FRS: Chapter 22 – Unknown Love (4)
Translator: Momoe Pom
Quality Check: Isabelle
First Published on Ainushi.
Even though he covered them with a mattress, the tiles on the eaves still hurt his back.
Fan JiJing put both hands behind his head and stared at the night sky in silence.
Under the eaves, Hua HuaiXiu was making a bed while vaguely humming a song out of tune. He seemed to be in a good mood.
Perhaps influenced by Hua HuaiXiu’s mood, the corners of Fan JiJing’s mouth also curled up a bit.
A few dim stars were scattered around; there was no trace of the bright moon, and yet the night sky appeared even more vast and boundless.
Fan JiJing closed his eyes. He hadn’t had this kind of tranquility for a very, very long time since the death of his parents.
But evidently, some people didn’t like his tranquility.
The cool breeze brought forth some soft footsteps.
He opened his eyes and stood up in silence, staring coldly at the seven shadowy figures who had snuck in from behind the inn.
The hitmen from the Assassin Sect might not be as skilled in martial arts as the ones from the Xuetu Hall or as good at soul-controlling arts as the disciples from the Lanyan League, but they topped in perseverance. No matter how many casualties they suffered, as long as the goal was not achieved, they would never give up.
As if they had felt Fan JiJing’s gaze, the hitmen quickly dispersed, rushing toward Fan JiJing from seven different angles.
Fan JiJing took down the sword scabbard from his waist.
His movement was casual and graceful, but in the eyes of the hitmen, it happened in a mere instant.
Three of them suddenly marched forwards, hiding the other four behind them.
Sword lights glittered.
Like fireworks, they decorated the night sky.
The three hitmen only felt a chill on their necks before they involuntarily fell back.
Those who followed closely after them were slightly hindered by the collapsing corpses, but they were able to quickly turn their bodies sideways to step onto the nearest eaves and continued charging toward Fan JiJing.
However, by the time the tips of their blades arrived, the target had already disappeared from his spot.
“Disturbing other people is very impolite.”
The flat sigh blended into the cool breeze, echoing next to their ears.
The hitmen turned back their heads in panic only to send their heads flying into the air because they had turned too quickly. The moment before they lost consciousness, they saw that person smiling in front of the four bodies that were still upright.
The window was pushed open with a squeak.
Hua HuaiXiu poked out his head.
Fan JiJing was standing in the yard, sweeping the dead leaves with a very big broom.
“You got nothing else to do?” Hua HuaiXiu frowned.
Anyone who heard such a big broom sweeping back and forth outside their window at midnight would not be in a good mood.
Fan JiJing raised his head, blowing on both of his hands and replied, “It’s too cold outside. I have to move a little.”
Hua HuaiXiu raised his eyebrows and pointed at the solitary water jar at the corner of the yard. “Go fill it with water.”
Fan JiJing replied, feeling wronged, “It takes at least fifteen round trips to fill this jar.”
Hua HuaiXiu curled up the corner of his mouth into a spurious smile, asking, “Isn’t that exactly what you want?”
Fan JiJing wanted to bargain a little more, but the window was shut mercilessly.
He lifted his head up. With the same posture, he stared blankly at the silhouette casted onto the window by the candlelights as it gradually became blurred and then merged into the darkness.
Blood slowly trickled out underneath the dead leaves covering it.
Fan JiJing lowered his head and sighed softly.
Maybe he should think of a cleaner way to kill next time.
Wind blew across, rolling up the leaves with it. Several of them fell next to the water jar, as if they were reminding him of the assignment tonight.
Fan JiJing had no choice but to walk over. He turned his head and looked around. Only after making sure that no one was peeking did he finally bend over and pick up the water jar. Tapping the floor with one foot, he disappeared outside the courtyard wall with one leap.
Afternoon the next day.
Hua HuaiXiu came down the stairs, feeling refreshed.
Once a nerve which had been tense for many days was able to unwind, it would become so relaxed that it was practically out of control. Hua HuaiXiu was almost able to sleep all the way till the next morning, if only his empty stomach was not so unbearable.
It was precisely the least busy time for the entire inn.
The waiter and the innkeeper were both leaning against the counter as they chatted idly.
Fan JiJing was taking a nap on a table close to the street. He was the only person in the otherwise completely empty hall on the first floor.
He had probably heard the footsteps as he slowly lifted his head. His bleary eyes, after meeting Hua HuaiXiu’s, brightened in an instant.
Hua HuaiXiu walked straight up to him and took out a small piece of silver from his money bag, “Here! Go order.”
Fan JiJing sat up straight and whined, “I didn’t sleep the whole night.”
Hua HuaiXiu replied without much thought, “The Fan JiJing in the past would not say something like this.”
Fan JiJing’s expression immediately changed into a straightforward and good-natured smile as he asked, “Cousin, what do you want to eat?”
Hua HuaiXiu shivered inside.
He had seen people who turned hostile faster than they could turn over the page of a book. There were lots of people like this in the business world. However, they were all very aware of each other as in how many tricks they had, when they would fall out, and when they would play along. There had never been someone like Fan JiJing who would change whenever he wanted with no reason behind it and no sign to look for.
Seeing how Hua HuaiXiu’s face turned cold, Fan JiJing put away his smile at once, asking, “Cousin?”
“You’ve suffered a lot.” Hua HuaiXiu slowly said.
It was Fan JiJing’s turn to shiver inside this time, “Why would Cousin say that?”
“Nothing, just moved by some emotions.” In fact, Hua HuaiXiu was trying to convince himself. Today’s Fan JiJing existed because of all those events in those years, and therefore it was not his fault. If someone was at fault, it was Bu LouLian’s fault, so he should not have blamed him. Because while Fan JiJing was going through the most painful and most scary time in his life, he didn’t do anything besides enjoy his luxurious life with a clear conscience.
How smart Fan JiJing was! He knew what Hua HuaiXiu was thinking about with just a look at his face. But many things could not be solved by merely a few words, especially relationships between people. Once a crack had formed, it would take hundreds or even thousands of years to mend it.
The only thing he could do now was to wait, to wait until Hua HuaiXiu became used to him and started to trust him again. It might take a few months, a few years, or even a lifetime, but as long as that person was at his side, he had confidence and hope in it.
“I’m going to order.” He took the money on the table and hurried to the counter.
Hua HuaiXiu heaved a sigh of relief. It was not like he was not moved after hearing Fan JiJing’s confession last night. But what was after the short moment of overflowing emotion was that intimidating, endless road leading to the future. No matter how extravagant Fan JiJing’s words were, they were merely his one-sided account, just like what he had seen back then was merely the appearance he had deliberately faked. As for Fan JiJing’s actual thoughts, he had no certainty over it at all.
A moth flying into the flame could only burn its life that once. Was there any moth who suffered pyrophobia after they escaped from a fire?
Fan JiJing finished ordering the dishes. He walked back with a smile and a teapot in his hand, saying, “There’s the shrimp you like.”
Hua HuaiXiu watched him finish pouring the tea solicitously, then sniffed at it, “It’s overnight tea.”
Fan JiJing stood up out of reflex. “I’ll go change it?”
“There’s no need.” Hua HuaiXiu suddenly remembered this was not his first time drinking overnight tea. During the half month that he was chased, he had been traveling on remote roads, and therefore he had experienced all kinds of tea. He didn’t know why he suddenly started to care about it again today.
He lifted his head and glanced at Fan JiJing. His look was so simple and honest that it seemed like even if the sky was to collapse, he would still be able to support it with one hand. Or perhaps, being around Fan JiJing made him subconsciously feel at ease?
“Where’s the innkeeper?” A few officers came in from outside, their serious expressions startled both the drowsy innkeeper and the waiter.
“What’s wrong?” The fat innkeeper tried his best to squeeze his way out from behind the counter. He bowed and looked at them with extreme caution.
“There were several murder cases last night, are you aware of it?” The leading officer gave them a cold stare first, then his eyes glanced toward Hua HuaiXiu and Fan JiJing who were sitting on the side, quietly having tea.
“I-I haven’t heard about it.” The innkeeper turned back and looked at the waiter, but the waiter was also puzzled.
Their town was a small town. There weren’t even that many funerals all year round, let alone murder cases.
The officer said, “But someone said that they saw bloodstains on the dead leaves in your backyard.”
“Huh?” The innkeeper panicked at once. It sounded like the officer was implying that they were the suspects. “We’re running an inn. Whenever we have to kill a chicken or a duck we’ll usually do it in the backyard, so there are times that we are too busy to clean it up on time. Officer, I’m sure you understand that we absolutely would not dare to commit something like murder.”
In fact, the officers came here only as a mere formality. The little town had very few murder cases, which meant they were extremely inexperienced when it came to investigations. It was impossible for them to act like those expert detectives, digging out all the evidence, reading people’s facial expressions, then tracking down the suspect from the clues. “Who else lives here?”
“A waiter, and a chef.”
The officer’s eyes were still fixed on Hua HuaiXiu and Fan JiJing.
The innkeeper quickly understood and replied, “There were only two groups of guests. One of them checked out early in the morning, and they are the other one.”
Fan JiJing and Hua HuaiXiu who had been pretending that they weren’t listening finally turned around.
Since Hua HuaiXiu had been facing the door with his back, when he turned back his head, the officers were finally able to see his appearance clearly. Several pairs of eyes widened altogether.
Fan JiJing stood up in courtesy with a polite smile on his face. “Officers, may I know if there’s anything you would like to talk to us about?”
The leading bukuai  gradually recovered himself. There was some uneasiness on his face, and his tone was not as forceful as when he first entered. He coughed, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
“We’re a married couple who happened to pass by here heading to Luoyang to visit a friend.” Fan JiJing threw at them an answer, as if all was in good order, that left everyone flabbergasted.
Translator’s Notes: Bukuai: An police officer responsible for catching criminals in ancient China.