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Fervent Whispers, a Moonlit Shoulder & Indifference

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Su Xue stared at Lin Feng. He was staring back at her with pleading eyes. The kind of puppy dog eyes that were hard to ignore. But Su Xue was used to them by now. She vehemently shook her head and said, “Hey! Hey! Hey! Listen up, ya little shit. You’re going to become an ugly fatass if you keep eating this much! No more late night snacks for you!” Then she ruffled his hair and smiled. “You’re good at League, no one can deny that. And apparently a lot of girls like what they’re seeing… Your only real problem is that mouth of yours. Life ain’t so easy when you’re chunky, you hear me? People will make fun of you. Lemme tell you, fat-shaming is very real. That’s not what you want.”

An Xin stood off to the side, sizing Lin Feng up, rubbing her knuckles with her palm. She smirked and said, “What do you think, Xue Xue? Should we knock some sense into him? That’s the only thing he’ll respond to.”

“You two are worrying over nothing. I’ll never get fat!” Lin Feng replied, confident. “My metabolism is really good too! I can eat whatever I want and never get fat! So let’s get some takeo—”

Two fists hit Lin Feng squarely in the face, shutting him up. Su Xue looked at him and shouted, “You’re an asshole! And a pig! That’s what you get for bragging about being able to eat whatever you want without worrying about your weight in front of two girls!” She barely finished talking when An Xin yelled, “How dare you! Apologize right now to all the girls out there counting calories! RIGHT NOW!”

Lin Feng rubbed his mouth in pain. There was the sweet taste of iron in his mouth and his lip felt warm and swollen. They had actually punched him in the face! His eyes started watering, so he quickly turned away from them while saying, “I’ll go get some extra blankets and make the bed ready for An Xin.” It was already well past 1 A.M. and the Shanghai 16 School Tournament Finals were the next day. This was the perfect excuse to get away from Su Xue and An Xin before he got whacked again. And he needed a bit of alone time to nurse his injuries and salvage whatever dignity he had left.

Su Xue let him walk away. She’d said what she wanted to say and punched Lin Feng in the face. The last part especially felt good. She smiled and shouted after Lin Feng, “I’m going to keep streaming for a while, so let BunBun sleep in your room. You sleep on the couch in the living room!”

Lin Feng paused and turned back to look at Su Xue, indignant. He argued, “Why can’t BunBun sleep on the couch? She’s practically family! You don’t need to give her special treatment.”

Su Xue raised her eyebrows, staring at Lin Feng, then said, “You’re going to make a girl sleep on the couch? Keep up that attitude and you’ll be single for the rest of your life.”

Lin Feng walked into his room with clean sheets and started undoing his bed. Such a hassle. Why can’t BunBun just sleep on the couch… He was grumbling and gloomy the whole way through. An Xin sat at his desk, watching him, grinning. “Poor you,” she said. “Su Xue really is too kind. You know, making you sleep on the couch and giving me the bed and all. I’m soooo touched.”

Lin Feng stopped what he was doing and turned to look at An Xin. He stared at her for a moment before suggesting, “Then how about you sleep on the couch and I’ll take the bed?”

An Xin’s mouth fell open. Then she quickly covered it with her hand. “Reaaally? Are you going to make a guest sleep on the couch? You monster! How could you even suggest that!” Then she did her best impression of Lin Feng’s puppy dog eyes from before and added, “You wouldn’t do that to me, would you?”

“Oh please, cut the act,” Lin Feng said. “Everyone else might fall for it but you can’t fool me! I know you!” He’d known her for practically forever. She’d been around for his entire life, as long as he could remember. Her impression of his puppy-dog eyes were really his impression of her puppy-dog eyes from when they were young. They were the bane of his existence. An Xin would win every single argument when she used them. It didn’t matter who she was talking to, or what she was arguing about. She always got what she wanted. The first few times Lin Feng thought it was a combination of luck and solid arguments. But when it kept happening, he knew something was up. He was a little slow at times, but he wasn’t stupid. He figured out her trick and was then forced to watch her use it to great success repeatedly.

“Awww, was I that obvious?” An Xin laughed. The second that Lin Feng finished making the bed, she immediately jumped into it. Then she grabbed the sheets and pulled them up over her legs. Then she looked up at Lin Feng and smiled. A smile full of promise and desire and temptation, one that would ordinarily send the heart of any man racing. Then she patted the empty space next to her on the bed and winked at Lin Feng. “How about you sleep with me tonight? Big spoon, small spoon. You get it.” She was wearing one of Su Xue’s pyjamas. It fit her well enough, though it was a little too loose for her slender frame. She moved her hand towards her chest and traced her finger around the neck of the shirt, then pulled it down over her shoulder and only stopped when it reached her elbow. The shirt now barely covered her chest, showing most of her cleavage. “You know…” she whispered. A whisper that ended in a light moan. 

“Nope! Don’t wanna!” Lin Feng immediately refused. “You’re the worst sleeper ever. You always kick me out of bed! Only an idiot would want to sleep with you!”

An Xin started, her eyes wide in shock. Then her face turned a deep shade of red as she shouted, “Liar! You big idiot! I never did that!”

Lin Feng shook his head and argued, “I’m not lying. Remember back in first grade? When I slept over at your place? I never got any sleep that night! You kicked me off the bed at least a dozen times!”

An Xin glared at Lin Feng, then grabbed the pillow behind her. She threw it at his head and yelled, “Idiot! Stop it!”

Lin Feng caught the pillow and smugly smiled at An Xin. “I’m pretty good at blocking skillshots too!”

An Xin had already grabbed a second pillow and threw it at Lin Feng again. This time, it hit the bull’s eye. Lin Feng didn’t see it coming until the soft fabric hit him in his face.. An Xin giggled and said, “Too-bad-so-sad. My skillshots don’t have a cooldown!”

3 A.M. according to the large clock in the living room. Lin Feng had been trying to fall asleep for a good two hours, but he was still tossing and turning on the couch. Sleep just wouldn’t come to him. He’d heard Su Xue go to bed some 30 minutes ago and now there was only silence. Nothing to disturb him, nothing stopping him from falling asleep… but he was wide awake. “This pillow sucks. I need to get my good one,” he muttered. Then he kicked his sheets away and got up. “Time to steal back my pillow!” He grabbed the ‘bad’ pillow and started walking towards his room, mumbling to himself, “Let’s call this Operation: Pillow Swap!”

Lin Feng walked through the hallway and arrived in front of his room. He stuck his ear against the door, careful not to make a sound. After confirming there were no sounds coming from the other side, he gently pushed the door open. Then he poked his head through the gap and looked inside. Huh? What? He stared at an empty bed. Where is she…? He looked around his room and found An Xin sitting against the windowsill. His eyes went wide. The cold night breeze blew into the room, causing the curtains to flutter along with her long, black hair. She was staring out the window at the night sky, the light of the moon illuminating her face.

Lin Feng stared at An Xin for a good minute before he realized that he was actually staring at her. He shook his head a little and then withdrew it, careful not to make a sound. I don’t think she heard me… Probably too distracted or something… Yeah! That’s why! Now, I just need to carefully close the doo—

“I’m neither blind nor deaf. I heard you walk down the hallway and I can even see your reflection in the window,” An Xin said as she turned around to look at Lin Feng, who was caught trying to close the door.

“AH!” Lin Feng yelped. He grabbed his chest, his eyes wide open. Then he pushed open the door again and walked in, asking, “Why did you have to scare me like that? And why didn’t you say something earlier? Do you know how much effort I put into Operation: Pillow Swap?”

An Xin giggled and said, “Oh, I was curious to see what you were planning to do.” She winked at him and added, “It isn’t every night that you find out that one of your oldest friends is trying to sneak into your bedroom in the middle of the night. I knew you were a pervert, but this…” She traced her finger around her shirt’s neck and started pulling it down again. Then she flicked her hair, smiling the most mesmerizing smile, and said, “Did you come here to apologize for being an idiot before? And that you really do want to sleep with me?”

2
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Missed Opportunities

Shanks Thought: Today’s thought is going to be about missed opportunities. Lin Feng blew the first opportunity in this chapter, but now An Xin is giving him a second one. Most guys aren’t that lucky. I remember this one time early on in middle school when I casually asked a girl I liked to the school dance. To my surprise, she actually agreed. So, you might be wondering, “Okay, so how could Shanks possibly fuck this up?” 

Well… yes, I liked this girl. But I was also a dumb kid who knew nothing about asking girls out. I knew you were supposed to ask the girl out to the dance. I had no idea what you were supposed to do after that. So the day of the dance arrives. It’s this whole event at the school, with other fun activities and things to do. I haven’t spoken to this girl once since I asked her to the dance. And I did what I would normally in this type of situation. I went to have fun. By myself. Without the girl. 

The time of the actual dance rolls around. I was too busy having fun in the swimming pool and lost track of time. So, I ended up 15 minutes late to the dance. Then when I finally find her, she’s visibly upset and doesn’t want to dance with me. Yeah… I really blew that opportunity right there.

Dev Thought: Missed opportunities, eh? I’ve got a story for that, I suppose. Very similar to Lin Feng’s level of obliviousness here in the chapter. This was back when I was but a fresh-faced Devshard just out of high school and in University. It was a friend’s birthday, so we went out to dinner. Big group of us. We ate dinner, there was a girl there who was sitting next to me. We talked, we laughed, it was fun. Once dinner ended, the plan was to go to a club. I was apprehensive about this, because I did not know how to dance. I still don’t know how to dance. But I didn’t know how to properly flake out on plans back then, so I was dragged to the club by the force of peer pressure. 

At the club, I stood around. I also did attempt to awkwardly sway to the music. At one point, I remember the scene from the movie Hitch where Will Smith tries to teach Albert Brennaman how to dance. So I stepped side-to-side casually with the beat. This is still my one-and-only dance move. Anyways, the girl from dinner comes over and she starts dancing. I’m still doing my step side-to-side and awkward sway. Then she… well, I guess the best way to put this is that she decided it was time to get crunk. She did indeed get down low, and she might have attempted to touch her toes. I don’t know, it was dark. And that was too much for my awkward and repressed sensibilities. So I went “OKAAYYYY” like Li’l John and noped out of there. Just to be clear, this was a ‘Peace Up, Devshard Out’ situation. I went over to the couches and proceeded to stand around there. The girl joined me once again, and we talked some more. Eventually, I decided to open up about my lack of rhythms and how I wanted to go home because I didn’t know what to do at a club when one does not dance. She gave me some stuff about how I needed to open up and feel the music, just move however I feel like moving. But I’ve been on the internet since I was 11. I don’t move. I talk shit. Which is hard to do at the club with the loud music. 

Eventually, she decided there was no way she could coax me back to the dance floor. And I decided I needed to step outside for some air and quiet. She came with me, and then she decided to try an entirely different strategy. She was like, “Hey! I’m really bored here too. Let’s go home!” 

That was all I needed. I was ready to leave twenty minutes after we all got to the club. So I started calling a taxi (this was back in the olden days when Uber didn’t exist. You had to actually make a phone call to get a taxi.), and then I asked her where she lived. She told me. I then told the taxi service that there would be two stops. Because I’m a gentleman, I intended to escort this fair maiden to her house and drop her off. Then I hung up and she asked me why there were two stops. I told her I had to get home too, and then went back inside to get my coat from the coat check. 

We get in the taxi and we’re talking the whole way to her dorm. Just as the taxi pulls up, she tells me that I should come up because she has red wine and we could keep talking some more. Taxi stops. I look at her and go, “No thanks. It’s super late and I’m tired. Besides, I don’t really drink and red wine tastes like robitussin to me.” She just looks at me, shakes her head, and gets out of the cab. I watched her walk into her dorm, and then the taxi started taking me back to my dorm. I still haven’t figured out how I misread that situation yet. 

Taxi pulls up at my dorm and the Cab Driver goes, “Buddy. You know she wasn’t inviting you up to drink red wine, right? You got a girlfriend or something?” 

I told the Cab Driver that I didn’t have a girlfriend, and that I didn’t realize that she wasn’t insisting on drinking the red wine. Then I got out of the cab and thought about why he felt the need to mention that until I fell asleep. Then the next day. 

I am sad to say that I did not figure out what was happening that night until a year later.

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