Chapter 33 - Chapter 33

After signing the verbal confidentiality agreement, the two fell silent. 

Jiang Cheng's question, Gu Fei neither admitted nor denied. After Jiang Cheng "concluded", he still neither admitted nor denied. 

His attitude was a bit ambiguous, but Jiang Cheng felt it was enough. His question was just a bold attempt to protect his own secret, like an attack.

There are so many people in this world who want to hide themselves, and so many things that need to be hidden.

Gu Fei opened the window a crack, lit a cigarette, and got ready to continue retouching the photos. 

After a couple puffs, Jiang Cheng reached over, "Give me one."

"You usually smoke, right?" Gu Fei put the cigarette box in his hand, "How come you keep asking me? What about when I'm not around?"

"I'm out," Jiang Cheng lit the cigarette, "I just don't when you're not around."

Gu Fei opened the window crack a bit more. 

"It's cold," Jiang Cheng shrank back into the sofa.

"Then go to the kitchen, turn on the vent and smoke there," Gu Fei clicked the mouse, enlarging Jiang Cheng's face on the screen.

In fact, for clothing photos, he was too lazy to process the model's face, or he'd just casually touch it up at the end. For many photos, if he felt the face didn't turn out well, he'd just crop it out completely.

But Jiang Cheng's face was really good, it kept him from fixing the clothing details and made him fix the face first instead.

The small sofa was next to the desk, with Jiang Cheng basically facing him. He couldn't see the computer screen, so Gu Fei didn't need to worry that Jiang Cheng would feel awkward seeing him meticulously retouch the model's face before the clothes.

"Gu Fei," Jiang Cheng flicked some ash into the small ashtray on the desk. 

"Hmm," Gu Fei pushed the ashtray closer to him, "Full name again, huh?"

"Well, I was begging for help earlier, so I had to butter you up," Jiang Cheng smiled, cigarette dangling, "I have a question for you."

"Ask away," Gu Fei stared at the computer screen. Actually, there wasn't much on Jiang Cheng's face that needed altering. His facial features were beautiful and his skin was in great condition.

Jiang Cheng glanced over at the bookshelf, "That score I saw last time, you wrote it, right?"

"Hmm?" Gu Fei was taken aback and also looked over at the bookshelf. 

"So many composition books, music theory books, if you say again that it wasn't you," Jiang Cheng said, "that would be too dishonest."

Gu Fei laughed. After a while he leaned back in his chair, "Yes, I wrote it."

"That's so unexpected," Jiang Cheng swirled his cup, "An illiterate who can write music..." 

"I'm not illiterate," Gu Fei corrected him.

"A bad student who can write music," Jiang Cheng glanced at him, "Got any recordings?"

"No," Gu Fei answered decisively. 

In fact he had quite a few, saved on his computer. But he basically didn't listen to them. Saying he didn't have any wasn't really a lie. The only one he occasionally listened to was the one Ding Zhuxin sang. 

If it was anyone else asking about these things, he wouldn't have cared. Listen if you want. But with Jiang Cheng, he was reluctant to show them.

Just because Jiang Cheng could hum it out after a glance at the score, he didn't want to lose face.

"Come on, bro," Jiang Cheng was probably quite bored, he looked eager with the cigarette dangling as he said, "I'll keep it secret."

"Keep your ass secret," Gu Fei laughed. He hesitated briefly before opening the media player and looking through it. He found it and hit play.

When the guitar sounded, Jiang Cheng leaned back into the sofa. He didn't know how to play guitar, but he'd always liked the sound. Though the things he liked, guitar, flute, whistle, his mom thought them beneath notice. 

Next came the piano coming in.


He'd heard and played too much. After passing level 8 in middle school he couldn't stand laying a finger on the piano again.

His rotten behavior should have greatly disappointed his mom...Shen Yiqing. Later when relatives and friends came over hoping to hear him play, Shen Yiqing would turn them down, disappointment written all over her face.

Let her be disappointed then. Anyway he didn't want to play.

The prelude was great, conveying the feeling of confusion it aimed to express.

He couldn't help glancing over at Gu Fei. A person like Gu Fei didn't seem like someone who would have such moods. 

The low, husky, lazy humming of a woman rose up. Jiang Cheng immediately recognized the voice.

"Ding Zhuxin?" He looked at Gu Fei in surprise.

"Mm," Gu Fei gave a single nod, still retouching the photo, eyes glued to the screen.

Jiang Cheng couldn't resist peeking over. He saw half his own face and chest, the pulled open collar.  

"F*ck," he quickly sat back on the sofa. Watching someone else edit his own photos felt too weird. Though it was the face he'd seen in the mirror for over ten years, it felt awkward like peeping on a stranger.

"This one came out especially good," Gu Fei looked at him.

"Oh," Jiang Cheng nodded, sipping his lemon water to Ding Zhuxin's husky, languid singing.

"When I miss a step I'll start to fly
Lost while rising, hear you say this world is empty
You count one two three, shatter the past, vanish 
There's wind blowing, broken journey back, do you see me singing... You say one two three turn around, listen to the erased panic..."

The song was confused, the lyrics too. But at "do you see me singing" Jiang Cheng glanced up at Gu Fei. 

That word "see" suddenly gave him the feeling Ding Zhuxin had wanted earlier about "mute".

A silent oppression.

"Who wrote the lyrics?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"Guess," Gu Fei had one leg bent, foot on the chair, chin on his knee as he clicked the mouse. "Guess right and you get candy."

"You," Jiang Cheng said. "Lyrics and composition were you right?"

Gu Fei grabbed his discarded coat and took out a handful of candy, setting it on the table before Jiang Cheng. 

"Are you in a band with Ding Zhuxin?" Jiang Cheng was a bit surprised, unwrapping a caramel to eat.

With lyrics like these, even without analyzing them deeply, he could still grasp the subtle and sensitive feelings conveyed. Content like this was hard to associate with Gu Fei.

He stared at Gu Fei. What was in this outwardly calm person's heart?

"No, she just brought me along to play around before." Gu Fei said.

"Pretty interesting," Jiang Cheng said. "Wouldn't have guessed you were into this stuff. No surprise you can play guitar, most juvenile delinquents can strum a few chords to show off... "

"I can't play guitar," Gu Fei said.

"Yo, a juvenile delinquent who can't play guitar," Jiang Cheng said. "That's like having a bum leg when chasing girls."

Gu Fei just looked at him without responding. 

"...Oh," Jiang Cheng raised his glass to him. 

"Are you not in a good mood?" Gu Fei asked.

"Hmm?" Jiang Cheng took a sip of water.

"You're really chatty." Gu Fei said.

Jiang Cheng was silent for a while before putting his glass down on the table, "The one who just had a fight with Li Baoguo, you know that woman?"

"I know her," Gu Fei answered.

"Li Baoguo's ex-wife?" Jiang Cheng asked. "The one he beat away."

"The one he beat away, but not his ex-wife," Gu Fei lit another cigarette, "Still his current wife. They're not divorced."

"Oh..." Jiang Cheng was taken aback, leaning back into the sofa and closing his eyes, "Fuck, what a mess of trash."

"She hasn't been back for a long time, haven't seen her once in years." Gu Fei said. 

Gu Fei was probably trying to comfort him, saying this woman generally wouldn't show up, not even once in years.

But Jiang Cheng felt like nothing could salvage his mood now. No matter how many years she showed up, even if she never appeared again his whole life, she was still his own mother.

Unbelievable like Li Baoguo, yet genuine flesh and blood.

He really wanted to call Shen Yiqing and ask what on earth made her decide to adopt a child from a family like this. 

"Brother Cheng," Gu Fei called him. "Come here, I'll tell you something."

"What?" Jiang Cheng stood up and walked over to him.

"For tomorrow's shoot," Gu Fei pointed at the screen, "pay attention to your arms, keep them in a bit more..."

"Fuck," only now did Jiang Cheng see clearly what he looked like in that bare-all outfit. He really couldn't take it. Pointing at the photo he said, "At your retouch speed, how dare you take jobs?"

Gu Fei smiled, "No, my retouch is very fast, it's as fast as flowing water..."

"And this is your assembly line? It's been going on so long and it's still this picture. Where did the water flow to?" Jiang Cheng really couldn't comprehend it. "This picture's a reservoir!"

"I've already fixed up a bunch of others. I'm just bringing this one back out to tell you about it." Gu Fei said.

"Why must it be this one? Don't I have arms in the other shots?" Jiang Cheng sighed.

Gu Fei laughed for a while before also sighing, "This one is really good. I think Boss Ding will use it as the main promo, might even send you one as a gift."

"Piss off." Jiang Cheng said.

"Did you get what I just told you?" Gu Fei asked.

"Got it," Jiang Cheng grabbed a chair and sat behind him, "Keep my arms in more."

"Then I'll keep going," Gu Fei said.

Jiang Cheng watched as his mouse clicked around the various options next to the photo, the picture lightening and darkening, zooming in and out. He couldn't tell the difference from before even after Gu Fei was done. He only knew Gu Fei was indeed in "flowing water" mode. 

Seeing himself posing and expressing in various ways under Gu Fei's adjustments, it felt a little unbearable. He kept worrying those crystal clear photos might expose some eye gunk or nose hair he wasn't aware of...

He got up and returned to the sofa, pulling out his notebook from his backpack.

"Not watching anymore?" Gu Fei asked.

"Not watching," Jiang Cheng said. "Got another table?"  

"Doing homework?" Gu Fei turned to look at him.

"Yeah," Jiang Cheng nodded, "Got exams coming up, need to review."

Gu Fei kept looking at him. His hands stopped moving too. After quite a while he finally asked, "You still need to review?"

"Of course," Jiang Cheng looked at him puzzled, "There's exams coming up, why wouldn't I review?"

"Oh," Gu Fei tossed the mouse aside and stood up. He shoved the monitor and keyboard aside to one end of the desk, unplugged the speakers from under the desk and put them on top of the computer case, clearing half the desk for him.

"Don't you usually have a desk to do homework at?" Jiang Cheng put his books and notebook on the table.

"If I have time at the shop I'll copy then. No time then I don't do it." Gu Fei replied. 

"Oh..." Jiang Cheng was reminded that Gu Fei was a complete failure at school.

For Jiang Cheng, homework wasn't something he particularly hated. He could do it decently after all. And every time he put decent effort into it.

In elementary school he didn't like doing homework much, but discipline at home was very strict. Not doing homework had severe consequences, so he gradually developed the habit of diligently finishing it so he could go play wildly afterwards.

On the other hand, his twin younger brothers never gave anyone headaches over homework.  

So genes are different. Genes are genes after all.

If he hadn't been adopted, if he grew up under Li Baoguo, then he would be like Li Baoguo and Li Hui.

He sighed softly and brought his thoughts back to continue doing homework.

In the intervals of scribbling away, he could see Gu Fei's hands on the mouse. They really looked nice.

Gu Fei couldn't play guitar, but he probably could play piano, though Jiang Cheng didn't know his skill level.

Jiang Cheng liked watching fingers dance across the keys. That had been his only enjoyment back when he practiced piano. The only motivation to play a piece well was wanting his fingers to dance more beautifully.

When he was close to finishing the homework, Gu Fei's hands left the mouse. He'd probably finished processing the photos.

"Done writing?" Gu Fei asked.

"Almost," Jiang Cheng kept writing as he asked, "Want to copy?"

"Help me copy?" Gu Fei asked back.

"At least save some face once in a while, yeah?" Jiang Cheng glanced at him.

"Then I won't copy," Gu Fei stretched leisurely. "I'm tired. You keep writing, I'll go shower."

"Oh," Jiang Cheng acknowledged.

Despite homework being a big buzzkill, after Gu Fei left the room, he still couldn't help having some shameless thoughts.

And it wasn't only about Gu Fei. Just that word "shower" from Gu Fei...After all, he had watched his share of videos. In the atmosphere between them after sharing secrets, that word packed quite the punch.

What's more, he couldn't stand that when Gu Fei came back into the room after showering, wearing pajamas, he immediately sprang up again.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuuuuck.

"You showering?" Gu Fei opened the closet and took out a box. "I've got old pajamas, and underwear still in the package..."

"Great." Jiang Cheng quickly grabbed the box and turned to leave.

"There's three in there," Gu Fei said behind him.

Jiang Cheng flashed open the box, took one out, then tossed the box back to him before leaving the room.

If this wasn't at Gu Fei's home, with his mom and sister in the house, he really wanted to take care of business in the bathroom. He hadn't done much of that activity since coming here, with Li Baoguo liable to push the door open anytime, and roaches and spiders passing through the toilet...

Thoughts swirling, after showering he suddenly realized Gu Fei hadn't brought him a towel. He hesitated briefly before using his damp clothes to hurriedly wipe himself down.

After putting on the underwear he painfully realized again he had rushed off without taking pajamas. 

"Fuck me," he picked up the clothes he'd changed out of, already wet and now more damp from wiping.

After an intense mental battle he steeled his resolve. Biting his teeth he opened the bathroom door. Was it that big a deal to come out in underwear after a shower to get back to the room? What was there to feel guilty about?

Even if he was, and Gu Fei was, it wasn't like they had to fuck just because they both were.

But before he could walk out brimming with confidence, he saw a set of folded pajamas on the chair by the bathroom door.

Gu Fei's care for others really was angelic at times...He grabbed the clothes and swiftly put them on, instantly relieved.

Pushing open Gu Fei's door, the computer on the desk had been turned off. Gu Fei sat cross-legged on the bed playing on his phone.

"I..." Jiang Cheng rather awkwardly walked over to the sofa.

"You sleep inside," Gu Fei spoke without looking up. "Don't sleep on the sofa."

"Why?" Jiang Cheng thought it quite odd.

"Gu Miao sleepwalks sometimes and comes in to sleep on the sofa," Gu Fei said. "You're in her spot, she'll be scared if she sees you."

"She still sleepwalks?" Jiang Cheng was surprised.

"Not often, but she was excited you came today," Gu Fei put his phone down to look at him. "I'm a little worried."

"Alright," Jiang Cheng was about to say he'd sleep in the living room, but felt that was too obvious. So he nodded, "You sleep inside."

"Hmm?" Gu Fei didn't understand.

"This bed," Jiang Cheng pointed to his bed. Gu Fei's bedroom bed had a frame, with the headboard and foot sealed shut, like old Chinese beds, though the design was very stylish and modern. But it still gave a strong sense of privacy. "I'll sleep outside."

"Okay," Gu Fei moved inside, switching the pillows and blankets out for him.

"Why'd you buy a bed like this?" Jiang Cheng sat on the bed edge. "Makes you feel safe?"

"To block Gu Miao," Gu Fei pointed to the foot of the bed. "Sometimes she comes in without knocking and can see the bed right away. I can't cover anything up if I'm doing something on the bed. If I lock the door she'll get angry when she can't open it."

"...Oh." Jiang Cheng couldn't help glancing back at him.

Gu Fei looked back seriously.

"Damn," Jiang Cheng laughed. Although the topic was a bit inappropriate, he still found it really funny when he thought about it.

"Having a little sister like this is so tiring," Gu Fei also laughed for a while, "I must have done something wrong to her in my previous life."

"No way," Jiang Cheng leaned against the headboard and pulled the quilt over him, "it's just because you're a good brother."  

"Is that so," Gu Fei lowered his head and continued playing with his phone.

"Yeah, although you always play stupid games..." Jiang Cheng glanced at his phone screen and saw that today Gu Fei was not playing his usual dumb match-3 game, probably because he was in a bad mood, "I used to have two younger brothers."

"Two?" Gu Fei turned his head in surprise.

"Yeah, twins, two years younger than me," Jiang Cheng propped a pillow against his back, "I find them annoying whenever I see them, and they find me annoying too. I haven't said a word to them for a long time before coming here..."

"Probably just different personalities," Gu Fei said.  

"Yeah, my whole family has different personalities from me," Jiang Cheng said.

The two fell silent and stopped talking.

But this time the silence in the room didn't make Jiang Cheng feel awkward again. After spacing out for a while, he took out his phone and started chatting with Pan Zhi.

-Grandpa, do you still remember Huang Hui from Class 117?

-Are you finally ready to make your move?

-No, I just wanted to say she's dating that asshole Liang Zhiyong now, I'm heartbroken.  

-They just got together, you still have a chance, go get in the middle of them.

-That's what I thought too, I'm considering which one would be easier to hook up with.

Jiang Cheng laughed at his phone for a long time. Gu Fei glanced over at him.

"My buddy," Jiang Cheng said while laughing, "got his heart broken early."

"The one who went to the gym with you during the winter break?" Gu Fei asked.

"Yeah," Jiang Cheng nodded and laughed again, "that dumbass."

After the laugh there was silence again. The two continued playing on their phones. Although Jiang Cheng thought being in this position leaning against the headboard would make him extremely awkward and anxious, surprisingly this was the most comfortable "before bedtime" he's had in a long while.

After a while, Gu Fei chuckled lightly on his side. 

Jiang Cheng looked over at him, and he passed his phone over: "Did you check the forum recently?"

"No time," Jiang Cheng took his phone, "is it about the competition?"

"Yeah," Gu Fei nodded with a smile.

Jiang Cheng took a look at the screen. The school forum was quite lively, with many clicks and replies on the posts. He skimmed the titles.

- OMG my crush Da Fei is so hot I'm dyingggg

- Who's this cutie! Details please!  

- Who said Class 8 are weaklings come out and I'll beat you up!!!

- Hotties pantsing, lots of pics, click at your own risk

- Can we please discuss tactics...

He smiled. Judging by the title styles, his schoolmates seemed much more adorable than he thought: "Did you reply?"

"Of course I did," Gu Fei said. 

"What's your id?" Jiang Cheng asked while scrolling down.

"Fancy Handsome," Gu Fei said.

Jiang Cheng choked and turned his head away coughing for a while before turning back: "The fuck?"

"It's a secret," Gu Fei said, "nobody knows it's me."

"It better stay secret. Your 'Cute Little Bunny' can probably be blamed on Gu Miao if exposed," Jiang Cheng tsked, "If people find out about this id, your cool image will instantly crumble."

Gu Fei just smiled without responding.

- I'm not seeing things, but those two really seem to have some...chemistry! Like-minded please chime in

When Jiang Cheng got to this post with the small attached pics, he could tell with one glance that it was about him and Gu Fei. 

...Forums are too scary.


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