"Huh, that’s strange. Why is He Zhou here?" Big Yellow scratched its head.
Qiu Yanzhi felt like He Zhou's eyes were like magnets attracting his gaze. He had to exert a great effort in order to look away.
As if to suppress the unfamiliar feelings welling up in his heart, Qiu Yanzhi picked up the glass of wine in front of him and slammed it back.
Big Yellow fluttered its wings and sat in front of Qiu Yanzhi. "Don't worry, since the mainline target of this round is Ye Mingxu, He Zhou will just be a background character at most. You know, in the last round, Ye Mingxu’s always lived on the floor beneath yours. But did you ever see him? No! That's thanks to the clever design of our game!”
“He Zhou's encounter with you this time was just by chance. It’s very likely that you’ll never see him again after today."
Qiu Yanzhi put down his glass of wine as the spice rose to the back of his throat, numbing his scalp: "Then does he still remember me?"
Big Yellow looked very confident. "Impossible! Of this, I can still be sure. After all, our reset card costs $18,888! As soon as you use it, the game will automatically erase all traces of your session, not to mention the memory of one little NPC."
So He Zhou doesn't remember anything? Just like Zhang Yuxuan doesn't remember being ruthlessly rejected by his senior…
Has He Zhou really forgotten all about me?
No, that isn't it.
For Zhang Yuxuan and He Zhou, this wasn’t just forgetting -- it literally never happened.
Qiu Yanzhi suddenly felt like his experience in the last round was a one-man show he had performed for himself. In the end, he ended up being the only one who remembered. Dazed by this realization, his sense of reality began to waver.
Qiu Yanzhi lowered his eyes to hide the gloomy emotions that flashed by.
He picked up the bottle and poured himself another glass of wine. When he was about to drink it, the person beside him stopped him.
Ye Mingxu looked at him, worried. "Senior, this wine has a very high alcohol content. Yuxuan-ge said you can't drink well."
Qiu Yanzhi looked up at Zhang Yuxuan, who was wiggling his eyebrows and smiling at him.
Then He Zhou actually walked up to their table.
He Zhou usually never attended these company gatherings on a regular basis, but today he unexpectedly came, leaving all the staff unprepared. The section chief who was sitting next to Qiu Yanzhi saw that President He had come to his side, so he quickly stood up and offered his seat. "President He, please sit here..."
Qiu Yanzhi’s entire body stiffened into a sculpture.
Immediately afterwards, He Zhou sat down beside him.
Qiu Yanzhi was a little nervous, but fortunately most of the table was sweating bullets just like him once their boss sat down. None of them could enjoy the food anymore.
Qiu Yanzhi didn't dare to look at He Zhou, but in his peripheral vision he seemed to see that He Zhou's eyes only rested on himself for a very brief moment before he turned to speak to his secretary.
...So he really doesn't remember me.
Qiu Yanzhi breathed a sigh of relief, but a strange emotion drifted out as well.
Ye Mingxu found that Qiu Yanzhi seemed to be thinking about something and looked a little dazed and confused.
Qiu Yanzhi appeared to be eating with his head down, but on closer inspection…
The small plate in front of him was clearly empty, and he was only holding chopsticks and poking at thin air haphazardly.
Ye Mingxu sensed that his senior might have something on his mind, but he was not in a position to ask why. Therefore, he thoughtfully filled Qiu Yanzhi’s plate with meat.
Qiu Yanzhi saw his plate fill up little by little and froze for a moment. Then he looked at Ye Mingxu and smiled. "Thank you."
"Senior should eat more." Ye Mingxu replied with crinkled eyes.
When Qiu Yanzhi looked down and prepared to dig in, part of his overly long wig nearly landed in the pork belly on his plate. Qiu Yanzhi pinned his hair behind his ears with some irritation, but the wig remained unruly.
Qiu Yanzhi just didn’t understand how girls could go about their lives with such troublesome hairstyles. Was it even humanly possible?
At this moment, a long, white and slender hand was extended to him. Resting on the palm was a black hair tie.
Qiu Yanzhi was stunned and looked at its owner, He Zhou.
He Zhou looked at him quietly with his dark eyes. His expression was as plain as someone handing the empty water bottle they had just finished to the garbage man.
Qiu Yanzhi pursed his lips and quietly said, “Thanks, but I don’t need it.”
Then, Qiu Yanzhi reached out and took off his wig entirely. He flicked his short, messy hair before lowering his head to eat more meat.
He Zhou returned the hair tie to his secretary and asked carelessly, "You’re a man?"
His tone was rather strange. It was obviously a question, but it was also obvious that he already knew the answer.
Qiu Yanzhi picked up another piece of meat and stuffed it in his mouth. "En."
"Then why are you wearing a skirt?"
"Because I like it." Qiu Yanzhi said perfunctorily.
Mr. He, you’ve become so much more talkative after being reset. I've never seen you pay so much attention to what strangers are wearing before. Or are you being so nosy because you think I’m one of your employees?
Qiu Yanzhi silently grumbled in his heart.
"Senior, it tastes even better if you dip it into this sauce." Ye Mingxu placed the seasoned sauce in front of Qiu Yanzhi.
Qiu Yanzhi tasted it and it really was delicious. He couldn’t help but praise, “You’re a genius!”
Ye Mingxu beamed at the compliment. He took advantage of the moment and said, “Senior, I can actually cook even better tasting dishes!”
Qiu Yanzhi: "Really? You’re not pulling my leg, right? Lots of people say they’re great cooks when all they can make is charcoal.”
Ye Mingxu: "I'm not like them! Senior, if you don’t believe me, come to my house for a meal tomorrow. I live really close to the school. I’ll cook up a feast for you so you can judge for yourself!”
Qiu Yanzhi: "Sounds great."
Revitalized, Ye Mingxu’s eyes shone brightly as he looked at Qiu Yanzhi. "Then what do you want to eat, senior?"
Qiu Yanzhi said: "Oh man, there’s a lot on that list. First off, I want to eat dumplings, duck neck, baked fish, stinky tofu, pizza, pasta and a spicy chicken platter."
Ye Mingxu couldn’t help but ask, "Senior, can you finish all of that?"
Qiu Yanzhi leaned back in his chair and casually spoke: "Ancient emperors ate no less food than me. No one said they couldn't finish it all."
Ye Mingxu smiled and said, "Okay, I'll let you be an emperor once tomorrow...but you have to come with me to the supermarket to buy ingredients."
“Fair’s fair." Qiu Yanzhi smiled.
As he ate, Qiu Yanzhi forgot all about He Zhou, who was next to him.
It wasn't like He Zhou still knew him or anything. From the moment he used the Reset Card, He Zhou had become a foreign NPC -- and a nameless supporting character at that.
As for the He Zhou he met before, he wasn’t a real person anyway. Not even a trace remained by now.
That person no longer existed.
“Yanyan!" Zhang Yuxuan's face suddenly turned pale. He opened his mouth again, but nothing came out.
Qiu Yanzhi knew that something must have happened, but Zhang Yuxuan didn’t want to say it here. So he patted Ye Mingxu on the shoulder. "Stay here, we're going out for a bit."
After Qiu Yanzhi and Zhang Yuxuan walked out of the restaurant together, he asked, "What happened?"
Zhang Yuxuan was very pale. He handed his phone to Qiu Yanzhi.
Qiu Yanzhi looked down and saw the recent text messages between Zhang Yuxuan and his senior.
It started with Zhang Yuxuan sending photos of the barbecue shop they were at as a conversation starter. He then carefully asked, “Senior, we came here once during a get-together. I didn't expect it to have changed so much after so many years."
But his senior didn’t reply to him. That was--
Until two minutes ago.
"Yuxuan, I'm in room 602 of the Ming Hui Hotel, I've suffered some injuries. Can you go with me to the hospital? I don't want to be alone."
But almost the next second, his senior sent another message.
"Forget it. Don’t come here. Don’t come."
Zhang Yuxuan’s face was ashen. "I, what should I do? Senior seems to be injured, b-but he says he doesn’t want me to go."
Qiu Yanzhi wanted to slap this idiot's head. "Hurry up and go! Your senior is injured so he must really need your help right now! This is a golden opportunity!
Zhang Yuxuan stammered, "...I, I don’t know. H-he said he doesn’t want me to go. What if he gets angry when I show up?”
Qiu Yanzh: "When you dragged me to buy a skirt this afternoon, you f*cking said that I should be bold and courageous for love. How come you've become such a wimp now?"
"But...but...I dragged you to buy skirts because Ye Mingxu likes them, right? But my senior doesn’t want me to go. He just said so…”
Zhang Yuxuan paused and emphasized, "And he repeated it twice."
Qiu Yanzhi was simply infuriated by Zhang Yuxuan. "Zhang Yuxuan, if you go today, there is still a glimmer of hope for you and your senior. But if you don't, the two of you are finished! Besides, he said that he was injured. If you don’t go, aren’t you leaving him there to die alone?”
Zhang Yuxuan finally reacted, turning even paler. He then panicked and said, "I'm going!"
With that, he sped off in the direction of the hotel.
"Take a taxi, you idiot!" Qiu Yanzhi shouted behind him.
Only then did Zhang Yuxuan hurriedly hail a taxi on the side of the road and leave.
Qiu Yanzhi turned around and shook his head when he couldn’t see the taxi anymore. "Alas, why is this child so stupid?
After all that happened with Zhang Yuxuan, and with He Zhou sitting beside him, Qiu Yanzhi really had no desire to continue eating. He was ready to call it a night and leave with Ye Mingxu after paying the bill.
As a result, when he looked up, his whole body froze in place.
He Zhou was standing by the door.
Who knew how long he had been standing there, or how much he had heard from Qiu Yanzhi’s conversation with Zhang Yuxuan.
Unlike the bright lights inside the shop, the outside was very dim, with only the distant street lamps and the light from inside the shop weakly shining on He Zhou.
But it wasn’t enough to suppress the darkness surrounding the man.
Qiu Yanzhi lowered his eyes, as if he had seen nothing, and walked straight towards the shop.
But as soon as he set foot on the stairs, He Zhou opened his mouth.
He spoke slowly and unhurriedly.
"Qiu Yanzhi, are you pretending you don't know me?"
The words he spoke were light and quiet, but they exploded in Qiu Yanzhi's ears like thunder.
Qiu Yanzhi's heart pounded as he stiffened until he could not take even a single step. His breathing quickened.
His surroundings became so quiet that he could still hear his own chaotic breathing and panicked heartbeat.
But Qiu Yanzhi suppressed all his panic. He stood on the stairs and tilted his head up at He Zhou, blinking his eyes and looking very confused.
He Zhou’s deep eyes that were darker than the night bore into him. He looked at Qiu Yanzhi steadily and said, "I said, do you remember me?"
Qiu Yanzhi’s palms were sweating rivers, but he frowned and pretended to think on the question seriously. Then he shook his head blankly. "I don't. Have we met before?"
He Zhou's eyes were fixed on him, and Qiu Yanzhi stared back with his big, seemingly ignorant eyes.
Qiu Yanzhi won in the end.
He Zhou pursed his lips into a thin line and looked away. He said lightly, “I’m one of your father’s business partners. I’ve been to your house a couple of times. Perhaps you have forgotten."
Qiu Yanzhi breathed a sigh of relief in his heart. So it was like that.
For a second there, he really thought that He Zhou had retained his memories and recognized him.
--How could that be? He had used the Reset Card. He Zhou was nothing more than a NPC. His every action, his every word, was just another line of code in the game.
If the game wanted him to live, he would live. If it wanted him to die, he would drop dead.
If it wanted to erase all traces of his past, he would forget everything, with not a single hint left.
Although Qiu Yanzhi was no longer panicking on the inside, there was no slackening on his face.
He pretended to have just remembered something. "Oh that's right. I don't usually pay much attention to my father's guests, but I'm sure I'll be able to recognize Mr. He if I see you again in the future."
He Zhou looked at the puffy black miniskirt Qiu Yanzhi was wearing with dark eyes. “...Does your father know that you’re wearing skirts for a man?”
...F*ck, so he did heard my conversation with Zhang Yuxuan.
But how come this reset He Zhou is so nosy? Wake up, big brother, it's none of your business whether I wear skirts or not.
Qiu Yanzhi pursed his lips and said calmly, "My father supports all of my choices and hobbies."
"Including the fact that you have your feet in two boats?”
“Including me having my feet--" Qiu Yanzhi suddenly realized what he said. He frowned at He Zhou. "Mr. He, what do you mean by that?"
He Zhou walked down a flight of stairs, causing the tip of Qiu Yanzhi's nose to almost hit his chest.
Feeling uncomfortable, Qiu Yanzhi took a step back, only for He Zhou to follow him. Looking down at him, the man’s lower jaw was almost touching Qiu Yanzhi's hair.
He Zhou looked down at Qiu Yanzhi in a condescending manner and spoke calmly: "Who is that man who called you senior?”
Qiu Yanzhi: "My future boyfriend. Does Mr. He have any other questions?"
He Zhou seemed to chuckle lightly.
Then his cold white jade fingertips suddenly touched Qiu Yanzhi's delicate white neck.
The sudden contact caused Qiu Yanzhi's entire body to stiffen, as if he had been offended. His entire body was like a taut balloon that was ready to burst at any second.
Qiu Yanzhi took a step back, wanting to shrug off the other person, but as soon as he moved, he was pulled back and imprisoned in He Zhou’s arms.
He Zhou's right hand was locked tightly around his waist, while the fingertips of his left hand slowly slid down his neck before pausing.
He Zhou's warm breath was scattered on the nape of Qiu Yanzhi’s neck, almost provoking a shiver.
"Then does your ‘future boyfriend’ know that you're wearing a skirt for him while the bite marks of another man are still fresh on your body?”
Qiu Yanzhi stiffened. He felt those slightly cold fingertips move another inch down.
Then, full of malice, those digits pressed evenly down on the uneven bite mark there.