Jiang Mo stopped along with Lin Rong and when he spotted the other two people, he asked in surprise, “You are here too?”
Wei Zhounan tried to wave aside the awkward situation, “Yeah, yeah, what a coincidence. Were you leaving?”
Jiang Mo put his phone away and answered, “No, we’re heading upstairs to play pool. The one in the private room is occupied—”
The two started politely chatting with each other, leaving Ning Yan and Lin Rong to stare into each other’s eyes.
The man’s eyes were still deep and dark, and Ning Yan’s heart thundered when they looked at him.
Ning Yan felt like the heat from his face was spreading towards his neck. He tried to resist but couldn’t hold it back. He self-consciously walked over and lifted his eyes to look at the man, asking quietly, “You… why don’t you say anything to me!”
The man just kept staring at him with those shining eyes.
“…” Ning Yan glared at him. “Hey, wake up!”
Lin Rong paused, averted his gaze for a second, and then quickly looked back. He said hoarsely, “… What a coincidence.”
Ning Yan’s heart softened and he thought that fate worked in mysterious ways.
In the past, he had always thought Lin Rong was a hard-to-understand guy and it would be impossible to know what he was thinking.
He assumed Lin Rong was distant, arrogant, always looking down on others, and never paying attention to others.
Of course, he assumed he was part of the “others.”
But after living with this guy for half a month, Ning Yan now had the correct interpretation for all the little things he had misunderstood before.
For example: the averted gaze, the ears turning pink, and the change in the man’s voice.
This guy was feeling self-conscious.
Ning Yan’s heart went on a rollercoaster ride—he suddenly realized that Lin Rong had never smiled at him even though Lin Rong had a crush on him. Was that because this guy… was too nervous to smile when they were together?
Ning Yan swallowed upon this realization and his fingertips quivered.
He wanted to be impulsive.
He itched to get closer, to hold the man’s hands, and to have a whispered conversation.
Ning Yan thought he must be broken. He couldn’t move his gaze away from the man in front of him. He wanted to see more of the man’s expressions and reactions—reactions because of him.
But just then, another voice rang out from nearby, “… Ning Yan?!”
The four people all came back to reality and looked to the left.
Three people stood there. The man at the head of the pack wore a black shirt with the top two buttons undone. He looked to be tipsy.
He looked at Ning Yan in amazement and shock. It was He Congsheng.
“Damn!” Wei Zhounan just recalled his mission and felt the headache come on.
They had only been chatting for a few seconds. What a coincidence for them to run into each other!
Something glinted in Jiang Mo’s eyes and the look in Lin Rong’s eyes changed slightly as well.
Both of them knew about He Congsheng’s birthday party plans.
“Ning Yan.” He Congsheng was only out and about to get some air and smoke a cigarette with his buddies and hadn’t counted on seeing the person he wanted to see but couldn’t reach. When the shock had passed, emotions flashed across his face and his chest heaved. He stalked forwards in Ning Yan’s direction and asked with gritted teeth, “You’ve finally decided to come out?”
Ning Yan almost jumped in the air when he spotted He Congsheng. What is that guy doing here?
He hadn’t forgotten that the guy was planning on confessing to him during the birthday party!
Wait—only now did he figure out why Wei Zhounan was so anxious to reach him such that he called and texted; he had really thought the guy was desperate to go grab crayfish!
Just as realization dawned, someone clasped his wrist and pulled him backwards. The man stood in front of him with a glacial expression.
Ning Yan blinked and looked down to see his wrist being held by the man’s strong and slender hand. Something stirred in his heart.
When he realized what he was doing, his face crumbled.
… Damn, he really did get broken!!
He Congsheng saw Lin Rong move to stand in front of Ning Yan while clutching Ning Yan’s wrist. He saw red, but when he stalked over, Wei Zhounan and Jiang Mo blocked him. He demanded angrily, “It’s none of your business, move aside!”
“You, you, you, you calm down. We’re outside, don’t create a scene!” Wei Zhounan persuaded cautiously.
“Did you get Ning Yan to come out?” He Congsheng nodded calmly at him. “Thanks.”
“…” Wei Zhounan looked back at Ning Yan and explained in a panic, “Bro, this is a misunderstanding!!!”
Ning Yan, “…”
He Congsheng then turned around to say to Ning Yan, “Ning Yan, you know what’s happening right? You’ve had your phone off these past few days and won’t answer my calls—”
Ning Yan, “…”
While that is true, him turning his phone off had nothing to do with this guy.
He Congsheng continued, “We’ve known each other for so long that you must feel something for me. Even if you wanted to reject me, why wouldn’t you tell me in person instead of asking Ning Yue to tell me on your behalf? Just because I like—”
“He Congsheng.” The man suddenly interrupted He Congsheng’s outpouring of words. Lin Rong’s black eyes darkened even more.
Jiang Mo took this opportunity to warn, “Remember where we are. Think carefully before you speak.”
He Congsheng might be a little tipsy but he swallowed his words when those two reminded him. He still felt angry and wronged and called out, “Ning Yan!”
Ever since he had heard the message from Ning Yue, he had called and called and called!
If Ning Yan hadn’t blacklisted his WeChat number—he got drunk a while ago and messaged Ning Yan too many times in the middle of the night… though that wasn’t the first time he had done something like that, that time he had pissed Ning Yan off—anyway, if Ning Yan hadn’t blacklisted him, he definitely would have blown up Ning Yan’s WeChat again!
He’s finally getting the chance to see him face-to-face, so he has to find out the answer for himself!
He Congsheng’s buddies simultaneously wanted to pull him back but also didn’t dare do so. Ever since that guy had found out Ning Yan wouldn’t be attending the birthday party, he had fallen into a slump and would drink every day. Now that he’d seen Ning Yan, it would be impossible to stop him.
Ning Yan pursed his lips. He knew that now they’d met in person, he had to say something or someone like He Congsheng would never give up.
He was frustrated. He’d never thought that he’d… have to play out this scenario in front of Lin Rong.
He lifted his eyes and happened to stare straight into Lin Rong’s gaze as he turned around. His heart sped up for a few beats.
Since there wasn’t anyone else around, Ning Yan quickly opened his mouth and said, “I let my cousin tell you because there were things going on back then. If I could have told you in person, I would have called you already.”
Ning Yan continued hurriedly, “I only see you as a friend. I… don’t feel that way about you!”
“How can you know if you don’t try?” He Congsheng demanded angrily.
Ning Yan frowned. Just as he was about to reply, the air around the man in front of him chilled by a few more degrees. The man silently pushed him back a little more and stepped forwards so that he completely hid Ning Yan from He Congsheng’s view.
He Congsheng, “???” What, now I can’t even look at him??
Ning Yan, “…”
Ning Yan coughed lightly.
He wrestled his expression under control and stuck his head out from behind Lin Rong. He told He Congsheng, “Why do I have to try? You’re being unreasonable He Congsheng. If you insist on being like this whenever we see each other in the future, then… then we can’t even be friends anymore!”
Actually, even these words were polite fiction. Ning Yan wasn’t a child anymore and it wasn’t like he had no common sense.
He may have been close with He Congsheng before, but he has only ever considered He Congsheng a friend, a buddy.
His buddy has just confessed to him and he has rejected him. How are they supposed to be friends after this?
He knew He Congsheng very well. If he continues behaving the same way with He Congsheng, that guy would never give up.
That’s why, from the moment He Congsheng planned on confessing, they couldn’t be best buddies anymore.
Ning Yan was frustrated too. But there was no other way to solve this and if he allowed He Congsheng to keep harassing him like this, it would just be more awkward.
He Congsheng looked like the sky crumbled when he heard those words.
His two buddies behind him looked at each other, at a loss for what to do.
Jiang Mo nodded at He Congsheng and said to those two, “He’s drunk. Keep an eye on him.”
They debated for a while but, in the end, they stepped forwards and each grabbed one of He Congsheng’s arms. They coaxed, “It’s okay, it’s okay. Didn’t you always want to hear the answer from him personally? Now you have, let’s go back.”
He Congsheng eyes watered and he stared stubbornly at Ning Yan. “Ning Yan, I’ve liked you for so many years!!”
Ning Yan suddenly felt like the man in front of him could turn the entire room into a freezer.
He answered desperately, “But I really only see you as a buddy!”
How could he ever have thought that He Congsheng was hilarious? So hilarious that he’s about to cry now.
Lin Rong tilted his head towards Ning Yan and asked softly, “Do you want to go grab a bite?”
Ning Yan immediately nodded. “Yeah, let’s.”
On the other side, He Congsheng shouted, “Lin Rong, let go of him!”
Lin Rong stopped for a second but then tightened his hold on Ning Yan.
Ning Yan felt it and his heart sped up again. He gritted his teeth and retorted exasperatedly, “You… it’s none of your business. Go home and sleep!”
He Congsheng asked irrationally, “Don’t you think you two are acting really gay?”
Ning Yan puffed up in anger. “As if a gay like you has a right to call us gay!”
Everyone else, “…”
He Congsheng, “Ning Yan you’re heartless!”
Ning Yan, “Keep making a fuss and I’ll beat you up!”
“You’re actually going to hit me,” He Congsheng wobbled and said sullenly, “Do it!”
Ning Yan felt a vein on the side of his head throb in anger!
He struggled out of Lin Rong’s grasp!
Lin Rong was taken by surprise while Ning Yan took a step forwards, gritted his teeth, and raised his tightly clenched fist.
He Congsheng’s two buddies hissed through their teeth and immediately tried to grab He Congsheng to take him away.
He Congsheng refused and struggled to remain at the same spot. He shouted, “Don’t protect me, let him hit me! Let him hit me!”
Everyone else, “…”
This guy’s entire face flushed the drunken shade of red, he slurred his words, and he acted completely intoxicated. He Congsheng kept shouting, “Let him hit me! If he hits me, he’ll never forget me for the rest of his life!”
Ning Yan, “…”
Suffocating silence fell over the crowd.
It was a good thing there wasn’t anyone else in the hallway, otherwise everyone present would find themselves trending on social media that night!
Someone was acting out because he was drunk and the others couldn’t do anything to stop him. Ning Yan never thought that the trip to Riverside would turn into this. Every nerve in his body throbbed.
After a period of chaos, both Wei Zhounan and Jiang Mo finally stepped in to help and the group managed to drag He Congsheng up from the ground.
He Congsheng cried so hard that tears and snot covered his face, but he kept looking pitifully at Ning Yan. Ning Yan couldn’t really go beat him up. He rubbed his forehead and instructed He Congsheng’s two buddies, “Don’t let him drink anymore. Hurry up and take him to get some rest.”
“Quit it. If you get beaten up and then puke in front of Ning Yan, it’ll be you threatening to jump off a building tomorrow,” One of He Congsheng’s buddies chided him.
They took a stumbling He Congsheng away. The entire time, He Congsheng kept howling, “Ning Yan you’re heartless,” as he cried. His voice echoed in the hallway.
Everyone else, again, “…”
Awkward silence immediately fell over them.
Though He Congsheng had finally left after making a fuss, Ning Yan felt so awkward he could dig two trenches into the ground with his toes1The curling of toes is one of the ways a character conveys awkwardness in Chinese novels..
He took two deep breaths to steady himself. When he self-consciously turned back around, he saw the other man looking down at his empty hands, his expression wistful and a little lost.
Ning Yan, “…???”
It’s been so long—has he been looking there ever since he struggled out of the grip???