After putting away everything, He Nuo felt hungry. He missed the chance to eat while waiting at the railway station at noon, and only heard his stomach protest in hunger now. He Nuo exited the dorm building and walked towards the snack bar where there were almost no students. He Nuo bought an insulated lunch box2?and other necessities he needed. The shop was small, so the prices were not displayed. After asking for the prices of similar items, He Nuo chose the cheapest to buy and was a bit embarrassed for the trouble he caused. On the contrary, the shopkeeper did not mind and chatted with him enthusiastically. During the conversation, he was very proud of ‘A’ University and painted a bright future for He Nuo.
When the shopkeeper inquired that He Nuo’s family had eight sons, he raised his thumb in admiration for He Nuo’s father saying that he had good fortune repeatedly. He then immediately understood why He Nuo was dressed in extremely simple clothes on the day for reporting to school. Seeing that He Nuo was not too well-off, the shopkeeper kindly told He Nuo that there is a nationwide well-known large wholesale market in this city. From food to clothes, there is a wide variety and a lot of them are factory outlets, so the prices are very cheap. A lot of things from the shopping malls and his own store came from there. If He Nuo went to buy them, though it is retail price, it is still cheaper than the price outside by half. He Nuo felt that this news was more practical and had value so he gratefully took down the bus number.
Before dinner time, He Nuo’s first roommate, Shi Hao appeared. As the first person to arrive, He Nuo told Shi Hao what he knew and understood from during the day. He brought him to get hot water and to buy food from the canteen. At night, the both of them who had nothing to do toured the Haoyue campus. In the quiet night, the verdant and lush greenery from the day turned into mottled dark shadows. The two new freshmen took a leisure stroll in high spirits, with the help of the soft streetlights. Below He Nuo’s dorm window were two volleyball courts and a basketball court, and alongside the left and right of the courts are the main road of the campus, surrounding a garden with flowing ponds.
Towards water flowing beneath a bridge, being before flowers and under the moon3, guys still have a lack of interest in such stuff. They gave up going through the garden, choosing to cross the periphery without taking up extra trouble. Along the way, they found a football field that was big enough and was in good condition, two old school halls, an indoor gymnasium and an outdoor gymnasium. On the way back to the garden, behind was a library and laboratory buildings… On the steps of the library were Guo Xiao and Ke Rulei, who had already finished their tour. These two’s dorm was opposite of He Nuo’s, in the third dormitory building and was on the fourth floor so they got together first. They pulled onto He Nuo and his dormmates, telling them that they have already finished walking around half of the school campus already and that they can continue tomorrow. The main thing is to play perfect4?together. The four of them sat under the moonlight, talking about their achievements5. As He Nuo listened, he kept smiling despite not talking much. For him, this was already the first big step in his transformation.
The second day was a Saturday, and there were a lot of students who arrived at school on this day. Probably with exceptions for people who live in this city and the surrounding areas, all the freshmen chose this day to report because this way they can recover from the fatigue gained from the long journey on Sunday. As stated in the admission notice, the Military training starts on Monday. The other people in He Nuo’s dorm all appeared, even though one of them was a local, he also came in early to complete the admission procedures. After putting everything in place, he went back home in the evening. These eight different lads were sorted out according to customs, seeing who was the oldest and who was the youngest6. He Nuo not only did not get an advantage in age for repeating a year, but he was quite far away from the oldest position – being Lao Wu7. The oldest and second oldest before him also repeated a year.
In the evening, the deputy dean accompanied by the freshmen counsellors and Student Council leaders visited every freshmen dorm room. For these newborn calves who have yet to experience his wrath, hearing that he was also a well-known professor who also teaches undergraduates concurrently, all listened to his preaching with admiration and worship. Of course, they found out afterwards that the widely known professor gave lectures even though he shuttles back and forth. This kind of fawning gradually turned into calm acceptance.
In that short moment during the conversation between teachers and students, the Student Council President Li Mingqi pulled He Nuo over to introduce him to the counsellor. And the counsellor who already knows of He Nuo’s reputation talked to him as if he was a senior. After the Military training, everyone then knew that the counsellor stayed back in school that year he graduated, and he’s essentially still a student.
Even lights out could not stop everybody from talking at once. Every person who was excited and expectant all had a bunch of thoughts that they wanted to share with everyone. There were many painful memories of senior year, reminiscing about their high school buddies, with the addition of a history where they worried over new slangs which incited the others to sigh. In He Nuo’s eyes, everyone seemed to be at the height of their youth and vigour. He only wished to be the same like them, walking under the light with light steps and having a bright smile.
“You can do the same, you’re already under the light.” He Nuo slept peacefully as he encouraged himself.
Because everyone slept late last night, they woke up late. However the freshmen all looked the same, and the other dorms weren’t any better as most of them missed the time for breakfast. So they made do with the snacks that everyone brought, and the seven of them ate a bunch of snacks for breakfast. It wasn’t until lunchtime that he charged into the canteen, being so hungry that he could feel his bones. He Nuo being used to it, looked through the windows of food and then lining up after finding the cheapest. He walked back to the dorms with Shi Hao, and the moment he walked in, Er Ge8?said, “Lao Wu, your older cousin is here to find you.”
“Older cousin?” He Nuo curiously turned his head to look at the direction Er Ge pointed at. With his back facing his bed was Shi Yan with a bright smile.
The lunch box in He Nuo’s hands almost fell to the ground, his heart pounding. He didn’t know why his face turned red to white, then white to red like a colour changing board. Shi Yan walked over with a series of natural actions and said, “Auntie and Uncle told me that you already started school. How could you not tell me, I even planned to send you off.” The tone of his voice was warm and sincere, an older brother who takes care and dotes on a younger brother let people feel at ease. Every roommate’s favourable impression of this older brother who was extremely concerned with his younger brother increased, because Shi Yan still maintained his deceitful handsome appearance. No wait, it’s because after a year of polishing in University he mastered this skill even more.
A long stature, very tall, has a warm smile, handsome and fashionable older cousin, it would be honourable for anyone. Although there was a differentiation between the rich and the poor from the two people’s clothes, it was neglected because Shi Yan was easily approachable and exchanged greetings amiably. He conveniently placed the lunch box he took from He Nuo’s hands and a seemingly unintentional glance caused his heart to ache but he did not show it. He pulled He Nuo over to his beside and said, “Auntie told me you forgot to bring these, I happened to bring it to you.”
He Nuo looked at the backpack, and because his back was facing the roommates sitting around the table, he placed the bag into Shi Yan’s arms and whispered, “Thank you. Please take it back, you don’t need to spend any more money.”
As if he didn’t hear it, Shi Yan opened the backpack without being asked and passed the top few boxes of royal jelly to him, “Store it properly, I still need to bring this bag back.”
He Nuo glared at him, not taking it. Shi Yan stood up, walked towards the cabinets and asked, “Which compartment is yours?”
Shi Hao who was sitting beside the cabinets pointed, “It’s this one.” He was surprised to find that He Nuo was staring at him fiercely, Shi Hao looked at He Nuo in a puzzled way and then looked at Shi Yan opening the cabinet. Shi Yan turned around and smiled, explaining kindly, and was in fact for all the roommates to hear, “He was tired during his senior year, seeing how skinny he was, his family gave him supplements. However, he found it troublesome and don’t like to eat it. May I trouble you all in the future, please help me supervise our He Nuo?ah.”
“Our He Nuo”, at the same time when He Nuo was vomiting blood in his heart, Shi Yan’s kind brother image improved by another step. Everybody almost saw him bear two large halos on his back. Not talking about the chorus of consent to Shi Yan’s request, but they even pledged to take care of He Nuo. As for Shi Yan, he took advantage of the situation and brought up how he was worried about the heavy load Military training, being unsure of whether He Nuo was able to withstand it. When he heard that fetching hot water required a water ticket, and that a person was limited to a bottle of hot water every day, he hurriedly stressed that He Nuo must not catch a cold, and he cannot use cold water.
He Nuo knew perfectly well that Shi Yan was a good talker, he had the ability to be in harmony with everybody in just three minutes. Seeing his own roommates and him being so engaged in their conversation, looking agreeable, He Nuo was in a daze and abnormally angry. Because this person was not included at all, in the University life which He Nuo planned. But here he was, arrogantly sitting in front of him, enjoying the conversation with his future friends. Shi Yan must be doing this? on purpose, he was clear with what he wanted, and also clear with what obstacles was in front of him. So Shi Yan’s first step was to break the illusion of He Nuo kicking him out. He Nuo can start a new life but he needs to be able have his own place in this new life!
When everyone had almost finished eating, Shi Yan then turned around to face the He Nuo who was angry at the side and asked, “Quickly take out the things from the bag, let us go eat. Everybody can come along.” He Nuo internally vomited blood again. Why didn’t you say so before everyone ate? Cunning, despicable, hypocritical. My roommates would of course reject, but Shi Yan said there would definitely be an opportunity in the future as there would be many chances to meet with them. Shi Yan urged the He Nuo who did not move, however if one’s expression could shoot arrows, Shi Yan’s body would already be pierced by arrows and the dorm room would be the miserable aftermath of a bloodbath. Ignoring He Nuo’s piercing expression, Shi Yan pulled his bag over, putting everything from the bag into He Nuo’s cabinet one by one, as he did so he said, “Your body is your own, in the years to come, you would need a healthy body to do things.”
Sneaking a glance at He Nuo, He Nuo controlled himself not to get angry, his hand clenching into a fist on his side. Closing the cabinet door, carrying his backpack, Shi Yan said goodbye to everybody. It’s only normal he pulled He Nuo up, asking him, “Are you hungry, what do you want to eat?”
As they reached the top of the stairs, He Nuo stood still. Shi Yan turned around and asked, “What’s wrong? Come on.”
“I’m not going. Also, when you start school, I’ll mail the things back to you. Please don’t waste it in the future, and don’t come to my school.” In the dorm, he was naturally unable to decline Shi Yan because the crafty him would have a better reason to retort back. So He Nuo made sure to clear things up at this moment.
The smile on Shi Yan’s face was slowly lost, “Is this what you wanted to say?”
“Then who the fuck was the one talking that day in the paddy field?”
He Nuo lowered his head. He knew that Shi Yan was referring to that phrase “We’ll still be friends when we meet”. As he faced Shi Yan’s anger, He Nuo firmly said, “In my heart, you’ll always be a friend. But we won’t be seeing each other again.”
Shi Yan’s eyes were filled with a kind of negativity, and had a gloomy complexion. The two of them looked at each other, He Nuo stubbornly refused to back off. In an instant, Shi Yan’s face relaxed and He Nuo nearly thought that his eyes played tricks on him. Shi Yan softened his voice to sound less provoking, “Ah Song came as well, are you not going down to say thank you? Wang Feng and him specially came to see you.”
He Nuo owes Qiu Linsong, be it when he used him before the college entrance exam or silently helping with his college admissions. He Nuo owed it to him. They did not ask for anything in return, much less mention the favours they did for him. And today… He Nuo awkwardly frowned. Shi Yan stretched out his hand and kneaded his forehead, “Don’t frown. I don’t like it.”
He Nuo looked at his intimate behaviour in a daze. How can this person face him so calmly?
Shi Yan’s heart was equally in pain, as if suffocating in hell but he had to swallow down this bitter feeling. “I won’t force you, we’ll just be downstairs waiting. If you’re willing to come then come, if you’re unwilling then I’ll help explain to them on your behalf.”
He turned around to go down, then he paused. With his back facing He Nuo, “If you don’t come down, remember to ask your roommates to come down for you. Ah Song and the others’ presents to congratulate you for entering University is still in the car, they wanted to give it to you personally.” After he turned, he disappeared, the sound of his footsteps far away.
Shi Yan went to the first floor but didn’t go out straight away, instead he leaned at the corner of the hall. He was waiting for He Nuo, he was confident that he could wait for him. Or to put it another way, Qiu Linsong and Wang Feng can wait for him. For Shi Yan, this was absolutely sad but he had to thank the heavens for giving him the chance to be sad. If it was not ‘A’ University, the him today might only be able to watch from a distance, being unable to cross rivers and seas. There was the sound of footsteps coming down, Shi Yan’s spirits rose, and he smiled.
He Nuo did not spend a lot of time in fighting his inner self. His struggles and contradictions were all instantaneous. Although Qiu Linsong and Wang Fang were his buddies, but the both of them has helped him when he was in distress. He could not just forget about the help he got from them because of his own personal grudge, it would make him an ungrateful bastard and it would be as stupid as not eating again because you choked once. So, even though He Nuo knew Shi Yan’s scheme, he could only willingly fall into his trap.
Shi Yan was indeed in a hurry after he knew that He Nuo reported to University by himself. Shi Yan was very clear on what He Nuo’s thoughts were; saying goodbye to his past and putting it away to collect dust. He was driven out and locked out of his heart because of his betrayal. And this dusty pearl would radiate dazzling brilliance, new friends would fill into He Nuo’s life and this new environment would be the determination He Nuo needs to break away from his past. It is by no means easy to enter that wall around his heart again if it was built up again. After staying up all night and with deliberate planning, the answer he came up with is to attack through other means.
He Nuo could ruthlessly refuse himself, but when confronted with Wang Feng, He Nuo who has received special care from Wang Feng’s mother, definitely can’t go against “being grateful for all the help, even if small”, and Qiu Linsong who He Nuo would “feel the need to repay”9, is the trump card! So Shi Yan who brought these two great assistants was full of confidence. He Nuo’s determination and stubbornness, Shi Yan knew all of it. Which was why he chose another identity, an older cousin. This helped with the future long-term visits to He Nuo’s dorm, even foreshadowing the open intimacy.
It was because all of He Nuo’s reactions were within his expectations, that’s why he had his two great assistants sit in the car in advance, if not he would not have been able to convince He Nuo to come out. Shi Yan entered a treasure cave, why would he return empty-handed. Moreover, this was the first time in his life where he experience such pain that penetrated down to his core. To save himself from such misery, he would not let go.
Facing Shi Yan’s eyes full of undisguisedly affection, He Nuo’s heart was bitter and suffocated. The words that left his mouth says not forcing, but weren’t those actions of his forcing him?
“Let’s go, they should be hungry from waiting.” Shi Yan gently told the He Nuo who was walking close to him.
Qiu Linsong and Wang Feng weren’t even in the car, they were sitting on the curb, in the shadows. When they saw the two walk over, they stood up and smiled. They waited for them to walk over before they raised their fist and bumped He Nuo on the shoulder. “Fuck, walking over without even saying hello. How could you make such a clean break between us, and not interact with us anymore?”
He Nuo was a little embarrassed, defending himself by saying things like there’s no need to trouble with such. It was Shi Yan who came to his rescue, kicking up a racket by saying, “Hungry, I’m hungry. Talk less nonsense, let’s quickly find a place to eat.”
Although the three of them have already attended University in ‘mo’ city for a year, but for the two universities, one was at the far east of the city and the other in the far west, needing to pass through the whole city. The three of them were not as familiar with the west like they were with their school area. So the moment they exited the school, they randomly chose a main road and as the driver drove they browsed through the restaurants by the roadside, not too far away they saw a medium-sized restaurant and alighted.
During their meal, He Nuo was almost always talking to Qiu Linsong and Wang Feng. Shi Yan of course also joined in the conversation, but when he came into He Nuo’s line of sight, he actually only looked at that box of wallpaper behind him. When Shi Yan went upstairs just now, Qiu Linsong and Wang Feng asked the driver to drive along the main road and circled around ‘A’ University, getting a rough idea of the school. It was indeed incomparable to their university, and they sincerely praised He Nuo’s school. He Nuo has only been here for three days, but he already liked the place. He cheerily talked about the knowledge and experience from these few days. As well as about the Military uniform which he received the previous day, which also came with a shirt and a tie. Which was said that it is to prepare them for the inspection after the final military exercise.
He Nuo who talked about all these, his eyes shone and his expressions lively. Shi Yan sat beside him, listening to the rise and fall of his voice, made his heart ached. This gentleness pulled at his heartstring strongly. The moment he moved his hand, he wanted to touch He Nuo’s legs. Regardless of rain or shine, he just wanted to have a share in his joy. It should have been him in his embrace, with bright eyes, as he stared at those frosty lips clearly revealing his happiness. The hands he lifted was put down dejectedly, picking up the porcelain spoon, Shi Yan scooped up some cashew nuts from the celery and placed it on He Nuo’s plate.
After sending He Nuo back to school, Qiu Linsong and Wang Feng took out a paper bag from the trunk of the car. He Nuo’s face turned red in a while, waving his hands, “No, no. I can’t accept it. I’m already very grateful for you guys coming to see me.”
The paper bags were stuffed into his hands, “It’s all given out from the department’s activities, we just got an extra set, that’s all.”
“You’ve entered university, and we didn’t celebrate it back home, just treat this as making up for it.”
He Nuo was at a loss on what to do. At this time, he unconsciously turned to Shi Yan for help.
“It’s in your size, even if you don’t want it, we can’t wear it too. Keep it?ba, it’s everyone’s good will.”
He Nuo shyly expressed his thanks. The three of them boarded the car, Shi Yan pressed down the window, greedily gazing at He Nuo, expressing his unspoken reluctance. He Nuo avoided the scorching line of sight, waving goodbye to them. After returning back to the dorm, the local Lao Liualready came back. Everyone saw that he came back holding two bags of things, would of course think that his older cousin was dedicated. One after another, they praised his older cousin that with one look they knew his family background was good, well-educated and a nice guy. Because in that moment of their conversation, Shi Yan already told them that he also goes to a university in this city, that’s why auntie entrusted him to take care of his younger cousin.
As the excessive praises filled his ears, someone loudly shouting He Nuo’s name from downstairs could be heard. Lao Da, Cui Yining who was nearest to the window, peered down and said, “Lao Wu, it’s your Ge.” Lao Liu was faster than He Nuo in running towards the window, curious to see what kind of older cousin has already bought over everyone. As He Nuo appeared before the window, Shi Yan shouted, “There’s two boxes of Chunghwa’s turtle essence10. I’ve already asked the physician, you can eat it with the royal jelly. Don’t forget to drink it.”
He Nuo couldn’t shout out the phrase, “Got it”, only people in the dorm could hear. Shi Yan didn’t say much, he just smiled and waved, taking big steps to the car. Just like this, Shi Yan didn’t spend more than 30 minutes to build an everlasting lofty image in his classmates’ minds and opened the door of convenience in building a loving and respectful relationship between brothers.
hi disclaimer! I know I have a lot of these footnotes since I’m not entirely sure of certain things and feel that some things should be explained. Do feel free to let me know if you’d rather I have lesser footnotes and I’ll see how it goes. Also thank you all for your support on chapter 1! I’ll try my best to translate as long as I have time.?There’s also an extra before v2c1, I think I’ll be uploading that next.
1?pantry: the author used水房(Shui Fang), a place where they collect(?) water so I just assumed it to be a pantry.
2?insulated lunch box: 饭缸(Fan Gang), and I think university students usually use this to have their takeaway food placed into it. It has three layers to it, a bowl for rice, a plate of sorts for a side dish and a container for soup.
3?before flowers and under the moon: it is an ideal setting for couples in love.
4?play perfect: 一起打p, apparently is to get perfects in a rhythm game? But there was another meaning which is 打飞机, meaning to masturbate. I’m not that sure about what this means, so if anyone knows feel free to correct me.
5?sat under the moonlight, talking about their achievements: 望月侃起大山来(Wang Yue Kan Qi Da Shan Lai), it’s supposed to be poetic. If they are talking about games then, it would be their achievements in the game if not it would be their masturbation achievements? Which I doubt because He Nuo wouldn’t be so calm if talking about such topics.
6?sorted out according to customs, seeing who was the oldest and who was the youngest: where people see who the oldest is and who the youngest is. The oldest is looked up by the others with respect. This is to apparently help with the bonding between roommates in university dorms.
7?Lao Wu: the fifth oldest. er, san, si, wu, liu, qi, ba would be in order of age from second to eight. They use lao da for the oldest, and the other age would have lao + their age, like the third oldest is lao san. People who are older address those younger than them with lao + their age.
8?Er Ge: second brother, the age + ge is used to address people older than them.
9?“being grateful for all the help, even if small” and “feel the need to repay”: 滴水之恩, 涌泉相报 is a saying where one would have to repay one’s help, no matter how small.
10?turtle essence: soft-shelled turtle essence.