No matter how hard it is, he has to leave this place.
Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3
It was an overcast day. The sun that was supposed to rear its head did not appear, and the few intact street lamps along the lane were still lit.
Gu Fei felt the breeze a little chilly against his body as he zoomed toward Jiang Cheng’s apartment on his motorcycle.
Though it was also a satisfying kind of feeling, as if his whole being was enveloped in the cool and refreshing wind.
It had been a long time since he rode the motorcycle. Usually he only took it out when he went cruising with Li Yan and the guys, but since getting together with Jiang Cheng, he seldomly went out with them anymore. Just the other day Liu Fan had called him, and said he was writing a poem to commemorate the “bestie who abandoned me”.
It wasn’t far to Jiang Cheng’s place from his own. On the motorcycle, and at the speed he was going, it only took less than five minutes in total.
He was a little worried that Jiang Cheng would be unable to restrain his temper, and go downstairs to deal with Li Hui on his own.
Jiang Cheng would certainly not be at a disadvantage against Li Hui. Even though Li Hui had help with him, with Jiang Cheng’s fighting ability, there was no way the other side would come out on top.
However, these were special times. Jiang Cheng was a high school senior preparing for his exams. It would be a big deal if something so much as affected his mood, let alone getting stuck with trouble like this.
It was enough of an impact for him to have moved from a key high school to a place like the Fourth High, and then to be plagued with all these problems……
There weren’t many people on the street at this time. The ones who had to go to school or work hadn’t yet left home, so the only people out and about were grannies and grandpas who got up early to exercise or buy produce.
Therefore, as soon as he turned the corner onto Jiang Cheng’s street, Gu Fei was able to see the people standing not far ahead.
He wasn’t wearing his glasses. From this distance, he could only make out Li Hui, who was standing a few steps away from the rest. He didn’t recognize anyone else.
But it didn’t matter anyway. The only people Li Hui could manage to summon were idle delinquents. The sole difference was between Steel Works delinquents, and non-Steel Works delinquents.
Gu Fei didn’t slow down as he charged at the group of people standing by the road.
Delinquents tend to be fairly nimble. In the roar of the engine, they all turned their heads, and started to show some signs of moving out of the way.
Gu Fei lowered himself to the bike, and pulled a long rubber baton out from the modified back fender.
When the motorcycle roared up to the group, many of them had jumped out of the way. However, they were not Gu Fei’s target.
Li Hui’s reaction was clearly slower than these thugs. Only when everyone else had scattered did he just manage to turn his head.
Gu Fei swung. The baton in his hand cracked against Li Hui’s ass.
Li Hui yelled, but not with a lot of conviction or power, in fact, probably only 70% of it. The colour of his face gave away the fact that he likely stayed up all night playing mahjong; it was steel grey.
He was indeed living up to his role as the dear son Li Baoguo had brought up by hand.
By the time everyone else came around and swarmed, Gu Fei’s bike had already passed by more than a few meters.
He squeezed on the brakes and stuck one foot on the ground. The tail end of the motorcycle swung out, and the bike pivoted.
This time he was closer, and was able to make out the people Li Hui had brought. There were four or five of them, all from the Steel Works neighbourhood, but he only knew the guy people called San Gou, who often bought things from his convenience store. 
San Gou recognized him, and blinked in shock, “Da-Fei?”
“Out of the way.” Gu Fei said.
The motorcycle once again charged at the group. San Gou hesitated for a split second, then stepped back.
This time the other guys were prepared. Someone stepped up to the bike with a knife in his hand, and swung it hard toward Gu Fei’s face.
Gu Fei steered a little to the side to avoid the knife, as he smacked the baton down on the guy’s arm. As the bike charged past once more, he heard the sound of the knife clanging to the ground.
He didn’t use a lot of force on this strike, as his purpose was only to smack the knife away. He didn’t wish to provoke these people more than necessary, because he didn’t know them well. If any of them turned out to have the same temperament as Monkey, it’d be another difficult mess to get out of.
His target was only Li Hui. Li Hui was a coward. If he didn’t have people with him, he wouldn’t have dared to come look for Jiang Cheng on his own. Even with a posse, he still didn’t dare to look for Jiang Cheng at the school.
To students at Fourth High, fighting came to them as easily as eating. If Jiang Cheng really brought other people to go up against him, Li Hui would never dare to face him head on.
Li Hui wanted to get out of the way, but he couldn’t be quicker than the motorcycle. Just as he turned to run away, Gu Fei’s baton slammed down once again, this time onto his leg.
“Fuck!” Li Hui bursted out. “I fucking fuck your great uncle! Did I fucking do anything to you!”
“You did.” Gu Fei swung his bike around again.
“You wanna bet I’ll take you out too!” Li Hui pointed at him. As he said this he glanced to the sides, signalling to the others that they should all rush up together.
“This matter has nothing to do with these bros here.” Gu Fei killed the engine and got off the motorcycle. Holding the baton, he walked up to Li Hui. “You called up all these people just to come bother a highschooler. If word gets out, you won’t just be embarrassing yourself, you’d also make a joke of the ones who helped you.”
“Don’t try to sow discord!” Li Hui was practically spitting as he shouted. “He took my dad’s savings!”
“Did your dad have savings?” Gu Fei sneered. “Maybe you should go look it up at the bank first. If the bank won’t let you check, you can call the cops to help. The cops will help you for sure.”
“I don’t need to check! I know he took it!” Li Hui shouted.
“Alright then,” Gu Fei looked at him. “When are you going to pay me for all those things you took from my store last time?”
Li Hui was bewildered, “When the fuck did I take anything from your store?”
“A whole box of Zhonghua, and two cases of Maotai,” Gu Fei said. “And……” 
“Bull fucking shit!” Li Hui interrupted him. “Does that shitty store of yours even have that much Zhonghua and Maotai!”
“Then did that dad of yours who had to keep a tab even for gambling have a savings account?” Gu Fei asked.
“You……” Li Hui blinked as he tried to keep up.
“Don’t you worry about whether I have it in the store,” Gu Fei said. “I said you took them. I know you took them.”
“You fucking……” Li Hui’s eyeballs were practically bulging out of their sockets. He hardly knew how to continue the conversation, so he decided to swing his arm and aim a punch at Gu Fei’s face.
Gu Fei didn’t bother dodging. Li Hui’s fist was taking such a long time to get there, that when his own punch landed on Li Hui’s nose, the guy still had his arms open like he was going for a hug.
When Jiang Cheng heard the sound of a motorcycle, he paused for a split second and wondered if it was Gu Fei. Just as he was about to look out the window, he heard the roar of engine revving outside from the sudden acceleration, and knew immediately that Gu Fei had come, and that he had come to fight.
Before he even checked out the state of the battle outside, he reached back and grabbed the slingshot on the table, and picked up a few pebbles from the flower pot. He pulled back the sling first, then as he looked down to take aim, he finally checked out what was going on downstairs.
His whole body was frozen in shock as he caught sight of Gu Fei standing outside, shirtless, with a black rubber stick in his hand.
He had never seen Gu Fei leave the house without a shirt before. And because of Gu Miao, Gu Fei hardly ever went shirtless even when he was at home, let alone when he went out. Although it was another matter entirely that he sometimes went without pants when he was at Jiang Cheng’s place.
The point was, at this moment Gu Fei was shirtless, wearing only a pair of track pants with white stripes down the sides, and holding a stick in his hand.
……It was the long absent Mini Tyrant of the Steel Works.
Li Hui had brought four people, five including himself. Jiang Cheng trained his eyes on them with the sling pulled tight, but aside from Li Hui, none of the other guys showed any signs of making a move.
He figured that Li Hui had only brought guys who usually hung around the neighbourhood. Even if Gu Fei had ‘lost’ to Monkey before, that method of ‘dueling’ clearly didn’t represent actual physical prowess. These people no doubt still felt trepidation at the thought of going up against Gu Fei.
Jiang Cheng couldn’t hear the exchange between Li Hui and Gu Fei, but he could tell that Li Hui was extremely agitated and angry. Then, he saw Li Hui lash out a fist.
Jiang Cheng didn’t get to release the pebble he’d been holding. Before Li Hui’s fist finished its slow arc through the air, Gu Fei’s punch had already landed on his nose.
Li Hui stumbled back violently, then reached a hand behind himself.
There it is.
As Li Hui pulled out a cleaver from behind his back, Jiang Cheng released the sling with a “pop!”, and the pebble flew out, hitting the wrist of Li Hui’s hand that was holding the cleaver.
Jiang Cheng had tested the power of this slingshot many times already. With this one strike, Li Hui’s hand would swell up for sure. If instead he had used a steel bearing, it would certainly fracture some bones.
Li Hui’s cleaver clanged to the ground. Before he could stoop to pick it up, Gu Fei’s foot was already stepping on it. He swung the baton down on Li Hui’s shoulder.
Only then did Gu Fei turn to look up.
Jiang Cheng swiftly retreated inside, where he opened the apartment door and ran down the stairs three steps at a time.
It wouldn’t do to simply hide in his room and snipe in the dark. That way all their fury would converge on Gu Fei. He didn’t wish for Gu Fei to be tangled up in these messes again, and didn’t want to see another Steel Works style braindead duel.
As he charged out of the stairwell, he saw that Gu Fei had already kicked the cleaver to the side. The black rubber baton had also been tossed aside. With his hands empty, Gu Fei was standing face to face with Li Hui.
“If you want trouble, I’ll keep you company.” Gu Fei said.
“I don’t need your company!” Li Hui wiped his mouth, noticed Jiang Cheng running out, and immediately pointed at him. “You’re the one I’m looking for.”
A corner of Jiang Cheng’s mouth twitched, “What’s your business with me?”
“It doesn’t have to do with him anymore.” Gu Fei said. “Right now it’s between you and me. If you think Jiang Cheng called me here to lend a hand, you can also get someone to help you. Who will you pick?”
Awkward expressions emerged on the faces of the other guys and they all started to look uncomfortable. One of them frowned and said, “Li Hui, could it be a misunderstanding? If we just come for a kid like this, it wouldn’t look very good if it really was a misunderstanding.”
“Thirty thousand yuan!” Li Hui clutched his shoulder, which had just been smacked by Gu Fei. “Jiang Cheng, spit out the thirty thousand you took from my dad, and I’ll forget about this whole thing!”
“If Li Baoguo had thirty thousand to spare,” Jiang Cheng tried to suppress his rage and irritation. “He wouldn’t have been driven to jump off the building by you.”
“Bull fucking shit! He jumped right after you went upstairs……” Li Hui was riled up and spewing insults as he charged at Jiang Cheng, but he wasn’t able to take more than two steps.
He couldn’t even finish what he was saying.
Gu Fei lunged to the side and landed a square kick on his stomach. Li Hui immediately doubled over into a ball.
Gu Fei closed in and smashed an elbow on his back. Once Li Hui was kneeling on the ground, he grabbed Li Hui’s hair in one hand and bashed his face into his knee.
When he let go, Li Hui fell flat on his back, the blood gushing out from his nose made a mess around his mouth.
Jiang Cheng watched the series of moves from Gu Fei, and couldn’t quite make out how he felt at this moment. Every time he saw Gu Fei fight……or rather, saw Gu Fei beat someone up, he’d feel a little taken aback.
It was the cold expression on Gu Fei’s face and the decisiveness and precision with which he made every move.
It was only because of this viciousness that he’d bestowed the title of Mini Tyrant of Steel Works onto Gu Fei. But it wasn’t entirely accurate either. The term “Mini Tyrant” was a little too cute for what Gu Fei was, it wasn’t adequate to describe all that he encompassed.
If Gu Fei wasn’t Gu Fei, he would be an actual brutal tyrant of the Steel Works that no one dared cross.
The Steel Works Number One Boss.
Supremo Gu of the Steel Works.
Jiang Cheng looked at Li Hui, who had been lying on the ground for a while and didn’t seem to be getting up any time soon, then looked at the helpers he had brought who’d been watching coolly from the sidelines with no indication of coming to help him up, and was all of a sudden at a loss as to what to do next.
“Li Hui,” Gu Fei spoke up. “Don’t think that I don’t know the kind of person you are. Everyone who grew up around these parts knows the kind of person you are. I’ll consider this matter done and over with now. Whether your dad really had a savings account, and where he kept it, you know better than anyone.”
Li Hui’s legs twitched as he cupped his nose, but he stayed quiet.
Gu Fei looked around at the other guys, “I’ll say this again. I grew up here. Anyone who knows me knows this, I never go looking for trouble. But if anyone gets the idea in their head to cross me, I’m not going to just roll over and take it.”
They all laughed nervously. Gu Fei focused on one of them in particular, “San Gou.”
“Ayy, I know I know.” The one he called San Gou came over and clapped Gu Fei on the shoulder. “This must’ve been a misunderstanding, yeah!”
“I appreciate the courtesy.” Gu Fei bent down and picked up the rubber baton from the ground, and returned it to the back fender of the motorcycle.
San Gou waved his hand, and the others, after some hesitation, all turned and left with him. Out of these so-called helpers Li Hui had brought, not one of them even bothered to go help him up before leaving.
Jiang Cheng stared in shock at Li Hui lying on the ground, and was suddenly overcome with a feeling he couldn’t quite name.
This place, and the people here, all of which were difficult to describe with satisfaction.
“Let’s go.” Gu Fei got onto his bike. “Do you still have to go upstairs to get your books?”
“Mhm, I’ll……go get them.” Jiang Cheng shot another glance at Li Hui, and lowered his voice. “What about him?”
“He’ll walk away on his own in a bit,” Gu Fei said. “Not like I broke any bones.”
“Then wait for me.” Jiang Cheng quickly turned into the stairwell.
He ran upstairs and picked up the backpack he’d already packed, put his slingshot back in the drawer, then pulled a T-shirt at random from his closet, before running back downstairs.
When he came out again, Li Hui was no longer lying on the ground. Jiang Cheng looked down the street, and saw Li Hui slowly cross the road with his back hunched over.
“Put this on.” Jiang Cheng tossed the T-shirt to Gu Fei.
“He’s not gonna come bother you again.” Gu Fei glanced down the road as he put the shirt on. “My guess is he probably owes money somewhere.”
Jiang Cheng sighed.
“If he comes again, you still gotta tell me. Don’t get into a direct conflict with him.” Gu Fei continued. “You must not touch these kinds of people, don’t let it affect your studying and your exams.”
“And what about you?” Jiang Cheng frowned.
“I know how to deal with these kinds of people.” Gu Fei smiled. “Don’t worry.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t reply as he got on the bike behind Gu Fei. As the engine roared to life, he gently rubbed his hands against Gu Fei’s sides, “Is this the only way? To deal with these things?”
“Mhm,” Gu Fei answered. “How else? You don’t even have a reason to call the police, and they can’t do anything about it either. If you want to appeal to their reason, well, if he’s reasonable he wouldn’t have come to you in the first place. For these people, your only choice is to beat them into submission, until they don’t dare to come bother you again.”
“This is also how you used to resolve things before, right?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“Cheng-ge,” Gu Fei smiled as he extinguished the engine, and turned to look at Jiang Cheng. “I know what you’re thinking.”
“Do you?” Jiang Cheng looked back at him.
“If it was before,” Gu Fei said. “Every single one of them who was here just now, I wouldn’t have let them go. I’d be counting everyone in attendance, don’t anyone even think of leaving.”
“Why didn’t you do that today?” Jiang Cheng smiled.
“Trying to take after the overachiever,” Gu Fei said. “Trying to follow the boyfriend’s example, and to keep my boyfriend from worrying.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t speak, only patted his back.
“Let’s go get breakfast?” Gu Fei started the engine again.
“Mhm,” Jiang Cheng nodded. “My treat.”
When Li Hui’s call came first thing in the morning, Jiang Cheng also couldn’t think of any other way to resolve this other than go out and give him a beating.
If Gu Fei hadn’t come, and he had come downstairs to face Li Hui himself, it would have happened the same way.
It was like Gu Fei said, he didn’t even have a reason to call the police. Nor did he have the energy. A high school senior busy with studying and preparing for the exams seemed to have no other choice when going up against a scoundrel like Li Hui.
And yet — he stared at the back of Gu Fei’s head — even if Gu Fei no longer acted like he used to, Jiang Cheng still felt uneasy.
No matter how Gu Fei tried to “follow the boyfriend’s example”, he was the only one doing it. Aside from him, no one else around here — surely the majority of people — would follow anyone’s example. They would never change.
Jiang Cheng could leave this place. He most certainly would leave this place. But what about Gu Fei?
Gu Fei shielded him from the filth and sludge, but then what?
Jiang Cheng bowed his head, and leaned against Gu Fei’s back.
Yes, even now, he still didn’t know what to do. Gu Fei had gone from being full of hope, to burying his hope, to closing his eyes in peace; he didn’t know what to do either.
But even so. He couldn’t help but clench his jaw.
Gu Fei has to leave this place.
No matter how hard it is, he has to leave this place.
It wasn’t that Gu Fei didn’t have hope, he only buried it.
Just as Jiang Cheng was full to the brim with determination, just as his spirits were flying high, Gu Fei suddenly leaned back a little and pushed against him. Jiang Cheng was only a second away from bursting out in song.
Come away with me!
We ride at dawn!
“Sit up straight,” Gu Fei turned his head. “There are Fourth High students up ahead.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng looked ahead. They had already turned onto the road where they usually went to get breakfast. There were quite a few people standing and sitting around the breakfast stalls. “You can still see without your glasses?”
“I guessed.” Gu Fei said.
Jiang Cheng started laughing.
“It’s true my eyesight can’t compare to yours, even from upstairs you didn’t miss a shot.” Gu Fei said. “When did you buy a new slingshot?”
“Pan Zhi gave it to me last time he was here,” Jiang Cheng said. “This one is really…… I feel like next time he might just straight up give me a crossbow.”
“It’ll be October 1st soon, will he visit again?” Gu Fei stopped the bike. 
Indeed there were a few students from the Fourth High at the breakfast stalls. Frankly, Jiang Cheng didn’t recognize any of them. He could only tell who they were because when he and Gu Fei got off the bike, these people all turned to look at them in unison.
“He can’t come, his fourth grandpa has just passed away, on such short notice he can’t make up any more relatives to pass away again. Not to mention, if they died too frequently, nobody would believe it.” Jiang Cheng said. “Fourth High doesn’t give days off for October 1st anyway, but mainly it’s because I can’t afford to lose any more time.”
There were no more vacant tables at the breakfast stalls. The two of them bought breakfast, took a turn about the tables, and finally had to make do with sharing a table with two other Fourth High students.
These two were probably a young couple. As soon as the two of them sat down, the couple exchanged glances knowingly, took a sip of soy milk, then swept their eyes over Gu Fei’s face.
Jiang Cheng frowned. He could already begin to see how powerful the words “composer Gu Fei” were.
He looked at Gu Fei worriedly. Gu Fei himself was pretty calm. He had a fried dough fritter in one hand and a bowl of tofu pudding in the other, and was happily eating away.
When the couple finally finished eating, and stood up to leave, Jiang Cheng let out a breath of relief, “Shit.”
“What.” Gu Fei finished his own tofu pudding, then grabbed Jiang Cheng’s as well and took a couple of gulps.
“Nothing,” Jiang Cheng picked up a bun. “I just think these people are so annoying, openly staring at you like that. The fuggedy fack are they staring at.”
Gu Fei smiled a little, and didn’t speak.
When they arrived at school, they continued to receive all sorts of looks. Jiang Cheng was a little sorry that he didn’t encourage Gu Fei to skip class.
However, it was much better after they entered their classroom. After all, the people of Class-8 had been in the same room with Gu Fei for so long, that even if they were surprised, they didn’t have as extreme a reaction as everyone else.
Besides, there was the fake tyrant of the class, captain Wang Jiuri, trying to forcefully steal the show.
“Exactly!” Wang Xu was sitting on his desk, boasting to the people around him. “I just don’t bother to show off normally, when I started fooling around with the guitar, you all were probably still shower singers!”
“Anyways, my skill level is only okay.” Wang Xu turned and spotted Jiang Cheng, and immediately beckoned. “Jiang Cheng! Come tell them, how was that solo interlude I added before! Did it not add a lot to our performance!”
“Yes.” Jiang Cheng nodded earnestly, and gave him a thumbs up.
“Are you planning to apply to a music school?” Somebody asked.
‘We’ll have to see, it’s not like you have to get into a music school to learn this,” Wang Xu’s expression was solemn. “What if one day I fly out of this shitty place and end up in some big city, I gotta have a skill I can live on!”
“Oh…… Everyone nodded their heads in unison.
Jiang Cheng chuckled, but suddenly felt a little melancholy as he sat down.
Even Wang Xu would talk big about his dream of someday making it out of this place, and dared to call his guitar playing as something to live on……
Gu Fei was the one who actually had a skill to live on, more than one, at that.
Even if he were to apply to the shitty local schools, if Gu Fei wanted to, he could at least get into the most unshitty one of the shitty bunch.
Jiang Cheng glanced at Gu Fei. He wouldn’t tell Gu Fei this. Right now, everything was still up in the air. If Gu Fei didn’t wish to be woken up, he could not wake him.
Jiang Cheng sighed and slumped over his desk.
He was sleepy. He hadn’t slept well the entire night, and with Li Hui causing a ruckus so early in the morning, he only felt an extreme fatigue now that everything had quieted down.
In the short hour of the morning self-study period, he must’ve yawned at least eight hundred and sixty times, his vision was practically covered with tears.
“How are you this sleepy?” Gu Fei set down the phone he’d been playing with. “Have you been thinking inappropriate thoughts the whole night?”
“Fuck off.” Jiang Cheng laughed, then as soon as he stopped, he yawned again.
“How about you……doze for a bit?” Gu Fei asked.
“Nah, I still gotta copy down the key points.” Jiang Cheng rubbed his eyes. “Looks like I’ll need to buy a voice recorder.”
“Do you want me to take notes for you?” Gu Fei asked.
“What?” Jiang Cheng blinked.
“The key points you were talking about, and notes,” Gu Fei said. “I’ll take them down for you, you just have to listen, and if you can’t stay awake, you can snooze for a while?”
“Then, you’ll……” Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Fei, and pushed his own notebook toward him. “Help me take notes?”
“Mhm,” Gu Fei flipped open the notebook. “Ah, the first class is English?”
“……You don’t even know what the first class is?” Jiang Cheng smiled.
“I don’t know what any class is, I only find out when the teacher walks into the room.” Gu Fei glanced at Lao-Lu, who had just entered the classroom. “When you review the notes, will you be so stimulated by my beautiful handwriting that you won’t be able to focus?”
“Oh get over yourself.” Jiang Cheng said.
As usual, Lao-Lu first slammed his warrior god palm on the lectern to stun the sleepy students to a half-awake state, before starting his lecture.
Jiang Cheng flopped over the desk with his head resting on his arm. He listened to Lao-Lu with his ears, while his eyes stayed on Gu Fei.
Gu Fei twirled the pen, looking a little nervous, probably because he had never taken proper notes before, let alone English notes.
When Lao-Lu turned to the black board and started writing down key focus points, Gu Fei put his head down and started to copy.
Jiang Cheng’s mind wandered as he stared at Gu Fei’s profile.
When you open your eyes, I’ll definitely hear it.
: San Gou = 三狗 = Three Dogs or Third Dog ↩
: Zhonghua: brand of cigarettes (expensive)
Maotai: brand of sorghum liquor (high end) ↩
: October 1st: the National Day of China – the formation of the PRC, aka major major holiday. ↩
- Raw character count: 6633
- TL word count: 4847
- TL time: 6:04:46
- Edit time: 1:23:34
- Curse words: 9x fucks, 8x shit, 1x ass
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