Chapter 24 – Being a hostage for the third time
Jiang Yujin couldn’t walk away. Before he could approach the elevator, the closed doors reopened, revealing a tall man standing at the entrance, watching him.
With the doors closing again, Jiang Yujin and Xu Tonggui returned to sit together on the couch. Today, the latter wasn’t wearing a combat uniform but rather casual clothes, reducing the air of intimidation.
“That…” Jiang Yujin attempted to articulate, “Actually, I am your father.”
After saying this, he glanced at Xu Tonggui cautiously yet boldly.
The other person didn’t seem to believe him.
“Yes, that’s right,” Jiang Yujin’s expression turned slightly serious. “This is my home, and you’re my tenant.”
This also incidentally explained why this person could open the door. He seemed to affirm his own words, nodding in agreement.
Xu Tonggui turned to him. “So, the boyfriend is fake.”
“Let me correct that, it’s an ex-boyfriend,” Jiang Yujin clarified. “Yes, it was fake.”
After saying this, he paused for a moment, surprised. “You actually believed that?”
Xu Tonggui remained silent.
Jiang Yujin glanced at him, then continued, “Although I don’t know why you seem to have forgotten a lot, I can remind you. You’ve rented this place for several years, occasionally dropping by, and you haven’t paid rent.”
“Considering inflation and market changes, let me calculate—” He took out his phone, tapped away, and then showed the screen to Xu Tonggui. “It’s roughly this amount.”
As he contemplated doubling the amount, a knock interrupted them.
Someone outside the door announced, “Maintenance check.”
Jiang Yujin stood up to open the door, but Xu Tonggui stopped him and went to open it instead.
Peering over Xu Tonggui’s shoulder, Jiang Yujin saw a person outside in blue overalls and a matching hat, their face smiling but with a slight twitch at the corner of their mouth.
Turning to the person beside him, Xu Tonggui asked, “Maintenance check today?”
Jiang Yujin nodded, feeling a twinge in his teeth.
If it weren’t for this issue, he wouldn’t have spent the better half of the morning here.
Xu Tonggui nodded, then glanced at his phone before stepping aside.
The maintenance worker entered to check the gas and asked for the location of the kitchen.
Only Jiang Yujin knew where the kitchen was, so he led the way, with Xu Tonggui following.
It was evident that this place hadn’t been inhabited for a long time, with dust settled on the stove, and the gas already turned off.
While the worker inspected the gas pipes, Xu Tonggui signaled to Jiang Yujin to leave the kitchen.
Exiting the kitchen, the two headed to a room far from the kitchen.
This is the study. There were many books on the shelves, and there were flowers on the windowsill, but they had withered.
After closing the door, Xu Tonggui said directly, “This person might be a fugitive. We’re not entirely certain yet. Keep your distance from him.”
The initial discordant aspect was the uncontrolled twitching of the person’s mouth. 022 concealed their special ability to replicate others’ faces. They deceived a prison guard in the early hours, entered the cell, killed the guard, stuffed the body under the sheets, and disguised themselves as the guard to walk out of the prison openly.
However, 022’s ability had its flaws. After replicating someone’s face, occasional twitches occurred on the facial area, and specialized tools could identify the original form. These tools were limited and all used in checking surveillance areas. The face changed, but the voice didn’t. They resorted to the most basic method for voiceprint analysis, which took time but had high accuracy.
Just now, they recorded the person’s voice and only needed a specialist for comparison to determine if something was amiss.
Seeing the person in front seemingly attentively listening, Xu Tonggui emphasized once more, “Don’t get too close to him.”
Jiang Yujin nodded, “Okay, okay.”
It could be said that Xu Tonggui’s concern wasn’t unfounded.
Returning to the kitchen, Jiang Yujin first glanced around and then curiously approached the person squatting on the floor, tinkering with tools.
He seemed professional but appeared unfamiliar with his toolbox, rummaging inside for quite a while without finding anything.
Perhaps he wasn’t actually looking for something specific; besides searching, he didn’t seem to have anything else to do.
While he searched, Jiang Yujin approached from behind and then squatted beside him, tilting his head to gaze at his face for a long while.
The maintenance worker’s movements slowed suddenly. When he could no longer endure, the person squatting beside him finally withdrew his gaze, then reached out and patted his face, solemnly saying, “Your face looks strangely old.”
Maintenance Worker: “…”
Xu Tonggui: “…”
Just as the kitchen fell into silence, a vibrating sound broke the quiet, prompting Xu Tonggui to pick up his phone for a quick glance.
In that split second, the person who had been rummaging through the toolbox swiftly retrieved a flat fruit knife hidden under the box, reaching over towards Jiang Yujin’s neck, the blade pointed at the artery, eyes locking onto Xu Tonggui. He said, “You already know who I am, don’t you?”
When he had gone upstairs earlier, he had just witnessed this person knocking on the door, inquiring, already aware that this individual was from the Special Investigation Unit.
He hadn’t expected that he would coincidentally find this person when seeking a place to hide.
Leaving immediately would certainly raise suspicions. Initially planning to pretend to check and then leave quietly, he hadn’t anticipated that the other party would catch on.
Once detected, leaving easily was no longer an option. Fortunately, there was someone else present.
Citizen Jiang was not surprised when he became a hostage for the third time.
After all, this place was still somewhat like his own home, and with fewer knives in the kitchen, it was still detectable.
He turned to look at the person holding the knife, his drooping eyelids lifting unexpectedly. Contrary to expectations, he didn’t withdraw but moved closer, maintaining a distance neither too close nor too far, whispering softly near the other person’s ear:
“If you want to live, I have no objection. But if the knife gets dirty, you’ll die right here.”
His tone mirrored the previous one, just lacking the trace of a smile, not forceful, yet strangely enough, it made one’s heart skip a beat.
The fruit knife ultimately remained unstained.
022’s assessment of Xu Tonggui was still insufficient. Even though he was holding a hostage, it was almost useless. Suddenly, a flash blinded his sight, and a sharp pain shot through his neck. His back pressed against the corner of a counter, it felt like a gash had already been opened in his flesh.
With one kick, the person was sent flying. Xu Tonggui squatted halfway down, taking out specially made handcuffs to restrain the other person’s hands. He lowered his gaze and lifted his hand to check the time on his watch:
“Day 6, at 10:56 AM, 022 was captured.”
On the other side, Jiang Yujin picked up the fruit knife, casually wiped it clean, then returned it to its original place.
With the mission accomplished, Xu Tonggui had no reason to linger. After informing others, he led 022 towards the exit.
As they reached the entrance hall, his gaze swept across and suddenly caught sight of a photo frame lying askew on a nearby cabinet, his steps faltering.
He paused briefly, then reached out.
Just before his hand touched the picture frame, a slightly pale hand pressed down on it.
Jiang Yujin pressed the photo frame against the cabinet as if nothing had happened. Before he left, he mentioned what happened at the manor last night and said:
“The interrogation work in your department must be tough. Remember to push for my salary.”
Despite the estate’s supervisor being taken away for interrogation, his pay still had to be given.
Bringing up money, Jiang Yujin seemed to recall something else and reminded, “Don’t forget about the rent.”
He wore a smile on his face, making it hard to discern what he meant.
It was always like this.
Xu Tonggui withdrew his gaze and left with 022.
That morning, the police found the real maintenance worker and the prison guard’s clothing discarded in the utility room of the Huayang complex. The maintenance worker had been ruthlessly str*ngled, lifeless.
Xu Tonggui handed over 022 to the Special Investigation Unit and the prepared personnel, completing the task. On his way back, passing a partially open office, he noticed a handwritten sign on the door: [Strange Species A060 Handling Team].
He remembered the code given to the strange species yesterday at the estate was [A060].
Recalling Jiang Yujin’s instructions before leaving the civilian’s residence that morning, he halted, stood at the door for a moment, and finally decided to knock. When the door opened, he saw Zhao Liu seated right there.
As Zhao Liu was called out of the office by the captain, he recalled in his mind everything he might have done to deserve a scolding.
Before Xu Tonggui spoke, he was so nervous that his heart was beating wildly. After the other person spoke, he blurted out, “Pfft.”
Struggling to hold back a smile, he made sure to convey the urgency of pushing for the salary. He bid farewell to the captain, who still appeared calm and cool.
Right after leaving the office, Captain Xu happened to spot both Xu Gao, burdened with a stack of documents, now turned into a laborer, and Hu Li, casually strolling by in a flowery shirt.
Despite wearing a distressed expression, Xu Gao’s eyes lit up upon seeing him. Instantly, he recalled the image in the glass shard that he had been wanting to mention but never found the chance. He hinted at it, glancing toward Hu Li.
As soon as Hu Li donned his flowery shirt, he seemed to lose all semblance of work mode. By the time Xu Gao glanced at him, Hu Li had already begun browsing where to have lunch that afternoon. Upon hearing Xu Gao’s words, he casually waved his hand with nonchalance. “That piece was too damaged. It didn’t work after the first use.”
After a while of searching, he finally found a place he wanted to go, hid his phone, and left.
Unable to share fresh gossip, Xu Gao could only nod regretfully, clutching the pile of documents and heading to the office.
Midway, he was called again. Turning, he saw Captain Xu approaching with a phone in hand.
After a brief conversation, exchanging Jiang Yujin’s contact details, Xu Gao left with the pile of documents as if walking on air. He felt elated.
He couldn’t even think of what he, the most stable captain who never took the initiative to communicate with anyone, was thinking about right now.
The truth proved that Captain Xu was a doer who achieved significant things quietly
Once the other maintenance workers finished checking the gas, Jiang Yujin rode his electric scooter home. Collapsing onto his bed, he picked up his phone and noticed a friend request with a meticulous note: “Xu Tonggui,” accompanied by the default software avatar.
Raising an eyebrow, he got to fetch a can of chilled beer from the kitchen fridge, and agreed to the request.
The high schooler, who rarely stayed at home on the weekend, was preparing lunch when he saw him return and immediately reach for a beer. Frowning, the high schooler said, “We’re about to eat.”
Jiang Yujin mumbled an indistinct response while gulping down the alcohol.
The friend request was accepted, and a transfer was promptly received.
Jiang Yujin glanced at his phone while eating. He couldn’t recall the random numbers he had hastily tapped earlier today, but the transferred amount seemed close to what he had mentioned.
He tapped it casually, and the man actually remembered it and actually gave it to him.
“Jingzi,” Jiang Yujin looked up at the high schooler quietly eating across from him, and with a serious tone, said, “In the future, be more cautious in everything. Don’t be deceived by bad people.”
He added, “Especially because we don’t have much money in our household.”
Chen Jing: “…”
Chen Jing: “Okay.”
The meal, paired with chilled beer, made for an especially enjoyable time.
The high schooler, who initially struggled with various adjustments when coming here, had evolved into a proficient cook of home-cooked dishes—a commendable improvement.
It was a rare day where both individuals stayed home.
The next morning, Chen Jing mentioned having plans with friends, while Jiang Yujin woke up at noon, heading downstairs to chat with the barber shop owner, sneaking in some free snacks and drinks.
The news about the detainee 022 escaping and then getting captured again surfaced in the news yesterday. This person’s ability to elude capture for half a day, only to be caught and endure unnecessary trouble, now made their face known nationwide. It was truly a matter of gaining unwanted attention.
This news, rather than merely reporting an event, seemed to subtly warn certain individuals.
The game collapsed, and the dangerous factors that came back were not only the strange species, but also the people inside. Criminals like 022, who belonged to the category of those preferring to operate alone, were part of the challenge. But more broadly, there were also people who preferred operating in groups, cooperating with each other, making them even harder to handle.
The shop had a couple of customers, two middle-aged women who joined in watching the television. Afterward, one of them frowned and remarked, “Why are there so many dangerous people?”
Jiang Yujin nodded in agreement, “Indeed.”
The barber shop owner said nothing.
An aunt said: “Fortunately, no one here has returned from that place, otherwise we would be worried to death every day.”
Jiang Yujin agreed: “Indeed, these people are really scary!”
This person seems to have silently placed himself among the ranks of ordinary people.
The barber shop owner remained silent, casting a strange and faintly disdainful glance at him.