“Sa Ye.”

Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

         “We gotta wash the sheets.” Jiang Cheng was lying face down against the pillow. He said with his eyes closed.

         “Mhm.” Gu Fei answered.

         “What time is it?” Jiang Cheng asked, eyes still closed.

         “Not yet 11 o’clock.” Gu Fei said. “You still have time to study good sir.”

         Jiang Cheng sighed and climbed out of bed. He stood up, then glanced back at the bed again, “You. Right now. Go change the sheets.”

         “Alright.” Gu Fei nodded while leaning against the headboard.

         “Let’s move it!” Jiang Cheng reached his hands beside Gu Fei’s ears and clapped. “Move along!”

         “……Where did you learn that!” Gu Fei jumped at the sudden clapping. “Did I not move enough for you just now.”

         “Fuck off.” Jiang Cheng grabbed his pyjamas.

         Gu Fei asked after him, “Should I make a sandwich for you as a snack?”

         “Okay.” Jiang Cheng walked out of the bedroom.

         “What kind of dressing would you like?” Gu Fei continued. “Mayonnaise or ketchup or……”

         “No dressing!” Jiang Cheng turned and yelled.

         He could hear Gu Fei’s laughter coming from the bedroom.

         “I’ll smack you if you keep laughing!” Jiang Cheng said.

         Gu Fei’s laughter immediately quieted down.

         After his shower, or more accurately, after he washed all the jam off of him, Jiang Cheng went back to the room. Gu Fei had already changed all the sheets. The sauce covered bedding from before were all folded and placed on a stool.

         There was a little plate on the desk next to his pile of study materials, on it were some ham and lettuce sandwiched between two slices of plain bread, with a glass of milk beside it.

         “I’m going to shower.” Gu Fei said.

         “Mmn.” Jiang Cheng sat down at the desk and grabbed the plate.

         He liked to have night snacks when he studied. Probably due to the extensive brain use, he would start feeling hungry and sleepy around 11 p.m., and only be able to continue after having had something to eat.

         That was the case right now, especially since he not only exerted his brain, but his body as well.

         However, he picked up the sandwich, looked at it, then put it down again. Two slices of toast, with only ham and lettuce in the middle. Gu Fei really did strictly abide by his orders and did not put any dressing on it. But a sandwich like this……

         Elicited no appetite from him at all!

         Just from appearance it looked like it tasted bad.

         Dry bread without any mayonnaise or butter tastes bad even if there are meat and lettuce!

         How unappealing!

         It definitely tastes bad!

         However…… Jiang Cheng glanced at the jars on the side.

         Tsk tsk tsk tsk!

         Dammit, it’s like watching an adult video.

         Even though the jams they used for the lewd activity before have no direct correlation with the sauces in those jars, and it’s not like they used mayonnaise or butter……

         Still, it’s a little difficult to swallow. As soon as he opened his mouth he would be reminded of the graphic and inappropriate scenes.

         That an overachiever, ever since he started hanging out with a slacker, started slipping off into a shameless abyss. No wonder teachers and parents always advised against mixing good students and slackers together.

         Just look!

         Look what happened!

         By the time Gu Fei finished showering and came back to the bedroom, Jiang Cheng was still spacing out at the jars.

         “I also bought some yogurt drink,” Gu Fei got out more bread, quickly laid down some ham and lettuce, then spread some mayonnaise on it and took a big bite. “It’s in the fridge, want some?”

         “Ah,” Jiang Cheng looked at him. “Pretty good appetite you got there, huh.”

         “These aren’t the ones I used before,” Gu Fei pointed at the jars. “I was using blueberry jam and marmalade, and I scooped them out first too, it’s not like……”

         “Gu Fei,” Jiang Cheng looked at him earnestly. “Shut up.”

         Gu Fei smiled at him and didn’t continue. He finished his own sandwich in a few quick bites, then pulled over the plate in front of Jiang Cheng and spread some mayonnaise and butter onto the bread before handing it back to him.

         Jiang Cheng sighed and took a bite. He really was hungry, and watching Gu Fei eat made him even hungrier.

         Having had his night snack, he turned on the lamp, flopped over the desk, and started to toil away.

         Gu Fei turned off the light in the room. He sat on the bed and watched Jiang Cheng with his arms propped against the desk.

         “You wanna copy the homework?” Jiang Cheng tossed the just finished homework to Gu Fei.

         “I’ll copy it tomorrow morning after I get up,” Gu Fei said. “I’m way too sleepy right now.”

         “Your physique is a little lacking huh,” Jiang Cheng said as he went through the questions. “And you have the audacity to have an after-smoke?”

         “I didn’t today.” Gu Fei chuckled.

         “……I forgot too.” Jiang Cheng sighed. “Maybe I should go make up for it after this page.”

         Gu Fei doubled over in laughter.

         As a matter of fact, Jiang Cheng was still very good at concentrating on the questions once he got started, especially the ones Pan Zhi gave him. They were clearly more difficult than the ones from Fourth High. It was satisfying whenever he solved them.

         When he finally looked up after finishing a set of mock tests, he rotated his neck and glanced over at Gu Fei.

         Gu Fei was still sitting at the head of the bed with his elbow on the desk, but he was already asleep.

         Jiang Cheng stood up as quietly as he could, then walked out to the living room with a cigarette in his mouth.

         It was fully dark outside the window. The lights from other homes had all but gone out, leaving only a spot of yellowish street lamp outside.

         Jiang Cheng lit the cigarette and leaned on the windowsill.

         It had been a while since he came here, but every time he noticed the scenery around him, he still felt a faint sense of unfamiliarity. Occasionally it would even feel a little unreal.

         In the span of almost a year, he had gone through not quite a lot, but every single thing was enough for him to remember for the rest of his life.

         At times he would marvel at how he came to move from a large bustling city, a key high school, a not at all warm or comforting but at least normal family, to this place.

         From disorder to having nothing, to…… He turned and glanced toward the bedroom.

         The door to the bedroom was open. He could see a haze of warm glow inside.

         Jiang Cheng stubbed the cigarette, washed up, then returned to his room and sat down at the desk.

         Gu Fei was still asleep, in the same pose as before. He leaned over and gently tapped Gu Fei’s lips with his finger. Gu Fei didn’t move. He reached out his finger again and ever so lightly poked the tip of Gu Fei’s nose. Gu Fei still didn’t move. Jiang Cheng quirked a smile and reached out again for the spot between Gu Fei’s brows.

         “Cheng-ge,” Gu Fei suddenly opened one eye and said with sleep still in his voice. “I want to tell you something.”

         “Ah,” Jiang Cheng immediately withdrew his hand. “Did I wake you?”

         “I wasn’t asleep,” Gu Fei closed his eye again. “I’m just resting my eyes.”

         “Oy,” Jiang Cheng clicked his tongue. “I didn’t even rest my eyes after studying for the whole night, but you’re getting eye fatigue from playing with your phone?”

         “I didn’t play today, this is from watching you.” Gu Fei smiled and picked up his phone to check the time. “Go to sleep Cheng-ge, it’s already past 12 o’clock.”

         “I’ll go to sleep right on time at 1 a.m.” Jiang Cheng said. “Why don’t you go to sleep properly, stop resting your eyes.”

         “Mhm.” Gu Fei shifted downward a little and laid his head on the pillow.

         Jiang Cheng didn’t close his books until 1:30 a.m. He turned the lamp off and felt his way to bed in the dark. Gu Fei was probably in a deep sleep by now. He laid down carefully for fear of waking him.

         Gu Fei turned over just as he laid down and wrapped him in his arms, “Finally, it’s long past 1 o’clock.”

         “……I thought you already fell asleep?” Jiang Cheng touched his arm.

         “I did,” Gu Fei buried his face in Jiang Cheng’s shoulder. “Told you I left a nerve on for you.”

         “Go to sleep then,” Jiang Cheng smiled. “Good night.”

         “Good night.” Gu Fei knocked his teeth gently against Jiang Cheng’s shoulder.

         This opportunity to perform on stage was very important to Wang Xu. Or rather, he was very fired up about this opportunity to show off on stage. He pulled Jiang Cheng to the corridor first thing in the morning when he got to school.

         “I asked Lao-Xu for the key to the music room. There’s a piano in there; I brought my guitar too.” Wang Xu said. “What do you say you don’t go home for lunch today, let’s just grab something to eat and then go practice?”

         “I……haven’t finished arranging the music.” Jiang Cheng was a little overwhelmed by Wang Xu’s feverish enthusiasm. “What about this afternoon……”

         “Lunchtime! I don’t need your sheet music anyway,” Wang Xu said. “You just need to tell me my part.”

         Jiang Cheng sighed, “You only have chords, though I don’t know how to write guitar……”

         “You can play it for me, I’ll note it down myself.” Wang Xu said. “Lunchtime, don’t you go running off at noon. Every day you and Gu Fei are nowhere to be found once class ends. If you two must come as a package deal, then just let him listen in on our lunchtime practice today.”

         “Ah.” Jiang Cheng replied.

         He didn’t continue to bargain with Wang Xu, lest he came up with any more nerve-wracking words like that.

         Captain Wang Jiuri knew a little too much. Good thing he wasn’t very sharp, otherwise Jiang Cheng would have to consider silencing him permanently. 

         As soon as class let out for the morning, Wang Xu was standing outside the front door of the classroom staring at him from a distance.

         “You go ahead and eat with Wang Xu then,” Gu Fei glanced at Wang Xu. “I’m going home to do some photo editing anyways, gotta submit it this afternoon.”

         “Sure.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

         He didn’t tell Gu Fei that he was going to play his music. It had special significance, so he wanted it to be a little surprise.

         Frankly, he was pretty impressed with himself. Having only heard it once, he was able to pretty much get the music down from memory alone. Though there would no doubt be some differences in the details, and it would be different still when modified into a piano music……

         Wang Xu dragged him to the pizza place across the street for lunch. He wanted to go get something to drink next door, but Wang Xu didn’t give him a chance, as he got yanked back to the school like they were going off to battle, heading straight for the music room.

         To be honest, if Wang Xu hadn’t mentioned it, he wouldn’t even know that Fourth High had a music room. He was surprised to find that there were quite a few other instruments in there besides the piano.

         “Come on,” Wang Xu flipped open the lid of the piano. “Play a little for me first? What’s the song?”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t answer. He suddenly realized he didn’t know what Gu Fei’s song was called.

         But it didn’t matter anyways.

         “Untitled.” Jiang Cheng sat down on the bench.

         “……Never heard of it.” Wang Xu blinked, then quickly leaned on the piano with a face full of anticipation. “Play it for me, maybe I’ve heard it before but didn’t know it was called ‘Untitled’.”

         “You’ve definitely never heard it before.” The moment Jiang Cheng rested his hands on the keys, a feeling that was at once strange yet familiar extended out from his fingers.

         How long had it been? All this time, he didn’t so much as look at a piano. The staggered black and white before him. The unspeakable emotion it stirred when his fingertips touched the keys.

         He sat there unmoving for a long time.

         “Um, Jiang Cheng,” Wang Xu looked at him with knitted brows. “Don’t fucking tell me you were lying? Do you really know how to play?”

         Jiang Cheng shot a glance at him but didn’t speak. He swept his fingers over the keys and played a scale as a way to stretch his hands, to remember the feeling.

         “Looking pretty legit.” Wang Xu nodded in relief. “Honestly you don’t seem like the type to play piano, why don’t you start off with a ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ first?”

         “Why don’t you get out of here first?” Jiang Cheng glanced at him. “If you have so much to say why don’t you go find someone to talk to first?”

         Wang Xu shut his mouth and didn’t say anything else.

         Jiang Cheng stared down at his fingers and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes, and let it out, before letting his fingers fall on the keys. The first note quickly took him into the imagery crafted by Gu Fei’s music.

         I step onto thin air, I feel like I am flying

         Upwards is the unknown, I look down and hear you say this is a vast and empty world……

         You say one two three, breaking what’s gone by, fading

         The way back home, blown apart by the wind, do you see me sing out…… You say one two three turn around, listen to the panic wiped out……

         Jiang Cheng didn’t look at music as he played. The piece wasn’t long, and he had just written it out from memory, so he could pretty much play the whole thing with his eyes closed.

         He didn’t like piano. The sensation of his fingers touching the keys would fill his head with the unpleasant and gradually fading memories.

         But today was a little different. Perhaps because the melody flowing through his hands carried Gu Fei’s essence, or perhaps because it was with a different attitude that he was sitting here today.

         He became lost in the notes. A few fumbles here and there were not enough to bring him out of the state.

         He lifted his fingers after playing the last note, and stared at the black and white keys in front of him for a long time without moving.

         An enthusiastic applause rang out from behind him. Jiang Cheng startled and whipped his head around to see Lao-Xu standing in the doorway with an excited expression.

         “Shit Xu-zong, what are you doing here.” Wang Xu was also startled by his sudden appearance, but soon started clapping along. “Bravo! Jiang Cheng you really are…… astonishing, what a surprise! I really didn’t expect this! Bravo!”

         “What is this piece?” Lao-Xu walked over. “I don’t think I’ve heard it before.”

         “You probably haven’t heard of a lot of them, have you sir?” Wang Xu suddenly felt a small sense of superiority.

         “Then why don’t you tell me, what is this song?” Lao-Xu asked humbly.

         “This song is called…… It’s called ‘Untitled’!” Wang Xu said, then looked at Jiang Cheng. “Hey Jiang Cheng, tell Lao-Xu about it?”

         “Untitled?” Lao-Xu blinked. “There’s a piano song with this name? Who’s the composer?”

         “Err……” Jiang Cheng hesitated. It would be a little too hasty to simply name it “Untitled”, but he also didn’t want to go ask Gu Fei. “The title hasn’t been……decided.”

         “Not decided?” Wang Xu was also a little shook, then after a long pause finally said. “Don’t tell me you wrote this yourself?! The fuck?”

         “No no no,” Jiang Cheng waved his hand right away. “Not me.”

         “Then why is the title undecided?” Lao-Xu asked again.

         Jiang Cheng suddenly felt a little apprehensive. Knowing Gu Fei, he wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate to come out and tell Wang Xu and Lao-Xu like this.

         “Let’s just rehearse first,” He didn’t answer Lao-Xu’s question. “I’ll tell you……when the time comes.”

         “Hey!” Wang Xu yelled a little unhappily. “Trying to keep things from me again?!”

         “Huh?” Jiang Cheng looked at him.

         “I’m just saying, Jiang Cheng you really are…… Ayy FINE I’m going to the washroom.” Wang Xu turned grumpily and walked out of the classroom. “You can tell Xu-zong in private. Geez, so secretive to your own partner……gotta keep everything from me……”

         Jiang Cheng watched his retreating figure and opened his mouth but didn’t make a sound.

         “Did you write it yourself?” Lao-Xu sat down beside him excitedly.

         “I really didn’t.” Jiang Cheng looked at Lao-Xu.

         “Then who did?” Lao-Xu looked back at him in anticipation.

         Jiang Cheng didn’t reply, then eventually said after a while, “If you need to submit information for the program, just put my name down for the arrangement.”

         Lao-Xu was quiet for a while, then suddenly asked haltingly, “Is it……Gu Fei?” 

         Jiang Cheng turned and stared at him in shock.

         “Is it? It is!” Lao-Xu also stared at him. “I know that kid used to play in a band when he was in middle school, but I never asked him about it. It’s way too hard to get through to him with that personality, way too hard……”

         “Wha—” Jiang Cheng was still shocked. “Sir, how do you know he played in a band?”

         “I make the effort,” Lao-Xu sighed. “To get to know every single one of you students. It’s the only way I can be responsible to every student. That was something Gu Fei’s mom told me once, otherwise I wouldn’t even know that he played the guitar.”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t know how to continue the conversation, so he kept quiet.

         “Gu Fei is a pretty good kid, it’s just so hard to communicate with him. In that way I’ve also failed him as a head teacher.” Lao-Xu pressed on a key, suddenly a little dejected. “They all say to never give up on any student, but it’s hard to hold onto every single student…… For a kid like Gu Fei, even though I circle him round and round, I still can’t get through to him……”

         Jiang Cheng stayed quiet. This time he really didn’t know what to say. He didn’t expect Lao-Xu to open up to a student like this, so he also felt a little awkward even as thoughts filled his mind.

         “I’ve seen the photos Gu Fei takes,” Lao-Xu said. “What a talented kid. Such talent. It’s really a shame if he continues to throw it away.”

         Jiang Cheng still didn’t know what to say, he only sighed softly along with Lao-Xu.

         When Wang Xu came back, Lao-Xu stood up and sat down on a nearby chair, “You guys practice, I’ll just listen.”

         “I still don’t know the music though,” Wang Xu picked up his guitar. After a trip to the washroom, all his grumpiness was gone. When he picked up the guitar, he grew excited all over again. “Jiang Cheng, just play the chords for me and tell me where to come in.”

         “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng pulled out the music he wrote and marked down the chords for Wang Xu, then played it once for him.

         If Wang Xu paid half as much attention in class as he was in this moment, Lao-Xu would probably shed tears on the spot.

         After he memorized his part, Wang Xu tried playing through it a couple of times, “Like this, right?”

         “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng nodded. “Let’s try it together.”

         As Wang Xu strummed his guitar along to the piano, Lao-Xu stood up in delight and walked over to them.

         A few bars later, Jiang Cheng paused and marked down a few changes to the music.

         “Shit,” Wang Xu gently plucked the strings and said. “I suddenly feel like a master.”

         “I’m the master.” Jiang Cheng said.

         Wang Xu laughed at that, “Jiang Cheng you really are very thick-skinned sometimes.”

         “I can afford to be.” Jiang Cheng swept a glance over him.

         “Fuck, can you try being a little more modest.” Wang Xu looked at him. “How am I supposed to continue from there?”

         “You don’t have to continue.” Jiang Cheng set the music back on the stand. “Let’s try that again.”

         Wang Xu’s career as a class tyrant was a failure, but as a part of an instrumental duet, he was not bad. He reacted quickly enough, and aside from the occasional half beat coming in late, he didn’t make a lot of mistakes.

         “How was that!” Wang Xu waved his arm as they came out of the music room. “What did you think!”

         “Mmn, pretty good.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

         “I’m parched, gonna go buy something to drink, want one too?” Wang Xu said. “What do you wanna drink?”

         “Lime black tea.” Jiang Cheng said. “Thanks.”

         “What about Xu-zong?” Wang Xu looked to Lao-Xu.

         “I’m going back to my office to have tea,” Lao-Xu said. “I can’t drink those things you kids like, one sip and the sugary taste last all afternoon in my mouth.”

         After Wang Xu went off to buy drinks, Jiang Cheng walked with Lao-Xu back to the classroom. When Lao-Xu turned to head to his office, Jiang Cheng called out to him, “Xu-zong.”

         “What is it?” Lao-Xu turned around.

         “Arrangement and performance by Jiang Cheng, Wang Xu on guitar.” Jiang Cheng said. “That’s all. I’ll think of a title for the song and tell you in the next couple of days.”

         “Oh,” Lao-Xu nodded, looking a little disappointed. “Okay okay.”

         Jiang Cheng stuck his hands in his pockets and strolled slowly to class.

         The title of the song……what should it be called?

         The melody felt at the same time hazy and repressed, and the lyrics evoked the same feeling. When listening to it, he felt an urge to lash out and shatter the constraints all around him.

         He had made some changes to the music when he wrote it down. Some parts he couldn’t remember very clearly, while some parts felt too repressive. When he played it, there were a few places where he wanted to press down hard on the keys, to lift the notes up, to cry out.

         I want to

         Run free without a care

         In your eyes

         I want

         One look to last

         A lifetime

         He took out his phone and called Lao-Xu, “Xu-zong, the song is called ‘Sa Ye’.” [1]


[1] Run Freely (T⌓T)

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5808
  • TL word count: 3802
  • TL time: 3:56:39
  • Edit time: 0:56:32
  • Curse words: 4x fucks, 2x shit

TL’s Notes:
This is a good time to say, hey, there’s an official song!