Memory Lost (美人为馅): Chapter 27 15


Chapter 27: Turbulences in the Background

Midnight.

Jin Xi is sitting inside a police car as she writes with her head down on a soft leather notebook in her hand.

“Serial killer T:

1. Male, 25-35 years old, fit body, average looks;

2. Education: high school or university studying a major;

3. Career used as disguise: computer engineer, watchmaker, or other skilled type; may have beginners or intermediate professional certificate;

4. Address: a mid-range apartment in a small residential area in the city between 2nd and 3rd Ring Road;

5. Drives a black Citreon C-Quatre;

6. Experienced a big emotional impact in the past three months such as losing his lover or a family member;

7. Disregards life, and may be diagnosed with a disease, which is why he will sacrifice everything to complete his plan.”

She thinks for a moment, and then writes at the bottom: “Finding the common trait of the victims, and getting a grasp of his patterned actions will be the only way to crack the plan.”

The car door opens.  Xiao Zhuan breathes out a breath of air and sits inside.

“His whole family is not here.  The neighbours don’t know where they’ve gone to either.  Their cell phones are shut off probably because it’s too late.  What should we do now?”

Jin Xi pauses and then says, “There’s no helping it.  We’ll have to wait here.”

Xiao Zhuan nods.  They both keep their eyes on the building up front.  The deceased young drug addict Chen Xi Xian’s past girlfriend’s family lives up there.  It’s just that the apartment is completely dark.

They’ve been busy all day; they’ve asked everyone that they can, and have searched all the places that they can.  Besides the fact that both victims are “jobless,” they have not found any relation between the two of them.

Everyone knows that Killer T will definitely kill another person during noon tomorrow.  They are on a race with T.  They must use every minute and second to find out his pattern before he acts.

Therefore, they need to dig deeper.

Jin Xi and Xiao Zhuan are investigating Chen Xi Xian’s girlfriend, who died in a car accident.  Chatterbox has rushed to the train station to catch Zheng Cheng Zhi’s younger brother Zheng Cheng Da who is returning from another city.  Cold Face is researching on Chen Xi Xian’s old hometown and his relatives.  Han Chen is looking up all details regarding Killer T’s car.

_____

“Xiao Bai, why did you cry during your run today?” Xiao Zhuan asks.

Jin Xi keeps silent for a second, and then turns to look at him, “I’ll tell you, but you have to promise to keep it a secret.”

“Mm!”

……

The night is getting darker and darker.  This big parking lot is very quiet; there are probably only the two of them here.

Jin Xi finishes, leans her head towards the chair, and looks straight.

It’s rare to see Xiao Zhuan with a solemn face like right now as he stares at her without a word.

“Xiao Bai, give me a hug,” he says, “I’d never imagined that you would be this infatuated.”

And at this instant, a car drives into the parking lot and parks at an area that’s rather far away from them.  The information they have shows that the Zhou family does not have a car; this must be some tenant who’s returning late, so Jin Xi doesn’t pay too much attention to it.  She smiles, “Why are you getting all mushy-gushy?”

Although she says this, she still reaches out and hugs him.

They keep quiet for a while, and then Xiao Zhuan pats her back, “Don’t worry, it’s never too late for revenge.  If we bump into that Zhao something guy, we’ll beat him up every time we see him.”

Jin Xi spurts out a laugh.  Just when she wants to say something, she sees a figure walk past their car.

And then……stops beside them.

A tall figure with a handsome face.  A pair of dark and rich brown-eyes looks at them from outside the window.

It’s no other than Han Chen.

Jin Xi’s eyes meet with his; her heart skips a beat.  She nudges Xiao Zhuan, “Alright.”

Xiao Zhuan is still feeling indignation for her as he says in a muffled voice, “Let’s hug for a little longer, okay?  This way, I’ll feel more at ease.”

Han Chen glances at her again, and then knocks on the window.

Xiao Zhuan turns his head around, sees that it’s Han Chen, and is stunned as he quickly releases his embrace out of reflex.

“Holy sh……” he says softly.

Jin Xi giggles, “What are you swearing for?”

They open the door and come out from the car.

Han Chen leans against the side of the car as he watches them come towards him.  His gaze sweeps past Xiao Zhuan and lands directly on Jin Xi’s face for a moment before he turns his head away and looks straight.

He was investigating the details of the vehicle when he passed by here, so he decided to come check up on them.

But when he arrived, he saw the two of them hugging each other.

He fetches a cigarette from his pocket, puts it into his mouth, lowers his head and lights it up.  He waves the matchstick to put it out, and then flicks it very precisely into the garbage can on the side of the road.  He turns his head and looks at them.

Xiao Zhuan starts, “Leader, how come you’re here?  Let me report to you first.  The Zhou Family is not around and no one knows where they’ve gone to.  We’ve been staying here to be on a look out.”

Han Chen nods, inhales the cigarette holding it between his fingers, and resting his arm on top of the car door.  He turns to look at Jin Xi, “I was just passing by this area.  I’ll be leaving now.”

Jin Xi and Xiao Zhuan both let out an “oh.”  They look at each other’s faces.  Xiao Zhuan highly believes that he has been mistaken, but since it’s regarding Bai Jin Xi’s secret which he cannot explain, he decides to open the door and sits back inside, “Leader, I’m going to take a nap first then so that I’ll be ready for a challenge tomorrow!”

He bangs the door shut.  Jin Xi curses him inside before taking a glance at Han Chen.  He’s still leaning on the car and hasn’t moved.  His side profile is calm and he’s not looking at her; as if he’s really going to leave after smoking a cigarette.

They both don’t have anything to say.

Jin Xi opens the car door too, “I’m going back inside to take a nap as well……”

“Just when I come, both of you are sleepy?” he says suddenly.

Jin Xi stares at his eyes, “Uh……I’m not that sleepy.”  She releases the door, and walks halfway around the car to come to his side.  She leans against the car door just like him, and looks straight.

Han Chen continues smoking and doesn’t speak.

The moon is shining above them.  The roofless parking lot is only lit by a few warm lighting lamps.  The apartment buildings are hard to make out at night.  Jin Xi raises her head and looks at the sparsely lit stars in the sky.  The image of him pulling her up from the ground and wiping her tears away in the afternoon today suddenly flashes across her mind.

She keeps quiet for a while, and then asks, “How is the investigation on the car going?”

Han Chen continues looking straight with his eyelids half closed.  He inhales the cigarette.

“Not much.  We’ve found the car.  It’s a black C-Quatre, but it’s got a fake license plate.  The surveillance camera caught it leaving at an intersection, but then lost sight of it.  The traffic department is still doing their best to track it down.”

Jin Xi doesn’t say anything.  She had a feeling that it wouldn’t be easy to chase down a car in such a big city, especially when their target is a highly skilled criminal.  The fact that Han Chen is able to lock down on which car it is through the traces of evidence at the crime scene is already a very big breakthrough.  It’s now up to the traffic department to see if they can make further progress.

It’s still a race against time.

But in the history of serial shooting cases, which one of them was easy to solve?  This one is different from the other serial killings.  The killer made a shot at a far distance and left very little evidence at the crime scene.  It’s almost impossible to solve this case in a short period of time.  There are many sniping cases in America that take more than ten deaths before the FBI is able to catch the criminal.  Without looking too far, 11 people were killed in the ground breaking case of Zhou Kehua that happened domestically.  The criminal was on the run for 8 years before he was arrested by the Public Security Bureau and then executed.

There’s a very big possibility that someone will be killed tomorrow at noon.

She lets out a soft sigh.

At the distant entrance of the courtyard, a few passersby stop at a street stall; the slight smell of food permeates the air.

Jin Xi rubs her stomach, and murmurs to herself, “I’ve got to go get a midnight snack.”  Just as she is about to say “goodbye” to Han Chen, she sees him put out his cigarette and throws it into the garbage can, “Let’s go.”

Jin Xi stares at the side of his face, “……Okay.”

_____

Seeing more customers come, the barbeque stall owner greets them enthusiastically, “What would you like?  I have everything!  Everything here is clean and delicious.  Look at how many people come at night.”

Jin Xi knows best when it comes to street food.  She takes a look around, nods her head firmly, and starts to order.

The owner laughs as he fetches for more ingredients.  He looks at Han Chen, “Young man, what would you like to have?”

Han Chen has both of his hands in his pockets.  He glances at the different foods available, “I’m okay.”

Jin Xi smiles, “Boss, how much is it?”

The owner adds up the totals, and then waves his arm generously, “It’ll be 62 RMB.  I’ll round off the change!”

“Okay!”  Jin Xi reaches into her pocket to fetch the money.  At the same time, she sees Han Chen also reaching into his jacket’s pocket.  He takes out his wallet, and hands some bills to the stall owner.

Jin Xi quickly holds out her money, “I’ll pay for myself.”

Han Chen lifts his arm to cover over hers and puts the money into the stall owner’s hand.  The stall owner gives him back the change.  He puts them into his wallet, and then stuffs the wallet back into his pocket, as if it’s the most natural thing for him.

Jin Xi takes a skewer of fish balls, takes a bite from it, and doesn’t say anything.

The stall owner soon finishes her skewers.

Jin Xi ordered a few for Xiao Zhuan, so she’s holding them in her hand as they head back.  She eats while they walk.

It’s already 1am; only the two of them are walking side by side on the pathway.  The light is shining from behind, elongating their shadows.

The fragrance of flowers and grass surround them, but a strong smell of food is coming from her handful of skewers.

It’s very late at night nonetheless, so Han Chen is a little hungry as well; the smell of food is distracting him.  Therefore, he lights up a cigarette and inhales deeply before lifting his eyes to look at Bai Jin Xi.

She’s eating chicken wings right now.

As a beauty, she’s eats with good manners.  A napkin is wrapped around the end of the wooden skewer in her right hand.  She doesn’t open her mouth too wide as she bites down; she then presses her lips together, relishing the meat.

It’s just that she eats rather fast despite her good manners.  She quickly finishes a skewer of chicken wings and tosses the wooden skewer into the garbage.  She sticks out her little tongue, licks her lips, reaches for another skewer of mushrooms, and starts eating again.

Han Chen chuckles as he watches.  He slowly lifts his hand and takes a breath of smoke.

Jin Xi has been too focused on eating and doesn’t notice that Han Chen has been staring at her this whole time until now.  She turns to look at him with a mushroom stuffed in her mouth.

His body carries a scent of cigarettes, and his face is a bit blurry under the street lamps.  Those rich and dark brown eyes are looking at her through the light fog of smoke.

Jin Xi, a little stunned by him, holds up the skewer in her hand, “Do you want any?”

She’s only asking casually thinking that he would definitely turn her down, but his gaze actually falls to the skewers in her hands.

“Give me the best one,” he inhales the cigarette deeply, and then switches the cigarette from his right hand to his left hand.

Does this mean that he’s getting ready to eat?

Jin Xi feels a little excited for some reason.  She immediately looks into the takeout box, searches through it, and gives him a skewer of chicken wings.  She thinks for a second, and then fetches Xiao Zhuan’s favorite chives on skewer; she apologizes to Xiao Zhuan in her heart as she rubs the chives onto the chicken wings to wipe away the chillies.

Han Chen takes the skewer, bites into it, and then takes a good look at it.

Jin Xi asks, “Is it good?”

“Mm.”

Jin Xi smiles slightly.

Han Chen finishes it quickly, and throws the wooden skewer into the garbage can on the side of the pathway.

“Do you want anymore?”

He takes a breath of smoke, and shakes his head.

Jin Xi is also done eating.  She puts her hands behind her and continues walking with him.

They both remain silent.  Only the light sound of their footsteps can be heard.

Jin Xi looks down and sees their shadows walking side by side on the pathway.  His shadow is just like him: tall, straight, and handsome with broad and balanced shoulders, and long and straight legs, as well as long and lean arms resting on each side of his body.

For whatever reason, Jin Xi lifts her gaze subconsciously to look at the pair of arms that’s resting on each of his side.

He’s wearing a black jacket, making his exposed hands look even paler and scrawnier.  He’s holding the cigarette with his left hand, and his right hand is empty……

Jin Xi suddenly feels her palms sweating slightly.

She seems to be shocked by a thought in her mind just now.

It sure is a moonless and windy (dangerous) night walking out alone with a man; she can’t believe she’s actually wondering if he would hold her hand.

She immediately stuffs her empty hand into her pocket without showing any expression.

Han Chen continues smoking.  It’s quiet everywhere, and his gaze also falls onto the two shadows on the ground.

And then he spots Jin Xi putting her left hand into her pocket.

He lets out faint smokes as he breathes.  He raises his head again and looks straight.

_____

Han Chen’s phone rings just as they arrive at the parking lot entrance.  It’s Chatterbox calling.

He answers and gestures towards Jin Xi, who’s waiting beside him, to go back first.

Jin Xi nods.  She still has to give Xiao Zhuan his skewers.  It wouldn’t be good to eat them cold.  Therefore, they head out to different directions.

Han Chen walks to his car, looks up, and sees that Jin Xi has already made it back to the police car; she pulls open the door and sits inside.

Han Chen also gets inside of his own car.

Chatterbox is calling regarding his search of Zheng Cheng Zhi’s younger brother——Zheng Cheng Da.

“Leader, I still haven’t found him yet,” he sounds a bit helpless, “Zheng Cheng Da didn’t take the train.  One of his old hometown neighbours say that it’s because he wants to save money, so he’s taking the bus.  There are too many buses running from Shanghai to City Lan besides the privately run ones.  I’ll have to look them up one by one.  I’ve already gotten someone to keep an eye at the bus station in City Lan.  The moment we spot him, we’ll take him back for questioning.”

“Mm,” Han Chen asks him about other details before hanging up.  He then calls Cold Face, Qin Wen Long, and the rest of them one by one for updates.

It’s already past 2am when he puts down his phone; a little more than half an hour has passed.

He leans against the chair, fetches the water bottle, and drinks a few mouthfuls.

He can only wait now; waiting for a clue that will help him breakthrough.

When he looks up again, the police car that Jin Xi is in looks peace and quiet.

He keeps still for a while, and then pushes open the door and gets out.

When he comes to the backseat door, he sees Jin Xi with her eyes closed and leaning diagonally in the backseat; she’s already asleep.  Xiao Zhuan in the driver’s seat notices somebody coming close, so he opens the door and gets out, “Oh, Leader, we thought you had left already.  Xiao Bai is asleep now.  I’m on duty for the first half of the night, and she’ll be on duty for the second half.  Is there anything?  Should I wake her up?”

“No need.”

Han Chen speaks in a low voice as he tells him the progress of the other members briefly.  He advises Xiao Zhuan that the moment he spots the Zhou Family, he needs to report back to him right away.

Xiao Zhuan acknowledges quickly.

Han Chen glances at Jin Xi in the backseat again, and asks, “You’re letting her sleep just like this?”

Xiao Zhuan doesn’t understand his question.  He takes a look at her, and asks doubtfully, “Um, how should she sleep then?  She always sleeps like this……”

Han Chen’s arm is resting on top of the door frame as he stares at Bai Jin Xi, “It’s fine.  You can continue with what you’re doing.”

Xiao Zhuan says “okay,” gets back into the car, puts the laptop on his lap, and continues looking up some information.

Han Chen lowers his head to look at Bai Jin Xi.

It’s fall time, so the weather is getting cooler, and the car window is open.  She’s not lying down flat, but rather, she’s leaning against the backseat in a crooked way.  She only has a thin sports jacket on.  Her shoes have been taken off and her legs are curled up, revealing her white socks.  Her face is resting on one of her arms while the other is embracing her knees.

Han Chen takes off his jacket, pulls open the door, bends over inside, and lays it over her body.

She doesn’t budge.

Han Chen presses both of his hands onto the seat, and examines her face.

It’s the third time that he sees her sleeping face.  It’s just like how he remembers it.  When she’s sleeping, she is not as beautiful and captivating; her lips seem to pout out of habit, making her look childish and innocent.

Han Chen laughs without a sound.  Just when he is about to move away, Jin Xi frowns her eyebrows, moans, and moves her body as if she’s feeling a bit hot.

And then the arm that’s around her knees slowly moves down.

It lands right on the back of his hand.

Han Chen instinctively raises his head to look at her face.  She must be dreaming about something as her eyebrows gradually relaxes.  Her fingers then grasp onto his palm lightly, and don’t move.

He pauses for a moment, thinking about retrieving his hand.  But the instant that he moves, Jin Xi grabs on even tighter; her fingers dig deeper into his palm.

So tightly, as if she’s afraid of losing him.

_____

Xiao Zhuan has had his head buried in his laptop for a while before he notices that Han Chen still hasn’t left yet and is sitting in the backseat.  Han Chen has one arm on the car door while smoking.  His expression is solemn, as if he’s thinking about something.

He also sees that Han Chen is wearing a shirt only.  His jacket is lying on top of Jin Xi, which makes Xiao Zhuan feels a bit embarrassed; he’s really not caring of his partner enough!

“Leader, do you think that we’ll be able to crack the case?” he asks softly.

Han Chen inhales a breath of smoke, and answers, “Yes.  It’s just a matter of time.”

His words make Xiao Zhuan’s heart feel heavy.  He lets out a sigh.

Han Chen continues smoking slowly while looking at the night sky outside of the window.

And underneath his black jacket, Jin Xi’s hand is still holding his tightly.  She hasn’t moved since, so he doesn’t move either.

He suddenly recalls what happened in the afternoon today.

The usual energetic bumpkin super detective Bai Jin Xi was squatting in the sunset with her arms wrapped around her knees, crying heartbrokenly.

And when she raised her head, he saw tears flowing from her eyes; suddenly, he felt his heart stinging.  When he pulled her up from the ground, he was just one step away from holding her in his embraced.

……

It’s not that he didn’t feel anything in his heart.  It’s not that he wasn’t attracted to her.

Therefore, he stopped replying to her text messages, and let everything return to ground zero.

But she appeared in front of him once again.

Attracting him once again.

He wanted to keep their superior and subordinate relationship as is, and keep a distance from her.  He was confident of his consciousness and self-control; over time, the attraction and the feelings in his heart should go away.

But she cried in front of him.

……

He turns his head and stares at her face quietly.

Is there also someone and some relationship that she cannot forget in her heart?  And this is why she cried so heartbrokenly?

He slowly feels pain somewhere deep inside his heart.

He looks outside the window again.

He smokes for a while longer.  He flips the back of his hand without anyone noticing, and her hand falls directly into his palm, letting him hold onto it.

_____

When Jin Xi wakes up, Han Chen has long been gone.  She only sees the jacket on her body as she sits up slowly.  She folds it neatly for him.

Xiao Zhuan immediately falls asleep right after switching duties with her.  Jin Xi gets out of the car, walks around feeling refreshed, and then gets back inside and continues keeping watch of the building.

At 8am in the morning, their efforts are rewarded.  Among the crowd of people going to work, she actually spots the Zhou Family coming back.

Jin Xi pats Xiao Zhuan to wake him up, and then they rush over to them.

Mr. Zhou is carrying a plastic bag with “City People’s Hospital” on it.  It looks like they’ve just come back from the hospital.  No wonder they’ve been out all night.  Mrs. Zhou looks fatigue.  Their younger daughter Zhou Si Lin is walking beside them.  According to the file, she’s 19 this year; 3 years younger than her deceased sister, Zhou Si Han.

Jin Xi and Xiao Zhuan hold out their badges.  Mr. Zhou asks hesitantly, “Officers, is there a problem?”

Jin Xi answers, “Mr. Zhou, it’s like this.  We’re very sorry to disturb you.  Before your older daughter passed away, she had a boyfriend named Chen Xi Xian……”

The moment she mentions the name, their facial expressions change.  Mr. Zhou turns around to his wife, “Go up with Si Lin first.”

Mrs. Zhou nods.  Zhou Si Lin glances at Jin Xi with a complicated look as she follows her mom to go up to the building.

Mr. Zhou turns around and looks at them, “Officers, that bastard has nothing to do with our family.  If you want to ask about him, go ask someone else!”

His tone is unforgiving.  He turns around and leaves.  Xiao Zhuan stops him quickly, “Mister!  Chen Xi Xian was killed yesterday!”

These words make an impact.  Mr. Zhou is stunned, and is also showing a surprised expression.  But his reaction to follow is completely unexpected.

He laughs out loud; the kind that is full of hatred and satisfaction, “Great!  This is too great!  The heavens have carried out justice!  It’s good that he’s dead.  It’s great that he’s dead.  I’ll have a drink to celebrate when I go back today.  The heavens have finally carried out justice!”

Jin Xi and Xiao Zhuan look at each other.

His footsteps are actually staggering a bit.  Jin Xi holds on to his arm, “Mr. Zhou, why?  What grudges do you have on Chen Xi Xian?”

Mr. Zhou looks at her.  His eyes slowly become red, “Since he’s dead, I don’t mind humiliating myself anymore.  Officer, if it wasn’t for this scamp, Chen Xi Xian, how else would my daughter have died?  If it wasn’t because he was doing drugs and asked my daughter for money, why else would my daughter have gone out in the middle of the night to bring him money where she ended up meeting a couple of hooligans on the way there and was……She refused to report it to the police.  We gave in and endured it, but demanded that she sever all ties with that scamp.  But she became absent minded.  Not long after, she got into a car accident……For this kind of people, the society will benefit from having one less of them.  Why are you guys bothering to investigate?  Whoever killed him is our Zhou Family’s benefactor!”

……

Jin Xi raises her head as they drive out from the Zhou Family’s residential area.  She sees the Zhou Family all standing on the balcony; their expressions are blurry from afar.

Xiao Zhuan moans, “I didn’t think there would be this twist.  I never thought that Zhou Si Han’s death was indirectly caused by Chen Xi Xian.”

Jin Xi frowns as she is in deep thought.  After hearing what Xiao Zhuan says, she takes out her cell phone.  Just when she’s about to call Chatterbox, Chatterbox’s phone number flashes on the screen.

“Little Sister Bai, I caught Zheng Cheng Da, and have gotten all the details out of him!” his voice sounds serious, “That’s not right.  After I pressed him, Zheng Cheng Da got all worked up.  He has quite a lot of opinions about his older brother.  He said that their mom’s health was well and was always careful with walking.  He insisted that his mom’s death was not an accident, and that she was pushed down the stairs by his older brother because he wanted to take all of the compensation from being forced to move out!”

Jin Xi’s heart pounds.

This is it.  This is how it actually is.

They’ve already noticed this before.  In both victims’ cases, someone close to them has died recently.  It seems as if there’s something connected to this, which is why they’ve decided to dig deeper in this area.

Regardless of how Killer T found these two targets among the crowd, he’s not simply just targeting those who are useless.

He is doing this to carry out punishment!

Mr. Zhou mentioned it just now, Zhou Si Han was raped when she was going to bring her boyfriend some money in the middle of the night.  In the many years that Jin Xi has been an officer, she knows very well that some people who do drugs have already lost their senses.  Instances like this have happened many times before.  In order to trade for drugs, the guy would deliberately set up a trap to let his girlfriend suffer.

With this said, the two people that T killed have most likely done something to cost another’s life, yet they have not been prosecuted.

“Let’s find Han Chen immediately!” Jin Xi says, “We’ve found the pattern!”

But……it might be too late already.

_____

12:10 pm noon.

Many police officers are patrolling in all areas of City Lan.  All surveillance cameras on the road and other public places are being watched closely to observe all activities.

All members of the Black Shield Team and the criminal investigation team have spread out across the city to help out the district police to be on guard.

But this is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

“Bang.”

A loud sound scrapes across the air in some area of the city without letting anyone know, or letting the police know.

Only the young girl lying on the floor beside the sofa at home is twitching with blood rushing out of her chest.

15 minutes later.  Black Shield Team receives a phone call——

“The third victim has appeared.  Her name is Chen Can Lan, twenty-one years old,” the police reporting the incident says, “She’s related to a traffic accident from December.  She was reportedly driving under influence, and hit a little girl, who died.  Her family used some money and found a friend to be the scapegoat.  The incident sparked a riot on the internet.  This is why the civil policeman recognized her right away after receiving the emergency call.”


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