Chapter 14: Sakura leaves
As Christmas approached, the streets became lively. Arlene had already placed a Christmas tree at the front of the shop, and customers who came to enjoy desserts could receive a small plush toy as a gift.
It was a weekend, and Tan Xilu had also come to the shop in the morning. He was sitting at the bar counter, holding a small reindeer plush toy. Weekends tended to be busier, and the cake that Arlene had improved and turned into a Christmas special was selling quite well.
Xu Huaiming was preparing a hot milk tea for Tan Xilu. Tan Xilu had a sweet tooth, especially for the new cakes that Xu Huaiming had been making recently. Despite their high sugar content, Tan Xilu couldn’t resist them. He had already indulged in them several times, and today he came for more. However, Xu Huaiming refused, saying, “You can’t have more. Eating too much will make you gain weight.”
“Weight gain” was a forbidden term for Tan Xilu. In reality, he was quite thin. Even when Xu Huaiming had first returned and cuddled with him at night, he felt like he was holding onto bones. However, after being nourished by Xu Huaiming over these days, Tan Xilu had indeed gained some weight. But nutrition needed to be balanced, and excessive consumption of sweets could lead to various health issues. So Xu Huaiming controlled Tan Xilu’s dessert intake.
Therefore, to satisfy Tan Xilu’s cravings, Xu Huaiming made him a milk tea with a lower sugar content.
The milk tea still had plenty of pearls in it, served in a bowl. Tan Xilu was eating while looking at messages on his phone.
Although it was a weekend, Tan Xilu wasn’t truly taking a break. The incident with Qin Sizhe had caused some negative effects on the school. He had been caught with someone else in the office, and it happened to be witnessed by a student who had conflicts with him. This student didn’t immediately report to the teacher; instead, he took pictures of them kissing and posted them on the school forum before reporting it to the teacher.
By the time the teacher arrived, the entire school had heard about the incident. Although Tan Xilu wasn’t Qin Sizhe’s academic advisor, he was his mentor, and since Qin Sizhe’s academic advisor was away on a business trip on the day of the incident, the responsibility fell on Tan Xilu.
As Qin Sizhe was still in the hospital, the school had no choice but to mediate the situation with Tan Xilu and Qin Sizhe’s parents. In the end, they received a disciplinary warning, which would be posted on the bulletin board next week.
Qin Sizhe’s grades were already borderline, and he had a basketball tournament scheduled for next month. Winning the tournament would earn him extra credits, but now he was not only facing a disciplinary warning but also a broken leg, rendering him ineligible for the competition. As a result, he was likely to fail the finals. However, if the other person involved in the incident would come forward and speak up, Qin Sizhe might receive a lighter punishment, even if it was just a warning.
What puzzled Tan Xilu was the other key figure in this incident. From start to finish, he had no idea who the person Qin Sizhe had kissed in the office was. He wasn’t even sure if this person was a student at their school.
The student who took the photos was unclear, saying, “I don’t know who it is. I didn’t see their faces. The person had their back to me, but I can tell it was a guy with short hair and a slim waist. They had a pretty nice butt.”
Tan Xilu had asked Qin Sizhe, but Qin Sizhe had avoided answering, seemingly intent on protecting the person involved.
With the other person not coming forward and Qin Sizhe refusing to reveal their identity, the situation became difficult to handle. Qin Sizhe was likely to fail the semester.
However, Qin Sizhe seemed to have given up, saying, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll just go back and inherit the family business.”
Tan Xilu was taken aback by his words.
Tan Xilu wasn’t one to meddle in other people’s business, especially when the person involved didn’t care about it. However, Professor Qin had asked him to help.
Professor Qin was Tan Xilu’s advisor from undergraduate to graduate school. Their relationship was more like friends than teacher and student. Now they were colleagues, and Professor Qin had heard about the incident when he was on a business trip with Qin Sizhe’s academic advisor on the day it happened.
Professor Qin wasn’t biased towards Qin Sizhe; he just wanted to know who the person Qin Sizhe was protecting was. The incident had become quite a scandal, and if the two could be together, Professor Qin at least wanted to see what his supposed future niece-in-law looked like.
The coincidence was that the surveillance cameras in the office building were under maintenance that day, and there was no footage available. With no leads to follow, Professor Qin had given Tan Xilu a challenging task.
Tan Xilu could only start by approaching the students who were close to Qin Sizhe.
“Ding dong!” The doorbell rang, and a girl entered the shop. She looked around and, upon spotting Tan Xilu sitting at the bar, waved with a smile. “Teacher Tan.”
Tan Xilu looked surprised to see her. He hadn’t expected Li Xuandie to arrive so quickly.
Li Xuandie had a good relationship with Qin Sizhe, and Tan Xilu had attended several gatherings organized by their student group. These two seemed to be childhood friends, more like close buddies. Unfortunately, Qin Sizhe was gay; otherwise, their relationship might have turned romantic.
Li Xuandie walked over to the seat opposite Tan Xilu and casually took a seat. She asked, “Teacher Tan, do you need something from me?”
“Yes, there’s something.” Tan Xilu smiled and poked Xu Huaiming, saying, “Do we have any cake left? Give some to my student.”
Xu Huaiming looked at the girl opposite him, nodded silently, and plated a piece of blueberry cake he had just cut. He placed it in front of Li Xuandie.
“Wow.” Li Xuandie looked at the cake and said, “It looks really good.”
She had a gossipy expression on her face and whispered to Tan Xilu, “Teacher Tan, is this your boyfriend?”
Tan Xilu blushed but didn’t deny it.
“I’ve heard Qin Sizhe say that Teacher Tan’s boyfriend often shows affection in front of him. I’ve never had the chance to see him until today. He’s really handsome.” Li Xuandie had a starry-eyed expression. “He can also make desserts, which is amazing.”
Tan Xilu knew Xu Huaiming was good-looking, but hearing Li Xuandie praise him like this made him feel quite pleased. After all, it was a source of pride to have such a handsome man as his partner. However, today was not about compliments; he had business to discuss.
Tan Xilu stirred the pearls in his bowl and asked Li Xuandie, “Has Qin Sizhe been getting closer to anyone recently?”
“Teacher Tan is asking me about this?” Li Xuandie shrugged, nonchalantly picking at her cake with a fork. “You want to know about the incident with Qin Sizhe, right?”
Tan Xilu let out an “Ah” in acknowledgment. Since she already knew, he decided to get straight to the point. “Who was Qin Sizhe with in the office that day?”
Li Xuandie smiled but her expression had changed. Her tone wasn’t as friendly as before. “Teacher, how could I possibly know about something like that? You should ask the people involved.”
Tan Xilu was taken aback. He thought, “If the people involved were willing to speak up, would we need to ask you?”
“This is because Qin Sizhe didn’t tell me. You have a good relationship with him, and I thought you might have some information. If Qin Sizhe fails the semester because of this, Professor Qin will be furious. What if he gives you assignments as payback? Then you’ll be the ones at a disadvantage.” Tan Xilu pursed his lips. He wasn’t a strict teacher. Outside the classroom, he was more like a friendly senior, so even when he was trying to persuade someone, it sounded more like coaxing.
“Teacher Tan, you don’t need to worry about this.” Li Xuandie looked up at Tan Xilu and said, “Qin Sizhe has indeed been acting strange recently. I really don’t know about the office incident. I know he has a crush on someone, but I’m not sure who it is. It’s definitely not the person from the office. I think instead of dwelling on this, you should try to understand Qin Sizhe’s feelings. It’s better not to push him into trouble.”
Tan Xilu furrowed his brow, catching onto her words. “Qin Sizhe has been acting strange recently?”
The girl took a bite of the soft cake, savoring the endless blueberry sweetness. She nodded and said, “It seems like the person he likes has gotten into a relationship with someone else. He hasn’t been attending our gatherings lately, and he even stopped going to the basketball court.”
“In a relationship with someone else!” Tan Xilu’s eyes flashed with surprise, but when he thought about Chi Ye Xing’s appearance that day, he shouldn’t have been surprised. With a face like that, countless people would be attracted to him, and even Qin Sizhe, who used to be a typical basketball player, had fallen for him.
“Oh, and…” Li Xuandie put her fork down, licked her bright pink lips, and smiled with a touch of coldness. “Teacher, the student who took the photos definitely has issues too. I don’t understand why the school chose to protect him. He was the one who blew the incident up on the forum, leading to all the subsequent problems. He seems very determined to ruin Qin Sizhe. It’s quite difficult to fathom. Now he’s taken Qin Sizhe’s place in the team, and I’d like to ask, why?”
Tan Xilu opened his mouth but couldn’t utter a word for a while.
Why would the school protect that student?
It wasn’t protection; it was because the photos he took were evidence.
Because in this world, not everything is fair.
To bury the incident, the school needed to identify the main culprit.
T/N: Hey there! There is plenty more where that came from, so stay tuned! And stay healthy! Straighten your posture, so some stretches and drink some water before continuing hehe~
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