Chapter 19: I Won’t Mark You
“So, Li Zhennan, you go first. The competition is 10 shots, 2.5 seconds at moving targets, right?”
Li Zhennan positioned himself.
The target was the size of a soybean and would appear and move about 2 meters before disappearing after 2.5 seconds.
Using an unsupported standing posture, An Lan, who was initially nervous because he didn’t know Li Zhennan’s skill level, calmed down when he raised the gun.
Li Zhennan fired the first shot, and Coach Lin Huaien called out, “8.8 points!”
Qiao Chuluo hesitated; hitting moving targets in such a short time was already quite challenging for an amateur, let alone scoring 8.8 points.
Qiao Chuluo looked at Gu Liyu, who was calm beside him, and whispered, “This is not just an amateur level.”
He often went to the club where An Lan was located. As far as he knew, there were not many who could hit the eight rings or above in the 10-meter moving target rapid shooting.
However, Gu Liyu just sat in the chair, holding a phone in one hand, wearing earphones, and supporting his forehead with the other hand, watching An Lan preparing to shoot.
It wasn’t an indifferent gaze; on the contrary, it was very focused.
An Lan waited for the target, while Gu Liyu watched An Lan.
When the target started moving, An Lan held the gun and followed, his body rotating evenly. When his rotational speed matched the moving target speed, the bullet was fired.
Qiao Chuluo held his breath. The target, the size of a soybean from a distance, was hit similarly to Li Zhennan’s 8.8 points.
“9.2 points,” Lin Huaien reported.
Li Zhennan clicked his tongue, firing the second shot.
The entire shooting range fell silent; it seemed as if the world had shrunk to the size of the target’s center.
An Lan raised the gun again, following the moving target. Another shot was fired, and from his back, he seemed calm, revealing no emotions.
The speed of his turn gave people a strange feeling—it wasn’t him following the target; it was as if the target was moving for him.
Gu Liyu’s eyes narrowed. The fingers that were originally supporting his forehead trembled slightly, as if responding to the movement of the shooting range.
“9.3 points,” Lin Huaien reported the score.
Li Zhennan hesitated for a moment. He didn’t expect An Lan to hit above nine for two consecutive shots.
Next, Li Zhennan’s third target appeared, and he had to focus, following the rotation of the target.
Hearing the result, Li Zhennan clenched his teeth.
There’s a saying, ‘Three strikes and you’re out.’ If An Lan scores above 9 points on the third shot, it will put immense pressure on Li Zhennan, Qiao Chuluo thought.
Mental attitude is more crucial than talent in shooting sports.
Li Zhennan told himself to focus on his breathing for the next target, but he couldn’t help but glance at An Lan beside him.
“Bang.” An Lan’s third shot was faster than before, almost impatient.
Li Zhennan chuckled inwardly, thinking that even if this shot didn’t miss the target, the result wouldn’t be too good.
“What?” Li Zhennan turned his head, suspecting that he misheard because of the earplugs.
But his next round was coming.
10.1 points? How did this guy manage to shoot 10.1 points? Each shot is better than the last? How is that possible?
He’s just a beta! His reaction time and arm strength can’t be stronger than his, an alpha.
It must be because of the gun he borrowed from Gu Liyu. That gun is manufactured in Country D, a rare and excellent piece on the international stage.
Li Zhennan fired his fourth shot, scoring only 7.3 points.
Qiao Chuluo was tempted to applaud, but considering that being too pleased might trigger Li Zhennan’s violent tendencies again, he decided to behave.
An Lan was also preparing for his fourth shot, following the target steadily and smoothly firing the gun.
“10 points,” Lin Huaien said, revealing a slight smile.
To Lin Huaien, An Lan was an interesting player. Lin Huaien was skilled at probing a person’s inner thoughts through their eyes. An Lan’s eyes showed no desire to win or lose, but he was focused. Once he entered a state, he improved steadily, unstoppable, and no opponent could prevent him from hitting the bullseye.
Born for the competition.
Li Zhennan was having a hard time standing still. His shoulders shook noticeably, showing signs of distraction. He only fired when the target was about to run out, scoring a 5.2.
Li Zhennan almost dropped his gun.
On the other hand, An Lan remained steady. With another shot, he hit the target when it was only two-thirds of the way through. “9.8.”
With this shot, the gap widened. In simple terms, unless An Lan underperformed, Li Zhennan had no chance of winning unless he hit a score above ten.
Qiao Chuluo pursed his lips, feeling joy fluttering in his heart. Based on his understanding of An Lan, unless the ceiling fell, nothing could stop him from performing normally.
In the sixth shot, An Lan continued to widen the gap. It wasn’t until the seventh shot that Li Zhennan barely adjusted his state, somewhat preserving his alpha pride.
In the final tenth shot, Li Zhennan scored 9.5, while An Lan achieved his best score of the competition—10.4.
Lin Huaien clapped as he approached the two. Being emotionally intelligent, he sensed that these two suddenly coming here to compete likely had some underlying conflict. Li Zhennan was not easy to deal with, and Lin Huaien didn’t want any lingering unpleasantness between him and An Lan. So, he stepped in to mediate.
“Li Zhennan, I must say, I’m impressed by your performance in this competition.”
“Even after losing, Coach Lin, you still find me impressive. Are you praising the wrong person?” Li Zhennan was angry. It was evident that An Lan had a professional skill level, and Gu Liyu knew about his high proficiency. That’s why he suggested the speed shooting competition intentionally.
Now that he lost, not only did he lose in front of Lin Huaien, but he also realized that if Lin Huaien found out about his intention to “accidentally” reveal it to his father, he would surely face severe consequences.
“You started learning speed shooting as a hobby, but An Lan, like Gu Liyu, is a club-level player. To compete against such opponents and still perform steadily shows great mental strength. Like father, like son,” Lin Huaien’s admiration was sincere.
This greatly appeased Li Zhennan’s wounded pride.
Yes, An Lan was heading towards professional competitions, while he learned speed shooting just to cultivate his temperament. Achieving this level was already impressive.
After some self-consolation, Li Zhennan’s expression wasn’t as gloomy.
An Lan also understood Coach Lin’s goodwill and chose to remain silent. He just held the gun quietly, waiting until his stomach made a loud “growl” in the silent shooting range.
“Oh, it’s already this late. Come, let’s have a meal together?” Coach Lin suggested.
Li Zhennan snorted lightly, “No, I’m going back.”
As he passed by Qiao Chuluo, Li Zhennan lowered his voice, “I can’t wait to see the regret on your face in the future.”
Qiao Chuluo smiled helplessly, “Rest assured, I will strive to live a better life than you.”
Li Zhennan left, and Coach Lin was still looking at An Lan, waiting for his response, whether he wanted to join them for a meal.
An Lan smiled, “Um, my family has prepared dinner for me. I had some matters recently, and my parents insisted I come home for dinner.”
“Oh, that’s a pity. Come, come, let’s…” Coach Lin took out his phone, “exchange numbers. Even if we can’t be master and disciple, we can still be friends!”
Lin Huaien amused An Lan, looking like someone persistently asking for contact information after being rejected by a girl.
Gu Liyu returned the guns with An Lan, then headed to the locker room to change.
Standing aside, An Lan watched as Gu Liyu took out his school uniform from the wardrobe. His fingers gripped the zipper, sliding it down gently. For some reason, An Lan felt as if that school uniform was being slowly taken off his own body by Gu Liyu.
The sound of the zipper passing through his eardrums sent ripples through his heart.
When Gu Liyu took the uniform off the hanger and handed it to him, An Lan subconsciously took a step back.
Gu Liyu asked, “Why are you afraid of me?”
“I won’t mark you.”
Gu Liyu’s deep and clear voice exploded in An Lan’s ears. An Lan forced a smile and quickly took his own uniform.
An Lan changed out of his shooting suit, recalling that Qiao Chuluo mentioned Gu Liyu’s cleanliness. So, tentatively, he asked, “I’ve worn this suit. Should I wash it before returning it to you?”
“Forget it,” Gu Liyu replied.
“Oh.” An Lan still carefully folded the shooting suit and placed it on the sofa.
After thinking for a moment, An Lan couldn’t help asking again, “You’ve helped me several times. May I ask why?”
“When?” Gu Liyu turned his face, asking calmly.
The bright lights in the locker room illuminated Gu Liyu’s eyes, revealing something in them that An Lan couldn’t fully understand. Like an invisible cocoon, it silently enveloped the entire space, blending and intertwining with some unexplainable obsession and desire. The feeling of being controlled returned.
But every time An Lan began to feel afraid, that feeling would immediately dissipate.
“At the time we were writing vocabulary on the blackboard together, you helped me correct the letter I wrote wrong.”
Gu Liyu remained silent, still maintaining that posture.
“When I bumped into the teacher’s thermos, you blocked it to prevent hot water from splashing on me.”
Gu Liyu slowly turned around.
“And today, when I was hit by a basketball on the nose, you helped me clean up. When Li Zhennan was causing trouble, you suggested the speed shooting competition. Otherwise, I couldn’t withstand his provocations.”
“Do you not remember?” Gu Liyu extended his left hand.
An Lan lowered his head; it was the hand Gu Liyu used to support the gun. There was a white line in the palm, as if it was a scar left by some kind of cutting.
“You’ve hurt your palm?” An Lan was surprised. Someone as meticulous as Gu Liyu should be careful in protecting his hands, whether it’s the index finger pulling the trigger or the left hand supporting the gun.
“Yeah.” Gu Liyu nodded.
An Lan wanted to touch the scar, but it was Gu Liyu’s hand, so he didn’t dare.
“If you don’t remember, forget it.” Gu Liyu looked towards the door, indicating that An Lan could leave.
For some reason, Gu Liyu’s expression looked a bit lonely.
An Lan could only earnestly express his gratitude again, “Thank you for today… Can I treat you to a meal?”
“Didn’t your family ask you to come home for dinner?” Gu Liyu asked in return.
“Yes.” An Lan scratched his head, “Next week after evening self-study, can I treat you to dinner?”
“Sure.” Gu Liyu replied lightly.
He swung his backpack onto his shoulder and, with the other hand, carried the shooting suit that An Lan had just taken off as he walked away from him.
The air stirred as he moved, and in the changing room, which was originally scented with a certain sandalwood fragrance—pleasant but carrying a sense of solemnity and restraint—An Lan caught a hint of the deep, oceanic scent of azure. He instinctively closed his eyes, and every cell in the depths of his brain followed that trace of fragrance.
It continued until it completely disappeared without a trace.
Winning against Li Zhennan made An Lan and Qiao Chuluo feel much more relaxed.
An Lan rode his bicycle, carrying Qiao Chuluo home. The person on the back seat swung his legs happily, showing his joy.
“An Lan, it’s a pity you’re not an omega. Otherwise, I could imagine a thousand scenarios between you and Gu Liyu.”
An Lan smiled, “Who said a hug from Gu Liyu would freeze someone to death? Why are you imagining scenarios now?”
“Tsk, you wouldn’t understand, would you? You two could easily become a CP in people’s imaginations. Didn’t you see that Gu Liyu took the shooting suit you wore back with him?”
“Maybe he’s going to send it for cleaning. After all, alphas have a sensitive sense of smell…”
“That’s not it. Since he can’t fit into the shooting suit, whether it’s clean or not doesn’t matter to him. Besides, for someone like Gu Liyu, he wouldn’t care much about a shooting suit. I guess he’ll put your shooting suit in his bedroom.” Qiao Chuluo grinned mischievously.
“Why would he put it in the bedroom?” An Lan found it strange.
“Not just in the bedroom, but he might place it near his pillow…”
An Lan sighed. This Qiao Chuluo, just as he managed to avoid Li Zhennan, started to fantasize about other alphas.
“Please stop these inappropriate thoughts in your mind, thank you.”
“The image is too beautiful, I can’t stop. Just imagine, Gu Liyu sitting on the bed, putting the shooting suit you wore on his face, sniffing your scent intensely, then gripping his…”
“Stop!” An Lan stood on tiptoe, turned around, and looked at Qiao Chuluo in surprise. “Little Qiao, what are you fantasizing about? Isn’t Gu Liyu supposed to have a cold and aloof personality?”
Qiao Chuluo shrugged, “The cold and aloof personality is what everyone assumes. Do you really know whether he’s cold and aloof or not?”
“I don’t know.”
“Your face is turning red.”
“Nonsense, if I were to imagine you with the class monitor, wouldn’t you blush?” An Lan retorted.
Qiao Chuluo shamelessly laughed, “I would say thank you.”
“Ridiculous!” An Lan turned his head, pedaled the bicycle diligently, and took Qiao Chuluo home.
By the time An Lan returned home, it was almost eight in the evening.
The author has something to say:
Gu Liyu: I won’t mark youFat Melon*: A man’s mouth is a cheating ghost
* author is melon