Although Qiao Luo had grown up with this bunch, he didn't actually get that many chances to speak when they all hung out together.
This time was the same. He could barely get a word in edgewise. He could only sit idly by and drink his Coke, but he didn't just drink it normally. He practically chewed through the straw.
Fu Shizhou didn't even look at him. He didn't have to. He intuitively reached out and saved the straw from Qiao Luo's mouth.
As a result, Qiao Luo followed his confiscated Coke cup and scooted closer to Fu Shizhou. He was reeled in like a little fish on a hook. The straw was the fishing line, and Fu Shizhou was the bait.
In the past, Qiao Luo had always tagged along to these get-togethers as Fu Shizhou's little tail. Even if he was so bored that mushrooms started growing out of his head, he wouldn't make a peep. He'd always been afraid that he would annoy them, and that Fu Shizhou wouldn't bring him along next time.
But now, Qiao Luo had been promoted. He very confidently spoke up and made a request: "I want more egg tarts."
Although Qiao Luo had scooted close to Fu Shizhou, the table was only so big. The others naturally heard. Zhaozi started laughing right away. "Qiao Luo, how old are you already? Let me do the math. You're five years younger than me, so… you're already seventeen! Why are you still so afraid of Fu Shizhou? Come, come, come. Zhaozi-ge will take you to buy some more."
The single dog didn't understand the true intentions of these young sweethearts. Qiao Luo's attempt to get Fu Shizhou to pamper him had been foiled by Zhaozi, and Qiao Luo couldn't exactly insist on dragging Fu Shizhou with them, so he could only kick Fu Shizhou under the table before getting up to buy more egg tarts with Zhaozi.
In truth, Qiao Luo was already super full. He'd only asked for more egg tarts so that he could get Fu Shizhou to go with him. Since he couldn't really eat any more, he only dug out the filling of each egg tart with a little spoon. He tossed the 'tart' part of the egg tarts directly into Fu Shizhou's hamburger box.
Fu Shizhou gave Zhaozi a look, then ate the pastry shells that Qiao Luo tossed his way. "You think being seventeen means anything?" he asked. "Even when he's twenty-seven, he'll still make me eat the things he doesn't want."
Zhaozi's face filled up with doubt and confusion. "Is that something you should be bragging about?"
But Fu Shizhou's words had made Qiao Luo blush to the roots of his ears. He didn't dare act spoiled anymore. He sat quietly at the table, like a good boy.
Fu Shizhou wiped his mouth with a wet wipe, then patted Qiao Luo on the head. "Qiao Luo wanted to go see a movie before you guys got back. It's about time, so we'll head out first. We'll get in touch again later."
"What movie?" Zhaozi asked. "We're not doing anything anyway. Why don't we go together?"
Fu Shizhou actually took out his phone and made a show of checking their tickets. "It's called 'Faraway', a detective film. It's gotten really good reviews lately."
Qiao Luo anxiously tugged at the hem of Fu Shizhou's shirt, desperately trying to get Fu Shizhou to look at him. He was deathly afraid that Zhaozi would actually be interested enough to go with them.
Fu Shizhou suppressed a laugh and added, "Tickets for the showing I booked are already sold out."
Qiao Luo's long-awaited date was finally here.
It was the middle of winter, but the emotions in Qiao Luo's heart were already in full bloom. He felt like he was drifting through a sea of cherry blossoms. Everything was tinged with a touch of pink or red. A soft breeze rustled the willow trees in his chest, and their leaves brushed over his heart. Yellow orioles flapped their wings and sang their song.
It was enough to make him feel itchy with anticipation.
Their tickets were for around seven that night. If they went out to the theater now, they would be four hours early.
As soon as Qiao Luo saw the time of their showing, he knew he'd kicked up a fuss for nothing again. After studying Fu Shizhou for a while, he said, "I bothered you again."
"You bother me every day," Fu Shizhou said.
Qiao Luo stuck his head across the center console of the car and leaned towards Fu Shizhou. "Then, do you still like me?"
"I like you every day," Fu Shizhou said.
Qiao Luo brimmed over with joy again. He smacked a kiss against Fu Shizhou's cheek and said, "Then come play some arcade games with me."
And so, Fu Shizhou took him to the arcade on the sixth floor of the shopping center. He bought some game tokens, which were nearly all spent in just over half an hour. Qiao Luo was like a black hole when it came to arcade games. He only lost and never won. Ultimately, he slunk back over to Fu Shizhou and dejectedly mumbled, "Let's go, I don't want to play anymore."
He looked so tragic, so aggrieved. Fu Shizhou took their last four or five tokens and said, "We still have a few. If you don't want to play, just watch me."
Fu Shizhou picked the basketball game at random. Ten minutes later, Fu Shizhou had broken the machine's high score and won Qiao Luo a whole bunch of tokens.
Qiao Luo clutched the tokens. His face glowed with open adoration as he said, "You're really too awesome, aren't you?"
He tugged on Fu Shizhou's shirt and lifted himself up on his tiptoes to whisper in Fu Shizhou's ear: "My heart is beating so fast. It's because you're too handsome."
This little boyfriend seemed to say these things so easily, so casually. Fu Shizhou did his best to keep a straight face as he patted Qiao Luo's head. "Sweet-talker."
"It's not just talk," Qiao Luo insisted. "If you don't believe me, touch it for yourself."
Fu Shizhou was silent for a moment. "…you want me to touch you where?"
Qiao Luo's brain, which had been sent on a vacation by Fu Shizhou's handsomeness, suddenly returned to work. He froze for a second, then grabbed a big fistful of game tokens and fled very, very quickly.
His heart was even beating faster now.
He couldn't even focus when they went to watch their movie. Qiao Luo's mind continued to buzz. He felt like the clunk, clunk of the basketball game had thrown him off balance.
He dazedly followed Fu Shizhou home.
Before going out, Qiao Luo had already told his parents that he would be staying over at the Fu family's house. But after herding Qiao Luo into the shower, Fu Shizhou still called Papa Qiao to say that they'd gotten home safely and that there was no need to worry.
Fu Shizhou washed some strawberries after making that call. When he took them upstairs for Qiao Luo, he found that Qiao Luo had already gotten out of the shower and climbed under the covers. The warm water had his skin looking all soft and pink.
Fu Shizhou placed the big bowl of strawberries in Qiao Luo's arms, then went off to take a shower himself. When he finished and emerged from the bathroom, he found Qiao Luo standing right outside, barefoot. Fu Shizhou furrowed his brow as he looked at Qiao Luo's feet. "What's up? Where are your slippers?"
Qiao Luo's heart beat like a little drum. He shuffled closer, red-faced, and mustered up his courage to ask, "You want to touch me?"
This little brat really dared to say anything and everything. Fu Shizhou choked, then quickly darkened his expression and repeated his question from earlier: "Where do you want me to touch you?"
Qiao Luo's face turned an even deeper shade of red. His pale skin practically glowed with bashfulness, turning him as pink as the inner flesh of a strawberry.
He couldn't bring himself to say where. Qiao Luo was anxious and ashamed. Weakly, he murmured, "Just… just… my heartbeat."
He finally managed to finish saying what he'd started back at the arcade: "It's beating so fast… because it likes you so much."
Fu Shizhou couldn't help but carry Qiao Luo back to bed. He pressed him into the sheets, and kissed him.
A fluffy down comforter was spread out beneath Qiao Luo. He sank into it as he tipped his head up, just a little. He closed his eyes and breathed out a shallow whine. After a while, he restlessly twisted his hips a little, breaking free from Fu Shizhou's kiss.
Fu Shizhou had been stirred up by Qiao Luo's guileless provocations, but his kisses were neither too light nor too heavy. Qiao Luo was still so young and inexperienced, though. He'd accidentally stirred himself up a bit too much.
To a seventeen-year-old boy, this wasn't exactly some huge catastrophe that had never come to pass before. At least, it wouldn't have been some huge catastrophe… if he hadn't gotten stirred 'up' in front of his own boyfriend.
Qiao Luo was so embarrassed that his ears burned up. He panted quietly as he gazed up at Fu Shizhou, whispering, "What do I do?"
What else could they possibly do?
Fu Shizhou lowered his head and kissed Qiao Luo's forehead. He held Qiao Luo in one arm as his other hand traveled lower. His voice was deep and low as he answered, "I'll take responsibility."
Ah, this part was so hard to write! One wrong word could get me locked up…