250 The Artist Gets a Bit Embarrassed

    "Master, I think that Senior Brother and I need to step aside and talk for a few moments," Yujia blurted out with a frustrated sigh. She needed to explain herself, and there seemed to be no other choice for now.

    Her master looked at her with raised eyebrows and a smile spreading across his face. "Of course. In fact, you two should stay here. I'm old and get tired easily, so I will just retire back to my courtyard. You two can just stay and talk in the pavilion." He leaned closer to Yujia, whispering in a voice loud enough that Zixu could definitely hear, "I've arranged it so that no one should pass by this pavilion. You two should have some... privacy, if you know what I mean." He chuckled after this sentence.

    Yujia gawked at the old man in front of her, wondering why in the world she chose someone like him to be her master. Words could not describe how much her cheeks were flushing up at her master's statement. Even for a modern woman like her, perhaps the things that her master implied seemed even worse.

    She swiftly glanced over at Zixu, who was just looking down and letting out a small cough. He didn't seem all too flustered at her master's sentence, but this was probably the extent to which Zixu was going to show a 'flustered' expression.

    His master followed her gaze and went back to paying attention to Zixu. His gaze immediately turned into a glare, saying to the young man as he passed by, "And you- don't you dare do anything discourteous to my disciple. Even if I'm not here, if I catch word that you tried to do anything..." He sliced a finger across his own neck in one, swift sweep, clicking his tongue as he did so.

    This made Yujia begin to wonder if her master had some sort of attitude or mood swing issue. How could one be so suggestive yet protective at the same time?

    She was about to say something, but seeing her master exit the pavilion, a slight swagger in his walk, she bit down her words. It was useless, anyways.

    Once she was sure that he was gone, she immediately turned her attention to Yu Zixu.

    "I am so, incredibly sorry," she apologized. She wasn't sure what exactly she was apologizing for. Maybe it was for her master's behavior, or for the fact that she was trying to deceive Zixu into thinking that she was a maid, or for wasting time out of his day for something as silly as this. Maybe it was for all of those reasons. Regardless of what exactly it was, Yujia just knew that she felt an enormous need to apologize.

    "It's alright," Zixu started with a laugh. The corners of his lips were turned up in amusement. "Your master... he's an interesting individual."

    "Isn't he?" Saying so, Yujia took a seat. She made an attempt at changing the topic. "How... did things go with your father?"

    The smile on Zixu's face dropped, and Yujia realized that this probably wasn't the appropriate question to ask. She was about to change the question again, except Zixu answered before she could do so.

    "I'm required to inherit my family business now. Over the past day and a half, I'm learning to come to terms with it."

    To Yujia, it still didn't feel like Zixu was coming to terms with it. At the topic of his father, his usual calm demeanor was shattering, the hints of frustration and hopelessness shining through. Or, maybe, he was beginning to open up more with her. He leaned forward, running his fingers through his hair.

    Yujia still didn't understand exactly why Zixu's father was so bent on getting him to inherit the business, especially with the social class of merchants being much lower than a government official. There was probably a reason behind it that she didn't know about, and she knew that it wasn't her place to push for more details than what Zixu would willingly tell her without her prompting.

    "I know I said this before," she decided on telling him, "but are you really not going to talk with him? Sometimes, communication could help a lot."

    He admitted, "I did think about your words. A lot. I thought about what would happen if I went into the government and sought for the future I wanted, while Ziyang inherited the business. I thought about the possibility that Ziyang could just miraculously get better over time. Except, just yesterday while Ziyang drank his medicine, his grip was weak enough to spill the medicine all over his skin to the point that it burned him. I think that was it. It was a reminder that this was the constant reality that I am a part of, that Ziyang had been like this for his entire life. If there were any signs of change, it would be him becoming more and more sick- not the opposite. Someone has to inherit the business. It can't be Ziyang. My father is too proud to pass it off to any of my uncles or cousins or whatnot. And thus, it has to be me. It would be selfish of me, at this point, to keep pushing off the business."

    Yujia's eyebrows were tightly knitted, her lips pressed into a thin line. She wanted to say something, but Zixu changed the topic as fast as she changed the topic from before.

    He smiled again as he spoke, "Let's talk about why you were dressed like a maid. You can't avoid this fact for an eternity."

    "Ah," Yujia groaned, stretching her arms out in front of her. "I didn't want to, but I guess I really can't avoid the question."

    She went on to quickly explain the situation she was in. It was the fourth time today, and this time, she didn't hesitate to tell the full truth. First, she was too tired to think of anything false to tell, and second, it was Yu Zixu. If there was anyone she would talk to about the matters of the villa, it would be him.

    "I see." Zixu nodded thoughtfully. "Makes sense. I must've ruined your test by seeing through it so quickly and pointing it out, right?"

    "No, no, no." Yujia instantly rushed to disagree, "Thank you for being honest, at least. I should've known from the first place that you, out of all people, would be able to tell, anyways. And I'm sorry for wasting your time like this. You probably have better things to do."

    Zixu shrugged at this. "Truthfully, now that the exam is over, I'm not too occupied anymore. The business and all the matters of it will be transferred to me slowly, so my days are now rather free."

    "Really? I still feel rather guilty for taking up your time before, though. I feel like I'm always asking you for help. Is there any way that I could pay you back?" The corners of her lips curled down.

    "Let's see..." He glanced up and mused, "You were my teacher in the matters of art and human morals, my physician when I was sick, and my drinking friend when I was feeling quite down. Oh, and you treated me to some hangover soup. I think you've done enough."

    Yujia's brows remained furrowed. "It doesn't feel like much. And if all our debts from before were cleared, then today, I've also bothered you."

    "You're really that hung up on repaying me?" Zixu tilted his head.

    She nodded eagerly in response. "I just can't think of what I can possibly do to help you."

    He stood up, a smile crossing his face again. "Well, at least I have an idea."
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