At first, the news of Yu Xinqiao pursuing Xu Yanhuan only circulated within a small circle.
The most shocked were Liang Yi and Shen Daye, but their focuses were different.
Liang Yi: "You actually like guys!?"
Shen Daye: "Xu Yanhuan is so fierce-looking, always wearing a gloomy face. What do you see in him?"
Yu Xinqiao replied straightforwardly, "Yeah, I'm gay. He's not fierce-looking, he's a handsome gloomy guy."
Liang Yi, a conservative male high school student from a third-tier city, couldn't believe there was a gay guy around him. He Tangyue provided him with a popular science lesson on the animated series they watched as kids. When he learned that Xuetu and Taoyi were in love, it seemed like his beliefs were crumbling, and he felt uneasy.
"But...but they're just good friends, right?"
He Tangyue showed him screenshots from the animation and said, "Would you feed each other and pinch each other's cheeks with your good friends?"
Liang Yi looked at Shen Da Ye and hesitated, "Feeding each other isn't a big deal. We often do that, but as for pinching cheeks..."
Shen Daye had a premonition and quickly jumped back, saying, "Don't come near me!"
He Tangyue laughed uncontrollably, "Why are you guys so gay gay?"
During class, Liang Yi passed a small note to Yu Xinqiao: Are you really pursuing him?
Yu Xinqiao responded with a funny doodle of a shy face, indicating confirmation.
Liang Yi asked again: So, do you want to be Xuetu or Taoyi?
Damn! He was already concerned about whether his brother was a 0 or a 1.
After thinking for a moment, Yu Xinqiao replied: If I have to choose, then it's Taoyi.
Because Taoyi looks so tender and cute, Yu Xinqiao also wants to pinch his cheeks.
This time, Liang Yi's reply was very encouraging: Well done, no wonder you're my bro! Go for it!! Take down Xu Xuetu in no time!!!
The main contradiction at the moment is not about taking him down in minutes or seconds but whether Xu Yanhuan can accept a guy being interested in him.
He Tangyue, who had been in the same school as Xu Yanhuan since middle school, said that she had never seen Xu Yanhuan in a romantic relationship with anyone on this planet all these years. This situation could either mean that he's having a secret affair and hiding it well or he hasn't developed romantic feelings yet, despite being so handsome.
Yu Xinqiao thought the first scenario was unlikely. Based on observations, Xu Yanhuan didn't even have a cell phone, so how would he stay in touch with a partner? Moreover, he attended classes and worked on weekends, leaving no time for a relationship.
That left the second scenario, that he hadn't awakened to romance.
After all, how could there be a guy who isn't curious about the contents of a love letter? If it were Yu Xinqiao himself, even if he didn't open it directly, he would find a stall in the restroom and secretly read it.
And besides, Xu Yanhuan didn't refuse.
Thinking that the love letter he wrote was already in Xu Yanhuan's bag, Yu Xinqiao's confidence soared, feeling that his chances of success were high.
Awakening to romance can happen in an instant. Maybe with a little more effort, he could win over this handsome guy and hold his head high in front of Mrs. Yao.
Dreams are abundant, but reality can be disappointing. Some efforts are destined to take time before yielding results.
Yu Xinqiao was an action-oriented person. He went online and found "Twenty Little Techniques You Must Master to Pursue Someone," printed it out, and stuck it by his bedside, strictly following the instructions.
For example, waking up five minutes earlier every day and buying breakfast on the way to school, placing it on Xu Yanhuan's desk before other classmates arrive. Even though Xu Yanhuan didn't even glance at it, the breakfast ended up in the stomach of the student in front of him every time.
Another example is to cater to his interests. Yu Xinqiao bought a basketball and shared the same basketball court with Xu Yanhuan after school. He applauded enthusiastically when Xu Yanhuan made a three-pointer, only to be hit on the head by a stray basketball, leaving him sitting on the ground unable to get up for a while.
For example, in order to improve himself, Yu Xinqiao persisted in attending classes attentively without sleeping, but ended up with eyes staring like copper bells and his soul drifting away. After class, he inevitably received a page of completely incomprehensible ghostly notes.
In order to show his love for sports, Yu Xinqiao even tearfully attended the physical education class. Unexpectedly, this class was practicing long jump. Due to his cleanliness obsession, Yu Xinqiao was worried about sand getting into his shoes. After a quick run-up, he leaped and landed on the edge of the sand pit with a zero score, and was punished by the physical education teacher to run five laps around the playground.
While panting and running, Yu Xinqiao didn't forget to make a heart gesture to the crowd, causing laughter around the playground.
Liang Yi and Shen Daye exchanged a knowing look and both looked in the same direction. They saw Xu Yanhuan standing with his hands in his pockets, expressionless and indifferent.
After more than a week of struggling, Yu Xinqiao not only did not give up, but became more courageous as he was challenged. In the first 17 years of his life, he was always the one being pursued. When he first pursued someone, he encountered great difficulty, which stimulated his hidden desire to conquer and his competitiveness.
It was like when he wanted to learn piano. His mother thought he was too impulsive to persist, but he insisted on playing and wanted everyone to know that "if I can't do it, who else can?" Once he made up his mind, the whole world would help him.
He deeply understood the meaning of this sentence at the second-hand piano store in the wholesale market on the weekend. Yu Xinqiao spotted a Yamaha upright piano in good condition. Just as he was passionately playing a piece by Bach, he lifted his head and saw a familiar figure.
Students from Xuncheng No. 2 High School generally do not wear school uniforms on weekends, except for those from families with poor conditions. Xu Yanhuan was wearing a white short-sleeved T-shirt and blue school pants, which seemed inconspicuous but unexpectedly eye-catching. As soon as he entered the market, he was greeted by the owners of two shops, who asked him to help unload goods.
At this time, it was the peak period of goods entering and leaving the market. If he met a boss with a large amount of goods and in a hurry, he might be able to earn some extra hourly wages.
Xu Yanhuan first went to the store that sold wholesale drinks. Just as he finished carrying two boxes back and forth, the middle-aged and well-fed fat boss came over and asked casually, "Xiao Xu, how did the problem with Lao Liu's barbecue stall get resolved?"
He was referring to the incident last week when they were chased by loan sharks at the barbecue stall.
"Lao Liu said there was no loss and he didn't ask me for compensation," Xu Yanhuan said, lifting the box in his hand. "I plan to work for Lao Liu for free for a couple of days."
The fat boss nodded, seemingly reassured. Before leaving, he warned, "I think those people may still come after you, so be careful."
Xu Yanhuan understood that he needed to be careful not for himself, but for the goods he was carrying.
As he carefully placed the box in the shop, in that instant of turning around, Xu Yanhuan collided with a gaze aimed towards him. Seeing the person sitting by the piano in the opposite store, Xu Yanhuan calmly and deliberately adjusted his face mask.
Upon seeing this, Yu Xinqiao couldn't help but feel speechless. Does he think I won't recognize him if he wears a mask?
Feeling a bit annoyed, Yu Xinqiao snorted, turned his face away, and continued playing. However, his thoughts were no longer on the piano. He played a short piece and couldn't help but look outside, calculating in his mind—
If one box of 24 bottles of orange juice, each bottle being 500 milliliters, is considered, then one box weighs 24 kilograms. Three boxes stacked together would be 72 kilograms. Impressive strength, young hero!
Looking again, there were six layers of stacked boxes, with five boxes on each layer, making it 30 x 24 = 720 bottles. That would be enough to drink one bottle per day for two years!
The owner of the piano store, surnamed Huang, stayed up late watching a match yesterday and now he's extremely sleepy. He slept on the recliner at the entrance and woke up to see a customer in the store, a music enthusiast who came twice to buy a piano. The enthusiast's neck seemed to have been stretched like a giraffe's, with his hands still on the piano keys, but his eyes were fixated on the young man moving goods outside.
Leisurely getting up and lighting a cigarette, Mr. Huang stood at the entrance and glanced across with the young pianist. While exhaling a puff of white smoke, he suddenly said, "Do you like him?"
Yu Xinqiao, who was caught off guard, reacted like a cat with its tail stepped on. His fingers uncontrollably played a series of random notes.
Still trying to save face and appear calm, he said, "No," but his ears turned red with embarrassment.
An hour later, Yu Xinqiao chose the Yamaha piano he had initially tried. After paying the bill, Mr. Huang, along with a worker, carefully wrapped the piano in a soft cloth. Then, they brought a pickup truck and called the neighboring shop owner to help. Together, they lifted the piano onto the truck.
Worried about the piano getting damaged, Yu Xinqiao supervised the whole process. Mr. Huang asked if he wanted to go with the truck, and of course, he agreed.
However, the pickup truck only had two seats, one for Mr. Huang and one for the worker, leaving no available seats.
"Where should I sit?" Yu Xinqiao questioned.
Mr. Huang extended his thumb and pointed to the back. Yu Xinqiao looked at the truck bed, which was already occupied by the piano, taking up most of the space. "Sit here? Won't we get caught by the traffic police?" he asked.
"We'll take a side road," Mr. Huang, with his experienced tone, replied. "Even if there are traffic police, just lie down and make sure they don't see you."
Yu Xinqiao climbed up with skepticism and found a piece of stiff cardboard to sit on before taking his seat.
The vehicle moved unsteadily towards the outskirts of the market. Yu Xinqiao overheard Mr. Huang talking to the worker about needing one more person, as at least three people were required to move the piano.
"Doesn't that make three people, including me?" Yu Xinqiao asked.
Mr. Huang turned around, glanced at him through the glass, and with a disdainful expression said, "You don't count."
Yu Xinqiao: "..."
They continued to search for "strong men."
Xu Yanhuan had just finished moving for two households and was planning to find the next one when he saw Mr. Huang, who had been absent from the store for twenty-nine days, slowly driving his pickup truck. Mr. Huang reached his hand out of the window and waved, saying, "Do you have time, Xiao Xu?"
Having helped Mr. Huang move pianos several times before, Xu Yanhuan agreed on the price. He stretched his long legs and climbed onto the back of the truck.
Only after getting on did he realize there were other people present.
He didn't expect someone like Yu Xinqiao to be sitting in this kind of vehicle. He looked too much like a delicate and troublesome rich young master.
In fact, it was true. Xu Yanhuan had witnessed Yu Xinqiao throwing a pair of dirty shoes, worn during a physical education class, into the trash bin and coming to school the next day wearing another pair of the same style but in a different color.
He had seen those shoes in the store where he worked. They had a price tag starting with a figure in the thousands, equivalent to their family's food expenses for a year.
Naturally, he didn't believe such a person could be sincere.
It was merely a matter of finding it novel, entertaining, and using money or other benefits to exchange for the vain satisfaction of taming others.
Xu Yanhuan had encountered too many people like that, and Yu Xinqiao was just one of them.
With these thoughts in mind, Xu Yanhuan found an empty spot, bent his legs, and sat down. He supported the piano with one hand and leaned against the railing, intentionally avoiding any communication.
Meanwhile, Yu Xinqiao was thinking, "I've been pursuing him for several days. He can't still not know my name, right?"
As the vehicle traveled on the smooth road, Yu Xinqiao held onto one of the piano legs and moved closer to Xu Yanhuan's direction. "What a coincidence, Huan, classmate Xu," he said.
Xu Yanhuan didn't turn around or speak. Yu Xinqiao thought he hadn't heard and moved closer again, saying, "Have you eaten?"
Still no response.
Through these past few days of observation, Yu Xinqiao knew that Xu Yanhuan had this indifferent attitude towards everyone. Instead of getting discouraged, Yu Xinqiao became even more interested and started talking to himself.
"I came here to buy a piano. Originally, Xiao Yi and Grandpa were supposed to come with me, but they got caught and were taken to write on the blackboard unexpectedly."
"You're close with Mr. Huang, right? He's a good person. The price he gave me was really reasonable."
"Do you work here often? Don't worry, I haven't told anyone about you working outside of school."
Xu Yanhuan pretended not to hear the long string of comments until Yu Xinqiao suddenly sat up straight. "By the way, aren't you afraid of dogs? Are you afraid of that kind of dog?" he asked.
Upon hearing about dogs, Xu Yanhuan glanced in the direction Yu Xinqiao pointed. On the sidewalk by the road, he saw a burly man walking a small-sized Bichon Frise that contrasted greatly with him.
Just how small was it? It didn't seem to weigh more than four pounds, bone and fur included.
Xu Yanhuan didn't feel like talking even more.
However, Yu Xinqiao felt encouraged by his reaction and grew bolder.
At this point, they had reached the bustling city center, surrounded by noise. What Yu Xinqiao was about to say next was quite important, so he leaned even further forward. "Did you read the love letter I gave you?" he asked.
As he spoke, a warm breath brushed against the edge of Xu Yanhuan's ear. His shoulder involuntarily twitched, and just as he was about to move away, a piercing horn suddenly sounded.
Simultaneously, an abrupt brake turned into an invisible hand that pulled the two people in the truck bed backward and forcefully pushed them forward. In his haste, Xu Yanhuan immediately lunged forward, using his body to shield the piano, especially the side near the railing.
The piano was protected, but it wasn't secured. In case of any impact, Mr. Huang's efforts would likely have been in vain.
As for the other person in the truck bed...
Xu Yanhuan shifted his gaze and saw a furry head pressed against his right shoulder.
Yu Xinqiao opened his arms in an embracing gesture, protecting Xu Yanhuan on both sides of his body, his eyes wide with nervousness. "Are you okay? Did you get hurt anywhere?"
After safely transporting the piano into Yu Xinqiao's home, Mr. Huang explained that an electric scooter had crossed the road against the red light just now. If he hadn't hit the brakes in time, they might have been taken away by the traffic police, piano and all.
The worker sitting in the passenger seat still had lingering fear. "And you have the nerve to say that. That sudden brake almost threw me out of the truck."
Mr. Huang said, "The two people and the piano in the truck bed are perfectly fine. You were wearing a seatbelt, so what's there to be afraid of?"
Yu Xinqiao, who was covering the newly purchased piano with a dust cover, turned his head upon hearing this and said seriously, "It's not just about the piano being damaged. What if someone got hurt?"
Mr. Huang smiled apologetically and assured them that he would be more careful in the future.
Before the group left, Yu Xinqiao shouted to hold on and rummaged through the coffee table cabinet in the living room. He hurriedly ran to the entrance, carrying something.
After moving the piano inside, Xu Yanhuan went outside to wait. By now, he was starting to get impatient. When he saw Yu Xinqiao reaching out to touch his arm, he instinctively dodged and moved away.
Yu Xinqiao's hand touched nothing, but he didn't get angry. He rolled up the object in his hand and stuffed it into Xu Yanhuan's pants pocket. Then, he pointed at Xu Yanhuan's hand and said, "You take care of it yourself."
Xu Yanhuan lowered his head and saw a small red mark on the back of his right hand where the skin had been scraped by the door frame while moving the piano.
Yu Xinqiao was also looking at it and made a sympathetic noise, as if feeling the pain for him. He couldn't help adding, "Don't forget, okay?"
On the way back, Xu Yanhuan sat in the passenger seat.
When he closed the car door and fastened his seatbelt, he felt a bulge in his pocket. He took it out and saw a roll of band-aids.
Mr. Huang, in the driver's seat, leaned over and looked, smiling with a meaningful expression. "Are you two classmates?"
Xu Yanhuan put the band-aids back in his pocket and looked ahead without much expression. "Drive."
Mr. Huang made a dissatisfied face and stepped on the gas pedal, prompting a loud curse from the worker in the truck bed, "Can't you drive properly?"
Within the residential area, there was a speed limit for vehicles. In order to take the nearest exit, Mr. Huang made a U-turn at the intersection.
Therefore, as the car slowly passed the road they had just traveled, Xu Yanhuan saw Yu Xinqiao's petite figure standing at the doorway, waving goodbye to them.
When the car drove far away and Xu Yanhuan looked in the rearview mirror, he saw Yu Xinqiao still standing there, vigorously patting the dust off his body. He started from his chest, patting all the way to his buttocks and then his heels, not missing any part.
Indeed, he was a delicate young master.
Even the band-aids had curly-haired puppy patterns on them.
It was dusk, and Xu Yanhuan leaned his arm on the window frame, enjoying the leisurely and relaxed feeling that he had missed for a long time.
Bathed in the early spring sunset, a warm breeze brushed against the wound on the back of his hand. It didn't hurt, only a slight itchiness.
It felt as if the wind was blowing inside his heart.
The truck bed is not for sitting! Not for sitting! Not for sitting! In reality, it's important to follow traffic rules!
The next chapter returns to the real-life storyline.