Chapter 17: Reflection of Beauty
Han Chen smokes for a while downstairs before going up.
When he arrives outside of the interrogation room, he spots Bai Jin Xi sitting across from Chen Li Jiang right away; they’re in the middle of talking.
Xiao Zhuan, who’s been standing in the corridor, comes over, “Super Detective Han, Chen Li Jiang is admitting to all of his crimes. He’ll be taken into custody now. District Chief says that everyone has worked hard for the past few days, so we’ll continue with the interrogation with our other colleagues from the branch tomorrow morning.”
Han Chen nods, and says looking at Bai Jin Xi, “What is she doing now then?”
Xiao Zhuan answers smiling, “Super Detective Han, you don’t know? Leader always chat with the suspects every time. She’s very secretive about it and won’t let others be around. We’ve already gotten used to it, so you don’t need to mind about her.”
He leaves after finishing explaining. Han Chen continues standing, watching them through the dark glass window.
Bai Jin Xi looks very calm; her expression doesn’t seem like she’s interrogating a suspect; she looks more like she’s chatting with a friend. The light shining on her face makes her skin look sparkling white, while her eyes are dark brown and glistening. She takes out a cigarette and hands it to Chen Li Jiang. Chen Li Jiang takes it, she stands up, and reaches over to light it for him.
They say a few words, and then Bai Jin Xi gets up, pushes the door open and leaves. Chen Li Jiang continues sitting calmly. After a while, he puts the cigarette down, slowly covers his eyes with his hands, and lowers his head.
Bai Jin Xi sits behind her desk and starts getting busy.
Although the case has been solved, there are still a lot of follow-up work that needs to be done. She just wants to finish them soon and then take a few days off to reward herself.
She has just typed a few words when she hears a voice coming from above her head, “What did you say to him in the end?”
Bai Jin Xi raises her head.
Han Chen presses both of his hands onto the edge of the table while looking down at her.
Bai Jin Xi pushes the keyboard in front of her away, and then leans back.
“Do you know why he had to hear the sound of the bell?” she says, “It’s because he met his ex-wife, Xu Ying, at Baoan Temple. Their eyes met for the first time when the sound of the bell came on. A very romantic story.”
She speaks slowly, “And then, on important days like anniversaries or her birthdays, he would go to Baoan Temple and request them to ring the bell. They’ll spend the day at home listening to the bell ring while eating dinner and making love. It’s very intimate and very affectionate. They found Xu Ying today, and she also confirmed this. But Chen Li Jiang has a bad temper and a low salary, so after being together for a long time, Xu Ying couldn’t stand him anymore. On top of the fact that she’s a tour guide who leaves home often, so the result is what we see: she left.”
Han Chen pulls out a chair, sits down across from her, and twists open a bottle of water.
Bai Jin Xi continues, “As for why he saved Si Si and her son, he only asked me one thing. He said, ‘Have you bought a pornographic DVD before? Have you seen a mother holding a child while selling these DVDs?’ I said, ‘Yes, many of them.’ And then Xu Ying told us that she had a miscarriage before. This had caused great grief to Chen Li Jiang.”
Han Chen has his chin up drinking the water.
His eyelids are half closed; his eyelashes are very long. The light reflects at the bridge of his nose. As he is drinking, his Adam’s apple moves up and down.
He finishes the entire bottle of water, and throws the empty bottle into the garbage can. As if he senses her staring, he lifts his head to look back.
Bai Jin Xi immediately shifts her gaze away.
“In the end, this is what I said to him. I said, ‘I know that it’s because you love her too much. There’s really nothing wrong with being crazy over someone when you think about it. It’s just that you also know that, even doing this won’t save yourself. Moreover, who will save those women that you harmed? You actually didn’t want to harm them, right? You just really wanted the warmth that you were once familiar with. Stop this, okay? There are many people who cannot get what they want, and yet they live with it. You just need to hang tight and overcome it. If you can come back out in the future, go visit her, and go visit them. See whether or not they’re living in happiness, and then ask yourself if you forgive yourself?’”
Han Chen’s arms are on the armrests. He stares at her and doesn’t say anything.
Bai Jin Xi feels a bit uneasy from his stare, “What? My speech was quite deep and moving.”
“Mm, you’re quite good at making things up,” he tilts his head to light up a cigarette.
Xiao Qi walks in, and hands Bai Jin Xi a stack of files. The two of them start discussing softly.
Han Chen continues to sit on the side smoking quietly as she gets busy. After a while, he looks down at his watch.
Because the preliminary results from examining the scene of Zeng Fang Ping’s death are out, there are quite a number of investigators coming in and out of the office to talk to Bai Jin Xi. Bai Jin Xi is working non-stop with full concentration.
When there’s finally no one coming, Han Chen stands up, “I’m going back now.”
Bai Jin Xi happens to be reading the autopsy report, so she hums, “Mm,” without lifting her head.
From Han Chen’s angle, he can only see the top of her head.
He smiles slowly.
“Bai Jin Xi, goodbye.”
Bai Jin Xi raises her arm and waves absentmindedly, “Bye-bye.”
Bai Jin Xi doesn’t know how long she’s been working. Her throat feels a bit dry, so she reaches out her hand to fetch the mug on the table.
She suddenly notices from the corner of her eye that Han Chen’s seat is already empty.
Not only his seat is empty, his desktop that’s usually piled with files has also been tidied up with nothing left.
She’s stunned for a minute before recalling the voice in her head:
“I’m going back now.”
“Bai Jin Xi, goodbye.”
She turns her head subconsciously to look out the window. It’s already night time, and the courtyard of the station is still and quiet. There’s no sign of anybody.
She pulls out her phone, scrolls to the number that she has previously labeled with “Bastard Han,” and dials.
“We’re sorry, the number you have dialed is currently unavailable……”
As if it’s confirming her thought, a roaring sound can be heard from outside the window, and an airplane soars through the night sky with its lights flashing.
Bai Jin Xi is dumbstruck with the phone in her hand. A thought comes into her mind:
He has left just like this? She hasn’t helped him buy the specialty foods yet……
It’s late night when Han Chen’s flight arrives at City Lan.
Many areas inside the airport have already turned off the lights, and only the arrival terminal is still lit, but it’s very quiet. Han Chen walks out of the gate wearing sunglasses while pulling his suitcase. He slept through the entire flight, so the light feels hard on the eyes right now.
He sees a woman with long wavy hair and fair white skin wearing a pinkish-grey long dress in front of him; very eye catching standing among the crowd. She’s the daughter of the University principal, so she naturally has great qualities; the people around can’t help but glance her way, probably to see whom she’s waiting for. She on the other hand, is only holding a cellphone, standing on her tiptoes with her arms slightly crossed, keeping a look out.
Han Chen doesn’t pause his footsteps, and walks directly past her.
“Han Chen!” she shouts; her voice is mellow and sweet. Quite a few people glance over at them.
Han Chen stops his footsteps. She has already caught up to him. She reaches out her hand to take over pulling his suitcase.
Han Chen moves his hand and avoids her. His face is expressionless as he continues walking forward.
“I already said that you didn’t need to come pick me up,” his voice is cold.
The girl does not respond.
They both don’t talk along the way.
Once they exit from the revolving door, the girl speaks, “I was afraid that you wouldn’t be able to catch a cab at night, so I went to your place and drove the car over.” She takes out the car key, and Han Chen immediately snatches them.
“Who gave you the car key?” He walks ahead by himself, “Don’t drive my car again.”
The girl watches his back. After a moment of silence, she raises her head to look at the night sky, lets out a long sigh, and then chases after him.
The parking lot is especially quiet at this time. Han Chen throws the suitcase into the trunk, and opens the car door. The girl walks to the passenger side, and just as she is about to open the door, she sees Han Chen taking off his sunglasses and turning his head over her way.
“You sit in the back,” he says.
The girl’s hand freezes on the car handle for a few seconds, and then closes the door. She goes to the back, pulls open the door, and sits inside.
Han Chen lights up a cigarette, and throws the matchbox onto the passenger seat. With the cigarette in one hand, the other holding the steering wheel, he looks relaxed yet unapproachable. He steps on the pedal, and the land rover speeds away.
They don’t talk during the ride.
There are more cars on the road once they exit the highway, so their car speed slows down. The lights reflecting on the car windows look like small meandering rivers.
Xin Jia has been staring at his side profile all this time, but he hasn’t once turned around.
After a while, Xin Jia turns her head, and looks outside the window.
“Did you find ‘her’ this time?” she asks softly, “You didn’t find anything, right?”
Han Chen takes a breath of smoke, “It’s got nothing to do with you.”
Xin Jia folds her arms. A hint of smile crosses her eyes.
“Han Chen,” she says, “what do we have to do to make you believe that the ‘her’ you’re looking for has never actually existed. You don’t believe my words, you don’t believe your buddies’ words, and you don’t believe your mom and dad’s words. It’s just an imagination and dream that you had while you were unconscious for a year! Even the psychologist said so! If you continue like this, what will everyone do? What about Uncle and Auntie (his mom and dad)?”
Han Chen puts out the cigarette and flicks it away, “Are you done? Whom I’m trying to find is my business. No matter how much my mom and dad likes you and takes you as their daughter-in-law, you will never be my wife. You got it?”
Xin Jia doesn’t say anything.
After a while, she wipes away her tears and says, “Han Chen, I’ll continue to wait for you. Not because I want to be the daughter-in-law of the Han family. I don’t care about that. It’s because I really care about you, and don’t want to give you up. It’s because I believe that you’ll understand one day that ever since you were little, the person that has always been by your side is me, and not someone else!”
Han Chen keeps quiet.
After a while, the car stops at the front of a neighbourhood.
“You’re home,” Han Chen places both of his hands on the steering wheel, “Get off.”
From his back view, his neck is very straight just like his side profile; there’s not a hint of gentleness or curvature.
The instant Xin Jia gets out of the car and closes the door, he steps on the pedal, and the land rover speeds away.
Han Chen lives in a neighbourhood nearby the police station. The apartment isn’t big; just one bedroom and one study. Its interior design is elegant, and the place is very clean and tidy.
It’s already past 1am when he finishes taking a shower. He has only a towel wrapped across his waist as he walks to the floor-to-ceiling window by the living room.
Outside the window, the whole city seems as if it’s in deep sleep.
Xin Jia’s words resonate in his ears again: It’s just an imagination and dream that you had while you were unconscious for a year! The “her” you’re looking for has never actually existed.
He rubs his forehead.
He supposedly got into an accident during a mission and hurt his head, which led to his memory lost. And throughout these years after the accident, he has had severe headaches from time to time.
He pours out two painkillers, swallows them, and sits down on a chair.
After a while, the headache goes away. He opens his eyes. His forehead is already covered with sweat.
He suddenly thinks about Bai Jin Xi.
Remembering what she said tonight——There are many people who cannot get what they want, and yet they live with it. You just need to hang tight and overcome it.
Han Chen smiles slowly.
She says it like it’s so easy.
But she’s right, isn’t she?
The “her” that he cannot have, is like a faint yet burdening dream. No one can tell him about her existence; he can’t even remember what she looks like, but when he eats, walks, or sleeps, he would fall into a daze out of nowhere and his heart would feel confused.
He just feels that there should be someone here.
Someone by his side, and in his life.
He lights up a cigarette and starts smoking quietly. Perhaps because it’s the coolness due to being late at night that it suddenly makes him think about the imagery of him and Bai Jin Xi riding on a motorcycle together.
The hand that is holding the cigarette freezes without him knowing.
It’s not that there aren’t any women around him who haven’t tried seducing him or clinging onto him. Xin Jia is the most persistent one. Besides her, it seems like wherever he goes, there would always be a few of them.
But he never feels anything in his heart.
He has always avoided them. If they won’t let him go, he would reject them blatantly.
He can still remember clearly, when riding on the motorcycle, the feeling of being close to her. Even though they were wearing helmets, he could smell the fragrance from her hair; and the skin on the woman’s neck and arms were delicate like the snow; her waist was slim and had smooth contours.
He has eyes after all, so there’s no way that he wouldn’t have noticed.
And when he reached out his arms to enclose her and hold onto the handles, even though it was an urgent decision for the sake of investigating the case, his heart felt a certain kind of warm feeling.
When they were heading back, they didn’t need to ride on the same bike again, but he used an excuse and rode all the way leaning against her.
From start to end, Bai Jin Xi never tried seducing him.
He was the one seducing her.
Keeping a close distance, he spoke by her ear in his deep voice, and pretended not to see her neck stiffening.
Is it because he has been by himself for too long? Or is he just too desperate for not being able to find “her”? Or is it because she has disappeared for too long in his heart, so he feels a hint of resentment?
It’s like he’s possessed and suddenly long for the feeling of warmth from two people embracing each other.
Han Chen takes a breath of smoke, slowly closes his eyes, and leans against the back of the chair.
—End of Arc 1—
Chapter 17: Reflection of Beauty