translator: baumkuchen editor: serefina
In front of Chi Xiaochi was a digital display that only he could see. On the display was the original host's current body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, surrounding temperature, and so on. Of particular interest was a conspicuous bar divided into two colours, red and blue.
The blue bar represented the regret level, while the red bar represented the goodwill level, both with a maximum value of 100 points.
The blue bar was currently stuck at 9 points, while the points of the red bar were steadily decreasing due to Chi Xiaochi's line of "Does it cost you".
Chi Xiaochi sighed, "Why is it that people don't like to hear the truth?"
The system wanted to roast him a little, but held back.
Yang Baihua was disappointed, saying, "Xiao Cheng, how could you talk like that?"
Chi Xiaochi didn't panic, and simply replied amicably, "Old Yang, don't misunderstand. My meaning was that my big brother is just looking out for us. With a car, our lives will be so much easier. I don't have a need for it, but you could use it to drive to work, right? It'll give you a lot more face in front of your colleagues too."
His attitude was very pleasant, as if his prior remark that was full of □□ was simply a statement of fact.
Seeing the two-point increase in the goodwill level, the system thought, he's giving him the stick followed by the carrot. His means aren't bad.
Yang Baihua calmed himself down.
This child had been spoiled rotten since young and didn't know the impact of his words. He feared that he completely hadn't realised just how hurtful his prior words were.
Thinking of this, Yang Baihua gathered the patience of a father dealing with their own child, and coaxed him, saying, "Xiao Cheng, cars are consumables. Have you ever thought about how much it costs to own a car? How much it would cost to pay for gasoline each month, how much it would cost to buy a parking lot, have you thought about it? Is this something we afford right now?"
"I'll earn money to provide for you!" Cheng Yuan nonchalantly placed his hands behind his back, his smile sincere and gentle enough to make one's heart melt. "My demos are almost complete. When they're done, they'll earn us some money."
Yang Baihua helplessly replied, "How many times have I told you, this isn't a proper job."
"But I like music."
"Just because you like it doesn't mean it can put food on the table…… Nevermind, let's not talk about this." Yang Baihua generously gave in. "We shouldn't quarrel."
"Alright, let's not talk about that." Cheng Yuan walked forward, closing the gap between him and Yang Baihua. He gently said, "Actually I was also thinking that we can use this car to fetch your mom and dad. Mom, dad, and third sister are coming to visit next week. When they come, you can even drive them over to Xiaoyan's school to bring her out for a meal. The last time Xiaoyan came over, didn't she also ask when you were going to buy a car?"
Those two matters just so happened to poke at Yang Baihua's weak spot. He was silent.
As he spoke, Cheng Yuan raised his head to look up at Yang Baihua.
Upon meeting his burning gaze, Yang Baihua's heart skipped a beat.
It was currently winter. Under the light of the evening streetlamps, Cheng Yuan let out a breath of white fog. In the haze of white mist, his fair and radiant face was enveloped in an exquisite halo of light that could move people's hearts. The circle of fluffy feathers lining the hood of his white down jacket moved slightly in the evening wind, sticking to his slender, white porcelain neck, gently tickling it. All at once, he felt a squeezing, burning sensation in his heart.
Meanwhile, Chi Xiaochi's attention was on translucent card currently displayed on the operating board in front of him. Its contents were as follows:
Name: Beauty Halo (Trial Edition)
Duration: 10 minutes
Type: Single use only
Points required: 0 (Free trial)
Description: Your simple smile is more radiant than the shine of Gold Coating Silver egg fried rice, more warm than a simmering pot of pork broth soup, more tender than the meat bursting out of a freshly snapped crab leg, and more fascinating than the red oil oozing out of the yolk of a salted duck egg. No delicacy can compare to your smile, illuminated by the dim lights.
Chi Xiaochi asked, curious, "Did the person in charge of writing these descriptions come from a family of chefs?"
The system was silent for a moment. "……09 is the one of the first-generation AIs. It started out as data, it just likes studying recipes."
Chi Xiaochi found these words to be a little strange.
Started out as data?
Is there such a thing as turning into data?
Before he could ask further, the system butted in with a reminder, "Mister Chi, your task."
Chi Xiaochi: "Oh, oh."
Seeing Chi Xiaochi gather himself once more, the system felt slightly gratified.
When he first took on Chi Xiaochi, he'd immediately noticed that this new host was a little more difficult to handle.
After receiving and reading the information of this world, Chi Xiaochi pondered to himself for quite a while. His very first question was: "Later when we see him, can I directly run that surnamed Yang over with a car?"
The system: "……"
Chi Xiaochi said, "Don't worry, we're just discussing this."
He paused for a while longer, then continued, "Since Cheng Yuan's family is so rich, if any accident occurred, they could definitely help cover it up."
The system said, "……You really want to hit him with the car."
Chi Xiaochi said, "No, no, we're just discussing a possibility."
The system said, "Mister Chi, you're dealing with a living, breathing human being here."
Chi Xiaochi made a show of being earnest, "Oh. But it'd be an accident, no? It wouldn't be intentional."
The system tried to reason with him, "……Mister Chi, the laws of this world aren't very different from those in your original world. Those who purposefully attempt to harm others will be thrown in jail. Furthermore, if you run your target over, how are you planning on leaving this world?"
Leaving the task world depended on the regret level.
Only when the regret level reached 100 points, would the host be able to leave the current world, and be sent to the next task world.
The system brought up the regret level in order to dissuade Chi Xiaochi from this immoral idea. Who knew that Chi Xiaochi would seriously start to analyse in a reasonable and justified manner, "It's said that people regret the most in the moment before death."
The system: "……"
Chi Xiaochi continued, "Even if he doesn't die and only becomes disabled, he'll still have a long life ahead of him to regret."
The system: "……" You can shut up now.
Chi Xiaochi understood the system's silence. He sighed, "Fine. You, this little comrade, really don't have a sense of humor."
……However, the system could hear the clear disappointment in Chi Xiaochi's voice.
For this reason, the system could not rest assured, and even thoroughly looked over the information he had on Chi Xiaochi once more.
……Right, Chi Xiaochi definitely was an actor, not some convict with a criminal record.
Even though he had enough black material to cover the heavens; bad-tempered, smoked in public places and led teens astray, uncultured and unashamed, on bad terms with his parents, and had dirty py dealings with all kinds of old men, etcetera, his messy matters too numerous to count, most were just rumours, and it was hard to tell the truth from the lies.
After simply filtering out the tabloids, the system thought, it should be fine, this host just has a somewhat independent, unconventional personality, with some slight mental issues. With some kindness and gentle guidance, there shouldn't be any problems.
Anyway, Chi Xiaochi had done quite well so far, putting the free skill card to good use. A quick check showed that Yang Baihua's goodwill level, which had been at a steady decline, already showed signs of rejuvenation.
Every new host was liable to twelve free single-use skill cards. These props had numerous different functions, but they could only be used once. If after trying them out, the host found them useful, they could enter the system's shop and exchange the goodwill points of the host for props to be used in various situations as needed.
Like right now.
Looking at Cheng Yuan, Yang Baihua lightly swallowed.
He'd known that Cheng Yuan was attractive, but no matter how attractive the person, after a while, anyone would get accustomed to it. But just now, when he looked at Cheng Yuan, he'd regained the itchy feeling in his heart from when they'd first started dating.
The snow-white rabbit that had been lovingly raised since young raised its round, black eyes, attentively staring at him with eyes full of fascination.
Such an outstanding person whole-heartedly relied on him and thought only of him.
……This was only right.
Yang Baihua enjoyed this feeling of "being back on track".
Holding back a smile, he asked, "You still remember my cousin's called Xiaoyan?"
Cheng Yuan replied with no small amount of pride, "Of course I remember. If it has to do with you, I remember everything."
In that moment, Yang Baihua felt the urge to kiss him.
But out of the corner of his eye, he just happened to catch a glimpse of Xiao Liu from the photocopy room next door on his way out, twirling his keys as he exited from the revolving door of the company and discussing with two other colleagues where they would be going for barbeque tonight.
Remaining calm and collected, Yang Baihua angled his body, quietly blocking Cheng Yuan from view. His hand, which originally had been raised halfway to stroke Cheng Yuan's face, was also lowered and naturally shoved into his pocket, "Next time when you want to add something to our home, don't forget to discuss it with me first. This home belongs to the two of us, doesn't it?"
Chi Xiaochi sneered internally.
This home belongs to the two of us? Discuss?
The double bed that could fit your entire family, did you ever discuss it with me?
However, "Cheng Yuan" wouldn't have thought of such things.
According to his personality, he would just know that Yang Baihua had silently agreed. They could keep the car.
Cheng Yuan's eyes brightened, and his loving gaze towards Yang Baihua became even more intense.
Yang Baihua smiled and offered, "I'll drive."
Cheng Yuan volunteered, saying, "You've worked hard the entire day, I'll drive." He pulled open the back door of the car, and playfully bent his knee, "Boss, please get on first. I'll go throw away some trash."
Yang Baihua laughed, and readily sat inside. As he looked over the car's interior, he couldn't quite conceal the envy in his eyes.
When would he be able to be like Cheng Jian, able to just casually gift someone a car?
Cheng Yuan, carrying a nearly-empty mineral water bottle, ambled over to the trash bin by the side of the road.
Yang Baihua spent most of his time facing a computer screen, so his eyesight wasn't the best. He didn't see the cigarette butt floating in the water bottle.
When Chi Xiaochi tossed the bottle into the recycling bin, the empty bottle collided with the inside of the bin, making a soft noise of crumpling plastic.
Chi Xiaochi asked the system, "Do you see it now?"
The system: "En."
——Cheng Yuan majored in vocal music. He had always lovingly protected his vocal cords, staying far away from smoking and drinking.
Chi Xiaochi had smoked half a cigarette. Even though he'd used chewing gum to hastily cover it up, the smell of cigarette smoke still lingered in his mouth and on his cuffs. However, his current lover hadn't noticed any irregularities at all. He hadn't asked even a single question.
Of course, this was just a casual test by Chi Xiaochi and didn't confirm anything.
However, in his opinion, this was just one of the small signs of Cheng Yuan's tragic fate.
Upon returning to the car, as Cheng Yuan was putting on his seatbelt, he said, "When Mom and Dad arrive, let's go pick them up from the train station together."
Yang Baihua visibly froze for a second.
Of course, Cheng Yuan wouldn't notice anything strange about Yang Baihua, and so continued to speak, "My driving is very steady. When the time comes, we can bring Mom and Dad to fetch Xiaoyan, and then bring them to visit Yunzhi Temple, and go to the suburbs to soak in the hot springs……"
Yang Baihua replied uncomfortably, "……Let's talk about this some other time."
Cheng Yuan, like a little trumpet, enthused, "Then I'll play my new demo for you. You'll be my first listener, how about it?"
Yang Baihua was very happy he'd changed the subject. He went along with it, replying, "Let's hear it then."
Cheng Yuan dug out his phone, tapping it a few times.
Melodious and pure music drifted out of the loudspeaker, incredibly pleasing to the ear. Yang Baihua had been busy working for the entire day, and the music that flowed into his ears seemed to sooth his tense nerves.
Sitting back against the comfortable leather seat, he drifted off to sleep.
The system couldn’t help but remind him, "Mister Chi, you don't need to use skill cards so frequently."
Chi Xiaochi had just used a hypnosis card on Yang Baihua that would last half an hour.
Chi Xiaochi himself wasn't as stingy, "I'm just trying it out. Anyways, it's not like goodwill points are hard to earn."
……This judgement wasn't wrong.
A person's goodwill towards another was naturally always in flux. When couples argued, their goodwill to one another would sink straight to the lowest, to the point that they'd be itching to just strangle the other to death. On the other hand, in their most passionate moments, it would be like blending oil in honey and their goodwill value would naturally steadily increase.
Just now Chi Xiaochi's excellent techniques had brought Yang Baihua's goodwill level back up to 72 points, exactly the same as where they had started.
Chi Xiaochi summarized, "For a car that didn't cost him anything, his goodwill level directly dropped by 14 points."
The system: "……" Weren't the last 10 points lost because you went and provoked him.
Chi Xiaochi continued his analysis, "With the Beauty Halo card that lasted 10 minutes and a some gentle coaxing, the goodwill level returned to its original value. A Beauty Halo card that lasts this long only costs 5 goodwill points. Looking at it like this, goodwill points really are easy to grind."
The system: "……"
Just now, had Chi Xiaochi deliberately provoked Yang Baihua in order to test the extent to which the goodwill points would drop?
Also the word "grind" gave the system a bad feeling.
Chi Xiaochi said, "Moving forward, as long as Yang Baihua's goodwill level is passable, it's fine. We've got an extra 12 goodwill points to spare, so help me take a look at the shop. Let's see what we can buy."
The system was shocked.
In order to leave the worlds quickly, his previous hosts had all persistently followed the target's every whim, first and foremost grinding the goodwill level up to 100 points before doing anything else.
After all, no one knew if insufficient goodwill points would have an impact on the progress of the task.
This was the first time the system had seen such a reckless warrior who dared to remain at the passing mark right from the start.
The system flipped through the store, "The things you can buy with 10 goodwill points would be a 30 minute long 'Beauty Halo', a 5 minute long 'Karate Black Belt Buff', a 1 hour long 'Painlessness Buff', a 5 minute long 'Heartthrob Halo'……"
Chi Xiaochi listened carefully as the system went over it once, "Buy the first one."
After a successful purchase, he asked, "Is there a longer lasting 'Heartthrob Halo'?"
The system said, "There is. The longest lasts 1 hour, and costs 40 goodwill points."
Chi Xiaochi muttered to himself, "Then I'll have to save up some more."
……From Chi Xiaochi's tone, the system got the impression that to him, Yang Baihua was like a meat-producing pig. Today he'd chop off the front legs, the next day he'd chop off some pork belly. After he chopped some meat off, it'd grow back, and when it did, he'd chop it off again, in a cycle without an end.
The slightly terrified system said, "The remaining two points can only buy a few small props and adult products."
Chi Xiaochi: "Oho."
The system: "……Mister Chi, we are proper systems."
Chi Xiaochi didn't say anything, but he was evidently amused.
The system was incensed by his amusement, to the point where his data even showed some slight fluctuations, "We don't provide that kind of service. Adult products refers to small physical props that can enhance relationships, like flower bouquets, river lanterns, fireworks and so on."
Chi Xiaochi said, "Get a firework."
"A firework costs 3 points."
Chi Xiaochi simply said, "Okay, one then."
The system: "……"
Chi Xiaochi: "What are you so stunned for? The one who’ll be failing is me."
The system helplessly thought, of course it's you, who else would it be, me?
After a successful purchase, the clear sound of a bell rang out, indicating that the item had been placed in storage.
Chi Xiaochi waited for a long time, "Where's the fireworks?"
The system replied, "The target……" Was still lying there like a corpse, dead to the world.
"Who said it was for him?" Chi Xiaochi said, "Now, light it up."
The system was a little confused, but did as instructed.
An eight-core firework burst into the sky, drifting down like a snowline, falling like a shooting star, dyeing the dark dome of the night sky with a moving tapestry of light.
The firework had exploded in the distance. Light travelled faster than sound, so as the light, like a string of pearls, scattered into the night sky, Chi Xiaochi suddenly opened his mouth and said to the system, "……This is for you."
His words hadn't finished before, with a loud bang, the noise of the firework exploding arrived, late.
The system stared at the dissipating stars in slight shock.
The rearview mirror of the car reflected Chi Xiaochi's face. He was smiling.
Even though Chi Xiaochi was using Cheng Yuan's face, his true smile bore no resemblance whatsoever to Cheng Yuan's innocence. His peach blossom eyes were curved, showing three parts evilness mixed with 7 parts indifference and laziness. It had its own intoxicating charm, an attractiveness that made it impossible to tear one's eyes away.
Chi Xiaochi said to the system, "From today onwards I'll be troubling you, please take care of me."
The system: "……"
Even though he was a little touched, the system inexplicably felt that that sentence wasn't quite right. It felt a bit like the last meal of a death row inmate before he was sent off to the firing squad.
Very quickly, the system realised the problem. "This isn't the road to Yang Baihua's house."
Chi Xiaochi replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, "Of course not. If not why else would I have hypnotised him?"
The system: "……"
Chi Xiaochi glanced the the in-built GPS, confirming his destination before continuing, "…..There's a place I want to visit."
The author has something to say:warning: spoilers for the identity of the ML
The ML is the still-unnamed system√
Not spicy chicken Yang.
Posting from my phone is tough orz
Anyways, I’m still overseas and can’t post updates regularly yet, but here’s a new chapter to tide you guys over in the meantime~
Also, say hi to the new editor for this story, serefina! o/
Now on to the… food porn? (is this actually lmao)
Gold Coating Silver egg fried rice,
a simmering pot of pork broth soup,
the meat bursting out of a freshly snapped crab leg,
the red oil oozing out of the yolk of a salted duck egg,
they all can’t compare to your simple smile, illuminated by the dim lights.
(ノ▽〃) I got inspired and did some fanart… but then I got stuck at the sketch phase hahahaha _(:3」∠)_