Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 137: Standards and Definitions
Ruan Xian didn’t know how to respond to this sentence.
Hurt could be regarded as an important part of the relationship between the two of them. Ruan Xian’s combing of his emotions was almost pathological, and all his feelings were strictly stuffed into various compartments that were finely divided by him. After meeting Tang Yibu, he occasionally allowed himself to be exposed, but that didn’t mean he would confuse his feelings.
He liked Tang Yibu, a lot. There was no doubt about this.
But this didn’t prevent them from suspecting each other, hurting each other, and even considering killing each other. This model of getting along had been fixed in his heart so that even in the most relaxed setting, like tightly embracing each other, he still kept this in mind.
Ruan Xian originally thought Tang Yibu was the same as himself, so after the other party’s behavior appeared, he subconsciously wanted to ask. Unexpectedly, before the question was asked, Tang Yibu already gave the answer readily.
He said he didn’t want him to get hurt.
This must be a joke. Ruan Xian touched the earring stud on his left ear. They all knew that this declaration was tantamount to a fantasy.
“I have thought about it a lot.” But Tang Yibu didn’t seem to have the intention of convergence. He dutifully pretended to be wounded. There were no traces of immersed subtle emotions on his face. On the contrary, he was more excited, like a zoologist who had discovered a new species. “Mr. Ruan, you see, you protected me during the scanner attack—”
“You’re an important combat power, and I was sure that the attack wouldn’t be fatal.”
“You protected me when Commander Zhuo’s aircraft exploded, and you protected me when he attacked—”
“If you’re seriously injured, what happens next would be difficult, and I could easily recover.”
“Oops.” Tang Yibu, who was focused on playing the wounded, tripped and fell. Ruan Xian subconsciously helped the other party up. However, as soon as he finished adjusting his movements, he met the golden eyes of the android, full of banter.
“What about just now?” he asked.
“…Why ask when you already know.” Ruan Xian sighed. “Okay, I admit it. I care about you to a certain extent. So what? You’re not the type who would be swept away by small acts.”
“Actually, I once thought it was a good idea to use the threat of death to bind you to my side.” Tang Yibu rubbed his chin. “Then I thought, since you identify more with humans, maybe I could restrain you with popular ‘interests’ and ‘likes’ among humans… But you still raised your gun at me.”
The ease in Tang Yibu’s tone disappeared and turned into a very academic statement. Ruan Xian felt forced to listen to the experiment report again.
“I always thought there was nothing wrong with my plan. I have studied your character, adopted the most appropriate way of getting close, used all my knowledge of humans, and even consulted Yu Le about things.”
“No, I don’t think Yu Le is a suitable candidate…” Ruan Xian tried to interrupt but failed.
“Not so long ago, I thought that as long as I showed my love for you in a human way, it would further soften you and make you subjectively not want to leave me. I was still wondering just now whether my actions were a bitter ploy motivated by this strategy.”
Having said that, he looked at Ruan Xian with shining eyes that almost telegraphed the words “are you angry” on his face.
Not only was Ruan Xian not angry, he had to try to hold back his smile again. “Is this not it?”
He didn’t know why, but he was in a very good mood and his previous doubts had been resolved. If this was the plan of the android, Ruan Xian wanted to applaud its effect—after all, for a moment, regarding their relationship, he really gave birth to some confusion that shouldn’t exist.
Seeing that Ruan Xian didn’t have the slightest angry reaction, the corners of the android’s mouth drooped in resignation, but he still continued the topic.
“No,” Tang Yibu said softly.
“Why, are you going back to that question again? You really like me so much…” Ruan Xian suppressed his inner doubts and responded casually.
“Neither,” Tang Yibu said solemnly and slowly.
Ruan Xian stopped. He turned his head and stared at Tang Yibu’s beautifully contoured side face.
“Maybe I should use a metaphor to illustrate.” Tang Yibu was silent for a while. “Humans also have such experimental methods—mixing with wild animals to make them think they are a member of the herd. When necessary, it’s also possible to simulate courtship and attract targets through physical or chemical means. But humans are still humans. Can you understand, Mr. Ruan?”
Animals could understand the simulated courtship signals, but humans have their own love. There was an essential difference between the two.
For the animals being studied, those courtship signals may represent true love. They couldn’t understand the higher-level motivation, nor could they distinguish the authenticity of that feeling. From their standpoint, it was undoubtedly a funny thing to praise humans for “truly understanding the emotions of animals” and “gaining the affection of the research target group”.
After all, everything was just an imitation.
Ruan Xian could probably understand what Tang Yibu wanted to express. He just didn’t understand why the other party chose this time and for what purpose.
He knew this from the beginning, and it had nothing to do with his attraction to Tang Yibu.
Ruan Xian didn’t expect the android to really give back. Rather, it was better to say he hadn’t received any feedback from his own kind. On the other hand, Ruan Xian firmly believed that Tang Yibu’s interest in himself was roughly the same, let alone unrealistic expectations.
Self-deception had never been his forte.
Seeing that Ruan Xian was still unresponsive, Tang Yibu simply stopped pretending to be wounded. He stretched out his two hands and pulled Ruan Xian’s face.
“I have been too involved in my research, and I keep putting my reaction towards human-related reserves. But now I’m thinking, is this really necessary?”
Ruan Xian frowned slightly.
“I am the only one of my kind. I don’t know how to define my ‘like’. I don’t know how to distinguish the emotional benchmarks of humans. Now I can’t be sure—I can’t predict your emotions with 100% accuracy. What’s more troublesome is that I found that there may be problems with my previous observation data… But I seem to be one step closer to the answer that I want.”
“…” Ruan Xian was taken aback.
“If I say ‘I like you’ now, it would be very reckless and irresponsible behavior,” Tang Yibu said solemnly. “Because I don’t have any references, I can’t get a firm conclusion. It’s just, I have determined one thing—minus my curiosity and interests, I don’t want to see you hurt. It’s a very novel experience.”
“But I’m also considering that you have the weapons to kill me, the ability to attack me. It’s not easy to lie. It’s impossible for me to let my guard down. This is a problem that I have never encountered before.”
Ruan Xian held his breath for a moment. Were these words from the other party true? Or was it another way to weaken his vigilance?
“So I decided to start a new observation project. Here, give me your hand.” Tang Yibu reached into his pocket and stretched out a clenched fist in front of Ruan Xian.
Ruan Xian stretched out his hand silently, and a black earring fell into his palm.
“A modified one that is different from the earring you’re wearing now. It’s something that can kill you.” Tang Yibu introduced it quite calmly. “I originally planned to change it secretly while you were unconscious, but I didn’t want to do it. Take it, Mr. Ruan. This decision is yours.”
“It’s style is the same as before. I can lie to you that I have already put it on.” Ruan Xian clenched his fists. “You’re fine with that?”
Tang Yibu looked back with an expression of “are you crazy?”. “Of course not! I’m scared! But as a scholar, Mr. Ruan, you must understand that if you want to harvest the most precious data, it’s impossible not to take risks. Because right now, you must be wondering if this is some kind of act again or…”
“It’s really your style,” Ruan Xian interrupted Tang Yibu’s words.
Ruan Xian smiled and didn’t answer.
Assuming that the android really wanted to coax himself further, there were ways. Tang Yibu only needed to follow this favorable situation, analyze his “heart”, and then pretend to destroy this thing in front of him. He may not buy it, but the seed of doubt could be planted smoothly.
But the look Tang Yibu had when he gave the earring to him at that moment was as if he had given his most treasured candy that he had to surrender.
Both naive and cruel.
With the guns in his hand, he now had the advantage. The best choice was to pretend to wear it, take the opportunity to break free from his shackles, and be able to leave this android at anytime, anywhere. He could even keep his first promise and not shoot Tang Yibu with the blood gun, but just leave without saying goodbye. But like Tang Yibu said, he also needed to take risks…
Tang Yibu was destined to find out, and then would completely judge him as an enemy. Everything he said and did would be accompanied by doubt, and when those golden eyes looked at him, there would be no real smile in them then.
Now, he really didn’t want to leave the other party.
The blood guns that could kill Tang Yibu were sleeping in his holster. With his own paper-thin promise, Ruan Xian thought for a while and sighed softly.
He took off the earring. His movements weren’t very proficient, and a little blood seeped out. Ruan Xian didn’t care as he roughly put on the new earring stud.
‘How stupid,’ he thought to himself.
They once again held each other’s lives in their hands; the tip of the knife was equally against each other’s heart, but…
“Does it look appropriate?” he asked calmly. The blood from his fingertips gradually seeped back into his skin.
Tang Yibu widened his eyes a little, as if he hadn’t expected this situation at all.
“…You have ruined my emotional frame of reference.” It took him quite some time before he could say this.
“I feel the same way,” Ruan Xian responded lightly.
The familiar pain came again, as if he had faintly grasped something.
Generally speaking, people were accustomed to separating their emotions and distinguishing them separately. All kinds of feelings between people were like candies stuffed into candy jars, which were sorted into people’s hands when needed.
Those feelings were labeled with various explanations by “common sense”. There seemed to be an unwritten standard for how a normal person should treat them. Accepting love seemed to have an obligation to give back, regardless of whether that love was reasonable or not. Even the person who gave this love would be affected by those standards…
I love you so much. Why don’t you respond to me? This is your mistake. Common sense stands by my side.
But was it really like that?
Ruan Xian looked at the scar on his wrist and suddenly felt an indescribable sense of relief in his heart.
Tang Yibu wasn’t the only one who sets all kinds of emotions to human standards. He had been walking according to that set of standards for more than 20 years. Now that standard was also beginning to collapse in his psyche—Were those feelings really “candies” that could be classified in advance?
At least there was no standard that could accurately define the complex feelings between himself and the creature in front of him.
Whether it was a means of not wanting to let him go, or the imitation skill of a superior observer, it was he himself who was attracted, and also himself who made this judgment about his inner feelings. As long as he still had the ability to kill Tang Yibu, this judgment had its meaning.
It was unique. Perhaps they were all unique, but people just get the wrong explanation.
“You just said that you can’t define your feelings. It’s a pity that I’m not your kind, so I don’t know the habits of androids.” Ruan Xian opened his mouth again. “But for my situation… As a human, I have a pretty good personal definition.”
Tang Yibu seemed to still be bearing the impact of his shock as he looked at Ruan Xian in confusion.
Ruan Xian took two steps forward and didn’t mind making the android in front of him more confused—Not it seemed that this feeling was very egotistical and crazy, but fortunately, Tang Yibu was as crazy as he was, and wouldn’t really be affected by it.
He might have gained some kind of freedom.
“I love you,” Ruan Xian said softly, blowing a breath into the android’s ear.
After saying that, he didn’t bother to look at Tang Yibu’s reaction. He took a few steps forward and followed Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman in front of him. “How’s the situation with π?”
Tang Yibu didn’t say a word until he got back into Yu Le’s car. If it weren’t for the other party’s heartbeat, Ruan Xian would even think that there was nothing wrong with his body.
“Normal recovery takes two weeks.” After working for more than an hour, Ji Xiaoman exhaled, put down the tweezers in her hand, and touched the iron bead. “This kind of mechanical life makes its own shell by ingesting external metal parts. What I can do is help it remove the deformed parts, temporarily weld on a protective shell that covers the internal tissues, and then feed it more parts that have, uh, nutrients.”
The iron bead lay on the seat of the armored off-roader. Its four feet were pedaling towards the sky, looking very dissatisfied.
“Then feed it this too.” Ruan Xian took out the old earrings he had taken off before, with his blood on them. “The material should be quite rare.”
He didn’t know if his blood was useful for a mechanical life on the level of an iron bead.
As if intending to get angry with Ruan Xian, the iron bead twisted under his hands. Unfortunately, the earring was obviously more tempting, so as the iron bead twisted, drool splattered everywhere. Finally, succumbing to its appetite, it swallowed it obediently.
Ruan Xian raised his head and glanced casually, facing Tang Yibu’s peeking gaze.
After seeing each other, Tang Yibu immediately turned his neck and pretended to look out of the car window. The speed was so fast that Ruan Xian even heard a rattle in the other party’s neck.
“Turn right thirty degrees,” Tang Yibu said stiffly.
“Oh.” Yu Le steered and navigated through the gaps in a collapsed abandoned building. “I really haven’t seen any pursuers.”
“They’ll focus on the way to another petri dish,” Tang Yibu said. “The Android Show is surrounded by surveillance, and there’s not much intelligence to be gained. This direction is the least guarded. I’ve modified this car’s shielding system. There won’t be—there won’t be—Mr. Ruan?”
“Do you hate it?” Ruan Xian leaned on Tang Yibu’s shoulder carelessly and yawned. “If you hate it, I’ll lean somewhere else.”
“I have modified the shielding system of this car, and no one will find out.” This time, Tang Yibu replied fluently, pressing Ruan Xian’s head firmly on his shoulder with one hand.
Ruan Xian: “……”
The iron bead with a tin patch on one side grunted louder. Tang Yibu used his other hand to pet it before it finally stopped whimpering.
“Since it’s full of surveillance, what should we do?” Ji Xiaoman obviously didn’t care as much about the atmosphere in the car as Yu Le, so she continued to ask realistic questions.
“The surveillance there is different from The Glass Conservatory. It’s mainly used to broadcast the show,” Tang Yibu replied solemnly. “We probably know the area where Ruan Xian is located. Next, we just need to skillfully avoid public attention. There’s no script on The Android Show, so it’s not surprising that a vehicle like this would appear.”
“Avoid public attention.” The familiar body temperature made Ruan Xian feel a little sleepy. “It seems that you are quite familiar with The Android Show.”
“Nn,” Tang Yibu responded in a low voice. “I have been in that place for a few years.”
Ruan Xian was instantly awake. He slowly moved Tang Yibu’s hand on his head away and raised his head.
“…And almost died there,” Tang Yibu said softly.
Kyaaaaaaaa. BTW yes, Ruan Xian did say wo ai ni (我爱你) so this isn’t just “like”. I love the relationship between the two.