Wolf Cub – Chapter 63

The next day, Zhong Qi didn’t come to school, nor did he come on the third or fourth day.

Gao Jie and Mao Silu wailed, joking that their Brother Qi might have been kidnapped to be the school hunk at another school. Only Lin Shiyu didn’t join in their antics, lying listlessly on his desk, daydreaming.

Zhong Qi’s backpack was still in the drawer.

“Brother Shiyu, Brother Shiyu!” Shen Ziyi ran over and sat in Zhong Qi’s seat, shaking Lin Shiyu. “Why hasn’t our Brother Qi come to school for so long? Do you know why?”

Tao Chen also came over, standing by the desk with a worried look.

“I don’t know.” Lin Shiyu didn’t intend to talk about Zhong Qi’s argument with his mom.

Shen Ziyi was anxious. “Oh, he doesn’t reply to messages either. It’s driving me crazy. We planned to go see the fireworks show together tonight.”

Lin Shiyu was taken aback. “What fireworks show?”

“The fireworks show at Hankou Riverside. It’s held once a year and is really beautiful. If you don’t go two hours early, you can’t get a spot.” Shen Ziyi said excitedly, “It’s like the fireworks festivals in Japanese animations. Brother Shiyu, let’s go see it together.”

Tao Chen softly added, “Shiyu, can you contact Zhong Qi?”

Lin Shiyu glanced at Tao Chen, then looked away. “I’ll try.”

“Great, Brother Shiyu! You have to invite Brother Qi. We’ll meet at the riverside at eight tonight to watch the fireworks.”

Lin Shiyu took out his phone, turned on the screen, then turned it off, turned it on again, then off again.

If Zhong Qi wasn’t replying to the others’ messages, he probably wouldn’t reply to his either.

Thinking this, Lin Shiyu put his phone back in his pocket and started packing his backpack to go home.

When he opened the drawer, he saw Zhong Qi’s backpack sitting quietly inside. Lin Shiyu stared at it for a while, then seemed to make a decision and took the backpack out of the drawer.

I’ll try ringing the doorbell at Zhong Qi’s house, Lin Shiyu told himself. It’s just delivering a backpack, and maybe asking if he wants to see the fireworks tonight. It’s not a big deal.

He took a deep breath, pushed aside his hesitation, and mustered the courage to pick up the backpack and walk out of the classroom.

Just as he reached the staircase and was about to go downstairs, Lin Shiyu saw three people coming out of the physics, chemistry, and biology office: Old Li, Zhong Qi, and a tall, well-dressed man.

The man’s high nose and thin lips were identical to Zhong Qi’s.

That was Zhong Qi’s dad.

All three saw Lin Shiyu. Old Li hesitated briefly while Zhong Qi stared at Lin Shiyu, then at the backpack in his arms, without saying a word.

Lin Shiyu felt extremely nervous for a moment, but he quickly calmed down and, bracing himself, walked up to them and handed the backpack to Zhong Qi. “This is yours.”

Zhong Qi remained silent for a while before taking the backpack and holding it in his hand.

Lin Shiyu glanced up at him, caught his cool, emotionless gaze, then instinctively looked away. He noticed Old Li and Zhong Qi’s dad watching him with puzzled expressions, hurriedly bowed to them, and turned to go downstairs.

As he descended, Lin Shiyu vaguely heard a conversation between Old Li and Zhong Qi’s dad.

“…It’s better for Zhong Qi to move to a different place…”

“I understand…”

Lin Shiyu hurried down the stairs, his steps a bit unsteady. Move to a different place? What does that mean? Are Zhong Qi and his family moving?

Moving to where? Lin Shiyu’s mind was a mess, but he thought, it’s okay, even if he moves, they’ll still be in the same class. But what if they move far away? If they leave Wuchang District, he might have to transfer to a different high school, and then they wouldn’t be neighbors or classmates anymore.

Lin Shiyu couldn’t help but think of the family that lived downstairs before, who also moved away after the parents divorced. The mother took the child to live with relatives in another province, never to return.

Would Zhong Qi go that far away?

When he reached the ground floor, his shoes hitting the cement, Lin Shiyu suddenly felt a sharp pang in his heart, leading to an indescribable dull ache.

Anxiety bubbled up like a balloon, filling his chest and making it hard to breathe. Lin Shiyu realized he couldn’t bear to think about ‘what if Zhong Qi leaves?’ The mere thought of it made his hands and feet go cold.

Lin Shiyu tried to steady his breathing and walked forward aimlessly and mechanically.

A small voice inside him kept shouting: Don’t let this happen.

However, he didn’t know who it was for.

Suddenly, a hand grabbed his arm from behind, so forcefully that Lin Shiyu stumbled and turned around.

He saw Zhong Qi standing behind him, looking down at him, his dark eyes deep as the night sky behind clouds.

“You saw it?” Zhong Qi asked.

Lin Shiyu’s mind was too slow to react. He stared blankly at Zhong Qi, but then a spark of understanding flashed in his empty mind, and he realized what Zhong Qi was referring to.

Lin Shiyu’s tongue felt dry, but he nodded and said, “Yes.”

He admitted he had seen Zhong Qi arguing with his mother.

After a long, unbearable silence, Zhong Qi lifted the backpack in his hand and held it in front of Lin Shiyu, his voice indifferent, “What does this mean, do you pity me?”

Lin Shiyu lowered his eyes, ignoring the sting in his heart. “The monthly exams are coming up. It would be inconvenient without your textbooks and notes.”

Then he heard Zhong Qi chuckle lightly, but the sound was as cold as ice, without any humor.

Zhong Qi lowered his hand and said, “It doesn’t matter, I’m not taking the exams anyway.”

Lin Shiyu suddenly looked up, but only caught a glimpse of Zhong Qi’s retreating figure. Ahead of them, a black car was parked, with Zhong Qi’s father in the driver’s seat, smoking. When he flicked his cigarette, he turned his head and looked over with a puzzled expression.

The summer wind rustled through the trees, making the leaves rustle. Lin Shiyu watched helplessly as Zhong Qi’s figure grew more distant. Ignoring Zhong Qi’s father’s gaze, Lin Shiyu was overwhelmed with shock and confusion, making his feet feel like they were glued to the ground. His eyes followed the departing figure, and the voice in his heart grew louder and louder—

Zhong Qi.

Zhong Qi…!

“Zhong Qi.”

The wind quickly swept by, taking away the faint, whispered echo.

With a click, the desk lamp turned on.

After his shower, Zhong Qi sat down on the chair, ignoring his vibrating phone, and leaned back, exhaling a breath.

Then he saw the backpack on the desk.

He stared at the clean backpack for a moment, then got up and picked it up.

Unzipping the backpack, he took out two textbooks. The pages were wrinkled, showing the fragile texture of having been wet and then dried. Zhong Qi set the textbooks aside and took out his biology notebook, flipping through it. As expected, there were only a few legible pages, most having been ruined by water.

Then he found another notebook at the bottom of the backpack, one he had never used. Zhong Qi took it out and opened it.

His eyes and hands froze.

More than half of the pages were filled with biology notes from the beginning of high school to the present. Lin Shiyu’s handwriting wasn’t neat, resembling a child’s scrawl, each stroke slightly rounded. Zhong Qi’s movements slowed as he flipped through the notebook.

It was identical. From the sequence of knowledge points to the diagrams in the margins and the small notes at the bottom of the pages, Lin Shiyu had meticulously copied every detail into the new notebook.

The old notebook had many sections where the writing was too blurred to read. Zhong Qi couldn’t imagine how long Lin Shiyu had spent comparing his notes and textbooks, painstakingly copying every word into the new notebook.

Zhong Qi closed the notebook, interlocking his fingers against his forehead, and his knuckles cracked audibly.

At nine in the evening, Hankou Riverside was crowded with people.

“Shiyu, Shiyu, don’t walk alone. You might get lost.” Mao Silu squeezed through the crowd and grabbed Lin Shiyu’s wrist. “Come over here.”

The group from Class 7 was noisily weaving through the crowd to watch the fireworks, with Lin Shiyu trailing behind. Mao Silu turned back, saw that Lin Shiyu was missing, and came back to find him. Ruan Zhikai followed behind him, walking on either side of Lin Shiyu to keep him from getting separated again.

Ruan Zhikai asked, “Why do you look so unhappy when we’re out having fun?”

Lin Shiyu replied, “I’m not unhappy.”

“Yeah, right. Everyone else is looking up at the fireworks, and you’re staring at the ground.”

Mao Silu put his arm around Lin Shiyu’s shoulders. “Shiyu, are you upset because Zhong Qi hasn’t been to school for a few days?”

Although Mao Silu was usually goofy, he sometimes hit the nail on the head without realizing it. Lin Shiyu was speechless for a while, then weakly protested, “Why would I be upset because he hasn’t been to school?”

“You two are close. If Kai Kai didn’t come to school for a few days, I’d be bored too.”

“Bored, my foot. You could play basketball with any random person all day and forget about me.”

“No way! I’d only play half a day with a random person. I’d play a whole day with you.”

The two started bickering again, and Lin Shiyu stepped aside, letting them argue.

The night sky exploded with fireworks, their bright light reflecting off the river, drawing exclamations from the crowd. Lin Shiyu looked up at the colorful fireworks falling like a shower of stars, his eyes reflecting the bright display.

Yet his heart didn’t share in the excitement of the scene. The people around him felt like unfamiliar fish swimming by, vanishing without a trace. Everyone had someone with them. Even though he came with his classmates, he felt like he was alone, drifting aimlessly with the massive crowd.

He wanted to go back. Lin Shiyu looked at the fireworks for a while, then looked away, silently thinking.

His eyes swept over the crowd and he froze. A familiar figure came into view, and it took Lin Shiyu a few seconds to react and turn back to search for it.

Did he see wrong? It should be a mistake, there’s no way it could be such a coincidence…

Then Lin Shiyu saw Zhong Qi again.

They were separated by the crowded, noisy throng. The distinctive humid heat of summer was blown away by the river breeze, bringing a bit of coolness. Zhong Qi, wearing a loose black short-sleeved shirt and cropped pants, with short black hair blending into the bright summer night lights, his dark eyes locked on Lin Shiyu through the crowd.

Lin Shiyu stared at him in a dream-like daze until the people from Class 7 suddenly started shouting, “Hey! Is that Brother Qi?”

“Brother Qi! You finally came!”

“Brother Qi, Brother Qi, coming so late, you owe us a treat!”

A group of people cheered and squeezed over to surround Zhong Qi, clamoring for him to treat them. Zhong Qi, surrounded by the crowd, still stood out due to his height. He seemed to smile and then glanced at Lin Shiyu.

“Later,” Zhong Qi said. “I need to talk to Lin Shiyu.”

Everyone was stunned, and Tao Chen’s happy expression quickly faded upon hearing this. She watched, puzzled, as Zhong Qi left them and walked over to Lin Shiyu, who hadn’t joined the crowd, and reached out to hold his hand.

Tao Chen blinked lightly, staring at their joined hands. Zhong Qi’s fingers gripped tightly, the firm hold of Lin Shiyu’s hand unbreakable.

In front of everyone, Zhong Qi led Lin Shiyu away, their figures disappearing into the crowd.

Who knows how much time passed.

Ruan Zhikai exclaimed, “Huh?!”

Gao Jie asked, “Is that what I think it is? Does anyone else think the same as me?”

Shen Ziyi said, “I might be thinking the same as you…”

Chen Xiaoxin added, “Me too.”

Mao Silu asked, “What? Thinking the same about what?”

With a “boom!” fireworks exploded, leaving fleeting sparks on the flowing surface of the Yangtze River.

Lin Shiyu was led by Zhong Qi through the people and shops. Zhong Qi’s tall figure shielded him from the crowd, keeping him from being jostled. As they passed through the bustling street, the surroundings grew quieter, and the crowd thinned out.

Sweat trickled down Lin Shiyu’s neck, sliding into his sweaty collarbone. He felt hot. The heat was trapped in his body, speeding up his heartbeat and causing his brain to feel oxygen-deprived. Zhong Qi held him so tightly that his fingers felt crushed.

“Zhong Qi,” Lin Shiyu finally found his voice. “Where are you going?”

The bright street scenery of the riverside receded rapidly, replaced by the dense, dark shadows of trees in a park, with fewer people around. Only the sound of their footsteps on the gravel path remained.

“Zhong Qi,” Lin Shiyu called out again, feeling inexplicably anxious. “Where are we going–”

Rounding a standing wall, Lin Shiyu only had time to see a row of tall bamboo and a pavilion corridor before he was pressed against the wall, his shoulder hitting it hard.

Caught off guard, Lin Shiyu was held by Zhong Qi, who forcefully grasped his jaw, making him lift his face and stare in shock.

Zhong Qi was close, their breaths mingling. He looked down at Lin Shiyu’s eyes, his voice deep and husky, touched by the heat.

“I’m looking for a place to kiss you.”

When Zhong Qi’s lips and tongue pressed down, Lin Shiyu’s body tensed instinctively, his teeth about to bite down. Zhong Qi forcefully parted his mouth, causing Lin Shiyu to whimper in pain. He tried to push Zhong Qi away, but Zhong Qi’s grip on his chin was like iron, immobilizing him. Lin Shiyu had to tilt his head back and open his mouth, allowing Zhong Qi to kiss him fiercely.

Each time Zhong Qi’s tongue brushed against his teeth, making wet sounds, Lin Shiyu felt as if he were being electrocuted, his body numb and his oxygen depleted by the burning heat. His first kiss was an overwhelming invasion, turning his pale face bright red.

Just before he suffocated, Zhong Qi finally let him go with a wet sound.

Lin Shiyu’s limbs went weak, but Zhong Qi pressed him against the wall, supporting him by his sweaty waist with his knee between Lin Shiyu’s legs, preventing him from sliding down.

They were both breathing heavily. Lin Shiyu, looking bullied with a disheveled collar and hair, his neck and cheeks flushed red, had his clear eyes shimmering with tears, his lips red and swollen from the kiss.

It felt unreal. Zhong Qi was kissing him, but why?

Another burst of fireworks lit up the distant sky, scattering star-like lights.

As the fireworks faded, their mingled breaths slowed, and Zhong Qi turned Lin Shiyu’s flushed, sweaty face and kissed him again.

“—!” Lin Shiyu, feeling humiliated, grabbed Zhong Qi’s shirt and tried to struggle, but Zhong Qi held him tightly, pressing his hand into Lin Shiyu’s skin, nearly leaving bruises. Lin Shiyu’s throat was pinned, his lungs forcefully deprived of oxygen. Tears streamed from his eyes, and he finally clutched Zhong Qi’s wrist, making a whimpering sound like a plea for help.

Their lips and tongues suddenly parted, and fresh air quickly filled Lin Shiyu’s lungs. He breathed rapidly, feeling a strong dizziness due to the lack of blood flow to his brain, as he felt Zhong Qi grab his wrist and draw closer with his hot breath.

“…Don’t,” Lin Shiyu managed to swallow his saliva, turning his face to avoid Zhong Qi’s breath. When he spoke, his voice trembled a bit. “Don’t kiss me… I can’t breathe.”

Zhong Qi seemed to dislike Lin Shiyu avoiding him. He reached out, turned Lin Shiyu’s face back, and gently kissed the corner of his mouth, a kiss as light as a feather compared to the previous rough and forceful ones.

“I’ll be gentler.” Zhong Qi stroked Lin Shiyu’s face, his voice hoarse and content. “Does this feel better?”

In the darkness, leaning against the quiet wall, Lin Shiyu gradually calmed down under Zhong Qi’s soothing kisses. His back was pressed tightly against the wall, and he almost submissively accepted Zhong Qi’s kiss.

Then Zhong Qi’s low voice sounded in his ear. “Lin Shiyu, let’s be together.”


Edited by: Jaisland



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