Chapter 13: “He’s not drinking,” Zhou Zui said lightly with one hand on the back of his chair, “I’ll do it.”
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The mountain climbing experience was really quite a new one. In the past, it was all about walking up the steps to the top before coming back down, but this time, Xiao Ke also walked a short section of the mountain while under the leadership of Jiang Tao. However, it was not very dangerous. After all, the residents of the mountain had to walk back and forth here.
Xiao Ke was wearing Zhou Zui’s black down jacket, and his hands felt warm in the pockets. Zhou Zui walked in front of him. They didn’t talk along the way, but even if they didn’t talk, the two seemed a bit ambiguous to the crowd after he had thrown his jacket before.
Old Cao still flirted with Xiao Ke, and Xiao Ke had walked with him before so he was familiar with him which was why he could talk openly and without pressure.
Jiang Tao’s old house was converted into a small three-storey building with a large courtyard, and there was a golden retriever in the courtyard. This was not the peak season so the old house was pretty empty, and there were many rooms available.
Old Cao said, “I’ll share with Xiao Ke.”
“Get lost.” Lin Xuan elbowed Old Cao in the side before he looked at Xiao Ke and then at Zhou Zui. “Don’t be a nuisance. Take a break.”
“Old Cao and I are in the same room. I’ll watch him. He can’t get involved with me.” The one who spoke was Old Zhu, who found a chair and sat down. “One bed or two beds is fine, it doesn’t matter.”
With two people in each room, everyone else finished forming their own teams which left Zhou Zui and Xiao Ke at the end.
The group looked at the two of them, and Fang Xi smiled before looking at Jiang Tao and winking. “No more rooms, right, Tao Zi? There seems to be only one large bedroom left?”
Jiang Tao nodded. “Yes, there’s only one room left.”
Zhou Zui didn’t say anything. He was leaning against the wall while smoking a cigarette, and he carried his backpack in one hand. Xiao Ke looked back at him, but Zhou Zui didn’t look up nor did he look over.
Xiao Ke really didn’t want to share a room with Zhou Zui, which was the truth. The two of them weren’t really in a relationship. This relationship between the two of them currently was really not suitable for them to stay in the same room. Although Xiao Ke was pursuing Zhou Zui, he did not want to take advantage of sharing a room to do something. The two of them need to be in a relationship which is not just about having sex, but also about being relaxed. The road must be taken one step at a time, so that they would be together for a long time.
“I’ll….” Xiao Ke’s voice started together with Zhou Zui’s, and he stopped just after beginning.
Zhou Zui said, “I’ll stay by myself.”
The room looked at him, and Zhou Zui took a puff of his cigarette before repeating, “I want my own room.”
Xiao Ke laughed and said to Jiang Tao, “I’ll also take my own room.”
The atmosphere was really awkward at this point. The others winked at each other, and Fang Xi tsked before he said to Jiang Tao, “Okay, I’ll give them both a room. I have to keep an eye on the door at night, so don’t let anyone go to anyone’s room in the middle of the night!”
“Look, why don’t you let me share a room with Xiao Ke?” Old Cao shrugged. “It’s a waste of resources.”
“Then why don’t you share a room with Zhou Zui?” Cheng Ning let out a snort and laughed twice. “If you want to be flirtatious, you can be flirtatious with Old Zhou.”
“Hell no, he’s sexually frigid,” Old Cao said disdainfully.
Jiang Tao gave Xiao Ke and Zhou Zui a key, but the two rooms were next to each other on the second floor. Xiao Ke took his things and went up first, feeling a little tired from the day so he wanted to rest for a while. The room was not soundproofed, so he could hear clearly when Zhou Zui was walking inside.
This distance was just right.
Xiao Ke took off his jacket, washed his face, and then lay down on the bed to sleep for a while. He was awakened by a knock on the door when it was getting dark.
It was Jiang Tao knocking at the door, “It’s almost dinner time, Professor Xiao.”
“Oh, okay. I’ll clean up,” Xiao Ke agreed in a raised voice.
Xiao Ke was the last one to go downstairs, and everyone was already there when he arrived at the dining room. The seat next to Zhou Zui was empty, so Xiao Ke naturally went over and sat down. The food was basically all served, and there was a table full of people with a roasted lamb in the middle.
Someone asked him, “Does Xiao Ke know how to drink?”
Xiao Ke said, “I can drink, but I can’t handle a lot.”
“If you can drink,” Fang Xi took a bottle of wine and shook it at him. “Is white wine fine?”
Xiao Ke nodded his head.
He knew what was wrong with him, so he ate something to pad his stomach first. He was almost always eating while others were talking, and Jiang Tao took a knife to slice a piece of lamb that he put next to him. The food was really good, and Xiao Ke didn’t put down his chopsticks until he was almost full.
Xiao Ke still had half a glass of wine left in his cup, so he stood up and said, “This is my first meeting with you all, so I’d like to propose a drink. I won’t say much more, let’s take our time later.”
After saying that, he drank all the wine in his cup.
Old Cao was the first to take him up on his words, “Okay, let’s take our time later even though it’s not impossible for us to get along by ourselves.”
Old Zhu said to Xiao Ke, “Don’t pay attention to him. He’s persistent, just get used to it.”
Zhou Zui didn’t have a strong presence at the table, but this was the third time that Xiao Ke drank with him. He talked too little, and wouldn’t take the initiative to talk unless asked something, and even if asked something, he wouldn’t necessarily say anything.
After three rounds of wine, everybody was a bit drunk.
Jiang Tao said slowly, “I’ve been away for many years and I haven’t seen everyone. Sometimes, I really miss you guys. The friends here are no match for you. Everyone else, I don’t think about, I just think about Old Zhou.”
When Jiang Tao said this, he looked at Zhou Zui and sighed. Xiao Ke could feel that Jiang Tao was the most sincere of these people with the kind of sincerity that was on his face, and he was very straightforward in what he said.
Jiang Tao also looked at Xiao Ke and raised his glass to him, “Professor Xiao, I don’t know what your relationship with Old Zhou is, but it’s the first time that he’s brought someone along in so many years. I…Without further ado, I’ll drink to you and thank you.”
He said it in such a heartfelt manner that his eyes were a little red.
Xiao Ke didn’t know why they were so excited that Zhou Zui brought someone with him. Xiao Ke took the drink and shook his head with a smile. “I drank the wine, but I can’t really afford to accept this thank you. I just followed.”
“Then thanks for that!” Jiang Tao was still a bit excited. “You can follow us every time so that I can thank you every time!”
“This is a real thank you,” said Lin Xuan who was sitting on the other side of Xiao Ke with a cigarette in his mouth. “Old Zhou lives too damn hermit-like. He’s been cold all his life and we were afraid he’d make himself a hermit. In fact, he was not like this before, he used to love to have fun, now sometimes it’s like he’s aphasic. We can only force this bastard…old guy so far.”
Zhou Zui had not said a word before, but he now lifted his eyes and looked at Lin Xuan. “Which bastard?”
“Cao Yuan’er, Old Cao, this bastard.” Lin Xuan said with a smile.
Old Cao was eating a dish at the same time, and he did not even raise his head as he cursed, “You bitch.”
These people have misjudged the relationship between him and Zhou Zui as they were not as close as they thought. However, it wasn’t necessary to go out of his way to explain something since it would be too pretentious and he also enjoyed this misjudgment.
They came with no other arrangements, and they just had a place to get together and drink. Therefore, no one was confined, and since there was nothing to do the next day, they could sleep for however long they wanted to if they drank too much.
Xiao Ke ate something in advance, and though his stomach was not empty, he drank later and did not feel too uncomfortable. The topic at the wine table had gradually shifted from dirty talk to the emotional special of Fang Xi being seriously nostalgic about his ex-wife. The divorce was self-imposed where there was nothing to be said as the scarlet beauty mark and smear of mosquito blood were two things that could never be truly separated.
When he finished, Old Zhu also talked about his wife and how she had been with him through thick and thin. Old Zhu suddenly threw the topic to Xiao Ke and asked, “What about Little Xiao? Have you made friends?”
Xiao Ke leaned back in his chair with the corners of his mouth in a slight smile as he naturally replied, “Of course, I’m thirty. If I was thirty without an ex, there would be something wrong with me.”
Old Zhu chuckled, “So tell me?”
Xiao Ke had nothing to fear with what he was going to say so he sipped his tea and said, “It’s nothing. I thought he looked good so I pursued him and then caught him, but eventually we broke up. That’s all, not very exciting.”
In one sentence, Xiao Ke reported his last relationship experience that lasted more than five years. It wasn’t that he couldn’t go into detail, but that he didn’t want to. It was also because he hadn’t been telling the whole truth.
The reason for the breakup was not because they had had enough, but because Lin An couldn’t stand the pressure from his family and decided to get married. With red eyes, he said, “We’ll only be married for a year, and then we’ll get divorced, can you wait for me?”
Xiao Ke raised his arm that was around him before he rubbed his hair then smiled and shook his head, “No.”
From the time that this idea had come to Lin An’s mind, the fact of betrayal already existed. There were some things that could not be reasoned with for Xiao Ke regardless of the outcome. Some thoughts that had arisen which caused the relationship to be abandoned. With Xiao Ke’s character and his values, he could not share the same lover with anyone else nor could he stand by and watch an innocent woman enter a marriage that he knew was a scam.
Professor Xiao would never be able to live up to his profession, and still consider himself worthy of the phrase ‘people’s teacher.’ He never had a problem with principle, and his parents taught him well. There were things to say such as, “no is no” without even a hint of hesitation.
However, Xiao Ke, the man who would always give people a few pointers before and after which even if they split up, would not talk to anyone about his predecessor. He would not spit or complain, and would not take the past as a talking point at the table which would attract a few scoldings of his predecessor.
Xiao Ke drank a mouthful of wine. The white wine had a spicy flavor that numbed him from the tongue to the stomach, and it was only at this time that Xiao Ke felt his stomach hurting.
As the alcohol went to his head, Xiao Ke did not spare himself to sell his pity and pretended to be weak. Zhou Zui was too manly, and in front of him, his weakness did not feel degrading at all.
Xiao Ke turned his head to look at Zhou Zui with a direct gaze. He was already a little drunk, and still had that straightforward and passionate look.
Zhou Zui looked over and asked him in a low voice, “What’s wrong?”
After drinking, his voice sounded a bit husky which was attractive and seductive to the ears. Xiao Ke gently closed his eyes and said, “My stomach doesn’t feel well.”
Zhou Zui looked at him and noticed that the alcohol made Xiao Ke’s face and eyes red, and Zhou Zui did not say anything as he reached out and poured all the wine left in Xiao Ke’s glass into his own glass. He couldn’t fit it into his glass, and there was still a single drink left in the bottom.
“What the fuck are you two doing?” Fang Xi pointed at Zhou Zui, and shouted at him. “I can see it. Where is your wine, Xiao Ke?”
Everyone at the table looked over, while Xiao Ke smiled and begged for mercy.
“Where’s your wine?” People on the side also followed the coaxing. “Come on, Xiao Ke is out of wine, fill up Professor Xiao’s glass again!”
Fang Xi took the bottle of wine and poured it for Xiao Ke, but Zhou Zui reached out to cover the mouth of Xiao Ke’s glass. Fang Xi stammered and coaxed, and Zhou Zui looked at him before he took Xiao Ke’s glass to drink to the bottom of the remaining glass, then put the glass upside down on the table.
“He’s not drinking,” Zhou Zui said faintly with one hand on the back of his chair, “I’ll do it.”
Xiao Ke looked at Zhou Zui from his angle, looked at his cold and hardened brow, and it was only at this moment that he suddenly felt as if he had really drunk too much.
It was not easy to get drunk.
To be honest, he was just interested in Zhou Zui at first as he was pursuing him just to try. He was serious but not obsessive which meant that if he could not get his hands on him, then he could not get his hands on him. At most, he’d feel a little regret. However, now that Xiao Ke looked at Zhou Zui, he saw Zhou Zui looking at Fang Xi with expressionless eyes, and the body was still that casual temperament. Xiao Ke watched as the muscles in Zhou Zui’s cheek twitched and the lines of his profile slightly shifted. When men did this, they were always exceptionally sexy.
At that moment, Xiao Ke abruptly realized that he might not be able to let Zhou Zui go.
What a mixed bunch.
I like XK’s principles in relation to his ex’s intentions. Not only did he consider his own feelings, but those of the temporary wife. So sad that that is the result of society’s pressures and the refusal to accept something as normal.
I can’t wait for their acquaintance to move up a notch.
Thanks for translating and editing.
Again, ZZ takes care of XK.