Su Heting started to make his cup of instant noodles. He was full of anticipation for his newly purchased cup of noodles. He bit down on his chopsticks to free his hands and thought of playing a game in these short five minutes. But the communicator-navigator rang. He endured it for a moment, then smashed the screen with his fist to activate it and answered in a muffled tone, “What?”
“The lunatic is still attacking my system.” Yan Junxun sat with the air-conditioner turned on. “Calm him down.”
“Am I his father?” Su Heting took out the chopsticks. “If he listens to me that much, I’d have gotten him to go to the Inspection Bureau and do a tap dance there.”
“You can be his father.” Shi Shanyan leaned forward and turned off the air-conditioner in the car. “Issue him an order, quick. We all want world peace.”
“No, I don’t want to. I’m still young.” Su Heting one-sidedly deleted his memory of his own boasts. He placed the chopsticks on top of the cup to press down the lid and said, “You’ve always been living under surveillance. So what’s the issue with adding one more person now? You’re still being watched in any case.”
“If he enters my system again,” Yan Junxun moved in closer to the communicator and enunciated his words, “then I’ll remove the firewalls for Black Panther’s data and invite him to browse through the complex structure of Black Panther.”
“Go ahead.” Su Heting poked a finger at a corner of the cup noodle lid that had curled up. “It’s none of my business.”
“How much money did you cheat Fu Chenghui of with the excuse ‘equipment repair’ when you were working undercover in the Southern Front Alliance?” Yan Junxun’s expression was serious, yet his tone was very relaxed. “Did you keep a record of them?”
“Say a word more.” Su Heting looked at the screen. “And I’ll let the lunatic find you tonight.”
“Go ahead and try.” Yan Junxun inclined his head and said to the communicator. “Let’s see who dies first.”
Su Heting fell silent. His cup noodles had already been steeping past the time limit. He did not like to work for nothing. Or rather, his principle was to work for a fee. In Black Panther, he was the kind who would be happy enough just to pass; he was not that concerned with ranking. He was cool as long as his serial number lay within his comfort zone. He was used to his own rhythm. Even Fu Chenghui could not spur him into action. Only he himself knew the real extent of his own capabilities.
“No matter how I see it, I’m the one on the losing end in this deal. Stop pretending. You just want me to take the opportunity to patch up your system vulnerabilities for you while kicking the lunatic out of your own private space so that you have a place to play games.” Su Heting lifted the cup noodle lid. “Then you would continue to make me do odd jobs for you. Alright, sure. I agree. But I’ll charge it to your account, Yan Junxun.” He slurped up a few mouthfuls of noodles and said, as if there was nothing out of the extraordinary, “You’d better not return to Guanggui District, or I’ll make you understand just how high my interests are.”
“Sure.” Yan Junxun said, “My wish is that he will never appear where I am.”
Wish. Su Heting drank the soup. You think I’m a fucking wishing well?
“7-001 is under review period.” Shi Shanyan was very interested in the air-conditioner of an outmoded vehicle like this. He prodded it with his fingers, not realizing that his shoulder had already overstepped its boundary and was almost touching Yan Junxun. “You can direct all communication to my serial number.”
“Serial no. 01AE86.” Su Heting threw the chopsticks into the dustbin and started tapping away to key in the data. “Who would have thought of this number? To think Fu Yun actually agreed to it. The prison’s very own racing god…”
Other than 01 which was the mandatory code for Guangtong Prison, the rest of Shi Shanyan’s serial number was amended by his own self.
“He liked it very much.” Shi Shanyan took the liberty of misinterpreting Fu Yun’s exasperation at the time. “He admired it very much too. He was really envious.”
“Passcode.” Su Heting stopped. “What’s your passcode?”
Shi Shanyan gave him a long string of letters and looked offhandedly at Yan Junxun, as though he was checking with Yan Junxun if the passcode was correct.
“You’re truly a pervert.” Su Heting leaned back in disdain and used a finger to key in the code.
Yan Junxun had always been able to meet Shi Shanyan’s gaze in the eyes. He even suspected that Shi Shanyan was watching him every single moment. The sun outside the car was bright, and his body temperature which had just dropped earlier rose once again, giving him the illusion of feeling sticky. Yan Junxun wanted to bathe. He wanted to fill his own broken bathtub with cool water. He did not get to put the brakes on his racing thoughts in time; they engulfed the entire car, shoving all the details back into Yan Junxun’s mind. Details including those about Shi Shanyan.
Yan Junxun felt thirsty. The remaining half bottle of water was just beside his hand, but he could not touch it. He was unable to rein in his thoughts, just like how he was unable to control his mind from replaying the sound of Shi Shanyan swallowing the water.
What the hell?
Yan Junxun averted his gaze and did not let it linger on Shi Shanyan. Needing fresh air to distract himself, he lowered the car window.
“Normal human needs. Don’t tell me you don’t have a single fetish.” The seatbelt was just like the restraint lock that restricted Shi Shanyan’s movements to a certain extent. Otherwise, he would lean in even closer. “You do fine-tune your technique when you’re hiding under your quilt to satisfy your own needs, right?”
Shi Shanyan had a very clear understanding of his own desires. He was a person who would fully follow his own personal preferences. This was different from Yan Junxun. The little genius had not even thought of “sexual fetish” before. The “lovemaking” Yan Junxun spoke of was simply a requirement for reproduction as stated in the textbook.
“The lunatic can’t find this serial number.” Su Heting browsed through the contents of Shi Shanyan’s serial number. Access authority is too high. The entire Tingbo District’s Inspection Bureau won’t be able to check it. You guys can use this serial number to communicate. I guarantee that no one can listen in. It’s of no use even if the lunatic is of the same rank as Fu Chenghui. Man, the lead dogs’1 privileges are truly good.” Su Heting saw this serial number’s missions page. “You can see the contents of everyone’s missions.”
The special forces’ appraisals would only periodically publish the outlines of completed missions, and plenty of highly classified mission information would not appear on Black Panther’s homepage. But not only could Su Heting see the contents of everyone’s missions on Shi Shanyan’s serial number, he could even see the real information of the “team dogs”.
“What’s the…” Su Heting was momentarily stumped for words. He ventured a bold guess. “… Are you sniping disobedient team dogs for Fu Chenghui?”
“Don’t keep using ‘dog’ to describe everyone.” Shi Shanyan retracted his hands. His black eyes were unfathomably deep. He did not answer Su Heting’s question, but continued to look at Yan Junxun. He said, “Are you willing to use my serial number? I’m talking about using it at home. For convenience’s sake, you can give me indoor access privilege. It’s safer this way.”
Don’t listen to his bullshit. Su Heting thought. He will only dive straight in and make a mess of your house. Yan Junxun, reject him quickly. Don’t fall for this pervert’s trap! Su Heting only needed to think about how Shi Shanyan could see the team dogs’ information when he was in Black Panther and he could feel his hair standing on ends. However, he was destined to be disappointed. Yan Junxun’s serial number could not be used, and the communicator-navigator that Jiang Lian gave could be listened in by the lunatic any time. Yan Junxun needed this serial number. Shi Shanyan could not be any more clearer about this.
“Fine, then.” Su Heting comforted himself. In any case, he wasn’t the one being invaded. “Let me see. What information do you want?”
“When did the lunatic first appear in Tingbo District?” Yan Junxun had the feeling that it was all Shi Shanyan’s scent on his T-shirt. He had only just put his hand into his trouser pocket when Shi Shanyan handed him a cigarette from the side.
Yan Junxun thought of refusing; he wanted to quit smoking. That was what he thought so in his mind, but his fingers, which were in his pocket, involuntarily scraped the side of his leg.
“That’s a little hard. Who the hell knows when he came. I might not necessarily be able to find out…” Su Heting tapped away on his keyboard as he spoke.
All of a sudden, Shi Shanyan slightly lowered his fingers that were holding the cigarette. He inclined his head to look at Yan Junxun, as though he was trapping Yan Junxun in the narrow driver’s seat. The sounds of Su Heting speaking reverberated in their ears. Yan Junxun saw Shi Shanyan mouthed, “Not smoking?”
Yan Junxun slowly rubbed the side of his leg with his fingertips and felt a little itch through his denim jeans. It did not take long for him to answer Shi Shanyan: Nope.
Shi Shanyan put the cigarette in his mouth and bit down on it. He said something, but Yan Junxun could not read his lips.
“… Can you provoke him? By doing this, he will pop out once again. There’s just too little information now. I can help you to lower your system’s defenses and you can send his ancestors a little ‘greeting’…”
Shi Shanyan knew that Yan Junxun did not get it, so it was with understanding that he came closer once again until he was almost touching Yan Junxun’s ear, “Lend me a lighter.”
This warm breath lingered on Yan Junxun’s ear, and the residual heat worked its way down along the base of his ear, stirring that ambiguous itch into a tempestuous storm that raged through his body. In a flash, many thoughts ran through Yan Junxun’s mind. He had received sex education before, but he was not that very interested. What was there to anticipate about human reproduction exercises? Orgasm would make one lose control, and Yan Junxun was always losing control of his thoughts every day. He hated losing control.
Stay away from me.
Alarm was blaring in Yan Junxun’s mind. He wanted to return to a safe location. The little blackboard, Artemis, Huo Qingjun—anything was fine. Hurry up and divert his attention! Yan Junxun thought of the sound of rain. That was an acoustic shield that made him unhappy. But all he could think of was the sound of Shi Shanyan swallowing water.
“You should go to the Inspection Bureau to discuss with Jiang Lian. I think they will have information on hand that you can use. But it’s hard if you’re thinking of catching the lunatic; information about him is all in bits and pieces.” Su Heting rapped on the communicator as he spoke. “Give me a little reaction, bros. Are you guys listening?”
“Got it.” Yan Junxun took his hand out and gripped the steering wheel. Without looking at Shi Shanyan, he said, “Setting out now.”
There was the taste of tobacco on the tip of Shi Shanyan’s tongue. He tasted only a little of it, but it was enough. He was very well-acquainted with the ways of hunting. Never press in so closely on the target’s heels; it was also important to make gradual progress, one step at a time.
Today was a good opportunity, in every sense of the word.
Shi Shanyan knew part of Yan Junxun’s data like the back of his hand. The special forces mission appraisals were right. Yan Junxun was unable to adapt to dangerous missions. His body was unusually sensitive to temperature. This kind of weather could make him sweat, and he could not even remain inside the car with the air-conditioner on.
Heaven was fair. It gave this genius an extraordinary brain, yet it also put him in a perpetual state of work all the time. He was rarely able to rest, and sleep was a problem. Who could endure his train of thoughts constructing various scenarios in his own brain every single moment without pause? It was inevitable for his body to be equally exhausted in the process.
Shi Shanyan was a sniper. He knew what the consequences of high-intensity concentration over a prolonged period were. Every single one of Yan Junxun’s expression could not escape his eyes. He even understood certain signals even better than Yan Junxun himself.
Stress, and mental pressure, had to be vented.
A pity Yan Junxun did not know how to vent. He did not know how to read himself at all. He knew some ways to let off steam, but he must not do so, because he could not guarantee that he would eventually recover his sanity.
See, this little genius might not even have jerked himself off yet~
AE86 is from Takumi Fujiwara’s Toyota AE86 in Initial D.
- Lead dogs vs. team dogs – for a refresher, see author’s note in chapter 21