Sunset Boulevard - Chap 5
The safe house was in a small building in the southwest of the city, close to the port of Bangkok.
During most of the time when Zhang Jue was out, Chen Boqiao sat in an armchair by the window of the safe house, watching the blurry image of the sun outside the screened window gradually sinking; while in another small part of the time, he talked to Pei Shu on the phone.
Pei Shu’s father, Pei Shaoyong, was once a member of Zhaohua Energy’s board of directors. He resigned from Zhaohua Energy’s management a few years ago and took his wife to settle in a small vassal country in the north of the Asian League.
It was rumored that Pei Shaoyong was removed from the group forcibly and his power had been seized because of a disagreement with Chairman Chen Zhaoyan, but it was just that and nothing more.
Pei Shaoyong was a seed buried in the north of the Asian League by the Chen family. He had been waiting for the right time to take root and sprout, expanding the corporate empire Chen Zhaoyan had built.
Chen Boqiao didn’t know when Zhang Jue would come back from the pet hospital, so he made the long story short and told Pei Shu about the situation in the simplest words.
It was a critical situation, as Chen Boqiao was rescued suddenly and unexpectedly. Pei Shu did not dare to be careless and brought several consultants together into their meeting.
After listening to Chen Boqiao, several people discussed in low voices for a few minutes and quickly came up with what they thought was the best plan for the situation at the moment. Pei Shu relayed it to Chen Boqiao.
Pei Shu hesitated uncharacteristically, with a more serious tone than usual, which made Chen Boqiao feel that the consultants handpicked by his father had not reached any conclusions that would sit right with the average morally upright person.
“You may not like their plan,” Pei Shu cautioned hesitantly.
Chen Boqiao is not surprised, “Just tell me.”
“The son of a politician of the New Independent Republic with a team of mercenaries of the highest level is taking you across the border of TIS by smuggling. All the personnel and stages in this plan will become evidence of your treason if anyone knew about it. It’ll be a stain that cannot be washed away, no matter how you defend yourself,” Pei Shu said, “For you, the entire rescue is hazardous and bound to bite back later. You must admit this.”
Hearing this, Chen Boqiao had a vague idea of what the plan was going to be about.
It was not just uncomfortable, but downright shameless and unscrupulous, but he didn’t interrupt Pei Shu.
“But what if you turn rescue into hijacking?” Pei Shu suggested slowly.
“Zhang Jue wants you to open a genetic lock for him. As you said, there must be some kind of defect in his body. What if we let this be his goal instead?”
“Assuming that Zhang Jue needs the medicine and needs to open the genetic lock of the prototype, with you as the only descendant of the chairman, you’ve become the only person who could do this. You, who have been sentenced to death by the Asian League. In order to obtain whatever it is he needs, Zhang Jue kidnapped you. This is entirely logical.”
“In addition, Zhang Jue’s father, as a politician of the New Independent Republic, also participated in this hijacking. That could instead wash away your suspicion of treason. If you have joined forces with North America, why would they bother spending so much time——”
“Pei Shu,” Chen Boqiao interrupted him, “That’s enough.”
Pei Shu stopped.
Chen Boqiao opened the screened window a little and looked at the ships passing by the port in the distance, the neatly arranged containers on the shore looked like Lego blocks. On the other side of the phone, Pei Shu was breathing softly.
On the way to TIS, Zhang Jue had said to Chen Boqiao, “You are a hero.”
Chen Boqiao did not respond back then.
The teenager who enlisted in the Asian League Military Academy despite his father’s fierce opposition after having just graduated from Roche Middle School had wanted to be a hero.
The man on a mission for the first time ever had wanted to be a hero.
The twenty-year-old soldier who was shot in an ambush and received the Vice Minister’s commendation, thought he would become a hero.
But that was a long time ago.
It’d been so long since then that Chen Boqiao couldn’t remember whether or not the person who was naive and idealistic was himself or someone else.
Of course, even if he was not a hero, Chen Boqiao refused to be so cowardly and pathetic.
After a while, Pei Shu compromised and stated, “I told you, you won’t like it,” but he tried to persuade him bitterly, “But this is the best plan. No one forced Zhang Jue to make such a mess, shouldn’t he take responsibility?”
“Pei Shu,” Chen Boqiao snapped, “it is quite a mess, but I’m not that cruel.”
Perhaps because Chen Boqiao’s tone was too harsh, Pei Shu could not continue with his calm facade, “You say you’re not cruel, and yet you destroyed his medicine?”
Chen Boqiao stopped speaking.
Zhang Jue is probably the only person in the world who would believe that it was an accident. He admitted that he was overly curious and did not consider the consequences, and he acted rashly.
After the conversation reached a stalemate, Pei Shu took the lead to break the silence. He kept his opinions to himself and said flatly, “Forget it. If you don’t like this plan, what are you going to do?”
Chen Boqiao responded, “I will board the boat with him, and you will lure in the people from the Asian League, and then get Zhang Jue out. Since it can be used as evidence of my treason, it could also just be framing me.”
The consultants communicated for a while and thought that Chen Boqiao’s more complicated proposal was not impossible to execute, and began to prepare for the new plan.
Hanging up the phone, Chen Boqiao continued to stare out the window.
At a quarter past four in the afternoon, the door opened.
Zhang Jue carried two bags in his hand and walked in. He put one of them on the dining table and said to Chen Boqiao with a blank expression on his face, “I bought dinner, I don’t know if it will suit your taste. It should be better than yesterday’s sandwiches.”
He put another tote bag on the ground, took out a small bag from it, approached Chen Boqiao, and stuffed the thing into Chen Boqiao’s arms, “You can have this.”
Chen Boqiao looked down at the bag and opened it, revealing a plush toy cat. He found that it looked a bit like the little limping kitten Zhang Jue sent away, which made the situation somewhat comedic.
He held the cat’s leg and asked Zhang Jue, “Where did you find this?”
“At the door of the hospital,” Zhang Jue lowered his head and focused his eyes between Chen Boqiao’s hand and the doll. After a few seconds, he asked in a low voice, “Do you like it?”
Chen Boqiao suspected that Zhang Jue had no idea that normal people would not give an adult Alpha male a plush cat doll as a gift. He squished the doll’s soft belly for a while, and told a white lie out of kindness, “Thanks, I like it a lot.”
Zhang Jue raised his head slightly and blinked at Chen Boqiao.
The corners of Zhang Jue’s eyes were slightly tilted upwards, his eyes were clear and bright, with a nice shape to it, and the lower eyelashes were very long. Suddenly, Chen Boqiao realized that Zhang Jue was a little better than average looking, but because of his gloomy temperament and lack of effort in presenting himself, no one noticed that he actually had a pretty face.
After brief eye contact, Zhang Jue queried Chen Boqiao again, “Really?” He closed his mouth tightly as soon as he finished speaking, as if Chen Boqiao would not hear his embarrassing question if he closed his mouth fast enough.
Chen Boqiao smiled at Zhang Jue, and lied to Zhang Jue casually, “Really.”
Zhang Jue pursed his lips, and while taking out the food in the takeaway bag, he told Chen Boqiao, “I don’t give gifts a lot, so I’m not good at picking them.” Perhaps because he really believed that Chen Boqiao liked the toy, Zhang Jue said more than usual. He opened the takeaway box, revealing their dinner, and said, “The boat leaves at 8 o’clock, and the person who’s picking us up will arrive at 7 o’clock. We’ll be taking a cargo ship so the conditions are still not great. Just bear with it for now. When we get to the NIR, it will be much better.”
Chen Boqiao watched Zhang Jue set the table before sitting down at the table.
The two ate dinner quietly while facing a pile of takeout boxes. Suddenly, something in Zhang Jue’s pocket vibrated. He put down his chopsticks and took out a mobile phone that Chen Boqiao had not seen him use before. The phone model was very new, so it was most likely Zhang Jue’s personal phone. Zhang Jue lowered his head and glanced, then turned the phone screen to Chen Boqiao.
“The surgery is happening tomorrow.”
Chen Boqiao looked up and saw a photo of the kitten.
The sender of the photo was named Receptionist Wen, and in the time Zhang Jue was showing Chen Boqiao the photo, Receptionist Wen had sent several more messages to inform Zhang Jue of the kitten’s health conditions and its day in the hospital, with a tone that was very friendly and the messages were peppered with many cute emojis.
Chen Boqiao originally thought that Zhang Jue was the type that was not good at socializing at all. However, seeing how enthusiastic the receptionist was to Zhang Jue, it did not seem to be the case.
“Is it one of the staff from the hospital?” Chen Boqiao asked.
“Yeah.” Zhang Jue took it back and looked at it. He quickly replied to the messages, then turned off his phone, and continued to eat his dinner.
Zhang Jue was weird, and he fascinated Chen Boqiao.
Chen Boqiao had no experience with romantic relationships, he had no chance to fall in love, nor was he interested in getting to know his admirers, leaving his love life lackluster. Chen Boqiao had always believed that others’ admiration of him was born out of boring conformity. What they liked was actually his appearance, his family background, or his excellent resume.
Pheromones and hormones are the most flitting and most unreliable things. Everyone was accustomed to fending for themselves, and no one was as stupid as Zhang Jue, to do so much for a man he barely knew.
No one else would secretly keep the broken locator taken from someone else’s flesh.
Chen Boqiao looked at Zhang Jue quietly and called him, “Zhang Jue.”
Zhang Jue raised his head, with some confusion in his eyes, “What’s the matter?”
Chen Boqiao almost wanted to ask, why had Zhang Jue come all the way to the Asian League to get himself involved. He and Zhang Jue had not even spoken to each other much in their few years spent as classmates.
But in the end Chen Boqiao said, “It’s nothing.”
“Okay,” Zhang Jue responded, lowering his head demurely.