Chapter 38 - Chapter 38

This set of clothes exemplifying a crazy primitive man was probably not the main theme. After Gu Fei took a few photos, he let Jiang Cheng go change clothes.  

In the back room, he found all the scattered wooden buttons that Jiang Cheng had shot off and put them back on the table.   

Thinking about it, he rubbed his arms again. That hit on his arm was really not light. He felt that at least there would be a large bruise. He sighed. It had been a long time since someone left a mark on his body. In just half a semester, Jiang Cheng had bitten him once and chased him with a slingshot.  

But... he stretched lazily. At the moment, he was in a very good mood.   

Only Li Yan and Ding Zhuxin knew the details of his past. He didn't like to mention this past to others. It made him very uncomfortable. He was also not used to receiving sympathy and comfort from others.   

But now he had told Jiang Cheng, and suddenly he felt very relaxed.  

He didn't know if it was like an exchange of secrets after seeing Jiang Cheng's secret, or if he just wanted to find someone to talk to.  

Jiang Cheng didn't show obvious sympathy or comfort him very well, but it made him feel quite comfortable.  

He wasn't teasing Jiang Cheng. At first he really was in low spirits, and later he really couldn't help laughing while listening to Jiang Cheng's so-called comfort.

"What is this stuff?" Jiang Cheng came in after changing.  

"I feel like you ask that once for every set of clothes," Gu Fei said with a smile. 

"Does Ding Zhuxin have her own brand? Is the brand called 'What Stuff Is This'?" Jiang Cheng spread his arms to display the clothes he was wearing. "What kind of feeling is this supposed to be?"

This set was also coarse hemp. The pants were loose pants, but countless slits had been cut vertically along the entire pants. Long and short, you could see the legs through the large and small broken holes when walking.   

The top was a normal shirt, but the sleeves were cut off, and the two sleeves were like long gloves wrapped around the arms.

"It looks pretty good," Gu Fei looked at it through the camera lens, "you can get a very stubborn feeling in this outfit."

"Okay," Jiang Cheng turned and walked towards the set. "Tell me more about this stubborn feeling."

When Jiang Cheng turned around, Gu Fei noticed that there were several long slits on the back of these clothes. When moving, the firm erector spinae muscles could be seen very clearly... Gu Fei cleared his throat.  

He had just talked about such a miserable family history, and now he was reacting to someone else's back. It really was spring, and this youth was about to go into heat.

Gu Fei turned around pretending to adjust the camera, and pulled at his pants. He was wearing thick sweatpants today, it probably wouldn't show. He didn't want to keep going to the bathroom to resolve matters.

The erector spinae, commonly known as the sexy back muscles.  

Thinking about this, suddenly all aesthetics were gone.

"Raise your arms," after taking two shots of him standing still with his arms hanging, Gu Fei said, "Both arms up... not a surrender pose, like shielding the sun..."

"I never shield the sun," Jiang Cheng raised his right arm and blocked his forehead, "you can just say a wiping sweat pose."

"Well, put the other arm a little lower, one up and one down, reveal your eyes," Gu Fei said, "Okay, stay still, I'll find an angle."

Jiang Cheng stood still: "Do you want a disdainful stare?"

"Just like when you shot me with the slingshot," Gu Fei adjusted the distance. Jiang Cheng's eyes always naturally carried an aura of disdain. With this emphasis, it was very imposing, disdainful... no, it was actually quite attractive. He cleared his throat again, bent down a little, and pressed the shutter, "Very good."

"Done?" Jiang Cheng looked at him.  

"Lower it a bit, I'll take another full body shot showing up to your mouth." Gu Fei said.

"Okay." Jiang Cheng continued to hold up his arms.

Gu Fei stepped back a few steps and pressed the shutter: "Turn around again, side profile, no action needed."

Jiang Cheng did as he was told.

After shooting, he went out to change clothes. Gu Fei pulled at his pants again. Erector spinae, erector spinae, erector spinae...

Today's number of outfits was about the same as yesterday's. But because they were much more skilled, even though they were delayed by their fighting and exchanging secrets, they finished earlier than yesterday.  

Gu Fei took him in his small mantou car to a nearby shop that was decent and had a bowl of noodles.

After eating the noodles and driving back, Gu Fei didn't forget to say again: "Remember to write my self-criticism for me."

"No," Jiang Cheng looked at the back of his head, "when did I agree to write it for you?"

"You don't need to write too much, it's uncomfortable to read too long when reciting it," Gu Fei said. "You probably don't have experience reciting self-criticisms to the whole school right?"

"...No," Jiang Cheng sighed. "And no experience cleaning the toilet for a week either."

"Just sweep casually, the toilets are cleaned by janitors on a regular basis anyway," Gu Fei said. "Do you know how to sweep the floor?"

"Do you think I'm some young master thrown out of a rich family?" Jiang Cheng was a little helpless. "My family... my adoptive parents were just a slightly better off working class family. With three kids, do you think there were maids?" 

"Are you still keeping in contact now?" Gu Fei asked.

"No," Jiang Cheng frowned. "After sending my stuff back to me last time, there's been no contact. What's there to talk about, how miserable I am in this dump?"

"Is it very miserable?" Gu Fei smiled.

"Actually... it's still bearable. At first I thought I couldn't stand it for a second longer, I could start fighting with Li Baoguo at any time, but there was no other option. Now I'm a little more used to it. No one cares about me anyway, it's almost like living alone," Jiang Cheng looked out the car window. "Meeting you was lucky."

Gu Fei tilted his head.

"Uh, meeting you all, you, Gu Miao, Wang Xu... Old Xu is also pretty good, and Old Lu..." Jiang Cheng quickly supplemented.  

Gu Fei laughed. After a while, he said, "I never thought I would meet someone like you one day. You're different from all my friends and classmates."

"Oh?" Jiang Cheng thought for a moment. "Because I'm more handsome than you?"

"I was born here and grew up here," Gu Fei raised an arm and drew a circle at their surroundings. "Before high school I had never left here. Not to mention travel, all my relatives are here. I didn't even have a chance to visit relatives in other places." 

"You didn't leave this city before high school?" Jiang Cheng was a little surprised. To be honest, he wasn't too surprised that the likes of Wang Xu and Zhou Jing had never been out. But Gu Fei's temperament didn't seem like someone who had been confined in this dump since childhood.

"Yeah, after high school I skipped class a few times and went out to play," Gu Fei said. "Didn't go too far, didn't have enough money, and couldn't be away for too long. Mainly to take some photos... Oh, I even went to Starbucks once, but didn't even know how to order."

Jiang Cheng laughed for a long time before slapping his leg: "Hey, I've never been to Starbucks either. Do you know how to order now?"

"I know now," Gu Fei turned his head back and smiled. "If there's a chance to go, I'll teach you."

"Okay." Jiang Cheng nodded seriously.  

The two laughed for a while. After a while, Jiang Cheng came to his senses: "Have you thought about leaving here?"

"I've thought about it," Gu Fei said. "How could I not think about it?"

"Oh." Jiang Cheng responded. The faint loss in Gu Fei's tone made him feel a little uncomfortable.

"See if there's a chance in the future," Gu Fei said. "I'll wait until Gu Miao grows up a bit. She's very stubborn now and can't accept change. I often can't figure her out. You give her new clothes, a new hat, she's happy. But if you give her a new bedsheet, she gets angry and shreds it. The skateboard can only have the wheels changed, if you buy her a new board she smashes it on the ground until it breaks... I have no idea what she can and can't accept. You see she's known Li Yan and the others for a long time but still doesn't get along well with them, but she met you once and likes you so much..."

"That's why when I told you your sister was with me, you didn't believe me at all, right?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"Yeah, she wouldn't stay with a stranger," Gu Fei said with a smile. "She actually has fixed routes when skateboarding, very stubborn. Even if she went to the train station, she wouldn't get lost. She knows how to get back from there... At the time, you really sounded like a scammer."  

"I thought you were crazy at the time," Jiang Cheng also laughed. Then he seemed to feel Gu Fei's helplessness, "Can she be cured?"

"It's very difficult to have big changes," Gu Fei said. "We can only take it slowly, maybe there'll be a little bit of progress in a few years. Look how well she skateboards, but she can't understand double digit addition and subtraction. Sometimes she gets single digits wrong too."

"Oh," Jiang Cheng took out a cigarette and lit it. "I really like her. I don't think there's anything wrong with her, she's very dashing."

"More dashing than me?" Gu Fei asked.

"Have some shame, comparing yourself to your own sister," Jiang Cheng laughed. "What kind of person are you?"

"Can't I compare? I've always thought I was very dashing," Gu Fei said seriously.  

"Yes, yes, you are stylishly handsome," Jiang Cheng held up his thumb and waved it next to him. "You are the most handsome."

"Thank you." Gu Fei said.

"You're..." Jiang Cheng bit back the last reflexive word.

When they returned to Li Baoguo's house, it was still empty. But Jiang Cheng thought it was pretty good this way. He didn't want to be alone with Li Baoguo either. Although it wasn't awkward, it was uncomfortable.  

He thought of that woman today again, his biological mother. He didn't even get a chance to ask her name, and she didn't give him a chance to ask either.

He wondered if she would come to school to ambush him again. Just thinking about it made Jiang Cheng a little scared. Tomorrow he just wanted to climb the wall instead of going through the gate.

He went into his room and closed the door, then sat down at the desk and started on today's homework.

No. 4 High's homework was quite little. It didn't take much time. Sometimes Jiang Cheng felt the teachers didn't assign homework very scientifically. Many of the key points covered in class didn't appear in the homework.

After finishing his homework, he messaged Pan Zhi and asked him to take photos of all the materials used this semester and send them to him. He planned to buy them accordingly.

- I'll just mail them to you. Grandpa, are you going to get the highest score in the whole school at No. 4 High this time?

- Should be no problem  

- As expected of my grandpa, I like this confidence

The score, the ranking, Jiang Cheng didn't actually care too much. What he cared about was how much he could really write and really understand, the scores and rankings came after that. Of course, the higher the better, after all the study god title had already spread. Some even used it to mock him. A high score could make all these people shut up.

Jiang Cheng put away his homework and started to review.  

He opened his book, reading the notes while muttering to himself: "Study god Jiang Cheng is now preparing to start his review with English, his best subject... Starting with what he's most skilled at, it's easy to establish a sense of 'everything is under control'... Okay now let's stay quiet and see what is in his brain waves..."

He kept reading until one o'clock before going to bed. But when he got up the next morning, his spirit was still good. Perhaps it was because he hadn't read quietly like this for a long time, it felt like he was back in his accustomed pace of life.

When he got to the intersection, he looked over at Gu Fei's house. He didn't see Gu Fei. Based on when Gu Fei went to school, he should still be in bed now.

His biological mother didn't ambush him at the school gate, which made Jiang Cheng breathe a huge sigh of relief. But he was still thinking about finding a chance to ask Li Baoguo. 

He had to resolve this matter. Being on tenterhooks every day was bad for his hair.

He was so handsome, he couldn't go bald.  

Gu Fei was late for first period. He strolled into the classroom from the back ten minutes into the second period math class, while Jiang Cheng was listening to class and writing his self-criticism. 

When Gu Fei sat down next to him, Jiang Cheng glanced at him and suddenly felt a kind of inexplicable... intimacy between them.

Perhaps it was how they had more contact than others, perhaps it was more secrets known to each other than others, perhaps it was the feeling they both had yesterday of "meeting you was an accident but it was a lucky one"....

"The match this afternoon may be a bit difficult," Gu Fei said softly. "I just saw outside reinforcements, it's Class 7's." 

"They really got outside reinforcements?" Jiang Cheng was surprised. "Isn't that too shameless?"

"Probably two. I've played ball with them before, they're very aggressive. Be careful this afternoon," Gu Fei said. "Let's practice with Wang Xu and the others at lunch."

"Okay, don't the referees care?" Jiang Cheng asked.  

"Not too much, as long as the game is exciting." Gu Fei said.

"Then we..." Before Jiang Cheng could finish, he was interrupted by the teacher at the podium.

"Jiang Cheng, you're chatting quite merrily. Come up and do this problem." The teacher looked at him unpleasantly.

The math teacher often called people up to do problems, so most people were relatively restrained in math class. After all, no one wanted to stand there for a few minutes, get scolded, and not know what the question was talking about.

Jiang Cheng stood up and ambled toward the podium, glancing at the problem on the blackboard.  

Gu Fei scanned his desk. His books weren't even open, just an unfinished self-criticism on the desktop.

Time to demonstrate his study god abilities?

Jiang Cheng went up to the podium, took a piece of chalk, and broke it in half at the podium, then stood there continuing to look at the problem.

"What, need a Chinese class first? Can't understand the question?" The teacher said with his arms crossed.

"Last period was Chinese class." Jiang Cheng said.  

There was a low laughter across the classroom.

Just as the teacher was about to lose his temper, Jiang Cheng began to work on the problem on the blackboard.

For a failing student like Gu Fei, he didn't even know what the question was talking about or what needed to be done. He just watched Jiang Cheng write while working out the problem on the side blackboard. Before long he had finished the question, and very carefully erased the draft before turning to walk down from the podium. 

Jiang Cheng's chalk writing was very ugly, even uglier than his pen writing. But from the teacher's expression, you could tell he had solved the problem perfectly.

"You need to practice your writing." The teacher said.

"...This is already practiced." Jiang Cheng said.

The classroom immediately burst into laughter. The teacher was stunned for a long time before tapping the podium: "Quiet! Are you all so excited because you want to come up and do problems too?"

"I thought you were just writing your self-criticism and wouldn't be able to do it." Gu Fei put his head down, took out his phone, and opened his Candy Crush game. 

"I could do it even if I was just playing stupid games the whole time." Jiang Cheng said.  

Gu Fei laughed for a while: "Just as shameless as me."

They were planning to go play some ball after school to warm up for the afternoon match. But the principal blocked them at the door.

Everyone had to go clean the bathrooms first.

Those whose offenses weren't too serious swept the cleaner faculty bathrooms. Those with more serious offenses like Jiang Cheng had to go sweep the student bathrooms that smelled wrong from the doorway.

Jiang Cheng usually held his breath when using the bathroom here, peeing quickly and leaving quickly. Today he really experienced the smell of this bathroom.

Everyone used the bathroom so casually, usually proud of their steady accurate aim, yet somehow once at the school toilets, there was always someone missing outside the urinal.

Jiang Cheng took a mop from the supply closet. Another guy immediately grabbed the other mop, leaving his lackey who came in after to take the rags. 

Jiang Cheng didn't have the heart to look at the martyr's expression on his face holding the rags.

Mopping was relatively easier, without direct hand contact at least. Jiang Cheng and the delinquent mopped on either side, heads lowered, breathing already labored...

The few students in the bathroom first looked on in shock, then started laughing as they mopped and scrubbed.

"What's funny!" The counselor stood at the door. "Find it amusing? You can go replace them! Or have a brawl here, I'll get you mops."

Jiang Cheng mopped the floors at home too, but he would only mop a few strokes lazily while playing on his phone. Now was the first time in his life that he mopped so attentively and swiftly.  

When he reached the innermost bathroom door, the door opened.  

He was about to move the mop away when someone from inside stepped on it.  

Jiang Cheng straightened up and glanced at the person.  

He didn't recognize him.

"What a coincidence, great aimer," the guy smiled at him insincerely, "You built up that arm strength mopping bathrooms? I'm impressed."

Jiang Cheng tugged at the mop, but the brat had stepped on it forcefully. He couldn't pull it out with a few tugs, so he looked at the guy's foot: "Move your hoof."

"Do you think you're hot shit?" The guy continued smiling unpleasantly. 

Jiang Cheng didn't want to talk in this environment, so he just held the mop handle silently and looked at him.

"At No. 4 High, you think you can talk with just basketball?" The guy pointed at his face, "You're not qualified yet."

Jiang Cheng had always felt he could be quite edgy sometimes, though he enjoyed it and didn't want to change. But today, in this bathroom, looking at the guy who had just walked out of the last stall, he gained a whole new realization—there were people even edgier than him.

"I usually speak directly, not with basketball," Jiang Cheng said, holding back his anger at being pointed at by this guy.

"Do you think you're funny?" The guy was clearly pissed now. He poked Jiang Cheng's shoulder again, "Idiot."

That poke hit Jiang Cheng's button.  

With a flick of his arm, he yanked the mop handle hard from under the brat's foot.

The guy immediately lurched back, stumbling several steps until he caught himself on the wall to avoid falling into the squat toilet. When he came to his senses, his face was livid and he charged at Jiang Cheng: "Fuck yo—"

"Don't keep saying fuck." Jiang Cheng pointed the mop handle at the guy's throat, stopping him in his tracks.

Spring is so humid, everyone's like wicks soaked in gunpowder.  

Jiang Cheng sighed inwardly as he grabbed the guy's collar, keeping his voice down so the teacher outside wouldn't hear: "You're from class 7? You wanna talk with basketball? Come find me this afternoon."

After letting go, the guy still wanted to act, so Jiang Cheng immediately shouted at the door: "Teacher! I'm done mopping, can I go now?"

"Let me check!" The teacher came in.

The guy had no choice but to glare at Jiang Cheng before adjusting his clothes and leaving.

When Jiang Cheng came out of the bathroom, Wang Xu and Gu Fei were waiting outside.  

Seeing him, Wang Xu came up to him right away: "Did you just run into Hu Jian?"

"Hu Jian?" Jiang Cheng almost wanted to correct Wang Xu, but then realized the guy's name was Hu Jian. "Yeah, what about him?"

"He came out pretty pissed," Wang Xu said. "There'll be a good show this afternoon."

"No worries," Jiang Cheng said. "No show's better than winning a game." 

"Well said!" Wang Xu gave him a thumbs up. "Let's go, we've booked a court at the technical school nearby for secret practice. My friends there saved it for us."

As the group walked out the school gate, they discussed tactics.

Jiang Cheng and Gu Fei were last in line, tacitly silent as they listened to Wang Xu excitedly explain strategies.

What's there to be tacit about silence, Jiang Cheng mused. His thoughts could be strange sometimes.

"We can't do a man-to-man this afternoon," Wang Xu said. "They have outside help, at least one, maybe two..."

"We don't have to man-to-man, but keep your eyes on them," Gu Fei said. "Class 7 isn't as good as us. Even with outside help, they may not coordinate well. We've practiced together for so long..."

"Right! Our teamwork is great now," Wang Xu waved his hand. "So what's the plan for the afternoon?"

"Focus on getting me and Brother Cheng the ball to score," Gu Fei said.  

Everyone fell silent and turned to look at Gu Fei after he said that.

Even Jiang Cheng was surprised.

"Me and..." Gu Fei cleared his throat and pointed at Jiang Cheng. "Him."


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