Chapter 107: The Real World
At 1:30 am, Xing Ye returned to the real world.
"Little mirror? Lu Mingze?" Xing Ye called, but no response came.
Xing Ye hastily picked up his phone. The display read: Please pick a host for your prop. Reminder: once chosen, the prop's host cannot be changed throughout your week in the real world.
That meant if he chose a full body mirror for Lu Mingze, if he wanted to bring Lu Mingze to visit his parents, he would have to carry the entire thing.
Xing Ye looked at the full-size mirror in his dressing room and shook his head. Even a car mirror would be better than that.
Of course, he wouldn't actually choose a car mirror. If he did, the little mirror would probably start crying.
Xing Ye searched through his house for a long time but couldn't find any mirror he could easily bring around. Neither he or Xing Shuo cared very much about their own appearances- just tidying themselves up in the morning was enough for them. They wouldn't carry around a mirror to check their face, so neither of them had any small mirrors.
The system reminded Xing Ye to choose a suitable host in the next thirty minutes. Otherwise, it would assume they forfeited this week's opportunity to return to the real world. If the didn't make a choice soon, the mirror would be steaming mad.
Just as Xing Ye was seriously entertaining the idea of detaching the side view mirror from his car, he suddenly recalled there was a small mirror in the razor kit his assistant prepared for him. It was relatively normal for a man to carry around a travel razor kit. He searched through his house for it, finally finding the box with five minutes left to spare.
He scanned the mirror with his phone and confirmed the skill's activation. After everything was done, the image of a little Lu Mingze appeared on the mirror's 10 x 7 cm frame.
"Ahh!! I'm so happy I returned to the real world!" Lu Mingze danced in the mirror happily.
Xing Ye sighed. He had finally brought the mirror back.
Although it was only the form of a small mirror, it was a big step.
Lu Mingze was very excited. He wanted to see his parents immediately, but when he saw the time, his face fell. It was still 2 am in the morning. He said softly, "Let's sleep. Time will pass faster if we sleep a while."
"I'll sleep later." Xing Ye said, "I was planning to handle some work in the morning and visit your body in the afternoon. But since plans have changed, I'll do the work now so tomorrow's free."
"No, don't. Work is important, and I'm not that selfish. I can wait half a day." The mirror said, "When I was young, I'd always wonder why my Dad was never home. He never celebrated my birthday with me once. During New Year's, he would also always be with a bunch of strangers. But when I got older, I realized certain people have responsibilities they must fulfill. Somebody who earns $5000 a month has different responsibilities from somebody who earns $50,000, $500,000, or $100,000,000 a month. Dad's responsibilities are very heavy. I can't let myself be selfish and add to that.
"Plus, I enjoy a life more luxurious than most people can afford. If I want wind, I can buy it. If I want rain, I'll get it. I can't be greedy and want the moon too."
Xing Ye poked Lu Mingze's face in the mirror: "It's not that important. If it was a meeting with an important client or an investor, then I wouldn't be able to push it off even if I wanted to. It's just a few things I need to look over and respond to, as well as some matters at the company I need to handle. It'll be done quickly if I stay up."
"But your assistants will be woken up in the middle of the night," The little mirror said, "It's not good for you or them. If you keep staying up, you'll turn bald, and if you turn bald, you'll be ugly!"
Xing Ye rubbed his thick head of hair and didn't feel any signs of his hairline shifting. He smiled confidently, "You can be a little more selfish."
"I'm selfish up to a point that's acceptable." Lu Mingze jumped in the mirror, "Weird, why can I only see your huge face but can't see your hair? Isn't this mirror too small? What kind of mirror did you pick for me?"
Xing Ye: "..."
The mirror was indeed a bit cramped for Lu Mingze, but the only other choice was taking the side view mirror from his car. That would be even more sad.
"It's a razor kit's mirror." Xing Ye showed Lu Mingze his new home.
Lu Mingze: "..."
He thought for a moment, "Uhh, let's both take a step back. You, go to sleep. Follow your original schedule and finish your work tomorrow morning, then see my parents and my body in the afternoon. As for me, I'll also be more selfish and raise my standards. This week, can you buy me a better and more spacious mirror? I've never lived in such a cramped space my whole life, outside of the game world."
The mirror was truly pitifully small. Lu Mingze was close to tears- even the smallest capsule hotel on the market wasn't this tiny. His field of view was limited to half a face.
Xing Ye nodded, "Don't worry, I'll have my subordinates look for the most beautiful, expensive, fanciest, coolest, elegant mirror ever, fit for a once-in-a-millennia beauty like you. But for these seven days, I can't do anything about your current situation."
Lu Mingze said, "Okay, but don't get too caught up in it. I want a lowkey, but high-quality mirror with a refined finish."
"Okay." Xing Ye rubbed the razor box, feeling both sorry and wanting to laugh.
Xing Ye turned off the lights and got into bed. He put the razor box- no, the little mirror, beside his pillow. Xing Ye felt very peaceful, a long-forgotten sense of tranquility washing over him.
He suddenly said, "If you have time, can you come with me to pay respects? Tomorrow marks the fifth week of Xing Shuo's death. I want to visit him."
"No problem." In the dark, the mirror's voice sounded as soft as ever, giving Xing Ye a sense of peace.
He got a rare night of good sleep. When Xing Ye woke up, his face was smushed against the razor box. The mirror's voice was cold: "Please move your face away. It's so big it's awful."
Xing Ye rubbed his mouth. At least there wasn't any drool.
"Did you get some sleep? Psychological sleep, I mean." Xing Ye washed up as he asked.
The mirror answered, "I didn't. It's different from the system space. In the system space, there's almost no concept of time- seven days could pass in the blink of an eye. The real world's different. The slowness is very uncomfortable. At least there's the sound of you snoring here. Oh right, your snoring is quite loud. Loud snoring is a sign of bad cardiovascular health and can be an illness. You should get it checked out. Did you drink a lot of alcohol when you were younger?"
"I'm still quite young, thank you very much. But a few years ago, I was drinking quite a bit." Xing Ye said, "It's better now. There aren't many who dare to pour me alcohol now."
"Then you should take care of your body." The mirror said, "I always hear my Mom say that to my Dad."
"Okay, I'll listen to you." Xing Ye felt his heart warm.
With the little mirror, his home finally seemed to have a bit of life.
As he went about his work in the morning, Xing Ye kept the razor box open so the mirror could accompany him throughout. The little mirror didn't make a sound, quietly watching him work.
Xing Ye was engrossed in his work. When he finally raised his head and glanced at the mirror, he saw a row of text written on the razor box: You look more handsome working than normal. It's 7% of my charm out of 100%.
"Thank you." Xing Ye held the mirror and thanked Lu Mingze for his praise.
His assistant still waiting for instructions: "..."
Today, the boss walked into his office and put his travel razor kit on his desk. From time to time, he would look at his own reflection in the kit's little mirror with eyes filled with affection. The boss was only 29. He was wealthy, single, and led a clean private life. Despite that, he never engaged in blind dates or interacted with women in private. He was simply the epitome of a top-tier bachelor.
Assistant Qi used to think if the boss ever got married, he might not have deep feelings for his spouse, but he would definitely be responsible for his family. He would fulfill all the duties expected of him and live a peaceful, loyal life.
But now, the boss seemed to have fallen in love with his own reflection...
The assistant was scared at his own imagination, raising a row of goosebumps.
Xing Ye noticed his assistant's twisted expression and was confused. Didn't he just praise his assistant for a strong report and analysis? Why did his assistant look scared instead?
After finishing his work, Xing Ye told Assistant Qi, "Keep an eye out for good mirrors."
"Mirrors?" Assistant Qi tried his hardest to not let an expression of surprise spill through, "May I ask what kind of mirror? Do you want to install a full-length mirror on the wall so it's more convenient to tidy up your appearance?"
His wording was very tactful, satisfying Xing Ye's request while flattering him.
But Xing Ye didn't get the meaning behind his words and just shook his head, "No, not a big mirror. I want one that can be easily carried around with a size that can fit in a briefcase, on a bedside cabinet, or office desk. The mirror needs to be elegant, expensive, high-quality, unique, and most importantly, beautiful. It should make the face reflected in the mirror look dignified and handsome."
"What?" Assistant Qi was so surprised that even blurted out his dialect.
But he quickly composed himself. Looking at Xing Ye's exceptionally radiant, meticulously-shaven, handsome face today, Assistant Qi kept a professional expression on his face and asked calmly, "I understand. May I ask what the budget is?"
Xing Ye said, "The price doesn't matter. Withdraw the money from my personal account."
"Okay, understood." Assistant Qi gave a small smile and left the office with Xing Ye's signed report.
"Assistant Qi is my special assistant. He's very careful and usually takes charge in preparing gifts for clients. He always investigates each client's preferences and has never disappointed me. With him, you don't have to worry about getting a good mirror." Xing Ye introduced his excellent subordinate to Lu Mingze.
"Your assistant..." In the mirror, Lu Mingze lowered his head unhappily.
Whenever his dad bought him gifts, it was always his assistant who chose them. Although they were things Lu Mingze liked, his favorite was still the book of fairy tales his Dad picked for him when he was a kid.
After finishing his work, Xing Ye visited Lu Dong as scheduled.
Lu Dong and him had agreed to meet in the afternoon, so even if he did finish his work early last night, they wouldn't be able to see Lu Dong. After all, Lu Dong was also very busy. Xing Ye would only be able to visit the medical center, but going directly without informing Lu Dong would've been very impolite.
Fortunately, Lu Mingze understood and didn't change Xing Ye's schedule.
Although Lu Dong was very busy, he was happy to see Xing Ye. The stress of his son's situation made Lu Dong look haggard. Seeing Xing Ye, a young friend connected with his son, was a pleasure. It was rare these days to find someone who cherished old friends.
The two chatted for a while. Lu Dong mentioned Lu Mingze's childhood.
"This son of mine, I don't know what luck he was born with. He has all the best parts of me and his mother. The only problem is that he's a bit too good looking. He even almost got abducted before. I thought they were kidnappers or human traffickers, but it was just somebody who wanted to take him home because he was good-looking." Lu Dong's eyes was shiny as he looked at a photograph on the table.
Xing Ye's pocket kept on shaking. After pushing the mirror down several times without success, a razor kit fell out.
"Xing, you dropped something." Lu Dong pointed at the expensive vintage razor kit.
Xing Ye had a feeling that if he didn't let the little mirror meet Lu Dong today, he might cry all day when they went home.
But how could he get Lu Dong to pick up the razor kit and look at the mirror.
Xing Ye internally took a deep breath and forced a smile, "Lu, I think there's something on your face. Here, take a look."
With that, he casually opened the razor mirror and gave the little mirror to Lu Dong.
"Is there?" Lu Dong picked up the mirror and looked, "I don't think so."
Xing Ye heard the little mirror cry out, "Dad, it's me! It's me, can you see me? Can you hear my voice?"
Unfortunately, only Xing Ye could hear his voice and see him in the mirror.
Xing Ye was restricted by the system and couldn't tell Lu Dong about Lu Mingze's situation.
The mirror did its duty in silence. Lu Dong politely handed the razor kit back to Xing Ye.
Xing Ye apologized, "Sorry, I must've seen wrong. It might be some eye floaters, it's a symptom of looking at screens in the dark too much. When I have time, I'll go to the hospital for a check up."
Lu Dong was very patient. Not only was he not angry, he even advised Xing Ye considerately, "Young people need to take more care of their health."
Having said that, he was reminded of Lu Mingze again. He covered his face, discreetly wiping away his tears as he choked, "Didn't you come here to see Mingze? Go on, I still have some work to do here. I know you and Mingze knew each other when you guys were young. If you really want to visit Mingze again for old time's sake, you can. I'll have my assistant give you a visitor's card for the medical center."
The facilities in the medical center Lu Dong prepared for Lu Mingze were naturally the best of the best. Normal people couldn't enter if they wanted to.
Xing Ye did need to visit Lu Mingze frequently and politely accepted Lu Dong's kindness.
After leaving Lu Dong's office, Xing Ye opened the razor kit in the empty corridor and said to Lu Mingze, "Don't cry. Trust me, I won't let you be sad again."
Before Lu Mingze could wipe away his tears and answer, Lu Dong's voice sounded behind Xing Ye. "Uh... Ye, I wanted to introduce an eye doctor to you..."
Xing Ye: "..."
He put away the mirror expressionlessly and didn't respond to Lu Dong's words.
Lu Dong handed the eye doctor's card to Xing Ye and thought for a moment before adding, "I know young people like to use special ways to relieve stress and boost morale. It's a good thing. I admire you. You're young, but calm, self-disciplined, and know healthy ways to vent your emotions. Compared to nine years ago, you have matured into a qualified and strong leader.
"I saw you talking to a mirror in the dark, but it's okay. I understand. I admire how you can use it to regulate your emotions, so there's no need for you to feel embarrassed."
Xing Ye: "... Thank you."
After arriving at the medical center, Xing Ye found Mother Lu was also visiting Lu Mingze.
Mother Lu's heart surgery was successful, but she needed time to recuperate and avoid over-exerting herself. As such, she's staying in the medical center for recovery in the same room as Lu Mingze.
Seeing Xing Ye come to visit Lu Mingze again, Mother Lu felt moved, but she had mixed feelings.
She recalled last time, when she saw Xing Ye holding Lu Mingze's hand. She felt complicated, but didn't say anything. After all, Xing Ye was a responsible person, and it wasn't a bad thing to come and talk with her son.
This time, Xing Ye firmly held the mirror to prevent it from jumping out of his pocket. Until he thought of a good excuse, he absolutely couldn't let the mirror meet Mother Lu. Using the same excuse twice on a married couple would be too obvious.
Mother Lu chatted with Xing Ye briefly before leaving the ward, giving Xing Ye some time alone with Lu Mingze.
However, Mother Lu still couldn't feel at ease. After leaving the ward, she glanced at the crack between the door. She watched as Xing Ye take out a razor box from his pocket and opened it to speak to the mirror, "Don't be sad. Look at yourself- you'll always be the most handsome."
Mother Lu silently shut the door and walked away.
It looks like her worries were needless. He was probably somebody like her son, who was very confident about his appearance. Then it's no wonder why Xing Ye often visited her son after he fell into a coma. Losing Lu Mingze, a friend that shared the same hobby, was like losing a spiritual pillar of support.
Mother Lu sat on a chair and continued to ponder silently. Lu Mingze was so beautiful that he only liked himself, so it was normal to see him talking to a mirror. But Xing Ye seemed like a mature and calm man. It was hard to imagine him acting so childish.
Maybe you truly couldn't judge a book by its cover.
After a while, Mother Lu saw Xing Ye come out holding the mirror. When he saw her, he asked, "Excuse me ma'am, but can you help me hold my mirror for a moment? There's... some dust on my shoe I want to clean."
She kindly helped Xing Ye hold the open mirror. She watched as he squatted, took out a thousand dollar handkerchief from his pocket, and wiped at a non-existent speck of dust on his spotlessly clean shoes for a full five minutes before taking back the mirror.
Mother Lu: "..."