“He can’t be released from custody due to a pending investigation?” Li Shi Qing coldly repeated.
“After a urination inspection, it was concluded that Xiao Li was not taking the drugs, but there are suspicions that he was dealing and trafficking it.” The person speaking was a highly experience lawyer name Wang Wen Si who has been working together with the gang for quite a long time now. “Individuals who are under a pending investigation are not permitted to be release until further notice.”
“Have you met with him yet?”
“Mr. Zhou, our other lawyer, met with him this morning,” replied Wang Wei Si as he pushed his eyeglasses up. He then gave Li Shi Qing a glance and said, “For the past two years, the neighboring provinces has been extremely strict in their control on drugs trafficking. Anyone caught with or smuggling drugs has been relentlessly pursued and taken down. The authority figures would do their best to get to the heart of the matter and would attempt to capture all the dealers and traffickers in one go. From the look of it, the days ahead for Xiao Li doesn’t look too good.
Li Shi Qing snorted, “What did he say?”
“He said he received it from Lin Yong and didn’t have enough time to handle it properly but at that time, he thought that it wasn’t going to be problem. Who’d imagined that during his ride back on the expressway, he was pulled over and interrogated.” Wang Si Wen paused then went on to say, “But during his interrogation, he insisted that it was purchased in that province and not here. Aside from that, he has absolutely no idea of what’s going on. Hearing it, he was interrogated quite harshly to the point of exhaustion.”
When Li Shi Qing did not say anything, Wang Wen Si gave Yan Ming, who was standing to the side, a glance before continuing to speak. “If we were to take the normal legal procedures, I should be able to fight it so that he would only have to serve three years or less of imprisonment. But in drugs related crimes, the chances of getting a probation is slim to none.” After speaking, he looked at Li Shi Qing whose silence seemed to make him felt a bit weak. Slowly, he said, “I’ll try my best to do what I can. What’s more, Qing Ye, not only do you have a tremendous amount of power in this region, good karma is also on your side, so even if we don’t follow the normal legal procedures, I assumed that it shouldn’t be a huge problem.”
Li Shi Qing nodded his head, “I know. I’ll be troubling you this time. Yan Ming, help me see Mr. Wang out.”
Once Yan Ming properly led Wang Wen Si out, he returned to find Li Shi Qing standing beside the windows, with his brows screwed tightly together as if lost in his own thoughts. He then said, “Uncle, Lin Zi is still kneeling outside, how should I handle this?”
“It doesn’t have anything to do with him.” Li Shi Qing said coldly, “It’s Xiao Li’s own stupidity.”
Yan Ming’s smirk grew into the sound of laughter, “Oh! Uncle, you actually realized this.”
He walked out, told Lin Zi that there was no need to kneel anymore and that he should return home. But thinking that he had made a huge mistake, Lin Zi dared not get up and continued to rest his knee on the floor. Looking at his tough and stocky build yet timid and gutless appearance, Yan Ming laughed to the point that it caused him to give Lin Zi a kick to drive him away. It was only after that did he returned to the room.
Li Shi Qing nevertheless remained in the same position. Noting this, Yan Ming strutted towards the sofa and leaned back against it before leisurely saying, “I’ve truly underestimated him. This bastard brought Han Jia back and sent his younger brother away. With that done, there’s nothing else for him to worry about. He can start to knock down and destroy all the bridges that he had crossed to get this far. The drugs, the territory under Lu Wu’s control…tsk. Uncle, tell me, how long do you think he’s been planning all of this?”
Still somewhat lost in thoughts, Li Shi Qing turned around and gave him a glance. A while later, he finally spoke with an expressionless face. “When his brother went abroad, I thought that he would seize the opportunity to leave the gang.”
“But he didn’t.” Yan Ming seemed to have understood something as he started to laugh heartily, “So you thought that you still had a chance? Did you think that he won’t be able to escape your grasp?”
When Li Shi Qing went to sit on the sofa in front of him. Yan Ming’s laughter vanished and he instead assumed an upright position.
“I even thought that he would always remain in the gang until the day I die or he dies.” Li Shi Qing whispered to himself as if contemplating on something difficult. Then his brows moved in tightly together as he spoke, “What exactly happened? Now, why would he……”
Yan Ming snorted with disdain, then slowly said, “Uncle, I really can’t stand you. Even if he stayed in the gang until he died, let me ask you, when will you put your hands down? It’s because you always spoiled and didn’t want to force him that made him become so undisciplined and out of control like this. How are things now? He even has the nerve to play with you!! From the way I see it, he wants to use those couple of years in prison to cleanse and atone for his past actions.” He leaned in closer and smiled maliciously, “His plan is reasonable. Uncle, you’re 40 years old this year. Xiao Li is definitely thinking, by the time he gets out, you won’t be able to use your ‘buddy’ down there anymore.”
Just as Yan Ming finished that sentence, Li Shi Qing’s cold gaze swept towards him. The feeling of it was unsettling to the point where he could feel a gust of cold air wrapping him up from head to toe, causing him to immediately resume his previous position and fall into silence.
After a long while and Li Shi Qing was still wordless, Yan Ming eventually found it unbearable to sit with such a heavy atmosphere. “Uncle, right now you only have three choices.”
Li Shi Qing’s eyelids rose to look at him. “Tell me.”
“The first is to let me kill him. Even if the neighboring province is Lu Wu’s territory, sending or hiring someone to kill Xiao Li is actually quite simple. Since this is the gang personal matter, Lu Wu won’t care about it.” The corner of Yan Ming’s lips drew back into a smile, “The less people in the gang knows about this the better. So, letting me go is the best option.”
A cold ray of light flashed across Li Shi Qing’s eyes; it was as if he was indeed considering this suggestion.
“The second is to let him go and forget about it.” Yan Ming leaned back into the sofa, “Uncle, you’re not ruthless enough to be heartless anyways. You don’t have the heart to kill him or touch him. After all these years, Xiao Li has also made a lot of contributions to us. You can take it as you’ve lost your mind and put forth some good deeds. Or perhaps, take it as you’re giving him a high wage and just act as if you don’t know him anymore from this day on.”
Li Shi Qing shot him a glance and asked, “And the third?”
“The third choice is my favorite,” said Yan Ming, rubbing his chin which caused a subtle smile that was nearly unnoticeable to appear. “You can press your luck and find Lu Wu. It’s not the first time you’ve yielded to him anyways. Get Xiao Li back out of that province. Break his arms and legs and lock him up in a room. Then you can play with him however you want, however long you want and if you want it to be even more pleasurable, your sister’s son here, still has some drugs rig—”
“What did you just say?” Li Shi Qing interrupted him.
“Uh, you can play however you want.”
“The sentence about Lu Wu.”
Yan Ming thought for a moment, “I said, you can press your luck and find Lu Wu. It’s not the first time you’ve yielded to him anyways.”
Li Shi Qing’s brows knitted together again before he gloomily muttered some words to himself. Then he loudly called for one of his subordinate to come over, instructed him to drive the car over and prepare a large sum of money as bribery.
Without warning, Li Shi Qing got up and gave Yan Ming another glance. “Help me set up a meeting with Sun Tingzhang . Rely on his reputation to get in touch with Lu Wu.”
Originally, Sun Ze Yu worked in the Ministry of Public Security department in the nearby province. At that time, he had always collaborated with Lu Wu, then after he was promoted and became Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. Lu Wu, in turn, has never forgotten his old friend and benefactor, and would personally visit his home to express his gratitude as well as enhance their connection.
In regards to Sun Ze Yu, Li Shi Qing has always admired him because in those days, he was able to single-handed shield Lu Wu and now, he was also able to shield him. Equally matching that, Sun Ze Yu was an expert at seeking Li Shi Qing out to put on airs as well as play bureaucratic games with at him. But this time, when Yan Ming called to make an appointment with him, he was on the contrary exceptionally happy.
“6:30 at Jin Ting, right? Okay,” said Sun Ze Yu carelessly, “No, no, there’s no need to. I have a chauffeur.” He closed the phone and put it away.
Glancing ahead, he picked up the teacup for a sip, before coldly saying to the person sitting in front of him. “A man who is never content is like a snake trying to swallow an elephant. Qi laoshi, there’s no need for me to explain this reasoning to you, is there?”
This small tea room was in one of the city most expensive teahouse. The interior was adorned with an elegant décor that gave off an ancient feeling to it. It was truly a pity that the two guests’ mood spoilt it.
With a gloomy and irascible, Sun Ze Yu refused to speak. Even Qi Xiu Yuan, who sat in front of him, had on a seemingly sick complexion.
“Sun Tingzhang, you’re retiring soon, right?” There was also a touch of deathly coldness in Qi Xiu Yuan’s voice once he spoke, “If you don’t uphold your integrity now, aren’t you afraid you’ll met people that will ridicule you and cause you to lead a miserable and dreary life in your old age?”
Sun Ze Yu gave him a glance and laughed grimly, “Well, okay, okay. You want to blackmail me anyways. There’s just two years left for that. Tell me, what are you up to this time?”
“Looking for happiness.” Qi Xiu Yuan faintly smiled then said, “There’s a man name Xiao Li in this city’s gang faction. Have you heard of him?”
Thinking to himself for a moment, Sun Ze Yu said, “The gang leader of the eastern region. Of course I’ve heard of him.”
Qi Xiu Yuan looked down at the teacup in his hands and slowly said, “This person was recently arrested in the nearby province. I believe you have a way to get him out of there without any injury.”
Sun Ze Yu muttered to himself irresolutely for a moment, then spoke, “That’s not difficult to handle.”
“After he returns, he wants to break away from the underworld. If you personally show up and speak with Li Shi Qing, it shouldn’t be difficult either, right?”
Looking at him questioningly, Sun Ze Yu’s voice became cold again, “Qi laoshi, aren’t your demands too excessive, huh? The rabbit is anxious and it still wants to bite someone? What’s more, do you see me, Sun Ze Yu, as a rabbit that can be slaughtered or taken advantage of?” He sipped a mouthful of tea before continuing on to say in an unhurried manner, “To be safely released or break away from the underworld, I can only manage one. You can choose which one yourself.”
Hearing that, Qi Xiu Yuan also slightly lifted his head. The stern and grim expression that dwelled in his eyes confronted the ones in front of him. He didn’t dodge the coldness that beckoned to overtake him but instead allowed a smile that almost turned into a laughter to graced his lips.
“6:30 at Jin Ting? Li Shi Qing wants to meet up with you, doesn’t he?”
Sun Ze Yu was dumbfounded for a moment.
Qi Xiu Yuan continued to speak, “Li Shi Qing also wants to get Xiao Li out of there. It’s inevitably that he’ll present you with a large sum of money. Sun Tingzhang, you’re a top government official, if you take his money, it’s only natural that you’ll handle things on his behalf. So…” He also drank a mouthful of tea, and said unhurriedly, “If Xiao Li were to be safely released that’s because you’re selling Li Shi Qing’s reputation, not mine. Since you’re selling Li Shi Qing’s reputation, just seize the opportunity to take Xiao Li away from him. On one hand, you don’t owe him any favors, and on the other hand, your secret will also be kept safe. In that way, everything will all be done beautifully at the same time. What’s not good about that?”
Sun Ze Yu looked at him in silence for a long moment before giving a fake laugh, “Qi laoshi, I really don’t understand, why are you recklessly mixing in and getting friendly with this gang instead of properly teaching in the school? Or could it be you actually like Han Jia that much? A few days ago, you asked me to save Han Jia, now you want me to save his lover. If they’re inseparable, that’s certainly doesn’t have anything to do with you.”
“This has nothing to do with you.” Qi Xu Yuan frowned, his gaze sharp and demanding, “It’ll be enough so as long as you remember to make Li Shi Qing let Xiao Li go.”
Making with an attitude that seemed to heed Qi Xiu Yuan no attention, Sun Ze Yu snorted and said, “Then you must also carefully watch over the things in your hand. Don’t forget, I know where your house is.”
Thinking that he doesn’t want to stay there even a moment longer, Qi Xiu Yuan suddenly stood while saying, “If you have the ability to, then come find it.”
But before he could stand firmly, a hand rested on his shoulder. The most unfortunate occurrence was that Sun Ze Yu happened to be a member of the criminal police department (Interpol). The tremendous amount of strength that he used to pressed down on Qi Xiu Yuan’s shoulder made it difficult for him to stand upright. At the same time, his eyes narrowed towards Qi Xiu Yuan, scrutinizing him.
With disdain lacing his voice, he said with a pause in between each word, “You are neither like your father or your mother. How did Qi Feng and Ā Dān give birth to a son like you?”
Qi Xiu Yuan could feel his entire body trembling. He threw Sun Ze Yu’s hand off while showing the most despicable smiling expression he could manage. Then using the same disdainful tone of voice, he counterattacked the man before him.
“You actually have the face to mention these two names?” His ruthless stare stilled the air in the room before he coldly laughed, “You murderer.”
At first, Qi Xiu Yuan had intended to keep a calm demeanor until he walked out, but once midway out, he sidetracked towards the washroom, unable to no longer tolerate the overwhelming sense of nausea. Both his hands immediately flew out to grip the vanity unit as he retched incessantly.
How disgusting, you talked to that murderer. How disgusting, you had to socialize with him. How disgusting, you had to listen to him mention your parents name with that tone of voice while ridiculing you. How disgusting, you had to actually blackmail him. Yeah…that’s right, aren’t you the most disgusting of them all? Aren’t you the one using your parents’ secret to threaten and indirectly kill their murderer? Aren’t you the one using what you had always avoided in the past for your own benefits? Aren’t you the one using your dead parents’ dignity to fight for you own happiness? You’re the one letting that person expose his despicable gaze and look down on you…you’re the one putting your parents’ name to shame……how disgusting. Qi Xiu Yuan, you’re really disgusting!
As Qi Xiu Yuan braced the wall and leaned over the vanity unit, the pain that consumed his stomach and heart attacked him relentlessly.
Xiao Li, Xiao Li……
It seemed that only when he silently repeated this name could his despair be alleviated.
Xiao Li, I only want to protect you. I am so powerless and disgusting…I only want to protect you……have you also done this kind of thing? Have you also done something disgusting like this before while hating yourself? Have you also suffered such pain? Then, you……you wouldn’t hate me, would you?……
As those thoughts swarmed his mind, Qi Xiu Yuan gasped for air. He turned on the faucet and threw cold water on his own face. His emotions intensified to the point that he needed to urgently calm down before he exploded.
Never had he felt, at one moment, so close to Xiao Li, while at the same moment, so far away.
Once he cooled down, tidied himself and walked out, he discovered that his own temperament has changed. Unconsciously, a kind of apathetic and cold stiffness appeared and overtook him. He had seen the same thing appeared on Xiao Li before.
That was, a man deviating from his own values. Deviating from everything.
 Tingzhang – Premier of the State Council of the PRC. It’s his title in the government. In China and many Asian countries, the person(s) work position or career comes after their surname. Just like how Qi Xiu Yuan is Qi laoshi which means Teacher Qi. So, Sun Tingzhang is Sun, head of the PRC gov’t provincial dept. (Premier)