The rehearsal ended before 8 o’clock that day. AK received a call from his family that asked him to go home for dinner since his sister had returned.
Fu Cuo heard AK arguing with his mother for a long time on his phone, who said that he won’t be allowed to eat if he doesn’t go back soon. AK’s mother sighed at how his daughter had finally returned and yet her son was too stubborn. AK said that they could just have dinner tomorrow.
‘How could you go back on your word?!’ ‘I never said that I would!’, and so on.
Tan Si, who’d been keeping quiet nearby, sighed, “You’d better go back.”
AK refused, saying that it was fine.
“Listen to Tan Si,” Fu Cuo said. “Don’t always make your mother angry.”
AK took a look at Fu Cuo, feeling a bit wronged, before he got up from the back of his drumset with his drumsticks in hand. He muttered, “But I want to practice with you guys…”
Tan Si said with a smile, “It’s fine. I think we’ll have a day off today anyways. I just saw the weather forecast saying that it might rain soon. We didn’t bring an umbrella. Go back early. We’ll practice again tomorrow.”
Fu Cuo pushed the boat into the current as he nodded. Sometimes he admired Tan Si. He could not only persuade AK, but also make AK go happily.
After seeing AK off, he and Tan Si also went back together. Tan Si got home before him. As usual, he stopped downstairs and watched Tan Si walk inside. But for some reason, this time he stayed longer than usual.
He wanted his friends to stay with him a little longer, but he couldn’t say it out loud. Finally, he went to walk aimlessly on the streets alone.
The weather forecast was correct. A drizzle soon began to fall. Fu Cuo looked at the raindrops that were lighter than cotton candy dripping down from the skies. He thought it was interesting about how Tan Si’s excuse turned out to not just be an excuse.
There was a CD store one block away from where he was. It wasn’t very big nor formal. It sold both genuine and pirated copies, but it was his little paradise. When he was depressed like this, he’d come there to visit and listen to music. Sometimes, he wouldn’t even listen to anything, he wouldn’t buy anything either. He’d just look at the colorful CDs on the shelves and gain some kind of strength.
Behind each CD, it felt like there were a pair of arms that would reach out to him. From those unruly lead singers, bassists, guitarists and drummers who were bound to compete with the world, from childhood to adulthood, he’d receive an illusion-like embrace from such people.
There was no one at the store. He put on the headphones and listened to the familiar song. It was from LOTUS’ third new album, the latest song called “Rooftop.“
He didn’t know if it was because they were his idol, but just looking at the title of the song, he knew what it wanted to convey. Although the lyrics didn’t mention the words from beginning to end, no vague words like, “Hope” or “Persistence,” it seemed like a song purely written for him at this moment.
After finishing the song, he felt the stare of the store owner on his back. Fu Cuo took off the headphones and hung them back. As soon as he turned around, he was stunned.
Outside the shop stood a figure wearing a baseball cap and a dark blue Plush hoodie. The hood was pulled up, covering the top of the baseball cap. He offhandedly thought that Sui Qingchi loved this chuuni, eighth-grader-like attire way too much.
But it could not hinder his beauty. The lamp outside the shop finely illuminated the handsome face of the young man.
Later, he also found that Sui Qingchi, who was a teenager, and Sui Qingchi, who became a superstar in the future, had a certain trait that always stayed the same. It was not the so-called defect that was criticized by people, but the unique yet charming temperament that no one could deny.
Sui Qingchi was standing outside the window, still some distance from the CD store. There was a banyan tree on the sidewalk with a row of bicycles parked nearby. He was standing in front of this ordinary background. He should’ve unilaterally passed by. But for some unknown reason, he’d stopped.
The boy in the hoodie looked a little embarrassed. Obviously, he didn’t expect to be caught peeping, but as it was already like this, he could only stiffly walk inside.
When Sui Qingchi came in, Fu Cuo could clearly see the marks the rain left on his shoulders. He must’ve been standing there for that whole song, at least.
Sui Qingchi looked around and asked him, “Why not buy it?”
“Oh,” Fu Cuo said in a low voice. With a little regret he said, “I don’t have enough money with me.”
Sui Qingchi nodded with an odd air of understanding. His hands were always stuffed in his pockets. It must have been a little cold. The weather forecast said that the temperature would begin to drop starting from today. Sui Qingchi clearly didn’t know it. Fu Cuo thought that he too, if Tan Si hadn’t said it before, wouldn’t have known to wear extra clothes.
Fu Cuo thought about the injury on Sui Qingchi’s wrist he’d caught a glimpse of in the morning. He was a little worried. The boy took his hand out of his pocket, pulled down his hood, and took the pair of headphones to wear, directly backing up the song.
Fu Cuo watched him softly nodding his head as he attentively listened to the song. As soon as he lowered his eyes, he could see the long and thick lashes slightly fluttering. The boy’s slender eyelashes trembling imperceptibly in the air. Suddenly, like an illusion, it seemed that the music pouring into Sui Qingchi’s ears, gently blew on his lashes like a gust of wind.
He didn’t know why, obviously, he was the most confident about his idol, but he’s shamefully worried at this moment. Sui Qingchi was a very rebellious person. Fu Cuo wasn’t very confident that he’d like this song. He was even less confident that he’d like such a mainstream rock band. He thought that maybe he should’ve recommended a different LOTUS song.
Four or five minutes passed by like nothing. As the spinning CD stopped, Sui Qingchi took off the headphones and hung it back. He whispered, “It sounds nice.”
‘It does?’ Fu Cuo was a little surprised. Was that a compliment? …No way.
It was impossible. Sui Qingchi would definitely not compliment anyone. You could tell just by his face.
Sui Qingchi turned around to stroll around the store. Fu Cuo saw him go to the front of the CD rack, pick up the CD and went straight to the counter to pay.
The cashier looked up at the cold-faced boy in the baseball cap, then bowed his head back down. In a soft voice, he asked, “Do you want a bag?”
“No.” Sui Qingchi took the CD and unpacked it. He went to the door of the store and held it open. He looked back at Fu Cuo, who was still frozen in place. “You’re not going?”
“Ah?” Fu Cuo returned to his senses and hurried over, “Let’s go.”
Outside the store, Sui Qingchi opened the CD, and pulled out the lyrics book to read it. After roughly turning the pages, he stuffed it back, closed the CD box, and gave it to him.
Fu Cuo looked at Sui Qingchi, who held the CD towards him in surprise. He blinked, “For me?”
“Didn’t you say that you had no money? I happen to have some,” Sui Qingchi said.
Fu Cuo thought, ‘No, shouldn’t you still be mad with me because of this morning?’
But he still picked it up and said thank you, “I’ll pay you back at school on Monday.”
“No,” Sui Qingchi put his hand back into his pockets, and turned to walk ahead, “I’m giving it to you.”
Fu Cuo was puzzled, “Why?”
“Take me to dinner,” Sui Qingchi said. “My house is empty. I’m hungry.”
When Fu Cuo thought of his family, he nodded with a smile, “Okay, what do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know. Whatever. Eat whatever you want.”
From “I don’t know,” to “Whatever,” and then to “Whatever you want,” two compromises were made in one sentence. It was too much. Fu Cuo thought it was funny. Maybe Tan Si’s first impression of Sui Qingchi was correct – he won’t say it, but he’d remember it in his heart.
‘Where should I take him to eat?’
Fu Cuo looked down at the gift in his hand and thought to himself. Sui Qingchi was a rich second generation, so he can’t eat too casually. He secretly took out his wallet and looked at it. Sui Qingchi simply looked back and said, “We’ll have noodles if you don’t have enough money.”
Fu Cuo was surprised. Sui Qingchi was rebellious, with a horrid temper. But unexpectedly, he was also observant and considerate.
Sui Qingchi saw him in a daze and frowned. He was a little speechless, “You don’t even have enough for noodles?”
“No, there’s enough.”
Fu Cuo strode forward, “Let’s go. It’s enough for you to eat a big bowl with meat, vegetables and fried eggs!”
He took Sui Qingchi to a noodle shop he often went to. The store wasn’t big, but the taste was well-known. It was past eight o’clock, but there were still many guests, leaving only an empty table near the door. Sui Qingchi sat on the inside. The wind was still pouring in. He unconsciously shrunk his shoulders.
Fu Cuo brought back two bowls of noodles, then sat on the side near the door.
It wasn’t a coincidence that the wind was blocked by his back. Sui Qingchi looked up at him, took his hand out of his pocket, and pulled out a pair of chopsticks to separate.
He then handed them to Fu Cuo, not bothering to look at whether the other party took it over with a smile or not, and stared silently at his bowl. As promised, there were boiled peas and beef, with golden fried eggs warmly perched on top of it.
He picked up the fried egg, took a bite, but unexpectedly choked.
Fu Cuo looked up at him, “Is it too spicy?”
Sui Qingchi wanted to say something, but he could only cough when he opened his mouth. This made him feel ashamed. He forgot to say that he couldn’t eat spicy food
“You can’t eat spicy food? Then don’t eat it,” Fu Cuo got up and took away the bowl. “I’ll go change it to a bowl of chicken soup noodles.”
Sui Qingchi took the noodles back. With a hoarse voice, he said, “It’s fine. It’ll be warmer to eat spicy food.”
Are you kidding? This guy didn’t have much money to begin with. Could he afford to get chicken soup noodles with beef, peas and fried eggs?
Fu Cuo saw Sui Qingchi almost tearing up due to the spice. He put down his chopsticks and went to the kitchen to order a bowl of hot soup.
Sui Qingchi quickly gulped down his drink. He still coughed, but he coughed a little more gently.
Because Sui Qingchi was coughing while eating, the whole store was shocked stupid by the noise. Fu Cuo was very sorry and didn’t know what to say. After eating two mouthfuls of noodles, he looked at him anxiously.
Sui Qingchi lowered his head and drank half a bowl of soup in one breath. He exhaled, and said, “Don’t look at me like that. I’m not that pathetic.”
Fu Cuo could only bow his head and eat his noodles quietly. He couldn’t help but think, but you’re coughing so badly, others can’t turn a blind eye to you.
The surrounding diners also looked at Sui Qingchi from time to time. Although his coughing fit was a bit much, what truly can’t be ignored was his overly handsome appearance. It seemed that such a small and crowded noodle shop had flourished because of the arrival of this young man named Sui Qingchi.
At this time, Fu Cuo didn’t know that Sui Qingchi would become a brilliant person in the future, they would never have the opportunity to sit in such a street shop and eat a bowl of noodles filled with beef, peas and fried eggs with such dense heat in the midst of rain and cold.
After eating, the two walked along the riverbank side by side. Fu Cuo still felt bad, “Sorry, I should’ve asked if you could have spicy food first.”
Sui Qingchi sighed. He really wanted to say, ‘Can’t you just shut up?’ and it took every fiber of his being to swallow it back down. When he saw something flying over the river, he asked, “What is that?”, coincidentally changing the topic.
Fu Cuo looked over and said, “Oh, someone is skipping rocks.”
“Stones, in the water,” said Fu Cuo. Seeing that Sui Qingchi was still clueless, he explained, “You know when you throw rocks…”
Sui Qingchi immediately cut him off, as if he’d lost face because he didn’t know.
Fu Cuo stooped down to grab a few small stones in his hands, “I’m really good at this. I’ll teach you.”
Sui Qingchi’s conditioned reflex wanted to say, ‘I was just asking, I’m not actually interested,’ but what he actually said was, “How good are you?”
Fu Cuo threw one out. The stone jumped five times on the water and then sank with a soft ‘plop’. Sui Qingchi looked at him with drooping eyelids. Fu Cuo was a little embarrassed, he moved his wrist and said, “I was just warming up!”
It was like the more he strives for victory, the more he couldn’t let go. After a while, it only skipped six or seven times. All the stones in his hand were thrown away. He turned around to pick up some more. Sui Qingchi was getting tired and squatted as he stared at his back.
Fu Cuo blushed a little, thinking that it was good that the sky was dark so Sui Qingchi couldn’t see his face properly. When looking for the stones, Sui Qingchi also helped him find some. He gave them to him, but he didn’t seem to have any expectations. On his face was clearly written, “Just do what you want.“
Fu Cuo sighed. He was very competitive. He still remembered that when he was younger, he would come to the river alone to go skip stones. As he grew older, his skills in skipping stones should’ve been good enough to prove to this new friend.
The stones thrown were like fireworks. At first, there were only a few, but then more and more, they gradually burst and disappeared into the river. When Sui Qingchi realized it, the calm river had already been covered with ripples for a while. The quiet bank was surrounded by the soft sounds of splashing water.
The skies above became darker and darker. When Fu Cuo finally managed to throw it far, he couldn’t see how far it skipped anymore. He despondently shrugged, “It’s too far away to see.”
“Eleven.” Sui Qingchi said behind him.
“Ah?” Fu Cuo turned around and saw that Sui Qingchi had already stood up, standing behind him. “Can you see that far?”
“I listened.” Sui Qingchi took off his baseball cap then put it back on. He said, “My ears are really good. It’s a pity that I can’t teach you.”
Fu Cuo didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Do you still want to throw more?” Sui Qingchi said, “I’ll help you listen.”
Fu Cuo nodded. He was also motivated. The next stone skipped twelve times! When Sui Qingchi reported his results, he clapped his hands in satisfaction, “My personal best is twelve.”
Sui Qingchi saw Fu Cuo turn around, as if he was going back. He couldn’t help but say, “Now that you’re here, you should break your record.”
Fu Cuo had just a few stones left in his hand, so he nodded, “Okay, let’s throw them all and see if I can break it!”
As he was getting ready to throw, Sui Qingchi held onto him. Fu Cuo was stunned silent. Sui Qingchi looked at the bridge and said, “Wait for the car to pass to throw it.”
Fu Cuo was about to ask where, or what car, when he saw a truck coming from a distance and slowly passing the bridge.
When it drove away, Sui Qingchi said, “Throw it.”
The street lights couldn’t reach where they were. Fu Cuo couldn’t see Sui Qingchi’s expression, but he could tell how serious he was by his voice. This was the moment of his careful selection. Most of the time, a chuunibyou wouldn’t even care if the world explodes into a billion pieces. What could make him serious, even if it was something trivial, must’ve been very important to him.
A silence filled the riverbank once more. Fu Cuo stood by the river, like a bowler standing in Jiaziyuan, throwing his dream ball towards the boundless water.
The dream should not be so easy to reach. This time, there were still 12 times to beat, but he had already prepared himself.
He threw the stone in his palm. This time it was eleven skips.
After throwing it again and again, he was like a broken record, hovering between eleven and twelve. It seemed that there could be no more, until finally, there was only one last stone left in his palm.
Fu Cuo sighed and shouted at the river, “Last one! Go!”
The rest was left up to fate.
Sui Qingchi closed his eyes and listened to the stone skipping five, six, seven, and eight in one go. If it continued to soar above the water like this…
It was like fireworks, blooming in the night sky, unyielding to its vast surroundings. It let out a splendid ripple.
He held his breath, full of anticipation, but in the end, he could only regret that it stopped at twelve.
He pricked up his ears, but there was no sound other than the past, shallowing ripples.
As Fu Cuo looked at him expectantly, Sui Qingchi opened his eyes. With a seemingly indifferent smile he tried to disguise, he said, “Congratulations, you broke the record.”
Even in such darkness, he could somehow see how the eyes of the person in front of him suddenly lit up like stars. Shimmering and bright, in the dead of night.
Fu Cuo stretched out his hand excitedly, wanting to make a fist with Sui Qingchi, who slowly took out the hand in his pocket. He stretched it out a little faster than usual, but only he knew that it was that much faster.
The hand in his pocket was cold, while the hand that held the cold stones was warm, probably because of exercise and movements. Fu Cuo held Sui Qingchi’s cold hands, feeling the palm of this friend who was two years younger than him. He finally did it. Finally.
is trying their best :]