Chapter 61 Macbeth Two
TL: QuantumC, Editor: IsaLee
Luo Wenzhou stared at the additional table that had sprung up in his office. With one hand on the door frame, he stood there silently and waited for an explanation from Tao Ran.
“We can’t find room for two tables outside.” Tao Ran spoke behind Luo Wenzhou sheepishly, “But don’t you worry. I just asked Fei Du and he said he will only be here twice a week, not every day. When this project is over, their folks will be gone. He’s just temporarily sharing the space with you…”
Luo Wenzhou’s eyes swept across the large air purifier in the corner, then his gaze landed by the door — the large pile of mess that occupied the corner had been cleaned up. It was replaced by a mini-fridge and an elaborate espresso machine. The fridge was filled with beverages from all over the world. On the fridge door, there was a sticky note that said, “Help yourselves.”
It looked nothing like “temporary.”
Vice Captain Tao was out of excuses. He smiled awkwardly and kept scratching his naturally curly hair. His head could double as a cleaning wire ball right now.
He judged Luo Wenzhou’s mood carefully, then added guiltily, “Well, I saw you in his car yesterday and thought you guys were getting al…”
Luo Wenzhou turned around and stared at him, emotionless.
Luo Wenzhou exhaled through his nose.
Tao Ran paused. But before long, he couldn’t hold back the curiosity anymore: “What is it with you two?”
“God knows what quirky drug he took without the lights on…” Seeing that it was during lunch break and not many people were in the main office, Luo Wenzhou sighed, then complained to Tao Ran like he was having a toothache, “He stopped picking on me lately, but started flirting. Son of a b*tch. Doesn’t he know that Daddy’s taste is “Cheek like the cherry, beyond ordinary?” (1)
Tao Ran was speechless: “…”
Luo Wenzhou quipped, “What? Spit it out.”
“I mean…Fei Du, well…” Tao Ran struggled to find the right words, “I always thought that children who grew up in a complicated environment like him had to grow up quickly and learn about boundaries and social rules. Especially in front of the girls. Sometimes you can tell that he says pretty words just to make you happy, with no strings attached. He is very good at playing the subtexts and suggestions. If he didn’t want to step across the line, he would be careful to avoid it.”
Luo Wenzhou understood what Tao Ran was trying to say. Either his narcissistic ‘cancer’ had spread beyond saving, or Fei Du “wanted” to step across the line.
He didn’t answer. Tao Ran stopped there too. The two stared at each other in awkward silence. Luo Wenzhou’s reaction was hard to tell, while Tao Ran was apparently unsure about whether he had communicated the inexplicable mess clearly.
Luo Wenzhou’s feelings for Fei Du had been quite complicated since the very beginning. On one hand, he did spend a lot of time worrying about him and (secretly) taking care of him, while on the other hand he was constantly driven out of his mind by the man. The majority of the times during the seven years that they had known each other, they fought head to head. But in the rare occasions when they fought side by side, both felt the camaraderie and saw the other as a matching equal.
No matter what Fei Du did, Luo Wenzhou’s default reaction was, “What trick is he playing this time?” But Tao Ran’s words had opened up a brand new perspective.
After a long pause, he finally asked: “Where is he now?”
“He took everybody out for lunch.” Tao Ran answered, “I was waiting for you to walk you over. It’s the restaurant by the front entrance…”
He stopped midway again because he thought of the extravagant late-night treat a month ago. Finally he realized where it all came from.
The majority of the team members had already met Fei Du since he was more or less involved in the two biggest cases that year. However, most of them had no idea where he came from or what he wanted. It was not until he booked three VIP rooms in the expensive restaurant that they finally realized that this “Beverly Hillbilly” was here to be everyone’s friend!
From now on, as long as Fei Du was among them, the on-call officers could gladly toss away the instant noodles and cheap thrills for killing time. The moment they realized this new reality, the underlings of “Captain China” Luo Wenzhou immediately turned on him, including Miss Lang Qiao who had the additional “insider’s information”.
Even before Luo Wenzhou opened the door to the VIP room, he already heard Lang Qiao selling him out enthusiastically: “You’ll be gone when the project is over? But are you coming back? How about applying here after you graduate? C’mon, you are meant to be one of us! See how many times you’ve crossed paths with us?! We’ll definitely keep a desk for you…Captain Luo? Of course he wouldn’t mind! He is only thorny on the outside. Actually, he is really nice to be around and he even buys us breakfast every morning. Sometimes, when he makes a big dish at home, he’d bring some to the Bureau for us. And his cooking…” Someone next to her poked her shoulder.
Lang Qiao pushed the hand away at first: “What?”
Then she heard Luo Wenzhou’s voice: “What about Your Majesty’s cooking?”
Lang Qiao’s back suddenly stiffened. Cracking like a jerky gear, her rigid neck slowly turned. She saw Luo Wenzhou leaning at the door and staring at her with a skin-deep smile. Gently, he continued: “Princess Royal, go pack up your stuff now and get ready to marry into North Korea.”
The color drained from Lang Qiao’s face: “Your Majesty, please pardon me!”
Luo Wenzhou looked away and his eyes directly caught Fei Du’s. Fei Du continued to dress like a well-mannered rich boy who had put his playing days in the past. His whole outfit was eye-scorchingly charming and easily started a fire in the heart of the spectator.
Tao Ran’s words were on repeat in Luo Wenzhou’s head and felt like a fish bone stuck in his throat. His blood pressure was quickly rising.
He strolled towards the empty seat next to Fei Du, trying to pay no attention to the man beside him. He folded up his sleeves, then spoke in a bureaucratic tone that he almost never used in front of the team: “Let me announce the message from my meeting with Chief Lu. This project that we are collaborating with the YCPA on is named the “sketch-book project”. It took off once many years ago, but was paused for some classified reason. Last year, Chief Zhang proposed to relaunch it. After many rounds of revisions, the proposal was recently approved. If valuable findings come out of this, it will be useful to your fieldwork in the future too. So I hope everyone cooperates to their best.”
Luo Wenzhou was seldom this serious in private. No one else dared to interrupt him.
“I will be enforcing the rules strictly. When the research team requests for files, everything has to follow the Bureau’s internal protocol. Everything needs to be on record. Certain files may contain classified details that haven’t been disclosed to the public yet. Those should never be photographed, photocopied, and should never leave the Bureau. By law, everyone from the research team must sign the confidentiality agreement. Also—” Luo Wenzhou quickly glanced at Fei Du, then added, “I hope the liaison person can put away their indolence: the Bureau is different from your school, or your family business. It is not a place where you can stroll in and out whenever you want. So I heard from Director Zeng that you will be here every Tuesday and Friday, right? Then on those two days you will abide by the required work hours. Tardiness will not be tolerated. If you need to come in on a different day, you must provide valid excuses ahead of time. Understand? If you think there will be a problem, I suggest you change a different liaison.”
Everyone listened seriously at first. But as Luo Wenzhou got to the second half of his speech, the whole team stared at him inexplicably. No one said a word. They just silently watched to see how the “king of indolence” played the big-tailed wolf.
The big-tailed wolf wasn’t done yet. He pondered, then spoke directly toward Fei Du: “Also, our working condition is quite limited, as you can see. Usually what gets transferred to us are the big and important cases. There may be all kinds of gruesome scenes on site. Flesh and blood are trivial. Even in the face of a bloated cadaver…”
Lang Qiao could take it no more: “Your Majesty, are you still going to eat?”
“…you must remain professional, and eat and drink as usual.” Luo Wenzhou rolled his eyes at her, “We only have forensic doctors here. No paramedics or ambulances. Those who vomit and faint at the sight of blood should give it a second thought.”
Fei Du kept his cool: “Thanks, Captain Luo, for your consideration.”
In half a year, these two had upgraded their bickering from ‘splashing waves’ to ‘crossing undercurrents’. However, it was all the more aggravating.
Tao Ran had to play the mediator. He awkwardly interrupted Luo Wenzhou’s pre-dinner lecturing: “Wait, how come I’ve never heard of a ‘sketchbook’ project?”
“It launched and paused more than 10 years ago. You weren’t even in college then.” Luo Wenzhou did him the favor and temporarily let Fei Du off the hook, “Back then, the psychological profiling techniques were just introduced from abroad. There were many still-born trial projects.”
The quiet Xiao Haiyang suddenly asked: “Why did it pause?”
Luo Wenzhou was wiping his hand with a towel. Hearing the question, his movement halted. But then he answered nonchalantly: “The timing wasn’t right. And many theories didn’t stand the test of time and didn’t offer much useful guidance… Alright, get on with your food now. Don’t ‘indulge in the pleasure and forget about the Shu’ (3) here. Don’t you have work to get back to in the afternoon?”
There wasn’t any important work to get back to in the afternoon. No meetings either. Luo Wenzhou sat there and casually skimmed through a file about “Strengthening the security patrolling during Patriots’ Day”. He had unwillingly accepted the fact that the space was now shared with Fei Du and had mentally prepared himself for the restless days to come.
However, to his surprise, Fei Du was very quiet. No provocation, no scene-staging, nothing. He only sat there and quietly flipped through some files, not even making as much noise as the air purifier. The biggest scene he had caused since he arrived was that everyone else tossed their instant coffee and lined up with their mugs to get the freshly ground one.
The air purifier buzzed. Beside it, there was the occasional sound of fingers leafing through papers. As the saying goes, “Sleepy Spring, Tired Autumn.” Luo Wenzhou’s eyelids grew heavier and heavier as he stared at the official document with the red seal. Finally, he dozed off. When he woke up again, Fei Du was still in the same position as before. But somehow a coat was covering Luo Wenzhou and the window behind him had also been closed.
Luo Wenzhou caught the slipping coat, then peeked through the crevice between his two monitor screens. Fei Du was indeed eye candy: everyone who had eyes had to admit that. Luo Wenzhou carefully thought about Tao Ran’s words again and concluded that the man had a point.
Fei Du was not a socially clumsy pup, nor was he the horny Zhang Donglai who could lay with just about anyone that breathed. He was the master of the unspoken social rules. Others may recognize “ambivalent chemistry” only as an abstract concept, but Fei Du was able to dissect it into 100 levels and accurately exhibit each level to the point.
He knew all too well that Luo Wenzhou was not straight. If he only wanted to play a joke, he shouldn’t have used this level.
Luo Wenzhou moved his mouse to get rid of the screensaver.
He thought he shouldn’t flatter himself too much — why would the project appoint Fei Du, a freshman, as the liaison? Did the upperclassmen all die? He wouldn’t believe it in a thousand years that the current situation wasn’t the product of someone’s intentional arrangement.
Fei Du had been planning to get into the YCPA since last year and received the admission in April. Then he immediately found ways to frequent the Bureau and became familiar with everyone on the Criminal Investigation Team — even with the whole Bureau.
Thinking back, could the Graduate College appoint him as the liaison for his connections at the Bureau?
Such clear strategy, such crisp execution. Every bit of this process smelt of deliberation.
Fei Du was like an inviting poisonous apple. Dangerous, but mouth-watering nonetheless. Luo Wenzhou did a constrained stretching of his stiff back and tried to restrain his wild thoughts. He thought of one thing that Fei Du mentioned: he said that his essay that was cited by the textbook that was on the victims of criminal cases…why this subject?
As Luo Wenzhou peeked at Fei Du between his two monitors and was buried deep in his thoughts, Fei Du suddenly stood up and started walking towards him.
Luo Wenzhou almost jumped. But Fei Du seemingly didn’t notice his stares at all. He walked towards the fountain, took Luo Wenzhou’s cup along the way, and filled it for him.
Luo Wenzhou thanked him. But when he reached to take the cup, Fei Du didn’t let go. His fingers casually brushed Luo Wenzhou’s palm.
Fei Du put one hand on his table and looked at Luo Wenzhou from above. He slightly bent down and lowered his voice: “If Captain Luo wants to look, there is no need to be sneaky. I won’t charge for it.”
Luo Wenzhou didn’t move. He replied with the same whispering voice: “Is it a thing now for you college pups to harass the boss during work hours?”
Fei Du stared right into his eyes like a predator eyeing its prey. Then he smiled and turned back to his temporary desk: “‘He who looks for faults shall always find them.’ If Captain Luo believes that my sheer existence is harassment, then there is nothing I can do.”
Luo Wenzhou took out his cigarette case. But seeing the air purifier on the side, he tugged it back and walked toward the men’s room. “Abstinence for too long…” he thought.
Finally, it was five o’clock. But Fei Du didn’t seem to be leaving any time soon.
As Luo Wenzhou picked up his car key, he unintentionally glanced at the document in Fei Du’s hand. He realized that it was a copy of Xu Wenchao’s confession and that Fei Du’s eyes had been on the same page for a long time.
Luo Wenzhou’s footsteps slowed down.
Either Fei Du had eyes on the back of his head, or he could sense “curiosity” from Luo Wenzhou’s footsteps. Fei Du opened his mouth, slowly: “According to Xu Wenchao, he was spotted by Guo Heng when stalking Wu Guangchuan. As they talked, Guo became suspicious about the relationship between Wu and Su Xiaolan. He went to the police but in vain. Then Guo started following Wu himself, with Xu’s help.”
Luo Wenzhou: “Yes?”
Fei Du slightly leaned back: “This part sounds a bit strange.”
Luo Wenzhou placed one hand on the back of his chair, and read the sentences over Fei Du’s shoulder as he pointed at them: “How so?”
“With no one else to turn to, Guo Heng asked for Xu Wenchao’s help. We assumed that Xu Wenchao learned the details about Guo Fei’s case from Guo Heng.”
Luo Wenzhou added: “Guo Heng said so himself.”
“It had been twenty years. Guo Heng might not remember every single word he said. But I find it odd that he would reveal details such as the ‘bell in the pencil case’ to Xu.”
“This detail wasn’t considered important at all by either Guo Heng or the police back then. Other than proving that the phone call was indeed related to Guo Fei, it doesn’t offer any additional information. Not to mention that it must be very traumatic for Guo Heng to recollect it — imagine being in his shoes: under what circumstance would he talk about it to Xu?”
Luo Wenzhou said: “For example, maybe Xu Wenchao asked, ‘How do you know it was your daughter over the phone?’”
“How do you know it was your daughter…” Fei Du shook his head, “It sounds like Xu Wenchao was checking the credibility of Guo Heng’s words.”
Luo Wenzhou suddenly realized something only someone completely naive about everything would try to check for the authenticity of the details when he first heard of them. However, Xu Wenchao had known about the sick relationship between Wu Guangchuan and Su Xiaolan for long. He also knew that Su Xiaolan was the brain of the serial abduction cases. His heart was as clear as a mirror. Would he really be able to play the “innocent” so well?
“If so, then Xu Wenchao is truly an extremely dangerous foe.” Fei Du said, “But if not, why would Guo Heng voluntarily disclose such a detail? Was he only looking for an emotional outlet? If you were Guo Heng, a middle-aged man with a teenage daughter, would you vent in front of a teenage boy?”
“Su Luozhan said that she read Su Xiaolan’s diary and it inspired her to copy it. But when I read the diary closely, I did not find any mentionings of the pencil case at all. There were only descriptions of the excitement of calling the victim’s family.” Fei Du knocked on the desktop, “Then how did the girl know about it?”
Luo Wenzhou was a bit shocked by the ghastly possibilities that this idea led to. But before he could dive deeper, the telephone on the desk suddenly rang.
He picked it up.
“You’re still here? Good.” Chief Lu said, “There is a tricky case… Wenzhou, take some of your men with you — you’ll want to be on-site in person for this one.”
- “Cheek like the cherry, beyond ordinary.” Back in the day, this was a popular line from a commercial for face cream. The literal translation is: “White cheeks with pink blushing (makes you) different from the crowd.” It rhymes very nicely in Chinese and sounds really catchy.
- Indulge in the pleasure and forget about the Shu: this is a saying that originated from a Three Kingdoms story. Liu Shan, the second and the last emperor of the Shu kingdom, surrendered his kingdom to Sima Zhao. One day at a banquet, some Shu performers put on a Shu dance. When asked whether he missed his home, Liu Shan answered that there was too much fun here and that he didn’t think about Shu anymore.