Chapter 43: The Jade Case
The sun peeked over the horizon, casting a faint glow after a night of winter snowfall that blanketed the entire city in silver-white. The orange-red rays of morning sunlight kissed the snow, filling the hearts of children on this first day of the lunar new year with excitement. They formed snowballs and engaged in playful snowball fights.
One snowball landed with a “plop” on the back of a wooden chair, startling Xu Huaiming from his slumber. He slowly opened his eyes, realizing that the day had already begun.
Since the separation from Tan Xilu after the negotiations in West Lyu, Xu Huaiming’s physical functions had gradually deteriorated. Despite two maintenance checks, there had been no improvement.
After the last maintenance check, Professor Bowen furrowed his brows, unable to pinpoint the issue plaguing Xu Huaiming. When Xu Huaiming was originally developed, it was Code no.7 who handled the development entirely, and Professor Bowen only met him after Xu Huaiming rolled off the production line.
It had to be said that AI was indeed more powerful than humans. Xu Huaiming was flawlessly crafted, identical to Code no.7, and even more perfect.
Because Xu Huaiming was more intelligent, the maintenance procedures were somewhat more complex than those for other robot models, but the likelihood of program damage was relatively lower.
However, Professor Bowen couldn’t fathom what was happening to Xu Huaiming. He would shut down automatically from time to time, his senses weren’t as sharp as before, and he seemed deeply discouraged. Several times, he had stood right in front of Xu Huaiming, who hadn’t even noticed him.
Professor Bowen had a vague suspicion, but he found it unlikely and couldn’t bring himself to believe it. He hadn’t shared this suspicion with Xu Huaiming, so when Xu Huaiming woke up on the wooden chair, he assumed that his body had malfunctioned and shut down again.
Staying outside in such low temperatures all night, even for an AI, was a challenge. Xu Huaiming’s hands were slightly tinged with blue, and he worked to restore his body temperature to normal, but the process was slow. It took nearly ten minutes before he felt warm again.
By the time he fully recovered, twenty minutes had passed.
Xu Huaiming wiped his face, stood up from the wooden chair, and walked onto the cobblestone path, avoiding the children engaged in their snowball fights.
Standing in front of the building in the residential complex, Xu Huaiming looked up at the floors. He still didn’t know which building Tan Xilu lived in, and he didn’t dare to disturb him.
After leaving the hospital yesterday, Xu Huaiming had a moment of confusion. The cold winter winds of the twelfth lunar month stung his face, but the pain was nothing compared to the heartache he felt from Tan Xilu’s repeated rejections.
Professor Bowen had warned him early on not to develop feelings for humans, but he had jumped headfirst into that pit. Look at how miserably he had fallen.
Taking a deep breath, Xu Huaiming slowly walked towards the nearest dessert shop to the hospital. When he entered the shop, Arlene, who was in charge now that Tan Xilu wasn’t around, looked at him in slight surprise.
“It’s been a while since you came here alone, Xu Ge. Is Teacher Tan not with you today?” Arlene asked.
Xu Huaiming, slow to react, said, “Ah,” and lowered his head. He replied, “We’ve separated.”
Arlene’s mouth fell open, and she said in astonishment, “Separated? How did that happen?”
“It’s my fault,” Xu Huaiming said, lips pursed, his expression filled with sadness. “I made him angry.”
Arlene had never seen him like this before and didn’t know how to comfort him. She sighed and said, “Xu Ge, don’t be too sad. Teacher Tan has a good temper. Just apologize and make amends. Wish him a happy new year at midnight—out with the old, in with the new. Teacher Tan will surely be willing to reconcile with you.”
Arlene gestured, unsure if it would work, but they had to try.
“Today is… New Year’s Eve?” Xu Huaiming asked.
“Yes, Xu Ge, you didn’t forget that, did you?” Arlene said.
“Oh, no, I didn’t,” Xu Huaiming shook his head and forced a smile. “I just didn’t realize it a moment ago.”
During this time, due to the slow system, he hadn’t received the usual seasonal reminders. He naturally didn’t know that today was New Year’s Eve.
“All right then,” Arlene smiled, “New year, new beginnings. I hope you two can reconcile.”
However, the outcome was clear. Xu Huaiming’s messages went unanswered, and he didn’t even catch a glimpse of Tan Xilu.
After standing in the same spot for two minutes, Xu Huaiming decided to leave.
The child who had taught him how to play with the fairy wand last night had come downstairs to join the snowball fight. He saw Xu Huaiming and greeted him with a smile, saying, “Big brother, are you still here? Do you want to play with the fairy wand again?”
Hearing someone call him, Xu Huaiming turned around and saw the child. He patted the child’s head and said, “No, little brother, I’m waiting for someone.”
The child scratched his head and asked, “Who are you waiting for?”
Xu Huaiming hesitated for a moment, wondering if he should tell the child. But then he thought that the child lived in the same complex, and he might know Tan Xilu. So he replied, “I’m waiting for someone named Tan Xilu. Do you know him?”
“You’re looking for Brother Tan?” the child said. “Brother Tan isn’t at home today. When I went to his place to play this morning, Aunt Tan said he went to the hospital.”
“The hospital?” Xu Huaiming grabbed the child’s hand, his voice tense. “Is he sick again?”
“No, no,” Xu Huaiming’s grip was a bit strong, and the child tried to free himself, shaking his head. “It seems that one of Brother Tan’s students had an accident, and he rushed to the hospital last night.”
Suddenly, Xu Huaiming remembered hearing faint footsteps before his automatic shutdown. It had been so close; he could have wished him a happy new year in person.
“Do you know which hospital he went to?” Xu Huaiming asked.
“I don’t know that,” the child said. “But, Brother, you can check the local news. My mom said that Brother Tan’s student was in a car accident, and it made the news.”
“Okay, thank you,” Xu Huaiming took out a piece of candy from his pocket and gave it to the child.
The child happily accepted the candy and said, “Brother, did you make Brother Tan angry?”
Xu Huaiming looked at the child and nodded.
“Then you should try to make amends,” the child said. “Brother Tan wasn’t alone when he went to the hospital last night.”
Huaiming was taken aback and thought of Li Zhao. His heart ached slightly, and he said, “I understand.”
Xu Huaiming searched the internet for local news and unexpectedly found that Qin Sizhe had been in a car accident. He located the hospital where the news mentioned he was admitted, and then hailed a taxi that happened to pass by.
Ten minutes later, Xu Huaiming arrived at the hospital’s entrance.
On the first day of the lunar new year, the hospital wasn’t as crowded as usual. Xu Huaiming didn’t know which ward Qin Sizhe was in, so he asked the nurse on duty when he passed by the nursing station. He finally found out that Qin Sizhe was on the third floor.
Qin Sizhe had been in surgery for four hours. He was fortunate to have survived, and at four in the morning, the doctor emerged from the operating room and announced to the waiting family members that the surgery had been successful. However, Qin Sizhe had yet to wake up. His injuries weren’t too severe; although he had sustained several injuries, they cleverly avoided vital areas. Post-surgery recovery wouldn’t be too difficult. The only issue was that his leg, which hadn’t healed properly to begin with, had been injured again, and it might take some time to heal.
“As long as he’s okay,” Qin’s mother sighed in relief. She continuously smoothed her chest; if something had happened to Qin Sizhe, she wouldn’t have known how to explain it to the Qin family.
Li Xuandie couldn’t stop crying. Girls were prone to tears, and hearing that the surgery had gone well only made her cry even more.
“Now that everything’s fine, Teacher, you should go back and rest. I’ll stay here,” Qin’s mother said. She had narrowly escaped a catastrophe as well. She shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to avoid Qin Sizhe last night; she didn’t expect Qin Sizhe to be so impulsive.
Qin’s mother shook her head and said, “No, I have to wait for him to wake up. Otherwise, I won’t be able to sleep.”
She turned to Li Xuandie and said, “Xiao Die, why don’t you go back first? Take a shower and get a good night’s sleep. You’re a young girl; you must be scared. Get a good night’s sleep.”
Li Xuandie wiped her tears and said, “I have to wait for Tan Sizhe to wake up.”
Mrs. Tan said, “Then you have to wait cleanly. Look at all the blood on you. What if it scares Tan Sizhe when he wakes up?”
Upon hearing this, Li Xuandie lowered her head and looked at herself. She also realized that being covered in blood didn’t look good. In the end, she nodded.
Tan Xilu had initially been persuaded to leave, but during the day, his fever had just subsided, and now in the evening, he gave his jacket to Li Xuandie. He started coughing again, and his complexion looked somewhat pale.
T/N: Wishing you all a good October! 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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