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Chapter 42: Like the heart pounding when you are young, every bone in your body is expressing your feelings.

Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations

Editor: Mimosa


I hope you will always be happy and spontaneous after any choice.’

These words touched Xiao Ke, and he could understand Zhou Zui’s heart that had incorporated his deep emotions. However, as a matter of fact, Xiao Ke also understood that the words were very nice, but he was leaving him a way out in the end as he was afraid that if they later separated and were not together, then he would be left with a tattoo on his body that would cause him heartache.

It was indeed  touching but did not make Xiao Ke feel happy as his thoughtfulness only allowed Xiao Ke to feel melancholy. The two of them had enough feelings for each other, but there were still some things left to talk about and some problems to be solved. Zhou Zui was too heavy-minded and kept everything in his heart, and Xiao Ke did not talk to him yet because he had not found the opportunity as he was storing it up.

Xiao Ke rubbed Zhou Zui’s head and smiled at him as he said, “I’m happy as long as I’m with you. I don’t plan to have any other choice, you have some faith in me, okay, Mr. Zhou?”

Zhou Zui nodded his head from under Xiao Ke’s hand and smiled slightly as he gave an “Okay”.

Xiao Ke thought to himself that since he had decided not to turn back like him, then he shouldn’t leave him a way out so they should just keep going forward and be free.

Zhou Zui’s character had always been like this as he was used to overthinking about everything. Old Cao, after all, had known Zhou Zui for so many years and knew him too well. He usually did not stop talking, but in fact, he was the most careful with that group of people. Since they met, he sent a few messages to Xiao Ke from time to time to chat. They were quite familiar.

When Old Cao messaged him one day, he asked him, [Ke-ah, being with Old Zhou is quite stifling, right?]

Xiao Ke replied, [No, it’s not a problem, it’s fine.]

He really felt very good since Teacher Zhou was gentle and considerate. He was so good that no one else could experience it and only Xiao Ke knew.

Old Cao said, [You two just rolled together, everything certainly looks good. Let me ask you again after a while. I know too much about Old Zhou, he is a very tough man. I get angry when I look at him.]

Xiao Ke was the most short-sighted, and since Old Cao berated his Teacher Zhou, Xiao Ke could not tolerate him and immediately said, [Then don’t look.]

Old Cao continued to send messages over after a while, [I usually say something out of place, meaning it as a joke, I see you think that I’m serious, but I won’t touch anyone who has been with a friend. I…, I just want to say that Old Zhou is sometimes very difficult, his thought process takes him several turns more than others. But he is really a good guy, you two are quite suitable. If one day, he commits some kind of mistake, you…be more patient. We were worried that the old cucumber fell out of our hands, but you easily took him over so you need to keep him.]

Xiao Ke thought to himself, How could you guys think so lowly of my sweetheart? Obviously I’m going to keep him forever. If anyone tries to take him from me, I won’t let them.

He was laughing when he sent a voice message over to Old Cao that said, “Don’t worry, I’m in charge of what’s mine, I may lack in other things, but I’m definitely patient enough.”

He was now in the throes of romance with Zhou Zui, and he looked a thousand times better everyday. However, Xiao Ke was originally a person that was dedicated to having long-term relationships. This was obvious about Xiao Ke from simply looking at his exes. The only circumstances that existed were “You have wronged me”, “I would never let go of you first”, “If you truly test my morals, then everything from the past doesn’t count anymore”, “Do not touch my bottom line, I have been good to you.”

A new dessert store had opened on the corner which was just two stores away from them. The owner was a young girl who had just graduated and had previously gotten a tattoo from Zhou Zui, which was a coincidence. On the opening day, she came over to deliver a lot of desserts which were all hand-baked and also brought two large containers of ice cream.

Xiao Lin was not in while all the tattoo artists in the store were working so only Xiao Ke, who was a free man, had time. The ice cream was delicious, and the matcha flavor was pure while the cream was not cloying. Small cakes and cookies could be left behind, but the ice cream would melt if it wasn’t eaten.

Xiao Ke was nestled on the sofa while eating ice cream one bite at a time and watched Zhou Zui make a totem for someone. When Zhou Zui looked up at him every now and then, Xiao Ke smiled at him.

Zhou Zui didn’t say anything and just looked at him from time to time.

When Xiao Ke opened the second box and ate a few bites, Zhou Zui suddenly turned off the machine before he said to the person in front of him, “Take a break.”

The man hurriedly stood up and stomped his feet while saying, “I was afraid that you’re in a hurry here and I didn’t have the heart to take a break. My God, my legs are numb.”

Zhou Zui put down the machine and removed his gloves before he came over to Xiao Ke and said, “Give it to me.”

Zhou Zui took it and ate it without any expression, and Xiao Ke looked at it for a while before smiling and asking him, “Do you like it?”

Zhou Zui ate without any expression and shook his head as he said, “No, I don’t like it. But if you continue to eat, then your stomach will hurt, right? It is too cold for there to be a few days without pain.”

Xiao Ke was not able to say anything for a long time and just stared at Zhou Zui while watching him eat. He watched him finish quickly within a few big bites, and then take a cup of water to rinse his mouth. Zhou Zui finished drinking the water before he cleared his throat and saw Xiao Ke still staring at him so he smiled and asked him, “You keep staring at me…Are you unhappy that I ate it all?”

Xiao Ke had nothing to be unhappy about, as his emotions and unhappiness do not go together.

Xiao Ke was a man and never paid attention to what he ate and what he wore since after all, he was not a girl and did not have to live so meticulously. If it were someone else, Xiao Ke would have laughed and said, “I’m just eating a box of ice cream, it’s not that bad,” but the words came out of Zhou Zui’s mouth differently.

Xiao Ke had a taste of what it was like to be thought of.

Xiao Ke stood up and waved at Zhou Zui before he turned around and went into the drawing room first. Zhou Zui followed behind him, and Xiao Ke closed the door with the back of his hand before he directly pressed Zhou Zui against the door to kiss him.

A matcha-flavored kiss that was raging and intense, but the emotion was introspective and gentle.

Xiao Ke finally placed a soft peck on Zhou Zui’s lips and said in a hushed voice against his lips, “You’re too sweet, Teacher Zhou.”

He said this with red eyes as he really liked this man so much that the tip of his heart throbbed with pain. At thirty years old, falling in love felt more emotional and impulsive than it did in the olden days when he was younger. It turned out to be more like a first love than it did in the early twenties which was like the heart pounding when you were younger with every bone in your body talking about love.

Zhou Zui placed one hand a little below Xiao Ke’s waist that gently patted him, and his voice also a little soft, “Don’t seduce me, Professor Xiao. I am not done with work yet.”

Xiao Ke closed his eyes and went over for another kiss before letting go of him.

Zhou Zui continued to work, and Xiao Ke stayed in the studio to look at Zhou Zui’s new works but did not go out. He could understand the ink drawings and paintings, but he really could not understand the tattoo sketches. However, Xiao Ke also did not really want to look at anything because he had just kissed and reacted to that. Now he was waiting to calm himself down before he left. The reason was as simple as that.

Xiao Ke picked up Zhou Zui’s drawings and scraped his fingers on it while remembering Old Cao’s previous message to him that said that since he took him, he would have to keep him. He thought to himself, Why wonder whether or not I’ll keep him forever? If anyone wants to steal him from me, they should think again.

Xiao Ke went out at the right time as Zhou Zui’s phone rang, but he didn’t stop to pick it up. Xiao Ke just happened to go over to pick it up and pressed it against Zhou Zui’s ear while asking him to talk on the phone.

Zhou Zui asked him to turn on the speakerphone, so Xiao Ke turned on the speakerphone and put it aside.

The caller was an old acquaintance of Zhou Zui, and the warmth was obvious in his voice. This person was the organizer of this exhibition and was the head of another prosperous tattoo circle belonging to the city. For this international exhibition to be taken on by the organizer, they had to naturally convince all the tattooists since they may not accept the invitation when it came to position or ability. If they did, then they may not be recognized by others.

In the domestic tattoo circle, this person was very well-known as a master craftsman.

He called this number to ask Zhou Zui to participate in this exhibition, but not to compete or to bring his work to the exhibition, but to do the most important thing which was to be on the judging panel.

Zhou Zui laughed and said, “That’s too much for me, Xiao Dong. I’m not qualified, forget it.”

“Talking like that is a slap on my face and humiliating to me.” The person on the other side of the phone also laughed and said, “You are invited every year, but you never go. This year’s host hit me on the head, so give me face, brother. You’re like a hermit, you’re living too quietly, I’m really envious.”

Zhou Zui still said, “I didn’t prepare in advance, so I don’t have any work. I’m not the only one on the jury, so I can’t just sit there.”

“Bullshit,” that person laughed and scolded. “Quit lying to me, okay? No perfunctory phrases between the two of us. Let’s talk about real stuff. It’s because I think that the current judge panel doesn’t command enough respect that I’m asking you. Old Zong from Taiwan can’t make it, Yan Xian and Gao Shou have stepped down. It was originally still okay, but they kept suing each other and now they’re stuck with a bunch of lawsuits. They only sent some of their apprentices over. None of the real important oldies are fucking coming!”

“I have blisters on my tongue and I do not lie at all, seeing that I have a week left, I am really out of tricks to try to find you. Many international friends are coming now, the exhibition is almost done, and the line and the high life booth next to me is now empty. If you want to come, the spot is yours. Normally you must pay 100,000 a day, but I do not want your money. I will even pay you 100,000 a day.”

Zhou Zui always refused such requests, no matter how much the others persuaded him. This person stayed on the call for a long time, yet he still refused to agree. 

The other side then sighed vigorously and said, “I know you don’t see these and don’t want to get involved. But brother, now those who imitate you on the exhibition have become masters, and you never come out. You do not mix in your name, but only let a group of imitators come out of the line. When they talk about you behind your back, they think you are mentally ill, you are autistic, right?”

Zhou Zui laughed at his words and later said, “If you really need the help, take my work and let Xiaobei give you a design. Come over to pick your own. Give him your contact information and he will write contracts for the ones you like. As for the sketches and designs, you are free to take whatever you like. This time, I also have people participating from the shop, so you can use my name for an exhibition booth, that’s all.”

This was the biggest favor that Zhou Zui could give, but he couldn’t give any more. He could not go to the exhibition in person, and this was not a consideration at all. After so many years, he had not been involved in the circle, and this time, to let an artist from the shop take his work to hang in a booth was already a concession for all the years of sympathy and his friendship with Xiao Dong.

He and Xiao Dong met back at the black district, and for so many years, there was not much contact, but every contact was still a heart-to-heart one. They were simply friends that met when they were young, and there weren’t any benefits or selfishness between the two. They weren’t walking the same road, but there was still a tacit understanding between each other so there was some kind of love.

After hanging up the phone, Zhou Zui continued to calmly make totems for people while the big brother in front of him looked back at him several times before he stretched for a while and finally opened his mouth, “Why are you so cool, master?”

Zhou Zui’s totem was filled with the tongues of divine beasts that were crimson in color and ranged from light to dark, and Zhou Zui said, “I’m not cool, it’s just a character flaw.”

He was not interested in the world of fame and fortune while being too lazy to get involved and even bored. Xiao Ke gently scratched his neck and said, “It’s not a flaw, it’s just a life choice.”

There was nothing right or wrong about the choice, since if he didn’t like it, then he didn’t want anything to do with it, that was all.

Later, when Lu Xiaobei finished his work and came out, Zhou Zui asked him if he was interested and wanted to go.

Lu Xiaobei looked at him and said, “I heard you calling from inside, do you want me to go? I’ll go if you want me to.”

Zhou Zui said, “It’s up to you.”

Lu Xiaobei came over and squatted down next to Zhou Zui before he said in a small voice, “I feel uncomfortable letting someone else take your drawings, it’s not right. They are a resident and they can’t represent you. If your work goes, then I have to go. If you don’t go, then only I can represent Zhou Zui.”

Zhou Zui touched his bald head with his elbow and said with a smile, “It doesn’t matter, just think about whether you want to go or not, don’t think about that.”

“You don’t want to, but I can’t.” Lu Xiaobei looked up at him and also looked at Xiao Ke while he still very quietly said, “Me representing you is not enough, but besides you, there’s only me. Brother Xiao, what do you think?”

Xiao Ke was amused by him so he went over to rub his head before he pressed and shook it, and he said with a smile, “Yes, you are the only one.”

In fact, Xiao Ke had sensed earlier that Lu Xiaobei was a very protective child. He had a kind of obvious possessiveness over his own things like what’s mine is mine, and no one can touch my things. However, the things that he owned were actually very little, excluding those who did not care on the outside, there was only his master left. In this regard, he had been bitten to death. Any other of the shop’s other tattoo artists could not say that they were apprentices as they were resident tattooers, and Zhou Zui’s apprentice was only him and no one else.

Lu Xiaobei squatted there while thinking for a while before he stood up and said, “If your name goes, then I will go, and if not, then I will not go. I’ll contact Xiao Dong later and ask him.”

When he finished and was about to leave, Zhou Zui asked him, “You’re just going to take my name? What about your own stuff? Get ready, bring two people, bring some designs, and join the live group if you have time.”

Lu Xiaobei said, “I won’t bring it, I’m too lazy to do it. It’s annoying. Besides, I’m afraid of embarrassing you. People will take a look, and go, tsk, Zhou Zui’s apprentice is only at this dog level, huh?”

Zhou Zui said indifferently, “Zhou Zui’s apprentice would win a prize just like playing a game.”

Although Xiao Ke often thought that the two brothers were very individualistic, it was at this moment that Xiao Ke really felt that the two brothers were too cool like the gods of personality.

Lu Xiaobei said, “Come on, there’s only one week left, where am I going to find models?”

He was saying this one day, but the next day, someone seriously offered to model for him while smiling, “I can model for you. You can do whatever you want, as long as it’s not the neck and wrists that can be seen.”


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2 Tell us your thoughts on the chapter.
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March 20, 2023 12:54 am

I hope it wasn’t Xiao Ke who said that. Zhou Zui may get upset😳 thanks for updating ❤️❤️

March 20, 2023 1:35 am

Yep, ZZ is very cool… or indifferent?.. or is indifference cool? 😉
I wonder if the model is the guy with the tattoo related to his cat.
I have a feeling this will further stir up ZZ’s world.
Thanks for translating and editing.

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