Chapter 1: Happy birthday, may you always be as charming and naive as you once were.


Xiao Ke looked at the short sentence email on his screen, then looked at the two words “Lin An” at the end.
He couldn’t tell how he felt.
He took a sip of his freshly brewed coffee which slightly burned his mouth.
He put down the cup and exhaled.
He then put his hand on the keyboard and typed out a reply.

–Thank you.

Only one phrase was typed out, and Xiao Ke clicked send.
It wasn’t his style to say much, and there wasn’t really any need to mention anything about their relationship.

Whether it was his former lover or ex-lover, it felt awkward to say anything since the relationship was over.

Xiao Ke looked at the time.
It was a little past 8:50 p.m., almost nine o’clock.
He lived in an apartment near the street, and the floor was not very high up, and the street lights outside at that time were so bright that they were a little dazzling.

He kept receiving messages from his work group.
An experiment he had been working on had recently reached the final stage, and the whole group was in a state of excitement while waiting for the final data results.
It had almost taken a long time to complete, and they all wanted to split the project bonus.

Someone in the group asked him, [Professor Xiao, were you the last one that left tonight? Has the lab been locked? I left my phone there.]

Xiao Ke replied, [Locked it already.
Do you want to go get it?]

The other person replied, [Yes, I want to go get it.
Are you home? Is it convenient for me to stop by your place to get the key?]

Xiao Ke replied, [Wait for me at North Gate.
I’m leaving anyway and it’s on the way.
I’ll be there in about 15 minutes.]

The other side immediately sent a large slurry of kneeling crying emojis.
Xiao Ke laughed and turned off the computer.

For the very first time, he wore a short leather jacket that still had the stench of suede.
His black pants beautifully outlined his legs, with the very bottom showing a tiny sliver of ankle.
Whichever angle one looked from, this man was eye-catching.
The only thing wrong was that there was a scar on his ankle, a light white raised bump.
This was a bit incongruous, but it also added a bit of sexiness.

When Xiao Ke looked at himself in the mirror, he scratched his head and thought to himself, This body is really a bit sultry.

After he changed his clothes and scrunched his hair, he picked up a black mask and put it on before he left the house.
This outfit was so different from how he usually dressed up at work that his colleague didn’t recognize him even though he was standing across from him.

Xiao Ke reached up to take off the mask and smiled, “Good evening, young man.”

“Motherfucker! You scared me!” His colleague took a small step to the side.
He laughed it off once he calmed down, then stared at him before saying, “I didn’t recognize you! Your hair is styled differently, so I didn’t think it was you.”

“What do I usually look like?” Xiao Ke handed him the keys.
“Just keep the keys in your pocket after you use them, and give them to me tomorrow.”

“Okay.” His colleague remained smiling, as he looked at him and said, “Usually you’re quite handsome, but still following the norm.
Today, you’re really hip.
What are you planning on doing like this?”

Xiao Ke laughed, “Usually I’m simple, today I’m non-mainstream.
Anyway, it’s all the same.”

“I’m annoyed with you capitalist pigs who boast shamelessly.” The colleague accused him before he waved his hand.
“Don’t waste your time.
Hurry up for that date or whatever it is that you are doing.
Don’t worry.
I will definitely keep it a secret, and not tell the others that you also have such…a look.”

Xiao Ke asked, “What look?”

His co-worker lifted his eyelids and laughed, “I have to be direct, huh? What kind is something you should know in your own heart? Handsome Xiao, it’s slutty!”

Xiao Ke laughed and talked to his colleague for several more minutes before the car he called arrived.
The colleague waved his hand to him and ran to the laboratory building.

Xiao Ke got into the car and the driver asked him, “Chufeng Road, right?”

Xiao Ke answered with a “yes.”

After that, no one spoke in the car again.

The driver glanced at him through the rearview mirror a few times.
Xiao Ke kept his head lowered to look at his phone, pulled out his mask from his pocket, and fastened it onto his face.

As a teacher, he required his students to look at him during class.
Even though he was in a classroom where many people focused on him, and he communicated with students through sight every day, strangely enough, he didn’t actually like people looking at him when he was not in his work clothes.

Other people’s attention didn’t make him uncomfortable, but invariably he doesn’t feel well and wanted to cringe.

The driver couldn’t be blamed for sizing him up since Chufeng Road was a bar street.
Xiao Ke positioned the location for Su Chi which was considered chaotic even though it was on Chufeng Road.
The drivers who frequently drove around the area were all aware that the people who went there to have fun weren’t considered normal.

There were girls who looked like men and men who looked like women, which was sort of the most common thing there, plus there were all sorts of oddballs.
It was like a gathering place for all sorts of weirdos.

Later on, the driver couldn’t hold himself back, as he looked into the rearview mirror and asked, “Young man, did you spray on perfume? It smells good.”

“I did.” Xiao Ke replied.

The driver asked more questions, “Are you a student at X University? How old are you?”

The driver’s probing eyes were clearly sizing him up.
Xiao Ke slightly smiled behind his mask.
“How old do you think I look?”

“A junior or a senior, right?” The driver looked at him two more times.
“I can’t tell.”

Xiao Ke hummed in response.
Since he was about to arrive at his destination, he tucked

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