Gu Fei put down the camera and went to the washroom.
Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3
Jiang Cheng was rather surprised when Gu Fei brought up the lip modeling. It seemed to him that Ding Zhuxin and her friends were all weirdos. Ding Zhuxin designed a bunch of hobo uniforms, the product images of which actually turned out looking really high-end; he saw the end products of Gu Fei’s photo editing, they were paired with all sorts of pretentious or hipster captions. Meanwhile, her friend wanted to put lipstick on a dude and take photos of it……
Although, apparently it paid well. Even for an inexperienced noob like him, doing a photoshoot for just a few days would more than patch up the hole left by the money he gave to and was about to give for Li Baoguo.
Jiang Cheng didn’t mind whether or not he had to put lipstick on. After all, he had already worn the ‘deranged caveman’ look from before. After after all, he was a handsome guy with a good face and hot body who wasn’t afraid of any kind of weirdo outfits. He figured it wouldn’t look half bad even if he was to put on lipstick.
“I was going to postpone it to the summer break,” Gu Fei said. “But they’re in a hurry and can’t wait. I checked their schedule, the time is set for one week before the final exams, would that affect you?”
“Nope.” Jiang Cheng said.
“Then what about your revision?” Gu Fei asked.
“Fragmented time, plus going to sleep one hour later.” Jiang Cheng glanced at him. “Watch and learn, slacker.”
“The most I do with fragmented time is catch a nap.” Gu Fei chuckled.
After they finished eating meat pies at Wang Xu’s place, everything seemed to have gone back to the way it was.
Normally, when faced with something that troubled him that he couldn’t solve, Jiang Cheng had two ways of dealing with it. The first was to keep thinking about it, turning it over and backward in his mind nonstop until eventually, the problem lost its original power, when he felt only a numbness whenever he recalled it. Those words of affirmation he could never obtain, for example. After getting used to it, he no longer had much emotional reaction to it. The other solution was to bury it and never touch it again, purposely avoiding it, and perhaps forgetting it for real at some point in the future. Those calm and never-ending criticisms, for example.
For Li Baoguo, Jiang Cheng chose the latter. An overly gruesome end such as this wasn’t meant to be brooded on and replayed over and over. He buried these details into his mind, and tried not to touch it ever again.
On Li Hui’s end, he never volunteered any information to Jiang Cheng. When Li Hui and his wife came to meet him at the school a few days later with a receipt for 3000 yuan, they didn’t even tell him when Li Baoguo was to be cremated.
“Hold on, let me see.” Standing outside the school gates, Jiang Cheng looked over the receipt carefully, trying to decipher meaning out of the dog-shit handwriting. Fortunately, he had years of experience with his own handwriting. Then he took a square of archival ink out of his pocket, this he borrowed from Lao-Xu’s office before he came out. “Do a fingerprint, put it on top of your name.”
“Get over yourself!” Li Hui was enraged. “Print my ass! It’s only three fucking thousand, you’d think you were giving three million!”
“Mhm, it’s only three thousand, yet you both came to get it together.” Jiang Cheng smirked. “Are you doing it or not, I’m not giving you this money without a fingerprint. What happens if you decide to come around one day and claim that I faked your signature?”
Li Hui glared at him and was about to close in, when Wang Xu’s sudden roar boomed from behind them, “What’s taking so long! Are you done yet! Do you need these guys’ help?”
A few people stood behind the gate: Gu Fei, Wang Xu, Lu Xiaobin, and Guo Xu. Among these people, only Gu Fei knew what was happening, Wang Xu knew a little, while Lu Xiaobin and Guo Xu were called here by Wang Xu to look more imposing. Standing there with their bitch faces as though they’d push over the gates and come rushing out to fight at any time, even the security guard looked a little nervous, never mind Li Hui, who quickly quieted down.
“Fucking hell.” Li Hui snatched up the square of ink, brushed his thumb on it, and pressed a thumb to the receipt.
“Alright,” Jiang Cheng looked at the thumb print, which was pretty clear, then took an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to Li Hui. “You can give it a count.”
Li Hui opened the envelope and took a cursory glance while suppressing his fury, then walked away without counting, his expression dark.
Jiang Cheng watched their silhouettes recede, and let out a long breath of relief.
When he turned to head back into the school, Gu Fei curled the corners of his mouth up and gave him a smile, and so he gave one back.
Along with the relief, he also felt a little listless. It seemed that Li Hui didn’t feel very much at all regarding Li Baoguo’s death, such that he was able to so boldly ask for money without so much as a flinch. What kind of mentality that was, Jiang Cheng could never understand.
After Li Baoguo’s matter came to a close, it felt like everything was finally tied up and done. Jiang Cheng buried this into the depth of his mind, and didn’t even tell Pan Zhi. If Pan Zhi never brings this person up again, he’ll probably never voluntarily bring up this event.
Life and death, it was strange indeed.
A person had disappeared just like that, changing from one kind of rumour material, to a different kind of rumour material. And if one steps out of this Steel Works neighbourhood, nobody would even know someone like that had existed, nor would they know that he chose to leave in this manner.
How he lived and how he died, it would only be stored in the distant memories of a sad handful of people.
Jiang Cheng suddenly felt like he was frighteningly miniscule. Where he came from, how he lived, the way he struggled and strived, and where he would eventually end up; his story would be just as unknown to everyone else.
He himself was the only one who knew. Whether he was headed up or down, there was only himself.
Lao-Xu the hen waited a whole week before tracking Jiang Cheng down for a talk, the subject of which was surprisingly not about Li Baoguo, but regarding the final exam that was coming up in a week.
Jiang Cheng looked across at Lao-Xu, and thought the man’s emotional intelligence had somehow risen mysteriously.
“How’s the revision going?” Lao-Xu asked as he handed him a large manila envelope. “These are some question bank sets I got for you, see if you have time to work on them?”
“Mhm,” Jiang Cheng accepted the envelope. “It’s going alright. I have to take a couple of afternoons off this week…… just so you know in advance.”
“Time off?” Lao-Xu looked at him. “What for?”
“It’s…… personal.” Jiang Cheng said, uh I gotta put lipstick on and make money, Xu-zong.
“Can you tell me about it?” Lao-Xu continued to ask.
“I cannot.” Jiang Cheng refused point-blank.
“Kiddo……” Lao-Xu sighed, then after some contemplation, gave him another warm smile as he asked. “Are you under financial strain? I can help you apply……”
“No, that’s not necessary, I’m not under strain.” Jiang Cheng quickly answered. “No need to trouble you, the school, or the state.”
“Ah you really are a good kid.” Lao-Xu said, then had another thought. “How about we organize a donation drive within our class only……”
“Xu-zong please!” It would seem that Lao-Xu’s emotional intelligence couldn’t stand to be praised even in his mind, even as they spoke he was witnessing it’s sliding descent. He gazed at Lao-Xu with such earnesty he almost cried. “I don’t need money, I have money, really! Please, please don’t worry about this on my behalf, I’m begging you!”
“Ok ok ok,” Lao-Xu nodded, then quickly added again. “You must tell me if you’re in any kind of trouble.”
“I will.” Jiang Cheng also nodded vehemently.
Lao-Xu didn’t keep pressing Jiang Cheng about the reason for his absence, though he did give his blessing for the time off. However……
Inside the taxi, Jiang Cheng glanced at Gu Fei sitting beside him, “Are you skipping class or did you request time off?”
“Skipping.” Gu Fei had his head down playing the idiotic Aixiaochu. “How could Lao-Xu possibly agree to me taking time off.”
“Does he know we’re going somewhere together then?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“Are you worried that he’ll find out?” Gu Fei said. “It’s fine, you’re only taking the afternoon off tomorrow, right? I’ll just skip the whole day.”
“Shit,” Jiang Cheng frowned. “I’m not worried about him knowing we’re out together, I’m worried that he’ll find out and go talk to you about it again.”
“Got it,” Gu Fei smiled, and bumped his leg gently against Jiang Cheng’s. “I have a hundred different answers ready.”
Jiang Cheng sighed, “Then don’t skip class tomorrow morning.”
“Mhm.” Gu Fei nodded.
Jiang Cheng didn’t say any more, just watched Gu Fei’s profile out of the corner of his eyes. He wanted to say something, but at the same time felt like there’s not much to say. There was something off about the way Gu Fei kept his distance from the school and his peers, but he couldn’t figure out what exactly it was.
He wanted Gu Fei to be like other students, but it was clearly impossible. He wished for the people around them to see that Gu Fei was not only a delinquent and slacker who skipped classes all the time, but it seemed that Gu Fei was never interested in letting other people see his virtues.
This feeling of being untethered on both ends sometimes made him feel uneasy.
He reached a hand behind Gu Fei’s back and squeezed his waist.
This friend of Ding Zhuxin’s who wanted a male lip model was a plump middle-aged woman. Despite her lofty figure, there was an elegant air about her. The glasses on her face alone set her apart from others her age who rushed at gold accessory sales in the mall and did square dances while sightseeing abroad.
“Boys these days,” The plump jiejie briefly looked him over. “Certainly are getting more and more handsome. I didn’t meet a single one when I was younger, but these days I see them all the time.”
“Thanks, jie.” Jiang Cheng said.
“Thank you for your hard work,” The plump jiejie said. “Go on in then, I’m going out to have a stroll around…… Gu Fei, thank you for your hard work.”
“Don’t mention it.” Gu Fei answered while assembling his camera lenses.
“How about you also pose for a set next time?” The plump jiejie asked.
“Nope.” Gu Fei said.
“Ay, this response, I can’t even continue the conversation.” The plump jiejie chuckled. “Alright you guys continue, I’ll be going.”
A designer and a makeup artist remained on set after the plump jiejie left, they both seemed to be very familiar with Gu Fei already. The makeup artist girl would also help out as Gu Fei’s photography assistant later.
“Isn’t it just lipstick,” Jiang Cheng leaned back in the chair and felt the makeup artist slather layers upon layers of stuff on his face. “Why do I need such a thick layer on my face too?
“Well, they can’t just take photos of the lips only,” The makeup artist smiled and said. “We actually don’t need such detailed makeup if it’s just a clothing shoot, but these are close-ups, so try to hang on.”
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng answered, then stretched his legs out and closed his eyes.
He thought they only needed to do a white base coat on his face, then paint some lipstick on and call it a day. But the base coat alone took such a long time, then after the base coat she moved on to fiddling with his eyelids. Jiang Cheng was already a little tired from staying up revising for final exams for the last few days, and now with these brushes going back and forth across his eyelids, he felt like he was on the verge of shedding tears.
“Your eyes are so pretty,” The makeup artist said. “It looks way nicer than those surgical bottom extensions.”
“What’s a bottom extension?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“Oh you know, puppy eyes.” The makeup artist laughed.
“…… What’s puppy eyes?” Jiang Cheng was baffled.
“His doesn’t really count as puppy eyes, it’s got more of a smug bad-boy vibe, it’s not the cutesy kind.” The designer said beside them. “It’s pretty striking.”
“You’re right,” The makeup artist nodded. “I don’t even have to do much work on his eyes.”
Jiang Cheng decided to give up on any further questions, because the makeup artist was starting to line his eyes, and he could hardly stand it anymore, “Wait wait wait wait……“
“Are you unwell?” The makeup artist paused.
“I can probably film a crying scene right this moment,” Jiang Cheng turned his face away and looked to Gu Fei. “Got a tissue?”
Gu Fei had been sitting beside him fiddling with his camera settings, he hadn’t been paying much attention to how the makeup was going. Now that Jiang Cheng suddenly turned to face him, he swept his eyes over Jiang Cheng’s face as he handed him a tissue, and almost dropped his camera on the floor.
Jiang Cheng with makeup on looked very unfamiliar to him. His lips were still bare at the moment, but this only made his eyes stand out more, and immediately captured Gu Fei’s attention.
The eye makeup was pretty intense. If he’d seen this look out on the street, he’d find it a little extreme even if it was on a girl. But on Jiang Cheng’s face, he didn’t find it out of place at all.
Perhaps it was his ginormous boyfriend filter at work, but seeing Jiang Cheng like this made his heart suddenly beat faster. After Jiang Cheng took the tissue, he poured himself a glass of water and hastily took two big gulps to settle his heart back down.
The makeup artist continued working on Jiang Cheng’s face. Meanwhile, Gu Fei was no longer in a mood to fiddle with his camera settings. He aimed the camera at Jiang Cheng instead and focused all his attention on his face.
Gu Fei had known this makeup artist for some time, they’d run into each other all the time during other photoshoots. She was a freelancer who normally worked at a TV station, and was highly skilled at her job.
Gu Fei never noticed when she put makeup on other people, only with Jiang Cheng did he notice that she had meticulously accentuated all the good qualities of Jiang Cheng’s features: his eyes, the curve of his nose, the face shape.
On any given day, Jiang Cheng’s lips looked…… normal. But now, even with the most basic lining, he was already starting to see the beauty in it.
“What, are we shooting behind the scenes this time?” The makeup artist paused her work, and glanced at his camera.
“Mhm,” Gu Fei answered, still staring at Jiang Cheng through the lens. “For myself.”
“Don’t mess around,” Jiang Cheng opened one eye and looked at him. “It’s not even done……”
Gu Fei pressed the shutter. The way Jiang Cheng looked with one eye open was very alluring.
“Your great uncle,” Jiang Cheng cursed, then asked after a pause. “What’s it look like?”
“Can’t remember.” Gu Fei said.
“What do you mean can’t remember?” Jiang Cheng was confused.
“What my great uncle looked like.” Gu Fei said.
“…… Fucking,” Jiang Cheng cursed again. “I’m asking you how I look!”
The makeup artist stood there with a little brush in her hand and couldn’t stop laughing.
“Drop dead gorgeous.” Gu Fei answered solemnly.
Because it needed to match the whole look, this lip makeup took a whole hour before it was finally finished. According to the makeup artist, it was actually much faster than usual, but Jiang Cheng didn’t know whether or not to believe her.
“Done,” She swept the brush over his face a couple more times as though sweeping the floor, then stood up. “We can start shooting now.”
“Awesome job,” The designer stared at Jiang Cheng’s face for a while. “That’s exactly the vibe I’m looking for.”
“Can I look in the mirror?” Jiang Cheng asked.
The designer moved to the side. Jiang Cheng never did look in the mirror throughout the whole process, and now after a single glance, he almost jumped from surprise.
“The fuck!” He turned and stared at the other three, he figured his expression right then must’ve been a mix of horror and surprise. “What the hell is this!”
“I guess you’re not used to it,” The designer smiled and said. “It looks really good, and not girly at all. It’s a very manly sort of sexy.”
Jiang Cheng couldn’t comprehend the mentality of a manly man sporting a mouthful of bright lipstick, but Gu Fei gave him a thumbs up when he looked over, and his mind was suddenly at peace again.
Despite the fact that he felt Gu Fei would give him a thumbs up even if his makeup looked like a pile of wet shit, regardless, a positive affirmation from Gu Fei still put him at ease.
“Let’s start,” Jiang Cheng said. “After this I still have to…… do homework and revise.”
His words probably came as a total surprise for both the makeup artist and the designer. It wasn’t until he was already stationed in front of the lights, that they managed to blurt out an “Oh!”
Gu Fei could feel a primitive urge reawakening within him. He had shot tons of handsome guys before, even ‘ass models’. But it was only when looking at Jiang Cheng’s face, did those desires residing deep within his heart creep out little by little, slithering beneath his skin along the channels and veins, expanding its reach.
A gently raised face.
The corner of the mouth slightly curled up, with a hint of conceit.
The look of disdain in his eyes.
Jiang Cheng’s signature brand of arrogant smirk.
The sound of the shutters was like the beat to his desire, every still frame of Jiang Cheng’s face pushed him closer in the direction of the washroom.
After they finished shooting the first set, as Jiang Cheng was getting ready to change to a different makeup look, Gu Fei put down the camera and went to the washroom.
Immediately after he walked in, when Gu Fei still had his hands braced on the wall facing the urinal, before he even began to calm himself down, he heard the sound of footsteps, followed by a figure appearing beside him.
“Did you come to rub one out,” Jiang Cheng said in a low voice as he crossed his arms and leaned against the door. “Or to lower the flag?”
“Fuck,” Gu Fei turned to look at him. “Did you come to watch the show, or to help out?”
“Well obviously to watch the show.” Jiang Cheng narrowed his eyes and laughed out gleefully.
“Do you have even an ounce of humanity?” Gu Fei walked over and pushed him against the wall.
“Young man,” Jiang Cheng jabbed a finger at Gu Fei’s chin. “If you kiss me right now, everyone out there would know about it.”
Gu Fei thought about it for a moment, then planted a kiss on the side of Jiang Cheng’s neck.
“I’m warning you,” Jiang Cheng put his arms around Gu Fei. “If you dare to bite down, then I’ll dare to smack you.”
Gu Fei laughed and lifted his eyes, “Young man, for someone with leverage all over you, you dare to come in and provoke me?”
“I only came in to soothe you.” Jiang Cheng chuckled.
“Cheng-ge,” Gu Fei lowered his voice. “I’ve got a question for you.”
“Hm?” Jiang Cheng looked at him.
“You said you want to do something big for your birthday,” Gu Fei gazed into his eyes. “How big?”
- Raw character count: 5027
- TL word count: 3446
- TL time: 5:02:47
- Edit: 0:48:42
- Curse words: 5 x fucks, 3 x shits, 2x asses
Welcome to the new home! I haven’t finished renovating yet so pls don’t look around lol