With a cigarette in his mouth, and earbuds in, Kou Chen squatted in the hallways on the third floor of the haunted building.
He wanted to wait on the first floor, or even the second, but he didn’t want He Hua to realize someone else was here and run.
So he chose the third floor.
It was pretty good, he had wider view, and it made him look cooler. ‘One day if I could, I’d like to rise atop the summit of all peaks, Where I could gather a sight of all ghosts there lay’.
It’s just that it’s too fucking windy.
Thinking about the cool mental image of himself flipping over the railing with one hand and landing solidly onto the concrete of the first floor, he put out the cigarette he just took two puffs of.
The cigarette was from last semester, and after just laying there for two months, it has long lost its soul.
Now with the wind blowing in his face, he couldn’t taste anything.
He doesn’t normally smoke, usually just to suit the mood and make him look cool.
It was so boring.
Everyone else went to eat, and he’s sitting here like an idiot waiting for a girl that he doesn’t even know.
He’d wanted to bring Huo Ran along, since it would be funny to see him all startled in this ghosts’ nest.
But if Huo Ran came, Jiang Lei would also want to come, and then he’d call Xu Zhifan.
Seeing the four of them here playing Mahjong, He Hua would literally just float away.
His phone vibrated.
He took it out and saw that someone sent him a friend request.
That was a bit surprising.
After he accepted the request, he looked at Huo Ran’s profile picture.
It was a hand stretched out to the sun, the rays of light shining through his fingers.
It was pretty artsy.
If it weren’t for the… mosquito repellent bracelet, he would’ve thought Huo Ran just took a random picture from the internet.
He’d never paid attention before, but Huo Ran’s fingers were pretty long, looking slender and strong.
Just looking at his hand, he didn’t seem like someone that would just get knocked over.
-are you still in the haunted building?
Huo Ran sent a message.
-did you see he hua yet?
-nope, idk if she’s gonna come tonight
-okay, lmk if something happens
Kou Chen felt that Huo Ran had a pretty good sense of loyalty.
Because they caused trouble with the third years together, he could ignore his unwillingness and ask for his reason.
Kou Chen took a picture of below him.
His phone took decent quality photos in the dark.
-doubt anything’s gonna happen, I’m keeping watch, wanna see the haunted building at night?
Huo Ran didn’t reply.
-this one’s not bad, I think I captured the realness of it
This message is successfully sent but rejected by the receiver.
“Fuck?” He was surprised, Huo Ran blocked him.
-Huo Ran you fucker unblock me
This message is successfully sent but rejected by the receiver.
He gets scared way too easily…
His phone started vibrating right after.
It was an unfamiliar number, but he could guess that it was probably Huo Ran.
He picked up the phone happily.
Before he could say ‘hello’, Huo Ran yelled through the phone: “Fuck you, idiot!”
Huo Ran hung up before he could say anything.
“Hey!” Kou Chen looked at his phone.
Right as he was about to call him back, Huo Ran called again himself.
He didn’t give him a chance to speak this time either, immediately starting to yell: “You can fucking go camping by yourself!”
“No, no, no! Huo Ran! Huo Ran!” He yelled quietly before Huo Ran could hang up, “Uncle! Daddy! Don’t hang up!”
Huo Ran didn’t hang up, but he didn’t say anything.
“I didn’t even send it yet! I was just letting you know first.” Kou Chen said.
“If you sent it without saying anything I would’ve beaten you to death by now!” Huo Ran said.
“I didn’t even send anything!” Kou Chen said, “Don’t block me, I’m warning you, add me back or I’ll smash down your dorm door when I get back.”
“…I’m hanging up.” Huo Ran said.
“Just like that?” Kou Chen said, “Where are you going?”
“Going to reinforce the door.” Huo Ran said.
Kou Chen laughed.
As he was about to move around a bit, he saw a gray figure.
If it weren’t for the fact that the moon was pretty bright tonight, he wouldn’t have seen it.
“She’s here, I see her.” Kou Chen said.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection.
If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded, and then he hung up.
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When he walked over, He Hua was already gone, but Kou Chen could see her hiding in the shadows in a corner.
“It’s only me.” Kou Chen said as he took out his lighter, setting the grass on fire.
“Where are the sausages?”
He Hua didn’t say anything.
A moment later, she walked out of the corner, handing a sausage to him.
“Why do you only eat sausages every time?” Kou Chen asked.
“You can’t get anything else?”
He Hua hesitated for a while before replying quietly: “It tastes good.”
“…Oh.” Kou Chen glanced at her.
“That’s a good mentality.
You’re being bullied to the point of having to hide to eat and you’re still in the mood to pick out food you like.”
He Hua smiled, not saying anything.
She took a twig and slowly stabbed it through a sausage.
“Does Li Jiaying know you eat here?” Kou Chen asked.
“She doesn’t stay in the dorms.” He Hua was still quiet, “She goes home after evening self-study.”
“Oh,” Kou Chen was a bit surprised, “She even goes to self-study?”
“Her grades are very good.” He Hua said.
“What use is good grades?” Kou Chen thought about it, “Come to the cafeteria tomorrow, sit at our table.
“It’s okay.” He Hua had her head down, “Thank you guys.”
Kou Chen started: “Are you addicted to getting bullied or what?”
“I don’t want to cause trouble for anyone.” He Hua said.
That was completely different from what Kou Chen thought, he couldn’t think of anything to say after that.
He Hua didn’t say anything either.
After the sausage was done, she took out some bread from her pocket, eating them together, slowly.
Huo Ran laid on his bed, chatting with his mom for a bit.
Then he put down his phone and leaned over.
On the bunk below him, Hu Yi had his blanket over his head, so he didn’t know if he was awake or sleeping.
On the other side, Xu Zhifan and Jiang Lei were still on their phones, the glow of the screen lighting up their serious expressions.
They were obviously in the middle of a game.
“Did you hear anything from the other room?” Xu Zhifan asked as he played.
“Nope.” Huo Ran said.
“They couldn’t have gone to find Kou Chen again after the hospital, right?” Jiang Lei suddenly paused his game, speaking excitedly like he was looking for a fight.
“Apart from us,” Xu Zhifan kicked the upper bunk, “Who else knows that Kou Chen went to the haunted building? Gone to find him my ass.
Besides, even if they did, you were the one that said one against four is nothing to him.”
Huo Ran’s phone sounded, it was a text.
He grabbed it to look.
-coming to smash down your door!
“Who is it? They’re texting you?” Jiang Lei asked.
“Isn’t your message alert sound a meow?”
“It’s a text, from Kou Chen.” Huo Ran said, “I blocked him.”
“Cussed him out and blocked him.” Jiang Lei couldn’t stop laughing, “Went over just to get his number, only to yell at him and block him.
What did he just say?”
“He wanted to send me a photo of the haunted building, fuck.” Huo Ran opened his blocklist.
This was the first time he was unblocking someone, and he realized he had quite a few people blocked.
An elementary school classmate selling face masks, his cousin that shows off even her baby’s poops like she birthed a mythical beast, the middle school classmate who posts selfies every day with the same pose same angle nine at a time like a set of postage stamps, and the cousin that almost started a fight with him on New Years…
He unblocked Kou Chen, and before he could send him a message, two messages from Kou Chen came through.
The first one was a photo.
“That fucker!” Huo Ran cursed, throwing his phone to Xu Zhifan, “Delete the photo Kou Chen just sent for me.”
Xu Zhifan sighed, putting his game down and picking up his phone.
He swiped some, and suddenly started laughing.
“What is it? It wasn’t a ghost photo?” Huo Ran was a bit confused.
“Nope.” Xu Zhifan laughed and threw his phone back, “Look for yourself, I think he’s back, he probably took this in the hallway.”
Huo Ran took his phone, and he saw Kou Chen’s face.
His expression was fierce, eyes wide, teeth bared.
If you didn’t know you’d think he dislocated his pinky.
The message below was:
-Fuck you I tried sending this photo 8 times!
Huo Ran didn’t want to laugh, he was still pissed, but he really couldn’t hold it in.
Jiang Lei leaped off his bed and laughed too when he saw.
When he was done, he said: “He’s in the hallway right? He’s back?”
“I’ll go ask.” Huo Ran got out of bed.
It’s not like he could sleep now anyways.
In the room across from theirs, they were still talking.
Not just them, but everyone else down the hall were still talking too.
Lights out didn’t really affect them at all.
As Huo Ran was about to knock on the door, Kou Chen’s voice sounded from his left: “Looking for me?”
He jerked his head around, seeing Kou Chen leaning against the window at the end of the hallway.
“You didn’t go back to your room?” Huo Ran walked over.
“I came back out.” Kou Chen said.
“Guo Zijian is in the bathroom.
You can hear everything through the door.”
“What happened over there?” Huo Ran asked.
“He Hua went back to roast sausages?”
“Mhm.” Kou Chen nodded.
“Two sausages and some bread.
She left after she ate.”
“…She didn’t say anything?” Huo Ran was surprised.
Kou Chen thought about it: “It’s not that, I guess she just meant that we should leave her alone now.
She said she didn’t want to cause trouble for anyone.”
Huo Ran didn’t say anything.
He could tell that Kou Chen was feeling a bit down.
To be honest, he didn’t really understand He Hua either.
“I guess some people are just like that.” Kou Chen sighed.
“They’re scared of everything, but they’re not scared of anything at the same time.
She’s scared that Li Jiaying won’t let go of this thing between us, scared we’ll start a fight again, scared that other people will notice her because of this, scared of other people’s gazes.
But she’s not scared of going hungry, or going to the haunted building alone, nor is she scared of Li Jiaying insulting her or kicking her… I don’t understand her.”
“You can’t understand, so you won’t allow others to bully her.” Huo Ran said.
“Nobody will bully you either.”
“Says who?” Kou Chen looked at him.
“Someone blocked me right after adding me.
He even called to fucking insult me, and hung up without letting me defend myself! I’m really being bullied here!”
Huo Ran was speechless.
“I never thought you’d be this scared of ghosts.” Kou Chen suddenly started laughing happily, “You can’t even look at a photo?”
“It’s photos that appear out of nowhere.” Huo Ran tried his hardest to control his temper, “Anyone would be scared, okay?”
“Then it won’t appear out of nowhere now,” Kou Chen turned on his phone, “Wanna see?”
“No.” Huo Ran said.
“Alright then.” Kou Chen looked a little disappointed.
“I’m going back to sleep,” Huo Ran turned back to his room.
He took a couple steps before turning back again, “Then what happens next…”
“What happens next is we’ll go camping.” Kou Chen said.
“I’m talking about He Hua, are you gonna keep trying with her?” Huo Ran sighed.
“What can I do? She refused.” Kou Chen said.
“I don’t want her to think that I’m interested in her or anything.”
“Ah.” Huo Ran also felt that there wasn’t really anything else to do.
“But,” Kou Chen stretched, walking over as he rubbed his back, “I can bully some other people.”
“What?” Huo Ran didn’t understand.
“Some people should learn if they have the chance.” Kou Chen stuffed his hands in his pockets, giving off an arrogant air.
“Learn that ‘don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you’.”
Huo Ran looked at him.
“That’s how it goes, right?” Kou Chen kept walking without turning back, probably scared that it’ll ruin the effect if he did.
“…Yeah.” Huo Ran replied.
The third years didn’t come looking for them the next day.
Running into them at lunch, Huo Ran noticed that one of them had a bandage on his head, and another one was limping slightly.
The other two didn’t look injured, and they kept eye contact with Kou Chen for three seconds.
But there was nothing aggressive about it, or more like, Kou Chen wasn’t being aggressive.
“Braised pork!” As they stared at each other, he suddenly yelled out, “Chuan-ge, get me a serving of braised pork!”
Forget the two in front of him that were waiting to leap into action, Huo Ran was startled even standing behind him.
“Got it!” Xu Chuan replied, “There’s chicken drumsticks too! Want some?”
“Yes——“ Kou Chen yelled.
Before they could react, Kou Chen barged through the two of them.
Huo Ran saw that one of them stumbled back, and he stared fiercely at the back of Kou Chen’s head, but he didn’t do anything.
When Huo Ran realized what word just flashed through his mind, he immediately gave up on his original plan of following Kou Chen to get braised pork.
He turned and walked in the opposite direction.
As long as I’m not going the same way as Kou Chen, I won’t think about anything strange.
As they ate, Kou Chen and the others sat in front of Huo Ran as always.
In the span of a couple days, Huo Ran felt like Kou Chen had forced him into the role of Humanities 1 delinquent, becoming one of their seven.
Eating, class, studying, the few of them were pretty much always together.
He felt worried about his image.
Wei Chaoren looked around: “Hey, do you think it worked? He Hua’s not here, at least she doesn’t have to stare at her food without being able to eat.”
“Who knows?” Kou Chen said, eating his braised pork.
Huo Ran didn’t know when Kou Chen’s ‘don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you’ class was gonna start, but for the next couple of days, He Hua never showed up in the cafeteria, and the third years didn’t do anything either.
Maybe it was the fast-approaching National Day holidays that diverted everyone’s attention, with everyone thinking about how they were gonna spend their break.
“You’re going with a classmate?” His mom was eating a persimmon.
“I thought you hated taking your classmates hiking with you?”
“Can’t get rid of this one.” Huo Ran fretted, as he sat on the floor studying the map.
The place he planned to go this time was a canyon.
It has a lake, the view was great, and he’d been there before.
The main thing was that it wasn’t difficult.
So this time he planned to take a side path, and you could see waterfalls on the way.
Deeper into the mountains, there was even a village to spend the night in.
The village wasn’t very accessible so there wouldn’t be many people.
And the free-range chicken was delicious, Huo Ran had been craving it for a while.
But with noob Kou Chen, noob Kou Xiao, and noob Old Yang coming along, he might have to change his plans.
Even if he didn’t they might just end up only making it one-third of the way.
“The more experienced you are, the more responsibility you have.” His mom interjected.
“Can I really do this?” Huo Ran looked at his mom.
“If you can’t,” His mom smiled, “Then would you still be my darling son?”
Huo Ran didn’t say anything, staying on the ground for a few seconds.
In the end, he sighed under his mom’s gaze, getting up to sit beside her.
“Which classmate is it?” His mom put an arm around his shoulders.
“Did you wash your hands? You just ate a persimmon.” Huo Ran asked.
“Which classmate?” She asked louder.
“Ah——“ Huo Ran yelled out in annoyance, “It’s not like you’d know, Kou Chen, do you know him?”
“I do,” She said, “He’s your classmate.”
“…You’re so annoying.” Huo Ran took a wet wipe and stuffed it in his mom’s hand.
“Not just him, I have to bring his sister and his sister’s boyfriend along too.”
“Look at you.
It’s not like you can get out of it now, what are you so angry for?” His mom wiped her hands.
Huo Ran didn’t say anything, continuing to look at the map.
His phone rang, and he glanced at it.
It was Kou Chen.
“Are you at home?” Right as he picked up, Kou Chen’s cheerful voice sounded through the phone.
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded.
Although he was just annoyed about having to bring Kou Chen along with him, he didn’t feel as angry as he thought after hearing Kou Chen’s voice.
“Come out,” Kou Chen said, “Let’s go buy the stuff.”
“Buy what stuff?” Huo Ran was confused.
“All the gear, didn’t you make me a list?” Kou Chen said.
“Then just look at the list!” Huo Ran was speechless, “What did I make the list for then?”
“I don’t know how.” Kou Chen’s excuse was straight to the point.
Huo Ran couldn’t say anything.
“I’m waiting for you downstairs,” Kou Chen said.
“Hurry, or else I’m coming up to knock.”
“Downstairs?” Huo Ran stood up in shock, “How do you know where I live?”
“I asked Xu Zhifan.” Kou Chen said.
“Come on, I’ll treat you to a meal after we’re done.”
Huo Ran didn’t know what to feel as he walked out the elevator.
A Land Rover was parked outside, and Kou Chen was leaning on it, waiting for him.
He wasn’t wearing his uniform, just a casual shirt and pants.
Huo Ran almost didn’t recognize him.
He had a pair of sunglasses on too.
Seeing him, Kou Chen pushed it down his nose and smiled at him.
Huo Ran couldn’t help but think.
Look, how flirty can he get?!
“He’s here,” Kou Chen knocked on the car window, before walking over to him and throwing an arm around his shoulders.
“Come on, lead the way for us.”
Huo Ran was about to shrug off his arm, when the passenger side window rolled down.
Kou Xiao poked her head out and smiled: “Hey, little cutie.”
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