“Fate had gripped his throat.”
Honestly speaking, this scene in which the two opposing sides had their swords drawn and flames sizzling in their eyes, was an extremely serious type of scene.
Huo Ran was extremely certain that before Kou Chen had opened his mouth, he’d already been prepared to suppress his dissatisfaction and leave or if they couldn’t just leave then get down and fight it out.
But at this moment he’d suddenly ended up breaking1 as in ‘breaking character’, like when actors start laughing during a scene .
He laughed out loud.
And he’d even brought Xu ZhiFan into the act, who laughed even louder than he had.
This really shouldn’t have happened, because it’d caused the few third years to instantly become hostile.
“Looking for trouble aren’t you?” the belle’s expression was cold, but although it was Huo Ran and Xu ZhiFan that had laughed, she still had her eyes fixed on the main cause, staring at Kou Chen.
Huo Ran couldn’t help but observe the 4 boys, confirming that all had mouths, at this sort of time the duty of provoking people by talking tough was ultimately still being carried out by the belle, it really was rather hard to understand.
Lady bosses in their school really didn’t appear often.
“Toilet’s too far away,” Kou Chen says while he fumbles with his waistband, “If you’re all done peeing then leave, there are fees for this exhibition.”
“Which class are you from?” finally there was a boy who spoke.
Kou Chen slowly turns his head over, and just by looking at his side profile Huo Ran could see that his face was full of “is your skin itching you’re actually asking Laozi2 老子 (lǎozi) is sort of an arrogant way to refer to himself since he’s sort of aging himself up (老 means ‘old’), you can think of it as something like ‘oresama’ in jpn which class I’m from”.
“Next time before you threaten someone you should ask around first,” Kou Chen says in an unhurried manner, “Know the enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat3 this whole line is an idiom, the meaning is quite literal .”
The few students didn’t say anything, exchanging a few looks, seemingly a little hesitant.
“Year 2 Humanities Class 1,” Kou Chen sighs, “Kou Chen, you can look for me after asking around, if you’re worried I could leave my number?”
“Let’s go,” the belle furrows her brows, gives Kou Chen another look, then starts walking away after pulling on the arm of the girl beside her.
That girl stumbles because of the pull.
As the few of them pass Huo Ran and Xu ZhiFan by, Huo Ran gives the girl that was being dragged another look, she was less nice looking than even the belle, her lowered head not having gotten raised even once.
Huo Ran also heaved a sigh, he did know that some girls liked to hang out with girls that were not as good as themselves in certain areas, just to make themselves look better.
After the few of them had left, Xu ZhiFan glances at Kou Chen who was still standing by the wall with his head lowered and staring at his crotch, hesitating for 2 seconds: “You really peed?”
“Nah,” Kou Chen laughs, pulling his pants up as he turned, “I only came over after going to the toilet, wasn’t planning to come over here just yet, but I saw you two were already coming over, so I followed.”
“What about Xu Chuan?” Xu ZhiFan asks.
“School infirmary,” Kou Chen says.
“Mn? He’s sick?” Huo Ran asks.
“Sick my ass,” Kou Chen ‘tch’ed, “This semester an extremely pretty lady doctor4 he refers to her as ‘doctor jiejie (sister)’ which is kind of a cute way of address; i’ll be keeping this address for the rest of the text started working in the infirmary, the next few months he’ll probably hurt everywhere in his body at least once through.”
“…Oh,” Huo Ran was a little speechless.
“Let’s go out and eat?” Kou Chen glances at the time on his phone screen, “It’s about time.”
Huo Ran couldn’t help but take his phone out to also look at the time: “It fucking ain’t even 4 o’clock yet, which country’s time difference is this…”
“If you’re hungry you have to eat5 he’s making a general statement so the ‘you’ here doesn’t refer to huo ran ,” Kou Chen turns and sits on the stone plate in the ghost building’s corner next to him, “Ask the guys out first, you guys get Jiang Lei and Hu Yi to come.”
Xu ZhiFan sends a message in the group chat asking Jiang Lei and Hu Yi to hurry to school so they can go out to eat.
Huo Ran looks at Kou Chen: “Those third years, what if they look for you in the classroom?”
“So be it,” Kou Chen stretches his legs out, “Don’t mind me saying, it’s only in university-affiliated high schools like yours, that even this sort of person can become a school tyrant, if it were my old school, there’d be a fight already, like there’d be a need to listen to a girl saying this and that…”
Huo Ran didn’t say anything, so Kou Chen continued in a high-pitched voice: “Looking for trouble aren’t you, get lost, if you don’t tiny little fists will punch your chest.”
“Fuck,” Xu ZhiFan started laughing at the side.
“Really,” Kou Chen waves his hand in disdain, “If they want to look for me, I’ll be waiting anytime, only scared they6 he uses a term 丫 to refer to those people that would have a sort of demeaning connotation in this context won’t come.”
Jiang Lei was usually inefficient when coming to school, but as soon as he’d heard that there’d be food, even if it was from Kou Chen, he’d arrived very quickly dragging Hu Yi along.
But it seemed that Wei ChaoRen’s house was indeed far, they’d all been huddled in the school infirmary “accompanying” Xu Chuan for an hour, before Wei ChaoRen finally arrived.
As soon as he’d entered the infirmary, he pointed at Xu Chuan, “Let’s go let’s go, let’s go eat, it’s about enough already, keep up the act and it’ll become a terminal illness.”
“Get your aunt lost,” Xu Chuan had been hugging a hot water bag making inaudible sounds, but hearing that, the hot water bag almost burst from getting squeezed, “Does your skull contain a date seed!”
School doctor Jiejie started laughing: “Go eat first, I’ll also tidy up and get ready to knock off work.”
The few of them instantly sort of lost face, because even if Jiejie had seen through them before, as long as she didn’t say anything, they could still be thick-skinned and stay, but now that they’d suddenly been stripped bare by Wei ChaoRen… Huo Ran started off outside immediately, stumbling after bumping into the door frame.
Kou Chen who had been following behind held onto him, he shook Kou Chen’s hand off, then sighed.
Their mood quickly recovered however, after all it was now autumn, people got hungry more easily, especially after hearing that the restaurant they were going to was a pretty great buffet place.
Although Huo Ran still harboured some grievances against the trio, but when the taxi they’d called arrived, like the rest of them he’d still, very happily climbed into the car.
Too happily, to the point where it was only after the car had been moving for about half a day that he realised that the one sitting beside him was Kou Chen.
“What are you doing in this car?” Huo Ran was stunned.
Xu ZhiFan was in the shotgun seat, and it was just him and Kou Chen in the back.
“You go ask Jiang Lei,” Kou Chen says, “I was thinking of getting in the car in front, but didn’t manage to squeeze past him.”
Hu Yi had definitely gotten pulled into the car by Jiang Lei, Huo Ran was a little speechless, Jiang Lei whose sense of taste was the type to find even MSG soup delicious, what right did he have to rush at the front at the mention of food!
“Actually if it’s just to eat there’s no need to go to such an expensive place,” Xu ZhiFan says from the front, “Just this one meal and 2 months worth of living expenses will be gone.”
“We7 he’s referring to him + xc + wcr can all eat quite a lot, we can make the buffet cost worth,” Kou Chen says, “Also I took my sister’s employee card, so there’ll be a discount.”
After saying that he turned to look at Huo Ran, “As in my female sister.”
“You’re really fucking good at bearing grudges,” Huo Ran almost didn’t get why Kou Chen had come at him with such a line, “Childish.”
“It’s being smart-mouthed that’s childish,” Kou Chen says, “Being scared of ghosts is also childish…”
Huo Ran turns to look at him.
“So your sister works there?” Xu ZhiFan interrupts their exchange just in time.
“Mn,” Kou Chen nods, “But she does admin.”
Huo Ran doesn’t speak anymore, looking out of the window.
He’s finally realised, that Kou Chen is the overly familiar8 used ‘overly familiar’ for lack of better term, but hes saying hes the type that one-sidedly acts like hes close to someone right off the bat type, able to find a bunch of things to chat about with anyone, jokes along with boasts, if Xu ZhiFan weren’t there, he’d probably also be able to do so with the driver.
Xu ZhiFan this traitor!
Huo Ran furrows his brows and presses onto his index finger, the finger joint cracking with a sound.
Before he’d pressed the next finger, a ka also sounded from beside him.
Huo Ran gives Kou Chen a glance, crazy?
Maintaining eye contact with Kou Chen, he presses down on his middle finger, ka.
Kou Chen also presses down on his middle finger, ka.
“That restaurant…” Xu ZhiFan turns his head, “That…”
Huo Ran presses his ring finger, ka.
Kou Chen also presses his ring finger, ka.
Also thumb, ka.
“You two skipped grades up from pre-school didn’t you!” Xu ZhiFan turns to sit properly, too lazy to bother with them.
The battle was still ongoing.
Although it was completely meaningless, he couldn’t lose.
Huo Ran was counting, after cracking the last pinky, ka, the 19th sound.
But the 20th sound did not happen.
Kou Chen had fired an empty canon.
Huo Ran instantly felt a wave of glee, raising his hand up, spreading his fingers out in front of Kou Chen’s face, working them slowly.
Kou Chen looks at him expressionlessly, then pressed his pinky again.
Still did not sound.
“Cut it off maybe,” Huo Ran says.
“Fuck,” Kou Chen lowers his head to look at his hand, and the left pinky under the right palm gets pressed down on again.
It finally sounded.
“Let me thank you on behalf of my OCD,” Xu ZhiFan says from the front.
“You’re welcome, it’s the least I should do,” Kou Chen says.
Huo Ran puts his hand down, but hearing Kou Chen’s voice he thought something wasn’t quite right, there was a bit of a through-gritted-teeth feeling, and Xu ZhiFan also turns around.
“Ah——” Kou Chen held it in for 3 seconds before he roared, cradling his hand using the other as he roared, “My finger’s broken—”
“Aiyo!” the driver had gotten a fright, hurriedly steering the car over to stop at the roadside.
Honestly speaking, if not for the fact that Huo Ran had seen Kou Chen at that last moment, and known that he’d used quite a fair amount of strength, hearing Kou Chen’s screaming at this moment, he’d have thought this dumbass was pretending.
The way he was screaming was too fucking exaggerated, he almost wanted to get onto the ground to see if the finger had fallen off.
“Let me look,” Huo Ran reaches his hand out.
“Don’t touch!” Kou Chen shrinks his hand back, “It hurts ah fuck fuck fuck… it hurts so bad, my finger can’t move anymore! Sir go to the hospital first go to the hospital I’m gonna die—”
“Let me look!” Huo Ran roared, grabbing his hand at once.
“Ah——” Kou Chen was still screaming.
“Stop howling!” Huo Ran points at him.
“…It hurts ah fuck!” Kou Chen says, “What are you looking at! Is it nice to look at! Why don’t you blow on it see if the bone reatta—”
“Don’t move,” Huo Ran grips his hand tightly, then pinches his finger and gives it a steady outward tug.
It was unknown whether it was because of pain or shock, but Kou Chen instantly went quiet, only a bit of sound emanating from his throat: “Uh…”
Fate had gripped his throat.
“It got dislocated,” Huo Ran released his finger, the joint had been reset, “Try moving it a little and see, it doesn’t hurt anymore does it.”
Kou Chen glared at him, and quite a long a moment passed, before he curled his pinky a few times: “Fuck?”
Huo Ran fished around in his bag, taking a roll of elastic bandage out, having it go two rounds around his hand: “It’s fixed, tonight when you get back ice it a bit, a few days and you won’t feel anything anymore, if it swells and doesn’t go down then go to the hospital for a look.”
“Should be fine,” the driver sighs in relief, “When we were kids, if it got dislocated we’d reset it by ourselves with a pull… you’re pretty amazing.”
“If he hadn’t screamed like that I could’ve been faster,” Huo Ran glances at Kou Chen, “Made me nervous.”
“Thanks,” Kou Chen moves his hand around.
The driver continued on the way to the restaurant, and probably because Kou Chen had just been screaming in such a soul-shaking manner, the few of them were now silent.
Only after a long time did Kou Chen say like he’d had a revelation: “I really couldn’t tell… Huo Ran you’re pretty awesome.”
“I also couldn’t tell that you…” Huo Ran sighed, not finishing his sentence, after all Kou Chen was treating, and had also gotten them out of the bind before, taking things upon himself.
Just that… although the image of Kou Chen aggressively wanting to pee was remained vivid in his mind, Huo Ran still couldn’t help but feel that, if those people really came looking for trouble, Kou Chen would probably end up getting beaten into screaming ‘ao ao‘ and crawling on the floor.
The rumours were all rumours after all.
After finding a table in the restaurant, Jiang Lei speaks as soon as he sat down: “Dislocation’s a small matter, last time I went trekking with Huo Ran, the kind that goes on for half a month, I fell into a ditch, my shoulder got dislocated, and then he’d put a foot on my chest, grabbing my arm with one pull, kacha!”
“And it broke,” Kou Chen furrows his brows, hugging his left hand.
“Broke my ass, it was fixed,” Jiang Lei works his shoulder, “Been a few months already, now there are no problems at all.”
“That’s what I’m doing this for,” Kou Chen says, “Go get food first, I’ll make a memo in a bit.”
Huo Ran went and walked a round, then brought a plate of food back, and found that Kou Chen had already returned to the table at some point, with 3 plates already empty in front of him, currently happily eating from the fourth one.
“Is the alcohol over there free?” Hu Yi asks.
“Those without price tags are all free,” Kou Chen says, “If you’re gonna take then get a bottle for me too would you.”
“Okay,” Hu Yi nods, getting up to go get the alcohol.
Huo Ran felt some imbalance, this guy in just these two days’ time, could already chat with his 3 best friends like they were old familiars.
“Huo Ran,” Kou Chen kept eating, then when everyone else were still eating, he’d already put down his chopsticks, “Are you part of some sort of an outdoor adventure club?”
“Nah,” Huo Ran says, “I only have one cycling club.”
“Then when you go trekking do you go by yourself?” Kou Chen asks.
“Mn,” Huo Ran takes a bite of roasted chicken wing, bringing these up, he was still willing to chat about, “If I bump into people with experience, then together, if there aren’t any then just myself.”
Kou Chen glances at Jiang Lei.
“He doesn’t count, he’s one of those main quest NPCs, can’t go around him, if you don’t complete they don’t let you clear,” Huo Ran says.
Kou Chen starts laughing: “Then tell me, what sort of basic things do I need to bring?”
“…Not that I’m unwilling to tell you, but you don’t have any experience at all, it’s best you don’t go out for 3 days at one go,” Huo Ran says, “You could start from picnics.”
“I’ve already been picnicking in our district’s green area for years,” Kou Chen says, “I’ve more than enough experience with picnics.”
Huo Ran gives him a glance, stuffing a piece of meat into his mouth.
“You’re definitely going out during the National Day period right?” Kou Chen doesn’t give up, “Just tell me about your equipment and it’ll be enough.”
“I’ll be going for a long time during National Day, there are many things…” Huo Ran hadn’t finished speaking, but Kou Chen had already cut him off.
“Bring me along,” Kou Chen says.
“What?” Huo Ran was stunned, taking half a day to come back to himself, quickly trying to remedy, “I also haven’t decided the time…”
“I won’t be a drag,” Kou Chen says, “You even managed to bring Jiang Lei along, I’m way stronger than him.”
Way stronger than Jiang Lei?
Huo Ran couldn’t help but recall Kou Chen’s heart-rending screams in the taxi, the sound lingering.
Huo Ran sighed, he was someone that wanted face, Kou Chen had already gotten the words out of him, forcefully trying to redeem them was also really not his style.
He could only stay silent.
But to Kou Chen who was the overly familiar completely shameless type of person, silence was probably as good as verbal consent.
There was still a period of time before National Day, so Huo Ran chose to not think this issue over, raising his head to look at the bunch of eating and chattering people around the table.
“I always thought nobody dared to go to the ghost building actually,” Xu Chuan says, “Third years actually go over there to play?”
“What were they doing over there?” Hu Yi asks.
“Smoking? Chatting?” Wei ChaoRen says, “Kissing? Group dating?”
“If it were my previous school,” Kou Chen drank a mouthful of alcohol, “Then it’d be receiving protection fees9 a way of saying extortion, paying fees so that the mafia doesn’t harass or threaten them rather than literally protect them , no other possibilities.”
“No way?” Jiang Lei was a little shocked, “We’re a uni-affiliated school here.”
“Yeah, your school’s students are so well-behaved, no fighting no swearing,” Kou Chen says, “So those guys were definitely there solving questions.”
Huo Ran didn’t say anything, he really hadn’t thought too much previously, doing questions was impossible, but something like hiding out there for a smoke was not uncommon in university-affiliated high schools.
“Ai, Kou Chen,” Jiang Lei asks, “You make it sound like it’d happened a lot, have you received protection fees before then, since you’ve even punched a teacher.”
Kou Chen smiles but doesn’t say anything, on his face an enigmatic expression saying see aren’t I doing a great job of acting like I’m all that.
Just as Huo Ran was stuffing a piece of meat into his mouth, he still ended up speaking: “Ai, I’d just offended too many people, couldn’t not leave.”
Huo Ran choked a bit, swallowing the meat in his mouth with difficulty.
This Braggart King!
– End of Ch6 –
Because I’d applied for a list then noticed that the word count wasn’t enough, so tomorrow I can only release the one and only saved document… after that it’ll still be alternate day updates, save up enough till the VIP-to-be chapters first TT_TT.
Tl notes: If you don’t understand the author’s notes… don’t worry… I don’t really understand myself (so some might be wrong, forgive me!) but the reason I include them is just because she’s cute ;v; Thanks for reading~
P.S: I can’t remember whether I explained the difference between the types of high schools, I’m not very familiar with them myself but it seems that uni-affiliated high schools tend to be more rule-governed so the impression is that there would be less ‘thug behaviour’ as compared to regular high schools (that Kou Chen’s previous school was). ‘Uni-affiliated’ doesn’t sound like a professional term but I’m not sure what it’s called in English so we’ll just be sticking with that.[edited 2/11]: more grammar fixes!