Chapter 34.1

To Suffer Living

Translated by boilpoil
Edited by boilpoil

The day Cheng Zhaoci had his love comic submitted to his editor happens to be his seventeenth birthday. He completely forgot about it, being so busy, until Cheng Jin took a day off to come celebrate it with him the day prior.

Cheng Jin is currently technically enlisted, but the circumstances surrounding his original dishonourable discharge, and the fact that he falsely concealed his son’s gender, are, while understandable in the face of possible danger facing said insectoid, still obstacles in his full reinstatement.

So he’s been on rather gruelling missions so far, the most recent one being the scouting of new frontiers in the galaxy.

It was rather troublesome to get the holiday approved, but ultimately, the fact that he had basically an orphaned, minor male insectoid at home won out.

It is also worth noting that Cheng Jin’s frozen assets, where possible, have been returned, including houses. Cheng Jin is worried the crazed cijun might notice if they moved there, though, and Wei Zhuo also pointed out that their current arrangement is safer for Cheng Zhaoci. Wei Zhuo is grade S, with a powerful granddad behind him, so Cheng Jin has placed his trust in him.

For birthdays, the insectoid society does not celebrate by eating cakes. Or any dessert, for that matter. The society doesn’t seem to place as much value on birthdays in general, it seems.

Cheng Jin still brought cupcakes, though, a habit that dies hard from his days taking care of Cheng Zhaoci on the landfill planet.

They haven’t seen each other for a while, and so Cheng Zhaoci notices that his dad has lost some weight. He does look much more imposing and tough than before, probably discouraging anyone from talking to him whenever he makes a serious face.

The ‘anyone’ is specifically referring to the Zhou brothers here. Zhou Xiaobao is already bad at dealing with strangers, and seeing a scary-looking dad of a friend for the first time is quite the challenge to him. When he saw Cheng Jin returning home while doing his drawing work, he looks like he had his soul sucked out of him, and only meekly, almost inaudibly said, “hello sir.”

Zhou Luoluo is… different, as in, he’s literally tried to flirt with Cheng Jin, though only for a few moments and in the heat of the moment, but he really can’t ever live down the embarrassment. He feels really awkward whenever Cheng Jin is here.

At least, the awkwardness isn’t mutual. No adult, married shemale will hold any serious grudge against the impulses of a teenage male. In fact, Cheng Jin doesn’t even remember what happened.

In any case, it’s Cheng Zhaoci’s birthday. It’s a shame Wei Zhuo and Meng Yuele are busy being dispatched on missions, while Xiao Ji and He Huaijian are busy studying at school. Sun Wushe and Mr Liang probably don’t even know his birthday, nor are they close enough right now to be invited.

Cheng Zhaoci still feels really warm inside, though. He’s never had much of a birthday celebration in his past life. That Cheng Jin can take a day off to celebrate it with him even when he is busy in the army now is really heartwarming.

And he also has two friends around celebrating it with him, now if only they can stop trembling like jello.

Cheng Jin bought enough cupcakes for the three young males to share. On the dinner table, Zhou Luoluo and Zhou Xiaobao are still behaving rather awkwardly. Zhou Xiaobao thinks he should say something, lest Cheng Zhaoci’s dad think him rude and impolite and doesn’t want him to draw comics with Cheng Zhaoci anymore.

He must overcome his shyness. Yes. He must. If only for the comic.

So he produces a topic from his most recent thoughts, “tang-ge, you don’t have to mull over your lost love anymore. Uncle Cheng looks like he’s exactly your ty-phuuu?!”

His good cousin Zhou Luoluo has his mouth covered at this point. Zhou Xiaobao is confused, because Zhou Luoluo has said insectoids like uncle Cheng are his type, hasn’t he? Tall and handsome and doesn’t swoon at the sight of males.

Is it not a good compliment to both the male and shemale to say that the shemale is ideal for the male?

Clearly, Zhou Xiaobao has failed to grasp that, while it can be a compliment for perfectly innocent and unmarried males and shemales, but if the shemale is married… Actually, it’s even worse in this case. The shemale is a friend’s dad! It means something else… It’s not just inappropriate, but even feels mildly like suggesting for Zhou Luoluo to become Cheng Zhaoci’s stepfather.

Zhou Luoluo cannot imagine such a day, but he knows for sure Cheng Zhaoci will not tolerate having a stepfather for even one second.

Cheng Jin, though, is simply laughing at the children’s jokes. Though his imagination makes him look back at Cheng Zhaoci anew.

His son. He raised him, for seventeen years, from an egg to this upstanding young insectoid.

Xiao-Ci will also grow up and find a good cijun for himself. Cheng Jin knows his own son too well, and is quite certain he won’t be interested in concubines or slaves.

He’ll probably also pick a cijun that enjoys his company just as he would enjoy his, instead of picking one that would make his life a smooth sailing or whatnot.

Cheng Jin will give his blessings to his son no matter his choice, though.

While he suspected Cheng Zhaoci might decide to go after Wei Zhuo, both being quite excellent for each other, but he has since learned that Wei Zhuo tends to avoid males because of what has happened to his fellow soldier, the insectoid’s dad. Still, he thinks Wei Zhuo doesn’t seem to treat Cheng Zhaoci the same as the other males.

Since he’s quite gentle treating Cheng Zhaoci, in stark contrast to his fiendish self on the training grounds in the army, where he already has an infamous reputation.

Cheng Jin has no idea what exactly is going on between the two insectoids, though, especially since he’s had to have been away from them for quite a while.

It has to be said it’ll be reassuring if Cheng Zhaoci and Wei Zhuo can end up together, since Wei Zhuo has both the strength and resources to protect Cheng Zhaoci.

“Dad? What’s wrong?” Cheng Zhaoci realises his dad has been staring at him for a quite a while after giving the Zhou brothers some more cupcakes.

“Nothing. It just feels like, time really flies,” flies so quickly sometimes that it’s hard to adapt.

Actually, if it wasn’t for Cheng Zhaoci’s sake, Cheng Jin would not have picked a gruelling, low-paying but relatively safe job on the landfill planet.

If so, he’ll probably have either stooped to piracy or died by now.

This all changed because he had a son. It is without exaggeration if he says that Cheng Zhaoci had become the new pivot in life for him. He was the raison d’être to keep on living for him.

“It sure does, yeah,” not too long ago they were still worrying about their next meal on a landfill planet. It feels like it’s been no time at all, but now he’s even made friends with males on the Capital planet, “and everything will keep getting better.”

Cheng Jin smiles, “mmhm, let’s hope it does,” he caresses the smooth hair his son has. Meanwhile, Zhou Luoluo is looking quite enviously at them.

“Can I ruffle your hair too?” Zhou Luoluo asks. Cheng Zhaoci gives him a cold, emotionless stare, “wanna try?”

Then Zhou Luoluo actually ignores Cheng Zhaoci’s warning to put his hand on Cheng Zhaoci’s head. Yes! It’s soft!

What follows is Zhou Luoluo’s face being buried on the table as Cheng Zhaoci messes his hair up royally.

Xiao Ji and He Huaijian have also called, even though they couldn’t come.

“I’ll give you a big present for your coming of age birthday, xiao-Ci,” He Huaijian makes a solemn promise. He then tries to tell Cheng Zhaoci about the efforts he’s been making at studying, but Xiao Ji has taken over the call already. Then, being Xiao Ji, he blabbers a whole lot of nothing.

Of course, there is meaning in listening to the useless banter. Cheng Zhaoci didn’t realise he’d been missing the restless liveliness of Xiao Ji’s blabbering until hearing it now.

Zhou Luoluo and Zhou Xiaobao are watching the brotherly affections play out in front of them.

Warmth is infectious, and so Zhou Luoluo sends a message to his shemale older brother. He misses seeing him a little.

The reply comes soon enough.

[Out of money again? Or did dad scold you again?]

… A now completely jaded Zhou Luoluo shuts his holodeck down. Ah, some times are not meant for him. He’ll continue indulging in being a lone and cool male.

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