Their dinner could be considered quite sumptuous. He Nuo’s family had whipped up dishes as if they were celebrating a festival — they had chicken, duck and fish, plus they had even bought a few bottles of beers back. Shi Yan was very good at enlivening the atmosphere, and he didn’t turn this meal into a thank-you dinner. He treated it like he had come to his friend’s house for a meal, and was rather cordial and casual about it. He didn’t act like he had just done them a huge favour, and didn’t exhibit any sort of false modesty. Even though He Nuo didn’t really talk much, he was always watching Shi Yan with a faint smile on his face. He Nuo admired and respected how he had so many topics to talk about with other people, and they were the kind of topics that anyone could relate to and be interested in. When he saw how Shi Yan was being accepted and loved by his family, He Nuo felt proud of him.
This was a skill that Shi Yan had been training ever since he was little, so he was good at working a room. If he really wanted to pander to others, then he would naturally pay all the lip service he could offer. But to be honest, he didn’t really like them. He Nuo told him before that his parents were very strict with their discipline, but Shi Yan had always thought that this ‘strictness’ was not enforced equally to all their sons. From all the incidents that he had heard of, he had always seen an obvious discrepancy in their treatment. As for the brothers that he rarely came into contact with, he didn’t have much to comment about, but because fifth bro caused He Nuo to get punished after he lost his money, he had always been cautious of him. And those “twins” that He Nuo always mentioned with a proud tone? Shi Yan felt like they tend to bully and look down on He Nuo, so they disgusted him.
As they chatted, Shi Yan’s plate had already been piled up high with the food that He Nuo’s parents and fourth brother had placed on it. Shi Yan didn’t ignore He Nuo; when he saw that he was only eating vegetables, he placed a duck leg in He Nuo’s bowl. He Nuo quickly refused and wanted to give it back to him, but Shi Yan said that there was too much food for him and he really wouldn’t be able to finish everything. He Nuo looked up at his family, then placed the duck leg in his younger brother’s bowl that was close to his. Shi Yan was still chatting fervently with everyone, but deep regret was surging through his heart. After their meal, He Nuo was going to clean the dishes when he was stopped by his parents. His mother said that she would clean the kitchen, so he should accompany Shi Yan back to his room.
After Shi Yan finished washing up at night, he realised that his mind was full of thoughts about He Nuo, so he couldn’t fall asleep. When he thought of how He Nuo had said that he liked him today, the edges of his lips began to curve up. He likes He Nuo. If he didn’t like him, he wouldn’t “give way” to him in their quarrels. He thought about how they had known each other for three years, and his memories were filled with how Shi Yan had taken good care of him (he automatically deleted the portion where he had bullied He Nuo), their conflicts and contradictions. Now that he looked back on their past, it all just seemed like intimate bickering to him now. Shi Yan thought of their fights and how he had to coax him, then he couldn’t stop a smile from spreading across his face. When he came back this time, he knew that he must really, really like He Nuo, or else why would he always want to hold him in his arms and kiss him?
Shi Yan has always lived in a small county. He might be more knowledgeable and has broader horizons than his peers because of his travels from the north to the south of the Yangtze river, but he has never heard the word ‘homosexual’ before. He has never come across anything related to this term in reality either, so he had never been enlightened to associate himself with that word. From his point of view, He Nuo was different from his other iron pellet buddies, so of course he would have a different kind of ‘like’ towards him too. He had always carefully held He Nuo in his hands, so of course he would treasure him. It was very normal to embrace and kiss the person who was dearest to you, so Shi Yan just thought that he had put He Nuo onto his list of ‘dearest people’.
The next day, Shi Yan received a call from his buddies. Since Shi Yan had returned, they lost the mood to go out and play too, so they had all been picked up by their respective families to return home today. Once they came back, Shi Yan naturally got busy. On the 2nd, his mother brought him to his grandmother’s place where he frittered away an entire day. By the time he got home, it was already 9pm. His parents helped him pack up the things that he had to bring back to his college tomorrow afternoon; they packed a whole bunch of food and clothes, and they made it seem as if he was going to a poor countryside area to stay.
It was already 11pm by the time he lied down on his bed. Shi Yan thought of how he had to leave after lunch tomorrow, but he still had words he wanted to say to He Nuo; it seemed like he still had some things he wanted to account for. So he got up, took some of the snacks that his family had prepared for him and stuffed them into a bag. Then he went to the balcony to put some fruits in his bag as well. He looked at his packed bag and changed into a new set of clothes. After he ensured that his parents’ room was silent, he opened the door and locked it before closing it. After he left his house, Shi Yan jubilantly flew towards He Nuo’s house on his bike.
All of the lights in He Nuo’s house were out. Shi Yan lightly knocked on the window in He Nuo’s room, and after awhile he heard a confused voice. He quickly knocked on the glass again before the curtains were immediately drawn — He Nuo’s surprised eyes reflected how bold Shi Yan was being. Shi Yan pointed at the window, then He Nuo nodded and opened it. Shi Yan passed his bag to him first before jumping in.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m leaving tomorrow.”
He Nuo stopped talking. When he sat on his bedside, he repeated, “You’re leaving tomorrow.”
When Shi Yan heard that tone, his heart ached terribly as he wished that he could take He Nuo away with him. He sat next to He Nuo and wrapped his arm around his shoulder, “I’ll come back often. I can come back again on New Year’s Day.”
He Nuo tried his best to smile, “Don’t, it’ll delay your studies. We’ll be able to meet during the winter vacation anyway.”
When he heard that Shi Yan was going to leave tomorrow, he felt reluctant and sad. Shi Yan hadn’t come in three days, and He Nuo did miss him, but he also knew that Shi Yan must have been busy.
“Are you going to school the day after tomorrow?” Shi Yan remembered that he hadn’t spoken to He Nuo’s parents about the resumption of his classes.
“My parents asked me to apply to resume classes the day after tomorrow.” When he talked about how he could go back to school again, He Nuo was in a much better mood, “Thank you.”
“If I see a fatter you next time, it can be considered your thanks then.” Shi Yan’s hand then reached over to He Nuo’s waist, and one touch made his heart ache — he couldn’t squeeze out even a bit of fat.
He Nuo dodged his hand, but Shi Yan moved closer to tickle him. He Nuo pushed him away, but he didn’t laugh. Shi Yan was surprised, “You’re not ticklish?”
“I don’t know.” No one had ever played around with He Nuo in such an intimate manner before, so of course he wouldn’t know if he was ticklish or not.
“That won’t do, let me try.” Shi Yan pulled him down and used his hand to tickle He Nuo’s armpits. But He Nuo really wasn’t afraid of the itch, all he did was seriously stare at the Shi Yan who was trying to find a ticklish spot on him. After experimenting several times, Shi Yan gave up, “Why are you so insensitive? Everyone else has it but you.”
“Everyone has it? So you have it too?”
“Of course, I’m not as dull as you.” He had just finished saying this when he felt something was amiss, but He Nuo’s hand was already assaulting his ticklish spot, “I know how to deal with you now.”
Shi Yan laughed as he dodged, but it wasn’t easy for He Nuo to discover his weakness so he didn’t let him off and kept trying to tickle him. Shi Yan suppressed his voice as he laughed for a long while before he pleaded for mercy, “Okay, okay, you win, please let me off.”
“I won’t.” He Nuo refused tyrannically, but he had already stopped tickling him as he was afraid that the others would hear them.
“You won’t? Hng, we’ll see if you’ll let me off or not.” Shi Yan exerted just a bit of strength and pressed He Nuo down next to him, then locked him down in a vice-grip. It was only then that he realised He Nuo was already sweating from all their fooling around. He touched his forehead, then his neck, “Look, you’re sweating now. Don’t catch a cold.” Shi Yan pulled a blanket over and placed it around He Nuo who was still wearing his shirt and pants, then hugged him along with the blanket. He Nuo wanted to squirm out of the blanket, but Shi Yan wiped the sweat off his forehead, “Stop it. If you fall sick before I go back, how do you expect me to leave?”
He Nuo fell silent. Shi Yan knew that he couldn’t bear to part with him, so he comforted, “I’ll write you letters, I’ll write one the moment I get back to college. If you have time, you can reply me too.”
He Nuo nodded.
“I’m telling you now, you had better eat proper meals, and you have to regularly consume the stuff I gave you.”
He Nuo continued to nod.
Shi Yan suddenly felt aggrieved. He got off the bed and went to take the stuff that he had packed in his bag, then opened He Nuo’s cabinet in the darkness, “Tidy these up tomorrow, you can take your time to eat them okay? Have an early night, I’ll come look for you when I have time tomorrow before I leave.”
When he turned back, he saw He Nuo’s eyes that were as bright as the stars in the night sky glimmer in the darkness. Shi Yan couldn’t take a single step forward. Those eyes made his heart sink, and made Shi Yan submit himself to them. Shi Yan was willing to do anything as long as he could get rid of the melancholy in those eyes. He walked back to the bed with big strides and took off his clothes with just a few movements, then got onto the bed and pulled He Nuo down. He said in a gloomy voice, “Sleep. Wake me up tomorrow morning before your family gets up.”
T/N: My head hurts so I might have missed some stuff while editing these two chaps. Feel free to let me know if I’ve missed anything~
I’ve decided to add snippets of my discord woes to the end of my chaps…….cause some of them are quite amusing. Translator me VS Editor me: