Wolf Cub – Chapter 62

Early in the morning, the alarm clock on Lin Shiyu’s phone rang loudly. Before it could ring for two seconds, it was abruptly silenced by a strong hand.

Lin Shiyu was startled awake by this sudden noise. He tried to sit up in a panic but found that he couldn’t move at all because he was wrapped up tightly in the blanket, and held securely in Zhong Qi’s arms.

Who am I? Where am I? What happened? Lin Shiyu’s emotions fluctuated wildly so early in the morning. He struggled to lift his chin and peered outside the blanket layers. There was a thin blanket covering him, a thicker one folded over it, and on top of all that, a strong and healthy arm was draped around his waist with the forearm tucked securely behind him.

Zhong Qi, irritated from being woken up, had slapped the alarm off with a bang and then withdrew his hand to continue sleeping. He even tightened his arm around Lin Shiyu and pulled him closer, as if he were holding a very comfortable human-shaped pillow.

Lin Shiyu, stunned, rested his head on Zhong Qi’s other arm, his ear against Zhong Qi’s strong, vibrating chest. Warm breath cascaded down from Zhong Qi, flowing into the intimate gap between them.

“…” 

Lin Shiyu held his breath, feeling overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. After gathering his scattered wits, he mustered the strength to push Zhong Qi’s chest with all his might. “Get… get up! Wake up!!”

Half an hour later, outside the apartment building, Lin Shiyu sprinted ahead with his backpack, while Zhong Qi lazily followed on his bicycle, yawning. “Lin Shiyu, don’t walk so fast.”

As soon as he said that, Lin Shiyu sped up even more.

Arching an eyebrow, Zhong Qi watched as the person ahead with the rabbit-patterned backpack and loose-fitting women’s T-shirt printed with small stars ran farther and farther away. He kicked off the ground, gliding smoothly on his bicycle until he precisely grabbed Lin Shiyu.

“Why are you running?”

Zhong Qi grabbed Lin Shiyu by the rabbit ears of his backpack, stopping him in his tracks. Lin Shiyu’s face flushing red as he accused him: “You’re so weird! How could you… how could you hold me all night?”

Zhong Qi’s heart also thumped, but his face remained calm. “What’s wrong with holding someone all night?”

“Two guys, like that—”

“What’s weird about two guys holding each other? It would be weird if it were a man and a woman who aren’t in a relationship lying in bed together. What’s the problem with two guys?”

Lin Shiyu’s expression was momentarily blank, his eyes filled with confusion.

Zhong Qi continued confidently, “It’s just friends lying together in bed to sleep. The bed is only so big, and as they sleep, they might end up close together. What’s wrong with that?”

Lin Shiyu looked at Zhong Qi, unable to articulate any objections.

He never really had friends before and had no idea about the specific norms of interaction between friends. The way Zhong Qi put it, it seemed… it wasn’t strange at all for two unmarried men to do this?

Seeing Lin Shiyu’s changing expression, Zhong Qi couldn’t help but suppress a smile, lifting him onto the back seat of his bicycle and setting off for school.

The next day, Zhong Qi didn’t return home to sleep.

He made a phone call to his father, his voice cold and indifferent, with few words. He ended the call with a casual “It doesn’t matter, you’re both like this anyway,” and hung up.

Turning around as if nothing had happened, he sauntered into Lin Shiyu’s home, as if he were the fourth member of the family.

“Come here.”

In the evening, after taking a shower, Zhong Qi sat cross-legged on the bed and waved to Lin Shiyu.

Lin Shiyu had just lifted the blanket when his body froze at Zhong Qi’s words. “Zhong Qi, don’t be too–”

Zhong Qi didn’t wait for him to finish speaking. He leaned over and hugged Lin Shiyu around the waist, causing Lin Shiyu to lose his balance and fall into his arms. The two blankets tangled together, wrapping around Lin Shiyu.

Lin Shiyu’s heart raced but he didn’t dare move, afraid that his legs might accidentally touch Zhong Qi’s body. He could only struggle slightly. “Be gentle, you’re holding me too tight.”

Zhong Qi, however, kept one hand pressed against Lin Shiyu’s lower back, his fingers either intentionally or unintentionally brushing against Lin Shiyu’s waistline.

“Your waist is so narrow.” Zhong Qi held Lin Shiyu and chuckled softly in his ear.

After three seconds of stillness:

“Zhong Qi, you… get off me!”

A roar shook Lin Wanyue and Lin Hui, who had just turned off the lights and were preparing to sleep in the next room, making both of them startle.

 …

“Shiyu, why do you have such dark circles? Didn’t you sleep well last night?” Mao Silu sipped soy milk, sitting next to Lin Shiyu.

The group sat together eating lunch. Zhong Qi had been called away to help with exam marking and wasn’t present.

Lin Shiyu scooped up a spoonful of rice forcefully, not answering Mao Silu’s question.

Gripping the spoon, he pondered for a moment, then looked up seriously at Mao Silu. “Do you ever sleep together with Ruan Zhikai?”

Ruan Zhikai, who was drinking water beside him: “Pffft!” 

He spat out his water, narrowly missing Gao Jie who was sitting across from him.

Mao Silu looked horrified. “No! Why would I sleep with Zhikai?”

“Aren’t you friends?”

Ruan Zhikai wiped his mouth. “Who says friends should sleep together? I would never engage in such gay behavior!”

Gao Jie agreed. “Yeah, yeah, real men like us just butt heads in public places. We wouldn’t hug each other secretly in bed.”

Lin Shiyu asked, “You just butt heads??”

Gao Jie smirked and pulled Mao Silu over. “Brother Shiyu doesn’t get it. We butt heads like this. See, Mao, you stand in front of me, and then like this–”

Mao Silu immediately turned around and started wrestling with Gao Jie. “Why should I stand behind you! Let me stand behind you!”

“Absolutely not, this concerns a man’s dignity. It’s a serious matter. The positions cannot be swapped!”

Ruan Zhikai said, “Can’t you do this later in the classroom?”

Lin Shiyu earnestly observed Gao Jie and Mao Silu’s “live demonstration” and finally reached a conclusion: he’d better let Zhong Qi continue holding him while sleeping.

Zhong Qi mooched off Lin Shiyu’s place for a few days. Eventually, Zhong Qi’s family couldn’t sit still and came to the school.

After a scorching sun in the morning, rain began to fall again in the sweltering afternoon. Qin Man carried a green snakeskin bag, held a floral umbrella, and wore a fitted knee-length pleated black skirt, with her long hair remaining glossy and smooth even in the heat. Her nails were beautifully painted fresh red, but her meticulously maintained face was clouded with a stormy expression. Her eyes fixed on the students passing by the school gate until she spotted Zhong Qi’s figure.

Zhong Qi also saw his mother. His expression unchanged, he turned to Lin Shiyu and said, “You go back first.”

Lin Shiyu noticed this finely dressed woman blocking the school gate. He realized it was likely Zhong Qi’s mother was here to find him, and it probably wasn’t good news, judging by her rather intimidating expression.

Even so, Lin Shiyu should leave first. As he walked towards the bus stop, he glanced back and saw that Zhong Qi didn’t even take his bicycle, he simply walked away with his mother, leaving behind two silhouettes.

Qin Man hailed a ride by the roadside, arms folded and waiting. She cast a cold glance at Zhong Qi. “I see you’ve been having a good time outside, since you haven’t come home for days! How about you just move in with someone else?”

Zhong Qi was completely unfazed by her anger. Holding his umbrella as he stood by the roadside, he said, “Should I be going home just to hear you both discuss divorce?”

Qin Man frowned. “Did your dad tell you?”

“No, I guessed.”

“Let me tell you, Zhong Qi, it’s not me who wants a divorce, your dad insisted on divorcing me!” Qin Man trembled with anger at the mention of this, her once beautiful face gradually contorting. She lowered her voice and told Zhong Qi, “Your dad isn’t a good person! He’s been blinded by those messy women he has on the side. He actually said he wants to divorce me. Such a stupid man, I thought he was out there every day trying to earn money!”

Zhong Qi stood quietly in the rain, motionless, his gaze aimlessly falling not far away, but seeming to see and hear nothing.

“Does he think he’d be who he is without me? If it weren’t for me getting your grandfather to help him with his business, does he think his company could keep going? I’m out there every day supporting him. I have to work and make money, and I have to support you. I’m exhausted every day–”

“If you’re tired, just stop,” Zhong Qi interrupted coldly.

Qin Man stopped talking, looking incredulously at Zhong Qi. “What did you say?”

Lin Shiyu gripped the handle, watching the rain pour heavier outside the bus window. A mist covered the glass, adding to the crowded, stuffy and damp atmosphere inside.

The bus arrived at the subway station. Lin Shiyu got off with the crowd, opened his umbrella and walked up the sidewalk. He stopped hesitantly near the subway station entrance, looking across the road.

In the misty rain of Jiangbei, the clouds were light gray, and the sky was as clear as thin jade. Passing vehicles splashed the ground with the patter of water with each turn of their wheels, one after another.

Lin Shiyu stood on the roadside, thinking of Zhong Qi’s departing figure in the rain.

What would they talk about? Was Zhong Qi’s mother here to inform Zhong Qi of the divorce? If so, Zhong Qi might still be unwilling to go home.

Lin Shiyu silently reasoned with himself: If Zhong Qi didn’t go home today, he might come to his house to sleep. He probably wouldn’t be in the best mood. It would be good to make him something delicious…

Lin Shiyu stood still for a long time in the same spot, then turned on his tiptoes and raised his hand to flag down a taxi.

“Zhong Qi, come here.”

After getting out of the car, Qin Man didn’t go straight home but pulled Zhong Qi under the eaves of an office building near their community. She said, “Your dad’s at home now. When you go back, help Mom persuade him not to mention divorce again.”

Zhong Qi exhaled silently, a faint hint of weariness flickering in his eyes.

“Your dad treats marriage like child’s play, saying he’ll leave whenever he wants. I can’t go along with his antics. If we divorce, what will others say about me? I’m a department head in an electric power company. If we divorce, the whole company will mock me, and people in the neighborhood will look down on me! Your dad will be free, but what about me? As a divorced woman, how will I live?”

Zhong Qi looked at her. “Is that all you’re thinking about?”

“What?”

“As soon as divorce is mentioned, all you think about is losing face.” Zhong Qi smiled, but his eyes remained cold. “You haven’t considered your son’s feelings at all.”

Qin Man’s face changed. A trace of embarrassment flashed in her eyes. “What are you saying? Mom knows you’re upset, that’s why I asked you to talk to Dad about the divorce.”

Zhong Qi replied frankly, “No. I’d be upset if you two don’t divorce.”

Qin Man was taken aback at first, then immediately became angry. “You’ve been saying these strange things since earlier! Do you even understand how serious divorce is? Splitting assets, property, hiring lawyers, do you know how much money it costs? With your dad’s stinginess, he won’t even spend a few thousand on a good tie. How much do you think he’ll give me? He might not even want to give your mom the house! When the time comes, as a woman, I won’t even have a place to live. Won’t others gossip behind my back every day? Do you understand, Zhong Qi? Do you know that I’ll be the one who ends up suffering?!”

Zhong Qi calmly said, “Your monthly salary starts at 20,000. Grandpa and Grandma left you two houses. You bought another one in a new community. My dad’s educational consulting company is named after you. There are two cars at home, one of which you drive yourself. After the divorce, all of this will be yours.”

 “You—”

 “Mom, I don’t want to calculate the division of assets between you and my dad here, it’s meaningless.” Zhong Qi seemed tired. He closed his eyes briefly, then opened them again. “I just don’t want to come home every day after school to sit alone at the dinner table eating takeout, with no one to talk to. I am at home all day long, pretending to be happy, when you and my dad don’t even look at each other when you are in the same house.”

It was rare for Zhong Qi to speak so much. He wanted to be completely honest with his mom about his thoughts over the years. 

Qin Man stared blankly at Zhong Qi, then suddenly contorted her face, grabbing her bag and swinging it towards Zhong Qi. “Pretending to be happy? Who do you think I do it for, Zhong Qi?! It’s all for you! Do you think I really want to be with your dad, that poor and stingy boss? He makes so little money every day and isn’t willing to spend any on me. Why do you think I haven’t divorced him all these years? It’s all for you to have a father and a mother!”

The woman’s angry scream was attracting the attention of passersby. Zhong Qi stood still as his mom went wild, hitting him with her bag. He thought he would be angry, but instead, he felt more mockery and exhaustion. His family had long been distorted, with huge cracks hidden under a seemingly harmonious facade.

Zhong Qi said, “If you two divorce, I’ll still have parents. There’s no need to do it for me.”

“Zhong Qi! Are you still my son? Are you hoping for your mom to divorce? What did your dad tell you, huh?!” Qin Man, devoid of her usual elegance and composure, her hair disheveled, eyes red with anger and bloodshot, pointed at Zhong Qi and cursed both the father and the son for lacking conscience and gratitude. She exclaimed her father was a top official and that many had wanted to marry her. Then she turned on Zhong Qi, accusing him of embarrassing her by never ranking first in his grades, never becoming a school overachiever, and never earning any awards she could show off.

“You’re all unfit to show your faces in public and yet want me to get a divorce! Why should I be bullied like this?!” Qin Man yanked Zhong Qi’s backpack off his shoulder, scattering textbooks, notebooks, and pens all over the ground. “What books are you reading? Stop studying if this is what you’re learning! Stop embarrassing yourself in school!”

With a loud crash, homework, textbooks, and papers flew everywhere. Qin Man vented her frustration, throwing Zhong Qi’s backpack on the ground like a complete madwoman. “Do you still have the face to go to school?!”

The lightweight papers fell onto the wet cement and were quickly soaked by the pouring rain, saturating them.

Zhong Qi looked at the papers, books, and backpack scattered on the ground. Onlookers stopped to watch the scene unfold.

In a split second, emotions tightened into a sharp, thin thread, ready to snap, yet in the next moment, all spikes dissipated into calmness.

Zhong Qi said, “Fine, I won’t go anymore.”

Water droplets fell from the dripping umbrella. Lin Shiyu stood at the entrance of a convenience store near the residential area. He saw Zhong Qi not so far away, his backpack pulled off and his books strewn all over the ground. Zhong Qi remained silent, then walked away into the gated rich community, leaving behind his discarded backpack. Shiyu watched Zhong Qi’s mother stand there panting for a moment before leaving angrily.

Only the mess remained in the rain.

Lin Shiyu stood dazed for a moment, then suddenly snapped out of it, rushing to the entrance of the community with his umbrella, crouching down to pick up the scattered books.

He hurriedly picked up everything, worried the rain would ruin Zhong Qi’s notebooks. Lin Shiyu gathered all the scattered papers and pens, soaking one side of his shoulder due to the rain, but paid no attention to it. He picked up Zhong Qi’s backpack and shook off the rainwater.

He flipped through Zhong Qi’s notebook. It was a biology notebook, and most of the pages were soaked, making Zhong Qi’s neat handwriting blurry.

Lin Shiyu smoothed out the creased corners of the book, put everything he picked up back into Zhong Qi’s backpack, then carried the wet backpack home.

While Lin Hui cooked in the kitchen, she heard Lin Shiyu rush in, followed by the sound of the washing machine. Lin Hui was curious and raised her voice: “Little Shiyu, what are you washing?”

From the living room came Lin Shiyu’s muffled voice, “The rain got my clothes dirty, just washing them.”

During dinner, Lin Hui noticed her son was absent-minded. He quickly finished a bowl of food and left the table without touching the rest. Lin Hui was concerned and followed him to the door of his room. “Little Shiyu, what’s wrong?”

Lin Shiyu, with his back turned, sat at his desk. He turned on a desk lamp, and lowered his head to write something. “Nothing, just a lot of homework to catch up on.”

After Lin Hui left, Lin Shiyu took out a hairdryer and set it on the lowest setting, patiently drying each wet page of the textbooks that had suffered damage. After drying them as much as he could, he set them aside, turned off the hairdryer, and picked up Zhong Qi’s biology notes, which were almost completely ruined. Many of the ink marks were blurred beyond recognition, even after he dried the paper.

Despite not having filled many pages in his notebook since the beginning of the school year, Zhong Qi’s notes were still very important to a high school student. Every time he and Lin Shiyu encountered difficult problems while studying, Zhong Qi wouldn’t flip through thick textbooks but simply glance through his own notes, easily discussing them with Lin Shiyu.

Lin Shiyu held the notebook in silence for a while, then bent down and rummaged through a drawer until he found a brand new notebook. He spread it open, turned Zhong Qi’s notebook to the first page under the desk lamp, and started copying.

At eleven o’clock that night, Lin Hui came out for a drink of water and saw light seeping from the gap in Lin Shiyu’s room door. She was a bit surprised. She walked over and gently knocked on the door. “Little Shiyu, are you still not asleep?”

A reply came from inside: “I’ll sleep after finishing my homework.”

Holding her cup, Lin Hui wondered why there was so much homework today and advised, “If you can’t finish, it’s okay. Go to bed early.”

“Okay.”

In the bedroom, Lin Shiyu was bent over his desk, with Zhong Qi’s notebook and biology textbook spread out in front of him, carefully copying them into the new notebook. Some parts of Zhong Qi’s notebook were too blurred from the water damage, and Lin Shiyu couldn’t make out the words. When he couldn’t deduce what was written, he had to refer to the biology textbook, looking up each part according to the contents and then writing it down.

This was quite a challenging task for him, but Lin Shiyu was diligent and patient.

He hoped that tomorrow, when Zhong Qi saw his clean backpack and books, he would feel a bit better.

 

 

Edited by: Jaisland

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