This guy’s dead meat.


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

          Wang Xu’s family meat pie restaurant always had lots of customers from the very start of the day. To get a couple of their meat pies for breakfast first thing in the morning was an enjoyment in and of itself. So when there weren’t any seats left by the time they got there, they went to sit in the room where Wang Xu’s family ate their meals. 

          “We haven’t any donkey meat fillings, gotta wait till noon for that to be done.” Wang Xu brought out two baskets filled with meat pies and placed it on the table, then went back and got another giant bowl of lamb soup. “Did you two leave together this morning?”

          Jiang Cheng got a little flustered at Wang Xu’s words, so he took a big bite out of the pie and said nothing.

          “Yeah.” Gu Fei answered.

          “How come you got up so early today?” Wang Xu pushed a small basket in front of Gu Miao. “I thought you make a habit of being late… Miao-miao, there’s no donkey filling today, let’s try a different flavour.”

          “What meow meow?” Gu Fei said. “Don’t be gross.”

          “Is it gross?” Wang Xu sat down, and said as he ate. “She’s just a baby girl who was supposed to be cute and pretty. But all because of you she’s brought up like a wild little boy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her wear a dress.”

          “She has to skateboard.” Gu Fei said. “How would a dress work with that? She wouldn’t wear it even if I told her to.”

          “Ai……” Wang Xu sighed. After a couple more bites he took out his phone and swiped a few times, the phone made a clicking sound.

          Jiang Cheng looked up and found that the guy was pointing the camera at him. “What are you up to?”

          “Just taking a photo. If our restaurant does a revamp in the future, we can post it as an ad.” Wang Xu laughed and said, putting the phone back in his pocket.

          “Fuck off.” Jiang Cheng looked at him. “Delete it.”

          “I’ve taken photos of a bunch of people, nobody’s asked me to delete them.” Wang Xu said, unwavering. “I’m not deleting it. At most I just won’t post it.”

          Jiang Cheng put his head down and focused on the pie, not wanting to further indulge him.

           

          Leaving the restaurant after breakfast, Gu Miao stood on her skateboard and stared at Gu Fei. Gu Fei bent down to look her in the eyes, “Remember when I said you can only skate in specific locations?”

          Gu Miao nodded.

          “Go ahead then. Big bro is busy today, so won’t be home for dinner.” Gu Fei said. “I’ll probably get home around the same time as yesterday.”

          Gu Miao nodded again, then turned to face Jiang Cheng.

          “Cheng-ge won’t be coming over today, yesterday was a special circumstance.” Gu Fei said.

          Gu Miao continued to look at Jiang Cheng.

          So Jiang Cheng could only bend down and look at her as well, “I’ll come seek you out to play next time?” 

          There was no reaction from Gu Miao.

          “You have to tell her the exact time.” Gu Fei said beside him. “If you just say next time, she won’t get it.”

          “Then…” Jiang Cheng hesitated and considered for a while. “Then tomorrow? Tomorrow after the match, have your brother bring you out to eat with our team, how’s that? We can sit next to each other.”

          Gu Miao finally nodded, stepped onto her skateboard, and kicked off in the general direction of home.

 

          “Can we squeeze?” Wang Xu walked out carrying his backpack, but immediately became excited at the sight of Gu Fei’s little bun of a car. “Jiang Cheng, you and I squeeze in the back yeah?”

          “…Is there even space for you to squeeze?” Jiang Cheng was reluctant. The ‘car’ had very limited space, it was a tight squeeze even with Gu Miao.

          “For sure!” Wang Xu said.

          Jiang Cheng saw on his face the unwavering insistence on experiencing a ride in that car, and had to give in. He tried his best to cram himself to one side. When Wang Xu stuffed himself in, he felt the vehicle sink a little.

          With the addition of Gu Fei, he feared the bottom of the car would scrape the ground as it moved.

          “Would it just come apart halfway there?” Jiang Cheng said.

          “Nah.” Gu Fei turned the car around and drove them toward the school. “I use it to haul heavy inventory for the store sometimes, the two of you combined doesn’t even compare.”

          “Did you add your own weight to that as well?” Jiang Cheng said. With three grown-ass boys crammed into one little bun of a car, even pedestrians were trying to peer inside. 

          “It’s warmer this way.” Wang Xu said.

          “Bullshit. It’s not even that cold anymore, it’s called the Spring Basketball Tournament.” Jiang Cheng said.

          “Oh yeah, practice this afternoon?” Wang Xu asked.

          “Jiang Cheng and I are busy today.” Gu Fei said. “I asked Li Yan and the guys to come help you practice.”

          “Where are you guys going?” Wang Xu immediately followed up.

          Gu Fei didn’t bother answering him, so Wang Xu turned to look at Jiang Cheng. Jiang Cheng stared out the window and pretended not to notice.

          “Fuck.” Wang Xu fixed his clothes unhappily. “Keeping secrets now. Children.”

           

          Jiang Cheng realized that Gu Fei really had no regard for other people’s looks. Setting aside the fact that they were riding in a little bun designed for elderly grocery runs, forget that they had three grown bodies crammed into it, but he actually drove the car all the way into the parking shed by the main gates of the school, as if no one else existed to him.

          And then got out of the car while surrounded by a crowd of Fourth High students.

          “All eyes on you.” Wang Xu said as he climbed out, equally unconcerned judging by his tone.

          Or, perhaps not unconcerned, but happy. His goal was to be the big boss after all, being the center of attention was a necessary part of it.

          But for people like Jiang Cheng who didn’t like to be surrounded by onlookers, whose temper rises just from being watched with all these eyes, it was only after he got out that he regretted not having his mask on.

          Immediately, he heard a girl say quietly from a few meters away, “Is that Jiang Cheng?”

          “Yeahhhh!” Another girl answered.

          He didn’t stick around to hear what else came after that. The inquisitive tone with just a hint of excitement attached made him uneasy. He couldn’t help but recall that “fujoshi” post on the school forum, it made him uncomfortable all over.

 

          “Though I do think, you two are right to skip practice.” Wang Xu was saying as he walked towards the front gate. “These last couple of days Class-2 has been studying video recordings of our games, even asking people about Jiang Cheng’s ability. We really should try to keep on the down low. If we win tomorrow, we’ll be facing Class-8 after the exams.”

          “Mm.” Jiang Cheng answered.

          Wang Xu continued with enthusiasm, “I think our strategy…”

          “Cheng-cheng? Cheng-cheng??” A woman’s voice came from behind them. “Jiang Cheng?”

          Jiang Cheng paused, then turned around.

          “You must be Jiang Cheng,” There was a woman standing there, looking at him with an intense expression. “Right? I picked you out right away, you look just like…”

          Immediately, Jiang Cheng recognized her. This woman who looked a little dirty and dressed like a country bumpkin was the same one who fought with Li Baoguo in front of their building yesterday. 

          His birth mom. 

          “You…” Completely caught off guard in this moment, Jiang Cheng couldn’t think of anything to say. He could only stare at her, frozen in place.

          “Who is that?” Wang Xu asked beside him.

          “Class hasn’t started yet right?” The woman limped over and grabbed his hand roughly. “I’m⸺”

          She had a very strong grip. Out of sheer surprise and reflex, Jiang Cheng yanked his hand away and shook her off, “Don’t…”

          Don’t touch me.

          Jiang Cheng had to clench his teeth hard to keep himself from saying the last two words out loud.

 

          “The bell didn’t ring,” The woman suddenly teared up. “Class hasn’t start yet right?”

          There were lots of passersby looking over at this point. Jiang Cheng’s brain was a tangled mess, he had no idea how to face this woman. He froze for a few seconds then handed his backpack to Gu Fei, “Take this in… for me.”

          “Ok.” Gu Fei took his backpack.

          “Let’s go talk over there.” Jiang Cheng pointed with his chin to the opposite side of the street.

          “Oh sure, sure thing.” The woman nodded eagerly, eyes still glued to his face.

          “Hey what’s going on? Should we…” Likely just as befuddled by the scene unfolding in front of him, Wang Xu immediately wanted to come with.

          Gu Fei reached out a hand and pulled him away, “What’s it gotta do with you, let’s go.”

           

          Jiang Cheng crossed the street, his mind totally blank. He stopped and turned around once he got to a corner with less people about.

          “It’s mom,” The woman pointed at herself, a finger jabbing repeatedly at her own chest. “I’m your mom… Li Baoguo never mentioned me right? I’m sure he didn’t, I’m sure of it. That fucktard with shits for brains would never tell you…”

          Jiang Cheng only stared, speechless. This somewhat pitiful looking woman and the vulgar words coming out of her mouth made him momentarily unsure of how to react.

          “It wasn’t my idea to send you away all those years ago, he never discussed it with me…” The woman didn’t give him a chance to speak anyway, just kept on talking. She started crying halfway through, and used her sleeve to wipe away the tears. “I even thought of a name for you, your brother is called Li Hui, you can be Li Ming or Li Guang [1]… but he sent you away just like that. I fought with him, and he beat me… that fucking prick…”

          “I…” Jiang Cheng couldn’t say what exactly he was feeling, but knew he just wanted to block her voice out.

          He was using his superpower to its fullest extent here. In the past he would let his mind wander whenever he didn’t want to listen to Shen Yiqing’s lectures, that way whether or not he heard the words at the time, he would forget it later.

          But compared to this “birth mom” in front of him…

           

          “Come home with me!” The woman suddenly grabbed his arm and shook it roughly, bringing him back to reality. “Come live with mom!”

          “Don’t,” Jiang Cheng jerked his arm away and took two steps back, but wasn’t able to hold back the two words that followed. “Touch me!”

          “…Are you repulsed by me?” The woman leveled her eyes at him. “Is it because I don’t have money? Do I embarrass you? Do you think your father has money?! He’s just waiting to spend yours!”

          “I’m not,” Jiang Cheng said with some effort. “I have to go to class now, I…”

          “The family that adopted you was pretty well-off huh?” The woman wasn’t crying anymore, her eyes scanned him up and down, it wasn’t clear if the look on her face was scorn or sorrow. “Look at you, all dressed up like a rich young master.”

          “I have to get to class now.” Jiang Cheng drew a sharp breath and turned toward the school gates.

          “HEARTLESS!” The woman suddenly leapt at him and pounded him hard on the back twice, screaming, “You have no heart! The home is not like a home! My own son doesn’t even recognize me! I have such a hard life⸺”

          “Are you out of your mind?!” Jiang Cheng finally couldn’t take it anymore and bellowed. He raised a hand up to block hers. “If you have beef with Li Baoguo go have it out with him! I’m not fucking recognizing either of you!” 

          After the outburst he immediately turned and started walking away, then after a couple steps turned it into a full on run as if someone was chasing after him with a knife. 

          The gate was already closed but he didn’t stop. He sprinted forward along the perimeter fence, and at last stopped and leaned against a tree on the side of the road.

          He didn’t know whether the woman still followed, there was no way she could keep up anyway. But he didn’t have the courage to look back.

          He spaced out for a while, then took out his phone and sent a message to Gu Fei:

          – Which part of the fence did you climb over?

          The perimeter fence around Fourth High really was high. There were quite a few shops built against the fence as well, making it impossible to get over. But at this moment he desperately needed to get into the school. Desperately.

          Gu Fei’s answer came very quickly:

          – Can’t climb over the old way anymore. North of the back gates by the concession stand, there’s a pile of bricks along the inside of the fence, come over that way.

 

          Jiang Cheng found the concession stand. It had a dumpster that was right by the perimeter, which offered him footholds for climbing. Once on top of the wall he was able to see the pile of bricks that littered the ground on the other side.

          If he didn’t calculate his jump down properly he might just be able to break his ankle along the way.

          “Go ahead and jump.” The owner of the concession stand was watching him on the ground with his arms crossed. He called out in a loud voice. “There’s no teachers around right now, give it another few minutes and they’ll be coming by.”

          “Shit!” Jiang Cheng was so startled by his voice that he almost fell down the fence. 

          He scanned his surroundings and made sure there weren’t anyone around, then jumped down.

          Not too bad. He stumbled a little on some of the bricks, but didn’t step directly into one of the brick holes.

          When he entered the classroom Lao-Xu was standing at the podium [2], before him the students sat at their desks and munched on breakfast. He looked like an official overseeing the status of welfare meals.

          “You’re late?” Lao-Xu was very surprised to see him.

          “Had to pee.” Jiang Cheng said.

 

          When he got to his seat, Gu Fei gave him a look but didn’t say anything.

          “Fuck.” Jiang Cheng said quietly.

          He wanted very much to say something, to curse, to bitch, to find somewhere and just let out some screams. Wanted very much to curl up in a ball and have a good cry.

          But he could only sit there and stare, and do nothing.

          Just holding it in.

          The suppressed rage boiled in his body, until he could almost smell the burning. This fury that didn’t have an outlet but that also couldn’t be held down was giving him burning pains all over.

          He wanted to tell Gu Fei, but was also aware that anything Gu Fei said at this point would cause him to suddenly come apart.

          Good thing Gu Fei was an emotionally intelligent slacker. He kept his head down and played that idiotic stupid dumb Ai Xiao Chu [3] without a word, without a single glance at him.

           

          But life was ruthless at times. There was always someone doing the most inappropriate thing at the most inappropriate time. These people were simply poor unfortunate souls.

          “CHENG-CHENG!” A sharp contorted voice came from outside the classroom door, “Cheng-cheng⸺”

          Jiang Cheng jerked his head around, and saw a guy from the Class-5 basketball team laughing while passing with a mocking expression. 

 

          This guy’s dead meat.

          That was Gu Fei’s first thought upon hearing this dumbass’s voice. 

          Jiang Cheng shot straight up out of his seat, his knee knocking into Gu Fei’s back as he jumped over from behind his chair, leaving Gu Fei coughing while turning to look outside. 

          Jiang Cheng was very fast. By the time everyone else in class got up to look, he had already rushed outside, grabbed the dumbass’s collar and landed a fist on his nose. 

          It was a rather heavy punch. Gu Fei recalled that when they last fought, Jiang Cheng was very aware of his own strength, but with this punch he almost didn’t hold back at all.

          “Fuck!” Wang Xu was the first to jump up, he braced his hands on the desk and leapt over it in one smooth motion, then did the same with the next desk. 

          It was rather miraculous how this guy’s athleticism could suddenly shoot up by three whole levels, all for the sake of FOMO.

           

          By the time Jiang Cheng’s second punch met with the dumbass’s face, the whole class had stood up and gathered around the back door, trying to squeeze outside.

          “What’s wrong, what’s wrong?!”  Lao-Xu shouted as he also tried to get out, but was very quickly jostled to the back by the students swarming forward. “What’s going on?? Go stop them! Stop them now! Wang Xu, go stop them!”

          “How the hell do I do that?!” Came Wang Xu’s voice from the corridor.

          Gu Fei got up and dragged a chair to the back of the crowd, then stood on it and looked out.

          The dumbass classmate was already on the ground, Jiang Cheng had one hand on his throat and the other hand was still swinging hard. If the crowd of onlookers weren’t so loud they definitely would’ve heard the sounds of fist connecting with face.

          This dumbass was from Class-5. He wasn’t the big boss of Class-5, but definitely a contender, not unlike Wang Xu. With him getting held down and beaten up this way, it easily drew the attention of other Class-5 students, who quickly made their way over.

          “FUCK!” Somebody cried out and immediately rushed over.

          “Who do you think you’re fucking?!” Wang Xu cried out as well. He pushed up his sleeves and shot forward. “Wanna fuck me? COME ON!”

          And just like that a brawl between two classes erupted suddenly without much preamble. They skipped over the trash talk and warm-up, and went straight into a fully staffed riot.

          The corridor crammed with students, the noise from onlookers and 12th graders cheering them on was thunderous. The few teachers on this floor couldn’t even find their way out of the crowds, much less attempt to keep order.

           

          Gu Fei jumped down from the chair and squeezed his way through the mass of bodies to Jiang Cheng’s side, all the while dodging punches. 

          The guy on the ground now had a bloodied face, though perhaps the beat down was so vicious that it finally sparked his fighting spirit, he actually started to swing back.

          “Jiang Cheng,” Gu Fei called out but Jiang Cheng didn’t seem to hear him. He frowned. “Cheng-ge! That’s enough!”

          He was just about to go and pull Jiang Cheng up, when a fist shot up from the guy on the ground. Its target was Jiang Cheng’s face, but swiped the side of Gu Fei’s face instead.

          Gu Fei grabbed Jiang Cheng’s arms and yanked him backwards, the momentum making Jiang Cheng stumble and fall back on the ground, but he didn’t forget to land another slap on the other guy’s face.

 

          Now that Jiang Cheng was sitting down, he finally regained a sliver of sense out of the jumbled fury from before.

          The guy on the ground gave him a hard stare and looked ready to get up and jump him.

          Gu Fei jabbed a finger at him, the tip of his finger almost meeting with his eyeball, “You move one more inch and I’ll put you in the hospital.”

          His voice was icy cold, the guy immediately froze in place as if somebody suddenly stepped on his brakes. 

          Jiang Cheng had never heard Gu Fei use this tone of voice before, it was enough to chill him back into mental clarity. He slowly got up from the ground.

          The group brawl around them was still going strong, he stood in the middle of the mass of bodies and suddenly felt a little dazed.

           

          “Gu Fei, Gu Fei!” Finally and with a lot of effort, Lao-Xu managed to make himself visible in the midst of the chaos. “Gu Fei! Stop the fight! Stop the fight! Separate them!”

          Gu Fei didn’t answer. He walked over and picked up the back collar of someone from Class-5 and started dragging him backward. The guy turned and swung at him, but he caught the fist and shoved him to the side.

          After that, he grabbed Wang Xu’s collar in the same manner, then dragged him off and pushed him away.

          “I’ll fuck your…” Wang Xu saw that it was Gu Fei and shut his mouth without finishing the sentence.

          “Tell your people to go back to class.” Gu Fei turned to look at him and said in a low voice.

          “Enough!” Wang Xu yelled. “Everybody stop! All of you from Class-8, get back inside!”

          Gu Fei grabbed another Class-5 student and shoved him away.

          Eventually the students on the corridor slowly separated, the tangled physical back-and-forth was replaced by verbal abuse.

          “Get back to class!” Lao-Lu’s voice suddenly sounded out of nowhere. He was teaching the first period that day, so he must’ve been there for a while, though nobody was able to hear his shouts before. “Did you all sleep too well last night?! Feel like acting out huh?! Come on! I’ll satisfy whoever raises his hand, come down to the field and we’ll have a go at it! You!”

          He pointed at the guy with the bloodied face, courtesy of Jiang Cheng, “I’m talking about you, look at your face! You think the blooms look pretty? Is that a morning glory or a sunflower? What are you staring at me for, do you need me to carry you to the bathroom to wash your face?!”

 

          Everyone walked slowly back to the classroom to the sound of Lao-Lu’s voice. With so much excitement this early in the morning, many people didn’t feel properly sated. Chatter and shouts filled the room, those who were unsatisfied were still yelling out insults.

          Jiang Cheng settled into his seat, but still felt a little disoriented.

          Gu Fei sat down beside him and rummaged around in his backpack. He pulled out a few band-aids and threw them on the desk.

          “What?” Jiang Cheng looked at him.

          “Hands.” Gu Fei said.

          Jiang Cheng looked down at his own hands, which had at some point acquired several scrapes. He didn’t even feel it, there was no feeling of pain even now.

          He peeled open the band-aids and stuck them on.

          “Hey Jiang Cheng, Jiang Cheng…” Zhou Jing turned around with excitement on his face.

          Jiang Cheng gave him a stare and he turned back into his seat without even finishing the sentence.

 

          “Jiang Cheng.” Lao-Xu entered the classroom with a frown. “Come out here with me for a second.”

          Jiang Cheng stood up and followed Lao-Xu out of the room.

          “What’s up with you?” Lao-Xu asked as he led him down the stairs. “What was that all about?”

          Jiang Cheng stayed quiet.

          “Is it because of the game?” Lao-Xu turned to look at him and continued. “That doesn’t sound right either. If it’s about the game, it would’ve been Wang Xu leading the charge.”

          Jiang Cheng still didn’t say a thing.

          Lao-Xu led them all the way to the edge of the field before he stopped and sighed, “Jiang Cheng, you’re gonna have to report to the Guidance Office for what happened today. You can at least tell me what it’s about, so I can speak on your behalf to the head of Guidance. This kind of thing gets you demerit points you know!”

          Who cares about demerit points.

          He still carried his past demerit points to this day.

          Demerits weren’t scary, the scary thing was he didn’t how to begin to explain himself.

          I hit him because he was mimicking the way that woman talked.

          I beat him up because he was mimicking her?

          How come?

          Simply because that woman is my biological mother?

          It shouldn’t be that hard to explain with some common sense, but it was very difficult for him.

          Jiang Cheng looked at Lao-Xu and said after a long pause, “Whatever.”


Footnote:

[1] Both are variants on ‘light’, while Hui (辉) means brilliance or glow.

[2] In China the school day starts with a Self-Study class, supervised by the Head Teacher (Lao-Xu) of that class. Sometimes there’s a Self-Study class in the evening as well. The first period comes after the morning Self-Study class.

[3] Ai Xiao Chu = a Chinese variant of Candy Crush

Also, little bun.

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5824
  • TL word count: 4105
  • TL time: 6:14:47
  • Edit: 1:50:00
  • Curse words: 11x fucks, 6x ass

TL Notes:

Oh Cheng-ge, when will you get that temper of yours under control?

17/06/20: I just realized that despite not getting a ‘light’ themed name, Cheng-ge managed to shine brightly all on his own (☆▽☆)y