The Taming of the Yandere

 

V2 Chapter 15: An Uncomfortable Game

 

The bedtime story begins.

….

Under Luo Xue’s patient tutoring, my test scores steadily climbed upward and arrived at an intermediate level of the class. I was overjoyed, and Grandpa soon ceased his harsh lectures.

Besides academics, Luo Xue liked to hear me talk about stories outside of her house, especially the ones that happened in school.

Classes with fellow students, different teachers, and all kinds of school activities.

To me, school events were incredibly dull and boring. But Luo Xue loved to hear about them, so I described them to her the best I could.

Soon, a question arose in my heart.

Why could Luo Xue play in her house every day, but I had to go to the annoying school?

One day, I asked carelessly.

“Xue, why don’t you need to go to school, and could play in your house all day? I’m so envious!”

“….”

Suddenly, her pleasant emotions while talking to me came to a standstill. After a long pause, she raised her silver eyebrows, and replied with a cold expression.

“There’s nothing to envy about that.”

“What’s wrong? Playing at home every day is so wonderful.”

I became even more confused.

“You won’t understand.”

Luo Xue’s tone dropped to an even lower temperature.

Her reason for not going outside was stuffed down in a dry manner.

I thought that it might be because her body was a little weak. If she ate more food and rested properly, maybe she’ll be able to come out and play like the rest of us one day!

I calmed my heart, and kept our light conversation.

As time passed, my grades rose higher and higher. Steadily, I noticed that Luo Xue’s knowledge was starting to grow thin. Even she didn’t understand some of the newer concepts I was learning.

She would hang her head low, try to solve it the best she could, and still not arrive at a solution. At last, she puffed up her cheeks and paused.

“Lu Fan, I can’t keep up with you anymore, you’re running too fast.”

She gazed at me calmly.

“It’s alright, I’ll go ask the teacher tomorrow and come explain it later. I’ll carry you along so we can run together.”

I would tell her.

Then, I’ll ask for her help on some simple problems to make her feel better, and she’ll explain with ease.

It’s funny to think about it now, but in the past, I wouldn’t go ask the teacher no matter how lost I was. One was because I felt too embarrassed, and two, I was afraid that the teacher would look down on me if the question was too easy.

But for Luo Xue’s smile, asking the teacher help on problems was a small price.

Slowly, our tutoring duo went from her teaching me and me playing with her, to me teaching her and playing with her.

It was as if our contract had expired, and she didn’t have anything left to exchange for my company.

However, I kept our promise with an iron will.

She noticed this, too.

One day, she set down her pencil gingerly with a troubled expression.

“Lu, if you don’t want to come here, you don’t need to. I don’t have anything left to teach you, you don’t need to come stay with me….”

The light in her eyes danced. Although she was sitting squarely on her chair, it felt like a nail was poking through the fabric, preventing her from keeping still. Her shoulders shook slightly, and her fingers dug into the wood.

“Now, it’s become me teaching you academics and you playing with me, how couldn’t I be willing to come?”

I definitely didn’t allow it.

Because being with Luo Xue had become some form of habit. If I were really not to come one day, I would feel very uncomfortable.

“But there’s so many active and interesting classmates outside, you can go play with them. I can only listen to your stories on this chair, I’m not playing with you at all!”

She spoke dejectedly.

“They’re wonderful, but I don’t want to be with them. I want to be with Xue, Xue must feel very lonely at home. If I’m not here for Xue, Xue will be all by herself, right?”

Then, I’ll hold her hand.

Luo Xue’s hands were very pale and elegant. But they were always ice-cold, never warming up no matter how much I blew on them.

“Do you really not feel bored?”

Her face was suspicious.

“No, how could I.”

I clasped her translucent, bloodless hands.

My hands were always very warm. I believed that as long as I held on to hers, she would warm up also.

But not too long afterwards, our little study group came to a grinding halt. Because I had to go back to the city with my mother and attend middle school.

We would call from time to time. I would always want to know how she was doing, but she dodged my questions and asked some of her own about what I was learning in school.

“You have to study the best you can, and come teach me when you have break.”

I would always hear these kinds of reminders from her voice.

“Studying every day is really tiring, just going at it normally is enough!”

I would reply impatiently.

But Luo Xue was never happy with that response.

“Other people can just do whatever, but Lu’s studying involves both of us, you have to try your best! Or else, how can you teach me?” She would grumble.

“Mm, I’ll study with my best.”

To make Luo Xue happy, I could only agree in reluctance.

Honestly speaking.

My middle school was ranked fairly average in the city.

Academics weren’t considered a very high priority among students. If someone was working hard on their studies, their peers wouldn’t consider them a role model, but rather joked him as a nerd, an idiot.

They would much rather play and have fun. And in that process, the seeds of early love would often sprout from adolescence.

Classroom “romance” was a common sight, and the school didn’t manage the situation. As long as it didn’t interfere with the class’ functionality, teachers wouldn’t care at all. *

*TL-note: IMO, it shouldn’t be the school’s business to meddle with students’ personal life, anyways. Romance is inevitable amongst teenagers. Trying to stifle it is incredibly dumb.

Now that I think about it, the “love” back then really wasn’t anything more than a false game.

One day, I was reading a book on my desk.

“Lu Fan, do you have a girlfriend?”

At this time, a rowdy male classmate asked that question.

“How could a knucklehead like him have a girlfriend.”

A nearby student snickered.

“Haha—”

The surrounding plain, faceless girls covered their mouths as they laughed.

“Lu Fan looks so dense, he’s so boring.”

“He can’t tell jokes; he doesn’t have a shred of humor in him.”

“Besides studying, he wouldn’t have a single thought about romance, would he?”

….

“Is there anybody in our class that likes Lu Fan? Please raise your hand!”

The troublemaker from earlier suddenly stood up and shouted.

The entire class was laughing, and nobody raised their hand.

At times like this, even if some girl really did like me, they wouldn’t raise their hand in front of everyone, would they?

Idiot.

“Who says I don’t have a girlfriend?”

I couldn’t take it anymore, and stood up.

“Yo, then where is your girlfriend? Still in your mother-in-law’s stomach? Haha!” *

*I didn’t really find this joke funny in Chinese. It doesn’t sound any better in English.

Clearly, no one believed me.

I immediately called Luo Xue. She was a girl, and was my best friend. She would be my girlfriend.

“Hello, Lu?”

Luo Xue’s weak voice trailed from the speaker.

“I….”

Should I confess now? I hesitated.

The boy snatched my phone.

“Are you Lu Fan’s girlfriend? How long have you knew Lu Fan?”

He was very direct.

“….”

The other end paused for a long time.

“No, we’re just friends. We’ve known each other for two years.”

Luo Xue replied.

“Liar! Lu Fan!”

The boy seemed to have proved his point, and slammed the phone onto my desk.

“Liar, liar, Lu Fan is a big liar!”

The nearby classmates jeered.

I didn’t pay attention to them at all, and took my phone outside.

“Lu Fan, what happened?”

Luo Xue’s voice was very anxious.

“It’s nothing, my phone was stolen by my classmate, he’s just messing with you!”

“Lu Fan, I….”

Luo Xue seemed to want to say something else, but I wasn’t in the mood to talk any longer.

What a joke, it’s just a game.

We’re clearly just friends, why would my heart be this uncomfortable after getting rejected.

….

“Class is starting soon; I’ll hang up now.”