Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofi
Gu Fei’s brow rose as he took out his earphones and tilted his head to the side to look at Jiang Cheng.
This guy is actually pretty difficult to deal with. Since he’s in a new and unfamiliar environment, he has to restrain himself.
He looked with great interest at the person in front of him, Zhou Jing, who was in complete shock with his mouth still wide open. If he had not eaten his egg already, he would have certainly shoved it in his mouth.
However, Jiang Cheng’s kick just now was considered enough to provoke someone. Zhou Jing was an annoying teenager with a bad temper and easy to rub the wrong way. If that kick had landed elsewhere… Gu Fei’s gaze swept to the right, then there should be a fight.
“What happened? What’s going on?” Lao Xu patted his desk. “We’re in class, we’re in class. Gu Fei, what are you doing?”
Gu Fei was taken aback. He used a finger to point at himself and his lips made a circular shape, “Me?”
“Isn’t it you!” Lao Xu said. “You must be bored out of your mind now that you’re done eating your breakfast!”
When the students in the surrounding tables burst out into a peal of laughter, Gu Fei could not help it and also laughed, twisting his head to look at Jiang Cheng.
“What are you looking at him for?” Lao Xu pointed at him. “His grades will leave you all in the dust!!”1
“Oh——” the entire class suddenly shouted.
[Xuébà – top student, Brainiac: more positive than ‘bookworm’, leaving in the Chinese]
“Lao Xu has a key target to cultivate now ahhh——”
Gu Fei sighed, Lao Xu, this intelligence of yours makes it look like you’re an innocent internship teacher who has never taught a chaotic class before. With just this one sentence, you have segregated Jiang Cheng from the rest of the class with a three-foot threshold.
Jiang Cheng looked at Lao Xu and wholeheartedly suspected that this person was a mole sent by his mother to torture him in any possible way.
Although he was not afraid of any kinds of provocations and he had not suppressed his temper since he had entered until that moment, he did not want to be praised about his grades by the homeroom teacher in a class where the word ‘chaotic’ could be easily seen with just a glance.
‘Xueba”, these two words combined to one were simply a type of ridicule.
“That’s enough,” Lao Xu cleared his throat. “Let’s continue with class… where were we…”
Before, Jiang Cheng was already not listening to what Lao Xu was lecturing about and now, he didn’t feel like listening even more. He simply lied on his desk and took out his cellphone.
In the past, he was like a thief when he sneaked to play with his phone in class; the ringtone and media both needed to be muted before he plugged the earphones and quietly slid the wire through the sleeves of his shirt and put it in his ear.
The homeroom teacher’s drawer was filled with a pile of confiscated cellphones, making it look just like a secondhand cellphone stall in the street.
Si Zhong was different. When Jiang Cheng’s gaze swept toward Gu Fei, he saw that his cellphone was already on the desk with a stand propping it up, and he obviously had earphones on as he hugged his arms and leaned back into the chair to watch the video.
Jiang Cheng rested his upper body on the desk. Lao Xu lectured as if he was chanting a Buddhist scripture and the ongoing chatters around him were no different. This never-ending chanting attacked him from all corners, making him dizzy and muddle-headed for half of the class—it was truly boring. He looked at his phone and sent Pan Zhi a message.
Pan Zhi replied immediately.
– Grandpa, what class are you in? Do you have time?
– Language and Literature, you?
– English, Lao Lv suddenly attacked us with a surprise test. I’m so dead.
– It’s not a formal exam, what is there to be dead about?
– I can’t even answer any of the questions. Lao Lv said something about digging deep and finding out the truth. I think he has a hidden agenda!
That message from Pan Zhi had an image attached to it. Jiang Cheng merely glanced at it and sighed, this was a page of multiple-choice questions and the angle of the image was just plain cunning. With one look, one could tell that this photo was secretly taken under the risk of saying goodbye to his cellphone for the whole summer.
He looked at the time and enlarged the image, then he looked at the questions and quickly started to write the answers on his notebook. Just as he had written two questions, Pan Zhi sent three more images in rapid succession. He glanced at them, somewhat speechless. Fuck, isn’t he just sending all the multiple-choice questions on the test paper…
After he sent Pan Zhi that one-word reply, he continued to look at the questions.
In fact, these were not considered to be hard questions since the answers could more or less be guessed. He did not know why Pan Zhi couldn’t even write out an answer.
With the surrounding still quite noisy, Jiang Cheng couldn’t help but admire Lao Xu’s endurability. Perhaps for a teacher who was already accustomed to teaching a chaotic class, his endurability was just naturally strong.
He still remembered that in his first year of high school, the chemistry teacher did not have a strong appeal. When someone chatted during class, her voice was ordinary compared to the one that he was listening to now; truthfully, Lao Xu’s would have made her cry out of anger. If she was switched to this class, she would definitely bawl her eyes out until she became a transparent glass wallflower.
Look at how awesome this Lao Xu was.
Jiang Cheng wrote out the answers while glancing up at Lao Xu, he was permissive towards people napping and chit-chatting. As long as you didn’t stand up and start dancing around the room, he didn’t even bother to stop his lesson.
Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Since Pan Zhi only sent multiple-choice questions, it didn’t take long for him to finish. Then, as he inputted the answers into their chatroom and sent them to Pan Zhi, he looked at the time. There were still a few minutes left before class ended, enough for him to copy the answers.
As for the other questions… Pan Zhi had always been too lazy to write, and sometimes, even too lazy to copy.
After he sent the message, he senselessly opened the -Moments- section of his WeChat2 and slowly scrolled down only to see Jiang Yijun… his beloved younger brother had posted a selfie of the family eating out; their mother and father were in the background—a family of three, joyous and harmonious. He suddenly felt suffocated, followed by a strange reaction of wanting to vomit.
After he blocked the family of three, he put his phone back into his pocket.
Just when he was about to look up, something fell on his head and before he could react, another one came; it was like a stone had been thrown on his head.
Immediately after, he saw a field of white dust and also smelled drywall.
“The fuck?” He was somewhat shocked as he looked up.
There was a large piece of white drywall on his desk, along with large and small broken pieces.
Jiang Cheng did not care much about it, his first reaction was to pat his head and then glance over at Gu Fei’s head.
Gu Fei’s phone was still on the desk, but whatever he was playing on the screen could no longer be seen. There was a layer of dust on his face and head, covering it completely in white, but even then, he maintained his previous posture of holding his arms together.
The only thing was, his complexion was a bit unsightly.
Jiang Cheng looked up at the ceiling only to see that the piece of drywall over their head had disappeared; obviously, it was all on their body and desk, exposing the wooden structure… indeed an old building ah.
When his sight returned to the desk, he saw a small black stone at the corner that should not be part of the drywall.
Just then, the bell to dismiss the class rang and Lao Xu closed the textbook. “Alright, the class is over… what… the drywall fell down again? Who is on duty today? Sweep it up.”
The second Lao Xu left, an uproar suddenly burst inside the room as everyone swung their heads to look at the last row.
At that moment, Jiang Cheng quickly determined that with the small stone, Gu Fei’s gloomy expression and the people who all stood up and looked back as soon as the bell rang with faces that read ‘a good show is about to start’… the drywall would ordinarily fall down on its own, but this time, it certainly did not fall on its own.
He sat still without moving, took out a napkin from his bag and slowly wiped the white dust on his desk to the floor.
In this kind of circumstance that lacked purposes, it was actually quite easy for him to control his own anger.
Gu Fei pushed his desk and stood up, took off his jacket and shook it a few times before he looked up at Wang Xu.
“Da Fei, I’m sorry.” Wang Xu had already gotten up, placed an arm on his shoulder and casually patted his jacket. “Go, let’s go to the snack counter. I’ll get a drink for you.”
Gu Fei shook off his arm, wore his jacket and left through the back door of the classroom.
Wang Xu quickly followed and walked alongside him down the stairs. “Hey, Da Fei, it was really an accident.”
“En,” Gu Fei merely grunted. He did not feel like saying much to Wang Xu and having a head full of dust had definitely put him in a bad mood, especially when his eyes had only cleared up.
“I just wanted to fucking start with a bang3 and show that bastard what’s up,” Wang Xu said. “For a transfer student to act so fucking arrogant on the first day, if we don’t put him in his place, he won’t know that each place has its own rules!”
Gu Fei didn’t say anything and immediately turned left after going down the first floor.
“Hey, the snack counter,” Wang Xu said, “Where are you going?”
“To pee,” Gu Fei said.
“You’re going to pee all the way over to the teacher’s washroom? That’s too far,” Wang Xu retorted.
“Fewer people,” Gu Fei replied.
“Why be so particular just to pee… then I’ll just get you a milk tea,” Wang Xu said. “Is Assam milk tea4 okay?”
“Drink it yourself,” Gu Fei leaned to the side and said.
“Then Assam it is!” Wang Xu exclaimed.
Gu Fei simply sighed.
The washroom near the sports field was close to the teacher’s office, which inadvertently caused the students to normally not want to come here. In truth, not many teachers used it either as all the office buildings already had a washroom, so this area was quite peaceful.
Gu Fei took a stick of cigarette out of his pocket and walked in while lighting it, but just as he inhaled the door to the side opened and Lao Xu walked out.
“Xu Zong,” Gu Fei said unclearly with the cigarette hanging loosely in his mouth.
“You just have to smoke in the teacher’s washroom, what kind of a problem is this!” Lao Xu kept his voice down as he pointed at him, “Are you putting on a show of power ah! Who are you showing off to?”
“What power can I show by smoking?” Gu Fei laughed as he stood in front of a urinal. “I come at you with power, are you scared of me?”
“I’ll admire you.” Lao Xu walked over and pointed at his cigarette, “Put it out!”
Gu Fei sighed, put the cigarette butt in the squat toilet behind him and then pulled down his zipper and looked at Lao Xu. “I need to pee, now.”
Lao Xu sighed and turned to walk out of the toilet.
Just as Gu Fei pulled open the zipper area and started to pee, he suddenly stopped and said: “That Jiang Cheng…”
Because the distance was somewhat far, Lao Xu’s voice was very loud and resonated with grandeur in the toilet.
“Fuck…” Gu Fei propped up on the wall. He was actually startled by Lao Xu’s voice and nearly peed on his shoes. “Xu Zong, can you wait a moment!”
Lao Xu walked out.
Gu Fei zipped up, lit another cigarette, went into a random squat toilet, closed the door and smoked in there.
There was another important reason why he wanted to come here aside from the peacefulness, and that was that the toilet here smelled less.
Lao Xu was, in fact, a very earnest teacher beneath the surface. Unfortunately, it didn’t show in class and no one was willing to listen to him. A homeroom teacher with an EQ that wouldn’t add up to more than half a tael5 even with added water to the weight, so no matter how much energy he put into teaching his students, no one would buy it.
Sometimes, Gu Fei was tired for him.
After he walked out of the washroom, Lao Xu stood to wait for him on the snow-covered ground.
“Why don’t you just find him another seat,” Gu Fei said as he pulled his collar neatly.
“Is it because you don’t want to be his deskmate? Or you don’t want to have a deskmate?” Lao Xu looked at him, “Gu Fei ah, it’s not good for you to always be so unsociable.”
“Don’t analyze me,” Gu Fei said, “You’ve analyzed for two years and have never gotten it right even once.”
“Let’s just get along again, it’s only the first day.” Lao Xu laughed, “This Jiang Cheng… his grades are indeed pretty good, so having him as a deskmate can also have a good influence on you.”
Pretty good grades? Good influence?
When Gu Fei recalled how Jiang Cheng had leaned over his desk and played on his phone during the whole class, he found Lao Xu’s conclusion of ‘pretty good grades’ extremely hard to accept.
“I have to go to class,” Gu Fei said.
“Return to the classroom,” Lao Xu said, “Learn to get along, get along.”
When Gu Fei was on his way back to class, he ran into Wang Xu on the third-floor stairway who passed him the Assam milk tea.
“Thanks,” Gu Fei took the milk tea and went inside the classroom.
The second class for that day was English and the teacher had a pressing temperament and loud windpipe. Although he didn’t have any prestige with the students, just like Lao Xu, he could repeatedly scold or yell in a pattern that was many and varied—once he scolded, it would last half an hour in all different manners. Moreover, he had also fought with the students and was brave enough to withstand every difficult person without cowering in the least. Hence, ordinarily, if there was no particular matter to be fired up about, they would not provoke him and once the bell rang, they would simply enter the class.
The desk was already put in order and it did not seem like Jiang Cheng was the only one who had cleaned, since when Gu Fei came over, he happened to see Yi Jing walking away with a cleaning rag.
“Thanks,” Gu Fei said.
“It’s nothing,” Yi Jing said as she combed through her hair and smiled. “I’m on duty today.”
Gu Fei sat in his own seat and glanced at Jiang Cheng, who sitting rather quietly, leaning back into the chair looking at the blackboard ahead.
He took out his phone and prepared to continue watching the movie that he did not finish from before.
Just as the video started, Jiang Cheng suddenly stood up.
Not only that, he had easily grabbed his chair while his other hand held a long broom.
Gu Fei was stunned and quickly glanced over at Wang Xu. Wang Xu had just sat down and was happily chatting with his deskmate.
He frowned, is he going to strike directly?
This person was Wang Xu, aside from Gu Fei, this was the second name that Jiang Cheng remembered in the class.
Wang Xu’s seat was separated from his seat by a desk. The desks and chairs in the classroom were arranged inseparably close and dragging a metal chair over to Wang Xu would require him to bypass the teacher’s desk, which was slightly troublesome.
Thus, he put down the chair and said to the two people in the chair next to him: “Move.”
The two looked at him inexplicably, but still stood up and let him squeeze through from the back.
After he went through, he casually dragged one of their chairs over.
“Hey! What are you doing?!” that person shouted.
Jiang Cheng turned to look at him and that person stared at him for a mere two second then went completely silent.
With that, the whole class looked over, and knowing that he was being confronted, Wang Xu stood up very arrogantly. “Oh, you want to smash my head? Come, come, come, the xueba wants to give everyone a surprise…”
Jiang Cheng did not say anything as he grabbed the chair and placed it next to Wang Xu’s seat with a clang and slowly stepped back a few steps. Then he raised his hand that was holding the long broom up and let it fly toward the ceiling like a javelin, accurately jabbing the ceiling above Wang Xu’s head.
Wang Xu had already reacted when Jiang Cheng raised his hand, but when he turned to leave his seat, he was blocked by the chair that was placed to the side of his leg. Just as he wanted to kick the chair and make his way out, the broom and a large piece of the ceiling drywall had already smashed down on him.
His head and desk were entirely covered in white dust from all around.
After a brief silence in the class, a burst of screams and laughter sounded at the same time; some people had even stomped their feet on their desk as a period of disorder immediately ensued.
“The fuck, you bastard!” Wang Xu roared, kicked the chair and charged out.
Jiang Cheng did not dodge as he stood in the same place and waited for him to come. This kind of wide-open posture did not require him to take aim, a punch to his nose was enough for blood to gush out.
“What’s going on?!” a loud and violent roar suddenly came through from the classroom door.
This roar was probably the most earth-shaking roar that Jiang Cheng had ever heard in his life—full of noble aspiration and daringness that soared into the sky, scaring him to almost pouncing on Wang Xu.
“What are you doing, what are you doing?” A middle-aged male teacher waving a pointer stick rushed over and pointed at Jiang Cheng first. “Which class are you from? What are you doing here?!”
Before Jiang Cheng could answer, the teacher’s pointer poked Wang Xu’s face. “You! Your ears must be hollow! The bell has rung already, did you not hear it?! Are you deaf?! Can you hear it clearly now with this voice of mine?! Can you?! Can you?!”
After that, he also did not wait for Wang Xu to speak either as his pointer pointed to everyone else: “You all must be waiting to watch a show, right?! How about I put on a show for you?! Just give a round of applause! Clap, clap, clap! Come on!”
Once that bellow of rage ended, everyone in class quietened down. Wang Xu simply stared without any intention to continue to charge over, while Jiang Cheng was somewhat worried as he looked up at the ceiling, constantly thinking that if this teacher roared only one more time, the entire ceiling would surely collapse.
“Go back to your seats!” the teacher actually roared again, “Waiting for someone to carry you?! Who wants to tear the door down? How about I carry you all?!”
With that, low laughs and groans of complaints sounded in the classroom; Jiang Cheng turned to return to his own seat.
“You!” the teacher stopped him, “Which class are you from?”
“The xueba that just transferred here—” someone said.
The teacher stared at him with amazement as his eyes moved up and down for a good while. “Return to your seat! Are you waiting for someone to carry you, huh?”
Jiang Cheng was unable to collect himself from his roar; he glanced at him and then returned to his seat.
“Let’s start class!” the teacher patted his desk with the pointer in his hand. “Good morning ah, everyone!”
Jiang Cheng was stunned, the moment that English accent came out, he almost couldn’t help it and laugh out loud.
After the teacher started class, the person sitting in the desk ahead that had bumped his desk before bumped his desk again. But this time, he was not looking for Gu Fei and instead turned toward Jiang Cheng. “Hey, xueba, you’re pretty awesome, casually provoking Wang Xu like that.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t speak.
“Fuck off,” Gu Fei said from the side.
“The fuck?” the person whispered, “It’s not like I’m talking to you. Are you used to looking at me and saying that?”
“En,” Gu Fei propped his cellphone on the desk.
“You’re going to have some problems,” the person added as he turned to glance at the teacher’s desk and then quickly back at Jiang Cheng and said in a serious tone: “Wang Xu is definitely not finished with you. Our school has a back door, you kno…”
“What’s your name?” Jiang Cheng interrupted.
“Zhou Jing,” he said.
“Thanks,” Jiang Cheng said before he pointed at his chair. “Don’t. Bump. The. Desk. Again.”
“… oh.” Zhou Jing was shocked as he nodded.
Jiang Cheng opened his textbook, looked down and fixed his gaze on it.
Zhou Jing’s face went stiff for a while before eventually turning to face ahead.
Jiang Cheng thought that the beginning of the new semester was unusually wonderful for him, it was truly a pity that he did not have a habit of writing in a diary in normal times.
He did not care at all whether or not that person Wang Xu was finished with him or not. Now he only felt extremely depressed, that -Moment-, the selfie that exuded the warmth and comfort of a family after he disappeared made him suddenly have a sense of complete weightlessness.
Naturally, the people he didn’t care about didn’t care about him; it also conformed to logic.
Nonetheless, it was still suffocating.
He stared at the textbook, the smell of the paper and ink had the faint fragrance of milk. He suddenly felt a bit hungry and remembered that he did not eat breakfast in the morning.
He turned to the side only to see Gu Fei, who was watching a video while peeling open a milk candy.6
Gu Fei’s gaze met with his. After he paused for a moment, he reached into his pocket, took out another candy and placed it on his book before his gaze returned to the cellphone screen.
Jiang Cheng looked at the candy on his book, feeling somewhat baffled. However, his stomach was screaming since the smell of the milk candy floated over from Gu Fei’s side.
After hesitating for two minutes, he picked up the candy and peeled it open.
… to his surprise, it was not a milk candy!
It was a fruit candy!
He couldn’t control himself and turned his head to look at Gu Fei again.
Gu Fei looked at the fruit candy in his hand, looked down and reached into his own pocket again. When his hand reappeared, he placed a handful of candies directly on Jiang Cheng’s desk—there were all sorts of wrappers and flavors, certainly more than a dozen before him.
“Pick for yourself,” Gu Fei said.
Images of when Jiang Cheng went to Wang Xu:
1 人家成绩甩你们八百七十四条街 – literal: “His grades will throw you all 874 street behind!”
2 WeChat – mobile text and voice messaging service developed by Tencent and Moments is where users post status and pictures
3 Start with a bang (下马威) – display of severity immediately on taking office / (fig.) initial show of strength
4 Assam Milk Tea – I love milk teaaaaaaaa ❤ The freshly made one is better but I had my share of tasty canned and bottled ones
5 Tael – a Chinese unit of weight that, when applied to silver, was long used as a unit of currency. Most taels were equivalent to 1.3 ounces of silver.
6 Milk candy