Qiu Yanzhi froze in place. It wasn’t until someone called out to him that he suddenly came back to his senses.
He picked up the gun that He Zhou had just dropped on the floor and stuffed it into the crook of his arms before scrambling towards the door.
He Zhou was carried by the bodyguard company’s people into a limo, which Qiu Yanzhi also got into.
Qiu Yanzhi originally wanted to use a Healing Card on He Zhou, but he didn’t dare to do so with three or four other people in the car. How would he explain He Zhou’s wounds recovering so quickly?
Perhaps his face was far too pale with panic as he looked at He Zhou’s wound, for the man’s finger shifted to touch Qiu Yanzhi's hand.
Qiu Yanzhi stiffened. He looked up at He Zhou’s pallid face. His lips quivered as he reached out with both hands to take He Zhou's hand.
He Zhou opened his mouth. He couldn’t hear a thing right now, but he could still make out the words being said.
“...Don’t be afraid, Qiu Yanzhi.”
A sour feeling flooded Qiu Yanzhi’s nose as the rims of his eyes reddened. He tightened his grip on He Zhou’s hand before bending towns to nuzzle it with his face. He hoarsely replied, “I’m not afraid."
The staff of the bodyguard company prepared to leave as soon as He Zhou was wheeled into the operating theatre.
Cheng Yi, who was their guide before, handed Qiu Yanzhi a business card., "Since Mr. He was injured at our company, we will take partial responsibility no matter how he was injured.”
Qiu Yanzhi’s mind was very frayed and frazzled. He didn’t want to say anything at first, but he frowned and looked up at Cheng Yi after accepting the business card. "What do you mean ‘’no matter how he was injured’?"
Cheng Yi was taken aback. "The coach had stepped out at the time of the incident. Only you and Mr. He were in the shooting range…”
The implication was that they had injured themselves.
Qiu Yanzhi pursed his lips. "Is there CCTV in your shooting range?"
Cheng Yi shook her head. "The shooting range where you and Mr. He were practicing is exclusively for customer use. We usually don’t monitor the area to protect the privacy of our customers.”
Qiu Yanzhi asked, "What about outside then?"
Cheng Yi: "Yes, there is surveillance outside the shooting range."
Qiu Yanzhi: "I want all the footage starting an hour before the incident."
Cheng Yi: "Okay, I'll send it to your email address shortly."
After the bodyguards left, Qiu Yanzhi was left standing outside the door in a daze.
He stood for a while. His legs got sore.
So he squatted down and buried his head in his knees.
Just now, when he was talking to Cheng Yi, he was actually pushing himself to keep it together.
His mind was a real mess. He couldn’t even form a coherent thought right now.
The strange, provocative text message and the man who had disappeared after being shot in the head by He Zhou both sent a chill down his spine.
Qiu Yanzhi touched the gun in his arms. Only then did he manage to calm down a bit.
Today, when He Zhou asked him to carry a gun, he had said it was unnecessary.
But now he wished he had a grenade on hand.
Previously, Qiu Yanzhi's only consolation in the face of Bug #3 was that Bug #3 was just a buggy NPC, a rich and powerful one at best. And Qiu Yanzhi was a player; an OP existence in this game that could use cards.”
But now he knew.
He wasn’t the only one with cards up their sleeves.
...He couldn’t shake off how bizarre the sudden disappearance of that person in the shooting range was.
Qiu Yanzhi couldn’t think of anything that could make a person suddenly disappear from this game world apart from the effects of a card.
Could it be that…Bug #3 also had access to cards?
Suddenly, pieces of information flashed through Qiu Yanzhi's mind, causing him to immediately freeze in place.
"That player from three years ago...I suspect he’s not dead."
"Actually, in addition to the voice-activated holographic control panel, this game also has a physical control device that has the same functions.”
"The last player had the physical control device with him when he got into that car accident.”
"But two days ago, I seemed to have sensed a signal from that device.”
He remembered Big Yellow previous words.
"Big Yellow." Qiu Yanzhi called out with a slight tremble in his voice.
Big Yellow flew out. "What's up?"
Qiu Yanzhi looked at him and said, "The signal from that physical control device, did you ever sense it?"
Big Yellow’s wings stopped flapping for a beat. Then it shook its head and said, "No. Did something happen?"
Qiu Yanzhi looked at Big Yellow and said, word for word, "That player...he might really not be dead."
Big Yellow froze for a moment. "No, no it can't be."
Bug #3 was potentially not an NPC, but a player.
Qiu Yanzhi's phone suddenly vibrated at this time.
Another unfamiliar number, another text message from that person.
[You're smarter than I thought to have guessed it so quickly.]
...This person was still spying on him!
This person actually knew what he said just seconds before.
Goosebumps covered Qiu Yanzhi’s body again, but his mind grew clear. He grit his teeth and replied: “But didn’t you deliberately lead me to this conclusion?”
Qiu Yanzhi: "You made that dead man disappear in front of me using a card, right? Did you use the Troublesome Character Isolation Card or the 3 Km Instant Transport Card? The guy was already dead so you didn’t need to worry about exposing yourself. Why did you use a card then? Wasn’t it to demonstrate your ability to me?”
[You really are smarter than I thought.]
Qiu Yanzhi: "You idiot."
Qiu Yanzhi: "Come out and face me like a man. Or are you a shithead who hides in the gutters all the time?”
But that person stopped replying to him.
Qiu Yanzhi felt tense and anxious all the time before he knew what Bug #3 was. But now, some of that fear has been replaced by rage.
We’re both players so why should I be afraid of you?
Because you've been trapped in this game for three more years than me?
Because you're always hiding in the shadows using underhanded tricks like a maggot?
And don’t get me fucking started on the spying.
Qiu Yanzhi looked at Big Yellow and asked, "Big Yellow, of all the cards, including the cards in the VIP mall and the card pool, which cards can be used to spy on others?”
Big Yellow shook its head. "None of the cards have such a function."
So this means he’s using technology.
Since they were able to hear what he and Big Yellow had just discussed, the listening device must be on his person.
Qiu Yanzhi scanned himself over.
I changed into these clothes at He Zhou’s house, so they should be fine.
That leaves my phone and watch.
He’s always carried his phone on him. Even if the screen had to be changed last time, it was fine due to two factors. One, the events leading up to the broken screen were a complete accident. And two, he was present the entire time his phone was being repaired.
His watch, on the other hand, had been sent for repair two weeks ago. He was still busy with work at He Zhou’s company, so the watch sat at the store for three or four days.
If that person had been so inclined, there had been more than enough time for him to plant a bug in the watch.
With this in mind, Qiu Yanzhi found a doctor and asked for some equipment. Then he took apart his watch.
As he expected, there was an extremely small listening device just under the cover.
Holding onto the bug, Qiu Yanzhi cursed all of that person’s ancestors three times over. After using up all the bad words he knew, he crushed the device and threw it in the trash.
However, Qiu Yanzhi was still unsettled. He started tinkering with his phone.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t take it apart like he had the watch.
Thus, Qiu Yanzhi ran out of the hospital to the nearest phone store and bought a new phone. Then he swapped his SIM card over and tossed the old one in the trash.
But before he did that, he didn’t forget to take off the case and retrieve the tiny sticky note stored within. He stuck it behind the new phone's case.
Because He Zhou being in surgery was always on his mind, Qiu Yanzhi was practically running the entire time during his trip.
However, when he arrived back in front of the operating theatre, out of breath...
The light on the door had not gone out. The surgery was still in progress.
Qiu Yanzhi continued to wait outside. He stepped on the lines between tiles and counted them under his breath.
The value went up and up, but He Zhou still hadn't come out.
Qiu Yanzhi looked at the time and frowned.
...Why’s this operation taking so long?
Was it a very serious injury?
Qiu Yanzhi almost wanted to go smash the door open, drag He Zhou off the operating table, and heal him directly with a Healing Card.
Luckily, as Qiu Yanzhi anxiously crouched by the door to try and peek inside…
He Zhou's peration was finally over.
Qiu Yanzhi felt he was acting really strange. He was a mix of angry, agitated, furious and restless as he waited outside.
But when He Zhou came out of the operating theatre, the sight of He Zhou’s tightly closed eyes and somewhat pale face made Qiu Yanzhi’s entire heart calm down.
A tidal wave seemed to carry all his irritation and anxiety away.
Qiu Yanzhi went up to the doctor and asked him politely, "How is He Zhou?"
The doctor took off his mask and said, "The patient wasn’t hit in any vital areas. The operation was also a success. He should wake up after the anesthetic wears off."
He Zhou was wheeled to the general ward from the operating theatre. The doctor left after leaving some simple instructions.
Qiu Yanzhi and He Zhou were soon the only two people left on the ward.
Qiu Yanzhi slowly lifted up He Zhou's clothes and gently touched the gauze beneath.
Then he called for Big Yellow: "Big Yellow, I want to purchase a NPC Healing Card."
Big Yellow flew out. "Are you sure? He Zhou's injury looks serious, but it’s actually going to be mostly healed after half a month in the hospital.”
Qiu Yanzhi frowned at Big Yellow. "Big Yellow, shouldn’t you be overjoyed that I’m spending money? Why are you trying to dissuade me?”
Big Yellow sat down across from him. "I'm just saying since your wallet’s looking emptier these days…”
Qiu Yanzhi, "Cut the crap. I want to buy the card now."
After the cards were purchased, that familiar mechanical female voice rang out.
"Please enter the name of the NPC that needs to be healed."
"Healing in progress. Please wait."
Qiu Yanzhi sat on by He Zhou’s bed, quietly watching over the man.
But the mechanical female voice soon spoke again, “Healing failed. Please try again.”
Qiu Yanzhi froze. He sluggishly blinked before saying with some hesitation, “...Retry.”
The air became so quiet that Qiu Yanzhi could almost hear the second hand of the clock hung on the wall turning.
The cold, mechanical female voice rang out.
Qiu Yanzhi finally breathed a sigh of relief.
He reached out and carefully lifted a corner of the gauze from He Zhou's abdomen. He bent down for a closer look.
Only when he was sure the wound was gone did his heart finally settle down. He completely removed the gauze.
As he looked at He Zhou's smooth, intact skin, Qiu Yanzhi was suddenly consumed by the memory of fresh blood gushing out of the area. His heart clenched as he reached out with some trepidation to touch He Zhou's waist. He even pressed his face against it.
"...Qiu Yanzhi, what are you doing?"
He Zhou's voice suddenly asked.
Qiu Yanzhi blinked somewhat sluggishly and looked at He Zhou. "I healed you."
He Zhou was silent for a moment. "...I meant what are you doing lying on my waist.”
Qiu Yanzhi was taken aback. He suddenly realized that he had lifted He Zhou’s clothes and pressed his face against the man’s waist. He looked like a pervert if there ever was one.
He blushed and scrambled to sit up straight, putting He Zhou’s clothes back down. “...I, I was just helping you check your wounds.”
He Zhou asked, "You used a Healing Card?"
Qiu Yanzhi nodded.
"How wasteful." He Zhou frowned. "If you're going to fight against Bug #3, you need to conserve your money. You can’t waste it on things like this.”
Qiu Yanzhi shook his head. "It's not a waste if it’s for you.”
He Zhou went quiet for a beat. Then he said:
"Qiu Yanzhi, come here."
Qiu Yanzhi didn't know why he called him over, but he went. "What's wrong?"
He Zhou put his left hand on the back of Qiu Yanzhi's head before suddenly pressing him forward. The distance between them shrank alarmingly as warm air spilled onto the other person’s cheeks. Their breaths became turbulent, and the tips of their noses touched with every inhale.
Qiu Yanzhi's heart was beating furiously. His eyes widened in a panic.
He Zhou's dark pupils seemed to be filled with thick, indilutable ink.
"Qiu Yanzhi, I took a bullet for you today."
He paused for a moment. His voice was slightly hoarse, as if he was trying desperately to hold something back, "...You have to repay me."
Qiu Yanzhi: "How can I...repay you?"
He Zhou's fingers dug into Qiu Yanzhi's soft black hair. He used a minimal amount of force.
And Qiu Yanzhi kissed him.