Edited by DancingDolphinsYo
Ning Lan remained in the practice room until fifteen minutes past seven before he left.
He did not depart with the other youths Zhang Fan mentioned. He felt that there was no need to know them at all. They were only here to sell themselves, were they expected to huddle together and exchange confidences?
While the lift descended, he checked the lottery ticket he bought the last time. None of the numbers had been drawn at all, and his last flicker of hope was extinguished.
He really wanted to earn money as quickly as possible. Boss Liu had long since been unable to wait, and if he did not quickly pay Sui Yi back, he would feel very uneasy. His payment schedule could not be dragged on for years, as no one had the duty to happily allow him to slowly earn and repay them.
Exiting the building, Ning Lan walked down the stairs. A muffled crash of thunder happened abruptly, and his steps paused. He had finally thought things through and was about to sell himself, yet the heavens were not going to even provide him with nice weather?
Glumly, he stuck his hands in his pockets, slowly making his way down and stood by the road, waiting for a taxi. One finally appeared, only to be snatched away by another person running over.
“Fuck…” Ning Lan swore a beat later.
When the first drop of rain struck his face, no taxis appeared. Instead a black Maybach did.
The driver’s window wound down, and Sui Yi’s expressionless face appeared. “Get on.”
Ning Lan did not want to acknowledge him. He continued gazing into the distance, watching for an empty taxi. “I’m not going back to the dorm.”
“Where are you going? I’ll drive you there,” Sui Yi said.
Thunder crashed around them, and raindrops the size of beans started falling from the sky, landing on their bodies. Seeing that time was tight, and how it would only get harder for him to hail a taxi, Ning Lan hesitated for a moment before going over to the passenger side and getting into the car.
“Green Tide Hotel, thanks.”
While lifting his foot off the brake, Sui Yi asked, “Why are you going there?”
“For a meal,” Ning Lan answered perfunctorily.
When he got onto the car, he started fiddling with his phone, then with the messy strands of hair around his forehead, and took out a foundation compact from his backpack and started touching up his face.
Personally, he did not have the habit of applying makeup, and he even went to borrow this from Fang Yu. After all, he had to leave a good first impression on others.
Sui Yi turned and took a look. Pinching the cushion puff, Ning Lan was dabbing at the mole at the corner of his eye. Ning Lan blinked, and his thick and long eyelashes fluttered slightly, brushing right across Sui Yi’s heart. A strange emotion ran through Sui Yi, and he averted his eyes in panic.
“You’re going there for a meal?” He did not know why he would ask a question like this.
“Yes.” Ning Lan had no plans of dodging the question. In any case, he was well aware of how this person viewed him. “Why, only rich people like you are allowed to go there to eat, and us poor people are not allowed to go and take a look?”
Sui Yi’s lips tightened. He remained silent.
Ning Lan too felt that the thorns in his words were too obvious, and he would only end up offending Sui Yi even more, but he could not stop himself. Anyway, he had already offended him before. These rich and arrogant people, they could easily believe that a person was bad, but it would be extremely difficult to convince them that a person was good.
However, Ning Lan was truly, ridiculously bad. Looking at it from another angle, if he was Sui Yi, he would probably also be unable to forgive such wicked, treacherous actions. So, no matter how hard he tried, his efforts were only insignificant and useless, and there was nothing he could do to cover up his mistakes.
With these thoughts in mind, Ning Lan could not help but mock himself. Having lived for twenty-odd years, did he still not understand anything? The past few months, he had giddily fallen back into his old, foolish behaviour. Who would not wish that a person they like, would like them as well? Even if they were just friends, when one recalled their memories in the future, they would still be able to gain a little bit of temporary warmth from this gentleness of that person, and recall how it had once been so near them.
The rain came down heavily. Despite the very good sound insulation of the car, they could still hear the pounding of the raindrops on the car.
Or maybe it was just too quiet within.
The hotel was located in the city center. Due to the rain, the traffic was not smooth, and they needed to wait a few rounds at just one traffic light alone. Ning Lan looked at the time. He was a little anxious, and stretched his head out to count the number of cars in front of them.
His behaviour made Sui Yi feel inexplicably annoyed. Was he that eager to deliver himself up?
The car crawled forward at the speed of a tortoise. When the conspicuous signboard of Green Tide Hotel could be seen, there was less than ten minutes left to 8pm.
Sui Yi did not expect that they would arrive so quickly. While queueing at the entrance to the parking lot, he let a number of cars cut the queue. Not feeling in a hurry at all, he slowly crept his car forward. Ning Lan could no longer wait anymore. Even though the car had yet to reach the entrance, he opened the door, speaking hurriedly, “I’m going first. Thank you.”
Sui Yi was too slow to lock the doors, and Ning Lan had already shot out of the car. Without thinking, he exited the car as well, striding over and grabbing hold of Ning Lan’s arm. “Why are you in such a hurry? There’s a lift at the parking lot that you can use.”
Ning Lan tried to block the rain with his hands, but the torrential downpour still soaked him thoroughly. He looked at the hotel entrance. “I can enter through there as well.”
He wanted to press forward, but Sui Yi still did not let go. Instead, the grip around his arm grew tighter.
Ning Lan’s forehead creased in pain, and he turned around. “What are you doing? Let go.”
Sui Yi was looking at him as well. He blurted out, “You’re so eager about selling yourself?”
Ning Lan was stunned, and very quickly understood what was going on. Sui Yi’s actions had been really unusual today, and he should have long guessed that he had heard something about this. Looking at how anxious Sui Yi was, he was probably worried again that he would be dragging the group down.
“Don’t worry,” Ning Lan said, “as long as you don’t say anything, no one will spread this around. It’s not like this is any good news that can be shared.”
Sui Yi became even more frustrated by Ning Lan’s nonchalant attitude, and his grip tightened further.
Ning Lan struggled a couple more times. Seeing that Sui Yi had no intention of letting him go, he looked up at him, “Could it be that Lead wants to go up with me and sell yourself too?”
Ning Lan’s lips quirked up. As though afraid that Sui Yi would not be able to hear him, he leaned closer. “Or… does Lead want to buy me himself?”
Ning Lan entered the hotel alone.
The room was located on the third floor. He did not take the lift, instead climbed up the marble steps. The staircase was broad and quiet, completely blocking out the wind and the rain. Soft, soothing music could be heard, reminding Ning Lan how different this place was from the outside.
At the corner of the second floor, there was a window that spanned from ceiling to floor. With the bright lights indoor, Ning Lan could see his reflection in the glass.
Miserable, unfortunate, ugly.
The smile full of provocation in the rain just now had long vanished. If he could see clearly, Ning Lan guessed that the foundation he had applied on his face earlier should have pretty much been washed off.
Some people would disguise themselves behind makeup, just like how he would use smiles to disguise his panic and anxiety.
He turned around, slowly sliding down with his back against the window.
He did not know if his actions could be considered a mistake. Being sold to a dark, dirty basement, and being sold to such a luxurious and decadent world, was there a difference?
Actually, they were all the same. He would only be lying to himself if he tried counting the differences with his fingers.
Ning Lan raised his hands, slowly covering his face, blocking the light shining directly into his eyes.
If only it was not raining.
The raindrops outside slid down the windows, blurring the vision of the person sitting inside the car, and even made the streetlights barely distinguishable.
Sui Yi parked his car in the parking lot, then remained sitting there, motionless. There was a hotel attendant who came over, knocking on his window asking him if he did not have an umbrella, and informing him that the hotel could provide guests with one. Sui Yi shook his head, winding the window up.
He understood that he should leave. Ning Lan had already gone in, and he might even be staying in one of the rooms in the hotel tonight, only coming out tomorrow when the sun was up.
But he did not want to leave. There was nowhere he could vent the inexplicable frustration within him, and so he could not leave yet.
After sitting there for some time, Sui Yi inhaled sharply. Opening the door, he walked into the rain.
Just as he entered the main hall of the hotel, he bumped into Ning Lan, who was slowly making his way down the stairs. His lips were slightly parted, his eyes blank and unfocused, and he paused after a couple of steps. Afraid that he would trip, Sui Yi quickly made his way to him.
When Ning Lan registered a figure suddenly appearing next to him, he got a shock and retreated. Only when he saw that it was Sui Yi, did he relax a little. He asked, astonished, “What… what are you doing here?”
The incomprehensible rage within Sui Yi was immediately extinguished upon hearing Ning Lan’s soft words.
Ning Lan was very pale, the redness in the corners of his eyes spreading, and he looked even worse than that time he had exploded in the dormitory. Sui Yi could not bring himself to say anything harsh. He reached out, wanting to grab his wrist, but slowly put his hand down after a moment of hesitation.
“Is it over?” Sui Yi asked.
Ning Lan lowered his eyes, grunting in acknowledgment.
“Then let’s go.”
One following the other, they walked into the rain. Sui Yi turned his head around a few times to look at the person behind him, a little regretful that he did not ask for an umbrella from the attendant.
Despite the rain, the summer was still warm and humid. On the way back, Sui Yi dared not set the AC at a temperature too low. Leaning back in the broad, comfortable sleep, Ning Lan dozed off, and when he woke up, they had already arrived at the underground garage of the dormitory.
Nearing the entrance, Ning Lan thanked Sui Yi again. Under the corridor lights, Sui Yi looked down and saw the very conspicuous mole on Ning Lan’s fair neck. He acknowledged his thanks indifferently, then inserted the key into the lock, opening the door.
For the next few days, Sui Yi still did not see Ning Lan in the dormitory and the company.
During the occasional periods of rest, Sui Yi’s mind would drift off, wondering if that night was a dream.
Sitting in his car, Ning Lan did not ignore him, and even smiled at him.
Nevermind that it was a mocking and challenging smile.
He did not really dare to think about what Ning Lan had experienced in the hotel during the period of less than an hour. Sui Yi eagerly wanted to forget this bridge that interrupted the rhythm of his life, but for some reason, he could not bear to do so. It was as though if he were to dig out this memory from his head, then some string would be broken, and he would never be able to repair it again.
Sui Yi exhaled lightly. It was good that that fellow did not appear as well. Every time he saw him, he would always feel a sense of having lost control of the direction, which made him very unhappy.
However, they were in the same group, and it was not possible for them to never meet.
There was still a week left until the showcase. An Lin brought a small video camera into the practice room, saying that she wanted to gather entertainment clips of the group.
The company had already given the instructions for this a while ago, but no one had expected that even their daily activities would be captured.
As it was a group event, everyone had to appear. Ning Lan was the last to hurry over. Today, he was dressed in a white T-shirt and black pants, his fringe combed back and tied into a little ponytail, and on his bright, clean forehead, there were starry beads of sweat.
“I was practicing my dancing just now, and forgot to check my phone. Sorry for being late,” Ning Lan gasped.
An Lin waved him off, signalling that it was fine. She turned on the video camera and started shooting.
At first, the youths were a little cautious. An Lin asked them to do whatever they liked, but they did not know what they should do. Finally, Wang Bingyang and Gao Ming kicked it off by performing a segment of the dance they would be presenting in the showcase, and the atmosphere finally improved. Other members started learning the dance moves, saying that the dance was too cool, and wanted to exchange their performance.
Everyone then started showing off the results of their practice over the past few days. When it came to Sui Yi and Fang Yu, the atmosphere was brought to a climax by the seductive movements of their dance. Lu Xiaochuan ran over, dragging up Ning Lan who was squatting in one corner, and insisted that he had to be his partner. Ning Lan was unable to dissuade him, and had no choice but to cooperate with him.
Lu Xiaochuan danced Sui Yi’s part, and while dancing, he roguishly praised Ning Lan for twisting his hips in a very attractive manner, so much so that he was about to harden from it.
Holding onto the video camera, An Lin coughed a few times. “Although we can edit the footage later, you should still avoid saying things that shouldn’t be said.”
Ning Lan was extremely embarrassed. Shrugging away Lu Xiaochuan’s arms, he ran back to his corner to continue squatting.
From just now, while turning around during the dance, Sui Yi kept looking at Ning Lan and Lu Xiaochuan dancing. In the past, Ning Lan did not know how to dance at all. Now, he only needed to watch a couple of times and he could pretty much learn the dance. However, such visible improvement could not make him happy.
His partner, Fang Yu, seemed rather unhappy as well, pursing his lips and quietly scolding, “Pervert”. Sui Yi turned to look at him, and he hurriedly stuck his tongue out, saying, “I wasn’t referring to you, Lead.”
This “Mountain Flower” CP each had worries on their minds, their dancing seemingly in harmony but actually at odds.