Chapter 31: “Is this because you miss me, Teacher Zhou?”
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The New Year had been late, and Xiao Ke had to go back to work before the Lantern Festival. This semester, he led two classes which were only four times a week, two four-hour sections and two two-hour sections so he had plenty of free time.
After the new year, all the colleagues in the group had gained a lot of weight, and Xiao Ke brought a few boxes of imported chocolates for several female colleagues to share.
“Since there is a little Xiao in the office, it’s getting harder and harder for us to integrate.” Professor Xu was a middle-aged man who had been teaching for more than a decade, and had recently started to put on weight. He was the kind of teacher that students considered the most frightening and difficult to understand as they had many assignments and exams to pass.
Another older female professor laughed at him. “I haven’t seen you give anything to your colleagues for so many years, and that year you gave me tea bags, you ended up drinking them in the office.”
“Do not insult me,” Professor Xu laughed two times and said, “Your students have my class this semester, who says I won’t flunk your students?”
The female professor’s last name was Lin, and she was also a master’s director. She sat back in her chair and said, “I don’t dare to mess with you, but don’t mess with me. My students are going on an exchange program next year.”
Xiao Ke smiled and listened to their small talk. In fact, they had just started to work again and were not used to it since they were accustomed to being casual during this time at home. He sat on the chair and yawned while casually updating his status as a post, [It’s the end of the holiday, and did not have enough sleep. So hard.]
On the first day of work, it was inevitable that there would be a meeting. While the dean spoke during the meeting, he tried really hard to hide the fact that he was sleepy. After the dean spoke, the assistant dean spoke, then the head of the department, and lastly their team leader. After each speech, Xiao Ke’s brain was muddled, and he felt dizzy when he left due to the aftermath of the holiday. He didn’t know how many days it would take to adjust.
Once he returned to the office, he took out his phone from the drawer, but there were no messages. He opened WeChat and saw that there were a lot of comments on his post. He looked at them one by one, and his finger suddenly stopped when he read a certain one, and then he couldn’t help himself but to smile.
It was Zhou Zui who commented to him with an expression of a green gift box, on a small box, that did not say anything. This was the first time Zhou Zui commented on Xiao Ke’s status, and the comments below it were lively.
Lin Xuan replied to Zhou Zui, [Yo.]
Fang Xi replied to Zhou Zui, [Tsk.]
Old Zhu replied to Zhou Zui, [What?]
Old Cao replied to Zhou Zui, [Why are you two so unrestrained?]
As they mocked his idol, Xiao Ke could not bear it and thought about it before replying to Zhou Zui, [[kiss kiss][kiss kiss].]
Professor Xiao gave you support.
After receiving the gift, Xiao Ke’s head did not feel dizzy and his vitality increased. What was this so-called holiday sequelae? It does not exist.
In fact, Zhou Zui had not meant to deliberately send that. However, after seeing Xiao Ke’s status, he wanted to comment on it but couldn’t think of what to say, and he didn’t know which expression to send. Thinking about what Xiao Ke said on New Year’s Eve, Zhou Zui was actually more or less ashamed after sending it.
With a shy expression on his face, he didn’t even want to look at his phone again.
Lu Xiaobei, with his crossbody bag, ran into the store and stomped his legs while jumping, “Holy shit! Ah, ah, ah, ah, it’s freezing! My bones are freezing and cracking.”
“Aren’t you doing it to yourself?” Another tattoo artist in the shop had a client in the afternoon so he was doing preparatory work, and he looked at him as he said with a smile, ” Do you see anyone else here wearing a pair of skinny jeans in winter and showing ankles? How much confidence do you have?”
Lu Xiaobei was stamping his legs, “I only take a few steps outside my car anyway, but I didn’t know it was that bad today. I’m freezing to death taking these few steps.”
After Lu Xiaobei recovered, he squatted on his chair to look at his phone, and after a while, he suddenly called out to Zhou Zui, “Brother, you’re coming back to earth from the immortal world?”
Zhou Zui knew he must be talking about his comment to Xiao Ke so he ignored him.
Lu Xiaobei wandered over later while Zhou Zui was drawing designs for the next two days at his desk. Lu Xiaobei sat on the chair next to him. At first he didn’t speak, but after a while, he couldn’t help himself but to ask in a low voice, “Brother, about Tang Yaning…Have you talked to my Brother Xiao?”
The brush in Zhou Zui’s hand paused for a moment before he continued to draw and said, “No.”
“I didn’t think you had either,” Lu Xiaobei said.
Zhou Zui was making a leg bracelet for tomorrow which was a set of realistic chains, and he kept his head down as he drew. Lu Xiaobei spoke up again after a while, and there was a little hesitation in his voice, “You’re not going to mention it?”
This time, Zhou Zui didn’t stop moving and said, “I haven’t found a chance.”
It was true that there was no chance, and he didn’t know how to bring the topic up. The only opportunity was on New Year’s Day, but that day, Zhou Zui had failed to do so. Xiao Ke was lying comfortably on his couch while listening to him talk about the past, and Zhou Zui wanted to start talking about it several times, but ended up swallowing his words. In such a comfortable atmosphere and on such a good night, he did not want to ruin it by mentioning such a heavy-handed topic. He was too afraid to bring it up.
“Okay.” Lu Xiaobei nodded, and whispered after a while, “I think…you shouldn’t hide it from him. After hearing my Brother Xiao’s words from the other day, I was a little unsure, I was afraid that he would be upset about this.”
Zhou Zui let out a “hmm” before he said, “I don’t want to hide it from him.”
It was true that he didn’t want to hide it from him, but during this period, Xiao Ke had a lot of things to do since school had just started. After that, he didn’t come to the shop for two weeks in a row and just chatted with him every night while the two of them did not see each other.
Zhou Zui asked him one night, “Are you coming this week?”
“Yes!” Xiao Ke answered very quickly. “Then I have to go, there’s nothing to do this week.”
“Okay.” Zhou Zui smiled.
“You…” Xiao Ke was lying on the bed and had an upturned look on his face that could be heard at the end of his words. He deliberately paused after saying that one word before asking, “Is this because you miss me, Teacher Zhou?”
Zhou Zui’s side was silent. He was not used to speaking directly in the face of these questions, and it was only after a long time that he gave a very low “hmm” sound.
“Hahahaha, okay,” Xiao Ke felt so beautiful that he closed his eyes and squeezed the pillow onto one side. “Wait for me.”
The day they called Wednesday was when Xiao Ke hadn’t seen the man for more than ten days even though he actually thought about Mr. Zhou every day. The two of them right now were in a limbo that could change with a single sentence, but Xiao Ke really didn’t want to force it. This kind of deep ambiguity was one that he liked the most; one that was filled with feelings and romanticism. Both parties had actually acquiesced to the next process, but Xiao Ke did not want to pull the progress bar as that cupcake that he had been craving for a long time, the more he craved it, the more delicious it was. This was not only true for him, but for Zhou Zui as well.
After hanging up the phone, Xiao Ke closed his eyes before he rolled over with a smile on his face, thinking that Professor Xiao’s piece of cake was delicious.
However, Zhou Liwu was also very difficult to pursue since it had already been almost six months.
He was originally scheduled to go to the parlor on Saturday since his man was there for him to seduce, but he couldn’t stand it so he left early on Friday afternoon to drive to the parlor. On the way, he also went around to buy a few roasted rabbits since their Lu Xiaobei especially loved to eat them.
Once he pushed the door in, Lu Xiaobei happened to be smoking outside and saw him so he whistled.
Xiao Ke handed him the lunch boxes he was carrying and asked, “Does Teacher Zhou have any work?”
“No,” Lu Xiaobei took the lunch boxes and told him, “Your Teacher Zhou didn’t sleep all night last night and is upstairs catching up on his sleep.”
“Didn’t sleep all night?” Xiao Ke raised his eyebrows. Seeing Lu Xiaobei directly take out a rabbit leg and gnaw on it without washing his hands was a bit unbearable. “What did he do to stay up all night?”
“Worked.” Lu Xiaobei was particularly content while eating so he ate as he said, “A little brother changed his flight and had to leave today, so my big brother rushed it for him.”
Xiao Ke frowned and said, “No one treats our old man like a human being.”
His old man was still a human being, and shouldn’t have to stay up all night long to work while missing out on his sleep. The elderly group rarely work overtime as that would hurt their hearts.
Xiao Ke knew that Zhou Zui had rushed last night, because Zhou Zui was still in the shop when he called, and they had only said a few words before he went to bed. He really did not expect the man to directly work an all-nighter.
Xiao Lin was talking to a tattoo artist in the inner room when she saw Xiao Ke, and she raised her hand to wave at him before he went upstairs. The door to Zhou Zui’s bedroom upstairs was closed, but Xiao Ke didn’t knock and straightaway opened the door to head in.
Zhou Zui was sleeping soundly, and his breathing was steady. Last night, the man did not go home, and did not shave so he had new stubble on his face. The room previously had a chair, but it was nowhere in sight so Xiao Ke directly sat on the bed without being too close to Zhou Zui since he was quite careful when sitting.
As a result, as soon as he was next to the bed and before he sat down, Zhou Zui’s eyes opened and stared straight at him.
Xiao Ke unexpectedly met his eyes and was not psychologically prepared so he froze. He finally reacted and smiled as he prepared to speak, but Zhou Zui suddenly flinched backwards.
Xiao Ke frowned and asked softly, “What’s wrong? Did I…Did I scare you again?”
This scene was inexplicably familiar as it happened once before so Xiao Ke reached out to pat him, but Zhou Zui didn’t let him touch him and right away sat up.
Xiao Ke’s outstretched hand was still frozen in place as he was baffled by Zhou Zui’s reaction. He blinked and laughed, “You’re hiding from me, Teacher Zhou? Time to get up? Little princess?”
Zhou Zui stared at him and didn’t say anything for a while as he just watched.
Xiao Ke raised his eyebrows and whispered, “You had a nightmare? Don’t be afraid.”
Zhou Zui seemed to have returned to his senses only at this point and averted his eyes before he tightly scrunched his brow.
“What’s wrong?” Xiao Ke tentatively reached over, and when he did not dodge, he gently patted him several times, “I thought you were sleeping quite well, otherwise I would not have sat down. Sorry I woke you up.”
“No, it has nothing to do with you.” Zhou Zui shook his head with his head still down and his voice muffled, “Professor Xiao, let’s talk.”
“Sure, let’s talk.” Xiao Ke was surprised that this person wanted to talk as soon as he woke up, but he loved to listen to whatever Zhou Zui said so he obviously agreed.
Zhou Zui sat for a while longer before getting out of bed and saying, “I’ll clean up a bit.”
“Okay.” Xiao Ke could see that he was not in a good mood so he did not talk much.
However, the conversation didn’t work out after all as when Zhou Zui just came back from washing up. Xiao Ke already stood up and said, “Sorry, let’s talk some other time. My mom just called and said that my aunt is in the hospital, I have to go see what’s going on.”
Zhou Zui frowned. “Oh, go on then. Do you want me to go with you?”
Xiao Ke shook his head before he went over to him and touched his head with his hand. He felt the stubble sticking to his hand, and then he tugged on his ear.
Xiao Ke whispered very softly in his ear, “Did you just get scared? I’ve patted your head, so don’t be scared.”
His hand did have a calming power, and the restlessness and anxiety in Zhou Zui’s heart now eased up a lot.
Zhou Zui said, “Go on, and don’t drive in a hurry.”
“All right,” Xiao Ke smiled at him. “Don’t worry, it is probably hypoglycemia again, an old problem. I’ll go check it out.”
In fact, as Xiao Ke had guessed, she was hypoglycemic and woke up after two glucagon injections at the hospital. When she fainted, Dr. Xu was also there. Since they weren’t at her hospital, the ambulance took them directly there. The hospital was not a good place to stay so when she woke up, she wanted to go home. As there was nothing seriously wrong with her, she went her own way. His cousin sent his aunt home, and Xiao Ke sent his mother home.
When they arrived home, Xiao Ke had to stay and eat before leaving so he sent a message to Zhou Zui, [She’s fine, see you tomorrow.]
This message didn’t have a reply from Zhou Zui as it probably was not seen.
His mom asked Xiao Ke what his plans were for tomorrow.
Xiao Ke said, “Why? Is something wrong?”
Dr. Xu shook her head, “Nothing, just asking.”
Xiao Ke laughed, “My schedule is very full.”
It was true that it was a full schedule from morning to night.
On Saturday morning, Xiao Ke got up and went to the shop after cleaning up. When he got to the door, there was a man who came in with him. When the man raised his hand and pushed open the door, Xiao Ke saw that he had a knife tattooed on his hand with a human eye on the knife while the tip of the knife was pointed towards the web between the thumb and forefinger which was a cool design but looked too fierce.
The man saw Xiao Ke also wanted to enter, after pushing open the door, he smiled and made a gesture, indicating that he should go in.
Xiao Ke smiled and didn’t be polite, lifted his leg and went in.
He thought Xiao Lin was the only one in the shop at this time, but it turned out that Zhou Zui and Lu Xiaobei were both there. Zhou Zui took Lu Xiaobei’s draft and gave him the illustration, saying that some of his lines were too superfluous.
Xiao Ke came in and Lu Xiaobei looked up and saw him before raising his hand, “So early…? What’s up?”
Halfway through his sentence, he saw the person who came in behind Xiao Ke and was a bit stunned at first, but after a while his eyes turned round, “What are you doing here, Mr. Feng Lei?”
Xiao Ke looked back and saw the man smiling in the direction of Zhou Zui and Lu Xiaobei, then he bowed his hand and said with a smile, ” Happy New Year, big brother.”
This isn’t that “third brother” referred to when the triad guys visited ZZ’s place a few chapters ago? But LX doesn’t seem particularly agitated; more surprised.
So much abot ZZ still needs to be revealed and I’m on tenterhooks!
Thanks for translating and editing.
Feng Lei is the tattoo master?