Chapter 48 - Chapter 48

When Gu Fei returned to the classroom, the bell had already rung. He sat back in his seat, and Jiang Cheng was half lying on the desk looking at him.

"No surprises, as expected," Gu Fei said. "First place."  

"You really went and checked?" Jiang Cheng was a little surprised.

"Yeah," Gu Fei nodded. "Very calmly."

Jiang Cheng smiled without saying anything.

"But I didn't ask what the total score was," Gu Fei said. "Let's add it up first after it's announced today. I feel..."

He looked over at Yi Jing: "Our class president might be quite a bit lower than you."

"She's second place?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"Mm," Gu Fei said. "She's either first or second, but she hasn't gotten many full marks. She's the top student at No. 4 High School, not a match for you city high school study gods."

Jiang Cheng didn't say anything.  

Just now, Pan Zhi had sent him an email with scans of the midterm exam papers. He had quickly glanced through the English exam—the difficulty level. Compared to No. 4 High School, it was at least one or two levels higher. He suddenly felt a little uneasy, planning to do this set of papers again when he got home to see what level he was.

-My mom agreed to let me come see you on May 1st, get ready to fetch me

Pan Zhi sent another message over.

-Okay, no need to stay at a hotel this time, I moved out

-WTF? What happened?

-I'll tell you when we meet

-Okay, Old Yuan wrote you a letter, I'll bring it to you


-He sighs every time he thinks of you

Jiang Cheng put his phone back in his pocket, also inexplicably wanting to sigh.  

Old Yuan was his former head teacher, a pretty good guy. When he left, because he was in a bad mood, he didn't say goodbye to Old Yuan, nor had he contacted Old Yuan since.

Other than Pan Zhi, whether it was family, teachers, classmates, or friends, he was reluctant to contact them again, afraid of being asked about his current situation, afraid of hearing comfort, and afraid of being reminded of things from the past.

During the last class in the morning, there was some commotion in the class. Although there were still two subjects whose scores hadn't come out because those classes hadn't happened yet, some people had already caught wind of the total scores.

"What the fuck?" Zhou Jing turned around, phone in hand. "Jiang Cheng, Jiang Cheng, Jiang..."

"Have you really never been beaten for being an audio recorder?" Jiang Cheng looked at him.

"Have you guys checked the forum?" Zhou Jing glanced at him, then looked at Gu Fei, then stared back at his face. "Someone made a post, you're first in the grade!"

Zhou Jing's deskmate also turned around: "Your total score is over 680! Almost a hundred more than Yi Jing! She got 599!"

"Yeah, fuck! 686 points!" Zhou Jing's eyes were practically bulging out of his face. "No. 4 High probably has never had such a high total score! Damn Jiang Cheng, you're awesome!"

Jiang Cheng was also a little surprised himself. His grades before were always top 10 and went up and down, once he dropped out of the top 5, Old Yuan would call him in to talk. He'd gotten first place before, but had never encountered a lead of several dozen points over the second place...

This news didn't excite him, on the contrary, it made him a little panicked. At this rate, it would be no problem for him to get first place every exam, but how much was this first place worth?

But at lunch when school let out, Wang Xu and his gang were excitedly surrounding him as if they themselves had gotten a first place lead of dozens of points over the second place. Jiang Cheng couldn't worry about it anymore.  

The group first squeezed over to the bulletin board to spectate the posted ranking list. The top two spots were both from Class 8, although everyone here were scum students, this kind of thing still made them proud, after all they had a collective sense of honor even as scum students.

"I feel this is still unscientific," Guo Xu said. "The total scores should also be posted, just writing the rankings doesn't highlight Jiang Cheng's fierceness."

"I think this is fine," Wang Xu immediately said. "You don't have to step on the second place just to praise the first place."

"Yeah," Lu Xiaobin said. "The second place is Yi Jing."

Wang Xu stared at him for a moment without saying anything.

After checking out the ranking list, the group went out the school gate together. The basketball finals were in a couple days, and Wang Xu was taking them to go practice at the technical high school.  

"Damn, who made this post?" Wang Xu looked at his phone as they walked. "This was taken in the office... Even when Old Xu hadn't finished writing out the list?"

"Don't know who happened to walk by," Guo Xu said. "I don't believe someone just happened to walk by. With so many girls eyeing Jiang Cheng now, someone definitely went specifically to find out."  

"Can't be a girl judging by the username," a substitute player on their team chimed in. "Is it a hater making trouble?"

Jiang Cheng stared at this substitute for almost two minutes before remembering his name was Zhang Yuan.

Zhang Yuan's words piqued his curiosity, but in the end he didn't hold back and took out his phone to open the No. 4 High forum.  

He immediately saw the hot post... What kind of office sneak shot was this, even blurring things out?

Before he could tap to go in, he saw the poster's name again, and abruptly turned to look at Gu Fei walking at the back.

"Hm?" Gu Fei looked completely calm.  

"This is definitely your alt account right? Mr. Stylishly Handsome?" Jiang Cheng kept his voice low.

"Who?" Gu Fei still had a confused look on his face.

"HandsomeBeyondTheHeavens," Jiang Cheng was in awe of Gu Fei's ability to come up with names. "If this isn't you, I'll livestream eating shit right now."

"Don't," Gu Fei laughed. "To prevent you from eating shit, even if it isn't me, I have to say it's me."

"It fucking is you," Jiang Cheng looked at the post time again. "First period after class, you went to find Old Xu. You posted this right after leaving the office, didn't you?"

"After I left." Gu Fei said.

"No way," Jiang Cheng found it very difficult to understand. "What are you doing?"

"Showing off," Gu Fei said softly, glancing at the group in front of them. "I don't usually have much to show off, just wanted to show off to my deskmate when I get a chance."

Jiang Cheng looked at him without speaking.  

He didn't know why, but Gu Fei's words "show off to my deskmate" made him feel very comfortable, a vague sense of intimacy.

It wasn't far from their school to the technical high school. They walked over after getting some food, which counted as exercise after the meal.  

Jiang Cheng and Gu Fei were always at the back. Neither spoke, just looking at the group in front who were relaxed and excited because exams were over and they had gotten decent scores from copying Jiang Cheng's answers.

The weather had warmed up. Jiang Cheng was just wearing a t-shirt today, with a light jacket over it. Walking shoulder to shoulder with Gu Fei, their arms occasionally brushed against each other. This sudden heightened awareness of contact made him suddenly enjoy it very much.  

He didn't know why, he just felt very comfortable.

After walking a block, he intentionally and unintentionally bumped Gu Fei's arm several times. He even felt something was wrong with himself.

When they got to the corner, Gu Fei suddenly bumped his arm too.  

He turned to look at Gu Fei, and Gu Fei also twisted to look at him. Then his arm bumped him again.

"What are you doing?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"I have a strong urge for revenge." Gu Fei said.  

"I didn't bump you on purpose." Jiang Cheng immediately felt a little guilty saying this.

"I did it on purpose." Gu Fei smiled and bumped him again.

"Again?" Jiang Cheng kind of wanted to laugh, so he bumped back.

Gu Fei bumped back.

"Hey," Jiang Cheng couldn't hold it in anymore. "How old are you?"

"Younger than you anyway." Gu Fei said, bumping him again.

"Damn." Jiang Cheng was speechless, and nudged him with his elbow.

Gu Fei swiftly nudged back.  

He bumped again.

Gu Fei bumped back again.

Was he an idiot?

A moron?

Had his brain been fed rubbish?

All kinds of thoughts flew through Jiang Cheng's mind, but his actions didn't stop. They just kept bumping each other all the way over.

There wasn't much time at noon. The group didn't formally split into two teams to practice, still mainly practicing coordination. Wang Xu as team captain was a little more reliable now compared to before. At least he could see everyone's weaknesses and assign practice drills instead of randomly barking out orders like in the past.

"I've been thinking a lot these two days," Wang Xu said. "I feel we should still be mentally prepared. I've watched the match recordings of Class 2 many times. I feel it will still be difficult for us to beat them."

"Let's just do our best," Jiang Cheng squatted by the serve line. "Getting first place isn't our goal now."

"What is our goal then?" Wang Xu asked.

"...No cavities." Jiang Cheng said with a laugh.  

The group laughed for a long time.

"We didn't think of getting first place from the start," Jiang Cheng continued after the laughing wound down. "We just wanted to be a dark horse."

"Right!" Wang Xu waved a hand. "Now we already are the dark horse!"

Jiang Cheng gave him a thumbs up. "Now we just need to go all out. The result doesn't matter anymore."

Gu Fei's phone rang in his pocket. He threw the ball in his hand into the hoop. It went in.  

He took out his phone and glanced at it, a little surprised to see Monkey's name on the caller ID.

Like he told Jiang Bin, he and Monkey didn't know each other well. Although they had each other's numbers, they basically didn't contact each other. Now that Monkey was actually calling him, he probably couldn't put it off any longer.

"Hello?" He walked to the side to take the call.

"You guys left pretty early today," Monkey's voice came through. "We went over but missed you."

"What, you want to count in the guys in our class too?" Gu Fei frowned.

"No need for that," Monkey laughed. "I usually don't make things difficult for students. I just went over to personally invite you and that Jiang Cheng to come hang out. You two are big shots, I have to invite you myself."

"When?" Gu Fei asked.

"This afternoon," Monkey said. "The usual place, waiting for you guys. Other than that Jiang Cheng, bring whoever you want, I'm being generous here, right?"

Gu Fei looked over at Jiang Cheng.

"Okay," Gu Fei said. "Jiang Bin has to be there too, to settle this in one go today."

"No problem." Monkey said, then hung up.

Gu Fei sent Li Yan a message to notify the others, then set an alarm. After setting it, he lowered his head looking at his phone in a daze. After the screen went dark, he finally put the phone back in his pocket and walked back to the edge of the court.

Wang Xu and the others were still enthusiastically practicing. No one noticed him, only Jiang Cheng walked over and stood in front of him. "Whose call?"

"Monkey's." Gu Fei said.

"Set a time?" Jiang Cheng asked.

"Yeah," Gu Fei nodded. "After we finish our game."

Jiang Cheng thought for a moment. "Who else besides us two?"

"Li Yan, Liu Fan, the rest," Gu Fei said. "We play ball with them often, so we're familiar with their moves."

"This doesn't really have anything to do with you, does it?" Jiang Cheng said after a moment of silence.

"It doesn't have anything to do with anyone," Gu Fei leaned over bracing his knees. "Class 7 brought Jiang Bin in to stir up trouble in the first place. With him here, it's impossible for him to take a loss, not to mention losing a game."

Jiang Cheng didn't speak. After a while, he also squatted down in front of him and looked at him. "If they do anything during the game, just endure it."

"Okay." Gu Fei nodded.  

"At most some minor injuries," Jiang Cheng said. "Still better than endless issues."

"Okay." Gu Fei nodded again.

"It's a little suspicious how obedient you're being," Jiang Cheng stared at his face.

"I'll agree first, then see how it goes later." Gu Fei smiled.

"Don't help me with this anymore," Jiang Cheng said seriously. "I'm serious, this won't end."

"Got it." Gu Fei waved a hand impatiently.  

The two looked at each other for a while without speaking.

Gu Fei felt something fly over from the side, then heard Wang Xu yelling.

A ball, he didn't know what kind of posture was needed for it to fly here where there was clearly no one to receive it. Gu Fei sighed.

Just as he was about to raise his hand to block it, Jiang Cheng had already turned his head and reached out to catch the ball.

"Those reflexes." Gu Fei laughed admiringly.

Jiang Cheng passed the ball back to Wang Xu, then stood up and clapped his hands, preparing to join them in practice. After taking two steps he stopped again and turned back to look at Gu Fei. "Don't go alone, you hear me?"

"Got it." Gu Fei impatiently waved a hand again.

After practicing ball for an afternoon, everyone still felt reluctant to stop when it was time.

"I feel playing basketball is still pretty fun," Zhang Yuan said. Although he was a sub who had only gone in twice this season, he was still very excited.

"We can keep playing ourselves after the tournament ends," Wang Xu threw his jacket over his shoulder very coolly. "Practice more during the normal days, then we can play again next semester."

Everyone nodded.  

"You can also take time to teach the girls," Jiang Cheng said. "Next time they won't have to just take the loss."

"Right!" Wang Xu's eyes immediately lit up. "I think Yi Jing and them really do like playing basketball, they just don't have anyone to teach them..."

When they were almost at the school gate, Gu Fei's phone rang. He answered the call, "What is it? Oh... I forgot, I'm going home now."

"What's up?" Jiang Cheng immediately asked.

"I have to take Er Miao for a physical this afternoon, had an appointment with the doctor before that I forgot about," Gu Fei said softly. "Brother Cheng please tell Old Xu for me, or his phone will get blown up again."

"Okay," Jiang Cheng nodded. "Tell it like it is?"

"Tell it like it is." Gu Fei smiled.  

Gu Fei watched Jiang Cheng go into school with Wang Xu and the others, then went to the shed to get his bike and rode back to the shop.

Liu Fan's beat-up Benben* was already parked at the shop entrance.  

*T/N: Car brand under BYD.

He pulled open the car door and peered inside. "Can this car still run?"

Four people were crammed into the back seat, three of the not-a-good-birds and Li Yan, who was squeezed into sitting directly in Luo Yu's lap.

"Hurry up," Li Yan said. "I'm in horse stance here."

"I won't dislike you if you sit firmly on me." Luo Yu said.

"I dislike you." Li Yan said.

Gu Fei sighed and got in the car.

"Didn't call Jiang Cheng?" Liu Fan started the car.

"Can this car fit one more person?" Li Yan said. "He can just go himself."

"I didn't call him." Gu Fei said.  

Everyone in the car instantly fell silent. Liu Fan glanced at him after turning the car around, but didn't say anything.

After quite a long time, Li Yan finally softly said, "Fuck."

The "usual place" that Monkey talked about was an old outdoor basketball court with lights. It was very remote with few visitors. Normal people wouldn't come here either. This place had long been occupied by various delinquent youths and delinquent adults. Normal people didn't want to come here to stir up trouble.

After Li Fan parked, Gu Fei didn't get out. Looking at the two concrete courts enclosed by dilapidated wire fencing, he felt like he was entering prison walls every time he came.

No one in the car moved, all looking to him.

"This matter," Gu Fei said. "I can handle alone, you guys..."

"Cut the crap, I thought you were going to give some war rally," Liu Fan opened the door. "Monkey called you, it means he called us. A brawl you can handle alone but a basketball game means he wants us. Handle alone my ass."

"Get out," Li Yan patted Gu Fei's shoulder.

Quite a few people had already gathered in the court, Gu Fei looked around, they were mostly familiar faces. Not many actually competed here seriously, mostly just casual games, sometimes not even playing just hanging around, chatting if they saw someone agreeable, fighting if not.

Whether basketballs or brawls, the audience was equally impassioned.  

Monkey and Jiang Bin were already at the courtside. Monkey leaned on the fence chewing on a cigarette, nodding to them as they entered.

Monkey was not going to play. He didn't really like playing basketball, but he would definitely be there. Not to mention that his younger brothers and cousins were going to play this so-called basketball game later, but also because he had been waiting for a chance to deal with himself, he would definitely show up for this game.  

Gu Fei didn't feel that he was doing this for some great heroic move, to stand in for Jiang Cheng in anything. He just felt that Monkey was looking for trouble this time and it was unavoidable, so he might as well resolve it all at once and not drag Jiang Cheng into this kind of low-level, meaningless scuffle again.

"Pick your players," Monkey looked at Gu Fei, "thirty minutes, most points win."  

"Are there any rules?" Gu Fei took off his coat.

"No." Monkey said.

Gu Fei didn't say anything, he turned and walked over to Li Yan and several others, "Li Yan don't play, the five of us play, Li Yan watch their guys."

"Mm." Li Yan folded his arms.

Without rules, all kinds of dirty tricks would come out in this kind of game. With no one on the sidelines keeping an eye on things, it was easy for the players on the court to miss something.  

"Da Fei," someone leaning on the railing in the stands called Gu Fei's name, "need any help?"

Gu Fei looked back, it was some guys he was quite familiar with and had played ball together before. He shook his head, "No rules today."

Those guys nodded without saying anything more.  

In a normal game, although it wasn't clean, there were basic rules. If others wanted to join in and play together, that was fine. But once there were no rules to the game, everyone knew what kind of game this was.

The five guys with Jiang Bin that they were up against had all played ball with them before, so they all had a good idea of each other's skill level. But in today's game, no one knew their abilities, after all they had never brawled together before.

The guys on their side had things in their wrist guards, though Gu Fei didn't use any. He wasn't in the habit of using tools in this kind of situation. If it came to blows, he preferred to use his hands.

Thinking of this, Gu Fei suddenly had a funny thought. If Jiang Cheng was here, he could have him stay off the court and watch from the stands with a slingshot...

This idea made Gu Fei chuckle to himself.  

"Hey," Li Yan looked at him, "be serious, we're fighting here."

"Got it." Gu Fei laughed a couple more times before turning to enter the court.

Jiang Cheng was sprawled over his desk. Old Lu was lecturing very passionately above him, and the afternoon classes were main subjects, so the whole class was listless. There were even fewer people chatting.

Old Lu was even more impassioned than usual, probably because Jiang Cheng's perfect score had put him in a good mood. He still hadn't started yelling at anyone after half a class.

Jiang Cheng wasn't listening either. He was on his phone, looking over the test papers Pan Zhi had sent over, starting from when class began. Twenty minutes in, he was clearly answering slower than during the midterms at No. 4 High.

He didn't stop during the break either, just stayed hunched over his desk and kept working on the test, using up the entire next self-study period as well.

After finishing the entire test paper, he took pictures of the answers and sent them to Pan Zhi, asking him to take them to the English teacher.

His condition really wasn't great this afternoon, and it wasn't because he had played basketball or lacked sleep.

He looked at Gu Fei's empty seat next to him. It was because of Gu Fei.

He didn't know why, but ever since he had helped ask for leave on Gu Fei's behalf at Old Xu's office, he had felt inexplicably uneasy. Right now hunched over his desk, he turned over and over in his mind every detail from when Gu Fei had taken that call while playing ball to when he had gone home.

Nothing seemed wrong, everything appeared normal, but he still couldn't shake this unsettled feeling.

After fretting restlessly for a while, Jiang Cheng couldn't restrain himself. Without even waiting for class to end, he took out his phone. Instead of sending a message, he directly dialed Gu Fei's number.

Gu Fei had always taken care of Gu Miao quite roughly, but could he really have forgotten the scheduled doctor's appointment? Jiang Cheng found it hard to believe at this point.  

The call got through, Gu Fei hadn't turned his phone off.

But no one answered, the ringtone kept sounding until the automatic disconnect. Gu Fei didn't pick up the call.

Jiang Cheng furrowed his brows and redialed once more.

Still no answer.

"Fuck." Jiang Cheng was suddenly unable to sit still.


Every chapter whispers secrets; every coffee sip fuels the journey. Let's embark on another chapter, powered by everyone's support! >.<

Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@skcitshsif.