154 – 156
TN: There’s actually 3 chapters in this not 2. I missed the cut-offs while posting.
Captain Li was ultimately a step behind. When they turned back to find Xu Zhaoran, the door was already locked, and her phone was switched off. This woman had disappeared without a trace.
The police accessed Xu Zhaoran’s bank card information and discovered occasional deposits, suggesting someone was paying for murder.
But who would want to kill these harmless elderly people?
As for Yu Ran, she was still at home. She was brought in directly. However, she kept repeating the same phrase, “I didn’t kill anyone.”
They couldn’t extract any useful clues from the elderly woman’s mouth.
The seventy-year-old woman was so fragile that even speaking a bit louder might trigger a heart attack.
The detectives from the criminal investigation team could only treat her kindly, making sure she had food and water.
However, Yu Ran remained tight-lipped, leaving Captain Li at a loss.
Although Yu Yan had pointed out some suspicions, there was currently no concrete evidence linking Yu Ran to the murders. At this rate, after twelve more hours, they would have to release her.
Inside the observation room, Yao Fei whispered to Yu Yan, “Teacher, I feel like we’re in a deadlock.”
Yu Yan furrowed his brow. “I haven’t come up with a good breakthrough yet.”
The murderous intent of Xu Zhaoran was rooted in her psychology. However, regarding Yu Ran, with her prosperous family and numerous descendants, he couldn’t fathom why she would conspire with Xu Zhaoran.
There were still some unanswered questions in this case.
Yu Yan looked at the time and said, “You stay here and continue the interrogation. If you encounter any issues, call me.”
Yao Fei looked up. “Where are you going?”
Yu Yan explained, “I have an appointment.”
Yao Fei blinked, a bit cautious. “With whom?”
Yu Yan replied, “Your future colleague.”
Yao Fei exclaimed, “Are they starting interviews already?”
The members of their Behavioral Analysis Unit received better treatment than ordinary detectives. During the previous examination, many people participated, but ultimately, the quotas were determined by Yu Yan and Director Tan. Yao Fei even helped organize the exam papers.
Back then, he had overheard that the interviews were scheduled for the end of the year, not at this time.
Yu Yan explained, “This person is quite special. I need to meet them individually.”
Yao Fei became more curious, wanting to know what made this person so special. Feeling bored, he acted spoiled toward Yu Yan, “Teacher, I don’t want to watch the interrogation of the old aunties. Can you take me to meet our new colleague?”
Yu Yan pressed him down. “I can’t take you with me. Questioning the old aunties is also part of the process of cracking the case. Regardless of the suspect’s identity, being able to extract answers is a skill.”
Yao Fei retorted, “But the skill lies in actually getting the answers. Right now, we’re not making any progress.”
Yu Yan replied, “That’s where you can learn from their experiences. Take a good look. In the future, it’ll help you avoid unnecessary detours.”
With the arrangements made, Yu Yan walked to the office of the Behavioral Analysis Unit.
Outside the door, he saw a young man standing next to the desk. This young man didn’t look very old, rather slender, with a graceful posture and delicate facial features. He looked a bit aloof.
The young man had his head lowered, focused on the documents spread out on the desk. These were the materials that Yu Yan and Yao Fei had analyzed the case with in the morning.
When he heard someone entering, the young man raised his head. His eyes were particularly dark, and his pupils dilated.
Even though Yu Yan had seen the photo on his resume, at that moment, he still felt a bit dazed. He thought of those Ball-Jointed Dolls he had seen online.
Yu Yan greeted, “Su Hui, hello. Have you been waiting long?”
Su Hui replied, “Not long. I arrived a bit early.”
His voice was also pleasant to the ear. This clean and refreshing young man would be welcomed anywhere he went, endearing himself to people.
Yu Yan poured water for Su Hui and led him to the nearby meeting room. He got straight to the point, “Su Hui, I saw your test paper earlier, and I’ve looked into your academic achievements and various information. I really hope you can join the Huadu General Bureau and become part of our department.”
At that time, they had received over ten thousand test papers from various branches and schools. Many were from detectives or assistants who had taken the test for fun, and some didn’t even understand what criminal psychology was about when they submitted their answers.
After filtering through, only Su Hui’s paper had caught his eye. Some of his analyses were sharp and insightful, offering unique perspectives. In some cases, his considerations were more comprehensive than Yu Yan’s own.
Yu Yan felt that this person’s abilities might surpass his own. He felt like he had stumbled upon a treasure and was determined to bring him on board.
He had discussed this extensively with Director Tan and had even applied for the highest salary possible within his authority for Su Hui.
Director Tan was a bit sympathetic. He asked Yu Yan, “He’s just a recent graduate. The terms you’re offering could easily attract an expert.”
Yu Yan replied, “I can assure you that this person is not inferior to an expert.”
However, during their subsequent phone conversations, Yu Yan could tell that Su Hui’s desire for employment wasn’t very strong. That’s why he had proposed the idea of having the organization cover his expenses to come for an interview.
Yu Yan first introduced Su Hui to the situation at the Huadu General Bureau and then discussed the salary and scope of work here.
After listening, Su Hui said, “To be honest, I filled out that test paper out of curiosity. Since other places haven’t established a Behavioral Analysis Unit, I wanted to see what the test paper looked like and just answered it on a whim. I came to Huadu because I heard that there are some collections in the museum here that aren’t publicly displayed. There will be a public exhibition soon, so I decided to take a look.”
He intertwined his slender fingers and continued with brutal honesty, “Recently, I’ve received job offers from four places. I want to compare the situations…”
Su Hui was blunt, carrying the unique arrogance of youth.
Since childhood, he had been a prodigy and hadn’t had much contact with society. He also didn’t like the polite words of the seasoned ones.
However, Su Hui had his reasons for being this way; he had the capital for his arrogance.
Although the Huadu General Bureau was large and working to raise salaries, the conditions were incomparable to what some other places were offering.
The Provincial Department even promised him an independent office, a staff apartment, assistance with household registration, and a higher professional title rank. His parents also preferred him to work there.
Yu Yan placed a hand on his chest. This kid really was assertive, just as he had expected. He was quite straightforward.
Currently, it wasn’t about him conducting an interview; it was about how he could impress this interviewee enough to make him want to work here.
Compared to Su Hui’s sharp and straightforward manner, Yu Yan was a person who knew when to advance and when to retreat.
Instead of directly answering Su Hui’s question, he asked, “Are you taking the afternoon high-speed train?”
Su Hui was taken aback. “It’s around 8:00 in the evening.”
Yu Yan said, “That’s perfect. I have a question I’d like to ask you. Did you see the case on my desk earlier?”
Su Hui replied with an “Mm,” “It’s an interesting case, involving a female serial killer.”
There were also a few other analyses listed sporadically, but due to his limited time, he hadn’t examined them in detail.
Yu Yan brought over the materials, went through the case with him, and mentioned some of the details they had discovered. He concluded, “We’re currently interrogating Yu Ran, but she’s not cooperating, and the interrogation has hit a dead end.”
Su Hui carefully looked over the materials. Since there was still time, he and Yu Yan began analyzing the case together.
They discussed the case, deduced and debated back and forth, and even forgot the main topic of this conversation and lost track of time.
Yu Yan’s words would inspire Su Hui, and Su Hui’s words would set Yu Yan thinking.
Psychological analysis, behavioral logic, traces of evidence — they reasoned step by step with patience and precision.
As time passed, it seemed like they were getting closer and closer to the truth.
Suddenly, Su Hui said, “I’ve noticed something unusual.” Then he analyzed, “If those elderly people were poisoned, why didn’t any of them call 120 (emergency services)?”
Upon hearing Su Hui’s words, Yu Yan’s brow relaxed. He finally understood where he had been feeling puzzled.
With so many elderly people, not a single one had called for help or dialed 120.
Although poison acted swiftly, it still involved a process.
Not a single person had sought help. They all died in their beds without even falling to the ground. This was clearly illogical.
Su Hui’s analysis continued, “Furthermore, if Xu Zhaoran’s clients were frequently dying, why is she well-regarded by the elderly and why do so many people hire her to clean their homes?”
While one or two clients dying might not raise suspicions, if the death toll was over five, according to common sense, those elderly people should be on high alert. Yet not a single person raised objections, and during the police follow-up visits, they even spoke up in favor of Xu Zhaoran.
“Xu Zhaoran is a serial killer driven by her desires, but Yu Ran, being a normal person, must have her own motivations and behavioral reasons.” Su Hui looked at the files with a focused expression. “Zhou Bingyi’s nails are neatly trimmed, and the dog at her home might have been disposed of.”
Yu Yan nodded. “Yes, it was given to another elderly person in the same community.”
“She probably bought flowers. Have you verified the date?”
“It was her husband’s anniversary. There’s a record of her visit to the cemetery in the morning.”
“Also, despite the time passing dinner, Zhou Bingyi didn’t have dinner.”
Without much exchange, just a few words were enough for them to understand each other’s thoughts.
Both of them arrived at a possible scenario.
Su Hui fell silent for a moment, then set down the materials. “I think this might be her chosen way of dying.”
Not wanting to grow old alone, Zhou Bingyi sent the dog away, trimmed her nails, and bid her husband farewell one last time. She chose her executioner, a less painful method, a significant anniversary, tidied her room, and prepared to end her life.
However, her nephew disturbed her peace due to this property.
If it weren’t for that man’s intrusion, they wouldn’t have discovered the hidden killer in the city.
Zhou Bingyi would have passed away quietly like those elderly people in the photos.
“Other elderly people as well. Neatly dressed, hair well-combed, nails trimmed.” Yu Yan also came to the realization. “So, all those elderly people died peacefully. Not a single one sought help. Yu Ran might have assisted in completing and orchestrating the acts…”
Perhaps this was how those elderly people chose to depart…
Combined with the sudden deposits on Xu Zhaoran’s bank card, they were hiring killers, but the targets were themselves.
After discussing with Su Hui for a while, Yu Yan felt he had found a breakthrough in the case and had a better understanding of its truth.
Together with Su Hui, they reached a conclusion.
The logic was coherent, but they still needed confessions to confirm it.
Yu Yan stood up excitedly, wanting to share this deduction with the Criminal Investigation Division. But he remembered that he couldn’t leave Su Hui waiting alone. He had to suppress his excitement.
Sitting back down, Yu Yan guided the conversation back to the main topic. “Thank you very much for your assistance! About the question you asked me earlier, I’d like to say that our approach here is different from other places. We’re integrating criminal psychology into the process of solving cases. In China, this is still relatively rare. With millions of people in Huadu, we face a high number of cases, including many bizarre ones and serial killers. If you enjoy applying what you’ve learned and want to make a big impact, delve into the truth behind cases, then I welcome you to join us.”
Suddenly, Su Hui understood the intention behind Yu Yan discussing the case with him. He wanted Su Hui to see the real work environment.
Yu Yan had the same idea.
He cleverly turned the question of how to convince Su Hui into how to attract him.
Forcing a ripe melon isn’t sweet. He didn’t want to compete over who offered the best conditions or the highest salary.
He didn’t want to paint a rosy picture or describe a beautiful future.
Even less did he want to trick Su Hui into coming and later be criticized as a deceiver.
He believed that Su Hui was somewhat similar to him in certain aspects.
Wanting to apply what he had learned, wanting to solve cases, wanting to uncover the truth – these were things he wanted to do.
Nothing could move people more than a genuine passion.
Su Hui fell silent. What Yu Yan presented was indeed their biggest advantage and what attracted him most about Huadu.
Although a few other places were inviting him, most were hoping he would contribute academically or analyze data. Some even straightforwardly stated that the positions were related to logistics or consultancy roles where he only needed to provide advice.
He felt like he would be turned into a vase, put on display.
He didn’t want to waste his youth like this, let it slip away.
He wanted to get closer to those evils, to stand up for the deceased, to challenge the darkness, to bring more light to the world.
Su Hui realized that Yu Yan had been advancing and managing the Huadu General Bureau.
Setting up the Behavioral Analysis Unit, getting involved in one case after another, changing the perception of superiors, making them accept the existence of criminal psychology, getting the detectives to understand their work, cooperate with them, and earn their trust.
These might sound easy, but they required a lot of effort and years of careful cultivation.
Yu Yan had already set up a framework, like a tent sheltering them from wind and rain. They only needed to enter and start working.
Yu Yan saw Su Hui’s hesitation and continued, “Our department isn’t large; next year, we’ll have five positions in total. If you’re willing to come, this team will revolve around you. We have a flat organizational structure, where everyone brainstorms for solutions, with solving cases as our goal. I’m not really a leader, just someone who communicates and solves problems. Whether it’s personal or work-related problems, we’re all willing to help.”
Yu Yan couldn’t help but imagine what a lucky occurrence it would be if Su Hui decided to join their team.
Su Hui had a favorable impression of Yu Yan, a department head who didn’t have any airs. He smiled, “You even handle personal problems here?”
Yu Yan knew he was getting through to Su Hui. “Well, it depends on what you like. I can introduce you to them later. The people here are quite enthusiastic. To be honest, our Director Tan here is known as the matchmaker of the bureau.”
Su Hui nodded. He could tell that Yu Yan genuinely wanted him to work here.
He also felt a certain connection with him.
However, he hadn’t discussed this with his parents yet. He didn’t want to make a definite statement, “Thank you, Team Leader Yu. I’ll think about it and give you a call later.”
After seeing Su Hui off, Yu Yan returned to the main building. The interrogation was still at a standstill, making no progress.
Yao Fei was still waiting there. He looked at Yu Yan as he entered and said, “Teacher, you’ve been interviewing for quite a while.”
Yu Yan nodded at him without mentioning the interview, then turned to the young police officer beside him and said, “I’ve reviewed the case and want to see if we can get the suspect to open up.”
The young officer sighed and went to consult with Captain Li.
“Did you discover the truth?” Yao Fei interrupted, eager.
Yu Yan nodded. “The elderly might have hired hitmen to facilitate their own suicides.”
Yao Fei lowered his head, thought for a moment, and his eyes sparkled with excitement, “It makes sense logically. Teacher, you’re amazing.”
“It was only realized with someone else’s reminder,” Yu Yan reflected. “Your new colleague is truly outstanding.”
“Maybe he just got lucky guessing right?” Yao Fei scoffed. “Teacher, are you being modest? Someone more outstanding than you? I don’t believe it.”
Yu Yan admitted frankly, “Believe it or not, my talents are limited. Others are simply better than me.”
After a brief chat, Captain Li arrived, gave his consent, and Yu Yan entered the interrogation room.
Yu Ran was sitting there quietly, her head bowed. Her hair had turned silver-white, and there were scattered age spots on her cheeks. She appeared to be a peaceful and ordinary elderly person.
When Yu Ran saw Yu Yan enter, she raised her head and repeated, “Officer, I didn’t kill anyone.”
“I know, those people weren’t killed by you,” Yu Yan said. “But assisting others in murder or aiding others in suicide is still illegal.”
Upon hearing this, a hint of surprise crossed Yu Ran’s expression.
Yu Yan continued, “I found a record of your report from three years ago. Your clock-in group was established three years ago, right before Xu Zhaoran came to work here… Can you tell me why you created that clock-in group?”
Yu Ran was struck by her hidden concerns. She lifted her head and finally started explaining.
Her voice was gentle, carrying a unique hoarseness. “The reason for creating that clock-in group was because a elderly person in our community suddenly passed away. She had no children or relatives, and she had a dog. The dog kept barking inside the house. Someone complained to the neighborhood committee, and her body was only found after seven days. I reported the incident and then went in to identify the body… I can’t forget that smell for the rest of my life.”
At this point, her voice trembled, and Yu Yan sensed the impact this event had on her.
The incident had dealt her a significant blow. It was like a nightmare she couldn’t escape from, and unfortunately, the nightmare was reality.
Yu Ran took a sip of water and continued, “The elderly in the neighborhood were frightened. Everyone dies eventually, but if no one discovers the body promptly after death, it’s left to rot all alone. It’s just too tragic.”
“So, the clock-in group was created to prevent such things from happening?”
Yu Ran nodded.
“Some were afraid of this happening to them. Among them, some even left their keys with me, checking in on the group every day. At the very least, when they lived or died, someone would know.” She paused and continued, “But…”
“And then?” Yu Yan signaled for her to continue.
Yu Ran lowered her head, transforming into the kind of elderly neighbor who loved to chat in the past.
“But people can’t control their lives or deaths. It’s a pitiful situation. We’re different from ordinary people. When we get old, without family or friends, we become useless. We have no social responsibility. If we die quietly, it reduces the burden on society.”
“Officer, you haven’t experienced growing old or faced death closely. Perhaps you won’t understand, won’t know that feeling. At first, parents are there to accompany you. But when they’re gone, it feels like half the sky has collapsed. Then it’s a partner who might die or leave, and children can’t be relied upon.”
“Relatives gradually drift away, some even have their eyes on your money. After living for decades, you’ve seen all the cruelty of the world. Nursing homes are expensive, and ordinary people can’t afford them. Even if you get in, with no relatives to visit, you’re just at the mercy of others. When you’re young, you think you won’t reach this stage, but as you live to this age, you realize you can’t control your brain or body, let alone others. After retirement, society abandons you. It feels like all you can do every day is eat, sleep, and play cards, not knowing what else to do.”
“You start forgetting things, the little things you could easily remember when you were young. Now, you might walk out and suddenly remember there’s something burning on the stove, and the pot is ruined. Looking at your beloved grandchildren, you might call them by the wrong names. Your body develops problems – this hurts, that’s uncomfortable. TV shows you loved in the past now give you headaches after just a while. You might shake when drinking soup, sometimes spilling half of it on the table, and even on your clothes.”
She lowered her head, “My spouse has also passed away. Although my children are filial, they can’t offer much help. In the end, you suddenly realize you’re all alone. Especially at night, you feel incredibly lonely and helpless. At these times, you wish there was someone to help you leave this world with dignity.”
“Among those elderly people, some had lost hope in life, some were plagued by serious illnesses, and some had lost faith in life. I’ve verified this repeatedly.”
Yu Yan was still young; he couldn’t truly understand this feeling. But listening to the elderly woman’s words, he felt a sense of sorrow.
In his studies of psychology, he knew about a condition called geriatric depression. It was different from the depression experienced by young people, but it could also crush a person.
When a young person dies, it brings regret. However, when someone almost reaches a century of age and passes away, it’s hard to pass judgment.
Perhaps if children visited more often or if society paid more attention, these elderly people wouldn’t choose this path.
Yu Yan could understand and respect this choice. However, they had crossed the boundaries of the law. He continued to inquire, “So you found Xu Zhaoran?”
Yu Ran nodded. “Initially, we only discovered that one elderly person suddenly died under suspicious circumstances. Later, I went to her and told her I didn’t want to report her. Instead, I wanted her help. That’s when she slowly confessed the truth. So, many things were done by me and the deceased, pleading with her to assist us.”
A symbiotic relationship had formed between the serial killer and the elderly.
Yu Yan asked again, “I noticed that there’s a missing ring among Zhou Bingyi’s belongings.”
Yu Ran nodded slightly. “When Xu Zhaoran dealt with them, aside from money, she would take away an item as well…”
Xu Zhaoran satisfied her own desires by killing those people, and those elderly people departed from this world because of her.
Yu Ran finally confessed to all the criminal facts.
After coming out of the interrogation room, Yu Yan was met with Captain Li’s excitement. “Team Leader Yu, your insights are incredible, almost like a detective. Fantastic! Now that we have a confession, we can issue a wanted notice for Xu Zhaoran.”
With progress in the case, Yu Yan felt relieved. He looked around and didn’t find Yao Fei, so he asked Captain Li, “Where’s Yao Fei?”
Captain Li replied, “Seems like Deputy Director Jin called him.”
Yu Yan frowned, “When did this happen?”
Captain Li pondered, “Just a few minutes ago.”
Realizing that something might be going wrong, Yu Yan quickly left and took the elevator.
On the eighth floor, Yu Yan hurriedly messaged Director Tan on WeChat, updating him on the recent progress of the case and mentioning the current situation.
Outside Deputy Director Jin’s office, Yu Yan heard a questioning voice from inside, “Tell me, is that account yours?!”
He took a deep breath and entered, greeting, “Deputy Director Jin.”
Yu Yan glanced at the infuriated Deputy Director Jin, then at Yao Fei. Inside the office, Yao Fei was rolling his eyes and looking exasperated.
Deputy Director Jin furrowed his brow, “Xiao Yu, I was just about to find you. Look at this subordinate of yours – what nonsense has he been up to? I caught him red-handed, yet he’s still so defiant.”
Yu Yan nodded and bowed, “Deputy Director Jin, please don’t be angry. The account is indeed his, and I also learned about the recent events a few days ago. It’s all because of this mischievous kid.”
Seeing Yu Yan’s placating attitude, Deputy Director Jin agreed, “So you also think it’s just mischief? Today he dares to challenge me; tomorrow it might be another leader. In future operations, who knows what problems might arise.”
Yu Yan nodded, “I believe we can’t let this matter slide like this. He needs some form of punishment to learn his lesson.”
The two quickly found common ground.
Before Yao Fei had confessed, he got hit with criticism from his teacher. Now, Deputy Director Jin was adding his input. Yao Fei turned to Yu Yan with a puzzled expression, then lowered his head.
“That’s right! We can’t let it slide!” Deputy Director Jin nodded and hummed, tapping his fingers on the desk. “This matter is causing a terrible impact. It’s not just about me; it concerns the image of the police force… Defying superiors, disregarding discipline – this must be addressed! And with a heavy punishment.”
As Yu Yan reached this point, he changed his tone, “However, Deputy Director Jin, I’m really sorry about that photo. I sent it to him before. As his direct supervisor, I should bear the main responsibility in this matter. Deputy Director Jin, you see, would you like to issue a reprimand or deduct his salary… or should I write a self-criticism report explaining the situation?”
Yu Yan maintained a pleasant demeanor and a cooperative attitude, letting Deputy Director Jin feel like he had the upper hand. However, his words were actually pushing Deputy Director Jin into a corner, each sentence sharp and pointed.
Deputy Director Jin finally realized that this teacher-student pair was deliberately putting him in an awkward position.
But Yu Yan’s words were like two fingers lightly pressing on his sensitive spot, leaving him unsure where to vent his anger.
After a pause, Deputy Director Jin said, “It’s not that serious. He just needs to acknowledge his mistake to me. He won’t challenge me next time.”
Yu Yan selectively understood and skipped the step of acknowledging the mistake. Instead, he nudged Yao Fei with his heel, “Deputy Director Jin is a magnanimous person. You should thank him.”
Yao Fei understood Yu Yan’s intention by now and quickly complied, “Thank you, Deputy Director Jin.”
Feeling he had lost a bit of face, Deputy Director Jin wanted to say more, but Director Tan rushed in, “Ah, Team Leader Yu, I’ve been looking for you everywhere. I heard this case has made progress again – caught another major criminal? That’s a significant achievement.”
He turned to Deputy Director Jin, who had turned into a pufferfish out of annoyance, “Hmph, are you discussing official business here?”
Deputy Director Jin’s expression changed a bit, and he managed to reply, “We just finished discussing.”
Director Tan said, “Good then. Xiao Yu, come to my office.”
In the corridor, after walking a few steps, Director Tan turned to Yu Yan, then to Yao Fei, and finally fixed his gaze on Yu Yan, “You, always defending your little protégé.”
Yu Yan responded, “Thank you, Director Tan.”
Director Tan said, “No need to thank me. You’ve done well with the case. Let’s go to my office and discuss the follow-up arrangements for your department.”
In a hurry, Yu Yan pulled Yao Fei away from the higher-ups, allowing him to return on his own. He then spent the rest of the afternoon in a meeting with Director Tan.
It was only when it was time to leave in the evening that he realized how hungry he was. He had been busy all day and even missed lunch.
Meanwhile, good news came from the Criminal Investigation Division. They had caught Xu Zhaoran and were starting the interrogation.
Soon, Xu Zhaoran confessed as well.
With a major case on the verge of being solved, everyone in the Criminal Investigation Division was in high spirits.
Walking down the corridor, people greeted Yu Yan.
Upon entering the Criminal Investigation Division’s office, Yu Yan smelled the aroma of barbecue.
Captain Li handed him a bunch of lamb skewers, saying, “Team Leader Yu, you’re the hero of this case. Without you, I would’ve been in a pit this time. We’ve cracked a major case now, and there might be a bonus coming up. On behalf of the whole team, thank you.”
Yu Yan took the skewers and responded, “No problem. It’s expected. Since you applied for the Behavioral Analysis Unit’s involvement, everyone needs to cooperate.”
He chatted with them for a while and then asked Captain Li, “Where’s Yao Fei?”
A few officers exchanged glances and one of them said, “He seems to be on the rooftop.”
Yu Yan inquired, “What’s he doing there?”
Captain Li answered, “He seems to like it.”
Yu Yan nodded and said, “If you’re treating, then it’s fine. I’ll take a few for Yao Fei.”
Captain Li agreed, “Sure, help yourself. Thanks to you and your protégé, this case was cracked. You’ve both worked hard.”
With a few skewers in hand, Yu Yan went to the rooftop.
He found Yao Fei sitting on a platform alone. There were a few beer cans beside him, some empty and others still full.
It was winter now, and a cold wind blew on the rooftop. Although it was chilly, the view and the air were refreshing.
In the city, darkness stretched out, and the lit street lamps looked like scattered stars. The vehicles formed a long queue on the road.
The night scene was stunning.
Yu Yan walked over, handing the skewers to Yao Fei. “The Criminal Investigation Division is treating.”
Yao Fei snorted but turned to look at him. The night wind ruffled his hair, and his peach blossom eyes squinted slightly. “Teacher, your paper stomach won’t handle cold drinks. These are too cold.”
Yu Yan chuckled, took a sip, and retorted, “I’m not that delicate. Why, you care if I have one?”
Yao Fei fell silent for a moment, then spoke up, “No, it’s enough. If not, I can go buy more.”
Yu Yan smiled and took another sip. “I’m not that fragile. But why are you suddenly concerned about me having a cold stomach after just one can?”
Yao Fei turned his head and looked at him, his words carrying a tinge of teasing, “Teacher, you only have one stomach, and I’m your responsibility.”
This banter was like a gentle breeze, bringing warmth to the cold rooftop.
On the rooftop, Yu Yan looked at the scenery for a while, sipping beer, and asked Yao Fei, “By the way, there’s something I want to ask you. I remember you had good grades in English. Have you ever tutored before?”
Yao Fei replied, “I have, but it was for earning money. I did it with a forced attitude.” He had tutored a few students, and they all ended up with good English scores in their college entrance exams.
Yu Yan said, “That’s enough. I have a nephew who will be taking the college entrance exam next year.”
Yao Fei was a bit surprised, “Teacher, aren’t you afraid I’ll mislead him or have a negative influence on him?”
Yu Yan shook his head, “No, my nephew is quite clever. He’s a troublemaker. If you introduce him to a gentle college girl, she won’t be able to control him.”
Yao Fei pondered for a moment, then said, “Alright, but I can’t do it right now. If you’re in a hurry, you can find someone else. I live quite far away, and I’ve already paid the rent until after the New Year. Once I move, I can consider this.”
His daily commute already took an hour, and with his demanding police work, he couldn’t stably take up tutoring.
Yu Yan playfully complained about his initial choice of living arrangements, “Who asked you to find a place so far away? And you didn’t even discuss it with me. By the time I asked you, you said you’ve already rented it and paid the money.”
Yao Fei admitted honestly, “At that time, I was new here and unfamiliar with the area. I just wanted to find a cheap place.” He looked at his toes, the alcohol getting to him a bit, and added quietly, “I didn’t want to bother you.”
From his school days to later work, he had troubled Yu Yan countless times.
Yu Yan’s tone remained gentle, “It’s not a bother. The housing prices in our neighborhood aren’t high, and it’s close to here. Quite affordable, actually.”
Yao Fei’s mind stirred, “Teacher, do you want me to live closer to you?”
Yu Yan denied it, “I just think that as colleagues in the same department, we should look out for each other.”
After a moment of silence, Yao Fei continued, “Teacher, when I enrolled in that school, it was because of the subsidies and affordable tuition. Now I feel like I’m not suited for being a police officer. I can’t tolerate a lot of things and the reality of the job is different from what I imagined.”
Yu Yan took a sip of his drink and looked at him, “I know, but I don’t think you’re unsuited for being a police officer. You just need some time to adapt to certain rules.”
He knew Yao Fei was trying his best, but he was always out of sync with his environment. He imagined that Yao Fei was going through quite a difficult time.
Yao Fei asked, “Teacher, why can you get along with all those people?”
In his eyes, many people in this world were truly hard to understand.
Some were too foolish, some too naive, some too green, and some just had ill intentions.
Truly good and smart people were rare.
Yet Yu Yan managed to get along with them peacefully, and everyone would say that Yu Yan was a good person.
Yu Yan looked gentle and mild, knew when to compromise, but was also persistent in accomplishing what needed to be done.
Yu Yan said, “But that’s life. It’s not just about being a police officer; it’s true for any profession. When you’re a child, you interact with classmates and teachers. When you grow up, you deal with bosses and colleagues. Do you remember what I told you when you first joined here?”
Yao Fei nodded, “Talk less, do more.”
Yu Yan said, “You need to know when to be soft, when to be firm. Learn to act clueless, balance various relationships. This is what adult life is like, and it’s the price you have to pay to move forward. The world isn’t just black and white; there’s a lot of gray. While we have laws to follow, most things in the world can’t be easily categorized as right or wrong. Don’t let conflicts with others trouble you. Wasn’t it fine when you were working?”
Yao Fei said, “It’s different. When I was in school, I could avoid classmates I didn’t like, and I knew there would be graduation eventually. When I’m working, if I’m unhappy, I can quit and find another job. As long as I’m willing to endure hardships, I can earn money.”
Yu Yan turned to look at Yao Fei. He remembered the first time he saw Yao Fei – it was when Yao Fei had just entered university. At that time, Yu Yan had some spare money and a heart full of passion. He told the school’s teachers he wanted to sponsor financially challenged students.
The teachers connected him with a few students, and Yu Yan helped pay their tuition.
He had met them once at school, in the office. He remembered the tall boy with peach blossom eyes.
Afterwards, Yao Fei followed him out, “Teacher, you didn’t tell me your name.”
Yu Yan told him, “I’m Yu Yan.”
Yao Fei asked, “Can I follow you in the future?”
Yu Yan smiled, “I’m studying criminal psychology, doing administrative work. You’re studying criminal investigation, our expertise is a bit different.”
Yao Fei said, “That’s alright, I can learn.”
At that time, Yao Fei still seemed like a child to him.
He would pay attention to those students, and among them, Yao Fei had the best grades, though his teachers said he was a bit of a loner.
Yu Yan admitted that he did favor Yao Fei a bit. He had bought him books a few times, daily necessities, and even slipped him pocket money.
He had given Yao Fei exams related to criminal psychology, and his answers were often better than those of the students majoring in that field.
Four years later, he wanted to bring Yao Fei to work with him. He arranged a meeting, but Yao Fei took out a bag with tens of thousands of yuan inside, saying, “Thank you, Teacher. Here’s the money back.”
He was surprised then, learning that Yao Fei had worked throughout all four years of his college vacations to save money.
Yao Fei was hardworking, taking on just about any odd job.
Yu Yan said, “I didn’t expect you to return the money. You can keep it for yourself. I supported you financially back then to ensure you could complete your studies.”
Yao Fei said, “But, Teacher, just thinking about owing this money keeps me up at night. I can’t stand up straight. Consider it my donation; you can use this money to help others who need it more.”
He had watched Yao Fei grow up step by step.
It felt like he was his younger brother.
Yu Yan took another sip of his drink, wanting to comfort Yao Fei, “Yao Fei, you have a unique way of thinking about problems. This is very remarkable. You can fill in the gaps in others’ thinking and discover the truth faster. I know you might appear careless and make people worry about you, wondering if you have any ulterior motives. But I know that deep down, you’re a good person. Your eyes can’t tolerate deceit, and your heart is purer than most.”
Upon hearing his last words, Yao Fei suddenly felt his eyes welling up. He quickly wiped the corner of his eye with the back of his hand.
Many misunderstood him, but his teacher understood him, and that was enough.
Yu Yan continued, “So, don’t always butt heads with the world. Sometimes, go with the flow, let things happen naturally. When you’re unsure about something, come to me. I’ll help you handle it.”
Yao Fei’s face stiffened upon hearing this, his expression like that of a dog whose fur stood on end. “Teacher, I’m not as good as you say, and I don’t need you to keep protecting me all the time.” He paused, then, fueled by the alcohol, added, “Has anyone ever told you that you’re so verbose, like Tang Seng?”
Yu Yan was taken aback for a moment, then put down his beer and said, “Perhaps. As you get older, you tend to become verbose and worry about things needlessly.”
Yao Fei said, “Lately, you’ve been working overtime, either on cases or dealing with the establishment of the department…”
Yu Yan said, “Yes, other departments will be moving out soon, leaving this building entirely to us. After the New Year, when others come in, I might still be busy for a while.”
Yao Fei said, “Teacher, why do you always have to do things yourself? How much energy do you have? Can you grow extra arms? Do you think you can keep flying around like this, protecting everyone underneath?”
Yao Fei didn’t understand why Yu Yan always put himself last. This person was almost too saintly. He didn’t need Yu Yan to treat him so well, like a child in need of care. He hoped to be treated as an equal, to clean up his own messes. He didn’t want Yu Yan to sacrifice his time for others, wanted to help him, share the burden.
But he felt his words were clumsy, that they came out all wrong.
He even wished that Yu Yan could be a bit harsher, a bit more selfish, so he wouldn’t feel so apologetic toward him, so fond of him.
Like now, just the thought that soon this teacher wouldn’t belong to him alone, that he would have a whole department to care for equally, made him feel sad.
Yu Yan smiled. He seemed to finally understand why this little dog was here drinking beer today, barking at him. He reached out and ruffled Yao Fei’s hair.
“Alright, then help me out. Regardless of the future, no matter how many people are in this department, you’ll be my only disciple.”
Yao Fei felt his eyes getting moist again. It must be the effect of the alcohol. He lowered his head, glanced at the beer beside him, then quickly picked it up and took a sip.
Yu Yan said, “That can is mine.”
Yao Fei widened his eyes, choked on the sip of beer in his mouth, not sure if he should continue drinking or give it back to Yu Yan.
Yu Yan laughed and said, “I’ve had enough. Don’t mind it.” Then he asked Yao Fei, “Why did you want to become a police officer?”
Yao Fei thought for a moment and said, “When I was a child, my dad passed away early. There were always people harassing my mom, bullying us orphans and widows. When I was ten, one day after school, all my classmates were picked up except me. The entire school building was dark, and my mom didn’t come to pick me up.”
To this day, he still remembered the feeling of sitting alone on the stairs, waiting to be picked up.
The night was as cold as today, but there was no light back then.
Just darkness, as if hiding monsters that would devour him.
He felt like the whole world had abandoned him.
Yao Fei paused and continued, “I walked home alone for nearly an hour. When I arrived, I saw that someone had splashed paint on the door and left a knife stuck in it. My mom was crying at home. When she saw me, she hugged me and cried. At that moment, I suddenly wanted to become a police officer and catch all those bad people.”
Yu Yan knew that Yao Fei’s family situation wasn’t great, but he hadn’t imagined it was this dire. He looked at him, his gaze becoming incredibly gentle.
He felt that Yao Fei’s misadventures were like those of a child seeking attention. Suddenly, they became forgivable.
Yao Fei was sulking, lacking a sense of security, wanting candy.
But he was too stubborn.
A crying child gets milk. Yao Fei’s personality would only lead him to be pricked by thorns, bleeding all over, then he would return to his nest to lick his wounds.
Thinking this, he extended his hand and touched Yao Fei’s head.
Yao Fei remained quiet for a moment and asked Yu Yan, “And you, Teacher?”
Yu Yan said, “When I was a child, there was a math teacher at my school who taught me and treated me kindly. The one who killed her was a fugitive, someone who had fled to our area and had no place to stay. The teacher found him sleeping on a bench one night, mistook him for a homeless person, and gave him an old blanket. That’s how he got fixated on her.”
He sighed at this point, “I thought if we had caught that criminal earlier, the tragedy wouldn’t have happened. So, I became a police officer later on.”
Then Yu Yan continued, “Although I studied psychology, I’ve always believed that people have souls. If someone dies in an unnoticed corner, their soul won’t find solace. Only when someone discovers the truth of their death, clears their name, can their soul rest. I think there might be reincarnation; the soul can rest, and then be reborn without any attachments.”
As Yu Yan spoke, he tilted his head back, gazing at the stars in the sky while the moonlight fell on his face.
For a moment, Yao Fei remembered the previous power outage.
He turned sideways and reached out to hug Yu Yan.
Yu Yan was taken aback, patted his back gently, and said, “You’ve had too much to drink.”
“Stay still.” Yao Fei’s tone suddenly changed, sounding a bit stern, not allowing any objections, and even a bit fierce.
Yu Yan hesitated for a moment but didn’t push him away.
Having had some cold beer, he suddenly felt the cold. Combined with the effects of alcohol, his body trembled slightly.
Being held by Yao Fei felt warm and made him a bit drowsy.
At this moment, Yu Yan finally realized that the boy he knew was now a grown man. His shoulders were broad and solid, providing a sense of security.
Yao Fei held him for a while, and neither of them spoke.
Finally, Yao Fei spoke first, “Teacher, I’ve been trying to quit smoking recently, but I really want a cigarette. You smell really good.” He paused for a moment, “When I smell that scent, I don’t want to smoke anymore.”
The person before him seemed like his addiction, accumulating over time, forming a habit that he craved.
Yu Yan leaned down and sniffed, not detecting any particular scent on himself. Instead, he noticed a faint hint of mint on Yao Fei.
Feeling a little too tightly held, he said again, “You’ve had too much to drink, and it’s a bit cold here. Don’t catch a cold. Let’s go back.”
Yao Fei, fueled by the alcohol, was a bit reluctant, like a dog afraid of being abandoned by its owner. He snuggled against Yu Yan and said, “Teacher, don’t leave me alone.”
Yu Yan patted him, exclaiming, “What nonsense are you saying? Where could I go?”
Yao Fei released him then and sniffled. He obediently looked down and began collecting the empty cans one by one into a plastic bag.
Only the can Yu Yan had drunk from was left outside, in the pocket of his coat.
He wanted to keep that can, to hold onto it.
The next day, Yu Yan received a call from Su Hui requesting to participate in the interrogation of Xu Zhaoran. After spending the night considering it, he had decided to join the team in Huadu.
Yu Yan smiled, “Great, welcome to join us.”
Good news came one after another.
Yu Yan looked up. The courtyard of the General Bureau was filled with brilliant winter sunshine. There were a few wintersweet plants in the courtyard, their flower buds about to bloom.
In just over a month, it will be the Lunar New Year.
Shelley said, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
With spring’s warmth, everything would get better.
This side story has come to an end, and it’s a bit hard to part with.
Initially, I wanted to include these contents in the main story, but I felt it would weaken the protagonist and change the overall structure.
But without writing many details, Yao Fei’s yearning for him and everyone’s affection for him would lack a reason. So, I decided to create this separate side story.
His life has some regrets.
At this moment, he didn’t know that he only had a few dozen days left to live.
He didn’t know that Su Hui was coming back, while he wouldn’t be here anymore.
This part doesn’t depict their final farewell, hoping for a mournful yet gentle tone.
Teacher Yu Yan is my “White Moonlight,” a character I really like.
However, in reality, many excellent police officers have also made sacrifices.
So, we should abhor and condemn evil. Any form of crime should never be tolerated.
In reality, there are many people like Yu Yan, striving to make the world a better place.
In some parallel time and space, he might have survived, perhaps even lived a good life with Yao Fei.
In short, starting from tomorrow, things will get sweet~