Little Love Song – Chapter 17
Ning Er had been really touched by it.
In Ning Er’s mind, there were only two types of people in the world.
And that was Shao Baihan and those who were not Shao Baihan.
From a very young age, Ning Er had always fallen prey to Shao Baihan’s tricks and games. Shao Baihan had matured quickly as a young boy, and while at the same age, Ning Er had been easily pleased with playing in the mud, Shao Baihan had already begun dominating the gaming world.
When Ning Er was younger, his parents felt that playing games were a bad influence. Back then, Esports was not that popular and playing games could not earn you any money. Arcades were still called video game parlors, and many youths would happily muck about inside its smoke-filled rooms.
And Ning Er had been brought to a video game parlor by Shao Baihan and ‘corrupted’.
When he was younger, Shao Baihan liked to play Street Fighter, while Ning Er preferred playing more casual games. Ning Er only had one friend – Shao Baihan, and that held true for Shao Baihan too, so in the end, Shao Baihan also ended up accompanying Ning Er as they spent hours playing Taiko no Tatsujin and challenging the dance pad.
Poor Ning Er would often lose terribly.
After so many years had passed, his parents’ view on gaming had long since changed and now Ning Er would occasionally visit the arcade and play some games.
Ning Er silently followed Shao Baihan into the Golden Eagle Mall’s third-floor arcade. He patiently waited behind Shao Baihan and watched as the other went to pay for their game tokens. He sneakily waved his hand at the young lady behind the cashier counter, stopping her from greeting him as he shushed her.
The young lady was quite confused as to what was happening, Ning Er’s face was cool and calm, but on the inside, he was shaking with excitement.
Shao Baihan tilted his head toward him, “I remember you liked playing Taiko no Tatsujin when we were younger, do you want to play a round?”
Ning Er nodded docilely, the picture of meekness as he replied, “Okay.”
Poor Shao Baihan had no idea that Ning Er was just a few seconds away from bursting into laughter.
The highest score for every single song on this arcade’s Taiko no Tatsujin…
Shao Baihan picked up the two drum sticks, briefly tried to wave them about, then took another look at the rules as he tried to recall how to play this game.
Ning Er stood on the part of the machine by his side, and Shao Baihan began to pick a song.
“It’s been such a long time since we last played, why don’t we pick an easier one? Xiao Er, which song do you want?”
Ning Er shook his head, “You decide.”
Shao Baihan randomly picked one of the songs with a Normal level of difficulty, and soon the sound of music began to play. As the first beat reached, both of them beat down on the drum together; then it was the second beat and the third beat…
All the way up to the middle of the track, Shao Baihan had yet to miss a single beat. His gaze was focused on the screen, carefully paying attention to the music’s climbing rhythm. Suddenly, a chain of beats so close-together-that-his-eyes-almost-failed-to-separate-them appeared, Shao Baihan’s hand wavered, and he ended up missing out on a large part of the beats. However, at that very moment, from beside him came the melodious sound of fast but steady drumming.
Shao Baihan instinctively turned to take a look.
Ning Er was wearing a blue denim outfit, his fingers were wrapped around the bachi (drum sticks) and he casually drummed his way through the beats. The corners of his mouth could not hide the excitement he felt, and his gaze beautifully reflected the light from the screen.
Shao Baihan’s heart trembled as he looked hard at him.
Naturally, Ning Er was the one who won this round.
To be fair, Shao Baihan had not lost too badly, after so many years his drumming was still quite passable. He seemed not to notice how badly Ning Er had defeated him, and said, “I think I’ve gotten the gist of it, Xiao Er, why don’t we try a harder one?”
Ning Er looked at the word flashing on the screen, “WIN”, and was quick to agree, “Sure!”
The songs Shao Baihan picked were each harder than the one before. Initially, he had been able to keep up by the skin of his teeth, but later on, he could not even differentiate the beats, and he silently stopped his drumming. Instead, he turned his head to watch the one beside him, Ning Er.
Even with songs of the Oni difficulty level, in the hands of this youth, they just seemed like another average song. His hands held the thin and long bachi, his gaze was intently focused on the screen, and with the corners of his mouth upturned, he successfully drummed every beat. It was almost as if every single note was dancing in the palm of his hand.
And those eyes, were inexplicably bright as they brimmed with excitement.
He seemed so carefree, and so happy; without the confines of his schoolwork, as he happily did what he wanted to do.
Watching Ning Er like this, Shao Baihan could not bear to turn away. From when they were young, Ning Er was rarely this open and expressive about his feelings, but every time he witnessed it, he felt a sense of admiration for the beauty of it. And this was why he would drag the ‘goody-two-shoes’ Ning Er to video game parlors to play; back then, he did not understand why he did that, but now he knew, it was because he liked to look at Ning Er like this.
Shao Baihan did not even manage to win a single round, Ning Er was like a snowstorm, wiping away all traces of his former shame as he brutally defeated Shao Baihan. (at Taiko no Tatsujin)
Apart from Taiko no Tatsujin, Ning Er was not that indomitable at other games, but he was no easy opponent either. He managed to hold his own against Shao Baihan in a few Street Fighter matches and was not as easy to defeat like before.
They happily lost themselves in gaming for an hour, and finally found themselves in a corner of the arcade, playing a fishing game.
The arcade was not as popular as it had once been, and few people came to play here, so it did seem quite deserted. Next to where Ning Er and Shao Baihan were standing was a dead corner. The wall had a sudden gap in it, so it formed a U-shape of empty space. It was very quiet here, and few people would walk over here.
Ning Er had just won a huge pile of tickets, and he said, “Let’s play one more round, then we can go over to the service counter and exchange these tickets into points.”
Shao Baihan replied, “I don’t have a membership here though.”
“But I do ah~”
Shao Baihan just reeled in a tuna fish, and he smiling arched an eyebrow at Ning Er, “Xiao Er, so you do come to this arcade often huh…”
Poor Ning Er who had just exposed himself was stunned.
Ning Er lowered his head without replying, trying to pretend as though nothing had just happened.
Alas, Shao Baihan was not about to let this go, and from right in front of him, he stole one of Ning Er’s fishes.
Ning Er could not hold it in any longer and he burst out, “Why did you have to steal my fish?! You have so many fish on your side!”
Shao Baihan’s reply was deadpan, “I like your things.”
Ning Er was ready to explode when he heard this.
The duo then began a frantic mess of stealing each other’s fish, and the poor fishing boat was rocked left and right by them. Seeing as Ning Er was an old-hand at this, it was no surprise that he ended up being able to steal more fish, and Shao Baihan’s total points soon fell behind. Just as Ning Er was about to steal a Bluefin Tuna fish, out of nowhere, a loud voice came out from behind them.
“Xiao Meng, do you want to try the dance pad? The Taiko no Tatsujin at this arcade is quite fun too, a lot of girls like playing it.”
Ning Er’s eyes widened in shock, and before he could react, his wrist was in someone’s hand, and an arm was around his waist. As quick as lightning, he was pulled to the side, and with a soft “thump”, he was pressed up against the inner wall of the U-shaped corner.
He lifted his head, and accidentally brushed his lips against Shao Baihan’s chin.
Both of them seemed to freeze at this unexpected physical contact.
The surprise was evident in Jiang Chen’s voice when he exclaimed, “Woah, why is this game still on here? And how come there are so many tickets?”
Liu Xiaomeng asked, “Are you supposed to catch a fish in this game? What’s the use of the tickets though?”
Jiang Chen hastily began to explain to his female goddess, “The tickets you collect, can be used to exchange for points. Did you notice the glass cabinet behind the service counter? All those little presents inside, you can exchange your points for them. Let me tell you a secret Xiao Meng, Ning Er’s membership card has a total of about 20,000 points! He’s really good at playing games, especially that Taiko no Tatsujin, do you know, the highest scores for all the songs in this arcade are his results!”
Ning Er and Shao Baihan hid inside the U-shaped hole, silently listening to everything that Jiang Chen was saying.
By now, Ning Er’s ears had begun to redden, it almost felt like he had been caught red-handed. Shao Baihan had him pressed up against the wall, and he silently turned his head to the side, not daring to meet Shao Baihan’s gaze.
Alas, it seemed like Jiang Chen and Liu Xiaomeng weren’t going to leave yet.
Jiang Chen sat down, and step-by-step, patiently taught Liu Xiaomeng how to catch the fish.
Listening to their giggles and cheerful chatter, Ning Er’s nervousness increased, along with his heart rate. He wanted to break free from Shao Baihan’s embrace, but Shao Baihan lowered his head, and his dark somber eyes bore into him, before he whispered, “Xiao Er… Don’t move… It’s too narrow here if you move… Then they might notice us.” His voice seemed gravelly, and his expression a little odd.
This U-shaped space in the wall was quite cramped, Shao Baihan was practically pressed up flat against Ning Er to avoid being noticed by Jiang Chen and Liu Xiaomeng.
The main thing was to avoid being found by Liu Xiaomeng.
Ning Er held his tongue as he looked down again, his chest was plastered against Shao Baihan’s chest, and slowly, Shao Baihan’s left hand, that had originally been holding his wrist, fell down by their side, and lay resting on Ning Er’s hips.
In such a narrow space, they could audibly hear each other, every single breath they took was crystal clear.
Listening closely, he noticed Shao Baihan’s heart had begun to beat faster and faster, and Ning Er could not help but tilt his head upward, stretching out both his hands to hold him as he softly whispered, “Be careful, don’t… Don’t fall out.”
Shao Baihan’s fingers imperceptibly tightened, as he stared at the naive youth in front of him. He gritted his teeth trying to control that fiery urge of lust that had rushed down his body, and he lightly nodded his head, “Mmm…”
The two of them had to practically hug each other in a death-grip in order to avoid being noticed by Jiang Chen and Liu Xiaomeng.
One after another, Liu Xiaomeng played many rounds of the fishing game.
As he stubbornly clung onto Shao Baihan’s waist, Ning Er was so nervous that he almost forgot how to breathe. Suddenly, Shao Baihan’s chin found its way onto his shoulder, and Ning Er froze in place.
A deep voice sounded in his ear, “… I’m tired… Xiao Er… Let me lean on you for a while, okay?”
Ning Er could only nod in reply.
Shao Baihan’s fingers trembled as he buried his face in Ning Er’s neck, taking large gulps of air as he did so. As if in a frenzy, he kept sniffing Ning Er there, almost as if he were trying to breathe him in. And for Ning Er, this meant waves of hot breath blowing over his neck, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. All of it was enough to cause him serious embarrassment as his face turned completely red.
“Xiao Meng, do you want to go and play Taiko no Tatsujin? I’m not as good as Ning Er, but I can still play quite well.”
Now only did the sound of Jiang Chen and Liu Xiaomeng retreating fill the air.
Yet, Shao Baihan kept his face buried in the crook of Ning Er’s neck, still tightly holding onto him. Ning Er had long since grown quite boneless in his embrace, and could not muster up the nerve to push him away. Finally, he used all his energy and cried out, “Shao Baihan…”
At that moment, Shao Baihan lifted up his head, while Ning Er lowered his; and once again, a pair of warm lips brushed over Shao Baihan’s chin.
The two of them froze in shock.
Jiang Chen and Liu Xiaomeng had walked far away by now, but Ning Er and Shao Baihan still had not come out, and remained hidden together in that corner,
This odd, ambiguous atmosphere seemed to linger, as their surroundings were filled with a weird undercurrent of feelings. Shao Baihan seemed to be breathing a little too heavily, and Ning Er was so nervous that he had no idea what to do with his body.
After who knows how long, Shao Baihan’s husky voice said, “Xiao Er..”
Ning Er ignored him, instead, he lowered his head again, and with an aggrieved tone, he said, “Your return to Haicheng this time… Why didn’t you say anything?”
From the day Shao Baihan had left, he had wanted to ask him this.
Shao Baihan had left here 8 years ago, but that was because his parents had forced him to go. Ning Er did no blame Shao Baihan for this, all he felt was disappointment in himself.
Yet this time, once again, Shao Baihan had left without so much as a note. Even when they had met, he focused on chasing after Liu Xiao Meng and completely avoided the topic of his leaving without any letter.
Ning Er had kept this inside until now, and after such a long wait, he tentatively asked him this.
Once she sad this, Shao Baihan felt a tad down.
That ‘ambiguous’ atmosphere seemed to disappear instantly, and Shao Baihan slowly let go of Ning Er’s hands. Ning Er looked up at him dazedly, but all he heard was another “thump” sound as Shao Baihan placed his palm flat against the wall.
Shao Baihan’s expression seemed quite scary, but it was only a few seconds, and he soon regained his wits. He semi-earnestly stared at Xiao Er, careful enunciating his reply. Each word painstakingly read, “Xiao Er, Haicheng isn’t my home, I didn’t go back~ I only go there if I have something to do. My home is here… Do you understand me?”
Ning Er nodded mutely.
Shao Baihan slowly began to laugh, he tried to mask the lust in his eyes as his deep voice rang out, “In the future, if I ever go to Haicheng, then I’ll make sure to tell you. Initially, I didn’t plan on letting you find out, but who would have guessed that you got to know about it? Did you come to my house to look for me? Let me guess… You wouldn’t have come to my house to lend your homework for me to copy, right?”
Ning Er was frustrated that he seemed so easy to read, and he shoved Shao Baihan, “You wish!”
~End of Chapter~