From Fang Zhao's memory, the original owner of the body had only stayed within his second uncle's house for only a short period of time. That was after the incident with their original homes. After a short while with his second uncle's family, Fang Zhao had then stayed in school. In addition, the government had allocated a compensation home for him as well as compensation money. Thus, having grown up together with Zeng Huang and the rest, they all decided to live in the same housing block, and they rarely met anyone else. For this reason, he'd never needed the assistance of his relatives.
The original owner of Fang Zhao's body had had a rather estranged situation with his other relatives. Perhaps it was due to seeing the situation that Zeng Huang and Wan Yue had with their relatives, or perhaps it was due to Fang Sheng's influence. The original would rarely visit his relatives. However, in university, his second uncle, who had doubled as his legal guardian, had still helped him quite a bit. Just that, communication between the two of them was not always good, so before university, Fang Zhao started to isolate himself from his uncle.
Before the original had killed himself, he had remembered what his uncle had said. Early on, his uncle had warned him to be wary of Fang Sheng. Because of this, the relationship between Fang Zhao and his uncle worsened. It was also because of this that Fang Zhao became much closer with Fang Sheng. When he changed his number, he also did not inform his uncle. Every year, the only form of communication was through electronic mails. There were some things the original owner would reply to, while other times, he would ignore them.
People always make mistakes. However, some mistakes can be deadly, and regret cannot make things right.
His second uncle had a squarish face with two rough eyebrows sticking high up his head. His face was slightly flush, probably from drinking some wine. It was obvious from his eyes that he was really excited to see Fang Zhao, yet his face had on the solemn expression of a senior. A few times, he opened his mouth as if to say something, but he quickly swallowed the words, as if he was afraid to say the wrong thing.
Rather, it was Fang Zhao's second aunt who pulled him over to do some questioning. She asked about his experiences over the past six years and what he was working as.
Fang Zhao went through his memories and selected a few stories to share. Watching the warm smile on his aunt's face, he felt a sense of regret. If they knew that the original Fang Zhao had committed suicide, what would they be thinking?
"That means you signed a contract with Silver Wing Media and are producing songs for them?" His second aunt thought for awhile before continuing, "Xiao Zhao, don't mind Second Aunt being long-winded. When composing, make sure you guard your completed works properly. Don't let yourself be swindled. Be wary of others. A while back, I heard there was an incident with a large company regarding the stealing of songs. Whatever it is, once you complete a song, make sure you make a production record; don't just write it down on a piece of paper. If… I'm saying if by any chance it really gets stolen, even in a lawsuit, at least there will still be your earliest record. If the piece of paper is lost, there is no hope."
Fang Zhao nodded his head. "I know."
Second Uncle could no longer hold back his words any longer and interrupted. "Be especially wary of that Fang Sheng who is always sticking with you guys!" After saying that, both Second Uncle and Second Aunt looked at Fang Zhao, wondering if those words would cause an argument yet again.
"There is no longer any need," Fang Zhao replied.
"What do you mean 'no longer any need'?! One look at that fellow and you can see the bad intentions all over him…"
Second Uncle was still thinking what else to say when Fang Zhao continued, "Fang Sheng is already in jail."
The words that Second Uncle had not yet said remained stuck in his throat.
"Jail?" Second Aunt was surprised.
Fang Zhao gave a simple explanation of Fang Zhao's song stealing, but he did not mention creating the movements of his series yet. He was still under a strict confidentiality agreement with Silver Wing Media and could not yet reveal it.
Second Aunt sighed. "So the news I heard was about him, huh."
The news reports on the case regarding Fang Sheng's thefts were not comprehensive. The reports had excluded his full name, and the main point of the report was to remind other artists to be wary.
Neon Culture had some part in the hushed reports. Fang Sheng was just a lowly employee. If the reports were too extensive, they could hurt the company's reputation. Most people who did not follow the creative industry, after hearing about the matter, did not really care where it happened or who was involved.
"I told you back then to be careful of that fellow. He was a little schemer!" Second Uncle was still mad. His already sharp eyebrows were like knives as they rose up. "If only you had been wary of Fang Sheng, this wouldn't have happened. It's a pity you didn't listen back then."
He had good intentions, he just didn't know how to express himself well to the younger generation. The words that came out of his mouth seemed like a reprimand. Realizing his words were too much, Second Uncle stiffened up and changed the topic. Pointing at the fruit juice on the table, he said, "Have some juice. Yesterday, someone brought it all the way from Muzhou. Don't you kids love to drink this type…" Second Uncle suddenly remembered that Fang Zhao had already graduated from university and started working. He was no longer the little kid from his memory.
"Don't mind him. He always has that bad temper. Actually, your second uncle is concerned about you. Although you are no longer a student and have started working, in our eyes, you are still a child," Second Aunt said, smiling at Fang Zhao. It was not looking down on him; rather, it was the kind of concern that elders couldn't help but show. Furthermore, Fang Zhao was the only son left behind by Second Uncle's own brother.
Hearing this Fang Zhao thought, In my heart, you are also children .
Can 45 years be considered old?
Oh, I'm over a hundred years old.
At the same time, his second auntie, who was oblivious to what Fang Zhao was thinking, felt moved. In the six years they had not seen Fang Zhao, he had matured and was much more settled. When she had opened the door and seen Fang Zhao, for a second she had been stunned. Fang Zhao had seemed a little different.
The Fang Zhao six years back had seemed as though he had drawn himself a circle. He would always distance himself from people and wear a guarded and alienated look. Now, the Fang Zhao in front of them… The feeling couldn't be described, but he was no longer the same as his past self from six years ago. Although still not that that warm, he no longer had that guarded behavior.
At that moment, the door opened. Second Uncle's eldest son, Fang Yu, and his second son, Fang Qi, came in carrying quite a number of items. Fang Yu was 20 this year and Fang Qi was 12.
Seeing Fang Zhao sitting on the sofa, Fang Yu's originally smiling disposition faded somewhat.
Second Uncle's eyebrows spiked up once more. "Why are you only back now? Did you have too much fun playing?!" He was displeased with the behavior of his two sons. He had told them early in the morning to come straight home after buying the stuff, but the two of them only came back at this time.
Twelve-year-old Fang Qi looked at the floor as his dad got angry. Fang Yu, on the other hand, seemed indifferent. Afterall, he was used to his dad's temperament already.
Probably because Fang Zhao was here, Second Uncle only said a little before stopping. Glaring at the two of them, he said, "Come over, this is your brother Zhao."
Compared to Fang Qi's, there was an obvious dissatisfaction in Fang Yu's tone.
Second Uncle's eyebrows shot up again, and he wanted to say something, but he was stopped by a tug from Second Aunt.
Fang Zhao did not mind Fang Yu's attitude. From his memory, Fang Yu's attitude was not without reason.
"Oh, right," Fang Zhao took out two boxes from his backpack and handed them over to the two brothers. "Here is your Memorial Day gift. I wasn't too sure what you guys would like now, so I asked my entire department before picking these out. I tried out my fellow colleague's version, the sound quality is quite good."
What seemed like a simple transparent case held two bean-sized items. They were shaped like the beak of a bird, part red, part black. The intense clashing combination of fiery red and jet black was eye-catching. For anyone familiar with earpieces, the color scheme would only bring to mind one company.
Fang Yu's and Fang Qi's eyes were fixated on the jet-black portion of the earphones. On them was a fiery red "S" shape.
"F-F-F-Fiery Bird earpieces?! F-f-f-for us?" The younger Fang Qi was so excited he'd started to stutter. If he had a tail, it would have started wagging non-stop.
Fang Yu tapped his younger brother on his head. In his heart, he felt disgusted at his brother for his turncoat behavior. However, his own eyes unconsciously kept looking at the earpiece.
Regardless of whether it was music, films, or games, earpieces were indispensable. In the New Era, whether one was young or old, everyone grew up using earpieces for the internet or various electronic appliances. Even if one was not proficient with earpieces, they would at least have a basic understanding.
Second Uncle also knew the name of "Fiery Bird" and told Fang Zhao, "Don't spend money recklessly!"
Second Aunt clapped Second Uncle on the back, giving him a look that said Keep your mouth shut if you do not know how to speak!
What reckless spending?! His nephew only did this out of kindness, and his own children were on the receiving end. What sort of tone was he using! It was no wonder that, back then, uncle and nephew quarreled often.
"Okay, enjoy your gifts. Fang Yu, go and tidy up your room." Second Uncle waved his two sons off.
"No need, I bought a place in Yanbei," Fang Zhao said.
"When did you buy it? Are you coming back to Yanbei to work?" a surprised Second Uncle asked.
"I just bought it. I won't be coming back to Yanbei to work, I just bought a place here, that's all,"
Second Aunt could immediately tell what his purpose was. Fang Zhao had bought the place as an occasional lodging for when he returned to Yanbei from time to time.
"Just stay here tonight. We haven't seen you in six years and we are all very happy to see you. Your second uncle woke up early just to buy groceries to prepare his speciality dishes—"
"Cough!" Second Uncle's face became redder and he decided to change the topic. After some thought, Second Uncle's smile faded and he firmly asked, "Little Zhao, have you done your military service?"
If Fang Zhao had enlisted for the military, there was no doubt someone would've informed his friends and relatives to prevent having uncontactable family events in the event of an accident. According the the information in the government records, Second Uncle would've received a notification, as he used to be Fang Zhao's legal guardian. He used to wonder if Fang Zhao had replaced his contactable personnel with someone else. He'd asked Fang Zhao about it a few times back when Fang Zhao had been in university but was ignored. Today, finally seeing Fang Zhao, he could not help but ask.
At the mention of this matter, Second Aunt also became serious.
"I haven't, but I will not be serving this year. My schedule is still a little tight," Fang Zhao replied.
"If it is like this, then it's okay. When the time comes, let Second Uncle know if you need any help. I have two classmates that I am close to who are working in the military. Every year, they will need those clearing their military service. Xiao Yu decided in spring that he was going to serve his military service too. He is in year three of university and is more than 20 years old. As his contact personnel, I hope to arrange for Xiao Yu to be sent to my friend's division." Second Uncle shared his own plan.
The place he hoped to arrange for Fang Yu to go was not an easy or comfortable place. It was a relatively newly opened planet and mineral resources were not the main priority. They were still busy with construction, so military service personnel would likely be sent to help with the construction there.
"Military service is to toughen him up, so a little hardship is fine. It's just that we would worry about other stuff." Having cleared their military service before, Second Uncle and aunt were both very clear what it was like. With someone to assist, a little suffering was manageable, and when training, it would polish one's temperament, which went a long way and helped even after the service was completed. What they were most afraid of was that the atmosphere among that batch would be bad and the place he got posted to would have little security, making it easy to be bullied. Fang Yu was not a very smooth person, and it gave them conflicting thoughts. Considering the impulsiveness of young people that age, there was no telling what sort of unpleasant events could occur.
Although Second Uncle knew people who were in the military and his old classmates were willing to help, when it came to arranging for a person to be transferred to their division, they were totally helpless.
When it came to military service, people in the New Era always had two responses. Find people or find money. Money had already been collected, and Second Uncle's family had spent recent times finding someone who could mediate and hopefully help get Fang Yu a posting at Second Uncle's old classmate's division.
Fang Zhao sighed in his heart. The way people in the New Era saved up money to obtain favorable postings was like how people before the apocalypse saved up money to buy a house. Some families started having a target and saving up even before their children were born.
"Have you decided on the place to go?" Fang Zhao asked.
"Yes. The place I told you about just now. It would be best if he could go there," Second Uncle said.
"You don't have to continue finding anybody for the time being. Let me see if I can settle the matter with Fang Yu." Fang Zhao sent a text to Duan Quanji. As he did not know if Duan Quanji was busy, he only sent a short text. Fang Zhao asked, "What is Fang Yu's student ID, Personal ID, and the place you want him to be sent to? Which divisions are your classmates assigned to?"
Second Uncle was a little too stunned to react, but his Second Aunt's reaction was quick; she replied immediately.
Beside them, Fang Yu, who had originally decided to head back to tidy up his room, stood rooted to the ground and looked in Fang Zhao's direction. He did not understand whether Fang Zhao was just talking big or if he really had the means, but as the matter concerned him, Fang Yu also listened in.
Duan Qianji could not have been very busy, as she returned Fang Zhao a text a few moments later.
"Xiao Zhao, Second Uncle understands that you wish to help, but with regards to this matter, a lot of things are not as simple as you think they are…"
Second Uncle had not yet finished speaking before Fang Zhao handed over a serial number.
"This serial number is Fang Yu's military assignment number. Check it out and see if it matches."