So He Zhou did remember!!!
Qiu Yanzhi's entire body froze.
His mind was completely blank, as if his soul had wandered out of his body. His body was imprisoned in He Zhou's arms, but his soul had long since floated out to chillingly strangle Big Yellow.
Gnashing his teeth, he shouted, "Big Yellow, Laozi is going to kill you!!"
After he used the Reset Card, all traces of the previous round should have been erased.
Wasn’t He Zhou just an insignificant NPC who couldn't possibly retain his memories??
Fine, I'm a player, so I don’t need to change bodies or have my memories erased. The bite marks on my neck from before the Reset Card was used are fine too.
The problem is that He Zhou is just an NPC! Why does he remember what happened better than I do!?
How the hell am I supposed to lie my way out of this one?!
Big Yellow was obviously not expecting this either. It fluttered its wings in panic and flew around in the air. Then, it flew up to Qiu Yanzhi and shouted incoherently, "Calm down! Calm down!! Don't panic!!! Don't panic!!!!”
Qiu Yanzhi: "......"
Okay, I won’t panic. Now what.
Big Yellow became anxious again: "Why don't you say something?? Say something already!! He’s going to get suspicious!!!"
Qiu Yanzhi: "......"
Okay, I'll say something. But what am I supposed to say?
Big Yellow’s gaze was firm: "I believe in you! You have to try your best! If the NPCs found out that this world was just a game, they'd totally fall apart! At that point, everything will be thrown into chaos and it’ll be game over!!! Don’t even think about going home right now, your life is at stake!! You have to try your best! You aren’t the only one at risk right now!”
“What you do next will affect the peace and stability of the whole world!!!"
Qiu Yanzhi: "......"
Laozi is so stressed.
When I get out, I'll definitely sue your company into bankruptcy.
"Why aren’t you saying anything?"
With his casual tone, He Zhou seemed sure of his victory.
Qiu Yanzhi finally raised his head, looked at He Zhou and said coldly, "Because Mr. He has been very rude."
Qiu Yanzhi paused for a moment before continuing, "No matter how many boats I have my feet in, it’s none of Mr. He’s business. Besides, how do you know that the marks on my body weren't made by Ye Mingxu?"
"Because I made them.” He Zhou stared at Qiu Yanzhi, his dark eyes like an inexhaustible abyss that caused panic and confusion to all who gazed into them.
Qiu Yanzhi: ......
Why was your answer so straightforward? At least give me some time to prepare...
Qiu Yanzhi decided to deny it to his dying breath.
He frowned: "Mr. He, if you are sick, please go to the hospital."
"Qiu Yanzhi." He Zhou paused, his voice was very deep and slow, like a cello playing at night.
"You promised that you wouldn't lie to me again."
He Zhou's face was calm. His voice was beautiful.
But the words he spoke were inexplicably tinged with sorrow.
His sullenness was almost like a thorn stabbing into Qiu Yanzhi's heart with just enough force to make his breath catch.
Qiu Yanzhi looked up at He Zhou: "Mr. He, you seem to have gone crazy from lovesickness. Today is the first time we have met."
"Are you sure?" He Zhou asked.
Qiu Yanzhi: "I'm sure."
There was a sound of fabric being torn. The collar of Qiu Yanzhi's shirt was ripped in two without mercy.
Qiu Yanzhi's eyes widened instantly, and his voice became unsteady with anger: "--He Zhou, what are you trying to do?!”
He Zhou looked at him coldly, "Why don’t you take a look at the other two marks on your shoulder?"
Qiu Yanzhi stiffened. Slowly, he turned to look at his shoulder.
He Zhou plucked away the torn fabric, revealing Qiu Yanzhi's shoulder.
--Under the moonlight, Qiu Yanzhi's round, naked shoulder was as smooth as jade without a single mark on it.
He Zhou's face suddenly turned very pale.
...He clearly remembered biting here too.
With even more strength than the one on his neck.
It wasn’t possible for the bite marks on his neck to remain if this one had healed.
Qiu Yanzhi blinked in Big Yellow’s direction before realizing that it must’ve helped him out by adjusting his body's injury data.
Qiu Yanzhi finally had some false sense of confidence. Looking like a mess, he reached up to gather his clothes. However, there was no fear in his eyes when he looked at He Zhou. "Mr. He, do you know that your prior words and actions could constitute sexual harassment?"
He Zhou looked at Qiu Yanzhi and suddenly asked, "Then what is that on your neck?"
“I don't need to tell you."
"You have other men besides Ye Mingxu?"
“Mr. He, even if I had a hundred other men, you would not be one of them."
"Senior!" Ye Mingxu's voice suddenly rang out. He looked at Qiu Yanzhi, whose clothes were torn, and froze for a moment. Then he scrambled to take off his own jacket and put it on Qiu Yanzhi, saying, "Senior...what's going on?"
Qiu Yanzhi adjusted the jacket draped across his shoulders, glancing at He Zhou, his voice cold and clear.
“I've just met a strange person."
He Zhou looked at Qiu Yanzhi, who was leaving side by side with Ye Mingxu. His eyes gradually became darker and darker, until they almost blended in with the night.
He Zhou softly recited this name. His tone was so light that it seemed to scatter when the wind blew.
But somehow, the name came out of his mouth with such hatred, like he wanted to crush this person’s bones and swallow every splinter.
He Zhou watched Qiu Yanzhi disappear from his sight.
Actually, he felt that something was wrong.
Near the end, Qiu Yanzhi had been too obedient, too good to be true.
Ever since Qiu Yanzhi had gotten out of the hospital after his accident, he had suddenly become very strange.
He dragged himself to dinner, to see his family and his friends. He went to Hongming Island with He Zhou.
Qiu Yanzhi held his hand and walked on the beach, promising that he would never lie to him again. He encircled He Zhou’s neck and took the initiative to kiss him. He lied on the bed and looked at him softly, asking, “He Zhou, do you like me?”
He was as soft as a cat and as sweet as sugar.
He Zhou couldn't help but want to be more gentle with him, even more gentle than before.
But when he woke up the next day, Qiu Yanzhi was standing by his bed, fully clothed and talking to the air.
He Zhou sensed something was wrong and called out his name.
When Qiu Yanzhi turned his head to look at him, his expression became alarmed and confused.
It was in that second, that instant.
He Zhou saw with his own eyes that Qiu Yanzhi scattered away like a pile of sand. Not a trace of him remained.
He Zhou almost thought he was still dreaming.
He blankly stood up, but then his surroundings began to spin. A splitting headache forced him to fall back back into bed.
When he opened his eyes again, everything had changed.
Qiu Yanzhi was still nowhere to be seen, and it was no longer morning, but night. He wasn’t at Hongming Island, but his house.
He was not wearing the childish couple's pyjamas that Qiu Yanzhi had bought, but the plain black ones he used to wear when he was alone.
He Zhou turned on the light.
He saw his minimalistic black and white bedroom.
--He remembered that it had clearly been decorated into a mess by Qiu Yanzhi.
There should’ve been two pillows on the bed.
Their couple's set cups should’ve been on the bedside table.
The curtains hanging from the window should've been mint green.
Their wedding photos should’ve adorned the walls.
But there was nothing here.
There was only one pillow on the bed, one cup on the bedside table, dull gray curtains, and monotonous white walls.
He Zhou got out of bed and headed downstairs.
The maids were finishing mopping the floor for the last time and preparing to head out.
He Zhou remembered that they were supposed to be on vacation. The reason was very childish: he was trying to get back at Qiu Yanzhi and make him take care of the household chores.
--But in the end, he was the one who did most of the work.
He Zhou didn’t have the energy to ask the maid when their holiday had ended. His voice was slightly hoarse. "Where is Qiu Yanzhi?"
The maids stared at him blankly, "Who?"
They didn't know Qiu Yanzhi anymore.
He Zhou looked up at the electronic watch on the opposite wall.
And the date in front was August 11, 2020.
It was four months ago.
--At this time, he and Qiu Yanzhi had not yet met.
He Zhou thought he might have gone mad.
Then he calmed down. With careful consideration, he reached the most unlikely yet probable answer--
He had travelled back four months in time.
The next day, He Zhou went as usual to the home of Qiu Qingcang, the man he had been working with, to talk about work.
He was a bit fidgety this time.
Because he remembered what happened on August 12, 2020 very clearly.
Qiu Yanzhi, Qiu Qingcang's son, would push open the door to the study with a flushed face and hand him a plate of pastries while He Zhou was talking to his father.
That was the first time He Zhou had seen Qiu Yanzhi.
But later, according to Qiu Yanzhi, this day was the first time that Qiu Yanzhi, who had secretly liked him for many years, gathered the courage to appear in front of him.
He Zhou sat in Qiu Qingcang's study from morning to evening, talking about this quarter's project and next year's plans. They spoke about everything from company investments to their families, until there was nothing left to discuss.
Until Qiu Qingcang was almost ready to say, “Why aren't you leaving yet?”
However, He Zhou even had the cheek to stay for dinner.
But there was only Qiu Qingcang, Zhong Yabai and him at the table.
--The one he wanted to see wasn’t here.
He Zhou finally couldn't resist asking, "I heard that you have a son? Why isn't he at home?"
"Oh, him?" Zhong Yabai looked at the man who had been acting a bit strange all day and said, "He lives in his school’s dorms and doesn't come home for dinner."
"So that's it." He Zhou forced a smile and finally found a random excuse to leave.
He Zhou came back many times later on, but never once saw Qiu Yanzhi.
He went to Qiu Qingcang's birthday party and drank a lot of wine, but he remained sober from beginning to the end.
He didn’t strangely fall into a stupor after two glasses of wine.
He didn't wake up next to a naked and bruised youth.
He didn't have Qiu Yanzhi's parents come in and glare at him with red-rimmed eyes.
He didn't have Qiu Qingcang forcing him into marrying his son with a contract completely dictated by the other party.
Now that he was given a second chance, He Zhou saw many areas that he could’ve done better. He could’ve signed the contract before Qiu Qingcang's birthday to put an end to his problems, but he had postponed it until afterwards, so that what had happened before could play out again.
But Qiu Yanzhi never turned up.
Shen Xingwei invited He Zhou to his birthday party at a villa by the sea.
He Zhou went.
But the youth who had once been staring at him the whole time at the party was not there either.
So He Zhou couldn’t tell him to walk into the sea out of frustration after being forced to marry him.
None of this made any sense to He Zhou.
If he had travelled back to four months ago, why did Qiu Yanzhi disappear completely from his life?
Everything else in his life, like the documents he had to sign, the presentations he had to listen to and the projects he had to work on were just as he remembered them, without the slightest deviation.
--The only thing that was missing was Qiu Yanzhi.
He Zhou went to see the psychiatrist who had been treating him for years.
The doctor said: "You're mistaken. You haven't travelled back to four months either. Everything was just a dream."
--Then why did everything else happen exactly as I remembered it, except for Qiu Yanzhi?
--This is just a misguided sense of deja vu from your hallucinated memories.
--Are you saying that everything that happened between him and me never did? How is that possible? It was definitely all real.
--If it was real, then how can you explain the fact that he ended up disappearing like smoke before your eyes? Don't be so obsessed, you've just had a long, long dream.
--It's all fake. It doesn't exist.
He Zhou stormed out.
He almost cursed as he walked away-- what kind of bullsh*t doctor was this?!
Apart from his stable partnership with Qiu Qingcang, He Zhou thought he would never be associated with Qiu Yanzhi again, until he saw a resume.
Qiu Yanzhi's dormmate.
"Who is this?" He Zhou asked the secretary.
Ms. Secretary became flustered when she saw whose resume it was. “President He, I'm sorry, I got the wrong document. This is the list of people who were screened out. I'll get you the list of people who passed the first batch of interviews right away..."
"Wait a minute." He Zhou handed Yang Fengcheng's resume to the secretary, "This person applied to be a German translator, right?"
“Yes, but there were many who were more talented than him, so HR rejected this person."
"Get in touch with him." He Zhou paused for a moment and said, "He can be my personal translator.”
He Zhou originally did not want to go to the welcome party for new employees, but he accidentally saw the sales manager's social media post.
It seemed to be a casual photo from the company party, but there was someone wearing a black dress in the corner...a man.
He Zhou felt something was wrong at a glance. He frowned, clicked on that picture and enlarged it.
Sure enough, the man in the black dress had Qiu Yanzhi’s face.
Immediately, He Zhou rushed to the party venue.
It was the first time he had seen Qiu Yanzhi in person in a long time.
He Zhou was still a bit apprehensive.
He was not sure if Qiu Yanzhi had any memories of those four months.
He Zhou sat down next to him, but he did not know what to say.
He couldn't help but stare at Qiu Yanzhi, but he was afraid that his gaze would be too fierce and intimidating. He was afraid that he would scare Qiu Yanzhi, so he deliberately averted his gaze and only silently observed him out of the corner of his eye.
Noticing that Qiu Yanzhi was having trouble keeping his hair out of his food, He Zhou turned towards the secretary beside him and asked for a hair band.
Under the confused and uncomprehending gaze of the secretary, he gave that hair band to Qiu Yanzhi.
But it was rejected.
Qiu Yanzhi took off his wig and said, "Thanks, but I don’t need it.”
He Zhou, however, saw a very familiar bite mark on his neck the moment Qiu Yanzhi took off his wig to eat.
He almost knocked over the plate in front of him.
Even his breathing had involuntarily sharpened.
This was the mark he had made that night on Hongming Island.
Exactly four inches below the ear...
He Zhou could almost recall his posture when he left this bite mark.
At that moment, Qiu Yanzhi was talking to that annoying junior of his again.
"....Lots of people say they’re great cooks when all they can make is charcoal."
He Zhou knew that those words were alluding to himself.
Because that night in Hongming Island, Qiu Yanzhi laid beside He Zhou and whispered into his ear, “I’ll tell you another secret. You think you’re a good cook, but your food really sucks..."
He Zhou was angry when he heard this. In retaliation, he bullied Qiu Yanzhi for a long time again.
He Zhou lowered his eyes, his face expressionless as he tore into the roast meat on his plate with his chopsticks. He heard a restrained voice inside him, saying calmly, one word at a time:
Qiu Yanzhi still has the bite marks you made on his body.
He remembers, but he’s pretending he doesn’t.
When He Zhou followed Qiu Yanzhi out, he overheard his conversation with Zhang Yuxuan.
Qiu Yanzhi was wearing a skirt for a man.
Said man was the one Qiu Yanzhi had just been talking to, his annoying junior Ye Mingxu.
Qiu Yanzhi had just promised to go to the supermarket with Ye Mingxu tomorrow, and to his house for dinner.
He Zhou sat by the entrance. The cool night breeze did nothing for the anger rising in his heart.
So after Zhang Yuxuan left, he confronted Qiu Yanzhi.
"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, however, was unwilling to admit the truth.
His mouth was full of nothing but lies.
He Zhou recalled the marks left that night. In order to expose Qiu Yanzhi's lies once and for all, He Zhou ripped his collar and forced him to look at the bite marks on his shoulder.
--But there were none.
The marks on his neck were still there, but the marks that should have been on his shoulder had disappeared.
Qiu Yanzhi looked at him coldly.
Without a trace of softness.
Without a trace of obedience.
Without a trace of affection.
Qiu Yanzhi said: "Mr. He, even if I had 100 other men, you would not be one of them.
So Qiu Yanzhi didn't remember him?
Was this person no longer the same Qiu Yanzhi who walked with him on the beach of Hongming Island, who held his hand and kissed him?
...Was he not the one who made that bite mark on his neck?
He Zhou’s memories were the only thing remaining from those four months. How could Qiu Yanzhi’s bruises carry over?
So who was responsible for that bite mark on his neck?
What kind of man left such a mark on the spot He Zhou favoured?
Surprisingly, He Zhou cared a lot about that answer. He was going mad with jealousy.
Maddening anger and envy made him repeat that person’s name endlessly.
But in the end, he was only left empty and confused.
A sense of uncertainty surged up in his heart.
Was it really all...just a dream?
Were those four months really just a long, detailed dream that happened to predict the future?
Was Qiu Yanzhi's disappearance of from his life merely a derivation or error in that dream?
Was it like his doctor had said, was everything from those four months just his delusion? Had none of it actually happened?
He Zhou suspected he was going insane.
He began to question himself.
--What if it was all just a dream?
--What if none of it had actually happened?
If it was all a dream...
Should he choose to separate his dream from reality and give up on Qiu Yanzhi and reenacting the events in the dream?
He Zhou lifted his head in the direction Qiu Yanzhi had left.
--That hateful person was full of lies. He was clearly the one who approached He Zhou, but he left again in the end. He had a hickey from a man on his body, but he was wearing a skirt for a different man.
That liar, Qiu Yanzhi.
He viciously clamped down on Qiu Yanzhi’s name, gritting his teeth and growling out every syllable like he hated that person so much he wanted to swallow him whole.
--If it was all just a dream.
--Then he would achieve an even better ending in reality. He would have Qiu Yanzhi marry him, fall in love with him, and never be able to leave him.