Tranzgeek: All righty, here’s your next chapter. I’m just going to go ahead and post all three chapters today for this week as I am having a bit of family issues. Next week, I’ll try to stick to the schedule and perhaps some bonus updates if time will allow! 🙂
Minodayz: will our foursome unite again? Who will bring our rogue LEQ back into the fold? Ahhhh….making up is such fun with our foursome. Really glad it didn’t drag on.
RS sure is causing lots of blushing again for someone, those warm fuzzies….
(Minodayz, “you had me at milk tea!” lol) We get a little more RS as he is starting to show a little more of his “i can break the rules coz I’m cool” lol because of who I am attitude! (love it) Lol – bad boy huh!?! – even I’m melting!!! Or should I say blushing!!!
LEQ LEQ, could you get anymore adorable!!!
Chapter 12: Warmth
After two days of the midterm exams, Li Erqin was yawning as she left the examination room via the back entrance. There was Rong Si standing outside the door. The setting sun had cast a reddish glow, and his head was bowed looking down at his phone. When he heard a noise, he looked over, paused for a moment and then tucked his phone into his pocket before speaking to Li Erqin. “We’re planning to sneak out to the supermarket, you wanna come?”
He was leisurely leaning against the wall, and when he turned his head, the light behind him outlined his sculpted face and brought his features into even sharper relief. Still, his eyes remained cool and impassive (literal: like the temperature of cold water).
Li Erqin stood by the backdoor, totally blindsided by Rong Si’s unexpected appearance. It was only when the exam supervisor called out, “If you’ve handed in your exam papers, you have to leave the exam area immediately. Don’t loiter around the doorway!” that Li Erqin awoke from her stupor and commanded her feet to walk over to Rong Si.
Rong Si, with his impassive expression, casually asked, “How did the exam go?”
“The usual, I suppose.”
“Hm,” Rong Si softly chuckled, a dry clear sound.
Li Erqin’s face suddenly turned red.
“You coming or not?” Rong Si asked again
“Who else is going?”
“Who else can there be?”
Li Erqin nodded her head in understanding, tightened the hold on her pencil case and looked up into Rong Si’s eyes. “I’m coming.”
Rong Si blandly looked back at her and noted her beautiful features suffused in the yellow-orange haze of the setting sun. After hearing her reply, he didn’t notice the curl of a smile on his lips. “Let’s go then.”
With Rong Si looking at her, Li Erqin’s face was positively burning up. She had to use her freezing hands to pat her cheeks as she followed behind him. “What about Peng Zige and Su Zi?”
Rong Si started walking at a moderate pace and, without looking back, replied, “Probably still taking the exam.”
Li Erqin thought of a question and jogged a few steps to close the gap between them. “When did you hand in your paper?”
Rong Si tilted his head slightly, saw Li Erqin rushing to catch up to him, and quietly slowed down his pace. “About half an hour ago.”
“But I handed my paper in fifteen minutes early.”
Rong Si did not reply.
Li Erqin trailed behind him, step by step, with nary a thought in her head, until she realised that they had already arrived at the small canteen.
“Wait here for me,” Rong Si said as he stopped and faced her. “Those guys may still be a while longer.”
Rong Si walked into the stall and came out a moment later holding a cup of hot milk tea. He handed it to her. “Warm your hands.”
(Minodayz: awwwww.. RS – she is melting!!! Where’s mine!!!)
“Thanks.” Li Erqin obediently accepted the cup. “What about you?”
“I’m not cold.”
With both hands cupping the hot milk tea, Li Erqin took a sip and felt a sweet warmth spread all the way to her heart. Her whole body felt warm and cozy.
Rong Si stood beside her, blocking the wind. His slender physique attracted a lot of attention from the students that had finished their exams and were out buying snacks at the stall to revitalise themselves.
(Minodayz: ohhh RS can u be anymore heart melting…”you really had me at milk tea…and windbreaker!)
He stood silently and suddenly lowered his head to ask, “Is it good?”
“Very good.” Li Erqin laughed.
“That’s good then.”
The wind was rather blustery, and although Rong Si had managed to block most of the gusting wind, she still felt cold. She slowly snuck a few steps closer to Rong Si, hoping to share some warmth with him. Since Rong Si didn’t seem to have noticed, she took a few more steps…until their arms bumped into each other.
Rong Si looked at her with enquiring eyes.
Li Erqin momentarily panicked, the temperature of her face started to skyrocket, and she avoided his gaze. “Don’t mind me.”
Rong Si smiled in spite of himself.
Li Erqin held her milk tea and thought for a while before saying, “I was worried that you’d be cold.”
For a few seconds there was a peaceful silence.
Then Rong Si took a step towards Li Erqin, and both their arms were pressed tightly against each other.
She heard Rong Si’s pleasant voice say, “This way, we will be nice and warm,” and this time Li Erqin was certain that her face had gone past the boiling point and was literally smoking.
With the two of them leaning against each other, it somehow did not feel quite so cold. After finishing her tea, Li Erqin entered the canteen to dispose her cup, and upon her return, Su Zi and Peng Zige were already there bickering.
Rong Si saw her as soon as she had stepped out and said to her, “Well, everyone’s here. Let’s go then.”
“Who else is there?” Peng Zige naturally turned back to look. Seeing Li Erqin, he was completely taken aback and froze, finally shooting Rong Si a questioning glance.
Rong Si explained, “I invited her.”
Peng Zige still had a look of disbelief on his face, but after seeing Su Zi’s similarly stunned expression, he suddenly felt a little bit calmer. Turning back, he said, “Let’s go. The sooner we leave, the sooner we can get back.”
Li Erqin was about to greet Peng Zige, only to encounter the stubborn look on his face as he walked off. Instead, it was Su Zi who warmly walked over and snagged her arm: “We’re actually skipping out on the evening’s remedial! Rong Si sure knows how to lead you astray.”
Skip out of evening remedial class?
Li Erqin looked at Rong Si questioningly. Rong Si also happened to glance at her. “Yup, we might get reprimanded when we return.”
Li Erqin’s heart skipped a beat in excitement and could not help bursting out, “That’s just so cool!”
The other three shared the same bemused expression on their faces.
It was almost 6 p.m. by the time the four of them arrived by bus at the mall. As night began to set in, the streetlamps started to light up one by one, and the four made their way slowly towards the shops.
Li Erqin was beyond excited and, in a rare occurrence, could not keep the smile off her face.
Finally they settled on a (grill-your-own) BBQ place. The decor was modern, and the interior colours were subdued. Rong Si and company chose a lime green table to sit at and ordered two sets that were on promotion.
While waiting for their food to arrive, Li Erqin, whose mood had improved significantly, finally decided to address Peng Zige, who was still nursing a hissy fit. “Why are you ignoring me?”
Peng Zige pursed his lips and lowered his head, playing with his disposable chopsticks.
Rong Si and Su Zi sat by and watched, choosing not to enter the conversation.
“Hey, don’t be mad at me anymore,” Li Erqin persisted.
“Then why are you ignoring me?”
Peng Zige tried to avoid Li Erqin’s laughing eyes, “Am I not talking to you now?”
Li Erqin guffawed. “You’re just throwing a hissy fit, like some daughter-in-law.”
When she had finished speaking, Su Zi and Rong Si couldn’t help breaking out in smiles.
Peng Zige was absolutely furious and glared at Li Erqin. “You just decided by yourself one day to up and leave us. We were all worried, and you treated our feelings like they were nothing.”
Li Erqin was totally dumbfounded.
A peeved Peng Zige continued fiddling with his chopsticks, his tone of voice distant, “I thought we were friends. Then you said you don’t want to be with us anymore, and you really just stopped hanging out with us. What kind of friend is this?”
“I’m sorry,” Li Erqin apologized.
The apology came on so suddenly, all the words Peng Zige was getting ready to say stuck in his throat, and all he could do was look on helplessly.
Li Erqin curled her lip smiling at herself, her eyes sparkling bright. “I apologize for my self-centeredness. Can you please forgive me this one time?”
Peng Zige saw her sincere and beatific smile and was stunned into silence for awhile. He turned away, blushing, and had nothing more to say.
“Peeennnnnggggg Ziiiiigeeeee—” Li Erqin dragged out the intonation of his name, giggling as she waved her hand in front of his face.
“You’re such a bother!” Peng Zige swiped her hand away. “The charcoal is burning red already. Aren’t you afraid of burning your sleeves?”
Li Erqin continued giggling, not minding it at all as she sat up.
Self-service BBQ is all about using your hands to cook your own meal. The vegetables and meat are placed on the grill and very quickly begin to sizzle. Under the light of the overhead lamps, the oil glistens as they sputter and pop, and the tantalizing aroma teases the tastebuds by turns.
Li Erqin gingerly took small bites from her stick of rice cake, which was completely covered with peppercorn. Her hand was shaking too much when she had put the pepper on, and the result could really not be considered fit for eating. Beside her, Su Zi had already leisurely finished three skewers of lamb, but she was still stuck staring at her sinister-looking scarlet rice cake.
Li Erqin could not help but give a little sigh.
A skewer with piping hot cooked lamb pieces appeared in front of her eyes.
Curiously she lifted her head.
“Here you go, take this!” Peng Zige urged. “Don’t bother eating that messed up skewer.”
After Li Erqin had taken the lamb kebob, he withdrew his hand and muttered, “Hovering over that grill was simply burning me alive.”
Rubbing his hands, he lifted his head and was stunned.
He saw Li Erqin dump another pile of pepper over the skewer of lamb, blowing over them again before taking a tentative bite.
“Li Erqin…why you….” Peng Zige did not even know what else to say.
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing…” he took a skewer of eggplant and placed it on the grill, “whatever makes you happy…”
Li Erqin’s eyebrows shot up as she grabbed something to drink, only to hear the sickening sound of air. She held the empty can for a petrified three seconds, and even to the naked eye, everyone could see her face speedily turning a bright red.
“Here you go.” A can covered with water droplets suddenly appeared in front of her eyes, and she followed the hand holding the can upwards. It was Rong Si, looking at her as if seeing through her. “I just opened it and didn’t drink from it yet.”
(Minodayz: milk tea, now another drink…. RS I’m drowning in liquids…lol)
Li Erqin gratefully accepted the drink. She didn’t even get to say thank you, or rather, she wasn’t able to say anything, instantly taking big gulps and drinking madly.
“Thank you….” she finally said, offering her gratitude as if her life had just been saved.
Peng Zige did not know whether to laugh or cry and utterly dumbfounded, remarked, “So why did you torture yourself?”
Li Erqin shot him a “you’ll never understand” look and continued to gulp down her drink to relieve her burning mouth.
It was almost 9 p.m. when they walked out of the BBQ restaurant. Not wanting to push their boundaries too far, the group obediently got on the bus heading back to school. However, even leaving immediately, by the time they arrived back at school, the evening remedial would have just about finished.
Realizing this, Su Zi finally began to worry, “Hey, Peng Zige, are we going to be reported and reprimanded?”
“We shouldn’t be,” said Peng Zige, but then he wasn’t too sure so he turned to Rong Si and asked, “Ah Si, do you think we’ll get into serious trouble?”
Peng Zige unhappily slapped Rong Si on his back, “How can you still be so nonchalant about it!”
“With us here,” Rong Si pointed his finger at the three of them, leaving Li Erqin out of the ring, “the teacher will be lenient. Not to worry.”
That’s right, if the top three students in the year were up to mischief together, during the disciplinary, the teachers would definitely be more lenient. Su Zi was flabbergasted.
Peng Zige hollered, “Ah Si, you are totally shameless!”
Rong Si still had that calm expression on his face that just provoked people. “I was only stating the facts.”
Li Erqin, who had been excluded from the ‘clever’ threesome, was holding on to the milk tea that she was drinking to cool her burning mouth. Her face was all lit up with smiles. For a person who had never skipped remedial class with friends in her entire life, she would always look back on this night with a sense of wonder and excitement.
Peng Zige gave Rong Si a look of disdain and turned his head to see the beaming smile on Li Erqin’s face that clearly did not understand the situation. He had to resist the sudden urge to pinch her face. “Li Erqin, please can you just smile nicely!”
Li Erqin made a “pooh” sound. “Awesome! Do you think we’ll get standing detention or will we have to do clean up chores?”
Su Zi and Peng Zige shared a look of disbelief!
(Minodayz: LEQ can you get any more cuter?)
Li Erqin obliviously continued her own musings, “Or will they broadcast or post our misdemeanors?”
When she came to that thought, she excitedly grabbed Rong Si’s shirt, “Just maybe it might come down to just me reciting my own disciplinary action (misdemeanor)! Hahahahaha!”
“This child has gone mad!” Peng Zige concluded. Just then the bus braked, and Peng Zige shot out a hand to steady the wobbly Li Erqin. He pulled her to his side and used his body to protect her. “Who in the world gets so happy about getting punished?”
“Because it has never happened before,” she replied naturally.
Peng Zige was left speechless.
Li Erqin asked in return, “Have you guys ever been punished before?”
Upon receiving their three denials, Li Erqin’s smile deepened. “Doesn’t it feel like we completed a major milestone (new accomplishment)?”
Peng Zige was successfully brainwashed. He suddenly felt he was on the cusp of some new achievement and actually felt a frisson of excitement!