Chapter 9: “You are not allowed to say that about my idol.”
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lu Xiaobei was not talking nonsense since he had indeed followed at Zhou Zui’s side for so many years so he understood this person. Anyone with eyes could tell that he was interested in Zhou Zui, and did not even think about hiding it. These types of people were actually quite a lot since the customers who came to get tattoos sometimes felt that Zhou Zui was handsome so they wanted to pester him for a while, but there was never really any result.
This person, Xiao Ke, was not obnoxious, but also really understood things. Every time he came, he did not talk much nor did he disturb their work. The high intellectuals were indeed different, and even though he didn’t know much about him, he felt that this person was quite cultured after just a few encounters.
Later, Xiao Ke came again a few times, usually over the weekend with each time being without an appointment in advance, and he came whenever he wanted to come even if Zhou Zui was in or not. If he was there, he would talk to him, but if he wasn’t, he would talk to Lu Xiaobei and Xu Lin. Xu Lin was the nail girl in the front room, and she was pretty receptive to Xiao Ke since she was willing to chat with him.
Time passed, and they got acquainted along with several other tattoo artists with the exception of a couple who recently went abroad to study but were to return next year. The two computers in the shop belonged to Lu Xiaobei and a boy who was abroad. Xiao Ke had thought one of them belonged to Zhou Zui.
Lu Xiaobei laughed and said, “Forget it. My big brother is like a great immortal. He doesn’t even look at his phone much, let alone play games.”
At that time, Xiao Ke looked at Zhou Zui. Zhou Zui was tattooing someone at the back with a flower covering their arm which was a lot of work.
Xiao Ke asked Lu Xiaobei, “So what does he usually do?”
“Tattoos, painting, and then free to do something else.” Lu Xiaobei’s eyes rose from the phone screen before he looked at Xiao Ke for a moment and smiled obliquely, “Or sending off the suitors.”
Xiao Ke made him laugh with his eyebrows scrunched up and a joking expression on his face. “How does he send them off?”
“By leaving them hanging.” Lu Xiaobei looked down at his phone again, but his face still had a smile on it. “He hid to draw whenever people were sitting, and he didn’t answer whenever people talked.”
Xiao Ke heard Lu Xiaobei say this to him, but also did not take it seriously. Xiao Ke also smiled. He was quite familiar with Lu Xiaobei, and the child was sometimes quite funny. Xiao Ke also knew that Zhou Zui occasionally seemed to avoid him so hearing this didn’t affect him, and he just continued to talk with Lu Xiaobei.
While pursuing someone, it was not fun to get them as soon as it started because there was no sense of accomplishment. Professor Xiao had prepared for a long-term battle, and he had to catch this person. On that day, Xiao Ke did not say many words to Zhou Zui, and Zhou Zui had not moved much since the tattoo started. As he gave the tattoo, the big brother was asleep so Zhou Zui was still in the same position. Xiao Ke looked at him and felt that his back was stiffening with neck pain.
“Have you always worked like this?” Xiao Ke asked Lu Xiaobei. “All day long, just like this?”
Lu Xiaobei laughed. “More than a day, sometimes a big job is dozens of hours. After work, all the bones are clicking, and are fucking soon to fall apart.”
Xiao Ke frowned and shook his head. “That won’t do.”
“You are thinking about my big brother, right?” Lu Xiaobei squinted at him and said with a smile, “You don’t have to think about it, my big brother doesn’t do things in a hurry. He’ll only work eight hours at the most, and he’ll have a massage afterwards so his bones are fine.”
Xiao Ke looked at Zhou Zui twice as he frowned but did not say anything. He then sat for a while longer before leaving.
Lu Xiaobei’s mouth couldn’t stop. After Xiao Ke left, he sat next to Zhou Zui to continue talking, and smiled as he asked him, “Brother, you’re not the same this time, huh?You just heard him, right? He’s heartbroken, tsk.”
Zhou Zui ignored him and squeezed his neck before he pushed him to the side.
Lu Xiaobei continued to press on, “Why don’t you just say it clearly? Delaying is not part of your character, ah?”
Zhou Zui lowered his eyes and swept him a glance. “What do you want to say?”
“I just want to say that this time, he is actually your favorite, right?” Lu Xiaobei chewed on the gum in his mouth and blew out a small bubble. “Don’t you like mature people who know what they’re talking about?”
Zhou Zui still did not answer his words, so Lu Xiaobei continued, “In fact, I think Brother Xiao is not bad. He’s good-looking ah, his body and appearance are excellent, and his personality is also good.”
Lu Xiaobei was intent on being annoying, purposefully asking to be glared at by Zhou Zui. However, Xiao Ke truly was Zhou Zui’s type so he was not wrong. Since the first time Xiao Ke and his friend had come to get a tattoo, Lu Xiaobei had actually felt that something was going on as his big brother had been the one to give out his contact information. According to his speculation, if his big brother wasn’t interested at all, he probably wouldn’t have handed out his business card.
However, after observing for a period of time, he found that his big brother remained nonchalant in that way without any other thoughts so Lu Xiaobei secretly felt disappointed.
All these years, Zhou Zui never had anyone around him for reasons Lu Xiaobei knew about. He couldn’t blame his big brother, but he still hoped that there would be a person who could lend him a hand. However, so many years had passed without it happening so he gradually stopped thinking about it.
On Xiao Ke’s side, there was basically no progress, but he still pursued him every day with vigor while feeling young at heart.
In the last two years, he didn’t have any interest in anyone, but now that he met someone, he felt like he was back to his twenties now that his fighting spirit was stirred up. .
Every year, he used to go out for a few days during the National Day holiday but would not go too far since he didn’t like crowded planes so he usually drove to places nearby him. This year, he was not going anywhere in order to chase Zhou Zui so his vacation was spent in the tattoo parlor.
However, even though he spent his entire break there, nothing came out of it since Zhou Zui was only in the shop for three days and didn’t show up the rest of the time.
Xu Lin told Xiao Ke, “The boss doesn’t come every day, he has one job a day, but sometimes the customers have something to do, so he may not come during his free time.”
Xiao Ke commented, “It’s okay, it doesn’t matter.”
He stayed in the shop so long that a girl with a tattoo appointment came over and asked him, “This handsome man, are you also a tattoo artist here? Can I make an appointment with you?”
Xiao Ke smiled and shook his head. “No, I’m not.”
“Yo, that’s a shame,” The woman said. “I thought that if the tattoo artist is very handsome, I can use it as a distraction to reduce the pain.”
Xiao Ke smiled and reassured her, “Don’t worry, Teacher Zhou is much more handsome than me.”
“Forget it, I have seen Mr. Zhou.” The woman looked young, presumably a college student, and also loved to chat, “Last time, my roommate was tattooed by Mr. Zhou and he was too serious, handsome but scary. She was so nervous, she felt more pain.”
Lu Xiaobei was chatting with her about the pattern and the time was roughly scheduled, so he raised an eyebrow and asked after listening to what she said, “Then how do you see me?”
The little girl raised her eyes to look at him carefully, and felt a little embarrassed as she said, “Mr. Zhou is better.”
“….” Lu Xiaobei was quite shocked and asked her, “I’m not handsome, huh?”
The little girl touched her nose and said, “No, our ages are too close. I’m shy.”
Xiao Ke laughed twice, and Lu Xiaobei felt a little helpless. However, he really did not like to give girls tattoos as it was troublesome. It was a little uncomfortable for little girls to face male tattoo artists. If it was on the arms, then it was okay, but tattooing other parts felt more or less a bit awkward. He had been doing this for many years, and he didn’t feel distracted no matter where the tattoo was. However, girls made him uncomfortable, especially when they wanted it on the base of their thigh or on their chests.
The young girl finished as she was afraid of shocking Lu Xiaobei, and added a sentence to redeem herself a little, “Mr. Zhou is older after all, and uncle-like, so it is slightly less embarrassing.”
Lu Xiaobei laughed after hearing this sentence, but Xiao Ke was not so happy to hear it as it simply stabbed his fan-like heart. He imitated Xu Lin’s words and said, “Don’t you talk about my idol like that.”
The little girl was amused by him so she covered her mouth and kept laughing. Lu Xiaobei looked at him and said, “Brother Xiao, your idol is thirty-five, turning thirty-six in two months. He really is old to us.”
The magazine roll in Xiao Ke’s hand knocked on Lu Xiaobei’s bald head. Instead of staying in the room, he went to the front room to squat while waiting for the take-out, and he threw out a sentence to Lu Xiaobei, “Don’t eat the rabbit head when it comes, all the spicy rabbit head belongs to my thirty-five year old idol.”
The rabbit head was Lu Xiaobei’s favorite, and he liked the spicy taste. On that day, Xiao Ke left before Zhou Zui got there. He only came to hang out in the shop during his free time out of habit. It wasn’t a must for him to see the other man.
Since Xiao Ke was thirty years old, he was not the same as he was when he was about twenty years old, which was when he liked to go after people with a bang. However, since he had passed his prime, he didn’t like that anymore so he just wanted to brush him up with his presence from time to time to leave some marks in his humdrum life.
The first time Lin An was also chased by Xiao Ke in a high-profile way, and at that time, Lin An was already working in the design institute. Lin An’s character was quiet and introverted while Xiao Ke loved to play at that time with a cheerful personality, and the two of them looked like quite a good match. The two of them went out for a walk and if they met a florist, Xiao Ke would definitely go in and bring out a bunch of roses that were bright and warm which was like Xiao Ke the person who was hot and dazzling.
Xiao Ke remembered that he hadn’t sent any flowers yet. How could he pursue someone without sending flowers? It was okay to be a bit more boring and lowkey, but it was unacceptable to not give flowers. That would seem too insincere.
Xiao Ke was lying in bed and ordered a bouquet of 35 roses to be delivered tomorrow. In fact, he wanted to order 99 roses, but he used to send Lin An 99 roses so he did not like this number, and instead ordered the number mentioned by Lu Xiaobei. Thirty-five flowers wasn’t a lot, and it was a pretty small handful when tied tightly together.
Xiao Ke sent a WeChat to Xu Lin asking what time Zhou Zui was scheduled to work the next day. Xu Lin said it was in the afternoon, so Xiao Ke said to customer service, “Please send it to this address for me in the afternoon. No one will pick it up in the morning, thank you.”
The next day at 2 p.m., the flowers Xiao Ke ordered were delivered on time. At that time, Zhou Zui was in the tattoo room preparing. He had a small table full of inks since his customer in the afternoon was using a lot of colors, and he was mixing them. The door to the room was left open, and Lu Xiaobei carried a bouquet of flowers before knocking on the door twice. Zhou Zui looked up at him, and he indicated that he had something to say.
Lu Xiaobei deliberately twisted his arm and came in. He threw the flowers into his lap, and winked ambiguously. “Is Mr. Zhou here? There are flowers for you.”
Zhou Zui looked at him with raised eyebrows as he was wondering what he was up to.
“Your little brother asked for it.” Lu Xiaobei pointed to the flowers on his lap which were a red-colored handful. “Isn’t it romantic, Mr. Zhou?”
“Take them away.” Zhou Zui did not put down his hands to look at the flowers, and said to Lu Xiaobei, “Do not fool around.”
“I’m fooling around, huh?” Lu Xiaobei cried while laughing. “I did not order it. Your fan brother really sent them. Brother Xiao said he’d send a bouquet a day for a month.”
— “Oooh, brother Xiao?” Today’s customer was a pretty cool girl, and she heard the problem after listening to Lu Xiaobei. She looked at the flowers in Zhou Zui’s lap and then at Lu Xiaobei, “Fanboy? A male, huh?”
Lu Xiaobei nodded. “Yup.”
The girl then gave a thumbs up to Zhou Zui. “A hundred years of good luck.”
Zhou Zui was a little helpless so he continued to do the test coloring without saying anything. His eyebrows and eyelashes were very thick, and his eyelashes would block his eyes very tightly when he looked down so others couldn’t see his emotions.
The girl said, “If you don’t want it that much, why don’t you give it to me? I’ll take it to my girlfriend later.”
She then reached for the flowers.
Zhou Zui turned slightly sideways while gently raising his arm to block it, and said indifferently, “No, it’s not polite.”
The girl looked up and made eye contact with Lu Xiaobei. Lu Xiaobei grinned and then, “tsk tsk tsked” as he wandered out of the room.