Jian Yao is in front of his ‘body’.
They are in a morgue that belongs to the Ministry of Public Security. A room with dull grey walls. A lifeless and cold room.
Though she thinks she is prepared, she is still repelled by the sight.
His body burnt into an unrecognisable charred corpse. The only conclusions they can make of the remains are that he is very tall, not too thin, but not fat either, which fits Yin Ziqi’s description of him.
According to the police, his car went off the cliff during a high speed pursuit with the police. There was an explosion at the bottom of the hill.
“Is that ‘him’?” Jian Yao asks Bo Jinyan.
During the hot summer days, Bo Jinyan usually wears a white s.h.i.+rt and pant without his jacket. But today, he has his full suit on. Even his shoes are nicely polished. It’s a sign of respect for meeting someone for the first time, even though he’s no longer alive.
He does not answer Jian Yao’s question. Instead, he looks at the body for a few seconds, then he greets ‘him with a small smile’: “Hi.”
His voice is mellow and soft.
Jian Yao is used to his unusual behaviour. But others are perplexed: “You know this guy?”
Before they get an answer, Bo Jinyan has walked out of the room.
The conference room of the Ministry of Public Security.
It’s a meeting between the representatives from China and the FBI from the US. Bo Jinyan looks like a different person from the charmer who called her “Your Majesty” yesterday. Today, he is a professional with a sharp mind and distinguished capability.
Jian Yao sits quietly at the back with a few other supporting staff members.
One the side of the round table sits the reps from FBI. They share the results of the DNA testings: “We have successfully identified the deceased.”
They project a picture of an Asian man on the screen. He is wearing a suit. He looks like he is in his late twenties.
“Jiang Hao. American born Chinese. IT engineer.” FBI rep looks at Bo Jinyan: “Simon, you should be familiar with who he is.”
Everyone is surprised by the statement.
Bo Jinyan replies with a mocking tone: “What an honour - He’s one of the survivors I helped rescued from Flower Cannibal No.1.”
Jiang Ho fits the profile drew up by the FBI. The physical attributes, his nationality, what he was wearing at the time of death (a match to Yin Ziti’s descriptions)… He is a rich and intelligent expat that returned to China about 6 months ago. He had the means to stalk Bo Jinyan, and the ability to leave the clues at the crime scene.
What is his motive?
The FBI have come up with two explanations:
1. Post traumatic stress disorder prevented him from living a normal life. The mental illness turned him into an abuser.
2. Perhaps he was an accomplice of the Flower Cannibal from the start. He pretended to be one of the victims to escape from being arrested when the Flower Cannibal was captured by Bo Jinyan and the FBI.
At the end of the meeting, Jian Yao walks up to Bo Jinyan. He is still standing by the table, reading the doc.u.ment that contains information about Jiang Ho.
One of the FBI investigators comes over to Bo Jinyan: “Simon, good job.” He gives Bo Jinyan a handshake.
They said they owe the success of this operation to Bo Jinyan. He successfully set a trap for Jiang Ho to step into. Without his help, they would not be able to identify him so quickly.
Jian Yao is happy for Bo Jinyan too. But Bo Jinyan just hangs a faint smile on his face. He does not show any signs of excitement, or relieve.
When they leave the Ministry of Public Security, it’s past lunch time.
Bo Jinyan is very quiet. Jian Yao asks: “So, case closed? “ She heard the FBI investigators discussing about booking their air ticket to go home.
Bo Jinyan: “Yes. Case closed…at least officially.”
There seems to be more to his sentence. Jian Yao asks: “Are you saying Jiang Ho is not the person we are looking for?”
Bo Jinyan answers: “I don’t know.”
That’s true. His death is too sudden. It’s hard to believe that it’s all over. Just like that.
Bo Jinyan gives a smile: “Well, time will tell. If he is still alive, he will come back, won’t he?”
Night. The moon is s.h.i.+ning brightly in a cloudless and clear sky.
Jian Yao is in Bo Jinyan’s apartment. She is reading a book in his study.
Since she has made up her mind to ‘follow his footsteps’, she is not losing any time to upskill herself.
However, she is only ‘following his footsteps’ in the area of work. But in the area of love…
How will she know what’s really in his mind?
“Why are you staring at me?” He asks without even lifting his head. He is reading a book in the other corner of the room. He seemed to be focusing on his reading. How did he know she was staring at him?
Jian Yao blushes and answers: “Mmm… just observing.” After all, she is reading a book on behavioural evidence.
Bo Jinyan puts down the book he is reading. He looks into her eyes: “You can move into my apartment. You can stay in the study.”
Jian Yao: “… I am not going to move in with you.”
Bo Jinyan gives a slight frown: “My a.s.sistant should be by my side 24 hours a day.”
Jian Yao is used to his self centred and unreasonable requests by now. She simply answers him: “I like to have my own s.p.a.ce. Just call me when you need me.”
He decides to drop the subject, but he is not happy that he is ‘rejected’ again. He gets up, loosens his tie and gets ready for a shower.
Just as he steps out of the study, he hears Jian Yao says: “Besides… when I have a boyfriend… in the future… I will be living with him, right? I can’t be at your side 24/7.”
Bo Jinyan stops and turns around to look at her. His icy gaze is making her slightly uneasy.
“Whatever…” He says in such a small voice that it’s almost not audible. Then he walks off.
Jian Yao can hear the ‘bang’ of his bedroom door.
Jian Yao can’t help but laugh. He started it by first asking her to find a boyfriend (after the accidental kiss). Now he can try and imagine what life can be like if she does have a boyfriend!
Jian Yao reads for a little longer. Then she remembers about what happened in the morning. She stands up and walks over to the book shelves. She pulls out the box that labelled “California Flower Cannibal”.
It’s the biggest of all the case boxes. She puts the box carefully on the table and takes out the content inside. It has a big folder inside, There are doc.u.ments that explain why it was such a difficult case to solve. There was no pattern to how he chose his victims. People of all ages, from different backgrounds and ethnicity can end up being his victim. Although he came from a broken family. He had his fortune from investing in the stock market. His wealth made it easier for him to conceal his crime.
Then there’s information on all the victims. She picks up a few files randomly. There are some photos which are quite gruesome. She quickly moves to the next file. She sees a familiar name. Simon Bo, Bo Jinyan.
Bo Jinyan comes out from his shower. His hair is still wet. But he doesn't take too much notice. He is thinking about what Jian Yao said earlier. Obviously, he is less important than some ordinary guy that doesn’t even exist yet. He is not happy about that.
He walks out to the lounge. Jian Yao also walks out from the study. She has the file in her hand. His name is on the cover of the file.
Bo Jinyan sits down on the sofa and turns on the TV. He is deliberately ignoring Jian Yao.
After a while, he feels someone sitting next to him. Jian Yao is pulling his sleeve. He turns around, and sees her beautiful eyes: “Can I have a look at your scars?”
“No woman has seen my body before.” He answers. He continues to watch TV.
“But it’s important.” Jian Yao pleads with him,” I am your a.s.sistant, and it is related to the case. I have the right to inspect.”
Bo Jinyan looks at her. He starts to unb.u.t.ton his top. His eyes are still looking at the TV.
He takes off his top. The sight of his broad shoulders and muscular body is before her, she looks down to the middle of his sleek chest.
Below the chest, close to the heart, is a dark red scar. Further down, there’s another long, slightly more shallow scar that lines his abdomen.
There’s less scars in the front of his body compared to the back. But they look like wounds that implied life threatening injuries.
The images and words from the file she is holding in her hand flashes through her mind. In the file, it was recorded that “Simon disappeared for six months. When he was recovered, he was severely wounded, and suffering from hypovolemia and early signs of multiple organ failures. He was unconscious and cared for in the intensive ward for four days. The FBI eventually captured the Flower Cannibal based on information provided by Simon. He helped saved twelve other victims that were in captive with him at the time.”
Jian Yao looks at him. He never mentioned about his past experiences. Tears form in the corner of her eyes.
“Have you seen enough?” He asks in a cold tone.
Jian Yao ignores the question. She reaches her hand out to touch the scar on his chest. The cold rugged surface is warmed by her finger tips.
How deep is the wound? How much pain did he suffer?
Suddenly, she feels her hand is grabbed by his.
She looks at his hand, then gradually move her gaze up to his face. Is he…blus.h.i.+ng?
She hears him say: “It’s ticklish. Don’t touch my scars.”
Jian Yao thought she could hold her tears in. But when he said that, she can’t help but smile. And the tears that she tried so hard to contain escapes down past her cheeks.
Bo Jinyan clearly does not expect her to cry either. He is stunned. He looks at her.
Jian Yao is a little embarra.s.sed. She turns around to grab some tissues to wipe her tears.
“If I knew it would make you cry, I would never have shown you.” Bo Jinyan says while b.u.t.toning up his s.h.i.+rt.
More tears stream down her face. Such a tender statement…
She takes more tissues. She knows he is still staring at her: “Don’t look at me. Watch your TV program!” she says to him.
“Ok.” He mutters and goes back to watching TV.
She sits down next to him. Her red eyes are still wet. She sniffles and clears her noses and throat. Phew…Ok…
Then she feels some weight on her shoulders. Bo Jinyan has put his arm around her.
Her whole body stiffens as he comes closer towards her.
“Don’t cry.” He says in a soft voice.
The pictures and sounds from the TV continues. There are no other movements in the lounge. Bo Jinyan’s hand is still draped over her shoulders. She can smell the fresh clean scent of soap that lingers on his body after his shower, and his warmth that’s pa.s.sed on to her because of their closeness.
How much time has gone by? Half an hour? Fifteen minutes? No one knows. No one is counting… The mobile phone in Bo Jinyan’s pocket buzzes.
He retrieves his arm that was around her shoulders. Jian Yao gives a small quick stretch. She wished the phone never ringed and she could remain in his arms forever…
He didn’t catch the disappointment in her eyes. He looks at the caller ID, and answers: “Hi, Fu Ziyu.”
Fu Ziyu is asking Bo Jinyan about Jiang Hao. Jian Yao decides it’s time for her to go back. She takes the file to return it to the study.
As she walks past Bo Jinyan, she says to him: “I’m going.”
Bo Jinyan looks up: “Ok, bye.”
On the other end of the line, Fu Ziyu says: “It’s late. Jian Yao is still there?”
“Oh, she was crying just now. I was soothing (comforting?) her.” Bo Jinyan says it like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
(Note from TB: Re: translation for ‘soothe’ - The word used here in chinese is 哄, which is the same word Bo Jinyan used when he deboned the fish for Jian Yao. 哄 can be used in many ways, like coax, pamper, soothe. It has connotations of intimacy :) )
Jian Yao is extremely embarra.s.sed: “You are not allowed to tell him!”
After Jian Yao returns to her apartment. She washes up, gets changed into her pyjamas and lies on her comfortable bed.
It’s late at night. She looks at the ceiling for a while. Then she sits up and walks to her handbag. She takes out a photo. A photo she made a copy in Bo Jinyan’s study.
It’s a photo of Bo Jinyan. He’s lying in a cave. He is lying on the ground. She couldn’t tell what the colour of his s.h.i.+rt is, because it’s stained with blood. His handsome face is pale. His eyes are shut. He is lying unconscious, next to a pool of blood.
Jian Yao looks at the photo for a long time. Then she gives a big sigh. She holds the photo close to her lips and gently kisses Bo Jinyan’s ‘cheeks’.
Shortly after Jian Yao leaves, Bo Jinyan is also ready to rest.
He takes off his top next to the bed. He looks in the mirror and sees the scars on his body. He thinks about Jian Yao. Her fingers touching his body.
He uses his fingers to touch the same wounds Jian Yao lays her hands on earlier.
It’s not ticklish.
Then why is it ticklish when she touched him?
He remembers her beautiful hand. And the sensation he felt when her fingers touched his skin. It’s like a white feather brus.h.i.+ng past softly and gently.
A woman’s touch.
Something stirs within him. Feels like heat is coming out from within him through the wound.
He stands in front of the mirror for a while.
He heads to the bathroom and takes a cold shower before going to bed.