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wildfire CH 37

Author:Bu Wen San Jiu Not Asking If It's Three Or Nine Category:urban Update time:2023-01-01 02:56:11


​​Tao Xiaodong finished the plate of fruits.

He had been unconsciously taking fruits to eat as he spoke, and when he next looked down, there was none left.

Tang Suoyan had wanted to cut more for him but Tao Xiaodong said that he had enough.

He set the plate aside, rubbing his stomach.

“Even my belly feels cold.”

“Stop eating, then,” said Tang Suoyan.

They spent a long time conversing that evening.

Tao Xiaodong deliberately talked about himself, sharing stories about his early days picking up the trade, including the places he had been.

By and by, he had travelled far and wide and seen many sights.

He had gone to Africa with two other friends to immerse in the roots of tribal tattoos, worming into an inaccessible, conservative tribe, and was almost unable to return.

He stayed in America for a year, experiencing African-American culture and checking out the increasingly modern and diverse tattoo styles.

In Japan, he had even apprenticed under a tattoo artist, where he learned the old traditions; the lotus, the carp, the begonia, and the snake.

For a very long time the domestic tattoo scene was stuck in imitation; he, as well.

“What inspired you to get into this” Tang Suoyan asked him.

“At first I thought I could make money with it.” Thinking back on his teenage self amused Tao Xiaodong.

“There was a parlour at the school gates.

The tattoo artist there could get a few hundred for drawing a flower on someone’s body.

I thought it was easy money.

It’s just drawing a flower, I can draw that too.”

That was the way Tao Xiaodong was.

He initially got into the trade because he believed it was profitable.

That was why Tao Xiaodong never talked about his dreams or aspirations, attributing it all to money.

He didn’t say it just to stand out.

It was the honest truth.

“So did you make money” Tang Suoyan laughed at this, asking him.

“Make money More like lose it.” Tao Xiaodong rapped his fingers rhythmically on his thigh.

It was a trying time for him.

“I thought it was easy at first, but it was only after I got into it that I found out how hard it was.

I botched my very first job.

Paid that guy off so that he could get the tattoo covered up elsewhere.”

Tao Xiaodong pointed at his elbow area.

“Around there, it got deformed when I was only halfway done.

In the end, I couldn’t make it work; the two sides didn’t match.

I was broke back then.

My father’s eyesight had already started to fail and my family was poor.

I had splurged my savings from pulling hours at a karaoke bar on a tattoo gun.

At that time, even meals were hard to come by.

Tian Yi gave me half his lunch money.

My bro wouldn’t let me starve, not on his watch.”

It was inconceivable that Tao Xiaodong had such a rough patch from the way he was now.

He was successful; his parlour was over a thousand square feet.

He had the finances to donate a few million yuan without batting an eye.

“I was still young.

I didn’t know how high the sky was.

I entered the trade all muddle-headed and that was when I discovered that I knew nothing at all.

But I didn’t give in.

I learned odds and ends here and there.

I learned a lot and thought it’d be enough, but it wasn’t.

It was just a small crest; there were countless even more massive mountains behind, with peaks that I couldn’t even see.”

“But I was stubborn.

The more I learned, the more determined I was, and the more I wanted to stand with the giants.” Tao Xiaodong gesticulated mountains in front of him with his arm.

“But there are too many amazing artists out there.”

It had been a long time since Tao Xiaodong last shared so much.

He didn’t like discussing the past, the experiences and hardships during those years.

And as time passed, he grew disinclined to mentioning them.

In moments to himself, when recollecting those days and then seeing where he was now—in comparison, it did look as if he had made it.

“I didn’t make much money at the start.

I was roaming the world.

I set aside half of my earnings for my little brothers and kept the remaining for travelling and tuition, working and studying as I travelled.

It’s difficult to maintain that kind of living.

The kids were exhausted by the moving about.

Tian Yi and Xia Yuan sometimes slid and sometimes shoved money at us.

Later on I met Da Huang.

He said that I’d definitely make it.

He told me to do whatever I wanted to do with a peace of mind, that I can stop worrying about the finances.”

When people dwelled on the past, their gazes would stare ahead into the distance, across the long expanse of time, across hundreds of mountains and thousands of rivers.

When sharing such stories with others, if casually brought up over drinks, the more arduous the journey before, the easier it was to blow one’s own horns now.

But if the listener was someone more dear… the many experiences have shaped me into the man I am today.

I’ll tell you my past, and you can listen as you like.

Perhaps Tang Suoyan and him had been set on different orbits since birth.

He was a sheltered child, never seeing the true colours of the world.

Since young, he indisputably belonged to the cream of the crop.

“I want to offer you words of comfort, but it’s already in the past.” Tang Suoyan shifted the coffee table aside, sitting closer to Tao Xiaodong.

“I don’t need them.

I’m talking to you, that’s all.” Tao Xiaodong actively sat even closer, placing them flush against each other, backs resting on the glass door.

Half of the lights in the opposite block had gone out.

Half of the people were asleep, while the other half were still awake.

They were the ones who were still awake, lucid, chatting about themselves and the times gone by.

“That’s why people have called me wildly arrogant.” Tao Xiaodong smiled and shrugged.

Arms pressed together, Tang Suoyan could practically sense his smile.

“Well, I am.

I walked every step of the way to my present success.

I bust my arse off for it, it’s mine.

If I’m not arrogant, who can deserve that right.”

It was impossible not to be drawn in by his devil-may-care smile as he spoke of his success.

Brimming with the confidence of someone who had walked the walk, the unruliness of someone who had won at life.

Tang Suoyan stared at him, the chin tucked down because of his smile, the dewdrop ends of his eyes.

Tao Xiaodong’s head was also tilted towards him, beam still broad on his face.

“What’s with that look”

Tang Suoyan didn’t say much, smiling faintly.

“I just feel proud.”

Tao Xiaodong’s brows lifted.

“Because of me”

“Yes, because of you.” Tang Suoyan mimicked Tao Xiaodong’s earlier action, motioning with his hands.

“There are so many mountains, but now Xiaodong is the highest peak.”

That was open praise.

Tao Xiaodong had spilled a lot tonight, tracing his footsteps.

It unmoored him, the rare recollection making him forget his own impressiveness.

At this time, his heart was giddily high, and Tang Suoyan saying that he was proud of him pushed him right over the top.

His face was blazing, his heart too, and even his breathing had hastened.

Tang Suoyan got up and held an open palm to Tao Xiaodong.

Tao Xiaodong hadn’t moved from his previous position.

Tang Suoyan gazed at him through hooded eyes, then said, “Besides pride, there’s also some reluctance.

It must have been hard… to have gone through so much when you were still so young.”

Tao Xiaodong looked up at him, blinking.

They held each other’s eyes for a few seconds, then catching his hand, Tao Xiaodong abruptly surged up to his feet.

When he crowded Tang Suoyan against the glass door, the back of Tang Suoyan’s head knocked against the glass.

Tao Xiaodong cushioned the struck spot with a hand, his palm caressing the area.

“Are you…” Tao Xiaodong’s voice, barely above a whisper, was breathy.

“…feeling bad for me”

He was well and truly on a high.

If he was level-headed at the moment, he would never be able to replicate the action.

Tang Suoyan’s head spun with his thoughts.

There were so many ways he could respond, but looking into Tao Xiaodong’s eyes and hearing his suppressed breathing, his eyes fluttered close and he went “mn.”

Tao Xiaodong’s breath caught, gaze fixed on Tang Suoyan’s eyes.

The tendons on his neck tensed shallowly, visibly.

Tang Suoyan was so handsome that every exposed plane of his face to his neck and down to his collarbones sparked heat.

When Tao Xiaodong bit his clavicle, Tang Suoyan tried to contain himself, but surprise wrung a groan out of him.

It was a very low sound, wrecked by his heavy breathing, and this sound caused Tao Xiaodong to briefly return to his senses.

He looked back up to meet Tang Suoyan’s eyes.

Their eyes locked, and Tao Xiaodong was lost for a split second.

Tang Suoyan touched his own neck.

Tao Xiaodong, having already bitten down, knew that he himself was already too far gone.

It was a bit of a blur how the night had come to this.

Through it all, there was not a word exchanged between them and not a sound other than their intermingling breaths.

Their bodies were slotted together; legs to legs, groin to groin.

Tao Xiaodong’s fingers brushed over the cloth covering Tang Suoyan’s abdomen.

He kept staring at Tang Suoyan’s face, chasing his expression.

And Tang Suoyan looked back, not stopping him.

Once fabric no longer impeded the fingertips from his skin, Tang Suoyan wrapped an arm around to hold the small of Tao Xiaodong’s back.

Tao Xiaodong’s breathing became erratic.

His hands were clammy with sweat.

Suppose two bachelors were chatting late into the night; one claimed that his intentions were pure while the other claimed not to be entertaining such thoughts at all—as if anyone would believe their self-delusions.

Mood dictated behaviour.

When the mood was buffered bit by bit to a certain point where it would otherwise feel odd not to act on it, further spurred by emotion, which naturally whetted into lust.

One used to have a partner but not much of a sex life, and one had gone many a year without a partner.

When the two came together, neither could restrain themselves better than the other.

Like a fire tossed into dry kindling, the horizon burning red hot.

Tao Xiaodong put into practice the skill he honed from years of alone time with his hand, before the man who he loved and respected, losing himself to passion.

Even then, he still retained a modicum of rationality, only daring to give a hand job, but that sufficed for them.

A particular musk filled the room, mixing with the hint of the fragrance that Tao Xiaodong liked.

The blend of the two scents intoxicated him beyond reason, striking shivers into his soul.

Tang Suoyan let Tao Xiaodong make out with him, and let Tao Xiaodong nibble and nick the skin on his throat and his clavicle with his teeth.

Later, after it all subsided, Tao Xiaodong stared at the marks he made, frowning as he reached out to rub them.

Tang Suoyan didn’t utter a sound, allowing him that.

The marks couldn’t be rubbed away.

Slowly recovering, Tao Xiaodong felt that he had gone overboard.

He stood up, tempted to take off to the guest bedroom or the couch so that he could figure out how to handle the morning after, but was blocked by Tang Suoyan.

In the end, he gave up the mental torment, falling asleep.

The next day, it was only dawn when Tang Suoyan opened his eyes.

While the room still smelled of sex, the man had disappeared.

He went out of the room and checked all around the apartment, yet there was not a trace of anyone else to be found.

Tang Suoyan picked up his phone, then saw there was a new notification on his lock screen.

He opened the message, just five words long:

—Yan ge, I’m off first.

Massaging his neck, Tang Suoyan recalled how they got it on mid-conversation last night, and he shook his head, smiling.

Translated on ninetysevenkoi.wordpress

– ❀ –

Please do not repost or retranslate.

Tao Xiaodong had left long ago.

His eyes had cracked open even before dawn to the sight of Tang Suoyan before him.

He combed through his recollection, and memories flooded into his head.

Tao Xiaodong ceased breathing for all of ten seconds.

He picked up the used tissues and by-now dried wet wipes, tossing them into the trash.

Before he left, he’d even made sure to take the trash out with him.

His head had turned all wooden.

He sat in the cab for a long time, and when he finally looked down, he saw that he was still holding onto the trash bag.

Tao Xiaodong leaned into the back seat and shut his eyes, blowing out a drawn-out exhale.

He must have been single for too long to have embarrassed himself so badly.

This… was a disaster.


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