WITHDRAWAL

Chapter 39

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The results of Qiao Luo's dance exams began to trickle in. Besides the national exam, Qiao Luo had also applied to take the dance exam for four individual universities. His scores were all exceptional. He'd even ranked first in the exam for Fu Shizhou's alma mater.

But what would follow was his humanities track entrance exam. Studying for that was hell. Qiao Luo no longer had afternoon dance practice after his performance exams. He spent all day at school instead, studying from day to night. He wasn't very accustomed to that sort of schedule, and his efficiency plummeted.

However, when it came to Qiao Luo, Fu Shizhou always had a way.

He understood Qiao Luo better than anyone, and he'd seen this coming from a mile away. While Qiao Luo had taken summer tutoring lessons after his second year of high school, Fu Shizhou had worked with the tutor to prepare a study plan for Qiao Luo's third year.

Although Fu Shizhou only visited once every weekend, he could still check in on Qiao Luo's work over video chat.

And Qiao Luo could always demand to be spoiled and pampered over video chat too.

Every time, after he finished his homework under Fu Shizhou's watchful eye, he would softly and weakly whine to Fu Shizhou, "Why doesn't my boyfriend know he's supposed to give me a kiss to comfort me?"

And so, when the weekends arrived, Fu Shizhou would always prove that he did, in fact, know what he was supposed to do.

When Fu Shizhou came over, Qiao Luo would always do his best to give them a cover story, which typically only made matters more suspicious. He tended to call out things like, "Mom! Dad! Zhouzhou-gege and I are going into the study! I need to review my math, so don't disturb us!"

More like he didn't want anyone to disturb his quality alone time with Zhouzhou-gege, right?

Papa Qiao and Mama Qiao already couldn't be bothered to supervise these two silly kids who mutually adored each other but didn't know it. They would always simply answer, "Then take the fruit plate up with you!"

However, the parents were the silly ones. The kids had learned of their mutual adoration a long time ago.

The kids had even used the oh-so-sacred math book as a cover for an oh-so-sweet kiss.

However, it was only ever a kiss. Besides the time it took to snack on their fruit plate and eat a proper meal, Fu Shizhou would make Qiao Luo study until ten at night. Then, because Qiao Luo was tired beyond belief, he would have to be carried into the bedroom by Fu Shizhou. He would always be sleepy enough to doze off without even taking a shower.

Fu Shizhou was a strict and indomitable test review overlord during the day. But when he took in the sight of such a sleepy little brat, his heart softened again. One night, he fetched a towel and helped Qiao Luo wipe down his face and neck, then lifted up his nightclothes to wipe down his arms and legs as well. Then, finally, he pressed a kiss to the dip between Qiao Luo's brows.

Qiao Luo was deliriously sleepy by then. He hazily got the feeling that Fu Shizhou was laying hands on him, so he flipped over and squirmed away, blearily mumbling, "I'm so tired, wait until after entrance exams… then you can do me…"

Fu Shizhou, who had purely resigned himself to playing the part of a nanny, said nothing.

That night, in the evening chill of April, Fu Shizhou took an ice cold shower.

 

Luckily, college entrance exams were in June. Qiao Luo didn't have to suffer too long, and Fu Shizhou also didn't… ahem, 'suffer' for too long.

After taking his final test, Qiao Luo charged out of the examination room only to find that his parents were nowhere to be seen. Only Fu Shizhou remained, waiting for him outside.

Qiao Luo bewilderedly spun around in a circle, looking for his missing parents. He felt like this was a serious assault on his feelings. Turning back to Fu Shizhou, he asked, "I finished all my tests, and my parents don't care?"

Fu Shizhou gave him a cold drink to help him cool down. He held the cup while Qiao Luo took a few sips, then deliberately distorted Qiao Luo's words to tease him: "They probably don't plan on keeping you, right? As soon as I told them I was going to stay and confess to you, Uncle Qiao and Auntie Qiao made their excuses to go to the restaurant early and order some dishes for you."

Bit by bit, Qiao Luo's eyes widened. "Papa and Mama approve of us being together!"

Fu Shizhou smiled and nodded. "Mm."

Qiao Luo practically glowed with admiration. "God, I was taking my tests inside, and you were outside coming clean to my mom and dad. You're way too awesome!"

Fu Shizhou didn't mention exactly when he'd come clean. He simply took Qiao Luo's backpack, passed him the cold drink, and said, "Let's go. Take me to meet your parents."

Qiao Luo happily bounced along with Fu Shizhou at his side. He'd only taken a few steps before his hand shot out, taking hold of Fu Shizhou's. His voice was filled with emotion as he said, "Wow, you move way too fast. I only just graduated, and you already want to meet my parents?"

His speech was especially light and breezy that day. Most likely because he was overjoyed from finally attaining his freedom.

And his speech and expression were all filled with little traces of exuberance. He looked very much like he was gloating. Fu Shizhou was almost too entertained. He gave Qiao Luo's little head a pat and said, "Quit the baobei act, hurry up and get in the car."

Qiao Luo climbed into the passenger seat and buckled up his own seatbelt.

But there really were far too many people at the exam site. The parking lot was overcrowded with all sorts of vehicles. Fu Shizhou could only slowly inch his car towards the exit. Qiao Luo flipped through the songs loaded into Fu Shizhou's stereo to alleviate his boredom. After flipping through for a while, he found nothing that could fully capture the joy he felt in his heart in that moment, so he decided to give Fu Shizhou an impromptu live concert instead.

Fu Shizhou listened to his little boyfriend's heartfelt singing for ten whole minutes before he was able to inch to the exit of the parking lot. While he had his phone out to pay the parking fee, he sent Qiao Luo the 51st installment of his mini program.

Qiao Luo's phone vibrated with a WeChat notification, and he even naively asked Fu Shizhou, "There's more? What is it?"

Fu Shizhou said, "Take a look for yourself. A present for summer break."

It was the same sort of game as always, the same routine. By the time Fu Shizhou pulled out of the parking lot, Qiao Luo had already cleared the game and received the prize—a pair of plane tickets.

Qiao Luo studied the destination airport for a moment, feeling like it looked a bit familiar. He turned and asked Fu Shizhou, "You're taking me on our honeymoon?"

Fu Shizhou gave that some thought and ultimately decided that was indeed the main purpose of the trip. And so, he said, "Yes."

 

Finally, the two of them could appear in front of their family while walking hand-in-hand. A sudden flush of embarrassment came over Qiao Luo.

It was clearly only his own mother and father there, but he was even more nervous than Fu Shizhou. As they approached the private room that they'd reserved for dinner, Qiao Luo whispered to Fu Shizhou, "My mom and dad really approve, right?"

Fu Shizhou pulled him along by the hand and laced their fingers together. He gave Qiao Luo's hand a reassuring squeeze and said, "Silly little dumb-dumb, when did Uncle and Auntie ever oppose?"

"Oh, that's true…" Qiao Luo nodded and relaxed just a little. "They were always afraid that you wouldn't like me back."

Then, he gave Fu Shizhou his marching orders: "In that case, you have to show them that you really, really, really like me. Or else my mom and dad might start opposing our relationship now."

Fu Shizhou agreed to his terms, and Qiao Luo finally relaxed a bit more. The two of them stepped into the private room, still walking hand-in-hand. When Qiao Luo saw his own parents' gazes land on them, his face still burned up with a blush.

But the elders didn't go out of their way to tease the young sweethearts, so Qiao Luo didn't have to suffer too much embarrassment for long. In the end, near the end of their meal, Fu Shizhou suddenly lifted his wine glass and said, "Uncle Qiao, Auntie Qiao, a toast to you both."

His expression was completely sincere and earnest as he continued, "I could never give up on Luoluo. Thank you for allowing me to like him."

Papa Qiao and Mama Qiao both drank to that. "Not everyone will accept you out of love the way we did. Many things will happen in the future, on this road you'll walk. You'll have to prepare yourselves well."

Qiao Luo was silent.

He suddenly remembered the time he'd attended the wedding of Fu Shizhou's shi'jie. When the shi'jie had been walked down the aisle and given away by her father, the man had said something similar to her as well.

Like he was entrusting her to someone else for the rest of her life.

Qiao Luo drifted through his thoughts for a minute or so, and ultimately his own thoughts made his little face burn red again.

Once Fu Shizhou sat back down, Qiao Luo plastered himself to Fu Shizhou's side and squeezed out a few words in a tiny voice: "Why did you suddenly get so serious…"

Fu Shizhou also lowered his voice and whispered in Qiao Luo's ear, "Didn't you tell me? I had to show them that I really, really, really like you."

As he took in the sight of Qiao Luo's thoroughly reddened face, he added, "And I do. I really, really, really like you."

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