Past four o’clock in the afternoon, before sunset, Zhu rushes to the hospital with a formally approved letter of authorisation.
“The police from the district branch have all been called back. Just now I ran into Little Li downstairs, and he said he would treat us to dinner later, so…”
Zhu stops here, and swallows the rest down… because she sees Shen walking towards them with a drink. She pauses, and switches to a more subtle tone, “Now the case is entirely up to us, what do you think we should do.”
Shen senses the doubt in her eyes, and quickly stuffs the drink in Zhao’s hand, and says considerately, “You get to work, I’ll leave you alone.”
Zhao grabs him, and shows his true nature, that of a sticky candy, “I’m not letting you go. What if you change your mind, and I can’t find you anymore after you’re gone?”
There are always passers-by in the corridors of the hospital. Besides, Zhao is a tall and well-built handsome, so he has always been quite an eye-catcher. Not to mention now he is getting handsy and intimate with another man, and soon there are curious eyes staring.
Shen quickly glances around, and whispers, “We’re still outside. Be careful.”
Zhao hears, and immediately turns towards the people who are staring, staring back at them, and says without a care, “Whatcha looking at? You’ve never seen handsome gay guys?”
They really haven’t seen one so bossy and full of himself, and embarrassingly turn away.
Zhao tries to ingratiate himself with Shen, and turns to him, “hee hee hee.”
Shen is speechless.
Zhu cannot believe this idiotic guy is supposed to be their brave and formidable Chief Zhao. Her raging heart withers until four words are left: what an appalling sight.
But Shen lightly frowns, and says, “You are working, it’s not very appropriate for me to stay.”
Zhu whispers, “Yea, Chief Zhao, we have regulations…”
Zhao interrupts, “I set the regulations, if I don’t like them I can change them anytime… besides the regulations say to avoid outsiders witnessing or participating, but he’s not an outsider.”
Shen is stunned. For a moment, he thinks Zhao is about to reveal his identity.
But Zhao lowers his voice, and says to Zhu with a smug face, “He’s my ‘wife’.”
Shen is left speechless again.
Zhu turns towards the window after a moment of silence, and says to Guo, much like saying “the number you have dialled is not in service”, with the same monotonous voice, “Little Guo, look, the sunset is so green! It looks like it was marinated in vinegar!”
Guo rubs his eyes.
Zhao coughs dryly, adjusts the look on his face, and resumes his composure as the Chief, “Alright… Zhu, call the guys, I want the whole team here. Especially Lin, last night he left very early, today I’ll have him know the consequences.”
Zhu gives him an “okay” and turns around to send a message to everyone in criminal investigations at No. 4 Bright Avenue, “Come to Yellow Stone Temple Hospital, have a look at the smug face on our bastard Chief.”
And so everyone rushes to the hospital before the sky is dark. And yet there is nothing for them to see, just Zhao sitting there like a boss, ordering everyone around, “Old Chu, go to the rooftop and set up two layers of ‘net’, one way in, no way out; don’t let him escape. Little Guo follow him, and write me a learning report. Zhu go and set up ‘surveillance alarms’, and isolate this area, turn it into your zone, don’t let anyone enter. Make it clean, don’t leave any traces… Da Qing will help with that.”
Da Qing is listening to Lin, who’s whispering, “Look at Professor Shen’s hand, it’s wrapped in gauze. Just how much of a beast is our Chief.” And as Da Qing is lost in imagination, it hears its name and quivers.
Shen uncomfortably pulls down his sleeve.
“As for Lin…” Zhao takes out a small bottle, and Lin has an ominous inkling.
Zhao smiles cunningly, and says to Lin, “Inside is a fragment of grudge taken from one of the victims.”
Chu explains to the newcomer who knows nothing, “All evil ghosts are born from grudge. Fragments of grudge will be left on people they make contact with, and they are like his tentacles. Since their nature is the same, the ghost will react to it.”
Guo has been following Zhao around all day, and he hasn’t had dinner. As he hears this, somehow he thinks of grilled octopus balls, and swallows a mouthful of saliva; his stomach bellows.
Chu is left speechless.
Sometimes he really can’t understand what this piece of garbage is thinking all day.
Zhao crosses his legs, and throws the bottle to Lin, “One was killed accidentally today, but the thing didn’t show up, probably couldn’t during the day. At night, I’m afraid he won’t fall for the trap, so your mission is to crush the tentacle inside when it’s night time, and lure the evil ghost into Zhu’s zone.”
Lin silently looks at him, and then looks at the small bottle in his hand. Realising he is to become a human shield, he denounces with the emotional weight of a speaker at a funeral, “You’re using me as bait.”
Zhao does not hesitate, “Yea, so what?”
He can so openly admit to his immorality, you can see just how carefree he is!
Lin looks around, and only sees the black cat’s cunning sneer and all the others being void of expressions and sympathy; despair rises up within him.
The fake monk suddenly turns around, and pounces towards Shen who has been standing against the wall quietly, “The King wants to use me as sacrifice, please save me, Queen!”
Shen is speechless.
When he’s the Ghost Slayer, whoever sees him acts like a mouse seeing a cat. He has never been joked with like that, and doesn’t know how to respond. As though seeking help, he turns towards Zhao.
Zhao finds this especially flattering and amusing. He looks the other way.
Shen pauses for a thought, and takes the bottle, “Then how about I go.”
As soon as Shen says that, Lin realises what will go wrong. Of course, he instantly feels two glaring eyes piercing straight through his spine from behind. The gaze comes with a force that seems to pin him on to the wall and slash him with a thousand swords.
Lin laughs dryly, and takes the bottle back. He walks away, and says quickly, “Amitabha. Battling evil and protecting the lives and property of the people are our responsibilities. It’s a glorious and daunting mission, how can I abandon it? I’m going.”
Then, the fake monk runs away at the speed of light.
Shen asks, “So what can I do to help?”
“Oh,” Zhao says, “I know there’s a decent restaurant nearby, you can have dinner with me.”
Shen is left in embarrassing silence.
Zhu grits her teeth, “Angry but dare not say anything.”
Chu drops his head, “Dare not say.”
Da Qing meows.
Guo really dares not say anything.
Luckily Professor Shen is kind-hearted, and he sees the look on everyone’s faces and hears their spoken thoughts, so he shakes his head, “How’s that appropriate? How about this, you stay here, and I’ll help you guard the life door. If anything happens, I can help.”
After he says this, everyone is silent.
Zhu instantly looks at Shen with very complex emotions, and even Chu is lost in thought. But Guo stupidly asks for clarification, “What’s the life door?”
Chu ignores him, gets serious, and asks, “How does Professor Shen know what formation my two layers of ‘net’ will be in?”
Shen smiles lightly, “‘Two Layers, Four Doors, Eight Trigrams; Life Door, one way in, Death Door, no way out.’ I figured it out from the surveillance spots Yunlan pointed out… it’s just that if the grudge is too strong, the evil ghost might break the ‘net’, if the life door becomes a death door, then the formation will lose control. I will stand by the guarding eye, just in case.”
As he finishes, he nods towards everyone politely, and then looks at Zhao. Bending down slightly, he lowers his voice and says, “I’m going then, you be careful.”
Zhao sees him out, feeling great.
This time neither Zhu nor Chu are using what Shen said to tease Zhao, they both turn towards him. The black cat Da Qing lies on the window sill, and sees Shen walking outside the hospital, and precisely standing on to the ‘spot’. It even seems like he already knows it’s watching, and smiles, looking up.
Da Qing’s eyes sparkle, “An expert.”
Zhu lowers her voice, her eyebrows tightening, “Chief Zhao, who is this Professor Shen?”
Zhao is in a splendid mood, and doesn’t mind her tone. He says half-jokingly, “You wouldn’t want to know.”
Da Qing turns around, and stares at him with emerald eyes, “So you know?”
Zhao sluggishly leans on the chair, and asks with a fake smile, “Is there anything I don’t know?”
Zhu starts firing, “I found it strange a long time ago… he was there in the first case involved with the Sundial, and then a second time he just so happened to be with us in the mountains where the Pillar was. Dragon City is so big, I don’t even recognise all my neighbours, how can there be so many coincidences? Don’t you think it’s too deliberate? You…”
Zhao blinks. He didn’t think Zhu would be so agitated.
Even Chu looks at her silently.
“Oh, about the Four Artifacts, there really is a reason behind.” Zhao pauses, “But I think he probably doesn’t want you to know, so about him, I can’t tell you anything, please understand, okay.”
So the man who considers himself brothers with the gods above said “please understand”, but Zhu is not touched at all. What she’s feeling is inexplicable.
If Shen were just an ordinary professor from Dragon City University, then she can talk about these two like a joke with Lin and the gang, teasing the Chief, and even writing stories about them on Weibo. And yet, now that she knows Shen is not so ordinary… and he even might be partly the “same kind” of people as them, she is feeling very difficult.
Like someone pierced her heart with a fine needle, not gently, but not heavily, and a painful and numbing liquid oozes out.
Chu asks, “Then is he an expert in formation? Maybe we can discuss that when we’re free?”
Da Qing’s tail stands up, and asks doubtfully, “So this time you’re not involved with a normal human, what’re you gonna do? Even if you can’t tell us, at least let us know which tribe he’s from?”
Zhu is still frowning with a solemn face… as if Zhao didn’t just find a partner, but a sugar daddy.
Finally, Zhao’s temporary good temper because of his good mood crumples in the face of their vigorous questioning, and he impatiently waves, “Go do your job! Fuck off! Why are you so nosy? Did I say this is a press conference?”
Chu runs off with Guo, full of excitement; he decides to make an impeccable net tonight… better not make a mishap in front of an expert.
Zhu still wants to say something, but Da Qing jumps off from the chair and turns around, meowing towards her. Zhu takes a deep breath, looks down, her fists clenching under the sleeves, and silently follows Da Qing.
Zhao senses Zhu’s subtle hostility, but he doesn’t mind… he thinks that women are particularly attentive to details and also particularly prone to thinking too much. He suddenly brought someone like Shen into their circle, and without any explanation, so she must be feeling insecure.
So he considerately calls her, “Hey, wait.”
Zhu stops at her feet.
Zhao says, “You see, I can’t say anything, out of respect for him. But I assure you there’s nothing to worry about, just treat him as me.”
Zhu doesn’t say anything after hearing that, and just walks away. She really wants to slap Zhao across the face.