The fog was pretty severe.
As they exited the gymnasium after the three-legged race, the visibility was already starting to decrease.
The school gave them two days off, and those living in the dorms all went home as well.
Kou Xiao called to say that she was almost there, and for Kou Chen to wait for her at the gates.
“Do your classmates need a ride Old Yang’s not here, I drove the small car.” Kou Xiao said.
“It can fit two more people.”
“No, Chaoren and Chuan-ge are going home on bikes, and Jiang Lei and Hu Yi took the subway, they live nearby.” Kou Chen said.
“What about Ranran Are his parents coming to pick him up” Kou Xiao asked.
“Dunno, I haven’t seen him… Probably not, they’re fine with him going camping for days on end.” Kou Chen looked over to the room opposite his.
Huo Ran was on the phone as he packed his clothes, and he shouted, “Huo Ran!”
Huo Ran turned to him.
“My sister’s coming, do you need a ride” Kou Chen asked.
Huo Ran hesitated for a second before nodding, and then he turned his attention back to his phone call.
Kou Chen balled up his dirty clothes and stuffed them into his bag.
The he went and waited at Huo Ran’s door for ten seconds.
One, two, three, four, five… nine, ten.
A whole ten seconds! Huo Ran finally hung up, and walked over with his bag.
Out of habit, Kou Chen wanted to ask who he was calling, but he didn’t.
What if it was Xu Zhifan Would he be intruding if he asked
Why does it have to be so awkward
“Is your sister here” Huo Ran asked.
“Probably by the time we go over there, she’s on the way.” Kou Chen said.
“My dad just called, he and my mom went to my grandma’s.” Huo Ran said.
“Is it serious” Kou Chen asked.
“No,” Huo Ran said.
“She’s absolutely fine, but every month she says she’s sick.
Probably because she’s lonely by herself and wants some company.
Last last month she said she couldn’t move her limbs, and when my dad got there she was doing tai chi.
Last month she said her vision was going blurry, and when my dad and uncle got there she was bickering with another old lady.
This month she said she slipped and fell, it’s getting worse every time.”
Kou Chen started laughing, and he couldn’t stop.
“Enough already,” Huo Ran looked at him, “Is it that funny”
“It’s not just your grandma,” Kou Chen took a deep breath and stopped laughing.
He put his arm around Huo Ran, “I just wanted to laugh.”
Huo Ran told him about the phone call so casually, and it suddenly made him feel silly.
Even if it was Xu Zhifan calling, they’re all friends, so what’s the big deal in asking
Everyone has moments when they overthink things.
“We got two days off out of nowhere, you must be laughing yourself silly.” Huo Ran said.
“Mmh.” Kou Chen nodded.
“And yet there’s no shortage of homework.” Huo Ran said.
“It’s just homework, I’ll copy yours if I have to.” Kou Chen said.
Huo Ran sighed: “Don’t copy mine, I don’t even know when I’ll finish.
Why don’t you copy Xu Zhifan’s He gets good grades.”
“I thought you were gonna lecture me on the importance of doing my own homework and not copying others” Kou Chen said.
“I need someone to lecture me first.” Huo Ran laughed.
Kou Xiao’s own car was a lot flashier than Old Yang’s.
It was a bright red Infiniti.
Huo Ran climbed in happily.
There were only two seats in the back, with an armrest in between them.
There was no way for the Kouskyto climb on him now.
“Thanks, Jie.” Huo Ran said.
“No problem,” Kou Xiao pointed at the paper bag beside her.
“Dessert I just bought a bunch.”
“Yeah.” Kou Chen grabbed the bag and peered in.
He took out a slice of chocolate cake and handed it to Huo Ran, “Here, chocolate.”
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.
“Mhm.” Huo Ran took the cake.
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“Ktfgf’r cbybvs jgbecv atf vfjv fcv.”
“Rb kjs,” Bbe Wljb vgbnf bea, “Gglnf vjv’r mjg, bg Yiv Tjcu’r.
Gbc’a abemt wlcf.”
Cgf sbe Zg.
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Leb Ejc rajgafv yfobgf ijeutlcu rb tjgv tf jiwbra mtbxfv.
Bbe Jtfc qjaafv tlw bc atf yjmx.
“You don’t even have your license and you want to drive my car Last time you helped dad back the car in you almost destroyed the garage.” Kou Xiao’s disdain showed in her words, “How could you still want to drive”
“You have one more year, next year I’ll get my license and then you’ll shut up.” Kou Chen retorted.
“Who was the one that failed Subject Two four times You’ll only have a year left to gloat.”
“Fuck off!” Kou Xiao yelled, and then she turned on the music.
“Let me tell you,” Kou Chen over to Huo Ran and whispered, “The show’s just getting started.”
Huo Ran looked at Kou Xiao and whispered back: “What show”
The armrest in the middle was in the way of Kou Chen leaning on him.
After trying to no avail, Kou Chen grabbed a small pillow from behind the seat and put it on the armrest before leaning over on Huo Ran’s arm.
Huo Ran sighed.
“Watch and see.” Kou Chen was leaning on him in a very uncomfortable position over the armrest, but his expression was happy.
Kou Xiao stopped at a crosswalk and waited for the people to pass.
“Maam!” She suddenly yelled after a few seconds.
“Pedestrians have right of way! But can you give a little respect to the drivers Why don’t you stand there and do a little dance!”
Huo Ran looked over, and saw a lady strolling slowly across as she was on the phone.
“Mental!” Kou Xiao cursed.
As she was about to move after the lady finally crossed, a car behind them honked, probably annoyed that they’re still not moving.
Kou Xiao cursed them as she drove, “You’re the only one with a horn huh! Honk again and I’ll show you!”
“Terrible temper.” Kou Chen laughed.
“She’ll be like this the whole way.
But don’t worry, she’s still a pretty good driver.”
Kou Chen was right, Kou Xiao cursed at everyone the whole way.
“The light’s been green for an hour! Wake up and move!”
“Keep stealing my turn! Is the two metres gonna bring you closer to heaven!”
“Use the signal line when you change lanes! How did you even get your license! Even if you’re not scared of crashing into me, I don’t want to touch you!”
“Jie, need a drink” Kou Chen stuck a straw in a yogurt box and put it by her mouth.
“Pisses me off, I hate being on the road, a bunch of **ing idiots.
All they did at driving school was eat **, huh” Kou Xiao took a sip of yogurt.
“Do they even know how to drive They think they’re so funny tailgating me and driving so close to the road.
If you can actually drive then that’s different, but you can’t!”
“Stop cursing,” Kou Chen laughed.
“Huo Ran’s still here, you’re ruining your image.”
“Ranran, cover your ears,” Kou Xiao said.
“I’m just doing this for fun, don’t be scared.”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded with a smile, “But they can’t hear you, can they”
“How could I let them hear” Kou Xiao said.
“I’m just venting, I can’t let them hear me, what if they start a fight I won’t be able to win.”
Huo Ran laughed out loud, unable to stop himself.
He found that Kou Chen and his sister were both good at finding ways to entertain themselves.
The car stopped at Huo Ran’s building.
He was about to get off, when Kou Chen looked at him from where he was leaning over the armrest: “Come over tomorrow”
“Hm” Huo Ran looked at him.
“Xu Chuan and Chaoren are both coming, and we can call Xu Zhifan and the others.
We can play cards, video games, whatever.” Kou Chen said.
“I’m gonna play basketball in the morning,” Huo Ran said, “How about the afternoon”
“Where At school” Kou Chen asked.
“No,” Huo Ran said, “The public court…”
“It’s so foggy, Ranran,” Kou Chen was surprised, “Are you that addicted”
“I’m already used to the fog, and besides, it’s indoors.
I already agreed to meet up with the others.” Huo Ran looked at Kou Chen, and paused before asking, “Wanna come”
“He’ll go anywhere there’s fun.” Kou Xiao said.
“Can I” Kou Chen asked.
“Yeah, they’re all bringing their friends.” Huo Ran said.
“Come over tomorrow then, if you wanna go.”
“Okay.” Kou Chen nodded.
Kou Xiao drove away and Huo Ran went home.
He ordered some takeout as he was waiting for the elevator.
His mom and dad would be gone for a couple days, so he would be eating takeout the whole time.
When he thought about it, he felt that Kou Chen knew how to live, he would go eat hotpot by himself.
Where he could only get takeout, and it was always claypot rice from the place further down in the neighbourhood.
Ahh, he craved hotpot.
At home, he found the big flower vase shattered across the floor.
There was a piece of paper on top of it, with his mother’s handwriting.
-Darling Ranran, clean this up when you get back, we have to go to your grandma
“You’re just too lazy to do it, huh” Huo Ran sighed.
He picked the bigger pieces of glass up and tossed them in the trash, before going to sweep the leftover bits.
His phone dinged.
It was a message from Xu Zhifan.
-how did relay go
Huo Ran smiled.
He was afraid Xu Zhifan would be sad that he couldn’t watch the race in person, so he didn’t tell him about it.
-first place! amazing, right!
Huo Ran hesitated for a second, and then called him.
Xu Zhifan picked up, and before he could say anything, he heard his grandma’s voice: “Your dad Or your aunt”
“It’s Huo Ran.
Your turn, keep track of it.” Xu Zhifan said.
“There’s still three months before I get New Year’s money, I can’t afford it.”
“Playing mahjong” Huo Ran asked.
“Mhm, I’m pretty much just watching her lose money.” Xu Zhifan laughed.
“Where are you”
“At home, we’re getting two days off because of the fog.” Huo Ran said.
“Is your dad home yet”
“Yeah, he’s showering.” Xu Zhifan sighed and lowered his voice, “He’s been out for so long, but he still hasn’t found anything.”
“Maybe the guy who told your dad saw it wrong” Huo Ran said.
“There’s no way they wouldn’t call home if they’re actually back.”
“That’s what I said, but it’s no use.
Next time he gets some news he’s gonna go out again.” Xu Zhifan said.
“Is there really nothing from your mom It’s already been half a year, if she’s really…” Huo Ran frowned.
“Your neighbour, Aunt Hu, didn’t she ask her family for money They left together…”
“None of my mom’s friends and classmates are from here, we don’t know if she’s asked them for money or not.” Xu Zhifan said.
“And they can’t contact us either.
There’s still no news from Aunt Hu, it’s good enough that her daughter doesn’t yell at me every time she sees me, so I can’t ask.”
“What now” Huo Ran sighed.
“If there’s nothing else, I’ll go after New Year’s.” Xu Zhifan said.
“With your dad” Huo Ran asked.
“By myself.” Xu Zhifan said.
“I’m scared he’ll worry if there is something.”
“I’ll go with you.” Huo Ran said.
“We’ll see.” Xu Zhifan said.
“What are you gonna do anyways You’re just a kid.”
“I turn 18 next year, old man.” Huo Ran laughed.
Xu Zhifan laughed too: “It’s fine, there’s still two months left, maybe we’ll get news before then.”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded.
“Kou Chen’s inviting us over tomorrow afternoon.”
“Okay,” Xu Zhifan said.
“I wanna see his dog, his name is Shuaishuai, right”
“Yeah, he’s annoying as hell.
Turn away for a second and he starts licking your face, be careful tomorrow.” Huo Ran said.
They chatted for a little more, and then Xu Zhifan hung up to go eat with his grandma.
Huo Ran really wanted to ask if they could tell the others about everything, but after a long moment of hesitation he still didn’t say anything.
He thought that maybe with more minds they could come up with some new ideas, but Xu Zhifan has always been the type of person that didn’t want to be a burden to his friends.
If something came up he would deal with it by himself.
If it weren’t for Aunt Hu’s husband coming over to yell at them when Huo Ran was at his place, Xu Zhifan wouldn’t have told him either.
If only Xu Zhifan was like Kou Chen.
The type of person that couldn’t keep anything in.
“Who else is gonna be there” Kou Chen came over early the next morning, and he was pretty excited as they headed over, “Do I know them From the school team”
“No,” Huo Ran drank his yogurt.
“Just a couple people who go there regularly, so we got to know each other over time.
There might be some people from other schools today, met them at school tournaments.”
“Are they good” Kou Chen asked quietly.
“Pretty good,” Huo Ran glanced at them, “You might not be able to show off as usual.”
Kou Chen was unaffected by his words: “What about you”
“What about me” Huo Ran took another sip.
“Can you show off” Kou Chen asked.
“I don’t show off.” Huo Ran tsked.
“Not everyone’s like you,
Kou Chen paused, before laughing hysterically: “Little cutie, you’re too cute.”
“Fuck off.” Huo Ran replied.
This was the first time Kou Chen has been to a basketball court outside of school.
Of course, it was because he wasn’t that interested in basketball before.
But this gymnasium surprised him quite a bit.
It was completely different from the ones he knew.
It had a history of at least twenty years.
Maybe it used to be a big warehouse.
Now there were two basketball courts side by side, with stands in between and all around.
The hoops were new, and the lines on the ground were probably freshly painted as well.
But the walls, roof, and stands made him feel like he was playing Street Basketball.
The stands were made of slightly rusty metal frames with wooden boards across them, and some of the welding was already coming apart.
The scoreboard was made of the same wood, but the frame was broken and it was propped up on a steel drum.
The lights above them were very cool.
Bright white lights hung from the horizontal supports across the roof, connected to various wires.
The coolest part was the walls.
They were covered in layers of graffiti, so much that you couldn’t see any of the original wall anymore.
“Holy **,” Kou Chen got out his phone, “This place is pretty cool.”
“Huo Ran’s here!” Someone waved at them from the stands.
“How many are here” Huo Ran walked over.
“There’s a few more people coming later, you can warm up first.” A college-aged guy jumped off the stands and pointed at some people sitting further back.
“Dunno if you know them or not, they’re from Liuzhong.”
“I don’t know them.” Huo Ran smiled.
They nodded at him: “You’re the current captain”
“Mhm.” Huo Ran nodded.
“We played against your old captain, he’s great.” A tall guy jumped off the stands, tossing him the basketball in his hands.
“Jiang Cheng” Huo Ran caught the ball and took two steps back, “He is really good.”
“He was a guard, right” He bent over slightly, “You”
“Forward.” Huo Ran brought the ball behind him as he spoke.
The hand that shot over only grabbed air.
Beside him, Kou Chen was surprised.
The other guy hadn’t even moved his hand when Huo Ran dodged it.
That’s pretty cool, Ranran.