Chapter 105: The Stolen Doll
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
In an open area with chilly winds all around that seemed to prick the skin.
Her feet stood on muddy ground, but she dared not take another step…
One black hole.
Two black holes.
The third, and the fourth…
In front of Xiang Wan, there was a vast and desolate dark space. Apart from watching the jagged black holes that stretched out endlessly over the immense space, there was nothing she could do. She couldn’t prevent the black holes from activating, and she didn’t dare to move recklessly… The black holes were as deep as the dark abyss. One wrong step and she’d be crushed to pieces…
The dream was excruciatingly long. Xiang Wan’s nerves were taut as the strings of a bow.
When she woke up, she realized that she was drenched in perspiration.
Huff! She ruffled her hair; her fingers felt somewhat moist as her head was also damp with sweat.
She could still feel tremors in her chest. She took some time to calm down before she looked at the time on her mobile phone.
It was eight o’clock in the morning already!
Fortunately, the nightmare woke her up.
Xiang Wan took a look at her thick blackout curtains and yawned, fell back to bed and only climbed out after two minutes…
“You’re finally up? Captain Cheng has been waiting for you for a long time.” Fang Yuanyuan was in the living room talking to Cheng Zheng. When she saw Xiang Wan come out of her room, she smiled and winked at her. “Quick, eat your breakfast! Captain Cheng made it, heheh. Thanks to you, I got to eat something nice this morning. I’m done with my share, so I’m going to get ready for work now!”
With that, Fang Yuanyuan quickly dashed into her bedroom.
Xiang Wan was left alone with Cheng Zheng, feeling awkward when she saw him sitting properly on the sofa.
“My apologies for waking up late.”
“It’s alright, we still have time.” Cheng Zheng took a look at his watch. “Hurry up and eat your breakfast or it’ll be cold soon.”
“Hm,” Xiang Wan responded somewhat unnaturally before asking him politely, “Have you eaten?”
“I’ve eaten! I’m just waiting for you.”
Geez! I feel awkward all over, thought Xiang Wan.
Xiang Wan hurriedly sat down to eat at the dining table while Cheng Zheng sat alone on the sofa, quietly reading Fang Yuanyuan’s magazine.
“Sis, I’m off to work now!” Fang Yuanyuan came out of her room, grabbed her bag, and left the house as if fleeing for her life.
Xiang Wan felt even more awkward now that it was just the two of them under one roof.
She didn’t take more than two minutes to eat breakfast.
After that, she got changed, applied her lipstick and packed her laptop bag—that was another five minutes.
The entire process didn’t take more than ten minutes, totally breaking her best speed record in getting ready for work.
“I’m done, we can go now!”
Cheng Zheng glanced at her. Maybe he was moved by her speed, but he didn’t say a word as he stood up from the sofa.
He was a quiet person who kept silent most of the time. On the journey to work, Xiang Wan was preoccupied with her own thoughts and only chatted casually with an occasional sentence or two. When they arrived at the office, she totally couldn’t remember what they’d talked about.
The detectives saw her and Cheng Zheng coming in together but they only took a look, and that was all.
“I’m going up.” Cheng Zheng nodded at her politely and proceeded to the forensics team.
With such politeness, maybe no one would have guessed that they were next-door neighbors, had eaten breakfast together, and had gone to work together.
Xiang Wan suddenly felt the urge to laugh.
Well, it was good that Cheng Zheng knew how to behave to avoid gossip. That way she wouldn’t need to worry so much.
However, it was best not to get too close to him. Otherwise, if their relationship got too close, it would spell trouble for her.
After all, the two of them had gone on a blind date before…
When there weren’t any major cases, the advisor would stay idle. The only thing she could do was ask Tang Yuanchu for some files to look through some past cases. She treated each and every bizarre case as stories to read; stories she could learn from and use as a way to kill time.
In the end, the more she read, the more fascinated she became…
What’s so great about the creativity of the authors?
The creativity of the masses is the greatest!
Actual cases were far more nonsensical, exaggerated, and more intriguing than stories…
Perhaps it was possible if people outside of stories never thought of it, but ultimately there was nothing that couldn’t be done.
When it was lunchtime, Xiang Wan met Mei Xin.
Female police officers were a rare commodity. When they both saw each other, they naturally chose to sit together.
And naturally… there was nothing to say.
Xiang Wan had felt two incidents of awkwardness on the same day and now believed in the saying ‘like teacher, like pupil’. Mei Xin was Cheng Zheng’s disciple. She was a carbon copy of Cheng Zheng; their personalities were exactly the same…
“Teacher Xiang, where are you going after lunch?” Mei Xin put down her chopsticks and suddenly asked.
It was rare for Mei Xin to take the initiative to talk to her. Surprised, Xiang Wan put on a smile.
“I’m planning on lying down on my desk or reading a book. You know that I don’t have anything to do for now.”
“Could you do me a favor?” she asked.
“Eh? Okay.” Xiang Wan smiled radiantly.
Mei Xin said her thanks and went to put away her food tray before coming back to sit with her.
I can’t eat anymore if she’s going to wait for me like this! Xiang Wan felt the other woman staring at her, and she instantly thought of herself as… naked meat spread out in front of Mei Xin.
“Wait for me!” She picked up her food tray and left the table.
When she came back, she realized Mei Xin was still sitting in the same pose, as if she hadn’t moved at all.
What a weird person!
Xiang Wan laughed. “We can go now!”
Mei Xin nodded her head and left with Xiang Wan.
The two of them were poles apart in terms of personality; one was warm while the other was cold. Many male police officers cast their eyes on them as they walked across the canteen.
Xiang Wan didn’t know how hanging out with Mei Xin would affect her, but she could sense something unusual from their gazes.
“I don’t have friends,” Mei Xin said suddenly. “I’m not familiar with them.”
“… Oh.” Xiang Wan didn’t know how to answer that and suddenly realized that her own emotional intelligence was really quite lacking.
“In the office, I hardly talk to anyone. Of course, that includes meal times as well.”
Xiang Wan understood now.
That meant Mei Xin was so cold and aloof that she didn’t mingle with anyone, yet she was willing to get close to Xiang Wan, and that attracted the attention of their colleagues?
“Thank you for the honor.” Xiang Wan laughed softly, trying to make the atmosphere less embarrassing, “I’m wondering what you want me to do for you?”
Mei Xin glanced at her. “It’s something very simple. Don’t be nervous.”
Was she nervous? She was sure that she wasn’t.
Yes, as long as it didn’t involve moving a real body specimen or something like that, she wouldn’t be nervous…
Soon enough, Xiang Wan realized that she’d been wrong. Mei Xin hadn’t lied to her. It really was something very simple.
The forensics team had a large balcony where several layers of flower racks were placed on top. On the flower racks, there were many succulent plants being raised on the shelves.
These succulent plants were well-cared for and appeared to be flourishing. They were neatly arranged and indulgently fitted into decorative flower pots. Xiang Wan found them breathtakingly beautiful.
At first, Xiang Wan felt as if she’d walked into the succulent section of the XiShuangBanNa Botanical Garden 1 . She was so surprised that her mouth fell agape.
“These… are all yours?”
“No. They belong to Captain Cheng. I’m helping him take care of them.”
“Of course, I like them too. I bought some of the pots over there myself.”
Xiang Wan felt like her brain couldn’t keep up with what was happening.
The two cold and apathetic human beings were actually succulent lovers? And they were the owners of these lovely, adorable succulent plants?
She somehow felt creeped out by the scene!
They faced these succulent plants with their emotionless expressions every day. Did they spare a thought for the feelings of these succulent plants?
Tch! The gentle-looking and tiny leaves of these plants… How could they stand the cold temperature those two gave off?
Xiang Wan realized that the air-conditioning of the forensics team was really cold and shuddered out of reflex.
“I can’t imagine that Captain Cheng actually liked these little things…”
Mei Xin seemed to know what she was thinking.
She gave her a glance without saying anything and proceeded to crouch down, meticulously taking care of these little plants.
Xiang Wan was standing beside her, looking at what she was doing and didn’t know where to start.
“Um… Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Just watch,” answered Mei Xin, “You can watch what I’m doing.”
So I’m not here to help out?
“The succulents don’t need to be watered every day.” Mei Xin’s head was lowered, so she didn’t see Xiang Wan’s startled expression and continued to tell her how to take care of the succulent plants. “They’re meant to grow in tough conditions. They’re not afraid that you won’t love them, only scared that you’ll love them too much. When you overwater them, they will die.”
Xiang Wan squeezed out an “okay” from her silence.
She didn’t know why Mei Xin was doing this, so she could only listen.
“When the sun’s bright, don’t water them and don’t expose them to long periods of sunlight.”
“Pests will also eat the succulent plants. Most of the time I don’t use insect repellent, but I do use a needle to prick them to death, one by one…”
Pricked to death, one by one?
Xiang Wan gave an uncontrollable shudder and smiled awkwardly.
“You’re really good. You actually know so much about them!”
“I didn’t know in the beginning either,” Mei Xin replied casually. “I got to know all this after working for so long with Captain Cheng.”
Xiang Wan became silent once again.
For a long time, Mei Xin didn’t say another word.
When she finished taking care of the row of succulent plants before her, she suddenly turned around and looked deeply at Xiang Wan.
“If you’re ever free, can you help me take care of them?”
“?” Xiang Wan looked totally confused.
The succulent plants were theirs, not hers. On what basis did she have to help them take care of the plants?
Helping occasionally would count as a favor. But if she were to help them every day, wouldn’t it…
This didn’t feel right; what exactly did Mei Xin mean by asking her this?
Xiang Wan looked into her eyes, but the young woman avoided her gaze. She lifted her hand to wipe her forehead. There was nothing she could read from her expression, Xiang Wan couldn’t discern any emotion from her. Even though the fiery sunlight shone onto the balcony, her skin was still pale and colorless.
“Captain Cheng really likes you,” Mei Xin said suddenly, “Will you cherish him, please?”
Making such a request with that slightly pleading tone, what was she trying to do?
Xiang Wan’s mouth closed tightly. After pondering for a while, she laughed softly.
“So, you’re asking me to learn how to take care of these succulent plants for him?”
Mei Xin looked at her. “Can’t I?”
Well… I have no clue how to reply to her.
Xiang Wan didn’t know if she should say Mei Xin was really naive. Beneath her cold exterior, she actually had such a young, childish heart that was similar to a kindergartener. Or should she say people who study technology had the one-track mind of a simpleton maybe…
Why did she assume that other people were willing to do the things that she was willing to do?
“I’m sorry, I can’t.” Xiang Wan looked Mei Xin in the eyes and replied seriously.
Mei Xin pursed her lips, not saying a word. She looked at Xiang Wan beseechingly.
As Xiang Wan observed Mei Xin for a moment, she realized something about this outwardly cold and distant female medical examiner. Even if she dealt with dead bodies every day, even if she came into contact with the darkest part of society, she was simply a person who had absolutely no clue how the world worked…
“You obviously like him, yet you’re pushing him into the arms of another. Miss, this is not called being magnanimous.” Xiang Wan heaved a sigh of helplessness. After a moment’s contemplation, she continued, “I’ll be frank. If another person said this to me, I’d call them pretentious. But for you, I’d like to say: Miss, you need to have more courage.”
She then pointed at the entrance. “I’ll be going then.”
“I don’t.” Mei Xin suddenly seemed flustered and turned around to look at Xiang Wan who was leaving. “I really don’t like him.”
Xiang Wan raised an eyebrow and kept quiet.
“He’s my benefactor.” Mei Xin’s gaze was as pure as clear spring water. “I just wanted to help him…”
Benefactor… What’s the story behind that?
Xiang Wan was actually a little curious, but in order to avoid getting too involved in Cheng Zheng’s affairs, she refrained herself from asking about it.
“I got it. I’m sorry, I take back what I just said.” Xiang Wan smiled. “However, I’m the same as you too. I don’t like him; I just think of him as an ordinary friend. We haven’t reached the stage where I would help him take care of his succulent plants…”
When Xiang Wan came back, she noticed that the atmosphere at the main office was somewhat different compared to that morning.
A police officer was answering the phone, leaning over his desk and speaking nervously. Tang Yuanchu was beside the police officer, staring at him with a face full of taut muscles and tense lines.
After hanging up the phone call, they exchanged a few words, and the police officer left with much haste.
When Tang Yuanchu saw Xiang Wan, he paused for a while and walked over in big strides.
“Teacher Xiang, you’re not busy, right?”
He asked politely and Xiang Wan laughed, shaking her head.
She wasn’t the kind of person who would accept a white collar job’s salary without doing any work. Although she hoped that there wouldn’t be any major homicide cases, she would do what she could to alleviate the awkward atmosphere within this new environment, as well as prevent people from assuming she got the job because of her relationship with Bai Muchuan. Lastly, she wasn’t someone suffering from princess syndrome.
“Detective Tang, did something happen?”
She asked nervously and clenched her hands, worried that it might be a big case.
“… Something did happen. There’s been a report of theft on the set of ‘The Grey List’.”
Ah! The set of “The Grey List” had been robbed?
“You mean the Criminal Investigation Unit handles cases of theft as well?”
This should be the actual, real case of nepotism? Xiang Wan thought. Somehow, she felt a little resentful about it.
Tang Yuanchu glanced at her; he clearly had no idea what she was thinking about. “When the thief was leaving, a security guard on the set saw him and got stabbed! Captain Bai just called and told us to hurry over and to get you to come along as well.”
This was Xiang Wan’s first time hearing Bai Muchuan’s name that day.
She hadn’t seen him in the morning either and had deliberately avoided learning more about him.
However, they were working under the same building; how could they possibly have no contact with each other?
“Is the man seriously hurt?” she asked.
“He’s been sent to the hospital; we’re not sure how he is right now.”
“Let’s go!” Xiang Wan didn’t hesitate. She took her bag and followed along.
Aside from herself, Tang Yuanchu also brought along two other detectives, making a total of four of them.
Xiang Wan sat at the front passenger seat of the police car. “Other than the injured security guard, what was lost at the set?”
“Yes!” Tang Yuanchu replied, “It’s that famous celebrity, Xie Wanwan’s doll…”
“Ah?!” A doll was lost?
So, everyone was putting on such a display just to search for the doll of a famous celebrity?
“It’s a very important doll. We’ll only know about the specific details when we get there. During the phone call just now, Captain Bai didn’t give a lot of details…”
Very important, huh?
Xiang Wan had once told Bai Muchuan that her pajamas were important because her grandpa had given them to her as a birthday present…
Thinking back to what happened in the past, she narrowed her eyes. “What about Captain Bai, he’s not going over?”
Tang Yuanchu: “Captain Bai is already there. He drank a lot last night and spent the night at that hotel… Anyway, he can’t handle this alone as a dispatch requires at least two police officers.”
Xiang Wan’s ears hummed for a moment. After thinking for a while, she was finally clear about the sequence of events.
If what Cheng Zheng said was true, then that meant Bai Muchuan had gone to the set of “The Grey List” to visit his girlfriend yesterday. During the night, he drank wine with Xie Wanwan and had stayed at the hotel.
Of course, as to whether he was sleeping alone or sleeping together wasn’t the question right now. The main problem was that a thief had snuck into the same hotel as the production crew and had stolen his girlfriend’s ‘important’ doll—a doll that she’d brought along to a location shoot. While the thief was escaping, he even stabbed a security guard. And all of this was done under the very nose of the sharp Detective Bai…?