“A round of applause please! Clap, clap, clap! Come on!

Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

  Gu Fei lifted an eyebrow, took off his earphones, and turned to look at Jiang Cheng.

  The kid really was covered in thorns, and it would seem that this outer layer did not become any more restrained in a completely unfamiliar new environment.

  Gu Fei watched with great interest at Zhou Jing in front of him, who was still in a state of shock, with his mouth agape. If Gu Fei hadn’t already finished eating his eggs, he would very much want to stuff one into Zhou Jing’s mouth right now.

  Jiang Cheng certainly picked a good target for his kick, as Zhou Jing was an easily pushed over annoying kid with no temper. If instead it was…… Gu Fei swept a glance to his right, then they would be fighting right about now.

  ”What’s wrong? What’s going on?” Lao-Xu slapped the lectern. “We’re holding a lecture here, Gu Fei, what are you doing?”

  Gu Fei froze, pointed his finger at himself and mouthed, “Me?”

  ”Who else!” Lao-Xu said. “You must be feeling bored now that you finished your breakfast, huh!”

  Several desks around them all laughed, Gu Fei couldn’t help but laugh as well, then turned to look at Jiang Cheng.

  ”What are you looking at him for,” Lao-Xu pointed at him. “The guy’s grades are eight hundred and seventy-four whole blocks ahead of all of you!”

  ”Yo——” A round of shouts rang out in the class.

  ”Ah honour——student——”

  ”Lao-Xu finally found someone to focus his training on huh——”

  Gu Fei sighed, Lao-Xu’s IQ was like a trainee teacher with a pure heart who had never taught a bad class before. With this one sentence, he had set a three-foot-high barrier for Jiang Cheng to integrate into his new class.

  Jiang Cheng looked at Lao-Xu and seriously considered whether this man was an undercover agent sent by his mom to torture him.

  While he wasn’t afraid of any sort of provocation, nor did he make an effort to suppress his temper since he walked into the classroom, still, he would rather not be praised for his grades by the head teacher of a class that could only be described as rowdy.

  The title of “overachiever” was practically a mockery.

  ”Alright,” Lao-Xu cleared his throat. “Let’s continue……we were just talking about……”

  Jiang Cheng had not been listening to what Lao-Xu was saying up there, and now he gave even less of a damn. He slumped over the desk and pulled out his phone.

  In his old school, he had to sneak around like a thief every time he wanted to use his phone in class: ringer off, volume on mute, then after he plugged in the headphones the cable had to be snaked through his sleeve and held to his ear with his hand as cover.

  The head teacher’s drawer had been akin to a second-hand sidewalk stall, filled with piles of confiscated cell phones.

  But Fourth High was different. Jiang Cheng shot a glance at Gu Fei, who had already set his phone on the desk, and even propped it up with a kick-stand. He was very clearly wearing earphones while leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed, watching a video.

  Jiang Cheng flopped on his desk. Up on the lectern, Lao-Xu droned on like a monk chanting scriptures, even the low frequency chatter around him sounded like chanting. Amidst this noise, Jiang Cheng drifted in and out of consciousness for over half the class, then when he could not suffer the boredom anymore, took out his phone to send Pan Zhi a message.

    - grandson.

  Pan Zhi quickly messaged back.

    - Gramps, what class are you in, got time?

    - Language arts, you?

    - English, the old donkey gave us a pop quiz, killed me dead

    - Not like it’s a formal exam, what’s the big deal

    - I didn’t know a single question, but the old donkey said he wants to get a feel for our foundation, I feel like he’s plotting something!

  Pan Zhi had sent a photo along with this message. Jiang Cheng looked at it and sighed. It was a page of multiple-choice questions, taken from a very tricky angle. He could tell right away that Pan Zhi had taken it while running the risk of not seeing his phone again before the summer break.

  He glanced at the time and zoomed in on the picture, then grabbed a pencil and started quickly writing the answers on a notebook as he read through the questions. Not two questions later, Pan Zhi sent another three photos in a row. Jiang Cheng peered at it, a little speechless. The little dude must’ve sent him all the questions on the quiz.

    - Wait

  He sent a reply back to Pan Zhi, then continued to read through the questions.

  Frankly these weren’t very difficult at all, he could almost guess at all the answers. He wondered why Pan Zhi couldn’t make sense of a single one.

  The classroom was still very noisy, Jiang Cheng admired Lao-Xu’s tolerance, perhaps teachers who are used to teaching bad classes all have a strong tolerance.

  He remembered the chemistry teacher they had in the freshman year of high school. Her lectures weren’t very captivating, so people liked to chat in her class, the volume of which was nothing compared to the noise in his ears at the moment, but it still angered her to tears. If she was transferred here, she would surely cry herself into a transparent glass flower.

  Look at how powerful Lao-Xu is.

  Jiang Cheng continued scribbling down the answers, while he lifted his eyes to look at the teacher. Whether they were sleeping or chatting, as long as nobody got up to dance, Lao-Xu wouldn’t even bother to pause.

  Tsk tsk tsk.

  Pan Zhi only sent him the multiple choice questions, which Jiang Cheng finished in very little time. He glanced at the clock as he typed the answers into the chat box, it was still a few minutes until the end of class, enough for him to copy everything down.

  As for the other questions…… Pan Zhi had never bothered to write them, and sometimes he was too lazy to even copy.

  After sending the message, Jiang Cheng tapped open his Friend Circle in boredom, and started slowly scrolling down. He saw that Jiang Yijun—his dear little brother—had posted a selfie yesterday. It looked like the whole family was out eating together: in the background was his mom and dad, a happy family of three. He felt a tightness in his chest, and suddenly felt an uncanny wave of nausea.

  He muted the whole family of three, then put the phone back in his pocket.

  Just as he was about to look up, something fell on his head, and before he could figure out what was going on, he felt more things land on his head. The feeling was like someone pelting him with a handful of rocks.

  Next, he saw a pile of white dust, and caught a whiff of a plaster dust.

  ”The fuck?” He looked up in surprise.

  A large slab of greyish white plaster lay on his desk, with more pieces of various sizes scattered all over the surface.

  Jiang Cheng couldn’t bother with anything else, his first reaction was to dust off his head, then he glanced toward Gu Fei’s head next to him.

  Gu Fei’s cell phone was still on the desk, whatever was playing on the screen was no longer visible, as it was also covered with a layer of dust. Gu Fei was still in the same pose as before, unmoving, with his arms crossed.

  Only, he looked a little more pissed off.

  Jiang Cheng looked up at the ceiling, the section of plaster above their heads had fallen away—it was probably all over their heads and desks at the moment—revealing strips of wooden beam within…… 

  This certainly is an ancient building huh.

  When Jiang Cheng returned his gaze to the desk, he noticed a small black rock at the corner of the desk that wouldn’t have been part of the ceiling.

  The bell rang right on time, and Lao-Xu closed his book, “Alright, class over…… Ah, did the plaster come off again? Who’s on janitorial duty today? Get it cleaned up.”

  As soon as Lao-Xu walked out, the class erupted into chaos, everyone turned to stare at the last row.

  It was in this instant that Jiang Cheng made the judgment. That little rock, Gu Fei’s darkened expression, and the people who stood up as soon as the bell rang to look this way with “the show’s about to start” written all over their faces…… The ceiling might drop plaster from time to time, but today, it definitely didn’t fall on its own.

  He sat still, pulled some tissues out of his pocket, and slowly swept the dust from the desk to the ground.

  In a situation like this when he had no clear target, it was pretty easy for him to keep his temper under control.

  Gu Fei stood up with a push of the desk, took off his jacket and shook it a few times, then lifted his eyes to look at Wang Xu.

  ”Da-Fei, apologies,” Wang Xu already got up and walked over, slinging an arm around Gu Fei’s shoulders while dusting off his jacket. “C’mon, we’ll go to the stand, I’ll buy you a drink.”

  Gu Fei flung off his arm, put his jacket on, and walked out through the back door.

  Wang Xu quickly followed, walking side by side with him as he descended the stairs, “Hey, Da-Fei, that really was friendly fire.”

  ”Mhm.” Gu Fei responded, he didn’t want to waste time talking to Wang Xu, the head of dust made him very unhappy, some of it even got into his eyes.

  ”I just wanted to give that kid a warning,” Wang Xu said. “A transfer student, acting so fucking arrogant on the first day of class, if nobody teaches him a lesson he wouldn’t know that different places have different rules!”

  Gu Fei did not say anything, he turned left after reaching the ground floor.

  ”Hey, the concession stand,” Wang Xu said. “Where are you going?”

  ”To pee.” Gu Fei said.

  ”You go to the teachers’ side to pee? It’s so far.” Wang Xu said.

  ”Less people.” Gu Fei said.

  ”All that trouble just to pee…… I’ll bring a bottle of milk tea for you then,” Wang Xu said. “Is Assam okay?”

  ”Drink it yourself.” Gu Fei turned his head slightly and said.

  ”Assam it is!” Wang Xu said.

  Gu Fei sighed.

  The washroom on this side of the field was close to the teachers’ offices, and normally students didn’t like to come over. In fact, not many teachers came here either, since there were washrooms in the office building. It was a rare peaceful spot.

  Gu Fei pulled a cigarette out of his pocket, and lit it up as he walked inside. He only managed to get one drag in, when a door opened on a nearby stall, and Lao-Xu walked out.

  ”Xu-zong.” Gu Fei mumbled around the cigarette in his mouth.

  ”What’s your problem, you had to come have a smoke in the teacher’s washroom?!” Lao-Xu pointed at him and said in a hushed voice. “You showing off your power or something? And to whom?”

  ”What kind of power is it to smoke a cigarette,” Gu Fei laughed and stepped in front of a urinal. “I showed off to you, are you afraid of me?”

  ”I don’t even know what to say to you,” Lao-Xu walked over and pointed at his cigarette. “Put it out!”

  Gu Fei sighed and flicked the cigarette backward into the squatting hole behind him, then looked at Lao-Xu as he held onto his pants zipper, “I’m going to pee now.”

  Lao-Xu sighed, then turned around to walk out.

  Gu Fei pulled down his zipper and was just about to pee, when Lao-Xu suddenly stopped again and said, “That Jiang Cheng……”

  Because he was a little further now, Lao-Xu was speaking very loudly, his voice reverberated imposingly inside the washroom.

  ”Holy shit……” Gu Fei braced a hand against the wall. Lao-Xu’s sudden voice startled him, he almost pissed on his shoes. “Xu-zong, can you wait a moment sir!”

  Lao-Xu walked out.

  Gu Fei zipped back up, lit another cigarette, walked into a random stall, then closed the door so he could smoke.

  Besides the peace and quiet, the other, more important reason he liked to come here was that it didn’t stink as much.  

  Lao-Xu was actually a very earnest teacher at heart, but was unfortunately not the best lecturer. Nobody listened in his classes, and as the head teacher, his people skills were not that great either. Therefore no matter how hard he tried with his students, nobody bought it.

  Gu Fei sometimes felt weary for him.

  When he walked out of the washroom, Lao-Xu was standing outside in the snow waiting for him.

  ”How about you find him a different seat.” Gu Fei tugged on his collar.

  ”Don’t want to share a desk with him? Or don’t want to share a desk, period?” Lao-Xu looked at him. “Oh Gu Fei, it won’t do if you keep being so anti-social.”

  ”Don’t analyze me,” Gu Fei said. “You’ve been doing it for two years and haven’t been right once.”

  ”Give it some time, it’s only the first day,” Lao-Xu smiled. “This Jiang Cheng…… His grades really are quite good, he’ll be a positive influence on you as a desk-mate.”

  Good grades? Positive influence?

  Gu Fei thought back to the Jiang Cheng, who had just spent an entire class slumped over his desk while playing on his phone, and found Lao-Xu’s conclusion of “good grades” a little hard to accept.

  ”It’s time for class.” Gu Fei said.

  ”Let’s go back then,” Said Lao-Xu. “Give it some more time.”

  On his way back to class, Gu Fei ran into Wang Xu on the third floor landing, and Wang Xu handed him a bottle of milk tea.

  ”Thanks.” Gu Fei took the milk tea and went into class.

  The second period was English. Their English teacher had a quick temper and a loud voice. Although like Lao-Xu he didn’t carry a lot of authority among the students, still, they could not stop his insults. He had a large variety of curses, and could go on for half an hour without repeating himself. Once, he even got into a physical fight with his students, and would always face troublemakers head on without backing down, so most people refrained from provoking him if it was not a matter of life and death. They all entered the classroom immediately after the warning bell.

  The desk had already been cleaned up, but probably not by Jiang Cheng alone. Gu Fei walked over just in time to see Yi Jing walk away with a rag.

  ”Thanks.” Gu Fei said.

  ”It’s nothing,” Yi Jing brushed her hair aside and smiled. “I’m on janitorial duty today.”

  Gu Fei sat down in his chair and glanced at Jiang Cheng, who was sitting quite calmly, leaning back in his seat with his eyes on the blackboard.

  Gu Fei took his phone out and planned to finish the movie he didn’t finish watching earlier.

  He had only just pulled up the video, when Jiang Cheng suddenly stood up.

  With a swipe of his hand, he picked up his chair as well, in his other hand was a long broom.

  Gu Fei froze, and quickly looked over to Wang Xu, who had just sat down and was talking happily to his desk-mate.

  He frowned a little, this guy is about to start a fight?

  The other guy’s name was Wang Xu. Besides Gu Fei, this was the second name Jiang Cheng remembered in this class.

  There was very little room in the class between all the desks and chairs, and there was a desk between theirs and Wang Xu’s seats. To get to Wang Xu while holding a metal chair Jiang Cheng had to make a detour to the lectern at the front of the class, which was a hassle.

  So Jiang Cheng put down the chair and said to the two people at the desk next to him, “Excuse me.”

  The two looked at him, baffled, but still stood up and let him squeeze through from behind.

  After passing through, he dragged one of their chairs out as well.

  ”Hey! What are you doing!” The guy shouted.

  Jiang Cheng looked at the guy, who stared back at him for two seconds, then didn’t speak again.

  The whole class looked over, Wang Xu had also realized that he was the target, and stood up arrogantly, “Yo~ Trying to bust my head open huh? Come, come, come, let’s have the overachiever demonstrate……”

  Jiang Cheng did not speak. He set the chair down with a “clunk” next to Wang Xu’s seat, then slowly backed away a few steps, lifted the hand holding the broomstick, and hoisted the handle at the ceiling like he was throwing a javelin, hitting exactly the spot above Wang Xu’s seat.

  Wang Xu figured it out as soon as Jiang Cheng raised his hand, but when he turned around to leave he was blocked by the chair Jiang Cheng had placed by his legs. He was just about to kick the chair away, when the broomstick came crashing down, bringing a huge piece of plaster with it.

  Both his head and his desk were instantly covered in a thick layer of white dust.

  After a brief moment of silence, the class erupted in an uproar of laughter and shouts, with some even stomping their feet and thumping the desks; all at once, there was chaos.

  ”Motherfucker!” Wang Xu yelled, kicked away his chair and jumped out.

  Jiang Cheng did not dodge, he stood still and waited for him. The way Wang Xu came at him with a wide open stance, he didn’t even need to aim his fist to give the guy a nose bleed.

  ”WHAT’S GOING ON!” A sudden roar sounded from the doorway.

  The sound was probably the most powerful roar Jiang Cheng had ever heard in his life. The boom soared straight up to the sky and into the clouds, and almost frightened him into throwing himself at Wang Xu.

  ”What’s going on! Huh!” A middle-aged male teacher charged over with a pointer stick, and pointed it first at Jiang Cheng, “Which class are you from? What are you doing here!”

  Before Jiang Cheng could answer, he jabbed the pointer in Wang Xu’s face, “You! Are your ears growing from your armpits? Did you not hear that the bells had already rang?! Did you go deaf? Can you hear the sound of my voice now? Can you hear me?! Can you!”

  Next, he didn’t wait for Wang Xu to speak up, before he turned the pointer at everyone else around him, “All standing around to watch the show, aren’t we? Well I’ll give you a performance alright! A round of applause please! Clap, clap, clap! Come on!”

  After this tirade of yelling, the class quieted down. Wang Xu glared, but showed no intention of rushing over again. Jiang Cheng looked up worriedly at the ceiling, he was afraid that if the teacher yelled one more time, the whole ceiling would collapse.

  ”Scurry back to your seats!” The teacher yelled again. “What, are you all waiting for someone to lift you or something! Will someone take the door off its hinges so that I can carry you!”

  The classroom was filled with the sounds of low laughter and complaints as Jiang Cheng turned around to go back to his seat.

  ”You!” The teacher called out to him. “Which class are you from?”

  ”He’s the newly transferred overachiever—” Someone piped up.

  The teacher stared at him in astonishment and looked him up and down for a long time, “Go sit down! Are you waiting for someone to carry you over?”

  Jiang Cheng’s temper was so scattered by his yelling, that it was all he could do to glance at the teacher again before returning to his desk and sitting down.

  ”Commencing class!” The teacher smacked the pointer stick on the lectern. “Goodah mowning-ah, ayvreyone [Eng]!

  Jiang Cheng stiffened. This line of heavily accented English almost made him burst out laughing.

  After the lecture started, the guy who was pushing their desk earlier started to push again, but this time it wasn’t directed at Gu Fei, instead he turned around and called to Jiang Cheng, “Hey, overachiever. Damn impressive you are, so casually provoking Wang Xu like that.”

  Jiang Cheng did not reply.

  ”Fuck off.” Gu Fei said from the side.

  ”What the shit?” The guy said quietly. “I wasn’t even talking to you, is this just your automatic response to me?”

  ”Mhm.” Gu Fei propped his phone up on the desk.

  ”You’re gonna have trouble,” The guy looked back at the teacher, then turned to Jiang Cheng with a serious face. “Wang Xu is definitely not finished with you, did you know our school has a back gate……”

  ”What’s your name?” Jiang Cheng interrupted him.

  ”Zhou Jing.” He said.

  ”Thanks,” Jiang Cheng said, and pointed at his chair. “Don’t, bump the desk again.”

  ”……Oh.” Zhou Jing blinked for a moment, then nodded.

  Jiang Cheng flipped open his textbook and stared down at it.

  Zhou Jing kept his neck cranked and stayed still for a while before turning back around.

  Jiang Cheng thought the beginning of his new semester was eventful indeed, and it was a shame that he did not have the habit of keeping a diary.

  It did not matter to him whether this Wang Xu would come bother him again. At the moment he only felt down: that Friend Circle post, that family selfie full of warm affection simply because of his absence, all of it only gave him a sudden feeling of total weightlessness.

  Of course, it was logical that people he didn’t care about, also didn’t care about him.

  But still, it made him feel all blocked up inside.

  Jiang Cheng stared at his textbook, only to detect a faintly sweet milky smell amid the paper and ink, and suddenly felt a little hungry. He then remembered that he had not yet had breakfast that morning.

  He turned his head and saw that sitting beside him, Gu Fei was peeling a milk candy while watching a video.

  Gu Fei exchanged a look with him, paused, then reached his hand into his pocket and rummaged around. Then he pulled out a piece of candy and placed it on Jiang Cheng’s book, before directing his attention back to his phone screen.

  Jiang Cheng looked at the candy on his book, and felt a little perplexed. And yet, the aroma of milk candy wafting over from Gu Fei’s side practically made his stomach roar.

  After two minutes of hesitation, he picked up the candy and peeled open the wrapper.

  ……It was not a milk candy!

  It was a fruit candy!

  He couldn’t help himself from turning to glance at Gu Fei again.

  Gu Fei swept his eyes over the fruit candy in Jiang Cheng’s hand, reached his hand into his pocket again, and pulled out a whole handful of candy, which he placed directly on the desk: there were all kinds of packaging and flavours, at least a dozen of them.

  “Take your pick.” Said Gu Fei.

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5621
  • TL word count: 3985
  • TL time: 3:43:49
  • Edit time: 1:03:46
  • Curse words: 4x fucks, 2x shit