Translated by zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editors: kai and Kiramekineko
Pei Shu spent four days in the TIS.
In these four days, he and the advisers left by Chen Zhaoyan contacted the Prime Minister and several important members of congress to fake new identities for the four people that would board the ship according to Chen Boqiao’s instructions.
The cruise ship that Zhang Jue and Chen Boqiao would board was registered in South Australia. It would sail from the TIS to North America without passing through the waters of the Asian League on the way. According to International law, the Asian League had no right to arrest Chen Boqiao while they were in international waters.
However, the current President of the Asian League, Zhao Kun, seldom played by the rules. His family had real prestige, with his father being the ex-Prime minister and many of his relatives holding high positions in the League government. On his mother’s side was a mega-corporation that had already lasted for several generations. Ever since his entry into politics, Zhao Kun’s career had been nothing short of smooth-sailing.
This time, Zhao Kun was disregarding all consequences in order to hunt down Chen Boqiao. He would pounce on the slightest lead.
According to Chen Boqiao’s plan, after the cruise ship entered international waters, Zhao Kun would be tipped off on Chen Boqiao’s whereabouts one evening when they were near the waters of the Asian League. Then, one of the personnel Pei Shu had arranged to board the cruise, who was a mercenary with experience with operating cruise ships supposedly taking his girlfriend for a trip in North America, would be bribed to coerce the captain to change its course towards the Asian League by Zhao Kun’s cronies. The cruise would then enter Asian League territories by early morning.
Chen Boqiao would be brought back to the Asian League, but the series of coincidences from the cruise ship that happened to turn around near Asian League territory, the mercenary who happened to disappear, and the fact that Chen Boqiao would just happen to miss the appeal period for his case, would sway the public into believing that Chen Boqiao’s supposed defection and the Asian Alliance’s manhunt for him was Zhao Kun’s scheme to silence Chen Boqiao.
When that happens, members of Congress will initiate an impeachment bill against Zhao Kun. If all goes to plan, Zhao Kun’s power as president will be temporarily removed within three days after the bill is launched.
In the afternoon two days before leaving, Pei Shu and the four people who were arranged to board the ship had a meeting. They sent an encrypted message to Chen Boqiao, asking him if it was possible to meet in person again to discuss the details and key matters of the plan since they would be too dangerous or inconvenient to communicate with devices.
A few minutes later, Chen Boqiao called him.
Chen Boqiao asked Pei Shu, “Are you still in Bangkok?”
Pei Shu said yes, and Chen Boqiao thought for a while and said, “Come to the safe house, he’s not here during the day.”
Pei Shu entered the address Chen Boqiao gave him into the navigation system and drove to a densely populated area in the south of Bangkok.
Pei Shu switched two cars along the way, took a few more diversions to make sure no one was tailing him, and drove for an hour before stopping at the entrance of an alley.
He walked into the alley, following the building number given by Chen Boqiao, and finally found the residential building. He climbed three flights of stairs and knocked on the door. Not long after, Chen Boqiao answered the door.
Pei Shu walked in after him and asked, “Where is Zhang Jue?”
“He’s getting familiar with the route to the port.” Chen Boqiao said and walked to the coffee table, pouring a cup of tea for Pei Shu.
The house was small, but very clean. The old floor tiles were decorated in local fashion, giving off a soft glow under the fluorescent lamp.
Pei Shu looked around. He walked to the door on his right, peered inside, and asked Chen Boqiao, “Only one bedroom?”
Chen Boqiao nodded, and Pei Shu glanced at the sofa again.
The sofa was nicely made and there was no blanket. It did not look like someone had slept on it previously. Pei Shu was a little stunned. He paused and asked Chen Boqiao, “How do you guys sleep at night?” He suddenly thought of a possibility, and laughed incredulously. “Don’t tell me he insists on sleeping in the same room with you even if he has to sleep on the floor.”
Chen Boqiao was silent for a moment before he frowned. “You misunderstand him.”
“This is no misunderstanding,” Pei Shu insisted. He was a huge playboy and had much more experience than Chen Boqiao in these matters. He wanted to get it into Chen Boqiao’s head that persistent admirers like Zhang Jue would only cause chaos in his life. After all, he was someone with first hand experience. “I’ve met people like this.”
Chen Boqiao looked at him and didn’t say a word. Pei Shu continued,
“Wherever you go, they’ll follow after you. They have no shame or dignity so nothing you say will dissuade them. In the end, their family members had to take them to the doctor.”
Thinking back on Zhang Jue’s medical records, he added, “Zhang Jue is worse—”
“——Pei Shu,” Chen Boqiao suddenly interrupted him. Chen Boqiao looked at him flatly, and coldly said, “Let’s talk about what you’re here for.”
Pei Shu couldn’t tell whether Chen Boqiao simply didn’t want to talk about Zhang Jue, or that he felt that he was talking too much. He paused for a few seconds and replied uncertainly, “Okay then.” He took out the laptop and briefly introduced the four people that will board the ship with them, as well as the current affairs of the Asian League these days.
Chen Boqiao asked complicated questions from time to time, so Pei Shu had to discuss it with several consultants, and the time passed quickly.
It was showering in Bangkok that day, and there were bursts of heavy rain from time to time outside. The wind rattled the glass door to the balcony loudly.
When one of the consultants was about to present them with the result of their discussion, Chen Boqiao’s cell phone rang. It was probably Zhang Jue.
Chen Boqiao picked up and asked gently, “What’s the matter?”
“He’s here already. I have eaten,” Chen Boqiao said. “Where are you now?”
Zhang Jue said something on the other end, and Chen Boqiao gave an “I see” and said, “No wonder it’s so noisy.” Then he asked, “Did you tip today?” After a few seconds, he said, “Okay.”
Pei Shu looked at Chen Boqiao, and felt that there was something strange about him. The tone of the conversation between Chen Boqiao and Zhang Jue was very natural, and his attitude was somewhere between cold and gentle, and nothing seemed particularly off.
Chen Boqiao hung up the phone and looked at Pei Shu. Pei Shu was taken aback for a moment and continued with the topic just now.
After speaking for a while, Pei Shu felt thirsty, but he had finished the water in his glass and the mineral water bottle was empty, so he asked Chen Boqiao, “Is there any more water?”
Chen Boqiao had his head lowered to scribble down the information, so he pointed to the kitchen without raising his head, “Go and get it yourself.”
Pei Shu got up and walked into the kitchen.
Because of the limited space, the layout of the kitchen was mediocre. It was narrow and long, and can only be passed through by a single adult man at a time.
There was no food on the dark marble countertop, and Chen Boqiao didn’t say clearly where the water was. Pei Shu had to open the cupboard to look around. When he opened a deep drawer near the induction cooker, Pei Shu saw the box of condoms placed on the tissues at a glance.
The condom box was purple. It looked like a local brand from TIS. The printing was a bit rough. He picked it up and looked closely. It looked like a cheap love hotel product or a free gift.
The condoms came in threes, but the package had not been opened. Pei Shu fiddled with the condom box and found it a bit funny. Not only did Zhang Jue have a peculiar personality, but he also didn’t know to get better condoms.
“You can have it if you like it so much,” Chen Boqiao’s voice rang from not far away.
Pei Shu jumped, turned his head and saw Chen Boqiao leaning against the door, with his chin slightly raised. He was looking at him with his arms folded. “The water is in the leftmost cabinet.”
Pei Shu put down the box with some embarrassment, opened the cabinet pointed to by Chen Boqiao, and found the water bottle.
As he was leaving the kitchen, Chen Boqiao stopped him, his expression unchanged, and tried to defend Zhang Jue. “A volunteer at the supermarket stuffed it in his shopping bag.”
Pei Shu was holding his glass of water, and blurted out before he could stop himself, “Who knows if someone else stuffed it in the bag or he asked for it himself.”
Chen Boqiao glanced at him, and said slowly, “Keep your prejudice to yourself.”
Pei Shu shrugged, sat back on the sofa with Chen Boqiao, and discussed Chen Boqiao’s return to the Asian League.
After Zhao Kun’s people detained Chen Boqiao, in order to ensure the safety of Chen Boqiao, the news of his arrest must be announced as soon as possible. Therefore, there was also a reporter from the TIS on the cruise ship. Chen Boqiao and the advisory team had different opinions on the way the reporter should release the article. After a few minutes of discussion, they reached a consensus.
Pei Shu closed the page on the reporter’s information and raised his head. Suddenly, there was a crack of thunder in the sky, and the rain splashed on the window.
“What heavy rain.” Pei Shu said.
Chen Boqiao stood up, walked to the balcony, and opened the screened window slightly, seemingly observing the magnitude of the rainfall.
After Pei Shu said everything he had to say, he put down the laptop and moved over, half an arm’s reach from Chen Boqiao, listening to the sound of the rain and looking through the thick curtain of water on the outside of the glass door.
The balcony of the safe house that Zhang Jue found was very small, and there seemed to be something resting on the limestone slab of the railing. Pei Shu took a closer look and found that it was a match and a pack of cigarettes that had been soaked in rain.
He then asked, “Has Zhang Jue quit smoking?”
Chen Boqiao didn’t look at him. He stared into the distance, saying, “After you scared him into it, yeah.”
“I scared him?” Pei Shu laughed, and he asked Chen Boqiao, “Aren’t you annoyed about people smoking anyway?” He still remembered the big pile of cigarette butts in the ashtray by the swimming pool, Zhang Jue was obviously a heavy smoker.
“It’s not so easy to quit smoking.” Pei Shu said again, “He’s just lying to you.”
Chen Boqiao gave Pei Shu a look. Just as he opened his mouth to say something, the door behind them suddenly clicked. Pei Shu and Chen Boqiao turned to look together, and saw Zhang Jue’s hand on the doorknob, standing outside the door.
Zhang Jue’s whole body was soaked. His black hair stuck to his face, and the end of his hair had water dripping down. His light-colored cotton T-shirt stuck tightly to his body, and his bare arms were as white as porcelain, his lips pressed together. He was holding a bouquet of flowers in his hand.
Seven or eight roses were tied together, and the beige wrapping paper was dampened by the rain. The flowers were soaked as well, but they only looked redder.
Seeing someone else in the room, Zhang Jue was stunned, and asked Chen Boqiao in a low voice, “Are you still discussing?” Then he asked, “Do you want me to wait outside first?”
“We’re done here,” Chen Boqiao reassured him. After a pause, he asked Zhang Jue, “Why are you so soaked?”
“I bought you flowers,” Zhang Jue raised his head slightly and raised his hand to show Chen Boqiao the roses in his hand.
Pei Shu used to think that Zhang Jue’s appearance was so average that he couldn’t find him if he was in a crowd, but when he took a closer look at Zhang Jue today, he changed his mind a little. However, it was undeniable that Zhang Jue was terrible at making facial expressions. He doesn’t even smile when gifting flowers. He did not seem to know where to put his hands and feet, and he whispered something inconsequential, “The car can’t drive into the alley. I parked the car and walked over to the florist and it started raining after I took a few steps.”
One of the roses in the bouquet was blooming at its strongest, and a few petals fell with his movements. They landed on the ground and also on his shoes.
Chen Boqiao had his back to Pei Shu, but did not approach Zhang Jue. He simply thanked Zhang Jue.
Zhang Jue did not ask Chen Boqiao whether he liked it or not this time. He let out an “oh” and then stood blankly without moving or closing the door.
“Come in,” Chen Boqiao said to Zhang Jue again.
Zhang Jue shuffled over. When he passed by Pei Shu, the water was still dripping from his chin. Pei Shu couldn’t help but speculate that the flower shop Zhang Jue went to was nowhere near the safe house.
“I’ll shower first.” Zhang Jue placed the flowers on the coffee table and walked into the bathroom. Not long after, the sound of water could be heard from the bathroom.
Chen Boqiao looked at the bathroom door, stood for a few seconds, then turned around and asked Pei Shu, “Is there anything else you need?”
Pei Shu packed up and left.