Qiao Luo was soaking up the joy of finishing his entrance exams and bringing their 'underground' relationship to light. But, that night, he realized that staying 'underground' may have been a bit better.
After dinner, he naturally started following Fu Shizhou back to the Fu family's house. But Fu Shizhou stopped him with a finger to the forehead at the front door.
Qiao Luo was extremely disgruntled. Fu Shizhou poked him twice, leaving a very faint red point between his brows that made Qiao Luo resemble an extra-large Child of Wealth.
Unhappily, Qiao Luo pouted and demanded, "What are you doing."
Fu Shizhou could only soothingly tousle his hair. "Your home is over there."
Qiao Luo went from disgruntled to aggrieved. "But you're here."
Papa Qiao and Mama Qiao were already waiting for him. Fu Shizhou had to let out a helpless laugh as he studied this silly little brat who couldn't get a clue. He wrapped his arms around Qiao Luo and gave him a lasting hug as he whispered in his ear, "If I take you home on the day I confess to you, Uncle Qiao and Auntie Qiao might whoop me."
Qiao Luo finally understood. His gaze quickly darted over to his own mom and dad. Still, he reluctantly said, "But I miss you."
Fu Shizhou felt that if he held Qiao Luo any longer, he might really abduct him and take him back to his own house. And so, he stroked the back of Qiao Luo's head and released him. "Didn't we agree I would take you out to play in a few days? Be good."
Qiao Luo thought of those two plane tickets. It was only then that he reluctantly trudged back to his own home.
He had previously changed Fu Shizhou's WeChat nickname from 'Zhouzhou-gege' to 'My Boyfriend'. Now, he changed it again. To 'Debtor'.
After changing the nickname, he sent Fu Shizhou a text: Fu Shizhou owes Qiao Luo x10 hugs, Fu Shizhou owes Qiao Luo x10 kisses, Fu Shizhou owes Qiao Luo x100 dates.
Fu Shizhou copied out that text and wrote the contents as an IOU note. He took a picture and sent it to Qiao Luo.
Qiao Luo, satisfied, wobbled over to his bed on his skinny little legs and flopped down. He was planning on sending Fu Shizhou another message when he received another text from Fu Shizhou first:
Qiao'er owes me how many rounds of… 'doing it'?
Qiao Luo stared.
His face instantly burst into flames. Even his cell phone started to feel like a piece of hot coal in his hands.
The two of them hadn't 'done it' in a long while. Sometimes they would get a little hot and heavy while kissing, but things would only ever progress to some mutual touching.
However, images of the last time Fu Shizhou had taken him into his arms and bullied him were still fresh and crystal clear in Qiao Luo's mind. Qiao Luo anxiously fumbled out a bottle of mineral water and took two gulps. He pursed his lips a few times, then finally—still red-faced—picked his cell phone up again.
First he deleted the IOU from his phone's photo gallery, then he sent Fu Shizhou two texts:
I'm already asleep!
Because of this incident, Qiao Luo donned a 'reserved' attitude for three days.
It wasn't until Fu Shizhou came knocking at his door, with a suitcase in tow, that he remembered the departure time of the plane tickets Fu Shizhou had shown him. They were set to leave that very afternoon.
When traveling with Fu Shizhou, Qiao Luo basically only needed to bring a few changes of clothes and whatnot. Fu Shizhou would prepare just about everything else for the both of them.
And so, Qiao Luo instructed Fu Shizhou to squeeze a few extra sets of clothes into his suitcase. Then they were ready to go. This time, Qiao Luo didn't even have to carry a backpack. After saying their goodbyes to Qiao Luo's mom and dad, they set out together.
Qiao Luo slept through the whole flight. A patch of red bloomed on his cheek, where it was pillowed against Fu Shizhou's shoulder.
Fu Shizhou led him out of the airport with an arm around his shoulders. It wasn't until they climbed into a cab that he said, "Take a look around. Before I was seven, and during the winter breaks that I couldn't spend with you, I was here."
This was the city where Fu Shizhou had lived before he was seven. It was where his parents and grandfather had been laid to rest.
Qiao Luo was still a little bleary after sleeping through the flight. It took him a while to realize what Fu Shizhou meant. No wonder the destination had looked familiar when he first saw the tickets. Back when Fu Shizhou flew out here to take care of Zhou Wanggui's burial arrangements, Qiao Luo had bought the tickets with him.
He sweetly hugged one of Fu Shizhou's arms and asked, "You brought me to meet your grandfather?"
"Mm," Fu Shizhou answered.
Ever since their plane landed, he'd felt a little complicated. He hadn't come to this city in the summer for a long, long time. And his most recent memory of the place was rushing back to file his own grandfather's death certificate.
But now, Qiao Luo was so soft and warm against his side, docilely hugging his arm. Fu Shizhou couldn't help but feel calm and at peace.
"I brought you to pay our respects to my grandfather and my parents," he said. "I have to tell them that, in the future, they can't just protect me. They have to watch over you as well."
Qiao Luo nervously squeezed his arm, then suddenly seemed to think of something. He started fumbling through the small pack he'd brought, pulling out the jade pendant he'd received from Grandpa Fu. "Would your grandfather like to see this pendant?"
Fu Shizhou took the other half of that pendant out from under his own shirt. "He would. He left me one instruction in his will, and that was to make sure this came into my possession."
After a moment's thought, Qiao Luo asked, "Is this… me meeting your parents?"
"They'll like you very much," Fu Shizhou said.
He pinched Qiao Luo's cheek, which was still slightly reddened from his nap. "There's no one who doesn't like you."
Qiao Luo nodded and said, "I'll tell them that I'll always be with you from now on. I'll tell them that my mom and dad will treat you super well too. That way, they won't have to worry."
They soon finished the most important thing they'd come to this city to do, and Fu Shizhou didn't have an overabundance of affection for the place. So the two of them didn't stay for long. After paying their respects to Fu Shizhou's entombed relatives, they left the next day.
It wasn't until Qiao Luo got on the train that he belatedly realized their destination wasn't home; they weren't making their return trip just yet.
He stood on the platform between two train cars and gazed out. Soon, he realized Fu Shizhou had also followed him over. He turned and asked Fu Shizhou, "Where are we going?"
"Your summer vacation reward," Fu Shizhou explained cryptically.
Qiao Luo only dumbly nodded along.
He gave off the vibe of a kid who wouldn't struggle even while being abducted.
The trip wasn't all that long. The high-speed rail would reach their destination in just over half an hour or so. Qiao Luo got bored easily. He stuck to Fu Shizhou for a while, then took out his cell phone and started playing through the mini program Fu Shizhou had written for him again.
Besides the last few stages of the game, which were used to force him to study and required him to upload photos of his completed homework in order to claim the prize, the rest of the game was actually pretty fun.
He played thirty-some levels, then suddenly thought of a question. He tugged on Fu Shizhou's arm and asked, "You only wrote up to Checkpoint 51?"
"There's a 52," Fu Shizhou said. "It's the last one."
"52…" Qiao Luo mused. "Are you gonna give me another surprise?"
Fu Shizhou felt that the 52nd installment of this mini program was still extremely unreliable, but Qiao Luo had already guessed at its existence. There was no point in hiding it any longer. He took out his phone and sent it to Qiao Luo as he said, "Why don't you try it?"
This time, there was no challenge whatsoever in the game that needed to be cleared. Any random scrabbling at the phone would have done the trick.
Then, a message appeared on screen: Qiao'er, you once said you would say yes if I proposed. Is that still true?
Qiao Luo blinked at that message a few times, then scooted closer to Fu Shizhou and pursed his lips. "Why won't you ask me yourself?"
And so, Fu Shizhou fulfilled his wish. He asked, "Qiao'er, you once said you would say yes if I proposed. Is that still true?"
Qiao Luo's face took on a faint red tint. His gaze skittered all over the place, but he couldn't hide his joy and anticipation. In the end, he mimicked Fu Shizhou's earlier words and whispered, "Why don't you try it?"
Fu Shizhou took out a pair of rings.
"Qiao'er, would you like to grow old with me?"
Qiao Luo reached out, waiting for Fu Shizhou to slip the ring onto his finger.
"Yes, yes, yes."
Complete~! If you've read to this point, how about some starfishes for 14? ψ(｀?′)ψ Extras will be coming, we'll see a bit of college life~!