Chapter 28: “Happy New Year, sweetheart.”
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“Mr. Lin.” Xiao Ke still called him that, and then repeated it again, “Mr. Lin.”
Lin An looked at him with very red eyes.
Xiao Ke said, “Let’s not talk about the past. You know me, when did you ever hear me talk about the past?”
He said this with a mild smile on his face, but the words sounded a little heartless and cruel. Lin An rubbed his fingers and looked so thin standing there. He spoke with his voice that sounded a little hoarse, “But you didn’t say anything. It’s still there.”
Xiao Ke nodded and said, “Yes, it exists, and there’s no denying that we were good, very, very good. I respect everything that exists in the world, but that doesn’t mean I have to dwell on it forever.”
Xiao Ke didn’t say anything serious when they separated as he just made a decision quickly and then executed it immediately without the slightest hesitation. It was not that he did not attach importance to the relationship, but actually because he respected it and took it very seriously. That was why he did not rub sand into his eyes, and could not let it become a burden and pain for both parties.
Lin An certainly understood him, so after the separation he did not contact Xiao Ke, because he knew that the contact would be fruitless.
When Xiao Ke finished, Lin An gently touched his chin. His voice was very despondent and hoarse, “It is true that I could not let go of some things…It’s true that I was wrong in the beginning. But I didn’t really do anything wrong. I didn’t get together with her, and you…I’ve been single since the breakup. You’re right, I do know you, so I’m afraid to go to you, even though I regret it very much.” He looked Xiao Ke directly in the eyes and repeated again, “Xiao Ke, I regret it very much.”
The person in front of him was still the same person he knew, the same person he used to see every night before he went to bed, and Xiao Ke closed his eyes before he raised his hand and patted Lin An’s back while saying, “Happy New Year, Mr. Lin. After this year, let’s turn the page. The road has to go forward, people have to look forward, the past is the past.”
Xiao Ke took Lin An to the entrance of the district where his car was parked. When he left, Xiao Ke just waved his hand at him and didn’t say anything. There is no need to say a hypocritical goodbye, and Xiao Ke did not want to say goodbye at all.
Dr. Xu was fiddling with her cell phone when she saw him coming back and asked, “Did he leave?”
“Yes.” Xiao Ke finished changing his shoes and breathed into his hands before he said, “It’s cold today.”
“What day is not cold? It is forgiving even if it is not 30 degrees below zero during the waxing moon.” Dr. Xu looked at Xiao Ke’s face and didn’t ask or say much.
Xiao Ke made a hmm sound, took off his jacket and washed his hands before he went into his room and did not come out.
He spoke very directly and heartlessly. However, at the end of every relationship, something would leave with it. This was because every relationship was connected to feelings and the heart. It was enough that he had given his rejection without any hesitations or struggle, but to say that he was not affected would be a lie.
Xiao Ke thought to himself at the time that he had indeed laughed too much in the past two days and was a bit too arrogant.
After Old Xiao woke up and whispered to Dr. Xu outside. He didn’t come in to disturb him, and Xiao Ke lay on his bed and closed his eyes to rest, but he didn’t want to get up. His mind was in turmoil with a jumble of past fragments. His chest was very dull like it was blocked with something unhappy.
When he went out in the afternoon, he estimated that it was really freezing and after lying down for a while, he felt so uncomfortable that it should not only be a matter of emotions since he had a headache and was also dizzy.
Ms. Xu opened the door a crack to look at him, saw Xiao Ke still lying honestly without making a sound so she wanted to close the door to leave.
Xiao Ke called out to her, “Don’t go, Dr. Xu, you have a patient.”
When he spoke, his mouth immediately frowned. What a shitty sound. It was hard to hear.
There was almost no need to diagnose this and from just listening to the sound, his mother came in and felt his forehead. After feeling it, she flicked his head. “What would you have done if I hadn’t come in?”
“I don’t have the strength to shout. I’m just a weak little lamb now. Dr. Xu, help me.” Xiao Ke put his hand over, because he knew that after touching his forehead, Dr. Xu was accustomed to touching his palm.
“It’s okay. Take a pill and sleep.” Dr. Xu lifted the quilt and let Xiao Ke roll over and get inside. “I’ll cook some porridge for you tonight. Everything will be fine after a night under the blanket.”
With a physician at home, they usually never went to the hospital for colds and fevers.
Xiao Ke fiddled with his blankets and took the medicine before he drank hot water, and then shrank under the covers.
Old Xiao came in and looked at him with small glasses, he sneaked a glance from over the top of the glasses. After looking at him, he said, “Yo, sick, huh? Seeing Xiao Lin is so difficult?”
Xiao Ke did not open his eyes, but his eyes rolled under his eyelids which proved that the man was awake. He kept his eyes closed and said, “Professor Xiao is not human. Your son has a fever.”
Old Xiao lowered his voice and laughed twice before deliberately asking, “If you really feel so bad, make up with Xiao Lin again. I think Xiao Lin has this intention.”
Xiao Ke let out a sickly moan, and his voice stretched long as he shouted, “Dr. Xu…Dr. Xu, your family is harassing a patient.”
Dr. Xu said from the living room outside, “Shut your damn mouth. Sleep if you want to sleep, come out if you want to come out, don’t make a fuss.”
Xiao Ke opened his eyes and looked at his father as he smiled and said, “Please, Professor Xiao, the doctor has issued an expulsion order. Besides, I feel bad because I let the wind blow against my face, not because of anyone. It’s easy to misunderstand when you talk like that. I didn’t even consider it when I was single, let alone now that I have a prospective partner. Really, I’d be a scumbag if I said yes.”
“Yo,” It was because Xiao Ke said he already had a prospective partner that Old Xiao gave a ‘Yo’ but felt that it was not enough so he gave another, “Yo.”
Xiao Ke was just about to open his mouth again to call out to Dr. Xu, but Old Xiao had already consciously gone out and closed the door for him.
After an afternoon of silence, Xiao Ke’s emotions were almost digested, but he still didn’t want to talk.
In the end, a good day ended in such a miserable way so Xiao Ke laughed bitterly, and felt very funny. His head still ached with the feeling that the blood in his head was clotted, and when he moved, his whole head felt heavy.
Zhou Zui had not completed the full leg from a few days ago, and had expected to stay until dark again today. Xiao Ke did not want to call to disturb him as Teacher Zhou had a very hard time with the tattoo. However, lying down was really boring, and his already bad mood was not relieved but intensified.
With the fever making him feel very cold, Xiao Ke huddled under the covers, and ate dinner before he took the medicine all over again, and he was then ordered to continue lying down. He slept and woke up at times, but in the middle of the night, he felt that his fever had gone down, and that he wasn’t cold anymore as he was sweating.
Although his fever was gone, he did not dare to take a bath but simply washed up a little. When he returned to bed and touched his cell phone, it was already two o’clock. His last nap was quite long, and it wasn’t even eleven o’clock before he went to bed. He wanted to wake up and give Zhou Zui a call, but the time was really not right.
There were two unread messages on WeChat, and Xiao Ke guessed it was probably Zhou Zui so he opened it and saw that it was.
[Professor Xiao, are you asleep?]
The first one was sent just after 12:00, and the second one was at 12:30.
Xiao Ke had been sending messages to Zhou Zui every day for some time and always had a brief chat before going to bed.
Xiao Ke looked at these two messages and smiled, thinking that Mr. Zhou was particularly cute. After sending the first one, he waited for half an hour and did not hear back so he could only send a “good night” before he gave up.
In the middle of the night, Xiao Ke suddenly became a soft-hearted mess.
He did not want to understand or rationalize, but wanted to be impulsive and capricious. So he dialed the number.
It took more than ten seconds for the call to be answered, and Xiao Ke even felt that the “beep” in the receiver sounded nice and peaceful.
Zhou Zui should have been asleep, and from the sound of his voice, he was. It was a little raspy and low, and he only pronounced a single syllable when he picked up.
This word instantly knocked Xiao Ke’s soul to the ground.
Zhou Zui felt his voice was muffled after he made the sound and cleared his throat again, feeling somewhat puzzled, “Professor Xiao?”
Zhou Zui used such a sexy voice to tease him in the middle of the night, and Xiao Ke could not resist. He obviously felt a change in a certain part of himself under the blanket and thought, Professor Xiao, you are a real animal.
Xiao Ke closed his eyes and said, “You were asleep, right? Sorry.”
After he finished, Zhou Zui immediately asked, “What happened to your throat?”
Xiao Ke gripped the phone tightly and felt a twitch in his heart. Why does he always like older people? This was the reason. Xiao Ke smiled and said, “Nothing, just sleeping.”
“Sounds like a cold,” Zhou Zui said. “Pay attention.”
“Okay.” Xiao Ke silently smiled on the other side of the phone and scraped his fingers against the phone as he said, “Calling you in the middle of the night seems perverted. I actually knew that you were asleep, but I just suddenly wanted to call and hear your voice. I’m not that ignorant.”
Zhou Zui listened to him and said, “Call if you want to. Don’t think about it.”
“Yeah.” Xiao Ke responded. Afterwards, both people were silent and did not speak. Xiao Ke listened to the sound of Zhou Zui’s breathing on the other side of the phone and slowly adjusted his breathing so that the two could harmonize together.
Both of them were really quite insane to be disturbing each other’s rest with a phone call while listening to each other’s breathing in silence. Xiao Ke laughed again and asked, “Are you asleep?”
Zhou Zui immediately replied, “No.”
Xiao Ke softly said, “Then go to sleep.”
Zhou Zui did not answer, and asked him after a few seconds, “What’s wrong? Are you upset?”
Xiao Ke pressed the phone to his ear again, and a sour feeling suddenly came up. It was not that he wanted to weep, and he was not to the extent of tears, but it was that the deepest aggression in his heart turned up violently.
Xiao Ke was thirty years old, which was an old man to some young people. Usually he was very spontaneous and generous. He did everything very open-mindedly, did not care about anything, and was not pretentious. However, he was not that person who would not be sad as he really had never broken his heart in his life.
Lin An said today that he was not actually with someone else so he did not really do anything wrong.
Xiao Ke did not say anything at the time, but he refuted this statement in his heart. How could that be? If it was true, they wouldn’t have separated. It was wrong if you got married or slept with someone, but it was not wrong to seriously consider the possibility of getting married to someone else?
When they separated, Xiao Ke even consoled Lin An while patting him on the shoulder and saying, “I hope Mr. Lin has a good life and a good career.” Lin An was very sad as Xiao Ke had been so spontaneous and even a bit desperate.
How could Xiao Ke not be upset?
It was impossible.
He chased Lin An so much at first, and he spent his entire heart on Lin An for five years as he was sincerely moved. Xiao Ke went from 23 to 28 in a flash, and was in love with Lin An for a good number of years. The last thing he was asked in turn was whether he could share the same lover with another person, and whether he could accept his lover building a family.
Even if Xiao Ke gave up, it didn’t mean that he didn’t care, and he didn’t say that it wasn’t aggravating.
However, anyone who really walks the talk can’t not be sad. Xiao Ke didn’t mention his separation from Lin An to anyone, and nobody knew the reason why, which included a ferromagnetic brother like Fang Qimiao. This was Xiao Ke’s way of doing things, and this was the last tender thing he could give Lin An.
Thus, no one knew how sad and aggrieved Xiao Ke was when he was betrayed and abandoned by his lover.
Xiao Ke sniffed his nose, and then said to the other side of the phone, “Teacher Zhou, I am really, really unhappy.”
He never said this to anyone as Xiao Ke was always self-reliant and strong at all times. However, he was very happy to show his weak side in front of Zhou Zui as he would let him hold his drink, he would wear his jacket, and he would express himself to him like this, “Teacher Zhou, I am sad.”
It was probably because Zhou Zui gave people a very reliable and secure feeling. It may also be because what Zhou Zui saw when they first met was his most disheveled and vulnerable side as he was alone in a bar getting drunk while holding onto a table by himself and looking so lonely. He was so lonely that he pulled a stranger with him and asked him to sit across from him.
Xiao Ke turned over on his side and pressed the phone between his ear and the pillow while hearing Zhou Zui on the other side of the phone asking, “So how can I make you happy?”
Zhou Zui did not ask him why he was unhappy, but only asked him how to help.
Xiao Ke closed his eyes and thought to himself, How can this old man be so nice? If he wants to say something, he will naturally say it so he did not want to say ‘Zhou Zui.’ He also did not ask him why to not let him repeat those unhappy contents. Zhou Zui’s appearance was very coarse and very rough, but inside there was actually a thoughtful and soft nature.
This was the way he was. He wanted to be spoiled and wanted to be reckless. Xiao Ke deliberately said, “I was dumped. Am I not good? Is Professor Xiao not perfect? Professor Xiao’s life is not going to get any better.”
The phone fell into a long silence, and it was so silent that even the sound of breathing was almost inaudible. Xiao Ke smiled silently on the other side while feeling a sudden relief in his heart and the dullness that was weighing down on his chest was gradually disappearing so he asked, “Are you still there?”
“Yes.” Zhou Zui’s deep voice came through, and Xiao Ke’s eyes curled up with a smile.
Zhou Zui’s emotional life was especially lacking, and the words outside of this situation made his brain tie up in knots. Xiao Ke’s sentence about being dumped made Teacher Zhou lose his voice completely.
Who dumped you? You weren’t talking about me…Aren’t we going to continue? Who else could have dumped you? I’m not the only one? Who else?
Zhou Zui kept quiet, and Xiao Ke couldn’t afford to tease him anymore. Finally he laughed and said, “Mr. Zhou, I’m just talking nonsense.”
Zhou Zui was relieved to hear him laugh so he also laughed after a couple of seconds and said in a low voice, “I was so scared that my mind was spinning.”
“So scared?” Xiao Ke licked his lips while his eyes rolled down, and he said with a lowered voice, “What are you afraid of?”
If someone else had asked Xiao Ke this question, Professor Xiao would have made up the perfect love story in a heartbeat, but Zhou Zui was not good with this so he could only directly say it. “I’m afraid you’re not single.”
“Professor Xiao never lies to people.” Xiao Ke smiled and asked, “What if I’m really not single?”
Zhou Zui was silent for a while as he was probably thinking, and he finally said, “I don’t want you to be.”
I don’t want it to be that way, I want to continue.
Xiao Ke’s heart was tidied up by Zhou Zui’s few words, and the negative emotions were honestly gone. After over half an hour of conversation, his heart only exclaimed about how Mr. Zhou was so cute when hanging up, and Lin An and the past were swept away.
The next morning, Xiao Ke had severe throat inflammation, and it felt quite painful. However, there was no fever so Xiao Ke went out after breakfast even though Dr. Xu had tried to stop him.
He really missed Mr. Zhou.
Tomorrow was New Year’s Day, and there were finally fewer cars on the street. Xiao Ke went to the parlor and found a parking space without much trouble. He got out of the vehicle and ran into the parlor, and Lu Xiaobei and Zhou Zui were eating when he entered.
When he came in, the two people who were eating were stunned, especially Zhou Zui, who looked at Xiao Ke for a while. Xiao Ke smiled at him without speaking.
Lu Xiaobei asked him, “What are you doing here if you’re not waiting for New Year’s with your family?”
Xiao Ke went over and sat next to both of them before he said, “I’m also a family man, aren’t I?”
Zhou Zui asked him, “Did you catch a cold?”
Xiao Ke said, “Yes, I went out for a walk yesterday and froze to death.”
“Were you so excited to go out for a walk?” Lu Xiaobei said while laughing at Xiao Ke. “Brother Xiao, the tip of your nose is red, it’s cute.”
“Fuck off.” Xiao Ke laughed and glared at him.
Zhou Zui asked him in a whisper, “Are you having a hard time?”
Xiao Ke shook his head at him, “No, just a little bit of a stuffy nose, nothing more.”
“Oh.” Zhou Zui said, “If you feel sick, go upstairs and lie down.”
“Okay.” Xiao Ke answered him with a narrow-eyed smile and looked very well-behaved.
Lu Xiaobei’s client, who was a young girl, wanted a deer tattoo on her calf, and Xiao Ke took a look at his drawing which was particularly nice. The deer was blue-colored and filled with starlight.
This kind of deer design was actually a bit lame, but Lu Xiaobei tried to make the design as unique as possible so that she could see that it was different from others. Lu Xiaobei told the girl, “I need to color this several times, otherwise it won’t work, I can’t finish it today, but I’m afraid you’ll be in pain and upset later on. Anyway, you have to come over a few times afterwards to fix up the color, if you can’t stand the pain anymore, you can rest today.”
The girl said, “It’s okay, bring it on.”
Xiao Ke sat with him for a while, and Lu Xiaobei looked really cool when he was working. With the mask on, he was silent. Xiao Ke spent a lot of time in the store and loved the parlor while he now also felt from the bottom of his heart that tattoos were a very elegant thing.
It was amazing to see a pattern branded into the body for a long time and feeling the pain in order to keep its beauty. Perhaps after a few years, they may not like it, but this was the result of the decision they needed to make when they got the tattoo. Everything was unknown, and that was part of the beauty of tattoos.
Zhou Zui’s client today was also a girl with long hair shaved on one side, and she was wearing a light pink down jacket with bell bottom jeans and snow boots which made her like a very quiet little girl.
It was probably because Zhou Zui usually focused on more European and American style that he had more male customers than female customers, and he seldom did small designs as he usually did full backs, floral arm sleeves or something of the sort. The larger works for female customers were a lot less.
Today, this little girl had been scheduled with Zhou Zui for more than three months as she decided that she had to have his tattoo. The little girl spoke in a small voice and smiled very shyly, “Happy New Year, Mr. Zhou.”
Zhou Zui also said to her, “Happy New Year.”
The design she wanted to have made today was a personal portrait, which would be tattooed on her thigh. This kind of design was a small job compared to Zhou Zui’s usual ones since it was very simple. These female clients’ preparatory work was usually done by Xiao Lin, but since she was not there, Zhou Zui could only do it by himself.
The image she wanted to do was close to the base of her thigh, so Zhou Zui went upstairs and got a pair of shorts and a blanket for her before he pointed out a room on the first floor to her, “Go inside and change your pants, the door can be locked.”
The little girl received the shorts a bit shyly and lowered her head before she went to the inside room.
Xiao Ke also once saw Xiao Lin take a silk nightgown for a girl customer, only to find out that for the girls, no matter where the tattoo was, there were corresponding clothes which they could change into at the shop if they were not prepared. The basics were gray and black since the shades were uniform. They weren’t cheap, and they were given directly to the customer after the tattoo.
“How generous.” Xiao Ke joked at the time.
Xiao Lin nodded and said, “It’s really generous, I said I could just order a batch from Taobao, but the boss wouldn’t let me. A set for hundreds of dollars, some girls who obviously do not need to change will get them. Makes me heartbroken.”
Xiao Ke laughed and said, “Don’t feel bad for your boss, it’s his decision to send it to anyone who wants it. He casually does a figure of eight thousand, not bad for a set of pajamas.”
When she came out, the tattoo chair already had a blanket spread out on it and Zhou Zui said to her, “Put your stuff in the cabinet over there. There is no one else in the shop today, just put it in without locking it. Then come and lie down here, sitting is also fine. The blankets and pants are all new, don’t worry.”
“I know.” The little girl finished putting her things away and sat on the chair while Zhou Zui put the blanket to cover her which only revealed the left leg that was going to be tattooed.
Zhou Zui took the stencil and compared it to her leg while saying, “Look at the position.”
The girl nodded and said “yes”.
Zhou Zui let her look at the drawing again and said, “You look again. If there is no problem, I’m going to start outlining, it’s not easy to change after.”
She stared at the picture for a long time before she smiled and said, “Actually, his nose is not so high, but this is more handsome, it’s good.”
“So I’ll just start tattooing?” Zhou Zui asked her.
Once the tattoo machine turned on, the sound was quite nerve-wracking and the girl’s legs were tense so Zhou Zui said with his head down, “Relax.”
“I’ll try,” she smiled with embarrassment. “I’m quite afraid of pain.”
“Well, relax or it’ll hurt more.” Zhou Zui said.
Once the tattoo needle was next to her leg, the girl shivered and let out a hiss.
Xiao Ke came over and asked her, “Little beauty, have you graduated? You look young.”
She said, “I’m in my postgraduate study.”
Xiao Ke said, “Then we’re the same age.”
The little girl nodded, “I thought so too.”
Zhou Zui looked up at Xiao Ke and laughed while Lu Xiaobei said from the other side, “Brother Xiao, you should be ashamed of yourself.”
“What’s wrong with me?” Xiao Ke raised his eyebrows. “I’m in my first year of graduate school.”
The young girl said, “I’m in my second year.”
“Ah,” Xiao Ke immediately called out, “Older sister.”
Zhou Zui lowered his head to fix the point while his mouth hung in a smile. Lu Xiaobei’s face was expressionless, and he did not even bother to make a remark.
In fact, Xiao Ke knew she was too nervous and came to chat with her to distract her, otherwise Zhou Zui could not get started.
Xiao Ke pointed to the picture and asked her, “Boyfriend?”
Xiao Ke said, “He’s pretty handsome.”
“Not bad,” the young girl looked at the picture and smiled, “Not so good-looking in person, but Mr. Zhou made him more handsome.”
There were many customers who tattooed their loved ones on their bodies, but usually it was a very small picture that was cartoon or abstract, which Lu Xiaobei had done a lot. A sketch of a large picture directly on the tattoo was quite rare, although Xiao Ke still thought that the girl was still too young. What kind of future she had, it was impossible to say. In case it did not go all the way to the end, then what would she do later?
However, this was the unpredictable nature of tattoos so you could only bet on it.
That day, Xiao Ke sat next to her and talked to her every now and then. She was indeed quite afraid of pain, and her leg would twitch every now and then while a layer of sweat would appear on her forehead.
Zhou Zui asked her which school she was from, and she said T University.
“Oh coincidentally, alumni.” She happened to be at Xiao Ke’s school.
The young girl said she was a finance major, and Xiao Ke said he was a bioengineering major. All the way till the end, he had said that he was a junior in the first year of his studies.
The monochrome picture was done quickly which Zhou Zui finished in more than two hours. After the figure was completed, it looked very good and was very cool. The little girl went to look at herself in the mirror while in her shorts and was very satisfied so she said to Zhou Zui with red eyes, “Thank you, Mr. Zhou.”
Zhou Zui said, “You’re welcome.”
Later, after she left, Lu Xiaobei said to Xiao Ke, “You are too old to care about your face. In case people meet you at school in the future and call out to you, I will see if you are embarrassed.”
Xiao Ke smiled and shrugged, “Call me, and I’ll say yes, who let Professor Xiao look young?”
The time around Zhou Zui always flew by, and Xiao Ke spent the entire day in the store without feeling bored at all. When it was dark and he had to leave, Xiao Ke rubbed his sore nose and said to Zhou Zui, “I have to go now, Mr. Zhou, are you still in the shop tomorrow?”
Zhou Zui nodded and said, “Yes.”
“Okay,” Xiao Ke said with a smile. “I’m leaving then, I’ll send you a message tonight.”
Zhou Zui said, “Don’t come tomorrow, spend the New Year at home. Come back after the New Year, after you spend time with your family.”
Xiao Ke promised, “Okay.” He looked back, and Lu Xiaobei was looking down while concentrating on the tattoo, so Xiao Ke quickly raised his hand before leaving to touch Zhou Zui’s face. He blatantly molested him, and he looked him in the eye as he whispered, “Mr. Zhou, I have no one else. Just you, my darling, don’t worry.”
This sentence was actually what Xiao Ke wanted to say last night, but was afraid of troubling him in his sleep so he did not dare to really say it. The words were on his lips for the entire day while he did not dare say it out loud to tease him.
The old man, Zhou Zui, let him molest his face, and was called ‘my darling.’ The expression on Zhou Zui’s face was one that Xiao Ke liked to see, which was as it was before, very helpless but with indulgence.
Xiao Ke smiled at him again, then opened the door to run away.
Zhou Zui’s face was not so obvious, but after being called that, his heart felt warm. The old man had flowers blooming everywhere in the spring, and the air was filled with the smell of flowers. Zhou Zui deliberately went to look at his bucket of roses and picked up some of the wilted ones to throw them away.
Xiao Ke ran out of the shop and got into the car before covering the smile on his face. In fact, he did not show up in such a good mood. His heart felt a bit heavy. Others had gone home for New Year’s Eve, and the two cool guys had not returned as the two old bachelor children had no one to care for them. It was a broken and miserable feeling.
Xiao Ke did not ask Zhou Zui about this matter, but even if he did not ask, he could somewhat guess which made him feel quite distressed. A big brother with a messy past and an orphaned little brother. Both without a home, could only rely on each other.
In fact, older people did not like New Year’s Eve and felt that it was only troublesome, but could not do anything. Thus, even if Xiao Ke especially wanted to run out from his grandmother’s house to find Zhou Zui, he also dared to not really carry out this plan. Their family tradition was that they must all be at his grandmother’s house on New Year’s Day, and no one could be missing. They had to go early in the morning and stay until midnight after eating dumplings.
Xiao Ke sent a message to Zhou Zui at 11 p.m. to ask him, [Teacher Zhou, where are you?]
Zhou Zui said, [Fang Xi and Old Cao are coming over for a drink.]
Xiao Ke asked another question, [They went to your house?]
Zhou Zui answered him, [Yes.]
Xiao Ke later sent a message to Old Cao, [Handsome, send me your location.]
After thinking about it, he immediately followed it with, [Shhh.]
Old Cao, after all, was not some straight man without a brain so Xiao Ke hit the head on the idea of what he knew. The message said, [Hush money.]
Xiao Ke quickly transferred a red packet with two hundred with the message, “Congratulations, Cao Cao is the most handsome.”
Old Cao received the red envelope and sent a location. He also said to be especially considerate, [Go into the gate on the north side to the front, building C6, number 2201.]
Xiao Ke gave out another red packet with two hundred.
“Dad, you hurry up and eat.” Xiao Ke had already finished eating the dumplings and so had Dr. Xu, which left Old Xiao by himself.
Grandma slapped him with her hand. “Why are you rushing? Let your father eat slowly!”
“I’m afraid he’ll be sleepy,” Xiao Ke said with a smile, while hugging his grandmother and feeding her a sweet grape that he put into her mouth. “And it’ll affect your rest if we’re all here.”
Uncle said, “The whole thing, your grandmother can not sleep until after she watches the Spring Festival dinner.”
Xiao Ke was anxious as he thought about Zhou Zui, but he couldn’t say it directly so he kept staring at his father eating the dumplings. As soon as his father put down his chopsticks, Xiao Ke hurriedly put on his coat. “Let’s go, I don’t seem to have recovered from my cold, I have a headache, and I’m going to fall asleep.”
Grandma made him laugh, “Then you’ll sleep here! Aren’t there enough rooms for you to sleep in?”
“I want my bed,” Xiao Ke said to Grandma as he tucked Dr. Xu’s jacket into her arms. “Grandma, I’m sick, I had a fever yesterday.”
Grandma waved her hand. “Go now!”
Xiao Ke didn’t hesitate at all and gave his grandmother a kiss on the cheek before he ran straight downstairs. By the time Old Xiao and Dr. Xu came down, his car was already warm.
As soon as Old Xiao got into the car, he said, “He’s in a hurry like a big horse monkey.”
Xiao Ke turned on the fire to head out of the neighborhood, and smiled while saying, “Even a big horse monkey is not as anxious as I am, so you two should be considerate of your handsome son, who is still a bachelor. I can’t go to my new love on this day of the family reunion to welcome the New Year?”
Old Xiao laughed at him. “Who went out with his ex for a couple of laps and got a fever?”
“Don’t talk nonsense, old comrade.” Xiao Ke laughed and shook his head. “I was freezing from the wind. Dr. Xu can prove it. I can’t come out of that big fire of being separated for a hundred years.”
He sent his parents to the neighborhood, and then stuffed one of them with a thick red envelope and said with a smile, “Since I’m not coming back tonight, the red envelope is given in advance, wishing my parents good health and peace.”
“Hurry up,” Old Xiao and Dr. Xu took the red envelope since they knew that he was in a hurry, and Dr. Xu said, “Drive slowly, it’s not that different.”
“Don’t worry.” Xiao Ke watched them enter the neighborhood and drove away.
The roads at night were the most peaceful of the year, and Xiao Ke did not even see a few cars along the way.
Following the navigation to Zhou Zui’s neighborhood, he found that people and vehicles were divided in the neighborhoods so cars were not allowed to enter.
Xiao Ke wandered around and found a parking space outside to park the car at 11:50.
Xiao Ke ran all the way in. Although he kept his mouth closed, he still choked on the wind. His throat, which was still inflamed, felt dry and astringent like he was going to explode if he didn’t drink some water.
Xiao Ke found C6 on the door of the unit when it was 11:53, and Xiao Ke was baffled once inside as the door could not be entered without a card.
Xiao Ke immediately sent a message to Old Cao to ask him to try not to be discovered when he opened the door and called an elevator.
Old Cao guessed the time with the phone that was at hand and was particularly efficient. The elevator went up to the 22nd floor, and before the door opened, Xiao Ke looked at the time which was 11:57.
This was very good.
Old Cao was already leaning against the door frame waiting for him and Xiao Ke smiled before he whispered, “Thanks. Is Zhou Zui here?
Old Cao pointed his finger behind him, “Fang Xi sent him to look for cigarettes.”
Xiao Ke changed his shoes before he went in, and Fang Xi looked at him with a raised eyebrow from the table while pointing towards the kitchen. Xiao Ke smiled at him and nodded without speaking and ran over.
Zhou Zui was rummaging in a cabinet with his back to the door, and was about to turn around after grabbing the pack of cigarettes when Xiao Ke pounced on him and covered his eyes.
“Fuck.” Zhou Zui thought it was Fang Xi or Old Cao who was messing around again, and was just about to reach out to remove the hand from over his eyes when his breath suddenly paused.
Xiao Ke did not make a sound, but because he was running too fast, he was still panting roughly.
Zhou Zui’s hand touched Xiao Ke’s hand, and his thumb gently scraped the back of his hand. Xiao Ke could feel his eyelashes fluttering against the palm of his hand. Zhou Zui also touched the sleeve of his coat as Xiao Ke ran in from outside without taking off his coat so his body still carried the cold air.
Zhou Zui opened his mouth, “Xiao Ke?”
Xiao Ke smiled but did not take his hand away, and the other hand felt for a red packet in his pocket which he stuffed into Zhou Zui’s hand. His voice was still unsteady and full of laughter, “Professor Xiao rushed to deliver this red packet. Am I still good?”
Zhou Zui nodded his head and replied in a deep voice, “You’re good.”
Xiao Ke then smiled and came up to Zhou Zui’s ear to whisper to him. His throat was very dry and hoarse, and he was the best at using this voice to say some mesmerizing words of love.
Zhou Zui heard Xiao Ke say to him with an unsteady voice in the darkness after running fast, “It’s midnight now, remember that Professor Xiao has accompanied you to cross the New Year. I don’t care how many years you have spent on your own, but from now on, I will be with you every New Year that you have left.”
These words, this voice, and this person in front of him were things that were so perfect that Zhou Zui did not even dare to open his eyes as he was afraid that they were illusions and that they did not exist.
Zhou Zui did not take away Xiao Ke’s hand, but only reached out to encircle the person who was behind him with the hand holding the red envelope around his shoulders and the other hand pressing against Xiao Ke’s waist. “…. Happy New Year, sweetheart.”
OMG I read this a long time ago on CG but reading it again here is like rediscovering a lost world. I can’t believe how great this TL is! I can’t figure out what is so different but when I read it now it’s like floating a foot above ground, it’s just so fun and sweet and deep. Thank you for the joy!
What a lovely chapter. I’m all warm, fuzzy and not a little envious. It’s a novel, for goodness sake! 😉
Thanks so much for the chapter.
Arghhh it’s so SWEETTTTT! 😍 Zhou Zui calling Xiao Ke sweetheart!!! Wow, Xiao Ke must be in the moon now. 😊🤗
This is my favorite chapter so far. My heart racing with Xiao Ke when he’s rushing to Zhou Zui. Love Old Cao and Fang Xi too. Zhou Zui really has good circle of friends. Friends who truly care about him. Bless them all.
This author excels at chapter endings of such sweet words that I’m surprised anew each time.