I want to be here! I want to be there! I want this place! I want that too!


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

          Gu Fei rode on ahead of Jiang Cheng and kept a steady distance. Jiang Cheng sometimes felt that Gu Fei’s high emotional intelligence, demonstrated through his well-honed perception and reluctance to meddle in other people’s business, really irked him.
          He pulled his mask up even further so that the edge of it could conveniently catch his fallen tears.
          The distance from there to Gu Fei’s store was tolerable. On bike it would take them under 20 minutes. That was enough. He followed behind Gu Fei and let his tears flow freely.
          He actually didn’t know why he suddenly started crying.
          He didn’t feel like he had the impulsive need to cry, nor was there any specific trigger for his tears. Never again having a home, or parents; he had been contending with this mindset for more than just a couple of days. From the day they told him he was adopted, he already felt that he would never have a home again.
          After coming here, this feeling only grew clearer as the days went on. So why would he suddenly shed tears immediately after declaring himself to be an orphan?
          I guess people really do get more sensitive when they’re sick.

          His tears had stopped before they arrived; the ones already shed had also been mostly dried by the wind. Only his eyes still felt a bit swollen.
          They parked their bikes outside of Gu Fei’s store. Gu Fei turned back and glanced at him, then said quietly as if startled by what he saw, “Aiyoo…”
          “What.” Jiang Cheng leaned his bike against the wall.
          “I……” Gu Fei hesitated. “Didn’t think you would cry like this.”
         Jiang Cheng suddenly felt like laughing. Even someone like Gu Fei, who was the master of neutralizing awkwardness, could no longer keep up the pretense. He rubbed his eyes, “Is it very red?”
          “It’s pretty red.” Gu Fei said. “Why don’t you wait for me here, and I’ll bring out whatever you need. Li Yan is still in there.”
          “It’s fine,” Jiang Cheng rummaged around in his backpack and pulled out an eyeglass case. He took out a pair of shades and put them on. “I have equipment.”
          “You look……” Gu Fei stared at him.
          “Really handsome, right?” Jiang Cheng checked out his own reflection in the window of the community clinic next door. “Every time I pass by a display window, I would stumble over how good I look.”
          “Yes,” Gu Fei nodded. “You certainly are… very handsome.”

          When the two of them walked into the store, Li Yan was struggling to navigate the aisles on Gu Miao’s skateboard. Gu Miao stood in front of the cash register with her arms folded, looking on with a distant expression.
          When she saw them enter, Gu Miao ran to Jiang Cheng’s side and looked up with vested interest at the sunglasses on his face.
          “So this is how bored you are.” Gu Fei said.
          “Just working out.” Li Yan glanced at Jiang Cheng. “Whoa, I thought it was someone coming to collect protection tolls.” [1]
          “Pay up then.” Jiang Cheng said.
          “It’s all in the drawer.” Li Yan pointed at the cash register.
          “When are you going home?” Gu Fei asked Li Yan.
          “Don’t you worry about me.” Li Yan continued to struggle forward on the skateboard. “I’m having dinner with Liu Fan later, do you two wanna come?”
          “Count me out.” Jiang Cheng said.
          “I’m not going,” Gu Fei yanked Li Yan off the skateboard. “We have midterm exams tomorrow.”
          “What do midterm exams have to do with you?” Li Yan said. “The overachiever has to study, but a king of blank test papers like you…..”
          “I’ve never turned in a blank test.” Gu Fei corrected him.
          “Oh, you always fill in all the blanks.” Li Yan nodded.
          “That’s right.” Gu Fei nodded as well.
          “Fine, if you don’t wanna come then don’t come.” Li Yan grabbed his jacket. “I’ll be going then.”

          Jiang Cheng took a couple of turns around the shelves and got some daily necessities and food. Gu Miao stayed by his side the whole time, staring curiously at his sunglasses.
          Eventually, he had to take the sunglasses off. Though some time had passed so his eyes shouldn’t be so red anymore. He put the shades on Gu Miao’s face.
          Gu Miao gave the glasses a little nudge, expressionless as always.
          “Very cool.” Jiang Cheng gave her a thumbs up. “You’ll definitely be way cooler than your brother when you grow up, and way good looking too.”
          Gu Miao didn’t reply, just turned and ran out holding her skateboard.
          “Hey!” Gu Fei yelled after her. “Take the sunglasses off! You’re gonna drop and break them!”
          Gu Miao didn’t pay him any attention. She rolled out with a flourish, still sporting the shades on her face.
          “It’s OK,” Jiang Cheng said. “If it breaks, it breaks. I’ve had them for a while.”
          “If you’re willing to stoop to 200 yuan for a bike,” Gu Fei leaned against the counter and looked at him. “How will you afford to replace these if they break.”
          “If they break, shouldn’t you pay for it?” Jiang Cheng smiled.
          “Oh, right,” Gu Fei considered it. “Yes.”
          Jiang Cheng placed his items on the counter, “Cash me out.”
          “This……” Gu Fei was a little hesitant.
          “No.” Jiang Cheng said.
          Gu Fei quirked a smile, then walked behind the counter and started to scan the items. He put them all in a bag, “The total comes to 123.20 yuan, I’ll round it down for you to 120.00.”
          “OK.” Jiang Cheng handed him the money.

          Since there was no one left to watch the store, Gu Fei closed down and locked the doors after telling Gu Miao to head home by herself.
          “I’m disrupting the business, aren’t I?” Jiang Cheng felt a little guilty.
          “There’s no customers around dinner time anyway. At most it’s only those who suddenly realized they’re out of salt or oil while making dinner.” Gu Fei got on his bike and set out.
          Jiang Cheng followed behind on his own bike.
          “I’ll bring you the sunglasses tomorrow.” Gu Fei said.
          “No need, Gu Miao seems to like it a lot.” Jiang Cheng said. “She can keep it to play with. Just don’t let her wear it all the time, it’s not good for children’s eyesights if they constantly wear that.”
          Gu Fei only smiled.

          Jiang Cheng wasn’t familiar with this area. After the landlord told him the address the other day, he spent a long time before finding his way to the actual place. And when coming here again today… he stared at the row of similarly broken down buildings, and could not remember where his own rental apartment was.
          “OK so,” He felt more than a little distressed. “I remember you just turn in at a certain intersection, then there’s a few buildings that look about the same……”
          “Which certain intersection?” Gu Fei asked him.
          “I……” Jiang Cheng paused for a long while, then finally pulled out his phone. “Let me ask the landlord again.”
          The landlord on the other end was driven to laughter by his plight, then repeated the address to him again, “Young man, mind that you don’t come home in the middle of the night. I usually turn my phone off at night. If you get lost again, you’ll just have to spend the night outside.”
          Gu Fei knew the area well. He stepped on the pedals and continued forward. “This way.”
          “How come I don’t remember it being that far.” Jiang Cheng was a little disoriented.
          “You can’t even remember people’s names.” Gu Fei said.
          “It’s not that I can’t remember,” Jiang Cheng sighed. “It’s that I can’t be bothered to remember. My brain is not a dumpster, I’ve gotta save it for useful things.”
          “You’re right, remembering directions isn’t very useful.” Gu Fei nodded.
          “You shut your mouth.” Jiang Cheng said.

          When Gu Fei led him to his apartment building, he studied his surroundings very diligently, “Alright, I’ve committed it to my memory.”
          “Let’s go upstairs to put your stuff down, then we’ll head to dinner.” Gu Fei said.
          “OK.” Jiang Cheng led him up the stairs. The landlord owned an apartment on the second floor of this building. It was pretty rundown, but the inside wasn’t too bad. It was almost fully furnished, and though everything was old, it was pretty clean. At the very least it didn’t have the mice and roaches of Li Baoguo’s place.
          “It doesn’t look too bad.” Gu Fei stood in the living room and glanced around.
          “Uh huh,” Jiang Cheng set the things down on the table. “I’ll set up an ethernet cable in a couple days, then everything should be all set…… Oh right, do you know anywhere that sells bed supplies?” [2]
          “Bed supplies?” Gu Fei drew a blank.
          For some reason, when Jiang Cheng spoke the words out loud, his mind inexplicably went in the wrong direction. Judging by Gu Fei’s reaction, he wasn’t too far off either.
          The two of them exchanged a glance, then Gu Fei started laughing first, “Ah, bed supplies… I understand.”
          Jiang Cheng didn’t speak, but suddenly found he couldn’t contain his laughter anymore. He stood by the window and laughed wildly until his jowls hurt.
          “Ah fuck.” Gu Fei rubbed his face.
          “Then let’s go after dinner? I can’t wait for an online order on these.” Jiang Cheng said.
          “Then we should go before dinner.” Gu Fei took out his phone to check the time. “For sheets and such there’s a textile market where they sell ready-made goods. They have comforters and pillows too, but they close around 7 or 8 pm.”
          “Alright.” Jiang Cheng nodded.
          “Then……” Gu Fei pointed at the door. “Let’s go?”
          Jiang Cheng didn’t answer, instead he just stood there for a while longer, then stepped in front of Gu Fei. He lifted his arms to wrap around Gu Fei’s shoulders and pulled him into a tight embrace.

          Gu Fei froze for a moment, then gave his back a couple of gentle pats, “What’s wrong?”
          “Nothing.” Jiang Cheng was still holding on tight. “Do you ever have times when you feel really ungrounded, like you’re not standing on solid ground, and there’s nothing to even hold onto.”
          Gu Fei was quiet for a moment, then answered, “Yes.”
          “I figured you probably have.” Jiang Cheng said. “I take a step into thin air, I’m starting to fly, I look up and see uncertainty, I look down and hear you say this world is empty……” [3]
          When he got to the last line, Jiang Cheng sang it in a very low voice.
          Gu Fei was shocked. Not only because Jiang Cheng was able to remember the melody and lyrics to the song after only hearing it once, but also at his singing voice, which was low and had a husky and sultry quality to it. It sounded really good.
          He could empathize with the emptiness that Jiang Cheng was feeling at the moment. Even though their past experiences were not the same, he could still identify with it, the kind of panic that came from not being able to reach solid ground.
          The two of them stood there quietly for a long time. He could hear Jiang Cheng’s very low, suppressed, and almost imperceptible sobs next to his ear.

          “Cheng-ge,” Gu Fei said softly, and gently patted Jiang Cheng’s lower back. “Frankly, I’m not very good at comforting people either, the only person I’ve ever comforted was Er-Miao….. I just want to say this, if you’re crying, it’ll feel more satisfying if you let it out.”
          There was a moment of silence from Jiang Cheng, then after a couple of coughs he suddenly started crying out loud.
          It was a reluctant sort of weeping, but also tinged with anger, resignation, and frustration.
          Judging by the sound, he was giving it his all; from the beginning with simply vocalizing his tears, and eventually grabbing hold of Gu Fei’s shoulder tightly and roaring as if he was venting his release.
          “Damn your great uncle.” Jiang Cheng said in a stuffy voice.
          “Mmn.” Gu Fei answered, still gently patting him. Then he turned his head and planted a kiss on the very top of Jiang Cheng’s ear.
          It was a gesture that surprised even himself, he couldn’t justify it. But Jiang Cheng didn’t give him any time to ponder, as he turned and kissed Gu Fei directly on his lips.
          The tip of his tongue, with the faintest salty taste from the tears, barged in as if looking for a fight.
          Gu Fei was caught off guard, and got knocked back a step by this somewhat feral stance. Jiang Cheng then took advantage of this momentum and forcefully shoved him back even more.
          Gu Fei bumped into a wall behind him, and Jiang Cheng went in for another kiss.
          This kiss was just as out of control as the one from the other day when Jiang Cheng was drunk, except today he was sober. After all, there was no counterfeit alcohol involved. As a result, everywhere his tongue went felt like a challenge to a duel.
          I want to be here! I want to be there! I want this place! I want that too!
          I drew a circle around this here! Here, here, and there, they’re all mine!
          Gu Fei wasn’t actually planning on doing anything, but after this round of crazed besieging from Jiang Cheng, he was suddenly reminded of captain Wang Jiuri’s self-admonition letter.
          On this warm Spring day where the flowers are blooming, on this glorious day when Spring has returned to the world……
          He grabbed Jiang Cheng’s arm and threw him onto the sofa next to them.
          Jiang Cheng crashed hard into the sofa. Gu Fei bore down on him and lifted up Jiang Cheng’s shirt, then rubbed the side of his body hard.
          Jiang Cheng’s breathing faltered for a moment, then reached down and grabbed Gu Fei over his pants.
          “Fuck.” Gu Fei said in a lowered voice. “Why don’t you really lay into it, just fucking break the thing why don’t you.”
          Jiang Cheng chuckled a little at that, then reached out his hand decisively.

……………
          After everything returned to quiet in the room, Gu Fei could hear the laughter and shouts of the kids outside who had just finished dinner and came running out to play.
          “Guess,” Jiang Cheng lay on the sofa with one foot on the ground. “How much longer will it take before you squish me off the couch?”
          “I’m not completely on the couch myself,” Half of Gu Fei’s body was still pressed on top of Jiang Cheng, while he kept one foot braced against the coffee table. “The way I’m positioned, I’d fall as soon as I lift my leg.”
          Jiang Cheng glanced at his leg and couldn’t stop laughing.
          Gu Fei didn’t laugh along with him. As he pushed himself up with one arm, he reached out and touched the corner of Jiang Cheng’s eyes.
          “I’m fine.” Jiang Cheng flicked his hand.
          “If you want to buy bed… supplies, we’ll have to hurry.” Gu Fei kicked away the crumpled tissues on the floor, and said as he rearranged his pants. “Any later and there’ll only be the few stores that face the street still open, you won’t have any sort of selection to pick from.”
          “Mmn,” Jiang Cheng got up as well and went to wash his face in the bathroom. He was a little worried when he came back out. “You should go and wash your face……”
          “What,” Gu Fei asked as he walked toward the bathroom. “Are you worried your snot rubbed off on my face?”
         “I just don’t want you to ca……” Jiang Cheng had a sudden revelation in the middle of the sentence. “No fucking way!”
          “…… You didn’t.” Gu Fei went to the bathroom.

          Jiang Cheng stood in the living room and sniffled. His nose was pretty clear now, so he probably didn’t get any snot on Gu Fei’s face.
          Though compared to the fact that he did such a shameless thing while fully conscious, he was more speechless at the thought that he seemed to be more concerned with the snot problem.
          After confirming that there was in fact, no snot problem, the peculiar sense of embarrassment finally came to the surface and hung in the air around him, and at the edge of his consciousness.
          When Gu Fei walked out of the bathroom with water droplets still clinging to his face, he found himself almost unable to meet Gu Fei’s eyes. The way his own eyes shifted around, he almost had the delusion that he somehow roofied Gu Fei.
          “Let’s go.” Gu Fei wiped his face. Then as if the awkwardness had spread to him, he grabbed some tissue to dry his face and walked straight to the door.
          “Mmn.” Jiang Cheng glanced at the tissues on the floor and wanted to tidy it up, but after hesitating for a moment, felt embarrassed again. So he decided to ignore them for now and followed Gu Fei out the door.

          In this part of town, the new terrain he uncovered under Gu Fei’s guidance was not much different from the area around Li Baoguo’s place. It was just as run down, though the lighting situation was a marked improvement.
          Under good lighting, this older area of town gave one the sense of having a rich storied past.
          Certainly, there were plenty of stories. Just Li Baoguo’s family alone, there were many stories there. And Gu Fei… he turned to look at Gu Fei.
          “It’s just up ahead.” Gu Fei said. “There’s a farmer’s market on the right side, the food there is pretty cheap. If you want to cook for yourself, you can get groceries there.”
          “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng answered.
          “Behind the textiles market up ahead, there’s also a clothing market, where they sell cheap yet ugly clothes.” Gu Fei glanced back at him. “If you want to save money, you can go there.”
          “…… Mhm.” Jiang Cheng laughed a little.
          “And then there are the food places. After we buy your sheets and whatever else, I’ll take you there.” Gu Fei said.
          “Alright.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

          Most of the businesses in the textile market had already closed. Fortunately, all the ones facing the street were still open. Jiang Cheng had no idea how to pick out these things, he only knew to look at the colours.
          “Let’s go with this set.” He put his hand on a four-piece set with wide stripes.
          “Those ones tend to pill.” Gu Fei said.
          “Oh,” Jiang Cheng pulled his hand back, and settled on another set. “Then this……”
          “There’s no difference between these two, can’t you tell?” Gu Fei said.
          “Shit,” Jiang Cheng put his hand in his pocket. “Why don’t you pick out a couple for me, good sir.”
          Gu Fei grinned and rummaged around the products, then pulled out a set, “This……”
          “Too ugly.” Jiang Cheng immediately said. “Cheap, yet ugly.”
          “Alright then, you can get the ones that pill.” Gu Fei started to laugh. “Expensive, yet beautiful.”
          At the end Jiang Cheng bought a set of each material. He couldn’t be bothered to look around at the other stores, so he got his pillows and comforters at the same place.
          “You’re getting just one pillow?” The female storekeeper asked.
          “Ah, I’m the only one sleeping on it.” Jiang Cheng said.
          “You can buy another to keep in the rotation. When you put one out to air in the sun you can sleep on the other one.” The storekeeper said. “It’s closing time so I’ll give it to you cheaper. Not to mention, even if there’s just one of you at the moment, doesn’t mean it’ll always be just one of you.”
          “I’m… in high school,” Jiang Cheng’s goal was still to save some money. “By the time there’s two people, the pillow’s probably already decomposed.”
          “This is a very high quality pillow!” The storekeeper held the pillow up to his face and gave it a couple of slaps. “Check out this springiness! Not to mention, there’s lots of people who move in together even in high school! I’ve seen quite a few myself, pairs of them coming here to buy bedding from me.”
          “I just… want one.” Jiang Cheng didn’t know what else to say. Normally he would turn to Gu Fei for help, but at the moment he was too embarrassed to even look in Gu Fei’s direction.
          “His mom checks in on him all the time. He usually goes to the motel, so it’s really not necessary to have two pillows in his room.” Gu Fei chimed in from behind him.
          “The fuck?” Jiang Cheng swung his head around.
          “Ohhhh—— is that so,” The storekeeper switched on an expression that said “no wonder”. “Then I guess one is enough.”

          Walking back to the street with the two bundles, they spent a long time just attaching everything to the back of the bikes. They even went back to ask the storekeeper for ropes to tie things down.
          “We’re going to dinner like this?” Jiang Cheng stared at the things he bought. “And carrying it into the restaurant?”
          “I’m taking you to eat something simple,” Gu Fei got on his bike. “No need to unload the bike.”
          “…… Alright then.” Jiang Cheng also got on. “What are we eating?”
          “Deep fried rice cakes,” Gu Fei said. “Very delicious.”
          “You’re taking an orphan for rice cakes only?” Jiang Cheng laughed.
          “It’s on the same level of delicious as Wang Er Meat Pies,” Gu Fei said sincerely. “Really.”

          After buying his bedding and on the way to the deep fried rice cakes, the awkwardness Jiang Cheng had been feeling finally dissipated. As he sat down at the table in the rice cake restaurant with Gu Fei, the repressed feeling that had made it so hard for him to breathe over the last couple days suddenly disappeared along with the awkwardness.
          “We can see the bikes from here.” Gu Fei said after he sat down.
          “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng checked out the restaurant, which was exceedingly small. It was barely able to fit five tiny tables inside, but they were all low to the ground, so eating at these tables was akin to crouching.
          Including them, there were two occupied tables in here at the moment. A group of girls sat at the other table, chatting up a storm.
          Comparatively, with only him and Gu Fei sitting across from each other in silence, their table appeared much quieter.
          “I forgot to ask you,” Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Fei. “Did Wild Boar Head bother you today?”
          “Nah,” Gu Fei poured a cup of tea and set it down in front of him. “He was just making some noise.”
          Jiang Cheng took a sip of tea, “Who do you think you’re fooling?”
          “I’m serious,” Gu Fei started to laugh. “Who dares to fool the genius overachiever. So smart, even going off-script on an self-admonition letter.”
          Jiang Cheng didn’t say anything, just stared at him.
          Gu Fei took a sip of tea, but he was still staring. So Gu Fei extended the teacup forward and clinked it against Jiang Cheng’s, then took another sip. Still Jiang Cheng stared.
          “Ayy…” Gu Fei sighed. “It’s not a big deal, we’ll see what happens after exams.”
          “He’s come to schedule a fight with you?” Jiang Cheng asked.    

          “Came to schedule a ballgame.” Gu Fei quirked a smile.
          “For people like him, what’s the difference between a ballgame and a fight?” Jiang Cheng drank his tea, and after some pondering, was still kind of amazed. “OK but, where does he get the face to come again? He played so dirty…… Damn if his face isn’t large enough to be folded up into a paper airplane.”
          “Don’t worry about it, nothing’s happening at the moment. Just focus on the exams.” Gu Fei said.
          “Don’t tell me you’re worried about it affecting my exams?” Jiang Cheng asked.
          “A little.” Gu Fei said.
          “No need to worry,” Jiang Cheng said. “In a crappy little school like Fourth High, I can get first place even while amnesic and running a fever. Do you want to copy me? I thought Zhou Jing said you guys don’t switch up the seats during tests.”
          “There’s no need, even a test score of zero wouldn’t stress me.” Gu Fei couldn’t stop laughing, then finally said after a while, “Cheng-ge you’re really……”
         “Hmm?” Jiang Cheng caught a whiff of the aroma of fried rice cakes, and turned to look toward the kitchen.
          “The most exceptional person I’ve ever met, in all my life.” Gu Fei said.
          Jiang Cheng paused, then turned back around without a word.
          “I’m serious.” Gu Fei said.
          “You are the most un-thug-like thug I’ve ever met, in all my life.” Jiang Cheng said. “You’re a toasty warm thug, and … rather good looking too.”
          “Should I return the compliment?” Gu Fei asked.
          “Not necessary,” Jiang Cheng said. “I’m well aware of my own handsomeness.”


Footnotes:

[1] Protection tolls: local gangs extort regular payment from small business owners in exchange for ‘protection’, usually from themselves, but sometimes from rival gangs

[2] Original text says 床上用品 as in bedding, which… isn’t normally an innuendo, but given the weird sexual tension between these two, it’s really easy for their minds to veer off in a dirty direction……

[3] Lyrics from saye.mp3 for the unitiated

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 6010
  • TL word count: 4195
  • TL time: 4:23:06
  • Edit: 1:29:40
  • Curse words: 5x fucks, 1x shit

TL’s Notes

Ahhhh Cheng-ge just needs to let it all out ~~