Chapter 14: Happy Birthday
Translator: Sissy That Walk
The North Canteen was empty on Sunday morning and most of the windows where they served breakfast were closed, except the one serving longevity noodles, fortunately.
After putting a bowl of hot noodles in front of Di Qiuhe, He Bai began to gnaw away at the steamed buns while drinking soy milk.
“I want the soy milk, too.” Di Qiuhe split the disposable chopsticks and gazed at He’s hands with pretty, slightly widened eyes.
He Bai paused as he was suddenly reminded of the milk tea that Di Qiuhe had grabbed from him. He put a straw into the soy milk without hesitation, took a swig, and then took it out. He then got up with his school card to buy another one.
“Got any sugar in it? I like it sweet.” Di Qiuhe requested with an innocent look.
He Bai took a deep breath. ‘It’s his birthday after all. Besides, I shouldn’t quarrel with an imbecile’. Thinking of that, he got up in a rage and took the soy milk to add sugar. After that, he put a straw into it and placed the soy milk beside Di Qiuhe’s bowl. Then, he picked up his bun and took a bite, looking ferocious with his eyes widened.
His angry face looked a lot like that of a teenager. Di Qiuhe sneaked a look at his elusive dimples when He Bai was chewing and gave a small cough to cover his laugh. He slowly rolled up his sleeves before stirring the noodles with the chopsticks，gently picked up one and delivered to his mouth.
He Bai’s eyes followed his movements before finally fixing his eyes on his mouth.
The lips were moistened by the wet noodle when it’s sent to his mouth and now he had become even more attractive with glossy lips, slightly closed teeth and faintly revealed tongue. The wooden chopsticks holding the springy noodles were slowly being sent into his mouth.
“I want more pepper.” said Di Qiuhe while putting down the chopsticks.
He Bai tried to get his breath back as he was nearly chocked by the bun after hearing his request. He hurriedly gulped down a large amount of soy milk to help with the choking and then throwed the bag of buns onto the table in a rage. After that, he got up again, saying “Wait!”
Di Qiuhe looked at him with a baffled and aggrieved face “Are you ok?”
He Bai, unconsciously gritting his teeth, said, “I’m fine.”
A bowl of flaming-red pepper oil was placed next to the soy milk.
Di Qiuhe, with eyes lightening up, smiled gently at He Bai. “Thank you. You are so considerate.”
He Bai continued to bite his buns and decided to turn a deaf ear to whatever he was going to say next.
He was resolved to not respond to him and simply kept biting one bun after another.
Di Qiuhe curled up his lips as he noticed his stuffed cheeks and uptight body, but then he held back his desire to mess with him further and instead lowered down his head and swallowed a mouthful of noodle into his mouth. He commended, “So delicious, just like before.”
He Bai felt surprised. He swallowed the buns and looked up at him, asking “Have you ever had longevity noodle here?”
“Hm,” replied Di Qiuhe with a smile after gulping down a mouthful of sweet soybean milk in the same way he did, “I have tried it twice. Didn’t I tell you? I am a student of the Q university, but I graduated this year. I’ve come back to collect my diploma. Never thought I will run into you here.”
It was June and the fourth graders were coming back in droves for their graduation photos and diplomas. Although it did surprise him that Di Qiuhe was a student of this university. He was suddenly reminded of the buyer who bought Di Qiuhe’s autograph. That man was also a fourth grader of the Q university and his ID on both the forum and WeChat bore uncanny resemblance to Di Qiuhe’s name. Could they be the same person?
“Why are you looking at me like that? Is there something on my face?” Di Qiuhe touched his face and put on a gentle smile. “Are you surprised that a handsome man like me would go to such a prestigious college? That’s fine. I get that a lot. Though I study here, I seldomly came to school because of the nature of my job. Even my classmates might not know me.”
He Bai slightly lowered his eyes. The unreasonable doubts bothered him to ask, that….
“Did you sign in the school BBS? What’s your ID? Let’s friend each other.” He requested.
“School BBS” said Di Qiuhe with a confused face. He frowned as he tried to dig into his memory, then he drew out his phone to search the websites, all the while saying “I remember I signed up when I got enrolled back then, but I used my school ID number instead of a registered account name. Let me see…”
Seeing that, He Bai quickly used his WeChat to send a message to the buyer.
He sneaked a look at Di Qiuhe who was busy signing in the school forum. Di Qiuhe was obviously not using the WeChat, and he got an immediate reply from the buyer.
A Bird Born in Autumn: Good morning. It’s yet another beautiful day.
“Sorry, it would seem that my company canceled my ID in order to protect my privacy.” Di Qiuhe showed him the screen of his phone, looking quite sorry. Then he withdrew his hand with a touch of melancholy on his face, “It’s the first time that an alumnus wanted to friend me… Thank you for being with me on my birthday. I’m very happy today.”
Looking at his sad face, He Bai almost felt guilty as if he had done something terrible to him.
“You… You’re welcome.” Ashamed of what he had in mind a while ago, he put away his phone.
It made sense. They couldn’t very well be the same person. After all, who would pay a fortune to buy back one’s own autograph after giving it away? That was not something that a smart man like Di Qiuhe would do. He was not that rich.
The more he thought of it, the guiltier he felt for being so paranoid a while ago. He then realized that what he said had deeply upsett Di and he hurriedly added, “Today is your birthday. What else do you want except for the longevity noodles? Cake? I know just the place to eat cake. Would you like me to order you one”
“Ok. Let’s go have some cake.” Di Qiuhe chimed in and sped up to finish his noodle. “I thought I’ll be alone today. Thank God I ran into you, little puppy. Thank you.”
He Bai swallowed what he wanted to say and looked towards his camera bag beside him.
‘Perhaps, I just found the right model for photographic course this week.’
Each of them finished the breakfasts with their own axe to grind. Then Di Qiuhe went to get his diploma, while He Bai took photos of Di Qiuhe striding into the teaching building.
With the sun rising, more and more students were coming out for exercises. To avoid causing disturbance, Di Qiuhe rode with He Bai downtown after getting his diploma. Afterwards, they drove together to a game center.
“Don’t you want a cake?” Standing in front of the game center, He Bai felt as if he was about to enter the lion’s den.
“I have already ordered a cake over the phone, but it needs time to be ready. Let’s kill some time with this while we wait.” Di Qiuhe lowered his cap. From his pocket he drew 500 yuan and delivered them to He Bai, “Here you are. Go exchange some game coins. Let’s play to our hearts’ content.”
He stared at the money as if it’s the same 500 yuan that he made yesterday. The shame for selling the autograph came out again. He took a picture when he saw Di Qiuhe ‘s handsome face under that cap peak. He then took the money and strode into the game center, all the while thinking, ‘Well, think of it as a compensation for selling his autograph.’
They tried everything that the game center had to offer: basketball machine, fishing machine, street dancing machine and VR equipment. He Bai stood next to a doll machine with an emotionless face, quietly watching Di Qiuhe wrestling with the gripper trying to catch the dolls. At weekends, there were a lot of people. Earlier the two were able to go on unnoticed under the cover of the dim lights, but now in the section of doll machines where lights were sufficiently bright, more and more passersby were looking towards their direction.
Holding back his impulse to yawn, He Bai suddenly noticed that not far away there were a few girls looking at his direction with sparkling eyes. With a twitch of his eyebrows, he looked around and saw a staff in a maid’s uniform selling comic spin-offs. He hurriedly stopped her and bought something. Then, he came back, placing his hands on Di Qiuhe’s shoulders and turning him around to face himself. “What’s up?” causally said Di Qiuhe, not minding the fact that this sudden interruption had totally ruined his best chance at catching the doll. Nonetheless, he wasn’t pissed, and instead raised his hat a bit and gently asked, “Getting impatient, hm? Shall we go get some drinks?”
The blushed face after playing, the smile, and the gentle way he said those words almost made He Bai feel like he was flirting with him. What a horrible delusion it was!
Holding back his desire to make sarcastic comments, He Bai stuck a sticker on Di’s face and then he squeezed a lot of paint, randomly rubbing them all over Di’s forehead and cheeks. He nodded with satisfaction after the handsome face had turned into a messy drawing board and then waved him away, “Ok. Go play. Childish Di.” He had figured out that Di Qiuhe was a childish man faking to be a mature grown-up. He was obviously a lousy gamer and the way he kept playing said a lot about his childish character. He now looked nothing like what he was made out to be.
Di Qiuhe let him do what he would to his face, but then he, smelled at the paint with a frown, “Childish Di?”
“How about Junior Di?” He Bai generously replied.
Di Qiuhe suddenly grabbed the paint from him, squeezing out a handful and rubbing it onto the dimple on the left side of his face. He then pinched his face. “You are younger than me. If I’m Childish Di, what does that make you?”
“My uncle has been dead for many years.”
He Bai took away his hands. Then he quickly took some photos and snickered “I’m going to take all the ugly photos of you, then sell them to your stupid fan. Let’s see whether she would stop idolizing you and turn against you instead.”
Di Qiuhe put on a gentle smile while looking into the camera. “Stupid fan? Who? The one spent 1000 yuan for the autograph? Little puppy, I forgot to ask you. Why did you sell my autograph? Do you hate me?”
The guy in the camera was smiling, but with a sense of sadness. Unconsciously, He Bai pressed the shutter to take a picture, then put it down with a sigh. He put on his poker face again and tilted his head to looked at the door, signaling him to tag along, “Let’s go. I’m starving. Let’s go eat something.”
“… My treat.”
“I want to eat ribs. The most expensive kind.”
He Bai paused suddenly and pulled over his hands for a quick shake. Then he let them go, waving “Happy birthday. See you again!”
Di Qiuhe couldn’t help but laugh. The moment He Bai turned around, Di Qiuhe quickly caught his bag belt. Being taller than him, Di Qiuhe took away his camera with ease, and then he waved “All right. Thanks. See you again!”
After finishing those words, he turned back and went away without hesitation as quickly as he could.
“Wait…” He Bai was dumbfounded, and then he stomped his feet, shouting “You bastard! My camera!”