Chapter 20 - Chapter 20

Gu Fei usually avoided trouble and didn't like to meddle in other people's business. But in this part of town where he grew up, all kinds of trouble happened every day. All the melodramatic plotlines from TV dramas could be seen here, and were often more extreme. 

When he was bored, he would watch the hopeless struggles of people stuck at the bottom as if they were TV dramas. For a long time, these people who didn't seem to have any feelings inspired the songs he wrote for Ding Zhuxin.

You watch them despair, yet they live vigorously and laugh at you for being oversensitive.

Things like Li Baoguo being beaten all over the ground happened two or three times a month. The main character was sometimes the same person, sometimes different. It wasn't rare.

Normally, he would sit in the backseat of the car here and watch for a while.

But today, he couldn't just watch after that. After Jiang Cheng saw that the man really was Li Baoguo, his expression changed unpredictably. It was hard to say whether it was bewilderment or confusion.

If he was a little closer with Jiang Cheng, like he was with Wang Xu, he would definitely stop Jiang Cheng from going over there. 

This kind of situation usually didn't kill anyone. Anyway, neither side was good people, so whoever beat who wasn't being unjust. Breaking some bones and drawing some blood counted as teaching them a lesson. Sometimes it could even resolve some matters.

Jiang Cheng didn't say anything. He just silently turned and walked over there. Maybe because his relationship with Li Baoguo was so bizarre, he didn't look anxious, panicked, or angry.

Gu Fei yawned and slowly followed about ten meters behind. He took out his glasses and put them on.

Jiang Cheng didn't go pull them apart or even say a word. He threw his schoolbag against the wall and went over to elbow the back of the man kicking Li Baoguo in the head. 

Jiang Cheng's elbows were skilled, and he was pretty strong too. Gu Fei had experienced it before.

With this blow, the man shouted and turned around. Gu Fei recognized him as being from the steel factory. His nickname was Da*. As for whether this nickname was based on his actual body size, there was no way to verify. Anyway, these guys often came over to play cards, and normally didn't let others cheat while they cheated.

*T/N: Means 'big'.

Before Da could react, Jiang Cheng headbutted him right in the nose he had just turned over. 

Gu Fei instantly felt his own nose tingle a little.

Then Jiang Cheng grabbed Da by the collar and shoved him back forcefully. He stumbled and knocked into the two people behind him.

The few who had been beating Li Baoguo suddenly noticed the sneak attack and started cursing in brief confusion before quickly turning their attention to Jiang Cheng.

"F*ck! What the h*ll!" Someone cursed and swung a fist at Jiang Cheng.

To Gu Fei's surprise, Jiang Cheng didn't dodge at all. He went forward to meet the fist, and after it grazed past his temple, his own fist landed heavily on the man's left eye.

This angered the few people who hadn't figured out the situation yet. Several of them abandoned Li Baoguo curled up on the ground and swung their fists at Jiang Cheng.

Gu Fei frowned and looked around. The ground was surprisingly clean. If Jiang Cheng got beaten too badly, he didn't even have a brick around to help. 

"Stop hitting!" Li Baoguo curled up on the ground, covering his head and shouting, "Stop hitting!"

None of the few going for Jiang Cheng paid him any attention. Although they didn't have any weapons in hand, they were all big guys, and one punch from them would be enough to injure someone. 

One, two, three, four. Gu Fei counted four people surrounding Jiang Cheng, with another hopping around outside.

But before that guy could hop three times, one of them flew out of the circle and fell to the ground. 

Jiang Cheng had kicked him out.

Right after, Jiang Cheng rushed out too and stomped on the guy's stomach as he lay on the ground.

"F*ck!" Da's face was covered in blood as he shouted and jumped up to kick Jiang Cheng in the back. The stance looked awful, but he didn't hold back on force.  

Jiang Cheng stumbled forward several steps before stopping. He raised a hand and wiped the corner of his mouth.

When he turned around, Da was taking a running start for another kick. Jiang Cheng just stood there without moving. After Da jumped up, he suddenly bent down and charged forward, ramming Da with his shoulder...

Da didn't even make a sound as he fell to the ground, mouth wide open as he gasped for breath, his face twisted in pain.

Gu Fei pushed up his glasses. If he wasn't mistaken, Jiang Cheng hadn't actually hit the critical area dead on. Otherwise, Da should have passed out from the pain already.

Did he hit at an angle, or could Jiang Cheng still control his emotions and grasp the right level of force even in this situation?

But because the way Da fell looked so miserable, his companions hesitated for a moment. 

That was how these guys were. Beating someone like Li Baoguo, each was bold as a boss. Touch a tough spot, and they instantly got timid. Didn't dare to duel one-on-one, had to wait for someone else to take the lead if ganging up.

In that slight moment of hesitation from them, Jiang Cheng charged at the frontmost one again and slammed into him heavily. Maybe academically inclined students were good at learning---he jumped up before slamming into the guy, learning from Da, but his stance was much more elegant.

And he used his shoulder, jumping up and ramming the shoulder right under the guy's chin.

The man was immediately knocked back by the blow, bouncing off the ground. It wasn't clear if he had bitten his tongue or cut his lip, but when he moved his hand away from his mouth, it was covered in blood.

After two were down, the remaining three probably felt threatened. And looking at the numbers, they still had the absolute advantage. So the three rushed Jiang Cheng together.

Jiang Cheng was probably injured somewhere when they had surrounded him earlier. This time he didn't dodge, and was surrounded by them again.

Gu Fei could clearly see several punches land on his stomach and waist. He sighed and walked across the street. 

He had just stepped off the sidewalk when he saw someone tackled down by Jiang Cheng, pinned to the ground and punched in the face. Two blows even landed on the neck. The person struggled, coughing and howling.

The other two couldn't pull Jiang Cheng away, so they started kicking him from behind. After taking a few kicks, Jiang Cheng grabbed back onto one of the legs and yanked hard, then pressed the leg down as he turned around.

That guy didn't have good flexibility. Being forced into such a big split was obviously too much. He yelled hoarsely, wanting to kick out but unable to exert any strength. He could only flail his arms at Jiang Cheng, but that didn't accomplish anything either.

The one still standing raised his leg then, and Gu Fei could tell he was aiming at the back of Jiang Cheng's head.

"Hey," Gu Fei called out and took out a dictionary from his schoolbag.

When the guy looked over, Gu Fei smashed the dictionary viciously into his face.

English-Chinese dictionary. No one dared skip English class with Old Lu without one. Not expensive and very practical. Hardcover too. Gu Fei had never opened it, so it still retained that solidness from when it was new. It flew over and hit the face like a brick.

After being whacked with the dictionary, they all stopped. And looked at Gu Fei.

Gu Fei didn't say anything else either. He went to pick up the dictionary, dusted it off on his pants, and put it back in his bag.

At this time, Jiang Cheng also released that man's leg and stood up.

"You f*cker..." The one who got hit with the dictionary glared at Jiang Cheng, seeming to want to say something but getting cut off by Jiang Cheng.

"Anything else?" Jiang Cheng asked.

The ones standing and sitting on the ground were stunned speechless together. No one said anything.

"Then I'm leaving." Jiang Cheng turned around to grab his schoolbag and walked toward the street entrance. 

"You know him?" Someone asked Gu Fei.

Gu Fei looked at him. "Break it up."

It hurt.

His whole body f*cking hurt. He couldn't even tell exactly where.

Jiang Cheng gritted his teeth. Every step forward felt difficult. 

But it also felt pretty awesome, like finishing a marathon, sore and aching all over. But every breath felt crisp, cool all the way to the intestines.

He had originally wanted to ask why Li Baoguo was getting beaten. But after this fight, he didn't want to know anymore. He just knew the man lived like this, crawling on the ground like this. Neither he nor Li Baoguo himself could change it.

It was very discouraging, and also hopeless.

Irritation and hatred stem from these things.

He wasn't a particularly great person. He didn't want to save anyone, or change anyone. He just thought this man was his biological father, and he couldn't erase that fact. So he tried to adapt. 

But while he could try to adapt to Li Baoguo's vulgarity, sloppiness, straight male chauvinism, gambling addiction, alcohol addiction, he realized Li Baoguo showed more than just these traits. Many other things he couldn't accept or adapt to were slowly revealing themselves before his eyes.

Stealing things. Getting beaten all over the street.

What else? How much more?

Someone behind him whistled.

Without turning around, he knew it was Gu Fei. So he didn't turn. It would make his neck sore.

"Go to the hospital and get checked out," Gu Fei said from behind.

"No need." Jiang Cheng's voice was muffled.

"Want to make a bet?" Gu Fei still didn't catch up, following from the back.

"On what?" Jiang Cheng asked.  

"Your ribs are broken," Gu Fei said. "Go get examined. If broken, you'll help me with homework and let me copy on exams for a week. If not, I'll treat you to a meal."

Jiang Cheng stopped.

Gu Fei walked up beside him. "Are they broken?"

"Don't know. Never broke them before, no experience," Jiang Cheng glanced at him. "You seem experienced. Do you break them a lot?"

Gu Fei laughed. "I should've gotten that guy to kick your neck broken just now."

"Thanks for that, by the way," Jiang Cheng said.

His ribs were probably broken. Jiang Cheng felt that usually when getting hit in the stomach fighting and stuff, it had never hurt this badly for so long afterward.

"Where's the nearest hospital?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"There's a mining hospital," Gu Fei said. "Five minutes by taxi."

"Right," Jiang Cheng walked forward a few steps, then turned back with effort to bite out a "Thanks."

"You're so polite, I want to bow and tell you no need for thanks." Gu Fei said.

Jiang Cheng didn't say anything else. After walking out to the street entrance, he didn't have to wait long before a taxi came by. He waved it down.

"I'm about to go off duty," the driver said. "You can call another car."

"I need to go to the hospital. I might die in the streets otherwise," Jiang Cheng looked at him. "I probably have acute enteritis." 

The driver stared at him for two seconds. "Get in, I'll take you to the hospital before going off duty."

"Thanks." Jiang Cheng got in the car.

The instant he sat in the backseat, the pain almost made him cry out. The change in posture made the right ribs hurt as if punched again.

"Got in a fight, huh?" The driver looked back at him through the rearview mirror as he drove. "Acute enteritis wouldn't hurt your face."

"Is my face injured?" Jiang Cheng asked. He knew his mouth was hurt, he could taste blood.

The driver laughed. "It's injured, but doesn't look too serious. Won't ruin your looks."

"Oh." Jiang Cheng responded.  

"Young people nowadays, don't be so impulsive," the driver said. "Even if you don't care what happens to yourself, your family will still worry, right?"

"Mm." Jiang Cheng forced a smile at the corner of his mouth.

The corner was probably injured too. Even that light tug made the pain spread to his ear.

Family would worry too, right?

Is that so?

What family?

The family he used to have wouldn't know about his current situation. He never let them know when he got into fights before either. And now...his biological dad had been right there, curled up covering his head without a peep the whole time.

He didn't even look at Jiang Cheng when he left.

Who would worry?


At the hospital, he went to the ER. Not many people.

After telling the doctor his ribs might be broken, the doctor pressed on his chest and back with his hands. "Anywhere hurt?"

Jiang Cheng seriously focused on the sensations. "No."

"Doesn't hurt?" The doctor said. "Let me see."

Jiang Cheng unzipped his jacket, then looked down and was about to lift his sweater when he suddenly saw bloodstains on it. He froze. "F*ck?"

The doctor lifted his shirt. "This is a cut wound, right? Doesn't seem to be any fractures from the outside... Let me listen for bone friction sounds."  

"Oh." Jiang Cheng was a bit confused about how his clothes weren't torn but he was injured enough to bleed so much.

The doctor examined him thoroughly before pressing beside the wound again. "Do the bones hurt?"

"The flesh hurts." Jiang Cheng answered.  

"No fractures," the doctor said. "Get an x-ray if you're still unsure."

Jiang Cheng relaxed. "No need."

The wound on his ribs wasn't serious either. The doctor treated it and taped some gauze on, then he was good to go.

Jiang Cheng sat in the hospital chair spacing out for a long time. The pain all over his body slowly subsided quite a bit. The explosive soreness from earlier had eased off.  

He reached under his clothes again to carefully poke and prod along his ribs. Nothing hurt anymore.


Gu Fei that psycho, speaking so definitively as if he had ample experience, scaring him into going to the hospital when he hadn't wanted to endure it!

But knowing his ribs weren't broken, his first reaction was surprisingly that at least it wouldn't affect the basketball tournament. How wonderful that he had such a collective sense of honor. Must be Old Xu's subtle and profound influence.

His phone rang in his schoolbag. He took it out and was stunned when he saw the number on screen.

It was his mom's call. Although he had deleted the numbers of all four family members, he couldn't erase his mom's from his mind in such a short time.

"Hello?" He answered the call.

"Xiao Cheng?" His mom's voice came through. "I haven't contacted you for a while, there's been lots of family matters. How are you doing now?"

Jiang Cheng was silent for a very long time without answering. He didn't know what to say, or what he could say. His mind was a mess, just buzzing.

"Did you get the things I mailed you?" His mom asked again.

"Got them." Jiang Cheng breathed in with his eyes closed.

"How are things with you and's family?" His mom asked.

"Great," Jiang Cheng bit his lip. The pain from the corner tugged and made him frown. "After all he's my biological dad."

His mom laughed softly. "That's good. I was a little worried at first. Felt he was pretty uncouth and was afraid you..."

"I'm fine." Jiang Cheng said.

His mom went silent on the other end, seeming to be looking for conversation topics.

"I really am good," Jiang Cheng lowered his head to look at a clump of mud smeared on his shoe somehow. "Don't worry."

"Xiao Cheng..." His mom called his name and sighed again.

"I'm living really well now, adapted pretty well too. I'm busy now," Jiang Cheng said. "Gotta go first."

He hung up before his mom could speak.

After spacing out and staring at the darkened phone screen a while longer, he got up and left the hospital.

"I hadn't planned on coming," Yi Jing stood in front of the checkout counter, holding her schoolbag, "but I happened to be passing by... Head Teacher Xu said you guys have a basketball game coming up, I figured you probably wouldn't have time to study for your midterms, right?"

"Whether I have time or not, I'm not going to study," Gu Fei poured her a cup of hot water, putting a slice of lemon in it, "You're more worried than Old Xu."  

"Not really," Yi Jing smiled somewhat bashfully, "I'm just free."

Gu Fei also smiled: "Okay then, or you could let me copy your homework today, I could..."

"Can't copy," Yi Jing said right away, "If you don't understand I can teach you."

Gu Fei wanted to say he could just copy Jiang Cheng's, but still took out his textbook from his bag: "Fine, then you can teach me English, I only plan on doing the English homework today."

"Alright," Yi Jing sighed, "The only homework you dare not skip is English huh."

"Yeah," Gu Fei stood up and propped up the small table next to him, "No one dares to owe Old Lu homework."

Yi Jing took a stool and sat down, taking his workbook and starting to go over the problems with him.  

Gu Fei was a bit absent-minded, whenever it came to studying, he would be absent-minded, even if Old Lu was sitting in front of him right now, he would still be spacing out.

Yi Jing was Head Teacher Xu's capable assistant, just as enthusiastic about this class as Head Teacher Xu, even when Wang Xu had angered her to the point of crying twice during self-study period just a week after she took on this role last semester, she remained steadfast.

"So this is..." Yi Jing wrote on the scrap paper with her pen, "See..."

The curtain at the door was suddenly flung open, Gu Fei turned his head to see Jiang Cheng standing there holding the curtain open.  

"Jiang Cheng?" Yi Jing turned around, looking at him somewhat surprised.

"Oh," Jiang Cheng responded, seeming a bit awkward as he pointed outside, "Or should I..."

"No, it's okay, did you need Gu Fei for something?" Yi Jing quickly said, also feeling somewhat awkward as she stood up, "I was just going over some homework with him... If you need him I can leave first... Or you can teach him?"

"Huh?" Jiang Cheng was confused.

"Teacher Lu said your English grades are great," Yi Jing smiled, "I'll get going then."

"Hey, you..." Jiang Cheng didn't get to finish as Yi Jing already squeezed past him somewhat awkwardly.

"Went to the hospital?" Gu Fei asked.

"Yeah," Jiang Cheng walked in, hesitating by the shelves, "Treat me to a meal."

"It's not broken?" Gu Fei was a bit surprised.

"Why do you sound so disappointed that it's not broken?" Jiang Cheng said, "If you want it broken so bad come over here and break it yourself."

"What do you want to eat?" Gu Fei asked.

"Don't know, anything's fine," Jiang Cheng frowned, "I'm starving, annoyed."

"Alright," Gu Fei stood up, thinking for a moment, "I'll take you to eat my favorite food."


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