When it was nearly time to leave for work, Jiang Zhengkai took A-Jiao with him as he rushed to the sub-bureau. Since A-Jiao was willing to stay with him to the death, he didn’t need to avoid it any longer. Once A-Jiao had settled into his office, he called for Lu Xiaoqiang.
Jiang Zhengkai glanced at A-Jiao briefly before apprehensively asking Lu Xiaoqiang, “How’s A-Ping feeling? Has her mental state improved at all?”
Lu Xiaoqiang also looked at A-Jiao with a similar expression before responding, “She’s ok! I found a policewoman’s office for her to calm down in last night. Both her emotional and mental state seem fine, and there shouldn’t be any problems with her.”
Jiang Zhengkai continued asking questions. “Have you already questioned the couple that were also brought in last night?”
“They’ve been questioned, and there shouldn’t be any issues there either. They are…” Lu Xiaoqiang wanted to continue reporting but noticed that Jiang Zhengkai was waving his hand. He stopped the words coming out of his mouth and instead looked at Jiang Zhengkai.
Jiang Zhengkai straightforwardly replied, “No need to speak any further! If there are no issues, then just tell Zhang Nan to release them after they pay their fines!” Then he looked at Lu Xiaoqiang and said, “Xiaoqiang, within the next few days, I need you to go back to the alley and secure a covert safe room that is suitable for establishing surveillance. We will need to use it soon.”
“Yes!” Lu Xiaoqiang replied in a clear-cut manner.
“Ok! There’s no need to visit the alley tonight. I don’t think that the killer is going to appear.” Jiang Zhengkai smiled at Lu Xiaoqiang and continued explaining, “Over the next few days, we will most likely be working night shifts consecutively. Be prepared.”
“Yes, Inspector Jiang.” After Lu Xiaoqiang replied, Jiang Zhengkai gestured for him to leave. Then, Jiang Zhengkai dialled Yao Tianyu’s assistant’s number again. “Hello, this is Jiang Zhengkai. May I know whom I’m speaking to?”
Xue Na’s voice sounded out from the other end, saying, “Inspector Jiang, this is Xue Na.” Jiang Zhengkai earnestly replied, “Oh, hello. Will Commissioner Yao be away on any business trips in the coming days?”
“No, he will be here,” Xue Na replied. “Are you looking for him? He left this afternoon. He will probably… probably be free tomorrow morning.” Xue Na was obviously currently checking Yao Tianyu’s schedule on the other end.
“Oh, haha. Thank you, Xue Na.” Jiang Zhengkai had a knowing smile on his face. Then he casually asked, “Has Zhang Qian not returned yet?”
“Oh, Sister Qian was transferred to the Foreign Affairs Department and is now the section chief there,” Xue Na replied happily. “I see. So from now on, we’ll be working together?” Jiang Zhengkai smiled as he spoke.
“Yep! In the future, I’ll be the one in charge of giving you intelligence reports.” Xue Na started to giggle. From the looks of it, Zhang Qian must have praised him a lot when she was around. “That’s good! Make sure to help me in the future. I’m going to hang up now. Thanks again!” Jiang Zhengkai hung up and sighed. “That old man really did change his assistant.”
To the side, A-Jiao was casually lounging around and reading the case summaries. She lifted her head and smiled evilly at Jiang Zhengkai. “So? You want a new assistant too? Honey, is that what you brought me here for?”
“Of course not! Dream on!” Jiang Zhengkai glanced at A-Jiao and poked her head in response. “Wait here. I’m going to go see if that rascal Mu Mingyuan is around.” After he said this, Jiang Zhengkai finally got through to Mu Mingyuan’s phone. “Mu, you there?”
“Yes! I’m alive.” Mu Mingyuan’s lazy voice came through clearly from the other side. “What’s up? I have been working nonstop until noon today! Don’t tell me I still have to go have fun with you tonight.” Jiang Zhengkai laughed in response. “No need! No need! Oh yeah, do we have any colleagues that are skilled at makeup?”
“Makeup? For the living or the dead?” Mu Mingyuan shot back with a rejoinder.
“For the living, a woman. For a beauty!” Jiang Zhengkai glanced at A-Jiao as he spoke. A-Jiao seemed to not have heard him at all; her head was still buried in the case summaries.
“A beauty? I can do it!” Mu Mingyuan’s voice became visibly happier, “Where? What kind of makeup? Jiang, you’re the best. Does she have a boyfriend?”
“Of course! We’re bros. She doesn’t have a boyfriend, rest assured! What? You’re interested? But this is hard work! You’ll have to follow behind her everyday.”
“That’s fine! I don’t mind following a beauty everyday! In fact, I don’t mind following her for the rest of my life!” Mu Mingyuan replied enthusiastically.
“Alright then, you’re at home right? I’ll give you ten minutes to get over here.” Jiang Zhengkai hung up without waiting for Mu Mingyuan to respond. Next to him, A-Jiao put down the case summaries and shot Jiang Zhengkai a pout. “Hmph! You’re really quite something! You’re using me as an incentive?”
“Incentive? Says who?” Jiang Zhengkai smiled at A-Jiao, “He only asked me if you had a boyfriend. He didn’t ask if you had a husband. You can’t blame me!”
In less than ten minutes, Mu Mingyuan had rushed into Jiang Zhengkai’s office. “How did I do? I’m not too late right?” Mu Mingyuan said as he panted heavily while clutching at the door frame. His eyes looked around Jiang Zhengkai’s office and naturally fell onto A-Jiao who was sitting to the side. “Sister-in-law, you’re… you’re here too?”
“Ok, everyone’s here. Let’s begin!” Jiang Zhengkai pointed at A-Jiao as he smiled at Mu Mingyuan. “What?” Mu Mingyuan’s expression froze, “What the fuck! You were talking about sister-in-law?”
“That’s right! She doesn’t have a boyfriend.” Jiang Zhengkai smirked evilly. “Fine! Fine, you win!” Mu Mingyuan stood in front of the door with both hands on his hips. He stared at the two of them for awhile before turning around to look outside the large office. Jiang Zhengkai had rendered him speechless.
A-Jiao looked at Mu Mingyuan’s lost expression and smiled. “Well, it’s nothing much. We haven’t gotten our marriage licence yet! You still have a chance.”
“Really?” Mu Mingyuan walked into the room and beckoned towards A-Jiao. “Great! Let’s go, beautiful. Why don’t we go back to my place.” Then he turned around to face Jiang Zhengkai. “How about it? It's a fair competition.” After Mu Mingyuan said this, he pushed A-Jiao out of the room as he walked out.
Jiang Zhengkai stood in his office and shook his head helplessly. “Sigh! How could you be like this?” Then he raced out of his office, “Mu! How is this fair? She’s my wife!”
However, Mu Mingyuan separated work and play very well. With his help, A-Jiao had become another person altogether. When A-Jiao stood in front of the mirror, even she was astonished. Was the charming woman in the mirror really her?
From a distance, Mu Mingyuan observed A-Jiao’s expression before turning his head to ask Jiang Zhengkai. “How is it? Are you satisfied?”
“Not too bad! At the end of the day, my bro is quite skilled.” Jiang Zhengkai gave Mu Mingyuan a thumbs up. “But from now on, we’ll be troubling you for a while. Are you fine with that? Doing makeup for my wife at this time of day, everyday?”
Mu Mingyuan stood there blankly looking at him and then at A-Jiao. “What are you doing? Jiang, could it be that you’re really fucking Mr. Jiang? You’re even including your beautiful wife in this plot of yours?”
“She demanded to be involved!” Jiang Zhengkai looked at A-Jiao and helplessly shook his head. He had known Mu Mingyuan for nearly ten years; they were both intellectuals and could read between the lines.
Mu Mingyuan nodded. “Alright! That’s fine with me! After you become Butterfly Lovers1, I’ll visit you both every year!”
“You won’t go visit her?” Jiang Zhengkai forcefully smacked Mu Mingyuan’s shoulder. “From how I see it, you should just stop being fake. Oh yeah, has there been any progress with the autopsy?”
Mu Mingyuan shook his head. “No! We didn’t discover any chemicals or drugs. It’s as if the two victims just became skin and bones out of nowhere.” After saying this, Mu Mingyuan looked at A-Jiao. “Jiang, you… you should think it over again. So far, the victims were either prostitutes or drug dealers. They weren’t good people anyway. I don’t think it's worth it! Perhaps you don’t think your life matters, but she’s just a young lady.”
“What are you two talking about?” While Jiang Zhengkai was talking to Mu Mingyuan, A-Jiao had taken the opportunity to go use the bathroom. As soon as she returned, she could tell that Mu Mingyuan had been talking about her, so she shifted closer and tilted her head. “Who’s going to live or die?”
Jiang Zhengkai shook his head. “Nothing!” Then he grimaced, “Mingyuan was just trying to persuade me not to bring you to the alley”.
“What?” A-Jiao glanced at Mu Mingyuan. Then she waved her fist in front of Jiang Zhengkai’s face and gritted her teeth. “Go ahead and see what happens if you don’t!”
When Mu Mingyuan saw A-Jiao’s expression from the side, he could only make a face at Jiang Zhengkai and shrug his shoulders.
- “Butterfly Lovers” is an idiom used in ancient China to describe two lovers dying at the same time. This phrase came from the story of Liang Shan Bo and Zhu Ying Tai, one of the four great folk love stories of ancient China, and has been called the Chinese equivalent to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In the story, when Liang Shan Bo died, Zhu Ying Tai cried in front of his grave. Liang Shan Bo then reappeared and both he and Zhu Ying Tai became butterflies.