“Huo Ran still hadn’t fully understood what had happened when Kou Chen’s face disappeared from in front of him.”
The phone on the back of his waist was singing and vibrating for the second time.
Huo Ran glanced towards the front, this long slope had about 50 metres to go, so he ignored the phone, cycling towards the peak in midst of tremorous singing.
“We are not the same! Not the same!”
“We are not the same! Not the same!”
“We are not—”
“Fuck your uncle1 i’ll be translating this phrase directly because it’s a fun slang (it’s literally what it says) ,” Huo Ran backhandedly grasped at his back several times but didn’t manage to get the phone out, so he tugged his waist pouch down and took the phone out, hurrying to pick up before the fourth “we are not the same” rang out, “Were you the one that fucking changed my ringtone!”
“…Did you not check the caller ID when you picked up? Or did you not even save my number?” Jiang Lei’s voice rang out from the speaker.
“Even if your mom made you into meat sauce I’d know who you were,” said Huo Ran.
“Then how could you fucking say I changed your ringtone!” Jiang Lei started shouting, “We met a total of 2 times over the break! The last time we met was half a month ago, are you even human how could I change your ringtone!”
“Then who changed it!” Huo Ran furrowed his brows moodily.
“How would I know!” Jiang Lei was now also grumpy, pausing for a moment before asking, “What did it change to?”
“That line you sing every day, without a word more,” said Huo Ran.
Jiang Lei immediately started off: “We are not the same – Not—”
“If there’s nothing important I’m hanging up,” Huo Ran cut him off, “I was rushing halfway.”
“Cycling again?” Jiang Lei asked, “Didn’t you go just the day before?”
“From the day before till now, dumbass,” Huo Ran looked back, before seeing anyone else, saw the flag attached to the back of his bike, not sure who’d designed it, but it had green-based yellow characters making up the words “Elite Cycling”, he sighed, “I’m even carrying the flag today.”
“In first place? Who’s the opponent?” Jiang Lei asks.
“Dominating The World,” when Huo Ran said the name out loud he felt that the Middle School Disease radiating from it made it more embarrassing to say than “Elite Cycling”, “I’m in first place now, but they have a 14 year old little girl that’s especially…”
He hadn’t finished speaking, when that 14 year old little girl made a turn out from the winding road about 500 metres behind, waving at him from afar, whistling at him.
“Fuck,” Huo Ran sandwiched the phone between his cheek and shoulder, quickly strapping his waist pouch back onto his waist, “I gotta go, this kid’s incredible2 the phrase he uses also implies he is surprised by how good the kid is .”
“Ai I haven’t told you anything yet!” Jiang Lei panics.
“I’ll call you back later,” Huo Ran didn’t wait for him to speak up again, hanging up and stuffing his phone back into the waist pouch, with a step of his right leg, the bike rushed forward.
Up front was a down slope, the little girl hadn’t completed the long slope, so there was no way she could catch up to him.
But he decided to leave right away anyway, this was actually the first time he was getting chased by a little kid this way, and she was even able to still whistle at this point.
“Hung up?” Xu ZhiFan asks.
“Ah, he said he’ll call me back later,” Jiang Lei looks at his phone.
“Then what was the purpose of you calling him and talking for 3 minutes?” says Xu ZhiFan.
Jiang Lei thinks deeply.
“Next time I’ll do the calling,” Xu ZhiFan looks at Jiang Lei, “You’re the type that gets shot at 7, only dies at 8 but still didn’t manage to reveal the murderer in the end, that kind of corpse.”
Jiang Lei glares at him for almost 10 seconds before opening his mouth to say: “Get lost.”
“Call Hu Yi and the guys to come out and let’s grab some food,” Xu ZhiFan takes out his phone and pokes around with it, “I feel like fleshing out in autumn3 had to google this, it’s a reference to a festival but it’s a way of saying he wants to eat good food, priority being meat .”
“Isn’t it a bit too early for that?” Jiang Lei asks.
“Affinity doesn’t come early or late,” Xu ZhiFan makes the call.
Jiang Lei holds up his phone, takes a picture of the class distribution list on the advertisement board, and sends it to the WeChat group.
– You went to the school?
– Shit, didn’t invite me when you went out to play
– You guys come on out, let’s go eat, I’m with Xu ZhiFan
– Wait a bit, I saw the main point of the class list, Kou Chen, Xu Chuan, and Wei ChaoRen???
“Yeah, the trio,” Jiang Lei sends a voice message, “All in the same class as us.”
“Fuck, things are getting interesting huh,” Hu Yi also sent a voice message.
After settling on a place to eat, Jiang Lei walks towards the school entrance with Xu ZhiFan, again turning back to look at Kou Chen’s name on the class list, speaking with a serious face, “I feel like we’re gonna have to get in a fight the first day school reopens.”
“Not necessarily,” Xu ZhiFan says, “They hadn’t fought before.”
“That’s why, and now we’re all to be in the same class, shouldn’t they have to fight it out?” Jiang Lei rubs his hands.
“You just have to hold Huo Ran back and they won’t be able to fight,” Xu ZhiFan says, “His temper only lasts 3 seconds.”
“Then what about Kou Chen?” Jiang Lei asks.
Xu ZhiFan glances at him, “When has the troublemaker ever not been Huo Ran?”
“…That’s true,” Jiang Lei nods his head.
Without much pressure, there was no one at his back when Huo Ran reached the peak of the mountain.
He sends his bike toppling onto the ground, whips out the flag, and finds a spot in the mud to stick it in.
The air at the mountain peak was very nice, penetrating with a coolness, Huo Ran inhales a deep breath, standing on top of a rock by the cliff and looking out far ahead.
Today was a clear day, with a high level of visibility, the view stretches up to the horizon, but not quite in a straight line, there are mountains in the distance, making the horizon a wavy line.
He hadn’t stood for long, before the brakes of a bike sounded behind him, he turned back, and saw that little girl hopping off her bike.
He turns again to continue looking at the wavy line of the horizon.
“How long have you been here?” the little girl asks.
“An hour,” he says.
The little girl starts laughing: “You’re bluffing, your sweat hasn’t stopped dripping yet.”
“Mn,” he nods.
“Gege4 ‘ge’ means older brother, made cuter by saying it twice. i’ll be keeping addresses in dialogue but will translate text accordingly , do you still have water?” the little girl asks, “I’ve finished drinking mine.”
“On the bike,” Huo Ran points at his own bike.
The little girl goes over to take the bottle from his bike, raising her neck to chug the water after uncapping it, half the bottle of water gone in a matter of seconds.
“Why didn’t you drink any water, there’s so much left,” the little girl says.
“Because you’ve finished it,” Huo Ran says.
The little girl freezes.
“Drink,” Huo Ran jumps off the rock, he knew that there was a Taoist temple with only 2 priests ahead, and that there is a spring outside the temple.
He started walking a few steps towards the temple, and then he stops, noticing that the little girl was following behind him.
“Looking for the bathroom?” he asks.
“Mn,” the little girl is a little embarrassed, “Are you going to the bathroom?”
Huo Ran was just in time to stop “I’m going to drink water” from leaving his mouth, continuing forward, “I’m not going to the bathroom.”
“Then…,” the little girl comes to a stop.
“Come along,” Huo Ran says, “It’s up ahead.”
After bringing the little girl to the temple, he drinks a few handfuls of water, then takes out his phone to give Jiang Lei a call.
“Ascended the throne?” Jiang Lei asks.
“…Mn,” Huo Ran says, “So what did you call me for just now?”
“The class distribution list came out,” Jiang Lei says, “Xu ZhiFan and the few of us are in Humanities Class 1.”
“Pretty good, still in the same class,” Huo Ran nods.
“Guess who else is in the same class with us?” Jiang Lei lowers his voice to ask.
“Kou Chen,” Huo Ran is pretty much able to guess the instant Jiang Lei pulls this move.
“Fuck, you’re no fun, couldn’t you let me reveal the answer?” Jiang Lei says, “There’s two more, guess again?”
“Xu Chuan Wei ChaoRen?” Huo Ran asks.
“Can you fucking let me do the reveal!” Jiang Lei’s raises his voice very unhappily.
“You already said there’s 2 more, if I wait for you to do the reveal after such obvious hints, wouldn’t I seem like I’m intellectually disabled?” Huo Ran says.
“It’s the 3 of them, Kou Chen! Xu Chuan! Wei ChaoRen!” Jiang Lei insists on doing the reveal once again, “Don’t you think it’s such a coincidence?”
“Don’t know,” Huo Ran puts his hands in the spring, it’s refreshing, very comfortable, “You guys went to see the list today?”
“That’s right, and we’re getting ready to eat now,” Jiang Lei says, “I’m telling you, Xu ZhiFan asked me to remind you, when you see Kou Chen don’t stir up trouble, just mind our own business and it’s all good.”
Huo Ran makes a ‘tsk’ sound and doesn’t say anything else.
He never intended to bother with Kou Chen in the first place, only that they’d clashed a few times when they were playing basketball.
When they were on the verge of losing he’d cursed, and Kou Chen was quick to respond.
Other than that they hadn’t had further interaction.
His impression of Kou Chen was fuzzy, other than the fact that Kou Chen had transferred here in first year and that that trio was a group whose main interest was boasting, everything else were rumours.
Rumours that he wasn’t a local.
Rumours that he had a good family background.
Rumours that the reason he’d transferred from far away was because he’d hit a teacher, with the reason for that being that the teacher had been too much of a nag.
Rumours that he was exceptionally good at fighting.
But up till now he’d never seen Kou Chen fight.
Wei ChaoRen lights a cigarette, and continues to rub the mahjong tile in his hand.
“Hurry up, you’ve rubbed it into a blank tile by now!” Xu Chuan knocks on the table impatiently.
“Ai,” Wei ChaoRen starts laughing, tossing the tile in his hand onto the table, “Actually rubbed it into a blank one for real.”
“Pung,” Kou Xiao takes away the blank tile.
“Jie5 older sister are you for real?” Wei ChaoRen is stupefied, “A Pung for this?”
“Put the cigarette out,” Kou Chen says.
“What?” Wei ChaoRen turns to look at him.
“Asked you to put the cig out,” Kou Chen glances at him, “Are you blind?”
“…What’s this gotta do with being blind?” Wei ChaoRen puts the cigarette out.
“Don’t you see my sister here?” Kou Chen says.
“I’m sorry Jie, it wasn’t on purpose,” Wei ChaoRen sends Kou Xiao a fist and palm salute6 referring to the gesture in which the right fist connects with the left palm .
“It’s nothing it’s nothing,” Kou Xiao waved her hand, tossing a tile onto the board, then thought a little before asking, “Your class distribution list has probably come out?”
“Mn,” Kou Chen nods his head.
“I went and looked,” Xu Chuan says, “Nothing special, just that that, Huo Ran, I thought he’d choose the sciences, turns out he’s in the same class as us.”
“Which Huo Ran?” Kou Chen asks.
“That rude one during the basketball match,” Xu Chuan says, “The one you said looked pretty cute.”
“Oh,” Kou Chen responded, “I’ll take back the ‘pretty cute’.”
“Why?” Xu Chuan starts laughing.
“His temper really fucking sucks,” Kou Chen says.
In contrast to Kou Chen’s rumours, Huo Ran’s bad temper was most certainly not a rumour, known by not just the students, but also the teachers, at the end of every term he would receive comments from every subject teacher asking him to fix his temper.
Going back to school every start of the semester, his mother would follow behind to remind him, “Don’t lose your temper.”
“…I won’t lose my temper,” Huo Ran sighs.
“Xiao Huo?7 means “little huo”, meant to be a cute address, also because he’s the son, his dad would be the ‘big huo’ ” Mom calls him again from behind.
“Ah,” Huo Ran looks back at her.
“Go safely,” Mom says, smiling.
“…Oh,” Huo Ran responds, swinging his bag onto his back, he pushes his bike towards the lift entrance, then presses the button.
His mother hasn’t gone back inside or closed the door, leaning on the door-frame with a smile on her face, looking at him.
Huo Ran stares at the lift door for a moment, then, finding it unbearable, turns his head back, “What are you doing?”
“My son is so good-looking, cute,” Mom says.
“Ah——” Huo Ran yells out, gives the level of the lift a glance, then picks his bike up before turning to open the door to the fire escape, running down the stairs along with the sound of his mother’s happy laughter.
Jiang Lei rode his scooter around the flower bed circling the stairway, coming over as soon as he sees him coming out, eyeing the bike he was pushing out, “Is this the one you just fixed up? I’ll ride for a bit.”
“Our proportions8 not exactly sure what the term for this in english is so this is my stand-in. it’s something to do with height, and the seat tube height/length of a bike is tailored according to this height. dictionaries kept giving me ‘span-depth ratio’ which doesn’t sound right might not be the same, so it might not be comfortable when you ride,” Huo Ran says.
Jiang Lei brings the scooter to a stop, “Okay, aren’t you just trying to say my legs aren’t as long as yours, don’t need to mention our proportions.”
“But what if your legs are long, that’s still a difference in proportions,” Huo Ran says.
“Bullshit, I’m half a head shorter than you, if my legs are longer, wouldn’t I be a leg demon?” Jiang Lei grabs the bike frame and lifts it a little, “Holy shit, so light.”
“Carbon frame,” Huo Ran sits on Jiang Lei’s scooter, “Probably around 10 plus jin9 unit of measurement. equivalent to half a kilogram .”
“Go!” Jiang Lei steps down on the pedal, riding out on the bike.
“Going to school directly or?” Huo Ran starts up the scooter and follows behind him.
“Xu ZhiFan is waiting for us at the beef noodle place,” Jiang Lei says.
There was a beef noodle shop in Xu ZhiFan’s housing district, Huo Ran finds it tastes extremely bad, the meat portion small with a similarly stingy portion of noodles, just an exceptional amount of broth that you could tell from the taste was MSG soup, but Xu ZhiFan and Jiang Lei absolutely adored it, so he’s always forced to join in.
After finishing a bowl of noodles, apart from the taste of MSG left in his mouth, he felt nothing else.
But Xu ZhiFan was still wiping his mouth in bliss even after entering the school building.
“Are humanities classes kind of unwelcomed?” Huo Ran glances at the building in front of them, “Having classes in the ghost building?”
“Humanities classes gotta experience the burden of history,” Xu ZhiFan says.
“This ghost building’s already not too bad, not putting us in the real ghost building over there…” Jiang Lei says as he rubs his arms.
The school was a hundred-year old school, the floor directly below them from the stairway to the corridor to the classrooms were all made up of wooden boards, and there were several buildings with classrooms whose ceiling paint had even fallen off revealing the wooden boards underneath, all of them referred to as “ghost buildings”, the one they were in was the only building still in use, and it’s been said that they would tear it down for reconstruction next year.
The paint on the ground had long worn off, but the boards were made of solid timber, he wasn’t sure how many years and how many people have walked over them, each board scarred and sticking out, but stepping on them certainly gave off a sense of their age.
“Humanities Class 1, second floor,” Huo Ran glanced at the sign, this building had a total of 4 classrooms, Class 3 and 4 were downstairs.
“No seating arrangement, right?” Jiang Lei said as he walked up the stairs, “Let’s all sit together, with Hu Yi would be just nice.”
“Mn,” Xu ZhiFan nodded his head, “Towards the back.”
“The last row,” Jiang Lei says.
Huo Ran reached the second floor, the classroom only had one door facing the podium, standing at the back door they could see a sea of back-facing heads.
“This kind of door at the back really doesn’t give any sense of security,” Xu ZhiFan gave a sigh.
“The second or third rows from the back then,” Huo Ran’s gaze swept across the room, the last row was already fully occupied, but there were still empty seats in the preceding rows.
“Sure,” Xu ZhiFan followed behind him.
As Huo Ran walked over towards the second row from the back, someone from the back row suddenly stood up, turning and started walking backwards without even looking, if Huo Ran hadn’t raised his hand to block, they would have collided head-on, but this emergency brake had caused him to step on a scarred wooden board and almost twist his ankle.
“Fuck,” Huo Ran furrows his brows, instantly rather annoyed, “Watch where you’re going.”
The person facing him didn’t speak, nor did he move.
Huo Ran’s gaze swept up towards his face, then also stopped and didn’t move.
It was Kou Chen.
Perhaps it was because everyone knew about how in the previous semester Huo Ran and Kou Chen had almost gotten into a fight during that basketball match, and are now up against each other again right on the first day after school reopened, everyone was immediately full of anticipation, Huo Ran could literally feel how the surroundings quietened down, as well as imagine just what this bunch of people were thinking.
“Huo Ran,” Xu ZhiFan called out to him from behind in a low voice.
He of course knew what that meant, although the way Kou Chen was eyeing him silently made him feel rather displeased, he was planning to put up with it.
He paused, lowering his voice to say, “Move aside.”
The moment he opened his mouth, Kou Chen’s body had already been moving towards the side, obviously prepared to make way for him, and at once he sighed in his heart.
As expected, as soon as he heard him, Kou Chen’s slightly tilted body immediately faced forward, standing directly in front of him, with absolutely no intentions of making way.
Huo Ran narrowed his eyes into a thin line, looking at him.
Kou Chen had not yet spoken and still did not make a sound at this, just looking at him eye to eye, his expression seemingly peaceful.
The stalemate lasted a few seconds before someone walked over, clearing their throat.
Huo Ran recognised him, this was Xu Chuan who was part of the trio.
Xu Chuan patted Kou Chen’s shoulder, “Kou…”
Before he managed to finish, the floorboard suddenly made a ka-cha sound, Huo Ran still hadn’t fully understood what had happened when Kou Chen’s face disappeared from in front of him.
He looked downwards stunned and realised that Kou Chen’s person was still there, but he had one leg stuck in a broken piece of floorboard, his arm hanging on to the table next to him, with a similar stunned expression on his face.
– End of Ch1 –
Long time no see ⊙▽⊙。
Tl Comments: Hiya! So this note is a bit different from the one on Wattpad, since it’s the first chapter here but I’ll probably just copy and paste the rest directly or cut out some stuff. I won’t be moving the translator’s notes page here so some disclaimers:
1. I’m Chinese but not native, so there’ll be some jokes/references I won’t be able to explain and I’d like to apologize in advance for all that!
2. In this chapters most of the footnotes were for clarification/fun facts, but in future chapters I’ll leave the ones I find really important or for understanding what they’re saying exposed in brackets, for example, [*tl note: x], aligned left (similar to how I’ve done on Wattpad). This is just in case some of you (like me) usually skip hidden footnotes. You can click the hidden ones if you’re interested at your own discretion, though I really recommend clicking on them!
3. I welcome questions / comments if anything’s confused you but I will likely only check this site once a week when I update the new chapter so replies may be kind of slow. Thanks for reading!