Lin Shiyu stood by a row of sinks outside, washing his face.
He felt hot. Whether it was from running or from the forceful slap on his body, he felt nauseous. He had no appetite at the moment and kept splashing cold water on his arms and face, letting the heat dissipate slowly.
The sinks were separated by a tiled wall. Lin Shiyu bent down, rinsing his mouth with cold water, and felt much better after spitting it out.
Just as he straightened up, he saw a head pop up on the other side of the tiled wall.
It was a very beautiful face—a short, curly bob, slender arms, and eyes as clear as a mountain spring. Her long eyelashes fluttered like wings.
Her cheeks were red, and her eye sockets were also red.
Lin Shiyu noticed that she had the appearance of someone who had been crying, and he felt somewhat at a loss. However, the girl just wiped the water droplets from her face and smiled at him faintly. “Hello.”
Lin Shiyu nodded and replied, “Hmm.”
The girl picked up her keys and meal card from the edge of the sink and walked towards him. Seeing his reserved expression, she asked, “You don’t recognize me, do you?”
Lin Shiyu felt a bit embarrassed but still shook his head.
“I’m Tao Chen. I am in the same class as you.” the girl smiled helplessly. “I know your name is Lin Shiyu.”
“Oh,” Lin Shiyu said. “Hello.”
Tao Chen said, “I’m sorry you had to witness that. The instructor on our side… is a bit harsh. I couldn’t help but cry for a while. It’s all my fault for being too sensitive.”
Lin Shiyu stood silently on the side, not knowing how to respond or understanding why Tao Chen was telling him all of this. Did her crying have anything to do with him?
“But I’m fine now,” Tao Chen sniffled and smiled at Lin Shiyu. “Have you had your lunch?”
Although he didn’t understand the logical connection between her previous and current statements, Lin Shiyu answered truthfully, “Not yet.”
“Me either. My friend originally asked me to eat with her, but I let her go ahead.” Tao Chen’s voice was soft and gentle, with a slightly cute upward inflection. “I probably won’t have time to eat if I go now, so I plan to buy some bread at the convenience store.”
The two of them stared at each other for a while. Lin Shiyu thought she was going to leave after saying that, but after a few seconds of waiting, she didn’t turn around so he reluctantly spoke up, “Then go ahead.”
Tao Chen seemed to pause for a moment. Before she could speak again, her gaze drifted beyond Lin Shiyu and looked behind him.
Approaching footsteps came with a familiar, low voice. “Lin Shiyu.”
Lin Shiyu turned his head and saw Zhong Qi walking over, half a bottle of mineral water in his pocket and a bag of bread in his hand. The sleeves of his military training uniform were rolled up to his forearm, revealing a healthy muscular line.
He walked up to the two of them and glanced at Tao Chen.
Lin Shiyu asked him, “What’s up?”
Zhong Qi said, “I need to wash my hands.”
Tao Chen saw the bread in Zhong Qi’s hand and blinked her eyes, asking, “Did you buy this bread from the store?”
“It seems like neither of us went to the cafeteria to eat.” Tao Chen smiled. “I was just about to say that I wanted to buy bread from the store. I’m a little hungry too.”
“I already ate in the cafeteria,” Zhong Qi said. “I just bought the bread on a whim.”
“Oh…” Tao Chen nodded, stood with her hands behind her back, looked at the bread in Zhong Qi’s hand, then glanced at the bottle of mineral water in his pocket. Finally, her gaze fell on Zhong Qi’s hands, observing his slender and powerful fingers.
Zhong Qi stood in front of the two, and the bag of bread in his hand made a soft rustling sound as he squeezed it. He paused for a moment and finally chose to say to Lin Shiyu, “I didn’t see you eating at the cafeteria.”
Lin Shiyu nodded and said, “I was just about to go eat. See you later.”
After saying that, he turned around and left the two behind, walking away briskly.
This left Zhong Qi and Tao Chen facing each other.
Zhong Qi was somewhat speechless. He suddenly felt that buying the bread was unnecessary, and he couldn’t give a reasonable explanation for the motivation behind buying it. There was also a girl in front of him, gazing at him.
“Do you want to eat it?” Zhong Qi handed the bread to Tao Chen.
“Huh?” Tao Chen raised her head in surprise, glanced at him, and then lowered her eyes. A scattered light danced softly on her eyelashes. “Is that okay?”
Tao Chen took the bread and whispered, “Thank you.”
After Zhong Qi said this, he turned around and left.
Lin Shiyu didn’t want to torture himself. He ate his fill in the cafeteria, relieved his pain, rested for a while, and then followed the rest of the group to gather at the playground. When he arrived at the assembly point, he saw a group of boys sitting in a row on the cement pipes piled up by the roadside, waiting under the shade of the trees, enjoying the cool breeze.
Zhong Qi also sat among the group, stretching his long legs, idly turning a box of unopened milk in his hand.
When Lin Shiyu walked past, Zhong Qi called out to him.
“Do you want to drink?” Zhong Qi turned his palm upward, offering him the unopened carton of milk.
On the side, Gao Jie expressed his dissatisfaction. “Brother Qi, what’s the meaning of this? Are you targeting me? I asked you for it earlier, but you didn’t give it to me. But as soon as Lin Shiyu came, you voluntarily give it to him in front of me?”
Lin Shiyu walked over, somewhat puzzled. Mao Silu saw him approaching and made room for him, saying, “Do you want to sit here?”
Without waiting for an answer Zhong Qi simply tossed the carton of milk into Lin Shiyu’s hands. Lin Shiyu caught the milk, making it difficult for him to refuse, as it would seem too contrived. So he also sat down, opened the milk, and started drinking.
“Lin Shiyu.” Mao Silu sat next to him and called out to him. Lin Shiyu turned his head to look at him with the straw in his mouth.
Mao Silu scratched his head. “Um, I have a bad memory, don’t mind me.”
Lin Shiyu: “?”
“I mean, if I did something that upset you, you can tell me. Usually, I might not even be aware of it myself.”
Finally, Ruan Zhikai couldn’t hold back anymore and burst into laughter.
Mao Silu said, “What are you laughing at?”
Lin Shiyu was very confused. “But you didn’t do anything.”
Mao Silu was equally puzzled. “Then why are you targeting me?”
Lin Shiyu: “…”
Even Zhong Qi couldn’t bear it anymore and started looking up at the sky.
As Lin Shiyu looked at Mao Silu’s sincerely perplexed face, he finally realized that this person was genuinely clueless, without any pretense. He remembered that he had even gotten angry with someone like this before. Looking at those bewildered eyes, mixed with a hint of nervousness, a small, stubborn knot in his heart suddenly loosened slowly.
“I’m not targeting you.” Lin Shiyu said to Mao Silu.
After finishing the milk, Lin Shiyu stood up, took a few steps forward, then stopped and turned back to Mao Silu, saying, “It’s my own bad temper. I didn’t… target you.”
An extremely uncomfortable expression briefly flashed across his face. After saying those words, he walked toward the trash can, squeezing the milk carton in his hand.
Mao Silu realized what happened and turned around to kick Ruan Zhikai. “I told you I didn’t do anything!”
Ruan Zhikai impatiently said, “Enough, go away. I was just teasing you, you idiot.”
“You, you, you…”
Zhong Qi watched Lin Shiyu’s retreating figure. The carton of milk had been in Zhong Qi’s pocket for a while and was already somewhat warm, but Lin Shiyu didn’t notice.
The reason he didn’t also give the milk along with the bread to Tao Chen was because he wasn’t sure if Lin Shiyu would actually obediently go eat. Knowing his temperament, it seemed normal for him to lose his appetite due to his anger at the instructor.
Or perhaps it was because Zhong Qi saw him running and enduring pain, or perhaps it was because he saw the slap on his back. If Zhong Qi remembered correctly, it landed exactly where the bruise was.
So that carton of milk was just a form of appropriate care and comfort for his tablemate.
Nothing more than that.
Edited by: Jaisland