He Zhou suddenly had a very strong urge to go to Qiu Yanzhi and tell him everything.
But he couldn’t see anything.
He Zhou had to try very hard to see something before he finally spied a faint glimmer of light.
The buzzing in his ears didn’t stop him from hearing a crisp ‘ding’ sound.
Footsteps echoed in the empty corridor.
He Zhou had to really struggle before the dots of light became larger.
He spied a faint glimpse of light.
His vision gradually became clear.
Before him was the familiar furnishings of the corridor.
He Zhou felt somewhat elated at the sight. Yet when he tried to walk towards Qiu Yanzhi’s apartment, he discovered he had no control over anything.
He heard the footsteps come to a halt.
A hand appeared in his field of vision. It reached over, as if to press on his temples.
Then that hand went down. A Swiss Army knife was moved from the left and to the right. The blade emerged with a click, glinting coldly under the light.
A chill ran through He Zhou’s entire body.
The car accident he was involved in a few minutes ago shattered the data construct body he had brought out of the game with him.
He returned to his own body a few minutes later without any control.
The person in control now was Ye Hongyuan.
And Ye Hongyuan was heading to Qiu Yanzhi's apartment with a knife in his hand.
Ye Hongyuan glanced behind him just as he entered the apartment building.
Even the blood stain in the spot where He Zhou died had disappeared completely.
The only remaining traces were a few dark blue data lingering in the air.
The corner of Ye Hongyuan’s lips curled up. He let out a snort.
If he knew it was this easy, he would’ve done this long ago and saved himself all that wasted effort.
Ye Hongyuan admitted that hitting He Zhou just now was hasty, but he no longer had time to design a more foolproof plan to kill him.
After all, He Zhou actually wrestled control of this body while Ye Hongyuan was unconscious. He even delusionally tried contacting that technical team to destroy his source data in the game.
Running He Zhou over might have been overly reckless, but it was the simplest way to get things done.
Besides, He Zhou didn’t even leave a body after he died.
With Ye Hongyuan’s current identity, taking care of some security footage was laughably easy.
However, there was one more not so insignificant loose end left.
He twirled the knife about his fingertips again. Concealing the blade behind his back, he rang the doorbell.
Ye Hongyuan originally intended to toy with Qiu Yanzhi some more, but now that his identity was exposed, Qiu Yanzhi needed to be taken care of as soon as possible.
As long as Qiu Yanzhi died, no one else would know Ye Hongyuan’s secret.
The thought made a slight smile appear on his face.
...It’s been two minutes since the doorbell rang.
Qiu Yanzhi might be asleep.
Ye Hongyuan reached over and patiently pressed the doorbell again.
Finally, there were some hints of movement within.
Due to the medicine he drank before heading to bed, Qiu Yanzhi was very drowsy at the moment. He slipped on his slippers and headed for the door. Opening the smart doorbell interface, he sleepily asked, “Who is it?”
He Zhou's face appeared on the screen of the interface.
Then He Zhou’s gentle voice came from the speaker. “It’s me. I forgot to take the car keys.”
Qiu Yanzhi rubbed his eyes. "Why are you so forgetful too, ah. Next time just open the door and get it yourself.”
Qiu Yanzhi put a hand on the door handle as he turned to look around the corner at the wall.
...Strange. He Zhou always hangs his keys up on the wall.
But his car keys aren’t here this time. Where could they be?
Qiu Yanzhi subconsciously glanced at the smart doorbell interface screen again. Something there made him freeze.
Across from him, in front of Fei Sihao’s unit was a vase half as tall as a person. The vase was very long, narrow and shiny due to being made of metal.
It was shiny enough to cast reflections.
And from the surface of this vase, Qiu Yanzhi could see the knife twirling about the hand He Zhou kept behind his back.
Qiu Yanzhi swallowed dryly.
He slowly removed his hand from the door.
“He Zhou, did you forget my birthday, ah? Is that why you didn’t open the door yourself?” Qiu Yanzhi's voice was tinged with laughter.
"How could I forget?" The man outside the door chuckled.
Qiu Yanzhi: "Then enter the password."
He Zhou shook his head like he was helpless. He laughed softly as his hand reached for the combination lock. "How could I forget your birthday?"
Qiu Yanzhi suddenly became expressionless.
Ye Hongyuan entered Qiu Yanzhi's birthday based on what he recalled about Qiu Yanzhi’s personal information. However, the door lock beeped an alert.
Qiu Yanzhi’s ice-cold voice came from the speaker: "Ye Hongyuan, what are you doing here."
The password wasn't his birthday at all. It was 666888, something Qiu Yanzhi had told He Zhou about the first day the man moved in.
The smile on Ye Hongyuan’s face stiffened at those words.
He stared into the camera with eyes that were neither cold nor warm. A faint smile still lingered in the corners of his lips. “What are you saying? Are you still feverish? You don’t feel too well, right?”
"Your knife." Qiu Yanzhi said expressionlessly, "I can see the knife you’re holding."
Ye Hongyuan raised an eyebrow. He turned and happened to see the huge, shiny silver-coloured vase on the other side of the corridor.
"Sharp eyes you have."
Ye Hongyuan chuckled quietly.
He looked down and examined the combination lock once more. A thought that came to him made him raise an eyebrow and try his fingerprint.
The door lock opened.
Sure enough, his fingerprint was the same as the NPC He Zhou's.
A throaty chuckle echoed his pleasure.
The index finger of his left hand very gently caressed the knife once more.
Then his right hand went to push open the door.
The blade grazed his fingertips. Before he could plunge the beautiful Army knife into a warm chest, a sudden bout of dizziness overcame him for a second.
The next instant, a huge cloud of dry powder was sprayed directly on his face. His vision became blurred, and the Army knife in his hand dropped to the ground. He was coughing so hard that he doubled over and nearly choked. The heady feeling of near suffocation gripped him tightly.
Qiu Yanzhi kicked the Army knife away before discarding the dry powder fire extinguisher in his hand and reaching for the tie hanging on a nearby hanger. He coughed as he quickly tied Ye Hongyuan’s hands together.
Ye Hongyuan wanted to fight back, but the body he was occupying was weakened to begin with and the dry fire extinguisher just now was just too stimulating. He couldn’t even cough in time, much less fend off Qiu Yanzhi.
Qiu Yanzhi secured Ye Hongyuan’s hands before getting another tie to bind his ankles.
With both hands and feet secured, Ye Hongyuan ended up like a powder-covered worm on the ground.
"Where's He Zhou?" Qiu Yanzhi kicked Ye Hongyuan.
"...Cough." Ye Hongyuan's face was covered with white powder that he couldn’t even wipe off because his hands were tied. He looked up and smiled at Qiu Yanzhi, the motion sending flakes of white powder drifting to the ground. “Where do you...where do you think he is?”
Qiu Yanzhi didn't know.
He Zhou should have left Qin He’s body, but he didn’t come home.
Qiu Yanzhi hesitated. He glanced at Ye Hongyuan on the ground before going over to the window and looking out.
It was already dark by now. The streets of the neighbourhood were deserted with not a single soul in sight. Only a few lights bound together to fend off the darkness.
He Zhou wasn’t downstairs…
So where did he go?
Qiu Yanzhi was a little impatient.
Ye Hongyuan started quietly laughing from where he was coughing on the ground.
The sound was very irritating.
Qiu Yanzhi closed the window with a bang.
He turned, walked up to Ye Hongyuan, and kicked him in the waist. "Shut up!"
Ye Hongyuan grunted in pain, but the corners of his mouth curved u regardless. “I’ll tell you where He Zhou went if you beg me.”
Qiu Yanzhi lifted his foot and stepped on Ye Hongyuan’s chest. He continued to apply more force until the sole of his shoe was pressing an indent into the man’s chest.
Qiu Yanzhi leaned down to look at Ye Hongyuan, his expression grim. “Are you really in a position right now to bargain with me?”
Ye Hongyuan tilted his head to look up at him. “Come closer. I’ll tell you where He Zhou went.”
Qiu Yanzhi looked at him warily.
"He’s dead." Ye Hongyuan laughed, "I just ran him over."
Qiu Yanzhi's eyes widened before he kicked Ye Hongyuan hard. Ice cold words squeezed their way out from clenched teeth, “What did you say?!”
"I said He Zhou’s dead." Ye Hongyuan said with a smirk, "I hit him and he died. Sprawled out on the groud with blood splattered everywhere. But you know what’s strange? It wasn’t long until he turned into data and disappeared!”
“If he was human,” Ye Hongyuan paused to raise an eyebrow, “you’d say he’s...six feet under, right?”
Qiu Yanzhi wanted to curse him, hit him…tell him to stop lying.
But all he could do was tremble.
Qiu Yanzhi bent down and picked up the knife lying on the floor. He braced it against Ye Hongyuan’s neck.
“You’re going to silence me?” Ye Hongyuan asked.
Qiu Yanzhi's voice was dry and hoarse. "I killed you once. I can do it again.”
"But this is Qin He's body." Ye Hongyuan laughed off his threat. “Since He Zhou’s already dead, aren’t you afraid that Qin He will never be able to wake up if you kill me?”
He paused for a moment, his tone dripping with evil and shamelessness: “Killing a human for a NPC’s sake, one who wholeheartedly loves you at that. Qiu Yanzhi, can you really do it? If you can then do it already. Kill me in that Qin He’s body.”
"It's my body." A voice suddenly sounded in Ye Hongyuan's ears.
Ye Hongyuan stiffened for a moment.
He looked up at Qiu Yanzhi, whose eyes were rimmed with red. The slight tremor in his hands made accidentally drawing a thin red line across his neck a very real possibility.
Qiu Yanzhi’s mouth didn’t move, but Ye Hongyuan heard that voice again.
“Ye Hongyuan, the body you took over is mine. The identity you stole is mine. It’s you who should end up six feet under.”
He didn't die? And he’s recovered his memory??
Ye Hongyuan felt the buzzing in his brain intensify. The scene in front of him gradually became blurred.
--He Zhou actually hadn’t disappeared?!
"Of course I didn’t disappear.” That voice spoke again. “I’m in my own body. Why should I make way for a thief?”
Ye Hongyuan struggled to open his eyes. He fought with all his might only to find himself unable to move a muscle.
Qiu Yanzhi’s hands were trembling uncontrollably.
He tried desperately to tell himself not to believe in Ye Hongyuan’s words again. --Hadn’t the man deceived him time and time again?
But the terror in his heart slowly took over.
...What if...what Ye Hongyuan said was true?
What if...He Zhou really...disappeared?
His hands shook. The Army knife fell to the ground.
Then Qiu Yanzhi got up with gritted teeth and picked up the fire extinguisher from earlier again.
He looked at Ye Hongyuan's head.
Last time...last time He Zhou came out because he smashed a vase on Ye Hongyuan's head. If he d-did it again...will He Zhou be able to come out?
Qiu Yanzhi held the fire extinguisher with profusely sweating hands.
He took one step after another in Ye Hongyuan’s direction, intending to turn the man over.
...So that he could smash the extinguisher directly on the back of Ye Hongyuan’s head.
“Qiu Yanzhi, it’s me.”
Ye Hongyuan suddenly spoke again, his eyes bright and his lips curled up just a bit. “I was able to suppress Ye Hongyuan just now.”
Qiu Yanzhi was taken aback for only a moment. He scowled and roared, “Shut up! Don’t try to play tricks on me!”
WTF was ‘suppress’ supposed to mean. Acting already…
He hadn’t even started hitting him yet!
The person on the ground hesitated at the sight of the fire extinguisher Qiu Yanzhi was holding. “That fire extinguisher you’re holding is probably heavy enough to kill me.”
Qiu Yanzhi blinked. He looked down at the fire extinguisher in his hands.
...It did seem a bit excessive.
Qiu Yanzhi licked his lips and set the fire extinguisher aside. He replaced it with the vase from the table.
It was a much closer match to the weapon he had used last time.
Maybe this would improve the chances of getting He Zhou back.
Qiu Yanzhi grit his teeth and swung the vase down on the back of Ye
Yet his target ultimately evaded his blow.
Next, Ye Hongyuan somehow broke free of the restraints on his hand and snatched the vase from Qiu Yanzhi’s hands.
He took the person into his arms and sighed. "It's really me."
Qiu Yanzhi stared dumbly at him. "...He...He Zhou?"
He Zhou nodded his head.
Qiu Yanzhi glanced at the tie he had thrown aside after untying.
This was He Zhou. He Zhou always did have an uncanny knack for freeing himself.
Like the time he tied He Zhou to the steering wheel. Or...like the time Ye Hongyuan had He Zhou suspended atop that tall building.
"What's going on with you, ah. Ye Hongyuan just lied to me that he hit you. It almost scared me to death." Qiu Yanzhi finally breathed a sigh of relief. His eyes became even more red-rimmed than before.
He Zhou: "He did hit me with his car just now, but I didn’t die. On the contrary, I recovered my memories.”
Qiu Yanzhi froze for a moment. He looked up and asked, "Memories? What memories?"
He Zhou smiled as he stroked Qiu Yanzhi’s hair. He was about to speak when flashbacks of himself talking played in his head.
"This is Qin He's mouth!"
"Maybe it's because Qin He defaulted on his electricity bill."
"Some people seem perfect at first glance, but they’re actually the type to put off paying the electricity bill inside.”
"Qiu Yanzhi, no."
“Is it me you want to see, or Qin He?”
"You can think of me as Qin He, and I won't care."
"Aren't you with me because I look just like him?"
“People change. I saw another album he made that included all your high school ID photos, group pictures amongst other things. He may indeed like you a lot, but this is already a clear invasion of your privacy.”
“I heard his sister say that he’s been sneaking over to your school to spy on you since high school.”
"Not only that, he’s also secretly taken pictures of you.”
“See? He took pictures of you in high school. This means his perversion was already beginning to show at that point. It’s no wonder he grew up to be such a creep.”
"Yes, that’s right. He’s a shameless pervert. You can’t trust people like this. You’re lucky you weren’t together with him back then.”
He Zhou: "......"
His lips quivered, the shame of how dumb he had been acting making it hard to breathe.