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Even though it was unintentional, he still personally killed that world’s male lead, causing everything he painstakingly worked towards to fall into ruin. Therefore, the moment he returns to the space between worlds and spots Zhao Xihe, his mind blanks.
Not heeding the faint ache in his body from experiencing death again, and not bothering to check the scores he got for this task, Sui Yuan springs towards the senior actor, wishing to vent his repressed anger and frustration.
The first time. This is the first time Sui Yuan discovers he can get so mad at a single person. This is also the first time he breaks his principle of ‘use words, don’t resort to violence’ as he thumps Zhao Xihe’s chest with a clenched fist.
A strained smile on his face, Zhao Xihe doesn’t attempt to dodge or block it, simply grunting in pain as Sui Yuan’s punch connects.
That one sound snaps Sui Yuan out of his anger. Recalling that the other man has also just experienced death – furthermore, at his own hands – and the chest area should still be sore, he finds himself hesitating to hit him again. However, he still feels the other is getting off too lightly after causing him so much trouble. Struggling with himself for half a day, he finally settles on glaring murderously before walking away to see his score, the air around him screaming “don’t care about you anymore.”
Zhao Xihe lowers his head and rubs his nose to conceal the upturned corners of his mouth. Seeing Sui Yuan’s pissed and sulky expression makes him want to draw the other into his arms and pamper him. It’s a shame that he has to restrain himself from going through with his desires.
Striding over to the globe of light, he stiffens as soon as he registers the score gotten from this task. Heaving a defeated sigh, he glances at Sui Yuan. Sure enough, the other’s marks was terrible. Sullen face, drooping shoulders and hanging head, he looks extremely pitiful. The system labelled 5237 seems to be comforting Sui Yuan as best it can, rubbing its head against its partner’s body as though it can physically elevate his misery. From time to time, it will turn to Zhao Xihe. Whether that system’s hostility is directed at 0007 or himself is debatable.
Standing there in silence, Zhao Xihe doesn’t walk away, simply waiting until Sui Yuan finishes moping. When the other eventually stirs and prepare to leave for the next world, Zhao Xihe shadows him wordlessly.
Although he refuses to look at Zhao Xihe, Sui Yuan is well aware of the other’s presence close behind, as well as the intense stare aimed at the back of his head. As he asks 5237 to prepare to send him into another world, Sui Yuan abruptly snaps his head towards Zhao Xihe. “Don’t follow me into the next world! I don’t want to see you anymore! You liar!”
Smiling faintly, Zhao Xihe replies, unperturbed, “Sorry, I can’t do that.”
Sui Yuan freezes, clearly not expecting him to be so shameless, with no trace of guilt in his words.
“Because…” Zhao Xihe shrugs and answers very honestly. “Because I like you.”
After experiencing three worlds together, Zhao Xihe has to admit that he indeed likes Sui Yuan.
He is fascinated by the other’s smile, his frowns and laughter. He likes the way Sui Yuan looks so serious when pondering ways to proceed through each assignment, the way he is obviously spitting in anger but forcibly restrains himself in order not to bring more pain to others. As long as Sui Yuan is here, everyone and everything else fades into the background. He can’t help exposing his real self in front of Sui Yuan and can’t bear to see the other suffering from pain, bullied by others, humiliated or cursed at. After obtaining the lowest score in his career, Zhao Xihe can no longer deny his feelings.
He knows that his every action in the previous world is all because he allowed Sui Yuan to lead him by the nose, resulting in him moving the story down a different path than what Sui Yuan desires.
This latest world that 5237 picked really made Zhao Xihe’s head ache. He entered it because of Sui Yuan, but couldn’t bear following the kind of scenes the original text had, requiring the male lead and supporting male lead to fight every time they meet with no chance of simply sitting down for a chat. Therefore, Zhao Xihe altered the storyline from the very beginning, while trying hard to conceal his true purpose from Sui Yuan.
Not giving the other any leeway to refuse, Zhao Xihe incessantly followed Sui Yuan, all the while thinking of ways to shorten the time of separation after Sui Yuan swallowed the source of darkness. If possible, he would kidnap Sui Yuan immediately after the deed and force him to undergo the purification ritual.
Either way, even if Zhao Xihe is well aware the other doesn’t have feelings for him, merely carrying this idea of ‘cannot let the male lead die’, he cannot help but feel joyous whenever Sui Yuan displays concern – whether it be an act or not. Sui Yuan can’t bear to harm him, stopping the blade before it claimed his life; he infiltrated the enemy headquarters in order to treat him; he doesn’t put his guard up around Zhao Xihe, allowing himself to be captured so easily; he doesn’t reject his hugs and kisses; he fell into despair and committed suicide after accidentally killing Zhao Xihe… Needless to say, Zhao Xihe does feel somewhat ashamed for deceiving his own self so blatantly. Still, these facts can only be buried deep inside his heart, never to be exposed.
Originally, he thought about tossing aside the storyline to live happily together with Sui Yuan after he was purified, but this dream was shattered when Sui Yuan made the firm resolve to die in the shrine.
Not wishing to kill Sui Yuan, and even more not wanting to let others kill him, Zhao Xihe eventually decided to leave that world first, at the same time placating his selfish nature by dying in Sui Yuan’s hands.
In the end, his actions inevitably led to Sui Yuan obtaining such low scores and earning him the other’s ire. Zhao Xihe doesn’t wish for the relationship between them to worsen, but it’s a pity that he understands his love for Sui Yuan will never be compatible with his (SY) determination to follow the script.
It is impossible for Zhao Xihe to simply be satisfied with interacting with Sui Yuan only in this space between worlds. He absolutely cannot bear the thought of each going to their own select worlds and spending years – decades, even – not being able to catch a single glimpse of the person he likes. Therefore, he will always follow Sui Yuan into whichever world he enters, play the role of the male lead and inevitably mess up the plot.
He likes Sui Yuan, so it is naturally impossible for him to act accordingly and become a couple with the female lead. In all the worlds, there is not a single individual willing to romance someone else in front of the person they love. Even an experienced actor like Zhao Xihe cannot do it.
Perhaps if he plays along with the plot, working diligently to keep the story mostly on track, he can be friends with Sui Yuan’s character, but that is merely friendship between colleagues. No one will fall in love with a person who is constantly getting together with someone else. And a naïve, low EQ person like Sui Yuan will certainly not like Zhao Xihe if he doesn’t pursue him single-mindedly. Being someone who has experienced countless relationships, Zhao Xihe was more aware about this point than anyone else.
Zhao Xihe wants Sui Yuan to like him. He wants love, not goddamned friendship.
Therefore, Zhao Xihe is destined to be the stumbling block in Sui Yuan’s path to promotion. In order to obtain this slice of paradise, in order to feel emotions again, he desperately wants to keep this person by his side. Before he discovers another better method, he can only keep following Sui Yuan and set himself against him, making the other man pay attention to and remember him forever, slowly imprinting his (ZXH) shadow in his (SY) heart.
Of course, just this isn’t going to be enough. He wants to make Sui Yuan understand that he is not trying to cause him trouble, or that Zhao Xihe finds him an eyesore. Rather, all this is because Zhao Xihe likes Sui Yuan. He knows this junior actor is soft-hearted and is willing to accept other’s goodwill, even if said kindness is a troublesome thing. By lowering his pride and sincerely declaring his feelings, he ensures that Sui Yuan will not hold him in contempt even if he might not be willing to accept his regards at this moment. And Zhao Xihe is not such an upright person that he wouldn’t stoop to exploiting those points.
“I like you,” Zhao Xihe repeats to the stunned Sui Yuan, a forced smile on his face. “Hence why I keep wanting to follow you and am incapable of sticking to the plot and getting into relationships with the female leads. I can’t help approaching you and let everyone misunderstand – no, one can’t exactly call it a misunderstanding, as it is my genuine intentions…”
The more Zhao Xihe talks, Sui Yuan can’t help retreating a few steps back, at a loss of what to say or do as a sliver of fright surfaces. While he has seen the caring, gentle look in Zhao Xihe’s eyes numerous times and has heard his tender declarations several times before, this is the first time he feels the senior actor is being genuine and honest, and he can’t help the rising sense of alarm.
Although he had mentally prepared himself for all sorts of reactions, Zhao Xihe is still unable to fully suppress the burst of disappointment and self-ridicule. “Which is why I am sorry. Even if I can’t get an answer from you, I still plan to follow along. And as before, I will absolutely not follow the plot and be intimate with the female lead.”
“I…you…” Sui Yuan doesn’t know what he should say. This situation is completely beyond him, and his three views are close to toppling…
“No need to say any more. I know what you are thinking.” Zhao Xihe shrugs, interrupting Sui Yuan’s stutter. “’I don’t like you’, ‘give up on me’, and so on, right? It’s a shame that I can’t do any of it.”
Unable to escape Zhao Xihe’s scorching stare, Sui Yuan eventually turns his head away, a hurried farewell tumbling from his lips before white rays of light envelops his body and whisks him away. Looking at the space Sui Yuan vacated in a rush, Zhao Xihe’s lips curl downwards, then shifts his gaze to his own system.
“Congratulations on your first rejection,” 0007 says in deadly earnest. Not waiting for its partner’s instruction, it opens the gateway leading to the exact same world Sui Yuan entered. “I look forward to your next attempt, master. I will definitely help you record the number of defeats you encounter.”
Zhao Xihe: “……No wonder 5237 dislikes you so much.”
0007: “……!!! Personal attacks are immoral! Taking your anger out on an innocent is not something a righteous person will do!”
Zhao Xihe: “I have never thought of myself as an honourable man. Besides, who is more lamentable? I, who dares to confess even if I know I will be rejected, or a certain rascal who don’t even dare open their mouth?”
0007: “……I will now transfer you to the next world. Please prepare yourself.”
Zhao Xihe: “This sudden change in topic is too obvious…”
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