Translate: Sae | Edit: Ice
Gu Fei didn’t appear very different from normal, so he didn’t think that he was seriously injured. But when he took off his jacket, Jiang Cheng ended up frowning when he caught sight of the t-shirt that was torn on the right side of his waist.
“Was this from the game?” He asked.
“En.” Gu Fei tossed his jacket to the side and glanced at him, “You haven’t eaten yet, right?”
“I don’t have any appetite,” Jiang Cheng replied.
“I’m a little hungry though.” Gu Fei took out his phone, “I’ll order two bowls of rice, so how about you just try to eat some?”
Jiang Cheng didn’t respond.
“Stir-fried green pepper and beef,” Gu Fei read off his phone. “What do you want to order? There’s braised beef with potatoes, stir-fried tomato and scrambled eggs, braised eggplant…”
“Stir-fried tomato and scrambled eggs.” Jiang Cheng sighed.
After Gu Fei ordered the takeaway, he took out a first-aid kit from the small cabinet next to him. He snuck a glance at Jiang Cheng and hesitated for a few seconds before he raised his arms and stripped himself of his t-shirt.
“Oh shit.” Jiang Cheng was given a fright when he saw the two large gashes on his shoulder and waist, “Why didn’t you just let them beat you to death ah.”
“Who can beat me to death?” Gu Fei laughed as he went inside the small room.
“… do you need some help?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“Thanks,” Gu Fei said.
“Does thanks fucking mean that you need it or not ah?” Jiang Cheng retorted as he stood up.
“Need.” Gu Fei turned his head back to look at him.
There were only two wounds on his body and it actually wasn’t too bad. Jiang Cheng entered the small room and made his way closer to inspect the wounds more carefully. He noticed that the edges of the wounds were very irregular, meaning that the tool that caused the wounds was a really blunt one, so the gashes were basically made by tearing his skin open – it felt painful just imagining it.
He opened the first-aid kit and took out the alcohol. After mulling over it for some time, he finally asked, “Was it Hou Zi? That… brass knuckle of his?”
“Damn.” Gu Fei gawked at him, a little surprised, “You can even tell this? A xueba also has this sort of affiliative ability… it wasn’t Hou Zi, but Jiang Bin.”
“I just guessed.” Jiang Cheng held a sterilized cotton ball in one hand and the bottle of alcohol in the other. He stared at Gu Fei’s wound as he contemplated on how to go about cleaning up such a large wound. Dabbing it with an alcohol-dipped cotton… would take forever for a gash as long as this. Plus, just attempting a couple of postures was already tiring. “How about we go next door to take care of it?”
“I refuse. The moment it’s the afternoon or evening, there would be a bunch of uncles and aunts getting amino acid drips next door. It’s basically a gossip story newsroom at this time. If I were to go there now, everyone around here would know that I’ve been hacked and even practically hacked to death.” Gu Fei groaned, “The wound isn’t even that serious. Just casually disinfect it, stick on a gauze, and it’ll be fine.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng sounded in response.
“Just…” Before Gu Fei could finish speaking, Jiang Cheng had already raised his hand and poured the alcohol on the wound on his shoulder. He froze for two seconds before he gave a sharp inhale, “What the fuck?”
“I should get a bottle of saline solution… must hurt a lot, huh?” Jiang Cheng looked at him.
“What do you think?” Gu Fei’s eyebrows were twisted into a knot.
“The pain from the alcohol will pass very soon.” Jiang Cheng blew at his wound a couple of times, “I just wanted to give it a good rinse.”
“… oh.” Gu Fei peered at the wound, “You’ve finished rinsing now, right?”
“En.” Jiang Cheng rummaged through the first-aid kit again and fished out a bottle of medical iodine, “It should be fine after we use this to disinfect it one more time.”
“Are you going to pour that on as well?” Gu Fei asked.
“Of course,” Jiang Cheng nodded. “It’s such a large wound. Just how long do you think it’ll take if we slowly dab it with a cotton ball ah.”
“You’re pretty damn carefree.” Gu Fei growled.
“You went seeking for death, yet you still want to lie comfortably in bed. If you have the ability, then don’t get hurt ah.” Jiang Cheng then proceeded to also pour the iodine on after he finished speaking, then used the cotton ball to dab at it.
“To tell you the truth… it’s not that I didn’t want to take you with me.” Gu Fei leaned against the wall and raised his arm to let him treat the wound on his waist. “It’s mainly that… this matter… has nothing to do with you.”
“En.” Jiang Cheng knew what Gu Fei meant and it was also something that he could guess. Jiang Bin was looking for someone to vent his anger on after losing the ballgame, however, the one backing him up was Hou Zi who didn’t see eye-to-eye with Gu Fei. “But I’m just the fuse. If you didn’t insist on shouldering this matter for me, Hou Zi might have not been able to cause you trouble.”
Gu Fei kept silent. Since he had bumped into Jiang Cheng the moment he came back, let alone making up an excuse, he didn’t even have the chance to go over what had just happened.
But he was all verklempt because of Jiang Cheng. Just like this, Jiang Cheng was able to quickly figure out the truth of the matter based only on that small amount of information – he was truly deserving of being called a xueba. With such a meticulous mind for logic, he might as well study the sciences.
“You being like this makes me feel shameless.” Jiang Cheng took the bottle of alcohol and dumped it on his waist. “I…”
“Ai!” Gu Fei couldn’t hold back a yell, “Can’t you give a warning first before you just dump it on?!”
“I can.” Jiang Cheng shot him a glance, “Yo~ I’m about to dump it on for the second time now.”
“You…” Gu Fei’s words were cut short when Jiang Cheng dumped the alcohol on the wound once more. He took a deep breath, “You’re retaliating, aren’t you?”
“All set.” Jiang Cheng used the cotton to give a couple dabs, “I got prescribed two bottles of tissue adhesive or something when I went to the hospital last time. I’ll give you one tomorrow, you’ll heal faster if you use that.”
“… en,” Gu Fei sounded in response.
Even though Jiang Cheng never touched him during the whole process, just the slightly painful touch brought by the cotton on the wound was enough to make that side of his body a little numb and weak. But once the alcohol settled, whatever unsavory ideas he had were instantly expelled from his mind – he was now pure of heart and limited in his desires.1
After gauze was properly placed over the wound, the person delivering the food arrived. Jiang Cheng went to bring in the two sets of rice with meat and vegetables while Gu Fei set up a small table and sat down.
It was only then that he could finally feel all the tension that had accumulated in the afternoon slowly subside.
“This restaurant,” Jiang Cheng opened his container of food and gave it a long, hard stare. “Will definitely close this year.”
“Huh?” Gu Fei opened his own share and looked at it – it smelled pretty good.
“Every time I see this type of stir-fried tomato and scrambled egg with tomatoes that are cut bigger than a face and an egg that was split into eight portions when scrambled,” Jiang Cheng said. “I would always say this same sentence.”
Gu Fei stared at the stir-fried tomato and scrambled eggs in his container for a while before bursting into a laughing fit that he couldn’t hold back. Only after a long time did he finally manage to stop himself. He then pushed his portion of stir-fried green pepper and beef over: “Wanna switch?”
“There’s no need.” Jiang Cheng took a look at his container, “Just based on this stir-fried green pepper and beef made from a green pepper that’s only sliced once and a piece of beef that has been split eighty times, this restaurant will close down this year.”
Gu Fei laughed as he ate. Jiang Cheng didn’t say anymore after that, just lowered his head and began to eat with a gloomy expression.
After eating in silence for several minutes, Gu Fei lifted his head and put down his chopsticks: “Sorry, I didn’t mean to lie to you.”
Jiang Cheng remained silent. He stared at the piece of tomato between his chopsticks and after a while, he finally put it in his mouth: “Has the matter been settled?”
Gu Fei hesitated for a moment: “I arranged a time with Hou Zi the day after tomorrow. When our match is over.”
Jiang Cheng looked up at him.
“It really is a matter just between Hou Zi and I this time,” Gu Fei said. “It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re the one to start the fire, it was always going to explode. I might as well settle both problems at once.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t respond and simply lowered his head, continuing to eat.
The food was utterly unpalatable; the tomato juice sauteed out, the eggs were too sparse, and the rice was too mushy. His chopsticks came to a halt after he had only eaten half of it.
“If you can’t eat it anymore then put it on the stand in the backyard.” Gu Fei on the other hand downed it very quickly; one could already see the bottom of his container. “Some stray cats will come by to eat ‘em.”
“Oh.” Jiang Cheng got up and took the half-full container of food to the backyard then set it on the stand. He stood there and waited a bit, but no cats came into his line of sight, so he went back into the shop. “I didn’t see any cats.”
“The one that usually comes by is pretty timid so if someone’s there, it won’t come out.” Gu Fei threw away the empty container, put away the table, and lit a cigarette as he leaned against the checkout counter.
Jiang Cheng sat on the chair and took out his phone, swiping back and forth on it aimlessly.
“I know you’re upset that I didn’t call you along today.” Gu Fei held the cigarette in his mouth and stared down at his shoes. “If it was only Jiang Bin, I would’ve brought you along. But Hou Zi was there… so I thought ‘nevermind’.”
Jiang Cheng glanced at him.
“There are some things that are best avoided if you can, and best not to take part in if you don’t have to.” Gu Fei let out a puff of smoke, “It’s too troublesome.”
“En,” Jiang Cheng sounded.
“That day, you asked me why I didn’t go to a technical high school or something.” Gu Fei looked at him, “Wanna hear about it?”
“Alright.” Jiang Cheng nodded.
Gu Fei went to close the door of the shop and pulled down the shutters. He then grabbed a chair and sat opposite of him.
“In the past, I was kind of…” Gu Fei fell silent for a while before finally continuing, “In elementary school, I used to always… get into fights. Even now, my elementary school classmates would still take detours when they see me on the street.”
“School tyrant ah.” Jiang Cheng gazed at him.
“Anyway, basically… I was beaten by my dad at home, and so I beat others when I went out.” Gu Fei gave a bitter laugh, “I didn’t like to talk much at that time, so I would always use my fists for every little thing. If I injured someone and they came to our door for compensation, my dad would beat the shit out of me again.”
Jiang Cheng softly sighed.
“During First Year, I pushed my deskmate out of the second-floor classroom window.” Gu Fei stretched his long legs and directed his gaze at the tips of his feet. “Actually, my dad had also thrown me out the window before, but I didn’t sustain many injuries…”
Jiang Cheng stared at him in surprise but said nothing.
“But that kid was injured pretty seriously. His arms, legs, and ribs were all broken. The school went to look for my mother… my dad had just died at the time,” Gu Fei said in a low voice. “The school had already thought that it wasn’t suitable for me to remain in a regular junior high school due to my circumstances, and with the addition of that matter, they suggested that I go to a reformatory school2.”
“What kind of school is a reformatory school?” Jiang Cheng asked, but seeing that Gu Fei seemed a bit out of sorts, he lowered his head and checked on his phone instead.
Reformatory school – a special educational school established by the People’s Republic of China for minors who had committed minor violations of the law or other criminal activities and does not fall within the scope of administrative sanctions or penalties.
“What the fuck?” Jiang Cheng froze.
“Many of those places have been shut down already.” Gu Fei lightly swayed his foot, “The one that I had gone to was also changed to a technical school later on. There weren’t that many students when I was there.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng muttered, not knowing what else to say.
“In fact, the Principal had also recommended my mother to take me to see a psychiatrist at the time since. They thought that I had serious violent tendencies or something.” Gu Fei threw the cigarette butt on the ground and put it out with a step of his shoes. He then felt for another cigarette and lit it. “But my mom refused. With Er Miao the way she is, she couldn’t bear to hear anyone say that I also had a problem… so I went to the reformatory school.”
“Were all the students that went there like you?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“Someone like me could already be considered a good kid there.” Gu Fei smirked, “Having stayed with those reform-school students, I finally knew what it meant to be beyond redemption. You can’t even imagine what it was like… they were only teenagers, how bad could they be? I was only there for a year and a half, but I never want to have any contact with them again for the rest of my life.”
“Give me… a cigarette,” Jiang Cheng requested.
“You ran out again?” Gu Fei fished out the cigarette box, “Just directly take some from the counter next time you run out.”
“I just happen to not have any, that’s all.” Jiang Cheng took out a cigarette and lit it. His head felt a bit muddled.
In fact, he could pretty much already imagine what kind of past Gu Fei had from looking at his usual demeanor, but he didn’t expect it to be that serious. Just the matter of him “killing” his father took him a long time to digest, and now he felt like his firmware had been replaced for the second time – his head was buzzing.
“I seemed to have digressed,” Gu Fei murmured.
“Ah.” Jiang Cheng looked at him but still hadn’t returned to his senses.
Being thrown down from the second floor by his own father was something he had a hard time accepting and throwing his deskmate out of the second-floor window was something he was equally shocked by.
“A classroom on the second is higher than the second floor of a residential building ah,” He uttered.
“Huh?” Gu Fei was stunned. Only after a long time did he finally realize what he was talking about. He then suddenly tilted his head back and started to laugh, “Cheng-ge, I find that your ability to grasp the main idea is quite strong ah.”
“Haha, very funny.” Jiang Cheng had kept the cigarette between his fingers after lighting it, and it was only then did he remember to take a drag. “You digressed? What was the previous topic?”
“In the second half of the Third Year of junior high, the school was converted to a technical high school. After we graduated, everyone basically remained there and attended the ‘technical’ high school,” Gu Fei continued, “But I still wanted to go to a regular high school. I really didn’t want to stay with them anymore. I never want to cross paths with them ever again in this lifetime.”
“So you tested into Si Zhong?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“En.” Gu Fei nodded, “Si Zhong is a lousy school, it’s considerably easy to get in.”
Jiang Cheng went silent. After taking two drags of the cigarette, he gave a long sigh. He suddenly didn’t know what else he could say.
“Cheng-ge.” Gu Fei got up and took out a bottle of beer from the freezer. He opened it with his teeth and took a couple of sips. “You’re different from the people here. You have no idea how troublesome things can be if these people are provoked.”
Jiang Cheng looked at him.
“If you fight and lose, someone will think that you’re easy to bully. But if you win, someone will think of you as an eyesore. They’ll always cling to you no matter what you do.” Gu Fei said, “These people, it’s better to stay as far as possible from them. Do you understand what I mean?”
“…en.” Jiang Cheng closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and slowly exhaled.
“You’re not Wang Xu, or Jiang Bin, and you’re definitely not Hou Zi. You’re an outstanding student,” Gu Fei stated, “Attend your classes, learn what you need to learn, and then take your exams. Go to the school that you want to go to. Don’t let yourself get involved in these things.”
Jiang Cheng silently snubbed out his cigarette. He rubbed his hands on his face a few times and leaned back against the chair.
“The reason why I didn’t let you go isn’t because I wanted to shoulder something for you,” Gu Fei said. “I was just afraid that you’d be stuck here. I wouldn’t give a damn if it was anyone else because no one has ever said to me ‘I won’t let myself rot here’ before. You’re the only person to have said this, and since you’ve said it, you have to achieve it. Don’t think that I’ve helped you with anything and don’t talk to me about loyalty or something either.”
Jiang Cheng still didn’t speak but he abruptly stood up, walked up to Gu Fei, and caressed his head.
“… if it was someone else who touched my head like this, I would beat the crap out of them.” Gu Fei raised his head to shoot him a look.
Jiang Cheng touched his head a couple times again.
“Shit.” Gu Fei started to laugh.
Jiang Cheng moved a hand to the back of his head and hugged it.
“What are you doing?” Gu Fei’s face was practically buried against his stomach, so he could only ask with a stuffy voice.
“Don’t talk,” Jiang Cheng demanded.
“I need to breathe,” Gu Fei mumbled.
Jiang Cheng completely ignored him and held on for a few more seconds before eventually letting him go. He fell back onto his chair and looked at Gu Fei, suddenly feeling exhilarated as he peered at him and burst into a fit of laughter.
Gu Fei picked up the beer, intending to drink it, but after raising the bottle to his mouth and stopping two or three times before he could drink from it, he put the bottle on the ground and also started to laugh along with him.
“As for me,” Jiang Cheng said with a smile. “I’m actually a very serious person.”
“Me too.” Gu Fei took a huge gulp of the beer and managed to suppress his laughter, “I hope you won’t misunderstand me.”
“En.” Jiang Cheng nodded, then continued to laugh for a while longer before his breathing finally evened out. He then let out a long sigh and paused for some time before finally asking, “Can you tell me how you and Hou Zi are going to settle things?”
“What are you asking this for?” Gu Fei asked.
“If a fight is used to settle things, then he definitely can’t beat you,” Jiang Cheng replied, “You definitely wouldn’t be singled out. When Wang Xu and I were held up by them last time, he was still willing to give you some face, so he won’t be getting a bunch of people to gang up on you, right?”
“En.” Gu Fei laughed some more.
“So how are you guys going to settle this?” Jiang Cheng stared straight into Gu Fei’s eyes.
As Gu Fei maintained eye contact with him, he seemed to hesitate before he finally whispered two syllables: “Hurdling.”
“What the hell is that?” Jiang Cheng looked at him with an inexplicable gaze.
“It’s the insider rules of the people in the area around the steel mills.” Gu Fei explained, “It’s the generally acknowledged method to settle issues.”
“How are you going to hurdle? How are you going to jump?” Jiang Cheng questioned again.
“Did you change your idol recently?” Gu Fei took a gulp of beer.
“What?” Jiang Cheng froze.
“Wasn’t Xiao Ming’s grandfather your idol before?”3 Gu Fei asked, “He’s not anymore, huh?”
“… fuck off.” Jiang Cheng felt around in his pocket and fished out the cigarette box, then he took out a cigarette and held it in his mouth.
Just when he was about to light the cigarette, Gu Fei sighed, “You still have some, yet you took mine?”
“En?” Jiang Cheng looked at the cigarette in his hand – indeed, he really did have some – he was probably out of his mind a while ago.
He stared at his cigarettes for a while before he took out the one in his mouth and put it back in the box. Pocketing it again, he stretched his hand out toward Gu Fei: “Give me one.”
Speechless, Gu Fei grabbed his own cigarette box and tossed it into his hand.
“How will you guys be hurdling?” Jiang Cheng asked again as he took out a cigarette but didn’t light it.
“There’s a railway bridge past the shop where you bought your bike,” Gu Fei explained. “Next to it is an old neighborhood where the factories had relocated. Someone bought that area a while back, but they still haven’t moved forward with any developments yet. The buildings there are all dilapidated…”
“Fuck.” Jiang Cheng interrupted him before he could finish, “Jumping off the buildings?”
Gu Fei gazed at him.
“Jumping from one building to the next?” Jiang Cheng looked fixedly at him, “Right?”
“En.” Gu Fei sounded in response. “Jump until someone is injured or quits.”
“Is the air quality in this area around the steel mills a little too bad ah? Has the lack of oxygen impeded your IQs?” Jiang Cheng was left utterly unable to describe his own feelings. “Why don’t you just say that you have to jump until someone falls to their death?”
“Normally no one is able to die since the distance isn’t that wide,” Gu Fei replied with a smile.
“Morons.” Jiang Cheng gripped the lighter and pressed down on it several times without actually being able to light the cigarette. As soon as the fire got close, it was blown out by the air exhaled from his nose. Finally, he chucked both the lighter and the cigarette to the stool sitting at the side. “There are actually such brainless people in this world! It really is eye-opening!”
Gu Fei took the cigarette and lit it, then handed it to him.
Jiang Cheng shot him a look before reaching out to take it and put it in his mouth.
The two remained quiet as silence overtook the shop. Not even a sound could be heard from the street outside – all Jiang Cheng could hear was the sound of his own exhales
He wanted to get angry for no particular reason. It wasn’t toward Gu Fei, nor was it toward Hou Zi… he didn’t know who it was towards or what he was specifically angry about, his anger was just simmering.
He raised his eyes and glared at Gu Fei who gazed back at him calmly.
His heart suddenly started to hurt for him.
Because of those chaotic, dark things that he had never thought of before and always felt out of reach towards, Gu Fei suddenly went from his teammate that he shared a tacit understanding with and a deskmate that he shared unspeakable secrets with to a shadow that he felt somewhat unable to grasp.
His heart really hurt for him.
The cigarette was quickly finished in that period of silence. It wasn’t pleasant to smoke at all – a little uncomfortable actually, and even his throat was dry.
He snubbed out the cigarette and stretched out his hand in front of Gu Fei.
Gu Fei looked at his hand, probably not knowing what he wanted to do. He hesitated for a while before he finally placed his own hand on Jiang Cheng’s.
Jiang Cheng grasped it tightly and squeezed it hard for a while before letting it go.
“When is it? When you guys are going do those brain-ischemic jumps off the buildings?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“After the finals.” Gu Fei rubbed his hand that was a little pale from his grasp.
“I want to go watch.” Jiang Cheng announced. Gu Fei wanted to say something, but he waved his hand to interrupt him, “I won’t let anyone know that I’m there. I just want to see.”
“See what?” Gu Fei asked a bit helplessly.
“See what kind of person you are,” Jiang Cheng peered at him, “I want to clearly see for myself what kind of person you are.”
Sae: My heart hurts for them T__T
And I’ll leave this here cause YiBo ❤
Ice: My back hurts just reading from about the alcohol and iodine getting poured on Gu Fei’s back. Damn, Nurse Jiang Cheng’s vengeance is ruthless.
I also want to bury my face in Jiang Cheng’s abs tho… QAQ
1 Pure of heart, limited in desires (清心寡欲) idiom, to purify one’s heart and reduce the number of one’s desire; be pure of heart and have few desires
2 reformatory school (工读学校) – An institution to which young offenders are sent as an alternative to prison, typically focusing on education and training rather than punishment.
3 Xiao Ming’s grandfather lived for 103 years (小明的爷爷活了103岁) derives from a legend: when someone saw a child eating ice cream, out of concern, they went up to the child and said ‘eating that on such a cold day is bad for your body’ but the child said ‘xiao ming’s grandfather lived for 103 years’, the person asked, “why?’, the child answered, ‘because he always mind his own business’. This is saying that ‘you will live longer if you mind your own business’.