“Fast reaction there!” The tall guy stepped forward again, stopping Huo Ran from moving to shoot the ball.
Huo Ran continued to dribble, passing the ball from hand to hand between his legs.
Just pass it to me!
Kou Chen watched from off to the side.
As he was about to speak, Huo Ran suddenly moved and hooked the ball under the tall guy’s left arm with his right hand, and shot the ball towards the hoop.
“Holy **,” the tall guy couldn’t stop the ball, and he turned to watch the ball fall through the hoop, “Is that move passed down through generations of your team”
“Why” Huo Ran laughed.
“Jiang Cheng did that too, and did you have a captain named Liu something before, same with him.” He said.
“Is that you guys’ ultimate move or something”
“Dunno,” Huo Ran smiled, “I’ve only seen videos of Jiang Cheng playing, maybe it is.”
As everyone else was warming up on the court, Kou Chen walked to Huo Ran and whispered: “I have a question”
“Hm” Huo Ran took his coat off.
“Jiang Cheng transferred, right” Kou Chen said.
“Yeah.” Huo Ran nodded.
“And then that Liu something” Kou Chen asked.
“Liu Yi was in Zhou Haichao’s class,” Huo Ran said.
“His family emigrated away.”
“Then what about you” Kou Chen looked at him.
“What about me” Huo Ran stared back.
“All of the captains left before graduating, holy **… what kind of curse is that” Kou Chen frowned.
“What about you Do you have any plans to transfer or move away”
Huo Ran froze, before laughing out loud: “Nice deductive skills you got there, hurry and take your clothes off.”
“What are you trying to do” Kou Chen crossed his arms in front of chest.
“Aren’t you playing…” Huo Ran paused and stared at his arms.
A moment later, he said: “What are you waiting for Take it off! I’ll show you what I’m capable of tonight.”
“No take backs.” Kou Chen laughed, throwing his coat onto the stands.
“I’m gonna kill you.” Huo Ran kept up the act.
He’s always in a good mood when there’s basketball to play.
“For real, you didn’t answer me yet.
You’re not gonna transfer or move away, right” Kou Chen moved his arms and legs, asking him again in worry.
“No transferring, no leaving.” Huo Ran said.
“The last eight generations of my family have all stayed here, where am I supposed to transfer too And we don’t have the money to move out of the country either.”
“Your family isn’t badly off, do you not have the money” Kou Chen asked.
“Why would I move I failed English last semester,” Huo Ran said.
“Your family is well off, why don’t you do it”
“I’ve never passed English since middle school.” Kou Chen said.
The two of them laughed foolishly.
“Fuck off,” Huo Ran turned around after he was done laughing.
“Stop talking to me, I don’t want to get infected.”
Kou Chen only smiled without saying anything as he rubbed his face.
“What’ Huo Ran looked at him, “Come here, warm up.”
“Do I have dog hair on my face” Kou Chen frowned, “I think it came off my coat.”
Huo Ran moved closer and stared at his face, picking up quite a long strand of hair from by his nose.
“This is some girl’s hair”
“What girl has hair so stiff” Kou Chen tsked, “That’s my Shuai’s fur.”
“Your Shuai’s fur is this long” Huo was surprised.
“Go pet him thoroughly later, you’ll end up with eight hundred strands of fur just like that.” Kou Chen hopped on the spot and ran over to the hoop.
He caught a ball that someone threw and tossed it up behind him.
The ball went in.
“I’ve never seen you before, are you Huo Ran’s classmate” Someone asked.
“Yup.” Kou Chen nodded.
“Huo Ran has never brought a friend before,” He said.
“He can finally play with his own teammate today.”
“I’m a new member, still in training.” Kou Chen said.
“Have you played before” He asked, “You don’t look like a newbie.”
“Not much.” Kou Chen.
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.
Cr ibcu jr Bbe Jtfc kjrc’a vfjv rfa bc rtbklcu boo, tf kjr nfgs fjrs ab ajix ab.
Coafg qjrrlcu j mbeqif yjiir yjmx jcv obgat, atfs uba ojwliljg.
Snfgsbcf jgglnfv, jcv atfs mbeiv olcjiis rajga qijslcu.
“P cffv jcbatfg uejgv,” Leb Ejc rjlv.
“Okay.” The guy called Old Liu nodded, before waving over another buff guy.
jr mfcafg, atfc Yiv Oeb.”
Kou Chen looked at the dude.
He heard Huo Ran called him ‘Xiaoxiao’ again, before confirming that Old Liu didn’t mean ‘small center’, but the buff guy’s name was ‘Xiaoxiao’… What kind of nickname is that
“Are you gonna discuss the strategy first” Kou Chen asked Huo Ran.
“Play however you want, depending on the situation.” Huo Ran said.
“Three of the guys over there are on the same team, stop them from coordinating when you can.”
“Mhm.” Kou Chen nodded.
“Old Liu, pass the ball to Kou Chen.” Huo Ran said.
“Okay.” Old Liu nodded.
“Huo Ran-gege,” Xiaoxiao said.
“Am I on defense again”
“I’m leaving it to you.” Huo Ran said.
Kou Chen stared at the guy in shock.
He was broader and half a head taller than him, at least 190 cm.
He couldn’t help but ask: “How old are you, kid”
“Fourteen.” Xiaoxiao said.
Kou Chen choked.
Huo Ran started laughing: “Shocking, right, Kou Chen-gege”
A middle aged man stood at the center of the court with the ball.
Xiaoxiao and another buff guy around his size jumped for the ball.
He didn’t get it.
The other guy smacked the ball into his skinny teammate’s hand.
They were from the nearby technical school, and three of them were wearing the team jerseys.
He caught the ball and rushed towards the hoop.
But just a few steps forward, a figure flashed to his side like an arrow.
His hand shot forward and stole the ball.
Then he yelled: “Kou Chen!”
Kou Chen realized that it was Huo Ran, and he turned and ran to the hoop.
Huo Ran threw the ball high, and Kou Chen jumped and caught it at the three point line.
As he jumped, he saw that there was someone already one step away from him, and so he shot the ball without waiting to land back down.
“Damn! Nice!” The opponents gave him a thumbs up in surprise.
“One point.” The middle aged man stood by the scoreboard with a cigarette in his mouth.
He announced the point listlessly, and flipped it.
“Amazing.” Old Liu came and bumped him with his shoulder.
Kou Chen started, before smiling.
He’d never played with such casual teammates before, so he didn’t know how to interact with them.
But he thought Old Liu’s bump was very fun.
Huo Ran ran over and clapped his hand: “Nice.”
The game continued.
The skinny guy passed the ball to the buff guy, who rushed towards them with the ball with force.
Xiaoxiao couldn’t block him, and they got a point.
After a few back and fourths, Kou Chen found that there indeed wasn’t much coordination to speak of when playing like this.
There couldn’t be, unless you trained together everyday.
And there was no referee, and the rules were loose.
As long as there were no obvious fouls, nobody really cared.
Basically, everyone played to their own strengths, passing the ball to a teammate when stuck.
Or they would come to someone’s aid when they were in trouble.
Kou Chen had never seen Huo Ran play.
At practice, Huo Ran would always have the old members play with the new members, never doing it himself.
Today was the first time Kou Chen saw him play seriously.
He was like a flash of lightning.
His defense was just as agile as his offense, and practically know one could stop him.
But he would usually pass the ball to Kou Chen when he got the chance.
“Shoot it yourself” Kou Chen said.
“You score more than me,” Huo Ran said.
“You don’t know this, but I’ve missed two free throws during official games before, and more than once.”
“Then how come you’re the captain” Kou Chen asked.
“Because I can take the ball from you, but you can’t touch mine.” Huo Ran caught the ball thrown over from the stands, and prepared to pass it.
Kou Chen darted over to touch the ball: “See”
Huo Ran looked at him in confusion.
“I just touched it.” Kou Chen whispered.
“…Don’t make me laugh.” The corners of Huo Ran’s lips twitched.
He forced the smile down and lowered his voice, “Pass the ball back to me, you go to the baseline.”
Kou Chen nodded and glanced at the scoreboard.
They were behind by four points.
Huo Ran passed the ball, Kou Chen caught it, and immediately the opponents made to block him.
Kou Chen dribbled to the center, and glanced at Huo Ran.
He saw that Huo Ran had already flashed past the two guards, and was reaching out.
He ran forwards and stopped suddenly, passing the ball before the opponent could regain his balance: “Here!”
Huo Ran turned his head slightly and caught the ball.
He ran forward without a moment’s hesitation and Kou Chen followed him towards the baseline.
The coordinated teamwork during such a chaotic moment excited Kou Chen when he caught Huo Ran’s ball at the baseline.
His hand shook slightly when he took the shot, and the ball bounced off the hoop.
“Fuck!” He cursed.
Xiaoxiao caught the ball and passed it to Old Liu, and Old Liu passed it back to him.
He’d missed the opportunity for a three-pointer, the opponents were already in position, and it frustrated Kou Chen.
“Shoot” Huo Ran suddenly appeared in front of him, blocking the opponents with Old Luo.
That gave him two more seconds at most, and Kou Chen didn’t hesitate anymore.
He jumped and took the shot.
The ball curved through the air almost parallel to the backboard and made it through the hoop.
“Holy **,” Old Luo exclaimed, “It went in”
Kou Chen raised an eyebrow.
“Damn,” Huo Ran ran over to him with a smile, “Good for you.”
Halfway through the next game, some more people arrived, but they didn’t have enough to make two teams, so Huo Ran and Kou Chen switched out to rest.
“How was it” Kou Chen sat down beside Huo Ran.
“What” Huo Ran was drinking water.
Kou Chen put an arm around him and pulled him closer before whispering: “Did I play well, Captain”
“Mhm,” Huo Ran handed him the bottle, “Water”
“Just a mhm” Kou Chen took the bottle and drank from it.
“You were amaaaazing!” Huo Ran laughed, watching the people still playing.
Kou Chen stared at the side of his face silently.
“What” Huo Ran glanced at him.
“You have a layer of fuzz on your face.” Kou Chen said.
“…You have it too.” Huo Ran turned to him, “Who doesn’t”
“Someone like Guo Zijian doesn’t, he has too many pimples.” Kou Chen got out his phone and took a picture of Huo Ran’s face.
“Do I have it Like this”
“You’re so childish, we’re watching basketball, why are you looking at the fuzz on my face” Huo Ran glanced at his own face on the screen, “Yeah, just like that.”
Kou Chen laughed: “Am I that cute”
“…Yeah.” Huo Ran looked at him.
“Probably,” Kou Chen looked at his phone, “You’re the only one that’s called me cute.”
“You’re usually too cool and too handsome,” Huo Ran said.
“They don’t notice your cuteness.”
“I— Fuck,” Kou Chen stared at him, “That was too smooth.”
“What can I do” Huo Ran said, “I have such a high EQ after all.”
Kou Chen laughed happily as he leaned on him.
After basketball, Huo Ran went straight to Kou Chen’s place.
His dad and Kou Xiao weren’t home, only his mom.
She got up when she saw them: “I’m going over to your aunt’s.”
“For what” Kou Chen asked before whistling, “Shuai—”
Shuaishuai bounded down the stairs, jumping over the railing halfway down and rolling over to them.
Huo Ran hugged him and rubbed his head fiercely.
“She’s having a tailor over today, I’m going over for some measurements to make a coat.” Kou Chen’s mom said.
“Auntie Wang went shopping, she’ll make whatever you guys want, I’ll eat at your aunt’s.”
Kou Chen nodded.
“You two go take a shower, don’t catch a cold walking around all sweaty like that.” Kou Chen’s mom said before leaving.
Huo Ran started: “How is she getting there The fog is pretty heavy right now.”
“My aunt’s house is just over there, a two minute walk.” Kou Chen hung off his shoulders, leading him over to the stairs, “Come, I’ll show you around my room.”
Kou Chen’s room was pretty big, and a lot tidier than Huo Ran’s.
He didn’t have any spare parts or tools lying around.
Mainly because the arrangement was very simple.
He had a bed, a nightstand, a closet, a lamp with a small table and a beanbag below it, and a notebook thrown off to the side.
Shuaishuai entered the room and jumped onto Kou Chen’s bed.
“Get off.” Kou Chen said.
Shuaishuai obediently got off, before jumping back on a second later.
“He’s not dumb at all.” Huo Ran laughed.
Kou Chen threw himself onto Shuaishuai, burying his face into his fur and sniffing: “Mhm, you smell clean, I’ll let you stay here for five minutes.”
“Do you know how to solve it” Huo Ran picked up the rubix cube on the nightstand.
“Do you” Kou Chen turned around and laid on Shuaishuai.
“I can do one side,” Huo Ran played with the cube.
“I could only do one side as a kid, and then I’ll just take it apart and put it back together.”
“Gimme.” Kou Chen reached out.
Huo Ran tossed him the rubix cube.
Kou Chen caught it with one hand, and started turning it.
“Damn” Huo Ran looked at him, “Five seconds with only one hand”
“Yeah right,” Kou Chen laughed, “You’re the one that’s bragging for me now, not me.”
“Then…” Before Huo Ran could finish, Kou Chen waved the cube at him.
He took it and looked it over, “Better than me.”
“The whole thing would take me fourty, fifty seconds at least.” Kou Chen sat up, “Lemme show you.”
Huo Ran handed it back to him and stared at his hands.
Kou Chen scrambled the cube and inspected it over.
Then he cleared his throat and mumbled: “BIU~ Start.”
Huo Ran couldn’t help but laugh at that.
Kou Chen’s fingers were pretty long, and it especially showed as he was solving the cube.
Compared to Huo Ran needing a minute to solve one side, Kou Chen’s speed was really fast.
Huo Ran counted mentally, it took about just over thirty seconds.
“You can start competing if you keep practicing.” Huo Ran said.
“Not interested.” Kou Chen fell back onto Shuaishuai and patted the spot beside him.
“I’ve done it for years, since I was little.
It’s always been the same speed, compete my ass.”
Huo Ran looked at Shuaishuai.
He’d always wanted to experience a furry dog belly.
Kou Chen made space for him, and he laid next to Kou Chen, carefully putting his head down on Shuaishuai.
“Feel good” Kou Chen asked.
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded.
His head moved up and down with Shuaishuai’s breathing, and it felt great.
“I loved laying down like this when I was little.
Not doing anything, not studying, not playing piano…” Kou Chen scrambled the rubix cube again and started solving.
“BIU~ Start,” Huo Ran said softly when he started solving for the third time.
“I thought you’d go start fights with the other kids when you were bored.”
“That too, but it’s not like I could do that all the time.” Kou Chen said as he solved the rubix cube.
“Don’t I have to rest after”
Huo Ran laughed for a while, before sighing.
Kou Chen stayed silent as he solved the rubix cube again.
Huo Ran stared at his hands, feeling a tranquility like how he felt when he was alone in the outdoors.