Editor(s): PM87, Mariabel, marshmallow
Tianhe’s nightmare eventually ended as the Goddess of Dawn showed him an enchanting smile.
“Actually, I don’t understand,” Jiang Zijian said. “The stock market is a zero-sum game. You developed this trading software so that everyone can make money, but how can everyone make money from gambling? Where does the money come from?”
Tianhe’s mind wandered as he stared at the computer screen in front of him. It was his last day to submit his technical results.
Zijian, “Since this software is so good, Guan Yue will not sell it for himself, won’t he? Why not use it yourself to crush Warren Buffett into pieces?”
“Ga"!” the macaw shouted to Jiang Zijian.
Jiang Zijian understood Xiao Jin’s demands. If it shouted “A-Shares crashed again,” it meant it was frightened or perhaps asking for food. If it shouted “Guan Yue is dead,” it meant it wanted someone to play with. However, they currently couldn’t decipher what it meant when it shouted “Guan Yue is cold.” Jiang Zijian got up and added some nuts into its bowl.
“Would you like to listen to something?” Jiang Zijian asked. “Pro, do you like pop songs?”
Pro, “I’m very nervous at the moment, I want to listen to Bach.”
Jiang Zijian, “I suggest you also listen to either Richard or Johann Strauss once in a while. Also, don’t bully me for studying less! AIs’ don’t get nervous.”
Pro, “It is because Tianhe is very tense.”
Tianhe had been in this state for six hours already. Today, Aunt Fang went out. Jiang Zijian caressed Xiao Jin, untied the chain around its ankle, and took it out to give it a sand bath.
“It’s done!” Tianhe instantly roused himself from the computer and shouted, “It’s done!”
Tianhe tossed away the computer, collapsed on the sofa, and turned over like a madman. Afterwards, he took a pillow and waved it around as he shouted continuously while running in circles around the living room.
The macaw and Jiang Zijian were both startled at the same time. The sound caused Xiao Jin to fly away and it was able to escape because Jiang Zijian wasn’t holding it properly in the first place. Then, Tianhe hugged Jiang Zijian sideways and threw him onto the sofa. He frantically hit him with the pillow and exclaimed, “It’s done! My new generation of Epeus! Its soul is born!”
An earth-shaking waltz of “Voices of Spring filled the living room. Before Jiang Zijian could understand what was happening, he shouted wildly, “Your bird! Your bird!”
Tianhe adjusted his belt and looked down below at his crotch area. Nothing happened ah?
Jiang Zijian was lying prone on the sofa with Tianhe riding on his back. He struggled to hold out his hand and said, “The bird… has flown.”
The joyous moment created by the completion of Epeus' core system hadn’t dissipated yet when Tianhe and Jiang Zijian immediately got caught up in another anxious round of bird hunting. Tianhe said, “Don’t be nervous! The doors and windows are all closed! It must still be at home!”
When Aunt Fang came, Tianhe immediately sprang up and locked the door. As Aunt Fang learned of what had happened, she responded, “Don’t worry. Xiao Jin won’t fly away.”
Jiang Zijian almost went mad. The bird had flown out of his hands. If he lost it, he really couldn’t bear the responsibility. He turned towards Tianhe and said, “It got scared because of you!”
Tianhe, “It doesn’t matter. It also flew out once before, but it came back afterwards. Don’t be afraid, Zijian, it knows its home.”
The three of them looked around the house. The bird was supposed to at least make a little sound, but this wasn’t the case. Jiang Zijian asked Tianhe, “Are you sure it didn’t fly out?”
Tianhe, “I’m very sure. It must be hiding!”
Aunt Fang came up with an idea and said, “Don’t look around for it. It will only become more afraid. Everyone should return to do what they were supposed to do before this. Later, when it gets hungry, it will come out by itself.”
Tianhe, “That makes sense.”
Thus, Tianhe and Jiang Zijian sat on the sofa, pretending like nothing had happened. Tianhe ran his hand through his messy hair and said, “I have to get a haircut… Eh? When did you arrive?”
Jiang Zijian didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Today. It’s Saturday! I came at ten in the morning… You also had lunch with me!”
“Oh…” Tianhe hadn’t noticed Jiang Zijian’s existence at all. The two chatted but were still distracted as they monitored every nook of the house from time to time.
“You’ve been reminded a few times that you should install surveillance cameras in the house,” Pro said.
Tianhe, “I will definitely do that next time.”
“Alright. Tianhe, come and accompany me this Christmas,” Jiang Zijian said.
Tianhe thought about it. The software had already been completed. In addition, Qingsong functioned in accordance with its headquarters abroad, closing for ten days for Christmas and New Year’s. As long as the technical results were submitted to a third party for evaluation tomorrow, he had nothing else to do in the fourth quarter.
Jiang Zijian added in a melancholic voice, “You also need to rest, Tianhe. Do you know how much I miss you? I feel like I am losing you.”
“Okay, okay,” Tianhe hurriedly coaxed Jiang Zijian. Because Tianhe was immersed in his work in the last few months, Jiang Zijian had hardly seen him and could only inquire about his current situation through the chauffeur. He knew Tianhe was busy with work, so he hadn’t bothered him.
Jiang Zijian had few friends. Most of his classmates from Cambridge worked abroad. The rich second generation with similar family circumstances were both unworldly yet popularly vulgar. What’s more, they couldn’t understand his yearning to wander around the world. Wu Shun and the others were busy with their work, so he could only find Tianhe to lay bare his soul that had nowhere else to go.
“But I can’t be seen by him,” Tianhe said. “That would be too strange.”
“Starting Christmas Eve, there will be three consecutive days of celebration activities at the hotel,” Jiang Zijian said. “We can drink cocktails or listen to opera. Afterwards, you can help place the food order, and then I’ll give you tickets to a VIP box. The two of us will pretend to meet there by coincidence and that you want to hit on my doorman colleague, Wu Shun.”
“But I don’t want to hit on him!” Tianhe exclaimed.
“It doesn’t matter,” Jiang Zijian said. “Anyway, you will act like a rich second generation with sperm in his brain...”
Tianhe, “You’re too vulgar. What rich second generation? What sperm in the brain? Aren’t you talking about yourself?”
Zijian, “You even invited Xiao Kai to have dinner with you when we went to the foot bath center, so it’s reasonable to pretend that you want to hit on a doorman! It just so happens that we are colleagues. So, after that, everyone will meet back at the hotel and solve our previous grudges there. As a laid-back young master, in order to show off in front of Wu Shun, you will lavishly pay for mine, Wu Shun’s, as well as Xiao Kai’s expenses that day. Later on, we will casually eat and have fun, not afraid of revealing…”
Tianhe held his forehead. He had no choice but to nod. He looked around, but Xiao Jin was still nowhere to be found. Aunt Fang tidied up the pillowcases and then turned on the washing machine while the “Voices of Spring” still played in the background.
“Pro,” Tianhe said. “Haven’t you found Xiao Jin’s whereabouts yet?”
The Bluetooth speaker produced a sound as Pro replied, “I heard an indistinct bird’s call. I was analyzing where the sound waves came from, but it spread in a very peculiar spiral that requires time to decipher.”
Zijian, “Which direction?”
Pro, “To your left side.”
Tianhe, “Be quiet.”
Tianhe and Jiang Zijian got up at the same time. Pro said, “Go straight ahead.”
They walked on tiptoes as they detoured around the dining room. Pro’s voice switched over to the kitchen’s stereo, “It’s now close. It’s still talking.”
“A-Shares… crashed again… A-Shares crashed… again…”
Tianhe and Jiang Zijian lowered their heads as they reached the laundry room. Hearing a murky voice—the source of which was hidden, they momentarily felt their blood run cold. Tianhe first looked behind the washing machine but there was nothing there. Jiang Zijian patted Tianhe’s shoulder and motioned for him to look inside the washing machine.
Through the washing machine's transparent glass, the two watched pillowcases unceasingly rotate in rhythm with the music, “Voices of Spring,” that was playing in the background, as well as the writhing macaw inside.
Five minutes later, the macaw spewed out foam while lying on a towel.
“A, A-Shares… crashed…”
The parrot spewed out a mouthful of foam again.
“What should I do?” Tianhe cried out.
Jiang Zijian’s face was miserable; his heart was filled with the desire to die. Aunt Fang calmly brought a hair dryer, plugged it into the socket, and began to blow-dry the macaw.
Tianhe’s eyes were red. Aunt Fang said, “I called Dr. Lin. He cured Xiao Tian’s diarrhea last time. Don’t be upset now.”
Jiang Zijian heaved a deep sigh. “It’s all my fault.”
“Blame it on me,” Tianhe sadly said.
Aunt Fang, “Blame me. I didn’t look carefully. I didn’t find it hiding inside the washing machine. I’ll go and apologize to Guan Yue about this.”
Tianhe said helplessly, “I’ll tell him.”
Jiang Zijian gently caressed the macaw’s head. “Xiao Jin, you must hold on!”
The macaw kept twitching. “A-Shares… crashed… A-Shares…”
Tianhe had sniffled when his phone suddenly rang. It was Mario, informing him to go to the company because the people from Silicon Valley had already arrived. There was no point in Tianhe staying at home to monitor the situation, thus he asked Jiang Zijian to drive him to the company.
“Ai…” Jiang Zijian knew that the parrot was very important to Tianhe. He dejectedly lowered his head.
Tianhe, “It will certainly be alright. Don’t be sad now.”
Jiang Zijian nodded. He watched Tianhe enter the building and take the elevator. Behind him, a Spyker madly honked its horn, telling him to get out of the way. Jiang Zijian raised his middle finger at the inverted rear mirror. At the same time, Tong Kai, wearing sunglasses and a scarf, also pointed his middle finger at the owner of the Aston Martin in front of him.
There were only a few people who came to work today. It was almost Christmas, but the administration had arranged for some colleagues to be on duty.
In the CEO’s office, Guan Yue, Mario, and two program directors from Silicon Valley were waiting.
As soon as Tianhe entered the office, Guan Yue frowned.
Tianhe handed a copy to the two program directors, one of whom put it into a password-protected metal briefcase and then scrambled the password in front of Guan Yue. They would send it back to the United States office for a six-day evaluation. Guan Yue would grant them the password only after they had arrived at the other side of the ocean and started the evaluation process.
“You all don’t have holidays?” Tianhe asked them. “That’s tough work.”
Mario answered him, “Your development schedule has been delayed, otherwise they wouldn’t have to work overtime.”
A young program director smiled. “Don’t worry. Everyone is very curious about your work.”
“Then please,” Tianhe said.
“The Tidal Company will send you their evaluation results at noon, the day before the Gregorian New Year,” Mario informed him. “Until then, you can say your prayers to any God.”
“He doesn’t have to pray,” Guan Yue coldly interrupted. “He’s a God.”
Tianhe reluctantly smiled and shook hands with the two program directors.
“So I can have a holiday then.” Tianhe smiled. “I miss the holidays so much.”
During this time, Tianhe was really too tired. Work was indeed not easy. The two program directors said their goodbyes. Guan Yue was about to send Mario out when Tong Kai pushed the door and came in.
“Hey, adviser!” Tong Kai walked past with a pompous and flamboyant air, exuding the smell of curry-a remnant of his recent trip to India. He held two small envelopes in his hand. Throwing one of them to Guan Yue, he then turned and smiled cordially at Tianhe. “I came to congratulate you in advance on your impending success. I have confirmed the guarantee contract once again, but I have a very small request. You have to do me a favor. On Christmas Eve, you must help me pay off some bills. I promise it will not be too expensive… Eh? What’s the matter?”
Guan Yue looked at Tianhe quietly. Tianhe was already not in a good mood today. He thought for a moment and said, “Something happened to Xiao Jin.”
Two hours later, in Tianhe’s home, the veterinarians-Xiao Lin and four others from Guan Yue’s side-were gathered around the dining table and began a consultation. They used a small emetic rack to induce Xiao Jin into spouting out foam.
Guan Yue held the cat in his arms as he watched from the side.
Xiao Jin gave an “er” sound a few times and struggled to move its wings.
“There’s no danger to its life. We just need to make sure he doesn’t choke on the foam.” Xiao Lin lifted its claws and shook it twice. He shook out some water from its feathers and put a special oxygen mask—made for birds—on its face, for it to inhale oxygen.
Another vet nodded in agreement. “Macaws’ lives are very tenacious.”
“Rest assured,” another vet added, “this parrot is impervious to all kinds of poison. It will be fine.”
Hearing this made Tianhe and Aunt Fang relieved. Guan Yue reached out and gently poked at the parrot’s belly with his finger. In return, the parrot stared warily at Guan Yue.
Xiao Lin once again said, “It will recover in a few days. Don’t give it anything to eat for two days. Just give it some water with added nutrients to drink for now.”
“Thank goodness,” Tianhe replied.
Aunt Fang repeatedly expressed her gratitude as she sent the vets out, leaving the parrot who was lying in a small basket with its feet tied.
The parrot blinked its eyes a few times. Its mouth was covered with an oxygen mask, so it couldn’t speak, but it made small cooing sounds from its throat. It looked at Guan Yue and then Tianhe.
Pro, “He has something to say.”
Tianhe looked at the parrot suspiciously. Pro added, “I said ‘He,’ I’m referring to Guan Yue.”
Tianhe said calmly, “I’m sorry. I didn’t take good care of it.”
Guan Yue faintly replied, “To be born, to grow old, to get sick, and to die are all events bound to happen. Partings are all fated. Cheer up. I’ll take Xiao Tian home for a few days.”
Tianhe then took out the cat carrier. However, the cat was clearly not willing to leave Tianhe. It looked doubtfully at its two owners. Tianhe poked its balls gently and motioned for it to enter.
Guan Yue also gently poked its balls to nudge it inside.
Tianhe poked. Guan Yue poked. You poke. I poke. Every time the blue cat was poked, it moved forward a little, and once its head reached inside the carrier, it would suddenly stop. Guan Yue and Tianhe kept poking its balls, but the cat just poked back and wouldn’t go in.
“Do me a favor,” Guan Yue said in a deep voice. “I’ll let you come back after the holidays.”
Guan Yue inclined the carrier. The blue cat then lowered its head and went inside. He lifted the carrier and said, “We’ll go now.”
Tianhe looked at them with a puzzled look on his face.
The next day, Xiao Jin was indeed much better as the veterinarians had said. It was lying in a small basket on a velvet cloth and was covered with a handkerchief. Tianhe specially came over to see it before he went out. The parrot looked extremely vigorous and seemed like it wanted to say something.
“Stay well at home.” Tianhe kissed its little claw.
Today, Jiang Zijian’s hotel had started their three-day Christmas celebration and specifically invited a well-known Viennese music band to perform in the splendid hall on the sixteenth floor. Tong Kai didn’t know which string took the wrong line. He simply asked Tianhe to go there—to help pay their bills—which was the same exact reason as Jiang Zijian's.
As a result, Tianhe received two invitations. One from Tong Kai and the other from Jiang Zijian. Tianhe had no choice but to helplessly tell both parties that he would go. However, he didn’t want to expose his identity too much. He would just be drinking a cup of coffee nearby as he surveyed the situation, ready to rescue the show at any time.
Although, Tianhe did not know how he would do this.
Pro, “I will help you in any way I can.”
Tianhe, “Kneel and beg.”
Pro, “In that case, let’s change the subject. I don’t understand why you are so upset.”
Tianhe drove the car into the Inner Ring Road and replied, “Because I’m afraid Xiao Jin will die.”
Pro, “But death is inevitable. The average lifespan of a macaw is only sixty years.”
The sun shone splendidly on this winter day. Tianhe was wearing a windbreaker and gloves while driving intently.
“Because of parting,” Tianhe murmured. “Life and death, as Guan Yue had said, are all bound to happen.”
Pro, “Therefore, death itself is emphatically not sad. It is painful because of all the farewells-farewell to the world, farewell to people.”
Tianhe, “Ah! This is too philosophical. As far as I’m concerned, the most important thing is to live in the moment. However, I’m sure you’ll fully grasp this matter one day because your life is almost infinite.”
Tianhe stopped the car outside the main entrance of the Jiangman Wuzhou Hotel. The valet rushed over to him and bowed before taking the car and driving off. He stood outside the hotel and looked up at the splendid building. “Right, Pro. We will eventually part someday. For me and you, as long as we leave behind good memories of us living in the moment together, then no matter what happens in the future, our time spent on earth wouldn’t have been in vain.”
Pro, “I just want to remind you that many of the quarrels in your relationship with Guan Yue were not necessary.”
Tianhe impetuously replied, “You seriously didn’t understand what I said. I said, ‘in the moment’ only ‘in the moment,’ not including the future… I really don’t understand why they must ask me to participate in this Christmas celebration.”
Pro, “As your friends, they all think you work too hard, so they want you to take a day off and participate in recreational activities.”
Tianhe walked into Jiangman and looked around.
Jiang Chaosheng had a rather baroque aesthetic, having decorated his five-star luxury hotel chain in the style of the Louvre. Walking through the revolving doors, he was greeted by the “amazing” Creation of Adam, in which the clouds of Genesis were surrounded by numerous cherubs flying in all directions.
Two long and wide columns of stairs curved upwards from the ground, extending from the east and west and meeting at the center. A pure gold Ferrari shone under a Christmas tree in the lobby. There were twenty-two luxury shops stationed on the lobby's first floor, with over ten thousand square meters of space; all glittering with gold. The crystal chandelier hanging in the center was nearly ten meters long, reflecting the vertiginous color rays. Every time Tianhe came to Jiangman, he always felt like he had entered Dubai.
“If all these things were where they should be,” Tianhe murmured, “it would be better. However, forcing things together is a little… a little… Forget it. No comment.”
On the third floor, in Jiangman’s private club, Jiang Zijian and Wu Shun changed into their respective doorman’s livery while chatting on the sofa. A row of hotel managers dressed in formal attire were lined up on both sides in front of them.
Wu Shun took off his doorman’s hat and smilingly said, “How is it? Do I look like one?”
Tianhe reached out and arranged the hat properly for Wu Shun. Jiang Zijian, with a coffee cup in hand, smiled. “This must be the most unforgettable Christmas of your life. I have to see if my little sweetie’s here… Um, he said he didn’t get on the subway and had to wait for the next one. Come, Tianhe, here. You can swipe this later.” He handed Tianhe his card.
Wu Shun, “Great! To be honest, I’m a little nervous right now. I hope sister-in-law doesn’t see through me.”
Tianhe, “It is not certain whether it is a sister-in-law or a brother-in-law.”
Jiang Zijian looked at Tianhe menacingly and tried to retrieve his card, but Tianhe moved it out of his reach before he could touch it.
Jiang Zijian said in one breath, “I’m sure it’s a sister-in-law! Sister-in-law isn’t so smart! Right, Tianhe?” He slapped Tianhe’s thigh.
Pro, “I’ve calculated that there’s a 79% probability that something awkward will happen within the next twelve hours.”
Tianhe, “Well, Merry Christmas. It doesn’t actually make much of a difference whether I’m here or not.”
Wu Shun smiled. “I wanted to invite you to the concert since I haven’t seen you in a while. I was also about to invite you out for a chat.”
Tianhe was helpless. However, Wu Shun really seemed to have put him in his heart, which also made Tianhe’s heart well up with warmth.
An Audi R8 stopped outside the hotel. Guan Yue got out and the valet immediately took over to park the car.
Guan Yue entered the hotel and sent a message to someone while looking around at the crowd from under the Christmas tree. Then, he walked over to the nearby coffee shop that was located on an elevated platform behind the water screen. There, he sat down and waited.
“Come on!” Jiang Zijian said. “Everyone, let’s start! Let’s move!”
Six senior managers with an average height of 185 and a face value of 90 surrounded Tianhe, Jiang Zijian, and Wu Shun as they entered the elevator. When they got to the lobby, they dispersed and went to their respective posts. Tianhe calmly walked past them.
Pro, “Tong Kai’s calling.”
“Answer it,” Tianhe said.
“Hey, little tailor,” Tong Kai’s voice sounded. “I’ll be at the hotel soon. Did the waiter deliver the ticket?”
Tianhe got up and walked to a corner of the coffee shop and sat down. From this angle, he could see the hotel’s entrance.
Tianhe, “Have you decided to confess your identity to the little handsome doorman today?”
Tong Kai, “I admit you’re right. I can’t always deceive him like this. Today, perhaps, I will find the most suitable opportunity to tell him, but I still need courage.”
Tianhe tilted his head sideways and couldn’t help but look around again. On the other side of the water screen, he saw a vague figure sitting and waiting for someone.
A waiter came over with Tianhe’s coffee; he placed the tray on the table and politely said, “Hello. Here is Mr. Tong’s ticket. He told me to bring it to you first.”
Tianhe nodded and motioned for him to put it down as he looked towards the hotel lobby. Wu Shun and Jiang Zijian had reached the entrance and were bowing to the guests who came in. Jiang Zijian came forward when Tong Kai entered the hotel.
“Hey!” Tong Kai smiled.
Jiang Zijian also wore a cheerful expression. Tong Kai paused at the entrance and then both of them looked at each other.
Tong Kai, “......”
Pro, “Tong Kai’s heartbeat has just gone up to one hundred and eight.”
Tianhe, “Are you so bored that you cracked a lawyer’s bracelet?”
Pro, “A curious AI has it all.”
Jiang Zijian was not only handsome in appearance but also tall and straight in stature, with slightly upturned buttocks, broad shoulders, strong waist, and long legs. Jiangman's uniform for the guards and doormen were meticulously designed. The long black-and-white double-breasted trench coat set off the beautiful outline of his shoulders and waist, a gold-plated nameplate was pinned on the front of his chest, and he wore white gloves. He was simply a handsome lover that all the girls would fall for.
During the time when he was studying in Cambridge, Jiang Zijian was selected to participate as the Equestrian Honor Guard of the Royal Knights. He also accompanied the Royal Family on several occasions and worked very hard on etiquette training for a few months. On weekdays, Jiang Zijian was always teased by Tianhe. However, when he was serious, even Tianhe had to admit that Jiang Zijian’s words and deeds were more appropriate than his own.
Otherwise, how could he achieve his reputation as a Pile Driver?
Today, Tong Kai came to the hotel casually dressed in a white shirt with a student's wool vest over it. When he saw Jiang Zijian, he was so startled that he froze. He couldn’t take a step forward and his heart thumped wildly.
Jiang Zijian smiled and motioned for Tong Kai to come in so as to not block the way.
Wu Shun observed the two men. Tong Kai looked at Wu Shun and smiled softly. Tong Kai’s clear and bright spirit made him resemble a student.
“You came so early,” Jiang Zijian said.
“Well, yes,” Tong Kai replied. “I had nothing to do after reviewing, so I came ahead of time.”
“Missed me?” Jiang Zijian chuckled.
Under Tianhe’s advice, Jiang Zijian changed his manners towards Tong Kai. The socialite seemed a bit lukewarm when meeting various flirtations.
Tong Kai took a deep breath and smiled. “When will you get off from work?”
Wu Shun stared at Tong Kai and then beckoned to Jiang Zijian. He slightly raised his eyebrows, showing an inquiring expression. Jiang Zijian showed a totally different personality when he was working; he only spoke a little and was very polite. He simply nodded to Wu Shun. Tong Kai immediately interpreted the tacit understanding between the two of them.
Wu Shun asked, “Is it him?”
Jiang Zijian responded “yes.” From this detail, Tong Kai judged that Jiang Zijian must have mentioned him to his colleagues. At that, his mood immediately brightened.
Today’s script, with the help of Tianhe’s advice, shouldn’t go far too wrong.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat, Joyce and Caro.