"Fuck, what the hell are you taking photos of!" Jiang Cheng cursed. At this moment there was no Gu Miao around, so he didn't care about being civilized or not.
Gu Fei didn't say anything, just clicked at him a few more times.
Jiang Cheng felt that all the not-so-beautiful expressions on his face had probably been captured.
"I'm asking you!" He walked up to Gu Fei and reached out to grab the camera.
Gu Fei quickly pulled the camera back a bit: "Two hundred and sixty-seven years old."
"What?" Jiang Cheng was stunned, "What two hundred and sixty...seven?"
"Two hundred and sixty-seven." Gu Fei repeated.
"What two hundred and sixty-seven years old?" Jiang Cheng asked.
"Xiao Ming's grandpa." Gu Fei said.
Jiang Cheng stared at him for a full thirty seconds, not knowing whether he was speechless or trying to hold back the urge to laugh.
Finally he pointed at Gu Fei's camera: "Give it to me, or delete them."
"Why don't you take a look first?" Gu Fei handed the camera over.
When Jiang Cheng took the camera, he was nervous. It felt so heavy, as if it would fall to the ground and smash at any moment. Looking at the buttons on the camera, he was at a loss about what to press to delete or even just view the photos.
"Here." Gu Fei reached out and pressed the camera once, and the screen showed the photos.
There were a total of four. Jiang Cheng flipped through them silently.
He had never been interested in taking photos, whether it was scenery or people taking photos of him. He'd rather see with his eyes.
Although he usually felt that he was quite good-looking, he would still be startled by the front camera every time... He didn't expect that he looked quite good in Gu Fei's photos.
It was quite true to life, hmm.
It didn't have the ferocious expression he was worried about, just looked a little impatient.
And he actually really liked the first one.
The chaotic and bleak background was blurred to reveal a faint sadness. It made him inexplicably think of the line "someone else's hometown."
And the him walking towards the setting sun, needless to say, looked amazing.
After flipping through his own photos twice, he didn't know what to do.
"The bottom right button is delete." Gu Fei said.
"I know." Jiang Cheng answered somewhat awkwardly.
He was the one who said he wanted to delete them, but after seeing the photos he didn't want to delete them anymore, because he'd never taken such amazing photos before.
Last year during New Year, the whole family went to a photo studio to take a family portrait. He thought the photos would turn out quite good, but when he saw them, he almost tore up the photos. He even argued with his parents for two days and didn't go home...
He seemed to have gotten lost in his memories. He collected his thoughts and looked at Gu Fei.
"You're quite photogenic," Gu Fei said, "If you don't mind, I'd like to keep them. I've taken photos of many classmates and kept them all."
Gu Fei's way out was very timely. Jiang Cheng hesitated for two seconds: "Why did you take photos of so many people?"
"For fun." Gu Fei said.
"...Oh," Jiang Cheng nodded, he really admired Gu Fei's ability to perfectly prevent the conversation from continuing, "Photography enthusiast."
"I'll add you as a friend later," Gu Fei took out his phone, "I can send you a copy after editing the photos?"
Jiang Cheng really wanted to decline, I don't need this stuff.
But when he opened his mouth, he nodded: "Oh."
After the "oh", still holding the camera, he didn't know what to do. Gu Fei was also silent, seemingly very used to this kind of awkward silence.
"Can I see the other photos?" Jiang Cheng asked. He really couldn't associate Gu Fei with this awesome professional camera.
"Go ahead." Gu Fei said.
Many of the photos were of bridges and sunsets. You could tell from the lighting that Gu Fei had stayed here for an afternoon, taking many photos, of scenery and people walking across the bridge.
Jiang Cheng didn't understand photography, but he could discern whether a photo was good or not.
Gu Fei's photos were taken very professionally. The composition and tones conveyed a warm feeling. If he wasn't standing at this spot right now, blowing cold wind, just looking at the photos really made him feel as comfortable as sitting by a heater basking in the sun.
Flipping further back, the photos were probably not taken today.
Many were street scenes.
Trees and old houses, snow piles and stray dogs, fallen leaves and people's feet walking by... Extremely ordinary things you see every day but don't notice.
Just as he felt this was Gu Fei's photographic style, a backlit photo of Gu Miao bent over grabbing her skateboard mid-jump in bright sunlight made him gasp involuntarily.
"Hm?" Gu Fei was leaning on the bridge railing smoking. Hearing his reaction, he turned his head.
"This one has a great feel, Gu Miao looks so cool," Jiang Cheng turned the photo to show Gu Fei, "Little flying hero."
Gu Fei smiled: "Snapped shot. She jumped like that dozens of times before I got this one."
Jiang Cheng looked at him a few more times. Gu Fei was quite hard to read. Usually he looked indifferent with a 'none of my business' vibe that ended conversations. But when he was with Gu Miao, or talking about Gu Miao, he would become gentle.
Jiang Cheng thought of Gu Miao's crocheted hat.
Caring brother holding yarn...
This scene even had background music.
But the music didn't seem quite fitting.
"Your phone rang." Gu Fei said.
"Oh." Jiang Cheng awkwardly took out his phone...
"Chengcheng ah!" Came Li Baoguo's explosive voice.
"You...what did you call me?" Jiang Cheng broke out in goosebumps.
Gu Fei had probably heard it. Although he quickly turned his head away, Jiang Cheng still saw him smiling out of the corner of his eye.
"You must be almost home right?" Li Baoguo said, "Hurry back, your older brother and sister are back, waiting for you to eat!"
"Oh," Jiang Cheng suddenly felt depressed. Not only were the plans to eat dumplings dashed, but he was pulled back to reality again, to face people who he basically had no life intersections with before but were now his family. He suddenly couldn't even move his legs, "I know."
"Are you going back then?" After putting away his camera, Gu Fei asked.
"Yeah." Jiang Cheng answered.
"Let's go together, I'm going home too." Gu Fei said.
"Driving?" Jiang Cheng asked.
"...I walked here." Gu Fei glanced at him.
"Oh." Jiang Cheng turned and walked back.
The temperature dropped sharply after sunset. The two of them walked back in the cold north wind.
After walking for a while, it wasn't so cold anymore. Jiang Cheng turned and looked at Gu Fei: "Do you know Li Baoguo?"
"Most people on those streets know each other," Gu Fei said, "Grandpas, grandmas, uncles, aunts, older and younger brothers and sisters...they're all old neighbors."
"Oh, then...what's he like?" Jiang Cheng asked.
Gu Fei pulled his hat down and turned to look at him: "What is he to you?"
Jiang Cheng didn't really know how to say it. He pulled up his mask covering half his face, only then did he feel more relaxed.
"He's...my biological dad." He said.
"Hm?" Gu Fei looked quite surprised as he raised his eyebrows, "Biological dad? Li Baoguo has two sons? Though I have to say...you do look a bit like Li Hui."
"I don't know," Jiang Cheng said irritably, "Anyway, that's what he told me... So I'm asking what he's like, can you just answer me directly?"
"Veteran gambler," This time Gu Fei answered very readily, "Level 10 alcoholic."
Jiang Cheng's steps faltered.
"Still want to hear more?" Gu Fei asked.
"What else is there?" Jiang Cheng sighed softly.
"Domestic violence, beat his wife away," Gu Fei thought for a moment, "That's pretty much the main stuff."
"That's already bad enough," Jiang Cheng frowned, but still stared at Gu Fei hesitantly, "Is all this credible?"
"You feel it's not credible?" Gu Fei smiled.
"These kinds of neighborhood rumors are a bit..." Jiang Cheng didn't finish. The neighborhood also said you killed your own dad, but he couldn't possibly say that. No matter what really happened, the fact was Gu Fei's dad had died.
"These aren't rumors," Gu Fei said, "You go home every day, don't you know he gambles?"
"Mm." Jiang Cheng suddenly didn't want to talk anymore.
They walked silently to the intersection. Gu Fei walked towards his street, while Jiang Cheng wasn't in the mood to say goodbye. But Gu Fei didn't say anything either.
He pulled up his mask and walked towards Li Baoguo's home.
From afar, he could hear people arguing fiercely, a group argument with both men and women.
Walking closer, he saw it was the building next to Li Baoguo's house. Downstairs stood a man and a woman, while upstairs at the window there was also a man and a woman.
He couldn't make out why they were arguing, but both sides were cursing very seriously, enunciating clearly.
All kinds of reproductive organs and unspeakable scenes spewed out. Some words were even repeated over and over. Jiang Cheng felt embarrassed for them just listening.
When he walked downstairs, the man upstairs suddenly appeared at the window holding a basin. Jiang Cheng took one look and quickly jumped aside two steps.
Immediately after, a basin of water with vegetable leaves poured down.
Although he didn't get drenched, he still got splashed all over. He was instantly disgusted to the point where his mask nearly flew off.
"What the hell! Bunch of idiots!" He yelled, "Come down and fight fair and square if you've got the guts! Looks like you've put all your skill points into being a shrew! Cowards!"
After yelling, he didn't look at the others either, just turned and entered the stairwell.
He didn't know if the arguers were stunned by his yelling or didn't understand what he was yelling. Anyway, both sides lowered their voices, cursed a few more times, then the fight was suddenly called off like that.
Jiang Cheng patted the water off himself, along with a few fingernail-sized vegetable leaves. Fuck!
Just as he took out his keys, Li Baoguo's door opened. Li Baoguo stuck out his head, grinning from ear to ear: "Was that you just now?"
"What?" Jiang Cheng asked gruffly.
"Well scolded," Li Baoguo said with a laugh, "Just like my son."
Jiang Cheng didn't respond, just went inside.
The room was still shabby, but livelier today.
A table full of dishes, and two men and two women sitting at the table, plus three kids, crowded the small living room packed full.
"Come on, Chengcheng," Li Baoguo closed the door and came over very intimately putting an arm around his shoulder, "Let me introduce you."
Jiang Cheng extremely disliked being touched by unfamiliar people. He gritted his teeth to keep from shaking him off.
"This is your older brother Li Hui," Li Baoguo pointed at a 26-27 year old man, then pointed at the young woman next to him, "This is your sister-in-law, those two are your nephews...come call uncle!"
The two boys who were watching TV just glanced over here, then turned their heads back as if they hadn't heard.
"Hey! You little brats! I told you to call uncle!" Li Baoguo yelled.
The two kids didn't even turn their heads this time.
"You guys..." Li Baoguo pointed at them, seemingly wanting to say more, but didn't seem to know what else to say.
"It's fine, we're not familiar," Jiang Cheng patted his arm. He just wanted to get away from Li Baoguo's loud voice and spittle as soon as possible, and the arm draped over him making his whole body stiff.
"I'll settle accounts with you brats later!" Li Baoguo pointed at the other woman, "This is your sister Li Qian, this is your brother-in-law...your niece. Call uncle!"
"Uncle." The little girl who looked around 4-5 years old called him uncle very softly, sounding frightened.
"Hello." Jiang Cheng squeezed out a smile.
Li Baoguo finally let go of him. He said he was going to change and hurried into the inner room, closing the door and leaning against it with his eyes shut.
In this room full of people, from when he entered, besides Li Baoguo, not a single person had a smile on their face.
When Li Baoguo introduced them one by one, everyone just nodded silently, not saying a word.
But this coldness didn't seem to be unwelcoming him or dissatisfied with him, but a kind of innate, inborn daze and numbness.
Even more frighteningly oppressive.
In just this minute or two, Jiang Cheng already felt he couldn't breathe.
He took off his coat, took a few deep breaths leaning against the wall, slowly breathing out, inhaling again, slowly exhaling again, then sighed softly.
He didn't even remember how many sighs he had sighed these days, probably enough to blow up a huge welcome balloon.
After staying in the room for a few minutes, Li Baoguo called for him again outside. He had no choice but to rub his face and walk back out.
Everyone was already seated at the table. The two brats who had ignored them were also sitting properly now. Not only sitting properly, they had already started eating, directly grabbing ribs from the plates and gnawing on them.
"Eat some food." Li Qian said and reached out to take his rice bowl in front of him.
"Thanks, I can get it myself," Jiang Cheng quickly took the bowl, "You eat."
"Let her serve you," Li Baoguo said from the side, "Women are supposed to do these things."
Jiang Cheng was stunned. Li Qian took the bowl from his hand and went to the pot to serve him rice.
"Come, we have to drink some good wine today," Li Baoguo picked up two bottles of wine from the floor, probably brought by Li Qian or Li Hui, but before Jiang Cheng could see what wine, he had already opened the cabinet door and put them inside, then took out another bottle, "This is homemade by me, hawthorn wine."
"Let's just drink what Li Qian brought," Li Hui seemed reluctant, "Your rotten wine you always boast about tastes like hotpot water.
"Oh?" Li Baoguo slammed the wine bottle on the table, "Don't like your dad's wine? If you don't like it, you should've brought wine. Coming back empty-handed then being picky?"
"Dad, what are you saying," Sister-in-law spoke up, full of dissatisfaction, "Your son comes home, and all you do is nitpick about whether he brought anything or not."
"You shut up!" Li Baoguo glared at her, "Since when do women get to talk in this family!"
"What's wrong with women!" Sister-in-law raised her voice, "Without me this woman, could you have two grandsons? Do you expect your daughter to give you grandsons? She can't even have one!"
Jiang Cheng felt somewhat shocked, shocked that this family would argue over just a couple sentences, shocked that they would argue at a dinner that should at least express some family harmony. And seeing Li Qian's silent family, he was even more shocked.
"I have grandsons because I have sons!" Li Baoguo's voice was loud enough to shatter the broken light overhead, "Now I have another son, if I want grandsons, it's easy as pie! Li Hui, are you even a man anymore, with a wife like this you can't even fart huh!"
"What's there to argue about!" Li Hui slammed down his chopsticks and stood up. It was unclear if this was aimed at Li Baoguo or his wife.
"You're asking me? What's there to argue about, don't you know?" Sister-in-law shrieked loudly.
At this shriek, the two brats eating with their hands simultaneously looked up and started bawling, like pulling an alarm, grating on the ears.
Jiang Cheng stood up and went back to his room, closing the door.
They were still arguing loudly outside, men yelling, women screaming, children wailing unrestrainedly. This flimsy wooden door couldn't block these desperate sounds at all.
Behind the thin wooden partition were his real family members - the kind of irritating relatives you see on TV dramas that he had always looked down on. No, not even looked down on, they were the kind of people he basically never paid any attention to.
If he had grown up here over the past decade or so, would he have turned out like them?
Was his own personality, which was rebellious and lasted longer than normal, inherited?
Was it written in his genes?
Rebellious period? Maybe it wasn't a rebellious period at all.
But his terrifying essence.
The door behind him was knocked lightly twice. People were still arguing loudly outside, he even heard the sound of someone kicking over a chair. He wouldn't have heard these light knocks if he wasn't leaning on the door.
"Jiang Cheng?" Li Qian's voice came from outside, just as soft.
He hesitated for a few seconds before opening the door a crack and saw Li Qian standing outside looking rather uneasy.
"Are you okay?" Li Qian asked.
"I'm fine," Jiang Cheng answered.
Are you okay? That's what he should be asking Li Qian.
"Um..." Li Qian looked back at the smoky room full of people, "Let me get you some food to eat in your room, okay?"
"No need, thanks," Jiang Cheng said, "I really...can't eat."
Li Qian didn't say anything more. He closed the door again and locked it.
After standing dumbly in the room for half a day, he walked over to the window and twisted the handle a couple times.
The window didn't budge.
Ever since he arrived, he had wanted to try opening the window, but never succeeded. The window was sealed shut without even a gap.
Jiang Cheng twisted the handle violently several more times, then started pushing.
He was sweating from the effort but still unsuccessful.
Staring at the window, listening to the chaos outside, he felt something inside him about to explode.
He turned and grabbed the chair behind him, swinging it forcefully at the window.
The window glass made a loud crisp sound.
This sound made Jiang Cheng feel extremely satisfied. All the pores on his body seemed to stand up in that instant. He lifted the chair and smashed it against the window again.
The glass shattered noisily.
He kept swinging and smashing. The arguing outside the room turned into banging on the door, but he didn't care to listen.
After all the window glass was shattered, he kicked the empty window frame.
The window opened.
He heard the sound of keys outside the door. He pushed off the window sill and jumped out.
Fuck all of you.