Shi Yan looked like a lion whose whole body of hair had suddenly stood on its ends, his anger was so obvious that He Nuo couldn’t overlook it. But He Nuo wasn’t nervous, or worried. Every time Shi Yan looked this fierce or talked to him in a cold manner were times when he wouldn’t really harm He Nuo; it was actually the contrary, when he had on a relaxed smile on his face that looked devoid of malice that he had a stomach full of evil water. Right now, more or less He Nuo understood that Shi Yan was the type who couldn’t bring across his good intentions in a nice way. He saw Shi Yan pick up a cup of warm water and some tablets, then he walked over looking like a devil, “Eat this!”
After he ate the medicine and gave his thanks, He Nuo looked at the clock hanging on the wall. He couldn’t return home too late, so he decided to wear his trousers. Shi Yan took out a sealed plastic bag from his bag and threw it over, “Wear this.”
“?” He Nuo picked it up to take a look, and saw that it was a new piece of underwear. He was embarra.s.sed, “I don’t want this, I’ll wear back my old one.”
“It’s new, what’s there to dislike?”
For the past several years, He Nuo had always reused his brother’s old underwear. Recently, he would cut up pants that he had grown out of and sew the sides to use them as underwear, so of course it wasn’t that he disliked what Shi Yan had bought. But if he accepted others’ gifts, he would feel like he owed them a debt and that thought made him uncomfortable, especially when the favour came from someone like Shi Yan whom he couldn’t afford to repay.
“That’s, that’s not what I meant.” He Nuo stuttered a bit as he didn’t know how to explain himself. In the end, he still decided to rewear his old underwear.
Shi Yan s.n.a.t.c.hed his underwear over, threw it away, and tore open the plastic bag he brought, “Yours is so tattered and small, is it comfortable to strangle that area! No wonder your little fella’s so small. This piece is mine, once you wear it your little fella will definitely grow bigger. And coincidentally, it’s better for you to wear looser underwear for now.” He took out the underwear and pa.s.sed it to He Nuo, the latter was embarra.s.sed to death by his words and refused to take it.
“What? Do you want Laozi to personally clothe you? Then I’ll do it.” As he spoke, Shi Yan stayed true to his words and squatted down.
He Nuo quickly s.n.a.t.c.hed the underwear and he didn’t dare to look at Shi Yan as he wore it himself. But it was still a bit inconvenient for him, so halfway through Shi Yan had to help him before he could finish wearing his trousers. Shi Yan stood up and put some medicine into He Nuo’s bag, “When you go back read the instruction manual yourself, instructions for usage are written there.”
“Un, thank you.”
Shi Yan sent He Nuo home on his bicycle. He Nuo asked Shi Yan to drop him off before a row of single-storey buildings, then he would walk the rest of the way himself. Shi Yan ensured that the lone, skinny figure went through his house door before he left.
On Monday after school, He Nuo didn’t immediately pick up his bag and leave as usual. His walking posture was still a little weird, and he could only take small steps, so he wanted to wait for the crowd to disperse before leaving. But the moment he left his cla.s.sroom, he saw that a few of Shi Yan’s buddies hadn’t left and his heart immediately jumped in fright while his nerves were highly strung. When he saw one of them walk towards him, he had to force himself to stand rooted and not take a step back. When that guy walked over, he put his arm around He Nuo’s shoulder, “Hey, bro, the other day our joke was a bit over the top but it was an accident, so we hope you won’t mind it.”
He Nuo’s heart was filled with ten thousand points of shock, but he remained expressionless. Or rather, there was just too much going through his head and he didn’t know what to say.
That guy continued, “And also, why didn’t you tell us that you’ve already buried the hatchet with Third Brother? Well, I guess it takes a fight for people to know one another, from now on we’re all brothers so don’t dwell on our past grievances, okay?” He patted He Nuo, then the whole group left.
He Nuo was befuddled, but at least he understood that Shi Yan should be the “Third Brother” he spoke of. He shook his head, who would want to be brothers with them, he could barely wait to run away and hide from them. As long as there was no “from now on”, naturally there wouldn’t be a place where he could gather with them anymore. From now on, he really has to leave as far away from those plague G.o.ds as possible.
He Nuo had just left the teaching building when he saw one of the plague G.o.ds standing before him – Shi Yan.
Shi Yan looked at him and raised his eyebrows, “Why are you so slow, did you crawl your way out here?”
“?” He Nuo didn’t mind his usual dog mouth, “You’re looking for me?”
“Of course you idiot, hurry and get on.” He patted the backseat of his bike.
“Oh, it’s okay, thank you. I’m much better.”
“Do you want me to grab you again! Why are you always so f.u.c.king difficult to deal with.” Shi Yan straddled his bike with one leg, “I’m not a very patient person, hurry and get on!”
He Nuo got on the bike, then Shi Yan began to cycle. Along the way, neither of them spoke. The day before yesterday was He Nuo’s first time being fetched around on a bicycle. When they reached the row of single-storey buildings, He Nuo got down and thanked Shi Yan, then asked, “How much was the underwear?”
Shi Yan was taken aback, then scolded, “Are you f.u.c.king crazy!” Then turned around and left.
From then on, Shi Yan not only fetched him home after school, but also to school. The next day morning when He Nuo left his house to go to school, Shi Yan was waiting for him at the head of the row of houses where he had dropped him off. He Nuo had already learnt to not bother arguing with him, so he silently sat at the back. But there was barely any conversation between the two, because deep down, He Nuo was resistant to interacting with Shi Yan so he purposefully kept his distance.
Because of this simple fetching about, He Nuo became increasingly conspicuous in school. Shi Yan was the school’s so-called “idol”, even someone as oblivious to gossip as He Nuo knew that he was somewhat of a celebrity, but he never really understood how popular this “idol” was, or how much this “idol” was worshipped and sought after. He Nuo had witnessed this person’s most horrible side, but most students in school were still blinded by his gentlemanly, handsome appearance.
What He Nuo didn’t know was: the backseat of Shi Yan’s bicycle was a holy ground fought over ferociously by the female soldiers in school. Now that it had become the nest of one boy, how could it not attract people’s attention? So recently, he realised that there were a few extra heads of random girls peeking around at the entrance of his cla.s.sroom. It’s not that he was oversensitive, but that the girls were really just too obvious with their intentions – they were there to see him. Also, the students in his cla.s.s were starting to talk to him and take the initiative to get close to him. To He Nuo, this was definitely troubling. Putting aside how he doesn’t like to be noticed by others, he was more bothered by how they were sizing him up with their eyes.