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    Han Huang often came to visit Lin Shuicheng.

    He knew his boundaries and didn't visit too frequently. When he did, their encounters were never awkward. They would usually care for stray cats together, or Han Huang would invite Lin Shuicheng to watch his debate competition, or ask for his assistance in reviewing his thesis.

    Sometimes Lin Shuicheng would decline, while other times he would agree to help.

    Observing that Lin Shuicheng spent most of his time at home, feeding cats and playing matching games, Han Huang once asked if he wanted to join the animal rescue organization at school.

    Decades ago, there had been an abandoned zoo near Star University due to insufficient funding. With sick animals left uncared for, the students organized a public performance to raise funds, providing a dignified end for these creatures. Later on, they also took in stray animals. Today, the Animal Protection Association of Star City Alliance University was a well-known rights organization across the entire alliance. Students united stray cats and dogs, ran cat and dog cafes, and produced merchandise and advertisements for small animals. All income and expenses were transparent, and the group was self-sufficient, with any surplus funds allocated to animal and environmental protection.

    Han Huang said, "I originally joined to learn management and coordination skills. My father insisted I join since Star University's Animal Protection Association has grown from a student club into a registered rights guild and foundation. Have you considered joining, Senior? It's not much work, and you can meet many people... Oh, Senior Sister Xu Mengmeng is also a member!"

    Lin Shuicheng replied, "Thank you, but I'm not in the mood to go out recently. There's no need."

    Reading Lin Shuicheng's message, Han Huang wanted to say something but held back. Instead, he searched for Xu Mengmeng's contact information.

    "Ah? You're asking about Junior Brother Little Lin? I haven't been in touch with him for a while. Has something happened to him?"

    "No, no, Senior Sister. I just wanted to inquire. I thought you two were close friends and might know about his recent situation."

    Han Huang once encountered Lin Shuicheng and Xu Mengmeng at a restaurant, assuming they were close friends.

    Xu Mengmeng replied, "No, Little Lin and I just had a casual meal together. We're not particularly close friends, to be honest. Recently, our department was temporarily closed, and I haven't been able to get in touch with him. I'm not sure how he's doing. I didn't want to bother him, assuming he might be too busy."

    Han Huang frowned, "Does Lin Shuicheng not have any friends here?"

    After some thought, Xu Mengmeng tried to recall, "Well... I don't think so. He was originally from the Jiangnan branch, right? I've never seen any of his classmates come over to visit... But he does have a boyfriend! He's very handsome, probably a former soldier. I remember seeing him pick Lin Shuicheng up a few times."

    "I understand. Thanks for telling me, Senior Sister."

    Han Huang put down his phone, his brows deeply furrowed.

    A student council member leaned in, asking, "What's wrong, President? Did something not go well with your relationship? I heard that you visited God Lin after he moved here a few days ago?"

    Han Huang rubbed his head. "That's not it."

    Pausing for a moment, he asked with a frown, "If someone... doesn't have many friends and isn't keen on going out during holidays, could there be potential issues with them isolating themselves like this?"

    The council member hesitated, "You're talking about God Lin, right? I don't think there would be any problems. Isn't that how researchers usually are? They're like otakus... Of course, God Lin is undoubtedly the most attractive research otaku in our school!"

    Han Huang still frowned.

    The operator said with a chuckle, "Oh, come on, you're just being overly anxious because you care. How could something happen to God Lin, such a capable person?"

    "Never mind, you wouldn't understand," Han Huang said. "Remember to turn off the electricity and water in the department office. I have an appointment this afternoon, so I'll go take a look."

    "Ugh! Worrying about the worst here and then going on a date!" The operator spat at his back. "People in love are so overly sentimental!"

    Han Huang had arranged to meet Lin Shuicheng in the afternoon to deworm and vaccinate a few cats.

    When he knocked on Lin Shuicheng's door, he found him still in pajamas. Seeing him, Lin Shuicheng was slightly surprised. "Why are you here?"

    Han Huang felt a bit odd but still told him, "Senior, we scheduled to deworm and vaccinate a few cats this afternoon."

    "I remember now. Sorry, I forgot. I was just thinking that there was something I hadn't done," Lin Shuicheng rubbed his temple, said 'wait a moment,' and then went back to his room to change and get ready. He put on his shoes and headed out.

    The two of them caught the cats and stuffed them into the car's backseat before driving to the pet hospital.

    As Lin Shuicheng struggled to lock the car, Han Huang noticed that he hadn't activated the AI control system. He asked, "Senior, are... you alright?"

    Lin Shuicheng took a deep breath. "Sorry, I've been sleep-deprived these few days and have a slight fever, so my reaction isn't that good."

    Han Huang didn't say anything and accompanied him to carry the cat upstairs.

    The little gray cat was found to have a bit of ear mites and needed separate medication. Before writing the prescription, the doctor asked Lin Shuicheng which tier of medication he preferred: "The first one is a bit more expensive but works faster with minimal irritation."

    Lin Shuicheng replied, "Let's go with that one."

    The doctor wrote out the prescription and instructed him to get the medication and pay, as there were still a few cats that needed their vaccines. Nodding, Lin Shuicheng entrusted the remaining cats to Han Huang and went to retrieve the medicine himself.

    The pharmacy was downstairs. With the prescription in hand, Lin Shuicheng descended and was about to join the queue when an elderly man stopped him. "Excuse me, young man, could you teach me how to use this machine? I'm not sure how it works."

    The trembling elder held his medical card in front of him, swaying it back and forth. On his back was a small airline cage containing a weak parrot.

    The ground floor was brightly lit, with large glass windows that allowed a peculiar, dusky yellow light to filter in, resembling both sunset and sunrise. It was as if the light had passed through a water filter, muting the sounds of others around them into a gentle hum.

    The elder's lips kept moving, but Lin Shuicheng realized he couldn't understand a word he was saying—each individual word was clear to him, but when strung together, their meaning escaped him. He instinctively grasped the old man's dilemma: he was unsure how to cancel his appointment using the self-service machine and reschedule with another specialist.

    Guiding the elder through the process, they successfully completed the task. The grateful senior returned to thank him.

    Now Lin Shuicheng understood what the young man was saying: "Thank you, lad. My bird is fifteen years old. If it weren't for its illness, it would express gratitude more fluently than I."

    The filter was lifted, and the sounds from the crowd swelled into his ears, suddenly booming like thunder. This was followed by intense tinnitus, bringing with it sharp pain.

    Lin Shuicheng clutched at the base of one ear, pressing hard against the painful spot with his fingers, which trembled slightly.

    Someone walked past him from behind, while someone else moved away in front of him. There were doors both behind and before him, and the steps outside were identical to those inside. He couldn't make sense of the direction people were heading.

    He couldn't recall why he had come here.

    - Why did I come down to the first floor?

    Lin Shuicheng bit down hard on his fingertip, and the pain finally stirred some clarity in his mind.

    Looking down, he saw the medical report in his hand, which bore the name "Fu Luoyin."

    - When's my birthday, Lin Shuicheng? Don't worry if you get it wrong.

    - What did you just call me? Say it again?

    ——Lin Shuicheng, my little kitten, where do you get all these sorrows from?

    The name "Fu Luoyin" was like an alarm bell, a totem in films, a reference between dreams and reality, slicing through his muddled thoughts with the flash of lightning.

    He had given this name to a small cat.

    Lin Shuicheng jolted awake, gripping the medical chart tightly.

    Three meters in front of him, the words "Pharmacy" were engraved clearly and solemnly.

    When Lin Shuicheng returned, Han Huang was assisting the doctor in restraining the howling mess that was the Cooking Sergeant, preparing to administer a vaccine.

    The leader was accustomed to grand scenarios — it was a cat that had weathered several storms. Today, it was merely here for an leisurely visit, already curled up on the stool and dozing off.

    The little gray cat weaved around the commander, endeavoring to nuzzle its head against him for comfort, but alas, it was repeatedly swatted away by the commander's paw.

    Lin Shuicheng retrieved the little gray cat and gently embraced it, deftly unscrewing the ear mite medication before administering the drops with utmost care.

    "Fu Luoyin," the feline, behaved relatively well. Lin Shuicheng held it with one hand while swiftly administering the medicine with the other. The cat's ears twitched, and he gently rubbed them to help spread the liquid. After both ears were treated, the little gray cat stumbled down, vigorously shaking its head. In its frenzy, it accidentally stepped on the leader, who then playfully swatted at it with a few paws.

    As evening approached, Lin Shuicheng, as usual, attended to the feeding of his feline companions.

    It was time for each to return to their respective homes, and the chief strolled leisurely into his room. The cats outside lingered for a while before they, one by one, began to disperse.

    Lin Shuicheng watched the small gray cat at the foot of the wall for a while, hesitated, then crouched down and gently reached out his hand.

    The little gray cat approached, sniffed at the palm of his hand, then looked up at him with its tiny eyes, which were filled with great curiosity.

    Lin Shuicheng effortlessly scooped him up and, upon entering the room, made sure to close the door behind them. "How about staying with me for a while? Your ears are unwell, and it'll be easier for me to tend to them here."

    The little gray cat was unaccustomed to being held, and it squirmed, freeing itself from his embrace. It then began to cautiously sniff around the area, wandering about, but showed no intention of leaving.

    The commander stood on a raised platform, meowing with a certain wariness.

    Lin Shuicheng slit open a pillowcase and slipped it over a large corrugated paper bowl, fashioning a cozy nest for "Fu Luoyin" as well.

    "Depression can manifest in various ways, including an inability to concentrate, potentially leading to sleep disturbances such as insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, or waking up too early. Conversely, some may experience excessive sleepiness and constant fatigue, making it challenging to stay alert. A segment of individuals may lose their appetite, having no desire to eat, while others might exhibit increased hunger, resembling binge eating behaviors. A decline or loss of motivation may follow, to the extent that even the will to get out of bed is diminished, subsequently affecting other social functions. In more severe cases, hallucinations, illusions, and memory impairments may occur, like suddenly forgetting what one is doing. These episodes can vary in duration, leaving the person feeling as if they have abruptly arrived at a place, much like a blackout from alcohol consumption. They often find themselves unsure of their location or purpose."

    The doctor said to Fu Luoyin, "Madam previously experienced hallucinations and auditory illusions. Now, under medication, she's mostly just lethargic. We need to switch her medication and closely monitor her response. Should you notice any abnormal changes in her condition, inform me immediately. Those in the arts tend to be more sensitive and emotionally rich. During this period, it would be advisable to control her exposure to books, films, and newspapers. It's best to avoid literature with negative themes."

    "I understand. My father and I aren't often at home, so I'll make sure they take good care of my mother," Fu Luoyin said. "Thank you, Doctor, for your hard work."

    He stood up to see the guest off, escorting them all the way to the door.

    Chu Jingshu's condition fluctuated, and Fu Luoyin's unexpected visit today surprised everyone in the household.

    Unlike her previous hysterical outbursts or awkward encounters, Chu Jingshu only wept silently when she saw him today, unable to stop her tears.

    Though she didn't say a word, Fu Luoyin could still sense some inexplicable emotions in her gaze directed at him, such as resentment, regret, and perhaps even envy.

    The butler and nanny hurriedly took Chu Jingshu back to her room.

    The butler came over to serve tea. "Young Master, why not take a break? Since Madam is resting, would you like something to eat?"

    However, Fu Luoyin veered off topic. He glanced upward towards Chu Jingshu's room on the upper floor and spoke softly, "I can't recall if it was a book or a movie, but there was a story about a family with twins. The mother favored the elder one, but he ended up passing away. One day, the younger son got into an argument with his mother. She asked him, 'Why did it have to be you who died? Wouldn't it have been better if it were you instead?'"

    The butler's face paled. "Young Master..."

    "My mother wouldn't say such a thing," Fu Luoyin smiled. "She might think it, but she wouldn't voice it. If she doesn't say it, I'll pretend I don't know, and you all should do the same."

    He returned home today purely because he couldn't stay at Lin Shuicheng's place.

    Zhou Heng had arranged for cleaners to come over, and since he disliked the noise, he decided to drop by Chu Jingshu's place instead.

    As for the information on Lin Shuicheng he wanted, it had been delivered to him earlier that afternoon.

    Fu Luoyin made himself a cup of tea and retreated to his own room to peruse it at leisure.

    He had looked into Lin Shuicheng's background before, but not thoroughly. As the newly appointed chairman of Fu's Military and Technological Corporation and one of the future core leaders of Department Seven, anyone who came into contact with him would have their backgrounds thoroughly vetted to ensure they weren't corporate spies or individuals with ulterior motives.

    Zhou Heng had screened Lin Shuicheng's information and merely informed him that there were no issues. Satisfied, Fu Luoyin then proceeded to present Lin Shuicheng with a black card at the hospital.

    He recalled Zhou Heng mentioning that Lin Shuicheng's family was impoverished, struggling financially.

    Thus, he chose the simplest and most direct approach to acquire him—money for goods, a clean transaction.

    This was the first time he was giving Lin Shuicheng's credentials a thorough review.

    He turned to the first page and noticed that Lin Shuicheng's birthplace and verification documents were missing. The timeline began directly from when he was three years old. A photograph was attached to the printed records, depicting Lin Shuicheng at that age.

    A chubby toddler sat on the steps, tilting his head naively as he gazed at the camera, revealing his round, fair cheeks that gave him a girlish charm, making him look adorable.

    Fu Luoyin couldn't help but smile.

    He had assumed that someone with Lin Shuicheng's personality might have been somewhat matured at a young age, but it turned out not to be the case.

    Lin Shuicheng had been a perfectly normal child, except for being much more intelligent than most.

    He didn't have any memories before the age of five. Neighbors once thought he was a foolish child, but once he started remembering things, he astonished everyone by consistently topping every exam.

    While many would say that extreme intelligence often leads to injury, Lin Shuicheng was well-protected by his family. He didn't become arrogant due to his excellence nor did he feel inferior because of his family's poverty or the absence of his mother.

    Despite being denied twice for early promotion and being sought after by multiple schools for middle and high school admission, Lin Shuicheng chose to stay in his hometown for high school, where he could receive a full scholarship and save his family the cost of visiting him.

    Fu Luoyin observed that among the schools that had offered Lin Shuicheng opportunities was Star University's affiliated high school, which happened to be his alma mater.

    Although Lin Shuicheng's first seventeen years of life weren't entirely smooth sailing, they were filled with joy and flavors. He was doted on by his father and grandfather while exercising a balance of kindness and authority over his younger brother.

    The words were simple yet strangely evocative, allowing Fu Luoyin to vividly picture the scene: a child growing into a youth, and then maturing into a young man, with the warm glow of countless lanterns from a small town at his back, the jostling sounds of desks scraping against each other, the clamor and singing. Lin Shuicheng had faced disciplinary action for defending Lin Deng in a fight, even reciting a self-criticism before the entire school; yet, that punishment was later rescinded when Lin Shuicheng swept all gold medals in that year's Alliance Training Camp's Mind Games Competition—such an achievement had not been seen in nearly three decades at Dongtong Experimental High School.

    That year, esteemed institutions such as Xingda Affiliated High School and Keda Affiliated High School, known for their assembly of prodigies and elites, were unexpectedly outshone by an obscure, little-known school. The winter enrollment at Dongtong Experimental Middle School was exceptionally fervent that annum.

    He could envision Lin Shuicheng following his equally nervous teacher to a competition, a young man on the cusp of greatness, brimming with youthful vigor and a touch of innocence in the depths of his eyes. He could almost picture the number of people who would be drawn to him. In his mind's eye, Fu Luoyin sketched out what Lin Shuicheng must have looked like in high school, and upon turning the page, found his mental image to be spot on.

    Lin Shuicheng was dressed in his school uniform, looking neat and fresh with an air of youthful innocence. A glint of self-assurance and pride shimmered in the depths of his eyes.

    At this point, he exuded a composed and modest demeanor without appearing rigid or dull. Lin Shuicheng seemed like the kind of student that all teachers would adore.

    Fu Luoyin found it indescribable; he couldn't articulate why these few sheets of paper, with their pale and mundane words, had become so enchanting. Every character and every space between them made him find them endearing, unable to let them go.

    He kept reading them over and over again, and somewhere deep within his heart, it was gradually softening. It was as tender as the belly of a feline leader's cat.

    For a fleeting moment, he even entertained the thought that Lin Shuicheng's act of defiance, their breakup, might be forgivable—wasn't a breakup just that? Something that could be chased after once more.

    Lin Shuicheng was human, and humans had tempers. Even a cat would scratch a bit when it turned its back, so why couldn't Lin Shuicheng mention a breakup to him?

    Fu Luoyin continued to read on.

    As he turned another page, Fu Luoyin's gaze softened slightly.

    Family Relationships:

    Biological Mother: Wang Huaiyue, involved in drug-related activities; whereabouts unknown after compulsory rehabilitation.

    At the age of twelve, Lin Shuicheng lost his grandfather.

    At seventeen, upon graduating from high school, Lin Wang and his younger brother Lin Deng were involved in a car accident. Lin Wang passed away, while Lin Deng fell into a coma and became a vegetable.

    The details of the accident were a tragic coincidence. On a rainy day on a mountain road, Lin Wang and Lin Deng were driving normally, signaling with their horn and lights before turning. However, a large truck was approaching from the other side, driven by a drunk driver. Due to the blind spot, the truck collided head-on with their smaller vehicle, causing both cars to roll off the cliff.

    Lin Wang died instantly, his final action being an attempt to shield Lin Deng, his youngest son, in his arms. But against the force of steel, flesh proved fragile. A twisted metal rod pierced through his heart and bones, then deeply impaled Lin Deng's scapula, going all the way through.

    Thanks to the airbag, Lin Deng survived but has remained unconscious until now.

    The Alliance later ruled that the truck driver was fully responsible for the accident. However, the driver was an escaped criminal, without any legal identity, leaving no one to take responsibility. Ultimately, a judge personally covered the funeral expenses for Lin Shuicheng's family, while his high school competition teacher assisted him in organizing the ceremonies.

    Afterwards, Lin Shuicheng entered Star University, attending classes at the Jiangnan branch while also caring for his brother.

    Lin Shuicheng's workload during his undergraduate years surpassed that of many professionals with years of experience. He single-handedly undertook over forty projects in drug intermediate synthesis. His clients were sometimes struggling graduate students or pharmaceutical companies. He didn't ask for co-authorship on papers; all he wanted was money.

    For Lin Shuicheng back then, money carried immense weight.

    During his junior year, he was hospitalized four times within three months due to overexertion and anemia. He burned his life like a match to generate light and warmth.

    It was a year after Lin Shuicheng's graduation when they met. By then, he had become more financially comfortable and even saved a considerable sum. It was also around this time that Lin Shuicheng decided to stop taking on such strenuous projects and prepare for a postgraduate program in quantum analysis.

    No wonder Lin Shuicheng could repay him so much money without using the card he had given him.

    As for that fateful night they met, whether it was due to alcohol-induced recklessness, love at first sight, or something else, Fu Luoyin couldn't tell.

    He began to understand how Lin Shuicheng's character had been shaped. A gifted individual who had experienced society's hardships alongside his family from a young age, accustomed to solving problems alone, he naturally carried a sense of pride and stubbornness, refusing to bend or seek help.

    He had recognized this aspect of Lin Shuicheng's personality early on but never pondered why he was like that.

    He merely found it amusing, as if Lin Shuicheng was a little kitten.

    A well-behaved and affectionate kitten, one cared for its soft fur, not bothering to delve into its thoughts. Such a tiny creature, even if it resisted, could be easily held in one's palm.

    Reading this, Fu Luoyin's heart ached intricately, even his stomach was affected.

    He closed the file and took a deep breath.

    Reaching for his phone, Fu Luoyin found Lin Shuicheng's number. His finger hovered above the screen for a long while but ultimately didn't press it.

    He realized that he was actually afraid.

    After the cleaning was completed, the housekeeper informed Fu Luoyin to inspect the results.

    Pushing the door open, Fu Luoyin noticed that the house looked largely the same, only slightly brighter.

    The housekeeper explained, "Sir, you don't have many things here. You've just moved in, haven't you? We feel a bit embarrassed about charging you for the cleaning fee, as others usually have piles of belongings everywhere. Your place is spotless, so tidy it's like a hotel room, hahaha."

    "Nothing at all?" Fu Luoyin entered quietly, changing his shoes, and scanned the surroundings.

    Indeed, there weren't any significant changes, as everything inside was already sparse.

    Suddenly, he realized the difference between this place and Su Yu's home, Dong Shuoye's residence, or even his parents' villa.

    A place that feels like home is bound to bear the marks of its inhabitants. In Su Yu's room, a collection of figurines and train models adorned a specialized display cabinet, while Dong Shuoye favored amassing paperbacks and lighters. At the Fu family villa, fresh flowers were delivered daily, with carpets of Chu Jingshu's own selection adorning the corridors from the first to third floors.

    Yet, where he and Lin Shuicheng resided, there was nothing.

    For convenience, Fu Luoyin almost ripped the wires from the wall to charge his devices; eventually, he placed a power strip on the right side of the sofa. In the small kitchenette, a basket held a jumbled mix of his stomach medications and coffee.

    Only Lin Shuicheng left no trace behind.

    He lived like a transient traveler, not adding any personal belongings, knowing he wouldn't stay long. There was no need for him to rearrange furniture or consider replacing the stiff chair cushion in the workspace. He refrained from spontaneous shopping, as it would only complicate moving out.

    Slowly, Fu Luoyin walked into the living room and sat down.

    On the coffee table beside the sofa, there was another file containing recent updates about Lin Shuicheng's life.

    Flipping through it casually, he landed on a photo, timestamped from two days prior.

    In the picture, Lin Shuicheng looked healthy and wore a hint of a smile in his eyes. He appeared slightly plumper and more vibrant than when he was here. Across from him, a young man was presenting him with a magnificent bouquet of flowers. The atmosphere between the two was relaxed and harmonious, suggesting they were a perfect match.

    At once, Fu Luoyin recognized the young man standing opposite Lin Shuicheng – it was the same guy he had encountered when he came to pick up Lin Shuicheng on one occasion!

    Lin Shuicheng wasn't upset at all; in fact, he seemed to be doing even better after moving out.

    Fu Luoyin's initially calm expression began to crumble in that instant, transforming into a distorted and pained mask. His voice turned hoarse as well.

    Bending over, Fu Luoyin clutched his stomach tightly, desperately fighting against the sudden surge of excruciating pain and the metallic taste of blood. He suppressed his hot, labored breathing between his lips, the very air he inhaled tinged with the scent of blood.

    When Su Yu received the call in the middle of the night, he thought it was a ghostly encounter.

    On the other end, Fu Luoyin remained silent for a long while. Just as Su Yu was breaking into a cold sweat from fear, he heard Fu Luoyin's hoarse whisper, "He lied to me."

    "What... what?" Su Yu asked, "About what?"

    Fu Luoyin stubbornly muttered in a trance-like state, "He lied to me."

    Author's Note:

    Today's Little Fu: He lied to me! (Wiping tears)

    Today, our Little Fu will grace us with a rendition of "The Love Deceiver, Lin Shuicheng."

    Saying what~ You love me for millions upon millions of years,

    Saying what~ Your affection remains eternally unchanged.

    Turns out, you were just a smooth talker,

    Tricking my true feelings away~~~

    Ah~ I ask you~ Where, oh where, is your conscience hiding?

    In~~ which~~~ place~~~!

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