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MCAB - Chapter 34.1

"How can a person have two one and only's?"

He Bailing was stunned by Jun Zishu's reply. Jun Zishu's words were both affectionate and ironic.

"You are my best friend; that will never change."

To Jun Zishu, her priority would definitely be her mission target. However, if she were to follow her character's original setting, her only best friend should be He Bailing.

"It will never change?"

He Bailing loosened her grip over the hem of her shirt, a smile of self-ridicule appearing on her face.

"I think I better speak frankly. You probably wouldn't understand what I'm trying to say if I keep twisting my words. Simply put, I'm scared that you'll leave me now that you've found a new friend. After all, the gap between us is growing larger and larger. You can freely walk into this kind of store while I might not be able to walk into one even after working for years. You're too excellent, and I'm worried that I can't keep up with you and get left behind," He Bailing said in a somewhat excited voice. She also subconsciously clenched her right hand and placed it over her heart.

He Bailing didn't have many close friends she could rely upon. Out of all the people she knew, only Jun Zishu could give her a reassuring feeling. Thus, she worried that Jun Zishu would leave her after finding a new best friend.

"You are also smart and excellent. You don't need to try to keep up with me. It's fine so long as you progress in the direction you like," Jun Zishu said, tilting her head in confusion.

In reality, He Bailing was also a very talented individual. The only problem was that she had always allowed herself to live under the original Jun Jiayao's shadow. Although the original Jun Jiayao wasn't as outstanding as Jun Zishu, she was still considered an exceptional talent among her peers.

If a person were to chase after someone else's footsteps with feelings of hopes, encouragement, and love, it would naturally be a wonderful thing. However, if a person were to constantly put pressure on themself and live in self-doubt and self-denial while chasing after someone else's footsteps, it would be an incredibly exhausting matter.

"But what if I can't catch up with you? What if I get left behind?"

"So, are you worried that you're inferior to me?" Jun Zishu frankly asked without sympathy.

"No...but..." He Bailing initially wanted to refute Jun Zishu's words but found that she had nothing to say. So, she eventually nodded in defeat and said, "But wouldn't excellent people only make friends with other excellent people? You and I have met with the same experience. I cannot accept myself being so much worse than you."

He Bailing treated Jun Zishu as her only best friend. She would feel happy whenever she looked at Jun Zishu and spent time together with Jun Zishu. Yet, when she was alone by herself at night, her heart and mind would fall into an inexplicable torment.

Why can others be so excellent but not you?

Why can't you keep up with others even after working hard?

Why is she smarter and luckier than you even though she had met with a more tragic fate than you?

Feelings of jealousy and helplessness constantly ate at He Bailing's heart. Then, when He Bailing met with Qin Youran today, alarm bells started ringing in her mind.

See? She has already befriended someone more excellent than you. You're not on the same level as her at all, so why are you still sticking to her so incessantly? You are no longer needed in her life.

"Bailing, you once told me that people cannot have only one friend. She is my best friend, and so are you. So, I won't leave you behind. We even pinky-swore on it before."

Jun Zishu stretched out her right pinky and curled it into a hook.

Unlike the original Jun Jiayao, He Bailing didn't become an orphan because she lost her parents. Instead, her parents abandoned her when she was a baby. Then, once she grew older and found out about her history, she started wondering why she was abandoned.

Did her parents abandon her because she wasn't good enough?

Because of these thoughts, He Bailing started working hard to improve herself every day.

"We said we would be best friends for life, so I won't abandon you," Jun Zishu repeated.

Meanwhile, He Bailing smiled when she saw Jun Zishu's pinky, the darkness on her face vanishing without a trace.

"Mhm."

"I think you should try developing yourself in a different direction instead of focusing on your studies like me. You have a beautiful voice, and you are great at singing. You are much better than me in this regard. Also, don't you like singing very much? So, stop troubling yourself over those unnecessary things and focus on what you're good at."

"Are you comforting me, Yaoyao? I never knew you knew how to comfort people."

"Are you two done talking?" Qin Youran suddenly interrupted. Currently, she held two large paper bags in her hand as she coldly stared at Jun Zishu and He Bailing.

"She said that she wants me to go shopping with her. Do you want to join? You might not like the environment there, though."

Jun Zishu walked over to Qin Youran naturally, taking the paper bags from Qin Youran with one hand and holding Qin Youran's hand with her other hand. She even accidentally clasped fingers with Qin Youran.

Qin Youran's heart shuddered at the unexpected physical contact, the words of refusal she had prepared in her mind vanishing.

Weren't you making a pinky promise with someone else just now? Why are you suddenly taking the initiative to hold hands with me?

Qin Youran had a somewhat difficult time accepting this situation. Eventually, though, the anger in her heart subsided, seemingly appeased.

"What environment are you talking about? Can you stop looking down on me?"

Qin Youran kept her fingers interlocked with Jun Zishu's as she leaned forward and took one of the paper bags Jun Zishu's other hand. Both bags were filled to the brim with clothes, so how could she let Jun Zishu carry everything by herself?

When He Bailing looked at the scene before her, she couldn't help but feel that something was strange. Although she shared a very close relationship with Jun Zishu, the most intimate action they shared was linking arms. Never had they held hands before.

However, He Bailing no longer cared about such details before. Although she held a prejudiced view against Qin Youran before, after listening to Jun Zishu's remarks, she could now look at Qin Youran with an inexplicably calm heart. Her mood had brightened up so much that she could wear a sincere smile right now.

"The clothes there are much cheaper than you think. Their quality is also... Are you sure you want to follow us?"

He Bailing was the one asking this time. She was afraid that Qin Youran would throw a fit when this wealthy young lady arrived at the street market they planned to visit.

"Are you looking down on me?" Qin Youran asked with a raised eyebrow. She felt displeased at being questioned.

"No, no, no. If you're fine with it, let's go then."

He Bailing shrugged. Then, the trio left the mall and made their way to a nearby street market.

He Bailing was the type of girl who looked good in almost everything. Thus, she wasn't very picky when it came to clothing. When shopping for clothes, she would typically enter a shop, find a piece of clothing that she found pleasing to the eyes, and compare the price with her budget. If the price was outside her budget, she would leave and visit another shop.

Meanwhile, Qin Youran had her concept of spending refreshed when she shopped at the street market. She never knew that such cheap clothing existed in this world.

The clothes she typically wore cost upwards of 10,000 yuan, and those in the thousands were few and far between. Whenever she went out to shop for clothes and spent several hundred thousand, she wouldn't find it surprising at all. Instead, she would find it normal.

Thus, Qin Youran was thoroughly astonished when she saw that He Bailing had managed to acquire herself a good-looking outfit for under 200 yuan.

While feeling shocked, Qin Youran frowned as she weaved through the crowd together with Jun Zishu.

The street market they visited wasn't a clean commercial district. Instead, it was an old street with a less-than-pleasing environment. Many people crowded the sidewalks, and the smell of sweat and cheap perfume plagued the air.

"Are you okay? We can leave now if you don't like the smell here. We've already bought what we need, so there's no need to continue staying here," Jun Zishu said with a worried look on her face. Inwardly, though, she laughed when she saw Qin Youran's furrowed brows that could squeeze a fly to death.

"Let's leave, then. Do you still have anything you want to buy?" Qin Youran asked He Bailing for further confirmation.

He Bailing shook her head in response.

Immediately, Qin Youran took Jun Zishu's hand and began moving against the crowd. Then, while walking, she asked Jun Zishu, "You seem used to this environment. Do you come here often?"

"Sometimes, but I don't leave home very often."

The cheap clothing here wasn't the part that Qin Youran felt disgusted about this street market. Instead, what she disliked about this place were the smelly puddles that covered the sidewalks and the strange smell that floated in the air. She would get goosebumps whenever she stepped into one of these puddles or caught a huge whiff of the strange scent.

Even so, Qin Youran did not abandon Jun Zishu and He Bailing and run away. Instead, she silently endured the uncomfortable experience.

"Is there anywhere you two still want to go?" Jun Zishu asked as she opened the door to the car and got inside.

Then, Qin Youran followed Jun Zishu into the back seat and closed the door behind her.

With the door closed, He Bailing felt that it'd be awkward if she opened the door again to sit in the back seat. So, she had no choice but to sit at the front.

"Nothing in particular," Qin Youran said, to which He Bailing nodded in agreement.

"Let's go home, then."

...

Dinner was a sumptuous feast. After dinner, Qin Xiaoman brought out a beautifully decorated cake with fruit fillings. Apart from the lovely decorations, the words "Happy Birthday" were also written on top of the cake.

Today was the 16th birthday of the body Jun Zishu currently occupied. Thus, after today, Jun Zishu would be 17 years old.

"Can we finish such a big cake?"

Jun Zishu was shocked by the cake's size. It was truly a massive cake. Although it wasn't as huge as a wedding cake, it was still impressive compared to normal birthday cakes.

"We can give the rest to the servants. We have so many people in our house, anyway, so no need to worry that it'll go to waste," Qin Xiaoman said with a smile. Then, she placed a paper crown on top of Jun Zishu's head.

Jun Zishu had a dazed and slightly round-looking face. She looked incredibly cute with the crown on her head.

"You don't need to wear your glasses at this time. Come, Mommy will take them off for you."

After setting the crown on Jun Zishu's head, Qin Xiaoman removed Jun Zishu's glasses while she was at it.

With her glasses gone, there was finally nothing covering up Jun Zishu's facial features. Now, she looked even more approachable than before.

Although the glasses weren't Jun Zishu's main body, there was still somewhat of a difference between Jun Zishu with glasses and Jun Zishu without glasses.

Jun Zishu gave off a dull appearance when she had her glasses on, and others would easily mistake her for being an expressionless and emotionless person.

When Jun Zishu took her glasses off, she gave off a significantly different feeling even when she still wore the same expressionless face. Rather than being an emotionless machine, she looked more like a child pretending to be an adult. Anyone who saw her would have the sudden urge to pinch and knead her lovely face.

The yellow crown also added a hint of childishness to Jun Zishu.

"Wow, my daughter is so cute."

Qin Xiaoman grinned and squeezed her daughter's cheeks. Of course, she had controlled her strength and made sure not to hurt Jun Zishu. Though, only after she had kneaded Jun Zishu's cheeks to the point that they had turned red did she remove her hands.

"You look even cuter now," Qin Xiaoman said as she affectionately pinched the tip of Jun Zishu's nose.

Meanwhile, Jun Qi, He Bailing, and Qin Youran fervently nodded in agreement with Qin Xiaoman's words.

Jun Zishu helplessly massaged her cheeks and subconsciously tried to push her non-existent glasses.

When Qin Youran saw Jun Zishu's current appearance, she couldn't help but get the urge to knead Jun Zishu's cheeks and, if possible, make Jun Zishu laugh as well. That way, she would get to see Jun Zishu's sweet dimples as well as lick and suck on them.

However, too many people were present right now, so it wasn't convenient for Qin Youran to make her move. Instead, she decided to only do so once she got the opportunity later in the evening.

Subsequently, Qin Xiaoman and Jun Qi began putting candles on the cake and giving the presents they prepared to their daughter.

Both presents were packed exquisitely, and one could instantly tell that the packages contained something good.

Qin Xiaoman's present was a pen, while Jun Qi's present was a set of books. Both presents matched Jun Zishu's preferences perfectly.

Afterward, He Bailing also took out the present she prepared and gave it to Jun Zishu.

"I... I forgot about this part..." Qin Youran muttered in embarrassment.

Hellscythe's Notes:

MCAB's first patreon goal (150$) has been met! So, expect to see two chapters released on Sundays from now on!

If you would like to read ahead and help increase release rates for MCAB, please consider subscribing to my patreon!

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Other novels I translate on Hosted Novel:
Pantsu Hero Alice (PHA)
Reincarnation of the Strongest Sword God (Side Stories)
After Being Bent By Reader (ABBR)(GL)
Written by 小吾君 Xiao Wu Jun. Translated by Hellscythe. Edited by Grammarly.