Cheng-ge is omnipresent


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

        It was a very appropriate point for Class-2 to call for break. They were only three minutes away from the end of the first half; this not only interrupted the momentum Class-8 had going in, but also did not give them a chance to get back into rhythm before the first half was over. With the addition of the halftime intermission, Class-8 would likely not get their momentum back.

        Jiang Cheng looked at the scoreboard, they were down by four points. This wasn’t a big gap, and to be fair was very easy to catch up. But since their opponent was Class-2, a team whose overall and individual skills were much higher than theirs, he had little confidence in catching up on these four points.

        For today’s game, they had Li Yan to thank, who not only took photos, but also acted as an off-court coach.

        During intermission, they all crouched in a cluster around Li Yan to hear his plans.

        “I’m going to be blunt, hope you don’t mind. I think you have a pretty slim chance,” Li Yan concluded. “If you want to win then you’ll have to really give it your all. Not one person should stay still, you all have to start running. Those guys on their team are part of the school team, right? They didn’t achieve that level of coordination in just one or two months, so if you want to win… or rather stop the gap from getting even larger, then you’ve got to give everything you have.”

        “YES!” They put their hands together in the middle and yelled.

        “Jiang Cheng, you probably won’t have many chances at 3-pointers in the second half. They’ll be watching you like a hawk.” Li Yan looked at Jiang Cheng. “You have to create openings for Da-Fei.”

        “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

        “Add oil.” Li Yan held up the camera and took a shot of his face.

        Jiang Cheng looked at him and sighed.

        “Not bad,” Li Yan showed him the camera. “It’s much more of a challenge taking photos of your captain, those poses……”

        Jiang Cheng started laughing and snuck a glance at Wang Xu, who was at the side drinking water with his hand braced against his hip.

        The second half began, and both teams went at it hard from the start. It wasn’t just the players on the court, even the cheering squads from each class were screaming like mad on the sidelines. If it wasn’t for the lines on the ground, and the referee standing nearby, they likely would’ve ran straight onto the court and shouted at each other.

        This time, Jiang Cheng started to feel tired only half an hour into the game. This was something he hadn’t experienced in the previous matches, the strain on his stamina was a lot. Because even if Wang Xu and the guys gave it their all, the difference in the two teams’ abilities had to be made up by him and Gu Fei. 

        After assisting Gu Fei in scoring three layups in a row, Jiang Cheng felt like his sweat was finally overwhelming his eyes. He didn’t have the habit of wearing sweatbands, so he could only use his shirt to wipe away the sweat.

        “Want it?” Gu Fei asked beside him.

        “Hm?” Jiang Cheng looked at him.

        “Here,” Gu Fei was a freak who wore a sweatband on each wrist. He took off the one on his left hand and handed it to Jiang Cheng. “I haven’t wiped with this one yet.”

        Jiang Cheng was about to say “do you think your sweat wouldn’t soak through anyway”, but Gu Fei quickly added, “Take it now before the sweat from my arm reaches my wrist.”

        “…… Shit.” Jiang Cheng laughed and put the wristband on, then used it to dab away the sweat on his forehead.

        “See that number 9,” Gu Fei said. “He’s out of energy. He’s been running the left wing, I’m going to head up from there in a bit.”

        Jiang Cheng didn’t answer. He and Gu Fei’s play generally stuck to the middle or the right wing. Going from the left would be a little unwieldy for someone who was used to playing with their right hand.

        “I want to see if I can score a trick.” Gu Fei said.

        Jiang Cheng had no time to figure out what exactly he had in mind, because Guo Xu was right there with the rebound and a roar ready to go. He quickly started running.

        Lu Xiaobin took a few steps with the ball then immediately passed it to him. Gu Fei had already crossed the midline. Just as he caught the ball and was about to make the pass, Gu Fei suddenly leaned a little to the left. 

        Jiang Cheng passed the ball to him right away. The timing was perfect, the ball bounced into Gu Fei’s hands just as he crossed over to the left wing. 

        Jiang Cheng immediately ran down the center toward the basket to aid him. 

        Gu Fei switched the ball to his left hand as he ran, and all the girls on the bleachers went wild with screams, their excitement was as if they just witnessed Gu Fei streaking across the field. Jiang Cheng was unimpressed. Dribbling with the left hand wasn’t some major feat, most people who often played basketball had had practice with it, otherwise it would be difficult to go around your opponents most of the time. Gu Fei’s left hand dribbling was indeed very steady, but his looks and persona definitely factored into it. He didn’t see anyone screaming like this when the grasshopper passed three people in a row with his left hand……

        Gu Fei quickly closed in on the baseline. It wouldn’t be easy going for a layup from this angle, which was similar to Jiang Cheng’s position before, when he landed the 3-pointer. Therefore, the main focus of Class-2’s defense was to keep Gu Fei from passing. They only had number 9 guarding him up close, to stop him from turning and going up to the basket.

        Jiang Cheng straddled the three-second zone while staring at Gu Fei’s movements, preparing to assist at any second.

        But Gu Fei suddenly pivoted on the spot, and with his left hand, lobbed the ball over his head and toward the hoop.

        Fuck! Throwing a 3-pointer from this angle, with this posture? Jiang Cheng quickly shouted, “Xiaobin!”

        Lu Xiaobin immediately arrived and crowded for space under the basket, getting ready to fight for the rebound.

        And yet, the ball that Gu Fei so carelessly flung out flew through the air in a perfect arc, and went through the hoop. 

        “Fuck me!” Jiang Cheng jumped up and yelled. “Fuck!”

        The sudden noise from the bleachers was loud enough to shake the court. Lao-Lu waved his arm frantically, “Gu Fei! Good job! GOOD JOB! Class-8, Class-8! Best looks in the state!”

        Jiang Cheng couldn’t even bother to complain about what looks had to do with it that Lao-Lu was so obsessed with this line. He jumped up and bumped shoulders with Gu Fei, “What’s your problem.”

        “Was that cool.” Gu Fei also jumped up and bumped against him.

        “Unbearably cool,” Jiang Cheng said. “The troops are energized again.”

        This 3-pointer of Gu Fei’s had lifted the spirits of Class-8’s team, but at the same time energized Class-2 as well.

        Class-2 swiftly launched a quick counterattack and took back two points. 

        The atmosphere on and off the court came suddenly to a boil, it was more than enough to steam a few trays of buns.

        Just as Li Yan had said, under these circumstances, it would be difficult to even maintain the score difference. Every time they scored a ball, Class-2 would get right back at them. 

        By the time they came to the last segment, Class-8 was still behind by three points. With a difference like this, if they performed at their best, it could be a simple matter of one ball in the basket to break even. But in reality, especially when Class-2 had already been riled up, it was more than a little difficult to catch up.

        During break, Jiang Cheng stood with his hands on his knees and listened as his teammates around him huffed and puffed like bulls.

        “Guo Xu, come off and take a rest,” Li Yan had stopped talking strategy with them at this point. “Switch for someone bigger. If they strike, then all of you come back and guard the basket. If they go for a 3-pointer, just let Gu Fei and Jiang Cheng deal with it.”

        “Got it.” Wang Xu nodded.

        “You guys don’t really have a problem scoring right now, the key is to keep them from scoring more points. Otherwise if you keep getting one ball each, you’re done for.” Li Yan said.

        In a game where both sides were going all in but the difference in skills couldn’t be ignored, it was next to impossible for Class-8 to keep Class-2 from scoring. When Li Yan said this he gave Gu Fei and Jiang Cheng a look. Jiang Cheng knew that he only said this so his teammates wouldn’t be discouraged. 

        After they made the switch, they did gain a little more vertical height under the basket. However, compared to the grasshopper, the effect wasn’t so pronounced.

        With four minutes to go, the score difference was now five points. Li Yan called for another change, and switched Guo Xu on again.

        “Go all in, and let loose,” Was the message Guo Xu brought with him. “Focus everything on scoring.”

        Jiang Cheng felt like he had never been under this much pressure, not even when leading the school team to a tournament in the past. The pressure came from the onlookers’ cheers and shouts, the hardworking chants from the cheering squad, his own teammates who were giving it everything they had, and his opponents who were doing the same.

        “Go get us three points.” Said Gu Fei when he ran past.

        After a few more rounds of back and forth, the difference was brought down to four points. Jiang Cheng glanced at the timer as he caught the ball, there was less than a minute left. If this were between two teams of comparable skill level, there would be some hope left. But now…… Still, he charged forward with the ball.

        He was stopped in his path by He Zhou, so he passed the ball to Gu Fei, who immediately gave it to Wang Xu.

        Wang Xu and Lu Xiaobin coordinated an advance into the other team’s three-second zone, but their shot got knocked down. Fortunately, Lu Xiaobin’s sudden booming bellow had the other player vying for the rebound frozen in shock. Lu Xiaobin took advantage of this fraction of a second and stole the rebound.

        Jiang Cheng could feel the power of his roar from all the way outside the 3-point line. If this was a wuxia novel, the other guy would probably be bleeding out from all his orifices right about now. 

        Lu Xiaobin gave the ball to Jiang Cheng.

        Go get us three points.

        Gu Fei’s words resounded in his mind. He didn’t so much as hesitate before he jumped up. He Zhou was right in front of him, and jumped up with him.

        He leaned back slightly. In this instant, a hundred repetitions of “idol Fujima give me strength” ran through his brain…… [1]

        The ball left his hands.

        He Zhou didn’t get to touch the ball, which flew out in a large arc.

        As they came back down, He Zhou said without even turning around, “Great shot.”

        Jiang Cheng stared at the ball, his arms still in the air. As the ball went through the hoop, he did as he had always done, and pressed three fingers down with the motion of the ball.

        Great shot.

        One point difference.

        The last 20 seconds almost got everyone in a frenzy. The audience on the bleachers all stood up, as waves of sound crashed over them. Lao-Xu had started to hop up and down, waving his arms and yelling, though nobody could hear what he was shouting. Even Lao-Lu’s usually loud voice was drowned out in the excitement of the crowd.

        As if they were flying, Class-2 ran the ball under the basket in no time. When the grasshopper got the ball, he didn’t even steady his footing before he jumped up to shoot. Gu Fei jumped up at the same time, but wasn’t able to knock down the shot, he only managed to poke the bottom of the ball with his fingertips.

        The ball didn’t go in, but the people under the basket immediately tangled together in a fight for the rebound, they were practically embracing one another. The feeling that this was the “final match of a boys’ basketball tournament” had just about faded away, in a daze Jiang Cheng had the illusion that they were actually a bunch of aunties fighting for a deal at the supermarket’s 90% off sale.

        Class-2 still ended up with the ball. Another shot. This time Gu Fei knocked it down, and the ball landed in Wang Xu’s hands.

        Four seconds left.

        Wang Xu had no time to pass, he ran straight out to the opposite side with the ball.

        Jiang Cheng went after him to provide cover, but He Zhou was like someone who had a flashbang go off under his ass, his speed was astonishing. Even before Wang Xu crossed the 3-point line, He Zhou already caught up to him. He reached out a hand and slapped the ball out of Wang Xu’s hands.

        By the time Wang Xu once again had the ball back in his possession, the ending whistle sounded. 

        “Game over——”

        All the students from Class-2 jumped up, their cheers were deafening.

        Wang Xu stood there with the ball, unmoving. Gu Fei walked over and patted his shoulder. He suddenly turned around and tossed the ball away, then with a roar, pulled Gu Fei into his arms and started crying.

        “The fuck?” Gu Fei froze, his arm still up.

        “We were so close!” Wang Xu shouted through tears. “Just a little bit more!”

        “We already did so well,” Gu Fei patted his back. “Look, we did so well, don’t cry……”

        He Zhou exchanged a few high fives with his teammates, then seeing this, was a little stunned. He jogged over, “Did I… I don’t recall bumping into him……”

        “You didn’t,” Jiang Cheng said. “He’s just……”

        “Why the hell did you slap my ball away!” Wang Xu pushed Gu Fei off, glared at He Zhou, and yelled.

        “Hey!” He Zhou jumped in surprise and took a step back, he was bewildered. “I had to… slap it… ah.”

        “Captain,” Jiang Cheng was feeling rather dejected and disappointed. After all, they only lost by one point. But seeing Wang Xu’s state, he had no time to lament their loss. He walked over and looked at Wang Xu. “Captain, Captain Wang?”

        “What.” Wang Xu looked back at him.

        “Everyone’s watching you,” Jiang Cheng said. “Hurry up and organize, we still have to shake hands.”

        “Oh right!” Wang Xu’s eyes widened. “I almost forgot! Come on come on! Everyone on my team line up here!”

        Jiang Cheng let out a breath of relief.

        After the players from both teams finished shaking hands and patting each other on the back, they went back to their respective resting areas.

        “Most spectacular!” Lao-Xu went down the line and gave them each a hug. “Most spectacular! You were all amazing! I’m so proud of you all!”

        When he got to Jiang Cheng, Jiang Cheng quickly clamped his fist at him and stepped back. [2]

        “Oh you!” Lao-Xu pointed at him and sighed. He grabbed Gu Fei and gave him a hug. “Good job Gu Fei!”

        Gu Fei smiled and didn’t say anything.

        After Lao-Xu walked away, he turned to look at Jiang Cheng. Jiang Cheng held his gaze for a while, then laughed and opened his arms. Gu Fei walked over and gave him a hug.

        In this moment, Jiang Cheng no longer cared if there’d be screaming around them, whether someone would be holding up a phone, or if there would be a new post in the forum from this scene. 

        He just wanted to give Gu Fei a hug. Because of this game, because of this group of teammates who gave their all, and because of the perfect coordination between him and Gu Fei. A hug.

        Give me a hug, I’ll give you a hug, carrying my meimei onto the palanquin of buds…… [3]

        “I haven’t played such a satisfying game in a really long time.” Gu Fei said.

        “Yeah,” Jiang Cheng said. “You’ve just never played a normal game of basketball before huh?”

        “…… I have.” Gu Fei let go of him. “I gotta go to the washroom.”

        “Were you holding in piss this whole time?” Jiang Cheng didn’t know what to say.

        “No,” Gu Fei grabbed his jacket and pulled out the tube of wound-closing ointment. “I think the wound on my side tore open too, I gotta go fix it.”

        “Do you…” Jiang Cheng lowered his voice. “Need help?”

        “I’m OK.” Gu Fei gave a little smile.

        Most of the audience was still hanging around. Some were on the court shooting hoops, some were still sitting on the bleachers excitedly discussing the game, and then there were those who were…… taking pictures.

        “Jiang Cheng,” He Zhou jogged over. “Let’s play another game later?”

        “Can we do it another day?” Jiang Cheng glanced toward the washroom. “Today we……”

        “Can’t!” Wang Xu suddenly leaned in. “No way! We have to go out and eat now! No time to play with you!”

        He Zhou hesitated for a moment, “Alright then, we’ll schedule another time, let’s add each other on WeChat?”

        “Mmn.” Jiang Cheng took out his phone and added He Zhou to his contacts.

        It didn’t take very long for Gu Fei to come back from the washroom. The players and cheering squad from Class-8 were still in a conflicted state of excitement, sadness, and joy.

        “We have a big group!” Wang Xu was on the phone with the restaurant to make a reservation. “Don’t you guys have one of those mini conference room types of private rooms! Exactly! Yes that one!”

        “How is it?” Jiang Cheng glanced at Gu Fei.

        “No problemo,” Gu Fei rolled his shoulders. “We’re going out to eat?”

        “Mhm,” Jiang Cheng nodded. “What time…… are you?”

        “Eight o’clock tonight.” Gu Fei said.

        Wang Xu ushered the bunch of them to the restaurant, including the reluctant Li Yan.

        Jiang Cheng sat beside Gu Fei again, but they didn’t speak more than a couple of sentences to each other the whole meal. Everyone was in an extremely excited state. Fortunately, there weren’t many other people dining at this restaurant at lunch time, otherwise they would have chased out all the other customers by their noise alone.

        Jiang Cheng didn’t feel much like talking anyway. Ever since he saw the row of buildings yesterday, he had harboured a vague sense of unease about Gu Fei’s brainless building-hopping event. 

        Now that the tournament was over and he had nothing else to worry about, this feeling only grew stronger.

        Gu Fei would definitely get hurt, and very visibly injured too. He had to get hurt. Based on Monkey’s M.O, even if Gu Fei admitted defeat, he still had to be injured first.

        So then, what kind of injury does this need to be?

        How utterly moronic.

        They ate and talked and drank and even cried together. At the end they even finished it off with a chorus of “Friends”. An outsider who didn’t know any better might think they were having an early farewell party. The meal lasted all the way until past three o’clock in the afternoon. When it was finally over, Jiang Cheng walked out of the restaurant feeling like his sweat had been fermented on his body.

        Li Yan had his motorcycle, so he rode straight back to Gu Fei’s store. Jiang Cheng and Gu Fei pedaled back slowly on their bikes; they were quiet the whole way.

        It wasn’t until they were at the convenience store that Gu Fei finally said, “Make sure you be careful tonight. There’ll be a lot of people there, there’s gonna be all kinds.”

        “I know,” Jiang Cheng glanced over at him, then finally let out a sigh. “The certain kind of injury you have to sustain, make sure you… have a good handle on that.”

        “Don’t worry,” Gu Fei smiled. “Injuries and I grew up together.”

        Jiang Cheng gave him a middle finger and pedaled away on his bike.

        The first thing he did when he got home was take a shower. Then he went out again and after several circles around the neighbourhood, finally found a pharmacy where he bought some rubber medical tubing and a pair of Rochester-Pean forceps. 

        When he first started to fiddle with slingshots it was with rubber medical tubes. Frankly, these weren’t the best ‘slings’ to use for a slingshot, but because he was so used to it and was familiar with the way it stretched and warped, he continued to use them.

        After he bought the rubber tubes, he went to the market. As someone who was completely unfamiliar with the layout of the market, he walked around inside for maybe ten whole laps before he found a stall and purchased a bag of walnuts.

        Having done all this, it wasn’t yet five o’clock, still a long way to go until eight. Nevertheless, he stuffed everything into his backpack and made his way toward the railway bridge.

        He locked his bike on a railing outside a little shop at the intersection, then headed in on foot.

        This place looked even more desolate during the day than at night. He went straight up to the roof and put down his bag, then sat down by the wall of the rooftop shed.

        “Hello everyone, welcome to today’s Moron-Watching with Cheng-ge, episode two.” Jiang Cheng said quietly as he untied the old rubber tube on the slingshot. “From now until the Mad Rave of the Morons we still have…… three hours. I figure there’ll be forerunners of the morons coming in about two hours, so we had to arrive early…… During this time I can show everyone how to fix a rubber tube onto a slingshot……”

        He took out the rubber tube and forceps, “I usually, hmm, use an ‘8’ shaped tying method. It’s very simple, all you need is one pair of forceps, or even two knitting needles… it’s up to you. Alright I’m done talking, not really in the mood.”

        The leather pad was replaced recently, so it didn’t need to be changed. Jiang Cheng quickly finished tying the rubber tube to the slingshot, then pulled it tight to test the stretch and let go. Not bad.

        He leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes for a second. Then he pulled out a walnut from his backpack.

        “Last time we used steel bearings,” He pulled back the sling, and aimed it in turn at each of the four buildings across the way. “Today we will see the power of a single walnut…… Of course, these are not those paper skin walnuts, these are regular hard shell walnuts……”

        He let go, and the walnut shot out from the sling.

        An empty can on the rooftop across the way was knocked off the ledge and fell off the building to the ground below. The walnut also shattered into pieces.

        “Not bad,” Jiang Cheng reached out and grabbed four walnuts, then stood up and inched forward a couple of steps. “Let us see how an acrophobic person would overcome his mental……block oh my fuck four in a row……”

        Jiang Cheng sucked in a breath, aimed at a glass bottle on the rooftop of the second building, and shot out the first walnut. The bottle hopped forward. He shot out the second walnut, the bottle hopped forward again. Next was the third, then the fourth.

        The fourth one missed. The bottle had hopped almost to the other side of the building, it was a little too far.

        “Alright,” Jiang Cheng sat back down by the wall. “The preparation is complete. Now… let’s everyone study for a while with me, the show will resume in two hours.”

        He pulled a math practice questions booklet that Pan Zhi had sent him and started reading through it.

        When the sky had completely darkened and he could no longer see anything in front of him, Jiang Cheng stuffed the book back in his bag. It was then that he heard the sound of motorcycles coming from downstairs.

        The street lamps were already on. He inched forward to the edge of the roof and peered down. Even though there were only two street lamps, it was enough for him to make out the three motorcycles outside.

        Each motorcycle also carried a passenger, there were four males and two females.

        “Everyone, the moronic forerunners have arrived, there are even girls.” Jiang Cheng said quietly. “I’ve never seen these people before, so they’re probably part of the Moronic Monkey’s team.”

        The people didn’t head upstairs after they got off their bikes, but instead stood around laughing and chatting.

        Jiang Cheng glanced at the time, it was just past seven. He opened his messages and looked at the conversation between him and Gu Fei. There was no new content; Gu Fei hadn’t contacted him.

        He hesitated for a moment, then put the phone back in his pocket. There was no point in contacting Gu Fei at this time.

        Another ten minutes or so later, more people started to gather downstairs. Some rolled in on foot, while others arrived on motorcycles. All of them stood around in clumps outside, smoking. A few of them were even holding bottles of alcohol and drinking as they talked. He stared at each of these people, and didn’t see anyone from Not A Good Bird.

        Jiang Cheng crouched in this way at the edge of the rooftop looking down until his legs were numb, until he almost forgot he was afraid of heights, until he finally spotted Li Yan, who rode in on the motorcycle he was riding earlier today.

        A faint disturbance rippled through the crowd downstairs, and the atmosphere suddenly became a little tense.

        Next came two more motorcycles. Jiang Cheng observed them closely, it was “Not” “Bird”, and “Good” “A”. Exactly four people…… Where was Gu Fei?

        After Li Yan and Not A Good Bird had all gotten off their bikes, he finally saw Gu Fei turn in on his own motorcycle.

        “Fuck me,” Jiang Cheng said in a quiet voice. “Dear friends and audience, please turn your eyes toward the one entering the arena right now, this Moron… Number 1, he’s riding a black motorcycle and wearing… a night walking outfit. Currently he’s taking off his helmet…… Putting aside the fact that he has brain damage, Number 1 really is a rather handsome guy. I wouldn’t mind giving a score of 82 for this entrance, with the remaining 18 points given out in the form of 666……” [4]

        Gu Fei got off his bike, tossed his helmet to hang on the mirror and glanced at the people around him, “Where’s Monkey?”

        “He’ll be here soon.” Someone answered.

“Let’s head up first.” Gu Fei looked at Liu Fan.

        “Mn.” Liu Fan kicked away an empty liquor bottle by his feet and the six of them walked into the building.

        Gu Fei was familiar with this building. Since these people in the Steel Works were passionate about using hurdling to resolve their conflicts, he’d already lost count of how many times he’d been here. However, this was the first time he came here to put an end to his own conflict.

        “The people I gathered will be here soon,” Liu Fan turned around. “Li Yan, why don’t you give Xu-ge a call, let him know to come straight up.”

        “Sure.” Li Yan took out his phone and made a call.

        Gu Fei walked at the very front all the way up to the roof. It was a very windy day, he got a face full of wind as soon as he walked out to the rooftop.

        He looked around him, then pulled out a pair of glasses from his pocket and put them on.

        “Probably in that building across the way.” Li Yan said quietly beside him.

        He gave Li Yan a look, then looked out at the building across. It was pitch dark, he couldn’t make out a single thing. There didn’t seem to be a human shaped shadow or anything on the rooftop either.

        Monkey had come up with a bunch of people in tow. The main characters of the event were now all assembled. All the excited bystanders had all made their way to the rooftops as well. One, two, three, and four. Gu Fei glanced around, all four building’s rooftops were full of viewers.

        Some of them were Monkey’s people, but some were called here by Liu Fan and the guys. There were also more than a few ‘neutral’ parties present as well.

        Despite this conflict being only between himself and Monkey, it was necessary to gather these people here. For ‘leaders’ like Monkey, he liked having this setup, whereas for Gu Fei, he only wanted there to be witnesses.

        If he wished to get this over with once and for all, if he wished to cut off all possibility of any followup nonsense, then there had to be other people present, as many as possible. As long as it was widely known that the conflict between the two of them was resolved here and now, if they wanted to look for trouble again in the future, then it would be a matter of face. To someone like Monkey, who had a reputation to uphold and who valued his face, it would be difficult to pursue it further.

        Only… Gu Fei pushed his glasses up and carefully scanned the crowd around him once more, then searched the other three rooftops one by one. No sign of Jiang Cheng.

        He was all too familiar with Jiang Cheng’s presence by now, even if the dude was hiding amongst a crowd of people, he would still be able to spot him at once. Yet he couldn’t find any sign of Jiang Cheng.

        The building across the way? It was still a picture of stillness.

        He was feeling a little unmoored. After a long internal battle, he eventually pulled out his phone and sent Jiang Cheng a message.

        – where are you

        Jiang Cheng’s reply came very quickly.

        – Cheng-ge is omnipresent

        “Fuck.” Gu Fei stared at this line of text, he could almost see Jiang Cheng’s unbelievably smug face.

        – where exactly are you, in the building across?

        There was no light source in these buildings. However, if Jiang Cheng turned his screen brightness all the way down, he still wouldn’t be able to see any light from here. 

        – come to the edge of the roof

        Gu Fei glanced at Monkey. He was chatting with a group of people he hadn’t seen in a while, his face so calm it was as if nothing of import was happening tonight.

        Gu Fei walked slowly to the edge of the roof.

        Just as he was about to send another message to Jiang Cheng, he suddenly felt something hit his shoe. He looked down, and saw that it was a walnut.

        “The hell? Well aren’t you well hidden,” He sent a voice message back, then walked over and crushed the walnut under his feet. That’s when he saw the shattered remains of more walnuts on the side. “What are you trying to do?”

        – give us a smile

        Jiang Cheng replied.

        Gu Fei turned and faced the pitch darkness of the crumbling building across the alley, what the hell was that supposed to mean?

        – I can see you

        Jiang Cheng replied again.

        Gu Fei glanced at the people standing around him, and while no one was watching, he turned back and smiled into the darkness.

        It was probably the dorkiest thing he had ever done in his life.

        “Very good.” Jiang Cheng crouched in the darkness. On the rooftop on the other side, somebody had started a fire in one of the old oil pails, it suddenly got very bright. “What we just saw was Moron Number 1’s smile, which means visibility is optimal at the moment…… They look like they’re about to start, it’s starting.”

        With one leg bent and the other kneeling on the pavement, he picked up a walnut and drew back on the sling.

        The people on the rooftop had backed off on either side. Both Gu Fei and Monkey were standing at the very edge of the rooftop, their runway was the width of the building.

        “Fuck,” Jiang Cheng frowned. A few empty glass bottles had been kicked to the middle from the sides. There were at least three bottles in Gu Fei’s path, followed by a few bricks and strips of wood. It was the same situation on the next rooftop over, which was the destination of their first jump. Somebody even threw down a whole case of beer in the middle. He clenched his teeth. “Fucking brainless idiots.”

        Somebody walked to the middle and stood facing Monkey and Gu Fei with his hand up.

        There was no way for Jiang Cheng to calculate Gu Fei’s strides, and therefore no way for him to clear Gu Fei’s path with the walnuts. All he could do was follow Gu Fei’s movements after they started, then after the jump, estimate his landing spot and get in there before……

        The man in the middle brought his hand down firmly.

        Gu Fei and Monkey bolted forward at the same time.

        Gu Fei did not look down at his feet at all, each of his strides were long, as he dashed out with the wind around him, it was as if he was about to take off into the air.

        Jiang Cheng kept his eyes locked on him.

        Gu Fei’s ‘all in’ attitude was clear to him from his first step; no looking down, only moving forward.

        As Gu Fei stepped onto the edge of the roof, where one more inch forward would’ve had him falling off the building, and pushed off into a jump, Jiang Cheng’s heart momentarily ground to a halt.

        The way Gu Fei sprinted forward without a care, the way he leapt into the air, every movement he made while embracing the wind, as if he was flying……

        “What kind of person are you?” Jiang Cheng drew the sling back, and as he let go, the walnut flew out. Its target was an empty bottle near Gu Fei’s landing spot.


Footnotes:

[1] Fujima Kenji of.. you know, Slam Dunk, the ultimate basketball anime!

[2] An ancient style of greeting that’s mostly used by modern people as a joke, Jet Li for ref

[3] Jiang Cheng regularly bursts into song in his head, but this is…

[4] 666: Common internet slang that means “good job”, “perfect”, or “smooth”

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 7876
  • TL word count: 5836
  • TL time: 8:12:52
  • Edit: 0:55:31
  • Curse words: 9x fucks, 1x shit, 1x ass

TL’s Notes

Ohhhhh boySee, this city is such a crappy little place with crappy amenities and crappy resources, but it has a certain charm, doesn’t it? Other than the hooligans, the people aren’t half bad. Without the immense pressure of the university entrance exam that big city kids have, the kids here have a little more free time to just be kids. 

And you know what, kids like Wang Xu probably never got close to excelling or winning at anything in their whole life. Because whether it be academics or basketball or something else, the people who are already ‘good’ wouldn’t think to involve him, so he would never even have a chance to get better. That is, until Jiang Cheng came along and airdropped into their lives. That he had this opportunity to get involved in something with his peers and actually have a chance at winning, is so precious. 

I’m emo.