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225 Alcohol for the Artist, Again

    Yujia found Zixu in his courtyard, a jug of wine in one hand and a paintbrush in another. Papers were scattered on the floor and tables all around him, some with nondescript brush strokes while others were aggressively painted.

    She visited him after eating dinner. Honestly, Yujia wanted to visit Zixu earlier, but her master called her over, and she lost track of time talking with him. So, after grabbing a quick bite in the kitchen, Yujia rushed to the Yu Villa before the sun set.

    She didn't plan to see the Zixu she saw right now.

    Clearly, the servant who escorted her- while Yujia was once again under the disguise of some Noble Zhuang- didn't expect to see this sight either. He also didn't seem to want to interfere, giving Yujia a quick look and an excuse before scurrying away.

    Zixu's personal servant that she met last time, Shen Li, was also nowhere to be seen.

    And so, that was how Yujia found herself alone with a drunk Zixu in his courtyard.

    Zixu seemed drunk, but not too drunk. A red blush spread across his entire face, but when he narrowed his eyes to look at Yujia, there seemed to be some clarity in there.

    Seeing her walk into the courtyard, Zixu staggered forward, a hand reaching out in her direction.

    "You!" he called out.

    Yujia looked down at herself, then back at Zixu. "Yes, me."

    She didn't move much closer to him, a bit hesitant at the idea of a drunk Yu Zixu. Instead, Zixu rose from the stone table he sat at before, walking in her direction. Besides the initial trip he had standing up, he walked fairly smoothly, clearly still somewhat coordinated. Yujia estimated that he had a few drinks, but not too many, for him to be in the stage that he was at right now.

    Zixu neared her until there was less than an arm's length distance between them. Warily, Yujia took a step back, not at all used to being so close to him, or anyone in general for that matter.

    She didn't know what he was going to do. The words he spoke next, however, were not within her expectations.

    "You know you look prettier with your hair down?" Zixu hummed, lips curling up into a smile.

    What?

    Before Yujia could respond, Zixu lurched forward, one arm resting on her shoulder as he pulled the hairpin that was keeping the masculine-styled bun in her hair intact. When he drew the hairpin out, her hair loosened, falling down to her back.

    Yujia flinched from his sudden movements, stumbling backwards.

    "Senior Brother-"

    Her eyes widened, hands reaching up to her hair and the masculine hairstyle that she had worked on perfecting- which was now destroyed. Gathering her hair into a ponytail in one hand, she stared at Zixu, jaw dropped.

    "Senior Brother Zixu, you're so drunk!" she exclaimed.

    Eyebrows knitted, Yujia reached forward, grabbing at the hairpin that Zixu held in the hand that took it out from her hair.

    Zixu dodged.

    He held the hand with the hairpin up high in the air, a taunting smile crossing his face. Seeing this, Yujia leapt up, trying to grab at it, but she was too short.

    Or no, better worded- Yu Zixu was too tall.

    A moment of jumping later, Yujia demanded, "Give it back to me!" She clearly gave up on her jumping efforts.

    Yujia held her hand out, panicking at how easily Zixu destroyed her disguise. She wasn't going to look like any man if her hair looked all loose and messy like that.

    Zixu, on the other hand, continued with that irritating smile and shrugged. "Didn't you say that I was so drunk? I am. Drunk, drunk drunk."

    Yujia tried to remember the last time that she saw Zixu drunk, finding with surprise that she couldn't remember any of it. She swore that she went drinking with him before. So how come she had zero memories of Zixu being drunk? Was she really just that forgetful when she was drunk?

    Well, good thing Yujia was sober right now.

    She wanted to remember this sight of Zixu- one where his face was all red and one where he had that lopsided smile on his face. She could use it as material to tease him with later.

    It was so different seeing Zixu like this. The person in front of her right now was just so different from the calm and collected Yu Zixu she knew. Even his smile was different.

    "Why have you been drinking?" Yujia asked, crossing her arms. She gave up on the idea of getting the hairpin back.

    Zixu didn't answer. He raised his eyebrows and leaned forward, putting his face close to hers. "And why are you here?"

    "I'm looking for a pendant."

    His eyes lit up. "Ah!" Zixu lifted his jug of wine to his lips, taking a swig. "Yes, I remember. You did leave one here."

    "That's good." Yujia smiled, relieved that she left the pendant in the Yu Villa, and nowhere else. "Can I have it?"

    He ignored her question again. A finger pointing at her, he hummed, "And for a second, I thought that you came here just to drink with me."

    He began to walk backwards, his steps surprisingly steady. Once more, he lifted the jug of wine to his lips, drinking as he walked.

    Yujia followed him. "I suppose that depends on what kind of wine you have," she laughed, eyebrows lifting up.

    Zixu lowered the jug from his lips, waving a hand. "Wine is wine. Who cares what kind it is? As long as you can drink and drink and drink all those things away..." He smiled again, offering the jug he just drank from to her. "Want a sip?"

    "Yeah, sure," Yujia answered, making the smile on Zixu's face grow even larger.

    Yet as she reached forward, Yujia feinted a move. One of her hands reached forward for the jug as if she was accepting it from him. Meanwhile, she took a swing with her other hand, grabbing at the hairpin Zixu stole from her.

    Zixu's eyes grew wide when he realized what she was trying to do. He ducked to the side, yet he lost his balance, toppling over into the grass on the side. Yujia, who already latched onto the hairpin that Zixu gripped just as tightly in his hand, found herself falling over as well before she could try to regain her balance.

    Both of them fell into the grass.

    At this sudden fall, Yujia instinctively let go of the hairpin, immediately sitting up once she hit the grass. She wrapped a hand around the arm that hit the ground first, rubbing at it. "Yu Zixu!" she exclaimed.

    Zixu didn't move for a few seconds, staying in his lying position. Then, he blinked his eyes open, the hand with the hairpin reaching up and brushing the pin against her hair.

    "What did I say?" he laughed, "You look prettier with your hair down. You should keep it that way. I'm doing you a favor by keeping this hairpin from you."

    Yujia shook her head incredulously. "I'm trying to be in disguise here. You're ridiculous."

    Zixu propped himself up. "I'm not ridiculous. I'm drunk."

    He grinned again.

    God, that lopsided grin was growing on Yujia. Witnessing such a careless expression on Yu Zixu's face wasn't something that she was used to, but it was amusing to see him like this.

    But seeing her lack of response, Zixu's smile faded. He held the jug out to her again and sighed, this time perfectly serious.

    "Drink with me?" he asked.
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