WITHDRAWAL

Chapter 19

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Most of Fu Shizhou's wounds were on his shoulders, back, and arms. He had some injuries on his face and hands as well.

Qiao Luo's parents were still worried. They insisted on calling a family friend who happened to be a surgeon, just to get a second opinion. After checking again and again to confirm that Fu Shizhou hadn't suffered any head or abdominal injuries, Papa Qiao and Mama Qiao finally helped him treat his wounds and told him to get some rest.

Throughout the whole process, Qiao Luo was nowhere to be found.

Papa Qiao and Mama Qiao were so worried about Fu Shizhou's condition that they didn't notice this abnormality. But Fu Shizhou, who thought only of Qiao Luo with his whole heart, realized something was wrong.

In the car, the little brat had been worried to death about him. Why had he suddenly started ignoring Fu Shizhou as soon as they got home?

After mulling it over, Fu Shizhou ultimately decided against letting the kid see his purple and green bruises. He didn't want to make Qiao Luo shed any more tears.

Fu Shizhou waited until his wounds were dressed before he, naturally, went looking for Qiao Luo again.

It was already too late at night; he would definitely have to stay over at the Qiao family's place. Which meant he would, of course, sleep in Qiao Luo's room.

Fu Shizhou had never been rejected before. Qiao Luo was always determined to stick to him when he spent the night, so Fu Shizhou kept him company and slept at his side, though he never let Qiao Luo share his covers.

But that night, when Fu Shizhou went upstairs and pushed on Qiao Luo's door, he discovered that—shockingly, Qiao Luo had locked the door.

Fu Shizhou blinked.

He stood outside the door and spent a full minute reflecting upon recent events. He didn't think he'd done anything to provoke or irritate Qiao Luo.

Optimistically, he wondered, Could the little brat be angry because I got hurt?

But then, his jealousy and imagination started running wild, and he thought, Or could it be… that the girl who gave him a love letter was also harassed, and the little brat is comforting her now?

Fu Shizhou took a deep breath and knocked twice, very lightly, on the door. "Qiao Luo?"

Qiao Luo didn't make a peep. He was pretending to be sound asleep. Dead to the world.

Fu Shizhou had no other choice. He had to go talk to Papa Qiao, after which—for the first time in his life, Fu Shizhou got ready to sleep in the Qiao family's guest room.

 

Qiao Luo was stressed to death. He had been terrified that Fu Shizhou would say something else at the door, something that he couldn't pretend he didn't hear.

Once he heard Fu Shizhou going back downstairs, Qiao Luo let out a breath of relief. He sat up in bed, still dazed. His gaze fell across his room, blank and vacant.

Whenever he encountered any problem he couldn't solve on his own, Qiao Luo would immediately call Fu Shizhou or sprint next door to find Fu Shizhou.

Zhouzhou-gege, he would whine. What should I do?

But this time, the one who'd inflicted an unsolvable problem upon Qiao Luo was Fu Shizhou himself.

Qiao Luo thought of Fu Shizhou's wounds, worrying about those injuries and feeling guilty over rudely locking Fu Shizhou out of his room. Then he thought of Fu Shizhou's face, and his heartbeat quickened to the point that he could hardly bear it.

He had never encountered such a thorny problem in his entire pure, sheltered, and happy life. His brain had basically crashed. His thoughts had turned into a jumbled ball of yarn, and he had no idea where that ball started or stopped. He didn't even know where to start untangling the mess in his head.

Ultimately, in his desperation, he could only turn to Baidu.

Question: Men, what do you do when you want to kiss your gege?

The search engine was as stupid as Qiao Luo himself. All the search results were stuff like 'I'm in love with my (real) big brother, what do I do?'

Did these people's brother complexes really have anything to do with his question?!1

Fu Shizhou wasn't his real big brother in the first place!

No, wait… love?!

Was he in love with Fu Shizhou?!

One end of his tangled ball of thoughts appeared. When Qiao Luo gave it a firm yank, that ball of yarn in his head unraveled. Suddenly, he could clearly make out all the jumbled thoughts that had cluttered up his mind. And in each and every one of those thoughts, one word glittered brightly—

Love.

He loved Fu Shizhou. That much was only natural.

He had always relied on Fu Shizhou too much. After more than a decade of slow development, that reliance had built into the desire to continue relying on Fu Shizhou for the rest of his life. It had built into love.

Qiao Luo couldn't sit still any longer.

He wanted to ask Fu Shizhou so, so, so many questions. But, first, he wanted to check on Fu Shizhou's wounds.

His Zhouzhou-gege, the one he'd just realized he had feelings for, had gotten hurt because of him today.

Qiao Luo quietly opened the door. The whole house was silent and still. After fussing over him all night, his parents had both gone to sleep already. The house was nearly pitch black, illuminated only by the moonlight spilling in through the windows whose curtains hadn't been drawn shut. That moonlight coated the floors with a golden, sugary sheen.

Qiao Luo crept across that layer of golden sugar and slipped into the guest room on the first floor, which also seemed to emanate a wave of sweetness.

Fu Shizhou hadn't locked his door. When Qiao Luo slipped into the room, Fu Shizhou was in the middle of responding to WeChat texts.

He was the only one staying in the guest room, and he had wounds all over his body, so he'd only put on a pair of sweatpants that he kept at the Qiao family's house. His upper body was completely bare, and he was leaning against the headboard of the bed.

Originally, he'd planned on heading back to his office on campus to debug a program that night. And due to his eventful evening, and their trip to the police station, he'd gone incommunicado for several hours. Lots of messages from his peers had piled up on his phone, and he had to reply to them one by one.

When he was younger, Qiao Luo had seen a shirtless Fu Shizhou playing basketball many times. And the two of them had gone swimming together too. But when Qiao Luo saw Fu Shizhou's well-defined abs and hips now, his face inexplicably reddened.

Softly and sweetly, he called out, "Zhouzhou-gege."

Fu Shizhou looked up. Qiao Luo was wearing a pair of fuzzy pajamas. The bright yellow fabric was wrapped around the little dango's pale, soft skin, and his cheeks were dusted with two splotches of cherry-blossom pink. Right away, Fu Shizhou's first reaction was to get some clothes on.

But his shirt had already been thrown into the washing machine. He didn't even have a t-shirt within arm's reach, and it would have been way too weird to frantically search for a shirt to wear.

He forced himself to remain calm as he asked, "What is it?"

Qiao Luo shamelessly threw out a baseless accusation: "Why are you sleeping in the guest bedroom."

Fu Shizhou was silent for a moment. "…you locked the door, didn't you?"

Qiao Luo played dumb. "I didn't, did I? Maybe I accidentally flipped it on my way in. You should have just called out to me, y'know."

He sidled up to Fu Shizhou and stopped at his side to examine his wounds. His heart was aching again. "Zhouzhou-gege, does it hurt?"

Qiao Luo was so close that his breath fell across Fu Shizhou's shoulder. His soft and delicate body was extremely close, nearly pressed up against Fu Shizhou's skin.

Fu Shizhou felt uneasy all over. He tossed his cell phone aside and got up, with a very fake and forced sort of casualness. He crossed the room to the dresser and rummaged around until he found a bath towel, which he draped over his torso.

"Doesn't hurt," he finally answered. "I'm fine."

Qiao Luo had blindly followed him across the room. Fu Shizhou reached out and petted his hair as he repeated, "I'm fine, really. Go to sleep."

Qiao Luo took his hand and looked up at Fu Shizhou with his little face and his soft, warm eyes. "You don't want me anymore?"

Where the hell was this coming from? Fu Shizhou was clearly the one who had been locked out and rejected.

But Fu Shizhou was really helpless against Qiao Luo. He flipped his hand over and took Qiao Luo's, leading him back out of the guest room as he asked, "Who was the little brat who wouldn't open the door for me earlier?"

"I dunno," Qiao Luo alleged innocently, drawing out the vowels.

It was already very late. Fu Shizhou returned to Qiao Luo's room with Qiao Luo and found a big t-shirt that he'd left there, pulling it on as a nightshirt. Then he tucked Qiao Luo in properly and urged, "Hurry up and get some sleep. You still have to go to school tomorrow. I'll drive you there."

However, Qiao Luo refused to sleep.

His heart and his mind were still preoccupied. He wouldn't reveal all his cards right away, though. He played them close to the chest and tugged on the corners of his covers as he quietly whispered, "Zhouzhou-gege, if I do something wrong, will you whoop me?"

Fu Shizhou was lying halfway on his stomach to avoid aggravating his wounds. He instantly answered, "Yep."

Qiao Luo felt a wave of disappointment, but he didn't give up. He continued, "Then, will you not want me anymore?"

Fu Shizhou furrowed his brows in the dark. He couldn't help but think that something was seriously wrong with Qiao Luo today. Could it be that Qiao Luo really had something going on with that girl from his class? Was he taking precautionary measures against Fu Shizhou's anger?

With that suspicion in mind, Fu Shizhou didn't give a direct answer. He simply retorted, "What do you think?"

Qiao Luo couldn't get a good sense of whether or not Fu Shizhou would throw him away for doing something wrong. He pursed his lips and thought for a while before asking, "Then, do you have someone you like?"

Fu Shizhou's eyes flew open. In the dark, he met Qiao Luo's bright and shiny eyes. His heart softened, but soured at the same time. In that moment, he wanted to make Qiao Luo his. But he could only force himself to keep calm and respond, icily, "No. You really want to waste time talking about feelings? Hurry up and sleep."

Qiao Luo truly fell into despair now. His Zhouzhou-gege didn't like anyone. That meant his Zhouzhou-gege didn't like him.

He had been thoroughly discomfited by Fu Shizhou's stern and cold answer. His nose quivered faintly as he mumbled, "But I have someone I like."

Fu Shizhou's hands, hidden under the covers, curled into fists. His whole body went tense and taut. His heart hurt more than any of the wounds on his body.

It's over, he thought. The little brat really does like that girl. He's even earnestly laying his cards on the table.

Then… what was Fu Shizhou supposed to do?

 

1. There's a very fun pun here that didn't translate well. The word '亲' (qīn) means 'kiss', so in his search, Qiao Luo includes the phrase '亲哥哥', meaning 'kiss gege'. But the word '亲' can also mean blood-related, so all his results are people saying they fell in love with their '亲哥哥', meaning 'blood-related big brother'. The original line here has Qiao Luo thinking, 'Are 亲哥哥 and 亲哥哥 really the same thing?!'

 

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One thought on “WITHDRAWAL

Chapter 19

  1. Lol this is a pit question: Do you have anyone you like
    No means you don't like me
    Yes means you like someone else

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