Reality is too different from the world in-game.
The sense of touch in real life was something that the game could not fully emulate.
Despite their many interactions in-game, this was the first time Ye Ci had any physical contact with Fleeting Time in real life.
Unlike holding hands in the game, this contact sent her heart racing. The heart that had laid dormant within her chest was thumping hard. She visibly gulped. There seemed to be a ringing in her ears.
Thump thump thump thump thump..
Ye Ci tried her best to calm her nerves. She stole a glance at Yi Qingchen when he handed her a plate. The man was calm, as if nothing had happened.
Perhaps I’m thinking too much about this. Thought Ye Ci. And this thought acted as an anchor that allowed her to calm herself. She took in a deep breath, and was able to calm her nerves even further.
The warm glow of the kitchen light was soothing.. Ye Ci stared out the window as she worked on drying the plates handed over to her by Yi Qingchen. The sky had darkened, the streets were illuminated by the lights from the street lamps.
She could see children with firecrackers roaming the streets. The night air was filled with their joyous laughter.
Ye Ci was in a daze.
She could still remember sneaking out of her house after dinner with a large pack of firecrackers to play with her friends. Some beating would of course follow if she was discovered by her parents, but it did not stop her from sneaking out of her house.
“Did you enjoy doing that when you were young?” The silence was broken by Fleeting Time’s voice, and Ye Ci was brought back into reality. She noticed Yi Qingchen staring blankly at the children, and smiled, “Were you playing like that when you were young?”
“Of course!” Ye Ci’s gaze once again drifted towards the children playing outside, “I’d even get beaten up by my parents.”
“Why did they do that?” Yi Qingchen was shocked, but it took him only a moment to realise the answer to his own question, “Maybe they’re worried that you’ll hurt yourself.”
“Yup. I used to hate them for doing it. But I’d always snuck out the next day.” Ye Ci giggled at her childhood self, “What about you? Have you done something like this before?”
“I did. Why wouldn’t I?” Yi Qingchen’s gaze grew softer as he smiled at Ye Ci, “But I rarely got beatings from my parents.
“Ah? Was it because you’re a boy?” Ye Ci raised an eyebrow.
“No… That’s because I’m a fast runner. My mom couldn’t catch me, while my dad had always allowed me to do as I please. He said that it was okay for a boy to get hurt once in a while.” Yi Qingchen smiled at her. His expression grew even gentler when he remembered the childhood memory.
“Oh yeah, the Spring Festival is almost over by now, should you go home and visit your parents?” asked Ye Ci at the mention of his mother.
Yi Qingchen’s eyes lost their focus as he smiled at the question, “Ahh…” he then returned his attention to the dirty plates in the sink, “My parents are with God now. I don’t think I’ll be able to celebrate the Spring Festival with them just yet…”
Ye Ci was stunned, and she immediately apologized, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know…”
“It’s okay. They were happy at the time of their death. They passed away in a car crash during their honeymoon.” Yi Qingchen shook his head, “They loved each other very much, and would always argue about who would leave this world first when they were alive. They both wanted to be the last person to pass away.”
“Why is that?” Ye Ci was curious. Interpersonal relationships had never been her strong suit.
“Because the one who was left alive was the one who would suffer the most.” replied Yi Qingchen with a smile, “The dead do not have to suffer the lonely nights and spend their waking hours longing for their partner. But God was apparently watching over them on that day. Both of them left together. Neither of them had to suffer the loss of the other.”
“But you… You were left behind.”
Even Ye Ci did not realise the aching in her heart as she spoke the words. Yi Qingchen smiled faintly as he stared at Ye Ci’s face, “Well, it’s not that bad.” he shrugged, “I wouldn’t have met you if I went with them.”
Ye Ci opened her mouth, but her words seemed to have been stuck in her throat. She then turned around and refocused her attention on the plates.
She thought of herself in her last life, and the Fleeting Time of that time. They fought against each other in the PVP tournament, and it resulted in his decisive victory. She had been cold, distant, and very arrogant. Never would she think that she would be able to receive a second chance and would even have a relationship with the man that was at the top of the game.
Her fate was turned completely around. She would often wonder if this world was even real, or was it a mere dream she was having.
But it was a question that she would never have an answer to, “It might not be as good as you think. I’m not that good of a person myself.”
Yi Qingchen did not even flinch at the question, “And so what? Even if you’re a sinner, you’re still Ye Ci... Nothing else matters.”
Ye Ci was slightly stunned by his response, “Ignorant.” she retorted, “What else do you know about me other than my name?”
“Why must I know anything else?” Yi Qingchen raised his eyebrows.
“Why not? Do you know my character? What strengths? My weaknesses? What are you if not ignorant to say that you do not care even when you know nothing about me?”
“It has nothing to do with me liking you as a person, does it?” responded Qi Qngchen with a question of his own. He could not understand Ye Ci’s way of thought.
“Alright, maybe it does.” he said when he noticed the displeasure in her expression, “But I know Gongzi You very well. And I know of her strengths and weaknesses. Is that not enough?”
“But that was me in a game! It’s different.” Ye Ci did not know why she was trying to convince Yi Qingchen. And so what if I’m able to convince him? Ye Ci did not know. She did not know why she was having such a thought.
“It’s exactly because we’re both in a game.” Yi Qingchen shook his head, “Because in a game where your identity is hidden, you do not have to act or behave. Your strengths and weaknesses will be amplified because your identity remains anonymous. Doesn’t it mean that it’s the best mirror that could reflect your personality? You can easily mask your true self in real life! So why do you even care about something like this?”
Ye Ci bit her lips and stared at Yi Qingchen, “Foolish.” was the only word that left her mouth.
Yi Qingchen chuckled at her words, and eventually broke into laughter. Ye Ci stared at him, confused. She did not know what was going on.
It took Yi Qingchen quite a while to regain his composure. His eyes were gentle as he leaned closer to Ye Ci, and spoke with a soft voice that only the two of them could hear, “And that is why I love you.”
“Bang!” colorful fireworks lit up the night sky outside the window.
And Ye Ci’s heart melted when she stared at Yi Qingchen’s face. She turned her head to look out of the window. The firecrackers tonight… They’re beautiful.
Yi Qingchen left the city the next day.
Ye Ci and Tan Polang stood in the lounge of the airport. She stared out at the planes taking off, but she did not know which of them was carrying Yi Qingchen within.
“So what do you think of Fleeting Time, Sister Ye Ci?”
“What do you mean?” Ye Ci knew what she meant, but she was too lazy to give him an answer, which was why she responded with a question of her own.
“You know, like how he is as a person? And how would you proceed with him now that you met him in real life?” there was a slight desperation in Tan Polang’s voice.
And Ye Ci, who could sense the desperation, narrowed her eyes at the boy, “What did Yi Qingchen promise you? Why do I feel like you’re trying to pimp me out?”
Eh? Did he promise me anything? No, he did not! Tan Polang was stunned. But… But… He clutched at his hair, “No he did not! I just thought that you two suit each other very well. And he likes you. Wouldn’t it be nice if you like him back?”
Ye Ci rolled her eyes at Tan Polang and turned around to leave, “Fool.”
“Eh?” Tan Polang who was confused immediately followed after her, “Why did you call me a fool, Sister Ye Ci? I’m a top scorer who was guaranteed a spot in the university! I have confidence in my intelligence! How can you say that to me! Besides, I didn’t say anything wrong…”
“I said Yi Qingchen was a fool.” a faint smile formed on Ye Ci’s lips, “Didn’t you ask about my opinion of him? Here is my answer. That man is a fool.”
“Eh?” Tan Polang’s confusion grew even deeper. He felt as if he could not longer understand the Chinese language. No way! The only impression Fleeting TIme gave her is that he’s a fool? What… What happened?
Ye Ci turned around and shot Tan Polang a glare, “Are you coming?! I’ll leave you behind if you continue standing there!” and she began to walk away. A smile was forming on her face, and it was rapidly growing into a wide grin.
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