Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia/Ice
The sound of the tin whistle was pretty clear, coupled with the resonance of the interior space, it sounded both mellifluous and spirited.
Gu Fei did not know why anyone would think that such an instrument was not as posh as a piano. Jiang Cheng stood there leaning against the table, holding this small, black, and delicate tube in his hand —it was unforgettably posh.
The tune that he played sounded quite cheerful and lighthearted, but Gu Fei could inexplicably hear a bit of loneliness; he didn’t know whether it was the instrument itself or the person playing it.
The last note reverberated in the dancing flames, and after it slowly disappeared, Jiang Cheng’s hand that held the whistle dropped down; neither of the two uttered a word.
After a while, Jiang Cheng looked up with a slight smile that was barely distinguishable at the corner of his mouth. “How was it?”
“Excellent,” Gu Fei answered and applauded.
“Say something good, why don’t you.” Jiang Cheng took a small velvet cloth and wiped the mouthpiece of the flute. “Asking for a beating the moment you open your mouth.”
“Really amazing,” Gu Fei answered once more. “You must have practiced for a long time, right?”
“Mm,” Jiang Cheng sounded in agreement but then thought about it and shook his head. “It shouldn’t be that long either, not as long as the amount of time that I have practiced the piano.”
“Not that long yet you can play it that well,” Gu Fei said. “You deserve to be called…”
When Gu Fei only managed to say half of it without continuing, Jiang Cheng sighed. “Yes, a x-u-e-b-a. When are you going to be done with this standing joke, huh?”
Gu Fei laughed for a moment and then finally added, “You’ve honestly played it very well.”
“Actually, it’s not that difficult, starting is pretty easy.” Jiang Cheng held the tin whistle in his hand, twirled it a few times, and passed it over to him. “Want to give it a try?”
“…then I’ll try it.” Gu Fei walked in front of him and took the tin whistle, “Play it directly?”
“How else?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“What I meant was, do you have mysophobia?” Gu Fei asked.
Jiang Cheng laughed out loud, feeling that he couldn’t endure it anymore on this night – he laughed for what seemed like most of the day and finally pointed his finger in all directions. “In this environment, whoever has mysophobia would have collapsed the second they entered.”
“True, you just took the quilt from a dead rat.” Gu Fei looked at the tin whistle, studying its appearance, and pressed his fingers on the finger holes. “Like this?”
“Mm,” Jiang Cheng lightly flicked his fingertips, “Press on it hard, and the sound will come.”
After Gu Fei properly pressed it, he attempted to softly blow into the mouthpiece.
The whistle produced a rather staggering and ear-piercing shrill; he frowned and tilted his head to the side, “Hey, what’s with this sound, scared the crap out of me.”
Jiang Cheng restrained a laugh, “Loosen up a bit when you blow. It’ll sound better when you let it flow and not stop.”
“Okay.” Gu Fei inhaled and then blew into the mouthpiece once more.
This time, it was a lot better; the tune echoed and stretched out, though the sound was…
“Forget it,” Gu Fei loosened his hold on the tin whistle. “Starting may be easy but that doesn’t mean you can listen to it with just two blows. With just these two steps, anyone who didn’t know better would have thought that I was calling out for a silly husky1.”
“You’re still too tense.” Jiang Cheng took the whistle, and casually rubbed the mouthpiece on his own pants. “Look at my face, relax.”
Gu Fei looked at him earnestly as he played a musical scale2: “Understand?”
“If I say I don’t understand,” Gu Fei laughed. “Are you going to scold me?”
Jiang Cheng didn’t speak and continued to play, another scale, a short tune, and after he played for a while, Gu Fei poked his face. “You said this needs to relax…”
The cheerful tune suddenly stopped and the whistle in Jiang Cheng’s hand immediately smacked Gu Fei’s hand.
“The fuck!” Gu Fei pulled his hand back, and then swinging his arm and rubbing the back of his hand, he cursed. “What’s wrong with you?”
Jiang Cheng suddenly felt an embarrassing feeling of wanting to jump out of the window. He wasn’t sure of whether it was because of the liquor or the close face-to-face contact that made him always feel the atmosphere —in all its entirety— was ambiguous all along.
Gu Fei’s voice and Gu Fei’s words as he breathed, all made him feel a bit dizzy.
The touch of his fingertips on his face was only a light touch, and the area was so small that it was negligible, but that action nevertheless made him somewhat overreact.
At this moment, he could not distinguish whether it was his own conditioned reflex or a subconscious avoidance.
The key was that Gu Fei had been incomprehensibly smacked by him, and he had no means to explain it.
Hello, I really don’t like others touching me.
And because I like men, I don’t want to be touched by them even more.
Hello, Wang Jiuri saying that I was troublesome is actually a correct judgment…
“Wang Xu said that a troublemaker like you don’t let others pat your shoulders.” Gu Fei looked at him and snatched his internal dialogue, “You truly are troublesome.”
“Ah,” Jiang Cheng also looked at him. “You’ve only realized that?”
Gu Fei went silent and stared at him.
Jiang Cheng didn’t know what to say either, so he just stood there as well and stared straight back at Gu Fei.
After staring for a mere ten seconds, Jiang Cheng felt that things were not too encouraging – he wanted to laugh.
He really wanted to laugh.
If he actually laughed his head off without end right after just smacking Gu Fei like that, Gu Fei ought to come and fight with him, right?
Therefore, alcohol could not be swallowed at random as it could easily spoil things.
After this myriad of thoughts, he gritted his teeth without laughing. Gu Fei was probably tired from staring at him; he rubbed his hand again: “Luckily you’re not a girl, otherwise you can’t get married.”3
Jiang Cheng howled with laughter at that exact moment.
What the fuck are you laughing your ass off at!
What the hell was there to laugh about!
A paper cup of Niu Er liquor could actually make him mentally retarded!
Jiang Cheng, are you fucking stupid? Yes.
He furiously scolded himself while laughing until he leaned against the table behind him – even shaking uncontrollably.
“Do you believe that I won’t smack you?” Gu Fei said.
Jiang Cheng covered his wound area and continued to laugh joyously, and Gu Fei, finally infected by his mental retardation once again, laughed out loud.
However, aside from this mental retardation, there was also an advantage – the embarrassment that enveloped Jiang Cheng was, at long last, laughed away.
It was just, the laughter hurt his sides.
“Hey…” He fell onto the sofa, “Sorry, I must have drank too much.”
Gu Fei let out a leisure breath, presumably waiting for the laughter to pass then he walked over and sat heavily down on the sofa beside him. “Wang Xu said that he only patted your shoulder and you wanted to punch him?”
Although the sofa was quite shabby, the elasticity of it was still surprisingly good. Gu Fei pounced on it like a cannonball, causing Jiang Cheng to bounce up – feeling dizzy as if he was about to take off.
“I’m not interested in punching that coward.” He patted the sofa then stood up and also pounced on it.
Gu Fei also bounced up.
“Aren’t you being childish,” Gu Fei said, and then got up and pounced on it again.
“You started it…” Jiang Cheng slanted slightly from that and fell on Gu Fei.
This sofa was not large. It was a small two-person sofa, and thus, with this fall the two directly pressed together – their heads nearly connecting.
“Fuck,” Jiang Cheng whispered and held onto the sofa in an attempt to sit upright.
With a push of his hand, he directly pressed into Gu Fei’s hand instead.
Gu Fei’s hand was very warm, and the feel of his knuckles beneath the palm of his own hand was unusually distinct.
But this time, Jiang Cheng, did not have a conditioned reflex. He, himself, didn’t even know the reason for why he froze in place as if he had been pressed on.
Gu Fei didn’t speak or move, and when he turned his face, his breath swept by the edge of his ear.
“You…” Jiang Cheng opened his mouth without knowing what to say.
“What?” Gu Fei asked.
That simple word —under the influence of alcohol and the close range— resembled a sparkling electric current, and as soon as that voice emerged, Jiang Cheng felt all the pores on half his body explode.
He turned his head, and kissed Gu Fei’s face.
He had gone mad.
That was the only detail flashing in Jiang Cheng’s mind – apart from that, everything else was completely empty.
Your brains must be fucking missing.
Gu Fei still did not move or say anything else. At that moment, the two seemed to be frozen in a fix and endless space.
Gu Fei did not react, and Jiang Cheng could not clearly see the expression in his eyes either because of the dizziness – he only hoped that a bolt of lightning would strike away this moment from them.
When Jiang Cheng woke up in the morning, the time on his phone displayed half past ten along with three missed calls from Lao Xu.
This was the first time that he was late since school started; if he was any later, it could result in cutting half the day of classes.
He sat up on the bed with eyes half-closed and head hung low.
He did not want to go to school.
He really did not want to.
Because of yesterday’s event.
His last memory was of his lips touching Gu Fei’s face.
After that, he couldn’t remember anything else.
Even if he could remember it, he didn’t want to remember it.
Forcibly drunk to cut off the images —forcibly forgetting such a memory.
If not for his incompetence, he should forget that scene.
He didn’t sleep soundly that night, and had many dreams that he had all completely forgotten… now that he recalled them, they were just a cloud of white and black smoke.
That made him feel extremely exhausted.
And the first feeling after being sober was shame.
He had known Gu Fei for half a winter vacation plus another half a semester4, yet after having some alcohol, he lost his mind and kissed him… right, got drunk and acted crazy.
Got drunk and acted crazy —that was a great explanation.
His tolerance for alcohol was not adequate to withstand finishing up that large cup of Er Niu beer in such a short amount of time, so he was intoxicated.
Intoxication made him behave atrociously.
A thoroughly beautiful explanation.
Jiang Cheng got out of bed and put on his clothes; thinking of that reasonable explanation made him suddenly feel relieved. After he washed up, he returned Lao Xu’s call and hurried to school with his bag.
When he entered the school, it happened to be in between classes, so he carried his bag and went in from the back door.
At first, he was calm and composed on the way here, but the second he stepped foot in the classroom only to see that Gu Fei had actually not cut class and was looking down while playing that retarded Craz3 Match5 game, he suddenly became slightly uneasy once more.
He swore to the god of xueba that before he had kissed Gu Fei, he didn’t have any motive toward Gu Fei. Besides feeling normal things that the general public would admire such as him being good-looking and having nice hands and so on, he didn’t have any other intentions.
But he did not know whether Gu Fei would mind or not.
Although Jiang Cheng was not too willing to admit it, Gu Fei was the only person that he was willing to spend time with in all the days that he had been here in this city, and someone he could regard as a “friend”.
He felt a faint hint of fear; if he broke his relationship with Gu Fei, who else could he chat with?
This sudden confusion made him inexplicably nervous.
If he had never interacted with Gu Fei, he would have always disassociated with the crowd, and this kind of feeling would not have been so obvious.
“I’m going in,” Jiang Cheng kicked the leg of Gu Fei’s chair.
“Yo.” Gu Fei looked up and seemed to be surprised, “Thought you wouldn’t come today.”
“Overslept.” Jiang Cheng squeezed from behind the chair and sat down; Gu Fei appeared normal, which made him feel relieved.
Gu Fei took out the tin whistle from the drawer, “You forgot to take this yesterday.”
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng received the whistle — the word “yesterday” had nearly caused his hand to tremble.
“Do you still want the key to the steel mill?” Gu Fei asked while sweeping his fingers on his phone screen.
“… want.” Jiang Cheng thought about it, “Bu Shi Hao Niao, they won’t mind?”
“What’s there to mind?” Gu Fei took out his own key and gave him one at the top. “In any case, they’re not a good bunch6, just ignore it if they have any complaints.”
Jiang Cheng looked at him.
“They won’t mind. It’s not like they don’t know you,” Gu Fei said.
“Thanks,” Jiang Cheng took the key.
“Treat me to a meal when you have time.” Gu Fei continued to play his game, “The stuffed flatbread from Jiuri’s place is fine.”
“… why?” Jiang Cheng froze.
“I gave you the key,” Gu Fei said. “I still have something on you.”
“What?” Jiang Cheng turned his body.
“If you don’t treat me to a meal, I’ll tell Jiuri that you behaved immorally toward me,” Gu Fei said.
“The… fuck?” Jiang Cheng felt extremely shocked that he could no longer be embarrassed, “I fucking drank too much, okay?!”
“Ask around here if anyone becomes intoxicated from drinking only two and a half cups of Niu Er liquor.” Gu Fei laughed out loud.
“Then I am the one that gets intoxicated off of two cups,” Jiang Cheng felt quite mystical. “What, you guys don’t allow anyone with low alcohol tolerance? There’s even discrimination based on alcohol tolerance?”
“That’s right. You’re a southerner?” Gu Fei asked.
“… I’m not,” Jiang Cheng reminded him.
“From here,” Gu Fei put down his phone and waved his hand in the space in front of him and said, “All places south of here are part of the South.”
“Bullshit,” Jiang Cheng said.
“Just let it go. I’ve already agreed with you about your low alcohol tolerance, yet you won’t even agree with my bullshit,” Gu Fei said.
“I…” Jiang Cheng looked at him.
“Don’t laugh.” Gu Fei pointed at him, “I’m serious. If you laugh again, I’ll really invite you to meet at the back of the school.”
It was fine if those words weren’t said, but as soon as they were, Jiang Cheng could feel himself wanting to laugh.
Fortunately, Zhou Jing turned his head around at this time: “Jiang Cheng, Jiang Cheng? Jiang… I need to discuss something with you.”
“What ‘something’?” Jiang Cheng sighed.
“Midterm exams are almost here,” Zhou Jing said. “Let me see the answers during the exam.”
“How’s the seating arrangement for exams?” Jiang Cheng asked, having heard such a request many time over.
In his previous school, they sat separately. No matter which exam, half the class had to take their exams in the laboratory or some other place. With the order also being disrupted, and not going according to the student ID number, bumping into somebody that you could copy the answers off of could even be considered to be someone you have destiny with.
Now that he recalled it, his relationship with Pan Zhi became this good probably because during every exam, the two were always in the same classroom with the same examination papers.
“The desks are pulled apart a bit and the exam starts, how else?” Zhou Jing said.
“Oh, separate A and B exams?” Jiang Cheng asked again.
“No,” Zhou Jing said.
“… oh.” Jiang Cheng thought that Pan Zhi could only wish with all his might to come and take exams at Si Zhong – there was literally no point in not copying.
“Just place it on the table, I can look at it myself,” Zhou Jing said again.
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng sounded.
Zhou Jing lied back on his table with satisfaction.
Jiang Cheng turned to look at Gu Fei, remembering that they were talking before Zhou Jing interrupted, but after turning his head, he forgot what he wanted to say again.
“I won’t copy it,” Gu Fei looked at him.
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng turned, then thought about it and turned his head again. “Do you answer yourself on the exams?”
“Mm,” Gu Fei nodded.
“Can you answer them?” Jiang Cheng felt that the book on Gu Fei’s desk had never been opened before. In class, he either slept or watched videos, listened to music or played that retarded Craz3 Match game.
“Answering can be done. Just fill in the answer that fits your eyes, what can’t be answered.” Gu Fei took out a piece of candy, “Wanna eat one?”
Jiang Cheng glanced over and saw that little round candy from yesterday, “No!!”
Gu Fei put the milk candy in his mouth and laughed for half a day.
For several days after that day, Gu Fei never mentioned the drinking that took place. It was almost the same every day; he was late, played on his phone in class, and went to practice with a group of people.
Either occasionally cutting classes or requesting leave, Jiang Cheng could still perceive Lao Xu’s profound disappointment and frustration.
As for the key to the little room, Jiang Cheng strung it on his own keychain.
His keys were many in number; a key to the front door of his previous home, a key to the garage, a key to his room, a pile of keys to his drawers, all of which he still carried with him even after he came here.
When he placed the key to the little room in his keychain, he hesitated for a moment. He then removed the originals, though seeing that there was only a single key left on the keyring, he sighed.
Li Baoguo’s place had a chain of keys; the rooms all had locks though the keys had long gone missing and the drawers in the place were all unlocked.
After he hung the key to the small room, Jiang Cheng held the key in his hand, gripping it and feeling rather upset —the feeling of loneliness and helplessness was, however, no longer that intense.
The days would always move forward and the people would always change —he did not know whether to let it fade from his memory or adapt.
Gu Miao did not go to school for a week after the incident, Jiang Cheng knew that very clearly because every day, she would slip into Si Zhong during the third period and come to stand in the corridor in front of their classroom.
And today, she arrived even earlier. There were still a few minutes remaining of the second class when Jiang Cheng saw her hugging her skateboard with half her head popping from the classroom door.
Gu Fei made a gesture with his hand, signalling her to go to the corridor.
She turned and went to lean over the railings in the corridor.
Jiang Cheng thought that the fight from that day and not being able to attend school seemed to not have any effect on her at all; she was still the same as before.
He rested his body on the table and let his sight flow out of the window ahead, but midway, it was intercepted by Gu Fei’s profile.
Gu Fei was also looking out the window —bright sunlight spilled in, and a faint halo was drawn on his profile.
Jiang Cheng suddenly recalled that night.
At first, it had already become fairly vague and even what the feeling of touching Gu Fei’s face felt like was unclear, but this glance brought all the memory back.
How he embarrassingly fell onto one side of the sofa, how Gu Fei so calmly lit a cigarette and had even given him one, how the two of them together finished smoking the cigarettes, and how again they magically finished the chicken soup together… all the details that he clearly remembered —but had forcibly forgotten— flitted before his eyes without warning.
Why was this brain so disobedient now?!
“Stuffed flatbreads,” Gu Fei said as he turned his head.
“Ah,” Jiang Cheng answered, returning to his senses. “Ah?”
“When will you treat me? The competition is tomorrow,” Gu Fei said.
“Today then,” Jiang Cheng said. “Bring Gu Miao?”
“Mm,” Gu Fei nodded.
The competition is tomorrow?
Jiang Cheng took out his phone and looked at the date. It was true, the time had seemingly flown by somewhat quickly but then again, it hadn’t passed very efficiently either; the red banner for the school’s big competition had already been pulled out for several days.
Gu Miao was in a good mood today, circling around them on her skateboard.
“I have to make a phone call first.” Wang Xu took out his phone while walking, “For the donkey meat, I have to let my dad make it first and leave us some of what we want… by the way, just come to my house this afternoon. The members of our basketball team, Lao Xu, have helped us borrow some uniforms and separate them, and also, we need to discuss the tactics.”
“Mm.” Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Miao. The little girl’s hair had grown quite fast, and it could be seen at the edge of her hat though there just wasn’t much style to it. Gu Fei, himself, had shaven his own head into a skyline-breaking style and even drew patterns, so if his own sister wasn’t bald then it was a mess of a head…
“Your wound is okay now?” Gu Fei whispered from beside him.
“Mm,” Jiang Cheng touched his wound. “Basically nothing’s wrong.”
Gu Fei didn’t speak but then suddenly reached out and patted his shoulder.
Jiang Cheng looked at him: “What are you doing?”
“Your conditioned reflex is dormant?” Gu Fei patted again.
Just then Jiang Cheng reacted and didn’t say anything for a long time.
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1 Husky (二哈) – Erha, actually means (coll.) a silly but cute husky (dog)
2 Musical scale – A scale is a group of notes that are arranged by ascending or descending order of pitch. In an ascending scale, each note is higher in pitch than the last one, and in a descending scale, each note is lower in pitch than the last one.
3 Marry – Both “嫁” and “娶” mean “marry” in Chinese. The difference between them is: 嫁 [jià]: a woman marry a man; the subject is the woman; if the subject is female, use “嫁”. 娶[qǔ]: a man marry a woman; the subject is the man; if the subject is male, use “娶”. Gu Fei used “jia” in the text so, of a woman to marry a man
4 So 1 month (winter vacation gets jammed up with a bunch of other holidays here so it actually lasts from January- February and is not in December) and at least 2 months… that’s 3 months of knowing each other. It’s fine JC.
5 Craz3 Match |天天爱消除| – finally figured out what the game Gu Fei was actually playing, we had it as Candy Crush but it’s actually Craz3 Match which is pretty similar to Candy Crush, but it’s basically a fun and frantic game that needs you to eliminate some seriously cute animals by matching tiles in groups of 3. Just image Gu Fei playing such a cute game
6 They’re not a good bunch – omg, he made a friggin pun. god why. he’s basically doing both at the same time… now you have the choice to say the actual “bu shi hao niao” or “not a good bunch” (Ice) Gu Fei used ‘not a good bunch or in Chinese, bu shi hao niao’ as a noun that defines the group of four (of his friends) and also what the ‘name’ actually translates to. (Sae)