Qin Heng shined and illuminated the people around him. Like a small sun, He Lan was secretly happy every time they interacted with one another.
Until Liu Xizi appeared.
There were many comic books and novels under Qin Heng’s desk. All the students, without exception, would rely on these books to relieve their boring breaks, making their high school life less monotonous.
He Lan took one out and flipped through the pages for a while. In He Lan’s opinion, he didn’t find anything entertaining about these books. In response, Qin Heng laughed and said that he didn’t eat human fireworks. He Lan didn’t think so.
不食人间烟火 ( bù shí rén jiān yān huǒ) : Does not eat human fireworks
If I’m not wrong, this is a Chinese idiom that originated in Taoism, and there are a couple of meanings so I went with this interpretation: He Lan has broken away from the physical needs of a mortal and in this case, physical needs refer to the comics. Check out this Baidu page and Baidu Knows for the other meanings!
During the weekend, Qin Heng asked him out to play. He Lan was very excited and in the face of his strict mother, he lied and said he was going out to buy books.
When He Lan arrived at their meeting point, he saw another two boys with Qin Heng that were from different classes.
“This is He Lan, my desk mate.” Qin Heng introduced him to his friends.
This recognition made He Lan very happy. He felt that he was acknowledged and appreciated in his heart.
“This is Jiang Dongfei and Li Zhou.” Qin Heng also introduced his friends to He Lan.
He Lan smiled stupidly, which made Jiang Dongfei and Li Zhou glance at him oddly.
He Lan was thrilled for the first time. He used to watch Qin Heng play on the sidelines but now, he finally had the opportunity to play side by side with him.
As they were playing, He Lan threw a few balls in one go but missed one. Seeing the failed shot, Qin Heng smiled slightly and approached He Lan.
Occasionally, the two of them would collide with one another and their skins would stick to each other. The warm touch seemed to electrify He Lan, making him frightened but elated. He secretly complained in his heart and didn’t dare go so close to Qin Heng anymore.
Jiang Dongfei was a cheerful person and laughed when he saw He Lan’s embarrassing appearance next to him.
After playing for 30 minutes, He Lan was exhausted. His clothes were wet with sweat and he took off his glasses to wipe his sour eyes. Qin Heng neared him and smiled, “You look cute without your glasses.”
Although He Lan didn’t know why Qin Heng always liked to call him cute, he was still pleased. After all, he was praised by the person he liked.
After that, they went to an arcade in the city centre. He Lan was lucky and caught a pink doll for Qin Heng on his first try. On the other hand, Qin Heng’s luck was poor and he couldn’t catch any. However, when he received He Lan’s doll, he made a bold statement to catch the biggest doll for He Lan. After playing for an hour, Qin Heng lived up to his words and presented the biggest doll to He Lan.
He Lan’s arms were filled with dolls because Qin Heng had given him the largest one. Moreover, Jiang Dongfei and Li Zhou also gave him some of their dolls to celebrate their good friendship.
He Lan was both happy and troubled. He didn’t feel comfortable taking their things for free, so he offered to treat everyone to a meal.
Jiang Dongfei was surprised, “Are you sure you want to treat us? Do you have enough pocket money?”
He Lan smiled, “I have the bonus from the last monthly exam.”
Jiang Dongfei smacked his thigh fiercely, “Learning is really profitable! Look at He Lan!”
Qin Heng retorted, “Of course my desk mate is excellent.”
Li Zhou showed no mercy as he said, “You’re the only one who has poor grades!”
Although the school didn’t place a lot of expectations in their class, Qin Heng was not a poor student who lagged in his studies. His position in class belonged to the middle and upper ranks.
Jiang Dongfei and Li Zhou were equally as good as Qin Heng.
There were many kinds of snacks at the roadside stall in the evening. He Lan was unaccustomed to street food but Qin Heng and the rest were all excited.
“Let’s go!” Jiang Dongfei was very happy and coated the kebab with a thick layer of chilli sauce. Fortunately, He Lan came from Guizhou, otherwise, he might have lost half his life during dinner.
T/N: From Wikipedia; Guizhou cuisine shares many features with Sichuan cuisine and Hunan cuisine, especially in bringing the sensation of spiciness and pungency. What makes Guizhou cuisine unique is the emphasis on a mixed sour-and-spicy taste, as compared to the numbing-and-hot sensation (麻辣; má là) featured in Sichuan cuisine and the dry-hot taste (干辣; 乾辣; gān là) featured in Hunan cuisine.
I had mala the first time this year at school and I think I’m addicted lol
The atmosphere was lively and vibrant but a phone call for Qin Heng immediately made it dull. Qin Heng was very close to the other end of the phone, speaking softly while his eyes reflected a warm soft light.
After hanging up, Qin Heng excused himself and hurriedly left, leaving behind the dumbfounded trio. Jiang Dongfei and Li Zhou were slightly upset as Qin Heng left saying, “Sorry, it’s my girlfriend who called.”
“Liu Xizi seems to be the girl from your class!”
“Didn’t she celebrate her birthday with her friends tonight? Why is she calling Qin Heng so late if she didn’t invite Qin Heng?”
“Aiya, what the young couple does is none of our business.” The two chatted and gossiped while He Lan remained silent.
Qin Heng…had a girlfriend?
And…it was Liu Xizi from their class. No wonder he had been so diligent in handing up his homework recently. Although he had expected such a scenario, He Lan still felt slightly embarrassed.
The next day when he saw Qin Heng at school, he didn’t dare to ask the question that bothered him the whole night.
He Lan’s heart felt stifled. As he observed the two’s interactions, he realized that Qin Heng often made ambiguous eye contact with Liu Xizi every day. Although it was not blatantly displayed, it was still easy to discern if someone looked closely.
He Lan was broken-hearted and started to distance himself from He Lan. It was silly to continue liking someone he had no chance with.
The accident happened in physical education class a month later. Qin Heng’s foot was injured during class and could no longer participate so he went back to the classroom to rest.
He Lan had initially asked for leave from PE class and was sleeping in the classroom. He caught a cold from the changing weather and he had a slight headache. The air conditioning in the classroom was refreshing and cool and in the comfortable environment, Qin Heng fell asleep quickly.
He Lan called out to him softly but Qin Heng made no movements and continued to sleep silently. At this moment, there was a feeling of tranquillity, like a painting.
Looking at the beautiful scenery in front of him, a strange thought arose in He Lan’s heart.
He plucked up his courage, lowered his head and quietly approached the sleeping man.
It was supposed to be just a skimming kiss, but the soft touch was too addictive. He Lan couldn’t control himself and bent down once more. At the moment when their lips touched one another, he was met with Qin Heng’s opened eyes. Reflected in them was He Lan’s flustered appearance.
On that day, their good friendship ended abruptly. After that, both of them were silent and sat in their seats without talking.
To He Lan, that week felt like a year. Every day was like stepping on broken glass. Looking at the backs of Qin Heng and Liu Xizi walking side by side, again and again, his heart was sour. He was afraid that his secret would be made public but he was internally glad that the boy he liked was a kind person.
Qin Heng didn’t say anything but from then onwards, he never took the initiative to approach him again.
At the end of the term, He Lan accepted the teacher’s public criticism with a ranking of 30 in class and 900 in the grade. The familiar eyes of his classmates were like sharp blades stabbing into him. The only thing he could feel was the burning stares and the hot embarrassment on his face.
T/N: I’m assuming that there are 30 students in one class and 900 students in the cohort but honestly, I don’t know if it’s really 900 because that’s a big number.
When the summer vacation came, he refused to go out and shut himself in. He thought he would go on like this for a long time, but on the first day of school, he found an incredible thing in his locker.
Hello, He Lan.
This is the first love letter I’ve written to you. I’m a boy, I’ve been observing you secretly and know that you and I are the same. You are so excellent.
I like you!
Someone liked him? Someone would like the plain and boring him?
He Lan’s heart was conflicted but he didn’t dare to play around too much at school. He became more conscious of his appearance and tried to control his facial expressions and movements. He always felt as if someone was watching him from the dark.
He dared not doze off in class because the love letter said he was an excellent person. But was he really good?
From then on, He Lan gradually changed. He no longer continued to sink into the deep water but made unprecedented efforts.
His result from the first monthly test directly jumped to first place in the class and continued to stay there. His grade ranking also jumped from the bottom to the top 50 and remained steady until the second and third monthly tests.
He also complied with his parents’ arrangements and attended extra tuition and interest classes. In just one semester, he became incredibly favoured by teachers, he became the envy of all students and the talk of all the parents in the community.
In fact, he didn’t have any special feelings after rapidly improving. Everything was still boring to him. The only difference was that his heart was always thinking about the ‘Rainbow’ that hid from him.
The only thing that could help him pass his time was the obscure mathematics problems.
As time went by, another semester ended and his grades improved by leaps and bound, unable to be replaced by anyone else. However, ‘Rainbow’ never showed a trace of himself ever again.
Why? Wasn’t he trying to change now?
He felt that he was slowly becoming excellent, and the people around him were praising him but there was no second love letter.
In the third year of senior high school, he defended his second-place ranking in the cohort twice and the love letter that kept him turning over countless nights was pressed to the bottom of a box by him.
Even the name ‘Qin Heng’ drifted further and further away from him. The two people who hadn’t interacted for a long time once again happened to cross paths.
Misfortune befell and Qin Heng’s family suffered a serious accident. His mother’s condition worsened and the Qin family was in desperate need of money to pay for her treatment. The headteacher donated his own initiative, stimulating others to do the same.
When Qin Heng picked up the list, he found that He Lan had donated 2000 RMB of the 50,100 RMB. For a high school student, this was a large sum, how could he afford it?
T/N: The currency wasn’t specified but it should be RMB.
50,100 RMB = 7763.23 USD
2000 RMB = 309.91 USD
He Lan finally understood why Qin Heng wanted to be a doctor. He was glad that he was able to help Qin Heng at least once before they graduated.
When Qin Heng saw the amount he donated, his heart felt complicated. It was a pity that he didn’t have the opportunity to thank He Lan. Their last year of high school had ended in the blink of an eye.
Since Qin Heng had to take care of his mother for a long time, his studies could not catch up so he had no choice but to repeat another year.
The seat next to him was empty and quiet but the campus was still lively and youthful figures on the basketball courts flashed past one after the other.
However, these spirited scenes no longer belonged to him and Qin Heng’s heart settled down and became quieter.
Qin Heng tried to find He Lan but it was as if he had evaporated into thin air; no one knew where he had gone.
With the residual heat on his lips, Qin Heng eventually grew up in his stumbling youth.
Qin Heng’s second senior year was extremely difficult. He heard that He Lan had been admitted to a very good university and he secretly guessed that it must be one of the 985 universities in the nearest city, so Qin Heng refused to give up. His lamp was always turned on during the wee hours and he bought volume after another of practice questions.
T/N: 985 universities are the universities that participated in Project 985 whose objective is to develop, in cooperation with local government, world-class universities. Click here for the Wikipedia link to the project as well as the schools that participated.
Apart from his studies, the only thought in Qin Heng’s mind was to find He Lan but no one knew why Qin Heng wanted to find him.
At first, he had tried to call He Lan but received no answer. Later, he went to his house and realised that it was completely empty.
Liu Xizi never contacted him again and their relationship forever stopped at the noon when He Lan stole a kiss from him.
On the day when the college entrance examination ended, Qin Heng exited the examination room and saw the burning sun in the sky. At that moment, he felt that his grades didn’t seem to matter anymore, because he seemed to see He Lan’s faint smiling face in the blur of the sun.
Back home, Qin Heng found that his father was helping him sort out his books. The room looked completely new and different. Looking at the locked drawer being opened, Qin Heng was subconsciously flustered.
“I lost your unsent letters.” His father’s voice was suppressing an unknown emotion.
Qin Heng was silent before he said, “Sorry”.
T/N: It might not be clear but his father read the letters and found out that Qin Heng is gay and he was upset but he suppressed his feelings. Something like that…
Maybe, one day, he would have the chance to see He Lan again and say “Thank you” to him and…
Everything was silent. Youth is like a sunny day and white clouds are like silk on a cloudy day. Dark clouds gather a shower of rain in the heart. Some accumulate into rice cards to make a ridge, and some evaporate, but the weather would always be fine once the rain passed.
T/N: Might be a poem but I can’t seem to find any literary work related to this sigh
He Lan’s youth was like an endless journey. Just as he stepped out of his toes, he was replaced by early adulthood.
After seven years, He Lan had forgotten many things from his youth, but he always remembered that he had seemed to like a person at the age of seventeen.
“It’s Qin Heng!”
Someone shouted in his ear and broke He Lan’s train of thoughts. Only the man’s name was enough to make his heartbeat erratically.
Turning his head, the ever-popular Qin Heng in front of him slowly overlapped with the boy in his memory, forming a dreamlike figure in his mind.
When Qin Heng heard someone calling out his name, he looked around for the source and locked eyes with He Lan.
The corners of his lips lifted and a smile spread out. The cold and mature lines of an adult were nowhere to be seen, leaving behind the youthful smile.
He Lan was stunned for a long time until he heard the people around him call out to him.
“He Lan, why are you guys not talking? This is Qin Heng. You haven’t seen each other for seven years, right? It seems that today is the first time you’ve attended a class reunion. Although it has been so many years, it’s not enough…”
The voice beside his ear gradually blurred. He Lan saw the man slowly approaching him. The boy from his memory had grown up and his youthful vitality had faded, revealing the charm of a mature man.
When he heard Qin Heng call out his name, He Lan detected a trace of joy in his tone which he didn’t understand.
“I’ve been looking for you for 7 years. Why didn’t you leave me your contact information…”
The night sky exploded with colourful fireworks, the noisy streets were crowded but the air was sweet like candy.
Under the neon lights, the people snuggling up were happy and indulging in the sweet evening. The sparks that had cooled in their hearts were rekindled, surrounding them with the familiar warmth they had once experienced seven years ago.
He Lan woke up silently and he rubbed his aching waist, as he washed himself up. Reflected on the mirror was a young man’s face with soft facial features and fair skin.
His face was slightly flushed and the tears that had dried onto his face were particularly obvious, making his face alluring. On his fair neck were traces of their passionate night.
He Lan stared for a long time before he smiled bitterly. The youth in front of him has grown up, moulding his own temperament. However, there was no bright gleam in his eyes, only a gloomy one. The light and darkness in his eyes intertwined, like a vast abyss.
“What’s the matter?” Someone leaned into him and asked.
However, the man next to him was different. His eyes were always bright and free of impurities.
“Why did you wake up so early?”
He Lan shook his head and caught the flash of silver light between Qin Heng’s fingers.
“Oh, I’ve been wearing it for a long time.”
Qin Heng’s voice turned softer and more nostalgic, “There’s another one here. I’ve been waiting for so many years…”
Just like magic, he took out his hand that was behind his back and took out the exact same ring like the one on his finger.
The size was not too big nor was it too small. It fit perfectly on He Lan’s finger as if it had been planned for a long time.
“This is what I’ve always wanted.”
Their eyes met, full of affection and nostalgia. This tenderness that had existed without deep love, finally reunited in this timeline.
T/N: I hope you guys enjoyed this sweet story! This actually took me over 10 hours to translate and I’m posting them at one shot T-T Anyways, I was wondering if you guys could help me add tags for this on NovelUpdates because I’m horrible at finding tags for novels oops… As always, thank you for reading and your continuous support, I hope I see you on my future projects 🙂