Wolf Cub – Chapter 42

On the day of the final exam, all classrooms were rearranged, with seats renumbered and arranged differently.

Ten minutes before the exam began, the teaching building gradually quieted down, and most students were seated, preparing for the sound of the bell to signal the start of the test.

Lin Shiyu walked from one end of the corridor to the other, but he couldn’t find his exam room.

He was assigned to Exam Room 13, but even after going from the upper floor to the lower floor, he couldn’t find number 13. Lin Shiyu was confused, standing at the stairwell. Just as he was about to turn and walk away hastily, he heard someone calling him from behind. He turned around to see Mo Silu, equally lost, running up from downstairs with a backpack.

“Shiyu, do you know where Exam Room 13 is?” Mo Silu asked, bewildered. “I’ve been looking for it for ages.”

Lin Shiyu replied, “I’m also assigned to Exam Room 13.”

The two lost souls faced each other in bewilderment within the corridors of their own school building.

“What are you two doing?” Another familiar voice interjected. 

Lin Shiyu and Mao Silu turned their heads, realizing they were standing at the back door of a classroom, with Zhong Qi seated in the last row near the back door, looking at them as if observing two fools.

“We’re trying to find our exam room.”

“Which one?”

“Exam Room 13.”

“This is Exam Room 5, on the fourth floor. Follow the sequence, and Exam Room 13 is on the second floor.” Zhong Qi couldn’t be bothered to look even at someone who couldn’t count properly. “You can’t even count?”

The two companions, who were lost both in navigation and counting, ran down the stairs amid the laughter of the whole classroom.

After finishing the Chinese and math exams in the morning, the bell rang, and everyone filed out of the building. Mao Silu came over to walk alongside Lin Shiyu. “Shiyu, how do you feel about the tests?”

“I don’t have a feeling.”

“You’ve been working hard in your studies lately, you’ll definitely do well. Don’t worry,” Mao Silu said, patting Lin Shiyu’s shoulder. “Let’s go, let’s grab some food together. We’ll wait downstairs for Kai Kai and the others.”

Lin Shiyu didn’t refuse. He was slowly getting used to Mao Silu’s habit of always liking to have someone around, be it for playing basketball, eating, or even chatting on the way to the restroom during break times. Most of the time, it was either Ruan Zhikai or Gao Jie, but sometimes it was Zhong Qi and Lin Shiyu who were inadvertently dragged along.

There were many people passing through the entrance and exit of the class building. Lin Shiyu and Mao Silu were standing at the side, talking and waiting for others. Some people were curious, others seemed puzzled.

Lin Shiyu was dressed in a light-colored checkered cotton jacket with a large witch hat on his back, and a circle of white fluff around the cuff. It was still obviously a girlish style. Since the end of the hot season, his skin had returned to a clear and fair complexion with long, luscious eyelashes and eyes that seemed to reflect the fragmented light of a lake. His lips were small and rosy, and when standing quietly without speaking, one might not immediately recognize him as a boy.

Lin Shiyu habitually ignored these looks, while Mao Silu simply hadn’t noticed, being enthusiastically absorbed in discussing their lunch options.

“Hey there!” Gao Jie’s loud voice came from a distance. The big guy pushed through the crowd and came up to the two. “Let’s go, I’m starving. Let’s eat.”

Ruan Zhikai and Zhong Qi came down afterward. Zhong Qi looked at Lin Shiyu. “Are you confident that you passed?”

Lin Shiyu retorted, “I’m not that bad in Chinese and math.”

“A person who can’t even count wouldn’t excel in math.”

Zhong Qi started taunting him as soon as he arrived, prompting Lin Shiyu to kick at him. Zhong Qi didn’t take his protest seriously, casually moving to the side with a swish of his long legs.

Inside the cafeteria, amidst the bustling sounds, the five friends sat together at a table, discussing plans to hang out together during the winter break.

“I heard there’s a really good New Year’s movie premiering on the fourth day of the Lunar New Year. Let’s go watch it together.”

“Sure, we can grab a meal together after the movie.”

“Sounds good.” Mao Silu turned to Zhong Qi. “Zhong Qi, you should come too.”


“Shiyu, you too!”

Lin Shiyu initially wanted to say that he might not have time, but seeing Mao Silu and the others chatting excitedly about holiday activities and eagerly inviting him along, he found it hard to refuse.

In the end, he just said, “Understood,” without the direct refusal as he had done before.

The two-day final exams quickly concluded, followed by the winter break.

On the first day of the break, Lin Shiyu indulged in a rare, comfortable lazy sleep in bed.

The second day, more sleep. The third day, he continued to sleep.

One week later, in the early morning, Lin Wanyue dashed into Lin Shiyu’s room, using both hands and feet to climb onto the bed, reaching out to pat the lump on the bed.

Her attempts weren’t forceful, and it took a while before she got any response. Lin Shiyu, with disheveled hair, poked his head out from under the covers, looking like someone who had no idea where or when he was. “What’s up?”

“Breakfast,” Lin Wanyue mumbled, leaning on Lin Shiyu’s pillow.

“Okay, have you had breakfast?”

“Yup.” Lin Wanyue nodded and pulled at her brother’s blanket. “Brother, let’s eat.”

With Lin Wanyue persistently shaking him, Lin Shiyu eventually climbed out from the warm covers. There was no heating in the house, and he didn’t like using an electric blanket. The world beyond the blanket was chilly. Lin Shiyu sluggishly put on his clothes and, pulled by his sister, moved from the bed to the living room to eat the breakfast Lin Hui had left for them.

After finishing breakfast, doing the dishes, cleaning up, playing with Lin Wanyue, teaching her words, pronunciation, and reading, it was time to head out with Lin Wanyue to buy groceries. Upon returning, he managed to put his sister to bed for a nap before taking a rest himself. Lin Hui usually returned home before dinnertime. She was recently assigned to the day shift, so she could come back early in the evening to spend time with them.

However, when Lin Hui returned, it was time for Lin Shiyu to head out.

A couple of days ago, Lin Shiyu’s aunt asked him if he had time to help out at her small family-owned restaurant. She and her husband managed the place themselves and hadn’t hired extra staff. Sometimes, when they were busy, they would ask their son to help, but this year, their son had gone to study at a university in another city. The restaurant occasionally got overwhelmed, so Lin Shiyu’s aunt, upon hearing from Lin Hui that Lin Shiyu was on winter break, wanted to call him to help out.

Lin Shiyu readily agreed without asking about the work hours or compensation.

Ever since Lin Shiyu’s parents divorced, Lin Hui had completely cut off contact with her ex-husband’s family. The relatives on her side also had minimal interaction with her. As a divorced, impoverished woman with two children, one of whom had mental health issues, nobody wanted to get close to this kind of hot potato, fearing that it might lead to trouble.

Only Lin Shiyu’s aunt occasionally maintained some contact with them. Even when Lin Hui went through the divorce, it was her sister who helped them find a place to move, or else their family wouldn’t even have had a place to live.

Just based on this, Lin Shiyu was determined to help.

Lin Shiyu squatted at the entrance to put on his shoes, with Lin Hui standing nearby, expressing concern. “It’s cold, and it’s not safe in the dark. Shiyu, maybe you shouldn’t go.”

“It’s just nearby, a twenty-minute walk; there’s nothing unsafe about that.”

“But you finally got a break and can rest well. You work hard normally…”

“There’s nothing hard about it. I’ve been resting at home while you’re at work during the day.” Lin Shiyu put on his shoes, took his phone and keys, and said, “I’m leaving.”

Lin Hui could never resist him. She could only remind him several times to stay safe and return early before Lin Shiyu turned and left.

Auntie’s small restaurant was located not far from Friendship Avenue, and Lin Shiyu quickened his pace, reaching the restaurant’s door in about a quarter of an hour. It was very cold on this winter night, and the heat inside the shop created a faint mist on the plastic curtains and glass. Lin Shiyu lifted the curtain and found that there were quite a few people inside, mostly workers and high school seniors from the nearby school who were having dinner before heading back for their evening study sessions.

“Shiyu!” Auntie, busy at the front desk collecting payments, saw him and hurriedly greeted. “Come help me with the money; I need to go cook in the kitchen.”

Lin Shiyu took off his coat and walked over, hanging the garment on the wall. He then took the bill from his aunt’s hand and bent down to input the numbers on the cash register. “A total of 40 yuan.”

As he raised his head, he noticed two high school girls standing in front of the counter, covering their mouths and eyes. The brightness of their eyes glinted through their fingers while they held their phones.

“Could you not take pictures, please?”

“We haven’t taken any photos; it’s just for payment.” The girls quickly waved their hands, scanned the payment code with their phones, then happily ran away while holding hands.

Throughout dinner time, the restaurant was continuously occupied by customers. While Auntie and Uncle worked in the kitchen, Lin Shiyu handled the cash register, served dishes, and cleared tables. He worked efficiently and responsibly, patient and diligent like when taking care of Lin Wanyue, and very unlike his usual bad-tempered self at school and elsewhere.

When a wave of customers finally left, Auntie took a moment to step out from the kitchen, holding a plate of fried rice. “Shiyu, you haven’t had dinner, have you? Come, eat something.”

Auntie was slightly plump, sported a short haircut and wore a deep red cotton vest and thick pants. The oil-smoked apron in front of her had lost its original color and pattern. Her skin was rough and red, yet her eyes were particularly gentle when she smiled.

Lin Shiyu walked from behind the counter. “You don’t have to prepare dinner for me.”

“But you’re still growing; you can’t be hungry.” Auntie placed the fried rice on the table. “Don’t be so polite, hurry and eat.”

Since the food was ready and Lin Shiyu hadn’t had dinner, he was hungry now, so he sat down and picked up the spoon. Auntie sat down opposite him and said, “Helping out here won’t affect your studies, will it?”

“No, it won’t.”

“Good. I also heard from your mom that she’s on the day shift now. So during the day, you can take care of your sister at home, and in the evening, just spare some time to help me out. I’ll pay you 30 per day, and transfer it to your phone.”

“Auntie, you don’t have to pay me.”

“I can’t let you work for nothing.”

“It won’t be for long, just in the evenings.”

“Ah, if you’re collecting, just take it. Auntie isn’t that stingy.”

Lin Shiyu was quite obedient in front of his aunt’s family. Hence, after hearing this, he didn’t say much and simply nodded in agreement. After finishing the fried rice, he washed the bowl and chopsticks in the kitchen before returning to work.

At 10 p.m. Zhong Qi sat at his desk doing homework with earphones plugged in, playing music at a slightly high volume.

He worked very quickly on his homework. Typically, as soon as he saw the problem, his brain would quickly start solving it, and his hand followed the speed of his thoughts, without any hesitation or pause. His thinking was fast, but sometimes too fast causing him to not check for mistakes. It was as if he was doing it just to finish rather than doing it well. Consequently, his accuracy usually hovered around 80%, neither dropping below nor rising above that level.

Suddenly, the sound of a message alert chimed in amidst the music. Zhong Qi checked his phone and saw a message from a middle school classmate named Yu Chaole, who was a music enthusiast and had a decent relationship with him during middle school.

[Brother Qi, do you want to go play guitar together? I recently found a studio that’s amazing, with loads of instruments, many skilled players, and band rehearsals. What do you think? Are you coming?]

Zhong Qi became interested.

He hadn’t attended several middle school reunions after graduation. He refused many invitations unless his relationship with the classmates attending were good, like the reunion he was planning to join before with his middle school classmates. Though, in the end, the enraged Lin Shiyu, who hadn’t even removed his makeup from the confrontation, proved to be more attractive.

However, this invitation from Yu Chaole could solve Zhong Qi’s current problem. His mom didn’t like him playing the guitar at home. She didn’t think it wasn’t a serious pursuit, and Zhong Qi couldn’t be bothered to listen to her nagging, so he seldom played at home. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to play; he just couldn’t find a suitable practice space.

Zhong Qi replied to the message: [What studio is this?]

[They call it a studio, but it’s actually a room full of instruments. My brother took me a few times before; it’s super interesting. If you’re interested, we can go together. I’ll get my brother to take us.]

They chatted for a bit and arranged to visit the studio together in a few days. Zhong Qi exited the chat with Yu Chaole and accidentally scrolled down to see the conversation box with Lin Shiyu.

Their last chat was almost half a month ago. Zhong Qi was still somewhat unhappy with Lin Shiyu, who rarely visited his Fish Island to feed his fish. Lin Shiyu thought Zhong Qi was idle and fed all the fish food he collected while playing the game by himself, and then sent a message: [I fed your fish].

After that, they hadn’t exchanged any messages.

Zhong Qi exited the WeChat interface and continued writing, wearing his earphones.



Edited by: Jaisland



Support translation:

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