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    The echoes of explosions drew closer, resonating fiercely with the window frames.

    "Was that thunder?" Kim Lee asked, tugging at the coordinate frame on the page. He turned his head alertly upon hearing the sound, a motion that caught the attention of the woman beside him. The chill of a gun barrel pressed against the nape of his neck: "Don't move. Don't pry into what you shouldn't. Focus on your task!"

    Several RANDOM security guards stationed outside the surveillance room had already departed, leaving an eerie silence lingering in the air around them.

    Kim Lee tapped away at his keyboard for a moment before rising to peer outside. "Is something happening? I really have a bad feeling about this. Miss, if there's truly an issue, we can't just stay here and wait to die! There's an old saying that goes, 'green mountains remain, while clear waters flow endlessly.' If we make a run for it now, we might just have a chance of survival... Those sounds just now were explosions, right? Are we trapped in here?"

    His brows knitted together, and his sapphire eyes were filled with sheer terror.

    A female member of the group glanced at the communication system, finding no messages. At that moment, she felt a sense of panic, which she forcefully suppressed. Rising to her feet, she said, "Don't wander off, I'll take a look outside."

    However, as she reached the door, she noticed something - the distant roar of helicopters, not just one, but several, their dark blue paintwork bearing the emblem of the Defense Bureau.

    Frozen for two seconds, she turned to look back at Jin Li, only to feel the cold barrel of a gun pressed against the back of her head.

    Jin Li raised an eyebrow, standing behind her. "Madam, I never would have thought you could be so foolish. What I was doing right in front of you wasn't some fluid state machine, it was a messaging system network."

    The woman abruptly spun around, ready to fight back. Jin Li effortlessly gripped her shoulder and, with the gunstock, struck the side of her neck with brutal force.

    Assured that she had indeed fainted, Kim Li found the ropes he had been bound with earlier and tightly secured her with them. "It's unfortunate that you missed your chance to recruit me. Not even a chicken leg burger? What kind of clients are you?"

    He swiftly packed a bag with all the medical equipment he could find, along with his computer. Laden with bags, he dashed into the rain. "President Little Fu, President Little Lin, I'm coming to save you! Don't forget to increase my salary by 50%!"

    Amidst the howling wind, the roar of a helicopter echoed, splashing rainwater everywhere.

    At the Third Hospital in Alliance Star City, outside the ICU.

    The alarm had been lifted, and compared to its cold wartime state, the hospital was now bustling with people.

    Fu Luoyin had half his ribs broken, and a puncture wound on his right palm. He was connected to numerous tubes, barely seeming to breathe.

    When the nanobomb was deployed, although it created a directional fan-like blast, Fu Luoyin, being too close, still suffered severe impact. His fractured ribs compressed his lungs, causing surface burns and internal bleeding, resulting in a series of severe complications that kept him in a coma.

    Fortunately, the sniper on the mountain was momentarily startled by Fu Luoyin's gaze, assuming the file bag he held contained a lethal weapon. Thus, the sniper changed his target at the last moment, sparing vital organs. Otherwise, there would have been no saving Fu Luoyin.

    The doctor said that he might awaken or never wake up at all. With his injuries, he could suddenly pass away one day while sleeping, his breath ceasing in his sleep.

    Lin Shuicheng sat quietly outside the ICU, gazing at the person on the other side of the isolation glass.

    His elbows to his fingertips were encased in casts and bandages, and there were scars on his face. His jet-black hair had grown slightly longer, framing his ears softly, giving him an obedient and attractive appearance.

    Fu Kai had visited once. Busy with post-war reconstruction and a myriad of tasks, after seeing Fu Luoyin in the hospital ward, he seemed to have aged a decade overnight, with several white hairs sprouting at his temples.

    He sighed heavily, his voice muddled, "I only have this one son. From the beginning until now, I've never approved of your relationship. All I want now is for him to live well."

    He patted Lin Shuicheng's shoulder.

    After Fu Kai, many others came to visit Fu Luoyin. The ICU was adorned with flowers and fruits. It was said that Fu Luoyin's mother was an artist, but she never showed up.

    Yang Zhiwei, who was directly affected by the nanobomb, didn't survive the incident. The Alliance cleansed all members of the RANDOM organization, gradually revealing their entire network to the public. As a result, He Muya faced military court, undergoing charges. The National Security Bureau's Ninth Division had invited Lin Shuicheng several times to testify, but he declined each time.

    He simply stayed outside the ICU in the hospital, not venturing anywhere else.

    During the Alliance's investigations, they uncovered numerous business conglomerates that had been swayed by RANDOM. Among them was Xia Medical, a company that had once gone bankrupt but then quickly revived. Its CEO, who had been devastated by the bankruptcy, had found new hope through RANDOM, becoming an ardent follower of the "God" and providing substantial financial support to the R organization.

    The Xia couple confessed to everything. Their rivalry with the Su family for the Torch Olympic location was part of their strategic planning, which aligned with Lin Shuicheng's initial calculations.

    Their only son, Xia Ran, was oblivious to these affairs.

    While Xia Ran was under investigation, the Alliance traced a series of infant names: all were infants with numbers following 704 and had varying degrees of the superior genes found in Lin Shuicheng implanted into them. Some infants, however, were not suitable for gene implantation and instead underwent the same early behavioral training as 704, which could significantly shape an individual's personality and habits throughout their life.

    "The young master of the Xia family is currently under surveillance due to the involvement of his entire family. His movements are restricted," a Ninth Bureau officer informed Lin Shuicheng. "He asked if he could visit Deputy Director Fu, but we denied his request."

    Lin Shuicheng lowered his gaze, remaining silent.

    Unfamiliar with these developments, Su Yu commented, "I never expected the Xia family to be... Xia Ran has experienced this twice now, first in high school and now again. I hope he learns from it this time. He used to be a decent person."

    Once, everyone saw Lin Shuicheng as a substitute for someone else. Now, Xia Ran was the true imposter – one of the cases the RANDOM organization had attempted to replicate the miracle of the Xia couple.

    Outside the courtroom, Xia Ran was escorted under heavy scrutiny to give testimony. As he stepped through the entrance, he glanced at the raging storm outside, realizing that he had utterly lost – or perhaps, from the moment he hid by the door, trembling in fear, unable to protect the person he loved while another came to the rescue, or when he chose to flee in the face of his first major crisis, he had already been defeated.

    "I'm sorry," he whispered softly to the air.

    After five days in the ICU, Fu Luoyin's vital signs stabilized, allowing him to be transferred to a regular ward. However, he remained unconscious.

    Amidst the howling wind and rain, Lin Shuicheng closed the window, sat by Fu Luoyin's bedside, and fell asleep with his head resting on the bed.

    In his dream, he smelled the fragrance of mint, a continuation of the previous dream he'd experienced.

    The youthful Fu Luoyin stood by his window, gazed at him, circled around, and pushed the door open.

    With an air of rebellious aloofness, he swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing, but he remained silent, choosing not to speak.

    Lin Shuicheng tidily placed the competition papers and homework notebook aside, carefully arranging his pen into his backpack.

    He smiled at him and repeated, "Come here."

    The thermal pot and lunchbox were opened, unleashing an even more intense aroma. The yam and pork rib soup had simmered to a tender, thick consistency; with one spoonful, the warmth enveloped the stomach in a comforting embrace. Each grain of rice shone bright and plump, perfectly cooked. Layer by layer, they revealed what lay beneath: asparagus and black fungus stir-fried in a savory sauce, spicy wok-tossed fresh shrimp, and Coca-Cola chicken wings. Beside them sat a jar containing a carefully stewed dough ball soup.

    Fu Luoyin mumbled, "So much, do you always eat it all by yourself?"

    In fact, these were also meant to serve as a late-night snack. He exerted a great deal of energy solving problems, and teenage boys like him always seemed to have insatiable appetites.

    Lin Shuicheng nodded. "Yeah, that's why I can never finish it all. Grandfather scolds me if I don't finish it, so could you help me out a bit?"

    He knew Fu Luoyin, in dreams he did, yet this youth within the dream was not one to heed his words obediently. The young man cast him a sidelong glance, filled with suspicion, his keen eyes narrowing slightly as he appraised him.

    "A model student," he heard him say. The young Fu Luoyin leaned in, hooking his fingers around the ID badge hanging from Lin Shuicheng's chest and slowly enunciating each character of his name, "... Lin Shuicheng."

    A thunderclap outside startled Lin Shuicheng awake.

    Feeling a gentle tug on his neck, he lifted his head to see that the person in the hospital bed had already awakened. With his eyes lowered, the hand connected to the IV lightly hooked onto Lin Shuicheng's work ID that had fallen by the bedside.

    Just like in the dream, the young man leaned in close, bowed his head to hook the ID badge, and recited his name.

    Lin Shuicheng had never taken off this ID. On the front was his personal information written on a piece of paper, while on the back was his photo.

    Fu Luoyin didn't even remember taking this photo – it seemed to be from when he had just graduated from military school and visited the Seventh Bureau, leaving behind a group photo as a souvenir.

    With a slight movement of his fingertips, Fu Luoyin hooked the ID badge and pulled out its contents. The paper, the photo, and Fu Luoyin's own work card all landed on the bed. Behind the cut-out group photo, there was a line written in black pen.

    His voice was raspy: "What does this phrase mean, little kitten?"

    Lin Shuicheng stared at him in a daze.

    He didn't say anything but instead lowered his body, gently pressing his cheek against Fu Luoyin's hand.

    Warm and vivid with a tender strength, the fingers lifted and gently caressed his cheek.

    In a hushed tone, Fu Luoyin said, "Don't cry."

    "Mm-hmm."

    "I had heard of you before, but now I see you with my own eyes."

    "This is what Job said when he first saw God, at a time when he was happy, peaceful, and content. When he got another chance to witness his faith, he knew he had everything he could ever want."

    Fu Luoyin had been recuperating for nearly three months.

    Lin Shuicheng commented, "It takes a hundred days to heal bones and tendons." For the first three months, he was confined to bed and not allowed to move. After that, he was sent to do rehabilitation with Lin Deng, to correct his bones and massage his muscles.

    The entire rehabilitation floor was in chaos because of the two of them. There was no generation gap between Fu Luoyin and Lin Deng; Fu Luoyin, on paid leave due to his work injury, spent every day gaming with Lin Deng.

    Upon Lin Shuicheng's arrival, Lin Deng would quickly hide the game console and start doing his homework. He had missed six years of school, and Lin Shuicheng planned to have him directly take college entrance exams. Lin Deng was willing to learn and worked hard, but there were still moments of childhood playfulness. Whenever Lin Shuicheng caught him slacking off, he would sheepishly apologize.

    The Alliance resumed the Quantum Security Wall project, and this time, they appointed Lin Shuicheng and Xu Kong as the leaders.

    Lin Shuicheng declined the main leadership role and agreed only to be a deputy. At the same time, he continued working with Kim Lee on Project B4. During the three months that Fu Luoyin was recuperating, it was Lin Shuicheng who managed the company.

    During this period, he acted as Kim Lee's client for another three months. Kim Lee complained endlessly, visiting the hospital daily to bring burgers and Coke to Fu Luoyin, hoping "that Young Master Fu would recover quickly, or my tripled salary would be meaningless. Under Little Lin's guidance, I might not even live long enough to spend it."

    Fu Luoyin chuckled softly and turned to Lin Deng, saying, "Look how scary your brother is."

    Lin Deng nodded in agreement.

    When Fu Kai came to visit him for the second time, Chu Jingshu accompanied him.

    Upon hearing their arrival, Fu Luoyin immediately returned to bed to pretend he was still sick.

    Sitting by the bedside, Fu Kai said after a while, "...Are you still pretending? Little Lin sent us photos of you walking around the day before yesterday!"

    Chu Jingshu sat beside him, still somewhat reserved in her demeanor.

    With the Alliance undergoing significant changes, she had heard many stories about Fu Luoyin and Lin Shuicheng, understanding the complexities involved. When Fu Luoyin was admitted to the ICU, she didn't come to visit, which seemed to awaken a sense of injustice that had always existed within the family. Fu Kai, for the first time in over a decade, lost his temper and threw something at home, "He's also your son! With Shihan gone, do you want to lose Luoyin too?"

    Regarding Little Lin and Chu Shihan's past, she could only remain silent, for she had no right to intervene in his choices.

    Upon hearing Fu Kai expose his secret, Fu Luoyin ceased his pretense and simply laughed. "You've been in touch with Lin Shuicheng? How leisurely he must be."

    "Are you unaware of how our family worries about you, or do you neglect to keep us informed? It's always Little Lin who updates us. Don't you feel ashamed?" Fu Kai scolded. "If you were half as thoughtful as Little Lin and remembered that we—"

    "Dad," Fu Luoyin interrupted, his eyes brimming with amusement. The suppressed joy in his deep voice was almost tangible. "I'm getting married."

    Caught off guard, Fu Kai stammered, "So soon? This is quite—"

    "I'm getting married!" Fu Luoyin insisted.

    "He's an expert at the national defense level! What do you plan to gi—"

    "I'm getting married!"

    "..."

    Fu Kai fell silent.

    Lin Shuicheng and Fu Luoyin's wedding was scheduled for late October.

    They purchased a new house and began renovations in February, leaving them still residing in the spacious apartment outside the university. Throughout this period, their time together remained scarce.

    Both Fu Luoyin and Lin Shuicheng were busy with their respective commitments. Whenever they finally found a chance to meet, they preferred to stay at home.

    Fu Luoyin entertained the cat, while Lin Shuicheng lounged on the sofa, engrossed in his research.

    As Fu Luoyin brushed the Chief, the feline sprawled comfortably on the floor, exposing its belly for grooming.

    "Tsk, Chief sheds more than Little Gray," Fu Luoyin remarked, examining the clump of cat hair that had collected on the brush. He wrapped it in paper and disposed of it in the trash.

    Little Gray, being rather mischievous, was difficult to catch. After a futile attempt, Fu Luoyin gave up.

    He casually settled onto the sofa, pulling Lin Shuicheng into his embrace as if hugging the most delightful cushion. He inhaled deeply, "Just bathed?"

    The scent of Lin Shuicheng's soap was light and pleasant.

    Lin Shuicheng grew slightly nervous. He placed his hand on Fu Luoyin's, calling out, "Fu Luoyin..."

    "Has my husband ever mentioned that the more you call me like this, the less I can control myself? Mmm?" Warm breath brushed against his neck, provoking an uncontrollable itch.

    Lin Shuicheng giggled and tried to wriggle away. "Stop teasing me, we just did it this morning..."

    "Only twice," Fu Luoyin gently nipped at his neck. "That's not much, little kitten. Why won't you let your husband tease you?"

    Lin Shuicheng was flipped over onto his back, their faces now inches apart. His beautiful eyes drooped slightly, the red mole at the corner of his eye pulsing with desire.

    He whispered softly, "When you tease me...I can't handle it either. I want to continue reading my materials, but I also want...to be taken by my husband."

    Fu Luoyin: "..."

    How could he forget that when Lin Shuicheng was being flirtatious, no one could outdo him!

    As he held Lin Shuicheng's hand against the window pane, Lin Shuicheng called his name in a low, sultry tone.

    Those words were like a spell, seeping into Fu Luoyin's bones, leaving him tingling with desire.

    The elusive little gray kitten had now come closer, circling around Fu Luoyin's fingers as they brushed through his damp, black hair. "Lin Shuicheng, I've discovered something."

    Lin Shuicheng's eyes were veiled with a hint of confusion. "Hm?"

    "Fang Luoyin softly inquired, "Every time you call out, this cat comes over, but it never responds when I call it Xiao Hui. Why is that, hm?" He continued, "I've also never heard you call it by its name. What name did you give it?"

    Lin Shuicheng turned to look at him, his eyes shimmering provocatively. Without a word, Fang Luoyin pulled him from the floor-to-ceiling window to the bed and then into the bathroom. Eventually, he reduced Lin Shuicheng to tears, forcing him to repeatedly confess, "It's you, your name, Fang Luoyin. Please have mercy on me..."

    The night was filled with passionate entanglement.

    The next day, after a restful sleep, Fang Luoyin took Lin Shuicheng on a helicopter straight to the Jiangnan branch.

    They attended to some business at the company before strolling hand in hand, their fingers interlaced.

    They arrived at the entrance of Star University's branch campus, walking along the tree-lined path all the way to the parking lot. Students walked beneath the streetlights, couples holding hands and embracing, just as they had two years ago when they first met. Back then, Lin Shuicheng was drunk, his eyes shimmering with a rosy hue, while Fang Luoyin waited for him in the parking lot.

    In the darkness of that night, the menthol cigarette flickered with intermittent sparks.

    Fang Luoyin lit a cigarette and asked Lin Shuicheng, "Do you want one?"

    Lin Shuicheng shook his head, but as Fu Luoyin put away his cigarette, he leaned in again, snatching the menthol smoke from the corner of his lips and taking a puff.

    This time, he didn't choke.

    Fu Luoyin gazed at him, a hint of a smile playing on his lips. "Good student, smoking again?"

    Lin Shuicheng didn't respond. He exhaled a cool, sweet fragrance and pressed closer, kissing him on tiptoe.

    He grabbed Fu Luoyin's collar, encircling his slender, strong waist.

    Fu Luoyin reached up to hold the back of Lin Shuicheng's head, deepening the kiss. Under the golden streetlight, they were like every other couple deeply in love, inseparable and entwined.

    "In moments like these, I truly regret not meeting you sooner," Fu Luoyin murmured as their lips parted.

    —If they had met earlier, if he had entered Lin Shuicheng's life sooner, would there have been so many wrong turns and missed opportunities?

    The time he had missed was captured in faded old photographs, where a school-uniformed Lin Shuicheng stood with a cold, focused gaze and a touch of innocence in his eyes.

    He longed to have been part of his adolescence, to have protected his childhood. He regretted not having been there for all that Lin Shuicheng had experienced before their paths crossed.

    Lin Shuicheng spoke softly, "You've said that once before."

    Fu Luoyin reached out to entangle his fingertips, lifting his gaze to meet Lin Shuicheng's smiling eyes, "Actually, our first meeting wasn't here."

    Fu Luoyin was slightly startled, almost stopping his heartbeat, "What did you say?"

    Lin Shuicheng didn't speak any further. He held onto Fu Luoyin's hand and continued strolling leisurely forward.

    Half a step behind him, Fu Luoyin hurried to catch up, asking, "What? Not here, then where was it?"

    "I know," Lin Shuicheng gently placed his finger on his lips, his voice whispering close, like a secret love note carried by the wind, "I'm not telling you."

    ---

    Author's Note:

    Finally finished! I'll take a few days off before writing the extras. There will be Little Lin's proactive proposal, a day filled with romantic moments, and a parallel world of their youthful times. There might also be an extra for Little Fish (or maybe not).

    I'll revise the text over the next few days to fix any bugs. When I started this story, I wanted to break away from my usual pure romance style, add some melodrama, and practice the plot that had always troubled me. It brings me great joy that this immature work of mine has been enjoyed by all of you.

    This book was not an easy one to write, as it ventured into uncharted territories for me. Due to my own missteps, it went unnoticed on any rankings for five consecutive weeks. However, it was your unwavering support, with your nutrient solution donations and votes, that propelled it onto the Natural Nutrient Solution Ranking, securing a spot in the second round of the Science and Technology for National Prosperity competition with the highest number of votes.

    Your efforts have made it possible for this book to reach more readers, and I am immensely grateful to you all, words cannot express my appreciation.

    The book's comment section has always been vibrant, and I must admit, I have not always been courteous in my interactions with some readers. Midway through, altering the tagline from "Kneeling to Chase My Wife" to "Chasing a Funeral Pyre for Love" sparked considerable debate.

    But allow me to share some thoughts or perhaps clarify. For me, this is not a story purely about controlling or tormenting characters; such narratives would be devoid of interest.

    I aimed to portray two independent, free-spirited souls with a rebellious edge. For instance, Little Lin's depression - was it written solely to inflict pain upon him? No, his character, from the very beginning, was conceived with a distinct trait: clarity amidst chaos, seeking answers in madness. He is a lucid yet somewhat troubled figure. As for why Little Fu endured so much suffering, it wasn't a deliberate attempt to torment him – his character, from inception, was designed as someone who confronts adversity head-on, resilient and obstinate, with his unique code of conduct serving as a fortress against injustice. There is no reason for me not to love them both deeply.

    Limited by my writing skills, I would be thrilled if readers can grasp even a fraction of the message I intend to convey in this book. What brings me the most joy is seeing many comments from friends saying they've developed an interest in chemistry or physics (even though this pseudo-science fiction barely qualifies as street literature? Embarrassed.JPG). They find inspiration in Little Lin's relentless efforts in analyzing mass spectra and feel enlightened by their journey to correct their mistakes. If this story has a positive impact on anyone, then all those sleepless nights I spent translating it for over a month would be worth it.

    Assuming there are no unforeseen circumstances, this book is scheduled to be published in simplified Chinese in mainland China. I will work with the publisher to ensure the story's flow and integrity while adhering to national publishing policies. You might want to follow @JinjiangNotWindMoving for updates on the progress. I'll keep you informed.

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