Translate: Sae | Edit: Ice
Jiang Bin was standing at the sidelines with folded arms. Gu Fei and the others were already in the middle of the field, yet Jiang Bin had no intention of going over.
“The fucking bastard is clearly waiting for Jiang Cheng,” Li Fan stated.
Gu Fei turned to look at Jiang Bin, but Jiang Bin stayed rooted in place without a hint of moving.
“Are we gonna play or not?” Gu Fei asked.
Jiang Bin sneered and looked down at the black brass knuckle on his hand. It was only after a long time did he finally raise his head again: “Where’s Jiang Cheng?”
“You can just add his debts to mine.” Gu Fei said. He was well aware that as long as he didn’t see Jiang Cheng, Jiang Bin wouldn’t agree to start so easily. He was originally contemplating on how to solve this problem, but when he spotted the brass knuckle on his hand, he immediately knew that the situation was going to be an easy one to solve.
That brass knuckle belonged to Hou Zi. For Hou Zi to give it to Jiang Bin meant that the matters between the two of them would also have to be settled that day. Hou Zi backing up Jiang Bin was only an excuse. Hou Zi’s target wasn’t Jiang Cheng – it was him.
If that was how it all was, then it was actually much easier to deal with.
“Add it to yours?” Jiang Bin started to laugh, “How come I didn’t know that you took in a lackey?”
“It’s not like you’ve been around Hou Zi for only a day or two,” Gu Fei calmly relayed while fixing his wristband. “How come you haven’t learned even a bit of his self-possession ah?”
“Fucking say that again!” Jiang Bin was suddenly overtaken by a surge of fury. He didn’t even bother keeping his arms folded anymore as he rushed in front of him with only two steps, nearly jabbing his finger in his face.
“There are always going to be wins and losses in a game. If you want to play, then you must know how to admit defeat. Did your cousin not teach you this?” Gu Fei swept a glance at Hou Zi who was looking at them in silence with a cigarette in his mouth. Gu Fei turned his head back to look at Jiang Bin. “You made the first move during the game. He is a student, nevermind fighting back, he never even got to answer back ba? You just have to grab on and refuse to let it go. This doesn’t seem like someone that has followed Hou Zi before ah.”
Jiang Bin was pretty good at fighting and basketball, but when it came to articulating himself, it was a little difficult for him. Plus, there were a multitude of spectators on the stands and not a single one of them could be considered to be a good person. These people, despite whether they were being genuine or not, would still keep the word ‘reasonable’ at the tips of their tongues. This was why when Gu Fei finished speaking, Jiang Bing turned red in the face and froze in place without being able to squeeze out a single word.
Finally, completely infuriated, he looked over at Hou Zi.
“Hurry it up.” Hou Zi said impatiently with the cigarette still in his mouth.
“It’s only going to be you and me today.” Gu Fei stared down at Jiang Bin, “Whoever concedes or doesn’t, let’s settle this in one go.”
Jiang Bin stared at him for a full five seconds before squeezing a word from between the gaps of his teeth: “Fine.”
The game was only to last for half an hour. There would be no timeout nor substitutions in the middle, and aside from someone coming in to toss the jump ball, there were no referee or scoreboard either – the audience in the stands was the scoreboard.
And if a bet happened to take place, then the score would be kept even more meticulously than an actual scoreboard.
Liu Fan and Qian Kai came up for the jump ball. Both of them kept their eyes glued on the ball and the spectators of the game… or rather the spectators of the fight, all fell silent.
The person who was responsible for tossing the ball threw it in the air and immediately ran off the court as if his life was on the line.
In this sort of game, each and every person had ‘something’ on them. If he didn’t leave the court before the game started, he could’ve been accidentally injured by someone.
Although the actual purpose of this game had nothing to do with basketball, Liu Fan was the only one among the few of them to have ever gone to the police station. Just after the Lunar New Year, he had stayed there for a week, but he was also the one on their side that loved playing basketball the most. Thus, it was not surprising that Liu Fan’s hand would shoot straight toward the ball.
However, Qian Kai’s wasn’t. His sole target was Liu Fan’s arm.
The second Liu Fan’s hand slapped the ball toward Gu Fei, Qian Kai’s hand followed Liu Fan’s before he slashed down from his wrist all the way to his forearm.
At the same time as when Gu Fei caught the ball, he saw the line of blood running down Liu Fan’s arm.
He gripped the ball and turned around before he started dribbling it toward the basket on the other side of the court.
The sound of footsteps rang out from behind him – someone was quickly charging over. Gu Fei advanced another two more steps with the ball before suddenly darting to the side. He then leaped up and made a shot for the basket.
Out of the corner of his eyes, he caught sight of Jiang Bin rushing in from his right and swiping at his side with his left hand.
Gu Fei only felt something scraping roughly right below the right side of his ribs, but he didn’t sense any pain when he landed on the ground. He stared at the rim of the basket; it was only after he watched the ball sink in that he finally allowed himself to glance down and check his own situation.
A cut had ripped apart his T-shirt and when he lifted it, he saw the crude mark made by the brass knuckle on his waist. The moment he looked down to check on it was when the blood finally started to slowly seep out from the uneven wound.
He grabbed at his shirt and carelessly pressed it against the wound. It was a shallow cut, and aside from it looking quite ghastly, it didn’t affect him in the least.
Jiang Bin served the ball to which he passed to Qian Kai. Gu Fei originally wanted to intercept but upon seeing that Liu Fan had already gone over, he instead made a beeline toward the midline to prepare for defense.
The wound on Liu Fan’s arm was bloody, but it didn’t seem to be too deep either. Before Gu Fei had a chance to take his eyes off of Liu Fan’s arm, he heard Li Yan’s voice from outside of the court. “Da Fei, behind you!”
Without turning around, he directly bent down at his waist and somebody’s fist swung by from above him.
It was only the first ball and it had already become like this… Gu Fei felt that even if they took the beating and didn’t retaliate during this game, for them to be able to persevere through five minutes of this match was a miracle in and of itself.
And it wasn’t as if they hadn’t struck back either. Over on the other side, Li Fan employed the same method that Qian Kai had used earlier as he intercepted the ball – he stuck his wristband that had something secretly concealed in it by Qian Kai’s arm and swiped down.
Gu Fei couldn’t clearly see the situation from this angle, but from how the muscles on Qian Kai’s face spasmed, it probably wasn’t a light swipe.
It was impossible for this match to last for a whole half an hour, let alone five whole minutes. Gu Fei straightened himself up.
He wasn’t too familiar with the guy that had swung his fist at him from behind. He neither knew his name or nickname, thus he could only learn from Jiang Cheng and came up with a name for this guy, ‘Little Swinger’.
Little Swinger’s fist was directed toward the back of his head. If he hadn’t evaded, he would definitely be lying on the ground at the moment and whether he would be able to immediately get back up again wasn’t even a certainty.
This group of people was evidently more vicious than even Hou Zi’s own men. Hou Zi at least somewhat abided by the Jianghu1 code; even if it was only in appearances, he still wanted to save some face. But these guys were on a whole different level. With these people around, even walking required one to be extra careful in case one accidentally steps and trips over someone’s pride.
Little Swinger’s fist came up empty. Then without even a hint of hesitation, he pulled his hand back and aimed yet another swing at Gu Fei’s face.
Gu Fei spotted a steel conical broach in his hand. The thing itself wasn’t that particularly sharp and had a round blunt head, but if one was smashed by it… Gu Fei raised his left hand to make a block with his forearm and, using it as a pivot to press against Little Swinger’s elbow, he used his right hand to firmly grip Little Swinger’s wrist and harshly snapped it back.
Little Swinger froze for two seconds before he let out a blood-curdling screech. Gu Fei then shoved him to the side and caught the ball that Luo Yu had just passed over to him.
After rushing the ball past two more people, Jiang Bin obstructed the path ahead of him. Gu Fei came to an abrupt stop and prepared to make a three-point shot.
At the same time as when the ball flew out of his hand, Jiang Bin charged in front of him and forcefully brought his hand down on him. The brass knuckle first landed on his shoulder before suddenly sliding down into a slash with the momentum.
A deafening series of whistles and applause burst from the stands. For a three-point shot to be successful even under such circumstances, even Gu Fei admired himself a bit.
But the match could no longer proceed. Jiang Bin was completely unable to keep himself composed and was even more disinclined to pretend. If it was to continue like this, even if they manage to earn a higher score, not many of them would be able to remain standing by the end of it all.
Moreover, even if Jiang Bin and his gang, that were the type of people to blatantly ignore what was evidently a fight under the guise of a ball game, they managed to win by scoring more points under said circumstances… this matter would still be far from over.
The only way.
The only way.
Gu Fei suddenly felt a bit deplorable – the only way was learned from that father of his.
That was to make your opponent never dare touch you again in one shot.
Whether it was his mother’s unreliable suitors, the Hou Zi of the past, or that Little Swinger from just then… whether or not he had done it intentionally, his father’s way of doing things that had terrified him to the point of nightmares since he was young had already been unwittingly written in his blood…
When the brass knuckle in Jiang Bin’s hand swept toward him for a third time, Gu Fei raised his arm, and twisting back his shoulders and hips, he landed a harsh slap across the left side of Jiang Bin’s face.
It wasn’t the usual sharp and crisp sound of a slap, instead, it was a dull yet loud sound.
That ruthless strike sent Jiang Bin spinning from where he stood before he fell to the concrete ground. Even the sound of his head hitting the ground wasn’t as loud as the slap that landed on his face.
All the people on the court froze and there was a brief silence from the audience in the stands.
Jiang Bin lied plastered to the ground and it was only after several seconds that he began to struggle to get up again. But after just two attempts, with each time resulting in him collapsing again, he could only use his hands to push himself slightly off the ground and begin to vomit in the end.
“Fucking hell—” The dozens of spectators on the stands watching the show started to shout, their whistles and screams mixed together, showing their utter excitement.
For them, it didn’t matter who lost or won, and it didn’t matter who it was that got beaten down either. As long as someone fell, got injured, or couldn’t get up, they would be thrilled.
Everyone on the court gathered around. Qian Kai went over, intending to help Jiang Bin up only to have Gu Fei glance up at him: “Is it you?”
“… what?” Qian Kai froze.
“The next one,” Gu Fei looked at him and spoke with a low voice, “Is it you?”
Qian Kai made no sound in response and stayed frozen in place, not daring to directly go and assist him.
“We’ll stop the match then.” Gu Fei turned his head to slowly stare at the people around him. “Let’s just resolve this directly. Who else is there? Let’s get it over with already.”
The situation sank into an awkward stalemate. A single slap from Gu Fei, who had nothing else in his hand, was enough to render Jiang Bin incapable of getting up again, leaving him to continue vomiting himself into unconsciousness as he sprawled on the ground. There was also the other guy who was cradling his arm that hurt so much he didn’t even dare touch it – it was most likely broken. Not a single person dared to go up and face off against him anymore.
But this was a ‘one go to settle it all ball game’ after all. If they really were to not make a move now, it would mean that they would never be able to make a move on him in the future…
“Help him up.” Hou Zi’s voice sounded from behind, breaking the stalemate.
At this, a few people finally came over and hauled Jiang Bin up. Jiang Bing was a little unsteady on his feet and looked to be disoriented – he was only able to stop swaying when two people supported him from either side.
Hou Zi shot Gu Fei a glare and then walked over to Jiang Bin. “How are you?”
“Can’t hear too well.” Jiang Bin coughed a couple of times, “Ears are ringing.”
“Take him to the hospital.” Hou Zi frowned, “And wipe your mouth.”
The handful of people prepared to leave with Jiang Bin but as they passed by Gu Fei, Jiang Bin struggled a little and stared at Gu Fei intently.
Tinnitus was a given to occur. Perhaps, it was even more severe than tinnitus, but Gu Fei wasn’t concerned about anything at the moment. Unlike Jiang Cheng, who was worried if a person who fell outside in the snow would freeze to death, he wouldn’t linger in fear.
Gu Fei leaned in close to Jiang Bin’s right ear and clearly articulated every word: “Take it that this is done and over with today. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to stir up trouble. As long as you don’t provoke problems for me, I would never go after anyone.”
Jiang Bin was silent, though it wasn’t clear if he had fully heard those words as he stared at Gu Fei for another moment before walking away.
As soon as Jiang Bin’s people withdrew, the only ones that were left on the court were Hou Zi, Gu Fei, and the rest of his team. However, even with just them, the spectators’ interest did not diminish in the slightest. Although no one dared to surround them, they all stood nearby, waiting with bated breath for the possibility of a second match.
Wasting their own time and surrounding others only for a chance to catch sight of another’s blood, even though they were all spectators, these people simply disgusted Gu Fei.
“Still so ruthless of you ah. You’ve always settled things with one move.” Hou Zi looked at Gu Fei, “It’s been almost two years and yet you still haven’t lost even a bit of power.”
Gu Fei didn’t say anything.
Truth be told, he wasn’t completely unafraid of Hou Zi like he was to Jiang Bin. Hou Zi was older than him by quite a few years and had started prowling around the streets before he had even finished middle school. He was different from those who only mixed in the circle for a few years before getting a job or returning to a civilian lifestyle. Hou Zi was the type of person who had purposely stepped foot into the darkness with no intention of backing out.
“And here I thought that being in a normal high school would teach you to be less temperamental than a reformatory school.” Hou Zi sneered, “You know, I originally wasn’t going to meddle with yours and Jiang Bin’s affairs. After all, I did say that he should resolve things himself and that whether he wants to or not, he has to concede to the outcome. But it’s a different case now. Since you decided to take this on for Jiang Cheng, it’s only fair if I take this on for Jiang Bin.”
Gu Fei still didn’t utter a word.
“Frankly, I don’t want to do this either ah.” Hou Zi stretched his waist and lit a cigarette, “But think about it, we can settle the issue between us at the same time, otherwise, I don’t think I’ll ever be at peace.”
“I have a match the day after tomorrow,” Gu Fei said. “After the match.”
Hou Zi was also a person that held grudges and the issue with Jiang Cheng was just an excuse. Back when he came to collect protection fees, Gu Fei had damaged his bladder with a single kick. Although more than a year had gone by since then, let alone someone that bore grudges, even if he wasn’t the type to hold a grudge, this matter was not one that he could easily let go of.
There definitely needed to be an excuse if one wanted to seek revenge after such a long time, and now one finally appeared, but Hou Zi knew that he wasn’t a threat in a one-on-one fight. Surrounded by a mass of people adding onto the fact that he had violated Hou Zi’s “principals”, Gu Fei could only decide a time. What method to use was up to Hou Zi to decide.
“A school match?” Hou Zi asked.
“En,” Gu Fei sounded in response.
Hou Zi had a dumbfounded expression. The exaggerated expression made it clear at a glance that he and Jiang Bin were relatives. It was only after a long time that Gu Fei finally let out a laugh: “There’s been some changes after all. Si Zhong is a good place ah, Gu Fei is even attending a school match.”
Gu Fei was too lazy to respond to him, so he remained silent.
“That’s fine, I’ve always been easy to talk to.” Hou Zi held a cigarette as he used a finger to jab at his chest a few times, “The night after tomorrow at 8:00 o’clock at the old building by the railway bridge. Let’s play something fair.”
Gu Fei shot him a look and Liu Fan who stood at the side took a step forward, seemingly agitated. He stretched out his arm to block him: “Alright.”
“Hurdling,” Hou Zi said. “Everyone is responsible for the consequences of their own actions.”
“Fine,” Gu Fei agreed.
“Fuck!” Liu Fan smacked the steering wheel as soon as he got in the car, “Why the hell did you agree to hurdling? Can’t you beat the shit out of him?”
“This has to be settled eventually,” Ge Fei responded.
“Settle it with a fucking fight ah! The fuck you hurdling for?!” Luo Yu roared from the back.
“Do you actually think that he’d possibly agree to a fight?” Gu Fei turned back to look at Luo Yu, “If he wanted to settle things with just a fight, then he would have done so a long time ago. Would he have needed to wait this long?”
“Then let him continue to wait ah!” Liu Fan yelled, “He doesn’t have the balls to mess with you, so what difference does it make if you ignored him…”
“What if he has a hidden agenda?” Gu Fei interrupted him, “What if he looks for someone else? What if he messes with Gu Miao?”
Everybody in the car all fell silent.
“Plus, I’m tired of it all.” Gu Fei twisted his brows as he tugged at his clothes. The clothes coagulated with blood suddenly ripped open, and he almost cried out, “Even if I’m stuck here for my entire life, I still want to feel some sort of stability as I stay here. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in a struggle for life all the time.”
“Let’s not talk about him anymore,” Li Yan spoke up. “He’s already agreed to it, so saying any of this right now is pointless. If this problem can be resolved, then just resolve it ba. It’s not like you could die. You’ll just end up staying in the hospital for a few months at worst…”
“Who said it’s impossible to die?! Haven’t you seen the news?! Two days ago somebody died from tripping and falling flat on their face!” Liu Fan stared straight into Li Yan’s eyes.
“Fuck! I’ll spit on your whole family!” Li Yan grew anxious and glared back at him, “Hurry up and spit! Idiot!”
Liu Fan paused for a quite some time before he finally slapped the steering wheel: “Pei, pei, pei.”
Gu Fei tilted his head to look out the window and laughed for some time: “Idiots.”
As Jiang Cheng stood inside Gu Fei’s family shop and watched Gu Fei’s mother, who was nibbling on melon seeds behind the checkout counter, he felt both standing and walking would be awkward.
“Sit down bei,2” Gu Fei’s mother said. “He’s usually always back at the shop around mealtimes.”
“I…” Jiang Cheng didn’t want to sit down at all. He pointed at the door, intending to say, ‘I’ll go take a walk outside.’
But before he could even utter those words, Gu Fei’s mother glanced at the clock on the side and waved her hands at him: “Aiyo, I wasn’t paying attention to the time. I have to go out now. Good thing you’re here. I don’t need to lock the shop then. Keep an eye on the place ba.”
“Huh?” Jiang Cheng froze.
“Just help check people out. Li Yan does it all day long ne,” Gu Fei’s mother said while putting on her coat. “Don’t tell me you don’t even know to check people out?”
Jiang Cheng wanted to say that he really didn’t know how, but before he could open his mouth, Gu Fei’s mother had already dashed out of the shop like a gust of wind. He stood stunned in place inside the shop for a long while, his mind in a chaotic mess, before finally sitting down behind the checkout counter after some time.
Whatever Gu Fei was doing that took an entire afternoon, he didn’t know. But he knew for sure that it definitely had nothing to do with Gu Miao. He had asked when he came by and Gu Miao was at home drawing ne.
He was almost certain that Gu Fei had gone to the zoo.
But where was such a place where both basketball could be played and fights could break out – no one knew. The only person in the class who he could ask was Wang Xu but Wang Xu didn’t know, and if he didn’t know, then it was even more impossible for anyone else to know. Aside from the students in the class, Ding Zhuxin was the only other person that he could inquire, but Ding Zhuxin didn’t give him an answer.
“What he refuses to tell you, I can’t tell you even if I know it.” Ding Zhuxin very warmly replied yet didn’t give him a chance to further question in detail.
Jiang Cheng took out his phone and just like that, he sat behind the checkout counter in a daze, unable to pinpoint exactly how he was feeling.
Anxiety, he had already felt. Fury, he had also already felt. The only thing that remained of the anger that persistently burned till now was depression – the sort of depression that wouldn’t dissolve if he didn’t beat the shit out of Gu Fei.
After being stuck in a daze for almost twenty minutes, he heard the sound of a car outside the shop and walked over to stand in front of the wind curtain, taking a look outside.
A Benni that looked as though it would fall apart if it moved another ten meters stopped at the door. The windows were closed, and the people inside couldn’t be seen, but after the car stopped, Gu Fei got out of the passenger seat.
Jiang Cheng was initially still wondering if maybe Gu Fei really did have something else to do and it was him who might have thought too much, but when he saw the bloodstain on the collar of Gu Fei’s shirt, who was making his way over here, his anger sharply rose. It was as if there was a welding torch in his body that was burning through his skull, turning him into a human torch.
Gu Fei probably didn’t expect for there to be people standing behind the wind curtain so the second he lifted it and walked in, he directly collided into Jiang Cheng’s body.
“Ay!” Gu Fei was startled, but just as he thought of stepping back, he was grabbed by Jiang Cheng on the collar of his jacket.
“What were you doing?” Jiang Cheng grabbed his collar and dragged him into the shop before pressing him against the wall next to him. “Tell me, what the fuck did you go to do?!”
“Why are you here?” Gu Fei had a dumbstruck expression.
“I asked what you went to do!” Jiang Cheng roared.
Gu Fei grabbed his wrist and tried to pull it away but didn’t succeed. He could only give up and sighed.
“How about I give you five seconds to make up a story ah!” Jiang Cheng’s gaze bored into him.
“I can’t make it up even if you give me another ten seconds,” Gu Fei said. “It’s too sudden.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t speak. After staring at him for a while, he suddenly loosened his hand, turned around, lifted the curtain, and walked out of the shop.
Gu Fei frowned and knocked his head against the wall. After a two-second pause, he chased after him: “Jiang Cheng!”
Jiang Cheng was walking back in the direction of his rental place with swinging arms. He didn’t look back nor did his steps show any sign of slowing down.
“Cheng-ge,” Gu Fei chased after and grabbed his arm, “Cheng-ge…”
“Cheng-ge, my ass!” Jiang Cheng swung his arm off and turned to glare at him, “I don’t have a son like you!”
“I said Ge,” Gu Fei said.
Jiang Cheng was stunned, but anyone could see that his anger was quickly rekindling. He pointed a finger at Gu Fei: “It’s fucking useless even if you call me Grandpa!”
Gu Fei hesitated for a moment before grabbing his arm once more and, with a turn of his head, he dragged him back in the shop.
“The fuck?” Jiang Cheng was dumbstruck. He firmly swung his arm a couple of times but was unable to shake off his hands. Just as he was thinking of putting in more effort, he caught sight of the bloodstain on Gu Fei’s collar again and clenched his teeth because of him for the third time that day.
In that moment of hesitation, Gu Fei successfully dragged him back inside the shop.
“Let’s talk,” Gu Fei said.
“Talk about what?” Jiang Cheng suddenly felt like all his strength had scattered the moment Gu Fei released his arm. The anger within him also suddenly stopped surging. He leaned back against the wall, “Talk about how you deceived me?”
“En,” Gu Fei nodded.
Jiang Cheng looked at him. In addition to the bloodstain on his collar, there was also a bloodstain slightly above his waist. “First, take care of your injuries ba. This garish appearance of yours… those who don’t know would think that somebody flogged you.”
The author has something to say: Resting tomorrow, see you all on Monday yo \^o^/。
“It’s 2017~ ⊙▽⊙, next year we will continue to ‘run freely, my little goldfishes ⊙▽⊙.” The author happily said as she placed the black cashmere mats down and knelt on them.
“Happy New Year ah! o(≧口≦)o” The black furry spirit shouted excitedly.
“Ji & (ˉ^ˉ)& .” The tiny black furry spirit chirped.
“w(゜Д゜)w ying.” The small furry spirit cried.
“……。” The fourth and fifth black furry spirits looked at you all.
The translators have something to say:
Sae: I love you Sushant! (╥ω╥)
I’ve watched Bollywood films since I was a child and had come to like many actors, but Sushant was just amazing to me and for him to be gone, I cried endlessly. Please rest in peace, you are forever missed and loved. ♡♡
Arijit Singh : Lambiyaan Si Judaiyaan
Ice: DAMN GU FEI GAVE A LITERAL BITCH SLAP.
1 Jianghu – The Chinese word jianghu (江湖) literally translates to “rivers and lakes” but it means so much more. Jianghu is the name of the brotherhood of outsiders that existed in old China. It is the counterculture society of workers who made their living with the skill of their own two hands: craftsmen, beggars, thieves, street performers, fortune tellers, wandering healers, and many martial artists. In ancient China, where education was valued over physical ability, this was the lowest rank of social order. Mainstream society belonged to the Confucian scholar-officials. Its underbelly was the jianghu. The jianghu has inspired countless numbers of novels and movies. Jianghu tradition still influences martial arts to this day.
2 Bei (呗) modal particle indicating lack of enthusiasm / modal particle indicating that things should only or can only be done a certain way