Happy 6th-year Anniversary ExR!
Chapter 3: “Come on, we split up a long time ago.”
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
It was 3:30 a.m. by the time Xiao Ke got home so it was almost dawn. He took off his leather jacket and found that his T-shirt felt a little wet. It was still hot during the end of August. The leather jacket was not breathable and it was also uncomfortable. He casually took a shower before he fell into bed. The next day was not the start of the weekend, and he had classes.
When his alarm went off, Xiao Ke dragged his feet for ten minutes before he finally got up while frowning from the feeling that his head was about to explode. After drinking so much alcohol, he had only slept for three hours so he had fucked up.
During class, a student in the front row asked him, “Professor Xiao didn’t sleep well last night?”
Xiao Ke nodded and said, “Yeah, insomnia.”
“Handsome Xiao has insomnia? What are you worried about?” The students chatted with Xiao Ke from their seats. Since Xiao Ke was also young, the students did not feel any sense of distance from him.
Xiao Ke remarked, “I’m worried about how all of you will pass your finals. After looking at the assignments you’ve all handed in, it seems you guys won’t pass the final even if I give you all a break.”
Xiao Ke slumped on his desk between classes while squinting his eyes. Just on the topic of last night, he couldn’t help but think of the absurdity that had occurred. Perhaps, it had originally been quite a sad night since he did not expect his emotions to be stirred up by a stranger.
And that stranger really looked…quite handsome.
Xiao Ke thought that last night the man had said his name was ‘Zhou Zui’ with the appearance of a cigarette in his mouth and a mild expression on his face. Xiao Ke rubbed his head against his arm, and didn’t hide the appreciation he felt inside for this person’s appearance. For so many years, he was with someone which caused him to be afraid of looking at those he preferred to look at because he felt sorry for his lover if he were to look at some handsome man on the road. After separating, he did not meet anyone who caught his eye, and he didn’t think of looking any longer since he rarely saw one.
After class, Xiao Ke made a trip to the laboratory to retrieve a dataset. Before he left, he glanced at the clear little fish in the incubator. He didn’t have class later, so he planned on going home to take a nap. His phone rang. He glanced at it. It was his mom, Doctor Xu.
“Coming home tonight, Handsome Xiao?”
Xiao Ke was exasperated. “Don’t mock me, Leader. What Handsome Xiao, huh? Tell me what you want.”
“Nothing really. But the weekend is here, right? I wanted to know if you’re coming back home or not,” she replied from the other end of the phone.
“I’ll be coming back.” Xiao Ke replied.
“That’s good. See you tonight.” Dr. Xu hung up the phone as soon as she got the reply she wanted.
Xiao Ke was originally planning on going back home to sleep, but now that plan didn’t look like it was possible. Whenever Dr. Xu asked him whether he was coming back home or not, it meant that he should go back immediately. He also hadn’t gone home in a while. Xiao Ke didn’t mind going home since he had a good relationship with his parents, but ever since he had broken up with Lin An, Dr. Xu found every opportunity to ask him about his relationship status which made him feel a bit uncomfortable.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go home. It was just that he really didn’t want to hear anything regarding Lin An.
Xiao Ke arrived at his parents’ apartment building and spent half an hour looking for a parking space. He had looked for such a long time that he began to feel at peace with himself. When he went upstairs, a meal was already set on the table while his father sat at the table with both hands on top of the table as he looked at his phone.
“Sitting up straight?” Xiao Ke asked as he changed to slippers.
“Yes. Otherwise, I’ll hurt my back and my neck’s been hurting recently,” his dad said.
“You need to lean your head back in order to protect your spine. You’re sitting so straight and still lowering your head, do you think that it isn’t crooked enough?” Xiao Ke walked over and felt the back of his dad’s neck. His brows furrowed. “It’s pretty serious. I’ll schedule a massage for you tomorrow and make sure you go regularly.”
“Yeah, a massage would be great. I’ve been feeling dizzy these days.” His dad put down his phone and looked at the kitchen. “Is it still not done? Can I eat yet?”
Dr. Xu walked out with a plate of lamb chops and put it on the table before telling Xiao Ke, “You were looking for a parking spot for such a long time that you must be hungry, right? Wash your hands and come eat.”
“I was hungry, but after going around three times, I felt full. Next time I come back, I won’t drive. It’s too much work looking for a parking spot,” Xiao Ke said as he washed his hands. The soap smelled very strongly of milk and the sweet fragrance lingered after one use. “Dad bought this soap, right?”
“Ah, it was a gift from a student and I thought it was nice. You can take a bottle back with you.” His dad straightened his chopsticks on the dinner table while not hiding his eagerness to eat.
“Oh, you’re receiving stuff from students now? You’ve really matured, Old Xiao.” Xiao Ke laughed as he sat down to eat.
“I wasn’t going to accept it, but it really does smell nice.” His dad also laughed.
Xiao Ke’s father had been the head teacher in a high school for many years. This was why he would still receive visits from his students that graduated. If they brought him food or utilities, he would accept them. However, he would refuse and send back the more expensive gifts like cigarettes, alcohol, or tea. There were two teachers and a doctor in their family which made communication easy as they were educated people. When Xiao Ke was growing up, his parents had given him a lot of personal freedom which was why when Xiao Ke came out of the closet, his mother had an incredulous look before she angrily asked him, “Is it because we gave you too much freedom and spoiled you?”
That was the most furious Xiao Ke had ever seen his parents, and they ended up panicking while also refusing to speak with him. Ultimately, they were both highly knowledgeable, and they had seen and understood much more. Xiao Ke talked to them in a sensible and calm manner, and they did not fail to listen to him. The family didn’t have a hard time knowing that he liked the same sex, but the family was in low spirits for a while before it gradually went back to normal. He was with Lin An for over five years and Lin An had treated Xiao Ke’s house like his own during the last two years while having a good relationship with Xiao Ke’s parents..
After dinner, Doctor Xu cut some fruit and set it on top of the coffee table along with a rectangular box. Xiao Ke looked up at his mom, and used his eyes to ask what it was.
His mother looked at him with downcast eyes and said, “Xiao Lin brought it to me last week. It’s a birthday present, so I’ll let you have it. Since I didn’t care much about your business, I asked him to give it to you, but he just put it down and left.”
Xiao Ke’s face was expressionless when he took it to open it, and he smiled once he saw what was inside. Lin An was quite generous. This watch cost more than 80,000 yuan in China, and it would cost around 60,000 to 70,000 yuan to buy it overseas. Xiao Ke asked, “He came back?”
“Well, since he already visited, then of course he’s back. But I didn’t ask him if he was leaving again later. I didn’t want to ask too many questions and embarrass him.” Dr. Xu picked up an orange and started peeling it before she glanced at Xiao Ke.
Xiao Ke nodded, “No need to ask.”
“I know you don’t want to talk about it. I just want to pass these things on to you so there’s no need to be defensive.” Dr. Xu smiled and finished peeling the orange before she put it into Xiao Ke’s hand. “It’s been so long, but neither of you have directly told me what’s going on between you guys, and yet you won’t even let me ask, nor will you say it yourselves. It’s like we have much time on our hands to inquire back and forth.”
Old Xiao also interjected with a whisper, “Yeah, we don’t care. We just want to know if you’re fighting? Or if you already separated…?”
Xiao Ke had drunk too much alcohol last night and had not gotten enough sleep which made his head hurt the entire day. Although the pain had lessened after eating, it still hurt. He leaned back on the sofa with his eyes closed while he pinched his brow. For over a year, he didn’t tell his parents about his affair with Lin An. He didn’t want to mention it for the simple reason that he felt like it was a slap on the face. When he had first brought Lin An home, he could have sworn that he was the one who had promised many things, but he was now the one sitting here facing these problems.
Xiao Ke didn’t open his eyes and sighed heavily. “He was here then how come you didn’t ask him…?”
“We did, but he didn’t say anything.” Old Xiao took a sip of tea before looking at him, and then carrying on in a soft voice, “If you don’t want to say it…we’ll ask him next time.”
“Don’t.” Xiao Ke pinched the bridge of his nose once again, and ate a segment of an orange. He looked between his dad and mom. “We broke up a long time ago.”
It really had been a long time. He couldn’t even remember the complicated emotions he had felt back then, so his voice sounded flat when he spoke, like he didn’t care at all anymore.
The two older people had actually prepared their hearts for this and already figured it out. However, they still looked at each other mutually with open mouths as they did not know what to say.
“The fate has ended, the grudge has ended, the former fate can not be renewed, and everything is gone with the wind.” Even Xiao Ke laughed after he said this as he ate another segment of orange. “That’s it. I’m not saying anything more.”
The room was silent for a few seconds except for a TV show that was still on, until Dr. Xu replied, “I have already said that it is difficult to stabilize your kind. Even though you both looked quite reliable before, this is still the case. I don’t want to say too much since you’re 30, but you should clearly think about this by yourself.”
Xiao Ke nodded. “Okay, Mom!”
Dr. Xu glared at him but didn’t continue.
This matter had been weighing down on Xiao Ke for more than a year since he was unwilling to mention it at home, but it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be now that he actually mentioned it as his heart felt like it was blocked with something that wouldn’t go either up or down. Xiao Ke said, “If there’s still anything else here that belongs to him, just box it up and throw it away. Or you can schedule a time with him to pick it up. And this watch. Since you accepted it, you return it Ms. Xu. I’m not taking it.”
This issue wasn’t up for discussion for Xiao Ke as he refused to take it. Lin An hadn’t even dared to give it to him face to face, because he knew deep down that Xiao Ke wouldn’t take it. Lin An had said to him before, “Your name isn’t for no reason, sometimes you are really mean.”
Xiao Ke originally planned to stay home for the evening, but he was not in the mood anymore. After chatting with his parents for a while longer, he planned to find some excuse to leave when he received a call from Fang Qimao.
Xiao Ke picked up and asked him, “What’s up?”
Fang Qimao shouted over the phone with his distorted voice, “Come out and sing, Professor Xiao! I may have to drink tonight, and if I get drunk, you can drive me home!”
This was something Xiao Ke would not do normally, but today, he couldn’t wait to leave and get some fresh air. Thus, he asked for the address before he wished good night to his parents and left the house.
The night breeze that was still hot blew in his face and added to the panic in his heart. Xiao Ke went to the convenience store and bought a pack of Wrigley’s Doublemint and a bottle of icy water.
The gum had been made available in a variety of ways over the years, but Xiao Ke still preferred this age-old version of Doublemint. The extremely minty flavor filled his mouth with only two chews, and he followed it with a mouthful of icy water. It was only then that he could understand what it felt like to have ice in his throat.
Whatever messy thoughts he had were gone, and there was only coldness left.
It felt refreshing and very cooling.
Fang Qimao sent him a location over WeChat, and Xiao Ke replied to him, [OK, wait for Master Xiao.]