Tsk.


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

         If Jiang Cheng hadn’t blown up, Gu Fei would probably never speak this out loud. He would rather let it rot in his guts. Even the occasional acid regurgitation made him feel sick to his stomach, let alone telling the whole thing like this. For Jiang Cheng to hear.

         But since he started talking, there was not much he held back. Aside from unimportant details like how Xiao-Bing and the others actually placed bets on him that day.

         Gu Fei was afraid of a lot of things. Sometimes he didn’t even notice it himself. Or rather he had been subconsciously harbouring the fear for a long time, and would suddenly jolt awake in realization.

         He was afraid that Jiang Cheng would pity him, that he would feel bad for him, that he might form some notion of rescuing him from a miserable circumstance, or have the kind of restrictive thought such as “I can never ever hurt him”.

         Jiang Cheng was naive and impulsive. Gu Fei liked that about him, but he was also scared of Jiang Cheng as he was: too naive, too reckless.

         He came here without a care, so he should get to leave without a care.

         Everything in this place was scenery that was never meant to appear along his journey.

         Tomato and egg noodle soup was supposed to be Gu Fei’s foolproof recipe. It tasted alright, but Li Yan said that these were holy grail ingredients that tasted good no matter how they were prepared. He then added later that “occasionally for you, it didn’t work”.

         Today was one of those times it didn’t work. Gu Fei wasn’t in a good place emotionally. When he tasted for seasoning, he could hardly taste the salt. But perhaps because Jiang Cheng was hungry from the hours of photoshoot before getting into a fit of anger, he nevertheless happily slurped away at the noodles.

         “Is it time for you to take Gu Miao to treatment?” Jiang Cheng finished his bowl, set the chopsticks down, and asked with satisfaction on his face.

         “Mhm,” Gu Fei nodded as he got up and collected the dishes to wash. “After you get Pan Zhi this afternoon, you guys just go ahead and eat. I have to talk with my mom tonight.”

         “I’ll wash.” Jiang Cheng held down his hand. “Talk about what?”

         “She hasn’t been coming back at night for the last few days,” Gu Fei said. “Who knows if she’s found her one true love again. I have to track her down at home before she goes out.”

         Jiang Cheng sighed, “Ay……momma gonna marry.” [1] 

         “It’d be great if she can actually get married.” Gu Fei said. “Right now I’m just thankful that she didn’t become a homewrecker in someone else’s marriage.”

         Gu Fei glanced at the time. Gu Miao must be all packed and waiting for him at home right about now. He leaned in and kissed Jiang Cheng, “I’m going then.”

         “Hurry up and get lost.” Jiang Cheng squeezed his waist. “Disappear from my sight right this second.”

         “Put the pillow away.” Gu Fei said. “If Pan Zhi sleeps on that pillow, we’re really gonna have to schedule a fight.”

         Jiang Cheng tilted his head back and laughed with his eyes closed, “Got it! For sure Pan Zhi sleeps on the sofa. He won’t agree even if I tell him to sleep on the bed.”

         “Then I’m going now.” Gu Fei kissed him again.

         “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng replied. “Is it alright if Pan Zhi and I go watch a movie together? Sometimes when we get really bored we’d go watch a movie.”

         “Can you buy seats so that there’s another person between you?” Gu Fei asked.

         Jiang Cheng giggled, “Geez.”

         “I’m going now then.” Gu Fei glanced at his phone.

         “You’ve said it three times,” Jiang Cheng said. “Will you be able to walk out of this door before you say it for the tenth time?”

         “Of course,” Gu Fei walked over to his bags and picked it up while chuckling. “Leaving now.”

         “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng turned and watched him.

         Gu Fei walked out of the apartment, then right before the door closed he stuck his head in again, “Really going now.”

         “Damnit, hurry up and go.” Jiang Cheng glared at him. “You’re making me want to beat you up.”

         Gu Fei retreated outside, set his bags on the ground, then suddenly charged through the door. Jiang Cheng was still leaning back in the chair. He rushed over and lifted Jiang Cheng’s shirt, bit down on his belly, then swift as the wind charged back out again, closing the door behind him.

         As Gu Fei was running down the stairs with his bags, he heard Jiang Cheng open the door and roar into the stairwell, “Fuck!”

         Gu Fei still felt like laughing even after he got downstairs. He was just about to glance up at the window, but as soon as he turned his head, he saw something shoot down from above, landing precisely next to his feet before bouncing away.

         He narrowed his eyes at it, and saw that it was a little white pebble.

         “Shit.” He chuckled and looked up.

         Jiang Cheng was leaning on his windowsill, with what looked like a handful of pebbles in his hand, probably snatched from the flowerpot by the window just now. Just as Gu Fei looked up, Jiang Cheng immediately waved his hand again, and another pebble pelted toward him, still landing precisely by his feet.

         “Hey!” Gu Fei backed away. He didn’t think Jiang Cheng’s throw would be so accurate even without a slingshot.

         Though after he backed away a stretch, he seemed to be out of Jiang Cheng’s reach. Jiang Cheng mimed with his hand, but didn’t end up throwing another pebble.

         Gu Fei laughed as he pulled his glasses from his pocket and put them on. He wanted to see Jiang Cheng’s expression.

         As soon as he put the glasses on, he saw Jiang Cheng had an elastic in his hand. Jiang Cheng drew it back with two fingers, and started aiming at him.

         “Fuck!” Gu Fei turned to run.

         He only managed to take two steps when he felt a pebble hit his buttcheek. It wasn’t hard, but the location was…… He turned his head as he ran.

         Jiang Cheng stood at the window, and raised his arms over his head to make a heart.

         Gu Fei felt like he had a smile hanging on his face the whole way home.

         When he got Pan Zhi’s call, Jiang Cheng was crouching under a tree outside the train station, sucking on a bag of frozen fruit pop. 

         “You’re here?” 

         “Soon,” Pan Zhi said. “You’ve left, right?”

         “I’ve been crouching outside the exit gate for the last ten minutes.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “Oh shit,” Pan Zhi was overflowing with sentimental feeling. “I’m so so so touched, Cheng-er! Ain’t no mountain high enough, to keep me from getting to you……”

         Jiang Cheng hung up and continued slurping on the ice.

         Since he only had two days, Pan Zhi didn’t pack very much this time. He sprinted out from the exit gate with only a backpack.

         Jiang Cheng stood up and waved at him. Pan Zhi came charging over with wide open arms and kicking legs.

         He quickly turned a little and adjusted his stance, readying himself into a half-squat to offset the momentum of Pan Zhi’s assault.

         “Did ya miss me!” Pan Zhi yelled.

         “Nope.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “I love how your mouth doesn’t match your heart.” Pan Zhi said.

         “I did.” Jiang Cheng corrected himself.

         “I love how you always say what you mean.” Pan Zhi immediately countered.

         “Were you chatting to a pretty girl the whole way here or something,” Jiang Cheng glanced at him. “That you’re still going on and on even now.”

         “Indeed I talked the whole way, but it was an auntie, not a pretty girl. She was way too chatty.” Pan Zhi sighed. “She sat across the aisle from me, and talked everyone on that side to sleep, so she turned to talk to me. I was the only one in this row with my eyes still open, and couldn’t find an opportunity to close them, so I had to keep her company…… Ayy I’m parched, let me have a sip of that.”

         Pan Zhi reached out and took away the frozen fruit pop from Jiang Cheng’s hands. He took a giant slurp, but got nothing but air and noise, “Fucking hell grandpa do you know what it feels like to come at this with a mouthful of hope and getting nothing at all!”

         “Come on,” Jiang Cheng laughed. “I’ll treat you to all you can drink.” 

         There was nothing especially refined in the area around the train station. Jiang Cheng found a concession stall, bought two bottles of cola, and sat down on a bench outside with Pan Zhi and slowly drank it.

         “Ah……” Pan Zhi exclaimed contentedly after taking a few big swigs, then stared at Jiang Cheng for a while before saying. “You’re positively glowing eh, gramps.”

         Jiang Cheng glanced at him and didn’t reply.

         “Looking very obviously different from us single dogs now.” Pan Zhi said.

         “Even when I was a single dog I was different from single dogs like you.” Jiang Cheng said as he took a drink.

         “Right, handsome overachiever single dog…… Oh yeah,” Pan Zhi extended his bottle of cola and knocked it against Jiang Cheng’s. “Happy birthday.”

         “Thank you.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “There’s something for you in my bag that I think you’d like.” Pan Zhi reached back and patted his bag. “Wanna take a guess?”

         “Condoms.” Jiang Cheng replied without thinking.

         Pan Zhi had his head cranked back as he poured cola into his mouth, and choked upon hearing this. He put his head down in a coughing fit, then wiped the soda off his face with the tissue Jiang Cheng just handed him, before looking up again, “Holy fuck. You’re real open these days eh, gramps.”

“It’s not that I’m open,” Jiang Cheng laughed. “It’s that I think you’ve always been very open.”

         “These days I’ve abandoned my wicked ways and decided to see the light.” Pan Zhi paused to catch his breath. “It’s not condoms, guess again.”

         “You’ve given me a tin whistle already so you probably won’t get that again. After you abandoned your wicked ways, you gifted me a pen……” Jiang Cheng pondered for a while, then tsked audibly. “Don’t tell me you got me a set of five-threes.” [2]

         “I’m not that enlightened.” Pan Zhi said. “I’ll show you when we get to your place later.”

         When they got back to his apartment, as Pan Zhi pulled the gift box out from his bag, Jiang Cheng finally understood why he wanted to wait until they were inside to take it out.

         It was a pink heart-shaped box, adorned all around with tiny red hearts glimmering with rhinestones, and on top of which there was a gigantic bow in the center…… If Pan Zhi really pulled this thing out in the middle of the street, he might be too embarrassed to accept it.

         “What the hell is wrong with your aesthetic?” Jiang Cheng exclaimed earnestly.

         “This is a protest of my loss of favour!” Pan Zhi said as he cradled the box. “A protest of you prioritizing romance over friendship! A protest of you shunning the years long intergenerational bond between us! A protest of……”

         “Thank you.” Jiang Cheng interrupted, and took the box from his hands.

         It was a rather large box. He shook it gently. The content of the box was very heavy, making clunking sounds against the box as he shook it. With this noise and this weight, Jiang Cheng had a pretty good guess of what it might be.

         He opened the lid. Just as he thought, it was a slingshot.

         “Damn, you could’ve at least cushioned it with something, this is not at all sincere.” Jiang Cheng laughed. The box was completely empty aside from the slingshot, lying there all on its lonesome. 

         “Thunderstrike, reverse curvature wrist support, a perfect fusion of 304 steel and a red sandalwood handle, giving you the joy of experiencing fierce critical assault in the great outdoor……” Pan Zhi prattled off the specs as if reciting from a textbook. “So, do you like it?”

         “I do.” Jiang Cheng took out the slingshot and weighed it in his hand.

         “I also bought the sling band for you. No doubt such a cool gadget needs a good quality band.” Pan Zhi pulled a sack out of his backpack, inside it was a roll of sling band. “This is from North Star, you said before that this brand is good, right?”

         “Mhm,” Jiang Cheng took the sack, and laughed as he peered inside. It was enough that the heart shaped box was pink with rhinestones, but even the sling band was a flamboyant purple. “Did you go through some especially painful yet unspeakable experience recently?”

         “Well I had to pick a more unique colour when it costs so much! How would the value show through if it’s just beige!” Pan Zhi pointed at the sack. “Now this, as soon as you pull it out, everyone will know, OHO this guy’s a master, even his sling is a ho……”

         “A homo purple huh?” Jiang Cheng leaned back on the sofa in a fit of laughter. “Grandson, I can see that you really are getting tired of being alive.”

         “No, not at all gramps, look at my very genuine eyes,” Pan Zhi sat down beside him. “The first time I ever heard the term ‘homo purple’ was actually from you!”

         Jiang Cheng smiled, and took out the sling band, giving it a little tug, “Thank you.”

         “What’s with all this civility, over and over too,” Pan Zhi raised his arms up in a stretch. “We’ve grown apart.”

         “Nah,” Jiang Cheng said. “I’m being very earnest. Also, you coming here, it makes me really happy.”

         “Really?” Pan Zhi glanced at him in satisfaction. “How many days did you take off to keep me company?”

         “No need to take days off,” Jiang Cheng said. “We’re still on summer break here.”

         “Holy shit!” Pan Zhi yelled. “No cram school?”

         “We still have a week before cram school starts.” Jiang Cheng looked at him. “Jealous?”

         “Of course I’m jealous, it’s not like I’m an overachiever or anything.” Pan Zhi said, then after thinking about it, squeezed next to him again. “But wait, does that mean you guys are behind then?”

         “For sure,” Jiang Cheng got out a pair of scissors and cut a length of sling band, and started to slowly tie it onto the slingshot. “But I’ll just review on my own.”

         “Right, I brought a bunch of question mock tests for you, and textbooks. It’s all gotten through the school, these can’t be bought anywhere. I was originally gonna photocopy it, but Lao-Yuan gave me a whole separate set and told me to mail it to you.” Pan Zhi dragged his backpack over, pulled out a thick stack of study materials, and set it on Jiang Cheng’s lap.

         The pile of things on his lap was very heavy, but Jiang Cheng suddenly got a feeling like he was standing on solid ground.

         It was a kind of feeling most people probably wouldn’t be able to sympathize with. It wasn’t just about the university entrance exams, but more so the sense of direction these things brought with them.

         Jiang Cheng had nothing planned for that evening. To be precise, he had no plans for the entire two days that Pan Zhi would be here.

         Although Pan Zhi had no special demands for ‘fun’. In the past, the two of them often skipped class to go nowhere in particular. They would just sit down by a streetside flowerbed and space out for a whole day.

         Pan Zhi had no specific demands for food either. After thinking about it for a long time, he ended up asking to eat the fried rice cakes from last time.

         “Let’s ask Gu Fei to come with,” Pan Zhi took his phone out. “And that cute baby sister of his?”

         “He’s busy tonight, no need to call him.” Jiang Cheng said. “We’ll eat by ourselves.”

         “Alrighty,” Pan Zhi put his phone away in his pocket, then said with a lowered voice. “Are you two living together right now? Maybe I should go to the hotel later?”

         “We’re not living together.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “There’s no need to pretend in front of me,” Pan Zhi shot a glance at the bedroom. “Last time I came here it was still one single pillow, and now you’ve even got a double pillow.”

         It was only then that Jiang Cheng remembered that he forgot to put the pillow away like the boyfriend requested. He thought his face was already as thick as a fortress by now, that he didn’t even hesitate when saying “condom” out in public, but when Pan Zhi pointed it out like this, he was suddenly a little embarrassed.

         Looking at that pillow…… Even though he and Gu Fei hadn’t yet had the chance to do anything on the alleged ultra durable pillow, but the bed alone was like the scene of crime itself. Just one glance, and frames upon frames of lewd inappropriate moments emerged in his mind. He sheepishly turned away and opened the front door, “Come on, let’s go eat.”

         When they were sitting down eating the fried rice cakes, Jiang Cheng also ordered some beer. After all, he and Pan Zhi hadn’t seen each other for ages……though it probably hadn’t been very long. Either way, they were reuniting after time apart, it called for a drink.

         “Let’s drink white,” Pan Zhi said. “You’re a legal adult now.” [3]

         “Why the hell would we drink white on such a hot day,” Jiang Cheng opened a bottle of beer with his teeth, and set it down in front of Pan Zhi. “How are we supposed to talk tonight if we’re all drunk.”

         Pan Zhi smiled, “You’ve been here for so long, I thought you’d go straight for the white for sure.”

         “This short period of time isn’t enough to influence me.” Jiang Cheng opened a bottle for himself with his teeth, and took a swig.

         “That’s good, and you’ll be gone before you do get influenced.” Pan Zhi nodded.

         Jiang Cheng’s hand paused ever so slightly in the air.

         “What?” Pan Zhi noticed the subtle stall in his motion. “Won’t you be gone after the exams next year?”

         “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng answered.

         Pan Zhi picked up a piece of rice cake and put it in his mouth. After a while, he glanced up at Jiang Cheng again, “Cheng-er, don’t tell me you don’t want to leave anymore?”

         “No way,” Jiang Cheng answered. “Of course not.”

         “You better not.” Pan Zhi put his head down and took another couple of bites. “Dating is dating, but you gotta keep at least a tiny shred of reason.”

         Jiang Cheng smiled, “You think I only have a tiny shred of reason left?”

         “Not theoretically,” Pan Zhi looked at him. “But I also don’t know what you’re like when you’re really in a relationship, I’m just a little worried.”

         “Relax, this isn’t something you need to worry about.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “Mhm,” Pan Zhi smiled and nodded. “Why don’t you get Gu Fei to put in a little more effort too. There’s no chance of you two ending up in the same school, but it’d be good if you can at least go to the same city. That way you won’t have to play out the tearful long distance goodbye trope when the time comes.”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t say anything.

         His chest suddenly tightened at Pan Zhi’s words. They were but ordinary words. It wouldn’t be out of place coming from anyone, but it suddenly made him very scared.

         “What’s wrong?” Pan Zhi looked at him.

         “Nothing.” Jiang Cheng shook his head.

         “You two aren’t having problems, are you?” Pan Zhi asked.

         “Nope.” Jiang Cheng replied.

         This time it was Pan Zhi’s turn to be quiet. He looked at Jiang Cheng, not sure what exactly else to ask.

         “I haven’t thought that far ahead.” Jiang Cheng said. “Well, it’s not like I haven’t thought about it, just not in much detail.”

         “Wait, gramps,” Pan Zhi was a little confused. “It’s not that far ahead, is it? It’s only a year away.”

         “Very far away.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “……Oh.” Pan Zhi opened his mouth to say something, but didn’t end up making any sounds. After a few seconds, he swung the beer bottle in his hand as he asked, “Are you bringing me to watch you take photos tomorrow?”

         “Mhm,” Jiang Cheng nodded. “It’s just a little boring.”

         “Are there female models?” Pan Zhi asked.

         “There are.” Jiang Cheng shot him a look. “All pretty good looking too.”

         “Why would it be boring then,” Pan Zhi immediately said with a smile. “How interesting is that, if by chance or fate I meet one that’s……”

         “And then do long-distance?” Jiang Cheng gave him a side-eye.

         “What’s wrong with long-distance. Anyways, I’m not like you,” Pan Zhi lit a cigarette, and set the pack in front of Jiang Cheng. “No one’s expecting it to last forever. It’s just dating.”

         “Fuckboy.” Jiang Cheng continued to give him the side-eye.

         “……Fine fine, I’m a fuckboy.” Pan Zhi was resigned to this title. He spaced out for a while with the cigarette in his mouth, then as though finally making up his mind, looked at Jiang Cheng and asked, “You’re not really thinking of forever, are you? With Gu Fei.”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t answer. He also pulled out a cigarette and lit it. After two puffs he tapped it, but no ashes fell. He said, “Why not?”

         “You think that’s possible?” Pan Zhi asked him back.

         It was only because the person asking this was Pan Zhi that he didn’t dump a glass of beer directly on the speaker’s face. Instead, something in his chest jolted violently at these words.

         Pan Zhi was his best friend. Normally, no one would abandon their senses to say something like this, only Pan Zhi dared be so forthright with him.

         After dinner they walked around for a while, then went back to the apartment. They each took a shower before collapsing on the sofa, not wanting to move again. They didn’t continue the conversation from earlier, not that there was any way of continuing it.

         And so they chatted about nothing in particular. There was a lot of meaningless bullshit to be said between them. Even just watching TV, they could talk and giggle about any specific dumb moment for at least half an hour.

         “Let’s sleep,” Jiang Cheng checked the time on his phone when he felt tired from talking, and realized it was already past midnight. “I have a photoshoot in the morning, gotta be there at 9 o’clock.”

         “Let me use that single pillow of yours,” Pan Zhi squirmed and shifted his down and laid on the sofa. “Don’t make me use a blanket roll as a pillow again.”

         Jiang Cheng laughed as he retrieved the pillow from his room, “You’re not gonna sleep on the bed with me?”

         “Nah,” Pan Zhi clicked his tongue. “How awkward would it be if Gu Fei checks up on you in the middle of the night. A straight boy like me.”

         Jiang Cheng turned to go back to his room. When he sat down at the edge of his bed, he heard Pan Zhi say in the living room, “Cheng-er, the thing I said before, it might’ve been a little out of line……”

         “It’s not.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “I’m just a little worried. ‘Cos you,” Pan Zhi paused for a beat. “You can’t just treat everything like studying for tests……right.”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t answer.

         “G’night gramps.” Pan Zhi said.

         Jiang Cheng stayed sitting on the edge of his bed. He was very sleepy, but felt like he wouldn’t be able to sleep even if he laid down.

         He picked up his phone and checked his messages. There was nothing from Gu Fei.

         After scrolling through the entirety of their chat history, Jiang Cheng felt like he could hardly keep his eyes open. He crashed down on his pillow, and sent Gu Fei a message.

         – Have you thought about what happens after

         By the time he fell asleep, Gu Fei still hadn’t replied.

         I’m going to start dreaming soon. Jiang Cheng turned over in a sleepy daze. 

         So much for keeping a nerve on for me.

         Tsk.


Footnotes

[1] “Momma gonna marry” is the second half of an old saying, the first part of which is “Rain’s gonna fall”. It’s used to describe things that are inevitable, no matter how much people try to prevent them from happening.
[2] A very expensive set of ultimate university entrance exam study material
[3] White liquor = baijiu

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5848
  • TL word count: 4121
  • TL time: 4:03:23
  • Edit time: 0:46:56
  • Curse words: 6x fucks, 4x shits

TL’s Notes:
I’m…. a little late again orz

Thank you for all your comments last week T__T

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