Title: Fighting the wild goose all day long, one will inevitably be blinded by the goose
Source: Journey to the West – Borrowing the Palm-Leaf Fan: Sun Wu Kong was the cleverest in the world and had killed many monsters, but the Bull Demon King deceived him; it was indeed a silly moment
Meaning:: a metaphor for people who have made mistakes; used to refer to overconfidence and negligence to make mistakes that should not be committed.
Jiang Xiaoning awoke during the surgical operation and the first thing he felt was that his shoulder was being torn. He only yelled out in pain once and then enduringly grounded his teeth. Once the shrapnel was taken out and the bandage tightly fastened, he was already soaked in cold sweat.
By the time the nurse pushed him from the operating room to the ward, he had yet to relax when he saw that someone was already waiting inside for him.
This person had a slender stature, fair features, and appeared to be refined in a manner like a normal white-collar worker. The second Jiang Xiaoning saw him, he sighed and felt that the wound was a hundred times more painful than before.
This person was Shixiong, Xin Muran. When he acted as an undercover agent at Sun Zeyu’s side, Wu Qinghua had arranged for Xin Muran to look after him. The two of them had even lived together for a while. When it came to his own work and taking care of his shidi, Xin Muran did both flawlessly – Jiang Xiaoning feared and respected him to a degree. However, Xin Muran was hard to get close to. On the one hand, he always showed an arrogant attitude of “I know all the information. I know everyone’s secrets” while on the other hand, he showed an abnormally close relationship for work.
This time, he nearly messed up the mission – he didn’t know what kind of price he would be met with now.
However, Xin Muran remained calm and collected and did not look at him at all. Only after the doctor and nurse helped him settle in and left one after the other did he finally look at Jiang Xiaoning and coldly said, “When you go out, don’t say that I brought you out. I can’t afford such disgrace.”
Jiang Xiaoning quickly explained, “Shixiong, you must have been the one to not allow them to give me anesthesia. I’m really hurt here and you’re venting your anger? This time, I’ve indeed met with an unexpected failure… I didn’t expect the opposite side—”
“Didn’t expect?” Xin Muran interrupted him gloomily. “This mission was in another part of the country where you’re unfamiliar with, you must wait for reinforcement. How many times have I said this? You didn’t say anything and operated without waiting for reinforcement. Alex was obviously following closely behind you, why did you take off on him?”
“I can resolve it myself,” Jiang Xiaoning answered. “Besides, I’ve also got the goods…”
“And then you lost it and only got it back after taking a shot,” Xin Muran cut in – his specialty was to track and infiltrate. He normally was an expert in concealing his emotions, but this situation had evidently made him angry as knives were seemingly shooting out of his eyes. “Don’t think that just because you were ultimately able to seize and return with the goods means that I will let you go. You were lucky to have narrowly escaped death. If that bullet had strayed just a bit more, you deserved it if you died, but implicating Alex and I, how are you going to compensate?”
Jiang Xiaoning was brimming with stubbornness. He frowned and said, “In any case, I completed the mission anyways even if I got shot, I can pay for it myself. I have not caused any damage.”
The knives in Xin Muran’s eyes sharpened even more. He looked at Jiang Xiaoning with a blank expression while the corners of his lips exposed a smile that was there yet not there.
When Jiang Xiaoning saw him smile, his chest couldn’t help but shake involuntarily.
“Jiang Xiaoning,” Xin Muran said monotonously, “Do you really think that you can hide anything from me?”
Jiang Xiaoning did not dare to cut in. Xin Muran looked at him condescendingly with a hint of disdain in his expression. “You’ve obtained the goods yet you remained and did not leave. Aren’t you just taking the opportunity to get some information about Luo Dong? You got rid of Alex before, wasn’t it because you were afraid he would stop you?”
Jiang Xiaoning turned away without speaking. Xin Muran’s ice-cold voice passed by his ear, “When Lu Wu died, Luo Dong was already not amounting to anything and once Sun Zeyu was dismissed, we had uprooted him until there was nothing. We had even caught him and had him throw in the prison of the other province and made him so alone that it is utterly impossible for him to rebel ever again. Yet now, you are searching for his information during a mission, allowing others the opportunity to kill you and almost causing the mission to fail. Jiang Xiaoning, do you really think that I won’t sort you out?”
Jiang Xiaoning was speechless for a moment, but then, as if he was making up his mind, he looked up at Xin Muran and also sneered. “Haven’t you ‘sort me out’ long ago? If you haven’t always been hiding information from me, why would I need to search for myself?”
Xin Muran’s complexion darkened even more, “What am I hiding from you?”
Jiang Xiaoning stared straight into his eyes. “When Han Jia and Xiao Li left back then, they took away three people and since they were being watched attentively by various parties, I was entrusted to tidy their documents and other things. Otherwise, how would Wu Juzhang know of me – an insignificant nobody.” He paused, unsure of whether his complex turned pale because of the surgery or because he thought of the past. “He invited me to become a member, suggesting that once I bring down Sun Zeyu, Han Jia would come back. I agreed. Xin Shixiong, since you guys used him as a reason for me to do things for you, you certainly wouldn’t let me know about his matter.”
Xin Muran remained unmoved, “Watch your words. If you don’t quit one day, there is no ‘you’, there is only ‘we’.” He looked down at Jiang Xiaoning, “I don’t care what you and Wu Juzhang said. That has nothing to do with me. As for the matter regarding Han Jia, I indeed know of them, but I am not obligated to tell you and you don’t have the right to use my intelligence network for your own personal matter.” At this point, he appeared angrier and his face was like the black clouds densely covering the sky. “My informers haven’t been working arduously for years for your personal use!”
Jiang Xiaoning paused and said, “That is not considered ‘your’ intelligence network – it’s ‘ours’. Why can’t I use them?”
Xin Muran thought that it was not worth it to counterattack his words; he only smiled coldly without answering.
Once Jiang Xiaoning’s anger arose, it was difficult to calm him down. He continued to accuse, “And is it only me that uses them for personal matters? Alex has used it, A-Dong has also used it, why can’t I? Lao Si practically uses the police database to settle his own personal matters every day, how come you’ve never cared?”
“Because only you are stupid.” Xin Muran didn’t even want to answer.
Jiang Xiaoning stopped and Xin Muran continued, “Has Alex been injured because of personal matters? Has A-Dong allowed it to affect his work? Has Lao Si stirred up trouble? Jiang Xiaoning, you don’t even have the ability to deal with your work and you want to deal with your personal matters?” He laughed coldly, “It’s nothing more than just chasing after a man yet you caused such a huge problem. At first, the situation with Yu Xiujun was easy to handle – you just had to go and seduce her, took her to see Han Jia and complicated everything, but what is the result? Is he jealous?” He looked at Jiang Xiaoning’s face that had become unsightly and then shifted his gaze elsewhere. His voice remained icy, “Ordinarily, you are considered to be worthy of Wu Juzhang’s training, but when met with this kind of matter, everything becomes ruined.”
It’s better than some cowards, fancying someone but not daring to say anything about it – only daring to mess with them behind their back. Jiang Xiaoning thought in a complicated manner and said rudely, “It has nothing to do with you.”
Xin Muran glared at him and coldly added, “Pay for the medical expenses yourself. You have three days of rest, starting from tomorrow.”
Looking as though he was too lazy to talk to him after that, he turned and left, disappearing from the door.
Jiang Xiaoning’s feelings became even more complicated. He had already booked a train ticket for the following day – going to where Han Jia was and returning just happened to take three days.
He was not surprised at how clear Xin Muran was about his trip. He knew that if necessary, Xin Muran would recite the number on his train ticket.
Thinking to this point, he was suddenly hoisted with a tempering thought, reckoning that Xin Muran had already left the hospital, he got up and off the bed.
He guessed that when his wound was being treated, his T-shirt must have been scrapped – Jiang Xiaoning could only find his own jacket. Fortunately, his money and cellphone were both in his jacket. With that, he immediately draped on his jacket and walked all the way out of the hospital.
As soon as he got out, he quickly flagged down a taxi and made a beeline to the long-distance station.
Naturally, the long-distance coach buses were not as comfortable as the air-conditioned train, but there were more available.
Once he got on the bus, he slowly felt the sharp throbbing pain from his wound. He found a seat by the window to protect his wounded left shoulder, then closed his eyes and rested.
The conversation with Xin Muran returned to his mind before more and more past events emerged.
He remembered how he crazily searched everywhere for Han Jia back then only to suddenly received a call from him one day, asking him to help him tidy his things. He was utterly excited with the expectation of trying to do his best of what was entrusted to him – how was he to know that he was merely preparing a suitcase for him to leave him…
He remembered Wu Qinghua’s pitiful eyes as he said, “Han Jia? I don’t know where he went. But if the criminal gangs in the city were to be purged, who knows, he may just return. Do you want to help out?”
He remembered the days he approached Sun Zeyu and worked hard to become his trusted aide – the traps were laid out step by step while the net slowly scattered. He thought that he had netted someone else only to discover he himself had also immersed in it. At that time, Wu Qinghua barely contacted him directly and Xin Shixiong was cold and had often looked at him with strange eyes and the nicer Zhang Shijie was to him, the sadder he felt.
He remembered how he missed Han Jia in those days. How much he loved Han Jia in those days, and how much he hated him after Sun Zeyu fell. He sincerely thought that Han Jia only left because of the danger. He sincerely thought he would come back – thinking that he would come back after he wiped out all the dangers for him. But he didn’t.
He remembered his life now. To bring down Sun Zeyu, they had done many illegal things, and they had to retrain fear on his remaining party system. They had to be weaved into a sector of Wu Qinghua’s Ministry of Public Security department, acting as his outside subordinates and sometimes doing other businesses. That was not the life he really liked, but he didn’t know what else he could do.
He remembered the partners who always wore those wary and cautious expressions and Xin Shixiong’s questioning and stern criticisms. He remembered how he found life so busy and empty, how to buy intoxicating drinks and cry bitterly when his birthday arrived, remembered how he made up his mind to find Han Jia and remembered his inner struggle when he looked for him.
What could he do? He was originally a boy full of anger and resentment. Han Jia loved him and taught him how to be loved, but he had abandoned him before he had the time to teach him how to remedy a separation. He could no longer move forward. He must find Han Jia, have a conclusion with him – only then could he move on, and perhaps, fall in love with someone else.
He remembered the love and hate that he could not control after seeing him again, remembered Han Jia’s refusal, Han Jia’s ruthlessness, Han Jia’s gunshot wounds and all the doubts in the past. He remembered that he had admitted to himself that he could not let go of Han Jia.
Han Jia looked different from five years ago. So what? He was no longer the ignorant Jiang Xiaoning. No matter how much time had changed, no matter what kind of ups and downs of life they had or will have, he still didn’t want to let go. Somewhere in his heart, he had long given it all to Han Jia.
Thinking in this way, the pain on Jiang Xiaoning’s shoulder was slowly alleviated. He closed his eyes to preserve his strength, feeling that his spirit had become much better.
After he got off the long-distance bus, he got on two additional buses and then ate an unexpectedly delicious meal. Later on, reluctant to squeeze onto another bus that could put more pressure on his injury, he held up a sign to attract any unlicensed vehicle and mentioned the address to Han Jia’s school.
The place was rather remote, and the price agreed by Jiang Xiaoning and the driver was absolutely astonishing. The driver was very satisfied with this outrageous price, so much so that he eagerly agreed to Jiang Xiaoning’s request. He ran around left and right to borrow as many cushions as possible to make the car compartment extremely comfortable.
Jiang Xiaoning got adequate rest in the comfortable compartment, and when he arrived at the destination, he practically seemed like a person who was not injured.
He got out of the car and said goodbye to the driver cheerfully before heading out toward Han Jia’s residence under the dark sky.
Looking at the lights from afar, he smiled slightly. As he walked over, he wrinkled his clothes, made his shoes dirty, messed up his hair, and he thought for a moment and reached into his neckline and tore the bandage on the wound to a complete disorder.
Then he knocked on the door and adjusted his expression while waiting for Han Jia to come over – making himself appear exhausted, wan and sallow and also feeling unwell.
The porch lit up with a dim-yellow light before Han Jia opened the door and looked over. He leaned against the door silently and only looked at Han Jia’s eyes without speaking.
When those eyes suddenly flickered with perplexion, he sighed and muttered, sounding hoarse: “I’m injured. Let me sit for a moment, okay? I’ll only sit for a moment.”