Translate: Ice | Edit: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
Gu Fei suddenly disappeared during politics class without even grabbing his bag. Their politics teacher was so infuriated that she rushed to the teacher’s office and started yelling at the top of her lungs at Lao Xu who, inadvertently, came to the classroom after school was over.
“Jiang Cheng.” He blocked Jiang Cheng, who was just about to leave with his bag.
“I don’t know,” Jiang Cheng replied, knowing full well that Lao Xu wanted to ask him about Gu Fei, but he honestly knew nothing of the matter.
“There has to be a reason for him to suddenly run off,” Lao Xu stated.
Jiang Cheng only knew that Gu Fei had picked up a call and said that he would return immediately, but he didn’t hear anything else after that.
But. He didn’t want to tell Lao Xu that portion. Who knew what was going on with Gu Fei or whether or not he was willing to let Lao Xu know – he didn’t want to shoot his mouth off.
But clearly, Zhou Jing did not put in as much consideration as he did. When Lao Xu turned to ask him next, he commented without a thought: “He picked up a phone call and said he was going home, then ran off. Maybe something came up at home?”
“Really,” Lao Xu frowned. After Zhou Jing left, he grabbed onto Jiang Cheng once more. “Even Zhou Jing knows, yet you don’t?”
“Does it matter whether I know or not? Don’t you already know now?” Jiang Cheng took his bag and walked outside.
“Can you help bring Gu Fei’s bag back to him?” Lao Xu called out from behind.
“No.” Jiang Cheng looked back, “Xu Zong, if I ever ran off halfway through school without taking my bag, don’t you even dare think of getting someone to help bring it back to me.”
“Why?” Lao Xu asked.
“Because it is incredibly annoying,” Jiang Cheng replied. “Not everybody is willing to have someone touch their things, nevermind bringing it to their home. Really, if he wanted to take it, then he would’ve come to get it himself. The school can even let in a bunch of hooligans, do you think they’ll be afraid of letting in their own students?”
Lao Xu stared at him, as if he couldn’t properly respond.
Jiang Cheng didn’t say anything else either as he turned around and left.
Lao Xu was like an old mother – caring too much. But what people this age did not need the most was precisely this type of pampering love from a mother hen-like person.
Especially Gu Fei who—you could tell at a glance—was already used to being alone.
Jiang Cheng believed that Lao Xu would definitely give Gu Fei a call later, but Gu Fei most certainly wouldn’t answer him. This type of teacher-student relationship truthfully could not be improved with Lao Xu’s current level of EQ.
Thinking of this aspect, Jiang Cheng suddenly found himself missing his former homeroom teacher.
Just as the memories started to flood in, he immediately raised his head and inhaled a breath of cold air, quickly cutting off the memory.
At lunch, he honestly wanted to go eat stuffed flatbread at Wang Jiuri’s place but felt that if he went by himself and saw Captain Jiuri, he wouldn’t be able to find anything to say. He also didn’t want Captain Jiuri to keep pulling at him to excitedly discuss tactics.
So in the end, he ate a bowl of noodles at a small shop at the junction of the street.
When he returned to Li Baoguo’s place, he was a little surprised to find that Li Baoguo was actually at home. He was sitting on the couch smoking with a newspaper in his hand, reading in the dim light.
This place of Li Baoguo’s was sandwiched between two buildings at the front and back, and its structure was even shaped like the 凹 character. The lighting was so incredibly poor that even when the sunlight outside was shining brightly, ever so brightly, it still seemed as though it was dusk when one entered the place.
Jiang Cheng immediately felt oppressed every time he walked in. He reached out to turn on the living room light.
“Yo!” Li Baoguo looked up in surprise, “Cheng Cheng is back?”
“Mm.” Jiang Cheng glanced at him; his face was blue and purple, and the corners of his mouth were still swollen, easily revealing the outcome of yesterday’s event —he certainly wasn’t beaten lightly. Had he not headed over, Li Baoguo most likely would have been sent to the hospital on a stretcher. “Is… your wound okay?”
“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Li Baoguo rubbed his face, “This little injury is nothing. Back when I was younger, working in the factory, youngsters like them weren’t even enough for one of my hands…”
“I already ate.” Jiang Cheng interrupted him and entered his room, “You can eat something by yourself.”
Just as Jiang Cheng took off his coat, wanting to lay in bed for a while, the door was pushed open.
“Cheng Cheng,” Li Baoguo half-leaned into the room, “Did anything happen to you yesterday?”
Jiang Cheng felt a little helpless. He didn’t have a habit of locking the door because since he was young, as long as he closed it, there wasn’t anyone who would just casually open his bedroom door. It seemed he needed to remember to lock the door now.
“I’m fine,” Jiang Cheng replied. “I want to sleep for a bit.”
“Your dad is useless,” Li Baoguo said, having no intention of closing the door and leaving. “Your dad was getting beaten up on the streets and even needed you to come save him. You must be feeling embarrassed, right?”
Jiang Cheng didn’t reply. When the words “your dad” left Li Baoguo’s mouth, he initially didn’t even remember that “your dad” was referring to Li Baoguo himself.
“But you can rest assured,” Li Baoguo continued. “If your dad has any problems, I won’t drag you into any of them!”
“Mm, I know.” Jiang Cheng continued to be patient, “I’m going to sleep a bit. I’m a little tired.”
Li Baoguo nodded, then turned around and left, but still managed to not close the door.
Jiang Cheng had to go over and close the door again. He hesitated for a moment, and eventually kept the door unlocked. Li Baoguo was still on the other side, and he could hear the sound of the door locking. Jiang Cheng didn’t want to make things too awkward.
When he lied down on the bed, he only felt exhausted. He didn’t know whether it was because he was playing basketball with an injury or because he didn’t sleep well last night.
Li Baoguo didn’t go gambling today for once, hence, Jiang Cheng could hear him coughing in the living room throughout the entirety of noon. He had considered on multiple occasions if he should get him to go to the hospital to check and see if it was pharyngitis, seeing as how from the start of winter break all the way till midterms now, Li Baoguo’s cough had never gotten better.
It was impossible to take an afternoon nap while hearing a sound like this. To add to that, the neighbors’ upstairs were hitting their child again; not the household from yesterday, but another one. There were many households with children in this building, and all of them hit their children every day. Today it was your household, tomorrow it will be mine, and if we caught up to one another, then we can hit them all together.
All the children gave heartrending cries; but if in the middle of the ordeal a neighbor could not bear it any longer and went to try and appease them, they would be yelled at too. If they couldn’t endure being yelled at then a vicious battle of words would surely ensue.
In short, the old buildings in this area were incredibly lively every day; brimming with a sense of liveliness that Jiang Cheng had never been in contact with before.
The sound of Li Baoguo’s coughing finally disappeared along with the sound of the living room door. Jiang Cheng felt for his phone and took a look, then also got out of bed and left for school.
Gu Fei didn’t come to school in the afternoon either.
Since school started, if Gu Fei wasn’t late then he was absent. It seemed to be the norm; the students weren’t curious, and the teachers never asked.
Only Lao Xu would keep on asking.
When school ended in the afternoon, Jiang Cheng was blocked by Lao Xu again.
“Jiang Cheng, are you that unwilling to communicate with your teacher?” Lao Xu’s body carried a faint smell of alcohol.
Jiang Cheng also discovered in this period of time that although Lao Xu wouldn’t get drunk, his body would always carry a faint smell of alcohol. Zhou Jing had said that he would drink two mouthfuls even when he ate breakfast.
It was also because of this that he was called out and yelled at in front of the whole school by the principal, though even then he never changed.
“Just on this aspect alone, he’s pretty Jianghu1,” Zhou Jing had said.
Jiang Cheng didn’t know if it was because of this that Lao Xu especially liked Li Bai.2 He would always go off-topic in class; no matter what the text was about, he could always manage to relate it to Li Bai.
“Speaking of xx, I want to mention Li Bai,” he would often start like this, “Li Bai, that old fellow…”
“Did you drink?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“I drank a little bit at lunch.” Lao Xu laughed, “Jiang Cheng, I saw that when you were playing basketball, you and Gu Fei cooperated really well. Normally, your relationship shouldn’t be too bad, right?”
“… it’s just playing basketball. Anybody who knows how to play would know how to cooperate,” Jiang Cheng answered.
“I called Gu Fei a couple times in the afternoon, but he never picked up,” Lao Xu said. “I didn’t care enough about him before…”
Jiang Cheng helplessly interrupted him, “Enough, I get it. I’ll head over to his shop to take a look when school is over, I can’t do much else. We actually aren’t very familiar with each other, plus, I don’t even know where his house is.”
“Fine, fine, fine.” Lao Xu happily nodded his head, “Tell him to come to school tomorrow… actually, I originally wanted to send Wang Xu, but he doesn’t live as close as you. Plus, that little bastard isn’t reliable…”
“Got it,” Jiang Cheng nodded.
Going to Gu Fei’s shop to take a look wasn’t a big deal, but if it wasn’t for the fact that Lao Xu kept on pestering him endlessly, he would never have gone. Who would be happy if they were constantly bugged by their teachers and classmates, and even had someone go up to their house to check on them?
He made his way outside of school, staring at the route board when he got to the bus stop.
The wound was torn open once today; if the training continued on like this for the following days, then his wound wouldn’t even recover by the time the competition started. He wanted to get some adhesive or something like that when he went to the hospital to switch medication; something that would help it get better a bit quicker.
This bus stop had a couple of buses that could take you directly to somewhere nearby the hospital. He didn’t have to wait for more than a few minutes before a bus arrived.
He got on the bus —crowded completely by the students of Si Zhong; an empty bus got filled by a half just by passing through this station. The next stop was some vocational college, and once past these two stations the bus wouldn’t be able to board any more people.
The bus was full of laughing and chatting students.
Jiang Cheng was squeezed at the metal bar next to the backdoor. If the person behind him moved, he would knock into the iron bar. It wasn’t even two stops before he was so annoyed that he wanted to shove all the people beside him onto the floor.
They were passing by another school up ahead. Jiang Cheng took a look; thank God it was an elementary school. Elementary students all had somebody to pick them up, thus, there wouldn’t be any more bodies squeezed into the bus. Besides, by this time, elementary students should have finished school a long time ago.
He pressed his head against the metal bar, and with his earphones in his backpack, it was practically impossible to pull them out now. He could only close his eyes and rest his mind while listening to the student of Si Zhong bragging or gossiping.
Halfway past the station, he heard a commotion in the back of the bus and opened his eyes.
“Yo! Elementary students are so fierce nowadays!” somebody said.
“Aiyo, that punch is gonna break skin!” another person said happily on the side.
Jiang Cheng took a glance outside the window and was momentarily stunned.
Three little boys were screaming and swearing while running and chasing after them was a skateboard-holding… girl.
This skateboard-holding girl, Jiang Cheng didn’t even need to look closely to know that it was Gu Miao.
Gu Miao chased after them for a few steps, but since the little boys ran fast, she couldn’t catch up. She put the skateboard on the ground, stepped a few times, and just like that, she charged forward.
When she passed by the bus, Jiang Cheng saw a look of coldness or anger that he had never seen appear on her face before. For a moment, his heart ached a bit.
The bus drove slowly; the good thing was that there wasn’t much distance left of the road till the next stop. The hospital was still three stops away, but Jiang Cheng still frantically got off the bus in a hurry.
Gu Miao and the three little boys were already gone. He gave chase in the direction that the children disappeared in with rushed steps and stopped at a forked road. Continuing forward was the main road and turning to the right was a small dilapidated street.
Just as he wondered which direction he should go in; he heard a scream coming from the right.
The moment he turned his head, he saw only two out of the three little boys scurrying out of an alley. Who knew how the third one ended up fallen on the ground.
Then there was Gu Miao, who was currently sitting on top of him, smashing his head with the skateboard.
“Fuck!” Jiang Cheng was so shocked that his legs went a little soft. He immediately sprinted in their direction.
All the people from the neighboring stores came out; they all cried in shock at first, then somebody wanted to go over and pull Gu Miao away, but as soon as somebody came near, Gu Miao would swing her skateboard toward them —not even a group of two people could approach her.
The boy being pressed to the ground wasn’t even struggling anymore as he simply held his head, crying and wailing.
Gu Miao took the chance to smash his head again with the skateboard.
This time a man grabbed Gu Miao from behind and quickly hoisted her up.
Gu Miao started to struggle frantically and made a sharp scream.
When Jiang Cheng ran over, the man was at a bit of a loss. He couldn’t toss her aside, but he also couldn’t keep on holding her either.
“Gu Miao!” Jiang Cheng shouted as he sprinted over.
Gu Miao was closing her eyes as if she couldn’t hear anything; she only continued to scream, grasping onto a corner of her skateboard without loosening her grip.
“Er Miao!” Jiang Cheng shouted, “It’s Jiang Cheng Ge Ge! It’s Cheng Ge!”3
“You know her?” somebody asked. “What’s wrong with this kid? Has she gone mad?!”
Jiang Cheng took a glance at the boy who was helped up from the ground. He saw that there was blood on his head, and the boy was currently crying his heart out.
“Give her,” Jiang Cheng said to the man holding Gu Miao. “Give her to me.”
“You can’t leave! Is this your family’s child?!” the man shouted. “Look at how much she beat the other kid! This must be reported to the police, tell your family…”
“I said give her to me!” Jiang Cheng roared, glaring at the man.
Gu Miao struggled and screamed like her life depended on it in a way he had never seen before, appearing both mad and heartrending. Jiang Cheng knew that Gu Miao had some issues, and now that she was like this, he suddenly grew anxious.
The man was stunned into place by his roar.
Jiang Cheng went over and embraced Gu Miao, snatching her into his own arms.
“You can’t leave!” The crowd of onlookers grew bigger; everybody formed a circle to entrap him and Gu Miao in the middle.
“You guys go call the police.” Jiang Cheng held tightly onto Gu Miao, who had already quieted-down screaming, but was still trembling all over non-stop.
The injury on the little boy’s head wasn’t too serious. A woman took some iodine and came over to clean his head. There was a small wound at the back of his head, but he didn’t know if there would be any other problems.
Somebody called the police.
Jiang Cheng hugged Gu Miao tighter, firmly rubbing her back to comfort her, while pulling out his phone and dialing Gu Fei’s number.
But it didn’t even sound for half a ring before it was cut off.
That *** set it to do not disturb!
He could only send Gu Fei another message.
– Gu Miao is in trouble, reply to me ASAP.
Then he immediately dialled Wang Xu’s number.
“Yo?” Wang Xu on the other hand picked up the phone really quickly, “Jiang Cheng? A troublemaker like you actually gave me a call?”
“Go find Gu Fei immediately.” Jiang Cheng lowered his voice, “Hurry immediately! He’s not picking up his phone!”
“Ah?” Wang Xu was surprised, but it could still be heard that he had started running, “Hold on, I just got home, I’m going to head out again! I’ll go over and find him! Where are you?”
“I don’t know. Right now we’re at an elementary school… but I don’t know where we’ll be after the police arrive in a minute.” Jiang Cheng looked around at the angry and shocked people surrounding them. He felt that if he didn’t protect her, Gu Miao would be beaten at any given moment.
“I got it!” Wang Xu shouted and hung up the phone.
The police came very quickly. The moment they arrived at the scene, they were surrounded by the crowd and the pell-mell of explanations transpired.
“Bring this child to the hospital first,” an old policeman said. He then looked at Jiang Cheng, “Are you this child’s family?”
“No,” Jiang Cheng answered. “I am her brother’s classmate.”
“Notify her family,” the old policeman said. “First follow us to the hospital, then we’ll head over to the police station.”
“Alright.” Jiang Cheng held onto Gu Miao, went over to pick up the skateboard, and then walked over to the police car.
Gu Miao had already grown silent, and simply hugged his neck tightly. Her fingers were tightly grasping onto the back of his neck; it felt like her nails could pierce his flesh.
“Gu Miao? Gu Miao?” Jiang Cheng spoke lightly, “You’re going to tear my skin apart. It’s okay now, don’t be afraid, your brother will be here soon.”
Gu Miao didn’t have any reactions and her hands didn’t loosen, though her body was still trembling.
This sort of situation made Jiang Cheng extremely worried. One, he didn’t know what was wrong with her right now —why would she beat the other kid up so badly? Two, he wasn’t Gu Miao’s relative after all; he didn’t know if he was handling the situation correctly… if he didn’t handle it correctly, would Gu Fei come find him for revenge…?
Jiang Cheng first paid for the hospital fees. Treating the wound and all sorts of check-ups didn’t cost much money, what was bothersome was the other kid’s parents.
The kid’s parents rushed over to hit Gu Miao and Jiang Cheng as if they had gone mad the moment they arrived at the hospital. When the police came over to block them, they almost beat the police along with them.
“Don’t block me!” the man shouted. “Pay up! Pay up! How she beat up my son is how I’m going to beat her! That psycho! That freak!4 Let me tell you, I know who this crazy bitch is, she is my son’s classmate! Freak! If the class has her, then there’s bound to be trouble! If you have any sense, then don’t let her out of the house! I will hit her every time I see her!”
“How this situation will be handled is something the police decides.” Jiang Cheng knew that Gu Miao was definitely in the wrong regarding this matter, but the other person’s words were really too anger-inducing. He pressed down the anger that was on the verge of igniting, “If you hit her, then I will hit you, this will never be finished.”
“Fuck!” the woman screamed. “Police! Listen to the words he said!”
Gu Fei finally called, “Where are you? I’ll arrive immediately.”
“The hospital, hurry,” Jiang Cheng answered.
Once the parents heard that a parent was going to come over, they suddenly grew agitated again. When Gu Fei arrived, the police were just about to take them to the police station.
“What is the meaning of this?!” the man started screaming the moment he saw Gu Fei, “Are you looking for a fight!?”
Following behind Gu Fei was Li Yan and Liu Fan, as well as Wang Xu and Ding Zhuxin.
“Gu Miao, your brother is here,” Jiang Cheng whispered to Gu Miao.
“Er Miao?” Gu Fei half-ran over.
When Gu Miao heard his voice, she finally loosened her hold on Jiang Cheng’s neck, turned to take a look at him, and then rushed into his arms, holding onto him tightly.
“She beat up the other kid,” Jiang Cheng explained in a quiet voice. “Used the skateboard to smash his head.”
“I’m sorry,” Gu Fei turned to look at the two people, “My sister…”
“Sorry, my ass! Sorry, don’t do shit!” the woman immediately pointed at him, “If I don’t beat her then this matter won’t be finished!”
Gu Fei looked at her silently, then after a few seconds he said: “Come.”
The woman seemed to have been given a fright as she backed away two steps, “My God! What sort of attitude is this? What sort of attitude is this?!”
“Let’s head to the police station first,” Ding Zhuxin walked over. “Listen to what the police have to say. How this matter should be handled, treatment, and compensation, as long as it’s reasonable then we will cooperate.”
“You…” the woman wanted to continue to say something else but was stopped by Ding Zhuxin.
“Da Jie.5” Ding Zhuxin stared at her, “You’re making such a big fuss that the police can’t even say a word. If you don’t want to settle this matter through proper methods, we can also cooperate. If that’s the case, then you won’t be able to get anything good out of this.”
“Watch what you say,” the police warned Ding Zhuxin.
“Apologies,” Ding Zhuxin smiled apologetically to the police. “With the children getting into trouble, we’re all bound to be anxious. We’re certainly willing to cooperate, but cooperation can’t only rely on one side, right?”
The police took the bunch of people back to the police station. Gu Fei asked, “My classmate doesn’t have to come, right?”
“He also has to come,” the police said and glanced at Jiang Cheng.
“Mm,” Jiang Cheng sounded. He looked at Gu Miao, who was on Gu Fei’s back; now she appeared a lot calmer, no longer having the madness and cold anger from before.
“Thank you.” Gu Fei gazed at him.
“Don’t say anything now,” Jiang Cheng said. “Gu Miao… is she alright? Just now, I saw that she was…”
“She’s fine.” Gu Fei hesitated for a moment, “I’ll find a time to explain it to you slowly.”
“Mm,” Jiang Cheng sounded in answer and followed the police outside.
He only walked a few steps before Gu Fei called him from behind, “Jiang Cheng.”
“You…” Gu Fei motioned to the back of his neck, reaching out to tug at his shirt collar, “The skin here is torn.”
It was probably from Gu Miao’s grasp. The little girl’s strength was quite tremendous.
But Jiang Cheng didn’t think anything of such a matter; Gu Fei’s movement when he tugged at his shirt collar made him reflexively slap Gu Fei’s hand.
“…it’s fine,” Jiang Cheng replied somewhat awkwardly.
Please take note of who the translator is for each chapter, thank you.
Can we just take a moment to understand how considerate Jiang Cheng is? He may not seem like it at first glance but he’s actually so considerate to the people around him; look at how much thought he placed in Gu Fei’s feelings when he rushed home. He took into consideration of how he would feel when not even the teacher and classmate who knew him for way longer did.
Then look at how much Jiang Cheng is caring for Gu Miao; the two are little more than strangers right now he and Gu Fei are only slightly close as classmates. He doesn’t have to go out of his way to rush out to help her, defend her, and bear with how she’s unknowingly hurting him, but he does and he’s not even the slightest bit annoyed. – Ice
The parents of that beaten kid saying they want to beat the crap out of a little girl for her actions was just plain disgusting, especially when they don’t know why she did it or what their son did. Their son (and his friends) were probably little bastards who bullied her; we previously read that someone wrote mean words in her notebook as well, so it’s highly likely that they did it and was provoking her. Asshole parents (who clearly only wanted money and probably beat their own kid), asshole kids in this instant. – Sae
1 jianghu (江湖) literally translates to “rivers and lakes” but it means so much more. Jianghu is the name of the brotherhood of outsiders that existed in old China. It is the counterculture society of workers who made their living with the skill of their own two hands: craftsmen, beggars, thieves, street performers, fortune tellers, wandering healers, and many martial artists. In ancient China, where education was valued over physical ability, this was the lowest rank of social order. Mainstream society belonged to the Confucian scholar-officials. Its underbelly was the jianghu. The jianghu has inspired countless numbers of novels and movies. Jianghu tradition still influences martial arts to this day.
The first known use of the word Jianghu can be found in the writings of the Daoist sage Zhuangzi. In the 4th century B.C. he wrote:
“When the springs dry up and the fish are left stranded on the ground, they spew each other with moisture and wet each other down with spit—but it would be much better if they could forget each other in the rivers and lakes.” (泉涸，鱼相与处于陆，相呴以湿，相濡以沫，不如相忘于江湖. Burton Watson translation) https://daoistgate.com/jianghu/
Jianghu: The World of Martial Art
The Jianghu is a shared world and an alternate universe. It consists of several martial artists and pugilists gathered in the Wulin (武林), who are usually congregated in sects, clans, disciplines and various schools of martial arts. It is also inhabited by others such as “Youxia” (wandering heroes), nobles, thieves, beggars, priests, healers, merchants and craftsmen. The best Wuxia writers draw a vivid picture of the intricate themes of honour, loyalty, love and hatred between the individuals and communities within this milieu. http://en.chinaculture.org/chineseway/2012-10/09/content_443948.htm
What this term being used for here is kind of like saying Lao Xu is being very cool, very awesome (cos martial artists are rlly cool…!)
2 Li Bai or Li Bo (701-762 C.E.) was a Chinese poet who lived during the Tang Dynasty. Called the Poet Immortal, Li Bai is often regarded, along with Du Fu, as one of the two greatest poets in China’s literary history. Approximately 1,100 of his poems remain today. Li Bai is best known for the extravagant imagination and striking Taoist imagery in his poetry, as well as for his great love for liquor (many of his poems are about the comical and occasionally enlightening adventures of a wandering drunk) We had previously mentioned Du Fu 🙂
3 Cheng Ge Ge, Cheng Ge (哥哥) – means brothers but we like it as Ge or Ge Ge
4 变态 biàntài (freak) – to metamorphose (biology) / abnormal / perverted / hentai / (slang) pervert – in this context, he means ‘abnormal’, but more colloquially ‘freak’
5 Da Jie (大姐) – big sister, older sister