Qiu Yanzhi and He Zhou were soon busy.
Since their current project was a cooperation with several German companies, the two of them left the country three times in just two weeks.
He Zhou thought Qiu Yanzhi would have a difficult time as this was his first time translating, but to his surprise Qiu Yanzhi was very familiar with how things worked. He didn’t seem like a newbie at all.
One night before going to bed, He Zhou asked Qiu Yanzhi what he did before he transmigrated.
Qiu Yanzhi replied that he was a translator before as well.
Actually, He Zhou wanted to ask more questions about his family, his life, his closest friends...
He wanted to get to know Qiu Yanzhi better.
But before he could say anything, he found that Qiu Yanzhi had already fallen asleep with some dark circles under his eyes.
...He’s really worked himself to the bone lately.
He Zhou’s heart ached as he stroked his tired companion's cheek. Turning off the nightlight, he laid down beside Qiu Yanzhi and went to sleep.
When they came out of the airport for the last time, both of them were exhausted beyond words.
As the black car slowly left the airport, the driver spoke up: "Mr. He..."
"Shh." He Zhou interrupted him, "Keep your voice down."
The driver looked up at the rear-view mirror and noticed that Qiu Yanzhi's head was bobbing up and down slightly, as if he was asleep.
The driver lowered his voice and asked:
"...Will you take Mr. Qiu to his home first like before?"
He Zhou carefully corralled Qiu Yanzhi's head onto his shoulder. He said softly, "Go to my house."
When they arrived at home, Qiu Yanzhi was already deeply asleep.
He Zhou carefully carried him out of the car and all the way back to his room.
He put Qiu Yanzhi on the bed before taking off his coat and covering him with the blanket.
Qiu Yanzhi slept soundly. Not even being carried was enough to wake him, He only murmured lightly before turning over and snoozing away.
The sight made He Zhou smile as he tucked Qiu Yanzhi in.
During the night, Qiu Yanzhi woke up in a daze. He dully gave He Zhou, who was beside him, a look before closing his eyes and leaning in He Zhou's direction.
"Qiu Yanzhi," He Zhou asked quietly, "move in with me, alright?"
Qiu Yanzhi didn’t bother to open his eyes as he gave a muffled sound of agreement.
Then he was hugged by He Zhou, kissed on the forehead and gently swept up into the man’s arms.
Qiu Yanzhi truly woke up around 1 pm, when the sun was already shining high in the sky.
He stretched before slipping on his slippers and heading to the bathroom.
He brushed his teeth with half-open eyes, but halfway through he noticed something was wrong.
Wait a minute.
Where was he right now?
--He was at He Zhou's house.
So why was he holding his own toothbrush, using his own toothpaste and wearing his own slippers? And wasn’t this the electric toothbrush he just bought last week?? Its wireless charging holder was the same super cute yellow duck!
Qiu Yanzhi quickly finished washing up and pushed open the bathroom door.
Then he found his pajamas in He Zhou's bedroom, his potted plant on He Zhou's balcony, and even his clown fish in He Zhou's fish tank.
Something suddenly clicked in Qiu Yanzhi’s mind when he remembered He Zhou asking him if he wanted to move in with him last night.
...So that wasn't a dream, ah.
Well that was quick.
Qiu Yanzhi came to terms with it rather quickly. Rubbing his stomach, he walked to the dining room and took a carton of milk out of the fridge.
"Qiu Yanzhi." A gloomy voice suddenly rang out. It was Big Yellow. "You haven't called me out for quite some time."
Qiu Yanzhi gave Big Yellow a look. "Well I've been very busy lately.."
Big Yellow rolled over on the table. "Well I’ve been so bored lately. No one can see me or talk to me except you."
Qiu Yanzhi asked, "Then how did you get by in the three years before I started playing this game?"
Big Yellow hung his head: "...Every day of those three years was like torture."
It didn’t seem willing to elaborate.
Big Yellow flew around in He Zhou's house before saying, “Are you really giving up on getting out of here? Are you seriously going to continue working at He Zhou’s company, continue to live with him, and then...then you're going to get married to him and live out the rest of your life uneventfully here?”
Qiu Yanzhi's hands paused for a moment, and then he looked down. "So what if I live an uneventful life like this? What, it makes you unhappy that I won’t buy cards or follow the game’s plotline anymore?”
"Of course not. That’s not why I’m unhappy.” Big Yellow frowned. "As an AI assistant, it is my duty to make sure players have fun and enjoy their stay in the game world."
Big Yellow paused for a moment. It flew over to Qiu Yanzhi again.
"Qiu Yanzhi, are you happy right now?"
Qiu Yanzhi had just closed the fridge door when he noticed a sticky note on it.
[I didn't know when you would wake up. There’s food in the microwave. If you don’t like it, ask Mrs. Zhang to make you something else. Also, don’t drink milk straight out of the fridge. There’s a carton at room temperature on the dining table.]
Qiu Yanzhi could almost imagine the serious expression on He Zhou’s face as he wrote this.
His lips couldn't help but curl up as he glanced at the somewhat cold milk in his hand. He put it back in the fridge.
Then he tore the sticky note off the fridge, folded it up and placed it in the compartment of his phone case.
"I’m quite happy." Qiu Yanzhi said with a smile.
He knew what Big Yellow was trying to say.
In the end, this was still a game, and He Zhou was still an NPC.
The world he faced, the people he saw here…
They were nothing more than artificial data.
Qiu Yanzhi understood what Big Yellow was getting at, and he understood why it was worried as well.
Qiu Yanzhi could admit that he was a loner.
Qiu Yanzhi could admit that his real life wasn’t as good as the one in game.
Qiu Yanzhi could admit that he was a pitiful person who used games as a replacement for human interaction.
But he could also admit that he craved the false warmth and sense of belonging he felt right now.
As for whether he should allow this to continue, whether he should put aside his emotions and be rational, whether he should draw the line between humans and NPCs...
That's for philosophers to think about.
He, Qiu Yanzhi, was a short-sighted, lazy and uncultured person who was pretty much fine with this. He’s willing to stay here forever and be consumed by this beautiful dream. He’s willing to deceive himself and live out his life amongst these data that look like real people.
When he gets bored, when he gets tired, when he wakes up...
When he grows tired of the life this game has created for him...
He’ll wait until then to continue trying to find a way out.
After the project was completed perfectly, the company threw a celebration party at the biggest karaoke place in town. He Zhou had booked out the biggest luxury room on the top floor. Once the lights dimmed and the music was on, the atmosphere slowly heated up.
Everyone was worried that President He attending would spoil the mood, but it turned out they didn’t need to fret.
Ever since Qiu Yanzhi appeared, no one else could enter He Zhou's sight.
The past little while had tired him out, so Qiu Yanzhi came to relax. He drank some wine and used the buzz the alcohol gave him to take the mic and sing a few songs. A while later, people somehow convinced him to sing a sickly sweet little love song.
Qiu Yanzhi slowly walked towards He Zhou from the stage with the microphone in hand, his voice clear and beautiful. The reflection of the brilliant lights scattered across his eyes like diamonds. Step by step, he drew nearer to He Zhou with a smile in his eyes.
He took He Zhou's hand and smiled as he sang the last line of lyrics about confessing.
Everyone rose to their feet and hollered for them to kiss.
Qiu Yanzhi seemed to have had too much to drink. His head was all muddled. As he looked into He Zhou’s dark and pretty eyes, he suddenly threw his mic away, pushed the man down onto the sofa, and forcefully kissed him.
He Zhou was stunned by his sudden actions.
The people behind them shrieked and cheered.
Qiu Yanzhi pinned He Zhou down, closing his eyes as he carefully deepened their kiss.
Afterwards, Qiu Yanzhi noted that the tips of He Zhou’s ears were reddening. He leaned over to giggle by his ear, “Are you feeling shy..?”
He Zhou's ears were red, but he pursed his lips and said, "Of course not. You're drunk."
Qiu Yanzhi stood up. Perhaps because of the wine, there was an astonishing gleam in his eyes. He took He Zhou’s hand and said, “So you are feeling shy… Then we...we'll hide."
So Qiu Yanzhi pulled He Zhou through the crowd and ran out into the empty corridor.
"Now it’s just the two of us." Qiu Yanzhi looked up at He Zhou and smiled, his eyebrows arched and his eyes bright like stars.
Then he closed his eyes and tilted his head up with quirked lips. "You can kiss me now."
He Zhou's breath caught in his throat. His eyes began to darken.
Qiu Yanzhi tilted his head a little higher.
He Zhou suddenly took hold of Qiu Yanzhi's waist, pushing him back against the wall and kissing him deeply. The amount of force he was using only increased, as if he wanted to completely dominate Qiu Yanzhi.
Qiu Yanzhi circled his arms around He Zhou's neck and returned the kiss.
The fragrant scent of wine between Qiu Yanzhi's lips almost made He Zhou intoxicated as well.
After the kiss that was almost long enough to suffocate a person, He Zhou continued to hold onto Qiu Yanzhi, reluctant to let go. He planted light kisses across the other person’s lips, cheeks and forehead before hoarsely asking, "Do you like me?"
Qiu Yanzhi blinked, already a little out of it. He dumbly said, "Yeah."
He Zhou became more and more satisfied. He hugged and kissed him for quite some time, unwilling to part from this person ever. Like he was making sure, he then asked, “When did you start to like me?”
"...I’ve liked you since the first moment I saw you."
He Zhou lowered his head to press their foreheads together. He smiled faintly. "Really?"
"Really." Qiu Yanzhi nodded like a fool.
He Zhou asked again, "So what do you like about me?"
Qiu Yanzhi giggled, "I like, like that you're like Little Trash."
He Zhou was caught off guard by that. He huffed in amusement. "Qiu Yanzhi, no cursing."
Qiu Yanzhi shook his head and said with some grievance, "I didn't curse."
He Zhou smiled and pinched the tip of his nose. "If you didn't curse, why did you say I looked like Little Trash?"
Qiu Yanzhi opened his eyes and looked at him somewhat blankly.
"But you just look like Little Trash, ah..."
Qiu Yanzhi reached out and slowly traced He Zhou's eyebrows.
"Your eyes look like his, your eyebrows look like his..."
He Zhou's smile slowly stiffened.
Qiu Yanzhi didn't even realize what had happened. He smiled happily as his fingertip landed on He Zhou's mouth. "...And your mouth looks like his too!"
Then he hesitated. "He Zhou, why aren't you smiling anymore?"
He put his finger to He Zhou's lips and traced them innocently. "...You look most like him when you smile."
He Zhou was frozen in place. A bone chilling wind pierced through every nook and cranny in his body, freezing his blood into ice.
He looked at the smile on Qiu Yanzhi's face.
He looked at Qiu Yanzhi's pure and unclouded eyes.
He looked at Qiu Yanzhi's gaze that was always easily filled with genuine, deep affection.
He opened his mouth in a daze and weakly asked a meaningless question:
"Qiu Yanzhi, who is Little Trash?"
Qiu Yanzhi came over to give He Zhou a quick peck on the lips. A bright and brilliant smile glittered in his eyes.
"He’s the best person in the world in both character and looks, Qin He!"