“Aren’t you guys looking at the routes” Kou Chen didn’t care at all and continued scrolling through his phone, “I’m listening.”
“We asked you to look at the hotel,” Xu Chuan said with a laugh.
“Did you” Kou Chen paused and looked at Huo Ran.
“…I wasn’t listening.” Huo Ran turned away awkwardly and cleared his throat.
“That’s what I’m saying,” Jiang Lei sighed.
“We’ll congratulate you two properly after Zhifan’s problems are dealt with.”
“What the hell” Huo Ran stared at Jiang Lei.
“If one of you was a girl,” Jiang Lei said.
“You two would be the most **ing obvious couple in the class.”
Kou Chen started laughing happily and pointed at Huo Ran: “See that This is my wife.”
“Fuck off!” Huo Ran looked at him.
Kou Chen stopped laughing, probably feeling a little awkward from getting stared at as well.
He picked up his phone: “Okay, I’ll make the hotel reservations, any in particular If not then I’ll go for a four star one.”
“Dude,” Wei Chaoren bowed to him, “We’re just poor high schoolers, all of our money for this trip is from our parents.”
“I’ll pay,” Kou Chen said.
“I still have lucky money left from last year, and I bet my relatives are gonna give me a bunch more this year.”
“I can pay,” Xu Zhifan said, “After all…”
“After all, it was my idea to go,” Kou Chen said.
“Don’t fight it, I hate when people argue with me about money.”
Huo Ran looked at him.
You said that in such a carefree way.
When are you gonna pay me back for all the lunch money
Kou Chen probably felt his mental complaints, and he turned to him.
But he hadn’t gotten to the point of reading his mind, so Kou Chen only gave him a smile before looking back to his phone.
Huo Ran laid on the table and listened to the others plan their routes.
Three groups, Huo Ran and Kou Chen, Xu Zhifan, Jiang Lei, and Hu Yi, Xu Chuan and Wei Chaoren.
They’ll be going in three different directions.
Apart from the neighbourhood Aunt Hu stayed in, there were a few more that they would be looking around.
“Report anything that happens in the group chat.” Xu Zhifan said.
“Don’t try to deal with it yourselves.
Call the police in the case of an emergency.”
“Don’t worry.” Kou Chen said.
Huo Ran’s parents agreed to let him go on the trip, and they asked the contact information of everyone as usual, so Huo Ran wrote it all down.
“Any outdoor activities” His dad asked.
“No,” Huo Ran said.
“We’re just going around town, I don’t need to bring equipment.”
“My son hasn’t been on such a trip in ages,” His mom hugged his arm and leaned on him.
“Take some photos, I haven’t been there before.
The south is still green at this time of year, it’s beautiful.”
“Okay,” Huo Ran nodded.
“I’ll bring back some souvenirs too.”
“Okay then, they’re hard to carry anyways.” His dad said.
“Just go have fun, don’t worry about bringing anything back.”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran smiled.
“You haven’t told me about it yet,” His mom shook his arm.
“Did your dad cry at the parent teacher conference He said a lot of parents cried, and all you kids did too.”
“Dad really didn’t cry,” Huo Ran looked at his dad.
“He smiled too, I don’t know whose letter he read.”
“It was pretty interesting.
I think it was a young lady, obedient on the outside, but she’s actually a dragon slaying princess on the inside.” His dad laughed.
Yuan said we have to keep it a secret.
I can’t tell you.”
“Alright.” Huo Ran didn’t ask any more.
“What did you write” His mom asked.
“Secret,” Huo Ran said.
“I’ll tell you in the future if I get the chance, it’s kinda embarrassing now.”
“Ahh, so cute.” His mom pinched his cheeks.
“Why is my son so cute”
“Ah…” Huo Ran struggled out of his mom’s grip and escaped to his room.
Before when people called him cute, he didn’t really feel anything about it apart from exasperation.
But now, no matter who called him cute, even his mom, he could hear Kou Chen’s voice.
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.
Leb Ejc jikjsr atbeuta atja joafg j rfwfrafg, tf kbeiv yf erfv ab jcsatlcu atja Bbe Jtfc vlv.
Dea atf cfza wbgclcu ktfc atfs jii wfa ja atf jlgqbga, tf mbeivc’a tfiq la.
“Qtja jgf sbe kfjglcu” Lf rajgfv ja Bbe Jtfc.
“Qtja” Bbe Jtfc ibbxfv tlwrfio bnfg, jcv atfc aegcfv ab tlr gfoifmalbc bc j cfjgys klcvbk.
“Gbc’a P ibbx qgbofrrlbcji”
Huo Ran stared at his outfit of a windbreaker, cargo pants, and hiking boots, along with a dust jacket over his big backpack, he really had no words: “We’re going to a modern city, and our main routes are through the various neighbourhoods.
Why don’t you bring a hiking stick with you”
“Isn’t that a bit too much” Kou Chen said.
“…Your whole outfit is too much, okay” Huo Ran said.
“I’m fine with it,” Kou Chen smiled, “Problem”
“No.” Huo Ran sighed.
“Be honest, isn’t my outfit cool” Kou Chen asked.
“Honestly, yes.” Huo Ran nodded.
“Handsome” Kou Chen asked again.
“Handsome.” Huo Ran nodded obediently.
“That’s more like it, cool and handsome.” Kou Chen snapped his fingers.
“What can’t I be”
The Seven of them didn’t normally go out like this, and they actually thought Kou Chen’s outfit was really cool.
He would’ve worn the same thing if he knew this would happen.
“It would look like uniforms then.” Wei Chaoren said.
“That’s a good idea,” Jiang Lei pointed at him, “It’s too late now, but we’ll still have the chance in the future.
Forget about uniforms, we have to wear them at school all the time, but we can do matching bracelets or shoes or something.”
Such a childish idea was actually met with unanimous approval.
Huo Ran thought that this was the power of a group trip.
Starting from when they met at the airport, all distance between them has completely disappeared.
Though there wasn’t much distance to begin with.
But now, it turned from standing next to each other to nearly cuddling.
Huo Ran glanced at Kou Chen.
Right, that feeling exactly.
A sudden feeling of intimacy.
“They say the best way to break up a friendship is to take a trip together.” Xu Chuan said as they passed the security check.
“We better not get into a conflict, if you have anything to say, just say it.
Don’t keep it in, you might wilt.”
Everyone looked at him and nodded.
On the plane, Kou Chen naturally squished in beside Huo Ran.
He lifted the armrest between them and scooched over.
“I’m not that skinny,” Huo Ran didn’t even have a place to put his arm, “You gotta leave some space for me at least.”
Kou Chen put his head on his shoulder and closed his eyes.
Huo Ran could only push his head away and put his arm down, before putting his head back onto his shoulder.
Once his head was in place, Kou Chen opened his eyes: “I just thought of something.”
“Yes” Huo Ran said.
“Am I wearing too much” Kou Chen asked.
“It shouldn’t be that cold over there yet”
“It doesn’t even get cold at all.” Huo Ran said.
“You can take it off in the bathroom later.”
“Are you gonna” Kou Chen asked.
“I just need to take off my coat,” Huo Ran said.
“I just wore a t-shirt.”
“Why didn’t you tell me” Kou Chen furrowed his brows and said softly.
“I thought it was common sense.” Huo Ran also spoke softly, “A rich young master like you doesn’t even know that”
“It’s not like I’ve really been out much.” Kou Chen said.
Huo Ran looked at him in surprise.
“Never had anyone to take me back then,” Kou Chen played with his fingers.
“Here I don’t wanna travel with my dad, I don’t wanna go anywhere he suggests.
And then I never really had the friends or classmates to go with…”
Huo Ran patted his leg to console him.
“You don’t wanna take me anywhere either.” Kou Chen said.
“…You were waiting for that, huh” Huo Ran glared at him.
“Yup,” Kou Chen said.
“What do you have to say”
“Whatever you want.” Huo Ran said.
“You’re too soft hearted, Huo Ran.” Kou Chen laughed, “You’ll get taken advantage of.”
“What, and you’re hard” Huo Ran narrowed his eyes.
Kou Chen looked at him: “Can you say that anywhere”
Huo Ran cleared his throat and turned to look out the window.
Cities that don’t get cold really are different.
Jiang Lei felt it right as they got off the plane: “I’m not feeling things, right Is the AC on”
“Yup.” Xu Zhifan said.
“Holy **, that’s great.” Wei Chaoren immediately took his coat off and stuffed it in his bag.
Kou Chen could only go change in the bathroom.
“Are you not going” Jiang Lei looked at Huo Ran.
“I don’t need to use the bathroom.” Huo Ran said.
“He’s changing, and you’re not going” Jiang Lei said.
Huo Ran looked at him: “Leilei”
“You’re not gonna help hold his clothes or something” Jiang Lei said “He has to take his pants off too…”
Hu Yi burst out laughing: “Spare Huo Ran now.”
“Just you…” Huo Ran pointed at Jiang Lei, but before he could finish, his phone sounded.
It was a voice message from Kou Chen.
“Fuck, come hold my clothes for me, the stalls are all full and the counter is wet.”
Huo Ran could only grit his teeth and head into the bathroom.
Looks like Kou Chen’s first outfit was only to show off and enjoy himself.
The rest of his clothes had nothing to do with hiking.
Huo Ran really had to applaud his insanity.
“Help me put it back, Ranran” Kou Chen finished change and picked up his open backpack.
Huo Ran folded his clothes and rolled them up before placing them inside the bag: “Why do your clothes smell so good”
“You just realized” Kou Chen said.
“My sister sprayed some of the cologne she bought for Old Yang on me this morning.”
“…Smells pretty good.” Huo Ran said.
“Then I’ll ask her to buy you some” Kou Chen said.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Huo Ran startled, “I was just saying, I don’t wear stuff like that.”
“Isn’t it almost your birthday How much longer” Kou Chen said.
“I don’t want a bracelet.” Huo Ran said.
“Damn, I got it.
I never said I was gonna.” Kou Chen said.
“When’s your birthday” Huo Ran asked as they walked out of the bathroom.
“I’ll tell you a month beforehand, you’ll have enough time to prepare my gift.” Kou Chen raised an eyebrow.
They didn’t spend much time in the hotel.
They all met up in Xu Zhifan’s room after dropping their stuff off.
“We’ll go here first, it should be pretty close by cab.” Xu Zhifan spread the map he bought from the front desk out on the bed.
“Three neighbourhoods, we’ll go through them at once.”
“Let’s go.” Kou Chen called the cabs.
“Do we need anything for self defense” Hu Yi asked.
“Wanna buy a paring knife” Kou Chen said.
“I saw a grocery store on the way.”
“Nah,” Xu Chuan said.
“What if something happens We’re not gonna be able to explain why we had a knife.”
“We’re just looking around to see if we can narrow down the location.” Xu Zhifan said.
“Do not get into a fight.
Please don’t make me feel guilty.”
“Alright.” Kou Chen tsked.
The Seven of them split up and got into their cabs.
They all followed each other at first, before splitting up when they neared the spot.
Kou Chen and Huo Ran took a photo of the neighbourhood gates first, and sent it to the group chat along with their location.
The neighbourhood was really big, and it looked pretty nice.
But it felt deserted, there wasn’t a single person at the entrance and nobody outside either.
As they headed inside, Kou Chen reminded him quietly, “If the security guard asks, tell them we’re here to look at the houses, and we made an appointment with the real estate agent.”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded, suddenly feeling a little nervous.
But the security guard didn’t say anything.
He only watched them enter from his little box.
“Fuck, if I was the owner I would’ve complained.” Kou Chen said.
“Letting strangers come and go so easily”
“There’s not many people living here at all, is there” Huo Ran looked at the neighbouring buildings.
Only seven or eight apartments seemed to be occupied in each building, and a lot of the windows didn’t even have curtains.
“It’s really like they say,” Kou Chen whispered.
“Rent a place in a good area and spruce it up to make it look like you’re living well, but in reality you can’t even pay rent without cheating people out of money.”
“Check the photos Xu Zhifan sent,” Huo Ran said.
“See if anything matches.”
Kou Chen found the photos sent to Xu Zhifan by Li Ling, along with the ones his mom posted in the past.
“I can pretty much memorize them, you take a look.”
Huo Ran took Kou Chen’s phone and studied the photos: “Okay, I got it.”
“Are you feeling nervous” Kou Chen asked.
“How come you’re so perceptive all of a sudden” Huo Ran laughed.
He was a bit nervous.
He’d never done anything like this in all his years of living, and he didn’t know what they would end up running into.
Seeing as he was always a good kid, how could he not be nervous
“Your hands are cold.” Kou Chen pinched his index finger.
“It’s so hot, I’m even sweating, but it’s like you just stepped out of a fridge.”
“I’m just kinda nervous.” Huo Ran rubbed his hands.
“Kinda scared too.”
“Scared my ass, I’m here.” Kou Chen said.
“Ordinary thieves with knives Less than five I’m not afraid of at all.”
“We all agreed to run if anything happens,” Huo Ran immediately said, “Don’t do anything rash.”
“Are you trying to inherit Xu Zhifan’s title as Daddy” Kou Chen frowned and asked, “No faith in me at all.”
“It’s not that,” Huo Ran said.
“If it was just you, you might just back down and run away, but with your friends, you’ll keep up your ‘I’m here’ no matter what.”
“You really get me.” Kou Chen laughed happily and grabbed his hand and rubbed it.
“Don’t worry, I’ll control myself.
I won’t cause trouble for Xu Zhifan, we’re trying to help him after all.”
Further along the empty sidewalk, they saw a few people and even a car drive past.
Kou Chen breathed out a sigh of relief.
Seeing the people and the car, it all looked pretty normal.
It made this empty neighbourhood feel a lot safer.
Huo Ran said he was nervous, and actually he was nervous as well, only Huo Ran said it first, so he didn’t say anything.
They’re two guys, they can’t be both nervous, can they
“The fountain over there looks kinda familiar,” Huo Ran suddenly tugged his arm, “The stone bench beside it, isn’t it… in the photo The second last one Xu Zhifan’s mom posted!”
“Lemme see.” In his excitement, he only realized that most of his reaction was out of nervousness when he got his phone out.
Even his hands were trembling slightly.
When he found the photo, they had already walked to the fountain.
Then, Huo Ran froze suddenly.
He didn’t say anything, only poking him in the side with an elbow.
Kou Chen looked up and froze too.
There was a small path behind the fountain, and inside the pavilion sat ten or so people.
They were all looking at them.
Kou Chen could pretty much guarantee that these were the members of the brainwashing group, they were having a **ing meeting right now!
Before he could decide what to do, he felt Huo Ran’s arm trembling.
He glanced at Huo Ran in shock.
He was the school basketball team captain, a fierce little Shiba Inu that had to be held back from fights, and this scared him that much
Without hesitation, he put an arm around Huo Ran.
If he kept shaking then all those people would see too.
Inside the pavilion, a refined looking man with a look in his eyes that definitely wasn’t refined and more like alarm stood up, seemingly about to say something.
All Kou Chen wanted to do was to get out of there as soon as possible.
He didn’t even know he could be so clever, and he turned to speak into Huo Ran’s ear so they could all hear: “Come on, I knew there would be people here, let’s go over there instead.”