Chapter 27: Happy Birthday
“Tsk, what strengths could I possibly have? Is having little pocket money considered one?” An Lan rubbed the back of his head.
“You’re very focused. Once you set your goal, you always get better each time.”
An Lan realized he was talking about shooting. An Lan was a bit slow to warm up as a shooter, but once in the zone, he outperformed himself with each shot.
“You’re loyal to your friends and won’t waver because of a stronger threat.”
He was referring to the incident with Li Zhennan treating him as a rival.
“You respect others’ efforts and achievements,” Gu Liyu’s expression remained serious.
“Thank you,” An Lan said, feeling a bit embarrassed.
“When you lose your own opportunities by helping others, you never complain.”
An Lan was momentarily stunned, thinking whether Gu Liyu was referring to the shooting competition last season when he injured his arm climbing a window and had to withdraw from the competition.
“Most importantly, you make me believe that I am much better than I imagined.”
An Lan was stunned there; does that mean Gu Liyu actually paid attention to the pile of words he just said?
“Then… shall we sleep together tonight? It’s already 12:30; are you still going home? Be careful you’ll oversleep tomorrow,” An Lan asked.
“Yeah,” Gu Liyu nodded gently.
An Lan immediately went to the bedroom to find pajamas.
“I have a few new pairs of underwear; my mom has washed them, so you can wear them without worry,” An Lan thought for a moment and added, “They might be a bit tight.”
“It’s okay.” Gu Liyu took the pajamas, and An Lan led him to the bathroom before going to wash the dishes.
Humming a tune while washing the dishes, An Lan felt very pleased.
However, after finishing washing the dishes, there was no sound of running water.
An Lan wiped his hands and knocked on the bathroom door.
“Gu Liyu, haven’t you started washing yet?”
The bathroom door opened, and Gu Liyu, shirtless and wearing only school pants, greeted him, holding the door open.
“I tried, and there’s no water.”
An Lan accidentally glanced at the other’s abdominal muscles and couldn’t help but think, High-quality alpha is really amazing, well-defined abs, and such a tight waist. No wonder he’s so strong.
“Oh! I forgot to tell you; there’s a valve in that position that needs to be opened.”
An Lan raised his arm and pressed a valve under the showerhead downward, causing water to spray out suddenly.
Gu Liyu grabbed An Lan’s shoulder and led him away.
An Lan patted the other’s back with a smile. “It’s okay. It’s just water, not a ferocious beast. Go ahead and wash up!”
Gu Liyu let go of An Lan, and An Lan walked out, continuing to wash the dishes. After drying them, he placed them in the disinfection cabinet, then went into his own bedroom.
Tsk… his bedroom was quite messy.
Clothes were scattered everywhere, and the table was covered with miscellaneous practice papers and drafts, resembling a small garbage dump.
An Lan quickly hung up the clothes that needed hanging, arranged the papers, and then grabbed a new pillow from above the cabinet, placing it side by side with his own pillow.
Just as he finished tidying up, Gu Liyu knocked on the door.
“Did you finish washing?”
Since Gu Liyu’s shoulders were a bit wider than his, An Lan gave him one of his oversized T-shirts that he often wore, and the sleeping shorts were slightly shorter, giving them a stylish nine-point look.
“The hairdryer is here. Once you dry your hair, you can go straight to sleep. I’m going to wash up?” An Lan said.
“Sure, go ahead.”
Gu Liyu sat in front of An Lan’s desk and used the hairdryer to blow-dry his hair.
An Lan was afraid of disturbing Gu Liyu’s sleep if he took too long to wash, so he quickly washed up and returned to the bedroom.
Upon opening the door, he saw Gu Liyu standing in front of his bookshelf, looking at the pictures on it.
The orange light fell on Gu Liyu’s profile, making An Lan inexplicably think of those dreams in old, yellowed poems—unreal, yet difficult to let go.
“Are you looking at my childhood photos? This one was taken when I was six,” An Lan said.
“You were beautiful when you were a child,” Gu Liyu’s voice was calm and clear, creating a precious feeling in the quiet room where only the two of them were present.
This was the first time An Lan heard Gu Liyu say something with a tone of admiration.
“This one is from when I was twelve. Our whole family went out, and I fought with my sister for the chicken leg in the group meal.”
“And this one?”
“This was taken during the summer vacation of the third year of junior high. I hadn’t grown taller yet. I look like a white-cut chicken. My coach said a gust of wind could blow me and my gun away together. Later, I started some muscle-strengthening training; otherwise, the stability with the gun isn’t good,” An Lan said.
“You’re still beautiful at that time.”
An Lan cleared his throat. He knew that Gu Liyu probably hadn’t engaged in much social interaction with people. When it came to praising someone’s looks, he could only come up with the word “beautiful.” He needed to see how those talented omegas in the group described him—using rich and colorful expressions.
“Show me your childhood photos next time?” An Lan asked.
“I,,, didn’t take many photos when I was a child,” Gu Liyu replied.
An Lan remembered that Gu Yunli had been in the isolation room at the hospital when he was born, and Gu Liyu’s whole growth process had been spent with his mother alone. Perhaps there wasn’t much mood to take pictures.
“It’s okay. There will be plenty of opportunities in the future. Taking pictures with friends you get along with will make you smile more happily,” An Lan patted his shoulder. “Let’s go, it’s time to sleep. Set an alarm; we still need to get up early for morning reading… life as a high school senior is truly pitiful.”
Originally, An Lan wanted Gu Liyu to sleep inside, but Gu Liyu insisted that An Lan should sleep inside.
“You sleep inside; I don’t want you to fall.”
“But what if you fall?”
An Lan thought about it; that was true. Gu Liyu seemed like the type who slept very properly.
“Well then, good night. Although it’s a bit late, happy birthday, Classmate Gu Liyu. I’ll think about it and get you a birthday present later.” An Lan felt a bit drowsy.
Especially when he smelled the fragrance coming from Gu Liyu, for some reason, even though Gu Liyu’s body had the same shampoo and shower gel scent as his, An Lan could detect another, fresher fragrance.
It’s like the cold fragrance when glaciers and seawater merge, yet it doesn’t make An Lan feel cold at all.
“As for the birthday gift, I want to smell your pheromones,” Gu Liyu said.
An Lan’s mind was a bit fuzzy for a moment, then suddenly he became clear-headed.
He opened his eyes and looked at the other person. “My pheromones? How do you smell them? Where are they?”
An Lan pulled up the collar of his sleepwear and sniffed. It still smelled like shower gel.
Gu Liyu turned his body, closed his eyes, and approached An Lan, his warm breath falling on An Lan’s neck, causing a palpitation.
All of An Lan’s sensations became sharp. The sound of Gu Liyu’s hair brushing against the pillow, the warmth of him approaching, his hand gently holding An Lan’s back, and his sniffing between An Lan’s pajama collar.
“Your scent smells good.”
“But… shouldn’t alphas like omega pheromones? Won’t another alpha’s pheromones trigger hostility?”
“Because your pheromones are unlike those of an omega, with a purpose to attract a mate. Also, unlike other alphas, it lacks aggression, very calm and tranquil.”
“But I can’t smell my own pheromones.” An Lan laid on his side, not daring to move.
Afraid that if he moved, Gu Liyu’s nose would touch him.
“It smells good…” Gu Liyu’s voice became softer.
After a few minutes, An Lan felt that the person beside him not only didn’t move, but the weight of the arm resting on him also pressed down completely.
In other words, Gu Liyu had fallen asleep.
An Lan chuckled; how could this guy fall asleep faster than himself?
However, after experiencing such a significant event today, being able to sleep peacefully was indeed fortunate.
With a broadened mindset, An Lan closed his eyes and fell asleep.
“First lesson, stretching exercise——separate your back from the bed!”
An Lan’s alarm clock rang, yesterday he had slept a bit late. He couldn’t open his eyes, and his hands fumbled around, trying to reach for his phone on the bedside table.
“Second Lesson, chest expansion exercise—hold the blanket with both hands and start shaking!”
An Lan’s hand touched something soft. “What is this…”
He grumbled as he continued to touch until his fingers were bitten. He abruptly opened his eyes.
Gu Liyu was lying beside him, watching him, and unfortunately, An Lan’s hand ended up in Gu Liyu’s mouth, and Gu Liyu immediately bit down.
His face was half-buried in the pillow, probably due to just waking up, making his gaze less chilly and instead carrying a hint of laziness. His hair was a bit messy, scattered across his face, and An Lan’s fingers quickly retreated as if shocked.
“Get up! The alarm is ringing! It’s time for class!”
An Lan wanted to reach for his phone over Gu Liyu to silence the “jumping exercise” alarm, but he was a bit short. He pushed the phone, nearly causing it to fall.
On the contrary, Gu Liyu leaned over, effortlessly catching the phone. An Lan couldn’t help but envy his reflexes.
As An Lan sat up, he tried not to touch Gu Liyu, a task that seemed quite challenging.
Lifting the blanket, he cautiously crossed over Gu Liyu. Gu Liyu remained calm, lying in place, either not fully awake or genuinely unconcerned about being late, watching An Lan with such composure.
Awkwardly chuckling, An Lan’s leg, which had crossed over, couldn’t touch the ground properly, considering Gu Liyu was in the way. An Lan’s legs were quite long, but the challenge was not touching the other party.
Gu Liyu’s stillness made An Lan even more nervous. When An Lan’s toe finally touched the ground, he leaned backward, unintentionally sitting on Gu Liyu.
“Sorry!” An Lan was in a sorry state, trying to get up, but Gu Liyu sat up.
His sudden movement made An Lan lean backward.
Although there were middle-aged women dancing in the square outside, and the sounds of morning traffic were evident, An Lan felt the room was too quiet.
Gu Liyu’s hand reached out, grabbing An Lan’s waist. In that moment, the arm brought strength to the waist, abdomen, and shoulder, lifting An Lan effortlessly and placing him by the bed. “Are you afraid of me?”
“No… not at all? We slept together last night; what would I be afraid of?”
Last night they faced everything together, but this morning, An Lan suddenly remembered the rumored aloof and distant, possibly grumpy school grass who might not like social interactions.
“If you want to get off the bed, you can tell me, and I’ll make space for you.”
An Lan suddenly understood why Gu Liyu had been looking at him like that.
He was waiting for An Lan to say, like one would to a regular friend, “Hey, I’m getting off the bed, make some room.”
“Got it. Next time, I’ll ask you to make space for me.” An Lan fumbled on the ground for his slippers.
Turning his head, Gu Liyu asked, “So when will you sleep with me next time?”
An Lan choked a bit; he didn’t know if Gu Liyu was serious or joking.
“Next time when you’re alone at home, or when I’m alone at home, it’s fine.”
Whether Gu Liyu was serious or joking, An Lan had to answer the school grass seriously.
“I’m alone at home every day,” Gu Liyu replied.
“So… do you want to sleep with me every day?”
As soon as An Lan said this, he almost choked on his own saliva.
“If you’ve watched a horror movie again, you can come find me.”
“Oh, so that’s what you mean.” An Lan smiled, thinking his mind was really twisted.
“Hey, by the way, what does your family usually have for breakfast?” An Lan asked curiously.
“For Western-style, there’s bacon and baked eggs, flaky soup, nut tarts, bread, etc. For Chinese-style, there are shrimp dumplings, matsutake mushroom noodle soup, shark fin congee, and so on.”
As Gu Liyu spoke, he put on his socks.
An Lan’s mouth watered as he listened. “I feel like watching a horror movie right now.”
“Hmm?” Gu Liyu turned his head to look at him.
“Then tonight, I’ll come sleep with you, and tomorrow I can have breakfast at your place.”
“Silly.” Gu Liyu stood up and pressed down on An Lan’s head.
Whether it was an illusion or not, An Lan seemed to see Gu Liyu smile.
After brushing their teeth, putting on their school uniforms, and slinging their backpacks, An Lan patted Gu Liyu on the back. “Your family’s breakfast won’t be possible for me today, but you can try my usual breakfast—soy milk and fried dough sticks, big steamed buns, sesame ball soup, jianbing guozi, leek dumplings, mixed noodles and vermicelli, and various meat patties in soup.”
“Okay.” Gu Liyu casually ran his fingers across his forehead, pushing aside the few strands of hair that had hung in front of his eyes, replacing the homey feeling with his usual cool and distant demeanor.
An Lan felt a bit regretful.
Both of them slung their backpacks and left the room.
An Lan spotted a bike, and Gu Liyu found another.
Side by side, they rode towards the end of the street where breakfast stalls awaited.
“Hey, Gu Liyu, I have a question for you.” An Lan asked curiously.
“I remember you used to go to and from school in your own family’s car, right? Why did you suddenly start riding a bike?”
“Because the scenery is good.” Gu Liyu answered.
So straightforward, truly in Gu Liyu’s style.
An Lan chuckled, “Then, do you know someone told me…”
Oh, that was too presumptuous. An Lan quickly stopped himself.
“Told you what?”
Told me that you specially started riding a bike to and from school because of me—such a narcissistic thing, An Lan couldn’t say it out loud.
“Nothing, we’ve reached the breakfast place.” An Lan forced a big smile, parked his bike on the side of the road.
Several breakfast stalls were lined up in this place, and three or four folding tables were almost full of customers having breakfast.
They didn’t know each other initially, but because they often had breakfast here, they all became somewhat familiar with each other.
“We’re done here, An Lan. Come sit over here!” A lady, taking her child to school, waved to An Lan.
“Thank you, Auntie!” An Lan pulled Gu Liyu and dragged a small stool for him, wiping it clean. When he looked up, he realized Gu Liyu was still standing there.
An Lan thought that Gu Liyu had always had breakfast at home, and even the takeout he ordered at school was quite exquisite. Perhaps he wasn’t accustomed to breakfast stalls.
An Lan didn’t feel that Gu Liyu was not “approachable.” People grow up in different environments, resulting in different habits and values, and mutual respect should prevail.
“If you don’t like this, should I take you to have steamed dumplings instead?” An Lan asked.
Gu Liyu shook his head, “You sit inside; I’ll sit outside.”
The outside was next to the road.
“It doesn’t matter; it’s all the same. The cars on this street drive slowly; don’t worry.”
After Gu Liyu sat down, An Lan took out tissues, intending to wipe the table in front of him. Unexpectedly, Gu Liyu held onto An Lan’s fingers.
“Ah, what’s wrong?”
“I’ll do it.”
Gu Liyu’s other hand reached into An Lan’s palm, took away the tissues, and his fingertip seemed to trace along the central line in An Lan’s palm. He then grabbed the napkin, lifted the cuff of his school uniform, gathered the disposable bowls and plates left by previous customers, organized the space, and first wiped the table in front of An Lan before wiping his own place.
An Lan watched as Gu Liyu lowered his head, as if doing something important.
Originally, An Lan thought that coming from a well-known alpha family, growing up in luxury, Gu Liyu might have some airs. However, he did these things without any pretense, as if it were only natural.
“What do you want to eat? This place…”
“Stir-fried noodles and meat patty soup,” Gu Liyu said.
“Huh? How did you know I was going to recommend stir-fried noodles and meat patty soup to you?” An Lan asked curiously.
“You discuss what you eat before class every morning with your desk mate. The most frequently mentioned is stir-fried noodles and meat patty soup.”