Wolf Cub – Chapter 25

The performance in the small auditorium had been going on for a while. The audience seats were dark and only the stage was brightly lit.

Mao Silu took out his phone again and muttered, “Why is Shiyu taking so long?”

Ruan Zhikai asked, “Did he reply to your message?”

“He did. He said he’d be here soon.” Mao Silu looked puzzled. “But why take so long just to buy some water?”

A figure walked through the audience seats; there wasn’t much space between the seats. The person bent down and moved over, Mao Silu craned his neck to look. The auditorium was too dark, but he vaguely discerned from the clothing and outline that it was Lin Shiyu. He whispered, “Shiyu, here.”

Lin Shiyu walked over and sat beside him, throwing a bag into his lap.

Mao Silu opened the bag and looked inside. “My Sprite. Huh, you also bought milk tea for Gao Jie.”

“Yeah.” Lin Shiyu didn’t look at him. He sat sideways in the seat, his figure blending into the blurry darkness. Even his voice seemed distant. “Give it to him.”

Mao Silu passed the milk tea to Gao Jie on the other side. Gao Jie took it excitedly. “Hey, my brother Shiyu is so kind!”

The music on the stage was a bit loud. Mao Silu leaned a bit closer to Lin Shiyu and asked, “Shiyu, why did it take so long?”

Lin Shiyu pushed his hand away and nudged him back to his seat. Still not turning his head, he calmly said, “I ate something outside.”

Mao Silu suddenly understood. “Is it because we took your buns, and you didn’t get enough to eat? Sorry, Shiyu. I’m used to grabbing snacks with Kaikai usually–”

“Quiet.” Lin Shiyu interjected, his voice sounding cold and low amidst the loud music and the flickering darkness. “Watch the program.”

Mao Silu finally quieted down and didn’t disturb him anymore. Lin Shiyu sat quietly for a while, then slightly adjusted his posture to relieve the dull ache in his shoulders. He licked the cracked corner of his mouth, tasting a hint of rusty bitterness.

His wrist was swollen, clothes were dirty, and his backpack had to be washed secretly without his mother knowing. Other than that, there was nothing much to do.

The dark and noisy environment was good; it wrapped Lin Shiyu perfectly, not distinguishing between clean and dirty, not needing explanations or effort.

The performance by Zhong Qi and Tao Chen was the finale. As soon as they appeared, the entire audience erupted in cheers, especially the voices from Class Seven. Zhong Qi sat in the middle of the stage with his guitar, dressed in simple black and white casual attire, while Tao Chen, in a white lace dress, held a violin beside him, her hair meticulously arranged, her face adorned with delicate makeup.

The stage lights cast a gentle and clean halo on them.

“Perfect.” Gao Jie sighed. “Just perfect.”

Ruan Zhikai commented coolly, “Good at math.”

“Next, let’s welcome students Tao Chen and Zhong Qi from Class Seven to present ‘The Night of Confession.'”

The spotlight illuminated the stage, and the melodious notes flowed from the center, like a gentle river, interspersed with bright dots of light. Whether it be Zhong Qi or Tao Chen, their focused performances were clean and pure, untouched by any worldly dust.

Lin Shiyu sat in his seat, gazing at the glittering duo under the spotlight. The small auditorium was a little stuffy, but he didn’t roll up his sleeves. He just rested his hands on his legs, slowly picking away the tiny stones and dust on his palms.

As the song ended, the entire audience erupted in enthusiastic applause and cheers. Zhong Qi and Tao Chen bowed together, holding their instruments, and then stepped down from the stage.

“I’m leaving,” Lin Shiyu said.

“There’s one more performance,” Mao Silu said, bewildered as he stood up. “Let’s leave together later.”

“I have something to do at home.” Lin Shiyu picked up his bag, stood up from his seat without saying much and left on his own.

Mao Silu couldn’t stop him in time and just watched as he left with the bag on his back.

Lin Shiyu left the small auditorium, walking a bit slowly. His knees had hit the ground hard during the fight and were still hurting. He didn’t mind much, and slowly made his way to the bus stop at the school gate, waiting for the bus.

Unfortunately, the bus was exceptionally slow today. Lin Shiyu waited almost half an hour for the bus to arrive.

In the evening city lights, the bus shook along the road. There weren’t many people on the bus. Lin Shiyu checked the dirt and dust on his clothes. Some of it was really stubborn to remove. He began thinking about how to change clothes quickly at home without his mother noticing and toss the dirty clothes and bag into the washing machine.

Thinking about these simple things while looking at the night scenery eased his mood to a certain extent, although fundamentally it didn’t offer any benefit.

When the bus reached his stop, Lin Shiyu had almost reached the entrance of the community but remembered something. He turned and walked outside to a pharmacy, bought some cotton swabs and plaster, and walked out carrying the bag.

This is a somewhat aged neighborhood, and at night, there are very few people around, with rare passing vehicles. The street lights stood alone, casting a long, swaying shadow for Lin Shiyu, who walked under the lamplight by himself.

Lin Shiyu had just reached the entrance of his residential area and was about to descend the slope when he heard the sound of a bicycle gliding from behind him. Then, the brakes screeched, and a shadow covered Lin Shiyu’s back.

“Lin Shiyu,” came the familiar, cold and low voice, “why are you walking alone?”

Lin Shiyu suddenly felt a bit annoyed because he didn’t particularly want to turn around. Yet not turning around felt equally strange.

Silently in his mind, he replied, ‘Why ride a bike so fast?’

Lin Shiyu slightly turned, seeming nonchalant, and said, “My mom urged me to get back early.”

He turned again, with his back facing Zhong Qi. “I’m leaving.”

The lamplight was quite dim, and logically, Zhong Qi shouldn’t notice anything.

However, the next moment, Lin Shiyu’s arm was pulled back, restraining his forward movement.

He was pulled back, forced to face Zhong Qi again, and looked up at Zhong Qi’s scrutinizing gaze with a furrowed brow.

Zhong Qi’s eyes fell accurately on the corner of Lin Shiyu’s mouth. “Were you in a fight?”

Lin Shiyu didn’t expect him to have such keen eyes, to notice the injuries on his face in just a brief encounter. Still, Lin Shiyu didn’t want to explain, so he said, “No.”

Zhong Qi didn’t release his hold. His gaze moved from top to bottom, observing the dirt on Lin Shiyu’s clothes and pants, the white bag he carried containing a medicine box and cotton swabs.

Lin Shiyu’s arm twitched, trying to move the bag behind him, but felt the action resembled a child caught buying cigarettes by their parents, so he abandoned the effort.

“It wasn’t a fight?” Zhong Qi looked back at Lin Shiyu’s eyes, his tone calm yet cool. “Did you roll in the sandbox yourself?”

Lin Shiyu didn’t appreciate his tone at that moment. It carried a hint of sarcasm, as if everything he did was pointless and boring.

Lin Shiyu broke free from his grip. “So what if I fought? They annoyed me first.”


Lin Shiyu didn’t want to explain more and didn’t want to be dragged into a topic he found tiresome. “You don’t know them.”

“Tell me first.”

“I don’t want to.” Lin Shiyu turned his head slightly. “It’s none of your business.”

The atmosphere quieted down with his words.

“You always say that.” After a while, Zhong Qi said, “That nothing is related to anyone. Is that right?”

Restless agitation quickly spread, occupying every emotional nook and crannies. Lin Shiyu didn’t want to stand in front of Zhong Qi with injuries on his face and covered in dirt, which made him feel as though nothing was hidden. It was like a hawk hovering over his territory, getting closer and closer until every bit of chaos became evident.

“Yes,” Lin Shiyu said. “I don’t need you to care.”

Time seemed to slow down in the dimness. Zhong Qi retracted his hand, straightened his bike, and the wheels created a slight rustling against the ground.

“Fine, I won’t interfere from now on.”

When Lin Shiyu returned home, Lin Hui was playing with his sister in her room. Lin Shiyu changed his clothes in his own room and then threw the clothes along with the bag into the washing machine. Lin Hui heard the noise and came out. “Shiyu, what are you doing?”

Lin Shiyu pressed the button, saying, “We had a PE class with running today so my clothes are soaked with sweat.”

“But why wash the bag with the clothes?”

“It hasn’t been washed in a while, so I thought to wash it together.”

“Ah, how could you mix the bag with clothes? You, this child…”

Avoiding her gaze, Lin Shiyu went to take a shower.

The hot water hitting his face caused a stinging sensation. Lin Shiyu used soap to wash away the dirt from his face and hands. Looking down, he noticed his knees were scraped. The water flowed loudly down the drain, carrying away the traces of dirt.

He stared at the flowing water on the ground and inexplicably thought of Zhong Qi’s hand placed on the handlebar of his bicycle; broad palms, slender, strong fingers, very attractive, and also very clean.

Even if the floodlights revealed everything, there was no need to conceal any detail because they had always been so clean. Everyone simply liked him, envied him.

Lin Shiyu also liked him. Even though he could never say it out loud, he liked the way Zhong Qi played the guitar, and the sight of Zhong Qi riding a bike with his clothes flapping in the wind. The ordinary black backpack, the slight distance he kept while speaking, yet he stood in the middle of the crowd, nonchalantly accepting everyone’s gaze.

All of it was something Lin Shiyu could never achieve or be good at.

In terms of socializing with peers, he had no standard to refer to, so he subconsciously tried to emulate Zhong Qi’s way of establishing a safe and comfortable distance between everyone. If he could, he would like to try treating Li Zhong, Mao Silu, Gao Jie, Shen Ziyi, and Ruan Zhikai in the same manner.

Because they were good, better than anyone Lin Shiyu had ever encountered or imagined. Their intentions to approach him were never malicious; they were like a group of rabbits squatting on the boundary, gently asking if he’d like to come out and play, to be their companion.

Yet still,  Lin Shiyu found he couldn’t do it.

He was imprisoned by the accumulated past, turned into a mountain and hardened into a wall. This past had fundamentally changed his way of thinking and behavior, deeply embedded in his brain, teaching him only how to fight back against wolves and tigers, never how to gather a group of rabbits.

His life, he couldn’t even think about changing.




“Your mouth…”

Lin Shiyu tilted his head slightly, avoiding Xiao Ran’s hand. “I took a tumble.”

Zhao Bin stood nearby, observing the injury near his mouth. Seeing that he didn’t speak, Lin Shiyu continued, “It’s fine not to capture the chin. Displaying the clothes is what matters.”

Xiao Ran said, “It’s okay, we can use some latex to cover it and then do makeup.”

Seemingly lost in thought, Zhao Bin finally spoke. “It’s fine, it can be shot like this.”

Lin Shiyu looked at him questioningly, and Zhao Bin smiled. “It’s a small scar, so it won’t affect much. We can edit it out later.”

After saying this, Zhao Bin went to continue arranging the equipment, leaving Xiao Ran and Lin Shiyu face-to-face.

Carefully, Xiao Ran applied foundation for Lin Shiyu. She whispered, “You got into a fight with someone, didn’t you?”

Lin Shiyu glanced at her but didn’t respond. Xiao Ran smiled. “This doesn’t look like a fall. It looks like you were hit.”

Lin Shiyu and Xiao Ran occasionally spoke in the makeup room. Xiao Ran was usually very quiet. Unless it was during work, she was barely seen, and Lin Shiyu didn’t know where she would be. Lin Shiyu had never seen her initiate conversations with other staff members, but she would occasionally talk to him. Perhaps it was because she was quiet, gentle in nature, and spoke softly, but Lin Shiyu didn’t treat her with the indifference he did Zhao Bin.

However, that’s all it was. The time spent on makeup was short. Zhao Bin or others would come to hurry Xiao Ran along to finish her work. Xiao Ran had no temper; she would finish applying makeup obediently and then leave.

“Why did you come here for the photoshoot?” Xiao Ran suddenly asked.

Lin Shiyu was bewildered by her question. “To earn money.”

“No, I meant…” Xiao Ran paused, lowering her voice. “Did Zhao Bin ask you to come?”


Xiao Ran didn’t say anything more. It wasn’t until after finishing the makeup that she spoke again while packing up her makeup kit. “You could earn money elsewhere too.”

Lin Shiyu was taken aback. “What?”

“You don’t necessarily have to take photos here. Other studios… the price should be similar.” Xiao Ran packed up her makeup kit, stood up, smiled at Lin Shiyu, and then walked away.

Lin Shiyu was puzzled by this conversation. What did she mean? Was she dissatisfied with his photography skills?

Standing in front of the backdrop, Lin Shiyu thought it over. Whatever, he was brought here by someone else, and getting paid was all that mattered.

After a few photo sessions, Lin Shiyu gradually understood that this studio was not focused on a particular brand’s business. Instead, it received various orders from anonymous online stores. Some seemed to be directly from factories with clothing produced uniformly and distributed to different online outlets. They lacked brand styles, showing only differences in clothing styles.

For instance, a few weeks ago, it was college checkered shirts, then last week was about a refreshing style, and now it was a Japanese-style cold tone.

Lin Shiyu wore a dark tea-colored Hong Kong-style half-sleeved shirt over a loose white cotton T-shirt and black cropped pants, sitting on a bench with the injured side of his mouth not visible in the frame.

“Your clothing corner can drape a bit on your leg,” Zhao Bin said after taking a few shots.

Lin Shiyu gathered the cloth corner. “Like this?”

Zhao Bin set down the camera and walked over, reaching out to adjust Lin Shiyu’s clothes and straighten his collar. Whether intentionally or not, his fingers slid across the back of Lin Shiyu’s neck.

Lin Shiyu was sensitive to touch and immediately furrowed his brow.

“No need to deliberately hide the injury,” Zhao Bin adjusted his collar. Then, reaching out to lift Lin Shiyu’s chin, he said, “Turning your face isn’t a problem.”

With a ‘snap,’ Lin Shiyu blocked Zhao Bin’s hand.

Lin Shiyu stared at Zhao Bin expressionlessly, his gaze turning cold. “Don’t touch me recklessly.”

After the photo shoot was completed, as usual, Lin Shiyu packed up and left. However, this time Zhao Bin caught up with him.

Lin Shiyu wanted to hit someone.

“Shiyu, let me accompany you to buy some medicine,” Zhao Bin walked beside him, showing concern. “You should treat the injury on your mouth.”

“I have medicine.”

“Okay.” Zhao Bin scratched the back of his head, seeming a bit embarrassed by Lin Shiyu’s aloof attitude. However, he quickly regained his composure as if he remembered something and asked, “By the way, I’ve been working on a batch of your new photos recently. The original shots turned out particularly good. Would you like to see them?”

With this, Zhao Bin piqued Lin Shiyu’s curiosity a bit. “Where are they?”

“The photos are stored on my desktop at home. I’ve been doing post-processing work at home recently,” Zhao Bin showed a friendly smile. “My place is nearby. If you’d like to see them, you can come over.”

Lin Shiyu immediately lost interest. He had no desire to visit someone else’s home. “I’ll pass.”

“It’s really close by. I have drinks and snacks at home, and a lot of games on my computer–”

“I don’t want to go.” Lin Shiyu, feeling impatient, replied while waiting at the bus stop.

Zhao Bin was left speechless for a while, then said in a frustrated tone, “Why are you always so wary of others? I genuinely think you have an interesting personality and just want to be friends with you.”

“You probably have very few friends, right?” Zhao Bin turned to face Lin Shiyu, lowering his voice slightly. “I can be friends with you.”

Lin Shiyu distanced himself from Zhao Bin, and also turned to face him. With a face that stood out, healthy fair skin, a slightly bruised wound at the corner of his mouth that looked somewhat abrupt but added a destructive beauty to his cold demeanor, the tough quality softened his slightly green appearance.

Zhao Bin’s fingers twitched lightly by his side.

“I don’t want to go to your place, and I don’t want to be friends with you,” Lin Shiyu said indifferently. “Don’t send me messages anymore. Don’t bother me. Got it?”


Edited by: Jaisland



Support translation:

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