Translate: An & Ice | Edit: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
Jiang Cheng considered Lao Xu to be quite responsible, but he really didn’t want to say anything, nor did he even know how to say it. Even if he made an effort to explain – because the person who lashed out from a single comment by another person was him – if he wanted to clearly explain the situation, he would have to simultaneously explain too many other things in the process, things he had no will to confront.
In comparison, he would much rather take the punishment in silence, except he did feel quite sorry for Lao Xu, who sincerely worried about his students.
Lao Xu used half a lesson worth of time to patiently remonstrate him with a sincere and intense conviction – to move with logic, to touch with emotions.1 Jiang Cheng felt as if Lao Xu’s tears were about to roll down his face. But in the end, he still wasn’t able to get an answer out of Jiang Cheng and had no choice but to let him return back to the classroom.
When he arrived downstairs, the fuckhead from Class 5 coincidently walked out from the nurse’s office after treatment.
It didn’t look like he was severely injured. There were several bruises and graze marks and the part that looked the worse was… swollen.
Jiang Cheng had repeatedly beaten him with his right hand, so the fuckhead’s left eye was so swollen that there was only a crack left. His left cheek was also swollen, making him look sort of lopsided.
Once he saw Jiang Cheng, his one and one-fifth of an eye almost spewed out fire.
Jiang Cheng paused his steps and stood still at the spot two to three metres away from the staircase, not taking another step forward.
“What?!” Fuckhead spat on the ground. “Weren’t you quite tough before?! Afraid now?”
Jiang Cheng did not respond.
Fuckhead eyed him from the two and two-fifth of an eye then walked up the stairs while spewing obscenities. Jiang Cheng continued to hear his voice until it lowered and eventually faded away and only then did he also slowly make his way up the stairs.
Lao Lu probably didn’t even get a chance to start his lesson for this period yet. When Jiang Cheng strolled into the classroom, he was standing behind the podium swearing, so loudly that the flakes of paint fell off from the ceiling above.
“The hero2 is back!” When Lao Lu saw him enter, his teaching pointer instantly pointed toward him. “Jiang Cheng, let me give you a suggestion!”
Jiang Cheng turned around to look at him.
“Why don’t you write an essay about how to cross two groups of people and rush into the hallway yet walk out of a brawl completely unharmed!” Lao Lu roared, “Once you’re done, I’ll help you print it and stick it up in the classroom!”
“… oh,” Jiang Cheng responded somewhat helplessly and returned to his seat.
“It’s not me who is being unfair,” Lao Lu’s teaching pointer danced across the podium, pointing left then right. “Every single one of you! Are only like a human being when you’re asleep! Once your eyes open, you become piles of shit! Never have I seen any of you do one thing that isn’t foul! Your parents work themselves to death only to support you pieces of shit to mess around in school…”
“Did you go to the Director of Academics’ office?” Gu Fei asked with his head down while playing on his phone.
“No,” Jiang Cheng answered.
“They’ll probably get you all at once when school’s over then,” Gu Fei replied.
Gu Fei was indeed pretty experienced.
During the last few minutes before the final period ended, the Director of Academics, Lao Xu, and Class 5’s homeroom teacher all arrived and blocked the entrance to the hallway.
Everyone who had taken part in the fight was dragged to the Director of Academics’ office without a single person left behind.
The Director of Academics first gave them a good round of scolding, then after he was done, he made them confess to the reason for the fight. Not a single person in the group could give an explanation; they just joined in when they saw people fighting.
In the end, the Director of Academics secured Jiang Cheng and Fuckhead as his targets.
“He said you hit him,” the Director of Academics stared at Jiang Cheng. “Why?”
“Right. There must be a reason,” Lao Xu immediately chimed in. “Jiang Cheng’s marks are amongst the top ten of his grade, especially out of all the key senior high schools…”
“Xu Laoshi, I know that he’s a xueba,” the Director of Academics cut off Lao Xu’s words. “Wait for me to finish asking.”
Lao Xu shut his mouth.
But Jiang Cheng didn’t say a word from the beginning to the end.
Just when the Director of Academics was about to flare up, Wang Xu raised his hand: “I know.”
“Speak.” The Director of Academics glanced at him, “I’ve never seen you this well-behaved in class before, not to mention, raising a hand.”
“They came to our class and cursed at us,” Wang Xu explained. “Saying stuff like, ‘Cheng Cheng, Cheng Cheng, f*ck your mother’. Anybody would blow up if they heard that, and they even said it in a weird tone…”
“What are you saying?!” Fuckhead shouted immediately after he heard that, “When did I ever curse at somebody?!”
“You were cursing during morning study ah.” Wang Xu glared at him, “Otherwise, even a xueba would beat you up? Serves you right.”
“What the fuck!” Fuckhead was furious, so much that his left eye even opened, “I…”
“Listen to him, Director!” Wang Xu became even more motivated, “Listen to him! He’s even cursing right now! He was cursing even louder during morning study. We all heard him! Why else would we all start fighting together? None of us are usually like this, but we do have a collective sense of honour!”
“Exactly! We all heard it!” The group of students that were dragged from Class 8 echoed in perfect unison.
“You all heard shit!” Fuckhead’s face was thoroughly red as he turned to the students in his own class, “Did any of you hear anything?!”
“Nothing! He never even cursed!” The students from Class 5 also maintained unity.
“Of course you guys didn’t hear him.” Gu Fei was at the very back of the room, leaning against an office desk, “There’s an entire classroom between us, and he was right beside Jiang Cheng when he cursed.”
“Gu Fei!” Fuckhead pointed a finger toward Gu Fei but couldn’t get any words out for a long time.
“They definitely heard you when you started screaming later on though,” Gu Fei snickered.
“Enough,” the Director of Academics gave Gu Fei a glare.
Gu Fei took out his phone, lowered his head, and started playing once more.
The truth was already made clear: Fuckhead cursed at somebody and got beaten up, which then triggered the fight between the two classes. Even if Fuckhead tried his best to protest, the Director of Academics didn’t think there was anything faulty with this conclusion.
In a school like Si Zhong, as long as there was a fight, there wouldn’t be a single person who was completely innocent.
Following that, the homeroom teachers of the two classes argued fiercely in accordance with their own logic, each piling the blame onto the other’s class. Lao Xu’s arguing was the same when he was teaching classes, without much vigour, but he really was wordy – once he started talking, there was no end to it. The other homeroom teacher was a female teacher; she started up a few times but couldn’t squeeze a thing in, so in the end, she just waved her hand, ‘seemingly’ in defeat: “Fine, I won’t say anymore. Xu Laoshi’s eloquence is really wasted on being a teacher.”
“You’re flattering me.” Lao Xu nodded his head in an extremely polite manner.
“Alright, alright, there’s no need to fight.” The Director of Academics also had an exhausted expression.
In the end, the final solution was for all those who participated in the fight to write a self-reflection paper with at least 800 words and clean two of the school’s washrooms for a week. The ones who started the fight, Jiang Cheng and Fuckhead, would have to go on stage during Monday’s morning assembly to read their self-reflection papers out loud to the entire school – it was to be a cautionary punishment after all.
Once they heard there were going to be disciplinary actions taken, both Lao Xu and Class 5’s homeroom teacher instantly grew agitated.
“Director, I don’t think this matter is serious to the point where disciplinary actions are necessary.” Class 5’s homeroom teacher reasoned, “Besides, looking at the severity of the injuries, our class is…”
“Right!” Lao Xu agreed in a loud voice.
At this moment, Jiang Cheng seemed to see Lao Xu’s manifestation.
But Lao Xu changed back to himself with the next sentence: “They’re all teenagers. It’s normal to be a little impulsive, and as educators and superiors, we mustn’t use this one-size-fits-all method sort of punishment on them. What effect would disciplinary actions possibly have? It’ll only leave a mark on their records. This method only reduces the workload of us educators, so I don’t agree with it. I believe that we should use our love and care, our patience, and…”
“Xu Laoshi… Xu Laoshi… Lao Xu…” The Director of Academics raised an Erkang hand3 with a pained expression while the other hand was placed over his chest, “I know, I understand your good intentions…”
“We as educators would definitely also feel very powerless when faced with so many children, but this is the career that we chose…” Lao Xu didn’t have any intention to stop, “Who didn’t have any impulses at this age? Look, the two of us were classmates, right? When you were in high school…”
“Xu Qicai!”4 The Director of Academics cried, “I said I know now!”
Jiang Cheng was originally in a pretty low mood, but now, he didn’t know how his mood suddenly became very good. Lao Xu’s words were pretty funny, but he still felt moved. A teacher like this could be counted as a type of luck if you could meet once in your life – even though Lao Xu was never able to find the correct way to communicate with his students because of his low EQ…
But he really did want to laugh right now, and those with thoughts like this was certainly not just him. He already heard the unsuppressed giggles coming from Wang Xu’s side.
“Fine.” The Director of Academics downed two big gulps of water, “There won’t be any disciplinary actions taken at the moment, but there would be observations. If there are any disciplinary violations committed this semester then punishments would be added, and not just a cautionary one. It would be directly recorded.”
“Reporting,” Gu Fei called out from the back. “Why do I also have to write a self-reflection paper?”
“Did you not fight?!” The Director of Academics slammed the cup onto the table.
Jiang Cheng felt that he was about to reach his limit.
“No,” Gu Fei replied. “I was breaking up the fight.”
“I was the one who instructed him to break up the fight.” Lao Xu nodded his head and chimed.
“You hit me!” Fuckhead yelled, he was on the verge of stomping his feet.
“Who saw that?” Gu Fei narrowed his eyes and swept his gaze across the faces of the group of students present, “Who saw that I hit you?”
Fuckhead was so angry that his hand was trembling a little but remained silent.
“What are you doing here if you weren’t part of the fight?!” The Director of Academics yelled directly at Gu Fei.
“You guys dragged me here,” Gu Fei replied.
“… you write one.” The Director of Academics shouted once more, “Go write about how I caught you being late and climbing over the wall this week! Go on stage and read it aloud with them as well!”
When they exited the Director of Academics’ office, the moods of the students from the two classes seemed to be pretty low. Lao Xu escorted them all the way from the school gates to the parking shed, wanting to lecture them a little more but couldn’t successfully open his mouth.
That was because the group had squatted in the parking shed and was laughing uncontrollably, unable to extricate themselves no matter what.
Jiang Cheng still wanted to laugh a bit when he was seated in the small bun. He had to open a slit in the windows and let a little bit of wind blow in to clear his head.
“We’re driving over to Ding Zhuxin’s place?” He asked after the car was driven a while.
“En.” Gu Fei nodded, “Isn’t it convenient?”
“Ay, I just want to ask. This sort of car is all driven by old people, but you’re a youngster driving this thing, would the police not care?” Jiang Cheng questioned.
“Care about what? You’re thinking as if this place is like where you came from,” Gu Fei answered. “If they really blocked me then I would just tell them that I’m taking the car over to my grandfather. What’s there about it?”
“Your grandfather knows how to drive this?” Jiang Cheng laughed as he asked.
“Nope, he died a long time ago,” Gu Fei replied.
“Ah.” Jiang Cheng paused for a bit and didn’t say anything else.
“It was suicide.” Gu Fei stopped the car at a red light. He leaned against the back of the seat and said in a light voice, “He drank pesticide.”
“Why?” Jiang Cheng was a little shocked.
“Because he had a bastard of a son.” Gu Fei grew silent for a while after he spoke, then once the green light lit up, he drove out for another half a street before saying another sentence. “There’s plenty of fucked up people and fucked up things in this world, you just haven’t seen them yet.”
Jiang Cheng gazed at his silhouette and didn’t make a sound.
“Don’t think too much,” Gu Fei said, “Live like a spectator, it would be a lot easier.”
“Ah.” Jiang Cheng sounded then closed his eyes.
Today, Ding Zhuxin wasn’t in the studio and there was only a girl busy organizing a pile of clothes.
“Xin Jie’s assistant, Xiao Lu.” Gu Fei introduced them, “This is Jiang Cheng, today’s model.”
“So handsome… oh, I’m Lucia. He simplified it for me when he couldn’t read it properly.” Xiao Lu laughed a little then pointed at the two rows of clothes on the rack, “Those are today’s. They’ve all been matched up already. I’ll apply some makeup on you later.”
When Xiao Lu was putting makeup on Jiang Cheng, he glanced toward the clothes scheduled for today and felt that it was quite similar to the ones from yesterday – they were all either Dharma Master styles, or otherwise, beggar style. However, it was not knitted fabric, the majority of them were burlap… this made beggar style even more accurately beggar style.
But Jiang Cheng was willing to wear these because, at the very least, the wind wasn’t coming at him from all directions.
“Okay done, you really don’t need much makeup, to be honest.” Xiao Lu took a step to look over him, “Your face shape should be pretty photogenic, the outlines are very sharp.”
“You sure have a lot to say.” Gu Fei entered the room with the camera in his hands, “Okay, hurry up and change. It’s dead tiring to shoot until the evening every day.”
“It’s good now.” Xiao Lu clapped her hands, “I’ll leave the rest of the hard work to you guys now. I need to go to the warehouse. If anyone calls, help me answer it and tell them to call my cell.”
“Okay.” Gu Fei nodded his head.
Jiang Cheng waited for Xiao Lu to leave before he walked up to the racks to take a look, wanting to pick a set that was easy on the eyes.
“They all have to be shot,” Gu Fei leaned against the door frame. “It doesn’t matter if you wear one first or another last – you have to wear them all.”
“… I know.” Jiang Cheng had no choice but to randomly pick a set.
Gu Fei turned and walked back into the inner room. Jiang Cheng studied the clothes; this set had quite a lot of layers, not bad, at least it would be warm.
He just had no idea why all the clothes Ding Zhuxin designed couldn’t be differentiated between men and women, or to put it another way – why they all looked like fucking women’s wear.
This set did have a pair of baggy burlap pants, but the upper wear was a loose long top. Once he pulled it on, he felt like he should have a set of prayer beads in his hands as well.
“En,” Gu Fei watched him enter and raised an eyebrow. “This set is pretty good.”
“Don’t make me roast your beauty-standards.” Jiang Cheng stood under a set of already turned-on lights. Having the shooting experience from the previous day, he no longer had the awkward feeling of not knowing where to place his hands when he stood there.
“Walk around casually, turn your body, and look back,” Gu Fei aimed the camera at him. “You can choose whether to smile or not.”
Jiang Cheng paced back and forth a few times in front of the lens: “This okay?”
“Great,” Gu Fei replied. “Let’s take a close-up of your profile and then you can go change.”
“Why do we need a close-up of my profile?” Jiang Cheng looked at him.
“You have a cut on your lips… don’t tell me that you haven’t noticed?” Gu Fei asked.
“I noticed,” Jiang Cheng said. “What does that have to do with a profile close-up?”
“It looks quite good.” Gu Fei pressed the shutter, “Okay, you can go change now.”
“No wait,” Jiang Cheng didn’t budge. “Why?”
“I’m shooting for a personal piece,” Gu Fei replied. “Didn’t I take pictures of you before?”
“… fine.” Jiang Cheng walked out. His entire morning was extremely chaotic, he was too lazy to waste any mental energy now.
He grabbed another set from the rack. He didn’t take a clear look at whatever the fuck the top was, but the bottom was actually a skirt. He first put the skirt on.
He was a little speechless once he put it on; it was a skirt that wasn’t quite ankle-length but wasn’t quite calf-length either.
But now, he already had a rough idea about Ding Zhuxin’s style.
Basically, if it’s hard to figure out then just go bare-footed.
But regarding the clothes…
“Gu Fei.” Jiang Cheng held up a mass of burlap as he walked in, shirtless, wearing a calf-length skirt on the bottom. “You two childhood friends, please explain to me what this thing is for?”
“En?” Gu Fei put down his camera and swept a glance across Jiang Cheng’s body. Jiang Cheng’s body was really not bad, especially that scar across his rib…
Jiang Cheng shook open the thing in his hands: “Is this the raw material? Has it not been processed?”
Gu Fei looked at the large rectangular burlap in front of him and smiled, “I got it, give it to me.”
Jiang Cheng tossed the fabric over to him. He caught it and brought it together into a strip, threw it over Jiang Cheng’s shoulder, and wrapped it twice.
“Fuck?” Jiang Cheng was dumbfounded, “This is a scarf?”
“… no, but you can think of it that way.” Gu Fei tugged at the fabric for a long time and made the entire thing appear as if it was casually wrapped.
“If somebody actually buys this thing then I will eat it,” Jiang Cheng remarked.
“This won’t necessarily be sold, probably just used to display the design concept.” Gu Fei backed two steps, “Alright, very sexy.”
“I feel like if I move, it will fall off.” Jiang Cheng stiffened his arm and pinched the fabric draped over his shoulder, “I can’t move.”
“You can just run in front of me, don’t bother about whether it will fall off or not.” Gu Fei raised the camera.
Jiang Cheng was like a robot as he moved across the backdrop. Even though the movement was really funny, the smooth and firm back was still incredibly beautiful. Gu Fei pressed the shutter.
“Are you sick?” Jiang Cheng slanted his head back, but didn’t turn around, probably afraid that the large fabric would fall off, “Is this also for a personal piece?”
“Yes, I didn’t even capture your face,” Gu Fei answered.
“How come you have the same sort of behavior as Wang Xu?” Jiang Cheng finished positioning himself.
“If I take a picture of you, you would be even more handsome,” Gu Fei replied. “But if he takes a picture of you, he could only rely on your face.”
“… hurry up! It’s about to fall!” Jiang Cheng had no idea what he should say to that.
“Run,” Gu Fei ordered.
Jiang Cheng stiffened the upper part of his body and ran past the camera.
“Is it okay?” He turned to look at Gu Fei, the fabric on his body slipped off in a very smooth manner.
Gu Fei clutched the camera and stared at him without saying a word.
“Fine, I know.” Jiang Cheng sighed, “Was it a little…”
“You ran like a chicken,” Gu Fei said.
“Fuck.” Jiang Cheng was a little disgruntled, “What the fuck are you saying?”
“Have you ever seen a chicken run before?” Gu Fei asked, “They don’t move their heads.”
Jiang Cheng glared at him then squatted down after a few seconds, bursting into a round of laughter as he faced the ground. “Fuck, I won’t shoot this set anymore.”
“The pieces are going to be counted,” Gu Fei said with a laugh, “Be more dedicated.”
He could only stand up again: “Fine, I’ll try my best to not run like a chicken later.”
Gu Fei walked over and picked up the burlap on the ground and wrapped it around his body again.
Jiang Cheng didn’t know if it was because he was shirtless, but when Gu Fei neared him, he felt Gu Fei’s breaths against his shoulder… the sensation made his heart beat faster.
If the breaths had fanned past his face or brushed his ear, the sense of ambiguity wouldn’t be so obvious; but the shoulders are a place that wouldn’t be exposed this season, making it subconsciously become a private place on his body.
Jiang Cheng felt a little stifled, but he didn’t clench his teeth nor did he say a word, because he could tell that Gu Fei was being very careful. When he adjusted the fabric, he hadn’t touched him at all.
He didn’t want to become somebody so unreasonable and sensitive in Gu Fei’s eyes.
“Alright.” Gu Fei glanced a couple of times, “Start running from here, we can just manage to capture the scar.”
“What sort of hobby is taking pictures of scars?” Jiang Cheng questioned.
“A ‘having survived many vicissitudes’…” Gu Fei raised the camera, “Little monk.”
Just as Jiang Cheng wanted to retort, he then shouted again, “Run!”
Jiang Cheng had to lift his leg and run to the other side, and because he didn’t want to have to run for the third time, he ran without any scruples now. When he felt the fabric starting to slip off his body halfway, he ignored it and ran with wide strides, arriving at the other side with just a few steps.
When he turned back, the piece of fabric had fallen on the spot in the middle.
Gu Fei took a look at the camera screen: “Amazing.”
Among the pictures taken was one where he was jumping into the air with his legs extending out and the “scarf” half-slipping off his body – it had a great feeling to it.
“Can I change now?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“Let’s take another static one.” Gu Fei pondered for a while then pointed to the single-person sofa at the back. “Sit there and just casually throw the fabric around you. If there’s more then just toss it behind you.”
“En.” Jiang Cheng sat down.
“Put your arms on the armrests at each side. Relax. The lazier the better.” Gu Fei gazed at him through the lens, “Put one leg on top of the other one.”
“I’ve never crossed my legs before.” Jiang Cheng crossed his legs, “Like this?”
“Not like that, too girly,” Gu Fei said. “Cross your legs from that area around your ankles.”
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng crossed his legs according to what he said then he leaned back against the sofa and rested his head against the back. “Is this okay?”
After Gu Fei pressed the shutter, he held up the camera and didn’t move.
“Is it good now?” Jiang Cheng asked again.
“It’s good now.” Gu Fei lowered the camera, “Can I edit this one a bit and send it into my Moments?”5
“Ah?” Jiang Cheng was stunned. He knew that Gu Fei often posted pictures; there was Er Miao, sceneries, and many portraits. There were people he knew and people he didn’t know.
“And the previous one too.” Gu Fei looked at him, “Is that alright?”
“Ah, it’s fine.” Jiang Cheng nodded. He thought for a while and asked, “Do you often make money by taking pictures for people?”
“Not often,” Gu Fei answered. “It’s, always.”
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng suddenly sighed with some emotions. This photoshoot was the first time he had ever made money in his life. Last year when Pan Zhi pulled him along to hand out flyers with him, saying to experience life, he didn’t even go. “You’re pretty awesome.”
“Bullshit,” Gu Fei simply replied. “My family has a lot of things we need to spend money on. It’s not enough to rely on that little shop and Gu Miao still has to take medicine.”
“Your mom… doesn’t work?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“She’s too busy dating.” Gu Fei smiled, “She never worked again since my dad died.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t say anything. This was the first time that Gu Fei had mentioned his father’s death – he really was dead.
Then… how did he die?
He recalled Li Baoguo’s words. Even though he didn’t believe him… he couldn’t ask either – unless one day Gu Fei willingly told him, just like how he was toward his own circumstances.
I should change to another set, Jiang Cheng walked out and quickly changed and came back in.
Gu Fei took a glance and suddenly wanted to laugh. He didn’t know what Ding Zhuxin was thinking.
“A wild primitive person?” Jiang Cheng helplessly spun around, took out something from behind his waist and shook it. “It even comes with a slingshot? No offense, this slingshot is defective. It would definitely be crooked if used.”
“Really?” This set of clothes couldn’t even look good with a figure and face like Jiang Cheng’s. Gu Fei couldn’t hold back any longer; he put down the camera and burst out laughing. “Then let’s use yours.”
Once this sentence left his lips, both he and Jiang Cheng simultaneously grew silent.
The room was so quiet that the spitting of a water bubble from the tap sounded like thunder.
Gu Fei had a feeling.
He was doomed.
Ice: Ahhhhh I am finally done with high school (and this chapter lololol). Damn Gu Fei is thirsty af, though I don’t really blame him… I also want to be able to drool over Jiang Cheng’s face and body…(º﹃º )
Thank you An as well for working on this chapter despite school T.T !! Also, I only edit, not translate this chapter 🙂 – Sae
1 To move with logic, to touch with emotions, 晓之以理动之以情: basically – let him understand by reasoning while moving him with emotions
2 Hero, 功臣 – lit. minister who has given outstanding service
3 Erkang hand (尔康手) – popular Chinese meme of Er Kang, a character from a famous Chinese costume drama “Princess Pearl” where he has his hand reached out to stop someone.
4 Xu Qicai 徐齐才 – Xu Laoshi aka Lao Xu aka Xu Zong’s full name
5 Moments: On the highly popular social media app among the Chinese population “WeChat”, an important part of it is being able to post your feeds on “moments” – kind of like Instagram.