During the host’s high school days, there were paulownia flowers among the one hundred flowers that Ji Tong secretly planted in his heart.
The eyes of the little robot wandered back and forth between the two types of paulownia flowers.
It was the same sea of purple flowers with swaying petals but it always felt like something was different.
Why did the host’s flowers look better?
…The robot flower farmer thought he was professional enough but now he received a 10,000 point critical hit.
Pei Qingyuan was packing his suitcase when he heard his system sigh faintly, “Host, it is summer.”
“Yes, it is summer,” he answered.
He heard Ji Tong mutter again, “It blooms in summer so why isn’t it pomegranate flowers?”
Paulownia was a spring flower.
Ji Tong couldn’t conjure up food so he was even looking forward to the only tree not planted by him was a fruit tree. This way, he could harvest fruit in the fall and maybe realize his great dream of eating in the virtual space.
Pei Qingyuan didn’t understand what he was saying but accurately predicted the meaning behind this sentence. “Do you want to eat pomegranates?”
“That isn’t it…” Ji Tong instinctively refuted it. Then he couldn’t help imagining the sweet and sour pomegranates and flexibly changed his words. “Are there pomegranates for sale now?”
“Yes,” Pei Qingyuan said. “Many fruit trees are in the harvest season. Do you want to go to the mountains to play?”
Ji Tong quickly remembered what Pei Huaishan said last year and his eyes lit up. “The mountain spring water hot pot?”
His grandfather once asked Pei Qingyuan to go to the mountains to play in the summer vacation after the college entrance examination. It was best to bring friends so it would be lively.
“Grandpa contacted me before. The timing now is right.”
Once the fruit was ripe, they wouldn’t meet people it was better not to meet.
The fragrant fruits and steaming mountain spring water hot pot had already appeared in his mind. Ji Tong immediately got up to join the team packing his luggage and couldn’t wait to say, “The next stop is Grandpa’s place!”
Pei Qingyuan had indeed planned it this way at first.
Take Ji Tong around the country, go to his grandfather’s cool and quiet mountain for a few days and finally go back home.
It was just that at that time, he thought he was just taking a friend to play during the summer vacation as Pei Huaishan said. This way, Ji Tong could have a good meal and he would let his grandfather see his new friend with his own eyes.
However, not it wasn’t just a friend.
Pei Huaishan smiled very heartily when he received these two teenagers full of a summer atmosphere at the foot of the mountain.
“Are you Qingyuan’s high school classmate? What is your name?”
“Hello, Grandpa. My name is Ji Tong.” The unfamiliar teenager answered him with some apprehension. “I’m not Brother’s classmate… I didn’t go to high school.”
Pei Huaishan was stunned at first.
He seemed to have heard the name Ji Tong a long time ago.
However, these memories disappeared into the depths of time and blurred.
Then he was quickly distracted by Ji Tong’s life story.
It turned out that these two children weren’t classmates or even friends in the conventional sense.
Pei Qingyuan accidentally met Ji Tong on the street. He had no home and didn’t know who his parents were. He was an orphan and grew up in an orphanage. He didn’t remember many things but he still remembered his name. The reason was because there used to be a big paulownia tree that grew in the orphanage that had long since disappeared.
“In fact, I guessed it,” Ji Tong said with a smile. “At that time, I was young and I didn’t want to have the same name as a tree. I felt it was too casual. This was until someone told me later that the spring paulownia flowers are very beautiful and I started to like this tree.”
His tone wasn’t sad at all but the elderly Pei Huaishan couldn’t listen to such sad stories.
Pei Qingyuan, who came back with a basin of freshly washed fruit, looked doubtfully at his grandfather who secretly turned around to wipe his tears. “What are you talking about?”
The old man and teenager shook their heads in unison. “It is nothing.”
The mountain breeze blew the shadows of the tree. In front of the window full of green shade, Ji Tong gnawed on the peaches while praising the sweetness with simple and sincere sentences. His eyes were full of satisfaction. The puppy raised by the old man was rarely not afraid of other people and walked around his feet affectionately.
Contrary to his unfortunate life experience, he seemed to have grown up in countless happiness. He was clear and bright and made people want to get close to him for no reason.
The old man couldn’t help wondering, ‘Who said that to me?’
Under the sunlight, Pei Huaishan saw Pei Qingyuan peeling a pomegranate and placing the red crystals into a white porcelain bowl.
Pei Huaishan didn’t listen to the ‘amnesiac’ Ji Tong talk more about the past. He seemed to be able to clearly see a child sitting under the tree and gazing at the sun.
Much later, on a lonely street in the middle of the night, he waited for another person who needed the sun.
Thus, Pei Huaishan guessed that this sentence should’ve been said by someone who was concentrating on peeling pomegranates.
This was the first time he had seen his former grandson treat a peer in this way.
This was clearly beyond the boundaries of ordinary friends.
But the same gender made people subconsciously want to bypass the most logical answer.
The puppy who kept spinning in circles wanted to lead Ji Tong to the mountains to see. He got up obediently, said a greeting to his elder and walked into the greenness with the puppy.
The clean house in the shade of the trees instantly fell quiet.
This was the first time that the grandfather and grandson, who were no longer related to blood, chatted like this without burden ever since Pei Qingyuan left the Pei family.
“Have you ever thought about what you are going to do in the future?”
“I want to study bionic robots,” Pei Qingyuan replied to him.
Pei Huaishan knew that Pei Qingyuan had been admitted to the major of artificial intelligence. He had also read the news that caused a lot of noise on the Internet but he didn’t believe the plots made up by netizens.
“It is something worth exploring.”
Pei Huaishan’s face showed affirmation.
He didn’t understand these new things, but he knew that this was the direction of the future. He knew that the young man in front of him had enough ability.
“You will succeed.” The old man’s voice had a sense of sadness. “What about your family?”
A family that contained affection and love.
Hearing this, the fingers that were removing the coating of the pomegranate seeds didn’t pause in the slightest.
“I have a family now.”
Pei Huaishan watched his movements and said in a deep voice, “You know what you are doing.”
This should be a question but Pei Huaishan said it with certainty.
Pei Qingyuan nodded. “I know.”
After a moment of silence, Pei Huaishan seemed to have made up his mind. The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes spread as he let out a smile that contained a sigh. “You have been stubborn since you were young.”
“I hope your stubbornness this time is also right.”
He reached out and took away the mottled peels on the table, leaving the unfinished half of a pomegranate that hadn’t been peeled in Pei Qingyuan’s hand.
In addition, a bowl of small, red precious stones.
Once dusk fell, most of the stones entered Ji Tong’s stomach.
He loved the end of this summer. He could sit lazily on a rocking chair surrounded by the mountain wind and looked at the mountains immersed in the setting sun in the distance. The furry puppy lying on the ground stuck out his tongue. There was the snow-white porcelain bowl filled with beautiful pomegranate seeds and the aroma of fruit and grass wafting in the wind.
‘It is a beautiful thing to be alive,’ he thought.
The host no longer wore silver-rimmed glasses and sat on the chair next to him. He held a book in his hand and was helping his grandfather read a small line of words that his grandfather couldn’t see. Ji Tong generously grabbed a handful of pomegranate seeds and handed them to him.
Pei Qingyuan was stunned. Then he spread out his palm and his pale fingertips were particularly striking against the bright red that slid lightly across them.
It was like a gust of wind that penetrated into the bottom of his heart.
The sweetness was slightly sour.
“It is delicious,” he said.
Ji Tong was well-versed in the way of winning favor with someone else’s things and smiled. “You’re welcome.”
A week later, under Pei Huaishan’s reluctant gaze, Pei Qingyuan and Ji Tong’s graduation trip officially ended and they headed home.
Ji Tong leaned against the rear window of the car and kept waving at his grandfather who was far away. After a long time, he whispered, “The holiday is almost over.”
It was late August and there were only around a dozen days left before school started.
Ji Tong sat down again and there was a faint apprehension in his tone. “I’m going to take the exam…”
A human who was trying to disguise himself as an AI was about to take the artificial intelligence professional entrance exam organized by a group of humans specializing in artificial intelligence with the identity of an artificial intelligence disguised as a human.
What an unprecedented matryoshka operation.
Before he finished speaking, Pei Qingyuan next to him said, “I will wait for you outside the examination room.”
It wasn’t until this moment that Pei Qingyuan found that no matter how much he believed in Ji Tong’s ability, he would still feel nervous about this important moment for the other person.
It was just like how Ji Tong was nervous for him before the college entrance examination.
This mood had nothing to do with rational reality and was only driven by pure emotion.
“I will behave well.” Ji Tong took a deep breath and tried to relax his mood. “By the way, will you let Xiao Mei be interviewed by Reporter Li?”
The fourth main mission was triggered. Ji Tong had thought about it. The host’s personality meant he definitely wasn’t willing to be exposed to the camera for a long time. The netizens still had some curiosity about the jelly bean robot so they could take this opportunity to use Xiao Mei to complete the task of earning the first pot of money in his career. For example, he could use this strange jelly bean robot for advertisement. Even if it was just traffic converted from the interview, there would be rewards from the platform.
The jelly bean robot was made by the host himself and the income related to it could be regarded as a pot of money in his career.
Pei Qingyuan’s answer was very concise. “It is up to you to decide. Xiao Mei is yours.”
Ji Tong was even more worried.
He really wanted to complete this mission quickly to extend the duration of his advanced form. This would facilitate his campus life during college. However, he was a bit reluctant to part with Xiao Mei, who only belonged to him at this moment.
People would always be selfish.
Seeing his changing expression, Pei Qingyuan took the initiative to say, “Can infringement complexion be regarded as the first pot of money?”
“What?” Ji Tong didn’t react for a while. “It should count as long as it is money you earned on your own… scholarships are excluded.”
“I registered various patents after the jelly bean robot was finished. Right now, there are a lot of similar-looking pirated copies online.”
Pei Qingyuan couldn’t predict what would happen later but using the jelly bean robot to complete the influence task had always been one of the options. Thus, he registered the patents in advance to prevent possible infringement problems in the future.
“If the compensation I can get from suing them can be used to complete the task then you only need to consider if you are willing to let others see Xiao Mei.”
Ji Tong poked the mission panel. It wasn’t refuted so the method proposed by the host should be feasible.
He rejoiced and felt that the host seemed to have become a bit different starting from this mission.
The host figured out how to complete the mission before he did.
He was immersed in the complicated mood of seeing his child growing up. Ji Tong sighed quietly and couldn’t help thinking of the netizen comments he had seen before.
Many people recalled their childhood from the video of Pei Qingyuan introducing his original intention behind the one-to-one design of the jelly bean robot.
Plush dolls, building blocks and even the small blanket. Many people had the experience of growing up with these objects.
Most of them couldn’t speak or move but they had accompanied a child through perhaps the most vulnerable time, condensed with the tears of childishness that had long dried up, gradually forgotten by their owners after their owners had grown up or always been cherished and collected.
If these silent companions were replaced by a robot that could speak, laugh and dance, would these lonely and discolored childhoods be more lively? Could those childlike words that could only be said to dolls get a warmer response?
Ji Tong thought for a long time before saying, “It would be great if every child had a Xiao Mei.”
“But they can’t be called Xiao Mei,” he added. “That is my name.”
Pei Qingyuan listened to his somewhat childish tone and a smile flashed across his face.
“Do you want this wish to come true?”
Ji Tong looked at the host blankly. This sentence was more of a casual sigh and he subconsciously felt it was impossible to achieve. He never really imagined it.
However, he saw a very stubborn light in Pei Qingyuan’s eyes, flashing with the palpitating waves when he saw Pei Qingyuan for the first time.
“If you wish—” He heard a resolute voice close to him. “I’ll make it happen.”