I couldn’t fall asleep.
Wide awake till midnight, tossing and turning while thinking about life.
To bend or not to bend, that is the question.
What happened during the day made me realize that this was no longer a matter that can be solved from running away anymore. I need to face myself and come up with an answer.
It’s an undeniable fact that I had a physical reaction to another man. But I really hardly had any response to the AVs.
Instead of listening to the conclusion that my childhood friend came to, which was “You’re interested in that guy Shen Die”, I would rather believe that I’ve really been bent. Only that the way I was bent is unusual.
If I had to blame, it would be that guy. Tempting and flirting with others with that seductive face of his. The looks of those guys in those AVs, I could hardly even stare a second more at, fuck.
Damn it all, how am I supposed to fall in love in the future?
This won’t do. I must stay away from that guy. If this continues to go on…it would be too dangerous.
Although there are still more than 2000 yuan of debt left to pay off and money is valuable, but my purity and modesty are much higher in value! In the case that someday, what my childhood friend said really happened…being thrusted in that spot…fuck, I don’t dare to think about it.
No, no, no, absolutely not! I must meet him tomorrow to clear things out, save my purity and hide it away in my safe cradle!
I finally fell asleep for a short while at dawn but was awakened by the sound of my alarm clock not long after.
Struggling to get out of bed, the first thing I did was reach under my pillow and pull out the stack of red bills.
After gazing at it for a moment, unwilling to part with them, I resolutely counted half of them and stuffed them into my shirt pocket.
I’m not sure if it’s because I got wet from the rain yesterday, but I sneezed twice after getting out of bed. I felt dizzy as well so I took two cold tablets.
The exchange activity is almost over and volunteers have a lot less to do now. We only had to show up for attendance then sneak away to rest. There wasn’t much to do for logistics, so I ran to the reception desk to change shifts with the ones handling the registration.
The morning meeting started at nine o’clock, half an hour before people started arriving one after another. I was lying on the table by the entrance, dozing off in a hazy daze. Somehow, I felt as if someone was missing so I took a look at the register and found one empty name. I suddenly sobered up.
Shen Die didn’t show up?
I rubbed my eyes a little, confirming carefully that the foreigners who were always with him had already signed their names. He was the only one whose name was empty.
What happened? Did he skip the session?
I rubbed my nose a little and gave it some thought. Ultimately, I couldn’t resist giving my female senior a call.
“Oh, Shen Die huh. He had something going on this morning and asked for an absence leave. Didn’t he tell you?”
“Then will he be coming in the afternoon?”
“I’m not sure about that. Why? Do you have something you need him for?”
I subconsciously touched the stack of money in my pocket and said sheepishly, “Nothing. I’m just asking.”
There really wasn’t much left to do in the morning, but I was feeling unwell from my cold and didn’t want to go back to the dorm for games. So I decided to lie down on the table like a zombie, and eventually fell asleep.
But this sleep wasn’t a good, peaceful one. I had a bunch of messy, weird dreams. Not sure how much time had passed, but when I opened my eyes it was all dark.
It was so bright in the morning, why has it turned dark so quickly?
I slowly came to my senses after some time and only then did I realize something was covering my head and blocking the light.
I sat up a little and whatever covered my head slipped down. It was a familiar suit jacket.
I was still staring at the suit when the door behind me suddenly opened and the sounds of soft footsteps could be heard.
I turned around and was confronted by a familiar face.
The guy who came in raised his eyebrow at me. His voice sounded a little rough when he asked, “You’re awake?”
I passed the jacket in my hand back and he took them in a natural, fluid motion before hanging it on his arm.
“When did you get here?”
“Two hours ago.”
Two hours ago…I looked down at my watch and realized with shock that it was already 1:30!
I didn’t even eat lunch and slept through the afternoon?
He carried his jacket and walked past me. I was still sitting still like an idiot as my stomach growled out of nowhere.
His steps came to a halt right then. I felt so embarrassed and wanted to defend myself. But before I could say anything, I let out two sneezes.
He turned around towards me, “You have a cold?”
“A little. I’ve taken some medicine, but it doesn’t seem to be working.”
He nodded and took a few steps away.
He left just like that? Not showing even a little concern? Saying something like drink more water and take care?
I continued to sit in the same spot, sighing about how cold people can be. Just as I thought about going to the cafeteria to see if there are any leftover food, that guy came back.
He was holding a bag, which he put it on the table in front of me. Without saying a word, he pushed the door open and entered the conference room.
I opened the bag with a dumbfounded look. There are two sandwiches and a paper cup with hot drink in it. It was most likely bought from the cafeteria downstairs.
The sandwiches are still warm. I took a sip from the paper cup, which turned out not to be coffee but hot milk instead.
In this weather, I doubt anyone would be drinking hot drinks. But this building’s air conditioning was strong, plus I also have a cold, so it’s not a bad idea to be prioritize wellness.
Hmph, I’ll count him as being kind.
After settling lunch, I played a few rounds of mobile games with the students at the venue who had nothing to do. The afternoon passed by in a flash. The meeting that was happening inside the hall had a few breaks and people went in and out of there. But I never did saw him again.
At around four o’clock, he walked out with his laptop bag, followed by my female senior.
I subconsciously walked a few steps to the side to hide but saw that they were talking for a bit. My female sister smiled at him throughout as he nodded at her before walking out of the building.
Watching his back as he left, I couldn’t help but walk up and ask, “It’s over so early today?”
My female senior said, “Student Shen isn’t feeling too well, so he went back to rest.”
Unwell? I thought back to the short meeting we had earlier a few hours ago. He did indeed not look quite well…did he fall sick?
I frowned and thought about it before asking, “There shouldn’t be anything else this afternoon, right? Then I’ll also leave first.”
“Do you have something on too?”
“I…I’m going to see him off.”
There was a flash of a weird expression on her face for a bit, but I didn’t have the time to notice it as I ran out of the building in hurried steps.
I rushed to the parking lot as he was about to enter the car. I leaped forward and managed to slip right into the passenger seat at the very last moment before he closed the door.
He turned his head over and stared at me with a puzzled look.
I let out a fake cough before explaining in a serious manner, “My senior was worried and asked me to send you back.”
He didn’t suspect any further nor did he try to kick me out of the car. Instead, he silently agreed and started driving.
I looked over at his pale face and asked, “How about letting me drive?”
He ignored me, turning the steering wheel and putting the car in reverse, focusing entirely on driving.
I rubbed the tip of my nose a little, wondering in my heart. Why is this guy acting strangely today? Where did his usual immodest self go?
The entire drive was silent all the way. I was blanking out when the series of coughing beside me snapped me out of it. Turning towards him, I noticed his expression was calm with barely any change. As if nothing happened. I was about to turn my head back, but heard the coughing sounds again. Somehow, it felt unpleasant to hear them.
Recalling what happened last night, this guy might have caught a cold from the rain after taking my broken umbrella. Although I never asked him to do that, I still felt a little guilty over it.
Sighing helplessly in my heart, I knocked twice on the window and asked, “Can you stop in front for a bit? I want to buy some things.”
He glanced at me before stopping the car without asking anything.
I ran straight to the pharmacy after getting off the car. I only had typical cold medicine in my bag, but looking at his symptoms, it was far more severe than mine so I had to buy something stronger.
There weren’t that many people in the pharmacy. It took around ten minutes to buy a few anti-inflammatory pills and cold syrup. I dragged the plastic bag full of stuffs and ran back to the car, only to find him leaning back against the car seat with his head tilted and eyes closed. With one hand rubbing his temple, he looked extremely exhausted.
I leaned in closer to take a better look. His lips were pale and his usual porcelain skin were flushed with an abnormal tinge of red. I couldn’t help but reach out and touch his forehead.
He opened his eyes all of a sudden, looking straight at me without a word.
I asked, “Do you have a fever?”
He was silent for a moment before denying it, “No.”
His voice sounded even more hoarse than before.
I placed my hand on his forehead to feel out his temperature. After a while, I confirmed it, “No, you do feel a little hot. You definitely have a fever, but I didn’t buy fever medicine…”
He stared at me without saying anything again. After a while, he suddenly held my wrist to move it away. Then with his other hand, pressed the back of my head which led me to lean in closer without a choice.
Our foreheads were pressed against each other’s.
In the blink of an eye, I was only mere centimeters away from his face. The temperatures on our foreheads quickly blended together and it became near impossible to tell whose was whose.
He blinked a few times before whispering in a voice so low that no one else could possibly hear, “I don’t have a fever. Do you believe me now?”
I couldn’t say a single word from being stared by him like that. It took me some time to calm my frightened heart but still I couldn’t break away. He suddenly raised his chin and rubbed it on my lips.
The feather-light touch felt blazing hot to me. As if I was burnt, I jumped backwards suddenly and covered my mouth. Glaring at him for a long time, I finally manage to squeeze out a sentence, “You…me…we’ll cross-infect each other!”
He straightened his back and took over the plastic bag I brought over, slowly sorting through it. He looked up at me and said, “Then don’t tempt me anymore. We’ll continue this another day.”
Now that he mentioned it, I finally remembered why I originally tagged along. With the series of incidents that interrupted me, I almost completely forgot about it.
I reached into my pocket for the stack of money, nervously swallowing before speaking solemnly, “That…I have something to tell you. It’s really important.”
He was reading the instructions on the cold syrup but nodded to indicate that I could continue.
“…I found out that I seemed to have been bent.”
He slowly lowered his hand and put down what he was holding, looking at me with an expressionless face.
I licked my dry lips a few times before gathering up the courage to continue, “I was straight before, so it was fine but now the situation has changed. Two men like us can’t keep being so intimate. This monetary relationship isn’t healthy either, so I don’t want to continue this deal.”
I took out the stack of money and slowly passed it over. “Here’s the rest of the money. That’s all.”
Before returning the money, I imagined million kinds of scenarios of his reaction in my head. I thought it wouldn’t be easy for him to agree to it, given his sly nature. I guessed there would at least be some compensation fees for breaching the contract or he would take the opportunity to extort me further. I was all prepared to be taken advantage of, yet he unexpectedly didn’t say anything back.
After a long silence, he nodded, opened the car door without counting the money and got out.
I didn’t know what he meant by that, so I subconsciously followed after him to get a confirmation, much to my disbelief, “Did you agree to it?”
He nodded as he walked, expression so calm that I could hardly tell what he felt. But he tugged on my hand to cross the road safely.
I thought he was going to the pharmacy, but we passed by it without stopping as he dragged me straight into another store.
I looked up at the store sign before going in and was dumbstruck by the fact that this was the expensive ice cream store from the other day.
This guy wants to have ice cream even with a cold like that? Is he stupid?
The store was beautifully decorated and even the female cashier standing behind the desk was beautiful. She came over with a bright smile, “Welcome, what would you like to order?”
This guy ignored the wide variety of ice creams at the counter and asked directly at her, “Can I get a membership card?”
“Sure, but our membership card starts from 200 yuan…”
This guy pulled out a stack of money from his jacket pocket and pushed it over.
Isn’t that the money I just returned to him?”
The expression on that cashier’s face was frozen for a moment, but she reacted quickly with a smile before pulling out a cash detector under the register.
“That’s a total of 2,200 yuan. Are you sure you would like to top up all of that?”
2,200 yuan? I even returned 200 yuan extra?
Before I could even tell him to stop, he already nodded at her without hesitation.
“Alright. I shall help you register your membership. May I have your surname?”
“Your phone number?”
Without the slightest change in expression, this guy repeated a series of numbers. When I listened carefully, isn’t that my phone number?
Why did he know my phone number? No, what the hell is he trying to do now?”
The membership card was done in lightning speed. A flower-like smile blossomed on the cashier’s face as she said, “Would you like to have an ice cream now, sir? Buy one get one free on your first purchase as a member.”
I opened my mouth and let out a sneeze twice in a row.
He looked at me and answered, “No. Maybe next time.”
When we left the store, I couldn’t wait anymore and questioned him, “Why did you fill up my details if you were going to make a membership card?”
Was he trying to make me feel bad by constantly consuming my favourite ice cream and sending me text reminders of it? To get back at me from breaking the deal?
Did he have to be so cruel?
He held the card with a pink design on a white background in his hand for a moment. Then he suddenly reached out and shoved it into my pocket.
I was stunned for a moment, “Why did you give it to me?”
“Because I registered it for you.”
You thought this monetary relationship isn’t healthy,” He said, “Then how about we switch to something healthier.”
“A boyfriend relationship, how about that?”