Chapter 48 – Kala Snow Mountain (1)
As the garbage truck passed by, the workers swiftly packed and took away the rubbish from the trash cans. Jiang Yujin had been squatting across from the empty trash can for a long time, mourning his lost Helmet 3.0, lost in deep contemplation.
Xu Tonggui squatted beside him and eventually turned to say, “You’ve been squatting for quite a while. Want to stand up?”
Jiang Yujin looked at him, eyes drooping without much emotion, “My feet are numb.”
Xu Tonggui: “…”
Xu Tonggui helped him stand and guided him to a nearby bench. He glanced at the street not far away and then said, “Don’t move from here.”
Jiang Yujin eyed him cautiously, “I regard you as a friend, but you want to be my father?”
It seemed Citizen Jiang had quite an imaginative mind.
Xu Tonggui left and returned shortly after, holding something in his hand.
Jiang Yujin now possessed Helmet 4.0. His droopy eyes seemed to lift slightly, his gaze larger than usual, reflecting a pale orange sunlight, radiating vitality.
He looked at the person beside him and said, “I will cherish it for a lifetime.”
His determination was evident, but Xu Tonggui smiled, not entirely in agreement. Considering their brief encounter and the appearance of a new helmet, he felt this helmet’s lifespan might not be too long.
Jiang Yujin genuinely seemed delighted. He happily wore the helmet, mounted his electric scooter, prepared to leave. Just before departing, he turned back, waved, and casually said, “Let’s hang out later.”
Xu Tonggui stood there for a moment, and then he realized that the other party had taken the helmet and started running away.
Indeed, it matched Jiang Yujin’s style.
The scooter and vehicles all left the school premises, and later, a taxi stopped at the school gate.
The three high schoolers arrived again, finding emptiness where they expected an anomaly, and Liuling was nowhere to be seen. They climbed over the wall to the entrance and asked the security guard, finding out that the SIU had visited today, which eased their minds.
As long as the strange species didn’t fall into Zero’s hands, the three of them relaxed and left the school.
Xu Tonggui returned to the SIU and handed over the items to the department.
When Xu Tonggui was returning to the office, he happened to run into Xu Gao in the hallway, who, surprised, exclaimed, “Was today’s strange species very powerful?”
Despite numerous missions before, the returning figures never seemed to change much, but today, the disheveled hair made quite an impression.
Xu Tonggui casually touched his hair, his demeanor less sharp and piercing than usual, and replied, “Not a strange species, but definitely formidable.”
His ability in styling was indeed formidable.
The tall man walked off down the corridor, picking up his phone as he went. Xu Gao stood there for a while, pondering, unable to grasp the other party’s meaning.
However, none of that mattered much because tomorrow was a day off. Xu Gao picked up his phone and dialed his gossip-loving friend’s number.
The friend was on another call. When the call ended, Xu Gao dialed again, a smile on his face when it connected, “They’re rerunning ‘Jaws vs. Carnivorous Plant’ tomorrow…”
The person on the other end swiftly declined, citing a prior engagement.
Xu Gao’s smile froze on his face.
Jiang Yujin did have plans, plans set just before Xu Gao’s call.
When he left today, he did mention hanging out another day, but he didn’t expect that day to be tomorrow. Whether it was about a meal or not wasn’t critical; what mattered was Captain Xu reaching out, so he agreed.
He had been at school all day without a chance to eat. He slouched on the couch for a while, then remembered he had almost forgotten what the kitchen looked like, so he reluctantly got up.
Before getting up, he had sent a message to his big son, expressing the hope that he would return soon, mentioning a warm meal waiting for him, cooked by his caring father.
When Chen Jing received the message, he was still in the car. His expression changed slightly upon reading it.
Leaning forward a bit, he told the driver, “Can you drive a little faster, please?”
Zhang Xin and Xiao Pang glanced at his phone, finding it surprising that Jiang Yujin was actually quite nice sometimes.
Zhang Xin said, “In such a hurry?”
Chen Jing involuntarily twitched, “If I go back late, the kitchen will be gone.”
Xiao Pang: “?”
Zhang Xin: “?”
The driver, overhearing the conversation, thought it was a significant matter, so he pressed on the gas pedal and reached the destination in the shortest time possible.
When Chen Jing got back home, everything looked normal inside the house. The Xiaoxiaole player was still in the living room, and there was no food on the dining table.
The kitchen door was closed.
Frowning, Chen Jing opened the kitchen door. The person still playing Xiaoxiaole in the living room discreetly glanced at him.
As soon as the kitchen door opened, a strong burnt smell mixed with a peculiar sweet and salty aroma filled the air.
Citizen Jiang had impulsively tried cooking for half an hour, and the high schooler spent an hour cleaning the kitchen. Afterward, they managed to make a simple dinner.
Sitting at the dining table, Jiang Yujin praised him with a thumbs-up, “It’s really delicious.”
The high schooler chose to remain silent and glanced at the helmet placed by the door, asking, “What about the previous one?”
Jiang Yujin shifted his gaze and then focused on his food, “That’s a long story.”
The next morning, the person in pajamas struggled to get up long after the high schooler had left the house.
He got up, freshened up, mechanically changed out of his pajamas as if sleepwalking. His brain wasn’t fully engaged; it was the ingrained habits accumulated over the years that guided him. He turned on the TV and cuddled a big plush goose on the couch. Moments later, a sudden realization hit him, reminding him of his plans for the day. So, he got up again.
Captain Xu was quite adept at timing. He called just as Jiang Yujin stepped out, asking for the specific address, offering to pick him up downstairs.
Jiang Yujin declined the offer. So, Xu Tonggui asked, “Is your son at home?”
“No, he’s not,” Jiang Yujin replied, “But it’s not good for the neighbors to see you here.”
Captain Xu’s appearance here today would become gossip around the town tomorrow, saying that he had found a partner.
—Simply put, he couldn’t be seen by others.
Xu Tonggui sat in the car with his phone, feeling a strange sensation of being involved in an abnormal relationship with a family man.
It was a familiar place, a familiar tree-lined path. A figure in a simple white T-shirt appeared at the intersection, lazily waving before slowly approaching and opening the car door.
Putting on his seatbelt instinctively, he greeted with a smile, “Good morning.”
Captain Xu was on vacation today, not dressed in his usual combat uniform but in casual grey clothing.
Jiang Yujin did not hesitate to praise him: “Looking good.”
Though it was said to be ‘good morning,’ it was no longer morning by the time they arrived at their destination, coinciding perfectly with lunchtime.
Today was the generous Comrade Xu’s treat, and Citizen Jiang spent the entire day eating and drinking to his heart’s content.
Xu Gao described Captain Xu as cold and silent, akin to a humanoid refrigerator, quiet wherever he went. But Citizen Jiang held the opposite opinion.
As the sun, a fiery golden-red, descended onto the river beneath the bridge, the entire world, including everyone within it, was draped in warm hues.
The gentle and silent big dog looked most charming when he smiled.
Before the sun completely set, the two left the bridge. While heading back, Jiang Yujin caught sight of clothes illuminated by warm yellow light in a store and his eyes lit up.
Finally, Citizen Jiang gave Comrade Xu a piece of clothing with a puppy embroidered on it and ended his day of eating and drinking.
When they returned, it was still Driver Xu driving, still parking on the tree-lined road outside the street, and Jiang Yujin walked back on his own.
Today, the high schooler came back surprisingly early.
As Jiang Yujin walked downstairs, he noticed lights on upstairs, unlocked the door with his keys, and the first thing he saw was the high schooler quietly doing papers in the living room.
Upon his return, the other had just finished the last question, putting away the papers and books on the table.
Jiang Yujin swiftly slipped into slippers and appeared by the sofa in a few steps. He solemnly presented something to the high schooler.
A handheld bag.
After displaying it, he took out an item from the bag—a white shirt embroidered with a small calico cat head on the chest.
As he took out the shirt, a golden paper dropped.
Jiang Yujin picked it up, saying as he looked down, “This was handpicked, you know.”
Among the things that fell out was a voucher, similar to a scratch card. He had bought a shirt for both Xu Tonggui and the high schooler, conveniently hitting the line for obtaining a voucher. When paying, the cashier handed him this item, which he casually stuffed into his pocket, almost forgetting about it.
Chen Jing received the shirt, eyes lowered to the calico cat head on it, the hand holding the shirt slightly tensing. He glanced at the person opposite, who was starting to scratch the voucher.
Jiang Yujin scratched it with some enthusiasm but not too much. As it got tougher towards the end, he used the edge of the phone he had placed aside to continue. After the high schooler watched for a bit, he stood up and asked what he would have for dinner.
Honestly, he had eaten quite a bit with Comrade Xu earlier, but that didn’t hinder him from having more snacks. Jiang Yujin swiftly listed a few dishes.
Just before the high schooler went into the kitchen, a surprised “Huh” came from the living room. He turned to see Jiang Yujin on the sofa looking at him, smiling and saying, “I remember you’re taking a short break next week, right?”
That’s how it went.
Although the cashier had mentioned the possibility of winning a grand prize, Jiang Yujin himself hadn’t expected to win a three-day plateau tour for two from the scratch card. Even while having his meal at the table, he kept checking it repeatedly.
Afterward, he contacted the store and, with tears, the staff congratulated him on winning and provided the contact details of the travel agency.
Originally, the boss had decided that if no one won the prize, the staff would draw among themselves to distribute the rewards. They never anticipated someone would actually win the most valuable prize—the travel voucher.
The high schooler’s short break was promptly booked by Jiang Yujin without consulting.
It was evident this person was genuinely looking forward to the free trip. Days before, he had forsaken soap opera reruns, opting to organize their travel essentials in his room, practically counting down the days.
The high schooler had to be dragged along and managed to pack his things the day before departure.
The departure day required an early start. The high schooler set an alarm and got up on time.
When he woke, the person in the adjacent room was still deeply asleep, unmoved even after the high schooler prepared breakfast.
This person had warned him two days before to get enough rest but ended up staying up late watching soap operas, claiming it was an unmissable masterpiece. A few bottles of alcohol were missing from the fridge; he must have been sipping and watching, perhaps even staying up all night.
Jiang Yujin was unceremoniously pulled out from under the covers, feeling dizzy and disoriented.
During breakfast, he seemed on the verge of collapsing onto the table any moment, but when it was time to leave, he perked up.
He carried a suitcase and a backpack, turning to see the high schooler effortlessly carrying only a backpack, causing him to blink repeatedly as if finding it unbelievable.
Chen Jing: “…”
Chen Jing proactively took hold of the suitcase.
The travel agency’s vehicle arrived on time downstairs, followed by a series of transport changes from car to plane and then to a bus.
Tourist Jiang was in good spirits just after getting off the plane and told the high schooler, “Don’t sleep on the bus later, make sure to take a good look at the snow-capped mountains.”
Chen Jing nodded.
The adult man got hit with motion sickness and altitude sickness, right on the bus. While the high schooler didn’t sleep, he himself felt drowsy and couldn’t keep his eyes open.
As the bus climbed higher in altitude, after rounding a mountain, the adult man completely gave in, becoming an exhausted heap amidst the mountainous terrain.
“I’m dying. When we get back, remember to have the salon owner dye my hair nicely,” Jiang Yujin grabbed Chen Jing, starting to give instructions for the future, saying, “My bank card’s password is…”
Everyone around discreetly perked up their ears.
Chen Jing: “…”
Chen Jing glanced at the phone placed not far away, promptly stopping his words. With a deadpan expression, he said, “Someone sent you energy in Xiaoxiaole.”
Jiang Yujin, in his near-death state, jolted upright, instantly feeling better, breathing more evenly, taking the phone and focusing on Xiaoxiaole seriously.
The morning sun had already risen, casting a bright layer inside the bus on one side through the windows.
Although they were in a tourist bus, there were only a few people on board, scattered around. They witnessed something that made the person in front continuously exclaim in amazement.
It was the snow-capped mountains. As the bus navigated the road, they could see a vast expanse of snowy peaks in the distance. The white snow covered the mountains, shining under the sunlight.
A man sitting across the aisle noticed too. Ignoring all warnings, he rushed over, seemingly wanting to press against the window.
“Sir, the mountain roads are winding and dangerous. Please do not remove your seatbelt and move around!”
The tour guide at the front noticed the commotion and immediately approached, trying to persuade the man to return to his seat.
Even as he was pulled back to his seat, the man’s eyes remained fixed on the snow-capped mountains outside the window, his gaze unwavering.
Another young and enthusiastic tourist helped guide the man back to his own seat.
Jiang Yujin remained unaffected, continuing to focus on Xiaoxiaole. Chen Jing glanced at the man who was still leaning and looking their way through the window, his eyes flickered briefly, then subtly diverted his gaze.
Playing Xiaoxiaole smoothly could alleviate the agony of motion sickness and altitude sickness, but once stuck on a level, it only added to the distress.
Exhausted in various ways, the adult man slumped onto the table. Before he started reciting his bank card password again, Chen Jing said, “We’re almost there.”
Tourist Jiang chose to stay silent and endure, turning to look out the window.
The jagged edges of the snow-capped mountains, the greyish-black mountain surfaces veiled under the cold snow; the expansive sky and bright mountain ranges lay ahead.
Out of nowhere, Jiang Yujin remarked, “I saw you a long time ago.”
The only person the other party can speak to here was himself. Chen Jing caught on, asking, “The shelter?”
After returning from the Game to reality, all temporarily unclaimed underage individuals were taken to shelters. Those with families were gradually taken away, while some were rejected by their biological families.
In principle, families were not allowed to abandon children, but due to their special circumstances, refusing to take them back was considered reasonable under the temporary laws enacted.
Those rejected had to stay in the shelter until someone adopted them. Adopting these unstable individuals required significant commitment; many potential adopters wouldn’t just visit once but observe multiple times before making a decision. Making a decision didn’t guarantee things were settled, as there was still a possibility of returning the adopted child.
This person seemed to have arrived at the shelter by chance, saw him, and impulsively submitted an adoption application.
He thought it was their first meeting; earlier than that could only indicate the other person had been at the shelter when he wasn’t aware.
Among the potential adopters in the shelter, this person seemed the most unreliable and overly casual, but unexpectedly, while others were returning their adopted children, this person persisted for several years, holding on until now.
Jiang Yujin’s first encounter with the high schooler was not at the shelter, but he did not continue. He turned his head, continuing to rest on the table, watching the distant snow-capped mountains move in and out of view.
Merry Christmas to you all~! <3