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    "I've been hesitant to ask before, but I've heard you have eight older siblings, right? How wonderful that must be, they must dote on you. It turns out we were in the same class all along."

    This was the first sentence Dong Shuoye heard when he joined the junior high class.

    Arriving earliest, he was casually perusing a complete set of high school and university textbooks that someone had just delivered for him. Looking up, he saw a young man enter with a book in his arms, offering him a friendly smile.

    Sunlight slanted into the room, illuminating the young man's strikingly vibrant countenance.

    He knew him, the only son of the Xia family, Xia Ran.

    Children from their ilk had their own exclusive circle; they would often cross paths, be it at the Alliance's official compound or during grand banquets and gatherings.

    As the youngest of the Dong family, he was also the one least noticed in a crowd.

    It wasn't odd for Xia Ran to know him. The Dong and Xia families were practically neighbors, and Xia Ran would occasionally visit, addressing him as 'brother' as well. However, until now, their interactions had been minimal.

    They didn't often play together, but he knew that Xia Ran had another close friend - Fu Luoyin, the second-born of the Fu family.

    He continued reading his book.

    A complete set of junior high and senior high school textbooks, coupled with the time spent in classes, would take approximately two weeks to read through visually. The Star Academy they attended offered a continuous education from junior to senior high; hence, every student was required to undergo subject selections by their second year of senior high.

    Blessed with an exceptional memory since birth, this was a secret known only to his grandfather, who had raised him. The Dong family was large and complex, with Dong's father having married five times. His biological mother had passed away from illness when he was very young.

    Being surrounded by predators in such a household, with an exceptional gift, is far from a blessing. He learned from a young age to keep a low profile, concealing his sharp edges, and thus, has largely escaped excessive attention over the years.

    Now, he finally had the chance to pursue his studies outside of home. According to his plan, this would be the moment for him to gradually reveal his brilliance.

    The Dong and Xia families shared a close relationship. The Xia family had the support of the Aerospace Bureau, which had just been established that year. Around that time, the Seventh Bureau was formed, and Fu Kai had recently taken up his position.

    Born with an insatiable desire for power and prestige, he aimed to surpass all, not just to catch his father's eye, but to tower over the entire Dong family.

    For this ambition, he was willing to forsake everything. The moments of leisure with peers, the chances of his talents being discovered, even—the fleeting adolescent infatuation that had entered his life with the sunlight.

    He had once been fond of Xia Ran.

    Inherently melancholic, he naturally gravitated towards people and events as radiant as the sun.

    He had never entertained the thought of seeking anything in return in this regard. His affection for Xia Ran coexisted with his hope that Fu Luoyin could ally with the Xia family, leveraging their influence to shift the tide in the Dong family, away from the Aerospace Bureau.

    Having beheld with his own eyes the extinguishing of that daylight, he henceforth ceased to harbor any fondness for such falsified beauty.

    Emotions are futile.

    He was born with no intense emotions, but his bones were forged with power and wealth. From the skin to the core, he was black through and through.

    He successfully cultivated a close relationship with Fu Luoyin as desired, having foreseen the trajectory of their alliance's development five years ahead of time, if not earlier. Together, they pledged to forge a path that would be mutually beneficial for both of them.

    From junior high to senior high, then to college, the police force, officer, department head, deputy head, and assistant division head — his career path had been a smooth ascent. During the college entrance examination, despite his preference for the more intricate and engaging science subjects, he still chose the arts stream and, unsurprisingly, secured the top spot in Star City for the arts comprehensive score that year.

    From then on, he no longer concealed his extraordinary memory or his remarkable foresight and wisdom that surpassed his peers. It was then that the youngest son of the Dong family began to gain recognition within the circles of Star City. Whenever people mentioned him, they would always associate him closely with the Fu family, rather than the Dongs.

    To establish oneself in life, one must either move out independently, get married, and form a new family; or build a career, laying the foundation for one's existence.

    After the significant changes in the Alliance, he joined forces with Fu Luoyin to regain control, subsequently reaching the pinnacle of his career. His Dong siblings flocked to seek his favor, and his father even had intentions to pass the family business to him. However, he paid no heed to these matters.

    Upon his promotion to Chief Inspector of the Star City Division of the Police Force, the first thing he did was to purchase a house and move out on his own.

    When he moved into his new home, the inaugural meal was takeout, with the main dishes warmed on the stove, while the other dishes were placed on a heated table.

    He didn't have many friends. Fu Luoyin had recently been enjoying both career success and romantic bliss; it was said that he went with Lin Shuicheng to work in a space station mining operation, but they hadn't yet seen any significant results.

    The only person left to celebrate and dine with was Su Yu.

    For him, eating was merely a process, whereas for someone like Su Yu, it was a source of enjoyment. Eating with Su Yu was rather entertaining. The guy was like a glutton, exclaiming over how delicious everything was and devouring large quantities with gusto.

    He had never taken Su Yu seriously since childhood. To him, Su Yu could be summed up in one word: "foolish."

    Su Yu and Fu Luoyin were in the same class. In his memory, Su Yu was always the eager-to-please follower tagging along behind Fu Luoyin, always smiling, always eating, decently good-looking, and somewhat timid but amusing.

    Both he and Fu Luoyin indulged Su Yu. There was a childlike innocence about Su Yu, the offspring of a pampered upbringing - not arrogance, just naivety.

    It was a sort of innocence that children possess. Once, he couldn't recall the specifics, but on a weekend when they were required to stay at school, he and Su Yu delivered homework to their teacher's office. Su Yu was asked to help grade papers while he was summoned by their overtime homeroom teacher for a chat. Their schedules didn't align, so he left once his business was settled.

    Later, he learned that Su Yu had waited for him downstairs in the office, for half the afternoon.

    That day was winter, with heavy snowfall. When he and Fu Luoyin met at the cafeteria in the afternoon, they realized someone was missing, and they retraced their steps to find Su Yu.

    At the time, Su Yu simply scratched his head. "I wasn't sure if you had left or not, so I waited in case you came down and didn't want to leave me behind. I didn't expect you to go first, so now you owe me a premium cream corn on the cob, the six yuan kind."

    It was a small incident, but for some reason, perhaps due to his innate photographic memory, the image remained vivid in his mind: a dusky evening when Su Yu huddled alone, book in hand, waiting by the wall, his bright eyes shimmering under the streetlight like those of a small creature.

    It was then that he realized how attractive Su Yu was.

    Su Yu was an exceptional person, but because he had always been in Fu Luoyin's shadow, tagging along with him and Xia Ran, his brilliance had been concealed.

    After that day, he changed Su Yu's phone contact name from "Idiot" to "Innocent Sweetheart."

    Recalling that scene, he pondered that if this person were to leave his and Fu Luoyin's company, he might easily fall victim to others' schemes.

    Now that Fu Luoyin had Lin Shuicheng, Su Yu was entrusted to his care.

    In life, there are always a few troublesome matters one cannot avoid; thus, they must be accepted.

    Being around Su Yu was effortless, for Su Yu was simple-minded, and conversations often revolved around food and trivial matters. With just these topics, Su Yu would chatter on animatedly, his eyes gleaming with that same innocent spark.

    He enjoyed seeing him like that.

    Frankly, he didn't comprehend why someone could find such joy merely from eating good food. For him, even after fulfilling his deepest desires, he still couldn't grasp that tangible sense of happiness.

    Even the emotion of affection, he categorized it as desire. Compared to power, desire was like glaring dust—something that could exist but wasn't necessary.

    It had been a while since Su Yu had contacted him.

    Dong Shuoye called, "Hey? Little Fish. Come over for dinner. It's at my new place."

    He glanced at the takeout he had ordered, "I got your favorite BBQ, but the shop that sells taro milk buns doesn't deliver. I found a similar one nearby."

    Su Yu sounded somewhat exhausted, "Oh? That's great, but I can't make it now, Dong Hei. You enjoy your meal."

    Rarely did he get rejected.

    Dong Shuoye paused, his voice slipping out before he could think, "What's wrong?"

    Su Yu replied, "I'm on a blind date. I can't make it, sorry. Maybe another day, I'll come over and freeload your food."

    Dong Shuoye knew he had been going on numerous blind dates, "They're all just temporary arrangements. Missing a few wouldn't hurt, right?"

    "Today is different!" Su Yu sounded excited on the other end, "I met two today, a beauty and a hunk! It depends on whether they're willing to settle with me... Oh, I have to go, talk later! Let me recommend you the grilled fish dish from the restaurant I'm at today."

    Su Yu is someone who would wither away without Fu Luoyin by his side.

    He's easily captivated by food.

    Dong Shuoye put down his phone and gazed at his empty new home.

    —What if the first premise doesn't hold true?

    *

    "I'm sorry, Mr. Su. Although I genuinely like you, I think we might have a case of mistaken identity."

    The man across from him was handsome and apologetic as he looked at Su Yu.

    Su Yu had been on more than fifty blind dates, and this man was undoubtedly the pinnacle of his aesthetic preferences. He embodied the refined scholarly charm that Su Yu adored. As an aesthete, Su Yu was instantly smitten.

    —Due to the man's difficult-to-pronounce name and his light golden-brown hair, Su Yu secretly nicknamed him Chestnut Cake in his mind.

    Upon receiving a direct hint, Su Yu decided to put up a slight resistance. "I... can be the bottom."

    If compromising meant appreciating beauty, he wouldn't entirely object. In terms of such experiences, he had none with either men or women.

    Sweet Chestnut Cake also struggled for a moment: "I want the dominant type, you know? That kind of... you get it, right?"

    Su Yu felt his breath catch: "I do."

    They sat in silence, staring at each other.

    After a long while, Sweet Chestnut Cake broke the suffocating quiet: "Well, I have something at home, so I'll be going, Mr. Su."

    The bill was split evenly, and the other party swiftly left.

    Su Yu continued eating.

    Though he had been tactfully rejected, Su Yu wasn't too disheartened – he quickly scanned the list of blind dates and found that there was still a good-looking one scheduled for tomorrow. Su Yu swiftly transitioned into his second phase of appreciating beauty.

    Another thing was that the restaurant's baked fish rice was truly delicious. After finishing one serving, he tried their signature dishes, such as the Old Duck Soup and Pepper Salt Ribs, as well as the plum wine.

    He was a lightweight, getting drunk even from beer, but he always had an overconfidence in his ability to handle a little alcohol.

    Thirty minutes later, Su Yu couldn't tell up from down.

    He struggled to maintain consciousness as he stood up to settle the bill, even remarking on how expensive the place was - he had spent thousands of yuan on his own. As he stumbled around trying to find his way out, he felt someone supporting him.

    Red Bean Cake reappeared in front of him: "Mr. Su?"

    Su Yu looked up and noticed a mix of fear and guilt on the man's face. The other party was holding a briefcase, suggesting that he had forgotten it when he left and returned for it.

    With concern, Red Bean Cake helped him up and spoke with effort, "There's no need for you to do this, Mr. Su. Actually, you're a very nice person. If you really feel that bad, I've been thinking... perhaps giving it a try, you know, being in a relationship... isn't entirely out of the question..."

    Su Yu was taken aback.

    When you reject a blind date, only to later discover that they continued eating for another half an hour and got drunk after you left...

    It's almost natural to assume that perhaps they have developed deep feelings for you?

    Su Yu reassured, "No, no, don't worry. I just ate a bit more and had some wine..."

    Red Bean Cake replied, "No, no, I've thought about it, and I came back partly because of regret. I think... "

    Supporting Su Yu, Su Yu tried to gather his thoughts, "Actually, I also... "

    Su Yu's peripheral vision caught sight of a familiar car pulling up beside them, and a recognizable figure emerged – he had no time to ponder how this person had suddenly appeared.

    Su Yu declared, "I also fancy the dominant type."

    Confidently, he extended his hand, pointing at Dong Shuoye, "Like him, hic."

    As Chestnut Cake looked up at Dong Shuoye, he felt the person next to him being snatched away in the next moment.

    The man who had just gotten out of the car was tall and exuded an intimidating aura like a dense ink that couldn't be dissolved. He pulled Su Yu towards him, embracing him tightly around the waist, and glanced up at him disdainfully.

    Chestnut Cake felt his knees weaken – not only because of the man's attractiveness but also from fear.

    The cold man before him lowered his head to ask Su Yu, "What did you say? What are you doing?"

    Su Yu leaned comfortably in his embrace, "Dong Hei, you're here. Can you shield me for a bit?"

    The man's expression turned even colder.

    This was freaking terrifying.

    How could this be a tough alpha? This is a wolf in disguise!

    Suzhi said, "My apologies, my apologies. I'll take my leave first."

    Dong Shuoye forced Su Yu into the car.

    "Don't drink outside anymore in the future," Dong Shuoye whispered to Su Yu.

    Su Yu grunted a few times as if he finally realized the situation. He sat up with a sparkle in his eyes and glanced at Dong Shuoye.

    Dong Shuoye lifted an eyebrow. "What are you doing?"

    Su Yu's eyes gleamed with approval. "Mighty One."

    He nodded, then collapsed onto his back, intending to sleep.

    When Su Yu is drunk, there's only one thing he does: speak his mind freely, with a unique set of principles guiding his actions. These principles, unchanged for over two decades, remain unbroken - not even by Fu Luoyin's relentless phone calls!

    When he's drunk, he becomes the king of the world!

    Yet, before he could indulge in his dream, he was pulled back by a hand and forced to sit up, staring directly into Dong Shuoye's dark, profound eyes.

    Su Yu glanced at him again. "Dong Shuoye, stop playing around."

    The next instant, he was dumbfounded.

    Dong Shuoye's breath engulfed him like an oppressive darkness that cast a shadow over his head. Su Yu hurriedly closed his eyes in fear, but closing his eyes couldn't prevent other parts of his body from being claimed—Dong Shuoye leaned in for a kiss.

    Their lips were scorching hot, making his head spin and his heart thump loudly.

    Dong Shuoye held onto the collar of his shirt, only lowering his gaze after the kiss.

    After gazing at him for a while, he suddenly released his grip, got up, closed the door, and sat in the front seat.

    The car drove off smoothly.

    "Dong Yu," Dong Shuoye asked softly, "Were you asleep?"

    Su Yu wasn't asleep. Although the alcohol was clouding his mind, he seemed to be aware of what had just transpired, staring wide-eyed in disbelief.

    Su Yu replied, "It doesn't seem like it."

    Dong Shuoye said, "Go to sleep."

    Confused but obedient, Su Yu followed his suggestion. He was already struggling with drowsiness, and upon hearing Dong Shuoye's words, he inexplicably fixated on that one sentence.

    He focused on the idea of sleeping.

    "I'll ask you again...tomorrow," Dong Shuoye promised.

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