“…Hi, Jiejie.” Huo Ran squeezed out a smile.
“Get in.” Kou Chen pushed him into the backseat.
Old Yang was probably the one driving, Kou Xiao’s boyfriend.
“Huo Ran, right?” Old Yang turned around, “Thanks for agreeing to take us newbies out with you.”
Huo Ran smiled, not saying anything.
He didn’t know what he should say, since they were indeed newbies, you could tell just from them shopping for gear.
But Old Yang didn’t call him ‘Little Cutie’, so he was very thankful.
He almost sblurted out the fact that Kou Chen said they were about to break up and this camping trip was their last chance.
“Here.” Kou Chen got in the car and slumped in his seat, handing him a piece of chocolate.
Huo Ran took it, debating if he should eat it immediately.
He didn’t want to be that nice to Kou Chen, but he didn’t want to be rude either.
Two seconds later, he peeled off the wrapper and put the whole piece in his mouth.
Chocolate is delicious.
Chocolate really is delicious…
“Little Huo,” Old Yang drove towards the exit, “Where to?”
“Go towards the recreation center,” Huo Ran chewed the chocolate, “You can park on the other side of the road behind the gymnasium.”
“Alright.” Old Yang nodded.
“Ranran, Kou Chen said that you’ve been hiking for over ten years, that you’re experienced.” Kou Xiao finally stopped calling him Little Cutie, but this new nickname made him think that it was his mom was calling him for a second.
“How many years?” Huo Ran started, looking at Kou Xiao.
“Ten, or so years?” Kou Xiao said.
Huo Ran looked at Kou Chen.
“Jiang Lei said you started in elementary school,” Kou Chen counted his fingers in all seriousness.
“You were six in first grade, right? So ten years, eleven years… Ten or so years!”
Huo Ran sighed, turning to look out the window.
Kou Xiao laughed loudly from the passenger seat, not minding her image as the big sister in the slightest.
“Here.” Kou Chen handed him another piece of chocolate.
Huo Ran looked at him, hesitated, and then took the chocolate.
Stuffing it in his mouth after unwrapping it like last time.
Chocolate is so good…
“You like chocolate this much?” Kou Chen patted his pocket, “Good thing…”
“Two is enough.” Huo Ran was a bit embarrassed, like Kou Chen just read his mind.
“It’s too sweet.”
“Okay,” Kou Chen nodded, taking out another piece of chocolate, “This is the last one.”
“Gimme.” Kou Xiao reached back.
“Fat.” Kou Chen said.
“I’m not fat yet.” Kou Xiao reached out further.
“You can’t be thinking that you can lose ten pounds just from one camping trip?” Kou Chen gave her the chocolate.
“Can I?” Kou Xiao turned around to Huo Ran.
“Isn’t it difficult and tiring? I hate having to suffer, I get tired just following the roomba around at home, I could probably lose ten pounds, right?”
Huo Ran felt a bit hopeless after hearing that.
He leaned on the door and sighed: “I doubt it.”
Very timely of him, Kou Chen started laughing hysterically.
“Why not?” Kou Xiao cried, “It’s gonna be so hard!”
“I feel like you’d give up and go home before that.” Huo Ran said.
“Exactly.” Kou Chen’s phone buzzed, and he took it out as he laughed.
He leaned on Huo Ran, and put his feet up against the window, half lying across the backseat.
“I bet Old Yang and I would have to ditch you halfway.”
“You underestimate me,” Kou Xiao said.
“When we were little I ditched you in the park and went home myself, but you couldn’t find your way back!”
“I was only five,” Kou Chen said.
“You were in sixth grade, if you couldn’t find your way home by yourself at that age…”
Kou Xiao switched on the music and turned the volume up.
“…Damn.” Kou Chen sighed.
He moved his head around in the space between Huo Ran’s arm and the seat, making himself comfortable before starting to play with his phone.
Huo Ran really wanted to push him off onto the ground, but as he attempted that, he realized Kou Chen was prepared.
He lifted his arm and Kou Chen immediately sat up, scooching back until his whole back was pressed against Huo Ran.
“Can’t move now, can you?” Kou Chen was pleased, “Let me see you try anything now.”
Huo Ran resisted the urge for three seconds, before smacking Kou Chen on the head.
“Hey,” Kou Chen said.
“Let me tell you.
You have to be careful, if it were anyone else hitting my head like that, I’d beat them up on the spot.”
Huo Ran didn’t say anything.
He couldn’t be bothered to move anymore either.
“Huo Ran.” Kou Chen called his name as he replied to a text, even shifting against him in case he didn’t hear.
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.
“Hm?” Huo Ran felt like he was gonna get squished to death by him.
“Ofa’r rtjgf j afca.” Bbe Jtfc rjlv.
“Qts?” Leb Ejc aegcfv tlr tfjv.
Pc jii tlr sfjgr bo mjwqlcu, tf’v cfnfg rtjgfv j afca klat jcsbcf yfobgf.
Snfc ktfc tf kfca bea klat tlr vjv jr j ilaaif xlv, atfs ybat rifqa lc rfqjgjaf afcar.
Ycf alwf tf ofii lcab j vlamt ufaalcu eq ab erf atf yjatgbbw lc atf wlvvif bo atf cluta, jcv tjio jc tbeg tjv qjrrfv yfobgf tlr vjv gfjilhfv tf kjr ubcf.
“What do you mean why?” Kou Chen said.
“So we can chat, what else are we supposed to do at night?”
“What chatting? You’re supposed to go to sleep at night.” Huo Ran was a bit worried.
He really, really didn’t want to squeeze in together with someone else.
He wants to chat?
What are we supposed to chat about?
About the prison farm?
“Relax, I don’t grind my teeth or snore at night.” Kou Chen said.
“I don’t move around either, right, Jie?”
“Right.” Kou Xiao nodded.
“And you sleep like the dead, nothing can wake you up.”
Huo Ran looked at Kou Xiao.
She was probably the backbone of the army against second born children.
“Then we can buy a two-person tent.” Kou Chen said.
“One less tent to carry around too.”
Huo Ran didn’t say anything, wallowing in the slowly growing despair.
“That’s fine, in that case…” Kou Xiao turned around, and seeing Kou Chen’s happily swinging feet against the car window, she threw a handful of M&Ms at him and yelled, “Kou Chen! Do you want to die? Would it kill you to take off your shoes?!”
“That’s rude.” Kou Chen put his feet down.
“It’s not like they’re touching the glass.”
“You’re just like that dog of yours,” Kou Xiao pointed at him unhappily.
“I just replaced the window.
It was covered in your damn dog’s slobber, I couldn’t even wipe it off.
And the scratches he made…”
“You replaced the window?” Kou Chen said up and touched the glass.
“I thought it was the old one, it wouldn’t matter if I kicked that one.”
“I replaced it!” Kou Xiao glared at him.
“I already put my feet down,” Kou Chen said.
“Old Yang isn’t even saying anything.
Are you my real sister or not? You didn’t care at all when you spilled a whole bottle of nail polish in dad’s car.”
“What do you mean a whole bottle?” Kou Xiao sighed and turned back around.
“It was only half a bottle, and I cleaned it up.”
Kou Chen laughed.
Huo Ran thought he would sit properly now that he couldn’t put his feet up, but he only crossed his legs and leaned back over.
“Huo Ran.” Kou Chen showed him his phone, “Look at my dog.”
“Oh.” Huo Ran looked at the screen, “An alaskan?
“Mhm, isn’t he handsome?” Kou Chen swiped, “So cute.”
The second picture was of Kou Chen and the dog on a beach, probably taken as they were running.
Both him and the dog were mid-stride off the ground, and it looked pretty cool.
“Handsome, right?” Kou Chen asked.
“Yeah, his fur’s gorgeous.” Huo Ran was pretty fond of dogs, but he didn’t have the space for such a big one at home, so he could only look at pictures.
“I was fucking asking if I looked handsome or not!” Kou Chen said, “Are you deaf?”
Both Kou Xiao and Old Yang started laughing, and Huo Ran couldn’t help but laugh as well: “You were showing me your dog, how would I know you were talking about yourself?”
“Handsome, right?” Kou Chen stubbornly asked him again.
“…Yeah.” Huo Ran answered.
“That’s correct.” Kou Chen flicked his cheek lightly, pleased with his answer.
“Fuck off!” Huo Ran couldn’t take it anymore, finally shoving Kou Chen off to the side harshly.
At their destination, they got out of the car and Kou Xiao went to buy some bubble tea first.
“Ranran, are you sure you don’t want any?”
“No thanks.” Huo Ran smiled.
“Why would we want it? Only girls drink that stuff.” Kou Chen said.
“You have a problem with me?” Kou Xiao turned to him.
“Huo, Huo, Huo, Huo, Huo…” Kou Chen started singing.
He slung an arm around Huo Ran’s shoulders and pushed him into the store.
The owner Huo Ran was familiar with was at the shop today.
Seeing him come in with a few others, he was a bit surprised: “Going out?”
“For National Day in a bit, I’m just stocking up on some stuff today.” Huo Ran stuck a hand out at Huo Ran.
Kou Chen was still hanging around his shoulders.
He looked at his hand, then at him.
Then he reached out and held his hand.
“Give me the list!” Huo Ran drew his hand away.
“Wha… Oh, the list!” Kou Chen dug the list out of his pocket and put it in Huo Ran’s hand.
“Here, the list.”
“Get the stuff that’s on here, I’ll go look around.” Huo Ran handed the list to the owner, then turned to shrug Kou Chen’s arm off.
But Kou Chen quickly put his arm back around him: “Tell me about all this stuff?”
“About what?” Huo Ran asked as he tried to shrug him off again.
But Kou Chen only tightened his grip on his neck and asked: “About what all this stuff is used for.”
“Look at it yourself,” Huo Ran tugged at his arm, “Can’t you read?”
“Let’s look together,” Kou Chen refused to let go, dragging him towards the shelves of stuff.
“Can’t you leave me some face? If we weren’t going camping, I would be beating you up right now.”
“Damn?” Huo Ran was almost annoyed to the point of wanting to laugh, “Gonna make me fly?”
Kou Chen paused, before laughing: “Why do you still remember that?”
“It’s gonna be engraved in my memory for as long as I live.” Huo Ran said.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard anyone yell anything like that out loud in real life.”
“What do you know?” Kou Chen said.
“I gotta give off that feeling… What’s this?”
Huo Ran looked at what he was pointing at: “A pouch.”
“Holy shit, for water?” Kou Chen let go of him and picked up an unpackaged one.
“This big? Is this supposed to be used for a desert trip?”
“It’s for showering.” Huo Ran said.
“Hm?” Kou Chen looked back at the pouch in his hands, suddenly interested in it, “Damn, should we bring one too? You’re supposed to find a tree to hang it from, right? And then the water comes out of this tube… Damn, I’ve never taken a shower in the mountains…”
“It’s pretty chilly in the mountains now, you don’t need that.” Huo Ran said.
“There’s an abandoned campsite on the way too, we can shower there.”
“Ohh,” Kou Chen put it back, turning back to him excitedly, “An abandoned campsite?”
“The owner originally rented it for ten or twenty years, but then the locals wanted to raise the price so it couldn’t go on.” Huo Ran said.
“It was abandoned two years ago.
I rest there every time I take that path.”
“Ah…” Kou Chen was a bit surprised, “By yourself?”
“Pretty much.” Huo Ran said.
“Then…” Kou Chen nodded, “I remember now, there’s no ghosts in the wild.”
“Yup.” Huo Ran nodded too.
Kou Chen found out that Huo Ran was the basketball team captain just a couple days after transferring.
He knew that he was really good, you couldn’t get the ball three steps past him.
Now he also knew that he was a veteran camper, the kind that’s able to fix dislocated joints.
But because of Huo Ran’s appearance, he was never able to think of Huo Ran as anyone that impressive.
Until now, that is.
When the owner came over to chat, he finally realized that Huo Ran was slowly inching towards ‘impressive’.
Because he couldn’t really understand what they were talking about.
“These friends of yours,” The owner finally said something that Kou Chen could understand, “They’ve never gone out before, right?”
Huo Ran didn’t say anything, glancing at Kou Chen.
“If picnics don’t count,” Kou Chen replied truthfully, “Then no.”
“Of course picnics don’t count,” The owner laughed, “Then only someone like Little Huo could bring you along, he’s the only one I know that has so many years of experience at his age.”
“I’ve recognized him as my master,” Kou Chen said.
“As my master, he has to take me with him everywhere.”
“What a great deal that is.” The owner said.
The employee had brought over most of their stuff, and the owner went to check it.
“How shameless can you get?” Huo Ran looked at Kou Chen.
“Very.” Kou Chen waved a hand dismissively, “What do I need shame for? It’s not like I can eat it.”
“I’m only bringing you along this once.” Huo Ran said seriously.
“I’m not your master, I’m not gonna take you anywhere.”
“Really?” Kou Chen asked.
“Really.” Huo Ran said.
“Suit yourself then.
I’ll make sure to call you if I have any questions in the future.” Kou Chen didn’t mind at all.
“Are you gonna bring a base station with you?” Huo Ran didn’t want to say anything else, but hearing his words, he couldn’t help it.
That idiot Kou Chen, what if something really does happen to him, he’s scared he’ll feel guilty.
“There’s probably no signal out there.
You shouldn’t go out with no experience and without knowing anything.”
“I’ll buy a satellite phone.” Kou Chen said.
“…Pretend I never said anything.” Huo Ran turned to leave.
Behind him, Kou Chen laughed so hard it almost echoed.
Huo Ran didn’t put much on the list, probably just enough for one camping trip.
But to Kou Chen, all that stuff didn’t look like it could fit in just three bags.
“Do we have to start hanging it from our bags?” He said, “It’s not gonna fit, right? And we need to pack clothes and stuff.”
“Let me show you.” Huo Ran began to put everything in the bags, “You can just swap between three sets of clothes.
And since it’s been dry lately, two would probably be enough.”
“Two or three sets?” Kou Xiao was shocked.
“You can bring thirty sets if you want.” Huo Ran said.
“As long as Old Yang and Kou Chen can carry them.”
“I can’t.” Kou Chen immediately said.
Old Yang smiled but didn’t say anything.
“All you really need is something comfortable to switch between,” Huo Ran said.
“Nobody’s gonna be there to see you.”
“It’s my own dignity, Ranran.” Kou Xiao said.
Huo Ran smiled slightly abashedly: “That’s not what I meant.”
“Alright, I’ll listen to you.” Kou Xiao clapped her hands.
After everything was stuffed neatly into the bags by Huo Ran, there was still space for their clothes and shoes.
Bringing the bags back to the car, Kou Chen whispered into Huo Ran’s ear: “Hey.”
Huo Ran looked at him suspiciously.
“If I can’t get everything back in my bag,” Kou Chen said, “You have to help me.”
“…Mhm.” Huo Ran agreed a bit dejectedly.
“Let’s get dinner,” Old Yang looked at his watch, “It’s about time.”
“I’ll pass,” Huo Ran said.
“I have practice at six.”
“Basketball practice?” Kou Chen asked.
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded.
“But you still have to eat,” Kou Xiao said.
“You’re gonna practice on an empty stomach?”
“I’ll just snack on something, I don’t wanna eat too much.” Huo Ran said.
“Don’t worry about me.”
Kou Xiao still insisted, but Kou Chen put his arm around Huo Ran’s shoulders: “Don’t worry about us, we’ll just go get noodles or something.”
“What’s up with you?” Kou Xiao asked what Huo Ran was inwardly screaming about, “He has practice, what are you gonna do?”
“I don’t wanna eat with you two, okay?” Kou Chen said.
“Watching you two being lovey-dovey makes me lose my appetite.
I wanna watch Huo Ran practice.”
“It’s private.” Huo Ran said.
“Nobody else is allowed in the gym.”
“If I can get in,” Kou Chen looked at him, “You have to treat me to a meal.”
“You’d get kicked out even if you could get in.” Huo Ran said.
“If I can get in and not get kicked out,” Kou Chen said.
“You have to treat me to a meal.”
“Look.” Huo Ran was speechless, “I can treat you even if you don’t try to get in.”
“Okay,” Kou Chen pointed at him, “That’s set.”
What the hell?
All the way to the school gates, Huo Ran still hadn’t wrapped his head around that.
“Wait for me in the classroom.” He said.
“I’ll go let them know I’m here, and then we can go eat.
I’ll start practice after I digest it a bit.”
“Okay.” Kou Chen was very cooperative, turning to leave for the classroom.
Huo Ran let out a breath.
At least Kou Chen didn’t bring up wanting to watch him practice again.
Most people had already arrived in the gym, all belonging to the basketball team.
Some were warming up, some playing casually, and some just chatting.
“Captain.” Someone greeted him, “You’re pretty early.”
“I haven’t eaten yet,” Huo Ran said.
“I’ll come back after dinner.”
“Let’s play a round first.” Someone threw a ball over.
“Play a round my ass.” Huo Ran caught the ball.
Although he said that, he still moved towards the hoop with the ball.
Forward, stop, fake, take three steps, and throw.
Huo Ran patted himself on the back.
He loved basketball, and couldn’t quite stop himself after he got started.
After shooting a couple hoops with the others, he glanced at his phone and saw that twenty minutes had already passed.
“I have to go eat.” He tossed the ball to someone else.
He couldn’t just leave Kou Chen alone in the classroom, he agreed to treat him to dinner.
As he picked up his jacket and headed out, the gym doors suddenly opened.
The coach walked in.
“Hey, Coach.” Everyone stopped, “This early today?”
“Practice still starts at the usual time,” The coach said.
“Let me introduce a new player first.”
Alarm bells went off in Huo Ran’s head.
Seeing that it was Kou Chen who walked through the doors, he nearly threw his jacket at him.
Kou Chen stopped beside the coach, introducing himself as he smiled politely: “Hi everyone, I’m Kou Chen, from Humanities 1.”
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