Fei Sihao’s cousin ran a hand through her hair before smiling and reaching for Qiu Yanzhi’s hand. “Hello, I’m Fei Sihao’s cousin, Sheng Xia.”
Qiu Yanzhi also smiled gently back. “I’m Qiu Yanzhi.”
The sheer amount of shamelessness on display made ‘Cousin’ He Zhou scowl darkly in his wheelchair. He was too angry to even speak.
Fei Sihao: "Zhizhi, how come I've never heard you have a cousin?"
"My cousin's name is Zhou Kabei. He’s my maternal uncle’s eldest son.” Qiu Yanzhi lied without even blinking. He touched He Zhou’s shoulder and sighed. “You know how I’m not that close with my mom’s side of the family? I’ve actually lost contact with them for the past few years. Turns out my cousin came alone to work here in Haichuan but he injured his leg in an accident two days ago. Since there’s really no one other than me who could look after him, I took him in.”
“I see.” Fei Sihao nodded understandingly. "Zhou-ge, I’m Fei Sihao, Zhizhi's boyfriend. I live right across from Zhizhi, so feel free to come find me if you need help with something.”
He Zhou: "......"
He Zhou nodded expressionlessly.
"Are you and your cousin going out?" Qiu Yanzhi asked him with a smile.
Fei Sihao: "En. Xiaxia attends the nearby Haichuan University. She came to my place to get the things her mom left here. I’m taking her back to school now.”
“Ah, so she’s a junior of mine.” Qiu Yanzhi smiled. “I’m a third-year master senior of yours. The food in the cafeteria sucks, so stay awhile the next time you come over and senior’ll take you out to eat.”
“Sounds good!” Sheng Xia said, “I would definitely stay if I didn’t have classes this afternoon. I can’t wait to see what tasty things senior’ll treat me to!”
After this insincere to the max round of pleasantries…
The two pairs finally parted ways.
Only after leaving the neighbourhood with his ‘cousin’ did Fei Sihao’s heart finally settle down.
Sheng Xia glanced back over her shoulder. “That fake boyfriend of yours is so gullible.”
Fei Sihao: “Didn’t I tell you he was simple? He likes me so much that he’d believe anything I say.”
“But why are you stringing him along in the first place?”
Of course Fei Sihao couldn’t say the real reason to just anyone. He lied, “He’s the little brother of one of my friends. Apparently he has some sort of mental illness but he likes me a lot. I’ll break up with him once his condition is stable.”
Some sort of mental illness?
Likes Fei Sihao a lot?
Sheng Xia tilted her head in thought. She didn’t notice either of those things.
She even felt that the smile Qiu Yanzhi gave to Fei Sihao was nothing compared to the bright one he gave his cousin.
Regardless, Sheng Xia didn’t really care if Qiu Yanzhi was mentally ill or not. She tugged on Fei Sihao’s sleeve petulantly, “Aren’t you going to reward me for taking the trouble to play along?”
Fei Sihao looked at Sheng Xia's face. He suddenly thought that Qiu Yanzhi had never asked him for anything.
…A bouquet of roses was all it took to make him smile.
"Sihao?" Sheng Xia pulled her boyfriend’s arm.
Only then did Fei Sihao come back to his senses. He smiled gently down at his girlfriend. “How about that cosmetics set you’ve had your eye on?”
"Cousin, huh?" He Zhou scoffed coldly.
Qiu Yanzhi mumbled sheepishly as he keyed in the passcode, “...I only said that to not throw off the rest of my plans.”
Qiu Yanzhi pushed He Zhou inside before closing the door.
Then Qiu Yanzhi leaned down, cupped He Zhou's face and kissed him before coquettishly saying, “Be good. I’ll resolve this matter soon. What do you want to eat? I’ll make it for you.”
He Zhou: "I'll eat whatever you make."
Qiu Yanzhi tousled He Zhou's hair with a smile and walked away.
He Zhou’s eyes remained on Qiu Yanzhi’s back as he tidied his messed up hair.
Why did he have a sneaking, familiar suspicion that he was being cheated on?
However, one look down at the expensive coat in his lap settled He Zhou’s heart.
En. Qiu Yanzhi’s willing to spend so much money on me so he wouldn’t cheat.
It’s been many years since Qiu Yanzhi last cooked. He wasn’t confident in making any complicated dishes, so he settled on whipping up two simple dishes and a soup. After everything was done, he set the table and called into the rest of the house. “He Zhou, come and eat!”
Only then did He Zhou open the study door and push his wheelchair over.
“What’ve you been holed up in the study for?” Qiu Yanzhi asked casually.
He Zhou washed his hands and sat down at the dining table. “I've been learning about this world."
"It’s not too hard, is it?” Qiu Yanzhi handed He Zhou his chopsticks, "There’s a lot that’s different from the game world.”
He Zhou: “It’s alright. I feel like I’ve learned some of these things before. Maybe it’s because the game world was based on this one.”
Qiu Yanzhi nodded. "That's good."
He Zhou: "I've been reading about world geography these past few days."
Qiu Yanzhi was taken aback. He looked up at He Zhou.
He Zhou smiled. "Didn't you say you wanted to leave this place with me? I was looking at what places in this world would be good for us to live in.”
Qiu Yanzhi blinked. "So have you found one yet?”
“Not yet.” He Zhou frowned, seemingly a bit frustrated. “Many countries and regions all seem wonderful when I picture living there with you.”
Qiu Yanzhi stared at He Zhou. Then he blushed.
"He Zhou!" Qiu Yanzhi exclaimed.
He Zhou looked up at him and asked with a frown, "What's wrong?"
Qiu Yanzhi: "..."
Qiu Yanzhi's ears were burning.
...Does this guy not know he’s flirting with people?!
This has gone too far!
"Eat." Qiu Yanzhi looked down. "I haven't cooked in years. Try some of my cooking."
The simplest of meals.
Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, vinegar shredded potatoes and minced meat congee.
He Zhou picked up his spoon and tentatively brought some congee to his mouth.
A savoury, salty taste lingered between his lips and teeth, invading his taste buds and almost consuming his mind. Then the harsh sounds of a car’s breaks being slammed and glass breaking suddenly rang in his ears.
He Zhou jerked and tightly held his head. Amidst all the noise and clamour, there seemed to be a boy speaking.
"...Here. The meat you wanted to eat.
Immediately after, a deafeningly shrill screech drowned out everything else. He Zhou’s entire brain felt like it was being stabbed repeatedly with a knife.
The only thing he could hear was his ears ringing.
"He Zhou?" Qiu Yanzhi hurried over, "What's wrong?!"
He Zhou violently grabbed Qiu Yanzhi's arm.
Only then did the cacophony of voices in his head gradually quieten.
Until all was calm once more.
Qiu Yanzhi's soft words rang out in the dead silence. "He Zhou, what’s wrong? Are you in pain anywhere?”
He Zhou frowned and agonizingly shook his head.
"I don't know..."
Something flashed by his mind just now, but he didn’t recall what.
Qiu Yanzhi pressed on He Zhou’s temples with his slightly cool hands, giving him a gentle massage. “Does your head hurt?"
Qiu Yanzhi's fingertips were as temperate as jade. The sensation oddly enough made He Zhou calm down.
He shook his head. “Not anymore.”
Qiu Yanzhi: "What just happened?"
"I don't know. I suddenly heard all these sounds, but there’s nothing now.” He Zhou touched his head and said, “Maybe the bugs in-game were brought out too…:
Qiu Yanzhi frowned tightly.
He Zhou smiled. "Don’t worry about it. Let's just eat for now."
There was something about the taste of that minced meat congee. He Zhou had never eaten anything like it in the game.
He Zhou thought he wouldn’t like it at first, but he ended up polished off a big bowl of it.
Qiu Yanzhi smiled and asked, "Is it good?"
He Zhou nodded. "Yes."
Qiu Yanzhi’s smile grew wider. “It’s the congee I’m best at making.”
He had no money at the time, but Little Trash acted like a little puppy who wanted to eat meat.
Qiu Yanzhi kept muttering things like ‘there’s no meat, so scram if you want some so badly’ while going to the market and buying $2 worth of meat. He made a pot of minced meat congee with it.
Qiu Yanzhi was almost finished with his preparations.
He went to the study and connected his phone to the computer. He opened that encrypted eavesdropping program to see if Fei Sihao and Qiu Xicheng had been up to anything new recently. He only found out when he opened the software that Fei Sihao’s phone hasn’t been on for three months.
Only after careful recall did Qiu Yanzhi remember that Fei Sihao seemed to have switched phones.
So the eavesdropping program installed on the original phone was now useless.
Qiu Yanzhi sighed. Then he picked up his phone and called Fei Sihao.
"Sihao, are you busy?"
Fei Sihao's tone was mild. "No, what's wrong?"
"I'm done with all the school stuff.” Qiu Yanzhi paused, apparently a little embarrassed. His tone seemed somewhat hopeful. “...Can I...ask you to go to the movies with me?"
Qiu Yanzhi’s question was eager yet uncertain at the same time. The contradiction made Fei Sihao’s heart soften.
He couldn’t help but laugh. “Of course you can, I’m your boyfriend! When do you want to go?”
Qiu Yanzhi: "Is 8:00 tonight okay?”
Fei Sihao was a little surprised. "Tonight? So soon?"
"The movie I like is premiering tonight at eight.” Qiu Yanzhi paused before quietly adding, “I want to go watch it, but only if you’re there with me.”
Qiu Yanzhi hung up and expressionlessly tossed his phone on the table. He leaned back in his swivel chair.
But as soon as he looked up, he saw He Zhou at the door.
Qiu Yanzhi stood up and subconsciously explained, "I’m only going to the movies with Fei Sihao so I can install the eavesdropping software on his phone. I’ll come straight back after that.”
Even Qiu Yanzhi was shocked by his own outburst.
When did he get into the habit of explaining and reporting everything to He Zhou?
It was almost like he was afraid He Zhou would misunderstand him.
This wasn’t like him at all.
Qiu Yanzhi rubbed his nose.
Whatever. He’s the guy I like after all.
Since he was certain he liked someone for the first time, of course Qiu Yanzhi would offer his whole heart on a platter to him.
Actually, He Zhou didn’t want Qiu Yanzhi to go to the movies with Fei Sihao at all.
The moment he thought of Qiu Yanzhi holding another man's hand, looking lovingly at him and whispering ambiguous words into his ear...
He Zhou found it unbearable.
He almost wanted to lock Qiu Yanzhi away at home so that he couldn’t go anywhere and no one could see him. Especially so that he couldn’t say things like ‘I only want to watch movies with you’ to another man.
He wasn’t okay with it even if it was a lie.
Yet even though He Zhou's heart was clearly more prickly than a porcupine and pickling in its own vinegar…
Even though he clearly wanted to shamelessly say ‘I want to come along’ regardless of the consequences…
At this moment, he forcibly suppressed all of his jealousy and pretended to be the bigger person. He inclined his head slightly and casually agreed. "En. You can go."
Qiu Yanzhi found this side of He Zhou adorable. His eyes almost subconsciously took on a trace of humour. He wanted to sit down and properly talk things through with He Zhou, but he couldn’t help leaning over to give the man a peck on the nose. “I’ll be right back.”
He Zhou reached out and wrapped his arms around Qiu Yanzhi's waist, pulling the other person onto his lap. “You’re not allowed to kiss him.” He warned.
Qiu Yanzhi nodded. "Absolutely not."
He Zhou thought for a moment and added, "Holding hands is also not allowed."
"I’ll wear clothes with pockets."
Qiu Yanzhi looked at He Zhou, his eyes curved into smiling crescents.
He Zhou: "...Y-you’re also not allowed to look at him like this!”
Qiu Yanzhi wrapped his arms aroundHe Zhou's neck in return. He blinked and deliberately asked, “Like what?”
He Zhou leaned over and viciously bit Qiu Yanzhi on the lips. He coldly and cruelly stated:
“...Like the look on your face right now!”
He Zhou: I-it’s not like I’m jealous, B-Baka Qiu Yanzhi! *scratches him*
Qiu Yanzhi: *petting him soothingly* Yep. Whatever you say dude.