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Chapter 12: Zhou Zui’s jacket was too warm, like being clad in a warm sun from head to toe.

Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations

Editor: Mimosa

Xiao Ke’s question was too blunt. He had been pursuing him for so long, but he still hadn’t asked about emotional affairs. It was mainly because he had listened and got a little addicted to Zhou Zui talking about his previous experience today that his heart felt moved to ask about it.

While he asked the question, it was nothing for him. Xiao Ke was quite frank as he looked sideways at Zhou Zui.

Zhou Zui was silent at first, but Xiao Ke kept staring at him, and it seemed that even if he didn’t make any sound, he couldn’t. Zhou Zui then nodded and said, “I have.”

Xiao Ke didn’t ask any more questions.

Zhou Zui did not want to talk about this which he could tell and it was fine if he didn’t. Xiao Ke didn’t want to make him uncomfortable as he was normally a very comfortable person to be around. This may be related to his profession and his upbringing since one from his environment created polite and mannerly people.

However, he was also occasionally mean, which didn’t seem to conflict.

There was a sign ahead indicating a service area, and Xiao Ke said, “Let’s go to the bathroom, and then I’ll drive.”

Zhou Zui merged to the right and pulled into the service area. Xiao Ke got out of the car and stretched his arms since he did not really want to go to the toilet so he went in to drink some water. He wanted to change with Zhou Zui and let him rest beside him.

After getting into the car again, the two of them changed positions. Xiao Ke put on his seat belt and laughed, “I’ve never driven such an expensive car.”

Zhou Zui just laughed and didn’t say anything.

Xiao Ke said, “I can drive quite steadily, you can sleep for a while.”

Zhou Zui adjusted the seat, and leaned back with his jacket over his body before he said, “I’m afraid you’ll be bored.”

“I’m fine,” Xiao Ke said with a smile. “You got up pretty early and you didn’t sleep, so close your eyes and rest.”

Xiao Ke did not speak again. After a while, he looked over and Zhou Zui was really leaning against the seat with his eyes closed like he was asleep.

Xiao Ke was driving a car and it was not convenient to stare, so he quickly scanned him and sighed about this old man looking really attractive. His face had hard lines even with his eyes closed.

How could he fit his vision so well?

In fact, Xiao Ke had always liked this type, but his previous boyfriends were not of this type, also including Lin An with whom he had the most heartfelt relationship with.

Lin An was a very mild-mannered person without much of a temper, and he liked to reason whenever things came up instead of losing his temper.

His appearance also gave people a very warm feeling, as he had very soft lines.

Xiao Ke was younger than him with feelings that were more direct than his, and he had pulled ahead from the beginning to later on as he was very active in running the relationship.

Xiao Ke first chased types like Zhou Zui where the aura was too strong and not easy to approach. However, this happened to be what Xiao Ke liked since he liked the temperament of this person which of course also included these traits.

The temperature in the car was just right, and the person he was thinking about was sleeping near him. This type of driving did not make him feel tired as it felt like it did not take that much time to drive to the place. When they were about to leave the highway, Fang Xi’s car caught up to them, and he got off the highway after them.

There was already a car waiting in front of them which Fang Xi followed, and he rolled down the window to indicate that Xiao Ke should follow.

Zhou Zui was asleep so Xiao Ke was afraid that the wind would be too cold for him to open the window so he gently honked the horn. As a result, he turned his head and noticed that Zhou Zui had already woken up. His eyes were open while still being in a dazed state from just waking up.

Xiao Ke smiled gently at him and asked, “You’re awake?”

“Yeah, I fell asleep.” Zhou Zui sat up and pulled his jacket back on before he looked outside. “Thank you, Professor Xiao.”

“Boss Zhou, you’re welcome.” Xiao Ke drove behind Fang Xi’s car. “I haven’t really been here before, first time here.”

Zhou Zui looked outside and said, “I’ve been here a few times and it’s not bad.”

Xiao Ke thought maybe he would like it here because of Zhou Zui who was a fellow traveler.

The person waiting at the highway entrance was Jiang Tao whose hometown was along the way. Jiang Tao’s family had a house in the mountains, and while it was not a scenic spot originally, there were a few families living in the mountains. Life was not very convenient, but they could get used to it and enjoy themselves. Later, the scenic spot developed which turned into small hotels and farmhouses that all made a fortune.

Jiang Tao went out very early and rarely came back on time so he called his friends over for a get-together. The locals of this area spoke with an accent and Xiao Ke felt quite amused by that accent when Jiang Tao greeted him.

Xiao Ke nodded at him and said, “Xiao Ke.”

Jiang Tao grinned. “You follow them and call me Tao-Zi.”

The car could only be driven halfway up the mountain before they had to climb up with their stuff on their backs. Xiao Ke put his cotton jacket on as soon as he got out of the car, but it still felt pretty cold.

Zhou Zui took a down jacket from the trunk and put it on. He had very little stuff as he carried a backpack only.

“Let’s figure it out after the steps, there is a pavilion called Jinhua Pavilion, and when we get there, we have to change the road, whoever goes up first will wait there.” Jiang Tao was wearing the most since he had grown up going up and down the mountain and was used to bringing very thick clothes which still hadn’t changed even now.

“Okay, then let’s go our own way, see you up there.” Fang Xi did not rush to go after he finished speaking, and took out a cigarette which he lit. He handed one to Zhou Zui’s side, and then sent over a lighter.

The group of smokers were probably suffocated on the way with Xiao Ke and Old Cao being the only non-smokers, Old Cao was the least dressed and jumped in place before he waved at Xiao Ke and said, “Come on, let’s go first. Let them do their drugs, fucking choke people to death.”

Xiao Ke laughed and followed him.

“I don’t know what kind of fun it is to run to the mountains in this cold weather, there are ditches in their brains.” Old Cao had his hands in his pockets and a school bag on his back, and chatted with Xiao Ke as they walked up the steps. “Find a place to stay for a couple of days, drink if you want to, be forced to sleep on your fucking stomach.”

Xiao Ke could not answer his words, so he just laughed and listened to him mutter.

“You have just joined, so you do not know. These people are actually psychotic, no one is normal.” Old Cao bounced upwards in small steps in order to get a little warmer. “The oddballs from all walks of life have gathered. I am also a psychopath. To be with them in the winter in the mountains like this? Very ill.”

This topic was one that was really impossible for Xiao Ke to participate in, but it felt like he had said a little bit more to help Xiao Ke join. After all, he also followed them onto the mountain, so he guessed that he was also a psychopath. Xiao Ke felt that he had discredited the teaching profession.

Xiao Ke then hurriedly digressed and asked Old Cao what he did for a living.

Old Cao sniffled while still bouncing. “Me? I’m a craftsperson.”

“Crafts?”

“Yes, crafts.” Old Cao took out his cell phone and clicked around to point out the WeChat two-dimensional code before he handed it over to Xiao Ke. He shoved his hands into his warm pocket, and when he breathed out, the cold breeze caused him to breathe out white air. “Scan it, and add me as a friend before I ascend.”

Xiao Ke thought this person was very interesting and took out his phone to scan. Old Cao’s WeChat name was ‘Your Fucking Uncle CaoCao.’

“You can go back and look at my store, and take whatever you like.” Old Cao hurriedly put the phone back with his hand also tightly covered.

Xiao Ke smiled and said, “Okay.”

He did not blame Old Cao for being cold. He was really underdressed since he was wearing a leather jacket which even though it was quite thick, it was cold against the skin. He could tell that Old Cao was younger than the others, and Xiao Ke estimated that he was not much older than himself. The more he went up the stairs, the colder it got, and Xiao Ke was afraid he wouldn’t be able to take it anymore.

Xiao Ke wore two coats in total with the cotton jacket on top so he took off the cotton jacket and handed it over, “Wear this, your clothes are too thin.”

“No, in fact, I’m just bitching. I’m used to it.” Old Cao did not take his clothes and looked at him before he said, “Later, Old Zhou will come up and think I’m bullying children.”

“I’m not a child, I’m thirty.” Xiao Ke raised his eyebrows. “Didn’t you hear me call you brother? I reckon you’re not much older than me.”

Old Cao was a little surprised and looked at Xiao Ke. “Thirty years old? Doesn’t look like it.”

“I am thirty, even if I don’t look like it. Just wear it, I can see you are cold.” Xiao Ke said with a smile.

Old Cao also did not say anything more and took off the school bag to put on the jacket before he zipped it up tightly and said to Xiao Ke, “Thanks, the clothes are warm from you wearing it.”

“I really don’t know what’s good about climbing up a mountain in this weather. It’s as if their brains all have holes in them.” Old Cao’s hands were in his pockets and he had a backpack on. He chatted with Xiao Ke while making his way up the stairs. “We should just find a chill place to rest for a few days. Those who want to drink can drink, and those who don’t want to drink can stay in fucking bed and sleep. What a hassle.”

Xiao Ke didn’t respond and smiled as he listened to the other mutter.  

Xiao Ke diligently went to the gym so climbing this section of mountain was child’s play. However, the mountain’s scenery was not very pleasant and not that beautiful, but rather dry and a bit desolate. However, Old Cao thought it was beautiful which he told Xiao Ke along the way. Xiao Ke thought that maybe it was because he wasn’t an artist that he couldn’t really appreciate what was so beautiful about it.

Old Cao stopped to take pictures of the dried tree branches, and the others came up behind him.

Old Cao took one look at them before turning around and continuing to take pictures while saying, “A bunch of old bastards.”

“Who are you talking about? I heard you.” Fang Xi went over and kicked him. “What are you wearing? You don’t want to be a wanderer anymore? Wearing a little leather jacket next!”

“Xiao Ke gave it to me, I’m fucking stupid not to wear a handsome man’s clothes.” Old Cao looked towards the back and asked, “Old Zhou still hasn’t come up? If he doesn’t come up, Xiao Ke belongs to me! I held back from flirting with him because I feel sorry for my poor brother.”

Lin Xuan reached out from behind to clamp onto Old Cao’s head and grabbed his hair, snickered and said, “Why are you flirting?”

Xiao Ke was actually a bit surprised as Old Cao was quite normal all the way so he did not expect him to be such a joker. Old Cao blinked at him and said, “You and Old Zhou did not work out, right? If not, open your eyes. Old Zhou is not interesting.”

“Lighten up your waves, you can hear the splash a thousand meters away,” Someone said from behind.

Xiao Ke was smiling slightly and did not say anything. In fact, he was thinking in his heart about how Zhou Zui compared to the others, or otherwise he could have caught more waves.

Zhou Zui and Jiang Tao were the last to come up. At Jinhua Pavilion, there was a circle of people sitting in the pavilion waiting for them.

“You all walked so fast?” Jiang Tao said with an accent and looked at them. “When did they all run ahead of us? We both deliberately slowed down, afraid of leaving you behind.”

“If you slow down anymore, we are going down the hill to the police to claim that you were lost.” Cheng Ning was playing with his phone on the side, but looked up to say this.

Zhou Zui’s eyes scanned around and saw Xiao Ke who also happened to be looking at him. When their eyes met, Xiao Ke gently smiled at him.

Zhou Zui frowned slightly before he took off the bag on his back and removed his down jacket which he threw over to Xiao Ke. Xiao Ke caught it a little late, and the jacket covered his face.

The down jacket was quite thick, and it felt soft on his face. It carried Zhou Zui’s body heat and the smell of laundry detergent from his clothes. It had a tinge of lemon odor, and it was very soft.

Xiao Ke took off his jacket and put it on directly in an open manner without squirming. He had not finished tidying up his hair when the people on the side were up in arms.

“Hey, hey, hey, Old Zhou! Where did you throw it? I am also cold! Take off another one for me ah!” Fang Xi shouted.

Lin Xuan laughed and said to him, “Who are you? How old are you? Just identify your own position.”

In fact, Xiao Ke was very unaccustomed to being the center of attention, and felt uncomfortable from being stared at. However, he now felt nothing. Zhou Zui’s jacket was so warm it was like being clothed in the warm sun from head to toe.

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WangXian31
March 5, 2023 1:44 am

I think this trip will be amusing and, hopefully, enlightening too.
How this mixed bunch met and became friends, intrigues me. I wonder if any are together romantically.
Thanks for translating and editing.

BlueFish
March 25, 2023 1:37 pm

ZZ acting sweet while telling himself that he doesn’t care.

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