Chapter 23: You Must Not Lose
Translator: Noodletown Translated Editor: Noodletown Translated
Hao Ren saw no one else around, and it seemed like she was here all by herself. After a moment of hesitation, he jogged over, “What…what are you doing here?”
“I’m here to watch you run.” Xie Yujia tilted her head and smiled.
Her raven black hair covering her shiny forehead and her long pony-tail trailing over her back gave her a fresh look.
The night breeze brushed over her and sent a wisp of fragrance to Hao Ren. Soft and white skin, flesh and clean hair, and her fluttering dress showed that she had just taken a shower.
Hao Ren had always thought Xue Yujia was pretty, and so did all his male classmates. Since she rarely showed her face during university activities, the most popular girl in the class had become her class’ or her major’s “private property”. She wasn’t promoted as someone who rivaled with Ling Li as the most popular girl at the university.
In fact, Hao Ren thought Xie Yujia was prettier than Lin Li, and he found Xie Yujia’s fresh and elegant temperament more appealing.
“How did you know I was practicing here?” Hao Ren continued with his questions.
He had not sweated much while running, but he was now suddenly sweating all over when facing Xie Yujia.
“I am the Class President, and I know everything.” Still smiling, Xie Yujia looked at Hao Ren confidently. “You have been practicing running here at nine every night. Am I right?”
Hao Ren knew information spread really fast among the girls, but he had never expected Xie Yujia would notice him, an ordinary and unimportant classmate. Didn’t the girls always talk about the doings of handsome guys?
“You look dashing when you run,” Xie Yujia continued.
Embarrassed, Hao Ren lowered his head. “It’s an honor to receive a compliment from the beautiful Class President,” he said.
Again, Xie Yujia smiled sweetly, “I’m the Class President, and it’s my duty to encourage you for the sake of our class’ honor.”
“So you didn’t mean it; it was just an encouragement.” Hao Ren gave her a disappointed look.
“I meant it; it is also an encouragement. You do look attractive when you run,” seeing Hao Ren’s disappointment, Xie Yujia immediately added.
The moment she said that, she seemed to have found something wrong with her words. She lowered her head and smiled. When she lifted her head again, she had regained her confidence as the Class President. “In fact, as long as you give it all, I will still be pleased even if you end up in the last place.”
“Thanks a lot for the encouragement!” Hao Ren dug out his mobile phone from his pocket, “It’s now nine forty. The dorms will be lock up if we don’t hurry back.”
“Today is Friday, and they won’t close until twelve,” Xie Yujia reminded him.
“Oh, I almost forgot without your reminder.” Hao Ren thought for a moment, “But it’s still late, and I have finished my practice. How about I walk you back?”
“Aren’t you hungry?” Xie Yujia asked him abruptly.
Hao Ren stared blankly at her for a moment. “I have instant noodles in my dorm…”
Seeing the silly expression on Hao Ren’s face, Xie Yujia smiled, “I’ll treat you to a late-night snack as a reward for your hard practice for the class’ honor.”
“Ok.” Hao Ren nodded. He had not expected that Xie Yujia would invite him to a late-night snack. It had been a big surprise for him already when Xie Yujia came to watch him practice so late at night.
“Wait a minute.” Hao Ren asked Xie Yujia to stay where she was before dashing across the field and picking up the jacket he had left on the grass. Then he ran back to her side.
Standing on the stairs in her elegant long dress as she was silhouetted against the night and the lamplights, Xie Yujia looked even more fresh and alluring.
“Let’s go!” Hao Ren called Xie Yujia.
“Ok.” Xie Yujia nodded and followed Hao Ren out of the fenced sports field.
Whoosh… While exiting the sports field, a gust of wind swept towards them. Without thinking, Hao Ren immediately draped his jacket over Xie Yujia’s shoulders and then shielded her from the biting wind with his body. He led her out of the cold and drafty place.
“How come I never noticed your gentlemanliness?” Back on the quiet road of the campus, Xie Yujia returned the jacket to Hao Ren and said.
“Is it because I have stayed so long with Zhou Liren that I have got some of his ill-manners?” Hao Ren joked.
“Zhao Jiayi and those guys are sometimes indeed outrageous, but I think you are different.” Xie Yujia told him while they walked.
It was close to midnight, and it was quiet with almost no one in sight. The dim lights from the scant street lamps gave the road that was neither too long or too short made it feel a little a dubious and romantic.
“Not so different. In fact, I’m no better than them.” Hao Ren said self-mockingly.
“I think you are more earnest with things. At least you have begun practicing days before the race.” Xie Yujia couldn’t help but speak up for him.
Hao Ren smiled, “I’m a bashful man who is afraid of losing.”
Xie Yujia remained silent and walked to the back gate of the university shoulder to shoulder with Hao Ren. She walked pensively as if she was savoring Hao Ren’s words or thinking about something else.
Hao Ren had never imagined that he could take a walk with the most popular girl in the class shoulder to shoulder on the campus on such a quiet night. Anyone that saw them would regard them as a couple.
“What do you want to eat?” At the back gate, Xie Yujia asked Hao Ren abruptly.
“Err…spicy Hot Pot?” Hao Ren asked tentatively.
Spicy Hot Pot was the cheapest meal he could think of. After all, he was uncomfortable having a girl treat him to a meal.
“Ok!” Xie Yujia agreed promptly.
It was Friday night, and the dorm buildings wouldn’t be locked up until midnight. There were actually many students out for late-night meals. Hao Ren regretted his decision of eating Spicy Hot Pot, fearing that the guys who were playing cards in his dorm room might also come out for a late-night snack. He would be doomed if they saw him and spread the gossip.
Xie Yujia didn’t seem to share his concern when she cheerfully walked to one of the Spicy Hot Pot stands. She turned to ask Hao Ren, “What do you want to eat? Pick whatever you want!”
Seeing her brisk manner, Hao Ren put down his concern and embarrassment. He picked up some skewers of meat and vegetables and placed them in a basket before handing it to her.
“You’ve run for a long time and must be starving. Take some more!” Without consulting him, Xie Yujia put several more skewers of meatballs in Hao Ren’s basket.
Then she picked some for herself and brought both baskets to the stand owner for payment
They sat at a table in the open air and waited impatiently for the delicious-smelling skewers to be picked up from the pot.
“Guys, don’t show up now…” While they were waiting, Hao Ren prayed silently.
“Why do you look so nervous?” Xie Yujia looked at Hao Ren and questioned.
“No, I’m not.” Hao Ren looked at the pretty Class President, “This is my first time eating a late-night snack with you, the Class President. Of course, I’m a little nervous.”
“Is it your first time eating a late-night snack with a girl?” Gazing at Hao Ren with her bright eyes, Xie Yujia asked again.
“Who told… When I was in the high school, I had a girlfriend…” Hao Ren didn’t want to admit the shameful truth.
Seeing Hao Ren’s stiff expression, Xie Yujia giggled. “I don’t believe it.”
Hao Ren curled his lips in embarrassment and decided to turn the question on her. “Class President, you are so pretty. You must have had boyfriends before.”
Xie Yujia shook her head, and her ponytail swayed with her movement. A bright black luster shone on her hair under the illumination of the streetlights.
“Then we are equal,” Hao Ren said without thinking.
Xie Yujia smiled without commenting. Suddenly it occurred to Hao Ren that they were not at all equal. Xie Yujia was so pretty, and she must have had a lot of guys pursuing her. She had just ignored them since her focus was on studying. Him, on the other hand, was just an ordinary guy who wasn’t liked by any girl.
“Two Spicy Hot Pot dishes!” The stand owner’s wife brought the Spicy Hot Pot dishes to them. She seemed to have noticed the fresh beauty, Xie Yujia, and couldn’t help glancing at her several times.
Not only the stand owner’s wife but the male students nearby as well were sneakily looking at her.
A beauty, even a low-profile one, couldn’t escape the attention of males.
“Eat!” Xie Yujia looked at the Spicy Hot Pot dishes and casually handed a pair of chopsticks to Hao Ren.
To the male students who didn’t know them, this casual gesture was an act of intimacy which attracted their jealous glances.
“This guy looks so ordinary, and neither does he seem rich. How come he caught the beauty’s eye?” The male students speculated silently while they ate their food and sneaked glances at Xie Yujia.
“Class President, why didn’t you go home this weekend?” Hao Ren asked her while he opened the package of chopsticks. That was for one-time use.
“Because I wanted to watch you run,” Xie Yujia answered without thinking. She snickered at the surprised look on Hao Ren’s face, “Ok. I stayed to help the Student Council to organize some stuff.”
“So inviting me to the meal was not in your original plan?” Hao Ren asked.
“Let me think…” Xie Yujia lowered her head to take a bite of a meatball. “Err, I planned only to watch you practice, but later I decided to reward you with a meal when I saw you practicing so hard.”
Hao Ren didn’t care if she was telling the truth or not since he was quite moved that Xie Yujia would come over and watch him practice so late at night.
“The other day when Su Han asked you to go to her office, what on earth happened?” Xie Yujia asked abruptly.
“She saw me talking in class and took me to her office to give me a lecture,” Hao Ren answered.
Xie Yujia’s eyes told him that she didn’t buy it, but she didn’t question him on that. Instead, she asked another question, “Then what happened with that the little beauty who came to see you?”
“She is one of the girls I’m tutoring. She just came here to mess with me,” Hao Ren answered immediately since he had prepared these answers.
He looked at Xie Yujia, “Class President, you seem quite interested in me recently.”
“The things happening to you recently made it impossible for me not to notice them,” Xie Yujjia retorted.
With a grin, Hao Ren lowered his head and began to suck the noodles into his mouth with loud noises. The male students who had been sneaking glances at them were furious at his lousy table manners. They thought he was blatantly showing-off that he could eat a late-night meal with a beauty even with such rudeness.
In fact, Hao Ren was uneasy. He had been Xie Yujia’s classmate for more than one year, and their paths had not crossed frequently. At the university, classes were loosely organized. Since several classes took the same courses while students from different majors took the same public courses, it was rare for them to have interactions. Besides, only a few girls were in Hao Ren’s major, and they always hung out together. In short, Hao Ren had little chance to interact with Xie Yujia.
“What Cao Ronghua and others told me last time was just a joke, wasn’t it?” Xie Yujia asked.
“Er?” Hao Ren raised his head, and his face had turned red due to the Spicy Hot Pot he had eaten.
“They came over and told me that you liked me.” Xie Yujia bit her lip before forcing the words out.
Her big eyes with long eyelashes looked exceptionally beautiful even in the shabby late-night meal stand.
Hao Ren’s face turned even redder, “No… They were just kidding…”
“Oh… It’s not important. I felt they liked to joke around.” Xie Yujia smiled brightly, seeming indifferent to the whole incident.
“Those seniors didn’t make trouble for you, did they?” After a while, Xie Yujia asked abruptly.
“Why do you ask?” Hao Ren was suddenly cautious.
“I heard from the Student Council that some troublesome senior male students had been displeased with your behavior in the past couple of weeks. They declared that they would teach you a lesson.” Xie Yujia stared at Hao Ren while she expressed her worry.
“Well, it’s no big deal.” Indifferently, Hao Ren went back to eating.
“I know some of them. Do you want me to explain to them about the misunderstandings?” Xie Yujia asked for Hao Ren’s opinion.
“It’s not a big deal. You don’t have to trouble yourself with it,” Hao Ren declined with a wave of his hand.
He didn’t think those guys would cause a lot of troubles for him. More importantly, he didn’t want Xie Yujia, a girl, to help him to solve the problem.
“Well, I guess they are just trying to frighten you. You must stay low-key in the future in the university,” Xie Yujia advised him with concern.
“But it’s not my fault,” Hao Ren thought about it but didn’t say it.
When they finished their food, it was almost eleven at night. The night’s air got colder. Seeing Xie Yujia’s thin dress, Hao Ren was afraid that she would catch a cold and suggested that they should return to the dorms earlier. Xie Yujia had no objections.
Anyway, they were still classmates and couldn’t stroll around hand in hand until midnight like a real couple.
Walking through the quiet campus, Hao Ren accompanied Xie Yujia to her dorm building.
“Do your best at the Athletic Games!” Standing at the door, Xie Yujia encouraged Hao Ren with a smile.
“Got it. Class President, have a good night.” Hao Ren waved at her. For reasons unknown to him, he preferred to call her “Class President” instead of her name.
He turned to walk to his own dorm building, and a question occurred to him, “Was it a date?”
If it had not been a date, how come he felt much closer to her?
“A beauty like the Class President was just encouraging me to perform better I guess.”
Hao Ren shook his head to get rid of his wild speculations. Back in his dorm, he took a shower and went to bed.
In the early morning of the next day, a Saturday, Hao Ren was woken up by the ringing of his mobile phone.
“Ren! What’s the heck!” Zhao Jiayi sleeping on the lower berth beneath him was the first to wake up. He threw aside his quilt and dashed to the table before tossing the ringing mobile phone to Hao Ren who was sleeping on the upper berth.
An unknown number was on the screen.
“Who is it? It’s still early!” Hao Ren answered the phone with a trace of displeasure.
“I’m Zhao Guang. Our car is now in front of your dorm building.” A steady voice came from the phone.