WITHDRAWAL

Chapter 34

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On the second day of their trip, they went for a hike in the mountains. It was a sweltering day, so basically they would just be suffering.

Right before setting out, Fu Shizhou had captured Qiao Luo to help him apply sunscreen. Qiao Luo didn't like how icky it felt, so he didn't want to put any on. He struggled and caused problems, shoving his hands into Fu Shizhou's face. Then Fu Shizhou caught two of his fingers in his mouth and sucked on them a few times.

Qiao Luo's face exploded into flames—Fu Shizhou had also teased him like that back when they were doing it.

Still sporting a red face, he became docile and let Fu Shizhou massage the sunscreen onto his skin. After finishing Qiao Luo's face and neck, Fu Shizhou switched to a sunscreen spray and covered his skinny arms and skinny legs.

Qiao Luo held back what he wanted to say for a long time, before finally blurting out, "You're such an impressive gay. You even came prepared with spray-on sunscreen. You haven't prepared a flowery little parasol for me, have you?"

Fu Shizhou really had brought a parasol to block the sun. Before departing on their trip, he'd asked Handsome Chub's girlfriend for advice on what to pack.

He'd worried that Qiao Luo would suffer a sunburn, so he'd asked that poor girlfriend countless questions. In the end, Handsome Chub's girlfriend couldn't take it any longer. She teased Fu Shizhou for being a worrywart, then helped him place an order for sunscreen, spray-on sunscreen, and a sun-blocking parasol.

And so, after finishing up with the spray-on sunscreen, Fu Shizhou tucked the bottle into the bag he would be carrying with him. Like magic, he produced a little black umbrella from that bag. "It isn't flowery. Later, we can stick some flowers on it for you. Here, hold it yourself."

Qiao Luo kicked his little legs and played with the parasol for a while. Then, petulantly, he asked, "Can I choose not to take it?"

Fu Shizhou instantly shot him down: "No. You have your dance exams coming up soon. What are you going to do if you get a tan?"

Qiao Luo wasn't very happy about that, and he pouted to make sure Fu Shizhou knew he wasn't very happy about that. "Fu Shizhou, you're such a troublesome man."

Fu Shizhou saw those pale, soft lips pucker into a pout. He leaned down to steal a kiss, then played the part of the degenerate: "If you get a tan, the marks I leave on you won't be as obvious."

Qiao Luo fell silent. Then he hastily leapt off the bed, with the umbrella, and bolted out of the room. He didn't even wait for Fu Shizhou before getting into the elevator. When he got downstairs, his face was still red.

The other four had already finished getting ready. They were waiting downstairs. Handsome Chub had picked up a couple little cartons of Ba'xi ice cream from a nearby convenience store. He gave one to Qiao Luo, like an elderly grandpa doting on a little kid.

"Hurry, hurry. Eat quickly while your boyfriend isn't here."

Zhaozi also urged, "Quick, quick, quick. Look at how red your face is, the heat must be getting to you already. I'll cover you. If he scolds you, just say I gave it to you."

Qiao Luo could have laughed until he cried. He opened the Ba'xi and took two bites. It was rum-flavored, which was Fu Shizhou's favorite, so Qiao Luo stopped and saved the rest for him. He did add, ungratefully, "He doesn't scold me."

Zhaozi, who'd gone out of his way to protect someone who wasn't interested in his protection at all, was speechless.

Fu Shizhou finally got downstairs at that point. He had two sets of everything in his hiking bag. It visibly bulged more than everyone else's packs.

Qiao Luo scooted over, still red-faced. He gave Fu Shizhou the Ba'xi and said, "Here! Your favorite flavor!"

Zhaozi said nothing.

Handsome Chub said nothing.

The two women present were so amused that they couldn't stop laughing. Zhaozi took his own girlfriend's hand and decided to never again pay any attention to the little weirdos in the Fu Shizhou/Qiao Luo family.

"Let's go," he said. "We're not good enough for them."

 

They found a place to have some breakfast, bought lots of bottled mineral water and other drinks, and boarded a bus to head to their destination.

The scorching summer heat couldn't smother out everyone's desire to go out and have fun. The scenic spots were crowded with tourists. Little stalls of street snacks and souvenirs could be found all over the place. Some sold beaded bracelets, some offered group photography services… they were really everywhere.

No one in their group was dead set on hiking to the top of the mountain. They played as they wandered around. The two women each bought a flower crown to wear, and they took pictures with their selfie stick or sometimes instructed their own boyfriend to take pictures for them.

Zhaozi and Handsome Chub were really, really straight—after taking each picture, they had to show their girlfriends to see what they thought.

The two girlfriends fiercely hated each and every one of them, so they started taking photos of each other and ultimately decided they could abandon their boyfriends.

Zhaozi usually talked a lot and laughed a lot. But his girlfriend was neglecting the sweet little puppy right in front of her. He whined, "Jie, let's take one today, 'kay?"

Handsome Chub's girlfriend took the picture for them, then asked Zhaozi's girlfriend to help her and Handsome Chub take a photo together too.

The word 'ENVY' was practically carved into Qiao Luo's eyes as he watched. Fu Shizhou tugged on the collar of Qiao Luo's short-sleeved shirt and pulled him to his side before calling out to Zhaozi, "Take one for the two of us too!"

Qiao Luo was thrilled. He instantly struck the most handsome pose in his arsenal and sneakily held Fu Shizhou's hand as well.

Ultimately, in the instant Zhaozi pressed the shutter, Fu Shizhou turned and pressed a kiss to Qiao Luo's face.

Zhaozi, who'd been called over to take their photo, was rendered speechless.

"What did I see! What did I see?! The old pervert is bullying my little cutie pie! I'm blind! I need to wash my eyes!"

Fu Shizhou dealt him the killing blow: "Who's your little cutie? Stop lusting after my boyfriend."

Zhaozi was silent for a moment. "…oh, fuck off!"

Qiao Luo watched their playful banter and laughed until the corners of his eyes crinkled. He really, really loved hearing Fu Shizhou say 'my boyfriend'.

 

By the time they made it halfway up the mountain, it was nearly midday. The sun was even more vicious. Qiao Luo finally realized Fu Shizhou's brilliance—by then, Zhaozi and Handsome Chub were both sweating buckets and trying to squeeze under their respective girlfriend's umbrella.

Qiao Luo saw the others moving up the mountain in pairs, hand-in-hand. He jogged up to Fu Shizhou and scooted close, playing the part of the spoiled brat and whining, "My hand's sore."

Fu Shizhou knew right away what the little brat wanted. He took the parasol and held it for Qiao Luo. "Let's keep moving."

Qiao Luo's newly-freed hand instantly felt restless. He blinked up at Fu Shizhou and hopefully asked, "You… aren't going to lead me?"

He reached for the old tricks he'd used when he was younger. Sweetly, he continued, "There are so many people around. I won't get lost, will I?"

Fu Shizhou almost had to laugh, but he didn't have anything against wrapping an arm around Qiao Luo's shoulders and tugging him to his side. "Mm, we can't have that. Where would I find another little boyfriend like you?"

At noon, they stopped at a food stall halfway up the mountain to eat. Although Qiao Luo seemed rather delicate, that was mostly because he wanted Fu Shizhou to spoil him. In truth, his physical strength was nothing to scoff at.

But the two girlfriends were already suffering from sore legs. After the group discussed it amongst themselves, they decided to ride the chairlift the rest of the way up.

Each carriage of the chairlift at that tourist spot could seat two people. It was as though it had been specially designed for couples.

That was what it looked like to Qiao Luo, anyway. As soon as the carriage started rockily swaying up the cable, he cuddled in against Fu Shizhou's chest and even drew Fu Shizhou's arm around his own waist.

Fu Shizhou was afraid he would move around chaotically, so he held him tight and belatedly asked, "Brave enough to squirm around? Not afraid of falling?"

Qiao Luo twisted around to look at the scenic view behind them. As he tilted his head, his lips brushed a soft kiss across Fu Shizhou's cheek. He dopily, quietly whispered, "I feel like because you're with me, I'll be fine even if I fall from here."

Fu Shizhou smiled and good-naturedly smoothed down a lock of Qiao Luo's hair that had started sticking up out of place. He held Qiao Luo a little tighter, in case the little dumb-dumb really did get overconfident and take a spill out of the carriage. Then he said, "Do you think I'm Superman or Spiderman? If you fall, there's nothing I'll be able to do."

Qiao Luo rested his chin on Fu Shizhou's shoulder and gazed at the lush, verdant trees that they were leaving far behind in the distance. Softly, he insisted, "But I'm just not scared. You're holding me so tightly. Is that because you're going to kiss me?"

What kind of question was that? Fu Shizhou smiled again as he took in the sight of Qiao Luo, who'd already closed his eyes in anticipation for a kiss.

A few hundred meters up in the air, Fu Shizhou gave him a sweet kiss. Then, as they approached their landing pad, he murmured against Qiao Luo's lips, "When I'm with you, there really isn't anything you need to fear."

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Chapter 34

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