Huo Ran couldn’t figure out Kou Chen planned to get his money back dollar by dollar.
And he didn’t really get it either.
You can’t even take the bus with a dollar, you could only buy a tiny hot dog in the cafeteria, so why did he have to do it like that
He must’ve given them a couple thousand at the very least.
The third years were busy, and the two meal times were the only chance they had to bump into them.
So that’s twice, and one dollar each time would be two dollars a day.
He would only get back like 700 by the time they graduate…
And that’s not even counting holidays…
Speaking of holidays, they had one in three days.
They didn’t see Liu Yu and the others at lunch, only the ‘fly for me’ guys.
After that night, those guys had calmed down quite a bit, seeing as they had personally experienced the feeling of getting kicked away by someone.
But you had to admit that Li Jiaying was something.
After the fall of a couple generals, she still had Liu Yi and the others to replace them.
“The cafeteria food is not bad.” Kou Chen sat beside Huo Ran with a tray full of meat.
“It’s just too small, you have to wait for ages.”
“We have it pretty good already.
I heard they opened it to the public before, so all the working people came over to eat too.” Xu Chuan said.
“Forget about getting your food, you couldn’t even get a table.
And then they stopped it after some parents complained.”
Huo Ran didn’t say anything, and he took a sip of his coke.
Who knows if Kou Chen wasn’t worried because he had someone to mooch off of, or because he had a lot of money left over from last semester, but he wasn’t at all cheap when it came to food.
He still bought everyone drinks like usual.
There was still a plastic bag with a couple more drinks on the table.
It was like he thought throwing away a couple thousand dollars was something worth celebrating.
Kou Chen and the others ate really slowly today.
A lot slower than usual.
Huo Ran had finished and wanted to leave, but Xu Zhifan was deep in conversation with Kou Chen so he could only stay.
“They’re here.” Xu Chuan suddenly said.
Hearing that, Huo Ran immediately looked towards the door.
Li Jiaying and her personal punching bag He Hua, along with the newly appointed generals, Liu Yu and Zhou Haichao.
Too bad the two girls from the other day weren’t with them.
Who knows if they got their share of the money.
“Now” Wei Chaoren asked.
“In a bit.” Kou Chen said.
“They haven’t even gotten their food yet.”
“What are you doing” Jiang Lei perked up.
Ever since he heard about Kou Chen throwing money at them, he had been eagerly awaiting a follow-up.
Although Huo Ran was also wondering about that, he turned to Kou Chen.
“Watch,” Kou Chen said.
“The service has been activated, please pay the cancellation fee.”
“Service” Huo Ran was confused.
Kou Chen didn’t answer, he only glanced at them every so often.
When they finally sat down to eat, he threw his chopsticks down: “Let’s go.”
Xu Chuan and Wei Chaoren stood up too, each taking a bottle out of the plastic bag.
“What” Huo Ran felt worried.
Are they going to beat them up in front of the whole school!
Kou Chen stayed silent, only shaking the bottle in his hand, before twisting open the cap.
Huo Ran glanced at it, seeing that it was full.
Probably from the store.
Haitian soy sauce.
Kou Chen walked to Li Jiaying’s table, holding the opened bottle behind him.
“What do you want” Liu Yu was the first to start glaring at them.
Hearing that, the nearby students all turned to look.
Good, that’s exactly what he wanted.
He doesn’t need to start a commotion himself.
Kou Chen shared a look with Xu Chuan and Wei Chaoren, and then the three of them started pouring their soy sauce before those guys could realize what was happening.
Their trays were immediately dyed dark brown.
“Ah—” Li Jiaying finally realized what was happening as they emptied the bottles, and she screamed, “Are you crazy!”
“Soy sauce.” Kou Chen said.
“Vinegar.” Wei Chaoren said.
“Huangjiu.” Xu Chuan said.
“This is today’s lunch service.” Kou Chen set the bottle down on the table.
“It’ll be available for dinner too.
As long as you’re here, it will be available.
Doesn’t matter if you get one tray, two trays, or if you reserve the entire cafeteria, I can even service you right at the line.”
They all stood up.
Everyone watching also scurried over, pushing and shoving each other.
Some even stood on top of the chairs.
“Also, you can cancel it.” Kou Chen said.
“One hour before you eat, one dollar per tray.
You can only cancel your meals for the day, no advance payment, no make-ups, and only in cash.”
“What the ** is wrong with you!” Zhou Haichao yelled at him, the veins on his neck popping.
He pushed his tray at him.
Kou Chen had already moved to the side, and the tray fell to the floor.
“I told you, I’m treating you guys to an entire semester’s worth of meals.” Kou Chen sneered, “You’re eating and drinking my money.
Snatched it up pretty quick, but now you’re getting mad at me before you even divided it up properly”
Everyone started whispering to each other.
“Who took your money Have some shame!” Liu Yu pointed at him and cursed, “You’re the one who **ing…”
And that’s why you should get to the point when trying to defend yourself.
Liu Yu’s words just now were exactly what Kou Chen wanted.
Before Liu Yu could finish his tirade, he cut him off: “You didn’t take my money There’s cameras at the noodle place, wanna check them”
“You’re the one who **ing gave it to us!” Liu Yu screamed out the main point.
But it was too late, it only sounded like he was making excuses.
The whispering grew louder.
“Am I stupid” Kou Chen said.
“I willingly gave you thousands of dollars”
Huo Ran felt that this was the peak of putting on airs.
He could even insult himself while he’s at it.
“That counts as robbery!” One of the lunch ladies yelled out, “That’s not okay! This is Fuzhong! I have to let your teachers know!”
“Who robbed him!” Zhou Haichao yelled.
“Who robbed him!”
As Huo Ran felt that he was about to punch Kou Chen, the one closest to Kou Chen, Li Jiaying had already made a move.
She slapped his face.
But as a girl, her movements were a bit slow, so Kou Chen caught her wrist before it made contact with his face.
“I told you, you can touch if you want.” Kou Chen looked at her.
“It doesn’t matter who touched my face, guy or girl, I’ll hit them back.”
Li Jiaying tried to take her hand back, but Kou Chen’s grip didn’t loosen.
So she tried to slap him with her left hand.
As expected, Kou Chen caught that hand as well.
“Fucking hell,” Kou Chen said.
“If you wanna play bullying I’ll play with you, but ** off with the braindead romance drama plot.
Are you waiting for me to **ing kabedon you I’ll cheer you on!”
After saying that, he shoved Li Jiaying harshly, and she fell back into her chair.
Maybe that was their plan, for Li Jiaying to distract Kou Chen so Liu Yu can aim a kick at Kou Chen from behind.
As Huo Ran kicked out towards Liu Yu, he felt like he was the only one in the room that wasn’t looking at Li Jiaying.
Huo Ran kicked Liu Yu’s leg away from Kou Chen, and he ended up kicking the table bolted to the ground.
That action, along with everyone’s shocked gasps, was like a bugle call.
Kou Chen reacted fast, not even giving himself a second to access the situation before kicking Liu Yu in the chest, making him fall to the ground.
Zhou Haichao lunged towards Huo Ran.
He must have something against him, he’s not targeting Kou Chen
Huo Ran punched him in the face.
Normally, Xu Zhifan would always hold him back, but today he didn’t.
As the ‘fly for me’ group all threw themselves at Kou Chen, The Seven of them immediately joined the fight.
Fists were thrown and their figures blurred together.
They were all wearing uniforms, so apart from the spectating audience, they could barely tell who was who.
It was electrifying.
Even Hu Yi started throwing punches bravely.
Huo Ran felt that he might’ve pretended that all of them were his scumbag father.
It’s good to let off some steam.
The cafeteria was small, and the tables were close together.
Along with the fact that everyone was there for lunch, they couldn’t really spread out.
As Kou Chen kicked Zhou Haichao out of the doors, they swiftly moved their fight outside.
Now everyone could see Kou Chen clearly.
He used the table as leverage and kicked, and Zhou Haichao flew out like a puppet being dragged along by the strings.
Without background music, the scene was silent and shocking.
Huo Ran even felt his stomach hurt.
“Stop fighting! Stop fighting!” One of Li Jiaying’s friends screamed.
“What are you doing”
What are we doing”
Huo Ran felt like laughing at that.
He dodged a punch, and shouldered the person in the ribs.
He fell, face twisted in pain.
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.
Any strategy had gone out the window by now.
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Aera vbc’a gfagfja.
Po rbwfbcf aglfr ab gfagfja sbe mtjrf tlw vbkc.
Cqjga ogbw atja, la kjr j mbwqifaf wfrr.
Dea Ktf Vfnfc bo atfw tjv atf jvnjcajuf bo jc fzagj qfgrbc bc atflg rlvf, jcv Bbe Jtfc kjr pera abb ubbv, rb atfs kfgf jogjlv ab fnfc ufa cfjg tlw.
He threw Liu Yu into a nearby wall, and Huo Ran understood why Kou Chen’s dad said he’ll grind him into sausage meat if he starts another fight.
Liu Yu’s back hit the wall with a thud.
As Kou Chen was about to punch him in the face, Xu Zhifan rushed up and held his arm back, tugging him away.
They could already hear the security coming.
They couldn’t let the security see them fighting or else the blame would be put on them.
“What’s going on! What are you doing! Everyone, stop!” A few security guards ran up, pushing them away from each other.
“They started it!” One of their guys pointed at them, wiping the corner of his mouth.
He wasn’t even bleeding.
It was probably saliva.
Huo Ran glanced around.
The third years were in a bit of a sorry state.
Liu Yu’s eye was already swollen, and the tall one’s clothes had been ripped in half by someone.
“These guys showed up out of nowhere and started pouring soy sauce in our food!” Li Jiaying appeared, “Everyone saw it, we don’t know why! What were we supposed to do!”
“What were you supposed to do!” Huo Ran didn’t want to speak, but he really couldn’t hold it.
He looked at her, “Have you asked yourself that when you were bullying people What about when you were hitting people When you wouldn’t let your classmate eat What were you supposed to do”
Li Jiaying’s face twisted, and Huo Ran pointed at the guys: “Why didn’t you ask yourself that when you came to our classroom to start a fight”
“What does that have to do with me!” Li Jiaying yelled, “Stop dumping everything on me!”
“Everything has to do with you, if I want to dump it on you then I will! Forget all this, I’ll even dump a pile of ** on your head! If I want to beat you guys up then I will! If I don’t want you to eat then I will!” Huo Ran said.
“Stop with the innocent victim act asking ‘why’ and ‘what’, I’m worried you won’t be able to take it! You’re the bully in front of people that won’t fight back, but now that there’s someone who won’t stand for your ** you’re playing the victim”
“Don’t think that you’re the only one with a **ing mouth,” Zhou Haichao pointed at him.
“You guys were the ones that started everything, don’t think you guys will get off scot free!”
“Relax, I’ll take responsibility for whatever I did, and I’ll make sure you do the same!” Kou Chen said.
“Sure, they’re gonna take disciplinary action at most, who’s scared of who” One of them said.
“You should be scared of us.” Xu Zhifan said.
“If they do, we still have two years to make up for it.
But you don’t have much time left here, think twice about it.”
“You guys also…” Liu Yu said.
“Childish.” Huo Ran cut him off impatiently.
“I couldn’t care less.
We both know why we’re being punished. Besides, you guys are a bunch of cowards, in any other school you would be the ones with your heads down! The lowest things in the world are people like you, punching elderly and kicking babies, and you think you’re so cool Trash!”
“What’s going on here!” The Dean yelled out behind them.
Kou Chen turned around and saw that Old Yuan was also rushing over with the Dean.
“I just knew it was you guys.” Old Yuan approached them, lowering his voice, “Shut your mouths, all of you.
Don’t speak without thinking in front of the Dean.”
“Yes, Lawyer Yuan.” Kou Chen said.
“Who’s involved!” The Dean was very angry, “All of you, in my office! Don’t even think about running!”
“It’s them!” Liu Yu immediately came over, pointing at them, “The seven of them!”
“What about you guys” Old Yuan asked.
“I was!” Now Liu Yu seemed eager.
“Point them out.” Old Yuan patted Kou Chen on the shoulder.
“One, two, three, four, five, six.” Kou Chen immediately cooperated and pointed them out.
But he didn’t count Li Jiaying, seeing as she wasn’t actually part of the fight, but she won’t be getting away after everything is explained.
“Come with me!” The Dean yelled, “Everyone else finish your lunch or go back to your classrooms! Whichever class is responsible for cleaning today, go deal with the mess!”
Huo Ran was always a decently good kid.
Although he had a bad temper, he’d never caused too much trouble.
At most he would just get sent out of the class and his parents called.
This was the first time being led to the office by a furious Dean.
But he wasn’t very nervous, he only felt pleasant.
He felt great.
It was very stress relieving.
“Huo Ran.” Kou Chen called him quietly from behind.
“Hm” Huo Ran turned around.
“Awesome.” Kou Chen said.
“What are we gonna say” Jiang Lei whispered, “Should we come up with something”
“Let’s just tell the truth.” Xu Zhifan said.
“It’s not really anything bad, and we weren’t the ones that started it.”
“Okay,” Wei Chaoren nodded, “We were protecting the people from harm.”
“I’m not that good, protecting people from harm is just a bonus,” Kou Chen said.
“I just wanted to beat them up.”
“You better not say that.” Xu Chuan looked at him, “You have to say that you can’t stand to see bullying happen.”
“…Okay then.” Kou Chen smiled, before frowning, “My dad’s gonna kill me.”
“If they’re calling our parents, you can call your sister,” Xu Chuan said.
“That counts, right”
“You think she’s better than my dad” Kou Chen said.
“At least my dad doesn’t use weapons, my sister would throw the doghouse at me if she gets really heated!”
The Dean’s office was kinda small, becoming cramped as over ten people filed in.
The tall one and his three friends weren’t in the same class as Liu Yu and Zhou Haichao either, so with the Dean and three teachers, it felt like a fight would break out any second.
“Find a place to sit, you can squat down on the floor too.” The Dean said.
“It’s nothing much,” Kou Chen said.
“I just can’t stand to see them bully people.”
“Bullying who” Liu Yu glared at him.
“If you don’t know, you can go ask your big boss Li Jiaying.” Kou Chen said.
“Aren’t you guys her little cronies, what with your dedication to fight for her and all.”
“Li Jiaying” Mr.
Lu was surprised.
“Is she in your class” The Dean asked.
“Yes, the English class representative.” Mr.
“Her grades are very impressive…”
“Her bullying skills are very impressive too.” Huo Ran said.
Lu frowned and glanced at him.
“You can ask anyone from their class.” Xu Zhifan said.
“There has to be someone that knows she’s starving He Hua.”
Lu was shocked.
“Don’t just say stuff like that!” One of them yelled.
“I already said it.” Xu Zhifan said.
“Quiet down! Are you going to start a fight in here too!” The Dean raised his voice and frowned, “Separate them, so they can each tell their side of the story.” He waved them off.
Someone knocked on the door.
The Dean went and opened it: “Do you need help with something”
“Good afternoon, I’m from the second year Humanities 3 class.” A girl’s voice sounded, “My name is Lu Huan.”
“Holy **” They all exclaimed in shock.
“Language!” Old Yuan glared at him.
“I’m here to attest,” Lu Huan said.
“I gathered a few other students too, we want to defend Kou Chen and the others.”
Huo Ran turned to Kou Chen: “Fuck”
“Again with that!” Old Yuan smacked Huo Ran’s shoulder, walking to the door, “Lu Huan is the class president for Ms.
“To defend them over the fight” The Dean asked.
“For why they fought.
I know the reason.” Lu Huan said.
“It was for justice.”
Kou Chen turned to stifle a laugh.
Lu Huan was usually pretty quiet, but now, perhaps out of nervousness, she’s talking to the Dean like she was about to be martyred.
After stifling his laugh, he felt grateful.
The few of them shared a glance.
None of them would’ve guessed that Lu Huan would do something like this, seeing as they weren’t even in the same class anymore, and with the previous conflict they had with Humanities 3.
“Quite a lot of people know this actually,” Lu Huan entered the office.
She was a bit nervous, but she spoke loudly.
“They might be scared, since they have a lot of people, or they think that it’s none of their business… If nothing happened today, I probably wouldn’t have… spoken up either.”
“It’s alright, you can talk to me alone.” The Dean spoke gently to her, but he still turned to yell at them, “Go back with your teachers and explain everything to them!”
For Fuzhong, a fight in the cafeteria wasn’t a small matter in itself, but now it had involved a ‘good student’.
They all followed their respective teachers back to their own offices.
Huo Ran and the others followed Old Yuan.
He wasn’t like the Dean, he was calm throughout it all.
It didn’t take long for them to explain themselves, it was just that Huo Ran was a bit tired.
Kou Chen wouldn’t speak, so he described Kou Chen’s damn actions, and he had to avoid some minor details too…
“How much money did they take” That was the first problem Old Yuan addressed.
“I don’t know.” Kou Chen looked completely unbothered.
Seeing that Old Yuan didn’t believe him, he sighed.
“I really don’t know, I didn’t count it after my dad gave it to me.”
“It’s fine, I’ll find out later.” Old Yuan took out his wallet, “Do you still have money to eat You can take some of mine for now…”
“Ah!” Kou Chen leaped out of his chair, “I do, I do, I do, don’t, don’t, don’t… Thank you Mr.
Yuan, I really do, I still have money left over from last semester.”
“Oh.” Old Yuan looked at him, “Don’t force yourself, let me know if you run out.”
“I promise.” Kou Chen nodded.
Old Yuan tucked away his wallet and swept his gaze across all of them: “I believe that you’re telling the truth, and I have to say it’s great that you’re all fighting against injustice.”
They all waited for the “but”.
“But the problem is in how you chose to deal with it.” Old Yuan said.
“I know that kids your age think that ‘telling the teacher’ about everything is embarrassing and cowardly, but stuff like this you should still report it to us first.”
They stayed silent for a moment, before Xu Zhifan cleared his throat: “Actually, I just felt like nothing would come of reporting it.
It’s not like they were beating her up, Hu Yi saw them kick her once but she was probably fine.
And He Hua hadn’t asked for help, so it wouldn’t look so serious… Li Jiaying gets good grades and is a class representative, Mr.
Lu looked completely surprised about it, so he probably still thinks she’s a good student.
So if we really reported it, who knows what would come out of it.”
Old Yuan didn’t say anything.
He nodded after a long while, before sighing: “Your thoughts… as for students not trusting in the teachers, is something we as teachers should be reflecting on.
But I still have to stress that while I can’t promise the same for other teachers, I assure you that I won’t let you down.”
Old Yuan stood up and patted them on the shoulder one by one.
“We still have two years, we can grow closer little by little and learn to trust each other.”
They chatted for a bit after that, and then they left the office.
It had already been ten minutes since class began, but there were still people waiting outside for them, mostly from their class.
Out of the corner of his eye, Huo Ran saw Kou Chen start walking properly again, like he came with background music playing.
“What happened” Someone whispered.
“Nothing much,” Jiang Lei whispered back, “We’ve been let off…”
“Go back to class first, you can talk about everything later.
Aren’t you scared the Dean will hear” Old Yuan said.
“I’ll come find you if we need anything else.”
“Are we going to get punished” Jiang Lei.
“It’s been many years since Fuzhong has seen such a serious fight.” Old Yuan looked at him.
“You should all prepare for your parents to be called.”
Leaving the office building, Huo Ran glanced at the Dean’s office.
The Dean was scarily intimidating, and Liu Yu and the others had their heads down.
Two of them squatted on the floor because there weren’t enough chairs.
The scene looked familiar.
It would be even more familiar if they held their heads in their hands.
“I guess the fallout was too serious even if we had good intentions.” Jiang Lei said.
“Probably can’t escape punishment now.”
“Who’s scared of that” Wei Chaoren, “If we get punished then we get punished.”
“I’m not scared…” Jiang Lei said.
“He’s just excited.” Xu Zhifan said.
“All he dreams about is getting punished.”
“If it isn’t for my best bro.” Jiang Lei stuck his thumb up at him, “You get me so well.”
“Kou Chen, do you need to come hide out at my house if your dad finds out I feel like he’s gonna come to the dorms and hunt you down to make into sausages.” Wei Chaoren looked at Kou Chen.
“It’s fine.” Kou Chen said.
“I’ve gotten punished like this before, he’s used to it.”
“Damn, what for” Huo Ran was a bit surprised, so he blurted out, “For hitting a teacher”
Kou Chen glanced at him, and raised an eyebrow.
His voice took on a show-offy tone inside the unbotheredness: “That’s nothing.”
“Pretend I didn’t ask.” Huo Ran said.
He’s not gonna forget to brag even at a time like this!
The problem wasn’t even resolved after the whole afternoon, but Old Yuan didn’t call them for anything else either.
That meant Li Jiaying and her gang couldn’t come up with a good enough excuse.
They wanted to go visit Humanities 3 to thank Lu Huan, but after talking about it they were afraid it would cause trouble.
“One of you guys send her a message,” Huo Ran said.
“We can’t not say thank you.”
Kou Chen took out his phone.
He found Lu Huan in the old class group chat and added her: “A model student like her would probably only check her phone after school…”
Before he could finish, his phone dinged.
Lu Huan had already accepted his friend request.
“Not that model after all, it looks like.” Jiang Lei said.
“What should I say” Kou Chen stared at the screen.
“Just… Thank you” Huo Ran thought about it, “And…”
Halfway through his sentence, Kou Chen had already typed out the two words and sent it over.
Huo Ran looked at him: “Just like that”
“We can treat her to a meal” Kou Chen asked.
“Just that feels awkward as hell.”
-No problem it’s the right thing to do
Lu Huan replied.
Huo Ran looked at the awkward and polite messages.
He didn’t know what else to say, so he could only wave it off: “We can talk to her after school.
During the last class, some of them couldn’t resist any longer so they ran over to the Dean’s office, bringing back the news that they weren’t there anymore.
Old Yuan came over to them as they made their way to the cafeteria after school: “You guys, call your parents over for a chat after the break.”
“Is it resolved” Xu Chuan asked.
“It’s not that simple.” Old Yuan said.
“Don’t dwell on it too much, but you absolutely cannot resort to such violence in the future.”
“We know…” They sighed.
At dinner, neither Li Jiaying or He Hua showed up in the cafeteria.
The Seven of them picked a seat at the very edge but were still surrounded by people.
Huo Ran wasn’t really used to being surrounded like this.
He never felt nervous seeing everyone crowded in the stands when he played basketball, so he could only try to tune everyone out.
“Kou Chen,” Wei Chaoren drank his soup, “What if Li Jiaying really did hit your face”
“That’s impossible,” Kou Chen, “She slaps like it’s in slow motion.”
“I’m just saying, what if!” Wei Chaoren said, “Would you hit her back.”
“Nonsense, who cares if it’s a guy or girl when you get slapped in the face.” Kou Chen said.
“In a fight, there’s three types of people.
Man, woman, and the ones that hit my face.”
Huo Ran laughed and almost choked, turning around to cough.
Kou Chen smacked him on the back a few times: “How did you become basketball captain when you can’t even eat without choking”
“Fuck off.” His smacks made him cough a few more times.
“Today’s quite memorable,” Jiang Lei said out of nowhere, “Although we were in a fight today, it was for the sake of justice!”
They all stayed silent for a few seconds, before collectively nodding their heads.
“Lu Huan.” Wei Chaoren suddenly stood up, waving at the door.
They all turned around, and Lu Huan walked over with a smile.
“Are you guys okay Did they say how they’re gonna deal with it yet”
“We have to call our parents over after break.” Xu Chuan said.
“Thanks for today, also… Didn’t you say some other people were willing to speak up too Who were they, we have to thank them too.”
“It’s nothing.” Lu Huan was a bit embarrassed, “I didn’t have the time to call anyone then, it’s my roommates who all know, so they can speak for you too.
I’ll just tell them later.
A lot of people know anyways, it’s just that no one wanted to say anything.”
“Good for you,” Jiang Lei said, “You made it up on the spot”
“I was worried it would take too long to gather other people,” Lu Huan smiled shyly.
“Besides, I was pretty excited too, so I wasn’t thinking about it.
My hands were even shaking when I knocked on the door.”
Lu Huan glanced behind her.
There were a couple girls saving her a spot and looking over.
She took a few steps away before turning back: “I’m gonna go eat now, everyone thinks you guys were really cool today!”
Jiang Lei turned back to them as she sat down, banging the table softly: “Kou Chen, Kou Chen.”
“I’ll add you in the group chat, you can add her yourself.” Kou Chen glanced at him, taking out his phone.
“You’re so understanding.” Jiang Lei rubbed his hands together.
So he could take the newbies camping in peace, Huo Ran planned to tell his parents about the fight at the end of the break.
He wasn’t worried about his dad, but if his mom knew, she would probably buy a satellite phone to nag at him.
“Stay safe.” His mom said.
As opposed to fighting, his mom was fine with him going hiking and camping alone.
She didn’t have much to say apart from the ‘stay safe’.
His dad was thorough, and asked about the route, the destination, the rest stops, everyone’s phone numbers, and then he looked over all the equipment.
“With newbies, you should find a campsite if you can.” His dad studied the map.
“There’s an abandoned one at the creek, and one here at Baimao Hill, we’ve been here before.”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded.
He’d been there before.
Most newbies didn’t know of this place, it was a resting ground for veteran campers.
The two times he and his dad went, they ran into other people.
It made you feel pretty relieved to see other people out there in the middle of nowhere.
Huo Ran left the house at eight, biking over to Kou Chen’s.
They would pass by Kou Chen’s house on the way, so Huo Ran told them not to come pick him up, he would go to theirs first.
That way it was easier.
He’d prefer not to take detours.
The journey started the moment he stepped out the door.
Every step was an adventure, even if it were just in the neighbourhood, in the city.
Kou Chen lived in the best neighbourhood up north.
Huo Ran wasn’t shocked, seeing as he was someone who threw out handfuls of money without even counting it.
At the entrance, he called Kou Chen.
Not even a minute later, Kou Chen came running out: “Did you eat breakfast yet”
“Yeah.” Huo Ran said.
“Come on,” Kou Chen looked at his bike, “Can you take another person along on your bike Someone can stand on the back wheel”
“You’re too heavy.” Huo Ran said.
“Fuck, I’m not fat.” Kou Chen said.
“Get off, let me ride it.
I have to start saving my stamina.”
“…Don’t you think your stamina is a bit too low” Huo Ran got off his bike.
“Fighting is tiring work.” Kou Chen got on and pedaled slowly.
“Don’t bring up the fight to my family, I haven’t told them yet.”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded.
Huo Ran’s mental image of Kou Chen’s dad was like a butcher.
Since Kou Chen always went on about how he’s gonna get ground up into sausage meat.
But he didn’t see him today.
Only his mom stood outside the garage.
She looked a lot like Kou Xiao, you could say they were sisters even.
“It’s Ranran, right” Kou Chen’s mom asked.
“Good morning, Miss.” Huo Ran answered, trying to correct her, “I’m Huo Ran.”
“Ranran,” Kou Xiao threw her bag into the car and called to him, “We have to park in some village and then hike into the mountains, right”
“Yup.” Huo Ran sighed.
“Ranran,” Kou Chen’s mom took his hand, “Come inside and sit”
“It’s okay, Miss.” Huo Ran said, “We’ll go as soon as everything is loaded, it’s better to leave early.”
“I see, then I’ll get you guys some fruit to take with you,” Kou Chen’s mom patted his hand and went into the yard.
“Ranran,” Kou Chen walked over, putting an arm around his shoulders, “You can put your bike in the garage.”
“…Okay,” Huo Ran looked at him, “What did you call me”
“Ranran,” Kou Chen repeated haughtily, but he took his arm back and asked, “Wanna see my dog’
“Yes,” Huo Ran immediately answered, attention successfully taken off of the problem of what he had just called him.
Kou Chen put his fingers to his mouth and whistled.
A dog barked, and right after that an Alaskan jumped over the fence.
It was a large dog, and it jumped right over without falling.
“This is your Gege!” Kou Chen pointed at Huo Ran.
The dog wagged his tail and barked at Huo Ran.
“He’s pretty trained,” Huo Ran said, “Can I pet him”
“Sure, this dog’s an idiot, he’ll let anyone pet him.” Kou Chen rubbed the dog’s ears.
“Let Gege pet you.”
“What’s its name” Huo Ran reached out, letting the dog sniff his hand first.
“Kou Shuaishuai, we call him Shuaishuai,” Kou Chen said.
“Good name, right”
“…Ah.” Huo Ran looked at the… Kou Shuaishuai who just put its head next to his hand.
He pet the top of its head.
Kou Chen even spoke such a name proudly, “You’re so good at naming things.”
Kou Shuaishuai flattened his ears happily.
Huo Ran couldn’t help but take its head in his hands and start rubbing.
Kou Shuaishuai loved the attention, eyes narrowing into slits, rubbing his leg.
“Is it a boy” Huo Ran kneeled down and hugged it, burying his face into its neck.
“Mhm.” Kou Chen kneeled down too, squishing the dog’s paws.
“Isn’t he cute”
“Cute.” Huo Ran nodded.
“He has another nickname,” Kou Chen said.
“It’s Little Cutie.”
“Fuck off!” Huo Ran hissed.
Kou Chen couldn’t stop laughing.
Kou Chen’s mom probably had some misconceptions about their trip this time.
Apart from the fruit, she had shoved quite some food into the car.
Huo Ran even saw a box of milk.
“We have to keep all that in the car,” Huo Ran said as they drove out of the neighbourhood.
“We can’t carry it all.”
“It’s fine, we can just leave it in the car.
That’s just how my mom is.” Kou Xiao said.
“She has no concept of camping.”
“Aren’t you the same” Kou Chen was still the same as ever.
He leaned against Huo Ran and took out his phone.
“You would’ve brought ten pounds of makeup and skincare if I hadn’t stopped you.”
“I didn’t even bring sunscreen, okay!” Kou Xiao was unhappy.
“We’ll be in the mountains most of the time.” Old Yang comforted her.
“There won’t be much sun.”
“I tan really easily.” Kou Xiao said.
“It doesn’t even take me half the summer…”
“Here.” kou Chen nudged Huo Ran, placing a piece of chocolate in his hand.
Huo Ran temporarily gave up on the thought of pushing him away, instead peeling off the wrapping and putting it in his mouth.
“Look over here,” Kou Chen snapped his fingers, “I’m taking a picture.”
“Wha…” Huo Ran turned around, seeing that Kou Chen had his phone pointed at him.
He immediately raised a hand to block it, “What do you want”
“We gotta take a picture to remember this moment,” Kou Chen adjusted the angle, fitting them both into frame.
He poked his chin, “Turn your head a bit.”
“Are you dumb” Huo Ran was a bit speechless.
He rarely took selfies when he went out.
Kou Chen didn’t answer, snapping the photo.
“Let me see.” Huo Ran said.
He never took selfies, but seeing as the picture was already taken he had to check it first.
“Handsome.” Kou Chen showed him his phone, and started singing, “Why am I so good-looking…”
Huo Ran threw his phone back at him: “Shut up.”
Kou Chen was pretty restless the whole way there.
One second he was sitting up and the next he was lying down.
Huo Ran felt like there was a dog next to him shuffling around.
At their destination, Kou Chen’s restlessness had gone down a bit as he caught sight of the path into the village.
“We’re taking this path” He asked.
“Mhm.” Huo Ran sent his location to his dad.
“The car won’t fit through.”
“There’s villages you can’t drive into” Kou Chen said.
“I thought all villages had roads’
“There’s another road on the other side, it won’t take us to where we want.” Huo Ran took out the map and pointed it out to him.
“We’re right here, the other road is over here.”
“Where are we going” Kou Chen asked.
“This way, ideally.” Huo Ran pointed at the village he hand wanted to go to for their chicken.
“It’s pretty far,” Kou Chen looked at it, “How many days would it take”
“In reality, here.” Huo Ran didn’t answer his question directly, only pointing at a spot around the middle.
Kou Chen studied the map: “Then aren’t you sacrificing quite a bit”
“It’s fine,” Huo Ran said.
“It’s not like I have to take you every time.”
“Really” Kou Chen asked.
“Really.” Huo Ran nodded.
There were three paths into the mountain.
Huo Ran picked the one that was a bit longer, but had great scenery and was relatively smooth in comparison, seeing as he was taking the newbies along.
“I think this path is pretty good,” Kou Xiao was full of confidence, “It’s not that hard.”
“How long is this path” Kou Chen whispered in Huo Ran’s ear.
“About five kilometers.” Huo Ran whispered back.
“And then there’s a small trail by a river, I feel that that’s where your sister’s gonna give up.”
“Don’t say that,” Kou Chen laughed, “She’s gotta last through the night at least.
I’ve never slept in a tent outside, just thinking about it is exciting.
I feel like my sister could make it too.”
Huo Ran sighed, thinking about the two-person tent in his bag.
At the end of the dirt path, Huo Ran led them to the neighbouring trail, a stone path going downhill.
Oly Yang and Kou Xiao walked in front, looking as energetic as ever.
“What’s this path for” Kou Xiao asked.
“To let the cattle out”
“It was a river before,” Huo Ran said.
“Now it’s dried up… There’s a pretty big pit up front, be careful, go from the side.”
Old Yang went first, and then he reached out for Kou Xiao: “Here, be careful.”
Huo Ran watched as Kou Xiao stepped down swiftly, a lot better than he expected.
He jumped down from the rocks on the side, and glanced back at Kou Chen.
“Come.” Kou Chen was about to jump, but seeing him turn around, he immediately stopped.
“Come what” Huo Ran was a bit confused.
“Come give me a hand,” Kou Chen said.
“What if I dislocate something”
“I’ll pop it back in for you.” Huo Ran said.
“If you can dislocate something from this height I’ll piggyback you the rest of the way.”
“Damn,” Kou Chen laughed, “That’s gonna make me wanna throw myself down.”
“Then do it.” Although Huo Ran said that, he still braced himself against the nearby pile of dirt.
That way he could stop Kou Chen if he really did throw himself down, seeing as he was an unpredictable mental case.
“I find that,” Kou Chen hopped down and stared at him.
“When you’re playing basketball, and right now, you’re different from how you usually are.”
“You’re pretty cool.
If it were a girl, they would be falling for you right now.” Kou Chen patted the leg he had braced against the dirt pile, and walked away whistling.