NPT C17

 

No Protection Tonight

Chapter 17: Brave Girl

 

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“What lackey? Sanmao, don’t be like this. We’re here at school to study, not to make a gang.” I was a little upset.

“Feng-ge, don’t misunderstand my intentions. I just admire you, and if someone mighty like you were to take me under your wing, I can at least hold my head up high in front of the girls,” Liu Sanmao explained, afraid that I would reject him.

But before I could say anything, a feminine silhouette appeared next to him. It was Lin Xiaoya, Liu Jie’s best friend. It was obvious that she had come to chastise me.

“Ahem.” Liu Xiaoya cleared her throat. Liu Sanmao was still waiting for my response and didn’t notice her at all.

She became irritated. “Hey, are you finished eating?”

“Oh, nope.” He looked really nervous, since it was rare for a girl to talk to him first. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry; such low emotional perception, but he could still spend all day thinking about picking up girls.

“Are you a pig? You’re eating so much!” She rolled her eyes.

Liu Sanmao looked exasperated. “I haven’t even started eating, what’re you—” He caught my eye.

“Oh, you wanted me to give you my seat. You should’ve said that before, I thought you were interested in me or something,” Liu Sanmao mumbled and shot me a glowing look.

For the sake of avoiding any awkwardness, I didn’t want him to leave, but he still managed to slip away.

I felt agitated and restless while facing Lin Xiaoya, and she took the first pounce.

“Zhuang Feng, you’re really dumb, aren’t you? You hurt my Jie in front of so many people, how could you have the heart to do it?” Her accusatory words made me feel even more uncomfortable.

“Before this, I thought that you were a rather mature guy, but now I’ve realized that you’re absolutely nothing! All you boys want is face, so does that mean you’re not going to leave any for the girls? Even if you don’t have any feelings for Jie, you probably shouldn’t have done it like that, you’re just making trouble!” She slapped the table with great force. Though I knew how to fight, I would never strike a girl. She had taken this opportunity to face off against me, picking a public place like the cafeteria on purpose.

This Lin Xiaoya was rather cunning. She’d effectively cut off all my escape routes.

“Okay, alright. What I did was wrong.” I admitted my mistake. To be honest, I just wanted to put an end to the whole thing as quickly as possible so she wouldn’t have any lingering feelings.*

*I wrote a rather long piece on this whole ordeal, so I stuck it at the bottom.

“Hmph, at least you know what you did wrong. Now, I’m going to give you two options: one is to apologize to Jie and start going out with her; two is to come clean and not hurt her feelings, much less have her shed tears. She’s a really fragile person and probably isn’t willing to accept reality. Because of you, she hasn’t been able to focus at all these days and refuses to eat. As her best friend, I keep all of these things in mind, you know.” Her tone was authoritative and commanding.

To be honest, if this had happened earlier, I would have said yes to Liu Jie a hundred times. Liu Jie was beautiful, and her body was perfect. There was no lack of boys who had a crush on her, and to be her boyfriend would almost be considered an achievement.

But right now, my heart could only store one person, and stuffing another one inside was very hard. I sighed and couldn’t think of an answer. Coincidentally, I noticed Liu Jie sitting not too far off, glancing casually at me. Our eyes met for a moment, and she quickly tucked her small head down. Cute, I thought.

The beef noodles tasted excellent, but I couldn’t enjoy it with Lin Xiaoya sitting across from me. After finishing it in a few hasty bites, I hurried away before she could stop me.

It wasn’t until I returned to the classroom when I realized that I was on cleaning duty for the day. Just when I picked up the blackboard eraser, I was stopped by Wang Xiaopang.

“Feng-ge, you should go take a break. I can clean the blackboard for you.” He looked rather ardent in his decision, probably because of Liu Sanmao’s earlier remark.

“Yeah, breathing in chalk dust can harm the kidneys. Our fatso* can’t pick up girls anyway. Feng-ge should watch his health,” said a nearby classmate.

*The words “小胖” (Xiaopang) in his name mean “little fatty”, which is implied as a nickname (although not really seeming like one). The random classmate’s use of “fatso” is purely friendly and a harmless joke.

What a humorous bunch. Then, they started gossiping about how I was flirting with the class flower while playing the young miss at the same time.

“Hey, don’t talk trash, there’s nothing between me and Liu Jie.” I raised my voice slightly, and they shut their mouths immediately. I could tell that they were a little afraid of me, but their eyes seemed fixated on something behind my back.

I turned around. I didn’t know how long Liu Jie and Lin Xiaoya stood at the classroom door, but I guessed they’d heard my biting words.

Well, this is awkward. I was scared that Liu Jie would break down, as there were plenty of people out in the corridor who were peering inside to get a glance. After all, seeing me right now was more interesting than looking at a hot girl.

If Liu Jie were to cry, my classmates would definitely spread out all kinds of rumors. I would definitely have a hard time clearing my image, then.

Thankfully, Liu Jie entered the classroom without a fuss. She paused ever so slightly at my desk and returned to her seat.

The last period in the morning was for P.E, a valuable occasion for us twelfth-graders. The coach didn’t pressure us, either; after running two laps, we were allowed to stop for recess.

Saozi was still sick at home, and I had been feeling uncomfortable all day thinking about it. It was the perfect time to go back and check, but Liu Jie stopped me after two steps. “Classmate Zhuang Feng, wait up.”

Liu Jie’s voice was really nice to hear, like a little meadowlark.

“What.” I stopped walking. Liu Jie walked up to me and pulled at my sleeve. She spoke in a whiny yet affectionate tone, “Just come here, will you?”

I didn’t really have a reason to deny her, so she took me to the most private corner of the field. Two flourishing willow trees blocked the outside view, so it was a popular place for young lovers to come at night.

Of course, it was also sort of a dumpster for… that. A couple of… used products lay carelessly on the ground. Liu Jie’s small cheeks blushed after seeing them, and she kept quiet. The air turned considerably warmer.

I broke the ice first.

“Ah, isn’t this harmful to the environment? I guess it would be somewhat understandable for guys, but why don’t girls know how to get rid of them?” I shook my head.

“Tch, it should be you boys who are supposed to throw them out. A girl in my neighboring dorm was about to throw it in the trash, but someone on patrol saw her. It’s really embarrassing.” Liu Jie rolled her eyes at me, it was almost captivating.

I took a few more glimpses of her. Liu Jie’s body ratio was excellent—her physique was ample where it mattered and petite in all the right places.

She felt my gaze and impulsively straightened. “Hey, Zhuang Feng, let me ask you something.”

“Hm?”

“Are you bent?”* Liu Jie asked embarrassedly.

*Being “bent” is Chinese modern slang for gay. Since straight is heterosexual, bent would naturally be homosexual.

“Eh?” I didn’t really understand what she was talking about until her eyes darted towards my pants in a flustered manner.

I immediately knew what she meant. “Of course not.” Ah, city people and their fancy words.

Liu Jie boosted her courage and managed to blurt out, “Then why don’t you like me that way? They all say that only a gay person wouldn’t like me.”

“Ahem, Classmate Liu Jie, we’re in our senior year in high school. Relationships will severely affect our studies, and we need to focus on exams to get into a good college.” I cleared my throat.*

*Note: Our MC isn’t really dense. Remember that he has a spankin’ hot Tangsao at home.

Liu Jie paused and broke out into a giggle. The air around her turned playful and teasing.

“You’re just so interesting, I love talking to you. If it were someone else that night, they would run away without a doubt, but you still helped out and stood up for me. I want to know, if it happened again would you do the same thing?” Liu Jie pouted her lips expectantly.

Why is she making this so dramatic? It’s as if she was actually going to find someone to recreate the scene.

Liu Jie’s aura was just too bright and sparkling, so I couldn’t bring myself to let her down. I agreed.

“Heehee, I knew that you cared about me! Why don’t we take a walk?” She was delighted, and she stuck out her dainty tongue.

I kept thinking about Saozi, so I barely responded to her enthusiastic chatter. Soon, we walked out the school gate, and I saw an alluring figure under the shade of some trees.

Was there something wrong with my eyes? Isn’t that Saozi?!

 

*As the translator and a reader just like you, I feel rather obliged to present the two sides of this issue to those who may feel biased. In defense of L.J, she’s a pretty shy girl and has probably never been in a relationship before, much less confessed. As mentioned prior, she didn’t want to confess “alone”, and wanted some form of support from her classmates, given her reputation and looks. She didn’t really have a reason to think that ZF would reject her, as the great majority of boys would probably kill to be her boyfriend. But in defense of ZF, it’s disrespectful and underhanded to confess in front of so many people, especially with most of them being their peers. Romance is a very personal and private issue, and doing it so publicly almost seems like L.J is trying to showcase their “potential” relationship. And, what if ZF really was gay? Did L.J ever consider that possibility (lmao)? If you guys are wondering what ZF should have done in the perspective of Lin Xiaoya, I’m guessing that he probably should’ve pulled her aside, maybe to a more secluded place, and rejected her then instead of “announcing” it.  

In my opinion, Liu Jie was more at fault here for not even considering the possibility that ZF might reject her and thinking that ZF scared off Guo Tao because he liked her, and not that he just wanted to help a fellow classmate in trouble (which he did, in addition to the reason that he thought Liu Jie was hot, which did not mean that he liked her).

Let me know what you guys think in the comments! I’m curious to see.

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