These two people were very different.
It was in Li Muze to also act cool during breaks in between classes. He would never sleep on his table, instead, he’d cross his arms over his chest and lean against his chair with his head slightly drooping downwards.
He had fair skin, so even the small light brown mole sleeping on his nose stood out particularly. It was dotted on his face, like a small boat wandering in a white sea of snow; it looked out of place but the ethereal kind. It’s a pity that he himself was not a gentle person though. There would always be a hint of the arrogance of a teenage boy in his expressions. Moreover, his actions and words were of the same virtue. He would always put up a nonchalant expression to look as if he didn’t care about anything, it was his way of appearing different from his peers.
Most boys of this age have this problem and for some reason, girls are head over heels for this kind of stand-offish attitude. Nobody knows the reason behind this kind of attraction, but it made the boys look charismatic.
Shen Tingmian, however, was different. He wasn’t as proactive as Li Muze in that aspect, he was just your typical ordinary boy. His grades were average and his presence in class was near zero. He was presumed to be the type of person who’d only be remembered by either his name or worse, just his surname after graduating. His only hobby was reading and he lived a life too comfortable for someone his age as compared to his peers who were encountering different types of struggles.
He insisted on living life as a regular person. For an ordinary person like him, kindness was his biggest strength, but people who’ve interacted with him before would notice that he wasn’t as good-natured as he appeared. He would always keep a distance from everyone and refuse others’ goodwill politely without leaving any room for criticism. He spoke conservatively and it was safe to say that his way of speaking was awfully restrained. It seems difficult for him to concentrate on something for a long time.
The only noticeable flaw he had was his seemingly short attention span. People who’ve spoken to him would come to the realization that he becomes ignorant of everything that’s being said to him after just a couple of minutes of conversing. He’d still answer accordingly but his eyes would often already be wandering elsewhere.
The logic behind his way of speech had always been confusing. The speed at which he spoke was either too fast or too slow and his tongue would seem like it was twitching. He was probably aware of that, hence he started talking less and less.
He was an outstanding student when he first started high school. His grades plummeted later on, but he still paid attention to lessons, completed his homework on time, studied hard, and heeded his teacher’s advice; nobody could wrap their heads around why his grades declined. He didn’t seem to be in good health though. He’d apply for leave and disappear for a few days from time to time, yet there didn’t seem to be any grave diseases plaguing him. His classmates thought that it was pretty unnatural but it was never brought up to him.
Disregarding grades, Shen Tingmian was definitely a good student overall.
Li Muze on the other hand was the total opposite, he was a wild one.
He would either be playing basketball or wasting his afternoons away playing billiards with Old Dog Liu in an underground hub located around the corner of an alley. Not only that, he was always the best at giving the teachers inappropriate responses in class and he has earned enough eye-rolls as a result of his frivolous attitude. Speaking of which, it did feel unfair for everyone else because not only was he a part of the sports committee, but he was also tall with handsome features. In addition to those qualities, his eyes would usually be drooping like that of a ruffian’s. Others found that attractive, especially the girls. Moreover, he truly was one of a kind — an idiot who’s good at sports and excels in his studies. He’s that guy whom their whole grade and class would know about.
But that’s all there is to it. He was an arrogant one and it was normal for him to take this kind of attention for granted, especially at his age.
His family’s well-off and apart from the shock that came after the realization that he likes boys, his life has basically been smooth sailing. He confessed to his first crush directly but wound up with a bruised nose and swollen face after being punched by the other party. This time, he liked someone else. He originally planned to bite his lip and not make a move, but then Liu Chao had been feeding him with gossip regarding Shen Tingmian for the past couple of days which made it hard for him to stand his ground.
He liked how Shen Tingmian was able to throw his life into a complete state of frenzy, to the point of it being in shambles. Li Muze sought solace in the chaos though, because he was frustrated that his world felt overly complete so much so that it was starting to lose its meaning.
He wasn’t sure how he came to like Shen Tingmian either. In retrospect, it might be when Shen Tingmian passed by him during a certain class break and accidentally touched his hand. Li Muze turned around at that moment to glance at Shen Tingmian and the back of Shen Tingmian’s figure shook his core inexplicably.
Shen Tingmian had an indescribable force emitting from his body.
He seemed a little indifferent and was never seen to be passionate about anything.
But his hands were very soft. Li Muze thought oddly, which awakened a desire to protect Shen Tingmian.
It felt weird because there was no basis for the way he was thinking about things.
Things were turning from bad to worse. When a sudden unreasonable thought relating to someone whom you didn’t have feelings for hits you and piques your curiosity about him, you end up finding yourself developing a crush on him unconsciously after observing and finding out more about that person.
Cupid really was a brat who shot his arrows randomly. Even so, whenever Li Muze thought about it, Cupid’s shot was not so bad after all.
Li Muze’s way of expressing his feelings was somewhat simple-minded. His honesty and unmasked nervousness may have an effect on girls but not so much on Shen Tingmian, who seemed like a heterosexual.
Oh, right. Li Muze sat in front of his small table lamp at night with his lips pursed and arms crossed over his chest. His right leg was crossed over his left one and he turned cross-eyed from staring at the pen in his mouth for too long.
Does Shen Tingmian like boys?
He said he didn’t dislike it, which was an intriguing response.
Being confessed to by the same sex would often cause straight men to explode in a state of fury, and most of them would beat you up. Time has changed and people are more open-minded but even so, many users on same-sex forums shared that the other party would still express visible disgust in their eyes after being confessed to. Li Muze didn’t believe it at first until he experienced the beating first-hand which made him acknowledge the credibility of those forums.
But Shen Tingmian really wasn’t disgusted.
What kind of expression did he have on his face back then?
Li Muze thought about it several times a day. Back then, Shen Tingmian was stunned for two seconds before something seemingly diminished in his eyes.
Whatever it was, it diminished and it collapsed.
Yeah. Li Muze felt as though Shen Tingmian had collapsed internally as if his whole being suddenly turned into a barren wasteland. There was fear in his eyes as well.
Li Muze was oblivious back then. How many times would one have to experience pain in the name of love for their reaction to be fear rather than happiness after being confessed to?
He only knew that Shen Tingmian had said some negative yet ambiguous things to him. In the gradually dimming corner of those flight of stairs, it was just the two of them present. What Shen Tingmian said to him was like a line straight out of a movie. He said, “Li Muze, I am a bottomless pit. You shouldn’t like me.”
What do you mean?
Li Muze was distressed. He racked his brain, but he couldn’t understand the meaning behind Shen Tingmian’s words.
Although he was in a liberal arts class, his emotional intelligence reflected that of a science student. He thought that every sentence came with a fixed answer, that there was no room for literature nor his own comprehension.
Old Dog Liu was fickle in love so Li Muze decided to ask that scumbag.
Old Dog Liu clapped his hands together after hearing Li Muze’s question. “That means she’s always hungry for ‘love’ and you won’t be able to satisfy her.”
Li Muze gave him a kick and cursed, “Fuck, you’re the one who’s hungry for ‘love.’”
Old Dog Liu shrugged. “That means she doesn’t like you then. It’s called unrequited love, Li Muze. I think you’re dying from loneliness.”
Am I lonely?
For people like him, as long as the other party isn’t repulsed and doesn’t cut ties with him; he considers that a win.
I don’t have the privilege to be thinking about loneliness.
When it comes to liking somebody, loneliness is out of the question if there’s passion behind your feelings.
Old Dog Liu watched as Li Muze indulged in his thoughts silently. He shrugged and flipped through his textbook. After turning a few pages, he decided to poke around.
Old Dog Liu sensed that Li Muze was acting rather abnormally, so he snapped his fingers: “Just who is this person you like? Is she from our class?”
“So many questions.” Li Muze huffed in annoyance. “Idiot.”
“That’s because you’re not telling me who it is.” Old Dog Liu sprawled out on his table lazily. “The monthly exams are coming up. It’s about time they changed our seats. Our part of the class is always so noisy, I want a seat that’s optimal for learning.”
Li Muze squinted his eyes at him in disbelief. “You’re an idiot.”
Old Dog Liu scratched his head. “Even an idiot would need a good learning environment, ‘kay?”
“Where do you wanna sit then?”
Old Dog Liu leaned against his chair. Due to his seat being located near the back door of their classroom, Li Muze’s deskmate’s bag was hung behind his chair, unzipped. He reached behind and came in contact with a few crumpled pages.
“I plan to follow Zhang Tian, she’s good at picking seats.” Old Dog Liu said. Coincidentally, Zhang Tian entered through the back door with a drinking cup in hand so he flashed her a cheeky grin. “Aren’t I right, class president—”
“Ugh, screw off!” Zhang Tian blushed and scolded in a joking manner.
Li Muze was inspired.
Deskmates. Ah, if I become his deskmate—
He turned around to check the results of their previous monthly exams that were put up next to the blackboard at the back. In their class, the seating arrangement was assigned according to their academic performance.
There were more than 60 people in their class and Shen Tingmian always placed around the 30s. He remembered last month too…
Huh? Why is his placement so far behind this time?
His grades really plummeted…
Li Muze usually placed top ten in class. As he returned to his seat, he thought. Should I place further behind this time? If his results were somewhere around Shen Tingmian’s threshold, then there’s a big possibility for them to sit together.
Old Dog Liu had been scrutinizing him for a while now and punched him in the arm. “What the hell are you thinking so hardly about?”
“Fuck.” Li Muze kicked him. “Fuck off.”
He took out his notebook and started writing down his previous results. He began to work out subtractions for each of his subjects.
Old Dog Liu became wide-eyed staring at him. He looked at Li Muze as if he was a pile of freshly defecated poop.
Meng Yuanyuan was a member of the class cleanliness committee. She went to confront the group of students who were on cleaning duty yesterday with a record book in hand. “Our quantitative points were deducted again. Did you guys finish your duties yesterday?”
“Where were the points deducted?” The team leader of yesterday’s cleaning duty asked.
An expression of disgust surfaced on the team leader’s face. “Anxuan was in charge of that area, so go and ask her.”
Anxuan was a girl petite in stature who’d walk with her back slightly hunched over. Always obedient, she spoke in a quiet voice and was physically weak. Most importantly, she expected others to always accommodate her.”
“Ah.” Meng Yuanyuan understood right away and she could only reply with, “Then, you should have a word with her.”
“I’ve already told her a few times! I really…” The team leader banged the table twice, clearly irritated. “I’ve cleaned up after her previously, yet she’s still like this! I really can’t stand it anymore. Tell the teacher to have a word with her.”
“I already did.” Meng Yuanyuan said helplessly. “But the teacher said she was sick. Well, if this continues, then we’ll just have exempt her. That’s fair to both her and us anyway.”
Shen Tingmian went home to grab something before their evening self-study session.
Before he could leave the house, Zheng Wenying came out of the bathroom. She saw that he was holding something in his hand, so she wiped her hand on her pants and said hurriedly. “Wait, this isn’t easy to carry. Mom will find a bag for you.”
Shen Tingmian looked at her. He didn’t tell her that he was always blaming her, complaining about her, and then often forgiving her inadvertently afterwards. This process has become a repetitive cycle that left him bewildered and confused. Perhaps, the fact that he loves and hates her at the same time was no longer a secret.
When his body is buried and his soul is allowed to wander the earth, he would watch over her forever.
The sunset enveloped the city and everything basked in its gentle embrace.
Shen Tingmian was at the intersection of the main road with cars coming from all directions. He drowned himself in a trance with the sound of cars honking around him as he let people pass him by freely.
He didn’t understand why people cried and why people laughed.
What was he? He was nothing. Shen Tingmian thought.
Extreme panic, worry and excruciating sadness circulated every minute and every second of his life. His physical body had long been hollowed out by these excessive emotions, to the point where it felt like his lifeline had already snapped in two; he was beyond exhausted.
No one was born like this. Of course, he knew what a normal person looked like.
Many couldn’t imagine him laughing normally, the type of happiness where you feel so happy that you could die.
The sun was setting and darkness was going to engulf everything once again.
Shen Tingmian was fearful of the night. To him, nighttime felt like seawater gently grazing his body before the water level suddenly overwhelms and drowns him. It was a rational fear yet he was already numb to it. Every night, he would hear all kinds of sounds. Like how his heart would thump so rapidly and violently against his chest as if it would explode at any given moment or even the most subtle of movements rustling in the dark; to him, these sounds were magnified countless times in his ears and they played horrible tricks on his fragile mind.
He never told anybody though. And now, the sun was setting. Darkness was going to engulf everything once more.
☆ 🖇️ 𖥻 ＜꒱ ୭ ✧ ˚. ᵎᵎ 🏹
tl/n: hello everyone! i apologize for the delayed update, i was busy with college;; but boy was this chapter angsty (Ｔ▽Ｔ) anyway, if you would like updates regarding future chapters or see me ranting about this series as i translate it, feel free to follow my twitter! (@geppielvr)