In a daze, Qiu Yanzhi stared dumbly at He Zhou. The colours of the setting sun were reflected in his irises, making them appear bright and glistening. Qiu Yanzhi’s eyelashes fluttered slightly before he closed his eyes and kissed He Zhou once more.
The last traces of the sun set slowly into the sea. Winds whipped up and scattered the colourful clouds in the sky.
On the beach of Hongming Island...
A young man leaned over to share a kiss with the man in the wheelchair.
They seemed like a pair of inseparable lovers.
Qiu Yanzhi and He Zhou didn’t return to the ward until the moon hung high in the sky.
When they left, Qiu Yanzhi locked the door from the inside and told the bodyguards to give them some privacy.
As a result, no one knew that they had even left the ward.
This ward was very spacious with enough space to fit two beds inside.
As usual, Qiu Yanzhi went to arrange the blanket on one of the beds. But he suddenly turned his head halfway through to blink at He Zhou. “He Zhou, I want to sleep with you tonight.”
He Zhou chuckled and lifted a corner of his blanket.
Qiu Yanzhi then quickly tossed his own aside and dove under He Zhou’s covers.
Avoiding He Zhou's right leg, he carefully laid down on the man’s left side.
Even though this hospital bed was much bigger than the standard issue patient bed, it was still a tad too small to fit two grown men.
It was to the point where they had to lie extremely close to each other. He Zhou’s warmth radiated through the thin hospital gown to Qiu Yanzhi, making him feel inexplicably aroused.
He tilted his head to look at He Zhou, only to discover that the man had been regarding him quietly.
In the darkness of the night, He Zhou's dark irises seemed to shine with a dim light. Qiu Yanzhi felt like He Zhou’s beauty had bewitched him and made him lose his mind. He leaned over for another kiss.
He Zhou wrapped his arms around Qiu Yanzhi's waist and slowly deepened the kiss.
It was easy to become aroused in this dimly lit environment. By the time they separated, the air was filled with ambiguous panting and heartbeats.
He Zhou swallowed dryly before he reached out and pressed Qiu Yanzhi’s head against his chest. His voice was way too hoarse:
"...Sleep, Qiu Yanzhi."
Qiu Yanzhi closed his eyes and pressed his burning face against He Zhou's chest. He silently berated himself for acting like an animal.
There were few stars out this evening.
A bright moon was in the sky above, and glittering rivers of stars littered the human world below.
When did this world start becoming so prosperous?
Big Yellow wondered silently as he laid on the roof of the hospital, looking out at the brilliant neon lights and the seemingly endless flow of traffic.
Just then, it sensed that familiar radio wave again.
It seemed to be emanating from somewhere nearby, as if someone was deliberately sending him a message.
Big Yellow sat up abruptly.
...It was the physical control device.
That man was calling it over.
Big Yellow flew in the direction of the radio wave until it eventually arrived on the roof of an abandoned building.
There stood a tall, well-built man.
When he saw Big Yellow, the man activated the miniature signal jammer he was holding, concealing the signal from the physical control device once more.
Just like the last time they crossed paths, this man was almost completely covered up from head to toe. He had on a wide robe on his that obscured his figure and the hood of a cloak over his head. He was even wearing a ridiculous looking mask.
It almost seemed like he was terrified of letting anyone recognise him.
This man looked up at Big Yellow. His voice was unrecognizable thanks to the distortion of the metal mask. With gritted teeth, he grimly asked, “Exactly how much money does Qiu Yanzhi have left? How many times can he use cards?”
Big Yellow was silent for a moment. "A lot."
Infuriated, the man kicked a nearby pile of discarded metal wires. He indignantly said, “You clearly told me last time that he was almost broke.”
Big Yellow: "I didn’t know he had another bank account until recently either. And I didn’t tell you that he was almost broke last time, I said he didn’t have much money… You were being too reckless, kidnapping his mother.”
"I did that because my time is..."
Big Yellow frowned. "What?"
The man: "Nothing."
Big Yellow was quiet for a beat before asking, “Is protecting this place really your only motive?”
"Of course." The man replied, "I'm not like Qiu Yanzhi. I love this place."
Big Yellow pursed its lips. "Qiu Yanzhi also loves this place a lot. At the very least, he cares about He Zhou and his family and friends. For their sake alone, Qiu Yanzhi wouldn’t expose this world if he were to leave…”
The man narrowed his eyes. "You’re having second thoughts?"
Faced with Big Yellow’s damning silence, the man sneered and said, “Don’t forget whose fault it is that I’m trapped here, Big Yellow. It was because of your mistake three years ago that I got into a car accident. Do you understand how frightened I was then? I hoped, I tried desperately to get out of this place. But every attempt ended in failure. I screamed for you, searched every inch of this world for you...but you were nowhere to be found. Do you understand how scared I was trapped here all alone?!”
"Three years ago, only a handful of the NPCs here were sentient. Some were basically the equivalent of a block of wood. They were mere spectres. It was me, my presence that slowly changed them into being the equal of any human. And now, when I’ve finally connected with them, with this entire world, you’re going to help another player destroy everything I’ve regained?!”
The man paused for a moment before saying solemnly, “Big Yellow, you were once the AI assistancI trusted the most. You can’t betray me twice.”
Big Yellow stood on the floor with his head bowered, a waver in his voice. “...I, I didn't want to betray you."
The man's voice gentled as he knelt down and stroked Big Yellow's head. "Let's protect this world we love together, alright?”
All walls had ears. The news of He Zhou’s leg injury soon spread.
Wave after wave of people came to visit him.
However, the ten black-clad bodyguards standing outside his ward stared down anyone who came in, making the whole atmosphere strangely oppressive.
So apart from friends like Shen Xingwei, the business partners who had only come to rub elbows left quickly after expressing their condolences.
Even so, a steady stream of people continued to arrive.
In the end, even Meng Qikang flew back from overseas.
Meng Qikang wasn’t supposed to be back in the country until next month according to the timeline!
The NPCs here really have a fucking mind of their own!
Qiu Yanzhi grit his teeth hatefully.
Meng Qikang stared at He Zhou’s leg and paled slightly. His lips quivered.
“...I should’ve known something was wrong when you stopped emailing me last week. I’m sorry I came back so late…” Meng Qikang said as he reached for He Zhou’s hand.
Hey! That's my man's hand!
Qiu Yanzhi immediately turned, grabbed an apple, and shoved it into He Zhou's hand.
Meng Qikang stopped abruptly. Like he had just noticed Qiu Yanzhi’s presence, he turned and asked, "...Who is this?"
Qiu Yanzhi turned towards Meng Qikang with a not-smile. "I'm Qiu Yanzhi."
"You are...Teacher Zhong's son?" Meng Qikang smiled gently and said, "Long time no see...but what are you doing here?"
"He's my fiancé." He Zhou answered.
Meng Qikang was a little surprised. "You're getting married?"
He Zhou nodded.
Meng Qikang blinked. He seemed to suddenly think of something that made him smile. “Then I’ll wish you two a hundred years of harmony in advance. I hope that both the He family and the Qiu family’s companies continue to prosper.”
…Implied was that they were marrying for business.
Qiu Yanzhi was a little pissed off.
He was about to say something when He Zhou reached over with his left hand and interlocked his fingers with Qiu Yanzhi’s.
He Zhou smiled at Meng Qikang and simply said, "Thank you."
Meng Qikang froze for a moment.
He Zhou’s smile was way too genuine. It was almost as if he was actually accepting someone’s well wishes.
When he looked at Meng Qikang, there was no unwillingness, resentment, anger or...pining in his eyes.
He Zhou smiling so freely and openly like this made Meng Qikang feel more uneasy than him pretending to be intimate with someone else ever could.
...He Zhou didn't care about him at all anymore. Not one bit.
When Meng Qikang found out that He Zhou had gotten injured for Qiu Yanzhi’s sake, his heart sank even deeper into the abyss.
He felt like the him that had scrambled to buy a plane ticket last night was a joke.
Meng Qikang pursed his lips and exchanged a few more pleasantries. He left after wishing He Zhou a speedy recovery.
As soon as Meng Qikang left, Qiu Yanzhi pursed his lips and muttered sourly, “He Zhou, you must be overjoyed to see your white moonlight so worried about you.”
He Zhou smiled faintly. "Are you jealous?"
Qiu Yanzhi replied at the speed of light, "No, I just don’t like that guy.”
He Zhou: "But you’ve said it yourself. We’re both NPCs, and my memories of pining after him were all just fake memories the system conjured up out of thin air.”
He Zhou arched an eyebrow and continued:
"Only my feelings for you are real, Qiu Yanzhi.”
Qiu Yanzhi blushed.
...How could this guy confess his love at the drop of a hat?
At that moment, someone else came in.
It was Ye Hongyuan.
He’s worked together with He Zhou before on some business ventures, so it wasn’t too strange for him to visit the man.
Like the others, Ye Hongyuan was taken aback by all the bodyguards in the room at first, but he didn’t ask too many questions. After instructing his assistant to set down the flower, he turned to exchange pleasantries with He Zhou.
Ye Hongyuan seemed very gentle and easy-going while talking with He Zhou.
If Qiu Yanzhi didn’t know that Ye Hongyuan put a hit out on Liu Cheng after his mistress double crossed him and all that sordid business, he might have mistaken this guy for a modest gentleman.
But when Qiu Yanzhi thought about these things, his mind inevitably drifted to Liu Cheng.
Because of the matter of He Zhou’s leg, Qiu Yanzhi hasn’t left his side once. As a result, he had no idea about Liu Cheng's current condition.
He didn't even know if Liu Cheng was still alive.
Qiu Yanzhi was still a little uneasy after Ye Hongyuan left.
Like he knew what was on Qiu Yanzhi's mind, He Zhou snatched both the apple and the knife Qiu Yanzhi had brought to peel it. He placed the apple back on the plate.
"Qiu Yanzhi." He Zhou said, "Go check on Liu Cheng's situation first."
Qiu Yanzhi pursed his lips. "...That can wait until you're discharged. You’ll be out of here soon. I’ll work on other things then.”
"Qiu Yanzhi, you've already wasted so many days here. If you don't take the initiative soon, you’ll be at a disadvantage against that person.”
He Zhou reached out and tousled Qiu Yanzhi's hair. “Be good. Look at how many bodyguards are here. You don’t need to worry about me.”
When Qiu Yanzhi finally left, he had five bodyguards trailing him.
He originally wanted to just bring two, but He Zhou insisted on adding three more.
With such a big group, they even had to move around in two vehicles.
But as soon as Qiu Yanzhi stepped out of the hospital, he received a call from Zhang Yuxuan.
Zhang Yuxuan wailed, asking Qiu Yanzhi what he had been up to the past few days and why he hadn’t called him.
Qiu Yanzhi laughed, "I’m going to a gay bar. Wanna come?"
Zhang Yuxuan: "But I have to keep my chastity for my senior! I can't let those no-good men at the gay bar tarnish my innocence.”
Qiu Yanzhi facepalmed and sighed. "No one wants to tarnish your innocence."
...Except for Liu Cheng.
But who knows if that guy’s even alive or not?
Qiu Yanzhi: "Hurry up and tell me if you’re in or not. I’m going there by myself if you don’t come.”
"Of course I’m coming, I have to protect you! What if people bully you because you’re there by yourself?”
When Zhang Yuxuan met up with Qiu Yanzhi, he saw the five muscular, tall and black-clad bodyguards following him.
Zhang Yuxuan fell silent.
"Yanyan, are you going there to have fun or wreck the place, ah?”
Zhang Yuxuan was not the only one who thought that Qiu Yanzhi was going to make trouble at the bar.
When Qiu Yanzhi led his entourage of five bodyguards and Zhang Yuxuan, who was back to wearing eye-watering little dresses, into the gay bar...
Everyone noticeably went quiet for a while.
To be honest...
If Shen Xingwei didn't know that this man was He Zhou's fiancé and had extenuating circumstances, he would’ve gladly asked them all to leave.
Liu Cheng was still alive.
Qiu Yanzhi noticed him right away.
Liu Cheng was behind the bar mixing drinks. When he saw them, he was taken aback like all the other patrons of the bar. However, he quickly turned and got back to work.
Qiu Yanzhi walked over to Liu Cheng. Leaning forward on the table, he knocked the surface to get Liu Cheng’s attention. “I’d like a custom drink.”
Liu Cheng glanced at him and smiled sweetly. "What drink would you like, sir?"
Admiration was the drink that Liu Cheng had come up with after he started living together with Zhang Yuxuan.
Liu Cheng blinked. The sense of humour in his eyes deepend. “We don’t have a drink by that name here.”
"I thought you came up with this drink?”
Liu Cheng: "You’re probably thinking of someone else, sir. I would never make a drink with such a humble and passive name."
Qiu Yanzhi looked steadily at Liu Cheng.
Liu Cheng’s eyes were crystal clear. His smile that was just the right amount of politeness never faltered.
He wasn’t nervous or panicking at all.
Either this guy really doesn’t remember or he’s way too good an actor.
Qiu Yanzhi was thinking of another way to trip Liu Cheng up when he noticed that Zhang Yuxuan had locked eyes with Liu Cheng at some point.
The two of them were staring at each other in disbelief.
Strangers might've even mistaken this scene as some sort of long overdue reunion.
Zhang Yuxuan only jolted back to attention when Qiu Yanzhi tugged his arm. A shudder ran through his body.
Qiu Yanzhi pulled Zhang Yuxuan away. "Zhang Yuxuan, what's gotten into you?"
Zhang Yuxuan shook his head, his voice hollow, "Yanyan, I'm feeling really sad but also a little happy right now...and I don't know why."
The bugs really are getting worse.
Qiu Yanzhi thought.
He needed to be more cautious when using Reset Cards in the future.
Qiu Yanzhi and Zhang Yuxuan walked to a corner that was relatively secluded but still allowed them to see Liu Cheng.
Qiu Yanzhi had no confidence in his ability to handle alcohol, so he drank fruit juice the entire time.
But as time dragged on, he grew a bit drowsy.
That was, until Ye Hongyuan walked in.
Qiu Yanzhi sobered up instantly.
According to the timeline, Ye Hongyuan and Liu Cheng would be getting together soon.
If Liu Cheng had been completely reset, everything would play out like it did in the first round.
Ye Hongyuan would start an affair with Liu Cheng.
Together, they would attend Shen Xingwei's birthday party.
He would badmouth Qiu Yanzhi behind his back…
And continue to be Ye Hongyuan’s secret mistress after the man’s wedding.
Finally, he would be choked by Ye Hongyuan and forced to apologize to Jing Zeyu.
On the other hand, if Liu Cheng hadn’t been reset, there was no way he would be masochistic enough to go after his ‘former rich client’ who choked him, threatened him, and sent people to kill him.
Qiu Yanzhi was very disappointed.
Because those two soon began flirting with each other.
Twenty minutes later...
With his arm around Liu Cheng’s waist, Ye Hongyuan guided him to the washroom.
Sure enough, even Liu Cheng's memory had been completely wiped after the recent. How stupid he was, hoping for a miracle.
Qiu Yanzhi buried his head in his hands and harshly exhaled.
So Liu Cheng's trail’s gone cold.
This is so hard...
Qiu Yanzhi finished off his fruit juice. He turned to tell Zhang Yuxuan they were leaving.
But Zhang Yuxuan was nowhere to be seen.
Qiu Yanzhi looked up at the bodyguard and asked, "Where's Zhang Yuxuan?"
"He just went to the washroom." The bodyguard replied.
Qiu Yanzhi frowned. He went to the washroom with the bodyguards in tow.
Upon taking a look inside, he was dumbfounded.
There, Zhang Yuxuan and Ye Hongyuan were fighting.
Want to read up to 14 releases ahead? Check out my Patreon!