Part of a Your Most Faithful Companion translation project at fruitydeer.com.
Do not download, copy, or redistribute without permission.
Source: 不止是顆菜 by Bu Zhi Shi Ke Cai // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
Last one! A cute ending to these three shorts. I also just finished reading the side stories for Chang’an’s First Beauty (長安第一美人) by Fa Da De Lei Xian (發達的淚腺), so those chapters combined with these extras has left me feeling sweet like cotton candy.
The Frontier Poet x Little Golden Canary:
Childhood Playmates Alternate Universe (Part 3)
Early morning, golden sunlight filtered through the leaves of trees before scattering on the ground, bringing with it the cozy warmth of early summer.
As the season began, the temperature only got warmer and warmer. Ji Ming Shu was too lazy to bring her school uniform’s jacket and instead wore only her short-sleeved shirt with the light blue collar.
The short-sleeved shirt was the preparatory school’s summer uniform. On its collar was three buttons. Ji Ming Shu buttoned them up, but then quickly unbuttoned them again. Fastening them left her neck feeling too constricted and seemed to make the fabric around her chest to stretch more tautly.
By the time she left the dormitory, it was twenty minutes prior to morning study hall. Ji Ming Shu and her roommate descended the stairs while ruminating over a topic of discussion typical to that of high school students: “What should we eat this morning?” But who would have expected that just as they left the dormitory, they would run into Cen Sen, Jiang Che, and Shu Yang coming out of the boys’ dorms?
Typically, when this Cen Sen ge-ge made an appearance, everyone else would consciously step side. Her roommate reacted without surprise and patted her shoulder, purposely feigning a pitiful look as she sighed, “Looks like I can only munch on a bun all by my lonesome today.” After, she did not wait for Ji Ming Shu’s response before elegantly gesturing a goodbye.
Jiang Che and Shu Yang seemed like they were still half asleep. And once they saw Ji Ming Shu, they greeted her before heading off with their arms slung over each other’s shoulders in a tacit understanding.
As Ji Ming Shu watched them walked off, she stepped forth and passed her schoolbag to Cen Sen. She asked: “Why are you guys so late today?”
Third year high schoolers woke up earlier than roosters, usually sitting in the classroom studying before the sun was even up. Moreover, the college entrance exams were fast approaching, making them even more busy. So much so that even Ji Ming Shu and Cen Sen rarely had any opportunity to meet up recently.
Cen Sen took the bag, his voice a little hoarse: “All-nighter.”
Ji Ming Shu: “An all-nighter to review problem sets?”
Cen Sen replied with an “mn.”
Ji Ming Shu tilted her chin and gave him a once over, then suddenly uttered, “How is that possible, no dark undereyes after an all-nighter?”
As she spoke, she reached out and touched the area under Cen Sen’s eyes.
Cen Sen let her touch for a bit, not expecting that she would want a mile after winning an inch, even going on to pick at his lashes. He could only grab that finicky hand and pull it down. His line of sight followed their hands downwards and just happened to come across a piece of collarbone that was faintly discernible underneath that light blue collar. And further down, there was…
Cen Sen’s gaze changed, his voice cooling, “Button up.”
“Nagging about my skirt, nagging about my buttons, nagging about each and every thing.”
Ji Ming Shu grumbled on in a tiny voice, looking rather unhappy. Nevertheless, she still very obediently fastened her buttons, her eyes drooped low.
Cen Sen kept his eyes pinned on her, but he did not expect that, one by one, as the buttons were fastened and the collar was drawn together, the teenage girl’s curves suddenly became distinct. His gaze suddenly changed once more, his throat rolling unnoticeably. Subsequently, his voice dropped lower: “Loosen one.”
Ji Ming Shu: “?”
She looked up with a puzzled expression.
Cen Sen: “Loosen one button.”
Ji Ming Shu: “So do you want me to button them or loosen them?”
Cen Sen’s patience was at its end and he reached over directly to help her unfasten the topmost button. But even then, those curves were still present, so he went on and unfastened one more.
By then, it was just about time for the school day to begin. Students passing them by repeatedly glanced back at them. A handsome lad and pretty lady together had always been an eye-catching sight, but helping each other undo shirt buttons in broad daylight simply looked far too intimate.
On the contrary, Cen Sen’s state of mind was quite good, finishing up as if no one was around them. He even added, “Your clothes are too small. Go to the library after class and buy a new uniform.”
Ji Ming Shu responded with belated acknowledgement, feeling a little embarrassed. She wasn’t sure if it was a hallucination, but when Cen Sen’s was unfastening her button and his finger touched touched her, the tactile sensation of his callouses seemingly stilled at her collar. And for a long moment, that feeling did not dissipate.
Cen Sen was never much of a talker, and since Ji Ming Shu’s mind had wandered off, the entire ordeal of buying breakfast was spent in utter silence. Afterwards, Cen Sen sent Ji Ming Shu to the first floor of the first year’s teaching building.
When parting, Cen Sen suddenly asked, “Do you have enough cash to buy a uniform?”
Ji Ming Shu nodded absent-mindedly. But seconds later, she shook her head. Right now, she couldn’t remember how much money she grabbed when she left in the morning. All she carried was an expression of: “Don’t ask me, I may or may not have I lost my memory.”
Seeing her in this state, Cen Sen did not speak further, directly handing her the money on his person.
Because of Cen Sen’s repeated reminders, during break, Ji Ming Shu dragged her deskmate to the library to accompany her in buying a new uniform. She also wanted to go to the student store to buy some snacks, but her deskmate had her heart set on returning, “Nope, I can’t, I can’t, my little ancestor. You won’t starve from eating a little less. I still want to go back to fold roses!”
“What roses? You know how to fold roses?” Ji Ming Shu asked curiously.
“I just learned yesterday.” Her deskmate fiddled with the loose hair by her ear for a moment. Her voice faltered, her expression also becoming a tad fidgety. “It’s just that…isn’t that certain someone from Class 7’s birthday next week…”
Ji Ming Shu understood immediately, replying with a long “oh…” while pondering of something or another. Then she asked curiously, “Are those roses easy to fold?”
“You want to fold some too?”
“But who will you gift to?”
“Your Cen Sen ge-ge?”
“Yep, he’s going to take the entrance exams soon, I also ought to express…my well wishes.” Ji Ming Shu did not deny, but her little mind stirred and she found herself an honorable and fair excuse such as this.
Her deskmate turned to look at her and also offered a long “oh…” in return before ruthlessly pointing out: “That’s true. Won’t there be a ton of little vixens falling all over your Cen Sen ge-ge as soon as he’s done with exams? It wouldn’t be a bad idea to declare your sovereignty sooner.”
“What nonsense are you spouting!” Ji Ming Shu wanted to retort further, but her deskmate quickly followed up with, “But you definitely won’t be able to fold roses, how about you just fold some stars?”
Ji Ming Shu was incensed, “Why not?! Who are you looking down on?”
Deskmate: “Looking down on you, hm…”
Ji Ming Shu: “…?”
On the way back to class, the incensed Ji Ming Shu kept nagging at her deskmate, saying things like she’s so diligent and so beautiful and so kind so why she can’t fold roses? This was clearly discrimination on the grounds of judging someone based on their appearance! A true loss for morality!
In the end, her deskmate was indeed affrighted by her. After returning to the classroom, she spent an entire five minutes telling Ji Ming Shu to be good and stop talking, then begged her to fold stars and remain content with her lot.
If one’s level of clumsiness could also also be ranked, then Ji Ming Shu would have already reached great scholastic achievements. Not only was her success rate of folding stars 1-in-10, she just had to add another layer of difficulty for herself–a written note in every single star. At first, she had lofty ambitions of folding 1,314 stars, but after one morning, that number dropped down to 999. Then after an afternoon, that number once again dropped down to 520…1
The week before the college entrance exams, there was a Children’s Day holiday that didn’t have much to do with high school students, yet was something that high school students aggressively wanted to celebrate. Cen Sen had been preparing for his exams, so Ji Ming Shu dared not bother him. It was only on Children’s Day itself that Ji Ming Shu went to dawdle about at the first floor of the third year’s teaching building, waiting for their study hall to end.
The midsummer’s night was cool and crisp, the sky adorned with a veil of stars. And when the wind blew over, it brought along with it a slight warmth.
Every now and then, Ji Ming Shu would stand on her tippy toes and peek up the stairs. The bell signaling the end of study hall had passed long ago, but that familiar silhouette was still nowhere in sight. On the one hand, she wanted to go upstairs to see what was happening. On the other, she was worried that she might disturb Cen Sen.
She paced back and forth, waiting so long that her legs had become sore. She leaned against the wall, her head drooping down as she even began to feel a little sleepy.
After who knows how long, Ji Ming Shu suddenly felt someone stroking the back of her head. She looked up with drowsy eyes. “Cen Sen ge-ge.”
Cen Sen: “Waiting for me?”
Cen Sen: “Why didn’t you just come straight up?”
Ji Ming Shu: “I was worried about bothering you.”
Without waiting for Cen Sen to ask why she came to look for him, she took a little bottle out from behind her back, holding it as if it were treasure.
Really though, that bottle was just a tad too dainty. It was right about the size of the yogurt cup she usually drank. After an entire week, Ji Ming Shu only managed to make these measly ninety-nine.
Even she was a little embarrassed.
Cen Sen received it and gave it a once-over: “You folded these?”
Ji Ming Shu nodded, becoming shy for whatever reason: “Hope your entrance exams go well.”
Cen Sen seemed to be think of something or another as he nodded slowly, “So it turns out that folding stars is for wishing people good luck on their exams. Looks like I was mistaken.”
Ji Ming Shu: “Mistaken about what?”
“Nothing much. Recently, a lot of girls have been gifting stars, roses, and even a thousand paper swans. Jiang Che said that these were confessions, so I didn’t accept them. I’d better go and accept them later,” Cen Sen said nonchalantly.
On the other hand, Ji Ming Shu became anxious: “You can’t accept them!”
Cen Sen’s eyes lowered as he looked at her.
Ji Ming Shu: “With those ulterior motives of theirs, it’s definitely them confessing. You can’t accept them!”
“Ulterior motives.” Cen Sen repeated these words lackadaisically. He looked at her, then looked at the stars in his hand.
Ever so undignified, Ji Ming Shu’s face flushed red. Her hands clutched at the hem of her clothes, feeling as if she had never before acted with such embarrassment before. She turned around, wanting to run away, but Cen Sen’s eyes and hands were faster as he grabbed onto her wrist. Following this motion, she fell right into Cen Sen’s arms.
On Cen Sen was that usual, fragrant scent of fir trees. As she plastered against the warmth of his chest, she suddenly felt a little reluctant to part. After a long moment, she lifted her head and, once again without warning, fell into his serene and dark eyes.
Ji Ming Shu probed: “Will…will you start dating after taking the entrance exams?”
Cen Sen: “I don’t know.”
“Even though you’ll be free after your exams, I don’t think you should be in such a hurry to date. You’re so smart, you should put an infinite amount of your finite energy on your studies,” Ji Ming Shu said with a straight face.
Cen Sen seemed as if he were seriously contemplating her suggestion. In the end, he spoke in a low voice: “I think so too. Your grades are already so unstable, dating will affect your studies.”
Ji Ming Shu blanked out for a long moment before finally understanding what Cen Sen meant. She failed to realize that she had already been pulled into Cen Sen’s embrace as she continued blathering on: “I…that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that, even though after you start college you should focus on studying, you, you have to strike a balance between work and rest. In fact, if you have the energy, there’s nothing you can’t do…”
Jiang Che and Shu Yang were on clean-up duty, so they came down a bit later than Cen Sen. When they got to the second floor of the stairwell, all they saw was this risqué sight of touchy-feeling hugging.
Jiang Che & Shu Yang: “…”
Reporting a violation of school policies.2
- 1314 (一三一四 // yi san yi si) is chatspeak for 一生一世 (yi sheng yi shi) which translates as ‘one life, one era‘ and basically means ‘eternity.’ It usually precedes something like 520 (五二零 // wu er ling), which is chatspeak for ‘I love you‘ (我愛你 // wo ai ni). For 999, the Chinese word for the number nine (九 // jiu) is a homonym for 久久久 which means ‘forever, forever, forever.’ Basically, these came about because Mandarin pronunciation for those phrases also sound vaguely like those numbers.
- Many Taiwanese schools don’t allow students to date since adults think it affects their studies. I assume it’s the same thing in China. There’s even a term for it called「早戀」which means something like early [age] dating.