The scorching summer heat was unbearable, even with the air conditioning on in the cafeteria at No. 1 High School.
Yang Kai strode over to the corner and slammed his tray down. "Can I sit here?" he gruffly asked.
Gu Miao silently nodded. The boy was tall and sturdy, like a mountain blocking the sunlight streaming in through the window.
He grunted as he took a few bites of his food, then looked up to see that the boy in front of him only had a small serving of green vegetables on his tray.
"That's all you're eating?" Yang Kai asked in his rough voice.
Just one serving of vegetables, paired with plain rice and a watery soup.
"Yeah," Gu Miao mumbled as he buried his head in his rice. He had spent most of his money on buying the bracelet. With no time to work during his senior year, he had to live frugally.
Yang Kai frowned and scooped a large piece of meat from his plate, placing it into Gu Miao's empty plate.
"The cafeteria lady gave me too much, have some."
The red braised pork in front of him was still sizzling with oil and emitting a strong aroma. Gu Miao looked down at the green vegetables in his bowl, feeling a sour pain in his stomach.
His hand hesitated, but he still refused: "No need."
"Hey, bro." Yang Kai sighed. "You helped me so much before, it's only fair to have a few pieces of meat."
Yang Kai's grades were among the worst in the advanced class.
Before the final exams, Gu Miao lent him his notes.
Thanks to that notebook, he was able to stay in the advanced class until the last minute.
"My mom said to thank you properly and invite you to dinner at our house," said Yang Kai.
Gu Miao pursed his lips and replied, "Please thank her for me, but there's no need for that kind of kindness."
"Okay, okay, I understand. It would be a bit awkward," scratched Yang Kai's head. "So just eat more meat, it's like I'm treating you to a meal. I still have a lot of questions to ask you in the future, and I wouldn't feel right asking if you don't eat."
Gu Miao lowered his head and looked at the shiny, oily piece of meat in front of him.
After a moment of contemplation, he said, "Okay."
Yang Kai smiled and then served him some shrimp and fish.
"Here, have some of these too."
Friendship during adolescent years always comes suddenly.
Gu Miao knew that Yang Kai was trying to spare his feelings by giving him a kind excuse, but the kindness he had never felt before warmed his heart nonetheless.
Finally, in early July, the music school had a break, but many diligent students continued to study and practice at home.
After nearly a month of intense training, Cheng Chu was physically and mentally exhausted. The school's courses were demanding, and everyone's level was high, which added to her pressure.
After the break, she planned to go home and rest for a week before getting back to practicing. The villa area in the summer was not hot, and the lush vegetation covered the scorching sun.
After a month, Cheng Chu finally had a good night's sleep.
When she woke up, it was almost noon, and the living room downstairs was noisy. She yawned and stumbled downstairs.
The dazzling sunlight shone through the French windows, casting a golden glow.
A pretty girl was lying on the sofa, holding her phone and talking incessantly, "Save me, save me, save me! Fu Xun, where are you? Hurry up, I'm about to die!"
"Don't whine. If you die, you die," Fu Xun sneered. "I won't play with you next time. You're such a loser."
The girl probably died in the game. She pouted and put down her phone, then looked up and saw Cheng Chu.
Her eyes lit up and she jumped up from the sofa, bouncing in place like a child. She exclaimed, "Sister, you're awake!"
Cheng Chu rubbed her eyes and finally saw her. She smiled and asked, "Jinjin, when did you get here?"
"Not long ago," Cheng Jinjin ran over and affectionately took Cheng Chu's hand. "Sister, let me tell you, Fu Xun always bullies me when we play games and calls me stupid."
Cheng Jinjin was not very good at playing games and always lagged behind.
Cheng Chu had seen it before, but she didn't say anything.
She just affectionately patted her cousin's head and comforted her, "It's okay, I'll play with you later."
They were playing King of Glory. Cheng Chu used to be a King, but she probably dropped down after not playing for several seasons.
However, playing ranked games with Cheng Jinjin should be doable.
"Really? Really?" Cheng Jinjin leaned against her shoulder and rubbed it hard. She turned her head and frowned at Fu Xun, "Stinky little brother, someone else is taking me now, I don't need you anymore, hmph."
Fu Xun raised an eyebrow, "You're in Gold, right? Even if Cheng Chu falls from being a King, she's still a Diamond. You two can't be ranked together."
Cheng Chu didn't expect that Cheng Jinjin had been playing for so long and was still in the Gold tier.
She thought she would have at least reached Platinum by now.
The little girl beside them was so angry at Fu Xun that she glared at him. Cheng Chu looked at the pouting little face and found it extremely adorable.
"It's okay, it's okay. I'll ask Lin Qifeng later. He hasn't played in a while, maybe the three of us can team up." Cheng Chu said with a smile, trying to calm everyone down.
The little girl finally smiled again.
As expected, Lin Qifeng was free at home and readily agreed to Cheng Chu's proposal. And, coincidentally, his rank was just right to form a team of three.
He gathered up a bunch of snacks and brought them over to Cheng Chu's house. The three of them sat in a circle and happily opened up their game.
But Fu Xun was not content. He walked over to the flower vase and then rubbed his foot on the floor.
This annoyed Cheng Jinjin, who glared at him and said, "Can you stop walking around and bothering me?"
Cheng Chu had already seen through his little scheme.
Just as one game ended, she turned to Fu Xun and said, "Why don't you join us and play with your alternate account?"
The young boy's eyes lit up, but he tried to play it cool and said, "Sure, why not."
But if Fu Xun joined, they would have four people and wouldn't be able to play ranked games. Their top priority for the day was to help Cheng Jinjin rank up, and playing just for fun wouldn't serve any purpose.
Four people formed a circle, staring at each other.
Finally, Cheng Chu spoke up, "I'll go find some friends and see if anyone wants to play."
Her first thought was of Gu Miao, but she knew that the young man spent all his free time working. How could he have time to play games?
The cicadas outside chirped endlessly, and Cheng Chu's fingers paused on the screen for a moment.
But in the end, she couldn't resist the hope in her heart and tentatively messaged him, "Gu Miao, do you play King of Glory?"
He replied almost immediately, "Not really."
Cheng Chu looked at the chat box, feeling as if he had been waiting for her message all along.
"Have you played it before?" she typed.
He quickly replied, "Yang Kai asked me to play a few rounds the other day."
Gu Miao stared at his phone, feeling a bit down. He used to think playing these games was a waste of time, but now he realized they were somewhat useful.
If it weren't for Yang Kai forcing him to play a few rounds the other day, he wouldn't even be able to speak up for himself.
He lowered his gaze, his dark eyelashes trembling slightly, feeling a bit sad.
The other side quickly replied, "We need one more person, do you want to join us?"
Gu Miao's dark eyes flickered, hesitating for a few seconds before replying, "I'm not good at playing, I don't want to hold you guys back."
Although he really wanted to accept the invitation, he didn't want to embarrass himself in front of her friends with his lack of experience.
Cheng Chu didn't seem to mind, quickly responding, "It's okay, my sister is also a beginner, we don't need you to be any better."
Gu Miao could hardly contain the upward curve of his lips, which were practically twitching with excitement. The glow of the screen illuminated his dark eyes in an instant.
"Good," he replied without hesitation this time.
But when the game started, Cheng Chu realized that Gu Miao's "not playing well" was the same concept as a top student's "not doing well on an exam."
Cheng Chu's character, a wounded Diao Chan, was running frantically, with the enemy's jungle quickly catching up from behind. Suddenly, Li Bai appeared out of nowhere and killed the enemy in three quick moves.
"Wow, you're amazing," the girl's originally clear voice became slightly hoarse through the phone, making Gu Miao's heart itch.
He tightly pursed his thin lips, and his ears turned red from the straightforward praise. With tension in the air, Angela bounced over and took him out with a three-hit combo.
The four of them fell into silence.
Feeling embarrassed, Cheng Chu tried to lighten the mood and said, "Angela on the other side is so fierce. She just killed me once."
"Right, right," Cheng Jinjin quickly agreed. "Li Bai, you're so amazing. You're definitely the MVP of this game."
Gu Miao just made a soft "hmm" sound. He stared at the countdown to his respawn on his screen with his dark, stern eyes, his thin lips pressed into a line.
This was so embarrassing!
His dark eyes flickered with anger as he adjusted his view and silently observed Angela's position on the other side.
Ten minutes later, Angela sent a message, "Li Bai, little brother, I'm a girl. Can you please stop killing me~~"
Within ten seconds of sending the message, Angela on the other side was killed for the ninth time, but this time it was by Diao Chan.
Cheng Jinjin quietly glanced at Cheng Chu, who had no expression on her face, while manipulating her own Zhuang Zhou. Her bright peach blossom eyes gleamed with a cold light, her lips lightly pursed, exuding a cold and disdainful aura.
"Sister is so cool!" Cheng Jinjin shouted happily in her heart.
"Jinjin, come on." Cheng Chu couldn't help but remind her when he saw Zhuang Zhou staring blankly at the screen.
"Oh, coming, coming." Cheng Jinjin regained her worshipful gaze and adjusted her chubby fish body to follow behind the slender figure of Diao Chan.
The afternoon of gaming time passed quickly, and the four of them worked hard to support Cheng Jinjin, finally bringing her to the diamond level.
The dim yellow light of the night shone into the small square room. Gu Miao put down his phone, took off his glasses, and rubbed his forehead tiredly. But his heart was filled with a surge of joy.
As he raised the corners of his mouth, he turned on the light and took out a glasses case and a card from the nearby drawer.
Inside the exquisite case was a pair of gold-rimmed glasses, the same ones he didn't buy last time. He gently touched the frame, and his tired eyes softened with a gentle radiance.
This was Cheng Chu's birthday gift to him.
The young man stared at the gold-rimmed glasses for a moment before reluctantly closing them and opening the handmade card beside it.
It was a handmade card, and when he opened it, a three-dimensional birthday cake popped out.
At the bottom, the girl's neat handwriting read: "Happy birthday, Gu Miao! I told you that you look good even with gold-rimmed glasses!
Outside the window, there were rundown apartment buildings, but the warm yellow lights slowly descended, as if enveloping the gray-white walls in a warm coat.
Gu Miao lowered his gaze, his eyes filled with tenderness. His pale fingers gently traced the elegant handwriting, before turning to the signature in the bottom right corner.
There were only two words in the signature, "Chu Chu."
The summer breeze gently blew into the room, and Gu Miao's dark eyes seemed to fall into the sparkling stars of the summer night. He carefully touched those two words, his expression filled with struggle.
After what seemed like a long time, he finally made up his mind and bent down, holding the card and devoutly placing a kiss on the signature in the bottom right corner.
Perhaps it was a kiss lighter than the summer breeze.
The author has something to say:
Gu Miao: Is what I'm doing a little bit wrong?
Translations during sleepless nights. I can sleep when I'm dead! ...Please let me sleep. Happy readers keep me awake, and lots of love and a huge thank you for supporting my hobby!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ypeels.