Translated by Zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editors: kai and Kiramekineko
Back in the safe house, Chen Boqiao thought that Zhang Jue was going to get some rest, but Zhang Jue sat down in the living room and put his phone beside him.
Zhang Jue said that he had received an electronic ferry ticket from Harrison, so he was going to discuss some details with him before going to bed. He put on wireless headphones, turned on the tablet, and went through the details on the boarding of the cruise.
Chen Boqiao sat on the narrow single sofa, looking through the Bangkok Tour Guide—the only book available in the safe house. Chen Boqiao’s original intention was not to eavesdrop, nor could he hear what Harrison said, but because he happened to have the unfolded and detailed map of Bangkok on the guide before him, and Zhang Jue wasn’t trying to keep the details from Chen Boqiao anyways, Chen Boqiao managed to get a pretty good idea on Zhang Jue’s new plan.
For example, it involved a large cruise ship bound for North America stopping at the outer port of Bangkok which is an hour’s drive from the safehouse.
He also understood that they will leave early in the morning a week later, board this cruise ship at noon, and stay in the cheapest cabin.
He knew that Harrison had sent the cruise ship’s blueprint, crew information, and all the known passenger information to Zhang Jue. In the next week, Zhang Jue will find a way to screen all the people on board for safety.
Zhang Jue’s brows were slightly pinched, and his hair was tied at the back of his neck as usual. He was tall but had a slender figure. His clothing was thin and comfortable looking, the round neck of the shirt hugging the skin around his smooth collarbone. He was sitting cross-legged on the sofa, hands and computer on his lap, and he smelled of the cheap shower gel from the love hotel, just like Chen Boqiao.
He swiped on the screen with a stylus and posted his questions to Harrison from time to time to confirm the details on the cruise ship’s structure. Sometimes the pen tip touched the glass screen and the light tapping sound could be heard.
Chen Boqiao found that Zhang Jue’s tone when speaking with Harrison was way different from when he was speaking to him. Zhang Jue was not so polite with Harrison, and they sounded familiar with each other.
When Harrison made innocuous jabs at Zhang Jue, Chen Boqiao could find a few traces of exasperation on Zhang Jue’s face.
Zhang Jue never got provoked and almost never fought back with his own jabs. He just lowered his eyes, then pursed his mouth, moving the corners of his lips a little, tapping lightly on the screen with the stylus, and then softly sighing.
Other than those times, the communication between the two was very efficient. Zhang Jue spoke concisely. After half an hour, the conversation was almost over.
Zhang Jue was different when he was talking to Chen Boqiao. He was either very dull, taking a long time to say just a few words, or he talked a lot and kept rambling.
Zhang Jue hung up the phone, looked at his watch, then at Chen Boqiao. He asked, “You and… Pei Shu, have you decided on the time and place to meet tomorrow?”
“Not yet, we’ll decide after he arrives in the TIS.” Chen Boqiao felt that Zhang Jue was reluctant and struggled when he said Pei Shu’s name, so he asked, “Is there some kind of feud between you two?”
Zhang Jue shook his head and said no.
“Pei Shu is not a bad person.” Chen Boqiao tried to defend his friend.
Zhang Jue, however, just nodded slightly as if something was on his mind.
After a few seconds of silence, he asked Chen Boqiao, “What does Pei Shu need to tell you about?”
Chen Boqiao saw that Zhang Jue was hesitant to speak, and he felt a strange sensation in his heart. Yet still, the things he said were not entirely true, “Just some things related to my father’s corporation.”
“Okay.” Zhang Jue lowered his head.
After a while, Chen Boqiao finished reading the entire manual and wanted to stand up. Zhang Jue spoke before he could move.
Zhang Jue did not look at Chen Boqiao. Holding the laptop in his hand, he said slowly, “I thought Pei Shu’s father had left Zhaohua Energy a long time ago.”
Chen Boqiao did not answer, so Zhang Jue added, “I thought you and Pei Shu had stopped contacting each other after we left school.” He raised his head and looked at Chen Boqiao, with a lot of hesitation in his eyes.
The air was still for half a minute, and Chen Boqiao broke the silence, “What are you trying to say?”
Perhaps because Chen Boqiao’s defensiveness had become obvious, Zhang Jue was a little more careful when he answered. He first said, “It’s nothing,” and then, “I just felt like Pei Shu can help you accomplish a lot of things.”
Zhang Jue’s voice was very soft and full of caution. Chen Boqiao could feel that Zhang Jue did his best to soften his words, although the attempt was a lost cause.
If Chen Boqiao had to rate Zhang Jue’s speaking and negotiation skills out of ten, Chen Boqiao would give him a five. Half a mark for the effort, and the remaining four and a half were personal bias.
“For example?” asked Chen Boqiao, following Zhang Jue.
The light in the living room flickered several times due to the unstable voltage. A small bug hit the light. Zhang Jue paused and looked at Chen Boqiao silently.
When even Chen Boqiao felt that the silence was too long, Zhang Jue finally said, “I don’t have examples. What I actually want to ask is, if I never showed up, did you have other plans to escape?”
“Pei Shu can come and go freely in TIS, so he’d have resources to break you out.” Zhang Jue observed Chen Boqiao and said his own inference, “You reported your status to him as soon as we got out. I just thought, did I make a move earlier than him and ruin your plan?”
Perhaps because Zhang Jue had seemed too airheaded along the way, which made Chen Boqiao let down his guard and feel that nothing needed to be concealed too much with him. Therefore, when Zhang Jue confronted him, Chen Boqiao suddenly realized that Zhang Jue was not as dull and gullible as he thought.
Chen Boqiao’s expression became a little more serious as he concentrated to quickly think of a lie. In the next second, Chen Boqiao realized that he did not need to lie.
Because Zhang Jue saw that Chen Boqiao didn’t answer immediately, he said, “I don’t mean to probe. I won’t ask if you don’t want to say it.”
As if afraid that Chen Boqiao would be unhappy because of what he said, Zhang Jue frowned and tried to explain, “I want to tell you that whatever you want me to do, you can just tell me. I will cooperate with you guys.”
“You know me well,” he said. He paused and blinked his eyes slowly before saying, “It’s not like I’ll be angry with you.”
Zhang Jue’s lips were slightly open, the color was pale. Just like him, most of the time one barely noticed his existence. He was so honest that Chen Boqiao felt pity for him.
Unable to get Chen Boqiao’s answer, Zhang Jue became frustrated again, “You’re right, I am really stupid sometimes.”
Not long after Chen Boqiao came into contact with Zhang Jue, he realized that Zhang Jue had low self-esteem and liked to put himself down. But it seemed that it was just this dull moment of sitting in the living room tonight, with Zhang Jue lowering his head and hiding his face from his lack of confidence, that Chen Boqiao began to feel bad.
Zhang Jue’s computer screen suddenly lit up. It seemed to be a notification of breaking news. Zhang Jue lowered his head and glanced at him, frowning almost imperceptibly.
Chen Boqiao saw it, so he asked, “What news is it?”
Zhang Jue hesitated, then Chen Boqiao reminded Zhang Jue, “You said you’d cooperate.”
Zhang Jue reluctantly passed the computer to Chen Boqiao. “I didn’t show you the news before because I wanted you to be in a better mood,” Zhang Jue explained in a low voice, “…because it’s all bad.”
He handed over the laptop to Chen Boqiao, his fingers accidentally brushing Chen Boqiao’s, and he quickly withdrew.
Chen Boqiao opened the video clip. On the screen, the diplomat of the Asian League was answering the reporters’ questions.
“There has been new evidence that, when Chen Boqiao went to the Philippines on January 15 last year, he carried secret documents on Zhaohua Energy’s cooperation with the military into the Philippines and then transferred it to North America…”
The video was not long, and it soon ended. After watching it, Chen Boqiao returned the laptop to Zhang Jue. He was not surprised. This was part of his plan with Pei Shu, but Zhang Jue seems to really mind it.
Zhang Jue took the laptop back, turned off the screen, held it in his arms, and said to Chen Boqiao a little annoyedly, “This kind of news is turning up a lot these two days.” His face was full of pure dissatisfaction with such news, as if the previous topic had been skipped over.
Chen Boqiao felt a little more relaxed. He said, “Zhang Jue.” Zhang Jue looked at Chen Boqiao.
He gave a confused “Yes?”, his eyebrows twisting slightly. A few locks of hair fell from behind his ears to his cheeks, and he raised his hand to put it back.
“What if the news was true,” Chen Boqiao asked him, “and I did collude with North America?”
Zhang Jue was stunned, his expression slightly dazed.
Chen Boqiao smiled and asked, “If I really colluded with the enemy and committed treason, could you accept that?”
“That’s impossible,” Zhang Jue couldn’t help but speak. He glared at Chen Boqiao for the first time and said to Chen Boqiao, “Don’t frame yourself.”
Zhang Jue put the computer aside, looked at his watch, and began to change the subject, “It’s half-past eleven, let’s go to sleep.”
He got up, took the quilt that Chen Boqiao had folded in the morning and put on the cabinet, spread it on the sofa, and told Chen Boqiao, “You can have the bed today.”
Zhang Jue leaned over and smoothened the quilt. After passing Chen Boqiao, he went to the bathroom. As he moved, Chen Boqiao spoke.
Chen Boqiao said again, “Zhang Jue.” Chen Boqiao couldn’t see Zhang Jue’s expression, but he thought Zhang Jue had probably stopped and turned his head. Because Zhang Jue was not far behind him, and he made a very light nasal sound.
Chen Boqiao asked Zhang Jue a very immature question. He asked, “If I was not a hero, not a soldier of the Asian League, but an ordinary Chen Boqiao who got a degree in Europe after graduating from Roche and starting a family somewhere.”
“Would you still like me?” was the part of the question that Chen Boqiao thought was too stupid and didn’t ask.
But Zhang Jue was smarter this time, he stood there for a while, and answered vaguely, “…I’d still like you.”
“Really?” Chen Boqiao looked back at him with interest.
Zhang Jue didn’t seem to dare to look at Chen Boqiao, his eyes were placed elsewhere, and he let out a “Yeah.”
Chen Boqiao followed with another question and asked, “Are you gonna come to Europe to court me?”
Zhang Jue was taken aback. He looked at Chen Boqiao, the roots of his ears were flushed. He thought for a while, and whispered, “Maybe not?”
Chen Boqiao liked to tease Zhang Jue and confuse him. He deliberately asked Zhang Jue, “Why not?”
Zhang Jue opened his mouth but did not speak, and Chen Boqiao began to encourage him very casually, “You should.”
Zhang Jue looked at Chen Boqiao hesitantly. He seemed to know nothing about love. After a while, he said, “Okay.”