Title: Seemingly far away, but in reality, very close
Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
Before answering, Han Jia was quiet for a second or two.
Then he looked at Zhang Xueming and smiled coldly: “You did everything you could to stay in Jin Ting, but unfortunately, I’m not interested at all in the terms of exchange you’ve said just now.” His voice was also low and clear, “Make Ming-ge miserable? Why would I do that?”
Zhang Xueming had expected that he might say this and sneered: “Don’t tell me that in all these years of flattering him, you actually did it willingly?”
Han Jia seemed to find it quite interesting. He smiled and even rolled his eyes, “Zhang Xueming, such a rotten person as you also have a disgustingly naive side. Ming-ge gave me money, opportunities, and handed over Jin Ting to me… tell me, why should I be reluctant?”
“Since you are willing, why did you stand on Xiao Li’s side when he and Xiao Li competed for the Eastern Territory?”
“I have never heard of anyone in the gang ‘competing’ over anything with someone.” Han Jia crossed his arms and hugged his chest, “I’ve only heard that Ming-ge was confident and carefree, generous in spirit, and empathized with us small fries. Ming-ge himself was the one that gave the territory over to Xiao Li.”
Seeing him say this, Zhang Xueming was sure that he was obviously ready to tough it out ‘till the end. He had spent a whole year with Han Jia and had known Han Jia for a longer time, hence, he knew there was no other way to make him relent at this time.
He stared at Han Jia, sighed, cast aside the ice-cold expression of mockery, and took a step back before he solemnly said: “No matter how you put it, Han Laoban must be suspicious of me right?”
Han Jia seemed confused by his change and only watched him cautiously without speaking.
“Han Laoban is apprehensive, I can understand that,” Zhang Xueming said. “The person closest to you in the gang is Xiao Li. Even at his high rank, he still couldn’t help you take revenge against Yan Ming. I’m afraid that this small role of mine must be even harder to trust in.”
With a smile, he lowered his head and took out something from the inner pocket of his jacket and handed it to Han Jia: “I hope it will make you change your mind.”
Han Jia still held an expression of complete cautiousness. He looked down at the folder in Zhang Xueming’s hands and stared at the dazzling gold emblem on the cover for a while with a complicated look.
Zhang Xueming saw that he was slow to take it, so he opened the folder with a snap himself, and firmly said at the same time: “My real name is Xin Muran, an officer from the neighboring province. Two years ago, in June, in order to assist the unit in this city carry out an anti-triad operation, he became a subordinate of Yan Ming under the pseudonym Zhang Xueming. In December of the same year, he entered Jin Ting.”
Han Jia lowered his head a bit, concealed his eyes, and pondered for a long time. Xin Muran shook the document slightly and said, “You don’t want to check it?”
When Han Jia took a step back as if he had been frightened by his movements, and looked up like a stone sculpture, he stared at Xin Muran for a while. His voice did not fluctuate as he spoke: “What happened with ManLi’s daughter?”
Xin Muran withdrew the folder and smiled, “If you hadn’t intervened, I believe the police station in this city might have been thinking of how to properly place her.”
Han Jia frowned slightly: “That Mr. Liu…”
“My colleague,” Xin Muran admitted frankly. “He investigates the prostitution of minors, so he has more contact with the younger employers in Jin Ting.”
Han Jia continued: “So you and ManLi have no personal relationship?”
Xin Muran looked at him and finally decided to speak the truth: “We did. I have needs. She’s beautiful, and we both get what we need.” He thought about it and added, “And, it’s good for my investigation.”
Han Jia looked at him coldly: “How do you explain drugging me?”
“I thought you knew the reason.” Xin Muran looked at Han Jia with unabashed eyes, “I have always had de—sires for you.”
This kind of direct and despicable behaviour seemed to be more credible to Han Jia, who was not as cautious though his tone was prickly. “Officers also use this method to resolve their de—sires?”
“Don’t tell me you haven’t seen an even worse cop in Jin Ting before, Han Laoban?” Xin Muran replied, “At least I’m only here to deal with you in order to complete the mission.”
“Deal? What kind of deal is this?” Han Jia sneered. “You’re telling me this kind of thing, if I don’t cooperate with you, I’m afraid I’ll be eating prison meals, right? What choice do I have?”
Xin Muran glanced at him for a few moments and replied: “How can there be no other choice? Han Laoban, you can also agree overtly but oppose in secret then sell me to gangs to gain Li Shiqing’s trust. Maybe… this is exactly what you’re thinking?”
Han Jia’s expression remained unchanged as he looked directly at Xin Muran and said, “Since you put it like that, is there a way for me to give up this idea?”
“No, I have no way because it is you who makes the choice,” Xin Muran said indifferently. “As soon as I leave, you can call Li Shiqing, wait for him to figure out our arrangement, and once he comes up with a solution to deal with us, Han Laoban will naturally be the chief contributor.” He looked at Han Jia and smiled faintly, “I really want to know, what reward will Han Laoban get?”
Han Jia’s expression was riddled with apprehension.
Xin Muran laughed: “Wasn’t Li Shiqing’s sworn enemy, Luo Dong, in your hands for some time not too long ago? I drove you to see him every day for private meetings, watch you employ false displays of affections towards him, trick him for information, frame him… he fell out of power, and his venues were all divided amongst a group of gang leaders. Even trash like Zhou Yun benefited greatly, but Han Laoban, I didn’t see what reward you received.” He looked at Han Jia’s unsightly expression and intentionally waited for a while before he spoke again. “Han Laoban, you also know clearly that you can’t play with swords or mess with guns, after all, you’re still just an MB; being able to sit in such a position is already more than enough. Unless you can climb into Li Shiqing’s bed and seduce him ‘till he can’t distinguish north from south, how else are you going to get even with his dear nephew?” This time he laughed out loud lightly, “But Han Laoban, do you think you can do it?”
Han Jia frowned, stopped looking at him, and pondered for a moment before he turned away anxiously, and walked to the window before standing still.
Xin Muran’s eyes had followed Han Jia the entire time. He slowly walked behind Han Jia, who didn’t look back, and said flatly: “Jin Ting’s pimp, humph, although not decent, but still very well-regarded… perhaps I am very satisfied with my current position, perhaps I don’t want to take revenge on anyone…”
“Yeah, that’s good too.” Xin Muran whispered, “I just don’t understand why you never allowed drugs into Jin Ting. Why do you look hurt when you see ManLi? And also, what need is there for the picture that you had placed in that safe deposit box?”
Han Jia froze and smiled coldly: “You are really good at this.”
Xin Muran smiled: “Every time you see Yan Ming, you always have to look at that picture. I’m just curious, that’s all. Han Laoban, your forehead looks like your mother’s.”
“Shut up.” Han Jia stopped him in a low tone though there was a slight indistinguishable tremor in the voice.
“If I shut up, would these things cease to exist? Are you trying to deceive yourself, or do you want to deceive others?” Xin Muran stepped forward instead of shutting up and practically pressed up against Han Jia from behind; his lips also nearly touched Han Jia’s ear. Then he whispered, “I heard that those who sell drugs do not take drugs themselves. Han Laoban, say how despicable they are.”
Han Jia’s body trembled slightly, but Xin Muran remained unmoved, and even slowed down his voice: “They make those men and women become addicted to drugs, drain every penny from them, make them completely lose their dignities, force them to commit fraud, robbery, murder, turn toward prost—itution… I heard that there was a woman who sold her son to a drug dealer for a small bag of white powder. And when the drug dealer raped her son, she was right there, high on drugs… what happened to this woman later, do you know Han Laoban?”
Han Jia still did not speak, but the silence could not conceal the emotions that stirred – his body trembled like a leaf in the cold wind. He could barely stand still but didn’t want to lean against Xin Muran, so he propped his hand on the window for support.
“It is all the drug dealer’s fault,” Xin Muran continued in a persuasive tone. “Without the drug dealer, she would be a good mother, she would protect her son, and they would be very happy, wouldn’t they?”
Han Jia still didn’t make any sound. Xin Muran looked at his hand that pressed on the window – it was pale and in a desperate position, looking as if it wanted to simply embed into the glass. He remained silent for a while and whispered in Han Jia’s ear, “If I were to deal with this kind of drug dealer, I would get him addicted to drugs, drive him to the streets without any money… it would be better if someone else chased to kill him, dragged him to the end of his rope, and let him live a life that’s worse than death… that’s the only way to call it retribution.”
After he said that, he was answered with a long silence, so long that he almost thought he had lost it. With a slight frown, he reached over to capture Han Jia’s hand, but before he could speak again, Han Jia swung his hand away and broke free from his suppression.
“Han Laoban?” Xin Muran opened his mouth to say something more, but Han Jia had already stood firm and looked back at him.
And although his eyes were red, they were full of determination.
“Being an officer…” His voice was almost hoarse as soon as he spoke, so he paused and steadied his tone: “As an officer, can you treat a criminal like this?”
“Considering my identity as an officer, of course not.” Xin Muran replied with a smile. “But I have other skills than being an officer.”
Han Jia’s expression did not change. He looked at him for a while, seemingly trying to maintain his rationality and calmness, but Xin Muran felt that there must have been a storm in his heart. This restrained manner made him start to be restless again; he took a step toward Han Jia. “Han Laoban, are you okay?”
Han Jia stopped his movement with a very determined gesture, “Bring the kid to me. I want to see ManLi’s daughter first and then give you an answer.”
Xin Muran looked at him for a while and said, “Of course.”
Without waiting for him to speak again, Han Jia opened his mouth, his voice distant and calm: “Please leave.”
Xin Muran looked at his tired and pale face and sighed. “Han Laoban, have a good rest then. I will head out first.”
After he finished, he stood for a while before slowly leaving, and even thoughtfully helped Han Jia close the door.
He took the elevator down the stairs with a gloomy expression the whole way. When he was about to exit the front entrance of the building, he stopped and stood sideways behind a pillar.
Through the glass, he actually saw the boy from before that had brushed by him outside, standing with his head down behind a tree a little further away, looking a little lost – who knew what he was thinking or waiting for.
He glanced left and right. The place where the teenager stood was well-hidden. If it wasn’t because he happened to be at the right angle, Xin Muran might not be able to find him. Apart from that, standing under the tree, both exits of the building were in clear view.
Xin Muran thought about it, then confidently came out from behind the pillar, pushed the door and went to get the car.
As expected, the teenager moved. He kept following Xin Muran in the shadows of trees and buildings, and only when he got in the car, did he quietly leave.
Xin Muran looked at his back, remembering how he was on the phone and had calmly passed by in front of him – he thought about it with great interest for a good while.
Jiang Xiaoning, who had no idea that his whereabouts had been known, was now only engrossed in spurning himself.
He had actually cried and begged Han Jia to leave Jin Ting. How could he have done something like that? Han Jia was a pimp, a shameless pimp, a vicious and merciless person in the underworld… how many pleading eyes had he seen? How many times had he heard cries and begs of mercy? How could he be moved by him? Why was he worth him being so sad over? He didn’t even consider his childish request. He had only… he had only refused…
So obviously a rejection that once Jiang Xiaoning thought of it, he would shrink. Yes, he knew that what Han Jia said was only half the truth, but that attitude was clear… Han Jia responded to his request with mockery and humiliation.
Embarrassment brought anger, and anger caused hatred.
He hated Han Jia but hated himself even more.
Back then, the scene of him being drugged by Han Jia had appeared in his mind, provoking him to wait for Han Jia outside of Jin Ting in order to hit him with a brick. But now, he was already familiar with this place. He knew that there were knives, swords, and so on or some sort of danger…
But he was no longer the person he was before — hurting Han Jia and making him pay for what he did were things that he couldn’t do anymore…. even when the idea only flashed by, he felt his hands and feet become heavy, rendering him immobile.
He could only escape, escape from that room again. All the space in his mind was completely taken up by Han Jia — Han Jia’s despicableness, Han Jia’s fragility, Han Jia’s ruthlessness, Han Jia’s tenderness, Han Jia’s mocking smile, Han Jia’s silent sigh, Han Jia disregarding his wishes and feeding him a Mickey Finn, Han Jia laying on the bed after being drugged with that terrifying character on his back… he had never been so confused in his whole life, and it had never been so difficult to make a decision.
But he, who was suffering in pain and had exhaustingly resolved since then to take it as he didn’t know Han Jia, was actually still worried and couldn’t just leave when he saw the man who was coveting Han Jia.
He hid behind the tree and waited for the man to come out while hopelessly counting the time, unable to control himself from letting his imagination run wild like a lunatic.
A lunatic? Jiang Xiaoning’s face showed a bitter smile that didn’t belong to someone his age. When he came to his senses, he realized that he didn’t know where he was.
He stopped and observed the surroundings carefully, only to remember that Qi Laoshi had brought him out of Jin Ting before, and had gone home after passing by here.
Jiang Xiaoning stood for another moment before he hesitantly moved in the opposite direction of Qi Xiuyuan’s residence.
Qi Xiuyuan was the teacher he respected and trusted the most. But could he really discuss this matter with him and ask for help?
He walked exasperatingly slow, but because he had something on his mind, he didn’t pay any attention to his surroundings, and as he passed by a corner, he didn’t notice a couple kissing in the shadows.
His appearance caused the two people to separate with a shock, and the girl cried out in surprise. Jiang Xiaoning was still troubled and walked away without raising his head.
It was not long before he left that the sounds of gentle footsteps came from behind as if someone was chasing after him.
“Jiang… Jiang Xiaoning?” A sweet and very familiar voice sounded.
Jiang Xiaoning stood still and looked back, and was also shocked: “… Susu-jiejie?”
Qi Susu looked at him, exposing a very embarrassed look as she stammered to speak: “You, are you looking for my brother?”
He hadn’t finished speaking yet when Qi Susu grabbed both his hands and pleaded: “Xiaoning, take it as I’m begging you. Please, don’t tell my brother what happened just now.”
Jiang Xiaoning was taken aback and only then realized that the person startled by him just now was actually her. He looked behind her and saw a tall figure standing in the shadow, however, he was unable to see his face.
His silence was misunderstood by Qi Susu. She looked up at Jiang Xiaoning, and her large eyes seemed ready to burst into tears. “Xiaoning, please. My brother doesn’t agree with me and Ah-Yang being together. If he knows, I won’t be able to see Ah-Yang anymore.”
“I… I won’t say anything.” Jiang Xiaoning was very overwhelmed by her tears and was touched by her words.
Qi Susu looked up at him slightly with eyes full of tears under the streetlights, appearing shy yet courageous. “But I like Ah-Yang. I can’t leave him no matter what.”
After saying that, she blushed and looked back at the man in the shadow and cautiously told him. “Remember, don’t tell my brother by all means – by all means.”
Jiang Xiaoning nodded in shock and watched as Qi Susu turned and ran to her lover’s side. The two shadows merged into one, and they hugged each other and walked away.
He stood there the entire time — the sky gradually brightened, and the faint murmur of cars and people started to sound in the distance while a downtrodden wild cat passed by him, however, he remained unmoved and looked in the direction of the two who had just left, agonizing over his own problems as if he was an imbecile.