“Who would like to try out for the host of the Campus Arts Festival? Raise your hand and I’ll register your name.”
It was a class meeting and the recreation committee member was speaking.
In the midst of his physics paper, Chen Dong Lan raised one hand, with the other still making calculations on a rough paper.
“Really, Chen Dong Lan?” The committee member was in a difficult position. “It’s not very good for me to report your name to the teacher…”
The whole class was aware that Chen Dong Lan was an inarticulate bookworm. Although this bookworm was particularly keen on answering questions, raising his hand in almost every class, his rigid posture and tone made it impossible for everyone to envision him as a host.
Chen Dong Lan lifted his head. “Is there a rule that I can’t sign up?”
The committee member laughed bitterly. “No…okay, okay, okay. I’ll write it down.”
She wasn’t angry. Because Chen Dong Lan had been earnestly puzzling over whether there was a rule that he couldn’t sign up as a host, and he wasn’t criticising.
At noon the next day, Chen Dong Lan received notice of the preliminary selection.
Dozens of students were waiting in the lecture theatre. Amidst the noise, Chen Dong Lan looked around and found Yuan Yuan standing near the lectern.
He was speaking to someone.
Chen Dong Lan moved forward a little, but didn’t dare to go too near. Instead, he sat down around five steps away from him.
After a while, Yuan Yuan saw him. “Chen Dong Lan?” He walked over to greet him. “You came for the host selection?”
Chen Dong Lan nodded.
Yuan Yuan came closer and said mysteriously, “Be prepared to deal with problems such as microphone malfunctions or script problems.”
Chen Dong Lan looked at him, not quite understanding.
Yuan Yuan laughed out loud. It wasn’t in ridicule but more like a distressed parent looking at their child doing something foolish. “The teacher is presenting the topic. Quickly take notes.” With that, he waved and walked away.
Chen Dong Lan watched his back, looking for a long time in the direction he disappeared in.
Finally, Chen Dong Lan was reluctantly selected as the reserve for the host because of his good appearance.
On the day of the Campus Arts Festival, in order to prevent any mishaps, two male and two females hosts, with a male and female reserve were on standby backstage. The hosts were in makeup and the reserves, Chen Dong Lan and a female student were used by the backstage crew for miscellaneous work.
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.
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Inside the room waiting for someone to help him with his trousers, Yuan Yuan looked at him in surprise and freed a hand to help him. “Chen Dong Lan?”
Chen Dong Lan quickly stablised himself and closed the door, locking it. He presented the clip in his hand to prove his innocence. “The teacher wanted me to help you clip…the trousers.”
“She actually got you to help? Then I’ll have to trouble you.” Yuan Yuan turned around cooperatively.
Chen Dong Lan swallowed nervously. His throat was too dry and he had to swallow before he could speak normally.
“Just clip about two to three centimetres. If the trousers weren’t so exaggerated, we could have just used a belt.” Yuan Yuan provided some guidance when he saw that Chen Dong Lan was slow to react.
“Okay…okay.” Chen Dong Lan reached out a hand and tugged at Yuan Yuan’s trousers. With the other trembling hand, he attached the clip. No wonder the waist of the trousers was too big. Probably because Yuan Yuan liked to work out too much. He had a good figure with wide shoulders and narrow hips. His waistline had an arc that Chen Dong Lan found particularly good-looking.
“More or less. As long as it wouldn’t drop on stage.” Yuan Yuan laughed.
Chen Dong Lan also laughed silently, his hands gradually stopped trembling.
After the festival began, Chen Dong Lan watched from the backstage while Yuan Yuan was hosting. From where he was standing, he could see the exaggerated stage lights on Yuan Yuan’s profile and some small hidden movements used to communicate with his partner.
That night after reaching home, Chen Dong Lan had a dream. The dream was filled with Yuan Yuan smiling under the stage lights, and the dim lights from the changing room.
In the changing room, Yuan Yuan’s skin at his waist was orange and looked very hot [T/N: As in like a high temperature, not the sexy hot kinda hot.]. Chen Dong Lan put his hand on it and it was hot, making his whole body burn.
He kept perspiring, tossing and turning unconsciously, waking up when it was still dark.
He buried himself under the quilt but his breathing couldn’t slow down even after a long time. After suffering for close to half an hour, his perspiration almost soaking the pillow, he couldn’t bear it and got up to go the bathroom.
After a shower produced no results, he covered his eyes and soothed himself.
That was the first time Chen Dong Lan had ever masturbated.
In his third year, Chen Dong Lan put in great effort.
He had a target and that was to get into the same university as Yuan Yuan. Chen Dong Lan realised that he couldn’t imagine the days without Yuan Yuan near him.
Yuan Yuan’s studies were very good. Based on the current situation, they would not get into the same school and this made Chen Dong Lan feel extremely pressured.
That year, summer was overcast and rainy, constantly dense and stuffy. Occasionally, there would be a downpour, but more often, there was continuous drizzle. Holding an umbrella was troublesome, but not using one was annoying as well.
Because time was tight, Chen Dong Lan didn’t return home to eat in the afternoon. Nearing the examination period, Yuan Yuan didn’t return home either.
Their classes were on different levels and Chen Dong Lan often ran downstairs. From under the tree, he would look at the corridor outside Yuan Yuan’s classroom. If he came out between classes when it was coincidentally lunch break, Chen Dong Lan would see him.
That day, the afternoon air was so stifling that the students were slumped over their desks moaning in anguish.
Right when everyone could no longer stand it, the biggest rainfall that semester poured down.
Rain water splashed from the windows onto desks, wetting books and papers. The students near the windows closed them in quick succession.
“Chen Dong Lan, are you free now? Please help to bring down some papers.” The class monitor suddenly informed Chen Dong Lan. “The last time you mentioned if there were any tasks that required going downstairs, I could hand them over you. Does that still count?”
Chen Dong Lan nodded.
He hugged the stack of papers and walked downstairs, passing by Yuan Yuan’s classroom. His chance was only the length of one classroom. Chen Dong Lan let his pace slow down as much as possible.
Yuan Yuan was lying on his desk asleep. Chen Dong Lan observed this from the corner of his eye before turning his head back.
Yuan Yuan’s seat was next to the window across the classroom. Chen Dong Lan’s gaze had to pass through the entire classroom and avoid a few students’ heads before being able to see Yuan Yuan clearly. Right then, he realised that Yuan Yuan had not closed the window.
He was probably greedy for the cool air before sleeping, so was particularly close to the window, seemingly enjoying the coolness. Although he couldn’t see it, Chen Dong Lan subconsciously felt that many raindrops had hit Yuan Yuan and even wet his hair.
At that moment, the courage that welled up, had probably been accumulated for many years. The blood rushed into his brain and made his thoughts sluggish.
Lifting his feet, he rushed into the classroom, where he knew no one except Yuan Yuan. With a thud, he threw the stack of papers onto the lectern and in a few steps, walked to Yuan Yuan’s seat, closing the window gently.
In this series of movements, his gaze only dared to remain on Yuan Yuan’s sleeping eyes for a moment.
Chen Dong Lan’s hands were shaking as he walked out of the unfamiliar class. In the tired and preoccupied year three class, nobody would care about or remember his actions.
But once he recalled it, his heart would beat intensely.
On the last day of the college entrance examinations, it rained. It wasn’t heavy, but was just right to make the weather cool.
Nobody came to pick Chen Dong Lan up. Because the time coincided with his younger brother going abroad to study. A week before the exams, his mother and uncle brought him to the foreign school. They had arranged for Chen Dong Lan to live within five minutes of the school and an auntie [T/N: This is person is not an actual relative. The Chinese might address people auntie and uncle out of respect even though they’re not actually related.] to take care of his everyday life.
Chen Dong Lan wasn’t used to the temporary residence as well as the food cooked by the auntie.
Maybe it was psychological. After Chen Dong Lan moved in, he could hear a continuous dripping sound every night, which made him toss and turn.
Later, when the exam results came out, Chen Dong Lan, who had always reacted smoothly to everything, madly blamed everything on that week before the exams.
He had failed.
After getting the news, Chen Dong Lan had difficulty breathing and even made a hoarse noise, scaring the auntie. Only Chen Dong Lan knew how painful his head was, so painful it felt like his whole body had split apart. He closed his room door and stood there not moving.
He spent several days at home like a dead man, maybe even more than that. Finally on the school’s honour list, he saw that Yuan Yuan had been accepted by T University.
At that moment, Chen Dong Lan was clear about his decision.
He wanted to repeat his studies.
That night, he called his mother and accompanied by the sound of a low electric current, he said, “Mom, I wanted to repeat my studies.”
At the other end, Mother Chen was silent and after a long time, said, “Have you made up your mind?”
“Yes, I’ve discussed the place with my teacher. For the year that I will be repeating my studies, I’ll be living in the school. You and uncle don’t need to worry.”
Mother Chen said, “Okay, let us know how much money you need after checking.”
Without too much small talk, Mother Chen hung up the phone.
Chen Dong Lan was now calm.
Before today, he still had complaints and resentment. But at this moment, all of the anger towards his family disappeared.
When he was a child, he thought that all the love in the world was as dull as the one between his mother and himself, his uncle and his younger brother.
As he grew older, he realised that joy and anger existed in love, and love so intense that it could drown someone existed, but it had nothing to do with him.
Until he had placed Yuan Yuan in his own world. Until he was slowly motivated by Yuan Yuan and straightened his stooped back, he knew that he was involved in such a love.
That was how much he loved Yuan Yuan.