Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofi
The moment he jumped out of the window, the cold wind poured into his breath, squeezed into his pores and finally penetrated inside his body.
It felt amazing.
The broken glass that fell under the window sill made a few short and crisp sounds beneath his feet – Jiang Cheng felt that his feeling of suffocation had finally disappeared.
The sky outside was a complete blanket of darkness with no street lights. The moon had gone somewhere unknown, leaving only the faint light that was visible from the windows of various households, which made it possible to vaguely see that this was the back of the building that had not been cleared of a large area of snow.
Jiang Cheng fished his cell phone out of his pocket and turned on the flashlight before treading ahead through the snow with deep and light steps, from the back of the building to the end of a small street.
Ahead was some sort of small factory with no road there.
He stopped and stood in the darkness.
After the immense outburst, he slowly calmed down in the cold wind and was now somewhat at a loss.
Where to go?
What to do?
Without a goal or a purpose.
He looked down at the time on his phone and pondered on what he should do now.
It’s too fucking cold, shit. He had actually forgotten to put on a jacket when he jumped out.
There was a trace of a dirty smear on the phone screen. He used his fingers to rub at it, unfortunately, not only was the previous trace not erased, but a new one was added.
The highly dark surroundings were the culprits in making it nearly impossible for him to clearly see what it was, and he could only vaguely feel that his fingers were wet.
But soon he reacted and quickly turn the phone screen toward his own fingers and searched.
“Fuck,” he said in a low voice.
It was a bit frightening – a bloody hand.
The bitter cold hand had gone somewhat numb, he couldn’t feel the pain at all; he even looked until he found the cut in the center of his palm.
Quite deep – the blood was still gushing without a sign of stopping.
Jiang Cheng searched around in both of his pants pockets yet couldn’t even find a scrap of paper – all he could do was pull down the corner of his sweater and firmly held onto it at his palm.
Such a cold day did not actually freeze the wound up.
… that’s right, such a cold day.
He didn’t even have a jacket.
It was only until this moment that Jiang Cheng seemed to have been suddenly roused by the bone-chilling coldness.
No coat, no money, and endlessly flowing blood.
He assessed the direction and ran to the junction of the small street to the side; Li Bao Guo had mentioned that there was a community hospital over there where you could ask someone to help bind up a wound first and stay warm.
After running for a few steps, he could barely endure the cold – the running changed into hopping and skipping, soon he couldn’t even feel the warmth of his own breath.
It’s so fucking cold!
Li Bao Guo had said that that community hospital was not particularly obvious – he actually was not wrong; it was far more unclear, and Jiang Cheng only saw it when he ran over.
Even the lights weren’t turned on.
… the lights aren’t turned on?
He was stunned, the lights aren’t turned on.
Only when he squinted his eyes to look at the front door did he see a sign hanging there. The bitter cold had made his eyes tremble involuntarily, and as he got closer for a better look; the general idea was that the doctor had returned home for dinner.
“… no way!” He knocked on the door twice but there was no response.
There was a phone number on the sign, but he didn’t call it – if he actually did, he would have to wait for the doctor to come back; he reckoned that by then, he would have already frozen to death there.
He scrunched his eyebrows and turned to look to the side.
Gu Fei’s family shop was probably about five meters in distance from there and the lights were on.
Although he was very much reluctant to have Gu Fei see him in a sorry state again… it was just too fucking cold!
He hopped over there, opened the door to the shop and lifted up the curtain.
The warmth that struck him in the face made his entirely stiff body and cramped tendons relax almost immediately.
But then he caught himself and stared blankly – somewhat awkward.
He didn’t know the reason for why he always felt a sense of awkwardness every time he entered Gu Fei’s shop.
The space where ‘bu shi hao niao’ sat in last time now had a small table there, and on there was an electric stove cooking something – a pot that was braving the heat… it was probably lamb meat soup, he could smell it.
Gu Fei was in the process of giving Gu Miao a ladle of soup.
And in the position that was directly facing the door was a woman, over twenty years of age or so.
Apart from the slightly large disparity in age, they looked like a family of three, and that made Jiang Cheng suddenly feel as though he did not appear at a good time at all.
“You…” Gu Fei twisted his head around only to be taken aback when he saw him. “What’s going on?”
“Can you not ask?” Jiang Cheng said, “I just… passed by.”
“Your friend?” The woman looked at Gu Fei and asked.
“En.” Gu Fei stood up and walked up toward Jiang Cheng, his gaze dropping down to his hand.
The woman also stood up: “What’s the matter…”
“The first-aid kit,” Gu Fei turned and said.
“En.” She quickly walked into the small room.
Meanwhile, Gu Miao sat completely still at the side of the table with a spoon held tightly in her hand. Her eyes widened, somewhat looking anxiously over there.
Jiang Cheng noticed that Gu Fei had moved a bit closer to him, blocking the center of Gu Miao’s line of sight – he in turn, quickly brought his hand to his back to hide it.
“Go into the room,” Gu Fei said.
Jiang Cheng quickened his steps into the small room, the woman had already brought out the first-aid kit and when she saw him, she said softly: “Hand?”
“En,” Jiang Cheng replied, “The community hospital…”
“The doctor always eats at this time,” the woman said. “Is it serious? I’ll help you clean up first, disinfect the wound.”
“It’s not serious,” Jiang Cheng looked at the medical kit, everything seemed to be there. “I can do it myself.”
“Just one hand requires a lot more effort ah,” the woman laughed. “It’s faster if I help you treat it.”
“A knife wound?” Gu Fei asked as he entered.
“No,” Jiang Cheng hesitated for a moment and loosened the hand that had been gripping the sweater.
After loosening his hand, he was utterly shocked at the sight – the sweater had already been dyed with a large area of bloodstain.
“You…” Gu Fei frowned as he looked at his hand and then glanced toward the sweater before saying to the woman: “Let me do it.”
“It’s fine, would I actually be scared by this little wound,” the woman smiled and pushed him. “You can just go and keep Gu Miao company, I can see that she was very anxious just now.”
“En…” Gu Fei hesitated for a moment, then turned and walked out, but he stopped after two steps and turned his head to introduce the two. “My classmate, Jiang Cheng. This is my older sister, Ding Zhu Xin.”
“You can just call me Xin Jie1,” Ding Zhu Xin laughed and pulled Jiang Cheng’s hand over. “Let me take a look… the wound seems to be quite deep ah…”
“Really?” Jiang Cheng responded.
Zhu Xin? This name wasn’t skillfully thought of – the core of bamboo is hollow.2
Jiang Cheng expressed mild confusion toward the emergence of his rather sudden artistic train of thought that day.
“I will use saline to clean it up for you first,” Ding Zhu Xin said. “Then use iodine in a bit.”
“En,” Jiang Cheng nodded, “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,” Ding Zhu Xin said smiling.
With the temperature in the room having been set on high, his body soon warmed up, but the pain from the wound seemed to have also awakened and started to hurt tremendously.
After Ding Zhu Xin helped him clean the blood on his hand, he found that the gash was indeed not small.
“Must’ve been cut by glass huh,” Ding Zhu Xin said. “How careless.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t speak.
Gu Fei’s older sister surname is Ding? Did she take the mom’s surname?
And although Ding Zhu Xin was very beautiful and had an unearthly pale skin that was nearly transparent, from Jiang Cheng’s perspective, the long and thick lashes covered her eyes – but it was completely different from Gu Fei and Gu Miao.
“You’re Gu Fei’s older sister?” he asked.
“Not biological,” Ding Zhu Xin laughed. “He calls me sister, I used to live in the apartment above his family’s.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng also laughed.
“I watched him grow up, and as a kid, he was my follower.” After Ding Zhu Xin applied the iodine for him, she took out the gauze from the first-aid kit and covered the wound. “You can only leave it like this first, wrap it and then have the doctor take a look at it later.”
“Thanks,” Jiang Cheng stood up.
“Why are you always saying thanks huh,” Ding Zhu Xin said casually as she put away everything into the first-aid kit. “Whenever I help Da Fei with his wounds, he has never said thank you.”
He really doesn’t have any manners.
Jiang Cheng said to himself – thinking about it again, perhaps they were too comfortable in each other’s presence.
After he came in, although Ding Zhu Xin only said a few words to Gu Fei, he could sense that they were very familiar with each other – especially after Ding Zhu Xin turned her face to the side, Jiang Cheng saw a small musical note on her earlobe…
He didn’t expect Gu Fei to have this kind of preference… no matter how you look at this woman, she was at least four to five years older.
“So, you’re Da Fei’s classmate?” Ding Zhu Xin asked. “It seems I haven’t seen you before… but then again, he doesn’t have much to do with his classmates.”
“I just transferred over,” Jiang Cheng said.
“It’s like that huh,” Ding Zhu Xin glanced at him.
“All better now?” Gu Fei pushed open the door.
“All better,” Ding Zhu Xin said. “Just have Dr. Zhang take a look at it when he returns.”
“Is the wound deep?” Gu Fei asked again.
“How deep can it be with just one cut,” Jiang Cheng said.
“Er Miao wants me to ask ‘Cheng Ge, have you eaten yet?’” Gu Fei glanced out.
“… not yet,” Jiang Cheng answered somewhat depressingly.
“That’s perfect, let’s eat together,” Ding Zhu Xin said. As she walked out, her hand landed naturally on Gu Fei’s shoulder. “I was just saying I bought too much lamb meat today, the two of them wouldn’t be able to finish it all.”
“Isn’t it inconvenient?” Jiang Cheng hesitated and lowered his voice.
“What’s inconvenient?” Gu Fei didn’t comprehend what he meant but still subconsciously followed him in reducing his volume.
“Umm…” Jiang Cheng quickly cast a glance at Ding Zhu Xin’s back, “Your sister.”
Gu Fei was stunned and then leaned back on the door frame with a hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth. “Oh.”
“Oh?” Jiang Cheng looked at him.
“It’s not inconvenient, isn’t Er Miao also there.” Gu Fei went inside the room, took out a sweater from the cabinet and threw it on the bed. “Change out of that, she’ll be scared.”
After Gu Fei walked out, he picked up the sweater and checked out the size, good enough, and then he changed into it.
Then he looked down at it again and analyzed it, this sweater shouldn’t have been knitted by Gu Fei, right…
“Need help?” Gu Fei shouted from the other side.
“No need!” He replied quickly and folded the clothes he had changed out of before placing them on the chair next to him.
As soon as he walked out of the room, the thick aroma of lamb soup that pervaded the inside of the shop immediately attacked his nostrils – Jiang Cheng’s hunger was of such intensity that his heart shook with anxiousness.
“Smells good huh,” Ding Zhu Xin was putting a ladle of soup in a bowl.
“En,” Jiang Cheng walked over and sat down at the side of the small table.
“This is the very first time I’ve ever seen Er Miao want someone to stay to eat – what a great improvement after having not been here for two months!” Ding Zhu Xin picked up two pieces of lamb meat and placed them in Gu Miao’s bowl, “Jiang Cheng, have you transferred here for a long time? Was it last semester?”
“This semester,” Jiang Cheng said.
“Ah,” Ding Zhu Xin looked at him a good few seconds, then laughed and placed a bowl of soup in front of him. “How unexpected.”
Gu Miao drank the soup while secretly glancing at the gauze wrapped around Jiang Cheng’s hand.
“It’s fine now,” Gu Fei grabbed Jiang Cheng’s hand and put it before her. “Look.”
Jiang Cheng was injured on the right hand – the chopsticks were already being held with unsteadiness, consequently, with that sudden grab, the chopsticks flew out of his hand and fell to the floor.
Gu Miao very carefully touched his hand lightly.
“Let go,” Ding Zhu Xin gave Gu Fei’s hand a slap and then picked up the chopsticks. “His hand is still injured yet you grabbed it so violently.”
“I’ll go wash it,” Gu Fei reached out to get the chopsticks.
“I’ll go…” Jiang Cheng wanted to stand up.
“You two can just sit down, it’s not like I’m eating.” Ding Zhu Xin got up and walked out the back door.
“She’s not eating?” Jiang Cheng was shocked, just now realizing that there were only three bowls and three pairs of chopsticks on the table – a sense of awkwardness mixed with embarrassment struck him. It should not be that there were only three bowls and three pairs of chopsticks altogether but then adding him, there wasn’t enough?!
“She doesn’t eat at night, it’s been like that for many years.” Gu Fei gave him his chopsticks, “I haven’t used them.”
“I’m not in a rush,” Jiang Cheng said.
“You’re really not in a rush?” Gu Fei tilted his head to the side and looked at him, “I feel like your gaze has become dead from hunger.”
“Fuck off.” Jiang Cheng took his chopsticks, picked up a piece of lamb meat and put it in his mouth.
It was probably really due to the acute hunger that out of nowhere, this piece of lamb meat immediately topped the three most delicious food he had eaten in the last two years.
When Ding Zhu Xin returned and saw the chopsticks in Jiang Cheng’s hand, she froze, then placed the clean chopsticks in front of Gu Fei. She said lightly: “I’m leaving ah.”
“En,” Gu Fei stood up and grabbed her coat from behind the checkout counter for her.
“You’re not going to eat a bit? It’s very… delicious.” Jiang Cheng also stood and said even though he didn’t know what to say exactly, and after he did say it, he felt even more awkward.
“You guys can just eat it – eat a bit more.” Ding Zhu Xin laughed and put on her coat. “I’m on a diet.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng hesitated for a moment but then sat back down only to see Gu Miao pointing at the pot of meat. He nodded his head, “I’ll get it for you.”
However, Gu Miao then pointed at his empty bowl.
“I’m… not in a rush.” Jiang Cheng felt a bit embarrassed – he was hungry to such an extent that even the little girl could see it, so in order to show that he was not in a rush, he had to turn his head to look at Gu Fei and Ding Zhu Xin.
“Keys,” Ding Zhu Xin reached out her hand toward Gu Fei.
“Aren’t you cold?” Gu Fei asked, fishing his motorcycle keys out of his pocket.
“When I was street-racing, you were still occupied with studying all the way from primary to junior middle school.” Ding Zhu Xin took the keys, turned around and left the shop.
Gu Fei followed behind to the door for a glance and then returned to sit back down.
After Ding Zhu Xin left, Jiang Cheng was inexplicably relieved. This was indeed the first time he felt such a strong sense of awkwardness with a girl around.
Ding Zhu Xin was very beautiful, also it was the kind of beauty that was emphatically not unassuming and not aggressive. Ordinarily, he would look a little longer if he were to come across that kind of appearance on the street.
As he picked up the meat, his hand was still hurting. He did not dare to use much strength; looking at his own posture, it looked like he was about to explode, afraid that if his hand tremble even the slightest, the meat would drop on the table.
Gu Fei took a big colander spoon from the side, put it in the pot and scooped out a large spoonful of lamb and passed it over to Jiang Cheng. “It looks tough on you.”
“Thanks.” Jiang Cheng moved half of the meat into his own bowl, then pulled Gu Miao’s bowl over and moved the remaining into her bowl.
“How did you hurt your hand?” Gu Fei asked.
Jiang Cheng did not answer but that stemmed from truly not knowing what to say. Gu Fei must have known about Li Bao Guo’s family. If he was to mention the situation, it would only give others another topic to converse – although, Gu Fei did not appear to be someone who gossiped about these kinds of things.
He was silent for a moment: “Bit myself.”
Gu Miao looked at him, and after being stunned, she laughed out loud.
“That’s a pretty good bite,” Gu Fei nodded his head. “Still, better to learn to cherish yourself. In the future, bit down lightly.”
Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Miao and laughed with her before he drank all his soup.
“Are you going back in a bit?” Gu Fei asked.
“I’m not,” Jiang Cheng answered very straightforwardly this time.
“You have any place to go?” Gu Fei took two vegetables from a small basket to the side and put them in the pot.
“Yes,” Jiang Cheng said but was then somewhat hesitant. He went quiet for almost two minutes then once more spoke with difficulties. “Do you have money? Lend me some.”
“How much?” Gu Fei put down his chopsticks.
Jiang Cheng thought about it, “Just 500.3 I can transfer the money to you on my phone.”
“Whatever,” Gu Fei pulled out his wallet and took out 500.
“Thanks,” Jiang Cheng took the money, feeling quite at peace. He picked up his phone while saying, “Just friend me, I’ll transfer it over to you.”
“Actually, once you get out of the intersection and turn right, there’s a fork in the road about 200 meters away. If you walk in there all the way to the end, there’s a Rujia4 Hotel.” Gu Fei turned his phone on, “You will use less than 500.”
Jiang Cheng looked at him but did not speak as he picked up his bowl and sip a mouthful of soup.
Although Gu Fei didn’t guess wrong – and couldn’t guess wrong – under such circumstances, he had no choice aside from going to a hotel, but if he was to put it that way, it would make him lose face.
His phone sounded and he looked down at the screen.
It was Gu Fei’s friend request.
小兔子乖乖. (Gentle little bunny.)
This nickname nearly made him spout the soup in his mouth onto the phone.
“This is you?” he faced the phone in front of Gu Fei.
“En, cute right?” Gu Fei said with a face of calmness.
“…very cute,” Jiang Cheng was somewhat speechless. After accepting the request, he took another look at Gu Fei’s profile picture – quite suitable with the nickname: a green-colored rabbit. If he wasn’t mistaken, with the skill level and use of color, the artist should be Gu Miao. “This profile picture, did Gu Miao draw it?”
Gu Miao nodded her head from the side.
“The drawing is… very nice,” Jiang Cheng praised very insincerely. Gu Miao’s drawing skills were comparatively 724 of Xiao Ming’s grandfather lesser than her skateboarding skills.
When he was preparing to transfer the money to Gu Fei, the door to the shop sounded; someone pulled it up and lifted the curtain to the side just the slightest.
He glanced over there and felt a bit strange. It was normal to buy things at this time – why the hell would you only lift the corner of the curtain as if you were sneaking a peek…
Without waiting for him to understand, Gu Fei had already thrown his phone on the table and jumped up.
“Ai?” He stared blankly, holding up the cellphone in his hand as he watched Gu Fei dash out, catching a thief?
Generally speaking, he didn’t like to meddle in other people’s business, in that way, it wouldn’t be a problem to live to 103 years old later on. But he was at Gu Fei’s place right now and Gu Fei had already dashed out – it was impossible for him to simply sit still.
He stood up and prepared to go out. Just as he wanted to tell Gu Miao not to come out, he looked down only to see that Gu Miao was unexpectedly still eating as if nothing had happened.
“I’ll go take a look,” Jiang Cheng said before he also turned around and ran out.
As soon as was out of the shop, he saw Gu Fei clutching the collar of a man who was struggling with all his might.
With the light illuminating from the dilapidated street lamp being somewhat hazy, he could only see that the man was about 30 years old, wearing a faux leather jacket and skintight pants that wrapped around his slender legs, making them look like two toothpicks – looking at them would make one feel disgusted.
“What the hell are you doing?! Let go!” The man grabbed Gu Fei’s hand firmly, however, regardless of whether it was height or strength, he was clearly not Gu Fei’s opponent. After being tormented for a long while and with Gu Fei not moving, he could only shout again. “Let go!”
“Did I or did I not tell you not to let me see you again?” Gu Fei kept his voice down.
“Who do you think you are? Why should I give a fuck if you’ve said it or not, so what if you did?” The man moved his face in front of Gu Fei’s with provocation. “I’m here now, you can see me, right?! What are you going to do about it? You…”
The series of questions had yet to be completely arranged when Gu Fei firmly gripped his collar and swung him over toward the tree to the side.
The man was like a hollow inflatable air dancer as his face went forward and his entire body smashed against the tree trunk.
Jiang Cheng felt as though his eyes had been magnified along with the sound – it was the first time he knew that the weight of a human body could make such a loud sound from colliding against wood.
After this sound, the world became quiet.
The man stood plastered to the street for two seconds before he slowly slid down the trunk, kneeled on the ground and then leaned crookedly to the side, collapsing there motionlessly.
“Fuck!” Jiang Cheng took two steps over there. Is he dead?
After staring for a while with no sign of movement from the man, Jiang Cheng turned his head to look at Gu Fei, who did not speak for a long time.
Although this person was thin and did not have a tall stature, he was a man after all, yet he was so easily flung toward the tree by Gu Fei using only one arm – if a slow-motion effect was in place, it would be at least two to three seconds…
He suddenly felt a cold chill run down his spine, with Gu Fei’s skill, having killed a person or two would make sense.
“Go in,” Gu Fei glanced at him and walked toward the shop. “Aren’t you cold?”
“Who’s he?” Jiang Cheng returned to his senses, “That you can throw over there without care? What happens if he freezes to death?”
“If he’s dead, I’ll kill you off to silence you,” Gu Fei laughed.
Fanarts of this chapter by 机甲没充电 on Weibo
1 Jie 姐 – older sister Xin
2 The core of a bamboo is hollow – 丁 Ding (surname), 竹 (Zhu) bamboo, 心 (Xin) core/heart/center
3 500-yuan is about $73 USD, I think he wants cash, that’s why he said he will transfer the money back over to Gu Fei
4 Rujia – the name of a hotel chain that can be used as a residence and is considered inexpensive; the name RUJIA means ‘like home’.