It might be the last chance in their high school career to get to laugh wildly like this without any inhibitions.

Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

         Almost every time he went to the drugstore, Gu Fei would run into Lao-Xu getting his herbal medications filled. He almost suspected that Lao-Xu might have been diagnosed with some kind of incurable illness.

         “Be honest, what exactly do you have?” He blocked Lao-Xu outside the drugstore one time. “You’ve been picking up medications every week.”

         “It’s all qi and blood supplementing stuff,” Lao-Xu opened a paper wrapped pack of herbs and showed him. “I’m just a little deficient in everything, that’s all, it’s like this every time I teach a senior class.”

         “Really?” Gu Fei looked at the herbs. To be quite honest, he didn’t recognize any of it.

         “Now, why would I lie to you,” Lao-Xu said before shooting him a look, then started laughing. “Ayyy, this kid.”

         “What are you laughing at?” Gu Fei looked back at him. “I just mean that if you’ve really got some kind of terminal illness, you should tell us the truth. It’s not like we’re members of your family, there’s no reason to hide it.”

         “It’s true that my health isn’t the greatest, but I’m not quite terminal.” Lao-Xu clapped Gu Fei’s arm happily. “Kid, you say such unflattering things, but I’m very touched.”

         “Boss,” Gu Fei said, looking at him. “Why do you bother? You wear yourself out like this, but no one appreciates what you do for them, and no one’s gonna buy into it.” 

         “Says who,” Lao-Xu pointed at him. “You for one, appreciates what I do.”

         Gu Fei didn’t answer.

         “For most people, they only go through school once. If they miss out, then that’s it.” Lao-Xu said. “And when you look back a decade or two later, you may just regret it, you may say if only my teachers reined me in a little more back then, I wouldn’t have turned out like this…… My goal is to, as much as possible, not let you kids have regrets later. If I can pull one student up, that’s one student more. Anyways, this is what we do as teachers.”

         Gu Fei stared at him. Frankly, Lao-Xu had made similar speeches more than a few times in the past. From the first year of high school until now, he lost track of how many times he had heard this before. Every time he heard it in the past, he only felt somewhat hollow and empty, and not able to empathize with it at all.

         It was only now, when he once again heard Lao-Xu say these things, that he felt for the first time something different.

         “Mhm,” He answered, clapped Lao-Xu on the shoulder, then turned and walked into the drugstore. “You’ve worked hard, boss.”

         “You’ve also been coming here frequently, what medicine are you buying?” Lao-Xu asked after him.

         “Kidney supplements.” Gu Fei turned back and answered. [1]

         “…… You just can’t be serious for more than a second!” Lao-Xu sighed.

         Jiang Cheng was sitting with his eyes half closed, memorizing text passages. He actually looked like he was enjoying the process, the way he was stepping on the chair with his legs bent and his chin resting on his knees.

         The fact that he could get into a state like this while studying, was impressive on its own.

         Gu Fei took two vials of the Shi Quan Da Bu out of their packaging, stuck straws in each of them, and set them on the desk in front of Jiang Cheng. These days, the guy tended to go on for a shockingly long time once he started his memorization, and unless he stopped himself, he’d glare at anyone who dared to disturb him midway.

         “The reason and the impact of the boom in multiple schools of thoughts in simultaneous contention,” Jiang Cheng reached out his hand and grabbed one of the vials, then pointed at Gu Fei. “Classmate Gu Fei, go.”

         “Politically… the society went through a period of major changes and turbulence; every vassal state was keen on attracting talents, in order to strengthen their own state……” Gu Fei continued out of reflex. “Economically… the widespread use of metal tools and oxen for tilling…… blahblahblahblah.”

         “Provided the material conditions for increases in production power and socioeconomic development.” Jiang Cheng glanced at him. “How come the medicine today tastes so sweet.”

         “I switched it up,” Gu Fei said. “This one is for preventing colds.”

         “…… Why do I have to prevent against colds?” Jiang Cheng blinked. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cold.”

         “That’s why you should prevent against it. They’ve already cut off the indoor heating, or did you not notice?” Gu Fei bent down and looked at him.

         “I know,” Jiang Cheng tutted. “The second practice exam is soon, of course they’ve cut it off by this time.”

         “Are you numbering your days according to practice exams now?” Gu Fei smiled.

         “Mhm,” Jiang Cheng nodded. “All I have in my head now is the practice exams one and two and three and four, five and six and eighteen strokes……” [2]

         He said as he ran his hand all over Gu Fei’s leg, from his thigh all the way to his calf, “Oho check out these long straight legs on my boyfriend.”

         Even as he said this, his eyes were still glued to his book. Gu Fei felt like laughing, “When you say things like this, can you act a little more professional and at least spare me a glance?”

         “Ah,” Jiang Cheng turned and looked at him. “Oh fuck, so handsome. Check out this good looking face on my boyfriend…… You got a short buzz cut again?”

         “I got Li Yan to give me a little trim yesterday.” Gu Fei lifted a tuft of hair on Jiang Cheng’s forehead. “Cheng-ge, how’s about you take one hour out of your day tomorrow to let the design director Li give you a new hairstyle? It’s almost covering your eyes.”

         “What’s a design director civet [li]?” Jiang Cheng blinked.

         “Li Yan.” Gu Fei said.

         Jiang Cheng paused, then leaned back in his chair as he cracked up with laughter, “Alrighty then, let the design director civet give me a haircut like yours, that way I won’t have to worry about it for a while.”

         “That won’t do, the shorter it is the more often you’ll have to maintain it, otherwise it’ll easily become like a ball of cactus.” Gu Fei said. “It should last you longer if you just get a little trim.”

         “Alrighty then, whatever you say.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

         And that was about it for the slivers of conversation he managed to get with Jiang Cheng. Other than that, they were also able to get a little conversation in before bed, but usually by the time they got to the fourth sentence, Jiang Cheng would already be asleep.

         “You look like you’re about to die from fatigue.” Gu Fei said with his arms around Jiang Cheng.

         “It’s alright, there’s just too many things to memorize; I’m not good at memorizing texts.” Jiang Cheng turned around halfway and leaned further into Gu Fei’s embrace. “These days I’m reciting passages in every waking moment, and even while asleep.”

         “Do you regret it yet? If you had chosen STEM way back when, you wouldn’t have to do so much memorization.” Gu Fei smiled. “Not to mention, you’d get a higher score too.”

         “Regret my ass, if I had time to regret, there’s more where that came from. Why did I used to skip so many classes, and get into fights; why did I used to only cram for exams two weeks before……” Jiang Cheng said. “If I were to start regretting, there’d be no end to it.”

         “That’s true,” Gu Fei smiled. “Cheng-ge is right.”

         “Besides, the problem sets in STEM subjects are annoying too. It’s all annoying, but at this point, there’s nothing left to do but to get a grip and keep churning……” Jiang Cheng said as he rubbed Gu Fei’s leg. “I feel like I’m becoming near-sighted. Yesterday when I tried on your glasses, I was actually able to see pretty clearly.”

         “Don’t just wear any glasses,” Gu Fei said. “Why don’t you go get your vision checked.”

         “There’s no time for that. I can see just fine anyways, I’m probably just ti—” Halfway through the sentence, Jiang Cheng suddenly went quiet.

         He fell asleep.

         It was quite powerful, really. Gu Fei thought as he pulled the covers over Jiang Cheng. The sentence before had been crisp and clear with no logical fallacies, and the following sentence was suddenly asleep.jpg.

         Although the others in their class who were still trying to study were not that different. They didn’t even look as energized as Jiang Cheng, at least Jiang Cheng wouldn’t fall asleep in class. These days, even Yi Jing could often be found slumped over her desk during class.

         It felt like not long after the first practice exam ended, it was already time for the second practice exam.

         Lao-Xu stood in the corridor, watching as the students from his class filed into the testing room, and reminded each of them, “Try to relax, read the questions carefully, and plan your time well……”

         Gu Fei walked into the classroom and looked around. This time, they were seated in a different order yet again from the arrangement of the first practice exam. It seemed they changed it up every time.

         The people around him all wore solemn expressions that didn’t vary between the students with good grades and students with bad grades. Sweeping his gaze across the room, it seemed like everyone was an overachiever.

         However, the difference was clear once they actually started to answer the questions.

         Even though everyone had their heads buried, and would start writing after reading each question, one would still be able to tell from their bearing whether the student knew what they were doing or not.

         It used to be that Gu Fei would draw answers out of scraps of papers at random as he went through each question, while at the same time observing the people around him. It was a rather wonderful feeling, to feel like none of it really mattered.

         However, now that he couldn’t just draw answers randomly, there was a lot more pressure. To kind of know something but not be sure about it was the most torturous. He relied mostly on his memory of Jiang Cheng’s mumbling fragments of memorization. If you asked him to write the whole thing out, he didn’t know it enough. But if he were to piece the fragments together as he went, there wasn’t quite enough time for that.

         On the other hand, the questions in the second practice exam were much harder than the first one. He wondered how his boyfriend was doing in the classroom next door.

         Two days of exams didn’t sound like very much, but when the bell rang, signalling that it was time to hand in the test papers, and the end of the last subject, Gu Fei still felt an immense sense of relief.

         He didn’t have that much time after he finished the questions, just barely enough to do a very cursory once-over.

         When he stood up to hand the papers in, there was a sudden commotion from the first row—the sound of desks and chairs bumping together.

         Gu Fei looked over just in time to see that one row away from him, Yi Jing had collapsed on the ground. The sound of a head thumping hard against the floor was disturbing. The other students instantly devolved into a disorderly chaos.

         He dashed over in two strides, crouched down, and carefully turned Yi Jing over. Her face was pale and her eyes shut—she seemed to have fainted.

         Next came the invigilating teacher’s slightly anxious voice, “What’s wrong?”

         “Someone passed out!” One student shouted.

         “Yi Jing from class-8 fainted!” Another student yelled.

         “Quick, take her to the infirmary!” The invigilating teacher squeezed into the crowd. “Someone, go notify the teacher on patrol!”

         “I’ll carry her.” Gu Fei said.

         A few others helped to lift Yi Jing onto Gu Fei’s back, and Gu Fei immediately started running out the door.

         The other teachers had all gathered outside, with Lao-Xu at the very front, “How come she passed out! Why did she pass out! Is she hurt from the fall?!”

         “It’s probably not that serious.” Gu Fei said as he ran toward the stairs.

         “What’s wrong!” Wang Xu dashed up to them.

         Gu Fei glanced at him, and saw that the guy’s eyes were already red, even his voice was hoarse.

         He didn’t refuse when Wang Xu jumped to take Yi Jing from him, and transferred her into his arms. By the rush going through Wang Xu at that moment, he would definitely get to the infirmary twice as fast as Gu Fei.

         “Yi Jing! Yi Jing! Yi Jing!” Wang Xu kept calling her name. He forwent the option of carrying her on his back, and went straight to picking her up in his arms. The speed at which he raced downstairs was almost too fast for Gu Fei to catch up, despite not carrying any weight.

         Under Lao-Xu’s lead, everyone from class-8 rushed to the infirmary. The doctor had already received the call, but was still startled by this massive throng of people.

         As soon as Yi Jing was placed on a bed, she started kicking people out, “Get out, everyone out! And quiet down!”

         Other than Wang Xu—who refused to leave—and Lao-Xu, everyone else was kicked out.

         When it came to the students at Fourth High, if they were to gather everyone who genuinely treated the University Entrance Exams as a big deal, it wouldn’t even fill up one classroom. However, the pressure that came with the exams was something that everyone felt. Today there would be a student falling sick in this class, and the next day someone from another class would take a sick leave; and now they got a student collapsing right in the examination room.

         Everyone standing outside the infirmary door had frowns on their faces. 

         “Did she hit her head?” Jiang Cheng asked quietly beside Gu Fei.

         “Yeah,” Gu Fei turned to him. “It was loud too, but the chair kind of broke her fall, so it’s probably not that serious.”

         “Mhm,” Jiang Cheng sighed. “When I heard Wang Xu yelling like that I… that gave me a scare. I almost twisted my ankle running over here.”

         “She should be fine, probably just didn’t sleep enough from all the stress.” Gu Fei said quietly. “That’s why I keep telling you not to sleep past 2 a.m.”

         “I always go to sleep on time, don’t worry.” Jiang Cheng smiled.

         Yi Jing’s condition was not too bad. She simply lacked rest, was under too much pressure, and did not eat breakfast that day before coming to write the exams. She probably felt uneasy during the test, but managed to stick it out until the end, before she finally relaxed and passed out.

         Even so, she only rested at home for one day before returning to class.

         “See, sometimes people can bear much more than they think they could.” Jiang Cheng said. “Take Yi Jing, she looks like a gust of wind can knock her over, but see how much pressure she can take.”

         “I really think,” Gu Fei frowned. “You shouldn’t push yourself to that point.”

         “I won’t, I have a healthy foundation.” Jiang Cheng lifted his arms. “So. Strong.”

         Gu Fei laughed, “You haven’t worked out for what, six months now. At least before, you could do some exercising in bed, but now even that little bit of exercise is canceled…” 

         “Sir, can you please watch your language when you speak?” Jiang Cheng looked around. “We’re in public.”

         “I’m just protesting quietly here,” Gu Fei lowered his voice. “Will there be compensation after the exams?”

         “Uh huh,” Jiang Cheng threw his head back and laughed for a while. “I’ve been thinking about this, we gotta go at least a few hundred rounds of it after the exams. This summer, I won’t do anything else but you.”

         “Uh huh, it’s important to have dreams in life…” Gu Fei said as he laughed.

         Before the results of the second practice exams came out, there was a sort of lightness in the air, the kind one felt after studying day and night for a test that was finally over. But it did not last very long.

         The countdown on the blackboard changed from three digits to two. It changed every day, and with every change, it would shake up a storm in everyone’s hearts.

         Some were nervous—time was quickly running out; while some were anxious—hurry up and get it over with so summer break could come.

         When the scores came out for the second practice exams, it didn’t do much to change the students’ emotional states. The nervous ones became even more nervous, and the anxious ones became even more anxious.

         The singular exception was Lao-Xu, who seemed to have collected all these feelings for himself, going through an emotional rollercoaster every day.

         Jiang Cheng’s total score on the second practice exams was 656. While the difficulty had gone up this time, so did his scores. Gu Fei felt like whenever Lao-Xu saw Jiang Cheng, flowers could blossom out of his eyes.

         “If you come up with 700 on the third one, Lao-Xu could probably bounce all the way from the ground level to the third floor.” Gu Fei said. “Then if you come back with a top of the province during the official exams, Lao-Xu could probably piggy-back you for 20 laps around the downtown square.”

         “Dream on,” Jiang Cheng laughed for a good while. “You really are underestimating the other overachievers out there.”

         “Wasn’t the 1st place last year for Humanities 650 something, I think it’s not entirely out of reach.” Gu Fei leaned back against the wall and swung his legs back and forth.

         “There are Humanities 1st place holders elsewhere that get close to 700. If I hadn’t come here, and instead been at the Associated High until now, would I be able to do better? There’s no way to compare these things.” Jiang Cheng also leaned back and swung his legs along with Gu Fei. “Like you said the other day, wouldn’t it have been better if I’d chosen the STEM stream? There’s no need to think about these things, since they didn’t happen anyway. I only ever look forward.”

         “Mmn,” Gu Fei smiled. “Now that’s breadth.”

         “Don’t look back, don’t look around, and there’s no problem. If you keep looking back as you walk, it’s easy to trip and fall.” Jiang Cheng tilted his head a little. “At most, I’ll take the time to look at you.”

         “Keep your voice down,” Gu Fei glanced forward. “Zhou Jing’s hearing is really getting sharp these days.”

         “Did you call me?” Zhou Jing swiftly turned his head around.

         “Want candy?” Gu Fei asked.

         “Yeah!” Zhou Jing nodded vehemently.

         Gu Fei scrounged up a few pieces of candy from his pocket and handed it over, and Zhou Jing accepted them happily.

         After Zhou Jing turned back and continued slumping over his own desk, Gu Fei said in a suppressed voice, “See that?”

         “I did,” Jiang Cheng drew back a little with his exaggerated expression of horror. “Scared me to death.”

         Gu Fei glanced at him, then put his head down and started to laugh.

         “The hell you laughing for.” Jiang Cheng pulled a set of papers toward him and started writing, then after a moment also cracked up. “Wasn’t it frightening?”

         Gu Fei didn’t answer, but continued to giggle nonstop.

         Jiang Cheng could not keep talking either, as he laughed along with Gu Fei, still holding the paper.

         “What?” Zhou Jing once again turned around. “What’s so funny?”

         Neither of them responded as they laughed uncontrollably, unable to stop. Jiang Cheng had a mind to keep it down, since there were quite a few others in the class still studying, but seeing the total confusion on Zhou Jing’s face only made him laugh harder.

         In these days of crushing, high intensity studying, even the people who had already given up were repressed into silence by the pressure in the atmosphere. The usual chatterboxes were all quiet.

         And now, hearing someone else laughing hysterically, it was as if a switch had been flipped, and the laughter soon spread from a couple of people to the entire classroom.

         In the short span of less than 20 seconds, and for no reason at all, the whole class was howling hysterically.

         It was like a release, but also like venting. An entire classroom of students simultaneously laughing out loud with what was almost like a sense of collective honour. Some of them teared up from laughing, while others slammed the desks and kicked the chairs as they laughed.

         Lao-Lu stood up from where he was sitting at the lectern in shock. He held the pointer stick, but didn’t know where exactly to point it. Then after standing there for a while, he put the pointer stick down and also started laughing.

         By the time the patrolling Guidance Director came running, Lao-Lu was leaning against the front of the lectern, pointing at a student who had laughed so hard that a snot bubble had come out of his nose, while he himself was doubling over in laughter.

         “Teacher Lu!” The director’s eyes were so wide they almost reached her temples. “What’s the meaning of this?”

         “Look at him!” Lao-Lu walked to the director’s side as he continued cackling, and pointed. “Snot bubble!”

         The laughter that had gotten a little more under control from the arrival of the director, once again erupted after Lao-Lu’s words.

         “Teacher Lu!” In resignation, the director dragged Lao-Lu outside the classroom. “They’re disturbing the other classes that are studying! How can you act out with them!”

         “Ayyy…” Lao-Lu sucked in a breath and finally got a grip. “Okay okay, we’re just taking a breather, just taking a breather. Studying is so grueling that they’re not even chitchatting anymore, I’m not used to it.”

         “Is there something wrong with you!” The director looked at him and said in a low voice. “Are you done now? The teachers from the other classes are all looking at you!”

         “Alright everyone, let’s wrap it up,” Lao-Lu went back inside and beckoned to them. “I know that everyone’s very tired these days. When the exams are over, Boss Xu and I will take you all out for a feast, you can have whatever you want! For now, let’s get back to work!”

         After the hysterical outburst, the atmosphere in the classroom was suddenly a little different. It was as if they suddenly realized that, in a little over a month, everyone here would have to go their separate ways. It might be the last chance in their high school career to get to laugh wildly like this without any inhibitions.

         This faint sense of sorrow did not seem to lessen throughout the third practice exam, that came just as suddenly as it passed.

         As expected, the third practice exam was made to build up the students’ confidence. Compared to the two before it, the difficulty of the third one was within an acceptable range. After this, at least to the students at Fourth High, the school would not be organizing any more formal tests. The next test they would be taking would be the University Entrance Exams.

         “This part is very auspicious, and very you.” Gu Fei said. “You got 666. This time, contestant Jiang Cheng’s performance was certainly very 6666666!” [3]

         Jiang Cheng smiled at him without a word.

         “Let’s do something to destress tonight,” Gu Fei said. “I’ll take you out for grilled meat. We’ll take a cab there, quickly stuff ourselves, then take a cab back, get off at the main intersection, walk for 20 minutes, then come back and continue studying?”

         “Really?” Jiang Cheng could feel his own eyes twinkle. To be fair, he had not been holding back on eating at all recently; Gu Fei either did the cooking himself or bought all sorts of take-outs. However, to him, grilled meats would forever have the strongest hold on him. “Pork belly, fatty veal, pork belly, fatty veal……”

         “Really.” Gu Fei nodded. “But I’m telling you right now, we have to keep the portions under control. I don’t want you to have too much greasy food and get diarrhea.”

         Jiang Cheng started laughing, “No like, grandma Gu, why are you such a worrywart?”

         “Is it my fault that my grandson’s always stirring up trouble?” Gu Fei said.

         “Get out!” Jiang Cheng flicked Gu Fei’s forehead with his finger.

         He did this very openly, because their desk was piled so high with books that it formed a wall around them. Once they both slumped over their desk and turned their faces toward each other, it was like an isolated world.

          It was probably the only time they got to experience what it was like to have this little world surrounded by books. Jiang Cheng stared at the tip of Gu Fei’s nose, reached out his hand again, and stroked it gently.

[1] In Chinese medicine, and popular knowledge, kidney as an organ is responsible for the reproductive system
[2] 模考 = mokao = practice exam; mo (mock) sounds like 摸 (touch), and “18摸” is a very old, lewd, song about innappropriate touching
[3] 666, repeating infinitely, is internet slang for “smooth”

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5669
  • TL word count: 4213
  • TL time: 4:45:53
  • Edit time: 1:02:14
  • Curse words: 1x fuck

TL’s Notes:

If you haven’t yet, this is a good time to buy the novel on jjwxc; 撒野 is the title to search for if you’re using the app, and here is a step-by-step tutorial from Cuchallain to guide you through it! If you run into any problems, feel free to dm me on twitter @amidstwoods :3

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