Potential triggers for the entire novel:
Domestic abuse, sexual assault, suicide, nonconsensual sex (main cp).
T97 mentions this is an experimental work. Read @ your own risk.
If any of the above are landmines for you, please stop reading now.
“You’d better say something.” Shi Shanyan tossed away the wrecked communicator. His fingers had gone numb from the electric currents of the restraint locks. “So that I can feel your gratitude.”
“Thank you very much.” Yan Junxun said as he opened the door and took a few steps down the stairs.
“Yeah.” Shi Shanyan turned to lean against the side of the door and watched as Yan Junxun walked towards his sports car. “You’re quite the enthusiastic one.”
Yan Junxun pulled the car door open and asked the automotive-mounted system inside, “Are you okay?”
The silence in the car persisted for a while before the little orange dragon lit up and answered, “At your service.”
LIANYIN @ CANGJI.NET
“Reboot the indoor system and wake Panda up.”
The little orange dragon’s light board lit up, and a red X appeared on it. It said, “Serial no. 7-001 is currently under review. A Black Panther’s special command is required for a system reboot. Panda has already entered hibernation mode. Recommended replacing with Artemis to lead the overall situation. Does Mr. Yan need me to call up Artemis for him?”
A few drops of rain struck Yan Junxun’s back. He said, “No. Delete the application record for serial no. 7-001.”
“Noted.” The little orange dragon continued to say, “Persistent malicious attacks detected. Request to shut down all message channels temporarily in order to ensure Mr. Yan’s safety.”
Yan Junxun looked at the little orange dragon and said, “You may sleep.”
“See you tomorrow.” The little orange dragon’s light board revealed a smiling face emoji as it said softly, “I also think I need a break…”
The lights on the onboard system went out.
The night sky was stuffed full of dark clouds, and the rain intensified. Yan Junxun stared blankly into the silent car interior for a while until his back was soaked. Only then did he straighten up and closed the door.
“You have to let others know that you’re angry.” Shi Shanyan’s voice, which was muffled by the rain, sounded faint.
“You let Fu Chenghui know that you’re angry.” Yan Junxun turned back to look at Shi Shanyan. “And what did he give you?”
“Too many. Let me think.” Shi Shanyan put on a thoughtful expression and said, “He confiscated my gun, injected me with a sedative, put the restraint lock on me, and finally implanted a Data Positioning Chip in me. How exciting. I can’t even begin to count them all.”
Yan Junxun’s clothes were drenched through by the rain. He raised his hand to touch the roof of the car. “That doesn’t sound like anything good.”
“But that seemed like a warning to stay away from me, and no one wanted to engage in small talks with me again. I got quiet and peace.” Shi Shanyan held on to the door frame with one hand, with the ring of the restraint lock gripping tightly into his wrist. “Don’t you sometimes find it annoying to interact with them too? You have to keep showing consideration for their fragile hearts, just like how you treated Jiang Lian. Actually, you should have just told Jiang Lian outright that you don’t want to be involved in all these cases. That they affect your life…” Shi Shanyan paused for a moment before continuing slyly, “And your sleep.”
Yan Junxun found this rain timely, for it put a distance between him and Shi Shanyan. Shi Shanyan’s observational powers were terrifying—it made one’s hair stand on end. Perhaps the others also felt the same under Yan Junxun’s gaze.
Shi Shanyan would zoom in on all the details. His train of thought ran pretty fast too, as Yan Junxun learned from experience on the spot. Shi Shanyan kept tossing out hints without ever participating in any of these, as if he was merely watching a movie during a holiday and throwing out spoiler keywords about the ending to Yan Junxun in passing. But the scary thing was that he was asleep the entire time, yet he made no mistakes about those keywords.
“It’s as if you are still a pup.” Shi Shanyan was very sensitive to the smells in the room. “Panda wants to give you the best care he can give. Was it because Artemis’s disappearance hurt you?”
“This has nothing to do with you.” Yan Junxun said with indifference.
“Don’t say that.” Shi Shanyan was like a patient teacher. “You have to talk to someone. If you tell Jiang Lian that you are still healing, then he will be sure to report it as it is to Fu Chenghui. Are you afraid of Fu Chenghui?”
“I’m not afraid.” Yan Junxun stared at Shi Shanyan, letting the rainwater slide across the center of his forehead. “Don’t keep shifting the topic to me, Dr. Psychology. Why not tell me more about your psychological process? Has the constant surveillance at the Guangtong Penitentiary Zone 01 finally drove you insane? From the moment you stepped into Tingbo District, you’ve been like a scoundrel, always on the lookout for the chance to stir up trouble.”
“That’s right. I’m indeed thinking of creating some trouble.” Shi Shanyan liked to admit his misconduct, because he did not think it was misconduct at all. “Did my treatment make you feel envious? I can introduce you to my incarceration cell. 7-001 is worthy of such a treatment. You surprised everyone when you participated in the Black Panther’s test, right? 7-001, a perfect honor; you did much better than me in the written test.” Shi Shanyan was a little displeased when he spoke to this point. “To think you got all those long-winded reading topics right. Did Artemis take you through the questions every day here?”
Yan Junxun felt that Shi Shanyan was sick in the head, and very sick at that. He did not know how to dodge the topic at all; he was used to playing it straight, quickly cutting to the chase, then skirting it nonchalantly—he did not care at all how others felt about these matters. Just like now, for instance. His interest shifted from the Black Panther test back to Artemis again as he asked with skepticism, “Will the system take you out to play?”
Yan Junxun stepped up the stairs and pressed in towards Shi Shanyan, close enough for the rainwater on his body to splatter onto Shi Shanyan’s sturdy chest. He said defiantly and irritably, “None of your business.”
“Don’t get angry, and don’t get all fierce on me.” Shi Shanyan’s eyes locked onto the tips of Yan Junxun’s damp hair. He lowered his voice into what sounded like a whisper. “We are partners and allies to boot. Fu Chenghui used Artemis to make you work for him. Although I don’t know why he would put you in Tingbo District, you’ve been working for them for a very long time. Yet, he never mentioned Artemis again. Am I right?”
The eaves shielded them from the rain, and Shi Shanyan’s shadow shrouded Yan Junxun.
“Black Panther’s eyes are all over your indoor system. We are all always under constant surveillance.”
The curtain of rain isolated them from everything else. The tongues of flame rising from the coke factories’ massive chimneys turned into eyes in the black night. All Yan Junxun could hear in his ears was Shi Shanyan’s voice. The latter no longer spoke as quickly, as if he was whispering to Yan Junxun.
Puffs of warm air brushed across Yan Junxun’s ears. This was clearly the home he was familiar with, but at the moment, it had been occupied by Shi Shanyan. Shi Shanyan exuded the air of someone who was a pain to deal with. Yet, he calmed Yan Junxun down.
Being exposed was nothing. What else could be even more frightening than Shi Shanyan?
“I can do you a few small favors.” Shi Shanyan lowered his head slightly. “Right now, while there’s no one watching. As long as you say the word, I’ll help you.”
The look in Shi Shanyan’s eyes was so sincere that Yan Junxun almost believed him. But then, he understood Shi Shanyan way more than Shi Shanyan thought he did—Shi Shanyan’s interest rate was high, and his way of asking for something in return was also different from the common guy. No one knew what he would do, but he would definitely get what he wanted.
Yan Junxun suddenly burst out laughing, and his tear mole quivered accordingly. He said softly, “Are you afraid of Fu Chenghui? Why don’t you tell me, and I’ll take care of him for you?”
Shi Shanyan stared at Yan Junxun. All of a sudden, Yan Junxun was happy. He stood where he was and laughed out loud as he raised his hand to pat Shi Shanyan on his chest as if to comfort him.
“You’re really no fun too.”
◈ ◈ ◈
Liu Chen was in his own office trying to contact MaySnow. This person gave him Yan Junxun’s information, but made no mention of Black Panther. The other party’s ID communicator-navigator connected, but no one picked up the call. Liu Chen felt that he had been made a fool of. Before he could dial again, his own ID communicator-navigator rang.
The digits of the unfamiliar number that had come calling were clear, with the Black Panther’s special digit of “7” standing in the first spot.
LIANYIN @ CANGJI.NET
Liu Chen did not want to answer, but he had no choice but to answer.
“We’d like you to stop updating your homepage temporarily.” The person on the other line went straight to the point and asked politely, “Would that be convenient?”
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