Oh god this fanart is way too damn cute jadlndjsknf guys I have a ton of SD fanart
There were four beds in Zhou Sheng’s dormitory. Two were piled up with sundries — his roommates had rented a room outside. The other bed belonged to Fu Liqun, and looking at it now, you could tell that he didn’t return to the dorm last night.
Yu Hao, “There’s only the two of you in your dorm?”
Zhou Sheng had taken his shirt off the moment he entered. He had lean muscles and neat packs of abdominal muscles as he walked around shirtless in front of Yu Hao. For a homosexual, this was simply a temptation that was at the level of a celestial dish. Yu Hao had always told himself that he couldn’t fall for a straight guy again, otherwise he would eventually die a terrible death. However, he was still a little overwhelmed when he was faced with the physique of an excellent male specimen right before his eyes, so he could only try his best to not look at Zhou Sheng.
“Fu Liqun stayed out overnight.” Zhou Sheng opened his wardrobe and rummaged through his rumpled shirts; he had to sniff them one by one to find one that he could wear. Yu Hao passed him the clothes and socks that he had cleaned, then Zhou Sheng threw him a kiss and said, “Wonderful, love you~” before he turned around and entered the bathroom.
Yu Hao, “……”
Zhou Sheng’s table was in a mess. It was piled up with a few EVA figurines1, the complete set of One Piece, as well as swimsuit ladies lying on top of cup noodles2. There were a few time cards3 that had been scratched and a brand new English CET-4 book thrown to a side — only the first three questions of the book had been completed as expected.
But the sports shoes underneath the table were laid out very neatly.
Yu Hao inadvertently caught a glimpse of a golden handicraft that had a large dial on it next to the alarm clock —— within the circle was a hollowed-out solar ornamentation, and it was surrounded by four hollowed-out bird-shaped patterns that had been carved into it. It looked like a classically gorgeous gold ring.
Yu Hao had a nagging feeling that he had seen it somewhere before, so he faced the bathroom and asked, “What’s this?”
Zhou Sheng was humming as he bathed. When he heard Yu Hao, he stopped, “What is it? Bring it over and I’ll take a look.”
Yu hao didn’t ask any more questions. After Zhou Sheng finished bathing, he came out wearing only his briefs and Yu Hao almost suffered a nosebleed. He quickly said, “Put your clothes on, don’t catch a cold again.”
Zhou Sheng went to take a look at his phone with an indifferent expression on his face. After he sent a message out, Huang Ting called him back a few times. Yu Hao picked up the artifact on display. Zhou Sheng put his clothes on and casually took it from Yu Hao to place it in his pocket, “Lucky item. I carry it around with me when I go for competitions so that I can have a peace of mind, it……put on more clothes, our battle begins! Let’s go!”
Zhou Sheng patted Yu Hao’s shoulders. Yu Hao suddenly felt a lot more at ease, and all the concerns he had vanished within an instant. It was as if with a strong friend like Zhou Sheng by his side, he had nothing to fear.
Ying city turned even colder after it had snowed throughout the night, but it was as warm as spring within the flower cafe. Yu Hao wore too many layers today so the heat made him feel a bit restless. He and Shi Ni both had a cup of chocolate in their hands, while Zhou Sheng was drinking black coffee. Silence fell upon the three of them.
“For you guys.” When Shi Ni took out her Christmas gifts, her hands were trembling from nervousness.
Yu Hao accepted her gift — it was a box of exquisite chocolates. There were only four pieces inside and it looked very expensive. He casually asked, “Did you sleep well last night?”
“Un.” Shi Ni was obviously a little tired. She was wrapped up in a down jacket with her long hair tucked behind her ears and could already be considered a small adult. She looked up at him and asked, “What do I need to do?”
Yu Hao sincerely said, “It’s up to you.”
Zhou Sheng leaned back on his chair as he scrutinised Shi Ni; he hadn’t said a single word from the start. His gaze was filled with pity, sorrow and anger, but he sensibly left this up to Yu Hao to handle.
Shi Ni fell silent again. Yu Hao knows that she must be feeling very uneasy right now, and she might even be regretting her decision. After all, the one who had accompanied her by her side was Xiaoxiao, but now that all her support had disappeared within an instant, she needed to rebuild the bridge of trust between her, Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng.
Yu Hao had gone through something similar before; there was once a period in his life that made him distrust everyone around him. But now, he was beginning to understand that the most genuine and sincere relationship people can share…is one of mutual trust. The words “I trust you” have been said — this was the premise that all emotional bonds are formed upon, and it marked the beginning of someone’s journey out of their darkness as they ventured towards the sun.
The first bonds of trust form in one’s family during childhood, but Mr. Shi’s actions had completely disintegrated and shattered her trust, so she didn’t dare have faith in anyone anymore. But now, she was trying to trust them. Or rather, she could not completely extinguish the hopes she had for others hidden in the depths of her heart. When she said the words “I trust you” under Xiaoxiao’s encouragement, it triggered Yu Hao’s memory of his past self. Slowly, he began to understand the crucial element that was necessary in undoing the knot in Shi Ni’s heart.
【Do you have some time today?】
Yu Hao inadvertently glanced at his phone and saw Chen Yekai’s WeChat message.
Yu Hao could only reply him with a simple message and told him that he was outside.
“What’s Xiaoxiao’s surname?” Yu Hao locked his phone screen and suddenly changed the topic by asking a completely unrelated question.
“Her surname is Lu4.” Shi Ni said, “Why?”
Yu Hao nodded, this had confirmed his speculation. He was trying to search for the links between her dreamscape and reality, as if he was navigating through a maze.
“Has she left?” Yu Hao asked again.
“She left in the morning.” Shi Ni took her phone out for a look and said, “She has already boarded the plane.”
Yu Hao asked, “Did she leave any souvenirs for you?”
Shi Ni stretched her left hand out — she was wearing a braided bracelet around her wrist. She said, “We have one each.”
Yu Hao thought that when they enter her dream again, this bracelet could be of some use, like his laundry fork. But after Yu Hao thought about it for a bit, he felt a little uneasy. He had been trying his best to analyse Shi Ni’s dream the whole day today, and the only volatile element in it was the demonic eye above the lighthouse.
As stated in《Lord of the Rings》5, the demonic eye serves as a symbol of an omniscient being’s surveillance; which is to say, Shi Ni’s every single move was being monitored by Mr. Shi. Even though this was only how Shi Ni perceived it to be, there must be a reason why she had formed this perception over the years.
Yu Hao didn’t dare to bring this matter up bluntly, otherwise it would trigger an even greater sense of fear within Shi Ni which would allow the demonic eye in her dream to grow even stronger.
“When will your father come back?”
“The day after tomorrow.” Shi Ni said dejectedly.
Yu Hao pondered for a long while. Zhou Sheng suddenly stretched his leg out under the table and bumped him lightly. Yu Hao looked up at Zhou Sheng and knew what he was thinking—— brief and sharp pains were better than lasting, dull ones. He had to say what he needed to.
But Yu Hao suddenly changed his mind and faced Shi Ni as he asked, “What is your father most afraid of?”
“Ah?” Shi Ni looked surprised.
She had always been waiting for Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng to bring her to the police station, as if she was being taken there for an injection. The future terrified her, and she felt as if she was waiting for a sentence.
Yet Yu Hao never mentioned it, so Shi Ni’s tense nerves had begun to relax without her notice.
“Think about it, treat him as a big boss.” Yu Hao frowned and said, “What kind of weakness does he have that would make him fear you?”
But what Yu Hao was thinking about was actually the demonic eye that floated above the lighthouse in her dreamscape. When he enters the dreamscape again tonight, he would have to engage in their final battle with the demonic eye. He connected this to the last time when he had used a laundry fork to ruthlessly get rid of his dark self, and even though he and General were the main forces this time, Shi Ni’s help may play a very important role in their impending fight.
“Weakness?” Shi Ni seemed like she had never thought of that question before.
Zhou Sheng finally spoke, “For example, who he’s most afraid of, or what he’s most afraid of? Does he have some secret that he doesn’t want other people to know about? Is he involved in any bribery cases? How much money is he hiding under his bed?”
Shi Ni, “???”
Yu Hao said, “It’s impossible for her to know those kinds of things!”
Shi Ni said, “He’s afraid of fire.”
“O——” Yu Hao said, “Why? Have you seen how he looks like when he sees fire?”
Shi Ni tried to recall a time like that and Yu Hao felt like they had caught onto something, but he didn’t know if it would be of any use. After all, the demonic eye symbolises the impression Shi Ni has of Mr. Shi in her mind. But if they could enter Mr. Shi’s dreamscape, it might be a different matter altogether.
Shi Ni once lit up a scented candle at home before, which brought upon her a deluge of rebuke from a Mr. Shi who had looked like a rabid dog. When Yu Hao heard that, he thought that his idea was pretty good, so he asked Shi Ni to continue recalling such incidents. Shi Ni seemed to have completely overcome her fear as she began to talk more and more. After much deliberation, Yu Hao felt that the biggest obstacle Shi Ni had to face was the fear of being unable to resist her father. As long as she could overcome that fear, everything else would naturally move along smoothly.
He guided Shi Ni patiently, and had even asked her to imagine the scene of Mr. Shi being brought to justice, and to imagine herself pointing a torch at Mr. Shi and how Mr. Shi would panic when he sees her fire. Then, he asked her to imagine how she would start her new life in a brand new place.
“How would you like to live your life in the future?” Zhou Sheng held a cigarette in his hand as he spun it around like a pencil.
“I never want to see him again.” Shi Ni stated, “And I don’t want to see my mum either.”
“Will your uncle and aunt be willing to take care of you?” Yu Hao asked, “You’re only 13 this year, so you’ll need a new guardian……”
“I’ll be fourteen soon.” Shi Ni said, “My birthday’s in January.”
“Just two more years and you’ll be of legal age.” Yu Hao said.
“It’s too early to talk about that.” Zhou Sheng said.
Yu Hao answered, “It’s not too early, I could already take care of my grandma when I was in my first year of high school. Nini, you’re good at your studies, so you’ll be able to go abroad after you graduate from junior high. Everything’s going to be alright.”
Shi Ni nodded her head. Yu Hao had taught her before, so he was very clear about her results; she was doing well in all her subjects, though she had some room for improvement when it came to English. He had tutored her in English so that she would be able to go abroad for her senior high school education after she graduates from junior high.
Zhou Sheng sat up straight and bent over slightly, then seriously said to Shi Ni, “Then, let’s come up with a plan ba.”
Yu Hao thought that since they were getting straight to the point, he would hand the conversation over to Zhou Sheng. He has always been very radical, but this radicalism of his made him feel very reliable.
“Should I notify my officer friend?” Zhou Sheng said.
Shi Ni nodded, then became a little nervous again. Yu Hao said, “We will stay by your side at all times until this whole matter is over.”
Zhou Sheng called Huang Ting. Huang Ting had been waiting in this shopping mall a long time ago, so he arrived in just five minutes. Yu Hao had actually been slightly worried about whether the appearance of an officer in a cafe for a discussion would attract any attention, but reality dispelled his concerns — Huang Ting was dressed in informal wear.
Shi Ni had seen him several times before. This officer felt like a reliable person, and he seemed to be able to see right through her heart. The moment Huang Ting sat down, he said, “So? Has the little girl thought it through carefully?”
Shi Ni finally revealed everything. Yu Hao thought that she would cry and had already prepared tissues beforehand, but he didn’t expect Shi Ni to be so extraordinarily strong. Before they began, Huang Ting took out a recording pen and looked at Shi Ni with an inquiring eye. Shi Ni nodded. There were much fewer people in the flower cafe now, and their environment slowly began to quieten down. When Shi Ni was narrating a brief overview of what she had experienced, there were several times when Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng felt like they couldn’t bear to listen any further.
At the very end, after Shi Ni’s narration ended, Huang Ting said, “Decide for yourself when you want us to bring you to the hospital for an examination.”
Shi Ni said, “Let’s go now ba.”
Everything that Yu Hao was worried about didn’t happen. Huang Ting contacted a nearby hospital and drove Shi Ni over there for the check-up; he was no stranger to the hospital as he navigated through the place. Dusk had fallen without anyone’s notice. A gentle female doctor spoke softly to Shi Ni for a bit before bringing her in for an examination, while Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng waited for her outside.
The examination took a very long time. Yu Hao asked softly, “What should we do tonight?”
“Listen to Huang Ting.” Zhou Sheng said, “Let him make the arrangements.” Then he yawned and said, “The moment winter rolls around I just want to sleep.”
Zhou Sheng and Yu Hao were thoroughly exhausted for the day. Their nerves had always been stretched taut, especially when they were conversing with Shi Ni. They were fully focused on observing her emotions the whole time and everything they said were carefully worded, so they felt like they had just finished fighting a war.
Zhou Sheng said, “Take note of what’s going on inside, I’ll sleep for a bit.” And as he spoke, he lied down on the long bench and used Yu Hao’s thigh as a pillow. Yu Hao covered him with a jacket before he turned around and looked inside.
When Zhou Sheng fell asleep, it was as if someone had said ‘one, two, three’ and the aura that surrounded his body vanished without a trace in an instant. The moment he closed his eyes, Zhou Sheng suddenly looked like a slightly childish big guy, and the shallow scar on his eyebrow lightened up a lot too.
Yu Hao had woken up once last night before dreaming through the rest of the night, so he was extremely sleepy right now as well. However, he had to force himself to endure it and wait for Shi Ni to come out. His sleepiness assaulted him constantly, which caused his upper and lower eyelids to engage in a never ending battle. Thus, his head ended up drooping while he maintained his sitting posture. He had placed one hand on Zhou Sheng’s chest and was about to fall asleep when he suddenly received a short message from Chen Yekai.
【Not in your dorm?】
Yu Hao subconsciously looked at the time. It was only 6pm, so there shouldn’t be a dormitory inspection now right? He quickly replied Chen Yekai and told him that he had just finished studying with Zhou Sheng.
【It’s Christmas, so I wanted to treat you to dinner tonight. And take the chance to ask you about some other things as well.】
Shi Ni came out at this moment. Yu Hao quickly turned around and saw Shi Ni frowning, “My nanny told my Dad that I haven’t been home for the entire day. What should I do?”
Yu Hao took Shi Ni’s phone and pondered for a moment, he wasn’t very good at lying. Zhou Sheng woke up and said, “I’ll send you a picture. You just need to say that you’re buying him a New Year gift at the commercial street across the road, then ask him to choose one.”
Huang Ting took the examination report and walked out. He looked at the three of them before he said, “Let’s go, we’ll go back together to file the case and record your testimonies.”
Yu Hao knew that this examination report would be very useful. Huang Ting looked for a female officer, and after the three of them had finished recording their testimonies, he got her to deal with it quickly as it was an urgent case. They needed to have a meeting regarding this at night.
“Where will she stay tonight?” Zhou Sheng said.
“Home.” Huang Ting said, “Give him a call using your house phone and tell him that you’re back.”
“But I……” Shi Ni was a bit hesitant before she asked, “Can you stay over at my house tonight?”
Yu Hao looked at Huang Ting to seek his opinion. Huang Ting said, “We can’t interfere in that, that’s your own private arrangement.”
“I’ll accompany you ba.” Yu Hao immediately said, “I’ll sleep in your living room tonight.”
Huang Ting said, “Nini, stay at home and don’t go anywhere. Lock the door. I’ll check his flight, and if everything goes well, I’ll notify your uncle and aunt to come down here tomorrow. On the day after tomorrow, we’ll keep watch at the airport in the morning; after he gets off the plane, we’ll bring him back to the station first. From that moment onward, you will be safe.”
When they heard this, all three of them heaved a sigh of relief.
Zhou Sheng said, “I’ll go to the airport the day after tomorrow too.”
Huang Ting thought for a bit. He didn’t promise anything as he said, “We’ll see.”
“Let’s finish eating this box of chocolates ba.” Yu Hao said to Shi Ni.
Shi Ni took one piece, Zhou Sheng took one piece, and Yu Hao took one piece. Huang Ting naturally knew what Yu Hao meant, but he could only wave his hand as he said, “This is my duty, keep it. For these few days, all of you must keep your phones turned on at all times so that we can keep in touch whenever necessary.”
1. From the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion↩
2. Wtf I didn’t know these existed:
3. A game time card (GTC,also called game time code) generally refers to any one-time use code that allows you subscription time to a certain game↩
4. Lu = deer↩
5. The Eye of Sauron/All-seeing eye in LOTR. I’ve never watched the series so I’m not very sure about its specifics but from what I’ve gathered from my best friend (Google), it symbolises the ability of Sauron to know everything/has knowledge of everything/can invade the minds of others↩
T/N: SD chaps take so much time and brain juice to edit………….. Adjnflakjsdnf This chap might not read as well cause my brain isn’t working very well…… I’ll try to find some time to re-edit it next time.
Bolded words are originally English in the raws.