SOUNDING OUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP
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At the first light of dawn, Gu Hai was awoken by the loud sound of an alarm resonating throughout the room. Out of habit, he felt around for his cell phone only to discover that it hasn’t sounded off yet. So he got up to look around for the source of the sound. Finally, he was able to find the culprit that refused to be silenced. He pressed it for a long while. However, the wretched alarm won’t stop. Feeling a bit irritated, he moved it closer to his face. It was then that he noticed the riddles appearing on the surface of the alarm. Bewildered and amazed, both his eyes shot wide open. He then started solving the problems.
The system of this particular alarm clock that Bai Luo Yin had purchased is even more advanced than the one he found at You Qi’s. Also, all the topics and riddles were especially set up by him. It took Bai Lou Yin from daylight to the rising night to personally search about for these questions that at the very least, were slightly difficult for him to answer. As a result, this miserable comrade Gu Hai was still not able to figure it out even after playing (and whining) with it for 20 minutes. The alarm ended up waking Bai Luo Yin.
“Go wash your face and brush your teeth first. Let me solve it.”
Their plan to buy a proper breakfast was already completely and utterly shattered by the time they were ready to leave. Without any better option, the two young men settled with having a slice of bread each.
“Why did you buy an alarm clock like this?” Gu Hai asked casually.
Bai Luo Yin, without putting much thought into it, easily replied, “I saw it at You Qi’s and thought that it was fun so I got one.”
Young Master Gu, whose mind is always closed and tense to the point that the slightest stimulus can cause it to wildly stir, immediately made a simple yet huge comeback.
“You saw it at You Qi’s?”
Upon hearing those words, Bai Luo Yin’s expression suddenly became lifeless. He mentally cursed himself for his own carelessness. After letting out a forced cough, he began to speak again. The tone of his voice was laced with a sense of indifference.
“Yeah, You Qi moved out of the campus. Yang Meng and I went over to give him some things and I saw it unintentionally.”
Gu Hai merely nodded his head at these words and did not speak again. Having been away for three weeks, this was his first time to enter the classroom again.
The instant that Bai Luo Yin pushed the door open to enter, You Qi’s head automatically spun to face the door. His eyes then met Gu Hai’s.
In the past, whenever he would see the two of them together, You Qi would not have any strong feelings about it. However, having become closer to Bai Lou Yin the past few days changed this. Now, no matter how he tries to see it differently, the vision of the two guys together just doesn’t feel right for him.
After class, he went to look for Yang Meng again.
Every time a situation involving Bai Lou Yin arises, You Qi would immediately seek out Yang Meng. There were two reasons behind this: First, he is Bai Luo Yin’s best friend. Through him, You Qi is able to get the most profound understanding of Bai Luo Yin. Second, Yang Meng is quite stupid. Generally, talking to him makes you feel better as the act is always more saddening compared to whatever problem you may face.
“Can we not talk in this kind of place every single time, huh?”
Yang Meng’s hand was pressed against the Records Room’s door. Every time he spoke, he would glance at the deceased former headmaster’s portrait hanging nearby. You Qi, who would normally stand upright whenever he talks to Yang Meng, was crouched down at one side of the room. The sound that came out of his mouth when he spoke was colder and more gloomy compared to the deceased headmaster’s portrait.
“I’ve been dumped.”
Hearing those words painted Yang Meng’s face with several shades of confusion. He asked, “When were you in love?”
“Two days ago.”
You Qi started to pick at the icy floor tiles with his hand. It created a sound that was similar to that of a mouse digging a hole into the ground. Im gave Yang Meng’s scalp a sense of numbness, which made him cringe. In this dark room, seemingly out of nowhere, a vicious burst of cold wind blew by, causing him to tremble and crouch down beside You Qi.
“Two days ago? With who, huh?”
Originally, You Qi didn’t want anyone else to know about this, but the resentment and aching that dwelled inside his heart was too much for him to hold in. After struggling with it for the past two classes, he felt that he needed to word out this secret. Even if he were to be met with mockery and ridicule, it was better than keeping it in like this.
“Bai Luo Yin.”
At first, Yang Meng was expecting You Qi to return home, but after hearing those words, Yang Meng’s gaze became dull.
You Qi, who was expecting Yang Meng to curse or bawl out that he was a pervert, was surprised to see his friend being so unshaken by this revelation. Yang Meng appeared to be very calm; it was as if he had already known about this from the beginning.
“He doesn’t like you?”
You Qi nodded, “Yeah, he probably never liked me from the beginning.”
Yang Meng put on an insensitive and thick-skinned expression, “Then, you can just continue to stay with me.”
“Huh?” You Qi gave Yang Meng an astonished look.
In return, Yang Meng met his gaze with a cunning smile.
“Don’t tell me that’s not possible! You ran off and abandoned me first. You chose the mistress and now that the mistress dumped you, you should return to my embrace. Rest assured, I won’t hold any grudge. Men, right? Who hasn’t had an affair at one point.”
After saying this, Yang Meng stretched out his arms and hugged You Qi. This caused You Qi’s face to darken.
Fuck! Even after talking for half a day, you still fucking think I’m joking around!
You Qi pushed Yang Meng away. “What are you laughing about, huh? Who’s laughing with you?”
Yang Meng, who was acting out the role of a nagging wife too seriously, then took on a bantering tone and assumed the pose of an annoying wife. Now that he’s started, it has become almost impossible to drag him out of this act.
“You’re so heartless! I’ve already taken the initiative to take you back and you’re still fucking scowling? What’s so good about him, huh? Is it because he got first place during the 500-meter run? If I had known earlier that you and him had such sentimental feelings toward each other, I wouldn’t have helped him block those two guys.”
It seems that Yang Meng’s stupidity indeed has no limits.
“I’m not joking with you.” You Qi’s face was helplessly wrung with pain.
Yang Meng’s back slackened, “I’m not joking with you either!”
“I really like Bai Luo Yin!”
“I really like you too!”
Yang Meng was still happily laughing out loud when he saw You Qi bury his head into his own knees. A large piece of the floor tile was dug out and painted faintly on it was a small pool of blood.
The smile on Yang Meng’s face started to fade as his complexion turned a pale shade of blue.
“Hey buddy, don’t tell me you really meant it?”
You Qi shot a depressing gaze which met Yang Meng’s nervous pupils. Although his voice was neither soft nor heavy, it sounded extremely lethal as it escaped his lips and dispersed into the open space.
“Does it look like I’m joking?”
Yang Meng remained still. After a long while, he started to take large backward steps until he bumped onto the wall behind him. This caused Yang Meng, whose center of gravity was not steady, to bounce forward from the wall and fall onto the floor. He felt around for a bit before quickly staggering back up, then frantically faced the corridor and, without any word, ran out.
Less than a minute after, he turned around, ran back through the corridor, and into the room. He came to an abrupt and full stop in front of You Qi. There, he stood like a statue, completely rooted to the floor.
You Qi wiped the sweats that had formed on his forehead. He knew that Yang Meng’s actions were caused by this truth which he so callously dropped on him. His fear of it caused him to run away from the scene, like patient suffering from rabies.
You Qi, who was caught by surprise by Yang Meng’s calm acceptance of his confession, has now, made his point.
“Don’t tell me, two days ago, you were really courting Yin Zi?”
You Qi let out a deep sigh, “I don’t know if it counts as that or not. He didn’t acknowledge it and I didn’t say it clearly either.”
Honestly, Yang Meng was incapable of accepting the fact that Bai Luo Yin would like another man. Even if You Qi was extremely handsome, it was impossible to use him as a substitute for a woman.
“Then, how do you know that you were dumped?”
Yang Meng had just exposed You Qi’s deepest pain. Now, he has no choice but to bare it all.
“Because I feel like Bai Luo Yin has always liked Gu Hai.”
These words caused Yang Meng to start sweating profusely. “Don’t scare me like that. They’re brothers.”
“But, they’re not related by blood.” An expression of indifference and pain spreaded out on You Qi’s face and made its way into his voice.
Yang Meng started to shake his head. “That’s impossible. There’s absolutely no way Bai Luo Yin would like another man. He had a girlfriend before. Last year, she even came back to the country just to look for him!”
“What happened afterwards, huh?” You Qi questioned, “Did they reconcile?”
Cold sweats started to form on Yang Meng’s spine again. He remained silent.
A moment later, You Qi suddenly let out a smile without any particular reason. Before long, this smile turned into quiet laugh.
“Maybe I’m just thinking too much. I’m the one who likes Bai Luo Yin, so it was easy for me to use my own heart and actions to measure his. Maybe his relationship with Gu Hai is normal after all, and I’m the one who’s using a strange point of view to give another meaning to their relationship.”
Unknown to You Qi, Yang Meng has not heard a single word he said. He was in the middle of recalling all the times that he had seen Bai Luo Yin and Gu Hai interacting–how he would always suffer intense rejection from Gu Hai every time he attempts to join them.
“How about this?” Yang Meng suddenly gripped You Qi’s arm, “I’ll give you an idea. I’m not entirely sure, but perhaps it can sound out their real relationship.”
“What do you mean?”
Yang Meng lazily scratched his head, “Two days ago Yin Zi went to my house and left his coat there. I keep on forgetting to give it back. Here’s what you should do. Tomorrow, bring the coat to Bai Lou Yin and say that he left it at your place. Do it in front of Gu Hai. Look at how Gu Hai will react. From there, you’ll know right?”
The past two nights have allowed Gu Hai to discover the changes in Bai Luo Yin’s habits. He has become less intimate with him during bed time. Originally, the two would always sleep in the nude. But now, regardless if they take off their clothes before hitting the sack, Gu Hai would always wake up in the middle of the night to find Bai Luo Yin dressed in his undies.
In addition, he finds it harder now to get Bai Luo Yin to embrace him. In the past, Bai Luo Yin’s would naturally search for a warm place to bury his arms and legs and that would always lead him to move closer and embrace Gu Hai. But now, even hugging him has become a challenge. He wasn’t as obedient anymore and would always unconsciously turn away towards the other side. Even if his limbs were frozen like a block of ice, he still wouldn’t willingly turn over and drill his body into Gu Hai’s for warmth.
What’s going on? Could it be that I was gone for such a long time that he changed this good habit again?
This situation is causing Gu Hai some good nights’ sleep. He would wake up in the middle of the night to meticulously train Bai Luo Yin again. But it wasn’t just Gu Hai who was losing sleep because of this. Bai Lou Yin, who originally slept quite soundly, is pulled out of his slumber whenever Gu Hai would pull his hands to press it under his arms. With great difficulty, Bai Luo Yin tried his best to not kick Gu Hai away, but then the latter decided to take one of his feet and squeeze it in between his legs. When Bai Luo Yin was not able to get up in the middle of the night to drink some water, Gu Hai was forced to get up and personally feed him a few mouthfuls.
Early morning the next day, as usual, Bai Luo Yin and Gu Hai entered the classroom together.
Upon seeing the pair, You Qi’s heart started to scream out of anxiety. He’s still unsure whether Yang Meng’s approach to this situation was sound or not.
If by chance, the two are genuinely together and I hand over this coat, wouldn’t it be the same as defying the mighty god? Gu Hai wouldn’t just rip off both my legs, right?
You Qi was still pondering about the sanity of this plan, when Bai Lou Yin reached his seat and spoke to him.
“How did my coat ended up with you?”
This caught You Qi by surprise. He was stumped for words. If he hadn’t prepared mentally, he would’ve carelessly blurted out the truth already.
“That night you stayed at my place, you took it off and placed it on the chair. The next morning, you forgot to put it on before leaving.”
“Oh! I was wondering why I couldn’t find it. Geez, after causing such a ruckus for a while, it was actually with you.”
Just as Bai Luo Yin was taking back the coat, he suddenly got the feeling that things were not looking too encouraging for him. He twisted his head around to find that the blackboard behind him had turned cold and frozen.
 you were really [courting] Yin Zi – 谈恋爱 tánliàn’ài – has two meaning, to court/pursue someone and to date/go steady. So, in the sentence that Yang Meng asked You Qi, he could also mean, “You were really dating Yin Zi?” But, I chose to use ‘court’ since it’s more appropriate for the situation. Also in the next sentence, You Qi says, “He didn’t acknowledge it and I didn’t say it clearly either.” The word ‘acknowledge’ can also be translated as ‘admit’.
太岁头上动土 – ‘Tàisuì tóushàng dòngtǔ’ literal translation is, to break the ground where Tai Sui (a god) presides or defying someone with great power or strength.
blackboard – Gu Hai
Tai Sui, also known as Grand Duke Jupiter or Grand Commander of the Year is probably one of the most highly respected and feared deity in the Chinese beliefs. It is said that if your Zodiac animal clashes with the Tai Sui or you have inadvertently offended him, bad luck will befall you for the whole year. In order to have a good and peaceful year, you need to pay your respect to the Tai Sui.
There are two diverging explanation on the origin of Tai Sui. According to the scientific school of thought, the Tai Sui phenomena is attributable to the movement of Jupiter (hence the name Grand Duke Jupiter), which impacts the magnetic field around us, depending on the year we were born.
Whereas in the Chinese mythology, the Grand Duke Jupiter or more commonly known as Tai Sui （太 岁) is actually a position in the celestial heavens which is in charge of the world’s affairs for a particular year, i.e determining the annual fortunes of all of us mortal beings. Just as the Jade Emperor is the Ruler of Heaven; the year Tai Sui is the Ruler of Earth. The above is related to the Taoist calendar which is organized into a series of twelve Earthly Branches (the Chinese Zodiac animals) rotating in accordance to the five elements, resulting in a 60-year cycle. And in other words, there are 60 heavenly generals who would rotate to take up this almighty position. A person’s happiness, health, luck and fortune are all under his watchful eye. It serves as a reminder to stay away from evil activities, to take good care of health and to perform more caring activities. The year Tai Sui will take note of all the good deeds and misdeeds of everyone. In 2017, the ruling Tai Sui is General Tang Jie (唐杰).
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