After the chestnuts and hot chocolate arrived, Huo Ran got out a basket of snacks from one of the cupboards.
There was sunflower seeds, little cakes, chicken wings, and duck neck, everything from salty to sweet.
Then he pulled out a small round table on wheels.
“Do you have this just for snacks” Kou Chen asked.
“Not just for snacks,” Huo Ran said.
“I can put tools on it when I’m fixing bikes too.
“You know how to fix bikes” Kou Chen laid down on the couch.
“If it’s simple enough then I’ll do it myself,” Huo Ran sat down on the carpet in front of the couch and leaned back.
“I’ll take it to the shop to get fixed if it’s a big problem.”
“When are you gonna take me biking” Kou Chen said.
“No.” Huo Ran immediately refused.
“Fuck, you’re so heartless.
You even thanked me just now,” Kou Chen said.
“And now you’re ignoring me, we didn’t even finish our hike last time.”
“It’s getting cold, I have to wait until spring next year.” Huo Ran said.
“Fine, but I’m going with you.
Let’s get this straight, you take me, and tell me what kind of bike to buy beforehand.” Kou Chen said.
“I promise I won’t hold you back.”
Huo Ran sighed.
“Poor lung capacity You keep sighing.” Kou Chen sat up and put his legs on both sides of his shoulders.
“I’ll give you a massage, and then you’ll take me next time you go biking or hiking or whatever.”
Before Huo Ran could say anything, he had reached out to rub Huo Ran’s temples: “How about it”
“…Do you go get massages often” Huo Ran asked.
Kou Chen’s hands were a solid weight as they rubbed his head, and he closed his eyes in satisfaction.
He didn’t know if he was just starving for a massage or if Kou Chen was really good at it.
“Nah, I don’t like strangers touching me,” Kou Chen said.
“I’ve been giving my mom and sister massages since I was little.”
“How virtuous.” Huo Ran said.
“Shut up,” Kou Chen said.
“I’ll squeeze you to death right now.”
Huo Ran laughed.
Maybe it was because his aunt pissed him off too much today, but it didn’t take long for Huo Ran to start leaning back subconsciously.
And he thought Wei Chaoren and the others laying on each other’s crotches that day was insane…
The last thing he remembered was Kou Chen’s hands sliding from his head down to his shoulders.
But he didn’t manage to sleep all the way until morning.
Huo Ran dreamed that someone was out to kill him.
The murderer had a mask on, and he had really long eyelashes.
After he killed him, he dragged his body away to discard it.
There was even a scene with the police inferring that the victim must have known the murderer, since he died with a smile on his face…
Huo Ran couldn’t help but laugh.
He laughed himself awake, and the first thing he saw when he opened his eyes was his foot dragging limply along the ground, and his body was being pulled along from behind.
“Fuck” He started, and raised his head, seeing Kou Chen’s chin, “What are you doing”
“What do you think It’s already one, and you didn’t even arrange a place for me to sleep.
“Kou Chen dragged him into the bedroom.
“How hospitable of you.
Good thing it’s only me.
If it were my dad, he would’ve beat you to make him his bed.”
“Why would your dad be spending the night at my place” Huo Ran said as he made to stand up.
But Kou Chen didn’t stop dragging him.
“I meant if it were my dad…” Kou Chen gave up, “Nevermind.”
“Your dad giving me a massage” Huo Ran said.
“I would be too scared to sleep, okay”
“Do you have the guts to let my dad give you a massage” Kou Chen threw him onto the bed.
“What are you thinking”
“Turn on the light.” Huo Ran said from the bed.
“I’m still standing here,” Kou Chen said, but he still went to turn on the lamp.
“Mhm.” Huo Ran flipped around and sat up.
“I’ll go wash up, you can take my bed.”
Kou Chen had never slept with the lights on before, and it felt a bit strange.
Good thing Huo Ran’s lamp was probably used to protect against ghosts, so the light was warm.
He turned to look at Huo Ran.
He was lying with his back to him, like that night in the infirmary.
“Which way do you face when you’re alone” Kou Chen asked.
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.
“Up.” Huo Ran said.
“Yt.” Bbe Jtfc aegcfv jcv rajgfv ja atf yjmx bo tlr tfjv.
“Glv sbeg ofjg bo utbrar mbwf ogbw ktja tjqqfcfv ktfc sbe ilaaif”
“Po la kfgf jcsbcf firf jrxlcu, atfs kbeiv yf vfjv atf cfza rfmbcv.” Leb Ejc rjlv.
Bbe Jtfc ofia j yla jkxkjgv: “P vlvc’a wfjc la ilxf atja, P pera… revvfcis kjcafv ab jrx, P vlvc’a atlcx.”
“I dunno either, I’ve just always thought that there were ghosts in dark rooms.” Huo Ran said.
“Maybe it did.
They never let me in that room ever since I could remember.”
“Don’t talk about it anymore,” Kou Chen moved closer to him, and put his arm on his waist.
“Sleep now, I’m right behind you.”
“Do you sleep with a body pillow or something” Huo Ran asked.
“No, my dad would mock me to death if I had anything like that in my room.” Kou Chen said.
“Will he see them Don’t you have a giraffe towel” Huo Ran said.
“…My dad doesn’t use my bathroom, he won’t see it.” Kou Chen said.
“Why are you asking about that You didn’t even want to touch it”
“No, I was just wondering, where did you get this habit if you sleep alone Who are you hug-” Huo Ran suddenly stopped, “Fuck! Forget it.”
“I have two blankets, one to hug.
In the summer I’ll hug a pillow…” Half way through his sentence, Huo Ran started scooching back, pressing against him.
He froze, “What is it”
“Nothing,” Huo Ran said, “I have to have someone behind me.”
“I…” Kou Chen suddenly realized, and he started laughing.
He happily put his arm around him and then his leg too, “Don’t be scared, Uncle Kou will protect you.”
For their two days off, The Seven of them were pretty much always together.
First at Kou Chen’s place, then Huo Ran’s the next day.
Whoever’s family was out at the moment.
Actually, it’s not like they were really doing anything bad.
It was only an occasional smoke, and copying each other’s homework was nothing.
Their homework machine Mr.
Xu Zhifan brought his already finished homework, and threw it on the table: “Get to it.”
“Top schools really are different,” Kou Chen complained.
“Even if the homework is copied, you still have to hand it in.
Will you die if you don’t”
“That’s the only thing we can do at the bottom of the lot.” Jiang Lei started copying.
“Don’t be so humble, at least you guys passed the entrance exams.
Just flick through the material beforehand and you would do better than anyone at my old school.” Kou Chen sighed, and picked out a sheet of English homework from Xu Zhifan’s pile.
“How did you get in” Hu Yi asked.
“Money, dude.” Kou Chen said.
“Your grades can’t be that bad Or else you couldn’t get in even if you paid.” Jiang Lei said.
“Depends on how much you’re willing to pay.” Kou Chen smirked.
Huo Ran looked at him.
He could look at Kou Chen’s bragging of all sorts with calmness now, and he could even see the appeal of this side of Kou Chen.
“Don’t be so humble,” As the epitome of brains not working when they should, Wei Chaoren very timely said, “Your grades are better than mine, and I didn’t even pay to get in.”
“Fuck off,” Kou Chen looked at him, “Can’t you even just focus a little on copying”
Huo Ran couldn’t help it, and he fell onto the couch to laugh hysterically.
“Shut up, you.” Kou Chen pointed at him.
Huo Ran turned around and continued laughing into the back of the couch.
“Fuck you.” Kou Chen said.
Copying the homework didn’t take much time, and they were all doing it together, so they could chat while they did it.
It was a lot better than suffering alone at home.
But Kou Chen really did have to commend Xu Zhifan.
Not only did he finish all his homework, but he was sitting off to the side reading as the rest of them copied.
“I don’t see you paying attention in class either!” Kou Chen said.
“Are you actually a good student in secret”
“I more or less pay attention.” Xu Zhifan said.
“You’re the one that said ‘flick through the material beforehand’.
Did you forget that midterms are coming up”
“Are they” Kou Chen didn’t look to care at all.
“I’m just looking forward to the break after finals.”
Of course he knew there were two days left until midterms.
But he wasn’t scared of midterms, he was scared of finals.
His dad didn’t care about midterms, he was only concerned with his final grade.
If he did badly, even though it wouldn’t get to the point of being stuck on a fence, he still had to go out and hide for a few days.
His dad didn’t really get physical these days, but even just his scoldings he couldn’t quite take.
“Are we going out to eat or staying here” Huo Ran got out his phone after everyone finished copying.
“Wanna try the hotpot takeout Kou Chen and I had yesterday It’s pretty good.”
“Let’s have that, I don’t feel like going out.
And it’s comfier to eat at home.” Xu Chuan said.
“If we get drunk we can just fall asleep.”
“Then I’ll order.
There’s an eight person meal,” Huo Ran looked at his phone, “No, we’re gonna need enough for ten people at least… There’s no ten, we can get two six person ones…”
Xu Zhifan’s phone rang, and Huo Ran saw him frown slightly when he looked.
Then he went into the kitchen and closed the door behind him.
Since the neighbour Aunt Hu asked them for money once, Huo Ran worried about Xu Zhifan’s mom with him, scared that something would happen.
Huo Ran ordered the food, Xu Zhifan opened the kitchen door and motioned at him.
“Hm” Huo Ran walked over.
“It’s from my dad,” Xu Zhifan lowered his voice.
“I have to go back.”
“Is there news” Huo Ran asked.
“Not about my mom,” Xu Zhifan said.
Huo Ran looked at him.
He didn’t really believe him, but Xu Zhifan looked calm enough, and he hesitated: “Go, call me if you need anything.”
Xu Zhifan nodded.
Kou Chen laid on the couch, and watched Huo Ran and Xu Zhifan through Xu Chuan and Hu Yi.
Huo Ran looked fine, but something’s definitely up with Xu Zhifan.
He’s probably keeping it from even Huo Ran.
Only a pseudo-mafia member like him could tell.
Xu Zhifan left after saying goodbye.
Kou Chen stretched, and slowly headed towards the window, looking out.
…Not this one.
He turned to the kitchen, and looked out the kitchen window.
Fuck, not this one either!
He couldn’t maintain his calm demeanor anymore.
He immediately ran to Huo Ran’s bedroom and onto the balcony.
He pushed open the window and looked down.
Xu Zhifan just headed out of the hallway, and was in the middle of a call with someone.
He barely took two steps before he started running.
It was obvious that something happened at home.
“Fuck.” Huo Ran’s voice sounded from beside him.
Kou Chen turned, and saw that Huo Ran had appeared beside him, looking down as well.
“What did he say to you” Kou Chen asked.
“He said his dad was calling him back, that something happened.” Huo Ran frowned.
“It might be something serious.”
“Does it have to do with what you didn’t let me see last time” Kou Chen asked.
“He said no.” Huo Ran hesitated.
“Then why didn’t he tell you Yesterday when he said he had to go home to open the door for his aunt, that was normal behaviour.
If it really was nothing he would’ve said it.” Kou Chen pointed out the window.
“Look at how he ran just now, no matter what, it can’t be nothing.
Did he run into any trouble”
“But…” Huo Ran glanced at him, looking troubled.
“Let’s go.” Kou Chen headed back into the room.
“What” Huo Ran grabbed his arm and whispered, “Where”
“To his place.” Kou Chen said.
“What if he’s not at home” Huo Ran said.
“He told you he had to go back home.
With my many years of lying experience, if it’s something sudden, you won’t usually make up a location.
If he wanted to keep something from you, then it would be whatever the thing is itself.” Kou Chen said.
“He’s definitely going home.”
Kou Chen made to go back again, but Huo Ran was still holding onto his arm: “Kou Chen, Kou Chen, Kou Chen… Wait.”
“I know what you’re thinking.
If it’s something he doesn’t want anyone to know, then we shouldn’t be showing up at his house like this.”
“Yeah.” Huo Ran nodded.
“But what if something happened” Kou Chen asked.
“What if he really needs our help”
Huo Ran opened his mouth.
“I’m the type of person that doesn’t think about the consequences.” Kou Chen said.
“He’s my friend, so I will do it.
If he chooses to not be friends with me anymore because of it then so be it, I don’t care.”
Huo Ran looked at him in silence.
“Give me his address,” Kou Chen frowned, “If you don’t want to, I’ll go alone.”
“Let’s go.” Huo Ran said.
Huo Ran thought something was off from the beginning.
He had to go take the call in the kitchen.
But it was just that Xu Zhifan didn’t want to tell him, so he didn’t think too much of it either.
Kou Chen was indeed different from a lot of them.
He’s rash, unreasonable, unruly, and likes to put on airs, but what he just said suddenly made him want to tear up.
He was moved, and felt a bit sad for him.
‘If he chooses to not be friends with me anymore because of it then so be it, I don’t care,’
Huo Ran looked at the back of Kou Chen’s head, and couldn’t help but reach out and touch it.
“What” Kou Chen turned around.
“Nothing, just wanted to touch it.” Huo Ran said.
Kou Chen stared at him, unable to guess why he would want to touch his head at a time like this.
But Kou Chen could always come up with a perfect explanation for everything.
“The back of my hand is irresistibly handsome too, right” He said.
“…Hurry up.” Huo Ran pushed him.
“What’s wrong” Xu Chuan asked.
“Let’s go,” Kou Chen didn’t explain further, “Xu Zhifan might be in trouble, we have to check in on him.”
Jiang Lei and Hu Yi looked at each other for a second, before grabbing their coats and heading out.
They did know Xu Zhifan better after all, they would’ve had some feeling.
Xu Chuan and Wei Chaoren followed without hesitation as well.
They called two cabs and headed for Xu Zhifan’s house.
On the way, Huo Ran called Xu Zhifan twice, but he didn’t pick up.
Out of the car, they all ran towards Xu Zhifan’s building, and Kou Chen said: “See what’s going on first, don’t just run up.
If he’s not in any danger, then we shouldn’t really interfere.”
“Mhm,” Xu Chuan said.
“If it’s nothing big then we don’t have to let him know we came.”
From the outside, nothing looked amiss.
Xu Zhifan lived on the fourth floor, and the curtains were drawn with the lights on as usual.
“It might be nothing.” Huo Ran let out the breath he’d been holding.
But as they walked into the building, they heard someone speaking.
“Eat dinner with me tonight,” They said.
“And then we can play cards, Zhifan will come pick you up after he’s done with his business.”
“Hey, I’m not going senile.” The grandma said.
Huo Ran new the other person, Xu Zhifan’s grandma likes playing mahjong with them.
But they had people at home today, why would they have grandma go to a neighbour
“You go up first,” Kou Chen whispered in his ear.
“We’ll wait downstairs.
If nobody’s getting physical or anything, come back.
We’re mainly just here to fight.”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded and ran up the stairs quietly.
This was the first time he’s done something like this, listening at the keyholes of his friend’s houses.
Even though it was all out of worry, he still felt a bit guilty.
When he looked up after climbing to the fourth floor, he saw a girl around his age standing at Xu Zhifan’s door, and he almost ran away out of guilt.
But as the both of them froze, Huo Ran recognized the girl.
She was Aunt Hu’s daughter.
“Are you here for Xu Zhifan” She asked coldly.
“Ah.” Huo Ran nodded.