Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofi
Among Jiang Cheng’s classmates, the boys weren’t particularly handsome, and the girls weren’t particularly beautiful. But what Gu Fei could ascertain was that just like the first time he saw Jiang Cheng, he could tell these people were not from around here with just a glance.
The intrinsic kind of aura that belonged to regular high school students from the major cities clearly enveloped them, seemingly making them very much inconsistent with everything else around here.
“My classmate, Pan Zhi, you’ve met before, though I’m not sure if you remember him.” Jiang Cheng walked over to stand beside him and introduced his other classmates. “Let’s find a place to eat?”
“En,” Gu Fe nodded. “Let’s have fried rice cake ba.”
Jiang Cheng’s eyes widened. Just as he was about to say, ‘fried rice cakes again, what the fuck, we freaking ate that for two days straight’, he didn’t even have a chance to open his mouth when Pan Zhi chimed in from the side. “Ai, sounds good. I haven’t had fried rice cakes for a long time.”
“Sounds good to me, fried rice cake it is. Rice cakes in syrups are also pretty tasty,” Li Yuqing quickly joined in.
“Let’s head out.” Gu Fei grabbed his bike from the side and straddled it, setting the leg with the splint on the pedal while using the other leg to push forward on the ground. “It’s not that far.”
“Is your leg alright?” Pan Zhi asked curiously.
“Yeah, it’s good to go,” Gu Fei answered.
“Let’s go,” Jiang Cheng called out, pretending to help with the handlebar of the bike as his hand quickly touched Gu Fei’s.
Gu Fei understandingly stuck up his thumb immediately, brushing it ever so softly across the palm of Jiang Cheng’s hand as he pulled away.
As soon as the others caught up, Gu Fei moved to the side of the road and opted to listen to them chat instead.
Jiang Cheng didn’t talk much, leaving Pan Zhi and the other classmates to do all the talking for the majority of the time, mainly giving account of the various gossips that came up since the beginning of school.
“Oh yeah, Cheng-er, here’s the letter he wrote for you.” Pan Zhi recalled just as the discussion got to their homeroom teacher and took out a kraft paper envelope from his pocket. “Almost forgot it for a second.”
“En,” Jiang Cheng accepted and shoved it into his pocket.
This homeroom teacher is also pretty good, Gu Fei thought as he slowly pushed his bike forward, probably even comparable to Lao Xu… Cheng-er?
Gu Fei turned his head just when Jiang Cheng also happened to turn his head to look at him. Gu Fei narrowed his eyes at him.
Jiang Cheng in all innocence tilted his head at him at a loss, so Gu Fei also tilted his head, and mouthed some words.
Jiang Cheng suddenly understood which part Gu Fei was lingering on, and felt slightly abashed at first, but as he ruminated on it, he really wanted to laugh out at the top of his lungs.
Pan Zhi addressed him in only two ways – Cheng-er, and grandpa.
Grandpa, this term, was normally used in their private conversations or under a more rather exciting context, while Cheng-er was his everyday name… it really didn’t matter much, but if Gu Fei pestered endlessly about it like he did with the whole ‘why does he have to sleep on the bed and not the sofa, why does he have to sleep on the sofa and not stay in the hotel’, he honestly would be left speechless1.
Because he normally just called Pan Zhi, Pan Zhi.
Why do you call him Pan Zhi, but he calls you Cheng-er?
Jiang Cheng took another glance at Gu Fei who had his head down as he lit a cigarette, but sensing his gaze on him, he turned to meet his eyes, continuing to mouth some more soundless words.
Jiang Cheng couldn’t endure it a second longer and started to laugh out loud this time.
“Right?!” Pan Zhi suddenly said from beside him, “I almost laughed to death, and nearly got kicked out midway through the class…”
“Ah,” Jiang Cheng sounded. “Idiot.”
He was totally clueless to what Pan Zhi had just said, but then again, such an answer between him and Pan Zhi was universal2.
“Oh yeah, are there videos of your basketball game from the last match?” Pan Zhi asked. “Send them over and let me have a look. Since there aren’t any chances for us to play together now, I’ll just watch them at the very least.”
“I don’t know.” Jiang Cheng turned to ask Gu Fei, “Are there?”
“Yeah,” Gu Fei answered. “Jiuri3 must have saved some.”
“Fuck who?” Pan Zi questioned but his focus then immediately shifted, “Send me a copy ba?”
“You can just add me.” Gu Fei tapped on his phone a couple of times and then turned the screen toward Pan Zhi.
“Cool.” Pan Zhi quickly fished out his phone and scanned the QR code on the screen, adding Gu Fei to his friend’s list. “This is your username? That’s quite… adorable4.”
Jiang Cheng watched from the side as the two of them added each other as friends without a hitch, but a second after Pan Zhi put his phone back into his pocket, Xu Meng instantly yanked him to the side.
“No, no can do,” Pan Zhi whispered. “Hell no, I can’t… go ask for yourself.”
“What the fuck?” Jiang Cheng suddenly couldn’t endure it any longer. Pan Zhi wasn’t just going to give Gu Fei’s username to that whatever Xu Meng right now, was he? But after they returned… or perhaps, even before they returned. What if Xu Meng came and asked herself ne? If this opportunity wasn’t initially mentioned, the person might have not thought of it, but if the person asked straightforwardly, it would simply be inexcusable for a WeChat to be given.
He swiftly turned his head to glare at Gu Fei, and kept his voice down, “What the FUCK?”5
“Cheng-er?” Gu Fei also lowered his voice.
“Fuck you, Gu Fei. Are you even five years old?” Jiang Cheng continued to keep his voice down.
“Nope~” Gu Fei expressed.
Jiang Cheng couldn’t be bothered to keep a straight face as he laughed until his snot nearly shot out.
“Shit.” He rubbed his nose.
There were actually many small shops situated next to the fried rice cake shop, so after the group of them occupied a table, the two girls went to look around the area and brought back a pile of barbequed wings, skewered meat, and some beverages.
Gu Fei sat at the side of the table with his head lowered and played on his phone; he didn’t have any common language with Jiang Cheng’s classmates. These people were like Jiang Cheng, very clean, and even their topics of conversation were limited to this person getting together with that person – words that still permeated with innocence and artlessness.
It was just as Li Yan had once said, “There’s a fucking generation gap between you and people of your age. You look at your peers as if you’re looking at your sons or some shit.”
But still, Jiang Cheng was different.
With Jiang Cheng, who was undoubtedly more mature than Pan Zhi and the others, there was no gap between the two of them. And even if there was, it also wasn’t this kind of gap.
As usual, not many words escaped Jiang Cheng’s mouth, and for the majority of the time, he kept his back leaning against the chair and watched his classmates conversate. Gu Fei observed his face that barely revealed any expressions aside from the innate arrogance that cloaked him – this was the Jiang Cheng he met in the beginning.
If he hadn’t seen that side of Jiang Cheng once more, it would have been nearly impossible for him to imagine that Jiang Cheng’s adoption was reversed because his relationship with his adoptive family had declined to such a discordant and irreconcilable nature.
Under the table, Gu Fei stretched his legs out and lightly stepped on Jiang Cheng’s shoes.
Jiang Cheng turned to look at him, slightly narrowing his eyes into a crescent, then turned back to look at his classmates who were all laughing hysterically as they talked.
This was the Jiang Cheng now. No, this was Jiang Cheng when he was with him.
“Niu Xiaoyang actually thinks he’s the shit now, his face is always freaking beaming,” Pan Zhi said as he ate the chicken wings. “Aiyo, once Jiang Cheng was gone, he finally managed to break into the top three. That face of his is practically glowing on its own now, it just sparkles every damn day.”
“Who cares about him ne,” Li Song chimed in. “Even if he doesn’t sparkle, it wouldn’t be your turn ah, why waste your energy on it ne.”
“It’s not the same,” Pan Zhi retorted. “Just you wait and see, I have to tell him when I get back that he has to write a thank you letter to Cheng-er, one that’s really sincere, and also add a string of firecrackers.”
“Who are you copying exams off nowadays?” Jiang Cheng laughed lightly as he took out a cigarette and lit it.
“I’m more self-reliant now.” Pan Zhi sighed as he spoke, “When the midterm results came out, my dad beat me so hard that my mom couldn’t even recognize me.”
The group of them started to laugh and began to center their discussion on the midterm exams.
Jiang Cheng maintained his silence. He had always been like this even in the past; aside from having a few more words when he was together with Pan Zhi, he couldn’t find much in common to talk about with his other classmates even though his relationship with them wasn’t bad.
Listening to the topics now, he felt a bit out of place.
Over the last few months, these conversations that mainly centered on exams and rankings had all become alien to him. Especially in a school like Si Zhong, where such an environment was nonexistent, the only possible way for a discussion to even come close to being related to exams was probably if it was regarding cheating.
As Jiang Cheng listened on, he suddenly felt a hint of nervousness.
Since he had only completed two sets of the exam worksheets that Lao Xu had given him, and would probably have no time to work on the remaining for the next two days, he could only wait until Pan Zhi and the others took their leave…
From the time they arrived here by train then chatted excitedly for nearly another two full hours, this group of people was finally overcome with tiredness; Pan Zhi went to pay the bill before yelling out that he wanted to go back and sleep.
“I probably won’t be able to get up too early tomorrow.” Pan Zhi took a glance at his phone then looked over at Gu Fei and asked, “It should be alright to wake up before 10 ba?”
Gu Fei returned his glance, actually wanting to say, ‘you better be out of the door by three in the morning’.
“Good enough. It all depends on where you all want to go but it’ll be a bit too late to go hiking up a mountain.”
“Let’s go to the haunted house first,” Li Yuqing expressed. “I’ve always wanted to go to one ah.”
“If it’s the haunted house then there’s still time,” Gu Fei commented. “You can also go to the park for a bit, there’s supposed to be a pagoda or something… our elementary schools visit there every semester and then write a composition about it.”
“Sounds good to me.” Pan Zhi smiled from ear to ear, “It just so happens that I haven’t written my weekly journal entry yet…”
After they left the shop, Gu Fei went to lightly push his bike forward just as before.
The intersection was about 50 meters ahead, then from there, it was a left turn and another 50 meters before he had to take a different turn to go home.
His glance fled toward Jiang Cheng, exactly at the same time that Jiang Cheng looked over at him. After their eyes connected, Jiang Cheng walked to his side, “Message me when you get home.”
“You message me,” Gu Fei said.
“Sure,” Jiang Cheng responded. “But you still have to message me.”
“En.” Gu Fei looked at his classmates, “So you’re going home with Pan Zhi, ha6?”
“How should I answer?” Jiang Cheng questioned, giving him a sidelong glance.
Gu Fei started to laugh: “He sleeps on the sofa, don’t forget.”
“I won’t, sir~” Jiang Cheng remarked. “Don’t go around adding WeChat friends either, don’t forget.”
“Okay la~” Gu Fei lightly pushed the bell on the handlebar, and when they all turned to look at him, he waved his hand and pointed to the intersection ahead, “I’m going that way.”
“We’ll see you tomorrow then!” Pan Zhi shouted, “We’ll go pick you up in a taxi.”
“En,” Gu Fei answered then whispered, “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Jiang Cheng whispered back.
Pan Zhi had brought some clothes with him instead of leaving them in the hotel, which allowed him and Jiang Cheng to head straight to the apartment while the others went to their hotel after setting a time to meet for tomorrow.
“Can your friend go tomorrow?” Pan Zhi asked as they walked, “Having him come out with us with his leg like that, isn’t it a bit much?”
“His leg is fine once we’re out of this area,” Jiang Cheng countered.
“Ah?” Pan Zhi froze in confusion.
Jiang Cheng’s cellphone sounded, and he took it out for a look, it was a message from Gu Fei.
– Cheng Cheng, you just walk on boldly ya7, walk on ahead, don’t look back ya
What the fuck?
While Pan Zhi was busy adjusting the bag on his shoulder, Jiang Cheng very quickly took the chance to look back. The figure of Gu Fei in the distance straddling his bike under the lamppost was already quite vague, but he could still recognize that it was him with just a glance.
He sent a message to Gu Fei.
– muah muah8
Gu Fei’s reply came back at the speed of light.
– want hug, hug
– hug, hug
– want kiss, kiss
– kissed you already
– Oh, right, you did.
Jiang Cheng held back his laughter and put the phone back in his pocket.
“That Gu Fei,” Pan Zhi went on to ask after he finished adjusting the straps on his bag, “Did he get into some sort of trouble?”
“Not exactly ba. It’s more like he resolved the trouble,” Jiang Cheng commented. Even though he had always called Pan Zhi an idiot, Pan Zhi wasn’t actually an idiot, he could tell with just a few words that something was off.
“Cheng-er,” Pan Zhi hesitated for a moment. “Just take care of yourself, don’t get involved in anything.”
“I’m well aware9,” Jiang Cheng said.
“I’m not saying that your friend is…” Pan Zhi pondered once more on how to explain himself.
“I understand,” Jiang Cheng interrupted, patting him on the shoulder. “I know what you mean.”
“I have something else to say,” Pan Zhi expressed.
“So dedicated.” Jiang Cheng sighed, “Go on.”
“The two of us are bros,” Pan Zhi firmly said. “We’ll always be, don’t you go and forget about me.”
“I won’t.” Jiang Cheng looked at him. “You’ll always be my grandson.”
“After thinking it over, I’ve decided to take back what I just said,” Pan Zhi
Jiang Cheng started to laugh, “Idiot.”
Pan Zhi didn’t raise any objections in regard to having been arranged to sleep on the sofa with a rolled-up towel as a pillow when there was a double bed in plain sight. This was one of the important reasons why Jiang Cheng had such a great relationship with him – Pan Zhi was unobservant, and also lazy. For things of this nature, he didn’t think to question them, or even cared to ask.
Jiang Cheng didn’t close the bedroom door. After the two of them lay down, they chatted for over half an hour, one on the bed and one on the sofa while he continued to exchange messages with Gu Fei.
The main focus of this discussion was classmate Li Yuqing, who had written four love letters to Pan Zhi within just a month.
“Are you going to accept?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“No, we’re just hanging out as normal friends first,” Pan Zhi said. “I don’t like that mushroom hair of hers, once it gets a bit longer, I’ll see where it goes.”
“What the, you’re just looking at her hairstyle ah?” Jiang Cheng laughed.
“It’s not just the hairstyle,” Pan Zhi said in dead earnest. “There’s also the face and figure. In this day and at our age, we’re just meant to be this superficial. Not like she isn’t also looking at my face, we’re both the same.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t say anything and thought of Gu Fei.
To be honest, what had attracted him to Gu Fei at first glance was also his face… and legs.
After yabbering on for a bit longer, Pan Zhi’s voice suddenly ceased. Jiang Cheng concluded that he must have fallen asleep, so he put down his phone and took out Lao Yuan’s letter from his coat to the side.
Hello, my dear student Jiang Cheng.
In the first sentence, he almost burst out laughing.
It has been almost half a year since you’ve departed, and this teacher does misses you dearly.
In the second sentence, he actually burst out laughing.
And then once he composed himself, he continued reading the letter.
This letter from Lao Yuan wasn’t long. The main content spoke of comfort and encouragement, which was very much in tune with his usual tone. But for some reason, Jiang Cheng suddenly felt like crying halfway through it.
“‘Gold will always shine’ is honestly a useless saying, but gold is indeed very bright and can shine, so half of those words does pertain to you at this moment. Don’t bury yourself…”
You have to work on your temper and learn to control it. In that aspect, I think the change of environment will benefit you, at least your temper will not be emboldened. The ‘unfamiliarity’ will allow you to learn how to hold back and control yourself…
Pan Zhi showed me the exam worksheets that you had completed, and I say for sure that you haven’t fallen back so far; this is a very pleasant surprise to me. It shows that you possess an extraordinary adaptability and self-discipline (perhaps, I have exaggerated the word “extraordinary” quite a bit), and are indeed a chunk of gold…
Don’t hold on to the notion that you have been abandoned by whoever, it’s only when you abandon yourself that you have really been abandoned. As long as you hold on and don’t let go, then nothing will change…”
At the end, the letter was signed, “Always your homeroom, Lao Yuan”.
Jiang Cheng smiled as he folded the letter up, placed it back in the envelope, then tucked it under the pillow and closed his eyes.
Early the next morning, Jiang Cheng was roused from sleep by the sound of Pan Zhi talking on the phone. He reached for his phone and glanced at the time. It wasn’t even nine o’clock yet, which was quite a bit of time left from the scheduled ten o’clock.
“So down the stairs, then turn right?” Pan Zhi was talking in the living room, “That’s the direction we came from your store, right?”
At first, Jiang Cheng was still a little muddle-headed and barely awake, but he suddenly sobered up when he heard those words. Is he talking to Gu Fei?
“I see, got it, got it,” Pan Zhi said. “Why don’t you come over and eat with us? Jiang Cheng hasn’t woken up ne… I don’t have the guts to wake him. Let’s just say that guy’s morning temper can kill a person. I experienced it once in the past and never want to go through it again in this lifetime…”
Gu Fei must have said something on the other side, evident in how Pan Zhi started to laugh with such joy and then proceeded to chat some more.
Jiang Cheng remained on the bed and listened for a while, then sat up and got off the bed. Without mentioning anything else, Pan Zhi’s ability to chat up a storm was unrivaled in this world, no second person could stand shoulder to shoulder with him.
“Ai? He’s up now.” Pan Zhi saw him as he looked up, “Oh… okay, Cheng-er, Gu Fei wants to talk to you.”
Jiang Cheng received the phone that Pan Zhi passed to him and walked into the bathroom. “Hello?”
“This buddy of yours really knows how to talk ah.” Gu Fei started with a sigh, “I didn’t know how to end the conversation with the way he was going on…”
“He called you?” Jiang Cheng started to laugh, “He normally doesn’t talk that much, probably excited from being able to come here.”
“He must’ve gotten up too early and had nothing to do, so he asked me if I was up yet and where to eat breakfast. Then when he got confused, he asked for my number and gave me a call,” Gu Fei relayed. “After all that, we ended up chatting for nearly twenty minutes.”
“Don’t eat breakfast yet,” Jiang Cheng chuckled and said, “We’ll go over in a bit and eat together.”
“En,” Gu Fei answered.
The three of them had already finished eating their breakfast and even waited for another 20 minutes when the others who stayed at the hotel finally arrived, all yawning nonstop from probably staying up all night chatting.
“Smells good ah,” Meng Xu said. “I didn’t have any appetite at first, but after smelling these, I’m all hungryyyy.”
“Hurry up and eat so we can head out,” Pan Zhi said. “There’s going to be more people if we get there any later, we still have to line up ne.”
As the others sat down at the table with Meng Xu sitting beside Gu Fei, Jiang Cheng was suddenly riddled with regrets for having seated himself between Gu Fei and Pan Zhi.
“It’s quite cold here in the morning,” Meng Xu tried to make conversation with Gu Fei with those few words.
“It’s already May,” Gu Fei casually commented.
Feeling a little embarrassed, Meng Xu covered her mouth and smiled.
Gu Fei lowered his head, took out his phone, and started to play a game on it.
When they all finished and were about to head out, Gu Fei immediately stood up, even forgetting to act like a cripple. Jiang Cheng had to poke him on the leg before he remembered to support himself on a tree to the side.
There weren’t many taxis in this area, and when they did manage to get two taxis after some difficulties, Gu Fei nimbly got into the car with the skills comparable to that of an old man fighting for a seat on the bus and sat in the front passenger seat.
Jiang Cheng fought back his laughter as he got into the back seat, with Pan Zhi and Li Yuqing right beside him; Xu Meng, Hu Feng, and Li Song were together in the other taxi behind them.
As soon as the taxi started to move, Li Yuqing’s laughter sounded as she said, “Did Mengmeng scare you ah? Gu Fei.”
“Nah,” Gu Fei replied matter-of-factly, then told the driver where to go before he continued to look down and played with his phone.
“She’s a good person, a bit silly, but very cute.” Li Yuqing laughed once more as she spoke.
“En,” Gu Fei answered.
“You’re not interested in her at all then?” Li Yuqing questioned again.
“Why don’t you just go get a fake mole,” Pan Zhi interjected.
“What?” Li Yuqing glared at Pan Zhi.
“Right here.” Pan Zhi pointed at the corner of his own mouth, “Put one right here.”
Li Yuqing was perplexed for some time before she realized what he meant: “Ai, seriously!10 Who’s the matchmaker11 ne?!”
They all started to laugh, and so did the driver.
Jiang Cheng turned his head and looked out of the window. When Li Yuqing was trying to market Xu Meng, he didn’t feel jealous at all, but rather a little nervous.
He was very conflicted.
He was afraid of what Gu Fei would say if he was pressed further.
Even though Gu Fei certainly wouldn’t say that he had a boyfriend, he didn’t want to hear Gu Fei say that he had a girlfriend either… but not saying anything at all also made him feel… unhappy.
“She’s not my type,” Gu Fei said while still playing on his phone. “Really isn’t, quite far, far, far12 from it.”
“Ah? Really?” Li Yuqing sighed, then after some thought, she quietly said: “Sorry about that ah.”
“It’s fine.” Gu Fei turned around and smiled at her.
His gaze swept over Jiang Cheng as he turned his head back.
The corner of Jiang Cheng’s lips curved the slightest. Pan Zhi was sitting right beside him… when facing a bestie that understood him like no other, he didn’t dare to make any overly obvious moves.
Despite Pan Zhi knowing about him, and he hadn’t actually had anything with another guy before, he didn’t want to let Pan Zhi know at the moment.
This answer of Gu Fei’s set his mind at rest. But there was still an unsettling feeling he couldn’t detail… he was afraid that Gu Fei could sense the hint of apprehension in his heart.
He was the one to take the first step, he was also the one to take the second step, each step of the way was taken by him. But the one scared was also him – the one frightened and flustered in every way was him.
Suddenly he recalled the sentence that Gu Fei had asked him before, did you want to be with me, or did you just want to date me?
He furrowed his brows while the brain that was being afflicted by the word “boyfriend” had only now registered that he hadn’t in actuality comprehended the meaning behind Gu Fei’s question.
The translator has something to say:
Sae: They’re so freaking cute T_T and I am so single.
1 Speechless (无言以对) idiom: unable to response
2 Universal (万能) : all-purpose, as in it could be used in an circumstance
3 Juiri 九日- taken from the breakdown of Wang Xu’s name; within the character Xu “旭”, you can see 九 Jiu and 日 Ri, which translate to nine suns or nine fucks (slang), Pan Zhi is saying ‘Fuck, who?” Because the ‘Ri’ in Wangri (Xu) is also slang for ‘fuck’
4 Adorable (萌) – cute, adorable or from the japanese word ‘moe’ (萌え) which depends on the context; the term is generally used to describe something as pleasing or adorable to the person who is viewing that item/person/costume/trait.
5 What the FUCK? ; initially written in English
6 Ha 哈 (interj.) ha! / (onom. for laughter) / (slang) to be infatuated with / to adore
7 Ya 呀 (particle equivalent to 啊 ah after a vowel, expressing surprise or doubt)
8 Muah muah (么么哒) · the sound made by giving a kiss
9 Well-aware有数- know fairly well,have a clear mind of how things stand
10 Seriously! 真是的 (interj. of annoyance or frustration), can also be, honestly! Come on! Are you kidding me! Etc
11 Matchmaker 媒婆 – it’s a cliche that a matchmaker has a mole somewhere near their mouth
12 Far, far, far from it, 十万八千里, lit. distance of one hundred and eight thousand li; means, thousands miles away, millions miles away, immeasurable long distance, PS every good thing must be said three times lol