Among the crowd looking up and enjoying the fireworks, Fang Hao couldn’t stop looking around and was the first to discover the new year’s gift that Ji Tong received.
He curiously reached out to poke the crystal ball. “Where did this come from? Was it bought in the square?”
Ji Tong dodged with agility and said proudly, “The host gave it to me.”
The moment he moved, snow floated in the transparent world again and there was a type of crystal clear beauty.
Fang Hao called him a stingy ghost before muttering, “It is so beautiful when it is snowing. This child looks like you. It is a commemoration of the day we built the snowman? But why am I not here? Obviously, I was also there.”
“Because I am more photogenic.”
Ji Tong rushed to say, “Oh, childish!”
“Why are you robbing me of your lines?”
Fu Yinyin was holding the cat while staring at the night sky. She heard their voices and glanced at them.
She was first amused by the conversation between the two of them. A smile appeared in her eyes before being covered up by surprise.
The crystal ball shining under the fireworks was like a gorgeous and mysterious dream.
Was this a gift from Ji Tong’s host?
It was an unusual gift for AI systems.
At Ji Tong’s excited reaction, Pei Qingyuan seemed relieved. He was very satisfied with the effect of this gift and quietly listened to Ji Tong and Fang Hao bickering.
Fu Yinyin thoughtfully retracted her gaze.
The moment the last fireworks in the sky ended, the crowd started to exit in an orderly manner. They rushed home to watch the gala at midnight.
On the way back, Ji Tong held the crystal ball while the camera was hung around Pei Qingyuan’s neck.
Before leaving the central square, he offered to take photos of Ji Tong and the others.
Ji Tong was always taking videos of others but he rarely appeared in them.
During the most special Spring Festival that Pei Qingyuan had experienced so far, he personally took an equally special photo.
Under the sky full of fireworks, the smiling Fu Yinyin held a cat in her arms. Fang Hao had a cool face while Ji Tong sat on the fence with a smile. Both of them were comparing scissor hands and there was the sparkling river behind them.
They looked like a family of three.
Fu Yinyin looked like an elegant and intellectual young mother while Fang Hao’s personality was more like a child than Ji Tong’s. He didn’t seem like a father.
…Why did he start to imagine it seriously?
Pei Qingyuan tried to banish this strange thought from his mind and concentrated on washing vegetables in the kitchen.
He bought a lot of vegetables at the market during the day. Most of which were prepared for the late-night meal in the evening and many of the dishes were Ji Tong’s favorites.
However, Ji Tong didn’t seem to have any dishes that he didn’t like to eat.
The sound of the lively gala on the TV in the living room reached the kitchen. Ji Tong and Hua Hua were lying on the table and supporting their cheeks. They watched the hot bubbles gradually rising from the hot pot.
The crystal ball in Ji Tong’s hand was lit up and the fine snow flew tirelessly, illuminating the twinkling light in his eyes.
Fang Hao, who had an adult shell, was assigned a task. He was peeling quail eggs with straight eyes and had already peeled them so there seemed to be moon craters.
Fu Yinyin was laying out melon seeds and fruit snacks next to him. She couldn’t stand it and reached out to save the poor quail eggs. She cleanly peeled them and sent them to the kitchen.
Pei Qingyuan took it and simply cleaned it. He skillfully poured it into the casserole pot where the braised pork was being stewed.
Fu Yinyin leaned against the kitchen door and looked at it for a while. She said sincerely, “It is very fragrant. Your craftsmanship is good and today’s dinner is also delicious.”
Pei Qingyuan replied, “Thank you.”
She remembered the photo Ji Tong sent in the group chat a few months ago when the host cooked for the first time. She couldn’t help saying, “I remember Xiao Tong saying that you are very talented when cooking for the first time.”
Pei Qingyuan heard her words and honestly criticized himself. “The braised pork at that time was too salty, the scrambled eggs with tomatoes were too sweet, the fried vegetables were too light and the taste was problematic. Only the appearance was okay.”
He remembered every detail of that meal clearly.
There was also Ji Tong’s appearance of not caring about the salty taste and eating happily.
Fu Yinyin looked at the high school student who was still calm and polite just now. Suddenly, he seemed a lot more real.
Even his sentences became longer.
She thought about it and suddenly got straight to the point, “What do you think about the systems?”
Pei Qingyuan was a bit surprised.
He originally wanted to find an opportunity to ask Fu Yinyin more about systems. He hadn’t expected her to take the initiative to mention it.
Fu Yinyin saw his surprised gaze and said bluntly, “I saw that you gave Xiao Tong a gift. It is very beautiful but for us systems, such a gift is rare.”
Ji Tong’s host learned to cook and Fang Hao’s host refined the sword scabbard. These things could be said to be closely related to the hosts themselves. Even if there was no system, there was still a chance that the host would do it.
If the host got along well with the system then following their taste in food or the aesthetics of the color of the scabbard was natural. People were inherently easily influenced by people or things close to them.
But the snowflake crystal ball was different. It had nothing to do with the host itself and was a gift in the same real sense. It was purely to make the recipient happy.
Pei Qingyuan seemed to understand what she meant. He paused and replied cautiously, “I regard the system as a friend, just like systems can also be friends with each other.”
From the day he met Ji Tong, he didn’t regard the other person as a cold tool, an artificial intelligence who only helped him.
After seeing Ji Tong’s daily relationship with these system friends, Pei Qingyuan felt even more that Ji Tong was no different from ordinary humans apart from the complex and beautiful mechanical heart that was like the ocean.
The mechanical heart might mean some type of chasm and boundary that couldn’t be crossed.
Fu Yinyin laughed when she heard this clever answer.
She originally wanted to say a few words to remind him. However, she was afraid it would be counterproductive so she didn’t say it.
She was about to turn around and leave when she heard Pei Qingyuan’s serious voice again.
“Ji Tong is my most important friend.” He asked, “To what extent is the mission complete? Will the system leave the world after the mission is completely over? How can they stay?”
He thought that Ji Tong should like the current world.
Fu Yinyin was stunned.
The high school student wasn’t asking what a system would look like by growing up through the system and missions, but when the missions would end and what would happen to the system when it ended.
She was silent for a long time. Finally, she answered with only one sentence.
“Wait until you are strong enough.”
Was this the answer to the first question or was it the answer to all questions?
Pei Qingyuan wanted to say something more, but Fu Yinyin had already returned to the living room. She quickly grabbed Fang Hao’s ears and said angrily, “I didn’t see you for five minutes and you ruined the fruit plate I worked so hard to arrange.”
Fang Hao argued, “Sister Yinyin, don’t you think this shape is very creative?”
“Do you mean the large piece of peanuts dropped on the table or the seeds scattered like ants among the peanuts?”
“Yes, yes. Sister Yinyin, you are so smart! This is an imitation of a dish I saw on the Internet, ant steamed eggs!”
“……” Fu Yinyin couldn’t bear it any longer and knocked on his head. “Shut up!”
Ji Tong was watching the liveliness from the side and said in a mocking voice. “I said that you would be beaten.”
Fu Yuyin treated him equally and pinched the child’s face. “Who told you not to stop him?”
Ji Tong reflexively looked at the kitchen. He just happened to see Pei Qingyuan walking to the kitchen door. He immediately asked for help incoherently, “Master Shu, when is the hot pot?”
Pei Qingyuan rationally retreated to the kitchen and away from this family dispute. “Right away.”
The sumptuous late-night meal was a table of Mandarin duck hot pot. There was also Ji Tong’s favorite braised pork and spicy crayfish.
In front of the steaming hot pot, a joyful party was being aired on the TV.
Fang Hao had just been scolded and he obediently ate crayfish. Then he praised it, “Crayfish is so delicious. I will also learn to make crayfish after I go back.”
“There doesn’t seem to be any crayfish in ancient times,” Ji Tong corrected. “You have to start with introducing it and breeding.”
“Ah, no wonder I haven’t seen it in so long.” Fang Hao suddenly had a thought. “If I succeed in breeding and making spicy crayfish, do you think those old monsters who abstain from eating will be able to bear continuing to not eat when they smell this fragrance?”
Ji Tong imagined how the style of the Long Aotian fantasy world would change into a gourmet world and encouraged him maliciously, “You can try it. Remember to show me the video when the time comes.”
Now Pei Qingyuan didn’t shake at all when hearing this strange conversation that spanned ancient and modern times. He couldn’t even imagine it.
He used a colander to take out the beef and placed it into Ji Tong’s bowl. His actions were natural.
Fu Yinyin listened to the two children’s nonsense. Then she looked at the couplets on the kitchen door and ridiculed it. “I didn’t notice it until now. These couplets are really interesting. Braised prawns in oil, sweet and sour pork ribs…”
The moment she read about getting 1st place in the examination, the calm colander in Pei Qingyuan’s hand finally trembled.
“This handwriting is good. Who wrote it?”
Ji Tong answered at the speed of light. “The host wrote it!”
Pei Qingyuan pretended to be dead but failed. He had to pretend to look at the TV screen calmly. “The sketch has begun.”
“Host, are you embarrassed? Your words are so beautiful. Why are you embarrassed—”
Ji Tong was still chatting in his ears. Pei Qingyuan thought for a while before pinching his face like Fu Yinyin. “Watch TV.”
Ji Tong instantly changed his mind. His eyes shone brightly as he said, “Crayfish.”
Pei Qingyuan resigned himself to peeling the crayfish.
The late-night meal was eaten over a long time. The advantage of hot pot was that when they were tired, they could turn off the fire and rest. Then they could eat a few bites when they were tired. The room was filled with a lazy New Year’s atmosphere.
Fu Yinyin finished writing the blessing characters left for her on the coffee table. Her handwriting revealed a proud spirit in addition to her beauty. After sticking it, the four of them had completely different handwriting and made up a family portrait. However, there was a strange sense of harmony.
Midnight was approaching and the sound of fireworks and firecrackers was heard intermittently outside the house. Pei Qingyuan went to a slightly quieter room to call his grandfather and give a New Year’s blessing. The three systems and a cat stood in a row on the balcony to watch the scenery.
In the open space not far downstairs, several people were moving heavy fireworks. Some planned to light them at midnight while others were ready to set them off now.
Fu Yinyin sighed. “I haven’t seen people setting off fireworks in the community for a long time. This is a good projection world.”
Once the fuse was lit, the adults led the children to the side. The children in beanies and gloves covered their ears and jumped excitedly after seeing the fireworks take off.
Ji Tong sighed with envy. “I also want to light it.”
“Meow meow meow meow!”
“I’ll buy it tomorrow and we’ll do it together.” Fu Yinyin felt the same way. “After watching the fireworks show all night, I still don’t feel like I have seen enough.”
Fang Hao strictly reminded them of the original schedule, “Tomorrow, we will go to the amusement park to ride the roller coaster and ride it three times.”
Fu Yinyin didn’t bother to criticize him for being childish. “When we go to the mall at night, I want to buy clothes for Xiao Tong.”
She had been a system for a long time but it was the first time she had felt such a warm and happy New Year atmosphere.
After all, the system still had to stay by the side of their respective hosts most of the time and couldn’t run around. This time, their hosts were in retreat or escaped by faking death. Ji Tong happened to be here for the new year and his host was willing to let other systems come over.
She didn’t know the next time they could come to play.”
Ji Tong was curious. “Buy me clothes? Why?”
“It is because you are about to grow up,” Fu Yinyin said with a smile. “Growing up is something to celebrate so buy new clothes.”
In particular, when he grew up to his original appearance.
Fu Yinyin still remembered the photo that Ji Tong once sent where he was wearing very light colors.
She felt that Ji Tong was more suitable for bright colors.
Ji Tong’s eyes lit up. “Are you going to buy me a black shirt?”
“Yes, black shirts and other ones you like. In any case, you can wear them for a long time in the future.” Fu Yinyin’s tone was soft. “Let’s go to the mall tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Sister Yinyin!” Ji Tong said cheerfully. “This is my favorite Spring Festival.”
Fu Yinyin patted his soft head. “Me too.”
Before Pei Qingyuan could finish making the New Year’s greeting call and walk out of the room, she gently reminded him, “But remember, keep the secrets of the system and don’t expose your identity as a human being.”
Ji Tong nodded solemnly. “I will fight hard for the year end bonus.”
Looking at his still childish face, Fu Yinyin seemed to see the thin young man in the photo smiling brightly at the camera, making people instinctively want to get closer.
On that day, how would Ji Tong’s host react?
Would the answer still be friends?
With a certain keen intuition, she looked at the night sky that was covered with smoke.
Colorful fireworks bloomed again.