Zhou Zui laughed and shook his head as he said, “While you are young…I see you as a child now.”

Xiao Ke took out his ID card to show Zhou Zui his date of birth.
“I’m thirty, for real.”

An extremely handsome guy would look good even on his ID photo.
Zhou Zui looked at Xiao Ke’s much younger face on his ID card and smiled without saying anything.

After they parted, Xiao Ke sat in the back seat of the cab and shrank into a ball with his tail covered.
When he told Zhou Zui that his stomach was hurting, he wasn’t faking it at all.
In fact, he was sweating from the pain in the bar, but he was just pretending to be fine.

He used to have a bad stomach, so Lin An rarely allowed him to drink for two entire years.
However, this was not always the case since he also drank a lot last time on his birthday, but he did not feel the stomach pain then.

This time he was in real pain, and his legs felt weak when he got home.
It might have something to do with the fact that he didn’t eat dinner, and immediately drank on an empty stomach.

This time, his stomach was really upset with him so the pain lasted for several days.
Xiao Ke took medicine every day to cope with it, drank porridge to nourish his stomach in the mornings and evenings, and also didn’t dare touch anything greasy or spicy.

His colleagues in the group knew that he had an upset stomach.
One teacher even gave him a box of monkey brand mushroom cookies while telling him that he should take care of his stomach.

He took a picture of the box of Lion’s mane mushroom cookies1, then sent the photo to Zhou Zui’s private number.
The image was followed by the message, [Next time, I really won’t drink anymore, I will become Xiao Daiyu.] 2

The two messages sank into the sea and no reply was received.

Xiao Ke guessed that Zhou Zui couldn’t respond to him at the moment.
An old man was not so easy to court.
However, it didn’t matter as he didn’t expect anything back.

He could now bring a glass of water to class which allowed him to drink warm water whenever he was thirsty.
Fortunately, the weather was getting cooler, since he wouldn’t have been able to drink the cups of warm water to quench his thirst if the weather had been as hot as it used to be. 

When the class monitor came over to give him hot water, Xiao Ke said, “Thanks.”

“No problem.” The class monitor stood by the lecture table and asked him, “Why are you acting like an old man when you are so young? You have a stomachache?”

“Only an old man can have a stomachache?” Xiao Ke lost his smile.
“I’ve had stomach problems since middle school.”

“Then you still have the root of the disease so the original problem is even harder to fix.” The short class leader said, “I’ll introduce a Chinese doctor to you later, Handsome Xiao, a relative of my family, let him give you a tune-up.”

“Then again, I do not like to drink Chinese medicine, too bitter,” Xiao Ke said.

The class leader said, “You are like a child.”

Xiao Ke looked at him before he said, “Erase the blackboard for me.”

Being a teacher at Xiao Ke’s age often made students feel close to him.
Also Xiao Ke didn’t want to put up a teacher’s front all the time which was why students often had no distance from him so they were without the appearance of a teacher and his students.

As for Xiao Ke’s own sexual orientation, he did not want to be too close to either boys or girls to avoid suspicion.
If others knew of his sexual orientation one day, it wouldn’t look good having harmonious teacher-student relationships.

There were many good-looking boys on the university campus, but he only liked the ones who were older than himself from the beginning while he never had any interest in the ones who were younger than himself.

When considering this, Xiao Ke couldn’t help but think of Zhou Zui again.
He hadn’t talked to him on the phone since the last time they drank together with the two text messages he sent before being the first contact.

Fang Qimao asked him through WeChat, [How far has the chase gotten, Professor Xiao?]

Xiao Ke, [Why are you so gossipy like a girl?]

Marvelous (Qimao) Big Animal, [Little bald head asked me to go for a touch up this week, you want to go together?]

Xiao Ke, [What day?]

Marvelous Big Animal, [Sunday.]

Xiao Ke, [I’ll go.]

Xiao Ke had to go since he was otherwise thinking about contacting Zhou Zui.
He had said that he wanted to pursue him so he passively waited for it.

On Friday night, Xiao Ke went home and stayed overnight before returning on Saturday afternoon.

Xu said that Lin An had taken away the rest of the stuff before he cleaned up the house so there was nothing left.

Xiao Ke said, “Thanks, Mom.” 

“No, I know you too well.
I just didn’t know what was going on with you guys before, otherwise I would have packed up.” HIs mom looked at Xiao Ke and sighed, “Xiao Lin said that the reason for the separation was him.”

Xiao Ke shook his head.
“It doesn’t matter.
Everything is fine.
What’s done is done.”

He and Lin An used to live with his parents for a while because at that time, Xiao Ke’s current house had problems with the heating pipes which took more than a week to be repaired.
The house was still cold even after the repair so they had stayed with his parents during that winter.

“In the future, do not hide anything from the family.
We only worry if you do not say anything.
Your father and I will not blame you, you know that.” She peeled an apple for Xiao Ke and put it into his hand.

Xiao Ke didn’t say anything for a long time, and he just snorted before gnawing on the apple.
It was only when he finished the entire apple that he hugged his mother and patted her on the back while saying, “I’m just afraid that you’ll get angry with me.
I didn’t mean to hide it from you.”

His mom also patted Xiao Ke’s back, and said with a rare gentle tone, “I only have you as a son.
I’m happy as long as you are happy.”

“Yeah.” Xiao Ke nodded and let go of her.
“Then let’s talk about something happy, old lady.”

“What made you happy?”

Xiao Ke smiled and winked at her.
“I have a new love interest.”

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