Chapter 27 – Pillar of Nature (7)
First Published on Wattpad, Reposted on Ainushi
On the day of the trip, up until they arrive at the airport, Zhao’s face is stiff like a coffin.
When that human doll is sent to No. 4 Bright Avenue, even the delivery boy heard Zhao’s furious roar on the way out.
“Guo Changcheng, do you have a portable toilet for a brain!?”
Guo is not used to a furious Chief Zhao, and is too frightened to say a word.
Da Qing curiously paws the human doll, and triggers some sort of switch; the doll lets out a very realistic… and indecent moan.
Da Qing is startled, and Zhao’s face turns blue; he points at the doll, and is too aggravated for words.
Guo is like a petrified little mouse, dumbly standing against the wall.
Zhao swallows down his anger with difficulty, and feebly says to Zhu, “can you… put some clothes on it…”
He feels something terribly wrong about this; his phone rings, and he mumbles, “this is driving me nuts.”
He bashes the door open and stomps outside.
Zhu turns to Guo, “you pissed him off so much that he couldn’t speak? Good job.”
Guo can’t say anything.
Lin pats him on the shoulder, “I just realised, Little Guo, you’re a real brave man!”
Guo is on the verge of tears.
Chu silently picks up Da Qing the cat, and covers its eyes; he wears his normal expression of contempt and indifference, and turns away from these indecent things.
When they’re almost on their way out, Zhu takes out a big bag and stuffs the doll inside, and says while looking into space, “stay in the revealing mirror for a while longer, hang in there. You can come out when the plane lands.”
A cloud of white mist flies out of the watch on Zhao’s wrist, and swivels around Zhu. A weak figure of a girl appears before Zhu; it probably makes a ghost feel uncomfortable being so close to Zhao, so Wang is visibly worn out.
“Just pretend I passed out on the plane,” Wang says quietly, and looks at her future body with condemnation.
Guo doesn’t dare to look up.
Finally, the whole criminal investigations team of No. 4 Bright Avenue shamelessly follows along on the trip, they’re bored to death with no work to do after all; they are determined to find out what made Zhao’s lazy ass leave his office.
But nobody dares to irritate the pissed off Chief on the trip; Da Qing even transformed into a cat-shaped pendant and quietly hangs on Zhu’s phone as a decoration. The Chief looks like he wants to hijack the plane.
Until… they see Professor Shen and his students at the airport.
The team watches as Chief Zhao’s stormy expression instantly turns into a bright sunny day. His cold and glaring eyes melt and soften.
Without hesitation, he abandons his colleagues, and scurries towards the man amidst the pupil crowd; pretending that this encounter wasn’t meticulously planned, “Shen Wei, what a coincidence!”
Shen’s eyes sparkle, but Zhao cannot tell if his reaction is a pleasant surprise or an unpleasant shock. A while later, Shen nods while pushing his glasses, “Officer Zhao.”
Zhu watches their interactions and understands something.
Among the huge crowd of students, Zhao quickly takes control, and before Shen can say anything, the students have already told him their destination and the details of their project.
Zhao asks the kids with a friendly smile, “it takes way over ten hours to get to River Village, how do you guys plan to go there?”
Shen instantly realises this bastard has an ulterior motive, but the students are too gullible, before he can speak, the female class captain answers, “we’ll take the bus!”
“The bus only makes one trip per day, it leaves at six o’clock in the morning. I know which one you’re talking about, it doesn’t take you directly to River Village.” Zhao seizes the chance as the student takes the bait.
The class captain hesitates, “I checked the map, we could get off midway, and it shouldn’t take long to walk…”
“From your physique, I guess it should take around five hours.” Zhao leans backwards and peeks at Shen, “the map doesn’t show you how convoluted the mountain ranges can be, you might need to detour several times. And when I say five hours, it’s assuming you don’t get lost; when you get off the bus it’s
probably nighttime already, it’s snowy in the mountains and incredibly cold during this time of the year. And you might even need to camp outdoors…”
As expected, the students begin a frantic discussion.
Zhao realises that Shen is looking at him with a half-smile, and he is slightly embarrassed that his plan has been exposed; he rubs his nose and coughs, “alright, calm down you guys; how about this, my friends over there will get us a few cars, and we can go there together, what do you think?”
The class captain says, “that… that’s too troublesome for you, isn’t it?”
Zhao waves, and takes out his phone; he wraps his arm around Shen’s shoulders, and winks at the class captain, “how can it be troublesome, my relationship with your teacher is…”
Shen turns his head aside, and stares at him blandly, “what relationship?”
Zhao is stuck, and Shen’s gaze is like hooks… this question… if he understates it he’s ruining his own plans, but if he overstates it it would seem too shameless. He hesitates before saying, “neighbours! Remember, kids, treat your neighbours kindly and they might be closer to you than your relatives, isn’t that right Professor Shen?”
Shen gives him a slightly helpless smile, and the cunning Chief Zhao is instantly stunned by it.
“Thanks.” Zhao hears him say.
“What are you thanking me for?” Zhao stands upright and eagerly says, “oh right, you guys probably haven’t eaten, wait for me.”
Shen has yet to pull him back, and he has already left.
Shortly, Zhao carries over a few plastic bags, and stuffs two in Guo’s hand on the way.
Chu says, “I almost thought he forgot about us completely.”
Lin says at the fried chicken leg, “Amitabha, forgive me.”
And then this fake monk starts tearing the chicken leg apart, and washes it down with coke.
The food in Guo’s hands is quickly divided among the group, and he is still standing there like an idiot; someone hands him a hamburger.
It’s Zhu Hong.
Zhu isn’t looking at him, but at Zhao… he says something, and the crowd laughs; it seems this guy is always the centre of attention wherever he goes.
“No problem.” Zhu interrupts him, and asks, “who’s that guy?”
Guo realises she’s talking about Shen, “that’s a professor from Dragon City University. Last time during the hungry ghost case, Chief Zhao wasn’t there, and he helped us fight off the ghost; but the Chief says he won’t remember that incident.”
Zhu peers at him and mumbles, “he is a professor already? He looks very young… but he shouldn’t be too young since he’s a professor? He should be married?”
Guo scratches his head, “how would I know?”
Zhu glances at Guo, and then looks back at Zhao; Shen picks up a piece of chicken, and Zhao instantly opens the sauce pack and hands it to him. His eyes are tender like still water, and he seems like a completely different person from the grumpy and furious Chief in the morning.
“Okay, then it seems like he is single.” Zhu keeps observing for a while, and concludes, “that jerk is shameless as hell, but he never hits on someone who’s married… oh god, get a room.”
Zhu and Guo are both watching, as Zhao’s phone rings again like a hotline, and he holds his drink in one hand, takes out his phone in the other, and bites away a French fry in Shen’s hand at lightning speed.
He gobbles it, and licks his lips while looking at Shen; the Professor unnaturally retracts his empty fingers.
Guo’s expression turns from dumb to astonished.
And so the entire SIU team has been abandoned by their Chief for three hours: Zhao uses the excuse of “wanting to listen to Professor Shen talk to the students about River Village”, and switches to a seat near Shen… the plane finally lands, and they arrive at a city near the destination.
The group has yet to realise how cold somewhere with high altitude can be, and is met by a crowd in the waiting area. A plump, middle-aged man comes out of a jeep, which is one in a row of many, and holds a sign that says “Chief Zhao”.
Zhao leads the two groups, and heads over there; the plump guy sees him, and is hesitant at first, but he soon smiles in realisation, and greets Zhao warmly, “Chief Zhao! It’s you isn’t it? I see how smart you look and I know you’re definitely the Chief.”
“Oh, what Chief, don’t call me that.” Zhao offers a handshake with both hands, “we don’t know our way around here, luckily we’ve got you, Brother Lang, we’d feel much safer.”
Fat Brother Lang vigorously shakes his hands, “Xie Yuanming called me and told me to send a few cars; I said how could that be appropriate? Brother Xie is one of my best friends, and his friend is also my friend, of course I had to come in person!”
Zhao pretends to be surprised, “oh really? You’re such good friends with Brother Xie?”
Brother Lang says, “of course, we sworn to brotherhood when we went drinking one time.”
Zhao points a finger at him, and looks serious, “well this is you’re fault then, Brother Xie’s brother is my brother, and what did you call me just now? How can we be so formal?”
Brother Lang knowingly laughs, “of course, my bad… that’s great, now I can tell people I have a brother who’s a Chief from Dragon City, how honoured! Come on, let’s get you settled down!”
The two keep going back and forth, and nobody else has a chance to say anything.
Shen’s students are all speechless.
Zhu follows them, and whispers to Da Qing, who’s still hanging on her phone, “right, now I understand how Manager Song became his brother-in-law.”