WHEN AN ALPHA IS MARKED BY ONE OF HIS OWN KIND

Chapter 73

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Lu Zhe ducked his head and looked at that bouquet. Countless little Baby's-breath flowers surrounded the roses, creating a beautiful arrangement that typically would have looked best in the arms of a woman. However, with Lu Zhe's elegant features, these vibrant red roses actually complemented his facial features perfectly. When he held the bouquet, it was like all the light in the world gathered around him.

As he watched Lu Zhe bow his head to breathe in the scent of the flowers, Shen Qiao had to reach for his phone to snap a photo.

Lu Zhe wasn't overly surprised. He simply looked up and lifted his gaze to Shen Qiao's face. Even Lu Zhe himself didn't know that his eyes would crinkle with mirth and light up with warmth whenever he looked at Shen Qiao.

Once Shen Qiao put his phone away, Lu Zhe smilingly asked, "What did you sneak a photo of me for?"

Shen Qiao stuck his hands in his pockets and flashed a smile of his own. He self-righteously argued, "It's not sneaking a photo if you get caught. It's just outright taking a photo. Is there anything wrong with me taking a photo of my person?"

Lu Zhe listened to his whole argument. The smile on his lips grew wider and wider.

"Not at all," he answered. "Go ahead, take as many as you want. I'll strike any pose you want."

Shen Qiao narrowed his eyes. "…you wanna be gross again?"

Lu Zhe mimicked the self-righteous smile Shen Qiao had flashed earlier. His whole face lit up with that smile, and his tone was filled with delight as he said, "You have to cherish your person. Even if you cry, you have to keep cherishing him."

The hidden meaning: I'm allowed to be gross because you indulge me, isn't that right?

Shen Qiao arched his eyebrows, as though contemplating whether or not he really wanted a husband. But when his gaze fell upon Lu Zhe, he noticed that Lu Zhe looked a little uncomfortable with everything in his arms, from the huge bouquet to his diploma and other papers.

So Shen Qiao decided to let go of Lu Zhe's teasing words. He reached out to help Lu Zhe carry some things, including the flowers, only to hear Lu Zhe say—

"I can't let you help me carry these. These are the flowers my boyfriend gave me as a graduation gift."

Shen Qiao fell silent.

He couldn't help but laugh as he muttered, "Immature."

Ultimately, though, he only took the documents and various pamphlets from Lu Zhe. He flipped through them idly, eventually stopping at two very formal and exquisite documents.

A graduation certificate, and a diploma.

The blue-gray cover looked extremely luxurious. Before Shen Qiao even opened the folder, he could already feel the heavy weight of these documents in his hands. He inexplicably found himself wondering—

Is this the weight of knowledge?

Lu Zhe had originally started walking with Shen Qiao, only to find Shen Qiao running his fingers over the embossed lines of text on the outside of his diploma. He suddenly stopped and asked, "Do you want to take a picture with me here?"

Shen Qiao looked up. He hadn't opened the folder in his hands yet. When he heard that offer, he met Lu Zhe's gaze and hesitated for a moment.

"Better not…" He lifted a hand and ran it through his hair a few times while he looked around at the students milling around nearby. Each and every one of them exuded a studious air. Shen Qiao continued, a little more firmly, "I'm not a student here."

Lu Zhe felt his heart ache when he heard that. He lifted his injured arm and tugged Shen Qiao over. Because of his injury, he couldn't use much force, but Shen Qiao came willingly, moving almost of his own accord.

"I just remembered, in addition to flowers at graduation, people are supposed to take graduation photos too. I already missed the opportunity to take photos with my class, so I can only take personal graduation photos now. I hear you're supposed to take those with your significant other, your friends, and your family."

Shen Qiao hesitated for a moment. "…really?"

Lu Zhe reasonably stated, "If you don't believe me, look online."

Shen Qiao looked down at himself to check what he was wearing. Although he'd spent a little extra time choosing his outfit before heading out that day, he was pretty sure he still wasn't dressed properly for anything as grand as graduation photos.

He couldn't help but furrow his brow when he looked up and asked, "What I'm wearing isn't appropriate, is it?"

Lu Zhe looked him over. Shen Qiao was dressed casually. He wore a black t-shirt with a graffiti-esque pattern around the hem, paired with light jeans that made his legs look exceptionally long and slim.

He absolutely radiated youth and light.

As for Lu Zhe… he'd worn a silk dress shirt and dark slacks that day. He looked both fashionable and proper. He could switch between seriousness and a carefree attitude at a whim, depending on how he held himself.

The two of them wore opposite color schemes, but that in and of itself was a form of matching. Lu Zhe smiled at Shen Qiao and asked, "How is it inappropriate? How could matching couples' outfits be inappropriate?"

Shen Qiao still held on to a final bit of hesitation. "Couples' outfits aren't like this…"

Lu Zhe was already ushering him towards a spot on campus that would make a good backdrop. "I say it is. When it comes to this sort of thing, just listen to me."

……

"Wow!"

"This diploma is so cool! Captain, can I take a look inside?"

"Is this Captain Lu from his first year of college?"

"Looks like it. I almost forgot how bright-eyed and proper he looked back then. Ai, he's nothing like that now. He was never so mean, so roguish back then."

DG's members swarmed around Shen Qiao and Lu Zhe once they returned from Lu Zhe's university. Old Wo and the others, who hadn't gone to college, were all eager to pass around Lu Zhe's diploma.

Lu Zhe let them check out his diploma as much as they pleased. He busied himself with arranging his bouquet in a very conspicuous place in the training room. But Old Wo and the others all knew who had given him that bouquet, so they didn't bother asking.

As a result, Lu Zhe pointedly moved his bouquet into an even more noticeable place.

It was just then that Manager Zhou entered the room. He wanted to talk to Lu Zhe about a minor sponsor who wanted to work with them during the playoffs. For fear of stepping on another one of Lu Zhe's hidden mines, Manager Zhou decided to run it by him first.

But as soon as he walked in, that captivating bouquet of red roses caught his eye.

Manager Zhou froze. "Which one of your fans sent a gift here?"

Before Lu Zhe could say anything, his teammates all hastily answered, "Captain Lu's."

Manager Zhou turned to Lu Zhe and instantly spotted the look of satisfaction on Lu Zhe's face.

Lu Zhe's tone was light and airy as he spoke, as though this wasn't even worth mentioning. "A graduation gift from Qiaoqiao."

Manager Zhou was silenced.

Well-played.

After suffering a bout of speechlessness, Manager Zhou decided to treat this as Lu Zhe brightening up the room for everyone. He waved Lu Zhe over and said, "It's good timing that you're here. Come over here for a minute, I need to talk to you about something."

Lu Zhe got up and walked towards him, taking out his cell phone along the way.

He didn't open up any of his apps. Instead, as he walked with Manager Zhou, he only lit up the screen, then dimmed it again. Then lit it up again, then dimmed it again.

Manager Zhou didn't take note of his actions at first, but he would have had to be blind to not notice them forever. Ultimately, he couldn't help but ask, "Your cell phone…"

Is it broken or something?

Lu Zhe instantly shoved his phone in front of Manager Zhou's face, showing off the new wallpaper—which just so happened to be a photo he and Shen Qiao had taken on campus that day.

The sunlight was spilling through tree branches, scattering and raining down on the two figures in the photo. The young man standing slightly in front seemed unaccustomed to being in pictures; his expression was a little stiff. But he was still accommodating of the other man in the photo, who was leaning in close with his chin propped up on the first man's shoulder, smiling with delight and satisfaction in his eyes.

Manager Zhou said nothing.

Lu Zhe saw that lack of a response and took the initiative to ask, "Does it look good?"

Manager Zhou dryly answered, "Looks good."

Lu Zhe still didn't move to put his cell phone away. Manager Zhou waited for a while, then couldn't help but make an inquisitive noise.

"That's it?" Lu Zhe patiently prompted. "You don't have any other words of congratulations or praise?"

Manager Zhou was speechless.

He seriously, truly, really didn't know what to say.

 

Author's Notes:

Manager Zhou: My life is so hard.

Can't you tell what Captain Lu wants to hear? What are you waiting for?! Praise him!

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