Translate: Ice | Edit: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
Looking at the scores, the second half of the game didn’t hold much suspense; as long as Class 8 didn’t stay rooted in place and wait for Class 7 to shoot, they would definitely be able to win.
Wang Xu and the rest foresaw this victory. As if each and every one of their bodies were lit on fire, they ran like their tails had been burned, dashing around with a swoosh. Those who did layups and vied for rebounds seemed to have firecrackers between their feet that made them as happy as a lark1, even letting all the substitutes on the bench come up in turn to practice some.
Class 8’s audience also yelled with all their hearts since the opportunity to cheer for their own class during a competition was really hard to come by. Lao Lu, on the other hand, could make himself be heard above all the screams even without the use of a loudspeaker.
However, Class 7 would not concede.
On the court of a game, there really wasn’t such a thing as conceding. Unless it were at the very last second, nobody would simply concede defeat.
But Class 7’s method of expressing their unwillingness to concede actually irritated Jiang Cheng.
All sorts of collisions, blocks, and petty maneuvers were continuously used in the open and in the shadows. The number of fouls committed in just the first few minutes of the third quarter was enough for a free throw to be given.
They no longer cared about whether or not they could score any points – they couldn’t possibly catch up. Their only goal was probably to vent their anger as they interfered with Class 8’s attempts at scoring.
“I can’t stand it anymore.” Lu Xiaobin had always been a person of few words, but during the break, he wiped his sweat and complained, “I was even hit on the base of my thigh. It could’ve been my balls, you know. I don’t want to be impotent…”
“But we have to win cleanly.” Wang Xu had been elbowed in the head when he went to snatch a rebound, but he continued to adhere to Jiang Cheng’s words. “They can do whatever they want, but we can’t do whatever we want. Otherwise, if we win, people may say that we played dirty.”
“Then let’s bear with it for a little longer,” Guo Xu sighed. “We’ll definitely be able to win anyways. There’s less than ten minutes remaining. They don’t stand a chance no matter what they do.”
“It’s been four times for Boar Head, right?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“En.” Gu Fei sounded in response, looking over at the people on the other side with a face full of displeasure.
“Go incite him to do it again,” Jiang Cheng said. “Remember only to incite a foul, not commit a foul.”
“En.” Gu Fei still had a face full of displeasure.
“I’ll tell you guys what to do in this kind of situation in a little while.” Jiang Cheng raised his arms and stretched his waist. His arms continued to rise until the people from Class 7 all looked over from the other side, then he stretched out his thumb and turned it downward.
Hu Jian immediately pointed at him, spouting incoherent obscenities.
Jiang Cheng then raised his arms over his head again, formed a heart, and even tilted his body toward him.
Laughter burst out from all sides.
“Fuck!” Hu Jian cursed loudly. He was about to charge over with a swing of his arm but was held back by the other people in his class.
“Just do that?” Wang Xu was a little befuddled, “Should we do it together?”
“I meant when we go on the court again in a bit.” Jiang Cheng felt a little helpless and withdrew his arms, “I’m just warming up and giving a little thanks to those who cheered us on.”
“Oh!” Wang Xu came to a sudden realization, patted a few of the other teammates around him, and then turned toward the people in their class and raised his arms into a heart. “Quick, give our thanks to our cheerleading team!”
Who knew whether it was because the group of them were overexcited or because they had acknowledged Wang Xu’s position as the class tyrant, but they had actually only hesitated for a split moment before they raised their arms together to strike a few heart shapes toward their classmates.
The people from Class 8 suddenly burst into shouts, pulling the other audience members into a round of applause.
“Da Fei.” Wang Xu turned to Gu Fei, who was cradling his arm and watching the excitement on the side.
“No.” Gu Fei simply refused.
“Da Fei! Don’t you have any collective sense of honour?!” Wang Xu glared at him, “Quickly!”
“Mental retards.” Gu Fei continued to simply refuse.
“Gu Fei!” The girls from the class started shouting, “Gu Fei! Gu Fei!”
“Even Jiang Cheng, Cheng-ge, struck a heart!” Wang Xu cried.
“Do I have to strike one just because Jiang Cheng Cheng struck one?” Gu Fei was a little helpless.
What the fuck is Jiang Cheng Cheng?! Jiang Cheng, who was drinking water at the side, almost choked.
The referee blew the whistle – the last few minutes of the game were about to start. The girls were still shouting with voices that carried hints of disappointment.
Jiang Cheng felt that Gu Fei wasn’t likely to give this honor, so he turned away and started walking toward the court. Suddenly, he heard a wave of mad screams reverberate all around him; the girls on the other side even started jumping as they screamed.
He turned his head and saw Gu Fei raising his arms above his head to strike a heart.
Fuck, they’ve all gone mad.
Class 7 was behind almost by 20 points, and there were only a few minutes left so no matter what might happen, it was impossible for them to catch up. As a result, the moment they started playing, their tactic wasn’t to score points but to wear down the people from Class 8 one-by-one.
As soon as the ball landed in Class 8’s hands, whoever held the ball would instantly be surrounded by at least two players of Class 7. Boar Head and Hu Jian, the pair of scoundrels, were the main force. There may not necessarily be many small actions taken, but they would pester them so much that they couldn’t even pass the ball, easily making them reach over 24 seconds.
The only thing Jiang Cheng could admire about Class 7 was their energy.
In this kind of situation, only with Jiang Cheng and Gu Fei cooperating could they go on offense. They must move rapidly and make use of every second2 to pass to one another with tricky angles.
There had been several times when Jiang Cheng couldn’t bother to care about the timing of his pass to Gu Fei and only knew that he must pass it. At those times, he had nearly smashed Gu Fei’s head.
Just when Gu Fei caught the ball and made it past the midline, Boar Head blocked right in front of him.
Even when Jiang Cheng was several steps away, he could see the fire surging from Boar Head’s eyes – it had to be as big as a candle.
This was a good chance. With Gu Fei’s skill, inciting Boar Head wasn’t a problem, especially since the original purpose of Boar Head being here was to play dirty.
“Pass!” Jiang Cheng got rid of the person guarding him, rushed to the left front side of Gu Fei, and shouted.
Gu Fei glanced at him and charged forward with the ball in both hands; then he changed his angle the moment Boar Head was about to slam his hand down on the ball.
Boar Head slapped his hand down on his wrist instead, making a crisp sound.
The ball flew out of Gu Fei’s hands.
Immediately after, the referee’s whistle sounded: “Hacking foul!3 Five fouls!”4
The audience burst into a symphony of roars and applause.
When Boar Head was disqualified from the court as penalty, Wang Xu high-fived his teammates one by one with a face full of excitement as if he was the one who had disqualified Boar Head himself – he was simply high with fighting spirits.
However, Boar Head getting switched out did nothing to diminish Class 7’s shameless arrogance. There were only four minutes left in the game.
The rampage led by Hu Jian continued.
Frankly speaking, Class 7’s persistent attitude of desperately fighting back even at the last second was pretty… you know… when some teams saw that it was impossible to catch up, the last quarter could definitely be played like a walk in the park.
But Class 7’s persistence was used the wrong way.
During the several times that Hu Jian pounced on Jiang Cheng, he had wanted to slap Hu Jian on the face. He had even regretted that he didn’t use the handle of the mop to beat him up that noontime.
An opportunity came at the last minute. Hu Jian grabbed the ball and charged toward the net. To be honest, Class 7’s physical capabilities were much more potent than that of Class 8’s. Probably because they had many substitutes, so they had much more time to rest.
Hu Jian even had the energy to rush forward at this time. Their team’s speed was already a little slower than when they first started, thus letting Hu Jian make it directly to the net.
He leaped up and shot the ball.
Jiang Cheng calculated the time of his take-off and put all his strength into this jump; Hu Jian’s jump wasn’t anything outstanding – it wasn’t even comparable to that of a heavy player like Lu Xiaobin. Jiang Cheng’s jump overtook him.
Hu Jian shot the ball, and it flew toward the net as he was rising.
At that moment, Jiang Cheng reached out in the air and slapped down on the ball.
The slap was clean and precise. Except for the ball, nothing else was touched.
But this slap was akin to a volleyball smash; he had used his full strength, and the ball shot directly downward, smashing right on Hu Jian’s face whose toes had just barely touched the ground and hadn’t even had the chance to stabilize himself.
Hu Jian slammed backward, landing roughly with his butt on the ground with a thud.
“Foul!” Hu Jian roared after he recovered from his shock, “He just did a hacking foul!”
The referee looked at him and didn’t say a word.
“Foul, my fucking ass.” Wang Xu rushed forward and snatched the ball that had landed on the ground. He then turned around and passed the ball to Guo Xu, who was standing at the midline.
“Sorry about that.” Jiang Cheng walked over and patted his shoulder, then also turned around and ran off.
“Fuck!” Hu Jian continued to angrily shout, “Fuck!”
When Jiang Cheng heard his voice, he hurriedly caught up then turned his head to glance at him. He found that the fellow had been struck so hard that he had a nosebleed and was currently glaring at him with blood smeared all over his mouth.
On the other side, Gu Fei scored another shot. The time left in the game was almost up, and the people from Class 8 were all screaming and jumping as they clapped.
Class 7 wanted to switch people, but were cursed by Hu Jian: “Switch, my fucking ass! I’m not dead yet!”
With a nosebleed that flew everywhere, Hu Jian finished the last half-minute of the game. When the whistle signaling the end of the game sounded, he took the ball and slammed it onto the ground, which then flew toward Jiang Cheng.
This action wasn’t in Jiang Cheng’s line of sight. When he felt the ball approaching, it was already too late to dodge. Just when he thought ‘fuck, I probably really do have an injury-prone physique’, Gu Fei reached out to block it, and slapped the ball away just as it was about to smash his face.
“Fuck,” Wang Xu was furious. He pointed at Hu Jian, “What’s wrong with you? You can’t play basketball, but you sure are a professional at being a thug!”
“What does it have to do with you? Do you really think you’re the boss?” Hu Jian also pointed back at him, and several people from Class 7 had rushed over to surround him – with multiple pairs of eyes spitting fire, they could even start a bonfire party.
“I’m not the boss ah,” Wang Xu countered, “Our boss is Gu Fei. What, you want to look for our boss?”
The people from Class 7 didn’t say a word and collectively glared at Gu Fei.
Gu Fei didn’t even glance at their direction and just turned around and left.
The people in Class 8 were so enthralled with excitement that nobody noticed the daggers being exchanged on the court. They all rushed up and surrounded the members of their team, turning into a screaming mass, and instantly pushed aside the people from Class 7.
“Great job!” Lao Xu was caught in the crowd, trying his best to get closer to them, “Great job! This is exactly the kind of manner you need to have when playing ball! You have all finally learned to have self-control! Great job! I am so touch–”
“Jiang Cheng, that slap was very well covered!” Lao Lu’s voice that had crushed Lao Xu’s to the floor until nothing remained loudly buzzed in Jiang Cheng’s ear. “The skills, the techniques! All covered up that not even a hint of temper could be seen!”
“You must also go teach Class 7, otherwise how would you face them tomorrow?” Guo Xu joked, “So partial ah.”
“They can learn from Class 4 that I brought up before. They even made a collective protest against taking my classes!” Lao Lu scoffed, “This sort of upright and honorable behavior5 is precisely what I like to see! Even in fights, you must be upright and honorable, take a look at last year’s.”
“Lu Laoshi! Lao Lu! You mustn’t fight often!” Lao Xu cut him off and looked at the members of the basketball team, “You guys are my pride! You are all my pride!”
Jiang Cheng struggled to free himself from the crowd. He tugged at his shirt collar and shook it.
“I’m exhausted.” Gu Fei also squeezed himself out, “Class 7’s energy is really shocking.”
“They have a lot of substitutes.” Jiang Cheng glanced at the excited crowd behind him, “What did Lao Lu mean about last year?”
“Last year, he fought with the third years,” Gu Fei explained. “It was extremely exciting. But then he was kicked out by the third year to teach our year instead.”
“He really has a lot of personality ah.” Jiang Cheng sighed with some emotion.
“Wait for me first before you come to school in the morning for the next few days,” Gu Fei said.
“En?” Jiang Cheng glanced at him, then turned to look at Class 7. The people there had already dragged their chairs away in frustration, leaving only a few members of the basketball team standing and still glowering at the people on this side.
“You don’t need to worry about Hu Jian and that bunch, a couple of students can’t cause much trouble,” Gu Fei said. “Jiang Bin is the real problem.”
“Who is Jiang Bin?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“Boar Head.” Gu Fei explained, “He’s Hou Zi’s little cousin.”
“Hou Zi?” Jiang Cheng was taken aback. Only after thinking back for a long time did he come to remember who Hou Zi was, but then he was immediately a little stupefied. “Are all the gangsters you have here part of a family business? How did we drag Hou Zi into this again?”
“Bullshit, it’s not like you’ve gone anywhere else. This area is all part of Hou Zi’s gang’s territory.” Gu Fei snorted.
“Isn’t Hou Zi afraid of you?” Jiang Cheng asked in a low voice.
“He just doesn’t want to mess with me,” Gu Fei stretched. “Doesn’t mean he’s afraid of me.”
“Why?” Jiang Cheng continued to question.
“Because I’m not scared of dying.” Gu Fei shot him a look.
Jiang Cheng gazed at him in silence.
“Go, go, go!” Wang Xu rushed to their side. “Go wash your faces. We’ll be watching Class 2’s game later, and then we’ll have a meal together in the evening. Jing Yi says that we can use the class funds.”
“Eating off of public funds?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“This is a normal expense! How did it become eating off of public funds?! We’ve brought glory to our class!” Wang Xu’s waist was posed incredibly straight, “And the entire class agrees! There are even people representing the class to come accompany us!”
“The more you talk, the more problematic it sounds.” Jiang Cheng couldn’t help but laugh.
“Right? Some girls want to eat with us.” Wang Xu whispered and even glanced over at the girls. “I thought it would be more lively this way, so I agreed.”
“Abuse of authority,”6 Gu Fei commented.
“Fuck,” Wang Xu started growing embarrassed, but thought for a bit then held his neck. “You guys can help if you two have any goals too!”
“Fuck off,” Gu Fei replied.
There was no suspense during Class 2’s game; the opponent was weak and didn’t have Class 7’s underhandedness – it was a one-sided battle the entire time.
“We can’t beat them.” Jiang Cheng remarked as he observed the players from Class 2 from where he stood under the net.
“En,” Gu Fei sounded in agreement.
“The levels of their abilities are too equal, and each of them is tall.” Jiang Cheng used his hands to cover his mouth, not wanting Wang Xu at the side to feel discouraged, “They must normally play basketball together all the time, just look at their cooperation.”
“Since their class lives on campus, they usually play a game when they have nothing better to do,” Gu Fei whispered in reply. “And it’s true that they’d normally get together when they play.”
“How is it?” Wang Xu was recording on his phone beside them, “I recorded some. We’ll be finished with exams when we face them, so we still have some time to study their weaknesses.”
“En.” Jiang Cheng nodded.
“Nobody in their class can be as strong as our Lu Xiaobin,” Wang Xu said. “They’re probably not as tacit as the two of you from what I see.”
“Don’t put your voice in the recording,” Gu Fei interrupted him. “It would be annoying to hear when the time comes to watch it.”
“Fuck! You’re swelling from pride now!” Wang Xu narrowed his eyes at him, “But it’s understandable, I’m also swelling.”
When they finished watching Class 2’s game, Jiang Cheng only felt two things: One was that they couldn’t beat them, and two, their cheerleading team was really amazing.
When they prepared to leave, the captain of Class 2’s team walked over.
“He’s He Zhou,” Gu Fei tilted his head over and whispered in Jiang Cheng’s ear, “Don’t give weird nicknames.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng sounded in response.
When Wang Xu saw that He Zhou was coming over, he immediately went up to greet him, but He Zhou only nodded at him and immediately walked past him until he stopped right in front of Gu Fei.
“See you guys in the next game,” he said.
“En.” Gu Fei smiled, “Will you go easy7 on us?”
“We never go easy.” He Zhou also smiled, “You guys don’t need us to go easy either. I’ve waited for so long, and now I finally have the chance to play against you.”
Gu Fei didn’t reply.
He Zhou turned to look at Jiang Cheng: “You’re Jiang Cheng, right?”
“En.” Jiang Cheng nodded, “Jiang Cheng.”
“I’m He Zhou.” He Zhou smiled, but one could see a hint of provocation in his eyes, “Don’t hold back when the time comes, three-point king.”
After He Zhou left, Wang Xu stared at his silhouette with some dissatisfaction: “That fella is just a smiling tiger.”8
“Learn a bit of the other person’s killing intent,” Gu Fei said. “Captain.”
“Fuck, let’s go eat! Go!” Wang Xu waved his hand, but thought of something and turned back to look at Jiang Cheng, “You even have the title of a ‘three-point king’ now? Not bad ah, I, a captain, don’t even have as much limelight as you, huh?”
“You do.” Jiang Cheng gave him a thumbs up.
“I do, my ass. Say it, if you’re the three-point king, then what am I?” Wang Xu pointed at himself.
“The three-point king’s captain,” Gu Fei and Jiang Cheng replied simultaneously.
Wang Xu glared at the two for a while: “I think you two can win an award for the most tacit deskmates.”
After leaving the school, Jiang Cheng immediately caught sight of Gu Miao, who was sitting on the railing of the parking lot. Her skateboard was placed vertically against the railing with a foot holding it in place while the other swayed.
Jiang Cheng waved at her.
Gu Miao kicked the skateboard to the ground, jumped straight from the railing onto the skateboard, and borrowed the inertia to slide forward.
“Cool,” Jiang Cheng praised.
“Queen Miao Miao is too cool!” Wang Xu applauded.
A group of people started praising her, but Gu Miao didn’t acknowledge a single one of them and continued to circle them with a cold expression.
She really is pretty cool. Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Miao, who worked the skateboard like an extension of her body. It was just that when he thought of the fact that her coolness had stemmed from a psychological or physical problem, he would be hit by a bout of sadness.
“You,” Gu Fei approached him closer and said in a hushed voice, “Quickly get on my bike.”
“What is it?” Jiang Cheng looked around but didn’t see Hou Zi or anybody that looked to be the same type as Hou Zi that they would need to flee from.
“I don’t want to go with any girls,” Gu Fei explained.
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng understood and nodded his head.
Following that, he watched as Gu Fei took the lead and, without even caring for his sister, rushed into the bicycle shed, grabbed his bike, and pedaled forward.
“Catch up, Gu Miao!” Jiang Cheng shouted, then ran for a few steps after Gu Fei’s bike.
Gu Fei also didn’t know how he had become so afraid of the girls in his class, the speed he pedaled at was simply beyond what was humanly possible.
“Fuck! Why don’t you just fly?!” Jiang Cheng had to grab onto his clothes to slow down the bike before he could finally get on.
“We’ll fly after you come up,” Gu Fei replied.
Jiang Cheng had just sat down with some stability when he saw a shadow zoom past him.
Gu Miao had already started flying first. Looking at that speed, Jiang Cheng momentarily wondered if him sitting at the back of Gu Fei’s bike had delayed his takeoff.
They flew behind Gu Miao for half a mile. Jiang Cheng heard his phone ringing, so he took it out and saw that it was Wang Xu.
“Hello?” He answered the phone.
“Those who don’t know would think that you two were fleeing to find a bathroom!” From the sound of it, Wang Xu was pedaling as he yelled, “Going so fast, do you guys even know where we’re eating?!”
“Where are we eating?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“Downtown ah! There’s a shabu-shabu9 place at the square! Da Fei knows it,” Wang Xu replied. “What good place can there be to eat in our area! You know that the only thing you can eat in this area is Wang Er’s Flatbread!”
“Fine, I got it.” Jiang Cheng laughed. He hung up the phone and patted the back of Gu Fei’s shoulder, “Hey, Mr. Pilot.”
“Where to?” Gu Fei turned his head to ask. He then blew a whistle, signaling Gu Miao, who was immersed in the rush, to stop.
“He said it was a shabu-shabu place downtown,” Jiang Cheng answered.
“It must have been reserved by Captain Wang. He loves that place.” Gu Fei made a turn at an intersection.
Gu Miao edged closer to them, bent her waist, then reached a hand out and placed it under Jiang Cheng’s butt.
“Ah!” Jiang Cheng was shocked. He quickly stabilized himself, and then he grabbed at Gu Fei’s waist. “What are you doing?”
Gu Miao calmly grabbed the rack at the back of the bike then glanced at him before staring at the road ahead with a serene expression.
“Your brother is dragging two people. He must be exhausted.” Jiang Cheng remarked with a laugh.
“There’s no weight on her if she does this,” Gu Fei said.
“Just switch with me when you get tired later,” Jiang Cheng suggested.
“I always thought that you didn’t know how to ride a bike.” Gu Fei leaned his head back.
“I just don’t have a bike,” Jiang Cheng replied. He thought for a while and sighed again, “I’m also too lazy to buy one.”
“Pretty incredible, too lazy to buy a bike but isn’t too lazy to walk every day.” Gu Fei snickered, “I’ll take you someday. There’s a place near where we bought the yarn last time.”
“Okay,” Jiang Cheng sounded in agreement.
The two people didn’t speak anymore after that. Jiang Cheng stared at Gu Fei’s back, and Gu Miao was swishing beside him. This feeling was pretty comfortable, adding to that was the leftover excitement and exhaustion from the game as well as the momentary trance that came with the tranquility of being isolated from their surroundings.
But Jiang Cheng had a nagging feeling that there was something off about his posture. It took him a long time before it suddenly hit him that his hand was still resting on Gu Fei’s waist.
This discovery gave him a considerable shock, yet it didn’t make him retract his hand as if he was electrocuted. He didn’t want to be so unreasonable about every little thing.
It was just that the palm that initially hadn’t felt anything before – now that he realized this fact – kept feeling like it could sense Gu Fei’s body temperature even when separated by clothes.
I must be possessed. Jiang Cheng closed his eyes and sighed yet again.
Ice: I am a homebody, a proud couch potato, so I know nothing about sports… the most I know literally comes from my high school PE classes. I literally bullshitted my way through all the basketball terminology hoping that they’d somehow sound somewhat accurate. (￣ー￣；)
Ahahaha… I like that last bicycle scene so much… there’s just something so romantic about it… and it sounded really good in the audio drama (then again, the entire drama sounded good).
Sae: I love them |･д･)ﾉ
1 As happy as a lark (一蹦三尺高) – literal: to happy to control self from jumping; informal: extremely happy; those the saying as happy as a lark is derived from the birdsong of the lark. When you listen to the lark’s birdsong, it sounds very happy, and thus the phrase “happy as a lark.” It connotes a sort of released abandon of happiness, fully embraced and unguarded.
2 To make use of every second (见缝插针) idiom, lit. translation “to stick a needle in when you see a gap”
3 Hacking foul (打手犯规) – In the strictest sense of the word, hacking refers to a foul where a player is struck on the arm while shooting. Such a foul generally leads to a missed shot and free throws for the opponent.
4 Five fouls (五次犯规) – A player who commits five personal fouls over the course of a 40-minute game, or six in a 48-minute game, fouls out and is disqualified for the remainder of the game.
5 Upright and honorable behavior (光明磊落) – idiom meaning to be upright and honest, keep a clear conscience, to be open and aboveboard, do things fair and square, etc.
6 Abuse of authority (假公济私) – idiom meaning “official authority used for private interests”, “to attain private ends by abusing public position”, etc.
7 Go easy (放水) – slang meaning to deliberately lower your capabilities/to have the ability, but not try very hard to do something.
8 Smiling tiger face (笑面虎) – Idiom literally meaning “smiling tiger face” but refers to a person who a person who hides malicious intentions behind a smile, an outwardly kind but inwardly cruel person, a wicked/hypocritical person, etc.
9 Shabu Shabu (涮肉) is one of Japan’s most popular hot pot dishes along with Sukiyaki. The name “shabu shabu” is Japanese onomatopoeic. It came from the sound when you stir the vegetables and meat with your chopsticks and ‘swish swish’ in the hot pot. It’s a fun meal since everyone sits around the hot pot at the table, cooks together, and eats while you chat, like fondue! A communal dining experience that inspires good appetites and brings people closer together. (Sae: I can eat shabu-shabu every day!)