As He Zhou sat back in the car, the secretary turned to him and asked, "President He, are you going back to the Qingju Road villa or to the old mansion?"
"Qingju Road villa." He Zhou said.
This ‘old mansion’ was probably the He family residence where all of Qin He’s family members were. He Zhou felt that he would inevitably be exposed if he went there.
Maybe it was because of Translator Qiu, but the secretary felt like President He was much more personable today. Not like the past where he always gave people the creeps.
He glanced at He Zhou’s calm expression through the rearview mirror. He couldn’t help but say, “Sir, you haven’t gone back to the main mansion once since you were discharged. The old master misses you very much. Why don’t you go back to visit him when you have the time…”
Discharged...from the hospital?
He Zhou frowned slightly.
No wonder he felt that this body was weakened.
The secretary thought He Zhou’s change in expression was because he was upset at what he had said. He quickly decided to keep his mouth shut.
After He Zhou arrived at the villa, he used his fingerprint to unlock the door.
The lights automatically turned on as soon as he stepped inside, illuminating this big yet empty house.
Seriously, there was no one else here.
Only the exquisite dinner on the dining table and the spotless floor showed that servants came here at regular intervals.
He Zhou didn't touch the food, and he didn't bother to bathe Qin He's body either. He hadn’t slept a wink last night so he was currently exhausted. All he wanted to do was find a room, sleep, and go find Qiu Yanzhi tomorrow after vacating Qin He’s body.
He Zhou chose a room at random. Unfortunately, the door handle was locked when he tried it.
He Zhou frowned and opened another door, which led to a gym.
The gym was brimming with equipment. Surprisingly, there was even a wheelchair and some crutches here.
He Zhou didn’t pay them much mind as he shut the door.
Finally, after checking out a number of rooms, He Zhou found the bedroom.
His legs were trembling from how much walking he had done today. He changed into pajamas and laid down on the bed.
He didn’t want to admit it, but this body was the exact same as his despite it belonging to Qin He.
--Even the small brown mole on his lower back was the same.
His model seemed to be an exact, true-to-life replica of the original.
The thought made a corner of He Zhou’s lips quirk up.
He laid back down on the bed and was about to turn off the lights when he suddenly noticed there was something wedged under his head.
He Zhou frowned. He reached up to retrieve what ended up being a photo album from beneath the pillow.
When He Zhou opened the album, he froze.
Inside was an enlarged ID photo of a teenager wearing an immaculately white school uniform. The sole layer of the summer uniform was so thin and form-fitting that you could almost see the outlines of his bones. This, combined with his glowing white skin, made the student seem frail and small.
The teen’s hair was on the long side, almost covering his eyebrows. Peeking out through the broken bangs were a pair of sharp, cold eyes.
His mouth was pursed tightly, his gaze devoid of joy.
He Zhou was almost dumbstruck. It took him a moment to realize this was Qiu Yanzhi as a child.
He continued to flip through the album.
The next page was still of little Qiu Yanzhi. He was slumped across his desk taking a nap during the lunch break. There were lively students horsing around in the background, but Qiu Yanzhi just silently laid his head on his arms. There was a frown on his face, like the dream he was having was particularly tiresome. He was incongruent in every way with the classroom’s atmosphere. From head to toe, he radiated a pale, arctic-cold chill. Even the golden sunlight coming from the window seemed unable to warm him up.
The next photo was in the same place, but the person slumped across the table had opened his eyes. The photographer seemed to have suffered a fright and jolted when he took this photo, for it was blurry to the point of having afterimages. Even so, the look of dazed confusion in the newly awoken subject’s eyes was clear as day.
He didn’t look as cold as he did in the first two photos.
He Zhou couldn't help but smile as he touched Qiu Yanzhi’s still sleepy eyes. He couldn’t help but turn over another page.
His smile soon faltered.
The fourth photo was a group photo taken onstage, seemingly of a production of ‘Snow White’. In his princess gown, Qin He stood in the center like he should. However, the prince and the queen were nowhere to be seen. Instead, Qin He had an arm slung across the apple costume wearing Qiu Yanzhi’s shoulders. There was a bright and wide smile on his face.
Qiu Yanzhi was frowning like he was mad, but his reddened ears betrayed his true feelings. On his face was a big, round set of clearly visible teeth marks.
Qin He was in almost all of the next few photos. The backgrounds changed from school, to the streets, and then a cramped, crowded ‘home’.
Qiu Yanzhi’s hair was short now, revealing his delicate and pretty eyebrows. A smile gradually appeared on his face.
Especially when he was taking a photo with Qin He. The two of them were basically in a competition to see who could smile the brightest.
The few photos that Qin He wasn’t in were clearly taken by him.
Qiu Yanzhi faced the sun with his hands outstretched like he was giving something. With a smile on his face, he called out Qin He’s name.
He Zhou looked at Qiu Yanzhi's smile in the photo before closing the album.
He turned off the light and shut his eyes, but he could still see the picture Qiu Yanzhi kept inside his phone case. The one of Qin He.
He Zhou was gritting his teeth so hard it hurt.
He tossed and turned to no avail. In the end, he had to take out his phone and log in to his account to send Qiu Yanzhi a message: "Are you asleep?"
The other party’s reply came almost instantaneously: “Not yet. I just got out of the shower so I’m drying my hair.”
He Zhou sat up from the bed with a start.
He started a video call.
His hand reached for the light switch, before he remembered that even if he did, all Qiu Yanzhi would see was Qin He’s face.
The thought made him retract his hand.
Qiu Yanzhi accepted the video call. Soon, he appeared on He Zhou’s phone screen.
Qiu Yanzhi was in his pajamas with a towel in hand. Apparently he really was in the middle of drying his hair.
Qiu Yanzhi was taken aback by what his screen was showing. “He Zhou, why’s it so dark on your end?”
He Zhou blinked innocently. "The power went out."
"The power went out?" Qiu Yanzhi frowned. The power hasn’t gone out for years.
He Zhou nodded, feeling a bit guilty. "Maybe it's because Qin He defaulted on his electricity bill."
"Behind on his electricity bill? No way, right…?"
He Zhou coughed lightly. "Some people seem perfect at first glance, but they’re actually the type to put off paying the electricity bill inside.”
Qiu Yanzhi: ...
He had to be hallucinating, right? Why else would he think the moral and kind Mr. He was talking bad about someone behind their back?
Qiu Yanzhi: "Are you having trouble because the power’s out?”
He Zhou: “It’s fine. I already got ready for bed before it happened. I’ll be fine even if I don't turn on the lights."
At that very moment, the bedroom lights suddenly turned on. The entire room became very bright in an instant.
The smart speaker in the corner eagerly spoke up: “Master, Master! I've turned on the lights for you!"
It seemed like the smart furniture reacted to something he just said, namely ‘turn on the lights’.
He Zhou: "......"
Qiu Yanzhi: "...Ahem. The game world’s set three years later than this world, with more advanced technology to boot. You probably just...didn’t find the right switch earlier.”
"...En." He Zhou said defeatedly.
He Zhou looked up at Qiu Yanzhi and saw that he wasn’t drying his hair anymore. Droplets of water fell from his hair onto his neck before slowly disappearing into his collar, which was littered with wet spots.
He Zhou paused before saying, “Qiu Yanzhi, dry your hair properly or else you’ll catch a cold.”
Qiu Yanzhi propped his phone up before continuing to dry his hair with a dry towel.
When He Zhou thought his hair was dry enough, he reminded Qiu Yanzhi, “Go get a hair dryer to finish off.”
Qiu Yanzhi wasn’t feeling up to it. He felt his hair and said, “It’s almost dry anyways. I don’t think a hair dryer is necessary.”
He Zhou: "No. Go blow dry your hair."
Qiu Yanzhi sighed. He reluctantly stood up and brought the hair dryer over to dry his hair under He Zhou’s supervision. When he put down the hair dryer and burrowed under the covers, he teased He Zhou over the phone, “What, you video called me this late at night just to supervise me drying my hair?”
"No." He Zhou paused. "I called to hear you say good night.”
Qiu Yanzhi blinked. His dark irises stared into He Zhou. "Good night."
He Zhou was silent for a moment. "...That’s all?"
Qiu Yanzhi didn’t get it. “Yeah? What else is there?”
He Zhou: "...You know, that."
He Zhou's ears were burning. "...The one on TV."
Qiu Yanzhi tilted his head. "Which one on TV?"
He Zhou opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but he gave up in the end. “...Forget it."
"He Zhou." Qiu Yanzhi suddenly called his name.
He Zhou looked up, only to see Qiu Yanzhi close his eyes and kiss the screen quickly.
There was even a crisp ‘muah’ echoing through the air.
He Zhou's face immediately flushed bright red.
"Good night." Qiu Yanzhi whispered, his eyes glittering madly.
After he hung up, He Zhou wiped all traces of the call from the phone before turning off the lights and getting back in bed.
He laid there a while, slowly pulling up the blanket to cover his tomato-red face.
Then he turned.
Fell out of bed.
As he climbed back up, He Zhou thought rather uncharitably:
Qin He, even if you are Qiu Yanzhi’s childhood friend, even if he returns your feelings, even if you put his pictures beneath your pillow, even if Qiu Yanzhi puts your picture in his phone case, even if Qiu Yanzhi still likes you now…
But Qiu Yanzhi hit you with a vase for my sake! And right now, Qiu Yanzhi’s only kissing me over video calls!
Even though Qiu Yanzhi doesn’t like me, I’m the one he’s choosing right now!