Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
“I said, you…” Gu Fei seemed to be distracted by his ‘ah’ and didn’t know how to put it, “Do you want to make a bit of pocket change?”
“En?” Jiang Cheng looked at him, pocket change? For some reason that sounded rather strange.
“Just… take some pictures and stuff…” Gu Fei explained.
Jiang Cheng knew that Gu Fei couldn’t possibly introduce him to anything weird. But at this moment, his brain was lacking adequate blood supply just right after that intense ballgame, and he was caught in a spiraling thought of “this is a trap with evil intentions”, unable to free himself for quite some time. Finally, he blurted out, “I’m a decent person.”
“How is this the intelligence of a xueba?” Gu Fei honestly couldn’t help himself, “You must have actually gone to Special-Ed school before, right?”
“Oh!” Jiang Cheng finally returned to his senses, “Take photos? What kind of photos?”
“Nudes,” Gu Fei gestured irritably. He lit a cigarette and kept on walking, “We’ll talk again when you’re awake.”
“I’m awake now…” Jiang Cheng glanced at the cigarette hanging in his mouth and froze. He knew that Gu Fei frequently smoked in the bathroom in between classes, but he didn’t expect him to just light up one in the middle of the sports field in broad daylight.
“Want one?” Gu Fei asked.
“No.” Jiang Cheng decisively refused. Although he and Pan Zhi had also hid in the bathroom to smoke sometimes, generally speaking, they were not decent people.
“What photos?” Wang Xu, who was walking ahead, suddenly turned his head. “Did someone take photos of us… ah, of course, someone did. We were so handsome today! Let’s check the school forum tonight. There must be all kinds of poses… ay, but it’s probably all of you two…”
“I’ll get someone to come just for the purpose of taking photos of you for the next match,” Gu Fei said.
“Are you for real?” Wang Xu laughed, “That’s enough, don’t tease me…”
“Gu Fei—” someone called from behind them.
“Ooohh.” Wang Xu looked up, “Your Excellency, the class representative.”
Jiang Cheng turned his head and saw Yi Jing running over with a small bag in her hand.
“You called me?” Gu Fei also turned.
“This…” Yi Jing handed the bag to Jiang Cheng. “I just got these from the infirmary, rubbing alcohol and stuff. You fell during the game, right? You should check it out later.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng was a bit taken aback. He did feel a slight burning sensation on his elbow, but today, they had all worn T-shirts under their uniforms. And when he fell, his sleeves separated his elbow from the ground so it shouldn’t be anything that serious. He took the bag, “Thanks.”
“No problem.” Yi Jing smiled.
“Why did you call Gu Fei’s name when you wanted to give something to Jiang Cheng?” Wang Xu had a meaningful smile on his face.
“I couldn’t remember Jiang Cheng’s name for a second.” Yi Jing brushed at her hair, slightly embarrassed before she turned to leave.
Wang Xu tsk-ed at her back. “Only remembers Gu Fei’s name, huh?”
“She only didn’t remember Jiang Cheng’s name,” Gu Fei said.
Lao Xu and Lao Lu were pretty generous; the game today probably exceeded their expectations to such an extent that they actually called for several taxis to take the group to a barbeque buffet.
“Xu Zong.” Gu Fei stopped Lao Xu at the entrance, “It’s too expensive here. Let’s go to a normal restaurant instead. More importantly, it’s just a gathering and shouldn’t have to be anything big.”
“What gathering?” Lao Lu spoke from the side, “It’s a celebration! Gu Fei, you go in. Don’t worry about this, your Xu Zong and I can pay for this much.”
“What a good boy!” Lao Xu grabbed Gu Fei’s arm with a touched expression on his face. “What a good boy! You know how to be considerate of your teacher! I just knew that you…”
“… can still be saved.” Gu Fei helped finish his sentence, then turned around and went inside the restaurant.
Jiang Cheng followed in from behind, holding back his laughter.
The restaurant had a huge private room that probably didn’t get used much, which was perfect for the large group of them to go in.
“Go get some food.” Lao Xu propped himself on the table as if he was in class. You can eat enough to satisfy your cravings, and you can even get some alcohol, but I’ll have to approve how much you can drink.”
Hearing that, everyone squeezed out all at once to go get their food.
Jiang Cheng took off his coat, and was just about to look at his elbow when his cellphone sounded.
He took it out for a glance and saw that it was a notification for the auto-payment of the current month’s phone bill for a hundred yuan.
Normally, he wouldn’t think that a hundred yuan was much, but now that he looked at the notification, he felt a slight twinge in his heart. Should he switch to a cheaper plan? But then there wouldn’t be enough data, and also, Li Baoguo’s place didn’t have Wi-Fi… maybe get an Ethernet cable? But that would also mean more spending.
He frowned. Although he had money in his card; nonetheless, he was still made uneasy by this state of constantly having no income at all. Li Baoguo had only provided him with a room and nothing else. Now, he even had to go out and buy food once a week to keep in the fridge for him to make something to eat on the daily.
He sighed and walked out of the private room to get some food.
Gu Fei was in front of him, holding a plate in his hands as he looked at the meat in the rows of freezers before him, seemingly in a daze.
Jiang Cheng walked over to stand beside him. He also picked up a plate and a pair of tongs, and in just a few grabs, pork belly, fatty beef, and fatty lamb all piled up on the plate. Then he stacked his plate on top of Gu Fei’s and picked up another one and continued: pork belly, fatty beef…
“How do you maintain your figure?” Gu Fei looked at him.
“I go running when the weather is warm,” Jiang Cheng said. “And, it’s not like I eat like this all the time.”
“Oh,” Gu Fei responded.
“What you just said… about the photos.” Jiang Cheng looked around, there were no classmates nearby. “What was that all about?”
“It’s Xin-jie.” Gu Fei hesitated for a long while with the tongs in his hand then picked up a few shrimps and piled them on the plate. “She has a shop that sells menswear and she’s looking for someone to take some photos.”
“Ah,” Jiang Cheng thought about it. “Don’t these shops normally have their own regular models?”
“Just one regular and the others are all temporary hires. The regular has something to do,” Gu Fei said. “There are new goods that came in the last couple of days, but no one to take photos of them. She asked me to help her look for a suitable person.”
“I see,” Jiang Cheng was a bit hesitant. “I’m completely inexperienced, is that okay?”
“That’s not a problem, you have the face and the figure, and you’re also photogenic,” Gu Fei said. “Liu Fan helped out with the photos before. If he can do it, it definitely won’t be a problem for you.”
“What kind of clothes?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“I’ll show you in a bit.” Gu Fei lifted his chin toward the food counter, “Help me get a bit of vegetables. I can’t take it if it’s all meat.”
“En.” Jiang Cheng took a small basket and filled it with veggies.
When they got to the private room, everyone had already returned from getting food, and the room was piping hot from the steam.
As soon as they entered, Lao Xu picked up a glass of wine and stood up. “Come, our saviors, have a seat. I have something to say.”
After Jiang Cheng and Gu Fei sat down, Lao Xu raised his glass. “Everyone worked hard today. I had you since sophomore year, of course some from junior year… our Class 8 ah, we don’t even rank in the daily morning exercise routine competition1 but today, we can hold our heads up high! It hasn’t been easy! I believe that with your current abilities, entering the finals will not be a problem! Fighting! Come, let’s drink!”
Everybody picked up their glasses and cheered with dissonant clangs.
They had barely taken a sip when Lao Xu started again: “We also have to thank classmates Gu Fei and Jiang Cheng for their efforts today…”
“Lao Xu, Lao Xu,” Lao Lu called out twice, “That’s enough. Let them eat first, they’re all hungry. You’re going to put yourself in tears being this emotional.”
“Drink!” Wang Xu tilted his head back and emptied his glass.
Jiang Cheng glanced at the glasses that all contained beer, and only Lao Xu and Lao Lu’s held liquor.
He followed with a couple of gulps.
“Tomorrow is the girls’ competition,” Wang Xu said. “I wonder how it’ll go.”
“Not a chance. Don’t our girls always get on the court just to lose the match and complete the task? The ball goes flying once they start, and none of them like to play basketball anyway,” Guo Xu said.
There was a collective ensemble of sighs for the girls’ team before everyone then went back to discussing the upcoming matches.
“Look,” Gu Fei browsed through his phone and then passed it over to Jiang Cheng. “They’re mostly in this style, pretty niche…”
Jiang Cheng took the phone and swiped through some of the photos that were all of Liu Fan – the shots were pretty cool. As he swiped to the next few photos, they were of another person, probably Ding Zhuxin’s regular model. He could definitely see the difference if comparing them side to side.
“Steampunk?”2 Jiang Cheng asked.
“There are others as well, with all kinds of retro nostalgia,” Gu Fei said. “What do you think? The payment can be by a single piece or by day which is based on professional models’ rate. And since she is in a rush to shoot, it could be more than usual.”
Jiang Cheng hardly hesitated, after all, it was money. He nodded his head, “Okay.”
“I’ll tell her then. We don’t have any matches for the next two days, so we can go shoot in the afternoon and evening,” Gu Fei said.
“En.” Jiang Cheng looked at the photos once more, “Does anyone actually buy these clothes? They’d be surrounded and stared at for sure if they went out like this. If they’re even a bit complacent about it, they might even get beaten up…”
Gu Fei laughed, “You even worry about this for them?”
“That’s right, I’m kind-hearted like that,” Jiang Cheng stated.
The management at Si Zhong was pretty lenient. With matches initiating in the early afternoon, those that wanted to go and watch didn’t even attend classes and crowded onto the sports field, and those that left, no one even took notice.
However, Jiang Cheng still gave Lao Xu a call. He said that the fall from the day before had caused some pain and he needed to get it checked out at the hospital. Lao Xu approved and even casually lamented that a good student was as good as what was expected of them.
In fact, Jiang Cheng had never asked for leave in the past when he didn’t go to school. But with Lao Xu being the mother-hen type of homeroom teacher who liked to spread his wings and cluck at them all day long, he felt that Lao Xu would be a bit pitiful if he didn’t say something.
“The place is a bit far, but it is only a bus ride away.” Gu Fei took Jiang Cheng to the bus stop. “Her studio doubles as a warehouse and a bedroom that has a small photography set.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng nodded.
He was a little nervous. He wouldn’t even be nervous if someone asked him to take their exams for them to earn money, but modeling for photos… this type of thing that he had never thought of was a bit far from his comfort zone.
When they got on the bus, he noticed that what Gu Fei carried was not his school bag but a rather heavy-looking bag instead. “What are you carrying?”
“Camera, lenses.” Gu Fei went to sit in the very last row.
“You’re… taking the photos?” Jiang Cheng froze.
“En.” Gu Fei pulled his sleeve a little and dragged him to the side seat before an uncle squeezed over to sit down.
“You are taking the photos?” Jiang Cheng asked once more.
“Yes, yes.” Gu Fei looked at him, “I’m taking the photos. Is that strange or something? It’s not like I haven’t photographed you before.”
“I didn’t mean that. I just thought that she had her own photographer,” Jiang Cheng said.
In fact, it wasn’t strange knowing that Gu Fei would shoot the photos. He had seen Gu Fei’s photos before, and Gu Fei had also shared them often in his Moments3; they were indeed very professionally photographed.
“Ding Zhuxin has her own photographer, but she asks me when it gets too busy,” Gu Fei said. “I’ve always helped people take photos though.”
“… ah.” Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Fei.
Once the bus started to move, Jiang Cheng didn’t say anything else.
The heated bus shook and moved exasperatingly slowly. Beside his ears were sounds of people talking and laughing, and while the people in the bus stayed in place, the scenery outside the window constantly changed.
This was the time where one would be harrowed by an unusual drowsiness and the need to sleep, especially in the afternoon, when the eyes started to scuffle with you from looking at the warm sun.
Gu Fei also kept silent. Jiang Cheng glanced over at him and found that he was holding his arms with his eyes closed.
At first, he could hold it back for a while but seeing that Gu Fei had actually fallen asleep already, he felt his own eyes no longer capable of remaining open. He pulled up the hood of his coat over his head and also closed his eyes, letting his head hang low.
But saying that he was sleepy didn’t mean that he could fall asleep just like that. He was in a daze the entire time, surrounded by vague sounds and shadows that constantly flitted by.
Jiang Cheng didn’t know how long he was in that state of half-consciousness, until he felt a bit of weight on his shoulder. He lifted his hood and found that Gu Fei’s head was unknowingly leading against his shoulder.
Gu Fei’s eyelashes were pretty long, but not as thick as Gu Miao’s.
Although he didn’t have any motive toward Gu Fei, especially with Ding Zhuxin feasibly being Gu Fei’s girlfriend…… at this moment, he felt an inexplicable itch in his heart, nevertheless.
This itch that spread from his shoulder, felt like down feathers that had been fluffed up in the sunlight, and gradually caressed the rest of his body.
He closed his eyes again.
The feeling of loneliness, he had always been able to taste it ever since the day he realized that the attractiveness of men was greater to him than that of women, and when the days where he could only strictly keep the secret to himself started.
This feeling of loneliness appeared from time to time.
Pan Zhi knew his secret but wasn’t able to alleviate him of the pressure that came with it.
When he had a family, parents and a brother, classmates and friends, though this loneliness existed, he did not feel it as profoundly.
It was only after he arrived here that they overlapped and pressed together little by little.
He didn’t need the allies, didn’t need those of the same kind who casually nestled together to keep warm.
Though it was an objective attraction, Gu Fei, and Gu Fei’s unconscious position now.
Gave him the illusion of the warmth of ‘two people”.
He wasn’t exactly sure what this taste was.
“Stop requested.” Gu Fei raised his head after the stop was announced. “It’s the next one.”
He froze for a couple of seconds when he saw Jiang Cheng’s shoulder, and then said: “Sorry. I’m too sleepy.”
“It’s okay.” Jiang Cheng stretched out his shoulder, “You’re too tired from acting all cool yesterday.”
Gu Fei laughed and stood up, “Let’s go.”
Jiang Cheng followed. He had only dozed off for a moment, yet his legs felt soft at the knees when he walked… perhaps, he was too fierce the day before, especially since he hadn’t had that much exercise since winter began.
As the wind blew when they got off the bus, the feeling of having no strength in his whole body gradually waned.
Ding Zhuxin’s studio that doubled as a warehouse and bedroom, and had a small photography set, was on a very artistic street; the kind that had all sorts of graffiti on the street, and all kinds of drawings and paintings on the manhole, telephone booths and matching circuit boxes. There were small stores with renovations on either side of the streets that would make anybody who wanted to act pretentious and couldn’t act pretentious enough be afraid to enter in case they lose their shit.
This street was not long or grand, but Jiang Cheng was still rather surprised that a place like this could still exist in such a rundown and crappy little city.
Gu Fei took him into a building that was similar to a small office building. It appeared quite old on the outside, but looking at the signage plates on the wall, the names of the companies here were striving in a direction that made people unable to comprehend.
Jiang Cheng glanced at the names while they waited for the elevator but couldn’t exactly make sense of any of them; the ones in roman alphabets, he didn’t know which country they belonged to, and the Chinese characters also didn’t seem to follow the usual order at first glance.
“What is this place, each and every one of them seem so full of themselves that they can’t even be fucking pulled back by steel cables.” He couldn’t help but say when it was only him and Gu Fei in the elevator.
“This area is called the ‘‘90s Convergence.” Gu Fei leaned against the enclosure and laughed. “It was meant to be a place where young people could gather, the really trendy and fashionable ones, but its kind of steered a bit away from that. No one but pretentious pricks come here now, however, the rent is pretty cheap.”
Ding Zhuxin was waiting in the studio, and the moment the two walked in, she smiled. “I knew you would call him over.”
“Reaallly…” Gu Fei threw the bag he carried on the floor. “We’re all acquainted so there’s no need for introductions.”
“Have a bit of this.” Ding Zhuxin brought over a pot of fruit tea and poured a cup for Jiang Cheng. “I made it myself, and added a bunch of random things. It’s actually pretty good.”
“Thanks.” Jiang Cheng accepted the cup and looked around the studio.
It was a mess, with fabrics and posters everywhere along with several large unopened parcels that most likely contained clothes. But through this mess, he could still perceive that the very foundation was still the largely cold and industrial style that consisted of concrete walls, concrete lighting, exposed red bricks, and intertwining water pipes.
“Let’s get started.” Gu Fei laid down on the sofa, “Let him see the clothes first.”
“Come.” Ding Zhuxin took Jiang Cheng to the racks of hangers and pointed at the clothes hanging on them, “The style this time is ‘back to the basics’, all knitted…”
“Knitted?” Gu Fei interrupted her. “You had me find a ‘bad boy’ for this style?”
“Knitted material.” Ding Zhuxin leaned against the rack, “The design follows a ‘bad boy’ style, though it can be a bit difficult for the model…”
Ding Zhuxin looked at Jiang Cheng up and down, “But he can manage it.”
“Whatever you say.” Gu Fei sat up, opened his bag, and began to prepare the camera.
“Let’s strive for 30 sets today,” Ding Zhuxin said. “What do you think?”
“… okay.” Jiang Cheng looked at the clothes on the racks that were just hanging there in a row like that. Apart from the so-called knitted garments, he couldn’t discern any of the designs that Ding Zhuxin had mentioned at all; there were just a lot of long garments.
Moreover, he had never worn anything that he had always thought was normally worn by older and middle-aged, long-haired artists.
“Go change.” Gu Fei walked over and said, “The undergarments have all been matched already. You just have to change into them.”
“You…” Jiang Cheng turned his head around, but before he could speak, Gu Fei raised the camera and clicked the shutter. Click, click. “… bastard.”
“Just change.” Gu Fei pointed to a room to the side, “We’ll be shooting in there in a bit. She will tell you what kind of feeling she wants for the poses. I promise to make you look… very handsome.”
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng responded and then looked at the clothes on the racks. “I can choose any one of these?”
“Any,” Gu Fei said.
“En,” Jiang Cheng responded once more. He took off his coat and tossed it on the chair to the side but was somewhat embarrassed when he was about to take off his clothes. It was fine that Gu Fei was standing to the side with his camera but Ding Zhuxin was also standing there holding her elbow and sipping tea while staring at him.
He wouldn’t have felt anything if it was a jacket that he had to change into, but when he looked at all the sets, he basically had to strip down to his underwear.
Gu Fei turned to glance at Ding Zhuxin and gestured with his hand.
Ding Zhuxin smiled and turned into the small room to the side. “Come in after you’ve changed. You have a good foundation so simple makeup should be enough. Da Fei can tweak them a bit later.”
“I have to wear makeup?” Jiang Cheng asked as he took off his clothes.
“En.” Gu Fei raised the camera toward him and looked at Jiang Cheng’s well-proportioned torso through the lens. It was indeed a body that had always been trained – very well-toned. “If we don’t apply any, your face will be dark.”
“Can you not point that thing at me?” Jiang Cheng clutched his belt and looked at the camera
“Starting from right now until tonight,” Gu Fei still had the camera raised, “This thing will be pointed at you the entire time.”
Jiang Cheng took off his pants somewhat reluctantly and said while changing into the clothes: “I’m telling you, it’s only because of the money that I haven’t already smacked you.”
Gu Fei laughed.
Jiang Cheng’s legs were rather straight, and were as toned as his upper body. He looked through the lens at Jiang Cheng, who had changed into the upper garment. “You’re actually pretty fitting for this style.”
“No way,” Jiang Cheng said and looked down suspiciously. “I’ve lived for almost 18 years, and haven’t worn anything like this before.”
Gu Fei didn’t speak as he retreated a few steps.
Ding Zhuxin’s eye for people was always pretty accurate. As soon as Jiang Cheng changed into these clothes, the aura around his whole person seemed to have changed.
He always felt that regardless of gender, whoever put on a long-knitted jacket could pick up a bowl and go begging on the street.
But when Jiang Cheng put on the jacket, and turned his face to look at him, Gu Fei’s breath stopped at that moment.
This air about him, it was truly not something he normally saw in the people around him.
Oh dear goodness, Jiang Cheng in steampunk clothes…. YESSSSSSS, please. I’m living for it!! Just look at these images and tell me you do not want to see him in these clothes!! *plus Gu Fei gets to see him change into them :)))))))
1 Calisthenics – (morning exercise routine) competition – a form of exercise consisting of a variety of movements that exercise large muscle groups (gross motor movements), such as running, standing, grasping, pushing, etc. These exercises are often performed rhythmically and with minimal equipment, as bodyweight exercises. They are intended to increase strength, fitness, and flexibility, through movements such as pulling, pushing, bending, jumping, or swinging, using one’s body weight for resistance. Calisthenics can provide the benefits of muscular and aerobic conditioning, in addition to improving psychomotor skills such as balance, agility, and coordination.
2 Steampunk – a retrofuturistic subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre,steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century British Victorian era or the American “Wild West”, in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. However, steampunk and neo-Victorian are different in that the neo-Victorian movement does not extrapolate on technology while technology is a key aspect of steampunk.
Steampunk fashion is a subgenre of the steampunk movement in science fiction. It is a mixture of the Victorian era’s romantic view of science in literature and elements from the Industrial Revolution in Europe during the 1800s. The fashion is designed with a post-apocalyptic era in mind. Steampunk fashion consists of clothing, hairstyling, jewelry, body modification and make-up. More modern ideals of steampunk can include tshirts with a variety of designs or the humble jeans being accessorised with belts and gun holsters.
3 Moments – (Chinese: 朋友圈, pinyin: péngyǒu quān) is a function of the smartphone app WeChat, which is launched on 19 April 2012 in the WeChat version 4.0.It serves new social-networking functions for Wechat users. The Chinese translation of Moment is known as “Friends’ circle”, which means users can share and get access to accepted WeChat friends’ information, creating an intimate and private communicating circle within the users’ choice of close friends.
Moments mainly focuses on sharing pictures with captions, while sharing statuses and sharing websites are also permitted.