,” Zhong Qi replied.
“Never heard of it.”
“It’s an obscure game,” Zhong Qi said as he manipulated the character on his phone, fighting against bouncing octopus-like monsters. He explained, “It’s a casual fish-raising game with occasional battles.”
Zhong Qi focused on his phone, cool and indifferent, as his character swung a sword at the monsters, while the octopus’s tentacles relentlessly drained the character’s health.
Lin Shiyu looked at his health bar with confusion.
“It’s a bit challenging to do it alone,” Zhong Qi noticed his gaze and explained, “I brought healing potions, so I won’t die.”
Lin Shiyu watched him speak while playing, as his hand slowed down, his health bar was depleted, causing his character to be enveloped in a divine light and exit the dungeon.
“You died,” Lin Shiyu pointed out deliberately.
Zhong Qi calmly adjusted his sitting position and started a new round.
He failed another round. Completing a dungeon took a long time, and Zhong Qi slowly chipped away at the octopus’s health while eating healing potions. Finally, he cleared the dungeon, and the sobbing octopus disappeared, leaving behind a cute little carrot. The character picked up the carrot and put it in its pocket. Zhong Qi said, “This is fish food.”
Lin Shiyu initially thought the game was childish, but ended up sitting there and watching the entire gameplay.
Zhong Qi exited the game interface and glanced at Lin Shiyu. “If you want to play, you can download it yourself.”
Lin Shiyu wondered if he looked like he wanted to play.
Unable to hold back, he asked, “Do you enjoy playing this kind of game?”
“What kind of game is this?” Zhong Qi asked.
“It looks like a game for little kids, quite childish.”
Zhong Qi wondered if anyone had ever told him that his way of speaking was really off-putting, but it’s also possible that he was unaware so he just ignored it. Fortunately, Zhong Qi was never one to dwell on details and said, “Casual fish farming also requires strategy, who are you looking down on?”
Lin Shiyu was taken aback for a moment, only then realizing that Zhong Qi was actually joking with him.
He was a bit confused and instinctively replied, “I don’t look down on you.”
Indeed, he didn’t look down on him. He just felt that the graphics in this game were too cute and didn’t match with Zhong Qi, who had nothing to do with cuteness.
His seriousness appeared too stern in Zhong Qi’s joking attitude.
Zhong Qi put away his phone, and he smiled for a moment with an indistinct smile. He stood up and asked Lin Shiyu, “Are you going back?”
Then he added, “The teacher will check the dorm later.”
Lin Shiyu had no choice but to stand up, and the two of them walked towards the dormitory together. They passed through a row of neatly arranged tree-lined paths. Not far away was the dormitory building illuminated by countless room lights, and where faint voices could be heard.
Only then did Lin Shiyu slowly realize a problem. “So you came to a deserted place just to play a game?”
Zhong Qi replied, “Playing such a childish game in the dorm would damage my image.”
Lin Shiyu laughed, “What?”
In a rare moment, Lin Shiyu was actually amused by Zhong Qi. The combination of these two people seemed strange, but strange things were always common. For example, Lin Shiyu and Zhong Qi, one was hot-tempered and didn’t like to talk, while the other was cold and indifferent, yet they could still make each other laugh.
They could remain silent for a whole week, but then they could naturally start chatting. The reason was unclear.
When they returned to the dormitory, everyone else had already come back. Gao Jie was on the phone complaining to his mother that all his snacks had been confiscated. Mao Silu and Ruan Zhikai were busy playing Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds together on their phones. Ruan Zhikai glanced at two of them without saying anything.
“Hey, you two came back together,” Gao Jie greeted them.
“Do you want to play together?” Mao Silu turned his head and asked them in passing. “The four of us can team up.”
Mao Silu was asking Zhong Qi and Lin Shiyu. He didn’t care about what had happened an hour ago and had already forgotten about the conflict as soon as he left the bathhouse.
Zhong Qi said, “No, you guys play.”
Lin Shiyu thought to himself that he would rather play that leisurely fish farming game, which had a different style from theirs.
Zhong Qi slept on the upper bunk, grabbed the railings and flipped onto the top bunk. After a few minutes, he suddenly exclaimed, “Hmm?”
Lin Shiyu was still standing by the bed and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Zhong Qi squatted on the bed, facing away from him, and fiddling with something. Then he turned around and held out a moving object to Lin Shiyu, saying, “A spider.”
A dark spider moved its long, squirming legs in Zhong Qi’s hand, and almost touched Lin Shiyu’s nose.
Startled, Lin Shiyu took a step back and bumped into Gao Jie behind him. Gao Jie asked, “What’s wrong?”
He turned around and saw the thing in Zhong Qi’s hand, and immediately yelled, ‘Brother Qi! Put down that dangerous weapon!”
The others looked over, and Mao Silu was so scared that his phone almost flew out of his hand. He exclaimed, “Brother, why are you holding a spider? Be careful, it might bite you!”
Zhong Qi said, “Don’t worry, this kind is harmless.”
After speaking, he tossed the spider to the ground.
The whole dormitory exploded with that single action. Ruan Zhikai jumped up from his chair and shouted, “Don’t throw it on the floor!”
Gao Jie huddled his large body and desperately hid behind Lin Shiyu, saying, “Where did it go? Where did it go?”
Zhong Qi sat cross-legged on the bed and said, “This kind of spider eats flying insects. Just leave it alone.”
No one listened to him. Mao Silu raised a slipper and searched all over for the spider, while Ruan Zhikai shook the bags on the floor vigorously. Gao Jie cowered behind Lin Shiyu, whimpering and screaming, while Lin Shiyu with great vigilance, stared at the ground.
Seeing Lin Shiyu’s tense expression, Zhong Qi asked, “Are you afraid of spiders?”
Lin Shiyu didn’t answer, he just glared at him and said “Couldn’t you have thrown it out the window?”
Seemingly indifferent, Zhong Qi climbed over the bed railing and jumped down, joining the chaotic spider search party.
In the end, relying on his sharp eyesight, Zhong Qi caught the spider that hid on the wall from their group and amidst Gao Jie’s high-pitched screams, he threw the spider out of the window. Finally, before the neighboring dormitory could complain about them, the excitement among their people subsided.
Several big guys pressed Zhong Qi and expressed their stern condemnation. The commotion continued until the dormitory teacher knocked on the door, and then they each climbed into bed.
After the lights were turned off, the dormitory reluctantly quieted down. Mao Silu and a few others were still talking in low voices, while Lin Shiyu laid on the bed. From his perspective, he could see a small gap between the window and the upper bunk partition, where a hint of night appeared, and distant stars blinked slowly.
Zhong Qi might actually be more childish than he had imagined, Lin Shiyu thought.
Edited by: Jaisland