The Judge 16
This person deeply etched in his mind, this person whom he had even loved deeply before, the one who betrayed him in the very end.
In that stifling sickly pale place filled with madness, whether it was his cooperation with the treatment or his contentment with what he had, everything was all for this moment. Elation and grief beyond compare flooded Song Xiaofeng’s heart. If this person will never become his, then let him be ruined here—
His knife was halfway there when he found with shock that it could not go any further.
Sheng Yao’s body had turned an odd angle, allowing the sharp dagger to land under his armpit. With it clasped under his arm, he used another hand to grip Song Xiaofeng’s wrist and twist it down hard. Forced to let go, Song Xiaofeng glared at Sheng Yao with a pale face. With a sharp crack, Sheng Yao agilely twisted his hands behind him and cuffed him, before kicking the dagger to the side. Then, he commanded the two colleagues who were still dumbfounded, “Collect that as evidence. And search this guy for any more metal objects.”
“Sheng… Sheng-ge’s formidable…”
Sheng Yao laughed, flexing his wrists before pulling Song Xiaofeng up. “Today, I’ve learned a series of idioms and proverbs from you, like how ‘a leopard never changes its spots’, like ‘a stab in the back’, and like how ‘one bites the hand that feeds them’. I know what concrete examples to provide for Dr. Jiang when I go back.”
Song Xiaofeng’s eyes were completely red.
Sheng Yao sighed. “You’re already of this age. Ke Ruhui really turned you all dizzy. Where would he learn the ability to drag out a whole 60kg sack from the hospital to such a far place without anyone discovering it? This bullshit won’t—”
Song Xiaofeng began to cackle lowly. Sheng Yao had used too much strength to restrain him on the ground earlier, and his elbow had knocked against his jaw, causing a nosebleed that flowed to the corner of his mouth. It made his face look malevolent.
“Sheng-ge, is this guy okay in the head…” The brother who picked up the dagger grinned with distress.
“You don’t say. If he’s alright in the head, would he be in a mental hospital?” Sheng Yao humphed lightly. “Bring him away!”
The hell. How rare was it for Inspector Sheng to have something weigh on his conscience for once and feel slightly guilty to this person? But now, that all turned into nothing.
Covered entirely in dirt and dust, comrade Song Xiaofeng was jostled back inside like this. Zhong Xi looked at him in defeat. Jiang Hu contemplated and pointed at Sheng Yao, “Who is he?”
Song Xiaofeng let out a cold laugh. “Ji Jing. Even if you turn into dust, you’re still mine.”
Sheng Yao’s eyes bulged. “But you knew my surname was Sheng earlier!”
Song Xiaofeng spat out saliva mixed with blood. “You use different identities to hide yourself among the people. No one knows the entire process, but you can’t deceive me… Ji Jing, even if you turn into dust, whether your surname is Success or Failure, Pig or Dog, I’ll still be able to find you!”
Was this the never-dying obsession from the legends? Sheng Yao was sullen-faced, mentally in grief—Bro, what do you like about me? I’ll change, okay?
Zhong Xi let out a deep sigh. Shen Yexi gave her a helpless glance. “Dr. Zhong, looks like his ‘fluctuation between good and bad’ is an overstatement.”
Next, Song Xiaofeng turned to Jiang Hu in scrutiny for a while before snorting quietly, “Liar.”
Jiang Hu sighed, casting a glance at Sheng Yao before returning to Song Xiaofeng, his gaze holding some grief. The grief seemed to contain something more substantial. When his eyes swept across them, they would feel as though they had been infected with something. Even the circulating air seemed to turn still.
Song Xiaofeng also stared at him doubtfully.
Sheng Yao rolled his eyes at the sky—Please, no. Again?
It was a long while later when Jiang Hu said solemnly, “Dr. Zhong, can we have a place to chat?”
Failing to understand what was happening, Zhong Xi just nodded subconsciously, “I can lend you my office…”
The people went to Zhong Xi’s office. Knowing that her presence would be an inconvenience, Zhong Xi left and closed the door behind her. Only Yang Man was left guarding the door, while Shen Yexi and Sheng Yao followed behind Jiang Hu. The door was just shut when Jiang Hu extended a hand to Sheng Yao. “The key to the handcuffs.”
Sheng Yao hesitated before lowering his head, silently pulling out the keys. But he did not uncuff Song Xiaofeng, instead taking a step back to stand at the window a distance away. He turned to look outside the window, showing only the melancholic back of his head. Otherwise, his face might twitch inappropriately from trying too hard to hold in laughter.
Song Xiaofeng’s attention was entirely on him. Jiang Hu grabbed his wrists and uncuffed him. Song Xiaofeng rubbed his scaped wrists, scanning the faces around him dubiously before landing back on Sheng Yao. Jiang Hu casually tossed the cuffs on Zhong Xi’s office table and sat down on the table, burying his face in his hands and sucking in a deep breath. Back against the wall, Shen Yexi watched him exercise his skills with interest. Yang Man turned, about to ask when Shen Yexi stepped on her feet. He maintained his unperturbed, stern and sad expression befitting of the overall theme, while grinding his foot on Yang Man’s. Then, he shot a glare at her, mouthing, “Talk less. Watch more, and say less bullshit.”
Yang Man shut up very obediently.
It was a long while later when Jiang Hu muttered softly, “Oh, Black Mist, Black Mist, I don’t even know what to say anymore…”
He referred to him as “Black Mist” instead of Song Xiaofeng, his tone and body language shifting peculiarly. The slightly drained expression could make anyone’s heart ache slightly. Song Xiaofeng turned again to gaze at Sheng Yao’s frustratingly sorrowful back, and was completely flummoxed. “Ji Jing…”
“You still don’t understand?” Sheng Yao turned his face back just slightly, but his gaze was on the floor. Some light filtered in from the cracks onto his face. That expression was difficult to see, leaving only the thought that it was very pretty. As if he was at the edge of the light, he looked faintly frail. Of course, from Sheng Yao’s perspective, the vagueness of his words was only due to not yet understanding what role Jiang Hu wanted him to play.
Jiang Hu suitably drew the topic of the conversation to his side. He gave a quiet, wry laugh. “A-Jing, you’ve racked your brain for a way to protect him, but he won’t appreciate it.”
Now, Yang Man understood, staring at Shen Yexi with a pale face—Were these two joining hands to trick a mentally ill patient? Was there no limit to their immorality?
Shen Yexi pretended not to see it.
Song Xiaofeng’s bewildered gaze swept between Shen Yexi and Yang Man. Honestly speaking, from afar, these two were eye candy. But they sadly belonged to the category of only being admired from afar and allowed no toying around. The oppressive air that emitted from their bones could pressure others the moment they stood close.
Jiang Hu immediately understood that being surrounded gave Song Xiaofeng insecurity, preventing him from lowering his guard. So, he shot Shen Yexi a look—Go out.
Shen Yexi raised his head to the ceiling and then, looked at his feet, refusing to acknowledge it.
Jiang Hu had no choice but to change his strategy. He coughed softly, pulling back Song Xiaofeng’s attention, “Do you know what kind of person Ke Ruhui is?”
Song Xiaofeng’s face remained unchanged, but he took a small step back, looking at him with some resistance.
“He used to be my teacher,” Jiang Hu said.
These words were a surprise to Song Xiaofeng, stunning him momentarily. Jiang Hu knew what he was doubting, so he added lightly, “That’s right, we’re enemies, but it’s true that he was my teacher.”
Song Xiaofeng deliberated and chuckled coldly, “I won’t believe you again.”
—This person was a professional liar. His skills at deception was so high that he could not distinguish what was the truth at times. So naturally, lying was as natural to him as eating or breathing. He was naturally born with a thousand masks.
Jiang Hu’s gaze met his. Song Xiaofeng realized with astonishment that this person’s eyes were crystal clear. He did not quite understand why a liar could have such clear eyes. Jiang Hu suddenly said, “Yexi, come here.”
Shen Yexi looked at him, bewildered as he slowly inched closer. He gave Song Xiaofeng a guarded look as he naturally placed his body between the two of them. Mischief flashed across Yang Man’s eyes—Cap Shen, you’re being used as a tool by your own cutie.
While still sitting on the desk, Jiang Hu suddenly pulled down Shen Yexi’s collar for a kiss right in front of everyone’s eyes. Lightning must have struck down.. The remaining three present, including Sheng Yao who was looking on from afar with his face turned 45 degrees down in a melancholic state, seemed to have been under a frozen spell as they stared at them, dumbfounded.
Shen Yexi was in shock at first, before his body very naturally reacted instinctively. He grabbed Jiang Hu’s shoulder, his hand reaching for the back of his head to deepen the kiss. Just as his hand began to move downwards, with the spark in his heart wriggling with desire, Jiang Hu pushed him away, telling Song Xiaofeng with a serious face, “See, we’re not like what Ke Ruhui said.”
For some reason, once these words were out, everyone had understood what he meant.
Yang Man turned her head aside, nearly breaking into a coughing fit. Shen Yexi’s face was as dark as the bottom of a wok, and he narrowed his eyes dangerously at Song Xiaofeng. “Ke Ruhui? What did Ke Ruhui say?”
Song Xiaofeng turned his eyes to Sheng Yao, mumbling, “So… So, you and Jing aren’t… in that kind of relationship?”
Sheng Yao’s peach blossom eyes bulged into saucers and he yelled at the top of his voice, “Bastard, what bullshit are you sprouting?”
—He was still young. He really did not want to die at Captain Shen’s hands just because of an unreliable rumor! Shen Yexi’s gaze on Sheng Yao was already becoming unfriendly. Peach blossom eyes, constantly with an inappropriate half-smile. And his jaw was even sharp, his thin lips also seemed seductive… Sheng Yao, mhm, very good, very, very good.
In Song Xiaofeng’s eyes, this expression was a rage transformed from embarrassment. In this moment, his person’s icy cold, ferocious expression turned much gentler.
Jiang Hu smiled breezily, “You believe firmly that I harbor motives for A-Jing, and thus everything I did was to do harm to you, am I right? You’re really as stubborn as a mule. Looks like tricking you here to hide you was the correct choice. But sadly… they still found you.”
Song Xiaofeng remained obstinate. “How… how do I know that you didn’t pull him here to trick me?”
Jiang Hu pulled Shen Yexi’s hand to his chest. “There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but there is only one for me. Throughout this lifetime, and in my next, I only need this person alone. In every corner of the universe, I would not betray him. Otherwise, let lightning strike me in eternal damnation as punishment. If another person has their good points, that only concerns the others. Even an outstanding devastating beauty is none of my concern. And even if he wears rags and even if his face is covered in grime, he still remains as the one I have the softest spot for.”
Yang Man watched dumbstruck as Jiang Hu uttered out this monologue without a single change in expression, and wondered if Dr. Jiang had been transmigrated or was possessed? A poor Captain Shen in rags… She took it upon herself to imagine it, only to feel the chilly winds of Siberia had gone through her, goosebumps raising all over her body.
Although Shen Yexi’s heart warmed from these words, he still thought with what remained of his reason, Taiwan and Hong Kong dramas were a bad influence! Weren’t these lines from the blustering TV drama with characters getting desperate at the slightest things? Jiang Hu, this brat, probably did not even understand it completely, but he still managed to recite them without any error. What ‘outstanding devastating beauties’, and, and, and…. Even ‘donned in rags’… What kind of lines were that? Were they used all together like this? He even used them all on him like that!
But Song Xiaofeng seemed to have been hit on the right spot as he was dumbfounded. He only mumbled to Sheng Yao in a daze, “Throughout this lifetime, and in my next, I only need this person alone… Jing, I feel the same about you.”
Sheng Yao mentally thought, Laozi can’t continue this pretense anymore.
Song Xiaofeng slowly walked towards Sheng Yao. His expression was a little dazzled. The other three’s hearts were about to leap out of their throat. Shen Yexi secretly pinched Jiang Hu’s hand—It’s all your fault, if this deviant harbors any intentions to Sheng Yao, and if… and if there’s no way to save the situation, what’s he supposed to tell Shu Jiu?
Jiang Hu frowned, and studied Song Xiaofeng’s face from afar. He patted his hand, indicating that it was fine.
Then, they saw Song Xiaofeng reach for Sheng Yao with an extremely pained expression before he put his hand down sadly. “I’m sorry.”
“He gave you a gun.” Sheng Yao said, “Do you know what guns are for?”
Song Xiaofeng stared at him dumbly.
“It’s a weapon to hurt and kill someone,” Sheng Yao said. He glanced at Jiang Hu in uncertainty, and saw the latter nod at him for him to continue. “I did get you to this place to protect you. Your mind was intentionally misguided by him, and that caused some issues. But you didn’t understand, refused to cooperate with the treatment and even wanted to kill me.”
Sheng Yao’s face had changed from his usual gentle expression, and his words were stiff. Song Xiaofeng opened his mouth, “I’m sorry…”
Jiang Hu gently interrupted, “Black Mist, although I call him A-Jing, that was just to match your interpretation of the situation. We usually do not call each other this.” Although they were taking advantage of him, Song Xiaofeng’s illness should not be misguided like this any longer.
Song Xiaofeng turned back to look at him.
“What we’ve done, what identity we have, what Ke Ruhui did, and even what identity you have—many of that isn’t real. It was what Ke Ruhui mislead you into thinking. It’s false. These are what you’ve fantasized about.” Jiang Hu observed his expression. “Do you know? One day, when you get better from your illness, you’ll discover what is real and what is fake.”
“What is real?” Song Xiaofeng was surprisingly a little perplexed.
“This person here is real.” Jiang Hu pointed, and Sheng Yao realized anew with despair that he had been sold off by this heartless colleague yet again. “Ji Jing and Ke Ruhui are fake.”
Song Xiaofeng did his best to understand his words. Sheng Yao silently made a cutthroat gesture at Jiang Hu. Then, he sighed, taking two steps forward to bring Song Xiaofeng into a hug, whispering into his ear, “I truly exist here.”
Song Xiaofeng was dumbfounded. It was a while later that he gently raised his hands to wrap around Sheng Yao’s back, returning the hug. It seemed to be a very, very long time since someone had offered him such an intimate body contact. That person’s body emitted a faint fragrance that drifted to his nose. It was so real it left him close to tears.
Yang Man shook his head—This time, Gongzi really pressed his luck, and even sold his appearance.
After a while, Sheng Yao let go of Song Xiaofeng whose eyes turned slightly red. He pulled him towards Zhong Xi’s computer, and told him solemnly, “Let me show you some things.”
Logging into Ke Ruhui’s chatroom, he pulled up the video of Zhou Min’s murder. At first, Song Xiaofeng did not understand, but gradually, his eyes became increasingly bigger. He whipped his head around in fear to look at Sheng Yao, his lips shifting. From the video came Ke Ruhui’s voice, and Sheng Yao’s face held a genuine grimness.
Song Xiaofeng was silent for a while, taking a slip of paper from Zong Xi’s desk to write down an address. “I only know this much.”
Shen Yexi took it, patting his shoulder. “Thanks, brother. We’ll head there immediately.”
Sheng Yao said, “You guys, go. I’ll send him back to his room.”
Jiang Hu gave them a deep look, and nodded before he turned to leave.
They rushed their way there, the police siren blaring throughout the whole sky. When they kicked the door open, the smell of blood assaulted their noises. A woman’s despairing shrill screams cut through everyone’s ears. Ke Ruhui looked back. Though his whole body was bloodied, he faced the armed police without any anxiety, and he even stood up refinedly, raising his hands. The knife in his hand dropped on the floor as his gaze looked at everyone before finally landing on Jiang Hu. “J, you are faster than I anticipated.”
Shen Yexi barked at the people behind him, “Call an ambulance, quickly!”
Yang Man leaped over to push Ke Ruhui to the wall. Ke Ruhui did not put up any resistance either. Even with half of his face squeezed against the wall, he still looked at Jiang Hu with a mysterious smile playing on his lips.
The woman’s skin was cut open, her limbs fastened on the floor. The exposed flesh revealed pinkness and looked extremely horrifying. Shen Yexi freed her, but the woman was still screaming at the top of her voice, kicking and hitting with everything she had. Afraid of injuring her, Shen Yexi simply suffered her blows. Fortunately, his body was rough, and he was unafraid of pain.
“You’re safe now, you’re safe now… Quick, quick, put her on the stretcher, and take care to move her.” The medical personnel had arrived at the speed of the light and lifted the woman. Shen Yexi’s body was stained with considerable blood, and he was about to let out a sigh of relief when the woman gripped the edge of his shirt firmly. “My kid…”
Ke Ruhui broke into laughter.
“What?” Shen Yexi bent over.
“My kid… my kid… save him, save him…”
“Where is your child?”
“In the wooden house at the back,” The woman spoke with difficulty, an unknowing light flashing in her eyes.
“Rest assured.” Shen Yexi gritted his teeth, pulling down the woman’s hand from his clothes. After the woman was brought away, Shen Yexi shouted, “Quick, get a few people here to come with me.”
“Wait up,” Jiang Hu interrupted him, looking at Ke Ruhui. “After you kill, you’ll write the word ‘Judgement’ on the wall. She’s just a normal woman, why are you giving her a trial?”
Ke Ruhui shook his head. “Everyone has their own sins.”
Jiang Hu’s brain was working so fast that he was almost stupefied in place. But Shen Yexi was anxious. “Whatever it is, I’ll save the kid with some people. You…”
“There’s probably something wrong with the wooden house.” Jiang Hu looked at Ke Ruhui with a heavy gaze. The latter’s smile was becoming increasingly prominent.
“Didn’t that woman say the kid was at the back?” Shen Yexi asked.
“Precisely. If you’re late, the child will die,” Ke Ruhui was smiling gently.
“Shut up!” It was rare for Jiang Hu to be so severe.
“Scatterbrain Hu, human lives are priceless.” Shen Yexi was anxious now.
“Then, I’ll go with you,” Jiang Hu said.
“If you go with him, that person is definitely dead,” Ke Ruhui said it very lightly.
Shen Yexi held Jiang Hu in place. “Wait for me here. I’ll go. No more bullshit. I’m the head, listen to me.”
Jiang Hu pulled at Shen Yexi’s wrist, his eyes staring at Ke Ruhui as he spoke rapidly, “Everyone has their sins is what you said—but you’re an extremely narcissistic perfectionist. You must have picked her for a special reason. If it was not because of something that happened in the past, then, it must be a crime she was ‘about to commit’.”
Ke Ruhui looked at him indifferently.
“So that woman’s words may not be true?” Yang Man asked.
“That expression she had in that situation is absolutely genuine. I believe her,” Shen Yexi said immediately.
“A child may truly be inside that house at the back, but there are billions of ways to make her believe her child was in danger. Ke Ruhui, what you’ve always wanted to prove to me is the uselessness of justice and the theory that everyone was sinful. For instance, there are cruel murderers in the police, and for instance, the first reaction Song Xiaofeng had upon being rescued was to attack Sheng Yao.” Jiang Hu paused, letting go of Shen Yexi, turning to him. “You can go. But remember not to trust in anyone. Even if saving people is your job. That includes victims.”
Shen Yexi said nothing else, simply turning around and dashing out.