There's some law that says if you hit one red light, you'll hit them all. No matter how fast or slow you go, you'll always run into red lights.
There should also be a law that says if you embarrass yourself in front of someone once, you'll keep embarrassing yourself in front of them no matter how unlikely it seems or how careful you are - your dignity is never really your own.
Just like now. Gu Fei looked ready to hit his own mother five minutes ago, and five minutes later he mysteriously appeared on the sidewalk as if sent by the heavens itself to witness his further disgrace.
Jiang Cheng didn't fly for long, but it was long enough to contemplate many things in a flash.
For example, he could tell Gu Fei was in a terrible mood from the expression on his face. One look and you'd know he was a powder keg ready to explode.
He also knew that from this angle, if he kept going he'd run smack into the foul-tempered Gu Fei.
He knew that with their momentum the collision would be powerful, probably enough to knock Gu Fei over.
He also knew he should immediately move his hands out of the way. Otherwise when they collided his scraped palm that was just starting to scab over would burst right open.
In short, when he spread his arms like he was flying towards the sun and barreled into Gu Fei, Gu Fei's expression changed unpredictably.
Jiang Cheng slammed into him with a solid thud.
After the first time he'd learned how loud it was to hit a tree, now he learned for the first time how a collision between two people could also make such a vivid sound.
His forehead smashed into Gu Fei's collarbone first, then his mouth collided with who knows what - it felt like he'd bitten into a zipper or something. After that it was a blur of body parts crashing into Gu Fei at different speeds.
Gu Fei didn't even stumble, just tipped straight backwards and fell on the ground.
Jiang Cheng went tumbling after him.
He didn't feel any pain when they collided, but now falling to the ground really didn't hurt either, probably because Gu Fei cushioned his fall.
When he hit the ground Jiang Cheng even had the fleeting impression of a cloud of snow mist puffing up around them.
It took him several seconds to confirm it was just an illusion - there was no snow under Gu Fei, just the brick pavement.
The fall left them both a little stunned.
It wasn't until Jiang Cheng heard Gu Fei mutter "Fuck me" under his breath that he came to his senses. He shifted his uninjured left hand to push himself up. "Sorry ab-"
His hand bumped Gu Fei's ribcage instead of finding purchase.
"Fuck!" Gu Fei yelled in pain. "What the hell is wrong with you!"
To be honest, Jiang Cheng was in a terrible mood. The brief delight from recklessly skateboarding with Gu Miao did little to help. Wandering the streets at night skateboarding like a gradeschooler was depressing no matter how you looked at it.
Now Gu Fei's words set him off. But he was the one who'd plowed into Gu Fei after all, and not lightly either - he'd even knocked a zipper off Gu Fei's jacket.
"Get off me!" Gu Fei shoved him away.
"Fuck your uncle, it's not like I did it on purpose!" Jiang Cheng said, then winced as his teeth ached. There was something in his mouth. He turned his head and spat out half of a zipper pull.
Pretty crisp sound.
As soon as he heard it his mouth filled with pain. He didn't dare imagine how he'd bitten half a zipper off. He didn't even have the courage to lick his teeth to see if they were still there.
"Cut the bullshit! Quit wandering around with a fucking attitude acting like you're something you're not!" Gu Fei looked ready to blow as he roughly shoved him again. "Top student my ass!"
"Fuck off," Jiang Cheng plopped down on his butt, instantly furious. "Try that again if you've got the balls!"
Gu Fei didn't even glance at him. He just kicked him in the stomach.
Jiang Cheng instantly felt like the whole world faded away. All that was left was this fucker Gu Fei. He sprang up and kicked Gu Fei right back.
Gu Fei dodged to the side quickly so Jiang Cheng's kick hit nothing but air. But he immediately followed it up with another kick to Gu Fei's back.
"Fuck!" Gu Fei grabbed his ankle and yanked.
As Jiang Cheng crashed back to the ground he lashed out with his other leg, trying to kick Gu Fei's face.
Gu Fei blocked it with his arm and jumped on him, punching him right in the face.
Fuck his mom! Why was he hitting so hard!
Jiang Cheng's left eye flashed a string of stars, like a little train had run it over. He couldn't worry about anything else now. He shoved Gu Fei's chin hard with the heel of his hand. Gu Fei rocked back a bit. Jiang Cheng took the chance to jab his ribs with an elbow...but he wasn't successful. Gu Fei grabbed his wrist quickly.
What happened next was completely unexpected. The bastard pressed down on the scrape in his palm.
"Ahhh!" Jiang Cheng yelled and reflexively drew his legs up, ramming his knees into Gu Fei's back.
Gu Fei lurched forward, catching himself with one hand planted next to Jiang Cheng's head.
Playing dirty huh? Fine!
Jiang Cheng turned his head and bit Gu Fei's wrist.
"Ah!" Gu Fei also cried out in pain. Jiang Cheng kept his teeth locked on. Gu Fei could only grab his cheeks and try to pry him off.
The bastard had incredibly strong hands. Jiang Cheng felt like his cheeks were being crushed, aching waves radiating through them.
But at least now he was sure his teeth were still there, and still going strong.
Just as things were devolving into an idiotic quagmire with them rolling around grappling inseparably, a voice called out from the side: "Gu Fei?"
They were too absorbed in their scuffle to react, continuing to earnestly trade blows.
"Gu Fei!" The person yelled, paused, then shouted again, "Jiang Cheng? What are you... Stop! Both of you stop!"
Jiang Cheng recognized Old Xu's voice right away, but didn't even have time to wonder why he'd suddenly appeared.
"You two stop!" Old Xu came over and kicked them each once. "What's gotten into you! Did you eat too much?"
They finally halted at the same time.
But they only stopped, as if someone had hit pause. Their positions were still frozen, grappling with each other.
Neither dared let go easily now that they'd scraped palms and bit wrists. Unsure if the other would resort to more childish tactics, they held their grips and stared each other down.
"Let go!" Old Xu pulled at their arms for a while before finally separating them.
"What's going on here!" Old Xu glared at Gu Fei. "How could you fight your deskmate!"
"Did you only see me hitting him?" Gu Fei wiped his mouth corner. "Are you blind?"
Old Xu didn't care about Gu Fei's irritation. He turned to Jiang Cheng. "And what's with you? You're such a good kid normally. How did you end up brawling as soon as you got here?"
"I told you," Jiang Cheng shook out his hand. It was numb, he couldn't feel any pain. "Don't judge someone by their grades. Not one teacher has called me a good kid."
"Ah!" Old Xu sighed. He pointed across the street at Gu Miao. "That's your sister isn't it! Look how frightened you've made the poor girl!"
Only now did Jiang Cheng remember Gu Miao was still there. He immediately felt a little uneasy and looked over. But he was taken aback to see Gu Miao sitting alone on a stone bench across the street, one hand on her cheek, watching them with utter calm.
Or not calm exactly, more like indifference, uncaring.
"She's not afraid of fights." Gu Fei said.
Jiang Cheng didn't speak again. Gu Miao really was a bit strange... Earlier when he'd hurt his hand, Gu Fei had carefully blocked her view. She was clearly afraid of blood.
But now he and Gu Fei had practically scoured the pavement clean, yet she watched with a blank expression. Jiang Cheng remembered how she hadn't even glanced up from her food when Gu Fei pinned someone to a tree.
What was up with this girl?
"You two should clean up a bit," Old Xu couldn't get anything out of them, so he pointed at their bags on the ground. "I happened to be here for a home visit. Let's talk about why you fought first."
Jiang Cheng was a little surprised. A homeroom teacher braving the bitter night wind for a home visit at 9 pm...he really didn't know what to say.
"Whose home are you visiting?" Gu Fei tidied his clothes, then tried to zip up and noticed the pull was gone. He looked over at Jiang Cheng.
Jiang Cheng glared back.
What are you looking at? I ate it!
"I've made it all the way here already. Whose home could I be visiting?" Old Xu sighed again. "Of course it's your home."
Gu Fei was silent for a moment before turning to walk back. "Then let's go."
"Wait," Old Xu apparently hadn't expected such straightforward agreement. "I still want to understand why you two fought."
"We were bored," Gu Fei looked back at him. "Are we going or what?"
Old Xu seemed unsure whether to visit first or resolve their fight first. He took a step forward, stopped, took a step back, paused to think, then took another step forward.
"I'm going home," Jiang Cheng wanted to clap a beat for him. "Thanks Head Teacher Xu."
He turned and walked towards the street before Old Xu could respond.
Behind him Gu Fei whistled. Jiang Cheng didn't look back - Gu Fei was probably summoning Gu Miao. Sure enough he immediately heard the sound of her skateboard wheels rolling on the ground.
He sighed softly. What a night...fantastic.
The card game at Li Baoguo's house was still going. But these men who spent their lives immersed at the card table seemed to have nothing left except the square foot in front of them. Curiosity and gossip couldn't compete with those dozen shuffling cards.
After the brief spectacle and discussion at lunchtime, Jiang Cheng had vanished from their awareness. No one even glanced up when he came home and went inside. Only Li Baoguo said, "You're back huh? We had delivery, want anything to eat?"
"Don't worry about me." Jiang Cheng said and went into his room.
He took off his jacket and looked it over. It was smudged with dirt and scraped in two spots.
Damn, he frowned, these were new clothes!
His face probably didn't look too great either. He paced the room twice but couldn't even find a mirror, so he took out his phone and tried turning it on.
Warmed by his body heat, the phone started up successfully.
He looked at his face in the front camera.
There was some slight swelling on his forehead, nothing too bad since his hair covered half of it. His lower lip had a small split, probably from hitting Gu Fei's zipper.
The rest was just minor scrapes.
He sighed again, unsure how he felt.
The fight had been a bit...reckless actually. He didn't usually brawl like that, rolling around in the muck. It felt more like he'd just been venting.
He wasn't even sure what he wanted the outcome to be with Gu Fei. He just wanted to fight, to tear and struggle, to exert himself, to break free of that invisible, intangible restraint weighing him down.
As for Gu Fei, whether affected by him or not, the guy who could one-handedly swing people around had ended up gracelessly tussling on the ground, even scraping palms. Fuck! How he wished Gu Fei's lackeys could've seen!
Hey guys, your boss is a street dragon rolling on the ground!
Jiang Cheng looked down at his hand. Blood had seeped through the bandage.
He rummaged in his backpack - he'd gotten some alcohol, cotton, and medicine from the community clinic yesterday. Luckily it was all still intact, uncrushed.
He unwrapped his hand and awkwardly rinsed it with his left hand, disinfecting it. The clumsiness of his left hand made him jab the wound several times, pain bringing tears to his eyes.
He really felt like crying. Although he'd always believed crying was pointless, ever since the holiday had started, a suppressed urge to find somewhere private and bawl his eyes out welled up periodically.
He felt like one day he should just go somewhere secluded and have a good long cry, really let it all out.
In the morning when Jiang Cheng got up, the overnight card game in the living room had finally ended. Two men were passed out on the couch while Li Baoguo snored thunderously in bed.
He didn't linger for even a second after washing up, just grabbed his backpack and left.
Before he even reached school, the delivery company called again: "It's been three days already. Tomorrow at the latest or we'll have to start charging storage fees!"
"Can you drop it off at my place?" Jiang Cheng sighed.
"We can, ¥200 to the building entrance," they said. "There's an extra fee if you want us to bring it upstairs."
Jiang Cheng didn't reply. He actually felt upset about how he was starting to feel pained over money.
"I think it's best if you pick it up yourself," they were pretty considerate. "Lots of motorized tricycles around here, shouldn't cost more than ¥100 to get it hauled back."
"Got it, thanks." Jiang Cheng said.
Saturday was tomorrow, good.
But as he thought about it he started to worry again. With his current room, fitting a bed and cabinet took up almost all the space. He'd have to squeeze the desk in. He had no idea where he'd put the stuff once he brought it back.
...Maybe his mom hadn't packed up too much after all.
He walked into the classroom wearing a face mask. The swelling on his forehead had gone down somewhat, and was half-hidden by his hair, so no one noticed anything off even as he sat down.
He didn't know what Old Xu had said to Gu Fei during the home visit last night, but Gu Fei had miraculously entered the classroom before the morning self-study bell.
Jiang Cheng glanced over and froze.
Gu Fei's face was uninjured, just some scraping on his jaw... What stunned Jiang Cheng was that the guy was wearing glasses!
What the fuck! Pretending to be a top student?
Jiang Cheng stared at him.
Strangely, no one else seemed surprised to see Gu Fei in glasses. So he probably...wore them often?
It reminded Jiang Cheng of Pan Zhi. Pan Zhi was also a bit nearsighted but refused to wear glasses.
"How could I wear glasses with grades like mine!" Pan Zhi had said. "I'd rather see blurry!"
Look at motivated Pan Zhi, that guy has aspirations and multiple pens...
Gu Fei walked over and tossed a bag on Jiang Cheng's desk before sitting down.
Jiang Cheng opened it and saw his sweater and homework inside.
Fuck! His homework!
He'd completely forgotten to take it back after the fight yesterday!
Getting in a brawl and having his homework copied by the same person, too damn embarrassing.
"Still swollen?" Gu Fei said from beside him.
Jiang Cheng looked over, trying hard to discern if his tone held apology or smugness, but failed. Gu Fei spoke as casually as commenting on the day of the week.
So he didn't respond.
"Da Fei!" Zhou Jing leaned onto their desk. "Da Fei!"
Gu Fei pushed his glasses up and looked at him.
"Da Fei?" Zhou Jing tilted his face. "Hey Da Fei..."
Gu Fei smacked the back of his head.
"How come you didn't come yesterday? Out partying?" Zhou Jing rubbed his head and asked.
"No." Gu Fei said.
"I thought you were skipping class again like last semester, off travelling." Zhou Jing said.
Gu Fei sighed and looked at him. "You think you can travel for just one day of skipped class?"
"...Good point, it's not enough time for just one day," Zhou Jing said. "Hey you..."
"Piss off." Gu Fei ended it simply.
Class today was no different than the first two days. The teacher lectured, students goofed off, perfectly peaceful and harmonious.
Gu Fei also acted the same as usual. First with the silly candy crash games, then earphones and videos once he got bored of the little red hearts.
Jiang Cheng couldn't help glancing over at his face several times.
Gu Fei, if you ignored his eyes, gave off a rather gentle impression. His clothing and styling were all quite comfortable designs and colors. With glasses on, he looked completely nerdy, like a real top student.
Jiang Cheng was truly somewhat shocked by this miraculous aura he had about him.
After looking several times, he finally put his attention back on the teacher. No matter how bad the teacher's lecture was, he had to listen. No matter if he was half asleep laying on the desk, he had to listen when it came to key points.
Jiang Cheng never admitted he was the type who could test well without studying. He was very clear that he had spent a lot of time on studying. This kind of classroom environment and study atmosphere really made him feel nervous.
He didn't think too highly of his grades at his previous school, but he definitely didn't want his grades to drop after coming to the No. 4 High.
In the last English class, Old Lu taught very passionately. Perhaps it was because the weekend was coming tomorrow, everyone in the classroom was a bit distracted. He had to yell to wake everyone up.
Jiang Cheng was quite serious, half laying on the desk taking notes.
"Let's talk about today's homework!" Near the end of class, Old Lu slapped the desk, "Your homework could be put in an exhibition! Such a simple homework but you all couldn't write it correctly, a hundred ways wrong!"
"There's not a hundred people in our class," Wang Xu replied.
The whole class laughed.
"You!" Old Lu pointed with his teaching stick, "The expression 'useless snack' is referring to you! If human organs degenerate you'd definitely only have a mouth left!"
Wang Xu pushed his desk a bit, somewhat annoyed.
"If you're unhappy then come to my office after class!" Old Lu yelled. Without waiting for Wang Xu's reaction, his teaching stick pointed in Jiang Cheng and the other's direction, poking forward, "Gu Fei!"
"Here," Gu Fei raised his head.
"Say, don't you have a problem! You copied the homework right? You copied it right!" Old Lu said in succession, "Did you copy it! Just say if you copied it! Did you copy it!"
Gu Fei waited a long time but didn't find a chance to reply.
"You copied homework! Do it with some skill okay! Okay!" Teacher Lu slapped the desk, "Copying without a single mistake! Not one mistake! Say it, whose did you copy!"
This time he did give Gu Fei a chance to reply.
Gu Fei was silent for a bit, then raised his finger and pointed at Zhou Jing: "His."
"Zhou Jing!" Teacher Lu immediately yelled, pointing at Zhou Jing, "You're so great! How about I add 'helpful to others' to your end of term assessment!"
Zhou Jing was frightened, he looked back and saw Gu Fei pointing at him. He opened and closed his mouth but didn't say anything.
Teacher Lu scolded and held onto the homework the whole time until the end of class. He waved his teaching stick, tucked it under his arm, and left the classroom.
"Damn," Zhou Jing looked back, "Whose did you copy?"
Gu Fei looked at him but didn't say anything.
After a while, Zhou Jing stood up, "Forget it, whatever."
After Zhou Jing left, Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Fei, not knowing what to say.
"Er Miao will be waiting at the school gate later," Gu Fei said while packing up his bag, "Go with her."
"Huh?" Jiang Cheng was stunned, "I just fought with her brother, I don't want to go with her."
"Go ahead and try," Gu Fei said.
"Fine, damn it," Jiang Cheng was a bit mad, "Then I'll try."
Gu Fei didn't speak. After a while he deeply breathed in, "Do me a favor, thanks."
"Oh, how hard for you," Jiang Cheng suddenly felt much better.
"Yes," Gu Fei said.