Edited by DancingDolphisYo
Ning Lan threw the bag to the ground, and the resounding thud was very loud. He then unzipped his jacket, removing it and throwing it down as well. Next, he started tugging at the only top he had left— a thin t-shirt.
Ning Lan was already very thin, and the loose, baggy t-shirt soon fell away from his shoulder, and nearly his entire upper body was exposed.
While stripping, he slowly walked forward. Because of the quiet, his footsteps seemed to be magnified. The tearing sound of the shirt was heard clearly as well, and the dull steps interweaved with the sharp ripping sound. For some reason, it gave people a spine-tingling experience.
“What… what are you doing?” Gu Chenkai raised his chin and asked loudly, but his darting eyes betrayed his inner nervousness.
Ning Lan took another step forward, sliding his tongue out and licking his lips. “I’m seducing all of you.”
A chill welled up from the bottom of his feet towards his body, and Gu Chenkai stuttered. “A-a-aren’t you disgusting?”
His t-shirt now ragged, Ning Lan was still leaning forward. His shoulders and a portion of his waist were revealed. Sui Yi stood behind him, and on the back where Gu Chenkai kicked Ning Lan, a large red mark could be seen. Surrounded by Ning Lan’s sickly pale skin, the mark looked even more striking.
Sui Yi’s breath caught abruptly, just like how he had unconsciously reacted the last time he saw Ning Lan’s injured knee.
Ning Lan laughed lowly. “So you guys are actually really afraid of getting seduced by me.”
The space in the room available for people to stand was very tiny. As Ning Lan got closer, the three people standing in a row unanimously retreated half a step. Gao Ming even bumped into the table behind him, and was supported by Wang Bingyang before he regained his footing. They never expected that Ning Lan would have such a reaction. Previously, they had excluded Ning Lan out from everything, whether openly or in secret, but Ning Lan had never made a sound, quietly enduring it. Hence, Ning Lan’s counter-attack that came out of nowhere made them dumb with shock.
Ning Lan’s expression was also different from usual. He was clearly smiling, but the iciness in his eyes completely revealed his emotions. He was very angry, and he might even really hit someone the next second.
They were all teenagers who had never experienced the perils of society, and being scared like this, they lost their presence of mind. Gu Chenkai’s face was completely pale. He had grown up very well sheltered, and his parents, relatives, and even his cousin, who was only one year older, all pampered him. How could he have met such anger before? As such, he was very panicked, but his tongue still remained very sharp and unforgiving. “A-a-afraid my ass! If you want to fight, just fight properly like a man, why are you taking your clothes off? You’re gay, you’re disgusting!”
One corner of Ning Lan’s lips quirked up, and he shrugged. “Other than seducing people, I don’t know anything else.”
Wang Bingyang’s hair stood on end as well, and he kept feeling that if he did not stop this, things would break out badly. Taking a step forward, he said, “Ah, don’t argue anymore. The rules of the dormitory don’t allow us to fight. Calm down, calm down.”
There was no effect on the tense atmosphere.
Ning Lan remained where he was, a faint smile curling around his lips, and his anger was uncertain to others. His height and stature clearly gave him no advantages in intimidation, but with his straightened back and his raised chin, he inexplicably had a heavy aura of oppression around him. Surrounded by such a manner, despite his thin body only covered with the remnants of his ragged t-shirt, it still made the others feel a bone-chilling fierceness, and no trace of weakness or absurdity could be detected within him.
Even Ning Lan himself had thought that his edges had long been ground away. It turned out that they had only been sanded out a little and buried in the earth. When a storm came without any warning, a bit of that sharp edge would still be exposed under the wind.
It was not that he would not hurt, but just that he hid it well, hid it deep, and ordinary stimulations were not enough to touch him.
Just when the air was still, as though something was brewing, and about to explode, Sui Yi stood out. “Alright, that’s enough. Everyone, return to your room and go to bed.”
A thick jacket wrapped around him from behind. Ning Lan’s body warmed up, and his tense body could not help but relax.
He turned around. Sui Yi’s eyes were lowered, and his arms came around his body to help him pull the jacket together, barely managing to cover his cold skin that had been exposed to the air.
A serious conflict dissipated into nothing.
Gao Ming and Wang Bingyang fled, and due to the pressure Sui Yi gave him, Gu Chenkai too shut his mouth. His cheeks puffing in anger, he grabbed his clothes and headed off to shower.
Ning Lan remained standing in his position, calming himself down. His head that had heated from his anger slowly cooled down, but his lingering emotions still made him a little light-headed.
The bag that he threw on the ground had already been picked up and placed on the chair next to his head. Ning Lan strode towards it, picking it up and turning around, heading outside.
Sui Yi again blocked his way.
Ning Lan did not even look at him. “Please give way.”
Sui Yi froze. Ning Lan’s tone was calm and steady, as though the one sneering just not wasn’t him.
However, the distance and the defiance in his voice were obvious.
Sui Yi could probably guess what he was angry about. He did not like to be mistaken, and he explained himself on the spot. “I didn’t tell anyone about the money, I don’t know how Xiao-Kai found out about it.”
Ning Lan did not make a sound, but his lips tightened further.
“I’ll apologise on his behalf. Give me some time to investigate, and I’ll…”
“No need,” Ning Lan interrupted him. “I’m the one who borrowed money from you in the first place, and I’m also currently unable to pay it back. He’s not wrong.”
Sui Yi was cut off halfway, and before he could think about how to respond, Ning Lan continued. “I will return the money to you. Please give way.”
He then moved his way past Sui Yi. Their shoulders came into contact, and separated, not leaving even an imprint of warmth.
Ning Lan did not go very far. He spent the night in Lu Xiaochuan and Fang Yu’s room.
Sui Yi woke up the next morning to see the jacket that he had wrapped around Ning Lan last night folded neatly on the chair. On his table was that green <Basic Music Theory>.
The dispute of room swapping ended when Ning Lan called Zhang Fan to submit his request, and Lu Xiaochuan and Fang Yu both agreed that he could stay in their room. For this incident, Zhang Fan gathered all of them to knock some sense into their heads, warning them that they had yet to even become popular, so they ought not to first learn how to exclude another as a group.
Sui Yi listened absent-mindedly. Although he did not deliberately subject Ning Lan to such psychological abuse, the other members did keep track of his actions, and followed suit. He definitely had a hand in this matter.
He only did not know how to face someone like this. He hated and scorned all the actions of this person, but unknowingly, this person was still able to attract his attention. Perhaps it was out of curiosity, or maybe it was due to sympathy. After all, in front of him, Ning Lan had mostly shown a side of himself that was fragile, that he needed to be protected.
As for how much of it was feigned, only Ning Lan himself was aware of that, and Sui Yi did not want to probe into it.
A week after a group training, AOW received its first commercial shoot — it was a new sports beverage produced by a famous company, and its target audience was people in their teens and twenties. As it was a commercial to be released online, the models used did not have to be very well known in the country. Being the newest male group climbing up in popularity, AOW stood out easily, and gained the company’s attention.
Not long after they returned to the capital, the seven members of AOW took a flight to S City.
The weather in S City during June was warmer than that of the capital, the heat enough to make them feel like they were melting. However, under the scorching sun, they had to leap and jump about in the alarming heat, and it was really tough for them.
Fang Yu was applying sunscreen for the nth time today. When he was done, he asked Nin Lan, the only person fairer than him in the group, “You really don’t want to apply any? Don’t come crying when you become tanned.”
Ning Lan drank some water, shaking his head. “I’ll just have to endure a few days and the tan will fade away.”
Sui Yi had just returned from completing his solo shoot. When accepting a bottle of water from An Lin, he glanced towards them. Ning Lan had his back towards him, and he could only see the back of Ning Lan’s neck that had turned red from the sun.
After that day, they barely had any interactions with each other. Staying in the same room previously, they would always see each other around. Now, they did not even bump into each other in the training studio. Other than when Zhang Fan called for a group meeting, or when they had scheduled group activities, there was basically no chance for them to encounter each other face to face.
Once, he was the one avoiding Ning Lan, and now Ning Lan was the one avoiding him, no, them. In the end, either way had the same effect, and also helped Sui Yi resolve quite a bit of trouble. However, he kept feeling that something was not right.
When it was Ning Lan’s turn for his solo shot, the director wanted him to smile. Ning Lan pressed the drink against his cheek, his lips splitting in a grin and his eyes curving along, as though this drink could really bring him an unmatched sense of the refreshing summer.
The searing rays of the sun hit the lounge area directly. Everything was shimmering, looking as though they could melt any moment, but Sui Yi was very focused while watching, and he even registered that Ning Lan was thinner than before.
When the filming for the commercial concluded, the youths arranged to go and eat the famous pan-fried buns of S City. Arms around each other’s shoulders, they were about to head out, but An Lin’s call came. They were asked to gather downstairs half an hour later, as in the last minute, the company had arranged for them to attend a local live broadcast.
Everyone had some snacks to settle their dinner, then sighed and groaned as they made their way downstairs. Ning Lan, who was arranged to room with a crew member, was already in the car. With folded arms, he was seated in the corner of the last row. His head was leaning on the window, and he had his eyes closed, resting. Hearing that people were getting into the car, he only moved a little, his body shifting further inwards.
Wherever there was Ning Lan, the other people staying in the dorm could not converse easily. All the way till they reached the location, the interior of the car was completely silent.
After that conflict, Ning Lan no longer tried being nice to everyone, nor again display that monstrous rage he felt that night. In the dormitory, it was like he was invisible. He did not need others to deliberately ignore him, but he himself had already walked out of this group, standing there alone, no longer trying to join them.
Towards this, Gu Chenkai and Gao Ming were delighted. This matter did not concern the other three members, and only Sui Yi felt a little uncomfortable about it.
Just now, after receiving the notice, he sent Ning Lan a text, asking him to come to their room to eat together. He remembered that Ning Lan had low blood sugar, and if he did not eat before they left, it might affect their work later.
After sending the text, he regretted it a little. Sui Yi recalled those texts that Ning Lan had sent in the past, and how he never replied to any of them. If Ning Lan did not reply to him now, it would be understandable.
Ning Lan did reply, and it was two simple words: No need.
Receiving the reply, for some reason, Sui Yi felt relieved. On second thought, Ning Lan’s texts were all mass-sent, and it would not be amiss for him not to reply.
The live broadcast was a culinary show, and today’s topic was “A New Way to Eat Lobsters”.
They had originally thought that they would be eating spicy crayfish1. Who would have guessed that once the broadcast started, two chefs carried up a huge australian lobster the size of a basin. The jaws of the youths fell to the ground, and the host asked for those who had never eaten lobsters before to raise their hands. It sounded a little like he was shaming poor people, and only Ning Lan held his hand up with a smile.
Of course, they were not invited there to cook. The aim of inviting guests to culinary shows was to increase the show’s popularity, and to liven up its atmosphere. They surrounded the grill, watching the lobster, as they brightened up the atmosphere with their chatter. The comments from the viewers came rapidly, and they were all happy to watch.
Once the lobster was done grilling, it was naturally time for the guests to try it. As the group leader, Sui Yi led the group in trying a small bite first. He then wiped his mouth with a napkin, his expression enigmatic. He did not say that it was delicious, but also didn’t say that it tasted bad. Instead, he allowed everyone to try it for themselves.
All the members crowed, making a fuss, saying that their leader had learnt from some bad examples. They then each took a plate and fork, sharing the meat of the lobster. As they pretty much did not eat anything for dinner, the lobster was nearly demolished in a short period of time.
“Hey hey hey, don’t eat so much. Ning Lan hasn’t had a chance to try it yet.” Lu Xiaochuan’s mouth was filled with food.
Sui Yi looked at Ning Lan who was standing in a corner, trying his best to blend into the background. He picked up a clean plate, placing the last piece of somewhat complete chunk of lobster meat on it, then handed it to Ning Lan who was standing on the opposite end of the table.
“Ah, look, Lead has given the last piece to Lanlan.” Fang Yu bit on his fork.
Sui Yi watched Ning Lan, a little worried that he wouldn’t accept it. He responded to Fang Yu, “Didn’t you say that you were going on a diet?”
“I was just saying it, and you believed it?”
Ning Lan did not look at the person handing him the plate. Smiling, he accepted it, then with a twist of his arm, he steadily offered the plate to Fang Yu. “Have it, I’m not hungry.”
This scene was later named “a textbook example of playing the spoiled child” by the Soaring Flower CP fans, and shared multiple times. In it, Ning Lan played the role of a waiter. This time, his action was excellent, as he understood that food from the leader’s hand should not be easily eaten. In the eyes of the CP fans, he finally left a good impression.