He turned to glare at Gu Fei, and kept his voice down, “What the FUCK?”

Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3


         Among these classmates of Jiang Cheng, none of the guys were particularly handsome, nor the girls particularly pretty. But just like the first time Gu Fei set eyes on Jiang Cheng, it was clear at a glance that these people weren’t from around here.

         It was the inherent air that belonged to those regular high school students from big cities, which set them apart so clearly from the environment here. 

         “You’ve met Pan Zhi, my buddy, maybe you don’t remember,” Jiang Cheng walked up to him and introduced his other classmates. “Let’s go find a place to eat?”

         “Mhm,” Gu Fei nodded. “Let’s have fried rice cakes.”

         Jiang Cheng opened his eyes wide, and was about to say more fried rice cakes? All he’s been eating for the past two days were fried rice cakes. But before he even opened his mouth, Pan Zhi piped up from behind him, “Hey that sounds good, I haven’t had fried rice cakes in a long time.”

         “Sure, let’s get that, rice cakes in syrup is really good too.” Li Yuqing said right away.

         “Come on then,” Gu Fei grabbed his bike nearby and got on, resting his bandaged leg on the pedal as he pushed lightly against the ground with his other foot. “It’s not far.”

         “Will your leg be alright?” Pan Zhi asked.

         “It’s fine.” Gu Fei said.

         “Let’s go.” Jiang Cheng beckoned, then pretended to walk up to steady the handlebar, and quickly rubbed his hand over Gu Fei’s.

         Gu Fei immediately stuck out his thumb, and stroked it across Jiang Cheng’s palm just as he was taking his hand away.

         As the rest of them caught up, Gu Fei moved to the side of the road as he listened to them chat.

         Jiang Cheng didn’t talk very much, most of the talking was done by Pan Zhi and the others, mainly reporting on the various gossip that accumulated at school since the semester started. Gu Fei listened as he followed along beside them.

         “Oh yeah Cheng-er, here’s the letter he wrote you,” When the conversation got to their head teacher, Pan Zhi pulled out a brown paper envelope from his pocket. “Almost forgot.”

         “Mm.” Jiang Cheng took it and put it in his own pocket.

         This head teacher must also be one of the really good ones, Gu Fei thought as he slowly pushed forward on the bike, might even be comparable to Lao-Xu…… Cheng-er? [1]

         Gu Fei turned his head, just as Jiang Cheng also happened to turn to look at him as well. Gu Fei narrowed his eyes slightly.

         Jiang Cheng tilted his head at him in confusion, so he also tilted his head and mouthed the words.

         WTF.jpg [Eng]

         Jiang Cheng suddenly realized where Gu Fei’s focus was, and first felt a slight embarrassment, then after thinking about it for a second, he just wanted to laugh.

         Pan Zhi only ever addressed him in two ways, Cheng-er, and grandpa. 

         The term grandpa was usually reserved for their private conversations or when speaking with particularly excited tones, whereas Cheng-er was more of an every day name…… It wasn’t a big deal really, but if Gu Fei held onto it the way he did with the “why would he sleep on the bed and not the sofa why must he sleep on the sofa and not at the hotel”, Jiang Cheng wouldn’t know what to say in response either.

         Because normally he just referred to Pan Zhi as Pan Zhi.

         Why do you call him Pan Zhi but he calls you Cheng-er?

         Jiang Cheng glanced over at Gu Fei again, Gu Fei had his head down while lighting a cigarette, but turned his head this way again after sensing Jiang Cheng’s gaze, he mouthed another soundless phrase.

         WTF??? [Eng]

         Jiang Cheng couldn’t help bursting out in laughter.

         “Right?!” Pan Zhi said beside him. “I almost died laughing, almost got kicked out halfway through the class……”

         “Ah,” Jiang Cheng answered. “Dumbass.”

         He had no idea what Pan Zhi was talking about, but this was a foolproof reply between them. 

         “Oh yeah, are there videos of your basketball tournament last time?” Pan Zhi asked. “Send it to me and so I can see, it’s been so long since we played together, at least let me have a look.”

         “I don’t know,” Jiang Cheng turned to ask Gu Fei. “Are there?”

         “Yeah,” Gu Fei said. “Jiuri must have some saved.” [2]

         “Fuck who?” Pan Zhi asked, then immediately changed the subject again. “Send me a copy?”

         “You can add me.” Gu Fei tapped a few times on his phone, and turned the screen toward Pan Zhi.

         “Sure,” Pan Zhi quickly pulled out his phone and scanned the AR code on the screen, and added Gu Fei as a contact. “This is your username? Rather…… uh… endearing.”

         Jiang Cheng watched from the side as the two of them added each other as friends, then right after Pan Zhi put his phone back in his pocket, he got dragged to the side by Xu Meng.

         “No, no way,” Pan Zhi said quietly. “I can’t…… go ask for it yourself.”

         “The fuck?” Jiang Cheng suddenly couldn’t hold it in anymore. Pan Zhi wasn’t about to give Xu Meng Gu Fei’s contact information now, but after they go back…… Or perhaps even before they go back, what if Xu Meng came and asked for it herself? If it never gets brought up again that’s one thing, but if she came over now and asked directly, it’d be odd if Gu Fei refused to even give out a WeChat handle.

         He turned to glare at Gu Fei, and kept his voice down, “What the FUCK?” [Eng]

         “Cheng-er??” Gu Fei also suppressed his voice.

         “Screw you Gu Fei are you past five years old?” Jiang Cheng continued to keep his voice down.

         “Nope.” Gu Fei said.

         Jiang Cheng was having trouble keeping a straight face, he laughed until snot almost came out of his nostril.

         “Fuck.” He rubbed his nose.

         There were quite a few little shops beside the fried rice cake place. After the group of them found a table, the two girls went out to have a look around, and brought back a bunch of barbequed wings, meat on a stick, and soft drinks.

         Gu Fei sat at the table with his head down and played with his phone, he didn’t have very much in common with these old classmates of Jiang Cheng’s. These people were like Jiang Cheng, clean. Even if their topics of conversation were about so-and-so getting together with another so-and-so, it still sounded full of a romantic innocence.

         It was like Li Yan said, “There’s already a goddamn generation gap between you and other people your age, you look at your peers as though you’re looking at your sons”.

         But still, Jiang Cheng was different. Jiang Cheng was clearly more mature than Pan Zhi and the rest, therefore there was no gap between the two of them. Or even if there was, it wouldn’t be this kind of gap.

         Jiang Cheng still didn’t talk much, most of the time he just sat back in his chair and watched his old classmates talk. Gu Fei studied the face that hardly displayed any kind of expression other than that hint of inherent arrogance, this was the Jiang Cheng he met at the beginning.

         If he hadn’t seen this side of Jiang Cheng again, it would be almost impossible for him to imagine that Jiang Cheng’s adoption had been retracted due to his relationship with his adopted family deteriorating to an irreconcilable point.

         Gu Fei extended his leg under the table, and lightly stepped on Jiang Cheng’s shoe.

         Jiang Cheng turned to look at him, curving his eyes a little at Gu Fei, then turned back to watch his old classmates who were laughing wildly in their conversations.

         This is Jiang Cheng now. No, this is Jiang Cheng when he’s with him.

         “Niu Xiaoyang really is letting it go to his head, he’s walking on sunshine.” Pan Zhi said as he munched on chicken wings. “Aiyoo, once Jiang Cheng was gone, he finally managed to squeeze his way into the top 3, that face of his is practically glowing on its own, every day it twinkle twinkles.”

         “Who cares,” Li Song said. “Even if he doesn’t twinkle twinkle, it wouldn’t be up to you, why bother getting worked up over it.”

         “That’s different,” Pan Zhi said. “Just you wait, I must tell him when I get back, he has to write a thank you note to Cheng-er, a really sincere one, and throw in a whole strand of firecrackers.”

         “Whose tests are you copying from these days.” Jiang Cheng smiled and lit a cigarette.

         “I’m relying on myself now,” Pan Zhi sighed. “After the midterm scores came out, my dad beat me so hard that my mom couldn’t even recognize me.”

         They all laughed at that, and continued the conversation around the most recent midterm exams.

         Jiang Cheng stayed quiet. He was like this before, other than Pan Zhi, he didn’t have very much in common to talk about with his other classmates, even though they all got along well enough.

         Listening to these conversations now, he felt a little out of it.

         Over the last few months, these kinds of discussions that centered around tests and rankings had grown foreign to him. It was the sort of atmosphere that didn’t exist at the Fourth High. Here, the only possible discussion that could carry on around tests was probably about cheating.

         As he listened, Jiang Cheng suddenly felt a little panicked.

         Of the test papers Lao-Xu gave him, he had only done two sets. He probably wouldn’t have time for them during the few days they had off from school, he could only wait until Pan Zhi and the others left……

         Since the group had come here all the way on the train, then chatted excitedly for almost two hours, they were now finally feeling tired. Pan Zhi went to pay the bill, then yelled about going back and getting some sleep.

         “I probably can’t get up very early tomorrow,” Pan Zhi glanced at his phone, then looking at Gu Fei, asked. “Would it be alright to get up just before 10?”

         Gu Fei glanced at him, and wanted to blurt out you better get up at 3 AM.

         “Pretty much, depends on where you’re going, it’s a little late for hiking up the mountain.” Gu Fei said.

         “Let’s go to the haunted house first,” Li Yuqing said. “I’ve always wanted to visit one.”

         “If it’s the haunted house, then that’s fine,” Gu Fei said. “We can even check out the park, there’s some sort of ancient tower…… We used to visit every semester in elementary school and write essays about it.” 

         “Sure,” Pan Zhi grinned. “It’s perfect since I haven’t written my weekly journal yet……”

         After they left the restaurant, Gu Fei went back to slowly rolling forward on his bike.

         About 50 meters ahead was the intersection, from there if they turned left and went another 50 meters, he’d have to take a different turn and go home.

         Tsk.

         He stole a glance at Jiang Cheng, at the same time when Jiang Cheng was also looking in his direction. After their eyes met, Jiang Cheng walked to his side, “Message me later when you get home.”

         “You message me.” Gu Fei said.

         “Alright,” Jiang Cheng answered. “But you still have to message.”

         “Mhm,” Gu Fei looked at the others. “So you’re going home with Pan Zhi later?”

         “How should I answer that?” Jiang Cheng gave him a side-eye.

         Gu Fei started laughing, “He sleeps on the sofa, don’t forget.”

         “I won’t,” Jiang Cheng said. “Don’t give out your WeChat to just anyone either, don’t forget.”

         “No problemo,” Gu Fei rang the bell on the handlebar, and everyone turned to look at him. He waved his hand and pointed to the intersection up ahead. “I’m going that way.”

         “Then we’ll see you tomorrow!” Pan Zhi said. “We’ll go pick you up after we call a car.”

         “Mhm,” Gu Fei answered, then added quietly. “Good night.”

         “Good night.” Jiang Cheng said quietly.

         Pan Zhi had brought his change of clothes with him instead of leaving it at the hotel, so they headed straight for Jiang Cheng’s rented apartment. The others left for the hotel after agreeing on a meeting time for the next day.

         “Will your friend be able to go tomorrow?” Pan Zhi said as they walked. “To make him come with us with his leg like that, might not be such a good idea?”

         “His leg will be fine once we leave this area.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “Huh?” Pan Zhi couldn’t comprehend.

         Jiang Cheng’s phone pinged once, he pulled it out and took a look, it was a message from Gu Fei.

         – Chengcheng you just walk on boldly just trudge on ahead oh don’t look back

         The fuck?

         While Pan Zhi was busy turning around and fumbling with his backpack, Jiang Cheng stole a swift glance over his shoulder. The distant figure of Gu Fei on his bike with one foot on the ground under the streetlamp was already blurry, but he spotted him right away.

         He sent a reply back to Gu Fei.

         – muackmuackmuack

         Gu Fei quickly sent back another reply.

         – want hughug

         – hughug

         – want kisskiss

         – i just did

         – oh, right

         Jiang Cheng held back his laughter as he put the phone back in his pocket.

         “That Gu Fei,” Pan Zhi asked after he finished adjusting the straps on his bag. “Did he get into some kind of trouble?”

         “Not necessarily, more like resolved the trouble.” Jiang Cheng said. He often liked to call Pan Zhi a dumbass, but Pan Zhi wasn’t dumb, he could immediately tell that something was off from just one sentence.

         “Cheng-er,” Pan Zhi hesitated for a moment. “You just be careful, don’t get caught up in it.”

         “I’m aware.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “I’m not saying that your friend is……” Pan Zhi thought about it again, and wanted to explain.

         “Got it,” Jiang Cheng interrupted him and patted him on the shoulder. “I know what you mean.”

         “I have one more thing to say.” Pan Zhi said.

         “So resilient,” Jiang Cheng sighed. “Fine, shoot.”

         “We’re bros,” Pan Zhi said. “Always will be, don’t you forget about me.”

         “I won’t,” Jiang Cheng looked at him. “You’ll always be my grandson.”

         “After some thought, I’ve decided to take back what I just said.” Pan Zhi said.

         Jiang Cheng started laughing, “Dumbass.”

         Pan Zhi didn’t have any objections to being set up on the couch with a rolled up towel as a pillow, when there was clearly a double bed available. This was an important reason why Jiang Cheng was so close with him. Pan Zhi was oblivious and lazy. When it came to these kinds of things, he wouldn’t even think to inquire further, nor could he be bothered to.

         Jiang Cheng didn’t close the bedroom door. After they both lay down, they chatted from their respective sleeping arrangements for another half an hour while he continued to message Gu Fei.

         The main topic of discussion was the classmate Li Yuqing, who had written four whole love letters to Pan Zhi within the span of a month.

         “Are you going to agree?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “Not yet, we’re just hanging out as normal friends first.” Pan Zhi said. “I don’t like that mushroom head of hers, I’ll consider it again after it grows longer.”

        “What, you’re just going by hairstyle?” Jiang Cheng laughed.

         “Not just hairstyle,” Pan Zhi said seriously. “I’m also looking at the face and figure. At our age, we’ve got to be this shallow. She’s pretty much looking at my face too, we’re all the same.”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t answer, he thought about Gu Fei.

         To be honest, the thing about Gu Fei that attracted him at first glance was also his face…… and legs.

         After prattling on some more, Pan Zhi suddenly went quiet, Jiang Cheng figured he fell asleep. He put down his phone and pulled out Lao-Yuan’s letter from his jacket nearby.

         Hello, my dear student Jiang Cheng.

         He almost laughed out loud at the first sentence.

         It has been almost half a year since our parting, this teacher does miss you dearly.

         He ended up laughing out loud at the second sentence anyway.

         He had to compose himself, then proceeded to read the rest of the letter. 

         This letter from Lao-Yuan wasn’t a long one, the main content of which were consolation and encouragement, not unlike his usual tone. But for some reason halfway through the letter, Jiang Cheng suddenly felt like crying.

         “Gold will shine no matter what” is a fairly useless saying, but gold really is very shiny, so half of this saying does apply to you at this time, don’t bury yourself away……

         You’ve got to improve your temper, and learn to control it. On this point, I think a change of scenery is actually a good thing for you, at least your temper will not be completely uninhibited, the foreignness of your surroundings will allow you to learn how to hold back and control yourself……

         Pan Zhi showed me the tests you finished, it seems that you have not regressed so far, this is a pleasant surprise. It tells me that you possess extraordinary adaptability and self-discipline (my choice of the word “extraordinary” might be going a little heavy on the praise), and are indeed a chunk of gold……

         Do not harbour the thought that you have been somehow abandoned, it’s only when you abandon yourself, that you are really lost. As long as you hold on and not let go, then nothing will have changed……

         The letter was signed “Always your head teacher, Lao-Yuan”.

         Smiling, Jiang Cheng folded the letter up and put it back into the envelope, then placed it under his pillow, and closed his eyes.

         The next morning, Jiang Cheng was woken up by the sound of Pan Zhi talking on the phone. He glanced at the time on his own phone, it wasn’t yet 9 AM, a little far from the agreed upon ten o’clock.

         “Down the stairs and to the right?” Pan Zhi said in the living room. “That’s the direction of your store, right?”

         Jiang Cheng was still a little hazy from sleep, but when he heard this he woke up completely. This is a call with Gu Fei?

         “Ah I got it now,” Pan Zhi said. “Why don’t you come by and eat with us? Jiang Cheng’s still not up yet…… I don’t dare go wake him up, this guy’s morning temper is enough to kill a person, I experienced it once before and never want to try it again……”

         Gu Fei said something on the other end, and Pan Zhi started laughing in delight, then continued on with the conversation.

         Jiang Cheng lay on the bed and listened for a while, then got up. All else aside, Pan Zhi’s ability to chat up just about anyone was simply unparalleled, there was no other person on this earth who could compare.

         “Huh? He’s up,” Pan Zhi looked up and noticed him. “Oh…… alright. Cheng-er, Gu Fei wants to talk to you.”

         Jiang Cheng accepted the phone Pan Zhi handed him, and walked into the bathroom, “Hello?”

         “This bro of yours sure talks a lot,” Gu Fei opened with this exclamation. “I didn’t even know how to end the conversation……”

         “Did you call him?” Jiang Cheng chuckled. “He’s not usually that talkative either, must be the excitement from coming out on a trip.”

         “He probably woke up too early and got bored, so he asked me if I’m up yet, and where to eat breakfast. Then he got confused, so he asked for my number and gave me a call.” Gu Fei said. “Then we ended up talking for almost 20 minutes.”

         “Hold off on your breakfast,” Jiang Cheng laughed and said. “We’ll head over in a bit and eat together.”

         “Mmn.” Gu Fei answered.

         The ones who stayed at the hotel must’ve stayed up all night talking. The three of them finished their breakfast, then waited another 20 minutes at the breakfast stall before the others eventually showed up, yawning the whole way.

         “Ah, smells so good,” Xu Meng said. “I was fine before, but now that I smelled this I’m so hungry.”

         “Hurry up and eat, then we’ll head out.” Pan Zhi said. “If we get there later it’s going to be more crowded, then we’ll have to line up.”

         The others all sat down at the table. When Xu Meng seated herself beside Gu Fei, Jiang Cheng suddenly regretted sitting between Gu Fei and Pan Zhi.

         “It’s pretty chilly here in the morning.” Xu Meng tried to make small talk with Gu Fei.

         “It’s already May.” Gu Fei said.

         Xu Meng covered her mouth and smiled, a little embarrassed.

         Gu Fei took out his phone and started playing with it.

         When finally they all finished eating and got ready to go, Gu Fei was the first to stand up, forgetting for a moment about his limp. It took Jiang Cheng poking him on the leg for him to remember to reach out and support himself on a tree trunk nearby.

         There weren’t many taxis around at this hour. When finally they managed to gather two rides, Gu Fei dashed into the car with the speed of an old man fighting for a seat on the bus, and sat himself in the front passenger seat.

         Jiang Cheng held back his laughter and got into the back, with Pan Zhi and Li Yuqing beside him. Xu Meng, Hu Feng, and Li Song rode together in the second car.

         As soon as the taxi started moving, Li Yuqing laughed and said, “Did Mengmeng scare you, Gu Fei?”

         “Nah.” After telling the driver where to go, Gu Fei put his head down and continued to play with his phone.

         “She’s alright, a little dorky, but really cute.” Li Yuqing chuckled.

         “Mhm.” Gu Fei answered.

         “You’re not interested in her at all then?” Li Yuqing asked again.

         “Why don’t you go get a prosthetic mole.” Pan Zhi chimed in.

         “What?” Li Yuqing looked at Pan Zhi.

         “Right here,” Pan Zhi pointed at the corner of his own mouth. “Put one right here.”

         Li Yuqing was confused for a long while before she connected the dots, “Hey what’s wrong with you! Who are you calling a matchmaker!” [3]

         They all started laughing, even the driver joined in for a while.

         Jiang Cheng turned to look outside the window. When Li Yuqing was busy trying to sell Xu Meng, he didn’t feel jealous, but rather a little nervous.

         He was very conflicted.

         On one hand he was afraid of what Gu Fei might say if they pushed him hard enough.

         Even though there was no way Gu Fei would say that he had a boyfriend, he didn’t want to hear Gu Fei say he had a girlfriend either…… But on the other hand, not saying anything also made him feel unhappy. 

         “She’s not my type,” Gu Fei said as he played with his phone. “Really, far far from it.”

         “Ah? Really?” Li Yuqing sighed, then after a second of consideration, said quietly. “Sorry about that.”

         “It’s alright.” Gu Fei turned and gave her a smile.

         His gaze swept over Jiang Cheng as he turned his head back.

         The corner of Jiang Cheng’s mouth turned up a little. Pan Zhi was sitting right beside him; with a solid bestie here who understood him so well, he didn’t dare make any overt gesture.

         Even though Pan Zhi knew about him. He never really had anything with another guy before, and he didn’t plan to tell Pan Zhi right now. 

         Gu Fei’s reply settled his mind. But there was still a creeping feeling he couldn’t quite describe, he was afraid that Gu Fei could sense that bit of fear in his heart.

         He was the one who took the first step, he was also the one who took the second step, each step of the way was made by him. But he was also the scared one, the one who jumped at the slightest sign of anything.

         He suddenly remembered the question Gu Fei had asked him earlier. Did you want to date me, or did you want to go on a date with me?

         He furrowed his brows. The brain that was stricken by the word “boyfriend” was only now realizing that he hadn’t at all considered the intention behind Gu Fei’s question.


Footnotes:

[1] “-er” is a suffix sometimes added to one’s first name, it is a diminutive suffix, kind of like “kun” in Japanese. It’s also often used by people who want to demonstrate an intimacy to the other person, but northerners like to attach it to the end of pretty much every noun/proper noun XD

And since we are in the northeast, the pronunciation of “Cheng-er” probably sounds much more like a slightly nasally “Char!”

[2] Ah, as mentioned previously, the Xu [旭] of Wang Xu breaks down to Jiuri [九日] which either means 9 suns, 9 days, or 9 fucks.

[3] A mole beside the mouth is the stereotypical imagery of a busy-bodied matchmaker

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5938
  • TL word count: 4116
  • TL time: 3:56:04
  • Edit: 0:44:01
  • Curse words: 6x fucks, 3x ass

TL’s Notes

Tbh, if i receive words like that from an esteemed teacher i would cry too. Also… uh… oof.