Not many could resist earthly temptation.
Cause mortal life is fleeting,
For better for worse, thy heart is still beating.
As the years pass...
Their love...would it last?
Zhang Rounen’s Residence
“Professor Zhang,” Shen Wei tried to alert her, but not too loudly. “I want to let you know, we’ll be taking you to the hospital,” the Professor informed his half-conscious colleague. Withered as she was, he did not expect Zhang to open her eyes.
“No…please,” Elder Zhang protested weakly. Professor Shen was not sure if she still recognized him, but she was obviously aware of her dire situation. “Lea-Leave me here...”
“Why? You need medical attention,” Shen Wei insisted, leaning closer because he had trouble hearing her words as they were barely a whisper. Her voice, though unrecognizable, still held the distinctive timbre he knew well.
“I can’t...They’ll know….” Gasping for air, she choked out the painful words.
“You’re protecting a Dixing, the one who put you in this state,” the Wolf concluded tonelessly. Zhao Yunlan did not judge nor condemn, but Shen could have sworn he saw a glimpse of melancholy in his shadowed expression. “I’m sorry to say, you’re not the only one she harmed.”
“It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t mean to…” Zhang tried to rise, but all her strength quickly diminished. Falling back on her bed, the woman begged, “Please, don’t blame her…She wanted to save me...” Her rising anxiety had used up all her reserved energy, causing Zhang to return to unconsciousness.
He felt her power surge, attacking every cell at the micro-level. From RNA to DNA, attempting to extract its telomeres, but not all would-be-victims are made equal. Shen Wei had already anticipated such an attack from what he had gathered from Professor Zhang. Her attempt counter him was easily overpowered. For he, the untouchable one, would never be easily outdone by such green powers. Powers that should be kept in check.
Still squeezing her victim to absorb his life force, Wang’s triumphant smile was short-lived, when she elicited no reaction from the Professor. It took a second for her eyes to flicker. Shocked, the Dixing Girl growled, “What are you?”
Jaws tightened from Wang’s accusing tone, but Professor Shen did not have to reply when the man beside him called out, “Shen Wei!”
Wang Yike fell back, releasing her death grip as a result. Zhao had shot the arm that held Shen’s throat. He took a second shot, but she dodged this time. Covering the wound on her shoulder, her eyes grew with fury. Zhao didn’t waste time as he pulled Shen back, shielding the Professor with his body. The injured Dixing attempted to make her escape. However, the Wolf, who could shoot without even a second glance, sent double shots at either side of her feet -- causing the girl to jump and stop.
“Girl, if you value your own life, then don’t make this harder on yourself, or the next bullet will not be a warning shot,” the Wolf chastised darkly, his gun unwavering. With his attention fixed on Wang, Zhao asked the Professor, “Are you alright?”
Shen Wei stepped forward beside Zhao before he nodded in assurance. With a swift quick glance, a mutual understanding was reached. The men made their approach with caution. For the moment, they may have the upper hand, but the danger is still present.
Unlike prey who may freeze when cornered, a predator's first instinct is to fight, no matter how dire their situation may be. Especially when fear is not something they are accustomed to. Case in point, when Wang turned around to face her opponents, the hostility she exuded was evident. Any misstep would result in another battle if she became rattled.
Of course, that logic did not stop the Wolf from toying with his catch, who is not the type to go down without a fight.
“Now now, stop giving us that look like you’re about to do something stupid. I haven’t killed any Dixing for quite some time. Don’t tempt me to make you my first after such efforts to control my bloodlust, especially when I am trying to impress my mate here,” the Wolf quipped.
“You didn’t take kindly to ‘boyfriend’ before,” Zhao shrugged with a smirk. “I thought mate was a good compromise.”
“I am not your mate!”
“Lover then? Or Spouse?” Zhao suggested gleefully. “But either way, we should have a proper dinner. In fact, I know a great place with a view of the city... ”
“Never going to happen,” Shen resisted the urge to rolled his eyes.
“Never say never, Professor Shen,” the Wolf grinned, “Give me a chance to woo you properly after this case is over. How about tomorrow night? I’ll pick you up at 7?”
Shen Wei heaved a heavy sigh, feeling more exhausted than before. Questioning if he could ever tame this beast as he spoke, “Please stop this ridiculous dream of yours...”
“How can I, when you show up every night?” the brazen Wolf teased, his voice dropped into a husky tone, absorbed, entranced. Zhao Yunlan’s outlandish seduction continued. “More beautiful each time you appear, clothed in all forms. No matter the era, your allure remains. In fact, last night you were half-dressed, teary-eyed…”
“Would you two shut up!” Wang Yike snapped angrily.
While Zhao was nonchalant to her wrath, Shen was relieved for the interruption. Who knew how far this man’s wild imagination would take them if not for the timely outburst.
“It's a wonder how you managed to have a high body count,” the Wolf chuckled at the girl’s irritation. “For a dangerous Killer, you surely have a short fuse. Fortunately, your impatience is why you are caught. Killing another innocent man, just as we expected.”
“Innocent?” Wang sneered, “You believe this animal who assaults defenseless women doesn’t deserve what’s coming to him?”
“Innocent or not, you have no right to take their lives,” Professor Shen countered. “You hold no authority to be the judge or executioner. This is murder.”
“You’re coming back with us, my dear,” Zhao informed Wang with a tone that had grown lazy. “Don’t cause more trouble than you already have, and place your hands behind your back.”
“Why should I make this easy for you?” Wang shot back, her posture defensive.
“Don’t you want to see Professor Zhang?” Professor Shen asked. The girl paused at the knowledge, floored by his offer, but that too was short-lived, before she exploded in anger.
“You bastards! Where is she? If you hurt her... lay a hand on her, I’ll...”
“We never laid our hands on her. You did,” Zhao crucified. Blanched from the bitter truth, the wide-eyed Wang shook her head in denial, but the Wolf was not done with his condemnation. “And...you still haven’t stopped hurting her. Let me tell you, little girl. Do you think you are saving her? When you used the lives of others to extend her life? That was your blood, wasn’t it? You suck others dry to replenish what you lost?”
“What’s wrong with saving the one I love?” Wang cried. “I will give my life for her. I will take other lives for her. Jie Jie is worth tens, no, hundreds of lives if that is required!”
“Professor Zhang may be saved, but Wang, you used the blood of innocents for your means. There’s an old saying, a life for a life, not a life for dozens,” Shen Wei clarified. “In this world, everything is a fair trade, but you took your share and more. How she could live with the knowledge once it is revealed what you have done?”
“There were no other ways. Jie Jie will understand once she gets better...I-I did it for her,” the girl argued stubbornly.
“You believe she’ll understand you made her no better than a vampire?! Fuck it, in that case, she’s not a vampire, but more like a leech,” the Wolf sniggered at the thought. “You want to know where Professor Zhang is, then you come with us. Obediently. Resist...and I won’t guarantee you’ll see her again,” Zhao warned, the threat solid.
Stubborn she may be, but this was the end game. There was no argument on whether Zhao was bluffing. Her escape was futile. No matter the lives she took, Wang could never save the one she loves, yet, there were no tears or outbursts. Unusual for a girl like her, who reacted over the slightest provocation. Hand still pressed over her wounded shoulder, the girl slumped further in defeat.
“I’ll come with you....willingly,” her voice broke. Her reality may have crashed, but her will remained. Eyes determined. Dark, brooding, with a slight hint of revelation. Wang made her bargain, “But...but you have to let me see Jie Jie first.”
“Before we do that,” Zhao scoffed at her demands, “You have to tell us where you are keeping Qian. Or have you killed her already?”
Her face was stoic, unreadable. “She’s alive.”
“I won’t tell you where she is until you let me see Jie Jie.”
“What did you want with Li Qian? Why kidnap her?” Shen asked for answers to the nagging puzzle. They still hadn’t found the connection between the two girls, but they were certainly involved when both went missing on the same day. Zhao had confirmed it was Wang who had spied on her. They were not from the same social class, friends, or study group. Her other victims were all men.
“I have my reasons,” Wang evaded before giving her the ultimatum. “You will have all the answers after I speak with Jie Jie. Alone. I want to see her now.” To show her willingness, Wang turned about with her hands behind her back.
Wang’s insistence to see Professor Zhang was understandable given the measures she took to save the woman she loves. Most mortals seek a lifetime to find their other half. For some, they never have. But once one found their mate, there was nothing that could separate.
Seeing no further reason to refuse, Professor Shen stepped forward, but his arm was immediately held back.
“What are you doing?” Zhao asked what should be obvious to everyone present.
“I have the cuffs,” the Professor answered logically. What is the problem?
“I’ll do it,” he reached for the shackles, but Shen held it out of reach.
“Then, who is going to hold the gun?” the Professor raised his brows at the obvious.
Zhao Yunlan looked like he was about to say more, but restrained himself. With both hands on his gun, unusual for a man who rarely does so, Zhao finally focused on his target. The Wolf took the reigns, regarding Wang with a more sinister aura than before. “Touch him again, and the next bullet will be in your head.”
Professor Shen shook his head in amusement as he laid the cuffs on Wang. Removing his jacket, he covered her for extra precaution. The corner of his mouth tugged lightly, almost a smile if one is lucky enough to witness.
With Wang Yike safely under the Wolf and the Professor’s watch, Jing Lin and Da Qing were tasked to locate Qian based on her details. A little more than half an hour later, they came upon what looked like an abandoned building on the outskirts of Dragon City.
Lin Jing was more than happy today. Excited would be an understatement. The chance to rescue a damsel was hard to pass up, especially when his job was often times behind the scene. Rarely could he interact with suspects or witnesses, unless they were test subjects to be analyzed. Not to say he was happy with his position. The Special Investigating Department is one of those hidden departments, unknown to the world but with unlimited resources. From his research to creation, not many could have the resources to expand their passion as he did.
Still, there are a few things they lacked. If only SID had better access to wardrobe expense, like the Bonds, Mission Impossible, or better yet, the Kingsmen. With the finer things in life, he would have had a better chance to pick up a lady by now. Instead, Lin Jing had to use his own money to secure questionable experiments of his own, kinda like Dr. Algernop Krieger from Archer. This is all due to a few mishaps that left the lab barely intact on a few occasions too many. Since then, the Professor had curbed his spending.
Speaking of the Professor, their Boss was the only person who dressed like an old English spy. All the more reason why females were drawn to him like bees to honeypots. Lin Jing had lost count of the number of times women walked through him to greet his Boss. Literally, sidestepped around his body to greet the man of their dreams who shone brighter than the Garden of Babylon in the middle of a desert.
Enthusiasm aside, Jing wished he could say the same for his partner, who remained suspiciously quiet for the whole ride. Da Qing had never been the type who kept his feelings hidden. Crass to a fault, this Cat’s tongue was sharper than knives, reminding Jing of a retiree who no longer gives a damn when it comes to others' sensitivity. But that didn’t stop this Yashou from retaining all other feline traits. Such as curiosity, hypersensitivity, and currently distraction.
“We’re here,” Jing announced for the third time since they arrived. Still, no response from the distracted Cat. His spirit was elsewhere. “Da Qing? Da Qing!” Lin Jing shouted.
“What?” the Cat snapped back, his soul returned.
“We’re here,” Jing repeated as he left the car. “What’s wrong with you? You’re not yourself the past few days.”
“I-I feel like there’s someone following us,” the Cat explained, leaving the car as he followed suit.
Lin Jing shook his head in doubt, “We’ve been driving away from the city with only a few cars on the road. No one is tailing us.”
“Are you sure?” his eyes furrowed, obviously adding paranoia to his list of faults of late.
“Wang is in custody, with the two most powerful men in Dragon City. Why are you being anxious?” Jing scoffed at the cat.
“It’s not Wang…,” Da Qing sighed in frustration, but he did not elaborate further. Instead, the cat decided to focuse on the task at hand. “Let’s find Li Qian first,” he insisted.
Even though Lin Jing wanted to pry for curiosity sake, he was aware that a cat will only talk when he wants to. Feline is often that way, and besides...They shouldn’t delay rescuing a damsel in distress. Without the presence of the other two Gods, the sidekicks can finally have their day.
For once, the two chattering men were quiet as they explored the abandoned building.
Wang Yike was given a brief reprieve, alone, with Professor Rounen. She wanted to have her proper goodbyes, which neither could deny. As the two men stood outside the patient’s room, across wall to wall, their eyes met. Unspoken words thickened the air in the hallway. Yet, neither spoke or avoided the others' gaze. Zhao wanted to cross the threshold. He wanted to gather Shen Wei in his arms, but a barrier was present.
Once the door closed, the lone Wolf could barely hold back his emotions, or was it wrath? With each passing second, his fury was weighed down by this foreign feeling, from a man who should have no heart. A wave of anger began to build, slowly...steadily.
But why? Why does he feel this way? Is it because his partner has no self-preservation instinct? Or is he so noble to the point of idiocy?
Professor Shen bore no thought for his own life, Zhao had concluded. The man should be called the living monk of SID, since he practically lived as one. But not just live -- his actions, his words, detached from others. It was like Shen Wei was never part of this world. Zhao’s instinct had always been correct, but how did the Professor manage to hide himself for so long?
Whether the Professor wanted to or not, this Wolf was patient no more. Not another day or second. The days of hiding and avoiding were over, Zhao had decided.
As soon as that thought crossed his mind, the phone rang. Both their phones to be precise. Lin Jing was on Zhao’s line.
“We found Li Qian, but she is beside herself. She keeps speaking of her family Heirloom that Wang took from her.”
“Heirloom? Is she drugged?” It wouldn’t be a surprise for a kidnapped victim.
“I already checked, she’s fine,” Lin Jing assured, but Zhao could still hear the anxious voice of Qian in the background. “She said it’s a dangerous artifact, and we need to retrieve it from Wang right away,” Jing informed.
“What does it do?” the Wolf asked.
“I don’t know,” Lin Jing answered.
Zhao resisted the urge to clenched his jaw before he instructed, “Ask the lady beside you what this dangerous heirloom of hers does.”
By now, Shen Wei had concluded his phone with Da Qing, and approached Zhao who had turned on his phone speaker so the Professor could listen.
“It trades lives,” Li Qian told Lin Jing, who then repeated the answer.
“Trades lives? What does she mean by that?” Shen Wei asked.
“It exchanges lifeforce,” Li Qian shouted from the background.
“Lifeforce…,“ Zhao pondered that word for half a second before he reached the same conclusion as the man next to him.
Startled from the realization, they stormed into the room.
Chapter 5.5 "The General"
Chapter 7 "The Trade"
Author's Note: I'm so sorry for the long delayed! Gosh, I thought I'll have more time this month to post, but with all the planning for school, fixing my water leak, and now renovations for the house, I seem to lost track of time.
I also wanted to add, I am working on translations for SCI Mystery BL chapters, which many translators have either skimmed over or completely ignored. Hopefully, once my house finished with the major projects of remodeling, I can post those missing chapters as well.
Thanks, everyone for your support, and don't forget to comment! ~MiniOrchid