Military training was classified into male and female classes for the freshman. Starting with the basic skills of standing at attention, standing at ease and marching forward, although the requirements for the university students would be more lenient, but at least the pace of life for military routine is the same. At the end of the day after mechanically repeating the dull “attention, at ease, march”, in the evening is unexpectedly learning how to tidy up the barracks, mainly reflecting on how the bed is made. The unified bedding which the university distributed out is entirely different compared to the ones in the army. Asking these grown men to fold it into a tofu cube is as good as gently tormenting them.
In reality, for the freshmen, the military training emphasizes on organizational discipline, unity and assisting. Giving the numerous students who just entered the university gates a chance to understand the university. Because the biggest difference between high school and university is either taking initiative or being passive. In high school, there are teachers and parents that supervise and control whenever and wherever. While in university after the military training, comes the time to enter the stage of self-discipline in life, counsellors help assist, not keeping an eye on the students at all times. Regardless in life or in studies, one has to act independently and take initiative. Fortunately, with the enthusiasm of just entering University, the students could still find enjoyment in the new military training.
One week passed by in the blink of an eye, because of possible sudden military operations on Sunday, so everybody can’t leave the campus casually without getting permission. So these people just passed the time chatting in the dormitory. After a week of communal life, they have become familiar with their classmates. In this year’s Maritime Law class, they are the only one. There are two dormitories for the males and females, there are 14 males and 12 females. The class committee hasn’t been elected yet, the oldest in the dorm room merely in-charge of keeping in contact so Lao Da suggested to visit the girl’s dormitory. Some immediately jumped to their feet, there were also some that felt like it would be too sudden and be misunderstood as some kind of pervert.
In the end, Lao Da brought most of the group to take part in some friendly exchanges, but the other party changed to another male classmate’s dorm room diagonally across theirs. Lao Si went to wash clothes, Lao Liu then lay in bed to catch up on his sleep, He Nuo under Lao Da’s lead was brought to the opposite room, he dared not play poker but he took out GO1. In the eyes of countrymen, GO generally represents wisdom, strategy and elegance. Therefore if met with a temporary inspection, there would most likely be no punishment.
Towards noon, Lao Liu knocked on the door, “Lao Wu, your cousin is here.”
At the call, He Nuo came out and Shi Yan was sitting on his own bed. Behind him were two big bags, He Nuo smiled, “You’re treating my place as yours again?”
Hearing He Nuo ask in such a peaceful and familiar manner, Shi Yan was momentarily stunned. The bottom of his eyes showed that he was pleasantly surprised, then he smiled, “How’s the military training? Must be hard?ba?”
There was a guest in the dorm so all the students came back. While Shi Yan exchanged greetings with everyone, he helped put away the items in the two bags together with He Nuo. One of the bags was a blanket, He Nuo asked in surprise, “Our school’s quilts are all the same, what’s the use of this?”
“Stupid, you’ve only had military training for a few days, it’s not yet time for emergency musters. You’ll know its benefits after waking up in the middle of the night for the muster.” Shi Yan’s military training at that time was only for show and was not hard due to school relations. Shi Yan already inquired about, schools like A University cannot do without emergency muster and camp and field training.
An experienced person told Shi Yan that the 3, 5-minute command to gather, they simply can’t finish dressing and tidy up their stance, not to mention folding the quilt nicely. There’s always ways to get around the policies. At this stage of military training, almost all the freshmen slept in their clothes, the quilt folded neatly and placed on the table. When the command sounded, the quilts were carried to the bed, only needing to wear shoes, grabbing the hat and belt then rushing out. Shi Yan was afraid that He Nuo would catch a cold, so he helped prepare extra blankets for him. He Nuo laughed at Shi Yan’s ways, who knew how long it took, how many people envied him for his good life, envy him for being able to foretell things accurately, an older cousin who plans ahead.
At lunchtime, He Nuo went to find the instructor to apply for leave, leaving the school campus with Shi Yan. Since he was given two hours of leave, they went to the restaurant beside the main entrance to settle lunch. While eating, Shi Yan always looked at He Nuo with a smile.
“Quick, eat. Don’t always stare at me with a grin, I still have things to talk to you about after eating.”
Shi Yan tactfully realised the change in He Nuo, of course subtle but He Nuo’s words presented clarity and self-confidence. Shi Yan speculated about what He Nuo wanted to say, trying to comprehend his attitude.
“Alright, I’ve had enough. I’m all ears.” Shi Yan picked up the tea and took a sip.
He Nuo also put down his chopsticks, “Qiu Linsong and Wang Feng’s things, could you help take it back for me, please? I don’t think it’s good for me to keep those things. Even if you guys told me it doesn’t cost money, I still think it’s not suitable, I won’t be able to repay back even in the future. Saying it again, spending money or not, those should have been your things. Could I trouble you to explain it to them for me? I really am grateful for everyone’s thoughtfulness, especially them since they originally already helped me too much, I can’t even thank them enough.”
“No.” A crisp answer.
He Nuo towards this concise answer, was stunned. He looked at Shi Yan foolishly, not knowing what to say.
“If they don’t accept you as a friend, they won’t do such a thing to give me face. Don’t draw such a clear line with us, okay? If they really wanted to make you feel indebted, they won’t choose things given out by the unit as a gift. Actually, this gift took a lot of thought, it comes on an equal footing and you still want to reject it?” Shi Yan added a sentence in his heart, “Besides, I will help repay it for you. You can only owe me.”
He Nuo was silent for a moment, then said to Shi Yan, “I don’t deserve your gifts as well, but I know I can’t return it back more.”
“Correct, you’ve got it right, you know how to draw inferences now.“ Shi Yan ah-ah laughed out, “So have you decided on how to deal with me?”
The two people’s problems which could not be avoided and elaborated was necessary to face. Shi Yan made a joke to broach the topic.
“I said friend, you said older cousin, then let it be older cousin’s friend.” He Nuo leaned onto the back of his chair, “Just, Shi Yan, don’t spend any more money. Be it friend, be it older cousin, I am not willing to gain too much kindness from you regarding finance. If money is involved between friends, I think this friend is not simple. And although I am not wealthy, but my parents and relatives will not treat me harshly, not wasting on luxuries and the living expenses is enough for me to spend. Whether it is older cousin or friend, your frequent visits and the generosity you’ve given, has already happened.”
Shi Yan tilted his head, as if he was listening earnestly. In actual fact, his eyes were fixed on He Nuo’s lips which were moving2, remembering the tender touch of his lips and teeth. He really did spend time on thinking of a way, Shi Yan secretly laughed in his heart, satisfied that He Nuo must have thought of him this week, even though it was on how to deal with himself.
How could He Nuo not have thought of Shi Yan this week? The Shi Yan in front of him represented a problem which needs to be solved. If Shi Yan knew He Nuo very well, the same can be said for He Nuo towards Shi Yan, knowing both himself and the enemy. If not he wouldn’t have undoubtedly know about his betrayal in the absence of any evidence. Today, the page on betrayal has already been flipped. In this new page, He Nuo believes that Shi Yan loves him but He Nuo doesn’t want this love anymore. Because he has a lingering fear of the pain from being stricken with grief from that time, he was unwilling for himself to have another chance to be utterly defeated anymore.
But Shi Yan with this indifferent attitude, I did whatever I could to squash down the attention and care but because of the existence of Qiu LinSong and Wang Feng, it’s impossible to have a determined attitude. Will we just prolong this war until we fall? No! He Nuo will absolutely not let this end this way. The current situation is to chase Shi Yan out, it’s not something that can be done in just a step. First cut of his love for himself. He cannot owe him anything nor can he accept those that cannot be repaid, then he will be able to firmly reject him, beyond a certain distance.
Thinking that Shi Yan will appear this weekend, He Nuo already thought about his excuses. To prevent Shi Yan’s frequent visits, placing him as a friend at a courteous and distanced position. Stopping Shi Yan from spending time and energy on himself, not violating the ‘we’ll still be friends when we meet’.
Shi Yan nodded his head, “Are you done? En. It’s the first time you leave home, was worried about you, so I was a little naggy. In the future, after you’ve adapted, I won’t care anymore. Besides, I’m about to start school as well, I can’t come frequently even if I want to.”
“In the future, don’t bring anything over for me. Whatever that I lack, I will buy myself.” He Nuo added on.
“Sure, but apart from turtle essence and royal jelly.” Seeing He Nuo wanting to refuse, Shi Yan kept his gaze fixed on his black pupils, “There is no room for discussion. I already can’t see you often, if I can’t even be sure that your body is okay, do you really want me to be filled with anxiety everyday?”
Shi Yan’s fierce eyes, a little sadness in his voice, it also made He Nuo’s heart tremble. No matter how ruthless, He Nuo can’t continue forcing. Shi Yan’s sadness was real, till he was unable to continue talking. He Nuo doing this, was very in line with his personality. Shi Yan was clear about his thoughts, now was not the time to carry out a large scale attack. Putting it aside properly, He Nuo that is actively guarding his heart will on the contrary relax a little.
Sending He Nuo back, only then did He Nuo see a car waiting for Shi Yan. Turns out he came with the car and already made an appointment with the driver for when to come back. In the next two weeks, Shi Yan did not appear but He Nuo knew that he already started school. Whenever he happen to think of him, think of how he and himself are in the same city, He Nuo always stop the train of thought in time, banning himself from entering the forbidden area in his brain. That picture was pushed to the innermost corner of the cabinet, but the supplements accompanied him day after day. Consuming it every time, how could he be calm about it? Besides, there was the occasional mention of his cousin from his roommates.
A University also officially started school. On that day, the peaceful and quiet school campus was buzzing. There were noisy crowds everywhere; the campus was bustling with life, the canteen was full of greetings with happy laughter and cheerful voices, shouting one after another, the school was flourishing. And from that day onwards, He Nuo that group of freshmen started to have an audience. Often after afternoon classes, the seniors would sit around the drill ground and inspected them like a governor.
It was another Saturday, getting nit-picked at their stances again and long hours of burden, He Nuo’s body was unable to withstand it anymore. Standing upright under the afternoon sun, He Nuo saw a burst of darkness and it came in waves. In the first lesson, the instructor once told the students that if they really can’t hold on and had dizzy tendencies, they could report to leave and rest in the shade at the side. On the females side, there would be more than a dozen who withdrew, the males would have lesser, normally one or two who would run to the side.
He Nuo’s character has gotten used to enduring and seeing the Institute of Humanities’ Student Council standing at the side of the field, even if uncomfortable he still persevered. In the end, with a “!” he collapsed. The instructor ran over in a hurry, taking him over from the student who helped him up. When He Nuo came to, he was severely scolded by the instructor, “Who asked you to be a hero, standing until you fainted…”
The Student Council of course recognised its their institute’s freshmen and also came over. Because He Nuo fainted, not like the others who felt dizzy, the instructor wanted He Nuo’s roommate to send him back to the dorm, tasking him to drink more water or go to the canteen to drink some sweet drinks to get sugar. Shi Hao who was standing beside He Nuo sent him back, the President of the Student Council, Li Mingqi and the Head of Publicity, Zhang Bo followed as well. Shi Hao is an honest and serious-minded person, after putting He Nuo down, he was going to the canteen when He Nuo called him back. The canteen isn’t open yet, who was he looking for. He Nuo said he will better after leaning for a while, it wasn’t that serious. With the seniors around, even if he was allowed to lie down he would not be willing.
Li Mingqi said he would go to the kiosk to buy some brown sugar, He Nuo was obviously unwilling to trouble him, politely turning him down. Shi Hao then remembered about his supplements, helping He Nuo to take some royal jelly and asked,?“There’s only bees, what about Chunghwa’s tortoise?”3?This was the new name that everyone gave to He Nuo’s small bottles.
He Nuo laughed and said, “I’ve finished it.”
“No wonder you fainted today, I see.”
Li Mingqi and Zhang Bo were both a little surprised, “You take tonics while in military training?” Looking at He Nuo’s lips which were turning white, “You’ve been eating yet you still fainted? My god, what’s with your body constitution?”
He Nuo felt particularly embarrassed, Shi Hao helped him explain, “His cousin said he overexerted himself during senior year, he’ll get better in the future.”
Zhang Bo is the Head of Publicity, Li Mingqi already recommended He Nuo to him early on. The few times the different departments came to see the freshmen during military training, was actually to pick out fresh blood, and also to let Zhang Bo observe He Nuo.
I was reading through and realised lao+(no.) kept appearing and wondered if it might be confusing for you guys especially if you’re not very familiar with Chinese?
1?GO: also known as 围棋(Wei Qi), a game played with black and white pieces on a board of 361 crosses.
2?moving: here, what the author meant is that SY is looking at HN’s lips opening and closing but idk it feels weird to put that so I used moving.
3?“There’s only bees, what about Chunghwa’s tortoise?”: similar names like royal jelly is 蜂王浆 (Feng Wang Jiang) and bees is 蜜蜂 (Mi Feng), both have feng.