The two of them were suddenly face to face.


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

          His old school also had a forum, but it was comparatively empty. It was a key high school after all, one where the teachers were a mine detector away from scanning every single student who came through the gates. Cell phones were at constant risk of being confiscated, so nobody really bothered with these things. At most there were small scale gossips in WeChat groups. 

          Jiang Cheng had never experienced this spectacle of wide open discussion on the school forum. 

          That ‘fujoshi’ thread was posted on the day of their match. It hadn’t even been a day since then, but the view count and number of replies were already impressive. 

          Jiang Cheng hesitated for a long while, but did not end up opening the thread. 

          It was common for girls to jump on the hype with these things, but he wouldn’t have paid it any mind if it was Wang Jiuri [1] they shipped him with. But seeing himself and Gu Fei put together like that made him uncomfortable. 

          At last he opened the ‘Da-Fei my idol’ thread. 

          There were lots of photos of Gu Fei taken from different angles during the game. The girl must’ve circled the court countless times to get these pictures. There was even a shot from below of Gu Fei jumping up to the basket, god only knew how she managed to do that. 

          The first few replies were all photos, along with the OP’s out of control screaming along with lines of exclamation marks. After that were replies with more of the same screaming.

          It was only until he got to the 30th comment that there was finally a voice of dissent.

          > hardly a big deal, there’s lots like this out there

          This reply inspired a flood of comments that lasted eight whole pages, all of it hurling abuse at the commenter. 

          Jiang Cheng checked out the screen name and couldn’t help but blurt out, “What the… fuck?”

          freestyle_handsome.

          “You must really be bored.” Jiang Cheng glanced at Gu Fei.

          “Who would go on this thing unless they’re bored.” Gu Fei took the phone back, and chuckled when he read it. “See, overachievers like you can’t even be bothered to look at these.”

          “I… go online too,” Jiang Cheng said. “It’s just the forum at my old school was like a ghost town, nobody uses it.”

          “What’s your screen name?” Gu Fei tilted his head.

          Jiang Cheng had a moment of hesitation, “Some Cheng.”

          “Huh?” Gu Fei didn’t understand.

          “Main account is ‘some_cheng’, side account is ‘soandso_cheng’.” Jiang Cheng said.

          “What the hell kinda name is that, and you dare to laugh at me?” Gu Fei said. “I had to add an alias for your WeChat handle since it was in English. Why don’t you consolidate your styles and just make them all ‘jiangxx’.”

          “I’m just too lazy to think of a name.” Jiang Cheng said. “What’s your alias for me?”

          “Cheng-ge…” Gu Fei gave him a look.

          “I think Good Little Bunny is the one that needs an alias.” Jiang Cheng grinned.

          They were quiet again after that. Jiang Cheng took out his own phone and continued to blab with Pan Zhi. He considered taking another look in the Fourth High forum again, but Gu Fei was still beside him, so he dropped the idea from his mind.

          Pan Zhi was rather envious of the bustling Fourth High forum, and expressed an interest in joining in order to chat up girls. Jiang Cheng laughed for a few minutes then checked the time and saw that it was almost midnight, so he got ready to sleep.

          He looked towards Gu Fei and found that he was already asleep, lying with his face to the wall and half of his head submerged under the cover.

          Jiang Cheng looked to the head of the bed and saw there was a light switch. He turned the lights off and the room plunged into darkness. A few seconds later he was able to see the faint light spilling in through the curtains again.

          He laid down on the pillow and rolled onto his right side. Jiang Cheng was used to sleeping on his right side, but as soon as he turned he saw Gu Fei lying with his back to him. 

          So he flipped over again to face the left side and closed his eyes.

          He suddenly remembered a survey he had once read about the sleeping positions of couples. There were side by side, face to face, and the most popular one was where both lay facing the same side, it was called ‘spooning’… 

          Fuck. He just figured out what that meant.

          Gu Fei was a quiet sleeper. His breaths were even and had a hypnotic effect. Jiang Cheng followed along with his breathing and before long also drifted to sleep.

          Though whether it was due to the unfamiliar bed or because there was someone sleeping beside him, he couldn’t get into a deep slumber. He had never before shared a bed with another person. 

          He was having dazed dreams while knowing he was dreaming the whole time, and could still feel Gu Fei shifting beside him.

          What’s more, the dreams were not a continuous sequence, the scenes kept changing.

          At last, he dreamed that he and Gu Fei were standing naked in the middle of a basketball court, being surrounded and photographed by a bunch of people with paper bags over their heads. There were sounds of insults and jeers.

          This is a dream.

          And rather absurd too. He wondered why he would dream of this kind of thing.

          This isn’t real. He reminded himself.

          But this dream wasn’t like ones he had before that could be sped up, rewound, or skipped at will. It pushed forward slowly frame by frame.

          His perspective changed often from his own point of view facing the jeering onlookers, to the perspective of an outsider rotating like a camera that rapidly orbited the two people standing on the court.

          He turned to look at Gu Fei with a mixture of horror and panic.

          Gu Fei was saying something to him without any expression, but he couldn’t hear a single word.

Do you see me sing out?

Listen, to the wiped out panic.

          Gu Fei heard the sound of the door. He opened his eyes and realized it was almost light out, soft warm light filtered in through the curtains. Gu Miao padded in on her bare feet, eyes directed straight forward. She sat down on the recliner, adjusted the cushions, and lay down.

          He sighed and sat up quietly.

          Gu Miao used to share this bedroom with him. Gu Fei made her sleep on her own since she started elementary, but Gu Miao still came back here every time she sleepwalked. She even remembered Gu Fei’s words: “big brother is a boy, you can’t just sleep on the same bed as a boy now”, and would always head straight to the couch to sleep.

          Gu Fei looked at Jiang Cheng’s face. Jiang Cheng seemed to be sleeping soundly, but his breathing was a little uneven, probably dreaming. 

          He put one hand on the bed to support himself and had a leg bent at Jiang Cheng’s side, then reached his other leg across Jiang Cheng’s body to the other side. This guy took up quite a bit of space when sleeping. To avoid stepping on him, Gu Fei almost pulled a hamstring with this single step.

          Next he straightened his torso and got ready to push the rest of himself across.

          But when he was in the middle of passing over Jiang Cheng, Jiang Cheng suddenly frowned and rolled over. The two of them were suddenly face to face.

          Gu Fei felt Jiang Cheng wasn’t in a very deep sleep, judging by his furrowed brows and uneven breathing… so he hastily propped himself up more wanting to get across quickly.

          Just as he was about to push off with the leg that was on the inner side in order to jump straight off the bed, Jiang Cheng opened his eyes. 

          Gu Fei wanted to speak, but at the same time was afraid of waking up Gu Miao, who just laid down. Who knew if her sleepwalking state had ended or not. So all he could do was stare at Jiang Cheng in silence, waiting for him to fully regain consciousness.

          Jiang Cheng’s freshly opened eyes grew from slits to big European style eyes. He stared at Gu Fei for many seconds then said in a hoarse voice that was equal parts confused, shocked, and horrified, “What, the FUCk…”

          It wasn’t a quiet sound. Gu Fei started, then quickly covered Jiang Cheng’s mouth with one hand.

          Jiang Cheng’s glaring eyes opened even wider, then immediately started to struggle as if he had just been stabbed, flailing his arms and knees all over the place. Gu Fei didn’t dare move the hand covering his mouth, but his position at the moment left him wide open for attack, he was also afraid Jiang Cheng would suddenly knee him in the crotch… 

          He managed to grab one of Jiang Cheng’s hands after a lot of effort, then sat directly on Jiang Cheng’s belly and said in a hushed voice, “Gu Miao!”

          Jiang Cheng paused, stared at him for a long time, then suddenly shifted his gaze toward the couch.

          Gu Fei let go of his mouth. “She just came in, not sure if she’s back asleep or not. I was going to check on her.”

          “…Mm.” Jiang Cheng responded, lying still.

          Gu Fei got off the bed and walked over to crouch in front of the recliner, watched for a moment, then got a blanket from the closet and covered Gu Miao with it. 

          Jiang Cheng sat up as well and stared at Gu Fei. All notions of sleep had dissipated, he was as alert as if he chugged two bottles of mint oil.

          Just now he opened his eyes to Gu Fei hovering above his body. For somebody who always slept alone, that was a little too energizing. 

          In that moment he had trouble distinguishing between dream and reality, the horrifying scene in his dream overlapped with Gu Fei’s position. It wasn’t until he saw Gu Miao lying on the couch, did he come back to his senses.

          And realized that at some point he became drenched in sweat.

          Cold sweat.

          The scene in the dream was unbearable enough, but he suddenly wondered if Gu Miao had woken up and saw that easily misconstrued position… 

          Jiang Cheng blinked hard.

          He suddenly realized why he didn’t open that thread.

          He was scared.

          It was the first time he had a profound understanding of his own fear.

          Even just a sleepwalking little girl on the couch was able to so merge with his dreamland so authentically.

          “This is why I wanted you to sleep on the inside.” Gu Fei said in a quiet voice after he tucked Gu Miao in. “If you’re on the outside, I have to climb over you to get off the bed at night.”

          “What time is it?” Jiang Cheng asked also in a quiet voice.

          “Just past 6 o’clock.” Gu Fei checked the little alarm clock on the bedside table.

          “Oh.” Jiang Cheng sat unmoved with the comforter clutched in his arms.

          “What’s wrong?” Gu Fei climbed onto the bed from behind him, got under the covers, then sat back up again. He reached out his hand and felt Jiang Cheng’s pyjamas. “Do you…”

          Jiang Cheng landed a backhanded slap on his arm.

          “…Have a fever?” Gu Fei withdrew his hand and finished the sentence.

          “No.” Jiang Cheng tugged at his shirt, a little embarrassed. “I’m just…”

          “Did I scare you just now?” Gu Fei laid down and let out a soft sigh. “In all my years, you are the most easily startled overachiever, I’ve ever seen.”

          “The fuck?” Jiang Cheng turned to look at him and gestured with his hands. “The way you were just now, I must be an overachiever with an extremely composed psyche that you didn’t scare me to death.”

          “Sorry about that.” Gu Fei smiled. 

          Jiang Cheng didn’t say anything but continued to sit. A few minutes later he sneezed, then grudgingly lay down and covered himself with the comforter.

          This time he really couldn’t fall asleep. Jiang Cheng’s eyes were open but didn’t know where to look.

          He figured his mental endurance capacity must really be not that great. He couldn’t help brooding over any arbitrary matter for a long time and having it affect his whole mood, often putting immense pressure upon himself.

          He understood it, but it was still out of his control.

          At times he would be very envious of Pan Zhi. His heart was large enough to contain three and half universes. Whether it was the consequence of a failed test or getting pre-broken up with, a good night’s sleep, some words of complaint and roars of “motherfucker” later, nothing is insurmountable to him.

          As for himself… Perhaps it was the influence from the atmosphere at his old home, it was impossible for him to let things go.

          It didn’t take very long between 6 AM and the wakeup time. Jiang Cheng couldn’t get back to sleep, so he just closed his eyes and rested. And in the meantime grappled with whether to give in to the mess of obsessive thoughts or not.

          Gu Fei was fast asleep next to him. Probably sleeping very well despite the fact that he had been woken up. 

          Wide awake, he listened to Gu Fei’s breathing, how it gradually slowed down, then after some time gradually regaining momentum, followed by a shift in his position, which probably meant that he had woken up. Jiang Cheng felt Gu Fei reach for his phone to look at the time.

          He couldn’t sleep when he was supposed to, but now that he knew he had to get up, Jiang Cheng suddenly was so sleepy he didn’t want to open his eyes.

          Gu Fei shifted. Just as he was hesitating between opening his eyes now or waiting until Gu Fei climbed over him to get up, he felt Gu Fei’s finger gently touch his head.

          Jiang Cheng suppressed the urge to jump straight up and land a square kick on him, clenched his teeth and didn’t move.

          “It doesn’t feel feverish?” Gu Fei mumbled and sat up.

          Fever?

          Jiang Cheng was puzzled, then remembered that Gu Fei asked him earlier if he had a fever.

          He was persistent in keeping his eyes closed, but all of a sudden felt a burning twinge in his nose.

          It might be a good idea to cut this nose off entirely, burning and twitching like a girl’s whenever it pleased. 

          Jiang Cheng seldom received such attention and care, even in his old home, back when he was their “real son”, if he felt at all unwell, he had to speak up about it. 

          Speaking up would get him very good care. But if not, as long as he didn’t faint on the spot, nobody in the family would even notice that he was sick. 

          It was even more laughable since coming here. If he really came down with a fever right about now, he wasn’t even sure who he could tell, Li Baoguo?

          Even if he did, what then?

          After mulling over it all he would do was give Lao-Xu a call to excuse his absence then sleep for a day or so in that little room that had no sense of belonging… 

          “Cheng-ge,” Gu Fei had stood up at some point, and gave his leg a gentle kick. “It’s time to get up.”

          “Mm.” Jiang Cheng answered and opened his eyes.

          Gu Fei had on a jacket outside his pyjamas and was about to climb down from the foot of the bed.

          Jiang Cheng felt he really wasn’t doing it on purpose, but couldn’t help but notice at a glance that a certain part of Gu Fei’s loose pants had been propped up.

          He honestly didn’t know how to react anymore, so he sighed and said in passing, “You never wait for your little dude to calm down first before getting up?”

          “…I have to pee.” Gu Fei said.

          “Not even concerned about spraying all over the place.” Jiang Cheng didn’t understand why he continued down this topic as if he wasn’t fully awake when he didn’t fall asleep in the first place. 

          “Would you spray everywhere? Let me teach you then…” Gu Fei dragged his slippers and said as he headed out. “Stand further away, then keep walking forward as you pee.”

          “Fuck you!” Jiang Cheng shut his mouth.

          Lunatic.

          He got up after Gu Fei left. Gu Miao was still sleeping on the recliner with her face against the back cushions, probably almost awake as well. He got off the bed, picked up yesterday’s pants and looked over them. He wanted to change before Gu Miao woke up.

          He only realized after he picked them up that because he was in such a hurry yesterday, he forgot to shake out his clothes. The wet clothes were bundled together, all of his clothes were still wet.

          Even though it was still technically wearable, and would probably dry on his body in about half an hour… but it was a little gross. 

          He was still stressing about it when Gu Fei entered the room while brushing his teeth, and handed over a brand new toothbrush. Jiang Cheng accepted the toothbrush, “Thanks.”

          Gu Fei opened the closet door while still brushing, and pointed.

          “No,” Jiang Cheng took one look at Gu Fei’s row of clothes and shook his head right away. “No, I’m not wearing yours.”

          “Hmm?” Gu Fei looked at him in confusion.

          “You’re freestyle handsome, the whole school has their eyes on you. I suspect they even know what your underwear look like.” Jiang Cheng said. “Last time i wore your clothes, even Lao-Xu recognized it. I am super impressed.”

          Gu Fei started to laugh, and kept laughing as he walked out toothbrush in mouth.

          Jiang Cheng decided to wear his own clothes regardless of the grossness.

          Gu Fei still had the bathroom, so he could only change in the bedroom. He turned to look at Gu Miao, who didn’t stir at all. He swiftly took his pyjama bottoms off and yanked his jeans over his legs. 

          He was rather vain, and liked to buy form-fitting jeans, though in this case the pant leg became difficult to pull up while wet. When he was halfway done, Gu Miao turned over, then before he had a chance to react, she suddenly sat up. 

          FUCK ME

          Gu Miao’s very clean and efficient wake-up routine had him so shook that he almost tripped. He held onto his pants and shot out of the room before Gu Miao could turn her head.

          …And finished zipping up as he ran into the bathroom.

          Gu Fei was washing his face. He turned and peered at him, “In a rush?”

          “Rush your ass,” Jiang Cheng fastened his belt. “I was in the middle of changing when Gu Miao suddenly got up… How does she not have a buffer period when she wakes up!”

          “It’s always been this way.” Gu Fei grinned. “She sits up first, spaces out for five minutes, then wakes up.”

          “Oh.” Jiang Cheng let out a breath of relief.

          After washing up Gu Fei carried Gu Miao back to her own room, put a set of clothes on her bed, then came back out and closed the door. 

          He normally didn’t get up this early. Usually Gu Miao got up by herself and went out for breakfast, and only then would he get up. Gu Miao didn’t have school to go to now, but still abided strictly by the schedule. That couldn’t change. 

          However, today he had over an overachiever who was rarely late, so he couldn’t very well sleep until class had already started. 

          When Jiang Cheng came out after washing up, he asked, “What do you want for breakfast? I’ll have Gu Miao buy some in a bit.”

          “There’s no need.” Jiang Cheng said. “I… don’t feel like eating, I’ll head off to school first.”

          “Hm?” Gu Fei paused, then nodded. “Oh, alright.”

          Jiang Cheng quickly gathered his stuff, then after a brief chat with a freshly woken up Gu Miao, walked out of Gu Fei’s home. 

          After running down seven flights of stairs and having the wind completely pierce through his not yet fully dried clothes, only then did he come back to his senses. He felt maybe it wasn’t… very nice to leave in such a rush after having such an emotional rollercoaster of a morning. 

          When Gu Fei heard that he wasn’t going to have breakfast and wanted to leave first, the expression on his face was clearly a little surprised.

          Disregarding the fact that Gu Fei took him in the night before and gave him a very good meal, and the fact that Gu Fei cared whether he had a fever, and not to mention Gu Miao’s face full of anticipation. Just the fact alone that he ran out like this, it was lacking the most basic courtesy.

          Leaning against a wall on the road that shielded him from the wind, he took out his phone and dialed Gu Fei’s number.

          “Forgot something?” Gu Fei answered the phone.

          “Why don’t you bring Gu Miao down, there’s still time.” Jiang Cheng checked the time on his phone. “Let’s go have some meat pie at Jiuri’s place?”

          “Sure.” Gu Fei agreed right away and didn’t ask why he suddenly changed his mind.

          When he saw Gu Fei come out of the corridor with Gu Miao, Jiang Cheng suddenly felt a hint of regret. He shouldn’t have told Gu Fei about himself.

          He didn’t know when he could become as calm as Gu Fei. Without intentional cozying up or keeping his distance, no thorns that were ready to come out at a second’s notice. 

          “We’re heading over now, should be there soon.” Gu Fei was calling Wang Xu. “No need to prepare anything special, we’re just having a simple breakfast.”

          “Are there buses going that way?” Jiang Cheng asked.

          Walking to school from where they were was one thing, but if they were going to Wang Xu’s place, it was a bit too far of a walk. 

          “We’ll take the car.” Gu Fei said.

          “What car?” Jiang Cheng was astonished. “The little cornbread roll?”

          “Mm.” Gu Fei nodded. “What, you look down on the little steamed roll?”

          “I’m not,” Jiang Cheng sighed. “Fine, the little roll it is.”

          Gu Miao must really like the little roll. As soon as Gu Fei brought the car around, she ran over, skateboard in hand, and deftly climbed into the backseat.

          “You two will have to squish.” Gu Fei said. “Er Miao, set your skateboard to the side.”

          Jiang Cheng remembered this time to put down the driver’s seat first, then got in and squished beside Gu Miao in the backseat.

          Gu Miao smiled at him and seemed very happy.

          After the doors closed on the little roll, Jiang Cheng felt much warmer. He tugged on his clothes and covered it carefully, hoping they’ll be dry by the time they get there.

          “The set of clothes I gave you to wear last time,” Gu Fei said as he drove. “I thought about it, it’s probably because I wore them when I read my self-admonition letter during a Monday morning assembly last semester.”

          “That’s definitely not the reason.” Jiang Cheng said. “If it was Zhou Jing up there, not to mention reading an admonition letter, even if he read an entire pornographic novel out loud, still nobody would remember what he wore.”

          Gu Fei laughed out loud, “Thanks for the compliment.”

          “How did I compliment you?” Jiang Cheng looked at the back of his head. “I think maybe you should change your name from freestyle handsome, freestyle shameless is more like it.”

          “Sure, I’ll make a side account.” Gu Fei nodded.

          “What were you admonishing yourself about?” Jiang Cheng asked after some thought.

          “I’m always climbing the perimeter fence to get into the school when I’m late. I broke a branch on that tree by the fence when I stepped on it.” Gu Fei said. “Just for that.”

          “Fuck,” Jiang Cheng couldn’t help but laugh. “Can’t you change trees once in a while?”

          “That one’s the closest.” Gu Fei said. “Since I broke the branch, there’s a lot less people coming over the fence now. The fence around our school is too high, you can’t get in without climbing a tree.”

          Jiang Cheng didn’t say anything, only leaned against the car window in a fit of giggles, without even knowing what he was laughing about.

          Actually, this was kinda nice.

          When Jiang Cheng wasn’t overthinking, Gu Fei was the only person who could let him completely relax.


Footnote:

[1] Jiuri = 九日, which is the left and right components of the character 旭(Xu) of Wang Xu. ‘Jiu’ means nine, and ‘ri’ can mean day or fuck (verb). Jiuri is either nine days or nine fucks, depending on the… context (/ω\). Therefore Jiuri is a friendly/teasing way of referring to Wang Xu.

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5981
  • TL word count: 4173
  • TL time: 9:01:40
  • Edit: 1:51:46
  • Curse words: 8x fucks, 1x ass

I’m still new to translating, and it’s a learning process every time. This one took me an especially long time to do for some reason _(:3」∠)_