Come on down, Cheng-ge’s taking you out for your birthday. 


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

        There was an adult toy store right around the corner.

        Compared to the dilemma of whether he should go in and have a look around, or why the shop looked so shady as though it was a salon at a train station, Jiang Cheng was more surprised by the fact that he never noticed its presence before.

        Though he was too embarrassed to discuss this with Gu Fei. If it was another shop he’d speak up about it for sure, hey look there’s a steamed bun place here, how come I never noticed with my 20/20 super sharp overachiever vision?

        But this was an adult toy store, which made it not so appropriate to launch a discussion about, since the conversation would inevitably veer into a dirty novel territory. Even though he was super keen about it, and certain ideas were also growing strong in his body…… Still, at the end of the day he was young, and however much he wanted to do a little something with his boyfriend, he couldn’t bring himself to say it out loud.

        Not to mention, there was still the gauntlet he threw down of beating the second place by 100 points, he couldn’t afford to be distracted.

        Jiang Cheng spent the whole morning listening to the teachers of various subjects preaching earnestly with their whole beings, and set the dirty little shop aside for now. Without Gu Fei beside him, his attention wasn’t as easily diverted to staring at the guy’s face, so he was much more focused on the lecture.

        At about ten minutes before the end of the last class of the morning, Gu Fei’s yawning figure flashed lazily by the front door, then leisurely strolled in through the back door and into the classroom.

        It was a geography class, the teacher glared angrily but resignedly at Gu Fei.

        Gu Fei gave the teacher a bow, then sat down.

        “Some students,” The geography teacher knocked on the lectern. “Only see the bliss immediately before them, and never stop to think about what to do for their future. By the time you start to regret……”

        “Did you not sleep yesterday?” Jiang Cheng asked quietly. Gu Fei looked like he didn’t get enough sleep, he never used to look like this even when he was on time.

        “Not really,” Gu Fei yawned again. The teacher was still passive aggressively droning on at the front, so he didn’t immediately flop down on his desk, and instead lowered his head as though he was listening intently. “Er-Miao was fussing all night.”

        “All that over a blanket?” Jiang Cheng frowned.

        “Dunno, she was probably in a bad mood.” Gu Fei sighed. “Though it’s been a while since she acted up like this, I had to slap her out of it.”

        “The fuck?” Jiang Cheng turned to him. “You hit her?”

        “Just once on her butt,” Gu Fei said. The teacher started giving out homework, so he slumped down on the desk. “Really lightly. Even to her…… it’s really hard for me to always keep my temper.”

        “Wouldn’t she get upset again if you hit her?” Jiang Cheng was a little worried.

        “Nah,” Gu Fei said. “I talked to her for a long time after that, I told her that kids get hit if they don’t behave, no exceptions. Ah I’m so exhausted.”

        “Why don’t you take the time to sleep this afternoon, you can ask to be excused?” Jiang Cheng wasn’t sure what else to say.

        “Excuse my ass, the finals are the day after tomorrow, how can Lao-Xu possibly allow it, I’m not you after all.” Gu Fei smiled. “I’ll just sleep in class this afternoon.”

        A new pizza place had opened near the school, and the decor looked pretty legit. The students of Fourth High seemed to have found a way of distinguishing themselves, and all flocked to sit in there to eat pizza elegantly. [1]

        “Let’s go get pizza.” Gu Fei said.

        “The one just outside?” Jiang Cheng asked.

        “Mhm,” Gu Fei nodded. “Let’s try it, I’ve never tried it myself, if it’s good I’ll take some back for Er-Miao.”

        “Alright.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

        He didn’t have any expectations for this place, but since Gu Fei hadn’t tried it before, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try, what if there was a miracle?

        But when they walked in and checked out the price, he figured there probably wouldn’t be any miracle. A seven inch was only 22 yuan, at least it was a great value.

        There were a lot of people in the restaurant, most of them students at Fourth High, so Gu Fei asked for it to go and walked out with the box.

        “Where should we go?” Jiang Cheng asked.

        “To the bridge?” Gu Fei looked at him. “Get some sun, spend some time with my boyfriend…… let’s get a couple of cokes too, we’ll have a picnic.”

        Jiang Cheng thought it was a little silly, actually nothing was sillier than this. Two big fellas sitting by the bridge, facing a crappy practically dry river, eating a 22 yuan pizza together, and drinking coke.

        But though that was what he was thinking, he still quickly nodded as soon as Gu Fei finished talking.

        Silly, yes. But it was also kind of fun. It was very…… he couldn’t articulate it, it was an indescribable feeling, perhaps even if he had to go clean the toilets with Gu Fei it would still be…… wait no, nevermind that.

        There weren’t many people around the area at lunch time. They sat down on a long bench on a trail near the bridge, a few benches away was someone with earphones on loudly practicing their verbal English.

        Jiang Cheng found it an odd sight, to see someone practicing English in the most rundown Steel Works area of this crappy little city, at noon no less. He couldn’t help but reminisce on this out of place yet familiar scene he hadn’t seen for a long time.

        “This tastes so bad.” Gu Fei picked up a slice and took a bite.

        “It’s pretty good when it’s done well.” Jiang Cheng also took a bite out of a slice. Indeed it wasn’t very good, not at all comparable with the meat pies at Wang Xu’s place. “How about we take Gu Miao to Pizza Hut after the finals?” 

        “We don’t have a Pizza Hut here.” Gu Fei said.

        “……Ah,” Jiang Cheng paused for a second. “Ok, then we’ll find a nicer place to get pizza?”

        “Why not just go to Wang Er’s Meat Pies instead,” Gu Fei said. “It’s cheap, and when his mom’s in a sunny mood she’ll even make it on the house.”

        Jiang Cheng took a sip of the coke and laughed for a good while, “Then shall we have meat pies there on our birthdays too?”

        “We don’t have to go that far.” Gu Fei considered for a second. “How do you want to spend your birthday? Invite some old classmates over?”

        “That’s…… not necessary.” Jiang Cheng said. “I was thinking, our birthdays aren’t that far apart, let’s choose a day in between and celebrate it together, how’s that?”

        “Then let’s just pick the date of your birthday,” Gu Fei said. “Otherwise it’ll leave a vacancy on both our birthdays.”

        “Oh,” Jiang Cheng laughed, he thought the way Gu Fei described it as vacancy was kind of cute. “How about the lunar calendar?”

        “Check what your lunar calendar birthday is then, see if it overlaps with my Gregorian calendar date?” Gu Fei said.

        “It’s probably not likely,” Jiang Cheng said as he pulled out his phone, but as soon as the screen lit up he turned it off again and put the phone away. “No no, let’s just go with my date, yours is too late.”

        “Sure,” Gu Fei smiled. “What’s your hurry?”

        Jiang Cheng bit on a slice of pizza and froze, then glanced at Gu Fei’s smile…… it could just be a very normal smile? But with his heavenly eye Jiang Cheng was still able to read a different kind of meaning out of this smile. He mumbled around the pizza in his mouth and cursed, “Your great uncle.”

        Gu Fei kept grinning wordlessly.

        “I’ll smack you if you keep grinning like that.” Jiang Cheng said.

        Gu Fei put away his grin and turned to Jiang Cheng solemnly with one arm on the back of the bench, “Cheng-ge, we’ll go with your birthday, it absolutely has to be that date. I’m in a big hurry to spend it with you.”

        Jiang Cheng glared at him, then after a long time finally patted his shoulder, “Fine.”

        The day before the final exams, someone started a bet in the Fourth High forums. At first they wanted to bet on who would take the first place among the juniors, but that was quickly overturned due to the total lack of suspense. Next, someone suggested they bet on the highest score in the school, but it was also overturned for the same reason.

        At last after much discussion, they decided to bet on how big the difference would be between the first and second place.

        “I placed a bet,” On the way home from school, Gu Fei slowly peddled as he played on his phone. “I bet eight cucumbers.”

        “What the hell, you must be way too bored.” Jiang Cheng didn’t know what to say, he did see the posts, but hadn’t clicked on them to see the details.

        “What do you think? Will 118 points be a challenge?” Gu Fei looked at him.

        “Why didn’t you bet on the first place getting full marks.” Jiang Cheng said.

        “That’s unrealistic,” Gu Fei laughed. “I would if your handwriting is half as good as mine, but there’s no way you’d get full marks with that handwriting of yours.”

        “Get out.” Jiang Cheng said.

        “Really Cheng-ge, practice your handwriting please,” Gu Fei said. “What if you get docked aesthetic marks on the university entrance exams.”

        “I’ve been practicing, I’ve been writing my homework every day stroke by careful stroke.” Jiang Cheng tsked audibly.

        “Then are you able to get over 118 points difference?” Gu Fei asked.

        “Dunno, 100 points difference isn’t a problem, but you think 18 points is that easy?” Jiang Cheng said. “No offence, but you guys won’t even dare to go bigger? If it’s cucumbers you could at least bet on truckfuls at a time.”

        Gu Fei couldn’t stop laughing, then said, “Some users revealed their true identities before. Last year when they bet on the rankings of Game Day, people actually brought cucumbers to school.”

        “…… They certainly know how to have fun.” Jiang Cheng commended earnestly. “Do seniors get a Game Day?”

        “Yeah,” Gu Fei said. “There’s even a celebration concert at the end, all the seniors would attend, since the seniors have nothing in the way of school events after that.”

        “Oh.” Jiang Cheng suddenly felt a little trepidatious. After this summer was the last year of high school, it was less than a year away. If it were his old school, they wouldn’t get a summer at all. The parents would riot if the teachers didn’t hold supplementary classes, they’d cry and beg for the school to not go easy on the poor seniors.

        But Fourth High seniors had an entire half a summer, and a Game Day, and even a concert.

        “Will you not participate in Game Day either?” Jiang Cheng asked.

        “Mhm.” Gu Fei smiled.

        “Then what about the celebration concert?” Jiang Cheng continued to ask.

        “I’ll at least go and watch.” Gu Fei said.

        “Oh.” Jiang Cheng smiled too.

        Jiang Cheng usually didn’t feel very much pressure for final exams. Even if he gave himself the goal of passing second place by 100 points, it wouldn’t be a big deal as long as he pushed himself a little. But for some reason, he inexplicably felt nervous as soon as he thought of the eight cucumbers from freestyle_handsome.

        Even though nobody knew who freestyle_handsome was, he still gave himself pressure from out of nowhere called “can’t let freestyle_handsome lose cucumbers”.

        The exam didn’t go very differently from the midterms. The people to his front, left, and back, all looked to him for answers, only Gu Fei to his right was sitting there calmly rolling the dice on every question.

        The final exam questions were clearly more difficult than the ones on the midterm. For the sake of freestyle_handsome’s cucumbers, Jiang Cheng didn’t turn in his papers early, and instead stayed in his seat until the last minute for every subject. 

        When he walked out of the class after finishing the last subject, Gu Fei was just about to approach to talk to him, but got cut in by Lao-Xu who squeezed him to the side, “How do you feel about this afternoon?”

        “It’s alright.” Jiang Cheng said.

        “Why does it seem like you’re not in very high spirits?” Lao-Xu studied his face with care. “Are you unsatisfied with one of the subjects?”

        “Nah,” Jiang Cheng said. “I’m like this even when I get full marks.”

        “Ok ok ok,” Lao-Xu nodded in relief. “That’s a good mentality to have. Take some days off and rest well, then we’ll be starting supplementary classes, gotta get in the mindset for senior year!”

        “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

        Just like that the semester was over, they had two days off before their grades were out, and everyone seized the opportunity to have fun while they could. Jiang Cheng was planning to think about what to get Gu Fei for his birthday, but Wang Xu got a hold of him and kept them busy for the whole two days.

        Other than Guo Xu and the others, Wang Xu also invited the girls. Frankly, everyone knew what he was trying to do, clearly he just wanted a chance to bring Yi Jing out.

        Jiang Cheng didn’t want to go, but Wang Xu had forcefully dragged Gu Fei and Gu Miao along, so he had no choice but to follow.

        Only, on this rare get-together, their activities of choice was to go shopping downtown, eat and drink, then head to the arcade for a while. Jiang Cheng wanted to tell Wang Xu that it’d be a miracle if he ever managed to get with Yi Jing this way.

        In the two whole days of wandering aimlessly about, the most exciting part was when they ran into a group of young people skateboarding in the square. Gu Miao played with them for a while on her skateboard, which attracted a large crowd of people who all pulled out their phones to take pictures and videos.

        At the end of it, their leader, a young man extended an invitation to Gu Miao, “Hey little sis, will you be interested in joining our club to skate with us?”

        Gu Miao looked back at him blankly, then kicked her skateboard up to her hands, and walked away.

        “Bye for now then little sis! We’ll be here the first weekend of every month! Come by if you have time!” The young man called out behind her.

        From a distance, Jiang Cheng watched as Gu Miao walked closer and doubled up in laughter, “Ayy, this swag.”

        “No manners at all,” Gu Fei smiled, then bent down and gestured at the approaching Gu Miao. “Er-Miao, thank those geges, they spent so much time playing with you.”

        Gu Miao gave him a look, then turned around and gave a bow to the young people who were still waving at her.

        “Actually…… that club, if it’s possible, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Gu Miao to join and play with them, huh?” Jiang Cheng said after some thought.

        “But I’ll have to be with her the whole time. She doesn’t know how to communicate with other people, and they don’t know what her triggers are either.” Gu Fei sighed. “And where do I get the time? I already have photography sessions booked, and next week I have to take her to do rehab…… So we’ll just have to see.”

        Jiang Cheng reached out and squeezed his back gently, not knowing what to say.

        Gu Fei’s holiday schedule was very tightly packed. He had to mind the convenience store, do photography work, and take Gu Miao for treatment…… Every single one of these had nothing to do with whether or not he was willing, or whether or not he could squeeze it into his schedule, they were all things he had no choice but to do.

        It was this sense of resignation Gu Fei occasionally let out, that made Jiang Cheng a little glum. Sometimes when he looked at Gu Fei it was like looking at an eagle tied to a tightrope with a chain; it was already difficult to stay standing, and what was worse, his wings weren’t for flying but merely to maintain balance.

        But perhaps Gu Fei had already gotten used to it. Other than the occasional sigh, Jiang Cheng almost never heard him make any kind of complaint. After their grades were out, he even went out in very high spirits and purchased eight cucumbers.

        “Here, you can have four.” Gu Fei handed him the bag with cucumbers inside.

        Jiang Cheng was in a pretty good mood too. The second place was still Yi Jing, and though he didn’t manage to achieve a difference of 118 this time, he did make good on the promise he made to Lao-Xu. 

        Although when he accepted Gu Fei’s bag of…… cucumbers, he still felt an ever so subtle bit of shame.

        “We’re young people in a new era,” Jiang Cheng watched as Gu Fei happily started chomping on a cucumber right in front of the supermarket. “Can we celebrate in a slightly more elegant way?”

        “Even on your birthday you……” Gu Fei stopped halfway, took another bite of the cucumber, and started laughing.

        “I really really want to meet your great uncle, Gu Fei!” Jiang Cheng glared at him.

        Though he did feel embarrassed, Jiang Cheng still placed a lot of importance on their birthdays, and not just for the sake of…… a couple of cucumbers.

        This was the first time he could spend his birthday the way he wanted to, and the first time he would spend it with Gu Fei.

        As for Gu Fei’s birthday present, he sat cross legged on his bed and pondered for three hours as if he was meditating, then finally jumped off and took a taxi directly to the shopping center.

        He didn’t want to just buy something, there was no meaning in that. But to make it himself, he had no such skills. So he picked the middle way, and decided to buy premade materials and put it together himself.

        Last time when he came here with Wang Xu and the others, he saw a lot of people doing crafts in one of the stores, Yi Jing even went in to look around, and reported back that they were making things with Perler Beads. 

        Jiang Cheng decided to make a Perler Bead keychain for Gu Fei.

        He received a call from Gu Fei just as he stepped into the store, “Ah the days are growing longer boyfriend, I’m done shooting here, aren’t you gonna come out and playyyy, boyfriend…… Are you outside?”

        “Mhm, I…… have an errand to run.” Jiang Cheng said.

        “What errand?” Asked Gu Fei, but he didn’t wait for Jiang Cheng’s answer before he started laughing. “Is it to buy a present for me?”

        “Don’t overthink it,” Jiang Cheng glanced at the bookstore sign nearby. “I’m at the bookstore.”

        “To buy study materials?” Gu Fei asked. “Want me to come join you?”

        “Nah, I’ll be long gone by the time you get here.” Jiang Cheng said.

        “Alrighty then, I’ll take Er-Miao out to play.” Gu Fei smiled.

        Jiang Cheng hung up and walked into the Perler store again.

        The shopkeeper was very friendly, and gave Jiang Cheng a thorough explanation, “This isn’t hard at all, you just have to be detail oriented. You’ll get the hang of it after a few simple patterns.”

        “Do you have patterns here?” Jiang Cheng asked.

        “Yep, what kind are you looking for?” The shopkeeper asked.

        “Like…… chibi figures,” Jiang Cheng glanced at the people crafting around him. “I want to make a keychain.

        “We have that,” The shopkeeper clicked a few times on his computer and pulled up a pair of chibis, a boy and a girl. “Do you like something like this?”

        “Um, you got any that are of……” Jiang Cheng cleared his throat, and could hardly open his mouth. “Two boys?”

        “We have those too,” The shopkeeper smiled. “Let me take a look, you can also send me images you like and I can turn them into pixel art for you.”

        The shopkeeper very keenly started searching, and found more than a dozen different chibi images. When he pulled them up one by one, Jiang Cheng even saw a few where the figures were stacked together in a most unseemly position. He felt a surge of embarrassment, “That’s…… not necessary.”

        The shopkeeper started laughing and showed him a few more. Even though he’d said he didn’t want the unseemly images, he still ended up picking one of two figures kissing in an embrace.

        As Jiang Cheng walked out of the store with a bag of Perler materials and a hot iron, he could almost feel his sweat dripping down. There was a bubble tea shop right next door, but he didn’t go in. He felt like the shopkeeper of the Perler store was still standing there watching him.

        When he finally left the shopping center and bought a bubble tea from a street side shop, he chugged away the whole thing in one breath. 

        As he was standing there waiting for the bus, Pan Zhi called, “Cheng-er! I’m going to visit and celebrate your birthday!”

        “You can come over after my birthday.” Jiang Cheng said.

        “…… Fucking hell,” Pan Zhi was shook. “You’re planning to spend it with Gu Fei?”

        “Uh…huh.” Jiang Cheng looked down at the bag in his hand.

        “Grandpa, how could you treat me this way?” Pan Zhi was distraught. “Can’t we all celebrate it together? Everyone eat and drink and be merry, in honour of your long-awaited birthday?”

        “Nope.” Jiang Cheng said.

        “Shit, how did my ranking drop so quickly?” Pan Zhi was very unwilling. “How long has it been! Did you not struggle at all between lust and friendship? Was it such an easy choice?”

        “Will you please be considerate of your elders.” Jiang Cheng said.

        “Fine then, but you gotta promise me this,” Pan Zhi said. “When I come visit I still get to stay at your place, don’t make me stay in a hotel.”

        “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng smiled.

        “I’ve got your present already, you’ll love it for sure.” Pan Zhi said.

        “What is it?” Jiang Cheng immediately asked.

        “My little wittle heart.” Pan Zhi said.

        “…… Don’t want it. You’ve given away your little wittle heart away to fifty people already, if not a hundred.” Jiang Cheng tsked. “You probably put it through a shredder and gave it away one piece at a time.”

        “Damn it,” Pan Zhi couldn’t stop laughing. “You just wait, I’ll send you my train info after I buy the ticket, you come and pick me up.”

        “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng smiled.

        Gu Fei felt like the overachiever was pretty good at holding it in. Jiang Cheng had been busy for the last few days, doing who knows what. Every time Gu Fei asked him to come out, he would answer that he had no time. But he never did see what was keeping Jiang Cheng busy whenever he dropped by the apartment.

        And as for the birthday present and how they were going to spend the day, Jiang Cheng hadn’t revealed a single thing, just told him to wait.

        Gu Fei sat in front of the computer, and glanced at the time as he continued editing photos. In another five minutes would be Jiang Cheng’s birthday. He picked up his phone and got ready to make the call as soon as the clock striked zero.

        Time passed one second at a time, he watched the clock on his phone, and found himself a little excited, even his fingers trembled ever so slightly.

        23:59:55.

        He counted in his mind: 56, 57, 5……

        The image on his cell phone screen changed abruptly, and a picture of Jiang Cheng’s face jumped out at him. The sudden ringtone sound almost startled him into dropping the phone on the floor.

        “Happy birthday,” He picked up the phone and said before the other side was able to speak. “Cheng-ge.”

        “Happy birthday.” Jiang Cheng said with a smile. “Were you counting the seconds?”

        “Mhm,” Gu Fei chuckled then sighed. “Couldn’t beat you, you’re early.”

        “Us overachievers are good at planning, you would’ve picked up right on the dot.” Jiang Cheng said. “Now that you’re forcefully 18, how do you feel?”

        “Ay…… old age beckons.” Gu Fei said, then suddenly noticed the sound of wind through the receiver. Confused, he asked, “Where are you?”

        “Downstairs.” Jiang Cheng said. “Come on down, Cheng-ge’s taking you out for your birthday.”


Footnotes:

[1] In China (and probably Asia) pizza is not the cheap fastfood that it is in some other places, because it’s foreign (white), ppl see it as more high brow.

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 6171
  • TL word count: 4222
  • TL time: 3:58:54
  • Edit time: 1:16:14
  • Curse words: 2x fucks, 1x shit, 1x ass

TL’s Notes:

So um ……. guess I’ve moved completely lol, I’ve been too busy to work on the site further, but at least where the chapters live are ok and usable and at the very least not any worse than what it was like before. Let me know if you run into any problems <3