Translate: Ice | Edit: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
Jiang Cheng didn’t know just what Gu Fei’s “favourite thing to eat” that he was taking him to was, and he didn’t ask either. He wasn’t even in the mood to eat at the moment. Anything he ate would probably taste the same anyway.
He only came to find Gu Fei because he didn’t want to be alone.
He didn’t want to go back, didn’t want to see Li Baoguo, didn’t want to know what he looked like after getting beaten up, didn’t want to hear Li Baoguo’s reason for the whole ordeal, didn’t want this, didn’t want that… just a multitude of “didn’t want”. It was enough to fill his originally empty mind, and there wasn’t anything he could do to stop it.
Plus, in this city, aside from Li Baoguo’s place and the school, the only other place he could go to was Gu Fei’s shop. It was pretty sad when he thought about it, but there wasn’t anything he could do.
Gu Fei tidied up the shop a bit and shut the door, “Wait for me a bit, I’m going to get the ride.”
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng wanted to ask whether it was a bike or motorcycle since it was so cold out that he really wasn’t that keen on riding it if it was a motorcycle. He would rather walk if that was the case, however, Gu Fei had already walked straight into the small alley next to the shop.
Whatever then, just how cold could it be? The Spring Basketball Competition was coming soon, so thinking along that line, it was already spring.
The sound of a motor resounded from the small alleyway; but that sound seemed rather weak in comparison to Gu Fei’s 250cc motorcycle.1
Just when Jiang Cheng was growing a little confused, a small cornmeal-coloured car2 that resembled a bun or even a mini bun drilled out of the alleyway.
Jiang Cheng watched, a little stupefied, as the ‘bun’ teetered to a stop in front of him. He then opened the door to the small vehicle.
“Hop in,” Gu Fei called out as he looked at him from inside the small bun.
“What… is this thing?” Jiang Cheng stared at the car. If he was seeing things correctly, this should be a small version of an elderly’s scooter.
“A car ah,” Gu Fei replied. “It can block the wind and rain, and even run on gas, much, much better than the ones that run on battery.”
“… oh.” Jiang Cheng walked over and stood beside the car door, then stared for a long time. “How the hell do I get in?”
Gu Fei glanced behind him and got out of the car, “You can… crawl in first.”
Jiang Cheng was a little hesitant. Gu Fei then added, “Even if I drive a beetle, you’d still have to crawl in if you want to get in the back right?”
“If it was a beetle I would be sitting in the co-pilot, okay?!” Jiang Cheng retorted.
“Hurry up,” Gu Fei took out his phone and checked the time, “His family’s shop closes at nine.”
Jiang Cheng had to squeeze into a space that was one foot wide between the door and the driver’s seat. His injury was throbbing, and the intensifying pain left him on the verge of tears.
He had seen old men use this thing to take their wives out to play; just how did those old ladies get in?
After he sat down, Gu Fei reached out and pulled down the back of the driver’s seat, “Couldn’t you have just pulled this down?”
Jiang Cheng stared at the much wider space that appeared in just a short amount of time and suddenly had the impulse to get out of the car and smack Gu Fei. He pointed at him, “You shut up.”
Gu Fei shut the door, started the car, and drove toward the street.
The car was so small that even when Jiang Cheng was sitting in the backseat, it felt no different from sitting in the backseat of Gu Fei’s bike.
However, it indeed blocked the wind and rain.
Looking out from the tiny car window, there was an inexplicable illusion of wandering on the street, scrounging for a whole day, and finally getting on the cornmeal-coloured bun to find a cheap stall for a bowl of noodles or something.
“Your family owns this car?” Jiang Cheng asked as he knocked against the plastic coverings.
“Mm,” Gu Fei made a sound of affirmation. “My mom bought this car. Sometimes it’s pretty convenient when you’ve got a load to carry.”
“… oh.” Jiang Cheng glanced at where he was seated, “How much can you carry with just this little bit of space?”
“Our shop doesn’t have many goods to pick up,” Gu Fei answered. “Usually there’s some people to deliver it over and sometimes we pick it up ourselves.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t speak up again as he watched Gu Fei drive past the bridge from that day. He guessed that if there was a place with anything delicious around the area, it would be on this side of the bridge.
What could it be? He saw a lot of shops when he went to eat dumplings that day; hotpots, skewers, western cuisine, Chinese food and the like. However, he didn’t want Gu Fei to treat him to something too expensive. You had to return the favour properly, it was too troublesome.
The small bun drove past the various shops lining the two sides of the street yet it did not stop, instead, it kept on going forward until it turned right into a small street next to it.
“Still not there yet?” Jiang Cheng couldn’t help himself from asking after feeling as though they had already left the area where they could eat.
“Almost there, it’s just up ahead.” Just as Gu Fei answered, he swerved into yet another street.
Jiang Cheng peered outside. This area was the same as Li Baoguo’s place – a dilapidated old part of the city with an especially downcast air.
The car slowed down and stopped in front of a few small restaurants. Jiang Cheng stared at them for a while. There was a bun shop, a noodle shop, and another shop that was…
“Come out.” Gu Fei opened the car door and hopped out.
“Hold on,” Jiang Cheng was a little confused as he squeezed out, “Why do I feel like these are breakfast shops?”
“They also sell breakfast.” Gu Fei shut the car door and pressed on the remote.
“My god, a car this small even has a remote control?” Jiang Cheng was stupefied.
“This car is one that even runs on oil; if even a battery-operated car has a remote control, why wouldn’t this one?” Gu Fei walked over to one of the stores, “It’s this one.”
Jiang Cheng looked at the shop; even though it had lights lit at the front, from the door to the lighting or the environment, it still seemed like a shady shop.
Once he saw the four characters written with a calligraphy brush hung beside the door that was downright ugly it could even compete with his writing, he froze.
“Wang, Er3, Stuffed, Flatbread4?” He pointed at the signboard, “You’ve brought me to eat meat pies in the middle of the night?”
“It’s really good,” Gu Fei parted the curtain, “Smell it.”
Jiang Cheng wasn’t in much of a mood to smell anything. The first dinner he was going to have with the guy was stuffed flatbread – to that, he still hadn’t recovered from his state of shock. However, all the tables in the shop were actually full and the business here was pretty good.
Yet, when he followed Gu Fei into the shop and caught sight of the waiter carrying over a pot of soup to the customers, the shock factor simply multiplied – his eyes almost popped out of their sockets.
“Da Fei, you came?!” Wang Xu threw the soup on a table. When he turned and saw Jiang Cheng, he also took a double take. “Fuck, Jiang Cheng? Someone as troublesome5 as you also came?”
“Ah,” Jiang Cheng sounded, watching as the bowlful of the soup that Wang Xu gave to the customer spilled on the table.
“Hey! What the hell, half the pot has spilled out!” an indignant customer cursed.
“I’ll get you another pot in a bit,” Wang Xu grabbed a rag and briskly wiped across the table and considered the job done. He walked to Gu Fei and Jiang Cheng, “How about the boxed room upstairs? It so happens to be empty.”
“Boxed room?” Jiang Cheng felt that he was never going to snap out of his daze – a flatbread restaurant had a boxed room.
The boxed room actually was a boxed room. All four sides were separated by wooden boards; there was even a small air conditioner.
“Jiang Cheng, what’s wrong with your face?” Wang Xu turned on the air conditioner in the box and stared at Jiang Cheng’s face. “Did you fight with somebody? Was it Hou Zi…”
“No,” Jiang Cheng cut him off. Even if it was only a passing breeze or the rustling of the grass, Wang Xu would still think it was Hou Zi. He almost felt like he owed Wang Xu if he didn’t pick a fight with Hou Zi again.
“Beef, pork, mutton, donkey, we’ll have a couple of each,” Gu Fei turned to Wang Xu. “And mutton soup. Have you eaten yet? If you haven’t, then have a piece.”
“Wait a moment, I’ll get it for you guys,” Wang Xu said. “I found two bottles of good wine that my dad hid, let’s drink some later.”
After he left, Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Fei, “This place was opened by Wang Xu’s family?”
“Mm,” Gu Fei nodded. “Wang Er is his dad. This place is pretty well-known in the city; there are even some people who drive all the way from the developed areas just to come here to eat.”
“Ah,” Jiang Cheng made a sound of understanding, feeling that there was nothing else he could say.
“I’m going to get some soup.” Gu Fei got up and headed out, “Have some soup first.”
After two minutes, he returned with three medium-sized pots of mutton soup on a large tray. Jiang Cheng could perceive that he was probably – finally – starting to return to reality. When he smelled the mutton soup, he had the feeling that he could devour all the pots.
Not long after, Wang Xu came in holding a simple basket containing around seven or eight stuffed flatbreads. “Fresh out of the oven. Eat while it’s hot, you can get some more later.”
Jiang Cheng grabbed one and took a bite, immediately feeling so moved from how delicious it was that he could shed tears. He practically swallowed without chewing it.
“The donkey meat one,” Wang Xu looked at him, “How is it?”
“Extremely,” Jiang Cheng took another bite, “Delicious.”
Wang Xu smiled proudly, “It’s got to be delicious! The donkey meat one is a must-have, anyone who comes has to eat at least two of them. Da Fei can eat ten!”
Jiang Cheng estimated that he could eat more than ten.
The stuffed flatbreads from Wang Xu’s place weren’t very big, one was around half the size of a palm. The skin was thin and the amount of filling was generous, both thick and soft, each bite was filled with the fragrance of meat – not greasy at all…
Wang Xu snuck over one of the bottles of wine that his dad hid. You couldn’t tell what brand it was since there wasn’t a label on the bottle, though the bottle looked pretty filthy.
“Want some?” Wang Xu brought a cup in front of Jiang Cheng.
Jiang Cheng shook his head. He didn’t have a habit of drinking white wine, and nobody at ‘home’ drank either. He would only drink some beer when he went out with Pan Zhi.
“Too bad,” Wang Xu poured himself and Gu Fei two cups, “The xueba is pretty abstinent.”
Jiang Cheng was too lazy to make a retort. Besides, he was eating his family’s flatbreads, and they were pretty damn delicious.
The meal was incredibly satisfying with various types of flatbreads stuffed to the brim and thick mutton broth. He ate till both his heart was full and his body was warm; the various wounds on his body – which he couldn’t even tell which hurt more than the other – suddenly all felt a whole lot better. The sharp pain became a dull throb in his flesh.
Out of the three of them, Wang Xu was the one that continued to talk without a break while Jiang Cheng barely made a sound. Wang Xu talked about things regarding their class, and with Jiang Cheng still unable to distinguish people, there wasn’t any place for him to cut in even if he wanted to talk. Gu Fei didn’t speak much either, opting instead to just sit and eat while occasionally making a few “mm, mm” sounds but Wang Xu didn’t seem to mind much.
“I heard that Class 2 is getting outside help this time,” Wang Xu started talking about the basketball game, “Should we get some too? Otherwise, how will we win?”
“Do you want me and Jiang Cheng to go up with three outsiders?” Gu Fei replied. “Would there be any point in winning?”
Wang Xu frowned and thought for a bit, “There really wouldn’t be any point. If it’s like that then I wouldn’t even get a chance to go on.”
“At your level, you wouldn’t even be able to get on the court if we get outside help,” Gu Fei said.
“Fuck!” Wang Xu felt a little indignant.
“I’ll just call some friends over for practice tomorrow.” Gu Fei continued, “It’s impossible to make any improvements at this point. Let’s instead practice a bit more to improve our cooperation and familiarize ourselves with each other.”
“Right!” Wang Xu glanced at Jiang Cheng, “Don’t pass the ball to the other side again.”
“I pass exclusively to my deskmate, not exclusively to the other side.” Jiang Cheng drank a mouthful of soup, “My deskmate and I are on the same side.”
“… don’t talk back,” Wang Xu scoffed.
“Talk back if you disagree,” Jiang Cheng replied.
After eating the stuffed flatbreads at Wang Xu’s shop for an hour, Jiang Cheng walked out of the restaurant feeling like the wound on his stomach was going to tear open again from how bloated he felt.
“Come by more often when you’re free!” Wang Xu’s mother sent them out the door, “Auntie will give you a discount! Any classmate of Wang Xu will get a discount!”
“Thank you, Auntie,” Jiang Cheng said, burping a bit in the beginning.
He really ate too much.
He was even half-sprawled over the backseat when he got back in the car.
“I’m drunk,” Gu Fei started up the car.
“What the hell did you say?” Jiang Cheng asked.
Even though the meal made him incredibly happy, once he got off the small bun and caught sight of the street leading up to Li Baoguo’s place, a feeling of exhaustion welled up from inside him.
He lowered his head and walked in the wind, one step at a time, until he helplessly reached the entrance of the corridor.
The lights were out when he opened the door. He felt along the wall for a long time before he finally found the switch and slapped on it.
He didn’t know why he still hadn’t grown accustomed to the fact that the light switches in Li Baoguo’s place were a little higher than the ones in his old house.
Li Baoguo wasn’t at home, and whether he was at the hospital or out gambling, he didn’t know either. He took out his phone and hesitated for a while, but in the end, he still didn’t dial.
He hastily washed up and returned to his room.
After he finished his homework, he took a glance at the time – it was almost eleven o’clock.
He didn’t know which household upstairs it was that was hitting their child but hearing the child’s cries and screams was enough to frighten someone. It felt as if the child was going to be beaten to death at any second.
He lied down on his back, took out and put on his earphones, and closed his eyes.
Jiang Cheng had finally realized just how determined Lao Xu was to win a basketball game. He announced in the morning that those participating in the basketball game could skip Chinese class and go to the gym to train.
That inadvertently made Gu Fei call the Bu Shi Hao Niao bunch, and tell them to come in the morning.
“It’s not like you guys listen in class anyways,” Lao Xu said.
Jiang Cheng wanted to tell him, you know I listen if I’m in class, right? I’m a xueba after all.
There wasn’t anybody else in the gymnasium in the morning. Jiang Cheng looked at the enthusiastic group of people and was overwhelmed with mixed emotions. Honestly speaking, he didn’t have any confidence that these people could win the game – whether they won or lost depended entirely on how bad the other classes were.
“Our exclusive training team will arrive in a while,” Wang Xu squatted on the sidelines. “The starting team that we agreed on the other day goes up first. Find the feeling.”
“If anybody asks about this, just say that Gu Fei brought some people to practice with us,” Wang Xu said and then thought for a while before adding another sentence. “Remember what to say and to say it super angrily. Let people think that we had to beg them all day for them to come. That person there has no collective sense of honour!”
Everybody nodded, their faces simmering with bitterness.
Gu Fei sighed.
Bu Shi Hao Niao arrived at a pretty good time. They came in right after the bell rang, avoiding the period where the school was packed with people.
It was just that, the fact that this group of people who practically had “go find a professional” atop their heads could simply walk in through Si Zhong’s front gates so casually made Jiang Cheng feel a sense of doubt in the school’s management system. How come he had to climb over the metal gates to get in when he was late in the morning?
“Let’s start,” Gu Fei said. “Don’t waste time.”
Jiang Cheng stared at the four people who made up Bu Shi Hao Niao. There was also Li Yan… wait, Li Yan was playing too?
“Everyone, this is Liu Fan, Luo Yu, Zhao Yihui, Chen Jie, and Li Yan.” Gu Fei pointed at each of them and introduced them without pausing, “If you can’t remember, it’s fine. They’re your opponents anyways.”
Everyone ran on the court as soon as they took off their jackets. Two of the substitute players took the whistle and acted as a referee6 while another one pushed the scoreboard over.
When Jiang Cheng took a look at the formation and then the opposing team, he suddenly felt a long-lost sense of excitement.
“I’ll jump the ball,” Gu Fei spoke in a low voice. “Later, don’t lose sight of Liu Fan.”
“Liu Fan?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“The one wearing the big metal chain,” Gu Fei answered.
“Mm,” Jiang Cheng took a glance. It was the first time he saw the “Shi” in “Shi Niao”7 when they were playing.
“Is the chain actually iron?” Guo Xu asked.
“How am I supposed to know? If it’s not iron, then it’s silver and if it’s not silver then it’s stainless steel.” Gu Fei looked at him, “How about you go ask?”
Jiang Cheng turned his head away with a smile.
“No, I won’t. I think it’s stainless steel,” Guo Xu said.
Gu Fei sighed, “Then don’t lose sight of the Big Stainless-Steel Chain.”
It was Liu Fan that jumped the ball with Gu Fei. Liu Fan was slightly taller than Gu Fei, but this little bit of height difference could not decide anything – it still mainly depended on their reflexes and jumping ability.
Jiang Cheng stared at the ball.
When the ball was thrown, around the moment when the ball was at the highest point with no obvious hint of falling yet, Gu Fei and Liu Fan jumped up at the same time. However, the first to touch the ball was Gu Fei.
Jiang Cheng felt that it was pretty mind-boggling. Gu Fei somehow managed to touch the ball first when simultaneously jumping every-single-time.
However, even though Gu Fei touched the ball first, and the ball had flown in Lu Xiaobin’s direction, it was Li Yan who got hold of the ball first. He had slid in from the side the moment Lu Xiaobin’s hand was about to touch the ball, taking the ball away with a sweep of his arm.
Jiang Cheng was a little shocked. If his memory served him right, last time he saw them play Gu Fei had counted Li Yan in as the “old, weak, disabled” among the old, weak, and disabled.
An “old, weak, and disabled” could steal the ball away that effortlessly!
Lu Xiaobin was shocked, but then immediately chased after him – snarling with his hands outstretched like claws. If it wasn’t due to the strictly regulated rules, he looked as if he could grab Li Yan and throw him out.
Jiang Cheng wasn’t in a hurry to give chase. Li Yan wasn’t very fast while dribbling, and from the look of it, it didn’t seem like he planned on directly bringing it across the court. When he turned his head slightly to the right, Jiang Cheng saw Liu Fan, the Big Stainless-Steel Chain, reaching out and running toward the right.
He hurriedly sped up and rushed forward. When Li Yan passed the ball over to Liu Fan, he sped forward even more and intercepted the ball.
Unfortunately, he did not manage to get a hold of the ball. Instead, he bounced it toward Lu Xiaobin who was waving his arms.
This time, Lu Xiaobin’s reflexes weren’t that bad as he firmly grasped the ball.
“Pass it to me!” Jiang Cheng called.
Lu Xiaobin smashed the ball toward Jiang Cheng’s face just as Li Yan was coming over to intercept the ball again.
When Jiang Cheng caught the ball, he wanted to thank God for not letting the ball, which was like a shot put,8 eat his face.
Li Yan wanted to block him but was instead blocked by Guo Xu.
The idiotic tactic, of everybody rushing forward to block the moment they saw who the ball handler was, was pretty useful this time around. Li Yan was relatively thin, and when caught by Guo Xu and Luo Xiaobin, you could barely see the guy anymore.
As Jiang Cheng brought over the ball to their net, he caught sight of Gu Fei, who had managed to shake off the players checking him and was running toward the basket at the same time. Gu Fei was also watching him.
He didn’t hesitate. Good thing he passed the ball over ahead of time – the ball bounced from beside Liu Fan’s feet and was firmly caught by Gu Fei.
But an opponent with a level like Bu Shi Hao Niao wasn’t even in the same league as the substitutes from the class yesterday. Just as Gu Fei got a hold of the ball, another person who he didn’t know was called Luo Yu or Zhao Yihui had turned and cut off Gu Fei’s path.
Gu Fei brought the ball back and Jiang Cheng hurriedly weaved through the gaps between people. Who knew if it was because he had too much faith in his teammates or if he just had no other option, but without even looking back, Gu Fei tossed the ball behind him.
Jiang Cheng caught the ball.
Bu Shi Hao Niao must have cooperated for a long time, seeing as how both their offence and defence were played extremely well. There was no way he could make a shot beneath the basket. After Jiang Cheng got the ball, he was directly forced past the three-point line.
The fast offence failed; Bu Shi Hao Niao had all returned to the basket. Looking at the situation, it was impossible to break in with just him and Gu Fei.
Just as he tried to stall time to find an opening, Gu Fei suddenly raised his hand. Jiang Cheng saw him raise three fingers.
Fine, three-point it is!
He rushed forward with the ball, and Liu Fan immediately followed after. Stopping at the three-point line, he borrowed the inertia to make a jump. Liu Fan jumped after him like a fucking shadow to cap him.
Jiang Cheng had to immediately retract the ball, then single-handedly drill it away from the left of Liu Fan’s body.
The moment he twisted his waist, the wound on his stomach opened up a bit. Jiang Cheng couldn’t help but cry out.
It was too fucking impressive.
“Fuck!” Liu Fan immediately turned his head when he landed on the ground, and as he watched the ball go in, he looked over to Jiang Cheng, “That was awesome.”
“Nice shot!” Gu Fei raised his hands above his head and started clapping. After meeting Jiang Cheng’s gaze, he raised his thumbs.
Please take note of who the translator is for each chapter, so that your questions can be properly answered, thank you.
Ice: SEE THAT FLATBREAD?? I MADE THAT FLATBREAD!! I am ridiculously proud of my flatbread (and my photography skills).ヾ(✿ﾟ▽ﾟ)ノ
Sae: What a cutie (at Ice)
1 250cc motorcycle – represents the displacement of the engine measured in ‘cubic centimetres’. To help with understanding this a little further, one ‘cc’ is one thousandth of a litre. Just like when measuring liquid. Therefore, a bike that has a one-litre engine will have a 1000cc capacity.
2 Bun or mini bun-shaped car
3 Wang Er (王二)- Wang is the surname and Er would be the name of the person… Wang Er’s “…”
4 Stuffed flatbread (馅饼) – Even though it is often referred to as the Chinese meat pie, xianbing is, in fact, more similar to an over-sized, seared jiaozi-style dumpling. Both are made with the same, basic flour-and-water dough, except the one for xianbing is layered before being rolled out, and unlike jiaozi dumplings which are steamed, xianbings are pan-fried. Being one of the hallmarks of the Northern Chinese Islamic halāl cuisine, the crispy-crusted xianbing is traditionally filled with soy sauce flavored minced beef, ginger, and onions, while in other regions it can also be filled with pork, lamb, or even with an all-vegetable filling in its vegetarian version. Xianbings are considered a real comfort food and although they are easily found in restaurants, often served with the hearty hot and sour soup, in Northern China xianbings are most popular as a street food that is typically enjoyed warm with a dipping sauce consisting of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and rice vinegar.
Our translator, Ice, made this!! XD
5 troublesome [事儿逼] a slang that’s supposed to refer to a person who is looking for trouble but can be kind of indecisive and look but not easily satisfied with anything…
6 Referee – The game of basketball is not officiated only by referees, there is a whole group of officials to manage a game and to keep things on track. The group includes referee, umpires, scorer, timekeeper and shot clock operator.
In basketball, Officials are usually referred to as referees. Generally there is one lead referee and one or two umpires depending on whether there is a two- or three-person crew. Lead official is called the crew chief & the other two officials are “referees”.
- Two-man crews consist of a referee and an umpire
- Three-man crews contain a referee and two umpires.
Both classes of officials have equal rights to control almost all aspects of the game.
7 “Shi” in “Shi Niao – every one of the four guys make up a character in Bu Shi Has Niao and Liu Fan is the “Shi”
8 Shot put – sport in athletics (track and field) in which a spherical weight is thrown, or put, from the shoulder for distance. It derives from the ancient sport of putting the stone.