Chapter 15: “…Professor Xiao will protect you.”
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
It was not easy for Zhou Zui to spare a few days to go out, and this time, the appointments were previously scheduled. Since he had emptied these two days, then he had to work overtime to make up for it.
After the man had come back with no change at all. Whether it was painting, tattoos, fitness, he still seldom talked anyway. Lu Xiaobei finally could not help but go over to ask. He touched his own bald head as he asked Zhou Zui, “Brother, this time out…What happened there?”
Zhou Zui did not look at him and threw out, “If you’re idle, design more tattoos. You’re running out of pre-drawn ones.”
“Hey, big brother, do you know how to chat?” Lu Xiaobei made a “tsk” sound, then bumped Zhou Zui’s arm. “My Brother Xiao…? Did you two make some progress?”
Zhou Zui was using the computer to adjust a design, and his eyes did not turn as he ignored him. “No.”
Lu Xiaobei frowned and asked, “Really?”
“Mn.” Zhou Zui was obviously perfunctory. “It’s impossible, don’t think about it so blindly.”
Lu Xiaobei lifted his butt and walked away. He thought that Xiao Ke was too indisputable, and could not grasp such a good opportunity but it was in vain.
The images only needed simple angle adjustments, but it took Zhou Zui over an hour to finish editing them. Honestly, his mind was somewhere else completely. It wasn’t until his next customer arrived for his appointment that he finally hurriedly finished adjusting the tattoo stencil. 1
The tattoo he was working on was a full back design. As soon as Zhou Zui came back, he picked the biggest job which was his idea. A full back design would cram his time into a full day and make his heart less irritable.
“Mr. Zhou, I went to bed early as you said. I went to bed at six last night, and I haven’t been drinking for the last week.”2 The client this time was a young man, estimated to have not yet graduated from college, and he played in a band. His rock ‘n’ roll spirit was on display as he had an eyebrow stud at the top of his eyebrow and a tattoo on his finger with the word “uninhibited” written on it.
“Okay, that’s good,” Zhou Zui responded, then said, “You sit and wait a while, I’ll prepare.”
“Okay.” The young man sat down on the sofa and said to Zhou Zui, “Can I take another look at that sketch, Mr. Zhou?”
Lu Xiaobei gave him another copy and called over another tattoo artist to play the model. The man could see the design on his back, and he said, “Look, the approximate location is like this. His shoulders are about the same width as yours, the base of the neck is where the color begins. Here is the monster’s head. The bottom goes up to above your waist. If you like the size and position, we can start the next step.”
A few sheets of paper were needed for the large drawing, which was designed according to his requirements. The center was a distorted drum with the middle of which was broken and propped open where a multi-headed monster sprang up with two sharp teeth that seemed to be coming out of the drawing. He wanted this figure to match his style as he wanted to reveal the rebellion in his bones to the world. This picture was finished by Zhou Zui a long time ago and looked very fierce and cool. Zhou Zui’s style was quite obvious.
The young man looked satisfied and gave him a thumbs up. “No problem, awesome.”
Lu Xiaobei nodded. “Then use me to make a mockup for you to see?”
“No, I don’t need to see that. Just start tattooing.” The young man had actually already seen the image on WeChat already, but hadn’t seen it on someone’s back before so he hadn’t felt shock. He pointed at his neck and said, “It’d be best if the image can come up here. That way you’ll be able to see a little bit from the front, but not too much.”
“Then add something that goes around the back to the side a little, like chains? Or a broken drumstick? Forget the notes, it’s a little cheesy.”
“All right, all right, all right. You guys are awesome. Mr. Zhou really lives up to his name.” The more the young man looked at the drawing, the more he liked it, and he was about to throw himself on the ground.
Lu Xiaobei was happy, and made a stop motion before he said to him, “Don’t start praising us now. It’s not too late to praise us after the tattoo is done. Why give compliments if you haven’t even gotten the tattoo?”
The young man touched his eyebrow stud and felt very sure. “The tattoo will not be bad, I have seen many of your drawings.”
“Okay,” Lu Xiaobei turned back to Zhou Zui and said, “This is also your fan.”
Zhou Zui was still gathering tattoo equipment so he did not raise his head.
In order to do this larger piece, Lu Xiaobei also vacated today’s time in advance. During a big tattoo of a full-back like this, he would usually follow to give a hand and help Zhou Zui so it would not take too much time.
Zhou Zui positioned himself and then Lu Xiaobei was able to follow along with tracing the lines while following the tattoo stencil. Tracing the lines was relatively simple. Lu Xiaobei said, “Buddy, I will do the line work later. My big brother charges two thousand an hour and my price is half of his, so you’ll save money.”
The young man had already plopped down on the chair and raised his arm to show an “OK” sign.
Zhou Zui was already at the fixed point so Lu Xiaobei was ready to start when they heard Xu Lin shout from downstairs, “Boss, your flowers are here!”
Lu Xiaobei gave a happy “pfft” sound. After so many days of not receiving flowers, he had forgotten about it.
Xu Lin hugged the flowers downstairs and shouted, “There is a card today!”
Lu Xiaobei glanced at Zhou Zui, who was expressionlessly fiddling with his coil machine. Lu Xiaobei said, “Is there a message? If there is, read it!”
“There is.” Xu Lin did not dare to really read it so she ran up and handed it to Zhou Zui next to him, “Boss, flowers!”
Zhou Zui swept a glance, and signaled him to take it. Lu Xiaobei came over to take it. “I’ll see what’s written.”
Zhou Zui reached out and picked up the card before he did.
“Tsk.” Lu Xiaobei only let out this sound, and then kept staring at him.
Zhou Zui looked at the card. On the front were three words: Good person card. On the back were two lines:
Boss Zhou, I’m returning this good person card to you, and I refuse any reasons for rejection.
Wait for me to pursue you.
Zhou Zui looked at the card and gently frowned. He tossed the card aside and continued to outline the back of the person. His face still looked expressionless with that cold and aloof look. However, the light in his eyes had clearly softened, and the curve of his mouth was not that hard.
Xiao Ke also hesitated for a long time before asking the florist to add this card.
The previous words from Zhou Zui were actually quite demotivating for Xiao Ke. He originally thought that after those two days, the relationship between the two of them had become closer so he didn’t expect Zhou Zui to give him those words before he left. What he said was quite profound. ”You are on earth and I am in hell.” So digging to the root, he issued a good person card.
Xiao Ke smiled to himself, and sent the two sentences to the florist’s WeChat for them to write.
When pursuing someone, Xiao Ke often did not go back without hitting a wall, but in fact, he did not hit a wall. When he told Zhou Zui that he wanted to pursue him, it was not a lie. To give up on Zhou Zui was even more impossible.
Xiao Ke saw Zhou Zui again the next weekend. He pushed open the door of the shop with his down jacket. Lu Xiaobei was squatting on a chair in the vestibule smoking a cigarette, and he raised his arm when he came in, “Hello, the indisputable god of flowers.”
This name made Xiao Ke laugh and asked him, “Where did that come from?”
Lu Xiaobei lifted his eyes to look at him. “You didn’t use the opportunity you were given, huh?”
Xiao Ke flicked his bald head and said with a smile, “How do you know it’s not working?” Lu Xiaobei was about to say something else when Xiao Ke asked, “Is your big brother here?”
Lu Xiaobei pointed inside and said, “I don’t know if he’s upstairs or downstairs, you can find him yourself.”
Xiao Ke first looked around downstairs, but could not find him. There were two other boys doing tattoos downstairs so Xiao Ke said “hello” separately before going upstairs. Upstairs was quite quiet, and he found Zhou Zui in the lounge.
Zhou Zui was lying on the bed, sleeping, and covered with his jacket. He didn’t look very comfortable with his eyebrows furrowed and his expression was not good.
Xiao Ke walked over to him with light footsteps and stood by the bed as he looked at Zhou Zui in a very casual manner. He found it very comfortable to watch Zhou Zui in the silence. He liked to look at him as it was addictive and fascinating.
When Zhou Zui turned on his side, his clothes slid down as he was lying flat on his back so Xiao Ke reached out to help him pull it up. However, when his hand touched the clothes, Zhou Zui suddenly grabbed his hand and his eyes opened immediately.
At that moment, his pupils were constricted.
For the first time, Xiao Ke saw this expression on Zhou Zui’s face. In his impression, this person was always calm and cold. Xiao Ke subconsciously froze. Just now, Zhou Zui’s expression was full of resistance. There was shock in his eyes, and he flinched.
“You…” Xiao Ke coughed and cleared his throat. “What’s wrong with you? Did I scare you?”
Zhou Zui stared at Xiao Ke for a while before coming back to his senses. He let out a long breath before he let go of Xiao Ke’s hand and lifted his arm to cover his eyes. His voice was muffled, “It’s okay, I got drowsy.”
“Dreaming?” Xiao Ke felt a little worried so he gently patted him and asked with a smile, “Do you need comfort, warrior?”
He thought Zhou Zui would refuse, but he didn’t expect Zhou Zui to sit up and nod before saying, “Mn, comfort me.”
Xiao Ke raised his eyebrows and paused for two seconds before smiling. This is what you offered me, not me taking advantage of you. Xiao Ke walked up and leaned over slightly to gently hug Zhou Zui. He patted him on the shoulder and whispered in his ear, “Don’t be afraid. Professor Xiao is here.”
Xiao Ke’s voice was beautiful as it sounded very soft and youthful. His voice was young, his face was young, and his body was young. The muscles in his arms became visible and strong whenever he hugged someone. He had a very faint scent of milk on his hands because of the hand soap from his dad.
Xiao Ke himself had to laugh since he was actually joking in order to take advantage of Zhou Zui when he was not awake. Zhou Zui sat very stiffly and could feel his muscles tense up when he touched his shoulder. However, this was the closest they’d ever been so even if the hug started as a joke, it was admittedly intimate.
He held Zhou Zui like a small child and whispered, “…Professor Xiao will protect you.”
Zhou Zui did not quickly push him away. He gently closed his eyes as he lay on Xiao Ke’s shoulder.
- If you’ve never gotten a tattoo, the person takes whatever design you’re getting and then will use a specialized printer to print it on a type of carbon paper, this is called a tattoo stencil. https://readinsideout.com/education/how-do-tattoo-artists-transfer-designs-from-drawing-to-skin/
- Alcohol thins your blood, which can make the tattooing process trickier for your artist, and can worsen your healing too. Excess blood while you are being tattooed could mean more ink gets pushed out of your skin, leaving you with a lackluster tattoo.
I really do like XK, together with LX’s youthful cockiness.
Wonder what ZZ was dreaming, to make him react like that. Definitely spooked.
Thanks for translating and editing.
My main tattoo was free handedly drawn on carbon paper.
Ended with a very touching scene between two men who compliment each other.