Chapter 24: Gu Liyu vs. Xu Xingran
“Nothing, I just think Gu Liyu isn’t picky at all. He eats egg roll, street-fried noodles, and pig liver soup. Actually, you can tell a lot about easy one can get along with a person by how they eat.”
An Lan’s meaning was simple—everyone just didn’t understand Gu Liyu. Just because he doesn’t initiate conversations doesn’t mean he’s really unfriendly.
Qiao Chuluo lightly kicked An Lan under the table, reminding him not to assume that Gu Liyu doesn’t mind anything just because he ate the street food An Lan treated him to.
Xu Xingran looked at Gu Liyu and clicked his tongue.
“It doesn’t seem like it? I remember Gu Liyu is quite picky about food.”
Gu Liyu didn’t even lift his eyes, picked up the pig liver soup, took a sip, and continued eating the fried noodles.
“Oh? How is he picky?”
“He won’t eat salmon unless it’s air-flown from Northern Europe. He won’t eat asparagus if it’s not tender enough. If the beef is not cooked to the right doneness, he won’t eat it. We had a gathering at Observing Mountains and Seas, and Gu Liyu only came once. Because of the three ingredients mentioned earlier, after that, he never participated again.”
“Oh…” An Lan scratched his chin, “Does this mean I’ve murdered Gu Liyu’s taste buds?”
However, Gu Liyu had already finished the entire plate of fried noodles and was leisurely sipping the pig liver soup.
Xu Xingran raised his hand to check the time, “Well, it’s almost 10:30. You guys probably have some homework left. We’ll escort you home.”
An Lan chuckled, “It’s necessary to escort Little Qiao home? As for me… not needed, right?”
After all, Qiao Chuluo was an omega in his “flowering age,” but An Lan was a quasi-alpha.
“Trust me, it’s necessary,” Xu Xingran replied.
“Taking you home,” Gu Liyu stated without any room for negotiation.
Qiao Chuluo suspected that tonight might be the highlight of his life. Not only did he have the quasi-alpha childhood friend An Lan with him, but also on the left was Xu Xingran, and on the right was Gu Liyu. The sense of superiority of a princess outing emerged.
He arrived at the entrance of the residential area, An Lan watched him enter his own building before riding away.
“Class monitor, you wouldn’t invite us to dinner without a reason, right? Actually, do you have something to discuss with me?” An Lan said while riding his bike, and his smiling face became more serious. “Is it about my match with Xiao Chen?”
Because today, when Xiao Chen challenged An Lan to a competition, Xu Xingran seemed very concerned. He hesitated to speak at the time since there were too many people in the class.
“Yeah,” Xu Xingran stopped.
An Lan also stopped and turned to look at Xu Xingran.
“Xiao Chen has a shoulder injury. The doctor suggests that he shouldn’t compete or engage in physical activity in the near future. He needs to focus on recovery. Also, due to the accident in the last quarter’s competition, Xiao Chen’s condition is not very stable. But the coach invited you to have a practice match at our club, and it made Xiao Chen feel that you might take away his spot in the team competition. That’s why he suddenly showed hostility towards you.”
An Lan lowered his eyes, saying, “He doesn’t have hostility towards me.”
“Huh?” Xu Xingran was momentarily stunned, doubting if he misheard.
“Xiao Chen just wants to confirm if I really have the ability to compete with him. If he really had hostility towards me, he could just intimidate me without proposing a match. He only did it to assess my abilities in case the coach chooses me to replace him in the team competition. If he truly had hostility, he wouldn’t need a match invitation,” An Lan explained.
Xu Xingran chuckled helplessly, “Do you always tend to think the best of others?”
An Lan shook his head, “Not really, for example, I’ve never thought well of Li Zhennan.”
The smile on Xu Xingran’s face became more apparent.
They rode all the way to the entrance of An Lan’s home. An Lan parked his bicycle and was about to go upstairs when Gu Liyu suddenly called him.
“Yeah?” An Lan turned back to look at Gu Liyu.
With one foot on the ground and both hands hanging by his side, Gu Liyu, illuminated by the cold streetlight, appeared slightly warm.
“Don’t be lured by pheromones.”
“What?” An Lan was momentarily confused.
Gu Liyu didn’t offer further explanation, changed the direction of his bicycle, and went away directly.
An Lan looked back at Xu Xingran, puzzled, “What did… Gu Liyu say just now?”
Xu Xingran smiled, “He told you not to be lured by pheromones.”
“…Who’s luring me?” An Lan widened his eyes slowly, stammering, “Oh my God, does Gu Liyu think it’s Little Qiao? I grew up wearing the same open pants with Little Qiao; he’s not interested in me in that way!”
“You’ve just recovered from the influence of Eve’s Apple, right? So, during this period, be careful to avoid contact with pheromones, especially those with a courtship meaning,” Xu Xingran said.
“Oh, I see. Gu Liyu’s words are always too concise, making it easy to misunderstand.” An Lan shook his head with a smile.
Xu Xingran lowered his eyes and said very softly, “An Lan, I’m sorry.”
“I didn’t mean to; I just couldn’t resist.”
“Are you talking about… your red armband? Didn’t we say we’re all in this together? You couldn’t possibly have gone to the teacher to report us for eating street food. Moreover, our class monitor deceiving us like that was quite amusing,” An Lan laughed, shaking his head. He really didn’t take it to heart.
“It’s not about that,” Xu Xingran said.
“Then… what is it?”
“It’s nothing; it’s all in the past. I’ll be more careful in the future. You can go upstairs now.” Xu Xingran lifted his chin slightly.
An Lan was completely puzzled and went upstairs with his backpack.
Back home, his mother scolded him for not coming home directly after evening self-study. An Lan apologized while returning to his room, quickly turning on the desk lamp, spreading out the comprehensive exam papers. Seeing that An Lan still had homework to do, his mother stopped nagging.
The room felt a bit stuffy. An Lan reached out and pushed the window open, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath of fresh air.
He caught a very faint woody fragrance, warm and rich, seemingly trying to conquer his brain quietly. In this intensity, there was also an undercurrent of glacier tide, sweeping away everything, streets, houses, and even passersby.
An Lan squinted; he saw two figures at the end of the road, about a kilometer away. They were somewhat blurry due to the distance, but An Lan felt they looked familiar.
It seemed to be Gu Liyu and Xu Xingran.
The two figures cast shadows on the ground under the streetlight, with sharp edges. An Lan could see a vague aura spreading, engulfing the street, buildings, and even pedestrians.
They were heavy and full of aggression, tense like two nebulae ready to collide at any moment. They seemed poised to release immense energy, destroying everything in their path as if it were nothing.
But this dangerous force abruptly stopped in front of An Lan, as if An Lan had automatically been pushed out of this confrontation.
“Are you sure you want to crush me with pheromones here?” Xu Xingran, hands in his pockets, showed no smile, watching the stern-faced boy in front of him.
“You use his trust in you, using your pheromones to attract him.” Gu Liyu’s voice was cold, and the surrounding air temperature gradually dropped.
Even the plants in the roadside green belt, unable to withstand the pressure, bent over.
Night cats darted between eaves, and mice hiding in the darkness seemed to sense an imminent danger and fled the area.
Xu Xingran looked at Gu Liyu and smiled, “You are jealous of me. I can lose control at any time and then recover at the most dangerous moment. But you can’t—once you lose control, there’s no turning back.”
“Xu Xingran, is the attraction of another person to you just about ‘losing control’? If this is losing control, then I am never afraid and won’t resist, as long as the one controlling me is him.” Gu Liyu looked toward An Lan’s window. “You are lucky; you are too close to him here. Otherwise, I would deal with you.”
After saying that, Gu Liyu propped his bike against the roadside and disappeared into the night.
Xu Xingran closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and only after a long time did he forcefully press his eyes.
The air was very faint, almost imperceptible, with the fragrance of fresh bamboo. Despite being serene, it seemed to seep into every cell of the body. If left unchecked, a pure sense of pleasure would surge deep into the brain, unrelated to all desires, just pure relaxation and joy.
At the window, An Lan, peering out, closed his eyes and sniffed forcefully. He couldn’t feel those two particular scents anymore.
At this moment, his phone vibrated. An Lan picked it up and found it was a friend request, and the WeChat name was directly Gu Liyu.
An Lan was so shocked that he almost dropped his phone.
Gu Liyu actually added him on WeChat?
No, no, the key was whether Gu Liyu even had WeChat friends?
An Lan quickly accepted the request and immediately checked Gu Liyu’s Moments—indeed, it was empty.
Gu Liyu: [Be careful not to fall out of the window.]
An Lan was surprised. Were the people standing at the end of the street just now really Gu Liyu and Xu Xingran?
[I won’t fall, haha.]
An Lan had no experience chatting with a cool and aloof school grass, not even daring to send an emoji, afraid that the school grass would find him too informal.
Why send a “haha”? So silly.
Gu Liyu: [I’ve completed the major questions in Integrated Science for you. If you understand, go to bed early.]
An Lan’s heart skipped a beat. He quickly pulled out his Integrated Science mock exam paper from his backpack, flipped to the recent assignment, and indeed, the last major answer was fully written. Although he didn’t read it in detail, An Lan knew it would be more understandable than what the teacher explained.
An Lan: [Thank you!]
Gu Liyu: [No need.]
The chat ended, but An Lan couldn’t help but repeatedly review the conversation with Gu Liyu.
Gu Liyu’s WeChat profile picture was a bamboo forest. An Lan found it amusing; this style was like his mother having a purple lotus, his father having a jade Buddha, full of the typical style of senior cadres.
An Lan sat back in his chair, carefully examining Gu Liyu’s Integrated Science major answer. He suddenly remembered the Chinese teacher’s evaluation of Gu Liyu’s composition, saying it was too rational, completely lacking empathy. But looking at Gu Liyu’s answer, An Lan could feel a kind of delicacy between the neat handwriting. Gu Liyu knew exactly where An Lan might not understand. If he couldn’t solve a major problem, the most likely obstacle would be pinpointed.
All the guidance was just right. An Lan only needed to follow Gu Liyu’s line of thought, and he could easily arrive at the answers. He even found physics and chemistry quite interesting, not as overwhelming as before.
Looking up again, it was already half-past eleven; he needed to go to bed quickly.
An Lan took a shower, and as soon as he laid on the pillow, he fell asleep.
Although Xu Xingran did indeed live up to the “go down the same road” principle, it did not mean that the class monitor was the only one who played the role of monitor during the inspection.
The next morning, when the homeroom teacher, Bald Qiang, walked into the classroom with a stern face, he coldly pressed the lesson plan on the podium.
“The school has repeatedly emphasized not to eat street food on Nandeng Street. In June and October of last year, there were news reports of food poisoning at Nandeng Street night market. Have you not taken it to heart?”
An Lan and Qiao Chuluo exchanged a glance, sharing a look of “we’re finished,” and started messaging each other under the desk.
Qiao Chuluo: [Is it the class monitor?]
An Lan: [Impossible. The class monitor said he’s with us, he won’t betray us.]
Bald Qiang slammed the desk suddenly, “This time, even some class leaders and model students participated! Are the stalls outside so attractive? What time is it now? One case of food poisoning, and how many days of study will be delayed?”
An Lan looked at Xu Xingran in front, and Xu Xingran calmly leaned back in his chair, watching the blackboard as usual. The class leader mentioned by Bald Qiang obviously referred to him, and Bald Qiang even gave him a warning look.
There was also Gu Liyu on the side, casually supporting his chin with one hand, flipping through the Integrated Science mock exam paper with the other, truly enjoying the “peaceful times.”
“An Lan! Qiao Chuluo! Both of you, submit your self-criticism before the end of class this afternoon!” Bald Qiang’s gaze swept coldly over them. “And also, analyze the corrupting influence you have on other students!”
An Lan and Qiao Chuluo immediately lowered their heads, like two quails on the verge of suffocation.
Little Qiao: [Why doesn’t the class monitor and Gu Liyu have to write self-criticism?]
An Lan: [Because they were corrupted by us.]
Little Qiao: [Who reported us in the end?]
An Lan: [Don’t know. Go check with the organization.]
The organization An Lan mentioned naturally referred to Qiao Chuluo’s omega group.
As soon as Xiao Qiao asked, everyone, upon hearing that their beloved class monitor and dream lover, Xu Xingran, almost faced criticism just for trying the street-fried noodles on Nandeng Street, expressed their indignation. In no time, they received the answer.