The Pheromones Say We Have No Chance - Chap 20
Chapter 20 — A Clean Hand Needs No Washing
Class 3 goes into an uproar, with a few “Oh shit”s and “Motherfuck”s, some people even letting out some dialect swear words in a pinch.
Luo Zhiyu: “?”
Xiao Yan: “……”
“What’s up?” Luo Zhiyu is good at reading the room, and immediately detects a sliver of something up in the chaos. “You’re that excited to see the school-grass?”
Luo Zhiyu contemplates: “I don’t think I am less good-looking than you.”
When Xiao Yan leaves the First Year, Class 3 classroom, Luo Zhiyu further discovers that the way his classmates have been looking at him has shifted from impressed to sympathy.
Luo Zhiyu: “?”
In the First Metropolitan High school forum, the students who are sneaking on their phone during evening self-study have produced two new posts. The people at the centre of discussion for both posts are Luo Zhiyu and Xiao Yan.
One of the posts firmly believes that Luo Zhiyu and Xiao Yan have an innocent relationship, and that the 0% compatibility makes it so that their only concern is whether the two will fight.
On the other hand, the second post firmly believes that there must be something between Xiao Yan and Luo Zhiyu, and Xiao Yan might actually turn out to be a fuckboy.
111L (Not Zhiliao): ? He’s not a fuckboy.
112L: Oh, it’s like that I see.
113L (Not Zhiliao): ? Do you have a problem?
114L (Xiao-dows Yan-der): Whatever, whatever. Wipes sweat.jpg
115L (Xiao-dows Yan-der): A clean hand needs no washing.
The bell for the end of self-study sounds; students who have already packed up their bags rush out towards the staircase entrance.
“Don’t just give up, Yan-ge, you’re really not going to try to clear your name?” Tang Yuan thinks there is still hope for the face of their dorm.
Fan Yue, as a bystander since the first day of school till now, thinks he has a clear grasp on the situation and sighs regretfully: “Right now, if he gives Luo Zhiyu a hard time, to our class, he’s a fuckboy. If he is good to Luo Zhiyu, to the Class 3 downstairs, he’s a fuckboy A who is regretting his actions, which means he is continuing his fuckboying.”
“That’s rough.” Zhang Shu chimes in.
Xiao Yan himself does not care much either way. As they walk down the stairs with the flow of the crowd, he spots someone far off in the student body. He grabs a sticky note and a pen from the side pocket in his bag.
“I told you from the beginning to stop provoking him.” Fan Yue can no longer repress his delight in watching Xiao Yan struggle, “Look at you now, it’s backfired.”
Fan Yue does not get a chance to see his roommate regret his actions, but does witness said roommate draw out a snide-eyed pig face on a post-it. Taking a few steps forward, he slaps it onto Luo Zhiyu’s back.
Fan Yue: “……”
“What?!” Luo Zhiyu hops downstairs, limping and skipping, supporting himself on Jing Ximing. He does not feel the sticky note on his back at all, “Since when are we this close?”
“Will you be okay going down?” Xiao Yan seems very caring.
“It doesn’t hurt as much as when I just fell, it’s fine.” Xiao Yan’s attitude has changed too abruptly, and Luo Zhiyu is finding it hard to get used to it, “Stop bothering me, just don’t forget this weekend.”
The temperatures have dipped outside. Groups of students shiver as they leave the teaching building and head towards the dorms. Luo Zhiyu doesn’t know why, but keeps feeling as if the students who walk by him are looking at him, some of them barely hiding their laughter.
“What are you laughing at?” Luo Zhiyu thinks they’re being ridiculous, “What, haven’t seen someone fall before?”
The students are divided into three groups once they reach the sports field, all making their way towards the dorms. Luo Zhiyu stops in his tracks seeing Xiao Yan and his three roommates, who are leaving from the opposite end of the sports field.
“What are you looking at?” Jing Ximing notices that he has stopped, “It’s the alpha dorms over there, haven’t you done timeout there before?”
“You can get to their dorms through the sports field?” Luo Zhiyu remembers when he and Xiao Yan crossed the sports field last night, there were even people kicking a ball around here.
“Yeah, technically yes, but it’s kind of roundabout. It circles around the omega dorms, normally people don’t take that route.” Jing Ximing looks at him, confused, “Zhiyu, your sense of direction is bad as always.”
Since Luo Zhiyu doesn’t have many free limbs after his fall, Jing Ximing is the one to unlock their dorm room, and Luo Zhiyu takes the job of turning the lights on.
“Wait.” Jing Ximing pulls at Luo Zhiyu, “What is this on your back?”
Jing Ximing lifts a post-it from Luo Zhiyu’s back.
Luo Zhiyu: “……”
Xiao Yan, that jerk.
[Not Zhiliao]: [Picture attached], turn yourself in right now.
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: He says he’s not available right now.
[Not Zhiliao]: ??? Scram.
[Not Zhiliao]: How dare you stick it on me when it’s this ugly.
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: Well of course, it’s not as well-drawn as yours.
As he speaks, he changes his profile photo to the orange that Luo Zhiyu had hit him with that night, with Luo Zhiyu’s “eating melon” doodle and all.
[Not Zhiliao]: You’ve eaten the orange already, so you’re going to use its posthumous portrait as your profile photo?
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: ……
[Second Year Excellent Student Representative]: Fairy scrunching eyebrows.jpg
Luo Zhiyu’s phone rings, cutting off his conversation with Xiao Yan: “Hello? Mom?”
“How is school?” The voice sounds from the other end of the line. The signal is not very good, distorting her voice slightly, “Have you been working hard on your studies?”
“Yeah.” Luo Zhiyu, who has not done any homework the entire night due to his hand wounds, starts to talk nonsense, “My grades are getting better and better, the teachers praise me every time they see me, I have not made trouble for my teachers at all, and I’ve made a lot of friends.”
“That’s good, are you adjusting to living at school?”
“I saw that you brought your drawing materials to school again?”
“Hm? Hello?” Luo Zhiyu pretends he does not hear, taking his phone away from his ear, “Mom, your signal isn’t very good over there.”
“You’re in high school already, why don’t you focus on your studies? Don’t spend too much time on those things, okay?”
“Okay.” Luo Zhiyu duly agrees, “Since we high-schoolers need to be making the most of every moment for homework, if there’s nothing else, I’ll get going.”
“You really have a whole routine for your mother. Everything you say is in opposites……” Jing Ximing sits at his own seat, listening to Luo Zhiyu’s entire nonsensical spiel. “With your grades, your mom shouldn’t have much to worry about, no?”
“It’s because of these grades that she worries that I’ll take the art school route1.” Luo Zhiyu marks out the multiple choice on an English exam paper, “I’ll cross the bridge when I get to it, what’s the use in thinking so much?”
Time always feels slow during the first few days of the start of term, but now that everyone has adjusted to the rhythm and routine of school, time seems to have sped up; every day feels like a “find the difference” from the day before. It is the second and third years’ start-of-term exams this weekend; students who have been preparing all week walk into the examination rooms while sporting eyebags. The recreational areas and the sports field, in turn, seem to have been taken over by first year students in red uniforms.
Youths do not seem to fear things like “futures” and “tomorrows”; a group of first year students are weirdly finding their entertainment in their own relaxed weekends, many of them walking here and there outside the examination areas to watch the second and third years take their start-of-term exams.
“What are they happy for?” A third year student who has handed in their exams early says, “It’ll be your turn one day, no one can escape things like the start-of-term exams.”
Luo Zhiyu has just joined the Students’ Association, getting his hands on a little proctor assistant position. He brings a chair into the First Examination Room for the second years, doing his homework one day and doing his drawings on the next. The proctor teacher notices that he is having a time being busy and doesn’t bother him.
On Sunday afternoon, the second year students take their last subject test, English. The proctor teacher sits on the side, marking exam papers from previous subjects, and Luo Zhiyu tilts his head while listening to the listening portion. Afterwards, he starts to make some realism sketches out of boredom. Xiao Yan sits to his front, going through the exam questions.
Luo Zhiyu knows from one glance that this person relies on intuition rather than grammar rules when he goes through his problems. He does not even make annotations on the questions, only skimming once and choosing an answer right away. He goes through the exam with speed, and it isn’t long before he flips to the backside of the exam paper. The students behind Xiao Yan seem to get antsy at the sound of Xiao Yan flipping his page over, haphazardly guessing at a few questions, red-faced, trying to catch up.
Luo Zhiyu is entertained by this, eventually sketching out Xiao Yan’s silhouette in his sketchbook.
Someone lightly waves an exam paper in front of his eyes.
Luo Zhiyu: “?”
“There is one hour remaining till the end of the exam.” The proctor teacher reminds quietly.
“I’ll hand mine in early.” Xiao Yan helps Luo Zhiyu pack up his books and pens, saying quietly, “Sir, let me borrow your little proctor assistant, I need to take him on a hospital visit.”
“Why did you hand it in early?” Luo Zhiyu hugs his backpack, following him out of the classroom, “There’s no rush to get to the tests, we have a queue number already.”
“I hand it in when I’m done writing.” Xiao Yan walks with him towards the campus gates, passing on his exam tips as a second year while he’s at it, “Don’t you think that, once you’re done and you see questions that you’re not sure about, if you change them, it always turns out wrong?”
He who hesitates is lost.
“I’ve noticed.” Luo Zhiyu nods, “So I usually don’t check my answers, I just sit there and flip my exam over like fifty times, so that the people around me can really experience how time flies.”
Xiao Yan: “……” How evil.
It is crowded at the City Hospital on the weekends. Because they have an appointment, Luo Zhiyu and Xiao Yan do not need to queue up, and go straight to the testing room to line up.
“They didn’t draw blood last time.” Luo Zhiyu flips through the testing form repeatedly, “Why are they taking blood tests this time? I get a little bloodsick, or maybe it’s the needle.”
One time when he was little, the doctor in charge of his blood test accidentally stabbed the wrong place. From then on, Luo Zhiyu is a little uncomfortable with blood tests. As he sees the “Blood Test Room” sign, his face starts to lose colour.
“Don’t worry, it’s really quick. The hospital says the blood test is more accurate, usually they don’t do it for pheromone compatibility tests.” Xiao Yan has his head slumped over his game with Fan Yue and friends; they have almost destroyed the Nexus and he doesn’t even look up. “They only do blood tests for the pre-marriage checkup, because they put the compatibility percentage on the proof of marriage certificate.”
“The heck? Pre-marriage checkup?”
He has just discovered that in the waiting area, everyone seems to have come in pairs.
The two of them are the only ones in their school uniforms, one with his nose buried in mobile games, the other going through intense deliberation, and with an empty space between them to top it off.
And the ones who are waiting to do their pre-marriage checkup turn their gazes onto them due to his exclamation earlier. Once they see the two in their school uniforms, they start to mutter amongst themselves.
Xiao Yan feels chills go down his spine, his hands jolting, and accidentally makes a slice at his teammates.
Author’s note: Oh yeah, lots and lots of world settings that I just made up here.