"S-Senior...you, you’re going to marry him?”
Ye Mingxu turned to look at Qiu Yanzhi with his big, dark doe eyes. His face only paled further, making him appear especially pitiful.
Qiu Yanzhi didn't know what to do for a moment.
He looked at his pale, fragile junior who seemed to be at his breaking point. Then he turned to He Zhou, who was pretending to be affectionate. He took a deep breath and said:
"Mr. He, have you thought about how to bring up breaking the engagement to my father?”
Hearing this, Ye Mingxu's eyes widened a little more.
He Zhou: "......"
Once again, He Zhou regretted his little act of generosity before.
How could he have the face to go against his own words so quickly?
He Zhou: "Not yet, but I have a plan in mind.”
Qiu Yanzhi suddenly took Ye Mingxu's hand in his. "Why not tell my father the truth? Just say that I'm in love with someone else."
He Zhou's eyes rested on the their intertwined hands. He could hear himself grinding his teeth.
Ye Mingxu froze for a long time before he reacted. He looked at Qiu Yanzhi completely dumbfounded. “S-Senior..."
For his sake, Senior was willing to go against his family, against his prior engagement, against this evil and powerful man…
Ye Mingxu was more than moved.
He Zhou sneered, "You've only known him for a few days...do you really like him? Or are you just pretending to?"
"Naturally, my feelings for him are the real deal." Qiu Yanzhi said.
Ye Mingxu felt his nose become stuffy. He turned to look at He Zhou with newfound strength. “Y-you’re wrong. Senior and I haven’t just met, and our feelings for each other are deeper than you think! After all, Senior has had a crush on me since long ago!”
Ye Mingxu turned back to Qiu Yanzhi. "Tell him about when you first fell in love with me.”
Qiu Yanzhi was taken off guard. There was a slight pause before he said, "I remember passing by a playground in the summer when I happened to see you playing basketball..."
Qiu Yanzhi subconsciously tried to lick his lips, but he forced himself to stop after remembering something. He tried to cover it up by biting his lip. “...I thought you were very bright and lively then. I just couldn’t stop watching you, noticing you, and asking other people about you.”
He Zhou saw Qiu Yanzhi mess up. He scoffed inside.
Go on, keep spinning your web of lies.
Ye Mingxu was still unaware of anything being wrong. He was as pure and foolish as ever. Qiu Yanzhi’s words caused his ears to flush. He shyly said, “So Senior fell for me at first sight.”
“That’s right." Qiu Yanzhi smiled gently.
He Zhou couldn’t help but scoff, "If that’s the case, what colour was Ye Mingxu’s clothes that day?"
Qiu Yanzhi froze again. He tentatively said, "...White?"
Ye Mingxu frowned. He seemed a bit confused, "I’m usually in uniform when I play basketball. When have I ever worn white clothes..?"
Qiu Yanzhi's heart skipped a beat. He looked up to see He Zhou's derisive expression.
Qiu Yanzhi instantly hated it to bits.
"Ah! I remember now!" Ye Mingxu's eyes shone brightly, "Senior, was it the afternoon of last semester's final exams? I went straight to the basketball court that day when I got out of the exam hall, so I didn't have time to change into my uniform."
"Yes!" Qiu Yanzhi said firmly, "It must be that day!"
Ye Mingxu’s eyes curved into crescents as he smiled. "So it was then. If I had known that Senior was watching me, I definitely would’ve been able to play better that day.”
Qiu Yanzhi let out a sigh of relief, "It's alright. Whether you played well or not, I still like you."
When Ye Mingxu heard this, he blushed and looked down at his pasta. His ears were practically dripping blood as he took another forkful.
When He Zhou looked at the clueless Ye Mingxu, he felt like he was looking at his past self that Qiu Yanzhi had run circles around.
He was actually starting to feel bad this guy.
When Ye Mingxu got up to go to the bathroom, He Zhou suddenly looked up and said, "Qiu Yanzhi, it seems that your lying skills have deteriorated.”
Ever since He Zhou announced that he knew Qiu Yanzhi’s ticks when lying, he’s felt like this guy was a human lie detector. Qiu Yanzhi could no longer look him straight in the eye while being untruthful. Even now, he could only focus on his meal and quietly mumble, “...I don't know what you’re talking about.”
He Zhou suddenly reached out to wipe a bit of sauce off the side of Qiu Yanzhi's mouth with his thumb. "Is there a reason that you like to toy with other people's feelings so much?"
Qiu Yanzhi was just about to open his mouth to retort when He Zhou pinched his lips in a not so gentle fashion, stopping him from speaking. "Don’t say anything if you’re just going to lie.”
Qiu Yanzhi frowned. He felt his face being pinched into a very strange shape, so he tried to smack He Zhou's hand away. He Zhou quickly let go before he could make contact.
He Zhou paused for a moment. "One day, I’ll figure out the reason you’re doing all this."
He stood up. "I'll leave first. You can continue your little charade here."
Qiu Yanzhi poked at the noodles with his fork. "Then I won’t see you off."
He Zhou was about to leave when he suddenly turned around again.
“Oh, I forgot one thing."
With a ripping sound, He Zhou tore off the dressing on Qiu Yanzhi's neck again.
Qiu Yanzhi covered his neck and turned to furiously glare at He Zhou. "What was that for?!"
He Zhou laughed and replied with mocking concern. "The dressing’s been on for a long time, so it's time to change it. Also, if your little junior discovers what’s going on later, don't forget to find an excuse for why you woke up in my bed this morning.”
Qiu Yanzhi stared daggers at He Zhou's departing back. He fumed and grit his teeth, but he was also puzzled.
--Why has He Zhou become like this? He wasn't this way before?!
At that moment, Ye Mingxu came out of the washroom.
When Qiu Yanzhi saw him, he panicked and immediately put his elbows on the table so he could cover the bite mark with his hands. He pretended nothing had happened and continued to eat.
Ye Mingxu noticed that there was one person missing from their table. His mood immediately brightened as he happily asked, "Senior, did that person leave?"
Qiu Yanzhi: "Yes, he had something to do so he left first."
Ye Mingxu sat back down and muttered, "He's so annoying."
Qiu Yanzhi nodded in agreement. "Very annoying."
Ye Mingxu was even happier when he saw Qiu Yanzhi also voice his dislike of He Zhou. But then he thought of something else that caused the smile on his face to slowly fade.
The student glanced at Qiu Yanzhi before quickly looking down again. He tentatively spoke, "...Senior, can I ask you something?"
Qiu Yanzhi: "What is it?"
Ye Mingxu pursed his lips: "...I just want to know, was what that man surnamed He said true? Last night...did you really...sleep in the same bed as him?"
He Zhou's prediction turned out to be right.
Qiu Yanzhi took a deep breath. He reached out and cupped Ye Mingxu's face with his hands, looking into his junior’s eyes. His voice was nothing but sincere. "Mingxu, nothing happened between me and him last night. Do you believe me?"
Ye Mingxu froze. He blinked several times before slowly nodding. Gathering his courage, he said, "...Senior, I believe you."
Qiu Yanzhi smiled gently, "As long as you believe in me, that's fine."
Qiu Yanzhi just appeared far too gentle, and his eyes way too sincere. Ye Mingxu couldn’t even look straight at him. The corners of his mouth slowly rose as he blushed and tried to avoid Qiu Yanzhi's affectionate gaze.
But as soon as he looked away slightly, the smile on his face froze.
Ye Mingxu paled again. Without saying a word, he stared straight at one spot. There was a tremor in his voice.
"...Senior, what is that?"
Qiu Yanzhi froze. He saw Ye Mingxu staring straight at his neck, where there was...
A bite mark.
Only then did Qiu Yanzhi realize his mistake. He had just cupped his hands around Ye Mingxu's face in order to comfort him, forgetting all about the bomb ticking away on his neck.
Qiu Yanzhi silently cursed all 18 generations of He Zhou's ancestors, but the exposed bite mark had already thrown all his lies out into the open.
Ye Mingxu looked at him with clear hurt in his red-rimmed eyes. “Senior, didn't you say that nothing happened between you two last night..?"
Qiu Yanzhi panicked and explained, "It isn’t from last night!”
Ye Mingxu's expression collapsed even more. "Then, when was it from..? So you two have been intimate before last night?”
Qiu Yanzhi: ...Fuck.
Ye Mingxu suddenly connected the dots. His face was a ghastly shade of white as he smiled at Qiu Yanzhi. "Senior, I remember now. You’ve had a bandage on your neck since yesterday. I didn’t ask, but the injury underneath must’ve been this bite mark, right?”
Qiu Yanzhi: "......"
For the third time within just three minutes of He Zhou’s departure, Qiu Yanzhi cursed the man out in his heart.
There was a sudden silence between the two.
"Ye Mingxu..." Qiu Yanzhi called out to him.
Ye Mingxu, however, suddenly stood up again. "Senior, I, I suddenly remembered that I haven't finished something for my club…”
“I-I’ll have to leave first. A-also, I might not go back to the dorms to sleep tonight because my club is really busy now. I’ll probably stay overnight in the club room.”
After saying that, Ye Mingxu took his things and left.
Before Ye Mingxu left the restaurant, he went to the counter to settle the bill, only to be told that all of their meals had been paid for by He Zhou.
Ye Mingxu's face alternated between red and white. He put the money on the counter and said, “I’ll pay for my share myself."
Then he turned and ran away, leaving behind a puzzled manager.
Qiu Yanzhi watched him leave expressionlessly. He gathered the last forkful of noodles and stuffed it in his mouth.
Fuck, the duck he cooked just flew away.
He Zhou, you trash!
Qiu Yanzhi put his fork down and viciously chewed on the noodles in his mouth.
Qiu Yanzhi lay down on his bed in the dormitory. He suddenly felt very bored.
Ye Mingxu seemed to be desperately avoiding him. He sometimes didn't come back to the dorm all day. Zhao Rui had a girlfriend, so he hanged out with her outside the dorms most of the time. His last roommate, Zhou Qi, was preparing for his exams. Even if he wasn’t, the two of them have never gotten along, even in the last round. There was no way he would want to talk with Qiu Yanzhi.
Qiu Yanzhi sighed, feeling that his life was so very boring.
That would be all fine and dandy if his bed wasn’t so hard too.
But his bed being hard wasn’t the actual problem. Actually, Qiu Yanzhi just really didn't like living in this dormitory.
He hated the crowded living environment here, probably because he had always lived in a cramped room with his mother as a child.
He would often startle awake at night because of the noise. When he saw how cramped it was and the shifting shadowy figures on the walls at night, Qiu Yanzhi found it hard to breathe.
Qiu Yanzhi woke up again in the middle of the night. He decided then and there to move out while massaging his aching chest.
After all, this was a dating simulator game. It didn’t care about the player’s academic achievements. Besides, Qiu Yanzhi was supposed to be a rich young master here. What was a few thousands dollars in rent to him?
Qiu Yanzhi didn't bother with the specifics. He just picked a property directly across the street from Zhang Yuxuan's place. Zhang Yuxuan, of course, was pretty happy about this.
He didn’t have much stuff to pack, so Qiu Yanzhi managed to stuff everything into a large suitcase. When he was about to leave, Qiu Yanzhi saw someone.
It was Big Yellow.
Big Yellow landed on the desk in front of Qiu Yanzhi and looked at him without saying a word.
Ever since Qiu Yanzhi fought with Big Yellow over the Isolation Card, it had disappeared for many days.
Qiu Yanzhi gave it a look before pulling his suitcase and continuing on his way.
Big Yellow flapped its wings and followed him.
It sounded a little aggrieved, "I've been gone for so many days… Why haven't you called me even once?"
Qiu Yanzhi gave it another look. "Because I'm angry with you."
Big Yellow opened its mouth. Then it hung his head and whispered, "Qiu Yanzhi, I just want to help you clean up the bugs. I just want to give you a better gaming experience."
Qiu Yanzhi: "If that's the case, why did you hide it from me?"
"It was because I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to go through with it if you knew. Turns out I was right.”
Big Yellow paused. It offered a quiet apology, “Sorry. I knew you cared about He Zhou a lot, but I thought you still considered him a NPC deep down.”
The more Qiu Yanzhi listened, the more he felt like Big Yellow's words were strange.
He frowned, "But I still think he's just an NPC now."
Qiu Yanzhi felt weird. He looked at Big Yellow and emphasized, “I spent a lot of time with He Zhou in the last round, and he did help me out a lot. But he’s nothing more than a NPC I’m close to like Zhang Yuxuan or my parents. Of course I don’t want to see him go insane.”
Big Yellow: "Fine, whatever you say."
Qiu Yanzhi gave it another look in warning. "Don't get any strange ideas."
Big Yellow flapped its wings and said, "I didn't. Who said I had strange ideas?"
Qiu Yanzhi felt that there was really something off about Big Yellow's tone.
He didn't want to waste another second on it, so he opened the dormitory’s door and went on his way.
Big Yellow flew to Qiu Yanzhi's suitcase and settled down on it, letting Qiu Yanzhi pull it along. "Qiu Yanzhi, I'll tell you a secret, so don't be angry with me anymore, okay?"
Qiu Yanzhi gave it another look, "What’s the secret?"
Big Yellow let out a deep breath and said, "That player from three years ago…”
“I suspect he's not dead.”