The internet really does corrupt your mind after all!


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

         The May 1st holidays were way too short, in reality it was only a day longer than a normal weekend. By the time the students went back to school, it didn’t even feel like they had a holiday.

         Furthermore, Lao-Xu had been standing at the lectern hammering in the focus points of the upcoming final exams for four consecutive days. Also emphasized repeatedly, was the university entrance exam they had to face only a year after these finals.

         Jiang Cheng slouched down on the desk with his chin on a notebook, his eyes were half closed as he listened to Lao-Xu ramble on with utmost sincerity up on the lectern, while the hum of conversations continued on around him.

         Keeping with the atmosphere of the Fourth High, he figured the whole classroom of people probably only took one thing away from Lao-Xu’s reminders of the finals and university entrance exams, and that was the Summer break between the two events.

         Despite the fact that high school seniors had to begin their school year early, even with only half a Summer break, it was still much better than the three day holiday they just had. The people around him already started to discuss their plans well in advance.

         “What do you usually do in the Summer?” Jiang Cheng tilted his head and asked Gu Fei, who was currently looking down and playing with his phone.

         “Work part-time jobs, sit in the store and listen to Li Yan and the guys yak about stuff, eat out once in a while,” Gu Fei said. “And spend time with Er-Miao. There’s time in the Summer to take her for systematic rehabilitation exercises.”

         “…… Oh.” Jiang Cheng paused, it seemed like a rather boring and tiresome Summer break just from the sound of it.

         “Do you want to work some part-time jobs together?” Gu Fei said quietly. “Ding Zhuxin has work, it’ll be for herself but also her friends.”

         Jiang Cheng never thought the term “part-time job” would one day appear in his Summer break plans. But the daily costs of living: the rent, the water bill, the hydro bill, the phone bill, next year’s tuition, as well as any costs for his unknown future, all of it combined made him feel like the bank card in his possession didn’t offer him much assurance.

         It wasn’t until this moment that he realized how naive it was to imagine all the ways he would relax this Summer, or at most get through some more question banks. He contemplated for a while, “Will you be there?”

         “Mhm,” Gu Fei answered. “I wouldn’t ask you if I wasn’t going too.”

         “Do you usually shoot models and stuff?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “Not always, I take other work too, commercial products and such, it’s actually easier when there’s no human models involved.” Gu Fei smiled. “And if I have time I would take some pictures for freelance submission, but I haven’t had a chance to submit anything this year.”

         “Shit,” Jiang Cheng said quietly. “Wherefore art thou so impressive? Where did you submit to in the past?”

         “Just some magazines, photography ones and some travel ones,” Gu Fei put his phone down. “It’s not a lot of money or anything, but it gives me leverage when discussing rates for other jobs.”

         “Mmn.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

         Gu Fei didn’t pay any attention at all to his studies, and seemed never to think about his academic future either, but he was certainly impressive when he focused his attention in other areas.

         Perhaps in the future, Gu Fei wouldn’t need the reinforcement of grades or a school to sustain himself.

         But on the other hand, perhaps Jiang Cheng was already used to measuring himself by these standards, so he couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about how nonchalant Gu Fei was.

         After Pan Zhi went back, he quickly sifted through all the photos he took during their recent trip, and made quite a few Friends Circle posts. He even went so far as to pack up a zip file and send it to Jiang Cheng separately.

         “You know what I realize,” Jiang Cheng said as he scrolled through the photos. “Pan Zhi really is a great creator of original meme packs.”

         “Mhm,” Gu Fei leaned over and looked for a while with him. “Even your face can’t rival his skills.”

         “Am I supposed to flatter you back?” Jiang Cheng said.

         “No need,” Gu Fei said. “I know how handsome I am.”

         “Shit,” Jiang Cheng peered sideways at him. “Do your fangirls know what a narcissist you are?”

         “I’m well hidden,” Gu Fei chuckled. “But I know what a narcissist you are.”

         “Go away.” Jiang Cheng said.

         Before class ended he went and visited Lao-Xu’s office, bringing all the test papers he had finished over the last few days.

         Lao-Xu looked at the papers with a pleased look on his face, “I’ll go find some other teachers to grade these for you right away, don’t lose this momentum, you gotta keep adding oil for the final exams.”

         “Mmn.” Jiang Cheng answered.

         Gu Fei’s ‘injured’ leg was much better by then, he only needed a little help to stand up, before being able to slowly walk along by himself, no longer needing a support person to hold his arm while he hopped. ‘Doctor’ Gu’s idea was it will be another week or so before he could take off the splint.

         When they walked out of the school gates together, Jiang Cheng noticed Gu Miao, who he hadn’t seen for almost a week.

         …… And the doll hanging off of Gu Miao’s back pocket.

         “That……” Jiang Cheng was baffled for a moment, then walked over and bent down to get a closer look. The doll wasn’t big, but it was definitely out of the size range of even the largest bag charm. Yet here it was, with a cord around its neck, hanging from the buttonhole of Gu Miao’s back pocket.

         The visual impact was hard to describe in so few words.

         “She requested this herself,” Gu Fei said. “It took me two days to teach her how to tie the cord.”

         “It takes her two days just to learn how to tie a cord?” Jiang Cheng knew that Gu Miao struggled even with addition and subtraction, but he figured maybe she wasn’t good at mental calculation, that perhaps she was better at working with her hands, since she was all too fabulous on the skateboard.

         “Mhm,” Gu Fei looked at Gu Miao. “Sometimes when I think about it I just feel like…… it’s so tiring, she doesn’t get it no matter how I try to teach her.”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t answer, just went and walked their bikes out of the shed with Gu Fei. As soon as he got on and started riding, Gu Miao swiftly caught up to them on her skateboard.

         The endlessly cool moves, the expression that seemed to look down on the whole of the mortal world, the wild and unruly hairstyle……

         “Weren’t you gonna have Li Yan give her a haircut? How long are you going to hold on to that 50 bucks you swindled from me?” Jiang Cheng glanced over at Gu Fei, who was slowly pedaling along with one leg.

         “I’ll call him over right now,” Gu Fei took out his phone. “Will you come eat at the store? Keep me company for a bit.”

         “Mmn.” Jiang Cheng answered.

         They didn’t get to have much time together after the May 1st holiday. Since school started, Gu Fei’s mom had been squatting in the store for days on end, as if preoccupied with something, so Gu Fei had to be with Gu Miao as well as keep an eye on his own mother……

         “Your mom is alright?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “Who the hell knows,” Gu Fei sent a message to Li Yan. “Probably got together with some guy again, I don’t know.”

         “But why…… is she like this?” Jiang Cheng sighed.

         “Whenever I tell her to go see a therapist, she would freak out at me.” Gu Fei said. “I don’t even bother anymore, but if she dares to bring them home, I’ll beat up every single one I see.”

         “…… Like the one from last time?” Jiang Cheng said.

         “Mhm.” Gu Fei quirked a smile.

         “Maybe don’t go blindly beating them up, what if next time it’s a good guy.” Jiang Cheng recalled the scene when the man got thrown against a tree, and felt like he could feel the pain dimly all over his own body, from his nose to his ribs to his buttcheeks.

         “The way she’s holding on to her sweetly naive and imaginative teenage heart, if she’s able to find a good guy in this place I’ll go streaking on the street.” Gu Fei said.

         Jiang Cheng glanced at him, laughed for a while, then after a moment sighed again.

         The master stylist Li who was also the master chef Li showed up with a bag of produce, but he froze immediately upon entering the store and seeing Gu Miao and the doll hanging off her back pocket, “Are we making a horror movie here?”

         “What horror movie?” Gu Fei was sitting behind the cash register checking inventory.

         “Little Sister and the Doll On Her Back.” Jiang Cheng and Li Yan both said at the same time. [1]

         “Er-Miao,” Gu Fei called out to Gu Miao. “Come and kick Li Yan gege out.”

         Gu Miao came in on her skateboard and rolled straight toward Li Yan’s leg. Li Yan pointed at Gu Fei while backing away toward the door, “Do you know what I really want to say about you at this very moment?”

         “That I prioritize lust over friendship?” Gu Fei said.

         “What kind of impact does that have,” Li Yan said. “How about that you’re tossing me away after you’re tired of playing with me!”

         “Keep yelling,” Gu Fei pointed to the street outside. “Yell a little louder, if any less than ten people hear you I’ll let you break my legs.”

         “Gu Er-Miao!” Li Yan yelled out when he’d retreated to the doorway. “What happened to the bond we had over the years!”

         “Li Yan……” Jiang Cheng hesitated for a second, then walked to the counter and said quietly. “Knows?”

         “Not sure, I didn’t tell him,” Gu Fei gave him a look. “But he probably figured it out just from observation, we don’t usually talk about this…… Do you want me to tell them?”

         “No, it’s OK,” Jiang Cheng shook his head. “It’s weird if it’s too intentional.”

         Even though Gu Fei, Li Yan, and the other guys didn’t hang out together all the time, he could tell that the solid bond between them wasn’t established in mere days. Which was why Jiang Cheng didn’t want Gu Fei to explain anything on purpose. It would make anyone sick just to consider how something like this might destroy the usual dynamic of a friend group.

         Li Yan came back in with the bag of produce after a while of bouncing around with Gu Miao outside, “It’s only the four of us, so I’ll just whip something up quickly?”

         “Sure.” Gu Fei nodded.

         Li Yan certainly didn’t look like someone who can cook, but every time food was being made here in Gu Fei’s store, if Li Yan was here, he would always be the one to cook, even though the taste was fairly unremarkable.

         However, his strength was that he was fast. Jiang Cheng pulled out one of the texts Pan Zhi shipped to him last time to read, but after only a few pages, the plates of food were already on the table.

         “Hurry up and eat,” Li Yan sat down. “I’ll do Er-Miao’s hair after this, I got plans tonight.”

         “What plans?” Gu Fei also sat down at the table.

         “Fun plans.” Li Yan said.

         “You haven’t gone home this whole time, have you.” Gu Fei asked.

         “Go home for what.” Li Yan frowned.

         Jiang Cheng picked up a bowl and ate quietly on the side. Gu Fei had mentioned to him about Li Yan not wanting to go home, at the time he rejoiced in the fact that he didn’t have anyone to boss him around anymore. 

         No matter what, at least he wouldn’t be having a big fight with his family over something such as this.

         Even though he still felt bummed out every time he thought about Li Baoguo.

         Li Baoguo hadn’t contacted him for such a long time, that he didn’t know whether to feel anxious or relieved, he wondered what other changes lay waiting for him up ahead.

         Gu Miao was very good throughout the entire hair cutting process. She sat by the counter unmoving, with a cloth wrapped around her neck, patiently letting Li Yan snip away at her hair. 

         “Why don’t you give her a style that’ll look good as it grows out,” Jiang Cheng leaned back in the chair with a book, reading as he glanced at Gu Miao. “She’s a little girl after all.”

         “That’s what I’ve been thinking,” Li Yan sighed. “But no can do, once the hair grows longer she’ll start chewing it off, not to mention she’ll get mad if it takes too long to wash it.”

         “Let her wear wigs in the future.” Gu Fei said.

         “Aren’t you afraid that she’ll chomp up the whole wig.” Li Yan said.

         “Who knows, maybe she’ll develop some new problem in the future, and stop chewing on hair.” Gu Fei raised his arms up in a stretch, and reached out a leg to give Gu Miao’s foot a little kick. “Right?”

         Gu Miao looked at him with a completely blank expression.

         “You got any new problems that you haven’t shown big brother yet?” Gu Fei gave her foot another little kick.

         Gu Miao continued to show absolutely no expression.

         “Hurry and grow up,” Gu Fei leaned forward with his elbows on his knees, and looked at her. “Quit making me worry, alright?”

         Li Yan gave Gu Miao a very adorable round bob that cut off just below her ears. It even made Gu Miao’s perpetually cool expression look much cuter.

         “And your hair?” Li Yan threw a glance at Gu Fei as he started cleaning up.

         “Hm?” Gu Fei quickly shifted his eyes in Jiang Cheng’s direction. “Nah not today, when it gets warmer I’ll just shave the whole thing off.”

         “Shave it off?” Li Yan paused for a moment, then started laughing after a while. “Alright, understood.”

         Jiang Cheng was spacing out about whether Gu Fei’s beauty was enough to prop up a bald look, when Li Yan turned to him and asked, “Do you want a haircut?”

         “Oh no no,” Jiang Cheng instinctively leaned backward. “I……”

         “Mhm, got it,” Li Yan laughed again. “Are you waiting to shave your head bald too?”

         “No!” Jiang Cheng gave a firm negative.

         “I’m leaving,” Li Yan collected his tools into a box, then kicked it under the cash register. “There’s something I promised Liu Fan I wouldn’t tell you, but then on second thought I figured I should say something.”

         “Hm?” Gu Fei looked at him.

         “Dude’s in the hospital,” Li Yan said. “He said……”

         “What?” Gu Fei got up immediately. “He’s hurt?”

         “No,” Li Yan cleared his throat. “It’s uh, hemorrhoids, the surgery is tomorrow. I was the one who drove him to the hospital the day before yesterday, but he wouldn’t let me tell anyone, didn’t want any visits either, but you see I figured……”

         “We should go anyway.” Gu Fei sighed his relief and sat back down. “Nobody should miss such an hilarious occasion.”

         “Right,” Li Yan nodded. “So you’ll notify Luo Yu and the others? Let’s go visit him tomorrow, I ordered a giant fruit basket.”

         “Alright.” Gu Fei laughed.

         After Li Yan left, Jiang Cheng glanced at Gu Fei, “You people are brutal.”

         “Uh huh,” Gu Fei started laughing. “These guys are so bored, they love these kinds of shenanigans. Will you tag along tomorrow? Take a tour of Liu Fan’s butt together.”

         “…… I don’t think hemorrhoid surgery necessarily requires that you stay butt naked the whole time after,” Jiang Cheng thought about it and laughed as well. “But if I look at your butt……”

         He quickly stopped himself before finishing the sentence. Gu Miao was still nearby, concentrating all her energy on grabbing at her newly shortened hair.

         “Er-Miao,” Gu Fei took her hand. “Your new hairstyle looks very good.”

         Gu Miao didn’t react. As soon as he let go, she immediately started grabbing at her hair again. Gu Fei sighed, reached out a hand to cover hers, and grabbed once along with her, then left her alone.

         “Won’t she pull her hair out?” Jiang Cheng was a little worried.

         “I just tried her grip, she’s not pulling hard, just not used to the shortness, she’ll be fine after a while.” Gu Fei said.

         “…… Oh,” Jiang Cheng watched Gu Miao, then after a long time sighed as well. “I didn’t know she’d be like this after a haircut, otherwise I wouldn’t pester you about cutting her hair.”

         “Have to do it eventually, if it gets longer she’ll even chew on it,” Gu Fei gave a little smile. “And anyways, it’s not like this every time.”

         Jiang Cheng was somewhat glum, as he looked down at the book in his hands, “I don’t even know her as well as Li Yan.”

         “Li Yan and I pretty much grew up together,” Gu Fei said. “He watched Er-Miao grow up, nothing strange about that. Plus if you’re gonna think that way, Li Yan should be the grumpy one. All these years and Er-Miao hardly ever responds to him, but she’s close with you.”

         Jiang Cheng chuckled. That’s right.

         Although…… When he finished laughing he still felt a little cross, “But I also didn’t know that you like drinking tea?”

         “Hm?” Gu Fei was suddenly confused.

         “Even Lao-Xu knows that you drink tea,” Jiang Cheng tsked once. “You even took Lao-Xu for tea, aiyoo how cultured of you, young man.”

         Gu Fei blanked, then burst out laughing, “Hey……”

         “Hey what hey?” Jiang Cheng said. “I’m just a little glum, I don’t know anything, right now I don’t even know what you like to eat.”

         “The places I took you to are all my favourite foods,” Gu Fei shifted closer to his side, and squeezed against him with his hand on Jiang Cheng’s back. “And that tea place, Lao-Xu’s the only one who knows about it, but I don’t go often either. If you want, we’ll go there right now.”

         “It’s not that,” Jiang Cheng felt he was being very childish. “I just want to express the woe of having missed the first seventeen years of your life.”

         “It’s a good thing you missed those years,” Gu Fei looked at him. “Honestly I can tell you anything you want to know, but I don’t wish for you to see it for yourself, if we came along that way, there’s absolutely no way we’d be together. Not to mention, if you really grew up around here for seventeen years, I probably wouldn’t even spare you a second glance, no matter how handsome you are.”

         “Get out.” Jiang Cheng quirked a smile.

         That’s right. If he really grew up here, in the Steel Works, in Li Baoguo’s home……

         “And I didn’t even mention how sad I was,” Gu Fei reached out a hand in front of Gu Miao, who was slumped over with her forehead almost touching the table writing her ‘homework’, and nudged it back up. “Following behind those old classmates of yours, listening to you talk about the things you did together back then. Who should I be crying to.”

         “Geez,” Jiang Cheng looked at him. “My past could not be simpler, just going to class, skipping class, fighting people for the grade’s top three spots……”

         “Didn’t you also have a girlfriend.” Gu Fei said.

         “That wasn’t a girlfriend,” Jiang Cheng considered for a moment. “Just, I don’t know how to explain, it was like I just wanted to join the party. The people around us were cheering it on, she started bringing me breakfast, and sometimes we’d call each other or send a few messages back and forth. And then it was just her getting mad, I comfort her, her getting mad, I comfort, her getting mad again, I comfort……”

         “Oii,” Gu Fei was a little surprised. “You would even comfort people?”

         “While holding in my irritation, what else am I supposed to do, she’s a girl. Anyways it was just annoying,” Jiang Cheng frowned. “I was like a dumbass, didn’t do shit, just spent all my time consoling her.”

         “Didn’t do anything?” Gu Fei smirked.

         “Mhm,” Jiang Cheng shot him a look. “Never even held hands.”

         “So innocent,” Gu Fei glanced toward Gu Miao’s direction, then leaned in and said quietly beside Jiang Cheng’s ear. “How come you’re not at all innocent now.”

         “Fuck,” Jiang Cheng leaned in close to his ear and also lowered his voice. “Am I not innocent now? I’m as handsome and innocent as ever.”

         “Yes, right,” Gu Fei continued to whisper. “As innocent as me.”

         “Hey,” Jiang Cheng glared at him. “Can you pull your thick-skinned face back a little, it’s squishing me!”

         Gu Fei burst out laughing, and looked at Jiang Cheng as he couldn’t seem to stop.

         “What the hell are you laughing about,” Jiang Cheng sighed, and kept his voice low with some effort. “It was just a few handies, don’t laugh like we actually did something.”

         “Do the handies not count as having done something?” Gu Fei continued laughing and said. “Then what do we have to do for it to count for something?”

         Gu Fei probably didn’t run these words through his brain first, and as the words landed, both of them descended into a tension-filled state that was all at once sheepish, awkward, and as though they wanted to blush but were too embarrassed to even blush.

         Jiang Cheng thought his reaction would be countless shameless dirty pictures passing in front of his eyes, which obviously included images of Gu Fei’s shameless butt.

         He didn’t expect the first thoughts that jumped out to be so out of the box.

         > We’re not even 18 yet.

         > Minors Protection Law.

         > How to view the phenomenon of premarital sexual interactions.

         …… What in all hell is this?!

         By the time he stopped spacing out, Gu Fei was already bent over correcting Gu Miao’s nose-to-paper writing posture. He stared at Gu Fei’s back.

         It was only in this moment that all sorts of indescribable scenes erupted in his mind.

         Fuck!

         He felt like he could set Gu Fei’s clothes on fire with the power of his mind alone.

         Fuck!

         He didn’t realize he’d unwittingly consumed so many dirty little videos!

         Fuck!

         The internet really does corrupt your mind after all!


Footnotes:

[1] A children’s song that was remade by the internet into a horror song with a backstory. No tl on this but full creepy warning for those who click.

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5621
  • TL word count: 3830
  • TL time: 4:14:10
  • Edit: 0:39:41
  • Curse words: 4x fucks, 3x shits

TL’s Notes

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