I want you on my left shoulder, a smile on my right


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

         This was the first time Jiang Cheng had seen Gu Fei cry.

         First time hearing the sobs, feeling the slight tremble of his body. Jiang Cheng’s chest felt warm from Gu Fei’s tears.

         Jiang Cheng had always thought of himself as a pretty strong person. Since moving here, he would reflect after every occasion of tear shedding. Ah, crying again are we. Why are you crying again you sissy.

         He always assumed that Gu Fei was stronger than him. Or rather, he thought that in certain areas, Gu Fei simply didn’t feel as intensely as he did, that he was more ‘detached’. In his subconscious mind, he had never made the connection between Gu Fei and tears.

         But now, this person he thought was strong to the point of being detached, this mini tyrant of the Steel Works, this troublemaker that no one in the school dared provoke, this Good Little Bunny who took beautiful photos, kept candy in his pockets, who would act cute, seek attention, and say “Cheng-ge I was wrong”, was burying his face in Jiang Cheng’s chest.

         Crying.

         What started out as repressed sobs slowly became a kind of guttural wailing, heartwrenching, as though he was venting his grievances.

         Jiang Cheng had never before seen Gu Fei like this, nor had he ever expected to see Gu Fei like this. His mind was a tangled mess. He had no idea how he could console him, and at the same time didn’t wish to console him.

         When Gu Fei was like this, he probably didn’t need consoling. No matter how well executed the consolation was, it would probably be useless to him.

         Jiang Cheng only needed to be there, and listen.

         Gu Miao, who had been drawing bunnies on the side, had stopped at some point to quietly watch Gu Fei. With her brows knitted and a pencil in her hand, she watched him with a calm expression.

         Her expression reminded Jiang Cheng of the time when he and Gu Fei brawled on the street, and of the time when Gu Fei flung a man into a tree. Each time Gu Miao had worn a calm expression, as though she didn’t understand what was happening.

         Jiang Cheng couldn’t tell what she was thinking, or whether she was thinking. He wondered if she could feel Gu Fei’s pain.

         He bent down and kissed the top of Gu Fei’s head, pressing his lips against the newly grown stubbles.

         What happened today was entirely out of his expectations. He felt a little regret.

         Yet at the same time he was glad.

         If he never heard Gu Fei utter those words today, would he ever find out how Gu Fei really felt? Would his resignation and despair remain a secret forever?

         And if…… if there really comes a day when they break up, would he then never know that the person who had taken up such an important place in the confusing years of his youth, had such a secret buried deep in his heart.

         He bent down again and nuzzled his nose against the top of Gu Fei’s head.

         “Does it not feel scratchy?” Gu Fei asked in a muffled voice against Jiang Cheng’s chest.

         “Hm?” Jiang Cheng blinked. The nasal tone in Gu Fei’s voice sounded heartwrenching.

         “My hair, it feels scratchy even to me.” Gu Fei said.

         “A little.” Jiang Cheng stroked the hair on his head. “Are you planning on not growing it out again? How many times have you shaved it now……”

         “I think I look very handsome like this.” Gu Fei rubbed his cheek against Jiang Cheng’s shirt.

         “……Are you using my shirt to wipe your face?” Jiang Cheng looked down at him.

         “Mhm.” Gu Fei paused, then slowly moved downward. “If that’s not allowed, I’ll use your pants instead.”

         “Shit,” Jiang Cheng jumped and shot a glance in Gu Miao’s direction. Gu Miao was still staring blankly at them. He hurried to drag Gu Fei up by his collar. “Your little sister is watching!”

         Gu Fei stopped, his face still pressed against Jiang Cheng’s belly. He reached out a hand and flicked his fingers against Gu Miao’s paper, and Gu Miao put her head down and started drawing bunnies again.

         “I’m gonna go……” Gu Fei braced a hand on the sofa and stood up, then bent down to look at Jiang Cheng. “Wash my face.”

         “Alright.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

         There were still traces of tears on Gu Fei’s face. His still wet eyelashes were stuck together in little clumps. The way he looked made Jiang Cheng’s heart suddenly soften. It ached for Gu Fei.

         “You have such long lashes.” He said.

         “You also have really long lashes.” Gu Fei smiled, then leaned in and kissed Jiang Cheng’s forehead. “Is that what you’re waiting for?”

         “Get out.” Jiang Cheng said.

         Gu Fei went to wash his face. Jiang Cheng turned and looked at Gu Miao, who was close to filling up the second piece of paper with drawings of bunnies, so he got out another page for her.

         It was very quiet in the living room. Jiang Cheng tilted his head up and leaned back on the sofa. His heart felt a little heavy, but strangely clear. It was a feeling like he had lived through a serious cold, suffered stuffy nose for a whole week, then was finally able to breathe again.

         Gu Fei did not hide from his view. He showed his tear streaked face in front of Jiang Cheng without any reservation. He liked Gu Fei like this.

         There might be parts of me that I don’t wish for you to see, but if I do decide to show you, there will be no holding back.

         Jiang Cheng stood up and walked into the bathroom. Gu Fei had wrapped a towel around some ice cubes, and was currently pressing it against his eyes. Jiang Cheng walked right up to Gu Fei and hugged him from behind, “Are your eyes puffy?”

         “A little, it’s not too bad.” Gu Fei said. “It’ll probably be back to normal in 15 minutes.”

         “I was worried just now that you’ll frighten Gu Miao.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “Nah,” Gu Fei smiled. “She can’t sense other people’s emotions.”

         “Ah, is that right.” Jiang Cheng let out a soft sigh. “I can……sense it.”

         “Then did I frighten you?” Gu Fei asked.

         “No.” Jiang Cheng said. “I just ached for you.”

         “It’s nothing much really.” Gu Fei said. “Some things you just have to shut the door and brood on it yourself. Once you step out into the world, nobody knows how much misfortunes and dissatisfactions anyone else is harbouring, everyone just looks the same kind of miserable.”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t answer. He leaned down and bit Gu Fei’s shoulder.

         “When did you memorize the music?” Gu Fei asked as he continued to ice his eyes.

         “What music?” Jiang Cheng didn’t realize what he was talking about for a second.

         “The song you played today.” Gu Fei said.

         “Oh, when I listened to it last time, I memorized most of it then.” Jiang Cheng said. He felt another wave of complicated emotions at the mention of the song. He was sorry that Gu Fei didn’t get to hear it. But if it wasn’t for this complication, he and Gu Fei wouldn’t have talked it out like this. “I couldn’t remember all of it, so I changed some stuff.”

         “It sounded really good, better than the original version.” Gu Fei said.

         “Hm?” Jiang Cheng lifted up his head in shock, and looked at Gu Fei through the reflection in the mirror. “You heard it? Didn’t you leave? I didn’t see you when I went on stage!”

         “I left after.” Gu Fei started to ice his other eye. “It’s not like the auditorium is soundproof. I listened to the whole thing outside the window at the back of the building.”

         “Fuck,” Jiang Cheng said, then kept his mouth open and didn’t know what else to say, so he repeated again. “Fuck.

         “Though I didn’t hear it very clearly,” Gu Fei turned to face him, leaning back against the sink. “The school’s speaker system isn’t the best.”

         “Ah.” Jiang Cheng was still speechless.

         “Here Cheng-ge, hold the ice for me.” Gu Fei handed the towel with ice cubes to him.

         “Oh.” Jiang Cheng took it and pressed the towel against Gu Fei’s eye.

         “It wasn’t written very well, I was still young then.” Gu Fei said. “It was just for fun.”

         “Are you spewing bullshit good sir?” Jiang Cheng said. “How subtle of you.”

         Gu Fei started laughing, “I’m serious.”

         “In the eyes of those of us without a musical gift, what you just said is a solid eight and a half pounds of braggy bullshit, sir.” Jiang Cheng looked at him.

         “A little more civility please.” Gu Fei said.

         “Eight and a half pounds of bull-beeeep.” Jiang Cheng said.

         Gu Fei curved his lips, leaned over, and kissed the tip of Jiang Cheng’s nose, “Were you really angry today?”

         “It’s not so much anger,” Jiang Cheng removed the towel and wrung it out. “But you know with my temper, sometimes I just can’t keep it in. At the time all I thought was, if you’re angry, or unhappy, or annoyed, then at least let me know. Even if you were to come and curse me out and say, Jiang Cheng you’re a fucking dumbass or something, or fight it out, then at least I would know what’s going on, you know……”

         Gu Fei didn’t answer as he leaned in and kissed him.

         Jiang Cheng stilled for a moment. When Gu Fei’s tongue swept across his teeth, he finally snapped out of it and pulled Gu Fei tight, tangling their two bodies together.

         As though they were two enemies meeting, and couldn’t wait to get all up in each other’s business. Their tongues battled for dominance. All at once, back and forth, it was hard to tell who had the upper hand.

         Jiang Cheng thought he must’ve seemed extremely thirsty, like he couldn’t wait to knead Gu Fei into dough to squeeze tightly into his embrace, or give him bite after bite, leaving behind a teeth-mark every time.

         Gu Fei probably had similar thoughts. After pushing Jiang Cheng to the wall, he nibbled his way from Jiang Cheng’s earlobe to his shoulder, toward the end of which Jiang Cheng finally couldn’t stand it anymore and bit down on Gu Fei’s arm, before Gu Fei could do the same to him.

         “You’re a damn dog!” Gu Fei squeezed Jiang Cheng’s jaw. “Let go!”

         Jiang Cheng let go, leaned back against the wall, and tilted his head up as he let out a long breath, then closed his eyes.

         When the two of them got back to the living room, Gu Miao had already finished filling another page with bunnies. She was now reading from a picture book.

         Jiang Cheng truly couldn’t understand what the kid was thinking. There were so many pictures in the picture book, ones of bunnies, as well as of puppies, chickadees, birds, kittens, and little pigs. She was happily reading along to all of it, but only liked to draw bunnies.

         “Here, you can change into this.” Gu Fei handed Jiang Cheng one of his own T-shirts.

         Jiang Cheng went into the bedroom and changed, “Are you going out to take photos? I thought Yi Jing has your camera?”

         “Mhm, she’s going to bring it back to the store.” Gu Fei said. “I won’t take any more today though, the light’s not good at this time.”

         “You seem keen on ignoring her normally, why does it feel like you’re suddenly pretty familiar?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “She’s the class leader after all,” Gu Fei glanced at him. “Lao-Xu used to set her up to tutor me.”

         At the mention of Lao-Xu, Jiang Cheng couldn’t help but click his tongue, “I really should’ve followed up with Lao-Xu and told him not to spread it around.”

         “Honestly, it’s not his fault,” Gu Fei said. “He’s just like that. Besides, how can anyone possibly understand.”

         “Then……what are you going to do?” Jiang Cheng looked at him. “Everyone knows now.”

         “If they know, they know,” Gu Fei said. “When the gears of destiny start to turn, there’s no telling when they’re going to ‘click’ and hit some kind of switch, like you for example.”

         “What about me?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “Weren’t you brought in by the gear?” Gu Fei smiled. “Come on, I’ll take you somewhere.”

         “Where?” Jiang Cheng looked at him.

         Gu Fei was already back to his usual self. Whether it was in the way he talked or his expressions, there was no trace of what happened before. No trace of the fact that just moments ago, on the sofa, he had bawled with such intensity.

         Jiang Cheng couldn’t tell if he really was okay, or if it was the years of experience that allowed him to quickly recover, in order to maintain balance.

         “The Steel Works.” Gu Fei opened his closet.

         “Why are we going to the Steel Works?” Jiang Cheng was surprised. It had been a long time since the two of them went to the Steel Works. Ever since he rented an apartment, that had become their most private space. “If you want……to, can’t we just go to my place?”

         “Cheng-ge,” Gu Fei laughed as he held onto the closet door. “Can we be serious for a second? What does the overachiever keep in his head all day long?”

         Jiang Cheng couldn’t get out a word. He stared at Gu Fei for a long time, then finally waved his hand and turned back to the living room, sat on the sofa and read a picture book with Gu Miao.

         Gu Fei followed him out. Jiang Cheng took one glance at him and was taken aback. 

         Gu Fei was carrying a guitar bag.

         “What’s……that?” Jiang Cheng asked instinctively. He never expected Gu Fei to suddenly come out with a guitar.

         “A cello.” Gu Fei said.

         “Bullshit!” Jiang Cheng said.

         “Why would you ask then, like you’ve never seen a guitar before.” Gu Fei walked up to the sofa, reached his hand in front of Gu Miao, and snapped his fingers. When Gu Miao looked up at him, he said in a soft voice, “Brother has to go out. If you want to skateboard outside, remember to text first.”

         Gu Miao nodded.

         “Cheng-ge,” Gu Fei stood up. “Let’s go.”

         Jiang Cheng followed Gu Fei, but it wasn’t until they were downstairs did he suddenly realize, Gu Fei is going to play the guitar?

         Going to the Steel Works, to play guitar?

         It wasn’t very far, so Gu Fei didn’t take the bike, only walked toward the Steel Works with the guitar strapped on his back. Jiang Cheng walked beside him, his eyes glued to Gu Fei the whole way.

         He had seen Gu Fei wearing a helmet on a motorcycle; had seen Gu Fei on a bicycle with Gu Miao in tow on a skateboard; had seen Gu Fei playing basketball; had seen Gu Fei with a camera; had seen Gu Fei clad in all black jumping between buildings in the glow of a bonfire……

         He had also seen Gu Fei crying.

         But Gu Fei was surprising him yet again. He knew that Gu Fei had been in a band before, knew that Gu Fei played the guitar, but seeing Gu Fei walking in the sun with a guitar strapped to his back still gave him a thrill.

         What was he thrilled about?

         No idea.

         Just, thrilled.

         Every step he took, he wanted to turn and look at Gu Fei.

         The Steel Works covered a large area. Jiang Cheng hadn’t been there very many times, so he never did get to see the whole place. Gu Fei led them down a path he had never been on before, like he was unlocking a new area of the map.

         “We’re not going to the room?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “Nope.” Gu Fei said. “Who knows if there’s any lecherous boy on girl or boy on boy action going on there.”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t answer. The boy on boy probably meant Li Yan, but when he remembered the lewd activities they themselves had conducted there, he figured Gu Fei’s skin was all too thick. How dare he call someone else lecherous.

         “I haven’t been around here before.” Jiang Cheng said by way of changing the subject.

         “I don’t come around here often either.” Gu Fei said. “The buildings around this area are mostly torn down, and if not, then they’re usually unsafe structures. There’s no point in coming here.”

         “Then where are we going?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “To a structurally unsound building.” Gu Fei answered.

         “……Ah.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

         It was true that the buildings here had pretty much been torn down. There were only basic frames left of most of the old buildings, around which were piles of broken bricks and rubbles, as well as scrap pieces of steel with weeds growing all around them.

         It must’ve been quite a flourishing place once upon a time. It was a large campus, and everyone who used to live around here were employees of the Steel Works. There were still signs of the Steel Works’ prosperous past littered around many places.

         XX Steel Kindergarten. XX Steel Elementary. XX Steel Snacks. XX Steel Game Center. XX Steel…… [1]

         “It’s right up ahead.” Gu Fei pointed.

         Through this patch of torn down old factories on the clearing ahead was a……structurally unsound building. It was only one story, but it was very tall, like an assembly hall of some sort, even larger than Fourth High’s auditorium.

         It was certainly dangerous enough, as it looked to be half demolished.

         However, when Jiang Cheng got closer, he realized it wasn’t half demolished, but half collapsed.

         Stepping over broken bricks, Gu Fei led him inside through the building’s ‘doorway’.

         The lighting inside was great, since half the roof was sunken in. It really was an assembly hall. The rows of seating were still there, but most of it had been buried by the collapsed roof.

         Where the stage was, the roof was intact, but the windows on either side were gone. Sunlight streamed through the holes in the wall, covering the entire stage in radiance.

         “Sit there,” Gu Fei pointed at a seat in the front row. “In the middle.”

         “Ah.” Jiang Cheng glanced over, and walked up to the seat in the center of the first row.

         There was a thick layer of dust on the chair. He wiped it with one finger, but beneath the loose top layer of dust was even more dust that had practically melded in perfect harmony with the chair from the years of being soaked by rain water.

         He was about to find something to wipe it, but after a couple seconds of hesitation, decided to sit down anyway, and leaned back in the seat.

         Gu Fei stood at the center of the stage.

         “Are you going to announce the credits yourself?” Jiang Cheng asked. He was pretty sure Gu Fei was going to play the guitar. For him.

         “In a minute,” Gu Fei chuckled. He crouched down and set the guitar on the ground. “I still have some preparation to do, today was a little too hasty……”

         Indeed it was hasty, he must’ve decided to do this at the last minute, because his preparation actually consisted of stringing the guitar.

         Jiang Cheng was quiet as he watched Gu Fei.

         After tightening the strings, Gu Fei pulled out his phone and slowly tuned the guitar with the help of a tuning app.

         Based on the visual alone, from the first time that Gu Fei’s fingers brushed across the strings, he had totally obliterated the silver dragon-clad Wang Xu. Totally and completely obliterated.

         Gu Fei had long fingers, and whether it was his right hand plucking out the notes, or his left hand pressing on the strings, it was a feast for the eyes. Jiang Cheng didn’t even need to listen to the sound to feel as soothed as if he was lying on a beanbag.

         “Alright.” Gu Fei finished tuning and stood up. He picked up a stick that used to be either the handle of a broom or a mop, and jabbed it into a crack in the flooring.

         Jiang Cheng sat up straight and started clapping.

         Gu Fei walked in front of the ‘mic’, and cleared his throat. Jiang Cheng immediately pulled out his phone, aimed the camera at Gu Fei, and started recording.

         “It’s been a long time since I touched a guitar, and a long time since I sang.” Gu Fei said. “Standing here today, is also a surprise to me.”

         Jiang Cheng smiled.

         “In this life, one often runs into all sorts of surprises.” Gu Fei said as he adjusted the length of the guitar strap. “Some surprises are to be expected, while some are beyond our expectations.”

         For a second, Jiang Cheng didn’t understand what Gu Fei meant by these words, but no matter, he was going to watch the video at least 800 times anyway.

         “Jiang Cheng,” Gu Fei looked at him. “You are the surprise beyond my expectation.” 

         “So are you.” Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Fei on his screen, then lifted his eyes to look on stage.

         “This song is for you, it’s a little last minute, I only thought of it on the way here. Have a listen first, and I’ll revise it later.” Gu Fei put his head down and gently swept his fingers over the strings. “Sa Ye.”

         Jiang Cheng’s hand shook. He had to take a deep breath in and use his other hand to help stabilize the phone.

         Gu Fei slapped the body of the guitar a couple times, before starting in on the prelude. 

         Jiang Cheng’s breathing halted for a second. Suddenly, it was like the faintest breeze blowing past his ears carried a tune.

         The melody from before had left a deep impression on him. He assumed that Gu Fei’s own style was also like that. Dazed, panicked, and hollow.

         This prelude however, gave off an entirely different vibe.

         “I want one look to last, a lifetime……” Gu Fei opened his mouth. His voice was a little husky, steady and gentle.

         With that one line, Jiang Cheng suddenly felt like he had been completely enveloped in Gu Fei’s scent.

         “I want, to look up and see the warm sun on spring grass, and me in your arms; I want, to step on the unknown and walk through time, you’ll hear it if you open your eyes; I want you on my left shoulder, a smile on my right.” Gu Fei looked up at him. “I want, to run free without a care in your eyes; I want one look to last, a lifetime……”

         In the sunlight, the young man in the white T-shirt stood on the stage with a smile on his lips, his fingers brushing over the strings……

         Jiang Cheng stared at Gu Fei in a daze. He felt like he was in a trance. He almost couldn’t tell if the music he was hearing was playing in his ears, or in his heart.


Footnotes
[1]: China is so vast that if Wuzhe gave these places a name, there’s a chance of naming it after something that actually exists, so authors avoid it by using XX.

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 5576
  • TL word count: 3886
  • TL time: 4:29:53
  • Edit time: 1:17:33
  • Curse words: 3x fucks, 4x shits, 1x ass

TL’s Notes:
Ok here to plug the guitar x piano instrumental duet of saye.mp3 from the audio drama. This is a different version from the official novel version of saye.mp3, but is also very good! You can listen to the female (Ding Zhuxin) cover here, and the official male x male cover here.

SAYE MANHUA – CHECK IT!