Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
The building Gu Fei lived at was newer than Li Baoguo’s. Although it had also been built by the street with no fencing or property management and was probably also public housing, it seemed much more pleasing on the eyes.
It was not imbued with the strong stench of the city center, and even the corridor walls were still white without any sign of cobwebs.
But it was similar in that it was also a low rise building without elevators, and once you entered, climbing the stairs all the way up was the only option – unfortunately. When they got to the fifth floor, Jiang Cheng honestly couldn’t help but ask, “What floor do you live on?”
“The seventh which is the top floor.” Gu Fei turned to give him a quick glance, holding a subtle smile at the corner of his mouth. “What, can’t go on anymore? Do you want me to carry you?”
“Whatever, it’s not like you’re much better. Taking a whole three minutes just to pee before coming out,” Jiang Cheng said. “Your kidneys must be deficient.”
Gu Fei looked at him for a few moments without speaking, then turned back around and continued up the stairs.
There were four households units on the seventh floor, and Gu Fei’s place was the furthest in. When the door was opened, Jiang Cheng composed himself, still remembering the temper tantrum that Gu Fei’s mom threw in the shop the other day.
The moment he passed through the door, he saw Gu Fei’s mom standing in the living room talking on her phone with a cigarette in hand. Seeing the two of them come in, her somewhat startled eyes flew over Gu Fei’s shoulders and fell right on Jiang Cheng’s face.
“Hello, Auntie,” Jiang Cheng quickly said.
“Put it out,” Gu Fei said.
“Why are you so late?” Gu Fei’s mom put out the cigarette, hung up on the call, and looked them up and down. After a while, she went back to staring at Jiang Cheng’s face once more. “You must be the one at the shop last time?”
“Yes.” Jiang Cheng nodded, wondering if he had to change his shoes. “I’m Jiang Cheng.”
Gu Fei took out a pair of slippers from the cabinet and tossed it toward Jiang Cheng’s feet, then turned to look at her. “Is there still food?”
“Yeah, I put aside quite a lot, enough for the two of you,” Gu Fei’s mom replied.
“Sit for a bit,” Gu Fei said. Then he walked to a door beside the living room, carefully pushed open just the slightest crack, and peered inside.
“He’s checking on Er Miao,” Gu Fei’s mom explained to Jiang Cheng. “Our Er-Miao… as an older brother, he worries more than a father.”
Jiang Cheng smiled and didn’t speak.
“Not asleep yet?” Gu Fei leaned against the door frame and said into the crack. “Cheng-ge is here, do you want to get up and say hello to him?”
A few seconds later, the sound of slippers shuffling against the floor faintly came from the other room, followed by the sight of a Gu Miao in a long-style pajamas dashing out the door.
“Good evening,” Jiang Cheng said smiling.
Gu Miao’s face was blank, but she seemed quite anxious as she ran toward him and sat down on the sofa next to him.
“It’s almost 10 PM and you’re not asleep yet?” Jiang Cheng looked at her and fixed the disheveled hair on her head. “You’re going to get dark circles around your eyes tomorrow.”
Gu Miao rubbed her eyes and smiled.
The little girl’s hair was much longer now, and although it still stuck out disorderly as if without a set rule, compared to the shaven head, boyish look from before, this was much prettier.
The brother and sister took after their mother, especially Gu Miao – in a few more years, and with a bit of style, she would definitely be the standard of beauty.
“Eating now?” Gu Fei and his mom walked to the kitchen together. “I’ll heat it up for you guys.”
“En,” Gu Fei responded. “Is there rice?”
“Yeah.” Gu Fei’s mom said as she turned to glance at Jiang Cheng. “Is this kid Li Yan’s boyfriend?”
Even though those words were not at all that particularly loud, Jiang Cheng could still hear them and then suddenly lifted his head in shock. Niania!1 The wind’s too strong that I couldn’t hear clearly, say that again?!
“… no,” Gu Fei said. “What are you even thinking huh?”
“Then why does he have on makeup?” Gu Fei’s mom asked.
“What does makeup have to do with Li Yan? Li Yan doesn’t put on makeup… Ding Zhuxin asked him to take some photos for her today, and he didn’t get to remove the makeup yet… oh, that’s right.” Gu Fei popped his head out from the kitchen. “Jiang Cheng, you can just use my mom’s makeup remover and wash your face.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng stood up.
Gu Fei’s mom took him to the bathroom and handed him the makeup remover oil. “Use this. It’ll remove it all pretty well. You can use the face cleanser at the top over there, it’s Gu Fei’s.”
“Oh, thanks, Auntie.” Jiang Cheng looked at the makeup remover oil.
“The cotton pads are in that pink box…” Gu Fei’s mom looked at him, “Do you know how to use it?”
Jiang Cheng really wanted to say that he did, that way she could quickly leave and stop staring at him. But if he answered “I do”, then he might become “Li Yan’s boyfriend” even though he didn’t know what makeup had to do with Li Yan… eventually, he could only answer with honesty: “I don’t.”
“Er Miao,” Gu Fei shouted from the kitchen, “Go help your Cheng-ge remove his makeup.”
Gu Miao quickly charged in. After Gu Fei’s mom walked out, she stood on her tiptoe and grabbed the pink box of cotton pads, and took out two pads. She poured some of the makeup remover oil on the pad and waved her hand, gesturing for Jiang Cheng to squat down.
“Now what?” Jiang Cheng squatted.
Gu Miao looked at him and closed her eyes tightly before she opened them once more to stare at him.
“Close my eyes, right? Alright.” Jiang Cheng closed his eyes.
Gu Miao started to wipe his face with the cotton pad.
Outside in the kitchen, Gu Fei and his mom didn’t say anything else.
But the phrase “Li Yan’s boyfriend” was still echoing in Jiang Cheng’s ears. Gu Fei’s mom said those words so casually that it sounded as if she was talking about Li Yan’s girlfriend.
Li Yan… is? And, it seemed quite well-known.
If that was the case, then Gu Fei who hung out together with Li Yan every day, should be very understanding of this. Then! Fuck! Jiang Cheng suddenly opened his eyes.
Gu Miao frowned and shook her head with the cotton pad still in her hand.
He immediately closed his eyes again.
If Gu Fei had people like that around him, and had been in touch with such things… then when he kissed him that day, there was now another explanation!
Perhaps he wouldn’t simply interpret it as extreme inebriation like the average person would.
If so, then matters had just gotten more awkward!
Gu Miao left after she finished helping him remove the makeup. He picked up Gu Fei’s face cleanser and looked at it, ‘leaves skin feeling fresh, comfortable, never tight or dry’… utter bullshit. He had used this before, it still left his skin tight – for it to be refreshing, it would also leave the skin tight.
When he came out of the bathroom, his face was already uncomfortably dry and tight; the second he saw Gu Fei, it was so tight, he could barely open his eyes.
“Do you have some sort of toner or cream?” Jiang Cheng asked, “My face is about to crack.”
Without waiting for Gu Fei to speak, Gu Miao quickly sped to her room, and returned to give him a container of cream that was for kids.
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng took it, “You’re quite shameless in showing off your good looks. How come you have this huh?”
“Li Yan bought it for her. She urges everyone else to use it all the time yet never uses it on herself, saying it’s annoying,” Gu Fei commented.
“You know Li Yan?” Gu Fei’s mom looked at Jiang Cheng and asked.
“… not well.” Jiang Cheng answered while applying the cream, feeling a bit helpless.
“They’ve only met two maybe three times, and Li Yan doesn’t have a boyfriend.” Gu Fei was probably also dumbfounded. “You should go to sleep… Er Miao, you go to sleep as well.”
Gu Miao was very obedient and returned to her room to sleep. Gu Fei’s mom grabbed her phone and dialed a number, glancing at Jiang Cheng several more times before she finally went to her room and shut the door.
The food that Gu Fei’s mom prepared was unexpectedly delicious. Although it went cold and had to be heated again, it was still very appetizing, especially the spare ribs. Jiang Cheng ate four or five pieces in a row, and only stopped because of embarrassment.
“You can eat it all,” Gu Fei said. “I was so hungry that I don’t feel like eating anymore.”
“I’m also…” Jiang Cheng hesitated but ended up putting another piece in his mouth.
“My mom’s food is pretty good huh,” Gu Fei laughed.
“En,” Jiang Cheng nodded then thought about it and sighed. He looked at the bowl of food before him. “It’s been quite a long time since… since I ate a home-cooked meal.”
Gu Fei didn’t say anything.
Jiang Cheng didn’t say anything else either as he continued to bury his head in eating.
Ever since he arrived here, he had been practically consuming take-outs every day, otherwise, he went out for something casual. But since he was currently cooking for himself in order to save some money, it was normally just noodles.
Now that he had unpredictably eaten such a delicious “home-cooked meal”, he suddenly felt a twinge of pain in his heart – although he tried hard to not let himself be affected, he still couldn’t control it and even his nose became stuffy.
Luckily, Gu Fei had chosen that moment to get up to take his own dishes to the kitchen, so he quickly wiped away the tears from his eyes and took several deep breaths to calm down his emotions.
After he finished, he didn’t even bother to fight with Gu Fei to wash the dishes – he just didn’t want to move.
“You can sleep on my bed if you’re tired,” Gu Fei said and opened the door to another room. “I’ll sleep on the sofa.”
“There’s no need.” Jiang Cheng stood up and followed him into the room. “I can sleep on the sofa since I can fall asleep anywhere anyways… this room of yours… isn’t bad.”
At first glance, the decoration of Gu Fei’s living room was a style that appeared to be from about ten to twenty years ago and hadn’t been refurbished or updated since. Although it was much better than Li Baoguo’s place that would have still been snubbed by others even fifty years ago, it was extremely ordinary and not considered a wealthy style.
But Gu Fei’s bedroom surprised him.
The room wasn’t big and didn’t have any decoration aside from the slap of white walls but he could see that each piece of furniture had been meticulously chosen and matched.
The bed, bookcase, desk, chair, lazy sofa, small rug, and the hammock in front of the window – there were many things, but it did not feel chaotic, instead, a great sense of warmth and coziness permeated.
“Tea?” Gu Fei picked up a small electric kettle on the desk and put some tea leaves inside. “Or plain boiled water?”
“Water.” Jiang Cheng sat down on the small sofa, “I won’t be able to sleep if I drink tea.”
Gu Fei took a wedge of lemon, put it in a cup, and poured some water for him.
The nice and hot lemon water, the soft sofa, along with the warm and cozy room that he had not felt in the longest time. Jiang Cheng leaned back with the cup of water in his hand, and didn’t even want to utter a word.
“My mom has a low EQ like that, and tends to not think before she speaks.” Gu Fei sat down in front of the computer and connected the memory card from the camera. “You can listen to the words she says, but don’t take it to heart.”
“En,” Jiang Cheng sounded in response. He paused for a moment but couldn’t help it and asked, “Li Yan…”
“Li Yan really doesn’t have a boyfriend,” Gu Fei said then glanced at him and smiled. “But Li Yan really does… like men.”
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng clasped the cup in both his hands and used the rising steam to conceal his face, “Does everyone know… that he’s?”
“Our friends know. I don’t know where my mom learned it from but she won’t go around telling others,” Gu Fei said while transferring the photos, “This kind of matter, it’s not something anyone would willingly let others know, right?”
“Yeah,” Jiang Cheng sighed.
Just as that sigh came to an end, he suddenly returned to his senses and immediately cleared his throat in an attempt to mask that sigh.
Gu Fei glanced at him, but didn’t say anything.
Jiang Cheng was simply unable to control himself from overanalyzing that glance – the awkward tension that had not appeared between him and Gu Fei for the longest of time now encircled him once more.
All he could do was stand up with the cup clasped in his hands and turn around the room.
But since the room wasn’t that big, the place that he could walk to ended within only three steps. He felt as if he was just flopping around, and that was even more awkward than just sitting.
Eventually, he stopped in front of the bookcase.
“Can I look at the bookcase?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“… I don’t even know how to answer that.” Gu Fei turned to look at him, “What’s there on the bookcase that can’t be looked at that needs you to ask for permission?”
“Ah,” Jiang Cheng laughed, “It’s a habit.”
“Your previous… upbringing must have been a bit too strict,” Gu Fei said.
“Maybe, the whole family was very strict. Rules, courtesies, education.” Jiang Cheng looked at the books on the shelves, “I was slow. I should have known from the start that I wasn’t a part of their family. A family of five, and I was the least…”
“You’re pretty good,” Gu Fei looked at the progress bar of the photo transfer.
“Here, I’m probably pretty good.” Jiang Cheng recalled Li Baoguo’s family and the woman with a limp that he had seen earlier. Yeah… only in an environment congested with that kind of life and that kind of lifestyle, could someone like himself be considered “good”.
“Some things don’t need to be compared to be seen.” Gu Fei smiled, poured himself a cup of tea, and took a sip. “Whether or not a person is genuinely ‘good’, you only need to look at the person. There is no need to look at where he is or who’s around him.”
“… you,” Jiang Cheng looked at him in shock. “You suddenly don’t seem like the type of person to hand in a blank test paper.”
“Bullshit. When have I ever handed in blank test papers… I’ve always filled them all in beforehand,” Gu Fei said.
“Oooh,” Jiang Cheng couldn’t help laughing.
Gu Fei picked up the camera and faced the lens toward him.
“You’ve been shooting for the whole day, aren’t you fed up yet?” Jiang Cheng said.
“If it’s of you, then no,” Gu Fei said. “When you smile, you look very… good.”
Jiang Cheng’s smile froze on his face. Gu Fei held up the camera and cursed himself, idiot.
When the first half of the sentence came out, he instantly felt that it wasn’t appropriate, especially just right after Li Yan’s sexual orientation was “exposed” – such words were bound to sound flirtatious.
But against reason, he added another sentence in order to escape the trouble, though he immediately regretted it before he had even finished – words that were more inappropriate than the next, but he insisted on finishing, otherwise, it would look even worse.
By the time he was completely finished, both he and Jiang Cheng were motionless.
He held the camera to cover his face, not knowing what to say to ease the atmosphere.
For someone who had never felt any sort of embarrassment, and seldom minded what other people thought, the dilemma before him now was in and of itself enough to make him speechless.
“After this shoot is over, Ding Zhuxin will probably ask you to shoot some others.” Gu Fei was still holding the camera as he stared at Jiang Cheng’s face in the lens. “If you think that the price is suitable, you can work with her long-term. She’s always unsatisfied with her models but she was pretty happy with you today.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng looked to the left, then to the right and then back at the camera. “Then huh, I wanted to ask you ah, just that… that… uh, Xin-jie is your… that is, you and her… e… is she your…”
“Girlfriend?” Gu Fei interrupted him, “She’s not. I believe I’ve said it before. She and I are childhood friends. I call her big sister.”
“Oh!” Jiang Cheng responded loudly as if trying to escape the awkwardness.
“All that effort.” Gu Fei couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief on his behalf, “I thought you were going to ask about Li Yan and I.”
“Huh?” Jiang Cheng froze and looked at him in utter shock, “You and Li Yan? Are….”
“No!” Gu Fei put down the camera, “Ay, Li Yan and I are just friends. Does he and I look like a couple to you?”
“I don’t know.” Jiang Cheng leaned against the bookcase, seemingly a bit unable to adjust to such a conversation, “Not really. He and Liu Fan look even more like it to me.”
Gu Fei leaned on the chair and laughed for a while: “Liu Fan would be mad at you if he heard this.”
“… really.” Jiang Cheng glanced at him, smiled, and didn’t say anything else.
Bu Shi Hao Niao along with Li Yan and Gu Fei, all appear to have a very good relationship, hung out together in their free time, and also had a common meeting point at the steel mill.
But hearing the subtle meaning in Gu Fei’s words… even as close as they were, there was still someone who couldn’t just accept it.
Yeah, what Pan Zhi said was correct.
Leniency and tolerance only existed in two-dimensional worlds – reality was dreadfully ruthless.
Then what about Gu Fei?
Jiang Cheng rested his head slightly back against the glass door of the bookcase and watched as Gu Fei leaned back and played with his camera.
What kind of attitude he had could clearly be seen – he wasn’t disgusted and could accept it.
But was there anything more?
The kiss he had planted on Gu Fei’s face that day, Gu Fei didn’t even have any reaction to it. If it was Pan Zhi, he would at the very least be taken aback and then start to poke fun at him.
Although Gu Fei was not someone who wore his heart on his sleeve, that kind of tranquil and unperturbed demeanor between two people who were not familiar enough with each other to get dead drunk was nonetheless a bit unusual.
And now that he thought about it, his reaction the next day was also too natural.
Jiang Cheng took a sip of the lemon water.
Gu Fei might be a xuezha, but he was a smart xuezha.
Jiang Cheng suddenly felt a sense of weakness – that everything had already been seen through.
Gu Fei probably knew everything, and the latest information made him unable to respond. So much so that he couldn’t even calmly continue on with their conversation.
After all the photos were completely transferred, Gu Fei created a folder, marked the date, and then began to edit them.
The cursor slowly swiped through the dense thumbnails of photos. He didn’t like to arrange the pictures in sequence, and preferred to pick them out himself.
The cursor finally clicked on the one with Jiang Cheng’s finger caught on the collar.
When the photo was opened, he leaned back – compared to that split second at the set, this clear and sharp frozen moment that suddenly appeared before his eyes was even more stunning.
He propped his arms on the armrests of his chairs, rested his fingers against his forehead, and whistled softly.
“And what about you?” Jiang Cheng suddenly asked those words at this time.
Gu Fei thought that he would just say “shut up, you” as a conditioned reflex, but when he realized what Jiang Cheng said was not that, he didn’t even dare to turn his head to look at Jiang Cheng.
“En?” He maximized the image to full screen, and adjusted the color. “What… about me?”
“Are you?” Jiang Cheng asked.
To be honest, Gu Fei never thought that Jiang Cheng, who was easily prone to awkwardness at the drop of a hat, would suddenly be so straightforward – there wasn’t even a hint of concealment in his tone.
“Are you?” Gu Fei turned around.
“You know if I am or not.” Jiang Cheng looked straight at him, “Now, it is me asking you.”
Gu Fei did not want to answer this question.
Whether or not Jiang Cheng was, he had never actually thought about it, much less in detail.
And also whether he was or not didn’t have any effect on him.
Even if he had some sort of ideas, he had always kept it to himself.
What Jiang Cheng wanted to know, he was a bit afraid to answer – however.
It was relatively easier to get along with each other if neither knew about the other, or at least feigned ignorance. But if it was suddenly out in the open, all the attraction and attention would have a defined purpose and that could expectedly create a panic-stricken feeling.
At least he was like that. He had never thought of doing anything. But once things became transparent, his every word, every look, could all be construed to seem as though he expected something.
“Nevermind,” Jiang Cheng took the cup and sat back down on the sofa. He looked up and let out a long sigh of relief, “You don’t have to say anything, I know.”
Gu Fei looked at him.
“Da Fei.” Jiang Cheng tilted his head to the side to also look at him, “I honestly don’t mean anything else by it. I just want to tell you that if you know, keep it a secret for me, I don’t want… others to know.”
“En.” Gu Fei nodded, recalling that this was the first time that Jiang Cheng did not call him ‘Gu Fei’.
“Just like how you also don’t want others to know.” Jiang Cheng took another sip of water.
“You, threatening me?” Gu Fei laughed.
“Yeah.” Jiang Cheng also laughed and nodded his head.
“I will keep it a secret,” Gu Fei said.
The author has something to say: Resting tomorrow, continuing on Friday.
Oyo, what an embarrassing development, no longer calling him Gu Fei ah. *the author put the shredded orange peel on the small black cashmere pad and said.*
They will ask you why the two haven’t slept yet o(≧口≦)o。*the black hairy sauce roared*
I LOVE THIS CHAPTER T_T a lot of well-written paragraphs that I don’t think I’ve even translate it nice enough.
1 Niania！风太大我听不清 (the winds too strong, I can’t hear clearly): basically an interjection of wonder, shock or admiration.
A Xifu dialect (this is said in most areas west of Xi’an, not only Baoji). This became popular when comedic crosstalk actors, Miao Fu and Wang Sheng used the phrase in Baoji dialect and made people laugh.
2 Xuezha (学渣) (coll.) unenthusiastic, mediocre student / underachiever ; the counter to Jiang Cheng being a xueba
“你说什么？风太大我听不清…” “What did you say? The wind’s too strong, I couldn’t hear clearly…”came from the below.
There was a Japanese manga/anime by Clamp called “Tokyo Babylon” that was very popular among students at the time. The story tells of a betrayal, and belonged to the boyxboy romance. At that time, many girls liked to read it, and there were two very impressive dialogues, one was: “The petals of the cherry blossoms are pink because there are dead people buried under the cherry blossom trees,” and the other was: “What did you say? The wind’s too strong, I couldn’t hear clearly…”
Sae: BAHAHAHA I’ve read Tokyo Babylon and I do not remember this dialogue at all huhuhu but WuZhe, the author, is just pro like that!!