Decision made, Ling Lan's thoughts no longer lingered on the scout academy. Her mind turned to that Instructor Mu who had the deepest respect of her mother Lan Luofeng — what sort of personage was he? Based on Little Four's description, he could even berate the dean of the Central Scout Academy without any reservations — his identity was most certainly not simple.
Chattering on and off, Little Four reported everything, and then, suddenly thinking of something, his mood drooped noticeably. With a face full of reluctance, he asked, "Going back just like this, won't it be very difficult to meet up with daddy?"
Outside the academy, when they logged on, they would log onto the real virtual world, not the academy's enclosed virtual world. From there, to seek out the concealed gateway to the Central Scout Academy's network, even if Little Four spread out his resources, would take up considerable time and effort. It was not a simple matter.
That was not to say that Little Four could not break past the barrier-gate, but the virtual world was just too vast — many concealed gateways would be easily overlooked. It was just like that mysterious BL world Little Four had entered previously — if Little Four had not stumbled upon it by accident, he might never have known that a virtual space was hiding at that particular spot ...
That was why Little Four was rather worried — if he could not find that concealed gateway to the Central Scout Academy quickly, then, did that mean that he would not be able to visit daddy within the near future? Mind you, in the recent past, whenever Little Four had time, he would run over to Ling Xiao's legacy space, sometimes even up to 3 or 4 times a day. Although Little Four was very afraid of Ling Xiao's immense spiritual energy and did not dare to interact directly with him, Little Four only needed to see Ling Xiao's warm smile and his mood would become amazingly upbeat ...
Ling Lan was deeply suspicious of this sort of atypical behaviour from Little Four — was her Little Four already at the age where he needed paternal love? This speculation of hers naturally prompted Little Four's empathic denial ... but seeing an extremely noticeable flush appear around the skin surrounding Little Four's ears, Ling Lan instantly realised that Little Four was just too embarrassed to admit the truth.
Little Four's reaction caused Ling Lan to fall into a silent contemplation. Ling Lan's emotions regarding Ling Xiao were extremely complicated. As she was growing up, Ling Xiao had never appeared. Although Lan Luofeng constantly talked about Ling Xiao and his glorious exploits by her ear since she was small, trying to establish the image of a perfect father in Ling Lan's mind, Ling Lan was after all not a true child. Her mental maturity meant that it was impossible for her to truly accept a man she had never met, a man she only knew by name as her father just because Lan Luofeng kept bringing him up in conversation.
Thus, Ling Xiao had always been the most familiar stranger in Ling Lan's heart! Just like a character on a portrait — beautifully perfect but ethereal and unrealistic.
But then all of this had been broken apart by her accidental venture into Ling Xiao's legacy space. Although the Ling Xiao within the legacy space was just a spiritual entity, it was still a manifestation of Ling Xiao's true character. The words and interactions with the entity inside represented the words that Ling Xiao had imagined he wanted to say even before Ling Lan was born. From those words, Ling Lan had sensed the deep love that Ling Xiao had held for his child ...
Ling Xiao was definitely a caring father. He was willing to trust his child, and when his child needed it, he would provide the warmest and most substantial love and care ... During this period of interaction, Ling Lan could clearly sense this from the spiritual entity, and had been moved by it.
Ling Lan still remembered, back when the two of them had first met in the legacy space, at the end, Ling Xiao had asked Ling Lan whether she could call him 'daddy' ... This request had been ignored by Ling Lan then. Because back then, Ling Lan really had not been able to accept that foreign and young beyond reason man as her father.
However, after spending time with him these past few years, Ling Lan often going into the legacy space to receive instruction from Ling Xiao and spar with him, she had finally got to experience a father's mentorship and expectation for his child. This made Ling Lan unable to continue ignoring Ling Xiao's love and sacrifices ...
Ling Lan muttered to herself, "Yes, I need to find an opportunity to go see him once!" This time, she would call him 'daddy'! He deserved it; the Ling Xiao of 13 years ago had sincerely wanted to be a dutiful father back then.
Ling Lan's words caused Little Four to revive instantly. Deeply moved, he said, "Alright, leave everything to me." Although they were in a recovery pod right now, with seemingly no way to enter the virtual world — who was he? He was the all-powerful virtual god Little Four! As long as there was a path to connect to the virtual world, he would be able to connect ... Oh no, why had he forgotten this earlier? Actually wasting so many days just waiting for Boss to wake up.
Boo hoo hoo, daddy, Little Four has already not seen you for almost 10 days! I really miss you so much! Little Four missed Daddy Ling Xiao's warm presence terribly. That was what a dad felt like.
With Little Four's assistance, Ling Lan was carried by Little Four into the virtual world. As there was no official login device, they were currently online as dark netizens with no identity. Little Four took the initiative to conceal their figures, immediately slipping into Ling Xiao's legacy space.
The two of them walked the familiar path through the Ling family mansion and pushed open the study door. Hearing them come in, Ling Xiao lifted his head, and with a warm smile, he said, "Ling Lan, you've come ..." Just like an extremely patient father who had been waiting unbelievably patiently for his own playful child to return home after playing their fill ...
Ling Lan even had the mistaken feeling that, in these days which she had been absent, had Ling Xiao been sitting alone behind his desk all this time, just waiting for the moment she would open the door and walk in?
Ling Lan felt a pang run through her heart and her lips trembled. Finally, one word escaped her lips, "Daddy!" Although this cry was very soft, in this silent and tranquil study, it was unmistakably clear.
Ling Xiao, who had originally been sitting primly behind his study desk abruptly stood up at hearing Ling Lan's cry. Because of the rough movement, the study desk actually shuddered, several books piled on it falling noisily to the ground. Right then, Ling Xiao had no mind to bother about all this. Emotionally, he said, "Ling Lan, just now ... what did you call me?"
Ling Lan saw Ling Xiao's low-hanging right hand curl into a tight fist. His eyes held traces of pleasant surprise, and nervousness, as well as some inconcealable fear. Ling Lan would never have imagined that this strong man before her — who had stood at the pinnacle of humanity, the god-class operator Ling Xiao who was considered an ultimate weapon of the Federation —would actually have times when he was afraid ... What's more, what he feared was that his child would be unwilling to call him 'daddy'.
Seeing this side of Ling Xiao, Ling Lan heart was a complicated jumble of feelings. She could not say whether it was joy or sorrow, but her eyelids actually felt a little strained and wet ... Back when Ling Xiao was facing death, had he been just as scared? Afraid that she, who had never had him around to be a father, would not want to acknowledge him as a father?
"Daddy!" The first cry was undoubtedly the hardest. After pushing it out, the following cry seemed much easier. This subsequent cry of Ling Lan's was much clearer than her first, and it was also much louder.
"Hey!" Ling Xiao responded solemnly. His initially taut facial muscles instantly relaxed, and a large smile bloomed on his face. It was radiant and blinding, actually making it impossible to look at him directly — even Ling Lan, who was used to seeing gorgeous men, found herself dazed and bedazzled in that instant.
By the side, Little Four subconsciously swallowed, and gasped in awe, "I finally know now who Boss resembles ..." He still remembered back when Boss was 6 years old, one smile from her was capable of stealing people's hearts and souls. Back then, he had puzzled over how Boss had this ability — looks like it had been inherited from her daddy.
Little Four's words caused Ling Lan to abruptly wake up from her stupor. She could not help but throw a glare at Little Four — what nonsense is this little idiot spewing now? She was Ling Xiao's child; hasn't it been said since ancient times that daughters resemble their fathers? Her resembling Ling Xiao was a perfectly normal thing!
Ling Xiao was undoubtedly in a great mood. In the past, he had always waited for Ling Lan to start speaking, but this time, he initiated conversation by asking, "Ling Lan, my child, do you need me to explain anything for you this time?"
Ling Lan shook her head. "Nothing at present. I've just come to tell you that we may not be able to come here in the near future for a period of time."
Hearing this, Ling Xiao was taken aback. "Why?"
Ling Lan chuckled dryly. "I need to go back to the mansion. There aren't any login devices tuned to the scout academy's virtual space there. If I want to come here, it's a little problematic."
Ling Xiao's initial excitement and joy gradually dissipated, and a trace of sadness swept through his gaze. Because it passed by so swiftly, lost in her own thoughts and emotions, Ling Lan did not notice.
After a beat of silence, Ling Xiao opened his mouth to say, "When will you be leaving, approximately?"
Ling Lan silently estimated the time her body needed to recover. "One month later at the soonest." One month later, even if her internal injuries were still not fully healed, she should be able to come out from the recovery pod.
"Then in this one month, try to take time to come here as much as possible," said Ling Xiao with a stern expression. Without his smile, he faintly exerted an invisible force of presence, causing Ling Lan to instantly feel pressured.
"Yes, daddy!" replied Ling Lan, standing tall reflexively.
Ling Xiao's looked long and hard at Ling Lan, as if trying to engrave Ling Lan's appearance into his heart. Under Ling Xiao's focused gaze, Ling Lan's palms were sweating from nervousness. As if sensing Ling Lan's anxiety and unease, a faint smile appeared on Ling Xiao's face. This smile made Ling Xiao's entire force of presence dissipate completely. Ling Lan immediately felt the invisible pressure upon her vanish; her entire person instantly at ease.
"Tell me about your mother. Is she well?" Asking about Lan Luofeng, Ling Xiao's entire being became extremely gentle, the unconcealed love in his gaze so saturated that one could almost wring water out of it.
Seeing this kind of Ling Xiao, an old poem stirred in Ling Lan's mind — the strongest score-forged steel, turns to finger-twining silk. When a man truly loves a woman, no matter how strong he was, he would willingly become finger-twining silk ...
The faint melancholy in Ling Lan's heart rose up once more — if Ling Xiao had not died, he and Lan Luofeng would most certainly have been a heavenly couple. However, the heavens were cruel, unwilling to lay eyes on such a perfect happy ending — it insisted on leaving it unfulfilled, thus engraving it in bone and heart.
Ling Lan slowly recounted bits and pieces of Lan Luofeng's life in these past 13 years. She spoke of her gentleness, her doting love, her petty shameless play-tantrums, her untiring nagging ... as well as her rich descriptions of that perfectly flawless husband in her mind's eye ...
At this point of her narration, Ling Lan saw a flash of pain pass through Ling Xiao's eyes, as well as a faint sense of regret, and even a trace of blankness.
The two of them — one seated, one standing — thus conversed half the day away. Only then did Ling Lan realise that there was actually a differentiation between day and night within the legacy space. The visibility inside the study gradually grew dim, as the sun outside the window gradually fell below the western horizon.BL = Boy-love. A.k.a. shounen-ai, and in more extreme cases, yaoi. To spell it out even further, in case there are those who don't know all three terms mentioned, BL refers to stories where the main romance is between male characters.think super sappy true wuv. :3forged many, many times. The original line says 'a hundred' times, but that is just a placeholder number. I took artistic license with 'score-forged' to keep the poetic feel of the line.a.k.a. be wrapped around the finger of the one he loves.i.e. making it unforgettable