Gu Fei tilted his head back and, leaning against the wall, gave a little whistle.


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

  Jiang Cheng had not been so picky with candies even when he was in elementary school. His family never really allowed the consumption of sweets, and did not allow them to eat junk food or soda; he had always felt he was living like a cultivator. As a result, even now he did not have a craving for junk food and sweets, usually whenever Pan Zhi had found something good, he’d shove a bunch of it to Jiang Cheng too.

  It was refreshing, to say the least, to see Gu Fei place a handful of candy on his desk for him to pick from.

  There was coffee candy, milk candy, mint candy, fruit candy…… and all these were divided further still into soft and hard candies. He stared for a while, and finally picked out a milk candy.

  He had only just opened the wrapper, when Gu Fei reached out and took away the rest of it.

  ”The fuck?” Jiang Cheng was shook, then he remembered that Gu Fei had said “take your pick”, not “take it all”. The logic was irrefutable, he immediately conceded, but couldn’t help but look at him. “Do you cheap out like this today so you can have Wang Jianlin prostrate at your feet tomorrow?” [1]

  Gu Fei did not reply. He looked down at the sweets in his hand, picked out the other two milk candies and placed them in front of Jiang Cheng, then put the rest back in his pocket.

  ……Weirdo!

  Jiang Cheng unwrapped all three pieces of milk candies, stuffed them in his mouth, and could think of nothing else to say.

  The English teacher’s surname was Lu. He was better than Lao-Xu at keeping the students’ attention and maintaining a quiet class, because he knew how to yell. It had a better effect.

  Despite the fact that all the teachers he had met today were not comparable to the teachers he had in the past, the entire period taught by teacher Lu was invigorating like no other. Even when someone was scratching an itch, he would jab the pointer stick at the student and ask if they needed help scratching. It had been a long time since Jiang Cheng was so focused on a lecture, since after all, if his attention ever wandered, it would no doubt be shocked back to reality.

  The classroom became rowdy as soon as the bell rang, as if they simply could not hold it in anymore. Some people even gave a few howls as they stretched their backs.

  ”You!” Teacher Lu suddenly jabbed the pointer stick at the back of the classroom. “Come with me.”

  This point and this “you” covered a fairly wide range, everyone once again whipped their heads around one by one. Jiang Cheng did not pay much attention to it when he felt a bunch of eyes on him. He was a new transfer, the teachers could hardly recall his name……

  ”Gu Fei!” Teacher Lu yelled again.

  ”……Ay,” Gu Fei had been looking down at his phone and, at the sound of this roar, his phone clattered to the ground. He glanced up at teacher Lu, then gestured with his head at Jiang Cheng. “It’s you.”

  ”Hm?” Jiang Cheng froze. “Me?”

  ”Yes, you! Gu Fei’s deskmate!” Teacher Lu’s stick was pointing at him again, and several heads immediately under it quickly moved away.

  Jiang Cheng had no choice but to stand up, he wondered what this English teacher wanted from him.

  However, as he walked towards the classroom door, he looked back at Wang Xu, who had also stood up. If the teacher hadn’t called him away, they would have been battling it out by now.

  ”The name is Jiang Cheng, right?” Teacher Lu turned and started heading downstairs.

  ”Yes sir,” Jiang Cheng answered and followed after him. “What do you want to see me about?”

  ”Your Xu-zong has been showing off to me for days, saying that a capital real overachiever had arrived here……” Teacher Lu said.

  ”What? A capital what?” Jiang Cheng was confused.

  ”A capital, Real, overachiever.” Teacher Lu gave him a look and explained. “Do you not get it?”

  A Real overachiever.

  ”……I get it now.” It was the first time Jiang Cheng heard someone actually saying the capitalization out loud.

  ”Our school used to be a general high school, before it got turned into a vocational school, then changed back to a general high school again,” Teacher Lu said. “So it can’t compare to your old school, but I hope you won’t be affected. Just continue studying the way you were doing it before.”

  ”Oh.” Jiang Cheng thought about how he studied in the past, and figured the teacher probably did not know him very well.

  ”So students like Wang Xu, like Gu Fei, try not to mess with them, they’re all here to while away the time.” Teacher Lu said. “If I didn’t call you out, he’d be looking to pick trouble with you right about now, and wouldn’t give up until he comes out carrying another demerit point on his head. He has a penalty on his records already.”

“……Oh.” Jiang Cheng nodded. It would appear that this teacher Lu actually cared a lot about his students.

  “You’re not gonna thank me?” Teacher Lu shot him a displeased look.

  “Thank you.” Jiang Cheng said.

  “Your English grades were pretty top notch, why don’t you be the student rep of English class.” Teacher Lu immediately said. “Your English class student rep at the moment is Yi Jing, she’s the class leader, and also the student rep for language class……”

  “Hm?” Jiang Cheng blinked, then very quickly shook his head. “Nope.”

  “Why not?” Teacher Lu was a little surprised. “I heard Lao-Xu say you used to be class leader too, you wouldn’t think a student rep for one class is too much work, right?”

  “I was also only the class leader for one semester.” Jiang Cheng said.

  “How come?” Teacher Lu asked.

  Jiang Cheng shot him a glance, “Because I got into fights and skipped class.”

  Teacher Lu’s eyes bulged as he opened his mouth, but nothing came out.

  “I can go back to class now?” Jiang Cheng said.

  “You……hold on.” Teacher Lu thought about it for a moment. “How about you come work on some course materials for me some day when you get time?”

  Jiang Cheng let out a sigh in his heart. He wanted to say he did not have a computer at the moment, but figured this teacher Lu was a pretty good person, and if he rejected him once it would be hard to do it a second time, so he nodded.

  “Alright,” Teacher Lu grinned. “Go back to class then.”

  “Fuck, what’s taking him so long,” Wang Xu said from his perch on Jiang Cheng’s desk. “Is he avoiding me, does he think he can just hide from this!”

  “Lao-Lu wants him for something probably.” Zhou Jing said.

  “What the hell could he possibly want, when did you ever see Lao-Lu ask something of a student! He was no doubt just asking some questions to get to know the new transfer, and after that the asshole didn’t dare come back to class!” Wang Xu said.

  “You’re planning to deal with it here?” Gu Fei, who had been quietly playing a game on his phone this whole time, finally asked.

  “No shit!” Wang Xu bowed his head and ran his fingers through his hair in irritation. “Fuck!”

  Gu Fei set his phone down and shot a glance at him.

  “……Or, where else should it be?” Wang Xu was a little hesitant.

  “None of my business,” Gu Fei said. “Just don’t bring your mess around here, damn annoying don’t you think?”

  “What if you just forget it,” Zhou Jing said. “You both got each other once, it’s even.”

  “Your great uncle it’s even!” Wang Xu turned and glared at Zhou Jing.

  “You can go down to the field or you can do it outside of school,” Gu Fei continued playing with his game. “Just not next to me, it’s annoying.”

  “He’s back.” Zhou Jing said.

  Gu Fei looked up, sweeping his gaze across the front of the room, and sure enough Jiang Cheng was slowly ambling up with both hands in his pockets and eyes on Wang Xu.

  “Hiding from me, are ya?” Wang Xu sneered. “The bell hasn’t even rung and you dare to come back?”

  “Three things.” Jiang Cheng said.

  Wang Xu looked at him as though not quite comprehending what he just said.

  “One: get down.” Jiang Cheng said as he stuck out an index finger, then proceeded to stick up another finger. “Two: whoever started it is the low piece of shit.”

  Wang Xu finally snapped out of it. He glared, and was just about to say something when Jiang Cheng cut him off and stuck out three fingers, “Three: just come straight out and say how you want to resolve this, if you’re just gonna keep blabbing on then I’ll let you win.”

  As he said this, everyone in class who was waiting to watch the show all quieted down.

  They were all waiting to see Wang Xu’s reaction.

  Gu Fei tilted his head back and, leaning against the wall, gave a little whistle.

  Based on Gu Fei’s many years of experience as a popcorn-eating bystander, Jiang Cheng’s words and the way he carried himself as he said those words immediately rendered Wang Xu’s future path as big boss a little shaky.

  The expression on Wang Xu’s face was incomprehensible. Jiang Cheng couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but he did not miss the quick glance Wang Xu shot at Gu Fei the first chance he got. That, he saw very clearly.

  Wang Xu was scared of Gu Fei, or maybe he subconsciously viewed Gu Fei as someone to lean on.

  Ever since Jiang Cheng saw Not A Good Bird at Gu Fei’s store that day, he knew that the somewhat polite and mellow appearance of “it’s all none of my business” that Gu Fei put up was only that, an appearance. 

  Tsk.

  What’s up with this guy pretending to be some old immortal wandering on the fringe of society or something.

  “I’ll be waiting for you after class at lunchtime.” Wang Xu hopped off the desk, then as he walked back to his own seat, turned and pointed a finger at Jiang Cheng. “And don’t you run away.”

  “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng answered, and sat down.

  After some thought, he turned and asked Gu Fei, “Is that guy the big boss of your class?”

  He only then realized that the rest note on the left side of Gu Fei’s head, shaved onto his closely clipped hair, was made up of three dots: it was a 32nd note rest.

  “Something like that.” Said Gu Fei.

  “What do you mean something like that?” Jiang Cheng said.

  “It means, he will fight whoever says he isn’t.” Gu Fei’s eyes were still glued to his phone, his fingers busy swiping around on the screen.

  Jiang Cheng saw that the game he was playing was Aixiaochu, the kind of thing he only played in middle school whenever he needed to kill some time but had nothing else to play.

  Whereas Gu Fei either spent his time watching short videos or playing this thing, and seemed rather into it too. Ah, idiot.

  “You like playing that?” Jiang Cheng couldn’t help saying.

  “Mhm it doesn’t take a lot of brainpower.” Gu Fei said. “It’s not like I’m an overachiever or anything.”

  Jiang Cheng had already been feeling irritated at everything that happened that morning, and at these words, he almost landed a punch directly on that 32nd rest note.

  One reason he clenched his jaw and stopped himself was that Gu Fei had helped him when he passed out the other day, and the second reason was that he ate three of Gu Fei’s milk candies just now…… if that even counts as a reason?

  “It’s courage in and of itself to face one’s own hollowed brain head-on,” He said. “Good for you.”

  Gu Fei turned, took one long look at him without any expression, and said in a rather obnoxious tone of voice, “Good luck at lunch time eh~”

  Eh your great uncle’s big yellow dog!

  Fuck.

  Jiang Cheng didn’t listen much to class for the rest of the morning. His chest felt tight. Even after he put the family of three into his blacklist, he couldn’t help but continue to go back and tap into their timelines.

  It was true that they did not have a good relationship, and it was true that things were tense, but that was the ‘home’ he had had for more than ten years. It was the ‘family’ he had seen every single day and had carved into his memory. He was not yet able to simply throw these sentiments away.

  However, it seemed as though no one was affected by his absence, or rather his permanent departure…… Or perhaps it was simply not shown?

  Seeing the calm on the other side made him feel even more miserable than being pushed out of the home he had been in for more than ten years.

  He slumped over the desk, stuffed a hat under his head, and closed his eyes. Forget it, he thought as he decided to take a little nap. Despite not being someone who must be in their own bed in order to fall asleep, he hadn’t slept well ever since he got here.

  Li Baoguo’s house was much too old and run-down, on top of which, the guy lived like an utter slob. Therefore there were not only cockroaches and spiders, there were also mice. Jiang Cheng had listened to the sounds of mice scurrying around the apartment all night, and felt as though he was living in a dumpster.

  The teachers at Fourth High were much more understanding than his previous teachers when it came to slacking off during class. He slept all the way through breaks between classes without once lifting his head, and not a single teacher came to disturb him.

  It wasn’t until the ending bell for the last class of the morning sounded, and Wang Xu slammed a palm onto his desk, that he straightened up with a yawn, his back felt a little stiff from the posture.

  “Let’s go.” Wang Xu glared sideways at him.

  Jiang Cheng did not speak as he stuffed all his books and notebooks into the desk drawer, and stood up with his backpack.

  Wang Xu pivoted around with a flourish, and walked toward the backdoor of the classroom. If it wasn’t for the down jacket he was wearing and the fact that there was no breeze, it would certainly evoke the kind of air that said “oho the big boss is coming”.

  There were three or four people who followed by his side, judging by their excitement they could be his little assistants. The other people who only wanted to watch the show did not yet have a chance to catch up.

  “Hey.” Jiang Cheng called from behind them.

  “Are you chickening out?” Wang Xu immediately replied.

  “Are you bringing these people as your teammates, or your cheerleaders?” Jiang Cheng asked.

  Wang Xu glanced at the people beside him, then stared back at Jiang Cheng, “What, scared?”

  “Cheerleaders are fine with me,” Jiang Cheng swept his gaze over them and said as he walked up. “But if they’re going to fight, then make sure you get the order straight among yourselves first.”

  “You guys, don’t follow.” Wang Xu waved his hand.

  “Are you gonna watch?” Zhou Jing nudged the desk.

  Gu Fei was still playing the Aixiaochu that only people without overachiever brains liked to play, and finally stood up after he finished a round, “Nope.”

  “Let’s just go take a look, aren’t you worried something will go wrong?” Zhou Jing said.

  “Even if it does, why would that be my problem?” Gu Fei stuffed his phone in his pocket and walked away.

  When he got downstairs, those friends of Wang Xu’s were still cranking their heads in the direction of the back gate. There was no sign of Jiang Cheng and Wang Xu anywhere.

  “Da-Fei……” One of them immediately came up to him.

  “Shhh,” Gu Fei put a finger to his lips. “Don’t bother me.”

  Elementary students had yet to start class for the semester, so Gu Miao had probably been waiting at the gate for him since an hour ago. He didn’t have the time to watch Wang Xu get beaten up.

  That’s right, he was that certain that when Wang Xu went up against Jiang Cheng, getting beaten up was his only option.

  That indifference in Jiang Cheng’s eyes was something that Wang Xu didn’t have. Not to mention, the displeasure that was written densely all over his face was enough to scare off someone with trypophobia. Either something happened recently that left him in a funk, or there was something chronically wrong with the guy’s psyche.

  How could Wang Xu, a kid who harboured a naive dream of ruling the streets, possibly go up against a psycho in a bad mood?

  A green head flew past Gu Fei like a gust of wind as soon as he walked out of the school gate, and a chorus of surprised “wow~” rang out around him.

  Gu Fei fetched his bike from the bike shed, and as soon as he got on, Gu Miao once again flew past like the wind, pausing beside him for only two seconds, and took away a fistful of candies from his pocket.

  By the time he pedaled his bike to the intersection, Gu Miao was standing at the side of the road, peeling open a wrapper. She had picked out all of the fruit candies.

  “I’ll take you back?” Gu Fei asked. “Or do you want to trail behind?”

  Gu Miao picked up her skateboard, and just as she was about to jump onto the back seat, he reached out a hand to stop her, taking instead her chin in one hand and peered at a small wound near one of her eyes, “Is that from a scrape or from a fight?”

  “Scrape.” Gu Miao said.

  “Get on.” Gu Fei didn’t keep pressing.

  Gu Miao got onto the back seat with her skateboard in her arms, then held onto his waist.

  It might have been a scrape, or it might have been from a fight. Either way, the little lass was stubborn as hell, it was useless to even ask, and he couldn’t nag her too much either. She preferred to take care of her own business, even if it meant getting roughed up.

  “What do you say we go buy a pair of gloves for you,” Gu Fei pushed down on the pedal. “Those little leather ones you wanted last time?”

  Gu Miao quickly took off the dirty down-filled gloves she was wearing and waved her thumb at him.

  The streets outside the back gate of Fourth High were more bustling than the front gate, strangely enough.

  It was probably because outside the back gate was a smaller street, and didn’t have as strict of a street committee. All kinds of stalls and make-shift stands lined the street one next to the other, most of which sold food, and business was booming.

  As Jiang Cheng followed Wang Xu through the various aromas and smells, he felt the urge to say “how about I treat you to some food first……”

  Although, seeing that expression of indignant anger and look of determination on Wang Xu’s face, Jiang Cheng held his tongue. He was afraid to spur the guy to tears.

  This is a tour then, he thought, and decided to come back later to eat.

  There were quite a lot that appealed to him, all kinds of grilled meats for example: fatty veal, pork belly, lamb, kidneys, and tendons.

  Jiang Cheng swallowed.

  After they walked past the street, the smells disappeared too. He wondered where Wang Xu was taking him.

  “Are we going hiking?” He asked, hunger was making him cranky.

  Wang Xu didn’t pay him any attention, but a few steps later he suddenly stopped, and frowned as he looked ahead.

  Jiang Cheng followed his gaze.

  A few meters away from them, standing on the side of the road, were three people, all looking their way with hands in their pockets. After he and Wang Xu both looked in that direction, they slowly walked over.

  Wang Xu reached a hand into his own pocket.

  “What,” A tall lanky guy who looked like he had been starving for more than ten years grinned. “Are you going to call Gu Fei? He just went home with his little sister, probably won’t bother with your troubles.”

  “What do you want!” Wang Xu said impatiently in a thick voice.

  “Oho,” The tall skinny guy put on an exaggerated expression of surprise. “We got spine today huh, not gonna run?”

  He proceeded to shoot a glance at Jiang Cheng, “This your new buddy? Must be damn impressive, with him here you don’t even need to run away.”

  “In the past it’s a whole bunch of them all running together, huffing and puffing haha.” Someone laughed and said from behind the tall skinny guy.

  The tall skinny guy looked at the two of them with a face full of mockery, “How about I count to three and you can……”

  Jiang Cheng’s fist connected with the guy’s nose.

  This punch not only smashed away his words, but also turned everyone on both sides to stone.

  Jiang Cheng didn’t stop there, it was important in these matters to be decisive and quick.

  After the first punch, he grabbed the tall skinny guy’s hat covered head and, pulling it down, lifted a knee to meet it.

  Both times he hadn’t used a lot of force. In his experience, the nose wouldn’t break, but blood would surely gush out, creating an effect that looked like ketchup smeared all over one’s mouth.

  Just as he thought, when he released his grasp and shoved the guy back, blood came gushing out of his nose, and out of reflex, he lifted a hand and wiped it……

  Jiang Cheng glanced at Wang Xu, stepped forward and knocked his shoulder into the arm of another guy who was probably about to pull a knife, then for good measure, butted his head against the guy’s nose.

  The guy yelped and covered his nose with his hands.

  “Run, dumbass!” Jiang Cheng shouted at Wang Xu before setting off into a sprint.

  Wang Xu paused for a moment, then hurried to catch up with him.

  “This way.” At an intersection, Wang Xu pointed to the left.

  Jiang Cheng followed him, making many twists and turns until they were deep in a hutong, then turned a few more times until they stopped in a clear area surrounded by the back walls of other people’s courtyards. 

  “What’s this place?” Jiang Cheng looked around. They were in a dead end hutong, on three sides were courtyard walls, looking decrepit with piles of snow and fallen branches gathered in clumps on the ground, and all sorts of trash.

  “This is……” Wang Xu took a minute to catch his breath. “Where I go when I schedule fights with other people.”

  “What unique taste you got.” Jiang Cheng said.

  “Um,” Wang Xu looked at him and hesitated for a long time, then finally said, “Thanks……for just now.”

  “Why thank me,” Jiang Cheng pulled out a cigarette from his pocket and put it between his lips. “It’s not like I did it for you.”

  Wang Xu stared at him, “Fuck. Are you really an overachiever?”

  “Let’s get this over with,” Jiang Cheng checked the time. “I’m hungry, let’s hurry it up so I can go eat.”

  “It’s done.” Wang Xu sat down on a three-legged stool nearby that looked so tattered it could well be a prop in a haunted house. “There’s no problem between us anymore.”

  Jiang Cheng tsked audibly, “Then I’m leaving.”

  “Wait a little longer,” Wang Xu called out. “Monkey’s probably still around, they got the numbers, if you go out now you’ll run into them.”

  Jiang Cheng didn’t speak.

  “Really, there’s three that you saw just now. You left Monkey with a face covered with blood, when you go back out there it’s definitely not just gonna be the three of them anymore, I’ll……get someone to come help.” Wang Xu pulled out his phone.

  Jiang Cheng remembered what the tall skinny guy said earlier. He furrowed his brows and asked, “Who are you calling?”

  “Da-Fei.” Said Wang Xu.

  “The fuck? Gu Fei?” Immediately, Jiang Cheng felt his face drop all over the ground in little pieces.


Footnotes
[1] Wang Jianlin: once the richest man in China >

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5589
  • TL word count: 4229
  • TL time: 4:25:23
  • Edit time: 0:45:14
  • Curse words: 6x fucks, 2x shits, 2x asses