Chapter 31.2 – F City
In an instant, Xu Tonggui from the other side turned his head in their direction, scanning the area before averting his gaze.
Xu Gao, who was walking beside him, held his stomach, completely oblivious to the unusual situation, his eyes scanning each restaurant fiercely.
Every single one was packed.
When his eyes moved to the front of the burger restaurant, he made eye contact with someone.
Jiang Yujin, who was sitting in the shop, did not expect to meet Xu Gao and Xu Tonggui while having a meal.
Xu Gao outside waved at him before striding into the restaurant, but Xu Tonggui remained motionless until Jiang Yujin gestured for him to come in.
The spot where the two high schoolers were sitting was taken by the two members of the SIU.
Seeing these two together for the first time, Jiang Yujin momentarily set aside his phone, curious. “Why are you two together?”
Xu Gao started browsing the menu upon sitting down, visibly escalating in anger at the question.
Today was meant to be his day off. He had plans to spend consecutive hours at an internet cafe with his friends. However, someone reported seeing a strange species firsthand, and as he was nearby, he got temporarily dispatched to handle it. The caller repeatedly emphasized the severity of the strange species, so Xu Tonggui, who was also nearby and off-duty, was also called in.
It turned out to be a false alarm when they arrived. There was nothing unusual at the reported strange species site. The caller was taken to the station for questioning, and they ended up making a pointless trip, coincidentally hitting the lunch rush.
He was genuinely furious, speaking faster than usual.
Jiang Yujin expressed his sympathy, “That’s rough.”
While Xu Gao continued ordering energetically, Xu Tonggui remained passive. Jiang Yujin kindly ordered a kids’ meal for him.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t a student, so he couldn’t receive the panda accessory.
The ordered meal arrived, and Xu Gao, seething with anger, hastily packed everything up as his friend called to ask if he was still going to the internet cafe.
He promptly agreed, quickly stood up, but then recalled that Xu Tonggui was technically his superior. He gave a nod in acknowledgment, said goodbye to him, and then left.
It was evident he treasured his rare day off.
Watching him disappear from sight, Jiang Yujin withdrew his gaze and pushed the kids’ meal towards Xu Tonggui.
Captain Xu still graciously finished his lunch.
No food wasted at noon today. Jiang Yujin nodded in satisfaction, about to leave when he met the gaze of those grey eyes looking at him.
—There was something on the man’s mind.
Slipping his phone into his pocket, Jiang Yujin tilted his head, asking, “Want to take a walk?”
Xu Tonggui nodded.
They said they were going for a walk, but it was more of a stroll around the mall.
Captain Xu indeed had something to say. When Jiang Yujin returned after quickly buying the coffee, Xu Tonggui blurted out, “Am I a tenant or an ex-boyfriend?”
His question was direct, catching Jiang Yujin off guard. He choked on his coffee, coughing several times, his droopy eyelids suddenly lifting.
After patting his chest a few times, he recovered, sipping his coffee to ease his discomfort, not answering but instead asking, “Why ask that?”
Xu Tonggui mentioned hearing it on the day they apprehended Li Ying.
After racking his brain, Jiang Yujin vaguely recalled Li Ying mentioning something about “your ex-boyfriend can really fight” that day.
He hadn’t realized this man overheard it, let alone remembered it.
Without hesitation, Jiang Yujin replied, “That was a bluff I told him. If I had said you were from the SIU, he’d have bolted.”
Xu Tonggui lowered his gaze.
This was the second time this person directly admitted to deceiving others. The first instance was in the house where his fingerprint inexplicably opened the door, and now the second time, both times denying his status as an ex-boyfriend.
His words were a mix of truth and falsehood, perhaps all falsehoods, making it hard to discern what was genuine.
After circling around, the conversation of the rather disingenuous citizen, Jiang, halted midway upon spotting a shooting stall with a bunch of toy guns on display. Pushing the coffee into Xu Tonggui’s hands, he dashed off to negotiate with the owner, paid, and then picked up a toy gun.
He fired five shots, hitting the target twice, a decent performance for an average person. The last shot was probably a stroke of luck, hitting a black and white plush dog.
People around watched, applauding as the toy dog fell off.
Citizen Jiang was a seasoned socialite and didn’t flinch, graciously thanked everyone, took the toy dog, grabbed his coffee, and shoved it into Xu Tonggui’s arms, smiling.
“It looks like you. Consider it a gift.”
After handing over the toy, he took a step back.
“The rent’s been paid, and you’re not my ex-boyfriend.”
“You don’t have to keep dwelling on the past. If you can’t remember, don’t force it,” he chuckled. “We only live once; isn’t it better to look forward?”
After finishing his statement, Jiang Yujin turned and waved. “Soap operas at noon—” Coughing slightly in the man’s direction, he continued, “I’ve got something to attend to. I’ll take off now.”
He walked away, casual and relaxed in his demeanor.
It seemed like he was truly living by his words, moving forward without hesitation.
Xu Tonggui stood there for a moment, then his phone rang in his pocket. He diverted his attention, took out his phone, and answered it.
“Sorry for contacting you during your break, but recently in F City…”
Jiang Yujin returned to watch his noon soap opera.
He got back quickly, only realizing as he laid on the sofa that he had finished the soap opera yesterday; today’s program was a teenage romance series. With a big senior high schooler in his care, and being a parent who didn’t support early relationships, he turned off the TV and played Xiaoxiaole instead.
By evening, Chen Jing, who had studied all afternoon, and Xiao Pang, who had napped all afternoon, emerged from their rooms. They found Jiang Yujin sprawled on the couch, phone on the floor, sleeping deeply and peacefully.
The deeply sleeping adult was awakened during dinner. At the table were three people, two of them wearing aprons.
Even Xiao Pang was surprised at himself, somehow inexplicably joining in with the household chores, not feeling that anything was amiss.
The adult man had initially been slumped in exhaustion when he sat at the table, but as soon as he picked up his chopsticks, he became lively and ate heartily.
During dinner, Chen Jing brought up the plan to go to F City after the end of their exams.
“F City?” Jiang Yujin glanced up. “That’s quite far.”
Chen Jing nodded, saying no more, waiting quietly.
Jiang Yujin remained silent, picking up his phone.
This was the first time he didn’t immediately agree.
Xiao Pang glanced at Chen Jing, who was quietly observing the person on the phone.
After a while, Jiang Yujin looked up and said, “Hold on, I’ll search for some specialties from F City.”
Chen Jing sighed in relief, silently.
Leading up to the exam week, what seemed like last-minute cramming was actually a well-laid plan to go to F City. Xiao Pang, with his almost untouched school bag, left.
Time flew during the exams. Jiang Yujin watched as the high schooler came back and left every day, carrying piles of books. He woke up one noon to see the high schooler already prepared with a backpack, having finished the exams.
Half-awake, he vaguely remembered the high schooler mentioning a trip to a certain city a while ago.
He weakly waved, muttering, “Don’t forget to bring back some local specialties,” before letting his hand drop and drifting back to sleep.
The high schooler glanced at him, then at the glaring sun, finally pulling the curtains, closing the door, and leaving.
Jiang Yujin was eventually awakened by the vibration of his phone.
He sat up from the couch, feeling a bit parched. He got up to the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water, not checking the caller ID and directly answered the phone.
On the other end was the voice of Shi Bu, sounding quite excited.
“I’m on a business trip to F City today. This is my first free trip ever!”
The tone resembled that of a primary school student on a field trip.
Jiang Yujin drank from the glass of water, casually responding, “That’s great.”
As he sipped the water, he paused and asked, “Where?”
Shi Bu obediently replied, “F City.”
A sudden twitch at the corner of his eye, an inexplicable sense of foreboding washed over Jiang Yujin. Setting the glass down, he uttered slowly, “If you encounter a tall, good-looking high schooler in F City, do not talk to him. Do you understand?”
Even though he didn’t know why he said that, he was sure he had his reasons. Shi Bu was always good at following instructions and earnestly replied, “Okay.”
Jiang Yujin hung up the call, paused for a moment, poured another glass of water, and slowly eased his worries.
After ending the call, Shi Bu turned to observe the scenery around him, one he had never seen before. The weather was excellent today; the sky was blue, and clouds drifted slowly from above the tall buildings. He rolled down the car window and gazed upward; his entire pupils were filled with the blue sky and white clouds.
The driver in front glanced at the rearview mirror and reminded him, “Don’t stick your head or hand out of the window.”
Shi Bu withdrew his head but kept his eyes fixed outside.
He had been looking at the view for more than an hour now. The driver asked, “Haven’t you ever seen the sky before?”
The question was not malicious, just sheer curiosity.
Shi Bu replied, “It’s been years since I’ve seen it like this.”
After staring at red or dark spaces for so long, he had almost forgotten that the sky used to be blue.
The driver thought he meant that he hadn’t seen such a clean sky for a long time and began praising the air quality in the area.
While listening to the driver, Shi Bu casually took a photo of the roadside and sent it to a dear friend. However, his phone shook, indicating low battery.
When Jiang Yujin received the photo, he was still debating whether to go out for food or settle for a meal at home. Upon hearing the notification, he picked up the phone.
It was an ordinary roadside photo. He glanced at it and then looked away. Later, he felt something was wrong and glanced at it again.
Under a tree by the roadside, there was a familiar figure holding a walkie-talkie.
His heart raced. Jiang Yujin instinctively grabbed a shirt from the couch, heading out while dialing the person who sent the photo.
The other side was switched off.