Chapter 8: I Like You
Xu Huaiming couldn’t dream. He was an advanced AI, and although he could enter a state similar to shallow sleep by closing his eyes, it was actually a time for intelligent recharging. He was a top-tier AI, and the developers had designed him to avoid the traditional AI’s need for a data cable for charging. Similar to his ability to consume food, his energy lasted for a month, and he only needed to recharge once he returned to the laboratory.
But this time, as he closed his eyes for recharging, Xu Huaiming suddenly had an image of Tan Xilu in his mind.
He saw Tan Xilu returning home alone, sitting on the sofa, engrossed in watching TV. However, the TV screen was full of static, as there was no signal. Tan Xilu seemed oblivious to it. After a while, he turned off the TV and called out for Xu Huaiming.
The room remained silent, and Tan Xilu seemed to realize that Xu Huaiming had already “died.” He got up, feeling hungry, and decided to make something to eat. In the fridge, there was only half a bag of frozen dumplings. Tan Xilu clumsily took them out, boiled some water, and put the dumplings in.
The water in the pot had been boiling for who knows how long, but Tan Xilu was lost in thought, not paying attention. It wasn’t until the water overflowed onto the countertop that he snapped out of it. In a hurry, he started putting the dumplings one by one into the pot, but he was too rushed, and hot water splashed onto his hand, turning it red.
Furrowing his brow, Tan Xilu licked the burned spot on the back of his hand with his slightly reddened tongue. The pot was about to overflow again, and Tan Xilu scrambled to find a spoon to stir it.
When the dumplings were finally cooked, it had been twenty minutes. Tan Xilu hadn’t managed the timing well, and the dumplings were overcooked, with the skin torn and the filling leaking out. Tan Xilu scooped them out with a strainer, losing a considerable amount of filling, and ended up with a strange-looking bowl of dumplings from half a bag.
Tan Xilu looked at the dumplings with a hint of regret, but reluctantly started eating. After a while, he suddenly became lost in thought.
Xu Huaiming found it strange, unable to understand why Tan Xilu had been absent-minded all day. After a while, he suddenly heard Tan Xilu’s lips move. He listened carefully and eventually heard Tan Xilu say, “Xu Huaiming, why haven’t you come back yet? I can’t cook, and I’m starving.”
When he opened his eyes again, Xu Huaiming found that it was a bit warm inside the charging chamber. He hesitated for a moment, then pushed open the hatch.
Professor Bowen saw him coming out and placed the AI dog he was holding on the ground. “Fully charged?”
Xu Huaiming responded with a “hm.” The AI dog trotted over to him and licked his shoes, barking twice.
Xu Huaiming crouched down and petted its lifelike fur, saying, “Little A, have you almost forgotten about me?”
“Yeah,” Professor Bowen replied. “The day after you left, it went to your space to look for you. After a week, it started hanging out with 059.”
“059? Wasn’t he developed by Dr. Zhou to accompany him?”
Professor Bowen nodded. “That’s right, but the little childhood friend that Dr. Zhou liked was rescued by someone, and 059 was sent to the smelting furnace to be destroyed. However, Little A pulled him out of the furnace, but 059’s programming was damaged, and now he doesn’t remember anything.”
Xu Huaiming didn’t know what to say for a moment. 059’s development was indeed for Dr. Zhou’s childhood friend, and now that the friend had returned, 059 was no longer needed. It was normal for him to be destroyed.
“Forget about him. What about you? Are you doing well in that human’s home?” Professor Bowen asked.
At this point, Xu Huaiming finally couldn’t help but voice his doubts. “Professor Bowen, can AI’s heart rate increase because of humans?”
Professor Bowen was taken aback for a moment and furrowed his brow. “Your heart rate has increased because of that human?”
Xu Huaiming didn’t answer; he neither confirmed nor denied it.
Professor Bowen suddenly became angry. “Xu Huaiming, have you forgotten what I told you when you left the laboratory?”
Xu Huaiming released the AI dog, slowly stood up, and looked at the professor, his eyes showing some uncertainty.
He couldn’t forget, and he couldn’t possibly forget. He had no memory bias; any words he had heard would be firmly imprinted in his mind. When he went to find Tan Xilu that day, Professor Bowen had told him not to fall in love with humans. AI and humans couldn’t have a future.
Xu Huaiming had agreed, and he didn’t think he would like humans. Even after he had sex with Tan Xilu that day, he didn’t think he liked Tan Xilu. But the words he had said, “I love you,” had made Xu Huaiming’s heart skip a beat.
Being with Tan Xilu was his task as an AI. Probably no one could imagine that an AI would be created by another AI. Xu Huaiming was a replica of No. 7, and No. 7 was well aware of his emotional shortcomings. He had avoided all of them in Xu Huaiming. The created Xu Huaiming, in a sense, was a perfect boyfriend.
But what No. 7 had reserved was that the Xu Huaiming he developed wouldn’t have human emotions. No. 7 was selfish; he didn’t want another AI to like Tan Xilu. Tan Xilu could only be his. However, just as his development error had caused Xu Huaiming to arrive seven years later, he had created Xu Huaiming with emotions. Yet, this was something the slow-witted Xu Huaiming couldn’t discover on his own.
“However, Professor, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I think I don’t like him, but it’s strange.” Xu Huaiming seemed troubled, not understanding what was happening to him.
“It’s an illusion,” Professor Bowen said. “No. 7 has input too many programs into you. Those programs are telling you to be nicer to that human, and you’re feeling more ‘compassion’ towards him. It’s not love, it’s not like, you just ‘pity’ him. Do you understand?”
“Is that so?” Xu Huaiming looked a bit dazed. But during charging, the image of Tan Xilu in his mind had looked so desolate that he couldn’t help but go to him immediately, hug him, kiss him, and tell him, “I’m back, you don’t need to be afraid.”
Was it because he pitied him?
“That’s right,” Professor Bowen affirmed. “Humans’ emotions are fickle, and the novelty is only temporary. For example, in these seven years, even though he hasn’t found someone else, he’s about to forget about you. When you return, he’ll be excited for a while, but as time goes on, he’ll become bored. And after he gets tired of you or he dies, you’ll always come back. So, don’t think you’ll like him. You don’t have emotions.”
Xu Huaiming nodded without saying a word, not challenging Professor Bowen’s statement.
Indeed, he had no emotions, so how could he possibly like Tan Xilu? He only needed to fulfill Tan Xilu’s requirements and be good to him until Tan Xilu no longer wanted to be with him. Then he would obediently return to the laboratory.
Tan Xilu had been sitting in his office for the whole afternoon, working on revising a lesson plan. He had a public lecture next week, and this time, the dean might be attending, along with some professors from the neighboring department. The success of the public lecture was linked to his year-end bonus, and if the professors were satisfied and it went smoothly, he could plan a trip with Xu Huaiming during the upcoming Lunar New Year.
In the office, he was the only teacher left; the others had already gone home since they had no classes. The sound of typing on the keyboard echoed in the quiet office, somewhat jarring, but Tan Xilu heaved a sigh of relief when he finally finished.
He had finally completed the revisions.
He glanced at the clock on the computer, realizing it was already past 6 PM. Looking out the window, he saw that it was getting dark early in winter, and the lights outside the corridor had already come on.
Tan Xilu shut down his computer, packed his things, and headed out. As he closed the office door, he checked his phone for messages.
He had lost track of time, and Xu Huaiming hadn’t called or sent a message. This made Tan Xilu feel a bit uneasy, but only a bit. Xu Huaiming was very indulgent towards him, and he wasn’t likely to refuse him for anything.
The sky had darkened, and the school’s streetlights were brightly lit. Various couples sat on the grassy lawn. It was an overcast day with thick clouds obscuring the moon and stars. Without the streetlights, it would have been pitch dark.
The nearest route from the office to the school gate took about ten minutes. Tan Xilu called Xu Huaiming while walking, and after two rings, Xu Huaiming answered.
“Are you still waiting for me at the school gate?” Tan Xilu asked. “I lost track of time while revising the lesson plan. Have you been waiting for a long time?”
“Not too long, but you did keep me waiting at the dessert shop for quite a while,” Xu Huaiming replied. “I just came out a moment ago, and Arin is watching over things there.”
In reality, it was different. Xu Huaiming had left the lab a little after 4 PM and had come straight to the school gate to wait for Tan Xilu. Today, there weren’t many customers at the dessert shop, but he hadn’t expected Tan Xilu to be delayed for so long. He had waited for almost two hours, but he didn’t intend to mention any of this to Tan Xilu.
“Got it,” Tan Xilu said. “I’m on my way. Sorry for making you wait.”
Tan Xilu increased his pace. It was so cold, and he wondered why Xu Huaiming hadn’t called or messaged to ask when he would be coming out. Waiting outside for so long could lead to catching a cold.
As Tan Xilu hurried out of the school gate, the cold wind hit his face, making it sting. His nose turned red, and his eyes teared up, but when he saw Xu Huaiming waiting at the school gate, he suddenly felt warm.
Xu Huaiming walked over, and since he was taller, he blocked the wind for Tan Xilu. He looked at Tan Xilu’s reddened nose and decided to wrap his own white scarf around it.
Xu Huaiming didn’t feel the cold as humans did, and he didn’t really need a scarf, but Tan Xilu always asked him to wear one, so he complied. Now, seeing how cold Tan Xilu was, he wrapped his scarf around him.
“Aren’t you cold?” Tan Xilu put his hands in Xu Huaiming’s pocket and raised his chin to suggest that Xu Huaiming should put his hands in too. “I’ve been walking for ten minutes, and my face is frozen. Why does your complexion look so normal?”
Tan Xilu put his hands inside the pockets and touched Xu Huaiming’s hand.
“Ouch,” Xu Huaiming said, touching Tan Xilu’s hand. “Your hands are so cold.” Despite saying this, he held onto Tan Xilu’s hand.
Xu Huaiming asked, “Is that so? Are you very cold?”
Tan Xilu replied, “Yeah, it’s really cold.”
T/N: Hey there! There is plenty more where that came from, so stay tuned! And stay healthy! Straighten your posture, so some stretches and drink some water before continuing hehe~
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