The moist breath of the forest seemed to remain and his consciousness was still wrapped in the dizziness of traveling across worlds. Therefore, Ji Tong lay down on the bed as soon as he returned home.
Hua Hua lightly slipped into his arms and rubbed against his listless second master.
After a while, Ji Tong sat up and the heat of his hand behind held gradually dissipated.
Looking out the window, there were still playing children blowing bubbles on the grass in the park downstairs.
Transparent and clear foam floated in the blue sky.
He took a deep breath, rubbed against Hua Hua’s face and asked Pei Qingyuan, who hadn’t yet appeared, in his heart. “Host, where are you?”
He also sent another message to ask if Fang Hao had arrived since Fang Hao returned home alone.
Fang Hao didn’t answer him right away. Perhaps he was secretly crying after getting motion sickness.
It was a pity that there was no motion sickness medicine in the fantasy world.
Fortunately, there should be even more miraculous medicine there.
The host didn’t answer him either.
There was no warning on the way back and the connection between him and the host wasn’t severed.
This meant Ji Tong wasn’t worried about what had happened. He felt that the host who ended the trip as a non-system member needed to undergo some special tips and checks so his return was slower.
There was silence in the room as he stared at the distant sky for a while. Then Ji Tong raised his energy. He had nothing to do and called Pei Qingyuan, whose location was unknown at the moment. He said in a standard, cheerful tone, “Host? Ruan Ruan? Xiao Yuan?”
Hua Hua learned from him. “Meow meow? Meow meow? Meow meow?”
Ji Tong shook his head. “The one in the middle isn’t allowed. I started it and only I can call him that.”
Cats were arrogant by nature. They were noble, coldly raised their heads and never bowed to stupid humans.
“Meow meow meow, meow meow!” I will call out Ruan Ruan!
Ji Tong grabbed his ears and scratched his belly. “Did you rebel?”
“Meow meow meow!!” Ruan Ruan, come soon!
As one person and one cat were fighting on the bed, there was finally another sound of footsteps coming from the living room and heading toward Ji Tong’s room.
Once a familiar figure appeared at the door, Hua Hua felt like he had made a great contribution to the summoning. He immediately flew at his first master while also getting rid of the clutches of the second master.
However, after he threw himself into Pei Qingyuan’s arms, he felt that someone was wrong. His stomach felt cramped and the temperature was cool.
The cat’s expression suddenly became strange and his fur stood up. Ji Tong stared at his changing expression curiously and joked casually, “Did the host fall into the time-space tunnel just now?”
It was a long time before he heard the host’s exceptionally hoarse voice. “No.”
Ji Tong felt that something was wrong.
He raised his head and met Pei Qingyuan’s gaze.
The host didn’t pretend toward others usually but his gaze toward Ji Tong was always gentle and tolerant.
These eyes were usually cold but seemed to be suppressing a heavy storm at the moment. It made people feel very strange.
Ji Tong’s heart skipped a beat as he inexplicably remembered the day he first met the host.
That day, he fell into the tornado in the host’s heart, was blown off the ground with electron particles and walked toward the boy who was watching the whole world with cold and gloomy eyes under his messy hair.
For a while, countless thoughts flashed in Ji Tong’s mind.
Could it be that something really went wrong when the host passed through the space-time passage? Did the strong turbulence cause a space-time disorder? The host in front of him was the host from over a year ago? Or did he suddenly lose his memory and no longer recognize Ji Tong?
Ji Tong panicked for a few seconds. He was about to contact the main brain to confirm the status of the host when he saw the host lift the trembling Hua Hua in one hand and place him outside the door.
The door was closed at the same time. Without the cover of the cat’s body, the unusually familiar thing in Pei Qingyuan’s hand entered his eyes instantly.
It was a diary with the large words ‘Host Domestication Log’ written on it.
Ji Tong’s eyes widened instantly.
He obviously hid it so well. How was it discovered by the host?!
His mind was blank and he wanted to disappear in place. However, he didn’t have the courage.
Seeing that the host was getting closer and closer to him, Ji Tong instinctively shrunk into the corner of the wall and whispered, “Ho… no, Ruan Ruan, listen to my explanation.”
Pei Qingyuan stopped by the bed and there was an unrecognizable emotion in his voice. “Explain what?”
It was over. The host looked terrible.
He also really didn’t know how to explain it.
Ji Tong racked his brain and started to recall what was written in this diary. However, the time span was too long and he didn’t look back often after writing. He could only be sure that everything about the host’s life was recorded in detail.
No matter whether it was the precious moment of winning a basketball game or the funny bits of holding the lid of a pot to ward off the oil that splashed when cooking for the first time.
…He probably didn’t reveal too much about himself because his life here revolved around the host. Even if he had occasionally lamented about the past, he never wrote directly about his experience as a human being.
He never took the initiative to bring up unhappy things.
While holding onto the hope that the host hadn’t read the content carefully in such a short period of time, Ji Tong tried his best to think as optimistically as possible. Perhaps the host was just angry that he secretly kept a diary to observe this behavior.
“The title is a joke. I didn’t mean to domesticate you…” He gritted his teeth and explained in a trembling voice. “It is because I read a book that said there was a little prince who domesticated a rose.”
Would comparing the host to a rose make him angrier?
“No, it can also be said that the rose domesticated the little prince because after leaving the rose, the prince missed it very much…”
Pei Qingyuan remained silent and the shadow caused by the sunlight was cast on the nervous-looking young man.
Ji Tong felt that things were becoming darker and darker and decisively changed the subject. “The name isn’t important. The content… the content actually isn’t important. It is just some handwritten accounts. Don’t take it seriously.”
He remembered writing something like looking for opportunities to trick the host into eating onions, taking photos of the dinosaur sweatshirt and suddenly showing the host when he grew up and praying daily that the host wouldn’t grow any taller…
Hopefully, the host hadn’t seen this yet.
Ji Tong closed his eyes in despair. He wanted to say something to reduce the anger of the host when he heard the host say in a low voice, “Why do you always want me to call you Big Brother?”
Ji Tong was stunned and couldn’t think of how to answer for a while. He could only quickly give reassurance. “I will never let you call me this in the future, I swear.”
In a crisis, this small hobby could be put away first. The most important thing was to appease the host.
However, the low-pressure aura that lingered around Pei Qingyuan’s body didn’t dissipate.
He answered the question he asked himself.
“Is it because you were older than me before you became a system?”
“Actually, we are about the same age—”
The words that were blurted out stopped in the air.
Ji Tong: !!!
The young man next to him froze completely. Before his mind could return, Pei Qingyuan first blocked all the excuses that might come out. “Do you want to find another reason?”
After a moment of silence, Ji Tong gave up the struggle and muttered, “The world is about to be destroyed…”
He must soon hear the crazy sirens of the mission panel waking up and the cold rebuke of the main brain.
However, in his panicked waiting, nothing happened. Daylight shone into the room and golden dust danced silently between him and the host.
“There is no destruction,” Pei Qingyuan replied to him. “At least, not at this moment.”
As he stood under the paulownia tree and opened the thick diary, long-lost storms and clouds appeared in the space closely related to his emotions.
He had just closed the diary when he heard a strange and cold mechanical voice in the emptiness, “The intermediate alarm has been triggered. Do you want to clear the abnormal element immediately?”
What abnormal element?
Was it the system that should be disguised as a calm and rational artificial intelligence dedicated to serving the host?
Pei Qingyuan’s answer was short and firm. “No.”
A few seconds later, the mechanical voice left a last sentence.
“Advanced alert triggered—”
The moment the sound disappeared, the buried mission panel reappeared in the space. The appearance had returned to normal and the screen was completely black, as if an unknown crisis was brewing.
However, this wasn’t what Pei Qingyuan was most concerned about at the moment.
He didn’t fall into a space-time tunnel but a deeper tunnel.
In the relatively wordless silence, a long time passed before Ji Tong was sure that there were no signs of dissipating for the time being. He let out a long sigh of relief, hung his head and whispered, “I’m sorry.”
The host discovered the human identity he was trying to hide.
He simply finished his unfinished words from just now. “We are the same age but the timelines of the two worlds are different. If I had to compare it, you might be a month or two older than me. So it shouldn’t really matter who calls each other an older brother…”
With these words, the words written in graceful handwriting appeared in Pei Qingyuan’s mind again.
[The host rejected the proposal that the one who loses should call the other person Brother. It is because he felt that this flying chess game was unfair and it was three against one in essence.]
[Xiao Mei is obviously an independent individual and I just helped roll the dice! In addition, Hua Hua listened to the host’s words more. I asked him not to hit my plane and he pretended not to understand.]
[Oh, forget it. Next time, I will find an opportunity to trick the host into calling me Brother.]
That night, he learned to cook for the first time. The braised pork was a bit salty, the scrambled eggs with tomatoes were a bit sweet and the stir-fried vegetables were a bit light.
After dinner, they played flying chess on the balcony. Apart from him and Ji Tong, the other two square stools were occupied by a cat and a watch.
Later, Ji Tong really kept looking for opportunities for him to call Ji Tong by ‘Big Brother.’
Pei Qingyuan suddenly said, “I called you Big Brother.”
“Yes.” Ji Tong nodded obediently. “Thank you, host.”
He still didn’t dare to look up at the host. He hugged his knees and nestled in a corner of the bed.
The winter sun shone brighter on the colorful furnishings of the house, slowly overlapping with the white room from a long time ago.
Pei Qingyuan’s eyes flashed. “Why did you name it Xiao Mei?”
This third time finally got a response.
“It is because I have a best friend called Xiao Mei.”
Ji Tong thought for a while and said seriously, “She is very cute and I miss her very much.”
If Pei Qingyuan hadn’t had that series of dreams, he might’ve subconsciously thought that Xiao Mei was a person’s name.
However, he saw Xiao Mei in his dream. It was a pure black smart speaker with a screen. There was a bean-green little robot animation, it could tell cold jokes and could make pink flowers.
All traces had a source and all preferences had a reason.
They flowed into the trivial daily life and infiltrated each other’s lives unknowingly.
Therefore, the questions that Pei Qingyuan used to confirm things were also scattered.
“Do you want to learn basketball?”
The topic jumped too fast. Ji Tong was a bit dazed and replied blankly. “I want to.”
[I also want to play basketball. I’ve never played it.]
[Playing basketball looks like fun.]
Next to this diary entry was a small, wonderful photo of the 2nd High School basketball team that was published in the newspaper. In the center was Pei Qingyuan, who was shooting a ball.
Pei Qingyuan stared at his still pale complexion. “Why didn’t you play basketball before?”
“It is because of my poor physique. I got sick often and couldn’t participate in strenuous exercise,” Ji Tong replied quite simply. “In short, I can play casually now.”
“Since when did you get sick?”
Ji Tong still spoke casually, as if talking about a cold that lasted over ten years. “I can’t remember exactly. It was when I was young. I had a genetic problem. In fact, it is nothing. I just have to pay a bit more attention to it.”
Pei Qingyuan’s fingers gradually tensed.
It turned out that his dream wasn’t complete.
Ji Tong not only spent his youth in the ward but also spent most of his time from childhood to adulthood. This was until a miracle happened and he was discharged from hospital.
The little boy who once grabbed the corner of his clothes and said he wanted to eat lamb chops, perhaps in another world, he could only stay in front of the thick glass window. Day after day, he could only look forward to the scenery outside and grow into his current appearance alone.
His best friend was a stupid AI who was given to him by an unknown person.
Pei Qingyuan guessed that it wouldn’t be his parents.
There were no relatives in the dreams, only doctors and nurses with kind smiles.
He remembered that the background created for Ji Tong in this world was an orphan growing up in an orphanage.
—”Is the name still Ji Tong?”
—“Yes, it is probably because there is a big paulownia tree in the orphanage.”
At that time, Pei Qingyuan only thought that Ji Tong had compiled the story in a very complete manner and even thought of the details.
“Your past name…” He said awkwardly. “Is it also Ji Tong?”
“Yes, I used to think that this name was too casual and not handsome enough.” Ji Tong laughed. “But now I like it because you said that paulownia flowers are beautiful.”
The spring paulownia flowers were beautiful like purple clouds.
Thus, he wished he had been born in that cloudy, purple spring.
In this way, even if his parents left him quietly, there would still be the shadow of flowers in the baby’s ignorant eyes.
The aunt in the orphanage named him after this colorful tree.
It was a time so long ago that he couldn’t remember clearly. Ji Tong only knew he was often sick and often sat under the paulownia tree blowing bubbles. He often hugged the dean and acted like a baby, saying he wanted to change to a more unique name.
This was told to him with a smile when returning to the orphanage to visit the dean after he was admitted to college and walked out of the hospital ward.
As a child, he got sick many times and his condition became more serious. The doctor suggested a more in-depth examination, only to find out that he had a rare immune system disease that would continue to worsen with age. Even ordinary things could cause fatal threats.
Then he left the orphanage with the paulownia tree and was moved to a closed, sterile ward.
The only thing that remained the same was that the strangers he met along the way were really nice.
At first, the doctors and nurses collected money for him. Later, he received various research-type treatments for free.
He grew up in the hospital and everyone took good care of him. They hoped for a miracle. A smiling nurse also gave him a smart speaker to relieve his boredom.
After the speaker called Xiao Mei became old, very old, the miracle really happened.
He walked into the college campus like an ordinary person. He could stand in front of the window of the cafeteria and worry about the day’s meals. He could sit in the piano club and press the black and white keys and secretly doze off in advanced mathematics class.
Ji Tong originally thought that this might be the happiest time in his life.
Later, he learned that happiness could have a more magnificent look.
The dean said many times that his name was quite nice and didn’t need to be changed. The young Ji Tong refused to listen and stubbornly didn’t want to share a name with a plant.
But he was very happy when he heard the indifferent high school student say that it was a very beautiful flower.
He was so happy that he immediately planted a row of paulownia trees in the consciousness space.
It was like the rose finally meeting the belated little prince.
In the autumn morning, they sat side by side under a tree with floating lights and shadows, eating a different breakfast every day. Then the high school student rode to school and the child watched him go away, ready to find a place to disappear and become a talking watch AI, watching high school life from up close.
The golden leaves fell on their shoulders at the same time.
The still and brilliant air was like this now.
Pei Qingyuan was very close to the young man who was nestled on the bed. Once he saw the relaxed smile in the young man’s eyes, he felt a dense tingling pain in his heart.
He was almost close to the whole story.
There was only one last hidden time.
The former Ji Tong said goodbye to the ward and stray cat. He walked into the bright future with a mushroom in his arms, starting a new life.
Later, he came to another world, became another person’s system and no longer had a life of his own.
The other person accepted and remembered all his eccentric hobbies.
He liked to eat all types of foods, liked to see healthy people running on the field, liked the Xiao Mei he couldn’t forget, the mushrooms that were everywhere, the cat with snow-white fur, the fictional father ‘Ji Yanxing’ who loved his son…
Everything he liked in this world carried the imprint of another time and space.
There were no exceptions.
There was only one hobby left where he hadn’t found the cause.
“Why do you like suits so much?”
Pei Qingyuan thought that this was the last question he wanted to ask.
Hearing this question, Ji Tong was stunned.
Then he soon laughed. “It is because the adults on TV always wear formal clothes. I thought that wearing a suit was like growing up.”
“My roommate in college also said that men should have a formal suit or even make a custom one. It might be more expensive but it can be worn for a long time.”
“I was about to celebrate my birthday and everyone said I could buy it for me as a coming-of-age gift. I just happened to be going to an internship interview so I made up my mind and ordered a set. Now that I think about it, the style seemed a bit old-fashioned. I had no experience.”
His brow furrowed slightly, as if he wasn’t very satisfied when remembering the outdated suit.
The words came to a standstill. Pei Qingyuan asked, “What happened later?”
“There was a little accident.” Ji Tong’s tone was very ordinary. “So I didn’t get the suit, I don’t know how old-fashioned it was and I also changed jobs.”
“In short, I love my new job.” He plucked up the courage to look at the host. “Really, I’m not lying to you.”
He really liked this job where he could accompany Pei Qingyuan in growing up.
The day Ji Tong came to this world, he once thought he was lucky enough to finally be a dazzling protagonist. As a result, this wasn’t the case. The customer service specially reminded him not to usurp the throne.
Then he thought that perhaps this was good as well.
Due to his illness, he wasn’t good-looking or strong. He was probably just miserable and had nothing but optimism. Therefore, he couldn’t be the protagonist.
Pei Qingyuan was much better than he used to be and deserved a more wonderful destiny. Stones were often used to entrust unfulfilled fantasies, Ji Tong actually liked the projection world he was in now.
Seeing the host’s life getting better and better, it seemed to comfort him who had previously died.
At the same time, Pei Qingyuan remembered the passage in the diary that he cared about the most.
On the day before his birthday this year, on October 6th, Ji Tong wrote in his diary that he finally thought about what gift to give to the host.
At that time, Ji Tong wrote down his wish.
[I also want to celebrate my birthday.]
[I haven’t had time to celebrate my 18th birthday yet.]
In the world outside the diary, the boy looked at him seriously and his eyes flashed with a bit of starlight. “You look good in a suit, the best I have ever seen. You must look better than me.”
At such bright and warm eyes, Pei Qingyuan almost couldn’t find his voice.
His system was honest. He honestly showed the good side of the story and hid the pain behind it without a trace.
Pei Qingyuan didn’t know the correct answer but he already guessed that on the wish card written by Ji Tong, the target of the wish must not be himself.
It was like this thick diary that was full of another person’s life.
The suit he didn’t wear and the tomorrow he didn’t see were entrusted to another person.
“So… are you still mad at me?”
Ji Tong, who was initially apprehensive, found that the host didn’t have such a low air pressure any longer.
He didn’t know why but the host didn’t ask too many questions about his past. This made Ji Tong sigh with relief. The past wasn’t important.
The diary slipped to the edge of the bed while the man sitting next to him lowered his eyes, emotions unable to be seen.
“I didn’t mean to lie to you. There are rules that I can’t expose my human identity…”
Before he finished speaking, he was suddenly surrounded by a warm embrace. Those strong arms wrapped tightly around his waist and Ji Tong heard the turbulent heartbeat at a loss. The rest of the world seemed to disappear and the scorching body temperature removed the cold winter.
A whisper sounded close to him.
“You succeeded in the domestication, little liar.”